Wednesday, August 03, 2011

It's Too Close To Home And It's Too Near The Bone

Just in case you didn't spot it, dear blog reader, The ONE Show returned from its summer hols on Monday with a slightly-longer-than-usual episode to cover for the lack of any local news broadcasts due to the NUJ's twenty four hour strike. Thereafter, whilst Matty Baker was as professional as ever Alex Jones over-pronounced everything and spent the entire fifty minutes of the episode looking, for all the world, like a hamster had just run up her skirt leg.
So, no change there, then.

Having given - broadly - a decent preview to last night's Geordie Finishing School For Girls on the radio  yesterday afternoon, to be honest, yer actual Keith Telly Topping was a bit disappointed with the latest episode after having had many of his own preconceptions challenged by last week's effort. I still loathe the concept with every fibre of my not-inconsiderable whatsit but, tragically for anybody wanting to hate the show on general principle rather than what actually occurs on-screen, the basic idea has fallen victim to one of the oldest mistakes in the TV book. The producers forgot to take into account that not everybody hired to be part of an insulting, degrading and patronising social experiment is, necessarily, going to act in the way that is expected of them. Still, this episode felt a bit flatter - and a shade less 'honest' - than the last one. Not that there was anything wrong with it, per se - although I really do wish to hell that Steph would stop describing every body and every thing as 'charming.' It's not a ruddy landscape by Titian, young woman, it's my homeboy gaff you're talking about! Mind you, I must admit I've been to a fair few Walker house parties like that one in my time. Most of those usually end up with somebody being sick down the back of the sofa so I think they got off lightly, frankly.

The Hour's pretensions towards absolute to total historical ­accuracy were shattered into a thousand tiny fragments last week when a secretary casually claimed to be able to type one hundred words per minute. Not on a manual typewriter you can't Sally whizz! Meanwhile, in this elegant 1950s cross between ­Broadcast News, Drop the Dead Donkey and a Graham Greene novel, the excellent Burn Gorman, whom we first encountered stabbing a man in the throat in the underground in episode one, has now joined the newsroom as an Arabic translator. Now that's what yer actual Keith Telly Topping calls impressive multi-tasking. In the latest episode, reality somewhat mirrored fiction as a man from the World Service bothered the BBC unduly. Usually the other way around, isn't it? But as Tom Kish continued to arouse suspicion amongst his new colleagues, our trio of leads spent the weekend at a country mansion for a - very of-the-era - shooting party, where once again Bel was the real game being hunted. The Suez crisis, dead debutantes and all that cloak and dagger nefarious skulduggery and malarkey will have to wait until after the weekend because Bel (Romola Garai) and her annoyingly hyper reporter chum Freddie (Ben Whishaw) have been invited to join handsome but hopeless anchorman Hector (Dominic West) at his country pile. While Freddie is occupied trying to crack the code he thinks he's found in a crossword puzzle which will, he believes, lead him deeper into a conspiracy of sinister shenangians, the bored Mrs Hector is spending her time trying to decipher the mysterious lipstick smudge behind her husband's right ear. Well, this was the era of Connie Francis after all. And, you don't really need to be a budding Hercule Poirot to figure out whom done the dirty deed. The Hour shone once again among the BBC2 listings and is a genuinely beautiful sight with its hazy lighting and perfectly designed period costume. The prop department have clearly had an absolute field day. You could question the gratuitous 'haven't you ever watched Mad Men?' chain-smoking by just about everybody, the would be Los Angeles-noire jazz score and the need for a highly complex murder plot stuck in the middle of what would have probably worked just as well as a straight newsroom drama. But The Hour is still one of the best British offerings of the year, right up there with The Shadow Line and Luther in reminding us that the BBC can produce wonderful, world class drama. (And, flagship drama that for once isn't Doctor Who, at that). As has been noted elsewhere, there has been something of an obsession in many modern TV dramas of late to pack them full of very current references to Facebook and other examples of this week's in cultural thing which has the potential to limit any inherent repeat value. State of Play - brilliant as it was - suffered a bit from that. It was very 2003. Which is all very well in 2003 but a bit less impressive in 2011. It's either that or yet another Eighteenth Century Jane Austen remake. If nothing else it's great to see the Beeb finding the desire to take on the history of the last century with confidence and skill. if you haven't caught up with The Hour yet, then you're missing out on a sumptuous visual and verbal treat.

BBC America have released a new trailer for their upcoming Dramaville strand, featuring clips from The Hour, Luther, State Of Play and Whitechapel. Hosted by Idris Elba, Dramaville will broadcast 'the most groundbreaking dramas in British television' on Wednesday nights, 'kicking off at 10/9c on 17 August.'

A brooch that was going to be sold at a market for 'perhaps ten pounds' has fetched thirty one thousand smackers at a Leicestershire auction after the owner realised its true value on The Greed Roadshow. Jill Cousins, from Market Harborough, saw pictures of her brooch on the long-running BBC1 show, which a couple of tabloids claim to be a favourite of popstar Lady GaGa although that sounds like PR nonsense to me. On the programme, jewellery expert Geoffrey Munn was showing sketches of what he called his 'most wanted' items. He estimated that the brooch owned by Cousins, made by the Victorian designer and architect William Burges, was worth about ten thousand wonga. Cousins was invited to appear on Antiques Roadshow in Birmingham after she took the brooch to auctioneers Gildings for a proper valuation. She was then informed that if she had sold the piece as planned 'perhaps for ten pounds' she would have lost out on thousands of pounds. Cousins had only avoided selling the brooch on the market after 'she forgot to put it into her handbag.' Gildings said that the silver brooch was probably produced by Bruges for the wedding of his friend John Pollard Seddon and his fiancé Margaret. It is engraved with the initials 'JPMS' and features four turquoise forget-me-nots with a central red garnet heart. Mark Gilding said: 'It was all extremely exciting and Geoffrey Munn was overwhelmed to see something for which he had been looking for so long. The brooch had been inherited by Mrs Cousins's mother from her old primary school teacher twenty years before she gave it to her daughter. Neither of them liked it very much at that time. William Burges is such a highly regarded designer and architect, anything by him creates tremendous interest and items of jewellery are extremely rare. Now we hope it will attract great attention when it is offered for sale.'

Sadly yer actual Keith Telly Topping has just learned that BBC3 have decided against commissioning an eighth series of Ideal. The reason given was, apparently, that the new channel controller wanted to make a clean sweep. It's not the only casualty, of course, recently the even longer running Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps was also cancelled. The BBC3 comedy recently finished broadcasting its seventh series, having started on the channel in 2005. It starred Johnny Vegas as the central character Moz, an unemployed small-time drugs dealer operating from a grotty, run-down flat and one of the best ensamble casts on British telly. If you never saw it, you missed a work of genius. Ideal's writer and creator Graham Duff, who also played Big Gay Brian in the series, wrote to fans: 'It is a source of both pride and frustration that, at the point of cancellation, Ideal was attracting its biggest ever audiences, its highest profile guest stars and its best ever reviews. And the show is now being screened in more countries than ever before - from America to Finland and beyond. I just want to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone who has appeared in the show and worked behind the scenes over the last seven years and fifty three episodes. And a very special thanks to everyone who has supported the show and spread the word. We really wouldn't have got this far without you. It's been a truly wonderful journey and to work with such a genuinely amazing team has been both an honour and a solid hoot.' The move follows the axing of every other previously existing BBC3 sitcom by Zai Bennett, who took over the role of channel controller when previous incumbent Danny Cohen moved to BBC1 in late 2010. Other titles to have been notified of cancellation include Lunch Monkeys, How Not To Live Your Life and Coming Of Age. All of which, to be fair, were pretty crappy. Ideal wasn't. As was the case with many of the other series, Ideal's recent run had proved its most successful to date, achieving average ratings of more than five hundred and forty thousand viewers in its mid-week 10:30pm slot. It also attracted numerous big-name guest stars from both sides of the Atlantic, and consistently glowing reviews. Especially from this blog! Fans of Ideal have already launched a petition and Facebook group dedicated to saving the show. All good things ... and all that. But yer actual Keith telly Topping considers that to be a real shame. One of the few genuinely original and maverick voices in a British comedy landscape which, all too often, seems arid and devoid of creativity, gone. We may not see its like again.
Stuart Kuttner, the public face of the News of the World and its most vocal public defender for twenty two years been arrested by police investigating allegations of phone hacking and of bribing police officers to leak sensitive information at the paper. As managing editor until his resignation in July 2009, Kuttner was in charge of finances at the now-defunct and disgraced Sunday tabloid. Kuttner, seventy one, was described at the time of his resignation by the last editor of the newspaper, Colin Myler, as a man whose 'DNA is absolutely integrated into the newspaper which he has represented across the media with vigour.' Kuttner reportedly did not know he was going to be taken into custody when he arrived by appointment at a police station in London on Tuesday at 11am for questioning over the phone-hacking scandal. Police from both Operation Weeting (the investigation into phone hacking) and Operation Elveden (the investigation into allegations of inappropriate payments to police), are understood to have arrested Kuttner, who is suffering serious health problems and recently returned to the UK from treatment in the US. Kuttner is believed to have been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications, contrary to section one of the Criminal Law Act 1977, and on suspicion of corruption contrary to section one of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. They are the same allegations that well-known Crystal Tipps-lookalike Rebekah Brooks, the former News of the World editor and ex-News International chief executive, faces since her arrest last month. When Brooks faced a Commons culture, media and sport select committee hearing last month she told MPs that payments to private investigators were the responsibility of the paper's managing editor's office. Brooks admitted using private investigators during her time as editor of the tabloid between 2000 and 2003 for, she claimed, 'purely legitimate' purposes. When asked whether she had ever discussed individual payments to private investigators with Kuttner, she admitted that 'payments to private investigators would have gone through the managing editor's office.' But, she added: 'I can't remember if we ever discussed individual payments.' Kuttner's role as the public face of the News of the World proved to be key to the tabloid under the editors, Brooks – then Rebekah Wade – and her replacement, Andy Coulson, both of whom were reluctant to talk to the media. When Brooks's Sarah's Law campaign caused public hysteria in some towns and cities across the UK, it was Kuttner who faced the cameras. He also played a role in the paper's dealing with Sara Payne in the years after her eight-year-old daughter, Sarah, was abducted and murdered in July 2000. The Gruniad revealed last week that Payne's mobile phone had been targeted by the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire at a time when key members of the newspaper's executive staff were alleged to be 'working hard' to forge what Payne believed to be 'a close and genuine friendship.' Kuttner was one of those who attended the funerals of her parents. No reason was given for Kuttner's departure from the newspaper two years ago, shortly before Nick Davies's Gruniad exclusive about the out of court settlement with Grodon Taylor blew the phone-hacking story open. At the time, News International said that Kuttner would continue to work on 'specialised projects,' including its Sarah's Law campaign. In February 2008, Kuttner appeared on Radio 4's Today programme and claimed the News of the World was a 'watchdog' which guarded against corruption among those in positions of power. 'If [the use of private investigators] happens, it shouldn't happen,' he said. 'It happened once at the News of the World. The reporter was fired; he went to prison. The editor resigned.' He went on to argue that British journalism is 'a very honourable profession' and that newspapers such as the News of the World had to act as watchdogs because 'we live in an age of corrosion of politics and of public life – degradation.' His role as the public face of the News of the World continued when he visited Soham in 2002, following the disappearance of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, to defend the tabloid's decision to offer a reward of one hundred and fifty thousand smackers in conjunction with the Sun newspaper for information that could lead to their safe return. He also appeared on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost, responding to criticism of the reward and saying the man leading the investigation into the girls' disappearance, Detective Superintendent David Hankins, had welcomed it. The managing editor was also an influential presence behind the scenes. When Gordon Brown and Tony Blair gave their first joint newspaper interview for more than ten years to the tabloid in April 2005, Kuttner's byline was on the story, along with that of Ian Kirby, the paper's long-serving political editor. The arrest of Kuttner, who was news editor at the Evening Standard before moving to the News of the Scum in 1987, is the eleventh by Operation Weeting police. After being questioned by police – a process that lasted twelve hours in the case of Brooks – he is expected to be released on bail until October. Others arrested and bailed have included Brooks, ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson, ex-News of the World assistant editors Ian Edmondson, ex-News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, senior ex-News of the World journalist James Weatherup, freelance journalist Terenia Taras, an unnamed sixty three-year-old man and ex-News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman. Operation Elveden was also involved in Kuttner's arrest. Officers from Elveden are being supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The BBC has asked NATO to investigate the death of one of its journalists working in Afghanistan after reports indicated that foreign forces could have been involved. Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, twenty five, was among the nineteen people killed in attacks on 28 July in Tarin Kot, the capital of Urozgan province in the south of the country. The Taliban were initially blamed for his death, but there has since been suggestion that Afghan government troops or even NATO forces could have been responsible. The BBC has now asked the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan to investigate the attack, which took place near the governor's office, close to the main market and a building housing a local radio and TV station. Ahmed Omed was in the building when it came under attack. He joined the BBC in May 2008 as a freelance journalist used by a news provider on an ongoing basis. He most recently worked for the BBC Pashto radio service, but also contributed to the Pajwak Afghan news agency. In a statement, the BBC said: 'Following the death of BBC stringer, Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, in southern Afghanistan's Urozgan province last week various conflicting reports have emerged regarding the facts surrounding his death. The BBC has officially requested that International Security Assistance Force inquires into the circumstances of his death and reports the findings to the BBC and to his family as urgently as possible. Our thoughts remain with Ahmed Omed's friends and family at this difficult time.' A Taliban spokesman has confirmed that six suicide bombers carried out assaults on the governor's house, police headquarters and a local powerbroker's office in Tarin Kot on 28 July.

A thought struck this blogger tonight whilst catching a few minutes of BBC2's Restoration Home before The Hour started. Is it just yer actual Keith Telly Topping or would anybody else just love to know how Caroline Quentin continues to remain in regular gainful employment despite possessing no obvious sign of talent of any particular kind?

The Met Office has this week celebrated one hundred and fifty years of providing weather forecasts in Britain, from its first report predicting 'general weather probable in the next two days' to modern-day technically advanced TV broadcasts. On 1 August 1861, The Times newspaper - then not a part of Rupert Murdoch's News International - published Britain's first ever weather forecast, which was put together by Admiral Robert FitzRoy, who led the meteorological department in the Board of Trade, later renamed the Met Office. Starting with the line 'general weather probable in the next two days,' the short piece on page ten of the newspaper was the start of forecasting as we know it today. FitzRoy believed that the forecast could give advanced warning to protect life and property, after a storm in 1859 had wrecked the ship Royal Charter and others, killing hundreds of people. Since then weather forecasting has advanced onto radio and television, as well as the Internet and mobile phones using the latest science and technology, making household names of forecasters such as Michael Fish and Sian Lloyd. Forecasts have also impacted on a range of important events, from advising of a weather window for the D-Day landings to giving advance warning of the 2009 floods in Cumbria. However, it has not all been plain sailing for the Met Office, as the BBC considered ending its almost ninety-year relationship with the forecaster last year after a string of mistakes. The Met Office was criticised for failing to properly predict three concurrent wet summers or the spate of wintry weather in 2010, while its annual global temperature predictions had been inaccurate for nine of the last ten years. After a competitive tender, the BBC ultimately opted to renew its weather services contract with the Met Office in July last year, with a new five-year deal covering TV, radio, online and mobile platforms. Alongside the BBC, the Met Office's Media Unit also provides weather forecast services to ITV, Channel Four, Sky, STV and Ulster TV. To mark the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary, the Met Office is launching a photo competition asking the public to submit pictures which define the weather moments of 2011 so far. Details can be found on the Met Office website. 'We're extremely proud of our long heritage and to be marking this landmark anniversary of forecasting for the nation,' said John Hirst, the chief executive of the Met Office. 'Ever since our humble beginnings, the Met Office has been a pioneer in the science of meteorology. Forecasting the very variable British weather is always testing but by facing that test every day we have established a reputation around the world as being amongst the very best at what we do. Most of all, we're proud to have stayed true to our origins by forecasting what the weather has in store to help safeguard lives and property.'

A little self-indulgent item now - a new book is to be released next year entitled Red White and Who - The Story of Doctor Who in America. I mention self-indulgence simply because it's edited by Arnold T Blumberg, Steven Warren Hill, Jennifer Adams Kelley, and J Shaun Lyon, two of whom are amongst yer actual Keith Telly Topping's closest chums. The book 'aims to be the definitive guide to Doctor Who fandom in America, from its origins through to modern-day forums and fan groups.' Every American Doctor Who fan has a story to tell, and fans of the iconic British television show love to tell stories. All of them, from casual viewer to hardcore fanatic, will happily regale others with the story of how and when they discovered the greatest science fiction media franchise ever. The majority of the first dedicated American Who fans first met The Doctor in the early 1980s, nearly twenty years after the show began in 1963. But the story of Doctor Who in America, a fascinating, complex and influential journey into pop culture, stretches much farther back. Contributions can include printed material and photos, and the editors have outlined how these can be made. There's a dedicated website here with full details. The book will be published in 2012. Oi, Arnold and Shaun, I'm doing your job for you, here guys!

Patrick Duffy has revealed that he had 'no hesitation' about signing up for TNT's reboot of Dallas. The show was picked up by TNT last month and the actor explained that he agreed to return to the franchise as soon as he had read the script. Duffy told Parade: 'Cynthia Cidre is the only person since our original producer Leonard Katzman died that knows what this show's about. Larry [Hagman], Linda [Gray] and I read her script and realised we could now do Dallas again because it will be as good if not better than the original.' Duffy admitted that he had never expected to reprise his role as Bobby Ewing but promised that the returning cast members will be a vital part of the reboot. 'We won't just have cameos, like you go visit them at the old folks' home,' he said. 'Larry and Linda and I are involved in every aspect of each of the episodes. I think that's what the audience will expect. It's not like a remake of Hawaii Five-0 where they mention the old characters every now and then so you think it's the same show. This is Dallas - it's just twenty years later.' Duffy, who explained that Bobby is now the 'patriarch of the Ewing family,' continued: 'We're twenty years older and our children are now adults and the drama goes on. The young people are going to carry a large portion of the show, and that's the way it should be, but we're not marginalised in any way.' Duffy also praised the new cast members who are joining the programme, describing the dynamic as 'perfect. I think we have the best young crop of actors playing these parts with Jesse Metcalfe, Josh Henderson, Jordana Brewster and Julie Gonzalo,' he said. 'I didn't know any of these people prior to coming on the set and they're such good actors. It's just a perfect marriage with the old Dallas. I couldn't be happier and I just hope that they have the same kind of experience as we did thirty years ago when we started.' Hagman recently suggested that the return to Dallas will 'save him' after dealing with his wife's illness, while new cast member Brenda Strong has praised the returning stars for being 'generous and inclusive.'

The BBC iPlayer press pack for June is now available. The month saw BBC iPlayer receive one hundred and fifty seven million requests for TV and radio programmes in total. All platforms and devices received a similar number of requests to those seen in May. Weekly user numbers were very strong in June, with three weeks peaking at 7.2 million (this figure excludes Virgin Media cable for which data is not available at this time). Doctor Who and The Apprentice were the most popular TV titles June, with Waterloo Road and the new series of Top Gear also featuring heavily. The first episode of the new series of Luther also featured in the top twenty most watched episodes, as did Angry Boys, and Glastonbury coverage of Beyonce's set. For radio, the most requested programme this month was MistaJam and Nero with the BBC Philharmonic, a Radio 1 special. As usual Test Match Special coverage was also popular, and US Open Golf and Wimbledon were also present. Live TV viewing via BBC iPlayer made up fifteen per cent of all TV requests, a slightly higher proportion than
the previous month, while live radio listening was also up a touch to seventy four per cent of all requests. The most watched single episode was Doctor Who's Series 6 Episode 7 -A Good Man Goes To War with one million two hundred and fifty eight thousand requests.

Police are reported to be investigating after the daughter of Dragons' Den millionaire Duncan Bannatyne was allegedly threatened on Twitter. A spokesman for Durham Police confirmed that the businessman had reported receiving a number of sinister and threatening messages via the social networking site. Police were investigating 'the credibility of these threats,' he said. Posting on Twitter, Bannatyne, sixty two offered a twenty five grand reward for any information leading to an arrest, noting: 'I offer twenty five thousand pounds for the capture of the coward who calls himself @YuriVasilyev. Double if his arms are broken first.' I'm not sure, actually, you can do that legally Duncan. He's certainly not a chap to messed with is old Bannatyne, is he? He later deleted the tweet and replaced it with a more measured one. A police spokesman said: 'Durham Constabulary can confirm Duncan Bannatyne has reported a number of threatening messages he had received via e-mail and Twitter in which threats were made against a member of his family. These appeared to originate from an e-mail address based in Russia. We have been liaising since then with Mr Bannatyne and conducting enquiries into the credibility of these threats.'

Anthony Head has described a planned big-screen remake of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as 'a hideous idea.' And, yer actual Keith Telly Topping totally agrees with him! The fifty seven-year-old, who played watcher Rupert Giles for the entirety of the show's seven-year run between 1997 and 2003, despaired at the exclusion of creator Joss Whedon from the project. '[Joss] wasn't asked [to do the movie] - in fact, I think they went to great lengths not to ask him,' he told E! Online. 'It's a hideous idea. I think ultimately he had the idea when he was nineteen, took it around Hollywood and two people said, "I'll make your movie." They changed the original concept. I'm very glad they've done very well with it since, all power to them, but I don't think [you can take] someone's concept and say, "Actually we're going to remake our concept of somebody else's concept." It's nonsense. Not that I feel strongly about it,' he joked. Head previously described the notion of a Buffy reboot as 'horrible' and likened the finished movie to 'a car wreck.' His former co-stars Nicholas Brendon and Eliza Dushku have also criticised the project, but Whedon admitted last year to having 'mixed emotions' about his absence. 'I don't love the idea of my creation in other hands,' he confessed in November. 'But I'm also well aware that many more hands than mine went into making that show what it was.'

And, speaking of the divine Eliza, Ms Dushku has dropped hints about her guest role on White Collar. The actress will appear in this week's episode as an Egyptologist with links to Neal's enemy Matthew Keller (Ross McCall). Dushku has now revealed that there will be chemistry between her character Raquel and Neal (Matt Bomer). 'What was interesting to me was that she was almost the female version of him,' she told TV Guide. 'I just think it's sort of an irresistible sort of connection where they are so much alike and they are both just extremely charged and primed for each other, even if they weren't expecting it.' Dushku added that the connection between the pair was the reason she agreed to the role. 'I wanted a Mr & Mrs Smith vibe,' she explained. '[I said] I'd love to come and be on it, but only if it's something that's really special and only if Raquel and Neal really have a Mr & Mrs Smith dance going on. It could be sexual at times, it could be violent and scary at times, but as long as it's intense, and [executive producer Jeff Eastin] really responded to that.' However, Dushku admitted that she isn't sure whether she will reprise the role in future, saying: 'We just have to see what kind of arc they have in mind. It's definitely a pretty exciting stand-alone episode, but the door is open and we'll see what they have in mind.'

CBS Drama has bolstered its crime schedule by acquiring the early seasons of CSI. The first three seasons of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation will begin airing on the CBS/Chello Zone-owned channel this October. It has long been broadcast on both Channel Five and Living TV, proving a consistent ratings winner for the terrestrial broadcaster.

Eve Myles has revealed that her Torchwood character Gwen Cooper will face some 'horrific' decisions in upcoming episodes. Gwen has already been coerced by Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer) into leaving her family behind in Wales while she works with Torchwood in the US, but Myles suggested that her gravest challenges are yet to come. 'Gwen's thread with Wales, having the family there, that means that we're always going to keep going back and forth to Wales. The choice [to be with her family] has been taken out of her hands. She's got to do what she's got to do,' Myles told Access Hollywood. The actress continued: '[Gwen's rejoined Torchwood] so that she does protect her daughter. It's very, very tough. The decisions she has to make this year and the sacrifices she has to make are horrific.'

Being Human creator Toby Whithouse has revealed that he is 'very excited' about Aidan Turner's replacement in the upcoming fourth series of BBC3's supernatural drama. Speaking to SFX magazine at Comic-Con in San Diego last weekend, Whithouse commented on how the new series will address Turner's departure at the end of series three: 'We've had to create a new vampire character, who we're going to meet in episode one and will then come into the house in episode two.' The writer added: 'We're very excited about that, we've got a fantastic new actor playing that part. And then it becomes a question of the chemistry kinda reforming and the new set up of the house establishing itself.' Last month it was confirmed that Monroe's Andrew Gower has been cast as a new leading character in series four. Having previously appeared alongside Being Human guest star Lacey Turner in BBC3's live TV event Frankenstein's Wedding... Live In Leeds in March, Gower will reportedly play a vampire named Cutler in the new series.

Stephen Fry has been named in the Scout Birthday Honours List for his Twitter exploits, as The Scout Association celebrates its one hundred and first birthday. So there you go, you heard it here first dear blog reader. Stephen Fry, it would seem, is into scouting for boys. No, stop it. It's such an obvious joke as well, I really do apologise! There are, in all seriousness, currently thirty eight thousand scouts from across the world in Sweden at the World Scout Jamboree and to celebrate its half-a-million UK members have had the opportunity to vote online for public figures who have encouraged others to try new activities and learn new skills - one of the scouts main aims. Stephen has won the IT badge for his world-famous Twitter following - which currently stands at just over 2.8m. The badge was presented to Stephen by Simrit Kudhail, a scout from Uxbridge in London. The actor, famous for roles in Blackadder, Kingdom, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Jeeves and Wooster and presenting the comedy intelligence quiz Qi on television as well as film roles in V For Vendetta and Wilde, and his writing said: 'Scouting connects people who would otherwise have no reason to be friends - the World Scout Jamboree goes further and bring young people together from all over the world. The standards of the Scouting Movement are as important today as they ever were - you have to be kind, be considerate, be thoughtful and you have to push yourself. If there's any better advice for any young person I've yet to hear it.' Previous celebrity winners include James May and Clare Balding.

The first picture of David Tennant in Sky Atlantic's This Is Jinsy has been revealed. Tennant will appear in the first episode of the surreal sketch show, playing the role of the outrageously camp Mr Slightlyman. He's reported to be 'a wedding planner with a passion for plastic surgery.' Slightlyman is a local celebrity on the island of Jinsy and has the nickname 'Master of the Balls' because of his role as boss of the local marriage lottery. Catherine Tate, Simon Callow and Jennifer Saunders have also signed up for cameos later in the series. Last week, pictures of Harry Hill's character in the programme, Joon Boolay, were unveiled. This Is Jinsy, which is created by Chris Bran and Justin Chubb, will be broadcast on Sky Atlantic in September.
Internet Explorer users have a lower-than-average IQ, according to research by Consulting firm AptiQuant. The study gave web surfers an IQ test, then plotted their scores against the browser they used. IE surfers were found to have an average IQ lower than people using Chrome, Firefox and Safari. Or, indeed, than plankton. Users of Camino and Opera rated the highest. The report has sparked 'anger' from IE supporters, who have threatened AptiQuant with legal action. Anmd repeatedly banged rocks together to demonstrate their frustration and annoyance. Researchers gave over one hundred thousand web surfers a free online IQ test. Scores were stored in a database along with each person's web browser data. The results suggested that Internet Explorer surfers had an average IQ in the low eighties. Chrome, Firefox and Safari rated over one hundred, while minority browsers Opera and Camino had an 'exceptionally higher' score of over one hundred and twenty. AptiQuant stressed that using IE doesn't mean you have low intelligence. 'What it really says is that if you have a low IQ then there are high chances that you use Internet Explorer,' said AptiQuant CEO Leonard Howard desperately trying to squirm is way out of this malarkey and kerfuffle. The findings have been treated with scepticism by Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University's Statistical Laboratory: 'They've got IE6 users with an IQ of around eighty. That's borderline deficient, marginally able to cope with the adult world. I believe these figures are implausibly low - and an insult to IE users.' I was just going to observe that you get an IQ of about seventy if you can write you own name, don't you? However, Howard said that he didn't feel threatened by a lawsuit: 'A win in a court would only give a stamp of approval and more credibility to our report.' Yer actual Keith Telly Topping, incidentally, uses Google Chrome and Opera, dear blog reader. Which presumably means he's a sodding genius! Who'd've thought it? Certainly not yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self.

Vince Cable (Lib Dem, allegedly), the business secretary, will say on Wednesday that government plans to block illegal filesharing websites under the controversial Digital Economy Act are, in effect, unworkable. Outlining the government's response to the Hargreaves report on the future of UK copyright law, Cable is also expected to announce legislation to sweep away restrictive rules on file copying and parody works. In a speech at the British Library on Wednesday, the Liberal Democrat minister will outline the next steps for the introduction of the delayed Digital Economy Act. Cable will row back on one of the act's most contentious measures – introducing legislation to block access to copyright-infringing websites – and instead suggest that the existing Copyrights, Design and Patents Act is powerful enough. That follows last week's landmark high court ruling, which forced BT to cut off access to Newzbin2, a site found to be infringing copyright 'on a grand scale.' Cable's intervention comes as ministers struggle to implement anti-piracy measures outlined by the Digital Economy Act rushed through by Labour at the end of its time in office with about as much thought given to it as ... something that hasn't had much thought given to it. The first warning letters to be sent to Britons accused of illegal filesharing are now not due until the second half of 2012 – more than a year later than originally planned. A series of legal challenges have meant that cutting off the Internet connections of serial pirates is unlikely to begin until 2013 at the earliest. Cable is also expected to announce a 'scoping review' into the viability of a setting up a digital copyright exchange, one of the key proposals of the Hargreaves report published in May – in effect kicking the idea into the long grass. The rights exchange, which would effectively be a one-stop shop to make lawful use of copyrighted material easier, received 'serious pushback' from media companies, according to one industry source. Film and music companies and broadcasters are understood to have raised a number of issues about the proposed exchange, including fears that it may contravene various European regulations by forcing all rights holders to participate. One industry source said that if it was a full 'stock exchange' trading platform it may not generate as much revenue as selling rights directly. The government is anticipated to legislate to sweep away many of the UK's archaic intellectual property restrictions which make it technically illegal to transfer content from CDs or DVDs to other formats, such as iPods. And, indeed, to record stuff of the telly onto videotapes and recordable DVDs. The reforms will also make it legal for Britons to burn copies of music and video files for family members to use, and give legal protection to spoof works. Cable has previously said that private copying is carried out by millions of people who are 'astonished' that it is technically illegal. He said: 'We need to bring copyright into line with people's expectations and update it for the modern digital world. This will free up innovative British businesses to develop new consumer technology and help boost economic growth.' Cable is expected to outline further changes to the DEA, including how costs are apportioned between rights holders and ISPs. The judicial review ruled in April that ISPs should not foot the bill for setting up an appeals body. Ed Vaizey, the communications minister, is understood to have set a date of mid-September to get ISPs and rights holders to another roundtable meeting aimed at curbing infringing sites voluntarily.

A series about an Amazonian tribe which was broadcast on BBC Knowledge and the US Travel Channel has been accused of 'fabrication' by two experts. Mark & Olly: Living with the Machigenga, made by UK independent Cicada Productions, is said to have mistranslated a series of quotes from the tribe and to have featured rituals such as 'a pig dance,' which one expert on the tribe said has not been seen in his thirty five years of living with them. The six-part series was the third of the Living With... strand featuring extreme travellers Mark Anstice and Olly Steeds and was shown on the Travel Channel in the US in 2009, and on the BBC Knowledge in South Africa in June and July 2010. The programme focused on Anstice and Steeds as they adapted to life in a Matsigenka Indian village in the Amazon rainforest over several months. But the programme is said to have some serious flaws according to both Dr Glenn Shepard - an anthropologist who has worked with the Matsigenka Indians for twenty five years and speaks their language fluently - and Ron Snell, the son of US missionaries who grew up with the tribe and is also fluent in their language. Snell's first criticism is that the tribe should be called Matsigenka Indians not Machigenga, which he claims derives from the Spanish. Although, whether the Machigenga themselves are particularly bothered about what you call them is not, at this time, known. In an article in the journal Anthropology News, Shepard claims that many of the comments by tribes people do not match the on-screen translations. Shepard, who is fluent in their language, claims that the Matsigenka phrase 'You come from far away where lots of gringos live' is translated as: 'We use arrows to kill outsiders who threaten you.' In another of many examples cited in the article, a Matsigenka remarks of the duo during a rafting scene 'They're playing instead of rowing,' but the translation reads: 'They're going to die,' Shepard claims. Shepard, an ethnobotanist and medical anthropologist who specialises in the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, added that the mistranslations were intended to present a 'false and insulting' portrayal of the tribe. Shepard wrote: 'The Matsigenka are generous hosts. It is inconceivable they would subject foreign visitors to the initiation trials portrayed in the show, forcing Olly to sleep outside for laziness, making them "gather food for the tribe," sending them to search for a lost child, insisting they take a psychoactive brew before embarking on a phony pilgrimage, abandoning them on a raft in rapids, making them compete with a third suitor for a young bride, and otherwise testing their "manliness."' A key scene in the show, in which Steeds is subjected to painful ant stings in order to be 'cleansed' and 'endure ancient punishments,' is also said to be fabricated and with no basis in ethnography according to Shepard. The claims are supported by Snell who claims that a wild pig dance featured in the series 'looked' fabricated. In an article in his blog, Snell wrote: 'How did they get the Machiguengas to do so many things that are completely out of character and so contrary to their culture? How did they produce the "wild pig dance," which we have never seen in thirty five years of living in Machiguenga villages? About all we could conclude is that they paid the Machiguengas to perform for them, saying things the Machiguengas wouldn't ordinarily say and doing things the Machiguengas wouldn't normally do.' Snell said he spoke to two of the people featured in the series. He wrote: 'Our suspicions were correct. They [Mark and Olly] entered the village on a well travelled path and only veered a few feet off the path to film themselves "hacking their way through the jungle." They contracted someone to make new cushmas [cotton tunics] so everyone would be wearing one. They staged the whole drama about one of the guys being accepted and the other treated as a lazy outsider. The translator quickly became disillusioned with the whole thing, but kept going because of the money. He is ashamed and embarrassed that he had anything to do with it.' The same series also courted controversy in 2008 when a scouting expedition among the Matsigenka tribe prior to filming was said to have provoked a 'flu epidemic killing four of the locals. Cicada denied its team was responsible, insisting they did not visit the area hit by the 'flu, and did not meet any of those who died. Broadcast magazine which gleefully reported Snell and Shepard's claims, said that it had contacted Cicada's head of production Christian Holland but he has been unable to comment at the time of publication. A BBC Worldwide spokesperson said: 'This programme was acquired by BBC Worldwide from FremantleMedia and was made by Cicada Productions. It was broadcast on our BBC Knowledge channel in Africa and it last aired in November 2010. There are no plans for the programme to be broadcast again on our channels. BBC Worldwide is committed to the highest editorial standards and will examine the claims made. We have only just been made aware of these concerns and we are in discussion with Fremantle to establish the full facts.' Stephen Corry, director of the human rights organisation Survival International, said: 'Mark & Olly: Living with the Machigenga was a depressing example of the way tribal people are routinely portrayed on TV. One stereotype followed another, with the Matsigenka variously portrayed as callous, perverted, cruel, and savage. Is this what the film crew really thought of those whose guests they were? Broadcasters wouldn't dare to make similarly false claims about other such minority groups: imagine the same descriptions applied to any ethnic minority in the industrialised world. Sadly this is all too common – TV is now getting away with portrayals which wouldn't be out of place in the Victorian era.'

PBS, known as the American television outlet for many British programs produced by the BBC and others, is looking to turn the tables by starting a digital channel in Britain. The channel, which would be distributed via cable and satellite, would show both older and current PBS programs for which it is able to secure the rights. PBS officials declined to discuss specific shows, or the details of where the channel would be available, saying that plans were not final. 'We're talking to a lot of people,' Paula Kerger, PBS's president and chief executive, said in an interview. Richard Kingsbury, the former head of the Good Food and Yesterday channels owned by UKTV, started in July as the general manager of what is being called PBS UK. The initiative, which partly is meant to make money for PBS, is being led by PBSd, which sells PBS programming to home video, foreign and commercial markets. PBSd is a joint venture of PBS and WGBH, the Boston public broadcaster that produces PBS programs including Nova and Frontline. David Lyons, chairman and chief executive of the Orca Exploration Group, which operates a Tanzanian natural gas field, is backing the PBS UK project financially. PBS described him as 'a Canadian-born entrepreneur and venture philanthropist' who 'grew up on PBS programming and is interested in bringing such content to the UK.' Errr ... we've already got most of the content, mate. We made it in the first place. Kerger said that PBS had sold its programmes on an individual basis to foreign broadcasters for many years. But as it looked at the international channels of competitors like Discovery, it began considering 'would it make sense to try to put an actual channel together,' she said. Several public television executives said privately that they had been told PBS UK was planning to go on air in the fall. 'Maybe; we’re not there yet,' Kerger said.

Now, here's a funny thing dear blog reader. Well, no, not funny, exactly. More ... not very funny at all. Five whole weeks passed during the most recent series of Top Gear without so much as a hint of any wholly manufactured controversy stirred up by the national press about some aspect of the show. Good God, many of us thought, is a whole series of Top Gear going to pass by without some right-on journalist with an axe to grind getting their knickers in a twist over nowt? Sadly, but perhaps predictably, the answer to that would seem to be no. Yet the culprit this time around was not one of the usual suspects; not the hippie-Communist lice at the Gruniad Morning Star nor the rancid jackbooted bully boy thugs at the Daily Scum Mail. Nor, indeed, was it the regular Clarkson-baiting but-definitely-not-phone-hacking Daily Mirra either. Instead, the Daily Torygraphy got in on the act. In one of the most laughable - albeit, thoroughly odious and deceitful to the point of being sinister - examples of 'creating a story from absolutely nothing,' the Torygraph dragged out a few quotes from a variety of disabled motoring groups over a very short sequence in Sunday night's episode in which one of the electric cars that Jeremy Clarkson and James May were testing in Lincolnshire was seen to be - for a few seconds - parked in a disabled parking bay. They did this without either them or, it would seem, any of the complainers having, first, bothered to check with the production team who could have told them that, actually, the film crew had permission to do this from the private car park in which filming was taking place. Still why let a little thing like that get in the way of a good old fashioned piece of sour and rotten 'manufactured outrage.' The Torygraph also included in their article the comments of one 'Viewer Adam Sullivan, thirty two,' whoever he is, who was quoted by them as saying that 'it is disgusting and they should be hauled over the coals.' Well, you're probably just the very man to do the hauling, Adam. I'm sure it'll be very enjoyable and you'll be great at it. So, off you go, then. Let us know how you got on when you've finished. The series producer Andy Wilman meanwhile, quickly issued an 'unreservedly' apology for the incident but then revealed that the production team had been given permission to use the bays by the car park's owners. Which, sort of, renders all of the complaints a shade premature, and a shade ridiculous - not to mention spitefully prejudicial - at the same time. During the programme - the last in the current series - Clarkson and May were shown using, very briefly, a parking space labelled for disabled users in a segment on electric cars. According to the thoroughly sick and venal Torygraph piece, a disabled motorists' charity said that the presenters 'didn't have a passing care that a disabled person might have needed those spaces.' How Jim Rawlings, of Disabled Motoring UK, knew this about someone's intentions unless he is a mind-reader of almost Derren Brown-style proportions, he didn't elaborate. But that didn't, seemingly, stop him from telling the paper: 'I'm sure the last thing on Jeremy Clarkson's mind was that he was parked in a disabled bay. The abuse of non-disabled people parking in disabled bays is rife, and with people like Jeremy Clarkson and James May doing this other motorists will just think they can just park wherever they like.' Well, not if they've - like the production crew - asked the car park owners first, Jimbo, me old china. Something, I notice you didn't bother to do before you shot your mouth off to the Torygraph. A total of eighteen people are understood to have complained to the BBC about the issue. That's eighteen out of a total audience of over five million viewers. Or, in other words, somewhat less then one ten-thousandth of one per cent of the audience who, seemingly, gave a stuff. The matter, the Torygraph goes on to state, was 'compounded' by the fact that the programme also featured a segment in which Richard Hammond met disabled soldiers attempting to take part in the gruelling Dakar Rally. Quite why that 'compounded' anything, the Torygraph fail to make clear in their highly judgemental and, pointedly sick agenda-driven article which is thick with insidious and thoroughly nasty innuendo but remarkably short on any actual point. Which, to be fair, is quite a neat summery of the vast majority of what the Torygraph publishes on a daily basis. Did they, for instance, bother to ask any of the several disabled former servicemen featured in the show what they thought about all this malarkey and kerfuffle? Did they shite. It does rather seem that some people appear to watch Top Gear specifically so they can get annoyed with some aspect of it and have a pre-written complaint letter all ready to send off as soon as they've found something to whinge about. What a curiously empty previous five Sunday nights they must have had and how deliriously happy they must have been when they found something this week. It must've been like all of their Christmases had come at once. In a blog posting on the Top Gear website, Wilman said that the team was given permission to use the disabled bays by the car park owners as 'a quiet spot to film in,' while there were three other disabled spaces which 'remained empty throughout.' So, once again, one is forced to ask what's the hell is the problem? Other than, obviously, a nice excuse for some serial complainers to have a damned good whinge about something. 'For those who are cross with us,' Wilman continued, 'please direct your anger towards myself and the production team, rather than at Jeremy and James,' he said. Though, again, why he felt he needed to take the blame for somebody else's rank glakery in jumping-to-the-wrong-conclusion before all of the facts were established is, also, unclear. You're a far better man that I am, Mr Wilman, sir. 'Both presenters expressed deep concern to the film crew and I about using the disabled bays prior to filming, because of the disrespectful impression it would convey. They only capitulated when we assured them the parking had been approved by the owner, and that the disabled bay markings would not appear on television. This was our fault, not theirs, and we unreservedly apologise to all the viewers we have upset as a consequence.' A Top Gear spokesman added: 'Top Gear does not condone the misuse of disabled parking bays. The programme had permission from the owners of the car park to use the bays for a short period of time to enable filming to take place unhindered, and members of the production team were with the cars at all times. There were other disabled spaces available, and of course had anyone needed to park in one of the spaces occupied by Top Gear, we would have moved immediately.' Of course, I'm sure the production team themselves aren't in the slightest bit bothered by this regular - and suspiciously, sinisterly concerted - press attention. There is, after all, no such thing as bad publicity. But, personally, this sort of crap genuinely offends my sensibilities and sense of fair play. What we have here, ironically considering it's a charge that's often thrown at the Top Gear presenters themselves, is an example of crass and very obviously bullying. It's the sort of thing that would not be acceptable in a school yard and it's certainly - certainly - not acceptable from national newspapers like the Torygraph, the Gruniad and the Daily Scum Mail. Not only that, of course, but I think it's fair to say that if you go through life complaining about utter trivia like this - and most of the other alleged 'controversies' that Top Gear has had created around it - then you run the risk of having your complaints about stuff that actual matters dismissed as just another example of serial whinging. In short, if you go through life complaining about everything then that automatically reduces everything to the same level playing field. Yes, dear blog reader, this is indeed a whinge about whinging. No one is innocent! In a separate posting, Wilman also responded to another seemingly bogus claim made in The Times that Nissan had objected to May's review of its Leaf electric car, in which he showed the vehicle running out of battery power and needing to be recharged. Andy Palmer, Nissan's executive vice-president, said that the episode was 'misleading,' but Wilman flatly denied this. 'We were fully aware that Nissan could monitor the state of the battery charge and distance travelled via on-board software,' he said. 'The reporter in The Times seems to suggest this device caught us out, but we knew about it all the time, as Nissan will confirm.' Wilman added: 'We never at any point in the film said that were testing the range claims of the vehicles, nor did we say that the vehicles wouldn't achieve their claimed range. We also never said at any time that we were hoping to get to our destination on one charge. We never said what the length of the journey was, where we had started from, or how long we had been driving for at the start of the film, so again, no inference about the range can be gleaned from our film. We absolutely refute that we were misleading viewers over the charge/range, and we stand by the consumer points raised in the film.' A BBC spokeswoman added: 'The point of the film was to show how bad the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is in the UK.' A point which was rather reinforced when Jeremy was told that there is no public charging point in the entire county of Lincolnshire. 'The car needed to run out of charge so that could be demonstrated. Since we weren't testing the range claims, it made no difference how much charge we started with. We don't say how much petrol went into a car when it started a journey.' Wilman, continued: 'Our film was a snapshot of living with an electric car. A film is an impression of life. We are allowed to put into a film what we want to. We can't cover every base.' Good point. Not that any of the serial whingers will take any notice, of course. Oh, and if you're a regular viewer of Top Gear you might also like to check out this delightfully sick and agenda-ridden effort from Metro's Rachel Tarley entitled Top Gear is a programme for car connoisseurs and morons. As someone who is neither of those things but who does enjoy watching Top Gear, I'm personally extremely offended by Rachel's highly insulting comments. Especially 'further bickering saw the pair argue over whether a Mercedes C63 was aimed at "morons" or "connoisseurs," which ironically, reflects the dichotomy between how the Top Gear presenters view themselves and how the rest of us do.' I'm not sure exactly whom this 'rest of us' you claim to speak for are, Rach. Or how many people you straw-polled before you decided you had the authority to speak for 'the rest of us.' Because, I certainly didn't get that memo. Still, I'm nothing if not a fair man. Can you give all of us great unwashed out here the benefit of your, no doubt massive, intellect and tell us how we can improve ourselves for a better life? And then, when you've done that try getting yourself a job on a real newspaper that doesn't get given away free on the bus but that people actually have to pay for. Top Gear, meanwhile, will be back at Christmas dear blog reader. And so will the whinging for those with an agenda. Isn't it comforting that, in an increasingly uncertain world, some things never change?!

Postscript: Helen Dolphin, Director of Policy & Campaigns for Disabled Motoring UK issued a statement on the organisation's website: 'Disabled parking abuse is such a big problem that I'm not surprised members were outraged to see Jeremy and James parking in a disabled bay. However, Top Gear have explained that they were told to park in these bays and I'm sure next time they'll be less inclined to accept. I've spoken to Top Gear and they were very apologetic about this mistake. We hope they will join us on our Baywatch campaign next year.' What a very great pity it is that Helen's colleague Jimbo didn't follow her example and ask a few obvious questions, nicely, before making his big gob go to the Torygraph.

And, still on the subject of complaints according to a very nice lady at the BBC press office the corporation have received approximately one hundred and fifty complaints from disgraceful tight-arsed uppity homophobes who objected to the scene in last week's Torchwood in which Captain Jack got sucked off during a one night stand with a chap. Isn't it truly great to know that hate crime still exists in the Twenty First Century, dear blog reader? All of which is sad and predictable in and of itself, of course. Interestingly, however, the Beeb also received almost exactly the same number of complaints from other viewers who were outraged by the pre-announcement that this same scene had been edited down (by around five seconds) from the version shown in the US some days earlier. Many of these complaints - ridiculously - accused the BBC themselves of 'homophobia.' Poor old auntie, they can't do right for doing wrong for anyone, it would seem. At least, when it comes to the question of sodomy, at any rate.

ITV has ordered an adaptation of a post-Second World War novel by the writer of Goodnight Mister Tom. Michelle Magorian's book, Just Henry, has been adapted by Monarch of the Glen creator Michael Chaplin and has been in development at ITV Studios for around two years. The ninety-minute special is likely to be broadcast around Christmas. It will go into production this month on location in Leeds and will star Josh Bolt in a cast that also includes Shelia Hancock and Dean Andrews. Just Henry, which was published in 2008, centres on a young film enthusiast, Henry, whose father died in the war. When his school sets a group project, Henry is disgusted to be teamed with the son of a man who went AWOL and a boy who was born illegitimately. However, when a women Henry meets at the cinema lends him a camera for the project, he makes a discovery that throws his world into turmoil and makes him reappraise his judgemental behaviour.

That well-known haven of completely honest individuals and no corrupt and odious scoundrels whatsoever FIFA has told British MPs to 'be certain of their facts' before criticising football's world governing body. Because, of course, nobody can do that with the wrath of the Great Blatter coming down on their house like the fist of The Incredible Hulk. In a letter published on Tuesday, Jérôme Valcke, FIFA's general secretary, warned John Whittingdale, who heads parliament's culture, media and sport committee, that politicians 'should act and speak on facts, and not on unsubstantiated headlines.' Whittingdale chairs the select committee which reported last month that it was 'appalled by the allegations of corruption' involving senior FIFA officials. Valcke's letter, dated 20 July, hits back at Whittingdale for not updating the report when a whistleblower withdrew bribery allegations levelled at Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid. 'It is one thing for the media to not be interested in stories which kill previous headlines by so-called investigative journalists, but it is another entirely for your committee to neglect this turnaround,' Valcke said. 'FIFA does not turn a blind eye to criticism against it. However, we do believe that it is too easy to judge in public on allegations that are not supported by evidence.' Whittingdale, though, said that the committee only publishes evidence submitted to it, while the retraction was made in a press release. 'We published the evidence we were given – we didn't say if it was true or untrue, we just said it needs to be properly investigated,' Whittingdale said. 'It seems a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Had we not done that I don't think the whistleblower would ever have made her retraction.' Personally, if I'd've been Whittingdale I'd've had told this jumped up little pipsqueak that members of parliament can say whatever the hell they like about anybody under the law of parliamentary privilege and that there isn't a damn thing the toady power-crazed despots at FIFA can do about it. And that, once John, Tommy (power to the people!), Paul, Louise and co. have finished with bringing down Murdoch and his grubby spawn, then they're coming after FIFA. With righteous vengeance and furious anger. That's what I'd've said. Which is probably one very good reason why yer actual Keith Telly Topping is not in a position of power over pretty much anything other than my own TV remote control. You can sleep safely in your beds, dear blog reader, the revolution will not be televised.

Only eleven out of one hundred and four clubs in England and Scotland will offer adults the chance to enjoy a day at the football for less than twenty quid during the new season. A survey by the BBC Sport website of every club in the four English divisions and Scottish Premier League showed that fans in the North West have some of the cheapest deals available for matchday tickets. Clubs were asked for their cheapest and most expensive possible matchday adult tickets, as well as the prices for a cup of tea, a programme, and a pie in order to work out the price of enjoying a day at the football for fans without season tickets. In the Premier League Blackburn Rovers offered the best deal at £17.50, while Watford's £17.30 represented the best deal in the Championship. Rochdale and Preston in League One and Rotherham and Torquay in League Two also came in cheapest in their divisions, while Inverness are the best value for money in the Scottish Premier League. This weekend sees the start of the Football League season in England - a competition which attracted more than sixteen million fans across its three divisions last season. John Nagle, head of communications at the Football League, said: 'Football League clubs are working extremely hard to attract the next generation of fans through a variety of innovative marketing initiatives. As a result, crowds in recent seasons have been at their highest levels for fifty years. Much of the focus is on improving the matchday experience for supporters, particularly families. This has seen the League introduce a programme of "mystery shopper" visits to matches in order to assess the experience and the introduction of the Family Excellence Award, to reward those clubs that are offering a particularly outstanding day out.' Despite the high attendance figures - an average of over three hundred and fifty thousand punters attended Football League fixtures each weekend last season - the chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation Malcolm Clarke says that clubs must work harder to ensure football does not become too expensive for ordinary fans. 'This is an industry that has more money going into it at the top of the game through media rights than it's ever had before,' said Clarke. 'It's important that football continues to be attractive to the whole cross-section of society, so it doesn't just become something only middle-class and upper-class families can afford.' But despite the prices demand remains strong. Arsenal have the most expensive ticket in domestic football at one hundred smackers for one of five 'Category A' games for the new season - representing just one per cent of tickets available. More than sixty thousand fans turned out to watch them draw 2-2 with Boca Juniors in a friendly at the Emirates Stadium last weekend. And a spokesman for the Premier League pointed out that fans are not being turned off by the expense. 'With Premier League grounds over ninety two per cent full on average in each of the last three seasons, fans are clearly enjoying the football, and the overall matchday experiences, that are on offer,' said a Premier League statement. 'It is also worth taking into account that fans want to watch games featuring top talent in safe stadia; our clubs have invested more than two billion wonga in facilities and continue to invest heavily in developing and acquiring the best possible players to make the whole fan experience as good as possible.' Or, in case of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies, none of the above. But football matches compare favourably with other live sport. The cheapest day out at Super League side Hull FC is twenty seven quid, while an equivalent day watching England cricket team's four-day victory over India at Trent Bridge would have cost at least forty one smackers. Embarrassingly, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still, tragically, unsellable) Newcastle United were the only club out of the one hundred and four surveyed who couldn't be bothered to reveal their prices. Which just about sums up the complete and total disregard that the club's management appear to have to not only its own supporters but also pretty much everyone else. It's not like this is a frigging state secret, Mister Ashley, how much does it cost for a pie and a cup of tea in your ground? Oh, I dunno, maybe it is a state secret.

Paul McCartney is reportedly set to open the London 2012 Olympics. In July, the former Beatle hinted that he might take the stage at the highly-anticipated event, along with ex-bandmate Ringo Starr. However, the Daily Torygraph writes that Starr will be 'occupied with a summer tour through the US' at the time and will be unable to perform. Meanwhile, McCartney is said to be headlining the show, though the details have yet to be determined, according to the Daily Mirra. 'The hope was to have the cream of British music all in the line-up, but it now looks like Macca will be joined by some younger stars on stage,' said a 'source'. Both The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin purportedly turned down opportunities to perform at the opening ceremony. So, there you go, The Beatles - third choice for an opening act. That's not something that's happened since about 1961.

A woman has been jailed for waving an airgun in a North Tyneside street for 'a dare' while she was drunk. Armed police were called and schools were told to keep children inside after Jane McComb was spotted with the weapon in Burnside Road, Whitley Bay. The twenty-year-old of Park Avenue, was later arrested. Appearing at Newcastle Crown Court, McComb admitted affray and was jailed for twelve months. She said she had been 'extremely intoxicated.' The court heard the street was cordoned-off during the incident, on 18 January.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day especially for the dead canny lasses in Geordie Finishing School For GirlsFrom The North presents a local Northern folk song of some considerable fame. Tell 'em aal aboot it, Wor Brian.
Meanwhile, a few miles across Toon - though not for much longer, it would seem - this one's for Joey Barton. Trust me, pal, a bunch of us know how you feel.

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