Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Alive. And Kicking.

The creator of Torchwood has promised that the SF drama will stick to its Welsh roots despite its move to America. Russell Davies was speaking at the launch of Torchwood: Miracle Day at the BFI in London on Monday. 'I would never do a Torchwood that didn't have any links to Wales,' the writer told the BBC News website. Or, at least, that's what the BBC News website alleges. If their recent treatment of Davies' successor in the Doctor Who production chair, Steven Moffat, are anything to go by they probably just took some random comments off Twitter and claimed he'd spoken to them. Anyway, the new ten-part series imagines a world where suddenly no one dies. Which seems like a good thing for a while, then, the complications start to kick in. The show sees the return of Torchwood stalwarts John Barrowman as Jack Harkness, Eve Myles as Gwen Cooper and Kai Owen as her husband, Rhys. New cast members include American actors Bill Pullman, as a convicted child murderer and Mekhi Phifer as a CIA agent. Much of the action takes place in America, with scenes also set - and filmed - in Wales and other locations around the world. The series will be broadcast in the US from 8 July and, subsequently, on BBC1. Current industry speculation is that the opening episode will be shown on the BBC probably from 14 July although that is, as yet, unconfirmed. For the first time, BBC Wales is making Torchwood in partnership with US entertainment network Starz, along with BBC Worldwide. Starz are the major contributors to the finance, hence the US debut before the UK one. 'In a time when budgets are tight, it's great to have an infusion of cash from America that we can have fun with - and do some big brave stuff with,' said Davies. Executive producer Julie Gardner added: 'We wanted to do a global threat with more than one location and the co-production enables that to be possible. The joy of it wasn't that we sold the format to the Americans and then waved goodbye to it. Of course budgets are shrinking, but it was about working smart. In pooling the money we got a bigger show for a better price.' Barrowman stressed that the American location had not changed the show - which is normally centred on Cardiff. 'Loyal fans will recognise it in the first second,' he said. This is the fourth series of Torchwood, the Doctor Who spin-off which launched on BBC3 in 2006. The character of Captain Jack, an intergalactic omnisexual conman-turned-superhero had first appeared in Doctor Who the previous year where he gained a cult following. Torchwood later moved to BBC2 for its second series and then to BBC1 for the critically acclaimed and commercially hugely successful five-part serial Children of Earth. Davies said his storyline about nobody being able to die had its roots in medieval myths. 'I wanted to take that and apply it to the real world,' he said. 'You realise how much the economy and the healthcare system is build around mortality. When people stop dying, very soon it starts to collapse.' Davies, who is now based in Los Angeles, pointed out that his story never left Wales for very long. 'It starts in Wales, they go on the run across the United States, but they come back to Wales. I don't want people to think we've abandoned the homeland.' The first episode, screened to the press and public at Monday's launch, included a very parochial joke about the Severn Bridge toll, as well as a helicopter action sequence on Rhossili beach on the Gower coast.

'He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy' is one of the most regularly quoted lines in British comedy history. But the religious controversy which engulfed the Monty Python film in which the quote featured, Life of Brian, upon its 1979 release was no laughing matter at the time – and is now to be the subject of a new BBC4 drama. Holy Flying Circus, written by Tony Roche, a co-writer of the political satire The Thick of It, will be broadcast this autumn on BBC4 and aims to use the Life of Brian controversy to explore the subject of free speech. The Monty Python team's irreverent take on first century biblical Judea revolved around the character of Brian Cohen, a reluctant fictional prophet who is mistaken for the Messiah and eventually crucified. Whilst signing 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.' You must've seen Life of Brian by now, surely. And, if you haven't, it's very good. Many - although not all - church leaders in the US and the UK protested, showing the collective humour levels of a Radiohead song in claiming that the film 'mocked' Christ. The movie was banned in several countries including Ireland and Norway as well as by several UK local authorities. Including - infamously - one that didn't even have a cinema in its area in which the film could be shown. Now, that's funny. BBC4's ninety-minute drama leads up the celebrated Life of Brian debate featuring John Cleese and Michael Palin on the BBC2 late-night chat show Friday Night ... Saturday Morning, chaired by lyricist Tim Rice. The film was heavily criticised by fellow guests, the Roman Catholic journalist and satirist Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark, Mervyn Stockwood, in a series of barbed exchanges with the Pythons. Whilst Cleese, calmly and cleverly, mocked the mocking as in the moment when Muggeridge talked about a great architectural celebration of Christ and Cleese replies 'but, it's not a very funny building, Malcolm', Palin - one of the most placid men one could ever meet - became increasingly angry and hostile towards his critics. However, most independent contemporary observers believed that Cleese and Palin had wiped the floor with Muggeridge and Stockwood who did their cause no good at all by appearing haughty, detached and, most importantly of all, utterly humourless. It was later claimed that Muggeridge and Stockwood had arrived late to a screening of the film that afternoon and did not know that Brian and Jesus were different characters, as the opening two scenes make clear. The whole thing became something of a Cause Célèbre at the time and was, brilliantly, lampooned by the Pythons' BBC successors Not the Nine O'Clock News in their General Synod's Life of Python sketch. 'Well, I certainly didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition.' Et cetera. In the BBC4 drama Cleese will be played by Darren Boyd, with Charles Edwards taking the role of Palin. Comedian Steve Punt has been cast as Eric Idle, while Terry Jones will be played by Rufus Jones. Tom Fisher has been cast as the late Graham Chapman, who played Brian, while Phil Nichol takes the part of the only American Python, Terry Gilliam. Terry Jones told the Gruniad: 'How Muggeridge and the bishop had the gall to slate the film when they'd missed the first fifteen minutes is quite extraordinary. It is a very good story.' BBC4 has broadcast a series of biopic dramas based on the lives of many British TV and film icons – including Tony Hancock, Kenneth Williams, Huggie Green, Harry H Corbett and Hattie Jacques – although the subjects tend to be deceased. None of the surviving Pythons are involved with the creation of Holy Flying Circus. However, a BBC spokeswoman stressed that they have all been notified about the project and were given time to register their comments or raise any objections they may have had, which none of them have done. And, given the subject matter - about the rejection of censorship - one doesn't imagine for a second that Cleese, Idle, palin, Jones or Gilliam would've had any objections. 'Holy Flying Circus is not a biopic, but a fantastical reimagining of the Pythons' struggle with censorship in the run-up to the release of Life of Brian,' the spokeswoman added. The drama will incorporate 'surreal cutaways' including puppetry and animation, according to the BBC. Which all sounds very Pythonesque, frankly! The script for the independently made Talkback Thames/Hillbilly Television co-production is 'witty and humorous in tone', the BBC added. Richard Klein, the BBC4 controller, said: 'This is a smart and witty take on both the nature of censorship and the world of Monty Python. Tony Roche's script is both bold and entertaining, a wonderfully warm homage to one of the most original of British comedy teams.' Co-producer Kate Norrish added: 'Holy Flying Circus takes a moment from our recent past to shed light on the present. When Palin and Cleese were called to defend Life of Brian, they were fighting not just for the future of their film but for their artistic credibility. It was a moment when freedom of speech was pitted against religious belief and is a debate that is just as precariously balanced today.'

Top Twenty programmes week ending 12 June 2011:-
1 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 10.38 million
2 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 9.32 million
3 The Apprentice - BBC1 Wed - 8.62 million
4 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 7.93 million
5 Injustice - ITV Mon - 6.64 million
6 Scott & Bailey - ITV Sun - 6.60 million
7 Formula 1: Canadian Grand Prix - BBC1 - 6.27 million
8 Waterloo Road - BBC1 - 6.20 million
9 Casualty - BBC1 - 5.65 million
10 Case Histories - BBC1 - 5.56 million
=11 The Duke At Ninety - BBC1 - 5.46 million
=11 Holby City - BBC1 - 5.46 million
13 The Royal - ITV Sun - 4.84 million
14 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 - 4.81 million
15 National Lottery: Who Dares Wins - BBC1 - 4.75 million
16 Have I Got News For You - BBC1 - 4.57 million
17 In With The Flynns - BBC1 - 4.15 million
18 The ONE Show - BBC1 - 4.02 million
19 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 - 3.84 million
20 ITV News - ITV Sun - 3.82
BBC's coverage of the end of the Canadian Grand Prix brought in 5.28m viewers which, technically, would put it at number thirteen in the above list. But, since it was a continuation of a broadcast started on another channel, this blog is choosing to ignore it! Because we're rock and roll rebels living at the gates of oblivion. Or something. Elsewhere BBC2's biggest figure was the 3.58m for The Apprentice: You're Fired. Embarrassing Fat Bodies, perhaps significantly, saw Channel Four's chunkiest audience, 3.29m.

Meanwhile, still on the subject of ratings, here's good old Daybreakwatch:
13 Jun 836k AI 72
14 Jun 749k AI 69
15 Jun 769k AI 67
16 Jun 762k AI 69
17 Jun 769k AI 69
20 Jun 717k
So, it appears as though the big much-hyped-in-the-media announcement of Christine's impending marriage on Friday didn't bring in the expected flood of well-wishers to the show in the guise of viewers. How tragic.

Channel Four News has announced new on-screen roles for Keme Nzerem and Victoria Macdonald, as part of concerted efforts to expand its coverage of sport and health. Macdonald, currently Channel Four's social affairs correspondent, will take up the newly created role of health and social care correspondent. The former Sunday Torygraph journalist, who has been at Channel Four since 1999, will focus on issues surrounding the delivery of health care and its impact on patients, including treatments, drugs and ethical issues. After ten years on Channel Four News as a reporter, Keme Nzerem will become sports reporter as part of the broadcaster's renewed focus on sports news. His new role will combine match and events highlights coverage with sports journalism and investigative projects. A key area for Nzerem will be disabled sports as Channel Four is the main broadcaster for next year's Paralympic Games. 'The reforms and upheavals in health and social care affect everyone in one way or another,' said Macdonald. 'From the plans for the NHS to the massive changes in the welfare system, to the problems thrown up by the ageing population, it will be my job to report and analyse what is going on and explain how it will impact on all of us.' Nzerem added: 'Our sports coverage should reflect the way our viewers feel about sport, and that means ranging from unparalleled excitement to well informed scepticism. Our coverage will champion the values we bring to every story - dogged determination to get to the truth, with a spot of mischief. It's going to be great to put a Channel Four News stamp on this area of the news agenda.' The changes are part of a revamped presentation lineup at Channel Four, including political correspondent Cathy Newman becoming the third main presenter alongside Jon Snow and Krishnan Guru-Murthy. Channel Four has also hired the BBC's Matt Frei as its new Washington correspondent and appointed Newsnight's Jackie Long to the newly created role of social affairs editor. Discussing the new roles for Nzerem and Macdonald, Channel Four News deputy editor Martin Fewell said: 'Creating these new roles is a signal of our intent to expand our coverage in these areas. We know that the issues in health and social care are top of the list when it comes to viewer concerns - and on more than one occasion this year, sport news has headlined our programme, whether that be through FIFA, Olympic tickets or cricket match fixing. Expect to see even more from us in these areas now we have the best people on the case.'

The inaugural Critics' Choice Television Awards ceremony took place on Monday in Los Angeles. The spin-off to the annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards presented fifteen prizes in drama, comedy, reality TV and talk show categories. Comedy Modern Family led the nominations with six, whilst the period drama Mad Men landed five. The awards were handed out at a lunch hosted by So You Think You Can Dance presenter Cat Deeley. Boardwalk Empire, 30 Rock, Justified and The Good Wife all received four nominations apiece. The best drama prize was between Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, Friday Night Lights, Fringe, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, Justified, The Killing and The Walking Dead. Mad Men, not unexpectedly, won that, one of three awards it picked up. Modern Family, Archer, The Big Bang Theory, Community, Glee, Louie, The Middle, The Office, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock competed for best comedy with Modern Family winning. Deely herself was nominated for best reality show host against Dancing with the Stars' Tom Bergeron, Ty Pennington for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Ryan Seacrest for American Idol and the eventual winner Mike Rowe for Dirty Jobs. Mad Men's Jon Hamm won best drama actor while co-star Christina Hendricks shared best supporting actress with Justified's Margo Martindale. Best actress in a drama went to Juliana Margulies for legal show The Good Wife while the equivalent comedy award went to Tina Fey for 30 Rock. Other comedy prizes went to best actor Jim Parsons, for The Big Bang Theory, best supporting actor Neil Patrick Harris, for How I Met your Mother, and best supporting actress Busy Philipps, for Cougar Town. Hollywood actor Danny DeVito, who won an Emmy for his role in the classic TV series Taxi, was honoured with the Icon Award at the ceremony.

Dermot O'Dreary could reportedly host The Voice if the BBC can lure him away from The X Factor. BBC1 controller Danny Cohen is said to be behind the plan to attract O'Dreary to the broadcaster with 'a wide-ranging deal' which could also include a role on the Olympics presenting team next year, the Sun claims. So, this is all probably lies in that case. 'Danny is a big fan of Dermot's and knows he would be a great catch for the BBC,' a 'source' allegedly told the paper. 'He wants to do some shiny floor stuff as well as factual programmes and we can offer that kind of wide-ranging deal.' Shiny floor stuff? Shiny floor stuff? Does this sound like any BBC 'insider' you've ever heard? No, me neither. The BBC announced last week that it has secured the rights to the international hit singing competition The Voice. Former X Factor judges Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue have, claim the Scum 'already been linked to mentoring roles on the series,' scheduled to broadcast next year. 'We don't just want to hire people from the X Factor,' the alleged 'insider' allegedly added. 'This is one of the hottest tickets in town for a star right now.'

Channel Five has been censured by Ofcom over a television promotion for its online bingo game which promised cash prizes that weren't actually available. Which is, of course, very naughty. In a thirty-second advert for Channel Five's free-to-play bingo game, the voiceover said: 'If you haven't already signed up for today's free bingo at five.tv what are waiting for? Sign up now at five.tv/freebingo. There are real cash prizes and it's absolutely free to play.' However, a viewer complained that the advert was misleading after she visited the Channel Five website to find that the prizes were only being offered in High Street vouchers rather than cash. Ofcom's rules permit broadcasters to run cross-promotions on TV for 'broadcasting-related services,' but these adverts 'must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.' Channel Five tried to argue that cash prizes had been offered on its bingo service until 13 December last year, but after that they were replaced with vouchers to High Street retailers. The broadcaster amended its website to make this clear, including an online explanatory video, but due to 'human error' the reference to cash prizes was not removed from the TV cross-promotion. The human who 'erred', they added, had now been dealt with. And the result can be seen on one of owner Richard Desmond's adult channels soon. No, actually, they didn't. But, it would've been a right good laugh if they had. Channel Five apologised for the error and stressed that it had removed the reference from future promotional broadcasts. Ofcom 'noted' the apology from Channel Five and the steps taken to correct the cross-promotion, but still found clear breaches of the Broadcast Advertising Standards Code. 'Having watched the cross-promotion, viewers would have expected to be able to win a cash prize on the Channel Five online bingo service, when in fact only high street vouchers were available,' said the watchdog. 'We therefore concluded that the item had been misleading in its unamended form. The material was therefore in breach of the BCAP Code's provisions on misleadingness.' Is 'misleadingness' really a word? Earlier in the month, ITV was censured by Ofcom for featuring overly promotional reviews of new video games in children's programme Cool Stuff Collective.

The BBC is to trace the journey of the Islamic prophet Muhammad for a new series which is claimed to be a first for British television. Al Jazeera reporter Rageh Omaar will present the three-part programme for BBC2, following in the prophet's footsteps from Mecca and along the journeys he took during his life. To ensure the programmes are in-line with Islamic tradition, they will not depict the face of Muhammad or feature any dramatic reconstructions of his life. The Life Of Muhammad is to be screened next month and will follow events such as his migration to Medina and the founding of the first Islamic constitution, through to his death. It will also examine his legacy and the impact of the faith he established. The trio of hour-long films have been made by Faris Kermani, the director and producer of Channel Four series Seven Wonders Of The Muslim World. The BBC's commissioning editor for religion and ethics, Aaqil Ahmed, said: 'For some people in the UK, Muhammad is just a name, and I hope this series will go some way to explaining who he was, how he lived, what his prophetic message was, and how all of this compares to his legacy today. This is a very timely landmark series filmed in Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, Syria, Turkey, the USA, the UK and Jordan. It features comment from some of the world's leading academics and commentators on Islam - a subject that many people may know little about.' The BBC said the programmes would raise questions about Islam's role in the world today and explore 'where Islam's attitudes towards money, charity, women, social equality, religious tolerance, war and conflict originate.' Omaar is a former world affairs correspondent for BBC news who joined Al Jazeera's English service in 2006. He said: 'The details of Muhammad's life really are little known, and I hope that my series will - for many - shine a light on the very beginning of Islam, taking viewers to the heart of this faith, illustrating just how Muhammad's life and legacy is as important today as it was over a thousand years ago.'

Nick Hewer has given his opinions on the remaining Apprentice candidates, and claimed that hopeful Natasha Scribbins has a 'childlike quality.' Lord Sugar's advisor told Radio Times that he feels Scribbins is a tough contender, but is unsure how far she will go in the series. 'The Birmingham scrapper - she doesn't pull her punches and talks a lot, but we are yet to see whether there is any substance behind it,' he said. 'She has the childlike quality of assuming the personality that the role she gets in each task demands - as the director she ran around shouting "action" a lot and she revelled in her role as editor in the magazine challenge, but I don't really know who she is yet. She says "yeah" after each sentence, which is very annoying, and could she please stop tensing her thighs? She always stands with her legs apart like she is about to pounce, which I find extremely disconcerting. If she worked her brain as hard as her thigh muscles she might get somewhere.'

Kate Winslet has admitted to singing the Neighbours theme tune during Mildred Pierce sex scenes with her co-star Guy Pearce. Winslet confessed that she used to 'fake illness' when she was a schoolgirl to watch Pearce in the Australian soap and revealed her crush on the Hollywood actor during the first day of rehearsals for the HBO mini-series. 'When I was a teenager I had two heart-throbs in my whole teenage years; one was Patrick Swayze and the other was Guy Pearce,' she told the Radio Times. 'And I was so in love with Mike from Neighbours that I'd actually fake illness to stay off school and watch the 1.25pm edition then the repeat at 5.30pm. So when I finally met Guy in the rehearsal room, I said, "Okay, I'm just going to get this out of the way now, and you're just going to have to bear with me. I was so in love with you as a teenager [laughs] and I was completely convinced that Mike was actually going to come and take me away on a white horse," and of course he was laughing his head off.' Speaking about the sex scenes in Pierce, Winslet said that she used to embarrass Pearce with her frequent references to his soap past. 'Whenever we had a kissing scene or an intimate scene, before they said "Cut!" I'd turn to the camera and go [singing]: "Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours." I'd break into the theme tune and, bless Guy, he was very good about it and he just sort of giggled,' she said. 'But I was pathetic, unashamedly pathetic, about the whole thing.'

The Metropolitan police have more than one hundred recordings that were made by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked for the News of the World, it emerged in the high court this week. Lawyers acting for several of the public figures who are suing the paper's owner, News Group Newspapers, claim that a substantial number of the tapes and MiniDiscs seized by Scotland Yard five years ago are likely to contain voicemail messages the private investigator intercepted illegally. They were in court to seek an order which would force the Met to hand over all the material it seized in a 2006 raid on Mulcaire's home as part of an investigation which lead to his arrest and imprisonment. That material also includes eleven thousand pages of detailed notes which are likely to list the people Mulcaire targeted. Hugh Tomlinson QC, one of the barristers representing the phone-hacking victims, said the claimants needed to see that information to establish when Mulcaire started to intercept their messages and the modus operandi he used to do so. Tomlinson said that the News of the World had not disclosed documents which cast light on the paper's use of Mulcaire. 'The people we say are the wrongdoers have little or no documents of a contemporaneous or relevant nature for whatever reason,' he added. The Met is resisting that request because Mulcaire's records contain personal information belonging to scores of well-known people who have no connection with the current cases. Redacting their names could take many months, according to the police. The claimants want to see the information 'unredacted', although it would only be seen by the parties in the case and would not be made publicly available. Football agent Sky Andrew, Labour MP Chris Bryant and former Sky Sports commentator Andy Gray are among those suing Mulcaire and the News of the World for breach of privacy. The court heard the Met has divided the material seized from Mulcaire into one hundred and forty eight categories. Tomlinson said it was necessary to see it in order to see 'when [Mulcaire's activity] began, how it operated and when it ended.' He said that the content of the messages was not important but the dates on which they were made could help claimants demonstrate how widespread the investigator's activities were. That could effect the amount of damages given. The court also heard that News Group had conceded an attempt to access Andrew's voicemail had been made thirty three times between February 2005 and August 2006 but that nineteen of those attempts were unsuccessful and a further four were 'likely to have been failed attempts.' No stories were published as a result. Mr Justice Vos said the court was not conducting a public inquiry and pointed out claimants already had the pages from Mulcaire's notebooks which related directly to them. He is likely to decide whether to grant the order later in the week.

Football pundit Andy Gray has accepted twenty thousand smackers in damages from the News of the World over phone hacking. The former Everton and Aston Villa striker reached an agreement with News Group Newspapers for compensation plus undisclosed costs for voicemail interceptions. Lawyers for Gray, who now presents on Talksport after he was sacked from Sky last year, said he had fought 'tooth and nail' to establish he was hacked. Actress Sienna Miller has already received a reported one hundred thousand pounds in damages. John Kelly, a partner at Schillings law firm which represented Gray, said: 'When Andy first contacted the News of the World about this matter it denied any liability. Andy was forced to issue legal proceedings and had to fight tooth and nail to establish that he had been the victim of unlawful phone hacking. The News of the World finally threw in the towel in April when it admitted liability for the unlawful interception of Andy's voicemail. The News of the World has since that time apologised to Andy and other victims, has agreed that it won't target Andy in this way again and has now agreed to pay Andy substantial damages and his legal costs.'

The Daily Scum Mail really is scraping the bottom of the BBC-bashing barrel. Questions have been asked after Radio 4's You & Yours broadcast a 'six-minute advert' for Krispy Kreme doughnuts, which included a penetrating interview with managing director Rob Hunt. 'We have just launched our summer doughnut range, which includes my personal favourite – our new cheesecake doughnut, which is just gorgeous.' The Scum Mail neglected to say exactly how many listeners complained, though 'two thirds' of them 'accused the show of featuring an unchallenged promotion of the firm's products.' Isn't this all acceptable under the editorial balance of light and dark? And, more importantly in this lean times for the BBC, doesn't it make for decent nibbles in the production office?

Sinitta has claimed that Simon Cowell will be too busy 'squeezing Paula Abdul' in the US to worry about her and Cheryl Cole. Sometimes, dear blog reader, there's just no punchline necessary.

Ryan Giggs is getting The Treatment from the Daily Lies at the moment. By which one means, that no day seems to pass of late without a front page headline mentioning the Manchester United footballer. Wallowing in the filth of their own crapulence, the Daily Lies appear to have 'a thing' for the Manchester United and Wales winger, injunction or no injunction. And not a 'thing' in the way that an MP alleged in parliament that Imogen Thomas had for him, either. In a lengthy piece of analysis, the excellent Tabloid Watchblog points out that the paper has had a Giggs' splash every day since 6 June. One, of course, hardly needs to have a brain in ones head to figure out that this appears to be a sick and venal attempt to ramp-up sales for the scum tabloid by continuing to embarrass the man with increasingly far-fetched stories. All of which manage to be, simultaneously, pathetic and sordid and, after the first couple not even particularly funny. Crowbarring the words 'sex' and 'Giggs' into a headline is good enough for this tacky excuse for a Richard Desmond title. By the way, just in case you'd forgotten, he is the publisher who boasted recently in a TV interview that he 'made' another footballer (David Beckham) and that he is not now nor even has been previously 'a porn baron.' No, indeed. Porn baron is a much more socially acceptable thing to have on your CV than 'owner of the Daily Lies' I'd've said. The 20 June leads story is an especially scummish case in point - Giggs' Lover In Sex Romp Revenge - isn't actually a story at all, merely a repetition of various bits and pieces cobbled together from the paper's previous ten 'exclusives.' And that's about par for the course because almost all the other Lies splashes aren't provable stories either. Just tittle-tattle of the kind that even the Sun and the Mirra would probably blink twice at before publishing. Tabloid Watch also points to an editorial in the Lies last Friday, Ryan Giggs kids the victims, which it suggests is 'laced with hypocrisy': 'It's easy to forget there are little children at the centre of this scandal. Innocents on both sides of the family whose lives have been ripped apart.' And who, exactly, is making sure that the Giggs children - plus their friends and neighbours - are reminded of the scandal day after day? Note, for instance, the way in which Giggs' name often forms the key headline reference even though he has nothing to do with the substantive story itself. Tabloid Watch concludes: 'Despite churning out this inaccurate, misleading, utterly tedious drivel day after day, the Daily Star still manages to be the fourth best-selling daily newspaper in the UK.' Sickening, is it not.

The lack of culture, media and sport secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt dropped a golfing clanger by congratulating Rory McIlroy via Twitter for 'winning the US Masters,' according to the Daily Scum Mail. As sporting fans will know, McIlroy recently won the US Open but - famously - choked in the final stages of the US Masters earlier this year. An object lesson to think before you tweet, vile and odious rascal. Or, at least, do a bit of research before you try to show what a 'man of the people' you are by talking about stuff you know nowt about.

And, speaking of vile and odious rascals, Eton Rifle David Cameron has 'intervened' over the BBC plan to axe his constituency's local news service as part of the latest round of cost-cutting at the corporation. The BBC has been looking at junking the three regional 'sub-opt' services which 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 smackers. Which it needs to do because of the licence fee imposed on it by, wait for it, Cameron and his scum lice spawn in the coalition government. According to 'sources', quoted by the Gruniad Morning Star, BBC director general Mark Thompson – who also lives in Oxfordshire – received a letter indicating Cameron's displeasure. Cameron represents the west Oxfordshire constituency of Witney. Sadly, Thompson didn't write back to No 10 and say 'if you want to see it kept, give us some more bloody money,' which is certainly what yer actual Keith Telly Topping would've done in the very unlikely event that I was BBC director general. I know, it's a horrible thought but don't let it worry you, I don't think it's going to happen. BBC 'insiders', the Gruniad allege, confirmed that the three regional opt-outs in Cambridge, Oxford and the Channel Islands will not be axed but stressed that the corporation had already decided not to proceed with the idea before Cameron wrote to Thompson. Cameron's letter arrived just a few days after a big two-day BBC summit about DQF on 12 and 13 May. A BBC 'source', the newspaper claims, said: 'The director general was happy to reassure those concerned, and confirmed that these local services will not be axed.' In a letter replying to Cameron, Thompson said: 'We have decided to approach the challenge of planning the BBC's future in as open way as we can, listening to our audiences and involving as many people inside the BBC as possible in debating the opportunities, choices and challenges we face. As a result many different ideas have been raised. I believe it is right to have such an open debate but an inevitable consequence is that ideas will surface which do not make sense or which run contrary to the BBC's fundamental public purposes.' Thompson went on: 'Your constituents are correct that there has been a suggestion from some of my colleagues that, in order to save money, we should withdraw those regional services – based in Cambridge, Oxford and the Channel Islands – which serve the smallest populations. Like you however, I believe that these services are very valuable, particularly in the light of ITV's retreat from regional broadcasting, and that to withdraw them would be a retrograde step. I do not intend to include this idea in the final package of proposals that I submit to the BBC Trust.' Cameron told local television station Witney TV he had 'good news' about the proposed cuts to BBC Oxford. When asked by reporter Barry Clack from Witney TV, 'as the prime minister is there anything you can do to stop [the cuts] happening?,' Cameron responded: 'I've got good news here in that I was very concerned about what was being proposed. Obviously the BBC has got to make spending reductions like everybody else but actually I think local news is incredibly important. They do provide a good service here in Oxfordshire and I think they are going to be going on doing that and we're still going to have the separate Oxford news on the BBC, which I think is absolutely great.'

Reality shows and tight regulations have stopped television tackling social issues, according to the creator of Brookside and Grange Hill. Whinging old red Phil Redmond, who founded Mersey Television, said programmes do not connect with 'real people in the street. Where are the challenging dramas?' This, in the week that The Shadow Line and Case Sensitive have just finished and Luther's just started. Blimey, this bloke's really got his eyes wide open, hasn't he? Redmond asked. 'Television used to have programmes like Auf Wiedersehen Pet, The Likely Lads and Boys From the Blackstuff.' Yes, and Muffin the Mule and The Magic Roundabout, what's your point, grandad? That nostalgia isn't what it used to be. My God, it's the Tony Garnett fiasco all over again. Embittered old TV professionals whinging about how 'it weren't like that in't maaaa day.' No it wasn't. And, your day's gone, Phil. Time to give somebody else a chance, eh? He told BBC Radio Merseyside: 'You were putting working class values on TV and at times eulogising working class values. They're not there because the regulations now are so tight. We have tons and tons of reality shows full of really weird people, they're cast deliberately trying to make it sensational. I think television itself has lost its way.' Redmond, who ran Liverpool's 2008 Capital of Culture year, believes programme makers are stereotyping working class people and not portraying them accurately. In a way, of course, that he himself never did in, for instance Brookside. If you've ever wondered exactly where Harry Enfield's scousers came from, look no further. 'You always end up with a kind of loudmouth chavvy type character,' he explained. 'The term "chav" has become synonymous with working class people. We've all got a different view on what we think is a chav. Different governments, of different colours, have targeted the benefit cheats and the ASBO collector and started to call them working class. There's nothing that pushes back against it. There's nothing that offers the counterpoint.' All right, all right, calm down, calm down. Redmond first started working in television in the late 1960s and went on to create the BBC children's series Grange Hill. He is critical of the introduction of family viewing policies by broadcasters in the 1990s, which saw programme makers restricted before 10pm to creating programmes which would not offend people. 'In the late '70s and early '80s it was a real force of social action,' he explained. 'If you have Bobby Grant and all the union activities, you've got to have that kind of level of emotion and aggression and also the language of the streets. You just can't come in with a trade unionist being happy and chirpy and making sure that there's peace and love on earth to all mankind.' Aye, well, what y'gonna do, you know? Capitalism won, Phil mate. We're all Thatcher's children now. Brookside was famous for its hard-hitting storylines addressing difficult subjects and issues, including the rape of Sheila Grant and the first lesbian kiss on British television. 'I wanted to just occasionally throw up a debate, to say this is something we should all be thinking about and be debating and actually see if we can male some changes,' Redmond said. 'That's what's missing now I think. We can all make entertaining drama, that's not difficult. But drama that leaves you at the end sometimes feeling slightly uncomfortable or thinking "we should do something about that," that's the kind of area I was always interested in. Nowadays, they just go for safety all the time. People aren't willing to take a risk.' He said he was not anti-reality shows but thought their dominance meant new writing talent was not being developed. 'Those kind of shows are particular niche markets and that's fine, but the problem is the broadcasters are not balancing the schedules,' he explained. 'When I came into TV there were people who wanted to make shows about the inequalities in society. I don't think commissioning editors are really looking for or know how to nurture great writers. Great writers need time and they need a lot of work and they need a lot of support. They need work with a lot of other producers and writers before they find their own voice. These days there is just not enough around.' So, anyway, that's the end of today's Cosy Nostalgia Half-Hour, tomorrow we'll have another middle-class TV producer romanticising urban poverty and the underclass and telling you that it was all so much better in the 1970s - despite the power cuts and the bad housing and the bronchitis every winter - because, hey, at least the working classes had a voice. They've got a voice now, Philip. And the use it to sing on The X Factor. Get used to it because this is the Twenty First Century.

Friends and fans of the late film composer John Barry have celebrated his life and career at a memorial charity concert. Dame Shirley Bassey was among the performers at the event, held at the Royal Albert Hall. Ex-James Bond Timothy Dalton and Beatles producer Sir George Martin were among the speakers. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performed selections from a host of Barry scores. Broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson opened the tribute, remembering the composer - who died in January at the age of seventy seven - as 'a great man of music.' Barry, he said, had 'an intuitive understanding of how to create the perfect union of music and the moving image.' Those sentiments were echoed by Sir Michael Caine, who appeared via video message to salute 'one of the all-time greats. John was one of my oldest and closest friends,' the actor continued, reliving the night he had stayed with Barry only to be kept awake by him working on one of his most famous compositions. 'I was the first person in the world to hear 'Goldfinger',' the veteran actor recalled. 'And I heard it all night.' Lyricist Don Black remembered Barry as a proud Yorkshireman who remained so, despite living in the US for much of his life. 'I like to say John put the York in New York,' said Black, whose collaborations with the multiple Oscar-winner included the title song from 1966's Born Free. Zulu, Midnight Cowboy, Dances with Wolves and Out of Africa were among other films to have their soundtracks showcased in the extensive programme. The concert also featured excerpts from some less familiar Barry scores, among them music from Richard Lester's 1965 comedy The Knack … And How To Get It. Elsewhere Welsh tenor Wynne Evans - standing in for the indisposed Alfie Boe - gave a powerful rendition of 'Ave Maria'. Inevitably, though, it was Barry's contributions to the James Bond series that took precedence at an event attended by several members of the so-called 007 family. These included Bond producer Michael G Wilson, Goldfinger's Shirley Eaton and actress Samantha Bond, who played Miss Moneypenny from 1995 to 2002. David Arnold, who wrote the music for the last five Bond films, produced the programme with Barry's widow Laurie and also performed. Dalton - whose first outing as Bond, 1987's The Living Daylights, was graced by Barry's last contribution to the series - said the composer had been 'generous, warm and funny.' The actor went on to recite a poem by John O'Donohue, the Irish writer and philosopher who inspired Barry's final work, Eternal Echoes. 'John would love to know you were here for him,' said Sir George Martin, declaring that his friend had had 'an unerring instinct for what a film needed.' His tribute followed a 'Bond Suite' featuring music from Thunderball, From Russia with Love, You Only Live Twice and others that brought the audience to its feet. London-born singer Rumer got a similarly warm reception, despite fluffing a line during her performance of 'We Have All the Time in the World' from On Her Majesty's Secret Service. The song - originally performed by Louis Armstrong - had been a personal favourite of Barry's. The most sustained applause was saved for Dame Shirley as she took to the stage near the end of the evening to belt out the theme tunes to Diamonds are Forever and Goldfinger.

Jackass star Ryan Dunn has died in a car crash, aged thirty four. His cast-mate and friend Bam Margera's mother, April, confirmed the news to the TMZ website. Dunn and an unidentified person are believed to have died when his Porsche crashed at 3am local time at Route 322 and New Street in West Goshen Township. 'We're deeply saddened by the passing of a member of the MTV family, Ryan Dunn,' a post read on the official MTV Twitter page. 'Our hearts and thoughts are with his friends and family.' A source from a fire company in the West Chester area told 96.1 Kiss that both bodies were badly burned in the incident and that Dunn was identified by his tattoos and patches of facial hair. The TV star posted a photograph on his Tumblr page hours before the accident showing him and two friends drinking in a bar. Born on 11 June 1977 in Medina, Dunn starred in eleven of the Jackass films, the last being Jackass 3D and its DVD spin-off Jackass 3.5. He was also a member of the CKY Crew with Margera. His most recent show was Proving Ground, which launched earlier this month on G4. Dunn appeared on the episode Smut of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in December 2008. He was also featured in a movie called Street Dreams which was released in the spring of 2009. In addition to his TV work and the Jackass series, Dunn also appeared in a number of feature films, including 2007's Jessica Simpson romantic comedy Blonde Ambition and Margera's 2003 independent movie Haggard.

Simon Brint, one half of comedy musical duo Raw Sex, has died at the age of sixty one. Brint's agent, Maureen Vincent, confirmed the news after Lenny Henry reported his friend's death on Twitter. Henry wrote: 'My good friend Simon Brint passed away. Rest in peace Simon - we love you very much.' Brint and Rowland Rivron's spoof musical act Raw Sex went on to become the house band for Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders on their eponymous TV show. During the series, French and Saunders and the duo often performed musical sketches as ABBA, the Pet Shop Boys and other pop acts. They were best known for their amateurish and shambolic performances with Ken (Brint) on keyboards and slobby, often drunken Duane (Rivron) on bongos. Brint was also a composer. He wrote music for a huge number of TV shows including The Monarch of the Glen, Coupling, Stella Street, The Mary Whitehouse Experience, The Comic Strip Presents ..., A Bit Of Fry And Laurie and The Lenny Henry Show. He also wrote the theme tune and incidental music for long-running LWT drama, London's Burning. Brint, who lived in Somerset, also arranged several versions of the Blue Peter theme tune. In later years, he was a member of The Idiot Bastard Band alongside Adrian Edmondson, Phill Jupitus and Neil Innes.

Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said Dave Lee Travis' BBC World Service music request show gave her a lifeline under house arrest. The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has spent fifteen years under house arrest since 1989, said A Jolly Good Show had made her 'world much more complete.' Travis, the self-styled Hairy Cornflake, who presented the show from 1981 until 2001, said he was 'touched' but 'not surprised' that she remembered it. The arrogant sod! Suu Kyi also said she felt 'very sorry' to hear about financial cuts to the World Service. Suu Kyi, who is due to give two of the BBC's Reith Lectures - which have been secretly recorded - told the Radio Times: 'I used to listen to all sorts of different programmes, not just classical music. I can't remember the name of that programme. Dave Travis was it?' After interviewer Eddie Mair, who presents BBC Radio 4's PM programme, asked if she meant Dave Lee Travis, Suu Kyi said: 'Yes! Didn't he have a programme with all different sorts of music? I would listen to that quite happily because the listeners would write in and I had a chance to hear other people's words.' The long-time campaigner for civil rights and freedom of speech in Burma said those under house arrest listened to the radio much more - and much more carefully - than the average person 'because that's really our only line to the outside world.' And the World Service had enabled her to be 'in touch with everything, with culture, with art, with books, with music.' But she added the World Service had changed since her first period under house arrest from 1989 until 1995. 'Then, I remember there were so many more different programmes on the service. But now, perhaps I'm not getting on to the right programme or perhaps I don't listen at the correct times but the programmes don't seem so varied,' she said. 'I haven't heard any music on the BBC World Service in a long time. Maybe I'm listening at the wrong times. But not one single piece of music. Am I wrong? Or have I been listening at the wrong times?' Travis told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he was delighted his show had made such an impact. 'We take radio, like the Today Programme, as extremely serious, well there's a few obviously funny bits in it as well but generally it's quite serious. And then you have currently other radio stations playing pop music and never the twain shall meet. I think it's rather nice - and it came as a pleasant surprise to me - that a leader of a country in the world, especially one that's been very repressed, listened to my programme, to get a bit of jollity in her life.' BBC producers used the code name Maggie Philbin - the former Tomorrow's World presenter - to keep Ms Suu Kyi's involvement in the Reith Lectures secret.

In somewhat related news - hey, I don't just throw these things together, you know! - BBC World Service has issued a further statement calling for the release of its correspondent in Tajikistan. On 14 June, the corporation condemned the detention of Urunboy Usmonov by security services in the country, and called for his immediate release. But despite similar demands from the British and American Embassies, the Tajik authorities have still not responded. World Service said that Usmonov has been denied regular and confidential access to his lawyer, or contact with his family, which is against both international and Tajik law. The BBC is also concerned about his health as he suffers from a 'serious heart condition.' The Tajik authorities have accused the reporter of being a member of Hizbut-Tahrir, an extreme Islamic group calling for the unification of Muslims under Sharia law. The BBC 'strongly' denies these allegations, which it sees as 'a serious threat to professional journalism and to freedom of expression in Tajikistan.' In a statement, the corporation said: 'Urunboy Usmonov, as a BBC journalist, is expected to cover all sides of any story and in the course of his work it is only natural that he would meet and interview people representing all shades of opinion. It is vital for all journalists to be able to report freely on any organisation without fear of harassment and intimidation.' It added: 'We continue to be highly concerned for Urunboy's safety. He suffers from a serious heart condition and has requested further medical attention. His family have expressed deep concerns about his health and possible maltreatment in the detention centre. Our thoughts are with Urunboy and his family, and we appeal to everyone with influence over this situation to redouble their efforts to secure the immediate release of the BBC reporter Urunboy Usmonov by the Tajik authorities.'

FIFA vice-president the vile and odious Jack Warner has resigned, world football's governing body has confirmed. The cause of celebration throughout the world of football and only about thirty years overdue, that. 'As a consequence of Mr Warner's resignation, all ethics committee procedures against him have been closed and the presumption of innocence is maintained,' said a FIFA statement. Which is, of course, very convenient. Warner was suspended pending an investigation into bribery allegations. He and fellow FIFA member Mohamed Bin Hammam are alleged to have paid bribes of six hundred thousand pounds to Caribbean associations. Chuck Blazer, general secretary of the CONCACAF federation which Warner had been president of, alleged that violations of FIFA's code of ethics occurred during a meeting organised by Bin Hammam and Warner in May. Blazer's allegations were preceded by claims made in parliament by the former head of England's failed 2018 World Cup bid, Lord Triesman, about irregularities in the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup. Triesman, who was also former chairman of the Football Association, accused Warner and three other FIFA Executive Committee members of improper conduct during England's 2018 World Cup bid. According to Triesman, in exchange for voting for England to host the World Cup, Warner had asked for cash to build an education centre in Trinidad and to buy World Cup television rights for Haiti. The sixty eight-year-old had been the longest-serving member of FIFA's executive committee, and a FIFA statement continued: 'FIFA regrets the turn of events that have led to Mr Warner's decision. His resignation has been accepted by world football's governing body, and his contribution to international football and to Caribbean football in particular and the CONXCACAF confederation are appreciated and acknowledged.' FIFA in May opened 'ethics proceedings' against Warner and Bin Hammam but Warner insisted he was not guilty of 'a single iota of wrongdoing.' Others begged to differ. Football's governing body then suspended Warner and former FIFA presidential candidate Bin Hammam on 29 May, pending an investigation into claims that they had offered bribes to members of the Caribbean Football Union. Despite claims by Bin Hammam that FIFA President Sepp Blatter was aware of payments made to the CFU, and that he too should be investigated, FIFA' ethics committee stated that 'no investigation is warranted' of Blatter. Following Bin Hammam's suspension, Blatter went on to run unopposed in a farcical FIFA presidential election, despite pointless efforts by the FA to have the election suspended amid the corruption allegations which had engulfed the sport's world governing body. Seventeen member associations supported the FA's request for a delay, but Blatter was re-elected for a fourth term after receiving one hundred and eighty six of the two hundred and three votes. Despite the controversy that has surrounded FIFA and Warner since May, the governing body's statement concluded: 'Warner is leaving FIFA by his own volition after nearly thirty years of service. The FIFA Executive Committee, the FIFA President and the FIFA management thank Mr Warner for his services to Caribbean, CONCACAF and international football over his many years devoted to football at both regional and international level, and wish him well for the future.' Warner claimed that he had been 'hung out to dry' and suggested that 'gifts have been around throughout the history of FIFA.' However, he has long been at the centre of a wide and sordid variety of allegation concerning his conduct. For instance, via a private family company, Warner had shares in Simpaul, a travel and holiday company. In late 2002, various global media publications alleged that Warner had made a profit of three hundred and fifty thousand dollars selling 2002 FIFA World Cup tickets. In a series of exposes, during Christmas 2005 the Trinidad and Tobago Express exposed that Simpaul was offering thirty thousand dollar packages to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, which effectively marked-up match tickets at a much higher rate than face value. In response to the expose, Simpaul removed the cost of the tickets from their packages, by reducing the cost of the packages by three thousand dollars. They then referred clients to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association, who at that time had an exclusive distribution deal for local and World Cup tickets with Simpaul. In response, FIFA started an investigation, and asked their auditors Ernst & Young, to investigate. In a subsequent report submitted to FIFA in March 2006, Ernst & Young estimated that Warner's family had made a profit of at least one million dollars from reselling 2006 World Cup tickets which Warner had directly ordered or sold on behalf of the T&TFA. As a consequence of being found guilty of breaking FIFA's Article Five, minutes of FIFA's executive committee indicate that a fine of almost one million dollars, equal to the expected profiteering, was imposed upon Warner and his family. Warner also agreed to severe all family links with Simpaul immediately. However, Warner's son Daryan remained a director of Simpaul throughout the World Cup 2006. Despite numerous reminders from FIFA, only two hundred and fifty thousand dollars had been returned to them by November 2005. The journalist Andrew Jennings, author of the book FOUL! and presenter of FIFA's Dirty Secrets, an edition of BBC's Panorama, repeated these allegations in a November 2010 programme during the week Warner and his fellow FIFA ExCo members voted to decide the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. There's clearly no love lost between Jennings and Warner. On one occasion when Jennings attempted to doorstep Warner at an airport to be interviewed for one of the several Panorama documentaries he has made about alleged dodgy dealings within FIFA Warner, charmingly, stated on camera that he would like to 'spit in your [Jennings] face.' Warner once again caused controversy in an interview with the BBC about England's chances of holding the 2018 World Cup. He asserted that 'England invented the sport but has never made any impact on world football. For Europe, England is an irritant,' he noted and added that 'Nobody in Europe likes England.' Which might well be true but is that really any of his concern? However, on 14 February 2008, Warner retracted this stance. England's Football Association agreed to visit Trinidad to play a friendly against the Trinidad and Tobago national football team on condition that Warner apologise for his previous insulting comments. Which Warner did, arguing that, 'The time has come. The fact is they invented this sport. They last held the World Cup forty two years ago. That is almost two to three generations. There are guys in England who have never seen a World Cup on English soil.' During the bidding process to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup's Warner publicly supported the English bid, promising to vote in England's favour at the draw in December 2010. Russia, of course, eventually won the vote to hold the World Cup in 2018, with Warner having voted for the Russian bid. Additionally, the Scottish Football Association President John McBeth said that Warner had asked for monies owed to the TTFF be sent to Warner's personal account. According to McBeth, after Trinidad and Tobago visited Scotland for a friendly match at Easter Road on 30 May 2004, Warner asked that the cheque for the game be made out to him personally. McBeth told Warner, 'we don't do that' and noted that Warner also approached other members of the Scottish FA following the game in an attempt to collect monies due to the TTFF. On 26 May 2011 the BBC published an e-mail from Warner to the English FA requesting funds to purchase Haiti's World Cup television rights. This e-mail appears to - at least partially - substantiate a separate charge made by Lord Triesman that Warner had requested funds from the English to be sent into his personal account so that he could purchase TV rights as 'a humanitarian gesture' for the Haitian people. In return, the English bid team could, the e-mail suggested, expect his support during the bid process. The total sum that Warner had requested in this instance was in the region of $1.6 million. In short, there are many people in the football world - and beyond, who are really quite happy to have seen this strutting odious individual brought low. Indeed, there was just time for the Daily Mirra's Don Mackay to stick the knife in a bit deeper, and have a go at FIFA at the same time ('FIFA's reputation took a further battering last night as vice ­president Jack Warner quit in disgrace over corruption claims. But spineless bosses sparked fury by announcing they have ditched their probe into allegations he bribed voters during the international soccer body’s recent presidential campaign. The sixty eight-year-old, who shamelessly betrayed Prince William and David Beckham by pledging to vote for England’s 2018 World Cup bid then going back on his word, had been suspended along with Asian football chief Mohamed bin Hammam') before FIFA found a door to boot Warner's ass out of.

The latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day is from The Associates. Skill. Take it away, Billy. (Incidentally, that's the fine Martha Ladly of Martha and the Muffins on backing vocals, just in case you didn't know.)

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