Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Will Not Celebrate Meaningless Milestones

This latest update, dear blog reader - you will probably be absolutely horrified and aghast to discover - is the one thousandth since From The North began in 2006. As, essentially, a vanity project for yer actual Keith Telly Topping proving that he had more time on his hand than he knew what to do with. And, it remains so to this day. That is what blogs are for, after all. Here's to the next thousand.
Russell Tovey has signed up for a guest role in the second series of Sherlock. The Being Human star will appear in the second episode, The Hounds of Baskerville, written by Mark Gatiss. Tovey will play a man who recruits Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) after suffering from a traumatic childhood experience. The actor, who plays the werewolf George on BBC3's Being Human also stars in the same channel's Him & Her opposite Sarah Solemani. He has also made memorable appearances in episodes of Doctor Who, Gavin & Stacey and Ashes to Ashes. It was previously announced that the new series of Sherlock will be comprised of Steven Moffat's A Scandal In Belgravia, The Hounds of Baskerville and Steve Thompson's The Reichenbach Fall. In April, Mark Gatiss explained the decision to adapt 'the three most famous' Sherlock Holmes tales, A Scandal in Bohemia, Hound of the Baskervilles and The Final Problem. 'Having had a successful first run, we knew that the natural order would be to do the three most famous things, so we're doing a version of [those three stories],' he said. 'They just fall like that, and then it's a question of how to get out of that [series one] cliffhanger!' The second series of Sherlock is currently filming in Cardiff.

And also, in this week's really important news ...
And now, we know when. St Swithun's Eve, as it happens. Ominous, dear blog reader? You decide. Eve Myles, meanwhile, has claimed that she understands some fans frustration at the show's UK broadcast date. Many others, it should be noted, are simply happy to be getting a fourth series at all and spout no crass sense of entitlement to getting the series before the people who are, after all, by and large paying for it. US viewers will be able to watch the first episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day on Starz on 8 July, but UK viewers will have to wait an additional six days to see the same episode on BBC1. Myles told The Hollywood Reporter: 'We never, ever, ever wanted to take this show away from the original fans. What we always wanted to do with the show was give them a gift every year, something wonderful, a big, big present. It works out that it will be a week after the US showing, and obviously we have nothing to do with that, me nor John [Barrowman] or Russell Davies and Julie Gardner.' Myles also promised that Miracle Day will be 'the best, best series yet' and encouraged fans to 'hold on tight. I'd just like to remind them that they're our fans,' she said. 'We want them to sit back and enjoy it, be proud of it like we are, and to stick with us. If it was up to me and John, we'd have it to them straight away. But it's not.' Myles also argued that UK viewers have 'waited long enough' for a new series of Torchwood. 'These people have waited just over two years for this next season,' she explained. 'I'd like to say that if I had something to do with it that this wouldn't be happening. But, sit tight, because it is a fantastic ride.'

Moving on to more weighty subjects, in this case a towering bucket of lard, the justice secretary Ken Clarke has said that a householder who stabs a burglar in his own home - or, in the face for that matter - will not have committed a criminal offence under plans to clarify the law on self-defence in England. He told the BBC that people were entitled to use 'whatever force necessary' to protect themselves and their homes. The government is to place people's right to defend their property, long present in common law, in statute. David Cameron recently said the issue should be 'put beyond doubt.' Under the terms of the 2008 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, homeowners who use 'reasonable force' to protect themselves against intruders should not be prosecuted, providing they use 'no more force than is absolutely necessary.' However defining what constitutes 'no more force than is absolutely necessary' remains up to the individual. Or, more specifically, the police, the CPU and the courts. Clarke said that there was 'constant doubt' about the issue and people's rights would be made 'much clearer' in legislation on sentencing currently before Parliament and due to be debated by MPs this week. 'It's quite obvious that people are entitled to use whatever force is necessary to protect themselves and their homes,' he said. Asked about what this would mean in practice, he said: 'If an old lady finds she's got an eighteen year old burgling her house and she picks up a kitchen knife and sticks it in him she has not committed a criminal offence and we will make that clear.' What about an eighteen year old who finds an old lady burgling him? They can be reet vicious, can them old ladies. He added: 'We will make it quite clear you can hit the burglar with the poker if he's in the house and you have a perfect defence when you do so.' Yeah, but I think you'll find not many people actually have pokers these days, Ken. What with the vast majority of homes having electric or gas fires rather than coal burning. How lovely it is to see a Tory minister still living in the 1950s. Clarke said that legal protection would not extend to anyone shooting a burglar in the back when they were fleeing or 'getting their friends together to beat them up. We all know what we mean when we say a person has an absolute right to defend themselves and their home and reasonable force.' But, that's the whole point, mate, we don't. Some people would argue 'reasonable force' extends only as far as a stern word of reproach to your assailant as you're getting your head kicked right in. Others may consider that rounding up house-thieves in a big field shaving their heads, tarring-and-feathering them and then sticking them on a boat to Iraq doesn't cross the line of 'reasonable force.' In truth, as with most things in life, the answer probably lies somewhere between those two extremes. That's, kind of, why you're having to make new laws to establish exactly what is, and isn't, 'reasonable force' isn't it? 'Nobody should prosecute and nobody should ever convict anybody whose takes those steps.' The BBC's Political Correspondent Ross Hawkins said it remained to be seen how judges would interpret any change in the law when the first cases came to court. Expect, now, a rush of have-a-go-heroes knifing anybody that comes into their house and annoyed them (burglar or otherwise) using the excuse 'the justice secretary said it was okay.' If I was a door-to-door salesmen, frankly, I'd be nervous.

The penultimate episode of Luther scooped the second highest overnight rating of the current series on Tuesday night, while Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA returned with 1.4m viewers, according to the latest audience data. Luther, starring Idris Elba and Aimee-Fffffffffion Edwards, was watched by 5.37m viewers on BBC1 from 9pm, only slightly down on the series two debut rating. The hard-hitting BBC drama was also far too strong for ITV's Baby Hospital in the 9pm hour, after the documentary appealed to 2.35m viewers plus an additional one hundred and seventy thousand on ITV+1. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the firing of Zoe Beresford after the disastrous biscuit challenge pushed The Apprentice past 7.8m viewers on Wednesday night. The episode was watched by 7.82m on BBC1 in the 9pm hour, peaking at 8.18m or the final fifteen minutes. Spin-off show The Apprentice: You're Fired! appealed to 3.21m on BBC2 from 10pm and and a further one hundred and fifty six thousand viewers on the BBC HD channel. It was a good night all round for BBC1 with Waterloo Road having an audience of 5.02m from 7.30pm and In With The Flynns continuing with 3.57m from 8.30pm. Earlier BBC1's extended coverage of Wimbledon averaged four million viewers between 1:45 and 7:00. The final hour, which saw Andy Murray's quarter final push the Six O'Clock News onto BBC2 and the local news across the country reduced to just a few minutes, averaged over six million viewers with a peak of seven million around 18:30 as Murray beat Feliciano Lopez in three sets. On ITV1, Poms In Paradise mustered 3.33m from 7.30pm, before a repeat of the crime drama Lewis was watched by 3.55m between 8pm and 10pm, along with one hundred and forty four thousand on ITV1+1.

Bob Mortimer has said on Twitter that the new series of Shooting Stars will begin in the first week of August.

Weeks after they announced it elsewhere, a few newspapers finally picked up on the BBC's plans to move the contents of the Blue Peter garden to Manchester 'at an estimated cost of thousands of pounds' according to somebody of utterly no importance at the Daily Torygraph. Among the iconic garden features (and for some spittle-flecked agenda-driven reason the Torygraph put the word iconic in inverted commas) that could move North are a totem pole, a time capsule, the statue of Petra the dog - the programme's first pet - and an Italian sunken goldfish pond. The last Blue Peter episode to be filmed at BBC Television Centre took place this week after fifty three years (fifty one of them with Television Centre as its home). By September, new studios in Manchester will be ready to use and they will feature a new garden, set on a second-storey rooftop. However, BBC bosses are currently considering whether some or all of the features of the old garden could be taken with them. Among them are the eight foot tall totem pole carved from red cedar by Tommy Joseph, an Alaskan Indian artist, and introduced to the garden in October 2008. The time capsule is one of several which have featured in the show, one of which was buried under the Millennium Dome in 1998 and is not due to unsealed until 2050. Petra the dog was the first Blue Peter pet and appeared on screen between 1962 and 1977 and had several puppies. A statue was erected in the garden after Petra's death. The sunken pool was, infamously, targeted in an act of vandalism which was soberly reported to viewers by Janet Ellis, one of the then-presenters, after the incident in 1983. She told viewers: 'One really cruel thing they did was to pour fuel oil into the fish pond. We've drained the pond and we're rescued some of the fish but a few of them of have died and the oil itself has caused a lot of damage.' The original garden opened in 1974 and was cared for by the show's resident gardener, Percy Thrower, until November 1987. At the time, he said the vandals must have been 'mentally ill.' Ten years ago, the England international footballer Les Ferdinand, who lived nearby as a child, admitted that he had been there on the night of the vandalism but had merely 'helped a few people over a wall.' Yeah, Sir Les, we believe you, thousands wouldn't.

Louis Walsh's indecent assault accuser has been arrested by police. The X Factor judge announced earlier this week that he had been cleared of the allegations, as Leonard Watters reportedly admitted to fabricating the allegations. The twenty four-year-old claimed that Walsh had groped him in the bathroom of a Dublin nightclub earlier this year. 'I have robustly ­maintained from the outset that this alleged incident did not occur,' Walsh said in a statement, adding that he intends to 'vigorously pursue legal action' against the newspaper which first published Watters's story. 'Getting that call saying the charges had been dropped was like a weight being lifted off his shoulders,' a 'friend' allegedly told the Mirra. 'But this is by no means the end. He will leave no stone unturned in his fight to clear his name one hundred per cent.' As if News International haven't got enough to worry about with Operation Weeting, they've now got an enraged Louis Walsh after them look for his pound of flesh. Look upon his works, ye mighty, and despair.

The BBC News Channel may switch from two presenters to a solo anchor on weekdays as part of the corporation's cost-cutting drive. Currently the rolling television news network is fronted by two presenters on weekdays but may switch to a single anchor after it emerged it was the most popular suggestion put forward by news staff. There are about thirteen presenters who work on the BBC News Channel, including Matthew Amroliwala and Louise Minchin. In addition in 2009 the channel began using Julia Somerville, Fiona Armstrong and Zeinab Badawi in a bid to counteract ageism claims. Now it has emerged that the idea of using one rather than two presenters on weekdays – as the BBC News channel already does at weekends – is being put forward to the BBC Trust in the autumn as an option as part of the Delivering Quality First cost-cutting initiative. It is not known how much money the plan would save, although BBC News channel presenter Carrie Grace revealed two years ago that she earned ninety two grand a year. Although having a single anchor was the most popular suggestion among news staff, some are said to be concerned about what the on-air impact will be if a major news story breaks. Staff have been canvassed as part of director general Mark Thompson's Delivering Quality First project, which is looking at ways to find savings of about twenty per cent from budgets across the BBC following last autumn's licence fee settlement with the government. Other ideas being put forward to the BBC Trust include cutting features on the BBC News channel, cutting foreign reporters and reducing the number of regional news managers across England. In addition, BBC management is proposing that more reporters are shared between news programmes, including on Today and Newsnight, and that some local radio presenters could also be employed more widely across the output. It is understood that a pilot is already taking place in Yorkshire, with off-peak programmes being put out across a number of stations. Although Thompson is said to be against cutting a specific TV, radio or online service to achieve the savings, it is understood executives are becoming concerned that the only way to solve the issue is by closing or substantially changing a channel. Or two. One 'insider' allegedly told the Gruniad Morning Star:  'The thinking is that it cannot be done and that instead BBC4 could be refocused as more of an archive or arts channel.' The BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten is not averse to the idea of closing or overhauling a channel. The Trust is due to consider the proposals put forward by BBC management in the autumn. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'We are not going to get drawn into a running commentary – no decisions have been taken and therefore these claims remain speculation. Any decisions coming out of the process would be subject to approval by the BBC Trust.'

Campus has been cancelled by Channel Four after one series. The - not particularly funny - comedy, which starred Andy Nyman and Dolly Wells, came from Green Wing writer Victoria Pile. The show focused on the staff and students at the fictional Kirke University, with Nyman playing vice-chancellor Jonty de Wolfe. Channel Four's alleged comedy department has now announced that the show has been dropped in a statement on its Twitter page. 'We're proud to have championed Campus for those fans who watched [and] adored it,' the broadcaster said. 'But there simply weren't enough to justify a second series.' For which read 'it was crap and nobody was watching it.' Channel Four's latest comedy series, Sirens, picked up 1.6m viewers when it premiered earlier this week.

Media regulator Ofcom - a politically appointed quango elected by no one, let us remember - should have the final say on editorial complaints about the BBC's shows rather than the BBC Trust, a House of Lords report has said. At an inquiry into the BBC's governance and regulation, the Lords communications committee called for 'the convoluted and overly complicated complaints process at the BBC' to be revamped. After hearing evidence from witnesses ranging from former BBC chairman Gavyn Davies to presenter Brian Cox, the committee came to the conclusion it wants the BBC Trust and Ofcom to 'work together to resolve the regulation of impartiality and accuracy so that the BBC is no longer its own judge and jury in these matters.' However, the recommendation is likely to raise concerns within BBC management and the Trust about the corporation's editorial independence. Complaints about impartiality and accuracy have been an issue for the corporation over the years, from The Hutton Report to the BBC Trust finding the BBC Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, breached the corporation's editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality in reports on Israel. Another recent example was the BBC Trust's ruling earlier this month that a Panorama programme, Primark: on the Rack, broadcast in June 2008 breached corporation guidelines on 'accuracy and fairness.' It is understood that new BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten thinks allowing an external regulator to handle complaints about impartiality and accuracy could threaten the corporation's independence. The committee said that it was hard for licence fee payers to know whom to contact with complaints, particularly because the roles of the BBC Trust and Ofcom partially overlapped. The peers proposed a complaints 'one-stop shop,' in which the two regulators would 'work together to resolve the regulation of impartiality and accuracy so that the BBC is no longer its own judge and jury in these matters.' The BBC Trust said that Patten was looking at the issues raised as part of his review of BBC governance. Giving evidence to the committee, former BBC chairman Lord Michael Grade said that his experience complaining to the corporation was 'grisly' due to the 'absolutely hopeless' system. The committee suggested that all complaints should be submitted to the BBC in the first instance, followed by an appeal to the Trust, as in the current system. However, a final appeal could be lodged with Ofcom if the complainant was not happy with the Trust's ruling. The media regulator would therefore have the final say on issues of impartiality and accuracy at the BBC. Committee chairman Lord Inglewood said: 'Ultimately, the BBC needs to be accountable to those who use and pay for it, at the same time as having the independence of its journalism, broadcasting and creativity protected from outside political interference.' The committee also warned that BBC creativity must not be 'stifled by overly bureaucratic compliance culture.' The BBC strengthened its compliance procedures in 2008 after a series of largely media-fueled controversies. The Lords committee said: 'We urge the BBC Trust to consider whether there are any ways of minimising the compliance culture within the BBC to reduce bureaucracy in programme making in so far as that is possible to ensure that the BBC's creativity is not compromised.' Reacting to the Lords report, a BBC Trust spokesman said: 'We welcome the committee's report and we note their recommendations on the BBC complaints process. This, and a number of other issues the committee have raised, are being looked at as part of Lord Patten's governance review. The committee's recommendations will feed into the conclusions of the review.'

Glee actress Dianna Agron has 'quashed' Internet rumours that the musical series was to film scenes in London during its third season. And, a nation mourns. Anyway ...

It's always fun when tabloids notice TV ratings, isn't it? 'ITV is embroiled in a weekend ratings CRISIS with its three key shows proving a major turn-off,' according to the Sun. 'Much-vaunted panel show The Marriage Ref, fronted by Dermot O'Dreary, is struggling to get more than ten per cent of viewers in its peaktime Saturday 9pm slot.' I'm not sure whom the Sun think The Marriage Ref was ever 'much vaunted' by. The Sun, probably. Then continue: 'Magic show Penn & Teller: Fool Us, hosted by Jonathan Ross, has seen its audience do a vanishing act with figures down by thousands on its first Saturday outing a fortnight ago.' Not only that but: 'Sunday night's Popstar To Operastar, presented by wellknown horrorshow (and drag) Myleene Klass, has proved a flop after losing a THIRD of its viewers.' You always know when the Sun want to emphasise something, they start using capital letters and bold text. 'Now insiders are predicting all three shows will be AXED in a desperate clear out aimed at saving the channel's weekend strategy.' Probably not true, but it's always amusing when the tabloids go after ITV for a change. One alleged 'insider' alleged told the Sun: 'It's a disaster. If big name stars like Dermot, Myleene and Jonathan can't help get these shows big audiences, then you're stuffed.' The Sun then educate their readers with some raw - overnight - figures: 'The figures speak for themselves. The Marriage Ref - which has already flopped in America - managed an average audience of just 2.3million. That was less than half the 5.2million BBC viewers watching its veteran hospital soap Casualty. Penn & Teller: Fool Us, recorded a better average audience of 3.3million. But it was a massive four hundred thousand down on the week before. Popstar To Operastar is proving the biggest headache for ITV. It started with 4.1million viewers four weeks ago but last Sunday had just 2.7million - pummelled by Top Gear on BBC2 - making it a dead cert for the axe.' ITV was putting on a brave face last night, according to the tabloid, claiming it was 'still popular with the younger audience.' An ITV spokesman allegedly said: 'We're pleased that our new entertainment shows meant ITV was the most watched channel in peak time among younger viewers on Saturday night.' As previously noted, their are lies, there are damned lies and there are ITV publicity statements full of media-speak bollocks. It is important to note, also, that the Sun have reported the wrong average for Penn & Teller to try and prove a point. In actual fact, their show isn't doing too badly and the 'massive' week-on-week drop they describe was, actually, a whole 0.4m - next to nothing in TV ratings terms. That particular show actually isn't doing too badly but the Sun are correct about the other two which are - amusingly - massive flops.

Michael McIntyre is to return to BBC1 over the festive season with a one-hour Christmas special of his Comedy Roadshow. Michael says: 'Having visited twelve of my favourite cities, I'm thrilled that my Comedy Roadshow is coming home for Christmas. It's such an honour for the show to be on Christmas Day and to be introducing some of the biggest names in comedy to entertain a turkey-filled nation slumped on their sofas!' Mark Linsey, Controller, Entertainment Commissioning at the BBC says: 'Who better to bring some Christmas cheer to BBC1 viewers than Michael. He is such a favourite with our audiences and this show is bound to be a real festive treat.'

BARB's long-awaited measuring of online viewing will be rolled out to one hundred homes initially, the ratings agency has confirmed. The measurement system, which has been created following a year-long pilot, will go into the homes of existing BARB panel homes during the second half of this year. By the end of 2012, the agency said it aimed to extend the meter to up to eleven hundred homes, accounting for the television viewing on PCs, laptops and tablet devices of an estimated two thousand five hundred people. BARB said the 'staged approach' would 'ensure that the standards and quality of the core Barb service are not jeopardised and to review the suitability to continue.' Chief executive Bjarne Thelin said: 'We will continually consider and verify the web TV measurement technique so that we can confirm the appropriateness of this approach for BARB. Following this initial stage we'll evaluate the value of proceeding further and with the industry we will assess how this data can best be utilised and applied. The prospect of a measurement which enables web-TV viewing to be examined alongside television set viewing, from a single source, will have a number of applications. It's likely that the greatest initial learnings will come from data aggregated over time.' The BBC launched a proprietary cross-platform measurement system, Live +7, in February. Channel Four followed up a month later with its Online TV Equivalent.

A new alliance of local TV groups has called on lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt to revisit his original plan of creating a national channel for delivering local TV services, and not be swayed by 'vested interests.' Earlier in the month, the vile and odious rascal Hunt confirmed a 'significant shift' in the government's initial policy for invigorating local television, effectively dropping the 'top down' strategy of creating a national 'spine' channel on Freeview for delivering local services. Instead, the vile and odious rascal Hunt said that 'a bottom up' approach was now the preferred strategy, involving support for a range of 'individually licenced stations.' The Local TV Alliance, including the Channel Six group, Grimsby's local TV station Channel Seven and former BBC chairman Greg Dyke, has written to the vile and odious rascal Hunt urging him to revisit the national channel strategy, which would involve offering regional opt outs for delivering local content. Introducing the letter, Channel Six chairman Clive Jones said that the vile and odious rascal Hunt's original vision for local TV was met with 'great excitement' from some within the industry and reflected the belief that local media can 'galvanise and transform' local communities. However, Jones noted that the plans were also met by the national media 'with reactions ranging from lack of interest through disbelief to outright derision. We welcomed the Local Media Action Plan with its proposal for a new national network to support a diverse range of new local stations as the only realistic way to achieve the government's objectives without public subsidy,' he said. 'Then just a few weeks ago we heard that Jeremy was now veering away from the network/affiliate model towards the idea of standalone local stations. The same idea of standalone stations that was comprehensively dismissed by [Lazard media banker] Nick Shott in his report [on local television], that has been tried and failed before in this country both by some of our leading media groups and individual enthusiasts, and that was ruled out in Jeremy's own Local Media Action Plan.' Jones noted that the reason given by the vile and odious rascal Hunt for the policy change was that the previous plan would take too long to implement. But he urged the lack of culture secretary to 'stick to his guns,' and not steer the UK 'down a path of fragmented local stations that everybody who's tried it or looked seriously at it knows will not work. We've had detailed discussion with Ofcom, we've each taken a close look at our own plans, different in detail as they are, and we've come to a common conclusion. We can still deliver. We stand ready, willing, and able to adapt our plans to accommodate the new realities,' he said. 'The need for local TV is more pressing than ever as the BBC cuts back on its own local services, the pressures on local newspapers increase, and ITV threatens to reduce even further its regional coverage. Don't give in to vested interests determined to do all they can to block or diminish what together we can achieve.'

David Dimbleby is in talks with the BBC to present a landmark BBC1 series about the history of British television for 2013, but still has yet to sign a new contract with the corporation. The news appears to signal that the popular, seventy two-year-old Question Time host will continue to appear on the BBC for the next few years, despite numerous offers from other broadcasters. Dimbleby's new series is in the early stages of development but is focusing on the rise of popular television and its effect on Britain and its people. According to reports, the BBC has offered Dimbleby a new five-year contract. However, the row over the plan to move production of BBC1 flagship political series Question Time to Glasgow as part of a BBC initiative to produce fifty per cent of its content outside the capital by 2016 and other issues have dogged negotiations and he has yet to sign. It is understood they include what key political and state events Dimbleby has been offered by the BBC to present. Dimbleby, who had been the BBC's first choice as presenter for most major state and royal events for the more than a decade. However, Huw Edwards was chosen for the job of main anchor of the corporation's royal wedding coverage in April. He has also fronted the BBC's general election night coverage since 1979 and other major political events such as local elections and US presidential elections. Since his contract ran out last year, Dimbleby has signed deals on a programme-by-programme basis. In recent years he has fronted a number of key factual series about the history of the nation for the BBC including How We Built Britain and Seven Ages of Britain. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'This is one of a number of ideas in development with David Dimbleby at the moment but it's too early to go in to further details at this stage.'

Free Agents has been acquired by BBC America. The romantic sitcom, which stars Sharon Horgan, Stephen Mangan and Anthony Head, will be broadcast in the US as part of BBC America's Ministry of Laughs comedy block on Saturday nights. Originally broadcast on Channel Four, the comedy lasted for six episodes in 2009, and has not been renewed. The format centres around protagonist Stephen, played by Head, a brash, promiscuous boss whose advice to office worker Alex, played by Mangan, leads to a will-they-won't-they relationship between Alex and co-worker Helen (Horgan). Free Agents was recently commissioned for a US version produced by NBC, with Head reprising his role alongside other actors. The programme is a Big Talk and Bwark co-production for Channel Four, made by producer Nira Park. Executive producers are Matthew Justice and Iain Morris.

Paul McGann has suggested that he would not be as keen to join Doctor Who in 2011. Not that anybody has asked him to, of course. The fifty one-year-old actor, who played The Doctor in the 1996 TV movie, said that he would find the attention attached to the role these days 'tricky,' comparing himself to Christopher Eccleston. Speaking about the adulation now afforded to fellow stage actor David Tennant following his lead role in Doctor Who, McGann told Official London Theatre: 'He's fantastic of course and he's obviously got a great sense of humour about everything. Chris, I think, seemingly found it tricky. I think I probably would have been more like Chris. I like my privacy.' The actor added that he was happy to 'escape' the format, having not reprised his role when Russell Davies brought the show back in 2005. Again, not that he was asked to.

Richard Desmond's Channel Five is facing an investigation by Ofcom for airing a risqué campaign for Candy Bar Girls, a reality show about the 'lives and loves' of six lesbians living in London's Soho, during the day when children could be watching. Each of the promos for the new reality show feature teasing close-up images that appear to be of two women engaged in sexual activity, intercut with lines such as 'Red ... Hot... Lesbians' and 'Pussy ... Loving ... Ladies'. Wider shots then reveal the women to be engaged in more innocent activities, such as a gym workout and a woman stroking a toy cat in another's lap, with the voiceover stating, 'Well, what were you expecting?,' before a plug for Candy Bar Girls. The trailers appear to be a humorous take on the sort of content that appears on Desmond's adult pay-TV channels, which include Red Hot and Fantasy. However, Ofcom has launched an investigation into the promos after receiving ten complaints from members of the public who saw them during the day and complained about the content. Ofcom is investigating the promos to see if they are in breach of broadcasting regulations about appropriate scheduling and harm and offence. When Channel Five announced the show it said it would 'follow the lives and loves of a group of young lesbians who work hard and party even harder in and around this iconic Soho establishment.' However Jeff Ford, the channel's director of programmes, said that it did not herald a racier direction for the channel. 'This is not about being salacious,' he said at the time. The Advertising Standards Authority has received one complaint about the wider Candy Bar Girls advertising campaign beyond the TV promos on Channel Five. A Channel Five spokesman said: 'Channel Five takes its compliance responsibilities as a broadcaster very seriously. All our content and promos go through a rigorous compliance procedure prior to broadcast.'

Iran's minister of cultural and Islamic guidance has attacked an upcoming BBC2 documentary series on the life of the founder of Islam, the prophet Muhammad, before its even been broadcast, saying that 'the enemy' was attempting to 'ruin Muslims' sanctity.' The three-part series, The Life of Muhammad, presented by Rageh Omaar, the Somali-born Middle East correspondent for Al Jazeera English, is scheduled to be broadcast on BBC2 in mid-July and has been drawing increasing criticism from senior figures in Iran. The documentary makers say it seeks to 'retrace the actual footsteps of the prophet' from his birthplace in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca, his struggles with his prophetic role and divine revelations, his migration to Medina and establishment of the first Islamic constitution before his final return to Mecca following armed conflicts. But the Iranian lack of culture minister, Mohammad Hosseini, who has not seen the programme, said in an interview on Monday that he was worried about the BBC film. Speaking to Iran's semi-official Fars news agency, he said: 'The BBC's decision to make a documentary on the life of Muhammad seems dubious and if our suspicions are proved to be correct, we will certainly take serious action.' What, bomb Television Centre? A jihad on Top Gear merchandise? Hosseini added: 'What the enemy is trying to do in ruining the Muslims' sanctity is definitely much more than causing us to react and unfortunately, some Islamic countries are not taking this issue seriously. One way to show objections is to express condemnation of the West over their despicable actions.' Iran and the West have previously clashed, famously, over publication of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses in 1988 and more recently in the row over threats to burn the Qur'an by a numskull US pastor. It is thought officials in Iran, where the population is predominantly Shia, could be worried that the BBC2 documentary might only be limited to a Sunni interpretation of Muhammad's life. But Aaqil Ahmed, the BBC's commissioning editor for religion and ethics, told the Gruniad that they had consulted a Shia scholar for the programme. Although why he felt he had to justify himself to disgraceful attempts at interference in the BBC's impartiality by a foreign government is not, entirely clear. 'We had a number of consultants for the series including a Shia academic but what is important is that we wanted to tell a history of Muhammad and more specifically a general history of that period,' said Ahmed. In reaction to Hosseini's remarks, Ahmed added: 'The series has not gone out yet and no one in Iran has actually seen any of it. I expect that it is hard to judge a programme before watching it but I understand, at the same time, that there are always people who will have very strong opinions about a film even before its broadcast.' The BBC has stressed that its films are 'a presenter-led documentary series' which 'draw on the expertise and comments from the world's leading academics and commentators on Islam.' Tariq Ramadan of St Anthony's College, Oxford, Ziauddin Sardar, a London-based scholar, Tom Holland, a historian and Princess Badiya El Hassan of the Jordanian royal family are among those who appear in the documentary, which was filmed in various locations including Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem, Syria and Jordan. The BBC has also made clear that its series is 'in line with Islamic tradition' and 'it does not depict any images of the face of Muhammad, or feature dramatic reconstructions of Muhammad's life.' Hosseini's remarks come only a month after Iranian authorities gave permission for the production of a home-made drama based on the life of the prophet, which is going to be directed by film-maker Majid Majidi. A Crescent Films production for BBC2, The Life of Muhammad is directed by the British-Pakistani film-maker Faris Kermani who has previously made a number of Islam-related films, such as Channel Four's Seven Wonders Of The Muslim World. Rageh Omaar has previously worked on at least two Iranian projects, a TV documentary for Al Jazeera, Iran Season, and Rageh Inside Iran which was broadcast by BBC4. So, there you go, just in case you ever forget why it's worth supporting the BBC - anybody who can manage to piss off the criminal fundamentalist dictatorship in Tehran and the Daily Scum Mail at the same time must be doing something right.

The presenters of MasterChef have become the unlikely stars of a viral dance song posted online. The music video mash-up featuring clips of Gregg Wallace and John Torode on MasterChef has been racking up the hits on YouTube since a fan of the cookery programme uploaded it earlier this week. In the video, the show hosts can be seen repeating the same comments on food they're tasting, with Gregg saying: 'I like the base ... I like the buttery biscuit base' over a slammin' techno tune. Meanwhile, John can be heard saying: 'Crunch base, nutty base.' Commenting on John and Gregg's reaction to the video, a 'source' allegedly told the Sun: 'They absolutely love the song, it's so catchy and very funny. They've both got a great sense of humour and have been laughing themselves silly about it.'

And so to the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. For the one thousandth blog, it should probably be the longest single we've featured to date. Thus, dear blog reader, today's sermon is brought unto us by the Reverends Whitfield and strong. Life is full of temptations. And, here's five of them right now. Work those Afros, ladies.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I'm About To Give You All My Money

We start off today's blog with massive congratulations to my BBC Newcastle colleague, and occasional Afternoon Show oppo, Peter Grant who made his debut as a weather presenter on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday morning. Sadly his opening words were 'the big news today is those temperatures have fallen.' Boo. Bring back the old weather man instantly!
Tuesday was, as it happened, a momentous day in broadcasting as and episode of Blue Peter was broadcast from the BBC's Television Centre studios for the final time. The legendary children's show - and national icon - ended its current series in London ahead of its move North to the corporation's new home in Salford. Other departments including BBC Sport, TV's Breakfast and Radio 5Live are also due to move to the new development. First broadcast in 1958 - two years before Television Centre was even opened in West London - Blue Peter has gone on to become the longest-running children's TV programme in the world. Today's final show included a - successful - world record attempt for the most people hula-hooping simultaneously. A new Blue Garden garden will be built on the roof of the MediaCityUK base in Manchester to replace the - regularly vandalised - one in TV Centre. The iconic garden will be situated on a studio roof at the BBC's new site. Current presenters Barney Harwood and Helen Skelton also bade farewell to co-host Andy Akinwolere whose last show it was. Former presenters Janet Ellis, Diane-Louise Jordan and Anthea Turner returned for the final London show to participate in the world record hula-hooping challenge. A Guinness World Records official confirmed that a new record had been set after four hundred and twenty six people managed to simultaneously dance with hula hoops for two minutes - beating the previous record of three hundred and twenty six.

There was also another perfectly extraordinary episode of Luther on BBC1 - the three in three weeks for what is, rapidly, become must-see telly for this blogger. This mixed a bone-chilling series of seeming random violent attacks with the ongoing back-story. As Luther's affection for teenage ex-slapper Jenny (the terrific Aimee-Ffffffion Edwards) grows, so does his determination to protect her and help her get back on her feet. Baba, however, is determined to keep John Luther on a tight leash. To add to Luther's difficulties, he is called in on his day off to investigate a man whose brutal and escalating murders seem to have no obvious motive, leaving Jenny alone and vulnerable. Highlight of the episode, was a wonderfully creepy, slightly deranged turn by David Dawson whom dear blog readers will probably remember best as Tony Warren in The Road To Coronation Street. I'll never see that scene where he and Jessie Wallace's Pat Phoenix flirt playfully with each other in the latter in quite the same way after this!
Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles are rumoured to have been offered the opportunity to host a new evening programme while Daybreak 'undergoes a revamp.' The duo left the BBC in controversial circumstances after successfully fronting The ONE Show together and their careers on the ITV flop breakfast format has never really recovered. The Mirra - citing, as usual, unattributed quotes from 'insiders' - claims that ITV bosses are 'now keen to try and recreate the success of BBC1's evening magazine show' with a new programme. Daybreak would gain two new anchors, with plans to relaunch the breakfast show as more news-focused, if the changes were to go ahead, the allege. 'Using lesser known faces could well be the key,' an unnamed and probably fictitious 'insider' told the paper. 'As we've learned from experiences on TV-am and GMTV, and now with Daybreak, parachuting in big stars with a huge fanfare isn't popular.' Well, it was a bit bloody idiotic trying with these two waste-of-space glakes, in that case if it hasn't worked twice before and you knew the reasons why. Particularly as you're paying them the gross national product of a small third world country. That is, of course, if you exist, 'insider.' Which you probably don't. 'In fact,' the alleged insider alleged continued, 'it's a recipe for disaster.' It was recently claimed that the presenters would not be 'axed' from Daybreak as any such move would require a four million smackers pay-off. The 'source' allegedly continued: 'BBC Breakfast is doing really well because it gives people what they want in the mornings - the news. The good thing for us is they're about to shoot themselves in the foot by shifting their very successful show up to Manchester, losing half the production team, several presenters and very possibly most of their guests. This is the perfect time to revamp Daybreak and take them on.' If given the green light, Bleakley and Chiles's new magazine programme would follow the main evening six o'clock news, directly leading into Emmerdale. A spokesperson for ITV confirmed that a news review at the broadcaster was 'ongoing,' but added: 'The suggestion that Adrian and Christine are moving to 6pm is untrue.'

The actors in New Tricks have criticised the BBC's over what they describe as 'censorship.' Alun Armstrong told the Radio Times that he does not like the way the BBC can change the scripts. 'We tend to come up against the BBC mainly when there are edicts and memos and script changes, which we never get to discuss,' he said. Meanwhile, his co-star James Bolam suggested that the cast can always tell which changes have been made by the BBC. 'I object to the censorship,' he continued. 'In the '60s, in the theatre, we fought very hard to get rid of censorship from the Lord Chamberlain's office. And nowadays, in television, one is more heavily censored than ever.' Amanda Redman suggested that the corporation is 'terrified of offending anyone,' whilst Dennis Waterman added: 'They have a phrase that is used to our producers, "audience expectation." They say that viewers don't expect us to swear. But we're ex-coppers!' Well, you're not really Den, you're actors. In your case, one who last acted in anything decent around 1980. However, New Tricks' executive producer Alex Graham played down the actors' comments. Obviously. 'This is a recurring complaint from the actors, but I don't really recognise this version of events,' he said. 'I don't want to sound old-fashioned, but - although it's technically a post-watershed show - New Tricks is a family programme. Part of its appeal is that all the generations watch it. The boxes [on the BBC compliance forms] are pretty full. We don't have the f-word, but there's a lot of other stuff. Sure, we sometimes feel the BBC is being a bit prissy, but this isn't supposed to be The Wire.'

Tom Sizemore has signed up to play a recurring role in the second season of CBS's Hawaii Five-0. The Black Hawk Down actor will play the head of an Internal Affairs unit in multiple episodes, according to Entertainment Weekly. A former Detroit homicide detective, Sizemore's character will be recruited to investigate the Five-0 unit, led by Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin). Sizemore is best known for appearing in such films as 1993's True Romance, 1995's Heat and 1998's Saving Private Ryan. His past television credits include a starring role on CBS drama Robbery Homicide Division and a recurring part on the Starz series Crash. He has also appeared in recent episodes of Southland and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In March, Sizemore joined the cast of FOX drama pilot Exit Strategy but the project has not yet been picked up to series. Lost actor Terry O'Quinn will also appear in the second season of Hawaii Five-0 as a Navy Seal, while former Heroes star Masi Oka, who played the recurring character of medical examiner Max Bergman in the first series, has been promoted to a regular. All of which is very interesting but, what fans really want to know is, how often will Grace Park be appearing in a bikini next year?

Four of the five surviving Monty Python's Flying Circus members have reunited to voice a 3D animated film based on the memoirs of their late colleague and friend Graham Chapman. A Liar's Autobiography will feature recordings that Chapman, who died in 1989 aged forty eight, made of his 1980 book. John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones have all signed up while Eric Idle is not involved. Too busy hanging out in LA with rock stars, as usual, one imagines! Always Eric's main scope of interest, that. The film is due out in spring next year. Mad-as-toast Terry Jones joked that he had 'no idea' until recently that Chapman was actually dead and 'thought he was just being lazy. However, I am now delighted to find myself working with him again on this exciting project,' he added. Co-director Jeff Simpson said that producers had worked closely with the Chapman estate and the Pythons to 'get this exactly right.' Chapman died after battling cancer. Simpson said that the comic would be pleased 'his work is being re-imagined in glorious 3D - he always loved wearing silly glasses.' Heh.

Joel Schumacher is reportedly in talks to direct a new HBO drama pilot. The Phone Booth director could helm The Big Girls, according to Deadline. The Big Girls - fantastic title, notwithstanding - is based on the 2007 novel of the name name by Susanna Moore. It follow a young psychiatrist at a women's prison who treats the criminally insane while also dealing with her own psychological issues. Adam Mazer will adapt the book for television. The writer won an Emmy last year for his work on HBO television movie You Don't Know Jack starring Al Pacino. Electus executive Ben Silverman and Original Media's Charlie Corwin will serve as producers on the pilot. Other projects currently in development at HBO include a drama based on the career of Mike Tyson, a new - and much anticipated - series from West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin about TV news station, fantasy pilot Hobgoblin and Goldie Hawn's The Viagra Diaries.

Channel Four has announced that four-time Olympic gold medal-winning athlete Michael Johnson is to join their presentation team for its coverage of the IAAF World Athletics Championships. Last October, Channel Four broke the BBC's twenty seven-year hold on the TV rights to the IAAF World Athletics Championships, sealing an exclusive deal to the series from 2011 to 2013. Johnson, a nine-time world champion, will join main presenter Ortis Deley - yes, 'him from The Gadget Show' - for the coverage as lead pundit, bringing his extensive experience in track and field. He has also previously provided analysis on the BBC's coverage of athletics for the last eight years. Jamie Aitchison, the editor for live sports at Channel Four, said: 'Michael is renowned for his frank, incisive and illuminating views and we are delighted to have him as our lead analyst in our exciting team.' Alongside Deley and Johnson, the Channel Four IAAF team will also include commentators Jon Rawling and Rob Walker, while Sonja McClaughlin will deliver trackside reports. Usain Bolt, the world's fastest man, will promote the coverage in a series of specially-made idents, due to be broadcast prior to and throughout the championships. Channel Four has also teamed up with music website Mixcloud towards the aim of 'crowd-sourcing' music to accompany its coverage in a special competition. Commissioned through Channel Four's multi-million pound Alpha Fund, the competition involves Mixcloud users compiling an eight-track list of music they think could accompany athletics. I'm guessing they're looking for something a bit more left-field than 'Keep on Running' although, with Channel Four, you can never be too sure. The winning playlists will be broadcast on the IAAF World Athletics microsite at the Channel Four site. Channel Four will air almost sixty five hours of coverage of the 2011 IAAF World Championships this August and September in Daegu, South Korea, including all evening sessions and a daily highlights show in prime time. IAAF World Athletics runs ahead of Channel Four's exclusive rights deal to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, as the broadcaster seeks to bolster its sport offering.

Horrible Simon Cowell's new ITV game show Red or Black? has been hit with criticism before it's even been broadcast after featuring spray-painted sheep in one of the games. The series, due to be broadcast later this year with Ant and/or Dec as hosts, sees hopefuls - their greed making them almost sick with excitement - having their luck tested as they compete to win one million smackers. Early stages of the competition have been filmed in London's Wembley Arena. The latest filming in Roundhay Park, Leeds saw the contestants guess if sheepdogs could round up more of the red or black sheep. However, the Daily Lies reports that animal rights activists have criticised the decision to use the sheep, stating that it would have been a 'stressful and frightening' experience for the animals. Well, I imagine it would have been a horrible experience for them. Although, if the producers promised to keep Cowell away from the sheep I'm sure everything would've been all right for the animals in question. 'It's never a good idea to make sheep, or any animals, props,' a spokesman from People for the Ethical Treatment Of Animals told the paper. 'Sheep are sentient, intelligent and complex animals and flockmates recognise each other even if they've been separated for years. Subjecting these shy sensitive animals to long periods of restraint in order to spray them with potentially noxious chemicals will also be stressful and frightening for them.' An ITV 'source' - nameless and, therefore, probably fictitious - denied that the sheep had been at any risk, adding that the dye was harmless. 'I can assure viewers we are not in the business of being cruel to animals,' the insider said. 'We followed all the proper guidelines for using animals on television. While the animals may have looked quite dramatic in their new colours, they did not come to any harm.' He then added, 'also, they're just sheep!'

The X Factor 2011 final will reportedly be staged in London's Wembley Arena. The ITV show is currently filmed in Fountain Studios, which holds an audience of three hundred. The switch to the twelve thousand five hundred-seat venue has been ordered by Simon Cowell, according to the Sun. 'There may have been some concerns about the change in the judging panel, but viewers will forget all of that when they see the new-look show and final,' a 'source' allegedly told the paper. 'We are very excited about making it bigger and better - with a bigger venue, bigger-name guests and more audience members and celebrities than ever before.' Cowell will not appear on the judging panel for the new series of The X Factor, but has apparently vowed to attend the final - said to be scheduled for the weekend of 10 and 11 December. Moving the final to Wembley Arena was previously rumoured to have been among plans to expand the show for the 2010 series.

Merlin producer Johnny Capps has confirmed that Anthony Head will return for the show's fourth series. Head, who plays the tyrannical medieval king Uther Pendragon in the popular BBC fantasy drama, recently landed a regular recurring role on the NBC sitcom Free Agents. However, Capps told SFX: 'Tony is in the next series, and there are some very exciting stories for his character. [Uther makes] some interesting choices and some unexpected choices.' He continued: 'Tony is an important part in the series and Uther's legacy is [also] important.'

The full shortlist of nominations for the 2011 TV Choice Awards, to be hosted by Ben Miller on 13 September 13 has been announced. It is as follows: The Best New Drama category will be between Downton Abbey, Sherlock, Single Father and The Walking Dead. Being Human, Glee, Misfits and Shameless will contest the Best Drama Series award. Best Family Drama will see Casualty, Doctor Who, Merlin and Waterloo Road go head-to-head. The Best Actor category - or 'The Squee Girls Special' as it's probably better known - will feature Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Morgan, Matt Smith and David Tennant. Best Actress sees a fight between Amanda Burton, Karen Gillan, Vicky McClure and the late Elisabeth Sladen. Sadly not a real one, in mud. Because, to be honest, if it was, I'd watch. The Best Comedy award is between Benidorm, The Inbetweeners, Miranda and The Ricky Gervais Show. Best Entertainment Show pits An Idiot Abroad, Celebrity Juice, The Graham Norton Show and, bizarrely Qi against each other.
The Cube, Deal Or No Deal, The Million Pound Drop Live and Total Wipeout will battle it out for the Best Game Show award. The hotly-awaited Best Daytime Show award will feature BBC Breakfast, The Jeremy Kyle Show, Loose Women and This Morning. But not Daybreak, of course. Best Factual Entertainment Show features the hilarious prospect of Top Gear taking on the likes of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, Embarrassing Bodies and Katie: My Beautiful Friends. For some odd reason, MasterChef doesn't get a nomination in the Best Food Show cateogry, instead The Hairy Bikers, Saturday Kitchen and Something For The Weekend get the job of putting Jamie's Thirty Minute Meals firmly in its place.

Emma Swain has been named the BBC's new Controller of Knowledge, as a permanent replacement for George Entwistle. Swain - who now gets the greatest job title in the world - will be responsible for leading the Knowledge strategy across all BBC factual programming, including arts, music, history, natural history, business, science, religion, consumer journalism and contemporary factual. She has been acting controller of Knowledge commissioning since February, when Entwistle became temporary director of BBC Vision following Jana Bennett's departure to BBC Worldwide. Entwistle was officially appointed to the role in April. Swain was previously head of Knowledge TV commissioning, overseeing an eight-strong team that commissions factual TV content from Vision Productions and the independent sector for the four BBC channels. Over her BBC career Swain has held a number of senior posts, including commissioning editor for specialist factual and head of Knowledge multimedia commissioning. She also spent a brief period in 2007 as acting controller of BBC3. She has helped develop a range of successful factual shows, including Don't Tell The Bride, Kill It Cook It Eat It, Comic Relief Does Kilimanjaro and Life. Her former role as head of Knowledge TV commissioning will not be filled, as some of the responsibilities have already been redistributed.

BBC News has apologised for 'human error' which resulted in a report yesterday on the death of actress Margaret Tyzack wrongly featuring a photo of Siân Phillips. Tyzack died on Saturday at the age of seventy nine after a long acting career on stage and screen, including the 1967 BBC adaptation of Victorian drama The Forsyte Saga. However, a report on her death broadcast on Monday evening on the BBC's News At Ten featured a portrait of Welsh actress Siân Phillips. The BBC has apologised to the families of Tyzack and Phillips for the 'unfortunate' incident, which it said was 'down to human error.' The human who erred has since been identified and name to write out one hundred times 'Siân Phillips is not dead.' And, then he had his knackers sliced off with a rusty blade. He won't be doing that again in a hurry, let me assure you, dear blog reader. In a statement, the corporation said: 'Due to human error incorrect pictures were used to illustrate a report of the death of actress Margaret Tyzack on the BBC News At Ten. The pictures used were in fact of the actress Siân Phillips. This was very unfortunate and we would like to apologise to both the family of Margaret Tyzack and to Siân Phillips for any distress or offence caused.'

As reported yesterday, a thirty four-year old female journalist has been released on bail after she was arrested by Scotland Yard on suspicion of illegally accessing voicemail messages. Press Association royal reporter Laura Elston was arrested when she attended an appointment at a central London police station at around 3pm. Scotland Yard said that Elston was questioned on suspicion of 'intercepting communications, contrary to section 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.' She was later released on police bail to reappear in early October. It is not known if Elston has ever worked at the News of the World, which up to this point has been the main focus of Operation Weeting. On Thursday last week a thirty nine-year-old woman was arrested at her home in West Yorkshire by Scotland Yard officers as part of Operation Weeting, on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications contrary to section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977. She was released later the same day after questioning at a West Yorkshire police station. The woman, believed to be Terenia Taras, contributed more than thirty stories for the News of the World as a freelance between 1998 and 2004, although Scotland Yard would not confirm this. They didn't need to, thougjh, it's a matter of public record. A spokesman for Scotland Yard said that the woman had been bailed to return to a West Yorkshire police station in mid-October. Taras is the ex-girlfriend of Greg Miskiw, the News of the World's former assistant editor, who is currently in the US. She has also written occasionally for other tabloids including, most recently, the Sunday Mirra and, less often, for the Daily Scum Mail. Her last bylined article appeared in the Sunday Mirra in December 2007. In April, a senior reporter at the News of the World, James Weatherup, was arrested and questioned. Weatherup, who has also worked as a news editor with the Sunday tabloid, was released after questioning. The paper's chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, and former assistant editor Ian Edmondson, were also held in April and released on police bail to return in September. Days later the Met launched Operation Weeting, after receiving 'significant new information' from News International.

The mathematical constant pi is under threat from a group of detractors who will be celebrating on Tuesday. Those marking 'Tau day' suggest a constant called tau should take its place: twice as large as pi, or about 6.28 - hence the 28 June celebration. Tau proponents say that for many problems in maths, tau makes more sense and makes calculations easier. Not all fans of maths agree, however, and pi's rich history means it will be a difficult number to unseat. And, most normal people don't really care. 'I like to describe myself as the world's leading anti-pi propagandist,' said Michael Hartl, an educator and former theoretical physicist in a way that makes one wonder if he pbelieves his mother is really proud of him because of this boast. 'When I say pi is wrong, it doesn't have any flaws in its definition - it is what you think it is, a ratio of circumference to diameter. But circles are not about diameters, they're about radii; circles are the set of all the points a given distance - a radius - from the centre,' Hartl explained to BBC News. 'If you define your circle constant as the ratio of circumference to the diameter, what you're really doing is defining it as the ratio of the circumference to twice the radius, and that factor of two haunts you throughout mathematics.' The discrepancy is most noticeable when circles are defined not as a number of degrees, but as what are known as radians - of which there are two times pi in a full circle. With tau, half a circle is one-half tau. Hartl believes that people still use degrees as a measure of angle because pi's involvement in radians makes them too unwieldy. He credits Bob Palais of the University of Utah with first pointing out that 'pi is wrong,' in a 2001 article in the Mathematical Intelligencer. But it is Hartl who is responsible for The Tau Manifesto - calling tau the more convenient formulation and instituting Tau Day to celebrate it. Kevin Houston, a mathematician from the University of Leeds, counts himself as a convert. 'It was one of the weirdest things I'd come across, but it makes sense,' he told BBC News. 'It's surprising people haven't changed before. Almost anything you can do in maths with pi you can do with tau anyway, but when it comes to using pi versus tau, tau wins - it's much more natural.' Hartl is passionate about the effort, but even he is surprised by the fervent nature of some tau adherents. 'What's amazing is the "conversion experience": people find themselves almost violently angry at pi. They feel like they've been lied to their whole lives, so it's amazing how many people express their displeasure with pi in the strongest possible terms - often infolving profanity. I don't condone any actual violence - that would be really bizarre, wouldn't it?' Yeah. Probably.

Hundreds more Britons went to fight fascism in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s than had previously been thought, newly released files show. MI5 recorded the names of about four thousand people from Britain and Ireland suspected of travelling to join the war, National Archives files show. The previous estimate stood at about two thousand five hundred. Course, we have a very big Thirties revival when yer actual Keith Telly Topping was eighteen - everybody was going off to Spain to fight the fascists, except we called it The World Cup then. Nah, lissun ... Many volunteers were Communists and of considerable interest to MI5 because of their naughtiness and their doings. One name on the list is Eric Blair, better known as the author George Orwell. His experiences in the Spanish Civil War were documented in his masterpiece A Homage to Catalonia. The details of those who had joined the fight against General Franco's forces between 1936 and 1939 continued to be updated by security service MI5 up until the mid-1950s. The record for Orwell covers the period in which he published the bestselling novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, until his death in January 1950. The files, which can be downloaded free for a month, comprise more than two hundred pages detailing the movements of the men and women who left British ports for the Spanish front line - as well as 'a roll of honour' of some of those killed in action. James Cronan, the National Archives' diplomatic and colonial records specialist, said it was not clear how many of those who left actually reached Spain, but he added that 'we know that hundreds never returned. The International Brigades brought volunteers together from all over the world in defence of democracy but few, if any, records exist of their service,' he said. 'That's why uncovering a document like this is so exciting.' This year marks the seventy fifth anniversary of the start of the war in July 1936.

A woman 'under the influence of alcohol' has been arrested after spraying breast milk on police. Stephanie Robinette, thirty, had attended a wedding with her husband earlier in the day, but started a dispute after consuming a quantity of alcohol, according to her husband. He claimed that Robinette hit him several times and then locked herself in her car, Reuters reports. When the sheriff's deputies arrived on the scene in Delaware, Robinette refused to exit the car and loudly swore at them. The sheriff recalled: 'When deputies attempted to remove Robinette from the vehicle, she advised the deputies that she was a breastfeeding mother, proceeded to remove her right breast from her dress, and began spraying deputies and the vehicle with her breast milk. This is a prime example of how alcohol can make individuals do things they would not normally do.' Robinette, from Ohio, was eventually arrested for domestic violence, resisting arrest and 'disorderly conduct.' Not to mention the potential that she could have 'had someone's eye out with that.'

And so, by process of logical elimination, we come to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which, today, features the Goddamn Queen of Soul Miss Aretha Franklin. Sock it to me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Life Is A Three-Ring Circus

Karen Gillan was reportedly 'found naked' in a New York hotel corridor after 'a night of partying' in April. This is according to the Daily Scum Mail, anyway, which probably gives you an idea of much much credence to give these claims, dear blog reader. Because, you know, they always tell the truth and nothing but. The Doctor Who actress was said to be 'wrapped in a sheet by hotel security and escorted to her room' after being found 'nude and whimpering' at 7am at The Ace Hotel in Manhattan, the Daily Scum Mail claims. With some considerable glee, one should add. Although, tragically, they make this allegation without any photographic evidence. So, I suppose we'll just have to take their word for it ... despite a previous record of crass, ignorant mendacity and unattributed quotes from 'sources' a mile long. That, and the fact they were big fans of Hitler in the thirties, of course. A 'permanent resident' of the hotel - nameless, of course, but still he or she shouldn't be too hard to identify if anyone wants to actually check out the story first-hand - allegedly told the alleged newspaper that he (or she) allegedly 'heard someone' trying to get into his (or her) room and, allegedly, went to investigate. 'I went to the peephole and looked out. I saw a man at the lift who was looking back at someone who was attempting to open my door,' the Scum Mail quotes this mysterious, anonymous alleged resident as allegedly saying. 'The next thing I saw was a woman giving this person at my door two towels before getting into the lift and leaving.' He (or she) added: 'Then I saw this young woman, completely naked, trying to wrap two towels around her and not having much luck. She then started to whimper and knock on my door.' And, you didn't answer it to help her in what was, clearly, her hour of need? Well, what a thorough gentleman you are, sir. Or, indeed, madam. Seeing that the, alleged, woman was, allegedly, 'getting nowhere', the alleged nameless 'permanent resident' allegedly goes on to claim, 'she lay down with the towels covering her.' After security subsequently arrived and escorted the woman - whom the Scum Mail suggest was 'later identified by the resident as Gillan' - away, the alleged resident added: 'I never saw Lady Godiva again.' Quite how this alleged 'resident' subsequently allegedly 'identified' Karen (she's not alleged, she definitely exists - we've all seen her on the telly), since he (or she) didn't seem to have a clue whom Karen was when giving his (or her) alleged 'Lady Godiva' quote to the Scum Mail, the alleged newspaper doesn't elaborate in their shitehawk 'exclusive'. Nor, indeed, does the Scum Mail reveal how, exactly, this alleged story came to their alleged attention in the first place. Does any of this nonsense stink of the pungent whiff of - alleged - bullshit to anyone, or is it just me? Karen's spokesman - I wasn't aware she had one, so it could've been 'some geezer off the streets' I suppose - allegedly 'declined to comment' to the newspaper. Which, to be fair, anybody with a single ounce of dignity in them would decline to comment in the Daily Scum Mail came looking for a quote. Allegedly. A BBC Worldwide spokesman allegedly said: 'We are unaware of this alleged incident.' Please note, dear blog reader, the emphasis on the word alleged there, which the BBC normally only use in episodes of Have I Got News For You. The actress was in New York, briefly, in April as part of a promotional tour for Doctor Who. Anyway, make of all that what you, allegedly, will, dear blog reader. I know what this blogger allegedly makes of it.

Torchwood: Miracle Day will premiere in Britain, as previously rumoured, on 14 July the BBC has confirmed this week. A spokesperson stated that the first episode of the ten-part SF drama will be broadcast on Thursday night in a 9pm slot. The series, a co-production between the BBC and the US cable network Starz, will premiere in America six days earlier, on Friday 8 July. Meanwhile, there was a very good interview with Russell Davies over the weekend in the Gruniad Morning Star in which Big Rusty discussed a number of topics, including his hatred of Tories for which he should be knighted, frankly, and the future of co-productions such as the one involving Torchwood: 'Davies's excitement at his own show is mirrored by his clear delight in television in general. He watches lots. Our conversation takes in, amongst others, Game of Thrones, Scott & Bailey, Saturday Kitchen and The Good Wife ("To me, it's the new West Wing"). And, of course, his beloved Coronation Street. "The only odd thing I felt about moving [to the US] to live was the television, because it's very strange. My God, you miss your evening soap opera. When you've watched it all your life, 7.30pm is soap opera time."' Fans fearing the end of Torchwood need not fear too much as Davies added that he has ideas for at least one more series: 'I've got to do this again. I've got one more story that I can tell – just one more that has Gwen right at the centre of it – that would be fantastic. So I'm my own worst enemy.'

Bill Pullman has claimed that joining the cast of Torchwood was an 'impulsive' decision. The Independence Day actor told Wales Online that he had signed up to the series without reading the entire script. 'I just thought, "Let's do it,"' he explained. As Americans are wont to. 'It was so attractive to me because it's a character with so many facets which I have never really played before.' The actor also admitted that he enjoys the show's connection to Wales, where parts of Torchwood: Miracle Day were filmed. 'I don't watch any TV so I knew nothing about the show, especially about the Welsh connection,' he confessed. '[But it] soon became very apparent. I like that connection and it is very important to the whole show.' The actor previously revealed that he had enjoyed exploring the role of child killer Oswald Danes over ten episodes. 'I'm in a big part of [the series],' he explained. 'In that arc, you can make a different kind of character than you can in a two-hour movie.'

Series seventeen of Top Gear launched with more than five million viewers on Sunday night - the second highest audience for any programme of the night - whilst the BBC's Glastonbury coverage also proved popular, the latest overnight audience data has revealed. The Top Gear episode - worthy, in particular, for Clarkson's so-far-over-the-top-it-was-down-the-other-side tribute to the E-Type Jag and Alice Cooper crawling around a very wet track in their reasonably priced car - returned with 4.32m viewers on BBC2 in the 8pm hour and a whopping great additional eight hundred and eighteen thousand on BBC HD. Which will, no doubt, put a massive scowl on the faces over various Gruniad-reading Communist hippies and Daily Scum mail-reading right-wing knobs. All of which, let's face it, is always a jolly good thing. Also on BBC2, coverage of Beyoncé's headlining set on the final day of the Glastonbury festival was seen by 1.05m from 10pm and a further one hundred and three thousand on HD. BBC3's coverage of Plan B's performance at the festival entertained over four hundred and sixty thousand punters from 7.45pm, before music from Pendulum and The Kaiser Chiefs had six hundred and ninety thousand viewers from 9pm. It was generally a okay night for ITV except in the case of Popstar to Operastar which averaged a thoroughly rotten 2.85m in the 8pm hour. Looks like the bubble has well and truly burst on that one and bringing it back for second series is starting to look like a colossal mistake by someone in Stately ITV Manor. The results show, featuring Erasure singer Andy Bell becoming the latest alleged celebrity to be eliminated, had a broadly similar (and equally rotten) 2.86m from 10pm. On the other hand, ITV did have the highest audience for any show of the night, Scott & Bailey's 5.46m (plus two hundred and fifty thousand on ITV+1) narrowly beating Top Gear's numbers. Fake Or Fortune?, the new factual entertainment Antiques Roadshow spin-off fronted by Fiona Bruce, continued with 3.86m on BBC1 in the 7pm hour, but it was outperformed by The Royal's 4.05m on ITV1. Also on BBC1, Countryfile scored 4.74m in the 8pm hour and a repeat of Silent Witness got a right hiding off Scott & Bailey with 2.6m on BBC1. The rather fine documentary The Many Faces of Michael Caine was watched by 1.26m on BBC2 in the 7pm hour before Top Gear and then, continuing the well-above average audience for the channel, Coast had a combined audience of just over three million - 2.88m on BBC2 from 9pm and two hundred thousand viewers on BBC HD.

The BBC has released Live +7 data for May which revealed that the Doctor Who episode The Doctor's Wife was seen by an astonishing 9.9 million viewers in the week of its first broadcast. Live +7 data combines viewers from across all the platforms from those who watched a particular TV show 'live' to those who recorded it, downloaded it or watched it on their computers via the BBC iPlayer and those who watched repeats later in the week. The fourth episode in Doctor Who's sixth season, The Doctor’s Wife, was watched by nearly ten million viewers. The Doctor's Wife had an overnight rating of 5.9 million viewers and a final, consolidated rating of 7.9 million. In May it was the most requested programme on iPlayer with 1.22 million downloads. The new data released by the BBC also reveals that the long-running BBC3 sitcom Two Pints of Larger and a Packet of Crisps saw its ratings rise significantly from around five hundred and fifty thousand overnight to two and a half million via all platforms. An episode of EastEnders gained an extra 2.4 million viewers - pushing it past eleven million viewers - through Live +7 data and The Apprentice topped ten million viewers for an episode of the current series through Live +7 figures. BBC iPlayer received one hundred and fifty nine million requests for TV and radio programmes in May, an increase of eighteen million from the previous month. The Apprentice and Doctor Who were - by a distance - the most popular TV programmes while Radio 4's The Unbelievable Truth was the most popular Radio show.

Meanwhile here's some excellent rating news from the US. Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution ended with a sour taste. The odious British chef's cookery show pulled in a wretched 2.6m for ABC in the 9pm hour for its final episode, nearly being embarrassed by a House repeat which took 2.3m for FOX. Sadly, this means it's likely that Oliver's American adventure is over ... and we'll be stuck with him over here.

And, finally on the subject of ratings, here's the Top Twenty programmes week ending 19 June:
1 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 9.91 million
2 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 9.32 million
3 The Apprentice - BBC1 Wed - 8.40 million
4 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 7.74 million
5 Scott & Bailey - ITV Sun - 6.73 million
6 Luther - BBC1 Tues - 6.49 million
7 Walton Sextuplets: Moving On - ITV Mon - 6.01 million
8 Waterloo Road - BBC1 Wed - 5.96 million
9 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 5.91 million
10 Film: Kung Fu Panda - Sat BBC1 - 5.55 million
11 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.33 million
12 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 5.24 million
13 Case Histories - BBC1 Sun - 5.03 million
14 National Lottery: Who Dares Wins - BBC1 Sat - 4.98 million
15 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Tues - 4.61 million
16 The Royal - ITV Sun - 4.48 million
17 Lee Mack's All Star Cast - BBC1 Sat - 4.45 million
18 My Family - BBC1 Fri - 4.37 million
19 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 4.32 million
20 In With The Flynns - BBC1 Wed - 4.24 million
Fantastic figures for The Apprentice (again) and Luther, there and Scott & Bailey continues its impressive collection of numbers. The BBC will, likely, be very happy with Lee Mack's new format's figures too. Two of the ITV figures (numbers seven and sixteen) are inclusive of ITV HD figures which, at this time, are not available. BBC2's highest audiences were for The Apprentice: You're Fired! (3.24m) and the opening episode of The Kennedys (2.86m). Channel Four's broadcast of the movie The Day The Earth Stood Still achieved a final audience figure of 3.47m

Law and Order: UK's fifth series which is the one in which Peter Davison is scheduled due to appear, is due to begin broadcasting in July on ITV according to the writer and producer Emilia di Girolamo on Twitter.
Scotland Yard will pass documents seized from Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was employed by the News of the World, to a group of public figures who are suing the paper's owner News Group over alleged phone hacking, following a high court hearing on Monday. A judge ordered the Metropolitan police to hand some information from the Mulcaire archive, which includes eleven thousand pages of documents and one hundred and eleven recordings made by the private investigator, to lawyers acting for claimants including football agent Sky Andrew and the actors Steve Coogan and Jude Law. The documents covered by the judge's order are mainly limited to billing data showing phone calls between Mulcaire and the News of the World, details of contracts, invoices or payments made to the private investigator for services rendered, and further pages from the notebooks kept by him which relate directly to the claimants. That information was seized during the Met's original investigation into phone hacking, which resulted in Mulcaire being jailed in January 2007 along with Clive Goodman, the News of the World's former royal editor. Michael Silverleaf QC, for News Group, the News International subsidiary which publishes the News of the World, pointed out the company has already admitted the charges in most cases and argued that the claimants had the evidence they needed to win damages. This, you may remember, after over three years of constant - almost daily - denials from news International and their various representatives that the News of the Screws had anything to do with anything. So, frankly, seeing them squirm as the whole rotten house of cards collapses around them is ... jolly good fun. The Met has already shown claimants pages from Mulcaire's notebooks that name them and list their personal information, including, in many cases, the PIN numbers used to access their mobile phone messages and names and numbers of family and friends, Mr Silverleaf continued. Further disclosure would be 'expensive' and would 'not effect the sum they received in damages,' he said. Well, that's still to be decided, frankly. You don't get to set damages, matey, the court does. Lawyers for the claimants said that the new information would cast light on the extent of illegal phone-hacking at the News of the World and demonstrate that there was a conspiracy between Mulcaire and News Group to methodically target their clients. Hugh Tomlinson QC, for the claimants, said: 'It is entirely understandable that News Group wants to limit the disclosure, partly for the good reason that it wants to limit costs and partly for the bad reason that it wants to put a lid on the disclosure of its wrongdoing going back over the years. The admissions [News Group] is prepared to make are of a very very narrow nature.' An attempt by what were described as 'a number of unidentified public figures' to block the release of the documents, which could cast light on the full extent of phone-hacking at the News of the World, failed. Justice Vos told Andrew Caldecott QC, who was representing this mysterious unidentified group, that he did not believe the release of the documents, which will be redacted to remove the names of victims not so far named, would lead to their identities being disclosed. The names of any News of the World journalists mentioned in the documents but not already made public will also be redacted to protect the ongoing police enquiry into phone-hacking. The Met is concerned that potential suspects would otherwise be tipped off. Scotland Yard also resisted attempts to pass the entire Mulcaire archive to lawyers acting for the claimants, saying it would take thirty weeks to redact the documents, to ensure the names and personal details of other parties were not disclosed, at a potential cost of one hundred and eighty thousand pounds. A fourth person, believed to be the freelance journalist Terenia Taras, was arrested last week in Leeds as part of the Met's ongoing phone-hacking probe Operation Weeting, which began at the start of the year. Taras is the ex-partner of Greg Miskiw, who was an assistant editor at the paper. Ian Edmondson, who later did the same job but was sacked in February, was arrested in April. Two more senior News of the World journalists, James Weatherup and chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, were also arrested in April. All four were later released on police bail. Five test cases will be heard at a trial set for January 2012, which is likely to be used as a basis for determining damages for other claims when News Group admits liability. They include Andrew's case. News International is seeking to settle other claims by setting up a compensation scheme, which it claims will pay more to claimants than they are likely to receive in damages from the courts. Separately, it also agreed last week to pay damages of twenty thousand pounds to the former Sky Sports commentator Andy Gray as well as his legal costs. News International also apologised in court to the actress Sienna Miller last month for what it described as 'a sustained campaign of harassment' which lead to eleven stories being published about her by the News of the World. Miller was paid one hundred thousand smackers in damages and her legal costs.

Meanwhile, in a related development, a thirty four-year-old woman was arrested by the Metropolitan police on Monday afternoon on suspicion of unlawfully intercepting mobile phone voicemail messages, Scotland Yard said. The woman, who works as a journalist for the Press Association news wire service, was arrested at around 3pm by appointment at a central London police station. She is currently being questioned by officers from Operation Weeting. The Press Association confirmed that one of its journalists had been arrested. She is the fifth person to be arrested as part of the current police inquiry.

Stephen Fry has been named the new president of a major UK mental health charity. The writer, comedian and actor, who himself suffers from bipolar disorder, will takeover as the president of MIND from Lord Bragg, who has stepped down after fifteen years in the position. Announcing the news on Twitter, Stephen wrote: 'Exciting news - I'm thrilled to reveal I will become the new president of the wonderful MIND charity.' Fry, who has been a vocal supporter of the organisation for several years, added in a statement: 'I am honoured and delighted to become the new president of MIND. This wonderful charity performs vital work to help anyone, like myself, who experiences a mental health problem. It is a privilege to follow in the footsteps of Lord Melvyn Bragg, and I can only hope to live up to the standard that he has set in his fifteen successful years at the helm.'

Michael Jackson reportedly 'hand-picked' his singing double when he appeared on a classic episode of The Simpsons. Jackson was famously banned from singing in the 1991 episode, titled Stark Raving Dad, due to his contract with Sony. Yeardley Smith, who voices Lisa Simpson, recalled how Kipp Lennon was drafted in for Jackson. Smith told TMZ: '[Michael] was not allowed to sing on the show, so he literally hand-picked a guy to sing like him. How unnerving would it be to sing like Michael Jackson in front of Michael Jackson?' Lennon also provided Jackson's voice in the US miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream. Jackson played Simpsons Leon Kompowsky in the episode, a large white man who acts and sings like Jackson, whom Homer Simpson meets when temporarily placed in a secure hospital. Jackson wrote the song 'Happy Birthday Lisa' specially for the episode. He was credited as John Jay Smith.

And so to a new, semi-regular feature on From The North: The Sensational Wardrobes of BBC Local News presenters. Might be a very semi-regular feature, admittedly. Anyway, Look North's sports reporter, the thoroughly divine Katie Gornall, briefly became something of an Internet sensation this week with her choice of a gold lamé miniskirt for Monday night's bulletin. I mean, there's only one way to describe that. Nice!
Monday's Twitter-storm-in-an-eggcup comes courtesy of Zane Lowe, whom some viewers felt had, like, totally disrespected Beyoncé on the BBC Glastonbury coverage immediately after her Sunday night headlining performance, innit? In his defence, Lowe's outburst of hysterical laughter and admission that he went to watch rockers Queens of the Stone Age when invited to comment on Ms B's glamorous performance could have been prompted by a producer screaming in his earpiece to get to the next VT, following co-presenter Wor Luscious Lovely Lauren Laverne's extended eulogy to the, ahem, Bootylicious one. Lowe later tried to make amends on-air and on Twitter. Instead of just telling to stupid berks to grow the hell up. But the BBC appeared to be taking no chances, swiftly benching him in favour of the always bland-as-a-piece-of-toast Jo Whiley for a post-match interview with the R&B diva, following an awkward farewell exchange with Laverne – complete with excruciating 'small fist bump' thingy. However, a BBC spokeswoman assured the Gruniad - who, of course, asked - that Zane was due to leave then anyway. He said he had transport pre-booked to 'race home to see the boys.' A reference to his children, incidentally, rather than his mates. The final indignity? According to the Daily Scum Mail Online, 'Radio 1 DJ Zane Jone [sic] churlishly refused to comment on her set ... and caused outrage of Twitter.' But then, isn't that rather typical of the Scum Mail? They can't even take part in a wholly manufactured anti-BBC piece without screwing it up in some way or other. because they're crap.

University Challenge host Jeremy Paxman tried to join his college team for the quiz show but was rejected for 'failing to answer questions,' he has revealed. Now he wouldn't let him get away with that if he'd tried it on the show. The Cambridge University graduate told the Radio Times he remembered 'going along with a couple of friends' to a common room quiz to choose a team. 'I did have a go - I didn't get chosen,' said Paxman, sixty one, who has presented the programme for seventeen years. He said rejection did not reflect upon general knowledge or mental ability. 'It is a very particular thing, playing a quiz,' added Paxman, who succeeded Bamber Gascoigne as the host of University Challenge. Former Tory MP, fright, horrorshow, faceache and drag Ann Widdecombe, who interviewed Paxman for the Radio Times, revealed she too had been rejected by her college team. Paxman, who said that he slept during university lectures 'half the time,' added there would come a point when he would have to step down from his role of host because the BBC would say 'let's get rid of this old person.' He said there was no argument that questions on the show had got more difficult, 'because students know a lot more now.'

Paul Nicholls has reportedly been axed from the BBC1 drama Waterloo Road, after behaving 'erratically' on-set. I'll leave it up to you, dear blog reader, to work out what that's supposed to be a euphemism for. I couldn't possibly begin to speculate. The actor, best known for his role as Joe Wicks in EastEnders, was cast as PE teacher Jez Diamond in Waterloo Road last month and had recently begun filming episodes. However, Nicholls was 'let go' just three days into filming, the Mirra reports. The thirty two-year-old's contract was terminated with immediate effect after he was allegedly reprimanded for arriving on set late twice. According to the alleged newspaper, Nicholls was 'badly affected' following the death of his grandfather. 'Paul is a lovely guy but he is in a dark place at the moment,' an alleged 'source' allegedly said. 'We let him go because it wasn't working out, and hopefully some time off now will give Paul the opportunity to sort himself out.' Another 'show insider' - equally as anonymous as the first - commented: 'His behaviour on set was very odd. People felt uncomfortable around him. It was clear Paul was having some personal problems.' Nicholls, who spoke about his drink and drug battle in 2008, will be replaced by former The Bill actor Alex Walkinshaw, who is thought to be reshooting the scenes already filmed this week. A BBC spokesperson added: 'Paul Nicholls has left Waterloo Road. The show producers Shed Productions said the actor's decision was for personal reasons, following a recent family bereavement.'

The BBC has decided to hand back a Royal Television Society award given to a Panorama documentary on the alleged use of child labour by Primark. Broadcast in June 2008, Primark - On The Rack featured a scene supposedly depicting boys in Bangalore making clothing for Primark. Following transmission, the retailer complained that the programme featured various inaccuracies. Following a twenty two-month investigation, the BBC's editorial complaints unit cleared Panorama in April 2010, despite accepting that the programme was 'not subject to sufficient scrutiny by the Panorama team'. However, the BBC Trust - showing the collective backbone of a worm - last week ruled that it was 'more likely than not' that the Bangalore footage used in Primark - On The Rack was not genuine. Whatever the hell that means. It either was, or it wasn't. If you've got proof that it wasn't then a massive deception has taken place and people should be sacked over it. If you don't, then why the hell aren't you backing your journalists against outrageous charges that they are liars, you bloody cowards. The Trust's Editorial Standards Committee has therefore ordered the BBC to make an on-air apology for the programme. As a result of the ruling, the BBC has decided that it can no longer keep the RTS honour won for Primark - On The Rack. Speaking to The Times, a BBC spokesman said: 'The BBC has apologised for including a short section of film which could not be authenticated in Primark - On the Rack. We acknowledge that a serious error was made and therefore it would be inappropriate to keep the RTS award.' Announcing the BBC Trust's ruling, chair of the ESC Alison Hastings said: 'The BBC's investigative journalism is rightly held in very high regard, and for more than fifty years Panorama has made a very significant contribution to that. But great investigative journalism must be based on the highest standards of accuracy, and this programme on Primark failed to meet those standards. While it's important to recognise that the programme did find evidence elsewhere that Primark was contravening its own ethical guidelines, there were still serious failings in the making of the programme. The Trust would like to apologise on behalf of the BBC to Primark and to the audience at home for this rare lapse in quality.' However, programme maker Dan McDougall has hit out at the Trust's findings, which he claims were 'unjust' and 'flawed.'

Simon Cowell's new big-budget prime time ITV game show Red or Black has signed up Domino's Pizza in a sponsorship deal thought to be worth more than one million pounds. Or, £5.99 and a free coke if you have a coupon. The show, which will be fronted by Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, gives contestants the chance to win a million smackers on the spin of a wheel. Like Cowell's other ITV shows, The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, the production will be filmed in an arena – in this case, Wembley Arena. It will also feature a loud, voyeuristic audience, attract huge viewing figures and be ethically questionable and about as entertaining as an afternoon at the genital torturers. 'Media sources' (ie. people who are guessing) put the Domino's deal at one million pounds-plus and for its money it will get a package which includes TV, online and mobile sponsorship as well as 'off-air activation.' Whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. The show will be stripped across a week during in the autumn. Domino's is no stranger to Cowell's programming having sponsored Britain's Got Talent for the last three years; took over this year. Domino's turned to ITV after ending its decade-long sponsorship of The Simpsons on Sky1 in 2008, ending one of the most successful advertiser tie-ups in UK multichannel TV history. 'With its fast-paced, edge of your seat format, we know that viewers are going to be glued to their screens and while they're deciding Red or Black at home,' said Simon Wallis, sales and marketing director at Domino's. 'The home is our point of sale so unmissable TV events such as Red or Black create an ideal time for a product, such as pizza.' He forgot to add 'and, mucho wonga for us, lovely, lovely.' Which was probably understandable, to be fair. The deal was negotiated by ITV Commercial and Arena Media, Domino's media buying agency, with sponsorship idents for the TV show to be made by creative agency Big Communications. 'This collaboration is a great example of how ITV wants to work with its customers in the future,' said Simon Daglish, ITV's new director of multi-platforms and partnerships. With them giving you lots of money and you giving them lots of free air-time? Sounds about right. Last month it emerged that the makers of Red or Black, a co-production between Cowell's Syco and ITV Studios, had unsuccessfully tried to persuade National Lottery operator Camelot to come on board. There have been negotiations to bring on board another gaming partner, although no announcement on a deal has so far been made.

One of the biggest investors in Sky has called on Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to increase its takeover offer by an extra four billion quid. Crispin Odey, founder of Odey Asset Management, told The Sunday Times that the pay-TV giant is worth nineteen billion smackers, meaning that News Corp would have to pay £11.6bn to acquire the sixty one per cent of shares which it does not already own. A price at that level would be considerably higher than the £7.8bn, seven hundred pence-per-share offer submitted by News Corp last June, but turned down by Sky's independent directors. Odey, who holds 2.3 per cent of Sky, declared after the opening bid was submitted that any fair offer for the satellite broadcaster must be more than nine hundred pence-per-share. Alongside Odey, the other major shareholders in Sky include investment firms BlackRock, Capital Research Global Investors, Franklin Templeton and Fidelity, along with insurance company Legal and General. This week, the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt is expected to give the final greenlight for News Corp to progress with its takeover of Sky, subject to a further seven-day consultation. Should the approval go ahead as expected, News Corp would have two months to negotiate a price with Sky's independent directors and agree a deal.

Margaret Tyzack has died at the age of seventy nine. The veteran actress of the stage and screen died peacefully surrounded by family at her home on Saturday according to reports. Tyzack made her name playing Winifred in the 1967 BBC adaptation of Victorian drama The Forsyte Saga and most recently had a short-lived stint in EastEnders as Lydia Simmonds, the grandmother of Albert Square regular Janine Malloy (Charlie Brooks). Tyzack withdrew from the role in April due to her ill health and was replaced by Heather Chasen. The character died on-screen earlier this month. Tyzack's filmography also includes parts in Stanley Kubrick classics 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange, as well as Woody Allen's Match Point and she played the title character's mother in I, Claudius. She also appeared as Clothilde Bradbury-Scott in the BBC adaptation of the Agatha Christie story Nemesis in 1987. She was made an OBE in 1970, and a CBE in the 2010 New Year Honours List for services to drama. Margaret was born in Essex, the daughter of Doris (née Moseley) and Thomas Tyzack. She grew up in West Ham and attended the all-girls' St Angela's Ursuline School Newham and, subsequently, RADA. Tyzack was noted for her classical stage roles, having joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1962. She received an Olivier Award in 1982 for a revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and a Tony award in 1991 for the play Lettice and Lovage, in which she appeared in both the London and Broadway productions opposite Dame Maggie Smith. She is survived by her son, Matthew Stephenson.

Cher Lloyd has denied that she was ever 'dumped' by her former X Factor mentor Cheryl Cole. The former X Factor contestant claimed that it 'isn't a big deal' that she hasn't been in touch with Cole since the end of the show, despite it seeming that the two had become close during filming. 'I didn't really get dumped, did I?' Lloyd told BBC Newsbeat. 'I'm working, so is she. She's busy as well.' Well, not that busy at the moment ... You know, not since she got sacked.

Kerry Katona reportedly avoided eviction from her home after her ex-manager Claire Powell paid her rent for another month, Max Clifford has revealed. You know, Clifford who is supposed to be Katona's 'media advisor' or some equally ludicrous job title. Can Associates had, according to Clifford, been paying for Katona's five thousand smackers-a-month rented home in Surrey, after taking on and helping the thirty-year-old turn her life around following her second divorce. However, after parting company with her management team, Katona claimed that she was going to be left homeless over the weekend. 'Claire has done a very very good job for her management-wise,' Clifford told ITV's This Morning. 'And no, she wasn't made homeless at 5pm yesterday. Conversations have gone on and Claire has agreed that the rent will be paid for another month to give her time to sort out where she's got to go. Obviously her children are all in school down here and are all settled and doing very well down here so hopefully common sense will somehow come in to this, but financially she's in a real mess with the bankrupts and the split-up in her management.' The self-styled 'PR guru' continued: 'The bad news is that her finances are in a real mess.' The worse news is she's got you telling the world about it like a dirty stinking Copper's Nark, Max. Admittedly, it's funny, though.

A man has been found guilty of shoplifting after wearing the jacket he stole to court in Cumbria. The designer waterproof jacket, worth one hundred and twenty five quid, was reportedly taken from a Sports Direct store in the market town of Kendal. Famous for its mint cake, of course. And, not much else. Stephen Kirkbride, forty six, was accused of committing the crime, but wore the same item of clothing in front of the judge. The jacket was then seized when Kendal's Sports Direct manager recognised it. The Craghopper coat consisted of two parts - an inner fleece and the outer waterproof layer. Police had previously found the fleece at a former address of the defendant. Kirkbride claimed that the jacket was purchased from a charity shop, saying: 'It was damaged, but I thought it was a bargain.' His lawyer insisted that the defendant wouldn't have been stupid enough to have worn the jacket to court if it was stolen. But, the prosecutor pointed out that the tears in the clothing most likely came from removing the security tags. The judge subsequently found Kirkbride guilty, describing his story as 'completely implausible.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, we're seemingly stuck in that part of the late seventies where crushed velvet, huge collars, hairy chests and massive dan-dares were, like, de rigueur. And Hai-Karate aftershave. probably. Why? God only knows, dear blog reader. Maybe we should ask Barry Biggs?