Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Real Gone Kid

The season two opener for the cult favourite Game of Thrones attracted more than half-a-million overnight punters viewers on Sky Atlantic on Monday night, according to overnight data. The US import - full of excellent actors and a completely impenetrable plot - averaged an impressive five hundred and two thousand thousand punters from 9pm. Though it was down on the season one premiere, it performed significantly better than, for instance, Mad Men's season five launch last week. Significantly better. Elsewhere on the multichannels, loathsome, odious Made in Chelsea returned to five hundred and sixty thousand desperate crushed victims of society in the 10pm hour, and Grimm continued on Watch with three hundred and forty four thousand viewers. On terrestrial telly, the second part of BBC1's Silent Witness season opener had a slightly below average 5.32m in the 9pm hour, although it won the timeslot with room to spare. ITV's Scott & Bailey was hit by competition with the long-running BBC crime drama, getting 4.41m, two million down on its audience week on week. Although it did pull in an additional five hundred and forty six thousand viewers on timeshift. Earlier, The Dales was watched by 3.5m in-between two episodes of Coronation Street.

'Women get more and more interesting the older they get,' according to Sally Wainwright, the writer responsible for television's most interesting trio of women currently on screen. 'I certainly enjoy writing women more than men because of all those things we know about – like we have to work twice as hard to get to the same place.' Currently putting in the extra hours on ITV are Janet Scott and Rachel Bailey – the British Cagney and Lacey – who, along with their boss Gill Murray, are trying to bring down the murder rate in an unglamorous part of Manchester. Turned down by the BBC and initially also ITV, Scott & Bailey has established itself as a ratings hit (well, until last night, anyway), particularly with women. 'I write for women my age,' says Wainwright, who is in her late forties. 'I'm fed up with there being nothing on television I want to watch. I think, partly, I write things for me to watch because nobody else is.' Seven million viewers (or, this week, five million) clearly feel the same way – tuning into the second series of a show that balances murder mystery with a take on women's working relationships, friendships and home lives. 'I was quite surprised that there was a woman being portrayed on screen who was really great at her job but also had a complicated family life – often you get one or the other,' says Lesley Sharp, who plays Janet Scott. 'That's something I know well, and my friends do too – it's a constant pull between home and family life, and sometimes you feel like you're getting everything wrong. But I don't think that's portrayed in a complex or appealing way very often, despite being common to a lot of women.' The show was originally conceived by two former Coronation Street actresses Sally Lindsay and Suranne Jones, who plays Rachel Bailey, in response to the scripts they were being sent. 'There were lots of mothers, wives, mistresses – good roles, but a bit samey,' says Jones. Well, except for the Neil Gaiman one that had her as a living embodiment of the TARDIS, of course. That was a bit different. Instead the two came up with a police partnership where we were able to glimpse both their work and private lives. Female friendship sits at the heart of the drama, both between Scott and Murray, friends for twenty years who have forged their careers together, and Scott and Bailey who unusually, in terms of TV drama at least, are friends with an age gap of more than a decade. 'That's an experience that a lot of women have but it's rarely portrayed on screen,' says Sharp. Perhaps most striking, however, is that female friendship is shown as most of us experience it: supportive, fun, without backstabbing or bitchiness. 'It's a very positive message of women at work – which is often portrayed as women wanting to undermine each other,' says Sharp. 'Friends say that it's brilliant seeing women behave in a way I'm used to, rather than trying to flirt and outgun each other.' Wainwright is clear, however, that her script doesn't represent an attempt to address the way in which women are portrayed on TV – the fact that the central trio of the series are women is incidental and goes unremarked on screen; they don't have to fight institutional sexism every day, or prove their worth to male colleagues, for instance. Wainwright's most recent project is Last Tango in Halifax, a six-part drama for BBC1 about four women – two in their forties, and two in their seventies – which, combined with the success of Scott & Bailey and the BBC's Call the Midwife, suggests that female-dominated dramas are having a moment. But not, perhaps, across the board. Wainwright is finding the going tough, when it comes to younger women as leads, with two ideas intended for early-Saturday-evening viewing – a young highwaywoman and a female Robin Hood – not making it to screen. 'My anxiety about that is that people think viewers don't want to see young women in that slot,' says Wainwright. 'My worry is that they think that boys won't want to see that, and girls only want to see sexy blokes. And as a fourteen-year-old, that definitely wouldn't have been true for me.'

Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss has expressed surprise (not to mention disagreement) at ignorant half-arsed 'speculation' that the show's unaired pilot was deemed a 'disaster' by the BBC. Gatiss explained that the hour-long episode was only scrapped because the BBC chose to go with a ninety-minute series rather than an hour format. Speaking on the BBC4 series Mark Lawson Talks To, Gatiss said that he and Steven Moffat chose to put the original recording on Sherlock's series one DVD to end the 'potentially damaging' rumours which seemed to have their origins in a couple of typically inaccurate scum tabloid reports from shortly before the series debuted in July 2010. 'The pilot was very good,' Gatiss said. 'We would have been very happy [to air it]. We knew we couldn't just bolt on another half hour, so Steve rewrote it and we remade it with a different director. Because of an internal decision to make it in another format, this gossip got out. I remember thinking, "If we don't show people that it wasn't a disaster, this will live with us forever." The argument is that you preserve the final version, sacrosanct, but I thought that was an insult to the original director and the production. The second one is more stylish, but it's a different beast.'

The BBC has announced that twenty four high-definition live Olympic streams will be available to satellite and cable providers for the duration of this summer's Games. The corporation had initially said it would only offer the service online, but now millions of television viewers will be able to watch every sport from every venue via Sky or the BBC's red button service. It will be the first-time viewers have been able to follow one particular event throughout the day. Combined with the live coverage of selected events on BBC1, BBC3 and other platforms including Radio 5Live, the BBC expects to deliver around two thousand five hundred hours of live sport during the Games. Roger Mosey, the BBC's director of London 2012, said: 'These are the first truly digital Olympics, where we'll offer more choice than ever before. You'll be able to watch sport from every venue from first thing in the morning to last thing at night. Hockey fans can watch live uninterrupted hockey, and table tennis fans can stick all day with their sport too. This represents four times more channels than in Beijing.' Sky will add the twenty four channels free of charge for its ten million subscribers, while the five million subscribers with Sky+HD boxes will be able to watch the high-definition footage. More announcements from other providers are expected soon.

David Tennant and Janet Montgomery have been cast in a previously announced adaptation of The Spies of Warsaw. The Doctor Who and Human Target stars will appear in two ninety-minute instalments of Alan Furst's novel to be broadcast on BBC4 and Poland's TVP. Tennant is set to portray Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier, a decorated war hero who begins an affair with Montgomery's Parisian lawyer Anna in the run-up to World War Two. The Spies of Warsaw, which takes place in London, Paris, Berlin and Poland, is written by The Likely Lads, Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet authors Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. BBC4 controller Richard Klein said: 'Spies of Warsaw is Alan Furst at his best - a tense, passionate and sexy love story set against the increasingly strident clang of coming war. I think David Tennant playing Mercier and Janet Montgomery as Anna is such an exciting way to explore Furst's hugely convincing central characters, and I am delighted that Ian and Dick have produced such an enthralling script. Spies of Warsaw is an entertaining, thrilling and insightful drama with a very different take on the Second World War, seen through the eyes of characters who know from the start that they and their fellow countrymen will face the brunt of the horrors to come: this is top class drama, and perfect for BBC4.' Richard Fell, head of drama at Fresh Pictures - who are producing with Apple Film - added: 'We are thrilled and delighted that David and Janet are going to be in Spies of Warsaw. They are both actors of such great range and quality they will light up the screen as the star-crossed lovers. As Europe is dragged into the nightmare that will be the Second World War, their illicit love affair gets ever more complicated, and the chemistry between these two extraordinary actors becomes irresistible.' Filming is scheduled to begin next month in Poland.

Don Draper spent part of this week's episode of Mad Men on a mission to track down The Rolling Stones in order to try and persuade the rockers to sing 'Heinz is on my side' to the tune of their Stateside hit 'Time Is On My Side.' Unfortunately, it was 1967 and Mick and Keef were, currently, being detained at her Majesty's pleasure. Tragic, that. 'They did one for cereal in England three years ago' the advertising exec claims to his surprised colleagues. The writers of the episode had, clearly, done their research. The Stones did, indeed, record several 'snap, crackle and pop' jingles for Rice Krispies in 1964, including one in which the future Sir Mick Big Lips suggested that purchasers should 'Pour on the milk-a-licious to the crackle of that rice.' Hell, it was the 1960s, it was a different world back then. The Stones - and their management - had spotted the financial potential of linking their music to advertising early and repeated the trick when they loaned 'Start Me Up' to soundtrack the launch of Windows 95 and made many many millions from Bill Gates's bottomless pockets into the process. The Stones' Kellogg's commercial, a Jukebox Jury parody, has since become something of a cult YouTube hit.

Charlie Sheen and his father, former President Martin Sheen, are to team up on screen for the third time, it has been announced. The younger Sheen told US website Access Hollywood that his father had been cast as his on-screen father in his new TV show Anger Management. 'We're going to find out this guy does have major issues with his pop and when that character does finally show up, it will be my dad,' he said. The actors appeared together in Wall Street and Hot Shots! Part Deux. The new series marks Sheen's return to TV after he was tin-tacked from his previous role in Two and a Half Men and replaced by Ashton Kutcher. He was fired after insulting producer and co-creator Chuck Lorre in several interviews. The actor filed a lawsuit over the dismissal, which was later settled out of court. Addressing his absence from TV, Sheen thanked fans for waiting for his return. 'I want to thank them for being patient and waiting a whole year. But they won't be disappointed. We will not let them down.' In Sheen's new show, which premieres on FX in June, the star plays an ex-baseball player who had anger issues during his career, which led him to become a therapist. 'It's such a multi-dimensional character to play,' he said.
James Murdoch has resigned his role as chairman of UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB, but will remain on the board. His father, Rupert, founded its parent company News Corporation, which had to drop its bid for BSkyB amid last summer's phone-hacking scandal. James Murdoch said in a statement that he did want want BSkyB to be undermined by 'matters outside this company.' Anonymous 'sources' allegedly told Robert Peston, the BBC's business editor, that it was Murdoch's own decision to leave. One or two people even believed him. Murdoch said on Tuesday: 'As attention continues to be paid to past events at News International, I am determined that the interests of BSkyB should not be undermined by matters outside the scope of this company. I am aware that my role as chairman could become a lightning rod for BSkyB and I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organisation.' In February, James Murdoch stepped down as chairman of News International, publisher of the Scum of the World. The Sunday title was shut down in disgrace and ignominy last July amid a storm of allegations of widespread wrongdoing and general naughtiness, including the hacking of the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and various relatives of crime victims. Murdoch said then that he had moved to New York to work on News Corp's pay-TV businesses around the world. Murdoch is reported to have been 'braced for serious criticism' of his stewardship of News International by the Commons Culture Media and Sport select committee. However, he adds that his resignation has 'not been prompted' by 'any advance knowledge' of the report into hacking being written by the committee. There is also a review being conducted by Ofcom, the media regulator, about whether British Sky Broadcasting is fit and proper to continue holding a broadcasting licence. News Corp owns just over thirty nine per cent of BSkyB and had wanted to buy the whole of the firm. James Murdoch, who is deputy chief operating officer at News Corp, has repeatedly denied knowing about any phone-hacking at the Scum of the World. Other former employees claim he was told about the practice. He said in a letter to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport Committee last month that he accepted his 'share of the blame' for not uncovering phone-hacking at the Scum of the World sooner but denied he had turned a 'blind eye' to allegations of criminal wrongdoing. A representative of the Hacked Off campaign group, which helps victims of phone hacking, said the change in role did not get those affected nearer to the truth about what happened. 'It's quite clear that this is, as befits a news family, a form of news management,' said Evan Harris, a former Liberal Democrat MP and member of the group. 'But I repeat what the victims that Hacked Off seeks to represent want, is the full story to come out and not just people leaving a small fraction of their income behind as they go on to other parts of the business,' he told BBC News. Nicholas Ferguson, who has been with the company since 2004, will take over as chairman of BSkyB.

Meanwhile, the former crime editor of the Scum of the World has denied that the newspaper used champagne to get 'inside information' about a terrorist plot from former Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Champagne John Yates. Lucy Pants, who worked at the disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid until its closure in shame and disgrace last July, claimed that an e-mail sent from her newsdesk colleague James Mellor suggesting that she should 'call in all those bottles of champagne' allegedly given to Yates was 'just banter.' Sounds completely reasonable. 'I would call that banter. It's a way that people spoke to each other in our office,' she claimed. 'I think they hoped that we would be able to ring these people up and bring in exclusives every week. The reality is they know that doesn't happen, unfortunately, otherwise we would have had bigger and better crime stories than we did. My recollection of this is that I did phone Mr Yates, and I don't believe I actually got to speak to him. That was the reality, week in, week out.' The inquiry has also previously heard that former Met assistant commissioner Andy Hayman spent forty seven smackers on a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne while drinking with a - nameless - female Scum of the World journalist at the Oriel restaurant in Chelsea on 1 February 2007. Ms Pants claimed that she is 'confident' she was not that reporter. The Leveson inquiry heard during Yates' evidence in March that the internal Scum of the World e-mail in October 2010, which 'related' to an aviation bomb plot story, and that it included the line: 'John Yates could be crucial here. Have you spoken to him? Really need an exclusive splash line so time to call in all those bottles of champagne.' Pants told the inquiry: 'He was putting pressure on me to get a story. It was banter mixed with a bit of pressure. There were no bottles of champagne.' Which isn't what Yates' evidence or that of other senior Met officers had suggested. Or anything even remotely like it. In her witness statement, Ms Pants added: 'I have found it rather bizarre that there seems to be such interest in what champagne I did or did not drink. I believe that a distorted picture has been presented of how journalists carry out their business. We do not live a champagne lifestyle and the reality of the day to day grind of journalism is far from glamorous.' She added: 'I am a journalist and therefore my objective is to seek information but not to the detriment of a police operation. I have never met a senior officer who is so ill-informed and naive that he or she gives out information that they were not authorised to divulge. My objective was to have a long term relationship with the police which meant an open and honest relationship with the people I met.' Champagne John Yates, who Pants admittedly was a guest at her wedding to a Scotland Yard detective, had previously told the inquiry he 'may well' have drunk champagne with Ms Pants, but denied that he 'did her any favours' in return. Like sewing a few buttons on or lending her a fiver till pay day, no doubt. Those sort of favours. Pants claimed that Yates was among 'many' police officers at her wedding and that Yates also attended the wedding of another crime reporter, Jeff Edwards, formerly of the Daily Mirra. She described Yates as one of her 'working friends.' The inquiry has heard how the Scum of the World's crime editor attended the arrest of the convicted murderer Levi Bellfield. Pants said she had 'accompanied' the Met on Bellfield's arrest in November 2004. He went on to be convicted of a series of attacks and murders on women, including that of thirteen-year-old Milly Dowler whose phone some of Ms Pants' Scum of the World colleagues allegedly hacked. In her statement, she outlined her reasons for attending Bellfield's arrest. She said: 'I had been invited by the Met to join them after I had picked up from police sources, (in the generic sense) that there was increased activity on the inquiry. I was told nothing about the operation, but asked not to publish any information we had. On the day of his arrest, I was allowed along with a photographer to witness it.' Pants was also asked about being allowed by Metropolitan police communications chief Dick Fiasco to use his office computer and personal email account to file a story about controversial former police commander Ali Dizaei, who was jailed for corruption in 2010. She told the inquiry: 'On this occasion, journalist instinct took over and I did what it took to get the newsdesk off my back.' She added: 'I don't think the News of the World was in a special position with the police.' On the newsroom culture at the Scum of the world, Pants added: 'I don't feel I was bullied by the editors. We were all put under a lot of pressure. You were expected as a specialist to bring in exclusive stories in your field. It's part of the job.' She claimed that she was 'disappointed' to hear from crime reporter colleagues that 'the lines of communication have closed' with the police recently. She added: 'It makes me very sad to hear that. I loved my job and I thought we played an important role. I would hate to see crime reporting over and police feeling they can't have professional relationships with journalists.' Pants was arrested in December on suspicion of making corrupt payments to police officers, as part of Operation Elveden. She is currently on police bail.

Hollywood star Robert Redford is to produce a documentary about Watergate, more than thirty years after appearing in an Oscar-winning film about the US political scandal. The actor played journalist Bob Woodward in the 1976 movie All the President's Men, whose uncovering of the scandal led, eventually, after much faffing about, to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Redford told the New York Times that it was the 'right time to take a look at this moment in history.' The documentary will premiere in 2013. As well as producing All The President's Men Revisited, the seventy five-year-old actor will also act as narrator. The controversy which surrounded the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington in 1972, eventually led to Nixon's resignation two years later. Washington Post reporters Woodward and Carl Bernstein - portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in the movie - played a key role in uncovering the scandal and the subsequent, lengthy, cover-up, which was traced back to a number of high ranking members of the Nixon White House. You know what happened in Watergate, dear blog reader. And, if you don't, get yerself a copy of Fred Emery's definitive book on the subject, Watergate: The Corruption of American Politics and the Fall of Richard Nixon and that'll tell you everything you'll ever need to know on the subject. The 1976 film won four Oscars including one for screenwriter William Goldman. The new documentary has been commissioned by the Discovery Channel and will explore the effect the scandal has had on US politics and the media in the four decades since. 'To be able to pull the fabricated and the real together, for the first time, is kind of a juicy opportunity for us,' Eileen O'Neill, the president of Discovery, said. Speaking to BBC News last week, Redford said that he believed documentaries have replaced newspapers as the media's main source of investigative journalism. The actor said he thought papers were in 'steep decline' and documentaries have become 'a better form of truth.'

This week marks a significant milestone in the UK's television history as the Crystal Palace transmitter group serving London begins the end of the analogue era. This is a major step towards completion of a project which has dealt with fire, endangered wildlife and disgruntled neighbours to take Britain into the digital age. At midnight on 4 April the two hundred and nineteen-feet high Crystal Place transmitter - serving almost five million households in the capital and the surrounding counties - will officially start the switchover process. Analogue BBC2 will be the first to disappear forever, followed by the remaining analogue public service channels on 18 April, with digital terrestrial television - or Freeview signals - boosted in their place. Among Crystal Palace's fifty two relay stations, forty nine will get Freeview for the first time following the switch. To mark the completion of the switchover on 18 April, transmission firm Arqiva intends to illuminate the tower with two hundred thousand watts of lighting, sending brightly coloured beams firing out across the capital. Constructed in the 1950s on the old site of the Crystal Palace building at Sydenham Hill, the station carries all six DTT multiplexes on which multiple channels are delivered over the same frequencies. Peter Heslop, the digital switchover director at Arqiva, said that the process is all about 'increasing choice' for consumers, bringing hundreds of TV and radio channels instead of just five analogue networks, but also safeguarding the UK for the next wave of TV evolution. With a budget of six hundred and thirty million smackers, the digital switchover is the largest capital programme in UK TV history, and the fruits of eight years labour for the BBC and Arqiva. But it is easy to underestimate the significance of the switchover, particularly due to the fact that more than ninety three per cent of the UK already takes a digital TV service from either Freeview, cable, satellite or IPTV, according to figures from Ofcom. There is still thought to be more than one million TV sets still connected to analogue TV signals in the UK, although many of those are most likely 'second sets', used in a room other than the main living room where analogue is still available. As of last month, nine hundred and forty stations have switched to digital, covering eleven out of the fifteen UK regions and sixty three per cent of the population. Due to its size, Crystal Palace will add a further eighteen per cent of coverage pretty much overnight. By the end of the switchover in October, 98.5 per cent of the British population will be able to access Freeview. The first transmitter switched back in 2009, and should everything go to plan up to the Northern Ireland switch on 24 October, thus ending the analogue TV era, the DSO will have been one hundred per cent on time across the board - something pretty much unheard of in major engineering projects. This is also in spite of the complexity of the DSO. Due to the nature of the UK's TV infrastructure, it was not possible to take the route of the US and other countries involving a single-night switchover right across the nation. Instead, different UK regions had to switch in phases - from the small Scottish islands to the monster Granada TV region serving more than 7.2 million viewers. Along the way, Arqiva has faced various challenges as it worked to either upgrade, repair or completely rebuild transmitter stations and their relays to beam hundreds of digital networks. Consumers may have only needed to retune their set-top boxes following the switch, but for Arqiva going digital meant a mammoth task - not least because all sites were 'live', delivering TV pictures that could not be interrupted during the work. Another challenge facing the company was the weather, as dealing with towers such as the nine hundred feet feet high mast at Selkirk meant perilous work. Helicopter cranes were used to fit new main and reserve digital antennas, but anything over a twenty mph ground wind-speed meant the choppers were unsafe to use. There were also planning headaches closer to the ground, including a challenge from local residents near the Belmont structure, at that stage credited as 'the tallest TV transmitter in England.' After Arqiva submitted plans to reduce the size of the transmitter, the residents applied to get protected status, presumably concerned about losing the 'cache' of living near the tallest TV mast. Arqiva ultimately managed to fend this off, said Heslop. Wildlife has posed other issues, including the detection of grasshopper warblers nesting at one site causing construction to be postponed, and similar situations with discoveries of the wood calamint plants and the Irish hare. In the case of the Merlin bird, the nesting sites were so closely protected that Arqiva was never told where they were, just that they were 'close', for fear of tipping off egg poachers. But one of the most high profile incidents came when a fire hit the Beckley transmitter near Oxford in 2010 after a new antenna system set ablaze as it first powered up. Uncomfortably for Arqiva, the transmitter happened to be serving the area that was home to Prime Minister and the communications minister Ed Vaizey. Despite the project having, in Heslop's words, the 'unique opportunity to kill people', there has only been one serious health and safety incident to date. Alongside standard definition television, the switchover also ushered in high definition in 2009 with the world-first adoption of the DVB-T2 technical standard, enabling Freeview HD. This summer, the UK's digital terrestrial platform will take the next step in its evolution with the introduction of YouView, the BBC and Arqiva-backed project producing set-top boxes offering video on-demand and internet services as well as the Freeview channels. As well as bringing benefits to television viewers, the switchover will also boost mobile users as Ofcom intends to auction off the released eight hundred Mhz spectrum to enable operators such as Vodafone and O2 to launch 4G services in the UK. Among Crystal Palace's network of fifty two relay stations is Alexandra Palace, the legendary building which was the site of the UK's first high definition television broadcast by the BBC in 1936 - a feat marked by a blue plaque on the wall of the one hundred and thirty nine year-old building. 'Maybe one day there will be a blue plaque on this building,' said Heslop about the Crystal Palace mast, 'marking what has been done here.'

After making profits of about one billion dollars from their Facebook investment, yer actual Mr Bonio and Mr The Edge of The U2 Group appear to have something of a thirst for web technology and have given their personal backing to the Internet storage service Dropbox. The U2 Group duo were announced as individual investors by Dropbox in a picture posted on Twitter showing the musicians posing with founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi. The service, which is still in its formative stages, has more than fifty million users and was described as 'tech's hottest start up' by Forbes in a cover story last November. The company did not specify how much the musicians had invested in them. 'Dropbox is excited to welcome Mr Bonio and Mr The Edge as investors. Thanks for the support and look forward to great things!' the company tweeted. According to Forbes, revenue is expected to hit two hundred and forty million bucks in 2011 even though ninety six per cent of users only use its free service. Dropbox is a web service which allows users to store documents, photos and video in 'the cloud' with the first two gigasnots free. Heavy users then pay ten dollars a month for up to fifty gigasnots and twenty dollars a month for one hundred gigasnots of storage. Houston told Forbes that even if he didn't sign up a single new customer in 2012 his sales would 'double' because of the growth trajectory in storage usage. The investment by Mr Bonio and Mr The Edge of The U2 Group is the latest in a string of tech investments for The U2 Group. According to TechCrunch, Mr Bonio and Mr The Edge of The U2 Group got to know the Dropbox founders after they developed a music app on Facebook, iLike. They approached The U2 Group to help them with the launch of a new feature which would help them promote videos to fans and ended up with an interview and a previously unreleased song by The U2 Group featuring Mr Bonio and Mr The Edge. And, the other two whom nobody can remember the names of, obviously.

James Bond star Daniel Craig has said that he will continue to play the British spy for as long as he can. The actor - who is reprising the role for a third time in the latest film Skyfall - told the BBC that he would 'keep going until they tell me to stop.' Which, they will eventually, Danny. Ask your predecessors. He admitted there were big expectations for the film to be a success with the Bond franchise celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year. However, he said the production team were 'going to put on a good show.' Craig added although he wanted to leave his mark on the films, he was 'under no illusion' that he would have to eventually give up the 007 role. 'I know there'll be someone after me, and hopefully someone after them - I'm just trying to keep [the series] going.' There has been a four-year gap between the previous film, the slightly disappointing Quantum of Solace, and the new film. Production was temporarily suspended in April 2010 due to uncertainty over film company MGM's future amid financial troubles. But the actor said that work had still been going on behind the scenes. 'e haven't been resting on our laurels, we've been plotting what to do with this film,' he said. 'The first one was a whirr - it was a new experience and flew by - the second one was the tricky second album, but this one we've really planned and got a great script. It's going to be different from the last one, but it will still be a great Bond movie.' Skyfall, which is directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes, also stars Javier Bardem, Albert Finney, Ralph Fiennes and sees Dame Judi Dench return as M. Filming has taken place in Shanghai and Turkey, but the action has now moved to the 007 stage at Pinewood studios. BBC entertainment reporter Lizo Mzimba had exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the set, and watched the 'culmination of a big chase' scene on a set that recreated a London Underground station. Lucky sod, that Lizo, he gets all the cool jobs! 'Quite appropriately for the fiftieth anniversary Bond, a lot of the action is taking place in familiar London landmarks,' he said. Skyfall is due for release in the UK on 26 October. Which is yer actual Keith Telly Topping's birthday, dear blog reader. And, like as not, he'll be spending it in his local Warner Bros. going 'dang-diddle-an-dang-dun-dun-dun-dang-diddle-an-dang.' Like you do.

Former Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws striker John Aldridge claims The Reds are now 'a club in crisis.' Yeah, mate. We'd noticed. The Reds recently picked up their first trophy in six years by beating Cardiff City in the Carling Cup final and they will be back at Wembley to face local rivals Everton in the FA Cup semi-finals a week on Saturday. However, their form in the Premier League has been piss-poor of late. Sunday's 2-0 defeat at the hands of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle was their sixth defeat in seven league games and they have lost eight out of twelve since the turn of the year, leaving them eighth in the table. Which, for a club that has delusions of being one of the top four in England (despite not having finished in such a position since 2008) really isn't very good indeed. 'There is no getting away from the fact that Liverpool are now in a crisis,' said Aldridge, writing in the Liverpool Echo. 'To lose six out of seven in the league is something the club won't ever tolerate, we can't tolerate that.' Nice to see Aldridge carrying over the anger he displayed as a player into his journalism. 'To have picked up just eight points out of thirty six since the turn of the year is shambolic - that's relegation form. The fact that this is the worst run in the league since 1954 speaks volumes. Questions are being asked and they need to be answered. The eyes of the world are on Liverpool and the critics are having a field day. We're becoming a laughing stock. We're all proud to be associated with the club and everything it has achieved over the years. But at the moment being a Liverpool fan is just embarrassing and that's something I haven't had to say before.' Don't you just love the ludicrously overblown nature of Liverpool Football Club's self delusion. 'The eyes of the world are on Liverpool.' No, they're not, mate. You're simply not that important anyway. Faded 1970s giants, just like Derby County or Nottingham Forest. The eyes of the world are on Barcelona, or Madrid. Or, Manchester. Certainly not Liverpool. Aldridge has pointed the fickle finger of blame at the players, whom he has called upon to 'show more pride.' Yeah. You could start by chinning the fourth official, lads. That's what Aldo'd do.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. This one's for James Murdoch. And, possibly, Kenny Dalglish if this story in the Daily Scum Express is to be believed. And, this one in the Daily Scum Mail.

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