Monday, June 06, 2011

Beyond Belief A Broken Man Too Tough To Cry

A Muslim group has criticised Have I Got News For You for making a joke about Mecca. In Friday's episode of the show, guest host Sharon Horgan referred about the holy city, which is the centre of pilgrimage for Muslims. 'The Independent described the Dostoevsky Metro Station in Moscow as "the Mecca for suicides,"' Horgan said. 'Not to be confused with the Mecca for suicide bombers - which is Mecca.' The Muslim Public Affairs Committee has criticised the joke, the Chortle website reports. 'By making such a comment she is giving the message that the holiest site in Islam is the centre of all terrorism and that Islam is inherently linked with violence,' the group said. 'This off hand comment does nothing except reinforce the message that Islam has something within its fundamental beliefs that makes it a threat to civil society. Allowing this comment to go unchecked justifies the statement and condones such demonisation, as the comment implicitly implies that all Muslims are terrorists and all terrorists are Muslim.' Horgan has since defended the comments, reminding viewers that Have I Got News For You is 'political satire,' and apologised if people were offended. 'I am anti any prejudice of any kind,' she wrote on Twitter. 'And particularly the generally lazy media portrayal of Muslims or any blanket negativity towards Islam. I am Irish for God's sake. I grew up in the '70s and '80s Ireland and therefore am all too aware of stereotyping by the general public and media. But HIGNFY is a political satire show. Its job is to hold a mirror up to most media prejudice. It deals in irony and in that sense it does the opposite of what it's actually saying. Any of the comments on here, which are suggesting I am racist or in any way anti-Muslim are a load of nonsense.' Horgan continued: 'HIGNFY, like all good satire, plays on prejudices and that's exactly what we were doing with this joke. Really hope that people understand this and stop threatening me. But if anyone misunderstood the intention of the joke - for it was a joke - then I apologise for any offence caused.'

Saturday night's Doctor Who - A Good Man Goes To War - had an audience appreciation index score of eighty eight. Or, 'really very good indeed.'

In the latest twist in the most tiresome 'will-she-won't-she' media fiasco since Christine Bleakley left the BBC (and, my, what a great career move that turned out to be, didn't it?), Cheryl Cole will not return to The X Factor USA, according to a report. Or, she might, according to others. I'm not sure if I ever really cared in the first place but, to be honest, even if I did, I'm way past that point now. The singer's position on the show has been in doubt since it was claimed she had got the old tin-tack from the FOX series two weeks ago. However, over the weekend - initially by the News of the World - it was reported that Cole had been offered a return. Various tabloid reports suggested that the offer was made for the twenty seven-year-old to join Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and LA Reid in New York on Wednesday to film auditions. However, The Hollywood Reporter - which, to be honest, I'd trust a hell of a lot more than anything they had in the News of the Screws including fish and chips - has claimed that Cole won't return to the show after bosses decided to let her go. She is expected to be paid the one and a half million dollars which she is owed, after she apparently signed a so-called 'pay or play' contract. 'There was no spark,' a 'source' allegedly said of Cole and her fellow judges. 'It was nobody's fault. It just didn't work.' The X Factor USA axing supposedly left the Girls Aloud star 'extremely upset', causing communication between her management and producers to break down. Production firm FremantleMedia is said to have offered Cole her job again, while hoping that she would not turn up to auditions - at the same time preventing the company from having to pay her. However, Cole has compiled evidence to prove that she was initially sacked, the Mirra claims. 'They're hoping it's a no-show so they don't have to pay her. But that plan falls flat when you look at the fact of the matter – that she's already been fired,' a 'friend' allegedly told the paper. 'There was a meeting attended by Cheryl where it was made clear it wasn't working. Then there are e-mails and messages to the same effect. For the network to try and wriggle out of it by suggesting otherwise is nonsense. If she doesn't turn up to retake her place on the panel, she is not in breach of her contract - because FOX breached it themselves.' Other UK media sources claim that Cole is 'still deciding' if she will accept the offer to return, with one source concluding: 'At last Cheryl is in charge of the situation. She's finally calling the shots, but she's really not sure.' Oh, who the hell cares?

Imogen Thomas was pictured in the Sun on Friday wearing that infamous autographed Scum United shirt. It appears, though, that the Sun obtained this photo without her actual consent. Just as importantly - indeed, some would argue far more so - is the fact that newspapers are still not allowed to discuss the injunction between CTB and Imogen Thomas as it has not been lifted. So are the Sun in contempt of court? Thomas threatened to take out her own legal action against the paper after claiming a newly-published photo of her was 'hacked' from her e-mail account. The former Miss Wales - who for weeks has been at the centre of a High Court superinjunction and media storm following an alleged affair with a footballer - said that she was 'furious' when she found out a photo of her in a Manchester United shirt was printed in the tabloid newspaper. It is thought that a 'friend' of the ex-Big Brother contestant may have been behind the leak. Sounds like a right good 'friend' you've got there Imogen, m'love. But, hang on. Wasn't Imogen supposed to be the Sun's, like, bestest friend in all the land (that am) when the two of them were trying to get CTB's injunction lifted a few weeks ago? You know what Nietzsche said about sleeping with dragons, don't you Imogen? And it wasn't, 'tell him if he doesn't give you some cash you're going to tell Mrs Dragon and the tabloids in that order.' Oh no. Anyway, Thomas vented her anger on Twitter after the Sun ran the story alongside another piece featuring an interview with her father.
She said: 'OMG! I'm so angry. Furious. That is my copyright. Nobody asked for my consent. Completely Wrong. The morning can't come quick enough.' Which was followed by four exclamation marks. Thomas, who on Friday night appeared on ITV2's Britain’s Got More Talent (begging the question are they in contempt of court as well?) then added: 'Can't believe someone has hacked into my Hotmail account and stole a photo of me which is in today's Sun paper. I am livid. I'm taking further action.' The newspaper reported that the photo had been taken by Thomas's mother after Thomas had been given the shirt as a gift along with some match tickets by the footballer who, subsequently, took out the injunction against her. Thomas's publicist, Max Clifford, told Wales on Sunday: 'She's told me it was a picture that her mum took and she has no idea where it has come from. It's nothing to do with her and it's a complete surprise. It should never have come out and she's obviously upset about it.' Yet Clifford chose to play down the possibility of any legal action - obviously since it would be hugely costly to his client and, particularly at the moment, she needs all the friends in the tabloids that she can get. He added: 'It's nothing major to report on really, it's just a surprise that it's happened. What she's said to me is that it could have come from one of her girlfriends but she doesn't really know who is responsible.' The media - and, as a consequence, this blog - is only able to report that the footballer with whom Thomas had her alleged affair was Manchester United and Wales veteran Ryan Giggs after only after Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming used parliamentary privilege to reveal it was the thirty seven-year-old former Wales international who was the Premier League player who took out the injunction. And, speaking of potential contempt of court, that oily twat Piers Morgan's efforts to get Giggs to come on his tawdry Life Stories chat show - as reported in for instance, the Daily Lies - appears to be dangerously close to it. Particularly if the quote that Lies includes in this comment ('I'd really love Ryan to come on Life Stories. It would be the ideal chance for him to speak about everything that has happened') are accurate. Jail 'im, judge. No mercy.

ITV's new detective series Scott & Bailey lost nearly 1.8m viewers on Sunday night, but still won its ratings battle with Case Histories on BBC1, according to the overnight audience data. Scott & Bailey, starring Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp, averaged 6.14m for ITV from 9pm, down 1.78m on last week's debut episode's overnight. A further three hundred thousand viewers watched the show on ITV+1. However, Scott & Bailey was still able to outperform Case Histories in the 9pm hour, after the Jason Isaacs-vehicle crime drama premiered on BBC1 with 5.42m. That aside, however, it was quite a good night for BBC1 as Antiques Roadshow pulled in an impressive 6.55m in the 8pm hour, beating the Sunday debut of the new series of Popstar to Operastar, which was watched by 4.36m on ITV and a further one hundred and sixty thousand viewers on timeshift. This was almost two million viewers less than the series' opening episode which was shown on Saturday sandwiched between the two halves of the Britain's Got Talent final. The Popstar to Operastar results show had even less viewers, 3.28m, between 10pm and 10.30pm. Earlier, Countryfile had an audience of 5.24m for BBC1 in the 7pm hour, outperforming ITV's The Royal and its 4.61m with a further two hundred and seventy thousand on ITV+1. Live - and, slightly overrunning - coverage of Rafael Nadal's win in the French Open final averaged 2.33m on BBC2 between 2pm and 6.15pm, before Richard Hammond's Engineering Connections was watched by 1.47m viewers. A repeat episode of Top Gear gained 1.8m on BBC2 from 7.15pm and the excellent documentary Murray Walker: Life in the Fast Lane captivated 1.62m from 8.15pm. Coast's sixth series began - rather charmingly - with an audience of 1.89m for the first episode in the hour from 9.15pm, before a screening of The Damned United achieved 1.12m.

And, speaking of ratings, here's the consolidated Top Twenty shows week ending 29 May 2011:-
1 Britain's Got Talent - ITV Sun - 9.88m
2 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 9.73m
3 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 9.38m
4 The Apprentice - BBC1 Wed - 8.62m
5 Scott & Bailey - ITV Sun - 8.31m
6 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 7.36m
7 UEFA Champions League Live - ITV Sat - 7.23m
8 Doctor Who - BBC1 Sat - 6.72m
9 Waterlook Road - BBC1 wed - 6.12m
10 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Tues - 5.74m
11 Strangeways - ITV Mon - 5.57m
12 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.31m
14 Antiques Roadshow - BBC1 Sun - 5.28m
15 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 5.18m
16 Formula One: The Monaco Grand Prix - BBC1 Sun - 5.15m
17 Midsomer Murders - ITV Wed - 5.04m
18 Crimewatch UK - BBC1 Tues - 4.93m
19 Long Lost Family - ITV Thurs - 4.91m
20 Film: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - BBC1 Sun - 4.90m
BBC2's best performers was The Apprentice: You're Fired - Wed - 3.43m. The most watched programme on Channel Four was 24 Hours In A&E - Wed - 2.64m. Channel Five's top dog was CSI - Tues - 2.63m, whilst the most watched programme on multi-channels for the week was E4's Glee - Mon - 2.11m.

The latest Ofcom monthly bulletin has been released. Among the highlights of what is always a hugely amusing document to read are a complaint about Japan Disaster Caught on Camera, a documentary concerning the recent earthquake and tsunami shown on the National Geographic Channel which included repeated uses of the word 'fuck.' (Presumably as in a sentence like 'fuck, there's tsunami coming! We'd better run like bloody fuck.' Or something similar.) On a similar theme, Channel Report is a regional news magazine programme broadcast every weekday at 18:00 to the Channel Islands. During a sequence in the programme where the presenters read out brief news stories, one of the presenters appeared to make a mistake whilst reading her lines and said, in response, to her mistake 'fucking hell.' Well, smack her thighs for such badness. Among the claims rejected out of hand as being barely worthy of comment were one against Doctor Who for 'violence and dangerous behaviour', one against The Shadow Line concerning 'animal welfare' - presumably, that scene in which Rafe Spall's character appears to submerge a cat in a tub of water and one against The Simpsons for allegedly 'offensive language.' And, again, we must merely marvel at the shite some people choose to care about.

From the same report, ITV has been censured by Ofcom for featuring overly promotional reviews of new video games and gadgets in children's programme Cool Stuff Collective. The regulator received complaints about various episodes of the entertainment magazine show broadcast on ITV and digital channel CITV in February, March and April of this year. Aimed at children aged between seven and twelve, Cool Stuff Collective - horribly patronising title notwithstanding - features presenter Sy Thomas and his sidekick, Monkey (a man dressed in a monkey costume for reasons that defy any obvious explanation) looking at new toys, gadgets, video games, music and films. One complainant said that an episode which was broadcast on 20 February featuring Nintendo Wii game Chicken Blaster was 'fundamentally just a twenty five minute advert for a number of different child-orientated consumer products.' Discussing an episode from 12 March and featuring Box Kinect game Yoostar 2: In the Movies, another viewer said: 'The presenter displayed commercial products - eg computer games and an audio docking station in a way which appeared to amount to product placement on children's television.' Ofcom also assessed episodes of Cool Stuff Collective which featured Sy and Monkey talking in constant glowing terms about Nintendo 3DS game Pilot Wings, the Huawei E5 Wireless Modem and various other products. In February, the media watchdog relaxed the rules governing product placement on commercial television, but that does not extend to programmes aimed at children, where placement is completely prohibited. After Ofcom asked ITV whether any money had been received for including the products in Cool Stuff Collective, the broadcaster provided 'extensive e-mail correspondence' proving that no payment had been requested or offered. ITV accepted that it was a 'difficult editorial distinction' between expressing positivity about a product, and using 'intrinsically promotional language.' But the broadcaster claimed that the approach of Sy and Monkey was justified in the context of the programme's style in promoting 'cool stuff' for children. Hang on? 'Cool stuff' and 'a bloke in a monkey suit'? Bet you never thought you'd see those two phrases in the same sentence. Can you imagine what sort of conversations the poor chap must get into when he goes home to visit his parents. 'How's the career going, Darren, any jobs?' 'Yeah, mum. I've got a part of telly?' 'Brilliant. I'm so proud of you. What? Corrie? Doctor Who? Hollyoaks? Don't say you're going to be on Katie Price's new ITV2 show?' 'No, I play a monkey on an ITV kids show flogging tacky junk to eleven year olds.' 'Oh, Darren, did we really pay for your education for this? Why can't you get yourself a proper job like your sister?' 'But mum, she's on The Only Way is Essex.' 'Yes, but the hours are good ...' ITV pointed out that an item in the show, called Class Room Committee, featured children testing out various products and giving both positive and negative comments. The company attempted to argue that Cool Stuff Collective does not need to include the same degree of critical assessment as a 'more serious consumer review programme aimed at adults.' It also stated that the programme 'avoids any overt suggestion that viewers should purchase particular products.' However, Ofcom ruled that Cool Stuff Collective lacked sufficient critical assessment or comparison of the products it was reviewing, meaning the episodes became overly promotional. 'We note there were frequent and very positive comments about the products being featured. Reviews of products featured numerous references to the products' positive attributes, benefits and features,' said the regulator. 'In our view the cumulative effect of the frequent, detailed and continuously positive comments about the products in the reviews, as set out above, was promotional. Further, those reviews which included overt encouragements to consider purchasing products, as set out above, also had a promotional effect.'

Stephen Fry has joined the cast of a new adaptation of children's classic The Borrowers. Fry who revealed the existence of the project during an appearance on BBC 5Live's Danny Baker Show last weekend, also confirmed that it will begin production very soon. 'Before [The Hobbit], in fact I go to South Africa. Working Title are doing The Borrowers,' Fry said. 'I was surprised to get this script because I remember they did The Borrowers not that long ago. I thought, "Oh, that's odd," but I read the script and thought it was delightful and I had a really funny part,' he continued. 'That starts in a few weeks.' Although Stephen did not clarify any further details about the project, it is believed that former Shameless writer Danny Brocklehurst has written the film's script. Later this year, Studio Ghibli will release an English-language version of their own adaptation, called The Borrower Arrietty. The classic children's novel has previously been adapted into both a BBC TV series as well as a 1997 film starring John Goodman and Jim Broadbent. Stephen, meanwhile, spent Sunday at Lord's watching the Test Match - he noted on Twitter that it was his first day off 'in what seems months.' On Monday he was spending the day filming the forthcoming Channel Four programme The One Hundred Best Gadgets whilst there are five further episodes of Qi to be filmed over the next couple of weeks.

Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry has claimed that one of the stars of the show is not funny. Cherry refused to say which of the cast members he was talking about but claimed that he has to coach the actress to perform her lines well. Cherry made the comments at a Producers Guild conference, The Hollywood Reporter says. 'One of my actresses on Desperate Housewives is not funny,' he said. '[I tell her,] "Sweetie, if you raise your eyebrow here, you'll get a laugh." She does, and she gets nominations. Daddy's little girl does comedy. I'm part daddy, part psychiatrist.' Cherry, who has been the centre of controversy before, is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with former Housewives star Nicolette Sheridan, who is suing for wrongful termination, battery and unlawful retaliation. In documents relating to the lawsuit, Sheridan has claimed that Cherry described her former co-star Eva Longoria as 'a girl with no tits that looks like a boy' and alleged that he said: 'I hope Teri Hatcher gets hit by a car and dies.'

Dervla Kirwan has claimed that viewers will be shocked by the twists in ITV's new series Injustice. The actress will play Jane Travers, the wife of troubled barrister William (played by James Purefoy) in the crime drama. Kirwan told What's On TV: 'Each episode really twists and turns and delivers. If we've done our jobs properly, the twists will be totally unexpected, for both the viewers and everyone in Will's life.' She also praised the decision to strip Injustice across the week from Monday to Friday. 'I think [the format] allows viewers to connect to it much more deeply,' she suggested. '[It] builds the momentum and the suspense that you don't get if you're seeing it with a seven-day gap [between episodes].'

He's usually more likely to be casting his expert opinion over the latest model of car, not modelling himself. But James May dropped the male bravado he's carefully cultivated as a presenter on BBC series Top Gear to sashay down the catwalk. The forty eight-year-old was a willing participant in his very own Man Lab show at Graduate Fashion Week - held at Earl's Court in London. James appeared to have had his long floppy locks cut for his catwalk debut which saw him sporting a cross between a tailored suit and a pair of mechanic's overalls. He held a hammer is his hands and a screwdriver tucked into the utility belt around his waist as he threw out some fierce looks into the audience. The show was organised as part of May's latest BBC series, Man Lab, which explores traditional skills that are being neglected by the modern man and how to stop them from being lost forever. Each episode of the show consists of a variety of themed tasks, including construction, seduction techniques and more. The Man Lab showcase focused on a range of 'practical yet multi purpose' items of clothing designed specifically for men. James injected what little fashion knowledge he has, combined with a healthy serving of common sense, to create the line.

Sharpe Films, the production company behind the Sharpe drama series starring Sean Bean, is reportedly going to court with ITV over royalty payments. The company alleges that ITV's distribution arms, ITV Global Entertainment and ITV Consumer, have failed to secure good enough royalties for the series in the US, reports the Daily Scum Mail. The case focuses on three feature-length versions of Sharpe - Sharpe's Gold, Sharpe's Eagle and Sharpe's Rifles - along with series two and three of the show broadcast in the early 1990s. Also in dispute is the fourth series of Sharpe based on the novels Sharpe Siege and Sharpe's Regiment, written by Bernard Cornwell. Sharpe Film accuses ITV of breach of contract, and alleges that the broadcaster licensed the programme at a royalty of twenty two and a half per cent, despite a sub-distributor being entitled to fifty three per cent. According to the High Court writ, Sharpe Films claims that no reasonable distributor would have knowingly accepted such a low royalty rate. The company is demanding damages from ITV based on the higher profits it believes it would have achieved through a more lucrative agreement. ITV said that it would 'strongly defend' itself against the allegations. Sharpe's Peril, the last episode of the Sharpe series - in which Bean plays Richard Sharpe a British officer fighting in the Napoleonic wars with his small band of 'Chosen Men' - was broadcast on ITV in 2008. Last month, Bean revealed that he would like to film more episodes of Sharpe in the future, but admitted that the cost of staging such a lavish production may scupper the chances. The actor is currently starring in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones on Sky Atlantic.

There's obviously someone behind the scenes at FOX News with an incredibly red face - and, possibly an incredibly red bottom - after they recently accidentally flashed up an image of 30 Rock's Tina Fey – famed for her Saturday Night Live impersonation of Sarah Palin – instead of, you know, the actual Sarah Palin. It's even more awkward for the blunderer in question when you realise that Sarah Palin happens to be an employee of FOX News, providing political commentary as well as hosting a show called Sarah Palin's Alaska – so really, they should know the difference by now.
And as a third strike of embarrassment for this unknown offender, this is the official decree from FOX HQ to prevent such mistakes from happening again: 'Effective immediately, there is zero tolerance for on-screen errors. Mistakes by any member of the show team that end up on air may result in immediate disciplinary action against those who played significant roles in the "mistake chain," and those who supervise them. That may include warning letters to personnel files, suspensions, and other possible actions up to and including termination, and this will all obviously play a role in performance reviews.'

The creator of the HBO drama The Wire has criticised recent remarks made by US Attorney General Eric Holder. Holder recently urged David Simon and co-producer Ed Burns to produce a sixth season of the acclaimed series, which ended in 2008. However, in an e-mail to The Times, Simon angrily hit out at the US government for its 'misguided' war on drugs. 'The Attorney-General's kind remarks are noted and appreciated,' he wrote. 'I've spoken to Ed Burns and we are prepared to go to work on season six of The Wire if the Department of Justice is equally ready to reconsider and address its continuing prosecution of our misguided, destructive and dehumanising drug prohibition.' Simon further claimed that the government's current anti-drug policies are 'nothing more or less than a war on our underclass.' He continued: '[It is] succeeding only in transforming our democracy into the jailingest nation on the planet [sic].'

Those wacky guys at the Daily Scum Mail have claimed that recordings of A Question of Sport are being moved 'back' to London because the show is 'struggling to get guests' since it started filming at MediaCity in Salford. This, despite the fact the show has mostly been filmed in Manchester for forty years. Curiously, they don't mention that. Apparently, it's only moving to London for the next few weeks to accommodate Sue Barker's Wimbledon presentation schedule. A completely made-up rubbish story in the Daily Scum Mail? Who've thought it?

Father Ted co-creator Graham Linehan has rewritten the classic Ealing comedy The Ladykillers for the stage. A top-line cast including Peter Capaldi, Ben Miller and The Vicar of Dibley's James Fleet will take key roles in the show, which will open in the West End in December following a run in Liverpool. 'All these names, I'm just delighted because I like all of them,' Linehan told Chortle. The Thick Of It's Capaldi will take the role of the charmingly sinister gang leader Professor Marcus, played originally by Alec Guinness in the movie. Linehan said that the challenge to adapt a film was too compelling to refuse. He recalled: '[The producers] met me, and they said, "You like The Ladykillers don't you? Could be funnier though couldn't it?" And I just thought that was a brilliant pitch. Because it's an odd film, in that it's got a wonderful shape, that slightly fairytale, dreamlike quality to it, and all these fantastic bold archetypes, but it doesn't have as many zingers as you remember.' He admits that he wanted to make the stage version very much his own. 'I wanted the film to haunt the play rather than it be a transcription,' he said. The stage production - which coincides with the eightieth anniversary of Ealing Studios – will be directed by Sean Foley, whose credits include the Morecambe and Wise show The Play What I Wrote.

Gillian Anderson is reportedly in talks to join the BBC's adaptation of Great Expectations. The X-Files star is in negotiations to play Miss Havisham in the Charles Dickens drama, The Wrap claims. Ray Winstone and Douglas Booth have already signed up to appear in the three-part series, which has been written by Oliver Twist scribe Sarah Phelps. Anderson previously appeared in the BBC's 2005 adaptation of Dickens's novel Bleak House. More recently, she starred in BBC2's The Crimson Petal and the White and received a BAFTA nomination for her portrayal of Wallis Simpson in Channel Four's Any Human Heart.

Dara O Briain offered plenty of life-saving tips during his two shows at the Hay Festival. The Irish comedian said that 'Nellie the Elephant' was the best song to sing when performing CPR to keep the appropriate rhythm. He added that this professional advice was not the best way to maintain authority in a serious situation but only received more laughs when saying that 'Staying Alive' was another suggested alternative from medics. 'Just don’t get your Bee Gees songs mixed up and sing 'Tragedy' when you're pushing or you really could get some funny stares,' he added. As slick and professional as always, O Briain is just as impressive when speaking to the audience with his quick comebacks that offer no break in the laughter. Serious situations where audience members had saved baby brothers from sheep dips or young children with swallowed tongues turned into hilarious anecdotes with Dara's backing. Other life-saving moments needed less of his input. As was the case with the teen who saved his dad from choking on a poppadom by performing the Heimlich manoeuvre. The Indian starter flew five feet across the kitchen before it slowly dripped down the window with chutney attached.

Former Kinks frontman Ray Davies is delaying the sale of the legendary Konk studios in London, he has told the BBC. Konk was set up in the early 1970s by The Kinks as their private studio, but also played hosts to the likes of Thin Lizzy, Blur and The Kooks. Last year, the property was offered for two million pound as 'a development opportunity.' But Davies said: 'It was up for sale but I've got another record I've got to do so we're debating what to do now. It's open for discussion.' The Kinks, one of the UK's most influential bands, purchased Konk in 1971 and began recording there two years later. It remained their main studio until they disbanded in 1996. In 2008, Brighton band The Kooks recorded their second CD at the studio, naming the record Konk. 'There's a lot of history with The Kinks, we bought it as a hangout really, somewhere we could rehearse and record and it mushroomed into a studio,' said Davies. 'We've had some really good acts over the years come here. We're doing the best we can.' Davies has also confirmed that White Stripes singer Jack White is in talks to record the music for a film version of The Kinks' 1975 concept LP Schoolboys In Disgrace. The project is being developed by former Police Academy actor and film director Bobcat Goldthwait. 'He's written a great script, we've got the money to do it but he's got another movie to do and then he's thinking about doing Schoolboys later this year or early next year,' said Davies. He added: 'Bobcat's got a really good vision of what he wants. Once the script's been approved, I never interfere with a director and what they want.' Praising White, Davies said the singer and musician would bring 'a great anarchic sound. He's a great technical player and would bring some great anarchy to it, which is in keeping with the script.' Davies is also the curator of this year's Meltdown arts and music festival on London's South Bank and will close the event on 19 June with a joint performance with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Radio audience profiler Rajar is extending its research methods to include more digital tools to more accurately measure listeners across all platforms. From July, the industry body is to use a series of tools including an online radio listening diary and a digital personal interviewing aide. The move is part of Rajar's strategy to keep abreast of people's listening habits across online and mobile devices and DAB radio, while improving its demographic representation. Traditionally, it has relied solely on a pen-and-paper diary system, which hundreds of thousands of people are asked to fill out manually, listing which stations they listen to and when each week. From next month it will roll out online, initially on PCs, and will be adapted to smartphones and tablets in the coming months. Rajar CEO Jerry Hill said the aim is to ensure the body keeps in step with how the radio industry is evolving. 'The use of digital technology has become so prevalent across all demographics that we can now make these changes,' he said. 'Adding to our toolbox to provide enhanced information is not only progressive for the industry but also beneficial in offering something easy and compelling for the consumers who provide our data.' Andrew Harrison, CEO of industry body RadioCentre, said the move is vital for commercial radio. 'The accurate recording of listening figures is crucial to commercial radio, which relies on this to help generate its revenue, so these improvements are a welcome addition to Rajar's robust survey,' he said. Rajar is also working with online radio aggregator Radioplayer to help it translate its listening figures into a common metric. Last week Radioplayer, the joint venture between the BBC and commercial radio stations including Absolute and Global Radio, reported 5.7m listeners for May. Rajar worked with its development partner YouGov on the online diary prototype.

Those dear blog readers who've been watching the cricket over the weekend will know that there's been a fierce debate raging on Sky Sports about scones. As David Lloyd explained, in his Daily Scum Mail column: 'It is now official. The way to have your scone is with jam at the bottom and cream on top. Debate has raged here with e-mails flooding in from Devon and Cornwall but, after consultations with various media operatives, that is my final word. Next, mustard or horseradish with roast beef?' Yer actual Keith Telly Topping would go for soy sauce, personally, but whatever. 'There are plenty of posh restaurants in St John's Wood and I saw one menu on Saturday which included a main course of "grilled sea bass, courgettes, artichokes and monks beard." Not sure what the monk made of that. Me? Gopals Curry House, Soho!' Ah, Bumble, a man after my own heart-attack.

Channel Four News presenter and correspondent Samira Ahmed is to leave after eleven years. Ahmed joined ITN, which makes Channel Four News, in 2000 as a reporter before adding presenting responsibilities from 2002. She has been a presenter of the evening news, weekend programme and News at Noon – before Channel Four cancelled it at the end of 2009 – and was part of the documentary team behind 2003's Islam Unveiled. Ahmed, who is also the author of The New Feminism, intends to go freelance as a journalist, broadcaster and writer. Channel Four News announced last month that political correspondent Cathy Newman is to become the bulletin's third regular presenter alongside main anchor Jon Snow and co-host Krishnan Guru-Murthy. As part of the on-screen rejig, Channel Four News also hired Matt Frei and Jackie Long from the BBC to be Washington correspondent and social affairs editor, respectively.

James Arness, the actor best known for playing lawman Matt Dillon in long-running western TV show Gunsmoke, has died in Los Angeles at the age of eighty eight. Arness, who played the Dodge City marshal from 1955 to 1975, died from natural causes at his home on Friday. He also played the title role in SF classic The Thing from Another World. 'I had a wonderful life and was blessed with some many loving people and great friends,' he wrote in a letter posted posthumously on his official website. 'I had the privilege of working with so many great actors over the years.' Born James King Aurness in Minneapolis in 1923 of Norwegian and German lineage, Arness was the older brother of Mission: Impossible and Airplane! star Peter Graves. Drafted into the US Army during his first year in college, James was wounded in the leg during the 1944 invasion at Anzio, Italy and awarded the Purple Heart. According to James Arness – An Autobiography, he landed on Anzio Beachhead on 22 January 1944. Due to his height, he was the first ordered off his landing craft to determine the depth of the water; it came up to his waist. In 1945, having undergone surgery several times, Arness was honorably discharged. His wounds continued to bother him, and in later years Arness suffered from acute leg pain, which sometimes hurt when mounting a horse. Moving to Hollywood after the war, he had parts in scores of films before winning his Gunsmoke role, which he landed after John Wayne allegedly turned it down. He was a close friend of Wayne and co-starred with him in four movies, Big Jim McLain, Hondo, Island in the Sky and The Sea Chase. James's twenty-year run as Marshal Dillon remains an acting record, which Kelsey Grammer went on to equal by playing Frasier Crane for the same period of time, albeit in two different series. Prior to Law & Order, Gunsmoke was the longest-running dramatic series in US network history. He reprised the role in Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge (1987) and in four more made-for-TV Gunsmoke movies in the 1990s. In Europe Arness reached cult status for his role as Zeb Macahan in another western series How the West Was Won. In a statement, CBS, who produced the show, said Arness would 'always be remembered as one of the biggest stars in the history of television.' Arness - who stood six feet seven inches tall - is survived by his second wife Janet, two sons and six grandchildren. His first wife Virginia and their daughter Jenny both died of drug overdoses, two years apart.

The latest Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day, since we're into June and - therefore - in theory at least, summer, celebrates the Godlike Genius of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys. Kicking off with the first sign that Brian wrote songs about other subjects than surfing and cars.
Then, we started getting teenage symphonies to God. Well, to girls, anyway. (You've got to love this clip - especially what Mike Love and Dennis Wilson are wearing. There's not many guys can pull off pink.)
Ah, 1966. Pet Sounds. This is the stuff.
Paul McCartney called 'God Only Knows' 'the greatest pop song ever written,' and, as somebody who wrote a fair number of decent pop songs himself, that's probably an opinion worth listening to. Of slightly more interest here, is why is Mike Love auditioning for a place on the Politbüro.
Late '66, it all came together. The perfect mesh of three months in a studio, the best session men in California, a theremin, a lot and lots of dynamite weed produced something very close to the perfect record.
Of course, what happened next is well known. Brian spent so long on the follow-up (and, its attended LP) that he eventually went bonkers. It took him nearly four decades to recover. It was ultimately worthwhile, though!
But, having said that, if this had come out in the summer of 1967 - as originally intended - what a very different world it might have been.
Still, even after SMiLE imploded, they could still manage to make some sodding magnificent records. of which this is one.
And, if you're going down the beach this summer, dear blog reader, please remember yer Keith Telly Topping's tip, Factor 50 is your friend.