Friday, January 13, 2012

Feel Sick & Dirty More Dead Than Alive

Sherlock Star In Gunpoint Kidnap Drama was the arresting headline splash on the front of Thursday's issue of the odious Daily Lies. Gripping stuff it was too too, as Benedict Cumberbatch told of the terrifying moment when he was carjacked in South Africa while filming the mini-series To The Ends Of The Earth. 'The actor, thirty five, and his pals were ambushed when their car blew a tyre in an isolated spot in South Africa, he revealed for the first time last night,' the Lies claimed. For the first time? Not even close or anything remotely like it. What the Lies omits to mention is that Cumberbatch spoke at length about the 2004 incident in an interview for a book launched by the Prince's Trust and Starbucks in July 2009. He also spoke about it in an interview with the Gruniad's Weekend magazine, in 2010. Not only that but, seriously, does anybody still use the word 'pal' in anything other than an ironic sense? You know, as it 'what you lookin' at, pal?' Et cetera.
With an impatient flick of his greatcoat collar, Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock has helped BBC1 re-establish itself as the home of must-watch Sunday night drama. But it has also left the corporation in a quandary: how do you follow Sherlock's eagerly-received literary adaptation? The answer, it seems, is with another literary adaptation, albeit one with a more modern heritage. The BBC's next ninety-minute Sunday-night treat is to be Birdsong, a two-part telling of Sebastian Faulks's novel about love and war. It has taken almost twenty years for Faulks's work to make it to screen. Made by Working Title and with a screenplay by Abi Morgan – currently having what she modestly terms 'a moment' having also written The Iron Lady, Shame and The HourBirdsong was originally intended for the cinema, before taking shape as a BBC1 drama. Morgan, who had been attached to the project for many years, said she found the move to television 'incredibly liberating' because she was given more time to tell the story. 'I suddenly wasn't wrestling whether it was a war film or a love story. I felt I could have both.' But the writer – who admits she has 'kicked herself' over mistakes she has made in other adaptations – said that approaching the adaptation of a novel adored by so many was nerve-wracking. 'It's such an exquisite book, so it's sort of terrifying. But I think what you fundamentally do is you sort of have to come to it completely new,' Morgan said. 'More than anything it's a historical book and with Harry Patch dying, one of the last [first world war] soldiers, and war is ongoing – and I felt an incredible sense of wanting to carry that. That was the story for me.' Rising stars Eddie Redmayne and Clémence Poésy play Stephen Wraysford and Isabelle Azaire in the drama, which splices the couple's love affair with scenes from the trenches, recreated as accurately as possible in a field in Hungary. The result has a bleak beauty and – when the action heads underground into the tunnels beneath no man's land – intense claustrophobia. Director Philip Martin has created a visually stunning, spare drama that grips the viewer despite its measured pace. 'In a sense the book is about the extremes of experience; the intensity of love and the intensity of war and somehow finding a way through those,' he said at BAFTA screening of the programme last week. But modern context had also been important in creating the drama; the 2010 documentary film Restrepo, about the war in Afghanistan, was an influence in making Birdsong. 'It gave us a really interesting take on soldiering in the sense that often World War I soldiers are portrayed as beautiful, doomed youth rather than just soldiers,' Martin said. 'In some ways I think Sebastian's book is the start of a wave of reassessing the first world war – not seeing it in terms of these traditional Oh What a Lovely War-type class struggle, but just to see it as a group of men, a group of soldiers in a situation trying to make sense of the situation and trying to make sense of their lives.' Faulks is credited as an executive producer on the drama, which begins on BBC1 on 22 January. It follows the final of three new Sherlock films, a series that has kicked off the new year with huge ratings.

The ratings, now, because that's usually good for a laugh. The latest episode of Celebrity Big Brother averaged 2.58m from 9pm last night, according to overnight data. The Channel Five reality show suffered a slight dip week-on-week, launching with three and a half million punters seven days ago, but the numbers were good enough to help the channel beat BBC2 in primetime. Celebrity Big Brother's Bit on the Side followed with nine hundred and twenty thousand punters. It was a god night for BBc1 who, once again, hammered all of ITV's efforts into the ground. BBC1's repeat of New Tricks took 5.1m from 9pm, with Earthflight grabbing 4.13m an hour earlier. They also had the most watched show on the night, EastEnders (9.3m watching David and Carol's romance being rekindled). For ITV, Tonight averaged 2.18m from 7.30pm, Coronation Street 8.15m from 8.30pm, Eternal Law had 3.18m in the 9pm hour and The Jonathan Ross Show a miserably poor nine hundred and forty thousand from 10.35pm. Looks like Eternal Law's days might well be numbered. Channel Four showed Location, Location, Location from 8pm, which appealed to 1.65m with a further three hundred and ninety thousand on +1. Restoration Man had 2.05m from 9pm and the documentary with the most overblown title for any TV show so far in 2012, My Daughter the Teenage Nudist was seen by 1.66m from 10pm. BBC2 had a line-up which included Hairy Bikers' Best of British (2.1m) and The Great Sport Relief Bake Off (2.31m).

The BBC has unveiled a new-look Formula 1 presenting team for the 2012 season following the series of defections to Sky Sports. The former Jordan technical director Gary Anderson joins as a technical analyst, Ben Edwards arrives as a commentator, having previously worked for Eurosport, James Allen will become the lead commentator for Radio 5Live, and Jennie Gow is the pitlane reporter. Jake Humphrey remains in place as the anchor, along with the chief analyst Eddie Jordan and co-commentator David Coulthard. The changes were forced after several of last season's line-up were poached by Sky to front its coverage, including Martin Brundle and David Croft. The BBC's head of Formula 1, Ben Gallop, said: 'We're delighted to welcome Ben, James, Gary and Jennie to the BBC presentation team. They bring with them a wealth of experience and knowledge, and huge passion for the sport which will help bring the season to life for our audiences on TV, radio and online.'
ITV 'bosses' have reportedly become 'infuriated' over the string of Take Me Out scandals that emerged this week. Ooo, pure-dead vexed, so they were. Cross, to the point of being irked. Getting their mad right up. Really very, very annoyed indeed. You know, just like the Gruniad scrambling to find fault in Jeremy Clarkson, it's simply one of those things that has to be done. Take Me Out (a thoroughly desperate and tawdry exercise in a lack of any form of dignity or taste at the best of times) came 'under fire' - from some tabloids if not from anybody who actually matters - after the revelation that contestant Aaron Withers was convicted of assault last year and used to work as an escort, which was followed by his date Wen-Jing Mo's admission that she was once a two hundred smackers per-hour prostitute. 'Senior figures' at ITV are now said to have blamed the controversy on Take Me Out production company Talkback Thames, accusing them of failing to uncover the pair's 'extremely embarrassing' pasts during background checks. 'These revelations are being taken extremely seriously. It is infuriating to be learning about a different scandal every day,' an insider told the Mirra. 'Letting these types of people on to what is supposed to be an early evening family show is totally unacceptable.' Oooo, check out the wholly loaded phrasing there, dear blog reader. These type of people. Ow. 'Things need to change - and fast. The ITV brand is being dragged through the mud. The experienced people who are making these shows have been left in no doubt as to the level of disappointment and dismay here. They accept there are ways in which these scandals can be prevented. This whole incident has been extremely embarrassing.' Blimey, he sounds cross. A representative for Talkback Thames confirmed that the company 'will be reviewing procedures' in light of the scandal. Although whether it will be reviewing why the hell they produced a piece of embarrassing garbage like Take Me Out in the first place, they didn't say. The spokesperson added: 'During the application process we ask contestants to declare any convictions and background checks are carried out on each individual. Aaron's criminal record did not come to light.'

Meanwhile, yer actual hugely unfunny Paddy McGuinness his very self is set to host a new ITV Saturday night comedy panel show later this year with the working title of Mad Mad World. Mad Mad World will feature 'celebrities' (and I used that word very circumspectly) and 'comedians such as Rufus Hound' teaming up to answer funny new stories from around the world. So that's Pro-Celebrity Mock The Week's News For You, basically. Risible.

It has also been reported this week that the ITV network is planning to refresh its on-air brands, the first time a major revamp has taken place since 2006 when the current ITV logo was introduced. Broadcast magazine reports that after six years changes to the look and feel of all the ITV channels is on the cards after a review of the presentation by ITV Creative boss Rufus Radcliffe. Didn't he used to be the driver of the Arkansas Chug-a-bug in The Wacky Races? Anyway, Radcliffe who switched to ITV from Channel Four last year, has - according to any anonymous 'media source' - given approval for changes to ITV, ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 in both ident theme and style as well as possibly a new logo. CITV, the children's output, was the most recent of the family of channels to undergo a revamp with a new logo introduced in 2009. 'Sources' (not, plural, but still anonymous) are believed to have said there is a feeling within the ITV company that the marketing and branding of the broadcaster had fallen behinds some of its closest rivals in recent years. 'Insiders' (still anonymous) have suggested 'everything is up for discussion', however it is unlikely that the channel names itself would be changed.

Odious Dan Wootten, the former Rebekah Brooks-licking Scum of the World showbiz reporter now safely ensconced at the Daily Scum Mail is reporting the least surprising bit of speculation so far in 2012 - that The Royal Bodyguard is not long for this world: 'I'm told "corporation chiefs" have privately decided to axe the David Jason disaster The Royal Bodyguard after just one series, even though only three episodes have so far been broadcast. Ratings on the half-hour show - the much-loved Jason's first comedy series since Only Fools And Horses - have slumped to just under three million viewers, down from seven million on its Boxing Day debut. A spokeswoman for the programme said: "No decision has been made yet and no discussions will take place until after the series has finished."' Now, I don't believe for a single second that 'corporation chiefs' would ever be caught dead talking to the likes of odious Dan Wootten but the knives appear to be well and truly out for The Royal Bodyguard - and, to be fair, that's not at all unreasonable. It is pretty rubbish. The Mirra's Jim Shelley fr'instance, has used the sitcom's floppage as a framework for an article on the Top Twenty TV Flops of recent years. And, it's hard not to love a bloke that starts off with Daybreak at number one. ('In hindsight spending six million pounds on Adrian Chiles really looks like madness. After all, the Six Million Dollar Man used to jump off trains and wrestle sharks.) Red or Black? should've been much higher, though!

A court in Turkey has brought charges against the Duchess of York for illegally filming orphans in the country for a television documentary. The Duchess and her daughter, Princess Eugenie, visited the orphanage near Ankara while making a film for the ITV Tonight programme in 2008. The court accused her of 'going against the law in acquiring footage and violating privacy' of five children. She faces a maximum term of more than twenty two years in some cockroach infested hellhole of a jail, if convicted. And, admittedly, the thought of Fergie in a Midnight Express-style prison drama is rather attractive. I wonder if ITV would like to film that. It'd certainly be a hell of a lot more interesting that anything the Grand Old Duchess of York (she had ten thousand quid) had ever made for them in the past. Fergie - My Turkish Prison Hell!, it has potential, I'm telling you, dear blog reader. The Duchess reportedly 'wore a disguise' to enter the institution and filmed scenes of children tied to their beds and left in cots all day. At the time, the Turkish government accused her of being involved in a 'smudge campaign' when Turkey was trying to get membership of the European Union. But the Duchess, who also filmed orphanages in Romania for the programme, said she was 'apolitical' and had gone purely as a mother, and she was 'happy with courage to stand by the film.' It is unclear why it has taken over three years for the charges to be laid, and no trial date has yet been set. Go on, Turkey, bang her up for a long stretch of ... I dunno, what's the Turkish equivalent on porridge? Kaymak, probably. Now that'd be a Turkish Delight.
Soft-core pornographer Richard Desmond has tried to play down 'mistakes' made by his newspapers over their infamously defamatory and disgraceful coverage of missing Madeleine McCann and her family at the Leveson inquiry. At one stage during his appearance at the inquiry on Thursday afternoon Desmond got out his pen and tried to calculate that the majority of news stories written by the four Scum Express Newspapers titles about McCann's parents were not in fact defamatory – and then claimed that the McCann's were 'slow' to complain. The proprietor – the first owner to give evidence – apologised to Kate and Gerry McCann several times, but qualified his remarks as he did so. 'I apologise again to the McCanns. But there are views about the McCanns and what happened,' Desmond claimed, indicating that the public held 'a wide range of opinions' about what happened to Madeline in Portugal. He added: 'Every paper was doing the same thing, which is why every paper or most papers paid money to the McCanns. Only we were scapegoated by the ex-chairman of the PCC.' He was challenged by Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, who reminded him that his newspapers had settled libel claims in respect of 'thirty eight articles' over a four-month period that he described as 'most egregious.' Desmond responded by trying to calculate how many articles the Daily Scum Express would have published over that period – doing sums on his notepad to conclude that there would have been one hundred and two, or one a day over seventeen weeks. Desmond continued: 'I don't wish to justify it, and I'm not trying to win points here, but if there were one hundred and two articles on the McCanns, and thirty eight bad ones. You could argue there were sixty five or seventy good ones.' Later he repeated the point, adding: 'On your figure, we ran one hundred and two articles for four months, nothing happened until a new firm of lawyers – who were on contingency [no win, no fee] – then came in to sue us.' In March 2008, Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell paid out five hundred and fifty thousand smackers to settle defamation claims in respect of more than one hundred different articles that appeared in his Express and Star titles, publishing an unprecedented front-page apology in all of his newspapers. At the time the published statement acknowledged that there was 'no evidence whatsoever' to support the theory that 'the couple caused the death of their missing daughter Madeleine and then covered it up.' The media mogul also, odiously, attempted to compare the Madeleine McCann story to the death of Princess Diana, arguing that the articles were merely 'reflecting a strand of public opinion' at the time, and that to some degree 'every newspaper' was reporting 'on similar lines.' As Desmond began, he was angrily interrupted by Jay, who said 'there is no comparison between these two cases. In the case of Princess Diana we have a dead body' – to which the newspaper owner responded by saying 'there has been speculation that Diana was killed by the royal family,' adding his titles did 'everything reasonable' to get the facts. Jay accused Desmond of 'a grotesque mischaracterisation' of his newspapers' conduct. 'Your paper was accusing the McCanns on occasion of killing their daughter – are you seriously saying they were quite happy than entirely anguished by your papers' bad behaviour?' he asked. Clarence Mitchell, a spokesman for the McCanns, said that they would not be commenting personally, but added: 'Mr Desmond's memory is apparently doing him a great disservice. For him to suggest that Kate and Gerry were happy with the Express Newspapers coverage, he must be living in a parallel universe.' Mitchell added that Desmond's portrayal of the McCanns' reaction to his papers' coverage of their daughter's disappearance was 'grotesque in the extreme.' He said that the coverage, some of which was just 'lies', had added to the suffering they endured. He also said Desmond was wrong to claim that the McCanns only took legal action after changing their legal team. Mitchell said they did not take legal action against Desmond's newspapers earlier 'because they had more important things to do, like looking for their daughter.' Mitchell said they also did not want to fall out with the media and only took legal action as a last resort. 'The scale of the coverage in Express Newspapers' titles was so great that they felt something had to be done,' he added. The media mogul – who owns the Daily Scum Express, the Sunday Scum Express, the Daily Lies, the Daily Lies Sunday and Channel Five – also offered the unlikely argument that the Press Complaints Commission should be replaced by an 'RCD committee,' a reference to his own initials. Desmond took swipes at his rivals, describing the Daily Scum Mail as the 'Daily Malicious' and its editor, Paul Dacre, as 'the fat butcher,' and called the newspaper 'Britain's worst enemy.' Well, as previously noted, even a broken clock's right twice a day. Desmond began his evidence by referring to the Scum Mail as the 'Daily Malicious,' and when asked for his thoughts on newspaper ethics he replied: 'Ethical? I don't quite know what that word means, perhaps you would explain what the word means.' Toward the end of the hearing he told Lord Justice Leveson: 'I think this inquiry is probably the worst thing that's happened to newspapers in my lifetime.' Desmond argued that during a time when people were watching every penny they spent, if they believed that newspapers were 'dishonest, hacking lowlifes' then they were unlikely to buy a paper. In the last few months 'sales of newspapers have never been so bad,' he claimed. He said the phone-hacking scandal 'should have been nailed on the head years ago,' adding: 'Hacking is illegal: Why are these people walking the streets?' Asked about his relationship with politicians, he described his first meeting with Tony Blair after buying newspapers in 2000, in which the two talked about 'music and drums' before the then prime minister finally asked him which political party he supported. Desmond denied having any editorial involvement in his papers, which he illustrated by telling the story of the Express switching its allegiance to the Tories under Peter Hill's editorship. Desmond felt he had 'betrayed Tony as a mate,' but while he felt bad on a 'personal level' he did not attempt to make Hill change the paper's stance. 'We don't really work like that,' he told the inquiry. Desmond went on to describe circulation figures as 'meaningless' because they were 'pretty static' and there was 'nothing really exciting to see.' Desmond's often faux-jokey and, at times, artless testimony lasted for an hour, following a day in which the editors of the Daily Scum Express and the Daily Lies also gave evidence, both of whom sought to explain what 'went wrong' with their newspaper's coverage of the McCann affair and why the publisher walked out of the PCC as a result.

Paul Dacre, the Associated Newspapers editor-in-chief, had a hand in the drafting of the Daily Scum Mail publisher's statement accusing Hugh Grant of 'mendacious smears,' the Leveson inquiry has heard. Dacre was one of a number of Associated executives involved in drafting the defiant statement, issued in November following Grant's claim that the Scum Mail on Sunday could have hacked his phone, which accused him of 'mendacious smears driven by his hatred of the media.' 'The draft was contributed to by a number of people, including the editor-in-chief [Paul Dacre],' Liz Hartley, Associated's manager of editorial legal services, told Lord Justice Leveson on Wednesday. In a tense exchange on the subject lasting more than an hour, Hartley said that in her view the group would 'stand by' its 'mendacious smears' allegation. She added that the group denied his allegation, made on the opening day of the inquiry on 21 November, that the Scum Mail on Sunday 'could have' hacked his phone. She added that Associated also denied Grant's claim that the Daily Scum Mail 'could have' obtained information about the birth of his child through an unethical leak from the hospital. However, Leveson said that he was 'concerned' that the response of Associated Newspapers was to say Grant had lied under oath. 'Mendacious smear, some would say was going miles too far,' he said. 'You respond by accusing him of perjury. Mendacious smear means "deliberately false,"' Leveson added. 'The question is whether all this permits a deliberate dishonesty, which is equally a very serious allegation to make about anybody giving evidence under oath.' Associated conducted an eight-week internal inquiry into Grant's allegations, submitting its conclusions to the Leveson inquiry on Wednesday. In its statement, Associated denied his allegation that the Daily Scum Mail had found out he had become a father from a member of staff at the Portland Clinic, revealing that it had obtained this information from the Westminster Register Office. Hartley also said that the Scum Mail on Sunday diary and royal editor Katie Nicholl and a freelance journalist 'emphatically denied' they had got the story regarding a 'plummy-voiced female film executive' and Grant via phone hacking. In November during his appearance before Leveson, Grant referred to the report, in the Scum Mail on Sunday in February 2007, which said his relationship with his then girlfriend, Jemima Khan, was 'on the rocks' because of 'persistent late-night phone calls with a plummy-voiced executive from Warner Brothers' – a story he said was 'completely untrue.' Grant told the inquiry: 'I cannot for the life of me think of any conceivable source for this story in the Mail on Sunday except those voice messages on my mobile telephone.' He added: 'I would love to hear what the [Mail on Sunday's] explanation of that is, if it wasn't phone-hacking.' On the day Grant gave his evidence the Scum Mail on Sunday issued a statement saying it 'utterly refutes' the claim, adding that the information came from 'a freelance journalist' who was 'regularly speaking to Jemima Khan.' Khan herself responded on Twitter saying that the Scum Mail on Sunday's account was 'not true' and that the source 'close to me must be psychic' because she 'knew nothing about [the story] till it was in the paper.' Hartley told the inquiry on Wednesday that Grant should not have made such serious allegations without being in possession of the full facts. 'If you are going to make a serious allegation and you are leading a campaign against the media which Mr Grant is doing, you would and should take care over what you say,' she added. 'To make a number of serious allegations against us on something as thin as this was not something that should have been done.' The inquiry's counsel, Robert Jay QC, repeatedly asked her whether it was not 'reasonable' for Grant to have drawn the conclusions that there was a leak at the hospital or that someone might have been listening to his voicemail messages. She said that she could see the logic of this, but that the allegations were so serious they should not have been made. David Sherborne, the counsel representing alleged victims of press intrusion at the inquiry including Grant, asked Leveson whether he would be calling the individual journalists – Nicholl and the freelance – who had supplied the plummy voiced story to testify. Leveson said he would consider this. Sherborne suggested that it would be for Dacre to explain why Associated was sticking by its 'mendacious smears' comment when he appears before the inquiry on 6 February.

Meanwhile, the Scum Mail on Sunday continued to use a private investigator after he was charged with illegally obtaining private information including criminal and medical records, the paper's editor has admitted at the Leveson inquiry. Lord Justice Leveson heard that the Scum Mail on Sunday spent twenty thousand quid on the private detective's services over a number of years and did not stop using him entirely until eighteen months after he was arrested, and seven months after he was charged, in relation to the illegal trading of private information. Steve Whittamore was arrested in March 2003 in relation to trading illegally obtained information with the press including mobile phone numbers, car registration plates and criminal records, following the information commissioner's Operation Motorman investigation. When it became apparent that Whittamore was going to be prosecuted the paper issued 'instructions that enormous care should be taken when commissioning Whittamore.' Those instructions were issued in February 2004, the same month that Whittamore was charged, the paper's editor, Peter Wright, told the Leveson inquiry on Wednesday. Asked by Robert Jay whether this posed a risk to the paper, Wright replied: 'Our action dated from the point at which we became aware that Whittamore was going to be prosecuted. It was around the turn of the year 2003-04 and in February of that year we took steps to stop using Whittamore, or at least only use him when we were extremely sure that what he was doing was legitimate and there was a good reason to do it.' He told Leveson that the paper did not stop using Whittamore altogether until September 2004, although there were two unaccounted for payments to him after that. The Scum Mail on Sunday banned all external search agencies in 2007. However, Wright told the inquiry that he did not know until August 2011, when the paper was given access to the information commissioner's Operation Motorman files, that Whittamore had been obtaining information he was supplying to the Scum Mail on Sunday illegally and that 'nobody had suggested' that he was doing anything other than legitimate research for the paper. He was used up to 2004 because he had databases of publicly available information such as electoral registers and was so efficient at tracing people's telephone numbers and addresses, at a time when reporters had laptops but no Internet access. 'I don't think it occurred to anybody that he might be doing illegal things,' said Wright. In early 2004 suspicions were raised because of the information commissioner's Operation Motorman investigation and a resulting police inquiry. Wright said that he became aware that there may have been an issue relating to a story published in the paper about union leader Bob Crow getting a lift to work during a strike on the back of a scooter. The story, headlined Well, how else would Bob Crow, scourge of commuters, get to work?, was published on 2 February 2003 and was partly based on confidential DVLA information supplied by Whittamore that identified the owner of the scooter. Wright told inquiry that in early 2004, after concerns were raised about the Crow story, he checked invoices of payments to Whittamore, which were 'very vague' about what exactly the private investigator had been doing for the paper. 'I was uncomfortable that it appeared he might be using methods of which we would not approve, without the knowledge of those who were commissioning him,' Wright said. He added that from the extent of the payments to Whittamore it also seemed clear that he was being asked to do legitimate information searches 'that should have been done by reporters themselves.' Wright told the inquiry that Whittamore's notes had logged 'that the name of the owner of the scooter had been supplied to us by Whittamore' but he was not aware 'who on the newspaper if anyone asked him for this. It's a reasonable assumption that they did, but we don't know.' When police raided Whittamore's offices they discovered he had about seventeen thousand requests for information from journalists including for mobile phone numbers, car registration plates and criminal records. The logs formed the basis of the information commissioner's 2006 report, What Price Privacy?, which ranked the Scum Mail on Sunday as Whittamore's fourth most frequent customer with 'two hundred and sixty six positively identified transactions' with the private detective. Whittamore pleaded guilty in 2005 to illegally accessing data and trading information with the media. Wright said that he was unaware of the paper's use of Whittamore, whose invoices were categorised alongside regular journalistic expenses such as taxis and accommodation, until Operation Motorman was brought to his attention. He denied this was any attempt to 'cover up the use of these people.'

And still the bad news continues for the Scum Mail. Men Behaving Badly actor Neil Morrissey has received a - satisfyingly grovelling - apology and 'substantial' damages from the Daily Scum Mail over an odious and libellous article which falsely claimed that the actor had been banned from a French bar for 'rowdy, drunken' behaviour. Morrissey sued the Daily Scum Mail publisher Associated Newspapers for libel over the article – headlined Homme behaving badly: TV star banned from bar near his idyllic French retreat after locals object to 'le binge drinking' – published in March 2010. The Daily Scum Mail subsequently apologised to Morrissey on page two in its new corrections and clarifications column and on its website last October. However, the actor was not satisfied with the apology and applied for permission to make a statement in open court. In the statement read out at the high court in London on Thursday, Morrissey said he now felt 'fully vindicated' over the claims. 'The Mail alleged that [a] poster had gone up and Mr Morrissey had been banned because his behaviour had made him unwelcome to the proprietors and staff as a bad influence who encouraged the antisocial and offensive binge drinking for which English settlers had become notorious and were resented by local French people,' Peter Crawford, solicitor for Morrissey, told the judge Richard Parks QC. 'Those assertions were not true. Most significantly, Mr Morrissey had not been banned from the bar. Nor had he been drunken or rowdy in the bar.' Crawford refused to reveal the exact amount of damages but confirmed it was a five-figure sum. The actor, who is currently playing Fagin in Oliver! at Cardiff, was not in court but was said to be 'happy' with the outcome. Morrissey complained about the article immediately after it was published on 19 March 2010. The actor was further aggrieved in October last year when the Scum Mail published a rather mealy-mouthed and matter-of-fact 'correction' on page two, which Morrissey complained was 'not given sufficient prominence' compared with the original - page one - story. A separate press statement issued by Morrissey on Thursday claimed that solicitors for the Daily Scum Mail had 'indicated that the apology would be published on the top half of a right-hand page with a suitable heading to draw readers' attention to it. Mr Morrissey made this statement in court today to bring the Mail's unreserved withdrawal of these allegations and its apology for publishing them to the attention of those who did not see the Mail's published apology,' Crawford said. Morrissey's press advisers and lawyers had warned the newspaper that the story was false and defamatory before it was published, according to the statement. The Daily Scum Mail acknowledged that the story was false and defamatory in August last year, and agreed to pay Morrissey 'substantial' damages in November.

Matt Nixson, the former features executive of the Sun and the Scum of the World, has been accused of bribing a prison guard for information about the Soham killer Ian Huntley. It is claimed that Nixson sanctioned a seven hundred and fifty pound payment to a prison guard while working for the Scum of the World in March 2009, according to court documents filed by his former employer on Thursday. Nixson is currently suing his former employer for wrongful dismissal and breach of contract and the claims were made by News Group Newspapers as part of their defence. Nixson, who joined the Sun in April 2010 after five years at the Scum of the World, has consistently denied any wrongdoing. News Group Newspapers, publisher of the Sun and the Scum of the World, claimed in the court filings that it had 'unearthed' e-mails to show that Nixson told a reporter to handle the payment 'very carefully' because the company had a 'forensic new accountant who doesn't brook any funny business.' In a follow-up e-mail, Nixson is alleged to have said: 'We'll have to pay seven hundred and fifty pounds then chuck her some more money later.' Nixson was sacked by the Sun in July last year after parent company News Corp said it had discovered e-mails which implicated him in 'wrongdoing.' In a statement, a solicitor for Nixson said he 'neither bribed nor ever admitted to bribing a prison officer.' News Corp's management and standards committee investigating phone-hacking recommended that Nixson be immediately dismissed after it claimed it had uncovered evidence of the alleged wrongdoing. The court filing included an e-mail exchange which, it claimed, was between Nixson and another Scum of the World reporter, Matthew Acton, in which Nixson was allegedly said: 'That Huntley prison officer is down for a grand on that tale. Had to give her a contract but reckon she'll get other stuff.' According to the filing, Nixson replied: 'Thought it was practically a freebie. We'll have to pay seven hundred and fifty pounds then chuck her some more money later.' News Corp said it should be inferred that Nixson 'was aware of, and had given his approval for, journalists on the News of the World to engage in unlawful interception of voicemail messages and/or blagging.' News Corp claimed Nixson was told in a separate e-mail in November 2005: 'I'll get [redacted] to do his thing on [redacted's] phone.' A solicitor for Nixson said in a statement late on Thursday: 'Contrary to reports based on defences raised by the defendants for the first time some six months after summarily dismissing him, my client wishes to make it absolutely clear that he neither bribed nor ever admitted to bribing a prison officer. My client will continue to vigorously pursue his well-founded claims against NGN Ltd, Lord Grabiner QC [chairman of News Corp's management and standards committee] and others, up to trial if necessary and is confident of success.'

Virgin Media has signed Usain Bolt, the world's fastest man and Olympic gold medal-winning Jamaican sprinter, to front a multimillion-pound campaign to promote its superfast broadband service. The advertising campaign, directed by Seth Gordon who most recently made Hollywood comedy Horrible Bosses starring Jason Bateman, launches nationwide on Saturday. Virgin Media, which came close to signing the sprinter back in 2008 after his record-shattering appearance at the Beijing Olympics, is starting a nationwide campaign featuring Bolt and Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson.
The campaign, which launches on Saturday night with an advert during ITV's dating show Take Me Out, will promote Virgin Media's new one hundred and ten million smackers move to double the broadband speed for its 4.1m Internet customers over the next eighteen months. The TV advertisement, to be supported by adverts in other media including national press and billboards, shows Bolt in a tongue-in-cheek attempt to impersonate Branson by taking over his office and donning his trademark blond goatee. The advertising campaign, which has been created by agency DDB London, introduces the strapline Keep Up that Virgin Media will use in future marketing activity. 'It is a brilliantly simple idea but the trick was to avoid the obvious sportsman endorsement cliches,' said Jeff Dodds, executive director of brand and marketing communications at Virgin Media.

A Brazilian politician has proposed legislation to force brides to wear knickers under their wedding dresses. Ozias Zizi claims that women are increasingly turning up to the altar without any underwear in his home town of Vila Velha. Some superstitious brides choose not to wear knickers because they believe their marriage will last longer as a result. 'There are a lot of women who believe that if they get married without wearing knickers this helps secure their nuptials for longer,' he told the Daily Torygraph. 'The person, in fact, can get married in whichever way they like, but the moment they enter a place of worship they must show some respect. And without knickers just won't do.' Councillor Zizi hopes that the law will save clergymen from embarrassment. However, a nearby pastor, who conducts weddings in the town, branded the bill 'ridiculous.' Enoch de Castro stated: 'It would be an absurd thing to try to have to police something like this, to find out whether a bride is wearing knickers or not.'

The Velvet Underground have launched legal action over the use of their iconic, Andy Warhol-designed debut LP cover. The group have accused the Andy Warhol Foundation of trademark infringement, saying it illegally licensed the famous banana logo for use on other products. The Velvet Underground say the banana, which was used on their 1967 debut LP - The Velvet Underground And Nico - is 'synonymous with their image.' Which is hard to argue with. Warhol served as the manager and - allegedly - producer of the band, which was formed by Lou Reed, John Cale, the late Stirling Morrison and Mo Tucker in 1965. He designed their first LP cover - which incorporated the banana symbol and the phrase 'peel slowly and see.' On early imprints of the LP, the banana skin was a sticker which could be removed to display the flesh underneath. Legal papers filed in Manhattan state that the artwork, which was never officially copyrighted, 'became a symbol, truly an icon, of the Velvet Underground' for some twenty five years. 'The symbol has become so identified with The Velvet Underground that members of the public, particularly those who listen to rock music, immediately recognise the banana design as the symbol of The Velvet Underground,' the papers argued. The band have accused the Warhol foundation of trying to 'deceive the public' into thinking they had given their 'sponsorship or approval' to a number of products that now carry the image - including iPad covers and accessories. The acclaimed LP - which featured German singer Nico as a co-vocalist - contained song like 'I'm Waiting for the Man', 'Run, Run, Run', 'femme Fatale', 'I'll Be Your Mirror', 'Venus in Furs' and 'Heroin'. It was added to the US National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2006. Although they sold in relatively small numbers at the time, The Velvet Underground picked up a dedicated following and have come to be considered one of the cult groups of the 1960s. Various artists, including David Bowie, Mott The Hoople, The Stranglers, REM, The Jesus and Mary Chain and just about every British indie-rock band of the 1980s and 90s admitting they were inspired and influenced by them.

And, on that bombshell there's only one place for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day to end up at. The corner of Lexington Avenue and East 125th Street. Where you goin' with that twenty six dollars in your hand, Lou?

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