Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Scar Tissue

There was a fair old degree of hype surrounding this week's House episode - Nobody's Fault - over, firstly, the casting of Jeffrey Wright and, secondly, a show executive's suggestion that everyone would be 'forever affected' by the events of drama. A conceit well-executed and with another exceptional performance from Hugh Laurie, what we got was a worthwhile and unusually structured episode which opened with slow motion pan around patient room in Princeton Plainsboro; a red palm print on the wall, a blood-spattered patient chart, a syringe and hospital equipment turned upside down. Something not at all good had gone on in this place. As if to emphasise the 'special' nature of the episode, it continues without the usual opening credits. Told mainly in flashback, Wright plays Walter Cofield, in charge of a disciplinary hearing to determine the fate of House's career after something has gone horribly wrong in his latest case. Though what happened is not immediately revealed, it was fascinating to see Cofield attempt to tear down House's diagnostic process whilst the maverick doctor himself does his best to defend his methods with his usual arsenal of cynical humour, bluff, evasion and downright unpleasantness. Though chemistry teacher Bill Koppelman (played David Anders) is the patient of the week (he starts off with paralysis, then coughing up blood and showing signs of psychosis), the hearing is actually taking place in the aftermath of Chase being stabbed in the heart with a scalpel by the patient. Adams and Taub played vital parts in, subsequently, saving Chase's life, but the incident brings up the question of whether House was responsible - directly or indirectly - for it. Was his earlier prank of messing with Chase's shampoo to give him orange hair 'reckless'? And did it make Chase more determined to be 'right' than usual when he entered the room - even knowing that the patient could be psychotic? House's other methods were analysed - for instance, avoiding patients, encouraging mistrust among his team and torturing his colleagues with a stink bomb to get them to come up with instantaneous theories. Whether Foreman gives House the benefit of the doubt too often (as Cuddy often did) is also touched upon. Or was it all just, as House insists, one of those things? 'My process is proven. Good things usually happen, bad things sometimes happen. It was nobody's fault.' House naturally stands by the actions he took in the entire case, putting Chase's stabbing down to mere 'disobedience.' He's seen by Cofield as rather heartless in that he appears unaffected by the life-threatening injuries to a friend. Or, at least, someone who is as close as a friend to House as he'll ever have (Wilson aside - interestingly, Robert Sean Leonard doesn't appear at all in this episode). House, Cofield learns, only wants to diagnose the patient, but we've seen enough already in the series to know that really, he cares underneath all the emotional baggage. This is never more obvious than when he finally visits Chase undergoing physical recovery therapy (he had lost use of his legs due to a blood clot) and apologises. He claims fault. It's a rare moment of sincerity and it works brilliantly. On the record, though, Cofield declares that it was, indeed, 'nobody's fault.' He had actually been planning to send House back to prison for parole violation, but a last-minute intervention by the patient's wife (Audrey Marie Anderson) - who thanks House for saving Bill's life - causes him to change his mind. House is annoyed, calling Cofield 'a coward,' but in Cofield's mind, the ends justify the means. He believes the process is dangerous but effective, while House counters that the outcome doesn't change whether or not he did the right thing. It's a great episode and it remind us, even eight years in, that House still has things worth saying.

'As a child, I suffered from anxiety-related eczema. Such a child is not always a popular one. "Too needy" said my mother, adding that it was no wonder I had no friends. But I did have friends, they were right here in that flicking blue box that smelled of valves and unsafe wiring.' One wonders if, perhaps, there were some people who watched BBC4's The Cricklewood Greats over the weekend and didn't realise that it was a spoof? I kind of hope there would be, actually, so brilliant was Peter Capaldi's clever deconstruction not only of the British film industry but, also, of sometimes arse-numblingly pretentious proper BBC4 documentaries about the British film industry! Yer actual Keith Telly Topping can easily imagine some viewers stumbling across Capaldi's story of the 'legendary' Cricklewood Studios and nodding sagely as it told the 'terribly sad' tale of how the studios have been bulldozed and turned into a DIY store. How one of their mega-star actresses disappeared because she got pally with Hitler. It couldn't be a spoof, could it? Terry Gilliam was in it, after all, talking about his infamous big-budget flop Professor Hypochondria's Magical Odyssey which destroyed the company in the early 1980s. This had to be for real, surely? They should have looked out for the clues, including the big Scottish one wittering on about his 'personal journey of discovery.' Capaldi, who co-wrote, directed and presented The Cricklewood Greats in between shooting a new series of The Thick of It. As if Malcolm Tucker his very self is cuddly enough to get all misty-eyed and nostalgic about the sadly forgotten Thumbs Up films (the Cricklewood equivalent of Carry On, with piss-yer-pants funny titles such as Thumbs Up Uranus).
Capaldi did a convincing job, talking us through the tragic stories of Cricklewood's forgotten stars with an earnestness familiar from many actual BBC4 documentaries. The 'archive' footage was jolly well done - like the entirely fictional fallen star Florrie Fontaine (Lyndsey Marshall), a chirpy, foghorn-voiced Gracie Fields-like Northern lass who, thanks to making one hundred and forty one films in eight years, became the sweetheart of 1930s British cinema. Florrie's story was, of course, terribly sad – she was beaten by her husband ('he threw her down the stairs. He threw her up the stairs once!' Florrie's elderly sister confided) but she was adored by the nation. Until, that is, she cosied up with Goebbels, dyed her hair Aryan-blonde and became the culotte-wearing darling of Nazi cinema instead. When, after the war, she returned to London, she was booed everywhere she went, and so fled to Benidorm to run a Bierkeller. Although the programme was mocking film geeks who get sweaty-palmed and breathless when they get within ten feet of a bowler hat once worn by someone who met Charlie Chaplin, those geeks will, hopefully, have seen the funny side of this affectionate parody. However, they might have also seen a little too much of themselves in Tim Dempsey (fellow The Thick of It star Alex MacQueen), proud owner of the world's biggest collection of Cricklewood memorabilia, who took Capaldi on an emotional trip (we knew it was emotional because there was a Coldplay song soundtracking it) to the former site of the studios, now a branch of Wickes. The gushing enthusiasm of the two men as they tried to ignore the displays of energy-saving light bulbs and kitchen floor tiles and sniff out some element of cinematic ghostliness was fantastic ('There's an atmosphere. An energy. It's coming off those tiles') as people wandered by with their shopping. As Capaldi and the memorabilia buff fondly remembered Harold the Hobo, a silent slapstick hit for the studio, the latter carefully unwrapped his greatest treasure: a crushed bowler hat that once belonged to studio head and chief star Arthur Simm. Indeed, he was wearing it when he died, we were told – a piece of information that was given added perspective by a sudden cut to a clip of Simm's last film, Steamroller Joe. 'Is that blood?' Capaldi asked warily, pointing at a stain. 'Human tissue of some kind,' confirmed MacQueen, with a completist's relish for authenticity. The mockumentary also parodied, with quite stunning accuracy, entire movie genres (Chaplin shorts, Hammer's entire oeuvre, the Powell and Pressburger technicolour masterpieces of post-war years, the previously mentioned Love on the Dole-style thirties feel-good movies and the Carry Ons) as well as specific movies. There were nods to Le Voyage Dans La Lune, Performance, Blow Up, Marat/Sade, The Quatermass Xperiment and Hands of the Ripper among many others.
Oddly, given that Capaldi is currently starring in a stage version of The Ladykillers, they pretty much left Ealing alone, preferring to target Hammer, Gainsborough and Associated Talking Pictures, which produced Gracie Fields's pictures, here refigured as Florrie Fontaine, whose films included Clog Capers of 1932 and Dial F for Florrie. In its look at the Thumbs Up movies, The Cricklewood Greats told the story of Jenny Driscoll (played, marvellously in a Babs Windsor style, by Hustle's Kelly Adams). Of her tragic attempts to break the mold and escape typecasting and the disintegration of her career to the point where she couldn't even get the job of Olive on On The Buses (mind you, neither could Judi Dench!) She died in 1980 with her head in the oven. 'The coroner suggested it might have just been "homework" for a kitchen cleaning commercial that went tragically wrong' Capaldi was informed by the earnest Tim Demspey. We also got extracts from the diaries of the 'complex' Gerry Pollock, which parodied the style of The Kenneth Williams Diaries with chilling accuracy: 'A new girl turned up at Cricklewood today, very sweet and innocent, not yet diseased by the tartiness of the others who clucked and courted around her like the rouge, the syphilitic old brothel keepers they are. Bags. Oh what another bucket of faecal matter this picture is. The new child's name is Jenny. I love her. Had to stop filming as I, literally, had a pain in the arse. Discovered my knickers had gone right up my crack. We both screamed with laughter until it occurred to me it may be bowel cancer. Maudlin all day. Jenny brought me a Toblerone. How thoughtful. I sucked it off lasciviously then went home and wept with self-loathing.' Some of the silliest and most obviously spoofy touches were also the funniest, such as the various faux film titles mentioned in passing – The Flying Pie, Woman-Saurus-Rex, Thumbs Up Her Majesty's Pleasure and, most of all, Acton Film's low-budget 1970s swansong The Devil's Chutney. Expect Mark Gatiss to be producing a three-part documentary on that one as we speak!
Mick Aston, the archaeologist, has quit Time Team after producers hired a former model as the programme's co-presenter. A year after they hired her, that is. Something very funny about this story. The sixty five-year-old, who has been on the show for nineteen years, said that he had been left 'really angry' by changes which led to the introduction of co-presenter Mary-Ann Ochota and some archaeologists being axed. In an interview with the magazine British Archaeology, Professor Aston, the show's former site director, said: 'The time had come to leave. I never made any money out of it, but a lot of my soul went into it. I feel really, really angry about it.' He was responding to changes first proposed by producers at Channel Four in late 2010, which included a new presenter to join Tony Robinson and decisions to 'cut down the informative stuff about the archaeology.' An e-mail to archaeologists last year from Wildfire Television, which makes the programme, said that it was seeking a female co-presenter who 'does not have to be overly experienced or knowledgeable as we have plenty of expertise within the existing team.' Though Professor Aston appeared with the new recruits in the current series - filmed throughout last year - he will not join the twentieth series, which starts filming in April. 'Whatever happened, we'd all thought, we'll complete the twentieth series. It feels very sad that I shan't do that. I'm not proud of Time Team, it hasn't worked,' Aston added. He went on to compare the reshuffle at Time Team to the changes at the BBC's Countryfile in 2008, which introduced younger presenters and, he said, reduced it to 'cliché-ridden pap.' Ochota, incidentally, holds a master's degree in archaeology and anthropology from Cambridge University. She has also previously done modelling work, including shoots for Special K.

Last night's episode of Prisoners' Wives rose above five million viewers on BBC1, according to overnight data. The drama series took a more than decent 5.02m, building on last week's audience, to help the channel dominate primetime on Tuesday night. ITV's thoroughly odious The Exit List continued to struggle from 8pm with a miserable 1.71m, beaten not only by Holby City (5.7m on BBC1) but also by BBC2's Alex Polizzi: The Fixer with 2.56m. The Biggest Loser followed The Exit List, attracting an equally risible 2.4m. Tuesday really has been a disaster of a night for ITV over the last couple of months and, as previously noted, never have two programmes been more aptly named than The Exit List and The Biggest Loser. The ONE Show's episode live from Buckingham Palace averaged 5.9m. EastEnders was the highest rating overnight with 8.6m. Overall, BBC1 convincingly won primetime with 25.2 per cent of the audience share as ITV could only take 12.5 per cent share. BBC2 came third with eight per cent.

Next Thursday's episode of Doctors (BBC1 16 February) is written by yer actual Keith Telly Topping's old mate and one-time writing partner Martin Day. It stars Owen Brenman, Lu Corfield, Diane Keen, Philip Bird and the great Edward de Souza. Here's the Radio Times piece on it.
Simon Hughes and Steve Coogan were among a group of fifteen phone-hacking claims involving nineteen people to be settled in the high court on Wednesday morning, as the Murdoch-owned publisher of the Scum of the World paid out yet more masses of mucho love-er-ly wonga to resolve cases ahead of trials which, in some cases, had been due to begin next week. News Group Newspapers reached agreement with the Liberal Democrat MP, the comedian and others including singer Pete Doherty, jockey Kieran Fallon, and football agent Sky Andrew. Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's one-time spin doctor, and former England footballer Paul Gascoigne also settled – as did Sheila Henry, the mother of 7/7 victim Christian Small. Both Hughes and Coogan were present in the high court, and Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing the phone-hacking victims, said a total of ten statements of apology will be read out in open court later. Coogan received forty thousand notes in his settlement, and Hughes forty five grand. Paul Gascoigne was awarded sixty thousand smackers plus 'special damages' of eight grand. The court heard that hacking had a 'serious detrimental effect on his well-being' and that he was told he was 'paranoid' for thinking he had been targeted. Gascoigne's friend Jimmy Five Bellies Gardner also received undisclosed damages. Sky Andrew, who acts as agent for players such as Sol Campbell, received seventy five thousand quid. George Galloway received twenty five grand; the court was told that he was targeted by the Scum of the World from the time of the second Gulf War. In a statement posted on his blog, Campbell said this 'is a satisfactory outcome' for him and added that as part of his agreement, the Scum of the World publisher had 'also undertaken to continue searches of "other documents in its possession", so that I can ascertain the extent of any further wrongdoing, both for the time I worked in Downing Street and since, and they have agreed I "may be entitled to further damages in certain circumstances."' Tony Blair's former spokesman said that he would be using the settlement money to make donations to several organisations, including the Labour Party and Mind 'so that at least some small good for the causes I believe in can come out of the criminality and cultural depravity of others.' Liberal Democrat deputy leader Hughes said that he had settled 'because I am completely satisfied that the evidence which currently exists in relation to my case has been disclosed to or is being made available to my lawyers. I want to make clear that in my settlement there is no confidentiality clause. News International will be obliged to continue to disclose any relevant documents to me, and will be open to further action if further information is uncovered. The evidence in my case clearly demonstrates that the practice of hacking was widespread and went much further up the chain than Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire. It was criminal behaviour on an industrial scale. Sadly, the deficiencies of the original police enquiries, which failed to investigate the clear evidence of much of the criminal behaviour at one of the most important businesses in our country, are also all too apparent. We must now make sure that nothing like this can ever happen again. Anyone involved in criminal activity at the News of the World must be brought to justice, and all those who allowed a large company to behave in this way must be held to account. There must also be answers to the serious questions about how the police managed to fail so badly in their original investigation. I will now pursue this matter through my participation in the Leveson Enquiry, an enquiry which I fully support.' One case that had been scheduled to go to trial – that of singer Charlotte Church – remains unsettled. Last minute negotiations had continued on Tuesday night. Next week, Justice Vos was scheduled to hear five of a total of sixty cases involving different categories of claimants including victims of crime, celebrities and sports figures in order to set the benchmark for future claimants. Coogan has been one of the most outspoken and persistent claimants and has resolutely used to courts to force News International and the police to part with information, including notes of the private detective Glenn Mulcaire, over the past eighteen months. The comedian, in an interview with the Gruniad in November, compared News International to a 'protection racket' that used the threat of press intrusion to ensure it was allowed to 'conduct business unencumbered by scrutiny or regulation.' Last month, News Group Newspapers, the immediate parent company of the now defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, paid out at least six hundred and forty thousand knicker in settlements with thirty seven celebrities including actor Jude Law, Sarah Payne, mother of the murdered schoolgirl Sara Payne, and Shaun Russell, the father of Josie Russell who survived a hammer attack which killed her mother and sister in 1996. That left ten cases which could go forward for Monday's trials. News International offered its 'sincerest apologies' in court for the distress and damage it had caused in the first major public capitulation for the company which had up to late 2010 maintained that it knew nothing - naaaathing - about any phone-hacking and that any which did come to light was isolated to one 'rogue reporter' who covered royal stories. In the settlement hearing last month, Vos said that the Murdoch-owned company behind the Scum of the World had made 'an admission of sorts' that it engaged in a deliberate and systematic cover-up of evidence relating to phone-hacking, on the day that the publisher paid an estimated seven figures in damages to settle thirty seven phone-hacking claims brought by public figures ranging from Jude Law to John Prescott. Vos told News Group Newspapers he had seen evidence which raised 'compelling questions about whether you concealed, told lies, actively tried to get off scot free.'

The editor of The Times has publicly - and grovellingly - apologised for a reporter who hacked into an e-mail account to write a story. James Harding had been asked to return to the Leveson Inquiry to 'clarify' his part in the affair. Lord Justice Leveson also decided that Daily Scum Mail editor Paul Dacre must be dragged back to court for a second time to 'resolve' a row between his alleged newspaper and the actor Hugh Grant. Earlier, a former Press Complaints Commission chairman said that the watchdog was 'scapegoated' over phone-hacking. Baroness Buscombe, who quit last year over the backlash to the scandal, told the Leveson Inquiry that many found it easier to attack the PCC than to attack the press. Among them, she said, were politicians and the newspapers themselves. Harding, appearing for a second time, apologised to Lancashire police detective Richard Horton, whose e-mails were accessed in 2009 by a Times journalist. The reporter had been trying to unmask Horton as the author of the anonymous NightJack blog. Harding said: 'In the last couple of weeks I have learned a great deal more about what happened in this incident.' He continued: 'As editor of the paper I am responsible for what it does and what its journalists do. I sorely regret the intrusion into Richard Horton's e-mail account by a journalist. I am sure that Mr Horton and many other people expect better of The Times, and so do I. So on behalf of the paper, I apologise.' Previously, the inquiry has heard The Times fought a High Court battle to name Horton as the writer of the blog after the reporter told his managers he had tried to access an e-mail account. Harding said that if he had been told the e-mail account had been hacked into, the journalist would have faced disciplinary action and the story would have been abandoned. 'I would have said that the intrusion was not warranted in the public interest. But he didn't come to me.' Earlier Baroness Buscombe told the inquiry that during her two years as PCC chairman she had lost trust in editors and felt they had not told her the truth. 'I had to question the editors on the PCC in my head. It was very difficult. These were editors I had worked with,' she said. 'I want to support a self-regulatory system because I believe there's a real problem with the alternative, state regulation, but this demands a degree of trust.' Asked about the PCC's own investigation into phone-hacking allegations, Baroness Buscombe said she regretted being misled by News International and taking what police told her 'on trust.' The Financial Times, the Gruniad and the Mirra had all threatened at stages to leave the PCC over adjudications for mistakes and code breaches, she claimed. However the FT has disputed the claim, telling BBC News: 'The FT has never complained to the PCC about adverse adjudications nor has it ever threatened to leave the PCC because of rulings against the newspaper.' The Mirra also denied the claim, saying: 'The Mirror has not threatened to leave the PCC in recent years.' Lord Justice Leveson said that he would recall Dacre to face more questions on accusations by Hugh Grant. He is expected to return later this week. Previously, Dacre accused Grant of making 'mendacious smears' after Grant claimed a Scum Mail on Sunday story may have come from illicit eavesdropping. On Monday, Dacre claimed that he 'knew of no cases' of phone-hacking at the Scum Mail. Odious filth Dacre said that he would withdraw the 'smears' statement if Grant withdrew his claims. Whilst simultaneously strutting around like he owns the place.

Page three of the Sun is 'an innocent staple of British life' whose daily pictures of topless models 'celebrate natural beauty', the editor of the Murdoch-owned tabloid told the Leveson inquiry on Tuesday. However, Dominic Mohan – forced to give evidence for the second time after the inquiry heard criticisms of the newspaper from a coalition of women's groups – also conceded the Sun had used inappropriate language to describe longstanding critics of the feature. The Sun editor said that while there had 'been quite a lot of criticism' of page three, he believed the daily photograph was 'meant to represent the youth and freshness' and 'celebrate natural beauty' and amounted to an 'innocuous British institution.' When shown a piece about Clare Short – headlined 'Fat, Jealous' Clare brands page three porn dating from before he became editor – he said 'It's not probably something I would run now, no.' The Sun editor also said that his newspaper was 'wrong' to use the word 'tran' in a headline to describe a transexual, saying that he felt that 'I don't know this is our greatest moment, to be honest.' But Mohan said that staff had been trained to be 'more careful in future', and the editor added that he believed 'we've raised our game in terms of transgender reporting.' Mohan was also asked what he knew about phone-hacking during the period in which he edited the newspaper's Bizarre showbusiness column, and was shown examples of articles referring to celebrities bombarding other celebrities with phone calls. He said that, ultimately, he 'can't say one hundred per cent' that not a single news item sourced by journalists working on Bizarre had emerged as a result of phone-hacking. But he added: 'What I would say is you've picked a number of stories over more than three years, and I'm sure if you took a sample from any number of newspapers over a three-year period, there would be numerous references to phone calls.' He also claimed that he would not have run a news story about Gordon Brown's son, Fraser, being diagnosed with cystic fibrosis a month after his birth in 2006 without the former PM's 'consent.' Brown said that he was left 'in tears' when he was told that the Sun was going ahead and publishing the story.

The FBI is reported to be investigating whether News Corp has breached a US law that bans 'corrupt payments to foreign officials' such as police, according to Reuters. Citing law enforcement and corporate 'sources', the news agency says that the authorities have not substantiated allegations of phone-hacking inside the US by News Corp journalists. The Reuters report, by Mark Hosenball and Georgina Prodhan, suggests that the FBI's investigation concerns possible criminal violations of US foreign corrupt practices act. If it is found to have violated the FCPA, Rupert Murdoch's New York-based company, would face fines of up to two million dollars and be barred from US government contracts. Individuals who participated in the bribery could face fines of up to one hundred thousand notes and jail sentences of up to five years. In practice, the US authorities have usually settled FCPA cases in return for large cash payments from companies. Much of the evidence being examined in the News Corp case was handed over to investigators by the company's Wapping-based management and standards committee. Also according to the Reuters report, the MSC is now working with Williams and Connolly, a prominent Washington law firm that specialises in white-collar crime. The firm was retained by News Corp last summer to hold an internal investigation into its US entities.

Sky News has told its journalists not to repost information from any Twitter users who are not an employee of the broadcaster. An e-mail to staff on Tuesday gave out new social media guidelines for Sky News employees, including a ban on retweeting rival 'journalists or people on Twitter.' The new guidelines also warn Sky News journalists to 'stick to your own beat' and not to tweet about non-work subjects from their professional accounts. Sky News has cultivated a reputation for digital innovation and has used Twitter to break news on events including the Arab Spring uprising and the summer riots. Journalists at the broadcaster reportedly 'expressed shock and dismay' at the new guidelines, which they claim are a retrograde step. The e-mail to staff said: 'To reiterate, don't tweet when it is not a story to which you have been assigned or a beat which you work. Where a story has been Tweeted by a Sky News journalist who is assigned to the story it is fine, desirable in fact, that it is retweeted by other Sky News staff. Do not retweet information posted by other journalists or people on Twitter. Such information could be wrong and has not been through the Sky News editorial process.' The e-mail also says that the guidelines have been introduced 'to ensure that our journalism is joined up across platforms, there is sufficient editorial control of stories reported by Sky News journalists and that the news desks remain the central hub for information going out on all our stories.' The e-mail said: '1. Don't tweet when it's someone else [sic] story. Stick to your own beat. 2. Always pass breaking news lines to the news desk before posting them on social media networks.' It added that 'on a number of occasions' those guidelines have been flouted 'resulting in us running different information on Twitter other Sky platforms or the news desks learning from Twitter details that should have been first passed on to them.' The guidelines on checking tweets with Sky News news desk do not apply to 'verbatim reporting' on Twitter of court cases, parliament or judicial inquiries 'to which you have been assigned.' A Sky News spokeswoman said: 'Sky News has the same editorial procedures across all their platforms including social media to ensure the news we report is accurate.'

The BBC News Channel should not be compromised by budget cuts, the corporation's governing body has said. In a review of the service, the BBC Trust warned that planned savings measures should not affect the 'range and depth of stories' it covers. However, it praised the channel's reputation on breaking news, and highlighted its growing audience. The Trust said that BBC Parliament is seeing record audiences but must provide more contextual information on screen. The BBC Trust conducts regular 'service reviews' of the corporation's stations, which it uses to review progress and shape licence requirements for the future. Looking at the BBC News Channel, it said that nearly twenty per cent of UK adults had tuned in during 2010-2011, up from 11.5 per cent in 2006-2007. It said audiences expected the network to primarily cover breaking news, and noted that audiences peaked during major events. However, the report noted that the market for breaking news was becoming increasingly crowded - both on TV and online. Accordingly, it said the BBC should 'continue to go beyond the headlines' and report stories 'that do not receive widespread coverage elsewhere.' At the same time, the BBC is proposing changes to the News Channel, as part of its belt-tightening exercise after receiving a lower-than-expected licence fee settlement.
The Trust agreed that a requirement to send more than one presenter to the scene of a major international news story was superfluous, and removed the condition from the channel's service licence. However, it warned that budget cuts, and the plan to merge BBC News with the World Service 'should not reduce the News Channel's ability to explain often complex and fast-moving international stories in a compelling way for all audiences.' BBC trustee David Liddiment, who led the review, said: 'The past year has seen some hugely significant news stories - from the summer riots and Royal wedding at home, to the Japanese earthquake and Arab Spring uprisings abroad - and audiences tell us that for big national stories the News Channel is their "go-to" service. Despite this strong performance, the News Channel must keep seeking new ways to improve and innovate. It is vital that the channel uses its resources wisely and maintains its distinctiveness and quality.' Reviewing BBC Parliament, the Trust said that audiences view the channel as 'unique', and particularly appreciated the chance to see parliamentary proceedings 'first hand.' However, it noted that 'parliamentary timings and processes can be confusing, even to those with a working knowledge of the institutions' and said that, although the BBC often provided information such as the name of a speaker, or the topic of a debate, this could be improved to 'better meet the needs of audiences.' This would include on-screen tickers and suggesting relevant pages on the BBC Democracy Live site. The Trust also recommended that the BBC's main news bulletins should trail coverage of parliamentary debates on BBC Parliament more frequently.
Panorama has bagged five nominations for the Royal Television Society Journalism Awards later this month, with Newsnight claiming four. Panorama: Undercover Care, which used secret filming to reveal serious abuse by carers at a residential hospital in Bristol, is shortlisted for both the Current Affairs prize and Scoop of the Year. Joe Casey, the undercover reporter who spent five weeks in the hospital as a support worker, is named among the Young Journalist of the Year contenders. Panorama: FIFA's Dirty Secrets is also nominated for Scoop of the Year. This programme, which investigated corruption allegations against FIFA officials, puts reporter Andrew Jennings in contention for The Independent Award. Newsnight will take on BBC News at Ten for best News Programme. The BBC2 current affairs flagship is also recognised in the News Coverage - home group for its phone hacking reports. The programme's correspondent Richard Watson is up for Television Journalist of the Year, while its economics editor Paul Mason is in line for the specialist journalist prize, for which Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen is also in contention. Darren Conway is in the mix for best camera operator, a title he's claimed on more than one occasion in the past. BBC Wales' Week In Week Out: Cash for Qualifications, which went undercover to investigate a scam where foreign students are taught to cheat their way to a UK visa, will battle it out for Nations and Regions Current Affairs and News Event alongside Inside Out South West: Multiple Sclerosis - CCSVI. This saw BBC South West investigate a controversial MS treatment.

Harry Redknapp has been cleared of evading tax on payments made to his Monaco bank account. The Stottingtot Hotsahots boss had denied accepting secret untaxed bonus payments from former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric, while he was club manager. Mandaric was also cleared of two charges of cheating the public revenue. Jurors rejected prosecution claims the money was a bonus for selling Peter Crouch and beating Manchester United and cleared both men of charges that they were complete crooks.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day here's a classic from Electronic.


Martin Day said...

Cheers, Keith. If you have the time to watch, I hope you enjoy the ep - I wanted it to be like an episode of Waking the Dead, only in miniature and on a tiny budget, and there isn't a whole heap of soapy stuff to sit through! Some cut scenes notwithstanding, I'm rather chuffed with how it came out.


Mietek Padowicz said...

Having seen the first three eps series 19, the new co presenter merely fills a bit of space and says half of what Tony used to say. As well much less Stuart and no Helene. All in all, not impressed.