Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When I'm With Her I'm Happy

Damien Molony has been cast in series four of Being Human. The Irish actor will play vampire Hal, replacing Aidan Turner's character Mitchell who was killed in the last series finale. However, Molony insisted that his character will be very different to Mitchell. Molony told SFX: 'I'm actually playing an English vampire - very, very posh. Very upper class. Hal's not Mitchell 2. There's a lot of backstory to play with, and I assure you he's very, very different.' Molony added that Hal will dress smartly, saying: 'At the start, I'm a tweed suits man. Very well dressed - pressed shirts and cufflinks. The best part about playing a vampire is you get all the best clothes. I know some people have raided Aidan's wardrobe from last year and helped themselves to some coats and some jackets.' Being Human creator Toby Whithouse previously revealed that the fourth series of the show will take a journey 'to somewhere even we have never gone before.' Meanwhile, Craig Roberts has confirmed that he will return to Being Human for the show's upcoming fourth series.

Former EastEnders actor Paul Nicholls has joined ITV's hit drama series Law & Order: UK. Nicholls will join the cast ahead of a sixth series, which is scheduled to be broadcast in the New Year. The former Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Harley Street actor will play DS Sam Casey, who is described as a 'headstrong young officer with a sense of justice.' He will be brought in as part of a storyline about the shooting of DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber). Bradley Walsh, Harriet Walter, Freema Agyeman, Peter Davison and Dominic Rowan will all return for the seven-part run. The fifth series of Law & Order: UK achieved a 5.6 million average audience for the broadcaster during its summer run. Guest stars lined-up for series six include Tamzin Outhwaite, Toby Stephens, Eva Pope, Luke Roberts and Tim McInnerny.

Right, who wants to see a picture of Paul Whitehouse as Rowley Birkin QC (he was very, very drunk) in the new online reboot of The Fast Show? You all do, of course, dear blog reader. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping knows you only too well.
For the fourth time in five weeks, ITV's final weekly consolidated ratings figures have not been posted on the BARB website. Quite why ITV seem to be so reticent to reveal what their programmes actually got once timeshifts were added to initial overnight figures is, at this time, unknown. But, whatever it is, it's starting to appear more than a shade suspicious. In the meantime, in what's becoming something of regular feature on From The North, here's BBC1's Top Seventeen shows for week ending 9 October 2011:-
1 Strictly Come Dancing - Sun - 10.26m
2 EastEnders - Mon - 8.95m
3 Countryfile - Sun - 7.28m
4 Merlin - Sat - 6.80m
5 Hidden - Thurs - 6.09m
6 Antiques Roadshow - Sun - 5.96m
7 The Body Farm - Tues - 5.61m
8 Holby City - Tues - 5.42m
9 [spooks] - Sun - 5.31m
10 Casualty - Sat - 5.16m
11 Who Do You Think You Are? - Wed - 5.03m
12 Six O'Clock News - Sun - 4.93m
13 Outnumbered - Fri - 4.78m
14 Watchdog - Thurs - 4.51m
15 Waterloo Road - Wed - 4.50m
16 The ONE Show - Tues - 4.48m
17 Ten O'Clock News - Tues - 4.35m
BBC2's big three performers were The Great British Bake-Off with 5.06m, Qi (3.01m) and University Challenge (also 3.01m). Qi was also the most watched show on the BBC HD channel with an additional one hundred and ninety six thousand viewers. Dragon's Den, Rab C Nesbitt, Mock The Week, Home Cooking Made Easy and Autumnwatch also topped two million for BBC2. Channel Four's two highest rated shows were Grand Designs (2.99m) and Location, Location, Location (2.74m). The only Channel Five show to break the two million mark was an episode of CSI Miami (2.06m). By contrast, two Sky One shows managed that feat: An Idiot Abroad 2 (2.23m) and Terra Nova (2.01m). Elsewhere BBC4's highest rated show was Only Connect (seven hundred and fifty nine thousand). England's European Championship qualifier in Montenegro brought in an audience of 1.72m for Sky Sports 1 and Dave's highlight of the week was a repeat of Qi XL which had four hundred and seventy two thousand viewers.

The BBC's monthly iPlayer performances have been released. Check it out, there's some really aesthetically pleasing graphs therein. The popularity of series six of Doctor Who and Radio 4's The News Quiz helped BBC iPlayer notch up one hundred and fifty three million requests for TV and radio programming in September, the second highest monthly figures ever. The catch-up and on-demand platform generated thirty two million requests for content every week, breaking down as ten million for radio and twenty two million for TV. The service attracted 4.3m requests every single day, down on the record of 4.5m in February of this year, but up by one hundred thousand on the preceding month. Doctor Who dominated the most popular TV shows with four episodes in the top ten - including The Girl Who Waited at number one with 1.16m requests, and Night Terrors at number two with 1.12m. The God Complex and Closing Time came fourth and fifth respectively with 1.01m and nine hundred and sixty five thousand.
The most requested episode per series in September
01 - 1.16m - Doctor Who (episode ten)
02 - 1.04m - Outnumbered (episode one)
03 - 711k - Waterloo Road (episode eleven)
04 - 612k - Torchwood (episode eight)
05 - 604k - Planet Dinosaur (episode one)
06 - 583k - [spooks] (episode one)
07 - 526k - EastEnders (16 September episode
08 - 518k - Mock the Week (episode eight)
09 - 381k - Dragons' Den (episode six)
10 - 373k - Strictly Come Dancing (episode one
September 2011 saw BBC iPlayer receive a total of one hundred and fifty three million requests for TV and radio programmes, with newer devices continuing to grow in usage - tablet requests specifically rose from four million in August to 4.6m in September.

BBC regional journalists facing a forty per cent budget cut have reacted angrily after the corporation's director of news, Helen Boaden, suggested they 'grow up' and told them: 'We could have killed you off.' Jesus, they're really going out of their way to be as offensive as possible over this, aren't they? Boaden made the comments in a staff question and answer session about the BBC's Delivering Quality First cost-cutting proposals, which will see two thousand jobs axed as part of plans to save a total of seven hundred million a year. If these comments are accurate - which, of course, they  may not be - then let's all sincerely hope that Ms Boaden's job is not one of those that becomes surplus to requirements. BBC1's regional current affairs series Inside Out is expected to lose about forty jobs with its budget – believed to be around five million pounds. Staff used the Q&A to complain to Boaden that the cuts were falling disproportionately hard on the programme, which began in 2002. Boaden told them: 'I think we all need to grow up.' She later added: 'We could have killed you off.' A BBC 'source' allegedly told the Gruniad: 'People were shocked and angry that you have got a very senior manager talking to staff like this at a time when people are facing redundancy. No one is arguing that the BBC does not have to be a leaner and fitter organisation but what we care passionately about is the erosion of regional current affairs and local radio.' A BBC spokesman said that Boaden's comment were referring to a proposal, put forward early on in the DQF process and subsequently rejected, that Inside Out should be axed. 'There was a proposal during the DQF process to cancel Inside Out altogether. It was firmly rejected by Helen Boaden and David Holdsworth, the controller of English regions,' said the spokesman. 'As a former head of BBC current affairs, Helen Boaden is acutely aware of the risks posed to Inside Out by the cuts in BBC News. She has explained to staff that the priority in regional television is and must remain the 6.30pm and 10.30pm bulletins, which both have large audiences. For that reason she decided reluctantly to look for a greater proportion of savings from Inside Out. Although there will be sharing of programmes between adjoining regions, each of those regions will keep an Inside Out team focused entirely on generating current affairs coverage.' Boaden made the comments in a telephone Q&A last week which also included BBC director general Mark Thompson and English regions boss Holdsworth. BBC Cornwall managing editor Pauline Causey used the same Q&A to e-mail Thompson with her concerns about the impact of the cuts on local radio. Thompson was later criticised for telling staff on a visit to the BBC's Northern Ireland HQ in Belfast last Friday: 'If you're really that unhappy, if you think that you can't do your best work here, then leave – no one is forcing you to stay.'

Jamie Bamber has signed up for a guest role in House. The actor will play a patient in the show's upcoming 7 November episode The Confession, FOX revealed this week. Bamber's character is described as 'well-respected,' but when he suddenly collapses, the medical team discover that he has been 'hiding dark secrets' and 'lying about his personal and professional life.' The patient ends up telling the truth to his family and community, but endangers his chances of receiving the right medical treatment by doing so. Bamber previously starred in Band of Brothers, Battlestar Galactica and British series Outcasts and Law & Order: UK.

Now some news that'll make yer actual Keith Telly Topping's mate Malcolm very happy since he's a big fan. Sons of Anarchy has been renewed for a fifth season by FX. The critically-acclaimed drama has been ordered for thirteen new episodes when it broadcast next year. Its current fourth season is one of cable television's most watched shows. The season four premiere episode was the highest-rated drama in cable history, until The Walking Dead's season two premiere last week. FX president John Landgraf announced in a statement: 'Everyone at FX is very grateful to Kurt Sutter, his many writing, directing and producing collaborators and his masterful cast for making such a compelling and beautifully crafted show. It is no small challenge to bring the themes of a great, ancient play like Hamlet into a wholly original television setting and to tell this complex story in a way that is both riveting and accessible to a broad audience. The fans know how beautifully SOA meets this challenge, and we thank them for their loyal and passionate viewership.'

Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto has revealed that he is gay in a move designed to combat bullying. The actor, who plays Spock in the big screen revival of the popular TV format, said that he was moved to come out following the death of teenager Jamey Rodemeyer, who committed suicide after years of torment. Quinto made the move in a new blog post on his official website, saying: 'In the light of Jamey's death, it became clear to me that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality.' Last year, Quinto appeared in off-Broadway revival of Angels In America, playing a gay character who abandons his AIDs-stricken partner, a role he described as 'the most challenging thing I've ever done as an actor, and the most rewarding.' But he continued: 'At the same time, as a gay man, it made me feel like there's still so much work to be done, and there's still so many things that need to be looked at and addressed.' Quinto has also contributed to the It Gets Better campaign in the US, which aims to put an end to homophobic bullying, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He continued: 'Again, as a gay man I look at that and say there's a hopelessness that surrounds it, but as a human being I look at it and say "Why? Where's this disparity coming from, and why can't we as a culture and society dig deeper to examine that?" We're terrified of facing ourselves.' Quinto rose to fame playing the serial killer Sylar in Heroes, before landing the role of Spock.

Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie has 'slammed' (that's tabloid-speak for 'criticised') the 'cushy' benefits system in the UK for discouraging people from work. Speaking at the launch of Young Apprentice, the businessman criticised the previous Labour government for 'the benefits systems and the so-called apprenticeship schemes' which, he claimed, were used to move people 'out of the number crunching' of unemployment figures. 'There's too much of a culture that exists out there, what I call an expectancy culture, of things being provided,' Sugar-Sweetie said. 'I'm afraid to say that the goody-goody benefits system we have in this system has made it a bit too cushy for people. Now it's a kind of wake-up call. Not everybody needs to go to university, they can get out and start working straight away.' Yeah, or we could have a bit of good old fashioned 'back to Victorian values' like the Tories always seem to want during election campaigns. Then we can start taking pension books away and sticking twelve year olds up chimneys again, just like the Good Old Days. He added: 'We've gone through an era in the early '00s and late '90s where the young people have these targets and want to start up there. They're not interested in dirtying their hands down here. They want to be a dot com, they want to go to venture capitalists, they want someone to give them money, they want the bank to give them money because they have an idea. That's all gone. It's finished. That era is over. We've got to put that message across. You have got to start down there.' Sugar-Sweetie was offered a peerage and made an 'Enterprise Tsar' by former prime minister Gordon Brown in 2009, though he described the role as 'politically neutral' at the time. Sugar-Sweetie said: 'We want to try and show that you can start something from nothing and get away from this culture of university, then go on a gap year for two years, then get a job at some consultancy and then go on the dole.'

Matt Smith was named best SF actor at the Spike TV Scream Awards, while Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe took the honour for best fantasy actor. The event at Universal Studios in Los Angeles on Saturday night was a triumph for Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, which took six awards. It won the ceremony's top honour The Ultimate Scream, which Radcliffe accepted via a video link from New York, where he was surrounded by thousands of fans wearing silly costumes. The film also received the screenplay and special effects awards, while Ralph Fiennes was named best villain for Lord Voldemort and the Room of Requirement Fiendfire took the 'Holy Shit' scene of the year prize. Smith fought off competition from Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Harrison Ford and Jake Gyllenhaal to win best SF actor, but Doctor Who lost out to Game of Thrones in the top TV show category. The highlight of the night for many people was not the awards themselves, but a surprise appearance by Star Wars director George Lucas, who presented Darth Vader with a special Ultimate Villain honour.

Stephen Mangan says he decided not to join Cambridge University's famous Footlights group because he found it 'unwelcoming.' The actor studied law at Cambridge but said the group – PREVIOUSLY known for producing some of Britain's finest comic acting talent, from Peter Cook to Stephen Fry and John Cleese to Emma Thompson – 'was so cliquey and they were so unwelcoming that I just decided not to bother.' Mangan says Cambridge 'gave me three years to decide I didn't want to do law' – but HE claims comedy was not his original intention either. 'I always wanted to be a great classical actor,' he said. Since then, however, Mangan has forged a successful career as a comedy actor, starring in shows such as Green Wing and Episodes. Last Friday he appeared in the title role of the new Comic Strip Presents ... film The Hunt for Tony Blair and he is currently filming the first full series of quirky detective comedy drama Dirk Gently, based on books by yet another Footlights alumnus, the late Douglas Adams. Despite his feelings about Footlights – and law – Mangan still looks back on his university years wistfully and with some fondness. 'It was a wondrous three years cocooned in this very privileged environment in a beautiful city,' he said. Adding: 'Whenever I go back to Cambridge now, I feel this terrible sense of loss for my youth, and feel bitter and vengeful. The city is rather fickle. She doesn't seem to care that we've moved on but welcomes whoever's there now.'

A big-screen adaptation of The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp that was put on hold in August is set to go ahead, Disney has confirmed. The film, directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, will be released on 31 May 2013. Depp previously worked with both men on the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The Lone Ranger was set for a December 2012 release before Disney pulled the plug, reportedly due to concerns over its estimated two hundred and fifty million dollars budget. According to the The Hollywood Reporter, costs have now been reduced to a more conservative two hundred and fifteen million dollars. The Social Network star Armie Hammer will play the title character, while Depp will appear as his partner, Tonto. The show - about a masked hero battling injustice in the American West - was first broadcast on US radio in the 1930s before becoming a popular 1950s TV series. Writing via Twitter, Bruckheimer said he was 'excited for another adventure' with his Pirates collaborators.

Sirens has been cancelled by Channel Four after one series. The programme, which starred Rhys Thomas, Richard Madden and Kayvan Novak, focused on the lives of three paramedics. Thomas has now confirmed on his Twitter page that the show will not be returning with new episodes. 'To all of those people asking about Sirens, sadly Channel Four have not commissioned series two,' he wrote. 'So that's your lot I'm afraid.' Thomas continued: 'It's not always a bad thing. There was only one Singing Detective and one Boys From The Blackstuff. At least it never got a chance to go downhill.' That's always assuming that one considers the first series to have got - even slightly - up the hill. Persoanlly, I thought it was a sdhow with some good ideas but it never engaged me in the way I'd hoped from pre-publicity. Following comments from fans, Thomas also defended Channel Four, saying: 'Come on guys, calm down. It's only a TV programme. And less Channel Four bashing. If it wasn't for them it wouldn't have been made in the first place.' Author Brian Kellett, who wrote the book upon which Sirens was based, tweeted that 'obviously Channel Four are wrong.' However, he added: 'But at the end of the day, I got a TV series made out of my book. And got paid enough to clear all my debts. Mostly I'm sad that there are some actors and crew without a regular gig.' A Channel Four spokesperson confirmed the decision to Broadcast, saying: 'Sirens was commissioned as part of an exciting new crop of dramas for C4 in 2011. We were delighted with the finished show and the fact it consistently engaged with a loyal sixteen to thirty four audience but there are currently no plans for a second run.'

There's a rather convoluted and baffling piece by BBC Radio Leeds' Martin Kelner in the Gruinad entitled Gary Lineker and pals put their shirts on Match of the Day's future which appears to be about the utterly riveting subject of what the shirts that the Match of the Day panel are wearing says about ... something. Like I say, convoluted. 'Suddenly the shirts are getting interesting on Match Of The Day. Gary Lineker was wearing a dark blue number with a black collar on Saturday, a combination I have never seen before, while Alan Shearer wore grey (what else?), with black piping around the breast pocket and the button-holes, carrying definite echoes of the teddy boy era of the 1950s. Alan Hansen, who must not have got the memo about jazzing up the shirts, stuck with his traditional plain black. I am no Gok Wan, but I had not realised that two-tone shirts were making a comeback. The stripey shirt with the stiff white collar has never lost its popularity among lawyers, or small-town estate agents wishing to cut a dash at the Junior Chamber of Commerce. But Lineker's blue/black combo, and Shearer's Showaddywaddy-esque chemise – he eschewed the crepe-soled brothel creepers that the Leicester rock 'n' roll revivalists used to favour, sticking with plain black shoes – were something of a departure in the Saturday night football highlights world. I am wondering whether they are part of the BBC's exciting new commitment to delivering quality first.' I'm not, actually, sure which is the most offensive aspect of this ... thing. The suggestion that Shearer's shirt is Showaddywaddy-esque or the quite scummish linking of any story about the BBC - however tenuous - to Delivering Quality First. Two thousand of your colleagues are about to lose their jobs, Martin and you're, what, writing sarcastically about shirts? Still, I'm sure your mother is very proud of you.

Jamie Oliver has had a pop at sweary chefs, despite having been picked up for his own four-letter on-screen tirades. 'I don't like chefs that go round shouting and swearing,' the annoying full of his own importance waste-of-space told Radio Times.

Well-known faceache (and drag), Kelly Osbourne has continued her 'feud' with Christina Aguilera by branding Aguilera 'fat' on television again. The twenty six-year-old podge-bucket used her position as critic on E!'s Fashion Police to 'hit out' at The Voice judge when asked to comment on the black leotard and fishnet stockings ensemble Aguilera wore for the recent Michael Jackson tribute concert. Osbourne - no oil painting herself, let it be noted - said: 'She called me fat for years. I was never that fat.' Oh, I don't know about that, chuck. Aguilera, thirty, who gave birth to son Max in 2008, and Osbourne - who recently revealed she was made miserable by her weight issues as a teenager - have enjoyed an ongoing public spat for several years. Aguilera took part in a sketch at the MTV Europe Music Awards in November 2003, which showed her throwing darts at a photo of Kelly. When she arrived on-stage she mocked her Goth style, saying: 'Oh Lord, I didn't realise it was still Halloween.' Osbourne once said Aguilera's Christmas CD made her want to 'stab myself.' Obviously not that much since, as far as we know, she didn't. The reality TV regular - who spent years yo-yo dieting - also launched an expletive-fuelled rant claiming the singer was 'fat' on the E! fashion show in the summer.

Joe Swash, Russell Kane and Laura Whitmore will host ITV2's upcoming series of I'm a Z-List Fromer Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here Now. Jungle winner Swash has hosted the nightly spin-off alongside Caroline Flack since 2009, while comedian Kane has also worked on the programme before. Whitmore is best known as a presenter on MTV Europe. She said: '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!' Meanwhile, Kane - very popular with students but, personally, I've never seen what they find so funny in him - added: 'I'm as stoked as a Victorian fireplace to be going back jungle-side. Sharing a portacabin with Joe; what's not to love? And as for Whitmore. Phwoar!'

Metro's Keith Watson continues to be yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite reviewer. Mainly for things like this '"The story starts millions of years ago with an ape who stood upright and walked." No this wasn't the intro to Wayne Rooney's edition of Who Do You Think You Are? but Doctor Alice Roberts striding across the African savannah and coming over all Darwinian on Origins of Us.'
He once claimed to 'bear more grudges than lonely high court judges.' Now Morrissey wants his date in the high court to rebut years of allegations that he is a racist and a hypocrite. Lawyers for the former Smiths frontman told the court on Monday that the singer 'continues to suffer' reputational damage from a controversial interview which he gave to NME magazine four years ago in which he complained about an 'immigration explosion' leading to a loss of British identity. In a written submission, Morrissey said that his comments received 'a barrage of press' at the time, and added: 'Question marks over my being a racist have never since receded.' Morrissey is attempting to sue NME's former editor Conor McNicholas and its publisher, IPC Media, for libel over the interview. Although he was not in court for the hearing, Morrissey could be cross-examined before a jury if a trial goes ahead. Despite being dogged by fresh accusations in recent years, Morrissey has consistently denied being a racist. The singer's argument described the row as 'a classic case where vindication is the only remedy.' With a reference to the bitter stand-off that spans almost two decades – in 1992 NME accused him of 'flirting with disaster' and racist imagery after he wrapped a union flag around himself while on stage in Finsbury Park – lawyers acting for Morrissey told the court that 'the fight against NME is a matter of public record' and that 'the battle lines for the trial have been firmly drawn.' David Sherborne, acting for the singer, claimed that the 'extremely serious' and 'highly defamatory' allegations were designed purely to raise publicity for the magazine. However, lawyers for McNicholas and the NME told the court the claim should be thrown out as arrant nonsense. Catrin Evans, acting for the magazine, claimed that financial difficulties, a legal dispute in the US and an acrimonious fallout with his then manager had 'distracted' Morrissey from pursuing his claim against NME. Morrissey threatened legal action against the magazine in November 2007, days after the interview was published. According to Evans, the singer dropped the complaint for three years before recently reigniting the row. 'The court can infer from this that there has been such a delay that is not a genuine bid for vindication,' Evans said. '[The claim] simply didn't figure at the forefront of his mind.' Evans claimed that Morrissey 'by his own actions' has provoked 'more topical' accusations of racism – including an interview with the Gruniad in September 2010 in which he described Chinese people as a 'subspecies' – since the NME article was published. 'The fact that [Morrissey] has spent the three years since March 2008 recording albums, touring, promoting his new work and presumably doing well enough commercially to be able now to contemplate funding this libel claim, shows that his reputation has been unaffected. His fans apparently still love him,' Evans told the court rather sniffily. She's got a point though - I haven't noticed any great drop-off in Morrissey's chart positions over the last five years due to people not buying his records because of his political viewers. Rather, because he hasn't made many good records since You Are The Quarry. Although, I Just Want To See The Boy Happy' was pretty decent. And, 'The Youngest was The Most Love.' Actually, come to think of it, he's made some sodding great records since. She pointed out that the 'offending' interview had never been published online and continues to exist 'only in . Morrissey fans' bedrooms.' Britain's most senior libel judge, Mr Justice Tugendhat, is expected to decide on Tuesday whether the claim should go to trial. Morrissey could testify in court alongside his former manager, Merck Mercuriadis, as well as McNicholas, Krissi Murison-Hodge, formerly the deputy editor, and Tim Jonze, the interviewer. If the claim does go to trial, more than two hundred and fifty e-mails between the NME and Morrissey's manager, as well as a full transcript of the interview, would be used as evidence. Sherborne, acting for Morrissey, claimed that the documents 'speak for themselves.' In one e-mail sent to Morrissey's manager two days before the interview was published, McNicholas is quoted as saying that 'no one is accusing Morrissey of racism – that would be mad given what Morrissey says.' According to Morrissey's argument, Jonze told Morrissey in a follow-up interview that McNicholas 'doesn't think you have a problem with other races but it sounds like you wouldn't like someone [non-British] to move in next door to you.' In the interview, Morrissey was quoted as saying that 'the gates of England are flooded. The country's been thrown away.' Asked by the interviewer whether he would return to live in Britain, Morrissey is quoted: 'With the issue of immigration, it's very difficult because, although I don't have anything against people from other countries, the higher the influx into England the more the British identity disappears.' Lawyers acting for the magazine argue that a fair trial would be impossible given that it would rely on the accurate recall of editorial decisions made five years ago. The court heard that the published article was amended three times between 18 November and 21 November before it was eventually published on 28 November. McNicholas, whose seven-year editorship of the NME was characterised largely by the well-publicised row, was in court for the three-hour hearing on Monday.

The attorney general has launched contempt of court proceedings against the Daily Scum Mail and the Daily Mirra over their coverage of Levi Bellfield's conviction for the abduction and murder of schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Bellfield was convicted on 23 June this year but the judge dismissed the Old Bailey jury before they could reach a verdict on a second charge, that he had also attempted to abduct schoolgirl Rachael Cowles, blaming media coverage. The judge, Mr Justice Wilkie, said the publicity after Bellfield's conviction for Milly Dowler's murder was so prejudicial that the jury could not be expected to consider the further charge. Dominic Grieve QC, the attorney general, filed papers in relation to the contempt of court charges in the divisional court on Friday. The attorney general's office said: 'An application was filed on behalf of the [attorney general] in the divisional court on Friday in respect of coverage of this case in the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail. The hearing hasn't been listed yet.' Wilkie said in June that the media coverage had strayed into allegations 'of a hugely prejudicial nature' and described it as 'most unfortunate and, in a sense, deplorable. The only person who is going to be affected by what has happened and most affected adversely has been Rachel Cowles and her family,' said the judge. 'She has had to live for nine years with what happened to her and she has given evidence in court which has no doubt been an ordeal for her. As a result of the trigger being pulled too soon on what would otherwise have been proper and appropriate material, I have been put in a position where I am obliged to discharge the jury from reaching a verdict in her case. It is no longer possible for any jury in receipt of this volume and nature of material to give fair and proper consideration to its verdicts at this stage.' In July the Daily Mirra and the Sun were both found to have seriously breached the Contempt of Court Act with their coverage of the arrest of a suspect - later released without charge - in the Joanna Yeates murder case. The Mirra was fined fifty thousand smackers and the Sun eighteen thousand quid. Quite why their respective editors weren't jailed as a warning to other tabloid scum not to be so effing stupid again is, at this time, unknown. Because, let's be clear about it, that's what it's going to take - a Paul Darce or a Richard Wallace getting banged up in pokey with all of the murderers and the rapists and the people who nick stuff from Morrison's. One or two six month stretches for contempt and such prejudicial coverage would stop instantly.

Pakistan's former Test cricket captain was accused of match-fixing only after a former agent 'grossly abused' his trust, a court has heard. Salman Butt was named by agent Mazhar Majeed as one of several players allegedly involved in a scheme to fix parts of the Lord's match last summer, Southwark Crown Court was told. Ali Bajwa QC, defending Butt, said he was only on trial because of the words of his former friend and agent. Butt, twenty seven, denies match fixing. Prosecutors allege that agent Majeed conspired with Butt and bowler Mohammad Asif, twenty eight, to fix parts of the match between Pakistan and England by delivering three deliberate no-balls. Both Butt and Asif deny charges of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments. The case stems from a sting operation by the former Scum of the World newspaper which prompted claims that the men accepted bribes to fix parts of the match. Defending Butt, Bajwa said: 'We say Salman Butt only finds himself here on trial accused of these charges because of the words of his former friend and agent, Mazhar Majeed. We say Mazhar Majeed has grossly abused the trust that Mr Butt placed in him by naming him, Mr Butt, to the journalist as a person involved in match fixing.' Bajwa also explained why Butt told police in an interview that it was 'a freakish coincidence' that the no-balls were bowled exactly when Majeed said they would be. He told the court: 'That is not, and has never been, part of Mr Butt's defence. We suggest to you that Mr Butt advanced that as a possible explanation, not as a statement of fact.' The case continues.

Several foreign-owned Premier League clubs want to scrap relegation, according to League Managers Association chief Richard Bevan. Bevan fears that if more clubs are sold to foreign investors they may have enough votes to force changes. But the Premier League said that relegation and promotion were part of its rules and added to the league's strength. Bevan hopes that a parliamentary inquiry into football goverance would also help prevent the proposal. 'We're very keen that the report is successful in helping the Football Association introduce a licensing programme for clubs,' he said. 'Because there are a number of overseas-owned clubs already talking about bringing about the avoidance of promotion and relegation in the Premier League. If we have four or five more new owners, that could happen.' Nearly half of the Premier League's twenty clubs are under the yoke of foreign ownership, with rules stipulating that if changes are to be made to the format, fourteen clubs must vote in favour of any new reforms. Currently Aston Villains, Liverpool Red Socks, The Scum and Relegation-Bound Blunderland are all owned by Americans and Blackburn Vindaloos, Moscow Chelski FC, Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance, Sheikh Yer Manchester City and Queens Park Strangers are owned by various other assorted Johnny Foreigners. Arsenal's Stan Kroenke - another 'gentleman from foreign parts' - is a majority shareholder in the Gunners. The Premier League told BBC Sport that the move would be 'a non-starter,' with the Football Association retaining the power to veto any proposals concerning relegation and promotion. A Premier League spokesman also said that they did not recognise LMA chief executive Bevan's claims, which come a week after the government demanded changes to the way that football is run. Sports minister Hugh Robertson said that an FA-led licensing system would be brought in to safeguard against issues such as financial mismanagement, asset-stripping owners and tax avoidance. The government also asked for rules to manage club debts and an overhaul of the FA board. Last Wednesday, Liverpool's greed-bucket managing director Ian Ayre also said the Premier League's overseas television revenues should be skewed in favour of 'big clubs.' Although, as noted at the time, quite how he sees Liverpool falling into that particular category is, at this time, unknown.

Meanwhile Glasgow Rangers FC has withdrawn 'all co-operation' with the BBC over what the Scottish club said is a 'pre-determined negative attitude towards' it this season from the corporation. The Ibrox side said that several instances of reporting on Rangers by the BBC had been 'neither accurate or fair,' while there have been 'repeated difficulties' with the broadcaster. Rangers also said that a BBC Scotland documentary on the club, due to be broadcast this Thursday, was 'little more than a prejudiced muckraking exercise.' At the start of the Scottish football season in July, the editor of BBC Six and Ten O'Clock News apologised to Rangers over an 'inappropriate edit' in a report on the cost of policing Old Firm matches. In the same month, Rangers manager Ally McCoist - 'it's only a wee stain! - banned the BBC from interviews and press conferences after accusing the corporation of editing footage to suggest he was making light of football violence. A statement posted on the Rangers website said that this decision to impose the BBC boycott was taken 'very reluctantly,' but the club felt that it had been 'left with no other option. The club was forced earlier in the season to suspend co-operation with the BBC over its serious misrepresentation of the club manager's position on violence and sectarianism,' said Rangers. 'There have also been other instances where the BBC's reporting on the club's affairs has been neither accurate or fair. Furthermore, over the last few weeks the BBC has been involved in making a documentary about the club which appears to be little more than a prejudiced muckraking exercise. Efforts to ensure that reporting of the club's affairs should be balanced and fair appear to have been in vain. The club believes that the BBC has on a number of occasions now demonstrated a pre-determined negative attitude towards Rangers and its fans, and its journalism has fallen well short of acceptable standards. The decision to end co-operation with the BBC has been taken very reluctantly but the club feels it has been left with no other option.'

ITV has announced plans to buy Channel Television, the commercial TV broadcaster in the Channel Islands, in a move designed to consolidate the Channel Three network. The broadcaster has entered an agreement to buy Channel Television from its owner, the Yattendon Group, for an undisclosed fee. Should competition authorities in Jersey approve the takeover, it would give ITV control of the broadcaster which has been on air since 1962 serving around one hundred and fifty thousand people in the Channel Islands. The deal would also give ITV ownership of twelve of the UK's fifteen Channel Three franchises, leaving just STV's Scottish TV and Grampian TV licenses in Scotland, and the Northern Ireland franchise held by UTV. In a short statement to the London Stock Exchange, ITV said: 'ITV plc announces that it has entered into an agreement with Yattendon plc to acquire Channel Television subject to the approval of the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority.' Alongside broadcasting to the Channel Islands, Channel Television makes money by providing legal compliance services for major ITV shows such as The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent. Channel and ITV clashed in 2009 after media regulator Ofcom fined the Jersey-based broadcaster eighty thousand smackers for serious breaches of voting regulations in ITV's British Comedy Awards. On 14 December 2005, Channel TV allowed the production team to override viewer votes for the 'People's Choice Award' so that Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway got the prize rather than actual winner The Catherine Tate Show. After ITV said that it had 'a lack of confidence in the compliance procedures of Channel Television' and imposed a system of 'double compliance,' Channel TV said that it was 'dismayed that our colleagues in ITV have seen fit to call into question our record.' The broadcaster highlighted that in 2008, Ofcom described ITV as having a 'completely inadequate compliance system' for many of its top shows, leading to a record fine of £5.68m for 'seriously and repeatedly misleading its audience' on eighty six separate occasions during a four-year period.

MPs have been accused of being 'on the skive' in a row over an autumn mini-break for members. The Commons will close on Tuesday 15 November and not return until the following Monday under a timetable published by the Commons leader of the house Sir George Young. But RMT transport union general secretary Bob Crow says that MPs should be at work at a time when 'normal working people are struggling round the clock to make ends meet. We will take no more of the "we are all in this together" rubbish from this crowd,' he added. Oh, if only that were actually true.

One MP who will likely be getting more than his fair share of 'time to spend with the family' in future is the former Defence Secretary Liam Fox. Who was, reportedly, 'warned about his working relationship with Adam Werritty,' according to the Daily Torygraph. The paper claims that Sir Gus O'Donnell's report will conclude Fox was warned a number of times about the risks of associating with Werritty. The report, set to be published on Tuesday, is expected to conclude Fox broke the ministerial code. But it will say Fox did not gain financially from the arrangement. Although whether Werritty did is another matter entirely. Fox resigned on Friday of last week, saying that he had allowed his 'personal loyalties' and 'professional responsibilities' to 'become blurred.' It followed a week of pressure about his links to Werritty, a friend who was not an employee of the government, or Conservative Party but who had met up with Fox on eighteen overseas trips and had carried cards describing himself as his adviser. On Tuesday Downing Street revealed that Werritty had met two other defence ministers - Lord Astor and Gerald Howarth - but said the Foreign Office had no record of their ministers having met him, nor was there any record of Werritty attending meetings in Downing Street. The prime minister's official spokesman said: 'There is no record of him coming to Downing Street. The prime minister has no recollection of meeting this person. He was not aware of his name, until he was talked about by the media.' The BBC News Channel's chief political correspondent Norman Smith said the report was expected to be eight or nine pages long and quite narrowly focused on Fox and the ministerial code. Labour have said further details must be made public of any donations Fox or Werritty 'solicited' on behalf of 'organisations they were involved with.' These include Atlantic Bridge - a now defunct charity Fox founded to promote Anglo-American relations - and Pargav, which Werritty reportedly set up as a not-for-profit company to fund his trips abroad. Labour's shadow defence minister Kevan Jones told the BBC: 'David Cameron last week said that this report would cover all the remaining questions and if it's narrowly focused, it won't. We need to know, not only what Liam Fox was up to, but the relationships not only with the donors but all other cabinet ministers that were clearly involved with Dr Fox's Atlantic Bridge organisation.'

And, from a fox to another of God's fluffy woodland creatures. A squirrel has caused electricity to be cut off for fifteen thousand people. The outage in Greenwich lasted a few hours before power was restored. The power cut occurred during a morning when the squirrel damaged equipment at a Connecticut Light & Power substation, reports the Metro. Traffic lights were also affected, which forced local police to help with directing rush hour traffic. A spokesman for Connecticut Light & Power revealed that the squirrel had died instantly after receiving tens of thousands of volts. Aw, poor little Tufty.

A high school in Illinois has enforced a new rule, restricting students to three bathroom breaks in class per semester. If students attending the Evergreen Park High School in Chicago exceed the allocated number of breaks, they are required to stay behind after school to make up the time missed. The teachers, however, will have the final say on whether to stick to the new policy, reports the Southtown Star. Mother Linda Gigliello has criticised the rule, stating: 'It's not only that they have to make up the time. It takes up time after school when they may be in a club or have a team practice or catch a bus.' The school principal defended the scheme, saying that the policy will stop students from excusing themselves to get out of class. He also added that students are free to use the bathroom in the five minutes between lessons. Linda's daughter Dominique, fifteen, suggested that there isn't enough time particularly given the sparse number of open toilets around the school.

As rumoured for the past few days, influential Manchester indie-rock band The Stone Roses have announced the end of a fifteen-year split for a series of gigs. The band will play two shows at Heaton Park, Manchester, on 29 and 30 June before an 'extensive' a world tour. At a London press conference, singer Ian Brown said his friendship with John Squire had been repaired and the group hoped to release a new record soon. The Manchester band, which was formed in 1983, recorded just two LPs before they dissolved in 1996. Their 1989 self-titled debut is regarded by many - this blogger included - as a seminal work, combining psychedelic pop and funky basslines and drums. The best quote I ever heard about it was somebody once describing the LP as 'like The Byrds with James Brown's drummer.' The classic line-up of the band were all present for Tuesday's announcement: Brown, John Squire, Mani (Gary Mounfield) and Reni (Alan Wren). The band said that the death of Mani's mother earlier this year was the catalyst which brought them back together, even though the bassist had poured scorn on reunion rumours which surfaced shortly after the funeral. Asked at the press conference how long the reunion would last, Mani said it was a 'suck it and see thing,' while Reni said that he 'would be happy with twelve months.' 'We will ride it as long as we can,' Brown added. However, the band were unable to confirm any festival rumours. Mani added he had been allowed to leave his current band, Primal Scream, 'to follow his dream.' Reni - who said he had been busy with fatherhood since the band split up - aid it was 'a bit like Everest' for men of their age to attempt a comeback. The band admitted they each had personal reasons for the reunion, however Brown criticised the current music scene, saying it was 'boring, bland and corporate with nobody saying anything' and that people 'needed uplifting in times like this.' Supposedly named after a novel by Sarah Gainham (or The Jam song 'English Rose', sources vary!), the band were at the forefront of the Madchester indie-scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which also spawned the likes of The Happy Mondays, The Charlatans, james and The Inspiral Carpets (and, indirectly, and a few years later, Oasis). They scored several hit singles including 'Fools Gold', 'I Wanna Be Adored', 'She Bangs The Drums', 'Waterfall', 'I Am The Resurrection', 'One Love' and 'Love Spreads' - their biggest hit, reaching number two in 1994. In the year their debut LP came out, they topped NME magazine's readers' poll in four categories - best new band, band of the year, album of the year and single of the year, for 'Fools Gold.' Legal wranglings as they tried to part company with their original record label kept the band occupied until 1991, after which they took another three years to produce the follow-up, The Second Coming. Five years in the making, heavier and more lyrically introsepctive and downbeat than the debut this, nevertheless, has many champions and it has arguably aged as well, if not better, than The Stone Roses. Reni quit in 1995, followed months later, acrimoniously, by Squire. The band struggled on for another six months with former Simply Red session guitarist Aziz Ibrahim before finally splitting up against a backdrop of internal arguments and legal cases. Brown went on to pursue an erratic but always fascinating solo career (and made a brief acting cameo in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) while Mani joined Primal Scream. Squire formed his own band The Seahorses and has also forged a career as an artist. Reni was the most enigmatic of the quartet and largely disappeared from the public eye after their dissolution. In recent years, rumours of a Stone Roses reunion have regularly made the press, only to be quickly scotched by individual members of the band. Earlier this year, Squire told NME: 'When it's just a get-together for a big payday and everyone gets their old clothes out, that seems tragic to me.' He added that he had not been approached with any concrete financial plans for a Stone Roses reunion. Tuesday's announcement, supposed to be a surprise, had been heavily trailed by tabloid newspapers. One person who knew in advance was New Order's Peter Hook, who told BBC 6Music he had been 'tipped off last week. Because the band had such a short life, there was always this wish that they would reform - because they burned quite brightly and disappeared,' he said. 'I think that they'll make their own magic. We're all ready to celebrate the Stone Roses coming back because we all want to celebrate that wonderful, golden period in Manchester history.' Hinting at how the band members had made peace with one another, Hook said: 'When you talk face-to-face and you look into someone's eyes, it's definitely a much easier and much stronger way of communicating than doing it through your lawyers. You find the thing you loved about each other at the start.'

The latest Keith Telly Topping's Beatles 45(s) of the Day From Around the World features some Beatles For Sale. I mean, quite literally. Take 'Eight Days A Week' in New Zealand, for instance.
Or, 'Every Little Thing' in Japan (in really garish pink vinyl an'all).
And, lastly, proof that you could actually buy 'Kansas City' in, well, Kansas City. And, everywhere else in the US for that matter.
And finally
Fair comment, I reckon.

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