Friday, April 22, 2011

What's So Good About Good Friday?

Well, you get a day off work, I suppose. If you work in a bank. Anyway, yer actual Keith Telly Topping wishes to draw your kind attention, dear blog reader, to yet another very good Steven Moffat interview, this one with City Search: 'There's something very comically amusing about the Doctor stuck in the TARDIS with a married couple. It's not a place he ever intended to get to; it's not what he does. His MO with people is to have brief bursts of friendship before their lives get serious, and abandon them before he can screw up their lives completely. But here he is, more or less by accident, with a married couple in the TARDIS, which occasionally makes him faintly grumpy because that's rather more domestic than he ever likes to be. And I think it haunts him a little bit; while he adores them both, and they adore him in different ways, I think he does worry that he's hanging around in their lives too long, and he could cause harm, and that's not what he likes to do. Essentially, you have two really quite well-behaved and principled men in the Doctor and Rory, and then you have Amy Pond, who read the rule book once and laughed. So she's so badly behaved you never know quite what she has in mind. It's a fun relationship to write.'

Meanwhile BBC America, which broadcasts Doctor Who in the US, has given it a big marketing push. 'You cannot go anywhere in New York City right now without seeing a poster or something else about the show,' said Barnaby Edwards, an organiser of the fan group Doctor Who New York. 'People are talking about it and others have heard of it. I hear from new fans all the time who have discovered the show and then are hooked.' Increased exposure in the US is a prospect that delights Doctor Who's executive producer. 'I'm excited by any new audience for Doctor Who,' Moffat told the Gruniad. 'Getting the show to as many people as possible is what it's all about – this isn't a home movie we're making,' he added. 'An increased profile in America would be hugely beneficial to the strength and longevity of the show.' Aaron Cistrelli, president of the Time Meddlers of Los Angeles fan club, said attendance at the largest Doctor Who convention in the US was rising. 'Each year for the past three to four years, attendance has spiked dramatically, breaking record each time.' But while American fans are pleased to see the show set in the US, they hope Doctor Who retains its Britishness. 'I think part of the appeal is the British style, something that doesn't exist over here, and thus giving it a different quality than we are used to,' said Cistrelli. Moffat said that his decision to start the season in the US was not based on the fans. 'We just had a story that got us excited, and America was the natural setting. Truth is, an American setting isn't necessarily the way to an American audience's hearts, because it's not exactly something they're starved of. I was a huge fan of The West Wing, but I never sat wishing more of it was set in the House of Commons.'

Matt Smith has expressed pride over Doctor Who's growing popularity in America. Ahead of the BBC's popular SF family drama's sixth series premiere this weekend, the actor has told Entertainment Weekly that he wasn't prepared for the enthusiastic reaction he and his co-stars Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan received during a recent New York City screening. 'It's so overwhelming,' Matt noted. 'There's something wonderful about the way Americans communicate their enthusiasm for the show. It's overpoweringly wonderful.' The actor, who succeeded David Tennant as the Time Lord last year, went on to suggest that Americans have taken to the series because of the unique style in which Doctor Who presents The Doctor's adventures. He explained: 'It seems like there's a real appetite for science fiction in the States. The storytelling in Doctor Who is quite universal. I think there will always be stories that are interesting about this mad man who turns up and saves the universe with a cricket bat and piece of string and a toaster. There's something interestingly ridiculous about it. It's a wonderful televisual conceit. One of the greatest. But we really want to push it in the States and we want it to reach a wider audience.'

Arthur Darvill has suggested that his character Rory is more concerned with his wife Amy's safety than his own. In an interview with MTV, the actor hinted that Rory may clash with The Doctor this series because the Time Lord consistently puts Amy in harm's way. 'Amy's relationship with The Doctor has obviously grown, but Rory's relationship with [him] is really interesting as well,' Darvill said. 'If Amy wasn't there, they would be really good friends. I think they are really good friends, but as long as The Doctor keeps putting her in danger, I think Rory's going to get more and more angry about it.' Arthur continued: 'He really just wants everyone to be safe, but in a kind of selfless way. He's not too concerned about himself. Immediately, he's going to panic that he's going to die [if danger strikes], but he's far more concerned about Amy getting hurt.' Darvill claimed that that this season, viewers will see how encountering The Doctor has changed the way that the young married couple view the universe. 'I think travelling with The Doctor [has changed] their lives,' he added. 'As much as Rory wanted to have a quiet life before [meeting The Doctor], they [now] kind of wait for the next adventure.'

Stephen Fry and John Barrowman have been among those paying tribute to former Doctor Who star Lis Sladen, who died on Tuesday. The actress died at the age of sixty three following a battle with cancer. Fry has paid his respects writing on Twitter: 'What terribly sad news about Elisabeth Sladen - her Sarah Jane was part of my childhood. Deepest sympathy to her family.' And Barrowman, who co-starred with Sladen when she returned to the show in 2006, wrote: 'Elisabeth Sladen, Matriarch of Doctor Who - I loved my time on [sic] the TARDIS with her. I am proud to have worked with such an icon of the sci-fi world. Your Doctor Who family are very sad and will miss you and your beautiful smile. RTD called me this morning when I woke up. She lived in my flat in Cardiff when she was filming The Sarah Jane Adventures. She was a delight. Can't tell you how sad I am. I wanted to let you know I got the news as a lot of you were concerned. I'm off to chill, I hope you understand.'

An archaeological research team in Northumberland has unearthed a medieval hall underneath Bamburgh Castle, the staggeringly beautiful Eleventh Century fortress on the Northumberland coastline directly opposite the island of Lindisfarne. Bamburgh Castle Research Project dug a small trench under the inner courtyard at the core of the castle and discovered an Anglo-Saxon hall. The team believes that the discovery probably dates back to the early medieval period. The dig was carried out after the researchers invited Channel Four's Time Team to the castle to help them with their latest archaeological project. Graham Young, Director of Bamburgh Castle Research Project, said: 'Although it's a small trench, because we've seen rock-cut structural features elsewhere, we can fit that into a background. We know it's occupied, it's written about in contemporary texts so it's fascinating to see the actual material itself, the archaeology.' They believe that it is a medieval floor surface and the posthole underneath could date back even earlier than medieval times. Young added: 'It's brilliant, it's a perfect excuse to go and actually look right at the heart of the fortress because you need a good excuse to go right into the very focus of everything and it fits in. We've been there for quite a while now and it's very nice to get lots of external experts in and sort of see it through fresh eyes.' The Time Team archaeologists were at the site for three days last summer and the episode will be broadcast on Sunday. Young said: 'We expected it to be chaotic having a film crew arrive and we weren't disappointed in any way because it was. They did an amazing job, much better than we could ever have done in reinstating the turf, which I'm sure Davie, who cuts the grass lovingly, was very relieved about.'

Gary Barlow has reportedly entered 'advanced talks' to replace Simon Cowell on The X Factor. It was confirmed last week that the music mogul will not appear as a weekly judge on the next UK series of the show. Cowell will continue to play a role on the programme, but will focus on the judging panel for the US version. Barlow was previously linked to the show, with reports at the time claiming that he was just 'days away' from signing up. According to the Daily Scum Mail, a 'show insider' has now allegedly 'confirmed' that the Take That singer is 'our favourite for the job. We are in discussions and we should have something to announce in the next couple of weeks,' the 'insider' allegedly told the paper. 'What Gary and Simon both have is an innate understanding of the music industry and what you need to succeed - that determination. Gary would be a great judge,' he added, creaming in his own pants it would seem. It is also claimed that ITV bosses are now rescheduling auditions for May, to work alongside Take That's upcoming Progress Live tour. Dannii Minogue and Louis Walsh are both expected to sign new contracts for the show, despite recent reports in the ever reliable News Of The Scum that both were to be 'axed'. Perhaps they misheard an 'insider' with a speech impediment saying they were to be 'asked.' Perhaps we'll never care. Reports also suggest that Cheryl Cole will officially quit if she is confirmed for the US judging panel. An X Factor spokesperson said: 'We will announce the new X Factor judges in due course and everything is speculation at this stage.' So, what else is new.

The son of Sir Matt Busby is said to be 'furious' with the way in which the legendary Manchester United manager has been portrayed in a new film to be broadcast by the BBC on Sunday. What the hell is it about the families of football managers who get all uppity when somebody portrays them in a fictional drama that's anything short of a hagiography? First Clough's family over The Damned United, now this? Not deferential enough for you, was it? The drama, United, tells the story of the Munich air disaster in 1958 when eight members of the 'Busby Babes' squad were killed in an air crash on their way back from a European Cup tie in Belgrade. Busby himself was also seriously injured in the crash. His son, Sandy, and Harry Gregg, one of the survivors of the crash, have 'expressed anger' at a film that is 'riddled with inaccuracies and paints a false picture of the most tragic and significant episode in United's history,' according to the Daily Mirra. Busby told the paper: 'The film-makers have put my dad in an overcoat and a trilby hat. He looks more like a gangster than a football manager.' Oh, for Christ's sake who cares about trivia like that? It's a dramatisation not a documentary. 'In the film he never appears in a tracksuit, which is ridiculous, given he was the first "tracksuit manager" of his generation. And the way he's played, with head constantly to one side, is all wrong. My father was a proud man, proud of his fitness and of the way he carried himself. They've also got his character all wrong. In one scene, my dad is talking to (then Football League secretary) Alan Hardaker and speaks to him in a manner and in a tone my father would never have used. I wasn't consulted about this film and, after seeing it, I'm glad I had nothing to do with it. The film-makers said they would protect the feelings of those relatives affected by the Munich disaster. But I was very upset watching the scene involving the third take-off of the aeroplane and had to leave the room.' Former United goalkeeper Gregg, who survived the Munich crash, added: 'Sir Matt had an aura about him and everyone respected him. But he certainly didn't walk about in a trilby and a camel hair coat, as he does in the film. The film gives a totally false picture of football at that time, which is what angered me the most.' No, seemingly what angered you most was some elements of fashion. It's also rather ironic that a very simple Internet word search of the words 'Matt' and 'Busby' on Google Images produces the - behatted - image on the left. Optical illusion, the hat, is it? 'In the film, Mark Jones (a United defender who died in the crash) is smoking a pipe in the tunnel before a game. I know there's poetic licence, but that's ridiculous.' Scottish actor Dougray Scott, who played Busby, said: 'I really enjoyed playing him. He was a great character to play. Like anything I do, I did my research and tried to find out as much about the man as you possibly can in the time that you’ve got.'

Martin Kemp has applauded Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace for their emotional performances on EastEnders during the climax of the controversial baby-swap storyline. Viewers were left shocked when Ronnie Branning, played by Samantha Womack, swapped her lifeless baby James with Wallace's character Kat's newborn Tommy at New Year. After a suspiciously concerted and agenda-ridden campaign of screamed tabloid headlines, thousands of viewers complained over the plot. On Friday, Branning was seen confessing the baby snatch. Monday's episode of the soap showed Kat and Alfie, played by Richie, reunited with Tommy. Kemp - who portrayed Steve Owen on the soap from 1998 until 2002 - has applauded their performances. In a series of posts on his Twitter page, he wrote: 'Shane and Jessie. Hats off! For me the baby story was the best they have ever had on the show. Controversial but captivating better than another murder. Little Tommy. What a break. Job for life eh! Better get his equity card sorted. He will be on repeat fees before he's six weeks old! It was far fetched, yes but that's TV. Dramatic license. If it was real, how boring would that be!' Ask Sandy Busby and Harry Gregg, mate, that's their aim it would seem.

Morrissey, the former Smiths' frontman, has claimed that killing a stag is 'no different to killing a child.' Which it, patently, isn't since as far as this blogger is aware, a stag has never grown up to become the president of the Board of Trade. Or, played centre half for Hartlepool or achieved membership of a rhythmic dance troupe. See, Mozza, totally different.

Hoover has reportedly pulled its adverts from ABC in reaction to the broadcasters cancellation of All My Children and One Life to Live. When advertisers decide to pull their products from a broadcaster it is usually the result of intense lobbying by unhappy conservative pressure groups over some controversy or other. It's quite rare for an advertiser to make such a unilateral move over a cancellation of a TV show but that's, seemingly, what has happened here. The move by Hoover is a big boost for fans of both soaps who are campaigning for there survival and also to the casts and crews of both serials. Hoovers' Vice President of Marketing, Brian Kirkendall, has written an open letter to fans of both soaps on the company's Facebook page. The message discusses ABC's axings and urges fans to e-mail Hoover showing support for both soaps and promises to pass on every e-mail sent to ABC. 'To all the loyal ABC soap fans, I want you to know from me personally that we hear you loud and clear. My wife and mother are both passionate viewers of All My Children and One Life to Live, as are many of my colleagues here at Hoover.' Ah, so it's self-interest and nepotism, then? (And, probably some nagging from his missus, I'll bet.) That's explained that. 'We were and are as disappointed with this news as you are. In fact, we will discontinue our advertising with ABC this Friday.' What's that old adage about their being no such thing as bad publicity?

Actress Angel Coulby, who plays Gwen on BBC1's Merlin, has hinted at the future of Gwen's relationship with Arthur in the fantasy drama's fourth series, which is currently filming. Speaking to the Digital Spy website at the launch of the new Merlin: The Dragon Tower attraction at Warwick Castle, Coulby revealed: 'She's obviously no longer Morgana's maid servant, but she's been looking after the King. That's what she's been doing in the year that Morgana's been away.' Discussing the possibility of a public relationship between Gwen and Arthur (Bradley James) in series four, she teased: 'I think you can say that it probably will be. You see that happen at the end of series three. You seem them embrace and kiss in public, so I think Gwen certainly hopes that they're moving in that direction.' The actress also confirmed the return of the character of Lancelot in series four, played by Santiago Cabrera: 'Lancelot does come back. I don't know how long he'll be around for, but he definitely comes back! I don't know what's happening with him and Gwen. I think at the moment she's focused on Arthur. He's there for her and Lancelot keeps disappearing!'

Organisers of an annual female comedy competition have apologised after an online row with comics over charging a fifteen quid entrance fee. Sarah Millican, Shappi Khorsandi and Jo Caulfield were among those who took to Twitter criticising Funny Women. Responding in a blog post, Funny Women accused the comedians of 'a knee jerk reaction' to the decision. Organiser Lynne Parker has since apologised, saying she had been 'hugely hurt' by the comments. Ooo, never post angry, love. It's a recipe for disaster. In announcing the launch of the competition on Tuesday, organisers said that the registration fee would go towards its running costs. Speaking to the BBC News website on Thursday, Parker said that she was now 'reviewing the situation and taking some of the more positive responses on board.' The organiser said the competition - which is now in its ninth year - lost its sponsorship two years ago. Parker said the registration fee was to be used to fund two part-time staff and promotion. But comedians criticised the registration fee as no other comedy competition currently charges for entry. Millican wrote: 'Advice to any budding female comedians, no need to pay to play. Just be funny, write loads and work very hard.' Caulfield, who was previously hired to be the face of the Funny Women Awards for three years, wrote: 'Funny Women have finally proved it is harder for women in comedy because men aren't charged fifteen pounds. Please reconsider this ridiculous idea. As the website face of Funny Women I advise all new comics not to enter my competition,' she added. On Wednesday, an anonymous blog post on Funny Women's website responded: 'Female comics are constantly battling the stigma that they are nothing but bitchy and irrational bodies.' Male comedians also commented on the fee, with Richard Herring saying: 'All comedians, new and old, male and female, good and crap (especially crap) should oppose pay to play.' An apology was posted on the Funny Women blog on Thursday with Parker saying the earlier post was because she 'was so shocked at the responses' to the decision. 'I am a great personal fan of some of my worst critics and just so sorry that this has all been taken out of context. I really hope that we can all get past this and move on,' the post added.

Ricki Lake is heading back to TV with a new talk show, seven years after her long-running self-titled series came to an end. The forty two year old spent eleven years on air with her daytime chat show before it was cancelled in 2004. She has since dabbled in other TV projects, making a documentary about childbirth and a stint hosting reality programme Charm School, but she has now signed a deal with Twentieth Television to develop another talk show. Stephen Brown, senior vice-president of programming and development at Twentieth, told Reuters, 'Ricki is a pop culture icon who has built a career on her candid, straight-talk sensibility and her authentic, relatable nature.'

For the last fifty years, kiss and tell stories have been guaranteed sales-winners for most popular newspapers. The earliest examples – Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies in 1963 – were relatively tame stuff compared with their modern equivalents. In the mid-70s, the Sunday Mirra ran a series by Nigerian-born model and actor Minah Ogbenyealu Bird which marked a turning point and the 'three-in-a-bed-sex-romp! Shock! Pictures!' "exclusive" was born. The genre has become increasingly salacious in the intervening years, as women have revealed ever more intimate details of their big hot sweaty couplings to papers so grateful for such indiscretions that they shell out thousands of pounds for the privilege of publishing them to give their readers The Horn. But the courts appear to be drawing the curtains on the bedroom antics of high-profile alleged philanderers by denying the women their potential fifteen minutes of infamy. They have granted gagging orders to a string of celebrities – actors, footballers, even a banker. Though frequently labelled 'super-injunctions,' they are not of the same ilk as the case which prompted the original coining of the term, because it referred to the fact that the very existence of the injunction in question must remain, in and of itself, a secret. In more recent cases, the 'super-injunction' soubriquet has been applied when the courts have merely decided that the identity of the person requesting the gag cannot be published. Bizarrely, however, we do get to know the details of their alleged misdemeanours. So, when the appeal court this week granted a gagging order to a married man 'in the entertainment business,' we learned that he had had an affair with a married woman who was a colleague. And, we also discovered that the affair ended badly for the mistress. More surprising still, the judge made his decision in this case in order to protect the man's teenage children. The adultery 'may satisfy public prurience,' he remarked, 'but that is not a sufficient justification for interfering in the privacy rights of those involved.' What, one might legitimately ask, of the mistress's rights to freedom of expression? The same question could be asked in relation to many similar cases, where men who can afford up to fifty thousand pounds to obtain court orders prevent women from selling their 'my sex shame' stories to the press. Injunctions have been granted to footballers and to a married actor who is said to have paid for sex with a prostitute who previously had a dalliance with Wayne Rooney. There may be as many as thirty such injunctions in force, though the actual number is uncertain. Many women feel this is iniquitous, arguing that it is an abuse of power by men. They are supported by editors who are desperate to publish the stories, and who view injunctions as a threat to press freedom.

Pope Benedict has made history as the first pontiff to take part in a televised question-and-answer session. The pre-recorded programme was broadcast on the Italian Rai channel on Good Friday afternoon. Seven questions were chosen from thousands submitted for the Pope to answer during the eighty-minute programme. Most of the questions, from people across the world, dealt with the struggle with suffering. TV viewers saw a split screen, with the Pope sitting in the Vatican library and those asking the questions filmed near their homes. The first question was asked by a seven-year-old Japanese girl traumatised by the recent devastating earthquake and tsunami. She asked why she and other children should have to feel afraid. The Pope replied that he had also asked himself the same question. 'We do not have the answers but we know that Jesus suffered as you do,' he said. Another question came from the Italian mother of a boy in a long-term coma. She asked if he still had a soul, to which the Pope replied that, yes, his soul is still present in his body. 'The situation, perhaps, is like that of a guitar whose strings have been broken and therefore can no longer play,' he said. 'The instrument of the body is fragile like that, it is vulnerable, and the soul cannot play, so to speak, but remains present.' Quite a poetic answer, that, actually. To a Muslim woman in the Côte d'Ivoire who asked his advice about how to cope with the conflict that has afflicted her country recently, the Pope said that people should look to Christ as an example of peace. 'Violence never comes from God, never helps bring anything good, but is a destructive means and not the path to escape difficulties,' he said. He told Christian students in Iraq - when asked how to encourage fellow Christians not to flee the country - that the Church was encouraging dialogue between religions. The BBC's Duncan Kennedy, watching the programme, noted that it would be viewed by critics as very controlled and a little sanitised. There was no opportunity to ask tough questions of the Church, such as about the priestly sex scandals that overshadowed the Church's Easter celebrations last year. But the Vatican will probably have viewed it as a first step in their overall effort to be more accountable and transparent, arising from accusations that the Church was failing to be open about the abuse scandal. Until now, the Pope has only ever taken questions from journalists on planes during foreign trips. The programme was recorded in the Vatican library a week ago, and was timed to go out on Good Friday - around the time that Jesus is traditionally believed to have taken his last breath. The show's host, Rosario Carello, said the project initially seemed 'crazy,' but they saw 'something in Pope Benedict's style that caused them to at least propose this idea to him. We proposed it and he accepted.'

Sean Bean has revealed that he will never get married again. The fifty one-year-old Lord Of The Rings actor, who divorced fourth wife Georgina Sutcliffe in December last year, said that despite his lack of luck in marriage, he still believes in 'true love.' Bean told Gloria magazine: 'Of course I believe in love despite four divorces. There is nobody who doesn't believe in love. But marriage? That fits some people, but obviously not me.' The couple's 2008 wedding was called off twenty four hours before it was due to take place because of 'personal reasons' but was later rescheduled. They separated last summer and Sutcliffe cited 'irreconcilable differences' in her divorce petition. Bean later said: 'It seems I'm young, free and single again. I wouldn't say what has happened has put me off women, and as for marrying again, well I just can't say.' He has also had previous failed marriages with first girlfriend Debra James, Joe Maddison's War actress Melanie Hill and his Sharpe co-star Abigail Cruttenden.

Insulted Greeks are reported to be suing a German magazine over a cover story showing the Greek goddess Aphrodite sticking up her middle finger and an article which called them 'the cheats in the Euro family.' Which, frankly, makes a change from Mexicans threatening to sue Top Gear. Six Greek citizens are taking action against journalists working for the weekly German magazine Focus, including the magazine's then editor-in-chief and publisher, Helmut Markwort. 'Will the Greeks make off with our money?' the magazine asked on its front cover last February. Tapping into growing German fears of a Greek bailout at the height of the financial crisis, the article depicted a country swamped in debt which had cheated its way into the Eurozone. More than a year after the article appeared, a state prosecutor in Athens is now investigating the magazine for libel and insult, according to the German newspaper, Handelsblatt. 'It was a legitimate, satirical commentary,' said Markwort. In fact, he added, he was playing them at their own game. 'After all, the Greeks invented satire.' But the arguments made then still ring true today, according to Markwort. 'The Greeks tricked us. Their problems haven't gone away,' he said. 'Quite the opposite. The government lied, but instead of getting angry with their government, they're getting angry with us.' When the magazine hit the newsstands, it triggered an extended slanging match between the German and Greek tabloids. Eleftheros Typos, an Athens daily, responded by printing a doctored photograph of the statue atop Berlin's victory column holding a swastika and warning of financial Nazism in Europe. The media brawl also had diplomatic consequences when the president of the Greek parliament summoned the German ambassador to complain about the media coverage. Although Focus employees say they have not been charged, a freelance journalist has received a court summons, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. Markwort is not sure he would appear in an Athens court. 'Don't get me wrong. I love Greek culture,' he said. 'I learned ancient Greek for years at school. I'd go there on holiday, but I don't want to end up in jail. I don't trust the Greek justice system.'

The Serious Fraud Office is examining a con that allegedly took in Sven-Göran Eriksson and the North Korean government, the BBC's Panorama has claimed. Investigators are also looking at how the same conman 'stole a football club' and broke a bank. Convicted fraudster Russell King persuaded the former England manager to join Notts County FC as director of football and to visit North Korea. King denies any fraud and said he was just a consultant on the deals. Eriksson was appointed at Notts County in July 2009 following a takeover of the League Two club that promised to bring millions of pounds of Middle Eastern investment. 'For me as a football man it was fantastic, building a club from the bottom of League Two and having the funding to do it, to be a Premier League club. It's like a dream, so I signed. Big mistake,' Sven said of the deal. The promised money never arrived and the club was left seven million smackers in debt. Eriksson says there were early signs that all was not as it seemed. 'I started to have doubts when they came and told me the milk bill has not been paid,' he said. King claimed that his Swiss-based mining company had assets worth almost two trillion dollars because it had the rights to North Korea's gold, coal and iron ore. He told Eriksson the Notts County's promised cash would come from that mining deal. He then persuaded Sven to join a delegation visiting Pyongyang in October 2009. 'I was in the palace and they were handing over to the North Korean government so-called shares,' Eriksson told Panorama. 'I asked them how much that was and what they told me was not millions, it was billions of dollars. They used my name. Of course they did. At the end it became a big, big mistake.' Russell King's business deals had credibility, the programme alleges, because they appeared to have the backing of First London plc, an investment bank with advisers including Conservative MP Tim Yeo and Air Marshal Sir John Walker, a former British spymaster. The bank sent Sir John, a former head of defence intelligence, to check out King and the Korean deal, but he was also, apparently, taken in. Walker said of the deal: 'What do I think of Russell King? Not a lot. He was good at chat, but that was his business. He was a con man. I was taken the same way Sven was taken. They just wanted names.' King also managed to get control of almost half of First London plc without paying a penny for the shares, after he convinced its bankers he was managing billions of dollars for the Bahraini royal family. But Fawaz Al Khalifa, President of the Bahraini Information Affairs Authority, says that King was lying about his royal connections: 'He might have met members of the family here or there, but we have no financial connection to him or his company.' First London PLC went into administration last year with debts of almost nine million pounds and the Financial Services Authority has been examining the deal that gave King control of forty nine per cent of its shares. The FSA has now passed its finding to the Serious Fraud Office. 'In this case the acquisition of control occurred without the FSA having been given the prior notice which the law requires it to be given,' said an FSA spokesman. First London plc's parent company, First London Group plc, is still in business. In a statement, its lawyers said that the failure to notify the FSA about the change in ownership was a mistake that had been rectified: 'This was simply an error and not done for any ulterior or questionable motive. As far as our client is aware the FSA were satisfied that the information provided was in compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements. Our client is unaware of any investigation by the FSA or SFO.' King, who was jailed for insurance fraud in 1991, denies any involvement in the running of Notts County or First London plc. But Panorama has obtained dozens of e-mails and numerous testimonies which seem to show that he was secretly pulling the strings at Notts County. King even referred to himself as Lord Voldemort, the character from the Harry Potter novels who 'can never be named.' The club had been owned by a supporters' trust, but King persuaded the fans to sell it for just one pound after they met one of his supposedly wealthy benefactors in Bahrain. Abid Hyat Khan was introduced as a Middle Eastern prince, but Panorama has discovered he is actually on the run from British police. He absconded from the UK in 2008, when he was due to stand trial for allegedly stealing almost one million pounds. Khan denies posing as a prince. Peter Trembling who was appointed as Executive Chairman at Notts County told the Nottingham Post how he became involved with King. He said that he was introduced to King, who was then based in Jersey, by his friend Nathan Willett in 2005. Trembling said he had become close friends with Willett after meeting him through work in Dubai in 2000. He said: 'Russell King wanted to get involved in my business at the time, Affinity Partnerships, which worked with lots of banks as a credit card consultant. He said he had contacts all over the world and I'd make a lot of money.' Trembling added that, in the following year, King and Willett left Jersey for Bahrain. He said that he stayed in touch with them and, in early 2009, they contacted him asking his advice about investing in an English football club. 'They had tried to buy Newcastle United,' he said. 'I told them they were better off going for a smaller club and building it up. At one stage, they were looking at all sorts of clubs. Liverpool was on the radar. Then they said they had the money to buy Notts County.'

Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham has reportedly been given special permission to fly to London for the royal wedding on Friday 29 April before returning to the United States a day later in time for his side's Major League match at FC Dallas. Of course, what would be really hilarious is if Becks gets to the Abbey and finds out that his invite had all been a big mistake.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day we have two whopping great slabs of yer actual funky funk from former president of funk George Clinton and his funky parliament, yer actual Funkadelic. Feet don't fail me now. And now, please be upstanding for the national anthem.

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