NTSPP – 534 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 534

A Puzzle by Alchemi

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A very enjoyable puzzle where, although there were three actors whose names I had forgotten, I found I did actually remember all of them


1a Wait briefly, as judge must mean to order (4,1,6)
JUST A MOMENT: J(udge) followed by an anagram (order) of MUST MEAN TO

7/28a Make fun of old French soldier’s organ (6)
KIDNEY: a three-letter verb meaning to make fun of followed by the surname of an old French soldier

9a About to pick up actor (5)
CLIFT: the single-letter Latin abbreviation for about followed by a verb meaning to pick up

10a Complicated row makes independent doctor somehow glorious after leaving America (9)
IMBROGLIO: I(ndependent) followed by a doctor and an anagram (somehow) of GLORIO[US] after dropping (leaving) the two-letter abbreviation for America

11a Reckon Mel could be an actor (3,6)
LEO MCKERN: an anagram (could be) of RECKON MEL

12a Girl requesting everyone to act, first of all (5)
GRETA: the initial letters (first of all) of five words in the clue

13a Adjust camera for cues which are changing (7)
REFOCUS: an anagram (which are changing) of FOR CUES

15a Location in Paris I tested (4)
SITE: hidden (in) inside the clue

18a Starters of raisins in bearnaise sauce are often spare in restaurants (4)
RIBS: the initial letters (starters) of four words in the clue

20a Engineers of my acquaintance about to be more awry (7)
WONKIER: the reversal of the Royal Engineers with a phrase meaning of my acquaintance (1,4)

23a Agreed to make up (5)
ATONE: split as (2,3) this means agreed

24a Actor has a day with heartless theocrats (9)
MONTALBAN: the three-letter abbreviation for a day of the week followed by some Afghani theocrats without their middle letter (heartless)

With Mr Roarke on Fantasy Island is Tattoo (Herve Villechaize)!

26a Note on gala dinner seating (9)
BANQUETTE: A note in sol-fa notation preceded by a gala dinner

27a Nymph‘s mineral promotion (5)
OREAD: a mineral followed by a promotion

28a See 7 Across

29a Prophet given title by Spooner not seeing clearly (4-7)
NEAR-SIGHTED: exchanging the initial letters of two words in the answer sounds like, Spooner style, a prophet who is given a title


1d Actor‘s flag initially lowered on Remembrance Day (4,4)
JACK LORD: a flag, indicating nationality, followed by the initial letters of four words in the clue

2d Useful by-products of motor-racing accidents (4-4)
SPIN-OFFS: could also be some motor-racing accidents

3d Greek network uncovered (5)
ATTIC: drop (uncovered) the L and E from each end of a network

4d Hammers Hardy and Reed? (7)
OLIVERS: these forge-hammers worked by foot are also the first names of two film stars

5d Right to be neutral, gets on and makes earth defences (7)
EMBANKS: start with a verb meaning gets on (a ship) and change the R(ight) to N(eutral) – while neutral = N is not confirmed by Chambers, it is in Collins and the Oxford Dictionary of English

6d Place where pigs eat not up to actor (9)
TROUGHTON: a place where pigs eat is followed by the reversal (up) of NOT

7d Central challenge embraced by most important Star Trek actor (6)
KELLEY: the middle three letters (central) of [cha]LLE[nge] inside (embraced by) a word meaning most important

8d Star Trek actor had no trouble accepting Oscar (6)
DOOHAN: an anagram (had no trouble) of HAD NO around (accepting) the letter represented by Oscar in the NATO Phonetic alphabet

14d Actor caught, as it happens, having performed on radio (5,4)
CLIVE DUNN: C(aught) followed by an adjective meaning as it happens and what sounds like (on radio) a word meaning having performed

16d Extremely agile new setter’s had gifts from God (8)
NIMBLEST: N(ew) followed by the setter is (1’1) and a verb meaning having had :

17d Island‘s criminal gang turning the noise up inside (8)
TRINIDAD: a Chinese criminal gang around the reversal (turning … up) of a noise

19d Coffee produced here in part amusingly elevated (7)
SUMATRA: hidden (in) and reversed (elevated) inside the clue

20d Direction buries actress (7)
WINTERS: a compass direction followed by a verb meaning buries

21d Element against keeping ladies’ underwear up (6)
CARBON: a word meaning against around (keeping) the reversal (up) of an item of ladies’ underwear

22d Ancient city has no time to host an actor (6)
ROONEY: drop the T(ime) from an ancient city and insert ONE (an)


25d A record number getting in lengthwise (5)
ALONG: the A from the clue and a record of events around (getting in) N(umber)

23 comments on “NTSPP – 534

  1. This puzzle is the epitome of my dislike in cryptic crosswords – ancient names, which I don’t see why (or how) I should know
    No interest in this whatsoever and I got fed up with it in record time
    Sorry Alchemi, but 100% not for me

    1. i would be interested to know what you are doing with the time you have saved! I thought it was excellent, and was surprised that some of the actors/actresses were contemporaries, and enjoyed researching them. All-in-all it took no longer than a standard Toughie.

      1. I too was surprised to find that this motley collection were all the same age, since I think of one or two as ancient and several as pretty recent.

  2. Very enjoyable – thanks Alchemi.
    I didn’t know the 4d word for hammers which I had to check (at one time I was thinking of West Ham) but the wordplay made the answer clear.
    The clues I liked best were 20a, 23a, 29a (unusually good Spoonerism) and 14d.

    1. Thanks for your comment about 4d, Gazza. I had assumed that “hammer” was simply a lightly disguised meaning of actor, but on reading your comment I checked the answer in my BRB and found there was much more to it than that. Very clever, Alchemi!

      1. Oddly, that “hammers” is a synonym for “actors” never occurred to me while writing the clue.

  3. I concluded this would be a Marmite puzzle and comments 1 & 2 have proved me right. I didn’t think I was going to like it but in the end I did. The only actor I was unfamiliar with was 24a.

    I agree completely with Gazza’s selection of best liked clues.

    Many thanks to Alchemi.

    1. I’m thinking of compiling a puzzle featuring rappers and hip-hop artistes – how do you reckon that’ll go down?

  4. In ‘another life’, I was lucky enough to see Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller in Sugar Babies on Broadway. It was his stage debut and was true burlesque comedy and, I would guess, he improvised the script most of the time. Thanks, Alchemi, for a great puzzle and bringing back happy memories, not only of him, but some of the other actors, too.

  5. Enjoyed the trip down memory lane, particularly where 11&24a were concerned. I always thought 24a was the epitome of ”suave’ and he had such a wonderful name.

    Thank you, Alchemi, that was good fun.

  6. This was hard work needing a lot of electronic resources to identify most of the actors, but I enjoyed it. I was pleased that Alchemi provided the Star Trek qualifier in 7d and 8d. However, I did not help myself by putting Rumpole in 10a rather than his rightful home of 11a.
    Like Alchemi, it was a bit of a surprise to find out that all the actors were of the same age.
    I really liked the non-actor 20a.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  7. Google had to work quite for us on this as there were several that we had never heard of but we did manage to get them all sorted eventually.
    Last one in was 24a, entirely from checkers and wordplay.
    An enjoyable Sunday morning exercise for us.
    Thanks Alchemi.

  8. I thought this was a beautifully constructed puzzle, and thank you very much, Alchemi. Sadly, the theme did not really resonate with me and I found that I had to rely on Google to a heavy extent. There are one or two instances where I will need the review to figure out exactly how the word play works, but there was a lot of enjoyment to be had here.

  9. Really enjoyed this as well.
    Surprised myself by knowing all the theme answers.
    Just needed all the checkers in 24a before the R rolling actor fell. Loved the heartless theocrats.
    Quite a few ticks on my printout.
    Thanks to Alchemi for the super fun.

  10. That took a lot of googling & some “reveals” (I’m ashamed to say) but I got there in the end. Thanks Alchemi & to the reviewer in advance for a pleasant distraction in these uncertain times. Last Thursday we did the “NHS clap for Carers” on the parkway & at the end a lady nobody knew played “Over the Rainbow” on her flute – not a dry eye anywhere.
    Now to get ready for facetime with grandsons Henry & George who we have not seen for 8 long weeks.
    Stay Safe!

  11. Many thanks for review, BD – nice to see pics of those famous faces again.
    I think IMBROGLIO deserves a place on my list of ‘delicious’ words!

  12. Thanks BD – I did eventually calm down and complete the puzzle so thanks to Alchemi too
    14d was the only one I’d heard of, but no surprises there as this clearly isn’t my specialist subject

  13. This took two sessions (with an overnight gap) but I got there in the end. Didn’t know all the names but they were all gettable from crossing letters and wordplay. Plenty of non-themed answers to enjoy, too. Thanks, Alchemi and BD

  14. Thanks all.

    I very much sympathise with comment 1, because I remember how much I hated Saturday puzzles in the Grauniad themed around bloody operas 40 years ago. My big gripe then was that I knew sod all about classical music (and still don’t, really) but that it was frowned on to refer to contemporary music which was selling in the millions because it was too lowbrow or something.

    40 years later, I am not the only professional setter who treats post-Elvis Presley music as a fit subject for crosswords – I did one here themed on The Who, and my last MPP referred to Little Feat. For the Indy and FT I’ve done Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Roy Harper, Ian Dury & the Blockheads and Television (off the top of my head), and one in the Indy this year had band names (including Chemical Brothers) for all the across solutions.

    So Roy should be patient. The rappers and hip-hop artists will become crossword staples in time – some of them already turn up in clues because they’re great anagram fodder. They may come a bit later to the Telegraph, whose readership skews rather older than the Graun/Indy/FT, but they’ll turn up eventually.

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