Wednesday, October 26, 2011

If You Find Your Own Solution Then That's All Right With Me

Today, dear blog reader, in a change from tradition we start with yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. For why, I hear you ask, Keith Telly Topping, for why? Well, today is yer actual Keith Telly Topping's birthday - big surprise for those who thought it was 25 December, no doubt, but there you go. It was forty eight years ago today that Mama Telly Topping was taken into in Newcastle General Hospital and Daddy Telly Topping almost managed to miss the birth as he'd decided to go and watch his beloved (though even then unsellable) Magpies play against Northampton Town at St James. They lost, 3-2. Things haven't improved much since. Personally, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is not all that big on birthday celebration. I mean, I used to be, once upon a time, when I was all young and reckless. But, to be honest these days, I suppose you could look at it as just one day closer to my inevitable and largely unwelcomed death. Oh, for God sake, cheer up y'miserable bastards, I'm only joking! Anyway, this Pretty Things single from 1970 seems a rather fitting way to celebrate the day.
And so to the news: The final of BBC1's popular entertainment series Strictly Come Dancing and the Sports Personality of the Year Awards ceremony could be hit by strike action over planned cuts at the BBC. Corporation staff are being balloted over proposals to axe two thousand jobs and change staff redundancy rights and payments for unpredictable working. If they vote for industrial action - and that seems jolly likely - then 'screens could go black' during two of the highlights of the BBC's December schedule according to various tabloid stories. The cuts were outlined earlier this month by director general Mark Thompson under his Delivering Quality First initiative and have been greeted with anger by many staff, particularly in regional TV and radio programming and BBC News. DQF is aiming to make total savings of six hundred and seventy million smackers a year following last year's licence fee settlement which froze the BBC licence fee at £145.50 until 2017 and saw the corporation take on extra funding responsibilities including the BBC World Service and S4C. But there has been much vocal opposition from staff to changes, with local broadcasting personnel launching a campaign against what some call the corporation's 'Destroy Quality Forever' proposals. There was a backlash recently at a series of workshops about so-called unpredictability allowances held for staff by the BBC's 'transformation team.' Many were angry at a prediction that there will be a twenty one per cent fall in salary for more junior staff over the next five years if the BBC freezes the unpredictability allowance. The allowance compensates staff if they have to change their shifts at short notice, which often happens to journalists working in BBC News. The BBC Trust has opened a public consultation about the DQF proposals - and, once again, this blogger urges all licence fee payers to use this opportunity to voice your views (whatever they may be) on a range of BBC-related subjects. The BBC, after all, is yours and you might never get this chance again - but unions are angry that some elements may be implemented before the end of the consultation. In response, the three major BBC unions, BECTU, the National Union of Journalists and UNITE are balloting members within the next week. The ballots are due to close on 24 November and if a yes vote is returned then a twenty four-hour strike could happen as early as the beginning of December. Commenting on the decision to run a formal ballot, BECTU general secretary Gerry Morrissey said: 'DQF threatens fundamental and far-reaching changes for all BBC staff; union officials are not prepared to negotiate with a gun to our heads. Without a change to the BBC's position, we are under no illusions that a vote for strike action will mark the start of a programme of industrial action which could affect the highlights of the BBC's autumn/winter schedule including the Strictly Come Dancing finals and the Sports Personality of the Year Awards.' BBC News programmes were last hit by strike action in July when staff walked out over compulsory redundancies at the World Service and BBC Monitoring.

Mind you, that's not to say that all BBC local radio is perfect - although, in many ways, lots of those imperfections are why so many people love it. Somebody's started collecting a few examples at an audioboo site called BBCDQF. Take, for instance, the question of the hour 'what is rimming?' Or, indeed, BBC Kent - shit?

'The idea at the fluffy little heart of Death In Paradise was tricky to get your head around. An English police detective gets posted to an idyllic Caribbean island in the line of duty – he’s been sent to solve a murder – and spends all his time fretting about his wheelie bins and wishing he was back in drizzly Croydon. To any rational mind, he was the one who needed locking up,' wrote the Metro's reviewer, Keith Watson about the first episode of the BBC's new detective drama. 'Credit to Ben Miller, then, for putting some kind of believable flesh on the bones of the erratically constructed Richard Poole, a buttoned-up Brit of the old school. Poole was a curious combination of stuffy eccentric and ace crime solver, and his personality was as conflicted as Death In Paradise itself.' Personally, yer actual Keith Telly Topping rather enjoyed it. As pilot episodes go it certainly had some flaws, but the setting and the appealing, rather laid-back nature of the project, hit a nerve. 'One minute it was a jaunty Malibu advert, 'Sun Is Shining' blasting along the beach;' continued Watson. 'The next it was shifting gear to a Poirot-style denouement, Poole cunningly nabbing the unlikely guilty party. This might have worked as a period piece, a throwback to the fading glory days of the British Empire. But Death In Paradise appeared to be set in something approximating the present day, which made its portrayal of the happy-go-lucky locals on the fictional island of Sainte-Marie feel borderline patronising. Of course, for a large part the joke was on Poole, the Brit sweating it out in his suit and tie. But he was the one who solved the crime: well, he would, wouldn’t he? It was no different to the treatment meted out to the mildly dotty Cornish folk in Doc Martin but the idea of parachuting a policeman into a colonial setting because the locals weren't up to the job left a slightly sour taste. It's an easy watch, blessed with scenery you want to sail away in. But despite some engaging performances, notably Miller and Lenora Crichlow as an ambitious young officer, Death In Paradise is a bit of a rum cocktail.'

The opening episode of Death In Paradise had an overnight audience of 5.75m, over three million more than any other channel in the timeslot. ITV, meanwhile, had a dreadful night in terms of overnight ratings once Emmerdale had finished at half past seven. Mayday Mayday pulled in just 2.68m. At eight o'clock the wretch Jeremy Kyle vehicle, High Stakes, had a pitiful audience of 1.96m and was beaten not only by BBC1's Holby City (5.64m) but, also by BBC2's James May's Man Lab (2.36m). It was a similar story at nine o'clock as Death in Paradise comprehensively fisted 71 Degrees North (2.23m). Satisfyingly, this predictable and mindless reality format full of non-entities masquerading as somebody important, was also beaten by BBC2's excellent documentary Code-Breakers: Bletchley Park's Secret Heroes (2.24m).

A spokeswoman for Kelly Rowland has denied various tabloid reports that the singer has quit The X Factor. Several reports on Monday suggested that the former Destiny's Child singer left the UK heading to Los Angeles after a variety of on-air arguments at the weekend. A spokeswoman for the singer told the Mirra that her trip to LA is 'a business trip' and had been 'planned months in advance.' ITV made no comment on the story. Not even a denial, which is unusual. Last weekend Rowland got into a spat with fellow judges Louis Walsh and Tulisa Contostavlos over song choices for 'rock week.' The two judges also accused one of Rowland'ss acts - Misha Bryan - of 'bullying' some of their acts backstage. On the Sunday show, Wlash withdrew the allegations and apologised for his comments.

Romola Garai has dropped a few hints about possible historical events the second series of The Hour may cover. The first series of the BBC2 drama series, set in a 1956 newsroom, mostly revolved around the Suez Canal crisis though the uprising in Hungary against Soviet control was also mentioned. Garai, who played producer Bel Rowley, has hinted at some of the other big events of the 1950s the series could cover. 'It will feature Sputnik possibly and maybe the Notting Hill riots. It'll be about a year further on in time with a whole load of new exciting developments on a world stage. And more nice dresses.' The first series of The Hour also starred Anna Chancellor, Ben Whisaw and Dominic West. It opened with nearly three million viewers although it did lose ratings across its run. Critical reaction to the drama was mixed with creator Abi Morgan admitting some historical errors within the drama - especially with some of the phrases used by the characters.

The Sunday Mirra has lost its bid to stop Kylie Minogue's French ex-boyfriend Olivier Martinez suing the newspaper in France for alleged breach of privacy. European judges ruled that Martinez could seek damages in any EU member state where the online story was accessible. Judges in France will also next month decide whether the Scum of the World breached the privacy of Max Mosley. Both rulings could have far-reaching implications for the British press. In 2008 the Sunday Mirra website published a story that Martinez, an actor, had re-united with ex-girlfriend Kylie Minogue, a story he believed infringed his right to privacy. Martinez launched legal action against Mirra Group Newspapers alleging interference with his private life and infringement of his right to his image. MGN lawyers had argued the connection between the online publication of the information in the UK and the alleged damage in France was 'insufficiently close.' But on Tuesday, Judges at the European Court of Justice ruled that the placing of content on a website was different from 'the regional distribution of printed matter' because the online material 'can be consulted by an indefinite number of Internet users worldwide.' The EU judges ruled that the court best placed to assess the potential impact on an individual's 'personality rights' might be the court where the individual had his 'centre of interests' or 'habitual residence.' That court would have 'jurisdiction in respect of all damage caused within the territory of the EU,' they said. However, if appellants chose to 'bring an action before the courts of each member state in the territory of which the online content is or has been accessible' any compensation awarded by national courts could only relate to damage caused in their own jurisdictions, they said. The BBC's Paris correspondent, Christian Fraser, says that in a sense their ruling is already about to be tested. In November, former motorsport world governing body chief Max Mosley will discover whether he has won a battle against the Scum of the World in Paris over an article the now-defunct, disgraced and disgraceful newspaper published about his sexual practices in 2008. Mosley has already won a privacy battle against the Scum of the World in the British courts, but brought a separate action because copies of the newspaper and the video of him at a sadomasochistic orgy were circulated in France.

The BBC has announced 'an agreement' over the future and funding of Welsh-language broadcaster S4C until 2017. The agreement will protect the editorial and managerial independence of S4C, while also allowing the BBC Trust to keep it accountable for all licence fee cash spent. This concludes talks between the S4C, the BBC Trust and the UK government after last year's licence fee settlement, which established that the corporation would take over a significant proportion of its funding from 2013. BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten said that the agreement was 'good news for the Welsh-speaking audience.' The measures include that the BBC will have 'a voice' in setting S4C's objectives, but will not be able to interfere with the broadcaster's day-to-day running. There will be regular meetings between S4C and BBC Wales to increase co-operation and cut costs, and any savings will remain with S4C. The broadcaster will also get an independent board made up only of S4C executives. On Monday, it was announced that the Trust had informed S4C that it must find similar savings to BBC Wales when it starts being funded by the licence fee. S4C's allocation is to drop from £76.3m in 2013-14 to £74.5m in 2016-17 as part of the new funding relationship. It currently receives around ten hours per week of programming from the BBC, including the soap opera Pobol y Cwm, worth about twenty three million smackers a year. That is expected to fall to about twenty million quid by 2013. In a statement, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that the agreement 'will protect the editorial and managerial independence of S4C, while safeguarding appropriate accountability to the BBC Trust for licence fee funding spent by the service.' Lord Patten added: 'This is good news for the Welsh-speaking audience. Our agreement safeguards S4C's editorial independence while ensuring effective oversight of licence fee funds. It will also forge a closer working relationship between BBC Wales and S4C, which will see savings reinvested in quality programming that viewers expect.' Huw Jones, the new chairman of the S4C Authority, said that the agreement is a 'significant step forward' for the channel, which follows 'detailed and protracted talks between the three parties.' He added: 'This agreement will safeguard the Welsh language services provided by S4C for the foreseeable future. It will allow S4C to maintain its editorial and managerial independence, while providing accountability to the BBC Trust for income received from the licence fee, and to DCMS for its part of S4C's funding. The funding formula which the BBC Trust has offered for 2015 to 2017, and which the S4C Authority has accepted, while challenging, will provide stability for S4C and the production sector in a difficult financial climate as we identify and deliver efficiencies and build a new partnership with the BBC.'
Former EastEnders actress Jill Halfpenny is joining the cast of popular ITV drama Wild at Heart as Ed Lynch's estranged ex-wife. The thirty six-year-old actress will appear as the 'flirty' Fiona Lynch in the next series of the ITV drama. She said in a statement: 'I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the cast of Wild at Heart in Africa. 'Fiona Lynch is certainly a fun and feisty character and will no doubt cause quite a few headaches for Ed and Danny. I can't wait!' Robert Bathurst, best known for his recurring role as widower Sir Anthony Strallan, was cast as Fiona's husband Ed Lynch in July earlier this year. Gateshead-born Halfpenny has previously starred in EastEnders as Kate Mitchell and Waterloo Road as Izzie Redpath. She also played Rebecca Hopkins in Coronation Street from 1999–2000 and was also the second winner of Strictly Come Dancing in 2004.

Fresh Meat and Beaver Falls have been renewed by Channel Four. Both of the comedies ('alleged' in the case of the former) will return for a second series, the broadcaster announced this week. Fresh Meat, which stars the odious and wretched Jack Whitehall and Joe Thomas, focuses on a group of university students living together. The show has been written by Peep Show authors Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong and has been well-received - by glakes - since it premiered on Channel Four last month. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping thinks it stinks of stale and sour rottenness, personally. Meanwhile, the E4 comedy Beaver Falls - which stars John Dagleish and follows British teens working at an American summer camp - has also been recommissioned. 'I am delighted that our strong series output has been recognised with a double recommission,' said Channel Four's head of drama Camilla Campbell. 'Our series continue to reach the heart of the sixteen to thirty four audience, and consistently bring loyal viewers to Channel Four and E4.' In other words, 'they're very popular with students' as though that was a good thing. Beaver Falls is due to return next summer while Fresh Meat is currently expected to be back for its second series late next year.

Emmerdale's Declan Macey is in for a terrible shock next month as he discovers that his 'daughter' Mia has died, reports have revealed. Declan, played by Jason Merrells, receives the bombshell news in a fortnight's time as he is told that Mia has been killed in a car accident. The ruthless businessman is then immediately faced with a dilemma over whether to tell Jai Sharma - Mia's biological father - what has happened. Jai (Chris Bisson) does eventually find out about his daughter's passing, but it is currently unclear whether it is Declan who breaks the news. Emmerdale viewers saw Mia's final scenes at the end of August as Declan sent her away from the village after discovering that she was not his biological daughter. Upcoming episodes see Declan's girlfriend Katie Sugden (Sammy Winward) left concerned by his refusal to have any contact with Mia. However, it is thought that her death comes just as Declan has finally agreed to let Mia pay a visit. Mia was portrayed by actress Sapphire Elia, whose departure from Emmerdale was announced in May.

The BBC is to end the 'historic mismatch' between its TV and radio football coverage by axing the second commentator's role on Radio 5Live. It has long been a quirk of the BBC that it sends two commentators to cover a game on 5Live but only one when it is being broadcast on TV. The playing field will be levelled at the start of the 2014 football season when the station drops the second commentator as part of plans to save almost five million quid from 5Live's budget. Radio 5Live 'insiders' described the use of two commentators as 'an anachronism.' But it remains to be seen how the change will be greeted by the station's line-up of big name commentators including Alan Green, John Murray and Conor McNamara. 'There is no reason why one person cannot commentate for the whole game,' said a 5Live 'source'. 'It's a historic thing – the way the BBC has always done it – but it is also expensive, especially if the game is coming from Moscow.' 5Live has used two commentators – they currently swap over in the middle of each half alongside a summariser who covers the entire match – since it began broadcasting in 1990. Dual commentators were also used before that when the BBC's live football coverage was broadcast on Radio 2. Previous BBC management attempts to axe the second commentator's role met with furious resistance from inside the corporation, but the scale of the latest round of cost cutting meant change has become inevitable. An extra commentator was thought to 'add extra texture and objectivity' to its coverage but has come to be regarded as an expensive indulgence. As part of the savings being made across the corporation, 5Live is having to cut its content budget by seven and a half per cent – or £4.7m – over the next five years. The DQF proposals, published earlier this month, said 5Live would maintain sport output at 'approximately current levels' but would 'reduce the cost of sports presentation including using smaller teams at many events.' The corporation will also have less money to spend on sports rights. 5Live already broadcasts fewer live football matches than it once did, having lost a third of its Premier League commentaries to rival stations TalkSport and Absolute Radio. 5Live also broadcasts live UEFA Champions League and Europa League games, as well as England internationals and the European Championships and World Cup. Both TalkSport and Absolute Radio use only one commentator, alongside a match summariser. 5Live is currently in the process of moving from its London home to the BBC's new northern headquarters in Salford. A number of programmes, including Richard Bacon's afternoon show and drivetime, already broadcast from BBC North. The breakfast programme is due to switch next month.

A Morrisons TV advert has been banned after complaints that it aimed to get children to pester their parents to shop at the supermarket chain to win a holiday to Disneyland. Morrisons' Disney Magical Moments TV campaign showed a series of unhappy children who only cheered up when a trip to the supermarket to get trading cards was offered. A shot in-store showed children opening packs of cards in an attempt to find a gold card and potentially win a trip to Disneyland Paris. The Advertising Standards Authority received three complaints that the advert was 'irresponsible' as it was 'targeting children' and encouraging them to hunt out Walt Disney cards to win a holiday. Morrisons rejected the allegations, stating that the advert did no such thing and ran during school term time when children should not have seen it, and on the weekend the 'vast majority' of airings were 'between programmes intended for adults.' Clearcast, the body responsible for vetting adverts before they run on TV, said the advert showed 'showed parents cheering up their children by taking them on the weekly shopping trip.' The ASA rejected Morrisons' claim, pointing out that the advert was scheduled to run on several children's TV channels. The watchdog said the collectable cards and the enticement of a trip would 'hold a strong appeal amongst children.' Images such as children eagerly grabbing the packet from their parents, looking overjoyed at winning and pestering a parent to get up early to go to Morrisons added to the impression. 'In that context, we considered that the ad depicted the opportunity to collect Disney cards and to win a trip to Disneyland Paris as something that would be highly desirable to children,' the ASA. 'We were therefore concerned that the advert could encourage children to ask their parents or guardians to visit Morrisons in order to obtain the Disney cards and the chance to win a holiday to Disneyland Paris.' The ASA banned the advert for breaching the advertising code in relation to responsible marketing and targeting children. In March the ASA banned a TV campaign run by the Sun, featuring former footballer and former TV pundit Ian Wright, after complaints it 'directly exhorted' children to buy the newspaper.

The autobiography of Doctor Who actress Elisabeth Sladen is to be published posthumously next month, six months after her death from cancer, aged sixty three. The memoir, described as 'a warm and witty celebration,' covers her years on the popular BBC family SF drama as well as other aspects of her distinguished career. David Tennant has written a foreword for the book, published by Aurum Press on 7 November. Sladen first appeared as Doctor Who's companion Sarah Jane Smith in 1973. Having acted alongside two Doctors - Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker - she left the series in 1976 but continued to play Sarah Jane in anniversary specials and radio plays. The Liverpool-born actress reprised her role in the revived Doctor Who in 2006, going on to star in its CBBC spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures. Aurum Press said her autobiography - originally slated for an April release - was being published now 'with the support and participation of Elisabeth's family.' In addition to her time on Doctor Who, the book covers her humble beginnings in post-war Liverpool, her theatrical career and her lesser-known appearances on Coronation Street and Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em.

FIFA's ethics committee has opened proceedings against ten more Caribbean football officials, relating to the cash-for-votes scandal. Four members of the Caribbean Football Union were banned on 14 October. The officials will have their cases heard in mid-November, world football's governing body said in a statement. They have been charged with breaching rules on ethics in the wake of the corruption scandal that saw Mohamed bin Hammam banned for life. In July, the ethics committee ruled that Bin Hammam had made or offered cash gifts of forty thousand dollars to each of the twenty five CFU chiefs at a special meeting in Trinidad on 10 and 11 May. In June, the odious Jack Warner quit as FIFA vice-president and head of the CFU after he was charged with bribery. He claimed there was a FIFA conspiracy against Caribbean football. The CFU presidential election will be held in Jamaica next month and will see Jamaican Ralph Anthony James going up against Harold Taylor of Trinidad & Tobago.

Morrissey's long and bitter libel battle against NME magazine over a controversial 'racism interview' is to be heard before a jury next year, the high court has ruled. 'So jury you've heard every word but before you decide/won't you look into those "mother-me" eyes...' And all that. The former Smiths frontman was granted his wish for the libel case to be heard before a jury at a pre-trial hearing against Conor McNicholas, the former NME editor, and the magazine's publisher, IPC Media, at London's high court on Wednesday. The judgment means that Morrissey will finally have his day in court to 'clear my name' over racism accusations in the NME article which, he claims, have dogged him for years. In a written judgment, Mr Justice Tugendhat said: 'Overall, in my judgment a proper balance between the Article Ten right of freedom of expression of [NME magazine] and Mr Morrissey's right to the protection of his individual reputation requires, in the circumstances of this case, that the action be permitted to proceed.' Morrissey's libel case against the publisher will be the first to be heard before a jury for more than two years. 'In 2007 the NME viciously attacked me and labelled me a racist and a hypocrite. Last week they sought to avoid facing me in court to settle the matter once and for all,' Morrissey said in a statement issued after Wednesday's ruling. 'I am delighted that the NME's attempt to stifle my claim was unsuccessful and that as a result I will be able to use the very public forum of the high court in London to clear my name, loud and clear for all to hear.' An NME spokeswoman said: 'NME recently sought to strike out Morrissey's claim on grounds of a lengthy delay. After almost four years, we are glad that the matter will now proceed to trial and we will finally get the opportunity to bring this matter to a close.' McNicholas and IPC Media lost their bid to strike out Morrissey's claim. Tugendhat said Morrissey's explanation of why it had taken four years to bring the claim to court was 'credible.' Morrissey described in a witness statement how he had been left financially crippled by an acrimonious fallout with his manager, Merck Mercuriadis, in May 2008 which left the singer owing money to both creditors and debtors. Tugendhat described the 'imputation' from the NME magazine articles as 'a very serious one.' He added that the four-year delay, between publication of the interview and the eventual trial, was not so great as to prejudice a fair trial. McNicholas said in his witness statement that he was 'very concerned' about the prospect of having to recall editorial judgments made in 2008. Tugendhat said the case was one that might be 'susceptible to resolution' before it reaches a jury trial, but it remains to be seen whether Morrissey will now wait for his day in court. The high court trial is expected to begin in mid 2012. Morrissey has claimed NME 'deliberately twisted' his words to make him appear racist. The racism row between NME and Morrissey stretches back almost two decades, after the magazine accused the singer in 1992 of 'flirting with disaster' and racist imagery after he performed draped in a union flag at a Finsbury Park concert. In the 2007 interview, Morrissey was quoted as saying that 'the gates of England are flooded. The country's been thrown away.' Asked by the interviewer whether he would return to live in Britain, Morrissey is quoted as saying: 'With the issue of immigration, it's very difficult because, although I don't have anything against people from other countries, the higher the influx into England the more the British identity disappears.' The trial is expected to consider a tranche of two hundred and fifty e-mails between McNicholas, his then deputy editor Krissi Murison-Hodge, the interviewer Tim Jonze and Mercuriadis, sent both before and after the interview had been published.

A man dialled 999 earlier this month to report a UFO in Canterbury before calling back to admit that it was in fact the moon. The Hertfordshire police posted the audio of both phonecalls on YouTube yesterday via its official channel. The caller reported that there was 'an enormous light blazing' and hovering over his house. An officer logged the incident before the man called for a second time two minutes later. 'I made a mistake,' he admitted. 'I thought I saw something really strange, but I didn't. You won't believe this. It's the moon.' The police explained that they had made the contents of the call public to 'serve as a timely reminder before Halloween that making a bogus call can stop important 999 calls from getting through. Worse still, it can divert valuable police resources away from handling genuine emergencies,' the constabulary added.

So, I know we've already had Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day but - purely because I like the cut of yer jib, dear blog reader - here's Keith Telly Topping's Extra Special Birthday 45 of the Day. All the way from Reykjavik, here's The Sugarcubes. I love that video. Björk looks about twelve on it!
It's also great because it's just about the only Sugarcubes song that doesn't feature bloody Einer wailing like a foghorn all over it.

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