Saturday, March 03, 2012

A Horse Is A Horse, Of Course Of Course

Neil Gaiman's Doctor Who episode The Doctor's Wife has been nominated for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation in this year's Nebula Awards, the annual event held by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. As with 2011's runner-up Vincent and the Doctor, this year's nomination (written by acclaimed fantasy author Gaiman and directed by Richard Clark) is the only television programme in the category. It is up against The Adjustment Bureau, Midnight in Paris, Source Code, Hugo, Captain America: The First Avenger and Attack The Block. The winners will be announced at SFWA's Forty Seventh Annual Nebula Awards Weekend, taking place at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Arlington between 17 and 20 May.

On a similar theme, nominations for the thirty eighth annual Saturn Awards have now been announced. Doctor Who is up for one award this year, for Best 'Youth-Oriented' Series On Television. It faces competition from Being Human, The Nine Lives of Chloe King, Secret Circle, Teen Wolf and The Vampire Diaries. Interestingly, its spin-off, Torchwood: Miracle Day, has done rather better in the nominations, with the series itself nominated in the Best Presentation in Television (ten episodes of less) category where it will be facing Camelot, Falling Skies, Game of Thrones, The Killing (that's the US version not the Danish one), The Walking Dead and Trek Nation. Eve Myles has been listed for Best Actress award and Bill Pullman appears in the list for Best Supporting Actor In Television, and does Lauren Ambrose. Previously, Doctor Who won Best Television in 1997 and Best International Series in 2008, a category that Torchwood: Children of Earth also won in 201. The award winners will be announced at a special ceremony on 20 June in Burbank.

Still on the subject of Doctor Who, in an interview with SFX, executive producer Caroline Skinner confirmed that the first recording block contains two individual stories being directed by Saul Metzstein. On whether all of the scripts for series seven were written, she said: 'No. If only. But, we’ve got a lot of them and the ones that are written are really, really epic and very exciting. [The opening episode] is, indeed, written by Steven and it’s going to blow everybody’s mind.' Speaking on The Richard Bacon Show on 5Live this week, BBC1 Controller Danny Cohen talked about series developments: 'The Doctor Who team are writing away. There are more episodes next year. We've got some big events coming up in the near future. So, stay tuned! I always try and keep things close to my chest with Doctor Who because there's such interest in it, and I think it's right that Steven Moffat and the team are the people that bring the news on Doctor Who to the audience rather than me.' In other words, having opened his mouth and put his foot in it last year by appearing to suggest that Moffat's work on Sherlock was the reason for a delay in Doctor Who, Danny has now decided to keep his own counsel. A wise decision, young man. Toby Whithouse talked to BBC America about writing for the new series: 'My episode is in a genre I've never written before — frankly, no one has written in that genre for quite a while now.' (Fascinating quote given that, in Being Human, Toby's pretty much written for just about every genre it's possible to imagine - flat share romcom, horror, suspense, Telefantasy, the lot.) 'But I absolutely love it,' he continued. 'Steven gives me a one-line pitch, and then I'll go away and put together a story and so on. And he gave me a great one-line pitch for this, so I'm really excited about it. Doctor Who is always a joy to write. It never gets boring, it never gets dull, it never gets routine. It's an incredibly difficult show to write because it’s remarkably complex, but it also has to have such momentum and pace. And within that there has to be room for character and humour and so on. It's always a huge challenge but always extraordinary fun. That's why I keep going back.' And, finally in our Doctor Who round-up, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has suggested that the next series will, largely, focus on new monsters. The showrunner told French websites Le Village and that he prefers devising original threats for The Doctor to face. 'I always say new monsters are better in Doctor Who because you fall in love with monsters when they're new,' he explained. 'One of the temptations, particularly if it's a success is to keep repeating your hits, which means you hear it again and again and again.' The BBC's popular long-running SF family drama's seventh run began shooting last month in Wales. Sherlock star Rupert Graves, The Fast Show's Mark Williams and the great David Bradley are among the guest actors confirmed to appear in the new episodes.

'It's kind of the era of British drama - there's a lot of interest in what's being produced here at the moment,' says Caroline Torrance, who oversees drama acquisitions at BBC Worldwide. Earlier this week, new and returning titles - such as the forthcoming Parade's End and Doctor Who - nudged the genre into the limelight at BBC Worldwide's TV Exports Fair, with some of Britain's best-known actors promoting their programmes to foreign broadcasters. Whereas factual shows, especially in natural history, performed stronger in the past, high-end fiction like Sherlock is now creating a buzz, and sales of UK drama (made both in and outside the BBC) have risen year-on-year. As the corporation's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide sells output not just for the BBC, but also on behalf of some independent producers. In 2010-11, headline UK programme sales - in all genres - grew by nearly eight per cent, of which BBC Worldwide returned one hundred and eighty two million smackers to the BBC. The increasing interest in UK shows also led to the annual BBC Worldwide showcase moving from its previous Brighton base - where they turned away buyers last year due to lack of space - to a bigger state-of-the-art centre in Liverpool, hosting more than six hundred and forty buyers from America to Asia. 'We have experienced huge interest across the board on fiction because the content itself has changed and become more international-savvy,' says Francesca Doria, territory manager for the Northern Mediterranean [Italy, Greece and Turkey]. 'Historically the Northern Med had a very strong influx of US content, led by the cinema penetration of the market, and then television follows obviously. Now for the first time, we see that UK fiction, particularly BBC fiction, is sitting alongside these programmes and holding its own.' Inside Men, starring Steven Mackintosh, was a popular choice at the showcase's viewing booths and Call the Midwife, the BBC's biggest new drama of the last decade, has caught the attention of international buyers intrigued by its ratings of eleven million punters. Hits also included the regulars - the BBC's natural history shows, Strictly Come Dancing, Top Gear, Sherlock and Doctor Who the latter three of which have been sold to approximately two hundred countries each. Although Steve Macallister, who oversees the BBC Worldwide showcase, says that he is 'keeping an eye' on the turbulent markets in Spain and Greece, the economic downturn has inadvertently aided sales of UK shows abroad. 'It's a general observation but we found that most broadcasters were cutting local production budgets first and, instead of producing as many programmes, they might buy a couple of shows from distributors to fill those vacated slots,' says Macallister. 'So the profits of sales and distributions have grown ten per cent a year for the last five years.' There has also been a marked increase in the number of Asian and digital buyers at this year's showcase. Macallister adds: 'Those kind of sectors have a bit of tailwind behind them because they are growth sectors, so we're trying to tap into them to mitigate any risks in some of the more mature markets.' For the first time, a day was dedicated towards digital consumption including speakers from online streaming service Netflix and social TV platform Miso. With Channel Four's Misfits attracting twenty millions views in the US even though it was only shown on the video-on-demand service Hulu, Gary Woolf, who leads digital activity at BBC Worldwide, reckons that the potential for digital cooperation is 'really exciting.' He says that the challenge lies in how to expose content online while retaining value and minimising piracy. 'It's really important that we are sensitive to what plays out on what platform when, so that we're absolutely optimising the value.' At the 2011 showcase, around fifty million quid of programme sales were made - more than twenty per cent of the revenue at BBC Worldwide's sales and distribution. But despite the growing profile of UK drama, factual shows are still a hugely popular genre. Michael Palin took a break from his travels to promote his upcoming BBC series on Brazil, one of the few countries he has not previously visited. Plus David Attenborough's new three-part series Life Stories was also shown at the convention in Liverpool. The shift to its new Merseyside home has enabled BBC Worldwide to host its biggest ever showcase and the ambition is for the event to grow even more - it already has spin-offs in Rio de Janeiro and Beijing for the Latin American and Chinese markets respectively. 'A lot of feedback from international buyers [at the Liverpool venue] is that this rivals anything from the Hollywood studios,' says Macallister. 'Given that they are our key competitors in the international programmes field, that's a real compliment.'

Sixteen years ago, BBC2 broadcast Our Friends in the North, the much lauded tale of four friends and social and political change that began in the 1960s and launched Chris Eccleston and Danny Craig to careers that would take them to places a long way from Tyneside. Next week the channel will attempt a similar feat with White Heat. Kicking off in 1965, the drama focuses on a group of flatmates as they move through the decades to the present day. With acclaimed screenwriter Paula Milne behind the scripts, it is perhaps little wonder that the drama is being thought of as Our Friends in the South. 'As a woman, this piece is semi-autobiographical – so that is what you see on screen,' said Milne. 'The inevitable comparison is with Our Friends in the North, and that is a brilliant drama and showed the audience is interested in long television stories. But it didn't have anything to do with women.' Tell that to Gina McKee, missus! Feminism and its development are an essential part of Milne's narrative, she claims. 'What women went through in the sixties was seismic. So I wanted to show that, because you don't often see it.' White Heat – the title is taken from Dominic Sandbrook's history of the 1960s, itself based a quote by Harold Wilson – has Charlotte, played by Claire Foy, at its core. A middle-class girl from a seemingly traditional background, she moves into a flat where people from a mix of classes, races and political attitudes have been brought together as a social experiment. 'When I was a student I went to look at flats and in one of them, someone was going to set up this utopia. "We're going to create a new way of living" – so no sex with the same person on consecutive days,' said Milne. 'There were four of us in the room and I blushed and went absolutely scarlet! I was eighteen, from Bucks and had been to a convent.' The decision to follow the characters across the decades came after the writer realised it was impossible to separate out individual decades; each was an evolution of and a reaction to the one that preceded it. The BBC was interested in a drama covering the end of the last century. 'Initially I think they were looking at starting in the 1980s. But I was in Grosvenor Square [for a student protest in 1968 against the Vietnam war]. I experienced these things, or heard others experience them,' she said. 'I wanted to look to various things that I remembered or were worth looking at again but hadn't been perhaps so covered. So I didn't do the miners' strike, for instance.' The result is the drama, whose cast includes Lindsay Duncan, Juliet Stevenson, Jeremy Northam, Tamsin Greig and Hugh Quarshie, could be said to focus too heavily on 'issues' which are tackled and seemingly ticked off a little too neatly – a situation underlined by the housemates' differences from each other. Milne began her writing career on Crossroads in the 1970s, subsequently creating BBC hospital soap Angels, and the BAFTA-winning The Politician's Wife for Channel Four, before recent work such as Small Island and The Night Watch. Over her career she has seen the number of female screenwriters grow – she had to use new writers for Angels because there were so few available. 'That has now all changed. The depth of women screenwriters is great to see. There are lots of women novelists and theatre writers but there have not been scriptwriters.' Recent television hits Call the Midwife, Birdsong and Scott & Bailey have all been written by women. Combined with the rise of female TV executives – the controller of BBC2 is Janice Hadlow, while Channel Four's chief creative officer is Jay Hunt – Milne says this increase is having an affect on TV, with more and better roles for women on screen. White Heat continues the BBC's push to invest further in BBC2 drama. Last year the channel showcased a clutch of ambitious new dramas including The Shadow Line, The Hour and The Crimson Petal and the White. 'We doubled the budget on BBC2. It had lost its historical identity for a certain type of drama. We did that and then had all these interesting people coming with their brilliant ideas,' said Ben Stephenson, the BBC's controller of drama commissioning. While BBC1 shows have to be for everyone, BBC2 programmes can come at stories from an angle, said Stephenson. 'There are going to be pieces that some people like, and some that people don't. I like that – it means that people are talking and having different opinions about it.' BBC2 dramas in the pipeline include Parade's End by Tom Stoppard and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and The Fall a new police thriller starring Gillian Anderson.

There's a very good interview with Big Eamonn Hunt about his recently ended stint on MasterChef on the Radio Times website: 'One of the best moments was just getting onto the show. I was on the first show last year. I came Twenty First out of Twenty, went away and to my delight found out that I could take part again. Once you're on the show, you can't take part again, but they deemed this to be the audition round, so technically I hadn't made it on to the show. So that was a big thrill, just getting through. The biggest down in the show was I did a meal for Tom Kitchin and it was just a slow car crash, everything went wrong, it was horrible. I probably cooked the worst meal I've made for fifteen years and I had to do it for Tom Kitchin. It was very upsetting. Food's an emotional thing anyway. He said when he saw the ingredients I'd picked, his heart soared – then he saw what I'd cooked and said: "You've broken my heart!" I was devastated.'

Award-winning stand up Sarah Millican has dismissed concerns about the shortage of female comedians on television, saying it may be easier for women trying to make their mark on the small screen than it is for men. BBC panel shows such as Mock the Week and Qi – on which Millican is a regular – were singled out by a report about television diversity in January for featuring 'token women.' But Millican said: 'If you think how many female comics there are compared to how many male comics there are, I think there are quite a few female comics on the TV. Because everyone talks about this as if it's a big subject, I think women coming through have it possibly slightly easier than men coming through,' Millican said in an interview for the Gruniad Morning Star. 'Men coming through have to compete with loads of other men, whereas women coming through will be grabbed. If she is any good she will be grabbed and put on a panel show. That's sort of positive discrimination, which I don't really agree with any more than negative discrimination. I think you should just get on if you are good.' Millican, who won the people's choice award at last year's British Comedy Awards, highlighted female comics such as Miranda Hart, Andi Osho, Holly Walsh and new BBC2 sketch show Watson and Oliver, starring Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver, as examples of women making their mark on television. On the tendency of panel shows to feature one women among a number of men, Millican said: 'It's a numbers game. If you look at a bill of comics at a comedy club they spread the women out over the months because there aren't that many women doing it. 'I have done Qi, Sandi Toksvig and Jo Brand, quite a few women have done that. If they put us all on one they wouldn't have any comics for the rest of the series.' Millican's new BBC2 series, The Sarah Millican Television Show, begins on BBC2 on 8 March.
David Cameron had clearly hoped to have drawn a line under his mildly embarrassing friendship with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks. But. the Prime Minister has now found himself caught up in what is inevitably becoming known as Horsegate. Downing Street 'sources' indicated that Cameron 'may well' have ridden on Brooks's former police horse, Raisa, before he became Prime Minister. Cameron admitted that he 'went riding' with his Etonian Rifle contemporary Charlie Brooks, the husband of the former News International chief executive, before the election in 2010. As you do. Well, as you do if you're David Cameron, anyway. Brooks is a racehorse trainer whose stables are a central part of the 'Chipping Norton set.' Cameron told Five News: 'It's a matter of record that I have been riding with Rebekah Brooks' husband, Charlie Brooks. He is a friend of mine for thirty years standing and a neighbour in my constituency so that's a matter of record, but since I have been Prime Minister I think I have been on a horse once and it wasn't that one.' As ever with any episode which merits a 'gate' suffix, the questions did not stop there. Downing Street 'sources' allegedly indicated that there was 'a strong possibility' that Cameron had ridden on the retired Metropolitan police horse. The Brooks stables are said not to be vast and so there was 'a good chance' that Cameron may have ridden Raisa. One alleged No 10 'source' said that the Prime Minister's involvement in Horsegate was 'an illustration' of the admission by Cameron earlier this year that politicians had become too close to the media. 'We know that they were all too close,' one alleged 'source' allegedly said. 'We have all accepted that politicians and the media were too close.' The alleged 'source' allegedly said that the Prime Minister 'never went as far' as Sarah Brown who hosted a pyjama party for well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks in Downing Street. 'The Prime Minister does not wear pyjamas on the back of a horse,' the 'source' added. The Prime Minister's spokesman said that details of Cameron's meetings would be published, though he added that he did not believe Cameron's horseriding with Brooks would be included. 'It was not a meeting,' the spokesman said. 'The Prime Minister does not have meetings on horses.' And, still the funniest thing about this whole malarkey is that the BBC reporter sent to cover the affair was Fiona Trott. I mean, come on, that's funny!

Almost three hours into his testimony-by-satellite to Lord Justice Leveson's phone-hacking inquiry on Thursday, the former Scotland Yard troubleshooter Champagne John Yates said rather self-pityingly: 'In fairness to me.' Quite so, the judge assured him, but there was really no need. From his bolthole in Bahrain, where he is now helping 'improve local police efficiency,' Yates had been very fair to himself all day. The Met police's ex-assistant commissioner, who resigned over the affair last year, was one of three smart London police chiefs, all prematurely retired through a variety of - alleged - professional mishap, who shared their thoughts with the inquiry. At issue was why they had all happily embraced News International's 'single rogue reporter' defence before, during and after the Gruniad Morning Star first alleged that phone-hacking had existed at the Scum of the World on an industrial scale. What's more, they'd had the evidence that the story was true since 2006, long before they loaned well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks a Met horse. Ex-counter-terrorism chief, Peter Clarke, said that he wouldn't have done 'anything different' in terms of allocating resources between fighting al-Qaeda and protecting celebrities privacy. After all, 'nobody died' and they had foiled seventy murderous plots. Andy Hayman, Clarke's ex-boss, newly-bespectacled and far less cocky (and, thus, less entertaining) than when he clashed with members of the Commons home affairs committee last year, said much the same, though he 'could see' a lot of 'perception' problems, now that Leveson or his QC, Robert Jay, pointed them out. But in the battle for headlines it was Champagne Yates who won. Or rather lost. Unlike one fuddy-duddy colleague who saw the media as 'the enemy' and reportedly kept telling Yates to cool it ('that was his style', Yates claimed) there appeared from the evidence presented to be no restaurant or wine bar where the ex-assistant commissioner would not risk his liver or cholesterol count drinking champers in the interests of maintaining law and order. It read, as the Gruniad noted, like the Michelin Guide to Counter-Terrorism. How does he survive in alcohol-free Bahrain, one wonders? Hayman, once memorably described by a member of the Commons Home Affairs Committee as coming across 'like a dodgy geezer' and who eventually left the force over expense claims, fought Yates to a close draw in terms of his love of a drop of excellent Moët. In February 2007 he chalked up a five hundred and sixty six smackers lunch bill (including over one hundred and eighty quid on booze alone) for nine at Shepherd's, an expense-account joint in Westminster's lobbyist territory, to mark an admired colleague's promotion. Around ten the same evening, the amiable Hayman splashed out forty seven notes for a bottle of champagne on his Met credit card. Did he share it with a contact from the Crime Reporters Association? With Lucy Panton, crime correspondent of the Scum of the World, perhaps, asked Jay? Or with her then-boss, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks? Hayman couldn't remember. But, he was adamant that such contacts, in keeping the public onside and alert to the terrorist threat, had been 'worth the investment of time.' And the investment in champagne? That, he didn't say. Yates was only able to cap that by virtue of a longer list of exotic restaurants visited. Very expensive restaurants, said Jay of the one hundred knicker-a-head luvvies favourite, The Ivy. 'I think they're all expensive in London,' replied Yates sorrowfully. Sometimes he dined in company with his old friend Neil Wallis, then Andy Coulson's number two at the Scum of the World, later a paid Scotland Yard adviser, together with a chap called Nick Candy whom he described as 'a friend in property.' The Candy brothers are 'in property' in the same way that the King of Saudi Arabia is 'in petrol stations.' Nick 'usually picked up the bill,' Yates said. The trio of coppers all insisted that being wined and dined by the hacks had 'no impact' on their decision not to widen the 2006 investigation into royal hacking on the basis of what turned out to be four hundred and nineteen names on the private detective Glenn Mulcaire's files. No impact whatsoever. No siree, bob. Not even a smidgen of an impact. Yet here was Jay digging up an e-mail from one of Panton's Scum of the World colleagues asking her for 'a line' from Yates and suggesting that it was 'time to call in all those bottles of champagne.' I may have shared the occasional glass of bubbly, Yates conceded, but only with several other people. You half-expected him to add 'deserving widows and asylum seekers.' Leveson is clearly taken with the argument that phone hacking was a lesser priority during the scariest years of al-Qaeda plotting. But, he can't understand why the Gruniad's challenge in 2009 ('just an article in a newspaper,' said Yates dismissively, though it would ultimately turn out to be one hundred per cent true and, effectively, end his career when this was revealed two years later) was so lightly and quickly dismissed. Not in eight hours as previously reported, it emerged, but in rather in just six. If they lacked the resources to bring a wider case, the least the Yard could have done, Jay suggested at one stage, was to call in News International chiefs and give them a right good bollocking. Instead they didn't even check that suspected hacking victims like the then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott had even been notified. Was it that Prescott, unlike some New Labour colleagues, could not have been 'advised' to keep it to himself and not make wave? Perish the very thought. Though no one said so, during the cash-for-honours investigation, the Met arrested Tony Blair's staff and Tory MP Damian Green (on leaks) on far less evidence than they had in their Scum of the World file. Yet they arrested on one save a 'single rogue reporter' and his private dick. The moral? Not sure, but let's consider it over a nice champagne lunch.

A wing of New Broadcasting House is to be named after John Peel, the late Radio 1 DJ. The Egton Wing, which is on the site of Radio 1's former Egton house home in London's W1, will become The Peel Wing in tribute to the man who championed new music and anticipated new trends. 'John was one of the BBC's great radio talents,' said Mark Thompson in an e-mail to staff, 'broadcasting regularly on Radio 1 from its launch in 1967.' The Peel Wing will be a fitting tribute to a man who personified so much of what the BBC stands for - quality, creativity and innovation.' John started out in American broadcasting in the early 1960s before returning to the UK to pirate radio. He joined Radio 1 at its outset. His distinctive tone, intelligence, dry wit, passion for music and willingness to offer airtime to unsigned and underground talent soon made his programmes a must listen. They included the famous Peel Sessions - live performances by artists including Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and the Wailers, New Order, Nirvana and The Smiths. And The Fall, Half Man Half Biscuit and hundreds of others you won't find casually name-dropped by tabloids but who were just as important to his listeners, this blogger included. Four thousand Peel Sessions were broadcast by two thousand artists. Peel also broadcast regularly on the BBC World Service, and attracted a new - and very different - following from the nineties with his Home Truths programme on Radio 4. He made occasional - and highly likeable - forays into television, presenting Top of the Pops, the BBC's Glastonbury coverage and contributing to BBC2's Grumpy Old Men. Thompson described Peel, who died suddenly in Peru in 2004, as 'a great ambassador' for the BBC. He was certainly that. 'As we move into the BBC's iconic new home at Broadcasting House, The Peel Wing will be a fitting tribute to a man who personified so much of what the BBC stands for - quality, creativity and innovation.'

James Blunt and Katherine Jenkins have been forced to cancel performing for British troops in Afghanistan because of problems flying there. Poor sods. As if they haven't got enough to put up with fighting the Taliban. The singers had been due to perform this week, but a malfunctioning RAF aircraft left them stranded in Cyprus.

Former Desperate Housewives actress Nicollette Sheridan has told a jury that she was 'shocked and humiliated' after being hit in the head by the show's creator. The star alleges that her character, Edie Britt, was killed off in the hit TV show in 2009, after she complained about creator Marc Cherry's conduct. Lawyers for Cherry claimed it was a 'light tap' meant to give the actress some direction for a scene. Sheridan is seeking six million quid in damages for unfair dismissal. Jurors heard how the scene that led to the dispute was originally not meant to include Sheridan's character. Her role was added after several revisions and was a short scene in which Britt needled her on-screen husband about how to write a love song. Sheridan, forty eight, told the Los Angeles Superior Court that she wanted a funny line to remain in the script, but Cherry resisted because it included part of a Beatles song, for which the studio would have to pay royalties. And, because it would have required her to walk in a straight line and talk at the same time. Probably. During discussions, the actress said Cherry shouted: 'What is it that you want?', then hit her on the head with his open right hand. Sheridan's character left the series in 2009, but continues to receives royalties from the show. 'It was shocking, humiliating, it was demeaning,' Sheridan said. 'I told him, "You just hit me in the head, that is not okay."' The actress told the court Cherry appeared stunned after the incident and later apologised to her. Sheridan's character was killed in a car accident in the show's fifth season. At that stage Sheridan was earning one hundred and seventy five thousand dollars per episode, as well as a profit share. She said that although Cherry had left her character's fate in doubt at the end of seasons three and four, he never mentioned killing her off until after the alleged row. Cherry and TV network ABC have denied any wrongdoing and said they will 'present evidence' that the decision to kill off Britt was made months before his argument with Sheridan. Defence lawyer Adam Levin said that after five seasons, 'writers could only do so much with the character,' adding: 'There were only so many husbands she could sleep with.' Cherry is expected to testify during the two-week trial, while stars Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria, Marcia Cross and Felicity Huffman are also listed as potential witnesses. Desperate Housewives, which began in 2004, is expected to end following its eighth season, which is currently being shown in the US.

A damages claim by Manchester United and Wales footballer Ryan Giggs against the Sun has been thrown out by a High Court judge. Because it was risible. Giggs was granted an injunction in April 2011 after a 14 April article in the Sun about an unnamed player's alleged affair with the alleged model Imogen Thomas. Allegedly. Despite the order, Giggs was widely identified as the player in question on a number of social networking sites. The newspaper had argued that the claim was 'dead in the water,' and it was indeed dismissed at the High Court on Friday. On 21 February, Giggs consented at the High Court to being named as the footballer behind the injunction, which prevented the publication of details of an alleged extra-marital affair. Mr Justice Tugendhat had been considering whether Giggs could sue the Sun for alleged breach of privacy. During arguments at the High Court hearing, Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Giggs, said the Sun 'misused' private information in the article, in which the footballer was not identified. Tomlinson said Giggs was claiming damages for the subsequent re-publication of information in other newspapers and on the Internet, and argued that his claim should go to trial. He suggested the Sun article 'generated a large media storm' and said the damages claim was about 'providing effective protection' for Giggs's right to privacy - enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. Richard Spearman QC, for the Sun's publisher News Group Newspapers, said the article reported Thomas's relationship with 'a Premier League player' and did not identify Giggs. He said that the Sun behaved 'properly' and was not responsible for what happened after the article appeared. The idea of the Sun ever behaving 'properly' is, of course, almost as laughable as anything in this case but it would appear that, despite pushing it as close as they dared, they did not behave 'illegally.' Which was the point at issue. Spearman said that legal action had been 'spun along for a long, long time' - an allegation Tomlinson described as being 'wholly without foundation' - and told the court: 'Going forward, there just is not a basis.' In a written judgment handed down on Friday, Mr Justice Tugendhat said that he had decided to 'refuse to grant relief' to Giggs. Stop sniggering at the back. Giggs was originally granted an injunction on the basis that Thomas appeared to have been trying to blackmail him. However, the 2003 Miss Wales and former Big Brother contestant took legal action against him over this suggestion and, in December 2011, Giggs 'accepted' that she had not been blackmailing him at all.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is still, very much, in a reflective Monkees mood following the sad demise of Davy Jones earlier this week. So, why not dig this one out - one of their finest moments, from the movie Head. And, yes, that is indeed Neil Young playing acoustic guitar and Ry Cooder on slide on this quite beautiful Carole King song.

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