Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Got My Eyes Wide Open And I See The Signs

The latest announcement from the official Torchwood Twitter page is as follows: 'As for UK airdate, we've been informed that BBC will not announce anything until perhaps two weeks before. We'll still keep our ears open.' They also report that the first four episodes of the forthcoming Miracle Day 'are now complete. Episodes five and six [are] picture locked moving to sound.' Of course, as we've known for some time the US premier for the opening episode of Miracle Day will be on 8 July. Meanwhile the latest Miracle Day trailer is currently doing the rounds on the Internet. Pretty damn fantastic its looks too. (Bless her, Gwen's final fine shortly before she punches out whatsherface-off-Dollhouse is worth the two year wait alone!)
Don't mess with mommy! It's great to have John, Eve and Kai back.

Matt Smith appeared on The ONE Show on Tuesday evening, where he chatted with Matt Baker and that bloody Jones woman about finding football more nerve-wracking than the BAFTAs, his stunt work in Doctor Who, and of course next week's episode The Almost People. Well, as much as could be revealed anyway - during which he also described The Doctor as the 'cleverest and vainest man in the world, sadly.' The item was accompanied by a previously unseen clip of The Doctor and his Ganger clone from Saturday's episode. Matt also talks about the back injury which force him to give up his promising football career in his late teens. When asked if he intends carrying on in the role, Matt answered that he would be for the foreseeable future, and on the subject of next season he said: 'I hope so! If not then I'm panicking!' A short Q&A session occured at the end, in which Matt said that Day of the Moon was his favourite episode so far, the Silence were the scariest monster, and the Silence and the Weeping Angels were his favourites Matt Baker also commented in passing how he'd been lambasted by fans for calling the character Doctor Who when soliciting for the questions Twitter earlier in the day! Oooo, elementary schoolboy-type error that, Matthew. Surest way under the sun to piss off a Doctor Who fan!

A long-lost BBC drama starring the young Sir Ian McKellen in one of his first TV roles has been found after nearly fifty years. The actor, currently filming The Hobbit in New Zealand, couldn't look more different to his role as Gandalf in the rediscovered drama. He appears as a dark-haired and fresh-faced twenty five-year-old in the black-and-white costume drama The Tomb Of His Ancestors, made by the BBC in 1964. McKellen plays a character named Plowden in the fifty-minute production (first broadcast in August 1964), based on a short story by Kipling. The programme, filmed as part of series Kipling: The Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling, was no longer thought to exist – a victim of the BBC's infamous and once-common policy of wiping old recordings to reuse the tapes. But a print survived in a private collection belonging to a historical society in Illinois, and was bought by a consortium led by classic TV organisation Kaleidoscope. Speaking for the consortium, also comprising missing episode enthusiasts Steve Birt and Tim Disney, Kaleidoscope's Chris Perry described the McKellen drama as 'an important find.' He said: 'The Tomb Of His Ancestors is a vintage piece of BBC drama set in the days of the British Raj and is especially important because of its connection to Sir Ian McKellen. For the first time in nearly fifty years we can once again watch the very first TV appearance by one of the UK's greatest living actors.' Broadcast between July and December 1964, Kipling featured performances from the likes of David Hemmings, Michael Bates, Alfred Burke, Barbara Murray, Keith Barron and Patrick Troughton. The new discovery doubles the number of known surviving Kipling episodes, with twenty three out of the original twenty five productions still missing. Also recovered by the consortium were two other previously believed-lost BBC programmes: a 1950s ballet production of Giselle, and an August 1963 episode of the BBC anthology series Suspense, starring Sylvia Simms and entitled Miranda and a Salesman.

The latest episode of Qi was scheduled to be filmed on Tuesday evening with the theme of Idleness. The panel included Jeremy Clarkson, Ross Noble and Dara O'Briain. However, a few hours before filming was due to take place Stephen Fry tweeted: 'Oh dear - hope Qi won't be cancelled tonight. In hospital. Something weirdly wrong with cornea in left eye. Praps [sic] painkillers & eyepatches.' Ow. Two hours later, however, Stephen was able to confirm: 'The show goes on. Ointments and unguents have prevailed. Left eye looks a bit sleepy but all is fine!'

And, speaking of people with weird eyes, Claudia Winkleman has reportedly quit Strictly Come Dancing companion programme It Takes Two. According to the Sun, the host has stepped down from presenting the show due to her current pregnancy, which she announced in March. The thirty nine-year-old, who started presenting the BBC2 spin-off series in 2004, is apparently due to give birth just weeks before the next series of the competition launches in the autumn. 'No more It Takes Two,' Winkleman is quoted as saying. 'I can't believe it. I will miss it so much.' However, she is believed to be continuing with her role co-presenting the Strictly Come Dancing results shows alongside Tess Daly.

Jeff Stelling has announced that he will step down from presenting the long-running Channel Four series Countdown at the end of the year. Stelling, who has presented the programme since January 2009, is leaving the show to focus on his career as a sports presenter. 'I'll give you a little world exclusive,' Stelling told Tenerife's Oasis FM yesterday. 'Because I'm doing the Champions League for Sky next season I've actually resigned from Countdown and I'll be finishing at the end of December. You've got to really have your priorities and my priority is football. I love it, and Soccer Saturday, so I've committed myself very much to that next season.' Stelling presented the show alongside co-host Rachel Riley, who took over from Carol Vorderman in 2009. On saying goodbye to Riley, Stelling added: 'That'll be really, really sad. We've had some great times and I'll miss her.' A spokesperson for Channel Four confirmed that the network has already begun the search for a new presenter. 'Jeff will continue to present Countdown until the end of the year,' the spokesperson said. 'He's had a brilliant three years on the show and we're sad to see him go.' They added: 'We're already talking to a number of people to find a replacement.'

Dannii Minogue did not receive a one-off payment to quit The X Factor, a 'source' - anonymous, of course - has maintained. The talent judge quit the singing competition earlier this month, citing clashes with the recording of the Australia's Got Talent live shows. Of rumours that Simon Cowell paid Minogue a 'golden farewell' fee of seven hundred and fifty thousand smackers, the 'source' - still anonymous - told that beacon of truth and honesty Heat magazine: 'Her getting a pay-off is nonsense. She wasn't even under contract - they're not going to give her money for nothing.' The 'source' allegedly also denied that Minogue was upset the show dates were seemingly switched to benefit Gary Barlow, who has touring commitments with Take That. 'When she made her decision, she didn't know who the other judges were, but reading between the lines, it looks as though they might have changed the dates to suit him,' the 'source' allegedly said. 'She couldn't do those dates anyway and so was prepared to walk away. But there's no bad feeling.' Former Strictly Come Dancing judge and well-known faceache (and drag) Arlene Phillips meanwhile has 'urged' Minogue to 'move and go with it.' Something which well-known faceache (and drag) Phillips herself had shown remarkable difficulty in doing since just about every time she's been quoted in a newspaper for the last two years it's been concerning some aspect of the shown which she was fired from.

There's a very good piece by the great Graham Lineham on the BBC website concerning how he both started and perpetuated the entire 'Osama bin Laden was a fan of The IT Crowd' rumour to, Graham claims, 'illustrate the lightning speed at which a rumour can circulate and mutate on Twitter.' But, mainly, 'because I thought it would be funny! It appears that one good way of starting a rumour is to pretend that the story is already circulating.'

The latest Ofcom monthly bulletin has been released. One bit particularly tickled this blogger. And I used that word as in 'amused' rather than 'sexually aroused': 'Red Light Central is televised interactive adult sex chat advertisement content broadcast on the service Extreme, which is available freely without mandatory restricted access on Sky channel number 916. This channel is situated in the 'adult' section of the Sky Electronic Programme Guide. The licence for this service is owned and operated by Playboy UK TV Limited. Viewers are invited to contact onscreen female presenters via premium rate telephony services. The female presenters dress and behave in a sexually provocative way while encouraging viewers to contact the PRS numbers. Ofcom received a complaint about alleged "inappropriate adult content" broadcast at various times between 21:00 and 21:50 on 23 February 2011. The complainant considered the content was highly sexualised and that the presenter was "miming sexual intercourse and oral sex" and considered such material was more appropriate after 22:00. Ofcom noted the female presenter was wearing red fishnet stockings, red bra and thong, black knee high leather boots, a short black leather skirt hitched up around her waist and a denim waistcoat.' [My italics.] To which the obvious next comment is, 'I'll bet they did notice that.' The report goes on: 'On several occasions between 21:00 and 21:30, and throughout the remainder of the broadcast, the presenter knelt on all fours with her buttocks pointing upwards and towards the camera but at an angle, and lay on her back with her legs open to camera. While in these positions she gyrated her hips in a sexual manner so as to mimic sexual intercourse and at times her genital area was not adequately covered. She also stroked her thighs and breasts, opened her mouth in a sexual rather than flirtatious manner, and briefly mimed oral sex.' Gosh. So, if you missed it ... tough. One also notes that ten gloriously sad people appear to have complained to Ofcom about Kenny Dalglish swearing - and, with some satisfaction that Ofcom seems to have, basically, told them to go forth and multiply. Only, not in so many words. Also, is it just me or does anybody else find it hilarious that Carry On Matron got twice as many - rejected - complaints about 'sexual material' as Christopher and his Kind?! It's a funny world we live in, dear blog reader.

And so we come to the subject of Ryan Giggs. As dear blog readers may know, he is a well-known footballer with Scumchester United and Wales, but that's not really important right now. Following the events of this week, however, the future use of injunctions could be in doubt after Giggs's name was mentioned in Parliament. Lib Dem MP John Hemming claimed that the player's lawyers had taken out an injunction in a Commons question on privacy orders effectively meaning that the press, which had thus far been unable to talk about the case due to the injunction, were now free to report what Hemming had said under parliamentary privilege. The prime minister had already used an appearance of ITV breakfast flop Daybreak to call for a review into the use of injunctions, describing the current situation as 'unsustainable.' The BBC's legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman said that the system was now looking 'weak and fractured.' Using parliamentary privilege to break the court order, Hemming said it would not be practical to imprison the estimated seventy five thousand Twitter users who had named the player. The High Court rejected two attempts on Monday to overturn the ban, the first after the Scottish paper the Sunday Herald named the footballer, and the second after Hemming's action. Media lawyers believe it is likely that the publishers of the Sun newspaper will try to get it lifted again soon. The player obtained the order against ex-Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas, who is a former Miss Wales, and against the Sun which seemingly planned to publish a 'you'll never guess who's boinking whom' type story in April. The footballer's lawyers have also obtained a High Court order asking Twitter to reveal details of users who had revealed his identity after thousands named him. That move, however, seems to have spectacularly backfired as its only direct result was that Twitter users got annoyed at having their right to, well gossip essentially, potentially threatened and took the only action open to them - massive disobedience. The Attorney General Dominic Grieve has updated the Cabinet following the announcement of a joint committee of peers and MPs to investigate the use of privacy orders. The prime minister's official spokesman said that David Cameron had described what was happening as unsustainable, with privacy law evolving through judgements and information circulating on the Internet. He said the committee had been established that it was a complicated issue and required serious thought. No shit, Sherlock. You think? Coleman added that if no solution could be found there could be a stream of cases going to the European Court of Human Rights complaining that the government had failed to protect their right to privacy. Conservative MP John Whittingdale who will chair the committee on privacy, said that ministers needed to act quickly. 'The Internet is already distributing names of people who have injunctions on a daily basis. The law is clearly not working. And that's not a situation we can allowed to continue for long,' he said. Parliamentary privilege protects MPs and peers from prosecution for statements made in the House of Commons or the House of Lords. Qualified privilege allows newspapers to report what MPs have said under parliamentary privilege. Thus newspapers - and, indeed, this blog - can now report that John Hemming has claimed Ryan Giggs has taken out an injunction but much other reporting of the nuts-and-bolts of the case is still covered by the injunction and breaking that could result in a contempt of court. Addressing MPs on Monday, Hemming said that: 'with about seventy five thousand people having named Ryan Giggs it is obviously impracticable to imprison them all.' House of Commons speaker John Bercow interrupted the MP saying: 'Let me just say to the honourable gentleman, I know he's already done it, but occasions such as this are occasions for raising the issues of principle involved, not seeking to flout for whatever purpose.' Hemming later told the BBC why he had named Giggs. 'Basically when he showed that he was going to go after relatively normal people and try and prosecute them, for gossiping about him on a matter of trivia, I think he has to be held to account for that,' he said. He also told the Mirra: 'In Burma they jail people for criticising the king and people here are up in arms. Here they threaten to jail people for criticising a footballer and the lawyers say I should not name the footballer.' Whittingdale said he 'regretted' Hemming's use of parliamentary privilege to name Giggs. 'Firstly because I think, if MPs think the law is wrong then we should change the law rather then flout the law,' he said. 'And secondly because the result of that is that the only thing being reported is the name of Ryan Giggs and we're rather losing sight of the bigger issue, which is how the law of privacy is operating in the UK.' Which, loathed as one is to agree with a Tory about anything, is probably true. Liberal Democrat peer Lord Carlile said some Twitter users 'can and possibly should' be brought before the court for contempt, if they're found to have breached the gagging order. And some politicians could and probably should be jailed for fiddling their expenses, yer Lordship, what's your point? Publicist Max Clifford, who is representing Thomas, said that the irony was if Giggs had not taken out an injunction in the first place, the alleged affair would probably not have become public. 'It's only because of that, and of course the fact that, in the superinjunction that he got to protect his privacy and that of his family, he named Imogen, that the whole thing started down that trail that led to it coming out in Parliament,' he told Daybreak. Because, of course, Miss Thomas herself (see left) is so notoriously publicity-shy, is she not?

This whole saga has had a couple of unexpectedly hilarious spin-offs, however. One is that The Scum are unlikely to be able to ban a reporter who dared to ask manager twisty sour-faced Victor Meldrew clone Sir Alex Ferguson a question about Ryan Giggs. Well, flog him through the streets for such impertinence Rob Harris of The Associated Press posed a question to Ferguson about the winger at a media day held by UEFA on Tuesday. Giggs had, as noted, been identified in Parliament as the married footballer named on Twitter as having an injunction over an alleged affair with Imogen Thomas. 'I don't think we can ban him,' a Scumchester spokesman told BBC Sport. Harris had asked Ferguson about Giggs's importance to United for Saturday's Champions League final against Barcelona at Wembley - a reasonably fair and legitimate question, some might consider, particularly after what is likely to have been a turbulent last forty eight hours for the player. But this received a terse, icy response from the United manager and faceache: 'All of the players are important, every one of them.' Ferguson then whispered to an aide - just loud enough so that every microphone in the room could pick it up: 'We'll get him. Ban him on Friday.' Both Ferguson and Barcelona counterpart Pep Guardiola are required by UEFA regulations to give pre-final media conferences on Friday. But the spokesman pointed out that as Friday's event is organised by UEFA, the Old Trafford club has no jurisdiction to ban Harris. 'I don't think we can, but check it out with UEFA,' said the spokesman. 'The answer is probably no.' AP's managing editor for sport Lou Ferrara was also confident that Harris would be able to continue reporting the build-up to Saturday's showpiece event. And, even more importantly, continuing to annoy Alex Ferguson which is, in and of itself, virtually a national sport. 'Rob was doing his job as a journalist by asking a question,' said Ferrara. 'Our expectation is that he'll ask more questions, and be afforded the ability to do so, as he covers the world's most popular sport.' Harris is not the first media representative to feel the force of Ferguson's displeasure. Ferguson has not given a post-match interview to the BBC since 2004 after a BBC3 documentary about his son Jason, who was then working as a football agent. 'As you know Sir Alex does not speak to the BBC, but BBC reporters were at Tuesday's media day as it was organised by UEFA,' added the spokesman.

Meanwhile, in an even funnier development, cars belonging to journalists and photographers camped outside the home of Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs have been vandalised. Really expensive cars an'all! A group of 'masked men' are reported to have pulled up in a transit van to the street in Worsley, and attacked six vehicles. Reporters said tyres were slashed, while cars were kicked and covered in flour and eggs. Greater Manchester Police were called to the scene and said that inquiries were continuing. Well, six masked men in Manchester, that's gonna be a bit of a needle in a haystack, isn't it? The thirty seven-year-old midfielder is United's most senior player, having appeared in eight hundred and seventy games for the club, since 1990. Giggs was absent from an earlier open training session in front of the world's media, as part of United's preparations for the Champions League final against Barcelona at Wembley on Saturday. The Press Complaints Commission issued desist notices on Monday evening and again early on Tuesday asking for journalists not to gather outside Giggs' home, after being contacted by lawyers acting for the footballer's family. Baroness Buscombe, the chair of the PCC, told BBC2's Newsnight on Monday: 'We've had a desist notice going out this evening. I can't give you the details of that. The press will not publish what we've asked them to refrain from in tomorrow's press.' The footballer's barrister, Hugh Tomlinson QC, told the high court on Monday that his client could seek an injunction against the media for harassment. He said: 'A number of journalists are repeatedly ringing the doorbell of my client and causing considerable distress to his family. That is only the beginning of the intrustion. If this continues, an injunction will be applied for to prevent this harassment.'

In a marginally-related story, the Daily Scum Mail has been accused of 'deliberately flouting' a privacy injunction brought by the former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin with a profile it published of the woman whom he is alleged to have had an affair with. Hugh Tomlinson QC, acting on behalf of Goodwin and the woman involved, told the high court on Monday that the Associated Newspapers title had committed 'blatant contempt of court' with the article. This was published on Friday – hours after Mr Justice Tugendhat had partially lifted Goodwin's injunction so that he could be named. However, it banned reporting of details of the alleged relationship and the name of the woman, said to be a former 'senior colleague' of Goodwin's. The profile, printed alongside a pixelated image of the woman, detailed aspects of her professional and private life which 'no doubt enabled people to identify the woman,' Tomlinson argued. The online version of the article has since been taken down. Associated Newspapers denied that it 'intentionally' flouted the court order. Jonathan Caplan QC, acting on behalf of the Daily Scum Mail publisher, told the court it 'slightly obscured' the woman's present position at RBS to 'throw the scent off.' Tugendhat is considering whether to refer the publisher to the attorney general, Dominic Grieve, who could decide to prosecute for contempt of court. Separately, a senior ITN journalist has been accused of breaching the high-profile injunction brought by the footballer alleged to have had an affair with the model Imogen Thomas. John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP, on Monday used parliamentary privilege to name Ryan Giggs as the footballer in question although, as noted above, the player's identity had been circulating for several weeks on Twitter. Shortly after Giggs was named in the Commons the injunction was upheld by Tugendhat for a third time on Monday at a hastily arranged high court hearing requested by the Sun's lawyers. Tugendhat acknowledged 'it is obvious that if the purpose [of the injunction] was to protect a secret then it would have now failed,' but argued that its purpose was to protect the footballer from 'harassment.' Lawyers acting for the footballer warned the news organisation on Friday after one of its journalists – who works for the ITN-produced ITV News – allegedly named the player in a phone call to a Manchester United press officer. According to the Gruniad, in a letter sent to the broadcaster, the player's law firm Schillings warned: 'We understand that one of your journalists has contacted CTB's [the player, who cannot be named] football club's media manager this afternoon claiming that '[CTB] is suing Twitter.' The Gruniad states that the letter continues: 'When Ms Shotbolt [the club's media manager] said that she did not know what [the ITN journalist] was talking about, he became aggressive and insisted that she did. [The journalist] and therefore ITN, has clearly breached the order by revealing the claimant's identity to a third party.' The warning goes on to insist that ITN journalists 'immediately cease making calls to any individual wherein that journalist breaches the order by revealing the identity of the claimant.' It adds: 'In the meantime, all of our client's rights, including his right to institute proceedings against your client and/or [the journalist] for criminal contempt, are reserved.' An ITN spokeswoman said: 'We can confirm that ITV News received correspondence from Schillings. We have investigated this and we do not accept that our journalist breached the order.' Lord Justice Eady on Monday also rejected a request by the footballer's legal team to be allowed to search e-mails and texts sent by former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie in relation to the injunction. Eady described the request as 'something of a sledgehammer to crack a nut.'

Andrew Davies, who wrote the scripts for A Very Peculiar Practice, House of Cards, Tipping The Valvet,  South Riding, Pride and Prejudice and a slew of BBC period dramas is adapting Lindy Woodhead's nonfiction bestseller Shopping, Seduction & Mr Selfridge for ITV Studios. ITV hopes that the story of how the brash American retailer Harry Gordon Selfridge - 'The Showman of Shopping' - opened the world's first purpose-built department store in London's Oxford Street in 1909 will repeat the success of Downton Abbey. Selfridge was a larger-than-life blew the majority of his fortune on mistresses and gambling before dying virtually destitute. Selfridge's girlfriends included the dancer Isadora Duncan and Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. His massive overspending ultimately cost him control of Selfridges.

The BBC has started the countdown for the launch of Gaelic channel BBC Alba on Freeview in Scotland on 8 June, after the channel became available on Virgin Media last week. In December 2010, the BBC Trust gave its approval for BBC Alba to launch on digital terrestrial television in Scotland, after judging that the move would better serve Gaelic-speaking audiences and those wishing to learn the language. BBC Alba - jointly run by the BBC and MG Alba - will officially become available in Scotland on Freeview channel eight on 8 June. This follows the network's launch on channel 188 on Virgin Media's cable TV platform on 18 May. However, carriage for BBC Alba on DTT will result in the BBC's main radio networks - Radio 1, 2, 3, 4, 5Live, Radio Scotland and World Service - not being available on Freeview between 5pm and 11pm every night. The BBC has started an Open Your Eyes campaign, featuring celebrities such as actor Peter Mullan, to raise awareness of BBC Alba's launch on Freeview. The campaign, endorsed by Scotland first minister Alex Salmond, launched yesterday at the Glasgow Gaelic School. 'BBC Alba has captured the interest and imagination of both Gaelic and non-Gaelic speakers alike since its launch in 2008,' said Salmond. 'The channel's move to Freeview will broaden the reach of BBC Alba, strengthen its role as a national broadcaster, and ensure everyone across the country has access to its quality programmes. Increasing access to BBC Alba also supports this government's ongoing work to build a sustainable future for Gaelic as we celebrate its contribution to our culture and society and encourage a new generation of Gaelic speakers across Scotland.' Ken MacQuarrie, the director BBC Scotland, added: 'We know that viewers who already tune into BBC Alba really appreciate the variety and quality of the programmes it offers. Making it available on Freeview and cable now means that audiences throughout the whole of Scotland will be able to enjoy these programmes in addition to those already watching on satellite.'

Huw Jones, the man selected by the government as the next chair of S4C, has been challenged by MPs over the Welsh-language broadcaster's 'pretty poor' viewing figures. Jones, who served as chief executive of S4C from 1994 to 2005, is the first chairman candidate to appear before a joint hearing of the culture and Welsh affairs committees, reports BBC News. Culture committee chairman John Whittingdale challenged Jones over S4C's 'pretty poor' viewing figures. The Conservative MP questioned why S4C only reached a quarter of Welsh speakers for fifteen minutes or more a week, and said that the broadcaster must improve its performance 'quite dramatically.' Jones did not disagree with the assessment, but highlighted the scale of the challenge facing S4C in a multichannel world offering ever increasing choice. He said that it was important for the channel to target 'talked-about programmes,' and stressed that its viewing figures must be taken in context of S4C's role in promoting the Welsh language. MPs on both the culture and Welsh committees were highly critical of the decision to hand funding responsibility for S4C to the BBC licence fee, echoing concerns that it would erode the channel's independence. Asked about the situation, Jones said: 'A deal with the BBC is a practical necessity because otherwise the money for S4C to commission programmes from 2013 onwards isn't going to be there. I think that has been made pretty clear to us.' He welcomed the prospect of a member of the BBC Trust joining the S4C Authority, but warned that the S4C executive must always remain autonomous of the BBC.

David Walliams will present new Sky1 topical panel show Wall of Fame. The Little Britain comedian's latest venture joins Sky1's Friday night comedy line-up and will involve two celebrity teams tackling the biggest topics of the day. Discussions will range from YouTube phenomenons to celebrity gossip. Unless it's covered by a superinjunction, of course, in which case, they'll probably not be discussing that. The programme is based around a giant wall featuring twenty five new famous faces every episode, which will provide the talking points for the guests. 'I'm looking forward to taking control of the Wall of Fame, my new weekly, newsy, quizzy, gossipy entertainment show,' said Walliams. 'This may not be hard news but I shall nevertheless be taking my quiz master role most seriously. With lots of laughter.' The series, which has been commissioned by Duncan Gray, is produced by CBL Productions, the team behind Sky1's crass and banal sports panel show A League of their Own.

David Abraham, the chief executive of Channel Four, has called on Ofcom to investigate the control of audience data after warning that valuable information is being 'controlled and commercially exploited' by others. Abraham said that audience data is the 'new oil, or soil, of television' and that as viewing behaviour becomes increasingly measurable through interactivity in the future advertiser-funded public service broadcasters - Channel Four, Channel Five and ITV - risk being left behind. 'I don't think the penny has dropped about who is controlling the data,' he said, speaking at a Royal Television Society dinner on Monday night. 'Who's controlling the data and who has access to it? In my view this should be a central issue in Ofcom's proposed review of airtime trading. Future ad sales models are unclear but two things are certain – change is likely and data is becoming more important.' Abraham pointed out that about two-thirds of all 'TV audiovisual content' viewing time across TV, PC and mobile will be 'tracked intelligently' in some way by 2020, according to Channel Four research. 'I believe that it is essential for the future of Channel Four – and of PSB in general – that we ensure that the data that exists around content we generate with our creative partners is not simply controlled and commercially exploited by other platforms, whoever they are,' he said. Abraham added that while Channel Four had no intention of competing 'directly with the social networks that already exist' as a PBS 'nor will we allow ourselves to be enveloped by them either. What we are saying is the primary focus is being creatively competitive ourselves,' he said. 'It is ad agencies gearing up and making very big investments in this area [data retention and analytics]. I don't think broadcasters have grasped that our data is a public asset.' Abraham is keen to gain more control of the customer relationship. Pay-TV broadcasters such as BSkyB and Virgin Media and Internet companies have a greater depth of information about their consumers than free-to-air broadcasters such as Channel Four as they have registration and subscriber data. 'Of course, first and foremost, the data that is generated by these new activities belongs to our viewers,' he said. 'If they are willing to give us permission to share some of their anonymised data to secure advertising support, then we can invest the proceeds in original, risk-taking and imaginative content.' Abraham said that while traditional TV advertising would remain the 'core trading currency' as the 'gold standard,' Channel Four was also working on 'major innovations that can give us additional and complementary data about our audiences, which will further strengthen our long-term position in the ad market.' In January Abraham promoted Gill Whitehead, Channel Four's director of strategy, to the newly created role of director of audience, technology and insight to drive the initiative forward. 'Our new plans will exploit technology to bring them far closer to the programmes and people they love than was ever possible before,' said Abraham. 'This is just one of a series of investments we will be making to innovate TV's ad model.'

Paul O'Grady has given a new home to an abandoned lamb which was rescued from a wheelie bin in Manchester. The lamb, nicknamed Winston by Sunday Express readers, was discovered in Levenshulme by two nurses last month. The chat show host, who plans to rehome Winston at his Kent farm, told the paper: 'The RSPCA has done a wonderful job. Winston is a big, strong, healthy boy now and is nothing like the state he was in when they found him. Winston's skipping around and has got his own barn so he is very happy. He's very friendly and loves human company. He's in his element.' O'Grady, who is a well-known animal lover, already keeps a small flock of sheep at home. He regularly features his pets on his chat show Paul O'Grady Live and paid tribute to his dog Buster on-air following his death in 2009. RSPCA officer Caroline Hall expressed her gratitude to O'Grady and an unnamed foster carer who bottle fed Winston around the clock until a permanent home could be found for the lamb. The charity is still trying to find out who abandoned the animal and is keen to hear from members of the public who have any information.

Music fans and TV archivists are in for a treat at Kaleidoscope's summer event. Mike Read, Ed Stewart and Pete Murray will be interviewed by David Hamilton on a panel celebrating the art of the disc jockey. Junior Campbell of Marmalade will be introducing a selection of vintage television performances by the group. Other screening highlights include Top of the Pops (material from 1967-68 recovered by the National Film and Television Archive including a legendary performance of 'See Emily PLay' by The Pink Floyd), Discs A Go Go, The Old Grey Whistle Test and Cliff! The day promises to offer something for everyone. In support of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the event takes place on Saturday 4 June 2011 at The Talbot Hotel in Stourbridge, between 12:00 and 7:00pm. Admission is free, but voluntary donations to supported charities are encouraged. Full details are available at the Kaleidoscope website.

Liam Gallagher has reportedly been winding up his brother Noel again, branding his older sibling 'scared' after he missed seeing their beloved Sheik Yer Man City win the FA Cup at Wembley, their first trophy for thirty five years. 'He wasn't there, he's a scaredy cat, he can't handle it with the real fans,' said the Beady Eye singer and occasional fashion designer. Liam then questioned forty three-year-old Noel's loyalty, adding: 'I think he was in LA with all them LA-type people. When he's on the radio every weekend speaking about football and he's not there – it's poor. I'm sure he had bigger and better things to do.' Liam also had a dig at his brother's solo career, telling XFM: 'He should have done it ages ago, he's been talking about it for long enough.'

And now a story about another celebrity Sheik Yer Man City fan. A bloom named after the guitarist Johnny Marr has reportedly been shortlisted to win Flower of the Year at the Chelsea Flower Show in London. The former The Smiths, Modest Mouse and Cribs rocker was so thrilled with the news he has posted a photo of himself with the plant's creator, Matthew Soper, at the show on Twitter.

The graffiti that was scrawled on walls across Britain for much of the 1970s was almost right. George Davis, convicted of a robbery in 1974, may indeed have been innocent. The court of appeal on Tuesday more prosaically finally declared that his conviction was 'unsafe.' Davis was convicted of involvement in a robbery of the London Electricity Board in Ilford, east London in March 1975. The campaign maintaining his innocence won the backing of pop stars including The Who's lead singer Roger Daltrey - who famously wore a 'George Davis is Innocent' t-shirt and even stopped a 1975 Ashes test when supporters of Davis vandalised the pitch. The damage to the Headingley turf, which forced the abandonment of the third England v Australia test in 1975, propelled the campaign into international prominence. In 1976 Davis was released from prison under royal prerogative from a twenty-year sentence for robbery and wounding with intent to resist arrest. George was such a cause célèbre that the punk band Sham 69 wrote a song about him. In September 1977, however, Davis let his supporters down when he was caught red-handed robbing a branch of the Bank of Cyprus in Holloway. He pleaded guilty to his involvement in an armed robbery and was sentenced to fifteen years, subsequently reduced to eleven on appeal. If he was unlucky in his ability to plan and execute an armed robbery, he was much luckier in his choice of friends and the support he got from his late wife, Rose. Despite his 1977 crime, they never let up in their campaign to see Davis's name cleared of the 1974 robbery. The campaigners daubed slogans on walls across London, reading 'George Davis Is Innocent OK.' On Tuesday, more than thirty five years on, the conviction was quashed by the court of appeal. But Davis, now aged sixty nine, did not hear the court declare his innocence, with the judges saying that too much time had passed for them to reach a decision on that. Davis was originally convicted on identification evidence, which he disputed. He also claimed evidence that exonerated him was kept from his defence. Lord Justice Hughes said material relating to identifications made by those at the scene of the robbery, and 'limited new evidence' affecting the 'very positive identification' given by another witness, 'so far undermines the case that it is impossible to be satisfied that this conviction is safe.' But he added: 'We do not know whether Davis was guilty or not, but his conviction cannot be said to be safe.' The judge added that Davis's subsequent conviction did not affect the court of appeal's judgment: 'As we have made clear, the fact that he was an active and known criminal does not affect this question, nor does it make it any the less important that his conviction should not be upheld unless it is clear that it is safe.' Following the decision, Davis said: 'I have been protesting my innocence since 1974 and have always claimed I was falsely identified. But it should not have taken thirty six long years. I have no intention of seeking compensation for my wrongful conviction. I have pursued this appeal for all these years because I wanted all those people who worked for, and helped, the campaign in the 1970s to know that their support was justified.' Davis's solicitor, Bernard Carnell, said: 'The court of appeal heard that senior officers withheld from the jury material they considered undermined their case. Police officers, the Home Office and the office of the director of public prosecutions kept secret evidence provided to them after the trial which undermined the safety of Mr Davis's conviction.'

A New Zealand truck driver who fell on a compressed air hose that pierced his buttock has survived being blown up like a balloon. Steven McCormack had fallen between the cab and the trailer of his truck, breaking the air hose. The nozzle pierced his buttock and began pumping air into his body, which expanded dramatically. As he screamed, Mr McCormack's colleagues turned the air off and lay him on his side, saving his life. The accident happened at Opotiki on the North Island on Saturday. McCormack, who is forty eight, is still in hospital in the nearest town, Whakatane. He said that doctors had told him they were surprised that his skin had not burst, as the compressed air - pumping into his body at one hundred pounds per square inch - had separated fat from muscle. 'I felt the air rush into my body and I felt like it was going to explode from my foot. I was blowing up like a football it felt like I had the bends, like in diving. I had no choice but just to lay there, blowing up like a balloon,' he told the local newspaper, the Whakatane Beacon. He said his skin feels 'like a pork roast,' hard and crackly on the outside but soft underneath. He credits his colleagues, especially Jason Wenham who lay him on his side, with saving his life.

A cat has started caring for a group of baby chicks, claims a Chinese farmer. Lao Yang initially put thirty newborn chicks in an open cardboard box by the side of his bed, but one day, he returned home to find that they were befriended by his cat Niu Niu. 'More than ten chickens were playing with Niu Niu, and she even embraced several in her arms,' the farmer said. 'The chickens chirped as if they were under their mother's belly.' Lao has since let his cat look after the chicks, and added: 'Niu Niu loves lying among the chickens. Occasionally she will touch them, lick their hair, and play with them. The chickens will run after Niu Niu wherever she walks. If they feel cold, they will stay close to Niu Niu, who will lie down and embrace them in her arms.'

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day celebrates some of the work of the late, great Kirsty MacColl. I was just thinking the other day, you know, quite apart from her own excellent singles collection, how many great 45s Kirsty can be heard singing on. 'Ask', 'Greetings To The New Brunette', 'Hallelujah', 'Fairytale Of New York' (obviously), 'Interesting Drug' and Shriekback's 'Lined Up' to name but six. But today, we're sticking to a trio of her own records, starting with her debut. She's was nineteen when she wrote and recorded this. Talent.
There's an irony - something that Kirsty shares in common with Elvis Costello - that despite her own outstanding songwriting abilities, most of her biggest hits were cover version. Truly magnificent cover versions. Like this one.
And this one.

No comments: