Friday, April 20, 2012

She Sent Me Here With Her Regards For Everyone

A working prototype of the sonic screwdriver seen in the BBC television series Doctor Who has, supposedly, been completed. Researchers at Dundee University claim to have made a screwdriver which is able to lift, rotate and turn a rubber disk floating in water through ultrasound waves, reports Radio Times. Just to confirm, by the way, this isn't 1 April, it's the 20 April. Dr Mike MacDonald, from the Institute for Medical Science and Technology at Dundee, explained: 'Like Doctor Who's own device, our sonic screwdriver is capable of much more than just spinning things around. This experiment not only confirms a fundamental physics theory but also demonstrates a new level of control over ultrasound beams.' Though the screwdriver isn't designed to open doors like its counterpart on the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama, the research could be used in medical surgery to move drug capsules to specific locations. Bet it's not as cool as the one Matt Smith uses though!

Doctor Who executive The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) has suggested that the Time Lord's companion is the show's 'main character.' The showrunner told BBC America that the story of the family SF drama is 'always the story of the companion. It was Rose Tyler's story, it's Amy Pond's story - the story of the time they knew The Doctor and how that began, how it developed and how it ended.' He continued: 'The story begins again, not so much with the new Doctor, but with the new companion. The Doctor's the hero, but they're the main character.' Moffat also described the idea of The Doctor travelling alone as 'depressing' and unhealthy. 'I thought about the Doctor travelling on his own and it always faintly depresses me,' he admitted. 'I'm not sure what he does on his own but I don't think it would be healthy. He's far too old and he's seen too much.'

And finally in today's Doctor Who news, John Barrowman has said that it would be 'a shame' if he were not involved in Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary. So, that's John Barrowman angling for a part, then. The actor - who plays Captain Jack Harkness - has previously made clear his desire to be part of the popular family SF drama's celebratory episodes. 'Matt [Smith] and I actually had a conversation at the BBC once, sitting around a table - [we both] thought it would be a great idea,' he told MTV Geek. 'Steven thought it would be a great idea. This is my opinion - I think it would be a shame if Captain Jack wasn't involved in the fiftieth anniversary, because he was such a big presence within the show itself and also within Torchwood.' Barrowman called on Doctor Who fans to campaign for Jack's return in time for the milestone. 'It's not up to me, it's up to the executives, and it's also kind of up to the fans, because if they want it, all they have to do is start writing,' he suggested. '[The fans] have been known to change things.' So, to repeat, that's John Barrowman angling for a part.

The controller of BBC1, Danny Cohen, has admitted the reception to The Voice has been 'a big relief.' Well, I should imagine it is, after the lad spent over twenty million notes on acquiring it. There has been some criticism of the BBC spending licence fee money on a US import, in the style of ITV's X-Factor - from big mouthed Tory bastards and various odious lice in the Daily Scum Mail, mainly, if not anyone that, you know, actually matters a Goddamn inch. Its launch coincided with the return of Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-face Scottish chef off Crossroads' Britain's Got Talent, sparking a ratings war - at ITV's choice not the BBC's, it should be noted. 'I don't think you could do a show on the BBC where people were being laughed at and humiliated,' Cohen told BBC staff. 'The combination of the warmer tone and the fact it's focused on talent rather than that comedy aspect was the reason I thought it had a chance of working on BBC1.' The Voice was a ratings hit in the US, where Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green appear as judges. When it launched in the UK, with Jessie J and Tom Jones among the line-up, it overlapped for twenty minutes with the opening episode of Britain's Got Talent. ITV had the most viewers overall, with a peak audience of 11.5 million. However, an average of 9.5 million viewers watched The Voice across its entire length, compared with 9.1 million for Britain's Got Talent. But in the overlap The Voice was seen by 8.96 million viewers, compared to the 6.56 million watching Britain's Got Talent. Over the following three weeks, The Voice's audience has continued to rise - an average of 10.68m watched the fourth episode last Saturday which, for the second week in a row was greater than the average audience BGT pulled in. Albeit it, not by very much - both formats are still doing very well by any definition of what continues a 'hit' TV show. ITV, however, is now moving Britain's Got Talent to a later slot to avoid the clash - a clear indication that they ow acknowledge their crass efforts to stymie The Voice at birth have, spectacularly, failed.

Meanwhile, Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced chef off Crossroads is, reportedly, 'upset and annoyed' with ITV over its lack of support for Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor, according to the TV mogul's unofficial biographer Tom Bower. Oh dear, how sad, never mind. Bower's book Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced chef off Crossroads has been trailed in the Sun all week - you might have noticed, dear blog reader - and has revealed information about the sour-faced Scottish chef's love life, including an affair with former X Factor co-star Dannii Minogue. The least famous of the Minogue sisters. The writer's latest revelations about Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced chef off Crossroads are based on his relationship with ITV, whom he has worked with on talent shows for over a decade. Bower has alleged that Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced chef off Crossroads is 'annoyed' at ITV for not being more supportive following the news about his private life. 'ITV are shooting themselves in the foot by criticising Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced chef off Crossroads,' said Bower. 'They are risking a self-destructive war by not respecting the man who has saved their channel from bad ratings when they have failed to create other original and attractive programmes. Without Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced chef off Crossroads their ratings would sink. At the same time he is suffering because of the poor programmes that screen before his shows that they're responsible for. Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced chef off Crossroads's view is that he is doing an amazing amount for them. He is relentless and knows the business better than anyone else. He is a perfectionist and they are certainly ungrateful.' Do you want to ram yer tongue up there a bit further, Tom and have a right good lick, eh? Go on, mate, get yer self a gob full of brown, you know you want to. Earlier this week, it was claimed that Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced chef off Crossroads was annoyed at ITV's decision to rehire Gary Barlow as a judge on The X Factor for a second year, while ITV director Peter Fincham apparently prefers not to have Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced chef off Crossroads involved directly in the talent shows.

When it comes to imported dramas on BBC4, viewers have grown used to scanning the translation at the bottom of the screen. But for the channel's latest Scandinavian treat, Nordic viewers also had to watch via subtitles. The Bridge, BBC4's new Saturday-night crime drama, which starts on Saturday, features a pair of Swedish and Danish detectives investigating the discovery of a woman's body exactly halfway across the Oresund bridge, which links their countries. With half the dialogue in Swedish, and half in Danish, the show was subtitled even when broadcast in Scandinavia – and BBC4 viewers convinced that they've got their ear in after being glued to first Wallander, then The Killing and, most recently, Borgen, will be able to put their theory to the test. They might also spot some similarities between the socially awkward female Swedish police officer Saga Norén and a certain jumper-wearing Copenhagen detective – although BBC4's controller, Richard Klein, said viewers should not get stuck on such comparisons. 'There's also a lot of similarities between Taggart and Rebus – that's the nature of crime,' he said. 'One of the central aspects of detective story telling is the slightly outside element of the detective who sees the world in a different way.' Norén is partnered by the laid-back Danish cop Martin Rohde, on the trail of a killer who believes his actions are defensible for social reasons. 'Even though Denmark and Sweden are close, we're quite different and also we have different ways of working,' said The Bridge's Swedish co-producer Anders Landstrom, who sees European co-productions as a pragmatic solution to securing funding for high-quality, original television – despite occasional difficulties with language and working practices. 'What's always happened with this in the past, is that very often people start with the financial perspective, and then the idea isn't very good,' Landstrom said. 'Here we started with an idea and thought it was very strong, so went from there.' For BBC4, the popularity of The Killing, which grew into a hit for the channel when the first series was shown early last year came as something of a surprise. The Duchess of Cornwall is such a fan that Sofie Gråbøl, who stars as Sarah Lund, presented her with one of those jumpers when she visited the set last month. But while the show's popularity was unpredicted, Klein believes its appeal is straightforward. 'It had the same sort of drama values that British audiences are used to: complex characters, a willingness to explain background, and it doesn't feel pat,' he said. 'They're not just crime mysteries and detective series they're quite soapy and they are very willing to go into the detail of the characters' back life. Scott & Bailey on ITV is quite like that.' In fact, so appealing is the idea of The Bridge, that it may even get a UK makeover: the show is being developed for a number of territories, including Britain, by Kudos, the independent production company behind [spooks], Life on Mars and The Hour. There is also likely to be a second series of the Swedish/Danish co-production, which was shown in the two countries last autumn, despite some initial reticence on the Danish side. 'In Sweden, we're quite used to seeing Danish drama like The Killing, which has been very successful,' said Landstrom. 'But Danes are not so used to watching Swedish drama, so they were a bit afraid before we started working together.' The contrasting characters of the prickly Norén and relaxed Rohde were seen by some as shorthand for the way the nations see each other, the producer said. 'Sometimes people think it resembles how Danes and Swedes are – Swedes are [seen as] not so interested in other people, and Swedes think Danes are very laid-back and easy-going characters.' But, Landstrom stressed, that is purely coincidental. 'We started with Saga, she was the character that we invented first, and then wanted someone a little bit opposite.' While The Bridge's Scandinavian heritage is likely to attract the growing audience for Swedish and more particularly Danish drama, BBC4 does not choose shows on that basis, said its controller. 'We're not offering these things as Scandinavian drama, we're saying these are good Saturday-night dramas, it just happens that we're getting a lot of them out of Scandinavia. They've got to be good.' Praise for shows such as Borgen, the outstanding Danish political drama that had fans gripped shouldn't be used as evidence that British television can't compete, said Klein. 'We don't think British drama is failing because these things are so good – it just shows that other countries do good drama.'

The British Heart Foundation will launch a new advertising campaign next week to tie in with Coronation Street's heart attack storyline, it has been announced. Adverts for the charity will be screened during Monday night's double bill of the soap, which sees long-standing character Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls) collapse in pain as her health takes a sudden turn for the worse. Three adverts will be shown in total, but bosses at the organisation are also planning online and social media activity, The Drum reports. Additionally, a licensing agreement with ITV means that images of Audrey can be used in-store. The British Heart Foundation's head of marketing Nick Radmore commented: 'Heart disease is the single biggest killer of women in the UK, but many don't realise this. Working with ITV provides an exciting and innovative opportunity to reach millions of viewers across the UK with a life-saving message. We're hoping that people will be moved by Audrey's story and give our heart nurses a call to chat about their own real-life concerns.' ITV's account sales manager Neil Bonley added: 'ITV's partnership with British Heart Foundation demonstrates how we can innovate around the traditional model of brand building on TV, with a focus on maximising impact through new ways of integration with our programme brands.' Despite the tie-in, ITV has insisted that the charity did not influence the Coronation Street storyline and will not be mentioned in the show's script.

Alan Carr has admitted that he would like to write a sitcom. The Chatty Man host suggested that his own show or a stint on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... would keep him in the 'fickle' world of showbusiness. 'I haven't written anything yet, but it's something I'd like to do because comedy is fickle,' he told the Sun's TV Buzz. 'I feel like I'm flavour of the month at the moment. Of course, I've always got the jungle to fall back on - and Celebrity Come Dine With Me. But if I do write something and am asked, "Will you be in it?" Yeah. I'm hardly going to be the sexy brooding lead, but I wouldn't mind acting.' Carr also addressed Michael Parkinson's recent complaints that modern chat shows are too concerned with being funny. 'I know he's happy selling his insurance and he's got right to moan, but it's a bit undignified,' Carr commented. 'Things have changed now, publicists have so much power. 'If I say to Angelina Jolie, "Have you had Botox? Are those chicken fillets down your top?" I'd get tasered. Besides, I'm not like Piers Morgan's 'Life Sentences' - I don't want crying or anyone telling me where the man touched them. Let's just have a laugh, life's too short.'

The BBC and the London Marathon have announced a deal that will see the annual showpiece event remain on the BBC through to 2018. It's also going to be renamed The London Snickers. Nah, lissun. Which suggests that someone believes the BBC will still exist in 2018. Not the Tories and the odious lice at the Daily Scum Mail have their way, it won't. Under the new agreement, the BBC will continue as the exclusive UK broadcaster of the London Marathon on TV, radio, the Internet, mobile and BBC iPlayer. The marathon has aired on the BBC since it started on 1981, and despite recently losing other sporting events, the corporation has ensured that it retains the rights to the sporting celebration. The deal also comes ahead of live coverage of the 2012 Virgin London Marathon, which starts at 8.30am on 22 April on BBC television, Radio 5Live and online. BBC director sport Barbara Slater, who has had to cope with a fifteen per cent cut in the corporation's budget for sports rights under an efficiency drive, said that the marathon is a key part of BBC Sport's calendar. 'We're delighted to continue our longstanding partnership with the London Marathon,' she said. 'This prestigious race is a hugely important national event and a key part of BBC Sport's calendar. We look forward to bringing the full spectacle live to audiences through to 2018 across the BBC platforms.' Virgin London Marathon joint race director David Bedford added: 'The BBC has been a vital partner of the London Marathon since it started in 1981 and its unrivalled coverage is a key ingredient of the event's success and popularity, not only in Britain but across the world. We are delighted with this new agreement which ensures the event will continue to enjoy the profile it deserves over the coming years.' Sue Barker will present the TV coverage of the London Marathon this Sunday on BBC1 and BBC1 HD, backed up by reporting from Jonathan Edwards, Colin Jackson, Denise Lewis, Phil Jones and Sonali Shah. Digital TV viewers will be able to use The Red Button to select which parts of the race they want to watch, along with choose from a range commentaries. A highlights programme will be broadcast on BBC2 at 5pm and offered on BBC iPlayer.

Bahrain has denied entry to a number of journalists from news organisations including Sky, which holds the UK TV rights to broadcast this weekend's controversial Formula One grand prix from the Gulf state, as the regime attempts to stifle coverage of political protests. Bahrain's authorities have granted permission for journalists who regularly cover Formula One to enter the country but have denied visas to other reporters from news organisations including Sky News, CNN, Reuters and the Financial Times. Journalists who have been refused entry include Stuart Ramsay, chief correspondent at Sky News, who is being forced to file coverage from Dubai. 'Govt [sic] refuses to explain why I can't come in,' Ramsay said on Twitter. Presumably because they don't like Kay Burley. And who, in all honesty, can blame them? 'Govt [sic] welcomes F1 but not independent journalists who actually understand the complexity of this issue.' Blimey, conceited much? Ramsay expressed his frustration in another tweet. 'Lots of confusion, Sky TV is big, Sky News and Sky Sports and Sky Movies are all different I am news and all govts [sic] know this,' he said. 'We are excluded without redress but have asked to represent all sides.' He has been prevented from entering Bahrain despite Sky Sports, like Sky News owned by BSkyB, providing exclusive live TV coverage of Sunday's controversial Grand Prix to UK viewers. Sky Sports signed a seven-year deal to broadcast live TV coverage of every Formula One race from this season. The broadcaster is sharing live TV coverage of half the F1 races each year with the BBC, which has scheduled Bahrain grand prix highlights for Sunday afternoon. BSkyB faced criticism in March in relation to its Formula One coverage after Jeremy Darroch, its chief executive, stepped in to force a sensitive Sky News online story that broke during the first grand prix of the 2012 season in Australia to be temporarily taken down and changed, after racing teams complained to Sky Sports production staff. Bahrain's information ministry said that non-sports journalists who had been denied entry were welcome to come after the grand prix was over and denied that it had a policy of excluding organisations such as Sky News. 'We have also invited non-sports-related journalists who were unable to get a visa for this week to apply to come after the race,' the ministry said. 'It should be noted, however, that journalists from AP, AFP and Sky News all have teams here who are covering sporting and non-sporting events as is shown by their coverage.' However, a Sky News spokeswoman denied that this was the case. 'Sky News applied for a Bahrain visa to report on the political situation in the country ahead of the grand prix this weekend. Despite repeated appeals that application has been denied. We continue to cover the story from Dubai.' CNN correspondent Fred Pleitgen was initially granted entry to Bahrain earlier this week, along with a camera operator and field producer, and managed to file reports on the protests. However, when Pleitgen applied to have his initial three-day visa extended over the weekend it was rejected and he will be filing reports from Abu Dhabi during the grand prix weekend. Bahrain granted entry to a Reuters correspondent who covers the Formula One season but Andrew Hammond, a news correspondent with the agency, has not yet been told if his visa has been granted. A spokeswoman for Reuters said that authorities had not given Hammond permission to enter as of Friday afternoon. Thomson Reuters, the New York-based parent company of the Reuters news agency, is a sponsor of the Williams Formula One team. Financial Times Gulf business correspondent Simeon Kerr was also denied entry to the country when he landed. Bahrain's information ministry said: 'The fact is that over two hundred journalists from various media outlets have come in to cover the grand prix weekend. Even though much of their coverage will be on the race itself, we always knew and expected coverage of events in Bahrain as part of the context of the F1 being held.'
Dozens more claims against News Group Newspapers in the phone-hacking civil litigation have emerged, including by footballer Wayne Rooney and Sir John Major's ex-daughter-in-law Emma Noble. Lawyers said they also included Cherie Blair and politician Nigel Farage. At the High Court, Mr Justice Vos is deciding issues concerned with a second wave of litigation over phone-hacking. Hugh Tomlinson QC said there were four thousand seven hundred and ninety one potential victims in total, of whom the police had contacted eighteen hundred and ninety two people. And, they all want a piece of yer actual Murdoch. There is a trial date of February 2013 for any cases which are not settled in advance. The judge urged the importance of budgeting after hearing that ten million smackers in costs had been incurred in individual cases so far. He said it was 'unbelievable' that fifty five different firms of solicitors were representing one hundred claimants and said it would be appropriate to encourage claimants to instruct lawyers who already had specialist knowledge of the litigation. Mr Justice Vos was told that some of those bringing claims were 'likely to wish to remain anonymous.' But he said: 'If you bring legal proceedings in this country, you expect to have them publicly known. There are cases where that is not the situation, but they are few and far between, and that should be made clear.' After the hearing, lawyers Atkins Thomson issued a register of the names of individuals who have issued claims in the second round of litigation. They include footballer Ryan Giggs, alleged singer James Blunt, former royal butler Paul Burrell, footballer Peter Crouch and his wife Abigail Clancy, TV presenter Jamie Theakston, David Beckham's father, Ted, TV presenter Matt Dawson and actor James Nesbitt.

And, the bad news just continues for Uncle Rupert Murdoch as he faces a growing legal challenge in the heart of his global media empire. Lawyers representing alleged victims of phone-hacking on US soil have begun gathering evidence ahead of possible court action over there. Mark Lewis, the British lawyer who has been a driving force behind phone-hacking revelations in the UK, and his American legal partner Norman Siegel, have revealed that they have been approached by at least ten people bearing complaints relating to Murdoch's News Corporation. The complaints relate largely to alleged hacking by Scum of the World journalists into phones in the US, but also extend to other News Corp holdings including FOX News. Lewis said that he had been contacted by a number of people since he arrived in the US last weekend 'raising issues against other [News Corp] titles or FOX News, not necessarily about hacking but about other untoward dark arts to obtain information that should be private.' He added that the new complaints were 'unproven allegations.' Lewis told reporters that he had taken on a fourth case of alleged phone-hacking in the US. Previously, it had been known that he was representing three individuals, one of whom is an American citizen and two of whom are Europeans who believe their phones were hacked while visiting America. In addition, Siegel, a former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said he had been contacted by six individuals raising complaints about News Corp outlets. 'My experience in these sorts of cases is that when people sense you are serious and balanced in your approach, they begin to come out of the woodwork,' he said. The lawyers are refusing to name the four firm cases of alleged phone-hacking inside America they are pursuing, saying that to identify them would be 'to further breach their privacy.' So far all that is known of the original three is that one is 'a football figure', another is from Hollywood and the third 'an American.' Well, that narrows it down. To three hundred million. Lewis and Siegel said that they had begun to compile evidence relating to the cases, and lawsuits could flow when they were ready. At the heart of the three initial cases are notes kept by Glenn Mulcaire, the private detective used by the Scum of the World to carry out illegal hacking of the phones of potentially thousands of people. Lewis claimed he had 'substantial and substantiated' evidence relating to Mulcaire's notes that pointed to phone-hacking on US soil between the years 2001 and 2006. News Corporation said only that they had 'no comment' on Lewis's American visit, but the stakes are potentially very high for the company and it's quite possible that, right at this moment, there are some very dirty underwear in the laundry baskets of the hierarchy of News Corp. Both federal and individual state law takes a severe view of hacking into a person's stored communications. Under federal law, an individual who violates telecoms privacy for the purposes of commercial advantage can face up to five years in the State Slammer, or ten years for any subsequent offence. Civil courts can also set damages measured against the profits gained by the violators. Punitive damages can be imposed on any person or company found guilty of 'wilful or intentional' violations of the law. The new legal challenges may have particularly serious implications for James Murdoch, Rupert's youngest son, who recently relocated to New York from London, where he was chairman of the beleaguered UK newspaper group News International. Lewis indicated that he was exploring the possibility of deposing the younger Murdoch should any of the cases come to court. 'James Murdoch is now in the US rather than in England, and we have to look at that,' Lewis said. 'It becomes relevant to all sorts of issues in respect to knowledge in terms of punitive damages.' Asked whether Rupert Murdoch might also be deposed, Lewis replied: 'You go wherever the evidence takes you. We don't rule anything in or out.' Both Murdochs have been called to give evidence at the Leveson inquiry into phone-hacking and media ethics in London next week.

Major film and television studios have lost a landmark case over illegal video downloads in Australia. The High Court upheld a previous ruling that Internet service provider iiNet did not authorise copyright infringement among its customers. American and Australian studios had wanted iiNet to stop its customers from downloading pirated material. In 2010, a federal court had ruled in favour of iiNet, saying it did not authorise the downloads. The court also said that the country's third-largest Internet provider did not have the technical ability to prevent the piracy. The unanimous ruling from the High Court upheld the lower court's decision. 'The High Court held that the respondent, an Internet service provider, had not authorised the infringement by its customers of the appellants' copyright in commercially released films and television programmes,' the court stated. 'Rather, the extent of iiNet's power to prevent its customers from infringing copyright was limited to an indirect power to terminate its contractual relationship with its customers.' The 2010 judgment was the first time a court had ruled on whether an ISP could be held responsible for copyright violations by its users. The case revolved around thousands of downloads over Perth-based iiNet's network in 2008 using a file-sharing programme. The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft group, made up of thirty four film, TV and music companies, had appealed the lower court decision, saying it set a dangerous precedent. The group's managing director, Neil Gane, was quoted by news agency Agence-France Presse as saying that the ruling 'exposed the failure of copyright law' to keep pace with the online environment. 'Both judgements in this case recognise that copyright law is no longer equipped to deal with the rate of technological change we have seen since the law of authorisation was last tested,' he said.

A Japanese policeman has been arrested by fellow officers for licking a woman's hair. Tatsuya Ichikawa, a forensics specialist, was in a fast food restaurant in Shizuoka Prefecture. He was then spotted licking a twenty five-year-old woman's hair before police were called and Ichikawa was detained, according to Agence France-Presse. The police department where Ichikawa worked said that he was on medical leave and did not specialise in human hair. Ichikawa is reported to have told police: 'I wanted to lick so I did.'

The footballer Ched Evans has been jailed for five years for raping a nineteen-year-old woman, while another player, Clayton McDonald, has been cleared of the same charge. Wales and Sheffield United striker Evans was convicted by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court and is, this evening, beginning his sentence and learning all about slopping out. Nasty. Both he and the Port Vale defender McDonald, had denied rape at a Premier Inn near Rhyl. The men admitted having sex with the unnamed woman on 30 May 2011, but claimed that it was consensual. Court proceedings were disrupted after McDonald was acquitted, prompting a brief adjournment. McDonald, of Crewe, looked elated when his not guilty verdict was delivered. One man left the public gallery and could be heard screaming outside the court. McDonald remained in the dock while Evans, of Penistone, South Yorkshire, put his head in his hands and cried. After the judge returned to court, the guilty verdict was delivered against Evans. During the trial, the jury saw video interviews in which the woman said she could not remember what happened and feared that her drinks were spiked. She could not remember travelling to the hotel, but woke up in a double bed. 'My clothes were scattered around on the floor,' she said. 'I just didn't know how I got there, if I had gone there with anyone. I was confused and dazed.' The court heard that Evans, whose mother lives in Rhyl, had invited McDonald and others for a bank holiday night out in the seaside town on 29 May. Because there was not enough space at Evans' mother's house, he booked McDonald into the hotel. The court heard that McDonald met the woman and took her back to the hotel room, sending a text to Evans stating he had 'got a bird.' During Evans' evidence, he told the jury that he had gone to the hotel, let himself in to McDonald's room and watched his friend and the woman having sex. It was claimed McDonald asked if his friend could 'get involved', to which the woman, it was alleged, said yes. The prosecution claimed that while the attack happened, Jack Higgins, an 'associate' of the footballers, and Ryan Roberts, Evans' brother, watched through a window. The court heard the defendants had known each other since they were aged ten and shared accommodation when they played for Manchester City's youth academy. Evans, a striker, has scored thirty five goals for Championship club Sheffield United this season and has thirteen caps for Wales.

Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has said that alleged sex parties at his home were 'burlesque games', as he made a rare appearance at his trial. Speaking in Milan, he said the parties were 'elegant dinners.' Prosecutors describe them as 'orgies', during which young women dressed up as nuns. He is accused of paying for sex with an underage girl and abusing his powers by getting police to release her when she was arrested for stealing. Berlusconi denies the charges. 'In my house there have only been elegant dinners, and after dinner sometimes we went down to the theatre, my children's former discotheque, where there was an atmosphere of good cheer and affection,' he told reporters during a break in the trial on Friday. Asked about the alleged dressing up, he replied: 'We had burlesque games.' Berlusconi's appearance at the hearing with prosecution witnesses is very unexpected, correspondents say. The woman he allegedly paid is Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El-Mahroug, who was seventeen at the time. El-Mahroug - who is widely known as Ruby Rubacuori ('heart-stealer') - also denies having sex with him in 2010. Four police officers were due to testify at the trial on Friday, Italy's La Repubblica newspaper reports. They were on duty on the night in May 2010 when Berlusconi allegedly phoned the police repeatedly and requested that they let Ruby go-go. Berlusconi, who resigned over Italy's economic crisis last November, allegedly told them that Ruby was a granddaughter of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The former premier agrees that he is taking financial care of a group of young women, whose lives, he says, have been ruined by this criminal case. 'The only thing they did wrong was that they accepted a dinner invitation to my home,' he said. In another development, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli denied his government had received bribes from a fugitive linked to a sex and corruption case involving Berlusconi. Italian businessman Valter Lavitola, arrested in Naples this week upon his arrival from Argentina, is under investigation for having allegedly bribed Panamian officials and plotted to blackmail Berlusconi. Lavitola, an 'unofficial former aide' to Berlusconi, allegedly paid bribes to Panamanian officials to close contracts worth millions of dollars, including a contract to buy helicopters, radar equipment and a digital map. He also allegedly acted as a middleman in a plot to blackmail Berlusconi over allegations that prostitutes were supplied to the former Italian prime minister in return for favours.

A lorry shed its load of baked beans across a motorway in Essex while taking 'evasive action' to avoid a car, police said. The southbound carriageway of the M11 was closed at about three o'clock after the accident between junctions six and seven near Epping. Essex Police said the car crashed into a central reservation, leaving its driver with minor injuries. Police said the beans were spread across all three lanes of the road. A force spokesman said: 'A car went into a central reservation. As a result of that, a lorry has taken evasive action and has jack-knifed and spilt its load of baked beans across all three lanes of the southbound carriageway.' Tailbacks stretching back several miles built up in the area. And fifty seven varieties. The lorry driver was unhurt, police said.

The Canadian actor Jonathan Frid, best known for playing lead role Barnabas Collins in the 1960s cult vampire soap opera Dark Shadows, has died aged eighty seven. The star died of natural causes in a hospital in his home town of Hamilton, Ontario, his spokesperson Jim Pierson said. His death comes just weeks before Tim Burton's film version of Dark Shadows is due out. Frid had a cameo role in the movie, which stars Johnny Depp and Eva Green. According to Pierson, both Burton and Depp were huge fans of Frid, who played a vulnerable vampire in the show. Pierson claimed Frid's 'multi-dimensional' performance had a 'huge pop-culture impact. It really set the trend for all these other things that have been done with vampires over the last forty, fifty years,' he said. He added: 'Twenty million people saw the show at its peak in 1969. Kids ran home from school and housewives watched it.' Frid served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. He earned a degree in directing at the Yale School of Drama and also studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Although he appeared in many stage productions it was Dark Shadows and its first feature film adaptation, House of Dark Shadows, that won him commercial success. There will be no funeral or memorial, which Pierson said was what Frid wanted. 'He really was kind of a no-fuss guy,' he said.

Further sad news now, the influential guitarist Bert Weedon, best known for creating the popular tutorial manual Play In A Day, has died aged ninety one. Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and Brian May are among the numerous guitarists who learned to play the instrument from his books. Born in East London in May 1920, Bert had been ill for some time and died at his home in Beaconsfield, his friend John Adrian said. He was awarded an OBE in the 2001 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to music. The singer and guitarist Joe Brown, a close friend, described Weedon as 'a lovely man and a great inspiration to many British guitar players, including myself, in the early days.' He added: 'My heart goes out to his lovely wife Maggie and the family.' Speaking to BBC News, radio presenter Mike Read said: 'He was the guy who showed you how to play a guitar. Everybody bought his Play In A Day book, it was a big deal. He became the daddy of British guitarists and he inspired generations of schoolboys to play. His book enabled them to do just that, which was fantastic.' Aged twelve, Weedon picked up his first guitar after convincing his father to buy him a second-hand one from a London market. As a child, he studied classical guitar - a grounding which later enabled him to play virtually any genre of guitar music at sight. As an orchestral guitarist in the post-war big band era, and a session man on countless dates playing anything from jazz to rock and roll, Weedon's abilities were in constant demand. He worked with the best bandleaders, backed Britain's chart-topping crooners and loaned guitar 'hooks' to many a pop classic. You've probably heard him a thousand times without even knowing it was him. But Bert may be best remembered as a teacher. As well as co-presenting children's TV shows during the 1950s and early '60s, where his relaxed style taught early learners which included most of the UK's subsequent guitar elite, he also wrote the best-selling guitar tuition book of all time. With 'students' that number Eric Clapton, Brian May, Pete Townshend, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and countless others, Weedon could well be described as the most genuinely influential guitarist of all time. He began his career in showbusiness working with Ted Heath, Mantovani and The Squadronnaires, before becoming a featured soloist with The BBC Show Band. As a solo guitarist, he had many hits, including 'Guitar Boogie Shuffle', 'Apache' and 'Nashville Boogie'. In 1976 he became the first solo guitar player to top the LP charts with Twenty Two Golden Guitar Greats. Weedon also accompanied artists such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole, Tommy Steele and Judy Garland. James Bond composer David Arnold paid tribute to Weedon on the micro-blogging site Twitter saying that his passing was 'sad news.' He added: 'Learned my first chords from Play in a Day.' Big Queen, Brian May. called him a 'legend' and thanked him for 'spreading the guitar and your enthusiasm to all of us.' Yer actual Sir Paul Macca MBE revealed that he, John Lennon and George Harrison all used Weedon's manuals to learn the chords D and A. The Cure, meanwhile, wrote a short instrumental called 'The Weedy Burtons', which featured on their debut LP Three Imaginary Boys in 1979. 'I'd taught myself to play a bit by reading Bert Weedon's Play In A Day books using my older brother's guitar,' said Robert Smith. 'It's a sort of tongue in cheek tribute to Bert.' The tutorial book begins with simple illustrations of acoustic and electric guitars, before showing the reader how to hold the instrument. The first pieces of music for the student to learn include 'Bobby Shaftoe', 'Jingle Bells' and 'When the Saints Go Marching In'. Eventually, the book sold more than one million copies, with translations available in dozens of languages.

And, still it comes, I'm afraid. Levon Helm, the singer and drummer for the hugely influential rock group The Band, has died of cancer at the age of seventy one, his manager said. The folk-rock musician died at a hospital in New York City surrounded by family, friends and band mates, according to manager Barbara O'Brien in a statement. His family said on Tuesday that Helm was in the final stages of his battle with throat cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 1998. The Band, who started off as The Hawks, were one of the most musically talented bands ever to tread the boards. The were the backing group for, firstly the Canadian rocker Ronnie Hawkins and then, subsequently, Bob Dylan. Their own debut LP was 1968's hugely influential Music From the Big Pink. They reached the height of their popularity in the early 1970s, and had several big hits, including 'Up On Cripple Creek', 'Rag Mama Rag', 'The Shape I'm In' and 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down'. Helm's southern-inflected singing style carried the vocals on several Band songs, including one of their most famous, 1969's 'The Weight'. Their last live performance was filmed by Martin Scorsese in 1976 for the - dreadfully pretentious, but musically stunning - movie The Last Waltz. The Band briefly reunited in the 1980s, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. 'He passed away peacefully at 1:30 this afternoon surrounded by his friends and band mates,' long time friend and guitarist Larry Campbell told Rolling Stone. 'All his friends were there, and it seemed like Levon was waiting for them. Ten minutes after they left we sat there and he just faded away. He did it with dignity.' Helm also toured with Ringo Starr's All Starr Band in the 1980s and won multiple Grammy awards in recent years, including one in 2011 for a live recording in Nashville. Born on 26 May 1940 in Arkansas, Helm's distinctive singing style and drumming skills helped drive the rock band to popularity at a time when many were moving towards a more psychedelic style. The Band backed Bob Dylan during his groundbreaking electric tours in the mid-1960s and collaborated with him on The Basement Tapes in 1967.

Which brings us to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, it's this one. Bye, Levon, and thank you for the last forty years.

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