DT 29140 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29140

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29140

Hints and tips by Mr K

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BD Rating  -  Difficulty **** Enjoyment ***

Hello everyone.  I found today's puzzle tricky, in part because it required some general knowledge that I didn't have stored away.  If you're looking for another crosswording challenge, there's always this week's Not the Saturday Prize Puzzle.  The setter (me) would appreciate feedback on it.  Comments so far suggest it's probably a 4* puzzle, but there's a nice review by Prolixic to provide hints if you get stuck.

Thanks to everyone who filled out my survey on last week's puzzle.  The results and a selection of the comments are available after the hints.

In the hints below most indicators are italicized, and underlining identifies precise definitions and cryptic definitions.  Clicking on the boo! buttons will reveal the answers.  In some hints hyperlinks provide additional explanation or background.  Clicking on a picture will enlarge it or display a bonus illustration.  Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.



1a    Honest claim about bandit? (4,7)
SLOT MACHINE:  An anagram (about) of HONEST CLAIM gives a 'bandit' who's found in all the major dictionaries as part of a phrase beginning 'one-armed'

9a    Leaderless miners confused with pros and cons (9)
PRISONERS:  An anagram (confused) of [m]INERS PROS, with leaderless indicating deletion of the first letter of miners

10a   A grand on European match (5)
AGREE:  Concatenate A from the clue, the single letter for grand, the usual short word for on or concerning, and the single letter for European

11a   At home, doctor gets drink (6)
INGEST:  The usual short word for at home with an anagram (doctor …) of GETS

12a   Scorsese perhaps joining Spielberg film, 'The Disciplinarian' (8)
MARTINET:  Scorsese perhaps defines by example the first name of Scorsese the filmmaker.  He's joined by a Spielberg film that often supplies the alien whenever a clue requires one

13a   Some visit Argentina, returning for free (6)
GRATIS:  The answer is found hiding as some of the reversal (returning) of the remainder of the clue

15a   Seventies pop duo avoiding sand in northern town (8)
PETERLEE:  A clue to sort the foreigners from the locals.  Deleting SAND (… avoiding sand) from the name of a seventies pop duo that I'd never heard of gives the name of a town in Co Durham that I'd never heard of

18a   Service stations might be here, incidentally (2,3,3)
BY THE WAY:  Taken literally, the answer could describe where service stations might be found

19a   One in five love a superfood (6)
QUINOA:  Put together an informal word for one item from a set of five (babies, perhaps), the letter that looks like a love score in tennis, and A from the clue.  Are there any superfoods that actually taste good?

21a   Famous swimmer crosses river going to 'The Queen' for drink (8)
SPRITZER:  An American swimmer famous for winning seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympics containing (crossing) the map abbreviation for river is followed by the usual Latin abbreviation for the Queen

23a   Traitorous person with support for the arts? (6)
WEASEL:  Stick together the single letter abbreviation for 'with' and a support used by an artist

26a   Chew piece of meat outside entrance to McDonald's (5)
CHOMP:  A piece of meat with a rib in it containing (outside) the first letter of (entrance to) McDonald's

27a   On  hand (9)
OPERATIVE:  A double definition.  On or running, and a hand or worker with special skills

28a   Part agreement to accommodate return of Italian trade union (11)
CONSTITUENT:  Agreement or permission containing (to accommodate) both the reversal of (return of) the abbreviation for Italian and the obvious abbreviation for trade union



1d    Little box? (7)
SAPLING:  A cryptic definition.  Box here refers not to a container but to a type of tree

2d    Topless broadcasting is due (5)
OWING:  A synonym of broadcasting (seeds, perhaps) minus its first letter (topless)

3d    Still produce  nonsense (9)
MOONSHINE:  A double definition.  The liquid produced by a still is also another word for nonsense

4d    Cook revolutionary food for starter (4)
CHEF:  The usual Argentinian revolutionary with the first letter of (… for starter) of Food

5d    Extremely cool suit (2,6)
IN SPADES:  A usual word for cool or fashionable with a playing card suit

6d    Pass a law bringing woman to court (5)
ENACT:  A woman's name currently popular in crosswordland is followed by the two-letter abbreviation for court

7d    Struggle to get a grip? (7)
WRESTLE:  A cryptic definition.  The struggle involves getting a grip on an opponent.  It takes place on a mat.

8d    Force detailed bugging US statesman (8)
FRANKLIN:  The physics symbol for force with all but the last letter (de-tailed …) of bugging or irritating

14d   Article involved rioter at the front (8)
ANTERIOR:  Cement together a grammatical article and an anagram (involved) of RIOTER

16d   Former drivers meeting worker could be lively (9)
EXUBERANT:  Stitch together the usual short word for former, a company that connects freelance drivers with passengers, and the usual worker insect

17d   Country's former leader wearing nothing? On the contrary! (8)
CAMEROON:  On the contrary instructs us to reverse the wordplay, so we want the letter that looks like zero or nothing contained in (wearing) a former leader of the UK who famously once forgot his daughter when leaving a pub

18d   Splits reported according to religious groups (7)
BISECTS:  A homophone (reported) of a short word meaning 'according to' and some religious groups

20d   Email mentioned housing complaint (7)
AILMENT:  The first two words of the clue are hiding (housing) the answer

22d   Head in charge of subject (5)
TOPIC:  Follow head or summit with the abbreviation for 'in charge'

24d   Nick cleans top to bottom? The opposite (5)
SWIPE:  The opposite tells that a synonym of cleans has its last (bottom) letter moved to the start (top)

25d   Encounter with side heard to be on the way up (4)
MEET:  The reversal (… to be on the way up) of a homophone (… heard) of a side or collection of participants


Thanks to today’s setter.  My favourite clue was 3d.  Which clues did you like best?


Click on the expandable spoiler boxes to see the results of each question in the survey.  The questions refer to last Tuesday's puzzle DT 29134, which I rated as less difficult than the Tuesday average.  Clicking on a graph will enlarge it.

1. What aids, if any, did you use when filling the grid on this puzzle?

45% of respondents used aids to fill the grid

2. What aids, if any, did you use when parsing the answers in this puzzle?

30% of respondents used aids to parse the clues

3. How long did you spend solving this puzzle?

The graph shows the cumulative distribution of solving times for solvers who provided a time.  The median solving time (the 50% point in the distribution) is about 40 minutes.

4. What difficulty rating do you feel would be appropriate for this puzzle?

Most solvers agreed with my difficulty rating of 2*

5. What is the maximum solving time associated with your personal 1* difficulty rating?

Commenters' 1* solving times stretch from a few minutes to over an hour.  This graph shows the cumulative distribution of the responses.

6. On average, do you post more than one comment per week on the blog?

Most of the responses were provided by lurkers, with only 19% of responses coming from readers who comment at least once a week.

7. Comments about the topics covered by this survey

I read and appreciated all of the comments.  Most of them fell into two categories:

1.  Reactions to the way in which the puzzles are described by some commenters (who I am sure do not intend to cause these responses in their fellow solvers):

  • 'I think some comments are quite boastful but when someone says they are struggling then many are very supportive...'
  • 'All the euphemisms for solving time - canters, gallops, cups of coffee, pints of beer etc etc - are silly and boring'
  • 'Reduce the bragging....it is creeping in again and is very discouraging to not so good solvers.  The comments like "we're not allowed to say this" meaning using phrases like "walk in the park" or "read and write" are also irritating as it is perfectly obvious what is meant.'
  • 'I don't like the clever clogs constantly posting comments about how easy a puzzle is…'
  • 'When people indicate that the puzzle was too easy, it makes those still solving feel rather stupid. I don’t worry about that, and will readily admit to being beaten, as I feel it helps those also struggling but who would be reluctant to say so'
  • 'I’m sometimes made to feel lacking in knowledge which discourages me.'
  • 'Not sure how you would do this but I feel there should be more encouragement for those new to crossword land. Many of your commenters seem to be seasoned crossworders.'
  • 'Perhaps less of the apparent smugness of some commentators such as **** …'
  • 'Could you politely convey to certain people that saying "that thing we are not supposed to say" is still saying that thing?!!'


2.  Appreciation for the site:

  • 'I think it’s all brilliant, I enjoy the discussions and banter that break out'
  • 'Blogs are great, and I enjoy reading the comments, just that by the time I usually get around to solving everyone else had commented long ago!'
  • 'I am a lurker but love the blog and read daily most if not all the comments. It is most informative in providing advice on how to solve and also the nature of those others who participate in solving.'
  • 'Thank you to Big Dave and chums'
  • 'Love this site'
  • 'I just love reading the blog.  I have learnt so much.  And of course still learning.  So grateful to all the bloggers and for all the hints and tips'
  • 'Thank you for being here. Last resort at the end of the day but you enable me to sleep at night'
  • 'I love Big Dave!'
  • 'Great Blog, reading it forms part of my day.'
  • 'Keep up the good work…'

Thanks again to everyone who responded to the survey.  I hope that you find the results interesting.


The Quick Crossword pun:  WARREN + PIECE = WAR AND PEACE

161 comments on “DT 29140

  1. I too found this a bit tricky, and my solve time was a solid ****. The compiler seems to have a diet problem, as food and drink are featured in at least 6 clues, that I could see.

    COTD has to be the lovely 15a. Luckily I knew both the duo and the town.

    Many thanks to the setter and Mr. K.

  2. I agree with your rating of ****/*** Mr K and thank you for confirming a few clues that were difficult to parse. I found the GK element over done.8d irritated me as I find clues relating to mid 20th century entertainers unfair to younger crossworders. This duo were short-lived and quite obscure so I barely remembered them myself. 1d and19a were enjoyable so thanks to the setter for those.

  3. Excellent and enjoyable challenge with the “pop group” holding out the longest and my COTD when grasped .

    Thanks for the survey results , surprised that there are so many not contributing although I was one for far too long .

    Thanks to everyone

    1. Hi, KFB. In the first survey that I did, only 7% of the responses came from regular commenters. But the majority of the blog readership doesn’t comment and doesn’t respond to surveys. We know this because this particular blog has now been up for less than four hours and it has already been viewed over 2000 times but it has only 28 comments.

  4. A lovely puzzle with 15 across as my clue of the day. Thanks to the setter and thanks also to Mr K; not just for today’s blog, but also for his work on the survey and publishing the results . . . . I have to say that I am in awe of those who claim they can solve in under 10 minutes – I wish I could read and write that quickly :-)

  5. I thought that the puzzle was rather different to what we usually get on Tuesdays and I enjoyed solving it (though if I were a lot younger or not from the UK I would probably have been annoyed at 15a). My top clues were 27a, 5d and 24d.
    Thanks to our setter and Mr K.

    There’s a lovely puzzle from our own Silvanus in the Toughie slot.

    1. Annoyed to say the least.
      Tried everything I remembered.
      Chas and Dave, Renée and Renato, Sonny and Cher, Simon and Garfunkel, even Brahms and Liszt. Never got it as I wasn’t sure about 5 and 7d.
      Thanks to the setter and to Mr K for the review.
      Agree about the toughie.

      1. I wasn’t annoyed, it’s a Brit puzzle after all, but I did think the obscurity was a little unfair. My knowledge of pop groups is pretty abysmal, apart from the Beatles and Rolling Stones, but that’s my lack of knowledge, maybe I should have paid more attention!

      2. I was annoyed too. In my view, requiring obscure GK for both the wordplay and the definition is going too far.

    2. Annoyed perfectly describes our feelings about 15a.
      A clue like this might be acceptable in a puzzle published in a parish newsletter, but surely not in one that has solvers from all parts of the UK as well as a considerable international distribution too.

  6. 4*/3*. I found this tough for a Tuesday back-pager but mostly enjoyable. I agree with Mr K’s comments about the GK required but fortunately for me I knew what was needed.
    I suspected a pangram but, unless I should have gone to Specsavers, I couldn’t spot a J.
    My joint favourites were 27a & 5d.
    Many thanks to Mr Ron and Mr K, not only for the review but also for the very interesting survey results.

    P.S. I second Gazza’s recommendation to try today’s Silvanus Toughie.

  7. last one in for me was 17d former leader? how soon we forget.
    thanks to Mr K for publishing the survey results.

  8. I agree with the ratings as I ended up needing help with 4 or 5. They weren’t unreasonable clues, but just rather difficult synonyms for the most part (27a).

    I loved 12, 19 and 21a.
    I worked out that the ‘and’ bit of ‘sand’ was probably between the two names, but I have no idea why it popped into my head. It’s taking up a cell in my brain that I need for something I really need to remember.
    Because they were dire…….reminds me of The Mighty Wind, which I watched last night.

    Anyway, there were a couple of limp clues (boxes are so slow growing, you can hardly imagine a 1d and would certainly not describe it as such) but on the whole it was quite a lot of fun.

  9. Left hand side went in a lot quicker than the right, which was a bit of a slog. 15a favourite. Ta to all.

  10. Apart from the famous American swimmer and the 70s pop duo, which spoiled the enjoyment and slowed down the solving time, not too many problems – ***/**.
    Candidates for favourite – 12a, 18a, and 16d – and the winner is 12a.
    Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

  11. Thanks to Mr K for the survey results, which were interesting.
    How many responses did you get altogether?
    Is the 20:80 split of regulars/lurkers representative, do you think, or just that particular survey?
    It’s a pity that so many feel scared of posting, because, on the whole, I don’t think any bloggers or posters on here would try to make someone feel inadequate. I’d encourage them to do more, even if they just comment on the clues they liked or on other topics. No one needs, ever, to give any rating and it’s anonymous anyway. It’s not like social media and luckily, BD is not making us post a selfie of actually doing the puzzle…….. cue early rising to accommodate pouting, eyebrow-shaping and a pre-puzzle cycle ride.

    I think it’s probably the case that the majority of us who can post in the middle of the day are semi or wholly retired. I marvel at the energy of those who are still working and can manage to fit in a crossword at the beginning, middle or end of the working day, as I certainly couldn’t have.

    1. Hi, Bluebird. This survey got almost 200 responses. That total and the fraction of responses from lurkers are both lower than I would expect, which I suspect is due to a 2* puzzle bringing in less traffic than normal. See my response to KFB @3 above for a link to something more representative.

      We also know from another survey that 60% of the readership is retired.

      I agree that nobody here tries to make anybody feel inadequate. But some of the comments on the survey indicated that a few of the commenting cliches for an untroubled solve can have that effect. I would love to see more lurkers de-lurk and comment to tell us about their experience with the puzzle, ask questions about clues, relate how they got into cryptics, tell us about the weather and goings-on in their part of the world, etc.

      How about it, lurkers?

      1. I got into cryptic crosswords as a young teenager sitting next to my dad and asking ‘how did you get that’ over & over as he did the DT cryptic. It was then my pre-bedtime relaxation for many, many years, and still is, at age 71.

        1. Hello, Edward. Thanks for sharing that great story. I’d wondered how new solvers figured out cryptics before the days of sites this this one.

          1. I learnt at boarding school aged I suppose 13 or so watching seniors puzzling over and discussing the DT crossword which was pinned up in the common room. Luckily they explained rather than made fun of we juniors. Great fun and still love it at 70+!%
            Still a lurker!

            1. Welcome from me too, Southammer, and thanks for sharing your story and providing one answer to my question. I hope that now you’re no longer a lurker you’ll continue to post comments from time to time.

    2. I disagree…I lurk now and very rarely post as I got fed up reading “another easy puzzle”, “over far to quickly”, “would prefer a stiffer challenge”, when I found the puzzle beyond me. Posting to that effect, just makes me look stupid.
      That said, I love reading the blog every day and am full of admiration for the bloggers.

      1. Hi, Hoofit,

        I’m saddened to read that. I always thought those comments of yours that you’re referring to made you look honest and brave, not stupid. I’m sure I’m not alone in admiring you for that.

        Last week’s puzzle had quite a few of those “over too soon” comments, yet the data shows that many solvers were reaching for aids and taking rather a long time to complete the puzzle. And even the faster solving times were not, in my opinion, fast enough to warrant that description for the puzzle. The boasting is not justified.

        I hope you’ll reconsider and continue posting about your experiences with the puzzles.

      2. Oh, Hoofit, say it isn’t so! I enjoy your posts so much, you’re part of our “clan”, BusyLizzie, you and I, those who are “slow” and willing to admit it. Please reconsider. We’ll see you tomorrow I hope,

      3. My sentiments too Hoofs. We joined the blog at about the same time & often share similar views. To me today there were two Toughies & I consider todays setter missed the point of a backpager.
        I expect some days I will not finish & admire the reviewer and the setter when they give me a “doh why didn’t I see that” moment. But clues like 15a where you need to know an obscure pop group coupled with an obscure small New Town just make me feel why bother?
        As always thank you Mr K your review I enjoyed the puzzle I did not. Also a thank you to the reviewers you all, in your own style, give many of us insight into how to solve cryptics long may you continue.

        1. I’m sorry that so many people found 15a spoilt the crossword (and it made Mr K grumpy), and I can see how it’d be virtually impossible for those not from the UK … but I’m glad the setter and editor included it.

          Different solvers are going to appreciate different crosswords. There are plenty of days when I can’t get anywhere with the crossword, or feel it’s full of obscure things that are way out of my knowledge. And that’s OK, so long as there are others who do appreciate those crosswords.

          I’m very much at the ‘struggling’† end of solvers (I’ve only once managed a compete crossword without needing any hints here or ‘reveal letter’), and 15a made it for me today. It was my first in, and put such a smile on my face that I felt this was a crossword worth persevering with, despite the 15 other clues I’d just tried and failed to work out before getting to that one.

          So I’d be disappointed not to have had that experience.

          If crosswords stopped including clues like that, it may mean more solvers can complete them, but it also removes some of the fun for those who do happen to be in a position to solve them.

          † I originally wrote ‘novice’, but I’ve been struggling with crosswords (enjoyably so) for quite a while, so that feels unfair on those who are much newer to it. It may be that ‘struggler’ simply is my level.

          PS: In case anybody is unaware, in the northern English city of Sheffield there’s a method of public transport branded as Supertram, and there’s an English 1970s rock group called Supertramp. So if the setter pulls this trick again, we can all be ready for them …

          1. To me 15a was a Toughie type clue made more difficult (deliberately by the setter) as Perterlee is a North Eastern town describing it as such would be more satisfactory . It has neither historical nor econonomic significance. That it was linked with 8d where a US President was described as a statesman. Both clues would have benfitted with the more prescriptive definition for the backpager
            I have been doing the crossword now for over 50 years & am used to failure. However there are too many people who are saying they had heard of neither component (including the reviewer) of 8d to make it a good clue.

            1. Hi, LrOK, good to see you on the site again. When I wrote the hints I was surprised that 15a got past the editor, and I still feel that requiring fairly specialised general knowledge to understand both the wordplay and the definition makes it unfair. But I’ve also been surprised by how many readers loved it. Evidently if one had that GK at hand, it was an excellent clue. I suppose that explains how it made it to publication.

              Good point too about the intersecting 8d also requiring general knowledge, in that case from across the pond. Benjamin Franklin is so well-known for his association with the birth of the USA that many people outside the US assume that he served as President, but he didn’t. He was a US ambassador to France, so US statesman is an accurate definition. That I did know. On the other hand, I was surprised by Smyler’s description of Supertramp because I was sure they were an American group. So I’ve learned something today.

              I do hope that you’ll keep commenting.

              1. Mr Franklin is also well known, or at least he ought to be very well known for inventing the lightning conductor.

                1. Indeed. Of course these days the Health and Safety people would never let you fly a kite in a thunderstorm.

                  Franklin made many important contributions to physics, especially to electromagnetism. He is the reason why we say today that electrons are negatively charged. In his time experiments with static electricity involving rubbing objects together showed that there were two types of electric charge. He arbitrarily decided to call the charge state of cat fur that had rubbed something “positive” and that of the rubbed object “negative”. It was later found that a rubbed cat exerts an attractive force on electrons, and so the charge state of the electron is negative.

  12. Thanks Mr K and Setter.

    Totally switched off after about 20 minutes. Sorry but found very little enjoyment in this even after a break and completing in a ***** time.

    Found a few clues tenuous including 15, 23 a @ 5 d.

    Love the survey, so I missed it

  13. I had trouble with the intersecting 27a/17d and am ashamed to admit how long I took to twig that 1a was an anagram. Fortunately, I didn’t have a problem with 15a although, like Bluebird, I’ve no idea how the name of the duo surfaced from the old grey matter.

    Have to give 1a a place on the podium and will put the extremely cool suit alongside it.

    Thanks to our setter for an enjoyable solve and to Mr K for his review and the always eagerly anticipated illustrations – I always try to guess which answers you’ll use for same! Today’s 16d Kitty was purrfect and I chuckled again over the Matt cartoon – talk about not being allowed to live something down!

    Another vote from me for folk to try the Toughie from Silvanus – one of the most accomplished setters to graduate from the BD Rookie school.

  14. Tricky one. I’d never heard of the pop duo or the swimmer. Still Mr K’s hints were invaluable. Heard of the town as I live in County Durham. Favourite was 17d – very funny. Thanks to setter and Mr K

  15. Didn’t enjoy this much I’m afraid.

    Too many tenuous synonyms, an obscure pop duo for a town I’ve not heard of etc. Having said that, I made hard work of some of the more straightforward clues.

    Can someone give an example of where 5d could be extremely…


    1. (idiomatic) In large quantities; to a high degree; to excess, without restraint.
      Last year we harvested almost no potatoes, but this year we’re getting them in spades.

      1. I think you might be confusing Peterlee with Peterloo when it comes to massacres. SL. ;-) Peters and Lee were very successful in the 70s, so despite the many comments of protest above they were certainly no more obscure than many other 70s groups now lost in the mists of time.

  16. Yes A bit tougher than recent puzzles. Both the pop duo sans sand and the northern town were a bit obscure IMO. 24d LOI as I had tons of possibilities involving anagrams of devils etc before I found the right word to transpose first to last. 17d began bare for a while. Thanks to Mr K and setter.

  17. I confess to reading the blog but not contributing. I like to do the crossword around midday. I nearly always finish nowadays and therefore do not require hints. Parsing is a different matter however and I still require help in this direction. So this resource is gratefully received. I also find that by the time I’ve finished all that needs to be said has been said. May your efforts be suitably recognised.

  18. Great fun, and pleasantly challenging without being too hard in my estimation. Although, as a music lover, I regrettably remember the duo in 15a with some horror, it was still my favourite clue.

    Many thanks setter and of course to Mr K. Interesting results from the survey. I maintain that enjoyment, rather than time spent, is the more important factor when assessing a puzzle.

    1. Hi, YS. I think that most would agree with you that enjoyment is the only thing that really matters in solving (speed-solving seems to me rather like speed-eating). The goal in collecting data about solving times was to reassure those who might take an hour or longer to solve a puzzle that they are average solvers, especially if they choose to spend as long as it takes to fill the grid without using any aids.

      1. There is another factor which I ought to bring into the discussion. For the daily puzzles, excluding the weekend prize puzzles, you can check the accuracy of your grid-filling if you use the iPad version which considerably speeds up the solving process. If you are doing the paper version, that option of ‘suck it and see’ is obviously not available to you. I wish I could say that I never bung in a letter to see if it is accepted in a tricky clue but I would be lying!

        1. I’m far too techie stoopid to use the online iPad version. I’m a die-hard paper solver, with a pencil so that I can erase!

          1. And I pay extra just to have the ability to print the puzzle rather than solve on my iPad, so I really must be set in my ways.

        2. Indeed. I was surprised that only 5% of solvers said that they used that aid when filling the grid.

          1. I do the crossword in the paper with a pencil (for rubbing out) but I must confess to sometimes resorting to the iPad version to check answers (but not last Tuesday, as I think I managed that one without aids). In fact I’ve just spent a very long time going through the alphabet to find the right letter with several clues in today’s puzzle (and they never seem to be letters at the beginning of the alphabet). I did get there in the end and finished it. I enjoyed the struggle
            , so thanks to the setter and Mr K. No idea where I dredged up the pop duo from!

        3. Yes, I’m a pen and paper solver off the actual print version. I also do the Observer Everyman in paper form.

          I do the online Guardian crossword because it’s free, but I enjoy it less than my DT puzzle routine, maybe because it’s too tempting to do that ‘checking as you go along’ thing. That’s more like tag wrestling……

          I like Mr K’s analogy of speed-eating. Not much fun in that and unhealthy in the long run.

          I wonder what other crosswords people do?

          1. Hi, Bluebird. I didn’t see the question at the end of your comment until now. I asked that very question in our third survey. You’ll find the results here.

  19. Enjoyed the friendly South but the North much less so. Agree with Bluebird re inappropriate little box in 1d. IMHO 11a is more eat than drink. Hasn’t 4d revolutionary run his course by now? I remember the amusing 17d cartoon well – poor Dave will he never live it down! My Fav was 5d. Thank you Mysteron and MrK.

    1. Hi, Angellov. I’ve concluded that the revolutionary and his fellow Usual Suspects are used by setters deliberately to offer footholds in the grid. I do wonder how they acquire Usual Suspect status though – the first time a setter used revolutionary=CHE or student=L or base=E it must have been far from obvious what was going on.

      1. If only there were more revolutionists to choose from……….but Trotsky, Mao or Danton are quite cumbersome to insert into any answer.

  20. Very interesting results from Mr K’s survey. All of the comments he listed relate to a dislike of remarks from those who found a puzzle easy and – given that the majority of responders to the survey came from the ranks of those who never/rarely comment on the blog – it seems reasonable to infer that they are the ones who are most resentful of same.
    I intensely dislike comments such as ‘should have been in the junior Telegraph section’ but I also feel that someone who romped through a particular puzzle is entitled to say so – in the same way as one who struggled is at liberty to bemoan how long it took them. I breeze through some and stagger through others and I would guess that’s the same for the majority of us.

    BD blogs are here for everyone to enjoy and those who have successfully solved a puzzle are invariably more than willing to assist anyone who’s flummoxed, but those people do need to actually pop in and ASK their questions. I was very embarrassed to do so when I first discovered the site so can understand how ‘lurkers’ might feel but – as I found for myself – once you take the plunge, there’s a wealth of advice, encouragement and friendship to be found.

    1. Well said ma’am. I too like Bob above lurked for ages and was a little intimidated by some early comments on easy puzzles that I struggled with, but once I took the plunge I have always had friendly advice and encouragement here.
      Come on in the water’s lovely!

      1. Thanks, John. I remember meeting you ‘for real’ the first time you de-lurked sufficiently to come along to a birthday bash – these lurkers don’t realise what they’re missing!

    2. I agree, well put Jane… except that when I first found this blog after googling a clue (don’t remember when that was), I read through the comments and joined in pretty soon after as it was clear to me that it is a lovely community of pleasant like-minded people which was proven at the (again, don’t remember which year, but it was after tit-gate) Birthday Bash

      I solve or set more puzzles than is healthy, probably, so I usually recognise constructions fairly readily so yes, I’m reasonably quick. It means nothing though and is in no way seeking a time comparison to anybody else’s experience. The important bit is the enjoyment factor

      Generally I will say a puzzle is not too tricky, I was held up, or I found it difficult, then what I did or didn’t like plus any incidental conversation for fun. That is what the blog is here for as I see it – no bragging, moaning or airing disrespect for setters or other contributors and again, I thank Big Dave for the facility

  21. Found this something of a slog, but got there without any hints, so quite pleased, especially when it had been 4****d! Some quite obscure knowledge required!!

    1. Well done, CM! The relatively large number of early views of this blog shows that many lurkers were waiting for help with this puzzle. It’s definitely 4*.

  22. Thanks to the setter and Mr Kitty for the review and hints. A very tricky puzzle. I thought it was going to be a pangram as I started in the bottom half. But no. Annoyingly I got the pop duo, one of my least favourites of all time, but dismissed them as I didn’t notice the “sand”! Also needed the hints for 10,27a and 6,8,17,24d. Favourite was 12a. Was 5*/2* for me.

  23. I managed just 3 answers on my initial pass before breakfast, but as one of these was the magnificent 15a, that provided enough encouragement to keep going — thank you to the setter.

    (I’m too young to know any songs by the 70s duo in question, and I wasn’t even sure that 15a was both northern and a town, so consider it a fair question, compared with some of the other things solvers are expected to know.)

    I’ve now got about half the answers and am about to peek at some of the hints above. Thanks in advance to Mr K.

    1. Have now finished, requiring at least several hints — most of which turned out to be for things that there’s no way I would’ve got by myself, so the thanks to Mr K were definitely required.

      In 2d I hadn’t encountered ‘broadcasting’ to mean that, and in 14d I don’t quite understand how ‘involved’ can be an anagram indicator. I couldn’t work out where the definition was in 17d; I was surprised to find it’s ‘Country’ when the first word is ‘Country’s’, but I now see that can be read as “Country is 〈wordplay〉”.

      15a still my favourite; I really like 23a too, with its “support for the arts”, and the clever double definition of 27a.

      1. Hi, Smylers.

        The first two entries for involve in the BRB are to entangle and to complicate. So involved can mean entangled or complicated, which I think suggests enough rearrangement to function as an anagram indicator.

        The ‘s is a very useful device in constructing clues. It can be read as a possessive, a contraction of ‘is’ (often serving as a linkword, as it does here) , or a contraction of ‘has’ (often serving as a juxtaposition indicator). And of course it can have different meanings in the surface and cryptic readings of the clue, as was the case today.

        The support for the arts was clever. I probably would have favourited it if I wasn’t still grumpy about 15a when I wrote the hints.

  24. FOR the ATTENTION of Mr K. Time is not a factor for me so I didn’t do the survey. My ratings are :

    * completed without hints or aids no matter how long it had taken to solve.

    ** completed except for half a dozen for which Chambers’s Word Wizard was used no matter how long it had taken to solve.

    *** a third to a half of clues unsolved and hints and aids used no matter how long it had taken to solve.

    **** when I have to uncover any answers on here no matter how long it had taken to solve.

    By my criteria this was a **.

    And yes it annoys me too when people on here talk about any puzzle being a breeze.

    Thanks to you Mr K and the setter.

    1. Thanks for that, Corky. I suspect that approach, rather than solving time, is a widely-used system for assigning difficulty stars. In my view it makes more sense to do it that way, not least because it allows for the puzzle to be savoured.

    2. I’m definitely one of those who rates enjoyment far more highly than ‘time taken to complete’ but, if someone really has found a puzzle very easy to complete, what form of indicating such would you find inoffensive in a comment?
      I’m really not trying to be confrontational, just wondering how contributors can share their occasional little triumphs without upsetting anyone.

      1. Hi, Jane. You are a fine example of how to do just that. Everybody here is happy to share in those personal triumphs of a first unaided solve or a particularly smooth completion. I think the key is for the commenter to avoid boasting or implying that any decent solver should be able to do what they did. In my view personal star ratings don’t offend in that respect, especially when the survey shows that they cover such a wide range of solving times. But assessments like “read and write” do not fill me with admiration for the commenter. Quite the opposite, in fact. I also find such comments naive, because the solvers here who really can solve a puzzle quickly if they wish to (e.g. a Toughie in under five minutes) never crow about their accomplishments.

      2. I agree Jane. I don’t think I’ve ever timed myself doing a puzzle, I’m retired and have no schedule, why bother. In any case, there’s always some who phones to chat, etc., that eats into solving time.

  25. Settled down after lunch for once to see if brain cells still work after 1200 noon. They do but much slower. This was quite tough after yesterdays pretty straightforward puzzle no doubt they will get harder in the coming week.
    I personally don’t worry how long it takes me to complete, the enjoyment comes in those eureka moments and the “doh” moments. A lot of enjoyment comes from reading the comments from other bloggers. Interesting results in the survey.
    Thanks to Mr K and setter.

    1. Hi, Spook. A lot of comments on the survey mentioned how much the respondent enjoys reading the comments and the banter on the blog.

      That reminds me that there were also many reasons given in the responses for not commenting, most of which I think don’t hold water. Blog viewing statistics show that the blogs are read around the clock by readers all over the world. For that reason even those comments posted late in the day or after many previous comments still bring a lot to pleasure to many people. If a lurker truly feels that everything that can be said about the puzzle has been said, they can always add to their comment a weather report or news about what’s going on wherever they are. We all love reading comments like that.

      1. Talking about weather comments, I wonder how Wahoo is doing in Anguilla with Dorian hovering in exactly that location.

  26. Have posted a handful of times, but still best considered a lurker and novice.

    I haven’t felt intimidated by the posts of those more experienced/skilled at solving. As a newbie, I have no doubt many solve within the hour (lunch break, tea break or however described), and this site is as much for them as us novice lurkers! When I have posted, especially with questions to the tips offered, the replies have always been friendly and prompt. To those fellow novices, don’t fret if you spend all day struggling for just a few answers, only to read the collective “** For me today” posts…that’s fine for those posters, and it’s fine we’re thinking the exact same puzzle is ****. Slowly (months) now, and my ratings are starting to align with the consensus (key word is starting!)

    For me, I find this site to be an invaluable resource in helping me to learn. I get enjoyment struggling with the clues, and when stumped, turn to the friendly guidance from the tips here.

    I hadn’t spotted the survey, great info!

    1. Thanks for that thoughtful post, Ken. I am sure that your fellow novices (and everyone else) appreciate it.

  27. Thanks to setter for a tricky, slightly quirky but highly enjoyable puzzle
    Thanks also to Mr K for the blog, the survey and a fine NTSPP

  28. Loved this puzzle with some great clues. 1A, 12A, 15A, 21A, 1D all scored highly with me. Thanks to the setter; for me it was 4*/5* :)

  29. I very rarely comment but look most days, occasionally to help parse but more often to see the comments of my fellow cruciverbalists (and, out of idle curiosity, to see what the weather is like elsewhere 😀). Occasionally I find a clue annoying because I think that the synonymity is greatly overstretched and like to see if others think likewise.
    With regard to today’s offering, I had a very fast start but think that the heat overcame me and I slowed considerably over the latter stages. Nothing too taxing though. I am fortunate to be of an age that remembers the 70s too well – the first names that came to mind were Peter and Gordon (who I think were actually more 60s era) but that took me straight on to Peters and Lee who weren’t exactly megastars so I can quite understand why younger solvers were flummoxed. BTW – love the new format. Well done to all who keep this blog going.

  30. I solved 75% of this before going to the office for a couple of hours and then finished it when I returned. Thoroughly enjoyed it, but it was certainly a couple of notches up in difficulty from last Tuesday.

    My favourites were 1d and 15a for the penny drop moment. I’m another who was looking out for a pangram.

    Very interesting survey results Mr. K and very well said to Jane at comment 20.

    Many thanks to all

  31. I seem to have joined the lurkers of late, so after reading the most interesting survey I am encouraged to come out of the cupboard. Especially being a pre war Geordie I much enjoyed 15 across. Thank you to the setter and Mr K.

    1. Good for you, Jen, please stay out of the cupboard and join in with the daily debates – the more the merrier!

  32. Can anyone explain the bottom line pun from the Quickie on Saturday, or am I just being thick?

    1. Hi Red Starter,
      I think there is only one setter who frequently puts an extra pun into the bottom line of his Quickie compilations and Saturday isn’t one of his usual setting days, so maybe you’re trying to find something that wasn’t there!

  33. I’ve just read the results of Mr K’s survey – how interesting! Thank you very much. I only started tackling the DT cryptic crossword as a result of a 2019 new year’s resolution so I’ve had a great deal to learn. I’m heartened to discover that my solving times are (by and large) reasonable and that my recourse to aids is not unusual (thank you, Tom Jones….) I have learned so much from the Big Dave blogging team for whose help I am most grateful.
    I love reading other people’s posts, which I also find helpful. There seems to be a great online community which is pretty friendly – although it does surprise me when comments get a bit spiky from time to time.
    Today’s puzzle – favourite was 16d due in part to the modern driver reference which made me laugh. I liked 15a and understood what was required but had to have a scan of Google Maps before finding the appropriate town (being born and bred in Dover doesn’t help one’s geography of County Durham).
    I do find it a bit aggravating when a clue requires knowledge of someone famous from, say, 40+ years ago (in this case I’m thinking of 21a) without making any reference to it being from that period, so the person would only be famous to crossword solvers over a certain age, and younger participants would be at a disadvantage.
    Lastly – the weather report from Suffolk UK – it’s flipping baking. The ground is as hard as a rock which makes weeding almost impossible (hence this long post when I should be in the garden?), there’s not a cloud in the sky, and my Labrador doesn’t know where to put herself.
    Many thanks to the setter, Mr K, and all.

  34. This was a really tricky number for me. I did get 15a, my last clue, by sheer pigheadedness, help from word search and a bit of googling. Obscure it may have been for a non-Brit, but it didn’t do anything to dampen my enjoyment.
    There were so many that were smile worthy, too many to name, but I think 3d was top of the pops, 5d right behind.
    Since my eyes started suffering from old age, I’ve stopped driving and now use the drivers in 16d, they’re great.
    Thanks to our setter and to Mr. K for his hints and pics, still giggling at the pic for 18a.

    1. Thanks, Merusa. The internet claims that the 18a pic is an example of what happened when Oregon changed its laws to allow drivers to pump their own gas, but I have my doubts about that.

  35. Amazed this passed muster in the editing department. What a let down after working through the heat today and looking forward to the crossie and a cold beer. Seventies (one or two hit wonders) music GK in a 2019 Cryptic?? Really?

  36. My first choice of a seventies duo was Sonny and Cher because I could avoid the sand, but couldn’t make a northern town out of it. Decided that it was much easier just to list northern towns and see what came up. I filled in 27a from checking letters but needed the review to parse. Many thanks setter and Mr Kitty.

  37. Well I thought this was a lot of fun! Didn’t get 8d or 10a but nevertheless enjoyed the ingenuity of some of the clues, especially 23a and the contentious 15a which dropped nicely into my head like someone had whispered it to me. Today’s blog, comments and survey results only added to the enjoyment. Thank you to Mr K (blueberries – mmmm) and the compiler.

  38. Today was definitely a 4* difficulty for me, partly because some clues were too hard, or because I was too thick, probably more of the latter. When I resorted to Mr K’s hints, they really weren’t hard, I clearly did not have my thinking head on. Re the survey comments, I really don’t think people are resentful of those who post quick solving times. I think they just continue to lurk because they don’t like to come out and say they found something tough if everyone else appears to have found it easy. Obviously I don’t worry about ‘fessing up. I did get my 11 plus after all 😊. And I don’t worry about how long it takes me to finish a puzzle, the enjoyment of solving and participating in this web site is just priceless. Thanks all.

    1. Hi, BL. It’s not you, it’s the puzzle. I know it’s a hard one because the blog has so far got at least a thousand views more than is normal on a Tuesday. That must be lurkers seeking assistance with clues they couldn’t solve.

    2. I agree with you, this was a major tricky one, it was only determination that made me keep at it. I can’t even claim to have “solved” it today, I used so much electronic help, I have to give google and my thesaurus at least some credit!

  39. The DT crossword site gives the impression that solving times are important.

    The clock ticking away in the background and time bonus points …

    1. Good point, stan. I assume they do that because it helps sell puzzles site subscriptions to some people. I believe that the new site no longer lists solving times on the leaderboards, so that’s an improvement. And their test solver ensures that the puzzles are published with a sub-two minute fastest time that nobody will ever be able to beat.

  40. I suppose I’m a bit of a lurker, though I have commented once or twice. At first, being a learner everyone sounded so clever I didn’t like to comment.
    I love the blog and enjoy everybody’s banter, and I appreciate some will find the puzzles easier than others.
    Most days I tackle the puzzles in the afternoon so by the time I read the blog most comments are up.
    It’s very rare I can finish without help, and certainly my trusty thesaurus is always at my side. By the way I do the paper version.
    Today’s was quite a fast start but I struggled finishing, enjoyed it though.
    Thanks to everyone

  41. It’s taken me longer to read the blog than to do the crossword! Well, almost….
    This was trickier than usual for a Tuesday but great fun to do. 15a was out and out favourite, even if it was the seventies.
    Thanks to the setter, and to Mr K for the review and pics… and the survey results.
    I thought the comments were very interesting and I was surprised at the percentage of contributors who were lurkers.
    However I was not surprised at all about the annoyance with easy completion claims. Even now having contributed on here for a fair while my teeth still grind when somebody makes a claim of a fast solve.
    Thanks for your efforts Mr K!

  42. Not a quick solve for us and we really struggled with the last few answers. 7d was one of those where starting the answer with a double unch added an extra level of challenge.
    Lots of good clues that we did enjoy but overall, found some of the obscure GK (especially 15a) somewhat frustrating.
    Thanks Mr Ron and Mr K..

  43. I thought this was a difficult but enjoyable puzzle… and one which defeated me in the end as I had to resort to the hints for 8d. I loved 15a (my COTD) but fully appreciate why some solvers will think it’s unfair. My only quibble was with 1d which I had as “sparing” until I convinced myself that 9a had to be an anagram – interested to hear if other solvers also think this is a valid answer?

    Otherwise, I thought there were some great clues including 5d, 12a, 16d, 17d and 19a.

    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr K for the hints and for the excellent survey work and interesting results.

    1. I believe the boxing term is spelt with a double r. Sadly this didn’t stop me putting sparing in initially too!

    2. Bjs I could perhaps justify sparring but not “sparing”. (Had not seen Owdoo’s comments before writing this).

      1. Doh! Thanks Owdoo and Angellov. Very good point – I’ll blame the first day back in the office after holiday as the cause of my inability to spell :-)

  44. Crikey must be getting old, remember seeing Peters and Lee in a half deserted White Rock Pavilion in Hastings way back in the eighties! Also played football in Peterlee so unlike others was a first in for me and my favourite clue! 😄

    1. Ah now to us, the White Rock Pavilion brings back memories of Stilgoe and Skellern in the 80s and 90s … As former residents of Durham we are ashamed to confess that we had only two clues to solve by the time we remembered Peterlee. Then painful memories of the pop duo came flooding back … aargh!

  45. Apart from the town and 8d this went in without too much difficulty – one of those rare days when I was on wavelength with a puzzle that consensus has as difficult – normally I am ‘on the contrary’! Now to look at the Toughie which is supposedly easy….

  46. I really liked many of the clues. 15a? Weeelll … I stared at it for ages. Eventually it popped into my head, though have absolutely no idea how as I wouldn’t have been able to recall either part individually and could easily have conjured the duo out of thin air. It’s weird how the brain works. It did help that, like Bluebird, I’d twigged that the duo would be “_s and _”, but even so, wow!

    Many thanks all.

  47. I found this very tricky indeed , so was heartened by the star rating .
    I loved 12a and 21a .
    I thought the anagrams in 1a and 9a very well concealed .
    I also really liked 17d .
    I never heard of the town or the band in 15a either .
    Thanks to the setter and Mr K.

  48. This was definitely at the longer end of the spectrum for me based on solving time. Not for the GK elements though, as both the swimmer and the pop duo were famous in my formative years. Possibly the duo stick in my memory more because of the piano player being blind, but I do think it’s quite hard to argue that someone who won 7 gold medals at one olympics is obscure GK, especially with regular reminders in more modern times alongside the achievements of messrs. Thorpe and Phelps.
    I just struggled with some of the other clues, not helped by having put “sparing” for 1d despite knowing it really needed an extra “r” for the box part to work, and even then it would need to be boxing. That scuppered 9a and held me up for far too long until I spotted the error. Last one in was 3d as I wasn’t familiar with it being a synonym for nonsense.
    Anyway, thank you to the setter for the challenge, and to Mr K for the review also for the interesting and informative surveys.

    1. Thanks, Owdoo. I thought that that the piano player was very unfortunate to become blind by losing each eye in separate events.

  49. Cryptic crossword land is a funny old place. I consider myself a slouch compared to the regulars on this blog and yet I found today’s puzzle quite simple. But then that’s the magic of cryptic crosswords, sometimes the setter’s style will work for you and then other times it can be elusive. I particularly liked 21a, the legendary US multi Olympic medalist will always be there in my subconscious much more than Phelps or Thorpe.

  50. I’ve been pondering the responses to the survey, in particular musing about why showing off (real or perceived) is such a bugbear.

    When I first found this site I saw a friendly and supportive group of people. This is why, like LetterboxRoy, I joined in very quickly despite being very much a lurker by nature. I’d hate for the tone of a minority of comments to put people off becoming part of the lovely community formed by the majority here.

    It’s considerate and generous to be mindful of not disheartening solvers who, for whatever reason, may have struggled more with the puzzle. Jane has made a very good point that that should emphatically not mean keeping quiet about successes and milestones. But no survey comments I’ve read were objecting to that. So yes, retire the repeated use of R&W etc, but do share personal triumphs – shout them from the rooftops and let us celebrate with you!

    1. I was quick to take umbrage once about a remark about “nasty Americanisms,” then I grew up and recognised how stupid and childish that was. I think others, too, have had their road to Damascus moments as well and realised that it’s all the same the next day!

  51. It’s getting late in the UK, so I’ll take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed comments today. I think this has been a wonderful day on the blog. It’s been packed with interesting, insightful, and compassionate comments.

    Goodnight to everyone who is heading to bed. The night owls, and those of us in other time zones, will be around for a while, so if you’re still up remember that it’s never too late to post a comment.

  52. Hello those who think they turn up ‘too late’ to comment! I often feel like that too. It’s quite often the following day by the time I finish with the crossword: I never finish it in one stint, and like to give myself a few goes at it before looking at the hints here. Even on the rare occasions I’m done by lunchtime, there isn’t enough lunchtime left to write a comment a well.

    I thought it was just me. But apparently — thanks to Mr K’s inspired idea for a survey — there’s quite a few of us. So I was wondering if several of us each bothered to comment anyway even when it looks too late, that might create a critical mass of ‘latecomers’, making it seem worthwhile?

    It should also make the comments more balanced in the range of abilities. By definition, strugglers aren’t going to’ve finished in time to be among the first to comment, meaning that early comments will be dominated by those who found that puzzle straightforward.

    I didn’t do last Tuesday’s crossword, so didn’t complete the survey. But if I had, my response to the final ‘comments’ question would’ve been:

    “This site is the single reason why I’ve chosen to try the Telegraph‘s crosswords rather than any other publications’: I know that however stuck I get, there’ll be a helpful hint available (without revealing the answer, unless I choose to do so), and a friendly community which will always explain things and answer questions.

    When I first started dabbling with crosswords, I tried them from a few different places. But the non-Telegraph ones didn’t have Big Dave’s blog, which I soon realized was the most helpful and enjoyable way of getting help with crosswords. I discovered I didn’t want to do a crossword if it wouldn’t be on Big Dave’s site, so now these are the crosswords I do.”

    1. Your ‘late’ response encouraged me to comment. I found some of this relatively straightforward but got hopelessly stuck and only finished the final four this morning. Unlike you, 15a was my last one in, definitely not helped by thinking the answer was a 70s pop duo with sand omitted from the Northern town! I was just deciding to give up when it suddenly came to me, I don’t know where from. So well done you, I think you must be practically the only person who got this immediately!!
      Thanks to Mr K and setter.

    2. Thanks for that comment about the blog, Smylers. Much appreciated by me and, I’m sure, by all of the other contributors to the site.

      You make an excellent point about those you call ‘strugglers’ providing some balance to the discussion of the puzzle. Comments from solvers who didn’t finish until later in the day certainly provide encouragement to the many others we know are in the same category. It is definitely not just you. So I very much hope that such comments will continue.

      I suspect that there’s a feeling among the readership that once a new back-page blog has appeared, nobody will look at anything posted on previous blogs. That is not true. All new comments appear under the ‘Recent Comments’ heading on the right (or bottom) of the page. Many readers (including the blog’s author) are set up to get emails or other notifications when new comments are posted. And there are many solvers who visit the blog days after the original puzzle was published because they didn’t complete it on the day. For example, this page has already been viewed 1200 times today. I also know from past data that it will get several hundred views tomorrow.

      1. So true about late commenting … usually by the time I get to the blog it’s so late that I think there’s no point. But after what you’ve just said, Mr K, I shall reconsider in future. Also I think what Smylers says is right about early commenters … if more people comment later it will give encouragement to us “strugglers”. I’m currently about half-way through today’s puzzle and haven’t even looked at today’s blog yet. This is such a brilliant site – I can’t imagine life without it now. Bravo for Big Dave!

        1. PS One thing that does put me off commenting is my truly hideous avatar! I know people say it’s quite easy to make a new one but so far I haven’t been able to get up the courage to have a go.

          1. Hi, Sarah, and thanks for your comment above. I think it would be great to see more ‘strugglers’ (is ‘improvers’ a better name?) posting when they’ve had time to make progress.

            Regarding the avatar, if you sign up for a free account at http://en.gravatar.com/ you can associate your email address with a picture that you upload. That picture will then show up here as your avatar when you use that email address in box on the comment form.

            1. Thanks for that about the avatar, Mr K. I shall try and give it a go sometime. I’m always slightly wary of signing up for any sort of account, though, even if it is supposedly free.

              1. The gravatar account really is free. If you’re worried about giving them your email address, you could create a new email account at, say, outlook.com and use that email only for gravatar.com and this site (you’ll go into moderation the first time you use a new email, so your first post with it might be delayed slightly).

  53. Done.
    8d rankled with me. Too obscure, I thought.
    The pop duo suddenly came to me from the word play.
    Certainly a **** for difficulty.
    Many thanks to the setter and to Mr. K for the review which buried my convoluted and wrong reason for 8d.

  54. I love your helpful clues thank you. I liked slot machine and martinet the best. The reversing, opposite, and on the contrary ones were way above me and I thought sapling constituent and exuberant were a bit unfair. But not as bad as Peterlee which was too obscure in every way.

    1. Welcome from me as well, Caroline, and thanks for sharing your experience solving the puzzle.

      The ‘on the contrary’ and ‘quite the opposite’ devices come up a few times a month. The setter often uses them when inverting the wordplay in the clue leads to a better surface reading. ‘A something B. On the contrary!’ usually means ‘B something A’

      1. Prospect of difficult time in hospital? On the contrary (7)

        The abbreviation for “hospital” inside a synonym for difficult, followed by the abbreviation for “time”, i.e. the opposite of what the wordplay of the clue is suggesting (“on the contrary”)

        Very handy it is too, Mr K

  55. 4*/2*….struggled through using the hints, for which Thanks !
    liked 3D “still produce nonsense (9)”

  56. Sorry I missed doing the survey but away and other excuses. I find it all fascinating. Because I am usually at least a day behind I sometimes do not comment but often do for my own satisfaction though doubt whether anybody reads or cares! One thing that surprises me is that some people comment or ask for help but then never respond to replies received. One fatal difficulty with timing boasts is that I suspect some people resort to the hints very quickly. I do not do that or use electronic device but persist unless I think it is not (for me) a good puzzle. Monday’s was a spectacular short solve. I was in Cornwall and thought I’d make a start before going to friends’ for lunch. I could not share as was left with only one which I filled in after the lunch. I would not be offended if on another day someone said a puzzle was a breeze when I could not get my foot in the door. I do doubt the extra quick solving times as what I consider a write-in takes longer than some say. My aid is Google or a synonym search if the BRB is too heavy to lift. Because I thought this was extremely good, if tough, I persisted. Most were capable of guessing or parsing when all checkers in eg 21a although the famous swimmer passed me by. I did like 15a which took me a very long time as after I realised the significance of avoiding sand I guessed I was looking for a duo with “and” in the middle which narrows it down and an “s” at the end of the first name. I did then resort to Google. It would have been improved however if the town had been described as NE. There was a lot of atlas to study otherwise. I remember learning about Peterlee in my economics lessons in the VIth Form as one of the New Towns built after WWII. 12a and 19a and 5 and 18d are my favourites. Thank you Mr K and you Mr Setter for provoking so much controversy and you Mr Lancaster for allowing 15a.

    1. Hi, Wanda. Thanks for commenting — that was interesting. I’m mainly replying so that you know your comment definitely has been read!

      (On puzzles I comment on, I tick the ‘Notify me of follow-up comments by email’ box, so even if it’s days later, I will still be alerted to your comment’s existence and give it a read. Mr K points out above that the blog’s author gets such emails too. So it’s pretty much impossible for a comment to go unread and unappreciated, no matter when it is posted. So please do keep commenting — that goes for other stragglers reading this, too!)

    2. It’s been read by me, too! I’m another one for whom dogged persistence rules and I only consult aids (usually the BRB or Chambers Crossword Dictionary) when I’ve given up, which is probably why it usually takes me so long and several sessions to finish. I often consult the hints here when I’ve got the answer but am not sure why – there are usually one or two of those in every puzzle.

    3. I also read it – thanks for relating your experience with the puzzle.

      You are right about some of the fast times being with aids. That was clear in the first survey we did on solving times – several of the fastest solvers used aids and most of the slowest did not. How one goes about finding the answers is, of course, a personal choice.

  57. A belated thank you to all those who have commented; it’s also been very interesting to read all the comments regarding the survey results.

    A couple of those commenting have queried why the editor allowed 15ac; the simple answer is that in this instance, the editor was also the compiler. I realise that the combination of a 1970s musical act and a north-eastern town may have been difficult for some, but the chance to clue one using the other seemed too good to pass up.

    I find it very interesting to see what is seen to be an obscure place geographically and what isn’t. For instance, in terms of population, Peterlee is of similar size to Sevenoaks in Kent, Staines in Surrey, Hatfield in Hertfordshire, and Newmarket in Suffolk, to name but four, all of which probably wouldn’t cause eyebrows to be raised if included in a puzzle. Similarly, Peters and Lee, who had a UK number one that sold almost a million copies, have sold more singles in the UK than Led Zeppelin, and had more number one singles than Dire Straits, Bon Jovi, Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, The Who, Nirvana, Radiohead, James Brown and The Smiths combined!

    1. Hello, Chris, and thanks for the puzzle and for explaining what the setter and the editor had in mind with 15a. I was a bit irked by that clue during the solve when I was forced to resort to a word search tool, but now, having seen how much lively discussion it’s generated, I’m glad it was included.

      1. Hi Chris and thanks for a good job well done
        Well done also Mr K on generating a colossal amount if interest with your blog :good:
        No problem with 15a here, inspired! (and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t usually like names, towns etc)

    2. Hello Chris. I have sold more singles than Led Zeppelin. I would rather listen to any of the names you mentioned than listen to Peters and Lee. I smiled at the clue as the answer revealed itself through the checkers. Then I grimaced at the thought of the ‘star maker machinery behind the popular song’. Keep them coming. I like them.

  58. I obtained this one (and all the rest of this week’s) yesterday (Fri) morning and thought it well worthy of a belated comment. I found it an excellent puzzle with great clues giving a good challenge and a very enjoyable solve. My favourite of a fine bunch: 15a – a very well thought out clue and far too good to eschew. I remember the duo and have been to the NE town, but it still took a fair while to work it out. 3.5* / 4*

    1. PS. Mr K, 18a. That woman in the photo: a very novel (and dangerous) method of filling up with fuel!

      * Also, this is a blog-page of truly epic proportions. Is it a record?

      1. Hi, Jose. The comment count appears to be the highest for a puzzle blog in the last three years, but it’s not close to being an all-time record. Several of BD’s Saturday puzzle blogs have received over 200 comments.

        1. Thanks for that, Mr K. Yes, I guessed there have been more than 60 numbered comments before but what about the actual volume of this blog page, or the number of words? There are several individual comments above that are quite protracted – more like mini-essays? Maybe it seems bigger because the font size has increased recently?

          1. Good question, Jose. The word count of this page currently stands at just over 13,700. That’s 2,300 higher than the next blog on a list sorted by word-count. So by that metric the commentariat did indeed set a record here.

            1. Thank you, Mr K. That’s very interesting info. I suspected that to be the case because there are some huge comments above and it’s never taken me so long to get through a blog page before. Just imagine this: suppose you encouraged many more lurkers to comment and the count went up to, say, 500 numbered messages a day – could the blog handle it? Would we have time to read/absorb it all? Could you guys respond and answer all the questions/anomalies that would arise? Would the site keep crashing?

              * It’s OK, they’re just rhetorical questions…

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