Saturday, August 13, 2011

Week Thirty Four: We'll Beat Ya, Defeat Ya, We're Ready To Roll!

Senior police officers were in open revolt over the government's police reform agenda on Friday according to the Gruniad, 'reacting furiously' to criticism of the way they handled the riots, and turning their fire on the home secretary, Theresa May, after she suggested she had instructed the police to take a tougher line. Faced with an onslaught from all levels of the police, David Cameron tried to beat a hasty retreat from the row, lavishly praising the force after he and May had both described police tactics in the Commons on Thursday as 'timid' and highlighted police admissions that their initial plans to counter looting had been 'misguided.' Cameron is understood to have phoned Tim Godwin, the acting Metropolitan police commissioner, on Friday and the message was posted on the Met's internal communications system for its staff. It read: 'The prime minister has this morning telephoned the temporary commissioner, Tim Godwin. He wished to express his personal thanks and admiration to the entire command team, gold, silver, and bronzes – and all the many officers and staff who have worked so hard during the recent disorder.' May said on Wednesday she had insisted that special constables be mobilised and all police leave should be cancelled, remarks which were seen to threaten the cornerstone of police operational independence. Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, described the role of the politicians as 'an irrelevance,' pointing out that by Monday the police had decided to mobilise huge numbers of officers in London anyway. He said he briefed Cameron about the decision after the prime minister returned from holiday on Tuesday morning. Derek Barnett, president of the Police Chief Superintendents' Association, also said the return of the politicians did not make any difference. 'The decisions to deploy police officers in large numbers was made well in advance of politicians becoming involved,' he said, adding that the point of politicians returning from holiday was 'only to give a sense that there is now someone back in charge of the country and offering political leadership.' Asked about claims by Cameron that policing had been too timid, Godwin said: 'I think, after any event like this, people will always make comments who weren't there.' My italics. He insisted that the changes in tactics and police numbers were due to commanders, not politicians. 'I think the issue around the numbers, the issue around the tactics – they are all police decisions and they are all made by my police commanders and myself.' Political 'sources', the Gruniad claimed, described Orde as 'incandescent' with Tory attempts to take credit for toughening the police line, adding that it 'underlined his fear that government plans for elected commissioners will politicise the police.' The 'sources' allegedly added that Orde was still interested in becoming the new Metropolitan police commissioner, but 'only on his own terms.' The row came as an ICM poll for the Gruniad showed that the public broadly sided with the police and not the politicians over the handling of the riots. The poll conducted this week shows that less than a third of voters think the prime minister or the London mayor, Bumbling Boris Johnson, have performed well. Only thirty per cent say Cameron has done a good job, against forty four per cent who say the opposite. For Johnson, the figures are twenty eight per cent good job and thirty eight per cent bad. But, forty five per cent believe Godwin has done well, against twenty seven per cent who say he has not. The ICM poll also showed most are concerned that the police, facing twenty per cent cuts in budgets, already do not have enough resources. After a meeting of the government's COBRA committee, Orde told MPs: 'Let us be clear about one thing – the distinction between policing and politics remains. The police service will make the tactical decisions and quite rightly we must and should be held to account.' Earlier this week he had ridiculed a suggestion made by Cameron that water cannon should be put on standby, saying they would be 'entirely useless.' Orde revealed he had urged May to hold a conference on comparative international policing styles, adding pointedly: 'I sense if we do that, the British model will come out well on top.' Bill Bratton, the former US policeman admired by Cameron and credited with cleaning up New York, said he has agreed to help the UK government on how to deal with gangs. Bratton, who is now chairman of private security firm Kroll, spoke to Cameron by telephone on Friday to discuss the matter. 'I'm being hired by the British government to consult with them on the issue of gangs, gang violence and gang intervention from the American experience and to offer some advice and counsel on their experience,' Bratton told Reuters last night. Downing Street said Cameron thanked Bratton for agreeing to a series of meetings in the UK this autumn to share his experiences tackling gang violence. Bratton will provide counsel 'in a personal capacity,' it said in a statement. 'This is a prime minister who has a clear idea of what he wants to do,' Bratton told Associated Press. 'He sees this crisis as a way to bring change. The police force there can be a catalyst for that. I'm very optimistic.' Bratton and Cameron are expected to meet next month to continue their talks. Orde set himself against Cameron's plans to allow outsiders to join the force at high ranks, saying: 'The leadership of this service understands policing. We all started where our brave officers were the other day. We start at the bottom, we move up and we learn and we move on.' He also contradicted Cameron's claims that twenty per cent cuts to police budgets in the next four years would have 'no impact' on police visibility. He said: 'Chief constables have minimised the impact on the frontline. We will have to have some very honest, straightforward conversations with government in years three and four. We have to understand what sort of service we want and what we want it to do, and not do.' Peter Hain, the former Northern Ireland secretary who worked with Orde in Northern Ireland, offered his strong support, saying: 'He is a reformer that stands up for his officers and tells it like it is in a non-party political way. The Conservatives would be mad not to appoint him Metropolitan commissioner if he wants the job, but he will do it only on his terms.' Sir Norman Bettison, chief constable of West Yorkshire, opened another front against government plans to introduce elected police commissioners to oversee chief constables, with elections due next May at a cost of one hundred million smackers. He said the mutual aid programme which saw sixteen thousand officers put on to the streets of London would not work with elected commissioners. 'Mutual aid relies upon the unfettered ability and operational discretion to do things for the greater good rather than for local popularity. The surge the prime minister talks about can only be achieved by coordinating assets across forty three forces. If there are elected police and crime commissioners this will not happen. Each will have been elected on different political platforms and there will be all sorts of parochial decision making about their priorities.'

The BBC has announced a special episode of Crimewatch focusing on the recent UK riots. The thirty-minute episode, titled Riots Caught on Camera: A Crimewatch Special, and subtitled Grass Up Some Scum, That'll Be Good For A Laugh, will be presented by Crimewatch host and former police officer Rav Wilding. On Thursday, the prime minister suggested that people should turn dirty stinkin' Copper's Nark and shop thy neighbours to The Law if they believed that their neighbour had 'mysteriously acquired a plasma TV.' Which should, of course, have the predictable inevitability of seeing thousands of people who don't like their next door neighbours anonymously ringing up their local cop shop and passing on groundless allegations of wrongdoing which the police will then have to waste their time investigating. Nice one, Dave, you've really got your frigging finger on the pulse of this situation, haven't you? Why don't you piss off back to Italy, stick to insulting waitresses and leave the professionals to sort stuff like this out, eh? The programme will 'appeal for viewers to help identify' many rioters and looters that were caught on camera during the violence. Wilding will also visit the areas of the UK that were affected by the riots. BBC1's  Question Time UK riots special was seen by approximately three and a half million people when it aired on Thursday night.

David Starkey has sparked controversy after comments he made on Newsnight about the recent UK riots. The respected historian and broadcaster, who received a CBE in 2007, said: 'The problem is that the whites have become black.' Oh dear. There's gonna be trouble. The Gruniad Morning Star will crucify the bloke, the Daily Scum Mail will lionise him (and probably misquote him) as odious lice like Melanie Phillips and Jan Moir rub their hands together with glee that they can now add a racial element to their reportage of entirely non-racial disorder and use the excuse that a very clever man with letters after his name who makes award-winning programmes about the Tudors has championed this line of thinking. And Channel Four will shite in their own pants and drop him like a hot potato. Speaking of 'a profound cultural change,' Starkey revealed that he had been re-reading Enoch Powell's infamous 1968 Rivers of Blood speech. 'His prophesy was absolutely right in one sense. The Tiber did not foam with blood but flames lambent, they wrapped around Tottenham and wrapped around Clapham,' he said. 'But it wasn't inter-community violence. This is where he was absolutely wrong.' Addressing one of the other guests - Owen Jones, who wrote Chavs: the Demonisation of the Working Classes - Starkey said: 'What has happened is that a substantial section of the chavs that you wrote about have become black. The whites have become black. A particular sort of violent destructive, nihilistic gangsta culture has become the fashion and black and white boys and girls operate in this language together. This language which is wholly false, which is this Jamaican patois that has been intruded in England and that is why so many of us have this sense of literally of a foreign country. It's not skin colour, it's cultural. Listen to [Tottenham's Labour MP] David Lammy, an archetypal successful black man. If you turn the screen off so that you are listening to him on radio you would think he was white.' Writer and education adviser Dreda Say Mitchell challenged Starkey's views. She said: 'You keep talking, David, about black culture. Black communities are not homogenous. So there are black cultures. Lots of different black cultures. What we need to be doing is thinking about ourselves not as individual communities as one community. We need to stop talking about them and us.' Jones later told the Gruniad - who could hardly believe their luck - that he believed Starkey's comments were 'a career-ending moment,' which they probably are. He said: 'He tapped into racial prejudice at a time of national crisis. At other times, those comments would be inflammatory but they are downright dangerous in the current climate. I fear that some people will now say that David Starkey is right, and you could already see some of them on Twitter. I am worried about a backlash from the right and he will give legitimacy to those views in the minds of some.' An outcry on Twitter began with the Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn asking the BBC: 'Why was racist analysis of Starkey unchallenged? What exactly are you trying to prove?' A spokesman for Newsnight said that Corbyn appeared to have been watching a different programme since Starkey's views clearly were challenged, not only by Jones and Mitchell but, also by the presenter the pussy's friend Emily Maitlis 'very robustly challenged David Starkey.' Personally, this blogger likes Starkey; I think he's a very intelligent, very formidable man. But he's been and gone and put his size tens right in a squelchy dog turds here and it's going to take a lot of fancy talking to avoid joining Ron Atkinson and Michael Richards in the 'you'll never eat lunch in this town again' club.

Judges and magistrates have been warned not to dispense 'rushed justice' after courts once again sat through the night to deal with hundreds of defendants charged after four days of rioting and looting in England. A senior member of the Law Society raised concerns over the 'fairness' of hearings and a leading magistrate complained that prosecutors were undermining the power of magistrates and district judges. Nearly eight hundred defendants have so far appeared in court, half the total arrested. But the Crown Prosecution Service denied that justice was being compromised, saying that the public wanted to see the law deal with the 'really quite extraordinary levels of offending.' Ian Kelcey, who chairs the Law Society's criminal law committee, said: 'The main problem is that you are working through the day and they want to get people in from twelve in the evening to six in the morning. I have been talking to a colleague who was cream-crackered by eight in the morning and having to look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for his day's work.' Lawyers were 'trying to achieve some degree of justice for their clients' said Kelcey. 'The root of the situation is that you are looking to people's goodwill. When you get rushed justice, you can end up with rough justice.' The Gruniad - who really do seem to be having a field day with all of the manifest injustices they see - solicitors are 'also angry' at 'planned big cuts' in legal aid, especially in London where they may be as high as twenty five per cent. Manchester Magistrates' Court operated throughout the night again to process convictions and saw more than one hundred and ten people brought before it. In the latest set of miscreants and recidivists up a'fore the beak for their caning a twelve-year-old boy pleaded guilty to stealing a bottle of wine from a Manchester supermarket during Tuesday night's disturbances. He was given a nine-month referral order and ordered to pay fifty quid costs. Among the first people jailed for their roles in the Manchester riots was a man sentenced to eight months for stealing clothes. In Solihull, magistrates sat from 19:30 until 06:00 to fast-track people arrested during the disturbances to answer charges including burglary, arson, theft and violent disorder. Chief Superintendent Phil Kay, of West Midlands Police, said working through the night was a first for Solihull. He said it had given them the 'opportunity to put before the courts the prisoners involved in the disorder in a really timely manner which helps speed up the judicial process.' Police have made more than three hundred arrests since disturbances began in the West Midlands on Monday. Overnight, twenty six defendants, including six juveniles, appeared before magistrates in Solihull. A total of twenty of these are now in prison having either been sentenced or pending follow-up court appearances, West Midlands Police said. Merseyside Police has charged forty five people and Greater Manchester Police said one hundred and forty five people had been arrested and ninety seven charged. Craig Cave of Burrows Avenue, Beeston, appeared at Nottingham Magistrates' Court, and was found guilty of obstructing police in Nottingham. He was fined sixty pounds. The district judge Tim Devas told him: 'Let me give you a piece of worldly advice. Get a life, sort yourself out. Don't you feel ashamed that you are now counted among the hundreds of yobbos arrested and now considered as scum by the public?' Speaking in general to the court about sentences that were handed down, Judge Devas who sounds like he fancies himself a bit, added: 'If there are any criticisms of sentences handed down by the courts, if you want anyone to blame, then go and speak to the government. Do not blame the judges or the magistrates who do their jobs professionally and abide by the guidelines set down.' Meanwhile, a South Tyneside woman has been arrested on suspicion of using a social networking site to incite other people to commit disorder. Northumbria Police said the force had been monitoring such sites following reports from members of the public. The twenty one-year-old of Hebburn was later bailed pending further enquiries. A police spokesman said: 'We will continue to maintain a robust approach to anyone suspected of being engaged in or inciting public disorder.'
The publisher of the Daily and Sunday Mirra has obtained 'written guarantees' from senior editorial executives that they have not been involved in so-called 'black arts' – such as phone hacking and paying police – over the past eleven years. A piece of paper with 'we never done nothing' was produced. Seems fair enough. However, Trinity Mirra has not sought guarantees from former executives, such as ex-Daily Mirra editor Piers Morgan, who has faced a series of phone-hacking allegations in recent weeks. Sly Bailey, the chief executive of Trinity Mirra, said that the company had taken the step to quash 'completely unsubstantiated' allegations of malpractice by the company's journalists. 'The company has sought and received formal written confirmation from senior editorial executives across both the nationals and regionals, that since the commencement of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act in October 2000 and whilst an employee of the group they have not nor, to their knowledge, have any of their staff or anyone on their behalf, intercepted any telephone messages, made payments to serving police officers or accessed the police national computer,' Bailey said. Of course, it's worth remembering that News International issued similar denials in 2006, a story they stuck to until January of this year when they were forced to come clean and admit that they had not been, exactly, accurate in their previous statements. Not that this is, necessarily, true of the goings on at the Mirra Group. Time will tell. It usually does. Trinity Mirra has become the focus of allegations about alleged phone hacking in recent weeks, as national newspapers have been put under the microscope following Rupert Murdoch's closure of the News of the World. In Trinity Mirra's case the focus has largely been on the odious, slimy Morgan, the CNN talk show presenter who edited the Daily Mirra for almost a decade until 2004. When he was - deliciously - sacked. Morgan has consistently denied that he has ever hacked a phone, ordered any of his journalists to do so, or knowingly published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone. Bailey said the initiative to seek written promises of probity from editorial executives did not extend to former staff such as Morgan. 'We are not in a position to compel people who no longer work for us,' she said. 'There have been a number of completely unsubstantiated allegations made against our titles with no evidence to support them.' Lawyer Mark Lewis, who is representing a number of claimants taking civil action against News of the World publisher News International over alleged phone hacking, has said that he has at least three similar cases against Trinity Mirra pending. However, Bailey said the company has not received any notification of legal action from Lewis. She said the review of current editorial procedures that Trinity Mirra launched in July following the closure of the News of the World was timely. 'It is just good corporate governance. Following the disclosure of the activities of certain journalists at the Scum of the World, the government has asked Lord Justice Leveson to hold an inquiry into various matters including the regulation of the press,' Bailey said. 'At the same time, and in part as a consequence of the introduction of the ContentWatch editorial system across many of our businesses, the group has implemented a review of its editorial controls and procedures. It is too early to determine what, if any, impact there will be on our businesses from either review.'

The FBI is widening its investigation of News Corporation's activities within the US to look at whether alleged computer hacking by one of its subsidiaries was an isolated case or part of a 'larger pattern of behaviour,' Time magazine is reporting. Time suggests that the FBI inquiry has been extended from a relatively narrow look at alleged malpractices by News Corp in America into a more general investigation of whether the company used possibly illegal strong-arm tactics to browbeat rival firms. The allegation of computer hacking was made by the retail advertising company Floorgraphics against the advertising branch of News Corp, News America. In a civil lawsuit against News Corp in 2004, Floorgraphics told a court that its website, protected by password security, had been breached eleven times over four months without authorisation. The source of the alleged hacking was traced back to an IP address registered to News America in Connecticut. Time has obtained a copy of a confidential fax sent in the same year by a major investor in Floorgraphics to News Corp's chief financial officer, David DeVoe. William Berkley wrote: 'We have just discovered evidence that our proprietary and password-protected computer files has been breached by News America.' Berkley accuses the News Corp subsidiary of carrying out 'some sort of corporate espionage' to obtain the password. The CEO of News America was later promoted to be the publisher of the Murdoch newspaper the New York Post. A spokeswoman for News Corp told Time that this was the only incidence of computer hacking that had been brought to the company's attention, and said News America had condemned the act as a violation of its standards.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating claims that a police officer working on the Milly Dowler murder case gave information to the News of the World. Revelations that the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire may have intercepted voicemail messages left by relatives for the thirteen-year-old on behalf of the Sunday tabloid triggered the phone hacking controversy that has shocked Britain and, ultimately, led to the closure of the disgraced one hundred and sixty year old Sunday tabloid. The IPPC has now received 'a voluntary referral' from Surrey Police regarding information that an officer in the force may have supplied the Scum of the World with details relating to the Dowler case. The schoolgirl was murdered by doorman Levi Bellfield in 2002. The commission now intends to run its own independent investigation into the allegations and will write to the solicitor representing the Dowler family to inform them of the development. In a statement, the IPPC said: 'The IPCC has received a voluntary referral from Surrey Police regarding information they received alleging that a Surrey officer gave information to the News of the World in relation to the investigation into Milly Dowler's murder in 2002. A decision has been made that the IPCC will independently investigate. An IPCC deputy senior investigator has been over at Surrey Police this morning to get more information about the case and will be writing to the Dowlers' solicitor at the family's request. Until we have shared further detail with him it would not be appropriate for us to make it public.' The phone hacking scandal not only prompted Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to shut down the Scum of the World but, also, to withdraw its eight billion pound-plus proposed takeover of BSkyB. News Corporation chief executive Murdoch was said to be 'humbled and shaken' as he apologised in person to the family of Milly Dowler last month over the alleged hacking of the schoolgirl's phone. In an equally shocking revelation, it has since emerged that Sara Payne, whose eight-year-old daughter Sarah was murdered in July 2000, has been informed by police that the Sunday tabloid may have hacked her phone.

While Daily Torygraph columnist Peter Oborne's most recent article on the riots The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottomhas been warmly received by those on the left (it equates feral youth with the 'feral rich') the same is not even remotely true for all his colleagues in the right-wing scum commentariat. The Liberal Conspiracy blog has put together what it calls 'a quick list of commentators and their definitive answer to what caused the riots across the UK' featuring all the usual suspects - the likes of the odious Melanie Phillips, Max Hastings, Richard Littlejohn and Toby Young - and their completely worthless views on 'modern-day organic types.'
Meanwhile the Gruniad's Michael White - one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite writers despite a deep-seated loathing of the paper that he works for and all its horribly 'organic' ways, has produced a quite superb think-piece entitled After the riots, the media sort the heroes from the villains which includes the following thought: 'You do not have to be a bleeding heart Guardian liberal to despair at the poverty of imagination involved in retail rioting of the kind we have seen, or a high blood pressure Tory to feel uneasy about a consumer society that allows kids to grow up and feel that their self-worth is measured in terms of trainers and labels. But many people on both sides of tribal politics have countenanced such attitudes – their own and in their kids. So has the media – newspapers, radio, TV and anti-social media, too. As for the villains, the papers are full of emerging details about the people who have been charged. Whereas the Daily Star has focused on the positive – assorted heroes and community stalwarts, law-abiding teenagers and the like – the Sun, always visceral in its instincts, highlights "the lifeguard, postman, hairdresser, teacher, millionaire's daughter, chef and schoolboy, eleven" who have been up before the beak.' See, this is what we need more or - people using their brains, not their fists.

And, on that bombshell, so to yer actual Top Telly Tips:

Friday 19 August
In the latest episode of EastEnders - 8:00 BBC1 - Norman and Pat attend the charity fete in pearly king and queen outfits, but an argument breaks out when Jean turns up similarly attired. Cor blimey. Apples and, indeed, pears. Whitney finally agrees to go on a date with Lee, and soon finds herself falling for his charms - unaware he is hiding a terrifying secret. Tanya receives her biopsy results and Vanessa tries to get closer to Eddie.

A particular favourite of many of those of us who make Top Telly Tips radio slot is The Gadget Show - 8:00 Channel Five - which returns for a thoroughly new series tonight. Ortis Deley and Pollyanna Woodward make a tourism film in Morocco - using both Hollywood-style gear and gizmos available to consumers. Jason Bradbury, presumably hoping that everybody has forgotten the Don't Scare The Hare debacle, reports from June's E3 video game expo in Los Angeles, including news from big-hitters Sony and Nintendo, while Jon Bentley tests folding bikes in Rome and the Goddess-like Suzi Perry presents her top five toothbrushes.

In the first of a two-part documentary, India on Four Wheels - 9:00 BBC2 - Justin Rowlatt and The ONE Show's Anita Rani embark on a motoring odyssey around India to discover the impact the country's booming car industry has had on its billion-plus population. Anita travels west from Delhi to Chennai in a brand new four-by-four to meet the businessmen and celebrities who epitomise the new India, while Rowlatt heads east to Chennai in a Hindustan Ambassador, a vehicle that epitomises the nation's past.

Saturday 20 August
Oh great, is it The X Factor time already? Yes it is, it's back - 8:00 ITV. The massively popular talent show returns, but with a few big changes as Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue are no longer on the judging panel. In their place - Take That's Gary Barlow, former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland and Tulisa Contostavlos from N-Dubz, who join Louis Walsh each week to put this year's contestants through their paces. So, this is obviously a big year for the show - in theory the format is what people watch it for rather than the judges but that's about to be, definitively, put to the test. Dermot O'Dreary, as ever, hosts the auditions in London and Birmingham, as a line-up of solo singers and groups competes to win places at boot camp, designed by Cowell to be 'tougher than ever.' Highlights in the first edition, apparently, include a student who reveals more than just his voice, and a hopeful who dares to confront Tulisa. Will it be as popular as ever or, like Britain's Got Talent earlier in the year, will it lose a part of its audience because Cowell is no longer there? Time, as ever, will tell.

Before that, All Star Family Fortunes is also back - 7:00 ITV. Coronation Street stars Simon Gregson and Sam Aston take part in the game show, teaming up with their relatives to guess the answers to surveys of one hundred people - often one hundred really stupid people - in a bid to reach the final round, where they can win up to thirty thousand smackers for a charrriddeeeee of their choice. Presented by Vernon Kay.

Great Migrations - 8:00 Channel Four - is a new series which should be something of a wet dream for lovers of nature programmes. This looks at the journeys of migrating birds and animals, filmed in more than twenty countries over a three-year period. The opening episode focuses on four of the most remarkable creatures' movements - sperm whales travelling more than a million miles in a lifetime, red crabs overcoming horrific obstacles on a daily basis, monarch butterflies taking four generations to cross a continent and wildebeest that avoid the jaws of ravenous crocodiles. Narrated by Stephen Fry - he gets everywhere!

Inspector Montalbano - 9:00 BBC4 - is the first of a two-part Italian detective drama based on Andrea Camilleri's popular series of books and acquired by BBC4 who are obviously hoping they'll get another cult hit in the same fashion as other European detective thrillers Wallander, The Killing and Spiral. A man is found murdered outside his apartment building one morning, and an elderly couple are reported missing following an excursion to the ancient site of Tindari. Inspector Montalbano begins investigating the two seemingly unrelated cases, but soon discovers they are both linked to a plot involving Sicilian mobsters. Starring Luca Zingaretti.

Sunday 21 August
The Man Who Crossed Hitler - 9:00 BBC2 - is a one-off drama which tells the little-known story of a Jewish lawyer who put Adolf Hitler in the witness box. In the summer of 1931, audacious prosecutor Hans Litten (played by Ed Stoppard) summons rising politician Hitler (one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite actors, Ian Hart) to testify in the trial of a group of Nazi thugs, despite the risk to his own safety and against the advice of those close to him. He aimed to expose the fascist party leader's true character and politics - but it was an ordeal that could not be forgotten and for which Litten paid the ultimate price. Bill Paterson, Anton Lesser, Sarah Smart and Ruth McCabe also star. Looks terrific.

In the latest episode of Britain's Hidden Heritage - 7:00 BBC1 - Paul Martin visits Cragside House in Northumberland, the former home of inventor, arms dealer and patron of the arts William Armstrong. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's great grandfather, Edward Lamb, worked at Armstrong's factory on Scotswood Road (in a floor-sweeping capacity) so there's a bit of person interest here. Charlie Luxton, meanwhile, spends the night in a disused Nineteenth Century prison at Lincoln Castle, Clare Balding explores a ruined abbey in North Yorkshire and Charley Boorman sees the sunken remains of Britain's first submarine.

Strike Back: Project Dawn - 9:00 Sky1 - is a testosterone-snorting war drama, based on the novels by former SAS chap Chris Ryan and starring [spooks]'s Richard Armitage, Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton. Big hard-as-nails Iraq veteran John Porter is kidnapped by an international terrorist group, so the Head of Section Twenty, Colonel Eleanor Grant dispatches Michael Stonebridge and former US Special Forces operative Damien Scott to save their colleague and foil his captors' dastardly and naughty plans for chaos and jiggery-pokery. Or something.

Monday 22 August
When any programme titles itself The Truth About Cheryl Cole - 9:00 Channel Five - it's asking for trouble. This, of course, is a documentary charting the Heaton Horror's rise to fame from her beginnings on a housing estate in Newcastle and featuring an interview, not with Cheryl herself, because she's too busy and this is an 'unofficial' product but, instead, with her voice coach. Yes, that's the general level of access to which they've had for this fiasco. The programme, allegedly, examines the artist's efforts to achieve success in the US - and my, didn't that work out well - and explores her star-studded new neighbourhood in Los Angeles. Whether I'll include much about her sacking, her failed marriage to a arrogant footballer or that time she got done for assault occasioning actual bodily harm when she brutally punched a toilet attendant in the face for looking at her in a funny way, the pre-publicity doesn't mention. I wouldn't bet on it, though.

Tonight's episode of Horizon - 9:00 BBC2 - is called The Nine Months that Made You. This is an exploration of theories pioneered by British scientist Professor David Barker, who believes that the time which people spend in the womb is so profoundly important that it could affect every area of their subsequent development, from health and personality to the lives of their children.

Meanwhile, over on Channel Four there's The Pet Detectives - 8:00 - a documentary following three agencies searching for missing animals as they try to reunite owners with their beloved pets. The teams use police-style work to solve some unusual cases, including the theft and killing of a collection of budgerigars and a street in the West Midlands town of Stourbridge known as The Purr-muda Triangle - where more cats have been reported missing than anywhere else in the UK.

Tuesday 23 August
It's the final episode of The Hour tonight - 9:00 BBC2. Which has been pretty good so far although yer Keith Telly Topping wants to do what he did with The Shadow Line and sit down and watch it all back-to-back. Drama often works far better that way. In this final installment, tensions run high in the newsroom as the team prepares to defy government instruction and broadcast a controversial episode on the Suez crisis, while Freddie is unsure whether his special guest will turn up. As McCain and Douglas keep an eye on proceedings, all their futures hang in the balance.
Harry's Arctic Heroes - 9:00 BBC1 - is the first of a two-part documentary in which Prince Harry joins four disabled Afghanistan veterans, two of them amputees, on a trek to the North Pole. Filmed over a year, the soldiers - Captain Martin Hewitt, Captain Guy Disney, Sergeant Steve Young and Private Jaco van Gass - undertake gruelling training in the UK and Norway, in preparation for the Arctic expedition. Narrated by John Hurt.

The latest of Channel Five's Revealed strand concerns The Great Train Robber's Secret Tapes 8:00. A documentary which allegedly sheds new light on one of Britain's 'most notorious crimes,' using previously unheard interview material to tell the story of Ronnie Biggs' life on the run. Recorded in 1974, while the fugitive was hiding from justice in Rio de Janeiro - and a couple of years before he joined the Sex Pistols - the taped reminiscences are illustrated with dramatic reconstructions of many key events in the biggest blag of the century. Broadcasters Michael Brunson and John Humphrys also give their perspective.

Random - 10:00 Channel Four - is Debbie Tucker Green's adaptation of her play about a family whose ordinary day is shattered by a single event. A couple and their two children go about their morning routines, but when the son is late for school it leads to a tragic event that will leave them all devastated. The story unfolds in a stark studio setting, where Nadine Marshall (reprising her role from the stage production) acts out the inner thoughts of each character, and in the real world, where she and three other actors play the four family members. Also starring Daniel Kaluuya, Jay Byrd and Louis Mahoney.

Wednesday 24 August
Tonight's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1 - concentrates of the former Olympic athlete and Tory MP Lord Sebastian Coe. He looks into his ancestry, beginning with a visit to the site of the former family seat in Cheshire. The trail then leads him to Jamaica, where he uncovers a history of illegitimacy, a philandering sugar planter and slavery. He discovers the first of his ancestors to settle on the island came from New York, so he travels to America to further investigate his roots in Britain's colonial past.

In Wallis Simpson: The Secret Letters - 9:00 Channel Four - the biographer Anne Sebba examines fifteen letters written by the American socialite, who was widely perceived to have lured Edward VIII away from the English throne. The documents, found among a newly discovered cache, were written around the time of the king's abdication in 1936 and indicate that Simpson was actually in love with another man - information that could change the historical profile of the American socialite.

Mount Pleasant - 9:00 Sky1 - is a new comedy-drama set in a Manchester cul-de-sac, starring Sally Lindsay and Daniel Ryan as couple Lisa and Dan, who have numerous people vying for their affections. In the first episode, singleton Jack arrives and makes an impression on Lisa.

Thursday 25 August
There's yet another Magic Jane Espenson episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day tonight - 9:00 BBC1. This one is Immortal Sins. Gwen must fight to protect her family and takes a terrifying journey covering both miles and decades as the long history of The Miracle is revealed. SF thriller, starring John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Sharon Morgan, Nana Visitor and Mekhi Phifer. And, some other people.

If you're still one of the four people in the country still watching Show Me the Funny - 9:00 ITV - which reaches its live final tonight then ... Hello Mrs Manford. The three remaining contenders in the stand-up comedy competition take to the stage at London's Hammersmith Apollo, where they perform one last time before viewers vote to decide which of them receives one hundred thousand smackers, a DVD deal and the chance to headline a nationwide tour. Regular panellists Alan Davies and Kate Copstick give their opinions and are joined by guest judges Bob Mortimer, Ross Noble and Johnny Vegas. Jason Manford hosts. Last in the series. Thankfully.

In the latest episode of Top of the Pops: 1976 - 7:30 BBC4 - Jimmy Savile, OBE, takes a break from Stoke Manderville for the week to introduce an edition of the pop show from 5 August 1976. Hey there, albino, get that small boy off your knee and give us a chart run-down. Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen. Jimmy Savile walks into a faulty time machine. Now then, now then. Do you see? As it happens, 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart' by Elton John and Kiki Dee tops the chart for a third week, complete with that fantastically cheap video. Give them a Fix It badge for that one, James. The show also features performances by Twiggy, Billie Joe Spears, Slik, David Dundas, Sheer Elegance and Johnny Wakelin and the Kinshasa Band, as well as dance troupe Ruby Flipper. Tragically, no Showaddywaddy, though.

And finally there's Coronation Street - 8:30 ITV. Roy and Hayley finish packing Hope's belongings, only to discover Becky has disappeared with the baby, and Tommy is dismayed when Matt Carter asks Tina out on a date. As Kylie drowns her sorrows in town after being sacked from the salon, she sees Audrey with Marcia. Elsewhere, Katy gets her exam results and Chesney worries about paying the bills.

And so to the news: Mark Gatiss has suggested that the forthcoming series of Sherlock will delve deeper into Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and John's (Martin Freeman) friendship. Speaking at the TV panel at Empire Presents ... Big Screen, the writer spoke about the new run of the BBC drama, which is just 'a week and a bit' from completing production. 'Season two is what we're calling The Woman, The Hound and The Fall trilogy,' Gatiss said. 'So there'll be a version of A Scandal in Bohemia, a version of The Hound of the Baskervilles and a version of The Final Problem,' he explained. All of which we knew anyway, Gatiss having previously confirmed that the second series of Sherlock would be based on these three stories in April. He went on to speak more broadly about the series, insisting that it is really about an unlikely friendship between two men. 'It's a rare chance to do the early days of Holmes and Watson's friendship, right from the beginning, so everything you know has not yet formed,' Gatiss said. 'Sherlock's attitude to women and to crime is still forming, so it's much more "plastic." The only heresy [about the show] is that it's modern day, but after that it's one of the most faithful versions there's ever been, because Steven [Moffat] and I just love it. Sherlock Holmes had become all about the hansom cabs and the fog, rather than about the friendship of this unlikely couple, but ours is very much inspired by the Basil Rathbone version.' Filming on Sherlock was recently delayed due to the London riots, with Gatiss tweeting: 'This is a new one on me. Scene incomplete owing to approaching looters. Unbelievable times.'

Sky Living has confirmed that it will not be ordering any more episodes of Most Haunted, a series which, I must admit, I thought they'd cancelled years ago. The show, hosted by Yvette Fielding, examined alleged paranormal activities across the country. Fielding quit the programme last year but Sky Living did not immediately make any decisions about its future. However, the channel has now confirmed in a statement that it will be returning the rights to Most Haunted to production company Antix, run by Fielding and her husband Karl Beattie. 'We have decided not to recommission Most Haunted and will be giving Antix Productions the right to take it to another channel if they wish,' Sky Living said. 'We would like to thank Yvette Fielding and Karl Beattie for all of their hard work and commitment over the years.' The statement continued: 'Like every commercial TV channel, Sky Living is constantly developing new ideas. We recognise our customers' appetite for paranormal programming and have recently aired a series about popular psychic Sally Morgan and original scripted drama Bedlam, which proved to be the channel's most successful commissioned series in its history.' Not that it had much to beat, of course. 'As well as paranormal, the channel will build on other successful genres, from scripted comedy to real-life relationships, which we know our customers also enjoy.'

TNT has ordered a fifth season of crime drama Leverage. The series has seen an unprecedented ratings climb in its current fourth season, leading the network to order a fifteen-episode fifth season for summer 2012. 'While many shows decline in their second, third or fourth seasons, Leverage has defied the odds and continued to climb,' TNT vice president Michael Wright announced. 'More and more viewers are discovering this weekly joy ride through wonderfully complex schemes and con games, all brought to life through smart writing, sharp directing, and a terrific cast.' The series - something of a particular guilty pleasure of yer actual Keith Telly Topping - stars Academy Award winner Timothy Hutton opposite an ensemble cast including the great Gina Bellman, Beth Riesgraf, Christian Kane and Aldis Hodge. 'We're still all best friends, and that just doesn't happen on TV shows,' Kane told News OK recently. 'It's a very tight-knit cast. I mean we are closer than the actual characters on the show.' The fourth season of Leverage has seen guest appearances from Lethal Weapon star Danny Glover and Mad Men actor Michael Gladis.

Channel Five has put up billboards around the UK with the wrong start date for Celebrity Big Brother. In preparation for the reality show's launch on the channel next week, the broadcaster has erected posters with the famous Big Brother eye, the slogan Biggest Brother Ever and the date Wednesday 17 August. However, Celebrity Big Brother will actually start on 18 August. Oops.
Somebody's going to get taken to the woodshed for that.

CBS has started developing a new drama based on the life of Las Vegas sheriff Ralph Lamb. Lamb, who was known as the 'cowboy sheriff,' was in charge of Clark County from 1961 to 1979. He introduced a crime lab, put together a SWAT team and updated the department. Lamb was also known for being determined to beat the Mafia, but has denied rumours that he would order his men to murder criminals. CBS has now begun developing a show set in the 1960s based on Lamb's life, Deadline reports. Nicholas Pileggi, who wrote the screenplays for Goodfellas and Casino, is penning the script for Ralph Lamb. He is also currently thought to be working on a Goodfellas television show. Meanwhile, Walk The Line and Girl, Interrupted director James Mangold has signed up to helm the project. He will also executive produce with his partner Cathy Konrad and Arthur Sarkissian, who has worked on Rush Hour and While You Were Sleeping.

A BBC sound recordist died after inhaling mustard gas twenty seven years ago while reporting on the Iran-Iraq war, a coroner's inquest has confirmed. In 1984, Cyril Roy Benford was on the border between Iran and Iraq for BBC2's Newsnight when an Iranian guard opened a shell containing mustard gas. The seventy eight-year-old died on 16 January 2011. The effects of mustard gas can take up to forty years to prove fatal, the inquest at Wycombe Law Courts in Buckinghamshire was told, reports the Daily Torygraph. Benford served as a BBC sound recordist and cameraman for thirty eight years, and was in Iran in 1984 covering the war with Iraq, which lasted from 1980 to 1988. In a statement made before he died, Benford said that he was on the border at the time of incident with three other BBC colleagues and a toxicologist, who was compiling a report for the UK on the use of chemical weapons in the war. Benford said that while the team was filming an Iranian guard opened the shell which let out the mustard gas, and he was standing closest to it. He added that he had also travelled on an aeroplane journey with another guard who was holding a jar containing mustard gas that was only held in with cotton wool. Home office pathologist William Feganearl noted that Benford had heart disease and leukaemia, but said that these conditions did not cause his death. Feganearl confirmed that he found scarring on Benford's lungs, while an RAF physician said that the damage to the lungs was consistent with mustard gas inhalation. Coroner Richard Hulett noted that the time lapse of twenty to forty years was also consistent with asbestos exposure, which usually results in industrial action. 'The incident of mustard gas deaths in Buckinghamshire up to this point is nil. But asbestos we see a great deal,' he said. The coroner recorded a verdict of industrial disease, because the condition was contracted while Benford was at work. Hulett added: 'Although this is a different and exotic work place - nevertheless, a work place it is.' After the verdict, Bendfor's daughter Susan Benford said: 'I am delighted. The facts just speak for themselves. That is what we needed. That is what we have known for many years.'

A Question Time special on the UK riots was seen by nearly three and a half million viewers on Thursday night, while Sky1's wretched comedy Trollied lost viewers, according to overnight audience data. Question Time, featuring panellists such as Lord Prescott, former police chief Brian Paddock and the Archbishop of York John Sentamu discussing the unrest which has engulfed Britain, averaged 3.49m for BBC1 from 10.45pm, up around one million on the show's usual audience. Torchwood: Miracle Day continued with 4.02m on BBC1, up a couple of hundred thousand on last week's overnight figure and easily beating Single Handed's 3.06m on ITV. Trollied, the thoroughly miserable and unfunny Jane Horrocks-fronted supermarket-set comedy, tumbled to six hundred and ninety thousand viewers on Sky1 from 9pm, down four hundred and sixty thousand on last week's debut episode as viewers realised what an absolute turkey it is.

Channel Four planned both prime time coverage and a raft of new programming as part of an estimated forty five million smackers bid for Formula 1 rights, it has emerged. The public service broadcaster is understood to have bid forty five million quid a year for the sport. The pitch included a ten-point plan, emphasising the benefits of free-to-air coverage. The plan included more prime time exposure and re-runs, with 'no "red button" hideaways' – by showing the sport through traditional linear broadcasting. The pitch highlighted the commercial opportunities for teams 'through sponsorship and ad-funded content. Free from BBC constraints.' C4 also planned to create a wide range of related content to be shown along with the sport. Documentaries, entertainment, the history of the sport using archive footage and factual programming focussing on engineering and mechanics were all mooted types of programming. Education and cross-platform content also formed part of the plan. The network bid for the sport as a means to attract a younger male audience and is understood to be talking to a range of sporting bodies. Despite C4's bid, BBC and Sky have agreed a seven-year deal starting in 2012 that will see the broadcasters sharing the rights.

Skygazers' across parts of the planet have been treated to a celestial display of the Perseid meteor shower. At their most intense, the meteors can be seen at a rate of one per minute, although they will still be visible until 22 August. But the emergence of a full moon has taken the shine off this year's show for some. The spectacle is created when the Earth passes through a field of debris left by the Swift-Tuttle comet. The event was being broadcast live by NASA. 'The Perseids are one of the most reliable meteor showers and normally you can expect to see at least a few tens of meteors each hour if you're observing from a dark site,' explained Robert Massey, deputy executive secretary for the Royal Astronomical Society. 'This is also a great example of a free astronomical spectacle and something you can enjoy without needing any special equipment,' he told BBC News. On Friday, the International Meteor Organization was recording an average of twenty five shooting stars an hour, with the figure set to increase as the the peak period approached.

Robert Robinson, the veteran broadcaster and presenter, has died at the age of eighty three. In a career spanning more than five decades, he presented a wealth of radio and television programmes for the BBC and is best remembered as the wordy, erudite chairman of the popular TV game shows Call My Bluff and Ask the Family as well as long-running radio quiz Brain of Britain and the discussion programme Stop The Week. Robinson also had a stint presenting Radio 4's Today programme. He died in St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, after a long period of ill health. His daughter, Susie Robinson, said: 'He had a very long, productive and successful life and we'll all miss him terribly.' Robinson was born in Liverpool and grew up in South London, the son of a financier. He was, by his own account, a bright but diffident child. In his autobiography Skip All That (1996), which is more relaxed and funnier than his somewhat rococo novels, he blamed his transformation into a junior smart-alec on the highly competitive atmosphere at Raynes Park Grammar School, which he found suited him. He went on to study at Oxford University where he met Josée Richard, the actress to whom he was married for more than forty years. He identified Oxford University as 'the original source of the high anxiety I had become hooked on,' and applied to read English, which he referred to as 'Literae Humaniores' when filling in the application form. He went up to Exeter College, became the editor of Isis and moved in a bookish, liberal set, getting to know Shirley Catlin (later Williams), Peter Parker and Robin Day. After National Service in Africa with the West African Army Corps, and dressing, as he later admitted, 'like a prat' (bowler hat, fancy waistcoats), Robinson got his start in journalism with the Weekly Telegraph, a satellite of the Sheffield Telegraph, published in London. His job involved making up readers' letters which he signed 'with a variety of distinguished names humanised by more humble addresses.' In 1952 he became the television columnist for the Sunday Chronicle, subsequently working for the Sunday Graphic (as a film and theatre columnist), The Sunday Times (radio critic and editor of Atticus) and was film critic on the Sunday Torygraph before developing the interrogation technique that was picked up by later political interviewers. Although he had made his first radio broadcast in 1955, it was BBC Television's early 1960s film review programme Picture Parade that first brought him to the public eye. This led to an even more popular programme, Points of View. Originally a five-minute gap filler before the news, Robinson briskly and amusingly conducted the presentation of viewers' letters about BBC programmes. On 13 November 1965 he was hosting the satirical show BBC3 when Kenneth Tynan said 'fuck' on television for the first time, but even this did little to disturb Robert's sangfroid; as thousands of elderly female viewers presumably reached for the smelling-salts, Robinson disdainfully remarked to Tynan that it was a very easy way of making history. In 1967 it was Robinson who presented the edition of The Look of the Week in which classical musicologist Hans Keller was brought face-to-face with the young Pink Floyd whom he told to turn their racket down. Class. Robinson wrote and presented The Fifties on BBC1 and was the presenter of The Book Programme on BBC2 from 1973 to 1980 and a number of spin-off documentaries, notably B Traven - A Mystery Solved (1979). He wrote and presented several BBC1 documentaries under the title Robinson's Travels, among them The Mormon Trail (1976), Cruising and Indian Journey. In 1986 he wrote and presented The Magic Rectangle, one of the BBC1 documentaries marking the fiftieth anniversary of television. He also presenter the arts programme Open House and the literary quiz Take It Or Leave It. In 1974, his three-year tenure at the Today programme was crowned when he was made Radio Personality of the Year. Robinson's ability to prick political pomposity with his knack of asking awkward questions in the nicest possible way brought him many admirers, but also some outspoken detractors, including one tabloid newspaper, which termed him 'the man who sneers at everything.' He, himself, enjoyed an enduring disrespect for many of the political breed he crossed swords with. 'It's impossible to make the bastards reply to a straight question,' he once memorably said. Bored by what he called the 'sonorous drivel' of politicians, he revelled in the role of quizmaster on such long-running shows as Radio 4's Brain of Britain where, as he said, 'at least you knew it was a game.' It was this 'humble calling' as a gentle quizmaster with a wry sense of humour for which he will be most remembered. Robinson only stood down as chairman of Brain of Britain last year. At his retirement the then-Controller of Radio 4, Mark Damazer, said: 'The brilliant Robert Robinson defined the art of the quiz show host. He presided over Brain Of Britain with sympathy for the contestants, wit and panache.' Robinson's air of smart aloofness, his oracular and anachronistic verbal style and his taste for polished epigrams irritated some viewers and listeners and he was often parodied by comedians. Private Eye used to lampoon Robinson under the nickname 'Smuggins.' In a sketch on the BBC's Not the Nine O'Clock News he was impersonated by Griff Rhys Jones wearing a cricket box over his forehead. Robinson was also the subject of a sketch by Stephen Fry in the second series of A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and Fry still occasionally does an - rather affectionate - impression of Robinson when hosting Qi. Upon hearing of Robert's death Stephen tweeted: 'I've just heard the sad news of the passing of Robert Robinson. Would that it weren't, would that it weren't.' That, of course, is an allusion to Robinson's infamous catchphrase uttered whenever one of his contestants - usually on Call My Bluff - got an answer wrong: 'Ah, would that it were.' His more knobcheese-like detractors were driven to apoplexy by his constant habit of finishing the shows he presented with the words: 'I bid you goodbye.' Yet Robinson always took such criticism in good part, simply stating that he found the single word 'goodbye' lacking in class, and never dissembling on the subject of his combover hairstyle. Indeed, he admitted that the man who came to his house to arrange his coiffure would despairingly mutter: 'I have created a monster' as he packed away his implements. Robert Robinson married Josée in 1958. They had a son and two daughters including the actress Lucy Robinson.

So, I suppose this one's for mother and younger son only. England's cricket team are now, officially, the best in the world after slaughtering India by an innings and two hundred and forty two runs in the third Test at Edgbaston. On Friday, Alastair Cook sent a letter from Birmingham falling just six runs short a triple-century as England racked up their third highest Test total in history to pile further misery on a woeful Indian side. The current world number ones - a side that includes some of the greatest players in the world: Dhoni, Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag, Harbhajan et al - have been hit by a perfect storm over the last three games. Everything seems to have conspired against them, an ageing team with many of their best players terribly out of form or short on match practices (althoug hte latter is no one's fault but their own), they've also been hampered by injuries (to their two best bowlers Harbhajin and Zaheer Khan). But they have looked disinterested and, frankly sorry for themselves as they've been bullied into submission in three success games and lost by massive totals by a confident, exciting, fit and muscular young England side. After batting for more than thirteen hours without offering a single chance, Cook holed out for two hundred and ninety four to prompt Andrew Strauss to declare with England on a mammoth seven hundred and ten for seven wickets. India promptly lost Virender Sehwag for a golden duck for the second time in the match to send the twenty five thousand crowd into raptures. And although Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid prevented any further damage before the close of play on Friday evening, India remained four hundred and fifty one runs behind England and would have to bat for the best part of two days on a turning wicket to prevent the hosts from securing the win that would put them top of the world Test rankings. In fact, by lunch time on Saturday it was all over bar the shouting. Cook's monumental effort was the sixth highest score by an Englishman in tests, and the best since his mentor Graham Gooch's three hundred and thirty three against the same opposition at Lord's in 1990. Cook shared in a stand of two hundred and twenty two runs with Eoin Morgan, with the Dubliner reaching three figures for the second time in Test cricket. It was a partnership high on runs but, on Friday at least, somewhat low on entertainment, with the left-handed duo favouring steady accumulation over flair and slogging. They scored at a fraction over three runs per over - perfectly acceptable in and of itself - but with Cook only finding the boundary twice in the first four hours of play. With India's bowling once again offering little threat and the batsmen content to deal mostly in singles, it took a mid-afternoon powercut to really enliven the crowd. Initially the problem was restricted to the New Stand, but once the floodlights went out, the umpires took the decision to take the players off the field. With two spinners bowling, and two batsmen well set (one of them having scored a double century!), it seemed an absurdly cautious call and was roundly booed by a crowd. When play resumed soon afterwards, Morgan made it to three figures with a single off his one hundred and eighty eight ball. But after adding four more to his total, he slapped part-time spinner Suresh Raina straight to Sehwag at mid-off to give India their first wicket of the day at quarter past three. Morgan's dismissal was quickly followed by those of poor old Ravi Bopara - trapped LBW by Amit Mishra having sat for nearly a full day waiting for his turn to bat - and then Matt Prior, who top-edged a sweep off the same bowler and was well caught by Sachin Tendulkar, running in from long leg. Tim Bresnan upped the scoring rate with some meaty blows as the Yorkshire all rounder reached another Test half-century (his second in succession) either side of another deeply unpopular stoppage for bad light. Bresnan brought up the mark with a huge six over mid-on off Sharma to take England past seven hundred for only the third time in their history - the others being in timeless Tests in 1930 - against the West Indies - and 1938 - famously, scoring over nine hundred against Australia. With Cook nearing three hundred, India set about delaying the declaration by pushing men back to the boundary. And the tactic eventually brought about Cook's downfall as he drove loosely - and probably tiredly - at Sharma and sliced straight to backward point. India made the worst possible start to their second innings when Sehwag nicked an Anderson away-swinger to first slip and there was enough encouragement for the spinners with both Graeme Swann and even occasional bowler Kevin Pietersen getting the ball to turn hugely just before the umpires - for the fourth time in the day - called the players off for bad light half an hour before the close. Cook rejected some rather crass criticism of his batting style. Test Match Special's Geoffrey Boycott felt Cook should have scored quicker to help bring an earlier declaration. Which, coming from Boycott, of all people, is surely one of the funniest examples of hypocrisy in living memory. Cook said: 'It was quite a turgid day with defensive fields, an old ball and some spin. It was hard to accelerate but we managed to grind out seven hundred.' The Essex batsman's career-best innings was the sixth highest for England in Test history. On Saturday, Jimmy Anderson set England on the victory trail by removing Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman inside the first hour in a brilliant spell of controlled, aggressive swing bowling. Further wickets followed until Indian captain MS Dhoni and Praveen Kumar delayed the inevitable with an entertaining partnership of seventy five but Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan mopped up the tail as India were bundled out for just two hundred and forty four. In six innings this series they still have yet to pass three hundred as a team. Or even the two hundred and ninety four that Cook got on his own. England's victory - by an innings and two hundred and forty two runs - gives them an unassailable three-nil lead in the four match Pataudi Trophy series and provides emphatic confirmation of their new status as the best team in the world. India began the day in a hopeless position, and their predicament worsened when Anderson's first ball of the day was angled across Gambhir, caught his outside edge and was snaffled by Graeme Swann stooping low to his left at second slip. Soon afterwards, Dravid played at a full length delivery that moved away off the seam and was caught behind, although replays appeared to show that his bat had hit his foot and not the ball. Interestingly, however, he didn't ask for the decision to be reviewed by the third umpire so he clearly thought he'd hit it himself. Laxman was out to an almost identical delivery, the ball brilliantly angled in to the batsman and moving away off the seam before taking the outside of the blade. Suresh Raina looked to be getting on top of Swann as he carted him for two fours in a row, but England's off-spinner responded by firing down a flatter delivery that trapped the left-hander on his crease. At the other end, Sachin Tendulkar remained unflustered throughout the mayhem, timing the ball to perfection with eight boundaries and raising the prospect of a defiant century. But on forty, disaster struck as the Little Master was run out backing up a Dhoni drive. Swann got his hand to the ball and deflected it onto the stumps, with television replays confirming that the bails were off just before Tendulkar was able to ground his bat. With the crowd - hundreds of them in fancy dress - singing and dancing in the stands, Kumar got into the party mood by smashing Swann into the stands three times for six. He cracked forty runs off just eighteen balls before one slog too many off Broad picked out Ravi Bopara at cover to leave India eight down. Ishant Sharma was LBW to Broad and Tim Bresnan completed the job when last man Sreesanth was caught in the gully. Andrew Strauss and his team united in a joyous huddle in the middle before shaking hands with the entire India team as they left the field. After basking in the glory of third straight thrashing of India, England's minds will turn to inflicting a series whitewash when the fourth Test starts at the Oval on Thursday.

And so to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. It's nice that the cricket's been going so well but, of course, the big news this weekend is the start of the new premiership season. What do you think about it, Sir Noddy? Respect.

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