Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Limitless Unbroken Light

We start off today's bloggerisationisms with a bit of an exclusive. From The North has learned - from an (anonymous!) 'source', albeit, one who very much does exist. I know because I've been in his house and everything - that early March will see an Ideal comedy night at a venue in Newcastle yet to be decided. The star of the cult BBC3 sitcom, Johnny Vegas, as well as creator Graham Duff, and local legends Seymour Mace and Wor Alfie Joey will be some of those involved. The night will include stand-up slots, a quiz and, possibly, a director's cut commentary of an episode. More details once we have them and yer actual Keith Telly Topping is very much hoping to blag a freebie and, possibly, nab a couple of interviews.

New media laws are not needed to govern the press, Private Eye editor Ian Hislop has told the Leveson inquiry into media ethics. Practices such as phone-hacking, paying police officers and being in contempt of court contravene already existing laws, Hislop told the Inquiry. Hislop, who also, of course, is a popular and long-serving team captain on BBC2's Have I Got News For You, kept Leveson thoroughly entertained with a series of pithy and humorous observations about the conduct of the press throughout his evidence on Tuesday. Easily the most entertaining of all the editors giving evidence, Hislop was the top trend on Twitter for most of the period while he was speaking. He suggested that the inquiry should be examining why existing laws were not rigorously enforced rather than try to come up with new, unnecessary, regulations. Hislop, who has edited Private Eye since 1986, said that forty libel actions had been brought against his magazine since the year 2000, of which twenty six were withdrawn, eleven settled, one resulted in a hung jury and two were won. Hislop told the inquiry: 'Statutory regulation is not required.' He referred to the Scum of the World's hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone after her disappearance in 2002 and the Sun and the Mirra's disgustingly prejudicial reporting of the arrest of Christopher Jefferies on suspicion of the murder of architect Jo Yeates, which was found to be in contempt of court after Mr Jeffries was cleared of any involvement in the crime. 'Most of the heinous crimes that come up and have made such a splash at this inquiry are already illegal,' he said. 'Any inquiry needs to find out why none of these things were enforced.' He criticised close relationships between the press - naming Scum of the World owner News International, in particular - and both the police and politicians. Hislop said that Private Eye's best sources were usually its readers. Broadly, the sources for its sections tend to come from inside the relevant professions on the stories they run, he added: 'A lot of whistleblowers [are] people inside who feel they have a story to report.' He continued that nearly all of the stories in the Street of Shame section – about newspapers – actually come from other journalists, 'it being [such] a loyal profession. It tends to be full of stories about journalists misbehaving,' Hislop said, citing examples of drunkenness and stealing stories from each other. Asked about the subject of sourcing, Hislop said that 'whistleblowing' stories often have just one source because only one person is 'brave enough' to talk to the magazine. 'As editor you trust your journalists,' he said. Journalists should, he added, be trusted to check out stories and not to run stories which are 'pure grudge.' Hislop said that Private Eye has done a lot of work on the phone-hacking scandal but that it 'cannot claim that the story is ours. That story was broken by the Guardian.' Private Eye also covered the Met police's Operation Motorman inquiry into newspapers' use of private investigators because Hislop himself was named as someone whom notorious private investigator Steve Whittamore was paid to spy on, he claimed. He did not say which newspaper had targeted him, although on an episode of Have I Got News For You last year he had claimed it was the Daily Scum Express. ('Did they think you were involved in the death of Princess Diana?' asked guest Clive Anderson, wittily.) Hislop said that he would not 'throw my hands up at blagging' - the process of obtaining information on others by deception - mentioning undercover investigations into whaling, the MPs expenses scandal and the practices of lobbyists which have been exposed by such means. He referred, specifically, to a Channel Four documentary where reporters posed as lobbyists and 'greedy MPs and members of the House of Lords' had lined-up with their tongues hanging out to offer their services for payment. Hislop told the inquiry that he had also been targeted in the past by the notorious Benji the binman, Benjamin Pell. The story concerned a 'very stiff' note which Hislop had written to one of his colleagues, but then decided instead to throw it away. Hislop said: 'We put a camera up and found out Benji was going through our bins. Mr Fayed was looking for things to print about Private Eye at the time.' Asked if he had any evidence of Mohammed al Fayed's involvement, he paused for a moment, before adding: 'I think the fact that it appeared in Punch, which he owned, was a giveaway.' Hislop was asked why Private Eye is not part of the Press Complaints Commission. He said that ethics are 'self-evident', adding: 'contempt of court is illegal; phone tapping is illegal; police taking money is illegal. The fact these laws were not rigorously enforce is due the interaction of the police and News International.' On News International, he said: 'If you're the editor of a Murdoch paper and you see the prime minister is organising a slumber party for the proprietors' wife at Chequers, that gives you unbounded confidence to do whatever you like.' Private Eye has and would continue to 'abide by the spirit' of the PCC's code, Hislop said, adding: 'I hope you'll be calling the PM and Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to explain how that comes down from the top.' Leveson pointed out that not all of the wrongdoing which the inquiry had heard about included criminal offences; some of it was 'tortious', for example civil offences. Hislop then talked about what he feels are draconian privacy and libel laws in France. 'The French situation is terrible,' he said. 'They are now catching up with about two decades of news about what their politicians got up to. Sex can affect how people behave. [so can] finance. In France both are - wrongly - considered private.' Hislop was asked about proprietorial influence. He said that newspapers' agendas are 'pretty clear' simply from reading them, referring in particular to the Daily Scum Mail and Richard Desmond's titles: 'Desmond is the worst example, obviously. The Murdoch press is pretty clear in a lot of its manifestations of what its agenda is going to be, and the paper follows it. Look at the coverage of this inquiry. You read it fairly closely and think "why have they missed out the bits that were critical of us?" Is it because they're in tune with the readers, or the editor is embarrassed, or the proprietor doesn't want to read it?' He said that libel arbitration is a waste of time. 'I would rather end up in the court because I think that's where you end up anyway,' he added. Hislop said that he often does not agree with the settlement proposed by the claimant, so he prefers to go to court. He admitted that it is 'a bit embarrassing' to him that the only other major publisher who isn't in the PCC is Richard Desmond. 'The person who didn't understand what ethics was, was Mr Desmond. You shouldn't use that as a rule of thumb for anyone else.' Hislop also had an issue with the balance of editors on the PCC and 'News International's influence' on the body. Hislop said that he believes in a free press, 'not a regulated press,' and in he law. 'The bigger groups have tended to operate a code of "we don't write about each other,"' he said, adding praise for the Gruniad's coverage of the phone-hacking scandal. 'I believe in a free press and I don't think it should be regulated, but it should abide by the law.' He said that he hoped the inquiry would be asking members of the public why they bought the Scum of the World – 'what they thought they were getting' – and Lord Justice Leveson said that he would take the suggestion under advisement, 'but perhaps not' in the way that Hislop suggested. Hislop said that the Murdoch family are 'deeply embedded in our top class,' a situation which he suggested gave the Scum of the World 'unbounded confidence to do as it liked. If the prime minister appoints the former News of the World editor as his communications director, News International will think "We are top of the pile, nothing can stop us."' Asked about the so-called public interest of stories he argued that the definition should not be so narrow as to be impossible to justify issues in a grey area. Hislop said that, ultimately, it all came down to editors' judgement: 'A reasonable editor would not have thought "I must hack into a murdered girl's phone," or "I must run a story about someone about whom there appears to be no evidence and say he's a murderer"; those things seem, to me, self-evidently unreasonable.' Asked about the issue of prior notification, he said that he was stopped from running a story which was 'self-evidently in the public interest' - about Law Society president Michael Napier - for five months while the application for an injunction went through the courts, at a cost of three hundred and fifty thousand smackers to Private Eye. Leveson said that this was a clear example of a need for a low-cost libel tribunal service. 'The lesson I learned from that was not to give prior notification,' Hislop said, to laughter from the inquiry. Hislop told Leveson about another example of when Private Eye was effectively gagged from publishing a story. Private Eye received a warning letter from lawyers for a director of an NHS IT system who was accused of squandering twelve billion smackers of public money after a journalist for the magazine put a series of questions to him. Hislop said that he 'got around' the legal threat by reading out the letter whilst under privilege before a parliamentary committee. On the subject of former-Daily Mirra editor Piers Morgan's evidence to the inquiry, he noted: 'Piers' memory is quite selective. He is capable of remembering things that didn't happen. Perhaps his diaries weren't written contemporaneously. There are a number of glaring errors.' For example: 'He has tea with the wrong prime mininster.' Asked about his own relationship with politicians, Hislop said that he would 'occasionally' meet politicians at social events (and, of course, on episodes of Have I Got News For You!) 'I'm sure there's an agenda on both sides,' he added. 'I'm hoping to find out information that would be useful to me, they're trying to do the same. It's a trade.' He advocated an 'arm's length' relationship with politicians. 'A certain amount of distance is advisable,' he added. Hislop was asked about why his magazine's content does not appear on its website. He said: 'I cannot see why journalism, which at its best is a noble craft, should be given away.' He said that the magazine's French equivalent, Le Canard Enchaîné, has a website which simply says 'go and buy the paper.' He said that he was heartened by this. At the end of his evidence, Leveson asked Hislop whether he had any thoughts on the inquiry to date. 'After the first two weeks of the inquiry I thought that might be it for the press,' Hislop said, referring to powerful evidence given by celebrities in November. 'The level of distaste for the press was ratcheting up. I was very worried that for X weeks there would be nothing to say why don't you close down the lot of them? They are utterly revolting. I wanted to put in a plea for journalism and the concept of a free press, that it is important; it isn't always pretty and I really hope this inquiry doesn't throw out the baby with the bathwater.' Reacting to Hislop's evidence, the Gruniad's Dan Sabbagh noted: 'Hislop - blunt, quotable, and entertaining evidence. One of the best witnesses - not surprised he is top trending on Twitter UK.' Meanwhile, funny as an itchy rash on the knob, the Scum Mail on Sunday's odious Ian Hyland tweeted: 'Have I Got News For You should book Leveson as a guest. As long as Rita can spare him from the Kabin for a bit longer.' Keep at it for another fifty years, mate, and you might, just, be appraoching funny by then. Hislop expressed a wariness of statutory regulation, noting: 'If the state regulates the press then the press no longer regulates the state. An unfortunate state of affairs.'
A hacked voicemail could have been the source of a scoop revealing Sven-Goran Eriksson's affair with Ulrika Jonsson, the Daily Mirra's editor has said. Richard Wallace told the media ethics inquiry that phone-hacking 'might well have been' taking place when he was showbiz editor of the tabloid under the odious and oily twat Piers Morgan. Wallace told the Leveson Inquiry that he, personally, had no knowledge of hacking but said that it might have been 'hidden' from him. Publisher Trinity Mirra has insisted that its journalists work within the law. Which, of course, was exactly what News International spent several years claiming until the weight of evidence forced them to change their story. The vile and odious Morgan had previously claimed to the inquiry that he was 'not aware' of phone-hacking taking place when he was in charge. The inquiry, chaired by Lord Justice Leveson at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, is currently looking at the culture, practices and ethics of the press in general - or, you know, lack of all three. Wallace claimed that he 'could not recall' the source of the story about the former England football manager Eriksson but said that he had taken the 'tip' - received within the showbiz department - straight to his predecessor as editor. Morgan had, as the time, claimed it came from Jonsson's agent. Asked if it was possible that it could have been obtained through phone-hacking, Wallace replied: 'It's possible, yes.' Earlier, he was asked about the evidence of a former financial reporter who spent time in jail for writing about firms whose shares he owned. James Hipwell had suggested phone-hacking was a 'bog-standard journalistic tool' of the showbiz team when he was at the paper between 1998 and 2000. Wallace, showbiz editor for part of that period, claimed that he had 'no knowledge' of this but - asked whether it could have been hidden from him - accepted: 'It might well have been.' About current standards at the Daily Mirra, Wallace said: 'Ethical issues are embedded within the culture of our newsroom.' However, he admitted to 'unintentionally' breaking the Press Complaints Commission's editors' code 'on occasion.' Wallace was asked about an occasion when the Mirra ran a story based on an incorrect news agency court report alleging that a TV star had been charged with 'unspeakable child porn offences.' He said: 'The reporter made a mistake and no amount of tightening up of rules and regulation can stop human error.' Wallace also used the hearing to apologise for the Mirra's odious and disgraceful reporting of the arrest of a man on suspicion of the murder of architect Jo Yeates. Christopher Jefferies, Miss Yeates' former landlord, previously told the inquiry that the national press 'shamelessly vilified' him. 'We obviously caused him and his nearest and dearest great distress which I regret, personally, greatly and I regard it as a black mark on my editing record,' Wallace said. He claimed that 'off-the-record briefings' from Avon & Somerset police formed part of the background to the Mirra's coverage. Leveson appeared concerned that such information – including false briefings from some police officers who indicated that Jefferies 'was the right man' – was given so much weight by the newspaper. 'I'm bothered about that currency of information that might encourage you to go further than propriety might suggest,' Leveson said. Wallace admitted that the police briefings had 'coloured' his judgement. 'To be honest with you, parking the contempt to one side, it would have greatly coloured my judgement on how we treated that story,' he said. Later, Sunday Mirra editor Tina Weaver was asked about allegations of phone-hacking at her paper made by the BBC's Newsnight programme. 'I don't believe it to be true,' she said. 'I think they know we're unhappy about unsubstantiated non-specific anonymous allegations from seven years ago presented as unearthing evidence.' Trinity Mirra chief executive Sly Bailey said it had not investigated whether there was hacking at the group's titles following phone-hacking convictions at News International. 'It is not the way to run a healthy company to conduct investigations when there is no evidence to say our journalists have hacked phones,' she said. The BBC Newsnight report was a 'terrible piece of "journalism,"' she claimed, which coming from somebody at the Mirra really is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. She added that the programme had 'no evidence' for its claims. Meanwhile, the inquiry was also read a letter by lawyers acting on behalf of former prime minister Gordon Brown. He claimed that evidence by former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie, who claimed that Brown threatened to 'destroy' News International during a phone call to Rupert Murdoch after the tabloid switched its political allegiance, was 'untrue.' Prime Minister David Cameron set up the inquiry last July in response to revelations that the Scum of the World commissioned a private detective to hack murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone after she disappeared in 2002. It is due to report on media ethics and cultures by September. The inquiry's second stage will examine the extent of unlawful activities by journalists, once detectives have completed their investigation into alleged phone-hacking and corrupt payments to police, and any prosecutions have been concluded.

Sherlock's co-creator Steven Moffat has insisted that he has 'no plans' to end the show. Moffat and Mark Gatiss both confirmed on Sunday night that the BBC detective drama will return for a third run. 'We love doing this, this is brilliant fun so [we'll keep going] as long as we can keep Benedict and Martin coming back,' he told the CultBox website. The writer added that he is keen to eventually explore the later lives of Sherlock and John. 'I fondly imagine it'd be nice to stop it for a while and come back and see what they're like in their forties or fifties,' he suggested. 'Because normally these two characters are portrayed in their fifties. So we're actually at the beginning. It might be interesting in a couple of decades when they come back and [we] see what they're like.' Moffat previously told the Digital Spy website that future episodes of Sherlock might see John married and living apart from his partner Holmes as he is in the later Conan Doyle stories. 'He and Holmes don't always live together and I think that's become a lazy way of doing Sherlock Holmes - they always live together,' he explained. 'They didn't actually and why would they? Nobody flat-shares forever, so there's loads of details we can get in there.'

Series two of Sherlock ended on Sunday with an overnight series average of 8.3 million, up a stonking 1.13 million from series one in 2010. That year its average audience was only outperformed by two other dramas, Downton Abbey and A Touch Of Frost and one can see perhaps just Downton Abbey beating it this year, even with all of the new and returning dramas to come. Also worth noting from BARB is that the BBC3 repeat of A Scandal In Belgravia had a final rating of 0.88 million, which added to the main showing gives a total reach for that episode on TV of 11.54 million viewers - likely to be well over twelve million on Live +7 figures once iPlayer is factored in. So, to sum up, one in five of the population of Great Britain is watching Sherlock at the moment. It's a behemoth, to be sure.

Andrew Scott has revealed that he enjoyed his time on Sherlock. Scott's evil alter-ego Jim Moriarty appeared shot himself in the face after destroying the reputation of Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) in Sunday night's series two finale, The Reichenbach Fall. Speaking to RTÉ, Scott seemed to rule out a reprieve for the character: 'I have had an absolute blast. He is an extraordinary character to play. I was delighted to be given the opportunity to do it.' Praising creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, he said: 'It's a really brilliantly written show. We are all so thrilled with how successful it has become.' Of his portrayal of Holmes's infamous nemesis, Scott added: 'It was very important to me that I didn't do a bad version of what someone else has done. I didn't look at a huge amount of previous incarnations of Moriarty or indeed of any villains. I wanted to draw on what was scary within me, and make my character original. Sometimes when you tie things up in a bow, it can seem a little considered to your audience.'

The final word on Sherlock - for a while, anyway - should, perhaps, go to Daily Scum Mail reader Alexander Lionheart, Buckinghamshire, who opined: 'Honestly, what a pile of drivel. My children were watching. Who in their right minds thinks that the amount of blood shown after the detective's fall is acceptable? Typical left-wing "I-love-bodily-fluids" hippies, thinking that everyone shares their depraved opinions. What would Her Royal Higness think, being confronted by a scene like that? She survived TWO WORLD WARS! DO YOU THINK IT IS NECESSARY TO REMIND HER OF THE BLOODSHED? The BBC should be ashamed of this so called "adaptation." An adaptation needs to keep common elements with the original. This worthless waste of space and time shares nothing with the original work's perfectly executed Victorian finesse. Conan Doyle would be spinning in his grave, unless some Godawful television writer decided he hadn't actually died and it was all fake.' Thanks Xander, some top comedy there.
The Curiously Orange Christine Bleakley has revealed that she was almost forced to pull out of Sunday's Twatting About on Ice. You didn't have to hurry back on our accounts. The former ITV breakfast flop Daybreak presenter said that she suffered 'a severe bout of food poisoning' after eating an inedible prawn sandwich. Sadly, she recovered.

Now, for a nice photo of Karen Gillan jumping in the air.
Isn't that lovely?

Above Suspicion, along with some big audiences for Emmerdale and Coronation Street helped ITV to primetime victory and its best night in some time on Monday, overnight audience figures indicate. The 9pm crime drama was watched by 5.69m with a further two hundred thousand punters on +1 to beat BBC1's line-up of The Royal Bodyguard and Mrs Brown's Boys in the same timeslot. 8pm's risible travelogue vehicle Cornwall with Caroline Quentin was watched by 3.85m. The Royal Bodyguard continued to struggle as it had just 2.61m overnight viewers. The David Jason series started with an audience of seven million on Boxing Day but it's been all downhill since then. Mrs Brown's Boys took 4.73m, with The One Griff Rhys Jones getting a very disappointing 2.19m from 8.30pm. Later, A Question of Sport was watched by 2.32m from 10.35pm. It was another good night for BBC2 with a line-up of Baking Made Easy (1.27m), A Question of Taste (1.23m) and University Challenge (2.85m). An average of 3.42m saw Stargazing Live - oh, how those ladies do lurv Professor Cox the mostest, baby! - before 2.37m tuned-in for the additional half-hour Stargazing Live: Back to Earth with yet more Foxy Coxy (and Dara O'Briain). Have I Got News for You had 1.79m from 10pm. On Channel Four, Richard Wilson on Hold was watched by 1.29m from 8pm and Coppers 1.76m (with a further three hundred and thirty thousand on C4+1).

So, as noted one of the BBC's biggest stars in the firmament (and firmament was the term I meant) was considerably outshone by a whole galaxy of them as BBC2's Stargazing Live pulled in a million more viewers than Sir David Jason's risibly dreadful comedy The Royal Bodyguard. The BBC1 show, which has been widely panned by critics, pulled in an overnight audience of 2.6 million in its half-hour slot from 9pm. Stargazing Live, which ran from 8.30pm to 9.30pm with a half-hour follow-up show until 10pm and was presented by Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain, got an audience of 3.8 million. Many viewers have gone online to criticise The Royal Bodyguard. One, writing on the BBC's Points of View messageboard, said: 'There will be a sigh of relief across the country when it comes to an end - whereas the BBC comedy department needs taking into a darkened room and shown some of the classic sitcoms of the not too distant past to see how it's done.' Another added: 'The only fun to be had with this tripe is "guess the ratings drop!"'

Paul Gascoigne has this week won a high court apology from the Sun over a story which wrongly alleged he had groped a shop assistant. According to news agency reports, the ex-England footballer was not in court to hear the verdict of his libel action against News Group Newspapers, the News International-owned publisher of the Sun. The case pertained to a July 2010 story, titled Its Paw Gascoigne, that claimed an assistant in a chemists had said Gascoigne placed a hand on her breast. Gascoigne's counsel Richard Pitkethly told Justice Tugendhat that the Sun had approached the story fairly, by arranging an interview with the woman and then reporting her version of events. However, the assistant later changed her statement on Gascoigne's actions in another article published elsewhere. 'The allegation was published in good faith but it was nevertheless false,' Pitkethly told the judge. 'Mr Gascoigne did not grope the shop assistant as alleged in the article, or at all, and the defendant now accepts this.' The lawyer revealed that Gascoigne had settled the matter privately with News Group Newspapers, and the article had been removed from the Sun's website. Ben Beasby, the solicitor representing NGN, apologised for any distress or embarrassment caused by the article.

Channel Four's hopes that US sitcom New Girl would prove to be a ratings winner in the UK appear to have been dashed, with the second episode losing a third of its audience on Friday 13 January. The second episode of the show, which stars Zooey Deschanel, managed just eight hundred thousand viewers in the 8.30pm slot. The audience rose slightly to one million and a four per cent share when Channel 4+1 viewing is included. This represents a fall of thirty three per cent on the series opener – which managed 1.2 million and 1.4 million with Channel 4+1.

Idris Elba has expressed his excitement over his win at the 2012 Golden Globe Awards. The Luther actor scooped the prize for 'Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series for his work in the series at the ceremony held Sunday night in Los Angeles. 'This is great. We made our little show in London, and now we're getting this worldwide recognition of it. Love it,' Elba told MTV News. Elba, who is currently shooting Guillermo Del Toro's monster-versus-robot film Pacific Rim in Toronto, went on to say that he's having a great time working on such a different project. 'I'm going back tomorrow morning. I've been there for five months. I love it. Guillermo's a genius, and the film we're making is a huge film, bad monster movie and robots and me,' he said.

The American actor Nick Nolte has criticised the emergence of 3D television, saying that it will cause 'psychotic breaks' in people. Blimey. Best not to watch any, then. Speaking on a Television Critics Association panel for the launch of Dustin Hoffman's new television series Luck on HBO, Nolte claimed that 3D TV 'disconnects the eyeball, the lenses from the brain.' Nolte, seen left looking uncannily like Milton Jones, appeared on the panel alongside Hoffman, Luck writer David Milch and Michael Mann, who directed the pilot episode of the show. Luck is due to premiere soon in the UK on Sky Atlantic under Sky's exclusive multi-million pound deal with HBO. The drama will not be broadcast on Sky 3D, the first ever dedicated 3D channel launched in Britain in late 2010, which is a fact that will no doubt please Nolte. The actor believes that long periods spent watching 3D television will cause health problems, according to The Hollywood Reporter. '3D disconnects the eyeball, the lenses from the brain. It's like the brain itself is creating the hallucination of 3D,' he said on the panel. 'They're going to find out six hours of 3D TV will cause psychotic breaks. Australia is doing the research. I can just tell you that.'

Long-serving BBC correspondent David Shukman has been appointed the corporation's first science editor. The new role was created following an independent review of the BBC's science coverage last year. Shukman was one of five people shortlisted for the role, also believed to include Newsnight science editor Susan Watts, BBC environment correspondent Richard Black, BBC medical correspondent Fergus Walsh and producer and presenter Michael Mosley. Shukman, currently the BBC's environment and science correspondent, has held a number of roles since joining the corporation in 1983, including world affairs correspondent, defence correspondent, and Northern Ireland reporter. He was also the reporter involved in a high-profile libel case in 2001 when a story on BBC1's Ten O'Clock News wrongly linked African diamond company Oryx Natural Resources to Osama Bin Laden. It cost the BBC a reported half a million smackers in a libel payout. Shukman said: 'It's a privilege to be given this new role as part of the BBC's drive to enhance its science coverage. The science story has never been so compelling and I'm delighted to be given this opportunity to lead our reporting and analysis of it.' The post was created following an independent review of the BBC's science output which concluded that its drive for impartiality lends too much credence to allegedly 'maverick' views on subjects like the MMR vaccine, climate change and genetically modified crops. Fran Unsworth, the BBC's head of newsgathering, said: 'I'm delighted to appoint David as science editor. His ability to make complex scientific issues accessible will be a great asset in this new role and ensure that our audiences get the most out of the BBC's science coverage.'

A government-commissioned report into the future of the film industry has called on ITV and Sky to invest more money in British films. The fifty six-point report by the Film Policy Review Panel, which included Downton Abbey creator Lord Snooty Julian Fellowes among its panellists, also proposed an annual 'British film week', a new programme to bring film education to every school and a renewed commitment to combat piracy. Its publication on Monday followed comments by David Cameron last week that public funding of film should focus on 'helping UK producers to make commercially successful pictures that rival the quality and impact of the best international productions.' However Lord Smith, who chaired the panel, said the report did not favour mainstream commercial films at the expense of arthouse offerings, saying it advocated 'as wide a range of films as possible, from the overtly commercial to the overtly arty and much in-between.' The prime minister's comments prompted fears of a shift in focus towards trying to produce box office hits at the expense of small-scale, independent productions. Smith said the remarks had been taken out of context. 'Some of the reporting of what he was supposed to be about to say was perhaps unfortunate in giving the sense that he was only interested in a particular kind of movie,' said Smith. 'That was not what he said. He understands just as we do that there is a whole range of movies and types of movie that we are supporting. He is very clear on that.' Smith said the British film industry was going through a 'golden period' but warned against complacency. He said the aim of the report was to help ensure the success of the past twelve months – dominated by Oscar-winning global smash The King's Speech – was sustained 'not just next year, but the next year and the year after that.' Smith denied that the report was prioritising commercially-minded offerings, but a key theme of the report was the need to take the importance of the audience as a starting point. Smith said UK broadcasters should spend more money on British films and singled out ITV and BSkyB for not investing enough. 'There are two broadcasters doing very little to support British film – ITV and Sky – who we believe should be doing more both in terms of investing in British production and in their acquisition policies,' Smith said. 'We have suggested the government sits down with each of the broadcasters to see if an agreement can be reached to ensure greater investment in and acquisition of British films. We have also suggested that if agreement turns out to be impossible it is something the government might turn its attention to in the Communications Act which is proposed for some time in the next year or two. We hope that won't be necessary and broadcasters would want to step up to the plate voluntarily.' Among the report's other key points was a proposal to launch a programme to extend the appeal of the big-screen experience to rural and isolated communities. Under the proposal, communities that do not have a cinema could be provided with projection equipment for film societies and community halls. The report also proposed new funding mechanisms for producers to be able to reinvest money from successful films into further production. The reinvestment proposals, said the report, would 'only make a significant difference to the small number of films that generate substantial recoupment, which are precisely the ones which are more successful and which we need to encourage for the broader benefit of audiences.' There was also a proposal that aimed to get producers and distributors to team up at an early stage in the production process, and for the joint sharing of rewards between producers, writers and directors. 'We want to get a culture of rewarding success,' Smith said. 'If you make a successful movie you have a chance of making another one. We are not trying to dictate an artistic vision. We are trying to set in place a range of financial and legislative arrangements which will enable a broad range of movies to be made. We are not making a distinction in the review between something called mainstream and something called something else.' The government will make a formal response to the report in a few months time, said lack of culture minister Ed Vaizey, who commissioned the report. Vaizey said that the government was 'likely' to accept the vast majority of its recommendations, some of which could be incorporated into the forthcoming communications bill. A spokeswoman for the BFI said: 'Against the backdrop of a record year for British film and film talent, we welcome this report which rightly places audiences at the heart of future UK film policy.'

'Statutory underpinning' may be required to bolster the authority of a revived Press Complaints Commission, the lack of culture secretary has suggested. Appearing before a parliamentary select committee on privacy and injunctions, the vile and odious rascal Hunt went further than before in setting out a regulatory framework for the media which the government could support in future. The two-and-a-half hour session – which also heard evidence from the lack of justice secretary, Ken Clarke, and the attorney general, Dominic Grieve – is part of an inquiry launched in the aftermath of the row over super-injunctions. Some of its scrutiny is now overlapping the Leveson inquiry into press standards. The vile and odious rascal Hunt said it should never be a question of any government directly regulating the press or what it chooses to publish. 'We would like to continue with a light-touch approach but it does have to command the confidence of the public after a very, very bad period,' he said. 'The reason that the prime minister and I have hesitated to say that we want to keep self-regulation is because self-regulation is very often characterised as something which is very similar to the current system and clearly some very significant failings have emerged on that. So what we are looking for is the industry to come up with a structure that will have [widespread] confidence and has proper sanction-making powers,' he explained. 'There's a difference between statutory regulation of content – which no one wants and which parliament would resist – and giving statutory underpinning to a body that is run" by an independent body.' The lack of culture secretary compared it with the role of the disciplinary committee of the General Medical Council. Asked about how newspapers might be encouraged to participate, he endorsed a suggestion made by the editor of the Gruniad Morning Star, Alan Rusbridger, that only those participating would be legally defined as newspapers and therefore entitled to zero rating for VAT. Both the vile and odious rascal Hunt and Clarke said that the problem in upholding responsible media reporting was more a matter of enforcement that a need to draft new laws on privacy. 'When it comes to breaches of privacy online,' the vile ad odious rascal Hunt said, 'very often the issue is not the law which applies equally online and offline' but ensuring existing regulations are observed. On the subject of privacy legislation, Clarke was even more blunt. 'No one has so far made a clear case for a new law,' he told the joint Commons and Lords committee. There could be an argument for minor changes around the edges, he added, where there was no existing public interest defence for investigative journalists to uncover 'monster frauds.' But the provision already exists for prosecution to go ahead only if they are in the public interest. 'There could well be a case where a greater good has been served.' Whether online media should be subject to the same controls as traditional newspapers and broadcasters was a more difficult question. Asked by Lords Dobbs whether he wrote a blog, Ken Clarke declared: 'I am certainly not a blogger. Quite a large proportion of them are nuts and extremists,' which is certainly true of this bloggr, Your Kenship. 'With the honourable exception of the culture secretary,' he added grovellingly. Grieve, said that bloggers and tweeters are subject to the laws of libel and contempt like anybody else and were 'no different from a person who spreads tittle-tattle at a dinner party conversation.' He confirmed that he had considered taking action against bloggers for contempt of court proceedings. 'There have been instances where bloggers have been rung up by the police and told that they should stop doing what they are doing – and they have stopped immediately.' This blogger can assure all dear blog readers that, should Northumbria Constabulary ring up yer actual Keith Telly Topping and tell him to stop saying Daybreak - and all those involved with it - is a flop, he will decline this request. Respectfully, of course. There are some bits of freedom of speech which are worth fighting for and From The North will not be silenced by The Man. Ahem ... Next.

Sales of Charles Dickens books have been bolstered by a slew of TV adaptations, figures have revealed. In the run-up to BBC1's new version of Great Expectations, weekly sales of Dickens' back catalogue rose from around seven thousand to more than sixteen thousand. Nielsen BookScan analyst David Walter said 'extra attention' created by TV adaptations had prompted a sales surge. He added that a new edition of Great Expectations featuring images from the TV drama had also helped to give the novel 'a second life.' The paperback version of Great Expectations featured Douglas Booth, who played Pip, and Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham on the cover. Another Dickens novel which has been turned into a TV drama is also enjoying a sales lift, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the author's final and unfinished work. While the published version remains without an ending, the TV adaptation featured a conclusion created by screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes. A new paperback edition of the novel tied into the TV drama was published on 5 January. Other retailers, including Amazon and Waterstones, have also reported an uplift in sales of Dickens literature. Melanie Harris of Waterstones said: 'A lot of readers watched Great Expectations and realised that they have never read the book. We have definitely seen a resurgence of interest in Dickens and a number of new editions of his classic tales are now on the shelves.' As Dickens' novels are all out of copyright, they are largely available for free on e-Readers such as the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader and Kobo eBook Reader. However, no sales figures are currently available for these electronic editions. Sales of Sherlock Holmes books by Arthur Conan Doyle have also experienced an upturn due to Sherlock, and the latest film, Game of Shadows, which was released just before Christmas.

Paul Weller and his wife Hannah are happy to announce that their twins John-Paul and Bowie were born on Saturday. Both boys are said to be healthy and doing well following the birth and Weller and Hannah are described as 'thrilled and over the moon.' Nice to know the Modfather still has it in him.
Welsh-language broadcaster S4C has secured rights to broadcast live and exclusive coverage of the FA Cup clash between Wrexham and Brighton on Tuesday. Coverage of the third round replay at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground will be shown on S4C on 17 January, starting at 7.30pm. The winners will be at home to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies in the fourth round. The match will be broadcast live and exclusive on S4C as part of the channel's new football series, Sgorio. S4C is available on all television platforms in Wales, and on Sky and Freesat in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. English subtitles will be provided during the game for the commentary, while the match will also be streamed live on the S4C website. Under the BBC's new licence fee settlement, the corporation will take over a significant proportion of S4C's funding from next year. Last October, the BBC reached an agreement over the future and funding of S4C until 2017, protecting the editorial and managerial independence of the Welsh-language broadcaster, while also keeping it accountable for all licence fee cash spent.

There's some tough luck for football fans this week, however - it's more ITV for us, I'm afraid. ITV has agreed a new two-year deal with The Football Association for the broadcast rights to the pick of The FA Cup and England internationals, including home qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup, from the 2012-13 to 2013-14 seasons. As part of the new agreement with The FA, ITV will continue to broadcast the first pick of FA Cup games throughout the season from the first round to the final as well as the third choice game pick in the fifth and sixth rounds and the fourth choice pick in the third and fourth rounds. Which, of course, means giving Adrian Chiles and Andy Townsend gainful employment. And Gareth Southgate. The horror. ITV will also have first choice of replays from the third to sixth rounds. In total ITV will broadcast up to sixteen live games across each season in addition to comprehensive highlights from every round. ITV will also continue to be the free-to-air home of England internationals including all home qualifying games for the FIFA 2014 World Cup and all home and away friendlies during the two year period. Away qualifiers are sold by opposition associations and therefore do not fall under this FA agreement. The football season's traditional curtain raiser, The FA Community Shield, will also return to free-to-air television in 2012 and 2013 under the new deal. ITV will also extend its commitment with The FA across the two seasons to encompass live coverage of six games from The FA Youth Cup on ITV4, including the semi-finals and final of the competition. ITV Director of Television, Peter Fincham said: 'The FA Cup and England internationals are events with huge resonance and appeal for our viewers. I'm delighted that we are extending our partnership with The FA and that ITV will continue to be the home of live football on free-to-air television.' Stuart Turner, FA Group Commercial Director said: 'We enjoy a great relationship with ITV and this extension to our agreement underlines that. Having The FA Cup and England alongside other ITV content such as the Champions League and World Cups shows that our football content holds its own in exalted company. It further confirms ITV's position as the home of free-to-air live football.'

A man has filed a lawsuit against News Corp, insisting that the company recorded his phone conversations and used his personal details in the film Donnie Darko. Michael Charles Bertsch filed the complaint on Wednesday in Washington, writes The Hollywood Reporter. In it, he lists several 'similarities' to back up his accusations that News Corp is guilty of defamation and invasion of privacy. Bertsch claims the following coincidences between his life and Donnie Darko: 'The family car in the movie was a sky blue Ford Taurus. My father has the exact same car with the exact same colour. Donnie Darko's sister's name is Elizabeth. My sister's name is Elizabeth. In the movie, a black 911 Porsche is parked in front of the Darko house. At the time I owned a black 911 Porsche. Donnie's girlfriend, Gretchen, is introduced as a new student in the movie. Gretchen is a German name and my fiancé was living in Germany and resembles the woman in the movie. The main premise of the movie is about a plane engine that drops in Donnie Darko's room. I worked with a company that worked with the FAA in recovering parts and downed aircraft.' Right. Whether his every waking hour is also haunted by a giant sized scary man in a rabbit costume, Bertsch doesn't say. But, we kind of hope not. For his sake, if nothing else. Bertsch also alleges that he has a number of issues with the TV shows The X-Files and Burn Notice. In particular, according to Bertsch, the fact that his sister was, sadly, murdered, resembles the fact that Fox Mulder's younger sister was also kidnapped and then killed in The X Files. Although, again, the fact that Sam Mulder died at the hands of aliens doesn't appear to be a factor in Bertsch's allegations. The case continues.

A woman has reportedly been offering sexual favours for Chicken McNuggets. A customer at a McDonald's in Los Angeles told police that Khadijah Baseer made the proposal to him, but he turned her down. Baseer was also witnessed approaching customers' cars at the drive-through last Wednesday evening, reports the Burbank Leader. A police officer stated that the woman has been arrested on prostitution charges. In 2010, a woman named Susan Finkelstein reported offered two men a threesome in exchange for baseball tickets.

Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day proves with its latest waxing that, contrary to common belief, you didn't have to be a dissident back in the former U.S.S.R to own a Be-Atles record. You could just buy one at the shop. After you'd queued up for several hours for meat. I wonder how you say 'alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie' in Russian?

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