Monday, February 13, 2012

Black Leather Angel. But She Don't Work Weekends

BBC1 again dominated the Sunday overnight ratings schedules. Six Nations: Wales v Scotland was watched by 4.38m with a peak of 5.91m. Thereafter, Call the Midwife had an audience of 8.49m and the BAFTA Awards ceremony, 5.32m peaking at 5.87m, the highest audience for the event since at 2004. On BBC2 Top Gear was watched by a smidgen under five million (4.13m on BBC2 with a further eight hundred thousand watching the simulcast on BBC HD). It was a poor night for ITV with Twatting About on Ice's audience below seven million for the fourth week running (6.98m, a series low). That's almost two million down on the equivalent episode last year. Wild at Heart again got yet another good twanking off Call The Midwife being watched by 6.26m (with a further four hundred and twenty thousand on ITV+1).

And speaking of ratings, here's the final consolidated Top Thirty figures for week ending Sunday 5 February:-
1 Call The Midwife - BBC1 Sun - 10.89m
2 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 10.87m
3 EastEnders - BBC1 Fri - 10.04m
4 Mrs Brown's Boys - BBC1 Sat - 8.31m
5 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 8.16m*
6 Twatting About On Ice - ITV Sun - 7.81m
7 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 7.59m
8 Whitechapel - ITV Mon - 6.92m
9 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 6.78m
10 Wild At Heart - ITV Sun - 6.72m*
11 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 6.68m
12 Midsomer Murders - ITV Wed - 6.52m
13 Rugby Six Nations - BBC1 Sat - 6.48m
14 Top Gear - BBC2 + BBC HD Sun - 6.25m
15 Hustle - BBC1 Fri - 6.13m
16 Prisoners' Wives - BBC1 Tues - 5.62m
17= The National Lottery Saturday Draws - BBC1 Sat - 5.40m
17= Antiques Roadshow - BBC1 Sun - 5.40m
19= Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.24m
19= Harry Hill's TV Burp - ITV Sat - 5.24m*
21 Inside Men - BBC1 Thurs - 5.23m
22 The Magicians - BBC1 Sat - 5.16m
23 MasterChef - BBC1 Wed - 5.15
24 Six O'Clock News - BBc1 Mon - 5.05m
25 Bomber Boys - BBc1 Sun - 5.04m
26 Take Me Out - ITV Sat - 4.95*
27 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Thurs - 4.93m
29= The ONE Show - BBC1 Wed - 4.84m
29= Law & Order: UK - ITV Fri - 4.84m*
Shows marked * do not including HD figures. Mrs Brown's Boys ends its second series with an average audience of 7.16m across the seven episodes. (The first series average, in a later slot, was 3.57m.) Danny Cohen has to be given a lot of credit for making such a - supposedly controversial and old-fashioned - show one of the BBCs big show for the Christmas and New Year period. Its success more than makes up for the huge flop of The Royal Bodyguard. Channel Four's big audience grabber of the week was, again, One Born Every Minute (4.19m). Aside from Top Gear, BBC2's top performers were University Challenge (3.07m) and Qi (2.83m).
The public wants a tougher regulatory system for the press that is independent of politicians, the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt said. He told BBC's Andrew Marr - taking a day off from licking Her Majesty in search of a knighthood - that any new regulatory body 'must have the confidence of the public.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt claimed that no-one wanted to see 'the state regulating content' but added that a 'tougher system' was needed. The government would 'look carefully' at the findings of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, he said. And, he added, the public wanted the press to behave 'properly.' They also want politicians too, matey. Any chance of that happening any time soon? I love this; politicians normally couldn't give a flying toss about what 'the public want' until it's getting close to election time. Then, suddenly, they're 'the public's bestest friends in all the land. The vile and odious rascal Hunt said: 'I think a consensus is emerging that there does need to be some structural changes in the way the press is regulated.' But, he continued: 'I think people also recognise for example the News of the World exposed the cricket-fixing scandal, the Daily Mail played a very important role in bringing Stephen Lawrence's murderers to justice, so I think people are recognising what we value as well.' He claimed that there was 'general agreement' the state should not regulate the press. No, I don't know about you, dear blog reader, but yer actual Keith Telly Topping personally doesn't remember getting that memo. Kindly don't speak for me when you haven't bothered to ask me for my opinion, vile and odious rascal. 'We have one of the most lively presses in the world,; he continued. For lively, read 'scummish and lousy,' it would seem. 'They make life for me and my colleagues extremely uncomfortable and it is part of us keeping us on the straight and narrow. So we don't want politicians to be regulating content and I think that is completely agreed. But on the other we need to have a tougher system, and I would like it to be an industry-led system, but it needs to be properly independent of newspaper proprietors and newspaper editors and if a newspaper is going to be punished for stepping out of line then it needs to be a credible punishment.' He said that any regulatory body had to have credibility with the public. The vile and odious rascal Hunt said he hoped the Leveson Inquiry would help 'clean up the stuff that shouldn't have been happening.' But also, he also hoped that they could put in 'a new modern regulatory structure that helps the newspaper industry evolve and deal with the challenges of the Internet and deal with the fact people want to read their news on the go. If we can do that then hopefully investors from all over the world will say they want to be part of the story.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt also paid credit to News International for co-operating with police inquiries into phone-hacking and alleged corruption, but said that the company should have co-operated earlier. Five Sun journalists and three other people were freed on bail after being dragged from their beds in the wee-small hours and questioned as part of Operation Elveden, the investigation into alleged corrupt payments to police officers and public servants. Labour MP Tom Watson (power to the people!) told the BBC's Sunday Politics show that he did not believe Rupert Murdoch should hold the licence for Sky television. 'He's the boss of the company. He's responsible for corporate governance and therefore he's not a fit and proper person to run a television company under the rules as they stand.'

The civil war at the Sun has been widely covered in rival papers on Monday - but the clearest evidence of its existence can be found in the Sun itself. In a piece headlined This witch-hunt has put us behind ex-Soviet states on Press freedom, its associate editor, Trevor Kavanagh, articulates the views of his colleagues and, quite plausibly, its beleaguered editor, Dominic Mohan. In so doing, his overt message is an attack on the police. But the subtext is more significant: it amounts to a thinly veiled attack on the Sun's owner, Rupert Murdoch. Kavanagh contends that the paper's 'journalists are being treated like members of an organised crime gang.' But, he avoids laying any blame on News Corp's management and standards committee by concentrating his fire on the police. He writes: 'Instead of being called in for questioning, thirty journalists have been needlessly dragged from their beds in dawn raids, arrested and held in police cells while their homes are ransacked. Wives and children have been humiliated as up to twenty officers at a time rip up floorboards and sift through intimate possessions, love letters and entirely private documents.' He defends payments made by Sun journalists to obtain stories by pointing out that it is 'standard procedure' to do so 'at all popular papers.' Which, if true, means that the police should be busy over the next few weeks and months, hopefully. These payments, Kavanagh claims, have resulted in 'unearthing stories that shape our lives, often obstructed by those who prefer to operate behind closed doors. Sometimes money changes hands. There is nothing disreputable about it. And, as far as we know at this point, nothing illegal.' Well, if these payments for stories were made to police officers or members of the armed forces or civil service, all of whom will have signed the Official Secrets Act then, I think you'll find they are illegal, actually, Trev. And have been for a very long time. One might try to mount of 'public interest' defence for those who whistleblew as it were - depends on the nature of the story - but the fact that there's at least the potential for criminal charges under the Bribery and Corruption act is, also, indisputable. The paper's former high-profile political editor said that they were subjects of the biggest police operation in British criminal history - bigger even than the Pan Am Lockerbie murder inquiry. He claimed that one hundred and seventy one officers are involved in three separate operations, and claimed two officers on one raid revealed they had been pulled off an elite Olympics anti-terror squad. In a carefully worded key passage, Kavanagh moves on to raise 'a sensitive domestic issue within the News International "family", which we cannot ignore.' He does not mention the MSC by name: 'It is absolutely right the company co-operates with police on inquiries ranging from phone and computer hacking to illegal payments. We are right to hand over any evidence — e-mails, expense claims, memos - that might aid those inquiries. It is right that those inquiries are carried out separately from the journalists under investigation. Nobody on the Sun was aware in advance that ten colleagues were about to be nabbed. It is also important our parent company, News Corp, protects its reputation in the United States and the interests of its shareholders. But some of the greatest legends in Fleet Street have been held, at least on the basis of evidence so far revealed, for simply doing their jobs as journalists on behalf of the company.' He then turns back to attack the police - 'driven by politicians' - and the Leveson inquiry before concluding: 'Before it is too late, should we not be asking where all this is likely to lead? Will we have a better Press? Or a Press that has been bullied by politicians into delivering what they, not the readers, think fit?' There is support for this point of view from the Daily Torygraph. Its leading article, The hacking inquiry is too heavy-handed, argues that the Metropolitan police have 'overstepped the mark.' It understands the Met's embarrassment at having previously failed to carry out a proper investigation into phone-hacking, but believes the current inquiry is disproportionate. It says: 'More officers are being sent to arrest a single journalist for an action that may or may not be a crime than ever turn up to investigate a murder or a burglary. This risks creating a culture of trepidation and excessive caution among newspapers that is not healthy in a democratic society but suits those who would like to neutralise the press.' And the Daily Scum Mail weighs in with a leader also attacking the police: 'Can Scotland Yard really afford to spare one hundred and seventy one detectives, many of them dragged away from hard-pressed elite units, to investigate the alleged misdemeanours of some News International journalists? There have been thirty arrests so far, anti-terror style dawn raids on suburban homes of middle-aged tabloid executives, twenty officers crashing into a single address, and even the threat of the Official Secrets Act against a Guardian reporter who refused to name a police contact. The inquiry is growing like Topsy, and with no end in sight.' The Scum Mail's sympathies are also clear from its news story's angle. It noses off on an 'impassioned defence' of press freedom by lack of culture secretary the vile and odious Hunt amid 'fears that journalism in the public interest could be undermined.' Elsewhere, the news stories indicate a growing sympathy for the Sun's journalists. The Times, for example, headlines its article Arrested journalists defend stories 'in the public interest'. The report reeks of pro-Sun spin. The Financial Times's front page report, Murdoch empire rocked as probe widens, said that Murdoch will be confronted by 'a hostile newsroom' when he arrives this week. It continued: 'At the Sun, there was more anger at News Corp's internal investigators. The Sun has long told readers it paid for news tips, and one veteran said reporters might have disguised the identity of their sources when seeking cash from their superiors. News Corp's need to be seen to be leaving no stone unturned has brought it into conflict with journalists who expected the company to stand behind them. "When you work for the Sun you accept you don't have many friends," the Sun veteran said, noting that this was the source of its camaraderie. Now, he said, some of its best reporters "have been taken by their own people."' The Daily Mirra, naturally enough, couldn't resist the opportunity to headline the problems of its traditional rival, Sun owner Rupert Murdoch at war with staff after further arrests in corruption probe. Its story gleefully mentions 'a full-scale revolt' by Sun staff who 'believe they are being subjected to an establishment witch-hunt. And they claim Mr Murdoch is hanging his own staff out to dry.' It quotes 'one senior executive' as saying: 'We are being destroyed from within. As we saw with the News of The World, there is nothing the Murdochs will not do to protect their own backs. It beggars belief they can so readily throw to the wolves good, decent, loyal journalists who have dedicated so much to the paper. They are being treated like hardened villains.' Meanwhile, the solicitor representing alleged victims of phone-hacking is said to be heading to the US to take legal action against Rupert Murdoch. Mark Lewis, who represents the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, told the Press Association that he was 'not prepared to deny' the reports. He is expected to travel to America within weeks to meet lawyers and is said to be close to bringing at least one case against Murdoch's US company.

A new hidden camera show starring footballers has reportedly been commissioned. The ITV programme will, apparently, see the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Mario Balotelli 'playing jokes' on their fellow players, the Sunday Mirra reports. Maybe that explains Suarez's actions on Saturday? He was only game for a laugh, it would seem. Titled Euro Wind-Ups, the show will be broadcast in June alongside England's European Championship games in Poland and the Ukraine. Producers are said to be 'pulling out all the stops' to secure 'the biggest names in football' to feature in the primetime programme. Jan Venegoor of Hesselink. That's a big name. So is Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. Nwankwo Christian Nwosu Kanu is enormous. Roman Pavlyuchenko's quite a size as well. Ferdinand, the report claims, could 'lead the pranks' after starring in Rio's World Cup Wind-Ups back in 2006. Or, perhaps, he might like to try playing football instead. You know, his sodding job? 'This has the potential to be absolutely massive,' a alleged 'source' allegedly told the alleged paper. Or, indeed, the biggest flop of all time, particularly if it's shown immediately after England have just got a twanking off the Poles. One imagines viewers' collective tolerance for such larks, japes and general tomfoolery might be in somewhat short supply in the event of England's midfield getting overran in the way that, for instance, Germans did to us during the last world cup. 'A good prank is part of the ­dressing-room culture in the British game, so ­footballers are more than qualified to star in the show,' this anonymous alleged 'source' allegedly said. Aye, they're all a right bunch of clowns, footballers, and no mistake. The highlights are rumoured to include Joey Barton twatting some chap in the mush for looking at him in a funny way, John Terry and Anton Ferdinand having a quiet word with each other, Andy Carroll letting a glass 'accidentally slip from his hand' in a Tyneside nightclub and, of course, no show would be complete without a two-footed lunge from Glen Johnson. Oh, how we'd laugh. Yes, dear blog reader, every time you think television has reached a new, sick low, along come ITV to prove you wrong.

Now, here's undoubtedly the question of the week: 'Can a member of BBC staff be sacked for not having a TV licence or for having sex on the premises?' asks a correspondent to the letters pages of the BBC's in-house – and now online only – magazine Ariel. 'I've just been having a heated debate in the office about this and wondered if there was any truth in it?' Answer: it's complicated, but I really think somebody should try it to find out. And, then BBC3 can make documentary about it.

Silent movie The Artist has dominated the sixty fifth BAFTA ceremony, taking seven prizes including best film, best director and best actor, for its star Jean Dujardin. As well as his director award, filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius picked up the best original screenplay prize. 'Some people thought there was no script because there was no dialogue so the British are very clever,' he said. Meryl Streep won best actress, for The Iron Lady, while Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy won outstanding British film. The Artist's Dujardin, picking up best actor, said he was 'thrilled to be in the company of such illustrious, talented actors' as fellow nominees Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman, George Clooney and Michael Fassbender. 'To receive this award from the country of Laurence Oliver, William Webb Ellis and Benny Hill is an honour,' the Frenchman added. Accepting his best director BAFTA, Hazanavicius, who gave a series of colourful speeches, said he was thrilled that award presenter Pitt 'said my name correctly. I know that I will have some bad days because I'm a director but I will remember this day, today, as a good day,' he added. The Artist is the story of silent movie actor, George Valentin, whose career is surpassed by his love interest Peppy Miller - played by Hazanavicius' wife Berenice Bejo - who becomes a star of the 'talkies.' The film, the favourite for best picture at the Oscars on 26 February, also won awards for best original score, cinematography and best costume design. Bejo, together with My Week with Marilyn's Michelle Williams, We Need to Talk About Kevin's Tilda Swinton and The Help's Viola Davis, was beaten by Streep for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. The sixty two-year-old actress, who has not won a BAFTA since The French Lieutenant's Woman, in 1982, lost her shoe as she made her way to the stage of London's Royal Opera House to pick up her award. 'That couldn't have gone worse,' she said. 'Somebody once said the fate of the well-known is to be misunderstood and the ambition of this film, The Iron Lady, was to look at the life of the Iron Lady from the inside out and to locate something real, maybe hidden, but truthful in the life of someone we've all decided we know everything about already.' The Iron Lady, which follows Margaret Thatcher over a number of years in flashback, also won the make-up and hair BAFTA. Octavia Spencer beat Jessica Chastain, her co-star in civil rights drama The Help, to win best supporting actress, saying her victory was 'a surprise.' Speaking on the red carpet earlier, Chastain insisted there was no competition between the pair. 'Every time she wins, I'm so happy for her - she's been working for so long and I have zero rivalry with her,' she said. Best supporting actor Christopher Plummer, eighty two, who won for his role as an elderly father who comes out as gay in Beginners, was unable to pick up his award. In a message read out by presenter Helena Bonham Carter, the Canadian actor said: 'Good old Londres has always been my second home but, now that Bafta has spoken, I feel more at home than ever.' Spy thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, starring best actor nominee Oldman as George Smiley, went into the awards with eleven nominations. Picking up outstanding British film - which beat Monroe biopic My Week With Marilyn, Steve McQueen's sex addiction film Shame, psychodrama We Need To Talk About Kevin and documentary Senna - director Tomas Alfredson said: 'It's easy to be outstanding when you're surrounded by talented people.' Picking up best adapted screenplay, the film's co-writer Peter Straughan thanked 'The Artist for not being adapted from a book.' He then paid tribute to his co-writer and wife, Bridget O'Connor, who died during pre-production. 'She wrote all the good bits and I made the coffee so Bridget I love you, I miss you, this is for you,' he said. Senna, about the life of the late racing driver Ayrton Senna, won best documentary beating Martin Scorsese's George Harrison: Living in the Material World and Project Nim, about a chimpanzee raised as a child in the 1970s. Scorsese's Hugo - a 3D adaptation of Brian Selznick's novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret - won prizes for production design and sound. At the end of the awards, Scorsese was made a BAFTA fellow. The sixty nine-year-old director, known for films including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and The Departed, praised British films as 'a bit of a mystery and great marvel. The rich tradition of British cinema also embraces, for me, the peerless craftsmanship of the British crew who helped me with direction and extraordinary imagination with the making of Hugo here at Shepperton.' John Hurt, seventy two, meanwhile, picked up the outstanding contribution to British cinema award. He thanked all those directors 'who have allowed me to play those wonderful parts that I would never in a million of years have thought of for myself. The reason I'm standing here is because I am the addition, basically, of their imaginations.' Paddy Considine - best known as an actor in films including Dead Man's Shoes and Hot Fuzz - was honoured for directing the hard-hitting British drama Tyrannosaur. And Adam Deacon, star of films including Adulthood and Anuvahood, beat competition from Chris Hemsworth, Chris O'Dowd, Eddie Redmayne and Tom Hiddleston to win the audience-voted rising star prize at the awards, hosted by Stephen Fry.

The first ever British television advert created specially for dogs is to air tonight, featuring high pitched sounds that cannot be heard by humans. The commercial is a minute-long parody of The Italian Job that has whistles and barks intended to catch the attention of watching canines. Nestlé-owned dog food manufacturer Bakers Complete commissioned the advert, which will be broadcast during Emmerdale at 7.15pm on ITV. The Bakers Meaty Meals advert, which features a pack of dogs re-enacting scenes from the 1969 classic caper movie, originally broadcast last summer with sounds designed for humans. Bakers brand manager Mark Zaki said: 'We are always looking for new ways to deliver an engaging experience for our consumers. With these special sounds we hope this delivers enjoyment for both dogs and their owners.' Zara Boland, an animal expert who advised Bakers, added: 'High pitch frequencies cannot be heard by the vast majority of humans, yet appeal to dogs as their hearing is twice as sharp. Our canine experts have created an advert interspersed with sounds including bells, barks and whistles - which dogs love - and high frequency noises that only they should hear.' Carolyn Menteith of the Kennel Club told the Daily Torygraph that most dogs would react to the unfamiliar sounds by either pricking up their ears, or tilting their head. A few noise-sensitive canines may be spooked by the sounds or the barking, she said, but the distress would be no worse than them hearing an unusual noise.

Some very sad news now. David Kelly – the terrific Irish comedy actor who played the hapless builder O'Reilly in Fawlty Towers and the one-armed washer-upper Albert Riddle in Robin's Nest – has died in Dublin at the age of eighty two. His other credits include the film Waking Ned, for which he was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award, and playing Charlie's granddad in the 2005 Johnny Depp remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties David made a career for himself playing eccentric Irish characters in a number of British sitcoms - of varying quality - including Me Mammy, Oh! Father, On the Buses, Cowboys (a little undiscovered gem, that one), Mr Big, Citizen Smith and Never Mind the Quality Feel the Width. But he was also a stalwart of Irish stage and screen, playing everything from Beckett to Shakespeare in his near sixty year career stretching back to the mid-1950s. 'I've been fifty two years on the stage,' he once noted. 'And yet Fawlty Towers, those full nine minutes, make me recognised anywhere in the world!' In Ireland he is probably most famous for his portrayal of the roguish character Rashers Tierney in the 1980 RTE miniseries Strumpet City, which also starred Peter O'Toole, Cyril Cusack, and Peter Ustinov. He was educated at the Christian Brothers on Synge Street, a school of hard knocks that was also the alma mater of Milo O'Shea, Eamonn Andrews and Gay Byrne. One of David's early film roles was as an undertaker in The Italian Job (1969). He went on to have roles in television shows such as Last of SummerEmmerdale Farm and Whoops Apocalypse (playing against type as an Arab) in the 1980s and Glenroe and Ballykissangel in the 1990s, as well as playing the grandfather in Mike Newell's Into The West (1992). His final sceeen appearance had been in the 2010 TV movie The Front. He died in hospital after a short illness and is survived by his wife Laurie Morton, who is also an actor, and their two children, David and Miriam. From The North is greatly saddened by this.

Like most other people with a heart in their chest, yer actual Keith Telly Topping was saddened to heart of the shockingly untimely death of Whitney Houston over the weekend at the age of just forty eight. I was never the biggest fan of the lady's music, personally - too synthetic and overproduced for my tastes - but nevertheless, it's a sad day. So, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's the best record she was ever involved in. Kick out the JAMMs, Billy.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping, incidentally, has spent most of the weekend listing to james (for reasons far too complicated to go into). So, for Keith Telly Topping's (second) 45 of the Day, here's a celebration of Sunday from the classic Gold Mother line-up. 'A knife, a fork, a bottle and cork/that's the way to sell New York.'

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