Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Red Souls, Red Friends

Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC, at last proved he does have a functioning set of bollocks as he went on the offensive against James Murdoch and other critics of the public broadcaster, effectively accusing News Corporation of 'lapses of integrity' and warning that the collapse of the BSkyB takeover was 'not an excuse to start a debate about the scale and scope of the BBC.' Writing in the Gruniad, just ahead of the start of this year's Edinburgh International Television Festival, Thompson chose to explicitly reject an infamous 2009 lecture given by James Murdoch at the same event, in which the son of media mogul Rupert concluded that for media organisations 'the only reliable, durable and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit.' Which, of course, is just exactly the sort of thinking that got News International to where it is today. On the verge of prison. Noting that the 'broader debate about the future media landscape must not deflect us from the most obvious and urgent matters arising from the News of the World case matters of personal conduct and criminality, and above all of ethics and values,' Thompson proposed recasting Murdoch's 2009 conclusion. 'If James Murdoch was giving his lecture this year,' Thompson writes, 'I'd suggest he amended only one word in that final sentence. The only reliable, durable and perpetual guarantor of independence is not profit. Nor who you know. Nor what corners you can cut. It's integrity.' News Corp, of course, shut the one hundred and sixty eight-year-old Scum of the World in July after police conducting an investigation into phone hacking at the title had found evidence that the newspaper targeted the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. News Corp said that the title, which was 'in the business of holding others to account' had 'failed to when it came to itself.' The BBC boss also chose to counter remarks made by David Cameron in July to MPs, when he detailed the terms of the public enquiry into phone hacking and media standards, to be conducted by Lord Justice Leveson. At the time Cameron said: 'Above all we need to ensure that no one voice, not News Corporation, not the BBC , becomes too powerful' and that 'there did come a point in recent years that the income of the BBC was so outstripping that of independent TV there was a danger of BBC News becoming rather dominant.' Thompson writes that Cameron's 'facts are wrong,' that the 'BBC today takes a smaller share of UK broadcast revenues than at any time in its history' and that the new licence fee settlement will mean further cutbacks. 'It's impossible to look at the facts and still argue that the BBC represents a growing threat of economic dominance,' he added, later noting that BSkyB's £6.6bn turnover means that the satellite broadcaster is 'already by some margin the largest player' in British broadcasting compared with a BBC with a turnover of five billion smackers. Thompson also writes that one reason the broadcaster's output is popular is that viewers 'trust it more than other sources' and said for that reason alone it would make no sense to try to cut it back further in response to the hacking scandal. 'If policy-makers begin to regard high levels of public trust as a problem to be corrected, we really are in trouble.' And it's about bastard time that somebody at the BBC had the courage to stand up to crass, ignorant bullies such as Murdoch and Cameron and tell them to go and fek themselves. You're the BBC, matey, you're better than all of those zeroes and non-entities put together. You're better than the Daily Scum Mail and the Torygraph and the hippie Communist scum at the Gruniad Morning Star. You're better than Cowell and his grubby ITV brown-tongued lackeys and you're better - far better - than the pornographer who currently runs Channel Five. And it's about time that few people in this country started to remember that.
The Electoral Commission has been asked to investigate whether News International's alleged payments to Andy Coulson after he started working at the Conservative Party were illegal. Labour MP Tommy Watson (power to the people!), who as a member of the Commons' culture, media and sport select committee has been a constant pain in the dong to Rupert Murdoch and all his doings for the last couple of years, said this week that he wants the commission to investigate whether the payments and benefits should have been declared because they amounted to political donations. The Gruniad Morning Star is also reporting that MPs on the culture committee are 'angry,' as the revelations seem to contradict evidence given to them by former Scum of the World editor Coulson, who served as David Cameron's director of communications from July 2007 until he quit in January this year. And, trust me, you don't want to see the culture committee angry. You wouldn't like them when they're angry. Especially Louise Mensch. Actually, come to think of it, you probably wouldn't like her, angry or otherwise. Anyway, Coulson is expected to face further questioning about the payments in the coming days. The BBC's business editor Robert Pestinfestation claimed that Coulson had received 'several hundred thousand pounds' from his former employer News International after he started working for Cameron. It was known that he had received a pay-off in January 2007 after resigning from the Scum of the World following the conviction and jailing of royal reporter Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire for phone hacking. Which, of course, Coulson had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with. Oh no, very hot water. However, Peston claims that Coulson was paid his severance settlement in instalments, which continued after he subsequently joined the Tory party. His package is thought to have included benefits such as healthcare and the opportunity to keep his company car. Coulson told the culture committee in 2009 that he did not have any 'secondary income' to his earnings from working for the Tories, at that time in opposition, in the role of director of communications. Watson told the Gruniad that the committee would 'seek to establish' whether it had been 'misled' by Coulson, but he also called on the Electoral Commission to investigate whether the payments allegedly made constituted 'donations' to the Tory party. 'If it transpires that these payments were made in a discretionary fashion, rather than honouring the commitments of Mr Coulson's contract, then I think they probably do form a donation and they should have been declared,' said Watson. 'Every single day there seems to be a new revelation that contradicts what has previously been said. I want the Electoral Commission to try and get to the facts of this case. They have powers of investigation.' He added: 'I just pose the question - if Alastair Campbell when he was working for Tony Blair had had his car paid and his health insurance paid - what would the reaction of the Murdoch papers be?' John Whittingdale, the Conservative MP who chairs the culture committee, said that Coulson may be asked to 'clarify' the alleged payments when the committee returns to the Commons next month. The situation heaps further embarrassment on the slender shoulders of David Cameron, who has already faced serious questions over his judgement in the decision to hire Coulson in the first place, particularly after the latter's arrest in the police investigation into phone hacking. Cameron has said on several occasions that he gave Coulson 'a second chance' something which he seems very reluctant to extend to, for instance, looters or other criminals. Last month, senior Tory officials also gave 'categorical assurances' that Coulson had not received any payments from News International or 'other sources' whilst he was working for the party, or the government. Ivan Lewis MP, the Labour shadow lack of culture secretary, said that it is 'time for transparency' from Cameron about 'whether he knew about the payments to Andy Coulson. The details of Mr Coulson's termination agreements with News International must be published and we need to know whether these payments, in the form of honouring a two-year contract of employment after he had been forced to resign in disgrace, were declared to the parliamentary authorities,' he said. 'It must be explained why Mr Coulson was getting these payments when he resigned from the News of the World. It is also essential that Mr Cameron comes clean about what role Rebekah Brooks played in Andy Coulson's decision to resign from Downing Street. The longer these questions are unanswered the more damage will be done to the Prime Miinister's reputation.' Last week, News International faced fresh allegations in the phone hacking scandal after MPs released a letter from Clive Goodman which suggested that knowledge of the practice of phone hacking was far more widespread at the newspaper publisher than had ever previously been admitted. Coulson, meanwhile, is also understood to have had his legal fees paid by News International, according to the Financial Times. Coulson, who was arrested and bailed last month as part of the police investigation into phone hacking at the Scum of the World, is being represented by law firm DLA Piper. The Financial Times suggests that the payment of all of his legal fees is part of 'a contractual agreement' which Coulson reached with News International when he was editor of the now defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid. Employment lawyers have raised questions over the arrangement between Coulson and News International, particularly as he may have had, effectively, two incomes whilst working for the Conservatives. Jo Keddie, employment partner at Winckworth Sherwood, told the Financial Times: 'It's most unusual to have two paymasters and it is most unusual to have payments in instalments when you leave a company. Even more unusual is for the second paymaster to not know about the first; because of tax and other considerations you would think it necessary to disclose the information.' News International has declined to comment on any financial arrangements made with individuals.

Speaking of Tommy Watson (power to the people!) viewers of Channel Four News in London were surprised on 16 August when they observed a UFO zooming through the sky in the background during an interview with Watson. According to the Metro, viewers 'called the television station to report the strange object that appeared at the top f the screen, before darting downwards in a flash.' The UFO is only visible for a couple of seconds, and it is difficult to make out any physical details of the object. An airplane or helicopter have been suggested as possibilities, but the movement demonstrated by the UFO in the video makes these explanations seem unlikely. A seagull or another bird gliding through the London sky could be the identity of the object in question. One factor that makes identifying this particular UFO challenging is that the Channel Four interview was most likely shot in front of a green screen, with the London video backdrop digitally added to the video, meaning that the London scene with the UFO zooming through the frame was pre-recorded.

Calum Best is poised to begin legal proceedings against the publisher of the Scum of the World over allegations that his telephone was hacked and voicemail messages intercepted. Best, the son of the late footballer George Best, is understood to have engaged the services of Charlotte Harris, a media lawyer at the firm Mischon de Reya, over the claim that his telephone number as well as details of messages appear in the records of the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. It is understood the Metropolitan police's Operation Weeting team notified Best a few weeks ago that his name and details were contained in the papers retrieved from Mulcaire. 'Sources close to Best' are quoted by the Gruniad as allegedly saying that it is 'only a matter of time' before action begins. Best joins a growing list of celebrities including Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Leslie Ash and Paul Gascoigne who have started proceedings against News Group Newspapers, the owner of the now defunct, disgraced and siagraceful title. Best, who turned thirty in February this year, has been a frequent target of the tabloids over the years, both because of his famous father and his supposedly 'colourful' private life. During the five-year period covered by Mulcaire's notes until the private detective's arrest in 2006, Best was mentioned in one hundred and sixteen articles published by the Scum of the World. The period covers the death in November 2005 of George Best – although the Gruniad hurried states that it 'has no evidence to show that any particular story was the result of the hacking of his phone.' A News International spokeswoman declined to comment on the legal moves. She said that the company was 'co-operating fully with Operating Weeting.'

Simon Cowell's new gameshow Red or Black? will launch on 3 September, ITV has confirmed. The Ant and Dec-hosted show, sponsored by Domino's Pizza, will be stripped across the week as seven hopefuls hope their luck will help them scoop a nightly one million smackers prize. And then people will try to tell you that our society isn't obsessed with greed. Kicking off on the Saturday night, the show will chart the finalists' progress through the competition. From initial stages in London's Wembley Arena to on-location challenges, one finalist will finish their journey in the Red or Black? studio. Early schedules show that the hour-long shows will be followed by a thirty-minute results show each night. However, there will be no episode broadcast on Tuesday, 6 September due to the Euro 2012 qualifier between England and Wales.

Matt Smith has talked about his future on the popular family SF drama Doctor Who. Speaking to the Radio Times, the actor wasn't drawn on when he would leave the BBC show but suggested that he does not see himself 'playing the same parts' for the next decade. Smith said: 'When I finish, I'll be … well, I don't know how old I'll be, but by the end of next year I'll be twenty nine.' He continued: 'When I'm forty, I won't be playing the same parts.' So, still ten years to go, then! 'If people are going to employ me on the basis that I once played The Doctor, that's up to them. If the part's right, the money's good, why not?' Meanwhile, Smith also talked about the intensity of Doctor Who filming, admitting that he would 'like a rest. There's no break from Doctor Who,' he added. So, maybe not ten years, then? 'It's a conveyor belt of things to do but it does get lighter. That said, I'm being creative and challenged and, you gotta pay the bills.' Ten years looking good again.

A special one-off mini-episode of Doctor Who is to be broadcast on BBC3. Earlier this year, the BBC launched a competition for primary school pupils aged nine to eleven1 to write a three-minute Who script. Yer actual keith Telly Topping, as a consequence, was too old to apply. Just. The winning entry Death Is The Only Answer has been written by children from Oakley CE Junior School in Basingstoke and will be broadcast in the Autumn. Matt Smith said: 'It was so clever, we were all just bowled over, it was a brilliant script.' The winning script was chosen by Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat, the show's executive producers Piers Wenger and Beth Willis, and the Controller of BBC Learning, Saul Nassé. 'I loved the shortlisted scripts, there was so much skill and enthusiasm on display that it was actually genuinely, very, very difficult to judge,' said The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He). 'There was some really, really skilled writing. It was very exciting how they caught the voice of the Doctor and how they used the always stringent limitations of Doctor Who to their advantage.' The mini-episode's production will be covered in this coming Saturday's edition of the BBC3 behind-the-scenes show Doctor Who Confidential.
David Tennant has dismissed suggestions that he is 'a ladies' man.' The actor was questioned in a recent interview about claims that he 'romanced' several actresses who guest starred on Doctor Who. 'I refute that heartily,' the Gruniad quotes him as saying. Tennant continued: 'What the fek business is it of yours, anyway?' Actually, no he didn't, because he's far too polite to do so. But, I would've. He actually said: 'I have had some girlfriends, and I did meet some of them at work, you know. My bedpost really has very few notches compared with other actors of my, erm, pedigree. I have never really overdone it. You know, I've never had three on the go at the same time. No, because I'm too racked with guilt in every corner of my life to even try to get away with something like that.' Bless 'im! The forty-year-old was linked to Doctor Who guest actress Sophia Myles in 2006 prior to his engagement to Georgia Moffett, who also appeared as The Doctor's daughter in a 2008 episode of the popular fmaily SF series. Tennant and Moffett recently welcomed their first child together, a baby girl named Olivia. Moffett, of course, is the daughter of fellow former Doctor Who star Peter Davison.

David Mitchell has tweeted that Would I Lie to You? series five will start on 9 September.

Gina McKee and Neil Morrissey are among the actors who have signed up for roles in BBC2's new drama Line of Duty. The five-part series has been written by Jed Mercurio, who previously penned excellent productions including Bodies and Strike Back. The drama will revolve around Tony Gates (The Walking Dead's Lennie James), a popular policeman accused of corruption. Monarch of the Glen's Martin Compston and BAFTA-winning This Is England '86 actress Vicky McClure will appear as the officers investigating crookedness in the force. McKee and Morrissey will also appear in the drama alongside Adrian Dunbar, Kate Ashfield, Craig Parkinson and Paul Higgins. 'I'm hugely excited by the opportunity to set a drama in the controversial realities of Twenty First Century policing,' Mercurio said. '[Line of Duty is] a commentary on the perverse bureaucracy that hamstrings frontline officers, but first and foremost it's a thriller.' Meanwhile, the BBC's controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson described the show as 'remarkably prescient,' adding: 'The fine cast will reveal a complex set of characters who will shine a timely spotlight on modern day policing.' Filming for Line of Duty has already started in Birmingham and the show is expected to be broadcast on BBC2 next year.

Odette Annable has admitted that it was 'intimidating' joining the cast of House. The Breaking In acrtess will appear in the FOX medical drama's forthocming eighth season as prison medic Dr Adams. 'It's very intimidating looking at the script,' Annable told IGN. 'You've got to really know what you're doing. So I'm ready for it. I'm ready for the challenge, and I'm excited about it.' The actress added that she initially struggled with the medical jargon that her character is made to deliver. 'You have to say these words as if you've said them a million times before, and they're just a part of your vocabulary,' she said. 'But that's what preparing is for, and you can't just really wing it.'

Production of BBC1's award-winning school drama series Waterloo Road is to be moved to Scotland - bringing up to two hundred and thirty jobs. The twenty five million quid investment will see fifty one-hour episodes filmed over two years from April 2012. Made by Shed Productions, and starring Amanda Burton and Robson Green, the drama is currently filming its seventh series in Rochdale. The relocation is part of the BBC's efforts to increase network programming from Scotland. On screen, the relocation will be played out in 'a dramatic and explosive storyline' at the end of the seventh series. This will see some of the current teachers and pupils at the troubled Rochdale comprehensive set up an independent school in Scotland. It is not yet known which of the award-winning series' cast will be written into the move. Glasgow-based Shed plans to house production of the series in the city and is working to identify filming locations around the west of Scotland. The firm's chief executive, Eileen Gallagher, said: 'The inspiration for Waterloo Road came from its creator, Ann McManus, who spent several years teaching in Glasgow secondary schools. It now seems fitting that Waterloo Road has come full circle to be made in Scotland. But the essence of the show will remain the same - a drama about the highly topical issue of how families and schools help children reach adulthood.' Ben Stephenson said the new Waterloo Road would remain popular with audiences. 'Whilst sad to leave Rochdale, [Shed] immediately saw the potential of the new stories they could tell, as well as being excited about putting down roots in their native Scotland. I am sure fans will love what Shed have planned - it will remain the show our audience love.' Stephenson added: 'I would like to pay tribute to Rochdale and the local community who have taken the hit series to their hearts over the past seven years and saw it triumph at this year's National TV Awards to win most popular drama.' News of the relocation was described by Scottish lack of culture secretary Fiona Hyslop as 'a significant announcement' for the media industry in Scotland. 'Having a major returning drama series here, made by an independent producer, will be a huge boost to Scotland's broadcasting sector and to our creative industries as a whole,' she said. 'Not only will it lead directly to more jobs in Scotland, it also represents a massive vote of confidence in the capacity and skills base of the Scottish television production sector. I am sure that the move will be a success, and that it will help to attract, develop and retain talent within Scotland.' Shed is being assisted in the relocation by economic development agencies Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International. Linda McPherson, creative industries director at Scottish Enterprise, said the arrival of Waterloo Road 'could prove to be a real game-changer for the industry in Scotland.' She added: 'Aside from the direct employment resulting from this announcement, we cannot underestimate the knock-on effects this will have for the economy and the tremendous credibility boost for Scotland's creative industries.' BBC Scotland's head of programmes and services, Donalda MacKinnon, said the production switch was 'excellent news' for the corporation and creative sector north of the border. 'It is another milestone in the development of BBC Scotland as a significant and sustainable centre of distinctive drama production and is a welcome addition to our portfolio of programming for the network,' she added.

Lady Gaga is set to appear in The Simpsons, producers of the long-running cartoon US show have confirmed. The singer recorded her voice-over earlier this month. She's described the experience as 'one of the coolest things I've ever done.' The episode, titled Lady Goes Gaga, will be broadcast in America in spring 2012 and is likely be shown in the UK later in the year.

ITV has reportedly moved to shore up its underfunded pension scheme by paying Credit Suisse to take on the £1.7bn risk of members living longer - a deal which could make the broadcaster a more attractive target for a takeover. ITV, which is looking forward to a bumper autumn with new series of The X Factor and Downton Abbey following a summer slowdown, has entered into what is called a 'longevity swap' with financial giant Credit Suisse, as part of its long-term strategy to reduce the risk in its twelve thousand-member-strong pension scheme. The deal sees the broadcaster pay a fixed monthly sum to Credit Suisse, which will increase its pension deficit, but secure the bank's guarantees should any members live longer than expected. Ian Griffiths, ITV's group finance director, said that the swap would remove 'significant risk' from the broadcaster's balance sheet. The arrangement follows a complex deal last year that reduced the deficit in ITV's final salary scheme by one hundred and twenty million smackers. The broadcaster also scrapped the proposed sale of digital terrestrial multiplex operator SDN in 2009 and instead used the firm as asset backing for its pension scheme. The longevity swap, brokered by Towers Watson, is the third biggest deal of its kind, following similar arrangements at BMW and Babcock International. In effect, the deal adds fifty million notes to ITV pension scheme's funding shortfall of three hundred and twelve million wonga, which ITV intends to make up with revenues from SDN. Raj Mody, a pensions partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, which advised ITV on the deal, said that the swap was similar to switching from a variable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate scheme. 'There's not any actual upfront cost to do that but you might pay a bit more every month on a fixed rate than you do on a variable rate. However, like the fixed rate, what this does do is to provide certainty on the costs,' he told the Independent. Who noded and pretended to understand what he was jiggering on about. The deal is expected to free up ITV to purchase another company, such as a production outfit to boost ITV Studios, or become a more attractive target for takeover itself. Lorna Tilbian, an analyst at Numis Securities, told the Daily Torygraph that the deal removed a 'poison pill' for ITV's potential suitors. 'It reduces its risk and gives it more flexibility, which is the most you can ask from a pensions deal,' she said. 'It makes ITV more attractive to being taken over and also means that if it made disposals, the cash could go into its coffers to be reinvested in the company, rather than being taken away for pensions.' ITV has previously attracted takeover interest from Europe's largest broadcaster RTL Group, the former owner of Channel Five, and Italy's MediaSet, but private equity groups could also be interested now that the pensions issue has been addressed. Last year, ITV tripled its pre-tax profits to three hundred and twenty one million smackers on the back of a resurgent TV advertising market, and the broadcaster is said to have around seven hundred million quid in the bank for 'potential acquisitions.' And world domination, if necessary.

Foyle's War creator Anthony Horowitz has hinted on Twitter that there might be another series of the popular crime drama, although it may have a new name as it will be set post-war in 1946 (something like the long-rumoured Foyle's Peace perhaps).

Neil Gaiman is to start work 'in a couple of weeks' on adapting his bestselling novel American Gods into a TV series for the American cable channel HBO. Speaking at the Guardian Book Club at the Edinburgh international book festival, the author said: 'I got the e-mail yesterday saying that the final contractual tos and fros have been sorted out and I should be free within a couple of weeks to start writing.' The British-born US-based novelist, short-story writer and screenwriter is widely regarded as having redefined the 'graphic novel' (or 'comic' was we non frappuccino-drinnking Gruniad-reading pretentious twat from Islington call it) notably with The Sandman. His first 'straight' novel, Neverwhere, was a version of his 1996 BBC screenplay. American Gods is his bestselling novel which, on the tenth anniversary of its publication this year, was re-published with an extra twelve thousand words of material that had been excised from the first edition. He is planning a full-scale sequel to the book and, he said, 'at least two' shorter spin-offs featuring the story's main character, Shadow. Robert Richardson will make his directorial debut with the HBO series. As a cinematographer, the double Oscar-winner has worked on the Quentin Tarantino films Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds, and on Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island. 'He loves it, he has all these great, mad ideas,' said Gaiman. 'Having fallen in love with it while other people fell by the wayside, he stayed with it.' Gaiman plans to write the pilot, the last episode and maybe some in the middle. Tom Hanks's production company, Playtone, is to produce the show. Gaiman said he hoped the makers would remain faithful to the book. 'They've made a lot of series for HBO and they seem really smart and they love it for what it is and don't want to soften it. American Gods is based on the premise that the gods of ancient mythology exist in present-day America and are kept alive by people's belief in them. Gaiman said: 'The joy of writing a novel like this is being able to take something you could see as a metaphor and making it real. For me the result was all these down-at-heel gods scrabbling for what little belief they could get and pumping gas or working as small-town plumbers in a desperate effort to keep their heads above water.' He said that the story would make a better TV series than a film. 'Over the years I've had phone calls from major directors or major actors. They say, "I want to make it into a movie," and I say, "Great. How?" And at that point I would always have to apologise for the fact that I wrote it while I was doing a couple of screenplays, and was incredibly grumpy at the idea of doing one hundred and twenty four-page stories with beginnings, middles and ends and was determined that the novel should be formless and would have lots of ends, and several beginnings, and middles all over the place. So I actually like the idea that HBO are doing it. The stuff that I had the most concern about going in, because it's the stuff that America has the most keenness to jettison, is the racial aspect of things,' he said. Speaking of possible casting for Shadow, he said: 'Shadow is of mixed race and I wanted to find an actor who has that thing going. An actor who turned up after American Gods was written and, if he hadn't have become huge would have been perfect, was Dwayne Johnson because he has this huge bulk, and doesn't look terribly smart – which is one of the fun things about Shadow: he's smarter than people assume. I want to keep races and nationalities. I don't want it to become softened and homogenised, and I want it to be prickly,' he said.

Only Fools And Horses bit-parter John Challis is the latest embittered old fart who can't get a part on TV these days since the wretched Green Green Grass was cancelled to call for 'a return to family-friendly sitcoms,' saying modern British comedy is 'violent and childish.' Or, in other words, called for a return to 'TV shows that will employ me, me, me, me, me, me, me.' The actor, who played Boycie - yeah the one that used to gormlessly bellow 'Marrrrrr-leeeen' a lot and that was about it - said that TV executives try to win over a young audience with 'gross-out comedies' – yet he claims, with no supporting evidence whatsoever, that 'many younger viewers' liked the more gentle humour such as the show that made him famous. Saying that youngsters still tell him that they're fans of Only Fools, the sixty nine-year-old added: 'That just goes to disprove the only thing they're interested in is violent, projectile vomiting comedy. Only Fools is completely universal.' His co-star Sue Holderness, who played Marrrrrrr-leeeeen, added: 'It's the great bugbear in this business that there aren't enough parts for older people when, in fact, it's older people who are watching television. It's people of fifty and over watching situation comedies. And they aren't represented enough.' The pair were speaking to the Sun.

A 1969 documentary by Ken Loach, made for and later banned by the charity Save the Children, has been shown to an audience of critics and colleagues in London. The untitled film will have its public premiere on 1 September and forms part of a major retrospective of the British director's work at BFI Southbank. The film took a critical view of the charity's work in the UK and Kenya that its backers felt subverted its aims. 'There was a showing and not much was said,' the seventy five-year-old Loach remembers. 'People left the room, and then we heard from the lawyers.' The fifty three-minute film was co-funded by Save the Children, then celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, and London Weekend Television. 'We assumed LWT would support the independence of a critical eye,' said Loach on Monday. 'But they just backed away.' As a result, the piece was consigned to the British Film Institute's National Archive 'and the key thrown away.' With Save the Children's blessing, however, the documentary will finally be screened - more than four decades on from when it was made. So what was it about the film that displeased the charity? Ironically, it was partly the opinions of its own employees that Loach recorded. Travelling to a Save the Children home in Essex, the director filmed its employees making disparaging remarks about the parents of the young Mancunians in their charge. Later in the documentary, Loach travels to another institution in Nairobi where children were forbidden to converse in their native tongues. Instead they were inculcated in the ways of Kenya's former colonial overlords - open-air parades, Tom Brown's Schooldays and lots of PG Wodehouse. 'It is a bit embarrassing to see that,' said Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children. 'But I think it's good to air these issues and we should be big enough to take it on the chin. Save the Children has changed a lot, but the issues that come out in the film about colonialism, aid and charity are still relevant today,' he continued. 'I think it's great it's being shown. I don't think we should be in the film censorship business and we shouldn't stifle debate.' 'We went [to Kenya] with an open mind to see what the work was,' said Loach. 'When we got there, we were absolutely staggered. It was clear to us the function of the school was to provide a middle class to run the civil service and create the veneer of independence.' The director's socialist principles are reflected in a quotation by Marxist theorist Friedrich Engels that opens the film. Elsewhere, black political activists are seen bemoaning the way foreign businesses took money out of Kenya and how aid money is used. 'In our mind it was always about how charity affected the context in the countries in which they were operating,' says Loach, whose other films include Riff Raff, My Name is Joe and Looking for Eric. 'Looking at it now it's a very lumpy film, but I defend the essence of it.'

A US woman accused of using extreme methods to punish her adopted Russian son as a ploy to get on a TV programme has been convicted of child abuse. The jury in Alaska was shown a video in which Jessica Beagley poured spicy sauce into her son's mouth. Defence lawyers said she wanted to appear on the TV programme after normal punishments had failed. The court in Anchorage heard that Jessica Beagley recorded the video for an American TV show called Doctor Phil, in which parents seek help over child behaviour issues. Prosecutors said Beagley asked her ten-year-old daughter to record footage, in which she confronts her adopted son about his behaviour, and then pours hot sauce into his mouth. In the video, which Beagley recorded for a programme segment called 'Mommy Confessions,' she could also be seen forcing the screaming seven-year-old boy into a cold shower. Defence lawyers said she was 'desperate' to appear on the programme after normal punishments failed to work on the boy, whom they said had emotional problems. 'It is our feeling Jessica was doing the best she could,' said defence attorney William Ingaldson. 'This is a very good, loving family.' Beagley showed no emotion when the jury announced its verdict. She and her husband Gary Beagley, a policeman in Anchorage, walked quickly from the courtroom without responding to reporters' questions. The couple have four biological children. Jessica Beagley could be jailed for up to a year or fined up to ten thousand dollars when she is sentenced on Monday. Correspondents say the case has sparked outrage in Russia, with some people calling for the boy and his twin brother to be returned to Russia. The court case comes four months after Russia temporarily suspended adoptions by US families. Moscow acted after an American woman, Torry Hansen, put her seven-year-old adopted son on a one-way flight to Russia alone, with a note saying she could no longer care for him. The ban was lifted in June, when the American and Russian presidents, Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, agreed to work together on rules on adoption.

The actor Noel Collins, best known for his role in BBC drama Juliet Bravo, has died at the age of seventy four. Collins played Sergeant George Parrish in all six seasons of Juliet Bravo the BBC police drama which ran between 1980 and 1985. The show was one of the first crime dramas to have a female detective as the central character (first Stephanie Turner, later Anna Carteret). Collins other notable roles included a 1989 appearance in Doctor Who in the story Battlefield opposite Sylvester McCoy. Collins also appeared in Bread, Play for Today, Within These Walls, Pennies From Heaven and When the Boat Comes In.

A kangaroo named Benji reportedly angered several neighbours in Prague after he was caught 'stealing' their underwear. The two-year-old marsupial knicker-nicker is said to have escaped his owner before hopping over several gardens. He was only caught after a neighbour spotted him jumping away with his loot of lingerie. Benji's owner had already reported him missing to police, but a spokesperson revealed that separate calls of stolen clothing were not linked at first. 'We had a call from Benji's owner saying his pet kangaroo had escaped,' the spokesman said. 'At the same time we started getting reports of a number of thefts from washing lines. We didn't think they could possibly be related until he was caught red-handed.' Or, you know, red paw'd. Benji's owner Petr Hlabovic, thirty five, said: 'I'm very relieved to have him back. I've got no idea what he thought he was up to - he certainly didn't pick up the habit from me.' A likely story, matey.

A German restaurant owner has promised to apologise to the Swedish king after turning the monarch away from her establishment last week. Nadine Schellenberger, who owns a traditional half-timbered inn called Zum Güldenen Stern in Ladenburg, told King Carl XVI Gustaf and his wife, Queen Silvia, that they did not have room for them, instead recommending an alternative restaurant. Schellenberger - who was hosting a wedding party when the royals arrived - told AFP: 'I didn't recognise them. I mean, without crowns and sceptres. I am just not up on royal families and I don't have time for glossy magazines. Whether you're a street sweeper or a queen - we just didn't have a table or enough manpower in the kitchen at that time and our hands were tied.' Zum Güldenen Stern's official website claims that it is the oldest inn in Ladenburg. Originally founded in 1598, it has been rebuilt twice and was most recently renovated in 1982. Schellenberger said that she and her husband Michael intend to write to the king and queen to apologise, inviting them to eat there at a later date.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, I know it's a few months early for sleigh bells but, one can't wait till Christmas for everything. Especially not 'Infinity Guitars.'
Yowzah.

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