Monday, July 25, 2011

Break Your Back To Earn Your Pay And Don't Forget To Grovel

'Let's stop making this rubbish and make that instead.' Thus spake yer man the actual Jason Clarkson after he and his cohorts - Roger St Hammond and James Steed - had just created the finest title-sequence-in-search-of-a-show-to-go-with-it in TV history. Yer Keith Telly Topping demands - demands, I say - a full series of twenty six episodes of The Interceptors now. Or, you now, if not that then at least a new episode of Top Gear next week to conclude the current series instead.
The Top Gear episode's overnight audience of 4.9m viewers on BBC2 and BBC HD was, impressively, higher than anything on ITV for the entire evening and was only topped on BBC1 by the BBC News with 5.4m. The best ITV could manage was the 4.5m who watched Law & Order: UK.

And, speaking of ratings, here's the Top Twenty programmes week ending 17 July 2011:
1 The Apprentice: The Final - BBC1 Sun - 10.24m
2 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 8.90m
3 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 8.80m
4 New Tricks - BBC1 Mon - 8.69m
5 Top Gear - BBC2 Sun - 7.14m
6 Emmerdale - ITV Mon - 6.63m
7 Torchwood: Miracle Day - BBC1 Thurs - 6.59m
8 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 6.18m
9 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 5.74m
10 The National Lottery: In It To Win It - BBC1 Sat - 5.46m
11 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.37m
12 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 5.21m
13 Law & Order: UK - ITV Sun - 5.11m
14 Antiques Roadshow - BBC1 Sun - 5.07m
15 The Royal - ITV Sun - 4.90m
16 Tonight's The Night - BBC1 Sat - 4.70m
17 Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? - ITV Fri - 4.65m
18 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 4.42m
19 ITV News - ITV Sun - 4.36m
20 Crimewatch UK - BBC1 Tues - 4.29m

A new image and trailer for the sixth season of Doctor Who have been released. The publicity image, which first appeared on BBC America's Doctor Who website, features The Doctor (Matt Smith) standing in front of an Egyptian pyramid. Wearing a long, dark green coat, he is accompanied by Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and River Song (Alex Kingston). The quartet are flanked by a member of The Silence and the mysterious 'Impossible Astronaut' seen in the first half of the season.
The return date for Doctor Who in the UK and US has been revealed at Comic-Con 2011. The popular family SF drama's sixth series will be back on BBC1 and BBC America on 27 August, the panel of Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, writer Toby Whithouse and outgoing executive producers Piers Wenger and Beth Willis confirmed. Smith and Gillan further revealed that fans could expect 'huge cliffhangers' and the disclosure of some unexpected 'secrets' when Doctor Who's remaining six episodes will be broadcast. 'My secret, I've still got. And you still don't know it,' Gillan said of her character Amy Pond's future. 'It's so exciting! I feel so powerful now.' 'Steven [Moffat]'s told Karen something about ... we can't even say what it's about,' Smith teased. 'She's told me what it's about, but she won't say what it is.' Doctor Who's first two episodes back will be entitled Let's Kill Hitler and Night Terrors. The eleventh episode of the sixth season, written by Whithouse, is titled The God Complex. Smith has spoken of his desire to see a 'darker side' to Doctor Who. The actor stated that he would like to see the Time Lord acknowledge the amount of blood on his hands. 'I think that's why he's so bubbly and cheery, and has to keep going,' Smith suggested. 'If he didn't, if he stopped, he'd have to contemplate losing all these people. I think there'll be a lot more.' His co-star Karen Gillan added that The Doctor would start facing the consequences of his actions. 'I think in episode ten, we see some of The Doctor's dark side,' she said. 'Rule number one: The Doctor lies. That's going to be explored.' Smith also shared his hope that the Dream Lord (Toby Jones) from series five would make a reappearance to confront The Doctor with his past. 'He's one of my favourite actors. I'd love to get him back, with a bigger army behind him. If you look at the blood on The Doctor's hands over the ages, there's so much of it.'
Senior government officials working with Andy Coulson believed that he did have the highest security clearance, it is claimed, raising questions over whether the prime minister's former aide was improperly granted access to the most sensitive information. Last week it emerged that the former editor of the News of the World had not undergone the most intensive vetting on becoming the prime minister's director of communications and so was working without the highest level of clearance. This should have restricted his access to some documents. But Labour MP Chris Bryant told the Observer that he had been informed by senior officials they had believed Coulson was working with the same security clearance as had been held by Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's press security, who underwent the toughest vetting procedures, which are known as developed vetting. The development raises the question of whether Coulson, who was given the lesser clearance known as security clearance, was allowed access that his security status did not warrant. David Cameron has already admitted that he did not know Coulson, who was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of phone hacking and corruption, had only received the mid-range vetting until six months ago. Bryant, who along with Tom Watson (power to the people!) has been pursuing the phone-hacking case in parliament, said: 'Officials have told me Coulson had the same security clearance as any other director of communications would need, which would allow him to see security sensitive material. Yet we now know Coulson was never properly vetted – and if he had been he probably wouldn't have passed. It's one thing for Cameron to be cavalier with the Tory party's plans, quite another when it comes to national security.' The Labour party has asked if the reason for giving Coulson only the lower-level clearance was to prevent information about his past coming to light. Coulson was subject only to the standard level of scrutiny, including a check of whether he had a criminal record, and of his financial history and family background. The high level of clearance involves more detailed probing of an individual's circumstances, including interviews with the subject and with friends and family members. Coulson did begin high-security vetting in November, about three months before he resigned as David Cameron's director of communications. It was decided that Coulson needed it following communication problems surrounding the discovery of an explosive device on an aircraft at East Midlands airport in October 2010. Downing Street has denied that anything discovered during this vetting process had anything to do with Coulson's resignation. On Saturday a spokesman referred to a letter to shadow minister Ivan Lewis from cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell, in which O'Donnell said that he had supported Coulson's initial level of vetting and that Cameron's former press aide had subsequently been willing to undergo the more intrusive process. The letter said: 'I can assure you that Mr Coulson was very happy to participate fully in securing DV. The decision on the timing of this process was taken purely on the basis of business requirements and his resignation had nothing to do with this.' A Downing Street spokesperson said that Coulson 'complied with the code of conduct' when he was in government.

Legal letters sent by the News of the World to detectives have cast doubt on News International's repeated claims that the company 'co-operated fully' with the police inquiry into phone hacking. In the letters, which have been seen by the Gruniad, the Murdoch-controlled tabloid states that 'extensive searches' had been carried out but the company could find only a single piece of paper covering the years of work by the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. Detectives who began investigating in 2006 the extent of phone hacking at the paper wrote to News International to ask for information about 'co-conspirators' of Mulcaire and the News of the World reporter Clive Goodman. They were pressing for information on who, exactly, Mulcaire worked for, and to whom he had provided information. Scotland Yard were investigating Mulcaire and the paper's royal editor Clive Goodman for phone hacking and had written to the News of the World asking for information and details as they tried to identify 'all persons that may be involved including and fellow conspirators.' Publicly, top NI executives have claimed at several appearances in front of MPs to have 'co-operated fully' with police. But the letters from NI's lawyers to police appear to challenge those assertions. It was only four years later that the company handed over other material to police suggesting that phone hacking was wider than just one 'rogue' reporter, the story which NI had stuck to rigidly since 2006. The revelations come as James Murdoch is under increased pressure over his knowledge of a document which appears to show that another reporter, Neville Thurlbeck, had knowledge of the practice. Murdoch claimed before MPs not to have known about that document, only for two former NI executives to contradict him on Thursday. Murdoch says that he stands by his evidence to MPs. On Wednesday, an all-party group of MPs on the home affairs committee found that NI had 'deliberately' tried to 'thwart' justice. According to the letters that have now come to light, by August 2006, NI had produced and handed over to police paperwork covering payments to Mulcaire. On 31 August 2006, BCL Burton Copeland, lawyers for the paper's owners, said: 'My clients intends to provide such material as you … might reasonably require from them in connection with your inquiries.' On 7 September 2006, police wrote back. A detective asked for more information as police decided to identify 'co-conspirators' involved in phone hacking. The Metropolitan police wrote: 'Who does Mr Mulcaire work for? Has he completed work for other editors/journalists at News of the World? Can we have a copy of any other records for work completed by Mulcaire for these editors/journalists, including the subjects on whom he might have provided information?' The detective then explains why the police want this information: 'The investigation is attempting to identify all persons that may be involved.' On 14 September 2006, Burton Copeland replied to a detective sergeant at the Met's anti-terrorism branch which was conducting the investigation, because it is responsible for royal security. By this time, they said, they'd 'had an opportunity to take full instructions in relations to the material held by Newsgroup Newspapers Limited,' the legal entity that owned the News of the World. The lawyers wrote: 'In fact very little documentary or other material in relation to Mr Mulcaire, Nine Consultancy Limited [Mulcaire'sMulcaire and the tabloid. 'Extensive searches have revealed the existence of only one piece of paper, enclosed herewith. No documents exist recording any work completed by Mr Mulcaire, monitoring of Mr Mulcaire's return of work, reporting structures or any persons for whom Mr Mulcaire provided information.' That last statement has proved to be incorrect as the paper had in its possession an agreement to pay a 'Paul Williams,' a pseudonym used by Mulcaire, for work on Gordon Taylor, the Professional Fooballers' Association chairman. It was signed for the paper by Greg Miskiw. It went on to say that it could not provide an 'itemised' breakdown of phone calls from individual extensions. It claimed that 'will amount to confidential journalistic material.' It said that the company 'wishes fully to assist your investigation and does not require any formal court order for the provision of any material. They are however entirely satisfied that the material to which you are entitled is limited and that you are now, along with material previously submitted, in possession of all relevant documentation.' Mulcaire received over one hundred thousand pounds in payments from the paper, some in cash. Police have said that they were given advice from the Crown Prosecution Service and their own lawyers suggesting they fell short of having grounds for a 'production order,' requiring material to be handed over. So they had to write to NI merely 'requesting' material. The police told MPs that the company had carefully 'crafted letters' to ensure that detectives could not use them as evidence of obstruction and thus seek a court order compelling the production of material. Peter Clarke, who oversaw the first investigation, told the home affairs committee earlier this month that he thought NI had tried to obstruct justice. Clarke said NI's size and wealth to afford the best legal advice had been a factor in his investigation, which he said was also hampered by the law. Clarke said: 'This is a major global organisation with access to the best legal advice, in my view deliberately trying to thwart a police investigation. If at any time News International had offered some meaningful co-operation instead of prevarication and what we now know to be lies, we would not be here today.' BCL Burton Copeland said it would not comment on work carried out on behalf of a client. It is usual practice for lawyers to be acting on the instructions of their clients. Meanwhile, the Daily Torygraph has a report on Andy Hayman, one of the former senior Scotland Yard officers accused of failing to properly investigate phone hacking, which claims that he took News of the World journalists out for lunch, dinner and drinks on his Metropolitan police credit card.

Sir Hugh Orde, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, has lambasted Rupert Murdoch, suggesting that the chairman of News Corporation had shown 'a complete denial of responsibility' for what had gone on in his company. He contrasted Murdoch's behaviour with the leadership shown by Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan police commissioner who quit last week over his indirect links with former News of the World editors. Orde is tipped as a possible replacement for Stephenson, and it is the second time in a few days that he has attacked the irresponsibility of News Corps. Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Orde said 'You saw the chief officer of the police service of this country, Sir Paul Stephenson, saying, "Look this happened on my watch. I am responsible. I am therefore … It's on my watch. I am resigning." Compare that to Rupert Murdoch – complete denial of any responsibility of his organisation.' Writing in Jane's Police Review at the weekend, Orde said: 'What we have seen over the last few days is police officers standing up, explaining their actions and decisions and being held to account for them. Across the country, in serving our communities, police officers expect to have to do no less. It is a stark contrast to the way in which others have sought to meet their responsibilities.' News Corporation can respond that top executives have now stepped down, notably Les Hinton, chief executive of News International at the time of the phone hacking, and his successor, Rebekah Brooks. The culture select committee is due to meet on Friday – when it releases a report on football governance – to discuss how to handle the apparent conflict of evidence between James Murdoch, News Corps International chief executive, and other former News International executives, including Colin Myler, the former editor of the now-closed News of the World. Myler said he did show a crucial e-mail – known as the 'For Neville' e-mail – to James Murdoch before News International's decision to pay out around seven hundred thousand smackers to Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association in an out-of-court settlement after Taylor threatened to sue the paper. James Murdoch insisted he did not know about the e-mail, but Myler and Tom Crone, the News Group's former head of legal affairs, have claimed that he is mistaken. The culture select committee members said that they hoped to write to Myler and Crone seeking clarification of their comments. They will also be writing to the firm of solicitors Harbottle & Lewis to ask the firm to explain the origins of a 'carefully crafted' letter dated 29 May 2007 claiming that it had not found 'reasonable evidence' that senior editors were aware of the actions of Clive Goodman – the royal reporter who went to prison for phone hacking -or that 'others were carrying out similar illegal procedures.' Harbottle & Lewis reviewed e-mails from the accounts of Andy Coulson and five other individuals, according to documents published by the culture select committee. A request for information will also be sent to Lawrence Abramson, a former senior partner at the law firm. The firm of solicitors is not yet clear whether it has legal immunity from News Corps to discuss the exchanges. Committee members want to ask for evidence from Jon Chapman, News International's former director of legal affairs, about his knowledge of the level of phone hacking. It has been suggested that in 2007 Chapman and Daniel Cloke, then News International's human resources director, reviewed the e-mails between the six named News of the World members of staff before sending them to Harbottle & Lewis. It is thought unlikely that the committee will meet in public before September, but this does not prevent compilation of written evidence. In a separate development, an opinion poll carried out by YouGov for the Sunday Times showed the proportion of people who believed David Cameron was performing 'well' had fallen to thirty nine per cent while his 'performing badly' figure at fifty five per cent was the worst of his premiership. News Corp management and standards committee has written to all News International staff ordering them to retain all e-mails and documents regarded as a relevant to police and parliamentary inquiries into phone hacking. The e-mail reads: 'If you are uncertain whether a document is relevant or falls within the definition of "document," you should preserve it. Care should be taken to avoid overwriting any electronic file that might be relevant.'

The Independent has a short interview with culture committee member Tommy Watson (power to the people!), seen by many as having been particularly dogged in investigating phone hacking. Interestingly, Watson credits social media with fuelling much of the public outrage over the issue: 'The other papers were not reporting the story, so it was social media that kept the issue alive and many thousands of people on social media have been concerned that a cover-up has taken place. I think the story might not have come about had not people using social media expressed their outrage. Certainly without Facebook or Twitter a consumer boycott of the advertisers of the News of the World would not have been organised so quickly.' Or, indeed, so effectively.

Merlin has been renewed for a fifth series by the BBC, the show's executive producers have confirmed. Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy made the announcement at the 2011 Comic-Con in San Diego, as part of the event's Merlin panel. Capps suggested that the commission will allow the show's writing team more 'creative space' and promised that future episodes will feature a greater focus on 'slow-burn' character arcs. The fourth series of Merlin is currently filming in Wales and France and will be broadcast later in the year (once Doctor Who is finished). Nathaniel Parker will join the regular cast as Agravaine, the uncle of Arthur (Bradley James), while Whitechapel's Phil Davis and former [spooks] star Gemma Jones have also signed up for guest roles. Johnny Capps previously revealed that that the fourth series will open with a two-part adventure telling 'the story of Morgana's revenge. We left Morgana (Katie McGrath) in a terrible state at the end of the last series,' he said. 'She does quite an extreme thing [in series four], and it's the question of whether Arthur and Merlin (Colin Morgan) and the knights will be able to defeat her.'

The Simpsons creator Matt Groening and showrunner Al Jean have revealed some of the guest stars for the show's upcoming Twenty Third season at a Comic-Con panel. The pair appeared alongside executive producers Rob Lazebnik and Matt Warburton and supervising producer Mike Anderson to tease details of the FOX comedy's future at the San Diego convention. The team confirmed that celebrities such as Joan Rivers, Andy Garcia and author Neil Gaiman will lend their vocals to episodes airing in the US from 25 September. Jean also spoke of Glee star Jane Lynch's appearance in an episode entitled Replaceable You and confirmed that Kiefer Sutherland will make his second Simpsons guest appearance following his cameo in season eighteen's 24 parody 24 Minutes. The team further said that the show's iconic annual Halloween special will be broadcast on 30 October, with the five hundredth episode scheduled for 19 February. They also teased a time-travelling Christmas episode and 'a format changer' that will reveal the history of Moe's Tavern, to which Jeremy Irons will be the episode's guest star. Jean and Groening confessed during the panel that they often struggle to come up with fresh ideas after two decades on air, but are already considering plots for the show's final season - including one which plays with the Simpson family's previously static ages. Jean said: 'It's never easy. The hardest thing after five hundred episodes is thinking of new ideas. We sit around the room going "did that, did that." It's not easy and we take it very seriously.' Groening added: 'We may [age the characters] when we run out of ideas. That may be the last sad season. Bart will turn eleven.' Other guest stars previously scheduled for a forthcoming Simpsons guest spot include Michael Cera and Social Network star Armie Hammer.

Joanna Page and Sue Johnston lead the cast of new Sky1 school playground comedy Gates. Gates is written by a team of scriptwriters whose credits include My Family, Green Wing and Not Going Out, while Jennifer Saunders is the script editor for episode one. Miranda star Tom Ellis is also among the confirmed cast. Gates will explore the humour that happens between parents during the moments that they pick up and drop off their children at school. The programme will poke fun at the 'unforgiving, socially-exposed political minefield' of the school gates, where 'your children choose your friends.' Gates is part of Sky1's autumn line-up, which is focused on brand new homegrown comedies such as supermarket-based series Trollied and the Sally Lindsay comedy drama Mount Pleasant. 'I'm so pleased with this autumn's lineup as it feels like a huge mark in the sand for Sky1 HD. Two years ago we promised customers we'd bring them the best in British comedy and here it is,' said Sky1's director Stuart Murphy. 'We've worked really hard with the best British talent across all genres to make sure customers feel Sky1 HD is a premium channel.'

And, on a related note, Steve Coogan and Henry Normal will produce new Sky1 family sitcom The Starlings. The Baby Cow founders' latest comedy project has been written by Peep Show and Whites actor Matt King. Brendan Coyle and Lesley Sharp will play the mother and father of the Starling family, who have a crammed home following the return of their granddad. The characters will include a sixteen-year-old football-crazy tomboy daughter, a reptile enthusiast son and beautiful daughter, Bell, who gives birth in episode one. Other characters invading the house will be Bell's ex-boyfriend Reuben, granddad's long-lost son Uncle Loz and nephew Fergie, who has just been made homeless by his long-suffering partner. The Starlings is part of Sky1's new autumn line-up of shows.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day we've got a splash of The Clash.

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