Thursday, May 17, 2012

A God Awful Small Affair

Last week saw the final Doctor Who scenes filmed on location for Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill - the latter who comes 'full circle' as the location at St Cadoc's Hospital in Caerleon was where he filmed his first day on location back in 2009. Their last scenes to be filmed come from the penultimate episode for the Ponds, the fourth of the next series. Their departure on-screen will be in the following episode, the fifth, which was recorded last month, partly in New York. After the final shots were completed Karen Gillan tweeted: 'And that's a wrap! Bye-bye from the Ponds. We love you.' The final scenes were observed by several of the production team past and present, including The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) and former executive producers Piers Wenger and Beth Willis, with a party taking place afterwards to celebrate. Not to celebrate getting shot of the pair of them, you understand, dear blog reader, rather to celebrate their time on the show. Just wanted to make that perfectly clear. Oh yes. Anyway, another bit of closure took place on Friday, with the final day's production at Upper Boat. The studios, located in Pontypridd just outside Cardiff, have been home to Doctor Who since the third series and have also been the base for Torchwood and Sarah Jane Interferes. The complex was the first BBC studio centre totally dedicated to drama, and was set up in the wake of the success of Doctor Who following the series' revival in 2005. Production will now continue in full at the new purpose-built studios at Roath Lock in Cardiff Bay.

In other The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) news, The Very Moffster his very self has spoken about CBS's Sherlock Holmes adaptation Elementary. Moffat co-created the BBC1 update, Sherlock, with Mark Gatiss. Earlier this year CBS announced that it was developing its own updated version of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle's famous sleuth set in modern-day New York starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson. Elementary was one of the shows picked up by CBS last week and Moffat has given his opinion on the drama to The Insider. 'What we did with our Sherlock was just take it from Victorian times into modern day. They've got three big changes: it's Sherlock Holmes in America, it's Sherlock Holmes updated and it's Sherlock Holmes with a female Watson. I wonder if he's Sherlock Holmes in any sense other than he's called Sherlock Holmes. It's almost like they should have made Watson a woman but kept the show in Victorian times. Actually, that would be quite interesting.' When it was originally announced that CBS were developing Elementary the producers of Sherlock warned they would sue if any of their material ended up in the American drama. The producers also revealed that CBS had approached them about remaking Sherlock for an American audiences but their request was denied. 'It's a slightly odd situation because CBS approached us to do an adaptation and we declined – then, coincidentally, they announced they were doing an updated version of Sherlock Holmes. I don't want it to sound like Mark and I don't want other people to try this. We welcome it, but don't damage the brand.'

Moffat, meanwhile, has promised that the climax to the third series of Sherlock - you know, the proper Sherlock - 'will have people just as frustrated as they ever were.' Speaking at last weekend’s BAFTA Craft Awards, the writer revealed that he and Mark Gatiss have already planned how series three will end: 'We've had our meeting, we've decided what we're doing and how we're going to approach it, and I think we've got a climax to the next series that will have people just as frustrated as they ever were.' The Doctor Who showrunner also expressed pride at the method behind Sherlock's faked death in The Reichenbach Fall: 'We know what we're doing. If Sherlock Holmes is going to fake his own death, it better be the best faked death of all time. I think it's pretty good.' Earlier this month Mark Gatiss hinted at Watson's reaction to discovering that Holmes is still alive: 'I always found it a little unlikely that Watson's only reaction was to faint, for instance - as supposed to possibly a stream of terrible swear words.' Executive producer Beryl Vertue has stated that filming on the third series will begin in 'early 2013.'

The series premiere of Lewis lost out to The Apprentice on Wednesday evening, according to overnight ratings data. Lewis managed 5.21m across its two-hour slot, including yer actual Keith Telly Topping as it happens. A further three hundred and twenty thousand punters watched the episode - The Soul of Genius on ITV+1, but it could not compete with The Apprentice (6.09m) from 9pm. Earlier on BBC1, DIY SOS: The Big Build garnered 4.68m in the 8pm hour. Overall, BBC1 secured primetime victory with 22.1 per cent of the audience share ahead of ITV1's 19.8 per cent.

CBS boss Nina Tassler has defended the decision to axe CSI: Miami after ten seasons. The CSI spin-off, starring David Caruso, was one of the casualties of CBS's cuts last week as the broadcaster made room for newer shows. While CSI: Miami was still a strong international seller for CBS in America its domestic ratings had rapidly declined and that made the detective drama vulnerable. CBS entertainment president Tassler has explained why the broadcaster had cancelled the series, saying: 'It was about keeping the flow, and Miami was the odd man out.' There was widespread consensus that either CSI: NY or CSI: Miami would be cancelled by CBS. However, there was the same consensus last year and both shows were renewed. This time around though CSI: NY was widely tipped by media commentators as the more likely contender for the axe but, in the event, it survived and its flash-Harry Miami counterpart was the one that got the daisy-root. Following the news that CSI: Miami had been axed by CBS it was announced there would be no 'series finale' for the spin-off with its final episode, Habeas Corpse, having aired in April. So, no more David Caruso and his sunglasses of death. Tragedy.
CSI itself was, as previously reported on this blog, recommissioned for its thirteenth season in March having undergone something of a creative renaissance this year with Ted Danson replacing Laurence Fishburne in the lead.

The X Factor's Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads says he is 'puzzled' about why BBC1's The Voice is not on the radio instead of TV. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that if the BBC's show was 'all about the voice' then 'what's the point of looking at them?' He also said that the BBC show had become 'similar' to The X Factor with its use of dancers and stage presentation. The Voice's creation was a 'roll your sleeves up' time for Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, he claimed, because it was competition for his shows. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, who described himself as 'lucky, hard-working and weird' (he forgot mean-spirited, greedy, spiteful and crass, seemingly), said: 'Suddenly I'm watching it a week, two weeks ago. It's the same as X Factor. You know, they've got dancers behind them. They've got graphics, lights. Same show.' Early on the success of The Voice - which is reported to have cost the BBC some twenty two million quid - in a ratings battle with Britain's Got Talent led to Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads writing a congratulatory message to the BBC on Twitter. But early in May, Britain's Got Talent triumphed in the ratings for three consecutive weeks. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads said: 'When The Voice came along it's kind of like, "roll your sleeves up, we're in for a bit if a punch-up here." I'm smiling now because we're winning at the moment. I wasn't so happy three weeks ago. But not to the point of any silliness.' Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads claimed that his attitude in response to the competition was: 'Okay. They are beating us. We've got to make our shows better. And that's all we did. We just tried our best to make them better.' As to the allegation that his shows were 'like circuses' which sought to exploit vulnerable people, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads told James Naughtie: 'I think what I've learned is, there are people who like to show off who aren't very good and I don't have a problem with that. I think after Susan Boyle you can feel it around you on the show. Everyone is very, very, very more aware of whether this person is up for this or not. If we don't think they're tough enough they really aren't allowed to audition. But people do get through the net. But we don't sit there and go, "let's try and find someone vulnerable and weak to exploit today to make fun of them." You've got to also try to retain a balance and a sense of humour.' Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, who claimed that he sees 'a lot of shows trying to rip us off', was asked about his own future. 'I'll know when it's time, A, for me to leave the shows or, B, not to make these shows anymore, simply because people won't be interested,' he said. 'I'm not going to self-destruct.' And, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads was bullish about the success of his programmes, which also include American Idol. 'I'd like to know what is the alternative to what we put on at the moment as an entertainment show.' Yet Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads did say that he had previously worried about the future of his shows when they had failed to find credible acts. He said: 'We had this conversation about two or three years ago where, with the exception of Leona Lewis, I was getting nervous. I thought, if we don't find real stars from these shows after all the razzmatazz, all the promises, all the hype and you end with somebody whose going to put out a single and then go away it's a waste of time, a waste of my time and everyone's time.' Mark Linsey, the BBC's controller of entertainment commissioning, has previously said: 'I think other formats it's about the look, the shape of the person.' With regards to The Voice, he continued, 'it's about whether you've got what it takes vocally.' Well, it was. Until they turned the chairs around. Then it became, effectively, 'just another talent show.' Not a bad one, necessarily - in fact rather an enjoyable one in its own way - but don't make any great claims for originality before they just don't hold water.
The high court has ruled that news broadcasters including the BBC, ITN and Sky News do not have to hand over footage of the Dale Farm eviction to police. In a ruling handed down at the high court on Thursday morning, Mr Justice Eady said that broadcasters did not have to disclose unbroadcast footage of the eviction to Essex police. The judge said that the police need 'clear evidence of criminality' when applying for production orders against the media. Broadcasters including BBC, Sky News and ITN – the producer of ITV News, Channel Four News and Five News – won the right to a judicial review after they were told by Chelmsford Crown court to hand hours of footage of the Dale Farm eviction in October last year over to the police. In his judgment on Thursday, Eady said that the Chelmsford Court decision failed to give any sufficient weight to the inhibiting effect of production orders on the press. The ruling marks a significant victory for the media, which has campaigned strongly against being forced to disclose unbroadcast footage. Broadcasters warned they would be seen as 'an extra arm of the state' if they passed unaired footage to the police. Eady said in his judgment: 'The interference caused by such orders cannot and should not be dismissed mainly because a small proportion of that which is filmed maybe published. The judge should have feared for the loss of trust in those hitherto believed to be neutral observers if such observers maybe too readily compelled to hand over their material. It is the neutrality of the press which affords them protection and augments their ability freely to obtain and disseminate visual recording of events.' Eady and Lord Justice Moses described as 'scattergun and speculative' the attempt by Essex police to obtain more than one hundred hours of broadcast and unbroadcast footage from the media groups. The ruling also applied to Hardcash, the independent producer behind a BBC Panorama documentary on Dale Farm, and Jason Parkinson, the freelance journalist who filmed an Essex police officer using a stun gun against a Traveller during the eviction. Eady and Moses said that production orders should only be granted if there was 'cogent evidence' of how important the unbroadcast footage would be in a police investigation. Parkinson said he was 'very happy' with Thursday's ruling because it recognised the impact production orders have on the 'safety and impartiality of all journalists. This ruling to overturn the crown court's decision to grant the Dale Farm production order sends a very clear message to all police forces that these wide-ranging fishing trips will not be accepted by the UK courts and that we will not be forced into the role of unwilling agents of the state. We are not there as evidence gatherers to fill police intelligence databases with hours of material on activists or protestors. We are journalists and we are there to report the news and keep the public informed. In the last eighteen months, every time one of these orders have been served it has put journalists in greater danger while trying to report on public order situations. I know this because I have been threatened and assaulted by people claiming my material will be used by the police. I am very happy to see [the high court] has recognised the impact these orders have on the safety and impartiality of all journalists and has made sure any future production order applications must take this into account, as was clearly not the case this time round.' NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: 'Today is a huge victory for the cause of press freedom and the protection of sources and journalistic material. We are incredibly pleased that the NUJ and other media organisations have won the high court battle against the police production order to force journalists to hand over their Dale Farm eviction footage.'

Sarah Lancashire and Matthew McNulty will star in a new BBC1 period drama called The Paradise. Based on the novel The Ladies' Paradise byÉmile Zola, the story will transfer to a department store in 1890s Northern England, and has been adapted by Bill Gallagher, who also wrote BBC1's upcoming autumn drama The Fuse, featuring Christopher Eccleston and BAFTA-nominated Andrew Scott (Moriarty in Sherlock). Unusually for the channel, the series will include eight episodes, which will start filming in June outside Durham. Peter Salmon announced details of what will be the biggest BBC drama made in North East England last night at the Manchester Business School. Speaking exactly a year after staff started at the Salford offices, the BBC North director also revealed the implementation costs of the Salford operation was one hundred and eighty million quid, less than the initial estimate of around two hundred million smackers. 'What people need to realize - and, in some cases, learn to accept - is that BBC North is a long-term reality. We have opened on time and under budget,' he added. Made in-house under executive producer Susan Hogg, The Paradise is one of a growing number of dramas, comedies and children's output filming across Northern England. Salmon said BBC network TV spend in the region was expected to rise from nine per cent last year to approximately twenty per cent in the next few years. Around two thousand three hundred staff, including Children's, Sport and Radio 5Live, now work at the MediaCityUK site but there have been some teething problems with in-house tv editing systems, an issue which the BBC says it is working to resolve as soon as possible. Concerning negative media reaction to the move of output from the capital to Salford, he said stories had been 'distorted to custom-fit a particular media organisation or individual's point of view.' Sick anti-BBC-based agenda-soaked bollocks, in other words. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. He added: 'At times it has surprised us how strong, how loud and how persistent that negative reaction has been. And some of the stories have been absolutely absurd. Sadly, more often than not, it is written by people who haven't even travelled to Salford.' Oh, the Daily Scum Mail? Gotcha. When asked whether he was applying for the director-general post after Mark Thompson's departure, Salmon said: 'No, not this time.'
Jack Straw arranged to meet well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks 'for a gossip' once a week when they commuted on the same train when he was justice secretary and she was editor of the Sun, the Leveson inquiry has heard. Straw, the former Labour cabinet minister, told the inquiry on Wednesday that he and Brooks made 'the arrangement' to sit together and used to 'gossip about personalities' and what 'was in the papers' as they took the hour-long journey from Charlbury in Oxfordshire to London. Straw revealed his meetings just moments after railing against politicians who had 'too close a relationship' with journalists and criticising the press for 'recording' his profession as 'personality, conflict-based.' Straw said that his media policy was 'don't have favourites' because politicians were like 'shares', in that when they get too close to journalists their price is 'over-valued and there is then a crash.' He told Lord Justice Leveson that he was an old friend from University of Leeds days with Paul Dacre, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Scum Mail, and generally one of Labour's fiercest critics in the national press. But, in contrast with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, he only met Dacre 'about once a year.' Straw, who had previously been one of Tony Blair's closest allies as Home Secretary, had the justice portfolio between 2007 and 2010. He said that the commuting arrangement with Brooks 'stopped when she became chief executive of News International' in 2009. Asked what he would talk, about he said: 'We would talk about what was in the papers, what was the gossip about personalities, that sort of thing.' But, he added, they could never get into 'too confidential' a discussion because it was 'a busy commuter line. There were all sorts of people around ear-wigging so there was a kind of limit to what one was going to say either way,' Straw said. He remained a friend of well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and was one of several politicians at her wedding to Charlie Brooks in June 2009, along with David Cameron and the then-prime minister Gordon Brown. Earlier the inquiry heard how the Sun had been 'ruthlessly hostile' to the Labour party and that owner billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch enjoyed playing 'a power game' with politicians, according to Straw. Unlike other witnesses to the inquiry, such as Alastair Campbell, who testified earlier this week that the Sun backed Labour because it was a winner, Straw was of the view that the News International tabloid did have the power to make or break politicians' fortunes. 'Few of us who took part, for example, in the 1992 general election, are in any doubt that the Sun's approach lost us seats. That was the purpose [of the hostile coverage] and it is disingenuous for anyone to deny it,' Straw said. He added: 'The Sun played a huge part in the fortunes of the Labour party.' The 1992 election saw the then Labour leader Neil Kinnock 'knocked mercilessly' by the Sun. He was pilloried as 'a Welsh windbag' and on the day of the election the Sun splashed with the headline If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights. The day after the election - which produced a narrow victory for John Major's Conservatives, the Sun crowed It Was The Sun Wot Won It. Straw said the Sun attacked members of the Labour party in the run-up to the election. Just days before polling day in April 1992, the paper branded him 'a hypocrite for preaching socialism from the luxury of three houses.' He complained that this was already in the public domain but that now 'every burglar in West Oxfordshire knew that the one day of the year' his house would be empty, was election day. His house was burgled and property stolen but when he complained to the Sun he got the 'glazed-eye look', Straw said. He claimed that he had 'a run-in' with Brooks when she was editor of the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World and had launched the campaign for Sarah's law to allow parents to check whether people with access to their children were sex offenders. At the time Straw was Home Secretary. 'I felt there were better ways of controlling the predatory instincts of sex offenders than having them bluntly subject to a mob outside their doors,' he added. He said newspapers should 'calm down about the effects of autonomy from politicians' and acknowledge that statutory regulation would not be state control. That, he said, was 'nonsense.' Straw said that he believed newspapers had 'debased public discourse' about government and democracy and had contributed to the low turnout at elections because they portrayed politics as 'boring' and 'completely self-serving.' In a barbed remark about journalists, he said: 'As John Major famously said, "the only people who've never made a mistake are the people who have never made a decision." To which I would simply add: they are called journalists.' Straw told Leveson that he was in favour of radical reform of press regulation, which had 'palpably failed' over the past fifty years. He said some sort of 'statutory' regime which would provide remedies for fast-tracking cases of defamation and breaches of privacy.

UKTV has signed 'a landmark deal' to access more than three hundred and fifty hours of factual and lifestyle programming from Channel Four, including Time Team, Embarrassing Bodies and Jamie's Thirty-Minute Meals. UKTV, the pay-TV broadcaster owned by the BBC and US media giant Scripps Networks, has secured the content for its lifestyle and factual channels, including Home, Good Food and Yesterday. The three hundred and fifty hours of popular programming acquired by UKTV includes Embarrassing Bodies and One Born Every Minute for Really; A Place in the Sun: Home or Away and Four in a Bed for Home; Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage for Good Food; and Time Team for Yesterday. 'UKTV and Channel Four are successfully collaborating in a number of areas and as the category leaders in lifestyle and factual channels, this deal will enable UKTV to pull further away from its competitors,' said UKTV's chief executive Darren Childs. 'UKTV's content deals with the BBC, Channel Four, and now with investment in its own award-winning commissions, continues to strengthen its channel brands and ensure they are the most sought-after destinations on the digital broadcasting landscape.' Channel Four - which is headed by ex-UKTV boss David Abraham - said that the deal shows its ability to maximise the value of UK rights for independent production companies. The agreement brings together content from sixteen of the UK's leading independent producers. 'I'm delighted that Channel Four has agreed this deal with UKTV, which is a great example of how we are working closely with our independent production partners to maximise the value of their UK secondary rights,' said Channel Four's chief operating officer Anne Bulford. The first programmes secured through the agreement are scheduled to appear on the relevant UKTV channels from the third quarter of 2012. UKTV also recently announced plans to invest millions of pounds in original content for comedy channel Gold, including a new series of Yes, Prime Minister.

England fans heading to Euro 2012 have been warned about the potential for high mobile phone bills because Ukraine is outside an EU-wide cap on call charges. Fans travelling with smartphones could be opening bills mounting up to more than five grand if they are not careful about their usage, according to a study by price comparison website uSwitch.com. Mobile phone networks have been forced to cap roaming charges within Eurozone countries at thirty five pence per minute to make calls, eleven pence per minute to receive calls and eleven pence to send a standard text message, as well as a fifty euro cap on data, with these caps set to fall further from 1 July. But this is not the case for destinations outside the EU. Based on average costs across the five major networks, using a mobile phone in Ukraine to make and receive just two five-minute phone calls per day, listen to a two-minute voicemail message and send five text messages and one photo message would run up a bill of thirty five smackers per day, according to uSwitch. And with the cost of one megabyte of mobile Internet data in Ukraine costing an average of over six quid, a smartphone user could ring up a daily data bill of two hundred and twenty eight knicker with a modest amount of video streaming, emailing, browsing websites and using services like Skype to keep in touch, the website warned. Those fans visiting Ukraine for the nine days from 11 June when England play their pool matches could have to pay an extra two thousand three hundred and sixty two knicker on top of their usual monthly phone bills. And those who stay in Ukraine from the first pool match on 11 June until the final on 1 July face a total bill of more than five thousand notes - more than eleven times the cost of a ticket to the final in the best seats, which will set fans back four hundred and eight two quid, uSwitch said. Or, they could just stay at home and watch it on the BBC for their one hundred and forty quid licence fee, of course. Mind you, the beer's cheaper in the Ukraine, apparently. It recommended that fans 'curb their mobile usage' and take other steps such as buying a local SIM and using free Wi-Fi to avoid coming home to a huge bill. USwitch.com technology expert Ernest Doku said: 'Watching England might be priceless, but using your mobile phone abroad isn't. Footie fans have to think ahead as using their phones while following England could add more than five thousand pounds to what is likely to be an already expensive trip. The first thing England fans going to Ukraine - or indeed anyone taking a holiday outside the EU - should do is talk to their network. They may be able to advise a bundle, or at least let you know the costs involved with using your phone abroad. Those using their phone can help to limit the damage by keeping data roaming switched off as much as possible. At the moment, O2 and Vodafone are the only networks that place an automatic cap on data usage worldwide for pay monthly customers and O2, Orange and Vodafone all send text alerts so customers can keep track of their data spend. T-Mobile has told us it plans to introduce a new system to prevent customers from running up unexpected data bills abroad and hopefully this will be in place before Euro 2012 kicks off. When it comes to calls and text messages, the best way to keep costs down to an absolute minimum is to buy a local SIM card, put it in your phone and top it up. Those mobile users wanting to go online should be on the ball and use free Wi-Fi to help keep a lid on costs.'

Alan Pardew hopes that Newcastle United's targets all 'flop' at Euro 2012 – so that the club isn't priced out of the market. A clutch of players involved in the European Championships have been watched by Pardew and his staff this season. Lille right-back Mathieu Debuchy, a close friend of Magpie Yohan Cabaye, is a possible replacement for Danny Simpson, should Simpson leave this summer as rumoured. Debuchy was this week named in Laurent Blanc's provisional France squad along with Montepellier defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, who has also been linked with a move to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle. Pardew's scouting team, headed up by Graham Carr, will track their progress at the championships, and the fear is that a target's price goes through the roof on the back of a strong tournament before a deal can be done. However, the flipside is that some players' valuations may drop. 'We'll be represented at the Euros,' Pardew said. 'There are a couple of players we're looking at, and as far as I'm concerned, I hope they have an awful one! The valuations will go up and down – we'll look at that. Someone's reputations will go through the roof, and someone's won't. That might affect the price.' While Newcastle, ideally, want to do their summer transfer business early, that is only possible if the selling club is ready to come to the table. Pardew believes that many clubs will hold off doing business until after the tournament in the hope that their assets increase in value. 'Most clubs want to hold off to see how their players do,' added Pardew. Meanwhile, Yohan Cabaye says the whole is greater than the sum of the parts at Newcastle. The midfielder was a hugely influential figure in the club's fine season, which ended with a fifth-placed finish in the Premier League and qualification for the Europa League. Cabaye left Lille last summer looking for a new challenge after helping the club to the French double. His decision to join Newcastle was questioned in France. However, Cabaye hasn't looked back since crossing the Channel. The twenty six-year-old, also in Blanc's preliminary Euro 2012 squad, said he has 'no regrets' about joining United. Cabaye, is already looking forward to playing in the Europa League next season. 'Finishing fifth was beyond the expectations of the club and fans,' said Cabaye. 'We had a long unbeatean run at the start of the season, which helped gain confidence.' Cabaye is part of a growing group of French and Francophone players, among them Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba, Sylvain Marveaux, Cheick Tiote and Papiss Demba Cisse. And fitting into to United's multi-national and multi-cultural dressing room was easy. 'There are many French and African players here, as at Arsenal, so there isn't a language barrier, which makes things easier,' added Cabaye, signed for a cut-price £4.3m after being identifield by the club's chief scout, Graham Carr. 'We get along well with everyone – there really is a good atmosphere in this group. We do not exclude anyone.' Cabaye is a certainty to make the Blanc's final squad for the summer's European Championships, where France will meet England in the group stage. And he credits his move to the Premier League with helping his international career. Asked about his move to Newcastle, Cabaye told French radio station RMC: 'Newcastle was the only club with which negotiations were initiated. This was the only real offer I received, but I did not go there by default. After the title and the Cup victory in France, I think collectively and individually it was not possible to do more. I needed to grow, and I’m really happy with my choice. It even helped me to play more with Les Bleus.'

The Greedy Shit Michael Owen, who once spent four years at Newcastle getting paid a quite obscene amount of money - the equivalent of the gross national product of a small third world country - to lie on a treatment table, has revealed on Twitter that The Scum will not be offering him a new deal. Oh dear. What a pity. The thirty two-year-old former England forward joined the Old Trafford club in July 2009, moving faster than he ever had in any match during the previous four years but has made just fifty two appearances. Bright side, Mikey, if you'd been a horse, you'd've been put out of your misery by now. 'The manager informed me after our testimonial match on Tuesday that the club would not be offering me a new contract,' said Owen. 'I have loved every minute of the three years I have spent at such a fantastic club.' Owen, who also had spells with Liverpool and Real Madrid as well as the Newcastle treatment table, added: 'I would like to thank the players, staff and fans for their support and wish them well for the future. I now plan to have a short holiday during which I will contemplate my next move.' I hope the odious Little Shit ends up at some League Two club getting lumps kicked out of him on a weekly basis by big, oafish clodhopping defenders. Owen's last game in a United shirt came in Belfast on Tuesday in a testimonial for former goalkeeper Harry Gregg. His time at Old Trafford was, as usual, blighted by injuries - and whinging that hge couldn't get into the England team - and he managed just four league and cup appearances this season with his final one coming in United's 2-0 win over Otelul Galati during the Champions League group stages in November when he sustained 'a thigh injury.'

Sour-faced miserable Scotsman Kenny Dalglish has been sacked as Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws manager. Which is funny. No, I mean, really funny. 'After a careful and deliberative review of the season, the club came to the decision that a change was appropriate,' read a statement. 'Results in the Premier League have been disappointing and we believe to build on the progress that has already been made, we need to make a change.' And, they reckon the best way to achieve this is to kick miserable, sour-faced Scotsman Dalglish's arse out of the door, seemingly. Dalglish said that his 'departure' (ie sacking) had been handled in a 'honourable, respectful and dignified way.' By saying 'kenny, you're sacked', basically. Owners Fenway Sports Group stressed that the decision to remove - ie. sack - Dalglish 'was not reached lightly or hastily' (albeit, it occurred just four days after the end of the current Premier League season ... so, that's pretty hasty, one might observe) and that the search for a new manager would 'begin immediately.' Wigan manager Roberto Martinez and former Reds boss Rafael Benitez have been installed as early favourites to fill the vacancy, with former Moscow Chelski gaffer André Villas-Boas also being widely tipped. Dalglish's departure - ie. sacking - comes after face-to-face talks with principal owners John W Henry and Tom Werner in Boston on Monday. The sixty one-year-old has paid the price for Liverpool's poor Premier League performances, especially at Anfield. Despite reaching the FA Cup final and winning the Carling Cup, the Reds finished eighth in the top flight having lost as many games as they won. 'I am disappointed with results in the league, but I would not have swapped the Carling Cup win for anything as I know how much it meant to our fans and the club to be back winning trophies,' said Dalglish. 'It has been an honour and a privilege to have had the chance to come back to Liverpool as manager. Whilst I am obviously disappointed to be leaving, the matter has been handled by the owners and all concerned in an honourable, respectful and dignified way and reflects on the quality of the people involved and their continued desire to move the football club forward.' Werner insisted that the club owed a 'great deal of gratitude' to Dalglish. 'Kenny came into the club as manager at our request at a time when Liverpool Football Club really needed him,' he added. 'He didn't ask to be manager; he was asked to assume the role. He did so because he knew the club needed him.' Dalglish had been expected to take a holiday this week, but flew to the US instead to review the season with Henry and Werner. Dalglish's dismissal follows the departure of director of football Damien Comolli and the club's head of sports medicine Peter Brukner in April. Dalglish returned to manage the club for a second time in the wake of Roy Hodgson's departure in January 2011, initially on a caretaker basis until the end of the season. After a strong finish to the season he was made permanent manager on 12 May 2011 on a three-year contract, but has been unable to carry that momentum into the new campaign. Dalglish's second stint in charge at Anfield also proved controversial. The Scot defended Luis Suarez in the wake of the striker's ban for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra when the teams met in October. After the Uruguayan's apparent refusual to shake Evra's hand in the return fixture in February, an apology from both the player and the manager came only after the intervention of the US owners. Hopefully the public humiliation dished out during the 2-0 defeat of the Scousers at St James' Park in April also helped bring about his demise as the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws 'global brand' took another bashing. Perhaps more damaging for the USA owners was Dalglish's appalling media persona, which saw him continuing to defend Luis Suarez even after the Uruguayan had been found guilty of racial abuse. Dalglish also seemed intent on fielding some of the most inoffensive questions imaginable with sarcasm and hostility during pre and post match TV interviews - something which he had previously mastered during his time on Tyneside.

And, speaking of the very capital of self-pity-land itself, Liverpool, a rare photograph of The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, m'lud, you might've heard of them) walking 'the wrong way' across the Abbey Road pedestrian crossing is going up for auction, and should fetch around nine grand, according to speculative estimated. The version found on the group's 1969 LP Abbey Road shows the band walking across the famed crossing from left to right, though the photograph in question sees the Fab Four heading back in the opposite direction, towards the studio. In the version up for sale, John Lennon leads the group across the road, while Paul McCartney wears a pair of sandals (he, infamously, has bare feet on the LP cover). The cigarette that Paul holds on the more familiar version is also missing, reports the Gruniad Morning Star. The photograph was one of a handful taken outside the Abbey Road studios in St John's Wood, during a quick shoot by the late Iain MacMillan. Sarah Wheeler of Bloomsbury Auctions said, 'MacMillan had ten minutes to do the shoot and he took six photographs of The Be-Atles walking backwards and forwards across the zebra crossing. He was standing up a ladder to take the pictures. The photo has been called an icon of the 1960s. I think the reason it became so popular is its simplicity. It's a very simple, stylised shot and is a shot people can relate to.' If you're a rich enough Be-Atles fan - and have a few thousand smackers spare - head down to the auction at Bloomsbury on 22 May 2012 and star the bidding.
Tonight, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self will be off once again - after a week's break - to Scunny Steve's latest The Record Player event at the Tyneside. And tonight, it's an absolute cracker, yer actual Dame David Bowie's entire singer-songwriter phase summed up in one, almost perfect, LP, Hunk Dory. So, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is, very much, looking forward to listening to his 33 of the Day on quality vinyl, through a decent sound system, with some chums and a couple of bottles of beer. It's what Thursdays were made for.

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