Monday, October 24, 2011

A Spy In The House Of Love

I suppose in a drama which, as early as episode two of series one was cheerfully killing off a regular cast member (by pushing her face first into a deep fat fryer, dear blog reader) we shouldn't have really been surprised by the final episode of [spooks]. But, the decision to kill off Ruth Evershed was, sad to say, a death too far for this blogger. I reckon that was just fucking mean. It was the equivalent of Josh and Donna not getting together at the end of The West Wing. The Scooby Gang not surviving Sunnydale being sucked into hell at the end of Buffy. Sam Tyler actually getting back to 2006 and being happy there at the end of Life on Mars. The survivors of Oceania 815 being 'really in Heaven all along' at the end of Lost. Oh, hang on ... Still, what had been, up to forty five minutes into the final episode an almost classic example of [spooks]'s brilliant ability to successfully mix tension, drama and action fell as flat as a pancake when the pretty boy Russian who couldn't act (Tom Weston-Jones) shoved a sharp piece of glass into poor Ruth's lung. 'Bad people want to kill us.' Never a truer word. There were some nice bits thereafter - the Matty Macfadyen cameo, the 'Wall of the Fallen' sequence - and the final moment itself with its suggestion that the only two ways out of D Section are death or death was a suitably downbeat and morose way to end a series which reminded us, often, that neither of those things were, necessarily, bad things. But ... I dunno. I just can't get past the fact that SOME TOSSER THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO KILL RUTH! Bastard. I guess, I'm just a hopeless romantic when it comes to 'shipperism. Ooo, I'm gonna be cross till Christmas, now.

To coincide with the final episode, there was a very good piece by the Torygraph's Matthew d'Ancona: '[spooks] was emphatically what Graham Greene – a spy himself – categorised as an "entertainment." A fiction intended primarily to enthral, intrigue and amuse, but to do so with intelligence and subtlety. In spite of, or perhaps because of, its constantly changing cast, and the profound changes in audience behaviour since it was launched in 2002, the series consistently managed, over ten seasons, to attract six million viewers. What [spooks] did so brilliantly was to map out a middle ground between the cerebral world of le Carré and John Huston's The Kremlin Letter on the one hand, and the multiplex fantasy of Bond and Bourne on the other. There was plenty of butch jargon ("You are a go, Alpha Three!") but also a depth of reference way beyond the horizons of the average spy show. Yeats, Walt Whitman, Shakespeare, Kierkegaard: all were quoted by these superior spooks. On the spectrum of plausibility, it hovered pleasingly at the halfway point between the dark realism of the George Smiley stories, and the pure escapism of 007's adventures. Harry's officers were a disproportionately glamorous bunch, suspiciously well-tailored, and partial to walking together in slow-motion down corridors for no apparent reason. The female characters often seemed to be channelling Diana Rigg in her Avengers heyday. The gadgets provided by in-house super-brain Malcolm frequently stretched credulity. [spooks] was the first attempt on British television to address the post-9/11 landscape in the form of a drama series. The Cold War was a distant memory. Instead, the series explored the fluid geopolitics of a world in which the threat was no longer monolithic. Al-Qaeda, rogue states, the far Right, the villains of high finance: Section D faced them all, week after week. In the final pages of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the greatest espionage story of them all, Bill Haydon tells Smiley that "secret services [are] the only real measure of a nation's political health, the only real expression of its subconscious." If that is so, then Harry Pearce epitomised the resilient decency of this country, the part that inspires optimism even in these gloomy and precarious times. In the end, that’s why we stayed glued to our screens. And why, as the great adventure ends tonight, there won't be a dry eye on the Grid, and far beyond. [spooks] may be over – but it will haunt us for a long while to come.' Spot on, sir. Matthew also observes, on the subject of the Ruth: 'Brilliantly played by Nicola Walker, Ruth evolved from an eccentric bluestocking to a rather more elegant figure, and a match, in every sense, for Peter Firth's Sir Harry. Their "will they, won’t they?" romance became the soft emotional centre of the series, a plotline from Moonlighting or Friends transposed to the security service. Cheekily referred to as "momma bear and papa bear" by a junior officer in season ten, Harry and Ruth were indeed the mother and father of Section D, proving that all drama is ultimately about family life – even when the family's main task is to prevent an outbreak of bubonic plague or the detonation of a dirty bomb on British soil.'

In an interview with Radio Times, the Goddess-like Nicola Walker managed not to give away the fact that the production dream were planning on sticking up two fingers to 'shippers everywhere. I'm still annoyed about that, dear blog reader! I'll get over it. But, anyway, it was really good piece in which Nicola was asked which TV series she would take to a desert island? 'Downton Abbey,' she replied, cheekily. 'Because I've never seen a single episode. Actually, I have already been on a desert island, and I hated it. I went to the Maldives for a week, which should have been the most idyllic holiday, and discovered that I really didn't like being on a small island. I just sat looking at the sea, thinking: "there's only sea out there."' She confirmed that she's unlikely to be on the next series of Strictly Come Dancing: 'I'd be rubbish, and I would never put myself through it. Once I was asked to do celebrity rowing where they taught people who had been to Oxford or Cambridge to row against each other. That sounded like too much hard work: really early mornings and having to be quite fit, which I'm not.' Nicola also confirmed a piece of long-established [spooks] lore, that it was Sue Perkins who introduced her to the Footlights: 'Sue borrowed my bike on our first night in Cambridge, lost it, and offered to buy me a drink in the Footlights club room to say sorry. I don't think I ever tried out; I just hung around until someone took pity and gave me a line.' And, that her first crush was for David Bowie: 'The crush hasn't gone away. I really liked him dressed up as a clown in 'Ashes to Ashes' - there was something about that look I found appealing as a young girl – no idea why.' And, the thing she'll miss most about [spooks]? 'Mainly not getting to act with Peter Firth for six months of the year. It's a real pleasure to work with someone when they're that good and I've learned a lot from him.'

Rory Bremner has become the third celebrity to leave Strictly Come Dancing. Thus sparing us all from any more of his ruddy annoying impressions, at least. Yes, mate, your Blair's hilarious. I don't think.

With its mention of 'a substantial social media and digital profile,' the BBC's job advert for the key job of Newsnight political editor (applications close on Thursday) reads like a desperate plea to top tweeter Laura Kuenssberg – reportedly executives' first choice to replace Michael Crick, before she defected to ITV as well. But the advert's wording indicates candidates who are not part of the so-called 'Westminster village' could also have a chance: 'Newsnight runs five days a week on BBC2 from 22.30. The political editor has a prominent on-air role, fronting reports, appearing live in the studio and conducting interviews,' it helpfully reveals.

Steven Spielberg's take on Hergé's classic comic character Tintin has had its world premiere in Belgium. The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn - with its script by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish - tells of how the intrepid reporter sets off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship along with friend Captain Haddock. Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell portrays the hero in Spielberg's computer-generated 3D animation. The film's UK premiere took place later in London's Leicester Square. The movie uses motion-capture techniques similar to those used in Lord of the Rings, King Kong and Avatar, where actors wear special suits which record all movement. The data is then transformed into a computer-generated three dimensional image. The film also stars Daniel Craig as criminal Ivanovich Sakharine, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as the Thompson Twins and Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock. First created in 1929 by Brussels-born author Georges Rémi, who wrote under the name Hergé, Tintin books have gone on to sell more than two hundred and twenty million copies around the world. Spielberg said that he hoped his film would find fresh fans in the US, where the character is not as well known as it is in Europe. 'American audiences will look at this as an original movie,' the director - who bought the rights to the character in the 1980s - told reporters. 'Hopefully, if it is successful in America, perhaps for the first time in eighty years the books will start being published in America.' The Belgian press were, broadly, very positive about the adaptation, with the French-language magazine Le Vif writing: 'Action and humour dominate in a very pleasant spectacle.' French daily Le Soir added: 'Hergé would have loved this Tintin, full of character.'

Actor and writer Mark Gatiss was the guest on this week's edition of the long-running BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs; during the show he spoke about his life, growing up in Sedgefield opposite an Edwardian psychiatric hospital, his interest in the supernatural and horror movies, and his successful career with The League of Gentlemen, Sherlock and, of course, Doctor Who.

Freddie Starr is rumoured to be joining the ITV reality show I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV For The First Time In Years ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want)! The jungle show is due back on screen early November with a new batch of alleged 'celebrities' living in the Australian out-back for three weeks. Starr was a major TV name from the 1970s until the late 1980s and had two An Audience With ... programmes on the ITV network in 1996 and 1997. Originally a singer in the Merseybeat band Freddie Starr and The Midnighters (who played in Hamburg with The Beatles and made a few singles which were produced by maverick nutcase Joe Meek), after something of a failed pop career Starr turned to comedy as was one of the major discoveries on the talent show Opportunity Knocks (the Britain's Got Talent of its day) in 1970. He subsequently spent most of the next two decades telling rude jokes and doing rubbish impressions on shows like Who Do You Do?, Jokers Wild and The Freddie Starr Show. Starr has also appeared on Channel Four's Celebrity Wife Swap, in which he lived with model Samantha Fox's partner. 'Freddie hasn't been in the spotlight for a little while, but ITV are convinced he's going to be absolutely brilliant. He has met so many different people and had so many amazing experiences. He'll have some great tales to tell,' an alleged 'source' allegedly told the Sunday Mirra (an alleged newspaper, apparently). Starr had to cancel his 2010 tour last year after having major heart surgery. The newspaper claims that he has been offered up to two hundred and fifty thousand smackers to appear on the show, more than any other contestant in the shows history. Except, possibly, Katie Price. On Monday, presenter Laura Whitmore was named as the new host of ITV2's Get Me Out Of Here Now! spin-off show, alongside Joe Swash and the comedian Russell Kane (very popular with students). Caroline Flack quit the show this year to present The Xtra Factor. Laura said of the announcement: 'I'm absolutely thrilled to be joining the I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity family. I can't wait to get stuck into jungle life, though I will try my best to avoid all those creepy crawlies. I'm really looking forward to getting into all sorts of mischief and mayhem with Joe and Russell. The excitement level is officially off the scale!'

Rev, the award-winning BBC2 sitcom, has had to make some concessions to success. It returns on 10 November in an earlier slot of 9pm, writer Mark Wood told a gathering of clerics at the Church & Media forum, so the amount of swearing by the put-upon Rev Adam Smallbone (played so beautifully by Tom Hollander) has been pared back somewhat. But he is still allowed to smoke and get into scrapes, and in one episode has ecstasy slipped into his drink. The BAFTA win may also have helped to attract guest stars including Ralph Fiennes, who plays the Bishop of London. One clergyman told a somewhat startled Wood that many churchmen viewed Rev as a documentary!

Peaches Geldof was reportedly caught shoplifting make-up from a branch of Boots on Friday. The daughter of Saint Bob was followed around the Central London store by a plain-clothes security guard, who watched her allegedly put around seventy pounds worth of mascara, foundation and eyeliner into her pockets and shopping bags. She was taken to a back room and asked to return the items, but staff decided not to involve the police, according to the Sunday Mirra. So, they didn't involve the police but they did involve the Mirra, doesn't one just love British justice? An alleged witness allegedly said: 'I noticed her browsing in the make-up aisle, just the normal ­cosmetics like Rimmel and L'Oreal. I was really surprised to see her openly picking stuff up - foundation, mascara, eyeliner - and putting them in her coat pockets and in her Selfridges bag. She looked around a bit but didn't seem ­bothered, just dropped them in like it was a normal thing to do. When she left she went right to the back of the store so she didn't go past the tills. A store detective followed her outside and brought her back in. I heard him say, "Do you know why I've brought you back?" I didn't hear her response but she was ­completely cool. You'd think someone would be embarrassed or upset, but she was totally casual as though it was nothing out of the ordinary. He took her into a back office and five minutes later she came out and left the store, calm as you like again.' A staff member later confirmed to the paper that Geldof had been 'banned from the store' and wasn't arrested because she 'gave the products back.' When contacted by the Mirra, Geldof refused to comment while Boots said it 'cannot comment on individual customer circumstances.'

And speaking of waste-of-space women with no obvious talent or ability, I'm impressed by the Mirra's Polly Hudson's exclusive Earth-shattering celebrity bombshell of the week. Which concerns Peaches old chum Fearne Cotton, and her observation that 'I can't go past Boots without running in!' Well, I'm sure I speak for all dear blog readers when I tell you that we're all so glad you told us that, Fearne. I'm genuinely not sure how we all got this far in life without knowing it. Try not to nick anything whilst you're there.

Amusing moment where everything goes wrong on BBC News, number one (part of a new irregular series). A BBC News floor manager doesn't quite clear the camera shot quickly enough during a sports bulletin. Very hot water.

Sheikh Yer Manchester City inflicted The Scum's worst home defeat since February 1955 as they thrashed the champions in ruthless fashion to go five points clear at the top of the Premier League in the Manchester derby. City were also the victors on that occasion fifty six years ago, winning 5-0, but this visit was portrayed as a measure of their progress against the nineteen-time champions. And Roberto Mancini's men could not have delivered a more emphatic statement as Sir Alex Ferguson's side were humiliated and given a right good trousers-down hiding. It was the first time United had conceded six goals at Old Trafford since 1930, when Huddersfield won 6-0 and yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved Newcastle United 7-4 within four days of each other. City led 1-0 at half-time, but the second half was completely one-sided and the eventual margin of victory could have been even more convincing. Mario Balotelli, in the headlines for accidentally setting his house ablaze with fireworks earlier in the week, put City on their way with goals either side of the interval as United struggled to contain the array of attacking talent in front of them. United were reduced to ten men when Jonny Evans was sent off early in the second half but City's superiority was such that they looked on course for a landmark victory from the moment they took the lead. Sergio Aguero added a third and, even though Darren Fletcher pulled a goal back, this only proved the signal for a late surge by City that brought three more goals and a result that will have sent shockwaves through the Premier League and, quite possibly, Europe as well. Substitute Edin Dzeko scrambled in a fourth and the magnificent David Silva ran clear to add another another, before the Bosnian striker inflicted the final wound seconds from the end. As Ferguson strode briskly towards the Stretford End at the final whistle, with a face like a smacked arse, he will have been reflecting on the extent of the challenge now facing him from the club he once branded 'noisy neighbours.' To increase United's pain, this was their first home defeat in any competition since April 2010, when they lost to Chelsea - but even that defeat, which effectively cost them the title that season, may not turn out to have the same long-term significance as this heavy beating. United's stature is such that one result must not bring the immediate announcement of a shift in the balance of power in Manchester - but the swathes of empty seats around Old Trafford and the wave of attacks pouring towards David de Gea's goal in the second half emphasised that City quite simply have greater firepower and talent in their squad at present. Mancini left Samir Nasri and Dzeko on the bench - but was still able to exploit a wide range of attacking options in Balotelli, Silva and Aguero. In contrast to what was to come, City were barely allowed any time to settle on the ball in the opening exchanges, with Ashley Young prominent and drawing heavy fouls from Micah Richards and James Milner. And it was against the run of play that City took the lead after twenty two minutes, courtesy of a stroke of casual quality from Balotelli. Silva was the creator but Balotelli, given too much time and space by Evans, finished sublimely with a stroked finish into the bottom corner. Balotelli, in recognition of those latest chaotic events in his personal life, then revealed a T-shirt bearing the slogan 'Why Always Me?' Despite the evident good humour of the gesture, he was booked by referee Mark Clattenburg. United's hopes of mounting a serious response suffered a blow within two minutes of the restart when Evans, who had endured a miserable afternoon, lost concentration and allowed Balotelli to steal in behind him. The defender's only reaction was to haul the Italian down, resulting in an inevitable red card. The opportunity was there for City to overpower their arch-rivals and they accepted it as they went in search of further goals to emphasise their supremacy. City doubled their lead on the hour with another superbly created goal finished by Balotelli. Silva cleverly played in Milner, who provided a cross that left the striker with the simplest of goals from close range. Aguero had been quieter than his attacking colleagues but got in on the act after sixty nine minutes. The outstanding Milner played in Richards and, once again, a delivery across the face of the goal proved too much for United, Argentine Aguero arriving to complete the formalities. Mancini then removed Balotelli and introduced Dzeko, who almost scored a fourth within seconds of his arrival, only to see his shot drift inches wide. And, with United chasing a lost cause and leaving space at the back, Silva fired over from ten yards and Dzeko forced a fine save from De Gea when he was set free by the Spaniard. United refused to give up even in the face of impossible odds and Fletcher offered some hope when he pulled one back with nine minutes left, striking a fine rising shot from twenty yards that gave Joe Hart no chance. It was a goal for which the phrase 'false dawn' was invented. Dzeko took advantage of good work from Joleon Lescott to score the fourth before Silva got the goal he deserved with a composed strike. And with some United supporters actually pleading with referee Clattenburg to put them out of their misery, one more moment of brilliance from the magical Silva found Dzeko surging into the area to finish left-footed for his second. One wouldn't like to be a Manchester United fan in Manchester on Sunday night. Mind you, there's not actually all that many of those, most of them are in Essex, or Wiltshire. Or Malaysia.

In the day's other big game, there was also something of a shock as Heidar Helguson's first-half penalty was enough to secure victory for Queen's Park Strangers in a heated West London derby in which Moscow Chelski FC had two players sent off. Helguson won the penalty after he was stupidly barged to the ground by David Luiz and his mad hair and then beat Petr Cech from the penalty spot. Jose Bosingwa saw red for bringing down Shaun Wright-Phillips when through on goal and Didier Drogba was subsequently dismissed for an ill-timed two-footed lunge on Adel Taarabt. Nicolas Anelka wasted a headed chance late on as Rangers held on. It was nasty, niggly game with nine bookings (seven of them for Moscow Chelski) and a general attitude of mutual loathing between the two sides. The highlight of the game, however, was Adel Taarabt's ludicrous sulking antics, firstly when his team mates wouldn't let him take the penalty and then when he was substituted in the second half. For a moment it looked as though Joey Barton was going to stick one on him for his impertinence. Elsewhere Arsenal beat Stoke 3-1, Everton won at Fulham by the same score and Tottenham Hotshots heaped further pressure on hapless the Blackburn Curries boss Steve Kean with a 2-1 victory at Ewood Park. 'Somebody's got to take it and I've got broad enough shoulders. I'll protect my players, we'll organise, get back out there and win games,' Kean said after the latest fan protest calling for him to be sacked after the final whistle.

The return of BBC1's regional current affairs show Inside Out was impeccably – or unfortunately – timed, depending on your point of view. The programme is facing budget cuts of forty per cent as part of the BBC's Delivering Quality First initiative, having been made a rather lower priority by management than some other regional output. BBC News director Helen Boaden reportedly told staff who questioned the sagacity of the decision to 'grow up,' adding: 'We could have killed you off.' The first of a new nine-part series of Inside Out had an overnight audience of 3.6 million viewers last Monday. Flagship current affairs show Panorama: 3.4 million.

The actress Sue Lloyd, who has died aged seventy two, exuded glamour and sophistication on screen in the 1960s, before finding renewed fame two decades later as Barbara Hunter in over seven hundred episodes of the TV soap opera Crossroads. But it took two attempts by the serial's producers to persuade her to join a programme which was roundly abused by the critics and comedian (and many viewers for that matter). 'My initial reaction was to be a bit sniffy about it,' Lloyd recalled in her 1998 autobiography, It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time. 'The soap was renowned for its wobbly scenery, bizarre storylines and regular slaughtering by the critics. Why would I, just back from filming [Revenge of] The Pink Panther with Peter Sellers in the South of France and about to embark on the comedy The Upchat Line with John Alderton, want to get involved in a project like that? Besides, I was too busy. "If they want you," advised my agent, "they'll come back."' That happened when little more than a year later, in 1979, Lloyd was offered the role of Barbara Brady, ostensibly housekeeper to an American psychiatrist, Lloyd Munro, who turned out to be a romantic novelist carrying out research. Within a year, Barbara was married to the Crossroads motel manager, David Hunter, and became a director of the business. David was played by another former film actor, Ronald Allen, and the romance with Lloyd continued off screen. In 1985, the pair were axed from Crossroads in one of a series of culls intended to save the soap, which was finally dropped by ITV three years later. The couple married in 1991, six weeks before Allen's death from lung cancer. Susan Margery Jeaffreson Lloyd was born in August 1939 in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, the daughter of a GP and, after her family moved to Birmingham, she attended Edgbaston high school. Having watched Margot Fonteyn at Covent Garden, she took up ballet and won a scholarship to the Royal Ballet school at Sadler's Wells theatre in London in 1953. Five years later, she became one of the last two debutantes to be presented to the Queen at Buckingham Palace in the final such ceremony to be staged. She started her working life as a dancer in Lionel Blair's troupe, then had some success as a model, appearing on the cover of Vogue. After taking lessons with the once-blacklisted actor Jeff Corey in Los Angeles, she made her screen debut in the adventure series The Sentimental Agent (1963) and soon found herself typecast in glamour roles. In addition to one-off parts in series such as The Saint (1964, 1967), The Avengers (1965), Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1970), The Persuaders! (1971) and The Sweeney (1976), Lloyd had a long run as the Daf 33-driving Cordelia Winfield, fellow agent of John Mannering (Steve Forrest), an international antiques dealer working undercover for British intelligence, in The Baron (1966-67). She portrayed another high-powered woman in the first series of the sitcom His and Hers (1970), when she took the role of the City of London accountant and breadwinner Kay, wife of a struggling freelance journalist played by Ronald Lewis. In 1965, Lloyd made a big impression as Michael Caine's girlfriend in the spy thriller The Ipcress File, which included a memorable seduction scene. She was also given equal billing with Peter Cushing in the low budget horror film Corruption (1968). Selling a newspaper story about her affairs with Peter Sellers and Sean Connery later enabled her to buy a London flat. Lloyd made her West End debut as John Steed's sidekick, Hannah Wild, in a short-lived stage version of The Avengers (Prince of Wales theatre, 1971). Her career seemed to be on the wane by the time she starred alongside Joan Collins in The Stud (1978) and The Bitch (1979), but Crossroads brought Lloyd new recognition. She later appeared on television alongside Allen in both the Comic Strip's Eat the Rich (1988) and in Bergerac (1990), and reprised her Ipcress File role of Jean, for a rendezvous with Michael Caine's secret agent, Harry Palmer, in Bullet to Beijing (1995). When acting offers dried up, Lloyd concentrated on painting, having been a professional artist since 1976, starting with murals and progressing to portraits. 'Sue suffered with her health in recent years, but she never complained,' her niece, Joanna Mitchell, told the Daily Torygraph. 'She had a great sense of fun. She worked with people like Peter Sellers and Ronnie Barker and they became her friends. She was very gregarious and got on with everyone she met.' Joan Collins, a friend of many years standing, added; 'She was the life and soul of parties in the late Seventies when we were working on The Stud and The Bitch. We had a lot of fun filming The Stud when we had to strip for a pool scene. "Let's get drunk," Sue suggested, as we were both highly embarrassed about it. So we did and the scene rocked.'

Steve Coogan has abandoned a sitcom that he was planning with Curb Your Enthusiasm's Jeff Garlin after reportedly 'losing interest' in the idea. The pair were collaborating on a series for HBO after Coogan made a guest appearance on the sixth series of Curb. But they had such different working patterns, the idea never amounted to anything. Garlin told the Press Association: 'I like writing in the morning, he likes it in the afternoon. We were both pretty good at lunch, but I ran out of steam at twelve o'clock and he'd not even started up yet, so I think he lost interest.' In a previous interview, Garlin said: 'We got along great and it was coming together slowly, but it didn't work out. I love collaborating, though.'

Noel Gallagher has beaten Matt Cardle to the top of the UK CD chart with his first solo record. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds clocked up first week sales of over one hundred and twenty thousand copies, forty per cent more than the total mustered by last year's X Factor champion's own debut, Letters. So, that'll be back to stacking shelves at Morrison's then, Matt? One imagines that, of even more interest to Noel will be that his debut chart performance beats that of his brother, Liam, whose post-Oasis band Beady Eye peaked at number three when they released Different Gear, Still Speeding last year. Noel announced in July that he has already recorded his next CDs. The follow up, an eighteen-song collaboration with Amorphous Androgynous would be more 'out there' and will be released in 2012, he said.

'The average issue of the Daily Mail contains around eighty thousand words – the equivalent of a paperback book,' begins the disgraceful right-wing scum paper's newly-launched corrections and clarifications column. 'Most of which are written on the day under tremendous pressure of deadlines.' It must have been under exactly that sort of pressure that the paper incorrectly referred to 'asylum seekers' when it meant to say 'illegal immigrants … We are happy to set the record straight,' the crow. Still, it could have been worse. It could have cocked up the Union Flag. 'Last week we printed the Union Flag incorrectly in a tea towel promotion. The thick white lines of the St Andrew's Cross should have been above the red St Patrick's Cross on one side of the flag and below it on the other.' Truly, dear blog reader, Britain is broken.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a little pop classic from The Pipettes. Quite why this wasn't number one for six months is, frankly, beyond me.