NTSPP – 545 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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NTSPP – 545

A Puzzle by Alchemi

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

I was very familiar with the subject used as a ghost theme so i really enjoyed this puzzle.  It was a little heavy on anagrams – eleven of them – but that didn’t spoil the fun.  I had read the 9a book, seen the 6d / 12d play and been a long-standing fan of The Goon Show. 23d / 24a used to live a couple of miles from my childhood home, and performed regulaly at the Saturday morning picture show at the Granada, North Cheam.  Part of my collection of Goon Show CDs are recorded here and here.


1a Milk as handily-bottled porridge (5)
KASHA: hidden (bottled) inside the clue

4a Goes on again about motorbike’s front brakes failing (2-7)
RE-EMBARKS: a two-letter word meaning about followed by an anagram (failing) of the initial letter (front) of M[otorbike] with BRAKES

9a Robin Goodfellow with nothing on in 12/13 novel (7)
PUCKOON: an alternative name for Robin Goodfellow, as in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is followed by o (nothing) and ON from the clue

10a Added part of Will‘s fish and chip bill, essentially (7)
CODICIL: a variety of fish is followed by the abbreviation for an Integrated Circuit and the middle letters (essentially) of [b]IL[l]

11a Most important to fit up computer (9)
MAINFRAME: a four-letter word meaning most important id followed by a verb meaning to fit up

12a / 13a Comedian liking a simple mistake (5,8)
SPIKE MILLIGAN: an anagram (mistake) of LIKING A SIMPLE

15a Report looks hard at flight (6)
STAIRS: sounds like (report) a verb meaning “looks hard at”

17a Anger about Pence’s head being seen in contact with Trump’s backside? A little wave, perhaps (6)
RIPPLE: a verb meaning to anger around the initial letter (head) of P[ence] and the final letter (backside) of [Trum]P

18a Master criminal needs pollsters to replace head of political organisation (8)
MORIARTY: the surname of the master criminal from the Sherlock Holmes stories, and also of a character in the Goon Show, is derived by replacing the initial letter (head – in two successive clues) of a political organisation with the acronym for a polling company which merged with Ipsos in October 2005

21a / 8d Repels Lester, erratic old actor (5,7)
PETER SELLERS: an anagram (erratic) of REPELS LESTER

22a Arm supports with stolen weapon (9)
SLINGSHOT: supports injured arms are followed by a colloquial adjective meaning stolen

24a See 23 Down

26a Punish company blocking non-working doctor (7)
SCOURGE: CO(mpany) inside a hospital doctor without the ON (working)

27a Take apart dreary books in English (9)
DISMANTLE: an adjective meaning dreary has some books of the bible inside and is followed by E(nglish)

28a Football manager‘s second agreement (5)
MOYES: this football manager should have stayed at Everton but accepted the poisoned chalice at Manchester United – a second or brief period of time is followed by a word of agreement


1a Maintained parent didn’t sing (4,3)
KEPT MUM: a verb meaning maintained is followed by a parent to give a phrase meaning didn’t spill the beans

2d Winter Olympic venue‘s very cold greeting (5)
SOCHI: a two-letter word meaning very is followed by C(old) and a greeting

3d Irritate the frail old man 12/13 helped to bring down (5,6)
ADOLF HITLER: an anagram (irritate) of THE FRAIL OLD gives the subject of the first part of 12/13’s biography ***** *****: My Part in His Downfall

4d Say Hertz works can’t grow outwards (4-1-3)
RENT-A-CAR: an anagram (works) of CAN’T inside a verb meaning to bring up or grow

5d Sort of cake half from religious text (6)
ECCLES: this cake is also a character in the Goon Show – the first half, and an abbreviation, of a 12-letter book of the Old Testament

6d / 12d Furniture and computers can improve the appearance of cramped accommodation (3-7,4)
BED-SITTING ROOM: some furniture followed by a two-letter term for computers, a can, and a verb meaning to improve the appearance of gives some cramped accommodation, and the name of a play starring 12/13 that I saw a couple of times at The Mermaid Theatre back in the 1960s

7d Use this to change the current if I finish in the river after sounding drunk (9)
RECTIFIER: IF and I from the clue followed by the final letter (finish) of [th]E and R(iver) preceded by (after) what sounds like an adjective meaning drunk or intoxicated

8d See 21 Across

12d See 6 Down

14d Makes up cheek, hearing river underground (9)
LIPSTICKS: a three-letter word meaning cheek or impudence followed by what sounds like (hearing) the underground river in Greek mythology across which Charon ferried the souls of the dead

16d Broken nose, in US, is something not worth talking about (3-5)
NON-ISSUE: an anagram (broken) of NOSE IN US

17d Agent does badly placed in trust (7)
REPOSED: an agent followed by an anagram (badly) of DOES

19d Drivels incessantly and eats – try going off (7)
YATTERS: an anagram (going off) of EATS TRY

20d View first of some exercises to perform outside (6)
ASPECT: the initial letter (first) of S[ome] and some exercises inside a verb meaning to perform

23d / 24a Songs of Praise presenter‘s hoarse cry about decoration (5,7)
HARRY SECOMBE: an anagram (about) of HOARSE CRY followed by a decoration or award

25d Way of working with America’s Big Bird (3)
MOA: an abbreviation of way of working followed by A(merica)

24 comments on “NTSPP – 545

  1. Very enjoyable with a comedy theme – thanks Alchemi.
    I didn’t know the 1a porridge.
    The clues I liked best were 26a, 3d and 6/12d.

    There’s a typo in 20d.

  2. I trotted through this until 14d where I went wrong with the river part, couldn’t get the Italian one out of my head
    Not a great fan of names in crosswords but this was nicely done
    9a means absolutely nothing to me, no idea about the book or the reference so revealed – still none the wiser!
    Very enjoyable, thanks Alchemi

      1. Yes, I probably should but I know I won’t – this philistine doesn’t do fiction, arts and culture etc, Greek mythology aside
        No time for fiction, I haven’t finished the dictionary yet! :grin:

  3. An enjoyable themed crossword perfect for solving over lunch

    Thanks to Alchemi and in advance to BD

  4. After last week’s impenetrable Radler (for me anyway) a lovely crossword where even I couldn’t fail to spot the theme. Every bit as enjoyable as today’s Prize in the Telegraph so thanks Alchemi.

  5. Like Gazza, I was unfamiliar with the 1a porridge so that was a ‘guess and look up’ moment and I arrived at 9a by virtue of the wordplay and then a question to Mr G.
    The theme wasn’t really ‘my thing’ although I do remember laughing out loud at The Party when I saw it for the first time.
    26a was probably my favourite with mentions for 22&27a plus 1d.

    Thanks to Alchemi for bringing us the puzzle.

  6. Thank you Alchemi. My favourite was Will’s fish & chips in 10a.

    I didn’t know the long term for 6d/12d, only its abbreviation (and apparently I’d never thought to question what the abbreviation is abbreviating).

    I revealed a few letters and there’s a bunch I still don’t understand, so I’m looking forward to enlightenment tomorrow.

  7. Most enjoyable Alchemi with just the right degree of difficulty for an NTSPP. The theme (although a blast from the past) and the anagrams helped but the best clues were those unrelated.
    I especially liked 10&17a, thought the surfaces for 18&28a were good, plus 1&14d….where there’s a very good American rock band named after the river in question.

  8. Great fun and appreciated the theme. Struggled with 18a, mainly because the acronym used in the wordplay was new to us.
    Thanks Alchemi.

    1. It was a UK business, often mentioned at election time when opinion polls are in the news, labelled by those who have conducted them. I hadn’t realized it was an acronym until your comment: despite being styled in capitals, it’s pronounced as a word.

  9. Thanks for the kind comments. This started out as a 12/13 tribute, but as the grid began to fill it became clear that 23/24 and 21/8 were determined to insinuate themselves. 3d was my favourite clue.

    I have to take issue with Stephen L, though. As purveyors of American second-generation pseudo-metal, a very dubious sub-genre to begin with, they were distinctly below average. Not quite bad enough to merit “dreadful”, but getting there.

    1. Ooooh Alchemi, tut tut tut.
      I hereby withdraw every complimentary comment in my post!!!!

  10. Thanks Dave. ECCLES and MORIARTY were both played by Milligna, the famous typing error. As I said above, this was supposed to be about Spike, but the other two Goons fitted better than somehow squeezing Beachcomber in.

  11. Many thanks for the review which cleared up my parsing hiccups with the ‘chip’ in 10a and the ‘drunk’ in 7d.
    Still not sure about ‘makes up’ in 14d, it just looks wrong!

    1. I’m pleased to see that someone else is struggling with “makes up”. I was hoping for clarification in the review. Surely it would only work if lipstick was a verb, which it certainly isn’t.

      1. “Surely it would only work if lipstick was a verb, which it certainly isn’t.” It’s a good idea to check before making statements like that as Chambers disagrees:

        transitive verb and intransitive verb
        To paint with (a) lipstick

  12. Very nice!
    Thanks to Alchemi for the enjoyment and to BD for the review and the link to the characters – brought back a lot of pleasant memories.

  13. Thanks for the explanations, Big Dave. I didn’t know the 3d book, nor that some of the other answers were also part of the theme.

    Also, I didn’t know 23d/24a was a Songs of Praise presenter. I solved the clue before realizing that I was actually remembering him from ITV’s rival hymns-and-chat programme!

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