Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Money Changes Everything

I imagine that you're wondering just what was the best use of a Smiths instrumental b-side on a BBC2 documentary this week, dear blog reader? I know that yer Keith Telly Topping usually is. That award, this week at least, would have to go to the makers of Ben Miller's rather engaging Horizon think-piece, What Is One Degree? The programme itself was really very good indeed, but using Johnny Marr's 'Oscillate Wildly' over the end credits, that was simply the cherry on the cake. Respect, Mr Miller and your collaborators!

David Mitchell has suggested that it is currently a good time for satire because the world is so 'terrifying' at the moment. Indeed. I mean, just look at the line-up on Dancing On Ice for a kick-off. Bowel-shatteringly scary. Mitchell will host Channel Four's new current affairs show Ten O'Clock Live along with Lauren Laverne, Jimmy Carr and Charlie Brooker and described it as 'an amusing Newsnight.' Speaking to the Radio Times, he continued: 'It's a really good time to try to satirise the news. There's a controversial government in power - a government that's even controversial within itself - and a lot of changes are being thrust upon us. There are lots of times when people feel that politics doesn't affect them but now isn't one of those times.' He added: 'The government could fall apart in the next fifteen weeks and we'd get to cover that. We could maybe make a Lib Dem cry.' Mitchell also insisted that he wants the show to be 'credible,' adding: 'The dream scenario would be to get Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg in the last three weeks of the show. I genuinely wouldn't want to be horrible to them. The polite approach is to give someone the benefit of the doubt and assume that their stated aims are their aims, and if and when that's demonstrably not the case, then you say so.'

James Caan - no, the other one - has insisted that he did not quit his role on Dragons' Den because of the long-running feud with his colleague Duncan Bannatyne. The fifty-year-old Caan, who has not spoken to his fellow Dragon for nine months, announced his decision to leave the BBC show last week. Bannatyne previously stated that he hoped Caan would be dropped from the programme's line-up. 'I'm a grown-up,' the Sun quotes Caan as saying. 'I wouldn't allow emotion to get in the way of my decision.' Cann, who apparently did not inform the other Dragons about his exit, added: 'The show doesn't last forever and you have to focus on life after it.'

Top Twenty shows week ending 2 January 2011
1 EastEnders (Mon 20:00) - BBC1 - 11.10
2 Coronation Street (Mon 19:30) - ITV - 9.7*
3 New Year Live (Fri 23:55) - BBC1 - 9.37
4 Come Fly With Me (Sat 21:00) - BBC1 - 8.80
5 Emmerdale (Mon 19:00) - ITV - 8.4*
6 Upstairs Downstairs (Tue 2101) - BBC1 - 8.18
7 Film: Indiana Jones And The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Sat 17:35) - BBC1 - 7.91
8 BBC News (Fri 18:20) - BBC1 - 7.86
9 ITV News & Weather (Mon 1845) - ITV - 7.1*
10 Casualty (Sun 20:10) - BBC1 - 6.95
11 Antiques Roadshow (Sun 19:10) - BBC1 - 6.92
12 Holby City (Tue 20:00) - BBC1 - 6.67
13 Toast (Thu 21:00) - BBC1 - 6.67
14 Eric And Ernie (Sat 21:00) - BBC2 - 6.65
15 Countryfile (Sun 18:10) - BBC1 - 6.35
16 Zen (Sun 21:00) - BBC1 - 6.24
17 Miss Marple (Wed 21:00) - ITV - 5.95
18 Rock & Chips (Wed 2100) - BBC1 - 5.83
19 The Magicians (Sat 19:30) - BBC1 - 5.83
20 Polar Bears: Spy On The Ice (Wed 20:00) - BBC1 - 5.53
This is a provisional list as ITV's final figures haven't been released yet (except for Miss Marple's which were reported late last week). So, those programmes with an asterisk next to them are overnight ratings only.

Emma Crosby is close to agreeing a deal to front Channel Five News, it has been reported. The newsreader, who has previously worked on Sky News and GMTV, is 'days away' from landing the 7pm slot vacated by Natasha Kaplinsky last year. A source told the Daily Scum Mail: 'Emma is the ideal replacement for Natasha. The deal is all but signed - but it's fair to say that Emma will get nowhere near Natasha's deal.' Crosby's agent Jonathan Shalit said: 'This will be very exciting if it happens, but nothing is confirmed yet.' It is believed that current Channel Five newsreader Matt Barbet will continue to present the 5pm bulletin. Crosby is presently freelancing for the BBC after being axed as the host of GMTV last year.

Big Love's executive producers Mark V Olsen and Will Scheffer have admitted that they were surprised by the criticisms of the show's fourth season. Speaking to TV Line, the duo explained that they took all of the comments on board. 'We did not take it personally, but it was confusing because [the show] wasn't received as we saw it nor as we intended it,' Olsen said. 'So it was baffling and frustrating and irritating. It was like, "Were we all watching the same thing?" At the end of the day, it was a really invigorating exercise for both of us. We read everything. We do. We haunt the boards, we read the blogs, we read it all.' Olsen and Scheffer also insisted that there are no hard feelings between them and the show's star Chloe Sevigny, who suggested last year that the show had been 'awful.' She later claimed that her comments had been taken out of context. 'We had the group hug with Chloe the day after she made the comments,' Olsen said. 'We love that woman. We get it. We get what she said. If anything, we felt bad for her.' Scheffer added: 'Chloe is a company girl. She's so not the fashionista diva that is her image, so for her to get a little bit drunk on champagne and speak bluntly at a party and then have it come back to bite her. She called us in tears. Yes, we were angry that it had made the press and it started to [spiral]. But more than us being angry, we felt bad that she felt so bad about it. And we immediately wrapped our arms around her - she was just a mess about the whole thing.'

Lie To Me's Tim Roth has revealed that viewers will learn more about Lightman's family in the next episode. The genius psychologist will be locked up in an institution in this week's instalment, Funhouse. 'It was something that came up very early and I always liked the idea of him being in a mental institution,' Roth told the Los Angeles Times. 'I kind of thought that [with] his behaviour, it would be difficult to see a change in him in that place. He would look at home, up to a point, in that place.' The actor confirmed that Caprica's Paula Malcomson will appear as Lightman's late mother in a hallucination sequence. '[Lightman] is drugged and he is hallucinating,' Tim explained. 'At one point, he sees his mum and at another point, he sees his dad, and they have conversations.' Roth also admitted that he is keen for Malcomson to reprise her role in the future. 'She's a very good actor [and] I really enjoyed working with her,' he said. 'It would be a great character to bring back, if he has regular conversations with his mum!'

Android Chiles, seemingly, is not a happy chap. So, what else is new you may be asking, dear blog reader? Well, it would seem that the Android is getting a bit uppity about some of the critical descriptions of his flop ITV breakfast show, Daybreak. 'It's not fair,' he told the Sun, stopping just short of stamping his foot and threatening to hold his breath if people didn't stop being 'mean' to he and Christine. 'A piece last week about ITV football said, "It's gone better than the Daybreak fiasco." If you don't like it, fine, but it is no longer a fiasco.' Many people would beg to differ with ya, bro. And, yesterday's Daybreak ratings figures of a meagre seven hundred thousand viewers would also seem to indicate this.

Meanwhile, speaking of ITV's breakfast flop Daybreak - which we were - and its other flop presenter, Orange Christine Bleakley, she is reportedly being lined-up to fill in for Holly Willoughby when the latter goes on maternity leave. Star magazine claims that the Daybreak co-host will stand in to co-present the Dancing On Ice results show and the Monday to Thursday editions of This Morning alongside Phillip Schofield. A sort of Twenty First Century version of Gordon the Gopher, if you will. 'When Holly becomes too pregnant to host both shows, the thirty one-year-old is set to present the second half of the Sunday night show, plus do her usual four days a week on This Morning,' a 'source' allegedly told the magazine. Because, of course, sources always casually drop somebody's age into their soundbites. It's the done thing. 'When Christine signed up to ITV, the bosses told her they had plans to make her a massive star on the channel outside of presenting Daybreak.' Well, it would have to be outside of presenting Daybreak, wouldn't it? Because she's certainly not going to be a massive star with an audience of seven hundred thousand, is she? 'This is just the start of it. They want her to be able to turn her hand to lots of shows, and something like Dancing On Ice is perfect for her. She has plenty of experience doing live TV.' Plus, it's full of non-entities, so she'll feel nicely at home. However, Bleakley - who is dating Frank Lampard - is apparently keen to avoid 'a public slanging match' with Dancing On Ice hopeful Elen Rivas, the footballer's ex-girlfriend. 'Christine thinks they have to be civil for Frank's kids,' the 'friend' added. Please note how this mysteriously anonymous 'source' has suddenly become a 'friend.' Which, actually, makes the casual age-dropping thing mentioned earlier even worse I'd've said.

Steve Punt has admitted to feeling 'a twinge of jealousy' when his former comedy partners David Baddiel and Rob Newman played Wembley in 1993. Together with Hugh Dennis, the comedians had all starred in BBC sketch show The Mary Whitehouse Experience. Newman and Baddiel later became the first comedians to perform at and sell out the twelve thousand capacity Wembley Arena. You remember, dear blog reader? When the term 'comedy is the new rock and roll' wasn't, yet, a cliche. Asked how he felt about that show, Punt told Metro: 'I wouldn't have been human if I hadn't felt a twinge of jealousy. When you get to Waterloo station and there's a twenty foot David Baddiel looking at you, you're conscious that you've been outmanoeuvred. On the other hand, ultimately you get the career that your personality demands. I don't think either of us has that kind of star mentality that David always had. We just aren't the kind of people who would want to put their heads that far above the parapet. Our careers developed much more slowly.' Of his upcoming You Should Get Out More tour with Dennis, Punt added: 'We don't do long sketches, it's not a review in that sense, but it's not straightforward stand-up either. It's an awkward, genetically modified cross-breed of the two - a sort of double-headed stand-up, flitting in and out of different voices and characters.'

Stephen Tompkinson has insisted that he has no intention of quitting Wild At Heart while it continues to perform well. The Sunday night drama made a strong return to ITV this week for its sixth series. The episode saw Tompkinson's Danny Trevanion briefly reunited with his ill father, played by Warren Clarke. Asked if he still enjoyed filming the show, Tompkinson told What's On TV: 'Yes, I'm not bored of it yet and they always manage to move the story on. As long as it gets the viewing figures, I'd hope we will keep making it. Filming in South Africa is just such a joy - it's not a bad job.' Teasing what viewers can expect throughout the series, he added: 'Danny has a new job. He goes for the job of state vet where he feels he could do some good. And then there's a bit of a threat to Leopard's Den when a mining company starts developing the land around it.'

Californication's executive producer Tom Kapinos has insisted that he is not planning to end the series just yet. In the third season finale, Karen (Natasha McElhone) finally found out that Hank (David Duchovny) slept with Mia (Madeline Zima), who was underage at the time. The secret had been a big part of the show but Kapinos told TV Guide that there are a lot of other stories which can be explored in the series. 'The ending of last year allowed me to put Hank back to the way he was at the beginning of the show, kind of a down-and-out Hank who has to deal with pretty much everyone hating on him,' he said. 'There's sort of nowhere to go but up.' Kapinos added that the end of the last season will allow the show to evolve. 'Each season has been kind of a chapter, and this closes the door on the Mia stuff, and there's no going back to it,' he said. 'So it's about how you begin again. I don't think it's the end, but I do think it's time to shake it up a little. People toss around the word reboot, and I don't know if I believe in that for this show. But we dealt with all the stuff we set up in the first episode, and so it's time for it to evolve and move in a slightly different direction.'

Singer-turned-actress JoJo is to make a guest appearance on Hawaii Five-0. TV Guide reports that the star - real name Joanna Levesque - will play Courtney Russell, the daughter of a tsunami warning centre scientist. McGarrett and his team will be called in to investigate when Russell's father goes missing as a powerful storm heads toward the Honolulu coast. It was previously reported that Bones' Joel David Moore will also appear in the episode as the warning centre's deputy director Sheldon Tunney.

ABC has confirmed that it has ordered more seasons of six of its shows. TV Line reports that the network made the announcement at the Television Critics Association tour. Grey's Anatomy and its spin-off Private Practice will both return for their eighth and fifth seasons respectively. Meanwhile, ABC handed its comedies Modern Family, The Middle and Cougar Town third seasons. Crime drama Castle, which stars Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, was picked up for a fourth season. However, the network has still not confirmed the future of Sunday night shows Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters. Housewives creator Marc Cherry is thought to have a deal for two more seasons, but the cast are only in contract until the end of the current run. Negotiations are said to be ongoing. Elsewhere, sources suggested that there is a fifty per cent chance that Brothers & Sisters will come to an end after its current fifth season.

HBO has reportedly decided not to pick up comedy pilot Documental. The project, which was executive produced by Ben Stiller, will not go to series according to Deadline. The pilot starred Justin Theroux as a documentary filmmaker who follows the attempts of his favourite director (Steve Coogan) to launch a comeback. The episode was filmed in London.

More than one hundred people will refuse to pay their television licence in protest at changes to the funding situation for Welsh-language channel S4C, it has been reported. The Welsh Language Society has called on viewers to stop paying their annual licence until the UK government commits to providing what is deemed to be sufficient funding for S4C. Which is, of course, a criminal act and one that carries a fine so massive it dwarfs the gross national product of several small third world countries. Singer and Plaid Cymru politician Dafydd Iwan is understood to be among those refusing to pay the licence, but authorities have warned that anyone caught watching TV without a licence would be guilty of a criminal offence. Being Welsh is not, in and of itself, a criminal offence however. Just want to make that absolutely clear in case there's any misunderstanding. Under the BBC's new licence fee settlement, the majority of S4C's funding will come from the corporation, including a significantly-reduced budget. The Welsh Language Society has claimed that more than one hundred people support the protest campaign, which argues that S4C is facing major challenges to its independence. Which is, frankly, a bit rich since the BBC didn't really want to have S4C dumped onto them by the government in the first place (at a significant cost, let us remember, to all licence fee payers - Welsh or otherwise) and would, presumably, be perfectly happy to see S4C, the Welsh Assembly and the Welsh Language Society bugger off and try funding the channel themselves if they think it's that easy. Bethan Williams, chair of the group, said: 'The future of our only Welsh-language TV channel hangs in the balance. It faces cuts of over forty per cent in real terms, a takeover by the BBC, and powers in the hands of Westminster Ministers to get rid of S4C completely. It's a critical situation, that's why we are pleased that so many people have started to stop paying the TV licence. This is a campaign we can win and we're confident because of the rising public support for the need for a strong future for the world's only Welsh language TV channel.'

Kerry Katona has suggested in an interview with Star magazine that 'I was a fat, lazy cow who ate crap [and] didn't exercise.' Was, eh? Okay.

News Corporation is said to be 'gearing up' for 'confidential discussions' with the vile and odious Jeremy Hunt's government department this week about its bid to take full control of BSkyB. Executives from Rupert Murdoch's company were due to meet MPs from the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee behind closed doors on Wednesday. But that meeting has now been cancelled according to the Gruniad Morning Star, triggering speculation that News Corp is poised to negotiate directly with the vile and odious Hunt's Department for Lack of Culture, Media and Sport over possible remedies to help get the eight billion pound bid through. Ofcom completed a report examining whether the takeover represents a threat to UK media plurality on behalf of the vile and odious Hunt on the last day of 2010. That document was not made public, but this week it was confirmed that copies are already circulating on the Internet. News Corp confirmed that it had received Ofcom's analysis 'very recently' and that several senior executives are aware of its conclusions. Having received the document, a spokesperson said that the company wanted to concentrate on dealing with the vile and odious Hunt's department rather than liaise with MPs. 'Clearly our focus is on doing this deal,' the spokesperson added. A note, sent out at lunchtime on Monday to MPs on the committee, said: 'News Corporation have informed us that they are now unable to brief the committee on Wednesday because they expect to be fully engaged with the Ofcom report and with confidential discussions with DCMS. There will, therefore, be no committee meeting on Wednesday.' The vile and odious Hunt, now that he has received Ofcom's advice, must decide whether to wave the deal through with no further regulatory scrutiny – or whether to recommend a further, six-month-long enquiry that will be conducted by the Competition Commission. Ofcom was widely expected to recommend a further inquiry, because the regulator has already sent a substantial 'statement of issues' to News Corp just before Christmas, where it gave the company a chance to answer all the questions raised by competitors. At the same time, Ofcom has only to pass a low threshold of concern to recommend a further enquiry by the Competition Commission.

ABC is expected to pick up new comedy pilot Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23. FOX TV has already sold the project to the network, according to Entertainment Weekly. The proposed series will focus on a naive young woman who moves to New York City and takes on a wild party-girl as a roommate. The show's name could reportedly be changed prior to transmission, following a campaign by The Parents' Televison Council against the title of CBS sitcom $#*! My Dad Says.

French reality TV might look like a bit of a laugh for its rising stars, but exhausted contestants are staging a rebellion, demanding huge cash compensation for being endlessly bossed around by producers. A series of legal battles threaten to force French production companies to pay out hundreds of thousands of euros to reality TV participants who argue that acting natural and taking part in absurd challenges is actually hard work. In a test case, the Versailles appeals court has begun considering how much money should be awarded to participants of L'Île de la Tentation, the French version of Temptation Island, in which couples are separated and then tempted with poolside eye-candy to test their relationship. The six-year courtroom saga has already set legal precedent when judges ruled in 2009 that appearing in French reality shows constituted 'work' and that participants should get an employment contract. Now the appeals court must rule on how much money the formerly unknown participants should get. A total of fifty seven contestants are demanding four hundred thousand euors in compensation for their efforts, including overtime at the luxury beach resort under orders from producers. Jérémie Assous, the lawyer representing the contestants said: 'It's incredibly tough, it's like a film shoot, only the conditions are much harder. You have to work from 7am to 3am every day. You have an activity every twenty to thirty minutes, nothing is left to chance so it's very difficult to leave the compound. Their passports are confiscated, the site is protected by armed guards, they can't leave. They have no phones, no access to the Internet, they are totally cut off during filming.' Assous represents more than three hundred former reality-show contestants, and has won almost one hundred and fifty cases. He said more turned up at his office each day, some complaining of overwork and sleep deprivation on set. In total, more than one thousand French people have appeared on the nation's top reality TV shows, and Assous believes increasing numbers of them now want financial compensation. 'Production companies have profited for years from these people, now it's time to pay out,' he said. Ker-ching. TV executives are facing claims over some of France's biggest shows, including L'Amour est dans le Pré, the French version of The Farmer Wants a Wife, in which the bashful and lovesick inhabitants of a forgotten, rural France have become household names. France came relatively late to reality TV, with its first Big Brother-style show broadcast in 2001, but as audience figures and advertising revenues boom, bosses are increasingly adapting foreign shows including the UK's Wife Swap and Supernanny. Cooking contests such as Un Dîner Presque Parfait, a kind of French Come Dine With Me, are hugely popular, and the Dutch-Belgian-inspired Pékin Express, in which hapless couples race each other to hitch-hike across the developing world, has become a massive hit. The private French channel TF1, which makes L'Île de la Tentation and other reality show, has argued that although work contracts for reality stars are now a legal requirement, the contestants were being themselves and 'living a personal experience.' The appeals court hearing this week showed that TF1, owned by a close friend of the president, Nicolas Sarkozy, had been supported by government ministers, including the culture minister who backed a special TF1 reality TV charter instead of work contracts.

Paddy McGuinness has said that dating show Take Me Out is like a 'big girls' night out' for the women who take part. The presenter, however, assured Heat magazine that the contestants are not drunk when they appear on the show. Or, indeed, when they agreed to appear on the show. McGuinness said: 'There are all these lights and there's all this music and excitement. They're from all over the country and all do different jobs, so when they get together they do let their hair down. They're not pissed though! It's just that whole party vibe that makes the show. You don't want thirty girls sat there all looking miserable.' Asked if the girls have scraps off-screen, he added: 'I try to get that going. I say "Oooh, what about her? She said that, and you said this." But they're usually quite a tight unit - until it comes down to just two of them at the end, fighting for a date. That's when the claws come out.'

Too much TV can double the risk of heart attacks and strokes, say scientists. You know, the kind of people who never get invited to all the cool kids parties. A Scottish study found a strong association between screen-based leisure time and cardiovascular events. People who watched TV or played computer games for four or more hours a day were one hundred and twenty five per cent more likely to suffer a serious event such as a heart attack or stroke than those who spent less than two hours in front of a screen. Which sohuld mean that yer Keith Telly Topping is mere moments away from a massive coronary. Let's hope, dear blog reader, that I make it to the end of this page. The effect was independent from other risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, being overweight, and lack of exercise. 'People who spend excessive amounts of time in front of a screen - primarily watching TV - are more likely to die of any cause and suffer heart-related problems,' said study leader Dr Emmanuel Stamatakis, from University College London. A total of over four thousand five hundred adults aged thirty five and over were involved in the research. All were participants in a large household-based study called the 2003 Scottish Health Survey. Over an average period of four years, there were two hundred and fifteen cardiovascular events and three hundred and twenty five all-cause deaths among the group. Levels of 'screen time' were based on participants' self-reported use of TVs, DVDs, video-gaming and computers. The findings suggested a link between prolonged sitting in front of a screen and inflammatory effects, as well as poor cholesterol profiles. The research is reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Yer Keith Telly Topping, dear blog reader, is prepared to take the risks. So that you don't have to.

Sean Bean has claimed that he does not mind being typecast in fantasy roles. Speaking to reporters at the TCA press tour, he admitted that there are some similarities between his Lord of the Rings character Boromir and his new role as Ned Stark in HBO drama Game of Thrones. 'It's a good thing to be typecast, isn't it?' he suggested. 'I happen to enjoy playing the kind of roles with riding horses, swinging swords, having fights, wearing wigs and growing beards. I do have [an] affinity to that kind of role.' However, he claimed that any similarities between the two franchises were superficial, adding that Game of Thrones takes place 'in a very different world. The Lord of the Rings was three films, and they thoroughly researched it, and it was very well replicated on screen,' he said. '[Game of Thrones] goes on much, much further and much longer, and there's many more twists and turns.'

Peter Yates, the four-time Oscar-nominated British director of Bullitt, Breaking Away and The Dresser, has died in London after a long illness. He was eighty two. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art whose first film as a director was the Cliff Richard and The Shadows vehicle Summer Holiday, Yates made his name with the action-packed 1967 crime thriller Robbery, a dramatisation of the great train robbery. Hollywood beckoned, and Yates's first US effort, Bullitt, featured the first car chase in the modern style, with star Steve McQueen himself taking the wheel for a large part of a bravura extended sequence in which his Ford Mustang slaloms and chicanes through the hills of San Francisco. Academy recognition came later in Yates's career with the 1979 coming-of-age tale Breaking Away. The comedy about four working-class teens who take on students from the local university in a cycle race was nominated for five Oscars, including best director and best film and won one for its screenplay. Four years later Yates's movie The Dresser, an adaptation of the Ronald Harwood play about an ageing actor's personal assistant, received five nominations – including, once again, best director and best film. After Bullitt's success, Yates shot the poorly-received 1969 romantic drama John and Mary, starring Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow. He returned to more action-oriented fare with 1971's Murphy's War, with Peter O'Toole as a vengeful Irish merchant sailor who decides to singlehandedly take out the crew of the German U-boat who killed his shipmates. His other films included the excellent heist movie The Hot Rock (1972), For Pete's Sake (1974), Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976), The Deep (1977), Eyewitness (1981), Krull (1983), Eleni (1985), Suspect (1987), The House on Carroll Street (1988), An Innocent Man (1989), Year of the Comet (1992), Roommates (1995), and Curtain Call (1999). Born in Aldershot to Colonel Robert Yates and his wife, Constance, after attending Charterhouse school, Peter opted for RADA. His notions of acting were soon forsaken for theatre direction, first in the regions, and then at the Royal Court in London, where he directed plays including The American Dream and The Death of Bessie Smith (both 1961). He gained valuable film experience in the dubbing studios in Wardour Street, central London, and worked as an assistant director on films as varied as Cover Girl Killer (1959), Sons and Lovers (1960), The Guns of Navarone (1961) and A Taste of Honey (1961). In 1960 he married the film publicist Virginia Pope. Later that decade he gained experience in television at ITC, directing episodes for series like The Saint and Danger Man.

New Yorkers on Monday marked the tenth annual No Pants Subway Ride on the city's public transportation system. At 3pm exactly, people at six points across the city boarded trains and waited on the subway as normal, AFP reports. As the doors shut before the next stop, the travellers removed their trousers and skirts to bare their legs while they kept on all the clothes on their upper body and got off at the platform. An e-mail to participants read: 'If anyone asks you why you've removed your pants, tell them that they were "getting uncomfortable."' A number of those taking part reportedly wore festive underwear, such as polka dot bloomers. Some people apparently took part in No Pants Subway Rides in Washington DC, San Francisco, Baltimore, London and elsewhere. Last year, organisers claimed that three thousand people participated in the event in New York, while others from sixteen countries worldwide also joined in.

And finally here's today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. This single was produced by George Martin and engineered by Geoff Emerick at Abbey Road. It featured experimental use of new-to-a-western-audience ethnic instrumentation and an almost mantra-like lyric about the concept of universal natural consciousness. But, it's not 'Tomorrow Never Knows', it was made three years earlier. By his very Sir Rolfness himself. When he wasn't too busy teaching kids to swim. Or hanging out with The Beatles. Can you tell what it is yet?Come lads, we've got some Twenty20's to win now.

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