Monday, May 30, 2011

Some Say That Knowledge Is Something That You Never Have

It was lovely to hear Stephen Fry on The Danny Baker Show on Radio 5Live over the weekend, dear blog reader. Two of the nation's genuine broadcasting treasures on one show. 'Few people I'd more happy get up early on a Saturday for,' Stephen told his Twitter followers. Their discussion took in Stephen's recent interview with Lady GaGa for the Financial Times, the only time Stephen ever got nervous whilst being interviewed on the radio, his fannish devotion to Peter Cook and Viv Stanshall, the movie Cromwell, Aaron Sorkin's love of The Lion in Winter, the dialogue in A Man For All Seasons, ghosts, horror film clichés, secret fears, Stephen's spell in prison and his 'lucky four-leaf clover', Shakespeare, Danny's recent cancer scare, ageing and mortality, Stephen's back problems, Qi, Poland, audio books, Dennis Potter, watching football and - obviously - Norwich and Millwall, the Royal Wedding, snooker, Sepp Blatter, the Internet and the law, freedom of information versus privacy, the 'Twitter joke trial', The Hobbit, the forthcoming movie version of The Borrowers, Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch and Sherlock, potential Qi Live shows in Australia, BBC4's The Joy Of Easy Listening and Hugh Laurie. It ended with Danny getting Stephen, an infamous 'non-singer' - for the second time - to 'sing' live on BBC radio (this time a couple of lines from Lee Marvin's 'Wanderin' Star'!)

The new Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp ITV crime drama, Scott & Bailey launched last night with a quietly impressive episode and an even more impressive average audience of 8.2 million (including those watching timeshifted on ITV+1). I believe that's the biggest overnight launch audience for a new drama on British telly since Doctor Who hit 9.9m in 2005 (although technically, of course, Doctor Who wasn't 'new' per se). Whitechapel's 8.1m opening episode in January 2009 comes the closest from more recent times.
On another blazing-hot Saturday, Manchester United's 3-1 defeat to Barcelona scored a peak audience of over eleven million viewers according overnight figures. The Champions League final at Wembley delivered an average of 7.85m to ITV between 7pm and 10.25pm, peaking with 11.1m at 9pm, which matched the Wednesday night game two years ago when Barça won 2-0. Coverage on Sky Sports 1, broadcast between 6pm and 10.30pm, averaged 1.34m, also peaking at 9pm but with a more modest 2.25m - enough for Sky Sports to usurp Channel Five to fifth place in the prime time league tables with a 6.2 per cent share. Elsewhere, a combination of the weather and the football meant it was a relatively poor night for BBC1. Doctor Who lost seven hundred thousand week-on-week for The Almost People, which was watched by 5.05m from 6.45pm. Except the timeshifts on that to take it up to somewhere around seven million or maybe even a touch higher. Nevertheless, despite recording its lowest audience of the series so far Doctor Who was still, comfortably, the BBC's highest-rated show of the night. Sandwiched between the popular family SF drama, the very unpopular So You Think You Can Dance could only muster 2.59m from the early time of 5.45pm, embarrassingly beaten by Animals Do The Funniest Things with 2.7m on ITV. Appointment at the Job Centre for Ms Phillips and Mrs Redknapp, I believe. At 7.30pm, a mere 2.42m tuned in for the dance series' results show. Time somebody in light entertainment cleared out their desks, I'd suggest. For the second time in its run, the risible Don't Scare The Hare slipped below the one million mark, fetching a pitiful nine hundred and fifty nine thousand viewers, while Casualty drew was the second most watched BBC show of the day - and third most watched overall - with just 3.84m for an episode titled When The Bough Breaks which probably gives you an idea, dear blog reader, of just what a desperately poor night it was all round - football and Time Lords notwithstanding.

The BBC1 drama Sherlock swept the board at the BAFTA-Cymru awards, winning five categories. Sherlock, the modern-day retelling of Sherlock Holmes commissioned by BBC Cymru Wales, won best television drama and best director for Euros Lyn. The best actor award went to Stuart Brennan for his role as the Welsh boxer Howard Winstone. Meanwhile, BBC Wales's Week In Week Out won an award for its programme University Challenged. The Twentieth annual awards was held Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff on Sunday. BBC Cymru Wales won fifteen awards, while independent production company Rondo Media won in four categories, closely followed by Fiction Factory with three awards. Programmes on the Welsh language channel S4C claimed prizes in eight categories. But it was Sherlock's night. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, it won awards for best television drama, best director (fiction), production design, hair and make-up and photography (fiction). It follows success at the BAFTA TV Awards in London last week, when Sherlock won two prizes. The best actor award went to Stuart Brennan for his role in Risen: The Howard Winstone Story. Winstone, from Merthyr Tydfil, died in 2000. Brennan said: 'Howard Winstone was an incredible man. Taking on this project was a huge undertaking for us.' He added that it involved 'incredible people, a fantastic cast' and 'an incredible crew.' He also thanked the Winstone family. Television producer Gareth Gwenlan, who worked on the BBC comedies Only Fools and Horses, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin and To the Manor Born, received a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to the British and Welsh television industry. The Hollywood actor Matthew Rhys, was also honoured with The Sian Phillips Award, while BBC Wales' Snowdonia 1890 was given the Gwyn Alf Williams Award. Mali Harries won best actress for her role in The Indian Doctor, which was made by Rondo for the BBC, and set in a Welsh mining village in 1963. Angharad Mair, of Welsh language magazine programme Wedi 7 on S4C, was awarded best presenter, while comedian Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience for BBC Wales won best factual series. The Children's Programme award went to The Sarah Jane Adventures and its producer Brian Minchin for last year's Death of the Doctor. Meanwhile, Doctor Who won two of its categories: Tim Rickett received the Sound award for his work on A Christmas Carol, whilst Mark Hutchingson won the Lighting award for The Eleventh Hour.


Things move quickly in Cheryl Cole's world, it would seem: no sooner had she been unceremoniously fired from the American version of The X Factor last week than she had flown back to Britain, checked into a Berkshire hotel and begun pondering her next career move. In America, however, the television pundits were still wrestling with the reasons for the Geordie singer's 'failure to launch.' How, in a royal wedding year when the United States was supposed to have been swooning over all things English, was one of the old country's alleged superstars deemed not good enough for prime time? Because for many observers, Cole – who made her first bouffant-haired appearance as a judge on the US show before the paparazzi just three weeks ago – was simply not up to scratch. And it was not, they said, just because of her North- East accent, which some claimed to be impossible for many viewers to understand. 'With enough production magic, you can go the Lily Allen route and "Geordie" your way to indie-supremacy,' wrote Village Voice columnist Rohin Guha. Two theatre productions featuring accents similar to Cole's – Billy Elliot the Musical and Lee Hall's play, The Pitmen Painters – have recently done extremely well on Broadway and proved that pronunciation is not necessarily a barrier to success. Guha compared Cole's quick flop to Eliza Doolittle failing her 'rain in Spain moment' in a way that he said could prove terminal for her career in America. 'She took herself too seriously from the start,' he added. 'By forgoing the kitsch of her Girls Aloud days, she walked away from one of the few roads female British pop acts have into the American industry.' Other commentators refused to rule out foul play. The news of Cole's dismissal from American X Factor leaked just as a rival talent show and music impresario Simon Cowell's previous brainchild, American Idol, was approaching its finale and ratings peak. 'It was extraordinary timing that the story of Cheryl Cole being fired blew up just as the American Idol season was peaking with the finale – though if anything Idol ratings were higher than expected,' said Kelly Lynch, an editor at Hollywood-based television and celebrity news website Socialite Life. She added that the firing of Cole reflected badly on the Rupert Murdoch-owned television channel FOX, and left Cowell looking foolish. 'Simon Cowell is a wiseass and is putting all his effort into leaving American Idol in the dust. The X Factor is going to be a monster, so I'm surprised by this messy episode,' she said. 'He was drumming up publicity for her [Cole] for the last six months and I thought it would work, that he was bringing us a little bit of his Britain – especially as we're all anglophiles this summer after the royal wedding. So to have Cole fired so abruptly I think has got to have been a business decision by FOX executives,' said Lynch. Others cautioned that it was possible that there was no skulduggery, and that FOX had intended to announce Cole's firing last Thursday, after the Idol finale. Instead, the news was leaked to popular gossip website TMZ the day before. Ratings for American Idol have dropped in the last few years, but the show remains the highest-rated TV series in the United States, and it has held that title since 2004-05. The online betting site Bookmaker has now given Idol a ninety per cent chance of being the top-rated show next season in America, while The X Factor has only been given a 28.6 per cent in what will be its debut season. Cole's place on the judging panel of the US X Factor is now expected to be taken by former Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger. Cole, meanwhile, has reportedly already entered the next stage of her career, becoming a glamorous pawn in a ratings war between BBC1 and ITV. This weekend the twenty seven-year-old Heaton Horror was reportedly choosing between high-profile roles on Saturday night television shows for BBC1 or ITV1 although probably for a reduced fee. Insiders at her record company, Universal, have indicated they would prefer her to consider working on a new talent show in development for the BBC rather than returning to her judge's chair on the British version of The X Factor. The new show, called The Voice, is already a success in the US and has business connections with Universal, where UK boss David Joseph, who also runs the Brit Awards, is said to be hoping to steer her away from ITV and from Cowell. An employee of the record company reportedly confirmed yesterday that, 'Universal are heavily involved in recruiting judges for The Voice when it moves to the BBC and they are urging Cheryl to be the big star of that show,' adding that the move would be 'a great way of sticking two fingers up at Simon Cowell.' Which, let's face it, is never a bad thing. On The Voice, the panel hears the auditions 'blind' and rates the talent purely on their singing voices, a marked contrast to the 'nice face shame about the voice' early rounds of X Factor. Cole was reportedly put under pressure to lose weight ahead of her appearance on The X Factor USA. Producers wanted the singer to lose as much as two stone ahead of the show's auditions process, according to an article in the Daily Scum Mail. Cole was reportedly fired from The X Factor USA for having 'a negative attitude.' The singer is said to have 'angered' network 'bosses' for refusing to adapt to her new life and promote herself in America. A FOX 'production executive' - so, that'll be the tea-boy - allegedly told the Mirra: 'Instead of attending the Grammy Awards and the Coachella music festival, putting herself out there in America, she sat in her hotel room eating ­digestive biscuits.' And what, exactly, is wrong with digestive biscuits, you snob? Meanwhile, a 'friend' allegedly added: 'She just seemed very down. There was too much negativity around her. It's as if she still regrets getting divorced from Ashley Cole, when clearly she was still in love with him. She just didn't help herself. She was ­offered elocution ­lessons and said, "No." She was offered a stylist and said, "No." And then she came out on the first day ­wearing that hideous outfit. And the reaction from FOX was like, "What the fuck is she ­wearing?"' Meanwhile, another 'insider' commented that Cole failed to appear 'excited' about her new role during auditions for the show. They said: 'Cheryl seemed uncomfortable as if she didn't like judging the acts. And at the end of the day that isn't what the TV execs wanted.' The paper also claims that Cole's fellow judge, Paula Abdul, was so concerned by the Girls Aloud singer's behaviour that she suggested using 'crystal healing' to improve her mood. Personally, I'd've suggested using a dose of colonic irrigation, myself. Cole has also reportedly failed to win back her spot on the UK X Factor panel, with N-Dubz's  Tulisa Contostavlos touted as her replacement. As reported yesterday, Cole claims, allegedly, that Simon Cowell 'pushed her' into the role and that she trusted his advice. Which has to be the first time yer actual Keith Telly Topping has ever heard of a lass from Heaton getting pushed into pretty much anything. Cole is quoted by the - ever-reliable - News of the World as saying: 'After what happened in my marriage I made it quite clear I found it impossible to trust another man. But I did trust Simon.' Ah, well, there was your mistake, lassie. 'I let myself believe he had my best interests at heart. Now he's done this to me.' I know. The rotter. The bloomin' scallywag, so he is. 'I never actually wanted to do the American show, I'm not a TV star.' Indeed. And, now you've got your wish not to do one. So, what's the problem, exactly? 'I had so many reservations. But he pushed me into doing it. He told me I'd be a star over there. And then he didn't even give me a chance to prove myself. I was gone after four days. I've been used. It's cruel.' My heart bleeds for you, so it does. Although quite how any of this squares with about six months worth of whinging tabloid stories about the 'stress' of not knowing if you'd got the job or not, I fail to understand. 'I have no idea what I'm going to do now.' Errr... how about working for a living? Bit of a radical suggestion, I know. Maybe you could team up with another Cowell cast-off, your old mate Joe McElderry? I'm sure Morrison's in South Shields has some vacancies. 'My life has been turned upside down,' she allegedly wailed. 'X Factor isn't my world. It's not the be-all or end-all of my career, and I have no desire to keep trying to break America.' Which you haven't doe so, again, one has to ask, what's the problem? 'I actually like the fact I'm not that well-known over there and I can live more of a normal life when I'm there.'

Geordie Shore has reportedly provoked a 'fierce reaction' from - some - Newcastle residents for its unfavourable portrayal of the city. The MTV reality show, which follows a (small) selection of booze-obsessed and promiscuous Tyneside natives (a rough-as-a-sore-arse collection of reet radjis, gangstas, charvas and mingers, like), has been described as 'bordering on pornographic' by local MP Chi Onwurah. It's actually not that or anything even remotely like it. It's just bad. In places embarrassingly bad. But, using a ludicrous description like 'bordering on pornographic' gives it a scandalous reputation it does not deserve and probably guarantees a few more glakes will tune in to the next episode hoping to see a flash on full-frontal. MTV must think you're Santa Claus and The Tooth Fairy all rolled into one, Ms Onwurah. And I'm someone who voted for you. 'It's exploiting those young people and exploiting our city. I'm going to be raising questions in Parliament because I think there should be a limit on how much alcohol a broadcaster can pour down the throats of young people to provoke sensational acts,' she told the Evening Chronicle. 'By putting those young people in this situation, it's encouraging them to lose all their dignity. I think it's totally unrepresentative of Newcastle.' The Jersey Shore spin-off has also been condemned as inaccurate and irresponsible by the local tourism board, the BBC reports. Sarah Stewart, chief executive of tourist agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: 'The fierce reaction to the programme demonstrates that people who live here feel very strongly about NewcastleGateshead and how it's being portrayed. Hopefully as the series continues there will be a more accurate representation of the area. It would be disappointing to see outdated stereotypes pervade.' Yes. And Andy Capp is still being published as well, kidda, what's your point? Geordie Shore became MTV UK's highest-rated programme for three years after debuting to three hundred and twenty thousand viewers on Tuesday. Ofcom confirmed this week that it has so far received twenty complaints about the show's content.

Adam Parsons is back on the BBC News channel today presenting alongside Martine Croxall. Parsons left the BBC in 2009 to become director of communications and public affairs for The British Olympic Association. In June 2010 Adam joined the Hotel chain Travelodge as director of communications. Prior to joining the BOA, Adam was working as BBC sports correspondent and as a relief presenter on the news channel.
Former EastEnders actor Paul Nicholls and Cold Feet and Coronation Street regular John Thomson are reportedly to join the cast of Waterloo Road. The two actors have reportedly been cast in the BBC` drama for its next series. Paul Nicholls will join the drama as a new teacher at the school while Thomson will play a parent. Jaye Jacobs, who recently bowed out of Holby City, will also join the cast according to reports - she will also play a new teacher. Nicholls is still remembered for his role of Joe Wicks in EastEnders between 1996 and 1997. After leaving the soap he appeared in the first series of short-lived cop-drama City Central and his other notable roles include Clapham Junction, The Canterbury Tales, Harley Street and A Thing Called Love. The gifted comedian Thomson - creator of Bernard Rite-On among many other characters and a national treasure for his 'Nice!' performances on The Fast Show, played Pete Gifford in Cold Feet but more recently had a stint in Coronation Street as Jesse Chadwick. The current series of Waterloo Road has been moved to a slightly earlier time slot of 7.30 on BBC1 which has boosted the drama's ratings to an average of above five million viewers per episode. It was recently announced that actress Amanda Burton, who plays Head Teacher Karen Fisher, was quitting the drama.

Forget about The Cube, which beat The X Factor to the best entertainment programme, by far the most surprising award of the night at this year's BAFTAs was the comedy programme prize which went to BBC2 sketch show Harry and Paul. This is the show, you may remember, which started life on BBC1 as Ruddy Hell! It's Harry and Paul before being moved to BBC2 due to low ratings – typically shows tend to migrate the other way – and was not entirely warmly welcomed by critics. The win – it beat a Catherine Tate Sky Christmas special and Matt Lucas and David Walliams's Little Britain follow-up, Come Fly With Me – also seems to have come as something of a surprise to the programme's two stars, Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, who were 'otherwise engaged' and unable to make the ceremony. And to the BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow, who has not yet commissioned another series of the, now BAFTA-winning, show. 'It's early days,' a BBC 'insider' allegedly told the Gruniad. 'Should know more in the next couple of weeks hopefully.'

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was rightly proud that Hugh's Fish Fight, his campaigning Channel Four series about sustainable fishing, won the BAFTA 'features' prize. He thought he would use his acceptance speech – and the rare opportunity of a prime time spot on BBC1 – to drum up a little extra support for his campaign. 'I have to ask myself what's more important – the BBC's compliance guidelines and rules or getting some more votes in for our campaign,' he told the audience. The answer would've been obvious to even the most glakish on brain-damaged morons: the BBC's compliance guidelines. His subsequent speech was all but entirely cut in the awards' broadcast which began on BBC1 an hour later.

The Australian actress Cate Blanchett has been criticised for appearing in a television advertisement calling for the introduction of a carbon tax. One leading opposition politician said the Oscar-winning actress did not understand the cost-of-living concerns of ordinary Australians. Senator Barnaby Joyce said that Blanchett should stick to acting, but the government and the Greens have rallied behind her. It has been dubbed 'the Cate debate,' and centres on the actress's support for the government's controversial new carbon tax, which is bitterly opposed by the conservative opposition. Blanchett features briefly in a new television campaign urging Australians to 'Say Yes' to a tax on carbon. Opponents of the carbon tax say it will increase the cost of living for ordinary Australians. Joyce, of the National Party, said the multi-millionaire had 'no idea' what it was like for working families struggling with rising costs. Though the idea that some scummy right-wing politician has either is faintly laughable in and of itself. One right-wing tabloid called her 'a morally vain Hollywood star' trying to justify her great good fortune 'by preaching to the rest of Australia about climate change.' Blanchett has been the driving force behind what has been called the 'greening' of the Sydney Theatre Company, where she is an artistic director. Her mansion in Sydney is fitted with solar panels. The attacks on Blanchett also reveal an instinctive suspicion of people in Australia perceived to be part of a cultural or educational elite - especially by the populist right. The movie star, who has been backed by the government and the Australian Green Party, has not responded publicly to the criticism.

Six journalists who worked for the Scum Mail on Sunday and its sister title the Daily Scum Mail - that's if you can call people who work for those particular organs of the media 'journalists' instead of, you know, the lice of the earth - are set to be shown evidence by Scotland Yard which suggests their voicemail messages were intercepted by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked for the News of the World. Scum rooting around in filth and snooping on scum. Now you know how everybody else feels chaps. Poetic justice, some might call it. The fact that journalists from rival titles, several of whom are still employed by the Scum Mail titles' owner Associated Newspapers, are being warned by the Met they were being targeted by Mulcaire signals that Operation Weeting, the Met's phone hacking investigation which began in January, is about to enter a dramatic phase. It follows news that Dennis Rice, a Fleet Street veteran who works for the Scum Mail on Sunday as a freelance, is suing the News of the Screws's owner News Group for alleged breach of privacy, joining public figures who have already launched civil actions action against the title at the high court. The four remaining Scum Mail on Sunday journalists, along with a Daily Scum Mail reporter, are expected to be contacted by the Met at some point. The Gruniad Morning Star says that it understands several of the men may follow Rice's example by bringing their own legal proceedings against News Group. The latest development could threaten what the Gruniad describes as 'the uneasy Fleet Street alliance between tabloid titles,' which have been slow to report revelations about the true extent of phone hacking because they fear it will damage public perception of their trade. Rival titles are also reluctant to cover the story because the majority have also used private investigators in the past. A 2007 report by the information commissioner titled, What Price Privacy?, found that the Daily Scum Mail commissioned another private investigator, Steve Whittamore, on more occasions than any other newspaper. The same report found that thirty one titles used Whittamore, including the Gruniad's sister title the Observer, which is also published by Guardian Media Group. Rice, who was investigations editor at the Scum Mail on Sunday in 2005 and 2006, when Mulcaire was at his most active, is thought to have been 'shocked' and 'stunned' by the evidence which he was shown by the Met prior to launching his action. It is believed to include recordings Mulcaire made of messages left on Rice's mobile phone, including several from friends and families. News Group has conceded that Mulcaire was acting on the instructions of News of the World journalists in some cases but it is - still - contesting other claims. It is understood that detectives warned the Scum Mail on Sunday's owner Associated Newspapers in 2006 to improve its security systems. The fact that a group of journalists at the Scum Mail titles are apparently intent on discovering whether they were hacked by Mulcaire makes it more likely that the tactics employed by sections of Fleet Street in their search for stories will be exposed. Journalists frequently attempted to land exclusives by using underhand methods, including trying to access news lists held by competitors. But it now appears that some of them may have been habitually hacking into one another's voicemail message in the hope of obtaining stories, leads and contacts. The original police inquiry, which led to Mulcaire being jailed in 2007, also discovered evidence that he has successfully intercepted voicemail messages belonging to Rebekah Brooks, who was editor of the Sun when Mulcaire was working exclusively for its Sunday stablemate. The current investigation is believed to have found evidence that another former Sun editor, the loathsome Kelvin Mackenzie, also had his phone hacked. A spokesman for the Scum Mail on Sunday said: 'A number of Associated Newspapers journalists have been advised that their voicemails may have been hacked some years ago. One has so far been seen by the police. None of the others are planning legal action.'

FIFA has provisionally suspended executive committee members Mohamed Bin Hammam and the odious Jack Warner after a meeting of its ethics committee on Sunday. Football's governing body will now open a full investigation into allegations that financial incentives were offered to members of the Caribbean Football Union. CFU officials Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester have also been suspended. But FIFA president and slimy turd Sepp Blatter was found to have no case to answer. Which is, of course, a surprise because one would have thought he'd at least have the case of being a slimy turd to answer. Petrus Damaseb, deputy chairman of the ethics committee, said of Bin Hammam and Warner: 'We are satisfied that there is a case to be answered.' However, FIFA insists that they are both innocent until proven guilty. If found guilty, they could be expelled from the organisation and banned from all football activity. Bin Hammam was the only candidate due to oppose Blatter in the forthcoming election for the FIFA presidency - which will go ahead as planned on Wednesday - but he withdrew in the early hours of Sunday morning. The Qatari and his colleague, vice-president Warner, were forced to answer charges of bribery over allegations from executive committee member Chuck Blazer in Zurich on Sunday. It was alleged that they offered bribes at a meeting of the CFU on 10 and 11 May. A file of evidence claimed bundles of cash of up to forty thousand dollars were handed over to members of the CFU at the meeting in Trinidad. The payments were allegedly made to secure votes for Bin Hammam in his campaign to challenge Blatter for the presidency. In turn, Bin Hammam effectively claimed that Blatter was aware of some wrongdoing but did not report it, in itself a breach of FIFA's ethics code. Meanwhile, executive committee members Ricardo Teixeira and Worawi Makudi have been formally cleared by the Football Association of any wrongdoing following allegations of bribery made by former FA chairman Lord Triesman in relation to England's failed 2018 World Cup bid. Warner has made public an e-mail which claims that Mohamed Bin Hammam 'bought' the 2022 World Cup finals for Qatar. FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke admitted he sent the e-mail, which also questioned why Asian football boss Bin Hammam was running for FIFA president. Valcke wrote: '[Hammam] thought you can buy FIFA as they bought the World Cup.' However, Bin Hammam responded by telling BBC Sport on Monday: 'I don't know why he [Valcke] has said that.' Possibly because he believed it to be true? Just, you know, a wild stab in the dark there. The Qatari added: 'If I was paying money for Qatar you also have to ask the thirteen people who voted for Qatar.' To which the obvious reply is 'oh, I'm sure they will now.' Asked whether Valcke's allegation was true he said: 'What do you think?' Valcke stressed that his e-mail to Warner was intended to remain 'private' and pointed out that Warner had only published selected parts of it. 'He [Warner] sent me an e-mail asking if I want that [Bin Hammam to run for FIFA president], he said that I should ask Bin Hammam to pull out,' Valcke added. Valcke also denied that he had influenced FIFA's ethics committee, which suspended Warner and Bin Hammam on Sunday over separate allegations of bribery, pending further investigation. He stated: 'The first time I met the chairman of the ethics committee was yesterday at 1700 before we went to the press conference. I had no contact at all with anyone.' Bin Hammam was suspended a matter of hours after withdrawing from the FIFA presidential race on Sunday morning. His decision leaves seventy five-year-old incumbent Blatter, who is seeking a fourth term in charge of the organisation he has run unopposed since 1998, as the only man running for the office. FIFA has said its election will go ahead, as scheduled, on Wednesday. The thoroughly odious Warner, who is president of the North, Central American and Caribbean confederation, has reacted angrily to the allegations of bribery and the FIFA ethics committee's decision to suspend him. The Trinidad and Tobago government minister raged: 'I look on the suspension as the worst form of justice by any sporting organisation. They came premeditated, they weren't prepared to listen, they were hand-picked to do a task and they did just that. The guys were hand-picked by Blatter. A kangaroo court would be a decent thing to say.' Warner, who also turned on Valcke, stated: 'I wrote to Valcke telling him, among other things, that the outcome of the elections may cause some fracture in the Arab world which we can ill afford now and that I will like to ask Bin Hammam to withdraw from the race. To which Jerome replied to me and I quote: "For [Bin Hammam] I never understood why he was running. If really he thought he had a chance or just being an extreme way to express how much he does not like anymore [Blatter]. Or he thought you can buy FIFA as they [Qatar] bought the [World Cup]."' Warner showed the e-mail to television crews and added: 'You don't have to believe me, you don't have to like me, nobody has to eat with me, drink with me or sleep with me but Jesus Christ, take the truth when you see it.' Warner has also accused Blatter of making a gift of computers and an unauthorised one million dollars to Concacaf officials. 'I indicated that at the Miami Concacaf Congress on 3 May Mr Blatter made a gift of one million dollars to Concacaf to spend as it deems fit,' Warner said in a statement. 'This annoyed [UEFA] president Michel Platini who was present and he approached secretary general Jerome Valcke complaining that Mr Blatter had no permission from the finance committee to make this gift to which Jerome replied that he will find the money for Mr Blatter. I also indicated FIFA, through Mr Blatter, organised gifts of laptops and projectors to all members of the Caribbean and no objections have been made today of this to date.' However, Platini said on Monday that he was 'having a joke' with Swiss Blatter. The Frenchman said: '[Blatter] can give [to] the projects that he wants to give. I joke, I said "but Sepp, this was not accepted by the committee" - but he can give many projects to many national associations and we will confirm in the GOAL project after. In many Congresses for many, many years the president can give one or two projects to national associations - he has his own budget and he can give to one confederation and then it has to be approved of course by the executive committee next time.' Blatter has denied any wrong-doing as have Warner and Hammam, who are accused of offering financial incentives to members of the Caribbean Football Union. In a file of evidence it was claimed bundles of cash were handed over to members of the CFU. The payments were allegedly made to secure votes for Bin Hammam in his campaign to challenge Blatter for the presidency. Last week, Qatar 2022 World Cup officials denied allegations, published in the Sunday Times, that they paid bribes in return for votes. Meanwhile, independent Australian senator Nick Xenophon has demanded that FIFA refunds the Aus$45.6m they spent on their unsuccessful bid to host the 2022 World Cup. Xenophon said: 'It appears corrupt and highly questionable behaviour goes to the core of FIFA. Australia spent almost forty six million dollars on a bid we were never in the running for. Now we hear that bribes may have been made to fix the result for who will head up FIFA.' According to Reuters, China's Zhang Jilong will take charge of the Asian Football Confederation in the absence of Hammam. In a press conference on Monday, Blatter said that the organisation is 'not in crisis,' merely 'in some difficulties.' Which is a bit like says Barcelona are merely a decent footballing side.

Chris Tremlett, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad bowled England to a remarkable innings victory after Sri Lanka were bowled out for eighty two in the first Test in Cardiff. A draw seemed likely after the rain - which had threatened to ruin the match with regular stoppages - had, for the fourth day in a row delayed the start of day five until three o'clock. But England declared after two overs on 496-5, a first-innings lead of 96, as soon as Ian Bell reached his thirteenth test century. Tremlett (four for forty) grabbed two early wickets, before he and Swann (a remarkable four for sixteen) combined to tear through the tourists, with Stuart Broad finishing them off with the final two wickets. With the last eight wickets falling in just over an hour after the tea interval, it left England victorious by an innings and fourteen runs. It was an amazing end to a day's play that had begun with few supporters in the stands after a miserable few hours of persistent drizzle and even fewer expectations that the game would end in anything but a draw. For the fourth day out of five, no play was possible during the morning as rain ensured the covers remained in place until four hours after the scheduled start time, a delay that appeared to have killed the game as a contest. When the players did take to the pitch it was initially for only twelve balls - long enough for Bell to add five runs to his overnight score of ninety eight and reach his century - before England's declaration brought them off again. Because of the time eaten up by the weather, and with England's four-man bowling attack a man light following Jimmy Anderson's side strain, the remaining fifty overs were expected to encapsulate a period of tame cricket during which England would give their fit bowlers practice time in the middle. However, this does an injustice to the competitive nature and belief of an England side, who immediately seized the initiative in Sri Lanka's second innings and then steadily turned the screw on their increasingly demoralised and disorganised opponents. The home side got off to a superb start thanks chiefly to towering seam bowler Tremlett, who claimed two quick wickets to stir England's interest. In the second over he drew Tharanga Paranavitana into a wayward shot outside off and had him caught low at first slip by Strauss for a duck. In his next over, captain Tillakaratne Dilshan made a mess of a rising delivery and lobbed a catch back to the big bowler, with a review showing the ball had clipped his glove on its way through, leaving Sri Lanka ten for two. After tea, home hope rapidly grew to genuine expectation as Tremlett and Swann tore into the tourists. Tremlett claimed his third scalp from a superb, short of a length delivery that cut away from Mahela Jayawardene and caught the outside edge of the bat before nestling into the welcoming hands of Strauss at slip. Then Swann got in on the act when Thilan Samaraweera played back and chopped onto his stumps to depart for another duck. Panic had now set in for the tourists, whose middle order capitulated under the England onslaught. In one Swann over, key man Kumar Sangakkara edged to Strauss at slip to depart for fourteen and three balls later Farveez Maharoof needed a review to prove that he had indeed nicked one to keeper Matt Prior, to leave Sri Lanka forty three for six. It was forty three for seven after the first ball of Tremlett's next over as England utilised the review system perfectly to overturn Billy Doctrove's initial summary that Prasanne Jayawardene had not gloved an attempted hook to Prior, to see the batsman off for just three. Swann then dealt with Rangana Herath, who swiped across the line and was trapped lbw. At that stage Swann had figures of four for four in four overs. There followed the briefest period of minor resistance from Sri Lanka as Thisara Perera and Ajantha Mendis clung on, adding thirty between them. But the introduction of Broad quickly resulted in the former prodding to short-leg, where Bell was on hand to snatch a superb catch low down, before last man Suranga Lakmal looped an easy catch to Alastair Cook from a short ball to seal a truly stunning victory for England.
For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day proof that a bush in the hand is worth several birds. Or something. Starting with yer actual Keith Telly Topping's own, particular, favourite Katie single.
Except, possibly, this one.
I suppose I better include The Hit as well!
And, finish off with one that was so good she couldn't resist doing it all over again later.

No comments: