Wednesday, May 23, 2012

If The Puppet Makes You Smile

Sherlock's Andrew Scott has hinted that he is unlikely to return to the show. Scott's character Jim Moriarty - the nemesis of Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) - appeared to commit suicide in series two finale The Reichenbach Fall. Asked if the villain could have somehow survived, Scott told the Digital Spy website: 'That's an impossible question to answer! It's very hard to come back from shooting yourself in the mouth, we all know that.' The Irish actor also admitted at the recent British Academy Television Awards Nominations party that he had been overwhelmed by the 'crazy' success of Sherlock. 'I think the quality of the show is even higher than last year,' he said. 'I've had a lot more screen-time this year [and] The Reichenbach Fall was a big Moriarty-Sherlock storyline, so it's been brilliant. The reaction to Moriarty has been incredible. I couldn't be more happy and more proud to be in the show. It's very difficult to find a popular and clever show.' Scott also appeared to rule out any future appearance in Doctor Who, currently run by Sherlock co-creator Steven Moffat. 'It might be a bit weird for the Doctor Who fans to have Moriarty coming up,' he suggested. 'It's a great show, but I think that might be a bit too weird for people to accept.' A third series of Sherlock will begin filming in January 2013. And, frankly, at the wish of encouraging dear blog readers to wish their lives away, it can't come quickly enough.

The Doctor Who story The Doctor's Wife has won the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation in this year's Nebula Awards, the annual event held by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Although Doctor Who was nominated for the same award last year, this is the first time the programme has been successful. In winning the award the team beat several Holloywood movies including Martin Scorsese's Hugo and Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. The Doctor's Wife was the fourth episode of the 2011 series of Doctor Who. It was written by acclaimed author Neil Gaiman and directed by Richard Clark. In accepting the award, Gaiman paid tribute to the creators of Doctor Who. Posting on Twitter he said: 'Thanked everyone, including Verity Lambert and Sydney Newman. Also thanked Steven Moffat who made it what it was. Best showrunner ever.'

The final episode of award-winning medical drama House was broadcast in the US on Monday, eight years after its debut. The show starred Hugh Laurie as Gregory House, the brilliant but troubled doctor with an unconventional bedside manner and a neat line in sarky badness. The final episode - Everybody Dies - featured a dramatic storyline centred on the friendship between House and his friend Dr James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) who is dying from cancer. Laurie said that playing House had been 'an unforgettable part of my life.' Monday's finale was preceded by a one-hour retrospective celebrating the show's one hundred and seventy seven episodes, featuring tributes and scenes from the final cast party. The final episode also featured the return of numerous former cast mates of Laurie, including Oliva Wilde, Jennifer Morrison and Anne Dudek, although, sadly, not Lisa Edelstein. Still, you can't have everything. I mean, where would you keep it? Laurie won two Golden Globes and two Screen Actors Guild awards for his role. And the show has won the favourite TV drama prize at the People's Choice Awards for the past four years. In January 2010, Laurie entered the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most watched leading man on television for his role as the cantankerous doctor. Frazier Moore, the Associated Press TV critic, said of the final episode: 'For House, boring had always been life's least tolerable state. The finale served well as a reminder: House seldom was.' 'This is a series that always loved the big gesture — and it went out with that love on full display,' wrote Robert Bianco of USA Today. The show's producers, including Laurie, announced in February that the drama would be ending. They said it was a 'painful' decision but that the time had come to bring it to a close. In a statement, Laurie and fellow producers David Shore and Katie Jacobs said: 'We have always imagined House as an enigmatic creature; he should never be the last one to leave the party. How much better to disappear before the music stops, while there is still some promise and mystique in the air.'
Hugh was recently revealed to be in the early stages of working on a new project with his long-time comedy partner, yer actual Stephen Fry. And the world awaited with bated breath.

Geri Halliwell could be named as the final X Factor judge on a permanent basis, it has been reported. The former Spice Girls singer was linked this week to a guest judging role as the show's producers seek a permanent replacement for Kelly Rowland on the panel. The Mirra claims that her stint has been branded a 'dress rehearsal' for the job, alleging that Old Ginge her very self will be given a permanent contract if she has 'chemistry' with the other judges and impresses audience members. Interesting, because, previously, 'biology' has been the brand of science that Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads has been most interested in with regard to his co-stars. Well, according to that book, anyway. 'Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads was impressed with the way Geri handled herself during auditions a couple of years ago, and thinks she has the gravitas and star presence to really shake up the panel,' an alleged 'source' allegedly told the paper. Using Latin, as well, which almost certainly means it's a made-up quote. 'She has a great chemistry with Louis [Walsh] and bosses expect these two to join forces against Gary [Barlow], which will make for great viewing.' The alleged 'insider' allegedly described Halliwell as a 'lovely girl' who was 'full of enthusiasm' about the show. Adding that she had 'had her confidence knocked over the years,' the alleged 'source' allegedly labelled Halliwell 'an absolute dream to deal with,' allegedly adding: 'Assuming she passes her final dress rehearsal at the auditions in Liverpool, the job is hers.' Halliwell's salary, if she is made a permanent judge, has been quoted as between four hundred thousand knicker and a million smackers plus. The Sun has additionally claimed that Halliwell's former Spice Girls colleague, Mel B - who is a judge on the Australian version of The X Factor - will be a guest panellist at the Manchester auditions. Blimey. Reunion. Make sure nobody tells Posh, because their might be singing involved.

BBC1 controller Danny Cohen has said that he hopes all four Voice coaches return to the show next year. There has been mounting rumour in recent weeks on the subject of whether Jessie J (the gobby bird) will quit the singing contest panel, which also features will.i.am (the black, American, funny one), Sir Tom Jones (the old, quite funny Welsh one) and The Script's Danny O'Donoghue (the ... other one). Quizzed by the Radio Times on whether he wants to reinstate the same coaches next year, Cohen said: 'I hope so. God, yeah. I'd love all our judges to come back. I love them in multiple ways.' Cohen challenged the view that the judges are 'too friendly,' insisting: 'It's one of the great aspects of the show, that tonal quality, which we are very keen to maintain. I think the emphasis on constructive criticism is one of the fresh and exciting things about it.' Meanwhile, responding to Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's claims that The Voice is similar to The X Factor and other talent shows, Cohen argued: 'They made their decision about who they believed in with their backs turned. The key thing is that the selection of the teams by the judges is blind.' True. But, after that, it's just Pop Idol, basically, isn't it? It was really novel for four episodes and everybody and their dog (and I include this blogger in that collective) thought it was really fresh and different. Then, they reached the live rounds and we found that, no, it wasn't. The thirty eight-year-old controller of BBc1 also suggested that he will not use NBC's revamp of The Voice as a precedent to shake up the reality show's format in the UK. 'We'll look at the end of the series but I think we're in a good place and I don't imagine mega-changes,' he added. Rumours earlier this month indicated that producers would make immediate changes to the BBC programme because of falling viewing figures. Although how true they are, your guess is probably as good as those of this blogger.
Upstairs Downstairs and The Royal Bodyguard were not 'flops,' Cohen also told the magazine. Although the latter, most certainly, was under any definition of what the word flop actually means. Cohen defended the performance of both axed shows in his interview. 'I wouldn't describe them as flops,' he said. 'I don't like to throw around words like that about individual programmes. I embrace the fact that not everything works because if nothing fails, then you're not taking enough creative risks. It's important that the BBC, as a public service broadcaster, takes those risks.' Cohen also dismissed the suggestion that long-running sitcom My Family had been dropped because it was 'too middle-class.' 'Not true,' he insisted. 'Every comedy reaches the point where it's not as fresh as it was. The family had fled, they'd left the house!' Defending his decisions, Cohen added: 'There's only a finite amount of money and, by ending some shows, I freed the money to do Call the Midwife in January. That's how it works.'

ITV's landmark documentary series 56 Up was the most watched programme in the 9pm slot for the second week running on Monday, attracting more than four million viewers. The second episode of three-part series, the latest update on the long-running format which has caught up with the lives of a group of people every seven years since they were seven in 1964, averaged 4.4m viewers. Last Monday the first episode of 56 Up averaged 4.8m. This week's episode was up against BBC1 documentary series Chatsworth, about the Derbyshire stately home, which attracted 3.7m. Other 9pm competition included BBC2 documentary The Fall of Singapore: the Great Betrayal (1.8m), Channel Four's The Secret Millionaire (two million) and Channel Five's Robson's Extreme Fishing Challenge (1.1m). RHS Chelsea Flower Show was BBC2's most watched programme on Monday, averaging 2.8m viewers (including two hundred and seventeen thousand punters on BBC HD) from 8pm. Competition in the 8pm hour included BBC1's EastEnders (7.2m) and Panorama: Eurovision's Dirty Secret (2.3m) and ITV's The Dales (3.5m) and Coronation Street (eight million). Sky Atlantic's Game of Thrones took the crown as the most-watched pay-TV show on Monday, averaging three hundred and eighty two thousand viewers from 9pm.
The Scum of the World journalist Mazher Mahmood commissioned surveillance on its chief phone-hacking critic, the Labour politician Tom Watson (power to the people!), in the hope of finding him having an affair, according to e-mail evidence Watson has obtained. News International's internal investigating group, the management and standards committee, belatedly turned over the e-mails to a parliamentary committee of which Watson is a member. They implicate Mahmood and two former Scum of the World executives, the assistant editor Ian Edmondson and news editor James Mellor. This latest revelation of methods at the now-closed, disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World will present difficulties for John Witherow, the editor of The Sunday Times. Mahmood, the so-called 'fake sheikh' who specialised in controversial undercover investigations, was rehired by The Sunday Times after its sister paper was closed down in disgrace and ignominy by Rupert Murdoch, and is still working there. Witherow has not so far commented on the disclosures. The attempt by Scum of the World journalists to gain evidence of sexual indiscretions by its arch-critic was launched on the morning of Saturday 26 September 2009, at the start of the Labour party conference. Mahmood claimed in an e-mail to Mellor, copied to Edmondson, that he had received 'a tip' that married Watson was 'shagging' a fellow activist, and that he was 'creeping into her hotel' at Brighton. The information, from a so-far unknown purported informant, appears to have been completely false. As with most other stuff the Scum of the World published. Mahmood described the MP as 'a close lackey' of the then prime minister, Gordon Brown, and noted he was 'anti-Blair.' It was agreed that a private detective, the former police officer Derek Webb, known as 'Silent Shadow', would be hired to stalk Watson through the conference, from 28 September to 2 October, in what proved to be a vain hope of getting some dirt on the West Bromwich MP. Had the story been substantiated and published, it would have, Watson said, destroyed his reputation. According to the e-mails in Watson's possession, Edmondson described the prospect as a 'great story' and added: 'You might want to check his recent cutts [cuttings], v interesting!' Watson at the time believed he was on News International's 'enemies list.' He was pursuing a libel suit against the Sun for falsely accusing him of involvement in organising online smears against the Conservatives. He was also vigorously pursuing News International on the culture, media and sport committee, where a series of Murdoch executives were mounting an ultimately unsuccessful cover-up of phone-hacking. Peter Mandelson told the Leveson inquiry on Monday how well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks would 'come on to me and complain' that Watson and his colleagues were 'hounding' them, and demand: 'Couldn't they be pulled away, pulled off?' Brooks, editor of the Sun at the time of the libel, had taken over as chief executive of NI at the beginning of September, in control of both Murdoch tabloids. On the evening of 29 September, while Derek Webb was still shadowing Watson at his conference hotel, the Sun revealed it was switching political sides, and published a dramatic anti-Brown front page. From then on, it embarked on a ferocious campaign against Gordon Brown and his supporters.

Watson began his evidence by explaining the background to the Damian McBride affair. He said the saga – over which Gordon Brown's special adviser McBride was forced to quit – caused Watson considerable distress in 2008 and that Iain Dale, the Conservative blogger, eventually apologised to him over having made a series of false statements. Watson said his sources for information on News International include one 'close' to the police and others who have worked at various newspaper groups. He said that he is current attempting to convince these various sources to give evidence to the police. Watson said that he had 'a very narrow' agreement with Neville Thurlbeck, the former Scum of the World chief reporter, over private discussions about phone-hacking. Extracts of parts of the discussions ended up in Watson's recently published book, Dial M for Murdoch. About a dozen MPs have told Watson that they believe they have been 'unfairly targeted' by tabloid newspapers. They fear 'ridicule and humiliation over their private lives or political mistakes,' he added. Watson said that he has encouraged other MPs to go to Leveson, and one is preparing a submission to the inquiry. 'Sooner rather than later, Mr Watson – the train isn't stopping,' said Leveson. The judge also asked Watson to ask MPs about their experiences of the press as a whole, rather than just News International. Watson said that Max Mosley has offered assistance to MPs wanting to reveal potential blackmail threats against them, but that he personally has not taken it up. Robert Jay led Watson through 'highlights' of the Labour MP's involvement in the phone-hacking scandal. Watson said that he began pushing for a public inquiry as early as 2009. It is 'highly unlikely' that Gordon Brown would have used the words 'declare war' on News Corp in a phone call to Rupert Murdoch, he claimed. Jay asked about the New York Times article on phone-hacking in September 2010. Watson said it was surprising that it took an American newspaper to unearth new detail in the saga that a UK national newspaper could have. 'Much of it was from court documents or testimony from people they could have found in the phone book,' he added. Watson wrote to Nick Clegg on 2 September 2010, the day after the New York Times article appeared, asking for the IPCC to investigate. Watson also wrote to James Murdoch then small after Mr Justice Eady's judgment in the Max Mosley case on the issue of blackmail, the inquiry heard. He asked what was going to happen to chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck. Watson claimed that he did not get a reply to his letter from Murdoch. Watson also raised the question with Rupert Murdoch at his July 2011 appearance before the Commons culture committee. Murdoch said of Eady's comment about blackmail: 'That is the first I have heard of that.' Murdoch's evidence to Watson at the Commons select committee reads as follows:-
 Watson: 'In 2008, another two years, why did you not dismiss News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, following the Mosley case?'
 Rupert Murdoch: 'I had never heard of him.'
 Watson: 'Okay. Despite a judge making clear that Thurlbeck set out to blame two of the women involved?'
 Rupert Murdoch: 'I didn't hear that.'
 Watson: 'A judge made it clear Thurlbeck set out to blackmail two of the women involved in the case.'
 Rupert Murdoch: 'That is the first I have heard of that.'
 Watson: 'So none of your UK staff drew your attention to this serious wrongdoing, even though the case received widespread media attention?'
 Rupert Murdoch: 'I think my son can perhaps answer that in more detail. He was a lot closer to it.'
 Watson: 'I'll come to your son in a minute. Despite the fact that blackmail can result in a fourteen-year prison sentence, nobody in your UK company brought this fact to your attention?'
 Rupert Murdoch: 'The blackmail charge, no.'
 Watson: 'Do you think that might be because they knew you would think nothing of it?'
 Rupert Murdoch: 'No. I can't answer. I don't know.'
And, yet there are still Tories sitting on the same Commons committee as Tom Watson who will try to convince you that Rupert Murdoch is a 'fit and proper person' to run a piss up in a brewery. Words fail me. And, seemingly, they failed billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch too. Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, wrote to Watson in January last year about the review of phone[hacking material held by Scotland Yard. Soon after, Scotland Yard announced the formation of Operation Weeting. Watson said that he has 'great confidence' in Operation Weeting, which is being carried out by an 'inscrutable' team of officers. Watson said that he has no direct evidence there was a 'craven understanding' between News International executives and senior government officials, but argued that this is clearly the perception of the public. He added: 'News International behave like the ultimate floating voter, but with menace.' Watson said that he believed 'implied deals' existed between News International bosses and members of successive governments, but added that he has no direct evidence pf such agreements. Ken Clarke, the justice secretary, is a 'target MP' for the Sun, argued Watson, because he is prepared to 'swim against the tide' and make decisions that may not be welcomed by the tabloids. However, pressed by Leveson, Watson conceded that it is not just the Sun that gives Clarke a hard time. Watson described as 'totally improper' the alleged call by well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks to Lord Mandelson in an attempt to get him and other MPs 'pulled off' the Commons culture committe inquiry into phone-hacking. George Pascoe-Watson, the Sun's former political editor, told Watson that 'Rebekah [Brooks] will never forgive you for what you did to Tony [Blair],' the inquiry heard. Watson said that was 'a chilling comment.' Watson was asked about surveillance. He said he received an apology from James Murdoch the small after News International admitted it had hired private investigator Derek Webb to tail him. Watson said the culture committee could not pin down who commissioned the surveillance of MPs because News Corp claimed that they were 'looking into it.' Mazher Mahmood, former Scum of the World undercover reporter, wanted to tail Watson in an attempt to prove that he was having an affair. The allegation was untrue, but Mahmood allegedly hired Webb to follow Watson at a Labour party conference. Watson claimed that the news editors involved in the commission were Ian Edmondson, who has been arrested on suspicion of hacking, and James Mellor, now an employee of The Sunday Times along with Mahmood. Watson described surveillance as an 'egregious' invasion of privacy, citing evidence of Martin Salter, the MP who opposed the Scum of the World's 'Sarah's law' campaign to name sex offenders and was, as a consequence, targeted by private investigators. A number of MPs were 'uncomfortable' with the Scum of the World's campaign, says Watson. 'There are ethical issues within all of that,' he added. Parliament has ducked its responsibility to beef up the Data Protection Act, said Watson, explaining how he pushed for amendments to the Protection of Freedoms bill. Watson said politicians were 'too close' and 'frightened' of newspaper groups so did not raise the alarm on phone-hacking. He added that Nick Davies's Gruniad story in July 2009 exposing huge secret payments by News International over phone-hacking make him believe there was something awry. That 'clearly gave impression to me that there was more to this than met the eye.' While he was in government, conversations on policy always led to a conversation about how it would play out in the Sun, Watson told Leveson. He once mistakenly referred to a Falklands conflict 'celebration' rather than 'commemoration', which was welcomed by the patriotic Sun but frayed nerves in the foreign affairs community. Leveson asked if this concern applied to the Sun or other titles such as the Daily Scum Mail. Watson replied: 'I can only speak for myself, but there was a sense there was a mystique about News International stable. There was a sense they had a unique access to No 10 Downing St. [News International] were the ones that had the connections and everyone was aware of it.' Watson was told by Downing Street 'insiders' that Wapping was asking politicians to urge him to 'hold back' on the cross-party phone hacking inquiry. Watson claimed that Gordon Brown had phoned him to say that Rupert Murdoch had told Tony Blair to 'call him [Watson] off.' Waston said that he remembered perfectly the phone call, which Brown has said that he cannot remember and Murdoch and Blair have denied. He said the call was in late 2010 or early 2011, and he will try to find out the exact date. Watson denied a suggestion that he had sold stories to Ian Kirby, the former political editor to the Scum of the World. Watson denied leaking privileged information from the culture committee to the Gruniad, but said that he had given information at other times to the paper's Nick Davies. He said he would occasionally socialise with Damian McBride, but did not know him that well. 'I would see him about once a week. We would bump into each other,' he added. Watson said he would get one or two e-mails a month from McBride about 'logistics' or Labour events. Watson denied knowing about plans to set up the Red Rag website. He said there had been discussions about Labour online strategy, because they believed the Tories worked at 'arm's length' with websites such as Guido Fawkes. Watson said he knows the people behind the left-wing website Political Scrapbook and met them at the Labour party conference, but has not passed any information to them. Watson said he once delivered a babygro™ for Gordon Brown's child, but not a Postman Pat DVD as has been widely claimed. The pair did not discuss political matters on that occasion. He said well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks repeated this story before the inquiry, but that he has never bothered to put matter right 'because it's so trivial.' 'Well, I'm glad we've sorted that out,' said Leveson to the amusement of everyone present. Brooks's evidence about this reads as follows: 'You had it in for [Mr Watson] and you have encouraged the Sun to write adverse material about him. Is that true?' 'No. Well, sorry, the Sun has covered – has written adverse things about Mr Watson. I think Mr Watson is referring to an incident – and I can't remember when it is, I think 2006 – when he galvanised the troops, as in backbench rebellion, in order to force Mr Blair to resign. It was called "the curry house coup" at the time and there was a situation where the night before Mr Watson published the letter, which Mr Bryant was also on, I believe, calling for Tony Blair to step down, he'd driven halfway across Scotland to see Mr Brown, and when the newspapers confronted Mr Watson and said, "You clearly did tell Mr Brown", he famously said, "No, I was just delivering a Thomas the Tank DVD." And I think the subsequent coverage, not just in the Sun but The Times and lots of newspapers, were very critical of Mr Watson. I think that's where it originates from.' Jay asked Watson about future regulation of the press. Watson said he believes the Information Commissioner's Office should take a greater role in overseeing the press. He reeled off a list of several other official commissioners who, he believes, could play a role in this new regulator. 'Putting them in one place might be useful,' he said.

MPs have decided to refer three ex-News International executives to the Commons standards committee over claims that they misled Parliament. Former Scum of the World editor Colin Myler, former legal manager Tom Crone and former chairman Les Hinton were criticised in the Commons Culture committee's report into phone-hacking. Its chair John Whittingdale said the allegations were 'extremely serious.' But Hinton said the MPs' conclusions were 'unfair and unfounded.' The cross-party committee criticised the three men's conduct in its report into phone-hacking published earlier this month. Whittingdale said that MPs from all parties had endorsed this view. At the end of a ninety-minute debate on the report's findings, MPs decided to refer the committee's report to the Commons standards and privileges committee without it going to a formal vote. The cross-party committee of MPs will decide what, if any, sanctions the three men should face. The Commons has the authority to ask non-members to appear in person to be admonished by the Speaker, in a procedure known as being 'summoned to the bar of the Commons.' This power has not been used since the 1950s. Whittingdale told MPs that such a situation was 'unusual, if not unprecedented in modern times.' But he said it was 'right' to bring the matter to the attention of all MPs and for the Commons standards committee to decide whether its counterpart's findings were justified and, if so, what action should be taken. He added: 'We do believe that the integrity and effectiveness of select committees relies upon the evidence that we are given and are given truthfully and completely. And, therefore the findings of the committee that we were misled by specific individuals we do regard as an extremely serious matter., Whittingdale said documents 'indicated very clearly' that the trio had been wrong to claim in their testimony that there was 'no evidence' that others were involved in hacking beyond single 'rogue' reporter the former Scum of the World royal editor Clive Goodman - convicted in 2007 - and the private investigator Gelnn Mulcaire. However, he said the trio 'deserved the right to rebut' the committee's findings and the standards committee was the right forum for them to make their case. Tommy Watson (power to the people!), fresh from his stint at Leveson, said that the body was united in believing the three men should face 'some form of parliamentary justice.' His Labour colleague Chris Bryant said that contempt of Parliament was 'potentially as serious an offence as contempt of court' and a three month jail sentence for such an offence should be considered. He said we may 'just have witnessed the tip of an iceberg. Some forty people have been arrested. There may be more arrests. This is one of the most flagrant examples of contempt of parliament in parliament's history.' He continued by noting that people were lying to protect their company's commercial interests. And News International have turned the police into a 'partially-owned subsidiary.' Paul Farrelly, another Labour member of the culture committee, noted that the committee found it 'inconceivable' in 2009 that the Scum of the World single 'rogue' reporter story was credible. But, on the basis of the same evidence, the Press Complaints Commission concluded that the Scum of the World was telling the truth. Instead the PCC decided to shoot the messenger - the Gruniad newspaper. Farrelly hoped that the committee's conclusion about 'wilful blindness' would resonate. The committee decided it would not be right to just blame two executives. Instead, the committee decided that the corporate culture was to blame. He referred MPs to the final sentence of paragraph two hundred and seventy five: 'In failing to investigate properly, and by ignoring evidence of widespread wrongdoing, News International and its parent News Corporation exhibited wilful blindness, for which the companies' directors — including Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch — should ultimately be prepared to take responsibility.' For the government, Commons leader Sir George Young said that he supported the decision to refer the matter to the standards committee for a 'full and impartial' investigation. 'I believe this is the right course of action in the first instance,' he told MPs. However, in considering potential sanctions, he said the committee must be 'mindful' that 'existing statutes' stipulated that the Commons must use its penal powers 'as sparingly as possible' and only when action was deemed essential to provide 'reasonable protection from improper obstruction.' The MP who chairs the standards committee, Kevin Baron, said that if it was asked to look into the issue, it would do so 'rigorously, fairly and impartially' and not 'rush into any hasty decisions.' In a letter to Whittingdale, released just before the Commons debate began, Hinton insisted that he had 'told the truth' in his evidence. 'I take very seriously the Committee's accusations that I misled it and was complicit in a cover-up at News International,' he said. 'These allegations are unfair, unfounded and erroneous. They are based on a misreading of evidence, and on a selective and misleading analysis of my testimonies to your committee.' He added: 'If this committee is going to accuse me of misleading Parliament or being complicit in a cover-up, it should get its facts right and conduct a fair process. The committee has done neither.' Crone and Myler have also disputed the committee's findings, saying they stand by the evidence they gave during its public hearings.

The lawyer who suggested that News International put two solicitors acting for Scum of the World phone-hacking victims under surveillance has told a parliamentary committee that he would give the same advice again. Julian Pike, the head of media practice at Farrer, a law firm used by News International, told the Commons home affairs select committee on Tuesday morning that the advice to put Charlotte Harris and Mark Lewis under surveillance was 'unusual,' but said it was 'justified.' Pike's involvement in the controversial surveillance emerged last year and was part of an alleged plot by News International to prove professional misconduct on the part of the solicitors. Pike told the committee 'I gave advice to News International that some surveillance should be carried out.' But, he added he had 'no direct dealings' with the private investigator, Derek Webb, who carried out the surveillance on Harris and Lewis. 'News International used an agent who I had no knowledge of whatsoever and that's where it went wrong,' he told the committee. Asked by the committee chairman, Labour MP Keith Vaz, if it was unusual to order surveillance on fellow lawyers he replied: 'It is very unusual and I certainly not had cause to do it before but in these particular circumstances there was justification for doing it and I would frankly do it again tomorrow.' Webb, a former policeman who carried out surveillance for the Scum of the World, filmed Lewis's ex-wife and daughter near their Manchester home. News International has since admitted that the surveillance was 'deeply inappropriate.'

The threat of industrial action by BBC journalists and technicians during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend in June has been withdrawn. Unions had balloted for a strike in part over a 'derisory' pay deal. But the NUJ, BECTU and UNITE unions have now released a joint statement with the BBC saying they had agreed to 'key principles' on pay, performance ratings and redeployment. However, BECTU and the NUJ said the one per cent pay offer 'remained pitiful.' They said important concessions on future bargaining justified the settlement. Last month, Gerry Morrissey, BECTU's general secretary, said that the decision to call a ballot followed the imposition of a one per cent pay rise for staff, with a minimum increase of four hundred smackers. In January, the unions asked for a pay increase of two per cent above inflation, with a minimum increase of a grand. They justified the claim by saying that staff salaries had fallen by eight per cent behind inflation since 2007. In Tuesday's joint statement, the BBC and the unions said it was 'believed by both the joint unions and management that a continuous pattern of annual settlements which represent a real cut in pay are neither desirable nor sustainable.' However, both sides accepted that this year's one per cent offer would not be increased. The BBC said it was 'committed' to ensuring that pay settlements during the current licence fee period (until 2016) went some way to reflecting the cost of living. It also assured staff that the annual pay increase would not be linked to performance for the majority of employees. Morrissey said in a statement on Tuesday: 'There is absolutely no question that the BBC's handling of this year's pay talks will continue to anger staff and what is more, our members, not least in London, will suffer financially. However from the soundings we have taken, viewed nationally, pay was not the primary concern and in light of this we doubted the success of strike action over the Jubilee weekend.' In April, Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said the strike action was 'not just about pay.' She said the corporation's management team had 'failed to negotiate' on a range of other issues, including a redeployment scheme for staff at risk of losing their jobs. On Tuesday, she said: 'We have been deeply concerned by the failure of the redeployment process, so the settlement today addresses the problem, which we welcome. The BBC's stance on pay is disappointing, but the package of concessions on other pay-related issues and appraisals addresses key concerns for journalists across the BBC.' The BBC is now amending its redeployment policy to increase the chances of staff at risk of redundancy finding another role at the corporation.

Award winning actor Gabriel Byrne has joined the cast of History's first ever scripted drama Vikings which will be the cable channel's answer to historical romps such as The Tudors and The Borgias. Vikings will chronicle the extraordinary and ferocious world of the mighty Norsemen who raided, traded and explored, raped, pillaged and ran amok during early medieval times. It follows the adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok, an historical figure, and 'the greatest hero of his age' – and the gripping sagas of Ragnar's band of Viking brothers and his family – as he rises to become King of the Viking tribes. Created and written by Michael Hirst – one of the premier historical story-tellers in the industry who won an Oscar for Elizabeth and was nominated for at both the EMMYs and the Golden Globes for The Tudors.

And, speaking of marauding Scandinavians - they come over here, they take our women - yer actual Sandi Toksvig is to host a new Channel Four quiz show, One Thousand And Things You Should Know. In the show three contestants will try to prove they know pieces of general knowledge that producers believe everyone should know. The thirty-part series starts from the First Thing You Should Know and counts upwards. Toksvig – best known for hosting Radio 4's The News Quiz – said: 'I'm absolutely thrilled to be doing this show as I only know nine hundred and ninety nine things and I will be wiser by the end of the series.' Experts will pose questions about their specialists subjects on video. If players get their question right, then they can access a cash question which Toksvig will ask. The comic has previously fronted Time Team, Island Race and The Talking Show for Channel Four, and hosted the Sky Arts literary panel show What The Dickens as well as being a regular panellist on the BBC's Qi. Channel Four head of formats, Dominic Bird, said: 'We are delighted to welcome Sandi back onto the channel to front the show. Her vast knowledge and warm wit makes her the ideal choice.' Producers Thames TV are currently auditioning would-be contestants for the series, which will broadcast this summer, but entries have closed.

Radio Four stalwart Count Arthur Strong is to make the leap to TV – with a BBC2 sitcom shooting at the end of the year. Father Ted and The IT Crowd writer the great Graham Linehan is working on scripts for the show with the bumbling character's creator, Steve Delaney. In the new series, the aging thespian will be partnered with a character called Michael, who gets sucked into the madness after arriving to research a biography of his late father, who was once in a double-act with Strong. 'He thinks it will take a couple of days. But, Arthur being Arthur, it ends up taking far longer, and he has to move in with him, more or less,' Linehan told the Irish Times. 'Because Arthur can't be embarrassed, we needed someone embarrassed on his behalf. It won't be like Ted or even The IT Crowd. It's going to have its feet planted in the real world. Arthur will be the strangest thing about it. I'm really looking forward to getting to know Arthur better, creating an obstacle course for him to stumble on. Steve has an approach to Arthur that is instinctive and warm, and I'm looking forward to getting deeper into that.' Linehan compared Count Arthur to a British version of Sgt Bilko, 'except instead of trying to make one thousand dollars in Las Vegas he's trying to make fifty pounds collecting bottle tops.' The sitcom commission follows seven series of his Radio 4 show – and an abandoned idea to make a TV game show around the Count Arthur character, piloted two years ago but never broadcast.

Film director Ken Loach has criticised British film censors for asking him to remove swear words from his new film in order to qualify for a fifteen certificate. Because, of course, a week wouldn't be a week without some bitter old Red whinging about something, would it? Loach said that the British Board of Film Classification asked for cuts to some language in The Angel's Share. The British middle class is 'obsessed by what they call bad language,' he said at the Cannes Film Festival. Which is true. Buggers. The BBFC said that the film company 'chose' to reduce the number of uses of very strong language in order to get a fifteen. An eighteen certificate was available for the uncut version, they said. The Scotland-set comedy tells the story of young, unemployed father to be who discovers a talent for whisky tasting. It is in competition for the Palme d'Or, six years after Loach won the festival's top prize for The Wind That Shakes the Barley. The director said the BBFC should pay attention to 'the manipulative and deceitful language of politics' rather than 'our ancient oaths and swear words. The British middle class is obsessed by what they call bad language,' he told reporters. 'But of course bad language is manipulative language. They're very happy with that. But the odd oath, like a word that goes back to Chaucer's time, they ask you to cut.' The film's producer Rebecca O'Brien said the film's script represented 'natural' language spoken by young people. 'We have made films with heavy scenes of torture and waterboarding and fingernails being torn out - they have been fifteen certificates,' she said. 'If they're looking for diversity in Britain they should look no further than this film and Glasgow and see that there are different ways of speaking and see that that should be acceptable to all and sundry and should not be censored.' The film, Loach's eleventh in competition at Cannes, had its first screening on Monday with English subtitles for those unfamiliar with the strong central Scotland accents used by the cast. Loach said it would not have English subtitles for its British release. 'They were for the benefit of those for whom English is not their first language,' he said. Dear blog readers will noted that I'm avoiding all of the obvious jokes about their being plenty of parts of Great Britain where English is not their first language at this point,I hope. I have some dignity. Loach added: 'We did fight the matter quite hard because it's perfectly comprehensible.' Writer Paul Laverty admitted that he 'had no problem' with the subtitles. 'I think if someone genuinely can't catch it or understand it and it helps them, then I've got no problem with that. I think it's much better than someone trying to dilute their language or find some mid-Atlantic accent to suit the US.' The central role of Robbie, who comes up with a whisky scam which will see him and his oddball gang of misfit friends either rich or in jail, is played by newcomer Paul Brannigan. He was discovered working part-time as a football coach in a Glasgow community centre and said the character is 'not too far' from his own background, raised in a tough part of the city with few prospects. 'After this I'm unemployed, that's just the way it is right now,' he said. 'Paul found me and came with Ken and they saved me. Things were tough, I had no money, it was around Christmas time. I'd say hands-up he saved my life because I had nowhere to turn, got a kid, who knows what I'd have done for money?' The film is a broad comedy but writer Laverty insists the film reflects the huge scale of youth unemployment in the UK. 'You have to breathe in what's around you and you'd have to be blind not to notice this crisis in Scotland and around the world. I heard the figures, seventy five million fifteen to twenty four year olds out of work,' he said. 'That doesn't make a film but what we wanted to do was tap into that and go into the life of one young person.'

Shekih Yer Man City have won the Premier League title and are also top of the league of value for fans, according to the ING Direct Value table. The bank chart compares club season ticket costs with Premier League performance and entertainment value and getting the most points for your pound. ING places yer actual Queen's Park Strangers, who just avoided relegation, at the bottom of the table. Wigan, who had a great escape from relegation, are second best value, and West Bromwich Albinos third. Second bottom were Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws, whose eighth-place finish in the top flight, Carling Cup triumph and FA Cup final place were not enough to counteract a high season ticket cost, extravagant spending and poor scoring record. And Wolves found themselves in both the official and value for money relegation zones. The value league was compiled by comparing season ticket prices with points earned, and with a bonus for goals scored, deemed to affect fans' enjoyment of the game. Just under half of fans felt they received good value for money in the 2011-12 season, and as a result are seriously thinking about whether or not to renew their season ticket for the next campaign. However, it seems that clubs are listening to their concerns, with more than half of Premiership teams (twelve of the twenty) freezing or lowering their season ticket prices this year in an attempt to retain fans. Unsurprisingly, relegated Blackburn Vindaloos have the most disgruntled fans - many of whom have staged protests in the past season against owners Venky's and manager Steve Kean - with more than half of ticket holders (fifty six per cent) saying they will not renew. Aston Villa, who just avoided relegation and recently sacked their manager Alex McLeish, had just under a third of fans (thirty one per cent) saying they planned to cancel their tickets. But then, Villa's support has often been notoriously fickle. Two-thirds of supporters (sixty seven per cent) also say that a wage cap for Premier League footballers would be a positive move. The Arse captain Robin Van Persie topped the 'best value player' poll, followed by Newcastle United striker Demba Ba and Stottingtot Hotshots's Scott Parker. The report's compilation was overseen by Dr Steve Kelly from the University of Huddersfield, an expert in sports and club finance and structures.

A senior Olympic official was willing to sell thousands of pounds worth of 2012 tickets for cash, a BBC investigation has apparently revealed. Volodymyr Gerashchenko, of Ukraine's National Olympic Committee, told a reporter posing as a tout that he would have up to one hundred tickets to sell. It is a criminal offence, punishable by fines of up to twenty thousand smackers, to sell London 2012 tickets to touts. Gerashchenko claimed that he had 'never planned to sell tickets in the UK.' Strict rules, applying to countries outside the European Union, say tickets can only be sold to those who are resident within that country to stop tickets entering the black market. BBC London has previously uncovered how some official ticket resellers were flouting the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act, designed to stop Olympic tickets entering the black market. After receiving information that someone from Ukraine's national Olympic committee 'might be prepared' to sell tickets, a BBC reporter posing as an unauthorised ticket dealer spoke to Gerashchenko who confirmed that he 'would be prepared' to sell tickets. Gerashchenko, who has been general secretary of his national Olympic committee since 1997, told an undercover reporter: 'I understand you're a dealer - that's why for me, you are priority number one, the top, the person, in case we have extra tickets to contact you, we contact you.' During a subsequent meeting at a hotel near the Olympic Park in East London, Gerashchenko explained that he was in the process of 'distributing' tickets to Ukrainian fans, coaches and officials. However, once this process had finished, he would be prepared to sell up to one hundred 'spare' tickets. Asked by the undercover journalist if payment could be made by bank transfer he replied: 'I think it is when it comes, better cash. Possible? Better cash and finished with it. I hope to arrive 10 July.' When asked by the BBC why he was prepared to break Olympic rules and UK law in offering his country's Olympic tickets on the black market, Gerashchenko claimed he had 'never planned to sell tickets in the UK' and had been making 'diplomatic talk to satisfy the persistent interest of the ticket dealer.' He said: 'We have more demand than the number of tickets so we will use all tickets allocated to the NOC of Ukraine. We will need more tickets and we will try to find them on the LOCOG Exchange page.' Gerashchenko said that the meeting with the undercover reporter 'was unofficial, with no intention to make any real deal,' either in writing or verbally. He added: 'All points that [the reporter] mentioned were not [the] subject of any deal. I have nothing to propose. I did not have real tickets to sell. I agreed to do this meeting only for the reason not to offend the person from the host-country who asked me several times for a meeting.' Former Olympic Minister Tessa Jowell MP has now called for an investigation. 'I think it's shocking, here's somebody who's exploiting the system and if the charge against them is proven, the sanctions are very heavy,' she said. A spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee said: 'We take these allegations very seriously indeed. If proven we will not hesitate to impose tough sanctions.' Jeremy Summers, an expert in sports law who provided legal counsel at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, told BBC London the latest revelations were 'particularly embarrassing' for the IOC. 'The IOC tried to sharpen its act for itself and the various other Olympic committees, following the scandals of the late 1990s' (namely, allegations of bribery to win the right to host the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City). 'We've given a higher allocation of tickets to the NOCs than we've ever done before. It looks like it stinks. It's something you shouldn't be seeing happening.' Olympic organisers, Locog and officers from the Metropolitan Police's dedicated Operation Podium team have vowed to clamp down on unauthorised ticket reselling, which is expected to soar after the last remaining tickets go on sale to the public this week. A London 2012 spokesperson said: 'We take these allegations extremely seriously. We have asked the BBC for full access to the evidence and we will investigate straight away. If these allegations are true, we are prepared to take tough and immediate action.' A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: 'We have made contact with BBC London as we would like to see all of the material which they have so that we can carry out a full assessment of it. Until we have seen this it is difficult for us to comment further. The safest way for the public to purchase tickets for the Olympic and Paralympic Games is from the London 2012 website,' Scotland Yard added. 'If you buy from an unofficial site or from a tout, you risk paying over the odds for a ticket that may not exist, may not be genuine and you risk not getting to see the Games. Your personal details could even be used in other crimes.' Ukraine secured twenty seven medals at the Beijing games, ranking the country at number eleven in the world in terms of medal achievement.

The inventor of the television remote control has died at the age of ninety six, his former employer has said. Zenith Electronics said Eugene Polley died of natural causes on Sunday at a Chicago hospital. His 1955 invention, Flash-Matic, pointed a beam of light at photo cells on each corner of the TV, turning it off and on and changing the channels. His invention was a luxury add-on in the days before hundreds of cable television channels. Born in Chicago in 1915, Polley began his engineering career in 1935. He worked at Zenith for forty seven years, earning eighteen US patents. He was a long-time resident of Lombard, Illinois. Because the Flash-Matic used light to operate the television, it was temperamental and other lights could interfere with its operation. It was followed by sonic-controlled remotes and then infrared and radio frequency models. Before Polley's invention, Zenith's first remote was connected to the television by a wire cord. Polley was proud of his invention, Zenith spokesman John Taylor told the Associated Press, showing off the Flash-Matic to visitors after his retirement. 'He was a proud owner of a flat-screen TV and modern remote,' Taylor added. 'He always kept his original remote control with him.' Along with another Zenith engineer, Robert Adler, Polley was honoured in 1997 with an EMMY for his work.

A man has been charged with the theft of a guitar belonging to country singer Hank Williams Jr, police in Nashville, Tennessee have told the Associated Press news agency. Worth fifteen thousand dollars, the custom-made 1968 Les Paul vanished from the musician's cabin in July 2010. Hank Williams Jr is the son of country pioneer Hank Williams. Adam Dale Broach, of Notasulga, Alabama, was arrested on Sunday 20 May by the Pike County's Sheriff's office. He has been charged with first-degree theft of property, AP reported.

Tributes have continued to be paid to Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb following his death on Sunday at the age of sixty two. The Who's Roger Daltrey said Gibb was 'a lovely, lovely guy,' while Labour leader Ed Milimolimandi said he would be 'remembered for his incredible gifts.' Flowers were left on The Bee Gees' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in LA. Floral tributes were also placed by fans outside his home in Thame, Oxfordshire. Daltrey praised the sensitivity of Gibb's vocals. 'I hear everyone talking about the success of their career but I haven't heard many talk about him as a singer and I used to think he was one of the best,' he said. 'To me, singing is about moving people and Robin's voice had something about it that could move me and, I'm sure, millions of others. It was almost like his heart was on the outside.' Gibb died at the London Clinic following a long fight with cancer. His second wife Dwina, sons Spencer and Robin-John and daughter Melissa were at his bedside.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping 45 of the Day. And, we might as well have another one from Robin, Maurice and Barry. Because they were, after all, a bit good. This is one from their first golden period.

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