Wednesday, November 09, 2011

You Came Exactly On The Hour, Such Precision Worries Me

Law & Order: UK's Jamie Bamber (or, if you're American, Battlestar Galactica's Jamie Bamber) was the guest very-sick-person of the week in the latest episode of House - The Confession. But, to be honest, that part of the episode was the single least interesting thing about it. Not that Bamber was bad, of course. Far from it he's a very good actor. Far more intriguing, however, were the returns of both Taub and Chase and the fascinating dynamic of House's new team interacting with each other for the first time. Plus, the sequences involving Taub's two babies were really funny. Throw in a couple of very amusing subplots concerning Wilson and Foreman and you had, easily, the best episode of the eighth season so far. If, as seems likely, this year is House's swansong then it's jolly good to note that, even after seven years and a hundred and fifty odd episodes it still has the ability to produce episodes as good as this one.

Meanwhile, over in Hawaii Five-0 in their latest episode - Lapa'au - they were getting all weirdly intertextual and in-jokey. Most notably in the scene where Max (Masi Oka) is introduced to guest star Greg Grunberg and does an entire 'I'm sure I know you from somewhere,' routine. Yeah, that'll be the four years you spent together in Heroes, matey. One year of which was really rather good. The other three, however ... not so much. The episode itself wasn't one of the series' best either, although Scott Caan continues to act just about everybody else in the show off-screen (including, this week, a dog. That takes some doing). But, as usual, aesthetic considerations (the locations remain beautiful), smart dialogue and some cleverly constructed conceits (a plane crashing into the sea in the pre-title sequence) conspire to make something which is, often, far greater than the sum of its parts.
Plus, you know, Grace Park in a tight T-shirt. This blogger is a man of very simple pleasures, dear blog reader. Very simple pleasures indeed.

Steven Moffat has admitted that he feared BBC1's Sherlock was something of a vanity project. The writer told the Daily Scum Express that he did not expect the detective drama to become such a big hit. 'It felt like a vanity project,' he confessed. "I always thought it would be good and get good reviews, [but] I never thought it would be an instant monster. That never happens – having good reviews with a huge audience and all the awards – you couldn't expect it to happen.' The second series of Sherlock will debut on BBC1 early in 2012, with Moffat writing the opening episode A Scandal In Belgravia. The premiere instalment will introduce Irene Adler (played by Lara Pulver from [spooks]) to the show, whilst Being Human's Russell Tovey will appear in the second episode, The Hounds of Baskerville. No prises for guessing what original Holmes story Mark Gatiss's script for that one will be adapting. Steve Thompson, meanwhile, will adapt Arthur Conan Doyle's The Final Problem as The Reichenbach Fall. After which, hopefully, series three will be announced immediately.

The second part of ITV's The Jury had an overnight audience of 4.2m in the 9pm hour on Tuesday evening, down by more than two million viewers on the previous night's premiere. A further two hundred and sixty thousand watched the episode on ITV+1. Also in the 9pm slot, BBC1's Death In Paradise was seen by 4.3m. Death in Paradise won its time slot for the third week in the row, despite Tuesday's episode of the eight-part series losing around a million viewers from last week's audience of 5.4 million mostly, on suspects because of the strength of the opposition this time around.
The Unforgettable Norman Wisdom had an audience of 3.13m on ITV from 7.30pm. Massive flop Jeremy Kyle vehicle High Stakes had a risible 2.32m watching it in the 8pm hour, and was beaten, soundly and satisfyingly, by Holby City's 5.57m on BBC1. The excellent Imagine documentary special Simon & Garfunkel: The Harmony Game was watched by 2.14m on BBC1 from 10.45pm. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping was going to watch it himself but he was too tired and so went to bed. But, happily, he record it on DVD so he could watch it today. Modern technology, eh? What would we do without it? Just putting High Stakes' truly dreadful performance into a bit of perspective it was also beaten by BBC2's MasterChef: The Professionals with the popular cookery franchise continuing to recover well from the Celebrity MasterChef scheduling debacle earlier this year with an audience of 2.36m in the 7pm hour. James May's Man Lab continued with a steady two million punters from 8pm and a further one hundred and thirteen thousand on BBC HD. Dam Busters: The Race to Smash the German Dams also had a more than decent audience of 2.23m from 9pm.

Strictly Come Dancing professional Artem Chigvintsev has pulled out of this weekend's show, the BBC has confirmed. Chigvintsev, who partners Australian singer (allegedly) and actress (even more allegedly) Holly Valance on the reality show, is suffering from a back injury. Brendan Cole, who partnered Lulu but was voted out of Strictly on Sunday, will replace the Russian until he's better. A BBC spokesperson said in a statement: 'Artem was initially diagnosed with a transverse process fracture of the lumbar spine. However, the latest medical advice from a spinal specialist following further scans is that he is suffering with a combination of joint and soft tissue injury. While this medical advice is more encouraging he will still need to rest, so will not be dancing this Saturday. Brendan Cole will partner Holly in this Saturday's show.' Valance commented: 'I'm obviously disappointed I won't be dancing with Artem this weekend, but his well-being is very important to me, and Brendan is an awesome guy and we're working hard to bring something new and exciting to this Saturday's show.' Meanwhile, Cole declared: 'I'm extremely happy to be asked by Artem to stand in for him this week. It is never nice under the circumstances but I'll do my utmost to help him and Holly out and I'm really excited to have the opportunity to dance with Holly.'

The lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt personally intervened in a failed attempt to delay a Panorama exposé of FIFA bribery prior to the crucial vote on the host nation for the 2018 World Cup. John Ware, an award-winning veteran Panorama reporter, claimed that 'a government minister' had telephoned the BBC director general, Mark Thompson, in November 2010 and told him it would be 'helpful' if the corporation delayed the programme. 'The director general then said "Did you want me to phone the editor and tell him to delay it? Within minutes it will end up on MediaGuardian and it will be on your doorstep. Is that what you want?"' Ware added, speaking on Monday night at a Royal Television Society seminar, The Future of Investigative Journalism. During the seminar, Ware described the politician only as 'a government minister.' However, the Gruniad Morning Star says that it 'understands' the minister referred to was, indeed, the vile and odious pompous rascal (and drag) Hunt. The BBC1 broadcast of Panorama: FIFA's Dirty Secrets went ahead as planned on Monday 29 November, three days before the crucial vote on the hosting the 2018 World Cup, despite criticism from politicians – including David Cameron, who described the timing as 'frustrating' – and others that it could damage England's bid. As noted on this blog at the time, the BBC faced accusations of being 'unpatriotic,' by Andy Anson, the head of England's 2018 World Cup bid. And, therefore, hardly an impartial source in this matter. 'I'm incredibly disappointed with the timing of what the BBC seem to be proposing with Panorama,' he said. The BBC argue that the programme, will be 'in the public interest.' And it's jolly hard to argue against that - particularly as any notions of 'patriotism' have absolutely no place in the world of investigative journalism, that's a ludicrous, banal and risible suggestion. If there had been corruption going on, and the BBC could prove it in this programme, then they had a moral right - indeed many would argue a public duty - to bring such wrongdoing into the light and expose it to wider scrutiny. In the event, the England bid was humiliatingly knocked out in the first round of voting, with the 2018 FIFA tournament going to Russia. A BBC spokesman declined to comment on the vile and odious rascal Hunt's alleged intervention over the programme, which was made by Andrew Jennings and contained a number of allegations about corruption in the World Cup selection process. Most of which have of course, subsequently, been revealed to be true - particular those made against uppity and now disgraced former FIFA vice president Jack Warner. The BBC programme alleged that Warner was a crook, a liar, a rascal and a bounder, basically. And, that he wasn't anywhere near alone in FIFA's hierarchy in these. Subsequent events would appear to suggest that Panorama might just have known what they were talking about. A spokeswoman for the vile and odious rascal Hunt's Department for Culture, Media and Sport declined to comment on the claims or to confirm or deny whether he called Thompson to press him to delay the Panorama broadcast. 'Jeremy Hunt has never done, and would never do, anything to undermine the editorial independence of the BBC,' the DCMS added in a statement. Which is, as this notorious statement proves, a quite disgraceful and barefaced lie. And that's just one example. At the time of the FIFA expose, Panorama's editor Tom Giles denied that he was seeking to undermine the England bid to host the 2018 tournament and defended the decision to show the programme in a blog post on the BBC website. 'I am a football fan – and have been a club season-ticket holder and member for a long time. One of my sons played at junior level for a Championship club,' Giles wrote. 'But if some of the people who are making the final decision are corrupt – if there is a suggestion that they can be bought – how fair can the process be?' Dunno. Let's ask the vile and odious rascal Hunt, he seems to be something of an expert on undue influence.

Channel Four has commissioned a follow-up to the acclaimed but controversial Sri Lanka's Killing Fields documentary as part of its new current affairs programming drive. Channel Four's head of news & current affairs Dorothy Byrne has asked ITN Productions to make a second investigation into alleged abuse by the government and Tamil tigers during the final weeks of the country's civil war. The Jon Snow-fronted Sri Lanka's Killing Fields featured some of the most shocking footage ever broadcast by Channel Four, much of which was captured on mobile phones. The violent content was so strong that media regulator Ofcom launched an investigation, which ultimately cleared the show. Sri Lanka's Killing Fields was watched by over a million viewers in the UK this summer, and shown in more than thirty countries via the 4oD on-demand service. The documentary was also screened at the United Nations in Geneva and New York and shown to politicians at the House of Commons, the European parliament and US Senate. ITN's new film, under the working title Sri Lanka's Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished, will again be presented by Snow and feature 'powerful new evidence' of war crime atrocities. It will also question the apparent lack of international action against the government of Sri Lanka. 'I'm very proud that the new year will see a follow-up to our widely-acclaimed documentary Sri Lanka's Killing Fields,' said Snow. 'We believe it shows more evidence of official complicity in war crimes and we will continue to show what we find to the world. I hope this film captures, shocks and educates in the same way as the first did.' Byrne added: 'The horrific revelations in Sri Lanka's Killing Fields caused concern across the globe and calls for further investigations so we decided to do just that; to continue the journalistic endeavour to find out the full truth about these terrible events.' Channel Four has also today announced changes to the way it delivers current affairs, including renewed investment in the next-generation of investigative journalists. The broadcaster intends to increase the 'breadth and depth' of its digital media around current affairs to increase the interaction with audiences. The flagship Dispatches strand will get a new bespoke website featuring additional content and links to discussions on social networks. Dispatches will also increase from thirty to forty programmes per year, including a raft of new half-hour films on a broader range of subjects. Channel Four chief creative officer Jay Hunt said: 'Channel Four has a young, educated audience who expect us to lead in digital innovation so we're ensuring our award-winning current affairs evolves with our audience's demands and expectations. More Dispatches, supported by digital platforms and enhanced access to social media, will enable us to tell more stories and hear from a greater variety of voices.' Byrne added: 'We've undertaken research with our viewers and they tell us that their appetite for heavyweight journalism is as strong as ever but that they want faster, more reactive content available across a number of platforms. With forty shorter programmes a year we can expand the range of subjects we cover and increase topicality. We can be fleet of foot, getting to air quickly with an original take on a story. With an increase in the volume of Dispatches we will also have greater flexibility to return to the issues viewers feel passionate about.' Channel Four said that it will inject two hundred and fifty thousand smackers into its Investigative Journalism Training Scheme to help develop the next generation of specialist journalists.
The publisher of the Scum of the World has been ordered by a French court to pay thirty two thousand quid in costs and damages after being found guilty of violating the privacy of former Formula One boss Max Mosley. The Paris judge ordered News Group Newspapers, the News International subsidiary which published the now defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid, to pay a ten thousand Euro fine, seven thousand Euros in damages, and fifteen thousand Euros in legal costs, over a 2008 article about Mosley taking part in an 'orgy' which it wrongly claimed was Nazi-themed. But the court cleared the paper's former chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck, of personally libelling Mosley, saying that he could not be held responsible for distributing the three thousand copies of the Scum of the World containing the offending article in France. Mosley had already won sixty thousand smackers in damages over the Scum of the World article in a UK civil privacy action in London's high court. His French lawyers had demanded one hundred thousand Euros in damages from each defendant. After the ruling, Mosley's lawyer, Philippe Ouakrat, said he was pleased with the judgment and said the fine was 'extremely high' for a French court considering the matter concerned a foreign paper. 'It is a fair decision,' he said. 'It was very important for Mr Mosley to have this decision.' In an earlier hearing, Ouakrat said the Scum of the World and its former chief reporter had 'devastated' Mosley's life by publishing an article suggesting he organised an alleged 'Nazi-themed' sado-masochistic spanking orgy '(with hookers).' The front-page story, published in 2008, alleged Mosley had dressed as a Nazi guard and 'romped' with prostitutes pretending to be concentration camp victims. Extracts from a secret two-hour video made of the party was published on the newspaper's website and attracted millions of hits, but was subsequently removed. Mosley, seventy one, is the former president of the FIA, the governing body of world motorsport, and the youngest son of Sir Oswald Mosley, former leader of the British Union of Fascists and his wife Diana, one of the Mitford sisters. Mosley launched a separate court battle in France because copies of the paper and the video were circulated across the Channel. The maximum punishment was one year in prison and a forty five thousand Euro fine. Earlier, Ouakrat said that although only about three thousand copies of the Scum of the World had been distributed and only about one thousand five hundred sold, the damage to his client was considerable. 'Every copy of the paper distributed was a thorn in the skin of Mr Mosley. Every one was a prejudice,' he had told the court.

Meanwhile Tom Crone, the former Scum of the World legal chief, has told MPs that e-mails published last week appear to show that James Murdoch knew about the infamous 'for Neville' e-mail in May 2008 – years before the News Corp boss insists he was told about widespread hacking at the now-defunct disgraced and disgraceful newspaper. In a letter to the culture, media and sport committee published on Tuesday, Crone said that Murdoch 'already had knowledge of the new evidence (the "for Neville" e-mail)' as a result of a meeting with Colin Myler, then-Scum of the World editor, on 27 May 2008. Neither Murdoch nor Myler recall the meeting, in which they discussed settling a legal action brought by Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association. Murdoch told MPs in July that he had not seen the 'for Neville' e-mail when he signed off the seven hundred thousand smacker plus out-of-court settlement to Taylor in 2008. However, Crone and Myler immediately contested Murdoch's recollection of events, claiming that they had told him of the existence of the e-mail which 'blew a hole' in News Internationals' long-held defence that phone-hacking at the Scum of the World was restricted to a single 'rogue reporter' at the paper. Something which they were still, publicly, insisting as recently as December of last year. The 27 May 2008 meeting was first revealed by Julian Pike, lawyer for News International, as part of documents published by the committee last week. Previously it had been thought the only time the Taylor case had been discussed by James Murdoch was on 10 June at a meeting between the News Corp boss, Myler and Crone, where they agreed to settle the case. In a letter published on Tuesday the committee chairman, John Whittingdale, asks Crone why he did not mention his and Myler's 27 May meetings with Murdoch when they appeared before MPs in September. Crone apologised and said he had no memory of the meeting when he first gave evidence. 'Having seen the evidence given by Julian Pike and the documents produced by him which now appear on your website, I accept that my recollection was incorrect in relation to certain details. I apologise for that,' Crone said. 'We may both be criticised for this, but I think it is probably not unusual for busy people to fail to recall detail (or even the existence) of meetings and conversations from more than three years earlier without being able to refer to written records.' Michael Silverleaf, the QC advising News International at the time, sent a seven-page opinion to Crone on 3 June 2008 noting that there was 'a powerful case that there is (or was) a culture of illegal information access' at the Scum of the World and that any trial would be 'extremely damaging' to the publisher's reputation. Silverleaf also noted that evidence obtained by Taylor's lawyers shows that 'at least three' Scum of the World journalists 'appear to have been intimately involved in Mr Mulcaire's illegal researching into Mr Taylor's affairs.'

And it just gets worse and worse for the Murdochs. A private detective has claimed that the Scum of the World paid him to target more than ninety people, including Prince William, former attorney general Lord Goldsmith and Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe's parents, over eight years until as recently as this July. Derek Webb, a former police officer, claimed that he started work for the paper shortly after setting up his private detective agency in 2003. He told the BBC's Newsnight he continued to do surveillance until it was closed over the phone-hacking scandal. The investigator said that he was paid by the paper to follow more than ninety targets including Prince William, Goldsmith, Radcliffe's parents and Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker and analyst Alan Shearer. 'I was working for them extensively on many jobs throughout that time. I never knew when I was going to be required. They phone me up by the day or by the night. It could be anywhere in the country,' Webb told Newsnight's Richard Watson, in a report broadcast on the BBC2 daily current affairs show on Tuesday night. In 2006 he was asked to follow Prince William while he spent a few days in Gloucestershire. Webb did many years on covert surveillance and had MI5 training. He told the BBC he set up his own detective agency in 2003 and was approached shortly after that by the Scum of the World. Most commissions were by phone, but sometimes he was sent photos or addresses; orders came from several Scum of the World journalists, he reveals. The Gruniad revealed earlier this week that the News International title had also paid Webb to run covert surveillance on two lawyers representing phone-hacking victims in an operation to pressure them to stop their work. Webb secretly videoed Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris as well as family members and associates. Evidence suggests an attempt to gather evidence for false smears about their private lives. Others named in the programme are former Chelsea manager José Mourinho and Prince Harry's ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy. Webb's targets rarely suspected: 'Ninety five per cent of the job, I was never rumbled, even following them for weeks on end.' He said that what he did was not illegal and he had decided to speak out only after the Scum of the World failed to compensate him in July. So, as with many other aspects of this whole sordid affair, ultimately, it's all about money. The Scum of the World's former features editor Jules Stenson told Newsnight that Webb's story was 'one-sided, very slanted' and the view of a man with 'a grievance' due to an issue of payment. Stenson's appearance on Newsnight was almost as significant as Webb's, as few top journalists have come out to defend the paper. He said that he was 'extremely surprised' by this week's news that the paper hired Webb to follow the two lawyers.

Labour MP Tommy Watson (power to the people!) has accused News International of using surveillance tactics akin to 'the former Soviet Union,' after new revelations heaped more pressure on the firm's embattled chairman, James Murdoch. News International, which published the Scum of the World until it closed in July, has admitted to carrying out surveillance on lawyers Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris, who have both represented high-profile phone hacking victims. Last night, it was also alleged that the Scum of the World had hired a private investigator to conduct surveillance on more than one hundred and fifty public figures between 2003 and this year. Alongside celebrities such as Simon Cowell and Sienna Miller, there were also a number of politicians on the list of surveillance targets revealed by private investigator Derek Webb to the BBC's Newsnight. This included Watson himself, who is a member of the influential Commons culture, media and sport select committee and a committed campaigner against the odious Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Last month, the MP travelled to Los Angeles to speak at News Corp's annual meeting, warning shareholders that there were more revelations to come in the phone-hacking scandal. Watson feels that this week's further revelations show that Murdoch's business is not meeting its pledge to 'clean up the scandal,' showing that the business is, instead, 'rotten to the core. Two weeks ago I heard Rupert Murdoch tell shareholders at their meeting in America that they spent the year getting to the bottom to the phone hacking scandal,' Watson said in a video interview with the Daily Torygraph.

The BBC has pulled out of re-broadcasting Dennis Potter's landmark drama series The Singing Detective in its twenty fifth anniversary year because managers were not willing to pay an extra five thousand quid, the Gruniad has 'learned.' Presumably, from a snitch. The classic, highly autobiographical six-part drama, which starred Michael Gambon as a hospitalised writer, was a sensation when it was first shown in 1986. BBC4 planned to mark what was a seminal moment in TV history by repeating the series from this Sunday, almost twenty five years to the day the first run began. Negotiations between BBC4 and the Potter estate represented by the agent Judy Daish broke down suddenly last Wednesday, little more than a week before it was due to be broadcast. Daish said that she was not able to say too much but confirmed to the Gruniad that the gap between the two parties was no more than five grand. Asked whether the estate would like to see it back on the BBC, Daish said: 'Of course. Absolutely, Unquestionably.' A spokeswoman for BBC4 confirmed the two sides had been unable to come to an agreement. She said: 'Value for money for the licence fee payer is a priority for BBC4 and it would be inappropriate to pay above the odds for any programme, particularly during a time of budget cuts. The Singing Detective was shown as part of a major two-month Dennis Potter season in 2004-5 which also included Pennies from Heaven, eight plays and several Arena specials. BBC4 does not have big budgets for this kind of programme and we offered a fair deal that was turned down.' The channel has been hit harder than other parts of the BBC (though nowhere near as hard as local radio, for instance) with a 9.6 per cent budget cut announced in October and the decision also shines light on the aggressive cost-cutting currently going on at the corporation. 'There will be surprise, however, that such a relatively small sum was the stumbling block for the repeat of such an important TV serial,' says the Gruniad trying its best to stir up some shit that it can have a good root-around in. Communists. The news was met with disappointment by The Singing Detective's producer, Ken Trodd, Potter's regular collaborator who also produced series including Pennies from Heaven. Trodd said he first heard of this month's anniversary plans in June and 'the rumour factory' had been 'buzzing' since then. 'The BBC obviously has its problems but my feeling is they have not prioritised showing it highly enough. I'm sure BBC4 has been hit hard, I can sympathise with them.' Trodd said he felt disappointment and also irritation that the two parties could not reach agreement when they seemed so close. 'It is not just that lots of people want to see it – it is also because BBC4 needs something like this. If I were running the channel I'd think this is the kind of profile I want because it is going to get some attention and it can't do me any harm. This was one BBC4 had to win.' The Singing Detective, with its memorable blend of noir fantasy, musical numbers and emotional turmoil, has proved enormously influential to subsequent TV drama. It was met with delight and astonishment by some critics – as well as predictable tabloid outrage, affronted in particular by a scene where the young hero watches his mother having aggressive outdoor sex. 'The Singing Detective is the peak of Dennis Potter and is the one that resonates most with people around the nation and around the world,' said Trodd. 'It was the complexity. Dennis Potter managed to orchestrate at least three different storylines, which all gather in a very cinematic way. When Dennis delivered those scripts it was a time when we in television were saying: "We are here making movies." It sounds a snooty campaign but it was also one that needed to happen because there was quite a lot that was prosaic and stagey in a bad way about your standard television drama.' Despite the BBC4 decision, the anniversary will not go entirely unmarked. There is a one day symposium being held at the Institute of English Studies, University of London on 10 December.

Ant and/or Dec have signed a two-year contract with ITV which will see them front a new series of Saturday Night Takeaway. The geet canny, cheeky-chappies doon The Bigg Market presenting duo will appear exclusively on the channel until December 2013 under the new deal. During this time, the pair will host new editions of reality shows I'm A Z-List Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! and Britain's Got Talent, as well as a tenth series of Takeaway. Do please note, dear blog reader, that any reference to Red Or Black? was highly conspicuous by its absence in the ITV press release. Takeaway was last broadcast in 2009 and was put on hiatus while Ant and Dec launched their flop family game show Push The Button. 'Ant and Dec remain at the very top of their game as two of the nation's most popular television stars,' ITV controller Peter Fincham said in a statement. 'Their ability to connect with our audience is unrivalled and I'm delighted that we're extending our exclusive partnership with them both for a further two years.' Ant McPartlin added: 'We are really pleased to sign with ITV for another two years and continue to make the programmes we love with the channel.' Dec Donnelly, meanwhile, promised not to disappoint fans with the relaunch of Takeaway, saying: 'We always said we would bring back Saturday Night Takeaway, so we're particularly delighted plans are now in place. We have lots of fresh and exciting ideas for the brand new series.' McPartlin and Donnelly joined ITV in 1998 to present breakfast shows SM:TV and CD:UK. They have been exclusively signed to the broadcaster since 2000.

Laila Rouass has explained why she has decided to quit BBC1's long-running medical drama Holby City. Last month it was revealed that Rouass was leaving the drama after just a year in the role of Doctor Sahira Shah - reportedly surprising Holby City 'bosses' by deciding to quit despite her character's popularity. Appearing on ITV's Lorraine the actress revealed sthat he had decided to leave the series to spend more time with her daughter. Rouass said 'I love Holby. I've been a fan for many years. The crew and the cast are fantastic, so it was a big decision to make. But I've got a daughter and you end up not spending much time - missing all the parents evenings and all that. So it was a tough decision.' The actress confirmed she will film her final scenes on Holby City 'in a few weeks time' but will remain on-screen for some time because the drama films several months in advance adding 'I don't think I'm being killed off. Not that I know of!' Prior to joining the cast of Holby in November 2010 the actress was best known as the glamorous Amber Gates in ITV drama Footballers Wives. Rouass left Footballers Wives in the fifth and final series with Amber being sectioned following the death of her boyfriend Conrad.

Classic Central Television letters game, Blockbusters, fronted by Bob Holness, is set for a revival by the company behind The X Factor - Talkback-Thames Television. Mark Goodson and Bill Todman devised the format of Blockbusters initially for American audiences with the series running in the USA from 1980 to 1982 with a short-lived revival in 1987. The UK version proved to be much more successful running for over a decade with a couple of relaunches in recent years. Produced for ITV at the ATV Elstree studios initially, now the home of EastEnders, the show became a popular part of teatime viewing across Britain. The game board consisted of twenty interlocking hexagons, arranged in five columns of four. Each hexagon contained a letter of the alphabet. A contestant would choose one of the letters, and would be asked a general-knowledge trivia question whose correct answer began with the chosen letter. The original series was hosted by the great Bob Holness. The ITV series ran for over one thousand editions and a decade before moving to Sky1 for a further two hundred and twenty programmes. The last hundred episodes saw Bob step aside with big fat cuddly Lisa Tarbuck taking over hosting duties. But, she was crap. Between the two Sky series, the BBC attempted a 'grown up' version of the format, ditching the university student participant requirements and opening the show up to all ages. Michael Aspel presided over this, far less successful, attempt in 1997, which ran for just sixty shows. The Blockbusters format is owned by Thames Television's parent company, Fremantle Media, who also own the rights to Grundy Television's back catalogue which boasts game show formats such as Going for Gold as well as other Goodson and Todman productions including The Price Is Right and Family Fortunes.

Former Pakistan cricket captain and convicted cheat Salman Butt has filed an appeal against his thirty-month jail sentence for his part in the conspiracy to bowl deliberate no-balls in a Test match, his lawyer have said. His conviction relates to last year's match against England at Lord's. Bowler Mohammad Asif, twenty eight, was jailed for one year and Mohammad Amir, nineteen, was sentenced to six months for their part. Cricket agent Mazhar Majeed was jailed for two years and eight months. Lawyer Yasin Patel confirmed Butt's appeal to the Associated Press on Wednesday. In February all three players were banned from playing for five years by the International Cricket Council. All three are appealing against their suspensions. The men were arrested after the fourth Test between Pakistan and England in August 2010. An undercover Scum of the World reporter had paid Majeed one hundred and fifty thousand smackers in a carefully devised sting operation for details of the precise timing of three no-balls, which were duly delivered as promised. Such actions can be extremely valuable on the spot-fixing betting market, which involves betting on the finer details of sporting contests. Majeed claimed to have paid Asif sixty five thousand notes, Butt ten grand and Amir two thousand five hundred quid. The judge told all the players they would be released on licence half way through their sentences if they behaved.

After a day of much waffle and discombobulation, FIFA has agreed that the England team can wear poppies on their black armbands during Saturday's friendly against Spain at Wembley. The move came after both Prince William and David Cameron got themselves involved in the situation and wrote to FIFA asking that England be allowed to wear shirts embroidered with poppies. FIFA bans all political, religious or commercial messages on shirts. The Football Association of Wales is now considering its position ahead of Wales' game against Norway. The announcement of the compromise between the Football Association and FIFA came shortly after it was revealed that the Duke of Cambridge had written a letter to world football's governing body in his position as president of the FA. Clarence House said the Prince was 'dismayed' by FIFA's initial stance. 'The Duke's strong view is that the poppy is a universal symbol of remembrance, which has no political, religious or commercial connotations,' said a statement. Earlier on Wednesday, Cameron said he would also write to FIFA asking it to lift the ban ahead of England's game with the world champions. 'It seems outrageous,' said Cameron. 'I hope FIFA will reconsider.' England did not wear poppies for games close to Remembrance Day against Argentina on 12 November, 2005 and Sweden on 10 November, 2001. Nor, indeed, on any of the international matches that they have played in the early part of November stretching all the way back to 1918. But an FA spokesman said that 'a greater focus has been given to the level of support and respect shown by the national teams' over the past five years. He added: 'Since 2005, our clubs have all begun to wear poppies on their match shirts in domestic games for the early part of November as a mark of respect for those who lost their lives serving their country.' Cameron earlier called the ban 'outrageous' and said that he had written to FIFA's chief fraudster Sepp Blatter to emphasise his outrage. Bet that went down very well in Zurich. He said: 'Wearing a poppy is an act of huge respect and national pride. I hope FIFA will reconsider.' FIFA officials had earlier turned down the request, made by the FA, claiming that it would 'open the door to similar initiatives' across the world. They had allowed a minute's silence to be held before the game. They have also given permission for the England players to wear poppies on their training kit at Wembley on Friday and to stand for the traditional two minutes' silence to mark Armistice Day. Members of the Armed Forces will be on the pitch at Wembley at the start of the game and five hundred servicemen and women will watch in the stands. Sports minister Hugh Robertson had also asked FIFA to reconsider in a letter to the world governing body's general secretary, Jerome Valcke. Robertson had also enquired whether Wales players could wear poppies on their shirts for their friendly against Norway in Cardiff on Saturday. It's an awkward one, this, because I can kind of see FIFA's point of view. However much Mr Cameron may deny it there can be, undeniably, a political aspect to the wearing of the poppy for some people - as a specific show of support for the armed forces of today in their various roles in war zones. Which, whether it's right or wrong (and I'm certainly not getting into that argument) has to be, by the very nature of what the armed forces actually do, a political matter. Personally, I wear a poppy for very specific reasons; my father fought at Dunkirk and I wear one to remind myself of what he, four of his brothers and millions of others fought for during the second world war - the freedom of choice for myself and future generations to wear a poppy (or do thousands of other things) or not rather than being told what we have to do by a fascist dictatorship. That's, for instance, why I have no problem whatsoever with Jon Snow's insistence that he will not wear a poppy when he's presenting Channel Four News, even though he's an active supporter of the British Legion. Snow complains of what he calls 'poppy fascism' and the idea that those in broadcasting (particularly those at the BBC) feel obliged to wear one not for any specific identification with the issue but, rather, because they know they'll be criticised by loathsome bigots like the Daily Scum Mail and all of their lice ilk if they don't. I realise, however, that not everyone who does wear a poppy does so for the - as I say, very personal - reasons that I do and, hence, I can completely see the validity in FIFA's argument. Case very much in point: Earlier today two numskull members of the EDL climbed on to the roof of FIFA's headquarters in Zurich with a banner protesting against the ban. A FIFA spokesman confirmed that the protest was ongoing and that Swiss police were in attendance. The two protesters displayed a banner with two poppies on it which read: 'English Defence League. How dare FIFA disrespect our war dead and wounded. Support our troops.' If those last three words, in particular, aren't a direct and specific political statement then nothing is. The incident will, of course, be a huge embarrassment to the Football Association given that the EDL is a far-right group whose founder, Stephen Lennon, was convicted in July of leading a street brawl with one hundred football fans. And, if it isn't a huge embarrassment to the prime minister then it really should be. Lennon, a father of three from Luton, was sentenced to a twelve-month community rehabilitation order, one hundred and fifty hours of unpaid work and given a three-year football banning order. A spokesman for 'Hope Not Hate,' an anti-EDL campaign group, said: 'It's a little hypocritical of the EDL to be leading this protest given that their leader Stephen Lennon is a convicted football hooligan. It is important that neither the symbol of the poppy nor the three lions of England are appropriated by extremists.' In its rejection letter FIFA had said: 'We regret to inform you that accepting such initiatives would open the door to similar initiatives from all over the world, jeopardising the neutrality of football. Therefore, we confirm herewith that the suggested embroidery on the match shirt cannot be authorised. There are a variety of options where the FA can continue supporting the cause of Remembrance. One of them already was approved by FIFA, the period of silence.' Several newspapers also stirred up shit by reporting that England players would not be able to defy FIFA's ban on wearing poppies on their shirts as the referee, it was claimed, was 'under orders' from the governing body to call off the match if the emblems were present on their kit. Frankly, it was time for a bit of common sense in this whole situation and, as usual, it was provided by the British Legion themselves. Chris Simpkins, the director general of the Royal British Legion, which organises the Poppy Appeal, said: 'There are other ways to honour the poppy than by wearing it on a shirt. The FA has helped us explore every alternative available and we are satisfied that England will enter the competition knowing they have shown proper respect for our armed forces. The Legion never insists that the poppy be worn or insists that others allow it to be worn. [My italics because I think that's a very important point to make.] We are grateful when people wear it as a sign of respect, but the decision must be a free one - after all, the poppy represents sacrifices made in the cause of our freedoms.' I really like this man and, frankly, I'd like to shake his hand for being just about the only person to talk a modicum of common sense on the issue. 'The bonds between the Armed Forces and professional football are as broad as they are long,' Mr Simpkins continued. 'The co-operation we've received from the FA and the FAW has been top drawer and we'll be happy for this match to proceed.' Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce was among those who criticised the ban. 'Personally I think there has to be a bit of common sense used when requests like this come in. Armistice Day is a very important day in the FA calendar, as it is with other associations, and I don't think it would offend anybody to have a poppy on the shirts. I am not involved in the decision and I do understand there have to be rules. But as this is a special request from a member of FIFA and is not of a political nature I believe that common sense should prevail and that it should be looked at in a different light.' And so say all of us.

Ofcom has fined Playboy TV and its subsidiary Just4Us TV one hundred and ten thousand smackers for 'adult sex' chat advertisements broadcast in April which featured 'sexually provocative footage.' This blogger missed those. Pity. The Red Light 1, 2 and 3 TV channels all carry televised interactive 'adult chat' adverts after the 9pm watershed, inviting viewers to contact on-screen female presenters via premium rate phone lines. The licence for Red Light 1 is owned and operated by Just4Us TV, while the licences for Red Light 2 and Red Light 3 are owned and operated by Playboy UK TV. In July, Ofcom found that ten 'adult sex' chat advertisements aired in the channels in April breached broadcast advertising rules due to their 'strong sexualised content.' Well, they're for an adult channel, what do you expect them to contain, kittens? The regulator found that the ads featured girls 'spitting on their bodies to emulate ejaculate,' and using their hand or a telephone to cover their genital area. Corks. Others adverts featured women pouring oil on to their buttocks, or wearing clothing that only just covered their genitals, including one case in which the 'outer labia were clearly visible.' I repeat, corks. On other occasions, female presenters were shown adopting 'sexually provocative positions, sometimes for prolonged periods and regularly stroked and massaged their breasts and mimicked sexual intercourse.' Ofcom ruled that all this material should not have been broadcast in the context of 'adult chat' advertisements that 'were freely available without mandatory restricted access,' despite being shown after the 9pm watershed. Considering the 'serious and repeated nature of the breaches,' the media regulator has imposed a financial penalty (payable to HM Paymaster General) of sixty thousand quid on Just4Us and fifty thousand wonga on Playboy TV for breaches of the broadcast advertising code. This is not the first time that Playboy has incurred the wrath of regulators. In May, the firm lost its bid to make two 'hardcore' adult video websites exempt from UK video on-demand regulation. A year ago, Ofcom revoked the four adult channel broadcast licences owned by Bang Channels and Bang Media for 'numerous and repeated breaches' of standards.

An asteroid which is four hundred metres wide has passed by Earth, much to the delight of astronomers. And, the relief of everyone else. Although invisible to the naked eye, scientists said they spotted strange structures on Asteroid 2005 YU55's surface as it spun past at thirty thousand mph. It was the closest an asteroid has been to Earth without hitting it in two hundred years. It is also the largest space rock fly-by Earth has seen since 1976; the next visit by such a large asteroid will be in 2028. It's actually scheduled to be at its closest point on 26 October 2028 which, by sheer co-incidence, is this blogger's sixty fifth birthday. Anyone wanting to send me a 'happy retirement' card, you might want to hang on a bit, it might not be necessary. The aircraft-carrier-sized asteroid was darkly coloured in visible wavelengths and nearly spherical, lazily spinning about once every twenty hours as it raced through our neighbourhood of the Solar System. Ron Dantowitz, the director of the Clay Centre Observatory in Massachusetts, followed the asteroid through a telescope. 'We're tracking the asteroid itself, so the stars are moving by in the background and the asteroid is actually streaking by at about thirty thousand mph,' he said. That's about eight miles a second if you're curious. Or, standing on a really tall mountain anywhere. 'As we track it, it looks like the stars are moving in the background and the asteroid is locked on in the centre view. It's not so much that we can see it tumbling like a rock in space, we're examining it for the brightness and colour.' NASA said it had been no closer than two hundred and one thousand seven hundred miles from Earth, as measured from the centre of the planet. The rock reached its closest point to Earth at 23:28GMT on Tuesday, when it soared by three hundred and fifty miles south-west of Guatemala City, over the Pacific, said DC Agle, a spokesman at NASA's jet propulsion laboratory. It will now trace a path across the whole sky through to Thursday. The asteroid often travels in the vicinity of Earth, Mars and Venus, but NASA said this fly-by had been the closest the asteroid had come to Earth in at least two hundred years. 'This is the closest approach by an asteroid that large that we've ever known about in advance,' said Lance Benner of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. But he stressed that there had been no chance that the pass would be anything other than 'a close encounter.' '2005 YU55 cannot hit Earth, at least over the interval that we can compute the motion reliably - which extends for several hundred years,' he said. Instead, the pass gave astronomers a rare opportunity to study the asteroid in detail. In particular, two radio telescopes - the Goldstone Observatory in California and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico - tracked radio echoes off it in a bid to understand better what it is made of and how it is shaped. The precise details of the asteroid's path also helped scientists to predict where it will go much further into the future. Earth has several regular visitors like 2005 YU55 - most famously the Apophis asteroid. Apophis has in the past been claimed as a possible future impactor when it returns to our neighbourhood in 2029 and again in 2036. There is, according to the latest calculations, no immediate danger from Apophis either. However, it will pass much closer to Earth on 13 April 2029 - at a distance of eighteen thousand three hundred miles. That's if we all haven't been wiped out the previous October, of course.

Joey Barton - a footballer of not inconsiderable talent, some intellect and wit but a very poor record with regard to actual common assault - has launched a Twitter attack on the 'stars' of (ie some of the glakes who appear in) The Only Way Is Essex. The Queens Park Rangers midfielder repeatedly described the ITV2 reality show regulars as 'lemmings' and 'helmets' after seeing them at the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on Tuesday night. Which, some might consider to fall under the defence of 'fair comment.' Barton tweeted at the event: 'Just for the record The Only Way Is Essex helmets were there, all of them together. Freaks.' After several negative responses from two such 'The Only Way Is Essex helmets' James Argent and Mark Wright, Barton noted: 'The Only Way Is Essex firm, don't mess with big boys, u [sic] and ur [sic] shallow, fake, pretentious lifestyles. In a year u'll [sic] be opening shitty poundshops if ur [sic] lucky. Off to bed, keep me updated people with The Only Way Is Essex blerts, all thats [sic] wrong with the world that mob, I'll take great pleasure in abusing them. I actually despise the whole of that firm, mentally deficient, turn up at the opening of an envelope, fame hungry, prized ball bags.' Wow. Do not get on the wrong side of Joey Barton, people, or you'll get some of this. Well, either that or you might get your head kicked in outside a McDonald's at four in the morning. Today, Barton continued his - very amusing - tirade by insulting Maria Fowler, who was reportedly 'upset' by his earlier comments, and said so. He replied: 'Sorry which one are u [sic], the prostitute? The whale? The hippo? Or the extra? Dont [sic] know who u [sic] are? Whats [sic] the goin [sic] rate for the full works these days?' The twenty nine-year-old had somewhat kinder words for Kirk Norwood, adding: 'The only one whose [sic] alright is Kirk? He's like my favourite. When I say favourite, its [sic] like if u [sic] had to pick a sexually transmitted disease!' As 'backhanded The Only Way Is Essex helmets comments' go, that one's almost a dictionary definition.

The Daily Scum Mail has - finally - admitted that the term 'Winterval' has not been created as a replacement for Christmas and that the, several, stories it published to that effect had no basis in truth. It's getting nearer to Christmas so cue plenty of stories in the tabloids - usually on slow news days - about how some councils are trying to rename and/or re-brand Christmas as 'Winterval' so as not to offend any alleged minorities. Such 'moves' are usually blamed on 'the PC brigade' or 'atheists' - it depends on whom the tabloid has it in for that particular week. The stories of councils renaming Christmas as 'Winterval' stretch back over a decade and have appeared in most tabloids and broadsheets - not just the Daily Scum Mail. However, the actual facts of the original use of the term are less known, despite begin featured on a question on Qi a couple of years ago; it was coined by a council wishing to market a wide range of events in one go instead of marketing each event individually. That fact hasn't, for the past decade or so, stopped papers from routinely trotting out a variation of the same story and claiming that Christmas will be ditched in favour of 'Winterval.' In the Daily Scum Mail's new clarification column the tabloid has finally admitted its mistake on the issue. The clarification states: 'We stated in an article on 26 September that Christmas has been renamed in various places "Winterval." Winterval was the collective name for a season of public events, both religious and secular, which took place in Birmingham in 1997 and 1998. We are happy to make clear that "Winterval' did not rename or replace Christmas.' So, will that be the end to such 'Winterval' nonsense in the press? It seems unlikely. The story has become something of an urban myth and many people are willing to believe because it panders to the mass hysteria surrounding the Political Correctness. Which, of course, itself largely doesn't exist being an invention for scum right-wing newspapers like the Daily Scum Mail.

The latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day pays tribute to the quiet brilliance of Edwyn Collins and Orange Juice. Firstly to the Postcard/'Sound of Young Scotland' days.
And then, to the darker, more Velvet Underground-influenced Texas Fever period.

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