Saturday, November 19, 2011

I've Got You Under My Skin Where The Rain Can't Get In

Doctor Who fans have been treated to a short glimpse of this year's Christmas special in a new trailer. And rather good it is too. The forthcoming festive episode, written by showrunner Steven Moffat, was teased during Friday's Children in Need telethon. It was confirmed that the special edition will be entitled The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe. Oi! Copyright! The episode will see Matt Smith's Doctor travel back to World War II England to meet a young mother (Outnumbered's Claire Skinner) and her children, only to be confronted by futuristic spacemen and sundry other horrors when one of the youngsters goes missing in an enchanted forest. Guest stars Bill Bailey and Arabella Weir both feature in the trailer, while Alexander Armstrong has also been confirmed to appear in the festive special (and, yer actual Keith Telly Topping thinks that's also him in the trailer as the Spitfire pilot). The trailer came after a short one-off sketch in which Smith stripped off in the basement of television centre to put The Doctor's iconic outfit up for auction. Smith emerged from behind a privacy screen fully dressed, but soon discovered that his second outfit would gradually disappear every time viewers 'pressed the red button.' The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe is expected to be shown on BBC1 on Christmas Day - probably around six o'clock. Confirmation, as soon as we have it.

Meanwhile, the BBC's annual Children in Need marathon has raised a record on-the-night total of over twenty six million smackers - eight million more than the previous best on-the-night performance in 2010. Host Terry Wogan announced the sum at the end of the six-hour extravaganza, which ended at two o'clock in the morning, long after yer actual Keith Telly Topping has gone to bed with a nice cup of milky cocoa and a good book. Although, tragically, not a big dirty woman. As Steven Wright once noted, you can't have everything. Where would you keep it? The show was preceded by a ONE Show special, which saw co-presenter Matt Baker end his five hundred-mile rickshaw ride from Edinburgh to London with a arse the colour of Manchester United's shirts. Westlife and Susan Boyle appeared, and Fearne Cotton, Alesha Dixon and Tess Daly joined Wogan as hosts. Signing off at the end of the telethon, Sir Terry said: 'That is the greatest single total we have ever made in one night, so thank you. Thank you to the British people in these tough times to come up with that kind of money on behalf of Britain's children.' Former X Factor boy band One Direction had opened the show by performing their single 'What Makes You Beautiful'. Following his arrival at BBC Television Centre, in West London, shortly after ten past seven, Baker described his gruelling rickshaw ride as an 'extraordinary' experience. 'To actually see people running after you with money and wanting you to have it, it's just unbelievable,' he told his fellow ONE Show presenter Alex Jones. Baker, who began the challenge on 11 November and cycled for up to ten hours a day, raised more than £1.2m for Children in Need. As the live show kicked off, BBC newsreaders Sian Williams, Sophie Raworth, Susanna Reid and Emily Maitlis were joined by former newsreading legend Angela Rippon to re-enact the dance routine Rippon performed with Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise in 1976. The cast of The Wizard of Oz also performed a variety of songs from the hit musical, and revealed they had raised more than ten thousand pounds for Children in Need. And the cast of EastEnders performed a medley of hits by Queen, on the set of the popular soap which was risible even by Children in Need's standards. Later, the Collective, a group featuring Gary Barlow, Ed Sheeran, Tinchy Stryder, Chipmunk, Ms Dynamite, Tulisa, Wretch Thirty Two, Rizzle Kicks, Mz Bratt, Dot Rotten and Labrinth performed the Children in Need single 'Teardrop'. Lord Sugar-Sweetie entered The Dragons' Den and Gok Wan, best known for presenting fashion shows, sang. Not very well, as it happens, but far better than the cast of EastEnders. The cast of comedy series Outnumbered performed 'The Monkees Theme' and The Muppets led an all-star version of the classic 'Mah Na Mah Na'. There were regional segments to the show, allowing viewers to see fundraising events across the UK - the North east sections coming from Beamish museum and presented by Charlie Charlton and Colin Briggs, for example. The aim of the night is to raise as much money as possible to help support children's charities across the country. A record two million plus has been raised by Radio 2 listeners, beating the £1,693,444 raised last year.

It had to happen sooner or later. And now, seemingly, it has. Delightfully. Grumpy Adrian Chiles and Orange Christine Bleakley have reportedly been sacked as hosts of Daybreak. Got the push. Given the boot. Turfed out on the street. Had their employed terminated with extreme prejudice. Given the tin-tack. Ushered through the door marked 'Exit'. Handed their cards. Terminated. Made redundant. Given their P45s. The pair, who were rumoured to be facing the chop - although, tragically, not with an actual axe - earlier this month, will leave the ITV breakfast show within weeks after ratings failed to improve according to press reports. Chiles and Bleakley infamously quit BBC's The ONE Show to join ITV on multi-million pound deals last year. But Daybreak ratings have fallen to figures as low as three hundred and fifty thousand in recent months and their audience appreciation figure have never even got to 'average' let alone 'good'. So, to sum up, hardly anybody's watching the damn thing and, those that are, don't seem to like it very much. An alleged 'source' allegedly told the Sun: 'It's game over. ITV have tried everything to make the show work, but viewers are fed up with Adrian and Christine. The point of scrapping a well-liked brand like GMTV was to come up with something a lot better - but the opposite's been true. Research has apparently concluded that viewers think Chiles is "grumpy" and see Bleakley as an "airhead."' it should be pointed out at this juncture that you really don't need research for either of those observations, mate, just a pair of functioning eyes in your head. An official announcement is expected on 1 December when new boss, the former BBC Breakfast editor David Kermode, arrives. He is said to have taken the job on the sole condition that he could change the presenting line-up. Another 'source' allegedly said: 'They ran out of time. The advertising numbers had fallen off a cliff because Adrian and Christine were such a turn-off. In today's climate, that was unacceptable.' BBC Breakfast host Chris Hollins (or Chiles-lite if you will), former GMTV anchor the odious and porky Eamonn Holmes and Natasha Kaplinsky (once memorably described by Charlie Brooker as 'a skeleton covered by a skin of ambition') have been 'tipped' as possible replacements. So, it'll probably be none of those, then. Chiles and Bleakley's stand-ins, Dan Lobb and horrible Kate Garraway, could be given bigger roles on Daybreak the report states - although there's no evidence that Daybreak is watched by more people or appreciated more on the days that they're on than the Gruesome Twosome. Bleakley, it would seem, has an escape route, as she was recently confirmed as the new host of Dancing On Ice after Holly Willoughby quit, apparently to present new BBC1 singing competition The Voice. Last night ITV 'refused to deny' the claims that the pair would be leaving the show, which had a fifteen million quid launch last September. A senior source at the commercial broadcaster said: 'Do we want to be running a show where we are happy being Number Two? No, we don't.' According to the report, Chiles, who is also the broadcaster's main presenter for its football coverage, had accepted that he had been dropped from the show. But co-host Bleakley, whose WAG lifestyle is claimed to have 'been a turn-off for viewers,' is reportedly asking for it to be presented as if she is leaving for new projects. No chance of that happening around here, Christine m'love. You got the heave-ho, just accept it.

Elisabeth Shue has been cast in CSI. The Back to the Future actress will replace the outgoing Marg Helgenberger, who is set to leave during the current twelfth season. Shue will join the cast as a series regular on the 15 February episode, which is around the time of Helgenberger's final episode, according to E! Online. Her character will reportedly join the current CSI team after completing an anger management course, following her firing by boss DB Russell (Ted Danson) in Seattle. Executive producer Don McGill said: 'The first time things didn't go so well between the two of them. Maybe the second time's the charm, or not.' Carol Mendelsohn added: 'While it's difficult to say goodbye to a beloved character like Catherine Willows, it's exciting to start a journey with a new CSI, especially when that character is played by Elisabeth Shue. The new CSI also struggles with brutal honesty issues and suffers no fools.' Mendelsohn recently revealed that Helgenberger's Willows will get an 'action hero exit' from the long-running series.

The BBC and HBO are developing a TV drama mini-series adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Man Booker prize-winning historical novel Wolf Hall. Peter Straughan, whose writing credits include the recent Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy movie, is working on scripts for a four-parter which, if commissioned, would be broadcast on BBC2, the BBC has confirmed. Wolf Hall is a fictional biography set in the first half of the Sixteenth Century, charting the rise to power of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII. Cromwell was involved in arranging Henry's divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn, and the English church's break with Rome and the dissolution of the monasteries. He later fell out with Henry and was executed. Mantel revealed earlier this week that she is planning a Tudor trilogy, with a second novel, Bring Up the Bodies, to be published next year focusing on Anne Boleyn. The third book, The Mirror And The Light, will see Cromwell's story through until his execution in 1540. The TV adaptation is being developed by Company Pictures, the UK independent producer behind Shameless, Skins and The Shadow Line, and Playground Entertainment, the US company set up by former HBO Films president Colin Callender.

Sarah Michelle Gellar has admitted that starring in Buffy the Vampire Slayer 'consumed her life' for many years. Well, watching it consumed most of this blogger's life for seven year so, you know, fair's fair! The actress explained that she gave up her social life when she landed the role as the iconic vampire slayer as a teenager. 'I was eighteen years old when I started Buffy, and work was my everything,' Gellar recalled to Self. 'Back then, no actor had worse hours than I did.' Since Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended in 2003, Gellar and husband Freddie Prinze Jr have welcomed a daughter named Charlotte Grace. The actress returned to television in The CW thriller Ringer earlier this year, but says that she insisted on a more flexible work schedule. Gellar said: 'Now I don't work on weekends anymore. Everybody knows you can't sway me on that point, so nobody even tries. Plus, my perspective on work has changed: Work doesn't define who I am. I love what I do, but I don't feel a burning pressure anymore. And because I'm working for fun, I get to enjoy it. I'd watch Ringer if I wasn't on it! Of course, it's not as much fun when you know what's going to happen. It takes some of the excitement away.'

Life's Too Short has lost a million viewers – or more than forty per cent of its overnight audience - between the first two episodes. Despite the appearance of Johnny Depp, the second instalment of the odious Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant'’s alleged comedy attracted just 1.4m viewers, down from 2.4m for the series opener the previous week. It is less than the average 1.8m viewers who usually tune in to BBC2 at 9.30pm on a Thursday, and less than the 1.5m averaged by the last series of Shooting Stars, which was this week cancelled by the BBC. And, if that isn't a big pick to Gervais's towering ego then nothing will be. Life's Too Short was trounced in the ratings by I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) - which attracted 7.7m viewers to ITV at the same time. Although if Gervais is looking for positives he could note that I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) was nearly seven hundred thousand viewers down on its own previous episode and that in just five days from its opening on Saturday, it's lost nearly four million viewers. A crumb of comfort, Rick. Rev was also hit by the reality show, with its audience down from 2.4m to 1.6m.

The BBC is being sued for two million smackers by a cartoonist who claims that the corporation 'ripped off' his ideas for a hit CBeebies programme. Michael Mitchell, fifty two, told the high court on Thursday that his daughter was watching the Kerwhizz show in 2009 when she pointed out three characters who bore 'striking ­similarities' to her father's creations. That'sa very perceptive daughter you've got there, fellah. Mitchell alleges that the BBC copied the 'Bounce Bunch' cartoons he put on his own personal website in 2004 for Kerwhizz characters Ninka, Twist and Kit. However, the BBC utterly rejects the allegations, saying that the hit show was developed from an original idea conceived in December 2005, and that the Kerwhizz designers did not access Mitchell's cartoons 'at any material time.' In his opening statements to the court, Mitchell told Judge Colin Birss: 'This matter is between myself and the BBC. This is a claim for copyright infringement relating to three character designs which appeared in the CBBC programme called Kerwhizz. The characters in questions are Ninka, Twist and Kit. My claim is that these characters were copied from characters created by myself, known as The Bounce Bunch. The live issues relate to infringement, that is the similarities alleged and access to the designs.' Mitchell went on to say that the TV cartoon market is 'a highly-lucrative business sector,' with the royalties paid to the creators of characters such as Postman Pat, The Teletubbies or Bob the Builder running into the 'many millions of pounds a year.' He said that he had posted the characters on his website where they were freely accessible by the BBC. Outside the court, Mitchell also told the Daily Scum Mail that he had sent the characters directly to the BBC in October 2007 as part of a proposal that was ultimately rejected. He is asking for the BBC to pay him forty thousand smackers a year, set against royalties, for the duration of copyright, which lasts for fifty years. And, of course, the Scum Mail, sensing an anti-BBC angle were busy licking his ringpiece at this point. However, the BBC's lawyer Jessie Bowhill told the court: 'This is a case about a designer who, upon seeing characters in a children's TV programme produced by the BBC called Kerwhizz, and noticing certain similarities with his own creations, concluded that they must have been copied. And indeed on one level there are certain similarities. However, the similarities are in reality only at a very superficial level.' Bowhill added: 'The designers responsible for the Kerwhizz designs did not have Mr Mitchell's designs at any material time. Accordingly they could not have copied them. The designs in question had been extensively and iteratively developed over a number of years by various third-party designers commissioned by the BBC.' Judge Birss reserved his judgment on Mitchell's case until a later date.

Actor Danny Miller has confirmed that he is to leave ITV soap Emmerdale next year.

Jason Manford has revealed that ITV is - tragically - considering commissioning a second series of the wretched Show Me The Funny. Speaking to Richard Bacon on BBC Radio 5Live, the host of the stand-up reality show claimed that the broadcaster is 'not fussed' by the programme's desperately low audience figures. Manford said: 'We're just having a talk about another series at ITV at the moment, because it was up against something big like New Tricks or something mad. They weren't too fussed [about the ratings]. It got two and a half million at some points.' yeah. Not many points, but some. 'The biggest thing is trying to learn from it.' Shrugging off the negative reaction to the format, Manford added: 'People after eight minutes were going, "This is rubbish." It's eight minutes old!' Yes. Eight minutes of rubbish, Jase. A turd is a turd whether you glimpse it, briefly, from a distance or if have the misfortune to wade through it.

EastEnders cast member Tony Discipline is to face trial over assault claims. Discipline, twenty two, is accused of breaking a twenty one-year-old's jaw and assaulting the man's cousin in May, the month it was announced he was joining the BBC1 soap. The incident occurred near the celebrity nightclub Merah in London, reports the Evening Standard. The actor, who plays Tyler Moon, denies grievous bodily harm and common assault. Discipline was bailed to appear at Southwark crown court on 23 December. Reports first emerged of the alleged fight in July, when it was claimed that the actor was being questioned by the police.
Steve Coogan has compared News International to 'a protection racket' which uses the threat of press intrusion to ensure it is allowed to 'conduct business unencumbered by scrutiny or regulation.' The actor, who will give evidence to the Leveson inquiry into phone-hacking on Tuesday, is one of dozens of people suing the shameful former owner of the Scum of the World in the high court for allegedly hacking into his mobile phone messages. In an article for the Gruniad Morning Star, Coogan writes that Britain's most powerful newspaper group, whose titles include the Sun and The Times, employs the prospect of negative coverage 'as a weapon against those who get in the way of News International. Its behaviour is not unlike a protection racket: be nice to us – that is, let us conduct our business unencumbered by scrutiny or indeed regulation – and we will return the favour. Be nasty to us – ie subject us to too many checks and balances, or curtail our plans to expand our empire – and you will feel our wrath,' he said. Coogan added that the reputations of those who fail to do News International's bidding are damaged if they do not cooperate with the company. 'It's a word in the ear and a life is ruined,' he said. 'This intrusion into people's lives has been the way of things for the past forty years. History teaches us that it doesn't matter how plainly wrong something is; if you do it systematically, unblinkingly and for long enough then it becomes accepted, part of the zeitgeist. That is Rupert Murdoch's toxic legacy.' Coogan attacks James Murdoch, who is the third most senior executive at News International owner News Corporation, for 'declaring war' on the publicly funded BBC. 'At the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival in 2009, he said the only way to guarantee independence is the market. No, Mr Murdoch, the unchecked market leads to the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone,' he wrote. The revelation that the murdered schoolgirl's voicemail messages were intercepted and deleted by the Scum of the World prompted a wave of public revulsion and lead, directly, to the closure of the disgraced and disgraceful newspaper. 'No amount of respectable, well-modulated management-speak from James Murdoch can disguise the direct link between increased circulation and, literally, going through people's rubbish bins,' Coogan said. 'At the heart of this scandal is the wholly undemocratic alliance between newspaper proprietors and government. In a hundred years, the relationship will be seen as corrupt as the Corn Laws and rotten boroughs of the Nineteenth Century.' Coogan has spent tens of thousands of pounds on his legal battle with News International. 'I became involved in this saga because, apart from a few notable exceptions, no one was giving NI as hard a time as they give everyone else,' he wrote. He calls for a 'fundamental cultural change' at newspapers similar to that which took place following the MPs expenses affair. 'How we achieve this is yet to be determined, but it is about ethics, common decency and treating people with respect.'

A private investigator was involved in illegally tracking mobile phones, hacking victims have claimed. Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed for phone hacking for the Scum of the World, is linked to the so-called 'pinging' of mobiles and computer hacking, a High Court civil case heard. Pinging is tightly regulated and restricted to police, security services and a small selection of other bodies. Mulcaire and News International have yet to respond to the claims made in court. Pinging by the media is a breach of privacy. It is a technique used to pinpoint the location of mobile phones through a network of cell sites. The allegations were aired at a case management hearing in the civil cases for breach of privacy brought by hacking victims against News International, the owner of the now defunct Scum of the World. Six 'lead cases' are due to start in January, brought by Sheila Henry, whose son Christian Small was killed in the 7 July London bombings, the Labour MP Chris Bryant, the actor Jude Law, sports agent Sky Andrew, solicitor Graham Shear and footballer Paul Gascoigne. They are a cross-section of cases, reflecting a range of victims, heard quickly so other claimants can see the issues defined, the amount of damages recovered in their type of case, and make informed decisions about pursuing their actions, or settling them. The High Court judge said during Friday's hearing that the test cases would not be a 'witch hunt.' Which is a pity but, probably, fair enough. After all, we wouldn't want the courts to act like scum tabloid newspapers, would we? Mr Justice Vos, who is due to hear a number of cases in the new year, added he was not going to allow a 'mini-Leveson Inquiry' to take place, as the terms of reference were completely different. The judge-led inquiry, which started on Monday, is examining the culture, practices and ethics of the media. He told lawyers for News International: 'It is not a witch hunt. It is not a crusade. It is to determine the damages you must fairly pay.' The news group's lawyers also asked the judge to limit the court's consideration of the extent of hacking, as that ground would be covered at the Leveson Inquiry, and for any claim for punitive damages to be struck out. Both applications were denied. The High Court also heard claims that a number of computer hard drives were destroyed by News International during an office move in the last quarter of 2010. In July, the Metropolitan Police launched Operation Tuleta, alongside phone-hacking inquiry Operation Weeting, to probe allegations of computer hacking. Operation Tuleta is examining breach of privacy claims received by police since January. Mulcaire, who was employed by the Scum of the World, was jailed in January 2007 for unlawfully intercepting voicemail messages of public figures. In July 2011, allegations emerged that he had also hacked into murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's mobile phone and had the phone numbers of relatives of service personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The attorney general is applying to bring contempt of court proceedings against Sky News after it allegedly breached an injunction preventing reporting about the welfare of Paul and Rachel Chandler, the British couple who were held hostage for over a year by Somali pirates. The Chandlers, from Tunbridge Wells, were safely freed on 14 November last year after a ransom was reportedly paid. The couple flew home to Britain two days later following three hundred and eighty eight days in captivity. The British media were banned in July last year from publishing details about the 'health and welfare' of the Chandlers before they were either released or confirmed dead. Sky News is alleged to have breached the injunction on 14 November, the day of the couple's release. The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, will apply to bring contempt proceedings against the BSkyB-owned broadcaster at the high court on Monday. It is not clear in what way Sky News is alleged to have breached the injunction. The attorney general's office declined to comment other than confirming that the application had been made. The injunction prohibited reporting of allegations that either of the Chandlers had been short or were dead; allegations that they were subject to torture or other degrading treatment; allegations that either or both were due to be released from captivity; allegations that any person had paid a ransom to a pirate or any other person in connection with the Chandlers; and any photograph or video of the couple. Solicitors acting for the Chandlers obtained the injunction in June over fears that their lives were being put at risk from the reporting around their high-profile capture. A Sky News video of the Chandlers' release, published on the broadcaster's website on 14 November, has been removed. However, it is not clear whether this is in connection to the injunction.

More details have been released about Vic Reeves's new sketch show for CBBC. Originally called merely The Vic Reeves Project, the show has now been renamed Ministry Of Curious Stuff and given a new year broadcast slot. Each episode sees a team answering questions posed by CBBC viewers, through sketches, songs and animations. Questions include: Will dinosaurs ever come back? Can you dance in space? And, can you marry a house? Written by Reeves and Shooting Stars writer Steve Burge, the cast includes Outnumbered's Tyger Drew-Honey and Dan Renton Skinner, best known as Angelos Epithemiou from Shooting Stars. Jamie Rea, executive producer for CBBC, said: 'Vic is one of Britain's most admired and influential comedians, renowned for his surreal sense of humour and comic imagination, and we've been really fortunate that he has been so involved in the writing and development of the series. It's a really big production, with a lavish set, and lots of comedy sketches, songs and animations of the kind usually associated with comedy for adults. It's another show that proves CBBC doesn't patronise its audience – and the result is a programme that will hopefully help you discover some amazing facts whilst making you laugh out loud, whatever your age.'

Robert Webb has revealed that he once auditioned for Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker's sitcom Nathan Barley. 'I'm a huge, huge fan of Chris Morris,' he said. 'I think he's a genius, and it is not a word I use very often. I think he's fantastic. I did do an audition/improvisation for Nathan Barley with him once, and that was a thrill in itself - I didn't get anything, but it was a pleasure to sit in a room with him. I think he's great.'

Ron Howard has called on Arrested Development fans to continue campaigning for a movie. After years of speculation about an Arrested Development continuation, creator Mitch Hurwitz announced in October that the Bluth family will return for a mini-season of new television episodes and a feature film. Howard, who produced and narrated Arrested Development, explained to E! Online that the future of Arrested Development is dependent on fan support. 'It sounds a little bit corny, but a lot of the reason the [cast and producers] want to do is that they really feel like they want to respect what the fans are saying,' he insisted. Howard went on say: 'Really, the fans have kept it going, not only in terms of executives realising there's a real yearning for more Arrested Development, but also to just keep encouraging the creative team and keep making it pressing.' The director also revealed that he recently met with Arrested Development star Jason Bateman in Los Angeles to check on the status of the project. Howard said that Arrested Development's producers are 'completely fired up' about the movie, but are currently trying to reach the right financial deal. Earlier this year, Bateman hinted that Arrested Development could feature reappearances from many of the show's famous guest stars. Arrested Development earned six Emmy wins in its three-year run on FOX, which concluded with the 2006 finale Development Arrested.

A lost comic gem, originally written for Tony Hancock, is to have its first public performance at the first London Comedy Film Festival next year. Alan Galton and Ray Simpson wrote The Day Off to be the follow-up to Hancock's 1961 film The Rebel – but the temperamental star rejected the story of a hapless bus conductor, demanding something 'more international.' In the end, he cut his ties with Galton and Simpson to make The Punch and Judy Man, despite its lack of international appeal. No scripts for The Day Off were thought to survive, but author Christopher Stevens discovered a copy behind a filing cabinet in Galton's home while researching his book about the writers, The Masters of Sitcom. It's a very Hancock-style scenario, that. 'Lost masterpiece found down the back of a sofa' kind of thing! Stevens said: 'It's probably the best thing they ever wrote, It's not just very, very funny and archetypally Hancock – you can hear his voice in every line – but it's also desperately sad.' Now it will have a reading on 29 January, the final day of the four-day LoCo festival at the BFI Southbank. The cast has not yet been announced, but Galton and Simpson will also take part in a question and answer session after the reading. The festival will also include a preview of the new Muppets movie, a couple of weeks before its official UK release, while Edgar Wright will introduce a screening of his film Shaun Of The Dead and Mike Leigh's Life is Sweet, followed by an on-stage discussion. The festival also includes a two-day course for aspiring filmmakers and a fiftieth anniversary screening of the rarely seen British comedy Go To Blazes, about three crooks who steal a fire engine as a getaway vehicle, whose stars include Robert Morley, Maggie Smith and Derek Nimmo.

Some very sad news now. Animator Mark Hall, co-founder of Cosgrove Hall, responsible for Chorlton and the Wheelies, Danger Mouse and The Wind in the Willows, has died of cancer at the age of seventy five. He died in the early hours of Friday at his home in Manchester surrounded by his family, his company Cosgrove Hall Fitzpatrick Entertainment said. Operations director Adrian Wilkins hailed 'a lifetime of achievement' in the world of animation. Hall, together with Brian Cosgrove, set up production company Stop Frame in the late 1960s before forming Cosgrave Hall Films. They enjoyed international success with their productions which also included Danger Mouse spin-off Count Duckula, Jamie and the Magic Torch and Cockleshell Bay. Danger Mouse - voiced by David Jason - was joined in his quest to defeat the evil Baron Greenback by bumbling sidekick Penfold, voiced by Terry Scott. In 2006, the twenty fifth anniversary year of Danger Mouse, Hall told the BBC that the programme had succeeded because of the strange scenarios the pair found themselves in. 'The adults watched because of that kind of anarchy,' he said. 'The kids watched it because they just loved the stories and the absolutely stupid gags.' He praised Jason's 'fantastic' voicing of Danger Mouse as well as Scott's 'wonderful' Penfold. He said that Danger Mouse, who lived inside a postbox in London's Baker Street, was 'a sort of cross between Bond and all sorts of things. He was supposed to be suave but he was a mouse with big ears.' The show, produced by Cosgrove Hall for Thames TV, attracted an average audience of three and a half million when it was first shown in the UK on ITV. It has since been seen in more than eighty countries.

The former England cricket all-rounder Basil D'Oliveira has died at the age of eighty after a long illness. Had D'Oliveira been born into a saner world, his death Saturday might simply mark the passing of one of South Africa's greatest sportsmen. But his career had a far wider meaning which reached beyond sport. D'Oliveira moved to England in 1960 due to the lack of opportunities for non-White players under apartheid. A talented all-rounder, and in particular a superb middle-order bastman, D'Oliveira will be remembered as one of the finest players of his generation but, probably even more so for his role in helping to bring down South Africa's sick and wicked apartheid regime than for his - notable - achievements on the cricket field. D'Oliveira played county cricket for Worcestershire between 1964 and 1980 and represented England in forty four Tests from 1966 to 1972, scoring two thousand four hundred and eighty four runs at an average of forty. In one way it's a shame, but in another totally apt, that he is less famous for feats like his five Test centuries but, rather, for an affair which exposed the scummish racist policies of his native country to the world. In 1968 he was named as a replacement in the MCC squad due to tour South Africa which was then cancelled as South Africa's government refused to accept his presence in the England party. The headlines made by D'Oliveira in 1968 marked the start of South Africa's sporting isolation which would last for the next twenty years. After being added to the England squad as a replacement for the injured Tom Cartwright, South African prime minister the racist Afrikaans nationalist scumbag Balthazar Vorster had already made it clear that D'Oliveira's inclusion was not acceptable to his government. The tour was subsequently cancelled and the incident culminated in a worldwide ban on sporting ties with South Africa which - apart form a few highly controversial rugby tours during the 1970s - would last until the early 1990s. No official cricket team from any country subsequently toured South Africa until apartheid was abolished following Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1990. Basil Lewis D'Oliveira was born in Signal Hill, Cape Town. That is not in question; exactly when is. Official records say his date of birth was 4 October 1931, but he once wrote that 'if you had said I was closer to forty than thirty five when I first played for England in 1966, I could not have sued you,' implying he was actually older than previously thought. After his death, the sports journalist Pat Murphy with whom he collaborated on his autobiography stated: 'Basil had to lie about his age because he thought if they realised how old he was they would not pick him for England. When I wrote his book in 1980 he finally conceded he was born in 1928. So by my calculation he was thirty eight when he first played for England in 1966 and eighty three when he died.' Being a mixed-race South African during apartheid, he was prevented from playing top-class cricket. D'Oliveira starred in Cape Town club cricket but found his path to the top blocked by his skin colour though he captained South Africa's national non-white cricket team, and also played football for the non-white national side. Like all other black and so-called 'coloured' players, young Basil was reduced to playing either in the street or on wasteland. Sometimes, he and his fellow players would be chased away by the police; to the day he died, he had a bump on his skull where he had once been struck by a police baton. Often, Basil felt despair because he sensed that he would never have a chance to test what he knew was a prodigious talent. An avid listener of the BBC's World Service he adored the cricket commentaries of the great broadcaster John Arlott. There was something about the humanity of Arlott's soft Hampshire burr and his poetic turn of phrase which inexpressibly moved Basil. He was inspired to write Arlott a letter, in green ink and halting prose, explaining his predicament and diffidently asking him if there might be any chance of making a life as a club cricketer in England. It speaks volumes for the calibre of Arlott as a man that he didn't just take time to read this letter, and reply to it, but that he actually acted upon it. After many setbacks, Arlott and fellow cricket jorunalist John Kay found D'Oliveira a job as a professional in the Lancashire League at Middleton. Later in life, Arlott was to confide that of all his achievements as a writer, broadcaster and poet, this was the one of which he felt most proud. So in the early spring of 1960, aged twenty eight years (or, possibly thirty one), D'Oliveira caught the plane to London, leaving behind for his first few months, his heavily pregnant wife Naomi, who was to be such a guiding light throughout his career. It was just a few days after the Sharpeville massacres signalled a new brutality in the crass era of apartheid. What followed were some of the most miserable few months of Basil's life. He missed his family and felt lonely beyond words. Everything about England seemed strange; he was late emerging from Heathrow Airport because he had been looking for the non-white queue. When he caught the train north, he looked for the non-white carriage. When he entered public buildings, he could not understand why there was no non-white entrance. He couldn't believe it when well-wishers took him into restaurants and people treated him with kindness and respect. But worse by far than his culture shock was his sense of failure. In South Africa, he had played only on matting wickets and at first he found it impossible to adapt to grass. But a man of his talents could not be kept down for long. He found his form for Middleton and had three glorious summers there. Then he forced his way through the ranks to earn a place in the national side, where he went on to shine on the international stage after making his debut in 1966. Given the nickname Dolly, he impressed with his solid attacking batting style, gentle but tight medium pace bowling and athletic fielding in the covers. Although he did not play his first full county season until 1965 - having had to play for a year in Worcester's second eleven to qualify - his cricket blossomed and he proved to be a key member of the Worcester team. The following year earned a call-up for the England side. On his debut against the West Indies in 1966, D'Oliveira was unluckily run out for twenty seven and produced bowling figures of one for twenty four at Lord's. But his reputation on the team soon grew with half-centuries in the next three matches. From the moment of D'Oliveira's selection for England, however, he was a ticking time bomb, because just two years later, in the winter of 1968-69, the England team was due to tour South Africa. His most famous test innings saw him score a stunning one hundred and fifty eight against Australia at The Oval in the final 1968 Ashes test, a tally that should have sealed his place in the tour that winter. But the cricketer from the Cape was never going to be tolerated in a country which considered him racially inferior. For South African Prime Minister Vorster – whose apartheid policy was based on the doctrine that non-white were 'an inferior breed' – this prospect was calamitous. Vorster set out methodically to sabotage D'Olivera's selection. Firstly, he targeted D'Oliveira himself. Using an intermediary, Forster offered D'Oliveira a bribe - worth approximately forty thousand pounds, then a massive sum, which would have given D'Oliveira security for life - to make himself unavailable for the tour. The cricketer - to his immense credit - rejected the deal out of hand. However, Forster also had a second plan of attack. He also set about nobbling the MCC. When the tour party was named - just hours after that final Ashes test in which D'Oliveira had helped to win the game - D'Oliveira was, shamefully, left out. Doug Insole, one of the selectors, infamously commented to the press: 'I think we've got better than him in the side.' It was a despicable decision, one made largely by compliant spineless amateurs, based entirely on squalid political expediency and lacking both logic and morality. Research by the journalist Peter Oborne in his extraordinary 2004 book Basil D'Oliviera: Cricket and Conspiracy appears to show that the English cricket authorities knew full well in advance that the South African government would probably not accept D'Oliveira as a visitor and had set out to do whatever it would take not to create waves. The affair divided the nation. D'Oliveira had been playing for Worcestershire against Sussex when the tour squad was revealed. He reportedly collapsed in tears when the announcement was made over the radio. The blatant unfairness of the MCC's decision caused a national outrage in Britain and led to a rebellion at the MCC, led by the Reverend David Shephard, the former English cricket captain and the future Bishop of Liverpool. Shepherd's main lieutenant in the campaign was an ambitious young county cricketer, Mike Brearley. It was to be ten years before the England selectors forgave Brearley setting his buck against them and allowed him into the England Test team. Then, as the pbulic campaign was gaining momentum, the Warwickshire swing bowler Tom Cartwright announced his withdrawal from the England squad due to injury. A liberal, intelligent man, Cartwright was said to be uneasy about touring South Africa and had been especially offended by the treatment which D'Oliveira had suffered. He went to his grave without publicly admitting that his decision to miss the tour had been a tactical one but the suspicion still lingers. Now there was no excuse. The clamour for D'Oliviera was irresistible and even the right-wing appeasers of fascists within the MCC could not come up with another adequate excuse for D'Oliveira's continued omission. Within hours of the MCC's announcement that D'Oliveira would be in the toruing party, the South African government called the tour off. South Africa's cricket team toured Australia the following winter, but subsequent tours of England in 1970 and of Australia in 1971–72 were both cancelled after high profile anti-apartheid protests in both countries. It was to be twenty five years until England and South Africa would meet again on the cricket field. D'Oliveira played on for four more years for England - most notably as a member of Ray Illingworth's Ashes-winning team in 1970-71. His patient fifty six in a lengthy second inning partnership with Geoff Boycott in the fourth test at Sydney was a key factor in England winning that match and a fluid one hundred and seventeen in difficult conditions in the fifth test at Melbourne enabled the team to draw a match they could easily have lost. After retiring from international cricket after another Ashes series in 1972, he enjoyed a long, glorious Indian summer in county cricket and was still topping the Worcestershire batting averages in 1977, aged - officially - nearly forty six. He became team coach when he retired, steering the county to two Championship victories in the 1990s. Former Worcestershire and England batsman Graeme Hick recalled: 'He'd always keep his instructions very simple. I'd go talk to Basil and always come away feeling better.' Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola paid tribute to D'Oliveira whose health had been deteriorating for some time. 'He was a man of true dignity and a wonderful role model as somebody who overcame the most extreme prejudices and circumstances to take his rightful place on the world stage. The fact that he could have a Test career batting average of forty in forty four Tests and an economy rate of less than two with the ball on his way to forty seven wickets was remarkable considering he was past his prime when he made his debut for England in his mid-thirties. One can only imagine what he might have achieved had he made his debut as he should have done at the age of twenty on South Africa's tour of England in 1951. I would like to pay tribute also to all those people in England, notably John Arlott, one of the greatest cricket radio commentators of all time, for the roles they played in making it possible for Basil to achieve his dream of playing international cricket for his adopted country. The circumstances surrounding his being prevented from touring the country of his birth with England in 1968 led directly to the intensification of opposition to apartheid around the world and contributed materially to the sports boycott that turned out to be an Achilles' heel of the apartheid government. Throughout this shameful period in South Africa's sporting history, Basil displayed a human dignity that earned him worldwide respect and admiration. His memory and inspiration will live on among all of us. On behalf of the CSA family I would like to convey our sympathies to his family and salute them on a life well lived.' His former Worcestershire captain and England team-mate Tom Graveney paid tribute to his close friend on Sky Sports News. 'It's terrible news to me because Basil was one of the my best friends,' Graveney said. 'We met because we were on a tour of Pakistan together and I persuaded him to come to Worcester in 1962. He had to serve a year playing in the second XI and then came straight into the first class game and was an immediate success and a wonderful character as well.' Graveney recalled that D'Oliveira had been in tears when he was initially left out of the team for the tour of his homeland. 'I can remember saying, "If he doesn't go, I'm not going" because we were such great friends and he'd done everything to go and get back into the team, so it was politics I'm afraid,' he said. 'It was very sad.' Had politics not intervened, Graveney said D'Oliveira would be primarily remembered for his outstanding skill as a batsman. 'He was a very good all-rounder,' he said. 'He bowled medium pace, with a few off-spinners in amongst them. But his batting was the thing. He was tremendously strong. I can remember batting with him when the pitches were turning a bit because we played on wet wickets in those days and he was just terrific.' D'Oliveira returned often to coach and play in South Africa's non-white leagues after his retirement, and his achievements were acknowledged in 2003 when South Africa hosted the World Cup. He and the South African batsman Graeme Pollock were the two cricketing giants invited out on to Newlands ground to take part in the opening ceremony. In 2004, he was further honoured when it was decided the inaugural Basil D'Oliveira Trophy would be awarded to the winning team in all future Test series played in South Africa between the host side and England. One of the finest cricketers of his generation had finally got the recognition he deserved. On Saturday, after his death was announced, South Africa's players wore black armbands, and a non-white batsman, Hashim Amla, was South Africa's highest scorer against Australia. A sign of the changing world that Basil D'Oliveira in his own quiet, unassuming way helped to establish. D'Oliveira's son Damian played county cricket for Worcestershire, between 1982 and 1995. In August Basil's grandson Brett, a leg spinner, also signed for Worcestershire on a one-year contract.

A pilot sparked a security incident on Wednesday evening after accidentally locking himself in the toilet on a flight to New York. The incident occurred on a Chautauqua Airlines flight from Asheville, North Carolina, after the latch on the toilet door jammed as the plane was about to land, The Associated Press reports. A passenger heard the pilot knocking on the bathroom door and, after being given the password, went to the cockpit to speak to inform the rest of the crew. 'Someone with a thick foreign accent is giving me a password to access the cockpit, and I'm not about to let him in,' the co-pilot can be heard saying on an audio recording. The co-pilot had previously reported his captain missing over the radio and fighter jets were almost sent to follow the plane. The pilot managed to free himself and returned to the cockpit and radioed control to say: 'The captain - myself - went back to the lavatory and the door latched. [I] had to fight my way out of it with my body to get the door open. There is no issue, no threat.' The craft was landed safely in New York and was met by the authorities at around 6.30pm local time. 'The first officer did the right thing in securing the flight deck when he was not able to personally confirm the status of the aircraft's captain,' a statement from Chautauqua Airlines read. 'No-one was ever in danger, and everyone, including the good Samaritan who tried to help the captain, as well as the crew, are to be commended for their actions.'

And, finally, to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. The latest one of which is a thing of astounding beauty from Matt Johnson and The The. Check out, in particular, Jules Holland's gorgeous piano solo. Jazz!

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