6th December 2019

Technology The hacking threat to India’s digital economy dream

Technology The hacking threat to India’s digital economy dream


Technology Businessman taking pile of money, Indian Rupee banknotes, on his desk in a dark officeImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The details of 1.2 million Indian debit cards were available online last month

A recent cyber-attack on a nuclear power plant has sparked a debate on the country’s ability to protect itself in a cyber-war. But experts say Indians should be more worried about the vulnerability of its financial systems. The BBC’s Ayeshea Perera finds out more.

News that India’s biggest nuclear plant – the Kudankulam facility in the southern state of Tamil Nadu – had been subject to a cyber-attack made headlines across the country last month.

It sparked conversations about whether the country was “cyber-ready” and many questioned whether it would be able defend critical infrastructure from malicious digital attacks.

But there is a much bigger issue that affects millions of Indians – debit card hacks and other forms of financial fraud.

Just last month, India’s central bank asked banks to investigate a warning by the Singapore-based cyber-security firm Group-IB that the details of 1.2m debit cards were available online.

And last year hackers were able to siphon off 900m rupees ($12m; £9.7m) from Cosmos bank in the western city of Pune through a malware attack on one of its data suppliers.

Technology Why is India so vulnerable?

“India’s financial systems are extremely vulnerable, because we still rely on international banking networks like Swift to make transactions. International gateways are open vectors of attack for India,” Arun Sukumar, head of the cyber initiative at the Observer Research Foundation think tank, told the BBC.

And a report by cyber-security company Symantec said India was among the top three countries in the world for phishing and malware attacks.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

There are an estimated 900m cards operational in India today

Although this comes down to the sheer size of India’s digital population – the population of France is added every month to the country’s internet – it is a big concern because many first-time internet users are being pushed to use digital payments.

In November 2016, for instance, when the government suddenly removed 80% of the country’s cash from the economy by saying that 1,000 and 500 rupee notes would no longer be valid, Prime Minister Narendra Modi heavily promoted digital payments as an alternative.

Mobile payment platforms – both indigenous (Paytm) and international (Google) – have since become a massive industry in India. A report by Credit-Suisse estimated that mobile payments in India would become a $1tn market by 2023. Credit and debit card payments are also popular, with an estimated 900m cards operational in India today.

“Many of the newest entrants to India’s internet – more than half the 600 million-odd total users – are from the middle or bottom of the pyramid. This means that very often, their digital literacy is low, or they are migrant labourers working in states where they are not familiar with the language. So they are very vulnerable to fraud,” technology expert Prasanto Roy told the BBC.

“And secondly, there is inadequate reporting of fraud by banks, which means sometimes consumers are not even aware of what has happened.”

Technology What kind of fraud is happening?

Financial fraud in India takes many different forms. Some involve hackers fixing skimmers and keyboard cameras to ATMs, which duplicate the card details of unsuspecting users. Others involve calling people up and tricking them into handing over information.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

A lack of ATM standardisation is confusing to first-time users

“The problem is that in a digital transaction lines are blurred and confusing. In the real world there is a clear distinction between giving and receiving. But on a mobile payment platform, this is not always clear. For instance, someone trying to sell a table online might be called by someone posing as a prospective buyer, offering to make an online payment,” Mr Roy explained.

“If that person says that he or she has made a payment and tells you that you will get a code via text message to confirm the transaction, many users would think nothing of it, even if they are asked to tell that person the code. The next thing they know is that the money has been deducted from their account.”

Technology What improvements can be made?

One problem is that the systems themselves are not secure or transparent enough. In the Cosmos fraud for instance, the software was not able to throw up red flags when so many transactions were compromised. And by the time the fraud was discovered, a huge sum of money had been lost.

Furthermore, a lack of standardisation also makes transactions confusing, especially for first-time users. ATMs for instance, come in many different forms and each payment app in the country has a different interface.

Secondly, Mr Sukumar points out that there is also a human problem. People lack even basic awareness of the dangers, leaving both themselves and sometimes entire systems at risk.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

India’s mobile payments market has seen exponential growth

He made a comparison with the 2010 malware attack on an Iranian nuclear plant: “After all, the Stuxnet attack was made possible by an errant staff member who reportedly plugged an infected USB drive into one of the computers at the Natanz nuclear plant.”

Technology What is the government’s role?

Mr Roy says it is for the government and institutions to provide security in financial transactions – not the end user.

“Given the rate of India’s internet growth, it is not possible to rely on just education alone. It’s not possible for everyone to keep up with the sophisticated methods of hackers, especially when they are constantly changing tactics and methods. So the onus has to be on regulators and payment firms to protect users,” he said.

The other problem is that communication between the various cyber-security organisations is just not fast enough.

The Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert), who are the frontline defenders of India’s digital infrastructure, are sometimes too slow to respond to reported threats.

But India is already aware of this. The country is formulating a national cyber-security policy for 2020 and officials have identified six critical areas where policy needs to be where special attention is needed. Finance security is one of these areas.

Ideally, says Mr Roy, the Certs being planned for the six critical areas should communicate with each other, with oversight from a coordinator.

It is only then that India will be able to effectively respond to the risks that come with moving to a largely cashless economy.

6th December 2019

Technology Congo student: ‘I skip meals to buy online data’

Technology Congo student: ‘I skip meals to buy online data’


Technology Men using mobile phonesImage copyright
Getty Images

Bonheur Malenga, a Congolese university student, found himself facing a dilemma one day last month about whether to purchase online data.

“As I was hungry, I didn’t know if I should buy food or get a 24-hour internet bundle,” he told the BBC.

The 27-year-old, who is studying engineering, relies on his parents for financial support – but has been spending more than usual as he has been doing research online for his final-year dissertation.

He lives in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 26% of average monthly income is spent on getting online using mobiles – the easiest way to access the internet here.

“I told myself that staying hungry for a day and a night wouldn’t kill me. So, I just bought the internet bundle and slept on an empty stomach,” he said.

Technology Cost of 1GB of mobile broadband data

Top five and bottom five countries

Mr Malenga says many of his friends face the same dilemma.

DR Congo is classed as the most expensive country to get online in the world, according to the 2019 Affordability Report from the Alliance for Affordable Internet.

The organisation determines affordable internet as paying 2% or less of your average monthly income for 1GB of mobile broadband data.

Technology ‘The cybercafé boss took my shoes’

On the other side of the country, more than 2,000km (about 1,240 miles) east of Kinshasa, Eric Kasinga remembers an embarrassing moment that happened to him a few years ago.

Like many young people living in the town of Bukavu, he had to go to a cybercafé to get online. He was applying for a postgraduate course at a reputable university in The Netherlands.

Technology Eric Kasinga


I felt terribly ashamed. Nobody should have to experience that just for internet”

“The internet was so slow that the whole application process ended up taking three hours instead of one,” he says.

But he only had enough money to pay for an hour.

He explained the situation to the cybercafé manager, hoping he would be allowed to bring the money later.

However, the manager started shouting curses at him, screaming: “The internet is not for poor people.”

For payment, the manager pulled off the new shoes Mr Kasinga was wearing, forcing him to walk the long distance home barefoot.

“I felt terribly ashamed,” he says.

The graduate, who now works for a conservation organisation, was never able to follow up on his university application. He did try to get his shoes back later that week, but the cybercafé manager had already sold them.

“Nobody should have to experience this just for internet,” he says.

Image caption

Access to the internet was recognised by the UN as a human right in July 2016

DR Congo is the fourth-most populated country in Africa, two-thirds the size of western Europe and is rich in the minerals used to make smartphones.

Yet many of its citizens have a hard time accessing basic services such as proper healthcare, drinking water and electricity.

For them, accessing the internet, recognised by the UN as a human right in July 2016, is regarded as a luxury.

The Congolese Post and Telecommunications Regulation Authority (ARPTC) estimates that only 17% of population has online access.

Another recent report also points the growing digital gender gap. More than 33.8% of men compared to 22.6% of women in Africa have online access, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) said.

Technology Internet gender gap

Africa and Europe

Kodjo Ndukuma, an expert on digital rights at Kinshasa’s Université Pédagogique Nationale (UPN), says there are three main reasons for the high costs of the internet.

1. Nobody knows exactly how much it should cost

“The modelling of cost is done when you make calculations based on investments put in by a telecom company, the running cost and the number of subscribers,” he says.

These calculations have been made for voice calls but no telecommunication company has done that for internet data, meaning the regulator cannot put a cap on prices.

“The lack of a clear ceiling gives companies freedom to fix whatever price they want,” says Prof Kojdo.

2. A lack of competition

The number of subscribers and the number of telecom firms has remained stagnant for many years – limiting competition.

“All it takes is for this small number of companies to agree on one thing and nobody can stop them,” says Prof Kojdo.

He gave the example of April 2016 when all the Congolese telecommunication companies, bar one, agreed to increase the price of mobile data by 500%.

3. Over taxation

“Telecommunication companies pay taxes on the national, provincial and sometimes local levels,” says the professor.

“They just put it on the heads of subscribers.”

You may also be interested in:

The government is facing pressure to intervene, following protests by a youth movement known as La Lucha.

Between March and October, the group, acting as a de facto consumer rights organisation, held 11 demonstrations across the country calling for internet data costs to be lowered.

“The regulatory authority told us in a meeting that there are legal limits as to how far they can interfere in the operations of telecom companies,” said Bienvenu Matumo from La Lucha.

“Still, we want the government to do something instead of watching us being scammed.”

The information technology minister was the one who called on the regulator, La Lucha and the telecoms firms to meet and thrash out a solution – the government itself is not allowed by law to interfere.

But the first meeting failed to come up with concrete steps to reduce the costs or improve the quality of internet services.

Technology ‘Fear of eating data’

For businesswoman Vanessa Baya any improvement on the current situation cannot come too soon.



The quality of internet network is so unreliable that I have to switch between more than two different telecom operators in a single day”

She runs a marketing business and relies on the internet to reach her clients.

“The quality of the internet network is so unreliable that I have to switch between more than two different telecom operators in a single day,” she says.

That means buying extra data bundles for each operator, sacrificing other needs. But this does not solve her problems as she is not able to shoulder the cost of her customers.

“Even if I get online and share the catalogue of products with clients, they rarely download it, fearing it may eat up all their data.”

6th December 2019

Environment The cassette that made me a secret daytime DJ

Environment The cassette that made me a secret daytime DJ


environment DJ Moey Hassan in actionImage copyright
Moey Hassan

In the 1980s, many British South Asian teenagers were expected to spend evenings at home, so an underground club scene began to emerge in the afternoons. One of the people behind the “daytimer” trend in Bradford, a young DJ called Moey Hassan, told the BBC’s Kavita Puri how it began.

It is December, 1985 approaching ten at night. Moey Hassan is driving his taxi in Bradford when he stops to pick up a young man. It’s a DJ who wants to go to a nightclub in Leeds. The fare is £5, but – to Moey’s annoyance – the passenger has no cash. He says he’ll pay him later. In the meantime he gives him a cassette, a tape that will change Moey’s life.

Moey had been born in 1966 in Mirpur in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. He has few memories from living there but recalls the house they lived in was made of simple materials and there was lots of family around – his great-grandfather, his grandmother and many others. He laughs heartily as he remembers always being thrown from one auntie to another.

He came to Bradford when he was four. The family lived in a small house not far from one of the city’s many textile mills, where his dad worked shifts. Moey called everyone in the street “uncle” and “auntie” and he thinks they really were, in some way, related to his father.

Image copyright
Moey Hassan

His mum was a housewife. His parents spoke little English – they spoke Mirpuri at home – so Moey was their translator. It was a strict household. Even when he was 18 he wasn’t allowed out after nine. “And if I did go out, I would sneak out through the bathroom window and then climb in back up the drainpipe… It was dangerous because there were spikes and everything.” He breaks into his infectious laugh again. He tells me he would be visiting friends or going out clubbing.

One day his brother suggested he take his grey Datsun taxi out at night. Moey jumped at the chance. Soon he was earning good money and enjoying his freedom.

On that December night when he begrudgingly accepted a tape in payment, he played it on the way home. “I was used to the Top 40 Charts, and I thought that was all there was in the world.” What he heard were sounds he’d never experienced before. The Chicago House scene had just come in with artists like Daryl Pandy and Mr Fingers. There was underground R’n’B, and soul music. “I was just taken aback, I was blown away,” Moey says.

Environment Find out more

The man who gave him the tape was a well-known local DJ. Moey picked him up again in his cab, and this time he asked for a cassette. The DJ soon became a regular customer, and Moey wasn’t interested in cash, he wanted payment in tapes and DJ-ing lessons. Soon he was spending afternoons at the DJ’s studio, where the walls were covered in his awards and newspaper clippings. There, Moey learnt about music and mixing. Then he started to get gigs in clubs. It wasn’t long before Moey was “DJ Moey”, and he was thriving.

Image copyright
Moey Hassan

Image caption

Moey Hassan learning the DJ’s art from Mark Lacey in 1986

“When I look at myself as an Asian man in the UK, it’s very difficult to have a sense of belonging. And in that environment it was great,” he says. His success as a DJ could be measured in the takings on the bar. “All of a sudden you had a sense of belonging and you were earning your money deservedly.”

Moey’s dad was one of thousands of men who had come from Mirpur to work in the textile mills of northern British cities, beginning in the early 1960s. By the 1980s their wives had come over too, and their children, many born here, were coming of age. There were now more than one million South Asians in Britain, not just Mirpuris, but also people from other areas on the Indian subcontinent like the Punjab or Sylhet in Bangladesh – others were Asians from East Africa.

Many of the second generation had lived through the outright racism of the 1970s, epitomised by the National Front, and they were finding ways to express their identity not just in music, but film and theatre too. Like Moey, they were forging their own path, in a very different way from their parents.

The clubs Moey DJ’d in were almost never frequented by young British South Asians. Moey knew that a lot of South Asian kids, like him, weren’t allowed out at night, “and especially Asian women”. There was new music on the scene now – bhangra. It mixed Punjabi folk songs with Western music. He’d heard people playing it at college. He once went to Tumblers, a club, during the day – and they were playing bhangra to a handful of British South Asian kids. It gave Moey a business idea.

He got together with some other Asian DJs and hired the Queen’s Hall, which was next to a further education college, where they put on a club session from midday to four. It was held every Wednesday, as that was a half day at the college. It took time to get off the ground, but with targeted promotion and word-of-mouth, soon around 300 young British South Asians were turning up to this new underground club scene. The events became known as “daytimers”.

Image copyright
Tim Smith

Image caption

DJ Radical Sista played at many of the Bradford daytimers

Moey recalls how South Asian girls turned up in their salwar kameez with a carrier bag. They’d go into the toilets and emerge wearing jeans and a leather jacket. “They came out looking like Olivia Newton John,” he says. They played bhangra, as well as bands like Loose Ends, Maxi Priest, and tracks from the Chicago House scene. “It was groundbreaking.”

As Moey saw it, it was an opportunity for young British South Asians to express themselves on the dancefloor and let their hair down. “They needed an outlet. And that outlet was not available to Asian people at that time,” he says. For Moey, it was good business too. Every clubber paid a £2 entry fee – not a small amount back then.

Image copyright
Tim Smith

Image caption

Moey Hassan at the microphone, after shaving off his hair and moustache

As he was on his decks he would look down at the dancers and feel elated. “To be able to move people was such a thrill. They felt free. They came from stifling homes, here they could express themselves. It was beautiful.”

There was no alcohol. Even if they had wanted a licence, they wouldn’t have been able to get one at that time of day. People who came were, like Moey, second-generation Mirpuris, or from Bradford’s Punjabi community. “Back then religion wasn’t really a problem” he recalls. Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus danced together in the Queen’s Hall, Bradford, in the middle of the day. They formed friendships, even relationships – though they were discreet. But Moey points out that in some cases the women who came had no brothers to object to them being seen at this underground club. (Or if they did, they made sure their brothers weren’t around.)

Image copyright

Image caption

Later it became easier for young Asians go go out at night

After a year or so, Moey had bigger plans. He organised day-time events in larger venues in Bradford, like the Maestro. “I wanted them to experience a real nightclub with the lights and everything,” he says. At the same time, daytimers were occurring elsewhere in places with large British South Asian populations – West London, Birmingham, Luton and in the Midlands – sometimes with well over 1,000 in attendance. Moey organised coaches to take young people from Bradford to some of them, though he always tried to make sure they were back in time for dinner at their parents’ home. Moey even organised daytimers outside Bradford himself. It was at one of them in 1990, at Applejacks in Manchester, where he was approached to present a music programme called Bhangra Beat for mainstream British TV.

Moey says after a few years people eventually grew out of daytimers. He wanted to move on too. He was more interested in getting into mainstream music, and trying his hand at acting. Looking back, he is still amused his parents had no clue about this other life. “I know it’s a bit bad,” he says, “but we lied about what we were doing.”

Environment You may also be interested in:

When a family arrives in a new country, often the children are first to pick up the new language – and inevitably, they become the family translators. Researcher Dr Humera Iqbal describes what it’s like to be a child responsible for dealing with doctors and landlords, bank staff or restaurant suppliers.

Translating for Mum and Dad

6th December 2019

Technology Five moments that define Sesame Street’s first 50 years

Technology Five moments that define Sesame Street’s first 50 years


Technology Big Bird (L) and other Sesame Street puppet characters pose next to temporary street sign November 9, 2009Image copyright
Getty Images

Sesame Street has produced nearly 5,000 episodes, won 193 Emmy awards, and now broadcasts in 150 different countries. But these five milestones in its first 50 years say so much about its success.

Since first airing on television on 10 November 1969, millions of children have grown up hearing the classic theme tune “Can you tell me how to get, how get to Sesame Street?”

Over that time it has undoubtedly changed early childhood education around the world.

Here’s how.

Technology It all began at Harvard…

In the late 1960s Sesame Street co-founders Lloyd Morrisett and Joan Ganz Cooney approached Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education with a novel approach to teaching American children.

A team led by a developmental psychologist worked with the Sesame founders to analyse childhood psychology and harness the relatively new medium of television to create entertaining lessons for children.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The filming of an early episode in 1970

They tapped Muppets puppeteer Jim Henson to create characters like Big Bird and the set was made to look like an urban street rather than a magical world. And the four human cast members were multi-racial – a landmark decision for the era.

Harvard Education Professor Joe Blatt, who was a consultant on the show, says the concept of using TV – which was then thought to engender only laziness and bad habits in children – was a “brilliant and kind of daring and exciting move” for 1969.

Prof Blatt says the programme used “powerful media strategies like [advert] jingles, like repetition, to do things that help kids learn instead of making kids want Frosted Flakes”.

Image copyright
Harvard University

Image caption

Professor Blatt was given a Muppet version of himself as thanks for his work

Technology The real-life death of Mr Hooper

When actor Will Lee, one of the original four human cast members, died of a heart attack in 1983, executives made the bold choice to explain the concept of death to children.

Lee played the shopkeeper, Mr Hooper.

“Big Bird, when people die, they don’t come back,” the visibly grieving cast explained to the puppet, assuring him – and toddler audiences – that after people die, their memory lives on and others carry on their work.

The script had been tested on children before airing, Prof Blatt tells the BBC, to ensure they understood the message. Earlier testing had led the show to toss out other lessons, like one segment on divorce, if they found that kids were not grasping it.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The death of actor Will Lee (fourth from right) was dealt with on the show

The decision to write Mr Hooper’s death into the show was “one of the first times they got dark”, says TV editor Polly Conway from the group Common Sense Media, which reviews children’s programmes.

“They understand that kids can handle complex subjects when the information is delivered in an age-appropriate way,” she says.

“And the answer is not to never talk about death. It’s to talk about death in a way that a four-year-old can understand, in a way that’s backed thoroughly by child research.”

Ever since that lesson on death, executives have never re-aired segments that feature Mr Hooper. “They said he was not coming back,” says Prof Blatt. “And they stood by that.”

Technology An HIV-positive Muppet

To the surprise of its creators, who envisioned it as purely for American audiences, the show was quickly adapted for international viewers. Even children in conflict zones or refugee camps can watch a version of Sesame Street.

Each co-production tries to help children understand issues affecting their part of the world. In South Africa’s Takalani Sesame, the character Kami is an HIV-positive orphan puppet whose mother died of Aids. In Afghanistan, Zari and her brother Zeerak model gender equality and respect for women.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Kami is an HIV-positive puppet whose mother died of Aids

Mexico, Brazil and Germany were the first countries to air dubbed versions of Sesame Street, in the early 1970s.

Later, the executives at Sesame Workshop undertook to partner with TV executives in countries around the world to produce programming specifically for the local youth.

TV producers “bring the Sesame model, this mix of curriculum and research, to a country, and develop a new series with authentic goals relevant to the local country,” explains Prof Blatt.

Sesame Street around the world

  • Mexico’s Plaza Sésamo became the first international co-production in 1972, along with Brazil’s Villa Sésamo.
  • Germany’s Sesamstraße debuted in 1973, followed by Holland’s Sesamstraat in 1976.
  • In Egypt’s Alam Simsim, the female character Khoka seeks to empower girls to hope for great things
  • In 1998 a joint Israeli-Palestinian co-production launched, showing two separate communities interacting with each other
  • In Bangladesh’s Sisimpur, characters gather around a banyan tree and in tea and sweets shops – traditional gathering places for the region
  • Sesame co-productions work with displaced Rohingya and Arab children who live in refugee camps

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionThe secret to Sesame Street’s (global) success

In the 2006 documentary The World According to Sesame Street, co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney compared their work to missionaries, but instead of religion, the team are “spreading tolerance and love and mutual respect”.

Fifty years after its original creation, over 30 international teams custom-tailor local versions of Sesame Street content to more than 150 million children in 150 countries.

Technology A homeless character

Starting in 2015, an online library called Sesame Street in Communities has been building on the curriculums tested on children around the world to help US neighbourhoods deal with everyday American struggles like school shootings, addiction and rapidly changing technology.

In 2018, a seven-year-old pink Muppet named Lily became the first Sesame resident to experience homelessness.

The most recently added Muppet is Karli, a foster child whose mother is battling drug addiction. According to Sesame, Karli’s role is urgent as at least 5.7 million US children under the age of 11 have a substance-addicted parent in the household.

Over the years, other Muppets have taught children about autism, divorce and smart phones.

Technology Elmo testifies before Congress

Sesame characters, and the puppeteers and executives behind them, have focused increasingly on activism, with Sesame Street residents playing roles in policy-making around the world.

Amid the child obesity epidemic in 2006, Sesame garnered praise for airing Health Habits segments designed to teach kids about diet and exercise.

Even Cookie Monster declared cookies a “sometimes food”, and now teaches kids about a balanced diet.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Elmo spoke to US lawmakers about music education in 2002

In 2009, former First Lady Michelle Obama visited Sesame’s studios to film a segment on healthy eating.

Previous first ladies going back to Barbara Bush in the early 1990s also recorded clips with Sesame characters, both in the US and co-productions in Egypt and India.

In 2002, Elmo stepped into the public policy spotlight, when he became the first non-human or puppet to testify to Congress, according to the Washington Post.

He was invited to discuss music education by ex-Congressman Duke Cunningham, who later resigned after pleading guilty to accepting bribes.

6th December 2019

Science DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman switches to Google

Science DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman switches to Google


science Mustafa SuleymanImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Mustafa Suleyman helped develop the controversial Streams health app

Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of British artificial-intelligence firm DeepMind, has announced that he is joining Google.

He had previously said he was taking time off from DeepMind.

Mr Suleyman helped develop Streams, a controversial health app which gathered data from millions of NHS patients without direct consent.

Streams was integrated into Google Health earlier this year.

In a blog post, DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassabis said Mr Suleyman had played a key role at the firm.

“As a serial entrepreneur, Mustafa played a key role over the past decade, helping to get DeepMind off the ground, and launched a series of innovative collaborations with Google to reduce energy consumption in data centres, improve Android battery performance, optimise Google Play, and find ways to improve the lives of patients, nurses and doctors alike,” he said.

“Mustafa leaves DeepMind having helped set us up for long-term success, and I’m looking forward to what he’ll achieve in the years ahead as he joins Google in a new role.”

It is not clear what role that will be but in a tweet, Mr Suleyman said he would be working “on opportunities and impacts of applied AI technologies”.

Science Streams controversy

Image copyright

Image caption

The Streams app is saving nurses hours each day, the Royal Free Hospital says

DeepMind garnered positive headlines for creating an AI program that could beat world-class Go players but its health division has proved more controversial.

A partnership with the Royal Free Hospital in London to develop an app known as Streams, which does not use AI, hit the headlines when it emerged it had used the data of 1.6 million patients without seeking consent.

Later the Information Commission ruled that the hospital had not done enough to protect patient privacy, although it has since said it is satisfied with subsequent action taken.

Initially developed for doctors to spot acute kidney injury, there were concerns Streams could be developed beyond its initial use to become a platform for doctors and nurses to assess patients.

At the time of the controversy, Mr Suleyman promised that the firm operated autonomously from Google and that patient data would never be linked or associated with Google accounts, products or services.

It was announced in November 2018 that the health division would transfer to Google.

Five NHS Trusts which had signed data-sharing agreements with DeepMind agreed to transfer those to Google Health UK.

One, Musgrove Park Hospital, told the BBC that it had piloted the Streams app in 2018 but “to date had not progressed” with it.

And Yeovil’s NHS Trust, which decided not to sign, said the Streams app was “not necessary for our organisation at the current time”.

Recently leaked documents from US-UK trade talks have suggested that relaxing the transfer of data between the two nations could be a key negotiation point post-Brexit, leading to speculation that patient information could be up for grabs for big tech firms, such as Google.

Prof Eerke Boiten, head of computer science at De Montfort University, told the BBC: “If we give NHS data to Google too easily, it will have the value and nothing will come back to the NHS.”

6th December 2019

Technology Dyson to move global HQ to historic Singapore building

Technology Dyson to move global HQ to historic Singapore building


Technology A picture of St James Power Station in SingaporeImage copyright
Mapletree Investments

Dyson has chosen the historic St James Power Station as the site of its new global headquarters in Singapore.

CEO Jim Rowan said the new location would be “a hive for our research and development endeavours”.

The firm, headed by British inventor Sir James Dyson, said in January that it was moving its HQ out of the UK to Asia.

Sir James, a prominent advocate for Brexit, was accused of hypocrisy after the move.

Dyson has said the decision was made for commercial reasons, and had nothing to do with Brexit.

The company is best known for its vacuum cleaners, but also makes air purifiers and hair care products like hair dryers.

Mr Rowan said that after 12 years in Singapore, the company had outgrown its existing technology centre.

“The historic St James Power Station will be a most inspiring backdrop for Dyson’s people,” said Mr Rowan in a press release on the website of Mapletree, the power station’s owner.

Dyson is planning to move into the 110,000 sq ft (10,200 sq m) space in 2021, the Strait Times reported.

Constructed in 1927, the building housed Singapore’s first coal-fired power plant before being turned into an entertainment complex and nightlife hub. In 2009, it was declared a national monument.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Dyson has been building its presence in Singapore over the years.

It announced in 2018 it would build a new electric car there but the project was scrapped because it was not “commercially viable”.

Earlier this year, Sir James also bought what was thought to be Singapore’s biggest and most expensive penthouse flat.

Most of Dyson’s products are designed in the UK, but manufactured in Asia.

6th December 2019

Technology Nuclear fusion is ‘a question of when, not if’

Technology Nuclear fusion is ‘a question of when, not if’


Technology fusionImage copyright
BBC Sport

Image caption

An artist’s impression of how a fusion reactor might look

The prospects for developing nuclear fusion as a feasible source of energy have significantly improved, say experts.

The UK government has recently announced an investment of £200m to deliver electricity from a fusion reactor by 2040.

Private companies and governments have told the BBC they aim to have demonstration models working within five years.

But huge hurdles remain, say critics.

With the price of wind and solar continuing to drop, experts say these existing renewables might offer a more economical and timely method of tackling climate change and generating energy than an unproven technology like fusion.

Nuclear fusion is an attempt to replicate the processes of the Sun on Earth. It differs significantly from nuclear fission, which has been our only way of getting electricity from atoms since the 1950s.

Fission has proven to be hugely expensive. It generates large amounts of radioactive waste and raises serious concerns about safety and the proliferation of weapons.

Technology So what exactly is fusion?

Fusion is the process that drives our Sun.

Every single second, millions of tonnes of hydrogen atoms crash together in the tremendous temperatures and pressures of our parent star. This forces them to break their atomic bonds and fuse to make the heavier element, helium.

Image copyright

Image caption

The giant Iter site in southern France aims to have its first plasma generated in 2025

Natural, solar fusion generates enormous quantities of heat and light.

For decades, researchers have been trying to replicate this process on Earth, or “build the Sun in a box” as one physicist dubbed it. The basic idea is to take a type of hydrogen gas, heat it to more than 100 million degrees until it forms a thin, fragile cloud called a plasma, and then control it with powerful magnets until the atoms fuse and release energy.

Potentially, it can generate power that is low carbon, with much smaller amounts of waste. It also comes without the danger of explosions.

To deliver the fusion concept, countries have focused their energies on a major international co-operative effort called Iter.

Technology Giant step forward or a white elephant?

The Iter project involves 35 countries and, right now, it is constructing a huge test reactor in southern France.

The plan is to have the first plasma generated in 2025. However, getting from this step to producing energy is extremely difficult.

Iter has also been beset by long delays and budget overspend which means it is unlikely to have a demonstration fusion power plant working even by 2050.

“One of the reasons that Iter is late is that it is really, really hard,” said Prof Ian Chapman, chief executive of the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

“What we are doing is fundamentally pushing the barriers of what’s known in the technology world. And of course you reach hurdles and you have to overcome them, which we do all the time and Iter will happen, I am completely convinced of it.”

Image copyright
General Fusion

Image caption

General Fusion believe their approach to fusion will work within five years

Until Iter is up and running in 2025, the UK based Joint European Torus (Jet) remains the world’s largest fusion experiment.

It has secured EU funding until the end of 2020, but what happens after that, and the participation of the UK in Iter after Brexit remain unclear.

To give some sense of certainty, the UK government recently announced £220m for the conceptual design of a fusion power station by 2040.

Over the next four years, researchers based at Culham in Oxfordshire will develop designs for a fusion power plant called Step or Spherical Tokomak for Energy Production.

Technology How will the UK make fusion work?

The most widely known approach to making fusion happen involves a doughnut shaped vacuum chamber called a Tokomak. Hydrogen gas is heated to 100 million degrees C at which point it become a plasma. Powerful magnets are used to confine and steer the plasma until fusion occurs.

In the UK, researchers have developed a different form of Tokamak, that more resembles an apple core than a doughnut. Called a Spherical Tokamak, it has the advantage of being more compact, potentially allowing future power plants to be located in towns and cities.

“If you look at some of the very big units, the big machines that we are looking at, just finding geographically somewhere to put them is difficult,” said Nanna Heiberg from the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

“What you really want to do is put them close to where the energy is required. And so if you can do them in a much smaller footprint, you can put them closer to the users and you can put more of them around the country for example.”

Technology So where is the excitement about fusion coming from?

While governments are wrestling with Iter, many are also driving ahead with their own national plans. China, India, Russia and the US among others are working on developing commercial reactors.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Building the “sun in a box” has remained outside the grip of scientists for decades

As well as the UK government putting cash in, the European Investment Bank is pumping hundreds of millions of euros into an Italian programme to produce fusion energy by 2050.

But perhaps the major excitement comes from private companies. They are usually smaller, nimbler, and they develop by making mistakes and learning from them quickly.

There are now dozens of them around the world, raising funds and pushing forward often with different approaches to fusion than that seen in Iter and in the UK.

Here’s a brief sample of some different approaches to fusion.

First Light: This company originated in the University of Oxford and was founded specifically to address the urgent need to decarbonise the global energy system. Their idea involves firing a projectile at a target that contains hydrogen atoms. The shockwave from the impact of the projectile creates a shockwave that crushes the fuel and briefly this reaction will produce plasma that is hotter than the sun and denser than lead.

Commonwealth Fusion Systems: A private company created by former Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) staff, CFS has raised significant funding of over $100m. It is focusing on developing a Tokamak system but its key innovation is in superconducting magnets. They hope to build powerful enough magnets so they can build smaller and cheaper Tokomaks to contain the plasmas required to generate fusion.

TAE Technologies: With backing from Google and other high tech investors, this California-based company is using a different mix of fuel to develop smaller, cheaper reactors. They want to use hydrogen and boron as both elements are readily available and non-radioactive. Their prototype is a cylindrical colliding beam fusion reactor (CBFR) that heats hydrogen gas to form two rings of plasma. These are merged and held together with beams of neutral particles to make it hotter and last longer.

US Navy: Worried about how to power their ships in the future, the US Navy has filed a patent for a “plasma compression fusion device”. The patent says that it would use magnetic fields to create “accelerated vibration and/or accelerated spin”. The idea would be to make fusion power reactors small enough to be portable. There’s a lot of scepticism that this approach will work.

Technology ‘A ball of liquid metal…’

One of the main challengers with ambitions to make fusion work is a company based in British Columbia, Canada called General Fusion. Their approach, which has gathered a lot of attention and backing from the likes of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, combines cutting edge physics with off the shelf technology.

They call their system “magnetised target fusion”.

This approach sees a hot gas plasma injected into a ball of liquid metal inside a steel sphere. It is then compressed by pistons, much like in a diesel engine.

“The pistons all fire simultaneously and collapse the cavity with the fuel inside,” said Michael Delage, the company’s chief technology officer.

“So at the peak of that compression when the fuel bursts into fusion reaction, it is surrounded on all sides by liquid metal so the energy goes into the metal and you take this hot liquid metal and boil water, make steam and make electricity.”

General Fusion say they hope to have a working model within five years.

Technology Why hasn’t fusion worked so far?

Despite the hopes, no one to date has managed to get more energy out of a fusion experiment than they have put in.

Most experts are confident the idea will work, but many believe that it is a matter of scale. To make it work, you have to go large.

“I think fusion needs resources to really make it work,” said Prof Ian Chapman from UKAEA. “You could do that within a company or a country but you really need to have the requisite scale and resources.”

Image copyright
General Fusion

Image caption

The compression system for the General Fusion reactor featuring large scale pistons

“When ITER works, and I say when, not if, it will be a step change for fusion and you will see massive investment come into the field.”

Technology Will renewable energy make fusion redundant?

In 2018, the IPCC reported that emissions of carbon dioxide need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 to keep the rise in global temperatures under 1.5C.

Getting to that point requires a rapid decarbonisation of the energy sector. The UK has committed to Net Zero emissions by 2050 which will require the deployment of wind and solar on a massive scale. Some argue this is should be a greater priority for Britain, rather than spending large sums on experimental fusion reactors.

“The cost of renewables has shot down while the cost of the world fusion project, Iter has gone up and it now looks very unlikely they will be able to compete without new ideas,” said Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, a one time chair of the ITER council and a respected British physicist.

“I don’t think this means we should give up on fusion, there are ways it could become cheaper but it is not going to be there immediately when we need in the UK at least.”

Others involved in the fusion industry take a different view.

“If you’re a country like Malaysia, that has a high carbon intensity of its energy system, and you’re trying to move away from coal, there’s not a lot of options today,” said Chris Mowry, General Fusion’s chief executive.

“This is the type of application we’re focused on. And even in countries like Canada, which have a fair amount of renewables, it can never be 100% renewables.”

“And so we need a carbon free source of energy that can complement renewables in the future.”

Follow Matt on Twitter.

5th December 2019

In_pictures A thousand unknown faces in a trove of Hackney pictures

In_pictures A thousand unknown faces in a trove of Hackney pictures


What is thought to be the largest collection of images from a High Street photographer in the UK is being digitised – but, as Damian Zane reports, only a few details are known about who features in Ron Gibson’s 150,000 photos from the London borough of Hackney.

in_pictures Three women looking at the cameraImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

Every picture is tantalising.

The proud smile, or nervous look, or serious stare hint at an untold story.

Many of the names have gone but these frozen moments point to both an individual’s history and that of one of the most diverse places in Britain.

The man behind the camera was an accidental historian.

in_pictures Portrait of photographerImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

For three decades from the early 1950s, from his base in a shop on one of Hackney’s main roads, Ron Gibson photographed hundreds of weddings, work parties, Bar Mitzvahs, outings and christenings. Also, people came to him for individual and family portraits, recording key moments in their lives.

Gibson was a meticulous record-keeper and the archive of negatives stayed intact in a cupboard in the studio even after he sold his business on.

But in the main, the log-books linking the images to the people featured have been lost.

Hackney Archives, which holds the collection, has been sharing images in the hope that people who recognise themselves or their friends and family members will come forward.

Some have been tracked down.

In_pictures Ray Potts

in_pictures Two people doing the jiveImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

Ray Potts still remembers the blue windowpane check suit and brown brothel-creeper shoes he wore to a party night at Barrie’s dance hall in 1952.

“If you didn’t have a smart suit and a clean shirt, you never got a girl,” he says. “They’d never even look at you.”

He would get two suits made for him a year, putting aside money at the tailor’s every week to pay for them.

Capturing the atmosphere at Barrie’s, above a clothes shop on one of Hackney’s main shopping streets, was an early commercial job for Gibson, who was 24 at the time.

in_pictures DancersImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

Dance-halls dominated the social scene in Britain from the 1930s, reaching their zenith in the 1950s, and Gibson’s pictures, encapsulating the fun, fashion and romance, make it easy to imagine what a night there could have been like.

Ray, 17 when the pictures were taken, would go to the club up to five times a week and he learned to foxtrot, waltz and, most importantly, jive – the dance craze that swept the country in the early 1950s.

Knowing the moves was also a vital ingredient for a potential romance.

“Music has always brought youngsters together,” Ray says, “and the better dancer you were, the more chance you had of getting involved with a girl.”

Later in the decade, after finishing his national service, which took him to Korea and Egypt, Ray went back to Barrie’s, where he met Jean Perry. They married – and 60 years on, they are still together.

In_pictures Huntley Thompson

in_pictures Man posing for a photographImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

Looking good was also important for Huntley Thompson, who had come from Jamaica as a child to join his parents in Hackney in the early 1960s.

Nearly 20 years after Gibson was snapping the young revellers at Barrie’s, a well-dressed Huntley walked into the photographer’s studio on Lower Clapton Road.

He was part of a circle of friends who had their photos taken on a regular basis. He reckons Gibson photographed him at least 20 times.

“Because it was the only means of getting your photos done, we all went to Gibson,” Huntley says.

“All my friends were very much into fashion. We would like to show off by going up there with the latest clothes.

“It was a fashion statement. You needed to look good for the photo.”

Everyone in Hackney would have had their photo taken by Gibson at some point, Huntley reckons.

As a child in the 1970s, Gibson’s daughter, Lisa-Jayne Baker, helped her father out on Saturdays and can remember the queues of people waiting to get their photos done.

“It was great fun,” she says.

in_pictures Queue outside studioImage copyright
Hackney Archives

Her father was very popular with people from the Caribbean community, who would bring food as presents at Christmas time and throw impromptu parties in the studio.

Lisa-Jayne says he played a big part in preserving significant moments in their lives.

“He had done their wedding photographs, photographs of their children, the children’s christenings and weddings,” she says.

“My dad thought of himself as a custodian for other people’s memories. The photographs didn’t belong to him. He was just looking after the negatives.”

He also inadvertently became a custodian of the memory of the borough.

in_pictures Couple with childImage copyright
Hackney Archives

“As you go through the collection, you can see how Hackney changes,” says Lisa Peatfield, who has been in charge of the Gibson project at Hackney Archives.

“New communities move into Hackney after the Second World War.

“When you look at the photos in the 50s, almost entirely everyone is white. There’s a strong Jewish community you can see in the photos of the weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.

“But as you shift into the late 60s and 70s, the people in the photographs are mainly African, Caribbean or Asian.

“So as populations move in and out of Hackney, they move in and out of the photographs as well.”

In_pictures Kehkashan Nawab

For most of Gibson’s subjects, the photograph was a fleeting moment, at best half remembered, but for Kehkashan Nawab it was a defining point in her life.

She can recall in great detail the day in 1978, at just 15, when she went along with two of her mother’s best outfits to RA Gibson.

in_pictures Woman in sariImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

A picture was to be taken and sent to India to help her find a suitable husband.

Her father, an Indian Muslim who had migrated in 1956 to study, was keen she marry someone from her community.

She had been born in London and grown up in Hackney but she says there was a lack of potential bridegrooms living in the area.

In her mother’s high heels and gold jewellery, designed to make her look more mature, she was photographed in two outfits.

“I had to dress looking like a lady, so I wore my mum’s saris because I only had children’s clothes,” she laughs as she looks at the prints 40 years later.

in_pictures Woman in sariImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

They settled on the picture of her in the gold and pink sari, as she was squinting in the other one. The portrait was then dispatched.

A number of suitors did come forward. “I’m not lying, they all said, ‘Yes’, they all thought I was beautiful,” she laughs again.

Kehkashan approved of some of the matches but the plan changed when an Indian tenant of her father’s in a property he owned asked if he knew anyone he could marry.

Being religious, Kehkashan’s father saw this as a sign from God and agreed he should marry his daughter.

Gibson’s photo was then sent to the potential fiance’s parents in India, who approved of the wedding.

At 16 she was married and at 17 she had a baby. But this is not a story of lifelong love. She says her husband was unwilling to be a father at that time and left her and moved to the US.

In_pictures Adele Lewis

Photographing weddings was the mainstay of Gibson’s business. The Hackney Archives estimates 40% of the images in the collection are wedding pictures.

Adele Lewis was 19 when, in 1962, her brother got married at Brenthouse Road synagogue.

in_pictures Woman wearing a party dressImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

It was one of the larger synagogues that dotted the borough at the time, a sign of the size of Hackney’s Jewish community.

“It was a wonderful day,” she says, “it was all wonderful.”

The bride’s family lived opposite the synagogue.

“It was the usual thing then that all the women went to the bride’s house,” Adele says. “The bride’s parents used to make a table with food, so people could come round and have a drink and eat and see the bride.”

in_pictures A bride getting ready for her weddingImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

Gibson’s wedding pictures followed a formula and there was always a set done of the bride getting ready for the wedding. The images offer an insight into the interiors of the homes of people who did not often feature in the magazines of the era.

The wedding day was also a chance to taste the luxury life.

“Even though [the bride] lived opposite, she insisted on having a car. She got in one side and out the other side,” Adele says.

in_pictures A bride about to get into the wedding carImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

In_pictures Kate Vigilant

Kate Vigilant remembers her parents telling her, one Saturday afternoon in 1977, to dress up for an outing. She thought they were going to be attending a family party but instead they made the short bus trip to Gibson’s studio.

“You had the backdrop and the lovely little surroundings and setting in the photo shop,” she says. “It was like being in your living room.”

in_pictures Family portraitImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

In the hot summer of 1976, at the age of 15, Kate had come to Hackney from the Caribbean island of Dominica to join the rest of her family.

Her parents had migrated in the 1960s, looking for better work opportunities, and had three more daughters in the UK.

The prints from the photo session, with Kate standing on the right, were sent to family in Dominica.

“It was nice to send home to say that we’re doing really well in the UK and that the family is all together,” Kate says.

Similar photos dominated Gibson’s studio work in the 1970s. The formal family or graduation portrait provided relatives with a window into how things were going.

“People at home would have put it on a table where there were lots of photos and they would say, ‘Oh look at them, they’re looking so well, they’re looking so good,'” Kate says.

These photographs, once intended as a memento for the family, now serve as a more public memento.

Flicking quickly through the archive in chronological order is like watching a time-lapse film of the changes in Hackney.

Despite those changes, it is obvious the people featured have a lot in common.

But only a handful of those photographed by Gibson have been tracked down, the stories behind the other pictures remain untold.

in_pictures A newly married coupleImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

in_pictures Three women at a partyImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

in_pictures Bride and bridesmaidsImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

in_pictures BridesmaidsImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

in_pictures Mother and childImage copyright
Hackney Archives

in_pictures Presentational white space

Get in touch with Hackney Archives, email archives@hackney.gov.uk or telephone +44 (0)20 8356 8925, if you recognise any of the people featured or you think you may have been photographed by Gibson. You can find more images on the Hackney Archives Flickr account.

5th December 2019

In_pictures Gary Rhodes’ life in pictures: Michelin stars, MasterChef and more

In_pictures Gary Rhodes’ life in pictures: Michelin stars, MasterChef and more


in_pictures Gary RhodesImage copyright
Getty Images

Gary Rhodes, who has died at the age of 59, was one of Britain’s most popular chefs on and off screen – showing his love of good British food on numerous TV shows, and winning Michelin stars for his restaurants.

in_pictures Rhodes Around Britain, 1994

Rhodes grew up in Kent and began cooking at the age of 14, when his mother went back to work and asked him to cook his younger sister’s dinners.

His first kitchen job was at the Hilton in Amsterdam. While there, he was hit by a van and needed brain surgery, but he recovered and returned to England. He made his first TV appearance on Keith Floyd’s Floyd on Britain and Ireland in 1988.

in_pictures Spice Rhodes, 1996

in_pictures Presentational white space

His first full series for the BBC, Rhodes About Britain, was broadcast in 1994, and a second series followed a year later.

Then came programmes like Open Rhodes, Gary Rhodes’s New British Classics and Classic Rhodes.

in_pictures Christmas with a Difference, 1999

By the time he opened his first restaurant, City Rhodes in 1997, he was a household name, and his trademark spiky hair made him one of TV’s most recognisable celebrity chefs.

City Rhodes won its Michelin star within 12 months. In 1998 he opened Rhodes in the Square, in Pimlico, which also won a Michelin star.

in_pictures Gary Rhodes on the MasterChef logo in 2001

In 2001, the BBC chose Rhodes to take over as host of MasterChef from Lloyd Grossman, who had been at the helm for 10 years.

But Rhodes’ incarnation of the show lasted just one series before being cancelled. It was later relaunched – without Rhodes – in 2005.

in_pictures East End Doctors, 2002

in_pictures Presentational white space

His other TV shows included Gary Rhodes at the Table, Cookery Year and Rhodes Across India, while he published more than 20 cookbooks.

He often said he disliked the reputation he had among some food writers (“all this cheekie-chappie rubbish”), which was embodied by his spiky hair. But he said: “I think it wouldn’t matter if I changed my hairstyle tomorrow, they wouldn’t like the next hairstyle either.”

in_pictures Gary Rhodes OBE in 2006Image copyright
Getty Images

When Rhodes was made an OBE for services to the hospitality industry in 2006, he said the honour was more exciting than receiving a Michelin star.

“As a young lad growing up you would hear about these people getting these honours and think how proud they must feel. I never thought something like this would happen,” he said.

in_pictures Strictly Come Dancing

He took part in the sixth series of Strictly Come Dancing in 2008, partnered with Karen Hardy. But his dancing wasn’t quite up to the standard of his cooking – they were the third couple to be voted off.

in_pictures Gary Rhodes and Boris Johnson in 2009Image copyright
Getty Images

He’s pictured here on St George’s Day 2009 with Boris Johnson – then mayor of London, now prime minister. Rhodes is wielding a bread and butter pudding, and once said he was most proud of redeeming the humble dish’s reputation.

in_pictures Heston Blumenthal, Michel Roux Jr and Gary Rhodes in 2009Image copyright
Getty Images

He’s pictured with fellow chefs Heston Blumenthal (left) and Michel Roux Jr (centre), who were judging chefs competing to win a Roux Scholarship in 2009.

in_pictures Great British Food Revival

He championed tomatoes on BBC Two’s Great British Food Revival in 2012.

Rhodes’ family said he died on Tuesday in Dubai, which had become his home and where he ran two restaurants.

Follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

5th December 2019

In_pictures Gareth Bale: Wales forward risks further rift with Real Madrid over banner

In_pictures Gareth Bale: Wales forward risks further rift with Real Madrid over banner


in_pictures Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order

Gareth Bale will have the chance to put Wales top of his priorities again next summer at the Euro 2020 finals

“The first thing he thinks about is Wales, then golf and after that, Real Madrid.”

Gareth Bale has been criticised in Spain for prioritising playing for Wales – and finding time for a quick 18 holes – over turning out for his club Real Madrid, and the forward certainly enjoyed himself after helping his country to the finals of Euro 2020.

Bale set up Aaron Ramsey’s opener against Hungary and excelled throughout as Wales reached their third major tournament.

The 30-year-old has not played for Real since 5 October and his return to international duty was dubbed by the Spanish media as the ‘Miracle in Wales’ this week.

Wales fans have turned the mantra ‘Wales. Golf. Madrid’ into a chant, with Bale himself admitting he found the song amusing.

And after securing qualification Bale was front and central as the squad paraded a banner echoing that sentiment.

Bale is Wales’ record goalscorer with 33 goals

And it hasn’t gone down so well in Spain…

Spanish newspaper Marca ran a poll which at 23:30 GMT on Tuesday saw 75% of respondents label Bale’s celebration as showing ‘a lack of respect for the club and fans’

When asked about the sarcasm aimed at him in Spain as he previewed the game, Bale said: “I’ve heard some stories but I don’t really take notice.

“My friends tend to send me some funny pictures or whatever they write.

Spanish newspapers have taken a sarcastic tone in their coverage of Wales and Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale

“I find it hilarious to be honest, especially some of the pictures and stuff my friends send me. On one, it said ‘triple bogey’ and I’ve never had a triple bogey! At least give me an albatross! It’s funny.

“Maybe to them [the Spanish media] it doesn’t look great but it’s just a kind of coincidence that the national team comes around this week and I’ve returned to full training.

“If I’m fit, no matter where I am, I’m going to try to play, whether it be for Wales or Madrid. For me it was a no-brainer: if I’m fit to play then I’ll give it my all.”

1 269 270 271 272 273 287
Home Terms Of Use Contact Us Affiliate Disclosure DMCA Earnings Disclaimer