Thursday, March 08, 2012

Sunspots, Changing Gear, Driving Round With My Very Best Friend

The phenomenal success of Mrs Brown's Boys is to be extended with a new animated version – whilst creator Brendan O'Carroll is working on another BBC sitcom idea. Production will start on the cartoon series this year, giving O'Carroll the chance to export his characters around the world. He has been working on the idea for four years, and the team of animators from Arizona have already made the title sequence for the BBC1 show. 'I always knew that if I could get Mrs Brown on to BBC TV, it would explode,' he told the Irish Independent. 'The wonderful thing about doing a cartoon is that they translate it into any language.' Versions for export to countries including Brazil and Japan are being planned under the co-production deal between Universal Studios and O'Carroll's own production company, Bocpix. It could replicate the success of the fifty two Mr Bean animations, which have been screened around the world. And while shooting on a third series of Mrs Brown's Boys begins in October, the BBC has also commissioned another pilot from O'Carroll. The new show will be based on his first play, The Course, and star the Dublin comedian as a lecturer trying to inspire a group of no-hopers.

The latest episode of yer actual MasterChef picked up more than four and a half million viewers on Wednesday night on BBC1, according to overnight data. The cooking competition recovered from last week's relative slump opposite international football by taking 4.53m from 9pm. MasterChef comfortably hammered ITV's Champions League football coverage, which was watched by 3.08m. On Channel Four, One Born Every Minute improved week-on-week to 3.1m in the 9pm hour (and with a further four hundred and eighty thousand punters on C4+1). Overall, BBC1 comfortably secured a victory in primetime with twenty per cent of the audience beating ITV's fourteen per cent.

Karen Gillan has admitted that it could be 'a struggle' to adapt to life away from Doctor Who. The actress, who will leave midway through the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama's next series along with co-star Arthur Darvill, told Collider that she is 'preparing' for a 'shock to the system. We have so much fun. It's so life-consuming, but in the most wonderful way,' she explained. 'We film pretty much every day, for nine months of the year, so it's basically your life. 'When you're not filming it, you're promoting it and talking about it, so it really does take over your life. It's going to be quite shocking. It will be a strange shock to the system, to not be doing it anymore.'

Meanwhile, lots of Doctor Who casting news has hit the wires over the last couple of days. Firstly, Adrian Scarborough has won a guest role on the show. The Upstairs Downstairs actor will reportedly appear in the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama's seventh series, according to Spotlight. A very fine actor indeed, Adrian will play a character named Kahler Jex in an episode that is being directed by Saul Metzstein. So, that's presumably one of the two in the first recording block which is currently underway. Scarborough has previously starred in Psychoville, Gavin & Stacey and Cranford, while his film credits include 2006's Notes on a Scandal and 2010's The King's Speech. Sherlock's Rupert Graves, Ideal's David Bradley and The Fast Show's Mark Williams are among the names already confirmed as guest stars for the next series. Williams will apparently be playing a character named Brian Williams, Spotlight has also revealed which has, inevitably, increased prior fan speculation that his role is, actually, that of Rory's dad. Doctor Who's new executive producer Caroline Skinner recently promised that the latest series will 'blow everybody's mind.' Although, hopefully not, you know, literally. Cos that would be messy and, probably, illegal. 'We've got a lot of [the scripts] and the ones that are written are really, really epic and very exciting,' she said.

There's also been a report in the - usually highly reliable - Doctor Who Magazine that the American actor Ben Browder has signed up to appear on the show. The episode is said to be written by Being Human creator Toby Whithouse and is alleged to be set in the American Wild West. Best known for playing John Crichton on Farscape from 1999 to 2003, Brower later starred in Stargate SG-1 just at the point when it stopped being really good and has also appeared in a recent episode of Chuck. Never a massive fan of Farscape was yer actual Keith Telly Topping. I always thought the Muppets were the best actors on the thing. But, nevertheless, in certain circles, I imagine that particular piece of casting is being greeted with squees of barely concealed delight.

And, make of this one what you will dear blog reader, but there's currently a - really strong - rumour doing the rounds on the Interweb that the great Idris Elba is being lined-up for a guest slot in an episode (possibly the fourth) in the next series of Doctor Who. Not that the strength of any rumour is, necessarily, an indicator of the likelihood that, in all probability, it's total bollocks, of course. Personally, this blogger rather doubts the veracity of that one - I think Idris might be a bit busy filming the next series of Luther at the moment for any TARDIS-related activity. But, yer actual Keith Telly Topping brings you the word on the street (or, in this case, the word on the virtual street) just in case it turns out to be kosher. And, if it does then, frankly, whoopee because yer actual Idris is, quite possibly, the best actor in the world at the moment.

Moving away from Doctor Who now, and sadly returning to the not-particularly-pleasant real world, a thirty five-year-old man has been arrested after a female torso, feared to be that of a missing former EastEnders actress, was found in a canal in London. The body is feared to be that of Gemma McCluskie, twenty nine. Police were alerted after a passer-by noticed something suspicious in the Broadway Market stretch of Regent's Canal in Hackney on Tuesday afternoon. McCluskie, who played Kerry Skinner on the BBC soap in 2001, disappeared from Bethnal Green last week. Scotland Yard said that it knew the victim's identity but was awaiting results of further forensic tests before formal identification. Family and friends have been carrying out searches across East London and handing out leaflets. McCluskie's former co-stars Natalie Cassidy and Brooke Kinsella both appealed for help on Twitter to find her. A post-mortem examination on the body is due to take place at Poplar Mortuary this week. The arrested man remains in custody at an East London station. Divers from Scotland Yard's Marine Support Unit recovered the torso and additional searches are due to be carried out in the water. McCluskie appeared in the BBC1 soap for thirty episodes. Her character was a friend of Zoe Slater and the great niece of the late Ethel Skinner. Her character briefly dated Robbie Jackson and got him to propose to her.

E4's successful youth drama Skins is to end after next year's seventh series, Channel Four has confirmed. The final series to be broadcast in early 2013, with Channel Four promising 'a celebration of this truly iconic series.' Skins, created by father-and-son writers Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain and made by independent producer Company, was groundbreaking in its use of a team of young writers and a cast of actors often getting their first major TV break. The cast was also regularly changed from series to series. The E4 drama was also innovative in its use of social media to market the show. Skins debuted on E4 in January 2007 with 1.4 million viewers – at the time the digital channel's biggest ever audience for a UK-originated show other than Big Brother. 'Skins is a brilliant show which has defined a generation and will go down as a truly iconic, game-changing piece of television but after seven series it is time for E4 to make way for the next generation of the bold, the new and the innovative,' a Channel Four spokeswoman said.

Prisoners' Wives finished its six episode run this week with an overnight series average of 4.37 million per episode. BBC1 have certainly brought back dramas which did less than that in their first series (Luther is a really good example and that exploded, audience-wise, during its second run). Additionally, Prisoners' Wives increased its number of viewers between episodes one and two, four and five and five and six. It also achieved high AI scores and an average of around one million timeshifts per episode so far too. (The final, consolidated ratings for the last episode will be next week.) All of which means one certainly wouldn't rule out the drama getting a second run. Indeed, writer Julie Gearey is said to be developing series two as we speak.

Ofcom has complained to the Dutch media regulator about the content of adult chat channels Babestation and Smile TV, which are licensed in the Netherlands but broadcast to millions of Freeview households in the UK overnight and can be easily accessed by children in their bedrooms. Or, indeed, adults in their bedroom for that matter. But, that doesn't make as good a headline for the Gruniad Morning Star to get all pompous and self-righteous about, of course. The UK media regulator said that 'this is an important issue, and active discussions are under way' with Commissariaat voor de Media, the Dutch media's content licensing body, to see how British audiences can be 'protected' from scenes of 'near naked women' massaging each other's breasts, masturbating and faking orgasms. Because we need protecting from such things, apparently. Babestation and Smile TV broadcast free to air on digital terrestrial TV service Freeview between 10pm and 6am. Adult channels feature in two blocks on the Freeview electronic programme guide, ninety three to ninety eight and one hundred and ninety to one hundred and ninety eight. Just in case you were wondering how to avoid them, dear blog reader. Ofcom has previously revoked the broadcast licences of adult pay-TV channels including Tease Me for repeatedly airing material that was 'too sexually explicit' for pre-watershed hours. However, as Babestation and Smile TV are licensed by the Dutch media authority, rather than Ofcom, the UK regulator has no power whatsoever to block or ban them. Not that that's stopping them from trying. The regulator added that it has 'no tally' of the number of complaints received from British viewers about the channels, adding that it advises those offended to approach the Dutch regulator. The Mumsnet website has hosted a lively discussion on the issue. Caroline Dinenage, Conservative MP for Gosport and member of the parliamentary inquiry into online child protection, said there was 'an urgent need' to address 'inappropriate' television content. Who decides what's inappropriate and what isn't, of course, is the part of that equation that Caroline failed to address. 'Some of the images on Freeview may be contravening UK regulation. This is terrestrial TV, free to everyone, including children and teenagers,' Dinenage added. 'We need to ensure that Freeview operators who sell capacity to non-UK porn channels behave responsibly, and respect UK regulations. There may be a compelling case for Ofcom to withdraw licences from companies selling spectrum to porn channels, without putting in place age restrictive access control.' The channels could be in breach of UK regulations by promoting websites offering what may be R18 – the UK classification for hardcore pornography – content or equivalent, which can be accessed via a premium phone-line, requiring no verification of age. Ofcom's rules require any such promotions to be run after midnight. 'If they don't do what we ask them we can go to the European Commission,' said an Ofcom spokesman. Freeview is owned by broadcasters the BBC, ITV, Channel Four, BSkyB and transmission company Arqiva. A Freeview spokesperson said that as an open platform it is 'required' to broadcast licensed channels which apply for distribution, including Babestation and Smile TV. The channels use DTT spectrum owned by Arqiva to broadcast on Freeview. However, a spokesman for Dmol, a company owned by the operators of the six Freeview multiplexes – the BBC, ITV, Channel Four and Arqiva – said that it is about to launch 'a four-month consultation' which is expected to result by the autumn in the adult channels moving towards the end of the Freeview EPG in one block. Each multiplex owner is responsible for a bundle of spectrum via which a number of channels are broadcast. Any spectrum not used for their own channels is leased to other broadcasters. The Dmol spokesman said that the current arrangement was 'not ideal', with the Dutch-licensed adult chat channels accessible to ninety per cent of about 10.6m UK homes that use Freeview as their only access to digital TV. 'We are conscious of the need to move quickly. We are encouraged by news of Ofcom's active discussions,' he added.

Waking the Dead and The Royle Family star Sue Johnson could be heading to Weatherfield to play the role of Stella Price's mother in Corrie. It would be a second stint on the ITV soap for Johnston, sixty eight, who appeared as Sammy Chadwick's wife in the early 1980s just before she got her, much more famous, soap break on Brookside. And then came Crime Traveller and, for a while, it all looked like going horribly wrong. 'Everyone is thrilled. She's a brilliant actress,' an alleged - anonymous - 'insider' is reported to have allegedly told the Sun. 'We can't wait to have a member of The Royle Family walking down those famous cobbles and enjoying a drink in the Rovers.' The alleged 'source' - who, as usual, appears to speak in that strange tabloidesque two-syllables or less cliche-ridden bollocks that no real person has ever talked like - allegedly added: 'Sue would be a perfect addition to Weatherfield. She is the only person we are talking to about the role. She is keen and we're keen so it should hopefully be a done deal very soon.' A spokesperson for Coronation Street told the Radio Times: 'We are currently looking to cast Stella's mum but we would never comment on who we may or may not be interested in for any role.' So, that'll be Sue Johnston, then.

Two hundred and one people - including cast members of daytime BBC drama Doctors - appeared in Birmingham city centre dressed as nurses this week, for charity. One or two even appeared as naughty nurses. Which was nice. They were taking part in BBC WM's Red Alert Appeal for blood cancer charity Cure Leukaemia, and they also set a new world record, for the most people gathered in one place dressed as nurses - hospital premises not included. For, apparently, there is such a record. Or, if there wasn't, there is now. It's hoped the appeal will raise five hundred thousand to pay for nurses to carry out clinical trials of new drugs for leukaemia patients. Cure Leukaemia is based at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital and needs to find twenty five grand for each nurse involved in the treatments, which will be offered at a number of hospitals in the area. Professor Charlie Craddock, co-founder of Cure Leukaemia, said: 'Without expert research nurses we cannot run the clinical trials needed to get these treatments through to patients. Being chosen as a BBC WM charity partner is a momentous leap forward for Cure Leukaemia. For us it is very simple, more money for more nurses means we can save more lives.'

Ex-Sky Sports pundit Andy Gray has admitted that he considered taking his own life following his sacking for making crude sexist remarks about a female referee's assistant and a colleague. But, he didn't. So that's all right then.
The police were largely apolitical until Tony Blair said that his government would be 'tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime,' the former Met Police chief Lord Blair (no relation) has said. Lord Blair told the Leveson Inquiry that the comment prompted 'a fierce battle' on crime as a party political issue. I'm not sure that's true, you know. Crime has always been a political issue - the Tories, for example, have always prided themselves on being 'the law and roder' party. So, this all sounds like yet another example of coppers trying to shift the blame for their own laxness in doing their bloody job onto someone else. Blair said that his resignation and that of his successor, Sir Paul Stephenson, were covered by political correspondents rather than crime reporters. Which, again, isn't exactly surprising. When the top police officer in the country falls on his own sword, who did you expect was going to be reporting on it, the Berkshire Herald and Globe? Jesus, and this was the bloke who was, supposedly, leading the protection of the country against terrorist attack? It seems we all had one hell of a lucky escape. Blair was Metropolitan Police Commissioner between 2005 and 2008. And is considered to have done and ... average job. The shooting of the odd Brazilian electrician for simply being foreign and in the wrong place at the wrong time notwithstanding. He told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards: 'I don't know how the political genie can be put back in the bottle. My sense is about the way in which crime became a dominant issue in US politics and they have much less distinction between the operational independence of police and the way police chiefs are appointed and dismissed. We have some difficulty. If one looks at the coverage of crime in newspapers, it is enormous and politicians are going to take note of that.' Lord Blair said that he believed when he was in the job that senior staff were already spending too much time worrying about what the media was going to say next. He said he had been 'determined' that less time would be spent on press matters than under his predecessor. Blair told the inquiry: 'I didn't have any dinners at all with editors or journalists with an exception with one friend who was a friend before I became commissioner, which was entirely social.' Blair claimed that there was a place for off-the-record briefings between police and journalists but these needed to be 'tightly controlled.' He said he knew broadcast journalists less well, with the exception of BBC director general Mark Thompson, who was 'a close neighbour.' Blair claimed that he had 'no recollection' of discussing the loan by the Met of a horse to former News International chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks in 2008. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks got the horse 'on loan' from Scotland Yard on the very same day that she had lunch with Blair. He claimed that the scheme under which old police horses were housed and bills for their care were paid by members of the public was 'preferable to having to put the animal down.' News that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was loaned the police horse - Raisa - in 2008 when she was editor of the Sun came as the Met tries to deflect claims that it became 'too close' to News International. Blair's memories were serialised by the Scum Mail on Sunday but he had never written for News International for payment, he told the inquiry. However, he did admit that his son had undertaken work at the Sun, as had the son of another former commissioner, Lord Condon. Blair then referred to evidence the inquiry will hear from Scotland Yard's press chief, Dick Fiasco, about the loan of the horse. Blair claimed: 'What I understand Mr Fedorcio will say is that he was telephoned by Rebekah Brooks asking about this arrangement that she had heard that this arrangement existed, and that then he arranged for her to go down and see the inspector in charge of horses and then have a discussion about it and this actually seems to have happened on the day that I had lunch with her, and what I understand Mr Fedorcio is going to say is that this was discussed at the lunch. I have absolutely no recollection of that.' He told the inquiry that he did not think anyone had 'taken notice' of the police rulebook on behaviour, called General Orders, because it was 'too complex.' Which, frankly, for the country's leading police officer for three years to suggest is possibly the single most shocking thing to come out of the Leveson inquiry. Is that now an excuse that can be used by yer average bank robber. 'Sorry yr honour, I never read the law that said I couldn't rob a bank without a incurring a lengthy stretch at Her Majesty's, it was too complex.' Blair said there was 'an increasing number' of leaks to the media while he was commissioner - in his view this was not for money but to further people's own views. Asked about the original phone-hacking investigation in 2006, Blair said the practice was something that had 'not been heard of' before and 'there was a discussion of whether it was an offence at all.' Blair was told in late 2006 that his number was in private investigator Glenn Mulcaire's file but he said he had 'no evidence' that he had ever been hacked. The inquiry then heard from former Met Police Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick. He claimed that he and others under his command became 'concerned' about relationships between officers and journalists. 'It became apparent that some officers were being bribed for stories,' he said. Intelligence revealed payments of between five hundred smackers and two grand - Quick said such amounts meant that either journalists were 'falsely claiming' this money from their employers or the newspapers 'were complicit.' He said that he had recommended an investigation but former Met Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman 'had reservations' and decided this was 'too risky.' Quick told the inquiry that he saw 'no evidence' of deliberate leaking of information.

Former Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Champagne John Yates resisted an attempt to examine his phone records over allegations he was leaking information from the cash for honours investigation, saying he was 'very well connected.' Bob Quick, then the chief constable of Surrey, said that he was called in to review the cash for honours criminal investigation led by Yates. He gave it a clean bill of health but in January 2007 Quick was called in again after Britain's top civil servant, Gus O'Donnell, complained that the police were leaking details to the media. O'Donnell specifically named Yates as the source of the leaks from the investigation, which menaced the then Labour government. Quick alleged that the then Met deputy commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, did not implement his recommendation that the phone records of Yates, who was leading the inquiry, should be examined for evidence that he was leaking against the government or, indeed, evidence ruling him out of doing so. Quick further alleges that he clashed with Yates over his suggestion. As he resisted the suggestion, Yates told him: 'No Bob, I am very well connected.' Quick told Lord Leveson that his review found no evidence implicating Yates as the leaker. Quick said Yates's media contacts 'troubled' him, especially after he saw Yates having a drink - champagne or not, he didn't say - with a Daily Scum Mail crime journalist, Stephen Wright, whose paper was, he said, trying to 'demolish' the then commissioner Sir Ian Blair. Quick said this contact was 'extraordinary.' Quick claimed that 'on at least two occasions' when he was invited to drinks at a wine bar near Scotland Yard, he saw Yates, Fiasco and Stephenson having drinks with Lucy Panton of the Scum of the World and Mike Sullivan of the Sun. In 2000, Quick, then part of Scotland Yard's anti-corruption command, wanted to investigate newspapers after a covert operation revealed corrupt payments to police officers for information. Quick added that in 2000 it struck him as possible that newspaper organisations were aware of the reasons for the payments and were themselves complicit in making corrupt payments to police officers. His report was submitted to his then boss, Andy Hayman, but no action was taken, the inquiry heard. Hayman, of course, subsequently left the force for a job at news International writing for The Times. So, nothing whatsoever highly suspicious about that co-incidence. Nope, definitely none. No siree, Bob. All completely honest and legal and above-reproach. Definitively. Quick said that in 2000 it was 'clear' that tabloid journalists, most likely with their bosses' blessing, were bribing officers: 'There were considerable grounds to believe that journalists from tabloid newspapers were corruptors,' he said. Quick also alleged that that his senior Scotland Yard colleagues 'buckled' under Conservative party pressure and withdrew their support for the investigation of a Tory frontbench spokesman who had received leaks which, Quick believed, endangered national security. Quick told the Leveson inquiry on Wednesday that the arrest in 2008 of the Conservative immigration spokesman, Damian Green, 'sparked outrage' from senior Tories and Conservative-leaning newspapers. Quick said that the furore led the then acting Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, to ask him to halt the criminal investigation. Quick alleged that Green had not just received the leaks but had encouraged a civil servant to pass on information that 'might have endangered national security.' He said that his investigation began after a complaint from the government that material had been stolen from the safe of the then Home Secretary's private office. Green, who is now an immigration minister, was arrested in November 2008 by Scotland Yard. The arrest and search of Green's House of Commons office was condemned by David Cameron, then leader of the opposition, and by London mayor Boris Johnson, who is now in control of setting the Met budget and strategic priorities, as well as having the power to fire the commissioner. Christopher Galley, a civil servant, was also arrested. The Crown Prosecution Service decided in April 2009 not to prosecute Green or Galley. Quick said that Galley phoned Green after being released and was told he should 'plead not guilty and "do not mention David Davis"', the senior Tory whom Galley had first contacted offering to leak information to embarrass the Labour government. Quick said that he had 'thoroughly checked' the law at every stage of his investigation and had the support of Stephenson before the arrest. But, after the Tory explosion of anger, the acting commissioner withdrew his support, Quick claimed. The row erupted weeks after London's Tory mayor had in effect fired Sir Ian - now Lord - Blair as Met commissioner. Quick told the inquiry that Stephenson 'looked anxious' and claimed he had written his resignation letter after Tory criticism of Green's arrest. The Met claims that Stephenson, who went on to be appointed commissioner, had in fact written a statement saying he would leave the force in April when his contract expired. Quick agreed with Leveson's suggestion that dropping the inquiry would give the appearance at least of caving in to political pressure. The officer said Stephenson asked him to stop the inquiry: 'I expressed the view that I did not think it justifiable or ethical to stop the investigation purely on the basis of a controversy that appeared not to be driven by the public, but by those who may have a vested interest in deterring the police from undertaking such investigation.' Quick claimed Tory-supporting newspapers smeared him, he suspects with help from a senior police insider. He claimed that he had been forced to move his children out of his home amid security fears after the Scum Mail on Sunday published details about a wedding car business run by his wife, Judith, and staffed by former police officers. Stephenson and Dick Fiasco, the head of press at Scotland Yard, had failed to try to intervene to stop the paper publishing the story, Quick claimed. Quick apologised in December 2008 after claiming the Tories and their supporters were 'mobilised in a wholly corrupt way' against his investigation into Green's relationship with the Home Office civil servant. Counsel to the inquiry Robert Jay QC said: 'It all suggests a campaign from whoever to smear you in relation to the Green inquiry, to use a range of strategies.' Quick said that during the Green saga he came to believe some press leaks were so well informed that 'someone senior' at Scotland Yard must have been briefing the media to undermine the investigation. A report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary said the use of police resources in the Green investigation was 'debatable', while an internal police review said Green's arrest was 'not proportionate.' Leveson said that an article appeared in the Gruniad on 22 December 2008 that quoted 'a well-placed Conservative' as saying 'Bob Quick is behind this. I'm going to fucking get him this time.' The article read: 'Bob Quick moved quickly this morning to declare a truce with the Conservative party after it became clear that David Cameron had him in his sights. An early morning appearance by the Tory leader on LBC Radio, in which he demanded an apology from the Met's counter-terrorism chief, prompted Quick to issue an an unreserved apology. This was immediately accepted by Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, who said the Tories were keen to move on. But the matter will not end there; it has provided conclusive proof that the Conservatives are at war with senior figures in the Met. Many Tories are saying that it will take the appointment of an outsider, possibly Sir Hugh Orde from Northern Ireland, who started his career at the Met, to repair the damage. The Tories have long had Quick in their sights because he was one of the main officers who explained – some would say attempted to sell – the government's controversial plan to detain terror suspects without charge for up to forty two days. David Davis, the former shadow Home Secretary, took particular offence at one briefing with Quick when he appeared to be unfamiliar with one of the main arguments against the forty two day plan. Civil rights campaigners said there was no need for a change in the law because of the so-called "threshold test", which exists already. This allows the authorities to charge a terror suspect on weaker evidence than would be needed in normal criminal cases. The Tories emphatically deny having briefed the Mail on Sunday that Quick's wife ran a wedding chauffeur car business which sparked his outburst. But one well placed Tory said after Damian Green's arrest: "Bob Quick is behind this. I'm going to fucking get him this time."' Quick, then head of counter-terrorism and an assistant commissioner, resigned from the Met in April 2009 over a separate incident, when he was photographed entering Downing Street with a briefing note on counter-terrorism on display.

Two journalists at the Sun have reportedly been hospitalised after apparent suicide attempts, it has been claimed. An alleged 'source' claimed to the Evening Standard that Rupert Murdoch has ordered News International to pay for the medical expenses for the - anonymous - reporters in question. The alleged incidents occur amid investigations into alleged bribery of public officials by alleged journalists at the Sun, which has led to the arrests of eleven current and former staff at the paper. Three 'sources' also alleged confirmed to Reuters the alleged suicide attempt by two senior alleged reporters. A News International 'employee' - anonymous, of course - suggested that staff at the Sun felt 'under attack' from the Management and Standards Committee set up by News International's parent News Corp, which has been working with the authorities. 'People think that they've been thrown under a bus,' the alleged employee allegedly said. 'They're beyond angry - there's an utter sense of betrayal, not just with the organisation but with a general lynch-mob hysteria.' A Sun employee whinging about a lynch-mob mentality? Oh, the irony. A senior News International 'source' allegedly added to the Evening Standard: 'These former journalists are turning their own people over to police for "crimes" that newspapers have indulged in for centuries. I doubt whether Will Lewis and Greenberg will be able to show their face around News International. They have both shit all over their colleagues.' And we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for them? Bollocks to that nonsense. Now they might have an idea about how all the people they've stitched up and shat upon over the last forty years feel. Good. I hope they're effing scared. Other alleged 'sources' allegedly claimed that journalists at the paper's Wapping headquarters are 'terribly stressed and many are on the edge.'

Comedian Adam Hills - a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping - is to host Australia's first ever mass same-sex wedding on TV. Gay weddings are not yet legal in Australia, although two bills set to be put to Parliament in the near future would allow them, if passed. However Hills, who works in the UK for much of the year, is highlighting the issue with the mass wedding on 26 March, for which twenty couples have already signed up. He said: 'Same-sex couples may not be able legally marry in Australia yet, but they sure as hell can have a great big TV wedding. If you're a gay man, and you want to TV marry your male partner, you're invited. If you're a lesbian woman who wants to TV marry your female partner, you're invited. If you're transgender or bisexual and want to marry your same sex partner, you're invited. If you're a gay man who wants to marry a lesbian woman – well, bizarrely enough that is already legal, so you don't really need us!' Last month Hills – who will be one of the presenters of Channel Four's Paralympics coverage – asked the audience of his ABC talk show Adam Hills in Gordon St Tonight: 'If you were Prime Minister for a day, what law would you change or introduce?' The majority said they would legalise same-sex marriage. One audience member then proposed to her girlfriend on the show. Adam offered to throw them 'a TV wedding' which has been extended to the current idea. Among those supporting the idea is Stephen Fry, who sent this video message.

And, speaking of Stephen, Sweden is to make its own version of Qi. Johan Wester, a comedian famous in Sweden for his sketch show Hipphipp! (I'm not making this up, honest), will take the Fry role of hosting the show when it is broadcast on SVT Channel One in the autumn. It will be produced by Anders Lenhoff, who previously made a home-grown version of Have I Got News For You, as well as the world's first version of Survivor. He told the official Qi website: 'Let's just say that I thought Qi was a totally brilliant idea the moment I heard it; I share John Lloyd's idea that curiosity, seeking of knowledge and entertaining conversation can lead to a better world. Sort of. If nothing else, there is an appalling lack of curiosity, knowledge and entertaining conversation in the world today. Let's try to change that, in our own small way.' The Netherlands have previously made their own version of the show, but it was cancelled in early 2009, after eight episodes. Meanwhile, the original episodes are proving to be a big hit in Australia, where it was the highest-rated non-news programme in the summer ratings period.

David Tennant's got a lot of bottle doing the new Sport Relief advert. And, he's come over a bit saucy.
And there are probably a fair few additional puns once could squeeze out of the situation, but let's leave it at that shall we? The former Doctor Who actor is dressed as a bottle of tomato sauce in the latest trailer for the Sport Relief Mile, the charity event taking place across the country on Sunday 25 March.

Louise Minchin had to fill in on Wednesday night's episode of The ONE Show after Alex Jones 'completely lost her voice.' Is it too much to hope she doesn't find it anytime soon?
BBC Sport presenter Jake Humphrey has revealed that he is 'excited' about competing with Sky's coverage of Formula 1 this year. Sky will share the rights with the BBC for the first time this year and the broadcaster has already announced plans for a dedicated channel to the coverage. They have also poached the BBC's lead commentator Martin Brundle to front their shows. Speaking to the Digital Spy website about the battle for viewers between the BBC and Sky, Humphrey said: 'I'd love to have every F1 race on the BBC, but that isn't the case and we have to make the best of what we have. I think there are some benefits to the changes. In terms of our talent line-up, I think it's the best we've ever had. We've got Gary Anderson who has actually designed a Formula 1 car, we've got David Coulthard stepping into the commentary box, we've got a guy called Ben Edwards stepping in there as well, who I personally think is the best motoring sport commentator in the country. Although we have lost half the races on the BBC, we have gained in the talent we've got working for us.' Humphrey added: 'I think it's easier to raise your game when you're in the race with someone else. Sky will have an all-guns-blazing approach. When I was on the A4 last night, there was a massive Sky billboard promising every race live. All that stuff will inspire us to do an even better job. They'll have all the surround sounds and big studios, all singing, all dancing coverage, but ours will be what it's always been; three blokes walking up and down a pit lane with a bit of humour, bringing out the human side of F1. Last year, viewing figures were at a ten-year high, there was obviously a reason for that and we'll keep going with that.' The presenter argued that 'absolutely it would be bad' if Formula 1 disappeared completely from free-to-air TV, but claimed that F1 bosses and the sports sponsors' desire for the races to be seen by as many people as possible would mean that the sport would be 'staying on the BBC for a bit longer.'

It was always a tough choice for BBC Radio 5Live which match to cover on Tuesday night. Moscow Chelski's first game after the sacking of André Villas-Boas, or The Arse's Champions League attempt to overcome a four goal deficit against Milan? Sniffing a potential cup upset, 5Live bosses sent its top commentary team including Alan Green to Birmingham for Chelski's FA Cup fifth-round replay. So imagine how they felt when The Arse went one-up at the Emirates. And then two-up. And then three-up before half-time, when suddenly an extraordinary upset seemed more likely than not. So much so that Green opined he wished he could watch it on his monitor in the commentary box. 5Live belatedly flicked the switch and dumped Chelski for Arsenal, where lone correspondent Simon Brotherton took over the commentary. Alas, it was about this time when Arsenal's challenge effectively fizzled out, and Chelski put two past Birmingham. Perhaps 5Live should have concentrated on The Arse from the start, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. At least Brotherton proved – as 5Live is planning – that one commentator can do the job of two. He managed without a pundit as well.

A strong solar storm is expected to hit Earth shortly, and experts warn it could disrupt power grids, satellite navigation and plane routes. The storm - the largest in five years - will unleash a torrent of charged particles sometime between six o'clock and ten o'clock on Thursday morning, US weather specialists say. They suggest it was triggered by a pair of massive solar flares earlier this week. It means there is a good chance of seeing the northern lights at lower latitudes, if the skies are clear. The effects will be most intense in polar regions, and aircraft may be advised to change their routings to avoid these areas. In the UK, the best chance to see them will be on Thursday night, the British Geological Survey says. 'It's hitting us right in the nose,' said Joseph Kunches, an expert at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He described the storm as 'the Sun's version of Super Tuesday' - a highly parochial reference that will be understood by all of four people outside the US. Somewhat typical of Americans who seem to believe that the world begins at the Golden Gate Bridge and ends at the Statue of Liberty. And then they wonder why the rest of the world hates them. 'Space weather has gotten very interesting over the past twenty four hours,' Kunches added. The charged particles are expected to hit Earth at four million mph and Noaa predicts the storm will last until Friday morning. Images of the Sun's region where the flares happened show a complex network of sunspots indicating a large amount of stored magnetic energy. Other solar magnetic storms have been observed in recent decades. One huge solar flare in 1972 cut off long-distance telephone communication in the state of Illinois.

And, on a day like today, what better Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day could there be other than this?


Robin Brown said...

I loved Farscape. Though there will be no squeeing from me.

Robin Brown said...

I loved Farscape, though there will be no squeeing from me. Only if Paul Darrow is cast.

David Alexander McDonald said...

No squeeing from me over Browder, although I liked Farscape. I do disagree about Stargate SG-1 ceasing to be good with season 9, although I'd offer up as a point that it rather ceased to be Stargate SG-1 at that point, and they really should have stuck with the idea of calling it Stargate Command, or whatever, and consider SG-1 canceled. They might have gotten a few more years out of it, for one thing, even if the Ori were, frankly, bollocks.