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DT 29723

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29723

Hints and tips by Deep Threat

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ***

Good morning from South Devon, where Mrs DT and I are dodging the rain while having a break in the caravan. I’m on a limited internet connection, so a rather minimalist blog today.

I found today’s puzzle quite tricky, but the answers gradually fell into place, the right-hand side more readily than the left.

In the hints below, the definitions are underlined. The answers are hidden under the ANSWER buttons, so don’t click if you don’t want to see them.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a           Tell a learner is relaxed (8)
INFORMAL – Another word for ‘tell’ followed by A (from the clue) and the usual indication of a learner driver.

6a           Harry and Queen on stamp (6)
BADGER – A stamp or emblem, followed by the Latin abbreviation for a queen.

9a           Part of aircraft soldiers modify (6)
TAILOR – The rear end of an aircraft, followed by the usual abbreviation for soldiers who are not officers.

10a         Race is on to rectify situation (8)
SCENARIO – Anagram (to rectify) of RACE IS ON.

11a         Straight students primarily drink pop (4-4)
SLAP-BANG – The definition refers to going straight or headlong into a situation. Put together the first letter (primarily)of Students, a verb for ‘drink’, and a pop or explosion.

12a         Come down on press, receiving popular backing (6)
PUNISH – Reverse (backing) a two-letter word for ‘popular’ and insert it into a verb meaning ‘press (upon)’.

13a         Excess publicity about show? Definitely (12)
OVEREXPOSURE – Put together another word for ‘about’ or ‘concerning’, a big trade show, and another word for ‘definitely’.

16a         Son has played with top six players (12)
SAXOPHONISTS – Anagram (played) of SON HAS and TOP SIX.

19a         Accommodation that’s popular recluse regularly ignored (6)
HOTELS – Another informal word for ‘popular’, followed by alternate letters (regularly ignored) of rEcLuSe.

21a         Verbally state deal for canvas used in craft (8)
MAINSAIL – This sounds like (verbally) a US state and a trading deal, and refers to the largest piece of canvas on a sailing ship.

23a         Under obligation remain with husband from early days (8)
BEHOLDEN – Another word for ‘remain’ or ‘exist’, followed by an abbreviation for Husband and an archaic word for ‘from early days’.

24a         Measure by figure to block alien (6)
EXTENT – Put together a letter which looks like the sign for ‘(multiplied) by’ and a cardinal number. Then wrap the usual cinematic alien around the result.

25a         Alcohol diligently on vacation put on cereal (6)
BRANDY – An unattractive form of breakfast cereal followed by the outside letters (on vacation) of D(iligentl)Y.

26a         Stay after farewell call (4,4)
LAST POST – A word for ‘stay’ or ‘endure’ followed by the Latin word for ‘after’.


2d           Knight noble, Yankee not quite (6)
NEARLY – Put together the chess notation for a knight, a rank in the nobility, and the letter represented by Yankee in the NATO alphabet.

3d           Content to exploit exotic flower (5)
OXLIP – First find the inside letters (content) of (e)XPLOI(t), then make an anagram of them (exotic) to get a flower.

4d           Search in boggy place somewhere in Africa (9)
MARRAKESH – A term for a boggy place is wrapped round another word for ‘search’ (possibly using a tool with teeth).

5d           Food making gas rise within passage (7)
LASAGNE – A narrow street or passage is wrapped round the reverse (rise, in a Down clue) of GAS (from the clue).

6d           Signal swimmer in lead to return (5)
BLEEP – Wrap the chemical symbol for lead round a type of fish, then reverse the result (to return), to get an electronic signal.

7d           Gin mixed with soda is what doctor might give you (9)
DIAGNOSIS – Anagram (mixed) of GIN SODA IS.

8d           Girl interrupts listener, unknown agent (8)
EMISSARY – A part of the body used for listening is wrapped round a form of address for a young girl, then an algebraic unknown is added.

13d         Maybe Yoko and John’s last English broadcast without anyone else (2,4,3)
ON ONE’S OWN – Put together Yoko’s surname, the last letter of JohN, an abbreviation for English, and ‘broadcast’ like seed.

14d         Aggression from cat holding glare (9)
PUSHINESS – A term of endearment for a cat is wrapped roubd the sort of ‘glare’ that the sun does.

15d         Rebel base rout destroyed (8)
SABOTEUR – Anagram (destroyed) of BASE ROUT.

17d         Minor extraction of venom in a leg (7)
NOMINAL – Hidden in the clue.

18d         Devotees of US sitcom first for ‘Rachel cut’ (6)
FIENDS – A well-known American sitcom which recently had a reunion episode has the R (first for Rachel) removed.

20d         Tricky to cover bill, unfortunately (5)
SADLY – Another word for ‘tricky’ or ‘sneaky’ wrapped round a short word for a bill or poster.

22d         Overturned position is for exercise (3-2)
SIT-UP – Put together a verb meaning ‘position’ and IS (from the clue), then reverse (overturned) the result.

The Quick Crossword pun FOREIGN + DAFT = FORE AND AFT

81 comments on “DT 29723

  1. 4*/5*. I found parts of this extremely enjoyable puzzle from Mr 4X very challenging with 11a, 3d & 13d making it onto my podium.

    Many thanks to proXimal for the fun and to DT for the review.

  2. Also in South Devon dodging showers I found half these clues fell easily and the other half certainly did not. A definite ***/** for me: I couldn’t for the life of me see why 6a, 11a and 3d were what they obviously were so thanks to Deep Threat for his explanations and thanks to the setter for a stiff Friday challenge with my COTD being the elegant 14d. Off to the pub this pm to recover.

  3. This was an excellent Friday cryptic, full of invention and pleasingly awkward to solve. The clue mix added to the enjoyment. 3d was my favourite ahead of 16a.

    My thanks to proXimal for the challenge and to DT.

  4. A challenging puzzle with some very clever clues and great misdirection, this was more enjoyable than yesterday’s puzzle, despite the racket from the new garage door being installed whilst I was completing it (4*/ 4*). 16a was a great anagram and 21a a good charade. I chuckled at 26a but my COTD was 14d where the penny droppeed only after I stopped looking for female cats. Thank you to DT for the hints and to the compiler.

  5. Excellent end of the week Friday puzzle.
    So many outstanding clues ,liked 16a for its surface and 23a, favourite was 24a.
    11a was a new synonym for me confirmed in my tatty Chambers, going for a ***/****.
    Thanks DT for parsing 13a, which eluded me, and Setter for the fun.

  6. Very tricky indeed but altogether enjoyable. The SE and the NW held me i up considerably, but once 11, 21, and 26a yielded to my persistence, I was home free. What a terrific sense of satisfaction that was. Podium stars really shone today: 13d (COTD), 14d, & 23a, with many honourable mentions. Many thanks to DT and to proXimal. 3.5* / 5*

    1. Hope you came through Elsa ok. We saw the reports from the Charleston area last night, and the flooding in NY, and it hadn’t even got there yet. We learnt years ago that Tropical Storms can do a lot of damage. Also learnt never to say of hurricanes “it’s only a Cat 1”…

      1. Thanks, BL. Except for some leaking in the living room, around the chimney, we did all right. Lost a few limbs but no other damage, as far as we can tell. This was a humdinger of a tropical storm, though, since the highest wind gust recorded here was just 50 mph; it was the torrential, pounding rain that did most of the damage.

  7. Just me then – I thought this was the trickiest backpager for some time -but I did enjoy the battle. My favourites were 6d and 18a, the latter because of the wordplay because devotees of the US sitcom did indeed go to the hairdressers and ask for a ‘Rachel cut’

    Thanks to Mr X and DT

  8. Excellent puzzle. Slow start but suspecting it may be Mr 4 X certainly helped. Last in was 11a which was a bit of a bung in as I didn’t parse it entirely correctly. I thought you could probably pick a couple of podiums with this one but I won’t be greedy & will stick to 3&13d along with 16a.
    Thanks to proXimal & to DT – hope the weather improves
    Ps just started yesterday’s Toughie & by golly it is.

  9. I, too, found this very tricky and nearly gave up with a lot of blanks in the SE. However, after a spot of breakfast, I returned to the fray and won in ***** time. I didn’t even mark any of the clues for a special mention.

    Many thanks to the setter and DT.

  10. Very enjoyable Friday puzzle – but why on earth can I never remember the synonym for Harry and am always misdirected towards the Prince? Every. Single. Time.

  11. By proXimal standards, a real head scratcher but still more doable than yesterday’s Beam-like Ray T – ***/****.

    Candidates for favourite – 1a, 24a, 4d, and 14d – and the winner is 24a.

    Thanks to the aforementioned proXimal and to DT.

  12. Very enjoyable with a bit of head scratching in places. 3d was my last one in and gets my vote today.

    Thanks to DT and today’s setter.

  13. What a cracking puzze, completed either side of an appointment which ruimed my morning swim.
    Had a hunch from early on that it was the X man and it did help with the clever 3d, my last in. Didn’t find it half as tricky as yesterday but more enjoyable.
    Liked lots but narrowed down to 9,11,12&16a (anagram of the week) plus 4,6&13d
    Many thanks to DT and Proximal for the top notch entertainment

  14. Like yesterday’s, another excellent puzzle. Great clues, a pretty stiff challenge, no obscurities and and a very enjoyable solve with a real sense of achievement at the end. You could say a paragon of a back-page puzzle – a target for other setters (including Rookies) to emulate. Too many cracking clues to pick a favourite out. Ratings, same as yesterday: 4*, 4.5*

  15. Always look forward to proXimal’s.
    Today didn’t disappoint.
    Hard but very satisfying.
    Spending too long on 11a put me into more than *** time.
    Many thanks, and thanks to DT.

  16. In North Devon where there are no showers yet but I have put some laundry on the line to encourage them to come this way.
    I was glad of a bit of help with the top left corner and made hard work of a few others, but that’s half the fun really, isn’t it? I did find it easier than a couple of others in what seems to have been a trickier than usual week.
    Thanks to DT and the setter for a most enjoyable morning with too many good clues to pick out a favourite.

    1. Be careful what you wish for – we’ve just had half an inch of rain in about half an hour

  17. Fascinating…… the crossword? No the weather! I divide my time between South Devon and Kent and today I’m in the right place.
    Enjoyed the crossword which I turned to after grinding to a halt in today’s Toughie. Well, it is Friday!

  18. I found this very difficult but I often find a puzzle more difficult if I have had to go into town, which I did this morning. I needed an eye test after having had my second cataract op. First time in the county town for nearly two years and I found it a little disconcerting. Folk wandering around as though there was no such thing as a pandemic. The pubs were heaving – at 9 in the morning!

    Anyway it all numbed the grey cells so I found it difficult to focus on the crossword. That is my excuse and I’m sticking to it. :grin:

    Many thanks to the setter and to DT.

    1. I hope your cataract operation is as successful as both of mine have been.

      1. The second one was done about two months ago, DG. It is wonderful to have full binocular vision again. The optician found nothing wrong with my eyes at all so new reading glasses ordered. :grin:

  19. This was much kinder than yesterday’s offering but still pretty tricky in places. Very satisfactory to finish. The worst part of the day has been trying to get into the container containing my washing machine capsules. It is not only childproof, its Manders’ proof as well. I bet a 5 year old would sort it out for me. Thanks to the setter and DT.

  20. Yes, tricky but fair and eventually doable. I liked 1a and 8 and 13 down have a tick by them. I think DT is a bit hard on the breakfast cereal, the trick is to mix it with others. I think 23a is a very nice word. Manders – don’t get me going in packaging! The temptation is to get a large knife and stab. No wonder A & E is always crowded.

  21. I found this trickier than yesterday but ultimately a very satisfying solve. I thought 3d was a very clever construct and I enjoyed the surface reads of 16a and 18d, so those three make up my podium. A nod also to 6d, my LOI which took me a while to parse.
    Now I can focus on the TdF to see if Cavendish can equal the great Eddy Merckx’s record.
    Thanks to the setter and DT.

      1. When I was young I remember reading an article by a sports correspondent containing a sentence I’ve never forgotten – “There is something, some indefinable quality, which separates the very good from the really great.”. He was writing about the really great Emil Zatopek (who won the 5k, the 10k and the Marathon at the Helsinki Olympic Games).
        It’s a sentiment that I think applies to Cav.

  22. DG I did stab myself quite badly a couple of weeks ago trying to take that plasticky thing off round the top of the Mayo jar, and I still didn’t get ot off!

      1. Thanks JB, my leg is now fully healed but is still bright red with a huge scar so no shorts for me this summer!

        1. Good news and it hasn’t been the weather for shorts any way has it? Now, just keep those knives under control!

    1. You and Daisy made me laugh. I had to resort to a sharp knife this morning to get the plastic bit off the top of a bottle of milk. And as for these child proof washing pod cartons, an open invitation to visit a&e. Why do these things need to be child proof? None of mine would have known how to operate the machine let alone open the washing powder/pod whatever or even where to find them. And I can’t open them either without a fight!

  23. I had problems with 3 Down. To start with I think the clue is a gross misuse of the English language, but secondly I was assured (wrongly) by my usually trusty Chambers Crossword Dictionary that the flower has six letters with an S in the middle. But thanks to the Setter and D.T.

    1. A cowslip contains an S an oxlip doesn’t. A cow and an ox are both cattle. I wonder why the plants names have a bovine connection. As for the clue, the surface reads well, it tells one exactly what to do with what to arrive at an answer. My first thought was Orchid as I had the first letter O already in. Orchid only works if you put two letters in one square and not many setters are known to do that.

      1. Do you say “I am going to get content to a jar of marmalade”? No, you say “of” – or I do.
        But on the subject of Crossword Dictionaries, has anyone else been given – I hope they didn’t pay for it – The Amazon Book of Crossword Phrases, by Jack Dunwoody. He must have spent a lifetime compiling it; it is laid out very confusingly, the pages are not numbered, it weighs 3 pounds and looks like it was printed in 1980 on a daisy-wheel printer. I got it for Christmas and tried to use it twice – only once successfully. Before anyone asks, the answer to 11a isn’t in it. Fine if you have a table with one leg just over two inches short.

        1. The old English ‘slyppe’ means paste or slime meaning a cow pat. Both oxlips and cowslips tend to grow where these are found in abundance.

        2. A breeder of rare orchids who creates a new and saleable orchid might be content to exploit his exotic flower for financial gain. Content can be a verb, an adjective and a noun. Any road up, it’s only a crossword puzzle, a mere bagatelle, a trivial pursuit intended to bring enjoyment and I’m off to the pub where I will be perfectly content to neck the content of a pint pot and savour the feeling of content that follows. Barn Owl bitter if you beat me to https://thebarnwilley.co.uk/

          1. Maybe you mean that in the surface “content” (adjective) means happy/satisfied making it grammatically smooth. But in the word-play (where the jiggery-pokery comes in) “content” (plural noun) means constituents/elements? That’s how I’d justify it to myself.

        3. I can’t understand why people are harping on about the 6-letter “cowslip” when the clue leads quite obviously to the 5-letter “oxlip” (the answer couldn’t possibly be anything else). The two flowers are quite different in appearance also. Regarding the grammar, I think the use is informal. I have heard people say things like: “What’s the point to [of] doing that?”

          1. Jose, I think Tumbert is referring to the alternative 6-letter version “oxslip”, which, as Senf mentions below, is listed in the BRB as a Shakespearean spelling.

            1. RD, thank you. Yes, I’ve referred to that below in reply to Senf (whilst you were writing it seems). I can see now that MP introduced cowslips into the mix as an incidental topic with a bovine theme. Whilst you’re on, please have a look at my question to MP above at 5.35 and see if you agree with any of that. I do get confused when a word in a clue seems to command two parts of speech.

              1. Jose, using different parts of speech for the same word, firstly, for the wordplay, and, secondly, for the surface reading, is a key element of disguise for the setter. I think you are correct that “content” as used in this specific clue is an adjective for the purposes of the surface and a noun as part of the wordplay.

                1. Thank you. I was perfectly happy with the clue until Tumbert and my goddaughter started quibbling about it, making me doubt myself.

                  1. I’ve been to two pubs and got back home planning a visit to a third tonight. I feel I have used my time wisely. Fish for dinner. Live music later. Enough of the dissection please

    2. The BRB has both versions of the 3d flower but says that the 6 letter version is Shakespearean.

      1. I’ve seen the 5-letter version many times over the decades as an answer, in fact I’d call it an old chestnut. But I’ve never once seen the 6-letter one with the S included. Funny, that …

  24. A lovely puzzle and a steady solve. Just right for a Friday back pager. Thank you ProXimal for such clues as these. Thanks too to DT for the explanations from South Devon. Do you still get excited to go on the Bigbury sea tractor?

  25. Well done, setter-spotters. Thanks to DT for the review and to commenters for comments.

    1. Thanks for the challenge. proXimal and for popping in. It is greatly appreciated.

    2. Thanks for popping in, proXimal, always nice to hear from our setters. Just realised that the next puzzle in my ‘to do’ pile is another one of yours from elsewhere – maybe I’ll pour myself a stiff drink in readiness!

      1. Jane, since you usually enter, and often are selected for the podium, of Chris Lancaster’s weekly clue writing competition, can you clarify something for me? It seems that the clue to write this month is “FREEDOM”, which was also the clue to write for May 21 (I think). If this is in fact the case, how should it be handled? Old submissions re-entered? New submissions – of course avoiding the winners from that competion?

        If not as I perceive, where did I go wrong?

        1. CL tells me that a number of people had been in touch to say that they’d latterly come up with a much better clue and he thought it might be interesting to re-run the challenge and also to see who was awake. I couldn’t possibly say whether I agree with that comment but I suppose it might explain the apparent typo in the heading.

  26. A much nicer puzzle than yesterdays’ horror. **/**** my rating today. Enjoyed this one at a steady solve rate today. Started at the bottom moving up the grid with the NE last area completed.
    Favourites today 11a, 16a, 21a, 6d & 13d with 6d the winner for it misdirection yet simplicity when headed the right way.

    Thanks to proXimal and DT

  27. Yes a nice way to end rather a difficult week, especially yesterday, of puzzles 😟 ***/*** Favourites 1a, 9a & 13d 😃 Thanks to Deep Threat and to proXimal, enjoy the ⚽️ 🤞

  28. I was making hard work of this but after a break, a trip to the supermarket, it came me more easily. Not that I find any of it easy. Hey ho it’s Friday! Favourite was 23a. Thanks to ProXimal and DT.

  29. Like yesterday the bottom half went in easily. The top half resisted.
    Needed a couple of hints
    Thanks to setter and DT

  30. I don’t often comment but felt today I must as I finished a puzzle that didn’t fall into the straightforward category so now feel mighty proud of myself. Favourite clue was 14d as was last one in and was a doh moment when I finally cottoned on thank you to the setter.

  31. Didn’t have chance to look at this one until late afternoon and I had quite a few moments where I thought any solving skills I imagined that I possessed had completely deserted me!
    Close-run thing to declare a favourite but I gave the nod to 13a with 23a hard on its heels.

    Thanks to proXimal for the undoubted challenge and to DT who appears to have floated through this one with his usual consummate ease!

    1. Me too, with 23a, Jane. My father was famous for saying he was 23a to various people and ideas. Come to think of it, so am I occasionally. Not famous, just given to the expression.

  32. Very, very tricky for me, didn’t finish the north but did complete the south, with e-help at times. You’d think I’d be able to solve 6a, we’ve had it often enough goodness knows. Starting in the NW with the acrosses and then to the downs, the first one I solved was 4d! That helped me to get into it, definitely a wavelength thing. I don’t watch sitcoms and know zilch about them, so 18d was last in and solved with e-help. Fave was either 13d or 14d, toss a coin.
    Thanks to proXimal for the workout and to DT for unravelling it all for me. Back to Novak and Denis.

  33. Well I’m going to be contrary again, in that I found Ray T’s puzzle from yesterday much easier to solve than today’s from proXimal, which only goes to prove the wavelength theory. Let me clarify that, easier, but definitely not easy. I used to struggle mightily on Ray T days, so perhaps I will get the hang of these Friday ones eventually. Thanks to proXimal and Deep Threat for today’s challenge.

    1. I’m with you Busy Lizzie! Yesterday’s Ray T was a tough but enjoyable and satisfying solve. Today was just tough!
      Thanks anyway to proXimal and DT

  34. Way out of my league! Not a single answer today. Always dislike ProXimal puzzles but not more so than today.

    1. Totally agree. I didn’t have a lot of time to look at it this morning but I wouldn’t have got anywhere near finished if I’d had all day. I

  35. Agree with ratings and I’m in the slightly easier than yesterday’s camp. Uniquely going for 9a as favourite for all the time I spent trying to think of a part of an aircraft that fitted my checkers. Great fun, so thanks to ProXimal and DT

  36. Found this one even more difficult than yesterday’s and needed a lot of help to finish it. So, not particularly enjoyable for me.
    Thanks to the setter and to Deep Threat.

  37. One can only praise Proximal for his continuous supply of brilliant clues, and managing to include X in every quarter each time. I thoroughly enjoyed this, it was a fairly easy start but a very slow finish, which I seem to have experienced several times. Anyway finish I did, unaided except that I couldn’t parse 18d because I don’t watch American television. It’s dificult to choose a COTD from such an excellent selection, but maybe 14d. Many thanks to Proximal and to DT for what must have been quite hard work.

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