The Daily: September 17
We scour the news so you don't have to.
Downton Abbey returns to our screens
The return of autumn has also heralded the return of Downton Abbey. Sunday nights haven’t quite been the same since the much anticipated union of Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary in the snow-dusted Christmas special. However, the start of the third series and the dawn of a new decade promised change. Inevitably Matthew and Mary’s hopes for wedded bliss were the first of last season’s happy endings to be in jeopardy, with Matthew’s increasing guilt over his role in Lavinia’s death. Meanwhile Tom Branson returned to provoke a change in class barriers after marrying a now pregnant Sybil. The first episode also introduced Shirley MacLaine as Martha Levinson, Cora’s American aunt, and saw Lord Grantham having to tighten his belt as financial difficulties begin to threaten Downton’s security. The series’s triumphant return to ITV saw an average audience of 8.6 million viewers and a 36% audience share, indicating our love affair with the period drama is far from over.
Micheal Gove is set to unveil tough new qualifications for 16-year-olds
After years of criticism and a summer of intense speculation about GCSE examining standards, Michael Gove is set of unveil radical new plans to transform qualifications for 16 year olds. Though his plans for a two tier system based on the old O level and CSE style exams were blocked by the Liberal Democrats, Gove is preparing for the biggest change in secondary education for 25 years. In these plans, expected to be implemented in 2015, the modular system will be scrapped and replaced with one final examination at the end of the two years. The multiple examining bodies will be replaced by one centrally set exam to ensure all students are measured by the same standards. Gove also aims to reduce the numbers of students achieving A and A* grades after increasing criticism that too many students are being awarded the top grades.
Scientists fear that there may only be 100 adult cod in the North Sea
Years of overfishing in the North Sea have led to a drastic decrease in adult cod in the North Sea. Scientists have estimated that numbers of adult cod could be as low as 100 after it was revealed that fishermen did not catch a single cod over the age of thirteen last year. Experts claim that intense industrial fishing has meant that the vast majority of fish were unable to reproduce in order to sustain the population. The fresh evidence has renewed calls for cod quotas to be cut once again in a bid to help restore the population, though others suggest that paying ship owners to decommission their ships is the only means of rebuilding fish stocks.
Sir Ranulph Fiennes reveals plans for Antarctica trek
68-year-old Sir Ranulph Fiennes is set to attempt a record breaking trek to Antarctica in the depths of winter. The British-born explorer will face temperatures as low as -90°C in what is being hailed as the ‘Coldest Journey’. However, this will not be Fiennes’ first record attempt. He has amassed countless achievements, including becoming the oldest Briton to reach the summit of Everest at the age of 65. The trek will start on the equinox on 21 March 2013 and continue through the southern winter. If successful it will be yet another world record for the man hailed as our greatest living explorer.
Duke and Duchess explore the Solomon Islands
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have reached the Solomon Islands in their tour of the South Pacific. The latest leg of their journey started with a welcome from local dancers and a dinner in which the Duke and Duchess wore traditional dress. Today they continued to a cultural village as part of The Pacific Festival of the Arts where Kate was given a frangipani and bougainvillea headdress by well-wishers. The Duchess later made a speech, stressing the importance of family, to the Young Women’s Parliamentary group, while Prince William met with 40 young people from the Commonwealth Youth Conference. This afternoon the couple move on to the beautiful island of Tuvanipupu before continuing on the last few days of the tour.
Daily tip from the lady archive
"It is not always she who appears most kindly in her interest who is the safe sharer of sacred (maybe sorrowful) secrets! Charming manners do not always connote sincerity of heart!”The Lady. In Confidence. 4th April, 1918