Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Something For The Weekend

How nice it was to hear Murray Gold's music for Doctor Who taking up a whole round on Monday night's episode of University Challenge. And the look of absolute disgust on Paxman's boat when The Master's theme was identified by Homerton College Cambridge's team as Rose Tyler's theme! I always believed old Paxo was a bit of a fanboy in disguise. In a tense and thrilling finale, Homerton lost by just five points to rivals Balliol College, Oxford. See, if they'd got that Master question right, it'd've been a draw.
The technology firm HCL has told the home affairs select committee it was aware of the deletion of 'hundreds of thousands' of e-mails at the request of News International between April 2010 and July 2011, but said that it 'did not know of anything untoward' behind the requests to delete them. HCL has sent the letter to the home affairs select committee chairman, Keith Vaz, revealing it had been involved in nine separate episodes of e-mail deletion. HCL says it is not the company responsible for e-mails on the News International system that are older than a couple of weeks. It says another - unnamed - vendor is responsible for those, but confirms that it has 'co-operated with this vendor' in deleting material. Through a letter from HCL's solicitors Stuart Benson, the firm says: 'My client is aware of nothing which appeared abnormal, untoward or inconsistent with its contractual role.' According to the Gruniad, the letter adds: 'It is entirely for News International, the police and your committee as to whether there was any other agenda or subtext when issues of deletion arose and that is a matter on which my client cannot comment and something you will no doubt wish to explore direct with News International.' It stressed that since it was not the company which stored News International's data 'any suggestion or allegation that it has deleted material held on behalf of News International is without foundation.' HCL identified three sets of e-mail deletions in April 2010, including a deletion of a public folder of a live e-mail system that 'was owned by a user who no longer needed the e-mails.' A further two hundred thousand e-mails stuck in an outbox were deleted in May 2010 to restore e-mail functionality. In September 2010 a further pruning of historic e-mails occurred to help stabilise the e-mail archival system, which had been having 'frequent outages' since November 2009. In January 2011 HCL was asked about its ability to truncate a particular database in the e-mail archival systems. HCL 'answered in the negative and suggested assistance from the third party vendor.' HCL, the Gruniad claims, 'stated no reason as to why it was unable to assist.' In February 2011 e-mails were deleted in an older version of Microsoft. Finally, in July 2011 HCL helped to delete e-mails from the live system as 'relocation errors' had occurred during migration from one system to the other. HCL said that it 'did not have the resources' to review 'every set of deletions.' Separately, a firm of solicitors drawn into the News International phone-hacking scandal is expected to reply shortly to the home affairs select committee as to how it came to write a key letter to the newspaper group that was subsequently used by the company to contend that phone hacking had not been widespread. The firm, Harbottle & Lewis, is consulting the Metropolitan police before deciding how to reply to requests from the select committee to explain how it came to write a letter taken to mean that only one lone reporter was 'aware' of phone hacking at the paper. The New York Times reported at the weekend that the letter sent by Harbottle & Lewis to the culture, media and sport select committee was redrafted more than once. The firm had been hired to review the e-mail of the tabloid's royal reporter, Clive Goodman, who had pleaded guilty to hacking the mobile phone messages of royal household staff members. The letter said 'no reasonable evidence' had been found that senior editors knew about the reporter's 'illegal actions.' The New York Times alleges that the letter sent to the culture select committee in May 2007 was constructed to give the company a clean bill of health over phone hacking, but was silent on the issue of payments to the police. The home affairs select committee asked: 'What was the exact remit given to Harbottle & Lewis when it was instructed by News International in 2007?' They were also asking what exactly were the 'contents of e-mails and information held in the file you mentioned in your letter.' What advice 'was provided from Harbottle & Lewis to News International in 2007 following examination of the e-mails and information?' and 'Why the evidence you had in 2007 that was later examined by Lord McDonald in 2011 was not acted upon sooner?'

Top Twenty programmes week ending 24 July 2011:-
1 New Tricks - BBC1 Mon - 9.70m
2 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 9.65m
3 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 8.96m
4 Emmerdale - ITV Mon - 7.18m
5 Top Gear - BBC2/BBC HD Sun - 6.13m (5.01m + 1.12m)
6 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 5.83m
7 Torchwood: Miracle Day - BBC1 Thurs - 5.75m
8 The National Lottery: In It To Win It - BBC1 Sat - 5.60m
9 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.59m
10 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Tues - 5.47m
11 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 5.44m
12 Richard Hammond's Journey To The Centre - BBC1 Tues - 5.39m
13 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 5.11m
14 Law & Order: UK - ITV Sun - 4.98m
15 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 4.64m
16 The Corrie Years - ITV Mon - 4.53m
17 Formula One: The German Grand Prix - BBC1 Sun - 4.41m
18 Traffic Cops - BBC1 Thurs - 4.26m
19 My Family - BBC1 Fri - 4.13m
20 The Royal - ITV Sun - 3.98m
Aside from Top Gear, BBC2 also will be happy with the 2.99m figure for The Hour. Channel Four's highest rated show was 24 Hours In A&R with 3.12m. The most watched show on non-terrestrial TV was WATCH's Dynamo: Magician Impossible with 1.38m.

The controversial cot death 'baby swap' storyline on EastEnders has been cleared of breaching broadcasting regulations by media regulator Ofcom despite thousands of complaints from viewers. Which, of course, goes to prove something of an age-old truism. That just because a bunch of self-important whingers kick up a fuss about something and get some tabloid scum newspapers to play musical switchboards with the numbers they represent, it doesn't mean that they are, necessarily, right. The regulator said that the scenes broadcast in the BBC1 soap were 'not unduly disturbing or graphic' and said the plot would 'not have exceeded' viewers' expectations. More than six thousand people complained, including one thousand and forty four to Ofcom, about the story in which Ronnie Branning, played by Samantha Womack, lost her baby James and swapped him for Kat and Alfie Moon's newborn son, Tommy. Viewers complained it was an 'inaccurate, insensitive and sensationalised portrayal' of cot death. Or, in other words, they didn't like it. Others said that it was 'distressing,' 'horrific' and 'inappropriately scheduled,' broadcast over two episodes on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. The cot death plot became the most complained-about storyline in the soap's history; it was criticised by Anne Diamond, who lost her son Sebastian to cot death in 1991, and Mumsnet founder and chief executive Justine Roberts. In a bid to quell the outcry soap chiefs took the highly unusual step of revealing the climax to the baby swap saga and ended the storyline earlier than they had initially intended when Tommy was reunited with his parents. Viewers complained to Ofcom that the drama 'presented the baby swap in an offensive manner because it appeared to suggest that a mother who has suddenly and tragically lost a baby through cot death would react by stealing another baby to replace that loss.' 'This was considered to have the potential to generate great distress,' said Ofcom. 'Any offence was potentially heightened not just by the time of the broadcast, which was pre-watershed, but also because it was scheduled on New Year's Eve.' But the regulator said the storyline was justified by the context of the drama, and said that it had not just been the death of her child that prompted Ronnie to swap the baby but 'a number of other events.' These included: her losing the daughter she had been forced to give up for adoption at fourteen, her desperation to have a baby and the tragedy she had experienced when she had miscarried, and the recent revelation of sexual abuse by her father, said Ofcom. 'Whilst the loss of baby James was a catalyst, Ronnie's reaction was born out of extreme personal trauma in her life and not as the direct and sole consequence of losing her baby.' It added: 'While the storyline was about a sensitive and emotive issue, it is Ofcom's view that the actual scenes broadcast were not unduly disturbing or graphic. Ofcom considered for the regular EastEnders audience, the storyline would not have exceeded their expectations given that the soap is known for presenting a range of challenging and, at times, controversial issues.' Ofcom said the BBC consulted with the Foundation for the Study of Infant Death about the storyline and set up a contact number for viewers who may have been affected.

Strictly Come Dancing will kick off its ninth series with a double bill at the end of September, the BBC has announced. Following on from the successful introduction of a launch show last year, the new bunch of celebrities will be introduced to viewers in early September. Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly will host the special red carpet event, which will be recorded on the afternoon of 7 September. The first live shows will then take place on Friday, 30 September and Saturday, 1 October. Following the double bill, the live shows will then continue on a weekly basis. The BBC has also confirmed that the show will be broadcast from Wembley Arena on 19 November. Details on how fans can buy tickets to the special episode, in aid of Children In Need, will be announced soon. The series will conclude with the live final on 17 December, which, for the first time, will be staged in Blackpool's Tower Ballroom.

Thousands of BBC journalists on Monday begun another twenty four-hour walk out against compulsory redundancies at the corporation, causing disruption to various BBC news programmes. Members of the National Union of Journalists went on strike at midnight on Sunday, causing Radio 4's flagship Today programme to run at a reduced duration from 7am to 9am. The BBC said that there would be a repeat of You And Yours in place of the billed edition at noon on Radio 4, while a news summary and Soul Music would replace The World At One. There was also disruption to various TV programmes over the day. The latest strike follows industrial action staged on 15 July which disrupted the BBC's television and radio programming. The NUJ staged the action after claiming that BBC management had 'refused to take the necessary steps to avoid compulsory redundancies in the corporation's news teams.' A total of three hundred and eighty seven posts are due to be lost in BBC Monitoring and the World Service this year following government funding cuts. Reports have also indicated that more than one thousand jobs could ultimately go at BBC News offices across the UK and overseas, with the majority coming in reporting roles. Four people have so far left the World Service after being made compulsorily redundant, with a further forty three were due to leave on Monday. The union said that the BBC is 'wasting thousands of pounds making skilled and experienced people compulsorily redundant instead of redeploying staff.' It pointed to the example of an NUJ member who had worked at the BBC for 'many years until being unceremoniously escorted from the building' on 22 July. 'The member has specialist language skills and a matter of hours after he was dismissed another member of staff was asked to cover work which would have previously been done by the member,' claimed the NUJ. 'Yet the BBC says there is no job for him. Days after his dismissal the BBC externally advertised three posts in the specialist language of the same NUJ member.' The NUJ is demanding that the BBC give access to internal BBC jobs for those who have been made redundant, and is also calling on the corporation to extend the leaving dates of those facing imminent compulsory redundancy. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: 'The BBC's current actions spell disaster for quality journalism. The corporation is wasting thousands of pounds making hard working, skilled and experienced journalists redundant. Instead they should be adopting alternative solutions and redeploy those who are threatened. No one should be forced out of work when there are jobs available for journalists to do. By taking strike action members intend to show they are prepared to stand up for colleagues under threat and the union is calling on the corporation to step back from the brink and avoid further industrial action in response to compulsory redundancies at the BBC.' BBC management is scheduled to meet with all the broadcasting unions - including the NUJ - on 11 August to discuss the corporation's approach to compulsory redundancies. In a statement, the BBC said: 'We are disappointed that the NUJ has gone ahead with today's strike and apologise to our audience for any disruption to services. Industrial action does not alter the fact that the BBC is faced with a number of potential compulsory redundancies following significant cuts to the central Government grants that support the World Service and BBC Monitoring. We will continue with our efforts to reduce the need for compulsory redundancies, however, the number of posts that we are having to close means that unfortunately it is likely to be impossible for us to avoid some compulsory redundancies.' The NUJ's strike will last for twenty four hours on Monday, followed by an 'indefinite' work-to-rule immediately afterwards, meaning participating employees will only work their contracted hours. The union previously held a forty eight-hour strike in November last year in protest at changes to the final salary pension scheme.

Two former residents of Weatherfield will be returning to Coronation Street later this year which could cause trouble for at least one resident of the street. Bill Webster (Peter Armitage) and his partner Pam Hobsworth (Kate Anthony) are returning to the Street later this year. Pam, aunt of the late Molly Dobbs and Bill were last heard off travelling around Europe following the devastating tram-crash last year which claimed the lives of several residents of the street. However, it's been revealed that the duo are to return from Europe planning to marry. Trouble won't be far away from their return though as Pam is still resentful towards Kevin over his affair with Molly - blaming him for the death of her niece. The tensions between the two are set to cause heart-ache for Bill as Pam bans his son from attending their wedding, according to tabloid reports.

The Australian five-part drama series Cloudstreet has been picked up in the UK by Sky Atlantic. Based around the award-winning Tim Winton novel, Cloudstreet was Showcase's highest-rating TV series of all time, earning the largest homegrown drama ratings for a subscription channel. The series, starring New Zealand actress Kerry Fox, Stephen Curry, Essie Davis, Emma Booth, Geoff Morrell, Todd Lasance and Hugo Johnstone-Burt, is set in the 1940s and 1950s. It follows two rural families, the Pickles and the Lambs, who after suffering tragedies, move to the city, share a house and start their lives over again. 'Epic, cinematic, beautifully written and directed, and featuring extraordinary performances, Cloudstreet is a perfect fit for Sky Atlantic HD,' said the channel's director Elaine Pyke.

ITV has got a divorce from Dermot O'Dreary's new show The Marriage Ref after just one series according to the Sun. The broadcaster had high hopes for the prime-time Saturday night series, which was created by US comic Jerry Seinfeld. The show, which features celebrities giving couples marital advice, never took off. It launched with just 2.3million viewers in June and fell to an audience of 1.7million at the beginning of July. Then bosses moved the show from its prime 9pm slot to 10pm. Ratings did perk up, slightly, for the last episode on Saturday, which pulled in 1.8million - its best performance for three weeks. But it seems that it wasn't nearly enough to save the show from the axe. An 'insider' allegedly said: 'The Marriage Ref is definitely not coming back. Ratings were just not strong enough. The figures have to be higher than this for a prime-time Saturday night show to work.' But the 'insider' also allegedly said ITV was 'still committed' to O'Dreary and was looking forward to his return on The X Factor. The Marriage Ref was, notes the Sun, was 'slated by viewers' - which is tabloidspeak for 'criticised' only with less syllables - over the format and the calibre of its alleged 'celebrity' guests. When it first launched in the US viewers weren't thrilled either, but the show was re-ordered for a second series - although with several changes. Seinfeld has previously said bad reviews don't upset him. He's insisted: 'There's nothing that a certain group of people don't hate. People love to hate.' Well, they certainly seem to love to hate this fiasco.

The renewal of Torchwood for another season isn't 'a done deal' according to its American broadcaster, and co-producer, Starz. Torchwood: Miracle Day continues to attract reasonable ratings for both Starz and the BBC and despite the fact that its only four episodes into the new - fourth - season. Speculation has, therefore, already turned to the show's future. According to reports from America at the moment Starz isn't thinking in the long-term in regards to Torchwood. The broadcasters' CEO Chris Albrecht is quoted as saying 'Torchwood is not one of the shows we went into thinking about a yearly return. It's about Russell Davies. He has a lot of things on his plate. If Torchwood is at the top of his list, that will effect the future of Torchwood.' Big Rusty himself has previously indicated that he only had one further idea for another series of Torchwood before wishing to move on. Davies is currently developing a new drama series named Cucumber with Showtime, it was announced last month. However, the showrunner previously told the Digital Spy website that he was having second thoughts about leaving Torchwood. 'I say [I'll quit] at the beginning of every year and then I get to the end [of the series] and I love it again,' he explained. 'So I don't know. It is time that I moved on and did something else, but we'll just see how well Miracle Day does.'

William Baldwin has signed up for a role in Hawaii Five-0. The actor has agreed to a multi-episode arc in the show's upcoming second season, TV Guide reports. He will play a former homicide detective who was forced to leave the police when he was accused of corruption. Since being fired, Baldwin's character has started participating in crime with other unethical policemen. The character is expected to have some interaction with Kono (Grace Park) and will clash with the head of Internal Affairs, played by guest star Tom Sizemore. Baldwin previously starred in Dirty Sexy Money and has recently had roles in Parenthood and Gossip Girl. He has also appeared in movies such as Backdraft, Flatliners and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Other stars who have signed up to appear in the second season of Hawaii Five-0 include Lauren German, Richard T Jones and Terry O'Quinn.

Comedy legend Ronnie Corbett has claimed that he would like a chat with Mad Frankie Boyle about his confrontational style of humour. Corbett said that whilst he wasn't a fan of the Scottish stand-up's brand of caustic comedy he was intrigued by Boyle's motivations. 'Oh my gosh. Yes. It's not for me to say, but being outrageous is his territory,' Corbett told the Radio Times. 'I'd be interested to chat to him to see why he wants to upset people. I don't understand it.' He also claimed that comedy was 'grosser' today than when The Two Ronnies were on-screen in the '70s and '80s. 'We did Donald McGill, seaside-postcard stuff - middle of the road. We knew what mums, dads and children would understand and enjoy without resentment. I don't see the requirement to upset people,' he said. 'You're there to entertain and please. We'd never do anything tasteless. There's enough to make fun of without offending. Our comedy was light-hearted amusement that seemingly tripped naturally off the tongue. That's why I don't think it will date.' Corbett has filmed an ITV series about his favourite comics, touring the country interviewing stars including Miranda Hart, David Mitchell and Matt Lucas. Taking a swipe at the current state of TV comedy, Corbett also lamented the influx of straight stand-up shows and panel series. 'There are also a superfluous amount of stand-up programmes,' he said. 'You long to have them talk to each other or do a little sketch. I watch the wonderful Dara O'Briain refereeing Mock the Week where they all compete with each other. I wouldn't be on that. It frightens the life out of me.'

Karen Gillan has been cast in the independent comedy Not Another Happy Ending. Doctor Who's current companion will star as an eccentric author suffering from writer's block after she finds success with a best-selling novel. Black Death actor Emun Elliott will co-star as Gillan's publisher, who tries to make her life more miserable only to realise that he is in love with her. Martin Compston will also appear in Not Another Happy Ending, to be directed by John Mckay. 'We have two of the newest, hottest, sexiest pair of lead actors out of Scotland. Just right for the kind of quirky, romantic indie movie Not Another Happy Ending is set to be,' Mckay told Screen Daily. Filming is due to being at the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012.

Tim Bresnan scored ninety runs and took five wickets as England tore India asunder to surge to one of their most impressive Test victories in recent times. After racking up five hundred and forty four in a blistering batting display, England's seamers then skittled the tourists for one hundred and fifty eight to complete a three hundred and nineteen-run victory on the fourth day at Trent Bridge. Only Sachin Tendulkar (fifty six) and Harbhajan Singh (forty six) offered any resistance as England made something of a mockery of India's status as the world number one Test side to snatch a two-nil lead in the four-match series. If England win the series by two clear Tests, they will officially assume top spot in the world rankings, but after a second straight mauling of India most will believe Andrew Strauss's men are already there. England should have taken a wicket from the first ball of the India innings as Abhinav Mukund - on a king pair - was dropped by Bresnan jumping across Andrew Strauss from second slip. Rahul Dravid, England's nemesis with two centuries so far in the series, fell in Stuart Broad's second over, nibbling at a ball outside off stump and nicking one through to Matt Prior to leave India eight for one at lunch. VVS Laxman fared little better, making four before his off stump was uprooted by Jimmy Anderson in the second over after lunch. Mukund was surprised by a brutish lifter from Bresnan and could only fend the ball in the air to Strauss and Suresh Raina was tempted by a bouncer, top-edging a hook straight down the throat of substitute fielder Scott Elstone at fine leg. Yuvraj Singh looked totally ill at ease in the face of a bumper barrage from Bresnan and it was little surprise when he gloved one sod of delivery straight up in the air and was caught by Alastair Cook, back-pedalling from silly point. Skipper Dhoni - applauded all the way to the wicket by home fans after his display of sportsmanship the day before over the Ian Bell run out incident - became the fourth Indian to be dismissed for a golden duck in the match as he offered no stroke to Bresnan. With wickets falling like skittles around him, Sachin Tendulkar went on the offensive, striking eight fours in reaching his sixtieth Test fifty as he and Harbhajan frustrated England with a partnership of fifty two. But even The Little Master could not save India, his dismissal being an exact replica of his captain's as he shouldered arms to an Anderson in-swinger and was trapped on the front pad. Harbhajan tried one slog too many and was caught in the deep by Elstone to hand Bresnan his first five-wicket Test haul, and an Anderson yorker ended a spirited twenty five from as many balls by Praveen Kumar. England's victory was all the more remarkable given the fact they had been one hundred and twenty four for eight after being put in to bat under heavy cloud cover on the opening day. A phenomenal all-round effort from Broad kept them in the match, before Ian Bell's flawless - if controversial - hundred helped bat the increasingly ragged tourists out of the game. Having scored a staggering one hundred and eighty seven runs in Sunday's evening session, England started off in the same fashion on Monday morning. They lost Prior early to a routine edge to the wicket keeper, but Bresnan and Broad put India's attack to the sword, scoring ninety two off seventy eight balls in a hugely entertaining run-fest. Admittedly to some pretty shoddy bowling. England's five hundred and forty four was only the eighth time they have scored more than five hundred runs in the second innings of a Test. The highest was the six hundred and fifty four for five made in the so-called 'timeless' drawn Test against South Africa at Kingsmead in March 1939. The occasional spin of Yuvraj and Raina was given particularly harsh treatment - Bresnan creaming Yuvraj for successive fours before Broad went one better with two clubbed sixes in a row over midwicket from Raina's gentle off-spin. Broad spanked forty four from thirty two balls before getting run out taking a risky single. And Bresnan motored to within ten runs off a maiden Test century, only to be surprised by some steepling bounce from Kumar, the ball ricocheting off the shoulder of his bat to Dravid in the gully. His ninety was just one run short of his previous best Test score set against Bangladesh last year. Graeme Swann was the last man out, for three, but not before England had reached the fourth highest second-innings total in their history, and one that was too prove way beyond the tourists' capabilities. Their confidence shattered, India have nine days to regroup before the series resumes at Edgbaston.

ESPN has renewed its exclusive broadcast agreements to Italian, Dutch and Russian football, as well as made its English Premier League goals mobile app free to all users. The new deals enable ESPN to continue offering live and exclusive coverage of Italian Serie A, as well as the Dutch Eredivisie and the Russian Premier Liga. ESPN said that it will air at least two matches each week from Italy's top division, alongside Coppa Italia games, and the Italian Super Cup clash between AC Milan and Internazionale this month. It will also broadcast 'dozens' of games each season from the Dutch and Russian top leagues. The Disney-owned broadcaster, which expanded its UK market position in 2009 following the collapse of Setanta UK, will continue to broadcast magazine programme ESPN Kicks - Serie A, alongside weekly highlights and goals from the Eredivisie and the Russian Premier Liga. Jeroen Oerlemans, the vice-president of TV channels at ESPN, said: 'The renewal of these agreements is an excellent result for all football fans in the UK, giving them access to live and exclusive coverage of some of Europe's leading football leagues and competitions. We are building an excellent portfolio of live football and sport on ESPN.' ESPN snapped up the rights to Serie A, along with German, Dutch and Russian football to bolster the reduction of its English Premier League TV rights down to just twenty three games per season in 2010-2011, with Sky holding the remaining one hundred and fifteen. Last month, the broadcaster announced its opening fixtures for the 2011-2012 football season, starting with Newcastle's clash against Arsenal on 13 August. ESPN has also today launched an enhanced version of its ESPN Goals app, the mobile service offering 'near live' highlights of all goals during the Premier League season.

And, speaking of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (if unsellable) Magpies, Joey Barton will be allowed to leave Newcastle on a free transfer, the club has announced. Relations between the twenty eight-year-old and the club have been strained after contract negotiations broke down earlier in the summer, leading to Barton frequently airing his frustrations on Twitter. 'Newcastle United can confirm that Joey Barton has been placed on the transfer list on Monday,' said a club statement. 'The player has been advised that he can leave the club on a free transfer.' And, as usual, that was all they said, because the idea of them actually letting the supporters of the club know just what the smegging hell is going on up there is, obviously, too much like hard work for the vile and odious Ashley and his mouthpiece. Earlier on Monday, Barton, who has a year remaining on his contract at St James' Park said on Twitter that he would make an announcement on his future at 4pm. But before he could do so, the club made their statement on their website saying he could leave the club for free before the end of his contract. On Sunday, Barton tweeted that there was unrest behind-the-scenes at Gallowgate after the club fined full-back Jose Enrique for accusing the club of 'lacking ambition' also on Twitter. It's worth noting, at this point, and without going into any of the rights and wrongs of all this malarkey that this is one of the main reasons why yer actual Keith Telly Topping dislikes Twitter so much. Because it's almost designed to stir up trouble where keeping ones trap shut in public might, just, not stir up trouble. How many people now - in a variety of different fields - have found themselves sacked, fined, suspended or the subject of tabloid interest - because they've made their mouths go on Twitter? You'd think one or two of them might have learned something by now. 'If only we as players could tell the fans exactly how it is, without them above fining us lots of money. There will be a time and a place,' tweeted Barton. 'If it wouldn't effect [sic] team morale and cause unrest within the dressing room. Am certain Jose's comments would be the tip of the iceberg. And, again, it would be left to those magnificent fans to pick up the remnants of their once great football club. If I wanted to leave, I'd just come out and say "I want to leave." Things need addressing as am not prepared to go through a relegation again. If I didn't care, I'd say fuck all and pick my money up.' Barton has been furiously tweeting on a variety of topics in recent days ranging from criticism of US/UK foreign policy, his impending fatherhood and the sanity of Manchester City's Mario Balotelli. In response to the club's announcement, Barton said: 'Somewhere in those high echelons of NUFC, they have decided I am persona non grata.' Blimey. Joey Barton just used Latin. And correctly, as well. See, he's not just a gormless thug with anger issues. Barton later added: 'I am on a free but the honour of wearing those B+W stripes, surpasses that. One day the board might realise, what the shirt signifies. HONOUR and PRIDE. Thanks for your continued support. Toon Army.' In his final tweet on the subject, Barton also quoted from The Smiths' 'That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore' ('I've seen this happen in other people's lives now it's happening in mine'). And, he's not wrong, you know. It is too close to home and it is too near the bone. Newcastle's owner, the vile and odious Ashley, had hoped to sell the twenty eight-year-old, who joined the Magpies from Manchester City for £5.8m in 2007, this summer but a deal has not materialised. This has also, for the second time in six months, rather spectacularly undermined the latest occupant of the vile and odious Ashley's manager's office, Alan Pardew, who has been making nosies all summer about wanted Barton as part of his side - to the point of making him club captain. Dear blog readers may remember in January Pardew making numerous statements that Andy Carroll would not be sold. Just before Carroll was sold, to Liverpool. Bet you're really regretting taking on this particular poisoned chalice now, Alan. Although, I'm sure the pay's good. After serving a six-month ban from football and a seventy seven-day prison sentence for common assault, Barton has rebuilt his career at St James' Park. Though he clashed with then manager Alan Shearer and was suspended in 2009, he resolved his differences with the club and played a key role in helping the Magpies gain promotion to the Premier League under Chris Hughton in 2010 winning over many supporters who had previously been openly hostile towards his continued presence in the club. Including, it should be noted, yer actual Keith Telly Topping who always admired Barton's ability but considered him at times a liability. For the most part, those rash and violent tendencies were curbed by Barton who seemed to be maturing, rather unexpectedly, into a reasonably decent human being. Last season, he scored four goals and set up nine more as Newcastle ensured their top flight survival by finishing twelfth. For many supporters he was a leading contender for player of the season. Talks on the subject of a new contract were put on hold when Andy Carroll left for Liverpool in January and stalled once more when his good friend and captain Kevin Nolan signed for West Ham, despite Barton saying that he wanted to stay with club. As the club's unofficial fansite nufc.com sensibly notes: 'So, a situation that has festered for over two months comes to a head less than a fortnight before we open up our league season. Good old Newcastle United. That our first game sees us meet Arsenal at SJP is grimly ironic, given that last season's 4-4 draw on Tyneside was a prime example of Joey Barton's positive effectiveness: controlled aggression, coolness from the penalty spot, a refusal to give up the fight and inspiration to galvanise those around him on the field and in the stands. In a word, spirit - the very thing that many fans were relying on Barton to provide this season following the departure of Kevin Nolan. His departure makes us look less United, less threatening and less competitive - in isolation cause for concern but as a whole, a massive worry.' That's what you get for supporting Newcastle, dear blog reader. A club that never has a drama where a crisis won't do in its place.

And, on that bombshell, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, we have an entire plot for a 1960s Britcom in four minutes and nineteen seconds from whatever darkly comic things exist in the corners of Neil Hannon's brain! Great video too.

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