Toughie 2775 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2775

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.

Across Clues

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)
GYBE: hidden.

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.

Down Clues

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)

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?


17 comments on “Toughie 2775

  1. A proper Toughie with an easily identifiable theme and lots to enjoy

    Thanks to Elgar and Gazza

    1. I mentioned 16a in the 22a hint. I didn’t know the 24a actor (thanks) and I now discover that 8a and 10a are also cast members of the film – I’ll update the hints.

  2. Thank you Elgar for a real tough Toughie, which I finished with help from you, Gazza, so thanks to you too. A pleasure nevertheless.

  3. It certainly felt like an alternate Friday, with Elgar in a far from friendly Christmas mood, but the theme certainly helped get me through the grid. The usual unparsed bung-ins (thanks Gazza) and some delightfully awkward clues made this a very rewarding puzzle to solve. The ever so slightly naughty 6d was my favourite of many fine clues.

    Thanks to both Elgar and Gazza.

  4. Yowzer! You can certainly tell it’s Elgar. This was one I had to come back to after a rest – twice, actually. My initial pass left a handful in the bottom half, along with 6d and 9a. A second go got me everything except 19a, which neither of my last-resort online crossword solvers knew, so I was baffled until after my next break, whereafter I saw it immediately and was able to confirm that the BRB has it. Should have got it sooner, because I teach Greek, for heaven’s sake!

    Well, I think Gazza’s ratings are spot on and bravo to Elgar for another outstanding puzzle. Thanks to Gazza for explaining two bung-ins – 12a (Elgar, you fiend!) and 1d where I didn’t spot ‘bi’ for swinger.

    And a happy new year to you both.

  5. A couple that I didn’t get and a couple that I couldn’t parse but learned that 8a was also an osteopath, that 22/16a was an alcoholic and that 10a was behind the famous bouncing bombs.
    In 7d, I thought Ron played Fagin.
    Thanks to Elgar for a Dickens of a crossword and to Gazza for helping me across the finishing line.

  6. What a shock to see Elgar in a Thursday slot. I feel quite disoriented. I know when I’m beaten so I am heading quickly to the back page.

  7. Hugely enjoyable – perhaps slightly gentler than normal for Elgar? Still very tough though, of course. Thanks for the review Gazza – the parsing of 23a eluded me; LOI 20a I needed to Google a list of the thematic films. No favourites just superb throughout, especially with so much thematic material. (I’m not sure us ‘rookies’ would get away with the indirectness in 11a, or the grid design!)
    Thanks Elgar & Gazza – and Miffypops for online access!

  8. I usually have a good crack at Elgar, but as soon as I saw the theme/references it became abundantly clear that this crossword is definitely not my cup of tea
    I don’t know any films or actors from last century (or this one for that matter) – ‘your loss’ some say, but I beg to differ…
    Many thanks and best wishes to Elgar and Gazza

  9. I haven’t looked at any of the above yet, but I’ve looked through all the clues twice, and I still have only 3 solutions I’m happy with, and one I’m not convinced is ok.
    I may give it another go tomorrow.

  10. I haven’t looked at any of the above yet, but I’ve had a look through all the clues twice, and I still have only 3 solutions I’m happy with, and one I’m not convinced is ok.
    I may give it another go tomorrow.

  11. Resorted to the hints for the last 4 clues, and I’m glad I did as I wouldn’t have got any of them. Although I was on the right lines with a couple but missing a crucial element. Enjoyed the struggle to get that far…

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