Monday, April 23, 2012

We Had Done About Forty

The Voice's final Battle Round show pulled in over ten million overnight viewers for BBC1 on Sunday night, overnight figures indicate. Revealing the last of the twenty contestants to progress to the live shows, the singing contest commanded an audience of 10.09m from 7.30pm, peaking with 11.3m and rising two hundred thousand from Saturday's show's overnights. Either side of The Voice on BBC1, Countryfile (6.45pm) was watched by 5.88m and a very good opening episode of a new Silent Witness two-parter had 6.09m. Meanwhile on ITV, the return of Vera took just 4.48m between 8pm and 10pm (with an additional three hundred and forty thousand on +1), prior to which All Star Family Fortunes with odious, risible Vernon Kay failed to entertain 3.74m at 7pm. You gonna be on Twitter this morning bigging up them figures, Vern? On BBC2, the new factual series Indian Ocean with Simon Reeve (1.95m) and Ewan McGregor: Cold Chain Mission (1.75m) performed respectably, before Match of the Day 2 scored with 2.99m punters at 10pm. There to watch The Scum's thrilling 4-4 draw with The Toffees, Sheikh Yer Man City sending The Wolverhampton Wanderings down to the second flight and, very amusingly, West Bromwich Albinos beating Liverpool Alabama Yee-Hawsw at Anfield, no doubt. 'Top four club'! You're not even the top club in Liverpool, chaps. Elsewhere, the latest Homeland recorded 1.91m on Channel Four at 9pm (and a further three hundred and eighty eight thousand on +1), down from its season high last week. Fellow US drama Once Upon a Time lost viewers, with the latest edition mustering 1.34m after Channel Five moved the fairytale series back to 9pm to face Homeland. Bad move, that. Overall, BBC1 pulled even further ahead in primetime with 29.4 per cent of the audience share, over double ITV's 14.8 per cent. Of note during the daytime, the coverage of the London Marathon was seen by an average of 3.06m between 8.30am and 2pm on BBC1, whilst the Bahrain Grand Prix highlights drew 3.65m on the same channel.

The Voice bosses have been accused of 'dirty tricks' by ITV after the show overran by three minutes on Saturday. Which is all a bit ridiculously pot-kettle-and-black after some of the shameful tricks ITV have been pulling (and sneering about) over the last few months. Taste of your own medicine, gentlemen? Don't like it, do you. A bit like a few full-of-their-own importance football teams in this country mentioning no names in particular (but, you all know who I mean), they're fine when they're winning but they develop a mean, nasty, sour-faced and self-entitled attitude when they get some of it back in their faces. The running time meant that the two series overlapped - by about three minutes, if that - with the beginning of rival ITV show Britain's Got Talent, where it should end at 8.30pm giving viewers enough time to switch channels. Senior manager at ITV Mike Large whinged: 'Was The Voice tonight live? Surely that can be the only reason BBC1 overran by three minutes. Those kind of overruns only normally tend to happen on live shows, don't they?' As reported by the Mirra, an allegedly 'senior ITV source' allegedly added, squealing like a girl: 'This is out-and-out dirty tricks. The BBC always say they are above this kind of thing. Clearly they are not. They are outrageous.' ITV had moved Britain's Got Talent's start time to 8.30pm in order to avoid a clash with The Voice after it had gotten a right good hiding during the twenty minute overlap period for four weeks running. BBC 'sources' allegedly dismissed the claims, allegedly saying: 'Can they not see the irony that they manufactured this whole situation in the first place by bringing their show forward by four weeks and installing the half-hour overlap? The simple truth is the peak figures were not affected by the overlap and we won by a full one million viewers.' The weekend's Voice episodes were originally one hundred minutes long according to this BBC 'insider', but were re-edited to approximately ninety minutes in order to avoid an overlap. The alleged BBC 'source' allegedly added: 'The need to lose ten minutes from each show explains why it overran slightly.'

Three stars of America's Next Top Model have been dropped from the long-running TV show, after falling ratings. Photographer Nigel Barker, coach J Alexander and photo-shoot director Jay Manuel will not return, said the show's host Tyra Banks. The programme follows a group of girls as they are put through a series of modelling tests in order to become the series winner. Yes, it really is just as bad as that description suggests. Barker said that he had been expecting to be dropped for some time. 'It wasn't a shock. I'm friends with Tyra and the producers,' the photographer, who joined the show in 2004, told E! News. 'There had been a discussion that ratings were down and that something like this would happen. We had an incredible run and there aren't any hard feelings.' Former model Banks and the show's executive producer wrote on Facebook and Twitter: 'Nigel Barker, Miss J and Mr Jay: Thank you for all our years together on America's Next Top Model. Working with you is always an absolute pleasure. Excited for what the future holds for us.' Manuel thanked fans in a blog post for their support and said that he was moving on to other projects. 'Nigel, Miss J and I had a great run, and now it's time for us to move on,' he said. No information has been given as to who would replace the three. America's Next Top Model, which is broadcast on the CW channel in the US, has lost more than half of its 2005 audience, and is currently watched by less than two million people. In the UK the show is broadcast on Sky Living.

At last week's celebration of the life of old-school ITV executive Andy Allan – responsible inter alia for Inspector Morse, Peak Practice, The Cook Report and Sharpe among others – Dawn Airey (once an Allan protégée at Central) recalled the way ITV grandees used to lunch: 'A bottle of sancerre on arrival, before a flambéed cream starter, then a bottle of montrachet with the entree, an entrecote, another bottle, then rum baba and a large scotch.,' she told the Gruniad. All accompanied by his advice that 'industrial language' was okay at the ITV controllers' combative schedule meetings – but that giving in to 'the enemy' (Granada) was never acceptable. A snapshot of the way ITV used to be before the pygmies, the school bullies and Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-face Scottish chef off Crossorads took over the gaff.

In the absence of senior drama executives at Channel Four (the top two left in December), its chief creative officer, Jay Hunt, has filled the gap herself and ordered a six-part thriller called Utopia (which we mentioned the other day and which, actually, sounds rather good). And it's nice to learn from Broadcast that, continuing television's tradition of apparently self-projecting commissioning, the tale of paranoia which the former BBC1 controller (who, some odious anonymous coward of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star alleges, quit the Beeb 'under something of a cloud') snapped up centres on 'people forced to go on the run from a shadowy organisation known as The Network.' Ho hum. In the frame for the driven heroine – expected to be called Kay Lunt – are thought to be Amanda Holden, Katherine Kelly and (with a blond makeover) Mary Portas.

The controversial Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix took place despite continuing anti-government protests. The race track was heavily guarded by police with big fek off guns, dogs and armoured vehicles to keep any activists brave enough to try their luck away. On Saturday, protests intensified after the body of a Shia man apparently killed in overnight clashes with security forces was discovered on a rooftop. Many protesters wanted the race to be cancelled, but the government was determined it would go ahead. West of the capital, Manama, demonstrators have set up barricades of burning tyres. Witnesses say police set up checkpoints near the circuit and officers armed with pump-action shotguns were lining nearby roads. But BBC Sport correspondent Dan Roan, in Bahrain, said that once inside the circuit the atmosphere was 'relaxed', and it felt like any other grand prix in the calendar. Ahead of the race Bahrain's King Hamad al-Khalifa said that he was 'committed to reform' in the kingdom. 'I also want to make clear my personal commitment to reform and reconciliation in our great country. The door is always open for sincere dialogue amongst all our people,' he said in a statement. His comments came after police fired tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters who took to the streets on Saturday. Many of them had gathered near the village where anti-government demonstrator Salah Abbas Habib's body was found. British Foreign Secretary Billy Fizz Hague also called for 'restraint' in dealing with protesters. The protesters are demanding an end to discrimination against the majority Shia Muslim community by the Sunni royal family. Ahead of Sunday's race, armoured vehicles patrolled the streets to stamp out any demonstrations. Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, only went ahead with the Grand Prix after the government said that it 'had security under control.' The race was eventually won by two-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. Last year's Bahraini Grand Prix was cancelled after thirty five people died during a crackdown on mass demonstrations calling for greater democracy. The Bahraini government, headed by the al-Khalifa dynasty, had been keen for this year's race to go ahead to prove it had the fourteen-month uprising under control. BBC correspondent Caroline Hawley said that staging the event has 'had the opposite effect', highlighting the small Gulf state's political problems. On Friday, Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa said cancelling the Grand Prix 'just empowers extremists', and insisted that holding the race would 'build bridges across communities.' FIA President Jean Todt said that he had 'no regrets' about the race. He said extensive investigations into the situation in Bahrain had unearthed 'nothing [that] could allow us to stop the race. On rational facts, it was decided there was no reason to change our mind,' Todt said. Shia protesters argued that going ahead with the race gave international legitimacy to a government which, they claim, is continuing to suppress opposition with violent means. Human rights groups and activists estimate that at least twenty five people have died since the start of the latest protests, many as a result of what has been described as the excessive use of tear gas. Meanwhile, the Danish ambassador to Bahrain visited hunger striker Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja - who also holds Danish citizenship - in hospital on Sunday, Bahrain's BNA news agency said. It claimed that the human rights and political activist was in 'good health.' His family have consistently maintained that he is in a critical condition. He has been on hunger strike for more than seventy days after being arrested for protesting against the government. He is now reported to be refusing water. Mr al-Khawaja's daughter, Zeinab al-Khawaja, was also briefly detained amid protests on Saturday afternoon.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso criticised what he considered dangerous driving by Mercedes' Nico Rosberg in their battle during the Grand Prix. The German was cleared by race stewards who investigated two incidents in which he appeared to push both Alonso and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton off the track. 'If instead of such a wide run-off area there had been a wall, I'm not sure I'd be here to talk about it,' said Alonso. Rosberg said that he preferred 'not to comment' until he had seen a replay. Hamilton also did not comment on his incident with Rosberg, which happened on lap ten. The 2008 world champion pulled to the inside of Rosberg out of turn three, and Rosberg defended by moving towards him, right over to the white line that demarcates the edge of the track. Hamilton kept coming and managed to overtake Rosberg. The incident with Alonso was almost identical, but happened on lap twenty four. The Spaniard did not manage to pass the Mercedes. Article 10.4 of the F1 sporting regulations says: 'Manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are not permitted.' Alonso went on the team radio after the incident to say: 'He pushed me off the track. You have to leave a space, all the time you have to leave a space.' After the incident with Hamilton, Rosberg said over the team radio: 'He overtook me off the track.' This is also not allowed in the rules. The stewards said in their ruling on the Alonso incident: 'At the time Rosberg made the move, Alonso was behind him and no part of his car alongside the Merc. Rosberg made the move to the right before Alonso. 'For more than half the distance travelled by Rosberg in moving in a straight line towards the right edge of the track, Alonso remained behind him. Because the speed delta between the cars was quite significant it was difficult for Rosberg to detect the exact position of Alonso in relation to his own car. No part of Alonso's car was alongside Rosberg.' Their explanation for the verdict in the case of Hamilton was almost identical. After the stewards announced their decision not to issue any penalties for either incident, Alonso said on Twitter:  'I think you are going to have fun in future races! You can defend position as you want and you can overtake outside the track!'

A group of Channel Four News journalists, including foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller, have been deported from Bahrain. Miller, his cameraman, a producer, their driver and a prominent human rights campaigner were arrested by Bahrain authorities while filming a demonstration in the Gulf state on Sunday. In an audio dispatch from the back of a police car, Miller said the police were 'very aggressive and violently attacked' the group's driver. The three Channel Four News journalists were released from detention after nearly six hours and deported to the UK late on Sunday. The driver, named Ali, and human rights activist, Dr Ala'a Shehabi, were released later. A Channel Four News spokeswoman said: 'We are pleased to confirm that our team is safe and on their way back to the UK. We also have confirmation that the team's driver – who they saw assaulted by Bahraini authorities – and human rights activist Dr Ala'a Shehabi have also been released.' As with journalists from other news organisations, the Channel Four News team had not been granted accreditation to enter the country to cover the planned demonstrations around the weekend's Formula One race. Bahrain authorities granted permission only to journalists who regularly cover Formula One, and denied official entry to reporters from Channel Four News, Sky News, CNN, Reuters and the Financial Times, among others. The arrests – described by Miller as 'not particularly pleasant' – will expose the Bahraini authorities to further international pressure over its role in attempting to suppress protests in the capital, Manama. Miller said: 'So when we were caught filming a planned demonstration in one of the Shia villages, they [the police] have not been particularly pleasant. They've been very aggressive towards me, my crew and driver and Dr Ala'a Shehabi, a prominent human rights activist. We were actually heading back to where we were staying to edit the piece we'd compiled for tonight – we'd met villagers in a Shia suburb off the main city, who were demonstrating night after night.' Bahraini authorities refused to give back the cameras and computers of the Channel Four News crew, Miller tweeted late on Sunday. Miller said that his crew were initially refused permission to board a flight out of the country because the group's documentation [was] not in order. The group later boarded a non-British airline flight to London.
Ofcom has launched an investigation into the hacking of private e-mail accounts by Sky News. It comes after Sky admitted earlier this month it accessed the accounts of 'canoe man' John Darwin and his wife Anne and, of 'a suspected paedophile.' At the time Sky defended its actions as 'being in the public interest' and said it was 'responsible journalism.' The head of Sky News, John Ryley, is due to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry this week. An Ofcom spokesperson said: 'Ofcom is investigating the fairness and privacy issues raised by Sky News' statement that it had accessed without prior authorisation private e-mail accounts during the course of its news investigations. We will make the outcome known in due course.' Ofcom's broadcasting code includes a clause - Rule 8.1 - which states that: 'Any infringement of privacy in programmes, or in connection with obtaining material included in programmes, must be warranted.' A spokeswoman for Sky News said: 'As the head of Sky News, John Ryley, said earlier this month, we stand by these actions as editorially justified. The Crown Prosecution Service acknowledges that there are rare occasions where it is justified for a journalist to commit an offence in the public interest. The Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer told the Leveson inquiry that "considerable public interest weight" is given to journalistic conduct which discloses that a criminal offence has been committed and/or concealed.' Intercepting e-mails is illegal under the Computer Misuse Act, and there is no public interest defence. But in a blog earlier this month Ryley said that the Crown Prosecution Service had 'acknowledged' there were occasions when it was justified for a journalist to commit an offence in the public interest. He said the Daily Torygraph paid for stolen data to expose the MPs' expenses scandal and the Gruniad - which first published this latest news - had admitted hacking a phone in pursuit of a story. Ofcom has a range of potential sanctions for breaches of its code, varying from a warning, through to a fine or the revocation of a licence in the most serious circumstances. The Metropolitan Police embarked on its own investigation into computer hacking, and e-mail interception last year. Operation Tuleta is investigating a number of allegations regarding breach of privacy and a number of people have been arrested and released in connection with the inquiry. Sky News has previously said the evidence discovered through hacking of the Darwins' e-mails was handed to police.

The BBC has confirmed the weekend rumours that a third series of the period drama Upstairs Downstairs will not be commissioned. The show was revived in 2010, where the first episode drew 8.8 million viewers. But the final episode of the last series, attracted 5.22 million. A BBC spokesperson said: 'From Call the Midwife to Bird Song and The Syndicate, 2012 has been a great year for Original British Drama on BBC1 but at this stage there are no plans for Upstairs Downstairs to return.' The original series was broadcast on ITV from 1971 to 1975 with five series' consisting of sixty eight episodes. The latest version's screenwriter Heidi Thomas wrote on Twitter: 'Really touched by all the love and sadness for Upstairs Downstairs. It was made by a tremendous team and I can't praise them enough. Truly sad about Updown, but can now fully and wholeheartedly honour the massive commitments I have elsewhere, including Call The Midwife.' The writer also congratulated Sarah Gordy, the Downs Syndrome actress who played Pamela, who also expressed her sadness. Actor Neil Jackson, who played chauffeur Harry Spargo, said it was 'a shame', adding: 'I loved the show and will miss it greatly.'

Unseen photos of The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) are to go up for sale after lying, unnoticed, in a family photo album for almost half-a-century. The twenty black-and-white images show the band as they made their first film, A Hard Day's Night, in March 1964 at the Scala Theatre in London. Taking pictures on the closed set was banned, but Pinewood Studios props manager Peter Allchorne went about taking the snaps unhindered. Allchorne put the images in a family album where they have stayed until now. The eighty seven-year-old from Preston, is now putting his pictures up for sale at Omega Auctions in Stockport on 19 May. The photos show the band with their instruments, but also between takes, with one picture of Ringo Starr resting on bricks to boost his height for the cameras. Allchorne's daughter Jacqueline Griffin said that her father was 'largely unaware' of the growing fuss surrounding The Be-Atles and thought of them as 'just another band' he had got to know through his work. 'It was not unusual for him to be on set and taking pictures. He wanted to take pictures of one of the crew, a mate Alfie, and they were there, it was when The Beatles were on stage,' she said. 'He got to know them quite well but he was just not that interested. I think they just larked about and had a good time. He was not particularly star-struck, they were just four lads in a band, it didn't really hit him. He's never held any value on them because he was not into The Beatles, he was just working on the films. He doesn't have any sentimental attachment. They're just dad's pictures. He didn't like the music, he was into jazz.' A menu card - signed by the four Be-Atles - from the band's trip aboard the BOAC Cunard, London to New York flight, will also go under the hammer at the sale. They were given a choice of fine wines from the vineyards of Bordeaux, Champagne and clear turtle soup amontillado. They were en route to the Bahamas, along with Allchorne, for the filming of their second movie, Help!, in February 1965. A second unsigned menu card from their return flight features the misspelling 'Beattles', making it a novelty expected to attract extra interest from bidders. Allchorne's photos of The Be-Atles on their Bahamas trip have been lost because his camera was stolen from the beach. The remaining photos taken in London, along with the original negatives, have been given an estimate of two thousand smackers. The entire lot has an estimate of ten grand.

Marianne Faithfull, the singer and former muse of Mick Jagger (he was in The Rolling Stones, another popular beat comb of the 1960s, you might've heard of them), has used an art exhibition at the Tate Liverpool gallery to confront her troubled past. Marianne was given access to the Tate collection to curate an exhibition reflecting her life and career. She has included an artwork by Richard Hamilton made from newspaper headlines from an infamous 1967 drugs bust at the home of Keith Richards. 'It's good to remember the horrible things that happened to me,' she said. Marianne, who was just twenty at the time, became notorious as the girl allegedly found by police 'wearing nothing but a rug.' The artwork, titled Swingeing London 1967, features newspaper headlines about the 'story of girl in a fur-skin rug' and of Jagger and Richards's subsequent court case. She says The Stones and the others at the house, Redlands, in Sussex, were 'persecuted by the establishment' and the episode led to a downward spiral in her personal life. She spent much of the 1970s as a heroin addict, homeless and anorexic. A copy of the picture hangs on the wall of her dining room at her home in Paris, she revealed at the exhibition opening on Friday. 'It's good not to forget,' she said. 'I'm talking from a position of power now. I was not destroyed. I did not end up a heroin addict dead on the street, which is what it looked like after the Redlands bust - and that is the effect it had on me. The establishment didn't manage to destroy me.' The exhibition is titled Innocence and Experience and Faithfull has also included works by Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Rene Magritte and Sir Peter Blake. 'The chance to play in the Tate archives is just fantastic and, of course, I found everything I wanted that had influenced me so much,' she said. 'I was trying to give a picture of the time I lived in in the '60s and '70s, and who I was, and who I am, and what went into my head, and how I became who I became.' She has curated the exhibition with her ex-husband John Dunbar, who founded The Indica gallery in London, where John Lennon first met Yoko Ono. Faithfull is the latest cultural figure to curate a personal exhibition at the gallery following Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and hat designer Philip Treacy. The exhibition runs until 2 September.

Cheryl Cole is reportedly planning to discuss Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced Scottish chef from Crossroads in a new 'tell-all' autobiography. Which will be news to everyone who didn't believe the heaton Horror could, actually, write. The former X Factor judge is said to be 'embarrassed' and 'creeped out' after Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced Scottish chef from Crossroads, whom she saw as 'an uncle figure', admitted in unauthorised biography Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced Scottish chef from Crossroads that he was 'mesmerised' by her. I know they're a funny lot up there in Heaton, like, but if I had an uncle like Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced Scottish chef from Crossroads, I'd be on the phone to Esther Rantzen on a daily basis. 'I would have liked an affair with Cheryl. I felt like a mouse being played with by a beautiful cat. She would come in dressed in her tracksuit and slippers, drop her eyes and play the soulful victim to get around me. She played me. I adored her,' Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced Scottish chef from Crossroads is quoted as saying in the book. Cole's autobiography will be published by Harper Collins in November and Cole has already chosen a ghostwriter, according to the Sunday Mirra. Cole allegedly told an alleged friend: 'How could he embarrass me like this? He was an uncle figure to me and to think all along he was trying to hit on me. It's disgusting and creepy. I'll never work for that man again.' The alleged friend, if they exist then, allegedly, told the tabloids. Allegedly. The memoirs will apparently reveal how Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced Scottish chef from Crossroads told the nation's sweetheart Cheryl to dump her husband Ashley Cole and end her romance with Derek Hough - after he had helped her as she recovered from malaria and divorced Ashley. She will also tell how she felt 'stitched up' after accepting her X Factor USA role only to be axed, as well as discussing her time in Girls Aloud. 'Cheryl's been thinking about doing this for a long time and has spent months ­preparing, going through old diaries. She wants no stone left unturned. After remaining silent for so long it feels like the right time to speak out,' an alleged 'source' allegedly said. 'She will share all the ins and outs of her marriage breakdown as well as her life as a member of Girls Aloud. She won't be going out to attack people but equally she wants to set the record straight. This week has hardened her up and made her realise it's time to answer her critics once and for all. As for Ashley, he's now blaming Simon for the breakdown of his ­marriage and thinks he could have kept things together with Cheryl if it hadn't been for his meddling.' Whether Cole will also be so keen to discuss her conviction for assault occasioning actual bodily harm in 2003and her one hundred and twenty hours community service for beating up a nightclub toilet attendant, we'll have to wait and see. I'm guessing not, personally.

The head of Disney film studio, Rich Ross, has resigned as chairman a month after the film John Carter became one of the company's biggest flops. He revealed his move by e-mail: 'I no longer believe that the chairman role is the right professional fit for me.' A fifteen-year Disney veteran, he became chairman in 2009. He was previously the president of the Disney Channel when it created the hugely successful High School Musical and Hannah Montana series. At the movie division, Ross approved production of the science fiction film John Carter, although it had been in development before he joined the studio. The film, which was based on a series of books by Tarzan writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, eventually cost more than two hundred and fifty million dollars and last month Disney said it expected the film to lose about two hundred million dollars. Disney is not expected to appoint a new studio chairman immediately but, rather, wait until its board have managed to stop the exploding diarrhoea caused by those numbers. So, that might be some time. The company's Chief Executive Bob Iger hailed Ross's contribution: 'For more than a decade, Rich Ross' creative instincts, business acumen and personal integrity have driven results in key businesses for Disney. I appreciate his countless contributions throughout his entire career at Disney and expect he will have tremendous success in whatever he chooses to do next.'

ESPN is to bring football fans the 2012 FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Liverpool in 3D and commercial-free as part of a full day of live FA Cup programming from Wembley Stadium in an attempt to revive the tradition of broadcasting all day around the final of the world’s oldest domestic cup competition. Getting the kick-off changed to three o'lock and making sure no other football games are going on that day might help, of course. But, there's a limit even to the power of ESPN when it comes to the greed of those invovled in football. Ross Hair, Managing Director, ESPN – Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: 'The FA Cup Final has a special place in the hearts of football fans everywhere, and at ESPN we are thrilled to be continuing the tradition of broadcasting all day around the FA Cup Final from Wembley Stadium. This year's FA Cup has produced some remarkable stories and matches on ESPN. Our coverage of the Final will highlight our ongoing commitment to give fans an ever increasing insight into the matches we broadcast and to the stories around them.' ESPN's FA Cup Final coverage will kick the day off at 8am with Breakfast At Wembley, setting the scene for the big day with discussion and light-hearted debate. Other highlights include a Pardon The Interruption special with Mark Chapman and Steve Bunce, plus a Talk Of The Terrace special hosted by Kelly Cates with a live music performance from The Enemy. And, thankfully, little or no contirubtion from Kelly's sour-faced dad. In a one-hour special at 9.30am, ESPN will debut a specially commissioned sixty-minute documentary, Kings For A Day – Football's Giant Killers which focuses on the unique David versus Goliath aspect of The FA Cup and will give somebody else yet another bloody chance to show that Ronnie Radford goal. Narrated by renowned actor-director Steven Berkoff and using a mixture of behind the scenes footage from this year's competition, plus archive material, the film 'provides a unique insight into the psyche of the underdog which is so key to the competition.' The show features interviews with the likes of Vinnie Jones and commentator John Motson. Talking about Ronnie Radford, no doubt. The show is part of collaboration around this season's FA Cup between ESPN and Budweiser. From 2pm lead presenter Rebecca Lowe will be joined by ESPN's Kevin Keegan (who will love it), John Barnes  (who will talk about 'ninety minutes of sheer hell') and Craig Burley plus special guests, alongside others for the build-up to the 5.15pm kick off, as well as half time and post-match analysis, interviews and discussion. Commentary on ESPN and ESPN HD will come from Jon Champion and Wor Chrissie Waddle with pre-match analysis using ESPN's augmented reality tool (no jokes, please), ESPN Arena, from Darrell Currie and Martin Keown. Additionally, The Bench, brought to you by Budweiser, will be the sports media company's auxiliary set for FA Cup coverage, providing viewers with a behind-the-scenes taste of the anticipation of the big match led by Darrell Currie and guests. Reporters Dave Beckett and Currie will bring fans the stories around the match as the day unfolds. Or, you could just watch it on ITV like most normal people will. Although, to be fair, if you do go for ESPN, you'll be spared Adrian Chiles being in your living room for three hours. And that's always a good thing.

Three drunk British men broke into an Australian Sea World, swam with dolphins and stole a penguin last weekend. No, this isn't the opening like a joke, it's true. The men claim that they had 'no memory of the incident' when they woke up hungover the next day to discover a seven-year-old Fairy Penguin named Dirk in their Surfers' Paradise apartment. A likely tale. Police say that the men unlawfully entered the park last Saturday night by evading security, before taking a semi-nude swim inside the dolphin tank and kidnapping Dirk from the penguin enclosure. They panicked the following morning and ditched the bird in a nearby canal, where he was spotted after being chased out of the water, possibly by a predator. Officers found the men after one of them bragged about the incident on Facebook, the Daily Scum Mail reports. These lot sound like a bright bunch, it has to be said. Dirk was 'frightened but unharmed' and was returned to his mate, Peaches, at Sea World. Ah, a happy ending. That's nice. 'Still a bit fuzzy about the whole thing but on behalf of the three of us we are very sorry and it was just a prank which went way too far,' one of the men, Rhys Jones, told 7News. The trio, who released the video to prove they meant no harm, have been charged with trespassing and stealing a protected animal and are due in court on 2 May. And additional charge of 'being very silly' is also being considered.

And so to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Here's a little twenty four carat baggy classic from yer actual Flowered Up featuring the late, and much lamented, Liam Maher and the excellent Barry Mooncult. Sorted.

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