Saturday, November 06, 2010

Everybody Out!

Torchwood creator Russell Davies has revealed more details about the upcoming fourth series, subtitled The New World. The writer told Collider that previous mini-series Children of Earth was being used as 'the template of the new Torchwood. Children of Earth left things almost format-less,' he said. 'They had no base, no authority and no mission except to survive. They're very much underground [now] and trying to survive. They've taken extreme actions. They have friends, they have enemies and they have betrayals.' He continued: 'We've got one script and very concrete storylines, so we know there are new regulars, new occasional guest stars and relatives of those characters.' Davies also confirmed that The New World would take place two years after the events of the previous series. 'Torchwood will have been off-air for two years, so I think it will feel like two years have passed,' he explained. 'The script isn't that specific about it, but I think that two-year gap feels right.' He added that plans to shoot on location in Los Angeles were 'yet to be confirmed. Any place can double up as a number of places,' he suggested. 'There will be scenes set in Washington, certainly, but we won't go to Washington to shoot.' Torchwood: The New World is expected to be broadcast on the Starz network in the US and on BBC1 in the UK next summer.

This week saw new episodes of Bones and CSI, the former after a two week break for ... you know, stuff. Both were very good - well up to the usual standards of US network TV's two best crime dramas. The Bones episode - The Bones That Weren't - concerned the murder of a former ballet dancer in which Booth and Brennan are led to suspect a group of street dancers in the crime. Meanwhile, Booth's girlfriend - the lovely Hannah - is shot whilst investigating a case of corrupt Washington police officers, leaving Booth to worry about her health. Meanwhile, CSI's Bump and Grind took a body turning up in a waste-processing facility as the starting point for a rather clever little story about identity theft.

The new BBC1 controller Danny Cohen has underlined his ambition to take risks in breaking new talent and broadcasting 'challenging programming.' Speaking for the first time since taking on his new role, Cohen said he would prepared to 'take a hit' in the ratings and feature a show at prime time which might not be universally appealing. 'I want BBC1 to continue to be Britain's most popular channel, but to get there we do not need to win in the ratings every night,' he told delegates at the Sheffield Doc Fest. 'We will experiment. Really vibrant channels find a way of making things fresh and distinctive.' However, he said there are no plans to make the channel more young skewing following his experience at BBC3. 'I'm in a new job now and I will apply myself to the dynamics of that job,' Cohen explained. Specifically, he indicated that finding a 'durable' and 'repeatable' observational documentary in the mould of Traffic Cops – with the caveat that it does not have to be 'blue lights' – would be 'massive' for the station. He said that BBC1 will look to embrace seasons of documentaries, such as BBC3's successful Adult Season, and that the 10.35pm slot - which has become a home for factual led content - would be developed. The controller, who is continuing with his BBC3 duties until a replacement is recruited, also discussed his desire to break different types of talent on the flagship channel. 'On BBC we should look for talent that's a bit older. So can we find talent who are in their fifties, sixties and seventies? You want the best people and people that are the most interesting. Thinking about the [average] age of BBC1 audience - you want that reflected back. I'm really interested in this notion of national treasures on BBC1 and I suspect that new national treasures are not going to be twenty year olds.' Cohen also talked up his multiplatform ambitions for BBC1, saying he will start work over the next 'few weeks' to strategise building a bigger online channel brand with a greater web-based community. He also took the opportunity to answer some of the criticism of his three years tenure at BBC3, including whether spending nearly one hundred million pounds a year on a youth-orientated channel is a good investment of the licence fee. This, he said, is 'a weird form of chauvinism and bias and they're simply wrong. I think some people don't like BBC3 and some people are not interested in young people. There's always been a clear sense throughout my time there that some people just resent the fact that there's this series of programmes on a channel that's not for them, and I've never been able to get my head around it,' he added.

Noel Fielding has refuted reports that he claimed Simon Amstell 'ruined' Never Mind The Buzzcocks. The Sun last week quoted him as suggesting that Mel B had to be heavily persuaded to appear on the panel show due to Amstell's perceived bitchiness. However, Fielding took to Twitter to deny the jist of the article, claiming: 'Just for the record I don't use words like "cosy" and I never said Simon ruined the Buzzcocks. He is my friend.'

Channel 4 deputy chairman Lord Puttnam has criticised the 'chilling prospect' of News Corp's proposed takeover of Sky, warning that it poses 'a genuine threat to plural, consensus-based democracy.' Speaking this week at a debate in the House Of Lords on media plurality, the film producer warned Rupert Murdoch's News Corp that the UK is 'not a banana republic.' He also claimed that Britain was 'on the edge of a slippery slope that could find us falling further and further under the influence of a US-based owner with a highly questionable interest in the benefits of a diverse and flourishing plural media in the UK.' Puttnam, who also criticised the takeover bid in September, told peers that Sky's turnover is one hundred and sixty three per cent times that of the BBC and it could rise to two hundred and twenty per cent by 2016. 'Where should we in this country seek to draw the line between information and influence?' he said. 'The scope for ensuring that news in particular can be manipulated to reflect a prejudicial viewpoint across different media is considerable, especially since if the other shareholders were driven out, News Corp would have all but untrammelled control on Sky News.' At the special debate, Lord Puttnam was supported in his views by the composer Lord Lloyd-Webber and the former BBC director general Lord Birt. Despite praising Murdoch's 'bold, buccaneering spirit,' Birt warned that Sky was 'a financial behemoth now dwarfing other players, including the BBC, financially.' He added: 'I hope the government and the regulators will resist News Corporation's desire to wholly own Sky. The opportunities that cross-subsidy, cross-promotion and the opportunities of bundling could easily see News Corporation's dominance in newspapers increase.' Lord Birt said that News Corp had already dropped BBC services to China, which were unpopular with the Communist authorities, after taking control of the satellite that broadcast them. Murdoch has apparently told the New York Times: 'The BBC was driving them nuts – it just wasn't worth it.' So, we'll add 'self-confessed appeaser of human rights abusers' to Murdoch's lengthy list of other less-than-appealing qualities, shall we? On Thursday, the business secretary Vince Cable (Lib Dem. Allegedly) ordered Ofcom to investigate News Corp's bid to acquire for the sixty one per cent of the pay-TV operator Sky which it does not already own. There has already been speculation that Sky could look to sell off its Sky News division as a way to assuage fears about news plurality and enable the deal to go through. The former Conservative cabinet minister, Lord Fowler, said that the referral to Ofcom was 'an excellent decision,' adding that he did not personally know of any party members 'unhappy with the decision.' Lord Borrie questioned why a debate was being held at all when most of their Lordships agreed that News Corp should not be permitted to buy all of BSkyB. He said that he saw the purpose of the Lords debate as serving to provide advice to Ofcom ahead of its coming media plurality investigation. Borrie continued he did not agree with the argument that, as News Corp currently owns thirty nine per cent of BSkyB owning a further sixty one per cent will make little difference. 'Legally it does [make a difference] as you move from a position of material influence to real control,' he said. Lord Myners said it was it was difficult to see the social advantages of News Corp taking full ownership of BSkyB, saying 'it will lead to a further elimination of choice. The consequences of Ofcom making the wrong decision could be deeply harmful,' said Lord Myners, a former chairman of Guardian Media Group. Then, of course, the chap went one step further and also called for a review of the BBC, which he described as a 'very dominant institution.' He said that he had witnessed the BBC 'intimidate and snuff out competition in regional news' and that he could see no reason why parts of the BBC, such as Radio1 and Radio2, remained in public ownership. What non-BBC 'regional news' your very strange Lordship? ITV effectively decided some years ago it was giving up on regional TV News service and has done everything it can do reduce its commitments to a bare minimum - as in. for instance, the ludicrous decision to close Border TV and merge it with Tyne Tees. How exactly is that the fault of the BBC who have always run regional news since the 1950s? Similarly, regional newspapers have been in decline for many years due to advertising moving from print to the Internet. Add to this the fact that many local newspaper websites are simply amateurish, it's little wonder that they are losing market share but that's hardly the BBC's fault. Once again commercial media blames its poor management and decisions on the BBC as a cheap and easy target. And, some scum (in that case Labour) politician sticking the boot in for an bit of crass point-scoring. Nice one, your Lordship. I'm sure your mother is very proud of you. 'My lords, I feel this story has a long way to run,' concluded Lord Razzall. No, seriously. That is the dude's name.

The BBC drafted in former GMTV newsreader Emma Crosby and its own director of news on air yesterday as it battled to keep a skeleton TV, radio and online news service going during the forty eight-hour strike by NUJ journalists over pension changes. Well known newsreaders including Fiona Bruce, Huw Edwards and Martha Kearney have all joined the strike along with Radio 5Live's Nicky Campbell and Gabby Logan. Helen Boaden, the director of news and a member of the BBC's executive board, filed a report for Radio 4's lunchtime news about the high court ruling that former Labour immigration minister Phil Woolas's general election victory in Oldham East had been declared void. Crosby, the former GMTV and Sky News presenter who has been doing shifts on the BBC News channel since last month, was drafted in to front the BBC1's 1pm news bulletin. And, did it very nicely as it happens. Another junior member of the news department, Chris Rogers, fronted the Six O'Clock News bulletin. The former Newsround, Sky News and ITV News journalist is normally a BBC News channel presenter. Boaden is no stranger to the airwaves as a former host of Radio 4's Woman's Hour, but it is highly unusual for a senior BBC executive – creative director Alan Yentob excepted – to appear in a presenting capacity. The former Radio 4 controller, who privately admitted to reservations about the way the dispute has been handled by management, was appointed as director of news in 2004. She is also a BBC pension scheme trustee. Earlier, Boaden declined to accept a 'BBC Pensions Robbery' leaflet offered by picketing National Union of Journalists members outside Television Centre in West London as she arrived for work. 'She's presumably in there now doing all the news programmes by herself,' Ian Pollock, chair of the NUJ London branch at the BBC, said. 'She was very pleasant – but she's still scabbing.' Speaking on the picket line outside Television Centre at lunchtime, the NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear, compared the corporation's director general, Mark Thompson, to Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi information minister at the time of the 2003 invasion. 'When Mark Thompson says that this strike is having no effect on the BBC's service, it's a bit like Comical Ali standing outside Baghdad airport saying there are no Americans in Baghdad as the troops swarm in,' Dear said. He added that he was 'delighted' with how the strike was going but said that the NUJ remained open to talks at any time. 'We would be prepared to consider working longer or paying more but not working longer and paying more and getting lower benefits at the end of it,' he said. Dear added that he was disappointed other BBC unions, including BECTU, had not voted to join the strike. He said the NUJ was ready to talk and willing to pick up the phone Monday morning to reopen negotiations. 'We believe there's a much fairer solution and are hopeful that today's demonstration will bring things back to the negotiating table.' Earlier, Thompson reiterated to BBC staff that management's improved pension proposal was 'our final offer. We can make no more changes without imposing an unacceptable burden on licence fee payers,' he wrote on a BBC blogpost. Thompson apologised to audiences for the disruption to BBC services and said the corporation was doing 'everything in our power to bring you as much as possible of our usual programming and services.' He pointed out that only the NUJ, out of five BBC unions, had rejected the revised pension offer and said its members only made up a 'very small percentage' – seventeen per cent – of the corporation's total workforce. Lucy Adams, the BBC People director, said in a BBC News channel interview that the corporation was faced, like many employers, 'with a final defined benefit pension scheme that is no longer affordable. The deficit is going to be at least one and a half billion pounds, possibly higher. While we don't know the final figure, we know it's going to be in that region. We have to start paying it off from June next year,' Adams added. She said that if the BBC did not act now, it would be 'negligent. We need to accept that pension benefits for BBC employees, like many other employees around the country, are not going to be what they were.' John McDonnell, the Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, joined the NUJ picket outside Television Centre and criticised the BBC for repeatedly resisting opportunities to settle the pension dispute. 'The BBC has wanted to attack the pension for years,' McDonnell said. Paul Mason, Newsnight's economics editor and union FoC for the show, criticised the BBC for 'systematically disparaging their own work force.' Mason suggested another solution to the pension dispute would be for the BBC to sell assets, securitise them, or spend less on programmes. 'We're sorry to the British public, who have to rely on Rupert Murdoch and Richard Desmond [for their news today],' he said. Phil Hendry, the BBC TV news FoC, also apologised to the general public. 'We're here to defend all the services you enjoy at home. Today it's ours, but you can bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow it'll be other sectors.' Earlier Radio 4's Today programme had been knocked off air and other BBC News breakfast output was hit by the strike, which began at midnight on Thursday. Regular Today features including Thought For The Day, Farming Today, sports and business updates and the paper review were replaced by an eclectic mix of repeats including Off the Page: Living Cheap, a discussion about how to live in tough times. BBC Breakfast and 5Live Breakfast made it to air, but without their regular presenters and with a reduced offering featuring extended pre-recorded packages. Outside Television Centre, where the corporation's main TV and radio programmes are based, a handful of NUJ members were manning a low-key picket line. John Humphrys and Sarah Montague, who were due to present Today, chose not to cross National Union of Journalists picket lines. Radio 4 announcer Susan Rae anchored a fifteen-minute news bulletin at the top of the hour during Today's normal running time, with repeats filling the rest of the airtime. These included Ian Hislop fronting Lord Kitchener's Image, Great Lives: Winston Churchill and The Estuary, a look at migratory birds in the Wash on the east coast. Ian Payne took over from regular 5Live Breakfast hosts Nicky Campbell and Shelagh Fogarty. BBC Breakfast is normally simulcast on the BBC News channel. On Friday it was the other way round, with regular Breakfast Friday hosts Susanna Reid and Charlie Stayt and the show's sofa set replaced by a single presenter behind the BBC News channel desk. On the BBC News channel, from 9am Simon McCoy was handling things alone instead of the usual two presenters and the rolling news network ran schedule padded out with pre-recorded packages rather than live material. Victoria Derbyshire's 10am 5Live show was running repeats of her interviews, including one from earlier this week featuring the lack of culture secretary, the vile Jeremy Hunt. Later Simon Mayo's afternoon show on 5Live was also to be replaced by repeats. Radio 3's breakfast show was also off air, while about half the BBC's forty local radio stations were operating a normal service and the rest offering core bulletins and a reduced output. Yer Keith Telly Topping's Top TV Tips didn't go out on Friday, for instance - although, rest assured dear blog reader, it wasn't a very good one anyway!

Still related to the same, story, Alan Davies has reportedly refused to guest host Danny Baker's 5Live show on Saturday morning, saying that he won't cross the picket line of striking BBC journalists. However, his decision has caused ructions after some troublemaking, malcontent commentators on Twitter who somehow managed to misinterpret (or, deliberately twist) this - seemingly conscience-based - decision as some sort of insult to Baker, who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Davies responded furiously, noting 'I'm not a journalist but I wasn't a miner or a printworker either. Every man for himself eh?'

Misfits creator Howard Overman has revealed that Jonathan Ross wants to write an episode of the show. Speaking at the launch of the second series this week, Overman explained that he currently writes all of the episodes himself. 'We tried to use other writers on the first series but it didn't really work out,' he said. 'I'd love other people to come on because writing a whole series on your own is hard work.' Talking to Ross, who was hosting the event, he said: 'We're looking at other writers. You pitched me a good idea and we're kind of hoping you'll come on and do it.' Ross joked: 'You're just using me to get to my wife [Jane Goldman], we all know that!' Overman also revealed that he would consider producing a comic book series of Misfits, joking: 'After [Jonathan] explained how much money there was in it! He was outlining to me the economics. It's something we haven't really explored. It could be a good breeding ground [for new talent] because we do struggle to find writers for the show.'

The former BBC1 controller, Jay Hunt, was accused of dropping four female presenters in their forties and fifties from Countryfile because she 'hated women' at an employment tribunal on Friday. Bit of a strong accusation, that. Hopefully the person making it has some form of evidence to back it up. Miriam O'Reilly, fifty three, is suing the broadcaster for age and sex discrimination after she and three others were axed from the show when it moved to a peak-time Sunday night slot. Michaela Strachan, Juliet Morris and Charlotte Smith were also removed from the rural affairs show ahead of its relaunch in April 2009. The BBC appointed Julia Bradbury, then thirty eight, and Matt Baker, then thirty, to present the programme. Under cross-examination at a tribunal in London, O'Reilly said Morris had agreed it was ageist for the BBC to drop the four women. 'I had a conversation with Juliet Morris. She said the decision was ageist and it was made because Jay Hunt hated women,' she added. Ah, so it's a second hand accusation. Interesting. Asked earlier whether she believed forty three-year-old Hunt, who was BBC1 controller when the Countryfile reshuffle happened last year, would have discriminated against a woman in their forties, O'Reilly replied that she did. Hunt left the BBC in September and is currently on gardening leave, before joining Channel 4 in January as chief creative officer. She is due to give evidence at the tribunal later this month. The tribunal case continues.

Billy Connolly – who has just been dumped as the face of Australian bank ING in favour of a talking orangutan – has defended his decision to do adverts, saying: 'It's good to do it, and it's good to do it well because it's acting. And when you're acting, you have to say things you disapprove of, but you take pride in doing it well.' He said that stand-ups who adhered to Bill Hicks' philosophy that being paid to endorse a product meant you were 'off the artistic roll call forever' were wrong. 'I think comics make rulebooks for themselves that they don't really need,' he said. 'If you start saying, "I'm a rebel", are you going to turn down a movie where you play a nice guy? Image is bullshit. When you start making decisions based on your image, you're in deep shit.'

Comedy writer Mike Craig – who wrote or produced more than twelve hundred TV shows during a career lasting over forty years – has died at the age of seventy five. His credits include the 1976 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special - the one featuring Elton John, Dennis Waterman and John Thaw - for which he wrote the famous sketch in which newsreader Angela Rippon broke into a high-kicking dance number. That show was the only one of the duo's BBC festive offerings not to have been written by Eddie Braben. Mike also wrote for Harry Worth, Ken Dodd, Roy Castle, Jimmy Tarbuck, Bernie Clifton and Des O'Connor in the Seventies, before becoming a BBC comedy producer, working on radio shows for the Grumbleweeds and Ken Dodd. His widow Susan wrote on her husband’s wesbite: 'His last few days were spent with his family at his side, reading to him from his books, sharing old stories and singing his favourite songs. Mike dedicated his life to making people happy and loved nothing more than to talk with people and share a laugh. Mike leaves a fantastic legacy and the number of people who continue to write to me on a daily basis, expressing their joy and thanks, are testament to that.' In 2006, Mike was diagnosed with Pick's Disease, a rare and incurable terminal illness which causes dementia. He died last week, and his funeral will take place next Tuesday. He was born in Batley, and started writing comedy in 1964, inspired by the shows he used to watch as a boy in the nearby Dewsbury Empire. He became an expert on what he called the golden age of comedy, and in later years gave talks on the subject on cruise ships. He also wrote several books on the subject. As well as his wife, he leaves two children, three stepchildren and five grandchildren.

Seven Days, the Channel 4 docusoap was a ratings flop due to a marketing 'disaster,' the show's producer said this week. Promotion for the show, which has attracted disappointing ratings since launching in September, led viewers to believe it was a reality show in the same vein as Big Brother, said Stephen Lambert, chief executive of Seven Days producer Studio Lambert. He added that he is 'immensely proud' of the production. 'Trying to understand why a show doesn't get an audience is really difficult,' he told an audience at Sheffield Doc Fest. 'Is it that there's one link in the chain that's wrong or is the whole chain wrong? In the case of Seven Days, we clearly didn't get off to the right start. I think it's one of the most interesting project I've ever been involved in and it has delivered in all respects apart from the audience.' Seven Days, which ends its Channel Four run on Tuesday, documents the lives of eighteen people living in the West London borough of Notting Hill. The eight-part series broke new ground in the reality TV genre by allowing viewers to interact directly with the on-screen characters through social media, offering advice and observations. The pre-launch buzz was that the show could provide Channel Four with a long-running replacement for Big Brother. 'In retrospect, decisions that I bought into were completely the wrong decisions. I think the marketing – which I was very much in favour of it being done, so I'm not blaming anybody – was a disaster,' he said. 'It encouraged people to think that this was a reality show so a lot of people who were expecting to see a successor to Big Brother and discovered it wasn't a successor to Big Brother, and people that would have been interested in it as a new kind of interactive documentary didn't come because they didn't realise that's what it was.' Lambert also conceded that basing the programme in Notting Hill was a mistake. 'I hadn't appreciated the intensity of people's dislike for people living in Notting Hill,' he said. 'We didn't get the right people to come and watch it, and those that did stopped watching the first one and we never got them back.' Those that did watch the show, he said, were engaged with it. 'I've been delighted by how well it's been made and very encouraged by the way in which the interactivity has worked,' Lambert added. 'I completely believe that the idea that people are being affected by social media is an idea worth trying again. That's not why the audience didn't come, they didn't even know that that's what it was about.'

A prominent US television anchorman, Keith Olbermann, was suspended this week for making donations to three Democratic candidates in this week's midterm elections, in breach of company rules. American journalistic ethics are extremely strict, barring media employees from donating to political parties or any other political involvement that might cause a conflict of interest. Although Rupert Murdoch contributed two million dollars to the Republicans and commentators from his FOX News network also made donations, papers such as the New York Times, National Public Radio and television channels such as CNN and MSNBC seek to maintain strict neutrality. Olbermann, host of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, made contributions to two Democrats standing in Arizona and the Democrat Jack Conway, fighting for a place in the US Senate in Kentucky against the Republican Rand Paul, a Tea Party favourite. Olbermann confirmed in a statement to the Politico website that he had given each of the candidates two thousand four hundred dollars, the legal maximum for donations. The MSNBC president, Phil Griffin, said in a statement: 'I became aware of Keith's political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC news policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay.' Olbermann has a contract with MSNBC until 2012. MSNBC has positioned itself in recent years as a liberal counterweight to the savagely right wing FOX News, with journalists such as Olbermann outspoken in their support of Barack Obama and the Democrats. But it still wants to be seen as adhering to journalistic standards of objectivity, and has been criticising Murdoch over his donations. Olbermann contributed to one of the Arizona candidates, Raúl Grijalva, on the same day that the Democrat appeared on his Countdown show. In his statement, Olbermann said: 'One week ago, on the night of Thursday 28 October, after a discussion with a friend about the state of politics in Arizona, I donated two thousand four hundred dollars each to the re-election campaigns of Democratic representatives Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords. I also donated the same amount to the campaign of Democratic senatorial candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky.' He added: 'I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns, nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level.' The FOX News commentator Sean Hannity, according to the Salon website, gave five thousand dollars to a political committee that supported Michele Bachmann, a Republican congresswoman and Tea Party favourite. But FOX, unlike MSNBC, sees no conflict of interest. In a sign of the strict neutrality the US media normally applies, the former editor of the Washington Post, Len Downie, famously did not even vote. Another, more recent example was a ban by NPR on staff – other than those covering the event – attending Jon Stewart's rally on the Washington Mall last weekend.

A funeral company in Poland has launched its annual calendar featuring scantily-clad women in and on its coffins. According to Metro, the 'Drop Dead Gorgeous' images have been inspired by various movies, including Reservoir Dogs, The Godfather and some James Bond films. CofaniFunebri has released raunchy calendars for several years. The September page in the 2011 calendar features a topless model straddling one of the firm's coffins. Company spokesman Bartek Lindner said: 'It has a sort of Hollywood feel with a darker edge.' However, Father Tadeusz Rybnik in Warsaw reportedly complained: 'This is simply tasteless and shocking. Death is not sexy and the connotations presented in this calendar are disturbing to say the least.' CofaniFunebri's official website also boasts several images of women in their underwear to promote the firm's three main lines of coffins and other products.

According to Heat magazine, Katie Price reportedly threw a shoe at her television while Peter Andre was performing his new single on Strictly Come Dancing. Yer Keith Telly Topping thinks that's terrible, personally. Remember, kids, shoes have soles too.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day we, actually, have a special request from my brother, Wor Colin Telly Topping. I don't know much about The Mighty Avengers other than that they were from Rugby in Warwickshire, they had a drummer, apparently, called 'Biffo' (hell, it was the sixties) and that, obviously, they took their name from the Marvel comic superteam. They were, however, managed and produced (in best mock-Phil Spector style) by Andrew Loog-Oldham which is, persumably, how they ended up on Decca and recording this rather fine early Mick Jagger and Keith Richards composition. From a period when the Glimmer Twins, inspired by John and Paul, were writing stuff for other artists but hadn't, quite, yet progressed to getting the Stones to record any of 'em. A minor chart hit in 1964 (number forty six for two weeks!) it was the band's only brush with fame, although they did release a further three singles on Decca. Including another two Mick and Keef numbers, 'Blue Turns To Grey' and '(Walking Thru' The) Sleepy City.' Since then, 'So Much In Love' has become something of a lost pop classic, its collectability aided not only by the Stones connection but also because the musical director on the single was future Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. It was a particular favourite of the late John Peel who featured it as one of his four favourite records of 1964 in his 1999 radio slot Peelenium. And, as I say, it's always been one my brother's really liked. I've got a bit of sixties vibe going this weekend, I think we might stick around Swingin' London for the next few of these.

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