Sunday, November 13, 2011

Some Things Take So Long

The X Factor has been 'thrown into further chaos' - according to a few tabloids and at least one website - after Saturday's show was delayed by 'technical difficulties.' Viewers were kept waiting for fifteen minutes as they tuned in to see the final six contestants perform a 'Lady GaGa versus Queen' tribute and discover who out of Amelia Lily, James Michael, Jonjo Kerr and Two Shoes would be returning to the competition. Instead, ITV screened a montage of some of the series's more notable auditions, including the debut performances of finalists Janet Devlin, Sami Brookes and Johnny Robinson, controversially-axed contestant Jade Richards and Goldie Cheung, who quit after being granted a spot in the final sixteen by Louis Walsh. X Factor announcer Peter Dickson was among those discussing the issue on Twitter, saying: "OMG! We have technical difficulties. People scrambling all over the studio now, hopefully on air soon.' The official X Factor Twitter account later clarified the situation: 'The studio is ready and raring to go. but there is a technical failure at BT Tower.' When the show finally began, host Dermot O'Dreary apologised on behalf of the show and said that the delay was 'beyond our control.'

Despite the 'technical difficulties,' The X Factor increased its audience by one million viewers week-on-week to score an average overnight audience of 10.58m. A further two hundred and fifty two thousand punters watched an hour later. Spin-off programme The Xtra Factor was watched by six hundred and eighty thousand viewers on ITV2 to take second place in the day's multichannel listings. It was beaten by Keith Lemon's Celebrity Juice, which was watched by seven hundred and thirty five thousand. Earlier on ITV, Harry Hill's TV Burp scored 4.83m and a further two hundred and seven thousand punters on ITV+1. Live coverage of the England football team's surprise 1-0 victory over world champions Spain had an average audience of 6.4m. On BBC1, Strictly Come Dancing foxtrotted its way to 10.26m from 7pm, also significantly upon on last week's figure, while Merlin remained impressively steady at 5.4m. The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance was watched by 5.12m following the 9pm lottery draw. Come Fly With Me: The Story of Pan Am had an audience of 1.45m on BBC2 at 8pm, and Qi XL was watched by 1.38m an hour later. George Harrison: Living in the Material World brought in an audience of just over one and half million once the Stephen Fry quiz show had ended at 9:45pm. Both the BBC and ITV would've been well satisfied as both Strictly and The X Factor attracted peak audiences of exactly the same figure - 11.8 million viewers. The two big Saturday night entertainment shows saw a massive share of the audience tune in.

However, X Factor bosses subsequently had to deny claims that Amelia Lily's return to the show was 'fixed' after it was reported online an hour before the result was officially announced. STV, which broadcasts ITV programmes in Scotland, published an article on its website at 8.06pm reporting that Lily had won the public vote to return over James Michael, Jonjo Kerr and Two Shoes. It said: 'Amelia Lily is back in The X Factor after ­winning the public vote tonight. As Dermot O'Leary read out her name, mentor Kelly Rowland jumped to her feet screaming as Amelia Lily looked stunned. Now's the time for Amelia to prove that she really does have The X Factor and can take on the remaining acts in the­ ­competition as she goes on to deliver a performance of, ­appropriately, 'The Show Must Go On'.' Lily was later confirmed as the returning act, with Rowland reacting pretty much exactly as the story had predicted. The mistake came after the start of The X Factor was delayed due to a power failure at London's BT Tower. STV insisted that it had pre-prepared articles in the event of all four acts returning. On The Xtra Factor, Caroline Flack said: 'A few people on ­Twitter have picked up on a mistake on the STV website about the result of the phone vote. We can assure we didn't know who was going to go through until the phone line actually closed.' STV told the Sunday Mirra: 'The STV web team prepared stories ­regarding each contestant in ­anticipation of the result and due to a technical hitch, all four stories went live on our website. We would stress that this was purely a technical hitch and for this we ­apologise.' The X Factor press office also tweeted that the story had been released 'by mistake' due to technical difficulties and encouraged fans to continue ­voting.

And, in more bad news, The Only Way Is Essex has reportedly been recommissioned for four more series. Don't blame yer actual Keith Telly Topping, dear blog reader, I just report the news.

The BBC World Service stands to benefit from a ninety million quid government grant. The five-year grant between the BBC World Service Trust and the Department for International Development will focus on fourteen countries. International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell called the media 'one of our most powerful tools: We want to give people knowledge and a voice.' Last year, ministers announced the Foreign Office would no longer fund the World Service from 2014. In October 2010, the government reduced the World Service's two hundred and thirty seven million smackers annual budget by sixteen per cent. In response to the cuts, the BBC said it would close five of its thirty two language services and cut up to six hundred and fifty jobs over three years. Earlier this year, the World Service also announced that it would end radio programming in seven languages, including Russian, Mandarin Chinese and Ukrainian. The five-year grant follows suggestions by an MPs' committee in April to use part of the Department for International Development's budget to make up the shortfall in World Service funding. DfID is one of just two government departments to have its budget protected amid huge cuts. The money will go directly to the BBC World Service Trust, a charitable organisation which works with hundreds of different broadcasters across the world. Funds will be aimed at social networking websites and mobile phone technology, as well as traditional radio output, in countries including Burma, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories. 'The Arab Spring showed how access to free and trustworthy information can have profound social consequences,' said Department Secretary, Mitchell. 'We want to build on that. This grant recognised the vital role we play and will help us reach two hundred million people across fourteen countries over the next five years,' added Caroline Nursery, director of the BBC World Service Trust. However, a Trust spokesman said the grant would have only a 'modest, indirect benefit' on the World Service, adding: 'The World Service Trust is a charity that is legally and financially independent and has its own distinct mission.' The BBC World Service is currently funded by the UK government through parliamentary grant-in-aid, administered by the Foreign Office. The service, which started broadcasting in 1932, currently costs two hundred and seventy two million quid a year and has an audience of two hundred and forty one million people worldwide across radio, television and online.

Partick Thistle manager Jackie McNamara has launched a new career - as the writer of a television sitcom. The thirty eight-year-old has co-written The Therapy Room with actor and comedy writer Francis Gilhooley. Their show's pilot has recently been screened in an Edinburgh cinema as they look to attract a major broadcaster to turn it into a television series. 'I think it would be well past the watershed,' said McNamara. 'As you can imagine, there's a lot of swearing.' The comedy stars Billy Elliot, Orphans, Neds and Gangs Of New York actor Gary Lewis as the manager of a Premier League football club. McNamara's actor brother, Donny, is a young player catapulted from amateur football to potential stardom in the English top flight. And many of the scenes owe much to the Jags manager's own experiences in the game. He played at full-back and in midfield for Scotland, Dunfermline Athletic, Celtic, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Aberdeen, Falkirk and Thistle before taking over the manager's role with the First Division club in April. 'They were just things I had in my mind for a long time, playing football,' said McNamara. 'I think a lot of players had a lot of stories over the years and it's just my way of putting them into a comedy and making characters up. Some people go and do a book or an autobiography. This is my way of doing things.' Gilhooley, who has acted in BBC Scotland's Still Game sitcom about two boisterous pensioners and written for the football comedy sketch show Only An Excuse, explained that he first met McNamara in a superstore car park. 'Jackie's a real good motivator,' revealed the actor. 'I think it was the next day or that afternoon and he said, "Fran, I can come up now." It is hard to be believe that we have went from that and, within twelve months, we're here and the pilot's finished.'

His lyrics are not usually associated with festive cheer - 'Meat is Murder' for instance accuses those tucking into their turkey of crimes against humanity - but Morrissey has reportedly permitted the department store John Lewis to use a song by The Smiths for its Christmas advert. According to the Daily Torygraph, the famously curmudgeonly singer has given his blessing for a cover version of 'Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want' to feature on the chain's six million quid television festive advertising campaign. The song will be performed by Slow Moving Millie, a relatively unknown musician and actor whose real name is Amelia Warner and was once briefly married to the Hollywood actor Colin Farrell. The advert will first go out on Facebook and YouTube on Friday, followed by a series of prime time slots over the next five weeks, including a break during The X Factor on Saturday night. Created by advertising agency Adam And Eve and directed by Dougal Wilson, it focuses on the joy of giving loved ones the perfect present at Christmas time. The song will appear as ninety, sixty, thirty and twenty-second versions of the advert, which features the slogan: 'John Lewis: for gifts you can't wait to give.' Craig Inglis, John Lewis's marketing director, said Morrissey was 'delighted' that the chain was using the song, which was first released as the B-side on The Smiths' 1984 single 'William, It Was Really Nothing'. 'It wasn't a long and difficult road actually. It was relatively straightforward getting the rights,' he said. 'We approached the record company and Morrissey back in July, and they gave their approval. It is an iconic track from an iconic British band.' it's not a 'track', mate. Tracks are what trains run on. It's a song. Hippie. 'We know our audience holds The Smiths and bands from that era in high esteem.' He added: 'It's a magical feeling when you find that perfect present for someone; there's a great sense of anticipation from the moment you buy it to the moment you give the gift on the big day. That feeling is exactly what we’ve tried to capture with this year's Christmas campaign.' Ruth Paterson, head of marketing at Rough Trade, the record label which released most of The Smiths' work, said she was 'entertained' by the collaboration. 'I do like the idea of a really good song by a really good band being played in Middle England's living rooms,' she told The Times. 'I'm sure that wasn't the song's intended purpose, but I think that's a good thing.' The deal is likely to provide a substantial pecuniary boost for Morrissey, who is revered as one of the most influential lyricists of all time, and his co-writer Johnny Marr. The retailer's festive marketing campaigns are traditionally eagerly-awaited productions, with last year's TV advert featuring Ellie Goulding caterwauling her way, dreadfully, through Elton John's 'Your Song'. Director Wilson has worked with John Lewis in the past, and was responsible for the retailer's popular Never Knowingly Undersold advert in spring 2010, featuring the Billy Joel hit 'Always a Woman', performed by Fyfe Dangerfield.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton returned to form to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel retired. Hamilton was gifted the lead when Red Bull's world champion retired on the opening lap because of a puncture going through the second corner. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso pushed hard and tried to take the lead at the final pit stop but Hamilton was too strong. Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Jenson Button took third from Red Bull's Mark Webber while Paul di Resta was ninth for Force India. Hamilton said on arrival in Abu Dhabi that winning the final two races here and in Brazil would help 'turn around' a 'difficult season' in which he has struggled on and off the track. 'He just turned it on here and looked like the old Lewis again,' said BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle. 'There is nothing missing in his armoury but sometimes he seems emotionally like he's not in the race. But there were no tantrums. He just got in it and got on.' Hamilton has been in confident mood and full of enthusiasm for the Yas Marina circuit, where he lost out on victory at its inaugural 2009 race when he was forced to retire. There was some irony, then, that Vettel, who won the two previous races here in the desert, retired to gift Hamilton the lead. The double world champion spun at the second corner when his right rear wheel suddenly punctured and his Red Bull slid onto the grass. He damaged the car further on his way back to the pits and looked furious when it dawned on him he was out of the race. 'He had damage to the floor and the exhaust and part of the wishbone,' explained BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz. 'He just couldn't carry on.' It was Vettel's first retirement since last year's Korean Grand Prix - more than a year ago - and ended his run as the only driver to finish every race so far in 2011. 'I don't know what happened,' Vettel said. 'We lost pressure all of a sudden out of the exit of Turn One. I don't why. There is nothing that I did differently to any of the other laps. We need to find out why, maybe I cut the kerb at a funny angle. It is tough, but I used the opportunity to learn a bit on the pit wall.' Vettel had snatched pole from Hamilton by just 0.141 seconds but the Englishman has been strong here all weekend and ran a controlled race to capture his third win of the season to match Button's record. Hamilton dedicated the win to his mother Carmen, who was there to greet him with a hug when he got out of the car. Alonso, who appeared to have made up with his former foe by complimenting him in the build-up to the race, pushed Hamilton hard in the final phase of the race. When Hamilton pitted for the harder tyres with sixteen laps to go, Alonso stayed out to try and build up his lead but came in four laps later. The Spaniard had not done enough and Hamilton resumed his lead to win by nearly nine seconds. 'I feel fantastic,' Hamilton said. 'It was one of my best races. To hold off one of the best drivers in the world is very tough to do. I'm just happy. It's early days but this is definitely the start of something. We've got another great race ahead of us in Brazil. I've just got to keep my mind on the game.' Alonso added: 'It was a fantastic race for me as well. We fight most of the race three-five seconds distance to Lewis. We were close but we had some traffic in the pit entry behind a HRT and in the last stint they had a little bit more pace so it would have been difficult to win the race even if we had got into the lead. I'm happy with second.' Button finished third but had to battle Webber and Ferrari's Felipe Massa for position after losing his Kers power boost system for half the race. Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said: 'Jenson spent twenty laps without Kers. Then we re-set it and then it would fail and during that time he was trying to keep rhythm and pace and his brake balance was swinging wildly with the failure of Kers.' Webber had been running in third for much of the race but the Australian was switched to a three-stop strategy and ran until the final lap before making his obligatory stop for the harder medium tyres, which put him back behind Button for the final podium place. 'Well obviously on the second stop, we fitted the option tyre again to cut the race into something different. It was worth a bit of a punt,' Webber said. 'The two DRS (overtaking zones) were tricky. The first one was easy but the second wasn't so easy. The DRS was a bit of a gimme today. We had pretty good pace and I was close to Jenson Button at the end of the first stint. Then we had a bad first pit stop. We lost a lot of time. It put us on the back foot. We lost track position. That's where we lost the podium.' Massa gained one place to finish fifth ahead of Nico Rosberg, who bravely re-passed his Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher after losing out to him at the start. Adrian Sutil, who is under pressure for his seat at Force India, beat his team-mate Paul di Resta, who crossed the line in ninth after an unconventional one-stop strategy. Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi took the final points with tenth and veteran Rubens Barrichello fought hard in his Williams to take twelfth after starting at the back of the grid.

Statutory regulation of the press would 'pose a real danger,' BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has told the Society of Editors conference. Speaking a day before the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics after the tabloid phone hacking scandal opens, he said: 'Only the press can reform the press.' Yeah, cos that's always worked in the past, hasn't it? Tabloids' 'vigour is an important part of the liveliness of our democracy,' he added. He also said alleged criminality by Scum of the World was 'indefensible.' In a wide-ranging lecture, entitled Ethics and Journalism after the News of the World, he decried 'the sort of criminal behaviour that, it is alleged, was institutionalised at the News of the World.' But he said: 'I have no wish to turn our tabloids into trimmed down versions of The Church Times.' However, he maintained that the sort of regulation imposed on broadcasters - via Ofcom, and the BBC Trust - 'would not work for newspapers. There is a kind of symbiosis between the BBC and the press. We do different but complementary things,' said Lord Patten. 'The BBC depends on the press for some of its news agenda and it gives some stories back to the press to pursue further,' he added, referring to the MPs' expenses scandal and the ongoing investigation into phone-hacking. 'The style of the tabloids is not something we could or should try to match. But nor should we be snobbish or squeamish about it.' He said: 'Free speech would truly be damaged if a single group of people, beholden to and perhaps even appointed by politicians, were to have the power to decide what should or should not be published.' However, he urged newspapers to find a way to re-establish trust with the public. 'It is particularly important because newspapers have played, and continue to play, a fundamental role in our democratic life,' said Patten, who called for some kind of self-regulatory code of behaviour akin to the Hippocratic Oath. The former cabinet minister was at pains to praise the large numbers of journalists 'not least in the local and regional press, who are doing an honest job without any great reward.' But, he cautioned: 'Like free markets, freedom of speech can produce harmful effects if it is completely unlimited. It's not helpful if newspapers cite "free speech" as a blanket justification for every story, every intrusion, every piece of celebrity tittle-tattle, no matter what the circumstances.'

Derbyshire police have made a number of arrests after offering wanted criminals free alcohol. Undercover officers phoned dozens of people who had evaded arrest pretending to be a marketing company giving away crates of beer, the Daily Torygraph reports. Arranging a time to deliver, the police were able to arrest a total of nineteen suspects who fell for the trick, hook line and sinker. Chief Inspector Graham McLaughlin said: 'These suspects are people who have managed to evade arrest for some time so we have used different tactics to find them. It has been very cost effective as it can take a lot of time and money to track people down. We use a variety of methods to arrest those suspected of committing criminal offences and we will continue to use new tactics when necessary.' it also proves that most criminals in Derbyshire are, it would seem, really stupid. When something sounds 'too good to be true', that's usually because it is.

Some very sad news, now. The former Somerset cricket captain Peter Roebuck has been found dead at a hotel in South Africa, where he was was covering Australia's Test series after an apparent suicide. He was fifty five. South African police told Reuters a 'cricket commentator committed suicide' but would not disclose his identity until next of kin had been informed. A talented batsman Roebuck led Somerset for much of the 1980s, scoring at least one thousand runs nine times in twelve seasons. Part of the county's successful youth policy Peter came through the ranks at around the same time as future internationals Ian Botham and Vic Marks. As a batsman in Somerset's middle order, his role was chiefly to keep Viv Richards and Botham apart for as long as possible. Often he did this in dogged, unspectacular fashion. Jeff Thomson, at mid-off when playing for Middlesex, once bellowed to his captain, Mike Brearley: 'I need a bloody deck chair here.' Later, as an opener, Roebuck became more dominant. Many far worse players represented England in the 1880s. As a willowy teenager with glasses, huge hands and feet, he was first selected by Somerset's Second XI at the age of just thirteen to bowl his occasional leg-breaks. Soon after that he was captaining England Public Schools Under-Fifteens. After retiring from the game, he moved to Australia and became a broadcaster and journalist. He wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Cricinfo website and quickly became as respected in the field of journalism as he was as a player. Roebuck, whose straw hat made him instantly recognisable in the press box, had been working for the Herald and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation during Australia's Test series against South Africa. Numerous cricket personalities took to Twitter to leave their tributes to Roebuck. BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew tweeted: 'Just heard about Peter Roebuck. Loved working with him. Incisive. Erudite. Funny. Don't know the full story.' Former England captain and now commentator Tony Greig wrote: 'The death of Peter Roebuck leaves the grass less green and cricket without its most effective investigative journalist.' Another former England cricketer-turned-journalist, Derek Pringle added: 'Peter Roebuck was a tortured, driven soul, but his suicide still comes as a shock. Cricket has lost its most erudite idealist.' His former team-mate Vic Marks wrote in the Gruniad: 'One of the most gifted writers about the game, [he] was a complex man with a brilliant mind. He was also far more troubled and insecure than he liked to let on. He would bare his soul on anything to do with cricket – or politics – fearlessly, with wit and brutal honesty and often at great length. About himself he would reveal practically nothing.' ABC's Craig Norenbergs described the news of Roebuck's passing as 'incredibly sad.' He added: 'He was an integral part of the Grandstand commentary team, apart from being a magnificent print journalist. For us he could describe a game of cricket in such a way that even if you didn't like the game, you liked the way that he went about his business.' In a statement released by Cricket Australia, the governing body's chief executive officer James Sutherland paid tribute to Roebuck. 'Peter was a familiar face around Australian cricket who had been with the team only hours before his sudden death,' he said. 'He bought particular insight to his commentary based on his lengthy experience as a first-class cricketer and captain, and combined that with a singular flair for the written and spoken word. He spoke his mind frankly and while one didn't necessarily always have to agree, you always respected what he had to say.'

Finally, there's yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) - and one 33 - on the Day which, for one day only, celebrates Martin Scorsese's rather fine George Harrison documentary on BBC2 this weekend with a few choice selections from the Dark Horse's finest work. Like this one, for instance.
And this one.
And this one.
And this one.

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