Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Every Member Of Parliament Trips On Glue"

By way of a short announcement, dear blog reader. Today's blog entry is the six hundred and sixty sixth update that yer Keith Telly Topping has brought you since From The North began four years ago. Which may, or may not, be significant.

Examples of British drama including Doc Martin and Skellig are to be broadcast in Australia, following deals made by distributor DRG. Public broadcaster ABC has acquired the BBC crime drama Five Days as well as season five of ITV's Doc Martin, starring Martin Clunes, and the Sky1 fantasy drama Skellig, starring Tim Roth and John Simm. In addition, the ABC has picked up BBC Productions' six-part factual series Museum of Life and the seventeenth series of Channel 4 archaeology show Time Team.

The Panorama special The Secrets of Scientology was watched by 4.8m viewers on Tuesday night, overnight audience data has revealed. The programme, which featured reporter John Sweeney returning to investigate the Church of Scientology after his explosive examination in 2007, averaged 4.82m for BBC1 from 9pm. The Secrets of Scientology comfortably beat the 'virtually nobody's watching it now' 71 Degrees North in the 9pm hour, after the reality series managed 3.32m on ITV and one hundred and seven thousand on ITV HD.

Dita Von Teese has reportedly agreed to guest star in CSI. According to Entertainment Weekly, the burlesque performer will appear in an episode of the series early next year. The show's executive producer Carol Mendelsohn explained that she will play a femme fatale in a reference to 'the glory days of LA film noire.' She added: 'Her character is absolutely unlike what she seems. Prepare to be tantalised and tormented.' Mendelsohn also suggested that the case 'will get personal' for Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda).

Channel 4 has announced that it has commissioned two new comedy drama show. The broadcaster revealed that both of the six-part series will air next summer. Naked Apes, which will go out on Channel 4, focuses on three paramedics working in Leeds. The drama, which has been written by Excluded and An Englishman In New York author Brian Fillis, is said to explore 'love, friendship and family from the jaded perspective' of the characters Stuart, Ashley and Rachid. Meanwhile, E4 will be the home of new comedy drama Beaver Falls, which focuses on three graduates who lie about themselves to land jobs at an American summer camp. Channel 4's head of drama Camilla Campbell said: 'We're proud of our commitment to supporting the best British talent, backing innovative contemporary drama, and 2010 has been an exceptional year so far. With money freed up from the cancellation of Big Brother we are delighted that we are able to follow This Is England '86 with another new drama series for Channel 4, a further series for E4 and more to come throughout 2011. In terms of brand new originated drama, we're on track to more than double our output next year.'

The return of MasterChef: The Professionals reminds us dear blog reader that, as charming and lovely as Gregg Wallace and the great Michel Roux Jnr can be to the quaking contestants, that Monica Galetti is one really scary woman. The way she, quite literally, spat out young Charlotte's attempts at cooking a nice plate of mushrooms on Tuesday's episode was one of TV's great comedy moments of the year! And then, later on, the way that other poor lass had her sardines absolutely ripped to shreds, well, your heart bled for her. To be fair, the opening episodes have also shown up a few - sometimes very - basic flaws in the technique of many of those chefs taking part. Which is a bit worrying, frankly. I mean, come on, if you're working as a chef in a professional kitchen, you must know how to dress a chicken, surely? Mind you, watching Roux bone a Dover sole and then cooking it with a couple of mouth-watering looking prawns for the classic recipe test and, afterwards, having to follow it with 'three other blokes having a go' at the same meal was, truly, a sight to see. But, the show remains - as usual - addictive telly. If only for being the one place on the small screen where you can hear India Fisher huskily say the word 'pudding' like it's an invitation to orgasm. In Wednesday night's episode, Northumberland John and Ben the Frenchmen became the first two contestants to reach the semi-final stage. And, deservedly so from what we saw. John's starter was described by Gregg as 'fish heaven' whilst Ben's sponge-cake pud even managed to put smiles on the faces of notoriously hard-to-please critics Charles Campion and Jay Rayner. That takes some doing!

FOX drama Lone Star has, not unexpectedly, been cancelled after just two episodes, it has been revealed. Last week's opening episode drew a poor four million viewers, while the second episode on Monday night fared even worse, pulling in a meagre 3.2 million viewers. According to Deadline, FOX has decided to axe the programme with immediate effect. Its Monday night slot will now be replaced by the third season of Lie To Me, which had not been due to air until 2011. The studio has also ceased production on Lone Star, which was halfway through the filming of its sixth episode. It is not yet known what will happen to the three unbroadcast episodes. Series creator Kyle Killen recently admitted that he was 'gobsmacked' by the show's low ratings.

The Daily Lies today claimed to have 'exposed' safety fears at the three and a half million pound house occupied by The X Factor contestants. The impressively ignorant subheading suggests that 'Two foot fence will not keep out nutters' and sits well next to a picture of reporter Keir Mudie on the spot. Nutters everywhere are said to be outraged.ITV chief executive Adam Crozier has said that the broadcaster could start charging for its online content, including previews or alternate endings for Coronation Street. Speaking this week at the Royal Television Society conference in London, Crozier said that ITV had 'not invested nearly enough' in ITV.com over the years, and this would have to change very quickly. Over the next year, Crozier confirmed that ITV will review a variety of 'payment mechanisms' for viewers accessing its content on the Internet. However, he stressed that the broadcaster would 'not go down the News International route' of putting all of its online services behind a paywall. Crozier said that ITV is now considering what sort of content people would be 'prepared to pay for' online, including options for the broadcaster's biggest soap opera. 'We can start to look at what kind of things can we put online that we can charge for,' he said. 'Whether that is a richer, deeper experience for Coronation Street, for instance, with alternative endings or the back stories behind certain things, we will see. It might be previewing certain things. We need to test what people will pay for and I think the truth is that people don't really know the answer to those questions.'

Discussions between Richard Desmond and Endemol UK over acquiring the rights to Big Brother are understood to have stalled, with the Channel Five owner thought to be looking at alternatives including a new reality format from the hit show's co-creator John De Mol, according to the Gruniad Morning Star. It alleges that the negotiations have ground to a halt just as a deal was close to being signed. 'The deal was quite far down the track, it was virtually agreed and then the negotiations went cold,' said one 'source' with 'knowledge of the situation.' Well, we've all got 'knowledge of the situation,' boys. Another 'source' (whether they 'have knowledge', the Gruniad don't say) added that Channel Five had also held discussions with De Mol about buying a new format called The Golden Cage. The format, which is an observational entertainment series, is thought to have the potential to run all year round. The Golden Cage was the original concept and working title for what became Big Brother, which De Mol co-created at Endemol in the late 1990s. The name has now been revived for a different reality format made by De Mol's new production company, Talpa Media. The new format puts ten contestants in a luxury villa living the life of millionaires for an indefinite period, with no nominations or voting. Contestants either walk out or are evicted for behaviour deemed unacceptable by the producers and the last one remaining gets a large cash prize. The format ran for more than eighteen months on Dutch TV. Talpa describes The Golden Cage as 'the first reality soap. The world's first open-ended unscripted reality series.' The source did not believe that Channel Five would commission both shows and thought that a Big Brother deal may not be revived. 'Channel Four comprehensively ended Big Brother, the timing of the deal should have been done on the day it was finally done on Channel Four for publicity purposes,' said the 'source.' Whose 'knowledge' is, again, uncertain. 'But as far as I understand it negotiations failed.'

BBC2 has announced a new drama series from Oscar winner Jane Campion. The Piano director will helm Top Of The Lake, which she has written with Gerard Lee. The drama focuses on the case of a twelve-year-old girl who is discovered standing in a frozen lake, five months pregnant. The investigating detective Robin Griffin is tested when she takes on the mystery and ends up learning more about herself. The series, set in New Zealand, is described as 'a powerful and haunting story about our search for happiness in a paradise where honest work is hard to find.'

His Very Lordship Himself, Alan Sugar has dismissed comparisons between The Apprentice and The X Factor, saying that the shows are too different to compare. However, he also poked fun at Simon Cowell's talent show format, claiming that it is 'old-fashioned.' When asked which of the shows is better, Sugar joked: 'That's a no-brainer - I'm far superior to Cowell.' Sugar continued: 'It's different. Simon Cowell's got that great entertainment programme, it's an old-fashioned kind of format. It's been jazzed up nicely and it's a great show. We are completely different. We are a business programme which is also quite entertaining. It's like comparing EastEnders with Match of the Day, that's how different it is.' The reality business show, which has traditionally been screened in the spring, was delayed until after May's general election as a result of Sugar's role in the last government. Commenting on the show's autumn scheduling, Sugar said: 'It's frustrating that it got delayed for the reasons it did, and I'm quite pleased that finally it's reaching the screens. It was a bit of a mess getting mixed up with all the election stuff.'

Sky has been criticised over a promotion which offered Marks & Spencer vouchers to new subscribers after more than forty customers complained that they did not arrive as promised. The satellite broadcaster ran a series of promotions offering new customers fifty pounds worth of Marks & Spencer's vouchers when they signed up online. However, forty two people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the fairness and efficiency of the promotion, because their vouchers had not arrived 'within the designated time frame.' In response, Sky argued that 'a huge number' of customers had received their vouchers without incident, while the complainants were 'in a considerable minority.' After an investigation, the company found that heavy demand over the Christmas period had meant that certain customers did not receive their vouchers within the initial thirty-day deadline. Other vouchers were not delivered due to 'human error' at call centre level or being 'lost in the post.' Allegedly. Sky said that changes made over the last couple of months to its internal procedures had meant vouchers were now being sent to customers 'well within' the new forty five-day limit. And noted that the vouchers themselves weren't just vouchers, they were Marks & Spencer's vouchers. Beggorah. However, the ASA wasn't interested in any of that crap and criticised Sky's 'failure to cope' with the high demand over the Christmas period, as well as the instances of human error that led to some customers not receiving their vouchers in time. 'Despite the improvements Sky had incorporated in the administration of the voucher promotion, we were concerned that the terms of the offer stated that vouchers would be sent within thirty days of activating viewing, which, unfortunately, Sky had not been able to meet for a number of customers,' said the ASA. 'We concluded therefore that the offer had not been administered satisfactorily and had caused unnecessary disappointment to those consumers.' The ASA said that the promotion must not continue in its current form 'unless Sky is able to demonstrate that the offer will be fulfilled within the terms specified.'

The creator of The Wire, David Simon, has received a 'genius' grant. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chicago's John and Catherine MacArthur Foundation awarded Simon and twenty two other recipients the half a million dollar grants. The stipends will be paid to recipients over the next five years. 'With the nuance and scope of novels, Simon's recent series have explored the constraints that poverty, corruption and broken social systems place on the lives of a compelling cast of characters, each vividly realised with complicated motives, frailties and strengths,' the foundation said about Simon's work. Other winners included a stone carver and a scientist working to rescue threatened bee colonies.

Paul Römer, co-creator of Big Brother, is leaving the programme's producer Endemol after fifteen years, it has emerged. In a statement this week, Endemol confirmed that Römer would step down from his position as chief creative officer of the group to 'pursue other opportunities.' Endemol has reacted to his impending departure by creating a new group creative board that will include Endemol UK chief executive Tim Hincks, global president Marco Bassetti and North America chairman David Goldberg. The company has also promoted Iris Boelhouwer to head up its creative operations. Endemol is jointly owned by Goldman Sachs, Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset and Cyrte, the investment firm established by John De Mol who, as mentioned previously, created Big Brother with Römer. Earlier this month, the reality programme ended its decade-long run on Channel Four, but the show is still on air in more than forty countries, including the US. Römer, who joined Endemol in 1994, said: 'During my time here there has been a complete transformation of the TV and digital media landscape and Endemol has played a central role in that. Now, after fifteen incredible years, the time feels right for me to move on to new challenges.' Endemol Group chairman Ynon Kreiz praised Römer's 'outstanding track record' at Endemol and 'invaluable' contribution to the business. He added: 'This has included co-developing and launching Big Brother, the most groundbreaking format of the last decade, which continues to be a colossal hit in the major markets. This new structure leverages our top creative talent in the group and will add further focus and strength to the support we give our local creative teams around the world.'

Shooting is about to begin on a third series of BBC3's critically reviled youf sitcom Coming Of Age. Another eight episodes of the college-based alleged comedy have been commissioned for 2011, to be filmed in London from the end of October. Although hated by the vast majority of reviewers, the show attracts decent-ish ratings on BBC3, with the first series winning an average weekly reach of over one million. Mostly students. Which, frankly, says much about the state of education in this country. The Scotsman described the show 'the worst BBC3 sitcom yet,' the Radio Times called it 'depressing,' while The Sunday Times said it was 'as dispiriting as it is crude.' The new series features a new character, Robyn Crisp, to be played by twenty-year-old actress Minnie Crowe. Described as 'a bit of an oddball,' she is said to harbour 'a big secret.' In a recent BBC blog, twenty two-year-old writer Tim Dawson – said: 'I should begin by thanking everyone who watched Series Two for their wonderfully warm reaction to the show. I'm delighted it was so popular. This will be the best series of Coming of Age yet. I can't wait to make it.'

Katy Perry is swapping Sesame Street for The Simpsons. The singer has signed up to star in a special 'live action' episode of the longrunning TV comedy cartoon. Perry was due to make a cameo appearance in the hit kids' show alongside beloved character Elmo later this year, but the sketch was scrapped following a swathe of complaints from uptight parents over her 'skimpy outfit.' Now Perry has found herself a role in the more adult The Simpsons, in a Christmas episode which will see the famous family transformed into puppets. Perry will play herself in the unusual live action sequence and lead the cast in a spoof rendition of classic carol 'The Twelve Days of Christmas.' The Simpsons executive producer Al Jean confirmed the news to Entertainment Weekly magazine and poked fun at Perry's dismissal from Sesame Street. He says, 'In the wake of Elmo's terrible betrayal, The Simpsons puppets wish to announce they stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Katy Perry.'

Brothers & Sisters' executive producer David Marshall Grant has claimed that he does not expect the show to end anytime soon. The programme received a reduced episode order for the new season and some cast members have admitted that they expect the series to conclude next year. However, Grant told TV Guide that he has not heard anything about the show's future. 'I've approached the show as if it's going to go on and on,' he said. 'I take my cue from the studio and the network, and they've given me no indication - not even a hint or a heads up - that [cancellation is] a possibility.' Grant added: 'If and when I hear different, I will adjust and make sure that we take these Walkers off the air in the style that they deserve. But I have heard nothing to suggest that I should be planning for that.'

Australia's Next Top Model announced the wrong winner during the live final of its sixth series this week. Kelsey Martinovich had been crowned champion by public vote and was making an acceptance speech when presenter Sarah Murdoch interrupted her. Shaking her head and listening to her earpiece, Murdoch said: 'I'm feeling sick about this. I'm so sorry, this was a complete accident.' She then announced the real winner was eighteen-year-old Amanda Ware. 'This is what happens when you have live TV, folks,' she said. 'This is insane, insane, insane.' Martinovich, who had been under the impression she was a winner for about a minute, appeared to take the news well, saying, 'It's OK, it's an honest mistake,' as Murdoch asked: 'How could this happen?' She attempted to explain the gaffe, saying: 'The lead kept changing. It was literally down to a couple of votes. It kept going back and forwards and we ended up with Amanda as a winner.' The two contestants embraced, before Ware gave a shocked 'Thanks' to her supporters and walked the catwalk for the final time. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Martinovich was awarded twenty five thousand Australian dollars by way of apology. Ware won an eight-page spread in women's magazine Harpers Bazaar, a contract with Priscilla's modelling agency, a twenty five thousand dollar Levi's campaign, an twenty thousand dollars cash prize, a new car and a trip to New York. The show, shown in Australia on Tuesday evening, was broadcast with a live studio audience on the FOX8 pay TV channel, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Sarah Murdoch, a fashion model and TV presenter, is married to Rupert's son, Lachlan. She replaced Jodhi Meares as host of Australia's Next Top Model last year, after Meares blundered her way through the show's 2007 final, and pulled out of the 2008 broadcast with just forty eight hours' notice. Meares later told Grazia magazine she had never agreed to present a live show, adding: 'I don't aspire to handle crowds of that level.' The hugely popular Next Top Model shows, created by supermodel Tyra Banks in the US, pit aspiring models against each other. Each week, they compete for judges in a variety of photo shoots to stay in the competition, with the eventual winner receiving a cash prize and modelling contract. There are several dozen spin-offs, including series in the UK, Brazil, China, Finland and Israel.

The divine and wonderous Catherine Dent has reportedly signed up to appear in NCIS. The former Shield star will guest in at least two episodes of the show, Entertainment Weekly suggests. She is expected to play a character named Whitney Sharp who has a history with Ducky (David McCallum). Whitney is said to be an intelligent, persuasive federal agent who used to be known for spotting talent. Her episodes are currently scheduled to be broadcast in November.

The number of gay or bisexual characters appearing on network TV in the US has risen over the past year, according to research. A report by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation claims that almost four per cent of characters appearing in primetime programming during the current season are gay, lesbian or bisexual, up from three per cent the previous season. The figure breaks down to twenty three gay characters out of almost six hundred roles, according to Yahoo. The report suggests that the greatest increase is in comedy shows, citing new series S**t My Dad Says and Happy Endings as examples. HBO apparently features the highest number of gay and lesbian roles, due largely to vampire series True Blood, which has featured six gay characters. It was recently announced that the character of Teddy Montgomery on 90210 has been upgraded to series regular and is to receive a major coming out storyline in the coming season, while Glee addition Sam Evans is rumoured to become a potential boyfriend for Kurt Hummel.

Selina Scott's return to BBC television may have been blocked by senior officials who objected to her dossier on the 'malign sexism and ageism' at the corporation, according reports. Can't imagine for the life of me why. I mean, she's always been so pleasant about the Beeb, hasn't she? The former Breakfast Time presenter, who had been filling in for Moira Stuart on Chris Evans' Radio 2 breakfast show, was allegedly approached to present a programme to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of Captain Robert Scott's doomed race to the South Pole in 1911, but the move was allegedly vetoed by senior officials, according to the Daily Telegraph. 'Selina is very disappointed,' a 'friend' of the fifty nine-year-old presenter said. They don't tell us who this friend is but the fact that they are described thus suggests that it's unlikely to be anybody who actually works for the BBC. 'She has studied Captain Scott's trek and was delighted when the BBC asked her to present the documentary and she made plans to be in Antarctica throughout January.' Well, if she's bought the tickets, surely she can still go and have a holiday? 'When she was told that senior executives had stopped her from getting the job, she was very disheartened. She appreciates that her work on trying to help the BBC improve its treatment of women and older employees may have ruffled a few feathers, but she thought that, as a public service broadcaster, executives would be big enough to take the criticism on the chin. Sadly, she seems to have been mistaken.' Well, if you piss people off, Sal, you can't act surprised when they give you a taste of your own medicine back. The BBC confirmed that the former Breakfast Time presenter had been approached about the documentary, but declined to comment about why she was later overlooked. A spokesman said: 'It's too early to talk about details of a programme that hasn't yet gone into production.'

Josh Holloway has been added to the cast of the latest Mission: Impossible movie. The Lost actor will play a member to the Impossible Mission Force led by Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt, says The Hollywood Reporter. Director Brad Bird is at the helm of the fourth franchise instalment, rumoured to be titled The Mission, while returning cast-members Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg will be joined by newcomers Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton and Vladimir Mashkov.

Katherine Heigl has revealed that she was recently injured while riding horses on a Utah ranch. The actress has begun riding competitively at her twenty five-acre farm and suffered a split knee after falling from one of the animals, reports the Daily Lies. 'I have no idea what I'm doing. It's very difficult. He [the horse] is great and he wasn't trying to kill me but I just lost control and I couldn't stop him. The more upset I'd get, the faster he'd go,' she explained. 'He was running into the walls and I just leaped off of him into these iron bars and I stood there bleeding watching him go berserk and I went, "What have I done?"' Heigl went on to admit that she was unsure about continuing with riding since the incident. '[I'm] having a hard time getting back in the saddle,' she said.

Emma Thompson has stressed the importance of speaking proper English. The actress recently visited her old school where she urged students to forego using slang in order to sound more intelligent because it 'makes you sound stupid, and you're not stupid. We have to reinvest, I think, in the idea of articulacy as a form of personal human freedom and power,' she told the Radio Times. 'There is the necessity to have two languages - one that you use with your mates and the other that you need in any official capacity. Or you're going to sound like a knob.' Thompson recently revealed plans to take her ten-year-old daughter on an educational gap year after she finishes primary school.

The BBC is looking to develop a new flagship TV music programme as it seeks to move beyond calls for the return of Top of the Pops. Andy Parfitt, the Radio 1 controller who is also the BBC's head of popular music, this week once again ruled out a relaunch of the weekly chart rundown show which ran on BBC1 and – briefly – on BBC2 for forty two years until 2006. Top of the Pops still makes seasonal end of year returns and occasional specials but will not be back on a regular basis, said Parfitt, who pointed to the BBC's music festival coverage and Jools Holland's Later on BBC2 – which recently celebrated its two hundred and fiftieth show – as evidence of the corporation's commitment to music on television. However, music festival coverage is inevitably confined to the summer months and Later has only niche appeal with around one million regular viewers. Parfitt said he was looking to develop a new music format, a project that was being led by the BBC's commissioning editor of music and events, Jan Younghusband, who joined last year from Channel 4. 'We are working on it,' Parfitt told a Broadcasting Press Guild breakfast, adding that it was 'absolute rot' to say there was no music on BBC TV. 'It would be great if we could get a new popular music-based programme with a new format, a new kind of offer that really worked for the audience,' he said. 'The work is on to try and find a format but we are not trying to relaunch or reinvent Top of the Pops. That is kind of a red herring. Should we be looking for a programme? Of course we should and we are. Would it be a good thing to try and persevere and work with producers to identify a new format? Yes. That's what television does all the time. Jan Younghusband is actually leading that process and I am closely involved with that.' Parfitt said TOTP were 'four letters that bring out immediately all levels of prejudice' from people who either harped back to a golden age of television or who thought music on TV did not work any more.

Catherine Tate has dropped out of a quirky film version of the Nativity story because of a scheduling clash. Producers had listed her in the cast of Sweet Baby Jesus alongside Sharon Stone, Bette Midler and Pixie Lott. However, the deal couldn't be signed as she was scheduled to star in Alan Ayckbourn's comic play Seasons Greetings in London at the same time as the film's shooting. It has now been confirmed that she will not be in the movie. Instead, she will be appearing alongside the League of Gentlemen's Mark Gatiss, The IT Crowd's Katherine Parkinson and Shirley Ghostman creator Marc Wootton in the National Theatre production in December. Sweet Baby Jesus sets the Biblical story in Seventies America, when pregnant hippy Mary – to be played by Lott – travels to her mother's house for Christmas in Bethlehem, Maryland.

Work and relationship pressures make the mid-thirties the start of many British people's unhappiest decade, a survey suggests. Of those questioned, more people aged thirty five to forty four said that they felt lonely or depressed than in other age groups. Yeah, that sounds about right, actually. Yer Keith Telly Topping's over mid-life crisis occurred during the year he was thirty five. A messy break-up and a general - borderline clinical - depression followed over the next few months before I pulled my shit together. Not fun, ladies and gentlemen. The survey also suggested that busy parents were using Facebook and similar sites to stay in touch with children. Relationship advice charity Relate, which is behind the research, said it revealed a 'true mid-life crisis.' Of those surveyed, twenty one per cent of men and women aged thirty five to forty four said they felt lonely a lot of the time, and a similar percentage said that bad relationships, either at work or home, had left them feeling depressed. The same proportion said they felt closer to friends than family, and a quarter said they wished they had more time for their family.

Electra Entertainment, a UK-based IPTV service provider, has complained to media regulator Ofcom that YouView will 'damage' the UK's interactive TV sector. Electra has developed an IPTV platform, called Trove which, they state, 'brings rich media services to the TV screen.' It is currently available on Tesco-branded Freeview set-top boxes. YouView, which was formerly known as Project Canvas, will aim to upgrade the Freeview and Freesat platforms to support video on-demand and Internet services when it launches next year. However, Electra believes that 'the proposed vision, shareholder structure and aims of YouView are anti-competitive and significantly damage the UK interactive TV market.' The company said that the YouView partners - the BBC, ITV, Channel Four, Channel Five, TalkTalk, BT and Arqiva - are 'all major players' in their fields and have the potential to form 'a market monopoly for the provision of free and micro-pay TV services.' Pointing to the involvement of the licence fee-funded BBC, Electra said that YouView's software architecture is 'state-aided' and its technology standards lack transparency. The firm also claimed that YouView's estimated initial marketing budget of forty eight million pounds million is 'a major cause for concern amongst venture capitalists looking to fund competing private British businesses in this emerging broadband TV sector.' Jasper Smith, Electra's chairman, said: 'We've spent many years developing our technologies and sourcing funding for Trove to be one of the most advanced connected-TV platforms available today to accommodate the changing needs of the interactive and Internet TV industry. Whilst we welcome competition with open arms, like any business, we can only compete in a fair and open market place. The actions of the YouView partners and in particular the BBC have disrupted the normal commercial and competitive cycle of innovation, investment and potential reward that is fundamental to the development of new enterprise within the capital markets. We are urging Ofcom to act.' In response, a YouView spokeswoman said: 'It is important to consider the overall market impact of YouView, in particular the positive benefits that this will bring to the wider market and the end consumer. 'YouView will create significant new opportunities for content providers and grow the overall market for connected TV, with specific benefits for the consumer electronics market. YouView is a much-needed upgrade to DTT in the UK and critical to maintaining healthy competition and a choice of TV platforms. Without it, we will fail to offer an alternative to those people that currently cannot, or choose not to pay for TV services.' This week, YouView dismissed claims that it will harm UK IPTV businesses after a study indicated that investment in the sector has declined by more than ninety per cent since the launch of Canvas in September 2008.

An advert from ASDA offering free eye tests to people from Uruguay after England crashed out of the World Cup has been cleared by The Advertising Standards Authority. of course, dear blog readers will remember that Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda failed to spot a Frank Lampard's shot was well over the line during England's calamitous 4-1 defeat by Germany in the second round. The ASA ruled that the advert would be seen as 'banter rather than malice' by anybody with half-a-brain in their head.

A cat owner has claimed that she would never hurt an animal after she dyed her pet pussy pink with food dye. The cat, named Oi! Kitty, was taken in by the RSPCA after it was found by a concerned member of the public in Swindon last week and made the front pages of several national tabloids who carried the story claiming - with no evidence whatsoever, other than its colour - that 'sick yobs' had sprayed the animal. Explaining her decision to dye the cat, its owner Natasha Gregory, twenty two, told the Sun: 'It's my favourite colour, I love it. I've dyed my hair pink and I adore pink clothes. Turning Oi! Kitty pink seemed like a good idea. I always wanted a pink animal - a bit like my hair. After I turned her pink, I was like, "Oh, she matches my hair!"' She added: 'I read the instructions on the food colouring and there was nothing that would harm humans or animals. We eat the food the dye is used on, so I knew it wasn't toxic. The cat didn't seem to be worried and she looked lovely. I would never hurt an animal. It's just food colourant. I would never put proper dye on an animal.' The RSPCA washed the cat once but its colour only faded slightly, the Press Association reports. An officer will reportedly give Gregory advice about the consequences and hazards of dyeing animals when returning the pet. Although, to be honest, unless it's illegal to do so - which I don't think it is given that, as Ms Gregory noted, the dye used wasn't harmful to the animal - then my advice to Ms Gregory would be to tell them where to go and stick their 'advice.' On the other hand, if I was the RSPCA I would prosecute the silly woman for giving the cat such a ruddy stupid name on general principle. That's yer Keith Telly Topping, dear blog reader, harsh-but-fair. A spokesperson for sick yobs everywhere, meanwhile, has reportedly asked the Daily Scum Mail and the Sun for an apology.

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