NTSPP 650 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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A Puzzle by Silvanus

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Silvanus brings us one of his excellent crosswords for our Saturday afternoon entertainment – this one has a theme based on the old TV series 9a/23d


1a    Socialises with old British aristocrats after host’s introduction (7)
HOBNOBS The abbreviations for Old and British and an informal term for aristocrats go after the ‘introduction’ of Host

5a    Fear the dimwit admits having a safe electrical connection? (7)
EARTHED Hidden in (admitted by) fEAR THE Dimwit

9a    Fortified wine mum avoided, replaced by soft drink (5)
PERRY To get some fermented pear juice, take some fortified wine, remove the instruction to be quiet (mum avoided) and replace it with the musical abbreviation for soft

10a    One always around women is male and frisky (6,3)
LADIES MAN An anagram (frisky) of IS MALE AND

11d    Simple copper possibly on track to arrest American (10)
ELEMENTARY One of the definitions of copper is a chemical xxxxxxx. This should be added to an abbreviated railway, and the abbreviation for American inserted (to arrest)

12a    It’s used to model cases of criminal activity (4)
CLAY The ‘cases’ of CriminaL and ActivitY

14a    They neuter stray cats, mousers mostly, across Los Angeles (12)
EMASCULATORS An anagram (stray) of CATS and most of MOUSERs into which is inserted the abbreviation for Los Angeles

18a    Where ladies’ footwear may be seen as providing surplus inventory (12)
OVERSTOCKING A description (4, 8) of where a lady’s shoe might go

21a    Murmur from right behind Polish revolutionary (4)
BURR This murmur is a continual humming sound. The abbreviation for right goes behind a reversal (revolutionary) of a synonym for polish

22a    Pledge loyalty (10)
COMMITMENT Double definition

25a    Fulham FC score unexpectedly, securing tense game (9)
COTTAGERS The nickname for Fulham Football Club is an anagram (unexpectedly) of SCORE ‘securing’ the abbreviation for Tense and a children’s game

26a    School-friend ultimately has inclination to be famous bowler (5)
DRAKE This bowler has nothing to do with cricket. The ultimate letter of school-frienD and an inclination from the vertical

27a    Aboard ship Dutch cheese regularly is a hit (7)
SUCCESS The regular letters of dUtCh ChEeSe inserted (aboard) an abbreviated steam ship

28a    Beginning new climb (7)
NASCENT The abbreviation for new and a climb


1d    Seed-corn container, very large one minus lid (6)
HOPPER Something very large without its first letter (minus lid)d

2d    Served up unlimited free nosh and fast food (6)
BURGER A reversal (served up) of the inside (unlimited) letters of fREe and an informal word for food (nosh)

3d    Unknown gas monkey somehow inhales, requiring breathing apparatus (6,4)
OXYGEN MASK An anagram (somehow) of GAS MONKEY ‘inhales’ a mathematical unknown

4d    Rent from student occupying narrow strip of land (5)
SPLIT The ‘usual’ abbreviated student inserted into (occupying) a narrow strip of land

5d    Remind Gerry occasionally to meet Bob, pillow stuffing supplier (5,4)
EIDER DUCK The occasional letters of rEmInD gErRy followed by a verb meaning to drop down (bob)

6d    Smell coming from vent reportedly (4)
REEK A homophone (reportedly) of a synonym for vent

7d    Extremely ill-equipped leaving Midlothian, moving somewhere near Glasgow (8)
HAMILTON An anagram (moving) of MidLOTHIAN once the extreme letters of Ill-equippeD have left

8d    Foppish comic is hard to support (8)
DANDYISH A well-known weekly comic supported by, in a Down solution, by IS (from the clue) and the abbreviation for Hard

13d    Isn’t Madge suspicious about university degrees indicating brightness? (10)
MAGNITUDE An anagram (suspicious) of ISNT MADGE ‘about’ U (University)

15d    Short breaks during trip that’s about visiting bars (9)
STOPOVER A synonym for about ‘visiting’ part of a verb meaning bars or prevents

16d    Deer start to roam over English county (8)
ROEBUCKS The ‘start’ to Roam, abbreviations for Over and English, and an abbreviated county

17d    Regret over stopping Bill virtually becoming hysterical (8)
NEUROTIC A reversal of a synonym of regret inserted into all most all (virtually) of a notice, the result then reversed (over)

19d    Refuse small payment entertaining clients essentially (6)
SEWAGE The abbreviation for small and a payment for work ‘entertaining’ the essential letter of cliEnts

20d    Support protest at intervals about road (6)
STREET A reversal (about) of a golf ‘support’ and the even (at intervals) letters of pRoTeS

23d    Builder chap is inspiring to such an extent (5)
MASON A chap ‘inspiring’ an adverb meaning to such an extent

24d    Shower audibly making sound (4)
HALE A homophone (audibly) of a shower of frozen rain

I realise that I didn’t find all the themed people but these are the ones I did:

9a/16d Perry Mason played by 21a [Raymond] Burr

20d [Della] Street played by 24d [Barbara] Hale

26a [Paul] Drake played by 1d [William] Hopper

7d/2d Hamilton Burger




35 comments on “NTSPP 650
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  1. Very enjoyable indeed – many thanks to Silvanus.
    From a cornucopia of candidates for honourable mentions I’ll select 1a, 3d, 5d and 15d.

    1. Hi Gazza,

      Many thanks indeed. There is also a theme, albeit quite an obscure one, to which many of the answers relate.

      1. I always forget to look for a theme but I now see it’s an old TV Series.I can see 8 references but I’ve probably missed some.

  2. The second solve pre-caffeine of my Saturday morning, and the first was not the SPP. Straightforward and good fun.

    Solved ‘on-line’ because of problems with ‘The requested page could not be found’ but that did not slow me down.

    Gold stars for 18a and 28a and a double gold star for 25a.

    Thanks Silvanus and thanks in advance to CS.

  3. Has anyone managed to download a PDF version of this week’s puzzle? I am getting a 404 error.
    Thanks for any help!
    As I posted this I note Senf has reported the same problem…

  4. What a lovely surprise to find a Silvanus puzzle two days running even though this one was substantially tougher than yesterday’s back-pager. My page is littered with ticks and, after a struggle to make a selection, my podium choices are 12a, 18a & 3d.

    I didn’t spot the theme originally but, prompted by Silvanus’ reply to Gazza, I did manage to identify it and found 9 items.

    Many thanks to Silvanus and in advance to CS.

    1. Thanks a lot, RD.

      There are ten themed answers, but I suspect the one you haven’t got is the character who appeared only in the final series.

    2. I ‘went the other way’ and would consider that this is less challenging than yesterday’s back pager.

      With e-help, I have found ten answers that appear to fit the theme boldly assuming that I have identified the theme!

  5. Whoopee – Silvanus two days on the run, how lucky are we!
    My only real problem in this one came from knowing absolutely nothing about Fulham FC – having asked for assistance from Mr G I can’t help thinking that the team would probably be happy to ditch that particular nickname……..
    Something of an impossible task to isolate a favourite although I do particularly like the ‘socialising’ use of 1a.
    As for the theme – I think I’d be struck off our setter’s Christmas Card list if I hadn’t registered that one!

    I do hope Mr K can sort out the pdf issue – I’d hate for anyone to miss out on such an enjoyable solve. The theme tune will doubtless be my earworm for the remainder of the day.

    1. Thank you very much, Jane.

      I suspect the theme might be right up the street of a certain Mr Clark, but I’m not sure the NTSPPs are normally on his radar.

      1. Well, after Jane alerted me to your reference to me, Silvanus, I did indeed access the NTSPP and needed a bit of e-help to finish it, most enjoyably I must add. But I was unaware of a theme (blinkered me, so intent on just the solve) until I read through these comments. Actually, I was not a particular fan of this show, having watched it only sporadically, but I did locate at least 7 terms cognate with your theme (I think). Those college and grad-school days when the show flourished kept me far away from television sets, but when I visited my parents on holidays, they were great fans. Thanks for the thought and also for the pleasure.

    1. Top Bloke! Many thanks. I can now retire to my study with fountain pen in one hand & a glass of Mcewan’s Champion in the other.

    2. Thanks, RD, that worked a treat. Now I can print it off and go back into the garden to enjoy an NTSPP as well as the sunny day.

    3. Thank you very much RD. I am now very happy as I have it on paper. I thanked you a little earlier but I must have mistyped my email address as the comment went into moderation and has subsequently disappeared… So here goes again, with apologies to Mr K or CS for the problem I caused.

      1. Your original comment was still in moderation. One of those afternoons when all of us who could have rescued you have been busy with other things

        1. No matter. My apologies again for causing a problem when you all had your hands full. Enjoy your Sunday crypticsue and thank you for all you do for us. Its much appreciated.

    4. Thank you Rabbit Dave. Just been able to print off and we shall enjoy this crossword this evening. Great!

    5. Apologies to readers and to Silvanus for the typo in the PDF link. It’s now fixed. Thanks RD for stepping in with a workaround.

  6. Many thanks Silvanus, great fun. Although I spotted the theme’s title and lead actor I knew nothing more about it – thanks to Wikipedia now have all ten :-) Top clues throughout, faves 9a, 26a & 15d. Thanks again, and in advance to CS for review.

  7. Absolutely delightful puzzle (as yours always are of course!), thank you Silvanus. The subject of the theme is somewhat before my time, so rather over my head I’m afraid, but I really enjoyed the challenge. Podium places to 25a, 26a, 16d & 24d.

    Thank you in advance to CS.

  8. All was going well until the SE corner where 19d in particular held me up for much longer than it should have done – so I put the puzzle aside, came back to it later et voila..!
    I had noticed the comments earlier regarding a theme so was on the look out for it, but it was from so long ago that I could only recall the eponymous main character and the actor who played him. Like Fez I used an e-search to help find all 10, and it might have helped me out in the SE corner if my recall had been better! Thanks, Silvanus, for the afternoon entertainment – my favourite clues today were 10a, 18a, 3d, 20d and 24d.
    Thanks again to RD for enabling me to enjoy my entertainment in a sun-filled garden :good:

  9. Very enjoyable indeed, especially on full parsing where the cleverness and wit of the wordplay became fully apparent.
    I particularly liked 1,18& 25a plus 2,16&19d but runaway winner for me is the brilliant anagram at 10a.
    Thanks Silvanus and thanks in advance to CS

  10. That was good fun, and fairly quick at first, slowing up in the bottom half.
    Spotted what I thought what was probably a theme from the title and star alone, but didn’t get everything. If I’m at home and shirking I sometimes alternate that on CBS Reality with episodes of Judge Judy. (I would read Middlemarch again but I’ve lost it :???: )
    27d was what held me up the longest, ridiculously. Just couldn’t see the reversal at all! 26a also fooled me into looking for a cricketer, and amongst many great clues my favourites included 5a, 10a, 12a and 27a, the latter a tough word to clue and a lovely alternate letter find.

  11. We needed help with the Fulham FC of course and totally missed the theme.
    Lots of clever clues and an enjoyable solve.
    Thanks Silvanus.

  12. We totally missed the theme also even though Mr T used to watch it weekly. That didn’t deter from the enjoyment of the solve. Thank you Silvanus. 24d eluded us but otherwise completed. Favourites were 9a, 10a, 18a, 26a and 19d. Thanks also to CS.

  13. Many thanks, CS, for such a beautifully illustrated review – a fitting complement to such a splendid puzzle.

  14. Many thanks to CS for her review and to Tilsit, Mr K and anyone else involved in setting up the puzzle for publication whilst BD is out of action. Thank you as well to everyone who tackled the puzzle and took the trouble to comment.

    During lockdown in 2020, I became addicted to the show in question (broadcast in the UK on the CBS Drama channel) and at a uncertain time it was a beacon of stability and a welcome form of escapism and distraction from a period I hope we never have to endure again. I thought the least I could do was to express my thanks in the form of a puzzle!

    It’s quite remarkable how over 270 programmes were made over its nine-year run, and it provided early opportunities to the likes of Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, the Star Trek trio of Leonard Nimoy, George Takei and DeForest Kelley and many others. What endeared me most to the show was the interaction between the main cast members and it’s clear that there was a definite chemistry that translated from set to screen. The “family” feel extended to those working behind the camera, to the extent that, in the very last episode broadcast, members of the crew, cameramen, writers, producers and so on were given the chance to appear on screen in a case involving a death in a film studio!

    The tenth and most obscure of the themed references (the only one to escape CS) is (Terrance) CLAY, (played by Dan Tobin) the eponymous owner of the restaurant where many cases were discussed and verdicts analysed in the final 1965/66 season. I’m sorry I couldn’t find a place for Lieutenant Tragg (Ray Collins), he really deserved to be included.

  15. An enjoyable solve although, like Spartacus, I slowed down in the SE corner. Didn’t spot that there was a theme, let alone what it was, but no matter, one didn’t need to know it. Thanks, Silvanus and CS.

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