Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cuts

Welcome, dear blog reader, to this week's edition of Where Have I Seen His And/Or Her Boat-Race Before? And, this time around, it concerns the - rather amusing - cameo appearance of Masi Oka in a tiny role as savant-like medical examiner in the latest episode of Hawaii Five-0. You remember him? He used to be the best thing about Heroes. You remember that? It was quite good ... for about a year. And then, really not very good at all for three further years.

We at From The North always like to ask the questions that others dare not ask. The latest one is, what the hell is wrong with the vocal chords of that girl continuity announcer of BBC1? (She used to be on BBC2 quite a lot but she seems to have been promoted recently.) It sounds as though she's got a cough-sweet stuck - sideways - in her larynx.

The BBC Trust board is understood to have considered resigning en masse earlier this week if the government had pressed ahead with a proposal to make the corporation pay for free TV licences for over-seventy fives. Which, given that the government has already said they want rid of the Trust, probably would have been greeted by cheers from the general direction of parliament. It would certainly have been greeted by cheers from the direction of this blog - I can't stand the spineless cowards, personally. In the end the government took the free over-seventy fives TV licences proposal off the table, with the BBC instead agreeing to take on other funding commitments including the World Service and S4C. Something that the Daily Torygraph, at least, is painting as a magnificent victory for the BBC. So, no obvious - sick - agenda going down there, then. However, it is understood that on Monday at a point when an impasse had been reached in the negotiations between the BBC and the government the trustees considered resigning if the corporation was forced to foot the bill for the five hundred and fifty six million pounds annual cost of free TV licences. Outgoing BBC Trust chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, declined to answer a question from the Gruniad Morning Star (another agenda-ridden bunch of tossers) about whether he and other trustees – including former ITV director of programmes David Liddiment, Patricia Hodgson, the ex-Independent Television Commission chief executive and investment banker Anthony Fry - considered resigning during the negotiations. Lyons, who announced last month that he is leaving the BBC next year, also revealed that even though the government will no longer fund the BBC World Service, it will still have a say in how it operates. Which some dear blog readers might not consider to be, exactly, cricket, given that the foreign office no longer seem to want to pay for thing. Asked by the host of Radio 4's The Media Show, Steve Hewlett, 'Did you at any point consider resigning?,' Lyons replied: 'It is not helpful to tell you what I considered.' So, that'd be a 'yes', then? He said that no 'threats' were made, adding 'negotiations are not best conducted by making threats.' Indeed. And being treated like an effing doormat and walked all over by feckless thuggish bully boys is often best aided by curling up into a little ball and whimpering 'please don't hit me anymore,' Mr Lyons, sir. And I say that as a licence fee payer. You know, one of those little people whom you are supposed to be representing the interests thereof. The discussions were 'tough' and the BBC had 'very clear red lines,' Lyons said. Asked about the BBC taking over funding for the World Service from 2014, Lyons said the agreement signed with the government in 2006 will be 'rolled forward' and decisions on the scale of operations will be made on 'the same basis as at the moment. Let's not conflate matters here. The foreign secretary has a voice on the opening of new services and closing of existing services. That doesn't sum up the whole of the decision-making,' he added. 'The government will retain these rights,' Lyons said, but insisted: 'The BBC has complete editorial freedom in this.' Except if told otherwise. When challenged that the government had undermined the independence of the BBC during its negotiations and with the settlement, Lyons replied: 'Where it's a good deal for licence-fee payers is it protects the independence of the BBC. It gives us clarity of funding and takes the discussion about the right level of licence fee out of play.' He added that 'these are exceptional circumstances for the nation as a whole,' adding that the government came to the BBC with the 'clear intention of shifting' some of its burden of welfare payments. However, he conceded: 'Obviously it's a challenging settlement for the BBC. It requires it not only to make efficiency savings to live within a flat licence fee up till the end of 2016-17.' Hewlett pointed out that the public had not been consulted about their licence fees potentially being used for services beyond the BBC's existing UK broadcasting operation. Lyons did not disagree and said the BBC Trust would now consult the public about what the future of the corporation should be in light of the flat licence fee and the requirement to make more savings. When asked if any aspect of the new licence fee settlement worried him, he responded: 'These are exceptional times. You wouldn't want to renegotiate the licence fee in this way every time.' Lyons said 'our aspiration' had always been to 'lay out our arguments,' but that 'that luxury was not available' and 'we had no choice but to negotiate.' Well, we'll never know now because you didn't even try. He added that it was 'roughly a week' since the 'government indicated it expected the BBC to shoulder some substantial burdens.' The corporation's first reaction was to 'underline the independence of the BBC' and point out that changes such as taking on picking up the bill for free licence fees for over-seventy fives, which it considered a 'welfare charge,' were contrary to the BBC's Royal Charter. Meanwhile Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, today brushed off accusations of being strong armed into an early licence fee deal, claiming the corporation pitched the idea of a multi-year agreement to the government more than a week ago. In an e-mail to BBC staff, Thompson said that the deal, which will freeze the licence fee for six years at £145.50, equivalent to a sixteen per cent funding drop in real terms, was 'realistic.' He went on: 'The idea of reaching an early multi-year settlement came from the BBC and negotiations on it began more than a week ago. Because of the work we had done for our ongoing strategy review, Putting Quality First, we were in a good position to carefully weigh the implications of the settlement and to inform the BBC Trust's final decision to accept it. Our next task is to develop detailed plans for the future based on this settlement.'

Overheard in the office today, were details on a couple of very interesting forthcoming factual strands from the BBC. In January 2011, professor Brian Cox - whose series Wonders of the Solar System was such a big criticial and commercial hit last year - looks to the heavens, exploring the skies - live - in a special TV event to be broadcast over three consecutive days on BBC2. Previously mentioned in the BBC Learning winter press release, Stargazing was announced by the BBC's Controller of Learning, Saul Nassé: 'When I was a child I was inspired to study science by Raymond Baxter on Tomorrow's World, a show I later went on to edit. I want everyone in Britain to have a similar story of how the BBC enriched their life.' Also, the rumour is that the next part of the Hands on History strand - following on from the major success of the BBC's Normans season earlier in the year - will be covering pre-history, in another season of programmes entitled The Ancients. This is, also, due to begin in early 2011 and will feature Coast's Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) presenting the fascinating-looking The History Of Ancient Britain.

The nominees in the television categories for the 2010 Writers' Guild Awards have been announced. The winners in the annual event are voted for by fellow writers. Doctor Who, Ashes To Ashes and Being Human will fight it out for the title of 'Best Television Drama Series.' Meanwhile, the shortlist for 'Best Television Comedy/Light Entertainment' recognised The Thick Of It, Peep Show and Getting On. Small Island, Occupation and Five Daughters picked up nominations for 'Best Television Short-Form Drama', while Casualty, Coronation Street and Holby City were shortlisted for 'Best Television Continuing Drama.' Elsewhere, Shaun The Sheep, Horrible Histories and Tracy Beaker Returns picked up nods in the children's television category. The winners will be announced in a ceremony on 21 November.

The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson says that he regrets stamping on an anti-war protester's sign after an outside broadcast on the News at Six. Robinson grabbed the sign, which had been in the background of his report from Westminster, and ripped it up. 'Apparently you can watch video of my sign rage in full glorious technicolour on the web,' he wrote on his blog. Yes, Nick, you can. 'I lost my temper and I regret that,' he said. 'As I explained afterwards to the protesters who disrupted my broadcast, there are many opportunities to debate whether the troops should be out of Afghanistan without the need to stick a sign on a long pole and wave it in front of a camera,' he said. Robinson added that he was 'a great believer in free speech' but that he also cared 'passionately about being able to do my job reporting and analysing one of the most important political stories for years.' After the incident, Robinson is shown telling a protester: 'I'm not remotely ashamed of myself. Why should I be ashamed of myself?'

Danny Cohen's biggest challenge running BBC1 will be freshening up its entertainment output, sources believe. Well, that and finding the money to freshen up its entertainment output, of course. Cohen's appointment has largely been welcomed within the industry, with many pointing to his strong track record of scripted and factual successes on both E4 and BBC3. But his track record in entertainment is not as strong. One BBC commissioner apparently told Broadcast magazine: 'With Skins and Inbetweeners he obviously had scripted hits at E4 as well, but pure entertainment is an area in which he'll need to prove himself. BBC1 has relied on some older shows and he hasn't had as many successes in the genre.' The channel's output could do with some tweaking, according to independent producers, with one - tragically nameless and wretchedly cowardly individual - pointing to a repetitive early evening Saturday night entertainment schedule. 'Saturday night is pretty much all dancing. You have Strictly, followed by So You Think You Can Dance, followed by Let's Dance. They need to reinvigorate the entertainment genre,' he said. Would've be a whole hell of a lot more convincing if you'd had the courage to put your name to that bit of sickening Copper's Narking, pal. You disgust me. 'I also think we're missing out on mainstream comedy - things like Only Fools And Horses and My Family. I would love to see comedy with a broader reach.' You wouldn't be a sitcom producer by any chance would you, mate? Just a wild stab in the dark there. Hey, listen Broadcast, if you're going to use anonymous sources you're going to also need to mask the agendas they have to push. Anyway, back to Danny Cohen who is already making headway it would seem: shortly after his appointment, he called BBC in-house head of entertainment and events Katie Taylor to arrange a meeting with Strictly hosts Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly. Taylor said: 'Danny understands better than anyone what the audience for BBC1 wants and, in-house, we are working to deliver that for Saturday nights and other parts of his schedule.' BBC Vision Production boss Pat Younge added: 'He's great to do business with. He understands the creative process and creative people.' The slots between The ONE Show and 9pm were described by another programme-maker as 'quite difficult to get right,' beyond EastEnders. There have been suggestions that while Jay Hunt was keen on features playing at 8pm, Cohen may come at it more from a factual perspective, along the lines of Filthy Rich And Homeless and other formatted pieces. John Willis, chief executive of Mentorn, said: 'He's got real strengths in factual production and I'm sure that will see him through. Danny is good at empowering people, so I'm sure he will lean on the best people in areas where he has less experience.'

More details have emerged of the new characters joining the regular cast of Torchwood. It was previously widely reported that the new roles will include CIA agents Rex Matheson and Esther Katusi, as well as convicted murderer and paedophile Oswald Jones. Doctor Who Magazine reports that Esther will be 'very much an optimist' and a Christian with 'a strong faith in mankind.' The character will also fall 'head-over-heels in love' with her partner, Rex. The 'dangerous and clever' Jones will also appear to 'regret his evil past' and 'is fated to become the centre of terrifying events.' A fourth regular character, Vera Juaraz, will also be introduced in the new series of ten episodes and will become caught up in the Torchwood team's mission. Casting for the characters is said to be ongoing. Series regulars John Barrowman, Eve Myles and Kai Owen will all be returning.

Neil Gaiman has revealed more details about his forthcoming Doctor Who episode. The writer confirmed to Doctor Who Magazine that the story will reference elements of the show's past. 'It all starts in void-space, with something or someone we have not seen since The War Games, and a knock on the TARDIS door,' he explained. 'The guest star is the brilliant Suranne Jones, playing someone who is beautiful and who bites. [She] might just turn out to be an old acquaintance with a new face.' Gaiman's episode is expected to be broadcast third in the next series, but he explained that the episode was originally intended to form part of Matt Smith's first season as the Doctor. 'Steven Moffat wrote me the letter telling me that they were out of money, and that because I'd written a very expensive episode they were bouncing me to episode three of the new season,' he claimed. Neil added that the move required rewrites to incorporate the character of Rory (Arthur Darvill). 'I wrote another version of it, with Rory in, because now he existed again,' he quipped.

Axed Apprentice candidate Shibby Robati has admitted that he was 'too soft' on the show. The surgeon, who was given the tin-tack by Lord Sugar last night, confessed that it was his gentle leadership approach which cost him his place in the competition. Robati said that after the contrasting project management performances of Dan Harris and Stella English in the first two weeks, he tried to find a middle ground, but claimed that he ended up losing control of his team. Robati became the third candidate fired from this year's Apprentice after leading the losing team in this week's bakery challenge. Robati's Team Apollo only made a £655.99 profit on their baked goods produce and lost out to Melissa Cohen's Team Synergy who raised £859.87 with their food sales. Robati's team ultimately paid the price for a botched deal with a hotelier where they failed to deliver the nineteen hundred items promised and were forced to pay compensation. He also didn't exactly endear himself to viewers by cracking a lame joke about The Atkins Diet which gave Dara O'Briain plenty of choice material to work with when he subsequently slaughtered a rather smug-looking Robati on You're Fired. 'We're laughing but, I'll be honest, I would have slapped you! Comedy's all about timing and five o'clock in the morning in front of a chef who was waiting [for] a thousand rolls, that's not the time to hit him with your Atkins material.' And, even better, after Robati offered the excuse that he was tired at the time: 'How much sleep would you need to realise that sixteen bread rolls was not enough? You think after another eight hours, you'd've woken up and thought "Oh, sixteen. That's a very low number when I'd promised a thousand!"' The twenty seven-year-old doctor took Paloma Vivanco and Sandeesh Samrao back into the boardroom with him, questioning their business acumen and efforts in the task. Karren Brady was quick to criticise Robati's leadership skills, describing him as acting like a 'sulky child' during pitches. However, Sugar didn't let Samrao off the hook, highlighting her poor sales figures of only sixty two pounds on the task. Joining in the attack, Robati said: 'You could have walked around with your top off attracting customers but at the end of the day it comes down to how many items you sell. I think Sandeesh essentially came along for the ride. I have to say, Lord Sugar, I do feel that she is all talk and no walk.' Nice bit of blame-shifting, mate. However, both Samrao and Vivanco ganged up on their project manager, arguing that he was the principal problem within their team. Vivanco told Robati: 'You don't have the fundamental skills that the rest of us have. I'm sorry to tell you that Shibby. You made rookie mistakes and instilled no confidence in us or the client.' Arriving at his final verdict, Sugar summarised: 'Paloma, I have some concerns that perhaps you felt a little superior, above the rest. I have to worry about people that send out the wrong messages but you will remain in the process. Shibby, you're obviously a very intelligent man because of the profession that you're in - there's no question of that - but the capacity of the factory was not taken on board. You say you're a quick learner but you didn't learn that.' In the taxi home, Robati continued to question Sugar's verdict commenting: 'I think Lord Sugar made a mistake. The facts were, I sold the most out of everyone on the task and the person who sold the least has got away scot-free. But I'll pick myself up and learn from it.' That's the way the cookie crumbles, matey boy. Or, in this case, the way the bread rolls.

Those interfering tight-arsed busybody scum the Parents Television Council have criticised members of the Glee cast for featuring in a 'sexualised' photo shoot for the cover of GQ. TMZ reports that the image, which features Dianna Agron and Lea Michelle dressed in revealing clothing alongside a grinning Cory Monteith and the title Glee Gone Wild, has been branded 'hyper-sexualised' by the PTC. The organisation said in a statement: 'It is disturbing that GQ, which is explicitly written for adult men, is sexualising the actresses who play high school-aged characters on Glee in this way. It borders on paedophilia. By authorising this kind of near-pornographic display, the creators of the programme have established their intentions on the show's direction. And it isn't good for families.' Won't somebody think of the children?! Nice use of emotive terms like 'paedophilia' there, by the way. That's something our own right-wing Christians in Search of Filth, Mediawatch could probably learn a lesson from. Tends to grab lots of headlines from the scummier and more right-wing end of the popular press, that sort of thing. Unfortunately, and not unexpectedly, in this particular case it's all of right load of utter crap. Dianna Agron, has vigorously defended the photoshoot on her blog. 'If you are hurt or these photos make you uncomfortable, it was never our intention,' she wrote. 'And if your eight-year-old has a copy of our GQ cover in hand, again I am sorry. But I would have to ask, how on earth did it get there?' Agron explained that the Glee cast are not the first cover stars to 'push the envelope' and added that there are ways for parents to control what their children see. However, she admitted that she was not entirely comfortable with the shoot, saying: 'I am twenty four-years-old. I have been a pretty tame and easy-going girl all my life. Nobody is perfect, and these photos do not represent who I am. For GQ, they asked us to play heightened versions of our school characters. A 'Hit Me Baby One More Time' version. At the time it wasn't my favourite idea, but I did not walk away. I must say, I am trying to live my life with a Sharpie marker approach. You can't erase the strokes you've made, but each step is much bolder and more deliberate. I'm moving forward from this one and, after today, putting it to rest. I am only myself, I can only be me.' TV Guide reports that GQ also released a statement responding to the criticism, saying: 'The Parents' Television Council must not be watching much TV these days and should learn to divide reality from fantasy. As often happens in Hollywood, these "kids" are in their twenties. Cory Monteith's almost thirty! I think they're old enough to do what they want.'

Christina Hendricks has said that her Mad Men character Joan is an incredible part to play. The actress told Red that the much-lauded AMC drama is the 'smartest, sexiest, most stylish show you've seen in a long, long time.' Hendricks said of her character: 'She's the ultimate sassy queen-bee secretary. An incredible character to play. In the first couple of seasons, she would do and say things that would make me go "Oh my gosh, why is she saying this? It's so mad and crazy." But now I'm really comfortable. I know she can be construed as bossy and nasty, but it just comes down to looking at what makes a woman behave like that. She justifies it because she thinks she's being helpful.' Of being described by equalities minister Lynne Featherstone as an 'absolutely fabulous' role model, Hendricks said: 'It was quite a compliment to be acknowledged like that, but it's a heavy load. It's a wonderful thing that she said that, but I'm not going to feel responsible for anyone or anything.'

Former winner Steve Brookstein has questioned the efforts of this year's X Factor vocal coaches. The series one champion,c and critic of just about everything connected with the show from the moment he, very publicly, fell out with Simon Cowell a few years back, said that the performances from Aiden Grimshaw and Cher Lloyd last week left him wondering what the production team were doing during rehearsals with the acts. 'Aiden sang a song a semi-tone too high but at least he was man enough to admit it was rubbish,' he wrote in his London 24 blog. 'Some acts over-sang, some had breathing problems and some had pitching problems. Cher is convinced she can sing when in reality she is not much better than Katie [Waissel]. I wonder who the vocal coach is and what he is actually doing to help these artists.' Brookstein also criticised the show for failing to capitalise on the dance training conducted for the first time at this year's Boot Camp. Which was really surprising as he's usually so positive about the thing. 'Unlike ousted FYD, One Direction can't dance,' he said. 'Actually, nobody left in the show can dance so what was that dancing rubbish in Boot Camp for again?' However, the singer did have praise for two of this year's acts, complimenting John Adeleye's version of 'A Song For You' and calling on fans to back Wagner Carrilho as an anti-Simon Cowell vote. 'Wagner, the lion wrestling, bongo playing sex-god with his dancers who rub their boobs every week,' he wrote. 'He now stands alone as the only joke act left to carry the flame for those opposed to the Cowell propaganda machine. I really think he could go all the way.'

ITV has reportedly ordered more episodes of DCI Banks. The channel broadcast DCI Banks: Aftermath, which starred Stephen Tompkinson, earlier this year. According to The Stage, ITV has now commissioned three more Banks adaptations from the book series by Peter Robinson. Playing With Fire, Friend Of The Devil and Cold As The Grave will each be told over two sixty-minute episodes. Tompkinson has signed up to reprise his role as the detective. Robinson said that he was 'thrilled' about the news, while ITV's director of drama commissioning Laura Mackie commented: 'DCI Banks launched really strongly and already feels like a great new addition to our roster of crime dramas. We're looking forward to bringing a full series to ITV next year.'

Channel Four and Channel Five have claimed that revenue from TV product placement will be modest, while ITV holds 'clear commercial advantage' in attracting the best deals. Yes, because they get more viewers - you hardly need to be a rocket scientist to work that out. In written evidence to the Lords Communications Committee, Channel Four warned that the potential benefits of product placement should not be 'overplayed,' reports the Daily Scum Torygraph. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport believes that placement of commercial products in British TV shows could be worth up to one hundred million pounds per year if the US market can be replicated. However, Channel Four said that the revenue would more likely be at the lower end of estimates, probably around twenty five million over the first five years. The broadcaster also warned of the potential risk of product placement shifting money away from the more lucrative advertising sources, such as sponsorship. Passed into law in February by the previous government, the new product placement rules permit recognised brands to appear in popular TV shows, such as Coronation Street and Hollyoaks. In June, Ofcom stipulated that placement of alcohol, tobacco and gambling products is not permitted, along with high fat, salt and sugar foods. There is also still a complete ban on placement in all children's television programmes. In a separate submission to the committee, Channel Five said that product placement will provide a 'modest new revenue stream' with limited impact compared to spot advertising, especially in the early years. Channel Five said that product placement is best suited to particular genres of programming, such as dramas and big entertainment formats. The broadcaster claimed that ITV will have a 'clear commercial advantage' in the market as it is best placed to invest in such genres.

The BBC has confirmed that comedy panel show Would I Lie To You? will return for a fifth series. The quiz, hosted by Rob Brydon and featuring regular team captains David Mitchell and Lee Mack, attracted an average audience of 3.15m viewers throughout the just completed fourth series. 'We are delighted to announce a new series of Would I Lie To You?,' said BBC producer Gilly Hall. 'It's a wonderfully warm, feel good show and has become an entertainment hot spot on Friday nights.' The show's creator Peter Holmes added: 'The response to the last run was amazingly positive, and it's lovely to discover that so many people have great affection for the show.'

House actress Lisa Edelstein has revealed that she is pleased with the way her character has evolved. The actress told Sky TV that Cuddy's new child and romance with House have helped to fill in her backstory. 'In the beginning of the series she really served the purpose of blocking House from doing certain things, with the occasional witty back-and-forth or flirtation,' explained Edelstein. 'But eventually you have to fill in a character's life or the audience would be dissatisfied.' However, she denied that Cuddy had changed drastically over the medical drama's seven-year run. 'Characters don't actually change on television, they [just] reveal themselves,' she claimed. 'You can't change the character, because then you change the show. Instead, you can get to know [the character] better.'

CSI's executive producer Carol Mendelsohn has reportedly sold a new crime drama to CBS. The Hollywood Reporter says that the project, which is currently untitled, is based on the Vanishing Act novels by Thomas Perry. The books focus on a young woman called Jane Whitfield who tries to hide witnesses who are in danger. Mendelsohn is working on the script deal with Medium and The 4400 writer Craig Sweeny. As well as working on CSI, Mendelsohn has previously produced shows including The Defenders and Melrose Place.

Idris Elba has claimed that British television is more violent, but generally less atypical than American shows. The Luther actor told the Wall Street Journal that crime dramas in the States are more stereotypical. 'I think we're a lot more violent and visceral in the way we depict crime,' he said. 'Our protagonists are very unconventional in a lot of ways and we tend to have antagonists who look like they wouldn't hurt a fly. It's something we're drawn to. In America, it's a little more stereotypical. A big mean guy looks like a big mean guy and a drug dealer is usually black. I think in British TV, in crime dramas especially, it's a lot more psychological.' Elba also revealed that he enjoys working on Luther, saying: 'I've never played a character like him. I lean a lot on the writing in my portrayal of this character. He's a very contradictory character. He works for the law but lives against it. So it's an interesting, complex character to play.'

Lie To Me star Tim Roth has claimed that his character Cal Lightman has evolved from the crime drama's early episodes. In an official website interview, the actor revealed that the show's producers were originally concerned the character's English accent could alienate viewers. 'The character's developed,' Roth said. 'If you go back and look at the episodes in season one, they were much more worried about his English-ness. [Whereas] when [a new production team] come on board in season two, they embraced that.' He also admitted that he enjoys playing up the quirky and comedic aspects of the role. 'A lot of actors now whisper their way through their work, heading towards their pay cheque,' he claimed. 'I find that rather boring, so I've always looked for [those] aspects of a character.'

John Barrowman is to host this year's Children In Need for BBC Scotland, it has been announced. The actor, singer and presenter will front the Children In Need Rocks Scotland concert in Glasgow, which will be broadcast as part of the national BBC1 appeal on 19 November. Barrowman, who will also perform on the evening, said: 'Working on Children In Need is always a highlight of my year. The cause is such a worthy one, and unfortunately right now the number of children in need in the UK is growing. I'm really looking forward to doing what I can to raise spirits and lots of cash.'

The BBC has revealed that BBC1 HD will launch on multiple digital TV platforms in early November. The high definition simulcast of BBC1 will become available on Freesat, Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media on 3 November. Channel numbers for each platform have not yet been confirmed. The channel will air HD versions of EastEnders, Holby City, Doctor Who and The ONE Show, as well as Strictly Come Dancing, Human Planet and Waterloo Road. The BBC also plans to transition Songs Of Praise, Casualty, Match Of The Day, A Question Of Sport and Blue Peter to the higher transmission quality in the future. The launch of BBC1 HD will bring an additional channel to Freeview HD following Five HD's failure to launch on the platform before 2012. Announcing the channel in May, head of BBC HD Danielle Nagler said: 'HD is the future of television - people who have HD have clearly told us that they want more of their licence fee-funded content in HD. I'm delighted that the HD simulcast of BBC1 will become available on satellite, on cable, and now also on Freeview's new HD service. This is a key moment for us on the journey to HD becoming the norm for all our programmes and channels.'

The Daily Star and Daily Express did not breach the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct when they paid a woman who was filmed being struck by a policeman during the G20 protests last year, the self-regulatory body has ruled. Richard Desmond's Express Newspapers titles paid Nicola Fisher for an interview in which she claimed to have been assaulted by Metropolitan police sergeant Delroy Smellie after video footage of the incident was uploaded to YouTube and handed to the Gruniad Morning Star. Although Smellie was immediately suspended following the incident, a court hearing – which began after Fisher's Express Newspaper interview was published – ruled that he acted lawfully. Fisher declined to attend the trial and give evidence against him. The PCC ruled on Tuesday that the payment was in the public interest, despite remunerations to potential witnesses in criminal trials being prohibited by its own code of conduct. In her interview with the two newspapers, Fisher described the alleged assault, which took place on 2 April 2009, as feeling 'like [she'd] been whipped by the Taliban.' Fisher enlisted the publicist Max Clifford to help sell her story to a national newspaper for around twenty six thousand pounds. The PCC investigation, which was carried out under its own volition, found that the payment to Fisher was in the public interest at the time it was paid. The behaviour of the police at the G20 demonstrations was 'a matter of intense and legitimate public discussion,' the PCC ruled, adding that Fisher's contribution – which would apparently not have been forthcoming without payment – was 'a key part of an ongoing story. Of course, concerns may be raised about the fact that Ms Fisher did not subsequently attend the trial of the officer in question,' the regulator said. 'The commission was not in a position to comment upon her personal decision not to attend, and was aware of no evidence that the necessary disclosure about the payment had been the influencing factor. Clearly, if there had been such evidence, this would have been a matter of some concern to the commission.'

The fabulous Scottish actor Graham Crowden, known for his work on British radio, film and TV has died at the age of eighty seven, his agent has confirmed. The actor is possibly best known to readers for his roles in BBC serial A Very Peculiar Practice and the sitcom Waiting for God. Crowden was allegedly offered, and turned down, the role of the Doctor in Doctor Who after the departure of Jon Pertwee - although, whether this is an urban myth or not is hard to establish - though he did, eventually, play a magnificently over-the-top eye-rolling villain, Soldeed, opposite Tom Baker in the 1979 story The Horns of Nimon. Crowden's agent Sue Grantley said that he was 'a lovely, lovely man. We will all miss him enormously,' she added. Born in Edinburgh in 1922, Crowden's career began on the stage where he had a lengthy and distinguished career. He took the role of The Player King in the original stage performance of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. He made his way into TV in the 1950s with roles in David Copperfield and The Adventures of Robin Hood. He also played the mad scientist Doctor Millar in Lindsay Anderson's Mick Travis film trilogy, If..., O Lucky Man! and Britannia Hospital. His other movies included Morgan: A Suitable Case For Treatment, The Virgin Soldiers, Percy, Jabberwocky, The Company of Wolves and, most recently, Calendar Girls. But mostly, he was a familiar face for over five decades from character roles in numerous TV series - Porridge, Callan, Dr Finlay's Casebook, Redcap, Midsomer Murders, Raffles, The Comic Strip Presents..., The Professionals and Waking the Dead, among many others. In 1974, Crowden is said to have been offered, and turned down, the lead role in Doctor Who because he did not want to commit himself to a long-running part. Between 1990 and 1994, he starred with Stephanie Cole in the BBC comedy series Waiting for God, as a sprightly resident of a retirement home. Yer Keith Telly Topping, however, will remember him best as the delightfully batty Dr Jock McCannon in Andrew Davies' cult comedy drama A Very Peculiar Practice. In 2005, Graham starred in the BBC Radio 4 sci-fi comedy Nebulous as Sir Ronald Rolands and he made his final TV appearance in 2008 as Sir John Sackville in Foyle's War. Graham is survived by Phyllida, his wife of fifty eight years, and their four children including Susan who followed her father into acting. She told the Daily Record: 'His legacy lives on. He did so much work that there's something of his on almost all the time somewhere in the world.' From The North would like to let the family know - for what it's worth - that their father's work over many years gave this blogger much enjoyment and pleasure.

The former Sex Pistols singer John Lydon is mourning the death of his step-daughter, Ari Up. Ari - whose real name was Arianna Forster - was the lead singer with the all-girl punk-reggae act The Slits. She died on Wednesday from a 'serious illness' and the death was announced on Lydon's website. Ari, who was forty eight, formed the band with Paloma Romero - better known as Palmolive - Tessa Pollitt and Viv Albertine in 1976. They were part of a music scene which was at the centre of the punk explosion and were best known for song like 'Typical Girls' and their cover of 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine', supporting The Clash on their White Riot Tour in 1977. Lydon married Ari's mother, Nora Forster a German publishing heiress in 1978. Announcing the death on johnlydon.com, a statement read: 'John and Nora have asked us to let everyone know that Nora's daughter Arianna died today after a serious illness. She will be sadly missed.' The cover of The Slits genuinely innovative debut LP, Cut - in which Ari and her band mates were photographed topless and smeared with mud - became an enduring punk image. Ari, who was born in Munich, was just fourteen when she originally formed the group. After The Slits split in 1981, she moved with her husband and twin children to jungle regions of Indonesia and Belize, living among the indigenous people. Later, they moved to Jamaica, eventually settling in Kingston. In recent years she had toured again with a reformed Slits. You can read England's Dreaming author Jon Savage's fine obituary for Ari on the Gruniad website.

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