Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How Much Longer Will Output Be Raw?

One tiny bit of Doctor Who news which appears to have escaped wide scale notice (and my thanks to Kev for alerting yer actual Keith Telly Topping to this nugget which he'd, like many other people seemingly, missed completely). At the Cardiff Convention over the weekend, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) apparently confirmed that series seven of the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama has been planned to run fourteen episodes almost straight through. That's five episodes leading to the end of the Ponds (their finale being filmed in New York and featuring The Weeping Angels), pretty much straight to the Christmas episode, then the final eight episodes of series seven running in January and February 2013. Confirmation will, of course, come a little closer to the time. But that's certainly interesting since most of the speculation of late in fandom circles has been that the first five episodes would be shown in August and September.

New Doctor Who companion Jenna-Louise Coleman has admitted that she knows little about her character. The twenty five-year-old actress was unveiled to the public last week and will debut on the popular, long-running family SF drama this Christmas. 'I have an idea of the story, of the character and of a few surprises,' she told the Radio Times. 'But I don't know her name or where she's from. I just told Steven and Caroline Skinner, "Don't tell me anything until I need to know it."' Matt Smith recently praised Coleman, claiming that she gave the 'most interesting' audition in front of showrunner Moffat. 'Normally you're just reading in front of a camera, but with this, it was so physical,' recalled the actress. 'We were using props and running around so it felt like playing - and like a partnership straight away.'

It's reserved for the show's biggest secrets, but the makers of Doctor Who have long used code names and anagrams when they want to keep something from us. Most recently, Jenna-Louise Coleman revealed that she had to pretend she was auditioning for something called Men on Waves. She told Radio Times: 'When she was auditioning, Karen Gillan had been given a codename - Panic Moon, which is an anagram of Companion - so I worked out that Men on Waves is an anagram of Woman Seven, because this is the seventh series. Weirdly, seven is my lucky number and this is my seventh job.' Both Karen and Jenna were cast by the current Doctor Who showrunner, Steven Moffat, but he didn't introduce the concept to the show. Back in 2005, the very biggest secret of them all was the show itself: everybody wanted to know what the revived Doctor Who would look like and the production team went so far as to relabel the very few videos that had to leave the office. Instead of Doctor Who, they were labelled with an anagram: Torchwood. Russell Davies liked that anagram so much that he used it as the real title for his next SF drama, which he had originally planned to call Excalibur. Usually these anagrams and code names are not meant to become public. But just occasionally, they are worked directly into Doctor Who and seen or heard on screen. As in Gridlock, an early - and rather good - episode of the 2007 series, where the Face of Boe tells The Doctor: 'You Are Not Alone.' You then had to pay attention for another eight episodes but if you did, you got a big clue that someone was not who or what they seemed. In the episode Utopia, the Doctor meets a professor whose surname is Yana (Derek Jacobi), who turns out to be another Time Lord. It transpires Yana is The Master and this time the anagrams and the codes are also a little nod to the original Doctor Who series, which regularly hid the names of the Master and Davros. In the days before every conceivable fragment of information about Doctor Who could be examined online, the place most fans got any details of the show from was Radio Times itself. Cast lists and credits would be studied and the producers knew this. So in 1988's Remembrance of the Daleks, the production team knew full well that listing a character as being played by Terry Malloy would tip off fans that Davros, creator of the Daleks, was back. Instead, the cast list they provided to Radio Times for that week, they billed the actor as Roy Tromelly. Some twenty nine years ago, The Doctor (then played by Peter Davison) travelled to the Twelfth Century for the story The King's Demons which, Radio Times informed its readers, co-starred one James Stoker. It's an anagram of 'Master's joke.' The year before saw it happen twice: both times with The Master and both times playing on the name of the actor, Anthony Ainley. In Time-Flight the Master was credited as being played by Leon Ny Taiy and in Davison's very first story, Castrovalva, the newly regenerated Fifth Doctor believed he had found sanctuary and a friend in the form of the gentle, mumbling, wise old Portreeve, played by one Neil Toynay. No such anagram trickery was needed for Ainley's first appearance in the show a year earlier as nobody even knew that The Master was going to appear in The Keeper of Traken. Ainley co-starred in this Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) story as Tremas, the father of Nyssa. But in the last moments of the tale, Tremas was killed by the Master, who took over his body. If the practice was used in the 1980s to fool viewers, in the 1970s it was more to fool - or at least pacify - parts of the BBC. There was a rule preventing producers and script editors on the show, who were then BBC staff, commissioning scripts from themselves. But, sometimes it was necessary to break the rule because of production problems or because scripts went wrong and had to be replaced at the last moment. Most famously, the six-part 1978 Tom Baker story, The Invasion of Time, was a last-minute script written to replace another serial that was going to cost too much to produce. It's famous because it's the story where a huge amount of time is spent walking around a TARDIS that was revealed to have a lot of brick walls and look a great deal like the nearest location the show could find. The Invasion of Time was written by the show's then script editor Anthony Read and its producer, Graham Williams, but it was credited on screen and in Radio Times as being by David Agnew, a pseudonym often used by the BBC in such circumstances. Williams again collaborated on another 'David Agnew' script a year later, this time City of Death with Read's replacement as script editor, the late Douglas Adams. There were several other occasions when the only solution to a script problem was for the production team to work together to write a new one. But there was also one time when it was done just a little less harmoniously. The great Terrance Dicks so objected to rewrites of his 1976 story, The Brain of Morbius, that he insisted his name be taken off it. Script editor Robert Holmes asked what name Terrance wanted used instead and Dicks reports that he just said to make it 'a bland pseudonym.' To this day, Doctor Who some episode guides still credit The Brain of Morbius to a writer called Robin Bland. Perhaps the very first example, certainly the first to have been revealed outside the programme, is the actor Sydney Wilson. Again, there's no such person. But back in 1965, when Doctor Who itself was only two years old, there was a story called The Rescue. I don't think it's much of a spoiler, forty seven years on, to inform viewers not to trust the character Bennett. He may seem to be the good guy trying to protect teenage orphan Vicky (Maureen O'Brien) from the evil Koquillion but, of course, in reality, he's got another agenda entirely. He is Koquillion and that little surprise would've been wrecked by the cast list. Consequently, for the episode Desperate Measures, the second of this two-part story, Koquillion was credited as being played by Sydney Wilson. It's a combination of the names Sydney Newman and Donald Wilson. Newman was the BBC's drama boss and the effective creator of Doctor Who and Wilson was the production's head of serials who, along with others in the drama department, were behind the development of the format to screen.

Big cuddly Lorraine Kelly, the student's surrogate auntie, has landed the job of hosting ITV's breakfast flop Daybreak, according to tabloid reports. You know, the same sort of tabloid reports that claimed Harry Hill's TV Burp had been 'saved' by Wee Shughie McFee, the scowling-faced Scottish chef from Crossroads just a couple of weeks ago. Kelly has been linked to the series for a number of months following the departures, in humiliation, of original hosts grumpy Adrian Chiles and the Curiously Orange Christine Bleakley. According to the Mirra, which of course has a one hundred per cent record for totally accurate reportage, Kelly now 'has the job' and there are 'four men' in line to join her on the breakfast sofa. Presumably, they'll be sitting at one end and her at the other to balance it all up? Or, maybe not. Time will tell. It usually does. Former Strictly Come Dancing winner smug-faced Chris Hollins, Katherine Jenkins's ex-boyfriend Gethin Jones, Five News's Matt Barbet and ITV correspondent Keir Simmons are, apparently, 'the final four contenders for the gig.' An alleged 'source' allegedly told the alleged tabloid: 'Lorraine is a tried-and-tested favourite with viewers. Some will say that we're playing it rather safe by sticking with someone who is already a big daytime star for the channel. But the hope is that, in pairing her with a new male co-presenter, the whole offering will seem fresh and different and together they will draw in millions of extra viewers. The male presenter is crucial to this - we are keen to cast someone lesser known so he can "grow" with the audience.' Daybreak, which is now being edited by David Kermode, is expected to be relaunched in the summer. Dan Lobb and horrorshow (and drag) Kate Garraway are the current stand-in presenters on the show. If Kelly is confirmed it will be yet another humiliating about-face for ITV whose breakfast format before Daybreak, GMTV, was presented by, amongst others, Kelly (and, indeed, Garraway). Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Mad Men returned to the US cable channel AMC after a hiatus of nearly two years with three and a half million punters, its biggest-ever audience, on Sunday night. The double bill of episodes to launch the hotly anticipated fifth season was twenty one per cent up on the audience for the previous run, which began in July 2010. Mad Men season four averaged 2.3 million, with 2.4 million viewers for the finale. Mad Men has never been a really big rating show for AMC, indeed, as with formats like The Wire and Six Feet Under, it's arguable that it's actually more popular it other territories. But the critical acclaim, Emmys and Golden Globe awards the 1960s period drama garnered opened the door for the cable channel to branch out from its traditional fare of movie repeats into more scripted series, including Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and the US version of The Killing. Zombie drama The Walking Dead is - by some distance - AMC's biggest ratings hit, with the season two finale attracting nine million viewers earlier this month, the channel's best-ever figures. The second season average audience for the show was 6.9 million. The Walking Dead's ratings compare respectably with those for shows on the US terrestrial networks, which have access to a far bigger potential audience. On Sunday night CBS's The Good Wife, for instance, had 9.3 million viewers. Mad Men returns to UK TV on Tuesday night on Sky Atlantic.

Mad Men's attention to period detail will extend beyond the show itself when the long-awaited fifth series makes its UK debut on Tuesday night. Sky Atlantic will not broadcast any current advertisements during the two-hour season premiere, replacing them entirely with classic promos from the 1960s. Brands that would have been top of the wish list for Don Draper's British equivalents, including Milk Tray, Citröen, Kit Kat, Tetley's tea and Birdseye, will feature. There will also be a smattering of American advertisements from the 1960s, including American Airlines and Pringles. Among the most memorable campaigns revived for one night only will be the original Cadbury's Flake girl, the Milk Marketing Forum's 'pinta man', and the Fairy washing-up liquid advert starring Nanette Newman and a young Leslie Ash. Now hands that do dishes can be soft as your bum ... and all that. Nick Milligan, managing director of Sky Media, said: 'Taking our inspiration from the series, we wanted to give our viewers the opportunity to enjoy adverts from the era of Mad Men and to create real event programming. I'm delighted with the response we've had from the industry.' Sky's business model is built more on subscription payments than advertising revenue, especially on Sky Atlantic, which is only available to Sky TV homes. But it seems the brands involved were keen to highlight their long history by paying for the spots. Stephen Davis, EMEA marketing director for American Airlines - whose vintage advert features American's innovations of the time, such as accepting credit cards - said: 'This initiative provides an opportunity to showcase our historical advertising, which is then a great segue into the present day with our Kevin Spacey/Individual campaign.'

And, speaking of returning favourites, Silent Witness is back on BBC1 on Sunday evening for a fifteenth season with the first two-part story Death Has No Dominion. Emilia Fox, Tom Ward and William Gaminara all reprise their roles for the new series and the first episode see's Terra Nova actress Shelley Conn guest-star. Check out the - really rather effective - trailer.
Part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation empire naughtily employed computer hacking dirty tricks to undermine the business of its chief TV rival, according to allegations made by BBC1's Panorama programme on Monday. The allegations stem from apparently incriminating e-mails the programme-makers have obtained, and on-screen descriptions for the first time from two of the people said to have be involved, a German hacker and the operator of a pirate website which, they claim, was secretly controlled by a Murdoch company. The witnesses allege that a software company NDS, owned by News Corp, cracked the smart card codes of rival company ONdigital. ONdigital, owned by the ITV companies Granada and Carlton, eventually went bust amid a welter of counterfeiting by pirates, leaving the immensely lucrative pay-TV field clear for Sky. The allegations, if proved, cast further doubt on whether News Corp meets the 'fit and proper' test required to run a broadcaster in Britain. It emerged earlier this month that broadcasting regulator Ofcom has set up a unit called Project Apple to establish whether BSkyB, 39.1 per cent owned by News Corp, meets the test. The allegations - if true, and News Corp deny them - are, potentially, game changing. A News Corporation company recruited a pay-TV 'pirate' to post hacked details of a rival's secret codes online. Lee Gibling claims that he set up a website in the late 1990s known as The House of Ill-Compute or Thoic. He claims that NDS, a pay-TV smartcard maker, then funded expansion of the Thoic site and later had him distribute the set-top pay-TV codes of rival ONdigital (later relaunched as ITVdigital). NDS denied this and said that Thoic was only used' to gather intelligence on hackers.' It claims that Gibling worked as 'a consultant' who was 'used legitimately' to inform on hackers. ITVdigital was first launched as ONdigital and was set up as a rival to Sky TV in 1998. Ulrika Jonsson may have flicked the switch that put ONdigital on air, but the weather never improved for BSkyB's short-lived pay-TV rival. Four years later, the service, by then renamed ITVdigital, went under, and if it is remembered at all it is for almost bankrupting several lower league football clubs due to the collapse of a wildly over-ambitious TV deal and for the adverts featuring Johnny Vegas and Monkey which became a genuine cult in their own right. It struggled for many reasons, some of its own making: its channel reception was poor, its initial boxes were late, and the immediate reason for its demise was the massively overpriced three hundred and fifteen million quid contract for the rights to second-tier Football League matches that few punters wanted to watch. Nor was it helped by the aggressively competitive approach adopted by Sky, which demanded high fees to carry the Football League channel to the point where ITVdigital decided it wasn't worth being on the satellite service. But behind the scenes, allegedly, lurked another problem: piracy. In 1998, digital TV did not even exist. BSkyB's satellite service was poorer-quality analogue, but it launched Sky Digital in October. Its digital competitor arrived in November, using the so-called terrestrial network of TV transmitters. BSkyB had wanted to be a shareholder, but it was blocked by the then broadcasting regulator, and ITV companies Carlton and Granada ended up with half each. Either company, or cable, was the only way to get multichannel TV. Freeview did not exist. In an era when most homes - without a Sky box - could watch just five terrestrial channels, consumer demand for digital was immediate, with BSkyB signing up one hundred thousand new digital subscribers in a month. But the widespread availability of the secret codes meant ITVdigital's services could be accessed for free by pirates. The company went bust in 2002. ITVdigital's former chief technical officer, Simon Dore, told the Panorama programme that piracy was 'the killer blow for the business, there is no question. The business had its issues aside from the piracy but those issues I believe would have been solvable by careful and good management. The real killer, the hole beneath the water line, was the piracy. We couldn't recover from that.' Gibling told Panorama the codes on the Thoic site originated from NDS. 'They delivered the actual software to be able to do this, with prior instructions that it should go to the widest possible community,' he said. NDS manufactures smartcards for all News Corporations' pay-TV companies across the world. Its UK security unit was fifty per cent funded by Sky. But the satellite broadcaster, chaired by James Murdoch, told the programme it had 'no involvement' in how the unit was run and was 'not aware' of Thoic. Two former senior policemen ran the NDS UK security unit. Ray Adams had been head of criminal intelligence at the Metropolitan Police and Len Withall, who had been a chief inspector in the Surrey force. Both men were secretly filmed by Panorama. Adams claimed that he 'would have arrested' Lee Gibling if he had known ITVdigital's code had been published on Thoic and denied having the codes himself. But internal NDS documents, obtained by Panorama, appear to show a hacked code was passed to Len Withall and Ray Adams from a technology expert inside the company. Gibling said NDS paid for Thoic's servers and was across all of its hacking and TV piracy. 'Everything that was in the closed area of Thoic was totally accessed by any of the NDS representatives,' he said. He added that although Thoic was in his name, in reality the website belonged to NDS. 'It was their baby and it started to become more their baby as they fashioned it to their own design.' Once ITVdigital's codes were published on Thoic, Gibling said his site was then used to defeat the electronic countermeasures that the company used to try to stop the piracy. Gibling claimed that new codes created by ITVdigital were sent out to other piracy websites. 'We wanted people to be able to update these cards themselves, we didn't want them buying a single card and then finding they couldn't get channels. We wanted them to stay and keep with On Digital, flogging it until it broke.' The BBC programme also noted that James Murdoch was a non-executive director of NDS when ITVdigital was hacked, although they were quick to add that there is no evidence he personally knew about the events reported by Panorama. Ofcom, the television regulator, is currently examining whether Murdoch and News Corporation are 'fit and proper' persons to be in control of BSkyB. Tom Watson MP (power to the people!), a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee that has been examining the phone-hacking scandal, has called for Ofcom to examine these new allegations in their assessment. 'Clearly allegations of TV hacking are far more serious than phone-hacking,' he said. 'It seems inconceivable that [Ofcom] would not want to look at these new allegations. Ofcom are now applying the fit and proper person test to Rupert and James Murdoch. It also seems inconceivable to me that if these allegations are true that Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch will pass that test.' NDS declined to be interviewed but said in a statement that it 'never authorised' or condoned the posting of any code belonging to any competitor on any website.

Ron Howard has revealed that he would like Lewis Hamilton to appear in his latest film. Formula 1 movie Rush centres on the rivalry between 1970s racers Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). Hamilton has been helping as a consultant for the film, and Howard has stated that he has enjoyed working with him. 'Lewis is great. The most impressive thing about him is that he came from a humble background and climbed to the top of his game,' he told the Sun. 'I had a long chat with him while starting work on the film, he was basically a consultant. I don't know if he would go for it. There should be a role for him, if he wanted it.' Well, he might be a bit busy doing his day job for the next few months, Ron. Rush also stars Olivia Wilde as supermodel Suzy Miller in the project, while Russell Crowe has also been tipped to appear. Ron Howard's plans to film on a disused airfield were recently opposed by Natural England.

Nick Baines, the Bishop of Bradford, has criticised modern TV producers for abandoning religion 'as if it were a toxic contaminator of decent culture.' Or, indeed, a load of fairy stories. I'll leave it up to you, dear blog reader, to consider a suitably punchline to that one. Writing in this week's Radio Times he said that beyond the BBC and 'a bit of Channel Four' religion had been eradicated from the airwaves as the result of an 'ideological knee-jerk' by TV bosses. No religion on telly? What the hell do you call Wee Shughie McFee, the scowling Scottish chef from Crossroads' programmes for ITV like The X Factor then, Bish? There's certainly a man with a massive God-complex if ever there was sauch a thing. Baines called this practice into question, pointing out that 'more people shape their lives around religious conviction and practice than attend sporting events,' and went on to highlight the disparity in budgets allocated to sport and religion by broadcasters. 'The point is not that religion should be privileged or protected,' he wrote. 'It is not to argue that religious propaganda should find space in the schedules of broadcasters. But it is to maintain that we can't understand people, events and the way the world is if we don't take religion seriously.' While the bishop praised the BBC's Easter programming as 'increasingly imaginative' and singled out some examples of exemplary religious programming, like the BBC2 sitcom Rev and Rageh Omaar's series The Life of Muhammad, he questioned the fact that the BBC does not employ a religion editor. Angling for a job there, Bish?

Now here's one from the 'you couldn't make it up' column. Last July, David Cameron reportedly launched a scathing attack on the access to primary care offered to patients, claiming that GPs were giving preferential access to 'people with money' whom they 'meet at dinner parties.' No, seriously, he did. The Prime Minister made the claim in a speech on 10 July in which he vowed to end the 'incredibly unfair' system of provision caused by the state's 'monopoly' of public services which, he argued, could be remedied by creating more opportunities for private and voluntary providers.
Cameron was speaking at the launch of the Government's radical white paper Open Public Services, which outlined proposals to give individuals and local communities more control and choice over the services they receive by breaking up the current system. Cos, one meets all sorts of perfectly dreadful 'people with money' at dinner parties, doesn't one, Dave?

Young viewers of BBC3 live debate show Free Speech tweeted twice per second during the show's first episode. The hour-long programme, broadcast monthly from a different location around the UK, debuted on 7 March. Out of the two hundred and sixty eight thousand reported viewers of the live show, almost sixteen thousand tweeted about it, according to data from social TV production company Telegraph Hill which managed the activity. Comments containing the Free Speech hashtag were retweeted eight hundred and sixty times. All of which is, of course, admirable and it's good that many of the viewers felt engaged enough by the contents of the programme that they commented upon it. But that still doesn't mean much in the overall scheme of things. You'll often find media articles claiming that a particular TV show had 'a great response on Twitter.' That usually means that a few thousand of its viewers immediately took to their social networking devices to say how much they'd enjoyed it whilst, you know, normal people did something else. 'The Only Way is Essex might well be the most talked about TV show on Twitter' but it still only has an audience a quarter that of Midsomer Murders! Free Speech, it is claimed, 'uses humour and banter to give the show a personality, which has proven to be embraced by fans.' And, it has an audience three times smaller than notorious ITV breakfast flop, Daybreak. Just, you know, for a bit of perspective.

BBC News has announced details of the first wave of job losses it will suffer under the cost-cutting Delivering Quality First initiative. And, they're severe. Three Newsnight reporters, three Radio 4 news reporters and seventeen posts in Radio 1 and Radio 1Xtra's merging news services will be lost by April next year. BBC staff were advised on Tuesday of the changes – part of a drive to save seventy million quid in news by 2017 - by News Group director Helen Boaden. Can this blogger suggest one very good way of saving at least one million of that. Chuck Helen Boaden and Mark Thompson into the gutter along with all the other turns. One million down, sixty nine million to go. 'I don't pretend that these changes will be easy or painless for individuals or teams,' the odious Boaden said, secure in the knowledge that her job is safe. 'As we have always done, we will work extremely hard to avoid any compulsory redundancies though as the BBC gets smaller, we cannot guarantee complete success in this area.' The Radio 4 strands Taking a Stand and Beyond Westminster will be discontinued as part of the changes, with greater sharing of resources between Today, The World at One and PM. Radio 4 and Newsnight will also share reporters more than previously. Newsnight will in addition rely more on joint commissions with other TV and radio current affairs programmes. A total of twenty eight posts will close in the BBC newsroom, including one BBC News channel presenter. Paxo, however, has reportedly told anybody that if they even think about making him one of the redundancies, he'll chin anybody that tries. Tasty. Consultations with unions over the proposals will start next week. And, probably end with a threat of strike action about thirty seconds after they've started if this blogger reads the signals. Details of changes to local radio, regional current affairs and the Asian Network will be announced 'at a later date.' It is thought that a total of around five hundred jobs will be lost in BBC news services, with Boaden having warned her staff last year that the department would 'bear the brunt' of Delivering Quality First.

ITV Studios Global Entertainment has secured a deal with Animal Planet to distribute one hundred and fifty hours of programming around the world. The agreement, which applies to distribution outside North America, will include content such as Gator Boys, Call of the Wildman, North Woods Law, Too Cute!, Puppies vs Babies and Bayou Prison. ITVS GE will unveil the line-up to the international market at MipTV in Cannes next week. Rick Holzman, senior vice president of programming and scheduling at Animal Planet, said: 'We are sure that ITVS GE's global market expertise will help to expand the footprint for Animal Planet's content around the world.' The programmes include Gater Boys, a ten part series following alligator trappers Paul Bedard and Jimmy Riffle. Another is Call of the Wildman, a thirty two part series which follows woodsman Ernie Brown Jr, who dives into the murky ponds of Kentucky in the US to remove turtles that have powerful jaws and prove pests to homeowners and businesses. Other titles include Bayou Prison, an eight episode series with exclusive access to the largest and most notorious maximum security penitentiary in the US. BBC Worldwide previously held a fifty per cent stake in Animal Planet but sold it to Discovery in November 2010 following a review by the BBC Trust.

Channel Four documentaries commissioner Aysha Rafaele, responsible for Coppers and Secret Millionaire, is leaving the broadcaster. Rafaele is stepping down after four years at C4, where she was also responsible for new director talent strand First Cut. She is yet to announce her next move. Aysha joined as documentaries editor in 2008 and was made commissioning editor in 2010. Her other commissions include fixed-rig series The Family and The Hospital, which examined the relationship between teenagers and the NHS. Her most recent set of First Cut commissions include films looking into the financial value of the human body, the practical process of launching a fertility lottery and following a group of girls determined to marry Prince Harry, in The Harry Hunters. Head of factual Ralph Lee said: 'Aysha is a highly regarded figure in the documentary community and after four eventful years here, we wish her all the best in her new adventures.' C4's documentary department was merged with specialist factual in November last year following the departure of head of documentaries, Hamish Mykura who is now working at National Geographic.

After claims that ITV's odious and risible Take Me Out is fixed, TV dating shows have taken another knock. The Sun reports that BBC3's plans to organise 'a monster dating experiment,' A Year of Making Love, were frustrated when three hundred of the one thousand contestants failed to turn up. The final blow was when staff tried to pair up the remaining hopefuls, but some walked out. 'We all felt cheated,' said one contestant. A BBC spokesman said: 'It was just one of those unfortunate situations.' Sounds it.

People who eat chocolate regularly tend to be thinner, new research suggests. See, that's what yer actual Keith Telly Topping has been telling doctors for years. But will they listen? Will they arse.

An American has pleaded extremely guilty to hacking into the e-mail accounts of stars such as Scarlett Johansson and sending nude photos to celebrity websites. Christopher Chaney, from Jacksonville, Florida, admitted nine charges including unauthorised access to a computer and wiretapping. Prosecutors said Chaney had accessed the e-mails of more than fifty celebrities. He was ordered to be held in custody until sentencing on 23 July where he could face up to sixty years in pris. Blimey. Under a plea bargain, however, Chaney could pay a fine of up to $2.2m and must pay restitution to his victims, ranging from fifteen thousand to four hundred thousand smackers. I repeat, blimey. I think I'd take the jail if I were him. It'd certainly be cheaper. Chaney, who initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, was arrested in October 2011 as part of a year-long FBI investigation of celebrity hacking that authorities dubbed Operation Hackerazzi. Yes, dear blog reader, somebody dis, indeed, get paid to come up with that. No justice. Other victims of Chaney included Friends With Benefits star Mila Kunis, the singer Christina Aguilera and High School Musical actress Vanessa Hudgens. Chaney admitted that he hacked into the personal e-mails of his targets by clicking on the 'forgot password' feature of their accounts and answering security questions by using publicly available information about celebrities that he found on the Internet. Once in control of the accounts, he obtained private photos, business contracts, scripts, and other personal documents. He also went through contacts lists to find other victims and sometimes posed as friends to request more private photos. Chaney then forwarded many of the images he found, including nude photos of Johansson, to gossip websites which, subsequently, posted them online. Johansson told Vanity Fair in December that the photos were meant for her ex-husband Ryan Reynolds. 'I have confidence that justice will prevail and that the court will set a precedent for a "no tolerance policy" in regards to identity theft, computer hacking and invasion of privacy,' the actress said in a statement to the Associated Press. Prosecuting lawyer Andre Birotte said: 'Today's guilty pleas shine a bright light on the dark underworld of computer hacking. This case demonstrates that everyone, even public figures, should take precautions to shield their personal information from the hackers that inhabit that dark underworld.'

A lack of support and opportunity for young people contributed to the outbreak of riots in England last year, an independent report has concluded. The Riots, Communities and Victims Panel, set up last year, has identified 'five hundred thousand forgotten families.' All of them, seemingly, desperate for trainers. It also cited poor parenting, an inability to prevent re-offending, too much emphasis on materialism, and a lack of confidence in the police. So, basically, society is buggered, then. And they needed a panel to tell them that?

Redheads are affected more by physical pain than dark-haired people, it has been claimed. This explains so much that's gone wrong in yer actual Keith Telly Topping's life, dear blog reader. It's nice to have an excuse for all that misery, isn't it? Those with ginger hair have a lower-than-normal pain threshold, according to a study at Southampton University Hospital. Electric shocks will be given to recruited volunteers to prove the validity of the research. US and Danish studies have previously found a link between the gene that determines hair colour and the production of endorphins, the body's natural painkiller. Probably a good idea, therefore, for us not to go around electrocuting ourselves in that case.
Dr Edwin Liem told the Daily Torygraph: 'Redheads experience more pain from a given stimulus and therefore require more anaesthesia to alleviate that pain. The art and science of anaesthesiology is determining just the right amount of anaesthesia to achieve unconsciousness, pain tolerance and suppression of memory without causing adverse consequences, such as cardiac or pulmonary complications. Red hair is apparently an important element in this decision.'

Former Labour Cabinet minister Peter Hain is facing contempt of court proceedings over what is described as 'forthright criticisms' he made of a judge in his memoir. John Larkin, Attorney General for Northern Ireland, granted leave to prosecute both Hain and Biteback Publishing. It is claimed a passage in the book 'undermines the administration of justice.' The ex-Northern Ireland secretary said he would 'defend free speech.' The publisher said that the case was based on an 'obsolete' law banning criticism of judges. It claimed the legislation had not been used in living memory. Hain's remarks about Lord Justice Girvan's handling of a case caused controversy in Belfast when the book was published. Hain, now shadow Welsh secretary, said: 'I am astonished at this turn of events. I worked harder than anyone as secretary of state for Northern Ireland to uphold the rule of law and judicial independence, and delivered the 2007 settlement which helped secure that. If free speech and comment in a political memoir is to be suppressed, then people will be entitled to ask: what system of justice prevails?' Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan described his remarks 'potentially an assault on the wider independence of the judiciary.' Hain refused to back down and renewed his criticism, sparking the legal action by Larkin.

The al-Jazeera channel has decided not to broadcast video material of the attacks carried out by Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah. Officials at the Qatar-based channel announced the decision after a personal plea by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Merah filmed himself killing seven people, including Jewish children and unarmed soldiers, before he was shot dead after a thirty two-hour siege on Thursday. Police believe the video was posted by an accomplice. Commenting on its decision, al-Jazeera said: 'The Paris bureau received a video from an anonymous source [on Monday] entitled Al-Qaeda attaque la France that appears to show the recent killings in Toulouse and Montauban. Given its contents, we immediately passed the video on to the French police as we were duty bound to do and they are conducting their investigation. In accordance with al-Jazeera's code of ethics, given the video does not add any information that is not already in the public domain, its news channels will not be broadcasting any of its contents.' Al-Jazeera said that it had received 'numerous requests' from media outlets for copies of the video but had rejected all of them. A USB memory stick containing the footage, sent along with a note claiming the attacks in the name al-Qaeda, was posted last Wednesday, when Merah was already under siege. It was posted from 'outside Toulouse', a police 'source' allegedly told Agence France-Presse. Earlier, al-Jazeera Paris bureau chief, Zied Tarrouche, confirmed that he had watched the video and it showed all of the killings. 'You hear the voice of the person who carried out the killings,' he told French channel BFM TV. 'You also hear the victims' cries. My feelings are those of any human being who sees horrible things.' Tarrouche said he had to weigh up 'the risks and the consequences' of broadcasting the video, but he added: 'We are not a sensational network.'

A student (and, some may consider, slime of humanity) who admitted posting racially offensive comments on Twitter about footballer Fabrice Muamba as the Bolton midfielder lay in a critical condition in hospital has been jailed for fifty six days. Swansea University student Liam Stacey, from Pontypridd, admitted inciting racial hatred over remarks about the Bolton Wanderers player, who collapsed from a heart-attack during an FA Cup tie at Tottenham. A district judge in Swansea called the comments 'vile and abhorrent.' Muamba, twenty three, remains in intensive care. Sentencing Stacey at Swansea Magistrates' Court, District Judge John Charles told him: 'In my view, there is no alternative to an immediate prison sentence. It was not the football world who was praying for [Muamba] everybody was praying for his life.' well, everybody with an ounce of decency in them, anyway. Stacey broke down in tears as he was led away to begin his jail term. Stacey tried to 'distance himself' from the tweets by claiming his account had been hacked, the court was told. He later tried to delete his page but was arrested the following day at his student house in Swansea. You know, it's been said before on this very blog dear blog reader, and it'll probably be said again, but yer actual Keith Telly Topping notes that in life there are some good people and some bad people. But most of us are somewhere in the middle, just trying to get through life without hurting anyone else (or ourselves) too much. And then, there are some people who are just scum. It's an occupational hazard of life, it would seem.

Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel and Suede are among the artists who will perform at this year's Hop Farm festival in Kent. The three acts will not perform at any other UK festival this year, according to organisers. Other artists announced include Damien Rice, Primal Scream, Patti Smith, The Stranglers and Billy Ocean. Cor, that's a line-up and a half, mind, isn't it? Yer actual Keith Telly Topping might just have to go. If he can afford it! The three-day event, which takes place at Paddock Wood between 29 June and 1 July, will feature four music stages and a comedy stage. Hop Farm is one of the newest on the circuit, with the first one taking place in 2008. Prince played last year's event, making his first ever UK festival appearance. Dylan will also headline this summer's Benicassim festival in Spain, which runs from 12 to 15 July. The Benicassim festival line-up also includes The Stone Roses and Florence and the Machine. Dylan and Florence in the same place at the same time? Must be time for bed.

On, on that bombshell, yesterday's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day was a study of Television. Today, we give you an alternative.

No comments: