Monday, May 23, 2011

The Sun Comes Up Another Day Begins

The BBC were the big winners at the 2011 BAFTA Awards on Sunday evening in London. Which was fitting as it was being televised on BBC1. As it was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday, it seemed only appropriate that BBC1's acclaimed modern retelling of the Sherlock Holmes story, Sherlock took two prizes at the ceremony, including best drama series which was accepted by co-creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. Martin Freeman, who plays John Watson, was named best supporting actor. Benedict Cumberbatch and Doctor Who's Matt Smith lost out to Eric and Ernie's Daniel Rigby in the best actor category. Host Graham Norton also became an award winner, taking best entertainment performance for his chat show. But he failed to pick up best entertainment programme, which was won by the ITV game show The Cube ahead of The X Factor and Have I Got News For You. E4 drama Misfits, which led the field with four nominations, claimed an early win with best supporting actress for Lauren Socha. Vicky McClure was named best actress for her role in the Shane Meadows Channel Four drama This Is England '86, ahead of former winner Anna Maxwell-Martin. Socha beat EastEnders' Jessie Wallace, nominated for her performance in The Road To Coronation Street and Lynda Barron, who also appeared in the BBC Four drama detailing the early days of the Weatherfield soap. However, The Road To Coronation Street did win best single drama. EastEnders had a good night, being named best continuing drama ahead of Coronation Street. Jo Brand won best female comic performance for her role in hospital sitcom Getting On, beating the bookies favourite Miranda Hart. Brand said: 'I'm flabbergasted, completely, because over the years I have been so slagged off for my acting ability. I'm getting an enormous amount of schadenfreude for all the critics that hate me.' Steve Coogan won the male equivalent for his role in The Trip, in which he played an exaggerated version of himself. The comic joked: 'This was one of the hardest roles I've ever had to prepare for. I spent the best part of forty years researching it - still not found out who he is.' The acclaimed BBC2 sitcom Rev and Harry and Paul were among the other comedy winners. Veteran newscaster Sir Trevor McDonald was presented with the Academy Fellowship for his 'outstanding and exceptional contribution' to the medium. TV producer and Comic Relief co-founder Peter Bennett-Jones was another winner, chosen to receive the Special Award. Bennett-Jones was responsible for hit shows including Mr Bean and The Vicar of Dibley. The BAFTA Committee said: 'Without Peter, British television would have been much less fun." In all the BBC won sixteen of the twenty four awards. ITV picked up a mere three - for The Cube, their news coverage of the Cumbrian murders and the You Tube audience award, chosen by the public, which was won by the ITV2 reality show The Only Way Is Essex. The invasion of the stage by the squealing cast of which seemed as out of place in such surroundings as it was possible to be. Other winners included Sky3D's Flying Monsters in the specialist factual category, BBC4's Zimbabwe's Forgotten Children, BBC1's Between Life and Death, BBC2's Welcome To Lagos and Channel Four's Any Human Heart which was named best drama serial. BBC1's Formula 1: The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix won the sports coverage award whilst BBC4's Danish import The Killing was named best international series.
On the subject of the BAFTAs, there's a lovely piece by Mark Gatiss in this week's Observer: 'I've always loved television – and not just because I find it increasingly hard to get up from the sofa. As a kid, I found TV both a great friend and a great teacher. From watching the credits on my favourite shows I learned about the mechanics of production. (Don't squeeze those credits – you're throttling the future!) From the shows themselves, I learned the power of great drama and comedy; and from watching the BAFTAs, I learned the importance of brushing dandruff off your shoulders. It's hard not to sound like an old curmudgeon when discussing the changing face of broadcasting, but what this year's TV BAFTA list proves (if proof were needed) is that what viewers always want and respond to are great stories well told. Online content, red button, apps – they can all be enjoyable additions to a programme, but the chief concentration must always be on the shows themselves. Happily, 2010 was a terrific and exciting year in TV broadcasting. From the thrillingly bold Misfits to the thrillingly crude Mrs Brown's Boys; from the queer, lo-fi delights of Grandma's House to Matt Smith's wonderfully assured debut in Doctor Who; from Jean Marsh's lump-in-the-throat return to 165 Eaton Place to the shouldn't-work-but-it-does genius of Pineapple Dance Studios. And then, of course, there were the Americans. As a friend of mine opined when Mad Men was first trailed: "Oh god, not another sodding brilliant American show." Life is short, box-sets are long.'

Martin Freeman has revealed that his Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch has landed a role in The Hobbit. The actor made the - apparently accidental - revelation at the BAFTAs after the pair picked up the 'Best Drama' award for the BBC1 detective series. Speaking in the winners' press room, Freeman let slip to reporters that Cumberbatch would be working with him again very soon in Peter Jackson's Tolkien adaptation which is currently being filmed in New Zealand. Cumberbatch added afterwards that his casting was 'supposed to have been kept secret' and refused to disclose details about his character. Freeman later went on to comment: 'I knew I was a big mouth, I didn't know how much of a big mouth, and I've ruined everything. And now I might not have a job to go back to!' Cumberbatch joins a cast which now includes Stephen Fry, Aidan Turner, Hugo Weaving and Sir Ian McKellen.

The attorney general is being asked to consider prosecuting a 'well known' journalist who - allegedly - broke a privacy order on the microblogging site Twitter. The journalist, again allegedly, named a footballer, who is accused of having an affair, known in court papers as TSE. The law firm seeking the prosecution, Schillings, has already secured a court order over revelations on Twitter about a different footballer, known as CTB. The unnamed journalist is reported to work for a leading UK newspaper. The Scum Mail on Sunday says that he also appears on a 'widely-viewed BBC programme.' TSE, and his companion - known as ELP - received an emergency injunction earlier this month stopping News Corporation newspapers from reporting their alleged affair. The alleged breach of an alleged privacy order by the alleged journalist on Twitter comes amid heightened scrutiny of gagging orders such as injunctions and so-called superinjunctions - court orders which prevent the media from revealing even the fact that an injunction has been granted. Allegedly. Schillings is also representing CTB, who is taking action against ex-Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas and the Sun newspaper. It was stated in the ruling that Thomas had 'at some stage engaged the services of Mr Max Clifford,' the well-known UK publicist, and that the purpose of meetings Thomas had arranged with the footballer had been that the Sun was ready to take advantage of these prearranged meetings in order to be able to put forward the claim that it was the Sun which had found him "romping with a busty Big Brother babe."' Thomas has reportedly threatened to sue the footballer should he publicly repeat his courtroom accusations that she had attempted to blackmail him. The News of the World claims that the former Miss Wales told a friend: 'The judges are happy for me to be branded a blackmailer without a shred of evidence yet want to stop politicians using the same process to reveal the truth. I am being taunted about trying to blackmail this man, but because of the injunction, I can't even defend myself.' Meanwhile, as the headquarters of Twitter are in San Francisco, legal experts pointed out the difficulties in suing in a United States court, where First Amendment protection applies to freedom of speech. London-based lawyer James Quartermaine commented: 'Twitter will probably just ignore it and consider it to be offensive to their First Amendment rights. It's probably an attempt to try and show that actions have consequences in cyberspace.' On Saturday, lawyers at Schillings publicly denied that they were 'suing Twitter,' saying that they had made an application 'to obtain limited information concerning the unlawful use of Twitter by a small number of individuals who may have breached a court order.' The story took a new twist the next day when the Sunday Herald, a Scottish newspaper, published a thinly disguised photograph of the player in question on its front page with the word 'censored' covering his eyes. In its editorial explaining the move, the Sunday Herald said that it had named the sportsman being linked to the injunction on Twitter because it was 'unsustainable' for newspapers to be prevented from sharing information which is easily available on the Internet. It said: 'We should point out immediately that we are not accusing the footballer concerned of any misdeed. Whether the allegations against him are true or not has no relevance to this debate. The issue is one of freedom of information and of a growing argument in favour of more restrictive privacy laws.' Richard Walker, editor of the Sunday Herald, said: 'It seems to us a ludicrous situation where we are supposed to keep from our readers the identity of someone whom anybody can find out on the Internet at the click of a mouse, and in fact many people have already done so.' He added that he had taken extensive legal advice and was not expecting any legal consequences because the injunction was not valid in Scotland - only in England. His paper, he said, was not published, distributed or sold in England. The newspaper's website is not carrying the name of the footballer or the picture used on the front page of its printed newspaper. Although plenty of other websites are. Paul McBride, the paper's legal adviser, said: 'Every child in the country with a mobile phone can now access Twitter or the Internet and find out who this individual is, and the idea that the media cannot report it is frankly absurd.' Asked whether the front page would increase newspaper sales, he said the decision to publish was 'not taken on commercial grounds but on grounds of principle. We have the right of freedom of expression and the right to debate these issues. I think the publication in today's paper will bring the matter to a head.' The paper added in its editorial column, 'Today we identify the footballer whose name has been linked to a court superinjunction by thousands of postings on Twitter. Why? Because we believe it is unsustainable that the law can be used to prevent newspapers from publishing information that readers can access on the Internet at the click of a mouse.' Media lawyer Mark Stephens said that the floodgates had been opened by the naming of the footballer in Spain, Mauritius, America (specifically on the Forbes blog-site) and, now, Scotland. 'It's an exercise in futility to try and continue with this injunction,' he said. If judges did not want to make the law 'look an ass' then the injunction had to be recalled and the player publicly named, he added. Meanwhile, there has been widespread speculation on social media websites in recent days naming a variety of high-profile individuals who have allegedly used the English courts to protect their identities. A blogger for Forbes magazine this week remarked that the 'soccer player' has 'clearly not heard of the Streisand effect,' observing that mentions of his name had significantly increased after the case against Twitter had been reported in the news.' The Streisand effect is a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicising the information more widely. It is named after the American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose attempt in 2003 to suppress photographs of her residence inadvertently generated further publicity. It was widely reported on Frdiay that, in the two hours after news of the case against Twitter being announced, mention of a particular Premier League footballer on Twitter increasing two thousand fold. Yesterday fans at the Premier League's season finalé ridiculed the player whom they believe to be CTB by adapting a popular terrace chant to include a lewd comment on his sex life - with his wife among the crowd. Several choruses of 'Imogen There's No Heaven' were also reported. A 'club source' allegedly told the Sun: 'The whole world knows who he is. Every time he tries to stop his name coming out, it makes it worse. It can't have been easy for his wife to hear that stuff.' On Friday, the findings of a year-long inquiry by a committee of judges and lawyers into the use of injunctions and superinjunctions were revealed. The committee's report said superinjunctions were now being granted for 'short periods' and only where 'secrecy is necessary.' Committee chairman Lord Neuberger, who is the most senior civil judge in England and Wales, said the Internet 'does add to difficulties of enforcement at the moment.' He said the Internet had 'by no means the same degree of intrusion into privacy as the story being emblazoned on the front pages of newspapers,' which 'people trust more.' However, he warned that modern technology was 'totally out of control' and society should consider other ways to bring Twitter and other websites under control. Which, in this blogger's opinion, is a quite disgraceful attitude. If the law is an ass, which it certainly appears to be in these cases, then who wants those who administer such stupidity to be 'in control' of anything, much less people's freedom of expression? At the same time the lord chief justice, Lord Judge - which is, obviously, a fantastic name for a ... well, judge - also suggested that he considered modern technology to be 'out of control' - which, sadly, makes him sound like my dad, frankly ('I don't have no truck with any of this new-fangled malarkey'). He also called for those who 'peddle lies' on the Internet to be fined. Hard to argue against that, but what about those who peddle not lies but the truth on the Internet, Judge Fudge? Is it your contention that the footballer pictured on the front page of yesterday's Sunday Herald is not the person reported to be CTB on Twitter? Because, if he is then these comments are not 'lies' or anything even remotely like them, they are merely statements of fact. And then these be-wigged clowns wonder why it's called contempt of court. Meanwhile, the Attorney General's Office was attempting to establish whether or not a request had been made by the High Court judge Mr Justice Tugendhat for the AGO to consider whether to issue criminal contempt proceedings against the journalist who broke the terms of an earlier injunction on Twitter by naming the - other - footballer and making several other derogatory comments about him. That led to a flurry of retweets naming both footballers – which by last night had risen to over thirty thousand, in open defiance of any and all attempts to shut them up. These included several high-profile users. One said: 'Do Schillings plan to jail all thirty thousand plus Twitterers who have breached the superinjunction?' Sources close to the Attorney General suggested to the Independent that he would be highly unlikely to authorise criminal proceedings against anyone who had breached either injunction on Twitter. They said that Grieve – who is, after all, a politician – would be unlikely to want to become embroiled in an increasingly farcical situation and suggested that if the footballers' lawyers wanted redress against specific tweeters then they should do it through the civil courts. 'Frankly this is not something we want anything to do with,' they said. 'At the moment we have not seen any request to consider criminal contempt proceedings but I imagine if we do they will get pretty short shrift.' There's a very useful summation of the current state of the case at Wikipedia which is being updated regularly.

Cheryl Cole has reportedly been 'ordered to dump Derek Hough' by TV executives at FOX. Bosses have apparently told the singer that ending her relationship with the dancer is the first step she needs to take in order to 'become a star in the States.' A 'source' allegedly told the Sunday Mirra: 'TV executives are thinking that if she's going to win over Hollywood, she'd be better off doing it as a sassy and single girl-about-town. Derek may be dreaming of worldwide stardom but he's seen as a small-time dancer on a TV show and pretty uncool.' Simon Cowell is apparently recommending high-profile eligible bachelors for Cole to date. She will also transform her image with the help of a style consultant and 'fitness guru to the stars' Tracy Anderson. 'Everyone knows being on TV puts a few pounds on you, so Cheryl is keen to get back to her normal trim figure so she looks in perfect shape for US viewers,' the 'source' supposedly added. 'Cheryl is desperate to make it in the US and producers are keen to help her become a star.' A 'close friend' allegedly told the newspaper that Cole is 'torn' over the demands that she split with Hough. Nobody else gives a shit.

Rav Wilding has denied accusations that he was verbally abusive to ex-lover Chantelle Houghton as a result of steroid use. The Crimewatch presenter split with the Celebrity Big Brother winner in April after a 'disturbing' public row. Unnamed sources have since claimed that Wilding, a former soldier and police officer, would often 'flare up and go berserk' at Houghton after taking physique-boosting drugs. An 'insider' allegedly told the Scum Mail On Sunday: 'Chantelle and Rav were having problems and just before he went to Norway she told him, "You need anger management, you need to stop taking steroids." He used to flare-up and go berserk and Chantelle realised they couldn't ignore a blazing row that they had before he went away, but they did have a lot of arguments. She has got her wedding dress [from her marriage to Samuel Preston] in storage and he said "Why have you got that? I want it out," he was continually like that and getting really angry calling her a slag and a slut.' However, Wilding has adamantly denied the 'completely untrue and damaging' statements on Twitter and threatened to take legal action if necessary. He wrote: 'Here we go again. More complete lies printed in a Sunday [sic] paper. Have never taken any form of 'steroid' other than what has been medically and legally prescribed for asthma like thousands of others do. Suggestions otherwise are completely untrue and damaging and I'm receiving legal advice. Some of the accusations in the press don't even merit a response, and yet again I hope people don't believe everything they read. This is all part of an almighty stitch-up to try and discredit me after I had to end the relationship.' He later added: 'Thanks again to everyone who has sent me supportive messages. It's hard to see such rubbish printed about you, so the kind words mean a lot.' Wilding was recently believed to be seeking a reunion with Houghton, but the model was allegedly spotted kissing Alex Reid at an awards ceremony earlier this month.

One of Australia's favourite actors, Bill Hunter, has died of cancer, aged seventy one, in Melbourne. He was known for his roles in classic Australian films like Muriel's Wedding, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Strictly Ballroom. His career spanned more than fifty years, and he has been called 'Australia's favourite ocker.' International audiences might not necessarily know the name, but many would instantly recognise the gnarled face of Bill Hunter, one of Australia's most loved character actors. He seemed to have a part in virtually every major Australian movie of the past five decades - and was such a familiar presence that films without him seemed somehow incomplete. He played the father of the bride in Muriel's Wedding, an Outback mechanic in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the dancing judge in Strictly Ballroom and even the voice of the dentist in the animated film, Finding Nemo. Perhaps his most memorable role was as an Australian commanding officer in the World War I movie, Gallipoli, when he agonised over the decision to order young Australian soldiers out of their trenches and to their near-certain death. Often he played gruff, down-to-earth Aussie blokes - towards the end of his career, he became almost typecast in that kind of role. But it won him the love and affection of audiences. He appeared in more than sixty movies having first taken up acting when a bout of meningitis forced him out of Australia's Olympic swimming team in 1956. Hunter made his film debut as an extra in 1957 The Shiralee. An introduction to Ava Gardner saw him gain a job as an extra and swimming double in the Hollywood movie On the Beach which was filming in Melbourne. Hunter claimed that he was inspired to take up acting after watching Gregory Peck do twenty seven takes of a scene, and thinking he could do better. He took an intensive drama course in Melbourne, and then won a two-year scholarship to Northampton Repertory Company in England. In 1966, he made his television debut in an uncredited role in two episodes of the Doctor Who serial The Ark. Bill was twice married.

A German man had to be rescued recently after accidentally getting himself trapped in a women's prison. According to Reuters, the man had wandered into the building after mistaking it for a shortcut to a nearby park. Henning Blum, the mayor of Hildesheim, reportedly heard the individual shouting for help after noticing his mistake. The twenty four-year-old found himself locked in the outside area of the prison without an escape route. After realising what had happened, Blum immediately notified police who eventually freed the terrified man. Officials are said to be investigating what led the prison gates to be left open in the first place.

And, finally, in other news, the world didn't end yesterday. Again.
For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day queue the feedback, it's time for The Mary Chain.

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