Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's Big And It's Hairy And I Be A'Feared Of It

There was yet another splendidly nasty episode of Luther on BBC1 last night. One in which a six inch nail, a hammer and a red hot poker were used as weapons of mass pant-plopping. If you missed it, Luther was, fairly obviously, devastated by the news that one of his colleagues has been abducted by the Punch-Mask serial killer and threw himself into the investigation, knowing that the mental-as-anything Cameron had an ultimate plan which was far more horrific than any of his previous murders. A desperate call from Caroline (Kierston Wareing, virtually unrecognisable to her legion of fans from The Shadow Line) forces Luther to put his investigation on hold, however. At Caroline's house he comes face-to-face with Baba (Pam Ferris playing very much against type), Jenny's ruthless and vengeful gang boss. Baba considers Jenny (another fabulous performance by Aimee Ffion Edwards who is rapidly becoming the best reason to watch this show) her property and wants compensation from Luther for taking Jenny from her. Luther must either help her or both Caroline and Jenny will die. Baba wants him to prevent a witness, currently held in a safehouse, from implicating her grandson, Toby, in a forthcoming trial. Unable to see an alternative, Luther agrees, frustrated at once again finding himself forced to act outside of accepted police procedure and without even a tasty little bung from a tabloid newspaper for his trouble. Despite a couple of contrivances in the plot which stretched credibility more than usual towards snapping point, the whole thing held together remarkably well and rattled along at a furious pace, with a gloriously tense chase sequence with the killer driving a minibus full of terrified schoolchildren. Terrific dialogue too. 'He's not going to hurt you Tim. You know why? Because if he does, I'm pretty certain to come over there and kill him! He's nothing. He's just a weak, little, pathetic man. Too weak to hurt anyone without wearing this.' Outstanding. Meanwhile, Idris Elba has revealed that Luther 'might well continue' beyond the current series. The actor told the CultBox website: 'We could have easily finished it at series one. It's a story that finishes right there and it's a heartbreaking story, but we felt that didn't do it justice. I don't know if series two is it either, I think we'll see more of Luther.' He continued: 'Series two will not finish in a way that you expect. You might say to yourself at the end of series two, there's a couple of questions I've got which haven't been answered yet. So it might well continue.' Which would be good.

BBC Worldwide has agreed a deal to bring a local version of Top Gear to South Korea, following the motoring show's debut in China earlier this year. CJ E&M, South Korea's biggest media conglomerate, will create a Korean version of Top Gear to air on men's lifestyle channel XTM. Top Gear Korea will be hosted by former professional racing driver Kim Jin-Pyo, car and bike enthusiast Kim Kap-Soo and Yeon Jung-Hoon, a member of the Korean celebrity racing circuit. The series will retain many of the core elements of the Top Gear format, including 'tame racing driver' The Stig and the challenges, including a planned race against the famous KTX 'bullet train' and an epic journey from Seoul to Busan. Top Gear Korea follows Zui Gaodong, the Chinese version of the popular motoring show which launched this year on Hunan TV. Adam Waddell, the managing director for Top Gear at BBC Worldwide, said: 'The Top Gear brand has a strong presence in South Korea, with the original UK version and the magazine already having successfully launched there. We're delighted that South Korean viewers will get to see their own local version, with a unique Korean spin on an internationally-renowned format.' XTM channel head Hwang Hye-Jung added: 'We're thrilled to have licensed the format for Top Gear, which is a tried and tested hit around the world. We hope to see our version of the show become a huge success in South Korea.' Top Gear is one of the BBC's most lucrative brands, with the UK version being licensed to one hundred and ninety eight territories globally and the format sold to Australia, Russia and the US. The brand helped commercial arm BBC Worldwide generate record profits of £145.2 million in the twelve months to 31 March last year, on revenue of just over one billion smackers. Tasty.

Torchwood creator Russell Davies has ruled out the possibility of the character of The Doctor ever appearing in the Doctor Who spin-off. The adult SF drama was spun off of the long running popular family show as a vehicle for John Barrowman's character Jack Harkness. Yet whilst that character has made regular return appearances to the main show, Davies has insisted the Time Lord would never return the favour. Asked at this week's series launch event about the possibility, he said: 'No, because actually The Doctor's never gone into Torchwood, it's always been the other way round, Torchwood's gone into Doctor Who, which is correct because there's a big child audience for Doctor Who and I think that would demand if we took The Doctor into Torchwood it would be a clash of styles.' Davies was speaking as the first episode of the new ten-part run, subtitled Miracle Day, received its premiere at London's BFI. The new series has an international flavour. A co-production with US network Starz, the new run was filmed in Los Angeles and takes the action from its Cardiff base across America. The series begins when one day, with no explanation, nobody on Earth dies. Davies said: 'This is a nice different kind of science fiction. Because often science fiction, it's the toys, it's the spaceship or the aliens or the laser beams, which we've done tons of in the past ourselves. But what I like about this year's version of Torchwood is that it's just a concept. There's some alien fun to come, but it's really taking an idea – that we all live forever – dropping it into the middle of society and just watching the waves go out and watching all of us react, watching how our society bends, how it falls, how it brings out the best of us and the worst of us.' Asked about the show's appeal, Davies pointed to a 'fluid sexuality, which in this genre is quite rare,' and added, 'I think no matter how serious it gets, there's a great sense of fun. It never loses its sense of humour, even in the darkest of moments, which I think is a very true thing of human nature, it's a very human survival instinct.' Meanwhile, Davies on Radio 4's Front Row said that he has written the first episode of his next original drama and that he believes it's 'the best thing I've written in a decade,' and also 'gay' and 'back to the kitchen sink.' Big Rusty is back! He didn't mention whether it had actually been commissioned yet, however.

Eagle-eared pop music fans among Springwatch's viewership - so, that's gotta be all of ... what, twelve people? - might have noticed Chris Packham shoehorning a variety of Manic Street Preacher song titles into this year's Springwatch. Chris, of course, has previous form in exactly this sort of thing. Last Springwatch it was The Cure, the year before it was The Smiths. He also has the habit of casually namechecking his favourite bands mid-episode - the current series' examples included The Jam and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Respect, geezer! For a bit of fun the BBC have edited together what they believe to be all of the Manics references into a video. The last one's the real giveaway, isn't it? From massive hits ('A Design For Life') to more rare singles ('Feminine Is Beautiful'), number ones ('If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next') to obscure b-sides ('Dead Trees and Traffic Islands'). Mind you, I'm stunned he didn't manage to work 'Die In The Summertime' in there. Or, did he and I just missed it? Okay, Chris, in the autumn your mission, should you choose to accept it, is twenty four Joy Divison references in twelve programmes, capiche?!

Oscar-nominated screenwriter Armando Iannucci has joined Baby Cow, the independent production company founded by Steve Coogan and Henry Normal. The Thick of It author becomes Baby Cow's new creative director with immediate effect, overseeing a slate of programming that includes Gavin & Stacey, The Shadow Line, Ideal and The Mighty Boosh. Working alongside joint managing directors Coogan and Normal, Iannucci will also be responsible for attracting and developing new talent. The appointment sees Iannucci reunited with Coogan, after they previously worked together on BBC2's hit comedies Knowing Me, Knowing You and I'm Alan Partridge. Coogan's Partridge character first appeared on Iannucci's early work with Chris Morris on Radio 4 show On the Hour, later transferring to TV on the classic The Day Today. Iannucci also masterminded political sitcom The Thick of It for BBC2 and its companion feature film In the Loop, which earned him an Oscar nomination. He is currently working on a political satire for US network HBO called Veep. 'We are delighted to be working with Armando Iannucci. He has one of the most respected misspelt names in comedy,' said Normal. Heh. Although, shouldn't that be 'mispelled' Henry? Coogan added: ;Despite his inherent Scottishness, over the last twenty years I have been inspired by and collaborated with Armando Iannucci. His joining Baby Cow builds on that. Armando has un-cynically always created work he believes in. That's what Baby Cow is about.' Celebrating his move, Iannucci commented: 'Baby Cow going forward has always championed good comedy, especially good comedy writing going forward. I want to make it the place the next generation of comedy writers and performers head to first; a place where they know they'll be encouraged and stimulated going forward.' Earlier in the month, the BBC agreed a twelve-month partnership with Baby Cow to develop new comedy scripts for production at its BBC North base.

One of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite actors, Terry O'Quinn has signed on for a recurring role in Hawaii Five-0. The Lost actor will portray a Navy Seal Lt Commander who trained Alex O'Loughlin's character Steve McGarrett, according to TV Line. The character will reportedly answer some of the many questions pertaining to the mystery of who murdered McGarrett's mother and paid bad James Marsters - and his curiously Germanic Irish accent, begorrah - to kill his father. O'Quinn had joined a pilot called Hallelujah in March, but the show appears not to have been picked up by ABC. In 2010, the fifty nine-year-old was cast in Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story opposite Oscar-nominated actress Taraji P Henson. Apart from his scene-stealing role as John Locke in Lost, O'Quinn has also previously appeared in The West Wing, The X-Files, Millennium and Alias.

Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox's Lewis has been picked up for another series by ITV. The Inspector Morse spin-off, which has been a regular ratings hit for the broadcaster, features Whately and Fox as Oxford's Inspector Robbie Lewis and DS James Hathaway. Three new titles for the series have been revealed as Generation of Vipers, The Age of Foolishness and Death of the Author. Vipers has been written by Patrick Harbinson, while Rachel Bennette, Simon Block and Russell Lewis teamed up for the other episodes. 'Lewis and Hathaway have become a formidable partnership not only in terms of cracking murders cases, but also in terms of their popularity with ITV viewers,' said ITV's controller of drama commissioning Sally Haynes. 'We're thrilled they are returning to work on some great new stories.' Executive producer Michele Buck said: 'Lewis and Hathaway's partnership has grown in popularity with every series as viewers enjoy the fine writing, acting and excellent production values Lewis has to offer.'

Gabby Logan will join Channel Five later this month as the host of a new weekday spin-off of The Wright Stuff. The former BBC Radio 5Live presenter will host The Wright Stuff Extra with Gabby Logan, which will serve as a sister show to Matthew Wright's -allegedly - popular daytime series. 'I am really looking forward to joining the team at Channel Five and excited to be hosting a live show where anything can happen,' Logan said. 'The Wright Stuff is a daytime TV institution and I can't wait to continue the conversation every weekday morning.' Channel Five Head of News Andrew O'Connell added: 'Gabby Logan is a respected, insightful and talented broadcaster and we are delighted that she has joined Channel Five to host her own live daytime show. I know Gabby is someone that our audience will be drawn to watch.' The show will see Logan joined by a different expert each day to discuss a variety of topical issues, alongside the usual phone-ins and studio audience interaction. The Final Score presenter left her 5Live slot in April and was replaced by Shelagh Fogarty.

This summer, things are 'getting epic on Saturday nights on BBC1,' according to a rather horrific-sounding BBC press release, as Alexander Armstrong 'challenges some of the nation's quirkier unsung heroes to present their powers to the people' in a series called Epic Win. From a man who can read hundreds of barcodes, to high-speed mobility scooter racing, plus men who can identify species of fish just by having them slapped in their face – 'no challenge is too weird, wacky and wonderful' (and, possibly, too undignified) for this show. Each week these individuals will perform their unique skills in front of a studio audience and a panel fronted by stand-up comedian Micky Flanagan and award-winning new comedian Joe Lycett. Both of whom are, at least, very funny - as, indeed, is Xander himself so this might not be the total waste of time and talent that it sounds from what we've been told so far. Each week they will also be joined by another guest. Following the 'heroic' - it says here - challenges, each panellist will put a secret cash value on our unsung heroes' talents of up to one thousand quid, making a total jackpot of three grand. The challenger then has to guess how much the panel thinks that they're worth - much as prostitutes do - facing an 'automatic increasing totaliser.' Okay, I think we're getting perilously close to Don't Scare The Hare territory here. If they guess correctly, they get the total amount. If they guess below the amount, they get whatever they have guessed. But, if they over-estimate their worth, they walk away with nothing and exit through the 'epic fail' door. Possibly with a noose attached to their necks, although the press release doesn't make this clear. Katie Taylor, Head of In-house Entertainment and Events, who should be sodding well ashamed of herself, says: 'BBC In-house Entertainment is proud to bring the UK's unsung heroes and their quirky talents to BBC1's Saturday night audiences in Epic Win. What's not to like about a fishmonger who when blindfolded can identify different types of fish whilst being slapped around the face?' Errr... do you want a list, Katie? Epic Win is a BBC Entertainment production for BBC1. It was commissioned by Controller of BBC1, Danny Cohen and devised by Andy Brereton. The BBC executive producer is Antonia Hurford-Jones.

Anthony Head has revealed that he is looking forward to reprising his original role on NBC's remake of the UK comedy Free Agents. The actor played sex-obsessed PR boss Stephen in the Channel Four series and will also appear in the new NBC version. Head told the Digital Spy website: 'The character is basically very un-PC. There's nothing right about him. he's extremely rude and extremely inappropriate in all ways.' He added: 'It is going to be [on] NBC, mainstream TV, so the degree [to which] we can play that card [will] be interesting.' The former Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor also suggested that the extended length of the US television season could mean that NBC's Free Agents has 'shallower' story arcs than the original. Head explained: 'The first season's thirteen episodes, but the British one, the first season was six episodes long. So, the arcs have got to be shallower and the basic premise has got to span a much greater story arc. Hopefully that'll mean that there's more play for the other [characters].'

BBC World Service is to receive an extra £2.2m per year over the next three years from the government. The funding boost will be used to maintain BBC Arabic Service's 'valuable work in the region,' Foreign Secretary and slimy ignorant slaphead William Hague said. The BBC will also reallocate an additional nine million quid to safeguard the Hindi language short wave service. It comes after the government cut sixteen per cent of the World Service's two hundred and seventy million pounds budget as part of last year's spending review. In a written statement to MPs, Billy Fizz said: 'It is right that we should look at ways in which we can assist the BBC Arabic Service to continue their valuable work in the region. I have agreed that we will provide additional funding of £2.2m per annum to enable the World Service to maintain the current level of investment.' Hague said although the original sixteen per cent cut was 'fair and proportionate' - which it wasn't, or anything even remotely like it - he had reconsidered the decision in response to recent events in the Middle East and North Africa. 'We recognise that the world has changed since the settlement was announced in October last year,' he said. Hague added that the Foreign Office was' in discussion' with the Arab Partnership Initiative to fund specific BBC Arabic Service or World Service projects which could create an additional investment of £1.65m over the next two years. Earlier this month, the new BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten told the Sunday Torygraph that he would lobby the government over its funding of the World Sevice, which will end in 2014 and be taken over by the BBC. He said the Arabic, Hindi and Somali services are 'core' to the broadcasting operation. However, the corporation announced in January it would close five of its thirty two World Service language services as part of its plan to cut spending by twenty per cent after last year's licence fee settlement. Radio programming in seven other languages including Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Turkish were also hit, while other services would be scaled back. The BBC Trust welcomed the government's announcement, adding the reallocation of nine million smackers of BBC money over three years would 'mitigate the impact of recent funding cuts. Together, this additional funding will help provide support to some priority frontline services. It will also allow a small amount of investment in new activities, in particular on new platforms and in emerging markets,' it added. The Foreign Office website initially headlined the announcement Massive U-turn on BBC World Service funding, but it was subsequently changed to BBC World Service Funding Review after somebody in authority saw it. A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said that the headline 'did not reflect government views' and that 'disciplinary action was being taken.' Ooo, somebody's going to get a spanking.

Sir David Frost is to revisit his famous interview with former US president Richard Nixon in a special BBC2 programme Frost on Nixon. Frost will be interviewed by Joan Bakewell and the channel will also show the original 1977 Watergate interview - one of the most extraordinary hours of TV you will ever see. BBC2 will also screen the 2008 film Frost/Nixon, Peter Morgan's dramatisation directed by Ron Howard and starring Michael Sheen as the English TV personality gambling all in the US on landing an interview with the former president (played by Frank Langella), who had been forced to resign over the Watergate scandal. The Frost/Nixon programmes were unveiled as part of BBC2's summer and autumn season, which also includes a series of shows looking at money and the mysteries of the business world. Acclaimed playwright and director Stephen Poliakoff is returning to BBC2. Dancing on the Edge, a five-part drama about a black jazz band in 1930s London, is to begin shooting in October with transmission next year. It follows the fortunes of a group of musicians as they play to members of the capital's social elite, and their experiences as they are at first shunned but then embraced by polite society. Robert Peston, the BBC's business editor, will front The Party's Over – How The West Lost the War of Globalisation, while Ian Hislop - whose previous documentaries for BBc2 and BBc4 have all been extraordinarily good - explores attitudes to money and morality in the Nineteenth Century in When Bankers Were Good. Vanessa Engle will also investigate personal attitudes to finance in new series Money, while Dragons' Den judge Peter Jones gives an insight into high-end business in How We Made Our Millions. BBC2's other key focus later this year will be a season about mixed-race people living in the UK. George Alagiah will front Mixed Britannia, a biopic drama which will tell the life story of Dame Shirley Bassey and Twincredibles will explore the genetic phenomenon that leads to twins being born with different skin colour. In addition, BBC2 will look at international events later in 2011 with three films about a decade of conflict in Afghanistan. John Ware will present War Without End, Mark Urban tells the story of The Battle for Helmand and Lyse Doucet looks at Afghanistan's terrain and people in Unknown Country. Upcoming BBC2 documentaries include the first ever one exploring the life of Sir Jonathan Miller and a feature-length programme about the World Irish Dancing Championships. Dramas include The Night Watch, adapted from Sarah Waters' best-selling novel, while BBC2's comedy line-up includes Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's new show starring dwarf actor Warwick Davies, Life's Too Short. Which sounds about as funny as a nasty dose of urinary tract infection, quite frankly but, hey, you can't have everything. Where would you keep it? In popular entertainment, quiz Qi will return for a sixteen part ninth series concentrating on subjects beginning with the letter 'i', along with The Rob Brydon Show and more chat from Frank Skinner and Ruth Jones. The BBC2 controller, Janice Hadlow, said: 'BBC2's intelligent approach to a range of subjects and the talent that provide its distinctive voice and tone are its strength and appeal. I hope these forthcoming programmes will round off a great year for BBC2.'

Shaolin monk Matthew Ahmet will train youngsters in the skills of discipline and respect for Kung Fu Saved My Life, a new show airing on Sky1 in August. Martial arts master Ahmet will mentor youngsters from inner-city estates around the UK and showcase a life without violence, crime, drugs and underachievement. Sky1's series takes what it admits is a 'risky approach' to 'hoodie culture and anti-social behaviour' in the UK. Ahmet, who was born in London, will attempt to pass on his Shaolin philosophy and get the twelve participants to use their aggression positively. The twelve men and women from rough-tough estates in London, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds will be taught by kung fu masters in Hong Kong and given physical endurance training that will push them to their limit when they're kung fu fighting. One imagines it might, indeed, be a little bit frightening. 'I want to show these kids that the choices they make affect not just their lives, but those of their families and others around them,' said Ahmet. 'The goal of life - happiness - is in their hands and only they are responsible for reaching out and finding it.' Kung Fu Saved My Life is made by Optomen Television, whose credits include The F Word, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and Mary, Queen of Shops.

The character of Keith Lemon is to pilot his own show for ITV as the broadcaster looks to establish the Celebrity Juice host as 'a prime time Saturday star.' This, despite the fact that he isn't real. The character, created by Leigh Francis, will host Keith Lemon's Bang Tidy Show, which will aim to recreate the 'off the wall' tone that has made ITV2’s Celebrity Juice 'a break-out hit.' With ITV2 viewers. Enough said. The Talkback Thames-produced pilot will feature celebrity guests, a talking orangutan, audience games and prizes and a 'supermarket in the future' staffed by old celebrities. Sounds ... yeah, it does, doesn't it? The show will end with a performance from Lemon and his star guest. Suggestions for the song that might become the series' regular show-ender include 'Money For Nothing', Roxy Music's 'Trash' and The Pop Group's 'We Are All Prostitutes.' ITV has been on the hunt for other vehicles for Lemon after it is understood he was 'well received' by viewers when hosting Sing If You Can earlier this year. Bang Tidy Show was ordered by Claire Zolkwer, ITV commissioning editor, comedy and entertainment, and will be filmed at London Studios next month.

Nadine Coyle has reportedly been over heard calling her Girls Aloud bandmate Cheryl Cole 'a failure.' Which might well be true but, given the complete to utter ruddy disaster that has been Nadine's own Tesco-only solo career so far, I'd've said that's a bit pot calling the kettle sort of blackish.

BBC management proposals to either axe or change channels such as BBC3 or BBC4 without a lengthy public consultation have been dealt a blow after government ministers said they were 'not persuaded' by the idea. The corporation has been considering closing or significantly altering some services, including BBC3 and BBC4, but fear a consultation will allow time for a popular protest similar to the one last year that led to the reprieve of threatened digital radio station BBC 6Music. BBC executives are, according to the Gruniad Morning Star, looking at ways to find savings of about twenty per cent following last autumn's settlement with the government, which led to a six-year licence fee freeze at £145.50 annually – a sixteen per cent decline in income in real terms. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the BBC have held secret talks - only, now that everybody knows about them, they're no longer really very secret - about changing the corporation's agreement so it can close or alter a service without conducting a so-called 'public value test' – a lengthy consultation that it has to undertake if it wants to launch or axe a channel or service. According to 'sources' quoted by the Gruniad Morning Star, the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt, is 'not keen' on the idea as it will likely 'reflect badly' on the government if a BBC service is axed because of or directly related to the licence fee settlement. You think? A DCMS spokeswoman said: 'Ministers are not persuaded that there is a case for changing the public value test provisions in the BBC agreement.' However, a BBC Trust spokeswoman insisted that talks are still taking place and said no final decision had been made by the DCMS. If the ministers continue to refuse it will be harder for the corporation to axe or radically change a service, which appears to be good news for BBC3. It is likely that a full public consultation would lead to a huge outcry among BBC3's audience. Its ratings regularly beat those of rival commercial channel E4 and at times, among young audiences, is snapping at the heels of Channel Four. BBC3 has also proved a nursery slope for hit BBC comedies, such as Gavin & Stacey and Little Britain and shown acclaimed documentaries that transferred to BBC1, including Small Teen, Big World and Junior Doctors: You Life in Their Hands. 'Insiders', the Gruniad claims, say that making BBC4 more of an 'archive channel' is also being looked at, along with the option of putting a service online or broadband only. According to The Sunday Times and the Sun, the BBC is considering dropping Formula 1 in order to ensure the continuation of BBC4 although there has been no confirmation of this from within the BBC. The corporation's contract with F1 runs out in November 2013 and the sport could well be heading Sky's way anyway with the news earlier this year that News Corp is in talks with Carlos Slim, said to be the world's richest man, about making a joint bid for the control of the sport. A BBC spokesman said: 'We are not going to get drawn into a running commentary – no decisions have been taken and therefore these reports remain speculation. Any decisions coming out of the process would be subject to approval by the BBC Trust.'

With his arrival on ITV still awaited, Jonathan Ross is already making trouble for a fellow ex-BBC presenter, in a way that is unlikely to please the network's director of television, Peter Fincham, himself a fugitive from the Beeb. In an interview with Alan Carr on Friday on Channel Four, Alan Titchmarsh's cringe-inducing pre-tea ITV chat show – and its mostly Octogenarian audience – came up, prompting Ross to spikily comment that among his future viewers 'I'm going to have, hopefully, some people going through the menopause but not exclusively.' Burn.

Further to yesterday's piece about the Daily Lies seeming obsession with Ryan Giggs. Just for the record, after fourteen successive days of front page articles involving Ryan Giggs, the Lies have relegated poor Ryan to a single column front page side-bar continued inside - on page three - Giggs girl's fury over sex traitor. What story could possibly have pushed Ryan off the front page, I hear your ask, dear blog reader? Well, it's another story involving a footballer, headlined Ashley Cole's secret love in Big Bro. The most important thing in the world as far as readers of the Daily Lies is concerned, apparently, isn't going on in Libya or Belfast but, rather in the Big Brother House. It's a classic example of recent Richard Desmond-style journalism, because it includes not only football and sex but, also, a reference to a programme on his TV outlet, Channel Five. The story also contained this wonderful contradiction. In paragraph two we're informed: 'Former lap-dancer Sarah Purnell hopes to tell all about her romps with England ace Ashley Cole on new Channel Five show Big Brother.' Yet, in paragraph seven: 'Birmingham babe Sarah said: "I want to recover my reputation. I want people to see me for who I am and not just the girl who dated Ashley."' Somebody, somewhere is going to be very disappointed, I'm thinking.

And speaking of Richard Desmond, not many newspapers seem to have noticed a comment made about the proprietor of Express Newspapers and owner of Channel Five, in evidence to a parliamentary committee on 13 June. He was said to be 'a violent and fundamentally dishonest man, exactly like Robert Maxwell.' Strong stuff. The comment came during evidence to joint committee on the draft defamation bill by Tom Bower, author of a biography of Desmond entitled Rough Trader. 'I have brought the book with me, as I really want you to see it,' he told the committee before explaining that it had not been published because of legal action by Desmond: 'Here is a man who is very rich and very powerful, who used the libel laws to suppress the publication of my biography of him because it showed him to be a violent and fundamentally dishonest man, exactly like Robert Maxwell.' Bower went on to tell the committee about having been sued for libel by Desmond over a single paragraph in another of his books, one about the former Torygraph group owner, Conrad Black: 'He was able to launch a libel action against me but not against the publisher, which is exactly what Robert Maxwell, Richard Branson and many others did, thinking that I, by myself, would not have the financial ability to defend the case. Fortunately, I anticipated those sort of problems and the publisher and insurer stepped in.' Bower said that the overall cost of the Desmond case was four and a half million pounds. Bower's concern is that the reforms outlined in the draft libel bill would not help him get his book published. 'It has been legalled and set for printing,' he said. 'Every publisher in London is not afraid of publishing the truth, and neither are the insurers afraid of financing the defamation action. However, the time, costs and the fact that the complications within the trial process make it impossible to produce the book and sell it without consuming a huge amount of effort and time. That is where we are.' Bower was sued in 1988 by Maxwell over his biography Maxwell: The Outsider, which declared - rightly, as it turned out - that the Mirra group publisher was a crook. It was withdrawn from sale at the time but, after Maxwell's death a year later, it became a best-seller. Since, of course, it is impossible to libel a dead person. Bower said: 'My suggestion is that you must include in the bill a presumption of the interests of publication, as in the First Amendment in America, and that the threshold for someone like a public figure — whether Richard Desmond, an oligarch, or anyone — is to prove that the author or publishers are motivated by malice. Once that threshold is discussed and decided, you can go into the issues of whether it is true or whether a reputation has been affected. Until you get to that presumption, I do not think that you are handling the problem.' Bower also accused the Desmond trial judge, David Eady, of being 'unreasonably prejudiced' and claimed that he 'was determined to find for Desmond.' In July 2009, Desmond lost his case against Bower when the jury returned a majority verdict rejecting his defamation claim.

Central Tonight the local news programme from ITV Central in the Midlands has been taken to the woodshed by television regulator Ofcom. During a broadcast of the half-hour news programme, broadcast on 2 May, a report on the company River Canal Rescue has been deemed to breach the broadcasting code. Comments made within the piece lead to a viewer complaining to Ofcom that the news item was 'a blatant advert' for RCR. ITV Central told Ofcom that the feature had not been broadcast in return for payment or other valuable consideration, adding that 'all costs incurred in producing the report were paid by ITV.' The offending comments within the report include ITV Central describing RCR as 'the AA of the waterways' and 'the only company in the country offering breakdown cover for boaters,' as well as stating that 'River Canal Rescue have more than four hundred engineers on call across the country, covering three thousand miles of waterway, twenty-four hours a day.' The report also contained an RCR customer offering her personal endorsement of the company 'There's usually something during a season that goes wrong, but at least you know that, wherever you are, they're a phone call away, so you can relax in the knowledge that somebody that knows what they're doing will be out and sort your problem out for you.' In their defence ITV Central stated, 'the bank holiday period at the end of April is one of the busiest times on the waterways, and the canals in the Midlands form a major part of the leisure and tourism in the region, narrowboating being a popular pastime there. For these reasons, the Central News team thought a story about narrowboating, the safety issues it can raise and the unique work a local company does in this area would be of interest to its viewers.' But, Ofcom wasn't buying that malarkey. ITV Central said its news team had been mindful of Code requirements concerning commercial references on television and a number of edits had been made 'to reduce the number of times RCR and its logo were referred to and to ensure that information given about the company was factual,' not promotional. Ofcom feel that 'the celebration of a unique local business's tenth anniversary may provide editorial justification for a report in a local news programme, especially where it is associated with a popular local leisure activity, such as boating. In this instance, however, Ofcom does not consider that the report merely addressed "narrowboating, the safety issues it can raise and the unique work a local company does in [the] area," as ITV Central's news team intended.' Ofcom furthermore stated that they considered 'visual references to RCR's name and logo were appropriately limited' and the regulator accepted that the report did not refer to the featured company in superlatives or provide significant detail of its cover or its prices. However the comments within the report, Ofcom feel, were typical of those generally used for promotional purposes in advertisements. Given the brevity of the report Ofcom considered it promoted RCR's services in programming, in breach of Rule 9.4 of the Ofcom Code. Further, even though the locally-based businesses tenth anniversary may have provided some editorial justification for being a news item, the report itself appeared principally to promote RCR, given the manner in which the above references to it were made. These references were therefore unduly prominent in programming, in breach of Rule 9.5 of the Code.

Around thirty million litres of water have been flushed from a reservoir after a man was caught urinating into it. Josh Seater, twenty one, was with four friends when surveillance cameras filmed him relieving himself in Portland, Oregon. Some of his friends were also throwing objects into the reservoir, the Oregonian reports. The decision to drain the water has been defended by Portland officials. David Shaff of the Water Bureau said: 'Nobody wants to drink pee, and I don't want to deal with the one hundred people who would be unhappy that I'm serving them pee in their water.' Seater was not arrested or charged for his action, and admitted to KATU-TV that he felt guilty afterwards. He said: 'I knew I did wrong when I did it.'

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, lorks-a-Lordy it's only the bleedin' Stylistics, innit?

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