Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thy Fearful Bigotry

Web-users on sites such as Twitter and Facebook have reacted with fury to columnist Jan Moir's sordid and hateful comments on the late Stephen Gately published in yesterday's Daily Mail. Moir casually linked Gately's 'strange and lonely death' to the fact that he was gay stating: 'As a gay rights champion, I am sure he would want to set an example to any impressionable young men who may want to emulate what they might see as his glamorous routine. For once again, under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see.' Nice. By 3pm the article had attracted over five hundred comments on the Mail's website - almost all of them heavily critical of the article's spectacularly nasty, spiteful, crowing tone and thick innuendo. And, in particular, critical of a line in the piece in which Moir appears to suggest that Mr Gately's mother is deluded because she believes her son's death was due to a previously undiscovered heart condition. Moir's name, meanwhile, was getting more hits than 'Britain' on real-time Twitter mapping tool Trendsmap and a Facebook page was soon set up asking the Daily Mail to 'retract Jan Moir's hateful, homophobic article.' In addition this page also provided telephone numbers for members of the public to contact brands with adverts appearing alongside Moir's piece on the Mail website and express their displeasure. It appears to have scored an early victory as Marks & Spencer are said to have asked the newspaper to move an advert which appeared alongside the online version of the article. A spokesman said the company 'does not tolerate any form of discrimination. We have asked the Daily Mail to move our advertisement away from the article.' Nestlé, which also had an advert for its Nescafe brand running alongside Moir's column, said that the comments made by Moir were a breach of the Swiss company's code for 'mutual respect and tolerance. Nestlé has no influence on the editorial content of the publications in which it advertises. The views expressed in the article are from the author and are not shared by Nestlé,' said a spokeswoman. Other journalists and celebrities were also soon weighing in. At The Times, Caitlin Moran called the article 'vile.' Charlie Brooker's take on the subject was that Moir's article 'dances on Gately's grave.' As one might except, Moir's defence was, essentially, that she had not intended to upset anyone, that she is not homophobic and that it is 'mischievous' to suggest her article had any homophobic undertones. The Mail itself, in a very carefully worded statement concerning the withdrawal of advertising, spoke with some apparent irritation of 'a heavily orchestrated campaign' on the Internet over the article. The irony of this being, of course, that as Brooker noted in the Guardian: 'The Daily Mail absolutely adores it when people flock to Ofcom to complain about something [being] offensive, especially when it's something they've only learned about second-hand via an inflammatory article in a newspaper.' Orchestration, it would appear, is something that Mail only enjoys when it is doing the conducting. On Twitter, Derren Brown urged readers to 'complain where it matters,' providing a link to the Press Complaints Commission website. Stephen Fry also tweeted his thoughts on the matter: 'I gather a repulsive nobody writing in a paper no one of any decency would be seen dead with has written something loathsome and inhumane.' Indeed. As previously noted, this blogger considers that there are many good people in the world, there are some bad people and the majority of us are somewhere in the middle. We're all just trying our best to get through life in one piece and without hurting anyone else too badly in the process. But, more often than not, we don't make a very good job of it. And then there are other people who are just, quite simply, scum. Albeit it must be noted, Keith Telly Topping is somewhat taken-aback by the fact that somebody in the Daily Mail has said something borderline-homophobic (or, even if it isn't, then it's certainly horribly prejudicial) but that anybody else is actually surprised by this. That's, sort of, their raison d'être, isn't it? Still, if any From The North readers, having read Ms Moir's comments in full (and please do read them in full as Ms Moir has already stated she doesn't believe those complaining have done so), consider them sick and abhorrent and consider that she appears to have breached items one (accuracy), three (privacy), five (intrusion into grief or shock) and twelve (discrimination) of the PCC's code of practice then, here's that address again:- http://www.pcc.org.uk/. This whole sorry saga is, once again, a worthwhile reminder that whilst David Cameron - seemingly sincerely - wants his new Tory party to be an inclusive and unbigoted place free from many of the petty and ignorant prejudices that have blighted them for decades, some petty and ignorant prejudices in some of the darker corners of the right-wing of British politics are taking a very slow and meandering road to anything approaching humanity. Like I say, sadly, some people are just scum.

Jeremy Clarkson has the best job in the world, a new survey has found. Sounds about right - driving fast cars, telling Bill Oddie where to get off and being a roadie for The Who. Sounds like a nice life to me. The Top Gear presenter's post was the envy of one in three respondents of the Shell and Auto Express poll. TV chef Nigella Lawson's job was the next most coveted, followed by adventurer Bear Grylls in third. Nearly three quarters of the one thousand six hundred and twenty one people surveyed said that they are not in their dream job, with writing or working for a magazine dominating the collective career wish-list. Done that. It's not that good a gig!

Laila Rouass has predicted that her jive routine on this weekend's Strictly Come Dancing will be 'a disaster.' The actress, who topped the leaderboard last weekend, claimed that she is experiencing her 'most challenging' week in the competition so far. 'I'm finding it hard to get to grips with this jive. It's not something that I take to naturally,' she told It Takes Two. 'Seriously, I want to just cry now. Last week I was top of the leaderboard, but this week, I have a sneaky suspicion we could finish bottom. I just know there's a disaster coming... I just want to get through the routine and that's all I want to do.' Rouass and her partner, Anton Du Beke (remember him?) scored thirty four points last week for their foxtrot, which judge Craig Revel Horwood described as 'classy' and 'confident.' Speaking to Claudia Winkleman, Rouass added: 'I have been training since Monday, it's now Thursday - I don't think I'm much better. We've slowed it down three times, but I still haven't done the routine. I think we're going to go out there, I'm going to forget it and then I'm going to end up faffing around on the stage.'

The man who allegedly attacked last year's X Factor winner, Leona Lewis, had been rejected by the ITV talent show in the past, newspaper reports have alleged. According to the Sun, the latest revelation about Peter Kopwalczyk has caused speculation that he assaulted Lewis due to jealousy. His father, Tomasz, told the newspaper: 'He wants to be a singer. He went along and queued at X Factor. How far he got with it? Nowhere.' So did lots of other people, mate. But, by and large, they didn't resort to punching somebody out over it. No matter how tempting that might seemed at the time, particularly if you've got Simon Cowell in your sights. Lewis is said to have been 'punched' (or 'slapped,' sources vary) by the twenty nine-year-old as she signed copies of her new book at a Waterstones store in London on Wednesday. Kopwalczyk has since been charged by police and sectioned under The Mental Health Act. Asked about his son's celebrity interests, Tomasz replied: '[Leona's] name came up along with many others. I can also think of Alesha Dixon.' In the case of the latter, mind, he was probably just passing comment on her abilities as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing. Let's face it, if they arrested everybody who'd done that, all the cells in the country would be full. However, Kopwalczyk's father dismissed suggestions that his son was 'obsessed' with Lewis before the incident.

X Factor producers, meanwhile, have been forced to admit that the show's team create banners for the studio audience to hold each week. Supporters in the crowd are regularly seen waving signs which contain messages like 'We love Simon' and 'Stacey to win.' However, it has now emerged that none of the banners are made by genuine fans of the talent series. Show runners simply hand them out to audience members before collecting them back once the live episode is over, the Sun reports. The X Factor's warm-up man reportedly told Sunday's audience: 'We need to collect all the banners at the end of the show so we can re-use them next week. If you see the one you are holding now on TV, you can tell everyone you held that banner.' A source commented: 'We couldn't believe it. We thought people had genuinely made their own banners but it seems people just get them so they can be seen on TV.' An X Factor spokesman confirmed: 'The runners on the show make the banners. We can't have loads of people bringing banners down - they're just too bulky.' And, possibly, mis-spelled.

Cheryl Cole has reportedly banned her friends and family from the X Factor audience when she performs live this Sunday. The judge is due to sing her solo single 'Fight For This Love.' However, she explained: 'The girls are itching to come down to support me when I perform but I kind of don't want them to - because it is more scary.' It'll make a change for Ashley to be banned from something, mind you. That's normally something he acquires for others by feigning injury.

Emmerdale producers have cast a Swedish actress to play a new illegal immigrant character on the soap. Carolin Stoltz has signed up for the Yorkshire-based drama and is to appear as stowaway Olena, the Sun reports. It is thought that Olena's first scenes see her arriving in the village after sneaking on to one of the King family's haulage trucks following a business trip in France. She then meets young characters Belle Dingle (Eden Taylor-Draper) and Will Wylde (Oscar Lloyd), who attempt to hide her. An insider said: 'Olena's story about why she's run away will be revealed in the next few months. She's very grateful that the children are so kind to her but she's obviously scared and begs them not to tell anyone about her.' Olena's presence is expected to be revealed to the rest of the villagers in the New Year. She is then said to cause a stir when some residents decide to support her and others do not. Stoltz has previously had minor roles in BBC medical drama Doctors and ITV's Clash Of The Santas.

Former Footballers' Wives star Ben Price is to take over the role of Coronation Street's Nick Tilsley, it has been announced. The actor, who played Conrad Gates in the soap, will be seen in his new part for the first time this Christmas. Adam Rickitt previously appeared as Nick on and off from 1997 to 2004. Weatherfield producers announced their decision to recast the character in July this year. Nick has been tipped to immediately cause fireworks on the Street as he has a dangerous liaison with his half-brother David's (Jack P Shepherd) ex-girlfriend Tina (Michelle Keegan) following his arrival. Neither party is aware of the other's identity until they meet again on Christmas Day. Meanwhile, the returnee must also face his history with ex-wife Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson), as well as his seeing his other old partner Maria Connor (Samia Smith) again when she returns from Ireland in the New Year. Speaking of his new role, Price commented: 'I am absolutely delighted to get this part. I have been seen a couple of times for Coronation Street characters in the past few years, but I am pleased now that I didn't get those roles. I am really looking forward to stamping my own mark on the character of Nick.' As well as Footballers' Wives, Price is known for playing the role of Nathan Spencer in BBC medical drama Casualty.

Amanda Burton has joined the cast of Waterloo Road in a leading role, the BBC has confirmed. The fifty three-year-old, who previously starred in Silent Witness, begins filming next month for her role as head teacher Karen Fisher. 'I'm very excited to join Waterloo Road which is such a well-known and well-loved series,' Burton said. 'I can't wait to get started on the programme and am very much looking forward to my first day on set with the cast and crew.' The BBC's Anne Mensah added: 'Amanda is an actress of exceptional quality and enormous popularity with the audience. We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming her to Waterloo Road. We have a fantastic cast and brilliant new stories to tell as the programme continues to go from strength to strength.'

Paul O'Grady has confirmed that he will move back to ITV in 2010. The comedian is to front a new prime-time Friday night chatshow on ITV following a dispute with Channel 4 over planned budget cuts to his daily programme. O'Grady originally launched his teatime series on ITV in 2004. However, he defected to Channel 4 in January 2006 and went on to publicly criticise the way he had been treated by his former employers. Revealing the reasoning behind his latest switch, the star told the Mirror: 'My overwhelming feeling is that this is right for me now. I know that when I left ITV four years ago it was a terrible parting, daggers drawn. Hands up, I called them fit to burn. That's the way I am. My gob gets carried away with me and I regret mouthing off later. It's a bit like falling out with a mate. You lose it, tell them to bugger off and then two weeks later you've made up. I'm aware there will be accusations of hypocrisy but I've always made it clear I was referring to certain people in the old hierarchy - not the company as a whole.' O'Grady, who has suffered two heart attacks, also explained that concentrating on a weekly show will allow him to have 'more respect' for his health. His new project is expected to launch next August.

The BBC is planning a late-night spin-off of The ONE Show in which that there Adrian Chiles will chair a debate about the stories behind the week's headlines. Chiles is preparing to front a pilot of The TEN Show, in which he will be joined by a team of special guests to discuss three of the week's big stories. The show aims to tackle politics and celebrity in a light-hearted and opinionated way. The BBC is understood to be looking at a 10pm slot on BBC2, where Chiles has previously chaired The Apprentice: You're Fired.

Professor Marcus du Sautoy (Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science) and Sir David Attenborough are two of the leading science figures set to feature in the latest run of Horizon, BBC's flagship science documentary strand. This series explores topics as diverse as the search for black holes, stem cell tourism, string theory and the genetics of drinking; and will bring us some of the most interesting questions currently being explored by scientists around the world. In The Secret You, Professor Marcus du Sautoy tackles the complex subject of consciousness, gathering insights from leading academics in science, religion and philosophy to piece together what we know and believe about the concept of self. With the help of recent advances in neuroscience, du Sautoy embarks on a journey through the private universe of his mind, a unique and personal place where even time travel is possible. The results provide a fascinating insight into the science behind consciousness. At the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, he experiences an unnerving reality outside of his own body, one which raises both scientific and philosophical questions about our sense of self. And in the unlikely setting of Hollywood learns how individual neurons are dedicated to recognising individual people, such as Jennifer Aniston.

Home secretary Alan Johnson has hit out at the BBC's decision to allow BNP leader and 'plucked owl who's been fast-tracked into a management position in Gregg's,' Nick Griffin on Question Time. Speaking on Thursday night's edition of Question Time, Johnson told the host David Dimbleby that he would not personally appear alongside the BNP. The home secretary said: 'They are a white supremacist party. They are an illegally constituted party – you might like to reconsider your invitation to next week's Question Time on that basis, David.' But representatives from the Conservatives, Liberal Democrat and UK Independence Party disagreed and backed the BBC's decision. Tory shadow immigration minister Damian Green said: 'What all mainstream politicians need to do is take them [the BNP] on in argument. When you explain to people what the BNP thinks about the Ghurkas, for example, the scales fall from their eyes. You should be able to beat them in argument – they're not just disgusting, they're stupid.' Do you know, this is horrible. Keith Telly Topping mostly agrees with Alan Johnson but he agrees with the Tory as well. He is, as a consequence, feeling very conflicted. Personally, as I've already said on this subject, I'm against it. I know why the BBC are doing it - because they want to be see to be fair to all sides. But, I can't see what the difference is, idealogically, between the BNP and The National Front in the 1970s or Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists in the 1930s. Neither of whom - to be the best of my knowledge - were ever given air-time by the BBC despite the fact that, at various times in their history, they both had levels of popular support that was easily equal to that which the BNP currently enjoys. But, if Jack Straw and Bonnie Greer and the other guests next week take Nick Griffin to the cleaners - as I hope sincerely they do - then, I suppose, it could be argued the BBC has provided a public service.

The Monty Python's Flying Circus team have been honoured for their contribution to film and television during a special fortieth anniversary reunion event in New York. John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin turned up to receive the British Academy Of Film And Television Arts award with a cardboard cut-out of the sixth troupe member, the late Graham Chapman. The presentation followed a screening of a new documentary chronicling the troupe's work, titled Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut). According to Reuters, the Pythons took questions from audience members at Manhattan's Ziegfield Theatre and reminisced about their careers since Monty Python's Flying Circus first aired in 1969.

Paradox is a bold, fast-paced, character-driven thriller from Clerkenwell Films for BBC Northern Ireland. This gripping five-part series for BBC1 stars Tamzin Outhwaite (The Fixer, Hotel Babylon) as Detective Inspector Rebecca Flint, who is thrown together with Space Scientist Dr Christian King when a series of rogue images are transmitted from space into his laboratory. The fragmented images appear to be of a major incident but, shockingly, they also suggest it is yet to happen. With each episode of this high-concept and intriguing series set to a relentless ticking clock, Christian, Rebecca and her team, DS Ben Holt (Mark Bonnar) and DC Callum Gada (Chiké Okonkwo), face a race against time as they only have eighteen hours to put together the clues of this most complex of jigsaw puzzles and try to prevent almost certain tragedy. The reason how, and why, these images are being transmitted to them is a mystery. Forced to intervene in the course of destiny, the underlying question posed throughout Paradox is: 'If you could see the future, would you change it?' Created and written by Lizzie Mickery (Messiah, The 39 Steps and The State Within), presumably before she'd heard what FlashForward was going to be about, Paradox is directed by Bafta award-winning Simon Cellan Jones (Generation Kill, Our Friends In The North) and Omah Madha (Law & Order: UK, Burn Up) and commissioned by Ben Stephenson and Jay Hunt. That one sounds pretty decent.

BBC3 has commissioned a new series titled Hotter Than My Daughter. The half-hour factual entertainment show, which will air over six weeks, will feature pairs of warring women who believe that their partner's dress-sense and look is affecting their relationship. Both parties will stand before a style jury, headed up by a presenter who will ultimately decide who is in the right and who is in the wrong. The 'guilty' party will then undergo a style transformation and reveal themselves to their loved one. Hopefully, not in the biblical sense. BBC commissioning editor Harry Lansdown commented: 'This is a fresh format that goes to the heart of competitive relationships, not only between mothers and daughters, but also siblings and best friends and I’m sure the makers of Snog, Marry, Avoid will make it a fun watch.' That, on the other hand, sounds about as wretched as a pimple on the testicles.

Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss has signed up for a guest stint on NBC's Mercy. According to TV Guide, the twenty seven-year-old former West Wing actress will play a cancer patient called Lucy Morton, who has lost all her hair from chemotherapy treatment. Moss begins shooting her scenes - most of which are said to be with Taylor Schilling's character Veronica - on Friday in a New Jersey hospital and her episode is slated to be broadcast on 4 November on NBC.

The father of a boy who was thought to have been carried away by a helium balloon before being found at home has denied that the incident was a media stunt. Richard Heene said he was 'appalled' at suggestions the disappearance of his son Falcon, aged six, may have been staged. Speaking live on CNN, Falcon had said he heard his family searching for him but stayed quiet because his parents 'said that we did this for a show.' Richard Heene and his wife previously appeared on reality TV show Wife Swap. TV network ABC described them as a 'storm-chasing, science-obsessed family.' The balloon drama was also played out on TV, with US networks devoting their airtime to live footage of the balloon over Colorado. The balloon landed in fields and was surrounded by rescue vehicles after a two-hour flight. But Larimer County sheriff Jim Alderden then announced that the boy had been found alive and well in a box in the attic of his family's house.

Sir Paul McCartney is to join a host of stars including Take That, Lily Allen and Muse for a one-off charity concert for Children in Need next month. Dame Shirley Bassey, Leona Lewis, Dizzee Rascal and Snow Patrol are also on the line-up for the show, organised by Gary Barlow. Radio 1's resident gobshite Chris Moyles will host the event which will take place at London's Royal Albert Hall on 12 November. Which will be after Octobeard has finished, of course. Speaking of which, it's Day Sixteen. And, it doesn't get any easier. Note, however, that Keith Telly Topping appears to be developing two-tone streaks in places. Which makes him look not unlike a ginger badger. It's not big and it's not clever, ladies and gentlemen. It's just hair.

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