Sunday, February 13, 2011

Whatcha Gotta Do In This Day And Age? Agitate, Educate, Organise!

So, today is 'the first day of whatever comes next' for the people of Egypt. From The North congratulates and celebrates with all of those lovers of freedom and liberty in Tahir Square. Now, it all gets really interesting. I am, however, also delighted to see that, for once, the revolution actually was televised. Gil Scott Heron would be proud of you.There's been yet another Richard Hairy-Hands Keys audio leak, this one involving apparently racists comments, reported by the Daily Mirra. In this Keys, seemingly, made some vile comments about the black player David Johnson, a potential Scottish international at the time, referring to him as a 'Choco Jocko.' What a delightful chap he is. It might have been eleven years ago but it's still reprehensible in every way imaginable. A few points to make about the story, however. Somebody within Sky must really hate Keys - they've waited until the day before he starts his new radio job at talkSPORT before leaking the audio of this which has obviously been lying around the office for a decade. I'm very impressed that Keys himself has gone for the 'some of my best friends are black' defence. That's outstandingly classy. And, I also think Sky's blank comment 'He is no longer an employee' is worth of considerable credit to the company. Although, what a very great pity it is that they didn't say the same thing eleven years ago when he made the comments in the first place and sacked him on the spot. And, finally, a word of appreciation to the Mirra themselves for bringing this outrage to our attention. Although it is interesting, is it not, to see the article which lambasts Keys' disgraceful sexism, also has a link at the bottom of the page to another article which, apparently, celebrates 'Cheryl Cole's side-boob'! No obvious and quite staggering hypocrisy there then.

talkSport bosses, meanwhile, are reportedly planning to attempt to persuade Sian Massey to be a guest on Andy Gray and Richard Keys's new radio show. That's if Keys survives the week without another one of these leaks being 'discovered.' The pair joined the station earlier this week after Keys resigned and Gray was sacked from Sky for making sexist comments about the female assistant referee. According to the Daily Lies, radio chiefs are in the process of contacting Massey for a phone-in interview on the show, which starts tomorrow. A 'source' allegedly said: 'Everyone wants to hear her side of the story. She must be desperate to tell them what she really thinks of their chauvinistic comments. It would be a huge ratings winner.' Unfortunately, nobody at the Daily Lies bothered to contact the Football Association about whether they would allow Sian to appear on such a phone-in. That's if such a plan every existed. Which, personally, I doubt. Because it's the Daily Lies telling me this and they've got a record of accurate reporting as short as very short thing.

Georgie Thompson is reportedly being lined up to become the new host of The Xtra Factor. The Sky Sports presenter, who is currently dating Declan Donnelly, will allegedly take over the role from Konnie Huq, who has fronted the ITV2 spin-off for one series. Thompson is said to have narrowly missed out on the role last year, but has now been handed the job by Cowell because viewers didn't warm to Huq's presenting style, the News of the World alleges. A 'source', they claim, told them: 'The Xtra Factor job would be great for Georgie. She'll be fantastic.' The newspaper also claims that her boyfriend, Donnelly, has formed 'a close bond with Cowell' due to his work on Britain's Got Talent.

Cheryl Cole has reportedly told friends that she feels 'smothered' by her strict contract for the US version of The X Factor. The Heaton Horror, who has allegedly signed a ten million pound deal to join the show, is said to be unhappy with her terms of employment, which apparently state that she can't change her appearance without permission. According to the Sunday Mirra, Cole will also have to tone down her accent and stop using Geordie expressions like 'whey aye man, pet' and 'it's reet up my street, like, y'knaa?' and 'wee's this shortarse radjy gadgy wi'ya face like a smacked-arse? Ah, it's that charva Louie Walsh' because US viewers won't understand her. Jesus, take it from me guys, people in Newcastle don't understand her! She's also, apparently, been told that ham and pease pudding stotties and broon ale are pretty hard to come by the Los Angeles. A 'source' allegedly said: 'Receiving a contract to work on The X Factor in the US should be one of the highlights of Cheryl's career. But she won't be able to change her appearance or hair without the say-so of a producer and they have told her she must do her best to lose her ­accent. Cheryl likes to be in control of her own destiny and feels she will have hardly any say in her own life. She says she will be living like a ­Stepford Wife. She's unhappy about giving so much of herself over to them. It's a case of they say, "Jump" and Cheryl must say, "How high?" It's really worrying her.' Ah well, as they say in Heaton 'tough break, bonny lass. Tell 'em t'gan stuff their job and if they divvent like it that's nowt t'dee wi'ye.' Like.

An outspoken article in the Observer became central to an international drama fifty four years ago. Now the same celebrated article, condemning British military involvement in Suez, is to be a major part of a BBC drama starring Romola Garai, Dominic West and Ben Whishaw. On 4 November 1956, Egypt was convulsed by a political storm that gripped the attention of the world. Sounds horribly familiar, does it not? In the summer, President Nasser had announced the nationalisation of the Suez canal, a crucial international waterway. And so began the Suez Crisis and the slide into an ill-fated British military action mounted jointly with France and Israel. The Hour, a six-part series to be broadcast this summer, will follow the fortunes of three television news journalists as they cover the breaking story. Set in more or less the same period as Mad Men, with the glamorous costumes of the era, the show invites comparison, but the commissioning team behind The Hour say their screenplay, written by Abi Morgan, is an attempt to show a moment of irreversible change in the modern world. In a key episode, Whishaw's character, a young television journalist, gets hold of the Observer article before the newspaper has gone to print and uses it to spur his colleagues into running a controversial news report. His boss, played by Garai, is keen to follow the Observer's lead, but West, as the news programme's anchor man, has doubts. Whishaw's character asks him: 'Why should we be gagged when the newspapers can print what they like?' At the time, the Observer was strongly criticised for running the op ed piece, a decision taken by its editor David Astor and executed by the barrister and former Liberal MP Dingle Foot. Astor's risky move was prompted by the embarkation of a British invasion force from Cyprus. 'We wish to make an apology,' the leader ran. 'Five weeks ago we remarked that, though we knew our government would not make a military attack in defiance of its solemn international obligations, people abroad might think otherwise. The events of the past weeks have proved us wrong. We had not believed our government was capable of such folly and crookedness.' The last line was the editor's own addition. While the newspaper's circulation did not fall, Observer staff were accused of 'treachery' and 'lack of patriotism' by both the government and many of their colleagues at rival newspapers and advertising contracts were cancelled. Four of the paper's trustees resigned within a fortnight. Only the Gruniad Morning Star, at that time not connected to the Observer, carried similarly contentious, critical reports on the war. Largely because Top Gear hadn't, at that stage, been created and so they were forced to report some real frigging news. These reports were written by the correspondent James Morris, later to become the travel writer Jan Morris. 'It is a proud memory for me because we were right. I had been in the Middle East for a long time and made a decision to write for the Guardian because I did not believe in the war,' said Morris. 'I was very much in the thick of it, so it only came home to me later that the pieces I had written, particularly about secret French involvement in the Israeli action, had such a big impact and were a sort of turning point in national opinion.' Morris's front-page report in the Guardian on 20 November revealed that French pilots had joined the Israeli attack on Egypt. His later reports also revealed the French had been responsible for napalm attacks on Egyptian war vehicles in the desert. The allies attained their initial military objectives, but pressure from the international community forced a withdrawal. Britain and France did not gain control of the canal. The drama, which has a strong supporting cast, including Tim Pigott-Smith, Juliet Stevenson, Anton Lesser, Anna Chancellor and Julian Rhind-Tutt, is being filmed in London. 'The Hour signals the confident new direction that BBC2 drama is taking,' said the BBC's head of drama, Ben Stephenson. 'Viewers will witness the decade at its most exciting – from the ruthless sexual politics behind the polite social facade to the revelations that redefined the world for a new generation.'

A new BBC1 sitcom has 'caused a storm' over its use of bad language before it has even been broadcast. At least, it's 'caused a storm' in the Sunday Express, anyway. Mrs Brown's Boys, by the Irish comedian Brendan O'Carroll, will reportedly use the F-word thirty four times in thirty minutes, someone at the Express has counted. Although one is presuming that if this person subsequently managed to write about an article up about this then their head didn't, actually, explode. Which, surely, suggests that thirty four F-words in thirty minutes isn't fatal to 'nice people.' Whatever the Express or their lice mates at the Scum Mail might allege. The six-part series, based on O'Carroll's successful stage show, will go out at 10.35pm – well after the watershed. And the BBC said: 'The language within it is very much part of Mrs Brown's vernacular. The content will be clearly signposted for viewers.' Producer Stephen McCrum, who also brought Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps to the BBC, said it 'hasn't been the easiest thing' to get the language past executives. But he added: 'I don't think people are going to be sitting at home counting the swear words. It is refreshing for the BBC to find something that is so blue collar. BBC1 controller Danny Cohen has been talking about the non-middle class sitcom and the need to find them.' Mrs Brown is described a foul-mouthed Dublin matriarch who interferes in the lives of her children and friends.

Michael Rosenbaum has signed a last-minute deal to return for the upcoming Smallville finale, despite reports to the contrary. Over the course of this week it was claimed that Rosenbaum was uninterested in reprising his role as Clark Kent's nemesis Lex Luthor for the final episode of the long-running series. However, Smallville executive producers Kelly Sounders and Brian Peterson have now released a statement confirming that Rosenbaum will indeed return for one final appearance on the show. 'It feels like the stars are aligning, literally,' Sounders and Peterson said in the statement, published on Entertainment Weekly. 'We couldn't be more excited about having Michael back. And as far as the way he returns, there'll be no doubt about how Lex becomes the great rival in Clark Kent's life,' they added. 'He is the villain of the story.' Rosenbaum himself has also released a statement about his impending return to the show, claiming that he made the decision to return as a thank you to all the Smallville fans. 'I appreciate all of their passion, their relentlessness, and even their threats,' Rosenbaum said. The actor portrayed Luthor for the first seven seasons of the series, but made his last appearance in May 2008.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day we have a trio of twenty four carat guitar-based-rawk classics from the utterly brilliant That Petrol Emotion. Starting with some proper Manic Pop Thrills. We follow that, of course, with their 'hit', the fabulous 'Big Decision'. And finally, the little-seen "underwater" video for the single that should have been their crowning glory but, for some daft reason, never sold, 'Genius Move'. And, as a special bonus, here's an important statement on religion! What a band.

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