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tv   BBC News at Six  BBC News  January 20, 2022 6:00pm-6:31pm GMT

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at six — back to the office and no masks in classrooms, as england's covid measures ease. it's the first stage of the government's move to drop plan b measures completely at the end of next week. but with daily infections still running high, there's concern it'll put the nhs under even more pressure. also on the programme tonight... the prime minister says he has no evidence of black —— black male in his party. i see no evidence, heard no evidence to support any of those allegations. military drills for ukraine's soliders as the united states warns russia of grave consequences if any of its troops massed on the border cross into ukraine. the aftermath of the tsunami that hit tonga — aid planes finally arrive in the south pacific bringing much needed supplies. and how blisters put pay
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to britain's emma radacanu's hopes at the australian open. and coming up on the bbc news channel. a different series but a familiar story for english cricket as england's women lose their opening match of their ashes series. good evening and welcome to the bbc news at six. some of england's plan b measures have been scrapped today with people being told they no longer have to work from home and secondary school pupils removing face coverings in class. from next thursday, facemasks will no longer be compulsory in most settings and covid passes for large venues will be dropped. but there's concern that the move will increase pressure on the nhs which is already under a lot
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of strain as waiting list backlogs continue to grow. in wales, the latest figures show that more than a fifth of the entire population is now on an nhs waiting list. here's our health correspondent, dominic hughes. how many discharges have we got to do? i'm thinking four on this list. at the royal bolton hospital, clinicalstaff, nurses and therapists are working with the local council to try and get patients back home. any issues? no. no? 0k. one reason hospitals are so busy is that some patients face significant delays in getting home, even if they are well enough to leave. and it's a complicated process. there are so many services involved in one patient. there's equipment, there's package of care, there's access issues, there's family, there's transport, we need to make sure medicines are ready for home, so we need to make sure everybody is on the same page when we are aiming for that discharge.
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nhs england says 93% of all hospital beds are currently occupied. the impact of covid on staff and patients makes things more complex. we've been hit by workforce shortages for the last few months now, the omicron wave has obviously affected that as well. we've also had to work really closely with our care homes, so our care homes have been managing outbreaks with their staff, unfortunately, some of their residents as well, and that has affected their ability to take people directly from hospital. even though the number of covid infections is falling across the uk, hospitals remain under significant pressure, and those pressures can be seen right across the system, from accident and emergency departments to the amount of time people are having to wait for a cancer referral. today wales has seen a record backlog of patients waiting for routine hospital treatment. more than 680,000 people. nhs leaders say the months to come could be tough, but at the same time, as covid restriction in england are eased, the health secretary declared victory over the omicron variant.
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today really is a new chapter in our fight against covid—19, as we return to plan a. we said when we learned about omicron, we needed to build our defences and buy time to do that. that was the purpose of plan b, and if you look at the data now, it is in retreat. tens of thousands of office staff in england have already been encouraged to return to work. next week will see the end of mandatory face coverings and covid passes, as well as the return of night clubs and large indoor events in scotland, the relaxing of rules for hospitality in northern ireland and a gradual easing of restrictions in wales. but in some parts of the uk, particularly in the north of england, infections are still very high. health officials are concerned that relaxing the rules has come to soon. enabling full mixing without any mitigation, such as wearing masks or social distancing, will mean that there will be, sort of, preventable transmission. it would've been slightly better had we got our case rates lower before we started to relax completely.
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the health service remains under pressure, but the immediate threat of omicron seems to be receding. ministers have made a judgment call. the costs of restrictions now outweigh the benefits. dominic hughes, bbc news, bolton. children in england no longer have to wear coverings during lessons — from next thursday they won't have to wear them at all, but some secondary school head teachers have criticised the move as too sudden. they say they will continue to tell students to keep masks on until they're certain infection rates are falling. our education correspondent elaine dunkley reports. at chesterfield high in crosby, there is a change in the school rules. across england, pupils no longer have to wear masks in class. it steams up your glasses. i keep on having to take my glasses off if i'm wearing my mask. - every time you look down and writing, your maskjust falls down and then you have to think, oh, i've got to put it back on my nose, and itjust distracts you. good morning, everybody. this head says it is
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another announcement from the government at short notice. personally, i would have carried on wearing masks in classrooms until the half term and then actually retested everyone after half term and then, at that point, you could have actually started moving into spring not wearing masks. face coverings are still needed in communal areas. from next week, they will no longer be required in schools in england. for this maths teacher... i have five classes of 30, they have all different contacts, all different households. ..the risks haven't gone away. they know how useful it can be to have any mitigation that we can to allow pupils to stay in classrooms as much as possible and to allow teachers to be in classrooms. the government says the decision to remove masks in class is in response to a fall in the number of covid cases. second week back in, somebody tested positive, so our year went off. these sixth formers are about to sit their a—levels and don't want to take any chances. when we were supposed to be sitting our gcses, obviously they got cancelled. how am i going to do in these exams
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because i've never done them before? i haven't had a proper exam. especially because they are a—levels, you really need to do well because you have got uni offers to get. in my family, we've recentlyjust had covid. i don't want to miss any more school with exams coming up so my facemask is going to stay on. in scotland, wales and northern ireland, the guidance is still to wear masks at all times. removing masks in classes in england may feel like a milestone but for those in education, it doesn't take away the disruption many schools are still facing. elaine dunkley, bbc news, in crosby. latest figures show the number of people testing positive for coronavirus is falling with just over 107,300 new infections recorded in the latest 24—hour period. on average, just under 93,000 new cases were reported per day in the last week.
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the number of people in hospital has fallen again. tojust the number of people in hospital has fallen again. to just under 18,500. there were 330 deaths reported in the latest 2a hour period — that's of people who died within 28 days of a positive test, though there will be some amongst this number who won't have died from covid. on average, in the past week, 266 deaths were announced every day. on vaccinations, just under 36,700,000 people have now had a boosterjab, which means nearly 64% of people aged 12 and over have now had three vaccine doses. borisjohnson says he hasn't seen any evidence to back up claims from a senior conservative mp that the government has attempted to "blackmail" colleagues who are opposing him. william wragg, who's one of those calling for the prime minister to resign over lockdown parties at downing street, said rebels had faced "pressures and intimidation" from ministers. westminster is waiting for the report into lockdown parties by the senior civil servant, sue gray. here's our political editor laura kuenssberg. if it's not one thing,
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it turns out to be another. how will it turn out? for weeks, the prime minister has been having to explain himself. what's this... ? and what happened in number ten during the pandemic made some of the public and his own mps mad, but there are claims now too his team have been intimidating tory backbenchers who want to speak out. i've seen no evidence, heard no evidence to support any of those allegations. what i'm focused on is what we are doing to deal with the number one priority of the british people, which is coming through covid, and we have made enormous progress thanks to the vaccine roll—out. back at westminster, there's nothing unusual about mps being subject to some pretty strong persuasion. in dark corners, around the corridors of power, party bosses work to keep backbenchers in line. but in front of the cameras this morning, a tory critic of borisjohnson�*s said it's gone far too far. a number of members of parliament have faced
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pressures and intimidation from members of the government because of their declared or assumed desire for a vote of confidence in the party leadership of the prime minister. the reports of which i'm aware would seem to constitute blackmail. the claims have raised eyebrows. william wragg's warning is probably timely, and i would very much hope that it would be heeded. in both ways. it's complete nonsense. it's attention—seeking behaviour, and it's disappointing. this brand—new labour mp, a defector... the labour mp for barry south, christian wakeford. ..says when he was still a tory, he was warned his constituency would lose out if he didn't vote a certain way. i was threatened that i would not get the school for radcliffe if i didn't vote in a particular way. how do you feel when holding back the education of the town for a vote, it didn't sit comfortably, and that was really that kind of starting to question my place where i was. politics is not for
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the faint hearted. conversations behind closed doors can be brutal, but what today's argument shows is the boiling tension inside the conservative party, fighting while everyone awaits the official verdict into what really happened in number ten during lockdown. but one conclusion is perhaps already being drawn, a member of the cabinet publicly admitting today that this saga is damaging our democracy. and the doubts about borisjohnson�*s leadership run deep. if this particular episode passes, there are still big changes that need to happen. downing street is not being run in the way that most of us would like to see. i think there needs to be a change in both the culture and the structure of downing street. much may stand between borisjohnson and any exit, yet, with a bright light shone on his government's conduct and character, the omens do not look good. that report which is meant to give
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the full story into what happened in number ten in lockdown is expected at some point next week. a moment of realjeopardy for the prime minister, expected to be decision time for many conservative mps. laura kuenssberg in westminster, thank you. the prime minister has said any russian incursion into ukraine would be a disaster for both countries and the world. the us secretary of state has been meeting european counterparts in berlin to try to cordinate western strategy. around 100,000 russian troops are gathered on the ukraine border as president putin insists ukraine should never be allowed to join nato. today the first members of a 30 strong british military team arrived in ukraine to help train their forces in the use of anti—tank weapons supplied by the uk. here's our diplomatic correspondent paul adams. american diplomacy is in high gear. antony blinken, the secretary of state, arriving in berlin this morning for talks with european
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ministers, looking for signs of unity among america's allies and appealing directly to the russian people not to go to war. you deserve to live with — people not to go to war. you deserve to live with security _ people not to go to war. you deserve to live with security and _ people not to go to war. you deserve to live with security and dignity, - to live with security and dignity, like all people everywhere, and no one, not ukraine, not the united states, not nato or its members is seeking to jeopardise that. but what really risk your security is a pointless war with your neighbours in ukraine, with all the costs that come with it. in ukraine, with all the costs that come with it— in ukraine, with all the costs that come with it. , ., , come with it. fresh satellite images a- ear come with it. fresh satellite images a - ear to come with it. fresh satellite images appear to show _ come with it. fresh satellite images appear to show the _ come with it. fresh satellite images appear to show the extent - come with it. fresh satellite images appear to show the extent of - appear to show the extent of russia's military build—up close to ukraine. now in excess of 100,000 troops is more on the way. russia still insists it has no plans to invade but ukraine's defence ministry today released pictures of its soldiers practising with multiple rocket launchers close to russian annexed crimea. in eastern ukraine where separatist have been in charge in 2014, it is sensed
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conflict is looming. the west fears moscow may try to expand its influence pushing beyond areas in rebel control. the scars of this frozen conflict are everywhere. 72—year—old woman lives close to the front line, in a world ravaged by years of shelling and sniping. translation: it years of shelling and sniping. translation:— years of shelling and sniping. translation: it is a miracle we sta ed translation: it is a miracle we stayed alive _ translation: it is a miracle we stayed alive she _ translation: it is a miracle we stayed alive she says. _ translation: it is a miracle we stayed alive she says. we - translation: it is a miracle we stayed alive she says. we could| translation: it is a miracle we - stayed alive she says. we could have died many times. she stayed alive she says. we could have died many times.— died many times. she is pro-russian and fears a — died many times. she is pro-russian and fears a full-scale _ died many times. she is pro-russian and fears a full-scale war. _ died many times. she is pro-russian and fears a full-scale war. troops . and fears a full—scale war. troops and fears a full—scale war. troops and armour assemble, the question remains, what exactly does vladimir putin intend to do? paul adams, bbc news. the communities secretary, michael gove, has met developers today and urged them to pay more for work to remove dangerous cladding from blocks of flats and to rectify building safety issues. the move comes in the wake of the grenfell tower fire and will cost developers billions of pounds.
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almost five years after the tragedy, 40% of tall tower blocks with flammable grenfell—style cladding have yet to be made safe — despite money from the government's £5 billion building safety fund. there are also nearly a thousand tower blocks with other types of dangerous cladding which need fixing as our sarah corker reports. hi, i'm allie. my name is stephen. i'm tamaya. my name's will, i'm a leaseholder of a flat in sheffield. no work has started and no funding has been confirmed. due to ongoing delays with the building safety fund. we don't know when the remediation is going to start _ four years on, these problems are still not fixed. the building is still unsafe. flat owners from across the country have shared their stories with the bbc. flat owners from across the country have shared their stories with the bbc. those flat owners from across the country have shared their stories with the bbc. those trapped flat owners from across the country have shared their stories with the bbc. those trapped in flat owners from across the country have shared their stories with the bbc. those trapped in unsafe, unsellable homes say it is taking too long to remove dangerous cladding. the government has set aside billions to remove cladding. figures analysed by the bbc show that 60% of tower blocks
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with grenfell—style cladding have had work fully completed. it's lower for private—sector buildings — less than half have been finished and signed off as safe. for other types of dangerous materials — known as non—acm cladding — progress has been slower. nearly 1,000 blocks have been approved for funding, but so far, just 18 have been completed. that's less than 2%. the government says a series of measures have been taken to make sure that the work is carried out quickly and safely. the housing secretary met with developers today to urge them to come up with more money to pay for the work to get done. in salford, these nine blocks weren't eligible for government funding. the management company removed the cladding, but problems continue. they took it off they left us. and how long has it been like this? it's been like this three or four years. inside, residents say their homes are freezing cold, and energy bills are aoring. and energy bills are soaring. so, as soon as it gets cold and you've got no cladding
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on to keep the warmth in, you might as will get your money and flush it down the loo. it's warmer in the lobbies outside, the landings, than it is in here. you can see your breath. a floor up, i met this family. they've been told it will be 2024 before the work's finished. we've got a four—year—old. none of this is fair on her. she don't understand, she just wants it to be warm. we average about, what, about £120 a week wages? yeah. and we're putting in 40 or £50 a week of that into electric. we are both sat here with jumpers and coats and track suits. the company managing these flats for the council has apologised for delays and says residents are receiving financial help with energy bills. industry experts, though, warn remediation works are complex. there aren't enough people and there aren't enough materials to do all of this remediation work. and even if there were, the hardening of the insurance market means it's extremely difficult for companies to get insurance to do the work.
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the longer it takes to fix these buildings, the more money drains away from those who can least afford it. sarah corker, bbc news, salford. the time is 6.18pm. our top story this evening... no masks in classrooms and back to the office as england's covid measures ease ahead of plan b being dropped completely next week. coming up... after 260 hours in the air, 19—year—old zara rutherford becomes the youngest woman to fly solo around the world. coming up in sportsday on the bbc news channel... beaten in the second round of the australian open — andy murray reflects on the bitter disappontment of his early exit in melbourne. pictures have emerged of the devastation in tonga caused by the eruption of an undersea volcano and tsunami at the weekend. today, the first aid planes landed with urgently—needed drinking water,
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food and medicines. the queen has said she is "shocked and saddened" by the destruction to the pacific nation, which is part of the commonwealth. rupert wingfield—hayes reports. for the first time since last saturday's huge eruption, we are finally getting to see what has happened to tonga's main island. along the coast, the damage from the tsunami looks extensive, with many buildings destroyed. in tonga's capital, nuku'alofa, there is a lot of volcanic ash but the buildings are intact and the clean—up has begun. telephone services are also back and that means for tongans living abroad, the agonising wait for news is finally over. my dad has told me that they are fine, no major damages to our homes. so, at the moment, i've got family over in the outer islands of ha'apai, i have heard from them and they are doing ok. who i haven't heard from is my father. i'm sure he is out there working
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hard, doing what he does. we've also learned of a remarkable survival story. this man says he was swept off a small island by the tsunami and was in the water for more than 24 hours before making it to land. help is now arriving. this is an australian c17 transport plane on final approach to tonga this afternoon. the crew quickly unloaded water and emergency supplies but, because of covid, they were not allowed any contact with locals. tonga's government has decided that until covid is over, the islanders will have to deal with the aftermath of this disaster by themselves. rupert wingfield—hayes, bbc news, in tokyo. a report commissioned by the catholic church has found that the former pope benedict xvi failed to act over four cases of child sex abuse when he was the archbishop of munich in germany. lawyers who investigated the historical allegations say pope benedict, then called
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josef ratzinger, allowed priests who were criminally convicted of abuse to continue working for him. pope benedict denies the accusations. a 33—year—old man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering an elderly woman in an attack in derbyshire which left her husband with critical injuries. 86—year—old freda walker was found dead at her home on saturday. her 88—year—old husband kenneth walker is in hospital. bt has announced price rises of 9.3% for its broadband and phone services, following a dramatic increase in data usage over the last few years. the company said that customers would be paying an extra £3.50 a month on average from the 31st of march. a public apology to victims and survivors of historical abuse in institutions in northern ireland will be given in march.
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the devolved government announced the date today — exactly five years after a public inquiry report documented physical, emotional and sexual harm to children between 1922 and 1995. campaigners say many victims have died waiting for the authorities to say sorry, even though the inquiry recommended an apology. this report from our ireland correspondent, chris page, contains some distressing stories. brian o'donohue has spent 20 years writing a memoir of six decades ago. brother stephen is in charge of the boys down at the swimming pool. he's throwing little billy, who is just a bit younger than me, into the pool. the brother thinks it's great fun. billy doesn't. he can't swim. that happened at rubane house in county down, which was run by a religious order. brian remembers vividly how two boys were punished in front of all the others after they tried to escape. the only protection from a beating would have been a pair of swimming trunks, and they were beaten on the backside and thighs
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until theyjumped in the air and screamed. there was sweat pouring off him when he beat them. sexual abuse was also common. brian recalls trying to protect himself. don't put yourself in the position where you're alone with them. but then again, that can be hard, if a brother actually comes in and lifts you out of your sleeping bed and takes you to his room. across the irish sea, abuse survivors are also living with unspeakable trauma. kate walmsley was in an institution in londonderry. from i was eight till i was 12, i was being sexually abused by a priest there. i'm lonely and still feel that i don't belong anywhere, and i'm not accepted unless, you know... i try and fit in everywhere i can, but, you know, it's always you're not wanted. it's five years since a public
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inquiry recommended a state apology. that was something that a lot of our people really wanted, even before compensation. what they wanted to hear was someone to say, "sorry, it wasn't your fault, it was our fault." the process has been long, not least because the devolved governments collapsed for three years. but now ministers have agreed to hold an event to formally apologise. lots of victims have passed and not had an apology. all i wanted was someone to say sorry. after generations of hurt, a day of acknowledgement is coming. chris page, bbc news. details of organisations which offer information and support are available at — or you can call forfree, at any time to hear recorded information on 08000155 998. a giant coral reef that's in pristine condition has been discovered off
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the coast of tahiti. coral reefs are among the ocean's most threatened ecosystems, but scientists say this reef appears to have avoided damage from pollution and rising sea temperatures because it's unusually deep underwater — around 30 metres beneath the surface. it's one of the largest discovered at that depth. the scientists from the united nations who found it say it's hoped there are many others waiting to be found. the duke and duchess of cambridge have been to lancashire today to see work supporting mental wellbeing during the pandemic. in burnley they were introduced to pastor mick fleming who has been helping the homeless and even set up his own church. ed thomas reports. you see all these people? they have children. hungry children. from feeding the hungry... give us the strength and the courage to get through. consoling those in grief... come on, come with me. and providing hope for
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the lost in burnley. we spent 12 months filming with pastor mick... come and sit here, come on. as the pandemic exposed deep inequalities. it's all right, johnny. i know, but i'm a dirty mess. and today the duke and duchess of cambridge climbing the steps where so many have sought refuge. pastor mick. really good to see you. thank you so much. very nice to see you. royal recognition for church on the streets. people like you, it is the care, and that is what really makes you from being good to a real success. did you see the bbc�*s things? weirdly, i saw the bbc thing long before we were even coming up. for us, it is more ideas, it is more... it is going to places and seeing how people do it differently. that's right. and what you can replicate and what is working. - yeah, what you can scale. the duke and duchess of cambridge wanted to be here to meet volunteers and help those who had suffered
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during the pandemic. families like deacon's. his mother died during lockdown. if we hadn't been here or something like us hadn't been here, i daren�*t even think. do you think we can talk about your mum? i lost my mum when i was 15. it was difficult, but it gets easier, i promise you. it does get easier. bless this couple and everything they do in your name. it has given me massive hope, yeah. they wanted to come here to support the work that we do and that is colossal, that is colossal for us. a 19—year—old has become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world. zara rutherford has landed in belgium at the end of herjourney, which began in august last year. she flew across more than 50 countries on her own, as jessica parker reports. a smooth landing after a long journey. it takes time to fly
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around the world. ina 300 in a 300 kilo microlight. what was your scariest moment? i got pretty close to a thunderstorm in singapore, so suddenly there was a lightning strike and i think that was pretty scary, but otherwise the mental challenges were definitely mostly over siberia because i would be flying for hundreds of kilometres with just nothing human, and then i realised that if the engine were to stop, i would have a really big problem. both her parents are pilots. za ra zara faced serious weather delays along the way but she also saw the sites. —— sights. i am in nome, alaska, right now. and now i am in greenland. flying from indonesia to sri lanka. i have arrived in singapore. from korea to taiwan. i am still in greece. i'm in russia! it's pretty cold. zara wants to encourage more girls and women into aviation. her dream is to become an astronaut. the sky isn't even the limit! jessica parker, bbc news, in belgium. tennis now, and both of britain's grand slam winners andy murray and emma radacanu have
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been knocked out of the australian open in the second round. our sports correspondent natalie pirks was watching. a morning treat, two british grand slam champions on court at the same time. but both were about to put fans through the wringer. the us open champion got off to a flyer, breaking opponent danka kovinic early, but soon emma raducanu was in trouble with blisters on her racket hand. a set down and raducanu's only real weapon now was her backhand. she was smiling but winning the second set meant playing through the pain. commentator: ouch. and in the final set, as her right hand rallied, her backhand faulted and kovinic inflicted the final blow. commentator: and she has done it. there are some people in my team that maybe didn't want me to play but i wanted to go out there and fight through it. just two days after playing five sets with his metal hip, andy murray was slow out of the gate against japan's taro daniel, ranked 120th in the world, and 16 unforced errors from the scot
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saw daniel take the first set with a flourish. murray had never lost a grand slam match to a player ranked as low as daniel. he had plenty of chances, but the japanese played the match of his life to win in straight sets. a day to forget, then, for british tennis. natalie pirks, bbc news. some wonderful blue skies here. yes, and a stunning weather watcher picture. the only thing spoiling it is me so i will be back in a moment. this is cumbria. we have seen is quys this is cumbria. we have seen is guys like that across most parts of the country. however, there have been a few differences. we have seen this line of showers coming down the north sea, norfolk and suffolk the major recipients. the skies look more threatening as the showers push their way through. there's more to come overnight tonight across this area, east anglia, with the shower is continuing to run down the north sea. some showers possible for the
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highlands and western isles, but


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