Friday, May 13, 2011

I Learned My Lesson It Left A Scar, Now I See How You Really Are

In the least unexpected TV news of the year, the BBC is reported to be about to drop their much reviled Saturday night 'entertainment' - and I do realise the irony of using that word - format Don't Scare The Hare. This, after it failed to attract enough viewers - and didn't even impress those who did tune in. The show, produced by Endemol-owned Initial Scotland and filmed at the BBC's Salford Quays studio, has attracted an average audience of just 1.86 million and a staggeringly low AI score of forty six for the first episode. BBC Entertainment controller Mark Linsey would not confirm the decision to axe the show when asked, but Broadcast magazine says that it understands the show's fate is already sealed just three -wretched - episodes into the run. Linsey said: 'Obviously Hare is not going well. It was a huge risk we took - it's co-hosted by an animatronic hare - and while it's proved successful with children, we were hoping there would be enough knowingness within the show to draw in the adults. There wasn't enough of that, which is where it fell down.' Wise words, although this blogger aggressively challenges the assertion that the show has 'proved successful with children' - or anything even remotely like it - for the simple reason that I don't think children are that stupid. Tim Hincks, Endemol chief executive, said: 'The team and I are fine but I am genuinely concerned that this news may scare the hare.' Linsey also suggested that So You Think You Can Dance? may not be brought back next year, after also racking up substandard ratings. The Nineteen Entertainment show stumbled on the launch of its second series in March, opening with 4.87 million - a fall of 1.6 million from its debut last year. Viewing figures have continued to drop since. While Linsey said no decision had yet been taken, he acknowledged that ratings were not at the expected level. He has previously stated that he thought the BBC was in danger of running too many dance shows. The BBC's Light Entertainment have had one piece of good news this week, though. Shine Television's The Magicians is set to return, albeit in a revised format. Linsey said that conversations were taking place about how the show would look on its return, confirming that there would be a live element. 'That is what it missed first time around,' he said. 'Being live gives it such a different feel. Anything could happen, anything could go wrong - and that is what keeps viewers watching.'

A monster from the BBC series Doctor Who has taken to the streets of London. A Silent, seen in the recent two-part series premiere The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon, surprised onlookers on the Tube and outside Westminster's Pall Mall on Friday. The creature was out and about to promote its addition to the Doctor Who Experience, the interactive exhibition open at London's Olympia 2 venue. Tickets are available from
Bet it was hot ... in that hat. Oh, the other one.

ITV's ludicrous decision to broadcast two hours of Christine Bleakley giggling inanely whilst looking totally bewildered each morning has brought predictable - and satisfying - results in Daybreak's dreadful ratings figures. But, when they tried the same schtick in primetime, the results were even more spectacularly laughable. The National Movie Awards averaged an audience of just 2.41m across the two hours on Wednesday and lost seven hundred thousand viewers between the first hour and the second. It was beaten by everything BBC1 had on against it - Waterloo Road (5.24m), Life of Riley (3.7m) and the second episode of The Apprentice (a whopping 7.11m). Indeed, things got so bad for The National Movie Award that between 9pm and 10pm it was also beaten by Channel Four's excellent 24 Hours in A&E which was watched 2.26m and a further three hundred and sixty thousand viewer of C4+1.

There were a couple of excellent episodes of CSI and Bones in the US this week. The former, the current season finale In A Dark Dark House wrapped up the long-running Nate Haskell storyline in a satisfyingly brutal way and benefit from a couple of impressive guest turns, from The Shield's Jay Karnes and Lost's L Scott Caldwell. The penultimate episode of the sixth series of Bones - The Hole in the Heart - concluded the Jacob Broadsky multi-parter story with a very surprising death in the semi-regular cast. On Friday, Bones creator Hart Hanson  explained his decision to kill off a recurring character. Vincent Nigel Murray (played by the excellent Ryan Cartwright) died in the episode after being shot by deranged sniper Broadsky (Arnold Vosloo). Hanson told TV Line that Cartwright's role in new Syfy pilot Alphas was the primary cause of Murray's demise. 'The truth is he got a job,' explained the showrunner. 'We knew [his exit] would happen before the end of this season, so the story has been in the works for a while.' He added that Cartwright's departure provided the season's penultimate instalment with an emotional shock for viewers. '[Vincent was] a well-beloved,' he admitted. 'So we decided to kill him for the heartbreak.' David Boreanaz previously claimed that Vincent's killer Broadsky could return in the show's seventh season, adding that the villain's reappearance could 'bring up a lot of Booth's past.'

Martin Freeman has taken a hiatus from shooting The Hobbit in New Zealand in order to film the second series of Sherlock. The actor, who is playing Bilbo Baggins in the Tolkien adaptation, also appears in the BBC drama as John Watson. During negotiations for Freeman's role in the Peter Jackson-helmed movie, concessions were made to ensure that the actor would be able to fulfil commitments to both projects. Sir Ian McKellen revealed the current arrangement in a blog post, explaining: 'Martin Freeman has left The Hobbit. This is not another April Fool, just a May Fact. Before signing as Bilbo, Martin had agreed to make three ninety-minute TV films in London, again playing Doctor Watson to Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes. No worries: he'll be back in Middle Earth after our first hiatus, during which Peter Jackson will have spare time to edit the scenes already completed.' Last month, former EastEnders actor Rob Kazinsky was forced to leave the production for an undisclosed 'health issue.'

The BBC is to broadcast its political programme Question Time from inside a prison for the first time, with contributions from inmates. In the show to be broadcast next Thursday, ten prisoners from Wormwood Scrubs and ten prison officers will join one hundred members of the public to discuss a range of issues. The inmates will be able to quiz justice secretary Ken Clarke, along with former home secretary Jack Straw and other panellists. The show will be recorded at around 8.30pm at the West London prison and shown at 10.35pm on BBC1. The move follows a European Court of Human Rights verdict in April giving the UK six months to comply with rules extending the right to vote to prisoners. Discussing the show, a BBC spokesman said: 'There will be ten prisoners, none of whom will have been serving for any violent crimes. They will be vetted by the prison staff and the BBC. The involvement in the debate of prisoners and prison staff will offer Question Time viewers a unique insight into their views on the issue of the right to vote as well as more general questions.' Question Time is no stranger to controversy, having given a seat on the panel to British National Party leader Nick Griffin in 2009, despite widespread protests. Speaking to the Sun, a Question Time source reiterated that the Wormwood Scrubs broadcast will not feature any high risk offenders. The source added: 'Many people will see it as a stunt, but this is a very high-risk move from the BBC. The aim is to try to get some debate around the rights of prisoners. You won't see people there who are murderers, rapists or paedophiles.'

ITV Studios has appointed Francis Hopkinson, the executive producer of BAFTA award-winning series Wallander, as its new creative director for drama. Hopkinson, currently an executive producer at Left Bank Pictures, will be responsible for developing and producing a new slate of scripted drama for both internal and external commissions, reporting to ITV Studios managing director Kevin Lygo. Before joining Left Bank, Hopkinson was commissioning editor for Channel Four's drama department, overseeing projects such as the multi-award winning Elizabeth I starring Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons, along with the cult classic Sugar Rush, All In The Game, and E4's Skins. Hopkinson also previously produced the BAFTA-nominated Danielle Cable: Eyewitness for ITV and the Emmy award-winning Henry VIII with Ray Winstone. He will officially join ITV Studios in September. 'Francis is one of the most talented drama producers working in the industry today; he has an eye for ideas which resonate with large audiences along with impressive relationships with talent on and off screen,' said Lygo. 'Drama is a hugely important area for ITV Studios and with Francis joining our team we are in a very good position to build on our already strong slate to produce more scripted content for UK and international broadcasters.' Hopkinson himself added: 'I am delighted to be returning to ITV Studios at a time when there is such great ambition for drama. I'm looking forward to working with Kevin and team to develop a new slate of drama for both ITV and external broadcasters.'

How nice it was to see not only dear old Ringo Starr but, also a fit and healthy-looking Danny Baker on Friday night's episode of The ONE Show. Welcome back Candyman.

The Chicago Code creator Shawn Ryan has confirmed that he has a new project in development at FX. The showrunner previously produced cop drama The Shield for the cable network, before moving FOX's to create Lie To Me and The Chicago Code - both of which, with horrible timing, FOX cancelled this week. 'I've been working nonstop since 1997 with only a couple breaks,' Ryan told Entertainment Weekly. 'I'm going to use this time to recharge [and] take the time to figure out what went right and what went wrong with [axed FX series] Terriers and Chicago Code.' Ryan confirmed that his new project, titled Nickel, will be executive produced by The Chicago Code writer Davey Holmes and will focus on an ex-convict who uses a self-help book to become a better criminal. He also admitted that he is keen to move away from law enforcement shows in the future, revealing: 'The next thing I do will probably not be a cop show.' Ryan also co-created CBS drama The Unit with David Mamet, and served as a writer and producer on the hugely under-rated Angel and Nash Bridges.

ITV has pulled the plug on Taggart after twenty eight years, forcing STV to go it alone on the murder drama. Broadcast magazine announced that ITV will not commission STV Productions to make another series of the Glasgow-set thriller, which has run for one hundred and ten episodes, after the last series failed to rate as well as expected. The six-part series, ordered at the height of the legal dispute between ITV and STV, averaged 3.45 million viewers on ITV earlier this year. But STV is determined not to let the decision kill off the show, which remains a popular audience-grabber in Scotland, be the end for Taggart. STV chief executive Rob Woodward said he was 'pretty confident' an innovative production model could be found to rescue the drama. He said: 'Now ITV has come to a landing, it's up to us to decide how to take it forward. The latest series sold extremely well internationally, including in new territories like France and Germany. We're talking to other broadcasters and reviewing what the options are.' One of those broadcasters is UKTV, which part-funded the twenty seventh series to secure secondary rights for crime channel Alibi in 2013. But ITV was the show's largest single investor and STV will face a tough task to replace its cash. An ITV spokesman said: 'Since it was first broadcast in 1983, Taggart has been one of ITV's most enduring dramas but, reflecting the demands of our audience and as part of the ongoing creative renewal of the ITV schedule, our priority is to invest in new and original drama for the channel.' An ITV 'source' allegedly said the 'significant' amount of cash freed up from Taggart would be ploughed into other drama output. The broadcaster has done well in non-stop drama this year, broadcasting five of the top ten one-offs. It has also ordered Fast Freddie, a ninety-minute morality tale, from STV Productions. Both broadcasters stressed that the Taggart decision was unrelated to their recent legal settlement, which will see STV pay ITV eighteen million pounds to end a near two-year spat over alleged unpaid programming fees. STV said late last month that it was in shareholders' best interests to end 'a long period of uncertainty over the relationship with ITV.' Taggart is the second high-profile police drama to be dropped recently by ITV after Talkback Thames' The Bill was killed off in September last year.

As has been widely reported House had been renewed for an eighth season on FOX. The announcement came after weeks of negotiations between Universal Media (the TV series' studio) and the network. Reportedly, FOX wanted a discount on the per-episode licensing fee. House has declined in the ratings of late and FOX executives know that the show makes a boatload of cash for the studio in syndication and overseas sales. A new deal was finally reached and the network will reportedly pay about five million dollars per installment which is approximately the sum that FOX wanted to pay. New contracts with some of the medical drama's co-stars also had to be worked out. Robert Sean Leonard and Omar Epps have closed new deals for next season and Lisa Edlestein is expected back as well. According to various reports the three actors were asked to take a pay cut to help trim the budget. Leonard is said to be more or less keeping his old salary while the other two are taking modest pay cuts. Hugh Laurie has one year to run on his current three year contract which will be up at the end of next season and means that the producers would have to renegotiate with him if they want a ninth season. As widely reported in the UK, Laurie uses an interview with the Radio Times to suggest that he is tired of spending ten months a year away from his family. 'The end of (the eighth) season, right now, looks like the end of the show. That is as far as they have got me for.' Considering how long it took to iron out a financial deal for season eight, a ninth year doesn't seem very probable at this time. In addition, executive producer David Shore's contract finishes this season. A new deal is being worked out and Deadline reports that it would see him 'return and finish the series.'

The private investigator at the centre of the phone-hacking affair intercepted forty five voicemail messages from the then deputy prime minister John Prescott and e-mailed them to the News of the World, the high court has heard. Lord Prescott's lawyers told the court that he had been the victim of 'an unfortunate history of misinformation' by the Metropolitan police, who had told him repeatedly that he was not a victim of hacking. But the court heard that the investigator Glenn Mulcaire had targeted Prescott by listening to messages which he left on the phone of his chief of staff, Joan Hammell. Mulcaire had then sent a News of the World executive an e-mail containing forty five messages as well as instructions about how to continue accessing Hammell's phone. The new evidence emerged in a hearing in which Prescott, the Labour MP and former Europe minister Chris Bryant and the Met's former deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick are seeking permission for a judicial review of police handling of the affair. They say police failed to conduct an effective inquiry and failed to inform them that they were victims. Lawyers for the Met conceded there had been 'some operational shortcomings' and that there had been cases where some victims had not been informed even though the evidence was clear. But they said that the evidence in the claimants' cases had not been clear. They revealed that, having seized ten thousand pages of notes from Mulcaire, the original inquiry in 2006 had failed to enter the material on a computer system. In 2009, after the Gruniad Morning Star revived the affair, Scotland Yard had finally started transferring the material to a database but had overlooked numerous documents and scanned others in a form that was not searchable. The result for the police, according to James Lewis QC, was that: Prescott was told there was no evidence that he was a target of Mulcaire, even though his name was listed on notes the investigator had kept about the hacking of Hammell. Bryant was told only that his name and number had been found in Mulcaire's notes, whereas in fact his name was linked to a list of twenty three phone numbers that could only have been obtained by hacking his voicemail, according to Hugh Tomlinson QC. Paddick was told there was no evidence he was a victim even though a print-out from Mulcaire's computer named him as 'a project' and handwritten notes included phone details for him, his partner, his former partner and numerous associates. The court heard that the e-mail containing Prescott's forty five messages had been handed to police by the News of the World in January this year. Mr Justice Foskett said he would deliver a judgment as to whether the judicial review should continue in the near future.

Sienna Miller is set to accept one hundred thousand pounds in damages from the News of the World, after the paper admitted liability over the hacking of the actress's phone. The newspaper will make a full disclosure in private to her legal team to show the extent of all wrongdoing. Lawyers for Miller said there had been a full admission of liability and that she had been vindicated. Following a two-day hearing at the High Court, Mr Justice Voss indicated he would give his full judgment next week. The News of the World said in a statement: 'We are pleased that we have managed to bring this case to a satisfactory conclusion. Several weeks ago we admitted liability in certain cases and offered a genuine and unreserved apology. We hope to resolve other cases swiftly. For the record, reports that we have been ordered to disclose eight thousand e-mails to Miller are inaccurate. The error stems from a reference in court to the fact that a total of eight thousand e-mails were being searched to ascertain whether any Sienna Miller-related material was amongst them.' Four alleged victims have already reached out-of-court settlements with the newspaper, including celebrity publicist Max Clifford, who received a reported one million pounds. On Thursday News Group's QC, Michael Silverleaf, told Mr Justice Voss at the High Court it admitted liability unconditionally for all the wrongs alleged by the actress and accepted responsibility for compensating her. Miller's counsel, Hugh Tomlinson QC, said the proposed settlement would include the provision of information by the News of the World 'concerning the extent of the wrongdoing.' Tomlinson said: 'I make the position clear that Ms Miller is proceeding in this way precisely because Mr Silverleaf indicated yesterday all her claims have been admitted - misuse of private information, breach of confidence, publication of articles derived from voicemail hacking and a course of conduct of harassment over a period of more than twelve months. In those circumstances, her primary concern is not how much money is awarded by way of compensation but to know exactly what the extent was of the hacking which took place and, having obtained an order which will enable her to know that - so far as it is knowable - that meets all her requirements from this action.' The settlement is likely to be formalised by the court next Friday. The News of the World's admission to Miller marks a new chapter in a scandal which dates back to 2006, when the paper's former royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for hacking into the mobile phone voicemails of royal aides. Since then, a series of inquiries and legal cases have been exploring just how widespread the practice was, with implications for the police, celebrities and politicians. More and more celebrities and public figures have alleged their phones have been hacked and some have launched legal actions against the paper or the police for allegedly failing to investigate. News International, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, has offered to co-operate fully with a Metropolitan Police inquiry. The News of the World's chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and former news editor Ian Edmondson were arrested last month on suspicion of having unlawfully intercepted voicemail messages. They were released on bail until September.

Blackpool fans took a two-nil lead in the prank stakes over their bitter Lancashire rivals Preston North End, with a devious stunt on TV show Countdown. The afternoon game show, popular among the elderly and students, revealed the famous Countdown conundrum anagram that cheekily spelled out 'PNE CRISIS' to the despair of recently relegated Preston fans. But unlike previous bloopers which have accidentally appeared on the show, this one was no coincidence, as one of the back-room staff revealed to be a Tangerine fan. A Channel Four spokesman said: 'One of the members of the production team is a life-long Blackpool fan and it was intended to be friendly banter, all done in good humour.' There has been a series of back-and-forth jibes between the two clubs, most recently when a Seasiders fan flew a plane of Preston's Deepdale ground with a banner hanging off the back that read: We are superior. Love Blackpool FC. The answer to the prankster's conundrum, incidentally, was 'Priciness'.

The 'world-famous actor' who is said to have taken out a superinjunction to prevent details of his affair with a prostitute coming to light has reportedly 'confessed all' to his wife. The Sun claims that the actor admitted to cheating with twenty three-year-old prostitute Helen Wood, who infamously slept with Wayne Rooney in 2009. Sources allege that the mystery man was prompted into revealing the truth after his identity was revealed by Twitter users attempting to break the slew of injunctions handed down to a number of celebrities. An 'insider' allegedly said: 'Since then his name has been passed around the Internet at record speed. Millions have seen it and the fact is that there's no hiding place for him anymore. It's reached the stage where his wife or any member of his family can easily find out the sordid details with a couple of clicks on Google.'

Gabby Logan described Internet claims that she got an injunction to cover-up an affair with Alan Shearer as 'ridiculous.' The BBC presenter was wrongly accused on Twitter of being one of the celebrities who got a gagging order to stop revelations about their private lives being published after a lengthy campaign of whispers on various Internet sites, including various abortive attempts to amend her Wikipedia page. Logan, who is married to former Scottish rugby player Kenny Logan, said: 'People like me are getting muddled up with other people's gossip because of superinjunctions. Somehow, I have no idea why, I was caught in the middle of it.' The former gymnast spoke as she visited a school in London to promote Lloyds TSB National School Sport Week, which starts on 27 June. Logan said: 'I've got perspective and I don't want to sound like I'm dismissing it but it's not tough in the sense that I've spent one moment of anxiety on it. I haven't shed a tear over it.' And she revealed that her husband 'thinks it’s laughable.' The Final Score host said that defending her name had been 'a pain,' adding: 'In the sense of having to get involved or spend any time on it.'

The lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt, should challenge a superinjunction in the Supreme Court to ensure that the courts are not interfering with free speech, an MP has suggested. John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat, has tabled a written question in Parliament, urging the vile and odious rascal Hunt to intervene. The vile and odious rascal Hunt said this week that ministers would hold urgent talks over the regulation of social media, pointing out that Twitter posts claiming to name those who have taken out injunctions made 'a mockery' of privacy rules. Hemming said: 'The current interpretation of the Human Rights Act is acting in an oppressive manner. The Government has the power to apply to intervene in privacy actions. It should use that power to ensure that the Supreme Court has the opportunity to sort out this problem.' He said that the vile and odious rascal Hunt, using Treasury solicitors, could select a superinjunction at random and ask the Supreme Court to judge whether the order was contrary to section twelve of the Act, protecting freedom of expression for publishers. With Twitter refusing to take action against the mystery Tweeter, attention has turned to Facebook, the world's largest social network site. Fake accounts have been created in the names of celebrities named on Twitter, detailing alleged sexual indiscretions. The names remain on the mystery Tweeter's page, which now has more than one hundred thousand 'followers,' despite lying dormant since Sunday. The list has been pasted on numerous Facebook pages. Facebook, like Twitter, is based in the US and lies outside the jurisdiction of the UK courts.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has waded into the debate over superinjunctions, saying current privacy laws are a 'human rights violation.' The online encyclopaedia has fallen foul of UK privacy law in recent weeks, with details about those using superinjunctions appearing - briefly - on the site before being removed. Wales told the BBC that such information would be removed only because it did not come from a reliable source. But if stories ran for example in foreign newspapers he would publish. 'The Wikipedia community does not allow such things to come on the site unless there is a reliable source which currently there isn't because the newspapers aren't allowed to publish,' he told the BBC Radio 4's PM programme. But if they appeared in say the New York Times or a French newspaper he would run them, 'without question.' Wales said his personal view was that privacy laws were 'grave injustices and human rights violations. They should be done away with as quickly as possible. There should be no law constraining people from publishing legally obtained, factual information,' he said. Exceptions to this would be information that was life-threatening, such as troop movements. 'But we aren't talking about that. This is embarrassing facts about politicians and celebrities.' Wikipedia is owned by the US-based charity the WikiMedia Foundation and is, therefore, subject to US law. That is the same legal loophole that has allowed Twitter to continue publishing details about the private lives and subsequent superinjunctions of a range of celebrities. It has said it will not identify the user who has been exposing the superinjunction glitterati on the site, despite the fact that some of the details appear to be untrue. Users worried by libellous tweets are advised to contact a lawyer. Experts warned that the lawyers of celebrities could turn the tables, pressing for ISPs and firms such as Twitter to hand over the details of who is publishing comments on the site. To do so they would need to obtain what is known as a Norwich Pharmacal order from a judge, the same process used by rights holders to force ISPs to hand over details about alleged illegal file-sharers. 'Celebrities could apply for Norwich Pharmacal orders against ISPs, Twitter or other parties holding data that may lead to the identification of a defendant,' said solicitor Michael Forrester of law firm Ralli. 'The position is much more difficult when dealing with companies based in the US, such as Twitter and Google. They may seek to avoid any applications on jurisdictional points and I suspect they may take a strong line with such applications, at least at first,' he added. Meanwhile Twitter continues to ride high on the furore, recording its busiest day of online traffic this week.

A high court judge has issued an injunction which for the first time explicitly bans publication of information on Twitter and Facebook. The order, made by Mr Justice Baker in the court of protection – linked to the family division of the high court – places a specific ban on publishing information on any 'social network or media including Twitter or Facebook,' as well as in other media. The normal orders issued by the family division judges to prevent identification of children and others involved in cases simply ban publication of specified information in 'any newspaper, magazine, public computer network, Internet website, sound or television broadcast or cable or satellite programme.' The decision follows the publication on Twitter over the weekend of a number of tweets purporting to reveal the identities of celebrities involved in superinjunctions. The tweets brought warnings from leading lawyers that if the person involved was discovered and were based in the UK – which is presently impossible to ascertain – that they could face a jail sentence. The US company running Twitter has not commented. Mr Justice Baker issued the order in a case involving a woman, who can be referred to only as 'M,' who has been in 'a minimally conscious state' since suffering from swelling of the brain stem, which caused serious damage and wasting to the brain. M suffered the illness in 2003 and has been minimally conscious since. Her mother applied to the court of protection, which deals with cases of those who are unable to make their own decisions on medical care or other issues, for an order that those who are looking after M could withdraw nourishment and medical treatment and allow her to die, while giving her the care and treatment she needed to suffer the least distress and maintain as much dignity as possible. Mr Justice Baker had issued one injunction in the case which banned the media not merely from publishing information which could identify anyone involved in the case, but also from contacting a list of sixty five people who were connected with it, including M's relatives and medical and care home staff. Though it is highly unlikely that anyone would seek to name the woman involved in the case cited in Mr Justice Baker's order, the move sets a precedent that is likely to be made explicit in future injunctions and superinjunctions. However, that could be difficult to enforce because both Twitter and Facebook are US companies, which could argue that their users are exercising their right to free speech, which is guaranteed under the US Constitution's first amendment. If the poster were an American, they are likely to be able to evade UK law entirely, despite being in contempt of the British court. The court of protection rules specify that cases are normally heard in secret. But it does allow for exceptions in which cases can be heard in public, subject to reporting restrictions protecting the identities of the parties.

The local TV news services which serve BBC director general Mark Thompson's home in Oxfordshire and David Cameron's Witney constituency may fall victim to the latest round of cost-cutting at the BBC. The corporation is looking at axing the three regional 'sub-opt' services that provide news for Oxford, Cambridge and the Channel Islands as part of the corporation-wide Delivering Quality First review aimed at saving more than four hundred million pounds. The BBC is also understood to be looking at axing the regional news bulletins at breakfast and lunchtime on BBC1 and reducing the localness of its regional current affairs series Inside Out by creating larger 'super regions.' Management briefed staff about the proposed changes to the 'sub-opt' services earlier this week. 'The fear is that the BBC regional news could now go the same way as ITV with fewer regions – and at a time when the government is keen to encourage more "localness,"' said one BBC staffer. The Oxford, Cambridge and Channel Islands services give a more focused news offering than the much larger regions in which they are a part – South Today, Look East and BBC South West respectively. The Oxford sub-opt has about twenty staff and a budget of one million pounds a year, with a nightly audience share of more than thirty per cent. 'We do appreciate money has to be saved but this proposal feels like an easy option,' said the staffer. 'We feel not only are we good value for money, we are providing everything the BBC promises in terms of its public service broadcasting ethos.' A BBC spokesman said no final decisions had been made and any claims about closures remained speculation. 'We have made it clear that local, regional and national services will continue to be at the heart of what we do,' said the spokesman. 'We are not going to get drawn into a running commentary – no decisions have been taken and therefore these claims remain speculation. Any decisions coming out of the process would be subject to approval by the BBC Trust.' Ideas that have already been put forward include scrapping dedicated local radio news broadcasts, axing overnight programming on BBC1 and BBC2, launching a 'slimmed-down' news channel and scaling back the Parliament Channel. A final list of proposals is due to be prepared in June and the report will be presented to the BBC Trust in July. Senior BBC management are understood to be considering the proposals at a series of meetings due to take place at BBC Caversham on Thursday and Friday this week. The news services in Oxford and Cambridge (which broadcasts to the prime minister's Witney constituency) were highlighted by the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt in a speech to the Royal Television Society about local media last year. 'Look at the BBC, which has tried to make its regional news more locally focused – particularly in cities such as Oxford and Cambridge – and which has kept audiences stable over the past five years,' he said. 'Compare that to ITV, which has taken the opposite strategy – merging some of its regions and seeing its audiences steadily decline.'

ITV Studios America is to make its first show for ITV as part of a raft of entertainment commissions won by the in-house production business. The New York and LA-based ITVS division will produce the seven part High Stakes, a half-million pound studio game show filmed on a The Cube-like giant LED grid. Contestants will have to navigate a path through the grid using question and answer-style clues. An increasing sum of money can be won on each square, but contestants must avoid stepping on 'fail numbers,' which result in disqualification. ITVS America is also waiting to hear whether US network NBC will pick up High Stakes for a full series. The UK version will be executive produced by Jamie Roberts and Colman Hutchinson. Meanwhile, ITVS-owned Twelve Yard Productions is making another seven-part format Holding Out For A Hero for ITV, where contestants can win tens of thousands of pounds for someone else. The format is designed to maintain tension to the last moment as each question can change the course of the game. It is Twelve Yard's first ITV commission since the disastrous Chris Tarrant-fronted game show The Colour Of Money and the executive producers are Andy Culpin, Michael Mannes and Matt Walton. Finally, ITV has confirmed the commission of an ITVS primetime format in conjunction with Save the Children. The six-part Born To Shine will see talented children help a celebrity master a new skill to raise money for the charity. The executive producers are Lee Connolly, Tim Miller and Sue Andrew. The shows will be broadcast over the summer and autumn, and were ordered by director of entertainment and comedy Elaine Bedell. The orders mark a step forward in chief executive Adam Crozier's plans to rejuvenate ITV's entertainment slate.

The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, has been given the green light to proceed with a contempt of court action against the Scum and Daily Mirra over the way in which they reported the hunt for the killer of Joanna Yeates in December last year. Granting the application for the contempt action at the high court in London on Thursday, Lord Justice Moses said it was 'clearly arguable' that both tabloid newspapers were guilty of contempt of court with their reporting of the arrest of Christopher Jefferies, Yeates's landlord, who was later released without charge. Vincent Tabak this month admitted killing the twenty five-year-old landscape architect, who was found dead on Christmas Day near Bristol. His plea of manslaughter was not accepted and he will be tried for murder. Grieve's legal team told the high court on Thursday that the coverage of Jefferies's arrest in the Scum and Mirra was 'so exceptional, so memorable' that it presented a 'serious risk of serious prejudice' to any potential future trial of Yeates's killer. In a statement read out to court, Grieve said the two newspapers' coverage left Jefferies 'liable to such hostility' that it would have 'deterred readers from assisting [Jefferies] in his evidence' should he have faced a trial by jury. Grieve's complaint involves three articles: two in the Mirra, published on 31 December and 1 January, respectively; and one in the Scum, published on 1 January. He described general media coverage of the hunt for Yeates's killer as 'wholly exceptional,' but added that the Scum and the Mirra had focused particularly on Jefferies. So-called news reports included inaccuracies and distortions that amounted to a character assassination of the former schoolteacher. Some papers appeared to have made up their mind that he was guilty. The papers now have fourteen days to submit a defence. A full hearing is expected to take place over two days later this month or in early June. Neither News Group Newspapers, the News International subsidiary that publishes the Scum, nor Trinity Mirror's Mirra Group Newspapers, which publishes the Daily Mirra, submitted evidence in defence to the court. Moses said he would have been 'horrified' to read some of the reporting at the time if he had been involved in the police investigation into Yeates's death. Contempt of court proceedings are infrequently issued against newspapers, and only invoked where it is believed that media coverage of a case could prejudice the outcome of any trial. It is more unusual still for the attorney general to take action in defence of an individual who has not been charged. Jefferies was the first person to be arrested, a few days after the body of Yeates was discovered. He was questioned for two days, and released from police bail without charge. Tabloid media coverage of the case as Jefferies was arrested was intense, and at the time Grieve warned that newspapers needed to be careful in their reporting. Speculation about the killing was also rife on the Internet, in particular on the Twitter website. 'We need to avoid a situation where trials cannot take place or are prejudiced as a result of irrelevant or improper material being published, whether in print form or on the Internet, in such a way that a trial becomes impossible,' Grieve said at the time. He added: 'I don't want to comment on the precise coverage today, but I think it's important to understand that the contempt of court rules are there to protect the rule of law and the fair trial process, and they require newspapers, and indeed anyone who is covering material, to do that in a way that doesn't prejudice the possibility of a fair trial taking place at a later date.' Grieve's decision to take action is a clear reflection of such concerns, at a time when tabloid journalism is battling a number of fronts, from the News of the World phone-hacking scandal to confrontations with celebrities over the use of privacy injunctions. If found guilty, the newspapers could be fined, and individuals could be jailed. Separately, lawyers acting on behalf of Jefferies have launched libel and privacy actions against several newspapers in relation to articles published by them in December 2010 and January 2011. The newspapers are the Scum, Mirra, Daily Scum Mail, Daily Scum Express, Daily Lies, Sunday Mirra, Scotsman and Daily Record.

A TV commercial showing a cat being accidentally kicked into a tree by a blind football player was the most complained about UK advert of 2010, in a top ten which included adverts promoting condoms, extra-marital affairs and abortion services. Overall more than twenty five thousand complaints were lodged last year, a thirteen per cent decrease on 2009, with the number about TV advertising increasing by eight per cent year-on-year. The Paddy Power commercial featuring the blind footballer kicking a cat notched up over thirteen hundred complaints, enough to rank it third on the UK's all-time list of most complained about ads, but the Advertising Standards Authority did not ban or censure the campaign. The ASA said the advert, which was accused by many of the complainants of being 'offensive to blind people' and 'encouraging animal cruelty,' was 'surreal and light-hearted.' The ASA cleared eight of the top ten most complained about adverts last year. Other notable campaigns to escape censure included Marie Stopes's controversial Are You Late? campaign offering advice on abortion services, which attracted just over a thousand official complaints and a further three thousand six hundred objections on postcards and via petitions. TV continued to be the medium that attracted the most complaints – accounting for fifty six per cent of the total – while issues with Internet marketing dropped by more than a quarter. However, the ASA said complaints about the Internet, the second most complained about medium at three thousand five hundred and forty six, fell by twenty five per cent purely because the watchdog clarified that it cannot rule on the content of websites, only adverts. Complaints about national press advertising fell eighteen per cent year-on-year.

An unlikely combination of momentous international news stories and a man falling off a roof on The Archers helped propel BBC Radio 4 to its biggest-ever audience of nearly eleven million listeners in the first three months of 2011. The station had an average weekly audience of 10.83 million listeners between January and March, up eight per cent on the same period in 2010, according to Rajar audience figures published this week. Radio 4's Today programme also had a record audience of 7.03 million listeners, six hundred thousand up on the previous year. A Radio 4 spokeswoman attributed the rise to the big, breaking news that dominated the year's start, including the Japanese tsunami and the so-called 'Arab spring.' The station's long-running soap The Archers, which, during its sixtieth anniversary in January, killed off the character of Nigel Pargetter, (played by Graham Seed) who tumbled from the roof of Lower Loxley, also got its biggest-ever weekday audience, with a total weekly reach of more than five million. With a record proportion of the UK population tuning into radio each week, four other BBC stations had their highest number of listeners since Rajar's methodology was introduced in 1999. Radio 1 had 11.83 million listeners, while Radio 2 had a weekly audience of 14.54 million. BBC 6Music and Radio 7, now rebranded as Radio 4Extra, also had record highs, as did Radio 1's sister digital station, 1Xtra. Tim Davie, director of BBC audio and music, said: 'From a BBC perspective, the record results reflect the unique strength of our programme makers and the growing value of distinctive radio stations.' The popularity of digital radio grew, up from twenty four per cent in the first quarter of 2010, to account for twenty six and a half per cent of all radio listening.

Former X Factor champion Joe McElderry is taking a break from signing on at South Shields Jobcentre as he's joining, Cheryl Baker and Midge Ure among the 2011 Popstar to Operastar line-up. Oh God - that one's going to be worth avoiding like the plague, isn't it? Joining them on the reality show will be ex-Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton, Toploader's Joe Washbourn and Erasure's Andy Bell. Completing the line-up are Steps' Claire Richards and US soul singer Jocelyn Brown. The ITV series pits pop singers against each other in a competition to learn opera singing. Darius Campbell triumphed in the final of the first series last year. Which was wretched, incidentally. And speaking of wretched, the horrible Myleene Klass will return to host the show, but the judging line-up - which last year included Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Meat Loaf, Katherine Jenkins and Rolando Villazon - has not been revealed yet.

And so to the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day. This time around we've got two versions of the same song. Written by Clint Ballard, Jr in 1963, 'You're No Good' is one of the best - and bitterest- break-up songs ever. It was first recorded by Dee Dee Warwick for Jubilee Records in 1963 with production by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. It's one of those songs that always seems to bring out the best in those who record it. Notable versions include those by Lulu, Ike and Tina Turner, Elvis Costello, Aswad and Linda Ronstadt whose 1974 version was a huge international hit. But, the two recordings yer actual Keith Telly Topping has gone for are the first hit version, by Betty Everett
And the magnificently moody Merseybeat treatment by The Swinging Blue Jeans.

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