Thursday, July 07, 2011

She's Got No Sense, The Silly Little Cow And If He Comes Round 'Ere There's Gonna Be A Row!

The latest allegations in the News of the World hacking saga once again fill the front pages of the morning papers. 'Even war widows on hackers' hit-list' says the Daily Scum Mail's headline, with the kind of impotent fury they usually save for stories about asylum seekers. The Daily Mirra - which, if you believe everything said in the House of Commons yesterday, may well have been involved in exactly this sort of rank naughtiness itself at some stage - declares the alleged developments 'morally obscene.' The Financial Times describes Rupert Murdoch's newspaper operations in the UK as having been 'engulfed' by 'a positive tsunami of fresh claims.' If all the allegations are true, the Independent's Simon Carr suggests then News International would appear to be 'in breach of all the ten commandments.' Plus, of course, the eleventh, Thou Shalt Not Get Caught. And also: 'The Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Broadcasting Code and very possibly Newton's Laws of Motion.' Steady. Murdoch's bid for outright control of BSkyB is now 'in jeopardy,' it adds. Meanwhile, the Daily Lies manages to fit the story it into a small, above-the-fold slot alongside details of Coronation Street lesbians, Rio Ferdinand's sex life and 'Wills and Kate canoeing.' And then people wonder why the British press is held up to such ridicule around the world. Predictably the Gruniad also splashes on the phone-hacking scandal on their front page. Although, to be fair to them and it hurts me to say this but, if anybody has a right to feel just a bit morally smug this morning, it's the Gruniad. They've been running this story for years when nobody else - certainly in the media - would touch it with a barge pole. This is their Watergate and they've - whether one likes it or not - done a public service in bringing this horrorshow to people's attention. Whether they wanted to listen, or otherwise. And, it's often over the past few years been 'otherwise.' Their front page shows a picture of David Cameron and Rebekah Brooks taken in 2009. The headline reads: 'The day the prime minister was forced to act on phone hacking'. The Gruniad says 'for years MPs have been terrified of the Murdoch press ... but that has gone.' And, all hyperbole aside, there did seem to be a genuine feeling of the worm turning in the Commons yesterday as wave after wave of MPs from all political stripes stood up and denounced News International. The paper thinks that the vile and odious rascal Hunt waving the merger through 'would be extraordinary now,' while the Mirra agrees the deal is 'in turmoil' as 'the sky falls in on Murdoch.' The Times - a Murdoch paper, of course - believes that 'it could be weeks' before the government decides whether or not to approve the takeover. The paper points out it is not just the press who have been put 'in the dock' by the scandal - but the police too. The Times' front page story says that five journalists and newspaper executives suspected of involvement in the News of the World phone hacking scandal are expected to be arrested within days.
The first, and most obviously direct, consequence of the latest set of revelations was that The Royal British Legion has dropped the News of the World as its campaigning partner. The charity expressed 'revulsion' at the latest revelations, saying it took the decision following the disclosure that bereaved relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan may have had their phones hacked by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked for the News of the World until his arrest and conviction for phone hacking. MPH Solicitors, whose clients include Samantha Roberts, the widow of Sergeant Steven Roberts of the Second Royal Tank Regiment, said they had been contacted on Wednesday by a newspaper and told Roberts's phone may have been hacked, along with a mobile belonging to Geraldine McCool, her lawyer. The RBL said it had suspended all relations with the newspaper pending a resolution of the allegations. 'We can't with any conscience campaign alongside News of the World on behalf of armed forces families while it stands accused of preying on these same families in the lowest depths of their misery,' an RBL spokesman said. 'The hacking allegations have shocked us to the core.' The charity, which campaigns and provides welfare services for members of the armed forces and their families, also said its advertising budget with News International was under review. It also advertises in the Sun and on the Sun's Forces Channel online. The RBL campaigned with the News of the World on military covenant issues and was preparing to join forces in another campaign to save the chief coroner's office from abolition. 'Clearly, it would make a mockery of that campaign to go hand-in-hand with News of the World. We think we'll do better without them,' the spokesman said. The head of the armed forces, general Sir David Richards, condemned the allegations that bereaved military families phones were hacked. 'If these actions are proved to have been verified, I am appalled. I find it quite disgusting,' he told Sky News. An MoD spokesman said: 'This is a matter for the Metropolitan police who are investigating these allegations. It would be inappropriate for us to comment whilst this investigation is ongoing.'

Alan Johnson, the former home secretary, yesterday accused the Metropolitan police of a 'certain lethargy' in its investigation of illegal phone hacking allegations at the News of the World. In the emergency Commons debate in which MPs across the house criticised the police and News International, Johnson said that Scotland Yard had possessed all of the information which is now emerging about Milly Dowler, the 7/7 victims and so on as early as 2006. Among other comments made during the extraordinary three-hour debate were Labour backbencher Tom Watson accusing James Murdoch of personally authorising 'a cover-up of the phone hacking scandal' and said there was had been attempt 'to destroy News International data at the HCL storage facility in Chennai, India.' And, John Whittingdale, the Tory chairman of the Commons culture select committee, said that senior figures from News International had denied knowledge of phone hacking whilst the police already had evidence that it had taken place. Johnson, who was home secretary when the Gruniad first published evidence in July 2009 that News International had paid more than one million pounds to settle legal cases, said that Scotland Yard had persuaded him 'not to pursue the matter' on the grounds that it was an obsession of the news group. Johnson admitted to MPs that a public inquiry could be 'awkward' for him personally, as he had failed to call for a review of the police investigation into criminal wrongdoing after the Gruniad reported in July 2009 that News International had paid seven hundred thousand pounds to Gordon Taylor. The chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association sued the News of the World after Glenn Mulcaire, the investigator used by the newspaper, admitted hacking his phone. The former home secretary said: 'I wish I could give a really eloquent explanation of how brilliant I was as a home secretary that would give me an insight into why I didn't act. I can't do that. I can say this. In July 2009, when the allegation was made about Gordon Taylor and the Guardian's front-page story, we did look very carefully. There wasn't much we could say beyond talking to the commissioner and John Yates in particular and others to say: "Look, is there anything behind this?" I have to tell you that the atmospherics, the mood, the public mood, the mood in parliament, the mood elsewhere, was this was an obsession of one newspaper. Let us praise the Guardian for doggedly staying on this case. We were told this was the obsession of one newspaper and a few individual backbenchers. What was the view in the Home Office at the time? We looked very seriously about whether to have an independent review of the Metropolitan Police's investigation. Whilst lots of things have happened over the years since 2006, everything takes you back to that original inquiry led by Andy Hayman in 2005-6. All the information that is now emerging was there at that time. So the idea of getting Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to go in and do an independent investigation – I was told for the Independent Police Complaints Commission it was outside their remit. That may not be the case now. There was a view that we should wait for the [director of public prosecutions] to report as well. It was Keir Starmer. The DPP said on the information given to him by the police there was no cause for any further investigation. So we were all swimming around here wondering whether we were receiving the correct information or not.' Johnson quoted 'very clear statements' from the police which said it was an operational matter for them to inform people if their phones had been hacked. He said: 'There were very clear statements being made to us. You do get the Home Office [saying] if we call an independent investigator in … it would cause a serious concern because politicians will be interfering in an operational matter.' Johnson added: 'I have huge regard for the Metropolitan police, I have huge regard for the work they do. Were they being evasive, were they being dishonest, were they being lethargic? I think it's one of those three. I think there was a certain lethargy that, with so much else going on, we've got two people banged up, do we need to go any further into this?' Watson, the former Labour Cabinet Office minister who has followed the hacking scandal tenaciously, used parliamentary privilege to accuse James Murdoch of authorising a cover-up. 'The whole board of News International is responsible for this company. I believe Mr James Murdoch should be suspended from office while the police now investigate what I believe is his personal authorisation to plan a cover-up of this scandal. Mr James Murdoch is the chairman. It is clear now that he personally, and without board approval, authorised money to be paid by his company to silence people who'd been hacked and to cover up criminal behaviour within his organisation. This is nothing short of an attempt to pervert the course of justice. There is no escape now for News International from the responsibility for systematically breaking the law. There is now also no escape from the fact that they sought to pervert the course of justice. The police should also ask Mr James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks whether they know of the attempted destruction of data at the HCL storage facility in Chennai, India.' Whittingdale read out evidence from the former News International chairman Les Hinton, who told his committee in 2007 that only one News of the World journalist had hacked phones. He added that Tom Crone, the company's legal manager, Stuart Kuttner, the former managing editor and the former editor Andy Coulson had all blamed the so-called 'rogue reporter,' former royal editor Clive Goodman. Whittingdale said: 'Almost every piece of evidence we are now learning about has been in the possession of the police since 2006. That raises very serious questions about why it was not pursued, and why we were told repeatedly that the evidence did not exist, and why the police assured us that there was no evidence to suggest that the investigation should go any further.' Zac Goldsmith, said that the Murdoch empire had become too powerful. Which is a bit rich coming from Jimmy Goldsmith's son, frankly, but, hey, there's nothing so zealous as a sinner repented. And he did, undeniably, give one of the most powerful and impressive speeches of the day noting: 'We have seen, I would say, systemic abuse of almost unprecedented power. There is nothing noble in what these newspapers have been doing. Rupert Murdoch is clearly a very, very talented businessman, he's possibly even a genius, but his organisation has grown too powerful and has abused that power. It has systematically corrupted the police and in my view has gelded this parliament to our shame.'

Meanwhile, the former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald QC – who was implicated in the initial botched police inquiry into phone hacking – has joined News International as a paid adviser to aid its legal case over allegations that News of the World journalists paid police for information. Macdonald was DPP and head of the Crown Prosecution Service during the initial inquiries in 2005-06 when, the Gruinad states, 'the CPS privately knew the true scale of the phone hacking but failed to widen the net beyond cases involving investigator Glenn Mulcaire and reporter Clive Goodman.' The appointment was revealed in the Commons during the three-hour emergency debate on the hacking allegations, bringing allegations of a conflict of interest. Labour MPs called on the Liberal Democrat peer to 'examine his conscience,' while the human rights lawyer Imran Khan said: 'It's got trouble written all over it.' Paul Farrelly, the Labour MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, member of the culture, media and sport select committee and another MP, like Tom Watson and Chris Bryant who has continued to push for an inquiry into the News of the World's activities when no one else was listening, told the chamber: 'The former DPP should not only be invited to examine his ethics and his conscience, but also his record in this because the DPP is equally culpable in failing to get to the bottom of this affair.' Khan told the Gruniad: 'Whatever role he takes, it raises the potential of a conflict of issue. How can he give impartial advice when there is an issue about his own personal involvement? It's got trouble written all over it. He has the skills, but is he right given his own involvement? You have to question the motives of why News International is hiring a criminal lawyer rather than a media lawyer.' Labour's David Hanson, a former policing minister, asked the Attorney General Dominic Grieve to investigate whether it was appropriate that Macdonald, head of the Crown Prosecution Service from 2003 to 2008 during the original phone-hacking probe, was now advising the News of the World. Grieve said: 'My understanding of the matter was that Lord Macdonald had been appointed by the News of the World to help them with their disclosure process to the police. That is a matter for Lord Macdonald in accordance with the professional code of conduct at bar.' He added: 'Without knowing the circumstances, which I don't, in which Lord Macdonald may or may not be involved with advising News of the World in this matter, I don't think it is appropriate to comment on further. I'm very happy to go away and have a look at it.' Yes, Dominic, you do that. And, let us all know what you find out. If anything. The Gruniad revealed in March this year the extent of the Metropolitan police and CPS's knowledge of the scale of the hacking problem during their first inquiry in 2006. Under Macdonald, CPS paperwork revealed a potential 'vast number' of victims, despite Scotland Yard insisting that it had found 'only a handful' of cases and a smaller number of potential prosecutions. The paperwork also revealed that police and prosecutors appeared to adopt a deliberate strategy to 'ring fence' the evidence which they presented in court in order to suppress the names of particularly prominent victims, including members of the royal family. One CPS memo, dated 8 August 2006, said: 'It was recognised early in this case that the investigation was likely to reveal a vast array of offending behaviour. However, the CPS and the police concluded that aspects of the investigation could be focused on a discrete area of offending relating to JLP and HA and the suspects Goodman and Mulcaire.' The initials refer to Jamie Lee-Pinkerton and Helen Asprey, two of the three Palace employees who were named in court as victims of phone hacking. John Yates, the current acting commissioner of the Met and Keir Starmer, the current DPP, got into a public spat earlier this year over who was responsible for the narrow remit of that inquiry, which partly hinged on the decision to only investigate cases where voicemails were intercepted before they were listened to. Farrelly said that the committee had been convinced by Yates's argument that the CPS was responsible for advising the Met to focus in on those cases. 'The DPP's role in this is hardly exemplary in holding the police to account. Under Macdonald's reign the DPP's performance in challenging the police and holding them to account over the inquiry was simply inadequate. They simply rubber-stamped what the police were doing. It's completely wrong on all levels that he has accepted that role. It shouldn't happen. He should be barred and it's a disgrace.' Macdonald was a co-founder of the leading human rights chambers Matrix, and is also on the board of Index on Censorship, which campaigns for freedom of expression. One senior QC told the Gruniad: 'It's hard to see how he could stay on at Index on Censorship considering this. He carries the can for the complete mess-up of the early inquiry. There is a question about whether he turned a blind eye when he oversaw the investigation into News of the World. Now he seems to be a counsel to News of the World.' News International confirmed the appointment in a statement, which said: 'Lord Macdonald QC, the highly regarded former Director of Public Prosecutions, has been appointed by the News Corporation board to advise News International on the extensive co-operation it is providing to the Metropolitan Police Service regarding any inquiries into police payments at the News of the World. The appointment, which was made in May, is one of a series of measures to address these issues since January 2011 when information was voluntarily disclosed by News International that re-opened the investigation into illegal voicemail interception known as Operation Weeting.' Of course, the question needs to be asked exactly why News International need someone to 'advise them' on their 'extensive co-operation'? Just extensively co-operate, it doesn't require anything more than that? Unless, of course, one still have more skeletons in the cupboard that one wishes to hide.

Witness statements at the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial are to be probed following new allegations in the News of the World phone hacking scandal. The Crown Office has asked Strathclyde Police for 'a preliminary assessment' and to hand any findings to prosecutors for possible further action. Those who gave evidence at the trial included Bob Bird, Douglas Wight and former editor Andy Coulson. Sheridan was jailed for lying during his successful defamation case in 2006. During the emergency Westminster debate on the News of the World phone hacking scandal, Tom Watson, said that he believed there was now a question over the reliability of the former MSP's conviction. 'I think the Sheridan trial was unsound and may need to be revisited,' he said. On Tuesday he told BBC Scotland that News of the World e-mails relating to Sheridan had been found in London, despite claims during the perjury trial that they had been 'lost' in India. During his evidence, Coulson denied knowing of Glenn Mulcaire until the Goodman court case became public in 2006. He told the court: 'I don't accept there was a culture of phone hacking at the News of the World.' When asked by Sheridan, who was defending himself, whether his newspaper had ever paid corrupt police officers, Coulson answered 'not to my knowledge.' The contents of certain e-mails passed by the News of the World to the police recent appear to, at the very least, challenge that assertion. 'There is nothing I am not prepared to discuss in relation to my time at the News of the World,' he said during heated exchanges with Sheridan.

Meanwhile, Newsnight has reported that the Metropolitan Police identified 'three or four officers' who were 'paid up to tens of thousands of pounds' to supply information to the News of the World. According to the report, the officers concealed the illegal trade in information by classifying certain journalists as 'confidential police sources.' Conservative MP Anna Soubry told the programme that she believed the focus of an inquiry should be the relationship between journalists and the police. Referring to Tom Watson's speech in parliament earlier, she says that if the Labour MP's allegations are accurate, the implications were devastating. 'I'm afraid the police are coming out of this very badly. The police should be enforcing the law and they're not because they're being bribed by the press,' she added. Rather more predictably, Soubry then defended David Cameron's appointment of Andy Coulson, rejecting suggestions that the prime minister had shown poor judgement. Bill Emmott, a freelance columnist for The Times, told the programme that he was ashamed that well-known Crystal Tipps-lookalike Rebekah Brooks had 'not resigned already' over the phone hacking scandal. Emmott predicted that there would be a groundswell of support for statutory regulation of the press because it has 'laughed at self-regulation.'

On Twitter Robert Pestinfestation suggests that the volume of submissions on BSkyB means the vile and odious rascal and spineless coward Hunt 'won't be able to make his decision until September at the earliest.' In a question in the House of Lords, the shadow leader of the house, Lady Royall, called for a delay 'in the light of the loss of public and commercial confidence in News International,' News of the World's parent company. But the government peer, Lady Rawlings, said that the lack of culture secretary, was 'satisfied' there were 'sufficient safeguards' in place to make such a delay unnecessary.

He was, until the beginning of this year, the prime minister's communications chief and one of his most trusted advisers. Before that, he had been the editor of Britain's most-read Sunday newspaper. But this week, News International, Andy Coulson's former employer, suggested that he might face further questions about his own role in the hacking affair. On Tuesday, News International indicated that it was aware of 'worse' allegations than the suggestion that the News of the World had hacked into the mobile phone belonging to Milly Dowler, and that more would come to light in subsequent days. It turned out that the subject of the allegations was Coulson, once a fellow rising star and close friend of Rebekah Brooks when she edited and he was her deputy at the News of the World. It fell first to the BBC's business editor, Robert Pestinfestation – a close friend and former colleague of Rebekah Brooks' number two, Will Lewis – to reveal on the Ten O'Clock News that 'News international has uncovered e-mails that indicate payments were made to the police by the News of the World, during the editorship from 2003 to 2007 of Andy Coulson.' This came at the very moment that the Dowler allegations were being adding to by new reports that families of the victims of the 7/7 bombings had also been targeted by Glenn Mulcaire on the orders of someone at the News of the World. That was followed by the Gruniad's report that News International had established that Brooks was - very conveniently - on holiday in Italy when the controversial Milly Dowler news story first appeared; Coulson would have normally edited the paper in her absence. However former staffers at the tabloid also recall that Brooks usually got her office to fax her proofs of the newspaper to examine whenever she was away. The question marks about Coulson may have emerged at a moment of crisis for Brooks, but the rupture between the News International chief executive and Coulson has been brewing for some months, according to the Gruniad. Brooks. they claim, has been criticising Coulson with surprising candour in private meetings. She and other senior figures at the company – such as Les Hinton, the former chairman of News International who is now chief executive officer of Dow Jones And Company – were, the newspaper state, 'unhappy' that Coulson was so wedded to such a high-profile role. News International 'sources' allegedly said that Coulson had told Hinton he would only work for David Cameron in opposition, and not make the transition to government – where his continued presence gave an additional justification to the phone-hacking story. Coulson started working for the Tories in 2007 immediately after he resigned as editor of the News of the World following the conviction of Clive Goodman, its former royal editor, for hacking Prince William's phone. One 'source' allegedly told the Gruniad: 'This whole business would not be moving like this if Andy had not gone into Downing Street. Andy told Les Hinton that he would not go into Downing Street after the election. Why did he go? It was hubris. The Camerons made the classic mistake of underestimating their enemies. They didn't think Labour would go for this.' News International insists that it did not undermine Coulson when it issued a statement to Vanity Fair on Tuesday confirming that it had passed e-mails to the police showing that Coulson knew of payments to police officers. Although, in practice, that's exactly what they did do. Simon Greenberg, the News International spokesman, said that it was important to explain the e-mails had been handed to the police because Vanity Fair was suggesting that the company was sitting on the e-mails. 'It is wrong to say we are hanging Andy out to dry,' the 'source' allegedly added: 'We are just going through the evidence and passing anything on as soon as we see anything.' Downing Street last night said that the prime minister 'still stood by' a supportive statement he made when Coulson resigned as his communications director in January. But, the question appears to be this morning, for how much longer?

Twitter users bombarded Rebekah Brooks with abuse yesterday over the News of the World phone hacking scandal – unfortunately many picked the wrong one, targeting a writer of the same name from America. A young woman with the same name as the under-fire former News Of The World editor, whose Twitter name is @Rebekah_Brooks, was shocked to find herself at the centre of an online storm. But this Rebekah Brooks - a freelance writer from New Hampshire who runs a Civil War history blog - was bearing no grudges after being confused with the News International chief executive. In fact, she used her account to thank all her new followers, whilst putting them straight about her identity. She wrote, amusing: 'Thank you everyone for all the supportive tweets and kind words! I love the UK and hate corrupt journalists, so I am on your side!' She said she found it 'funny' to be confused with the woman she described as her 'evil British twin.' She added: 'It's okay, I understand the anger directed at @RebekahBrooks. I'm glad people are outraged. She should be held accountable.' But some Twitter users took a while to be convinced, with one noting: 'Ah, but you've got long curly ginger hair, are you sure you're not really an unscrupulous former newspaper editor?'

The Belfast Telegraph is reporting that Gary Lineker is consider his position as a News of the World columnist. How bad's it going to get before it gets better, Rupert? First Mumsnet, then the British Legion, now Gary Lineker. It'll be the Queen next, mark my words.

More details are emerging about the garden party thrown by Matthew Freud and Elisabeth Murdoch in Oxfordshire last weekend, where the guests included Rebekah Brooks, Alan Yentob and film director Tim Burton. It turns out that the Robert Pestinfestation was also at the bash, 'resplendent in a peach cotton scarf' according to the Gruniad although what Pestinfestation's sartorial taste has to do with anything is, at this time, somewhat beyond this blogger. 'He was huddled together with Brooks, [Will] Lewis and James Murdoch for a good part of the evening,' according to an eyewitness. Meanwhile, Jon Snow of Channel Four News, which would break fresh revelations about Brooks later in the week, apparently cavorted on the dance floor 'in embarrassing dad fashion.' That hasn't got anything to do with anything either. But, the image it summons up is, undeniably, funny. If the NI boss had known about the coverage Channel Four News had planned she would have stuck a foot out as he strutted his stuff.

Luther, the BBC1 detective drama starring Idris Elba, ended its second series with its biggest ever overnight audience. An average audience of 5.74m watched the final instalment across the 9pm hour, according to BARB. It translated into a series overnight average of 5.49m across the four-part run, topping last year’s overnights average of 4.24m. The second series finale also ranked as the biggest ever 'live' audience for Luther, the previous high coming for the first series debut when 5.65m on 4 May 2010. It also topped BBC1's year-to-date slot average of 5.06m. And, as regular dear blog readers will know, the series has been timeshifting very well this year. The final consolidated figures for the last episode will be available early next week. The News of the World phone hacking scandal helped Newsnight to its biggest audience of the year. As allegations swirled about the paper's attempts to illegally access the phone messages of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and others, the flagship current affairs programme attracted an audience of 1.03m from 10pm to 11.20pm on BBC2. The ratings hit a five-minute high of 1.13m at 10.40pm as a debate on the issue - featuring Alastair Campbell and Arianna Huffington - was in full swing. It was easily the largest audience for a standard edition of Newsnight this year. A special edition on the assassination of Osama bin Laden in May was watched by 1.2m while the show also attracted an audience of 1.11m for a one-off debate on the Terry Pratchett euthanasia documentary last month.

Now, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is forced to admit he's not the greatest New Tricks fan in the world (although he did watch and quite enjoy this week's series opening episode) but, it was hard not to have a wee bit of ones faith in the TV viewing public restored by the eight million audience who watched it on Monday. Purely because it's a necessary reminder to many within the industry that not everybody who watches TV is in the eighteen to forty nine demographic and with plenty of disposable income. Old people watch television too. Lots of them. And, they are usually very badly served by both the schedules and the thinking behind the schedules. However, before we get too carried away with a campaign for greyness, it's worth looking at the New Tricks demographics because they are are fascinating. It has a, generally, older audience (forty four per cent of which are aged sixty five or over). However, because the show is so big and gets a regular audience of around eight million viewers, even though only a small portion of that audience are of a younger age, in raw numbers New Tricks ends up being one of the top most watched TV shows among eighteen to forty nine year olds for the week. Only four programmes in the list were more popular than New Tricks with this particular demographic: The Apprentice, Top Gear, Luther and Babies Behind Bars. Everything else, even programmes which are specifically aimed to get those eighteen to forty nines, ended up with a lower audience in that particular age bracket than New Tricks. It just goes to show that if the audience is large enough, even if a small percentage of that audience is in the - so-called - ABC1 demographic, it could still end up as a high number of viewers in the 'young and vital' age-range. Monday's episode had a whopping fifty eight per cent audience share among viewers aged sixty five plus. Although, with James Bolan and 'that nice Mr Waterman who sings the theme song' on TV, you've really got to wonder what the other forty two per cent of pensioners were watching instead.

Doctor Who executive producer Beth Willis is to leave the series, it has been announced. Willis will join Kudos Film and Television in September to produce and develop scripted programming. She previously working for the company on the first two series of Ashes to Ashes in 2007 and 2009. Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat said in a statement: 'We couldn't keep her forever, though God knows I tried. Beth Willis is off to be brave and brilliant in brand new ways, and the sad news for Doctor Who is that from now on it will be somewhere else.' He added: 'This show owes more to her fearlessness and honesty than I have time to explain and [we all] wish her the very best at Kudos.' Willis herself described her time on Doctor Who as 'the most fantastic experience. However the opportunity to return to Kudos, a company whose creativity is so inspirational was a temptation I couldn't resist,' she explained. 'The plans taking shape for the next series of Doctor Who and for the fiftieth Anniversary are beyond exciting, and with Steven Moffat at the helm, this incredibly special time for the show is in very safe hands.' 'Beth leaves Doctor Who in rude health with the last series up on its average audience, keeping millions of fans gripped every week,' added the BBC's Controller of Drama Commissioning Ben Stephenson. Willis's Doctor Who co-producer Piers Wenger also recently announced that he will be leaving the show to take up a new post as senior commissioning executive at Film4.

Torchwood star Eve Myles has insisted that new ten-part series Miracle Day is not a reboot. The actress told The Hollywood Reporter that the SF drama 'remains the same programme.' Myles said: 'We're not [becoming] CSI: Miami overnight.' I should bloody well hope not! 'We were ferocious [and] fierce about keeping what Torchwood is, and what kind of story [we] are going to make. And at the heart of it is Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper.' Myles also claimed that the BBC's decision to co-produce Miracle Day with US cable network Starz allowed the Torchwood cast and crew 'to make what we wanted to make. [Our aim was to] make the best show we can possibly make, and let's keep making it,' she explained. 'Let's keep giving people what they want, and let's keep us all working together on making something fantastic.' She also suggested that the version of Torchwood proposed by the FOX network in early 2010 would have been subject to 'a lot more restrictions. I don't think we would have been able to tell the story quite as well as we have done,' she said. However, Myles admitted that aspects of Torchwood: Miracle Day do have an American feel. 'Obviously there's an American feel to it, because of the circumstances of the show,' she said. 'But if the question is, "Have we tamed things down or heightened anything else to accommodate it being an American show?" then no. It's still feisty and cheeky and naughty, and dark and thrilling.'

It was a case of lights, camera, action at Housesteads Roman Fort in Northumberland on Tuesday, as filming began on a new BBC1 television series exploring the stories behind some of Britain's most fascinating historical locations. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's been there several times. It's very nice. Just in case you ever feel the urge to visit yourselves, dear blog reader. Anyway, the historian Dan Snow and ONE Show presenter Michael Douglas dropped in on the English Heritage site following a day filming at locations along world heritage site Hadrian's Wall, for a new five-part history series called National Treasures Live. The popular television presenters were filming scenes at the dramatic hill top fort to capture the stories behind it for an episode dedicated to the Romans - to be shown in August as part of a special history road trip feature for the series. As well as visiting Housesteads, the presenters also filmed scenes along other parts of Hadrian's Wall at Winshields and Cawfields. As part of the trip - which will be broadcast weekly across the summer - history guru Dan, will lead Michael, who has admitted he knows very little about history, to locations around the country, as he sets out to answer Michael's inquisitive questions and show him how the past can still be enjoyed in the stories that exist all around us today. Dan, looking windswept and interesting as ever - and, arguably, a far better dancer than his father's cousin, Jon (see above) said: 'Housesteads is arguably one of the most interesting and picturesque sites along Hadrian's Wall and as a World Heritage site steeped in Roman history, it made perfect sense for us to include it within the episode dedicated to Romans. We look forward to the show being broadcast and hopefully viewers at home will be able to take away as much from the series as both Michael and myself have and visit Housesteads Roman Fort for themselves.' Presented by Dan and Sian Williams, National Treasures Live will be broadcast at historical locations across the summer as part of a five-part series giving viewers unique access to some of Britain's most exciting venues, which will include restorations, digs and heritage sites. The series, which is part of BBC Learning campaign Hands on History, will see Dan and Sian joined by a team of regular reporters and history enthusiasts as well as a host of well-known celebrities, to reveal some of the country’s most mysterious, surprising and compelling stories.

Bones's John Francis Daley has revealed that he expects Booth and Brennan to be in a relationship next season. In the FOX drama's sixth season finale, Brennan (Emily Deschanel) confessed to Booth (David Boreanaz) that she was carrying his illegitimate love child, after the pair spent a night of red hot passion and rumpy-pumpy together (tragically, off-screen). Daley, who plays Lance Sweets on the show, told New York Magazine: 'It'll be the first time that we see them in a completely different light, and I'm just speculating, but I'm assuming that they'll have some sort of relationship this next season.' He added: 'It'll be interesting to see how that changes their relationship and their chemistry.' Daley also conceded that some Bones fans were angered by the pregnancy twist, since Booth and Brennan did not consummate their relationship on-screen. 'If it were an HBO show, things might have been different,' joked the actor. 'But they had to hide Emily's [real-life] pregnancy in the last few episodes, and I don't know how you'd hide that if they were naked in bed.' Imaginative camera angles, I'm guessing. Bones executive producer Stephen Nathan recently revealed that the seventh season will introduce an 'odd and fearless' new villain, and also hinted that the show could explore Booth's family.

The BBC will make further cuts to senior management - from three per cent of the workforce to one per cent - and curb their pay, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten says. In a speech, he said director general Mark Thompson was paid twenty six per cent less now than in 2009 and that there were already fifteen per cent fewer senior managers. But he said there was 'further to go - both in making further reductions and securing public confidence.' Changes will mean about three hundred senior posts being closed or reclassified. 'There are still too many senior managers - currently three per cent of the workforce,' he said. 'I want to see this cut to more like one per cent, by 2015 at the latest, to create a smaller group of people more clearly accountable for spending the licence fee.' As well as post closures it would 'also mean a redrawing of the boundaries around who is and is not a senior manager,' he added in his speech to the Royal Television Society. He said executive bonuses would remain frozen, private health insurance for senior managers would be scrapped and that the BBC should be more transparent about its pay structure. The BBC must 'distance itself' from the market and remain sensitive 'to the care we take in spending the licence fee,' he added. He said the BBC would be the first organisation to publish its 'pay multiple' so that licence fee payers could compare pay at the top with the rest of the workforce. As though the vast majority of licence fee payers who aren't readers of the Daily Scum Mail are even bothered. In March, Will Hutton published proposals for fair public sector pay which said an executive should not receive more than twenty times the organisation's median salary earner - the person in the middle of its pay scale. Lord Patten said the director general's pay would be capped at its current multiple, understood to be seventeen times the median. He added that when Thompson was eventually replaced, the trust would 'secure the right candidate at a lower multiple,' effectively a pay cut. Executive pay would also be capped at its current multiple, understood to be nine times, although that could be broken 'in exceptional circumstances,' Lord Patten added. He said that, while 'the BBC must continue to strive to attract and retain outstanding candidates for senior posts, the trust's intention is that over time this multiple will fall. This action on pay is important because the BBC must do right by the licence fee payers who pick up the bill and by all the staff that work throughout the organisation at every level.' Lord Patten also announced changes to the BBC's complaints procedure. To help deal with 'the particular complexities of the complaints system,' a chief complaints editor position would be created, he said.

Crazy, camp as a row of tents Brian Sewell has written one of the most thoroughly - sickeningly - homophobic articles in living memory in the Daily Scum Mail in which he accuses Coronation Street producers of making the show 'too gay.' This brought a dignified, and very well written, piece by actor Charlie Condou (who plays Marcus) in the Gruniad: 'Sewell seems to suggest there's something morally reprehensible in being gay, and that there's some kind of promotion of a gay agenda at work (led by a sinister-sounding "mafia"). But in fact you barely see a kiss from the gay characters, just like our heterosexual counterparts. It's not a "sexy" show. Sewell's article worries me because it seems to be part of a change in mood that reminds me of the Section Twenty Eight years, when everyone was shouting out that the gays were taking over. This week's news that Opera North had pulled the plug on Lee Hall's opera Beached over explicit references by a gay character to his sexuality has added to this. It feels like we're moving backwards, and I find that shocking.' Which is true but, I just have to ask, why on earth is this nonsense even an issue in 2011? Oh, sorry, because it's the Daily Scum Mail pushing it, that's why. Stupid of me to even ask.

When Alistair Cook and Craig Craig Kieswetter's unbeaten opening partnership in the fourth one day international versus Sir Lanka at Trent Bridge reached one hundred and thirty three, on Sky Sports Sir Ian Botham, commentating, noted that this had broken the previous record for the highest opening stand for England in an ODI against Sir Lanka. The record which it had surpassed was one hundred and thirty two set by his Sky Sports colleagues Michael Atherton and Nick Knight at Lord's in 1998. 'How long did that take?' Botham asked. 'A week?'
A woman in Australia had to escape a burning house after she tried to microwave her pyjamas. Janette Wardell, who is in her late sixties, used her microwave oven to warm up her bedwear, which resulted in a house fire at around 8.15pm. Neighbours helped Wardell escape her home in Burleigh Waters, Queensland, after which she was taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution, Courier Mail reports. Firefighters arrived on the scene to find black smoke coming out of the duplex home and extinguished the blaze. No-one was injured in the fire. Neighbour Alby Panther said: 'She told the police she was trying to warm up her pyjamas in the microwave when it exploded. It's a big no-no, but it was an accident - we're always wise later on. Janette lives alone and her house is a mess from the fire. It's quite sad, really.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day we're 'avin' a right old Cock-Er-Knee knees-up with Mr Chas and His Pal Mr Dave. Innit?

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