Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Leaping Armadillo, Yes!

Matt Smith has promised that the departures of Doctor Who companions Amy and Rory will be 'incredible.' The duo - played by Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill - will exit the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama midway through the forthcoming seventh series. 'I think we've got some really exciting episodes,' Smudger told the Independent. 'We did the read-throughs for episodes one and five and they are extremely extraordinary. [I am] really, really pleased with them, so if we get them right, the Ponds' final hour could be incredible.' Matta went on to suggest that the new companion, actress Jenna-Louise Coleman, is 'going to offer a lot' to Doctor Who. 'Obviously, of course I'm very sad to lose Karen and Arthur but as I've said before, the show is about change and I think [Jenna is] a wonderful actress,' he said. 'She did brilliantly in the audition.' The actor once more reiterated that he does not plan to leave Doctor Who himself 'any time soon. I've got another series to make,' he explained. 'We've got the Fiftieth anniversary. We've got a Christmas special, so I've got loads of Who to do yet.' The fifth episode of the show's seventh run - the last to feature Amy and Rory - is currently shooting in New York.

Meanwhile, the odious Sun have attempted to squeeze themselves into the forthcoming Dalek story with a staggering piece of self-promotion.

If you are particularly eagle-eyed, dear blog reader, you may have noticed that the two-part Silent Witness story which was broadcast by the BBC this week - Domestic - was not, actually, the one that was described in several listing sources - And Then I Fell In Love. There is a simple reason for this. It involves, perhaps inevitably, The Law. The switch is, apparently, due to the BBC's view that And Then I Fell In Love's themes (about a gang grooming young girls for sex) could have the potential to be seen as prejudicial to 'a high-profile legal case.' This is a reference to a trial currently going on in Rochdale which has received much media coverage involving eleven men who have been charged with conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with children under the age of sixteen. According to a popular Silent Witness website, 'Once the trial is over the BBC will be able to air And Then I Fell In Love. However, it is unclear how long the trial will go on for.'

Silent Witness proved far too strong for Scott & Bailey for a second week in a row on Monday evening. The forensic procedural series is proving to be a real thorn in ITV's side this year, helping to sink yer actual Lord Snooty's Titanic on Sunday nights and taking the shine off the commercial broadcaster's popular crime caper Scott & Bailey on Mondays. Silent Witness posted its second lowest performance of the series to date (5.47m viewers), but this did not prevent it from comfortably winning the 9pm slot. The detective show recovered slightly from last week’s series low (4.41m) with an audience of 4.69m and also posted its best performance of the run on ITV+1, as many viewers caught up after watching Silent Witness at 10pm. However, Scott & Bailey, after such a promising start to its second series, remained stranded under ITV's slot average of 5.67m viewers for the past twelve months, according to overnight BARB figures. This year is the first time that Silent Witness has been scheduled on a Sunday since 2006, which may leave cynics (and, one imagines, a few mouthy ITV executives) wondering whether the BBC were deliberately trying to add a ratings torpedo to Titanic's woes. However, a series of very poor reviews of Lord Snooty's sea-bound drama suggest it may be the content, rather than the competition, that is primarily responsible for viewers deserting the sinking ship, as it were. The viewers have mostly stampeded for the lifeboats it would seem.

Things are looking really bad for Titanic. Not only are its overnight ratings sinking faster than the ship did - it's notable that the Sun's TV Biz editor Colin Robertson used the dreaded 'f' word - 'flop' - the other day. But, according to Radio Times, the tune that the orchestra was heard playing as the ship sank was from a musical written in 1972. As if that's not enough for the nitpicker in all of us, there's actually a website where someone has gone to a lot of trouble to pick Titanic apart like a fly under a microscope: 'Widely touted as the big TV event of the Titanic's centennial year, and written by the prime pen-pusher of the much loved Downton Abbey, we were promised a drama in which the sinking was spread over four hour-long episodes, each one showing a different facet of the crew's lives, from the lowliest crew to the glitterati of the first class. Made for eleven million pounds, and produced by Deep Indigo, ITV Studios, Lookout Point, Mid-Atlantic Films and Sienna Films, the sales spiel informs us that it "is a highly researched [and] detailed portrayal" of the disaster. How could it fail with such an impressive writer at the helm?' Dunno, mate, but it has.

And, finally on the subject of ratings, here's the consolidated figures for the Top Twenty Five shows week ending 1 April 2012:-
1 Britain's Got Talent - ITV Sat - 11.54m
2 The Voice - BBC1 Sat - 9.93m
3 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 9.36m
4 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 8.64m
5 Silent Witness - BBC1 Sun - 7.93m
6 The Apprentice - BBC1 Wed - 7.51m
7 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 7.13m*
8 Antiques Roadshow - BBc1 Sun - 7.02m
9 Scott & Bailey - ITV Mon - 6.67m
10 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 6.57m
11 Benidorm - ITV Fri - 6.48m
12 The Syndicate - BBC1 Tues - 5.87m
13 Titanic - ITV Sun - 5.78m
14 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 5.66m
15= Panorama Special: The Honeymoon Murders - BBC1 Thurs - 5.04m
15= Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Tues - 5.04m
17 Waterloo Road - BBC1 Wed - 4.97m
18 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 4.69m
19 Take Me Out - ITV Sat - 4.58m*
20 Big Fat Gypsy Weddings - BBc1 Tues - 4.55m
21 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 4.52m
22 Match of the Day - BBC1 Sat - 4.30m
23 The ONE Show - BBC1 Mon - 4.22m
24 The National Lottery: In It To Win It - BBC1 Sat - 4.18m
25 New Tricks - BBC1 Fri - 4.16m
ITV shows with an asterisk do not include ITV HD figures, which are unavailable. BBC2's highest rated shows were: Match of the Day (2.73m), The Apprentice - You're Fired! (2.69m) and The Hairy Bikers Bake-Athon (2.52m), all including BBC HD. Channel Five's best performer was the debut episode of Once Upon A Time (2.66m) which narrowly beat Channel Four's Homeland (2.53m) as the highest rated import of the week.

Britain's Got Talent star Ashleigh Butler has said that she 'feared tarnishing the reputation of dog acts for good' with her furry companion Pudsey. The duo impressed the panel on this weekend's episode with a Flintstones-themed routine, which involved Pudsey standing up on his hind legs and 'dancing' with the teenager. Yes, dear blog, this is what Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads believes the public want.
Speaking to the Digital Spy website, Butler said that she felt 'extra pressure' to impress given Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's 'well-established love' of dog acts. 'I've been watching Britain's Got Talent since the first series and there have been some amazing dancing dogs on there,' Butler claimed. 'I've just been thinking "How can me and Pudsey be different from that and [do] stuff that's not really been done by a dog before?" Everyone knows that Simon likes a good dog act and even though that's a good thing, it could also mean if he doesn't like us, we could be letting down the dog side of Britain's Got Talent.'

The League Of Gentlemen performers Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith have said that they expect the group to 'reconvene' at some stage in the near future. The comedians clarified that they never 'split up' after their BBC comedy series came to an end in 2002 (followed by a movie spin-off in 2005), adding that they would happily join with fourth member Jeremy Dyson for a new project. 'We're all friends of course,' Pemberton told Radio Times. 'But The League of Gentlemen does seem a long time ago now.' Gatiss added: 'Just as ABBA never split up, we just stopped doing it. We've always talked about doing something else.' 'I genuinely think the time will come, and not years and years away, when we will reconvene,' Shearsmith said. 'It probably wouldn't be Royston Vasey but it will be something.' The trio noted that they have already staged a reunion of sorts in Psychoville, which Shearsmith and Pemberton created, and in Horrible Histories. On the CBBC programme, Pemberton mused: 'People say it's a Monty Python for kids and I can really see that. Being playful and daft is a great way to work and great to watch. We never did a lot of historical sketches, but doing sketches was how we started, so you can see how we fit into this world.' Shearsmith continued: 'It would have been good for Mark and me to have done it, but to have Steve as well is great.'

The cobbled streets of yer actual Coronation Street are a world away from Hollywood. And, if we didn't already know that, dear blog reader, then two examples of life on the Street go some way towards proving it, according to the Daily Mirra. First, actor Sue Clever, who plays Eileen Grimshaw, took an accidental smack in the mush while filming a fight scene recently. Clever fell to the floor and required a doctor, reports the Mirra. If that wasn't bad enough, it has also emerged this week that Coronation Street has suffered its fair share of real-life crime amid the on-screen soapy-tit-wank antics. In the past ten years, the Mirra claim, police have been called to the drama's ITV Studios in Manchester seventy one times for offences ranging from assault to criminal damage. Perhaps we should all settle for the Woolpack instead of a pint in the Rovers. Less bovver.

Jennifer Saunders is said to be filming 'a two-part documentary about horses' for ITV. The fifty three-year-old – who has ridden since she was a child, according to the Horse & Hounds – has been 'training daily' and is aiming for a slot at the Badminton horse trials next month. Her series Jennifer Saunders In The Saddle is due to be broadcast in August and will also include British Olympic hopefuls including Piggy French and Lauren Shannon. And, that's almost certainly the first time that the Horse & Hounds has been referenced on this blog. And, probably the last, as well. Jennifer has already visited the horse trials at Gatcombe, where she walked the course with the Princess Royal and observed some advanced dressage tests. Sounds utterly ghastly. Albeit, still about a million times better than any of the unscripted formats that her husband, Ade Edmondson, has been involved in of late.

The BBC has confirmed that the Sunday omnibus edition of EastEnders will no longer be broadcast on Sunday afternoons. The official website for the soap said that it will now be shown in a new late-night slot on Friday nights. The EastEnders weekend repeat had traditionally been on a Sunday afternoon but over the past year has been shunted between BBC1 and BBC2. Last month it was announced executive producer Byran Kikrwood would be leaving following two years in the role. Series producer Lorraine Newman is to take over on an acting basis.

A special festival to mark the tenth anniversary of the death of The Clash frontman yer actual Joe Strummer is to be held this August. Strummer of Love will feature a line-up made up of friends and acquaintances of the singer. It will be held at a secret Somerset location, only to be revealed to ticket holders. Proceeds from the festival will go to Strummerville, a charity which supports aspiring musicians set up in the singer's memory. 'We felt there was only one way to mark Joe's anniversary and that was around a campfire in the fields at a festival, his favourite place to be,' said Strummerville's Lucinda Garland. 'We have been truly honoured with so many brilliant bands coming out to play at this tribute and what promises to be a great benefit for the charity which will help us to continue our work.' The festival's line-up will be announced next week, with tickets going on sale this Wednesday. Promoters said the event would handle its own sales 'in the spirit of the DIY ethos that Joe Strummer stood for.' The festival will run from 17 to 19 August, concluding shortly before what would have been his sixtieth birthday. Strummer died in December 2002 at the age of fifty.
The Information Commissioner's Office has said it 'strongly condemns' the partial publication by the Guido Fawkes Order Order blog of its Operation Motorman files on alleged breaches of the Data Protection Act by journalists. The blogger, Paul Staines, who runs the website, on Monday night published details of more than one thousand alleged requests by News International journalists to the private investigator Steve Whittamore for information including ex-directory telephone numbers, criminal record checks and vehicle registration details. Fawkes published details from the so-called 'blue book' of News International information requests to Whittamore, including a number that appear to be prima facie breaches of the Data Protection Act, along with many more which appear to be entirely lawful. Journalists have legal protection from the act if the story published is 'in the public interest.' Of course, as recent events have proved what is 'in the public interest' and what isn't, and who gets to decide which is which, are other matters entirely. The ICO said that the disclosure was a 'serious violation of many people's privacy' which may - itself - be a breach of data protection laws. The ICO has resisted pressure to publish the detail behind the 2003 Operation Motorman investigation in a bid to protect the identity of the thousands of people allegedly targeted by journalists from national newspapers and magazines. Some of those targeted were named in the files uploaded on Monday. 'We strongly condemn the irresponsible publication of material from the Motorman files. Putting these into the public domain in this way is a serious violation of many people's privacy and raises more questions than it answers,' the ICO said in a statement. 'People who are concerned that their personal data may have been included in the Motorman files are able to contact the ICO via our website to make a "fast-tracked" Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act. The issue of publication is being considered by the Leveson inquiry and it's most unfortunate that Guido Fawkes has chosen to jump the gun. The ICO will now consider what further steps it should take in the face of this apparent breach of the DPA.' The information commissioner, Christopher Graham, told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme on Tuesday that he was 'really very angry' about the disclosure. Blimey, an angry civil servant. Quick, somebody get a camera, that's gotta be a sight to see. 'It's deeply irresponsible and its deeply unfair,' Graham said. 'This is absolutely what we were trying to avoid.' The Hacked Off campaign said that Lord Justice Leveson should publish 'promptly' the full evidence gathered during the Operation Motorman investigation. In a blogpost, Staines described the files as 'Britain's biggest establishment cover-up.' He wrote: 'This isn't a crime thriller storyline. Operation Motorman uncovered industrial scale criminality and hundreds of suspects' names. Currently in Britain the newspapers are neither naming nor shaming because the criminal enterprises are the newspapers themselves, who understandably do not wish to report their own crimes. Their silence is a matter of self-preservation.' Staines could be summoned back to explain to the Leveson inquiry why he published the material, in defiance of the courts and the ICO. Leveson could refer the matter to the high court under section thirty six of the Inquiries and General Naughtiness Act if it is thought to be in breach of a court order and really especially naughty indeed. This is the second time Staines has published sensitive material online without the authorisation from the inquiry. The blogger was summoned in November after he published a version of evidence by Alastair Campbell, the former Downing Street communications director, days before it was due to be heard in public. A summary of requests by national newspapers, magazines and broadcasters to Whittamore was published by the ICO in 2006 in two reports, What Price Privacy? and What Price Privacy Now? The latter detailed how, for instance, the Daily Scum Mail, the People, the Daily Mirra and the Scum Mail on Sunday had the greatest number of transactions with the private investigator, in a list that featured most national newspapers, including the Observer, the Daily Scum Express, The Times and The Sunday Times, as well as magazines such as Best and Closer. The Leveson inquiry has heard detailed evidence from a number of officials involved in the reports, including Alec Owens - the former lead investigator on Operation Motorman - and Richard Thomas, the information commissioner at the time. The Gruniad Morning Star published details of News International journalists' alleged use of Whittamore based on information from the Motorman investigation in a story by Nick Davies in July 2009. Davies wrote about the contents of the Motorman files in greater detail, including requests to Whittamore made by other newspaper groups, in August 2009. ITV News has also obtained the ICO Motorman files. In a special report last month, the broadcaster alleged that the Daily Scum Mail spent over one hundred and forty three thousand smackers on seventeen hundred and twenty eight requests for information from Whittamore, more than any other title. Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Scum Mail, said it banned the use of 'inquiry agents' in 2007 and that any breach of the Data Protection Act was 'a sackable offence.' The Independent on Sunday published a story based on the contents of the 'blue book' in September 2010, and its sister title the Independent was apparently shown the Operation Motorman files in September 2011. Each of the core participants to the Leveson inquiry - including many newspapers - have confidential access to the Operation Motorman files. Graham, told the inquiry that he had invited the publishers of all national newspapers to view the Operation Motorman material in 2009.

Britain's former head of counter-terrorism says he believes his personal data was leaked from within Virgin airlines, in a potential breach of national security. Champagne John Yates told the Gruniad that details about his flights and airmiles, which formed the basis of a Scum Mail on Sunday article in September 2010, were 'highly likely' to have involved leaks from within the airline. A spokesman for the Scum Mail on Sunday said: 'The Mail on Sunday stands by its story which revealed how John Yates, then assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police, used business airmiles for his family, contrary to the Metropolitan police's regulations. This was confirmed at the time by the Metropolitan police's press spokesman. No part of the story published by the Mail on Sunday was based on information from Virgin Atlantic. It came from police sources and was both accurate and in the public interest.'

A second psychiatric evaluation of the Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik has found him sane enough to face trial and a jail term. The findings contradict a previous evaluation, published in November, that declared him 'legally insane.' Breivik is due to stand trial this week over his dreadful shooting spree last July, in which he admits to killing seventy seven people. The question of his sanity decides whether he will be sent to a psychiatric ward or jail. 'The main conclusion of the experts is that Anders Behring Breivik is found to be not psychotic during the time of his actions on July 22, 2011,' the Oslo court said in a statement on Tuesday. 'That means that he is considered criminally responsible at the time of the crime.' The second evaluation was approved by a court in January following widespread criticism of last year's assessment that diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic. Many critics had questioned whether such a well-planned attack could possibly have been carried out by someone suffering from any sort of mental illness. Breivik has himself insisted that he is mentally stable, and last week blasted the first psychiatric assessment as 'lies', saying eighty per cent of it was wrong. In a letter to Norwegian tabloid Verdans Gang, he said that being sent to a psychiatric ward would be 'a fate worse than death. To send a political activist to an asylum is more sadistic and more evil than killing him' he wrote. The thirty three-year-old has confessed to killing seventy seven people and injuring one hundred and fifty one in twin attacks on 22 July last year, but he does not accept the charge of 'committing acts of terror.' He says that the car bombing in Oslo and a shooting spree at a summer camp for young Labour Party activists on the lake island of Utoeya was part of a 'crusade' against multi-culturalism and Islam. Many of his surviving victims also believe that he is sane, and that the only proper punishment would be a prison sentence. News of the latest evaluation come just six days before Breivik's ten-week trial is due to start. The findings of both psychiatric reports - as well as witness statements - will be taken into account by the court when deciding whether Breivik will be detained in psychiatric care or in jail.

Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez has received a call from referees' chief Mike Riley to apologise for mistakes made by officials during Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Moscow Chelski FC. Both of the home side's goals at Torpedo Stamford Bridge appeared to be offside. And, not just a little bit either. After the game Martinez branded some of the officiating 'disgusting', but has since praised Riley's actions in contacting the club. 'It is a very honourable way to face mistakes,' Martinez said. A former top-flight referee - and not a very good one, either - Riley now heads Professional Game Match Officials Limited, an organisation which provides officials for the Premier League, as well as co-ordinating assessments of referees' performances.
'Mike Riley told me that he understands that with the level of refereeing in this league [officials] should get those calls right,' the Spaniard revealed. 'We were unfortunate at the weekend and we've had a few bad calls over the season. There are many other clubs that have had them as well. It's important that we don't feel too aggrieved; that's part of the game and we need to accept it. In many ways the luck is going to level out. This is why the game is such a controversial subject between all of us, because good and bad calls are part of the game.' Wigan are currently nineteenth in the Premier League, but are level on points with Blackburn Vindaloos and Queens Park Strangers and are only in the relegation zone on goal difference. The Latics picked up eight points in March and Martinez is keen for the recent improved form to continue in the run-in. 'I don't want to keep talking about those [refereeing errors],' he said. 'They stopped a positive result for us but it was the performance that allowed us to be in the position where we could get a positive result. We have a group that is used to facing adversity and a group that will maintain their level to the end of the season.'

Meanwhile, a former top-level - but rubbish - British referee has criticised modern officials following a string of controversial decisions in the Premier League over Easter weekend. Ex-World Cup referee Clive The Whistle Thomas said: 'I've lost faith in referees. I think refs are missing things.' But Phil Dorward, of Premier League and Professional Game Match Officials, believes that standards are rising. 'Clive is entitled to his opinion but the facts point in the opposite direction,' he said. Queens Park Strangers manager Mark Hughes along with Wigan boss Roberto Martinez both spoke out after key incidents went against their sides in the battle to avoid relegation. Both, curiously, in gamers against teams in the top six. Odd that. 'You should have confidence that referees will get key decisions right,' said Hughes after the final whistle of their game against The Scum. 'Just lately a lot of managers have lost faith in them.' Welshman Thomas, refereed at the 1974 and 1978 World Cups - badly - and the 1976 European Championships - spectacularly badly. He believes that Hughes is 'one hundred per cent right' to question referees' abilities following the dismissal of Shaun Derry during Rangers' 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford. Thomas said: 'We haven't got our act together at all. I don't see that the referees of today are even in the right positions to give right decisions. That concerns me. Referees today are concerned, it seems, far more about what the assessors think of them, and are not thinking how to referee a game. It never worried me what the assessors would say.' Or, indeed, what the fans would say when this odious clown strutted around the pitch like he owned the place. Sheikh Yer Man City striker Mario Balotelli was sent for two bookable offences in the defeat by The Arse on Sunday, but much post-match coverage focused on Balotelli's outrageous challenge on Alex Song which went unpunished. Thomas said: 'That tackle was a disgrace. The studs were up and went on the player's leg. He should have been sent off then but he wasn't. The referee was right there. If he didn't see it, why didn't he see it? That would be my concern if I was the referee. I was far better than modern refs. British referees were better than they are today.' Oh, did I happen to mention that Thomas was also a pompous individual with a towering opinion of himself that wasn't shared by many others? Dorward added: 'As he [Thomas] should know all too well, sometimes officials make human errors but the truth is that standards in officiating have never been higher. The Match Delegates report - compiled by former players and managers and which the clubs provide feedback on after every Premier League match - show that referees get over ninety two per cent of major decisions right. Data from ProZone additionally shows that assistant referees have got over ninety nine per cent of offside decisions right this season. The fact that we are one of only three countries in world football to have three elite referees suggests that English officiating is of a very high standard.' Thomas officiated at the 1974 World Cup in West Germany and the 1978 tournament in Argentina four years later. He had a reputation as a disciplinarian and is widely remembered for disallowing a Zico headed goal for Brazil in a 1978 World Cup group game against Sweden by blowing for full-time while a corner ball was still in mid-air. At the 1976 Euros in Yugoslavia, Thomas oversaw an upset when the 'Total Football' generation of The Netherlands, spearheaded by Johan Cruyff, was defeated at the semi-final stage by Czechoslovakia. In that match in Zagreb, Thomas sent off three players and threatened to abandon the fixture as the game descended into acrimony in extra-time. And don't even get Everton fans started on why he disallowed a - seemingly perfectly legitimate - Bryan Hamilton 'goal' that would've been the winner in a 1977 FA Cup semi-final between The Blues and Liverpool otherwise we'll be here all night.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. Oh look, it's Wings again.

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