Thursday, December 23, 2010

In The Bleak Midwinter

The Top Gear lads exacted their revenge, slowly and deliciously, on The Stig by using cardboard cut-outs of the racing driver for target practice during this week's episode. Presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were seen shooting at life-size models of the helmet-wearing driver on Tuesday's edition of the show as part of a 'drive-by shooting' challenge on their US road trip. It was the first new episode to be screened since The Stig's identity was revealed following a bitter legal dispute in which the BBC attempted to block the publication of Ben Collins's autobiography, which details his time as the iconic masked figure. Before Hammond's turn to shoot at the Stig doubles, the host symbolically turned his cut-outs round, explaining: '[I'm] turning him round so I can shoot him in the back, 'cos that's how it's done.' Clarkson added: 'So he'll just be having a normal day, thinking everything is going fine,' before Hammond added: 'Yeah, just seeing his mates, doing something together and then he'll be shot in the back!' Top Gear performed well above expectation on ratings terms on Tuesday night. The episode pulled in 5.41m at 8pm, despite healthy opposition from Holby City on BBC1 which, itself, had a above-average audience of over six million viewers.

Meanwhile, James May was rushed to hospital after suffering severe concussion during filming on the next episode of Top Gear to be broadcast, it has been revealed. May fell over and hit his head on a rock while trying to pull fellow host Jeremy Clarkson's car out of a ditch as part of the show's upcoming Boxing Day special in Syria. 'I stood in the line of where the tow rope went taut. I told the driver to move off and became part of a giant catapult,' May told the Sun. Clarkson described the incident as 'very worrying,' particularly since there was 'a lot of blood.' May required stitches for his head wound and was put on a drip at a local hospital. 'They gave me a brain scan but to be honest I think the Syrians were just excited to be able to use their new scanner,' May quipped. The forty seven-year-old was quick to downplay comparisons between his injury and the dragster crash that caused brain damage to co-host Richard Hammond in 2006. 'I don't want to pretend I had an accident as bad as Hammond,' May said. 'He bashed his head on the whole of Yorkshire, I just hit mine on a stone.'

If you want to get a look behind the scene on the Christmas episode of Doctor Who, check out this sneak preview of this year's Doctor Who Confidential Christmas Special, featuring Matt Smith, Michael Gambon, Katherine Jenkins, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and Steven Moffat.

Wednesday evening was our final opportunity to have a good hard poke around in Nigella Lawson's pantry for the current series. Always a pleasure, of course, especially when - in the middle of making her almost pornographic gingerbread - she suddenly announced to the audience that it was time to start 'forking the sour cream.' Yes, I had to check the spelling twice as well, dear blog reader. 'At this time of the year, my pantry becomes my grotto,' Nigella said with a sultry little lick of her fingers. Tasty. I know this girl has her knockers, but ... What? What?!

Jimmy McGovern's much-talked about (mainly by himself) but little-watched Accused finished with an overnight series average audience of just 3.72 million. That's the lowest average rating for any BBC1 drama running at 9pm in 2010. The last 9pm drama to average lower than that on the channel was Paradox in November and December 2009, which had 3.30 million. And, which was immediately cancelled. By comparison, the final series of McGovern's previous drama The Street last summer averaged 4.57 million. Seems that most viewers really don't appreciate whinging.

There's a very good piece on the continuing Vince Cable row in the Gruniad Morning Star by James Robinson here, entitled Vince Cable's own goal boosts News Corp's BSkyB bid. This neatly explores how the fiasco has, effectively handed Murdoch everything that he could have wished for. Because, let's face it, there is no way on earth that the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious Jeremy Hunt is going to put a block of News Corp's expansion plans. Not whilst there's enough room for him to get his tongue into their collective crack and have a right good lick. Go on, Jezza my son. Get in there and have a proper slurp for both your party and, of course, yourself. And, jolly well done Vince, you've really gone and done it this time. As Robinson notes at the end of his thoughtful, articulate piece, 'An alliance of UK media groups, including Guardian Media Group, which publishes the Guardian, the owners of the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror owner Trinity Mirror, had called on Cable to block the proposed takeover on plurality grounds. Yesterday the momentum built up over three months by the powerful group of companies calling on Cable to block it evaporated in almost as many hours.'

Opposition leader Ed Milimollimandy, meanwhile, has said that shadow business secretary John Denham would be writing to the Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell to seek reassurance that lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious Jeremy Hunt was 'a fit and proper person' to arbitrate on Rupert Murdoch's bid for BSkyB, given his past comments on the subject. Personally, yer Keith Telly Topping doesn't believe that the vile and odious Jeremy Hunt is a fit and proper person to wipe his own bottom but, perhaps that's just me. Denham cites comments by the vile and odious Hunt in an interview with Broadcast magazine, which is reproduced on the minister's personal website, in which he is described as 'a cheerleader' for Murdoch and says 'he [Murdoch] has probably done more to create variety and choice in British TV than any other single person.' I think John Reith might have an issue to take with you there, vile and odious Jezza, me old china.

Ofcom has dismissed more than four hundred complaints about a BBC News interview with a disabled student protester, after deciding that it did not breach broadcasting rules. The interview, aired on 13 December, saw journalist Ben Brown talk to Jody McIntyre about a film posted on YouTube of him being dragged from his wheelchair by police during the student protests in central London. Brown was the subject of some criticism, mostly on social networks, over what was perceived to be aggressive and biased treatment of McIntyre, who has cerebral palsy. In the interview on the BBC's News 24 channel, Brown asked McIntyre whether he had been 'wheeling' himself towards police during the protest. Brown responded: 'I can't physically use my wheelchair myself. My brother was pushing me. I think it was quite obvious from the footage that I was one hundred per cent not a threat to anyone.' He added: 'Do you really think a person with cerebral palsy in a wheelchair can pose a threat to a police officer who is armed with weapons?' Despite receiving four hundred and twenty complaints, Ofcom decided not to launch an investigation of the interview as it did not breach the Broadcasting Code. Speaking to Broadcast, an Ofcom spokeswoman said: 'People have said the interview was particularly aggressive towards a student. There were accusations of bias but we referred these to the BBC. Ofcom will not be investigating because we do not believe there has been a breach of the Broadcasting Code.'

Philip Glenister has criticised the BBC for neglecting hit shows like his hugely popular time-travelling police series. The actor, who played Gene Hunt in Life On Mars and its spin-off Ashes To Ashes, said he wanted the final series to end with a bang. Which it did. So, what's the problem? He told Reader's Digest he was frustrated that because the BBC1 show already had a loyal following, money which might previously have been spent on Ashes To Ashes was redirected. He said: 'In this country, we seem to be penalised for being successful. If your show does well, the BBC thinks it's got its following so it'll spend the money nurturing new shows like Sherlock instead. It's understandable, but frustrating, because it was the final series and we wanted to go out on a high.' And, there were have another example, ladies and gentlemen. Somebody in the TV industry who seems to think that the best way for talking about how good their own show is/was, is by criticising other people's hard work. Is there something in the water that makes them do this? I think there might be a nice part for you in Jimmy McGovern's next masterpiece, Phil. Glenister also criticised the US version of Life On Mars, which starred Harvey Keitel in the Hunt role, and ran for only one series. He told the magazine: 'Sometimes things just don't translate there. I wish they'd shown our version. That's annoying - the fact that they buy our ideas, remake them and screw them up, whereas we buy their programmes and show them properly.' Glenister also claimed that Tory leader David Cameron tried to pass some of Glenister's ideas off as his own during his general election campaign. The actor, met the future prime minister some months before the election and gave him some advice on how to reform UK policing. Philip said: 'He asked, "When you speak to the police do you get much feedback?" I said, "Basically, they get too much paperwork. They want to be out catching the crims. That's why Gene Hunt's so popular with them." He went, "Absolutely, of course." Six months later he's on radio saying exactly what I said. Bastard nicked my line!'

Joanne Froggatt has admitted that she was nervous about joining the cast of The Royle Family. The Downton Abbey actress will play Saskia, the girlfriend of Our Anthony (Ralf Little), in the show's Christmas special. 'I was nervous, because my family always watches it, so I'm a bit of a fan,' she told What's On TV. 'But everyone has been so lovely. It's funny [because] I'm playing the newcomer to the family and that's what it felt like for me. But I feel like part of the family now.' She added that it was lovely to be part of the sitcom, which attracted twelve million viewers for its last Christmas episode in 2009. 'I've been a viewer for years, and I think there are parts of it that every family can relate to, even if [the characters] are a really extreme version! It's going to be absolutely lovely to be part of so many people's Christmas.'

THE BBC has reportedly angered some of the more loony end of the Christian community with The Nativity in which the Virgin Mary is accused for being a sex cheat. Mind you, this according to those snorting little Englanders at the Daily Express so, you know, best to take it with a vat of salt, frankly. In the retelling of the story of Christ's birth, written by EastEnders and Life on Mars scriptwriter Tony Jordan, fifteen-year-old Mary is attacked by people who do not believe her claim that she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph accuses her of 'whoring' and even suggests that her pregnancy might have been the result of rape. The Church of England, seemingly, has no problem with this reading of the biblical story and has described the four-part drama, as 'a gritty interpretation.' However, one Stephen Green, of the ministry Christian Voice (no, me neither), told the newspaper: 'There is no justification for any of this in the gospels. They do say Joseph was suspicious, but that was it. It doesn't suggest any physical or verbal abuse. It's typical of the fertile imagination you need for something like EastEnders. The kids that do nativity plays in school will be perplexed that someone has come up with this revisionist, puerile idea. The BBC can't help themselves. Three quarters of our population are Christian. At the BBC, this proportion is reversed.' Have you got any actual proof that 'three quarters' of Britain's population are Christian, Stephen? (I presume you mean actively Christian? As in church attending, rather than 'nominally Christian but, probably, agnostic') If not then, frankly, I think you should have a quick look at my favourite biblical passage, John 8:7, and then shut the hell up about stuff that is absolutely none of your concern. But, no, he couldn't resist carrying on with a thoroughly nasty bit of chip-on-the-shoulder finger-pointing: 'You have a huge proportion of militant, liberal atheists who are keen to dump on Christianity. They wouldn't mock the birth of Muhammad , or anything to do with his life story. They wouldn't ridicule Hinduism or Sikhism, but Christianity is their big target.' That's a very laudable Christian attitude you've got there, Stephen. I think it's the use of 'liberal' as a -seeming - insult in the middle of that petulant rant which really is the cherry on the cake, here. Because, of course, as everybody knows, all Christians are conservative. Small C and big. Tell you what usually helps at times like this, Stephen - a nice, blood-thirsty crusade. And then, Christians wonder why so many people have a very dim view of them and their religion. You know, if I happened to be a liberally-minded Christian, rather than a healthy and quite open-to-all-possibilities Agnostic, I'd be God damned ashamed that somebody was spewing out rank uncharitable vomit like this and, seemingly, doing so in my name. Defending the drama, Tony Jordan said: 'The story is told using modern language and the characters have modern attitudes. Personally, I believe in the immaculate conception but I think it's perfectly understandable if people struggle with the concept. I think the questions asked in our drama are the kind that any man watching a prime-time TV drama in 2010 would quite reasonably ask. I think it perfectly believable that Joseph should get angry with his betrothed and only agree to take her with him to Bethlehem when she risks being stoned by angry neighbours. If my own wife came to me and said: "Tony, I'm having a baby which isn't yours but, don't worry, I was visited by the Angel Gabriel and it's actually God's baby,' I think I would feel more than a little miffed.' I think if anybody in my family said the same thing, I'd be suggesting they get themselves to a hospital to find out if they were suffering from delusional schizophrenia. 'Don't forget that those who wrote the gospels were doing so from a distance of two hundred years,' Jordan continued. 'I am doing the same thing – interpreting an event that took place a long time ago – and I don't see why my version of the story shouldn't be valid, too.' It is, mate. Just as anyone else's adaptations of myths and fairy tales are. The only people who are, apparently, unable to accept that are exactly the sort of people who, in the Fourteenth Century were happily burning heretics in the name of the Lord. Sick. Actress Tatiana Maslany who plays Mary, said: 'If you took the names Mary and Joseph out, it could be a story about any two people in love. It isn't so much about the belief in God, but the belief in enduring love, in love that can hold people together even in the most difficult circumstances.' Garrow's Law actor Andrew Buchan, who plays Joseph, said: 'Joseph is a real man in our story. He's like a guy in 2010 who goes away and comes back to find his wife or girlfriend pregnant. Of course he's going to think she has slept with another guy and challenge her.' As noted, a Church of England spokesman said: 'Tony Jordan's adaptation presents a gritty interpretation of the events of the first Christmas. We hope it will bring home the story of Jesus being born in a humble stable to many new viewers.' See, they've read John 8:7. And, seemingly, understood it.

Hawaii Five-0 producer Peter Lenkov has revealed that Chin Ho will find redemption in a future episode. The former police officer (played by the excellent Daniel Dae Kim) was forced to resign from HPD after being falsely accused of corruption. 'There's a resolution to Chin Ho's back-story, in terms of losing his badge in the police department,' Lenkov told E! Online. 'There's a real resolution to that [and] redemption for him. It plays off how you first meet him, and he comes a complete one hundred and eighty [degrees] by the end of the season.' The showrunner also admitted that character development sometimes 'falls to the wayside' on the CBS crime procedural. 'The one thing I really want to get all the writers to pay attention to is to make sure that we give all four leads some juicy stuff to play every week,' he explained. 'Sometimes we miss on that.' He continued: 'I want to make sure we mine their characters week-to-week, because I really truly believe that people return to the TV shows for the characters. Especially [in] this day and age.' Lenkov previously confirmed that a forthcoming episode of the show will focus on the family history of Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin).

Sean Bean has undergone a 'quickie divorce' from fourth wife Georgina Sutcliffe. The Daily Scum Mail reports that the Sharpe and Lord Of The Rings actor was granted a decree nisi at London's High Court on the grounds of 'irreconcilable differences.' The couple announced their separation back in August after two-and-a-half years of marriage. Speculation over the strength of their relationship previously arose following the cancellation of a planned wedding ceremony in January 2008 and Bean's arrest on suspicion of domestic abuse later that year.

Lacey Turner has admitted that she 'cried like a baby' after filming her final scenes in EastEnders. The twenty two-year-old exits her role as Stacey Branning later this week in a dramatic Christmas Day episode. Speaking to Soaplife, Turner confessed that she is ready to take on new roles after six years on the BBC soap. 'I feel like it's time to move on,' she said. 'But I am terrible at making decisions, so I don't know what I am going to do yet." Discussing her final scenes, she added: "It was very sad. I did cry like a baby all the way home! "Stacey's big Christmas storyline has little bits of everything she's done over the past six-and-a-half years," she teased.

Damian Lewis has joined the cast of forthcoming Showtime drama pilot Homeland. Deadline reports that the Band of Brothers actor will play Scott Brody, a US Marine Sergeant who returns home after spending eight years in Baghdad as a prisoner of war. On his return, Brody will be investigated by Carrie Anderson (Claire Danes), a CIA agent who suspects that he is plotting to launch an attack on American soil. Old Etonian actor Lewis previously played Charlie Crews on NBC drama Life and also appeared in television mini-series The Forsyte Saga.

A week after the Daily Scum Mail got itself into a lather about Christina Aguilera and Rihanna's 'simulated sexual moves' on The X Factor final, before going on to reprint the images on a double-page spread, the paper was at it again on Tuesday. 'This paper was first to question the lewd, highly sexual imagery which spoilt ITV's The X Factor final, which was watched by countless young children,' its leader boasted. Err... hate to be the one to break this to you but, it's 'spoiled' guys, not 'spoilt.' Didn't you go to school? Ofcom's decision to investigate the show's sultry side is 'a relief,' it the Scum Mail continues, before calling for sanctions to deter broadcasters from repeating 'this grubby episode.' Presumably, if they do, the paper will then have to look elsewhere for its double-page spreads.

The US version of The Million Pound Drop has been thrown into chaos following just one episode, after a couple lost a five-figure sum on an answer later deemed to be correct. Contestants Gabe Okoye and Brittany Mayi lost eight hundred thousand dollars during the premiere of FOX's Million Dollar Money Drop on the question 'Which of these were sold in stores first: Macintosh computer, Sony Walkman or Post-it Notes?' After confidently betting on Post-it Notes, the pair were left to proceed with the eighty thousand pounds after they hedged on what was given as the correct answer of Sony Walkman, money which they later lost. Internet forums questioned the accuracy of the answer and the wording of the question, while blogger Richard Lawson wrote on Gawker: 'Apparently Post-it Notes didn't go on sale nationally until 1980, but were market tested in four cities starting in 1977. So that means they beat the Walkman, which debuted in 1979. The question was not posed as "sold in stores nationally," it was simply "sold in stores."' Commenting on Okoye's emotional breakdown after he passionately pushed for the technically correct answer, Lawson mused: 'Will FOX correct their mistake? Probably not. But, the couple should at least know they were right, so that poor man doesn't feel guilty for the rest of his life.' Or, you know, since this is America he could sue for 'emotional distress' and 'a disrespect to his human rights.' Or something. The confusion comes one month after married couple Johnny and Dee, two contestants on the UK version of the programme, were wrongly forfeited three hundred and twenty five thousand pounds on an inaccurate - or, at least, open to interpretation - answer to a Doctor Who question. They were later invited back onto the show by Channel Four, eventually walking away with twenty five thousand pounds in prize money. It is not yet known whether FOX will follow Channel Four's example and allow Okoye and Mayi to replay the game. And, yer Keith Telly Topping's sincere thanks go to Jonathan Sheen for pointing out my utterly numskull mispelling of 'Macintosh' in this piece. (Particularly hypocritical as I'd just had a right go at the Scum Mail in the same blog entry for exactly such typo-shenanigans!) I can only offer the mitigation that I wasn't the only one to make the same mistake. Digital Spy also had it as 'mac with a K' as well!

Mad Frankie Boyle has been criticised for using racially derogatory language on his Channel Four show. The comedian - who caused controversy earlier this month when he made jokes about Katie Price's disabled son Harvey - was condemned for using the terms 'nigger' and 'paki' on this week's edition of Tramadol Nights. Politicians and anti-racism campaigners have now called on Channel Four to take action over Boyle's comments, although the broadcaster has insisted that the comedian's use of the words was intended to 'highlight the unacceptable nature' of such terms, not to endorse them. During a monologue on war on Tuesday night's programme, Boyle said: 'What gets me is our callousness as a society when we read out our dead on the news first, because our lives are more important. Other people's aren't worth as much.' Assuming the tone of a newsreader, he added: 'A bomb went off in Kandahar today, killing two British servicemen, three UN relief workers and a whole bunch of pakis.' Later, he added: 'The Ministry of Defence? At least in the old days we were honest - it was the Ministry of War! "Hello, Ministry of War, department of nigger-bombing, how can I help?"' Boyle's show also included a sketch in which a woman dressed as Super Mario danced provocatively before waving to the camera and saying: 'Hello to pakis everywhere.' Conservative MP John Whittingdale - Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee and a man never short of an opinion on pretty much any subject - called on Channel Four to investigate the matter. He said: 'The words "nigger" and "paki" are deeply offensive to a large number of people. I don't think even in comedy it is justified.' Depends on the context, surely? As with most things in life. 'Frankie Boyle is becoming a serial offender. I really think Channel Four will have to think whether it's appropriate to screen programmes which are regularly causing offence to a lot of people. It might be a breach of the Broadcasting Code. Ofcom will have to determine that.' However, a Channel Four spokesman insisted: 'Channel Four strongly refutes any suggestion we are endorsing or condoning racist language by our broadcast of Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights. This cutting edge comedy is clearly intended to ridicule and satirise the use of these words - Frankie Boyle was not endorsing them. Channel Four would not have broadcast these words had they been used in a racist way. All the jokes highlight the unacceptable nature of this language.' The spokesman also confirmed that the broadcaster had received one complaint of racism following the programme's transmission.

Britain considered taking 'punitive action' against the London headquarters of Iran's English-language state broadcaster earlier this year after Iran jammed the signals of the BBC's Persian TV service, according to a US state department document released by WikiLeaks. What, send a few pipe-hittin' tech crew around there to give those uppity Iranians a taste of good old home-boy London hospitality? Seemingly not. Which is probably just as well, now I come to think about it. You don't want to encourage that sort of thing, it leads to displomatic incidents. The Foreign Office apparently told the US embassy official who deals with Iran in February that it was 'exploring ways to limit the operations of Press TV which operates a large bureau (over eighty staff) in London.' Press TV is an arm of the Iranian state broadcaster, IRIB. Its main foreign bureau is in north-west London. Presenters include the former Labour and Respect MP George Galloway, whose programme was recently criticised by Ofcom for breaching impartiality rules, and the journalist Yvonne Ridley. No steps were taken at the time because of legal difficulties, but a British official said a case could be made in future if new sanctions were imposed on Iran, the secret US cable reported. New sanctions were imposed by both the UN security council and the EU in the summer, but no action has been taken against the broadcaster. At least, officially. The action was considered after repeated electronic jamming of the BBC's PTV and the Voice of America's Persian service. It was blamed on the Iranian government. Eutelsat, the owner of the Hotbird satellite, decided after months of jamming to drop PTV from the satellite because of complaints from other commercial broadcasters that their programmes were being affected as well. Eutelsat gave PTV a slot on another satellite that did not carry many of the most popular channels and had limited reach. Britain urged the US to join it and France in lobbying the International Telecommunication Union, which regulates satellite transmissions, against the Iranian government, while also acknowledging that it had no enforcement authority. It was therefore 'looking at other ways to address the issue and exploring ways to limit the operations of the IRIB's Press TV service.' The difficulty, the cable continued, was that 'UK law sets a very high standard for denying licences to broadcasters. Licences can only be denied in cases where national security is threatened, or if granting a licence would be contrary to Britain's obligations under international law. Currently neither of these standards can be met with respect to Press TV, but if further sanctions are imposed on Iran in the coming months a case may be able to be made on the second criterion.' BBC PTV was launched in January 2009 and generated Iranian government fury. Sporadic interference began after the disputed presidential elections that June and intensified when there was a new spate of demonstrations in late December. Tehran has repeatedly attacked PTV as an arm of the British government, accusing it of seeking to foment 'a velvet revolution.' Iran expelled the BBC's Iran correspondent during the 2009 unrest, but in an apparent softening of its position recently agreed in principle with the BBC to let a new correspondent visit Tehran regularly on a trial basis.

The Abbey Road zebra crossing - made famous after appearing on that Beatles' LP cover - has been given Grade II listed status. The North London crossing is the first of its kind to ever be listed, following advice from English Heritage. It is being recognised for its 'cultural and historical importance' after it appeared on the 1969 LP Abbey Road. Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were photographed crossing the road in Ian Macmillan's iconic cover shot, which later emulated by dozens of other bands and, on the actual crossing about once a day by Beatles fans. Paul McCartney said that it was the 'icing on the cake' of a great year. Making the announcement John Penrose, Minister for Tourism and Heritage said: 'This London zebra crossing is no castle or cathedral but, thanks to the Beatles and a ten minute photo-shoot one August morning in 1969, it has just as strong a claim as any to be seen as part of our heritage.' Roger Bowdler, head of designation at English Heritage said: 'This is obviously an unusual case, and although a modest structure, the crossing has international renown and continues to possess huge cultural pull - the temptation to recreate that iconic 1969 album cover remains as strong as ever. Together with the nearby Abbey Road studios, also listed at Grade II on our advice, they remain a Mecca for Beatles fans the world over.' McCartney added: 'It's been a great year for me and a great year for The Beatles and hearing that the Abbey Road crossing is to be preserved is the icing on the cake.' The Abbey Road studio building was Grade II listed in February. A Grade II listing, the most common protected status, means that a building or monument is recognised as nationally important and of special interest.

A performance artist has dressed up as a cartoon panda and urged New Yorkers to punch him as hard as they can. Nate Hill, thirty three, sported white panda paw gloves, a bodysuit and oversized head and challenged passers-by in Union Square to hit him as 'a community service,' AFP reports. Hill said: 'I knew people were angry. I knew people want to punch things, because I want to punch things. It will lighten their day. I got punched in the face twice today. When I took the head off, the first guy ran. The second one, I took the head off and he apologised profusely.' One puncher, Tianna Robinson, explained: 'I'm dealing with relationship issues. I envisioned the dude I'm dealing with and it felt damned good. It felt damned good.' Another, visiting farmer David Melman, twenty three, added: 'At the first punch I was kind of hesitant, but upon the first contact I could tell it enlivened the panda and I decided to go for it.' Hill has also made a number of home visits as part of his five-month project after answering requests on Twitter.

For today's furious explosion of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day we have a couple of obscure little artefacts from those far off days when Eng-er-land swung like a pendulem do. Did. Whatever. Gear.

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