Monday, March 19, 2012

It's Not Too Cool To Be Ridiculed But You Brought This Upon Yourself

The Let's Dance for Sport Relief final was watched by over six million viewers at its peak on Saturday night, overnight data reveals. Obviously six million people with nothing better to do that to ponder the inherent ludicrousness of existence. Rowland Rivron's victory in the BBC1 charriddee show, which had Katy Perry as special guest performer, was seen by an average of 5.75m between 7.15pm and 8.50pm. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping resigned from the human race in protest but I don't think it did much good. Let's Dance for Sport Relief, despite being TV's most-watched show of the day, was down on the 2010's finale by nearly one and a half million punters. So, it seems, there is some hope for humanity after all. In general, BBC1's evening panned out similarly to last week, with Dale Winton's In It To Win It (5.64m) and Casualty (5.03m) both easily winning their slots against a depressingly bland ITV line-up. Earlier, the Six Nations rugby coverage of England giving Ireland a damned good thrashing at Twickers was watched by an average of 5.7m. Tabloid controversy boosted odious, risible Take Me Out which was watched by 4.79m sad crushed victims of society. Perhaps significantly six hundred and sixty six thousand punters - with about four braincells between them - then switched over to ITV2 for Take Me Out: The Gossip. The Jonathan Ross Show ended its series on a whimper with just 2.81m tuning in from 9.15pm. The ITV series has been little short of a disaster for Wossy with Graham Norton's BBC1 chat show in Ross's old late Friday evening slot consistently rating far better than Ross's new show. The Harry Hill hour made its penultimate outing, attracting almost identical audiences of 4.64m for You've Been Framed at 7pm and 4.7m at 7.30pm for TV Burp. Which really is looking desperately tired and in need of a rest now. Overall, BBC1 led primetime with 25.2 per cent of the available audience share, beating ITV's 17.4 per cent. Given that Britain's Got Talent starts next week this will probably be the last time that will happen on a Saturday for a couple of months.

And now, Otters Who Look Like Benedict Cumberbatch.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping loved the opening of the BBC's coverage of the Australian Grand Prix with Jake Humphrey and David Coulthard doing a wonderfully straight-faced take on 'Subterranean Homesick Blues.'
Having watched both the BBC and Sky's coverage of the opening race, yer actual Keith Telly Topping has to say, it's still the BBC for me. I thought Sky's coverage was pretty decent - although David Croft's over-ramped, testosterone-snorting commentary left me distinctly unimpressed. But I feel the Torygraph's Jonathan Liew is being a bit hard on it when he describes their coverage as 'unlikely to be a Brundle of laughs for the viewer.'

More than a million viewers watched the climax to the first Grand Prix of the season on Sky's new Formula 1 channel but the live coverage's overall audience was, of course, down around seventy five per cent on BBC1's coverage last year. Season opener the Australian Grand Prix, the first to be broadcast exclusively by Sky, had an average audience of five hundred and twenty six thousand viewers between 4.30am and 9am on Sunday, with a five-minute peak of 1.02 million as Jenson Button took the chequered flag. Live coverage of the actual race itself, which ran from 6am to 7.40am, was watched by an average of eight hundred and seventy four thousand punters. The BBC's live coverage of the same race last season averaged 2.13 million viewers. The Australian Grand Prix is, of course, traditionally one of the lower-rating F1 races because of the time differences between the Antipodes and the UK. Sunday's audience figures included viewers who recorded the race and watched it later in the day (including yer actual Keith telly Topping, as it happens) as did the BBC1 figures for 2011. The BBC, which will broadcast half of this year's Grands Prix races live as part of its new joint rights deal with Sky, averaged 2.7 million viewers for its highlights programme between 2pm and 4pm on BBC1. Sky's dedicated F1 channel is available to subscribers to Sky Sports or Sky's high definition channels. A Sky Sports spokesman said the broadcaster did not discuss ratings for individual programmes. He added: 'It is the performance of the whole channel we are interested in. We are pleased with the launch of the channel overall.'

Channel Four's American import Homeland starring Damien Lewis and Claire Danes saw its ratings climb yet again on Sunday evening. The drama has performed solidly for Channel Four since its premier in February pulling in more than two million viewers for each episode so far. On Sunday evening Homeland had a combined audience of two and a half million punters; 2.1 million for the 9pm Channel Four broadcast and a further three hundred and fifty thousand an hour later on the time-shift channel.

Here's the Top Twenty Nine consolidated rated shows for week ending 11 March:-
1 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 11.34m
2 EastEnders - BBC1 Tues - 9.10m
3 Twatting About On Ice - ITV Sun - 7.77m
4 Emmerdale - ITV Mon - 7.58m*
5 Benidorm - ITV Fri - 7.01m
6 Whitechapel - ITV Mon - 6.74m
7 Wild At Heart - ITV Sun - 6.73m*
8 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 6.53m
9 Antiques Roadshow - BBC1 Sun - 6.50m
10 Top Gear - BBC2 Sun - 6.14m
11 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 6.08m
12 Big Fat Gypsy Weddings - Channel Four Tues - 6.04m
13 The National Lottery: In it To Win It - BBC1 Sat - 5.59m
14 Upstairs Downstairs - BBC1 Sun - 5.51m
15 Let's Dance For Sports Relief - BBC1 Sat - 5.29m
16 MasterChef - BBC1 Wed - 5.19m
17 Waterloo Road - BBC1 Wed - 5.18m
18 Prisoners' Wives - BBC1 Tues - 5.16m
19 The ONE Show - BBC1 Mon - 5.08m
20 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 4.95m
21 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 4.71m
22 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Tues - 4.61m
23 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 4.60m
24 The Food Inspectors - BBC1 Wed - 4.55m
25 All New You've Been Framed - ITV Sat - 4.54m*
26 Harry Hill's TV Burp - ITV Sat - 4.51m*
27 Rugby Six Nations: France Vs England - BBc1 Sat - 4.51m
28 Odious Risible Take Me Out - ITV Sat - 4.47m*
29 Kidnap And Ransom - ITV Thurs - 4.34m*
Those shows marked "*" do not include ITV HD figures which were unavailable. BBC2's other top-rated shows include Match Of The Day (3.23m), Orbit: Earth's Extraordinary Journey (3.08m), University Challenge (2.86m)*, White Heat (2.50m) and The Sarah Millican Television Programme (2.41m). All except Orbit include BBC HD figures. Channel Four's highest, not gypsy-related shows were One Born Every Minute (3.98m), Embarrassing Bodies (3.24m) and, slightly restoring ones faith in the viewing public, Homeland (2.70m). Although the fact that almost two million more viewers watched Odious Risible Take Me Out should temper that emotion, somewhat. Channel Five's biggest performer of the week was their coverage of The Scum vs Athletico Bilbao (3.70m).

So, just how great a flop is Upstairs Downstairs then I hear you ask dear blog reader? Well, it's still pulling in five million viewers plus which, for any drama in this day and age, remains a reasonable figure (though one should put it no higher than that). However, the following list of Upstairs Downstairs's overnights and consolidated ratings suggest a show which, if not a twnty-four carat flop then at least can justifiably be classified as 'a disappointment.'
Episode one : 6.5m (7.87m)
Episode two: 5.8m (6.70m)
Episode three: 5.1m (5.86m)
Episode four: 4.8m (5.51m)
Episode five: 4.8m (TBC)
Hmmm ... Diminishing returns.

Chefs are renowned for keeping their recipes secret, so when Tom Rennolds made it to the final of MasterChef the outcome was just one more thing he had to keep under his tall white hat. Tom, who is from Middleton St George, near Darlington, was vying for the title with Shelina Permalloo and Andrew Kojima. Shelina went on to win the coveted title in a programme which was shown last Thursday, with Tom, who now lives in West Yorkshire, and Andrew pronounced runners-up. The series was filmed at the end of last year and everyone was sworn to secrecy as to its result. The twenty six-year-old plasterer told the Northern Echo: 'We finished filming at the beginning of December, so I've been keeping the secret a long time from my friends and family. After we finished, I went back to work as a plasterer as we weren't allowed to do anything food-related until the final was shown.' What, not even make yourself a bit of toast? Blimey, that's harsh. During the final show, Tom and his fellow contestants had to impress judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace, by cooking a three-course meal in three hours. Tom said: 'It was a fantastic feeling to get to the final, and the other contestants were brilliant. We all got quite close, so I was always going to be happy for any of them if they won.' Tom moved from County Durham to Redcar when he was four, settling in Silsdon, in West Yorkshire, when he was twelve. At eighteen, he discovered his passion for food and taught himself to cook by watching culinary programmes like MasterChef. 'Being on the show for two-and- a-half months was really fun as we were learning all the time and doing different things,' he said of the MasterChef experience. Tom, whose father Ian, still near Darlington, doesn't appear to have got the cooking bug from his family. 'My dad's into going fishing and shooting, [the produce of] which he cooks – although pretty badly,' he said. 'Since I entered the competition, he's been ringing me up for tips.' Ian said that he was 'delighted' with his son's success. 'Tom is a very driven lad – when he puts his mind to do something, he does it. I'm proud as punch,' he said. Tom now plans to get some work experience in top-quality London restaurants and wants to set up his own private dining and catering business. Tom said: 'Shelina is an incredibly worthy winner. The three of us have become firm friends – there's been a lot of friendly rivalry but we get on brilliantly.'

The BBC has said blasphemy is part of 'everyday language' and refused to apologise to a vicar who complained about comments made by Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson. Good. It's about time somebody told the God-botherers to go and get stuffed and take their fictional construct with them. The Reverend Graeme Anderson said Clarkson had 'trivialised and cheapened' Christianity with outbursts of 'God Almighty' and 'Jesus wept' on the show. Anderson wrote to the broadcaster to complain but was told by the BBC that some offensive words and phrases had become everyday language and there was 'no consensus about words that are acceptable,' reports the Daily Torygraph with some obvious disappointment that this is the best they can come up with when trying to drum up another Top Gear scandal out of such tripe.
The vicar of St Mary's church in Radcliffe-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire said he would 'avoid' the motor show in future. That's usually a good idea if something offends you, Vic. Or, you could do what the gospel according to Matthew suggests and judge not, lest ye be judged. 'I think Jeremy Clarkson is one of the most articulate people I have ever heard, and I loved watching his show. I thought Top Gear was great,' he said. So, seemingly, having a go at Mexicans was perfectly all right but you bad-mouth The Almighty at your peril. There you have it, dear blog reader, an official endorsement from the Chruch of England.

Matt Smith has been reunited with his predecessors Tom Baker, Paul McGann, William Hartnell and Peter Cushing. They all feature in a comic biography published by Bluewater Productions as the show approaches its fiftieth anniversary in 2013. The Cast of Doctor Who was first released in January and is now back in stores in a new graphic novel format which, this time, includes a special bonus biography of Peter Cushing. It tells how he he came to play the Doctor in two feature films. The graphic novel recounts the biographies of five of the actors who have played Doctor Who, ending with the current Doctor, Matt Smith. It's written by Paul Salamoff and drawn by Jaime Martinez Rodriguez, Scott Boyce and DJ Burgess with covers by DC artist Joe Phillips. Salamoff said he has adored the series since he was a child: 'I have been obsessed with Doctor Who for as long as I can remember. My office is literally filled with Doctor Who Toys, Books, DVDs and Daleks. Lots of Daleks! I find that the possibilities with the character are endless and the stories touch on every aspect of science fiction that I love.'

Britain's Got Talent will beat The Voice when the pair go head-to-head next Saturday, according to bookmakers. William Hill is giving odds-on rates of 4/7 on the long-running talent show - starring a returning Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, David Walliams and odious, talentless traitor Alesha Dixon - gaining a greater audience than the BBC's big-budget import, featuring will.i.am, Sir Tom Jones, Jessie J and Danny O'Donoghue. However, The Voice's odds aren't that low for coming out on top, at 5/4. 'The odds suggest that Britain's Got Talent will pip The Voice to the finish line, but should enough people be intrigued by the format, The Voice could get over ten million,' said William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly, hedging his bets like a man with his buttocks clamped upon the fence on indecision. Both shows will overlap for approximately twenty minutes between 8pm and 8.20pm on 24 March, with The Voice getting a potentially important head start at 7pm.
Harry Evans, former editor of The Sunday Times and The Times, responded this weekend to the revelation about Rupert Murdoch's secret meeting with Margaret Thatcher three weeks prior to his successful bid for the papers in 1981. 'The whole thing is so squalid I don't know whether to laugh or cry at being vindicated after all this time,' he told Radio 4's Today programme. Evans, who had led a management buy-out group hoping to acquire The Sunday Times, spoke of the episode as being 'hypocrisy on stilts.' Like everyone else, he expected that Murdoch's bid would be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission because of his existing ownership of the Sun and the Scum of the World. When it was not referred, Evans says that he suspected - in company with his journalistic staff and many independent commentators - that there had been 'a political fix.' He told the programme he was 'not surprised' to finally learn confirmation that Murdoch and Thatcher 'had got together to cook a deal' because he had suggested as much in the past. But his anger, even thirty years on, shone through under questioning. He spoke of the 'leader of a country' being 'in hock to a press proprietor.' Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, matey boy. He also took a swipe at the continued denials in the official Times history that any such meeting had ever taken place. It was 'highly improper,' said Evans, for the Prime Minister to meet one of bidders for The Times newspaper group whilst the bidding process was still on-going. He also referred, with obvious disgust, to the opening paragraph of the note to Thatcher from her press secretary, the odious Bernard Ingham, with details of her discussion with Murdoch. It stated: 'In line with your wishes the attached has not gone outside No 10 and is, of course, to be treated "Commercial - in Confidence."' Evans, believing that the MMC referral was a constitutional requirement, asked rhetorically: 'Does it mean anything when you pass a law and it's broken?'

Meanwhile, dear blog reader, here's the sound of Uranus.
Groovy.

A Hollywood producer who filed an injunction demanding a Southampton pub stop calling itself The Hobbit has offered to 'amicably resolve' the dispute over a pint. Paul Zaentz's claim for copyright infringement against the colourful free house, which has held its name for more than twenty years, was criticised by Stephen Fry and Ian McKellen. Zaentz, whose California-based Saul Zaentz company also owns rights to The Lord of the Rings, defended his actions but said he would consider offering the pub an official licence under the right circumstances. 'Regardless of the size of the company, if we didn't go after these infringements, then other people would say: "If they can use them without authorisation, why can't we?"' Zaentz told the BBC. 'When it's an established business, we like to get the company to acknowledge they are using our trademarks, stop selling infringing articles and then we will grant them a licence for a nominal fee – approximately one hundred dollars a year. We asked them to contact us and amicably resolve this and are open to any suggestions they have. I'd be glad to raise a pint with them the next time I'm over.' Fry, who is currently shooting his role as The Master of Laketown in director Peter Jackson's two-part adaptation of JRR Tolkien's fantasy novel, took to Twitter earlier this week in support of the pub. 'Sometimes I'm ashamed of the business I'm in,' he tweeted. 'What pointless, self-defeating bullying.' McKellen, who reprises his role as Gandalf in The Hobbit, said he was fully supportive of Fry's intervention. 'Gandalf's portrait hangs outside The Hobbit pub in Portswood, Southampton, and has done for the last twenty years and more,' he wrote on his website. 'I haven't been there but it's clearly not a place to ill-treat hobbits, elves, dwarves and wizards in any way. So what's the problem?' Exactly. There would be far less conflict in life if people remembered to use those four little words more often.

Idris Elba and Tracee Ellis Ross have been cast in upcoming TV projects according to online reports (or, you know, gossip, as we used to call it). Ross will play the role of a powerful woman gone wrong while the great Idris will possibly be portraying an Egyptian renaissance man. Elba is said to be 'considering' a potential adventure miniseries Ascension, which focuses on the history and future of astronomy and mankind's impulse for the stars. The shows creators, producer Vivek J Tiwary and writer Warren Ellis, are eyeing The Wire and Luther actor to star in a double-role as both the Egyptian God-emperor Imhotep in 3000BC as well as an extraordinary astronomer in the near future. Idris, who recently appeared in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, will next be seen in the third series of Luther and, on the big screen, in the upcoming SF movie Prometheus. Ross, meanwhile, has landed one of the leads in NBC's drama pilot Bad Girls, adapted from the long-running British series about a woman's prison. The US remake follows the ins and outs of a group of unlikely women in a federal prison. Ross will reportedly play Rachel, a high-powered business woman who is serving time for selling phony mortgages. Having delayed motherhood because of her career, Rachel is now desperate to get pregnant, a task made difficult by being banged up in pokey.

More than half-a-century of racing history will draw to a close later this year when the sport is broadcast on BBC television for the last time until at least 2017. Channel Four will confirm on Monday that it has secured exclusive rights to all terrestrial racing coverage from 2013, including the Derby, the Grand National and Royal Ascot, in a four-year deal believed to be worth between fifteen and twenty million quid. Racing has been an important part of the BBC's sporting portfolio since the early 1960s, with the Grand National in particular bringing both the nation and the world together in front of the TV for the ten minutes it takes to run the world's most famous steeplechase. And several horses to die in agony, usually. First broadcast on the BBC in 1960, the National attracts a domestic audience of up to ten million punters and, according to the BBC, an estimated global viewing figure of five hundred million. Red Rum's three Grand Nationals and Bob Champion's emotional Aintree victory on Aldaniti in 1981 were among the many outstanding moments to have been broadcast by the BBC, and though it has reduced its racing coverage to concentrate on the sport's 'crown jewels' in recent seasons, many in the sport will find it difficult to accept that the BBC's connection with British racing, which is second only to football in terms of attendance, has been severed entirely. Channel Four's own relationship with racing has been patchy at times in recent years, and the broadcaster threatened to abandon the sport entirely eight years ago if it lost its contract to cover the Cheltenham Festival. In recent years, it has effectively received a subsidy from racing for maintaining its weekly coverage, but the new deal, which brings in so much high-quality action, will see a return to a more traditional arrangement where the broadcaster pays for the rights. The exact value of the deal with Channel Four remains secret due to 'commercial sensitivity,' but a report in the Gruniad Morning Star last week that it would be worth five million smackers a year for three years is 'understood', the paper claims, to be 'very close to the actual figure,' though the extension to a four-year contract brings the value close to twenty million wonga. Announcing the deal, Richard FitzGerald, the chief executive of Racecourse Media Group, which conducted the negotiations, said that Channel Four had 'shown a total commitment to our sport,' adding that 'the new deal will not only deliver increased revenues for British racing, but with all of our sport's crown jewels in its portfolio, Channel Four offers a compelling vision to innovate the way racing is broadcast. They have also committed to use diverse programming platforms to promote our sport more widely. This is a great opportunity for racing in the long term.' Let's hope Channel Four do such a bang up job with the coverage as they did with the World Athletics Championship last year. Simon Bazalgette, the group chief executive of the Jockey Club, which owns courses including Aintree, Epsom, Cheltenham and Newmarket, said that the contract is 'a huge boost for our sport,' and that 'the vision and nature of this new arrangement will help to make a step change in the way we broadcast the sport.' Professor Simon Chadwick, the director of the Centre for the International Business of Sport, said that the exclusive deal is 'a significant coup both for horse racing and for Channel Four. Continued coverage of the sport on terrestrial television will ensure that horseracing is prominent in the minds of fans and viewers alike, something that is especially important in an increasingly crowded market for sport. Moreover, the length of the deal will provide a strong platform for horseracing to move forward to build profile and presence with the broad, but also young audience that Channel Four attracts.'

Anyone who harboured hopes that we'd see a return of Waking The Dead now that its short-lived sequel, The Body Farm, has been axed is going to be left disappointed. It was widely reported a few weeks ago that Wil Johnson had suggested that a Christmas special for the popular crime drama could be on the cards. Indeed, even this blog covered the story. But, hold hard. Trevor Eve, who played cold-case boss Peter Boyd in the long-running BBC1 series, has said that the show is definitely not going to be revived. 'I loved Waking the Dead, but I'm very happy it's not going again,' he told the Scotsman. 'It absolutely feels like a weight off my shoulders. There is no chance of it coming back. It was the right decision to stop it then. When we finished, everyone said, "It's still a really good series." That's great. You don't want people to say, "It's not as good as it used to be."' Mind you, this interview was, by all accounts, given before the second series of Eve's ITV drama Kidnap and Ransom flopped bigger than a big flopping thing so, maybe he's changed his mind since then.

Radio 5Live presenter Richard Bacon has revealed that he has suffered two years of anonymous abuse directed at him, his wife and his baby son. Bacon has complained to the police, and tried to track down his abuser for a BBC3 documentary on abusive 'trolls', The Anti-Social Network. He said that he wanted to know how criticism of his work 'could go to contacting my family and tweeting about my baby.' He said it was time to stand up to trolls and highlight Internet bullying. 'You have got to try and work out where critical comment crosses over into harassment,' he said. 'Under freedom of speech people can criticise you and slag you off, it's their right to do that.' But he added that it can become 'deeply personal, obsessive and weird.' Bacon, thirty six, said the line had been crossed when criticism about his radio show turned into abuse about his wife, his mother and five-month-old son Arthur. The former Blue Peter presenter said that he had originally tried to meet the troll in question to get it all sorted but that he was advised by a psychologist and the police to make an official complaint instead. He said: 'What I have been through isn't that bad, really; it's been distressing for my family but personally as a broadcaster it's something I know how to deal with.' Much more disturbing, he said, were the actions of 'RIP trolls' who posted offensive messages on tribute sites. While filming The Anti-Social Network, Bacon met the parents of the late Tom Mullaney, from Bournville who died aged fifteen and whose tribute site was hit by trolls who left offensive messages. 'They see these nice tributes, then they also see these weird sexual, violent comment and imagery,' he said. 'For people who don't even understand Facebook in the first place, as well as being upsetting and prolonging their grief, it's confusing.' He said that some of the trolls would 'themselves be deserving of sympathy - but that doesn't mean we shouldn't tackle them. It's time to stand up to them, it's time to either expose them or, if you're a victim, go to the police.'

Tom Pellereau, the winner of last year's The Apprentice, piggybacked on the launch of the new series of the BBC1 business show to unveil his grand design, an S-shape nail file called The Stylfile. 'Since The Apprentice final I've been working night and day to create The Stylfile Collection,' he said. 'Working with Lord Sugar-Sweetie and benefitting from his experience has been invaluable.' However, as the Gruniad notes, The Stylfile itself bears a remarkable resemblance to an S-shape nail file unveiled in 2006 by Pellereau. 'Will he nail it this time?' they ask in rip-ticklingly unfunny fashion.

Alexandra Burke - remember her, she used to be somebody for about five minutes - has revealed that Cheryl Cole has been ignoring her texts. Ah well, there you go, you see. Bigger fish to fry these days than the winner of some talent show she used to be involved with. News that the former bestest friends in all the land are no longer skipping through the daisies together has sent shockwaves through the industry. No, not really. In fact, most people couldn't give a blithering stuff about nonsense like that. But, it seems to sell a few tabloid newspapers so, you know, we report it here on the off chance that somebody gives a crap. Burke claimed that she 'hasn't been in contact' with her former X Factor mentor for more than a year - roughly the amount of time it's been since she was last newsworthy, interestingly - and so was surprised to receive a tweet from Cole recently. 'I haven't heard anything from Cheryl for over a year and then she tweeted me publicly the other day, which I was really surprised about,' Burke told the Daily Lies Sunday. 'I've texted her a few times but never heard anything back. I was surprised to hear from her on Twitter, which was very public. Don't get me wrong, it was great for her to get in touch and it was a very lovely message, but I would prefer to hear from her more privately and maybe go for a drink and catch up properly. We kept in contact after the show but then it just stopped. You just don't know what is going on in other people's lives so you can't get mad if someone doesn't text you back. But of course it doesn't mean that I don't miss her.'

The Script's Danny O'Donoghue has fought back following criticism of his The Voice role. Some critics have suggested that O'Donoghue is the weakest member of the coaching panel on the new BBC reality show, which also features Jessie J, will.i.am and Sir Tom Jones. And, in so much as the other three can sing, there's probably an element of truth in that. Twitter commentors - as though, again, Twitter is now the final arbiter of the worthiness of All Things - have reportedly nicknamed the singer Danny 'I Dunno Who.' Heh. That's actually quite funny. And, odious, unfunny fool James Corden made the Irish star the butt of a - odious and unfunny - gag at The Brit Awards earlier this year. Hitting back at such allegedly 'snide' remarks, O'Donoghue asked the Digital Spy website 'James who?' If only the rest of us could forget him so easily.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though, still unsellable) Magpies got back to victorious away after a four-game spell without a win as Papiss Demba Cissé's sublime first-half finish sunk Norwich City and revived Newcastle's push for a European place. Cissé superbly turned Jonás Gutiérrez's cross into the top corner from twelve yards. Cissé and strike partner Demba Ba were then denied several times by excellent John Ruddy saves as the Magpies dominated the early exchanges. However, Newcastle, who started with Gutiérrez at left-back and James Perch protecting the back four in the absence of Davide Santon and Cheick Tioté, did not have things all their own way. Norwich rallied and enjoyed good spells either side of the break. But, their best chances were thwarted by the excellent Tim Krul who tipped over a goal bound Zak Whitbread header and blocked a shot from Anthony Pilkington. United finished the stronger and, although it was far from their best performance of the season they never really looked in too much danger of surrendering their lead. The win kept United in sixth place in the Premiership, five points ahead of seventh placed Liverpool. Elsewhere on Sunday, the football world once again displayed a surprisingly capacity for yer actual humanity - something too often unrecognised by critics of the sport - with fans across the country demonstrating their solidarity with Bolton's Fabrice Muamba who remains in a critical condition in intensive care after suffering a heart-attack during the FA tie against Tottenham Hotshots on Saturday. There were rounds of applause from supporters at St James' Park, Stamford Bridge (where Chelsea were playing Leicester), Anfield (where Liverpool played Stoke) and Molineux (where poor ten-man Wolves got a right good trousers-down hiding off The Scum). Former Bolton defender Gary Cahill scored the opening goal in Chelsea's FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester and revealed a T-shirt with the message: 'Pray 4 Muamba.' Bolton's next scheduled match, against Aston Villa on Tuesday, has been postponed. Villa boss Alex McLeish also worked with Muamba at Birmingham. 'He is a manager's dream in terms of his commitment to the team,' said McLeish. 'The massive response throughout Europe and the world of football underlines how everybody has been touched by this tragic development and I pray that Fabrice is able to pull through.' Meanwhile, it is being reported by several national newspapers that a man has been arrested after allegedly making racist remarks relating to Muamba. The Scum Mail on Sunday claimed that a twenty one-year-old from Pontypridd 'aired his disparaging views on Twitter in the wake of the midfielder's tragedy.' Not having read the comments in question - which I'm rather glad about, actually - this blogger is being very careful about how he phases the next paragraph bearing in mind Richard Bacon's comments about critique of someone's work and actions spilling over into something stronger. Nevertheless, if - and I repeat if - any odious fraction of an individual is found guilty of making such vile comments (about Fabrice Muamba or anyone else for that matter), is it too much to hope that they die, in agony, from cancer of the genitals? Probably, it is. But, it'd also be fitting.

To today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day then. This one's for Paddy McGuinness, Rupert Murdoch, Alexandra Burke, James Corden, Jack Whitehall, Jamie Oliver, the vile and odious rascal Hunt, Piers Morgan, Richard Bacon's trolls, silly vicars, Chiles and the Curiously Orange Bleakley and all other greedy traitors, the Daily Torygraph, the Daily Lies, the Sun, the Scum of the World, the Daily Scum Mail, the Gruniad Morning Star and all the nasty, pompous frappuchino-sipping glakes who sail in her, the nation's sweetheart Cheryl, the horrible bloke who allegedly abused poor Mr Muamba, God (who doesn't even exist) and anybody else who's had a right a good shoeing on today's blog. Even in the current climate of 'the Internet is bad for your health'-type malarkey, dear blog readers can be assured that From The North will continue with one of its mission statements; to exercise its fundamental right to freedom of speech. We will continue to criticise people, television programmes and other aspects of life that we, for one reason or another, don't like whenever we see fit to do so. Within, of course, the boundaries of the law as it presently stands. Because this blog is written by a licence fee payer. You know, one of those annoying 'little people' who pay their bloody wages. That's called democracy. Or, telling it like it is. Speak ye onto to the very people, Stevie.

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