Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's Grim Oop North (Apparently)

So what, dear blog reader, are we to make of the very curious Geordie Finishing School For Girls (BBC3, last night)? I think the opening episode of this three-part documentary series might just be one of the strangest hours of this blogger's life watching something which was - at once - exactly what he'd expected it to be (car-crash telly) and, at the same time, the polar opposite of what he expected (containing moments of quiet brilliance). I know that's a contradiction but what we have here is, essentially, a perfect example of the difference between a programme idea and a programme in execution.
Firstly, the negative points - and there were plenty of them; chief among which is that conceptually it was (and still is) a vile idea. A flatly patronising conceit dreamed up, one supposes, by some twentysomething TV executive in an Armani suit in an office somewhere (probably London) as an example of 'lifeswap telly.' 'Lifeswap telly', in case you didn't know, is a documentary format which is believed to be massively popular with viewers by many of those within the TV industry - a view which is not, seemingly, shared by the actual viewers themselves. One thinks of previous examples of this oeuvre, in particular the horrible The Duchess On The Estate or that odious thing on ITV with Mel B swanning around a Leeds council estate like she owned the place in her bling-bling and her tracksuit just like Jimmy Saville, and shudders at the memory of such things. My problems with Geordie Finishing School For Girls, therefore, were almost entirely concerned with its reasons for being developed in the first place rather than with the show itself. To be honest, the idea behind this conceit is exactly the same as all of those 'concerned' - and usually deadly patronising - BBC3 documentaries in which a bunch of bright young things from London are packaged off to some Thai or Indonesian sweatshop to find out how the trainers which they spend one hundred and twenty notes on are made and, hopefully, have their consciousness raised by the process. Which is all very well and good except this is my city we're talking about, not Bangkok. Because, once you get beyond the tourist chic of Newcastle, the regenerated quayside and the vibrant city centre with its pubs, restaurants and designer clothes shops, to council estate suburbs in the East like Byker and Walker you might as well be in Africa - that seemed to be the general thrust of the show. It's cheaper to get to, and you don't need inoculating before you go. Although the implication was you might need inoculating when you come back.

Reality television has, of course, discovered Tyneside big-style of late with the thoroughly wretched Geordie Shore and now this. And, to be fair, compared to Geordie Shore, Geordie Finishing School For Girls is like I, Claudius. Still, the North-East is the new Essex, it would seem. Until TV executives find another area to get fascinated with. The rumours that both Channel Five and MTV have scripted reality shows in development set in Liverpool suggest that Newcastle better make the most of its chances now. So, we get to the obvious question and one I'd love to have asked Fi, Lucy, Steph and Fiona – our well-groomed ladies, all of whom, we learn had gone to private boarding schools and therefore had no problem with bunk beds – why did you agree to go on a show like this? Why did you agree to get dumped in Walker, four whole miles from the nearest Costa Coffee? Did you not realise how you we're going to come across? Fi who describes herself as 'a bit spoiled', apparently, gets seven hundred smackers a month 'pocket money' from her daddy. A bit spoiled?! Lucy – whose surname, Haythornthwaite-Shock, deserves a mention for comedy value if nothing else – was bought a flat by her parents and has never been on a budget. Steph, politics student and potential Tory MP by the sound of her, has never been on a 'public' bus. (Are there private buses?) Why? Even if she's never needed to, you'd've thought she might have got on one once, just out of curiosity to see what it was like. And Fiona - who doesn't like benefit scroungers, apparently - is engaged to a banker. A banker with a capital 'W' by the sound of him as he says 'I love you too, babe' on their doorstep when Fiona leaves for the frozen North. Ditch him now, Fiona m'love, trust me you can do far better.

So off they toddle, by various methods of transport, with their designer jewellery and their Louis Vuitton bags and their crass and ignorant preconceptions ('get a job you lazy buggers' says the girl who lives with a banker as she drives past the Byker Wall), to further North than any of them probably knew existed. Although, as usual, you get the impression that for this bunch, as with a lot of people from or near the capital that 'The North' is something which starts at Watford and ends at Iceland. And, I'm not talking about the freezer shop on Shields Road either, dear blog reader. Steph says, at one point, 'I've never been further North than Cardiff.' We'd never have guessed, my dear. In The Toon to greet them and show them a slice of The Real World are four geet dead canny Geordie lasses – Shauna, Makylea, Lyndsey and Kimberley. And keeping an eye on everything, as a kind of bequiffed moderator stroke mother figure, is Hufty, who is described by the plummy voiced narrator as 'something of a local legend when it comes to youth work in the city.' And, that's the first genuine thing about Geordie Finishing School For Girls although it's by no means the last. The show itself - patronisation apart - mostly rattles along in a vaguely entertaining way. The Southern girls come across as a bit caricature-like but seem to be, fundamentally, decent enough human beings albeit it with a narrow worldview the challenging of which will do them no harm at all in the long run. Even better are the Geordie lasses, whom the Gruniad reviewer Sam Wollaston - someone else, one suspects, who has never been further North than Cardiff - nastily, patronisingly, describes as looking 'as though they've stepped straight from the pages of Viz.' They do nothing of the kind you very stupid odious ignorant faction of an individual, they all seem - to this blogger at any rate - straight-forward, decent, honest, streetwise young ladies of the kind you find on most streets on Tyneside. They've got something the vast majority of the gobshite pond scum twats who write for the Gruniad Morning Star will never have in a million years, a touch of basic bloody common sense. And then there's Hufty. Who is - by a million miles - the single best thing about this whole shebang.

For those who don't remember her, Hufty (real name Andrea Rea) was a stand-up comedian who became briefly well-known to the nation as a presenter of Channel Four's popular 1990s 'yoof' television series, The Word. In his autobiography My Word her co-presenter Terry Christian said that Hufty, a Catholic lesbian from South Shields, was a lovely girl and not suited to the cut and thrust of television. Since leaving showbiz she's now a youth social worker in the city spending her time with the disadvantaged, the lost, the teenage mothers, the addicts. She is fantastic - really positive and energetic and with a down-to-earth way of undercutting prejudice (on both sides) which is, at once, admirable and instructive. Its her determination that the Southern lasses get the full-on experience of what they're doing that drives the show forward and gives it most of its best moments. Hufty is the personification of local pride, full of talk about Geordie warmth and friendliness but not so blind to the counter-examples that she doesn't take the Southern girls jewellery into 'protective custody' as soon as they arrive in case it gets robbed. In return, she hands over fifty nine smackers to each of them for the next ten days, the equivalent of job seeker's allowance minus some deductions for rent. 'How long would that last you in London?' she asks. 'About two days,' lies Lucy (who has never had a budget, remember).

Essentially, what we're dealing with here is what's known as 'poverty tourism'; it's the lyrics of Pulp's 'Common People' made flesh - you've got ten days of roughing it, ladies, and then you're back off home, probably first class, to the flat daddy bought and the banker with a capital W. Steph, the big statuesque politics student and rower, kept on saying how 'charming' everything was - including her first 'public' bus ride - like this was a painting by Constable she was describing rather than the reality of a Northern council estate. 'I don't see any evidence of poverty,' she noted, sounding just like George Osborne. A career in politics clearly awaits. And yet ... there were moments of quiet brilliance and sage-like street wisdom in the piece. I particularly enjoyed the sequence in which the girls went to Shearer's Bar on match-day and chatted to some rather stereotypical examples of the local Alpha Males. That seemed to be the least forced, the most natural, part of the show. Just four young women having a good time. But, what lessons did the Southern girls learn from the whole experience? Essentially, it seems that the purpose of the programme is to show us that life is hard when you've got no money. To be honest, you really shouldn't need a TV show to tell you that. And, if you do, then you've got far bigger problems with your worldview than whether you like the taste of pease pudding or not. (Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is with Fi all the way on that particular score, incidentally.) I also thought that the Simon Donald 'laarn yersel Geordie' sequence was properly dreadful. Reinforcing a whole bunch of regional stereotypes which I'd, perhaps naively, hoped, ad gone down the plughole with Andy Capp fifty years ago. The house where the girls were living, incidentally, was in Alfred Street just off the back of Welback Road, quite literally, a ten minute walk from Stately Telly Topping Manor. And, I'll tell you what, for the most part this was an entirely accurate depiction of Walker - with its boarded up shops - as it was of the city in general. It was recognisably the Walker I live in - poor, rough in places, but hardly the arsehole at the end of the universe that the programme's pre-publicity might have suggested.

As I was watching the episode I was making notes as I'd been asked to talk about Geordie Finishing School For Girls on this morning's Breakfast Show on BBC Newcastle and, after about twenty minutes - it was during that sequence where the girls were sent into the Grainger Market to buy some scran for their tea - that I found myself writing down the four words which seem to sum up my main problem with this entire project. Who is this for? Any TV show is made with a particular audience in mind and this is no different. I can't see too many people in the North (Newcastle or otherwise) getting much out of it beyond a bit of location spotting, and a few moments of rolling their eyes at these soft Southerners and their fancy, highfalutin soft Southern ways. So, essentially, this is a TV show that seems to have been made for consumption in the Home Counties. And, again, that puts it in the same league as Blood, Sweat & Teeshirts and all of those other, faintly-patronising-but-'worthy', 'don't you know it's a tough world out there?' documentaries in which the channel specialises. Which, as noted, might well be true but it's a bit of a smack in the mush to discover that, to somebody from Islington, my whole world exists, in their mind at least, on the same level as Ghana or Vietnam or Malaysia. Tyneside is not, quite, the Third World dear blog reader - honest, it isn't - and I'd really like some jumped up little twat in BBC3 to get that through their thick head.

I wish I'd known this was being filmed up here last spring, I'd've gone around to Alfred Street and tried to blag my way onto the show to provide them with a bit of local 'colour.' I wonder if Steph would've found me 'charming'? But, in all seriousness, I would have loved to have got an interview and asked the four girls exactly why they were taking part? Was it, genuinely, to learn something - a valuable life lesson that they'll be able to take back to London with them - or was it to get their faces on television? I suspect, in many ways, it was a bit of both. And, to be honest, I've got no problem with that whatsoever. I just wish the project they'd been given had been blessed with a touch more soul behind the thought processes which saw it created. There was a bit of heart on display in the final sequences as the girls were introduced, at last, to an unwelcome fraction of The Real World in the form of Natalie, a local woman whose life has been blighted by drug addiction and prostitution. Her story was a sad one and Lucy started crying. So did Fiona. Point made, one suspects.

But, there's the point, in and of itself - if there's one word that does sum up Geordie Finishing School For Girls beautifully its 'pointless.' Nicely made, probably well-intentioned by most of those involved, full of some surprising and rather humane and decent moments, it was even touching in places. But it was, ultimately, like biting into a Cadbury's Creme Egg only to find no nice yummy creme bit in the middle; hollow and a bit tasteless. Somewhat to the producer's disappointment, one suspects, everyone from both sides behaved very well, which is perhaps why they're all going to be given masses to drink in next week's episode in the hope that some conflict kicks off. I know one thing for certain, I'll definitely be watching to see if it does!
Hackgate is far from over - but the book deals have, naturally enough, been signed already. The Gruniad's Nick Davies has agreed to write about the saga - provisionally titled Hack Attack - for Chatto & Windus in Britain and Faber & Faber in the States. It's scheduled for release in autumn next year. So it looks as though Labour MP Tommy Watson (power to the people!) will get in first because his tome, for Penguin Press, is due to be published before the end of this year. It is being co-written with Martin Hickman of the Independent, a former journalist of the year. There is not the least sense of competition or animosity between Davies and Watson, however. It is understood that they have talked about their separate projects and both agree that it is such a huge, sprawling story there is room for more than one account (indeed, more many will surely follow). Davies's book will put hacking into the wider context of Rupert Murdoch's power over governments. One problem all writers will face, however, in the short term is the likelihood of people being charged later this year. If that happens, the sub-judice rule would kick in, certainly preventing the wide-ranging news coverage. Book authors will need to be careful too. Note a delicious irony: Watson's book was acquired by Penguin's publishing director, Stuart Proffitt. Which is a fantastic name for a publisher, I'm sure you'll agree dear blog reader. Proffitt was, famously, the editor working at the News Corp publisher, HarperCollins, in 1998 when preparing to publish a memoir by Chris (now Lord) Patten about his difficulties as the last British governor of Hong Kong in handing over the colony to China. Murdoch, desperate to please the Chinese authorities in order to advance the chances of his Star TV enterprise in China, refused to allow it to be published. Proffitt, in refusing to kow-tow to Murdoch, left HarperCollins. One can only imagine his delight in piloting Tommy Watson's book to the bookshops.

Piers Morgan is facing questions on both sides of the Atlantic as a former employee claimed that phone hacking had taken place while he was editor of the Daily Mirra. The CNN presenter has repeatedly denied allegations made in both the British and US media that he presided over a culture of illegal activity during his nine-year stint at the paper. James Hipwell, a former Mirra journalist, claimed on Saturday that phone hacking was 'endemic' under Morgan's editorship and that he would be prepared to testify to the judicial inquiry into the scandal. 'Piers was extremely hands-on as an editor. He was on the [newsroom] floor every day, walking up and down behind journalists, looking over their shoulders. I can't say one hundred per cent that he knew about it. But it was inconceivable he didn't,' he told the Independent. Hipwell was jailed in 2006 for conspiracy to breach the Financial Services Act as part of the City Slickers share tipping scandal. Claims made by Conservative MP Louise Bagashite Mensch that Morgan knew about phone hacking at the paper have also received widespread coverage in Britain and the US. Bagashite made the allegations under the protection of parliamentary privilege, which defends her from a defamation lawsuit, during Rupert Murdoch's appearance before the culture, media and sport committee. She misquoted an entry from Morgan's book The Insider, where Morgan referred to phone hacking as 'a little trick.' Morgan confronted the MP live on CNN last week, accusing her of 'an absolute, blatant lie' and challenging her to make the claims again outside of parliament and denying ever using phone hacking for stories. A spokeswoman for CNN said that Morgan had been asked about the accusations and had strongly denied them. Hipwell's claims come in the wake of a New York Times article which quoted five former journalists at the People, the Mirra's Sunday sister paper, who claimed that phone hacking had take place between the late 1990s and early 2000. The Sunday Mirra was also accused of 'routinely' hacking the phones of celebrities in an effort to keep up with the News of the World. A former employee of the paper told the BBC that the illegal technique was used on almost daily basis to hack the phones of Rio Ferdinand, Liz Hurley and others. 'One afternoon in the newsroom I saw Liz Hurley's phone being hacked and a reporter listen to her mobile phone messages and take a note of what was said. It was a Thursday and I was told that there wasn't much on there - just something about lunch from another woman so they would keep trying before the weekend to see what they could find,' the 'source' claimed. Trinity Mirror said: 'Our journalists work within the criminal law and the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct.' Which, to be scrupulously fair is exactly what News International said about the News of the World for years until forced to admit otherwise.

BSkyB's domination of premium movies on pay-TV is headed for a challenge next month when the Competition Commission is expected to announce that it will take action to weaken the satellite broadcaster's stranglehold on Hollywood films. BT and Virgin Media have led rival pay-TV and film businesses in pushing for regulators to limit Sky's power on the grounds that it was keeping competitors out of the market. Preliminary findings published over recent weeks on the commission's website have found that Sky has a case to answer. The commission will give its provisional decision in mid-August. Combined with premium sports rights, Sky's longstanding exclusive contracts with the six major Hollywood studios have enabled it to create one of the largest and most profitable pay TV companies in Europe. One third of the UK's fifteen million pounds pay TV households subscribe to Sky Movies, and the company spends around two hundred and eighty million smackers a year, more than its entire budget for its own news and entertainment channels, on buying films. So far, the commission has found that the prices at which Sky wholesales its movie channels to other broadcasters is too high. Virgin Media customers can get Sky movies, but they pay less to watch them than Virgin pays Sky to carry them. It has found that Sky's contracts with the six major Hollywood studios, which run for years, and come up for renewal at different times, mean no rival operators can afford to risk bidding for them. The commission has also decided that Sky has prevented BT and Virgin Media from developing a business selling films on demand via subscription. Since rivals first brought their complaint in 2006 Sky has been warehousing – or buying without using – the exclusive right to let viewers watch films on demand via subscription. Sky initially made these on-demand films available via computers, and did not transfer the service to television sets until last year. Rival operators say they cannot make serious profits from films because they can only show Hollywood movies for a short forty five-day window after their theatrical release, and only on a pay-per-view, rather than subscription basis. After that point, the 'first subscription pay-TV window' kicks in, meaning Sky channels can show films exclusively for fifteen months. Tron, Shrek Forever After, Inception and Sex and the City 2 are among the blockbusters about to become Sky's exclusive property in the UK. In a paper published last month the commission said: 'It appears to us that, absent barriers to the acquisition of movie rights, it is likely that Sky's rivals would have paid lower prices for Sky's movie channels, would have been able to innovate more in terms of having greater flexibility to package and promote products, and would have been able to launch products earlier.' BT and Virgin have said in the past that they want the commission to force Sky to wholesale its movie rights to them at lower prices. Once they have built up a base of movie subscribers, they will then be able to compete with Sky for Hollywood contracts. There is a precedent. Sky has recently been ordered to wholesale Sky Sports 1 and 2 after regulators intervened. Alternatively, the commission could set rules for studios about how they sell their films in the UK, for example by insisting that no more than half of their content should be signed away to any one operator. A spokesman for the commission said: 'These are preliminary working papers and thus represent our latest thinking, rather than conclusions on any issue. The provisional finding will be published in August.'

More disruption to BBC news programmes is on the cards over the coming weeks with journalists 'indefinitely' working to rule following a twenty four-hour strike on Monday. The BBC News Channel is like to be most affected by the action, which is taking place in protest over compulsory redundancies. Following last Friday's strike, another twenty four hour stoppage is due to take place on Monday. National Union of Journalists' members at the corporation have been told in an internal memo that 'an indefinite work to rule will begin across the BBC from 00.01 on Tuesday 2 August immediately following the twenty four hour strike.' According to corporation sources, working to rule could be more effective at causing disruption because many staff on the BBC News Channel 'act up' to cover more senior positions during busy news days. On Tuesday afternoon, talks are taking place between the NUJ and BBC management over the three members of staff in BBC Monitoring and the World Service who have been made compulsorily redundant. It is understood that another NUJ member has been made compulsorily redundant since last week's strike, despite sitting and passing a test for an alternative job. According to the internal memo there is also a claim that 'work which could be done by a second member dismissed from BBC Monitoring is being done by individuals flown in from overseas instead.' Meanwhile, BBC management has agreed to meet all the broadcasting unions on 11 August to discuss the corporation's stance on redundancies in light of the cuts due to take place as a result of the Delivering Quality First initiative. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'We are disappointed that the NUJ has chosen to take industrial action and implement work to rule over these redundancies. These actions do not alter the fact that the BBC is faced with a number of potential compulsory redundancies following significant cuts to the central government grants that support the World Service and BBC Monitoring. We will continue with our efforts to reduce the need for compulsory redundancies. However, the number of posts that we are having to close means that unfortunately it is likely to be impossible for us to avoid some compulsory redundancies. The BBC has been in continuous dialogue with the NUJ over the past week.'

Yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite human being in the world today is Keith Olbermann for tearing the odious Glenn Beck a new asshole. I haven't always been the greatest fan of Olbermann in the past - he does tend to view the world is somewhat black and white terms which I'd prefer he didn't. But I was standing on my seat applauding this one.

Torchwood star John Barrowman has insisted that Captain Jack's deceased lover Ianto Jones 'won't be coming back into the series.' The death of Ianto (played by the excellent Gareth David-Lloyd) during the SF drama's third series in 2009 sparked a furious outcry from some of the madder end of Torchwood fandom, but Barrowman said in an interview with The Windy City Times that a resurrection for the character is unlikely. 'I think we have moved on,' Barrowman explained. 'Russell Davies explains it better - he says we couldn't have transplanted the show in the States and brought the entire company with it. People had to die!'

Doctor Who's Matt Smith has described an upcoming episode as 'trippy and psychedelic.' The actor told Wired that the tenth episode of the current season, written by Tom MacRae, has the feel of a Stanley Kubrick film. Smith said: 'It's this mad, trippy, Kubrick-y sort of episode. But that's what Doctor Who at it's best should be. I think that's what they had in the '70's [and] that's what episode ten does.' Smith also claimed that his co-star Karen Gillan gives 'the performance of her life' in the episode. 'I think [it's] the best performance she's ever done in Doctor Who,' he said. MacRae recently confirmed on Twitter that his episode will be titled The Girl Who Waited, believed to be a reference to Gillan's character Amy Pond. He wrote: 'The title of my new episode of Doctor Who wot I wrote has been announced! But what, or who, is she waiting for? [sic]'

Jeff Stelling may perform an about-turn on his decision to stand down as Countdown host. A production insider has claimed that the Sky Sports presenter wants to discuss staying on the Channel Four game show. 'I would be very surprised if Jeff didn't stay on now,' the source told the Mirra. 'He made the decision to quit because he feared his hectic workload would make it impossible to focus on Countdown. But it has become clear that Jeff should be able to manage the schedule alongside his other work.' Stelling, who has hosted the programme since January 2009, announced his decision to leave in May, saying that he wanted to devote more time to his responsibilities at Sky. The fifty five-year-old is due to leave the show at the end of 2011 and Rory Bremner, Aled Jones and Dictionary Corner regular Gyles Brandreth had all been tipped as replacements for him. A spokesperson for broadcaster Channel Four confirmed that discussions about next year's presenting team were 'ongoing.'

Craig Cash has confirmed to the Digital Spy website that there will be another Royle Family special later this year. Cash, who writes and stars in the BBC1 comedy with Caroline Aherne, said that the sitcom will be back for another festive one-off. 'We're going to do another episode at Christmas. We think that the characters still have lots of mileage. They are very popular. And my wife wants a new kitchen,' he claimed. When asked whether they would ever consider writing another full series, he added: 'It takes it out of you doing six weeks. And then there's the time it takes to write and edit. I think the public like it as a one-off at Christmas and it seems to work. But who knows, we may do a series one time again.' Recent Royle Family specials The New Sofa, The Golden Eggcup and Joe's Crackers have been huge ratings hits. Cash and fellow Royle Family star Ralf Little recently reunited for new Sky1 comedy series The Cafe, which will be broadcast in the autumn.

The government has been ordered to release cabinet records of discussions in the immediate aftermath of the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was briefed about the tragedy and held several meetings about the disaster in which ninety six Liverpool fans died. Information Commissioner Christopher Graham ruled that the information was 'in the public interest.' The Cabinet Office said it had yet to receive the commissioner's ruling. Graham's judgement relates to a Freedom Of Information request from the BBC which was refused by the Cabinet Office in 2009. The government has either twenty eight days to appeal or thirty five days in which to release the documents. The files include reports presented to Thatcher and correspondence between her office and the then home secretary Douglas Hurd, and minutes of meetings she attended. Graham's decision notice said the 'specific content of the information in question would add to public knowledge and understanding about the reaction of various parties to that event, including the government of the day, in the early aftermath.' Graham also criticised the Cabinet Office for 'unjustified and excessive delays' in handling the BBC request. The request had been followed by an internal review which upheld the refusal. Relatives of the Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough tragedy said they were pleased they might discover Thatcher's 'thoughts' on the disaster. They expressed surprise that the commissioner had ordered the Cabinet Office to release the documents, despite the thirty-year rule stopping publication of cabinet minutes. Pat Joynes, a member of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said: 'I'm very pleased that the papers are going to be handed over. Twenty-two years ago, when Mrs Thatcher came to Liverpool Cathedral, my husband asked her face to face if there was going to be a cover-up, and she said: "Mr Joynes, there will be no cover-up." But there has been a cover-up which has persisted ever since.' Another member of the group Ann Williams, who lost her fifteen-year-old son Kevin in the tragedy, said: 'This is good news. I'm very surprised. I thought the government would block it. At least now, we may get to the truth.' Ninety-five Liverpool supporters were killed in a crush of fans at the Hillsborough ground in Sheffield, where the club was playing an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest. The ninety sixth victim was left in a coma for three years and died in 1992. An inquiry into the disaster held that the main reason for the overcrowding was the failure of police control.

Two police officers in Australia defended themselves from a rogue kangaroo by pepper-spraying it. Police were dispatched on Sunday to a home in an outback area in Queensland, Australia when an elderly woman was attacked and knocked to the ground by the animal. Entering the backyard, the first officer was forced to use his pepper spray on the kangaroo to protect himself. The kangaroo then targeted the second officer, after which the animal was pepper-sprayed a second time. A senior sergeant told The AP: '[The pepper spray] did subdue the animal and drew its attention away for the officers, so it worked. After that, it hopped away from the scene, but police could still monitor its location - it didn't go too far.' The injured elderly woman was taken to a local hospital where she was treated to cuts and bruises. She mentioned to the Courier Mail that she was trying to fend off the kangaroo with her broom when she was being attacked. 'I thought it was going to kill me,' she said. 'It was taller than me and it just plowed through the clothes on the washing line straight for me.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day let's stick with the It's Grim Oop North theme.
With a bit of Busker.
And a touch of David Baird.


Anonymous said...

I don't get what the idea of this series is... If you parachuted the "Geordie Lasses" in to downtown Manila they'd have a bigger culture shock than the "posh totty"... so what have you achieved? people live in different environments.. well duh!!! what another waste of money from the left wing socialist moneywasters that are the BBC

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping said...

No, dear blog reader, this doesn't appear to be a wind-up. Or, if it is, it's a good one and fooled yer actual Keith Telly Topping. For our anonymous friend's information, the phrase 'left wing socialist' is an oxymoron since, by definition, you can't have a 'right wing socialist.'

So, it's off back to the fantastically conservative (small c) entertainment provided by ITV for you then, pal.

Let us know what they're doing wrong as well.

Anonymous said...


Yer actual Keith Telly Topping said...


If you shout too loud people in the South will hear you!