Thursday, February 02, 2012

Pro-Celebrity Dictatorship

A landmark BBC documentary chronicling the difficult and often stormy relationship since 2000 between the butcher of Grosny Vladimir Putin's resurgent Russia and the west has provoked a furious backlash from Russian exiles in Britain, who have accused the programme-makers of 'bias' towards the Russian leader. The four-part BBC2 series, Putin, Russia and the West, which concludes next week, has already attracted condemnation from dissidents who say it displays an unacceptable 'pro-Putin bias', as well as a 'lack of understanding of Russia's recent history.' The documentary's producer, Norma Percy, and the BBC roundly reject the claims. Percy denies that the series portrays Russia's prime minister in too favourable a light and says that series is 'truly objective' and multi-sided. 'We didn't set out to make a pro- or anti-Putin film,' she said, adding her brief was to focus on international affairs rather than Putin's murky domestic record. Part three of the series is to be screened on Thursday. But in a scathing review of episode one, the renowned Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky said the film came across as 'unequivocally pro-Putin.' Its narrative follows the Kremlin's version of history, and resembles 'nothing less than a party political broadcast for Putin and his United Russia party,' he alleged. Bukovsky, who lives in Cambridge, made his hostile comments last week in a blog for the liberal Moscow radio station Echo Moskvy: 'The documentary makes no attempt to illuminate events critically. It turns out to be an utter apology for Putin and his regime,' he says, adding: 'Putin appears as a solid public figure, who keeps all his promises (to his western partners and to Russia's electorate). If Putin had asked his propagandists to come up with a film they couldn't have done better.' Bukovsky spent twelve years incarcerated in Soviet prisons. He has been living in Britain since 1976. He was a friend of Alexander Litvinenko, murdered in 2006 with radioactive polonium. In 2007 Bukovsky tried unsuccessfully to stand in Russia's presidential election. Bukovsky said he was mystified why BBC licence-payers' money was spent on the film, and called for a parliamentary inquiry. Percy is a renowned documentary film-maker whose previous work includes The Death of Yugoslavia. She is known for her tenacious ability to cajole eminent figures to appear on screen, and has won numerous awards. Paul Mitchell directed Putin, Russia and the West, with Brian Lapping the executive producer. The film includes interviews with more than a hundred people in eight different countries, including the former US secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and the former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Among the Russians are Putin's defence secretary, Sergei Ivanov, and his press spokesman, Dmitry Peskov. Despite initially positive signals from the Kremlin, and months of negotiations, Putin himself refused to appear. Mitchell said reaction from Twitter to the series so far had been overwhelmingly positive, with no complaints that it whitewashed Putin. 'No one said "what a fantastic guy,"' he pointed out. He added that he was saddened by Bukovsky's comments, describing him as 'a saintly figure and a hero of the dissident movement for exposing the Soviet use of psychiatry.' Critics of the series, however, are said to be 'incensed' by an interview with Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's former chief of staff. In it, Powell admits that a spy 'rock' found in a Moscow park was used by British intelligence officers – a claim originally made by Putin in 2006, to the embarrassment of Downing Street. Last month a pro-Kremlin journalist, Arkady Mamontov, used the Powell footage in a thirty-minute programme shown on Russian state television. Mamontov claimed that Russians working for non-governmental organisations were agents of British intelligence – a smear, activists say, to discredit opposition groups. The rock was shown next to Big Ben, together with clips of 'British spies.' Writing in Monday's Moscow Times, the columnist Victor Davidoff said the timing of the Powell revelation was 'suspiciously good for Putin,' following unprecedented protests against his rule and ahead of next month's presidential election. Davidoff also claims that the BBC film has a pro-Putin bias. It omits several crucial episodes, he says, including the mysterious 1999 apartment bombings which paved the way for Putin's rise. More damaging, perhaps, is the link Davidoff draws between the Kremlin's highly paid US PR firm, Ketchum, and the film. The series consultant, Angus Roxburgh, worked for Ketchum between 2006-2009, advising Peskov on how to improve Russia's dire international image. In his book to accompany the series, The Strongman, Roxburgh writes that the Kremlin invariably ignored his advice. Percy told the Gruniad that her production team had hired Roxburgh 'to get a foot in the door,' and to persuade the notoriously suspicious Kremlin that the BBC series would be genuinely fair-minded. He wasn't involved in the editing, she said, adding that the BBC had 'treated the Russian government in exactly the same way as the American government.' Masha Karp, a former editor at the BBC Russian service, complained of 'glaring gaps' in the overall narrative, with Putin's savage polices in Chechnya glossed over. The series only delves into the 'grave matter of Russian politics' with the story of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the billionaire oligarch jailed after defying Putin, she says. Karp continues: 'The contrast between the high level of professionalism in the film-making and the lack of understanding of Russia's recent history is striking. There are dozens of deviations from the historical truth, or rather slight distortions. Taken together these steadily add up to create an image of Putin that will by no means be unpleasant to him, and will be quite useful to those in the west who would like to justify their support for him.' Percy, however, insists her subject was Russia's international role during the Putin period, rather than the dynamics of Russia's often depressing internal politics. She rejects Karp's comparison that it's as if the BBC had made a series called Gaddafi, Libya and the West, interviewing only Gaddafi's cronies and loyal advisers. She said: 'It's like making a programme about Gaddafi but before the Arab spring. When the Russian spring happens you talk to the Russian opposition. We show the state in action. We don't use phrases like "mafia state."'
Private investigator and convicted phone-hacking scum Glenn Mulcaire has lost his appeal against two court orders that may force him to reveal exactly who ordered him to hack phones. A High Court panel heard the appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice in November but had reserved its judgement until this week. Mulcaire had appealed to try to avoid having to answer questions in civil proceedings which could incriminate him. After the judgement was handed down, he issued a statement saying he would now take his case to the Supreme Court. Mulcaire said he was pleased the court had recognised the 'long-standing common law privilege against self-incrimination' in its ruling. 'Though it considered that the Act Senior Courts Act 1981 removed my privilege in these two cases, the Court of Appeal considered the arguments put forward on my behalf in great detail in its judgement,' his statement said. 'I intend to appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court because this may affect my right to claim the privilege in other civil cases still being brought against me.' In their ruling, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger, and Lord Justice Maurice Kay refused Mulcaire permission to appeal. But the judges granted a stay until 17:00 GMT on Monday 6 February pending an application for permission to the Supreme Court itself. Currently if questioned, Mulcaire would have to explain how he obtained voicemail numbers and passwords and who provided the details. Mulcaire was jailed in January 2007 for six months along with the Scum of the World's royal correspondent Clive Goodman for illegally accessing voicemails of members of the royal household. At the time he surrendered notebooks to the police containing information about phone-hacking. Comedian Steve Coogan and PR consultant Nicola Phillips, a former employee of the publicist Max Clifford, have since launched civil privacy cases against News International, the publisher of the now defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid. Mulcaire was contracted to the former newspaper to undertake 'research assignments' from at least September 2001.

The Times is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police over allegations of e-mail hacking at the newspaper, it has emerged. It is understood that police are probing recent claims that a former reporter of the Rupert Murdoch-owned paper hacked into the e-mail of an anonymous blogger known as Nightjack. Labour MP Tom Watson (power to the people!) submitted a complaint to deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers calling on Scotland Yard to look into the allegations. Writing on his Twitter feed, Watson said: 'The Met police have confirmed to me they are investigating Rupert Murdoch's newspaper The Times over e-mail hacking.' Last month, The Times editor James Harding told the Leveson inquiry into press ethics and standards that a former reporter at the paper had been given a written warning for accessing a Hotmail e-mail account, believed to be for the story on Nightjack. In his written statement, Harding said: 'There was an incident where the newsroom was concerned that a reporter had gained unauthorised access to an e-mail account. When it was brought to my attention, the journalist faced disciplinary action. The reporter believed he was seeking to gain information in the public interest but we took the view he had fallen short of what was expected of a Times journalist. He was issued with a formal written warning for professional misconduct.' It is thought that the reporter was graduate trainee Patrick Foster, who had correctly guessed answers to security questions for the anonymous Hotmail account operated by Lancashire police detective Richard Horton. Horton's blog had won the Orwell prize for disclosing details of the life of a serving policeman, but it was shut down after he was 'outed' by The Times in a June 2009 article. The article had claimed that Foster 'deduced' the identity of Nightjack. He was later dismissed from the paper 'following an unrelated incident', and has since worked freelance for the Gruniad and the Daily Torygraph. In his letter to the Metropolitan Police, which was also sent to the Attorney General, Watson said: 'It is clear that a crime has been committed - illicit hacking of personal e-mails. A journalist and unnamed managers failed to report the crime to their proprietor or the police. I must ask that you investigate computer hacking at The Times. In so doing you will also be able to establish whether perjury or conspiracy to pervert the course of justice have also occurred.' It is thought that the investigation is part of Operation Tuleta, the Met Police's probe into allegations of e-mail hacking by newspapers. This is running alongside the Operation Weeting investigation into phone-hacking.

Denise Welch has said that Natalie Cassidy's departure left her 'feeling down' in the final week of Celebrity Big Brother. And we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for her? It was your decision to go in there in the first place, hinny.

Alex Kingston has hinted that River Song could return to Doctor Who. The actress, who will appear in the new series of Upstairs Downstairs, told talk show host Graham Norton that she may resume her Who role. 'You may see her again. Who knows?' she teased. 'Let's just say, Upstairs Downstairs and Doctor Who don't film at the same time.' Kingston also admitted that she had known 'for a very long time' that her character was secretly the daughter of Amy Pond (Karen Gillan). 'I knew for the whole of the last series,' she confessed. '[The other actors] didn't know and they were constantly trying to get it out of me. They discovered it in that episode [A Good Man Goes To War] when they read the script.'

Actor Sir David Jason has said he doubts that his classic sitcom Only Fools and Horses can be a success when it is remade for a US audience. 'They can do brilliant comedy [in America] but I don't see that they can bring off Fools and Horses,' he said. 'I don't see that it will travel across the pond.' The ABC network is to make a pilot for a US version of the series. Sir David was speaking in Huddersfield, where he is directing a pilot for a sitcom called Pearly Gates. The actor played Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses from 1981 to 2003. When asked who should recreate his most famous role, Sir David suggested: 'You would never get him because he's too big but I'd go for Johnny Depp because he's such a good actor.' The exploits of the hapless wheeler-dealer Del Boy and his put-upon brother Rodney made them comedy favourites in the UK, but Jason said he was not convinced that a show with such a British sense of humour could translate. 'It might work but you've got to change it so much that, in the change, in order to Americanise it, do you lose the whole concept of the piece?' Jason said. 'The language will have to change so much and there will be so many parts of the storyline you have to change. It's so London and so British, [in] its humour, that you wonder. It's London based and it took quite a long time for the rest of the country to catch up with the phrases. I have no idea what the American equivalent of "plonker" is, for example. Or "dipstick."' There have been international remakes, including Wat Schuift't? in The Netherlands and Brat Bratu in Slovenia, where Del Boy's three-wheel Reliant Robin car became a camper van. Meanwhile, Sir David has - finally - admitted that his latest comedy The Royal Bodyguard, which finished its flop six-episode series on BBC1 on Monday, wholly failed to hit the target. The show, in which seventy one-year-old played a bumbling royal protection officer, was panned by critics and saw its audience drop from 8.4 million for the first episode on Boxing Day to an overnight of 2.8 million on Monday. 'You can't get it right all the time,' he said. 'We tried, we had a good go, we enjoyed doing it, and yeah, perhaps I think we didn't quite bring it off and it came in for quite a lot of harsh criticism. But there you are - if you don't put your head above the parapet you won't get it shot off. You've got to do that occasionally.' In Pearly Gates, Jason is directing The Fast Show's Mark Williams in a comedy about a family firm of undertakers. The pilot episode will be screened for BBC executives, who will then decide whether to order a full series for BBC1.

Now, here's a funny thing, dear blog reader. A list of the worst AI scores for week-ending 29 January:
Daybreak ITV, Tue 24 Jan, 68
Daybreak ITV, Wed 25 Jan, 68
Daybreak ITV, Fri 27 Jan, 68
Daybreak ITV, Thu 26 Jan, 69
Daybreak ITV, Mon 23 Jan, 70
In life, some things change. And other things remain reliably consistent. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping was recently asked 'Do you still take as much pleasure in the Daybreak numbers now the presenters have changed?' To which the reply is, obviously, yes. If not more so. Kicking a dog when it's down is great fun. Kicking a dog when it's trying to get back up is even funnier.

BBC Breakfast issued an on-air apology after the stand-up Dave Fulton said 'wanker' on Wednesday morning's programme. The American comedian was appearing along with Mitch Benn to discuss the proposed US remake of Only Fools and Horses and the differences between US and UK sitcoms. Breakfast host Bill Turnbull began the discussion by asking: 'How would you say "lovely jubbly" in an American accent?', to which Fulton replied: 'you wouldn't because it's like me saying wanker or something.' Co-host Sian Williams hastily interjected: 'No, no, that was a swearword and apologies to anyone who was offended by that.' A shocked Fulton said: 'Is that a swearword? Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry.' The BBC later added: 'Unfortunately, a guest used a swearword live on-air this morning. Both Sian and Bill apologised immediately and again at the end of the interview. We are sorry for any offence caused.' Fulton has lived and worked in the UK for many years – with Edinburgh shows going back more than a decade – but had tweeted beforehand: 'Off to do BBC1 Breakfast show with jetlag and not nearly enough coffee in me.' Benn managed to announce his forthcoming novel but reflected ruefully on Twitter that he'd been upstaged by 'the w-bomb.' The word 'wanker' is generally unknown in the US although it does occasionally turn up in some unlikely places if the writers are anglophiles. An episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for instance. Two episodes of The Simpsons containing the word were censored before broadcast by Sky in the UK, but Channel Four was forced to apologise in 2008 when an episode featuring guest star Adam Clayton out of The U2 Group and Montgomery Burns using the word went out, unedited, at 6pm. Personally, this blogger doesn't consider wanker to be any more than a very mild cuss in the same way that prat, or berk or glake is. And anybody who thinks it is a swear word is a right tosser and a bell-end. So there.

EastEnders character Sharon Watts is to return to Albert Square after an absence of six years. It will be actress Letitia Dean's third comeback to Walford since the show began in 1985. The forty four-year-old, one of the soap's original characters, was last seen on the square in 2006, when her husband Dennis Rickman died. A key character in the BBC1 show, she is best known for her relationships with the Mitchell brothers. The former Queen Victoria landlady was married to Grant Mitchell, but later had an affair with Phil, which prompted her first departure from the series in 1994. In 2001 she returned for three years, during which time she took over the pub from her adoptive parents, Angie and Den Watts. The character's last return was in 2005, but she bowed out after Dennis was stabbed to death. The storyline surrounding Sharon's return has not yet been announced, but Dean said she was 'looking forward to being part of the EastEnders team again.' She added: 'It has always been very close to my heart. I cannot wait to work with my old colleagues and see what is in store for Sharon.' Executive producer Bryan Kirkwood said: 'I'm thrilled that Letitia is coming back home to Albert Square where she belongs. Sharon is a real favourite amongst EastEnders' fans and I, for one, can't wait until she arrives back in the summer.'

A cash-strapped council has scored an own goal by taking tenants to see the new Muppets film to 'help them with money issues', according to the Sun and the Torygraph. Meanwhile, the Muppets themselves have hit back at criticism by FOX News that they are pushing a Communist political agenda. At a London press conference Kermit the Frog said: 'That's categorically not true. And besides, if we had a problem with oil companies, why would we have spent the entire film driving around in a gas-guzzling Rolls-Royce?' Miss Piggy added: 'It's almost as laughable as accusing FOX News of, you know, being news.'

And speaking of being strapped for cash, Keira Knightley has suggested that only the British have taken such a keen interest in the sadomasochistic scenes in her new film A Dangerous Method. In the film she plays psycho-analyst Carl Jung's patient and lover, Sabina Spielrein, and appears topless, tied to a bed while Michael Fassbender, who plays Jung, spanks her. Hard. Well, we've all fantasised about doing that, be fair. She said: 'I did think about turning it down because of the two scenes of a sadomasochistic nature and I thought it's all going to come out and all of a sudden it's all going to all be about that. And weirdly, apart from this country, it hasn't been, so that's been really great. In England it's got mentioned all the time. I don't know what that says about us! We obviously like spanking.' Obviously.

Robert Webb has tweeted that the remaining three episodes of The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff will be broadcast on the BBC 'from later this month.'

Timothy Spall and Jennifer Saunders have signed up for roles in BBC1's new comedy Blandings. The six-part series is based on the work of PG Wodehouse, who wrote several stories about a fictional estate called Blandings Castle. Spall will play Lord Clarence Emsworth, the master of the Castle, while Saunders will star as his sister Connie. Guy Andrews, who will write and appear in the show, described Blandings Castle as 'dysfunction junction, the home of a chaotic family struggling to keep itself in order. For any writer, it is the rarest privilege imaginable to have Wodehouse legitimately available as source material instead of just stealing from him as we usually do,' he said. Saunders is currently working on a movie adaptation of her hit comedy Absolutely Fabulous, while Spall recently filmed a guest spot for Sky1's upcoming drama Sinbad. Blandings, which is set in 1929, will be filmed in Northern Ireland.

Chris Pine has said that British actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Alice Eve have been settling in well on the set of the Star Trek sequel. The thirty one-year-old actor, who plays Captain Kirk in JJ Abrams's film reboot, took time out of filming the blockbuster to attend the premiere of his latest film, This Means War. And he revealed that filming so far has been 'fantastic', and that his new co-stars are fitting in well. Pine commented: 'They're getting on great. We have a really good, warm, inclusive group from the first one and I think everybody's kind of getting the hang of things and fitting in quite nicely.' After being announced as a cast member in January, Cumberbatch said: 'It's a great job to get, and I'm thrilled.' He added: 'I'm hugely, hugely excited and I'm very, very flattered. I'm very, very excited. I'm just getting my head around the fact that it's happened. My headline is that I'm over the moon.' Cumberbatch and Eve are not the only British actors among the cast - Simon Pegg is reprising his role as engineer Scotty, while former Doctor Who actor Noel Clarke is reported to be playing 'a family man with a wife and young daughter.'

Seven comic book prequels based on the celebrated 1986 series Watchmen are to be produced by DC Comics - without the participation of its original creators. Neither writer Alan Moore nor artist Dave Gibbons will be involved in the prequels, to be collectively referred to as Before Watchmen. So, they're not going to be worth the paper they're print on, in that case. Set in an alternate version of Twentieth Century America, Watchmen told of a group of crime-fighting vigilantes. A Hollywood film version, directed by Zack Snyder, was released in 2009. Each prequel will focus on a different character or set of characters from the original series, which became the best-selling comic of all time when published in a single collection. It will mark the first time the likes of Rorschach, Doctor Manhattan, Nite Owl and Ozymandias will have been seen outside of its pages. 'It's our responsibility as publishers to find new ways to keep all of our characters relevant,' said Dan DiDio and Jim Lee of DC Entertainment. 'After twenty five years, the Watchmen are classic characters whose time has come for new stories to be told.' In a statement, Gibbons said the original series of Watchmen was 'the complete story that Alan Moore and I wanted to tell. However, I appreciate DC's reasons for this initiative and the wish of the artists and writers involved to pay tribute to our work.' Moore was significantly less receptive, telling the New York Times he thought the venture 'completely shameless. I tend to take this latest development as a kind of eager confirmation that they are still apparently dependent on ideas that I had twenty five years ago,' he said. as Pop Will Wat Itself once, so wisely, noted: 'Alan Moore knows that score.'

Gary Oldman has won his first acting award in more than two decades for his role in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Oldman was voted best British film star in a public vote at the annual Richard Attenborough Regional Film Awards. 'This is the first prize for acting in a specific performance that I've received in over twenty years and that makes it all the more special,' the actor said in a statement. Tinker Tailor was also named British film of the year. Oldman, who plays spymaster George Smiley, received his first ever Oscar nomination last week and is up for best actor at the BAFTAs. His critics' award was accepted by Tinker Tailor screenwriter Peter Straughan, who won the best screenplay prize with his late wife and writing partner Bridget O'Connor. O'Connor died before filming began and the finished film is dedicated to her. Straughan said: 'I'm thrilled that Bridget and I have won this award - especially as it is associated with such a great filmmaker and voted for by so many critics and writers from all around the country. It means a great deal to me and is a wonderful tribute to my late wife's work.'

Transfer deadline day normally brings drama for football fans, as players are seen rushing off for medicals and being driven to football grounds in the dead of night to put pen to paper. However, Tuesday night's Premiership game between Everton and league leaders Sheikh Yer ManCity made headlines for different reasons as an unusual protest took place. Around forty minutes into the first half of the match a spectator took to the pitch and handcuffed himself to one of the goalposts. Fans at Goodison Park and TV viewers soon saw him surrounded by security staff, police officers and players including Everton captain Phil Neville. The man, named locally as forty six-year-old John Foley, is believed to have been protesting against airline Ryanair's alleged treatment of his daughter. Foley's previous protests against Ryanair have taken place at Liverpool's Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cheltenham racecourse and John Lennon Airport. An extract from the match report on Everton's official website read: 'Bolt cutters were used to remove the offender, who was roundly booed as he was escorted from the ground. It transpired that the supporter is a known professional protester, allegedly protesting about an airline's recruitment policy. He was arrested by Merseyside Police, who are now dealing with the matter.' Merseyside Police confirmed that a forty six-year-old man from Southport was arrested for pitch invasion following the incident, and had been taken to a police station for questioning. Everton won the match 1-0, as former Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson scored his first goal for the club.

Meanwhile, twenty four hours later a Scott Dann own goal and a stoppage time effort by Gabriel Obertan sent yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Newcastle fifth in the Premiership while increasing Blackburn Vindaloo's relegation worries. Ryan Taylor's twelfth minute shot took a heavy deflection off defender Dann and left keeper Paul Robinson helpless. But Rovers were wasteful, not least when David Dunn had a first half penalty saved by Tim Krul after Danny Simpson fouled Anthony Modeste. The Magpies' Leon Best headed against his own bar before substitute Obertan sealed victory in the dying moments putting yer actual Toon fifth in the league.

Cheeky Cock-er-knee geezer and the tabloid's favourite Harry Redknapp has admitted in court to lying to a Scum of the World reporter but strenuously denied that he is a complete crook. Sounds like a perfectly reasonable explanation. He said that he had lied to Rob Beasley about the source of payments to his Monaco bank account because he did not want negative stories appearing about him ahead of a cup final. Redknapp denies allegations that one hundred and eighty nine thousand smackers paid into his account was a bonus for profits on transfers while he was employed by Portsmouth FC. The Stottingtot Hotshot boss said: 'I have to tell police the truth, not Mr Beasley - he's a News of the World reporter.' Redknapp told Southwark Crown Court that the reason he gave the journalist incorrect information was to prevent a story appearing in the Scum of the World ahead of Tottenham's appearance in the 2009 League Cup final against Manchester United. When asked by the prosecution why he referred to payments as bonuses he was due for the sale of striker Peter Crouch from Portsmouth to Aston Villa, Redknapp told the court: 'I wanted to make the point to Mr Beasley that it was paid by my chairman.' He added that he 'referred to it to [Beasley] many times as my Crouch bonus' as 'Crouch is an easy answer.' Redknapp told the court: 'I just want to get Mr Beasley out the way - I just didn't want a story in the paper. I was going to come down to breakfast and all my players were going to be looking at the back page of the News of the World. It was going to be embarrassing.' John Black QC, for the prosecution, accused Redknapp of 'letting the cat out of the bag' during the phone conversation with Beasley. Redknapp replied: 'Why would I let the cat out of the bag to the News of the World if I had done anything wrong?' The Stottingtot Hotshots manager is on trial alongside his former employer at Portsmouth, the club's ex-chairman Milan Mandaric. Both deny cheating the public revenue. A day earlier, Redknapp had lost his cool with a dramatic outburst at a police office. The Spurs manager, halted his evidence at London's Southwark Crown Court to tell detective David Manley: 'Will you stop staring at me. I know you are trying to cause me a problem.' After apologising to Judge Anthony Leonard for the outburst Redknapp continued to give evidence. Redknapp also told his trial he could not remember moving one hundred thousand dollars from his off-shore account - because he was worrying about David Beckham. Which, again, we've all done at one time or another, innit? The trial continues.

The creator of the long-running US TV show Soul Train has shot himself at his Los Angeles home, police said. Don Cornelius, seventy five, was pronounced dead on Wednesday morning after police answered reports of gunshots at his home. Soul Train began in Chicago in 1970 but was broadcast nationally from 1971 to 2006, showcasing artists such as Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Barry White. Cornelius stepped down as host of the hit show in 1993. Soul Train came to prominence in the years after the cultural and political upheaval of the civil rights movement. It was credited with helping to tear down racial barriers, bringing black music into the cultural mainstream and showcasing soul and funk to a national audience. The show brought new dance moves, fashion and hair styles to their audiences. 'I'm trying to avoid saying there was no television for black folks, which they knew was for them,"'Cornelius said of the show in 2006. Initially, the show was seen by some as a black answer to American Bandstand, a music show presented by Dick Clark. American Bandstand sometimes featured very mainstream African-American artists, but Soul Train created a platform for black artists who might not have had the opportunity to appear on other shows. Soul Train remained popular long after black musicians became part of mainstream music and culture in the US. 'I figured as long as the music stayed hot and important and good, that there would always be a reason for Soul Train,' Cornelius added. Cornelius was awarded a place in the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 1995 and has a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood. Paying tribute to him, music producer Quincy Jones said: 'Don was a visionary pioneer and a giant in our business. Before MTV there was Soul Train, that will be the great legacy of Don Cornelius. His contributions to television, music and our culture as a whole will never be matched.' The civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton said in a statement from New York: 'I have known him since I was nineteen years old and James Brown had me speak on Soul Train. [Cornelius] brought soul music and dance to the world in a way that it had never been shown and he was a cultural game changer on a global level.' In 2009 Cornelius was sentenced to probation for three years on charges of physical abuse in his marriage. During his divorce case that same year it emerged that he also suffered from health problems.

A prison convict in Sweden has demanded holiday time from being behind bars. Natalia Pshenkina, thirty one, is held at a facility in Ystad and currently has a job inside the prison, reports national tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet. Having started in February 2010, the prisoner believes that she is owed holiday for nearly two years of work. Pshenkina filed a complaint putting forward her argument that people working in Sweden have the right to take twenty five days off a year, by law. She stated: 'I've asked the head of production about which times during the year the prison allows vacation time for inmates. The answer was that prison doesn't have any vacation time at all.' However, a spokesman for the prison and probation service in Sweden clarified the situation and said: '[Prisoners] aren't employed by us and therefore, laws about vacation time don't apply.' Pshenkina was handed a life sentence for the 2005 murder of her former boyfriend.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, today, we're going back to where it all began. Shake them hips, boy.

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