Sunday, May 16, 2010

There Are Some Bad People On The Rise

In a carnival-style atmosphere down in Bridgetown, Barbados - and ting - England's cricket team won their first major one-day title, capturing the third annual World Twenty/20 trophy by seven wickets. And, they did it against the old enemy, Australia, which made it just that bit sweeter. Top stuff it was, too. And, yer Keith Telly Topping has to be fair, so was Sky Sports' coverage. What with David Lloyd going absolutely mental out in the Caribbean and Wardy, Athers and Nick Knight providing a bit of calm and dignified analysis back home. For all those bores who twitter on about how The Ashes should always be on terrestrial TV please remember, no terrestrial broadcaster could even be bothered to take the highlights of this tournament much less bid for the actual matches themselves. You get nowt for nowt in this world, dear blog readers. And very little for sixpence. Anyway, major congratulations to Colly and the boys for their endeavours - especially as they are now rumoured to be stuck in the West Indies unable to get a flight home because of the volcanic ash cloud.

It was inevitable, I suppose, that by the end of the first week with a new right-of-centre-whatever-the-liberals-who-are-part-of-it-might-like-to-believe government, someone in the right-wing press would be writing an over-the-top scare story about Tory plans for a bloodbath at the BBC. Step forward, then, the Sunday Express with this delightful effort. Amid the gross hyperbole and the, inevitably flowery language, however the piece actually seems to be based on remarkably little hard information. A 'secret plan' - so secret that the Sunday Express know about it, seemingly - to appoint a non-executive chairman at the BBC has been 'revealed' to the newspaper by the former Thatcher cabinet minister Lord Fowler, chairman of the influential Lords Communications Select Committee. But not, actually, a member of the government. The government themselves have confirmed absolutely nothing - this is merely Fowler speculating on what he thinks may happen. The article states 'Jeremy Hunt has indicated that the BBC Trust will not be broken up at this point and that he has no intention of tearing up the BBC charter until the next renewal discussion.' Which is not until 2016 and, therefore, a matter for the next parliament after this one. So what we have here, essentially, is a lukewarm suggestion that a non-executive chairman might reduce the highest salaries in the BBC, which the Express has somehow spun into a story about BBC 'fat cats' facing savage pay cuts. In summary: it's a Sunday Express non-story. Though, to be scrupulously fair to them, it was one that didn't mention Princess Diana once. That, in and of itself, is an achievement.And, speaking of scum right-wing newspapers causing trouble, Lord Triesman is to stand down as chairman of the Football Association as well as the England 2018 World Cup bid following what he has described as 'entrapment' by the Mail on Sunday. The newspaper article, published this morning, claimed Triesman suggested - in a secretly-taped conversation by a former aide, Melissa Jacobs - that Spain could drop its 2018 bid if rival bidder Russia helped to bribe referees at this summer's World Cup in Spain's favour. Whether Ms Jacobs was recruited by the Mail Group to obtain this information from Triesman, or whether she decided to do it herself and them sell the story to them - for, one presumes, some profit - is, at this time, unknown. As a consequence, the England 2018 bid team has grovellingly apologised to the Russian and Spanish associations as it tries to rescue any credibility for its own World Cup bid with a FIFA decision due in December. Not that apologising will do them an inch of good. The chances of England now being awarded the tournament, after the Mail's shitehawk 'exclusive', is about as likely as Triesman's old mate Gordon Brown getting a position in Raith Rovers' back four next season. The Mail on Sunday 'scoop' came just two days after former England captain David Beckham had helped the FA submit a seventeen hundred-page bid book as they try to persuade FIFA to award England host status for the 2018 World Cup. 'I have decided to resign as chairman of the FA and the 2018 Bid board,' Triesman said in a statement. 'A private conversation with someone whom I thought to be a friend was taped without my knowledge and passed to a national newspaper,' he added. 'That same friend has also chosen to greatly exaggerate the extent of our friendship. In that conversation I commentated on speculation circulating about conspiracies around the world. Those comments were never intended to be taken seriously, as indeed is the case with many private conversations. Entrapment, especially by a friend, is an unpleasant experience both for my family and me but it leaves me with no alternative but to resign.' Comment followed swiftly. 'It would have been difficult for the FA to have sacked John Terry and for Triesman to have stayed on,' said new Sports Minister Hugh Robertson. 'Nobody could pretendthis has been a good day. But the trick now is to refocus everyone's attempts on the bid. It can be done and if you concentrate on the bid's core strengths we can get over this.' So, that's the 'trick' is it, Hugh? Well, maybe if you now have a quiet word with some of your traitorous scum mates in the Scum Mail and told them they may well have just cost this country numerous millions of pounds in potential income, jobs and other spin-off benefits from holding a major sporting tournament, that would be something a neat 'trick' too. Quite apart from the damage to the FA which is likely to have been created within the FIFA corridors of power (where England are often perceived as arrogant and colonialist anyway), the world governing body's rules specifically prohibit World Cup bidders from talking about rival bids. Triesman was quoted in the article as saying: 'Spain are looking for help ... to bribe the referees.' In the tape-recorded conversation with Jacobs, Triesman also talks openly about the John Terry scandal, the governance of Premier League football clubs and criticises former Prime Minister Gordon Brown's election campaign as 'awful.' So, jolly well done Scum Mail. You've probably sold yerself a few extra newspapers today. And, scuppered any lingering chance England had of getting the 2018 World Cup. It's to be hoped that your mothers are all very proud of you.Broadly fine weather over much of the country on Saturday meant a generally low set of overnight audience ratings figures right across Saturday night. Britain's Got Talent topped the night with a whopping 9.7m although even that was over a million down on last week's audience. Doctor Who maintained its audience from the last episode with an overnight total of 6.2m (5.9m on BBC1, three hundred thousand on BBC HD), as did Casualty with 5.4m and Over the Rainbow (5.3m). ITV will be happy that The Whole Nineteen Yards' audience is holding steady at 4.3m but will, probably be very disappointed with the 3.9m that the FA Cup Final attracted. The match itself averaged 5.5m, roughly the same as last year's figure but a huge drop of over two million viewers on the 2008 final - the last that was shown on the BBC. Finally, after four weeks of rapidly - and embarrassingly - decreasing audience figures, The Prisoner appears to have bottomed out, pulling in 1.6m at 9:30 around one hundred thousand up on last week. However, before they start popping the champagne corks over at the ITV, it's probably worth remembering that it The Prisoner was beaten by CSI: New York on Five (1.8m) and Die Hard on Channel 4 (1.9m) and I'm In A Rock 'n' Roll Band on BBC2 (1.7m) to finish dead last of the five terrestrial channels. Indeed, Saturday Kitchen on BBC1 at 10am pulled higher viewing figures than The Prisoner (1.7m). And, so did Come Dine With Me. And the BBC's lunchtime news bulletin. And the Monaco Grand Prix qualifying. Yeah, it's gonna be difficult for anyone to spin that as a victory, to be honest. The drop of audience between the end of Britain's Got Talent and the start of The Prisoner saw a staggering nine million viewers switching sides. I'm surprised the National Grid could cope with the power surge.

Italian film-maker Sabina Guzzanti has received a standing ovation for her controversial account of the L'Aquila earthquake at the Cannes Film Festival. Draquila: Italy Trembles attacks Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's handling of the disaster, which left three hundred dead. It suggests the leader used the crisis to boost his personal public image after a series of sex scandals. Italy's culture minister is boycotting Cannes over the film's inclusion. Sandro Bondi says the movie is 'a propaganda film that insults the truth and the Italian people.' Speaking after the ninety-minute film's debut, Guzzanti admitted it had taken courage to speak out against the Italian government, but she thought the film had been met with a 'good reaction.' Berlusconi has pointed to the hands-on response to the crisis in L'Aquila as one of his government's biggest successes. But Guzzanti claims the politician was too busy planning last summer's G8 summit to make sure that the sixty thousand people left homeless by the earthquake were properly taken care of. Her film portrays Berlusconi as a vampire, sucking the blood out of the city. The movie acknowledges that Berlusconi pledged money for new homes to be built, but argues it is not nearly enough to re-house everyone. Meanwhile, it claims, residents have been barred from attempting to repair their own homes for safety reasons. One year on, L'Aquila is still a ghost town, its centre off-limits because the buildings are unsafe. Temporary housing for the displaced has been built far from the city at three times the projected cost. Throughout the course of the movie Guzzanti interviews survivors, who recall the nightmare they endured in the months following the 6.3 magnitude earthquake. Some of the harrowing scenes of devastation proved hard for the Cannes audience to watch - while other footage included protests turning violent. Guzzanti says it 'took some time' to convince people to speak on camera, but she added that most of the lawyers and officials who spoke were retired and 'could speak freely.' Despite the controversy the film, which was released in Italy last week, has already been a big success at the box office. It has been given added credibility by an investigation into suspected corruption linked to public contracts awarded in the wake of the disaster, which was launched in February. Guzzanti says L'Aquila residents welcomed the film when it was shown at a special screening in the main town square. 'They knew what happened but they were shocked to see it so clearly. But they are in trouble, they are really in trouble because nobody is going to rebuild this city.'

Duane Dog Chapman has said he was 'honoured' to be spoofed by the creators of South Park. The Dog The Bounty Hunter protagonist said the animated portrayal of his wife Beth as a giant pair of breasts made him 'laugh so hard. The funniest bit is when I say "Beth, mace them" and she maces everybody. It was an honour to be spoofed like that,' said the former convict, who has also been parodied in an episode of The Simpsons in which Homer becomes a bounty hunter. Chapman, who served eighteen months of a five-year jail term for being an accessory to murder in 1977, said that prison had 'turned his life around. The camaraderie is fine, they feed you for free. But there's no girls. There's none, brother. If there were girls I would have stayed,' he told the Gruniad.

Liberal Democrat activists have sent their leadership a sharp reminder not to betray the party's key promises to scrap tuition fees, protect the Human Rights Act and campaign for radical electoral reform in their coalition deal with the Conservatives on the very day that David Cameron described himself as 'a liberal conservative.' That's a contradiction in terms, Dave. For God sake somebody give this chap a dictionary so he knows what the two words mean and what the differences between the two are. Then his mate Nick can borrow it afterwards. Personally, if I want to see a couple of ex-public schoolboys jumping into a bed with each other, I'll go out and buy a Merchant-Ivory movie on DVD.

If you're in the UK and want to watch the Top Ten Goals - as chosen by ... somebody - and some other great memories of the second-best World Cup tournament ever (and the best one that England wasn't playing in!) - 1974 - then check out the BBC's beautiful little scratch-video here. Ah, the Dutch team of '74. Johan, Vim, the other Johan, the other Vim, Johnny, Arie, Rudi, Robbie ... and the other ones. Magic. The best team never to win the World Cup, particularly in that match against Brazil. I'm not sure quite how Peter The Hot Shot Lorimer's rather tame volley past a bewildered and cowardly Zaire goalie managed to get in there ahead of, for instance, one of Ralf Edström's flying headers for the Swedes. But, for certified afro'd-up Maoist-loony Paul Breitner's two screamers, that rather portly Haitain substitute jumping up and down on the touchline when his team scored against the Italians and, especially, The Cryuff Turn, my hat's off to whoever put this together. Respect, brother. You can also watch Fabio Capello's finest World Cup moment (hopefully, prior to 2010) here. It was a great World Cup, '74. With hindsight, probably not quite the magical fantasy football of 1970 for instance but, it's the first one that yer Keith Telly Topping properly remembers (I was ten that summer).

And, finally, for followers of the radio version of Top Telly Tips - you sad people(!) - a quick note for your diaries: As it's the summer and there's no local football show on BBC Newcastle, Simon is also doing a Saturday version of The Afternoon Show each week between 2pm and 6pm. The first one was on Saturday gone and, yer Keith Telly Topping was roped in to do a short piece on some of Saturday and Sunday's TV highlights - specifically, Doctor Who, Britain's Got Talent and Time Team. If you want to hear it, you can catch it here on Listen Again for the next four or five days. I'm on three hours and forty minutes in - immediately after Jimmy Ruffin and before The Killers! So, I'm back to six days a week, now. I'll be doing something similar most Saturdays between now and August.

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