Sunday, April 20, 2014

Week Eighteen: There's No Limit To What I Feel

Further photos have turned up online this week from the latest Doctor Who location filming within the grounds of Caerphilly Castle. So, what do we actually know about forthcoming coming series, beside the fact that it's got yer actual Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman her very self in it, dear blog reader? Be advised, if you care such such things then a few - very minor - spoilers follow so, you might want to stop reading at this point and go and look at some pictures of kittens instead. Production on series eight of Doctor Who began on 6 January in Cardiff, with Peter and Jenna shooting their first scenes together the following day. Filming is expected to continue until approximately mid-August. It was suggested in 2013 that the series would be have twelve rather than thirteen episodes. In an October 2013 interview, however, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat said that there would be 'at least' thirteen episodes in the series. It is still unknown if a 2014 Christmas special will be among them, although it's highly likely that one will. At the final fiftieth anniversary event at the BFI in December 2013, Moffat confirmed that the series would be broadcast during the second half of 2014 and that it would not be split into two parts as the previous two series have been. The opening episode is reported to be set predominantly in Victorian London and features the return of Madame Vastra, Jenny, Strax and, possibly even Matt Smith his very self in a cameo which may or may not have been filmed during the production of The Time Of The Doctor. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has said: 'We can push The Doctor a bit further if you’ve got a familiar world around him.' Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) also noted that yer man Capaldi is going to be an older, trickier and fiercer Doctor. 'I think the fun story will be – and we have the opportunity here – is this is what regeneration can do to you. He can be very, very different.' Moffat later added: 'Now it’s time for the old beast to snarl at you for a bit!' Jack the Ripper and Clockwork Droids are rumoured to appear in this - so far unnamed - episode which features guest appearances from Nigel Betts, Paul Hickey, Tony Way and Maggie Service. The second episode, written by Phil Ford and directed by Ben Wheatley, who is also behind the camera on the series opener, is rumoured to be a Dalek story. Phil had stated that the story would involved 'going behind enemy lines.' He later gave a further one word clue: 'Lasagne.' Very helpful, Phil! Two of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite actors, Michael Smiley and Ben Crompton appear in this story as characters called Colonel Blue and Ross respectively. The third episode in broadcast order appears to be the one which is currently in production - it's actually the sixth episode to be filmed. Written by yer actual Mark Gatiss and directed by Paul Murphy the rumoured title is Robots Of Sherwood and its said to be set in the Thirteen Century and feature Robin i'the Hood (played by Tom Riley) and various of his Merrie Men whose number appears to include Ian Hallard, Trevor Cooper, Rusty Goffe, Roger Ashton-Griffiths and Sabrina Barlett. The very excellent Ben Miller plays the episode's villain (whether that's The Sheriff of Nottingham, Guy de Gisborne or someone else entirely isn't, at this stage, known). Yer actual Steven Moffat had written episode four, rumoured to have been filmed under the working title Listen. This one was directed by Douglas Mackinnon. The episode premise is: 'When you talk to yourself, what if the person you’re talking to isn't really you?' A Minotaur-like monster was spotted during location filming whilst Sam Anderson joins the cast as the recurring character Danny Pink, a teacher at Coal Hill School and a colleague of Clara's. Sam had been quoted as saying: 'I can't wait to show people how my character becomes involved with such a fantastic duo!' The actor Robert Goodman is also reported to be appearing in this episode as a character called Reg. MacKinnon is also directing episode five, written by Steve Thompson and supposedly with the working title Time Heist. In this, The Doctor and Clara come face-to-face with the villainous Ms Delphox (played by a particular favourite of all of us here at From The North, Keeley Hawes) when they arrive on an alien planet. Delphox is a powerful character, a banker 'with a dark secret.' Probably the size of her annual bonus. Jonathan Bailey plays a cyborg in the episode which is also reported to feature Pippa Bennett-Warner. Gareth Roberts' episode, number six in broadcast order, is rumoured to be called Kill The Moon and is directed by Paul Murphy. Sam Anderson and Nigel Betts also appear in this one, along with Edward Harrison, Andy Gillies, Ellis George and Jimmy Vee who plays an alien of some description. The location filming for this, which took place in Cardiff, showed Capaldi using the sonic screwdriver in public for the first time (and, also, wearing a rather fetching pink lab coat). Beyond that, we know that the next two episodes due into production will be directed by Paul Wilmshurst one of which may, or may not, be called Mummy on the Orient Express. Flatline is another rumoured episode title for later in the series. Neil Cross has confirmed that he will be writing at least one episode for series eight, whilst Neil Gaiman and Frank Cottrell Boyce have also stated that they were developing scripts though neither were able to confirm whether these would be for series eight or a subsequent series. Mark Gatiss is also rumoured to have another script in development.
Doctor Who dominates the nominations for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form Programme in the 2014 Hugo Awards. Not only are both The Day Of The Doctor and The Name Of The Doctor nominated, but so is the biopic-drama An Adventure in Space and Time and the spoof anniversary comedy The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. The Lord thy God Steven Moffat, said: 'For Doctor Who to receive three Hugo nominations in its anniversary year is completely thrilling. We are all over the moon. I'm particularly pleased about The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot as that was my acting debut. I remain available for any parts requiring a black jumper and slightly unrealistic hair.' Doctor Who has been nominated for a Hugo in most years since the series returned in 2005. Previous winners include Neil Gaiman for The Doctor's Wife, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat for The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, The Girl In The Fireplace, Blink and The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang and Russell Davies and Phil Ford for The Waters Of Mars. Last year, despite being nominated for three episodes, the show lost out to Game Of Thrones when the awards were announced. Also nominated this year is the comic The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who, written by me auld mucker Paul Cornell and illustrated by Jimmy Broxton for Best Graphic Novel. In the Best Fancast category, Verity!, billed as 'Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who' also received a nomination. The 2014 awards will be presented at Loncon 3 - the seventy second World Science Fiction Convention - to be held at the ExCeL in London between Thursday 14 and Monday 18 August, with the awards themselves being presented on Sunday 17 August.

K-9 was supposed to be a Time Lord’s best friend but crazy auld Tom Baker has admitted he was not a fan of the robot dog for most of his Doctor Who tenure. 'I didn't like K-9 at all,' said Mad Tom. 'Every time we had a shot [together] it meant that I had to get on my knees, which reminded me of the days when I was a Catholic, and it was pretty bloody boring being reminded of those days.' Baker revealed that he had suggested the BBC do away with K-9 altogether but that the child-friendly character had already become too big a part of plans for the show. 'The dog couldn't move quickly in the old days,' said Baker, speaking at the launch of the Horror Channel's season of Doctor Who episodes. 'It was retrieved in rehearsal by John Leeson [who voiced K-9], playing the dog, he actually moved around. And I said "Why don't we give him another costume and get him to answer the phone or play chess or something." But by that time, of course, the BBC had calculated that they were marketing K-9 and they didn't want any discussion about that.' Crazy auld Tom's Doctor travelled with two versions of K-9 during his final four series on the show and, despite his initial feelings about the talking dog, he admits 'I finally got used to it. I'm on some very powerful anti-inflammatories and the doctor said there might be some side-effects,' he noted. 'Pne of the side-effects I’ve had recently is I've started calling my dog Poppy K-9.'
Another day, another Benedict Cumberbatch casting rumour. The Sherlock star had been linked to a role in JJ Abrams' new Star Wars movie, but shot down hopes over the weekend when he told fans at the Oz Comic Con: 'I would've liked a part in JJ's new Star Wars but it won't happen, sadly.' He also told the audience that he's unlikely to appear in Doctor Who: 'I'm never gonna play The Doctor and nothing to do with the Whoniverse.' Now Hollywood blog The Tracking Board claims that Benny has been offered the starring role in an Ian Fleming biopic detailing the origin stories of James Bond. One hopes that the rumour turns out to be true – Benny could certainly carry off wearing Fleming's trademark bow tie - though it, too seems to be unlikely. With film work and a role playing Hamlet at London's Barbican already lined-up for next year, it looks like there may be the usual lengthy wait for the next series of Sherlock. Indeed, Benny continues to be coy about whether series four will happen at all, telling the Radio Times: 'I, genuinely don't know. That's not me trying to be mysterious. None of us know if there will be a fourth, fifth or sixth series.'

On a related subject, almost at the same time that Benny was saying all that, Martin Freeman was admitting that the scheduling a potential fourth series of Sherlock is proving 'hard to do.' The actor - soon to play Richard III in the West End - told the Digital Spy website that' initial plans' to work on new episodes following his theatrical run have now been scrapped. 'It's very hard to get together,' he said. 'But it's one of those things where you have to at some point just go, "We're going to do it now" - otherwise we could [still] be having this conversation in three years.' He added: 'There comes a point where you've got to piss or get off the pot.' Indeed. Usually when you're busting for a pee, admittedly. Marty recently stated that he is 'not interested' in the long-term television roles offered up by US TV, but - in relation to Sherlock - he told the website that he is 'happy' to stick with playing John Watson for the foreseeable future. 'I can't countenance doing something for eight months of the year every year – but three months of the year every couple of years is much more attractive. I wouldn't and couldn't put an end point on it – I'm just more open to it.'

MasterChef climbed in the ratings on Thursday evening, according to overnight data. The BBC1 cooking series was seen by 4.6m at 8pm, up three hundred thousand punters from the equivalent episode last week. Later, the new series Parking Mad brought in 4.3m at 9pm. A repeat of the - superb - BBC3 documentary Life And Death Row appealed to 1.9m. On BBC2, Great British Menu attracted 1.9m at 7.30pm, followed by Digby Jones: The New Troubleshooter with eight hundred and ninety six thousand viewers at 8pm and Protecting Our Parents at 9pm with seven hundred and forty nine thousand. ITV's thoroughly wretched Ade At Sea interested but 2.6m at 8.30pm, followed by Walton Sextuplets At Thirty with 2.9m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Posh Pawn was watched by 1.4m at 8pm. Fifteen Thousand Kids And Counting brought in nine hundred and twenty five thousand at 9pm, while Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown had an overnight audience of 1.10m at 10pm. Channel Five's Beware Cowboy Builders was seen by seven hundred and two thousand at 8pm, while Driven to Kill: Harold Shipman gathered eight hundred and ninety seven thousand at 9pm. Person Of Interest was watched by seven hundred and seven thousand at 10pm.

The ONE Show began BBC1's Good Friday evening schedule with an overnight audience of 3.07m. That was followed by A Question Of Sport with 2.82m. The latest episode of EastEnders which climaxed with the apparent murder of Lucy Beale had an audience of 6.41m, a fraction down on the previous evening's episode. MasterChef's half-hour Friday quarter final episode was watched by 3.80m as John and Gregg's love-in with Luke continued. The robotics engineer sailed through to the semi-final along with overly-chirpy-but-likeable Cockney geezer, Theo. As usual, the episode provided a useful reminder to all MasterChef contestants that, when you get interviewed in the back room do not, do not, do not answer the question 'how far do you think you can go in the competition' with what full-of-himself Joe had to say on the subject last night: 'I didn't come here to get to the quarter finals, I've come here to win it. And that's what I'm gonna do.' So, dear blog reader, guess which one of the four contestants presented guest judge Jay Rayner with a dish that had provoked the response: 'Sadly, it's not doing it for me.' MasterChef's producers really do seem to take a delight in getting people to big themselves up and then have the camera linger on their devastated boat-race as they dream of riches beyond avarice are crushed like eggshell under the shoe on unwelcome reality. it's got to be said, when it happens, it is funny, though. After that, the comedy gold continued with an excellent episode of Have I Got News For You, watched by 4.46m at 9pm, Friday's highest-rated show outside of soaps. Outnumbered had an overnight audience of 2.89m and The Graham Norton Show rounded out the night with 2.74m. A Lewis repeat was the highest-rated show outside of soaps on ITV, being watched by 2.81 million at 9pm, including yer actual Keith Telly Topping who recorded it because he hadn't seen that one before. Elsewhere, Weekend Escapes With Warwick Davis was seen by 2.47 million at 8pm. BBC2's highest-rated show of the evening was yer actual Mastermind with 2.23m at 8pm. It was followed by Gardeners' World with 1.97m. The evening continued with the terrific Natural World documentary Honey Badgers: Masters If Mayhem and The Trip To Italy, which attracted 1.68m and 1.02m viewers respectively. On Channel Four, Gogglebox pulled in 2.54 million at 9pm, followed by 1.46m for Alan Carr: Chatty Man at 10pm. Nine hundred and fifty thousand watched Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD at 8pm. The latest episode of Ice Road Truckers had an audience of eight hundred and forty three thousand at 8pm on Channel Five, while NCIS: Death Wish was seen by 1.16 million immediately afterwards. The evening continued with six hundred and twenty two thousand watching NCIS: Los Angeles and three hundred and twenty five thousand for Britain's Crime Capitals.
Aisde from thigh-slapping MasterChef moments, the TV comedy line of the week came, as usual, from Have I Got News For You. In a top quality episode (with the excellent Henning Wehn on especially good form) the host, yer actual Jezza Clarkson his very self, noted that he and guest panellist the frightfully posh Camilla Long are 'that rarest of creatures, the only Murdoch journalists not currently in court!' And a close second was the conclusion to the story about the 'hedge-fund manager' from Stonegate who had, reportedly, dodged paying over forty grand in train fares and then, when caught, managed to remain anonymous by paying the sum back. 'By being allowed to settle out of court, he did buy a level on anonymity normally reserved for winners of The Voice,' said Jezza. 'To be fair to the hedge-fund manager he did use his Oyster Card every day. But only to chop up lines of cocaine before blowing them up a prostitute's bottom. Sorry mate, you want to stay anonymous, we can libel you all we like!'
A very close runner-up in the TV comedy line of the week award, came from across the Atlantic and the latest episode of Hannibal. 'Peter, is your social worker in that horse?' Honest, dear blog reader, I'm not making this up! This, as it were, is my design.
Britain's Got Toilets topped Saturday primetime ratings again on Saturday night despite dropping over two million viewers since last week's series opener, according to overnight data. The talent show was watched by 8.28m when it was broadcast on ITV from 7pm. Later on ITV, the wretched Amazing Greys was watched by 3.2m at 8.20pm followed by a Law & Order: UK repeat, which pulled in 1.32m at 9.20pm. On BBC1, Pointless Celebrities kicked off primetime with 3.73m at 7pm, while Casualty brought in 4.22m at 8.40pm. Rob Brydon's The Guess List continued at 9.30pm with 3.58m. On BBC2, University Challenge: The Story So Far gathered 1.24m at 8pm, followed by a special anniversary Champion of Champions edition of the student quiz, which brought in 1.89m at 9pm. The documentary drama Messiah At The Foundling Hospital had an audience of 1.28m at 9.30pm. Channel Four's Grand Designs was seen by three hundred and seventy thousand punters at 7.05pm, while the season finale of US drama Hostages was watched by seven hundred thousand straight afterwards at 8.05pm. A showing of the Liam Neeson movie Taken pulled in 1.48m from 9pm. On Channel Five, a double bill of NCIS attracted four hundred and forty four thousand and six hundred and thirty nine thousand viewers at 7.30pm and 8.25pm respectively, while five hundred and four thousand tuned in to watch the countdown show Britain's Favourite Detectives from 9.25pm. On the multichannels, BBC4's broadcast of the wartime drama Downfall attracted six hundred and forty one thousand at 9pm, while Toy Story 2 had an audience of six hundred and two thousand on BBC3 at 8.20pm.

Channel Four has snapped up former MasterChef: The Professionals host Michel Roux Jnr for a new advertiser-funded Saturday morning cookery show Weekend Kitchen With Waitrose. Roux, who stepped down from the BBC2 series due to 'a commercial conflict of interest' is joining the new series – alongside another MasterChef star, yer actual John Torode, and another BBC chef, Raymond Blanc. They will be joined by Heston Blumenthal, already a Channel Four regular, and Gordon Ramsay's protegé, Angela Hartnett, among others yet to be announced. Each week the chefs will make recipes using ingredients provided by Waitrose. That's a supermarket used to pretentious middle-class Gruniad readers who wouldn't be seen dead in Morrisons of Asda, in case you were wondering. The hour-long show will be fronted by Steve Jones and Lisa Snowden and, in a similar vein to BBC1's rival show Saturday Kitchen, will feature celebrity guests. Weekend Kitchen will be broadcast at 9am on Saturdays from 26 April, just before Saturday Kitchen. Channel Four's head of daytime David Sayer, who commissioned the show from independent production company Spun Gold, said: 'Steve and Lisa are the perfect pairing to present the show's unique combination of celebrity chat, seasonal cooking and tips on how to entertain. It's a great fit for Four's schedule and will help our viewers make the most of their weekends.' Spun Gold managing director Nick Bullen said: 'Spun Gold is excited to embark on this new project with Waitrose, extending our relationship with the brand to produce their first ever television programme.' Waitrose will also run in-store promotions around the show – which is designed 'to reflect its free weekly newspaper' Waitrose Weekend. Channel Four already broadcasts a cookery and chat show on Sunday mornings, Sunday Brunch, hosted by Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer. The broadcaster hired the presenters and production team after their BBC2 Sunday morning show, the similar cookery-and-chat format Something For The Weekend, was axed.

Shooting has begun on a six-part series of Babylon for Channel Four in and around London. The pilot for Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong's show was broadcast in February and the full series will return this autumn. Brit Marling, James Nesbitt, Paterson Joseph, Bertie Carvel, Adam Deacon, Jill Halfpenny, Jonny Sweet and Nicola Walker return as staff in a modern metropolitan police force, having to deal with both criminals and the press.
Lee Mack is reportedly trying to lay his hands on the sign from the Blackburn pub in which he grew up. His parents ran the Centurion pub, which was demolished after an arson attack in 2006. Lee said: 'There was an old sign on the road at the entrance to the pub and I would love to trace it. If anyone knows where it is I would really like to buy it from them.' The Centurion site has been derelict since the fire, but is set to have fourteen homes built on it.

And, so to the latest batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 26 April
Generation War - 9:30 BBC2 - is a, rather fine-looking, German drama following the stories of five friends as their lives take different paths during the Second World War. In Berlin in 1941, Wilhelm and his younger brother Friedhelm are heading to fight on the Eastern Front, Charlotte is joining the Wehrmacht as a nurse, whilst Greta's Jewish boyfriend Viktor tries to persuade his parents to leave the country. In German, with subtitles. If you're missing your fix of BBC4 imported Euro-drama, this three-part series might just be what you're looking for.
Drama's very welcome repeat run of Waking The Dead - 9:00 - reaches one of the finest two-part stories in the long-running crime drama's history, The Fall, first shown in 2006. Two long-dead sexually conjoined bodies fall through the ceiling of a former merchant bank after being disturbed by builders. A gold ingot found at the scene suggests a direct connection to another cold case, a man found dead in the Thames in 1992. When Eve links one of the corpses to the Opus Dei organisation, Peter Boyd is warned off pursuing that particular line of investigation. Of course, being Boyd, he takes absolutely no notice. Trevor Eve, Sue Johnston, Tara FitzGerald, Wil Johnson and Felicite Du Jeu star with guest appearances from Catherine Walker, Stanley Townsend, Nick Dunning, Terence Harvey, Alison Doody and Nigel Whitmey. And, most importantly dear blog reader, Keith Telly Topping urges you to watch out for a thoroughly stunning, eye-rolling performance from yer actual Peter Capaldi as a former banker with a dangerous obsession. Really good actor, that bloke. Whatever became of him?
One of the most devastating pandemics in human history, the Black Death swept through London in 1348, killing old and young, rich and poor, within days of their first symptoms. Received wisdom has long suggested the culprit was bubonic plague, spread by the fleas of infected rats. The Secret History documentary The Return of The Black Death - 7:55 on More4 - follows experts from a range of disciplines as they pick through the evidence, reveal why the disease killed on such a large scale, and discuss how it still poses a threat today. In 2012, archaeologists uncovered in the City of London twenty five bodies of people carried off by the lethal Black Death outbreak of 1348-49, when it's believed sixty per cent of the capital's population died. And although it is generally been brought under control, outbreaks of plague do still happen – dozens died last year in Madagascar, for example. Bubonic plague, which originated with rats and fleas (and, according to Qi, marmots) in Asia, raced through Europe before finally hitting our shores. But what can modern-day science extract from the London bones to tell us why it proved so fatal, so fast? And documentary evidence brings us up close to the victims themselves. A fascinating story, with an intriguing conclusion, if slightly marred by a doom-laden narration and a pseudo-religious choral soundtrack.

Sunday 27 April
The crime drama Vera, set in yer actual Keith Telly Topping's neck of the woods, returns - 8:00 ITV - with an episode based on Ann Cleeves' recently published novel Harbour Street. DCI Vera Stanhope investigates the death of a pensioner found extremely stabbed on a train at the height of rush hour. The case has a huge impact on Joe's home life when his daughter is named as a key witness and he struggles to maintain a professional distance. The trail leads the team to a quiet Northumberland coastal town where clues appear to lead to one particular street - but why are the residents so reluctant to talk to the pollis? Starring the properly terrific Brenda Blethyn (and her curious accent that isn't like any Northumberland twang this blogger's ever come across) along with David Leon, Sonya Cassidy, Jon Morrison and Eva Birthistle.

Sheriff's deputy Molly begins to suspect that Lester is involved in the murders, but her new boss Bill points her in a different direction in the second episode of Fargo - 9:00 Channel Four. Meanwhile, Malvo investigates the blackmail plot against a man known as The Supermarket King. Black comedy-drama based on the Coen brothers' critically acclaimed film, starring Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman and Bob Odenkirk.

Chris Addison and Jo Joyner leave behind The Thick of It and EastEnders respectively and make something of a left turn. They come together in Trying Again - 9:00 Sky Living - a romcom about a young couple in Kendal, who are bearing up after her recent affair and attempting to rebuild their relationship. The premise is meant to make Trying Again edgier and more emotional than other not particularly funny comedy dramas like Stella and Mount Pleasant, which it resembles on the surface. Simon Blackwell's somewhat bittersweet script has Addison and Joyner playing Matt and Meg, a couple who decide to give their relationship another shot following Meg's affair with her boss, Iain. But that's easier said than done in a small Lake District town where there is no such thing as secrets. Money is tight in the first of tonight's two episodes and Meg considers reapplying for her old receptionist role at the local doctor's surgery - working alongside Iain. Co-starring Charles Edwards, Elizabeth Berrington and Alun Cochrane. Average would be a decent description - as usual, Addison is a talent but spends half of his time desperately trying to be likeable and not pulling it off whilst Joyner is ... essentially, playing the same character she played in EastEnders only with slightly less of an accent.

You could, of course, watch a tone-deaf balding ex-milkman from Waalsend in Sting: When The Last Ship Sails - 10:00 BBC4 - which also features an appearance by Big Jimmy Nail. But, I wouldn't, dear blog reader. Trust yer actual Keith Telly Topping on this one, life's too short.

Monday 28 April
Shortarse mega-rich tyrant Bernie Ecclestone has dominated Formula 1 motor racing for over forty years and made billions from the sport. Tonight's Panorama, Lies, Bribes & Formula 1 - 8:30 BBC1 - looks at allegations against the F1 boss, including claims that he has paid a forty four million dollar bribe and avoided a billion smackers in UK taxes. Darragh Macintyre investigates and asks, if it's true (which, of course, has yer to be proved), why is he still in charge of one of the world's biggest sports, and not in jail?

When Detective Sergeant Marcus Farrow is wrongly accused of the murders of his wife and son, he seizes the first opportunity to escape in the opening episode of the much-trailed three part drama Prey - 9:00 ITV. On the run in Manchester, he's thrown into a high-stakes game of cat and mouse across the city and, as a wanted killer, he has few allies. Determined to be reunited with his eldest child and clear his name, the fugitive finds himself doing things he never thought possible as he tries to evade capture. Thriller, starring John Simm, with Rosie Cavaliero, Craig Parkinson, Anastasia Hille and Adrian Edmondson.
Secret History Of UFOs - 9:00 Channel Five - brings together eyewitness testimony, expert opinion and archive film and photos, this documentary investigates some of the most significant UFO sightings in history. From the mystery of the alleged crash in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947, to the V-shaped lights captured on camera over Phoenix in 1997, the film analyses the evidence and considers whether or not the reports are credible. Nothing here that you haven't seen in a hundred Discovery Channel, 'Alien Mystery'-type documentaries.

Hinterland - 9:00 BBC4 - is a truly bilingual seven-part drama, that's trying to do for Aberystwyth what The Killing did for Copenhagen. Ambitious. Welsh-speaking viewers of S4C met haunted, rule-breaking DCI Tom Mathias (played by Richard Harrington) last year when the series was broadcast in Welsh - because the series was filmed in both English and Welsh (with the actors performing scenes twice). This version is, predominantly, in English, with scenes between Welsh-speaking characters kept in the local tongue and subtitled - a device that, along with handsome filming of Ceredigion's harshly beautiful landscape, gives the drama a strong sense of place and, for non-Welsh viewers, a dash of that Scandi-drama 'otherness.' Mathias's first investigation involves the disappearance of a sixty four-year-old woman and leads him to an ancient ravine at Devil's Bridge. It's a story of painful local secrets that, in truth, could have been lifted from any number of British detective shows, but it's well told and thoughtfully acted. The bathroom of a quiet seaside bungalow is covered in blood - and there is no sign of the owner. With Mali Harries, Alex Harries, Hannah Daniel and Aneirin Hughes.

Adam attempts to find a new career outside the Church following the closure of St Saviour's and sets his sights on becoming a management consultant, but has difficulty leaving his vocation and congregation behind in Rev - 10:00 BBC2. Meanwhile, his not-so-merry former parishioners try to cope without their vicar and their church. Comedy, starring Tom Hollander and Olivia Coleman. Last in the series.

Russell Kane (stupid hair and very popular with students, if not popular with anybody in a position of authority at the BBC these days) hosts the - alleged - comedy show Live At The Electric - 110:00 Dave - featuring an ensemble of - alleged - up-and-coming UK 'talent', blending stand-up routines, sketches and music. Amateurish, unfunny crap, mostly, but if you're looking for one single over-riding reason why kicking BBC3 online, slashing its budget to nothing and telling most of the rancid overpaid 'talent' thereupon and just go away and not come back, dear blog reader, then this is it. About as funny as piles.

Tuesday 29 April
Happy Valley - 9:00 BBC1 - is new a crime drama from the pen of Sally Wainwright. Catherine Cawood is the sergeant on duty at the local cop shop when accountant Kevin Weatherill enters the station to report a crime - the kidnapping of his boss's daughter. Kevin confesses that it was he who originally came up with the plan as a way of paying for his own children's private education but, being an accountant, he had a backbone like jelly and eventually backed out of the crazy scheme. However, his would-be partner is dangerous local drug kingpin, Ashley Cowgill - and he has only been and gone ahead with the plot, anyway, hasn't he? What a kerfuffle. The caper hits a nerve for Catherine, who has lost her own daughter and is determined to bring the captors to justice, with a good hard kick in the cobblers for being such planks. Sarah Lancashire stars, with Steve Pemberton, Joe Armstrong, James Norton, Siobhan Finneran and George Costigan.

A repeat, but a really good one and highly recommended if you missed it first time around, is the final part of the acclaimed documentary series At Home With The Georgians - 8:00 BBC4. Perky, personable and thoroughly entertaining historian Amanda Vickery reveals how the Eighteenth Century home was constantly under threat from theft, fire, divorce, poverty, illness and death. And man eating rabbits. Probably. Well, all right, not so much the latter but ... Anyway, using intimate diaries and Old Bailey records, Amanda - who, like her fellow Georgian experts, Lucy Worsley and Suzy Klein, has a real way of bringing history to life - explores the chaos of Georgian houses, bursting with extended families and servants and learns how they set about making their dwellings. Last in the series and, as noted, if you missed this delightful series first time around give it a short now, you won't regret it.

Nazi Megastructures - 9:00 National Geographic Channel - investigates how Nazi German scientist Wernher von Braun secretly developed the world's first long-range rockets, the V-2, laying the technological foundations for the space race after the Americans turned a blind eye to war crimes.
Head teacher Stephen Drew, who viewers may recognise from the highly-regarded and award-winning 2011 series Educating Essex, sets out to help eleven difficult pupils by enrolling them - and their parents - in a residential summer school, hoping he and a team of experts can unlock the youngsters' potential before it's too late in the first of a new series, Mr Drew's School For Boys - 9:00 Channel Four. In the opening episode, the boys aren't keen to play by the rules and there's an altercation before they even make it to their first class, before a drama lesson descends into chaos.

Wednesday 30 April
After five weeks of MasterChef heats, sixty hopefuls (some of whom were far more hopeful than others) have been whittled down to the most promising ten - 8:00 BBC1. But, if they thought it was tough getting this far, the knock-out stage will really sort the dishwashers from the chefs as, over the next two nights, the remaining contestants are split into two groups of five and get their first taste of professional cooking. Tonight's group of five head off to London's Caxton Grill, where 2013 MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Adam Handling is now the head chef for a busy lunchtime service. Then it's back to the studio to rustle up a dish from an array of seasonal produce for renowned chef Marcus Wareing and the judges, John Torode and Gregg Wallace, who will then send one of the hopefuls packing.

Still reeling from the death of one of their own, Ronnie and Joe face a new challenge when an innocent young mum is fatally stabbed in a busy marketplace, just as a senior police officer publicly pledges to crack down on knife crime in the series finale of Law & Order: UK - 9:00 ITV. Under pressure from all sides, the pair struggle to gather evidence against the youth they think is responsible, and the suspect's unintentional confession appears to bring the case to a close. However, Ronnie is the only person who hears the admission, and it proves difficult getting anyone to believe him. With the detective's honesty cast into doubt and his effectiveness questioned at every turn, is this the end of his career? Bradley Walsh, Ben Bailey Smith, Dominic Rowan, Georgia Taylor and Peter Davison star, with Tony Gardner, Sharon Small and Colin Salmon.

In the first of two episodes of Castle shown tonight - 190:00 Channel Five - Beckett, Castle and the team investigate when a juror in a murder trial dies in the courtroom during the closing arguments, apparently having been poisoned. As Ryan sifts through CCTV footage from the courthouse, Esposito goes to question the other members of the jury only to find that one of them has disappeared. Away from the case, Castle downloads an app that monitors Alexis's location. Following that, the team investigate when a journalist researching the bitter rivalry between pizzeria owners is found dead in an oven, and an estate agent reveals the victim had been working on a story involving the murder of a drug trafficker. Meanwhile, Alexis is upset when one of her friends kisses Ashley and then posts pictures of it online. Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic and Molly Quinn star.
Thursday 1 May
Mike Read presents an edition of Top of The Pops from 10 May 1979 - 7:30 BBC4 - featuring performances by The Damned, Elkie Brooks, Sparks, Boney M, The Shadows, Eruption, The Monks, Roxy Music and Gary Moore. Plus, dance sequences by Legs & Co.
'What did the Georgians ever do for us?' asks the divine Lucy Worsley in the trailer for the BBC's current Georgian Season before deciding, 'it's the Georgians world, we just live in it.' In The First Georgians: The German Kings Who Made Britain - 9:00 BBC4 - Doctor Lucy her very self marks the three hundredth anniversary of the Hanoverian succession to the British throne as she reveals the history of Britain under the reigns of George I and George II. She is given access to treasure from the Royal Collection prior to the opening of a new exhibition at the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, to give a personal insight into the monarchs' lives, and begins by charting the story of George I's feuding family.
Gabriel and Riley go undercover as secret service agents to extract two American journalists being held hostage in war-torn Syria, prompting the duo to ask questions that affect the future of the Clockwork initiative in the latest episode of Intelligence - 9:00 Sky1. Things get awkward for Riley, however, when she is forced to work with her ex, so Gabe amuses himself trying to find out what happened between them. Imported US drama starring Josh Holloway, Meghan Ory, John Billingsley and Marg Helgenberger.
Friday 2 May
Jack Dee rules the roost on tonight's episode of Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1 - as regular team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton take pot-shots at the week's silliest news stories, with the help of comedienne Bridget Christie.

Comedian and nature-lover Bill Bailey his very self narrates a Natural World documentary, Nature's Misfits - 9:00 BBC2 - examining the lives of an eccentric cast of unconventional and unusual creatures that do things differently, turning this oddness to their advantage.
Cunning and well-connected, The Kingmaker is the man behind the rise of some of the world's most powerful politicians, but one of his operations receives unwanted attention from the FBI when a government official in Prague is framed for murder in the latest episode of The Blacklist - 9:00 - Sky Living. Wise to the strategist's wily and nefarious ways, Red - not a little wily and nefarious himself, of course - helps Harold Copper's team track him down, and with his attention focused on the chase, Lizzy Keane seizes the opportunity to probe in Reddington's closely guarded personal life. Only to discover a shocking secret. With James Spader, Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff, Harry Lennix and Parminder Nagra. Guest starring Linus Roache.

The Beatles: The Night That Changed America - A Grammy Salute - 10:35 BBC2 - is an entertainment 'special' it says here, first shown in the US two months ago, and commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the ground-breaking first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show of The Be-Atles (they were popular beat combo of the 1960s, dear blog reader, you might've heard of them) and 'celebrating their legacy.' Which actually means we get a parade of shitty cover versions of the songs performed on that evening in February 1964, as well as a variety of Be-Atles hits, performed here by 'some of the biggest names in music'. And some of the least suited to destroying 'Yesterday' or 'Here Comes The Sun' into the bargain. These include Maroon 5, Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, Alicia Keys and John Legend, and, for Christ's sake, Eurythmics - reuniting for one night only. And, after hearing their thoroughly rotten take on 'The Fool On The Hill' let us be jolly thankful for that. At least Stevie Wonder's version of 'We Can Work It Out' is passably tuneful, Dave Grohl, Gary Clark Jr and Joe Walsh doing 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' is, actually, pretty good and after a shot set from Sir Paul McCartney MBE, he is joined by yer actual Ringo Starr his very self for 'Hey Jude' and 'With A Little Help from My Friends'. Various presenters - including Kate Beckinsale, Johnny Depp and Sean Penn - help to 'highlight and contextualise' the musical, cultural and historical impact of the band. Not, quite, as dreadful as you might have heard dear blog reader but, to be honest, if you really want to celebrate what The Be-Atles were all about, find a DVD of that original Ed Sullivan Show set. Because, that's entertainment.

To the news now: Miranda Hart is reported to be in 'early talks' with the BBC about a revival of The Generation Game. Launched by Sir Bruce Forsyth his very self in 1971, the game show attracted audiences of up to twenty million at its peak. It featured couples from four families competing in comedic challenges like pot-throwing and morris dancing and the famed conveyor belt memory game. Hart would be the show's first female host, following Brucie, Larry Grayson and the odious right-wing bag of diarrhoea and filth, Jim Davidson. She previously appeared on a 2011 Comic Relief edition of the show, hosted by braying numskull Vernon Kay. The forty one-year-old is best known for her eponymous sitcom and her role in hit drama Call The Midwife, but she is a self-confessed fan of The Generation Game. Interviewing Sir Bruce for a career retrospective last year, she said: 'Bruce is too modest to say this, so I am going to say it for him: During the 1970s, The Generation Game was getting over twenty  million viewers every single week and my family was one of them. I loved it. It is one of the greatest game shows ever.' When Sir Bruce said the show 'may be a bit old hat now', Hart replied 'but we need to get back to entertainment, Bruce.' Well, thanks for telling us all what we need, Miranda, that's really appreciated. The Generation Game challenged its contestants to learn new skills and take part in slapstick daftness, with the host's irreverent banter a key part of the appeal. It climaxed every week with the conveyor belt game, where one contestant had to memorise a series of tacky household goods as they travelled past. It was the number one game show in the 1970s, with Larry Grayson achieving an estimated audience of twenty five million in 1979 during a period when Forsyth had defected to ITV. A 1990s revival also fared reasonably well, with Forsyth's Christmas Day episode in 1990 watched by more than sixteen million people. However, a new series is not guaranteed. A BBC spokesman said: 'It's in the early ideas stage at the moment. Nothing is confirmed and no series [is] planned.'

The BBC and Sky's video-on-demand TV services are both experiencing problems on iPhones and iPads. The fault appears to be limited to iPlayer, Sky Go and Now TV on Apple's iOS platform and began last night. Neither organisation was able to provide a full explanation ad to what the blithering frig all this malarkey was all about. However, the director of Now TV suggested that altering a device's date setting would act as a temporary workaround. 'It's a Sky-wide issue, so it's both our app and Sky Go,' Gidon Katz told the BBC. 'It appears to be related to a date configuration. So, if you reset your iOS device to yesterday's date it would work. This could indicate that the issue is linked to an expired digital certificate. However, changing the date setting can cause other problems. For example the owner becomes unable to access Apple's App Store. It also fails to fix streams in either the iPlayer app or via the service's website. A message on the BBC's website said: 'We are aware of reports from users encountering an "Insufficient Bandwidth" error message when attempting to play programmes through the iPad app. This is currently under investigation and we will update this FAQ when we obtain further information.' A spokesman for the corporation noted that shows could still be downloaded, rather than streamed. This is the second technical fault that Now TV has experienced this month. Sky's subscription service - which targets people who do not subscribe to its satellite TV channels - crashed during the first episode of the latest Game Of Thrones season. Katz said this was caused by 'a separate problem' created by the challenge of servicing a large audience watching the same content simultaneously. 'Last Monday was exacerbated by the fact that we had a football match on at the same time,' he explained. 'The sheer demand means we have to keep on improving our processes. This is technically challenging. If you have large numbers of people watching Liverpool versus Man City concurrently and Game Of Thrones at the same time it's obviously going to put a much larger strain on our technical capability than people dipping in and out of [Netflix's] House Of Cards, Orange Is The New Black or any of those series.'

Ronnie Corbett has claimed that he was asked to be one of the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey. He told Graham Norton on Friday's episode of The Graham Norton Show: 'Stanley Kubrick saw me doing a little spot on Sunday Night At The Palladium and said, "He would be ideal for one of my apes." I turned it down!' Ronnie also revealed that he has a habit of getting locked in toilets. 'I have been trapped in some posh toilets including those in Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, and at Victor Spinetti's memorial at St Paul's Covent Garden I got locked in the loo. I had to scream and shout and eventually someone threw a screwdriver over the door.'
The former BBC presenter Derek Cooper, who founded the long-running radio show The Food Programme, has died, aged eighty eight. The Scottish journalist and writer also worked on shows including Tomorrow's World, PM, Today and You and Yours. On Radio 4's The Food Programme, which first broadcast in 1979, Cooper investigated the culinary world on behalf of consumers. He was appointed OBE in 1997 and honoured at the 2001 Sony Awards for his pioneering work on food. Cooper's broadcasting career began at Radio Malaya in 1950 and he worked at ITN before becoming a familiar voice on BBC radio and television. In the first episode of Tomorrow's World, he voiced a report about kidney dialysis. A tribute posted on The Food Programme's Twitter page said that Cooper had 'reintroduced a nation to its food culture.' He was also the first chairman and president of the Guild of Food Writers, which gives out the Derek Cooper Award for campaigning and investigative food writing and broadcasting. Cooper was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1995.

Gunmen have shot and wounded one of Pakistan's best known television presenters in the city of Karachi. Police said that the attackers opened fire on Hamid Mir's car near the airport. The presenter for Geo TV received three bullets, but was in a stable condition, the officials added. There have been previous attempts on the life of Mir, the first journalist to interview Osama bin Laden after 9/11. The attack has been strongly condemned by Pakistani politicians, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries for the media and, last month, Sharif pledged to do more to protect journalists in Pakistan. Mir had just landed in Karachi and was on his way to the studios of Geo TV, a private Pakistani news channel, when the unidentified gunmen in a car and on motorcycles reportedly tailed him before opening fire. Police said that Mir sustained three gunshot wounds, but that his life was not in danger. Mir's brother, a leading investigative journalist, has accused the country's intelligence agency, the ISI, of orchestrating the attack, reports to the BBC's Shahzeb Jillani, in Karachi. According to his brother, Mir had recently told family and colleagues that he had received threats from the ISI because of his political views. In 2012, the Pakistani Taliban tried to kill Mir by planting half-a-kilogram of explosives under his car outside his home in Islamabad. But the remote-controlled device failed to go off. The Taliban had threatened Mir and other journalists for their coverage of the militants' shooting of the schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai. Five journalists were killed in Pakistan in 2013 and more than fifty have died since the early 1990s. Most murders remain unresolved.

The demand for bigger buttocks in Venezuela means some women will even have banned injections to achieve them, putting their health at risk, reports the BBC.
For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, time for a bit of ABBA, I reckon.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lines On The Antiquity Of Rumours

Peter Capaldi and Tom Riley have been sighted on-set filming for the new series of Doctor Who. It was recently revealed that Riley had landed a guest role on the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama, in an episode written by yer actual Mark Gatiss his very self. The episode - which will also guest-star Ben Miller as a villain - is rumoured to be based on the legend of Robin Hood. Expected to be broadcast third in Capaldi's first series as the Doctor, the episode is one of two scripts which Gatiss recently announced he had been commissioned to write for the show.
Foul hippie. Get a haircut.

An extended video collating three of the Regenerations panels at the Doctor Who Celebration convention has been uploaded onto the BBC's Fifty Years Of Doctor Who website. Recorded at the Excel Arena in London on the 22 and 23 November and monitored by Nicholas Briggs, the panel brought together Crazy auld Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy and The Crap One before the celebratory simulcast broadcast of The Day Of The Doctor. Discussed were the series' 2005 revival, the current TARDIS set, an anecdote from Crazy Tom about improvising in The Face Of Evil, what Doctor each of them would play discounting themselves and the actors' reactions to regeneration scenes.
A Chinese court has jailed a blogger for three years, state media has reported. He is the first person to be sentenced in a government-led crackdown on so-called 'Internet rumours.' Shocking and disgraceful, of course, but it does make one wonder if something similar is coming to the UK; and, if it does, whether tis will lead to vast chunks of Doctor Who fandom finding their collective asses banged up in stir doing some serious porridge for claiming that Marco Polo has been recovered in Taiwan.

Sherlock has been nominated for a prestigious Golden Nymph award at the Monte Carlo Television Festival. The massively popular BBC drama starring yer actual Benny Cumberbatch and Marty Freeman his very self is up for the Television Films prize at the awards ceremony, which recognises the best TV programmes and actors from around the world. It will be up against the BBC Wales thriller Hinterland, which will be shown on BBC4 from 28 April. It has also been acquired by Netflix in the US. Also up for the award are Austria's Blank, France's The Silence Of The Church, Germany's Take Good Care Of Him and Japan's Battlefield Tokyo. Elsewhere, Modern Family, Mrs Brown's Boys, Episodes and Vicious are up for Best Comedy. House Of Cards, Reign, Wentworth and Downton Abbey have all been nominated in the Best Drama category.
The Big Allotment Challenge began with over two million viewers on Tuesday, according to overnight ratings. BBC2's latest competition series was watched by 2.5m at 8pm, down two hundred thousand from last week's The Great British Sewing Bee finale in the same slot. The channel's Great British Menu cooked up 1.8m at 7.30pm, while new documentary series Watermen: A Dirty Business interested 2.2m at 9pm. Jools Holland's Later ... Live returned with eight hundred and five thousand at 10pm. On BBC1, Shetland ended its current series with 4.1m at 9pm. Have I Got A Bit More News For You pulled in 2.1m at 10.35pm. ITV's River Monsters appealed to 1.8m at 7.30pm. A repeat of Midsomer Murders garnered 2.1m at 8pm. On Channel Four, Embarrassing Bodies returned with 1.3m at 8pm. New Worlds climbed slightly week-on-week to four hundred and eighty eight thousand at 9pm, whilst a Dogging Tales repeat was watched by four hundred and ninety one thousand viewers at 10pm. Channel Five's Nightmare Neighbour Next Door appealed to 1.5m at 8pm, followed by the latest episode of The Mentalist with nine hundred and forty three thousand at 9pm. Law & Order: SVU had an audience of six hundred and sixty five thousand at 10pm. On BBC3, The Call Centre rose by around four hundred thousand viewers week-on-week to 1.2m. Mad Men returned for a seventh series with a meagre twenty eight thousand viewers on Sky Atlantic – nearly half of series six's debut last year.

MasterChef held steady in the overnight ratings on Wednesday. The BBC cooking series stayed at 4.5m at 8pm - for an episode in which the impressive Luke and the perky 'meat lover' Anna qualified for the quarter final and a tortilla ended up on the floor - followed by Monkey Planet with 3.1m at 9pm. On ITV, the risible Big Star's Little Star was watched by 3.9m at 8pm, while Law & Order: UK attracted 4.1m at 9pm. BBC2's Under Offer: Estate Agents On The Job appealed to 1.6m at 8pm, followed by the second episode of Ian Hislop's Olden Days with 1.3m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Secret Eaters interested nine hundred and seventy five thousand punters at 8pm. How To Get A Council House brought in 1.7m at 9pm. The Hunt For The Boston Bombers was seen by seven hundred and seventeen thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Killing Spree attracted seven hundred and fifty seven thousand voyeurs at 8pm, followed by NCIS with nine hundred and fifteen thousand at 9pm and Castle with six hundred and three thousand at 10pm. On E4, new series Party House got off to a poor start, with just eighty seven thousand tuning viewers in at 10pm.
Shetland is to return for a third series on BBC1. BBC Scotland's crime drama has been recommissioned for a new six-part series, following its recently completed second run. Douglas Henshall stars as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez in the series, which is adapted from Ann Cleeves's crime novels based on the Shetland Isles. Christopher Aird, the BBC's head of drama production in Scotland, said: 'Shetland is a really distinctive crime series that has proved hugely popular with audiences both here in Scotland and across the rest of the UK. I am thrilled it has been commissioned for a third outing, and rest assured we have some really exciting plans for viewers from DI Perez and his team.' Producer Elaine Collins of ITV Studios who make the show added: 'I'm delighted that Shetland has been recommissioned and proud to have made a distinctive Scottish show that is enjoyed all over the UK. It's also been a pleasure to work with outstanding actors like Douglas Henshall, Alison O'Donnell and Steven Robertson, who have made Jimmy Perez and his close-knit team a regular fixture in the homes of millions of viewers.' Shetland will begin filming in 2015, while broadcast dates and castings will be confirmed at a later date.

But, as one door opens, another one is closed. The Bletchley Circle has reportedly been cancelled by ITV. The period drama, starring Anna Maxwell-Martin, Rachael Stirling and Julie Graham, was set in the early 1950s and focused on four women who had worked at the wartime code-breaking centre Bletchley Park. The first series was, really rather good and gained enough of an audience to get a recommission. The second, wasn't. Cast members including Julie Graham have retweeted the news of the cancellation and encouraged viewers to 'protest the decision.' And, one imagines some of the eight people who were still watching it by the end may well do so. The second series of the drama was broadcast earlier this year, with the broadcaster describing The Bletchley Circle as 'a wonderful addition to our drama slate' when announcing the new run in May 2013. ITV's Director of Drama Commissioning, Steve November, added at the time: 'We're delighted that it's returning to ITV with two new and exciting stories.'

This week saw another fine episode of Hannibal - Yakimono - which saw one surprise character return and some extremely bloody character death. So, no change there, then.
Alan Titchmarsh claims that he has 'no problem' with Paul O'Grady after O'Grady claimed that Tichmarsh's rottenly banal and disgraceful chat show had 'pinched' its format from his. The Sun reports Titchmarsh as saying: 'I don't bear him any animosity, but I don't know why he got so hot under the collar about it. If you can't say anything nice about someone, don't say anything at all.' Titchmarsh is working on a new ITV show, Best British Gardens, which one assumes won't be nicking anything from O'Grady's For The Love Of Dogs.

The producers of the Channel Four documentary series Benefits Street have confirmed they are working on a follow-up with the working title Immigration Street. Kieran Smith of Love Productions said that the show was in 'the very early stages' and had yet to be commissioned. He added that his company had been 'talking to residents' on Derby Road in Southampton, describing it as 'a place with a long history of an immigrant population.' However, according to the Gruniad Morning Star - who, to be fair, have an agenda smeared an inch thick all over concerning this show - 'programme-makers scouting potential locations for another series of the controversial programme in Stockton-on-Tees, and a separate documentary with a working title Immigration Street in Southampton, have faced opposition from politicians and community leaders.' Benefits Street provoked controversy when it was broadcast earlier this year. The series was accused of negatively portraying benefits claimants in Birmingham's Winson Green area and generated hundreds of complaints. Critics described it as 'poverty porn' and it received eighteen hundred viewers' complaints from viewers. Some residents claimed that they had been misled about the thrust of the programme and that producers deliberately withheld the title from them. Speaking on BBC Radio 5Live on Wednesday, Smith claimed that the new show was 'coming from the same stable as Benefits Street. We thought there was something to do about what happens to immigrants when they arrive in this country who are looking to be part of British society. We thought Derby Road was an interesting area that reflects what happens when immigrants move into an area and change the look of an area,' the executive producer continued. He admitted that he had met community leaders 'who are worried about the impact it might have' and pledged to show Derby Road's residents any programme shot there ahead of transmission. Benefits Street, described by its makers as a 'fair and balanced observational documentary [that] sparked an important debate about the welfare system', was a ratings success for Channel Four. The broadcaster confirmed that Love Productions was researching 'a potential new series looking at life in a community where diverse groups of people live alongside one another. The title and location are not yet confirmed and discussions are ongoing with local people.' Harjap Singh, chairman of Sikh Council Hampshire and Southampton Gurdwara Council, told the Daily Echo: 'We are against it because it would be pretty bad for community relations.' Meanwhile, in Stockton, the Northern Echo reported this week that staff from Love Productions – namely 'two young women, both dressed down in leggings and jumpers but with cut-glass Southern accents' – had been talking to the residents of Dixon Street in Stockton-on-Tees. Women with 'Southern accents'? The utter scum.

Mad Frankie Boyle is reportedly leading a cast of comics in a new sitcom in development. He will be one of the actors at a read-through of the show, Wildlife, about a crew filming a nature documentary in Sweden. Miles Jupp, Isy Suttie, Craig Campbell and Adam Hess will play the other members of the team in the dummy run. Wildlife has been written by Andrew Collins and Simon Day, who previously co-created the 2003 sitcom Grass, about Day's The Fast Show character Billy Bleach moving to the countryside. Producers describe the premise of Wildlife thus: 'As if capturing footage of the rare Eurasian wolf in the forests of Bergslagen, Sweden, isn't difficult enough, they also have to film a "making-of" featurette and refrain from killing each other.' That sounds quite funny, actually and the cast is impressive. It'll be interesting to see if this one develops.

The movie director Bryan Singer has been accused of drugging, manipulating and forcibly sodomising a then-seventeen-year-old boy in a graphic lawsuit which was filed in the US this week. The suit further contends that Singer did these things as part of 'a group of adult males similarly positioned in the entertainment industry that maintained and exploited boys in a sordid sex ring,' according to excerpts from the suit published in The Wrap. Implicated in the charges against Singer - and, allegedly, at the head of the 'sordid sex ring' - is Marc Collins-Rector, founder of the Internet start-up Digital Entertainment Network and a convicted sex offender, who pled guilty in 2004 to luring minors across state lines for the purposes of sex. The lawsuit was filed in Hawaii, where attorneys for the plaintiff claim that some of the alleged events took place at the Oahu estate of the hairdresser Paul Mitchell. They are seeking a jury trial and 'unspecified damages' - for which read 'lots of wonga' - for battery, assault, 'emotional distress' and 'invasion of privacy by unreasonable intrusion.' Singer's accuser, one Michael Egan, was a model and aspiring actor who claims that he first met Collins-Rector in 1998, when Egan attended parties at what was known as The M&C Estate — a mansion which Collins-Rector and his DEN partner Chad Shackley had purchased from the hip-hop mogul Suge Knight. This soon became notorious as a place where a reported 'Who's Who of gay Hollywood' partied. And partied hard. Egan alleges that during one of those parties, he was 'introduced to Singer', who told him that the men he saw there 'controlled Hollywood', and that 'keeping them happy' was the key to Egan fulfilling his career ambitions. Over the years, numerous lawsuits have been filed by others alleging that they were raped or coerced into performing sexual acts on various men of The M&C Estate — lawsuits which eventually led to Collins-Rector and his partners fleeing to Spain in 2002. Upon being extradited back to the US, Collins-Rector pleaded extremely guilty to eight charges of child enticement and was registered as a sex offender. He was also hit with a four and a half million dollar summary judgment in civil court. All of the accusations against him - and many of those who had partied at his house - were well-documented in a 2007 exposé by Radar. Filed nearly a decade after, Egan's own accusations recall those earlier charges, alleging that men threatened the safety of Egan's family, forced him to drink, drugged him without his knowledge and repeatedly sexually assaulted him. It claims that: 'Approximately two to three months after Collins-Rector began sexually abusing Plaintiff, Defendant Singer was socialising with Collins-Rector around the estate's swimming pool and Plaintiff was in the pool. In compliance with the "rules" imposed by Collins-Rector that people in the pool area were not allowed to wear clothes, Plaintiff was nude as was Defendant Singer. Collins-Rector ordered Plaintiff out of the pool and Defendant Singer hugged Plaintiff and grabbed his bare buttocks. They then went to the jacuzzi where Collins-Rector had Plaintiff sit on his lap and fondled Plaintiff's genitals. Collins-Rector then passed Plaintiff to Defendant Singer and Plaintiff was made to sit on Defendant Singer's lap. Defendant Singer provided an alcoholic beverage to Plaintiff and mentioned finding a role for him in an upcoming movie that he was directing. Defendant Singer told Plaintiff how "this group" controls Hollywood, and that he was "sexy." Defendant Singer masturbated Plaintiff and then performed oral sex upon him. Defendant Singer solicited Plaintiff to perform oral sex upon him which Plaintiff resisted. Defendant Singer flagrantly disregarded Plaintiff's unwillingness to submit, and forced Plaintiff's head underwater to make Plaintiff perform oral sex upon him. When Plaintiff pulled his head out of the water in order to breathe, Defendant Singer demanded that he continue which Plaintiff refused. Defendant Singer then forced Plaintiff to continue performing oral sex upon him outside of the pool, and subsequently forcibly sodomised Plaintiff.' As to why Egan would continue to attend these parties or put up with these repeated assaults, the lawsuit alleges that Collins-Rector held a gun against Egan's head and said that he would shoot him if Egan continued to resist sexual contact. Egan claims that he was so intimidated by this threat that he even agreed to fly with Singer to Hawaii where, he alleges, the director 'kept him in line' by alternating between threats to 'report [his] refusals' to Collins-Rector and making Egan promises to land him roles in an unspecified 'X-Men movie,' as well as various other productions. Egan further claims that Singer forced 'a handful of cocaine' into his face, drugged his drink with something that impaired his motor skills, then anally raped him. Twice. 'During the first of the above-referenced trips to Hawaii, Plaintiff was instructed that he would spend the first two nights in a room with Defendant Singer. During the first night, Plaintiff took a long walk by himself. When he returned to the Paul Mitchell estate, he came across Defendant Singer who was in the pool area. Defendant Singer verbally and loudly confronted Plaintiff for not having been available for him earlier and demanded that he undress,' the suit alleges. 'Defendant Singer frightened Plaintiff by pushing him into the pool and rebuked Plaintiff for his attitude and reminded him that he was there to "keep people happy." Defendant Singer put a handful of cocaine against Plaintiff's nose and forced him to inhale it. Defendant Singer then provided Plaintiff with a beverage which he drank which significantly impacted his consciousness and his motor skills. Defendant Singer then entered the pool where he non-consensually masturbated Plaintiff and performed oral sex upon him. Defendant Singer caused Plaintiff to rub his erect penis against Defendant Singer's buttocks. He forced Plaintiff's head underwater and made Plaintiff orally copulate him. He then caused Plaintiff to get out of the pool and lie face down on a lounge chair. To continue the sexual assault, Defendant Singer spit [sic] on Plaintiff's buttocks, spanked him and forced a handful of cocaine onto Plaintiff's face. He then anally raped Plaintiff. He subsequently caused them to go to the jacuzzi where he provided another beverage to Plaintiff. Defendant Singer attempted to insert his penis into Plaintiff's mouth which Plaintiff resisted, but he ultimately was able to force his penis into Plaintiff's mouth. Defendant Singer then assisted Plaintiff to their room where he again anally raped Plaintiff.' According to Singer's attorneys, the timing of the lawsuit—filed - just weeks before the release of X-Men: Days Of Future Past — is 'far from a coincidence.' Dismissing the case as 'absurd and defamatory' in a statement Singer's attorney, Martin Singer, said: 'It is obvious that this case was filed in an attempt to get publicity at the time when Bryan's new movie is about to open in a few weeks.' Certainly contributing to that publicity, the suit was announced in a press release which was sent out by a phalanx of attorneys led by Jeff Herman, identified in the announcement as 'a nationally-recognised attorney for victims of sexual abuse.' Herman previously represented the five men who accused the puppeteer Kevin Clash of similar charges of sexual assault. In his statement, Herman declared: 'Hollywood has a problem with the sexual exploitation of children', and called these accusations against Singer just 'the first of many cases' which he intends to bring against others involved in the entertainment industry's 'sordid sex ring.' While most of the charges against Clash were eventually dismissed, whether due to the statute of limitations or dropped voluntarily, the scandal surrounding them was enough to force Clash to resign from Sesame Street. And while Singer managed to overcome a similar 1997 lawsuit alleging that he had forced teenage boys to strip naked for a scene in Apt Pupil, no matter what comes of these new charges, the graphic nature of them certainly seems designed to shock at a time when Singer has not only the future of the X-Men franchise in his hands, but plenty of other high-profile projects in the works, including Vince Gilligan’s Battle Creek for CBS. Singer, forty eight, has directed three instalments in the lucrative X-Men franchise, beginning with the first X-Men film in 2000. His other credits include The Usual Suspects, Superman Returns and last year's Jack the Giant Slayer.

Yer actual Sir Tom Jones, Michael Sheen and Katherine Jenkins are among the Welsh talent that will take part in a one-off performance of Under Milk Wood. BBC Wales is putting on a production of the famous 'play for voices' from playwright Dylan Thomas, to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the first BBC radio broadcast of the play in 1954. There's lovely. It also marks one hundred years since the birth of Thomas, isn't it? BBC1 Wales will broadcast the performance in early May, while the rest of the UK will be able to access it via BBC iPlayer. Matthew Rhys, Griff Rhys Jones, Aneurin Barnard, Ioan Gruffudd, Charlotte Church and Eve Myles are also part of the cast as are Tom Ellis, Iwan Rheon, Kimberley Nixon and Aimee-Ffion Edwards. That's just about every actor in Wales, by the look of it. Katherine Jenkins said: 'It was wonderful to be involved in a project celebrating such a great Welshman. It's also been such a joy to collaborate with so many other welsh artists whom I respect and admire. I hope the results are a fitting tribute.' Meanwhile, Executive Producer Bethan Jones said: 'It's been an enormous privilege to work with such an extraordinary ensemble of Welsh talent for this unique presentation of Dylan Thomas' play, and an amazing experience to witness how this familiar text feels fresh and alive when read with truth and simplicity by this wonderful cast. It's almost as though this material is part of everyone's DNA. Our starting point was Dylan's only note to the original cast before the very first performance in New York shortly after he completed the play - "Love the words"'. Under Milk Wood was written over a ten year period in Laugharne and in New York, where it had its first performance in 1953.

Wor geet canny Ross Noble is to make a second series of his Freewheeling show for Dave. Ross will be taking his motorbike on the road from June, again taking his cues for where to go and what to do from his four hundred and thirty thousand Twitter followers. The comedian broke the news, appropriately enough, on Twitter. 'I can confirm I will be hitting the road in June for Freewheeling 2 for Dave. The adventure continues. What the show is is up to you,' he wrote. 'For those asking where I will be filming the new Freewheeling. I have no idea there is no pre-planning. Tweet me and you may end up in the show.' The first series aired on Dave last autumn, averaging a consolidated audience of three hundred and twenty thousand viewers over its six hour-long episodes. Earlier this year it was reported that the format was on the brink of being sold to America's TBS network, who were looking for a high-profile comic to sign for the trip. However, no further developments have been announced since.

Discovery Communications has withdrawn its bid for Richard Desmond's Channel Five, which is thought to leave MTV owner Viacom as one of the few remaining potential buyers according to the Gruniad Morning Star. This comes just a day after the same alleged newspaper claimed that billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch was 'believed to be involved in leading bid for Channel Five.' Or not. Time will tell, dear blog reader. It usually does.

Takeaway owners are to face a new testing programme, after a watchdog found nearly a third of lamb takeaways it checked contained a different meat. The Foods Standards Agency found that forty three out of one hundred and forty five samples of lamb takeaways - usually curries or kebabs - were 'wrongly described.' The FSA said twenty five of the samples were found to contain only beef, which is cheaper than lamb. Chicken and turkey were also found, but no samples contained horsemeat. As a priority, local authorities are now being asked to test 300 samples of lamb from takeaways, starting at the beginning of May. Takeaway owners are also being warned that they can be fined up to five grand for mislabelling food. 'Prosecutions have taken place against business owners for mislabelling lamb dishes, but the recurring nature of the problem shows there needs to be a renewed effort to tackle this problem,' said Andrew Rhodes, chief operating officer at the FSA. 'Clearly the message isn't getting through to some businesses,' he added. The consumer organisation Which? found an even higher instance of contamination, after a series of tests in London and Birmingham. It found forty per cent of lamb takeaways contained other types of meat, with some containing no lamb at all. Of thirty samples tested in Birmingham, sixteen contained 'other meats.' In a similar experiment in London, meat in eight of the samples was not pure lamb. As part of its campaign to 'Stop Food Fraud', Which? is now calling on the government to 'take further action' to restore customer confidence in the origins of meat. 'The government, local authorities and the FSA need to make tackling food fraud a priority and take tougher action to crack down on the offenders,' said Richard Lloyd, the executive director of Which? The organisation also wants the government to implement some of the recommendations in The Elliott Review, which followed last year's horsemeat scandal. In the UK, seventeen different beef products were found to contain traces of horsemeat, while supermarkets including Tesco and Asda were forced to withdraw products. Among Professor Elliott's forty eight interim recommendations, he suggested setting up a food crime unit, to police food standards better. Earlier this week, the FSA also announced 'a new round of testing' on beef products, to check for horsemeat. The tests have been ordered by the European Commission following last year's scandal.

This blogger his very self rather enjoys a nice lamb curry every now and again, dear blog reader. Though, admittedly, he prefers a tasty marmalade sandwich.
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The Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Andy Coulson has revealed for the first time that he did listen to private voicemail messages relating to former Home Secretary David Blunkett. The ex-Scum of the World editor claimed that when he did so, in August 2004, it was 'the first and the only time voicemail messages were played to me.' He told the hacking trial 'it was clear' that the material ;was the product of an illegal act.' Coulson denies the charges against him. He is accused of conspiracy to hack phones and conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. Coulson, who became Downing Street director of communications after leaving the Scum of the World, was testifying in his own defence at the Old Bailey for a third day. On Tuesday, Coulson told the trial he was 'not aware' in 2004 that phone hacking was illegal. However, he said he still claimed that he was 'shocked' and 'angry' when the senior reporter Neville Thurlbeck first told him that Thurlbeck had heard voicemails showing Blunkett was having an affair with Kimberly Quinn, a former publisher of The Spectator magazine. 'I know I was quite angry about it and I used some reasonably colourful language and said to him words to the effect of, "What an earth do you think you are doing?"' Coulson claimed. He added that he viewed the then-Home Secretary as 'a friend of the paper' and the intrusion into his voicemails was 'a breach of privacy.' Coulson then claims that he ordered any 'investigation' into the MP to stop. However, he said that the reporter pitched the story again later and played him extracts from the messages. Coulson claimed that Thurlbeck argued the story was 'in the public interest' because it showed Blunkett was 'distracted' from the job of Home Secretary and had 'mentioned sensitive details' in the messages, which could be 'a security issue.' Asked if he challenged Thurlbeck about where the recordings had come from, Coulson replied: 'I made an assumption that Neville had done this himself. It was all coming from Neville.' Coulson claimed that he later began to 'take the view' that the story should be pursued and decided he would confront Blunkett directly with the allegation. Coulson said that he had 'initially' planned to tell the minister about the voicemail recordings, but then changed his mind. This, he said, was 'a mistake' and even though doing so could have resulted in legal action, it 'would have brought the whole thing to a head.' The jury was then played a recording of a phone call in which Coulson confronted Blunkett about the affair and heard the minister repeatedly asking what evidence he had. In reply, Coulson said that he had 'extremely reliable sources', but he did not mention the intercepted messages. Thurlbeck has already extremely admitted to being involved in phone-hacking. It is part of the agreed facts in the case - not disputed by either side - that recordings of voicemails involving Blunkett were found in a safe at the newspaper's offices. The Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Coulson also said that he thought the idea that Milly Dowler had left home and gone to work in a factory in Telford in 2002 was 'nonsense.' The former Scum of the World editor claimed that he had 'no idea' that his news team had dispatched a team to the Midlands to investigate the lead or that the tip had, in fact, come from a hacked voicemail on the thirteen-year-old's phone. Coulson suggested that he 'remembers' the newspaper's belief at the time was, 'sadly', that the most likely scenario was that Milly was dead. In an intense two hours of questioning about the Dowler story, Coulson also testified that he did not have 'any conversation' with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks about the article which was printed in the paper on 14 April 2002 mentioning a voicemail. He also claimed that he 'did not know' at the time that hacking was a crime and if he had known that any of his staff were 'involved in the unlawful activity' he would have viewed it as 'intrusive and lazy journalism.' Which is, pretty much, a perfect description of everything printed in the Scum of The World, frankly. Whilst in the witness box for the second day, Coulson had told the jurors that he remembered 'someone' at the time suggesting that Milly, who had vanished the previous month, was 'going to take a job in a factory. That's what I remember. It may have come out in conference. It might have been said to me and I'm very clear about my memory of it. I thought it was nonsense,' Coulson said. 'Why?' asked his defence counsel Timothy Langdale QC. 'Because Milly Dowler was a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl and she was a thirteen-year-old who, for all the wrong reasons, had been pictured across all the national newspapers. The family had released video footage of her which was very moving and used widely by probably every news broadcaster in the country. The idea that she could move North and then take a job in a factory just seemed ludicrous.' And yet, the Scum of the World still printed the story. The jury has previously heard that Milly's phone was hacked on 12 April 2002 and the tabloid reported two days later 'a new twist' in the search for the missing schoolgirl 'after messages had been sent to her mobile phone after she vanished.' It has also heard that the tabloid sent at least eight reporters and photographers to an Epson ink-cartridge factory hoping to 'land a scoop.' Coulson claimed that he 'did not remember' reading the story at the time but reading it now, he said that the reference to 'messages' did not, necessarily, infer hacking. 'I do not think it is clear. I think I might have concluded that it may have come from sources, possibly even police sources,' he claimed. 'The first thing is I do not remember the story,' he said explaining to jurors that he 'might' have 'thought police were involved' in the story because there was no 'exclusive' or 'News of the World investigates' logo on the story. That suggested to Coulsom that the story 'may' have been 'a tip' that had been passed to several Sunday papers. Except, of course, that it wasn't. He said if he had been told that one of his staff had hacked the phone his 'instinct' would have been that it was wrong. 'If you had been made aware that somebody at the instigation of the News of the World was accessing voicemail on Milly Dowler's phone, what would your reaction have been?' asked Langdale. Coulson replied: 'My instinctive concern was that this was interference with a police investigation.' He told the jury that he was 'not aware' of hacking generally and also 'not aware' that Milly's phone was hacked or that the Scum of the World team was dispatched to 'chase the story down.' Asked if he would have been told about a team being sent to Telford, he replied: 'Not necessarily, that's the news editor's job.' Thurlbeck, the paper's former chief reporter who has already pleaded extremely guilty to hacking, was the news editor on the day in question, Coulson said. The Scum of the World hastily dumped its first edition account of the voice message just hours after it had appeared and, in the third edition, reported that the police believed the job offer message was the work of 'a sick hoaxer' who had also contacted BBC's Crimewatch. The story was also moved from page nine to page thirty, replacing what Coulson described as 'a glamorous story' featuring a picture of scantily glad Star Trek: Voyager actor Jolene Blalock in a bikini. Coulson repeated that he had 'not read' the article and believed that he would not have thought a story about a hoax merited a prominent slot. 'Hoaxes are not really stories by their nature and this is a hoax wrapped in a riddle. I don't think I rated this story,' he added. 'I think I moved this story looking back at this distance, for cosmetic reasons', he claimed, adding that he didn't generally want 'all the serious content squeezed together, you want to space it out.' The jury was told that the Star Trek picture story on page thirty in the first edition was moved to page eleven, two pages after the Dowler story was placed. The page eleven story was a 'serious' story headlined SBS kill One Hundred Al-Qaida and that moved to page nine replacing the Dowler story in the third edition. It was the first time the jury was given Coulson's version of events about the Milly Dowler story which is central to the crown's case against both him and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks. He was the Scum of the World's deputy editor at the time of the story but was on editing duty because well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was on holiday in Dubai. The jury have heard that she made calls to the office whilst on holiday including one which lasted thirty eight minutes. Coulson denied having any conversation with her about the Milly Dowler story. Coulson told jurors that he also 'did not recall' having a conversation with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks about the story when she returned from holiday the following week. Asking to make a point for clarification, he added: 'I think it's possible I would have avoided a conversation about Milly Dowler because I had made a mistake in the paper; in relation to the mix [of serious and glamorous content] in the paper. I wouldn't have liked to highlight that I got the mix wrong in the first edition.' The prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Coulson and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks both deny conspiring to hack phones. Coulson also denied that an e-mail he sent instructing one of his staff to 'do his phone' was in any way linked to phone-hacking. He told the jury that the e-mail was 'an instruction to get the phone billing data' of a journalist on the paper who senior staff suspected was leaking stories to rivals. He claimed that he authorised the bills to be pulled of Rav Singh, a showbusiness columnist, who was suspected of leaking stories to Calum Best. Coulson said there was 'no evidence' that this had happened but he was frustrated that this e-mail which, he felt, supported his case didn't get disclosed to his defence team until the day Best gave evidence in November. 'I was in no doubt that this was not an instruction to anybody to hack anyone's telephone,' Coulson claimed. 'I remember what this was because it was Rav, he was a friend of mine. I remember requesting authorisation of billing data for Rav. I'm very clear about that and it has been frustrating, if I may say, that this e-mail, that I would argue supports that, took so long to emerge.' Coulson is the last of seven defendants, who deny all the charges against them, to give evidence. The trial extremely continues.
Former Radio 1 DJ and self-styled 'Hairy Cornflake' Dave Lee Travis has been charged with one count of indecent assault under Operation Yewtree. The sixty eight-year-old is alleged to have assaulted a woman, who was over the age of sixteen, in January 1995. According to the Daily Mirra 'the new charge is understood to relate to an alleged assault on a young woman when Travis appeared on The Mrs Merton Show on the BBC.' The Crown Prosecution Service said last month that it had authorised police to charge Travis with the alleged offence. The fresh charge comes after Travis was cleared of twelve counts of indecent assault in February. He still faces a retrial on two outstanding charges, the jury at Southwark Crown Court having been unable to reach verdicts on charges of indecent and sexual assault. These relate to an allegation of indecent assault against a woman in the early 1990s whilst Travis was appearing in pantomime with The Chuckle Brothers along with an alleged sexual assault on a journalist in 2008. When the CPS announced on 28 March that Travis would face a further charge, he said: 'It's been a bit of a nightmare. And the only thing I want to say is this: The nightmare is continuing.' Scotland Yard said that Travis, from Buckinghamshire, was due to appear on bail at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 24 April.

The late Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith - who did eat all the pies - was part of 'a high-level paedophile ring' operating at Westminster in the 1970s, a Labour MP has claimed. Simon Danczuk alleges in a new book that Sir Cyril 'used his influence' to escape prosecution for sexually abusing boys and other filthy wrongdoings. Danczuk told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the MP was part of 'an informal network' of vile and sick sex abusers. And he claimed that police were 'pressured by the authorities' to drop investigations into Smith and his sordid and nefarious activities. 'Had he been prosecuted, then the house of cards would have fallen, in terms of that paedophile network, and it could have brought the government down,' the Labour MP told Today. Danczuk also claimed that child abuse allegations against Sir Cyril were 'widely known' at the time and were even raised in public, at a Liberal party conference. Sir Cyril's family have said that they are 'saddened' by Danczuk's allegations 'made so long after Sir Cyril Smith's death and at a time he is no longer able to defend himself.' Dear blog readers may recalled that members of the late dirty old scallywag and filthy rotten rotter Jimmy Savile's family said something very similar when sexual abuse allegations were first raised against him in September 2012. As, indeed, did the convicted kiddie-fiddler Stuart Hall. They soon went very quiet on the matter. 'Sir Cyril always denied accusations made against him while he was living,' added the statement, issued when extracts from Danczuk's book were serialised in the Daily Scum Mail. Danczuk, MP for Sir Cyril's former constituency Rochdale, alleges that police received 'at least' one hundred and forty four complaints about the late Liberal MP but MI5 and Special Branch 'put pressure' on police officers to drop investigations into the alleged abuse. 'When he was initially arrested, he used the local power that he had, in the Sixties, to be able to convince people that he shouldn't be prosecuted,' Danczuk told the Today programme. 'But once he became a member of Parliament, in 1972, I think he joined an, obviously informal, network of paedophiles that existed in and around Westminster.' Asked how he could make that claimed with any certainty, Danczuk said that Sir Cyril had been 'identified' as attending Elm Guest House in South-West London, adding: '[This is] where it is alleged other significant paedophiles attended.' In 2012, the Metropolitan Police launched an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by politicians in the late 1970s and 1980s, after the Labour MP Tommy Watson (power to the people!) raised concerns in the House of Commons about 'a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10.' The investigation, Operation Fernbridge, is centred on the former Elm Guest House in Barnes, the scene of alleged parties involving MPs and other members of the establishment. The Metropolitan Police has confirmed that Sir Cyril was among those who visited the premises. The Crown Prosecution Service has said that he should have been prosecuted for 1960s abuse in Rochdale. Sir Cyril died in 2010 aged eighty two. It was alleged that he raped boys at the Knowl View residential school and abused boys at Cambridge House Children's Home, a privately run care home in Rochdale which closed in 1965. He had a long association with Knowl View, where he was on the management board when he was a councillor.

Cardiff's 3-0 defeat by Crystal Palace in early April should not be allowed to stand, the Welsh club has reportedly whinged in a five-page letter which has been 'seen by the BBC.' The document, sent by club lawyers to the Premier League, alleges that Palace boss Tony Pulis knew sporting director Iain Moody was trying to obtain Cardiff's starting line-up before the game. The club claims that it 'has proof' Moody succeeded and alleges that this 'breaches league rules.' Pulis declined to comment when contacted by the BBC, although Palace previously denied the claims. The Premier League has confirmed that it will investigate the claims. Cardiff states that clubs should 'act in good faith' to one another and 'calls into serious question' the integrity of the match.

A video of a mysterious black ring in the sky over Leamington Spa has reportedly left people scratching their heads, and prompted 'a wave of speculation.' Alleged 'UFO expert' Nick Pope - regularly seen spouting all manner of crap on various Discovery Channel programmes about 'alien mysteries' described the video as 'truly bizarre' and ruled out it being a smoke ring. He added: 'One other possibility is that the shape is made up of millions of bees or other insects, but I've never heard of insects behaving in this way before, so if this is the explanation, it's a real-life X-File.' The ring was reportedly captured by a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl, Georgina Heap, with her smartphone as she returned home from playing tennis with her mother. The ring - which appeared to be close to Warwick Castle - remained in the sky for around three minutes before vanishing, it has been reported. Several different theories were put forward in the media as to what the ring could be. Some speculated as to whether it would be possible to fake the video. 'In theory you can fake most things' Iain McArthur an expert at Audio Video Forensics told the BBC News website. 'For instance, the footage wobbles, you can fake this handheld look. But other elements seem to ring true,' he added. 'There's a "blob" on the top right and top left of the ring, suggesting movement - something organic.' It is not clear how far away the ring is from the smartphone and the video footage is blurred at the sides. 'The blurring element is different from any UFO footage I've seen,' McArthur added. Others thought the ring might have been a strange weather phenomenon, but that seems unlikely according to the Met Office. 'There's no meteorological reason why it's happened. And there was nothing unusual happening in Leamington Spa that day, we've checked,' said a - very efficient sounding - Met Office spokeswoman. The shape is said to have remained in the sky for three minutes and it is very rare for a cloud circle 'that perfect' to remain stationary without being blown away. Could it have been a swarm of insects? The Hufington Post went with that explanation. Some insects do gather in groups like this at certain times of year, according to Frederic Tripet, an entomologist at Keele University. The fuzziness of the black outline 'almost' looks like insects leaving and joining the circle. One of the images has a very faint line curving up from below which might be seen as insects arriving and departing in the formation. Another image has what looks like a fly in the foreground. 'When the winter is mild you can expect population explosions of some insects. They may be mating in that aggregation,' Tripet said. 'Usually mating is not done as high [or] in ring formation.' If not insects, then could it have been birds? A strange black cloud was captured over Leamington last year. It turned out to be a flock of starlings. Birds are known to fly in tight formations, such as a V-shape, so could this ring also have been starlings? The answer to that seems to be no as well, according to Richard James, wildlife adviser at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. 'Starlings and waders can form fluid shapes. But they won't form a shape like this. You sometimes get a small number of buzzards circling around a thermal but it wouldn't resemble the Leamington ring. They would not be as close together. They're likely to be individually visible rather than an amorphous black mass. It's certainly not birds,' he concluded. The eventual answer came in the middle of Tuesday afternoon when a statement from Warwick Castle confirmed that they had been 'testing fireworks.' A Warwick Castle spokesman said that they had been trying out 'fire effects' to go with the daily firing of the Trebuchet Fireball - a giant catapult. 'We've seen a number of different effects, including the vortex images that have been reported,' the spokesman said. 'As yet we don't know what causes the phenomenon but it's certainly a spooky spectacle.'

The BBC News presenter George Alagiah has been diagnosed with bowel cancer. George will take a break from his duties whilst he undergoes treatment. A statement from the BBC said: 'He is grateful for all the good wishes he has received thus far and is optimistic for a positive outcome.' It added: 'George asks that he and his family are given the space and privacy they require whilst he recovers.' The BBC said that the news programmes would be presented by 'familiar faces until such time as George is well enough to return to work.' The statement continued: 'Our thoughts are with him and his family and we send them our very best wishes during this time.' George first joined the BBC in 1989 and spent many years as one of the BBC's leading foreign correspondents before moving to presenting, reporting on events such as the genocide in Rwanda and the conflict in Kosovo. He was made an OBE in 2008's New Year Honours. As someone whose family has been inflicted with the horrors of cancer on several occasions in the past, this blogger, of course, sends his most sincere best wishes for a speedy recovery to George and his family.

If yer actual Paul Weller wasn't already one of Keith Telly Topping's greatest heroes already, then he would be this week having won ten thousand smackers in damages after pictures of his children were 'plastered' on the Daily Scum Mail website. The High Court in London ordered Associated Newspapers to pay the sum after The Goddamn Modfather his very self and his family complained. Seven paparazzi photos were published in October 2012 under the headline A family day out: Paul Weller takes wife Hannah and his twin sons out for a spot of shopping in the hot LA sun. As this blogger mentioned recently, Paul spends quite a bit of his time in LA these days - yer actual Keith Telly Topping even shared a plane to LAX with him and his family (and other people, obviously) in February. The couple said that the photos were 'plainly voyeuristic.' They extremely sued Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Daily Scum Mail, the Scum Mail on Sunday and the Metro, for 'misuse of private information' on behalf of Pail's daughter, Dylan, who was sixteen when the pictures appeared online and twin sons John-Paul and Bowie, who were ten months old. The former frontman of The Jam and The Style Council was not at London's High Court to hear the ruling by Mr Justice Dingemans. A paparazzo had reportedly followed the family on a shopping trip in Santa Monica and took photographs without their consent despite being asked to stop. Associated Newspapers argued the images, in which the children's faces were not pixellated, were 'entirely innocuous and inoffensive' and the Wellers had previously chosen to open up their private family life to public gaze 'to a significant degree.' The judge did not agree and he told them so. David Sherborne, the family's lawyer, said that Hannah Weller had not been in the public eye before her marriage to Paul and had 'taken active steps' to prevent her children's faces from being seen in the media. Photos taken in the street, and not in circumstances such as premieres or for promotion, were 'a blatant impediment to the natural social progress of children', he said.

Music at a UB40 concert was so loud that it was 'altering heart rhythms' and caused a fan's ear to bleed, it has been claimed. Anna Webster said that she left Monday's gig in Cambridge along with up to thirty other people because of the noise. A spokesman for the band said that they were 'sorry that Anna's night was spoiled.' He said that no-one had told the band's crew on the night that the music was too loud and that Webster has been offered free tickets to another gig as an apology. Webster claimed that she left the concert, at the Corn Exchange, before the reggae veterans had finished the first song, in a rub-a-dub style(e). 'It was just horrendously loud - the bass was vibrating even in the foyer,' she said. 'There were so many people walking out because they couldn't deal with it. It was vibrating through your whole body - it was actually altering heart rhythms.' Webster, from Willingham in Cambridgeshire, said that the noise caused her ear - which already had a perforated drum due to a condition from childhood - to bleed. Angela Paffett, from Alconbury, who was also at the gig, said: 'The bass crashed into you like a steam train. I had a pain in my chest.' Stella Jackson, from Arsley in Bedfordshire, also left early. She said that the gig was 'a waste of money' and 'gave her a headache.' A UB40 spokesman said that he had spoken to Webster after being contacted by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and apologised to her if her evening was 'spoiled.' He said that she was 'happy' with the offer of VIP tickets to a gig in Wolverhampton and added that he believed 'the vast majority of people were not affected', noting that the band's sound engineer had been informed about the complaints. A Cambridge Corn Exchange spokesman said that the venue 'always' worked within 'strict health and safety guidelines' and ear plugs were made available for people on the night. He said the responsibility for the concert's sound levels lay with promoter DHP Concerts. DHP Concerts said that sound levels were the responsibility of the band's crew.

So, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day here's something extremely appropriate. An' ting.