Sunday, May 01, 2011

Heaven Holds A Sense Of Wonder (And I Wanted To Believe)

It's a bright sunny Sunday morning in May and, as a consequence, that must mean it's time for Il Est Venu Du Nord to obtenez notre jambon et fromage dehors pour Les Garçons, sil vous plait. As it were. Welcome, therefore, cher lecteur du blog, to the latest Spiral review. On this week's exciting two episodes of Engrenages, that horrible little creature Arnaud finds himself deep in la merde with pretty much everyone (except his mother), Brémont and Laure kiss and make up (well, sort of), Judge Roban has too much cognac and goes hunting rats, Clément gets charged with buggering his client, Ronaldo is back up to his murderous old tricks and Patricia finally comes in useful for Gilou. Just another day in gay Paris, dear blog reader. Despite Pierre's troubles all round, it's actually a pretty good couple of episodes for those who are - in theory at least - fighting the good fight with all their might in Engrenages. Roban's dogged restless pursuit of the Mayor, his dodgy cronies and his extortion racket has finally - it seems - started to turn in the judge's favour; Gilou appears to have escaped investigation for the careless shooting charge and our chums at CID are closing in on the pimps. But, unfortunately, it looks as though Ronaldo might claim at least one more victim before he's brought, one hopes, to book. In a pair of episodes that more than ever recalled similarities with The Shield, Laure's stakeout of the prostitutes is completely ruined by Arnaud playing ride-along. Poor lad, he can't seem to get much anything right at the moment, what with his vendetta against Roban and his being blackmailed for shagging an underage girl by the judges' brother. However, having the spoiled rotten mummy's boy on a job with her crew turns out to be something of a blessing in disguise for Laure as Roban later commissions her to spy on Arnaud in exchange for heading a - semi-official - enquiry into the prostitution ring. That way any subsequent CID arrest of Ronaldo will appear to be purely coincidental to him being, you know, The Butcher of La Villette. A minor legal point but one that's probably worth having in your bag in case you need it. 'The little shit has been trying to scupper my investigation for weeks,' François says of his wicked frere, Martin. After following the pimps to their base of operations, Laure stumbles upon Gilou's waste-of-space snitch, Patricia, and ends up getting Niko's mobile phone number from her. A phone tap is subsequently authorised. And, after some rubbish about a Dutchman and Niko calling his dear old mum in Albanian to make sure she's all right (bless 'im, even Eastern European gangsters love their mums) it starts to pay dividends. The mysterious Vlad seems to have far more faith in Tani than the hapless mommy-lover Niko, and one can easily speculate on that particular pan-European power struggle causing at least one potential fatality before the season is over. Niko gets lucky when Ronaldo arranges to meet him at a Metro Station to get his fake papers so he can go back to Mexico and start murdering whores in a bit of peace and quiet. Unfortunately, Ronaldo is distracted before he gets there by an attractive brunette who, it would seem, is very much his type and stalking another kill proves too tempting to resist. Well, he's a serial killer after all, it's what he does. All of this means he misses the meeting with Niko, much to the latter's chagrin since he was planning of a short murder spree of his own. Meanwhile, an associate of Romain Zeppini takes a sinister little drive with - a very unwilling - Clément, and Pierre swears blind that Joséphine paid back the money she stole in cash. Knowing she broke her word and made him an accessory to theft (and, possibly, much worse depending on what the chap in the car has planned for Zeppini), Pierre tells her that he's leaving their practice and nothing in the world will make him change his mind. Until getting arrested on charges of raping a minor promptly changes his mind. And as for Romain Zeppini? it would appear that he needs to start looking for new lawyer. (He also might want to think about leaving the country for a few years.) Pierre finally gives the stroppy brat Dylan the brush off but the damage has already been done and soon afterwards some rather accusative hard faced police arrive at Pierre's apartment to charge him with rape. The strip search sequence will, one imagines, have rather pleased many fans of Spiral - though, no doubt, they will have been disappointed that Pierre got to keep his boxers on. 'You think I walk around with a gun up my rectum?' he asks, not unreasonably. Joséphine (who just lives for cases like this and can scarcely believe her luck - particularly as sheds previously warned her colleague 'Don't get out the violins – you're a lawyer not a social worker') asks Clément if she can 'play dirty' to keep him out of jail. Pierre says that's perfectly all right with him, thank you very much. Nice to see that a moral compass only works when one doesn't find oneself the victim of a fit-up. Wretched homophobic toad Machard takes over the case and gives jurisdiction to one Judge Wagner – who, we are told, is a gay man notoriously tough on rape cases. Although Joséphine gets Pierre released from custody he's still on probation and get a very nasty surprise as he walks through the courts towards freedom when he sees that the vile Szabo is representing Dylan. That's just what you need when your entire future is on the line – your accuser's lawyer is the only brief in Paris who is actually more corrupt than your own! Isabelle picks up a despairing, cognac-wasted Roban at his lowest ebb and tells him to keep fighting to bring the Mayor to justice – she remains his rock. While her nasty son's underage sex tape is part of the equation, though, one can't help feeling that at some point Isabelle will force François to choose between them. Meanwhile, under questioning from Brémont, Gilou can only remember an ugly bout of gastric flu on the fateful day in question when some poor innocent drug pusher got accidentally shot in the lung. 'If that's the way you want it – I'll destroy the whole lot of you' Brémont tells him with what my be resignation, or anticipation, or neither. It's hard to tell with the Inspector, he's an enigmatic sort. Bravely, although probably stupidly because, one suspects, Gilou wouldn't do the same for her, Laure confesses to the shooting. Brémont almost believes her but then an eyewitness - a Mr Bo, if you will - gives a good description of Gilou as the shooter and it becomes obvious that Laure is lying yet again. When she finally confesses everything she knows, Brémont is clearly relieved. And then they make out and he agrees to bury Gilou's role in the case. If only she'd known it was going to be that easy she'd have spread her legs four episodes ago and saved everyone a lot of time and aggravation. One of the highlights of the episode is four-lines-per-episode Nadia's throwaway comment 'PSG are playing Lyon tonight. The supporters have left the ground.' Now, that's a mini-episode all on its own, I'd've said! What was the score, love? Was it against the run of play? Did one team simply 'want it more'? Are the two crews gonna be havin' some tasty aggro down on the Metro and chanting venez avoir un attaquer à moi si vous pensez que vous êtes assez dur at each other? We need to know these things. Gilou, meanwhile, is on tremendous form throughout (albeit, stoic-to-the-point-of-silence at times). There's always been considerable tension between Gilou and Tintin – polar opposites in terms of their attitudes towards the job and united only by their mutual loyal devotion to Laure. 'You love it when she's depressed and down in the dumps,' Tintin tells Gilou. 'That way you feel useful.' Which, you may recall, is near enough exactly what Gilou said to Laure in an earlier episode about their dysfunctional relationship. Now Gilou appears to be in the clear over the shooting and has his new Special Branch job lined-up, he's as close to being 'happy' as you're ever likely to get with Gilou. He'll miss having Tintin to squabble with, though. One has to give the slimy Mayor some credit – he pulled an excellent supervillain fake-out with the Bible in his study. Arnaud stitched Roban up like a kipper, Tommy Nutters, and le renard argenté reaches pretty much rock bottom. He tells Isabelle that he's closing the investigation but she won't hear of it. 'You must find the person who betrayed you and crush them,' she tells him. 'Do that for me.' Roban then looks at the empty chair of duplicity in his own office during an interview with Mme Courcelles and figures it was very likely mummy's petit merde who betrayed him. Laure then does a cunning Veronica Mars impersonation investigating Roban's suspicions about Arnaud, and obtains compromising photos of Martin Roban and Etienne Delcourt – whom, we discover, is a bent copper removed from the force in 2003 (and to get removed from the Paris police force, it seems, you need to be seriously bent - I mean, 'even Vic Mackay wouldn't do this' bent) meeting with the clueless Arnaud on a footbridge. A bit of digging later (with the help of his contact in Finance), Roban tracks down a safety deposit box filled with Delcourt's dodgy company accounts, evidence of the Fortex payments and incriminating video footage of Dejean confronting Courcelles. Game, very much, on as it were. Those who came to Spiral late may not appreciate just how callous and dangerously hurtful Joséphine can be. Given that she is representing Pierre, it's worth remembering her own personal history when it comes to false rape allegations. In series one Joséphine partnered Vincent Leroy, a disgraced former lawyer disbarred after a conviction for rape. On her deathbed, the victim admitted that she had lied about the allegations, sent an innocent man to jail and ruined his career – a confession which Joséphine videotaped and, later, destroyed. It's one of those infuriating loose ends that Spiral leaves hanging every series (Berthaud's lover Samy Aroune from series two for example). What we know is that Joséphine was happy to let an innocent man suffer when she had it in her power to restore his reputation and his career. This was Karlsson at her absolute worst. What it means for Pierre's future defence is anybody's guess. With Joséphine, one always senses, the first question she asks in any situation is 'what's in it for me?' But, from the evidence of her brief - awkward - conversation with Laure about poor Pierre's situation, can it be that Karlsson is actual developing (whisper it) a conscience? Surely not? Stranger things have happened. Though, in this particular case, the additional Blackadder line 'that horse becoming Pope, for one' possibly is appropriate.

From one Saturday night obsession to another and onto the subject of last night's Doctor Who which seems to have - by and large - gone down rather well with most fans for the show. A poll on one of the main Doctor Who forums - yes, that one - showed that of over two thousand five hundred punters who'd expressed a preference around ninety per cent of them had rated the episode at seven or above. But, inevitably, there are dissidents. The episode was 'too complicated,' some alleged. 'The kids will never understand it,' was another common point of criticism. Etc. Etc. Usual suspect naysayers aside, and we kind of all know who they are by this stage, I really struggle to understand complaints about something - anything, really - being 'too complicated.' I mean, what are those who are making such arguments actually saying here? That anything which cnallenges them to think is a bad thing? Such criticism seems to fall into three different camps: Firstly there's 'I got it, but the kids won't.' Well, okay, that's possibly valid but that's, surely, the kids problem not the person making the complaint? Secondly there's 'I didn't get it.' Okay, now that one's understandable and it happens to all of us at various times. The third one, however, is the one that really baffles me the most - 'I used to get it but now I don't.' Seriously? You watched The Mind Robber and 'got it' but were defeated, forty odd years later by Steven Moffat? I don't wanna get too precious about this, dear blog reader, because it tends to bring one down to the level of mud-slinging but it seems to me that there are people - on that particular forum and elsewhere - who are seriously suggesting, in effect, 'I want lowest-common-denominator Doctor Who so that nobody needs to feel left out.' Well, not my watch and, seemingly, not on Mr Moffat's either. As noted yesterday, if you want something that anyone can understand, tune in forty five minutes earlier and check out Don't Scare The Hare instead. That may be more to your simple tastes.

On another blazingly hot holiday Saturday, Doctor Who's overnight audience of 5.4m (5.7m peak) was - as expected - well down on the previous week's series opener. Expect some rabid tabloid headlines along the 'Doctor Who loses a million viewers' lines coming from the direction of Fleet Street very shortly. That's if they're all not still too obsessed with Britain's Got Talent's dropping viewing figures (that show, incidentally, had an overnight of nine-and-a-half million punters so, I'm pretty sure they're not particularly worried). Not that such comments matter in the slightest, as the timeshift for the previous week's Doctor Who proves (see below) if people want to watch a TV show then they'll find it at a time that's convenient to them. That's the world we live in and you'd better get used to it! It was generally a poor night for the BBC all round with Doctor Who, again, easily their top performer. Apart from that only really Casualty's 4.6m at 9:15 could, in any way, be described as 'positive.' The twin slices of shit sandwich that Matt Smith's and co currently find themselves trapped in between once again completely failed to excite the public or deliver any sort of an audience worth of the name. So You Think You Can Dance's 3.1m average is dreadful enough (even worse was the fact that on ITV it was beaten by the equally inane and wretched Sing If You Can's 3.3m). But, what else can we say about Don't Scare the Hare pulling in a mind-numbing 1.4m punters that hasn't already been said? Horrorshow. Unlike last week, the BBC couldn't even have the satisfaction of ITV's non-Britain's Got Talent audience collapsing. Apart from the forty five minutes Doctor Who was on it wasn't until Casualty went up against Piers Morgan interviewing Ann Widdecombe that they regained an audience lead over their main rivals. For half of the time that Don't Scare The Hare was on, the snooker on BBC2 was getting higher ratings! I think it's probably best to just pretend Saturday night didn't happen and hope for rain next week.

On a brighter noted, however, Saturday 23 April - official consolidated final ratings:
1 Britain's Got Talent - ITV - 10.03m
2 Doctor Who - BBC1 - 8.86m
That's a 2.3m timeshift for Doctor Who which isn't, quite, the highest the series has ever achieved (The Eleventh Hour managed that), but it's close. The full Top Twenty ratings for week ending 24 April should be available from BARB within the next couple of days.

Speaking of TV ratings, the Royal Wedding had a five-minute combined peak audience of 26.2m (a 93.4 per cent audience share) at 12:10 across BBC1, ITV1, BBC News, Sky News, Sky Living, E! and FOX News (including HD simulcasts). Which does kind of make one wonder a) what the other 6.6 per cent of TV viewers were watching at the time (Top Gear on Dave, I'm guessing. That's what this blogger had on). And b), what were the other thirty five million people in the country doing at the time? Because I don't believe all of them were at street parties. When the peak of twenty six million occurred At 12:10, the channels' audiences were broken down as follows:-
BBC1: 19.27m (68.05 per cent)
ITV1: 5.54m (19.6 per cent)
Sky News: 700k (2.5 per cent)
BBC News: 521k (1.8 per cent)
Sky Living: 71k (0.3per cent)
FOX News: 22k (0.1 per cent)
E!: 2k (0.01 per cent)
CNN, Al Jazeera English and France 24 also broadcasted the event but they are not BARB-reported channels and therefore ratings for those are unavailable. This was the combined audience for all those channels added together at their absolute highest peak cumulatively. The BBC's five minute peak actually came slightly later, around 12:20, with 19.29m. Each channel had individual peaks at different times but when added together, simultaneously this was the highest total peak audience watching the Royal Wedding at any one time on Friday across all channels broadcasting the event live. It was the most watched televised moment in Britain since Princess Diana's funeral in 1997, which had over thirty million. The BBC1 average across the entire five and half hours of their coverage (8am to 1:40pm) was 13.44m (sixty one per cent audience share). ITV during the same period had an average audience of 5.3m (twenty one per cent share). Those watching the other terrestrial channels on Friday - BBC2, Channel Four and Five - made up only one per cent of the television audience as the wedding service began. At 11am Channel Five's Royal Wedding Special episode of The Wright Stuff had an audience of just sixty nine thousand. Which, to be honest, isn't entirely unexpected. I mean, surely, if you're interested in the Royal Wedding then you're far less likely to be watching The Wright Stuff talking about the Royal Wedding than, you know, the actual Royal Wedding. Across the entire day, 34.7 million people watched some Royal Wedding programming on the BBC. These figures include live iPlayer viewings.

The Gruniad did a rather sarky piece on which channel's TV coverage was best. 'It's the kind of occasion you traditionally turn to the BBC for: the corporation brings out its big presenters, they prove to be informed but not too intrusive, there is no question of changing the channel. Things kicked off this morning with Breakfast vs Daybreak, a programme I have successfully managed to avoid since its very first venture on to screen. Not a lot seems to have changed – Christine Bleakley still seems to be mainly giggling and looking vaguely terrified, while Chiles is just grumping about being slightly bedraggled. But it was a combination that worked oddly well on a morning that forever threatened to teeter into full-blown hysteria. Bleakley dodged any accusations of subtlety with a regal purple frock, teased updo and expression of wild over-excitement. Chiles pretended to be clueless about dresses. It was like The ONE Show days. Meanwhile, on the BBC, Sian Williams (also in purple) and Bill Turnbull were sent to different royal sites, and seemed to struggle to find the right tone – altogether not excited enough in the face of crowds in plastic Union Jack bowler hats. Things only progressed from there. The BBC spectacularly miscast its build-up team: putting Sophie Raworth and Huw Edwards in the studio and sending out Fearne Cotton and Edith Bowman – what were they thinking? – on to the streets. Huw does gentle chat about as easily as the Windsors do relaxed and casual, so while ITV was excitedly cooing over hats, he was being rather stuffy and awkward about what to expect later, and making ill-advised remarks about Kate and a "delighful view" as she got into the car. Raworth, meanwhile, was overdoing it a bit with royal hairdressers and somehow, despite having Grazia's brilliant Paula Reed as a guest, underdoing the fashion. Oh, and I'm glossing over the Fearne Cotton moments, for all our sakes. Meanwhile, a day-glo Phillip Schofield and Julie Etchingham were on fine form, ditching the reverence for a good-old nosy at what people were wearing – often fuchsia, unless you were a presenter, when it was coral – and which celebs were in attendance. Which is far more in the spirit of weddings in general, let alone royal ones when the gawp factor is turned up to about a million.' Bitchy.

BBC1 is 'struggling to find and hang on to the kind of talent that will give the channel distinctive appeal for viewers,' according to Danny Cohen, the channel's incoming controller. Well, actually, according to the Gruniad because that's not, quite, what Cohen said. But, never mind. When was the last time a newspaper was caught being accurate in relation to the BBC? Particularly that newspaper? Speaking last week for the first time about the likely impact of looming budget cuts, Cohen said: 'We have already lost people to Channel Four, for instance; talent who we couldn't compete with the deals for.' He added: 'It is getting much harder and there's an ongoing battle with that.' Following the outcry over the large deals offered to Jonathan Ross and Anne Robinson, pressure grew on the BBC to pay less for its major contracted stars. Cohen said that pressure would only grow once the corporation had announced the results of its Delivering Quality First cost-saving plan this summer. The loss to C4 of Jimmy Doherty, the presenter of Jimmy's Food Factory on BBC1, has underlined the problem, but Cohen, who handles a budget of £1.3bn, said he felt that top performers could still be attracted by the BBC's public service ethos and would not always demand the highest rates going. 'Why shouldn't stars have an interest in working for the BBC?' he asked, not unreasonably. 'A lot of them are very proud to appear on BBC1 because of what it stands for.' True. And another lots of them are greedy bastards who have even greedier agents. swings and roundabouts, innit? Cohen's implication that he was working with one hand tied behind his back in his attempts to retain leading talent came the day after Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC, told parliament that it was becoming difficult to attract 'suitable candidates' to executive positions because of the new cash constraints. He told the House of Lords communications committee that it was 'not true to say there are a long queue of people' lining up to apply for senior jobs at the corporation. Cohen, who was talking to the Broadcasting Press Guild and who has a salary of around two hundred and fifty thousand pounds a year, could not say whether competitive pay for backroom staff or for on-screen talent was more important for the future success of the BBC. 'The public want the best on the BBC because they pay for it. They want the best on-screen talent and programmes, and presumably the best people making them. That creates a conundrum when there's pressure on salaries,' he said. When Cohen's predecessor, Jay Hunt, spoke to the same organisation while head of BBC1, she also underlined the importance of identifying and nurturing new faces. Hunt is now head of programming at C4, where the powerful roster of younger, big-name presenters, from Doherty to Jimmy Carr and Kirstie Allsopp, is - the Gruniad claim - 'arguably dwarfing those of its rivals.' Traditionally, BBC1 has allowed shows to establish an audience on BBC2 before poaching them. MasterChef, the comedy quiz shows Have I Got News For You and Qi and, most recently, the sitcom Miranda, starring Miranda Hart, have all followed this route. But Cohen optimistically suggests that budget cuts may allow him to concentrate on bringing on his own new stars: 'There's an opportunity in that, because one of the things we know we can do is bring through new talent. But, as I say, the public expect us to have the best talent, so we're trying to square that circle.' The BBC is to build up the TV careers of physicist Brian Cox, chef Simon Hopkinson and stand-up comedian Lee Mack but, according to the Gruniad 'some pundits criticise BBC1 for failing to secure exclusive rights to new faces such as Lauren Laverne, who is still a DJ on BBC 6Music, but presents on C4's Ten O'Clock Live.' Who these 'pundits' are and what the hell it has to do with them, the Gruniad does not elaborate. They merely go on to noted that Laverne's co-presenters on the show, David Mitchell and Charlie Brooker, 'are also regarded as lost BBC1 material.' Handling talent will be a priority for the BBC's new head of vision, George Entwistle. It is unfortunate then that he is suspected of being behind a leaked document that rated on-screen talent in often brutal terms when at BBC Knowledge. Delia Smith, Michael Palin and Sophie Raworth were all described as 'of limited significance,' while Brooker, Laverne and Jeremy Paxman had strong ratings.

The BBC's Andrew Marr will be 'hobbled' in his role as a frontline BBC interviewer because politicians and celebrities will refuse to answer awkward personal questions from now on, a senior Labour MP has warned. Chris Bryant, the former Europe minister, said that Marr could not expect political leaders or anyone else to reply to his questions about their private lives after it was revealed last week that he had taken out a superinjunction to prevent reporting of an alleged extramarital affair. Bryant, who was himself tormented by the media after he appeared on a gay dating website in his underpants, said: 'People will certainly look askance at him. He is not going to be able to ask the personal questions without people, including politicians, sticking their tongues out at him and saying "superinjunction" and refusing to answer.' Marr returned to the screen on Sunday only five days after admitting that he had taken out the superinjunction. He interviewed both David Cameron and Nick Clegg before Thursday's local elections, and those to the devolved assemblies in Scotland and Wales, as well as the referendum on changing the way MPs are elected. In one television interview with Gordon Brown, Marr repeatedly pushed the then prime minister about his imperfect eyesight. Referring to the interview, Bryant said yesterday: 'Andrew asked some very personal questions to Gordon Brown about his eyesight and whether he took drugs. I don't think he will be able to do that sort of thing again.' The former prime minister was said to be 'furious' about the personal line of questioning and made his views known as he left the studio. 'Andrew Marr is a very personable fellow but this does raise questions about his credibility and I am sure the BBC will be thinking about this,' Bryant added. Acording to the Gruniad, a journalist 'friend' of Marr said this weekend that it was 'business as usual' as far as the presenter was concerned, with the same rigorous questioning expected on air, and the same respect accorded to guests. A BBC news spokesman confirmed that the corporation shares this attitude. 'The superinjunction is a private matter for Andrew. From the point of view of BBC News, we have seen no evidence whatsoever that Andrew's journalism has been compromised in any way.' But some commentators - and, again, the Gruniad don't say who they are or what it's got to do with them - have made comparisons with the ignominious departure of Angus Deayton, longtime chair of the topical quiz Have I Got News For You. Deayton left the show abruptly following tabloid revelations about his private life involving alleged criminal drug-taking. Asking political guests about their own misdemeanours became difficult for the comedian and made his position effectively untenable. While The Andrew Marr Show focuses on parliamentary and policy issues, recent years have seen Marr pose questions about the vexed personal lives of several prominent guests. When John Prescott went on the show at the end of his career as a parliamentary MP, Marr referred explicitly to the affair the deputy prime minister had been revealed to have conducted with a colleague. 'Biggest regret probably personal rather than political over the last ten years?' the presenter suggested. 'Yes, well, that was a disappointment and I let people down, and I think I've made it clear' responded Prescott. Last September Marr quizzed Ed Miliband about the impact of the battle for the leadership and his defeat of his brother David on his wider family. When Miliband underlined his love for his elder brother, Marr pressed the point. 'He looked pretty shattered, I have to say, after it all. He must be pretty despondent about all of this?' Miliband replied that of course his brother was disappointed, but had shown 'amazing generosity. And what about your mother?' asked Marr. 'Is she cross with you for doing this, or is she just pleased?' Miliband replied that she was 'relieved that the contest is over, put it that way. She's certainly not cross.' Similarly, when the foreign secretary William Hague was prompted to deny publicly rumours that he was having an 'improper relationship' with a male aide and went on to reveal that his wife Ffion had suffered several miscarriages, Marr raised the issue on the show with one of Hague's cabinet colleagues, education secretary Michael Gove. Gove replied: 'I feel admiration for the dignity with which he has always handled himself. There have been all sorts of attempts in the past to throw stuff at him, not least when he was leader.' Marr is said to be 'aware' that several Sunday newspapers are chasing more details of the alleged affair with a female political journalist.

Joe Calzaghe has claimed that he felt 'bullied' during his time on Strictly Come Dancing. Speaking to the Daily Scum Mail, the boxer slammed 'destructive' judges Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Alesha Dixon for their comments during his five-week stint in the 2009 edition of the BBC contest. So, hang on, let me see if I have this straight? A world boxing champion and someone who could, quite possibly, kill a man with his bare hands, is claiming to have felt bullied by two gay dancers and a girl? Okay. He said: 'Strictly was a form of bullying.' Ah, 'a form' of bullying, not actual bullying which many people have to put up with on a dialy basis. I see. 'It's part of the pantomime and who better to pick on than a world champion? I kept my composure but to me it was destructive criticism, not constructive. Len Goodman was great. [He is] the one guy on that panel who actually knows what he's talking about.' Calzaghe, who is now dating his professional partner from the show Kristina Rihanoff, further admitted that the judges' comments left him 'paralysed with fear' before each appearance. He said: 'I tried so hard to be good at it, but I struggled. Come Saturday night I just froze. I've never been so nervous in my life. I felt sick with nerves. It was easier to go in the boxing ring than the dance floor, and that's the honest to God truth. I'd stiffen up and become scared. But that's what happens when you're petrified. I was so in control of what I did in my world - the fight. So cool. So calm. Suddenly you're doing a dancing show and you're so afraid.' Well, you signed up for it, pal. I'm sure you weren't 'paralysed with fear' when you read the initial cheque.

The upcoming hurricane-themed crossover event between Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show has been postponed in light of recent events in the US. FOX had been scheduled to air the so-called 'Animation Domination' crossover tonight, but the company has released a statement postponing the event out of respect for the three hundred people who died this week in the tornado outbreak in the Southern Midwest. 'In light of the recent storms that have affected the nation, FOX has decided to postpone the crossover episodes that were originally scheduled to air this Sunday,' the statement reads. The network will boradcast repeats in place of the event, and will show the hurricane crossover in Spring 2012. FOX agreed on the postponement with Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, who had planned the animated crossover around eighteen months ago.

The acclaimed military historian, Professor Richard Holmes CBE, has died at the age of sixty five. Known for sharing his knowledge of warfare on BBC documentaries, Richard also taught at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Cranfield University. His specialities included England's conflicts with France in the Middle Ages and World War II. He also wrote numerous books. His focus was always on the ordinary soldier, whom he wanted to 'put centre stage.' Professor Holmes was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, as well as Northern Illinois University and the University of Reading. In 1964, he enlisted in the Territorial Army, the part-time volunteer reserve of the British Army. Two years later he gained his commission, eventually rising to the rank of Brigadier. He spent most of his Territorial Army career with the 5th (Volunteer) Battalion, The Queen's Regiment, a NATO-centred infantry battalion. In 1983 he transferred to and took command of the 2nd Battalion, The Wessex Regiment. Between 1969 and 1985, he was a lecturer at the Department of War Studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, becoming Deputy Head of the Department in 1984. In June 1991 he was appointed Aide-de-Camp to the Queen, holding the post until February 1997. From 1997 until his retirement in 2000, Holmes was Director Reserve Forces and Cadets, as well as having the distinguished honour of being Britain's senior serving reservist. After his spell of teaching at Sandhurst, he joined Cranfield University as a teacher in 1986 where he worked until 2009. He was a keen supporter of the Army Benevolent Fund, and was the president of the British Commission for Military History and the Battlefields Trust; patron of the Guild of Battlefield Guides and vice president of the UK National Defence Association. In 1998 he was made a CBE. But he was probably best known for his television work. His BBC2 War Walks series was considered a major triumph. One of his most noted documentary series was Wellington: The Iron Duke, in which he chronicled the Duke of Wellington's life, travelling to India, to Waterloo and numerous other locations. He used a similar format in his series, In the Footsteps of Churchill. In this, Holmes travelled across the world, including South Africa, Sudan, Egypt and various locations in the United Kingdom and Europe. He also wrote a book to accompany the series. With John Keegan Holmes also developed the BBC documentary Soldiers, A History of Men in Battle. In the BBC poll to find the Great Britons in 2002, he presented the programme on Oliver Cromwell. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

A Brazilian zoo has named its two new tigers William and Kate after the royal couple. Or, after Will-i-am and Katie Price, it's hard to be certain. The Rio de Janeiro zoo acquired the big cats from an amusement park in a deal finalised on Friday, the day of Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding ceremony in London. The animals, a four-year-old male and five-year-old female, are expected to arrive at the zoo on Monday, when their human counterparts will be returning from a pre-honeymoon weekend retreat in the UK. Authorities at the zoo told AFP of their hope that the tigers will mate upon their arrival. As, indeed, many royalties will be hoping that the royal couple do likewise. The sixty six-year-old Rio Zoo is the oldest in Brazil and houses over two thousand reptiles, mammals and assorted birds within one hundred and thirty eight thousand square metres. And some parasties, of course. Not that that detail, necessarily, has anything to do with anything. Unlike the tiger, however, it would appear that the royal family is not an endangered species.

Lastly for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day we're off to Vancouver to celebrate the work of ambient trance duo Delerium. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping discovered Delerium during his first trip to America in 1998 and three of their CDs in particular - Semantic Spaces, Karma and Poem. From the former, comes their first (Canadian) hit, the dreamlike 'Flowers Become Screens' (vocals by Kristy Thirsk).

Delerium's commercial success, however, has hinged largely on the single 'Silence', which featured lyrics and vocals by Sarah McLachlan. In 2000, three years after the original release of Karma, a number of remixes of 'Silence', produced by DJs Sasha and Digweed, DJ Tiësto, Airscape, Fade and others, proliferated throughout dance clubs; the interest generated eventually took the single to number three on the UK charts.

Me, being the contrary sod that I am, I've always prefered the original! They toured for the first time in 2003, vocals were provided by Kristy Thirsk and Shelley Harland.

No comments: