Sunday, February 12, 2012

Week Eight: Ladies & Gentlemen Here's Our Disease, Give Us A Standing Ovation & Your Money Please

Rupert Murdoch is expected to fly into Britain this week in an effort to tackle the latest allegations to rock his media empire, involving the alleged corruption of public officials by Sun journalists. The deputy editor, Geoff Webster, chief reporter John Kay, picture editor John Edwards, chief foreign correspondent Nick Parker and deputy news editor John Sturgis were all arrested in dawn raids on suspicion of bribing police and public officials. There was also a search of the Sun's offices. A Surrey police officer, a member of the armed forces and a civil servant (a Ministry of Defence employee) were also arrested as part of the same operation. And were, presumably, also dragged from their beds at the crack of dawn by the law. Part of Operation Elveden, Scotland Yard's investigation into bribery and corruption involving newspapers and the police, the arrests follow those of four former and current Sun journalists and a serving Metropolitan police officer. Senior Sun employees Chris Pharo and Mike Sullivan, executive editor Fergus Shanahan and News International's editorial development director, Graham Dudman, were arrested on 28 January. Well-known Crystal Tipps look-alike Rebekah Brooks, the Sun's former editor, and Andy Coulson, ex-editor of the Scum of the World, have also been arrested, questioned and bailed. The arrests have prompted speculation that News Corp, News International's US-based parent company, may be forced to consider closing the Sun, as it did with the Scum Of The World, in an attempt to protect the Murdoch empire. A News International employee told the BBC's Matt Prodger that staff felt 'absolutely furious' and 'betrayed by management' in light of the arrests. The Sun's editor, Dominic Mohan said: 'I'm as shocked as anyone by today's arrests but am determined to lead the Sun through these difficult times. I have a brilliant staff and we have a duty to serve our readers and will continue to do that. Our focus is on putting out Monday's newspaper.' According to the Gruniad Morning Star, who could barely contain their delight at the breaking story, 'legal experts' (unnamed, of course) believe allegations that officials were bribed by a subsidiary of a US company could cause an investigation by the US department of justice under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, an inquiry which could prove to be even more damaging for News Corp than the scandal which rocked the Scum of the World last summer. 'The developments show this is no longer only about phone-hacking,' said Labour MP Tom Watson (power to the people!) 'It goes to the very heart of corporate governance of the company led by Rupert Murdoch. Was Sun editor Dominic Mohan aware of allegations of payments to police before he gave evidence under oath to Lord Leveson?' In an e-mail to Sun staff, Tom Mockridge, the chief executive of News international, said that the Sun 'has a proud history of delivering ground-breaking journalism' - and tits, lots and lots and lots of tits, don't forget that - and insisted he had received 'a personal assurance today from Rupert Murdoch about his total commitment to continue to own and publish the Sun newspaper.' A News Corp statement claimed that its management and standards committee, the body set up to investigate allegations of wrongdoing at News International's newspapers, which include The Times and The Sunday Times, had provided information which led to the arrests. Sort of 'It was the Sun wot done it,' if you will. Or, even, Gotcha. News Corp claimed that it had 'provided' the option of 'immediate legal representation' to those arrested. 'News Corporation maintains its total support to the ongoing work of the MSC and is committed to making certain that legitimate journalism is vigorously pursued in both the public interest and in full compliance with the law,' the MSC said. The National Union of Journalists suggested there was now a 'witch-hunt' against journalists. Yes. And, the problem with that is, exactly? 'Once again Rupert Murdoch is trying to pin the blame on individual journalists, hoping that a few scalps will salvage his corporate reputation,' said its general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet. 'Journalists are reeling at seeing five more of their colleagues thrown to the wolves.' Surrey police confirmed that a serving officer had been arrested at his home. A spokesman said: 'Surrey police has been working closely with Operation Elveden since it was established in 2011, with a number of its officers seconded to the Metropolitan police service to assist with the investigations. On learning about the involvement of one of its officers, the force immediately referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.' The force's assistant chief constable, Jerry Kirkby, said it 'takes matters of this nature extremely seriously and we will not hesitate to respond robustly to allegations where there is evidence to support them.' A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: 'We do not comment on ongoing investigations.' Media consultant and former deputy editor of the now-defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, Paul Connew, told the BBC that morale at the Sun would be 'rock bottom.' What a shame. After all the years in which they've spent their time destroying people's lives where supposed to, what, feel sorry for them? Sod that for a lark. Connew said that he was 'intrigued' to see where the line would be drawn between whistleblowers who provide information for public interest purposes and those whom the establishment disliked. He said: 'If you have a police force or military or officials in the civil service who are so terrified to have contacts with journalists, that will not serve the public interest.' There is, it should be noted, nothing even remotely illegal about police, military or civil service officials from meeting or talking to journalists, there is, however, something very illegal about being paid for information. That's called bribery and it's been a crime for a very long time. Media analyst Claire Enders said the Sun's future should not be in doubt as it 'hasn't experienced any specific loss of sales as a result of the arrests that occurred earlier in the year.' She forgot to add, yet. Media commentator Roy Greenslade told the BBC he was 'shocked' by the arrests of the Sun journalists. Asked whether the Sun was heading towards being closed down, as the Scum of the World had been, he said: 'There are reports that Rupert Murdoch is flying in to quell suggestions of closure. You must realise that the Sun has a very large staff and none of the production journalists are affected by this, so there's no question of it not coming out. As for closure, I think that may be on the cards at some stage in the future but right now, clearly, it isn't.' Deborah Glass, deputy chair of the IPCC, said: 'We are continuing to actively supervise the Metropolitan police service investigation into alleged corruption, including the latest referral from Surrey police. Today's arrests are further evidence of the strenuous efforts being undertaken to identify police officers who may have taken corrupt payments.' Mockridge told staff that some of the individuals arrested had been 'instrumental in breaking important stories about public bodies, for example the scandal of our under-resourced troops in Iraq. In light of these further developments, I have today written to the Independent Police Complaints Commission to seek clarification from them about the process of independent oversight of the police investigation.' All of those arrested were bailed.

Here's yer next batch of Top Telly Tips:

Saturday 18 February
Let's Dance for Sport Relief - 7:00 BBC1 - returns. Joy. This is, of course, a conceit in which a series of, usually ladgeful, comedians, sports stars and other celebrities 'do their bit' for charriddee (and, usually, their own flagging careers as a bonus) by re-creating famous dance routines. No one knows why. First to slip on their dancing shoes are Shooting Stars duo Ulrika Jonsson and Angelos Epithemiou, comedian Terry Alderton, EastEnders actresses Laurie Brett and Tameka Empson, veteran DJs Tony Blackburn and Diddy David Hamilton (and, yes, it is the first time you've seen the latter on TV for about twenty years at least), and cricket star Darren Gough - who as a former Strictly Come Dancing winner ought to know his high-kicks from his splits. They'll be judged this week by Leigh Francis in the character of his alter-ego Keith Lemon, Graham Norton and Greg Davies, with musical interludes by Jessie J and JLS. Alex Jones and Steve Jones present the ensuing fiasco. Later in the series, look out for equally embarrassing turns from Eddie The Eagle Edwards, Ava Vidal and Terry Alderton, Arabella Weir, Rowland Revron and Omad Djalili. Most of who, frankly, should be ashamed of themselves, charriddee or no charriddee.

Jake Humphrey presents coverage of the second day of the fourth and final round of the Track Cycling World Cup Classics season, staged at the Olympic Velodrome in London at 7:00 on BBC2. Being that this is one of the few things that we in Britain do well, hopefully it'll have a bumper audience at the expense of the dance fiasco on the other side. This is also an official test event ahead of the 2012 Olympics, and this evening's disciplines include the finals of the men's Keirin and women's individual sprint and pursuit races, with the concluding day of races scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.

A collection of classic performances from Ol' Blue Eyes, featuring clips from American TV specials and recording-studio footage can be seen in Sinatra Sings - 9:00 BBC4. Songs include 'That's Life', 'Moonlight in Vermont', 'Fly Me to the Moon', 'Young at Heart' and 'New York, New York'. The special is narrated by the singer's youngest daughter Tina, who shares memories of her father. Clip shows often bore the pants of this particular blogger but I might make an except for this one because, to be (ahem) frank, when Francis Albert sings, the whole world does seem a little bit better. If only briefly.

Sunday 19 February
Drama and intrigue with the aristocrats and serving staff of 165 Eaton Place as it opens its doors once more as Upstairs Downstairs returns for a second series - 9:30 BBC1. It's September 1938 and as dark clouds gather over Europe, Hallam's preoccupation with Nazi Germany leads him into dangerous waters overseas. Back home, Lady Agnes is frail following the birth of her second child, and finds great support in the forthright Aunt Blanche, who has made herself comfortable at Eaton Place following the funeral of her sister Lady Holland. In the servants' quarters, Rose is taken ill with TB, so the staff welcome spirited new maid Beryl, who catches Harry's eye, while events upstairs end in a startling revelation about Mr Pritchard. Keeley Hawes, Ed Stoppard, Alex Kingston and Adrian Scarborough star.

Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May work on a project to build mobility scooters capable of tackling the British countryside's terrain in Top Gear - 8:00 BBC2. Which, no doubt, some odious fraction of no consequences at the Grunad Morning Star (such as disgraceful lice-scum Ben Dowell who has more form than a Derby winner over this sort of excrement) will spend hours searching the Internet until they find someone else of no consequence whinging about some aspect of it. And then they'll write another Shock! Horror! Probe! Picture! scum-shite article about it which all of the nasty, odious, loathsome middle-class tossers who read the Gruniad Morning Star will have a right good tut about over their muesli and frappuccino. Which is, lets face it, always good for a laugh. Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender is the latest Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. Ferrari's four-wheel-drive FF is pitted against the revised, V8-engined Bentley Continental GT on a test track at the edge of the Arctic Circle, while James puts the Fisker Karma through its paces in Florida, and meets AC/DC frontman and a previous Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, Wor Brian Johnson. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping preferred him when he was in Geordie, personally, but that's just his opinion.

Sister Monica Joan develops pneumonia after being found mysteriously wandering near the docks - but things only gets worse when she is accused of theft and faces the prospect of prison in the final episode of the BBC's phenomenally successful Call The Midwife - 8:30. Eagle-eyed dear blog readers will not that it's been moved half-an-hour later that usual. This is, just in case you hadn't noticed, because of ITV's disgracefully cynical attempts to cut into its ratings by moving an episode of Coronation Street to 8:00 on Sunday. And then, to make it worse by mendaciously claiming that this was 'the only slot available to it' when that is, quite clearly, a lie. Hopefully, ITV's crystal clear attempts to ruin the BBC's Sunday night schedule (last episode of Call The Midwife, opening episode of Upstairs Downstairs) will spectacularly backfire on them and it'll be Corrie, rather than either of the BBC shows which gets clobbered in the ensuing overnight ratings scramble. That would, indeed, be sweet. Anyway, back to Call The Midwife. Chummy's mother arrives to meet PC Noakes, but when the visit is less than a success, the midwife suffers a crisis of confidence and breaks off her relationship - leaving Jenny and the others trying to persuade her she is making a terrible mistake. Judy Parfitt, Miranda Hart, Jenny Agutter and Jessica Raine star.

Moving earlier and earlier in the schedules because Channel Four seem a bit embarrassed by it, and having suffered the sort of week of bad press over Special K-gate that we more associate with Top Gear, Time Team returns at 4:05 on C4. Tony Robinson and the team visit the very beautiful seaside village of Beadnell on the Northumbrian coast (just a few miles North of where yer actual Stately Telly Topping Manor, as it happens), where mysterious fragments of human bone have emerged over recent years. Legend ties the area to local Seventh Century Saint Ebbe, and it is widely believed that a Thirteenth Century chapel once stood here. The only way to find out is by putting spades into the earth but, before long, the Team are stumbling onto confusing signs of Second World War defences. And then, shockingly, they find skeletons of babies in the trenches. It's a sobering discovery, and one that raises more questions than it answers. Team leader Mick Aston - shortly before throwing his toys out of his pram - has just three days to untangle this archaeological jigsaw puzzle. And on such an exposed coastal site, any change in the weather could wreak havoc. Many Ann Octota appears. But, not for much longer.

Monday 20 February
The Tube - 9:00 BBC2 - is a behind-the-scenes look at the London Underground. . So, it'll likely be of zero interest to the fifty odd million Britons who live outside London, then. It begins with weekend rail replacement works threatening to disrupt the daily service, and a woman pushed onto a live track during a busy Saturday night at Leicester Square. The number of passengers using the Tube at the weekend has doubled in the last decade, forcing the system to adapt to changing circumstances.

Following the pilot episode shown at Christmas, which this blogger really rather enjoyed but seemed to find a far more critical audience elsewhere, The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff returns for three further episodes - 8:00 BBC2. Fine, upstanding owner of the titular establishment, Jedrington Secret-Past, teams up with a, seemingly charming, new business partner Harmswell Grimstone, who may not be all he seems. And, of course, isn't. Meanwhile, Jedrington's wife Conceptiva, now happily recovered from her treacle addiction seen in the previous episode, receives a cryptic letter which disturbs her so greatly that she makes her way to End-It-All Dock. Dickensian-style comedy adventure, starring Robert Webb, Katherine Parkinson, Johnny Vegas and Tim McInnerny.

Another torso is washed up from the Thames, this time at Putney Bridge in the latest episode of the (seriously back-on-form) Whitechapel - 9:00 ITV. Llewellyn finds traces of Spanish Fly, an aphrodisiac used by the infamous Marquis de Sade. The discovery propels Miles and the team into a world of dark obsessions, where romance and love takes a sinister turn. Crime thriller, starring Rupert Penry-Jones, the great Phil Davis, Steve Pemberton and Big Cuddly Claire Rushbrook. Who is starting to look like someone who has eaten their own family of late.

Andrew Marr rounds off his, frankly rather sickeningly hagiographic documentary celebration of Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee with a look at the defining moments of her reign in The Diamond Queen - 9:00 BBC1. These include her accession to the throne in 1952 and her coronation sixteen months later. He also reflects on the other royal jubilees, her 2011 trip to Australia and on what some see as her most enduring achievement - the Commonwealth, before touching on her occasionally tense relations with the press, while her adult grandchildren have their say about her sixty-year reign. Yep, that list of brown-tonguing should easily certainly be enough for an OBE in the next honours list, Andrew.

Tuesday 21 February
There are three words which may make you want to avoid like the plague the 2012 Brits Awards - 8:00 ITV. And those three words are 'James Corden introduces' dear blog reader. Yep, though that might put you off it. The terminally unfunny lard-bucket oaf returns to London's O2 to host the annual music ceremony, featuring performances by Ed Sheeran, Adele, Bruno Mars, Coldplay, Rihanna, Florence and the Machine, Noel Gallagher's Flying High Birds and Olly Murs. Ed Sheeran leads the way with four nominations, including best British Male Artist and best British Single for 'The A Team', while Adele and Jessie J are each in the running for three awards, and vying for best International Female Solo Artist are Beyonce, Bjork, Feist, Lady Gaga and Rihanna. Emeli Sande picks up the Critics' Choice award, and the Outstanding Contribution to Music goes to art school poseurs Blur, who perform 'a selection of their hits.' Yeah. Oasis got one of those five years ago, guys. Always the bridesmaid, eh?

Raymond Blanc visits Lyon in the latest episode of Raymond Blanc: The Very Hungry Frenchman - 7:00 BBC2. There, where he meets Paul Bocuse, one of France's most famous chefs, whose restaurant has held three Michelin stars since 1965. He then heads to a local kitchen to prepare quenelles souffles de Brochet and a chocolate tarte with crumble for a group of discerning critical foodies.

Lou panics when she returns home from a night-time drug deal to find Mason missing in Prisoners' Wives - 9:00 BBC1. She soon spots him, sleepwalking, and up to nefarious skulduggery but the fright makes her vow to become more responsible and leave behind her life of crime - which proves easier said than done. Gemma helps the police build the case against her husband, going to extraordinary lengths to protect her identity, while Francesca reluctantly attends a prison-run marriage guidance course with Paul, who hopes they still have a future together. Natalie Gavin, Emma Rigby, Polly Walker and Iain Glen star.

Wednesday 22 February
The contestants cook a three-course meal for more than two hundred people at Middle Temple, one of the historic Inns of Court in the City of London in the latest episode of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved MasterChef - 9:00 BBC1. Guests include high-ranking legal figures including senior High Court judges and lord justices. Shysters, in other words, dear blog reader. One desperately hopes that none of the remaining contestants have ever had a bad run-in with the legal profession and, therefore, decide to include an emetic in their recipes. Because that would be wrong. Funny, but wrong.
The six cooks are divided into pairs with each team delivering one course, and the pressure of cooking to such a high standard for so many diners proves extremely challenging. Whether it 'doesn't get any tougher than this,' only Gregg and John know. And they aren't saying. well, Gregg is. Frequently. The chefs then create two elegant courses to be tasted by guest arbiter Gregg's MasterChef: The Professionals oppo the great Michel Roux Jr.

Chris Packham, Kate Humble and Martin Hughes-Games find out how the UK's wildlife is faring this winter in the Brecon Beacons National Park, where they discover the season's mild early temperatures followed by a dramatic drop have set a real challenge in Winterwatch - 9:00 BBC2. They also report on a surprising influx of owls, reveal why the ptarmigan could be considered the toughest bird in the country and explore some of Britain's most impressive wildlife spectacles. Meanwhile, Michaela Strachan is in South Africa, investigating a swallow roost.

Waterloo Road is back - 8:00 BBC1. The classroom drama returns after a three-month break. A new term begins for the pupils and staff - except headmaster Michael, who is convalescing at home with a fractured pelvis and no memory of the hit-and-run that put him out of action. All fingers point at Jez as the prime suspect, while Chalky continues to provide Linda with an alibi - but when his suspicions are aroused, her story begins to unravel. A local gang infiltrates the school, and soon sets its sights on Tariq, while Grantly makes an enemy of the dinner lady by criticising her food.

Sarah Raven travels to Birmingham, where she begins her efforts to create more habitats for pollinating insects in cities by challenging the parks department to replace its acres of close-mown grass and Victorian bedding displays with modern, sustainable alternatives in the last episode of Bees, Butterflies and Blooms - 8:00 BBC2. She then heads to the London Olympic Park to see the tens of thousands of pollinator-friendly meadows that are being sown to come into flower in time for this summer's Games, and tests seed mixes in her own garden.

Thursday 23 February
This World: Inside The Meltdown - 9:00 BBC2 - gives viewers an insight into the Fukushima nuclear plant accident told by those who fought to avoid a disaster which, according to the Japanese government, could have left a vast area of the country - even Tokyo - uninhabitable. Featuring interviews with employees, fire fighters, army officers, prime minister at the time Naoto Kan, and survivors of the tsunami, the film provides a detailed account of how close the nation came to a catastrophe that could have dwarfed the incident at Chernobyl in 1986.

International negotiator Dominic King travels to Kashmir in India, to arrange the release of a British family in the return of the Trevor Eve vehicle Kidnap and Ransom - 9:00 ITV. But the police arrive as the handover is being completed and a shoot-out ensues. The kidnappers get away and in their panic board a tourist bus and take the passengers hostage, leaving Dominic to negotiate the holiday-makers' freedom while at the same time persuading the police not to attack. Thriller, starring Eve (of course, who - as usual - is very good in this), silly little Helen Baxendale, Natasha Little and Sharon Small.

Top of the Pops: 1977 - 7:30 BBC4 - sees Paul Burnett presenting an episode from 17 February 1977, the week in which Leo Sayer scored his first UK number one with the drippy ballad 'When I Need You.' The show also features performances by soul singer Thelma Houston and Mud frontman Les Gray, as well as The Rubettes, Mr Big, Moments, The Brothers and dance troupe Legs & Co.

The gang prepares for the final practice, but John clashes with the new head of security and worries he could have put the entire job at risk in the final episode of Inside Men - 9:00 BBC1. Gina is offered a proper role in the robbery, only to be hit by nerves - prompting her and Marcus to make a big decision - while tensions within the rest of the group cause Chris's behaviour to become increasingly unpredictable, casting doubts on his ability to go through with the plan. Heist drama, starring Steven Mackintosh, Ashley Walters, Warren Brown, Kierston Wareing and Nicola Walker.

Friday 24 February
One of the BBC's most popular shows, New Tricks returns at 9:00. Unfortunately, it's yet another run of repeats. The team reinvestigates the death of wealthy financier Douglas Anderson when psychic Sebastian Carter informs the deceased's daughter that she needs to resolve her father's unfinished business. The retired officers set out to prove the clairvoyant is a fraud after growing suspicious of his `gift', but Pullman struggles to dismiss the supposed conman when a conflict involving her own late father emerges. Detective drama, guest starring David Bradley. Make some new episodes, will you?

A new manager arrives at the Solana determined to transform it into a four-star hotel, but the start of the holidays proves chaotic for the staff as well as the guests in the first of a new series of Benidorm - 9:00 ITV. Mateo and Lesley are barely keeping things under control, while a coachload of angry tourists, including Gavin and Noreen, have all had their luggage misplaced by a travel company. Loose Women's Sherrie Hewson joins the cast.

Gerry Rafferty: Right Down the Line - 9:00 BBC4 - is a profile of the singer-songwriter remembered for solo hits including 'Baker Street' and 'Get It Right Next Time' and 'Stuck in the Middle with You' when in Stealers Wheel, who died in January 2011. The programme traces his life through his often autobiographical songs and features contributions by his daughter Martha, brother Jim and friends and colleagues including Billy Connolly (his partner in The Humblebums), John Byrne and Stealers Wheel colleague Joe Egan. Narrated, as everything even vaguely Scottish related on the BBC seems to be these days, by David Tennant.

And so to the news: Hugh Grant has refused to withdraw his suggestion that Associated Newspapers may have obtained information about him through phone-hacking. Grant made the allegation about the publisher of the Daily Scum Mail and Scum Mail on Sunday to the Leveson Inquiry last year. The actor told the BBC on Saturday that newspapers were not used to having their methods questioned. Daily Scum Mail editor the vile and odious rascal Dacre has denied the allegations, describing them as 'mendacious smears.' In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Grant said: 'I can see why they're cross because for once someone has had the courage to question their probity and their honesty. Generally speaking, if anyone does that with a paper like the Daily Mail, however much they may go on about freedom of speech, no one is allowed the freedom of speech to question the Daily Mail. If you do, you will be trashed. And that's what happened again and again and again to me and anyone else who has dared to question the Daily Mail.' Grant said he would like the Leveson Inquiry into the practices of the press to result in a new regulatory body, in place of the Press Complaints Commission, with 'teeth to sanction newspapers that go wrong.' He added: 'The lowest priority in all my ranting and raving about media reform is my case or the case of any so-called celebrity.' Grant denied he was actively giving up information about personal matters while promoting his films. He said: 'When you sit and do an interview are you asked about acting technique or are you asked "how's your love life, what's it like with Liz Hurley?" You then have a choice. You can be Mr Pompous and say "I really don't talk about my private life" or you can try and be a good sport and give a jokey answer.' Associated Newspapers told the Today programme that it had 'nothing to add' to what the vile and odious rascal Dacre had said at the Leveson Inquiry. When the vile and odious rascal Dacre was recalled to the inquiry on Thursday, he again denied that phone-hacking was the source of a Scum Mail on Sunday story in 2007 about Grant's relationship with Jemima Khan. The vile and odious rascal Dacre also discussed his description of Grant's allegations about phone-hacking at the Scum Mail as 'mendacious smears driven by his hatred of the media.' The newspaper editor said Grant's comments alleging hacking were 'toxic' and 'explosive' and 'he knew the damage it would cause.' The vile and odious rascal Dacre said that he would withdraw the 'mendacious smears' comment if Grant withdrew his suggestion that Scum Mail newspapers had been involved in phone-hacking. He said it was untrue and false that, as the actor told the House of Lords, private investigator Glenn Muclaire spent thirty per cent of his time working for Associated Newspapers. The vile and odious rascal Dacre claimed that he checked company records and it was clear that his newspaper group had not paid Mulcaire.

Mrs Brown's Boys has sold more then a million DVDs – making it one of the top three best-selling comedy series of all time. It means only Little Britain and The Office have outsold Brendan O’Carroll's sitcom. He told the Irish Independent: 'We've worked very hard over the last ten years to get this far, so it is such a joy to see this widow from Dublin take on the world.' The second series of the show has just finished its run on BBC1, averaging a strong 5.4million audience. And an extraordinary audience appreciation index figure of ninety two out of one hundred – suggesting that those who watch it really love it. Unlike a lot of po-faced critics.

Sir Alex Ferguson has branded Luis Suarez 'a disgrace' for refusing to shake Patrice Evra's hand before The Scum's ill-tempered 2-1 victory over Liverpool Alabama Deliverance Yee-Haws at Old Trafford. 'Suarez is a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club,' said Ferguson. 'This history of that club is gone. He should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again. He could have caused a riot.' Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish pulled an Arsene Wenger in claiming 'not to have seen the incident' and then said in an interview: 'I think you're bang out of order to blame Luis Suarez for anything that happened here today.' As well as the handshake controversy, the two sets of players reportedly clashed in the tunnel at half-time before Liverpool players reacted angrily to Evra's celebrations at the full-time whistle. Wayne Rooney scored twice early in the second half before Suarez, who was banned for eight matches after racially abusing Evra when the sides met in October, netted a consolation in the eightieth minute. It was the first time the two sides have met since Suarez completed his suspension. And, in a post on Twitter, the Uruguayan said: 'We lost and we are sad because we have made a big effort. Disappointed because everything is not that it seems.' Dalglish, who did not attend his traditional post-match press conference with the written media, told Sky Sports that he did not see Suarez refuse to shake hands with Evra and does not blame the Uruguayan for the bad blood that marred the contest. 'I never knew Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand,' Dalglish claimed. 'I wasn't there, I never saw it. It's contrary to what I've been told.' Ferguson, however, had a different point of view and believes the racism issue is one which needs to be addressed. 'I couldn't believe Suarez refused Evra's handshake,' he said. 'You saw the referee [Phil Dowd]. He didn't know what to do. It was a terrible start to the game and it created a terrible atmosphere. Racism is an important issue and football has come a long way since the days of bananas being thrown at John Barnes.' The United boss believes Evra 'kept his dignity' by offering to shake Suarez's hand, but did not condone the Frenchman's post-match celebrations. 'Evra shouldn't have jumped in front of Suarez in celebration at the end,' he added. 'He shouldn't have done that.' The United players Rio Ferdinand and Darren Fletcher, who is still on the sidelines with a chronic inflammatory bowel condition, were also quick to condemn Suarez's actions, while supporting their team-mate. 'After seeing what happened, I decided not to shake his hand. I lost all respect for the guy,' Ferdinand said. 'It could have been resolved between the two players today. After this, it's not great.' Fletcher added: 'Credit to Patrice Evra, I think he's come out [and] he's the bigger man.' Suarez and Dalglish subsequently apologised on Sunday. 'I have spoken with the manager since the game at Old Trafford and I realise I got things wrong,' Suarez said in a club statement. Dalglish said: 'All of us have a responsibility to represent this club in a fit and proper manner. That applies equally to me as Liverpool manager. When I went on TV after yesterday's game I hadn't seen what had happened, but I did not conduct myself in a way befitting of a Liverpool manager during that interview and I'd like to apologise for that.' Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre released a statement which read: 'We are extremely disappointed Luis Suarez did not shake hands with Patrice Evra before yesterday's game. The player had told us beforehand that he would, but then chose not to do so. He was wrong to mislead us and wrong not to offer his hand to Patrice Evra. He has not only let himself down but also Kenny Dalglish, his team-mates and the club. It has been made absolutely clear to Luis Suarez that his behaviour was not acceptable. Luis Suarez has now apologised for his actions, which was the right thing to do. However, all of us have a duty to behave in a responsible manner and we hope he now understands what is expected of anyone representing Liverpool Football Club.' Dalgish added: 'Ian Ayre has made the club's position absolutely clear and it is right that Luis Suarez has now apologised for what happened at Old Trafford. To be honest, I was shocked to hear that the player had not shaken hands having been told earlier in the week that he would do.' Check out Hansen, Lineker and Shearer's views on this matter on Match of the Day.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day features the finest live band that yer actual Keith Telly Topping ever had the pleasure too see - about thirteen times. Here's Tim, Jim, Larry, Dave, Saul, Mark and Andy - the magnificent seven, and their one of their proper twenty-four carat masterpieces.

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