Clues and Grid by Shark
The background for this puzzle is a posterised black and white Graham Fox photograph showing two bicycles.
The 5x5x7 grid celebrates the 75th anniversary of the birth of 5ac 13ac (“the star”) and also a 30th anniversary later this year.
Twenty answers must have the same thematic letter inserted or removed before entry (10 of each). A further three answers need a two-letter thematic abbreviation inserted before entry. Both abbreviations are contained in the star’s stage surname. The clues indicate the number of letters before adjustment, so it is straightforward to determine which clues are of each type. Note that the insertion or removal can happen at the beginning or the end of the word. The adjusted entries are all still words.
After completing the grid, solvers must replace the star’s stage name with his birth name (both forename and surname are 7 letters in each case). All the amended entries are real words or names. It is these final grid entries that need to be submitted.
There are two highlighted words. The six red cells running from top left in the top layer to bottom right in the middle layer only give a word in the final grid. The five blue cells running towards on the top layer give a name in the original grid, but a word in the final grid. Solvers should submit the red word followed by the most appropriate possible of the blue word (this is also a five-letter word, and is also associated with both the abbreviations used to adjust answers before entry).
After solving each Day the answer may change once or sometimes twice before reaching the final entries that should be submitted. Firstly twenty three of the answers have to be adjusted by the insertion or removal of a one or two letter abbreviation. This adjustment changes the length of the entry. Secondly, the star’s stage name should be changed to the star’s birth name. This will amend fourteen of the entries (without changing their length).
Our hints are to the original solutions to the clues for certain days, but we indicate where these entries will have to be (adjusted) or [amended] prior to submission.
Mama mia, mama mia! Solvers may think such an intricate construction very, very frightening, but they should carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters. Anyone can see Shark has put together a regal quicksilver puzzle. Magnifico!
Mamma heads for Barcelona reversing direction (6)
Almost misleading referring to the theme but you are looking for the ‘heads’ of Barcelona reversing followed by a direction to give you a synonym for Mamma. (Needs thematic letter removal before entry) [JJP]
Correspond with aluminium pen (6)
Abbreviation of the first word followed by a chemical symbol. Bad news for Nevada’s wild ones. (Needs thematic letter removal before entry) [GS]
Beginning French? (4)
This is a very naughty clue. This is not French as in the language but French as a surname. Ah yes, the sun slowly rises. (Needs thematic letter addition before entry) [GS]
Removes periods, apostrophe and colons … finally! (6)
Clever use of different punctuation marks, but they don’t all work in the same way. Finally indicates that we want some final letters, but only of the last two punctuation words. Before that we need a word meaning periods, but not full stops. We might expect removes to be part of the wordplay, but here it is the definition. (Needs thematic letter removal before entry) [This entry is further amended by the final name change] [N&SI]
Keeps parting foot steps (6)
A word for keeps, parting (inside) a word for foot (from latin) gives you steps. (Needs thematic letter addition before entry) [JJP]
Without limits, foolishly talk shop (3)
An old word indicating to talk in a silly way about nothing in particular. This amounts to five letters and requires pruning to get back to the solution needed, namely to give away information about somebody. (This is one of the three that need the two letter thematic addition) [This entry is further amended by the final name change] [GS]
Film about cracking 10’s problem (4)
You’re looking for a word for a problem that the answer to 10 might address. Add in an abbreviation for about to give another word for film. (Needs thematic letter addition before entry) [This entry is further amended by the final name change] [JJP]
Cathartic Queen’s downed? (5)
Here we need the name of a plant used in the making of a laxative. The solution as indicated is entered ‘up’ but reading down also gives us the name of a Queen of Great Britain and allow a little licence with the apostrophe s. (This is one of only eight clues whose solution is entered directly in the grid without any additions or subtractions) [GS]
Without record in advance, thematic rhapsody arguably is so long (4)
Look for a short word meaning record in advance. This word appears at the start of a word for a piece of (usually classical) music, which could describe the famous rhapsody by our theme. Remove the short word to leave the answer, which means so long. (Needs thematic letter addition before entry) [N&SI]
Money required to house artist school (5)
A slang word for money around an abbreviation for an artist gives you a word for school. (This is one of the three that need the two letter thematic addition) [JJP]
We are grateful to the other members of the Hints & Tips team: Garry Stripling (Gin) and Jim Pennington (Philostrate), and Alison Ramage & Andre Sonnet (Aramis)
Nick & Sarah Inglis (etc)