Thursday, March 01, 2012

The Lucky Man Who Made The Grade

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is still shocked at the horribly untimely death of Davy Jones yesterday. I really must say, I do find myself actually proper sad about this in the same way that I was about Nick Courtney's passing last year, or Elizabeth Sladen's, or Michael Gough's. The Monkees (both the TV show and the band) were an important part of my childhood. Daft, I know, I never met the bloke, although I did see him sing live, twice. I guess it goes to show how much pop culture is such a direct access to memories of those formative years for all of us, when the world was full of possibilities. Seeing Davy singing 'She Hangs Out', or 'Star Collector' reminds me of being a snotty eight year old rushing home from school in time to catch tea-time telly. In particular I draw your attention dear blog reader, to a superb think-piece in the Gruniad by Bob Stanley, a chap I've always had a lot of time for: 'They quit before it became too embarrassing, and almost immediately their short run of hit singles, plus the TV theme, became oldies radio regulars. Dig deeper, though, because the Monkees' catalogue is full of gems. Their influence is gentle but pervasive; it's hard to think of any other group who could have released a song that would be covered by both the Sex Pistols and PJ and Duncan. "Whenever I think of The Monkees," said The Go-Betweens' Robert Forster in 1986, "it's a sunny morning, the brightest colours, and David Jones's eyes. Their music is perfect, as perfect as pop could ever be. 'Last Train to Clarksville' has been written, and we are left with our own imperfection."' What he said. But, as the (also sadly late) John Peel once said - I think it was after the death of either Ian Curtis of possibly John Lennon, 'the beat goes on and we, however reluctantly, must go on with it.' Aye, ain't that the truth. So ...

As noted on a previous blog update, but now most of the tabloids have picked it up so it's probably worth repeating, Doctor Who's Matt Smith has said that he takes his presence in the series 'season-by-season.' Which is all you can really do when you're on a one-year rolling contract, I'd suggest. The actor, who has previously spoken of his desire to return to the stage, told ITV's notorious breakfast flop Daybreak that he is not yet looking beyond the end of the next run. 'It's a thrill playing the part and I don't want to give it up anytime soon,' Smith explained. 'We have a whole season to make and a Christmas special as well, so I won't be leaving any time soon. We'll get this season out of the way and see where I'm at. I take it season-by-season and I take the job day-by-day because there's no other way you can do it.' On the subject of the upcoming departures of his cast mates Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, Smudger said: 'It is sad for me, she's a great friend, and creatively I have a really interesting relationship with her and Arthur, but the show is bigger than any of us. It's been going in 2013 for fifty years and it will continue way after me and so much of it is about change, and also you have to celebrate that and it's about reinvention. And how wonderful that someone invented a concept where a show can change so much.'

The BBC have commissioned sitcom pilot Hebburn for a full series on BBC2. Described as 'a warm and affectionate tale of North East family life,' the show, written by comedian Jason Cook, was first presented at the Salford Sitcom Showcase in October 2011 and is the latest local venture for the BBC following the success of comedy talent search Jesting About. Cook told the Giggle Beats website: 'Obviously I'm over the moon to have my first series commissioned. There is a very particular sense of humour in the Geordies; we don't take ourselves too seriously, and we have a way of handling bad news – maybe because we get a lot of it! – so I'm hoping to show the nation that. We're planning to partially shoot on location in Hebburn itself, which will be quite odd seeing my hometown on the TV. I spent last weekend taking pictures of all the places I grew up, and I'm hoping to use them in the show. So for me, Hebburn is going to be a bit of a documentary as well as a comedy show.' Cook also confirmed that Vic Reeves will be making an appearance during the series: 'Having Jim Moir on board will be a perfect complement to the people we're already working with. We've got such a great team working on the show, and I'll be working with some of my comedy heroes, too; so the pressure is on to not let them, or the people of the North East, down. It’s going to be a riot.' BBC North chief Peter Salmon added: '[Hebburn] is just part of the jigsaw we're building in the North East.' Hebburn will be produced by Channel X North and Baby Cow. Several media outlets have described the show as 'the first sitcom to be made in the North East since The Likely Lads.' Of course, The Likely Lads (1964-1966) wasn't made in the North East at all, merely set there. The sequel, Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? (1973-74), did feature some location footage shot in and around Newcastle, Gatesheed, Waaalsend and North Shields, but the majority of the show was still made in a studio in London, same as every other BBC sitcom of the period. Just thought I'd throw that in to demonstrate this blogger's massive, if thoroughly worthless, knowledge of the Clement and La Frenais masterpiece. Anyway ...

Speaking of world class BBC sitcoms, just a quick reminder that if you're in the vague North Tyneside area, next Tuesday - 6 March - will see Johnny Vegas: An Ideal Night Out at The Stand Comedy Club in Newcastle (on High Bridge, just off the Bigg Market). Join Johnny, writer and creator Graham Duff and cast members Seymour Mace, Ben Crompton, the legend that is Alfie Joey, Mick Miller, Jo Enright and Peter Slater for a unique evening of stand-up and celebration of BBC3's award winning (and now, tragically, cancelled by some ladgeful glake) sitcom Ideal. See the cast discuss their personal selection of favourite clips and anecdotes from over fifty episodes. There's a question and answer session with the audience, as well as an interactive quiz to find out who knows most about Ideal, plus a DVD EXTRA session where the cast will re-dub a chosen episode live and exclusive to that evening's show. If you're a fan of the series, or just a stand-up aficionado, then this is an unmissable opportunity to get up close and personal with with stars of Ideal at the city's new premier comedy venue. 'Folk say you should never meet your heroes,' notes Johnny, 'so why not come see me instead?!' Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is hoping to blag his way in as 'friend of one of the stars(!)' and will report back on what's sure to be an amazing evening's entertainment.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping heard a terrific story this week from a chap he met in the course of his everyday doings. This guy, let's called him Tim for the sake of argument, was telling me that he'd worked at the BBC in Manchester during the 1980s as a teenager at the old Oxford Road building. And that he'd got the old tin-tack after 'an altercation' with the late Rod Hull in the bar. 'He had his Emu thing on and he thought he was being hilariously funny by going up to people and attacking them from behind with it. He got to me and tried it so I turned round and punched him in the mush!' Yer actual Keith Telly Topping noted that Billy Connolly had threatened to do pretty much exactly the self same thing during that infamous Parkinson appearance and he got given his own show as a consequence. Some people, I guess, are just unlucky!

ITV's chief executive Adam Crozier has taken a swipe at BBC1's new Saturday night entertainment show The Voice. In a discussion about entertainment formats, Crozier claimed that he was looking for a new programme which 'moved away' in style from hits such as Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor. 'Of course Britain's Got Talent and X Factor are important programmes on the entertainment side,' Crozier told journalists. 'A lot of these shows have been running for some time and it is sensible to look at new ideas. The last two or three years there really hasn't been anything new around. Probably only The Voice and even that is a derivative of some of the shows around.' He added: 'In the last ten to fifteen years there has not been that many breakthrough ideas. It is the way you craft things and put them together that makes the difference.' Crozier has invested around twelve and a half million quid in ITV Studios to fund the production of pilots in the search for a new - and successful - entertainment format for the broadcaster. When he finds one, we're sure he'll let us all know about it. BBC1 controller Danny Cohen defended his channel's investment in musical reality series The Voice at the Edinburgh TV Festival last year. Cohen claimed that the battle he had with ITV for the rights to the show justified the sizable cost of the show. 'The fact that ITV tried very hard to get it - even though they've got The X Factor - suggests that they feel this show is different enough,' he said. The Voice launches in March on BBC1 and is expected to go head-to-head in the schedule with Britain's Got Talent.

Meanwhile, the claws are well and truly out over Alesha Dixon's defection from the Beeb to ITV. Strictly Come Dancing's Craig Revel Horwood has mocked his greedy talentless former co-star following her traitorous move to ITV's Britain's Got Talent for mucho lovely wonga, claiming that the singer was 'not very BBC1.' Dixon announced at the start of the year that she was quitting Strictly for a spot alongside Simon Cowell on a revamped BGT. Good riddance to bad rubbish, frankly. Horwood confessed that he had 'no idea' Dixon was leaving the series, but said that her drunken behaviour on Alan Carr's chat show last year should have been an indicator that she was exiting the BBC. 'We did Alan Carr's Chatty Man together. Bruno [Tonioli], Alesha and I did it. She got absolutely hammered on the show and was drinking out of the bottle,' said Horwood. 'I was like, "This is not very BBC1, darling!" And I was right - it was more ITV behaviour! Setting it all up. Getting lower to the gutter.' Oooo, get her! Queen bitch Horwood (and, that's why we love him!), was speaking at the launch of the second series of BBC2's Maestro which he is taking part in this year. He revealed that he had given suggestions for a replacement judge, but said that ultimately the BBC would make the decision. 'It would be interesting if we did get casting approval, but sadly, we don't. I'm just a pawn in the chess game and I'm waiting for the queen to be cast,' he said. Horwood did confirm that he would be back for the next series of the pro-celebrity ballroom talent show, adding: 'I'm not going anywhere.'

Bryan Adams has told of his 'shock' when a story about him being stalked appeared in the Sun, in evidence submitted to the Leveson inquiry. The Canadian-born singer said that he called police after being stalked by a woman and her son at his home in Chelsea three years ago. He said that a few days later the Sun carried a news story on the subject. Adams told Lord Justice Leveson, in a written witness statement, he was 'very annoyed' and speculated that the police may have deliberately 'leaked' the story. 'I was shocked to discover that news of the stalking was reported in the Sun. I had not consented to this information being made public and I was very annoyed that what I saw as a private issue was being reported without my knowledge or consent,' the statement read. Adams said that he had not discussed the stalking with 'anyone other than the police and my personal assistant. Although I have no proof, and therefore it is of course speculation, I do not believe that there could be any other explanation than the fact that the source must have been someone related to my call to the police,' he added. 'I can see no public interest in this being reported. It was not even accurate – no panic alarm was installed at my house. I do not see why the fact that I am a well-known musician should justify anyone leaking this story. I would much prefer it not to be known that I was stalked at my home in Chelsea.' He added: 'In my view it is no one else's business and could create the risk of copycat crime.' Adams said that he was stalked for about a month in late 2008 and rang the police after confronting the pair. 'On this occasion we rang 999,' said Adams. 'We have had no problems with any leaks to the press when we have rung the local police station.' Adams added: 'If information of this sort is to be released, it should be done so for proper public interest reasons, not to satisfy a desire for gossip.'
Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike and horse-sitter Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, had her phone hacked by Scum of the World twice a week when she was editor of the Sun, the Leveson inquiry has heard. The inquiry was told on Wednesday that Brooks heard from Scotland Yard detectives in 2006 that her phone number had appeared in the notes of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator used by the Sunday tabloid, and asked whether she wanted to make a complaint to the police. Is this the same Rebekah Brooks, incidentally, who spent much of the next four years denying that she knew anything about any phone-hacking, no siree bob? No, probably a different one. This information emerged when Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, was quizzing one of the detectives in charge of the original Metropolitan police investigation into Scum of the World phone-hacking in 2006. Jay explained to the inquiry that Brooks, then known by her maiden name Rebekah Wade, 'was one of the most accessed since 2005 – twice a week' and the police sought a meeting with her to discuss it further. Earlier this week the Leveson inquiry was shown an e-mail from the head of legal affairs at the Scum of the World in September 2006 to the then-editor of the paper, Andy Coulson. In this e-mail, Crone noted that the police were 'going to contact RW [Rebekah Wade] today to see if she wishes to take it further.' Jay said on Wednesday: 'This relates to a formal complaint that Rebekah Wade might make in her capacity as a victim.' Detective chief superintendent Philip Williams told the inquiry News International had been 'obstructive' and was 'not forthcoming' with information in relation to the police investigation into Mulcaire. Williams said he was stonewalled when he wrote a letter to Burton Copeland, the law firm acting for the Scum of the World, demanding documents relating to Mulcaire's contract and details of phone numbers that could have been used to hack phones. 'All you got from the solicitors acting for News of the World was extremely limited, evidentially,' Jay put it to Williams, to which he replied: 'Yes.' An internal memo from Keith Surtees, the officer who arrested Mulcaire and the then Scum of the World royal editor, Clive Goodman, in August 2006, to Williams, said: 'The News of the World were obstructive.' Despite the suspicion that there were hundreds of victims and that Scum of the World journalists other than Goodman ordering the hacking of the phones, the police did not investigate further, the inquiry heard. Williams did not go to court to seek a production order forcing the company to disclose documents, nor did he ask for a staff list which may have helped identify names in Mulcaire's notes of Scum of the World journalists who may have ordered hacking. Jay accused Williams of being 'painstakingly cautious' and inferred this was the reason why the original police investigation failed to identify the industrial scale of hacking that was being undertaken at the time. He said Williams could have gone to a magistrates' court and told the judge of a 'a pathetic response to our letter' to News International solicitors Burton Copeland and won a production order forcing the publisher to hand over key evidence. Williams told the inquiry repeatedly that this would have involved a 'step change' in the scale of the investigation and that in August 2006 the team, whose main business was anti-terrorism, was under 'enormous pressure' because of the threat of a terrorist attack on several planes around the UK. He denied that he was intimidated by News International or that the police enjoyed a 'cosy' relationship with any executives there. However, the inquiry heard that Williams's boss, Met deputy assistant commissioner Peter Clarke, decided in 'September or October' 2006 not to extend the inquiry beyond Goodman and Mulcaire, who pleaded guilty and were jailed in January 2007 for offences relating to voicemail interception.

News International 'obstructed' the original inquiry into criminal activity at the Scum of the World, refusing to hand over evidence to police of phone-hacking and thwarting a raid on its east London offices, senior detectives have told the Leveson inquiry. Keith Surtees told Lord Justice Leveson how officers were photographed and feared they 'might be attacked' when they searched the newspaper for evidence. Scotland Yard officers went to the tabloid's Wapping offices after they arrested royal editor Clive Goodman on 8 August 2006 on suspicion of intercepting voicemails left on royal aides' mobile phones. Surtees said there was 'some difficulty' conducting the search and recalled how four officers seized material from Goodman's desk and were then confronted by photographers and challenged by staff on the 'legality' of their raid. The police were 'concerned' that staff could 'offer some form of violence,' although this did not actually happen in the event. Surtees told Leveson that the officers tried to get their forensic team into the building but were 'refused entry.' There followed 'a tense stand-off. They were left outside. Our officers were effectively surrounded and photographed and not assisted in any way, shape or form,' he said. An internal memo from Surtees described the paper as 'obstructive.' The Met then wrote to publisher News International's law firm Burton Copeland asking it to hand over documents relating to payments to Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who formerly worked for the paper and was arrested at the same time as Goodman on suspicion of intercepting voicemails. They also sought floorplans of desks and accompanying telephone numbers to try to establish if three other Scum of the World journalists had been 'involved in hacking.' News International rebuffed the requests. At the time police strongly suspected Mulcaire was not just hacking the phones of members of the royal household, but had also targeted politicians, celebrities, sports people and unspecified 'state securities.' The inquiry heard how the mobile phone voicemail of one member of the royal household had been accessed five hundred and twenty times.

James Murdoch has stepped down as executive chairman of News International, the UK newspaper business that owns the Sun and The Times titles. The newspaper publisher has been tainted by phone-hacking allegations. The scandal led the company to close its Scum of the World title in shame and ignominy in July last year. Murdoch will remain as deputy chief operating officer of parent group News Corporation. James Murdoch said: 'I deeply appreciate the dedication of my many talented colleagues at News International who work tirelessly to inform the public.' He added that the launch of a new Sunday edition of the Sun and 'new business practices' put the company in 'a strong position' for the future. Last year, James Murdoch twice appeared before the UK Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Committee to answer questions as part of its inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal. Paul Connew, a former Scum of the World deputy editor, said that he was 'not surprised' James Murdoch had stood down. 'I think you've got to look at the bigger picture here,' said Connew. 'Quite clearly there's going to be criticism of James Murdoch in the culture and media select committee report, which presumably will be coming out in the not too distant future, and I think essentially he's been moved out of the firing line.' James Murdoch's departure also comes as the separate Leveson Inquiry continues to investigate the culture, practices and ethics of the British press as a result of the phone-hacking allegations. James' father Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive at News Corporation, said: 'We are all grateful for James' leadership at News International and across Europe and Asia, where he has made lasting contributions to the group's strategy in paid digital content and its efforts to improve and enhance governance programs.' Rupert Murdoch added that James would now 'continue to assume a variety of essential corporate leadership mandates, with particular focus on pay-TV businesses and broader international operations.'

Odious Tory slaphead Toby Young, the Sun on Sunday's new political columnist, risked alienating potential readers even before the newspaper's launch last Sunday, by referring to the death of schoolgirl Milly Dowler as 'that murdered girl thing' on Twitter. And then these disgraceful shit scum lice bastards wonder why everybody in the country hates them and would think twice about breaking if they crossed the road in front of them. Young's comment, of course, grossly offended many, including those associated with the Dowler family, and provoked something of a understandable Twitter shit-storm in its aftermath. Solicitor Mark Lewis, representing the Dowler family, said: 'I do not intend to dignify his comment by saying why it was wrong. If that is the standard of journalism at the Sun on Sunday then it seems that they have learnt nothing from the past.' Young had written to the Father Ted creator Graham Linehan on Twitter: 'That murdered schoolgirl thing? Check the Guardian story. Turned out to be balls. Get off your high horse.' Young told the Independent on Sunday that his comments were in the context of a Twitter debate with Linehan. 'He referred to Milly Dowler as the "murdered girl" and asked me how I could work for Murdoch. I was pointing out that the Guardian's original story, in which Nick Davies accused Glenn Mulcaire of having deleted Milly Dowler's voicemail messages, turned out to be wrong. Quite a serious error, given that it led to the closure of a national newspaper,' he said. Which, of course, it didn't. What caused the closure of the Scum of the World was the massive loss of advertising revenue as dozens of companies who previously advertised with News International showed their utter revulsion over a series of stories (not just in the Gruniad but, also in the Independent and the Telegraph) over the course of a week in July about the horrific alleged activities of Scum of the World journalists. Of which the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone (something which the News International has never denied that people on its payroll were responsible for) was merely one horrific example. News International chose not to comment, nor respond to whether Rupert Murdoch would be taking any action against Young. Personally, this blogger hopes that Young catches some really nasty, painful - though non-lethal - skin disease of the arsehole for such rank and despicable excuse-making. I'm sure your mother is very proud of you, Toby. You ignorant bucket of puss.

And now, another episode of the nation's favourite pastime, Daybreakwatch:-
01 Feb 693k AI 68
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Things haven't got any better for Daybreak since they kicked Chiles and the Curiously Orange Bleakley's sorry asses into the collective gutter along with all the other collective turds, is it, dear blog reader?

The National Union of Journalists has appealed along with several broadcasting organisations against an order that compels journalists to hand over their footage to the police. The appeal raises fundamental issues about the ability of the press to report matters of public interest impartially and without fear of intimidation. The application has been made on behalf of an NUJ member, Jason Parkinson. The BBC, ITN, BSkyB and Hardcash Productions have also submitted appeals. It follows a court ruling that requires media companies to comply with a production order by giving up to Essex police all the footage gathered during the first two days of the Dale Farm evictions. It included images of a police officer using a taser gun. Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ's general secretary, said: 'Journalists played a critical public interest role in reporting on Dale Farm, producing footage on the ground so the public were informed about exactly what was happening. Their reward is to be hounded and criminalised by the state simply for doing their job as journalists. The appeal launched by the NUJ will have significant implications for the whole of our industry and we are challenging this decision because the union's code of conduct compels the union – and our members - to defend a vital principle, the protection of journalistic sources and material. Our members regularly face attack and intimidation whilst doing their jobs. The danger increases if footage gathered whilst reporting events is seized and used by the police. This is an attack on press freedom and turns photographers, videographers and journalists into potential targets. Journalists are not there to carry out investigatory work for the police.' Parkinson, a video journalist, said: 'The production order against me could have grave professional consequences and there is a danger it will have a serious impact on my ability to carry out my job in the future. I want to protect the integrity and impartiality of journalists on the frontline.' John Domokos, video producer for the Gruniad, said: 'Jason has been a contributor of public order and unrest footage to the Guardian for many years. We are very concerned about this production order as we believe it will not only seriously jeopardise his safety and ability to cover future events of this nature, but also affect the safety and impartiality of all video journalists.'

Channel Four has acquired World Without End, the follow-up to medieval drama The Pillars of the Earth, and the TV adaptation of Kate Mosse's historical thriller Labyrinth, starring John Hurt and Downton Abbey's Jessica Brown-Findlay. The broadcaster has acquired the UK TV rights to World Without End, the adaptation of author Ken Follett's sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, which stars Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon, Miranda Richardson and [spooks]'s Peter Firth. The eight-part mini-series, produced by Tandem Communications and Take Five Productions, is set in the same fictitious English town as The Pillars of the Earth, Kingsbridge, but one hundred and fifty years later, featuring the descendants of some characters from the earlier story. World Without End is a co-production with Galafilm and is being made in association with Ridley and Tony Scott's Scott Free Films. It is directed by Michael Caton-Jones, director of Rob Roy and Shooting Dogs. Labyrinth, developed from Mosse's French-set thriller from the Dan Brown school of grail quests and secret societies, features a cast including Harry Potter star Tom Felton and Vanessa Kirby, whose credits include The Hour and Great Expectations. The adaptation, also by Tandem, has been scripted by My Week With Marilyn and Primeval writer Adrian Hodges. Both shows will be broadcast on Channel Four later this year.

And, speaking of Primeval a revamped version of the drama will be broadcast on UK channel Watch later this year. It was confirmed in September that a post-watershed spin-off from the ITV drama was in development. The new series - subtitled New World - has been described as 'older, darker and scarier' than its predecessor, with a 'younger, sexier' cast. So, that'll be crap, then? The thirteen-episode run has been filmed in Vancouver and will also be broadcast on the channel Space in Canada. Primeval co-creator Tim Haines previously insisted that the new show will be mostly separate from the original series. 'There is a little bit of crossover [with the UK show] in the first episode, and then we'll see how it goes after that,' he explained. 'Mostly they'll be getting on with it themselves.' In May 2011, Primeval actor Andrew Lee Potts told the Digital Spy website that he and his wife, co-star Hannah Spearritt, were unsure of their future with the programme. 'Primeval deserves to carry on, and I hope it does,' he said. 'As for mine and Hannah's involvement in that, we're not entirely sure.'

A Brazilian has been arrested after attempting to use a fake ID bearing the image of crazy Jack Nicholson. Ricardo Sergio Freire de Barros tried to open up a bank account in the city of Recife before civil police were called to the scene. Not only did the forty one-year-old look nothing like the seventy four-year-old in the photo, but officials instantly spotted the Oscar-winning actor. Police had been following Barros's actions for several months over acts of fraud, according to Chief Erivaldo Guerra. Barros was found to be holding six different IDs, cheque books and credit cards after he was arrested. He was later charged with using false documents and falsifying a public document. He is currently being held in jail while awaiting a court date.

Composers are being 'bullied' into surrendering their copyright by TV companies across Europe, a group representing musicians has claimed. The charges were laid in a complaint to EU competition authorities by the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance in January. ITV and BSkyB are among the British broadcasters accused of 'the coercive acquisition of composers' rights.' Based in Brussels, ECSA represents more than twelve thousand composers and songwriters. BASCA - the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors - is a leading member of ECSA and helped draft the complaint, which was filed with the European Commission's Directorate General for Competition last month. 'Individual composers find themselves obliged to sign away their rights for fear of losing work or of being blacklisted if they refuse,' said Chris Smith, from ECSA's Working Group on Coercion. The practice meant 'income which would otherwise flow to composers' was 'being taken by third parties,' he added. In a statement released ahead of a press conference held in Brussels on Wednesday, ECSA said what it called 'coercive commissioning' was 'a malignant and growing business practice in the audio-visual and media production sectors. ECSA alleges that the terms of publishing agreements into which composers are coerced by some of Europe's largest and most prominent broadcasters are far less fair than what could be secured in a truly free and open market.' Broadcasters and production companies in the Netherlands, France, Italy, Denmark and Austria are also cited in the complaint. It is now up to the European Commission to decide whether to open a formal investigation.

Sian Williams will stay at the BBC to co-present an extended Saturday Live on Radio 4. She will combine her Radio 4 duties with presenting BBC1 news bulletins, as well as hosting Olympics coverage for BBC Breakfast. The current BBC Breakfast presenter, who has enjoyed a successful six year partnership with Bill Turnbull as the programme's main hosts, will present her last edition on 15 March. She declined a move to Salford with the programme for family reasons and there have been rumours she was being courted by ITV. Saturday Live - which Williams will co-host with Reverend Richard Coles from 5 May - will be extended to ninety minutes, signalling the end of weekly travel show Excess Baggage. The last edition will be broadcast on 28 April with presenters John McCarthy and Sandi Toksvig moving to a fortnightly travel spot on Saturday Live. Williams, whose BBC career spans twenty six years, started out in BBC local radio. She went on to earn senior production credits at Radio 4, including The World at One, PM and The World This Weekend. She produced the Budget and Election Specials for the network, as well as the 1997 General Election coverage for Radio 4 and 5Live. Williams says the chance of a return to Radio 4 was 'too good to miss. It's a warm and witty way to start the weekend and I can't wait to be a part of the new team.'

Lisa Edelstein will not be making an appearance on the final season of House, it has been reported. Edelstein, who played Dr Cuddy opposite Hugh Laurie on the FOX medical drama, exited the show in May last year to pursue other roles. FOX recently announced that House would be ending after eight seasons on air. Show executive David Shore said that a possible reunion between House and Cuddy before the series finale could happen, but alleged 'sources' have now told TV Line that the forty four-year-old actress will not be returning to the series. Edelistein said last year: 'I haven't talked to anyone over there so it would seem unlikely. Who knows what I'll be doing? I have a lot on my plate. I wouldn't want to answer that and get anyone's hopes up. It doesn't seem like that's the direction anyone is going in.'

After nine years and one police investigation, the Northampton furniture retailer The Sofa King has been told by the advertising watchdog that it must ditch its catchphrase 'Where the Prices are Sofa King Low!' because it sounds too much like 'so fucking low.' The Sofa King, which advertises its location in Northampton as 'next to the cafe with the car on the roof,' said that it has been using the line on its shop, vehicles and advertising since it launched nine years ago. It is not the first time the company has been in lukewarm water over its risqué advertising. The Sofa King admitted that the Northamptonshire police had received complaints in 2004 from a member of the public but that they had not been pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service. The Advertising Standards Authority received three complaints from readers - seemingly with nothing better to do with their time - who saw an advert in the Northampton Herald & Post and found it 'offensive and unsuitable for general public display.'
In its defence The Sofa King said the slogan referred to pricing and that the words had 'not been changed or run together or punctuation used in a way intended to cause offence.' However, the ASA said that the phrase could be interpreted as a derivative of the word 'fucking,' which 'research had found' to be a word 'so likely to offend that it should not be used in ads at all, even when it was relevant to the name of a product.' Apparently. The ASA said because of this, the slogan was 'likely to cause serious or widespread offence' (to anybody with no sense of humour, which seems to be lots of people these days) and it banned the business from continuing to use the phrase 'Sofa King Low' in its advertising. Of course, in doing so, it's given The Sofa King far more publicity nationally than it would ever have bought in a month of Sundays from the Northampton Herald & Post. So, well done there ...

The Baltic art gallery in Gatesheed is to open an offshoot gallery in a new arts complex in neighbouring Newcastle. The Baltic, which opened a decade ago, had more than half a million visitors last year, when it hosted the Turner Prize. The new ten million smacker arts centre, named Baltic Thirty Nine, will open in April in a Grade II listed former printing warehouse. The Baltic said the new space would give artists 'creative freedom to experiment and innovate.' The building will also house studios for thirty two artists. Named after its location at 39 High Bridge, over the River Tyne from the main Baltic gallery, the new branch will also provide a home for Northumbria University's fine art students. A statement said the gallery would allow artists and curators to 'stretch the boundaries of contemporary art practice.' Its first exhibition, which opens on 6 April, will be curated by sculptor Phyllida Barlow and will use the work of twelve UK-based artists to examine the process of making art. Arts Council England will fund the exhibition programme. Arts Council regional director Alison Clark-Jenkins said: 'A pioneering approach to partnership between public, cultural and academic institutions has resulted in a nationally significant visual arts facility, developing both artists and practice. At times this has been a long journey for the Arts Council and our partners - but we've ended up in a very exciting place.'

Rock veterans The Fall and singer Badly Drawn Boy are to headline Frankfest, a gig to raise money to build a statue of comic character Frank Sidebottom. Known for his over-sized papier-mache head, Sidebottom was the alter ego of entertainer Chris Sievey, who died in June 2010. Friends are trying to raise sixty thousand quid to install a life-size bronze statue in Timperley, Manchester, where he lived. Frankfest will be held at the Jabez Clegg venue in Manchester on 31 March. 'The demise of Frank, when Chris died, was incredibly sad,' said Sievey's friend and statue campaign chairman Neil Taylor. 'We're trying to get a fitting tribute.'

Davy Jones' Monkees band mates have led the tributes to their 'long-time friend and fellow-adventurer' after the British singer died aged sixty six in Florida (see above). Guitarist Mike Nesmith said in a statement that Jones' 'spirit and soul live well in my heart among all the lovely people.' Bassist Peter Tork said: 'Adios to the Manchester Cowboy.' Drummer Mickey Dolenz, speaking to CNN, said the band had left a tour last year 'on a huge high note.' Manchester-born Jones died in his sleep from a heart attack at his home in Florida, his publicist told the BBC. He was taken to a hospital where staff were unable to resuscitate him. The Martin County Sheriff's Office said he had complained of breathing troubles early on Wednesday morning. Dolenz added: 'He was the brother I never had and this leaves a gigantic hole in my heart.' Nesmith, in a touching statement on his Facebook page said that he remembered 'the healing times that were created for so many including us.' Tork, in his statement, said: 'It is with great sadness that I reflect on the sudden passing of my long-time friend and fellow-adventurer, David Jones. His talent will be much missed. His gifts will be with us always.' The Monkees, often described as the first manufactured pop band, were brought together for a US TV series in 1966 and were marketed as the American answer to The Beatles. The TV show was massively popular in both the US and the UK, and the band had four number one LPs in America within a thirteen-month period - as well as a bunch of top twenty hits, including 'I'm a Believer' and 'Daydream Believer' - on which Jones sang lead vocals. Three of the band's original members - Jones, Dolenz and Tork - reunited together last year to play a series of gigs. David Thomas Jones was born in 1945 to a railway fitter and a housewife in Manchester and began his career early, appearing on soap opera Coronation Street aged fifteen, playing Ena Sharples' grandson, Colin. He also trained as a jockey. Basil Foster, who acted as his mentor at Newmarket, noticed Jones' skill as a performer and encouraged him to pursue his acting career. He soon had a role in the television police series Z Cars. His memorable performance as The Artful Dodger in the West End production of Oliver! followed and after it transferred to Broadway, he built up a career as an actor and singer in America before auditioning for The Monkees. Jones said that he had been inspired to pursue music by The Beatles' performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, on which he and the Oliver! cast also appeared. 'I thought, "I want to do that, I want all those girls screaming for me,"' he remembered. 'I'd thought I was doing well with ten, fifteen people outside the stage door.' Other figures from the music world to have paid tribute include The Smiths' guitarist Johnny Marr - speaking at the NME Awards - who said people would talk about Jones' legacy. 'There are a lot of musicians who have passed away who people don't remember. And he was from Manchester as well and he looked good and had good hair.' And The Kaiser Chiefs' Ricky Wilson said The Monkees were 'just some guys having fun.' He added: 'I think there's something infectious about guys looking like that and having fun. The tunes, you can't argue with them.' Music journalist Paul Gambaccini hailed Jones' 'phenomenal' charisma. 'The pop world at that time loved The Beatles and that north-western English sound was something that America wanted, when they put together the so-called Pre-Fab Four,' he said. He added that the idea of the music industry putting together a band was previously unheard of. 'There had been individual teen idols who had been literally picked up off the street and groomed to be pop stars, but there had never been a band that was put together.' They had been assembled because two producers had enjoyed Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night. Blur guitarist Graham Coxon said: 'I used to love the Monkees.' He noted that, while many of the musicians of that era 'seemed to say goodbye early,' Jones was 'a bit more of a clean-living chap. It's very sad,' he added. Davy is survived by his third wife Jessica, his four daughters, Talia Jones, Sarah McFadden, Jessica Cramar and Annabel Jones, and three grandchildren, Harrison and Lauren McFadden and Phoenix Burrows.

The childhood homes of alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney have been listed as Grade II buildings by English Heritage. Lennon's house - Mendips, on Menlove Avenue in Woolton, and McCartney's home on Forthlin Road in Allerton, are both in Liverpool. As if they were going to be in Huddersfield. English Heritage said the two houses were where Lennon and McCartney composed and rehearsed many of their early hits. Tourism and Heritage Minister John Penrose said The Beatles were 'tremendously important.' Not shit, Sherlock. He added that the listing meant the houses were 'legally protected from being bashed around or altered in future.' McCartney lived at Forthlin Road from the age of thirteen to twenty two with his dad, Jim and his brother Michael, and about one hundred Beatles songs were reportedly composed there. Lennon lived at Mendips, a 1930s semi-detached house, with his Aunt Mimi and her husband George Toogood Smith, from the age of five to twenty three. It was where Lennon and McCartney wrote 'Please Please Me' among others. It was at these houses that Lennon first started to play guitar, and where he, McCartney, now sixty nine, and George Harrison had the early practice sessions for their first band, The Quarrymen. Both properties have been restored by the National Trust to look as they would have done when Lennon and McCartney were growing up. In a statement, Lennon's widow Yoko Ono said: 'Mendips always meant a great deal to John and it was where his childhood dreams came true for himself and for the world.' Listed buildings cannot be demolished or altered without special permission from the local planning authority. Grade II buildings are described by English Heritage as 'nationally important and of special interest.'

This Thursday evening, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping will be attending the first of the latest run of Scunthorpe Steve Drayton's Record Player events at the Tyneside Cinema. In the first new event since late November, we're to be treated to an evening of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. There are only two rules, apparently - moustaches must be worn at all times. (Hence yer actual Keith Telly Topping has spent the last week growing one. And now looks uncannily like a fat Oswald Mosley.) And, that 'a splendid time is guaranteed for all.' Which is, of course, nice. Seriously, it'll be great to get back to The Record Player, the last four months worth of Thursday nights have been curiously empty. What a shallow and dreadful life I lead, dear blog reader. Future Record Player evenings will include The Queen Is Dead next week, OK Computer (so, bring your own razorblade along to that one), a couple of conceptually fascinating double-headers, a 'Blue Period' evening featuring Joni Mitchell's Blue and Miles Davis's Kind of Blue. And, a 'New York Punk' evening with Horses and Marquee Moon. Really looking forward to that one. So, anyway, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's one from Mr Drayton's, if you will, 33 of the Day.

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