Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Chocolate's Only There To Keep It The Right Length

BBC1 has been named the channel of the year at the Edinburgh TV Awards, with its acclaimed Sarah Lancashire drama Happy Valley a double winner. Happy Valley, written by Sally Wainwright, was named programme of the year with its maker, Red Production Company, named the production company of the year at the awards presented by Mad Frankie Boyle on Thursday. One imagines Mad Frankie had something witty and not-at-all cynical to say about that. The BBC's main channel - in what could be seen if one was looking for examples of subtext-rapidly-becoming-the-text to be a jolly hard and very satisfying slap in the mush for the lack of culture secretary and his sick agenda-soaked anti-BBC doings by the television industry as a whole - was rewarded for a line-up of shows that included The Missing, The Great British Bake Off, Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who, Sherlock and its football World Cup coverage. Red also made dramas including another BBC1 series written by Wainwright, Last Tango In Halifax, and Channel Four's Russell Davies series Cucumber. The online innovation award went to Reverse The Odds, a free mobile game that was part of Channel Four's Stand Up To Cancer strand. A second series of Happy Valley was announced on Saturday with some new cast members, including former Coronation Street actresses Julie Hesmondhalgh and Katherine Kelly.

Andrew Scott 'absolutely loves' the fact that fans of Sherlock have 'an all-consuming passion' for the popular BBC dramas. Speaking to Red, Scott said that he has 'nothing but love' for Sherlock's dedicated and extremely enthusiastic fanbase. Even the madder ones. 'There's this assumption about fans that they're nuts,' he said. Yes, well, to be fair, some of them, you know, are. 'But they're people that are really passionate, and I like that,' he explained. 'Everyone has that when they're young and as we get older that passion – that real, all-consuming passion – gets knocked out of you and you become cynical.' Yeah. Tell me about it, mate. Having already captured the hearts of one massive fanbase, Scott is now turning his attention to the James Bond franchise with a key role in the forthcoming Spectre. Scott described his character, Max Denbigh, as a major player in Spectre's world of intrigue and betrayal. 'I play the head of an organisation called the Centre for National Security,' he revealed. 'It's about ethics and how the new world of surveillance compares with the old world of surveillance and the tension between them.' Scott added on joining the Bond series: 'I was at home when I got the call and rang my parents right away. They were delighted. I've done a lot of experimental theatre… everybody has at least heard about Bond. Although my mum does like a bit of experimental theatre.'

As the premiere of the Doctor Who series nine opener, The Magician's Apprentice, rapidly approaches, here is a useful little round-up of the channels which have currently announced their plans to show the episode: In the UK, of course, the episode will be broadcast on BBc1 on Saturday 19 September. Unlike previous years, the scheduled date was announced some way in advance, though the actual time of broadcast has still yet to be confirmed - it is expected that the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama will occupy the time-slot either immediately before or immediately after Strictly Come Dancing. The BBC Media Centre publish their details of programmes to transmitted around ten days in advance of the due date. So, expect a confirmation of the time to be announced later this week. In the USA, the episode will be shown on BBC America on 19 September at 9:00pm EST. As usual, BBC America was the first channel to announce a broadcast time and the episode will be shown in the series 'traditional' prime-time slot on Saturday evenings. In Canada, set your tuner to the SPACE channel, also on 19 September at 9:00pm EST. The Canadian channel has confirmed this week that they too will broadcast the premiere at the same time as the United States. Doctor Who's strong and loyal Australian fanbase can catch the episode on ABC on Sunday 20 September. Trailers have been broadcasting on ABC to confirm that, as in previous years, the episode will be broadcast within twenty four hours of Britain (and, will also available on their iView platform) - there has been no confirmation as yet whether the channel will also simulcast the episode in the early hours of the morning as they have done previously. ABC's Media Room should have details for that week available next Tuesday. In another of Doctor Who's long-time hotbeds, New Zealand, The Magician's Apprentice can be seen on PRIME. They have yet to reveal when they are likely to be showing the episode, though they have confirmed it will be 'in September.' In Finland, set your timers for YLE2 on Monday 28 September and 6:00pm. The Finnish channel have confirmed that they will be showing the series on Monday evenings (and that these will be broadcast in English). The actual time may change from 6:00pm, depending upon other programming. In South Africa, you'll need to have access to BBC First from Saturday 24 October at 6:00pm. Doctor Who will be one of the flagship programmes on the new BBC Worldwide channel BBC First in South Africa, which launches on the 18 October. The series has been confirmed for Saturday evenings. Germany's have announced that, unlike in previous years, they would not be showing Doctor Who until December. Last year there were 'unforeseen problems' over arrangements with BBC Worldwide causing the German dub to be unavailable for broadcast, leading to the channel broadcasting a subtitled English version, with the German dubbed version following after the series had ended - this time around the premiere on the channel will be the German version. And, finally. the Indian broadcaster FX has announced that they plan to show the new series, but have yet to confirm the date when it will start. FX recently took up the mantle for broadcasting Doctor Who in India, where the show hadn't been seen since BBC Worldwide ceased broadcasting there in 2012.

The Radio Times' Paul Kirley has written a fascinating piece Twenty One Things About Twenty First-Century Doctor Who That Old School Fans Could Never Have Imagined which is well worth a few moments of your time, dear blog reader. Even if Paul does use that hateful, horrifying word 'Whovian' on at least one occasion. Listen, mate, no one - and I mean no one - with some much as an ounce of self-respect or dignity (admittedly, neither of which are things you'll often find in any TV fandom's lexicon) actually uses it. But, that apart, the article's great. This blogger particularly enjoyed numbers three, four, nine, eleven, fourteen and twenty one. Check it out.
The Bridge is returning to BBC4 this autumn. The final episode of the show's acclaimed second series brought in 1.5m viewers on the channel and this week the BBC have announced that the third series will begin later this year. The news was announced in a BBC Blog. The post also revealed some details of the plot. It read: 'When Helle Anker, the founder of the first gender-neutral kindergarten in Copenhagen and a high-profile debater on gender issues, is found murdered in Sweden, the Danish and Swedish police are compelled to join forces once more for a third series of The Bridge. The brutal killing turns out to be only the first in a series of gruesome crimes, strung together in a case which involves Saga Norén of the Malmo Police personally and which will change her forever. A powerful, intriguing and unpredictable tale of crime, played out by fascinating and complex characters, the new season will revolve around the concept and structures of family – new, old, deviant, classical, constructive and destructive.' It was previously revealed that the popular Kim Bodnia will not appear in the third series of the Scandinavian drama, amid reports that he disagreed with the show's writers over the direction of his character.
BBC2's controller Kim Shillinglaw said that she is 'excited and terrified' by the prospect of bringing back Top Gear with its new presenter Chris Evans. Which, indeed, she should be - because, if it goes tits-up, she's going to be, effectively, the woman that killed the golden goose. So, you know, no pressure there. Shillinglaw said the new incarnation of the BBC's most valuable commercial product would retain many aspects of the previous series when it was presented by Jezza Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. But she said it would also be 'really different', with a new, supersized Top Gear track at Dunsfold in Surrey, home of the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment, which is expected to be one of the changes. She said that Clarkson's departure was a 'very sad episode' and a reminder of human frailties. 'So excited, of course terrified,' Shillinglaw said of bringing back Top Gear, which generates between fifty and one hundred million smackers a year for the corporation's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. 'I really can't think of a person that better combines two things that are really central to Top Gear, no matter what era it's in,' she said of Evans. 'One is an absolute passion for cars – that's so important to Top Gear, it isn't just an entertainment programme, it is actually about something and without that you haven't got a show – but also incredibly spontaneous, incredibly surprising, that really remarkable quality a handful of presenters have, which is you don't quite know what is going to happen next. It's going to be different – there will be continuity – but it will be really different. You will see Dunsfold looking quite interesting, the presenter line-up is going to be a bit different. There will be some changes to the show. It's scary but it's really exciting.' Asked about Clarkson's departure, Shillinglaw said at the Edinburgh International Television Festival on Friday: 'It was a very sad episode in lots of ways. For me, the biggest reminder is for all this is telly, for all this is business, a competitive industry, at the end of the day it's about human beings. It was just a very, very human situation. I will always be fond of Jeremy and James and Richard. [I have] great respect for their craft skills. It was just sad the way in which very human frailties, that you have to be respectful of and understanding of, became part of the story. But you get to a point where, everybody knows what happened, it wasn't something that at the BBC was acceptable. I don't think any organisation would have found it acceptable. For me, the biggest story is that sometimes human beings are bigger than the imperatives of telly.'

Celebrity Big Brother provided Channel Five with a minor ratings boost on Thursday night, though its overnight numbers were down by almost a million sad, crushed victims of society in comparison to the previous series' launch in January. The arrival of twelve new z-list-or-less alleged 'celebrities' (whose number includes a 'porn star', two X Factor rejects, someone called Fatman Scoop, one of Atomic Kitten that wasn't Kerry Katona and ... Gail Porter) brought in 2.15m between 9pm and 11pm. Why? Why, for the love of God, why? BBC1's Big Blue Live continued with 3.25m at 8pm, before Derek Jacobi's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? interested 3.77m at 9pm and Parking Mad gathered 2.14m at 10.45pm. BBC2's Building The Ancient City was seen by 1.30m at 8pm, while The World's Busiest Railway 2015 continued with 1.56m at 9pm. On ITV, z-list 'celebrity' shepherding fiasco Flockstars saw its audience fall yet again, to 1.77m at 8.30pm and Stephen Fry In Central America averaged 1.87m at 9pm. Channel Four's Location, Location, Location was watched by 1.68m at 8pm, before The Other Prince William had an audience of 1.35m at 9pm.

Over a million viewers with nothing better to do with their time, seemingly, tuned in for Friday night's episode of Celebrity Big Brother. Tragic, z-list hasbeens, Bobby Davro and Janice Dickinson's arrival in the house was seen by 1.39m sad, crushed victims of society from 9pm on Channel Five, as Tila Tequila was removed from the competition less than twenty four hours in. Apparently. The ONE Show was Friday's highest-rated programme outside of soaps for the third week running, with an overnight audience of 3.14m punters at 7pm. The BBC1 documentary Canals: The Making Of A Nation followed at 7:30pm with 2.64m. With a panel featuring Clare Balding and Nick Grimshaw, Would I Lie To You? entertained 2.91m at 8.30pm - see below - while Ripper Street held steady with an audience of 2.83m at 9pm. The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice topped the night for BBC2, as usual, with 2.46m viewers at 9pm, slightly up on last week's episode. Elsewhere on the channel, 1.12m tuned in for highlights from the World Athletics Championships at 7pm, Mastermind continued with 1.74m at 8pm and Gardeners' World was up slightly week-on-week with 1.92m. Rick Stein's new series From Venice To Istanbul debuted with 1.93m at 9.30pm. On Channel Four, Celebrity Fifteen To One was broadcast to nine hundred and seventy nine thousand viewers at 8pm, while Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown was watched by 1.51m at 9pm. Satirical panel show The Last Leg followed with 1.16m at 10pm. On an absolutely rotten night for ITV, soaps aside, Real Stories With Ranvir Singh attracted a mere 2.1m at 8pm but that was nothing to laughably piss-poor BBQ Champ hitting a new low with an overnight audience of just 1.25m at 9pm. One trusts that whichever plank at ITV towers dreamed up this risible - and hugely unoriginal - turd of a format will be clearing out their desk sooner rather than later and it does, rather, restore ones faith in the viewing public that they know diarrhoea when they see it. Good on ya, people.

TV comedy moment of the week, not unusually, came on Friday night's episode of the always reliable Would I Lie To You? and David Mitchell's incompetent attempts to convince Lee Mack that Mitchell sleeps in the night before binmen come, wearing earmuffs in bed. Lee wasn't having any of it, not least because of the very idea of the divine Victoria putting up with such malarkey.
The X Factor suffered a year-on-year overnight ratings drop of close to two million punters for its opening episode. The ITV singing competition returned for its twelfth series on Saturday, but new judges Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw couldn't inspire the show to reach the same figures as 2014's opening episode achieved. The series premiere pulled in an overnight figure of 7.11m from 8pm. Last year, the first episode was watched by an overnight audience of 9.03 million. Elsewhere on ITV, Keep It In The Family continued with 3.28m and Through The Keyhole kicked off a new series with 3.13m. On BBC1, Pointless Celebrities appealed to 3.66m from 7pm. The National Lottery: Five Star Reunion managed 2.61m before Casualty had an audience of 4.22m. A Mrs Browns Boys repeat had 3.89m from 9.35pm. BBC2 attracted 1.2m for the latest Dad's Army repeat. Sue Perkins' Big Night Out followed with seven hundred and fifty four thousand from 9.10pm. Earlier, Edwardian Farm drew eight hundred and forty thousand. On Channel Four, Great Canal Journeys gathered eight hundred and eighty six thousand punters in the 7pm hour. Tony Robinson's Walking Through History had seven hundred and eighty thousand at 8pm. The Jude Law thriller Side Effects averaged six hundred and fifty nine thousand from 9pm. On Channel 5, Celebrity Big Brother was viewed by eight hundred and sixty six thousand from 10.30pm. Football League Tonight earlier managed four hundred and twenty seven thousand.

Whilst much media attention was focused on the perceived 'lowness' of The X Factor's overnight audience for its return on Saturday evening - particularly as compared to figures from previous series - it's worth noting that an overnight rating of over seven million punters is still pretty decent for any show in this day and age. The X Factor's second auditions episode on Sunday night, however, fell just shy of the six million mark, according to overnight figures. That was 'news'! An average audience of 5.94m punters tuned-in at 8pm for the hour-long episode. Once again this was down by over a million viewers from the previous year's corresponding overnight figures of 7.55m. It was still the best-performing programme of a rather dull and uninteresting Sunday primetime, of course, albeit not by anywhere near the sort of distance one usually expects X Factor to punish the opposition by when it's not on the same night as episodes of Strictly Come Dancing. Elsewhere on the channel, but 1.88m watched Animal Mums from 7pm, with 3.81m viewing the Ray Winstone and Amanda Redman drama The Trials Of Jimmy Rose from 9pm. On BBC1, Countryfile attracted 4.47m viewers whilst 4.23m watched Big Blue Live at 7pm. A special episode of Casualty was the channel's best performing primetime broadcast at 8pm with 4.92m. Partners In Crime had an audience of 3.25m from 9pm (dropping yet another four hundred thousand overnight viewers week-on-week), while 2.13m watched highlights of the day's Premier League action in Match Of The Day 2 at 10.30pm. On BBC2, 1.33m joined the channel at 7pm for highlights from the final day of the World Athletics Championships (and a couple of very exciting relay finals, in particular), followed by an audience of 1.9m for the latest episode of Dragons' Den at 8pm. Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week was watched by 1.43m at 9pm. Channel Four's primetime schedule opened with eight hundred and fifty two thousand viewers for Secret History at 7pm. Six hundred and three thousand watched Time Crashers at 8pm, with 1.34m viewers seeing the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at 9pm. On Channel Five, 1.03m saw the day's 'highlights' (and, this blogger uses the word quite wrongly) from the Celebrity Big Brother house at 9pm. Elsewhere on the channel, five hundred and twenty eight thousand tuned in for Police Interceptors Unleashed at 8pm, while the truly risible Twenty Moments That Rocked the Eighties attracted an audience of eight hundred and eight thousand people,seemingly with nothing better to do with their time from 10pm. On multichannels, BBC3's broadcast of Deep Impact drew eight hundred and fifty thousand whilst Sky1's final of their disastrous - and utterly crass - game show format King Of The Nerds was watched by a mere one hundred and fifty thousand. Still one hundred and fifty thousand too many, of course but still, a useful reminder that, just occasionally, the great viewing public do know a stinking pile of rancid diarrhoea when they're presented with it.
Here's the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Eighteen programmes for week-ending Sunday 23 August 2015:-
1 The Great British Bake Off - Wed BBC1 - 12.01m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.15m
3 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 7.15m
4 New Tricks - Tues BBC1 - 6.76m
5 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.59m
6 Casualty - Sun BBC1 - 6.16m
7 Britain's Spending Secrets - Wed BBC1 - 6.02m
8 Big Blue Live - Sun BBC1 - 5.33m
9 Who Do You Think You Are? - Thurs BBC1 - 5.14m
10 Ten O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 4.91m
11 Six O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.90m
12 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.88m
13 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 4.87m
14 Partners In Crime - Sun BBC1 - 4.44m
15 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.35m
16 Match Of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 3.79m
17 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 3.77m
18 Ripper Street - Fri BBC1 - 3.71m
These figures, as usual, do not include iPlayer or ITV Player viewers. Once again the fact that ITV's top eleven broadcasts of the week were five episodes of Coronation Street and six episodes of Emmerdale and not one single other ITV programme of any description managed to break the three million viewers barrier, should be truly alarming to Peter Fincham and Adam Crozier. Back to the drawing board, lads, it would seem. For the record, the channel's twelfth most-watched broadcast of the week was Thursday's ITV News with just 2.64 million viewers. ITV's latest two 'quality' examples of lowest-common-denominator shite-on-toast - Flockstars and BBQ Champ - both drew consolidated audiences of less than 1.48m, neither making ITV's top thirty shows of the week. Good. That's what you get for treating the viewing public as idiots, boys. The Dales did make ITV's top thirty. Just (1.78m in twenty seventh place). For BBC2, Dragons' Den continued to attract impressive numbers (3.23m - or, more than double what BBQ Champ drew, just to rub it in a bit more), whilst the figures brought in by The Scandalous Lady (3.21m), University Challenge (2.88m), The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice (2.80m), Only Connect (2.46m), Gardeners' World (2.03m) and Rick Stein From Venice To Istanbul (2.02m) were also above-average for their respective slots. Channel Four's top-rated broadcasts were Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown (2.01m), Location, Location, Location (1.89m), Twenty Four Hours In Police Custody (1.86m), The Last leg (1.79m) and Very British Problems 1.60m. Channel Five's highest-rated shows were Ben Fogle: New Lives In The Wild (1.92m), the Movie Snitch (1.42m) and The Nightmare Neighbours Next Door (1.41m). Sky Sports 1's Live Ford Super Sunday was the most-watched multichannels broadcast of the week with 1.25m. Endeavour was ITV3's highest-rated programme (nine hundred and one thousand), followed by Midsomer Murders (eight hundred and twenty two thousand) and Lewis (seven hundred and forty five thousand. . On ITV4, World Series Of Darts attracted three hundred and thirty seven thousand. BBC3's weekly-list was topped by Don't Tell The Bride (eight hundred and fifty thousand). As usual, the soon-to-be-online-only channel's top ten was overloaded with several episodes of Family Guy and Top Gear and the movie Prince Of Persia: The Sands. BBC4's weekly list was headed by The Secrets Of Quantum Physics (five hundred and seventy one thousand) and The Young Montalbano (five hundred and forty nine thousand), followed by Sinatra: All Or nothing At All (five hundred and thirty two thousand) and Sicily Unpacked (five hundred and one thousand). 5USA's Chicago PD attracted five hundred and fifty one thousand. Ray Donovan (two hundred and sixty two thousand) was Sky Atlantic's weekly list-topper, followed by The Brink (two hundred and eleven thousand) and the latest episode of Aquarius (one hundred and seventy nine thousand). Sky Living's most-watched dramas were Unforgettable (four hundred and forty seven thousand viewers), Madam Secretary (four hundred and thirty one thousand) and Chicago Fire (four hundred and fifteen thousand). Hannibal's astonishing third-to-last episode had one hundred and ninety nine thousand viewers. Sky Arts' Fleetwood Mac: Live In Boston drew fifty thousand punters. Sky 1's most-watched programmes were the second episode of Zoo (1.13m) and The Last Ship (five hundred and eighty four thousand). On Dave, the third episode of the much-trailed The Last Man On Earth was the channel's highest-rated programme of the week - four hundred and forty nine thousand - followed by Storage Hunters UK (four hundred and eight thousand), Taskmaster (four hundred and six thousand) and Suits (three hundred and seventy seven thousand). A Qi XL repeat drew two hundred and eighty four thousand. Drama's Dalziel & Pascoe attracted three hundred and twenty six thousand whilst Silent Witness was watched by three hundred and eighteen thousand. Watch's broadcast of The Strain was seen by one hundred and eighty eight thousand whilst a repeat of the Doctor Who episode The Poison Sky had one hundred and seventy three thousand. Yesterday's Great British Railways Journeys had an audience of two hundred and ten thousand viewers. Sounds Of The Sixties drew one hundred and ninety nine thousand. FOX's highest-rated shows were Marvel's Agent Carter (three hundred and ninety four thousand), Falling Skies (three hundred and twelve thousand), American Dad! (two hundred and thirty eight thousand), Murder In The First (two hundred and four thousand) and several episodes of NCIS (Friday's being the most-watched with one hundred and sixty thousand). Another episode of NCIS topped CBS Action's weekly list (one hundred and twenty six thousand). The world's most-watched drama also featured in the top ten lists of both 5USA and the Universal Channel, the latter of which was headed by Rookie Blue (two hundred and fifty five thousand). On the Discovery Channel, Wheeler Dealers was watched by two hundred and eighteen thousand viewers. An older episode of the popular car series also topped Discovery Turbo's weekly list. Discovery History's The Falklands War had sixty four thousand viewers. Time Team and Weaponology were both watched by twenty nine thousand. The Discovery Science channel drew forty seven thousand viewers for Superhuman Science. CI's Unusual Suspects brought in fifty nine thousand and Britain's Darkest Taboos thirty two thousand whilst ID's Murder Behind Mansion Walls was watched by seventy four thousand and The Perfect Murder by sixty three thousand. National Geographic's SOS had an audience of ninety nine thousand viewers. GOLD's, seemingly never-ending repeat run of Only Fools & Horses attracted two hundred and thirteen thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (five hundred and thirty eight thousand). On Sky Sports News, many punters' five-hour highlight of the week, Gillette Soccer Saturday, was watched by seven hundred and forty six thousand. On ITV Encore, Vera attracted sixty thousand viewers. TLC, this week did report its ratings figures to BARB so, this blogger can tell you all exactly how many sad, crushed victims of society watched the third episode of If Katie Hopkins Ruled The World (one hundred and thirteen thousand, as it happens). The channel's weekly-list was topped by something called Curvy Brides - no, me neither - which was seen by one hundred and twenty nine thousand.

What will probably turn out to be the blood-soaked final episode of Hannibal, The Wrath Of The Lamb, was broadcast in the US this week. As with most of the rest of this vastly under-rated series, God, it was good. And, completely bonkers at the same time, of course. This blogger will miss it, and its often mental plotlines, greatly.
For that, to this ...
The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) has defended the BBC from its - agenda-soaked - critics, saying that Doctor Who could not have been created by any other broadcaster. Well, it probably could but, like as not, if it had been, it wouldn't have lasted over fifty years and become something that has informed the psyche of four or five generations of Britons. The show's lead writer and executive producer was speaking after a screening of The Magician's Apprentice - the first episode of the upcoming ninth series - at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. According to The Moff, Doctor Who forms part of the BBC's 'insane variety. It's fair to say that there's only one broadcaster in the whole world that would have come up with and transmitted as good an idea as Doctor Who,' the writer said, according to the Gruniad. 'I think a very, very small number of people think the BBC is a bad idea, and a huge number of people think it's a wonderful idea,' he added. And, he's right, of course. And those very small number of people are all filth scum. Sadly, most of them have a platform with which to do the BBC harm. The BBC is 'so madly varied and so genuinely mad' Moffat remarked, praising The Great British Bake Off and David Attenborough's programmes for further showcasing its diversity. How nice it is to see someone who works for the Beeb, for once, showing a bit of sodding backbone and standing up for Auntie in the face to whinging of lice with a - sick - agenda.
The BBC's head of strategy said that an Allegedly 'conciliatory' speech by the lack of culture minister the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale had 'changed the mood' of the debate around BBC charter renewal but that real questions remained. Director of Strategy James Purnell told an audience of TV executives at the Edinburgh Festival that the BBC still faced 'huge questions' over its future and would not know whether the government had a - sick - anti-BBC agenda until its White Paper on charter renewal was published early next year. Purnell, a former Labour lack of culture secretary himself, said that the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale, who was interviewed at the festival on Wednesday, had 'changed the mood of the debate, very much so. But, it's not just John, this is a debate with lots of people involved, many of whom are making arguments there's not a need for the BBC any more or the licence fee and we need to answer those questions.' When asked if he believed there was an anti-BBC agenda in the Green Paper, Purnell said: 'It was a question that needed to be asked. I think now we have a clarification an answer to that question. For us, the test is what's going to come in the White Paper.' Welcoming the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's comments, the BBC executive said that the Green Paper and charter review process 'is about winning hearts and minds. If we've won hearts now with the government we now need to get on to winning minds as well.' Challenged - by some arsehole of no importance - to 'defend' the BBC and the fact that ten layers of management were the same as they were two years ago, Purnell denied that the BBC had taken money out of content, saying: 'It's not like we didn't do any saving to central costs over that period.' In July the BBC announced one thousand middle management job cuts as a way of saving money. 'Would we have preferred to have got to that two years ago, absolutely. In the meantime being doing procurement selling White City, reducing senior managers. We just worked out through quite a complicated piece of work that we could do even more. Yes, I wish we'd been able to do that faster.' Purnell said that the sequence of events whereby the government sprung a new licence fee settlement on the BBC in July ahead of a Green Paper, followed by some 'robust briefing' to the scum right-wing press 'created a very legitimate question about whether the intention of the government was to diminish the BBC.'

Meanwhile, shadow lack of culture secretary Chris Bryant has called the BBC Director General Tony Hall 'a coward' for not publicly challenging the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale over the recent licence fee settlement. And, he said it was 'daft' of his former Labour colleague, James Purnell, to have 'bought' an allegedly 'conciliatory' speech by the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale about BBC charter renewal and that people should remain 'very, very, very wary.' Asked if he agreed with Purnell that the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's speech on Wednesday had 'changed the mood' of the debate around the BBC's charter and the Green Paper about its future, Bryant said: 'John has been appointed specifically to be the nice guy who wanders round conferences saying "it's not going to be so bad, it's all going to be fine" and James Purnell's bought it. Daft, ludicrous.' Bryant said that the government's decision to get the BBC to shoulder the seven hundred and twenty five million knicker cost of free licence fees for the over seventy fives from 2020-21 as part of its funding deal was 'morally offensive' and turned it into 'a subset of the Department of Work and Pensions.' He added that Hall should have challenged the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale as the lack of culture select committee under his chairmanship had recommended in 2012 that there should never be a repeat of the 2010 'shotgun' licence fee settlement. 'Nobody suggested [the BBC paying for over-seventy fives' licence fees] in the General Election – they have no mandate to take it forward and I think Tony Hall, frankly, was a coward for not going to the public and saying "You, John Whittingdale, publicly said before the General Election that you would hate any process that was just a stitch-up overnight,"' Bryant said. 'I think it's unpatriotic, frankly, for a Conservative party that is meant to believe in Britain to diminish the greatest British brand that we have.' He added: 'Just after the General Election I started predicting that the government would make the BBC pay for over-seventy fives' licence fees. Everyone said, "No, no, John Whittingdale would never do that and,anyway, Whittingdale produced a report with Philip Davies and everyone else which said it would be disgraceful to do that kind of overnight deal between the chancellor just after speaking to Rupert Murdoch – sorry, The Mysterious M. And that's exactly what happened. So, I think people should be very, very, very wary.'
One will decide the future of the BBC and the other presents one of its most popular shows. But The Great British Bake Off feisty lesbian presenter, Sue Perkins, left the genteel world of the BBC1 cookery show behind her to give the lack of culture secretary a damned good baking over the government's plans for the BBC and twenty per cent cuts to its funding. Sexy Suzy reportedly confronted the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale at a dinner packed with senior television executives and presenters in Edinburgh on Wednesday, where The Thick Of It creator Armando Iannucci had just delivered a rousing, pro-BBC speech for the prestigious MacTaggart Lecture. Perkins told fellow guests she had 'gone rogue' after confronting the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale at the dinner in 'a prolonged encounter' described by witnesses as 'feisty' and 'a full and frank exchange of views.' So, just short of eye-scratching, then. Pity. Perkins later told the Gruniad Morning Star: 'I'm a passionate person, there's a lot going on underneath my carousel of blazers, a cauldron of sensitivity and emotion. I went to this dinner and John was opposite and I took it as my opportunity, albeit after one or two glasses of wine, to "engage" with him about the government and the BBC. We had a lively exchange during which many views were contested and I said my piece. It was a very well intentioned but pretty fiery exchange. I said you will take my points on-board otherwise I will kiss you into an horrific submission and with that he shut up sharpish.' Perkins, who was at the dinner with her partner, Anna Richardson, said that the exchange had continued until 'we had bored the living daylights out of everyone else at the table and we looked up to find everyone else had cleared their plates.' She said that she took issue with the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale because she believed the government was acting as if it owned the BBC when it was actually owned by 'the ninety-something percent of the general public who pay the licence fee and are its stakeholders. I was speaking to John not really as an employee of the BBC but as a stakeholder,' she added. 'I think all stakeholders should start to engage with the government and say, "hang on, do we want this?" What I don't want is a fait accompli because I think that would be the worst thing to happen to broadcasting in living memory.' The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale told the Gruniad he had 'enjoyed' the debate. 'She's a feisty lady, I enjoyed talking to her,' he claimed. 'Unfortunately we were cut short, I hope there will be another opportunity for it to continue.' He said that he did not consider the exchange particularly lively. 'Part of my reason for coming to Edinburgh was to put right what I considered to be quite widespread misconceptions of what my review is all about,' he added. 'I was therefore happy to have a chance to talk to her and explain my position. We had a very enjoyable debate and I hope it's one we can continue.' Iannucci used his speech to accuse government ministers of, in effect, trying to kill off the corporation. He rounded on politicians and billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch and compared the government's treatment of the BBC to 'a doctor urging his patient to consider the benefits of assisted suicide.' The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale subsequently invited Iannucci to Westminster to discuss the future of the corporation. 'He said: "Come and have a chat" so, obviously, I will come and have a chat. But, it's got to go deeper than that,' Armando told the Gruniad. But he played down suggestions that he might join the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's panel of alleged 'experts' advising the government on the future of the BBC. Armando used his speech to criticise the line-up of the panel, which includes former Channel Five boss Dawn Airey and ex-ITN chief Stewart Purvis, both longtime critics of the BBC, for not including anyone from the creative parts of the industry. 'That would be pointless because then you would just be one token creative,' said Iannucci. 'I'm always saying this whole thing should be a proper dialogue, a proper conversation, it shouldn't be about the government versus the BBC, it should be about the government, production community and all broadcasters talking together about what will improve the BBC and give more value for money for the licence fee payer. Anything I say is not going to solve everything, I just wanted to start that alternative approach to the discussion.' The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale earlier told the festival that the government had 'never suggested dismantling the BBC.' Well, no, not in so many words ... 'The idea that somehow there is an ideological drive to destroy the BBC is just extraordinary,' he claimed. One or two people even believed him. 'I have a sense that people who are rushing to defend the BBC are tilting at windmills.' He said there were 'times when the BBC has driven me into a fury but I am not alone. Go and talk to Labour. They will say exactly the same thing.' The lack of culture minister, Ed Vaisey, was also at the dinner, held at the rooftop Tower restaurant above Edinburgh's National Museum of Scotland. One wonders who, exactly, was paying the bill of the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale and Vaisey's meals? Answers on a postcard, dear blog reader.
There's a really excellent interview with the living legend that is yer man Danny Baker in the Gruniad this week which dear blog readers can check out here. It's primarily to tie-in with the start of the BBC's adaptation of Danny's autobiography, Cradle To Grave which starts next week. The article also includes which might be the best ever 'correction' at the bottom. Those who read the originally published piece will know exactly which bit Danny, seemingly, too such umbrage at.
The X Factor judge Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads has laughed off any ratings rivalry with Strictly Come Dancing, sneering at the BBC show's alleged lack of a star-studded line-up. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads has reprised his role as a judge on this year's series of the ITV singing competition alongside Cheryl Fernandez-Whatsherface, with Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw joining the panel, whilst various - mostly z-list - 'celebrities' such as Peter Andre, Jamelia and Daniel O’Donnell will be showing off their moves on the Strictly dancefloor. The two shows are set to coincide during their live stages, with Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads describing the scheduling conflicts as 'avoidable clashes.' Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads said The X Factor could 'easily' beat Strictly in the ratings war: 'I'd hate to say yes, because I know what will happen if I say yes, it will come back and haunt me. This show does feel better, the talent's great, they’re interesting, so if it's us versus Peter Andre, I'm going to put my money on us.' He added: 'I have really had a good time this year. You want judges who want to judge the talent and actually want to find an artist - that's what I noticed when I was working with these guys, and with Olly and Caroline. It is like being on a new show. It's been fun. I have had my moments with Madame (Fernandez-Whatsherface), but overall I've had a really good time this year.' The twelfth series of The X Factor, which begins on ITV on 29 August, also sees former Xtra Factor presenters Caroline Flack and Olly Murs taking over hosting duties on the main show from Dermot O'Dreary and Louis Walsh stepping down from the judge’s seat he has occupied since the show started in 2004. 'The good thing about Louis is he's going to be able to go to bed earlier. He can watch the show in bed in his PJs and he can call me after the show,' Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads sneered. 'We've got a couple of seats in the live shows - restricted viewing - but I'm looking after him. Maybe we'll make him Judge of the Week one week or something.'
Meanwhile, the Chief Creative Officer of Channel Four has suggested that the scheduling of Strictly Come Dancing against The X Factor is 'aggressive' and something the BBC shouldn't be pursuing. Jay Hunt, who used to be controller of BBC1, thinks that the Beeb should 'think twice' when planning its Saturday night schedule this year as ITV really needs the talent show to be a success. What the fek this has to do with her - someone who left the BBC under a massive cloud having, effectively, been accused of ageism by an industrial tribunal - is, perhaps, a question well worth asking at this point. Hunt was also, infamously, the person responsible for commissioning Amanda Holden's notorious megaflop sitcom Big Top for BBC1 so, frankly, you'd think the least we heard from Jay Hunt about pretty much anything, the better. Sadly, as with most people in the TV industry Jay appears to be in completely love with the sound of her own voice.
Yer actual Peter Davison is writing his autobiography, which is currently titled The Fifth(ish) Doctor and will be published in April 2016. The book will feature a foreword by his son-in-law, David Tennant his very self. Peter is only the third Doctor Who lead to write an autobiography. Mister Pertwee wrote two autobiographies; 1984's Moon Boots & Dinner Suits (republished in 2013) and I Am The Doctor in 1996, the year of his death. Tom Baker came out with Who On Earth Is Tom Baker? in 1997, though he managed to get through two hundred and seventy pages and didn't mention Doctor Who more than a handful of times. Ungrateful sod!
A new Channel Four drama, National Treasure, will feature an ageing comic facing an Operation Yewtree-style investigation into an accusation of rape from the 1970s. Channel Four's chief creative officer, Jay Hunt, said it was 'an absolutely fascinating area' for the broadcaster to examine. The four-part series is written by BAFTA-winning Jack Thorne, whose previous credits include Channel Four's various This Is England series, BBC3's acclaimed if a bit over-rated The Fades and E4's Glue. The drama will examine accusations of sexual misconduct against one half of a fictional comedy double act - obviously not based on anyone specific; oh no, very hot water - and will explore the impact on the accused and those most closely associated with him. Thorne said: 'National Treasure is a piece about doubt, about the smell of abuse, about how we as a society live in Yewtree times. Paul is a man who could be innocent or guilty. We're going to examine him from all sides and ask that big question – how well do we know the people closest to us?' The drama's co-executive producer, George Faber, said: 'In recent years, we've been bombarded with revelations about the historic sex offences of people in the public eye and the lives that they've destroyed. This fictional drama explores the emotional impact on both a family that finds itself in the eye of such a media story and on the accuser – and tackles the complex relationship between celebrity, sex and power.' Thorne has also written Hope and Let The Right One In for The Royal Court Theatre, as well as the forthcoming Harry Potter play for London's West End. The new drama will begin shooting in January and be broadcast next year - proceeded, one imagines, by a storm of pre-publicity from the Daily Scum Mail urging C4 to 'ban this sick filth.' Channel Four's Head of Drama, Piers Wenger, said: 'National Treasure is a powerful drama that goes beyond recent headlines, exploring the human and emotional impact when a whole life is called into question. In Jack's hands, it's an insightful and thought-provoking exploration of memory, truth, age, doubt and how well we really know ourselves and those closest to us. This, coupled with its evident topicality, makes it a perfect addition to the Channel Four drama slate.' Separately, Channel Four also unveiled a three-part drama-style documentary about a police investigation into the horrific murder of a teenager in Bristol. Filmed over eighteen months, the three-part series will be told entirely through the activities of the police major crime unit in the city without voiceover. Channel Four's Head of Documentaries, Amy Flanagan, said: 'Unlike previous crime documentaries, this is uniquely shot as a drama – a ground-breaking police series followed in real time and inside the mind of the detectives. But with the heart-wrenching story of a young man's senseless death, his family's pain and the polices' determination to achieve justice for them at its heart, viewers will be in no doubt they are watching real life; with all the far-reaching consequences such an act of brutality metes out on a community.'

BBC's Newsnight sparked a debate on Thursday night on the media coverage of the shooting of two journalists in Virginia during a live TV report. Author Michael Wolff and LiveLeak.com founder Hayden Hewitt discussed the issue of media outlets deciding whether or not to post the controversial video taken by the shooter, as well as a clip of the original WDBJ7 footage. Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot dead while Parker interviewed local Chamber of Commerce head Vicki Gardner, who was also injured in the incident. The suspected gunman, Vester Lee Flanagan later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after he was located by authorities. When asked by Newsnight host James O'Brien why his website had decided to post the video of the shooting, Hewitt responded by saying: 'Originally, it was uploaded to a different site and [it] made its way to ours. Currently we're under an incredibly heavy load because mainstream media is sensationalising it, making the videos sound far more graphic than they are and people are going to look.' He added: 'We've seen it before with the ISIS beheading videos that were describes as incredibly graphic even thought they weren't.' Attempting to justifying posting the video, Hewitt added: 'We've seen more graphic things on television, on the evening news.' Wolff then accused Hewitt of posting 'a snuff film', arguing that the site had become 'a tool of the murderer.' He went on to say that he believed the crime would not have taken place had the camera not been there, urging Hewitt to 'take responsibility' for sharing the footage. However, Wolff then confessed to having seen footage taken by the suspect, while Hewitt claimed he had not. Both the Sun and the Daily Mirra have faced considerable criticism for their front pages on Thursday, which both appears to feature stills from the footage taken by Flanagan as he committed the murders.
And, speaking of people who should be sodding-well ashamed of themselves, Channel Five boss Ben Frow has suggested he believes Helen Wood shouldn't have been included in the most recent series of Big Brother. Wood caused over one thousand people to complain to Ofcom after comparing another contestant, Brian Belo, to 'a rapist' and 'murderer' in June. Channel Five's controller, Frow, told the Gruniad Morning Star that he 'didn't like' the former housemate and said that he will 'have to live' with the decision to include her on the show. 'I didn't like Helen Wood, I think she is a bad person,' he commented. 'There comes a point with editorial ... I have to live with myself. Sometimes you have to draw the line,' he added.
EastEnders actor Malachi Kirby will be leading A+E's eight-episode reboot of Roots. Kirby - who played Wayne Ladlow on the BBC soap in January 2014 - has been cast as Kunta Kinte, the African who is sold into slavery in colonial America, according to Deadline. The mini-series, which will also be shown on Lifetime and the History Channel, is based on Alex Haley's groundbreaking and best-selling novel, nearly forty years after it was first adapted for television in 1977. Laurence Fishburne previously joined the cast of the reboot, portraying the author, Haley. The original Roots made history with its thirty seven Primetime Emmy Award nominations and nine awards.
A new SF thriller is in the works for BBC2, based on China Miéville's novel The City & The City. The book, which will be turned into a four episode drama by Poldark and Parade's End producer Mammoth Screen, follows Inspector Tyador Borlú who investigates the discovery of a foreign student's mutilated body on wasteland in the city of Besźel. His searches lead to the revelation the dead girl was involved in so-called 'political turmoil' between Besźel and neighbouring twin city Ul Qoma, with no-one allowed to see anyone from the other city and the borders between the cities patrolled. To solve the mystery, Borlú must deal with violent deaths around him and cross the borders. Kim Shillinglaw, the controller of BBC2 who has commissioned the adaptation, said: 'I want BBC2 to give writers and directors the space to do their most creative, signature work and I'm thrilled to be announcing an adaptation of China Miéville's novel, The City & The City. Miéville is one of the country's most popular fantasy writers and I'm really pleased that we are bringing his highly original voice to the screen, adapted by acclaimed writer, Tony Grisoni.' Mammoth's managing director Damien Timmer added: 'We are thrilled to be bringing China's dazzlingly inventive novel to BBC2. It's a Twenty First Century classic – a truly thrilling and imaginative work which asks big questions about how we perceive the world and how we interact with each other.'
Prosecutors are considering a file for a possible corporate prosecution over phone hacking at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World. The Metropolitan Police said that detectives from Operation Weeting have handed a file on 'corporate liability charges' to the Crown Prosecution Service on 23 July. The CPS said it had received a 'full file of evidence for consideration.' This does not mean that charges will be brought against News UK but it showed that prosecution was still being 'actively considered.' News UK, formerly News International, was the owner of the Scum of the World, which close in shame and ignominy in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal in July 2011. The company, which also owns The Times and the Sun, changed its name in 2013 - seemingly in the hope that everyone would forget about their naughty and illegal phone-hacking ways. Royals, celebrities and victims of crime were among those whose phones were hacked by the disgraced and disgraceful Sunday newspaper.

An accused thief has told a court that she held up three banks in May to raise money for her daughter's graduation party. Aw. Bless. Cindy Sanchez Carabeo, of Brandon in Florida, pleaded extremely guilty in a federal court on Thursday to one count of 'interfering with interstate commerce by robbery', according to the Tampa Bay Times. Carabeo told the judge that she robbed the banks to pay for a graduation party for her daughter and to cover her rent. She faces up to twenty years in the slammer of her naughty crimes. Police very arrested Carabeo in May after she stole six thousand bucks from a BB&T Bank, a Wells Fargo and Florida Central Credit Union in Brandon all in approximately forty five minutes. However, investigators slapped the cuffs on her even faster, according to Larry McKinnon of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. 'By the time she made it home after that third robbery, within fifteen minutes we had her in custody and all three bank managers were able to positively identify her,' McKinnon told WPTV. Authorities said that McKinnon had threatened to kill one teller but also wrote 'Happy Mother's Day' on the hold-up note, according to Sun-Sentinal. Which is nice.

Few people are ever particularly surprised these days by eye-popping headlines in the Daily Mirra. But when the tabloid recently quoted the former American astronaut Edgar Mitchell as saying that 'UFOs came in peace' to 'save America from nuclear war,' it shocked many people - including, seemingly, Mitchell himself. 'I don't know where the Mirra got the story,' Mitchell said in an e-mail to The Huffington Post, accusing the tabloid of 'fabricating' his quotes and denying that an interview for this story ever took place. Gosh, a British tabloid making stuff up? What a very serious suggestion. Someone will be claiming they hacked peoples s]hones next, mark my words. Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, has been outspoken over the years in his belief that extraterrestrials have visited the Earth and the moon - and that the government is withholding vital information about UFOs. Still, Mitchell insists the 11 August Mirra story has 'no basis in the truth' and disavows the information in it. In the story, the Apollo 14 veteran allegedly told the Mirra that 'military insiders' - nameless, of course and, therefore, almost certainly fictitious - had seen the 'strange crafts' on 16 July over missile bases and the White Sands facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where the first nuclear bomb was tested seventy years ago. The Mirra then quoted Mitchell as saying: 'White Sands was a testing ground for atomic weapons, and that's what the extraterrestrials were interested in. They wanted to know about our military capabilities. My own experience talking to people has made it clear the ETs had been attempting to keep us from going to war and help create peace on Earth. Officers from bases on the Pacific coast told me their [test] missiles were frequently shot down by alien spacecraft.' When The Huffington Post asked Mitchell if he had told the Mirra that 'peace-loving aliens' came to Earth to stop a nuclear war, that aliens were interested in our atomic weapons testing areas and that ETs attempted to keep us from going to war and help create peace on Earth or anything even remotely like it, Mitchell said, simply, 'None of those statements were originated by me.' In recent years, Mitchell has gone on record on several occasions suggesting that, despite the fact he personally has never seen a UFO, his many conversations with people in the military and intelligence community have convinced him that extraterrestrials have visited Earth and the truth about that has been covered up. While the former astronaut has no problem suggesting that Earth is being visited by extraterrestrials who may also be using the moon as a good vantage point for keeping an eye on our planet, in this particular case, he's saying that the specific quotes attributed to him by the Mirra were, if you will, alien to him. The Huffington Post then contacted Jasper Hamill, who wrote the story in the Mirra. He maintains that he accurately reported his 5 May conversation with Mitchell. So, either Jasper is lying, or Ed is. Who do you chose to trust, dear blog reader? A Mirra editorial spokesman, Ben Rankin, confirmed that Hamill 'stands by his story and has notes from the interview he conducted with Mitchell.' One or two people even believed him.

The first of three so-called 'supermoons' this year was visible overnight this weekend in some areas of the world where the sky was clear. The phenomena occurs periodically because the moon's orbit around our planet is oval-shaped, making the moon appear bigger and brighter when it is closer to Earth. The moon was less than two hundred and twenty three thousand miles away from Earth on this occasion - one of its nearest approaches of the year. The next supermoons are due on 28 September and 27 October (the day after this blogger's birthday as it happens). September's event will be the largest and will also feature a lunar eclipse. This will result in a 'blood supermoon' - during which the moon appears to turn a rusty red colour as it passes through the Earth's shadow.
Black holes preserve information about the stuff that falls into them, according to Professor Stephen Hawking. And, let's face it, he should know. Physicists have long argued about what happens to information about the physical state of things which are swallowed up by black holes. This information was previously thought to be destroyed, but it turns out that this would have violated the laws of quantum physics. Professor Hawking now suggests that the information may not make it into the black hole at all, but is held on its boundary for all perpetuity. In broad terms, black holes are regions in space where the gravity is so strong that nothing that gets pulled in - even light - can escape. At the same time, the laws of quantum mechanics dictate that everything in our world can be broken down into information, for example, a binary string of 1s and 0s. And, according to those laws, this information should never disappear, not even if it gets sucked into a black hole. Or, you know, attacked by wild dogs, even. But, according to Einstein's Theory Of General Relativity, the information must be destroyed if it encounters a black hole. This quandary is known as 'the information paradox.' Professor Hawking believes that the information doesn't make it inside the black hole at all. 'The information is not stored in the interior of the black hole as one might expect, but in its boundary - the event horizon,' he told a conference at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. The event horizon is the boundary, or point of no return, where escape from the gravitational pull of the black hole becomes impossible. So, hopefully, that's where all of the missing Doctor Who episodes from the 1960s ended up.

A French woman has won a disability grant after telling a court that she suffers from an allergy to electromagnetic radiation from gadgets. Marine Richard was told she may claim eight hundred Euros per month for three years as a result. She said that it was a 'breakthrough' for people affected by electromagnetic hypersensitivity. The condition is recognised by the World Health Organisation, though it says that the causes of the condition are 'unclear.' Richard had resorted to living in a remote area in the mountains of South-West France - in a barn which has no electricity. She said that she had been affected by everyday gadgets such as phones. Typical symptoms reported by those who claim to suffer from EHS include headaches, fatigue, nausea and palpitations. The disability allowance was granted by a court in Toulouse, though the ruling did not formally recognise EHS as an illness. In a similar case in the US, the parents of a twelve-year-old boy whom, they claim, is 'hypersensitive' to his boarding school's WiFi have decided to file a lawsuit against the establishment. The parents say their son, a day pupil, has been diagnosed with EHS. They claim he began suffering from headaches, nosebleeds and nausea after the Fay School installed new WiFi in 2013. The school asked the communications technology firm Isotrope to assess the electromagnetic emissions on campus. 'Isotrope found that the combined levels of access point emissions, broadcast radio and television signals, and other RFE emissions on campus comply with federal and state safety limits by a wide margin,' the school said in a statement. Although some countries, notably Sweden and the US, have officially recognised EHS as a condition, there is still much debate over whether a legal case on the condition would be worthwhile in certain other territories. In the UK, for example, members of the public who are worried about exposure to mobile phone masts tend to challenge their construction on a planning basis, according to research group Powerwatch.

Yer actual Pink Floyd (they are a popular beat combo, m'lud) are to re-home the forty foot long inflatable pig which featured on the cover of their 1977 LP Animals. The helium pig, known as Algie, famously caused air-traffic chaos after it floated free from Battersea Power Station in 1976 during the photoshoot for the LP cover, eventually coming to rest in a field in Kent. It had been listed for sale by Durrants auctioneers next month, alongside a number of items of memorabilia from Suffolk-based inflatable maker Air Artists. But Air Artists' owner Robin Harries, who was given the pig by Pink Floyd, said Algie would now be returned to the band's management and has withdrawn it from the sale. For those who've never seen it, the most memorable bit of the Floyd's The Delicate Sound Of Thunder tour video remains the moment in the middle of 'One Of These Days' where the camera picks out a member of the audience, presumably stoned off his tits on highly illegal substances, screaming 'LOOK AT THAT FUCKING PIG!' to his mate. Personally, this blogger doesn't think that's any way to talk about Dave Gilmour. Anyway ...
And now, dear blog reader ...
You may have spotted this week on the Interweb a much-reported 'story' about an anonymous alleged child at an anonymous alleged school somewhere in the world having, allegedly, been sent home with an alleged letter telling the alleged child's alleged parents that an alleged Woman Woman lunchbox the alleged child had allegedly taken to the alleged school was allegedly 'banned' for allegedly 'promoting violence'. The story, which appears to have originated on Reddit, even made some newspapers (if, once again, one can actually classify the Metro as 'a newspaper', which is probably pushing things too far). However, the Snopes website - which exists to separate ludicrous Internet rumours from fact - has done a pretty good job here in dismantling this load of old crap for what it actually is: 'The buzz about a banned Wonder Woman lunch box (which plays into the belief schools have become an unreasonable bastion of excessive sensitivity) is an unsubstantiated tale of dubious likelihood. Rumors [sic] of superhero bans in schools have intermittently circulated, but reports of such rules (proven or otherwise) are so noteworthy they tend to make "odd news" sections across the web. Unless this little girl (and her weird metal lunch box) was the only superhero fan at the school whose parents received such a letter, it may be just as likely that the tale was concocted for fun by a Reddit user.' Good gracious, so what you're saying is that someone made up a lie and then gullible sections of the, supposedly 'professional' media believed it and spread it? That's truly shocking. If, sadly, predictable.
A team of NASA recruits has begun living in a dome near a barren volcano in Hawaii to simulate what life would be like on Mars. The isolation experience, which will last a year starting on Friday, will be the longest of its type attempted. Experts estimate that a human mission to the Red Planet could take between one and three years. The six-strong team will live in close quarters under the dome, without fresh air, fresh food or privacy. They closed themselves away at 3pm local time on Friday. A journey outside the dome - which measures only thirty six feet in diameter and is twenty feet tall - will require a spacesuit. A French astrobiologist, a German physicist and four Americans - a pilot, an architect, a journalist and a soil scientist - make up the team. The men and women will each have a small sleeping cot and a desk inside their rooms. Provisions include powdered cheese and canned tuna. Tasty. Missions to the International Space Station currently last six months. The US space agency has recently conducted four-month and eight-month-long isolation experiments. While others focus on the technical and scientific challenges of the journey, the isolation experiments address the human element of exploration and problems that arise living in tight quarters. 'I think one of the lessons is that you really can't prevent interpersonal conflicts. It is going to happen over these long-duration missions, even with the very best people,' said Kim Binsted, a NASA investigator.
For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, some advice for the NASA six from Derry's finest on what they should be eating for the next twelve months.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Heroes & Villains

The speculation continues as to whom Maisie Williams will be playing in her two-episode guest stint in Doctor Who. The actress's character details have been, largely, kept under wraps by the production although showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) has confirmed that she is not a new incarnation of a past Doctor Who character. In a new interview released by BBC America in the US, The Moffat coyly suggests that he can reveal 'very little' about Williams's guest role at this time. 'There's a load of things about why we cast her and why she's the right choice, and why she's amazing,' Steven says. 'I can only talk about them once you've seen the show.' 'She's fantastic,' yer actual Peter Capaldi added. 'She's such a gifted actress… She's so young. She turned eighteen while she was working with us. She came in and she did a performance that I thought was so mature, so clever. I was really, really impressed by it. I don't really want to give away too much about what she does, but what I will say is that she's quite cosmic. She's not quite what she seems.'
Doctor Who has secured five nominations for this year's BAFTA Cymru Awards. Yer actual Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman her very self have both been recognised in the acting categories, while the show itself is up for three technical prizes. Capaldi is nominated against Richard Harrington (Hinterland) and Rhys Ifans (Dan Y Wenallt) for best actor while Jenna faces competition from Mali Harries (Hinterland) and Rhian Morgan (Gwaith) for best actress. Will Oswald's work on Dark Water has received a nomination for best editing, whilst the Doctor Who festive special Last Christmas is among the Special and Visual Effects nominees. The show's title sequence could also win an award following its redesign for the eighth series. Elsewhere, Set Fire To The Stars leads the pack with seven nominations, while Da Vinci's Demons follows with six. The recipient of this year's Huw Stephens will present the 2015 BAFTA Cymru Awards in Cardiff on Sunday 27 September. There's lovely.
Doctor Who series nine is getting a prequel. The Doctor's Meditation will première next month, as part of the US cinema screenings of Dark Water and Death In Heaven in 3D. Scheduled for 15 to 16 September at various cinemas across the US - but, not Britain - the screenings will feature appearances from yer actual Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman her very self, with a panel hosted by Wil Wheaton. The BBC is yet to announce if The Doctor's Meditation will be screened to fans outside of the US, or if it will be released online. The prequel is set shortly before the events of series nine's opening episode The Magician's Apprentice - but its plot and setting remains, at this time, a secret.
Lego has signed a ' mutli-million pound' deal with the BBC to create a Doctor Who Lego set with mini-figures, the TARDIS and representations of many of the enemies The Doctor has taken on. The partnership is 'a huge deal for the BBC' and could – in financial terms alone – be the biggest shot in the arm for its commercial subsidiary since the success of Teletubbies in the 1990s. At least, according to the Daily Scum Mail. So, probably not, in that case.
Panorama was Monday night's most-watched overnight programme outside of soaps, while a repeat of Sherlock also performed marginally above expectations for BBC1. According to overnight data, Panorama was seen by 2.86m at 7.30pm, while a repeat of the Sherlock episode His Last Vow had an audience of 2.16m from 8.30pm. On BBC2's strongest night of the week, University Challenge was watched by 2.76m at 8pm, before Only Connect averaged 2.14m at 8.30pm and The World's Busiest Railway 2015 interested 2.78m at 9pm. Qi followed with 1.17m (6.8%) at 10pm. ITV's Vet School continued with 2.29m at 8pm, while Travel Guides drew 2.14m at 9pm. Bear's Wild Weekend With Miranda - steady - brought in eight hundred and seventy thousand punters for Channel Four at 8pm, before Twenty Four Hours In Police Custody was seen by 1.37m at 9pm and Muslim Drag Queens appealed to nine hundred and fifty thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Inside Scientology ... And Escaping The Witnesses was watched by 1.15m at 9pm, while The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door brought in six hundred and twenty five thousand viewers at 10pm.

Good gracious, dear blog reader, watching Only Connect on Monday evening this blooger was suddenly aware that if Victoria Coren Mitchell's breasts get any larger, the poor lass will be in serious danger of toppling over. This blogger is merely concerned for her, y'understand. There's a possible health and safety issues at stake. Obviously.
Of course, if you're wondering, the lovely Victoria was extremely pregnant when filming of this latest series of the popular BBC2 lateral-thinking quiz was taking place; Vicky and David's daughter, Barbara, was born in May. Though, as this blogger's mate Danny Blythe pointed out, her pregnancy bump seems to get bigger and smaller as the current series of Only Connect has progressed: 'I suspect that old Doctor Who favourite, "production order not being transmission order."' Indeed, for those of us who remember Sarah Benny's last pregnancy, thanks to Channel Four's decision to show episodes of Property Ladder in any old order they fancied, Sarah appeared to be 'with child' longer than the average gestation period of an elephant.
        All of these observations, incidentally, come from a lengthy Facebook thread - I know, I know, 'get a life' - in which a discussion on the subject of famous television pregnancies brought up many memories of the episode of Neighbours where Daphne's pregnancy ended with her giving birth by the riverbank without removing her knickers of, indeed, her dungarees. Which is a hell of a trick if you can do it.
This blogger must say that he was fair flabbergasted the contestants from Kellogg College, Oxford didn't know that The Shining Path were a rather bloodthirsty revolutionary guerrilla group in Peru in Monday night's episode of University Challenge. Pfft, students these days, I don't know. In't maaa day, we knew every single bunch of crazed, psychotic anarcho-syndicalist Marxist nutters the world over. Plus, who they were fighting (and whether those they were fighting were backed by the CIA - which they usually were), what their cause was and, which Labour MPs were their 'close personal friends' and raised lots of money for them to buy weapons and bullets only to then deny having done so twenty years later when they were Minister For Overseas Development.
Educating Cardiff got off to a strong start on Channel Four on Tuesday according to overnight figures. The behind-the-scenes look at Willows High School appealed to 1.58m at 9pm. However, the launch is down slightly on the 1.80m who watched the first episode of Educating The East End last year. Earlier in the evening, The Three Day Nanny averaged 1.05m at 8pm. BBC1's New Tricks was the night's most-watched programme outside of soaps with 4.97m overnight viewers at 9pm. On BBC2, Natural World brought in 1.97m at 8pm, before The World's Busiest Railway 2015 continued with 2.13m at 9pm and Goodness Gracious Me's India special interested 1.24m at 10pm. ITV's Bargain Fever Britain was watched by 2.21m at 8pm, while School Swap: The Class Divide was watched by 1.17m at 9pm. On Channel Five, The Dog Rescuers With Alan Davies dipped to nine hundred and thirty two thousand at 8pm, while The Great Big Benefits Wedding had an audience of nine hundred and fifty five thousand viewers at 9pm. Twelve Years Old & On Benefits followed with six hundred and twenty three thousand at 10pm.

The Great British Bake Off continued its genuinely remarkable performance in the overnight ratings with 'Dessert Week' on Wednesday. According to overnight data, 9.57m viewers tuned in at 8pm to see how the bakers got on with their Crème brûlées and that. Later, Britain's Spending Secrets was watched by 4.74m at 9pm. On BBC2, Horizon appealed to seven hundred and twenty thousand at 8pm and The World's Busiest Railway 2015 continued with 1.64m at 9pm. A Foyle's War repeat brought in 2.08m for ITV between 8pm and 10pm. Channel Four's Posh Pawn was watched by one million punters at 8pm, before One Born Every Minute drew an audience of 1.20m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Nightmare Neighbour Next Door interested 1.07m at 8pm, while Undercover Benefits Cheat averaged 1.15m at 9pm. Wentworth Prison followed with five hundred and eighty nine thousand at 10pm. Meanwhile, Sky 1's The Force: Manchester gathered two hundred and fourteen thousand at 10pm.

Russell Davies is adapting A Midsummer Night's Dream for BBC1. Big Rusty will return to Cardiff for the ninety-minute production, to be broadcast in 2016, it was announced at this year's Edinburgh International TV Festival this week. 'I've wanted to make this for the BBC for my entire adult life - and only the BBC can put on a play like this, for all the family, smack-bang in the heart of prime-time,' the award-winning writer and showrunner said.
'With a riot of prosthetics, CGI, magic and action, it needs the brilliant Doctor Who team in Cardiff to bring it to life.' A new six-part series from Twelve Years A Slave filmmaker Steve McQueen was also been formally announced at Edinburgh - the as-yet-untitled drama will follow a West Indian community in the heart of London across three decades, beginning in 1968 around the time of Enoch Powell's infamous 'Rivers of Blood' speech. Tony Jordan - Hustle and Life On Mars co-creator and former lead writer on EastEnders - is also working on a Tamla-Motown musical drama, Stop! In The Name Of Love, which is set to span four episodes. Following 'six smart, diverse thirty-something women in contemporary England', Stop! will feature its characters belting out classic Motown hits - with the songs reflecting 'the situation and emotions of the characters.' So, could be really good like Blackpool, could be shite like Mamma Mia. It'll be interesting to see which.
Comedy writer, filmmaker and all-round top chap, Armando Iannucci has called for an industry-wide defence of the BBC and British programme-makers. The Thick Of It creator made his remarks when making the annual MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival. Which you can see, in full, here. The award-winning writer behind The Day Today, The Thick Of It and Veep has accused ministers of effectively trying to kill off the BBC and urged people to defend it against scum politicians and twats the likes of billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch. Armando said it would be 'bad capitalism' to diminish the national broadcaster and suggested the debate about its future had been 'poisoned' by the self-interest of the newspaper industry. 'If the BBC were a weapons system, half the cabinet would be on a plane to Saudi Arabia to tell them how brilliant it was,' Iannucci told an audience of leading TV executives at the festival. 'And yet, it's quite the reverse. They talk of cutting down to size, of reining in imperialist ambitions, of hiving off, of limiting the scope, with all the manic glee of a doctor urging his patient to consider the benefits of assisted suicide.' In a speech entitled We're All in This Together – deliberately echoing the language used by the chancellor, the vile and odious rascal Osborne – Iannucci said the 'extremely subjective opinions' of senior ministers were putting the UK on 'a dangerous path, a creeping imperial ambition that's doing international harm to our stock. It's more important than ever that we have strong, popular channels that act as beacons, drawing audiences to the best content,' he said. 'Faced with a global audience, British television needs its champion supporters.' Armando, of course, also co-wrote I'm Alan Partridge, wrote the movie In the Loop and created and wrote the hit HBO sitcom Veep. He delivered the fortieth annual MacTaggart Lecture, which has previously been given by Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, former BBC Director General Greg Dyke and Jeremy Paxman among others. Iannucci continued his praise for British programming by saying the global success of American TV shows had come about because they were emulating British television. 'The best US shows are modelling themselves on what used to make British TV so world-beating,' he said. 'US prime-time schedules are now littered with those quirky formats from the UK - the Who Do You Think You Are?s and the variants on Strictly Come Dancing - as well as the single-camera non-audience sitcom, which we brought into the mainstream first. We have changed international viewing for the better.' With the renewal of the BBC's royal charter approaching, Iannucci said: 'If public service broadcasting - one of the best things we've ever done creatively as a country - was a car industry, our ministers would be out championing it overseas, trying to win contracts, boasting of the British jobs that would bring.' In July, the government issued a Green Paper setting out issues that will be explored during negotiations over the future of the BBC, including the broadcaster's size, its funding and governance. The lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale appointed a panel of eight people to 'advise' on the charter renewal, including former Channel Five boss Dawn Airey and journalism professor Stewart Purvis, a former editor-in-chief of ITN. Iannucci bemoaned the lack of any 'creatives' involved in the discussions. 'When the media, communications and information industries make up nearly eight per cent our GDP, larger than the car and oil and gas industries put together, we need to be heard, as those industries are heard. But when I see the panel of "experts" who've been asked by the culture secretary to take a "root and branch" look at the BBC, I don't see anyone who is a part of that cast and crew list. I see executives, media owners, industry gurus, all talented people - but not a single person who's made a classic and enduring television show. No [Steven] Moffat or [Sally] Wainwright or [Jimmy] Mulville or [Jed] Mercurio. Nor do I see anyone from our world-class post-production industry or from design or drama, no-one from the enormous world-beating service of day-to-day production, to give their views, to offload their expertise on the difficulties and the joys and the challenges of making world standard public service broadcasting. It's like a car company was looking into what car it should make next, but only spoke to the managers and not to any of the engineers, or drivers. You cannot have a meaningful "root and branch" review of television, if you’re only going to deal with one branch. Iannucci suggested one way of easing the strain on the licence fee was 'by pushing ourselves more commercially abroad. Use the BBC's name, one of the most recognised brands in the world,' he said. 'And use the reputation of British television across all networks, to capitalise financially oversees. Be more aggressive in selling our shows, through advertising, through proper international subscription channels, freeing up BBC Worldwide to be fully commercial, whatever it takes. Frankly, don't be icky and modest about making money, let's monetise the bezeesus, Mary and Joseph out of our programmes abroad so that money can come back, take some pressure off the licence fee at home and be invested in even more ambitious quality shows, that can only add to our value.' Armando, who has worked on both sides of the Atlantic, said that the British television industry felt 'under attack' and that his US counterparts could not understand why the government would want to reduce the power of the BBC rather than encourage it further. 'To them it looks like we're going mad,' he said. 'This is toxifying something that could otherwise make more money internationally. Simply put, it's bad capitalism.' He also contrasted the criticism of the BBC with the expansion of global media giants, saying: 'Capitalism is pursued where it helps the BBC's competitors and a most peculiar form of Maoist state control is advocated when it doesn't. It's Facebook and Google who came along and ate up all newspapers' classified ads. Yet it's the BBC, who run no ads, that gets the blame, while it's Google and Facebook that get the helpful tax arrangements from HMRC.' He also dismissed claims of left-wing bias at the BBC, asking: 'How can a Corporation be left-wing when it has perpetuated the career of Ann Widdecombe?' Iannucci, who has worked for Sky, HBO and Channel Four as well as the BBC, quoted from both James Murdoch The Small's infamous 2009 lecture and one given by The Small's father, billionaire tyrant Rupert, in 1989, to suggest that both believed that media groups could no longer focus on one area, unless that media group happened to be the BBC. 'Dismantling [the BBC] is madness. The question shouldn't be how do we cut it down to size, but why should we?' he said. 'It makes no economic or cultural sense to tell this country's best online media presence, one that serves the public freely, that projects our cultural impact globally, to make itself a little bit worse.' In a passionate but humourous speech, Iannucci made it clear that when it came to 'bias' the press had far more to answer than the BBC. 'Where does it come from, this spooky force bending the ear of chancellors and ministers and civil servants and asking them to cull the BBC?' he asked. 'Let's for the sake of argument call this force "M, for Mysterious." The BBC is funded by and speaks to the country. The country is not the government. More people pay for the BBC and watch it than vote for any one political party. And politicians convinced that, because they are in government, their views and values are the majority opinion of the day, are slaves to an illusion. But believe me, saying tonight We're All In This Together', I'm not being ironic,' he added. 'Playful, maybe, but deadly serious. British television needs to be at its strongest: with a big global fight ahead, we need to consolidate all our talent and expertise.' Hours before Iannucci's high-profile intervention, ministers were already seeking to allay concerns about the future of the corporation. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale, the lack of culture secretary, claimed that it was 'unfortunate' there had been a 'need' to strike a speedy financial settlement with the BBC after the election to 'cover a financial deficit', before the discussions about the renewal of the BBC's charter had even begun. One or two people even believed him. Asked by veteran ITN newsreader Alastair Stewart whether the 'desire' to 'diminish' the BBC was 'unfinished business' from his days as an adviser to Margaret Thatcher, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said this was 'absolute nonsense.' No one believed that. 'Nobody is talking about dismantling the BBC,' he claimed.

The BBC's Director General, Tony Hall, has warned that further cuts to the corporation's funding and remit could result in more than thirty thousand job losses across the TV industry. Having seemingly finally woken up to the fact that the BBC are in a fight for their lives against these scummish right-wing ideologuelouse-bastards, Hall's comments came ahead of the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's turn at Edinburgh. Hall said that cuts to licence fee income would result in 'an economic downturn' which would stretch beyond the corporation itself. 'New research shows that, because of the boost the BBC provides, if you cut the licence fee by twenty five per cent you'd lose about thirty two thousand jobs across the whole economy,' said Hall. 'These aren't just jobs at the BBC, but across the TV industry – at independent producers, suppliers and studios up and down the country.' Hall added that the BBC had been 'a breeding ground for creative excellence', citing Tom Hooper, who started out on EastEnders and went on to direct The King's Speech and The Theory Of Everything director James Marsh, another former BBC employee. 'When series like Game Of Thrones are choosing where to film, they know that the UK has the skills to deliver,' he said. 'Our research tells us that as much as audiences enjoy the big US blockbusters like House Of Cards and Breaking Bad, they also want programmes set in the UK. That's why British shows like Happy Valley, Luther, Poldark, Sherlock and Broadchurch are so popular and many household names made their breakthrough on BBC shows. Without the BBC's investment the number of British shows made will fall.' Hall argued that critics - ie self-interest scumbags at the commercial broadcasters and in other parts of the media - who say the BBC is 'too big' are mistaken, despite the corporation growing from two channels to nine since 1994. He said that the TV landscape had seen channel numbers grow from sixty one to five hundred and thirty six over the same period and that the BBC had, in fact, shrunk in relative size compared with its commercial rivals. 'The BBC accounts for a far smaller proportion of television now than it did twenty years ago,' he said. 'Globally, we have less than half the revenue of Sky and a sixth of the revenue of Disney.' Hall said that despite this, the BBC plays 'a critical role' in the 'Britishness' of British TV at a time when a new generation of US rivals are emerging. 'As huge American companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple start to make programmes and services of their own, we need to think carefully about what makes British telly special,' he said. 'It is all too easy to take [the BBC] for granted, and with the government deciding on the future of the BBC, there is much at stake. A strong BBC also contributes to a strong UK economy. A strong BBC will help deliver a strong Britain.'

BBC's Head of Television Danny Cohen has said that the public doesn't want 'a market failure corporation' which is only permitted to make niche programmes to 'fill the gaps' left by rival broadcasters. Cohen, was also making a pre-emptive strike against the lack of culture secretary's review of the size of the corporation. He said that the viewers 'love' programming diversity. 'I believe we need a strong BBC that offers a wide range of British-made programmes – dramas, documentaries, news and entertainment,' said Cohen, in a comment piece in the Radio Times. 'I don't believe the public want a "market failure" BBC that fills the gaps by only making the kind of niche television that commercial TV simply won't make. They want a BBC that can compete with the very best the world has to offer, driving up standards and delivering for them night after night.' Last month, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale announced a 'fundamental' review of the size and scope of the BBC, including questioning whether it should continue to strive to be 'all things to all people.' As though being that was, in any way, a bad thing. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's comment fits with the views of some scum right-wing critics and various self-interest knobend commercial rivals who have called for the BBC to have a 'market failure' remit, meaning fewer entertainment shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and The Voice. Cohen argued that without a strong BBC, UK television could end out become too populated with US imports, and that the British public 'doesn't want everything in box form.' He pointed to the fact that the BBC1 schedule has no US programmes in prime time; twenty years ago this figure was twenty per cent, yet the channel is responsible for some of the biggest hits on TV. 'UK viewers can relish US shows while at the same time cherishing what has made UK television different,' he said. 'The UK public love the variety and cultural richness of British-made television. Our viewers also tell us that they appreciate the range of stories we tell. Long series, short series and high-impact single dramas all play a critical role in this. The public doesn’t want everything in box-set form.' Cohen said that the corporation is a 'cultural crown jewel' and should be viewed as intrinsically linked to the international success of British-made TV. 'The BBC is one of the crown jewels of British public and cultural life,' he said. 'It unifies the UK, drives the creative industries and provides stimulation, entertainment and companionship for vast numbers every day. I want a vibrant, competitive British TV sector that showcases British production companies, designers, writers and actors and boosts our economy and standing in the world.' Cohen defended the corporation's right to make entertainment shows. 'I don't know why entertainment has suddenly become a dirty word in the context of the BBC,' he said. 'The battle for Saturday nights between BBC and ITV has been going on for decades. It has driven standards. I believe that we should keep fighting for entertainment on Saturday nights on the BBC that reaches a wide range of people up and down the country, from all different sorts of backgrounds,' said Cohen. He added that the corporation should be making shows for audiences who put entertainment 'top of the list' of what they want from the BBC, rather than 'niche' TV programmes that 'get the seal of approval from opinion formers. A show like The Voice, it's really popular with young people, diverse audiences and less well-off audiences and it matters to them as much as Strictly, and we should make sure that we offer both,' said Cohen. BBC1's talent show The Voice was singled out in the government's consultation paper, due to be debated ahead of the BBC's Royal Charter renewal, for being 'similar' to ITV's The X Factor. It said the format had been 'developed overseas' and bought by the BBC at 'a reported cost of around twenty million pounds.' However, Cohen argued that 'bought in' formats - such as The Apprentice, Dragon's Den and University Challenge - are 'a tiny proportion' of the BBC's total output. 'Every so often we look to the wider world and see something that's amazing that we bring to BBC audiences,' he said. 'We actually do it a lot less than we used to, but it's also the same strategy that's brought us Borgen and The Killing.' Cohen admitted that Saturday night programming was one of the 'hardest things' to get right, adding, 'we are in a continual process of looking for the next big Saturday night thing.' He highlighted a new show, Getaway Car hosted by Dermot O'Dreary, coming early next year, and the return of Strictly in September. 'Our content is distinctive,' added Cohen. 'But we will always aim to make the popular good and the good popular.'

Danny Cohen has also said he is 'truly sorry' Sir Tom Jones got the hump over the way he was dropped from The Voice. Sir Tom claimed that he was given 'no idea' and 'no warning' that he would not be returning to the BBC talent show. The singer was a judge for the first four series of The Voice, but will be replaced by Boy George for the forthcoming series five. 'I've got huge respect for Tom and I'm truly sorry he's upset, because I am a big fan of his,' said Cohen. 'I think he's a gentleman, I think he's an extraordinary figure in music and you'll have seen the huge respect that all of the artists have had for him on The Voice throughout.' Cohen added that he was 'excited' about the new-look panel, which will feature George and Paloma Faith alongside Ricky Wilson and will.he.is when the show returns in September. 'These things happen over time,' said Cohen, 'but I would never would want Tom to be upset and I am sorry that's the case.' Cohen would not comment on whether he could see the singer returning to The Voice coaching panel for a later series, in a similar fashion to Cheryl Fernandez-Versini's The X Factor return. However he added: 'I'd like him to go out on the BBC this year in something else. I hope he's back on the BBC very soon, I really do.'

The BBC missed out on an opportunity to secure new Top Gear presenter Chris Evans on an exclusive deal after Channel Four signed him first. Danny Cohen admitted this week that he was 'surprised' when Evans committed to front a new series of his Channel Four show, TFI Friday. Channel Four signed up Evans to a full series as soon as it became clear that a one-off anniversary special of TFI Friday, broadcast on 12 June, had been a massive hit with viewers with an overnight audience of nearly four million punters. By the time the BBC announced on 16 June that Evans would succeed Jezza Clarkson on BBC2's Top Gear, the Channel Four deal had already been done, according to the Gruniad Morning Star quoting anonymous - and, therefore, probably fictitious - 'industry insiders.' It meant that the BBC was unable to insist Evans focus solely on Top Gear. The new run of TFI Friday, due to be broadcast on Channel Four in the autumn, will also be two episodes longer than previously thought, a ten-part run. Alleged Channel Four 'insiders' are allegedly 'hopeful', if it is a hit, that it will return for more series in the future. Cohen said earlier this week that he was 'a little bit surprised' when Evans signed up for a full series of TFI Friday. 'He's made a commitment but after he's finished [TFI Friday] he will be solely focused on Top Gear from the new year. He is working on it all the time,' Cohen said on Tuesday. He said Evans's enthusiasm for Top Gear was 'absolutely immense' and added that it would 'not conflict' with his Radio 2 breakfast show. The last time Evans presented both TFI Friday and a daily radio breakfast show for the BBC, in the late 1990s, he walked out on Radio 1 after it refused his request to take Fridays off to concentrate on the Channel Four show. Cohen said: 'He has got more energy than anyone I have ever met. I think he will manage fine.'

Rafe Spall will lead the cast of ITV's one-off film about paranormal investigator Harry Price. The actor will star as the real-life sceptic in the two-hour paranormal thriller Harry Price: Ghost Hunter. Set in 1920s London, the drama will delve into the life and career of the investigator, who studied paranormal and supernatural claims. On his casting, Rafe said: 'I'm delighted to be portraying Harry Price for ITV. It's a fantastic piece of history that has mass appeal and I can't wait to start filming.' Harry Price: Ghost Hunter will be produced by Bentley Productions, and will be broadcast on ITV in 2016. Filming will begin in London next month.

The BBC has revealed it wanted to make royal drama The Crown - written by Peter Morgan - but 'couldn't compete' with the amount of cash Netflix was prepared to pay for it. Danny Cohen called the series 'a classic BBC subject' but said that they couldn't match the US streaming service's budget, 'even though we would have loved to have been a co-producer with Netflix on it.' Netflix is rumoured to be spending one hundred million smackers on the drama, directed by Stephen Daldry, which will document the Queen's life since 1947 over six series, and scheduled to be broadcast in 2016. Season one of the drama is being filmed in Cambridgeshire at the moment, with Claire Foy playing the Queen and former Doctor Matt Smith as the Duke of Edinburgh. But Cohen said there were 'no hard feelings' towards Netflix. 'I understand their model - they want global rights to put it on all their services,' he said. 'They're really good at what they do and they've got very ambitious plans to give themselves global scale in a short space of time. You've got to respect that.'
Poldark is definitely coming back to the BBC for a second series - no surprise, since it was BBC1's major drama hit of early 2015. But rumours - not from anybody that you'd trust as far as you can spit, admittedly - that the BBC has renewed its Cornish period drama through until 2020 are, it would seem, just that - rumours. Though media reports claimed that Poldark had been re-commissioned for a further five series, a BBC spokesperson has told the Digital Spy website that there is 'no truth' to such claims. The second series is expected to run for ten episodes, two more than the first. The debut series adapted two of Winston Graham's original novels, leaving ten more Poldark books to be tackled - so the show certainly doesn't lack for source material. 'It is impossible to predict these things, [but] it does continue, the books are there,' Aidan Turner said back in April.
Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer's - really rather good - sitcom House Of Fools has been cancelled by the BBC. The broadcaster confirmed that the comedy won't be returning to BBC2, following the conclusion of its second series in March. A spokeswoman told the Radio Times: 'BBC2 and BBC Comedy would like to thank Vic, Bob, [producer] Lisa Clark and everyone else involved in making House Of Fools, but after two fantastically inventive series the show won't be returning.' It is thought that it was the comedy's somewhat underwhelming ratings which led to its cancellation. The first episode attracted an audience of 1.27 million in 2014, but figures quickly fell below the million mark. The second series averaged around one million viewers per episode, but that, seemingly, wasn't enough to get a renewal.
Broadchurch's Olivia Colman will return to comedy in Flowers, a new 'darkly humorous' Channel Four series which aims to 'challenge the traditional sitcom.' Whatever the fek that means. Colly, who came to prominence in Peep Show, and has since appeared in comedies Rev and Twenty Twelve, is probably best known for her dramatic roles in BBC1's The Accused and ITV's Broadchurch. She is due to appear in a third series of the thriller. She will play a music teacher called Deborah in Flowers, opposite The Mighty Boosh and Nathan Barley actor Julian Barratt, who takes the role of Maurice, her husband. The show, which began life as a pilot last year, features the eccentric Flowers family and their 'struggle to live harmoniously.' Deborah suspects that Maurice, an author, is having a homosexual affair with his Japanese illustrator, but tries to maintain a seemingly normal family life in the crumbling old house that is also home to her odd mother and dysfunctional twenty five-year-old twins, Amy and Donald, who are battling over the affections of the same girl. Sounds, from that description, about as funny as a boil on the knob frankly. But, you know, often the most unlikely successes have the worst imaginable premise so we'll have to see. Time will tell, it usually does. Channel Four promises that Flowers will also feature 'strange neighbours' and will swing from 'the magical to the mundane to the downright mad.' Daniel Rigby, winner of the 2011 best actor BAFTA for his acclaimed role in Eric & Ernie before his career got stalled by those sodding awful BT adverts, will play Donald, and Friday Night Dinner's Sophia di Martino takes the role of Amy. Flowers is written by Will Sharpe who also appears in his six-part comedy series as the illustrator, Shun. 'This is a comedy about people who are struggling and the situations that can arise when you refuse to admit there are problems,' said Sharpe. 'The word dysfunctional doesn't even come close to describing quite how brilliantly peculiar the Flowers family are,' said Channel Four's deputy head of comedy, Nerys Evans. The show is due to be broadcast next year and is being made in association with the US broadcaster NBC Universal's new comedy-based video on demand platform. Channel Four has also announced that early next year it will broadcast explorer and former paratrooper Levison Wood's latest challenge – walking the entire length of the Himalayas. It follows the success of his 2013 trek along the Nile. Wood has already begun his seventeen hundred-mile Himalayan walk, which started in Afghanistan. Last week he had to call a temporary halt after it was widely reported that he broke his arm when the taxi taking him and his guide to their overnight accommodation crashed off the road. Continuing the theme of adventure, Channel Four also revealed that it is to show an animated version of Michael Rosen's book We're Going On A Bear Hunt next Christmas – to be made by the same company that produced the hugely popular The Snowman & The Snowdog. Channel Four's chief creative officer, Jay Hunt, said: 'Going On A Bear Hunt is magic, a book that will be brought alive for a whole new audience.'

The X Factor has taken the unprecedented step of releasing its full schedule for series twelve in hope of dodging an 'unavoidable clash' with Strictly Come Dancing. In the wake of ITV director Peter Fincham publicly asking the BBC to prevent head-to-head clashes, a full list of dates and times for The X Factor was released on Wednesday. The first major clash between ITV and the BBC could come on Saturday 5 September when an X Factor audition show is scheduled for 8.15pm and Strictly Come Dancing lines up a musical performance from Jess Glynne on its own series thirteen opener. During its Boot Camp rounds late in September, The X Factor will take a month-long break from its Saturday shows. Beginning on 20 September with round one of Boot Camp, The X Factor broadcasts a string of five consecutive 'Super Sunday' episodes at 7pm - at least in part because of ITV's coverage of the Rugby World Cup.

BBC4 will offer viewers a real-time Rudolph's eye-view of a two-hour sleigh ride through Lapland, its latest 'slow TV' offering after half a million viewers watched the dawn chorus and an uninterrupted, commentary free canal boat trip. The reindeer ride through Lapland's frozen wilderness will be broadcast on BBC4 at Christmas, a two-hour fixed-rig film in which the only noise will be the crunching of snow and the tinkle of the reindeer bell. And the tinkle of the reindeer having a tinkle. Probably. The Sleigh Ride will be one of two new documentaries in the 'slow'TV” tradition alongside the ninety-minute documentary The Oak Tree. The channel’s first slow TV season of 'deliberately unhurried' programmes was broadcast in May, intended as an antidote to the digital age and reflecting a recent Scandinavian TV phenomenon that can be traced back to the earliest days of film. Ridiculed by some of the BBC's regular enemies with a sick agenda, the programmes, nevertheless, pulled in average ratings above the normal for their time slots. The BBC's Director of Television, Danny Cohen, said: 'We want BBC4 to be more and more characterful with a slightly eccentric quality to make shows no one else would make. We have been struck by the audience's passion for quite slow television.' Cohen declined to say whether the Lapland documentary would culminate in a visit to the country's most famous resident. 'I can't give away the ending,' he said. 'We are going to leave that for viewers on the night.' Slow TV became a hit in Norway in 2009 with a seven-hour film about a train journey, followed by a twelve-hour knitting marathon and the live broadcast of a five-day boat trip watched by more than half of the country's population. The Lumiere brothers did a similar thing, in shorter form, at the turn of the century, a tradition which was continued with the BBC's 'potter's wheel' interlude film, among others, in the 1950s. The BBC said that The Sleigh Ride would give a 'unique point-of-view of a Sami reindeer herder travelling across the terrain in real time' taking in the 'awe-inspiring beauty of a white wonderland; with the possibility of spotting a wild moose. Or, even two.

A man who shot two journalists on live TV in the US state of Virginia died after shooting himself, police have said. Vester Lee Flanagan, an ex-employee of WDBJ7 TV known professionally as Bryce Williams, was in a car that was surrounded by police following a chase. WDBJ7 TV reporter Alison Parker and her cameraman Adam Ward were killed some seven hours earlier during a live interview in the town of Moneta. The gunman later uploaded a video of himself opening fire at close range. The White House has urged Congress to, rapidly, pass gun control laws in the wake of this latest shooting. Not that they will, of course. Virginia State Police said that the suspect's vehicle had been spotted on the Interstate Sixty Six highway following the shooting and crashed off the road after being pursued by officers. 'Troopers approached the vehicle and found the male driver suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,' the force said in a statement. He later died in hospital, a police spokesman added. The Twitter account of Flanagan suggested that he had held a grudge against WDBJ7 and Ward and Parker, specifically. Police said that his 'utterances' on social media the previous evening had suggested the attack was pre-planned. Flanagan had been told by his bosses to seek medical help after colleagues at the television station where he worked with his victims repeatedly complained about him, according to memos 'obtained' by the Gruniad Morning Star. The attack on the journalists took place at a large shopping centre, Bridgewater Plaza, near Smith Mountain Lake. Parker was starting a breakfast TV interview about tourism at the shopping centre when suddenly shots could be heard, the camera spun and dropped to the ground. The footage then captured what appeared to be a fleeting image of the gunman, who was wearing black trousers and a blue top - and holding a handgun. The woman who was being interviewed, Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, survived the attack and is in a stable condition in hospital following surgery. Bryce Williams's Twitter and Facebook pages, both of which have now been suspended, subsequently showed video shot by the gunman. They depicted him raising a handgun, training it on the trio, and opening fire fourteen times. The TV station's own footage of the attack recorded only eight of the shots. Staff at the TV station, which continued broadcasting after the live report, expressed shock and sadness at the loss of their colleagues. 'Alison and Adam died this morning at 06:45 shortly after the shots rang out,' the station's president and general manager, Jeffrey Marks, announced on-air. 'I cannot tell you how much they were loved by the WDBJ7 team. Our hearts are broken.' He described the suspected killer as 'an unhappy man' who was 'difficult to work with' and had to be escorted from the TV station by police officers when he was dismissed. A complaint filed against the station with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by the suspect had been dismissed, Marks added.

It has been more than ten years since Cold Feet left our screens, but ITV could be about to revive the show for a new series if media reports are to be believed. Because, it would seem, ITV wouldn't know 'an original idea' if it smacked them, geet hard, in the mush with a wet kipper. The cast of the quite amusing if a bit over-rated comedy drama, including James Nesbitt, Hermione Norris and John Thomson, are all thought to be in talks with the channel about reprising their roles. Fay Ripley, Robert Bathurst and twisty-faced Helen Baxendale are also tipped to return should the revival be given the green light, according to the Mirra. Rumours of a potential reunion series first surfaced in July, but it is now looking increasingly likely that ITV will bring the series back in its traditional Sunday night slot, filling the void that will be left when Downton Abbey concludes later this year.
Major congratulations to the BBC commentary team at the World Athletics Championship on Tuesday for managing to get through an entire Long Jump competition containing some bloke called Wang without resorting to any obvious double entendre. Until the very end when Steve Backley said 'Wang's bronze is massive for China.' Well, clearly. The competition was, of course, won by the very excellent Greg Rutherford.
Channel Five is to broadcast US magic show Penn & Teller: Fool Us In Vegas, hosted by Jonathan Ross. The show, which is filmed at the Penn & Teller Theatre at the Rio in Las Vegas and is broadcast on the CW network in America, sees the illusionists trying to figure out tricks performed by magicians from around the world. A previous version of the show was previously broadcast on ITV in 2011, and this blogger rather enjoyed it but it was axed after one series. It was broadcast by The CW last year and after decent ratings the network ordered a second series which is currently on-air. A third season has also been commissioned. 'The public's appetite for this magical duo has never abated,' said Channel Five's Head of Acquisitions, Katie Keenan. 'Pair them with Jonathan Ross in a glamorous Vegas setting and you have event TV at its best.' And, a Daily Scum Mail campaign of hate waiting in the wings, too. One supposes.

John Kettley, a former BBC weather presenter, says that the Met Office lost its weather forecasting contract with the corporation because it wanted too much money. Kettley, a weather forecaster in the 1980s, said that with the corporation having to cut costs as part of the licence fee settlement, there was 'an air of inevitability' that the contract would be put out to tender. 'There is no doubt about this, the Met Office will be gutted by this decision, it is a big loss in their revenue,' he said, speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Monday. 'One of the big problems over the years has been they have wanted more and more each time the contract has come up for renewal. At the same time the BBC has been squeezed by the government and who knows what is going to happen to the TV licence [fee]. In a way it was an impasse and it was perhaps something that was likely to happen anyway.' The Met Office, which has held the contract since the corporation's first radio weather bulletin in 1922, will continue to provide the BBC with severe weather warnings. The BBC will put the main contract out to tender with Dutch and New Zealand firms thought to be likely contenders. 'Other people can do forecasts,' said Kettley, who worked at the BBC for the Met Office for thirty years before leaving in 2000. 'I have my own consultancy. I forecast for different people. Other people are out there who can do similar jobs. Whether they can do it as well as the Met Office on TV and radio and the enormous commitment that is, I'm not too sure at the moment.' Kettley, made famous by the 1988 novelty record 'John Kettley Is A Weatherman' (if you missed it, don't worry, it was crap), said that the BBC has to 'get as much value as they can' from suppliers. 'Our viewers get the highest standard of weather service and that won't change,' said a BBC spokeswoman. 'We are legally required to go through an open tender process and take forward the strongest bids to make sure we secure both the best possible service and value for money for the licence fee payer.' The BBC pointed out that the graphics used during weather forecast bulletins are already supplied by another provider. The corporation has no plans for any major changes to its on-air presenting team as a result of the change in contracted supplier. A new weather forecasting company is expected to be appointed later this year.

Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch received an enthusiastic reception from a celebrity-packed audience on the official opening night of Hamlet in London. His Sherlock co-star Mark Gatiss his very self described Cumberbatch as 'magnificent. I always knew he had it in him,' Mark told the BBC. 'We're all very proud and impressed.' Cumberbatch's mum, Wanda Ventham, described him as 'a bloody good Hamlet.' Then again, she is his mum she's hardly like to to express an criticism, bless 'er! Other famous names in the audience at the Barbican on Tuesday night included Benny's Sherlock cast mates Martin Freeman and Louise Brealey, Downton Abbey actor Dan Stevens and Ray Davies of The Kinks. The modern dress production, directed by Lyndsey Turner, has been described as the fastest-selling play in British history. It sees Cumberbatch's Prince of Denmark make a number of costume changes. His clothes include a scarlet military jacket, a David Bowie T-shirt and a hoodie. Benny appears in the opening scene listening to Nat King Cole's 'Nature Boy' on an old gramophone. Also in the cast are Ciaran Hinds as Claudius, Anastasia Hille as Gertrude, Leo Bill as Horatio and Sian Brooke as Ophelia. The play has already made headlines after preview performances featured the famous 'to be or not to be' soliloquy shifted to the start of the play. It now appears in the second act.
Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May's forthcoming Amazon show is unlikely to get many viewers in the UK, Piers Morgan has forecast. And, having 'not many viewers' is something which the vile and odious oily twat Morgan knows all about, of course.

Earlier this week, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping flicked onto Sky Arts and found himself stuck in the middle of David Bowie's Serious Moonlight tour video, with no obvious means of escape. This blogger's main memory of that particular tour was when The Grand Dame Her Very Self played Wembley and Smash Hits got a lot of the pop fraternity who'd gone along to give them a soundbite or two for a double-page spread they did on the gig. So, you had various Duranies and Bananaramas and people out of Big Country wittering on about how, like 'toadally grrrrrreat' it all was. And, then there was Ian McCulloch, who'd been the biggest Bowie fan in the world for years. His comments were the sound of a bitter and disillusioned man: 'I didn't like the suit, for a start because it was crap!'
       Still, it could have been worse.
       And, indeed, for the rest of the 1980s, it was.
And now ...
It's always so entertaining to pick up the newspaper (well, if you can call the Metro 'a newsapaper', which is probably pushing the definition of what a newspaper actually is) and read a letter from some self-imagined morally superior twonk sneering at the upset - real or imagined - of others. Natalie Booth herself isn't going 'back to school on Monday' one imagines, dear blog reader. More likely attending the Job Centre.
Just to clarity, this blogger is a fifty one year old chap whose idea of a good 'boy-band' is The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them). Keith Telly Topping just really dislikes sneering, in all its forms. So, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day here's the work of another early-twentysomething boy-band who were, in their time, sneered at by 'serious' types. As some Nostradamus of no importance in the New Statesmen confidently stated late in 1963, 'They are probably just about to begin their slow descent: the moment when someone thinks of making a film with a pop idol normally marks the peak of his curve. In twenty nine years' time nothing of them will survive.' What do you predict for an encore, mate? 'The Titanic? That'll never sink...'