Sunday, September 18, 2011

Let Me Put You In The Picture, Let Me Show You What I Mean

Television comedy line of the week this week came from a splendidly amusing International episode of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved Qi on Friday night. (Or, alternatively, Qi: XL if you were watching the extended repeat on Saturday instead. If you watched both then ... you're as sad as me.) In a question about the great Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympics, a picture of the Nazi hierarchy was shown on the screen behind the panellist. Alan Davies was drawn to the rather odd sieg-heil that was being performed by Hermann Göring noting that 'that one on the far right' looked, effectively, like he was thumbing the nose at the camera. It was left to David Mitchell, on splendidly spiky form as usual, to casually observe 'actually, I think you'll find they were all on the far-right!'
Loved the audience reaction to Stephen's General Melchett moustache as well.

Celebrity MasterChef viewers have been whinging over the show's new daytime slot. The BBC has moved the cooking reality format, which restarted on Monday Monday, from the centre of primetime to a 2.15pm to 3pm slot on weekdays with two weekly highlight shows on Friday and Saturday evenings. An -anonymous - user of the BBC Points of View message board, echoing one of the show's catchphrases, commented: 'Scheduling does not get stupider than this!' Did you think that up all on your own, mate, or did you have help? One fan wrote on the show's Facebook page: 'Ridiculous scheduling also real lack of info out there as to when it was starting. Stick it back on BBC2 at a proper time please!' Because, as we all know, Facebook and Twitter are now the arbiter of all things and the only place where lazy journalists can actually be bothered to look to get stories. Another Facebook contributor argued: 'Not good, I really enjoy MasterChef but cannot watch it during the day, and the Saturday show is also too early for me to watch.' Oh, well. I'm sure that the BBC are very sorry to learn that their scheduling hasn't catered to you personally, sir or madam. 'Suppose I'll have to use the catch-up, but it is a shame you thought it only deserved to be shown during the day. It's as if you've given up with it.' Having caught one of the daytime episode and the Friday night show, yer actual Keith Telly Topping notes that whilst the show still contains many of the things that make it so watchable, the quality of some of the supposed 'celebrities' this year does undeniably leave something to be desired. Celebrity MasterChef's contestants this year include former Soccer AM anchor Tim Lovejoy, Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark and ex-EastEnders actor Ricky Groves. And they're cream of the crop. Overnight viewing figures this week for the daytime shows have, inevitably, been disappointing. Starting with an audience of 1.1m on Monday, the programme fell to seven hundred and fifty thousand on Thursday, outperformed by ITV's Dickinson's Real Deal. The BBC defended the schedule change. A spokeswoman said: 'The move to daytime allows a greater examination of the celebrities' cooking skills as there will be more hours of Celebrity MasterChef than ever before. The Friday and Saturday evening programmes will ensure that viewers won't miss out on the main event though as they pick up with the three celebrities facing their last terrifying challenges and battling for their place in the semi-final.' Or, in other words, we pay for this show we can show it where we damn-well like, why not show a bit of gratitude that we're broadcasting it at all.

The creator of Downton Abbey has revealed that he is 'in love' with Lady Mary Crawley. Lord Snotty Julian Fellowes, who recently brought back the costume drama after achieving an audience of ten million viewers for the last episode of the first series, said that the character played by Michelle Dockery appeals to him because she is tough and almost 'cold.' When asked if he is in love with Mary, he told the Radio Times: 'Yes. I like strong, good-looking women and there's something about - not coldness, exactly, but there's something about the lack of needing to be liked which, when it's coupled with very good looks and confidence, is, I think, tremendously attractive.' Fellowes also admitted that he 'loves' Bates, saying of the mysterious link between him and the Earl: 'I'm sort of deferring clarifying their shared past because I'm enjoying that. [It will be] more touching than sinister.' He said that there will be lots in store for Bates and Anna, adding: 'The main thing is the war and how war changes them all, even those at home, and they all develop as people and become more self-aware. Unless you have a nuclear bomb go off, there's always an opening [for another series].' Lord Snooty also revealed that in the next season of Downton Abbey, Edith will 'become nicer,' explaining that 'she finds a sort of kindness in herself, as well as a role in life.'

Impressionist and stand-up comedian Alistair McGowan, best known for his Posh and Becks double act with Ronni Ancona, and for being really not very funny at all, is presenting a pilot for a new prime-time ITV sports panel show. McGowan is a self-confessed 'football addict' and was most recently seen on TV as part of the BBC's Wimbledon commentary team. You Cannot Be Serious has been commissioned as a pilot for ITV and will see McGowan returning to his first love - impressions. Inspired by TV Burp the show will mix clips, sketches and McGowan impressions related to the week's sports in a bid to take on the BBC's A Question of Sport and Sky's A League of Their Own. McGowan first came to prominence with Ancona with whom he starred in The Big Impression from 1999 to 2002. He once confessed in an interview to having 'OCD about the game,' studying attendance figures on Ceefax and being unable to read a newspaper from front to back. You Cannot be Serious will be executive produced by comedian Harry Hill. Independent producer Avalon, which is making the show, said it will be play to the strengths of McGowan rather than be a copy of TV Burp. Hill will share executive producing duties with Avalon's Richard Allen-Turner and Jon Thoday. Clyde Holcroft is producing, with Paul Wheeler directing.

The BBC has defended its decision not to move EastEnders to the site of the 2012 Olympics, after London mayor Boris Johnson accused the corporation of 'snobbery' for vetoing a move to the East End. Hang on, can we just clarify this - Old Etonian la-de-dah Boris is accusing someone of snobbery? Ho'kay. Johnson, who had a walk-on part in EastEnders in 2009, revealed on Thursday that he had recruited prime minister David Cameron to try and rescue the deal after Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, informed him last week that the move had foundered. A senior BBC 'insider' blamed 'technical issues' for the failure to do a deal to move the flagship BBC1 soap from Elstree to the Olympic site in Stratford, after twelve months of 'secret' talks with local officials. 'It's sad. It would have been great,' the 'source' said. However, City Hall said that any technical issues had been solved and claimed the deal broke down because of 'BBC snobbery' about a move to the East End. The BBC 'insider' allegedly said that issues with the move included a twenty three foot wall around the proposed site for the EastEnders set, which would have interfered with sight lines. The site will host broadcasting facilities during the 2012 Games. By 2015, thirty per cent of filming time would have been lost because of air traffic from nearby City airport, compared with five per cent at Elstree, the BBC 'source' said. EastEnders broadcasts four nights a week all year round, which means filming is constant and there is no time for delays, they added. The BBC is also understood to have had concerns about privacy, with private homes overlooking the proposed set. The Stratford site, a leasehold, would also have cost the BBC more than Elstree, where the corporation is the freeholder. Johnson told the Evening Standard: 'There was the chance for the BBC to show genuine commitment to the East End – an area it has harvested for audiences for decades. I'm astonished that the boss class don't see the obvious advantages of rooting a popular drama in an area it claims to portray. Perhaps if they seized this opportunity their plots and script lines would reflect the vibrancy and optimism of this critical part of the capital and not the relentless negativity that often comes across.'

Channel Four News has hired the BBC's Liam Dutton to become the bulletin's first dedicated weather presenter. Dutton, a qualified Met Office forecaster, is expected to make his Channel Four News debut in November. The sponsored weather bulletin will follow immediately after Channel Four News, from Monday to Friday, and Dutton will also feature in the main programme from time to time doing weather-related stories. Dutton first joined the BBC Weather Centre as a broadcast assistant straight from university in 2002 and began presenting in early 2003. 'With weather so frequently making headlines at home and abroad, the interest in how and why things are happening is becoming ever greater,' he said. 'I'll be looking to feed our fascination about weather through the power of television, online and social media in a way that's distinctly Channel Four.' Martin Fewell of Channel Four News added: 'Liam is absolutely the right person to lead our weather coverage. He's an expert with years of training and experience – but he's also the kind of personality we think our viewers will want to engage with on a topic we know is close to the heart of modern Britain.'

There will be fireworks in Blackpool this weekend. Good old mad-as-toast Bruno Tonioli, the indefatigable Strictly Come Dancing judge, has described Britain's favourite seaside resort as 'full of pissed-up people falling about the streets,' according to the Daily Lies. The mischief didn't end there. He allegedly goes on: 'The Pleasure Beach is Strictly for The Inbetweeners.'

Frank Skinner has claimed that atheists can be 'as big a threat to humanity as climate change deniers.' In a conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on Friday evening, the Catholic comedian said: 'Atheists we might see as people like those who deny global warming. You might defend their choice to believe that as freedom of speech – but if they are wrong and people are taken in, it could be disastrous for millions of people.' Later in the event - held at Canterbury Cathedral - Skinner added that the world's religions should unite to combat non-belief, saying the beliefs they have in common are far greater than their differences. 'At a time when secularism is a threat to the salvation of millions, believers should get together, find what we have in common, and sell that,' he said. Frank added that it was 'no longer fashionable' to have faith. 'On the comedy circuit, it's incredibly cool to be an atheist. I’ve just been to the Edinburgh Fringe and even if it was nothing to do with anything else they were saying, most comics would take three or four minutes to explain they were atheists, just to tick the box of "cool comic." What you need for that is skinny jeans, hair like a chrysanthemum and to be an atheist.' Turning to Doctor Rowan Williams, he added: 'You need to sort that out. It's bad that atheism has got to be a cool position.' Skinner added that atheists took an aloof intellectual standpoint and 'looked down at' the wisdom of believers. 'It really gets on my nerves that atheists is all about sitting on leather chairs in gentlemen's clubs with Dawkins and Bertrand Russell while I sit reading novels with Cliff Richard. I think we're stuck with that.' He added that his friend and former flatmate David Baddiel could never understand his faith, and would ask: 'Doesn't it ever worry you that everyone else who believes in what you believe is an idiot.' Skinner said that his response was to ask: 'Doesn't that bother you at Chelsea games?' The comedian said he had doubts about his own belief, but said that was the definition of faith. 'I have lots of arguments about religion,' he said. 'Most of my conversations are with atheists who want to know how can anyone with any kind of brain believe in a God in the Twenty First Century. The thing is, I’' not sure. I see myself as a man of doubt. Doubt is at the centre of being human. I wonder about fundamentalists who don't have doubt – or atheists who don't have doubt. There are days when I think I'm wrong. I think it's okay to think that.' Doctor Williams agreed, saying: 'The opposite of faith is not doubt but certitude.' Skinner said that he read The God Delusion as it was important to hear all the arguments. 'When I held it in my hands I worried that once I read it I might not believe in God any more,' he said, before admitting: 'There were a couple of moments when I thought, "that's a good point."' But his faith, he noted, remained intact. He told the Archbishop religious people had given up too much ground to the rationalists. He said: 'There's too much apologising – and I'm afraid the English Anglicans are bad at this – for the magic in religion, making concessions on the virgin birth or the resurrection. Don't give in to them!' To applause from the audience, he said: 'If you believe in God all bets are off. The Red Sea can part. There's a temptation to give a bit of ground to rationality. But if you believe in God, why shouldn't there be angels?' He said he didn't see his personal faith as simply a comfort, but a challenge that made him a better person. 'If it's [just] like a big woolly jumper, it can't be that important, can it? I don't want religion to be a handrail, I want it to be a precarious walk with no handrail.' Skinner also urged priests and vicars to improve their sermons, which he said were too often uninspiring, and their delivery. Admitting he could be a 'tough crowd' when in church, he said he wished more could use oratorial skills and stick to one point rather than superficially touching on many. And, perhaps echoing the training of any comedian, he wished congregations would give feedback to help the preachers become better public speakers. He said: 'People come to church out of a sense of duty, so maybe preachers don't have to try hard enough.' Skinner was brought up Catholic, but he also spoke of how he left the church in teenage rebellion at the age of seventeen, frustrated by the dogma, tradition and authoritarianism he thought had nothing to do with belief. He returned after about eleven years 'in the wilderness' with a renewed sense of faith. He also insisted his profane stage act was not incompatible with his beliefs. 'I've always thought that Jesus and his disciples were thirteen blokes hanging around together, travelling, getting food wherever they could – there must have been lots of swearing and ribald conversation. What I'm looking for here is a vindication of my entire life,' he joked. However, Skinner admitted there was not much humour in the Bible: 'There's not one example of what I would call a good gag from Jesus. I think that would have brought more people in, made him more human.' Williams agreed that 'laugher is not obviously around in the Bible,' adding: 'Jesus has an extraordinary gift for words, but it's not thigh-slapping. It's wit, it's satire sometimes, and sometimes there's an undermining of what you would have expected, so it's shocking in a way.' Skinner added: 'I can think of only one laugh in the Bible. When Sarah, I think it is, is old and told she's going to gave a baby she does this sort of bitter laugh. And God takes exception to it.' Later in the ninety-minute conversation, he compared the plurality of world's religions to football, where fans all loved the game but blindly followed their own particular team. 'They all gave some sort of allegiance to his great game, but it's compartmentalised by tribalism,' he said. 'In the Eighties people would be clubbing each other because they had different colours on, but it's all about this brilliant game.' In a lighter moment predicting the apocalyptic end of the world, Skinner called the ITV game show Red Or Black? the beginning of the end. 'Red or black, that's Lucifer's colours,' he said. 'I'm wondering if Ant is short for Antichrist and Dec for December, the dark end of days. In one round they had to decide on red or black by pulling feathers from an angel. How much symbolism do you need?'

There's a very good interview with Lord Patten by the Gruniad's Rachel Cooke which you can read here. Two bits I particularly enjoyed: 'Six months on, though, and Patten has gone native. When we meet at the Trust's offices in the West End – where, thrillingly, you can also see a display of original figures from Trumpton, including Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub – he finds it hard to stop talking about all the marvellous television he has been watching. "I've been extending my cultural horizons," he says. "I've watched The Hour and Page Eight, and an extremely good two-parter called Field of Blood, which was spectacularly well-acted. Over the weekend I watched three episodes of the Danish series The Killing, and I think it's a reasonable aspiration of the BBC to make programmes as good as that. I watched The Crimson Petal and the White. I've watched Sherlock. I think Wallander is fantastic. I've watched a couple of really classy programmes on the war in Afghanistan on BBC3." On and on he goes, until he has the advantage even of me, a telly obsessive. "I've watched things I would never have seen otherwise. I've watched The ONE Show." And, later: 'In July, Patten – already on the road to Damascus, it now appears – gave a lecture to the Royal Television Society in which he said that the BBC needed to start being "less defensive." I was pleased by this but I wondered, too, how it might be possible in a world in which it is every politician's favourite punchbag (and the left – think Alastair Campbell – is just as bad as the right). He smiles. "I don't believe they really hate it, because whenever it suggests it might stop doing something, they all shout: No! Look, at the risk of sounding sanctimonious, I think the BBC is there to do good. First of all, by providing space for a national conversation. Second, there's a great remark of Adlai Stevenson, that the average man and woman is a great deal better than average – and that should be like 'Blackpool' through a stick of rock at the BBC. Never underestimate people's tastes or intellectual capacity. I'm reading a book by Jonathan Rose called The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes, and it's a reminder that we've always taken the view that if you give people access to great books, lovely paintings and marvellous music, it makes them more civilised human beings. That's a big part of what I feel. I think it's amazing that at three minutes past nine of a Thursday morning, two million people tune in to hear Melvyn Bragg talk about quantum physics [on In Our Time]. It could only happen at the BBC."'

The X Factor had an overnight audience of 10.8m on Saturday night. Doctor Who was the BBC's highest performer with 5.2m for The God Complex.
That'll go a lot higher on timeshifts. Casualty also had a pretty decent figure with 4.5m overnights. The other really interesting rating from Saturday (well, apart from Qi: XL's one and a half million) was Big Brother dropping below a million punters for the first time since Channel Five revived it.
Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Gruniad, has said that the newspaper will 'resist' demands from the Metropolitan Police to disclose its confidential sources. Which is, of course, wholly right and proper - journalists should never be forced to reveal sources if they don't wish to - although it has to be said, the thought of oily little Rusbrindger getting jailed for contempt and banged up with all the murderers and the rapists and the people who nick stuff from Tescos is, undeniably, a thought-provoking one. The authorities are reportedly seeking a court order under the Official Secrets Act to force the newspaper to reveal the identity of its news sources for several stories about the ongoing phone hacking scandal. Rusbridger said in the Gruniad: 'We shall resist this extraordinary demand to the utmost.' They have an important ally in Tommy Watson MP (power to the people!) who added: 'It is an outrageous abuse and completely unacceptable that, having failed to investigate serious wrongdoing at the News of the World for more than a decade, the police should now be trying to move against the Guardian.' He continued: 'It was the Guardian who first exposed this scandal.' Watson, of course, is a member of the influential culture and media select committee currently investigating the phone hacking scandal and, along with the Gruniad, and his colleagues Chris Bryant and Paul Farrelly has done more than anyone else to keep this story in the public eye when nobody wanted to know about it. The Metropolitan Police will reportedly go to a judge at the Old Bailey on 23 September in its bid to discover the source of several stories, including that relating to 'the interception of the telephone of Milly Dowler.' The application has been authorised by Detective-Superintendent Mark Mitchell of Scotland Yard's professional standards unit. It is claimed by the Gruniad that the action marks an 'unprecedented' use of the Act. The paper also notes - as it has made clear several times in the past - that its reporters did not pay any police officers nor 'tip off' suspects about to be arrested. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet argued that the aim to use the Official Secrets Act in this manner is a 'disgraceful attempt' to get around the 2007 European court judgement regarding the protection of sources. Earlier this month, Gruniad journalist Amelia Hill was questioned by police investigating alleged leaks from the Operation Weeting investigation into hacking at the Scum of the World.

Debutant Jonny Bairstow ruined Rahul Dravid's final one-day international as England chased a reduced target of two hundred and forty one to wrap up a three-nil series win over India on Friday. Bairstow smashed three sixes in his twenty one-ball forty one not out, while Ravi Bopara chipped in with an equally quick-fire thirty seven as England won by six wickets. Earlier, Dravid had amassed sixty nine, his eighty third one-day half century, in a one hundred and seventy-run partnership with Virat Kohli (one hundred and seven) as India ended their miserable summer tour of England without a single win to their name in four test matches, a Twenty/20 international and five ODIs. Their record was lost eight, one tied and one no-result. Graeme Swann had dismissed both Dravid and Kohli during his fine spell of three for thirty four in nine excellent overs but Mahendra Dhoni's swashbuckling fifty off twenty six balls lifted India to a score of three hundred and four for six. England's target was initially reduced to a stiff two hundred and seventy off forty overs and opener Craig Kieswetter raced to twenty one but he was adjudged leg before to Vinay Kumar before more rain reduced the chase to two hundred and forty one off thirty four overs. Cook, who was moving along at a run a ball, reached his half century with a delightful reverse sweep, before being inexplicably dropped by Dravid at short fine leg. However, the skipper fell next delivery, deceived by a slower straight ball from Kohli, to leave England one hundred and six for two. Jonathan Trott, who had earlier hit his first one-day international six off Munaf Patel, registered his second off Ravindra Jadeja while Ian Bell also clouted two maximums as they took twenty one off an over from the slow left-arm bowler. But Bell was eventually caught on the long-off boundary, ending his lightning twenty six and the fifty four-run partnership, and one hundred and sixty for three became one hundred and sixty six for four as Trott miscued an attempted cut off Jadeja to RP Singh at point to depart for a classy sixty three. That brought Bairstow to the crease and the young Yorkshireman hit his fifth ball in international cricket for a six and belted another into the River Taff as he and Bopara turned the game on its head. England needed seventy five runs off fifty deliveries when the duo came together, but their clean hitting saw England home with six wickets and ten balls to spare. The result was a harsh end to Dravid's one-day career, which has spanned three hundred and forty four games and seen him score ten thousand eight hundred and eighty nine runs at an average of 39.16. The right-hander was given a tremendous reception when he walked out to the crease at fifty two for one after Ajinkya Rahane, who had earlier been dropped by Samit Patel at third man, was caught in the same position by Steven Finn for twenty six. Swann then removed Parthiv Patel in his first over, caught by Tim Bresnan at mid-off, but Dravid and Kohli pushed and nurdled singles to both sides of the crease as India looked to build a solid platform. Kohli accelerated to his fifty first and was well on his way to his century when Dravid stroked a single to bring up his own half-century, eliciting rapturous applause from all corners of the Cardiff ground. However, he was dropped on fifty one by Jade Dernbach who failed to hold on to a sharp return catch off his own bowling. Kohli then smashed sixteen off one Samit Patel over, hitting consecutive boundaries to the leg-side and lofting a straight six, to go to ninety six. The twenty two-year-old completed his sixth one-day hundred by working the ball to square leg off Swann for one, but India's joy was short-lived as Dravid was beaten by the flight of the next ball and bowled for sixty nine. England's players rushed to congratulate the batsman, who was also given a tremendous standing ovation by the crowd as he left the field. Kohli followed soon after, in bizarre fashion. He turned a Swann delivery to square leg and as he set of for a run, he stepped on his wicket and was given out hit wicket, to leave India on two hundred and thirty six for four and two fresh batsman for the batting powerplay. However, Suresh Raina, who, along with Mahendra Dhoni, scored one hundred and ten in the final ten overs of the India innings in the fourth one-day international at Lord's, set about England's bowlers. Tim Bresnan was hit for twenty nine in two overs, Raina blasting a huge six in the first, while Dhoni lofted a straight six off the back foot, smeared a low full toss to the cover boundary and pulled a six to cow-corner in his next. The final over saw Jade Dernbach bowl three wides as he tried to counter Dhoni's aggressive hitting, but the Indian wicketkeeper, who was dropped by Patel, hit one four and a six before digging out a yorker to reach his fifty off twenty six balls.

Aston Villa and yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Newcastle United extended their unbeaten starts to the season to five games after an entertaining draw at Villa Park on Saturday. Both teams remain unbeaten this season but that is one of the few positives which Alex McLeish can have taken from a match in which his team were outplayed for long periods. Gabriel Agbonlahor's third goal of the season was one of the other plus points, but it was cancelled out by a Leon Best equaliser and The Magpies came close to scoring a winner several times. Villa had to endure a testing start as the visitors — tidy and ambitious – exerted early pressure. One methodical move resulted in Yohan Cabaye finding space for a shot from the edge of the area in the sixth minute, but his swerving effort flew just wide. A Ryan Taylor free-kick from the edge of the area in the twelfth minute failed to trouble Shay Given but moments later the goalkeeper had to backpedal frantically tip a shot-cum-cross from Gabriel Obertan over the bar. The home side took the lead from their first purposeful attack. Barry Bannan, operating primarily on the right of midfield, switched to the left and curled a cross towards the penalty spot. Fabricio Coloccini blocked Agbonlahor's first-time shot but the ball then fell kindly for the striker, who rolled it gratefully into the net from six yards past Tim Krul. Despite Newcastle's domination, Darren Bent should have put Villa two up in the twenty sixth minute but steered the ball wide from close range after being set up by Stiliyan Petrov. As the first half ebbed away Villa began to retreat ever more. Given had to make a good save from Steven Taylor. Then Jonás Gutiérrez snatched badly at a shot from fifteen yards out after being teed-up by Danny Simpson. Just before the break a close-range attempt on the turn by Demba Ba was deflected over. Villa made a better start to the second period. Agbonlahor could have extended their lead in the forty seventh minute but fired fractionally wide from fifteen yards. But Newcastle quickly re-established control and their equaliser arrived in the fifty seventh minute. The impressive Cheik Tioté delivered an inswinging cross from the left that eluded Richard Dunne. Given blocked Best's close-range header with his feet but the striker slammed the rebound into the roof of the net. Newcastle continued to dominate but a mistake by Steven Taylor in the seventieth minute presented Bent with a chance to score against he run of play. However, his lob over the onrushing goalkeeper lacked power and Taylor was able to recover and clear. Cabaye nearly gave the visitors the victory with a swirling twenty-yard volley in the dying minutes but Given produced a superb save. The Frenchman had another chance moments later from a cross by substitute Sylvain Marveaux but he stabbed wide from an acute angle.

Former Belgian footballer Jonathan de Falco has become a gay porn actor. In something of a surprise career move, the former Racing Mechelen and Oud-Heverlee Leuven midfielder has swapped the pitch for porn. Performing under the name Stany Falcone the former footballer has appeared in several adult productions. Jonathan left football after sustaining an injury but the switch to a specialist movie career may surprise some especially as, at one time, he had a girlfriend. However, he told the Antwerp Gazette he hid his real sexuality while he was a footballer because 'The football world is not ready for gay players. There is too much prejudice and generally low tolerance. Since I was twenty I have been in gay circles, but when I played soccer, nobody noticed anything. If my orientation would have been known, there would have undoubtedly problems.'

Brazil has begun its countdown for the 2014 World Cup, one thousand days before it hosts the football tournament. President Dilma Rousseff launched the event at a stadium in Belo Horizonte alongside the footballing legend Pele, who is Brazil's World Cup ambassador. Rousseff promised the new stadiums and other infrastructure required would be ready on time, despite major difficulties and delays. The tournament will kick off on 12 June 2014. Before then, Brazil must build or upgrade twelve stadiums. Many of them are behind schedule and over budget. At some, construction workers have been on strike - including the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro where the final will be played and the Mineirao ground in Belo Horizonte where President Rousseff started the countdown. Building work on the new Itaquerao stadium in Sao Paulo - which is hoping to host the opening game - only began in May. Brazil must also deliver huge infrastructure developments such as roads and airport terminals so that fans can move between the twelve venues spread across the huge country. Much of that transport infrastructure is anyway badly needed to meet the demands of Brazil's booming economy and expanding middle class. 'Investing in infrastructure is a way of saying no to the international crisis affecting countries in the Eurozone and the US,' Rousseff said. The 2014 World Cup will be the first in South America since Argentina hosted the tournament in 1978, and the first in Brazil since 1950. Correspondents say that most Brazilians are confident they will make a success of hosting the tournament - after all, they have already won the World Cup five times. Rio de Janeiro is also due to host the Olympic Games in 2016. The two tournaments are being seen as statements of Brazil's emergence as a rising global economic power of the Twenty First Century, much as the 2008 Beijing Olympics served as a calling card for China's confident new role on the global stage.

Very impressive Bob Dylan '66 T-shirt that Joey Barton was wearing on Goals on Sunday, I thought!

A restaurant in Saudi Arabia is charging customers if they fail to finish their meals. The severity of the fine depends on how much food is left over. Marmar Restaurant in Dammam started the initiative to counter food wastage and discourage extravagant orders, reports Gulf News. Restaurant owner Fahad Al Anezi told local media: 'There are many clients who make large orders to impress the people around them and boost their social prestige.' He also claimed that the idea has been well-received.

The Beatles showed their support for the US civil rights movement and black artists by refusing to play in front of segregated audiences, a contract shows. The document, which is to be auctioned next week, relates a 1965 concert at the Cow Palace in California. Signed by manager Brian Epstein, it specifies that The Beatles 'not be required to perform in front of a segregated audience.' The agreement also guarantees the band payment of forty thousand dollars. Other requirements include a special drumming platform for Ringo Starr and the provision of one hundred and fifty uniformed police officers for protection. Sadly, as usual, the security arrangements were not perfect. The band played two sets, a matinee and an evening performance, at the venue on 31 August 1965. At the latter, some of the seventeen thousand-strong crowd of screaming nubiles broke through security barriers and rushed the stage. The show was halted, and The Beatles were forced to wait backstage while order was restored with the handing out of some furious beatings. They eventually finished their twelve-song set with 'Help!' followed by its B-side, 'I'm Down.' The Beatles had previously taken a public stand on civil rights in 1964, when they refused to perform at a segregated concert at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida. City officials relented, allowing the stadium to be integrated, and the band took to the stage. 'We never play to segregated audiences and we aren't going to start now,' said alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon. 'I'd sooner lose our appearance money.' The struggle for racial equality in America later inspired Paul McCartney to write 'Blackbird.' The contract for The Beatles' 1965 show is expected to raise up to five thousand dollars when it goes up for sale by a specialist memorabilia auctioneer in Los Angeles on 20 September.
For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day Thursday night's Record Player event has meant yer actual Keith Telly Topping has been listening to very little else over the last few days. On the eighth day, God created Madchester.
And He saw that it was 'nice one, good one, top!'
For about two years they were the best band on the planet. Then, of course, tragically, they got into the 'difficult second album' phase! Still, even that had one masterpiece on it. Even if they had turned into Led Zeppelin by that stage!

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