Monday, November 21, 2011

Let Me Whisper My Last Goodbyes

A short autobiographical diversion to begin today's bloggerisationisms, dear blog reader. In the course of his everyday doings, yer actual Keith Telly Topping fills in a weekly online shopping questionnaire. For this, he is required to use a barcode reader and scan in the barcodes of whatever items of grubbery that he's bought after he's been to Morrison's for his weekly shop (or, any other shop for that matter). And, also, to scan in the till receipts too. This can be, occasionally, a bit chore-like in a thoroughly 'mutter-mutter-grumble-grumble, why-did-I-ever-sign-up-for-this-malarkey' kind-of way. But, on days like today, dear blog reader, he is reminded just exactly why he does this. Because, it's worthwhile. Y'see, each set of barcodes and receipts sent in weekly accrues bonus points which, when reaching a certain number can be redeemed for shopping tokens at a number of popular high street stores and other outlets. One of which is HMV. Each ten thousand points you get earns you a tenner token. Thus, today, yer actual Keith Telly Topping, armed with sixty quid's worth of HMV tokens which he'd built up over the last six months or so, got the bus into town, went to HMV on Northumberland Street and picked up the Doctor Who season six DVD box-set - retail price £39.99 (the best TV show in the history of the world ... that doesn't have the words 'West' or 'Wing' in the title) and the House season seven DVD box set - retail price £29.99. And, all he had to actually pay to the man on the counter was two pee short of a tenner. Score. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping therefore likes life, dear blog reader. Just for one day, he actually likes life.
So, anyway, the Doctor Who box set is, as you might expect, the thing of extraordinary beauty and considerable charm. Things we learned from it? Quite a bit, as it happens. One is something yer actual Keith Telly Topping has long suspected but, until now, had no evidence of. That yer actual Neil Gaiman is almost as witty and gregarious a DVD commentator as one of the master's of the genre, yer actual Steven Moffat, is. The new 'Night and the Doctor' sequences are charming, clever and lovely (and one of them includes what is, quite possibly, the single greatest moment in canonical Doctor Who history. Bar none. You are, Mr Moffat, a very, very bad man!)
All in all, it's great and will be keeping this blogger thoroughly entertained for, ooo, at least the five week's until Christmas.
Right, from that, to the ratings. Here's the Top Twenty consolidated final ratings for week ending 13 November:-
1 The X Factor - ITV Sun - 11.85m
2 Strictly Come Dancing - BBC1 Sat - 11.40m
3 I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... - ITV Sun - 11.16m
4 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 9.61m
5 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 9.03m
6 Frozen Planet - BBC1 Wed - 8.84m
7 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 7.70m
8 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 7.50m
9 The Jury - ITV Mon - 7.04m
10 Antiques Roadshow - BBC1 Sun - 6.80m
11 Merlin - BBC1 Sat - 6.72m
12 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.64m
13 Garrow's Law - BBC1 Sun - 5.51m
14 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 5.47m
15 Waterloo Road - BBC1 Wed - 5.41m
16= Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Wed - 5.34m
16= Have I Got News For You - BBC1 Fri - 5.34m
18 International Football: England Vs Spain - ITV Sat - 5.31m
19 Festival of Remembrance - BBC1 Sat - 5.30m
20 Death In Paradise - BBC1 Tues - 5.28m
The figures for all ITV shows do include timeshifting via ITV+1 but do not include ITV HD, the numbers for which are, at this time, 'unavailable.' Strictly's final ratings on Saturday evening was - for the third week running - slightly higher than that night's episode of The X Factor's (11.23m). The Jury started with an impressive seven million on Monday but all of the other four episodes shown across the week had audiences in the five-to-five-and-a-half-million range (the second highest being Thursday's 5.49m). Frozen Planet during the week in question achieved a higher audience than one episode of EastEnders (Tuesdays) and three episodes of Coronation Street's (Thursday and both of Fridays). It was a good week all round for BBC2 with University Challenge (3.46m), the wretched Life's Too Short (a baffling 3.21m), three episodes of MasterChef: The Professionals (the best being Monday's 2.96m), Rev (2.81m), Qi (2.77m) and Strictly - It Takes Two (2.74m) all topping two and half million viewers. Channel Four's highest audience was a whopping 4.43m who watched the premiere of the movie Ice Age 3: Dawn Of The Dino. Elsewhere they only had one show over two and a half million, the inevitable Grand Designs (2.55m). Friday's Big Brother finale (2.18m) and the season premiere of The Mentalist (2.11m) both got over two million for Channel Five as, on multi-channels did ITV2's Celebrity Juice (2.27m) and Sky1's An Idiot Abroad (2.26m).

The X Factor final is, despite this year's ratings dip, the single biggest weekend of the year for TV advertising, the nearest thing Britain has to America's Super Bowl. But with audiences down by about fifteen per cent since last year after the departure of Simon Cowell, Danni Minogue and Cheryl Cole, advertisers, smelling blood, are reported to be challenging ITV's right to demand sky-high rates for next month's final. ITV's talent format, now into its eighth series, remains the most popular show on British television. But the channel faces a battle to achieve 2010's asking price of two hundred and fifty thousand smackers for a thirty-second slot in the final. Advertisers are attempting to negotiate discounts of about fifteen per cent, a price closer to two hundred thousand quid. For the first time since it launched in 2004, The X Factor audience is lower than in the previous year, with audiences for the 2011 series down by well over a million per episode. Negotiations are continuing in the run up to the final, as ITV hopes to hit its targets of bringing in more than twenty million mucho wonga by persuading advertisers that the full two hundred and fifty thousand spondoolicks remains 'a price worth paying' for the most watched TV show of the year. But if advertisers manage to get the discounts they're asking for in relation to the final, to be held in Wembley Arena on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 December, it could leave ITV down by as much as three million quid on last year. 'Demand from advertisers for this year's show is as high as ever,' ITV claimed. 'The X Factor final 2011 weekend promises to be an unmissable event.' No it doesn't. This blogger, for instance, can miss it very easily, thank you very much. Simply by watching something else. Bit of a radical suggestion there, I know, but then that's yer actual Keith Telly Topping, dear blog reader, full of such malarkey and shenanigans. Most advertising slots are sold close to the time of broadcast, known as 'late money,' typically attracting music and entertainment companies looking to promote Christmas releases and retailers trying to give a last-minute boost to flagging December sales figures. ITV - their sheer, unadulterated horrorshow greed dripping from their slavvering, disgraceful tongues - traditionally sells The X Factor final shows as a 'special' and attempts to squeeze a fifty per cent premium on typical primetime prices for adverts. However, advertisers are pointing to ITV's trading update last week, in which it forecast a relatively bleak festive season, with TV advertising revenues will be down by at least ten per cent compared with December 2010, as evidence that The X Factor is overpriced this year. The numbers of viewers in certain key demographics that advertisers target, including housewives and children, are down about seven per cent year-on-year for The X Factor's Saturday show and almost twelve per cent for the Sunday night results instalment. Another important audience is sixteen to thirty four-year-old adults and viewing among this group is down about eight per cent since last year on Saturdays and fourteen per cent on Sundays. And that, of course, is the demographic most chased by advertisers since - in theory, anyway - they're the ones with lots of disposable income. Despite the ratings decline it is thought advertisers have already bought all the slots for The X Factor semi-final, a sign that the franchise is still too big to ignore. 'It is still the marquee spot to have,' claims George Constantinou, group trading director at media buying agency Starcom MediaVest. 'We wouldn't be surprised to see The X Factor final sold out again, costing anywhere between two hundred and two hundred and thirty thousand pounds for a thirty-second spot.' The 2010 X Factor final averaged just over seventeen million viewers, with a five minute peak of more than nineteen million towards the end as Matt Cardle was announced as the winner.

Meanwhile, this coming Saturday's The X Factor quarter-final will have 'a Motown theme,' say reports. Does anyone else reckon that there are some crimes so wicked, so heinous, so vile that the only punishment fitting involved a blow torch, some pliers and a poker?
Just me then?
The parents of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler are among the first high-profile witnesses to give evidence to Lord Leveson's inquiry into press ethics. Sally and Bob Dowler are expected to describe the pain and suffering caused by the Scum of the World hacking into their daughter's phone after she went missing in 2002. Celebrities such as JK Rowling, Steve Coogan, Hugh Grant and Sienna Miller are also due to appear before the inquiry this week to give evidence on press intrusion and ethics. Last week, a QC detailed the 'euphoria' felt by Sally Dowler when she found messages deleted on her daughter's phone, falsely believing that meant Milly was still alive. However, the messages had actually been deleted by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator jailed for intercepting voicemails on behalf of the Scum of the World. David Sherborne, who represents fifty one victims of press intrusion, further claimed that the Scum of the World used information hacked from the Dowlers' phones for articles that intruded into 'their private grief.' Lawyer Mark Lewis, who represents the Dowlers and other phone hacking victims, and who was, himself, the subject of surveillance by the Scum of the World, will also appear before the inquiry. The Dowlers received a two million quid settlement from the paper's publisher News International over the hacking claims, along with a personal one million smackers donation from an allegedly contrite and humbled Rupert Murdoch to charities of their choice. Grant, who has been a committed, vocal and highly effective campaigner against press intrusion, will also appear before the inquiry today. The actor is expected to tell how the paparazzi hounded the mother of his baby daughter, after he secured a high court injunction earlier in the month over harassment of her and her child by photographers. The inquiry will further hear from lawyer Graham Shear, who represents victims of phone-hacking but is also believed to be a victim himself, along with writer Joan Smith, whose voicemails were alleged intercepted because of her relationship with the MP Denis MacShane. Coogan, supermodel Elle Macpherson's former business adviser Mary-Ellen Field, and former Premiership footballer Garry Flitcroft will give evidence tomorrow. On Wednesday, Gerry McCann, the father of missing child Madeleine, will give evidence before the commission. His wife Kate was said to feel 'mentally raped' after the now-defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World published details of her personal diary. Former England footballer Paul Gascoigne's ex-wife Sheryl and the journalist Tom Rowland will also appear on Wednesday, while Sienna Miller, JK Rowling and Max Mosley will speak on Thursday. Prime Minister David Cameron, in a desperate and obvious attempt to curry favour with the electorate after never having previously shown the slightest bit of interest in the doings of the Murdoch press, set up the judge-led inquiry in July in response the public outrage at revelations that the Scum of the World hacked Milly Dowler's phone, alongside various other shocking allegations.

Johnny Vegas has criticised BBC3 for cancelling his sitcom, Ideal, when its audience was at its peak. The channel's controller, Zai Bennett, pulled the plug on the sitcom this summer, even though its seventh and final series averaged over five hundred thousand viewers – twenty per cent up on the previous run. At the weekend Vegas collected the accolade for best performance in a comedy at the Royal Television Society North West award for his role as small-time drugs dealer Moz. And as he collected his prize, he attacked Bennett's decision. 'Thank you BBC,' trade magazine Broadcast reports him saying. 'When the numbers have never been higher, you've cancelled us. I'm being fired by the man who commissioned Kerry Katona. So I'm proud to do anything else that you're not involved in.' Also at the ceremony, The Royle Family special Joe's Crackers was named best comedy programme.

Nervy times for Channel Four executives as newly-appointed 'chief creative officer' Jay Hunt begins to shuffle her senior team about. The past two weeks have seen the departures of documentaries head Hamish Mykura, entertainment boss Darren Smith and daytime chief Helen Warner, who is 'to pursue a writing career.' Not the best moment, you might think, to have a pop at the bosses. Clearly no one had told this to Shane Allen, the channel's head of comedy, who hosted an event on Wednesday night to celebrate the success of The Inbetweeners Movie, which has taken more than forty five million quid at the box office. Allen reportedly introduced a preview tape of the channel's upcoming comic offerings which included tongue-in-cheek references to both Hunt and C4 chief executive David Abraham. A portrait of Sue Barker was used to illustrate a reference to Hunt, who was alleged to have stolen the scripts for her BBC1 sitcom Mrs Brown's Boys from two thousand-year-old scrolls unearthed by Time Team presenter Tony Robinson, while a giant photograph of Abraham's face was animated so that the chief executive appeared to pluck cartoon flies from the air using his tongue. One hopes, for Allen's sake, that those who pay his wages can take a joke. In television, that's never a given.
Sky Sports has been criticised by Ofcom over sponsorship credits for its international cricket coverage that constituted advertising for the performance of Jaguar cars. One sponsorship credit for cricket coverage on Sky Sports 1 featured a Jaguar car driving on a very wet road accompanied by Sky commentator David Lloyd saying: 'Well, that bit of rain hasn't changed the performance at all.' Media regulator Ofcom launched an investigation of the sponsorship under Rule 9.22(a) of the Broadcasting Code, which states that credits 'must not contain advertising messages.' Sky attempted, unsuccessfully, to argue that cricket is 'notoriously linked with delays for rain,' and so the Jaguar sponsorship credit thematically linked the sponsor to the programme in 'an elegant and interesting fashion.' And irritating. You forgot irritating. The broadcaster said that the voiceover given by commentator Lloyd made 'an obvious and immediate link from the sponsored programme to the sponsor credit.' However, Ofcom disagreed with Sky that the word 'performance' clearly referred to the actions of the cricketers, and not solely the quality of the car. The regulator acknowledged that Sky had tried to identify the sponsorship relationship between Jaguar and International Cricket by linking wet weather and the interruption of cricketing play. Ofcom also accepted that the sponsorship slogan could have a 'double meaning' in the minds of viewers, as in referring to the effect of rain on the cricket and the car's performance on the road. However, the watchdog ruled that the the double meaning 'does not necessarily prevent it from also amounting to an advertising message or claim about the sponsor or its products,' largely because the credit did not feature any images of cricket. Just the car. 'Ofcom considered that the intended double meaning of the phrase was unlikely to have been sufficiently clear to the audience. This was because, in Ofcom's view, there was more emphasis in the credit on the performance of the sponsor's product and its performance, than on cricket,' said the regulator. 'While we took into account that the voiceover stating "Well, that bit of rain hasn't changed the performance at all" was read by a Sky cricket commentator, the visual that accompanied the voiceover was of a Jaguar car driving in extremely wet conditions. There was no cricket imagery and no reference to any specific cricketing term. Ofcom concluded that viewers were therefore likely to understand the reference to "performance" to relate to the way in which the featured car functioned in wet driving conditions... it was a claim about a specific attribute of the sponsor's product, capable of objective substantiation. Such claims are not permitted in sponsorship credits.' In February, Sky was criticised by Ofcom over Currys' sponsorship of Sky1 show The Simpsons, which breached broadcasting regulations by 'veering too close to advertising.'

Meanwhile, the attorney general has today won permission to launch contempt of court proceedings against Sky News over the broadcaster's alleged breach of a media injunction. The court order in question covered reporting of the story of Paul and Rachel Chandler, the Kent couple who were held captive by Somali pirates for thirteen months. The media was blocked from publishing any details of the couple's 'health and welfare' prior to them being freed on 14 November 2010. The Chandlers had been sailing a yacht near the Seychelles when their vessel was hijacked by pirates, leading them to be kidnapped and held for ransom. Sky claims that it 'scrupulously observed the terms of the injunction,' but also admitted that it 'followed the spirit, if not the letter' of the order. At the time, lawyers representing the Chandlers obtained the court order over fears that their lives could be put in danger by the media reporting their capture. Sky News is alleged to have breached the injunction on the day of their release around a year ago from Somalia, leading attorney general Dominic Grieve QC to seek permission at the High Court to bring contempt proceedings. A spokesperson for Grieve said in a statement that Sky broadcast details of the Chandler's release before they had left Somalia and reached 'a place of safety.' The attorney general has already signalled a zero tolerance policy towards glakes by bringing various contempt cases against the media this year, including one against a number of newspapers for coverage of the arrest of Christopher Jefferies, the landlord of the murdered landscape architect Jo Yeates. The Mirra was fined fifty grand and the Sun eighteen thousand smackers for their disgraceful and prejudicial coverage of the arrest of Jefferies, who was later cleared on any involvement in the murder. The Press Gazette notes that Grieve has now launched more contempt proceedings against the media in his eighteen months in the role than his predecessors did in the entire previous decade. Former attorney general Lord Goldsmith QC brought just two media contempt cases during his six years in office to June 2007, while Baroness Scotland of Asthal brought only one case during her nearly three-year term.

The celebrations marking the bicentennial of Charles Dickens will include a - much-anticipated - BBC Arena special, directed by Anthony Wall, exploring the way his novels have been made into hundreds of films and television programmes, from the earliest silent movies, to versions around the world. Some wanker of no utter consequence at the Gruniad Morning Star, however, in that wretched newspaper's usual role as trouble-maker-in-chief, has alleged that BBC4 controller Richard Klein is 'not a great one for the arts' and took eighteen months to agree the commission. The finished product, the Gruniad hack suggests, 'will get a good send-off with a special preview at the start of the BFI's three-month celebration of Dickens on screen in December.' As will The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the BBC adaptation of the author's unfinished last novel, scheduled immediately after Christmas. Personally, yer actual Keith Telly Topping has always considered Dickens to be massively over-rated (The Signalman being the single greatest short-story in the English language notwithstanding). If he's been around today he either be a scriptwriter on EastEnders or a columnist on, ironically, the Gruniad.

Christine Bleakey, or, as she shall forevermore be known, Sacked Christine Bleakley has said that she is 'really looking forward' to working alongside Phillip Schofield on Twatting About On Ice. Which is probably just as well since The Orange One isn't going to be working alongside Adrian Chiles for too much longer. And still, the nation celebrates.
EastEnders' Charlie Brooks has reportedly signed up for this year's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special. The actress, who plays Janine Butcher in the BBC soap, is said to be 'progressing well' in rehearsals with her 'mystery' professional partner. According to 'sources', Brooks has 'always been interested in participating' in Strictly, but could not find time for a regular series. 'She loves Strictly but hasn't been able to commit to a full series as she's had such great storylines in EastEnders,' an alleged 'insider' allegedly told the Sun. So, it's up to you whether or not you believe this steaming pile of diarrhoea, dear blog reader. 'This is just perfect for her,' the alleged 'insider' alleged continued. Torchwood actor Big Gay John Barrowman won the 2010 Strictly Christmas special with his partner Kristina Rihanoff. And very good he was too. Fern Britton and EastEnders legend June Brown were among the other celebrities competing in the last festive edition.

And, speaking of Strictly Come Dancing, it was, by common consent, the most memorable entrance to a routine in the popular BBC celebrity dance competition's history. And has, hopefully, wiped all memories of that wretched old Tory faceache (and drag) Ann Widdecombe poncing around like a heifer-on-acid last year. Alas camp as Butlin's old bollock-faced Russell Grant's jive on Saturday, which began with him being fired from a cannon was also his last appearance as he was voted out on Sunday. Still, it was a memorable way to go – particularly for the uncredited third dance 'partner' who could briefly be spotted running after the starman's tumbling helmet. Probably not part of the choreography, but essential health and safety, it goes without saying.
Strange news from Televisual, whose readers will have noted the customary way of hinting at your availability for reality series in John Pilger's shock announcement that he is 'a fan of Come Dine with Me.' A hardboiled investigative reporters' edition is no doubt already being planned by Channel Four, perhaps showing Pilger, Peter Oborne, Ragi Omagh and Roger Cook taking turns to furiously denounce each other, while peering suspiciously at every dish offered. Will their table manners, or the way they handle tricky foreign dishes, give them away? For those who shine, the John Sergeant slot on Strictly surely beckons.

The great Tim Busfield has signed up for a guest role in Blue Bloods. The actor will appear in the CBS drama next year, Entertainment Weekly reports. His character Curtis, who is described as 'likeable and well-off,' is accused of murder by his stepdaughter when his second wife dies. However, the stepdaughter is said to be 'neurotic' and claims that God told her Curtis was responsible for her mother's death. Besides, the very idea of lovely Danny Concannon from The West Wing actually killing anybody is just too horrible to even contemplate! Busfield has previously starred in shows including thirtysomething, The West Wing and Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. He recently had a guest role in Law & Order: SVU.

Some very sad news now, 2011's been a really rotten year for some of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's heroes and heroines. They've been dropping like flies frankly and, yesterday, we lost another one - the great playwrite and author Shelagh Delaney. Shelagh was just eighteen when she wrote A Taste of Honey, one of the defining plays of the 1950s working-class and feminist cultural movements. The play, and its subsequent film adaptation, are generally considered to be part of Britain's 'kitchen sink realism' movement of the immediate post-war decade, which portrayed the gritty reality of working-class life and the 'angry young men' (and women!) who inhabited the strange, schizophrenic, one-foot-in-the-past Britain of the late 1950s. The genre also included works such as John Osborne's Look Back in Anger and Alan Sillitoe's Saturday Night and Sunday MorningA Taste of Honey's group of dysfunctional characters, utterly alien to the prevailing middle-class school of theatre, each explored their chances of attaining a glimpse of happiness. The central character, a young girl named Jo, lives in a decrepit flat in Salford with her mother, who is apt to wander off in pursuit of men with money. Jo becomes pregnant by a black sailor and is cared for by Geoffrey, a gay friend, until her mother ousts him in what could be a burst of suppressed maternal love or a display of jealous control-freakery. Delaney, who died of cancer aged seventy one, had to endure harsh criticism for her attack on the orthodoxies of the period. Her play was innovative in breaking several taboos discreetly observed by the likes of Noël Coward and Terence Rattigan, in whose dramas working-class characters generally appeared as chirpy subsidiaries and who mostly presented women as either madonnas or sluts. A Taste of Honey showed working-class women from a working-class woman's point of view, had a gay man as a central and sympathetic figure, and a black character who was neither idealised nor a racial stereotype. The play opened on 27 May 1958, at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, in London, where its success owed a great deal to Joan Littlewood, who did much to mother both playwright and play itself. In Salford, where Delaney was born, the council fumed that the portrayal was an insult to the town - just as they'd do two years later with Tony Warren's Coronation Street - but when the play became a runaway success, and Delaney a national celebrity, she was asked for her manuscript copy for its library. The feisty Delaney, who disliked being called a 'six-footer' (she was actually five feet eleven inches tall) called them a bunch of hypocrites, and gave the original script to Littlewood instead. A Taste of Honey moved to the Wyndham's theatre, in the West End, in 1959. She rebelled against a theatre which she saw as portraying 'safe, sheltered, cultured lives in charming surroundings, not life as the majority of ordinary people know it. No one in my play despairs,' Delaney added. 'Like the majority of people they take in their stride whatever happens to them and remain cheerful.' Delaney received the Charles Henry Foyle award for best new play and an Arts Council England bursary. In the same year, she sold the film rights for twenty thousand pounds, then a considerable sum of money. The film, which she scripted with the director Tony Richardson, and which starred Rita Tushingham as Jo, Dora Bryan as her mother and Murray Melvin as Geoffrey, was released in 1961. It won four BAFTA awards, including best British screenplay and best British film. Delaney was firmly launched on a playwright's career, but her subsequent work never quite achieved an impact as great as her groundbreaking debut. The familiar difficulty of writing a second hit bore down especially hard on her, not least because her first play had succeeded due to its apparent unselfconscious spontaneity. High expectations were disappointed with The Lion in Love, which was produced in 1960 at the Belgrade theatre, in Coventry, and transferred to the Royal Court in London later that year. Conservative critics such as WA Darlington did not like this portrayal of another northern family: a hard-drinking mother, a husband lacking the courage to leave her and a son choosing to quit home for Australia. However, a new breed of critics represented by Bernard Levin were more encouraging. 'The fact is, Miss Delaney is not only a shrewd and penetrating observer; she is a very delicate artist,' wrote Levin. Delaney's background made A Taste of Honey and The Lion in Love autobiographical, at least in spirit. She had Irish grandparents, one of them an ardent socialist. Her father was a Manchester bus inspector and an avid reader and storyteller. He would recount with flair his wartime experiences in the Lancashire Fusiliers in North Africa. Among the most vivid experiences of Delaney's childhood were going to the Salford Hippodrome and to the cinema, sometimes three times a week. She attended three primary schools, failed the eleven-plus and attended secondary school in Broughton, Lancashire, where the headteacher encouraged her to watch the school production of Othello. She was twelve and had already realised that she could write better than the other pupils in the class. Her interest in drama waxed as her interest in school work waned. She made three half-hearted attempts to transfer to the local grammar school but got there only at the age of fifteen. She left two years later and had little interest in studying to be a teacher, the most realistic career path on offer. Instead, she took dead-end jobs as a clerk in a milk depot, a shop assistant, an usherette at Manchester opera house and a worker in the research photography department of the electrical engineering company Metropolitan-Vickers. A Taste of Honey began as a novel but Delaney, as she later admitted, was soon too busy going out dancing and socialising of an evening to produce an eighty thousand-word book. A play seemed better attuned to her impulsive talent, and when she saw Rattigan's Variations On a Theme on tour, she thought she could do better. She took a fortnight off and wrote A Taste of Honey. Her subsequent career was mercurial and chequered. In 1960 A Taste of Honey opened on Broadway in New York – with Joan Plowright as Jo and Angela Lansbury as her mother – and ran for almost a year, with Plowright winning a Tony award for her performance. In the UK, the short BBC Monitor documentary Shelagh Delaney's Salford, directed by Ken Russell, profiled the author in her home town. In 1963, a book of her short stories, Sweetly Sings the Donkey, was published. Gradually she began to move towards films and television rather than the stage, a transition which she said was fine when it worked – but it often didn't. Her screenplay for Lindsay Anderson's surreal film The White Bus (1967) dealt with an enigmatic young girl from the North who retreats from her disastrous office life in London to view her home town as a visitor on a sightseeing bus. She also wrote Charlie Bubbles (1967), starring Albert Finney – who also directed – as a writer running out of material and behaving in obsessive and destructive ways; the film became something of a cult movie. Her television plays in the 1970s included Did Your Nanny Come from Bergen?, St Martin's Summer and The House That Jack Built, a six-parter for the BBC in 1977 which was subsequently staged in New York. She continued to write new material, including the radio plays So Does the Nightingale (1980) and Don't Worry About Matilda (1983), but her earlier work continued to gain greater attention. Lines from A Taste of Honey were adopted in lyrics by Morrissey - a besotted Delaney worshipper - and she featured on the cover of The Smith's 1987 single 'Girlfriend in a Coma.' Many of Morrissey's best lyrics had been drawn from themes which Delaney championed and the singer was quite open by the influence - notably one songs like 'Reel Around The Fountain', 'This Charming Man' and 'This Night Has Opened My Eye.' Not that pop-culture worship of Shelagh was a new thing. The Beatles had also been fans of Delaney's work and showed their appreciation for her by recording their own version of the theme from the 1961 film adaptation of A Taste Of Honey. A Taste of Honey was revived by the Roundabout theatre company in New York in 1981 with a Tony-nominated Amanda Plummer as Jo. Delaney had a new success with her screenplay for Dance With a Stranger (1985), based on the life of Ruth Ellis, who was hanged in 1955 for shooting her lover. The film was directed by Mike Newell and starred Miranda Richardson as Ellis. Delaney's subsequent work included the films Three Days in August (1992) and The Railway Station Man (1992) and the radio plays Tell Me a Film (2003) and Country Life (2004). She was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1985. Delaney is survived by her daughter, Charlotte, and her grandchildren, Max, Gable and Rosa.

Frankenstein stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller have been named joint winners of the best actor award at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. Cumberbatch and Miller alternated in the roles of Frankenstein and The Creature in Danny Boyle's National Theatre production. Richard Bean's The Heretic and One Man, Two Guvnors, starring the odious James Corden, both took the prize for best play. The awards were hosted by Dame Edna Everage at London's Savoy Hotel. In deciding the best actor prize, the judges - made up of leading theatre critics - said it would have been 'invidious' not to recognise both actors. Sherlock star Cumberbatch said: 'What a journey this was, I'm so happy we're sharing this, it would have made no sense otherwise.' Miller said: 'It was literally a monster of a production.' He praised the 'sheer bloody genius' of director Danny Boyle and thanked Cumberbatch for 'having no ego' about sharing the roles. Earlier Miller had told the BBC that the play had been the most challenging of his career. He said: 'The roles were so different and it was wonderful to have the chance to explore two different sides to a play. For that reason you couldn't have a favourite role, but The Creature was more physical and more demanding and you sweated a ton.' Sheridan Smith beat off stiff competition to take the Natasha Richardson Award for best actress for her role as a former barmaid alongside Sienna Miller in Terence Rattigan's wartime drama, Flare Path. 'Are you sure?' asked Smith, who was overcome with emotion when her name was read out. The actress had been a contender for the same prize last year for Legally Blonde. Richard Bean picked up the best play prize for both The Heretic and One Man, Two Governors - the latter being a slapstick adaptation of Carlo Goldoni's Eighteenth Century comedy. Picking up his award, Bean quipped: 'I feel a little bit guilty about winning the award for best new play with a two hundred and seventy-year-old comedy written by somebody else.' The former stand-up comedian added: 'When Carlo Goldoni died he left his wife penniless. And she's not going to get anything out of me either.' Bean's other winning play, The Heretic, was a black comedy about climate change at the Royal Court, starring Juliet Stevenson. Kristin Scott Thomas, who was beaten in the best actress category, did not walk away empty-handed. She was honoured with the Lebedev Special Award, presented by Stephen Fry. Michael Grandage, who is leaving the Donmar Warehouse after a decade as artistic director, was honoured with the Editor's Award, for turning the Covent Garden venue into a 'hit factory.' Sir Tom Stoppard received recognition for his contribution to Russian theatre and the international stage with the Moscow Art Theatre's Golden Seagull. Matilda the Musical won the Ned Sherrin Award for best musical, beating Betty Blue Eyes and London Road. The RSC production, based on the Roald Dahl book, is about to open in the West End and features songs by comedian Tim Minchin. Minchin said: 'Coming from pro-am theatre in Western Australia, and singing foul songs, to working with people like the RSC is incredible and has been completely life-changing.' The best director award went to Mike Leigh for Grief, his 1950s-set play at the National Theatre about a war widow and her family. Leigh admitted: 'This is genuinely a surprise. I have to share with you this is the first time I've ever had an award for directing a play.' The outstanding newcomer award went to American Kyle Soller for a trio of performances in The Glass Menagerie, Government Inspector (both Young Vic) and The Faith Machine (Royal Court). Having been pitted against his wife, the actress Phoebe Fox, in the same category, he said of his statuette: 'I've got to split this in half when I go home.' Meanwhile, the most promising playwright award - with three thousand quid prize money - went to Penelope Skinner for her play The Village Bike, which starred Romola Garai at the Royal Court. The Pet Shop Boys' venture into ballet at Sadler's Wells - with choreographer Javier de Frutos - received a new prize, the Beyond Theatre Award. Among those presenting the prizes were Miranda Hart, Doctor Who's Karen Gillan, Anna Chancellor, Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens, Gemma Arterton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Sam Taylor Wood.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are to tour in 2012, it has been announced. The singer on his website his European dates would run from May to July, while US and world concert details will be announced shortly. The band will also headline next year's Hard Rock Calling and Isle of Wight Festival in the UK. It will be the group's first tour since saxophonist Clarence Clemons died following a stroke in June. Springsteen added on his site: 'We want you to know that the music is almost done (but still untitled). We have almost settled on the release date (but not quite yet), and that we are all incredibly excited about everything that we're planning for 2012.' Springsteen last toured in 2009 with his Working on a Dream tour, the third biggest earning tour of the year behind U2 and Madonna, making one hundred and fifty six million dollars. It will be the second time the singer has topped the bill at Hard Rock Calling, after headlining in 2009. 'It's great to welcome Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band back to Hyde Park,' said Live Nation promoter Toby Leighton-Pope. 'They always put on a fantastic show and 2012 is set to be a special one,' he added. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping as it happens last saw The Boss and The Boys (and Girls) live back in the early nineties. So, frankly, it's high about time that he got his ass along to one of these gigs. Finance permitting, of course!

Pakistan's telecommunications agency has banned over one thousand six hundred offensive words from being sent via text message. A list of five hundred and eighty six Urdu words and eleven hundred and nine English words were present on a blacklist compiled by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and leaked to the media this week. Although most words were expletives or carried sexual connotations, there were many more surprising entries. Among the words included in the dictionary were 'intercourse', 'condom' and 'breast', as well as seemingly ordinary words like 'period', 'hostage' and 'flatulence'. The words 'monkey crotch', 'wuutang' and 'Jesus Christ' have also been deemed as offensive. As has 'Piers Morgan.' Obviously. Mobile phone companies in the country have reportedly been commanded to screen messages from 21 November, with two confirming to the BBC that they have received the list. The Pakistan Telecommunication Agency said that the ban was in response to numerous complaints from customers who have received abusive text messages.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day and, given two of today's news stories it's a pretty obvious choice, frankly. There's this one.
And, this one.

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