NTSPP – 371 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 371

NTSPP – 371

A Puzzle by Alchemi

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

An enjoyable puzzle that revolved around the answer to 27 Across.  The one thing that came across to me was that only the film featuring 12 Across has come anywhere near surviving the test of time.


1a Actor keen about Greek island retreat (5,7)
PETER CUSHING: An adjective meaning keen around the reversal (retreat) of a Greek island

8a Cocaine distributed like a lot of water (7)
OCEANIC: an anagram (distributed) of COCAINE

9a Order instrument shortened by cleaning facility (7)
BATHTUB: an order of chivalry followed by most of a musical instrument

11a Study on European prime minister (4)
EDEN: a study preceded by (on in an across clue) E(uropean)

12a Previously unknown institute stops one castrating actor (4,6)
GENE WILDER: a three-letter adjective meaning “previously unknown” and I(nstitute) inside (stops) one who castrates, for example, horses

14a Did garden have special dances? (8)
HOEDOWNS: A charade of a verbs meaning did the garden and to have or possess then S(pecial)

15a Minds apparently rubbish artist getting awards finally (6)
BRAINS: if our usual artist is found in the trash can then he will apparently be rubbish – just add the final letter of [award]S

18a Very big openings for internet programmers in basic software plants (6)
OXLIPS: two letters that represent very big in clothing sizes and the initial letters (openings) of I[nternet] P[rogrammers] inside the basic software found on most computers

19a Pretty American takes dandy round for a drink (3,2,3)
CUP OF TEA: a four-letter adjective meaning pretty and A(merican) around the reversal (takes … round) of a dandy

21a One making fun of depravity in China (3,7)
TEA SERVICE: someone who makes fun of others followed by some depravity

23a Self bearing being under the weather (4)
WILL: A compass bearing followed by an adjective meaning under the weather

25a Turned out better chat keeping current (7)
NATTIER: a verb meaning to chat around (keeping) the symbol for electric current

26a Legal official‘s conditional introduction in fresh trouble (7)
SHERIFF: put a two-letter conditional word inside (introduction) an anagram (trouble) of FRESH

27a Part played by all of 1A, 7, 10 and 12 – 9 fans trek out (12)
FRANKENSTEIN: the part plated by each of these actors is an anagram (out) of NINE (9) FANS TREK:

1A in no less than six Hammer films starting with the Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and ending with Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974),

7d in Lady Frankenstein (1971)

10d in Frankenstein 1970 (1958) – I wasn’t the only one to miss this one, where he played the man himself

12a in Young Frankenstein (1974)


1d Detective starts to examine clues eating dinner for one bit by bit (9)
PIECEMEAL: a Private Investigator (detective) followed by the initial letters of (starts to) three words in the clue followed by the type of repast of which dinner is an example (for one)

2d Miniature artist in yellow clothes (4)
TINY: hidden (clothes) inside the clue

3d Biblical text about about about about earlier coward (8)
RECREANT: a biblical text preceded by four words or abbreviations (2,1,2,1) meaning “about” – my take on this varied from the setters explanation in that I had RE (about) and CA (about) around (about) RE (about)

4d Some in Herculaneum blessed deer’s entrails (6)
UMBLES: hidden (some) inside the clue

5d Excessively popular rector comes in to kick cat’s uncomfortable spot (3,3,4)
HOT TIN ROOF: a three-letter abbreviation meaning excessively, a two-letter word meaning popular and R(ector) inside a verb meaning to kick (like a mule) – the answer is an allusion to a Tennessee Williams play

6d Set off not worried about being famous (5)
NOTED: start with a verb meaning to set off an explosive device, drop the ATE (worried) and reverse (about) what remains

7d Actor surprisingly ejects photon (6,6)
JOSEPH COTTEN: the only one of today’s four actors that is clued as an anagram – surprisingly EJECTS PHOTON

10d Smell danger initially after rudely lampooning rotten actor (5,7)
BORIS KARLOFF: a two-letter abbreviated smell followed by some danger, the initial letters of three words in the clue and an adjective meaning rotten

13d Police officer accepting money to admit nothing in the end (10)
COMPLETION: a three-letter police officer around (accepting) M(oney) and a phrasal verb meaning to admit (3,2) around (in) O (nothing)

16d What student is feeling (9)
INTUITION: split as (2,7) this describes the status of a student

17d Nationalist causes somehow absorb the first of three weirdoes (8)
NUTCASES: N(ationalist) followed by an anagram (somehow) of CAUSES around (absorb) the initial letter (first) of T[here]

20d Opposed someone heartless, say, going earlier (6)
AVERSE: drop the internal letters (heartless) from S[omeon]E and precede what remains (going earlier) with a verb meaning to say or state

22d Following sillier director leaving (5)
AFTER: drop (leaving) D(irector) from an adjective meaning sillier

24d No more than writer engineers (4)
MERE: the first person objective pronoun (writer) followed by some military engineers

20 comments on “NTSPP – 371

  1. Very enjoyable with a theme related to someone who’s now reached the age of 200 – thanks Alchemi. There are lots of excellent clues – I’ll just mention 15a, 21a and 5d.

  2. Loved it, Alchemi – even if a couple of the ‘players’ did come as something of a surprise.
    My particular choice for top clues was 21a&16d.

    More soon, please.

    1. This started out as a slightly different theme, but then I discovered that another actor didn’t in fact do what that theme suggested. Then I found out that 10 had done something I didn’t think he had (and neither did our illustrious editor) and that someone else with 12 letters in their name had as well, and so I came up with this instead.

  3. Many thanks Alchemi, a joy. I must admit I tend to sigh when i see a lot of clue interdependencies, but i was soon hooked. Oddly enough, 10d gave me the theme and the answer to 27a – I say oddly enough because i didn’t think 10d played that particular role – and i’m not sure whether the discussion in comment 2 already covers that.

    There were a couple of clues where it took me quite a while to see the right parsing (19a – i was using american wrongly, and trying to use the ‘a’ in the clue, and 1d, thrown by ‘eating’ and ‘for one’ but now see how it works, 18a, since the answer has two versions of ‘very big’ and i was focussing on the wrong one) – all great stuff

    23a was devious, had to remember the theme to get it – great clue

    I’m still missing something in the parsing of 6d, and wondering about the cryptic grammar in 17d – absorbing would have worked for me

    I particularly enjoyed 12a, 14a, 15a, 19a, 21a, 23a, 2d, 16d

    Congratulations and thanks again

  4. Having solved 7D early, but not yet 27A, and putting in the obvious (with two of the checkers in place) first word of 1A, I thought I had twigged the theme and so put the wrong second word in for 1A. I wonder if that’s the direction you were initially going in, Alchemi? Soon sorted once 27A revealed itself. 15A,10D and 16D all tickled my fancy but 5D takes top spot. Thanks Alchemi. This was fun.

  5. It took us ages to get a toehold on this one, but eventually we got a couple of the themed answers and managed to pick up momentum. 7d was one we had not heard of and needed Google assistance to confirm. Very clever, challenging and fun.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  6. Alchemi strikes again!
    My first read through of all the clues yielded about five answers but I know better than to give up at that stage with an Alchemi puzzle.
    I confess that the rest of it has taken me a very long time but it’s damp and not nice in Oxford so why not?
    I’m not good on actors and although that’s not relevant I have no idea why my 1a is right – dim again.
    Most of my last answers were in the bottom left corner.
    Too many wonderful clues to mention them all so just a few are 19 and 23a and 2d (took me ages to see but made me laugh) and 16d. My favourite was 5d – loved it.
    With thanks to Alchemi and, in advance, to whoever is doing the review whenever that may be.

  7. Thanks Alchemi; nice setting and some excellent clues.

    I was going to complain about the role in 10 until I saw your comment above.

    I particularly liked 5, 19 and 21.

  8. I always enjoy Alchemi.
    The fourth actor in 12a was last to fall. Never knew he played the part.
    The indirect anagram in 27a didn’t bother me.
    Thanks for the fun.

  9. I really enjoyed this. The theme was very well conceived and the cluing was spot on throughout, I thought. Hard to pick a favourite, but I’ll mention 5D 15A, 10D, 12A, 16D. Thanks, Alchemi.

  10. Many thanks for the review, BD. Having never seen the 1974 ‘young’ version, I find it very hard to envisage 12a in the role!

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