Toughie 1577

Toughie No 1577 by Osmosis

Hints and tips by Gazza

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Thanks to Osmosis for an enjoyable Toughie. I proceeded steadily, though not that speedily, through the clues with the NE corner putting up the most resistance.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.

Across Clues

1a Fictional scientist, as read by Charlie after academic period (10)
QUATERMASS – start with a preposition meaning ‘as’ or ‘in the capacity of’ and add a charlie or pillock after an academic period. His ‘Experiment’ broadcast in 1953 is my earliest memory of watching TV and it frightened me to death – I was staying with my aunt for the Summer (we had no TV or even electricity at home).

6a Spiritual trip experienced by junkie primarily (4)
HADJ – a verb meaning experienced or underwent is followed by the primary letter of junkie.

9a Screenwriter‘s new picture protected by short warning sign (4,6)
ALAN PLATER – this is a scriptwriter who, amongst many other works, wrote for the groundbreaking ‘Z-Cars’ and ‘Softly, Softly’ series. N(ew) and a printed picture or illustration are contained in a warning of danger without its final letter.

10a Significance of the eighth hole? (4)
PITH – if the first hole is ‘*** A’ and the second is ‘*** B’ then the eighth must be …

12a Horse leads in race over at Newmarket (4)
ROAN – the leading letters of four words in the clue.

13a Cast on South Pacific perhaps dividing line (9)
WATERSHED – a past participle meaning cast or sloughed off comes after what the South Pacific is an example of.

15a United fans disrupted city in a perilous way (8)
UNSAFELY – string together the abbreviation for united, an anagram (disrupted) of FANS and a small city in Cambridgeshire.

16a Lent‘s over — see, bread is passed round (2,4)
ON LOAN – this was my last answer as I was well and truly fooled by ‘Lent’. Start with the abbreviation for over then insert an exclamation meaning see or behold into a type of bread.

18a Clothing label associated with regulars in Harrods (6)
TABARD – a small label is followed by regular letters from Harrods.

20a Italian road during depression lacking transport system (8)
MILANESE – a country road goes inside a word meaning depression or despair without the two-letter abbreviation for a mode of transport.

23a Nonconformist rubbish prison announced (9)
REFUSENIK – charade of a word for rubbish or garbage and what sounds like an informal word for prison.

24a Edmonds perhaps   presents show at this time (4)
NOEL – double definition, the second identifying the time of year when presents show up. This is a very clever clue because the first definition does tend to present programmes on our screens at this time.

26a Privy to remain, one gathers (2,2)
IN ON – hidden in the clue.

27a Her dispensing work might be in a mess (6,4)
DINNER LADY – cryptic definition – mess here is a place not a condition.

28a Unknown core feature of Chinese publication (4)
ZINE – a mathematical unknown followed by the core letters of Chinese.

29a Gas container? One’s often full of hot air (10)
CHATTERBOX – cryptic definition of someone who rabbits at length. Split 7,3 this could be a gas container. I don’t like this much – the gas and hot air are really the same thing.

Down Clues

1d Part of port and game queen repeatedly avoided (4)
QUAY – start with game or prey and remove the two occurrences of the abbreviation for queen.

2d Floored a jerk landing a left (2,1,4)
AT A LOSS – A and a verb to jerk (one’s head, say) contain A and L(eft).

3d Record whistling sound in retreat of leisure woodland area (6,6)
EPPING FOREST – string together an old record format, a sharp whistling sound, the reversal (in retreat) of OF and a word for leisure or recreation.

4d Folk restricting a water supply have good intentions (4,4)
MEAN WELL – a word meaning folk or people in general contains A. After that we need a source of water.

5d Labourer could get this site around West Yorkshire’s summit (6)
SWEATY – a site or main location contains the abbreviation for west, then we finish with the top letter of Yorkshire.

7d Report from mum in courtyard initially missing ring (1-6)
A-TISHOO – insert an order to keep quiet or mum inside a courtyard without its initial P. Finally add the ring-shaped letter.

8d Two private rooms churchman’s done up for singer (4,6)
JOHN DENVER – start with two rooms (4 and 3) (the first an informal, mainly US, word) for solitary occupation then reverse (done up) the abbreviated title of a clergyman.

11d Personal transmitter broadcasting clearer in van (7,5)
CRANIAL NERVE – an anagram (broadcasting) of CLEARER IN VAN.

14d Extremists gain result wielding it in battle (10)
AUSTERLITZ – the two extremists from our English alphabet contain an anagram (wielding, in the sense of exercising) of RESULT followed by IT. This is one of Napoleon’s most famous battles (and the name of a Paris railway terminus).

17d Wrong equipment stifles a French-style section of kitchen? (4,4)
SINK UNIT – join together a wrong or transgression and a word for equipment or gear then insert “A” in the French style.

19d Polish cooking involves duck and turkey (7)
BUFFOON – a verb to polish or burnish and an adverb meaning ‘currently being cooked’ contain the letter that resembles a duck at cricket. I didn’t know, prior to consulting the BRB, that turkey is a slang term for a fool.

21d Heard second person hit farm resident? (3-4)
EWE-LAMB – this sounds like a second-person pronoun and a verb to hit.

22d Improve centrepieces in Ben’s arid place of worship (6)
ENRICH – the central two letters from each of “Ben’s” and “arid” are followed by the abbreviation for a place of worship.

25d Nicky’s outside feeding huge rejected cat (4)
LYNX – put the outside letters of Nicky into a clothing size meaning huge then reverse it all.

I liked 6a and 16a but my favourite clue today is 24a (as long as I don’t have to watch him!). Which one(s) grabbed you?



  1. dutch

    Another great pangram from Osmosis – wasn’t able to use it to help the solve, except maybe adding confidence for the Q at 1a. I had not come across the fictional scientist nor the screenwriter, and I thought the sound that machines make wasn’t really a whistle, so NW was a rather tentative fill that needed google confirmation. The singer in 8d was a duh moment – brilliant clue. For some reason I was looking for a woman. I liked 16a, 20a, 26a, 27a, 2d, 5d, 25d and plenty more. Many thanks Osmosis and Gazza

  2. Hanni

    Quite relived that I’m not the only one that was held up in the NE, not helped by the fact that I had not heard of the writer at 9a.

    Missed the hidden in 26a (no surprise there). 1a only went in after I had got 1d.

    Lots to like including 16a and 3d. Favourite goes to 6a. Great clue.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for great blog as always.

  3. Una

    Never having heard of the scientist nor the screen writer, I found this pretty difficult.
    However , I liked the rest of it , in particular 23a, 6a, 4d and 21d (which put me in mind of Kaths offspring) .
    Thanks Gazza and Osmosis.

  4. Kitty

    Very enjoyable puzzle of a good level of difficulty (i.e. not beyond me – woohoo!). I did notice the pangram for once, and it helped. For me as for others, the SE half went in much more readily than the NW. I was held up for quite a while right in the first corner: the (unknown to me) fictional character and real screenwriter took some digging up. As usual for the Toughie I had to look up a few bits (and looked up a few that it turned out I could have managed by myself) but am simply happy that I untangled everything right.

    My list of likes would be long so I’ll keep it general and just repeat that I liked the whole thing very much.

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for yet another top-quality review.

  5. ShropshireLad

    Very enjoyable offering from Osmosis. Like Dutch – when ‘quay’ / ‘q********s’ & ‘hadj’ came up, the pangram radar went haywire. Therefore I was so disappointed when I couldn’t see a ‘G’ to complete it. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees – D’oh.

    I vaguely remember the writer at 9a although I remember the TV shows more. However, the clue was totally fair as the answer was there from the word play.

    Thanks to Osmosis for the excellent puzzle and to Gazza for his equally excellent review.

  6. halcyon

    Like Gazza I have fond memories of being scared s…less by 1a [Q Experiment; Q Two and Q and the Pit – all available on DVD] but the NW corner was still the last to be completed – largely because until I twigged 1a I wanted the forest to be Alpine [LP rather than EP record]. Great fun and a good challenge as usual from Osmosis.
    Faves were 27a, 4d [superb – every word spot on and not a single superfluous letter] and 19d [where I was sure that Polish would be the def].

    Many thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza, not least for explaining 10a.

  7. jean-luc cheval

    Did remember Professor Bernard in 1a but the screenwriter in 9a was new to me. Couldn’t get Alan Parker out of my head.
    The singer in 8d was also unknown. Had a girlfriend once who looked just like him. Scary.
    For 20 , I managed to write “milanesery” even though it went further than the grid. Would like that word to exist.
    Last one in was 5d. Tried to scan the whole of Yorkshire to find a site around a mountain which might also be something that happens to a labourer. The closest I got to was “svelte” which didn’t make any sense.
    Didn’t notice the pangram.
    Thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for the review.

    • ShropshireLad

      Hi J-L

      With regard to your comment for 20a – you’re straying into ‘miffypopology’ thesis territory. Be careful – it’s a dark place.

      • Hanni

        Under Miffypopology, I think that one is called the Santorini rule. could work for something.

        • Kitty

          MP has written a book of these rules.

          Unfortunately he chopped it up to make it more portable, and the effect that had on its legibility is as you might expect …

      • Hanni

        Quiet awhile ago I think…I seem to remember it not being too tricky. Not too tricky as I recall. Was it one of his the Bufo gave a half star difficulty to?

        • ShropshireLad

          One I can find was reviewed by Toro on January 12th this year – just before the Birthday Bash. We were all into ‘lush’ then :)

  8. Miffypops

    A real alphabet zoo of a puzzle for which I needed Gazzas help for every answer. Whilst on the subject of zoos did you know that all female Koala Bears kept in captivity will become ardent lesbians. Google it if you dare.

    • Hanni

      Whilst I know that the cemetarys in Coventry are not over run with monkeys, something about Southam and a giant zulu and that lightening holes and book cutting are real things, I am not googling lesbian Koala Bears in captivity.

      Apart from the fact I just have.

  9. Expat Chris

    I came late to the toughie today and have barely got into it, so I’m not even reading the comments let alone the hints. I just popped in to sing the praises of one Big Dave, who has been supplying me with the DT puzzles over the past six days while I have been trying to sort out why I was shut out of my Telegraph account immediately after my subscription was automatically renewed. With the site issues, not to mention Storm Katy, he has still found time to help me out. He is 24 carat gold in my book.

  10. Jane

    Oh dear – did I fall down on this one. Four clues I didn’t ever sort out – 9,10,20& 28a. I’m blaming it on a busy day but that’s probably not remotely true.
    I did enjoy the rest of the ride (nope, didn’t get round to spotting the pangram) and would give my top spots to 16&27a plus ( with apologies to Gazza) 29a.

    Thanks to Osmosis for putting me firmly back in my place and many thanks to Gazza for showing me the way. How you got 10a is quite beyond me! Also, thanks for the Dinner Ladies clip – what a team they made.

  11. Heno

    Thanks to Osmosis and to Gazza for the review and hints. I enjoyed what I could do, but it was above my standard. Managed to get 1a&d without being able to parse either. Needed 12 hints to finish. Favourite was 8d, which I actually solved. Missed the pangram. Very entertaining.

  12. Jon_S

    Now that was a proper Toughie. Last ones in 20ac and 14d. 9ac had to be ALAN somebody, but that somebody I’d never heard of, unfortunately. Suspected there was probably a pangram, but didn’t need it to finish, and having got all the most unusual letters already, I’m not sure it could have helped.

  13. Expat Chris

    I never did get 14D or 28A, whatever that is. 1A is also one of my earliest TV memories, watching on a tiny little screen and being scared out of my wits. I got 8A fom the checking letters and I don’t understand the hint at all. Thanks to Osmosis and Gazza.

    • Gazza

      There’s no 8a. If you mean 8d it’s JOHN + DEN (two private rooms) + VER (rev reversed).

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