Wednesday, August 10, 2011

They Smelled Of Pub And Wormwood Scrubs And Too Many Right-Wing Meetings

Sporadic violence broke out in several cities around England on Tuesday night, although the only one that anyone in the media seemed particularly interested in, London, remained largely quiet with a heavy police presence on the streets. With sixteen thousand officers deployed in the capital, the streets remained mostly calm after three previous nights of rioting and general disorder. But there was serious unrest in other cities including Manchester, Salford, Liverpool, Nottingham and Birmingham with shops being looted and set alight. There were also scattered pockets of trouble in West Bromwich, Wolverhampton, Gloucester, Leicester, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Reading, Oxford, Banbury, High Wycombe and Slough. Newspapers across the political spectrum agree on the urgent need to restore order amid continuing civil unrest although how this would be achieved tended to differ. For instance, how genuinely nice it was to see that odious lard-bucket Eamonn Holmes on Sky News' Sunrise encouraging a decent bit of vigilante action. Good old News International, you can usually depend on them for a bit of good old fashioned scummery. Holmes' comments came after a filmed report of some thirtysomething chaps in Enfield who all said they were ready to give the police a jolly good hand. By, basically, dishing out a tasty bit of arbitrary ad hoc justice to rioters. And, woe betide any 'left wing civil rights' who tried to get in their way. How extraordinarily public-spirited of them, one must say. 'The attacks, the destruction, the criminality and the reign of fear must be stopped,' argued the usually very 'left-wing civil rights' Gruniad. The same newspaper included an unusually hard-hitting piece by Esther Addley entitled London riots: 'A generation who don't respect their parents or police' alongside more standard Gruniad fare such as the somewhat pathetic hand-wringing 'Oh, the inherent tragedy but we must try to understand these poor kids'-style piece by Zoe Williams. To be fair to her, Williams does at least retain a modicum of common sense amid her misplaced compassion for a bunch of numskull thugs and thieves: 'I think it's just about possible that you could see your actions refashioned into a noble cause if you were stealing the staples: bread, milk. But it can't be done while you're nicking trainers, let alone laptops. In Clapham Junction, the only shop left untouched was Waterstone's, and the looters of Boots had, unaccountably, stolen a load of Imodium. So this kept Twitter alive all night with tweets about how uneducated these people must be and the condition of their digestive systems.' However, she then goes on to quote a truly silly piece of almost Stalinist rewriting of history from Camila Batmanghelidjh in the Independent. Have a read of that one, dear blog reader, you'll laugh until you stop. And then you'll laugh some more. Meanwhile, the Daily Scum Mail were full of their usual pompous sound and fury, signifying nothing: 'Protecting the public at home is the first duty of any government.' And, to that end, the Sun demands - demands, they say - 'decisive action,' calling for 'our brave police' to be given 'a free hand to smash the mobs - whatever it takes.' So, water cannons for pensioners, it is then. The Daily Lies is one of several papers to print pictures of suspects, under the headline: Let's shop a looter. The Independent considers the motivation behind this spate of unruly behaviour, concluding that 'this is not a political protest' but rather an outbreak of 'acquisitive looting or brainless destruction' by 'a criminal underclass.' Something which most of the rest of us worked out as early as Saturday night, frankly. And the Daily Scum Express could only ask 'what would Princess Diana think?' No, they didn't, really. But they wanted to. 'What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?' So said Plato in the Fourth Century BC. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, dear blog reader. Mais oui. At a moment such as this, the only solution, frankly, is to get out the 'In times of crisis' video from The Day Today ... Of course, at such times of great uncertainly and genuine fear people tend to look for easy solutions and, equally, someone to conveniently blame instead of just saying 'this is a bunch of bad bastards being bad, let's round them up and give them a series of prison sentences so harsh they'll shite in their own pants.' For example, Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry Messenger have all been accused of having helped 'organise' the riots in London. But, perhaps significantly, the social media services are also playing a key role in the clean up operation. On Tuesday, there were widespread reports in various parts of the media, particularly in - of course - in the Daily Scum Mail a pond scum organ of loathsome hatred that always enjoys looking for easy answers, that the riots in London and Birmingham were 'fuelled by social media.' Some newspapers have been quick to play up the role of young people using social networks to co-ordinate the violence, with the Daily Scum Express even describing the disturbances as 'Twitter-organised chaos.' You can bet that the Scum Express won't be quite so anti-Twitter when Big Brother starts in few weeks and they want people to spread the word about how 'rilly great' Mr Desmond's latest acquisition is. More than seven thousand five hundred people had come together on Facebook to mourn the death of Tottenham resident Mark Duggan, the incident widely viewed as the spark for the violence which erupted in North London on Saturday evening after a public protest outside the police station on Tottenham High Road. After rioters set a double decker bus on fire, a post on the page said: 'Please upload any pictures or videos you may have from tonight in Tottenham. Share it with people to send the message out as to why this has blown into a riot.' Police had warned - rightly - that anyone found using Facebook or Twitter (or any other media for that matter) to 'incite' the rioting and looting would be punished - and, indeed, on Tuesday evening a number of people were arrested for exactly that. But it actually seems that Blackberry Messenger was the conduit used for most of the naughtiness rather than the more famous Facebook or Twitter. BBM enables users to send one-to-many messages to their network of contacts via private PIN numbers. It was originally designed as an ultra-secure communication option for business users, but soon became a favourite with young people, particularly as Blackberry is the chosen smartphone for thirty seven per cent of British teenagers, according to Ofcom. Unlike Twitter or Facebook, BBM messages also cannot be traced by the authorities. A BBM message sent on Sunday, seen by the Gruniad, called on 'everyone from all sides of London' to vandalise shops on Oxford Street. Ironically, this seems to have been completely ignored as there's so far been no outbreaks of unrest in London city centre itself. Another message on Monday urged rioters to 'link up at Lewisham DLR station' and 'bring your cars, vans, hammers, the lot!' according to the Mirra. Canadian company Research In Motion, which owns BlackBerry, yesterday said that it would do everything in its power to assist the police in tracking down the ringleaders. But the organising power of social media is also increasingly being used as part of the operation to clean up the major damage across London from the riots, such as a devastating fire at a Sony distribution warehouse in Enfield. Tens of thousands of users have responded to the violence by co-ordinating a cleanup effort via micro-blogging site Twitter. The phrase 'riotcleanup' has become one of the most discussed topics on Twitter in the UK on Tuesday as communities came together after a third night of looting. A dedicated @riotcleanup Twitter page, believed to have been started by musician Sam Duckworth - who performs as Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly - has become a focal point for the clean up drive and has attracted nearly fifty thousand followers. A message on the page says: 'Let's ask "why" tomorrow. First step is to show love to our communities who need help but a much bigger problem exists post clean up.' The actor Simon Pegg, Stephen Fry and the singer Kate Nash, were among the various Twitter celebrities to direct their large followings towards the hashtag. John Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, has also used his Twitter account to ask B&Q's official page to make a donation of brooms towards the clean up effort. BBC Radio 4's Today programme and Channel Four News have also drawn attention to the drive. Also on Twitter, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver revealed that his restaurant in Birmingham had been 'smashed up' by rioters. So, clearly it wasn't all bad news, then. As noted above, two eighteen-year-olds were arrested in Folkestone, after Scotland Yard said that a number of 'inflammatory' comments were seen on Facebook in relation to rioting in London and other cities. Greater Manchester Police said that a Wigan man had also been arrested on suspicion of using social media to incite violence and there were reports of a fourth arrest in Glasgow of a youth aged sixteen. Meanwhile, journalists and cameramen from Sky News, ITN and the BBC were attacked on Tuesday night as London erupted into violence for the third consecutive night. A crew from the BBC were confronted by rioters while trying to drive their van down London Road in Croydon, where a furniture store was earlier set ablaze and shops looted. BBC producer Paraic O'Brien, who was driving the vehicle, told Journalism.co.uk that he had 'never seen anything like it,' describing the scenes in Croydon as 'apocalyptic. There was all this debris on the road so we had to slow right down. I was driving and my cameraman was in the passenger seat, discreetly filming through a closed window, we had no lights in the car. In the back were two security guards and editing staff,' he said. 'Then a crowd of kids gathered round the van and started shouting and chanting, and someone either hit the window with a metal bar or threw a brick through it. It was something of immense force, enough to dent the frame of the car, and the entire back window smashed in on the guys in the back. You get used to the usual abuse covering these things and you take it in your stride, but last night they were definitely targeting journalists.' ITN, the producer of ITV News, Channel Four News and London Tonight, said that its broadcasting van was attacked in Tottenham earlier in the evening. Channel Four News reporter Kris Jepson revealed on Twitter that camera equipment had been smashed during a scuffle with rioters. Sky News reporter Mark Stone, who was off duty, left his home in Clapham Junction to cover the disturbance in the area using his iPhone. At one stage, he asked a looter: 'Are you proud of what you're doing?' A woman responded by saying that she was 'just getting my taxes back.' Stone was later chased away from the scene by rioters, but returned to report live from Clapham Junction using a Sky News satellite truck. Sky News home news editor Mark Evans paid tribute to Stone's commitment and told the Gruniad that all Sky's journalists had been given a security briefing on Tuesday morning. He said: 'Mark's a very committed and brave young journalist. His use of kit shows how technically minded both he and Sky News are. We don't have the same kind of kit and resources that our competitors do and the use of iPhones and other tools allows us to be first.' CNN reporter Dan Rivers wore a helmet and what appeared to be body armour while he covered the rioting in Peckham. He was forced to retreat after objects were thrown at the police line. However, the rolling news coverage proved a hit with viewers, delivering Sky News and the BBC News Channel with their highest viewing figures for ten years. Based on the number of viewers who tuned in for at least fifteen minutes during the day, Sky News had a total reach of 6.81m viewers on Tuesday, its highest audience since the Iraq War coverage in 2003. The BBC News channel had a total reach of 8.8m, eclipsing its previous record of 8.5m on 11 March this year for coverage of the Japanese earthquake. Also on Tuesday night, the unrest across London enabled the BBC's flagship 10pm news bulletin to draw its biggest audience of the year, at 7.6m with a thirty two per cent share of the TV audience in its time slot, almost unheard of for a news programme. The BBC has so far received a total of one hundred and nineteen complaints about its coverage of the riots, with seventy accusing it of 'bias towards the police,' forty one saying there was 'too much coverage' and eight viewers upset at the BBC using the word 'protestors' when it should have said 'criminals.' Or 'stupid scum bastards.' So, as usual, the poor old Beeb can't do right for doing wrong, it would seem. The BBC has announced that a live edition of Question Time will be broadcast on Thursday. BBC News Channel controller Kevin Bakhurst has described Tuesday night's riots in London as 'one of the most difficult stories we have had to cover. The speed, the unpredictability and the geographical spread of events - I've never seen these three things together before. If you think back over the last twenty years, riots such as those in Bradford or London have been concentrated in one area. They haven't been flaring up all over or been so fast-moving,' he said. Bakhurst, who was due to be on annual leave, admitted that resources were very stretched but said the BBC helicopter proved invaluable for taking news teams to hot spots. Correspondents also phoned in stories on their way home from work or late into the evening as rioting erupted in their local area. It also used Twitter and user generated content to follow rapidly-changing events. Another difficulty for news teams was the lack of police presence. While all of the crews had received riot training, they were unable to rely on the usual tactic of standing behind police lines because these were either non-existent or continually moving. Sky News had around twenty five staff, including reporters and cameramen, on the streets of London on Tuesday night, on top of those working on the story from its offices. International correspondents Robert Nisbet and Emma Hurd have flown back from Brussels and South Africa respectively to cover the riots, although this is in part due to a shortage of staff, with many on leave. In total Sky's entire home news division of around seventy staff will have worked on the story by the end of the week, a scenario that Mark Evans said was very rare. 'This story is much bigger and evolving on a day by day basis, so that's reflected in the amount of resource we throw at it,' he said. 'We're flying people back from around the globe to ensure we have continuing great coverage. It's not a story I anticipate falling off over the week.' Sky has also deployed a second helicopter, dubbed Skycopters, to help it show viewers the full extent of the troubles. The last time it hired two helicopters was for June's NUT protests but they were deployed in separate cities, London and Manchester, on that occasion. 'They have been a great weapon in our arsenal as they allow us to access all the different sites in London,' said Evans. CNN sent three news teams out after monitoring the situation over the weekend. Its affiliate relationship with ITN gave it access to helicopter pictures and correspondent Rivers, wearing protective gear, covered events as they were unfolding in Peckham. CNN vice president and managing editor for EMEA Deborah Rayner said: 'It's the holiday season and everyone is stretched across other stories including the debt crisis, the famine in the Horn of Africa and the deaths in Syria, so we fielded teams when there was proper security in place. Over the past two years our teams have gone through systematic riot training. The Arab Spring and the situation in places like Greece meant it was obvious there was going to be immense social unrest. However this story has taken the police, the government and the media by complete surprise. We have beefed up security, brought in additional correspondents and ratcheted up our overnight newsdesk support. There is increased demand from CNN US to supply reporting and material throughout the night.' An ITN spokesman said: 'We are monitoring the situation closely and are only deploying staff who are trained and experienced in reporting in such circumstances.' ITV is to broadcast its current affairs strand Tonight live for only the second time on Wednesday as it examines the quickly evolving UK riots. The show has been pulled forward from its usual Thursday night home and will help replace ITV's coverage of an England versus the Netherlands football match, which has been cancelled as a result of the unrest. Tonight will be presented by Julie Etchingham and will include contributions from 'those close to the situation,' as well as pre-prepared VT inserts. The current affairs programme was last broadcast live two days after Madeleine McCann went missing in May 2007. Tonight will be broadcast from 7.30pm to 8pm and will be followed by a repeat of drama Lewis. On Wednesday night, crowds of youths set fire to buildings and cars in Manchester and Salford. One crowd marched into Salford's main shopping centre and began smashing shop windows and stealing alcohol. A separate crowd in Manchester's Market Street has set fire to a Miss Selfridge shop. A BBC radio car was set on fire in Salford and a TV cameramen attacked. It was reported that cheers went up from the crowd of about two hundred, some of whom carried sticks, as the window was smashed of the Bang & Olufsen store, off King Street, in Manchester. Looters carried out a widescreen TV while others took smaller electrical items. One eyewitness told the BBC News Channel: 'It's kicking off, big style. The police are running at me. The police are coming at us now with batons.' In Salford, another eye witness, Tom Steedman, said: 'A big group of rioters started attacking some police who were defending the Lidl store. They actually managed to drive the police back who are now nowhere in sight. They then proceeded to smash through all the shutters on the store. It's been completely looted and then they set the store on fire.' At the sound of police sirens the crowds in Manchester, which included small children on bikes, dispersed down side streets, but reconvened to march down Princess Street towards John Dalton Street. Looters then ransacked the Tesco Express store on Princess Street. BBC political correspondent Arif Ansari said a cameraman was set upon just before crowds began attacking a Bargain Booze store and The Money Shop in Salford Precinct. The radio car, belonging to BBC Radio Manchester, was set alight along with a vehicle belonging to a reporter. No radio journalists have been injured. The old library building and some council offices in Salford have also been set alight. Crowds had gathered around Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens from late afternoon ahead of the disorder in Market Street near the landmark Primark store. Police have begun a murder inquiry after three pedestrians were run over and killed by a driver in Birmingham. The incident happened at about 01:15 BST on the Dudley Road in the Winson Green area. Police have arrested a man and a vehicle has been recovered. The casualties were taken to the nearby City Hospital where a large crowd has gathered. It is not yet known if the deaths are linked to overnight rioting in the area. However, it is thought the men had just come out of a mosque and were protecting their neighbourhood at the time of the incident. Members of the Asian community have described the incident as a hit-and-run and police in riot gear have been blocking the hospital's main entrance. Meanwhile, a twenty one-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of starting the massive fire at a furniture store in Croydon. The family-run House of Reeves business was destroyed on a third night of violence in London on Monday evening.
The sale of baseball bats on Amazon has risen a whopping five thousand per cent amid the riots. One particular bat, the Rucanor aluminium design, has climbed from six thousand five hundredth in the best-selling items list to one hundred and twenty fifth overnight. One customer review, by a Harry Fish from Bristol, says: 'This bat is perfectly weighted and will suit any UK shop-owner looking to protect their property. Thanks to the ergonomic handle, one easy swing should be enough to shatter patellas, skulls or any other bone on your targeted looter. Personally, I would recommend also investing in some fingerless gloves for extra grip.' All-metal police batons have also grown considerably in popularity, while the top seven items in the Movers and Shakers in Amazon's 'Sports & Leisure' category can all be used as weapons.

So ... on to other news:

There's a superb think piece in the Gruniad by the actress Stephanie Cole as part of the occasional My TV Hero series. The subject is the producer Innes Lloyd.

More than sixty towns and cities are in the running to host the UK's first local television services, the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt has announced. Licences will be advertised later this year, and the vile and odious rascal Hunt will urge local communities to make their case to be included in the first wave. The first licences are due to be awarded next year. The licence fee will finance some start-up costs, but advertising is likely to fund the services. 'There's a huge appetite for local news and information in communities the length and breadth of the country,' the vile and odious rascal Hunt said. 'I want people to be able to watch television that's truly relevant to them, about what's happening where they live and featuring the people they know.' The towns and cities chosen would receive local TV from existing transmitters. Areas eligible to bid include cities such as Birmingham and Cardiff and towns including Malvern and Basingstoke. A map of the UK has been published detailing the sixty five towns and cities in the running for the licences, which will be issued by media watchdog Ofcom. Licences will be awarded after the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has judged the level of interest from potential broadcasters and audiences. In the longer term, the vile and odious rascal Hunt believes there is potential for local TV to be broadcast over the Internet. He has long championed the concept of US-style local television where many cities, rather than wider regions, have their own news and entertainment coverage. In an interview at last year's Edinburgh International Television Festival, the vile and odious rascal Hunt described the UK media as 'chronically over-centralised.' He said: 'It is crazy that a city like Sheffield, for example, does not have its own television station like it would have in most other developed countries.' The government's goal is to licence the first local TV stations from summer 2012, with between ten and twenty local services in operation by 2015.

The Thick Of It's Chris Addison has been revealed as a new full-time panellist on Mock The Week. Addison will join host Dara O'Briain and regulars Hugh Dennis and Andy Parsons when the new series launches in September. The stand-up, who has appeared on the show numerous times before as a guest, will be a replacement for Mad Frankie Boyle, who exited the programme in 2009 and Russell Howard. 'Chris is a great signing for the autumn run. With party conferences and major sporting events coming up, I imagine he'll be given a roving role as he has the ability to supply quality ammunition for Dara in the centre as well as the confidence to go it alone,' said a show representative. 'With appearances from the likes of Micky Flanagan, Milton Jones, Ed Byrne, Stewart Francis, Miles Jupp and Ava Vidal in the pipeline, it looks like Mock the Week really will be the panel show to watch this season.'

Alex Jones has reportedly signed a one hundred and fifty thousand smackers deal to continue hosting The ONE Show and become a contestant on the next series of Strictly Come Dancing. The alleged agreement will result in the thirty four-year-old appearing on the BBC every day once Strictly returns on 11 September. 'She's really enjoying her time at the BBC and has taken to The ONE Show like a duck to water,' a source told the Mirra. 'Alex loves getting stuck in and being offered Strictly is another chance to show how game for a laugh she is. It's a dream come true and shows how the BBC has great faith in her.' The report comes less than a week after an alleged 'insider' allegedly told the alleged Daily Lies that the BBC was said to be seeking a replacement for Jones on The ONE Show. Pretty much standard for the Daily Lies, that. A load of made-up crap. The corporation subsequently told the Digital Spy website that claims of concern about Jones's perceived cold persona were 'categorically not true.' And, again, pretty much standard for the Daily Lies, that. Not true. 'Alex is exactly what the BBC should be about, developing young talent and turning them into stars,' a BBC spokesperson said on Tuesday. Jones's ONE Show co-host Matt Baker finished second to EastEnders actress Kara Tointon in last year's Strictly Come Dancing competition.

Jonas Armstrong and Peter Wright have joined Chloë Sevigny in the cast of Sky Atlantic's Hit And Miss. Paul Abbott's transgender contract killer drama is one of the most hotly anticipated shows of 2012 and announced a number of new casting details this week. Hit And Miss is about Mia (Sevigny), a contract killer whose life is sent into a tailspin when she discovers that her ex-lover Wendy is dying of cancer. Hot Fuzz's Peter Wright will play Mia's handler in the criminal underworld. Newcomer Jorden Bennie will play Mia's eleven-year-old son Ryan, while Wendy's other children will be played by Karla Crome, Reece Noi and Roma Christensen. Former Robin Hood star Armstrong is cast as landscape gardener Ben, who falls for Mia, unaware of her transgender status. Vincent Regan (300) will play womanising farmer John, who owns the smallholding where Mia and her new family live. Erin Shanagher and Jordan Hill will play his wife and son. Ethan Griffin, Steve Money and one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite actors, the great Ben Crompton from Ideal are also among the ensemble.

Tinopolis has announced the acquisition of US production company BASE in a deal worth a reported forty five million smackers. The deal, which follows the Welsh firm's recent sixty million quid acquisition of Hell's Kitchen maker A Smith & Co, is part of its major expansion in the American market. Founded by John Brenkus and Mickey Stern, BASE Productions makes a range of shows for US networks, including Sport Science for ESPN, Known Universe and Fight Science for National Geographic, and Police POV and Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files for Tru TV. The company operates its own studio and production facilities in Burbank and has offices in Washington DC. Tinopolis, backed by private equity firm Vitruvian Partners, already owns Question Time maker Mentorn, sports production firm Sunset+Vine, and Pioneer. The group produces around sixteen hundred hours of drama, factual, entertainment and sports content each year for more than two hundred broadcasters worldwide. It said that the acquisition of BASE is a part of a 'diversification and growth strategy and strengthens its already substantial US factual entertainment business.' BASE will continue to operate as an independent company, with Stern joining the main board of Tinopolis while continuing to lead BASE alongside his co-chief executive John Brenkus. Brenkus said that 'numerous companies' have approached BASE about an acquisition over the years, but 'none of the offers made sense until now.' He added: 'We are thrilled to be joining a group that is as dynamic as Tinopolis, and to be playing a key role in helping to shape the group's future. Between their UK core, and our new alliance with A Smith & Co here in the US, our combined global reach, quality programming and outstanding management make the Tinopolis Group a true force in the industry.' Tinopolis executive chairman Ron Jones said that he has 'admired' BASE for some time, describing the company as a business based on creativity and 'common sense.'

Channel Four has announced that it will broadcast the new version of Charlie's Angels in the UK. The show, a reimagining of the original 1970s series, stars Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly and Rachael Taylor as a trio of glamorous crime-fighters. The drama, which also stars Ramon Rodriguez as Bosley, is due to premiere in the US next month and will receive its UK premiere on E4. 'Charlie's Angels is a light-hearted, high-kicking romp with all the glitz, glamour and beautiful crime-fighters you would expect from a US remake of the iconic original,' said Channel Four's head acquisitions - and, seemingly, head of cliches, Gill Hay. 'E4 viewers can look forward to some hot Miami action as part of our brand new line up.' She forgot to add 'hot-diggerty.' It was recently reported that original Charlie's Angels stars Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd could make guest appearances on the new show. Channel Four has picked up the rights to a number of forthcoming US series in recent weeks, including live-action comedies Two Broke Girls and The New Girl, animated series Napoleon Dynamite and Allen Gregory and political thriller Homeland.

And now, it's time for another popular edition of the country's favourite pass time, Daybreakwatch.
1 Aug 628k AI 70
2 Aug 627k AI 68
3 Aug 627k AI 66
4 Aug 650k AI 69
5 Aug 647k AI 68
8 Aug 581k
Fine figures there.

The US TV network ABC has apologised to its viewers after part of Nicki Minaj's costume fell off during a televised gig on Friday. The twenty eight-year-old rapper was performing in Central Park for the Good Morning America show when her top slipped down revealing her bare boobies for all the world to see. Fortunately, it wasn't broadcast in 3D otherwise they could have had someone's eye out. Despite a five-second delay some US viewers still saw what happened though it was later edited out of repeat broadcasts. In a statement ABC said: 'We are sorry that this occurred.' The network's apology followed complaints from a handful of tight-arsed viewers. Minaj continued her show despite the (ahem) slip, performing 'Moment For Life' and her UK hit 'Super Bass.'

According to the BBC press office, following the rather craven and cowardly apology issued by the BBC to the Down's Syndrome Association on Tuesday in light of a suspiciously concerted campaign of complaints about Richard Bacon directing listeners to the existence of an online clip of comedian Doug Stanhope which some people found offensive the BBC have now received over seventy contacts from people expressing support for Bacon and the show and complaining about the complainers. Nineteen of these were complaints from listeners who felt that an apology was completely unnecessary and inappropriate and the remaining - approximately fifty - were a mixture of comments and appreciations from listeners who generally enjoy the show, or feel who that the issue has been 'blown out of proportion.' Bacon immediately wrote an apologetic letter to the charity saying that the mention was 'inappropriate' and the BBC said it was 'unacceptable' to broadcast the clip. Which, actually, Bacon didn't, or anything even remotely like it. He merely mentioned that it existed. Bacon's letter said: 'I am writing to apologise for any offence caused by my live interview. In order to illustrate the comedic style of Stanhope's stand-up performances, I referenced available You Tube clips. This was a poor recommendation and I whole heartedly [sic] accept that this reference was inappropriate because of the subject matter. I fully understand my responsibilities as a broadcaster and such a reference fell below the standards I set myself personally in my broadcasting. I am sorry if the reference has caused offence to anyone in anyway. I shouldn't have done it.' Oh, for God's sake grow a backbone, young man.

After Putin's Army encouraged girls to strip and dress provocatively to wash cars - all in support of Vladimir Putin being elected the next Russian president - it was only a matter of time before someone retaliated. Enter the Medvedev Girls, who are backing current Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to be re-elected. A small number of young ladies invited everyone to pour beer into buckets. The more beer they collected, the more items of clothing they removed. The girls ended up stripping down to their bikinis, while all the beer was poured down a gutter. The stunt was inspired by Medvedev's desire to cut down on public drinking. Or something. Medvedev Girl Anna Sirotkina said: 'We're taking our clothes off because this event is aimed mainly at young men and our main slogan is, "choose beer or us."'

The great British chracter actor John Wood - who won a Tony award in 1976 and appeared in numerous films and TV dramas - has died at the age of eighty one. Wood, who was made a CBE in 2007 for services to drama, won the Tony for his role in a Broadway production of Tom Stoppard's Travesties. The Derbyshire-born star died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, his agent said. He appeared in films such The Madness of King George, Slaughterhouse-Five, Richard III and Shadowlands. A statement from his agent said: 'John was a distinguished classical actor, who was much loved and respected by his colleagues, and will be greatly missed.' Wood most recently appeared in the TV series Lewis in 2007. His other TV credits include Goodnight Mr Chips, Foyle's War, Love in a Cold Climate, The Avengers, Doomwatch and Kavanagh QC. He was quite brilliantly memorable  as a slyly deceptive Michael Heseltine in Granada's 1991 drama Thatcher: The Final Day. He completed a stint at the Royal Shakespeare Company and prior to that at London's Old Vic, where he appeared alongside Richard Burton. The performer received two other Tony nominations during his career, one for another Stoppard play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead in 1968 and another for Sherlock Holmes. Wood was nominated for an Olivier Award in 1997 for the role of AE Housman in Stoppard's The Invention of Love. He is survived by his wife and four children.

The BBC and Leeds United FC executives will meet this week in an attempt to resolve a dispute that has resulted in the club banning access to all BBC outlets. The BBC discovered the ban last week when Radio Leeds reporters were refused admission to a press conference at Elland Road. The club says that it will co-operate on all contractual obligations with the BBC but will not allow coverage of press conferences or for reporters or producers to speak to players or managers on match days, unless it is legally bound to do so. Chairman and owner of Leeds United the odious Ken Bates has apparently taken the decision because he's unhappy about a BBC Inside Out TV documentary being made about the club's ownership. A BBC spokesperson said, 'we have been informed by Leeds United FC that there will be no co-operation with the BBC outside the existing contractual agreements. We would like to reassure listeners that BBC Radio Leeds will continue to broadcast Leeds United match reports, there will be some commentary on 5Live, and goals will be shown on the BBC Football League Show.' She confirmed the meeting between the BBC and the club's chief executive Shaun Harvey would take place on Wednesday.

A County Durham man has completed a three thousand-mile run across the USA in memory of his father and brother. It has taken Mark Allison one hundred days to run from California to New York, doing an average thirty miles a day. He has lost five stone on the way. Allison left Huntington Beach, near Los Angeles at the start of May and arrived at the pier of Coney Island on Tuesday at 02:10 local time. He has raised more than fifty five thousand pounds. The runner said the final day was 'tough.' Allison, a Northern Rock IT contractor, said he used to be an 'eighteen stone obese Geordie who loved bacon sandwiches, football and pies,' before becoming a charity runner. He added: 'The USA run brought [that] to a successful end. Thanks to the NYC Toon Army supporters branch for helping me through the last thirteen miles and to Carlton Fletcher for navigating me safely through to Manhattan.' His route has taken him through thirteen states: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. He has run in all kinds of conditions, including snow and desert temperatures of forty six degress. His trek across the US is the equivalent of two hundred and thirty six Great North Runs. The marathon challenge was in memory of his mother who died in 1995, father Terry, who died of cancer in 1988, and his brother David, who died from a brain haemorrhage in 1998. In the summer of 2007, Mark ran eight hundred and seventy four miles from John O'Groats to Land's End in thirty seven days. The runner has kept supporters informed during the challenge via Twitter, a blog and his website. On Day ninety nine, Mark wrote: 'I'm writing this one while having my breakfast in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. My feet are in a right state and I'm very tired and anxious. I'm hanging on in there, though, with only ninety six miles to go to the finish line. Thank you to everyone who has made a donation. Today's miles are in memory of Nora Holland.' The money raised will go towards St Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation.

Finally, it's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Here's The Jam and a necessary reminder that mindless - pointless - violence isn't something that was just invented this week.

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