Toughie No 2775 by Elgar
Hints and tips by Gazza
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BD Rating – Difficulty ****/***** – Enjoyment ****
Elgar makes a rare excursion outside his Friday stamping ground to accommodate Micawber’s famous year-end puzzle tomorrow so I have the rare privilege of reviewing one of his puzzles.
4d went in very quickly which was a great help and made the puzzle slightly less daunting than Elgar’s usual head-scratcher. There are a few themes relating to a couple of Dickens novels and their associated films and a famous film director. I’ve probably missed some references so feel free to point these out.
Thanks to Elgar and a Happy and Healthy New Year to him, to all other setters, to our bloggers and all who comment here.
Please leave a comment telling us how you fared and what you thought of the puzzle.
1a The third man‘s ‘expert’, according to TMS? (4)
ABEL: TMS (Test Match Special) is heard on the radio (depressing listening currently!) so we need a homophone of an adjective meaning expert.
3a What’s suspect shared with me at source (4-6)
HEAD-STREAM: an anagram (what’s suspect) of SHARED and ME AT.
8a Nancy’s the unceasingly harsh director (6)
LESTER: one of the definite articles used in Nancy followed by a synonym of harsh without its last letter. Also the surname of a cast member of the 22a/19d film.
9a Drinking in adult bar — is it 22 19 Down, our man in Havana? (8)
HABANERO: what 22a/19d is an example of in literature contains the abbreviation for adult and a verb to bar or exclude.
10a War engineer sits behind barrier (6)
WALLIS: a verb meaning sits or exists follows a barrier. The engineer invented the ‘bouncing bomb’ used by the Dam Busters. Also the surname of a cast member of the 22a/19d film.
11a Very soon, even features of TV will be disabled with purpose (8)
INTENTLY: an informal way of saying very soon (2,3) and the odd letters of an informal word for a TV set.
12 … now this time I’d cut Top of the Pops (8)
NOONTIDE: the abbreviation for time and I’D go inside another way of saying Top of the Pops (2,3). Note that my underlining starts further to the left than usual.
14a Change of course helps to make sociology bearable (4)
16a Audibly register arrival 115 years ago today: ‘4!’ (4)
REED: a homophone of a verb to register. 4d is a cryptic description of the film director born on 30/12/1906 whose films included 20a, 22a, 5d, “1a” and “9a” and a reference in 16d.
18a Cook keeps at it, forgetting crust on this? (5,3)
STEAK PIE: an anagram (cook) of KEEPS AT I[t] without the top letter of this.
19a Working remotely, it’s a fag introducing new property deal after setback (8)
TELERGIC: an abbreviated fag precedes a new property deal and that’s all reversed.
20a Old solver’s checking supplement in? (3,3)
THE KEY: an old possessive pronoun relating to you (i.e. the solver) contains a verb to supplement. “in” here is a noun identifying a means of access.
21a Frozen beginning of Advent, cryptically speaking? (4,4)
ICED OVER: cryptically this could be the start of Advent (3,1) – although this is an approximate date for the Christian season it is usually fixed for Advent calendars.
22a 16 Across, maybe, one enjoying existence having got round? (6)
OLIVER: someone enjoying existence follows the round letter. An actor who had a part in the film of 22a/19d.
23a Don’t worry U’s predecessor about vacuous factional song (3,3,4)
THE RED FLAG: start with a word of comfort (don’t worry) and add the forename of U Thant’s predecessor as Secretary-General of the UN containing the outer letters of factional.
24a Applying moderation, could you make ____ one lie down? (4)
WILD: an anagram (could you make) of the answer plus ONE produces ‘lie down’. Also the surname of a cast member of the 22a/19d film.
1d Permissive swinger will leave a bill unpaid (8)
ALLOWING: remove the informal word for a swinger from ‘a bill’ and add an adjective meaning unpaid.
2d Much less isolated with other people visiting (3,5)
LET ALONE: an adjective meaning isolated contains a Latin expression meaning ‘with other people’.
3d Annual ‘Splashing of the Oars’? (5-4)
HARE’S FOOT: an anagram (splashing) of OF THE OARS.
4d Novel classic, Martha or Tim’s story? (1,9,5)
A CHRISTMAS CAROL: an anagram (novel) of CLASSIC MARTHA OR.
5d Gin and rest in auditorium bar (7)
TRAPEZE: stick together what a gin is an illegal form of and a homophone of a word meaning rest.
6d Toothless PM goes to the country missing leadership (8)
EDENTATE: a UK Prime Minister of the 1950s and a country or nation without its leading letter. I wonder if there’s a bit of satire aimed at the current incumbent here?
7d Play the dodger perhaps, when given a lift in motor yacht or sulky (5)
MOODY: reverse a way of saying ‘play a dodger’ or ‘be idle’ (2,1) inside the abbreviation for a motor yacht. Also a reference to actor Ron who starred in a film of 20a/19d.
13d Strap taken to e.g. Charley Bates, requiring hot ligature (9)
DIPHTHONG: another word for a strap or lash follows an old word for a pickpocket (e.g. Charley Bates in 20a/19d) and the abbreviation for hot.
15d Sweet, sweet shot! (5-3)
BULL’S-EYE: double definition, the second a good shot in darts or archery.
16d Look for a third time at weaver dancing with miner, odd man out (8)
REREVIEW: an anagram (dancing) of WE[a]VER [m]I[n]ER after we’ve taken out the jumbled letters of man.
17d Double-cross screened by director turned up in sequence (8)
DIHYBRID: we need a word for screened or concealed, BY and an abbreviation for director. Now reverse each of the three elements individually. I needed the BRB’s help to find out that the answer means “a cross between parents that differ in two independently heritable characters” (so now you know!).
18d I will accompany entities of the night to enact character reversal (7)
SCROOGE: bring together the Latin word for I and some malevolent fantasy creatures and reverse the lot to get a character from 4d.
19d Then stick at table if one doesn’t dance (5)
TWIST: the alternative option to ‘stick’ when asked whether you want a card at pontoon.
The clues I liked best were 12a (very sneaky), 16a, 1d and 7d. Which one(s) made your list?