Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Friends All Bitch If Your Life Is Kitsch

The BBC has insisted that it is not planning to ban its staff, talent and writers from using social networking sites such as Twitter. It was reported yesterday by the ever reliable Gruniad Morning Star that the corporation was intending to forbid its top talent from posting on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Internet forums to prevent anyone leaking 'sensitive details' regarding their involvement in BBC productions. According to the Gruniad, 'senior sources' described the proposed ban as 'a widely held view,' adding that 'conversations have started' to include clauses in contracts regarding social media. However, the BBC has denied these claims, stating that the broadcaster already has sufficient guidelines in place to dictate how staff should use social networking. 'The BBC is not banning the use of Twitter by talent or writers,' the corporation said in a statement. 'The BBC has clear guidelines in place for both the personal and professional use of social media, and we encourage staff, writers and talent to use social media, provided it does not break any confidentiality agreements.' The report had cited Sophie Ellis-Bextor's Twitter revelation that she is to appear alongside Sting on Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's new comedy Life's Too Short, as well as Stephen Mangan's tweet that his drama Dirk Gently had been recommissioned, as examples of 'inadvertent indiscretions.' Episodes star Mangan later questioned the authenticity of the allegations, posting on Twitter: 'The Guardian is wrong... No indiscretion from me, I tweeted after BBC had announced the new series.' What, you mean the Gruniad was talking bollocks and making up quotes from alleged 'senior sources'? How very unusual.
And, speaking of the Gruniad, they claim yesterday's disclosure that teenage murder victim Milly Dowler's voicemail was hacked may refocus scrutiny on the chief executive of News International, well-known Crystal Tipps-lookalike Rebekah Brooks. Most of the evidence that officers of the Yard's Operation Weeting are studying, deals with the News of the World's activities during 2005 and 2006, by which time Brooks had left the paper to edit the Sun. But the Dowler episode happened in 2002 - whilst Brooks was editor – and, according to the Gruniad, 'it is not the only incident that has made her a person of interest for the inquiry.' The paper goes on to suggest that one of Brooks's first acts on taking over as editor of the News of the World in 2000 was to bring back Greg Miskiw from New York, where he had just arrived as US correspondent, to appoint him as her assistant editor in charge of news. It was Miskiw, the Grunaid states, who then hired a full-time private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, who proceeded to steal confidential data and hack voicemail in order to provide stories for the paper. Miskiw was subsequently questioned by police about allegations that he used other contacts to purchase information from the police national computer and to pay cash bribes direct to employees of mobile phone companies. Miskiw was not charged with any offence. Whilst Brooks was in the editor's chair, the Gruniad claims, the News of the World regularly hired Steve Whittamore, a Hampshire private investigator who ran a network of specialists who 'stole confidential data from British Telecom, mobile phone companies and the DVLA.' Records published by the Information Commissioner's Office, the Gruniad say, show that twenty three journalists from the News of the World hired Whittamore a total of two hundred and twenty eight times (including for the purchase of addresses and ex-directory numbers relating to Milly Dowler's disappearance). The newspaper also states that during Brooks' editorship, 'a former detective, who had been forced out of the Metropolitan police after a corruption inquiry, carried cash bribes to serving police officers on behalf of the paper, according to journalists who worked there at the time.' In evidence to a Commons select committee, in March 2003, just after she left the News of the World, Brooks told MPs: 'We have paid the police for information in the past.' Which is at best morally questionable and at worst downright illegal. She has since written to the committee to say that she knows of no specific example of such payments and was speaking generally. Journalists who worked at the News of the World, the Gruniad claim, say that their use of private investigators was 'routine, open and officially sanctioned.' The former showbusiness reporter, Sean Hoare, who worked there under Brooks, last year told the New York Times that he was 'actively encouraged' to hack into voicemail by Brooks' deputy, Andy Coulson who subsequently became editor when Brooks left and, later, the director of communications for David Cameron. The Gruniad alleges that it has 'seen invoices' submitted by Whittamore which 'explicitly record apparently illegal acts.' One of Brooks's assistant editors, Paul McMullan, told the Gruniad last year that he had personally commissioned 'several hundred acts which could be regarded as unlawful and that senior editors were aware of this.' Scotland Yard, the papers suggests, 'will want to establish whether, as an editor, Brooks approved the use of her budget for illegal ends; and whether she knowingly published stories which had been obtained by unlawful means.' In addition, they state, she is one of the twenty three journalists named in Whittamore's records, allegedly for commissioning access to confidential data from a mobile phone company. 'Police will want to know whether this happened and, if so, whether it was lawful.' The Gruniad believes that 'the truth may lie in the mass of evidence which is now available to Scotland Yard: eleven thousand pages of notes seized from Mulcaire; call data provided by mobile phone inquiries during the first inquiry into Mulcaire in 2006; an archive of e-mail which News International has handed to police; as well as material seized recently from the homes and offices of three senior NoW journalists who have been arrested.' The BBC News website states that 'Police are to meet News of the World executives to discuss allegations.' A News International spokesman said it had been 'co-operating fully' with the police inquiry into hacking since News International's 'voluntary disclosure in January restarted the investigation into illegal voicemail interception.' After, as previously noted, five years of flat denials that it - or any of its staff (except a couple) had done anything wrong. He said: 'This particular case is clearly a development of great concern and we will be conducting our own inquiries as a result. We will obviously co-operate fully with any police request on this should we be asked.' Labour leader slimy Ed Milimolimandi saw an immediate opportunity to talk about something other than how wrong strikes are and described the alleged hacking as a 'cruel and immoral act' and said that the police inquiry had to 'get to the bottom of who was responsible for this and who was complicit in it.' The claims about Milly Dowler are significant in the overall phone hacking inquiry, which has until now focused largely on the intrusion into the private lives of celebrities. Nick Davies, the special correspondent from the Gruniad who wrote the story, told the BBC: 'The editor of the News of the World at the time that this particular episode took place was Rebekah Brooks, who is now Rupert Murdoch's chief executive in the UK. This is one of the very few episodes that happened when she was editing the paper, and she's clearly going to have to answer some questions about what she knew about what was going on.' Paul Connew, who was deputy editor of News of the World in the late 1990s, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the latest claims 'raise a lot of challenging questions as to who knew what and when.' He added the answers depended on 'who was running Glen Mulcaire, who he was reporting to, how high up the command chain knowledge went is the million dollar question.' The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson said that the allegations have effectively 'changed the character, if not the nature, of the hacking saga' and 'moved many in Westminster who previously regarded the story as a question of interest only to those excited by media ethics or the privacy of celebrities.' He added: 'News International executives insist that they were as shocked as anyone else when they learned that Milly Dowler's phone had apparently been hacked. The official consultation into whether Rupert Murdoch's News Corp should be permitted to take over BSkyB closes this week. Aides to the culture secretary say that, legally, his only consideration can be the impact on what's called "media plurality" - in other words the impact on the number of different media voices. The question of whether Mr Murdoch or his company are - in the jargon - "fit and proper persons" to take full ownership of the broadcaster cannot now, they say, be added to the process. That won't stop critics pointing to the fact that the editor of the News of the World at the time of these allegations, Rebekah Brooks, is now chief executive of News International (News Corporation's main UK subsidiary) and a personal friend of the prime minister. For a long time the hacking story united those who'd always been hostile to the Murdoch empire with those angered by its switch from backing New Labour to supporting the Tories, and those who saw it as a way to damage David Cameron (who hired the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his spin doctor). Now Murdoch, Brooks and Cameron will be aware that for the first time the hacking story may be engaging and horrifying readers, viewers and voters.' The BBC's Home Affairs correspondent neatly summed up the likely last effects of the events of the last twenty four hours, thus: 'This is a watershed in a phone hacking scandal which has hitherto focused largely on the plight of celebrities whose phones were hacked. They're entitled to privacy as much as anyone, but there's been a limit to the public's sympathy. Not so with Milly Dowler, the thirteen-year-old victim of a hideous crime; the messages said to have been hacked were the frantic enquiries of family and friends desperate to know of her whereabouts. It will turn most people's stomachs. It's more trouble for News International, long criticised for allegedly failing to come clean about the extent of the phone hacking by its journalists. Andy Coulson resigned twice because of it; first as NoW editor, then as Downing Street's director of communications. Rebekah Brooks was editor of the NoW at the time of the Milly Dowler abduction. She's long denied knowledge of phone hacking. Today she's chief executive of News International. But for how much longer?'

The Milly Dowler phone-hacking story dominated news broadcasting coverage on Monday night and again on Tuesday morning. The BBC, ITN and, it should be noted, Sky News, gave the story full - balanced and seemingly fair - measure. The Twittersphere was alive with the story too from the moment it broke in The Gruniad. It was the splash in the Gruniad, taking up the entire front page plus two more pages and a page twenty five commentary by Evgeny Lebedev. Lebedev's own paper, the Independent, devoted its front page to the topic, with a lengthy report inside plus a rather good commentary by Ian Burrell, Rebekah Brooks has some explaining to do. The Daily Torygraph, which is usually reticent about running media stories, covered the allegations and gave the story a lengthy page one run. Damian Thompson, editor of Torygraph blogs, wrote a single paragraph headlined If this is true, someone should be shot at dawn and attracted more than two hundred overwhelmingly supportive comments. The Financial Times ran two pieces, Murdoch tabloid accused of hacking dead girl's phone and a series of quotes from concerned a media academic and politicians, Phone hacking scandal reaches 'new low'. The Times carried a single column page one story, focused on the claim that the Dowler family are to sue the News of the World, which turned to more on page three. The Daily Scum Mail, like the Torygraph, generally seems to believe that its readers are not interested in stories about the media. But it regarded this one as very different indeed, publishing a page one picture and headline pointing to its story inside on page five. It gave the story full measure with a headline based around a quote from Labour leader Ed Milimolimandi: A cruel and immoral act and said there were questions over whether it could have hampered the police investigation into Milly's disappearance. The Daily Scum Express led page eight with the story and carried two further online stories. Its online coverage were topped with video clips of the Dowler family's lawyer, Mark Lewis, condemning the NoW's alleged hacking. Its sister title, the Daily Lies, ran similar stories online. But couldn't find much space in the paper itself since it was too busy concentrating on a piece on Ashley Cole. The Daily Mirra carried two straightforward reports, one about the hacking allegations and another about the family preparing to sue the paper. And what of the Sun? Even the News of the World's sister paper was forced to cover the story, but in mealy-mouthed fashion with just ninety five words under the heading Murdered Milly's phone 'got hacked'. Yes it, seemingly, did. By people who take a pay cheque from the same people as you. Doesn't it make it proud to get out of bed and go to work in the morning?

John Whittingdale, the chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that phone hacking at the News of the World should not taint the rest of Rupert Murdoch's empire. 'You cannot necessarily condemn the entire of News Corp just because of the actions of some individuals in another part of the organisation,' he said. 'News International is a part of News Corp but it's a different part. News Corp is a global enterprise and I don't think one should condemn the entire organisation because something very clearly was going wrong in the News of the World.' How nice it is to see Tories with their tongue still firmly shoved up Uncle Rupert's crack even after this story has broken. It's comforting to know that, in an ever-changing world, some things remain reliably consistent. When Today presenter Evan Davies pointed out to the Conservative MP that News International had specifically denied any wrongdoings at the News of the World despite having evidence that could suggest hacking was ongoing, Whittingdale responded: 'Well, they denied it to my committee.' And you're not outraged by that? You're not furiously angry that representatives from News International sat in your committee room, looked you in the eye and said, 'no guv, not us guv, nothing to do with us, guv'? Because I would be. I'd be ruddy incandescent with rage and looking for someone in a very senior position within News International to have dragged back before me and explain themselves. Instead, he added: 'We were told that a thorough investigation had been carried out which had produced no evidence. Now, even at that time we expressed considerable doubts as to whether or not that investigation was thorough. I think now we can almost certainly conclude that it wasn't, and those are questions which still need to be addressed.' So, now you're claiming that you didn't believe them when they told you 'no guv, not us guv,' are you? But that, their boss is still a 'jolly nice chap'? This just gets better and better. Labour has already called for an independent inquiry into journalistic practices at the newspaper. The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said the newspaper's actions were 'despicable' and called for a wide-ranging inquiry. 'Everyone across the country will be deeply disturbed and horrified at this shocking news,' Cooper said. 'The idea that private investigators working for a newspaper would hack into the phone of a missing thirteen-year-old girl is truly despicable

As if that news isn't despicable enough, dear blog reader, sadly there's worse to come. Christine Bleakley is back from her month-long holiday on Daybreak, looking for all the world like she's been tangoed. And people will try to convince you that there's a God.
And, from that horrorshow, faceache (and drag) so we turn to the weekly ratings, dear blog reader. Because yer actual Keith Telly Topping knows how much you all love them. Here's the Top Twenty programmes on British television for week ending 26 June 2011:-
1 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 9.41 million
2 EastEnders - BBC1 Tues - 8.83 million
3 The Apprentice - BBC1 Wed - 8.78 million
4 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 7.46 million
5 Scott & Bailey - ITV Sun - 6.94 million
6 Wimbledon 2011 - BBC1 Fri - 6.44 million
7 Top Gear - BBC2 Sun - 6.22 million
8 Luther - BBC1 Tues - 6.11 million
9 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 6.01 million
10 Waterloo Road Wed- BBC1 - 5.88 million
11 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.35 million
12 Case Histories - BBC1 Mon - 5.00 million
13 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 4.88 million
14 National Lottery: In It To Win It - BBC1 Sat - 4.86 million
15 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Fri - 4.52 million
16 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Fri - 4.44 million
17 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 4.41 million
18 Traffic Cops - BBC1 Thurs - 4.35 million
19 Four Of A Kind - ITV Mon - 4.29 million*
20 The Royal - ITV Sun - 4.22 million*
Those programmes with an asterisks indicate they do not include HD figures. Notable this week is a very good return for Top Gear. And another hugely impressive figure for Luther which, surely, must be up for another series, Idris Elba's schedule notwithstanding. Case Histories finished its run with an average consolidated rating of 5.31m across its six episodes which means it will also probably get a second bite at the cherry. In general terms, any drama which tops five million is doing all right.

Still on the subject of ratings, and Top Gear's specifically, I'm grateful to my good pal Davey over at the very excellent Gallifrey Base Ratings Analysis thread for providing the following fascinating little chart. The yearly averages for Top Gear since it returned to BBC2 after a three year break are as follows:-
2002 - 3.30m
2003 - 3.61m
2004 - 3.80m
2005 - 4.32m
2006 - 4.54m
2007 - 7.03m
2008 - 6.73m
2009 - 6.96m
2010 - 6.51m
2011 - 6.99m
As Dave notes, 'Anyone thinking Top Gear's about to decline is badly wrong. It timeshifts a lot in the officials.' Actually, that's not quite right, it timeshifts hugely, and that's not even taking into account the astounding iPlayer figures which it regularly pulls in. Indeed, as another of the thread regulars, Gin Soaked, wisely added: 'There's a certain other show we talk about a lot whose overnights are down on a couple of years ago but it makes up the difference with other viewing methods. We analyse Doctor Who's "+7" ratings to death, but we often forget to do the same for other programmes.'

And finally in the ratings mini-section, New Tricks returned on Monday night with a mind-numbing 8.3m audience. That's over a million higher than its average for the last series when it was shown in a Friday slot and broadly in line with the audiences for each of opening episodes in the last two series (8.7m and 8.1m). Yer Keith Telly Topping actually quite enjoyed the episode itself - featuring the final TV appearance by the great Trevor Bannister - although it was undeniably predictable in places. Something which was picked up on by yer man Keith Watson in Metro who gave it a right roasting in his review for exactly that reason: 'It's harder to imagine anything further away from the flesh-for-sale fantasy of Dirty, Sexy Things than New Tricks (BBC1), the resolutely untricksy crime drama that has been dodging the coffin marked "cancelled" for eight series thanks to a devoted following who lap up the antics of its veteran sleuths. I admit I find it as dull as dishwater, though last night's opening episode to the latest run did find room for Getting On's Vicki Pepperdine to effortlessly steal the show as an uptight palaeontologist and the storyline had a good chortle at the idea of old fossils investigating the death of a fossil specialist. It all panned out with the predictability of the tides and the pace of a snail, feeling for all the world like a repeat from the 1980s. But at a time when pensions protests are nabbing headlines, New Tricks is at least on trend: it shows us a world where the concept of retirement is a thing of the past and the skills acquired through life are valued because everyone is happy to work forever. It's practically government propaganda.' Similarly, the Gruniad's John Crace noted: 'You can't accuse New Tricks of taking itself too seriously. Minutes into the new series, a curator at the Natural History Museum is asked what the keeper of palaeontology does. "She looks after a world class collection of old fossils," she replies. "Just like me," says DS Pullman (Amanda Redman). It was almost as if the whole episode, involving the death of a museum worker and an evil oil corporation, had been created with that gag in mind. New Tricks is the BBC's answer to Midsomer Murders – an undemanding, old-fashioned cop drama that is never going to come with the health warning "contains strong language and scenes of a disturbing nature." The only difference is that the humour in New Tricks is nearly always deliberate. Though calling it humour may be putting it a bit strong. So the fact that the creaky quartet who make up the Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad – do they get the cases that Trevor Eve's Cold Case team couldn't crack in Waking the Dead? – are looking even creakier than ever now they are in their eighth season only adds to the retro charm. Everything about the series is designed not to frighten the horses. To deliver the show its audience expects. Even its script, with lines such as "I'm not looking for any favours, Jack," and "I know a desperate housewife when I see one" could have been written by focus group. Yet it feels as if New Tricks misses a trick. I know it's unusual and risky to produce a drama with one lead character the wrong side of fifty, two more over sixty and a fourth closer to eighty, but it's still just all too safe. It has been reported the cast have been grumbling that the series has become more and more determinedly inoffensive and it shows in their performances. At times it looks as if they are sleepwalking. Which is such a waste, as Redman, James Bolam, Alun Armstrong and Dennis Waterman – if you can block out the image of him in the Little Britain sketch when he's singing the title song – are all first-rate actors who are capable of so much more. Rather than wasting their talents on visual Valium, producers and writers ought to be queuing up to get them to do something that stretches them.' I don't, necessarily, disagree with either of those reviews. But, seemingly the vast majority of eight million viewers kind-of do. Sometimes, guys, it's worth remembering that the customer is (almost) always right. I said almost.

Actress Karen Gillan surprised arts students by making a guest appearance at their end of term performance in Inverness. Gillan, who plays Doctor Who's companion Amy Pond, also presented awards to Eden Court's London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts students. The twenty three-year-old, from Inverness, previously studied drama and performed at the city's theatre. She was a member of Eden Court's youth dance company and senior youth theatre. Karen said: 'I am pleased and proud to be able to come back to Eden Court and help with the Lamda awards. I did so much stuff at that theatre over the years so it was great to be back. It was very special.'

John Barrowman has insisted that new Torchwood series Miracle Day will not alienate fans of the show. The actor told the Boston Herald that the SF drama 'picks up right where it left off.' Barrowman said: 'We're still the same edgy Torchwood, still have the edgy characters and storylines that people seem to like. It wasn't like a shock to the system, our really core audience are not going to feel that [either].' Barrowman, who plays Captain Jack Harkness, also claimed that he is not worried how new viewers will react to Torchwood. 'I don't worry about that,' he said. 'I know in my heart we've made a good show.' He added: 'You know what, not everybody is going to like it, but I hope we get a bigger audience than what we've had before.'

Bones' executive producer Stephen Nathan has revealed details about a new villain on the show. Nathan told TV Guide that the character will be in the same mould as previous 'big bads' on the show such as The Gravedigger. 'This is someone who is an extremely odd and fearless foe,' he said. 'Only he's going to be much more of a Twenty First Century, tech-savvy foe.' Nathan also revealed that the villain will be introduced during the first six episodes of the season, before the mid season break. However, he hinted that the initial episodes will focus largely on the relationship between Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan (Emily Deschanel). 'At the end of [episode] six, we want to leave with a real surprise for the audience from a plot point of view,' Nathan explained. 'I'm not necessarily talking about Booth and Brennan [but this] nefarious character, who we will follow for a little bit this season and perhaps next.' FOX recently announced that Bones will return for its new season on 3 November.

Teenage Corrie star Brooke Vincent, who plays lesbian Sophie Webster in the ITV show, has had her hand slapped by studio bosses after trying to make a little money on the side using Twitter according to the Gruniad. Brooke has been given a 'stern talking to' after appearing to endorse a range of brands including McDonald's, Domino's Pizza and Sienna fake tan by posting photos of them on her Twitter feed. Apparently the number of products she appeared to endorse to her seventy six thousand followers 'got a bit out of hand' for ITV bosses who felt she had 'crossed the line.'

Channel Five has been censured by Ofcom for airing 'excessively noisy' sponsorship credits for Sony's PlayStation 3 console around Five Movies. Sony Computer Entertainment agreed a twelve-month deal in January with Channel Five for the PS3 brand to appear alongside prime time movies on Channel Five, 5* and Five USA. Media regulator Ofcom received seventeen complaints about the loudness of the sponsorship credits broadcast around Five Movies between 3 February and 15 March. After conducting technical assessment of the credits, Ofcom found them to be 'excessively noisy' and in breach of guidelines that credits should not be louder than any programming on the channel. Channel Five said that the technical assessment of all its sponsorship credits, channel promotions and commercials is outsourced to a third-party company, which failed to carry out the appropriate subjective loudness test due to 'human error.' After being contacted about the noisy credits by Ofcom on 15 March, Channel Five said that it had removed them from transmission. However, Ofcom received four further complaints about the volume of sponsorship credits around Five Movies between 20 March and 25 March. The regulator conducted more tests and found the credits again to be 'excessively noisy.' Channel Five admitted that the credits were repeated due to 'human error' and said it 'sincerely regretted' the situation. The broadcaster also stated that it is in the process of upgrading its transmission facilities to reduce the risk of any similar problems in the future. In its ruling, Ofcom noted that the PS3 sponsorship credits were 'too loud in relation to the volume of other elements on the channel,' and therefore breached broadcasting guidelines. It accepted that Channel Five had made steps to rectify the situation, but expressed concern that the error had happened twice subsequently. 'Ofcom acknowledges that the broadcaster has a good compliance record in this area and that the original issue occurred due to human error,' said the regulator. 'However, Ofcom is concerned that having brought the error to Channel Five's attention, a further human error occurred which meant that not all of the sponsorship credits were withdrawn from transmission and re-processed to make them compliant. Ofcom welcomes the fact that Channel Five is in the process of upgrading its transmission facilities to reduce the risk of any similar issue arising in the future.' In February 2010, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that TV adverts shown during an episode of Sherlock Holmes on ITV3 were so loud that they breached broadcasting guidelines.

The BBC has apologised after viewers complained about 'over-talking' by its commentary team during Wimbledon. It said in a statement that views on commentary were subjective but that 'we do appreciate that over-talking can irritate our audience.' It added that it hoped it had achieved 'the right balance' across its coverage and was 'of course sorry if on occasion you have not been satisfied.' Tim Henman and John McEnroe were among the ex-players offering punditry. Andrew Castle, Pat Cash, Boris Becker, Lindsay Davenport and Greg Rusedski also commentated on matches during the two-week tournament. 'The aim of our commentary team was to inform our audience and give context to the matches we showed,' the statement added. It said the 'diversity of the team itself added balance and insight where necessary' and that views on commentary were always likely to be 'subjective.' A BBC spokesman said the corporation had received more than one hundred complaints about 'excessive' talking. Which, out of regular audiences in excess of five million some people might consider to be a piffling amount of whinging by a mere handful of over-fussy pains who haven't got anything more worthwhile to do with their sad, sorry lives and not whose opinions on pretty much any subject is not worthy of the BBC's time to even respond to.

Heineken has been forced to drop a cover version of the US punk band The Dead Kennedys' song 'Too Drunk to Fuck' that featured in a Kronenbourg 1664 online promotion, after a complaint to the alcohol industry marketing watchdog that it encouraged binge drinking. Heineken's Kronenbourg 1664 campaign featured banner advertisements on popular music site Spotify. The adverts directed music lovers to a special Kronenbourg 'slowed down' playlist as part of a campaign by the beer brand called 'Slow the Pace.' Heineken's aim was to link the idea of 'relaxed consumption' of beer with music that had been 'uncharacteristically slowed down' from the original song. TV adverts for the brand, for instance, feature Madness apparently in a French tavern playing One of the other songs on the playlist was The Dead Kennedys' 'Too Drunk to Fuck,' originally a thrashy ode of regret to a misspent evening out of the lash, as covered by the French band Nouvelle Vague in an ironic easy-listening cafe jazz style(e). Drinks industry marketing watchdog the Portman Group, which operates a self-regulatory code of practice, received a complaint about the promotion and the use of the song. a slow jazzy version of their 1980 hit 'Baggy Trousers.' The Portman Group's independent complaints panel said that while Kronenbourg had not 'set out to promote irresponsible drinking,' nevertheless 'the track name and lyrics referenced drinking to excess, thereby associating the brand with immoderate consumption.' It added that this represented a breach of its industry code, which bans alcohol promotions from 'encouraging irresponsible or immoderate drinking. This demonstrates just how careful companies have to be when marketing alcohol,' said David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group. 'We were pleased that the company took immediate action to remove the track from the playlist. As soon as the complaint was brought to its attention Heineken has also introduced more rigorous approval procedures as a result.'

Tulisa Contostavlos will reportedly have a seventy thousand style budget on The X Factor. Whilst there are pensioners in this country who can barely afford to eat. It's wrong, dear blog reader. Just flat out wrong. 'Bosses' have hired celebrity stylist Gemma Sheppard to transform Contostavlos, according to the Sun. 'They put aside so much for Tulisa because you don't get a second chance to make a first impression,' a 'production source' allegedly told the paper. 'They want her to be the new nation's sweetheart. She looked too chavvy and cheap on the first-day auditions, so producers gave her a bigger budget for clothes and styling. They want her to have a designer look with chic class - more Posh Spice than Vicky Pollard in Little Britain, which was how she has looked more than a few times.' Contostavlos made her debut at auditions in Birmingham early last month. On the black jumpsuit she wore, the 'insider' allegedly commented: 'We thought she'd turned up in her pyjamas. Something had to be done.'

Sting has reportedly cancelled a concert in Kazakhstan's capital Astana. Perhaps after deciding that those poor Kazakhstanis had suffered enough already without him adding to their misery.

A report by MPs into England's failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup says the Football Association has failed to learn lessons from previous attempts. The England bid received only two votes as the finals were awarded to Russia. The report says: 'England's bid team appears to have lacked a number of the components of a successful bid.' A willingness to give out bribes, for one. It calls on the FA to 'hold a review' and also criticises FIFA's response to recent bribery claims. England's bid team were confident of success but were knocked out of the process in the first round, despite having Prince William, the prime minister and David Beckham as the figureheads of their presentation in Zurich in December. As though they expected the rest of the world to be dazzled because we'd turned up with a few celebrities. The report, from the culture, media and sport committee, states: 'Lessons did not appear to have been learned from previous studies with regard to the composition and unity of the bid team, and the messages it needed to project.' In response to the report, the FA insisted they are already working on the issues raised by the report. A spokesman said: 'The FA made its own position clear on the need for governance reform within FIFA during the recent FIFA Congress and it welcomes the shared views of the committee in this regard. Our focus is now on ensuring that the FA and all of English football work towards building stronger and more enduring international relationships. We can confirm that the FA chairman David Bernstein has begun a process of evaluating our current representation on FIFA and UEFA committees, while determining how we can best strengthen our international relationships, both formally and informally.' The MPs also backed the BBC's decision to screen a Panorama documentary into allegations of corruption inside FIFA in the same week as the vote was held. At the time the move was - ridiculously - described as 'unpatriotic' by the former bid chief executive Andy Anson and was also criticised by the prime minister who, a couple of days later was seen publicly schmoozing with the odious Jack Warner. But, the new report says the BBC was 'amply justified by the public interest in FIFA governance and, more generally, in independent and impartial journalism.' More pointedly, some would argue that the BBC shouldn't have been the only ones doing this sort of investigating into allegations of wrongdoing and that suggestions made in several national newspapers at the time that they were wrong to do so can be seen, with hindsight, as despicable toadying to FIFA. The programme's allegations of corruption 'appalled' the committee, and it believes that there should have been a full, independent investigation into them by world football's governing body. 'Instead, FFIA has given every impression of wishing to sweep all allegations of misconduct under the carpet and of dismissing anyone bringing allegations to them with an approach bordering on contempt,' says the report. It also looked at the allegations of unethical behaviour made by former England 2018 bid leader Lord Triesman against four FIFA members, including Warner, which led to the FA commissioning the barrister James Dingemas to investigate further. FIFA said there was 'no evidence' to support further investigation into these claims, but the report believes that was 'a disappointing and inadequate' response. 'While the review does not confirm the allegations made by Lord Triesman, neither does it refute them,' the report says. 'It does find enough corroborative evidence to merit further investigation.' FIFA also comes under fire for its 'extraordinary' recent decision to drop a bribery investigation into former vice-president Warner after he resigned from his role last month. 'It suggests that nothing has changed,' says the report. 'As a first step towards restoring confidence we call upon FIFA to publish the ethics committee report.' Committee chairman John Whittingdale - remember him? Rupert's friend - said: 'FIFA's governance and its process for awarding competitions is in need of fundamental reform. Yet the re-election of Sepp Blatter and the decision to drop the FIFA ethics committee investigation following Jack Warner's resignation suggest nothing has changed. The credibility of FIFA has been hugely damaged and it is now up to Mr Blatter to deliver on his promises made at the time of his re-election and to show that allegations of misconduct and corruption will no longer be swept under the carpet.' A department for culture, media and sport spokesman said: 'We welcome the select committee report on the 2018 World Cup bid and agree with its desire for a more transparent and accountable world governing body. Sepp Blatter has said that he will reform FIFA and we hope that the FA will play a key part in that. Sports minister Hugh Robertson will continue to press for change, if it does not happen, through his relationship with the FA and European sports ministers. We will respond in full to the select committee in due course.' Shadow sport secretary Ivan Lewis MP said the report is 'a damming indictment of FIFA but also raises serious questions for English football and the government.' He added: 'Mr Bernstein should accept the Select Committee's recommendation and conduct a review into the lessons to be learned for English football from a bid which clearly had a number of weaknesses. It is essential that the Premier League plays a full part in the review process.'

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a little sample of what Wor Luscious Lovely Lauren Laverne used to do before she became the BBC's token regional accent.

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