My time of 49 minutes will do nothing to scare the horses, but may be just enough to see me keep my fundamental position propping up the aforementioned Superranker. And talking of fundamentals, my time would have been significantly quicker had I been able to cotton onto 25 across faster than I was able. I suppose my daughter would say it was karma for all my failed attempts to get her into 70s comedy. My favourite line from that era? Undoubtedly, Frankie Howerd in Up Pompeii! determined to finally get his Prologue out (no, no, don't titter - you're making up your own jokes...), struggling to get himself comfortable in his toga as he prepares to settle on his stone bench. "Ooh, I know why they call these 'Jockey' shorts - they've got Lester Pigott in there!!"
1. CRIBBAGE - RIB + B in CAGE.
5. MINION - If Dick Emery's Mandy had a mini on, she would be showing a bit of thigh. It might be awful...but I like it.
9. FRACTION - FR + ACTION. I vaguely remember vulgar and common fractions from my schooldays. Naturally, I preferred the former.
10. REVIEW - [c]REW around VIE.
12. EVENS - simply [s]EVENS; I was trying to shoehorn SP in there somehow.
13. GREAT OUSE - EAT in GROUSE; a tributary of the River Great Ouse (for thus it is appelled) is the Cam, of which the less said the better.
14. PERFECT PITCH - PERFECT (as in perfect/complete fool) + P + ITCH.
18. ANIMATRONICS - being technology that combines traditional puppetry techniques with electronics to create lifelike animated effects; anagram of IS ACT IRON MAN*. Mary Poppins was the first feature film to use this Disney-developed technology.
21. CONSTABLE – CON + STABLE; a semi-&lit, by my reckoning.
23. INPUT – P[rinciple] in I NUT, to give a word I’ve never much cared for, like ‘heads up’ and, indeed, ‘head up’.
24. IRITIS – I + RIT + IS, where I stands for i, a “compact” daily newspaper in the UK.
25. BACKSIDE – BACK + SIDE.
26. NEEDLE – if you bait someone, you needle them; and a needle has a loop through which it is easier for a dromedary to proceed than a rich geezer to negotiate the pearly gates.
27. HYDROGEN – if an OWL (wise bird) gets H (hydrogen), you end up with HOWL...and a gas. Thanks to Jack
1. COFFER – CALL minus ALL + OFFER (present). I liked this.
2. IMAGES – I + M + AGES.
3. BATHSHEBA – (order of the) BATH + Rider Haggard’s SHE + BA; Bathseba was wife first of Uriah the Hittite, then David son of Jesse, by whom she bore, among others, Solomon, the third king of Israel, if I have my maths right.
4. GEORGE FORMBY – GORGE (stuff) around E + FORM + BY (attributed to); an entertainer best known for cleaning winders.
6. INERT – IN (not out – still batting) + initial letters of England Rarely Tested. Liked this too.
7. INIQUITY – I QUIT in IN + [turke]Y.
8. NEW DELHI – WE HELD* in NI.
11. TERCENTENARY – TEARY around [RECENT* +N].
15. PICNICKER – if you were an admittedly down-market art thief, you might be dubbed a nicker of pics.
16. SANCTION – CONTAINS*; neat clue.
17. BIG NOISE; plays on the fact that a report is a loud noise made by a gun.
19. SPRING – double definition.
20. STREWN – ‘broadcast’ is the literal; NEWS + RT* (where RT are the outside letters of R[epor]T)
22. TRILL – final letters of [cabare]T [singe]R + ILL (poorly).