Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Twenty Two Days Of Christmas: Freshly Squeezed Mary & Joseph (And Eric & Ernie)

Hands up who thought Our Cilla was brilliant on this week's Never Mind The Buzzcocks?
Yeah, me too. 'I'm showbiz, you pussies!' 'Frankie Howerd used to say I was the only girl he knew with two backs!' And, best of all, 'Who'd've thought Ringo would turn out The Cute One? He used to look like Yasser Arafat!'

In the first semi-final of MasterChef: The Professionals, one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's two tips for the title, Ash Mair, overcame an epic battle with spiky-haired Perry to claim a deserved place in the final. Following an fascinating professional kitchen round - at one of London's top two-Michelin starred restaurants, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon - Ash, the Aussie with a (self-appointed) mission to introduce the world to Basque cuisine, and Perry were given one hour and forty five minutes to come up with two perfect dishes for Michel and Gregg. And they did. Ash's cooked a main course of a fillet of wild salmon with a lobster bisque sauce American, fennel Calasparra rice, baby artichokes and courgettes and tempura lobster tails wrapped in courgette flowers dressed with ground espelette peppers and microfennel and a dessert of vanilla panna cotta, orange creme Catalan and caramelised oranges with almond crumbs, a sugar crisp and gold leaf.
'I'm not saying that's the best dessert I've ever tasted,' Gregg Wallace noted. 'But right now I'm struggling to think of one better.' Michel Roux was equally impressed with the main course. After he'd rolled off half a dozen reasons why it was one of the most accomplished dishes he'd tasted in a very long time, Gregg told Ash, 'well, you ticked a few boxes there, curly! No criticism at all!' Ash burst into a smile as wide as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and then quickly apologised for doing so. 'I dunno what you do in Tasmania,' noted Gregg, 'but over here we don't apologise for smiling. It's kind-of common place!' He then tasted the main course. 'Oh my word! That takes you so much deeper than you expect.' Perry's main was monkfish stuffed with chorizo, langoustine ravioli with pea mousse and sweet potato purée which also drew almost orgasmic comments from both judges. His dessert consisted of chocolate fondant with rhubarb mousse and sauternes jelly. Both chefs blew the judges away with their skill, flair and creativity. Tragically, only one of then could go through and Ash just pipped the contest.
Channel Four's new-look Dispatches trailed a distant second in its battle with BBC1's Panorama on Monday evening, but the broadcaster enjoyed more success with a dating show offering a twist on Come Dine With Me. The Channel Four current affairs show, which relaunched in a new thirty-minute format, had the misfortune of coming up against an on-song Panorama, which enjoyed its biggest audience for more than a year. Dispatches' investigation into 'landlords from hell', fronted by Jon Snow, was watched by seven hundred thousand punters between 8.30pm and 9pm on Monday, with another one hundred thousand on Channel 4+1 and hour later. But Panorama's investigation into supermarket pricing, fronted by Sophie Raworth, was watched by four and a half million viewers in the same timeslot.
Dispatches was given no help whatsoever by being scheduled directly after Channel Four's coverage of the Turner Prize. The prize, won by Martin Boyce, attracted just three hundred thousand viewers. It was always going to be of niche appeal, but the Dispatches team might have hoped for a bigger ratings inheritance than that. Dispatches also lost out to the second half of Channel Five's The Gadget Show, which had 1.2 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm, and BBC2's MasterChef: The Professionals, which was watched by 2.8 million viewers who saw poor little Allison terrified by the presence of Monica Galetti and Big Hard Kim look like she was ready to stick one on Monica for dissing her grub.

One last time featuring the original hosts, let's have the nation's favourite sport, Daybreakwatch:
28 November 831k AI 72
29 November 784k AI 65
30 November 672k AI 68
1 December 773k AI 68
2 December 785k AI 67
5 December 818k
And so, Grumpy Sod and The Curiously Orange One's time on Daybreak ends much as it began - with not many people watching and, seemingly, those that are watching being somewhat singularly unimpressed. Not so much a glorious goodbye then as, simply, good riddance to bad rubbish.
A forty one-year-old man has been arrested in connection with phone hacking and perverting the course of justice. The Metropolitan police said the man was arrested at 7am at an address in London on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages. The man becomes the eighteenth arrest in Scotland Yard's Operation Weeting investigation into phone hacking. He is not a police officer. Police said the man was being held in custody at a south London police station shortly before 8am on Wednesday. The man becomes the first arrest since Bethany Usher, a former Scum of the World journalist and Teesside University lecturer, was held last week over conspiracy to intercept Internet communications. Usher was released on bail and denies 'in any way' involvement in the 'interception of telecommunications.'

The BBC has asked for a public consultation to loosen rules which restrict the timing of party political broadcasts on BBC1 and BBC2, and to allow all parties to use a third PPB. This is according to the Gruniad Morning Star whose journalists (and I use that word quite wrongly) have, seemingly, taken time out from writing yet another story about Jeremy Clarkson - eight in two days, dear blog reader - and to have a whinge about something else for a change. Remarkable. The BBC has asked its governing body, the BBC Trust, to launch the consultation on whether PPBs should only be tied to key events, how many it should broadcast and what the qualifying criteria should be. Under the existing system, PPBs must be tied to key events – namely the Queen's speech and party conference season – with the government and opposition granted an extra one when the budget is delivered. The BBC Trust consultation is proposing to allow political parties to run PPBs whenever they like during spring, autumn and winter, and that all parties that broadcast PPBs on the BBC should be allowed a third broadcast – not just the government and opposition parties, and not just relating to the budget. In the second part of the consultation, the BBC is calling for the retention of the existing system for deciding which parties are eligible for PPBs. The third part looks at whether political parties in Northern Ireland should have their allocation of one PPB increased to two. Current PPB rules state that parties must have a 'minimum level' of representation in the relevant nation – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – and demonstrate 'substantial levels' of electoral support over a series of elections. The BBC did not provide any detail on the exact metrics for determining the criteria. The BBC Trust said its consultation is not looking to change the selection criteria in any way that would advantage, or disadvantage, any political parties.

Best known for playing The Thick of It's belligerent – and sweary – spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, the great Peter Capaldi's new role will see him take on a decidedly more buttoned up role as he joins BBC2's 1950s newsroom drama The Hour. Set almost a decade before critic Kenneth Tynan broadcast the first recorded 'fuck' on British television, the drama – which returns for a second series next year – is unlikely to feature Capaldi turning the airwaves blue. Romola Garai, Dominic West and Ben Wishaw will all return for the new series, in which they play journalists on a pioneering BBC current affairs magazine show. Garai takes the role of Bel, the show's producer, West plays the smooth presenter Hector; and Wishaw, Freddie – the dogged-but-talented reporter intent on digging up mischief. Julian Rhind-Tutt and Anna Chancellor – much admired for her portrayal of Lix in the first series – will also be rejoining the trio for a second instalment of life behind the scenes in the 1950s BBC. After a first series that focused largely on the Suez Crisis, the show's second season will be set a year later a year later in 1957 with Britain in the grip of rapid change – scientific, cultural and economic – and with the Cold War ever-present.

HMV has apologised after a page for The X Factor winner's single was posted for pre-order on its website, five days before the show's final. The CD was listed as 'coming soon' with the title: 'Amelia Lily X Factor 2011 Winner's Single.' The retailer had apparently created dummy pages for each of The X Factor finalists, but only uploaded one. Amelia Lily will compete with Marcus Collins and Little Mix in Sunday's final, being held at Wembley Arena. 'Hmv.com was looking to accept customer pre-orders for versions of The X Factor winner's single recorded by each of the three finalists,' said HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo. 'Due to a technical issue, only Amelia Lily's details were uploaded. These have been temporarily removed so that all three finalists details can go up at the same time. This has been the result of an unforeseen but regrettable technical issue, for which we apologise and ask that nothing further be construed.' This weekend's X Factor winner will be decided by a public vote. Caren Davis, head of publicity for The X Factor, said: 'This is absolutely nothing to do with The X Factor. HMV has admitted this was due to a technical error on their site.'

The Daily Scum Mail's pent-up frustration and rage at being given a right good telling off by Lord Justice Leveson for writing nasty things about Hugh Grant on the day after he appeared before the inquiry was finally unleashed on Tuesday of this week in Quentin Letts's parliamentary sketch. Letts, charged his weapon in a target-rich environment, and let fly at Leveson witnesses Grant, Steve Coogan and Max Mosley – and also Tory MP Zac Goldsmith – when they appeared before the parliamentary committee examining reform of privacy and injunctions. He gave them both barrels, describing them as 'the four rich swordsmen', 'our stern quartet of trouser-droppers' and 'sado-masochist freaks, libidinous actors'. But Letts's harshest words were reserved for Coogan and his use of language: 'He has the makings of a red-top sub-editor.' Oh, that's harsh!

Channel Four factual executive Sarah Mulvey died of an overdose of opiates at her home in Hampstead in January 2010, a coroner's inquest has heard. Evidence from Mulvey's partner, Mark Gillett, and her father Dr Christopher Mulvey, was given on Tuesday morning at St Pancras coroner's court in London. The inquest was told by Mulvey that his thirty four-year-old daughter was found dead at home after 'two days of total crisis' following a series of treatments. This included a spell at The Causeway Retreat in Osea island off the Essex coast, which has subsequently been closed down, as well as treatment by two mental health specialists in London, the inquest heard. Mulvey was found by police in her Hampstead flat and had left notes in her journal in which she said goodbye to loved ones, the coroner, Dr Andrew Scott Reid, told the hearing. Asked to describe her mental state during his evidence Mulvey said she had been 'bullied systematically' at Channel Four. The coroner interrupted Mulvey's testimony to point out that the matter of his daughter's grievances against Channel Four had been dealt with at a pre-inquest review and that it was not to form part of the inquest into her death. 'Her employers have not been recognised as parties in this matter,' the coroner said. Scott Reid did note that Mulvey had been 'in a dispute' with her employees. Barrister Paul Spencer, acting on behalf of Sarah Mulvey's family, then told the inquest that she had believed she was 'the subject of workplace bullying for over a year.' Spencer added: 'It was her sustained belief that she was subjected to systematic workplace bullying.' Mulvey said that his daughter was admitted to the Causeway Retreat between May and September 2009 because she felt she was under 'acute stress. And she felt that that state of acute stress had originated for reasons which we are not allowed to explore by the coroner's ruling,' he added. Scott Reid said that the cause of her death in January last year had been established as opiate toxicity, and questioned where she might have got the drugs. Mulvey replied: 'There is evidence from a number of her friends and people who were working at the Causeway that there was a fairly easy access to the drugs that were held, presumably for clinical use.' Her last entry in her journal read: 'I am dissociative, I could never have done this if I hadn't have been.' Mulvey joined Channel Four in late 2006, with responsibility for commissioning for Cutting Edge, the First Cut new talent strand, and other formatted documentary series. The inquest has been adjourned until 2012. Channel Four issued a statement saying: 'We feel very deeply for Sarah's family and partner at this difficult time. Sarah's tragic death shocked and saddened everyone who knew her at Channel Four. Since then we have worked with the Mulvey family to support them and to celebrate Sarah's career and achievements. As the inquest has been adjourned until 2012 it would not be appropriate for us to comment any further at this time.'

Pakistani actress Veena Malik is suing an Indian men's magazine over a nude photoshoot, claiming that it was doctored, her lawyer has told the BBC. Malik felt 'cheated and duped' by FHM India, which 'tampered' with the photoshoot, Ayaz Bilawala said. FHM India has been asked to withdraw all copies from newsstands and pay two million dollars in damages, he added. Editor Kabeer Sharma told the BBC that the claims were 'entirely false' and that he had video to prove the shoot's authenticity. The photos for the December issue have caused a sensation in Pakistan for both the nudity and the initials of Pakistan's controversial Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency which appear to be tattooed on Malik's arm. 'Ms Malik has been cheated and duped. She had a photoshoot, but there was no nudity. She had some clothes on,' Bilawala told the BBC. 'In the photos that were shown to her [for approval] she had her clothes on. She has suffered from a loss of reputation and we are demanding damages and withdrawal of the magazine from newsstands,' he said. The legal notice says FHM India 'intentionally induced our client to take photographs with clothes on and have subsequently tampered with and/or morphed the photographs with a deliberate intent to cheat our client.' FHM's editor confirmed to the BBC that it had received the legal notice. 'We have seen the notice and forwarded it to our legal department for appropriate action,' Sharma said. 'All the allegations are false and we are looking at various options, including filing a countersuit,' he said. After the controversy broke, Sharma told the BBC that the idea to have ISI written on her arm was his and it was Veena Malik's idea to have it in block letters. He said that the image was intended to be playful, saying that: 'In India we joke about this. If anything goes wrong, we say the ISI must be behind this.' The ISI has been in the headlines in recent months after senior US officials accused it of supporting militants based in Pakistan's tribal areas who target Western troops in Afghanistan. In September the most senior US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen said that the Haqqani militant network 'acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency.' Pakistan has vehemently denied such allegations. The actress has been at the centre of controversy before. She caused outrage among conservative circles in Pakistan for appearing on the Indian reality show Bigg Boss in 2010. She hit the headlines again in March this year by challenging the views of a Pakistani cleric on television.

Marg Helgenberger has said that she 'couldn't believe' the fuss caused when she was reported to have called Justin Bieber 'a brat.' The CSI actress made the comments about Bieber after the teenage pop star and irritant filmed a pair of guest appearances on the show. 'He was kind of a brat,' Helgenberger was quoted as saying. 'He was very nice to me, but he locked one of the producers in a closet, and he put his fist through a cake that was on the actors' table.' Bieber responded at the time: 'It's kinda lame when someone you met briefly and never worked with comments on you. I will continue to wish them luck and be kind.' As though anybody gives a flying stuff about what Justin Bieber thinks. About anything. Helgenberger told Metro: 'I couldn't believe what happened with that. I never thought I'd get that sort of reaction. That was all from an interview I did with a French radio show. I had a translator, so I think maybe something was lost in translation.' Asked if she was bombarded with hate messages on Twitter from fans of Bieber, she added: 'If I tweeted I would have done.' Although she could have added 'hate messages from teenage girls? Like I'm scared!' But, she didn't, because she's far too polite for that. Helgenberger recently confirmed that the current season of CSI will be her last after previously hinting at an exit. She will be replaced by Elisabeth Shue in 2012.

Outnumbered may not return for another full series, Tyger Drew-Honey has revealed. The fourteen-year-old claimed that although the BBC family sitcom is scheduled to return for Comic Relief and Christmas specials in 2012, 'bosses' fear that its cast may be too old for the show to still work. Drew-Honey's co-stars Ramona Marquez and Daniel Roche will be eleven and twelve years old next year, respectively. 'There's a special on Christmas Eve. Next year there'll be a Comic Relief special and maybe another Christmas special. The year after that there could be another series. I think they don't want to dive in this year and do a whole series because it might not work with the kids getting older,' he told the Sun. On what viewers could expect from the upcoming festive episode, Drew-Honey explained: 'My character has a hangover. Grandad's in hospital and we all go and visit him. The last Christmas special ended with a bit of a sing-song so there's another one of them.'

Sky has poached various members of BBC Formula One talent, including Martin Brundle and David Croft, for its own presentation team for the motorsport coverage next year. The satellite pay-TV giant this week confirmed the team of pundits, presenters and commentators to broadcast every session from all Grand Prix from 2012, as part of a controversial shared rights deal with the BBC. As announced last month, the BBC's chief F1 commentator Martin Brundle will lead the commentary team for Sky, dividing his time between paddock, pitlane and commentary box on all race days. Brundle will be joined by another ex-BBC man, David Croft from Radio 5Live's F1 coverage team. Croft will be reunited with fellow 5Live commentator and ex-F1 driver Anthony Davidson for commentary duties for each race weekend's practice sessions. Sky is launching a Sky Sports F1 channel next March to carry all its Formula One coverage, marking the satellite TV firm's first ever network purely dedicated to one sport. Available in standard and high definition, Sky Sports F1 will cover all practice, qualifying and race sessions, along with various programmes related to the world's premium motorsport. To further bolster the race coverage, Sky has hired the BBC's F1 technical expert Ted Kravitz to 'scour the pitlane in search of the inside scoop on what's occurring.' He will be joined by Natalie Pinkham, the former pitlane correspondent for Radio 5Live's F1 coverage. Kravitz will also co-present an F1 magazine show on Sky Sports F1, alongside Georgie Thompson. The presence of the latter is for all the petrolheads watching to get The Horn over, presumably. Sky Sports presenter Simon Lazenby will host each Grand Prix weekend and Steve Rider, the former anchor of F1 coverage when ITV held the rights, will conduct a series of 'big interviews' with racing legends of the past and present for Sky Sports.

The following press release just came through to Stately Telly Topping Manor, dear blog reader, and yer actual Keith Telly Topping can hardly contain his excitement in telling you of its contents. 'Please find attached an updaetd [sic] news release together with details of a picture opportunity involving the visit of X-Factor's Amelia Lily and Kelly Rowland to Akbar's restaurant in Middlesbrough TODAY. Amelia Lily's family will also be in attendance.' The typo and crassly inelegant use of capital letters on the word 'TODAY' are the PR company's own. So, let's get this straight, today's big news in The 'Boro is ... 'two women go for a curry'? Wow. Stop the world, I wanna get off.

An Alaskan man caught in a snowdrift has managed to stay alive by eating frozen cans of beer. Clifton Vial, fifty two, was driving in a remote area outside the town of Nome when his car crashed and got stuck in thick snow, according to the Anchorage Daily News. He was reportedly only wearing tennis shoes, jeans and a jacket, with temperatures dropping to as low as -28°C. 'I made an attempt at digging myself out and realised how badly I was stuck,' he said. 'I would have been frostbit before I ever got the thing out of there.' Vial was stuck inside the car for three days, and used a sleeping bag liner to stay warm. He only turned on his car engine sporadically in order to turn on the heater. His only source of sustenance available was some cans of Coors Light in the back of his car. I think I'd've sooner starved, to be honest. He said: 'I cut the lids off and dug it out with a knife.' People only noticed he was missing when he failed to show up for work, as his family had been out of town over the weekend. He was discovered sixty hour hours after he initially got stuck. 'I felt really pissed at myself,' he added. 'I shouldn't have been out there by myself unprepared for what I knew was possible.'

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's Twenty Two Day's of Christmas, dear blog reader. Remember, it's a Greg Lake-free zone. Today we've got one of the greatest British songwriting partnerships since Lennon and McCartney, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook's only ever go at a Christmas song. It's not one of Squeeze's best although, as usual, the lyrics are terrific and Jools Holland's piano work is magnificent. Its cause, of course, wasn't helped by the BBC banning it for alleged blasphemy! Probably the reference to Morecambe and Wise who, in 1979, had just defected to ITV.

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