Thursday, November 17, 2011

Demon Rhymes Like A Script From Fright Night

Twenty-one years after James Herriot last put his hand up a cow's back passage, the much-loved vet is returning to the small screen this Christmas in a spin-off of All Creatures Great and Small. But viewers of BBC1's Young Herriot will see the Yorkshire Dales swapped for urban deprivation in 1930s Glasgow as the drama follows the young vet as he learns his trade at college alongside his close friends, feminist Whirly Tyson and aristocrat Rob McAloon. In its heyday, All Creatures Great and Small, based on the diaries of real-life vet Alf Wight, who wrote under the pseudonym James Herriot, pulled in audiences of about thirteen million. It was broadcast by the BBC between 1977 and 1990. Young Herriot is part of a trend for telling the story of popular TV and film characters in their youth. ITV is making a prequel to Inspector Morse called Endeavour, while the BBC put the early years of Only Fools and Horses in the spotlight in Rock & Chips. Although, that was rubbish and nobody watched it. And from the US there is a plan for a prequel to Sex and the City. Young Herriot executive producer Cameron Roach said he thought the trend was due to the recession and nostalgia. 'We've discussed this and think that in these kinds of recessionary times, people want the reassurance of a product that they know,' Roach said. 'They want to go on a journey during a series but ultimately know it's going to be all right because it's about because it's about characters they know and love. Viewers also want to know what informed the characters and made them the person they are.' Roache added: 'Of course everyone remembers All Creatures Great and Small with great affection but we wanted Young Herriot to be a different proposition for a Twenty First Century audience. It's so rare to have three young leads in a period drama.' With other period dramas such as ITV's Downton Abbey coming under fire - from pedants - over its supposed lack of historical accuracy, the producers have sought to ensure that Young Herriot is packed with authentic details. 'We are under pressure for accuracy because of what's happened to other series,' Roache admitted. 'We are confident in terms of period detail as we were lucky to have access to the diaries that Alf Wight wrote at the time and have so much information about what the science and life was like in the 1930s – where people went hungry and there was no NHS.' Young Herriot co-writer Eileen Gallagher said they had felt under pressure to ensure the three-part drama lived up to the expectations of All Creatures Great and Small fans. She added that the new series had the full support of the family of Wight. Christopher Timothy played Herriot in the original series, which also starred Robert Hardy, Peter Davison, Carol Drinkwater and, later, Lynda Bellingham. Young Herriot features rising star Iain de Caestecker, who plays the trainee vet with a Scottish accent. That may confuse some All Creatures Great and Small fans as Timothy's character did not have an accent, but Wight was raised on the edge of Glasgow. Unusually for a BBC1 drama, it has three young leads, with de Caestecker joined by Ben Lloyd-Hughes, who plays McAloon and Outcasts actress Amy Manson, who plays Tyson. Three episodes of Young Herriot have been filmed and, although the series begins in Glasgow, it goes on to feature the vet's exploits in the countryside. Young Herriot was created by producer Kate Croft and the now-deceased All Creatures Great and Small screenwriter Johnny Byrne. Croft said she was proud of the series, 'but it is sad that Johnny is not here to see it.' Byrne, who wrote twenty nine episodes of All Creatures Great and Small, died in 2008.

Simon Pegg has claimed that he would turn down the lead role in a Doctor Who movie. The one that's likely not going to be made. The Adventures of Tintin star told his followers on Twitter that current star Matt Smith is the best man for the role. 'Why is everyone speculating about who should play the Doctor in the Doctor Who movie?' he asked. 'Matt Smith is the Doctor, he should fucking play him!' Pegg added that he has no interest in returning to Doctor Who following his guest stint in 2005 episode The Long Game. 'It's nice to be thought of but I do not want the part [of the Doctor] and would not accept if it were offered to me,' he wrote. 'I did my Who time and I died. The end.' Matt Smith confirmed last year that he would be eager to star in a Doctor Who film. 'I would be thrilled if there could be a movie version,' he said. 'I want them to do it. There is something brilliantly televisual about Doctor Who but I think it could definitely work as a film.'

Matt Smith himself, meanwhile, is proving just how skint the BBC currently are by being forced to sell off his clothes. Doctor Who fans will get a chance to buy Matt's costume as part of Children in Need. The actor's outfit from the acclaimed Neil Gaiman-written episode The Doctor's Wife, written by the acclaimed Neil Gaiman his very self, will go up for auction on Friday night. A teaser of the Doctor Who Christmas special will be broadcast as part of this year's broadcast. There will also be a sketch, written by showrunner Steven Moffat, which will see the Doctor offer viewers the chance to win his famed tweed jacket, bow-tie and other items. 'I'd say the tweed jacket or the bow-tie are the most iconic - although the boots are my personal favourite,' said Matt. 'I hope people donate generously for BBC Children in Need because it's a wonderful cause - and we've got to beat last year's total.' The online auction will be conducted at and will close on Monday 21 November. The successful bidder will also win a copy of the sketch script written signed by Matt Smith. In addition, the title of this year's Doctor Who Christmas special will be revealed during the Children in Need broadcast and viewers will be treated to an exclusive sneak peek of the festive adventure.

Meanwhile, BBC Careers have this week published details for a role with BBC Worldwide as the Commercial Director of Doctor Who: 'This role is in the brand management team with responsibility for the Doctor Who brand specifically. The Commercial Director is responsible for directing all commercial aspects of the brand, running its P&L, representing the brand internally and externally, and managing and protecting the brand in general. In addition to approving products and communications relating to the brand, you'll also identify and develop new business opportunities, including creating and executing a five year plan for the brand.' The role is part of BBC Worldwide's Global Brands division, within the Adults Brands Team, which also looks after shows like Top Gear and Strictly Come Dancing/Dancing with the Stars. The position will be based at their London Media Centre and has a closing date of 22 November. The role specifically refers to 'a five year plan,' which is good news for Doctor Who from a commercial perspective if nothing else.

Robbie Savage has claimed that 'Strictly Come Dancing stopped people hating me.' Errr ... not guilty, I'm afraid, Rob.
The British scum tabloids were accused of scummish misdemeanours and various disgraceful scummery, including 'blackmail, intrusion, harassment, hounding and bullying' by a barrister representing some of the alleged victims of their alleged behaviour at the Leveson inquiry. In a detailed and, at times, devastating attack on the popular press which lasted for over three hours, David Sherborne told the inquiry such alleged practices were 'systemic, flagrant and deeply entrenched.' They were employed, he claimed, in order to 'satisfy an insatiable public appetite for salacious gossip' in the pursuit of profit and could rarely, if ever, be justified on 'public interest' grounds. So, dear blog reader, it's all our fault. And, in a way, the chap's got a point. Phone-hacking at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World was 'widespread,' Sherborne added, and the information intercepted by the scum newspaper was used as 'quotes from pals' or 'just to stand-up stories.' Sherborne offered a flavour of the evidence the inquiry will hear next week, when witnesses including Sheryl Gascoigne, Charlotte Church, JK Rowling and Chris Jefferies, who was wrongly accused of murdering Joanne Yeates, will appear in person. Jefferies, said Sherborne, had been the subject of 'a media feeding-frenzy of almost unprecedented proportions' after his arrest. Other witnesses will include Steve Coogan and Ian Hurst, an ex-army intelligence officer who alleges that the Scum of the World hacked into his e-mails. Some victims had their home addresses made public, Sherborne said, and in many case had seen their friends, families and employees targeted by the tabloids. Max Mosley, who won a deliciously satisfying privacy case against the Scum of the World, believed that his son's death from a drug overdose was linked to Mosley's treatment at the hand of the press, Sherborne claimed. 'He was mobbed by journalists at the house even though he had written to newspaper editors asking to be left alone.' A reporter wore a disguise in an attempt to gain entry to Mosley's son's funeral, it was alleged. Mosley will appear before the inquiry on Thursday. Sherborne said another witness, former Premier League footballer Garry Flitcroft, whose affair was revealed by the Sunday People, believed its coverage contributed to the suicide of his father, who was suffering from Parkinson's disease. The children of Rowling, who has fought a long battle with Fleet Street to try to avoid press intrusion, had notes placed in their school bags, Sherborne claimed. Gerry and Kate McCann, whose daughter Madeleine went missing in Portugal in 2007, will also give evidence to the inquiry – was set up in the summer by David Cameron desperate to appear as though he was doing something in the wake of the public revulsion felt by various revelations in the phone-hacking scandal. Sherborne described the McCanns treatment by the press as a 'national scandal.' He said Gerry had described Kate as feeling 'mentally raped' when the Scum of the World ran the contents of a private diary she had written to her daughter following her disappearance. The lawyer claimed that it had been presented in such a way that it created the impression it had been published with her permission: 'On what grounds did they think they could justify such a staggering intrusion into the McCanns' privacy?' he asked, rhetorically: 'There are the stories behind the headlines. This is the real, brutally real, impact this kind of journalism has.' Lawyers representing Britain's biggest newspaper groups, including the Daily Scum Mail's owner, Associated Newspapers, and News International, which publishes the Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times, listened in stony silence as the worst excesses of the gutter press were exposed. The claim that at least twenty eight Scum of the World journalists were involved in hacking phones was withdrawn by the inquiry QC Robert Jay, however, after Scotland Yard made clear it 'could not be sure' that specific number of journalists had been named in notebooks seized from Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator employed by the paper. Neil Garnham QC, for the Metropolitan police, said: 'Some of them probably are. For many others, it's impossible, at least thus far, to say whether they were or not.' Sherborne concluded by arguing: 'Self-regulation through the PCC, as one of my clients says, is tantamount to handing the police station over to the mafia' – echoing claim made last week by the Labour MP Tom Watson (power to the people!) that News International had acted like a 'mafia organisation.' The inquiry has been asked to recommend how the industry should be regulated in the future after the PCC, which is funded by newspapers, accepted News International's assurances in 2009 that phone hacking was the work of a single 'rogue reporter.' A claim that at least some at the paper knew then was a lie but which News International continued to stick to as a defence until January of this year. That, alone, was widely regarded as 'proof' that the PCC had totally and utterly failed as a regulator. Oily Alan Rusbridger, the Gruniad's editor-in-chief, told the inquiry that the phone-hacking scandal had exposed the 'dogs that didn't bark.' Parliament, police, the PCC and the press itself had all, spectacularly, failed to investigate his own paper's revelations about hacking, he argued. He raised the prospect of the PCC being superseded by a 'beefed-up body' which could mediate in disputes between public and press, which he called 'the Press Standards and Mediation Commission. It could then be a one-stop shop disputes resolution service so that people seldom had to go to law to resolve their differences with newspapers,' he said. 'It would be quick, responsive and cheap.' Leveson hinted he might support such a proposal: 'I would like to investigate the idea of having some sort of service that allows for the resolution of disputes between members of the public and the press short of the courts,' he said.

Meanwhile, in one of the most remarkable moments of the inquiry so far, it was claimed that the mother of Hugh Grant's daughter had received 'a barrage of threatening phone calls' whilst the actor was appearing on the BBC's Question Time to talk about the closure of the Scum of the World. Sherborne claimed that 'Whilst Mr Grant was appearing on Question Time, discussing the closure of the News of the World, Rupert Murdoch and press standards generally, she received a barrage of telephone calls from a withheld number from someone who managed to get it from somewhere, and when they finally answered she was threatened in the most menacing terms, which should reverberate around this inquiry: "Tell Hugh Grant he must shut the fuck up." Unsurprisingly she was too stressed to call the police.' The barrister also claimed that Tinglan Hong's mother was 'almost run over' by paparazzi in the weeks after Grant became one of the most prominent critics of News International. He told Lord Justice Leveson that the incidents had been reported to the Metropolitan police. Near the end of his lengthy diatribe against tabloid press ethics and behaviour in general, the lawyer said that he had 'secured an emergency injunction' on behalf of the mother of Hugh Grant's child. Sherborne claimed that the 'real' reason for her injunction is that she has received threats because the father of her child has spoken out against the press. Grant appeared on Question Time on 7 July to discuss phone-hacking. On the same day News International announced the closure the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World following the revelation that the paper had accessed the voicemail of murdered teenager Milly Dowler. Leveson told Sherborne he had presented 'one side' of alleged press intrusion 'very graphically' and he wanted to be satisfied that he has 'a full picture of the incidents' the QC made claims about. Sherborne also told the inquiry that the parents of Madeleine McCann 'begged for restraint' from blatant intrusion into their private lives by the Scum of the World. Their pleas were ignored. He claimed that the now-defunct tabloid newspaper published Kate McCann's private letters to her missing daughter without consent and even before her husband Gerry had seen them. Charlotte Church will also give evidence as a core participant to the inquiry. Sherborne told the high court that Church had been hounded incessantly by photographers 'looking for a scoop' – and as recently as a week ago was the subject of 'a complete fabrication' published in one unnamed newspaper. He claimed that Church's mother attempted suicide shortly after the Scum of the World published a story in 2005 alleging that Church's father was having an affair. 'This is the real, brutally real impact this kind of journalism has,' Sherborne said.

South Park will continue to air until 2016, it has been announced. Comedy Central revealed that the Trey Parker and Matt Stone animated comedy, which it renewed in June, will be given a three-season extension to reach a milestone Twentieth season. Michele Ganeless, president of the cable network, said in a statement: 'The collective genius of Matt and Trey knows no bounds. Week after week and season after season they continue to surprise and delight South Park fans, and that includes all of us here at Comedy Central. We're thrilled that the adventures of Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman will continue through 2016.' Creators Stone and Parker have been running the Emmy-winning show since 1997.

Robert Sheehan and Sheridan Smith are among the stars who have signed up to appear in the second series of BBC1's drama Accused. The show, created by embittered old red Jimmy McGovern, will return with four more episodes next year. The first instalment stars former Shameless actress Anne-Marie Duff and Rev and Peep Show's Olivia Colman as mothers determined to do the right thing in a fight against crime. The sons will be played by Waterloo Road's Oliver Lee and Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who has appeared in movies such as Love Actually and Nanny McPhee. The episode will also feature former Skins actor Joe Dempsie as a fearsome gang leader. Meanwhile, Sheehan will appear in the second episode as a teenager concerned about the palliative care given to his mother by her nurse, played by Smith. Sheehan's character Stephen becomes increasingly worried about his brother Dom (Josh Bolt) and begins to argue with his father, played by popular Scouse comedian John Bishop. Filming on the first two episodes is due to be completed before Christmas, whilst the second pair will be finished by February.

Miserable bitter old has been Adrian Edmondson has criticised the BBC for its 'non-decision making' and lack of investment in TV comedy. Edmondson, who starred in BBC hit The Young Ones in the 1980s, told the Digital Spy website that the broadcaster is 'full of wankers.' Having had some - very minor - dealings with Edmondson in the past, this blogger would like it noted at this point, that this appears to be somewhat a case of a pot-kettle-black-type situation. That's all I'm saying. The comic claimed that he knew many people who had given up on comedy shows because it had become 'too gruelling' attempting to get a project developed by the broadcaster. 'TV scripted comedy is so hard to get on that it's almost pointless trying. There's only one channel that make it and that's the BBC. And they are full of wankers,' he said. 'They are the biggest non-decision makers in the world. Some of them are very nice people, but they haven't thought of even saying "no" to anything. A "no" is better than an "mmmm." They don't understand the creative process. I know lots of people who have given up submitting stuff because it's just too gruelling.' Yeah. So, basically, what we have here is another example of Tony Garnett Syndrome. That age-old truism that people in television just haven't got a buggering clue how lucky they are to do the job they do rather than working in a call centre and, thus, spend much of their time whinging that things aren't just so. Instead of, you know, being grateful that they're - occasionally - given money to go off an make TV programmes. So, can we have a quick recount on just whom the actual 'wankers' are here, please? He continued: 'There isn't as much comedy, that's just a fact of programming. A man I know who used to be the head of BBC Comedy, told me that it used to be something like twenty hours of comedy on BBC2 a week. Now it's something like six. It's just a massive reduction, isn't it?' Speaking about the current state of TV comedy, Edmondson was critical of the focus on panel shows. 'There's a lot of people being witty, but there's not much comedy. There's not many gags. Just lots of people being clever,' he said. 'There's lots of people just having the kind of conversation you would have at a dinner party.' He added: 'There's nothing wrong with panel shows. They're light and frothy. But they're not meaningful comedy. You don't think, "Oh I must watch this." It's just a few blokes. You don't want the box set of Eight Out Of Ten Cats do you? Nothing against the show, its fine. Same with Buzzcocks. I like Buzzcocks, but it's not box set comedy. That's what we're after, box set comedy.' Commenting on the lack of funds for TV comedy at the BBC, he added: 'I was speaking to Jack Dee recently and he was talking about Lead Balloon. They said to him, "You are going to have to do one episode where it's just you and one other person. We can't afford anyone else." That's the stage it is getting to. We can't write a sitcom with more than two characters.'

Peter Kay is to host this year’s Royal Variety Performance, it has been announced. So, that'll be worth avoiding.

Car allowances for new BBC senior managers are to be scrapped, in a bid to save about one hundred thousand smackers a year. The BBC has also made a concession on unpredictable working allowances, or UPAs, in a bid to avert a vote for strike action in an ongoing dispute over pay and job cuts. Staff were angry that the perk was being offered at a time when the corporation is making cuts of about seven hundred million quid as part of its Delivering Quality First cost-savings strategy. So the BBC has decided to get rid of car allowances for new senior managers. However, the National Union of Journalists is urging the corporation to axe car allowances for existing senior managers, which cost the corporation nearly three million wonga a year. Currently about five hundred and forty top BBC managers share a pot of £2.9m to help with, what one staff member called, 'essentially, free cars.' They are entitled to about seven thousand eight hundred spondoolicks a year or six hundred and fifty smackers a month if they are in the top grade of senior management or four hundred quid a month if they are in the lower band. Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ general secretary, said: 'Many people have suggested half the savings being looked for by cutting UPA could be achieved through senior managers giving up their car allowances, paid as a matter of course whether individuals come to work by car or can even drive. We are calling on the BBC to ask these managers to voluntarily surrender these contractual car allowances at a time when the BBC is facing such financial pressure.' The changes to allowances for new senior managers was announced in an e-mail by the BBC director of business operations, Lucy Adams. She said the move was prompted by complaints during staff during DQF workshops about getting rid of UPAs, which are paid to staff to compensate them for having shifts altered. Adams said: 'Another issue raised in the workshops has been the issue of consistency – why remove UPA for new joiners without doing something similar to other allowances, in particular the allowances which are offered to some senior managers? In fact, we have already announced that private health insurance will not be offered to new SMs in the future. But we have now also decided that new SMs will no longer be offered a car allowance. This will ultimately contribute around one hundred thousand pounds per year to our overall savings target.' The corporation has agreed to transfer the talks about UPAs into a wider review of pay and pay grades. 'This is a demonstration of the pressure exerted by union members at the BBC, and the arguments which have been made by your negotiators and we welcome this change in approach, however it does not go far enough,' Stanistreet said. 'The BBC has refused to agree that new joiners will be treated in the same way. They have refused to lift the imposition date of April next year and are continuing to insist that UPA and flexibility allowance will stop at that point for new staff.' The NUJ is urging its members to vote yes in the strike ballot, which ends on 24 November. If action goes ahead it could disrupt shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and the BBC's Christmas schedule.

BBC2's new US import Pan Am got off to a decent start on Wednesday evening in terms of overnight ratings. Two million viewers watched the opening episode and three quarters of those stuck around for the second immediately afterwards. There was an additional audience of one hundred and thirty seven thousand viewers on BBC HD. In Metro, the great Keith Watson wasn't over-impressed, describing the series as: 'A show that treats female empowerment with the gravitas of a hairspray advertisement.' He went on: 'On a soapy level, Pan Am is perfectly serviceable. And it wears its impressive historical accuracy like a badge of honour. Everywhere you look another artfully sourced period prop pops up, historical events fly in and out on a wing and a prayer, a backdrop to the lives and loves of a bunch of high-flying guys and gals in killer uniforms. It takes some doing to name-drop Hegel, Marx and Fidel Castro in your first episode and still come off as a bit dizzy, yet that’s exactly what the air-headed Pan Am pulled off with aplomb. In one unintentionally hilarious moment, the Bay of Pigs fiasco in Cuba was reduced to the setting for a rom-com runway marriage proposal. It wasn't the only time Pan Am careered out of control, wobbling alarmingly from cheesy love sagas to an absurd spying subplot at the clip of a ticket. None of it helped by the impression that the characters had been animated from a period knitwear pattern. Pan Am has been touted as the new Mad Men. Get out of here. That's like saying Ryanair is the new Concorde.' Personally, yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought it was passably entertaining and beautiful to look at. Elsewhere on a very good night for BBC2, MasterChef: The Professionals pulled in its highest audience of the series so far, 3.1m. The combination of Pan Am's debut and the continued dominance of I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... meant that Frozen Planet got its lowest overnight audience of the series so far, a still more than respectable 5.8m. One imagines that'll be much higher after timeshifts. Meanwhile, speaking of I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... eight and a half million punters tuned-in. Impressive in and of itself although it should be noted that it's lost a whopping three million viewers since its opening episode on Saturday. That's what happens when you start high, dear blog reader. There's only one way to go.

Shooting Stars character Angelos Epithemiou has been given his own show on Channel Four. Comedian Dan Renton Skinner's alter-ego will take top billing in the newly-commissioned format, which has been announced less than forty eight hours after the BBC cancelled Bob Mortimer and Vic Reeves' long-running comedy panel programme. Channel Four revealed that The Angelos Neil Epithemiou Show will feature celebrity guests, new comedy characters and 'a full menu of slapstick, jokes, high energy dancing, catchy singing and sophisticated magic.' Mortimer will also cross over from the BBC to serve as executive producer on the new programme. 'We're thrilled we've got the privilege of allowing Mr Angelos Epithemiou to develop his career on Channel Four,' comedy editor Fiona McDermott stated. Epithemiou first appeared on Shooting Stars in 2009 as a permanent panelist for the show's sixth series. He was appointed score keeper the following series when Matt Lucas quit his role as George Dawes.

The former manager of the Tyneside folk-rock pioneers Lindisfarne is calling for a memorial to the lead singer Alan Hull in Newcastle. Hull died on 17 November, 1995. He was fifty. His former manager, Barry McKay, described him as down to earth, a defender of the 'underprivileged, the misunderstood and the working class.' McKay said: 'He was a true son of Newcastle and he was proud of his city.' Now, sixteen years after his death, there are renewed calls for a memorial to the musician and poet in his home town. McKay approached the city council in 2006 to discuss the idea but said he was told there was little interest among councillors. The council has had a change of heart - and a change of members - and is now prepared to consider any inexpensive ideas from local people. Henri Murison, cabinet member for quality of life, said: 'The city council is committed to finding a way to best recognise his achievement and many of the other achievements of the legends of this local area. Lindisfarne did [for] Newcastle what The Beatles did for Liverpool.' He added the council needed to make sure that it was 'not seen to be wasting money.'

As the Leveson inquiry ends its first week of glitz and drama, some celebrities are feeling a little left out. Enter Noel Gallagher, according to the i newspaper. 'I was absolutely crestfallen when the phone-hacking scandal broke here in England and my name wasn't mentioned once,' bemoaneed the Oasis songwriter. 'I'm not even worthy to have my fucking phone hacked. And Steve Coogan is. It is fucking over?' Heh.

FIFA president the odious and inept appeaser of fascists Sepp Blatter has said football does not have a problem with racism on the field, and that any incidents which do occur should be 'settled by a handshake.' Personally, yer actual Keith Telly Topping thinks that any incidents of - alleged - racism in football (and, indeed in life), should be properly investigated and, if they turn out to be true, the perpetrator should be kicked, hard, in the knackers. Until they squeal and they bubble and they beg - beg! - for mercy. And then it should be done again. But, I fully realise that, not being the president of FIFA, my solution isn't likely to happen. 'There is no racism [on the field], but maybe there is a word or gesture that is not correct,' Blatter told CNN. 'The one affected by this should say "this is a game" and shake hands.' The seventy five-year-old later said his comments had been misunderstood. Of course, Blatter has plenty of form for rank glakery. Infamously, in 2004, he suggested that women footballers should wear 'tighter shorts' to increase the popularity of the women's game. In 2010, Blatter said gay fans going to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal, should 'refrain from sexual activity.' When John Terry was stripped of the England captaincy in 2010 following an alleged affair, Blatter suggested the player would be 'applauded' in Latin countries. 'I would like to make it very clear, I am committed to the fight against racism and any type of discrimination in football and in society,' Blatter said in a hastily arranged statement in an attempt to play down the gathering row. 'I have been personally leading this battle against racism in football, which FIFA has been fighting against throughout the past years through campaigns in all of our competitions such as Say No to Racism.' The Swiss added: 'My comments have been misunderstood. What I wanted to express is that, as football players, during a match, you have "battles" with your opponents, and sometimes things are done which are wrong. But, normally, at the end of the match, you apologise to your opponent if you had a confrontation during the match, you shake hands, and when the game is over, it is over.' Blatter's initial comments provoked immediate reaction, with England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand tweeting: 'Tell me I have just read Sepp Blatter's comments on racism in football wrong. If not then I am astonished.' Speaking to BBC Radio 5Live, former Tottenham Hotspur striker Garth Crooks was equally critical of Blatter's remarks. 'Clearly Sepp Blatter is a man who's never suffered from racism,' he said. Ah, life wouldn't be life if old Garth wasn't the victim of something or other, would it, dear blog reader. Never one short of an opinion is our Garth. Indeed, it was suggested last year that Garth was up for a 5Live chat show, Garth Crooks Asks... until it was realised that in forty five minutes Garth would only be able to ask one question. And that would be a rhetorical one. 'I'm shocked and somewhat dismayed. Football has to be very careful. It's the one industry that somehow sees itself as above the law. It's not. Players, however glorified, are employees and have to abide by the law. Sepp is a man out of time and out of touch.' Professional Footballers' Association chief Gordon Taylor added: 'It's ironic that Sepp Blatter should come out and talk like that because we've worked hard to get FIFA to have anti-racism on the agenda. As the president of FIFA, he's got to be shouting from the top of the hills that it's unacceptable on the pitch. We want players to set an example to the rest of the world and particularly the supporters.' Piara Powar, the executive director of the Football Against Racism in Europe network, was also dismayed with Blatter's comments. 'You just don't expect the world leader of football to be coming out with comments that seem ill thought-out, insensitive and don't set out the sort of perspective you want to hear from someone who should be leading the game and not responding in a reactionary way,' he said. 'To simply say that something as serious as racial abuse between players can be settled with a handshake is incorrect and not the sort of thing that footballers at an amateur level, at a pro level - at any level - will want to hear from football's leader.' The remarks from the FIFA president, who has led football's world governing body since 1998 and was re-elected this year, come on the same day as Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was charged by the FA for making alleged racist comments towards Manchester United's Patrice Evra. The accusation is furious denied by the Uruguayan and his club say he will plead not guilty to the FA charge. England and Chelsea captain John Terry is also currently facing FA and police investigations following allegations that he used a racist slur towards QPR defender Anton Ferdinand in a match at Loftus Road in October.

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day is a slammin' ambient funk projection from yer actual 808 State and MC Tunes. From the era when it was still okay for the NME to review a new single (they were seven inches of black plastic with a hole in the middle, kids) and describe it as 'a shimmering beast.' It's not where you're from, it's where you're at.

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