Thursday, October 06, 2011

J'y Pense Et Puis J'oublie, C'est La Vie!

The BBC is to cut up to two thousand jobs from its workforce of about eighteen thousand (so, that's one in nine if you're not a maths expert) as it struggles to meet the demands of a twenty per cent cut in is spending over the next five years, due to the government-imposed freeze on the licence fee. The broadcaster will not close any specific services, despite scare-stories in the press about threats to the future of the channels BBC2 and BBC4 as well as some radio stations. Director general Mark Thompson outlined to staff the results of a nine-month consultation process - branded Delivering Quality First - on Thursday morning. Launching DQF in January, the director general said that 'tough decisions' would be required. And, indeed, that's exactly what we got. Thompson warned of 'significant job losses,' as he began speaking about the proposals and later revealed a figure of approximately two thousand jobs would go and that he could not rule out non-voluntary redundancies. Key points in the plan included: Radio 4's underlying programme budget would be unaffected and there will be only a very small reduction (around three per cent) in BBC1's budget; recently announced extra investment in childrens' programming is to be protected; there will be a small reduction in the budget and scope of BBC News and a much larger - fifteen per cent - reduction in the sport budget; there will be a reduction in entertainment and overseas acquisitions, an elimination of BBC2's daytime budget and a 'reduced spend' in off-peak programming across the BBC. All of which means that you can expect to see a lot more of this when you tune in over the next few years.
Thompson noted that the BBC would not be closing any local radio stations but would expect 'some sharing of content' between them although what for, exactly, this sharing will take remains unclear. The plans will also mean the BBC completely pulling out of its west London base. The iconic 'donut' Television Centre is already up for sale, but now the neighbouring White City site will also be sold. Thompson has dismissed the idea of shutting down any of the BBC's core services. 'The danger of closing a service is you face losing audiences critical to the BBC,' he said. Thompson said that about one thousand more staff will move to Salford over the next ten years, including relocating all of BBC3 there by 2016. On radio, there will be greater sharing of news bulletins across networks with Radio 5Live, which has recently been expanding its entertainment programmes, refocused on a 'core output of news and sport.' Radio 3's lunchtime original drama, live music and concerts will be cut, and the BBC's orchestras and singers will be 'reviewed.' The Proms, however, will not be affected. To the delight of Tories everywhere. In local radio the focus will be on on 'peaktime' programmes and more syndicated programmes across neighbouring stations in the afternoons and evenings. BBC1's Sunday lunchtime strand, The Politics Show, will be axed and replaced by a weekend version of The Daily Politics. Regional current affairs show Inside Out will survive but will be shared across wider regions. The number of repeats on BBC1 and Radio 4 will increase by one percentage point, while BBC2's entire daytime schedule outside of lunchtime will consist of repeats. BBC3 will move to the new BBC North base in Salford, as the BBC prepares to vacate its headquarters in West London, including Television Centre and White City. There will be reductions in medium-wave transmissions for local radio in England where coverage replicates FM. There will also be no reinvestment in long wave, which will lead to the end of Radio 4 on LW in the long term - expect outrage from Test Match Special fans with immediate effect. The BBC News Channel will focus on breaking news, with less coverage of arts, culture and science. Material from the nations and English regions will be repeated during times of lower demand. Speaking ahead of Thompson, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten explained how the Trust will consult licence fee payers on the plans. The public will have until the end of the year to respond. A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: 'We welcome that the BBC is thinking hard about what it does and where it should focus in future. We are committed to an independent, strong and successful BBC that is the cornerstone of British broadcasting.' In January, Thompson said that the BBC faced the challenge of finding twenty per cent savings over the four years to April 2017. This figure incorporates the sixteen per cent drop in revenue from the licence fee, and an attempt to claw back a further four per cent of current expenditure to re-invest in new content and digital developments. Outlining exactly where the four per cent was to be reinvested, Thompson said on Thursday: 'We want to find more money for drama and comedy for BBC1.' He also said that more money would be available for factual programming on BBC1 and BBC4. In 2010's government spending review, the BBC licence fee was frozen at £145.50 until 2016-17. That licence agreement brought with it new financial obligations, including the World Service, which is currently funded by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This funding comes to an end in April 2014 as the BBC World Service transfers wholly to television licence fee funding. In a Hardtalk interview last month, Lord Patten said the Trust was 'in talks' with senior executives about how they could 'accommodate the BBC' to the new budget. 'But, for heaven's sake, we're talking about the BBC running for the next five years on three and a half billion pounds a year. Plus the income it can raise from its commercial activities,' he said. 'Now we should be able to run a damn good public broadcaster on three-and-a-half billion a year.' He said the BBC would focus on its 'core and most valuable services' such as children, drama, news and factual programmes. Unions have attacked news of the job cuts. Gerry Morrissey, general secretary of the technicians' union BECTU, said the BBC's proposals should have been called 'destroying quality first. They are destroying jobs, and destroying the BBC,' he said. In other reaction, the Gruniad's media editor Dan Sabbagh said that aspects of the cutbacks are 'troubling,' notably what happens in three or four years' time when the BBC negotiates its next licence fee deal with the government. 'If Thompson is right, and there is not much fat left to cut, then the next time around there is a stark choice. Freeze the licence fee then, and a channel or an entire type of coverage - such as sport - will have to go,' he wrote. 'For those who believe in the organisation, respect its quality, integrity and contribution to public life, the prospect of another squeeze is disturbing. Thompson, or his successors, can't fight off inflation for ever - but this time around he has done what he can.' Media analyst Steve Hewlett said that the public will be upset about the reduction of certain BBC services, but they will be relieved that it was 'not as bad as it could have been. The government were afraid that having forced the BBC into a licence fee standstill until 2017, any service closures would rebound on them,' he told BBC News. 'There will be all sorts of things that some viewers, listeners and users will notice and they're not going to be desperately happy about that. There were lots of things that were hung out there as kind of big "harem scarem" options which they have managed to avoid, but in public terms they'll be pleased if we all go away saying, "Well it's not as bad as it could have been."'

So, it's not worst case scenario but it's really not very far off. As a licence fee payer, I think it stinks. Of course, predictably, the hateful bigoted lice-with-an-agenda at the Daily Scum Mail were crowing their hearts out ('the BBC cut down to size'). Some of the DQF proposals do seem relatively sensible given the stark task in hand (binning BBC2 daytime, for one example). But some of them seem catastrophically stupid - particularly the cutting back on BBC Local Radio, arguably the last proper bastion of the BBC's public service broadcasting remit in this country. And, yet again, the bulk of the savings will come from the staff being left behind to make the programmes and run the services. The vast majority of the BBC's eighteen thousand staff are not getting paid hundred of thousands of quid - unlike Mark Thompson or Chris Patten, of example. They are, on the other hand, talented, intelligent, hard working people who are committed to the ideals of public service broadcasting and to doing what the BBC's Royal Charter instructs them to do. Educate, inform and entertain the licence fee payers. And once again it's the staff that are first on the politically-motivated funeral pyre that the Scum Mail and their scum ilk are so sodding delighted about. Two thousand more redundancies - yeah, that's real cause for celebration, that is. Talk about being screwed with your pants on. What I find most distasteful about this whole thing, however, is the fact that they've completely let the vile and odious rascal Hunt off the hook. The BBC knew that if they threatened to close a service - let's say for the sake of argument Radio 1, or BBC 4 - then the public would be horrifed and vocal in their disapproval and that would be directed squarely at the lack of culture secretary. So, instead, they've chosen the 'anything for an easy life,' cowardice card. Well played. Oh, and without wishing to get too party political about this (because I trust Labour about as far as I can comfortably spit when it comes to the BBC as well) but if you happened to vote in a Liberal Democrat MP at the last election, I'd suggest you have a word with him or her at their next MPs surgery. And ask them to point out, exactly, where in their manifesto at the last election it said anything about buggering the BBC for sport. Because that's what the government that they are a part of has done. There are aspects of DQF this blogger does support - as a licence fee payer. The cutting back on the sports budget for one. And, unlike many of those who support that, I say that as a huge sport fan. Yes, the Formula 1 deal with Sky (which I think was a masterstroke, frankly) annoyed a few loud-mouthed individuals whereas by pulling out of some of Formula 1 - and keeping at least half of the race of free-to-view - the BBC effectively saved enough money to keep the whole of BBC 4 running. Sports events, sadly, have priced themselves out of the market over the last few years. If it's a choice between ten F1 races (which, I admit, I both watch and enjoy) or a quarter of BBC1's drama budget then, frankly, there's no choice to be made. But, there's some shocking little details hidden away in DQF. All of BBC Birmingham's factual production is being moved to Bristol. So that's Coast, Countryfile, the lot. BBC3 and BBC4 have also been given a hearty slap in the mush. Instead of being distinctive in their own right they will be, effectively, feeder channels for BBC1 and BBC2. The huge irony here is that just at the moment when he, himself, is at his most wounded Rupert Murdoch and his grubby spawn have finally won the war and the BBC is going to be a shadow of its former self. Make no mistake, this is a wretched, bad day for broadcasting in this country and, indeed, worldwide. Piece by tiny piece we are losing chunks of my beloved BBC. Your beloved BBC, dear blog reader. You know, that thing you - in theory - own. At times like this I'm reminded of what Bob Hoskins says qat the end of The Long Good Friday - 'what a diabolical fucking liberty!'
Still, it's not all bad news. Just in case you didn't know, House is back!
And there was another bloody good episode of CSI this week. See, not all bad news.

Just one final word about BBC local radio since it's the area of broadcasting that I freelance in. Local radio as noted above, does exactly what the BBC's Royal Charter says it should do - educate, inform and entertain the licence fee payers. And, bonus, it does so on a local level reflecting specific local tastes. The second that's gone - even by a small degree - there's no point in having it you might as well have a kind of super-regional 5Live (which was, apparently, one of the early suggestions to DQF, and one of the first to be thrown out). Local radio is easy to take the piss out of - we've all got Alan Partridge in our head when we even hear the words - but it's something that is unique to the BBC and which should be cherished and nurtured. And, not for nothing, but to those who say it's a niche market and only listened to by pensioners, BBC local radio has about eight million listeners every week. That's more than the weekly audiences for 6Music, Radio 3 and BBC4 put together.

Jeremy Clarkson and his Top Gear co-presenters have, reportedly, 'been mobbed' while filming the popular motoring show's Christmas special in India, according to the Daily Lies. 'Not because he's already insulted an entire subcontinent' quotes the hippie Communist lice-scum at the Gruniad Morning Star - rather disappointedly - but instead because, apparently, Jezza is 'hailed as "a God" in India.' The paper, quotes a local taxi driver as saying: 'The happiness of meeting my God has not sunk in yet. I can't believe I met him and spoke to him for over an hour. We discussed cars and he was happy to know I know so much about them.' Sharp. 'And they say never to meet your idol' continues the Gruniad's sarky columnist who appears to be in love with the sound of his own voice and seems to think he's hilariously funny. He's not, incidentally. Just very sad. Although, one imagines, his mother's very proud of him. And so are Bill Oddie and Lenin.

Jeremy Irons is to play Henry IV in a new BBC2 adaptation that will form part of a Shakespeare season being made in collaboration with Oscar-winning film-maker Sam Mendes. Irons will feature alongside Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal and Simon Russell Beale as Falstaff in Henry IV. Hiddleston will then take the lead role in Henry V, which along with Richard II forms part of the BBC cycle of Shakespeare's history plays to be broadcast in 2012. Henry IV will be directed by Sir Richard Eyre, the former director of the National Theatre, with Thea Sharrock taking directing duties on Henry V, which goes into production later this year. Henry IV is due to begin filming in January. Richard II wrapped in July, with Ben Whishaw taking the lead role in a cast that also included Rory Kinnear, Patrick Stewart, David Suchet, Clémence Poésy and Lindsay Duncan. The history plays have not been adapted by the corporation for TV since 1978 and 1979, during the BBC Television Shakespeare project, which brought the playwright's entire body of theatre work to screen over a seven year period. Mendes is executive producing the Shakespeare project with Pippa Harris, of Neal Street Productions, and NBC Universal International's Gareth Neame. The BBC2 Shakespeare films are being co-produced by Neal Street, NBC Universal International and US public service broadcaster WNET. Henry V has been adapted by Ben Power, National Theatre associate director. The films were commissioned by Ben Stephenson, the BBC's drama controller, and BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow, and form part of the BBC's Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival programming.

Comedian Laurence Clark is to be the subject of a new BBC1 documentary about being a disabled parent. Former Doctor Who actor David Tennant has just recorded his narration for the fifty-minute film, provisionally titled Disabled Parents: Are You Having A Laugh? and scheduled for broadcast in February. The film follows Laurence and his wife, Adele, as they prepare for the birth of their second child. Both have cerebral palsy, and six years ago, when they had their first son, Tom, they were criticised by doctors for being irresponsible. For their second child, Adele was determined to have a natural birth – even though both her and Laurence have their condition because of their own difficult births. IWC Media, which is producing the documentary, said: 'In this film, Laurence, Tom and Adele lay bare the joys and hurdles of disabled parenting. As if they didn't have enough to deal with, just four weeks after Adele's due date, Laurence is set to appear at the Edinburgh Fringe. Will Laurence be able to balance family life with his passion for comedy?'

The BBC's head of global news has called on the UK government to rebuke Iran after relatives of ten of the corporation's staff were arrested or intimidated following a documentary about the country's supreme leader. Peter Horrocks claimed on Wednesday that Iran was responsible for a 'dramatic increase in anti-BBC rhetoric' - just like the Daily Scum Mail, in fact - and that attempts to intimidate the corporation had reached 'new levels' since mid-September, when the BBC broadcast a documentary on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In a post on the BBC's Editors blog, Horrocks said that Tehran had intensified its blocking of the corporation's Persian TV channel, and that relatives and friends of ten members of staff had been arrested. 'Iranian police and officials have been arresting, questioning and intimidating the relatives of BBC staff. We believe that the relatives and friends of around ten BBC staff have been treated this way,' said Horrocks. 'Passports have been confiscated, homes searched and threats made. The relatives have been told to tell the BBC staff to stop appearing on air, to return to Iran, or to secretly provide information on the BBC to the Iranian authorities.' A further six independent documentary-makers whose films appeared on BBC Persian TV have also been arrested in Iran, Horrocks said. None of these people had been commissioned or were employed by the BBC. He added: 'These actions and threats against the BBC have been accompanied by a dramatic increase in anti-BBC rhetoric. Iranian officials have claimed that BBC staff are employees of MI6, that named staff have been involved in crimes, including sexual crimes, and that BBC Persian is inciting designated terror groups to attack Iran.' Iran has intermittently blocked the BBC's Persian TV since the disputed presidential election in 2009. Horrocks said that hundreds of Iranian viewers had sent the BBC messages of support after Tehran's jamming of Persian TV had 'intensified' in the past fortnight. Horrocks said: 'The BBC calls on the Iranian government to repudiate the actions of its officials. And we request the British and other governments take all necessary means to deter the Iranian government from all these attempts to undermine free media.' A Foreign Office spokeswoman said the government 'condemns utterly' pressure on the BBC from Iran. And, indeed, all pressure on the BBC - except when it comes in the form of things said the vile and odious rascal Hunt. of course. The FCO continued that it has directly raised the issue with Iranian authorities. The FCO said in a statement: 'The blocking of BBC Persian signals and arbitrary arrest of documentary makers not directly connected to the BBC by the Iranian regime should also be condemned. This action follows on from the arrests of scores of film-makers, artists and writers as part of a widespread crackdown on freedom of expression in Iran over the past two years. We will work with the EU to end the unacceptable situation of electronic interference and the lack of a right to freedom of expression.'

Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell has reportedly been arrested on suspicion of a sexual offence involving a girl. The forty six-year-old, who plays the character of Kevin Webster in the soap, was arrested at his home in Hale, Greater Manchester on 30 September, police said. Le Vell was released on bail until 16 November pending further inquiries. Police said the arrest followed a report of 'an historical offence' made to them on 29 September.

Steve Jobs, the co-founder and former chief executive of US technology giant Apple, has died at the age of fifty six. Apple said his 'brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.' Jobs announced he was suffering from pancreatic cancer in 2004. US President Barack Obama said that with his death, the world had 'lost a visionary. Steve was among the greatest of American innovators - brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it,' said Obama. Microsoft boss Bill Gates said Jobs' 'profound impact' on the world of technology would 'be felt for many generations to come.' Gates added: 'For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it's been an insanely great honour. I will miss Steve immensely.' New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that 'America lost a genius who will be remembered with Edison and Einstein, and whose ideas will shape the world for generations to come.'
The father of Josie Russell, the girl who survived a hammer attack in which her mother and sister were killed, is among a raft of new claimants suing News International for alleged phone hacking, bringing the total to more than sixty. Thirteen new legal writs, from claimants including Sarah's law campaigner Sara Payne and 7/7 survivor Paul Dadge, were issued against Rupert Murdoch's company on Monday, which followed twenty four the week before. Payne campaigned with the Scum of the World to change the law so that parents could obtain access to information about paedophiles following the murder of her eight-year-old daughter, Sarah. Another writ was in the name of Paul Dadge, the man whose image was published across the world after he was photographed helping victims of the 7/7 tube bombings. There were also writs from the singer Dannii Minogue, Paul Burrell, Princess Diana's former butler and Shaun Russell, whose daughter Josie survived a hammer attack in which her mother and sister were killed in 1996. The Gruniad Morning Star claim that according to 'people familiar with the situation,' the sudden flurry of writs occurred because of a judicial cut-off point for initial claims. It is thought the rash of lawsuits has been triggered by a deadline set by Mr Justice Vos to consider claims ahead of a January trial of a few test cases to determine how much News International should pay in damages to five of the victims. Among the high-profile names in the sixty three writs are the former Downing Street communications chief Alastair Campbell and politicians, including John Prescott, Simon Hughes, Denis MacShane, Chris Bryant, Mark Oaten, Tessa Jowell and George Galloway. There are several actors in the list, such as Jude Law and Sadie Frost, and TV personalities including Steve Coogan and Ulrika Jonsson. There are also writs in the names of George Best's son, Calum, footballer Ashley Cole, rugby player Gavin Henson and jockey Kieren Fallon. Some of the writs involve more than one person. For example, Charlotte Church is joined in her lawsuit by her mother, Maria, and stepfather James. The overwhelming majority of the writs have been issued jointly against News Group Newspapers, the News International subsidiary that published the now defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World and Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked under contract for the Sunday tabloid. However, one – by singer Cornelia Crisan – also names the former Scum of the World chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck, and another of the paper's former reporters as defendants in her claim. It is the first phone-hacking lawsuit to directly target Thurlbeck. He was arrested and bailed in April for alleged phone hacking but has not been charged. He is currently suing News International for unfair dismissal. Thurlbeck said: 'As I said last week, the truth will out. But this will be in the law courts and at a public tribunal.' The number and range of the claims has taken some legal observers by surprise. One 'source' allegedly said that it suggests News International's twenty million pounds contingency fund to deal with legal claims will 'not be anywhere near enough' to cover the final total. One of the lawyers acting for some of the hacking victims, Mark Lewis, told Bloomberg News: 'So far, fewer than five per cent of the victims of Glenn Mulcaire have been notified. He was just one agent used by one paper. When the final tally takes place, we will see thousands of claims and more than one paper.' Lewis said that, as the number of claimants grows, estimates that Murdoch's company would need 'at least one hundred million smackers' to settle such claims looks like 'a serious underestimate.' His logic is based on the fact that only two hundred people have been identified from the four thousand names said to be on documents that were seized from Mulcaire's house in 2006, when he was arrested along with the Scum of the World's former royal editor Clive Goodman. Both Mulcaire and Goodman were jailed for phone-hacking in early 2007. About half of those initially identified have launched legal actions. So, if the same proportion of the full four thousand were to sue, then News International's liability, in terms of damages plus legal costs would be 'colossal.' News International has already offered to pay one of Lewis's clients, the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, three million quid. Media lawyer Niri Shan, of Taylor Wessing, said that victims who file claims before next year's trial could benefit because 'there is a level of uncertainty about what the court will award' in January. He added: 'News Corp may overpay to get rid of claimants.'

Meanwhile, the nation's new moral compass Hugh Grant has revealed that he warned George Osborne that the Conservative Party had made a 'catastrophic mistake' in hiring former Scum of the World editor Andy Coulson. Grant has become the figurehead for the campaign to get justice against alleged phone hacking and press intrusion at the defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid and its owner News International. Speaking to the Gruniad at the Conservative Party conference, the actor said that he had an argument with Osborne before the general election last year over the decision to appoint Coulson as the Tory party's director of communications. 'I happened to meet George Osborne at a dinner party before the election,' said Grant. 'I said, "I tell you what, you have made a catastrophic mistake in hiring Coulson." And he pooh-poohed me completely.' Ooo, bad. You do not pooh-pah Hugh Grant, even if you are the Chancellor. 'It actually got a bit awkward and our hostess had to calm us down.' Grant was at the Tory party conference to speak at a fringe session and to meet David Cameron, and he intended to push the Prime Minister for an explanation behind Coulson's appointment, including why he had accepted the claim that phone-hacking was the work of just one 'rogue reporter' at the Scum of the World. 'I really want to know the answer: did he allow Coulson into No 10, and get involved with the Murdoch empire generally speaking, a) out of naivety b) out of reluctant pragmatism - "we know they are monsters but it is the only way to get into power and stay in power" or c) out of unreluctant pragmatism, ie, this is what politicians weaned on the teeth of spin do?' said Grant. He also finds it inconceivable the Prime Minister was not aware that Coulson - who was arrested earlier in the year in the police phone-hacking investigation - had overseen a culture of phone hacking at the newspaper. 'If I knew - and pretty well everyone I knew, knew - that Coulson had a highly questionable past, then why did not the prime minister? I find it impossible to believe that he did not know,' he said. 'My fear is that they just thought, "For twenty or thirty years, all this stuff has been left unquestioned, so the people who run the media invasion industry have lived above the law, we are not going to attack them, so none of this stuff will ever come out."' Grant feels that the Tories have 'so many reasons' not to truly tackle the phone-hacking scandal, largely because it would expose their 'disastrous decision to get into bed with Murdoch in 2007.' The actor also doubts whether News International is genuinely co-operating with police, and is sceptical of Rupert Murdoch's 'doddery' performance at the Commons culture, media and sport select committee in July. 'Speaking as a bad actor, it was easy to spot a bad performance,' said Grant. 'My sources tell me he was as sharp as a tack when they saw him a week or two before. I think all those long delays and dodderiness were phoney.'

Ernie Wise spent the last years of his life 'paranoid and depressed,' his widow Doreen has revealed. He lost half of his sight and his hearing following a series of strokes, and became short-tempered because of the medication he was on. Doreen, seventy nine, said: 'His medication altered his personality. He suddenly began to use strong language and developed an irrational fear that people wanted to hurt him. He was afraid of being mugged and became reclusive and depressive.' Wise died in 1999, aged seventy three, unaware, his widow says, of how much he was loved by fans. Of the tributes that poured in, she said: 'I just wished those accolades had been said to his face when he was alive. He had no idea how much he was appreciated.' Speaking to the Daily Scum Express to coincide with a new authorised biography of the comic. Doreen added: 'When people downplayed Ernie's talent I used to think, "How can they be so stupid?" But though he hated being labelled a stooge the brickbats didn't faze him. He'd just say, "Well I know better. It would only matter if I wasn't getting half the money."' But a BBC documentary made in 1990, six years after Eric Morecambe's death, did upset him, portraying him as a forlorn figure without his comedy partner. At the time, he wrote to one fan: 'I fell out with the director. In the end it was just a put down.' Doreen believes that the FirtyMinutes film, The Importance Of Being Ernie, believes it contributed to his first heart attack.

Channel Five presenter Matthew Wright has issued an on-air apology after asking viewers 'Amanda Knox: Would Ya?', with the broadcaster temporarily removing the episode from its online TV catch-up service. Wright offered an apology on Wednesday's edition of Channel Five daytime show The Wright Stuff for the segment of the previous day's broadcast, admitting he had made 'front-page news for all the wrong reasons' and was sorry for the way he had framed the debate about Knox's successful appeal against her Italian conviction for the killing of Meredith Kercher. On Tuesday's edition of the show Wright asked the audience if they would sleep with Knox, introducing the debate with an on-screen strap stating 'Foxy Knoxy: Would Ya?' During Wednesday's show, Wright said: 'I'm front-page news but sadly for all the wrong reasons. While I'm not going to apologise for discussing Amanda Knox's future after all the terrible things the media has said about her these past four years, I do want to say sorry for the way I framed the debate. The on-screen title was wrong, no doubt about it.' However, he was not wholly apologetic, criticising those who vilified him on Twitter. 'I only wish all those mouthing off about it on Twitter had seen the whole twenty-minute debate and not just reacted to the ten second introduction,' he added. 'But nevertheless, I am sorry.' The episode of the show had been promoted on The Wright Show website with text saying that Knox is 'undeniably fit and loves wild sex' and asking men whether if 'she invited you back to hers, would you go?' This online blurb for Tuesday's show has now been removed from The Wright Stuff website and Channel Five admitted that it temporarily took down the episode from its online service, Demand Five, until after Wright had made his apology. The episode had been returned to the website by lunchtime on Tuesday. 'Yesterday's episode of The Wright Stuff was taken offline to enable Matthew Wright to make an on-air apology at the top of this morning's show,' said a spokeswoman for Channel Five. 'It will be back on the Demand Five website later today.' Media regulator Ofcom has received about fifteen complaints from members of the public that the show was sexist and objectified women.

ITV Studios has picked up the rights to yet another new dance show. Because, of course, we haven't got enough of those already. The Ultimate Dance Battle - from the makers of The Voice - will include challenges involving hip-hop, ballet, jazz, latin and ballroom, reports Broadcast. Similar to The X Factor, the format will have an auditions round, followed by a 'dance camp' before moving on to its live shows. Mike Beale, director of international formats at ITV Studios, said: 'The show is a rollercoaster ride for choreographers, dancers and viewers. And we believe the incredible feats of endurance, teamwork and creativity will attract buyers to this exciting reality dance show.' Ultimate Dance Battle was created by RTL Nederland in association with top choreographer and So You Think You Can Dance contestant Dan Karaty and producer Rudolf Polderman. Matthias Scholten, director of content for RTL Nederland, said: 'We hope that with the collaboration with ITV Studios many countries will follow.'

Controversial film The Human Centipede II has finally been given a certificate, after cuts totalling more than two-and-a-half minutes. The British Board of Film Classification previously took the rare step of refusing to give it a rating, warning that it could fall foul of obscenity laws. But now the film's distributor has agreed to thirty two cuts to gain an Eighteen certificate for DVD release. Even so, one member of the board felt he was unable to back the decision. Gerard Lemos, one of the BBFC's vice presidents, did not feel it was classifiable and abstained from putting his name to the decision. In the film an obsessed horror movie fan grafts a number of people together 'for kicks.' He is inspired by the original movie released last year by the same writer-director, Tom Six, who has boasted the new film is 'the sickest movie of all time.' What sicker than The Sound of Music? That's some claim. When it first rejected the sequel during the summer, the BBFC said: 'There is little attempt to portray any of the victims in the film as anything other than objects to be brutalised, degraded and mutilated for the amusement and arousal of the central character, as well as for the pleasure of the audience.' It added that the film breached classification guidelines and 'poses a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk that harm is likely to be caused to potential viewers.' Six went on to justify the film as 'art' and the distributors appealed the refusal, which meant it could not legally be released on DVD or seen at the cinema. The BBFC said the cuts related to 'sexual violence, graphic gore and the possibility of breach of the law relating to obscenity.'

A curry house is reported to be 'under fire' after its 'world's hottest chilli' competition landed two people in hospital. Mind you, this is according to the Mirra so it's probably - like the curry - a load of hot sauce. Ambulances had to be called when contestants started fainting, writhing on the floor in agony and being sick. The woman who finished second in the Kismot restaurant curry-eating challenge even had to be taken for treatment twice in a few hours. Curie Kim said after sampling the so-called Kismot Killer: 'I've never endured such pain before.' Well, you can't say you weren't warned, matey! Participants had to sign a legal disclaimer before the Vindaloony charity event at the Edinburgh restaurant. Two British Red Cross members were on hand but could not cope with the nature of the injuries and had to send for the ambulance service. Curie, twenty one, a Korean exchange student at Edinburgh University, said: 'I've always enjoyed spicy foods and knew this was for a good cause. But it sure came with a price.' Mike Lavin, who came fifth, was also rushed to hospital. Beverly Jones was crowned curry queen after finishing nine spoonfuls of the chilli-filled dish. Owner Abdul Ali admitted overestimating how much heat the diners could take and vowed to 'tone down' future events. He said half the twenty entrants pulled out after they witnessed the first ten sweating, collapsing and vomiting. He added that the challenge raised hundreds of pounds for the Children's Hospice Association Scotland – and insisted it had 'gone well.' The Kismot Killer has in the past given diners nose bleeds and forced one elderly man to go to hospital. The Scottish Ambulance Service said: 'We urge the organisers to review the way this event is managed in future to avoid emergency services being forced to treat their customers.' Councillor Gordon Mackenzie - who sounds a right barrel of laughs - branded the event 'a shambles' and said: 'The owner owes the ambulance crews a debt and I hope he'll find a way of making it up to them.' How about a curry?

The latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day has a bit of Gallic flair to it. Pourquoi, Keith Telly Topping I hear you cry dear blog reader. Pour l'amour de Dieu pourquoi? Well, why not. So, anyway, let's kick off with a Belgian, singing in French, about a city in the Netherlands - that's terribly European. And a proper, twenty four carat classic an'all.
From the man who inspired Scott Walker, David Bowie and, err, Terry Jack to one of Marc Bolan's great fancies, the legendary Jacques Dutronc, and his stomping Mod-masterpiece on 1966.
Very sexy language, French. Ask Serge Gainsbourg and his missus.

1 comment:

David Alexander McDonald said...

'Ere, no mad jumping the canyopn between Scott Walker and David Bowie -- you need the flippin' Rod McKuen bridge there, ad that's how Jacksie got to his sugar-rush take on "Le Moribond." McKuen all but built his own career by doing ham-fisted translations and covers of Brel.

Oh, and also, it might be noted, Black Box recorder, who did a straight-faced pisstake of the Jacks version of the Rod McKuen version of the Brel's own magnifigue original.