Thursday, February 16, 2012

I'm Not The Kind That Likes To Tell You, Just What You Want Me Too

The Scotland Yard investigation into alleged illegal payments by Sun journalists to police and other public officials is 'looking into' claims that some individuals received more than ten grand a year and were 'effectively on retainer.' News Corporation's controversial internal unit passing information about alleged illegal practices by News International journalists to the Metropolitan police believes it has uncovered evidence of 'serious suspected criminality over a sustained period' by some public officials supplying information to the Sun. The revelation will almost certainly mean that Rupert Murdoch, the New York-based News Corp chairman and chief executive, will not seek to rein in the management and standards committee when he arrives in London on Friday for what are now almost certain to be 'crisis talks' with News International management. An alleged 'source' allegedly familiar with the alleged operations of the MSC allegedly told the alleged Gruniad Morning Star that the alleged evidence uncovered after months of trawling through three hundred million internal News International e-mails and other documentation allegedly involved 'regular cash payments totalling tens of thousands of pounds a year for several years to public officials, some of whom were effectively on retainer to provide information' to the Sun. 'In totality it involves a six-figure sum,' the alleged insider alleged added. The 'source' allegedly continued that the investigation is not to do with 'sources or expenses' claims by journalists. Fresh details about the activities of the MSC, which is passing information on to the Met's Operation Elveden investigation into alleged illegal payments to public officials, come as the Sun's opposition to the unit - and the alleged 'witch hunt' it is involved in - grows, with the revelation on Wednesday that journalists from the paper have approached the National Union of Journalists about launching a legal challenge. Which, given the - Sun's collective attitude towards unions in general and the NUJ in particular for the last thirty years some dear blog readers might consider to be quite sickeningly hypocritical. Or, perhaps not. Don't come to me looking for a quick answer on that one. Information supplied by the MSC to the Met has led to the arrest and bailing of nine current and former Sun journalists, two police officers, an MoD employee and a member of the armed forces in relation to alleged illegal payments to public officials in the past three weeks. The latest arrests of five senior Sun journalists on Saturday has led to what the Gruniad describe as 'near civil war' at News International's Wapping HQ, with editorial staff accusing the MSC of throwing them 'to the wolves.' Wolves themselves were asked for a comment, but declined since they were too busy sacking Mick McCarthy. Journalists at News International say they feel 'angry and betrayed' by the turn of events. Which, as noted previously, carries all of the quality of a loathsome school bully who, after years of picking on the little kids and getting away with it is finally brought to book. And, instead of taking his or her punishment like a man (or a woman), stands there and, bare-faced, tries to squirm their way out of a caning by blaming everything on somebody else. And, they does so whilst simultaneously snivelling wretchedly at the manifest unfairness of life. 'Boo-hoo, why are you picking on us? It's a witch-hunt, so it is!' It's a sight to see, dear blog reader, and I mean a sight to see. One imagines that what really narks Sun journalists is the naked fact that nobody's actually scared of them, or their power to destroy lives, anymore. That must be a wake-up call and a half after, effectively, thirty years or more of them writing just whatever the hell they like about pretty much anyone and nobody being able to do a damn thing about it. Feels horrible to be powerless, guys, doesn't it? The MSC was set up in July and operates independently of the Sun and other News International titles, reporting directly to News Corp in New York. But it has been on the back foot in the past week with barely concealed anger across all three Murdoch titles. The Times on Wednesday weighed in with a comment piece attacking the MSC by leading human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson. Scotland Yard has also extended its inquiry into alleged illegal payments by alleged News International journalists to include all alleged public servants. The Met said it 'recently uncovered evidence of suspected corruption by public officials who are not former or serving police officers' and has therefore 'expanded its terms of reference.' In a statement issued on Wednesday it also confirmed that Operation Elveden was confined to News International titles. 'The public expects the police and public officials to behave in a certain way – professionally, ethically and with the utmost integrity – and the MPS has a duty to investigate evidence that indicates suspected criminal behaviour,' the Met said. 'The unauthorised disclosure of information in return for payment is illegal and will be robustly investigated. That includes those who seek to corrupt or act as a conduit to aid corruption, which is also illegal.' Scotland Yard added that Operation Elveden is an 'incredibly complex inquiry' and it is 'of significant public interest' that anyone identified as being involved in wrongdoing would 'receive the full weight of appropriate action through the criminal courts and/or disciplinary action.'

As for King Charlie Brooker's considered thoughts on this matter, these are they. And they're worth considering, frankly.
Brooker's surprise poetry lesson for the masses on Wednesday night's Ten o'Clock Live on Channel Four was the talk of Twitter and Facebook on Thursday morning. In a piece to camera, Brooker begins by appearing to defend the Sun against charges that it has ever engaged in witch-hunt campaigns, before breaking into a two-minute analysis of the scum tabloid's editorial policy - complete with rhymes. It's a list of many of the various groups of people that the notorious right-wing scum paper has not exactly been a friend to. Such as 'anyone who lives in Spain/Or mounts a human rights campaign.' Riffing off the fact that Rupert Murdoch's newspaper is now trying to claim that it is the - innocent - victim of a witch-hunt itself, despite the fact it's hunted down and burned at the stake more than a few metaphorical witches in its time ('The England squad, the goalie's hands/the manager, the Hillsbrough fans' and 'trendy vicars wearing knickers/lezzas, benders, the cast of EastEnders!'), Brooker viciously lets rip as only King Charlie can. Listing pretty much every single person, group or political ideology that the Sun has found some reason to be 'shocked, appalled and outraged' at over the years, it's a mesmerising, breathless couple of minutes of sheer comedy genius. I think I most enjoyed the lines about 'non-existent feral cats' and 'an innocent man called Robert Murat' personally!

The Blue Peter garden is to be opened up to members of the public for the first time at the BBC's new base in Salford, it has been announced. The famous garden, which is currently being planted in a landscaped area outside Dock House, will be officially opened by Princess Anne on 23 February. The new garden will be landscaped by Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins. It will feature a bust of Petra, the children's show's first pet dog and an ornamental fishpond. The hand, foot and paw prints of the presenters and animals who appeared on the show in 1978, when the garden was originally created, will also be incorporated. A statue of Mabel - another of the show's longest-serving pet dogs - will be moved to the reception area along with a sculpture of the Blue Peter ship logo. Blue Peter editor Tim Levell said: 'We're really excited about being able to open up the garden so Blue Peter viewers can come along and visit it - we wanted to make it as accessible to the public as possible.' When the garden was situated at BBC Television Centre in London, members of the public could only gain access during a special tour of the studios. Or, by climbing over the wall and vandalising it, of course. It had previously been reported that the new location would also be off-limits, on the roof of Blue Peter's new studio. A mainstay of the children's magazine show, the original garden was designed by Percy Thrower immediately behind the staff canteen in Television Centre. In 1983 the garden was, infamously, targeted by vandals, who stamped on plants, poured oil into the pond and smashed the stonework. Last June, Blue Peter broadcast its final show from London, before it moved to Salford, along with BBC Sport, TV's Breakfast programme and Radio 5Live. It is the longest-running children's programme in the world, first being broadcast in October 1958.

Brian Cox is to star in a new three-part comedy for BBC4. No, not the one out of D: Ream, the other one. The actor will play the title role in Bob Servant Independent. Based on a string of books and BBC Radio Scotland series, the show focuses on Servant, an opportunistic, would-be politician who exploits a by-election for self-promotion. Fresh Meat star Greg McHugh will also appear in the Dundee-based satire, alongside Jonathan Watson, Ron Donachie, Rufus Jones and Pollyanna McIntosh. 'As a Dundee man I am very excited to be filming a brand new television comedy set in Broughty Ferry,' said Cox. 'With the comic writing skills of fellow Dundonian Neil Forsyth and the audacious spirit of Bob Servant, it shouldn't fail to capture the very essence of the unique East Coast humour.' Series creator Neil Forsyth added: 'It's hugely exciting that Bob is making it onto the telly, and that Brian is once again involved and leading a brilliant cast. He's been a supporter of the Bob Servant cause for a long time and I can't wait to see him stride about Broughty Ferry in character.'

The UK Supreme Court has rejected an appeal against the BBC's refusal to publish a report into its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Five justices unanimously dismissed the appeal by solicitor Steven Sugar. He had asked for the internal Balen Report from 2004 to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act. However, the BBC argued that it was exempt from the Act with regard to information it held for the purposes of 'journalism, art or literature.' Sugar, who died of cancer last year aged sixty one, had wanted to know whether the report supported his claim that the corporation was biased against Israel. His appeal was taken up by his widow, Fiona Paveley. The report was an internal document assessing the corporation's coverage of the Middle East, which was compiled in 2004 by an editorial adviser, Malcolm Balen. The Supreme Court ruled that once it was established that the information sought was held by the BBC to any significant degree for the purposes of journalism it was exempt, even if the information was also held for other purposes. The BBC said in a statement: 'We welcome the Supreme Court's judgment, which upholds the rulings of other courts in this case, and will ensure that the BBC is afforded the space to conduct its journalistic activities freely. Independent journalism requires honest and open internal debate free from external pressures. This ruling enables us to continue to do that.' Sugar first applied for disclosure of the Balen Report in 2005. The BBC's refusal to disclose it led to litigation which went all the way to the Law Lords, before being referred back to the Information Tribunal, which ruled in Sugar's favour. But that decision was overturned by the High Court and that was upheld last year by the Court of Appeal. His widow appealed up to the Supreme Court, which had taken over from the Law Lords as the role of highest court in the land. She took the case on because she felt abandoning it would be a 'betrayal' of a cause which was so important to her husband. Sugar believed that Orla Guerin, the BBC's former Middle East correspondent, was 'biased' against Israel. She was accused of anti-Semitism in 2004 by the Israeli government. Guerin is currently a BBC correspondent based in Pakistan. Wednesday's ruling is being seen as a landmark case and establishes a legal test as to 'what constitutes a document held for journalistic purposes.'

Charles Dance and Rupert Graves are among the actors who have joined the cast of Channel Four's new drama Coup. The four-part series, based on the Chris Mullen novel A Very British Coup, focuses on the aftermath of an industrial accident in Teeside which raises questions about the US petrochemical company involved. In Treatment star Gabriel Byrne has already joined the cast as a politician determined to maintain his integrity and uncover the truth. However, he struggles to keep his party on side, faces revelations about his personal life and starts to realise that the government has links to the petrochemical company. Channel Four has now announced that Dance and Graves have both landed parts in the series alongside Robin Hood's Douglas Hodge, The Last Detective's Lia Williams, Misfits star Ruth Negga, Sylvestra Le Touzel and Gina McKee. The drama has been written by Lennon Naked author Robert Jones and filming has already started in Manchester, Liverpool and London.

Let's Dance for Sport Relief's second show will feature Vic Reeves and Rufus Hound on the judging panel. Both of whom should be sodding-well ashamed of themselves.

The BBC has been considering the possibility of broadcasting some of its London Olympics coverage in 3D since 2009, although the corporation has been cautious about committing to this as it will mean interrupting its core high definition TV service. However, the men's one hundred metres final at the London Olympics will be televised live in 3D as part of a summer experiment to test the public appetite for the new broadcast technology, the BBC has confirmed. Roger Mosey, the BBC executive in charge of the corporation's London 2012 coverage, said on Wednesday that the one hundred metres final, parts of the opening and closing ceremonies and a nightly highlights package will be broadcast in 3D this summer. '3D has spread more slowly than we perhaps expected in 2009. But we do believe it's right for the BBC to go ahead with a 3D experiment this summer,' Mosey said in a blog posted on the BBC website. He added that the experiment was part of the 'story of innovation' that goes with the broadcasting of Olympic events and that the 'industry will only know what customers want if we have actual data on their use of 3D and there's no bigger stage on which to try this out than the Olympics.' Mosey said that the events were chosen 'partly because they mark the pinnacles of the Games' but also that it will mean a minimal loss of HD coverage of other events when the BBC switches to the 3D feed. 'It's not yet clear how much of the ceremonies will be shot in 3D but otherwise opening and closing have the advantage that there's no competing sport, and therefore no loss of choice for HD viewers,' he added. 'But that wouldn't have been the case if we'd expanded our 3D coverage over the rest of the seventeen days.' A spokesman for the BBC pointed out that the corporation is committing 'very little' of the licence fee to 3D – in line with the small amount of public demand and uptake to date. The summer experiments are designed to explore the editorial potential and customer reception to 3D broadcasting. 'The BBC has both a responsibility and a strong history of exploring innovation on behalf of licence fee payers,' Mosey said. The BBC has dabbled in 3D before, broadcasting the 2012 Wimbledon men's and women's finals using the technology.

Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer are to join Channel Four, it has been confirmed. The former Something for the Weekend hosts will move to the channel in March to host new show Sunday Brunch. 'We're chuffed to be joining Channel Four,' Lovejoy and Rimmer said in a joint statement. 'We have a great laugh working together and we're very pleased we can continue that in our new home.' Channel Four's head of formats Dominic Bird, who commissioned the programme, added: 'Simon and Tim have brilliant on screen chemistry and their partnership will be at the heart of Sunday Brunch. They're a great fit for Channel Four and we can't wait to get going on the new show.' Promising a mix of celebrity guests, cookery and 'wit, chat and banter,' former Something for the Weekend production company Princess Productions will make Sunday Brunch for Channel Four. Henrietta Conrad has been named as the show's executive producer. It was previously reported that ITV had opened talks with Princess about launching a similar format to Something for the Weekend on one of its channels. Something for the Weekend was cancelled earlier this year after a run of almost six years on the BBC.

Jane Tranter's Los Angeles division of BBC Worldwide Productions is reportedly working with HBO to develop a high-profile dramatisation of Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Making of the Atomic Bomb.

The Premier League is to launch an advertising campaign warning pubs and clubs that it intends to 'crack down' on allegedly 'unauthorised' broadcasts of football matches using foreign satellite feeds. The campaign is being backed by BSkyB which holds the UK rights to offer Premier League football matches to UK pubs and clubs. The full-page advert, which is running in key titles read by publicans such as the Morning Advertiser, is pitched as a legal warning shot to the estimated thousands of pubs and clubs which have side-step BSkyB by taking cheap foreign satellite feeds. BSkyB has about forty four thousand pub, club and office subscribers to its Premier League football packages at a cost of about one thousand smackers per month. The Premier League has felt emboldened to run the bullying adverts following two judgments delivered by the European Court of Justice in recent months. The first related to a case brought by Southampton pub landlady Karen Murphy who used a Greek decoder card to show live Premier League matches to pubgoers at a fraction of the greedy rate charged by Sky. The ECJ ruled that fans at home could buy foreign set-top box decoder cards from foreign broadcasters, but that the Premier League could target pubs and clubs on the grounds of copyright infringement. The UK's high court of justice will make a final decision on how to apply the ECJ ruling to the Murphy case on 24 February. However, the Premier League and BSkyB consider a second ruling to be much more material to the battle against unauthorised broadcasts. On 3 February the UK court delivered its judgment on an ECJ ruling relating to a company called QC Leisure, a provider of Greek and Arabic decoder cards to publicans in the UK. The advert being run by the Premier League warns publicans that this ruling has 'clarified' its right to pursue unauthorised broadcasters. 'It is clear that the law gives us the right to prevent the unauthorised use of our copyrights in pubs and clubs when they are communicated to the public without our authority,' says text in the advert. 'We will now resume actions against publicans.' And those who do not do as they are told will, presumably, be taken out and shot. The knock-on effect of the UK court ruling earlier this month is that another major supplier of foreign set-top boxes and cards, Euroview, has in the last few days shut down its current business operation. A statement on its website informs customers that it is cancelling contracts from the 10 February. 'To fully protect the business of its customers Euroview Sport is now investing in making changes to its service which will ensure that it offers a risk-free solution which does not infringe the rights of the FAPL or any other third party,' the company said. 'Until these changes are fully effected Euroview has made the decision to temporarily suspend its services.' And, who said bully boy thuggery had gone from football, eh?

Channel Four has recruited the senior BBC factual executive Nick Mirsky, the executive producer of Louis Theroux's recent documentaries, as its deputy head of factual. Mirsky, who executive produced twenty Theroux documentaries since 2006 including The Most Hated Family in America, Behind Bars and A Place for Paedophiles, is the first major appointment by Channel Four's new head of factual Ralph Lee. Lee, formerly Channel Four head of specialist factual, was promoted to the new role of head of factual late last year after a reorganisation of the broadcaster's commissioning teams following the departure of head of documentaries, Hamish Mykura. Mirsky, who currently works as the series editor of the BBC2 factual strand Wonderland, said of his new role: 'It is not easy for me to leave the BBC, but this is a unique opportunity to work with the team responsible for much of our most exciting television about contemporary Britain. I have sat and admired so many Channel Four series from afar and I am now really looking forward to being part of the team that commissions them.' Lee added: 'Nick is a gifted and vastly experienced executive producer who has a knack for getting to the heart of stories and is renowned throughout the industry. He is not afraid to take risks with formats or talent and is the creative powerhouse behind some of the most exciting documentaries on the BBC.' Also joining Lee's factual team as a new commissioning editor is Currrent TV's director of content, Lina Prestwood.

Sherlock producer Sue Vertue has commented on Johnny Lee Miller's casting in CBS pilot Elementary. The US drama project, which has been described as a modern-day take on Sherlock Holmes set in New York. It was recently announced that Miller - who appeared opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in a recent stage production of Frankenstein - will play Arthur Conan Doyle's detective. Vertue told the Independent: 'Johnny is a very fine actor, who I saw recently in the theatre when he and Benedict played alternating roles in Frankenstein. Let's hope their pilot script has stayed further away from our Sherlock than their casting choice.' She added: 'We have been in touch with CBS and informed them that we will be looking at their finished pilot very closely for any infringement of our rights.' Last month, Vertue admitted that she found the Elementary pilot 'extremely worrying', but CBS has insisted that it is 'respectful' of all copyright laws. 'Our project is a contemporary take on Sherlock Homes that will be based on Holmes, Watson and other characters in the public domain, as well as original characters,' said the network. 'We will not infringe on any stories or works that may still be protected.'

Meanwhile, Benedict Cumberbatch is to take a break from sleuthing to play a part in a new Rumpole of the Bailey adaptation for BBC Radio 4. The Sherlock star, who has loaned his voice to several of the famous fictional barrister's adventures on Radio 4 in the past, will play the Young Rumpole in Rumpole and the Man of God. Starring Timothy West as Rumpole, the story takes place in 1959, when the lawyer is given the task of defending a clergyman accused of shoplifting who risks being defrocked if he is convicted. In addition to West and Cumberbatch, Rumpole and the Man of God features Jasmine Hyde as Rumpole's wife, Hilda, and Stephen Critchlow as George Frobisher. Rumpole was created by former barrister John Mortimer, whose books about the jovial lawyer became bestsellers and spawned a long-running television series starring Leo McKern. Rumpole and the Man of God will transmit on Radio 4 on Thursday 1 March at 2:15pm. It will be followed by a second episode, Rumpole and the Explosive Evidence, on Friday 2 March.

Stephen Fry is to take to the stage in his first major role for seventeen years, appearing in Twelfth Night at London's Globe later this year. Fry will play Malvolio opposite The Globe's former artistic director Mark Rylance, as Lady Olivia, in a three-week run beginning on 22 September. In 1995, Fry walked out during a West End run of Simon Gray's Cell Mates, and fled to Belgium with a combination of stage fright and depression. He later blamed his departure on his bipolar disorder. The biography section of the actor and broadcaster's website says that the incident 'was very nearly his undoing. The experience still haunts him but the depression has now faded to embarrassment and the anger to forgiveness,' it adds. 'Stephen Fry is now a man content.' Rylance was the Globe's first artistic director, holding the post from its opening in 1995 to 2005. He directed and acted in plays every season and became known for exploring Elizabethan theatre practices. Rylance is reprising the role of Olivia that he played in the Globe's 2002 production of Twelfth Night. As with that run, September's staging will be performed by an all-male cast. It has also been announced that actors Liam Brennan and Peter Hamilton Dyer will reprise their 2002 roles as Orsino and jester Feste respectively. As part of The Globe's The Play's The Thing season, fifty two-year-old Rylance will also take the title role in Richard III, which runs between July and October. The summer season begins on 7 June with Dominic Dromgoole's new production of Henry V. Rylance's portrayal of modern-day pied piper Johnny Rooster Byron, in the West End and on Broadway, in Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem won him a number of awards including last year's best actor Tony.

Colombian pop superstar Shakira was reportedly attacked by a sea lion as she tried to photograph and pet a group of the animals during a vacation in Cape Town, she claimed on Wednesday on her Facebook page. 'I thought to myself how cute they were so I decided to get a bit closer than all of the other tourists and went down to a rock trying to pet them, doing a baby talk while taking pictures,' she said on the social networking site, in an account written after the incident on Sunday. 'Suddenly, one of them jumped out of the water so fast and impetuously that it got about one foot away from me, looked me in the eye, roared in fury and tried to bite me. Everyone there screamed, including me. I was paralysed by fear and couldn't move.' Think how the sea lion felt, love. The singer, whose 'Waka Waka' single was the official song of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, said that her brother, Super Tony, saved her by jumping over her and hauling her out of the sea lion's reach. She claimed that she and her brother both scratched themselves on the rocks while trying to protect themselves, and posted a picture of a small scrape on her hand. Shakira said she believed the animal may have mistaken her Blackberry phone for a fish and gone after it. Either that or, it just really doesn't like yer music. The incident was not the singer's only run-in with wildlife during the trip. She also said on Twitter that a baboon had jumped onto her car the day after the sea lion attack. 'Now I'm off to see some penguins! I hope they are a bit more friendly,' she wrote. Ooo, you don't wanna mess wit hte penguins. They'll have yer hand off so much as look at you.

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day is, in the words of George Orwell, 'a tale of power, corruption and lies.' Bring us The News - today featuring a severely pissed-off looking Barney Sumner locked in a BBC basement wearing just his shorts. Meanwhile, Hooky, looking rock-hard in his vest appears to be auditioning for Shameless.

1 comment:

David Alexander McDonald said...

As any marine biologist will tell you -- sea lions and seals: right bunch of cunts.

Rumpole, jovial? I always thought he was a rather weary old curmudgeon with a penchant for dry wit as needed.