Friday, October 21, 2011

Until We Meet Again Some Sunny Day

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved BBC Newcastle was a big winner this week at the Gillard Awards. Coverage of the Raoul Moat manhunt and their significant involvement in Metro the Musical helped BBC Newcastle to take the Radio Station of the Year title at the annual Gillard Awards held on Thursday night in Sheffield. Judges commended the station's reporting of events during and after the dramatic manhunt which ended in Moat's death last year, as well as their innovative community musical which celebrated thirty years of the light railway system that runs through Tyne and Wear. Newcastle beat contenders BBC Radio Bristol and BBC Essex to the top prize.
And here's a - genuinely - startling shot of a surprised-looking Martin Emmerson, Andrew Robson, Murphy Cobbing, Patrick Tyner, Misha Laing, Simon Logan and Sarah Miller celebrating their hard-earned victory! Named after BBC local radio's founder, Frank Gillard, the annual ceremony which started in 2000, showcases the best of England's forty BBC local radio stations. Thursday night's ceremony was compered by Toby Foster with BBC News director Helen Boaden presenting the prizes. Held against the backdrop of proposed DQF cuts to local services, which of course, you can have your say about if you're a licence fee payer by going here, David Holdsworth the BBC's English Regions controller said: 'It was an inspiring night that reflected the way local radio tells the story of England.' Next year's ceremony will be held in Newcastle.

BBC foreign correspondents have raised fears that the corporation's seven million quid cost-cutting exercise in its overseas newsgathering operation will make the broadcaster more 'vulnerable to bullying' governments in the Middle East. The BBC plans to replace foreign correspondents in countries including Pakistan and Lebanon with locally-recruited reporters, who corporation insiders say are 'uniquely exposed' to pressure from authoritarian regimes. Local reporters will replace BBC foreign correspondents in Baghdad, Islamabad, Gaza, Nigeria, Mexico, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon and Cuba. As part of the changes, the BBC will station full-time foreign correspondents in key locations, with all senior Middle East reporters based in Israel and Egypt, and Europe reporters in Brussels. Details of the move were disclosed in an e-mail to staff by Jon Williams, the BBC's world news editor. Williams described the challenge facing the BBC as 'immense,' as it attempts to save seven million smackers from its thirty five million snots budget from 2013. The internal e-mail, seen by - of course - the Gruniad, who could hardly contain their delight at its contents, shows that the BBC plans to close forty four posts in its world newsgathering operation, twenty five per cent of the total headcount of one hundred seventy. The corporation said that it will create twenty two new roles, thirteen overseas on full contracts, and nine on local staff terms. One senior BBC foreign correspondent said: 'They are abolishing almost all sponsored and unsponsored foreign reporter posts. A few are being upgraded to full Band Ten correspondents. Most will be filled by local bilingual employees. Just exactly what every nasty government hoping to bully the BBC needs.' A former senior BBC 'insider' allegedly said that locally-recruited reporters with intricate knowledge of the culture can be 'invaluable to foreign news coverage.' However, he added that they are 'uniquely vulnerable' to pressure not to expose wrongdoing because friends and family often live in the area. 'Nobody questions the value of having locally-recruited journalists,' the 'source' allegedly said. 'But if you are a Tunisian citizen with a Tunisian passport it is extraordinarily easy for the government to put you under pressure not to reveal truth and expose wrongdoing because your family live there. Some governments want nothing more than to bully the BBC and there are serious concerns that this makes the BBC's ability to offer impartial news more vulnerable.' A BBC News spokesman said: 'The vast majority of the BBC's journalists overseas are already local nationals. In Syria, in Tripoli, in Tehran, our resident reporters working for our English services are already local nationals. The BBC, like other organisations, is alert to the potential for intimidation but we support all our journalists in resisting threats and intimidation, whatever their nationality.' Another BBC foreign correspondent allegedly said that this 'centralisation' of senior staff would reduce plurality and diversity of its coverage and was 'designed to enhance top-down control by editors in London.' The BBC News spokesman said that 'far from reducing diversity,' the centralisation plans would increase the diversity of voices on-air. Williams said in the e-mail to staff that, by 2017, the BBC will 'look and sound very different to the way we do now.' Which, as a licence fee payer, this blogger would like to assure the BBC spokesperson is not, necessarily, a good thing. It's certainly which a thing a lot of expenses fiddling MPs of all parties, jackbooted bullyboys at the Daily Scum Mail and sandal-wearing hippie Communist at the Gruniad Morning Star would like. But, again, that's doesn't, necessarily, make it right. He added: 'I don't underestimate the impact these proposals will have – on individuals, on the way we work in the UK, or on our operations overseas. However, this is a five-year programme – some of the changes may not be introduced until 2017. None of the planned overseas changes will happen before 2014. The challenge facing us is immense – and I appreciate that some of the decisions I've outlined are difficult. But the prize is real: a world newsgathering operation that is more diverse, agile and capable, better able to meet the challenges of the commercial and public service world, one that is multi-lingual, multi-location and multi-platform.'

A senior BBC News executive has defended the corporation's use of 'undoubtedly shocking and disturbing' video of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in his dying moments.
Mary Hockaday, head of the BBC multimedia newsroom, said that using the grainy mobile phone images – which showed a bloodied and beaten Gaddafi moments before his death – was editorially justified to convey the scale of Thursday's 'dramatic and gruesome' events. Writing on the BBC Editors' Blog on Friday, Hockaday said: 'In the age of mobile phones, footage of the capture of Gaddafi soon started to emerge. We could not always be clear of its origins so it was important to make what checks we could and then be very clear with our audiences what we'd been able to verify and what we hadn't. The other challenge was posed by the nature of the footage itself – very graphic, some of it showing Gaddafi alive but manhandled and bloody and other footage and stills showing his dead and bloodied body. We judged that it was right to use some footage and stills, with warnings about their nature.' Like most major news organisations in Britain and overseas, including the Gruniad on its live blog, the BBC used unverified graphic images of Gaddafi before his death was confirmed on its twenty four-hour news channel. On Friday, all the UK national newspapers ran graphic images of the ousted dictator on their front pages, with many more pictures inside. The front pages prompted a small backlash on Twitter, with some users complaining that children could easily see the grisly pictures. Late on Thursday afternoon as details of Gaddafi's death were emerging, the BBC appeared to omit the pictures from its online news coverage. However, they were included in BBC1's 6pm and 10pm news bulletins. Hockaday said: 'There were undoubtedly shocking and disturbing images from yesterday. But as a news organisation our role is to report what happened, and that can include shocking and disturbing things. We thought carefully about the use of pictures – which incidentally we used more sparingly than many other UK media – and I believe that overall they were editorially justified to convey the nature of yesterday's dramatic and gruesome events.'

Moira Ross, the executive producer of Strictly Come Dancing, has quit the show to join production company Wall to Wall, where she will be executive producer of the BBC's version of The Voice. Ross, currently the BBC's editor of format entertainment, will take up the newly-created role of head of entertainment at the Shed Media-owned company in January 2012. She will be responsible for all of Wall to Wall's entertainment output, including acting as executive producer for The Voice UK, which will premiere on BBC1 in early next year. Ross is credited with having successfully relaunched Strictly Come Dancing in a format that has attracted the highest ratings in the show's long history. She also oversees various BBC in-house entertainment productions including The Eurovision Song Contest, the wretched - and now, thankfully, cancelled - So You Think You Can Dance? and Strictly spin-off It Takes Two on BBC2. In addition, she spent three years seconded in Los Angeles working as a supervising producer on series two and three of Dancing with the Stars, the international name for Strictly Come Dancing, and as co-executive producer on ABC's Dance War. Ross, who will remain executive producer of Strictly until the end of the current series, said: 'There is no other show I would leave the BBC and Strictly Come Dancing for, but the opportunity to launch The Voice UK on BBC1 and to join the wonderful team at Wall to Wall was just too great to pass up. There's no denying I'll miss the ballroom, but I'm looking forward to discovering the UK's next singing sensation.' Leanne Klein, the creative director at Wall to Wall, said: 'We're absolutely delighted to have someone of Moira's calibre joining us at this exciting time. Not only are we looking forward to making The Voice UK a huge returning hit for BBC1, we are also looking to establish ourselves as a major entertainment producer for all broadcasters and having Moira on board is a significant part of that strategy.' Mark Linsey, the controller of entertainment commissioning at the BBC, added: 'I'd like to thank Moira for the amazing job she does on Strictly Come Dancing and am delighted she'll be staying with us until the end of this series. It's great news for us that she'll be working on our next big Saturday night entertainment show for BBC1, The Voice UK, and I know she'll be a fabulous asset to that show and to Wall to Wall.'

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping had a very interesting e-mail from his old mate Jerry Stellos in New York a couple of days ago asking what yer actual Keith Telly Topping knew about what projects all the various cast members of the late and lamented Ideal are currently involved in. Well, obviously, I can tell you without thinking all that hard that Alfie Joey (Derrick) is currently presenting BBC Newcastle's Breakfast Show With Alfie & Charlie, appearing in his own irregular one-man musical Monopolise! around the North of England and, ahem, working on a sitcom pilot script with yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self called Out of Order. So, that's the easy one! Otherwise, I can confirm that the great Ben Crompton (Colin) is currently not on probation but, rather, working on the second series of Game of Thrones in which he plays Dolorous Edd Tollett. Johnny Vegas his very self has been a guest on both Qi and Celebrity Juice recently and has his own production company which is current working on a variety of projects both for Johnny and others. He was also in Radio 4's very well received comedy Shedtown and, in July, appeared in And Another Thing ... at the Manchester Pavillion Theatre with Ideal castmate Emma Fryer (Tanya). He's next due to be appearing in The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff with Stephen Fry and Mitchell and Webb later this year. Ryan Pope (Psycho Paul) cropped up as a traveller wrongly accused of murder in the final episode of The Body Farm just this week and is also rumoured to be taking part in a recently filmed sitcom pilot, one that was directed by old Cartoon Head himself, David Sant. Tom Goodman-Hill (PC) is currently in Spy and also made a recent guest appearance in Doc Martin. And Graham Duff (Brian) recently had a part in one of Channel Four's Comedy Lab pilots Totally Tom. Plus, obviously, Seymour Mace, Jason Manford, Andrew Lee Potts and Janeane Garofalo are all not doing too badly for themselves! I'll see what I can dig up concerning some of the rest of the best ensemble cast on a British comedy show, well, ever next time around. That's, of course, if the world doesn't end later today.

The new owner of the BBC Magazines division, home to thirty three titles including Top Gear and Radio Times, has appointed former EMI chairman Stephen Alexander to lead the publisher. Exponent, the private equity firm that acquired BBC Magazines in August as part of a one hundred and twenty one million smackers deal, has created Immediate Media Co to house its publishing and digital media assets. Alexander will act as chairman of the new outfit, while Peter Phippen, the long-serving managing director of BBC Magazines, will take a non-executive role as deputy chairman. Tom Bureau, the chief executive of the Exponent-owned magazine publisher Magicalia, will become the chief executive of IMC. The new company will incorporate the Bristol-based specialist publisher Origin, which Exponent acquired as part of the BBC Magazines deal. IMC will have seven hundred and fifty staff in offices in West London and Bristol. It will become fully operational on 1 November and will publish more than fifty magazines and manage thirty four websites generating revenues of one hundred and forty five million wonga. 'With the creation of Immediate Media Co, we are bringing together market-leading magazine titles from BBC Magazines, a dynamic and successful range of special interest publications from Origin and an award-winning digital platform and media business in Magicalia,' said Alexander. 'Immediate Media Co has both a great heritage and a great future and in Tom Bureau we have a CEO with proven cross-media credentials to lead its future development.' Under the deal, Exponent has acquired all non-BBC branded magazines in full, including the eighty eight-year-old Radio Times, along with rights to publish BBC branded titles, such as Gardeners' World and BBC Wildlife, under licensing deals. Titles relating to key BBC Worldwide brands, such as Top Gear and Good Food, will be retained by the BBC but published by IMC under contract publishing arrangements. BBC Worldwide said that the value of the transaction was one hundred and twenty one million quid, but that also included the separate sale of its fifty per cent shareholding in Worldwide Media - a publishing joint venture in India - to fellow shareholder Bennett, Coleman & Co, owner of The Times of India. Completion of the BBC Magazines sale follows regulatory clearance from the Office of Fair Trading obtained earlier this week. BBC Worldwide chief executive John Smith said: 'With completion imminent, I would like to acknowledge, with gratitude, everything that has been achieved in BBC Magazines. Building on a heritage dating back to Radio Times' first edition in 1923, the titles remain synonymous with the highest quality journalism along with expertise in, and a passion for, their subject areas. We will retain a close link with the new owners following the transaction, which I believe offers the best prospects for the business in the future.'

The European Commission has demanded 'an unqualified apology' from the BBC over what it claimed was the 'disgraceful' treatment of one of its spokesmen on Newsnight last month. A letter sent to BBC director general Mark Thompson, seen by - of course - the Gruniad, who could hardly contain cumming in their shorts, so delighted were they that they could cause the BBC a bit of trouble yet again - accuses Jeremy Paxman of 'losing control' of the show after studio guest and smug and odious Torygraph professional gobshite Peter Oborne described Amadeu Altafaj Tardio as 'that idiot in Brussels.' Paxman, notes the Gruniad, 'eventually admonished Oborne,' for being 'gratuitously offensive,' but by then Oborne had repeated the phrase several times in a debate on the Eurozone crisis. It was also not enough to stop Tardio, speaking via video link from the BBC's Brussels studio, from flouncing out of the interview in high dudgeon like a proper prima donna. The EC clearly feel that Paxo should have twatted Oborne, hard, reet in the mush for such jiggery-pokery and unfeasible naughtiness. Not that this blogger would've necessarily been over critical of Mister Paxo had that happened, of course, but it was never likely, really, so what's the big deal? One trusts that the BBC will, for once, not appear as cowering invertebrates in this matter but will inform the EC that they should really be taking up their vexation with the person who actually called them rude names, Mr Oborne, and his Torygraph chums and would they kindly, and with no ill will intended, naff off and stop trying to shoot the messenger. But, of course, they won't. do that They'll just do what they usually do when faced with crass bullies shotting their mouth off, curl up into a little ball and lie weeping in the corner saying 'please don't hurt me anymore.'
Surrey Police's chief constable has confirmed reports that the force knew about the Scum of the World's hacking of Milly Dowler's mobile phone. An investigation conducted by the Independent brought to light claims that senior detectives at Surrey Police had meetings with journalists from the now defunct, disgraced and disgraceful newspaper. Mark Rowley said in a letter to the Commons culture committee that the paper had made a call to them in April 2002. The call reportedly confirmed that they had accessed the then-missing schoolgirl's voicemail account. Rowley said that the force's main priority at the time was to find Dowler. Rowley said: 'From that call it was apparent that person(s) working for, or on behalf of, the News of the World had accessed Milly Dowler's voicemail. At that time, the focus and priority of the investigation was to find Milly, who had then been missing for over three weeks and significant resources were deployed to achieve this objective. I can confirm that Surrey Police did not launch a criminal investigation into how the News of the World came by the information it provided Operation Ruby with in April 2002 and that Surrey Police neither arrested nor charged anyone in relation to accessing Milly Dowler's voicemail. The inquiry team is currently looking into why this was the case.' He added that the Surrey Police force had failed to give the information to the Metropolitan Police during their first phone-hacking investigation in 2006. Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: 'Had Surrey Police acted in 2002, it may have prevented the culture of hacking becoming endemic at News of the World. The committee will be investigating further the reasons why Surrey Police did not follow up on this evidence, and why Sussex Police did not flag it up in their review of Operation Ruby.' And, presumably, heads will roll.

FOX entertainment chief Kevin Reilly has defended the decision to put shows on hiatus for baseball coverage. The likes of New Girl and Raising Hope will not return until November, making way for Major League Baseball games. 'I'd prefer not to do it, but I feel we have shows that viewers will come back for,' Reilly told Entertainment Weekly. 'We could have peppered New Girl and Raising Hope around the schedule. [But] it felt like ultimately we didn't want to knock them down by getting them lesser ratings in other time periods.' He added: 'It's easier to say, "It's off for three weeks and then we're on [non-stop] for the rest of the year."' Reilly also suggested that fan complaints about the hiatus prove that both shows are a success for FOX. 'We could be sitting here trying to figure out how to get to the press and fan the flames and make people care,' he said. 'Other people are going to be moving around in repeats later in the year, and we're going to be on straight through [with new episodes].'

Minnie Driver is being lined up to star in a new ABC show. The actress has signed a talent deal with the Alphabet network, Deadline says. ABC is now expected to find a suitable hour-long or half-hour project for her to appear in next fall. Driver reportedly signed the deal despite being asked by NBC to star in a drama pilot. Earlier this year, Driver starred in CBS pilot Hail Mary, but the project was not picked up to series. She previously appeared in television shows such as The Riches, Will & Grace and the BBC series The Deep, as well as movies like Conviction and Good Will Hunting.

Harry Belafonte appeared to fall asleep moments before a live television interview earlier this week. The legendary eighty four-year-old singer was due to be interviewed via a satellite link with California station KBAK, but when presenter Leyla Santiago tried to alert him, he remained silent in his seat with his eyes closed. The video of the interview has since reached viral status online, and includes Santiago and her co-anchors laughing about the situation, while speaking about the 'King of Calypso's career. Later, when the camera cut to the show's next guest, they mocked the incident by pretending to be asleep. However, Belafonte's spokesperson has denied that the performer was asleep, instead insisting that he was 'meditating' and that his earpiece had malfunctioned. Ken Sunshine - no, really! - told New York Daily News: 'Mr Belafonte is eighty four years young, but sharper and more awake than most who have been interviewing him. Maybe the world would be a better place if more people took a moment to meditate.' Or, you know, 'just resting my eyes...'

US photographer Barry Feinstein, best known for taking enduring pictures of musicians such as Bob Dylan and George Harrison, has died aged eighty. He was responsible for capturing more than five hundred record sleeves, including Harrison's All Things Must Pass LP. The Rolling Stones original cover for Beggars Banquet, shot in a graffiti-covered toilet, was also Feinstein's work. Friend and agent Dave Brolan paid tribute, calling him a 'lovely man and a real talent.' Feinstein's work recently featured in Martin Scorsese's documentary about Harrison, Living in the Material World. Feinstein's picture of Dylan at a damp ferry port on the banks of the River Severn was also used in No Direction Home, Scorsese's 2005 film about the musician. The photographer, who was reluctant to talk about the musicians he shot, was also the on-set photographer for Steve McQueen's film Bullitt. Feinstein, who was a cameraman on the classic 1968 documentary Monterey Pop, also was the director-cameraman on the 1968 music documentary You Are What You Eat. He died of natural causes on Thursday in Woodstock, New York state. Feinstein was born in February 1931, in Philadelphia. He spent a year at the University of Miami and had a stint in the Coast Guard before launching his career in photography. After arriving in Hollywood, he became a studio photographer for Columbia Pictures. In an award-winning career that began in the 1950s and included shooting many of Hollywood's biggest stars, Feinstein had photos published in Life, Look, Time, Esquire, Newsweek and other magazines. Amongs his most famous LP covers were Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin', Janis Joplin's Pearl, The Byrds' Mr Tambourine Man, Dave Mason's Alone Together and Eric Clapton's eponymous debut solo. 'I'd put Barry in the top five of all-time rock photographers,' said Peter Blachley, owner of the Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York City, which represents Feinstein's photography. When he shot the cover All Things Must Pass album, Feinstein recalled in a 2002 interview with the Washington Times, that he photographed for days outside the singer's home at Friar Park in Henley-on-Thames, England. 'Then, someone called [George] and told him the gnomes that were stolen from Friar Park in about 1871 could be bought back. They asked him if he wanted to buy them back. He said, "Sure." They brought them back and laid them on the lawn. We went out and looked at them. I said, "There's the cover." We didn't move a thing. In about two minutes, we had the cover. It was spontaneous.' Harrison later asked Feinstein to document the historic fundraising Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden in 1971. Noting that her husband had a photography and design studio in Los Angeles for many years, Judith Jamison Feinstein said: 'Steve McQueen would pick him up every day at four o'clock when he was done with business and off they'd go motorcycling through the Hollywood Hills.' Feinstein was previously married and divorced from singer Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary, with whom he had a daughter, Alicia; and to actress Carol Wayne, with whom he had a son, Alex. In addition to his wife and two children, he is survived by three stepchildren, Erica Marshall and Jasper and Jake Jamison, and three grandchildren.

This may be the world's final ever Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day so, let's make it a good'un, eh? Pete and Dud, sing us a song whilst we wait for the end.
See you tomorrow, dear blog reader. Or, will I?

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