Saturday, February 25, 2012

Love Is Blind

Doctor Who's new executive producer, Caroline Skinner, has dropped a few minor hints about what we can expect from the seventh series. The BBC's popular long-running family SF drama's latest batch of episodes began shooting earlier this week in Wales, with Saul Metzstein directing.'"We had our first read-through a couple of weeks ago, which was a huge pleasure,' Skinner told SFX. '[It was] two brilliant scripts.' She confirmed that the current shooting block is comprised of two single episodes, rather than a two-parter. 'What we tend to do is shoot in a block, so one director will do a couple of episodes,' she confirmed. 'Those two are individual stories.' Skinner also promised that the series premiere, written by showrunner Steven Moffat, will 'blow everybody's mind. We've got a lot of [the scripts] and the ones that are written are really, really epic and very exciting,' she said. Sherlock's Rupert Graves, The Fast Show's Mark Williams and David Bradley are among the guest actors confirmed to appear in the new episodes. Doctor Who will return to BBC1 in the autumn. Most informed money is going on a start date some time around October at the moment although that is, as yet, unconfirmed.

Sports stars will be challenged to tackle stand-up comedy in new BBC show Stand Up for Sport Relief. Claudia Whatsherface will host the charity show, which will feature British sportsmen and women performing at top comedy venues to help raise money for Sport Relief. Ex-England cricket captain Michael Vaughan, World Cup rugby star Ben Cohen and sports broadcaster Gabby Logan will all be taking part in the show. Others participating will be revealed in the coming weeks. Comics Patrick Kielty, Jason Manford, Andi Osho, Chris Ramsey and Daniel Sloss will mentor the sports stars ahead of their big night at London's Bloomsbury Theatre, which will be broadcast on BBC3 in the build up to Sport Relief. Vaughan - an articulate a witty man who's turned into a very fine broadcaster since retiring although probably not the first person one would think of in relation to stand up comedy, said: 'I used to play cricket in front of twenty thousand people but the thought of making five hundred people laugh is terrifying. And having spent a day with my comedian, I've realised just how unfunny I am.' Host Winkleman added: 'I am incredibly proud to be part of Stand Up for Sport Relief. It sounds both exciting and terrifying which is win-win. I'll try and support the brave sportsmen and women who are going to be comics for one night as much as possible.'

BBC Studios and Post Production has announced the appointment of Anna Mallett as its new chief executive, following the resignation of Mark Thomas last month. Mallett will lead the commercial subsidiary of the BBC, which works with various major broadcasters, and report to John Tate, the chairman of BBC Studios and Post Production. She will replace Thomas, who quit the UK's largest provider of studios, post production and digital media services last month after guiding the business to its highest profitability since it was formed in 1998. Mallett has been part of the BBC's senior leadership team since 2006, and has overseen the corporation's overall commercial strategy since 2008. She also helped shape the BBC's distribution business, ensuring improved accessibility and prominence of BBC content. 'It is Anna's wealth of commercial experience and expertise, combined with her energy and vision which I believe will help drive BBC Studios and Post Production forward,' said Tate. 'I am looking forward to working with Anna to build a strong future for the business.' Mallett added: 'I am delighted to be joining BBC Studios and Post Production at this exciting time. The company provides the UK media industry with a huge wealth of production talent, services and skills and I'm passionate about championing the business and establishing long term growth.' Before joining the BBC, Mallett gained an MBA from Harvard and a DPhil from Oxford, and worked at The Boston Consulting Group. She will start at BBC Studios in September 2012.

The BBC and ITV have reportedly resolved a clash between them over two dramas with the same title, Love Life. Last year both the BBC and ITV separately announced dramas with that title. Broadcast reports that the broadcasters have held 'amicable' discussions to resolve the clash between the two shows. The BBC were first to announce it had commissioned a drama titled Love Life. The BBC series will be a five-part 'improvised' drama which will star David Tennant, David Morrissey, Jane Horrocks, Billie Piper and Ashley Walters. The BBC has now reportedly renamed its drama series True Love. Meanwhile ITV, despite announcing its Love Life drama later, will keep the original title. The three-part ITV drama is being written by Bill Gallagher who adapted the hugely popular Sunday evening drama Lark Rise to Candleford for the BBC.
Two men have been arrested as part of the computer-hacking investigation set up by the Metropolitan Police alongside their phone-hacking inquiry. Officers from Operation Tuleta detained a fifty-year-old man at his home in Hertfordshire, and a fity one-year-old man at a Surrey address, on Friday. Officers searched the Hertfordshire property. The men are in custody at separate London police stations. Operation Tuleta covers privacy intrusions including computer misuse. It is running alongside the Operation Weeting probe into phone-hacking, and the Operation Elveden investigation of alleged corrupt payments to police and public servants by journalists. These are the second and third arrests as part of Tuleta investigations. They relate to suspected offences under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 and Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. The men are not believed to be journalists or police officers. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: 'These arrests are not directly linked to any news organisation or the activities of journalists.' The Hertfordshire arrest took place at about 07:30 on Friday, and the detained man is in custody at a west London police station. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers has said Operation Tuleta is looking into 'allegations that private investigators hacked into computers for private information on behalf of journalists.' There were fifty seven separate allegations of data intrusion - computer hacking, and hacking of medical and other confidential records - being investigated, Akers said. Some related to Met Police inquiries going back as far as the late-1980s, she told the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics. Last November, a fifty two-year-old man was detained in Milton Keynes in the first arrest by Tuleta investigators. A total of thirty eight people have now been arrested as part of the three linked inquiries. Thirty-four of these remain on police bail.

Rupert Murdoch's News International has been accused of preparing to delete e-mails as fresh allegations of phone-hacking against the Scum of the World emerged in 2009 and 2010. Court documents filed by victims of voicemail interception claim that the UK newspaper publisher allegedly put in place an 'e-mail deletion policy' in November 2009, which aimed to 'eliminate in a consistent manner' e-mails 'that could be unhelpful in the context of future litigation.' Phone-hacking is primarily thought to have occurred at the Scum of the World between 2002 and 2006, when a range of high-profile people were targeted. The Gruniad claims that an unnamed executive at News Group Newspapers, publisher of the Scum of the World, apparently 'demanded' progress on the 'e-mail deletion policy' in 2010, while News International also destroyed 'all computers used by its journalists' in around October 2010, according to the claimants. This included a machine used by a reporter named specifically in the hacking case brought by the actress Sienna Miller. In January 2011, the e-mails on News International's archive system up to 30 September 2007, were apparently deleted, according to witness statement issued by the company's new chief information officer. Details of the alleged e-mail deletion activity were revealed in court documents of hacking legal cases released to the Gruniad. If true, it would have taken place just as the first major accusations of widespread phone-hacking started to appear against the Scum of the World. The Gruniad ran its first exposé of phone-hacking in July 2009, claiming that thousands of people may have been targeted before the arrest of the paper's former royal editor Clive Goodman and the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire in 2006. News International has faced accusations that it launched a deliberate cover-up of phone-hacking, while the former Scum of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck accused the newspaper publisher last December of 'withholding information' about 'the extent of wrongdoing.' Last month, the High Court heard that 'senior employees and directors' at News Group Newspapers had 'sought to conceal phone-hacking' by 'destroying evidence of wrongdoing,' which 'included a very substantial number of e-mails.' Specific requests for alleged deletion of e-mails is said to have come after News International received a letter dated 6 September 2010, from Ms Miller's legal team that called for 'all relevant documents and e-mails' to be 'preserved' by the company. Three days later, an employee in News International's technology department allegedly wrote: 'If the deletion need [sic] to wait until tomorrow, then that is fine. There is a senior NI management requirement to delete this data as quickly as possible but it need to be done with commercial boundaries.'

A pub landlady has won her court battle with the English Premier League over the use of a foreign satellite TV decoder to show games to her customers. Karen Murphy was forced to pay fines and costs of almost eight thousand smackers after the League launched legal proceedings against her for using a Greek TV decoder service in her Portsmouth pub. However, Murphy then took her case to the European Court of Justice, which found in her favour. In a landmark ruling last October the ECJ said that national laws prohibiting the import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards were 'contrary to the freedom to provide services and cannot be justified either in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by the objective of encouraging the public to attend football stadiums.' The case has been closely watched because it could trigger a major change in the way television rights to football are sold across Europe, potentially opening the door for foreign broadcasts to be offered in UK commercial businesses. Murphy was prosecuted by the Premier League six years ago for showing live football in her Red White and Blue pub, but without paying the around eight hundred quid-a-month subscription to Sky. It is understood that the Greek service she was using cost just eight hundred smackers a year. Following the ECJ ruling last year, the High Court said this week that Murphy's appeal over using the foreign decoder to bypass getting a Sky subscription must be allowed. The ruling means that all sides have conceded that Murphy's conviction should not stand. However, the judge admitted that 'other issues' regarding the broader legality of screening matches would have to be decided 'at a later date.' This is thought to refer to the ruling that the Premier League does not hold copyright over actual football matches, but it does own the opening video sequences, the Premier League anthem and pre-recorded highlights or graphics. As these were all deemed 'works' by the ECJ, any pubs wanting to show them would require permission from the Premier League. Earlier in the month, the Premier League won a ruling in the High Court enabling it to take legal action against pubs on grounds of breach of copyright. The League took out a civil action against digital box provider QC Suppler and publican SR Leisure Limited, but the case was put on hold after it was referred to the European Court for legal advice, alongside Murphy's case. On 3 February, Lord Justice Kitchin said at the High Court that importers of foreign satellite equipment had breached the Premier League's copyright by allowing pubs to show foreign broadcasts. The Premier League has since issued a series of adverts warning pubs and clubs that they face legal action if they use foreign decoders to show football. The crassly bullying advert said: 'Lord Justice Kitchin's judgement is consistent with the ECJ ruling. 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. We will now resume actions against publicans.'

The great David Morrissey has signed on to star in the third season of AMC's The Walking Dead. Morrissey will play a character known as The Governor, the leader of a group of survivors in a new settlement in Woodbury. The fan-favourite character is known in the comics for his ruthless and sadistic nature, and will be a major villain in upcoming episodes. Morrissey is set to be a regular for the next season of The Walking Dead. True Blood actress Rutina Weasley has been rumoured to also be joining the cast of the zombie drama as Michonne.

Peter Halliday - one of those great British character actors who seem to have once appeared in just about every great series ever made, though he was probably best known for his starring role in the BBC's SF drama A for Andromeda - has died, aged eighty eight. Halliday was born near Llangollen, but his family moved to Welshpool in Powys, and he went on to spend much of the rest of his life there. He enjoyed a career in theatre, film and TV spanning six decades. During that time he worked alongside many acting greats, including Richard Burton and Sir John Gielgud. His funeral will be held in London on Tuesday and a memorial service is planned in Welshpool at a later date. Peter's career started when he joined the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1947 after serving in the army in World War II. His big break came three years later when he joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. It was run by Gielgud and Anthony Quayle, and included a myriad of eminent actors including Burton, Sir Michael Redgrave and Sir Ralph Richardson. In 2007, an exhibition about Halliday called An Actor's Life opened at Powysland Museum in Welshpool, where his son's partner Eva Bredsdorff is curator. Speaking to BBC News at the time about the exhibition, Peter said: 'Richard (Burton) was extraordinarily talented and was great fun. He used to ask me to cover for him and would say: "If anyone asks, I was out with you last night."' Halliday also counted James Bond star Sir Sean Connery as a friend, and knew him before his first Bond movie, Dr No, made him a huge global star. 'We were very close for four or five years, but we haven't seen each other lately,' Peter said in his BBC interview. He is probably best-known for his role as Dr John Fleming in A for Andromeda. The 1962 series also starred Julie Christie, with whom Halliday shared an on-screen kiss. He was joined by Susan Hampshire for the sequel, The Andromeda Breakthrough the following year. Halliday went on to appear in Doctor Who (twenty three episodes over several years, including a memorable turn as the thuggish Packard in the eight-part 1968 Patrick Troughton Cybermen story The Invasion), The Saint, The Avengers, UFO, Take Three Girls, The Hanged Man, The Hidden Truth, Beasts, The Troubleshooters, Man in a Suitcase, The Main Chance, Paul Temple, Colditz, Z Cars, The Flaxton Boys, The Sweeney, The Tripods, Holding On, Our Friends In The North, Hearts and Minds, Goodnight Sweetheart and Dalziel and Pascoe on TV. His movies included Dunkirk, Captain Clegg, Giro City, Virgin Witch, Madhouse, The Swordsman and Sunday Bloody Sunday. He also featured in the Oscar-nominated movie The Remains of the Day. Bredsdorff said: 'Peter enjoyed being an actor and was lucky enough to be doing what he loved doing for most of his life. His career took him around the world and introduced him to interesting and famous people, some of whom became good friends.' In 1956, Peter married the actress Simone Lovell with whom he had three sons. They later divorced, but remained good friends, Bredsdorff added. Speaking about the Powysland Museum exhibition in Welshpool, Halliday said: 'It is excellent to be able to form a part of the history of my home town and look back at where I came from and what I have achieved.' He leaves three sons and five grandchildren.

Eddie Izzard is funding a new sculpture recreating the final scene of The Italian Job. The legendary comic and action transvestite is the principle sponsor of Hang On A Minute Lads, I’ve Got A Great Idea… which will involve balancing a full-sized replica coach, from the roof of the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex. The piece, from artist Richard Wilson and named after Michael Caine's infamous final line in the cult 1969 film, will be on display from 7 July to 1 October. Eddie, who is honorary patron of the theatre, said: '2012 is the year the Olympics and Paralympic Games return to the United Kingdom and I think this is a perfect time to hang a large bus off the edge of a building in a seaside town! By the end of 2012, I would hope that the word goes out from our country that not only do we run excellent world events, but also we balance coaches on the edges of buildings like no one else ever could.' Eddie spent much of his childhood years in 'rock and roll' Bexhill-on-Sea, and last year performed a small run of gigs on the venue's roof. For a laugh. or two, even. The work’s other backers are the Arts Council England Grants For The Arts via the National Lottery and The Henry Moore Foundation.

The Silliest Names in Television. Number Five: Gay Search.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is reminded of The Simpsons' 1994 episode Burns' Heir in which Bart is kidnapped by Monty Burns and brainwashed for forget about his family. Homer hires a deprogrammer who boasts: 'I did get Paul McCartney out of Wings.' To which Homer replies: 'You idiot! He was the most talented one!' Which is probably true although, Linda's minimoog playing on Venus & Mars is a hell of a lot more influential than you might think. Well, it is when I play the minimoog, anyway. Anyway, here's something to shake thy bum to.

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