Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Time For Truth

Let's start off today's bloggerisationisms with a bit of yer actual proper good news. The BBC will drop controversial plans to share afternoon shows between its local radio stations with the total amount of cuts halved to eight million knicker a year from the originally proposed fifteen million smackers. This local radio cuts U-turn, which had been much anticipated following comments by BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten earlier this year, came after protests by many listeners - including this blogger - and MPs over the scale of the proposed savings announced last year. The savings will now be around half of the originally proposed amount, with the impact on stations' content reduced from eight and half million quid to just over two million. Which is still, of course, a hell of a lot of money, but it's a lot better than what it might have been. The majority of the BBC's forty local radio stations in England - including yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved BBC Newcastle - will retain their own afternoon programmes (in BBC Newcastle's case, my old mate the very excellent Si Logan's show) with what are claimed to be 'far fewer cuts' to journalists and reporting staff. Importantly, sport and other community output, which some station managers feared would suffer as a result of the changes, will also be given more protection than originally envisaged. But, it's not all good news, the BBC will still go ahead with - frankly daft - plans to share output on weekday evenings with a new 'Radio England' programme between 7pm and 10pm, with opt-outs for live sport and local news. The BBC Trust confirmed the scaling-back of the cuts on Wednesday, following a public consultation over the proposals and a separate consultation on the future of its local radio services. Spending on local radio was reviewed along with the rest of the corporation's output as part of BBC director general Mark Thompson's Delivering Quality First initiative following the 2010 funding deal with the government, which saw the licence fee frozen at £145.50 until 2017 – a sixteen per cent cut in real terms. A deal which has, in recent weeks, become the subject of much debate on the exact circumstances behind it.

Sherlock star yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch has described Sherlock Holmes as sociopathic. Fair comment, I guess. He's certainly not the sort of bloke you'd turn your back on if he's got a knife. Cumberbatch explained to Hero Complex that Holmes is unlike many other fictional heroes because he doesn't purposefully rely on personal charm to crack cases. 'If he's charismatic, it's an accident of who he is. He's an odd entity,' the actor told the magazine. He added of Holmes: 'He's sociopathic and there is a vicarious thrill you get watching someone who carves his way through bureaucracy and mediocrity like a hot knife through butter.' Cumberbatch also discussed his approach to playing such an iconic character. 'I view it like any of the classical characters in the canon of Shakespeare or Chekhov, there will always be new interpretations,' he said. 'I think Holmes is the fictional character who has been [in screen incarnations] the most. I'm seventy sixth or something? People compare you to others and that's fine, I can deal with that.'
BBC1 legal drama Silk made an impressive return on Tuesday night, being watched by over 5.6m overnight viewers. The Rupert Penry-Jones and Maxime Peake drama opened its second series with 5.63m in the 9pm hour, three hundred thousand punters up on its premiere episode last February. BBC1's dramas have enjoyed an impressive run of form in the previously-troublesome Tuesday peak time slot, with The Syndicate regularly pulling in over five million viewers recently. Silk's nearest competitor was ITV's Dirty Britain, which was watched by 2.82m and two hundred thousand viewers on ITV+1, not all that far ahead of BBC2's Great Ormond Street (2.02m) and Channel Five's CSI (1.72m). Meanwhile, a CSI-themed night on Five concluded with CSI: NY picking up 1.29m at 10pm. Overall, BBC1 won primetime easily with 24.8 per cent against ITV's really not very good at all 12.4 per cent.
Parliament should delay publishing papers relating to the lack of culture secretary's handling of News Corp's BSkyB takeover bid, Brian Leveson had said. He claimed it should wait until the issues surrounding the vile and odious rascal Hunt's links to the firm have been 'tackled' by his inquiry. His comment follows criticism that the work of MPs is being blocked. The vile and odious rascal Hunt has promised to disclose texts and e-mails between him and his former special - single 'rogue' - adviser Adam Smith, who has resigned, to the inquiry. In a statement to his inquiry, Lord Justice Leveson says he 'was not in any way' seeking to challenge the right of Parliament to examine any of the issues his inquiry has or will cover. Commons speaker John Bercow has suggested that the vile and odious rascal Hunt cannot refuse to answer questions from MPs about his conduct. Labour has claimed contacts between the vile and odious rascal Hunt and News Corp were too close. 'BSkyB, it is a matter for Parliament to decide how far it is appropriate to question the Secretary of State or anyone else,' Lord Justice Leveson said. 'It is open to the prime minister to take whatever steps he wishes in relation to allegations concerning one of his ministers and equally open to MPs to ask whatever questions they wish in connection with the performance of their duties.' Earlier, the Press Complaints Commission's former chairman Lord Wakeham claimed that the body had 'lost respect' as it no longer got high-profile complaints. He told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards the Human Rights Act meant the rich and famous now sought privacy cases in the courts. He said he once insisted Buckingham Palace complain about the printing of a topless photograph of a future royal so the PCC could deal with the case. The peer, in charge from 1995-2002, said the PCC had been 'destroyed.' Lord Wakeham told the inquiry: 'The respect of the PCC has gone down in recent years because they haven't had the high profile complaints they used to.' He said the Human Rights Act had effectively introduced a privacy law which had reduced the standing of the PCC as high-profile cases were taken to the courts instead. The act was a 'vehicle for the rich' which left the poor with no remedy, he said. He said the PCC was the best way of protecting the public and he did not want to see it destroyed in the way it had been in the last few years. Giving evidence at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, he recalled personally handling some high-profile complaints. He said he once called the Royal Family to insist they complain about the publication of topless photographs of a future royal in a Sunday newspaper. 'There was an almighty dither, nothing was happening. I rang them again,' he said. 'I wanted them to say this is a matter for the PCC. I said I'm issuing a statement saying I'm expecting a complaint from the Palace.' He said the Royal Family then complained and within twenty four hours the editor of the paper had issued an apology. Lord Wakeham also recalled occasionally calling newspaper proprietors and editors to discuss stories. He said that he once phoned billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch to complain about a photograph in the Scum of the World taken over the wall of a private hospital showing the then Countess Spencer. The paper's then editor the vile and odious oily Piers Morgan was then publicly criticised by the tycoon. 'It was outrageous that it should be done. [Murdoch] made the statement that ... it was unacceptable, and that sent a message round that we were not to be trifled with,' the peer said. Leveson has said the vile and odious rascal Hunt, his former special adviser Adam Smith and News Corp lobbyist Frédéric Michel would all give evidence to the inquiry into press ethics in the next fortnight. The judge's announcement came as he called on parliament not to demand publication of written evidence submitted to him relating to the controversial emails written by Michel, which prompted calls for Hunt to resign. Making a special address to his own inquiry, Leveson asked that MPs wait for the three to give evidence 'by the end of May.' He asked that Commons Speaker John Bercow did not insist on the publication of fresh documentation before the cabinet minster appears. Although Bercow can use a Speaker's order to force disclosure, Leveson said that he hoped there would be 'sufficient respect' for the Leveson inquiry to prevent 'disruption' of its work. Leveson made his statement in response to a declaration on Monday by the Speaker who said parliament should be pre-eminent and that any 'written documents' supplied by the minister to the inquiry should be shared with the Commons as 'a courtesy to the house.' He warned MPs that if the Speaker or the Commons insisted on publishing evidence sent by the lack of culture secretary before it he had appeared at the Leveson inquiry, he might be forced to abandon the questioning of the vile and odious rascal Hunt, Michel and Smith on their roles in News Corp's eight billion smackers bid for BSkyB. The Labour party has already called for the vile and odious rascal Hunt to resign, branding Michel's e-mails written to his boss James Murdoch the small as 'evidence' that the lack of culture secretary was 'biassed' toward Rupert Murdoch in relation to the proposed takeover. The vile and odious rascal Hunt has denied that he was party to 'any improper briefing' of News Corp, but his special adviser Adam Smith resigned last month. Michel said most of his actual communication was with the special adviser, and the vile and odious rascal Hunt concluded that the 'volume and tone' of those contacts were 'inappropriate.' Leveson has already refused any attempt by Downing Street to get the vile and odious rascal Hunt's testimony brought forward and on Tuesday Leveson said he will approach the inquiry from a 'non-partisan judicial perspective.' He reiterated his determination not to be drawn into a political debate about the e-mails released by James Murdoch the small as part of his testimony into the inquiry. The judge said that he was approaching the subject in a 'neutral' fashion and although his investigations may look at the ministerial code and its efficacy, he would not be making any judgment on the issue. 'I do not intend to consider, let alone adjudicate, on the issue of whether the house has been mislead,' said Leveson. Leveson said he feels it is 'appropriate' to look at the BSkyB bid including the e-mails from Michel but said that 'it is a matter for parliament to decide how far either the secretary of state or anyone else should go,' in terms of disclosure. But he said it was important that evidence was released to the inquiry first as this would mean no core witnesses would testify to the backdrop of a politically partisan debate. 'The inquiry permits the public examination of this material in an independent impartial manner, visible to all as it happens,' said Leveson.

The 'slumber party' the former prime minister's wife Sarah Brown hosted for guests including Wendi Deng, the wife of billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks was 'completely bonkers', Sky News political editor Adam Boulton told the Leveson inquiry. The veteran TV journalist said during his appearance at the inquiry as a witness on Tuesday afternoon that he 'could not believe it' when he heard about the party from a then cabinet minister in 2008. 'At the time I just thought this is completely bonkers that this sort of intimacy is being indulged in by the prime minister and his wife and a proprietor and his wife. I thought it would end in tears,' added Boulton. Asked if he felt relations between newspaper proprietors had become so close that there was a level of 'carelessness' involved, he said that he did. Boulton said he was also 'surprised' to see a succession of prime ministers and opposition leaders turn up at the News Corporation annual summer party. News Corp owns thirty nine per cent of Sky News parent company BSkyB. 'I see nothing wrong in holding a party or inviting people to it, but I was a little surprised that they all felt compelled to turn up,' he added. Sarah Brown, the then prime minister's wife, hosted a 'slumber party' at Chequers attended by Brooks, Murdoch's wife Wendi Deng, and his daughter Elisabeth in 2008. Last month Rupert Murdoch, the News Corp chairman and chief executive, told the Leveson inquiry that it was probably nothing more than 'a bunch of women complaining about their husbands' like this was all some big joke. One wonders if the billionaire tyrant will be chuckling quite so much when Ofcom deliver their verdict on whether he's a 'fit and proper' person to run a multi-national media organisation. Or, indeed, a piss up in a brewery. Smug Boulton, who has been at Sky for twenty three years as Uncle Rupert's own personal rottweiler, claimed that he has only met Murdoch three times and, even then, it was in the company of others. He told Leveson he was resolutely opposed to becoming 'pally' with politicians because it was 'inappropriate.' He said relations between the press and politicians hit a new low during the Tony Blair/Alastair Campbell era. 'Things there were handed out as favours,' he claimed in reference to political briefings orchestrated by Campbell, Blair's director of communications. His remarks come a day after Campbell told Leveson that he came to 'loathe' some journalists during his time at No 10. There is little love lost between Campbell and Boulton, of course – shortly after the 2010 general election they were involved in a bad-tempered, if hilarious, on-air row. Boulton said: 'Increasingly there was a sense that you could not really trust what we were being told.' This lack of trust 'had led to the breakdown of political confidence.' He added that good old-fashioned journalistic tools such as 'doorstepping' flourished under Maggie Thatcher in the 1980s and early 90s and elicited some of her most famous headlines, including We are a grandmother in 1989 and her exhortation to the nation to 'Rejoice, rejoice' when South Georgia was recaptured in the Falklands in 1982. 'I am the only person to doorstep the Queen and get her to talk about politics. I regard that as legitimate journalism,' Notlob said. The Blair era heralded a new modus operandi, according to Boulton. Blair refused to answer questions as he was going in and out of No 10 Downing Street, he said, and held 'a dim view' of journalists, whom he was later to describe as 'feral beasts.' Boulton told Leveson that he had experienced doorstepping first hand when his first marriage broke up. 'As it happens I make no complaint about that. I think journalists do have to go to quite long and great extents to get stories but it's not a pleasant process.' He said Blair, however, 'loved' to make the headlines and the now notorious claims that Iraq could bomb Britain within forty five minutes was a typical attempt by his spin doctors at No 10 to make the news.

Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks has criticised the decision to charge her with three counts of conspiracy to obstruct the course of justice, describing the case against her as 'an expensive sideshow' and a 'waste of public money.' Which might be true but, frankly, that's for a jury to decide now so further comment would appear to be somewhat redundant. Looking tired and nervous, the former News International chief executive chose to speak after her husband, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie, making a set of brief remarks in which she attacked the Crown Prosecution Service's decision to bring charges on Tuesday morning. The decision to charge Brooks with perverting the course of justice is a landmark moment in a scandal with a seemingly endless catalogue of previous landmark moments - and a further pointer to the unprecedented nature of an affair stretching back almost six years. Some commentators have argued that the public have become bored with the often arcane nature of the phone-hacking articles in recent months. The evidence presented to the Leveson inquiry, so riveting for journalists, has also often appeared opaque to the outsider. Nevertheless, there's nothing the public enjoy more than a nice juicy court case. Owen Bowcott, the Gruniad Morning Star's legal affairs correspondent, attempted to educate his readership on the potential sentences for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice: 'The maximum sentence that a judge can impose on a defendant convicted of perverting the course of justice is life imprisonment' he wrote with some obvious glee. 'It is a common law offence that must be tried before a jury in a crown court. But the average sentence being served by those jailed for the offence, according to Ministry of Justice figures from December 2010, was only ten months. Curiously, the average for women – 12.3 months – was higher than for men – 9.6 months.' If found guilty, Rebekah and Charlie Brooks and the others charged with with perverting the course of justice 'are likely to face an immediate custodial sentence.' That's do jail to you and men. The couple issued a statement deploring what they said was 'weak and unjust decision' to charge them. 'A 2007 appeal judgment said that the appropriate sentence should depend on three determinants,' Bowcott continued. 'The "seriousness of the substantive offence to which the perverting of the course of justice related, the degree of persistence and the effect of the attempt to pervert the course of justice on the course of justice itself." According to Archbold, the criminal lawyers' reference book, the normal range in sentencing those guilty of concealing evidence is between four and eighteen months – but longer in more serious cases. The millionaire novelist - and convicted liar - Lord Archer received four years in prison for perverting the course of justice by concealing the existence of a diary, in 2001. He was also imprisoned for several offences of perjury.'

Children's programmes will no longer be shown on BBC1 and BBC2 following the digital switchover, the BBC Trust has confirmed. Award-winning shows such as Horrible Histories and Blue Peter will move permanently to CBBC and CBeebies. No date has been set for the change, but the final analogue transmitters will be switched off in Northern Ireland on 10 October. The confirmation came in a report approving the BBC's cost-cutting plans. Spending on children's programmes will not be affected, and the move is unlikely to be detrimental to viewing figures. In recent months, the number of young people watching children's programmes on the BBC's main terrestrial channels has occasionally dropped as low as one thousand. Figures on digital have steadily increased since its introduction of CBBC and CBeebies in 2002. A Trust spokesperson said: 'Children's programmes are absolutely fundamental to the BBC and that is why we have protected investment in them in the light of cuts elsewhere. Only a very small percentage of children still solely watch these programmes on BBC1 and BBC2 alone, so moving them to digital channels is merely following current viewing patterns and reflects the fact that CBeebies and CBBC will be universally available on digital TV from the end of this year.'

The BBC has promised viewers they will 'never miss a moment' of the London Olympics as it unveiled full details of its two thousand five hundred hours of TV, radio and online coverage headed by Gary Lineker and Sue Barker. London Olympics coverage will be on a total of twenty six TV channels, three radio stations and online, including blanket coverage on BBC1 and BBC3. Match of the Day presenter Lineker will host the main evening coverage on BBC1 with Barker anchoring the flagship channel's live afternoon show. The opening and closing ceremonies will be in the hands of BBC1's 10pm anchor, Huw Edwards. (As predicted by Doctor Who as long ago as 2006, incidentally!) Other presenters viewers will get to see plenty of on BBC1 during the Olympics include Clare Balding, Hazel Irvine, Gabby Logan and The ONE Show co-host Matt Baker. BBC3's Olympic coverage will be anchored by Formula 1 presenter Jake Humphrey. Radio 1 chart show host Reggie Yates and former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan are also part of the BBC team, along with former Olympians such as Sir Matthew Pinsent and Jonathan Edwards. BBC1 will be devoted almost entirely to the Olympics for all seventeen days of the games with regular BBC1 shows such as EastEnders switched to BBC2. The main channels will be complemented by a further twenty four dedicated Olympic digital services available on satellite, cable and online via the BBC red button. Between them the twenty six TV channels will broadcast a total of twenty five hundred hours of sporting action — a thousand more than from Beijing in 2008 – out of an estimated three thousand hours of total Olympics competition. Flagship events, including the men's 100m final, will also be broadcast in 3D for the first time and in 'super HD' at specific venues. The BBC's director London 2012, Roger Mosey, said at the corporation's Olympics launch on Tuesday that its coverage would show that the 'claimed obsolescence of the BBC is nonsense.' He said that the theme of the BBC's programming would be that viewers will 'never miss a moment.' As the event's host broadcaster the BBC's pictures will also be seen by hundreds of millions of viewers around the world. BBC Radio 5Live's Olympics programming will be led by Mark Pougatch. Coverage will also feature on digital station 5Live Sports Extra and a temporary digital radio station, 5Live Olympic Extra. The twenty four streamed TV channels will be four times as many as the BBC has previously broadcast during the Wimbledon tennis championships. The BBC will have cameras at all thirty two venues, covering twenty six Olympic sports and thirty nine disciplines. Action not broadcast by the BBC will include some tennis matches — it will broadcast a maximum of five at any time — and preliminary rounds in events such as shooting. Many of the extra digital channels will broadcast live uninterrupted coverage of events, often without commentary. The BBC will provide extra on-screen information about each sport, helping viewers with disciplines with which they may be less familiar, and alert them to the big events of the day with an interactive online video player. BBC1's coverage will only be interrupted for its lunchtime and evening news bulletins, when its Olympics programming will switch to BBC2. In the coming weeks the BBC's Olympics website will broadcast continuous coverage of the torch relay around the country.

Broadcasting group Channel Four saw profits increase in 2011, despite a downturn in advertising and a forty two million smackers loss at its flagship terrestrial channel. The group posted pre-tax profits of forty four million quid in its annual report. The report showed the success of The Inbetweeners Movie and an improved performance by its digital channels helped boost revenue. The main terrestrial channel's loss was driven by a drop in advertising over the twelve month period. It coincided with the channel's first year without long-running show Big Brother. Last year, the channel lost £7.7m but in 2009, it posted a loss of £54.9m. The success of The Inbetweeners was a big boost to the group, which became the most successful British comedy to date, making forty five million knicker at the box office. More than two million DVDs have also been sold. Channel Four group chairman, David Abraham, told the Gruniad that its terrestrial channel's year-on-year decline was the smallest for five years. 'To experience the lowest level of decline for five years in the first year without Big Brother is an immense achievement,' he said. Spending on entertainment and comedy was increased in 2011, although there was a decline in the amount used for film and drama programming, largely due to a reduction in the number of US shows it bought in. Spending on factual programmes also decreased, mainly due to the loss of Big Brother. The focus in the coming year will be original content, with a planned budget of about four hundred and fifty million notes for programmes made in the UK. This will be the biggest investment in the group's history. 'Many organisations will try to weather the economic storms by pulling back investment,' said the group's chairman, Lord Burns. 'The Channel Four Board, however, had taken a longer view: we believe the right thing for Channel Four is to increase content investment in 2012.' There will be an increase in one-off single dramas and drama serials, such as Coup - a four-part political thriller starring Gabriel Byrne - and Complicit, which will examine whether torture is ever justified in the war on terror. New entertainment shows will include vehicles for comedians such as the occasionally funny but mostly annoying Micky Flanagan with The Mad Bad Ad Show and Lee Kerns's Massive Thing. A sequel to the iconic children's animation The Snowman will also be broadcast.

Aaron Sorkin is to write the script for Sony Pictures' upcoming biopic of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. The film is based on Walter Isaacson's authorised biography and is unconnected to another proposed screen biopic, to which Ashton Kutcher has been linked. The West Wing creator Sorkin won an Oscar in 2011 for writing The Social Network. Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal said there was 'no writer working in Hollywood today who is more capable of capturing such an extraordinary life. In his hands, we're confident that the film will be everything that Jobs himself was: captivating, entertaining and polarising,' she continued. It was reported last month that Two and a Half Men actor Kutcher would play Jobs in a film directed by Joshua Michael Stern. Production is scheduled to begin this month on the film said to follow Jobs' progression from 'wayward hippie to revered creative entrepreneur.' Sorkin is also the creator of upcoming and much-anticipated HBO series The Newsroom, a behind the scenes look at a fictional cable news channel starring Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer. He is also writing a new stage musical about the illusionist Harry Houdini, to open in Broadway in 2013 or 2014 with Hugh Jackman in the lead. Jobs, the former chief executive of and driving force behind US technology giant Apple, died last October aged fifty six.

Alleged television psychic Derek Acorah has claimed that Madeleine McCann is dead, after an alleged messenger from The Spirit World allegedly told him. Allegedly. 'She's not on this earth any more,' the alleged psychic claimed. The alleged medium, who has allegedly 'sickened' the McCann family with his predictions, said that the little girl would, allegedly, soon be reincarnated after allegedly joining the 'spirit world.' Acorah, sixty two, said: 'I know her parents are convinced Maddie is alive and I'm really sorry – but the little one has been over in the spirit world for some time.' In a thoroughly bizarre interview, based on information Acorah claimed that he had received from a spirit guide, he told the Sun newspaper: 'I don't think it'll be long before she reincarnates. When children pass over who haven't had full lives I believe they choose the time to come back in the same form again – as another little girl.' The alleged newspaper then quoted an alleged 'source' close to the McCann family as allegedly saying: 'Kate and Gerry are sickened. This character Derek Acorah is nothing but a self-publicist. It's incredibly distasteful and insensitive.' A spokesman for the couple added: 'Kate and Gerry believe their daughter is alive and the Metropolitan Police are currently pursuing an investigation to that effect. If anyone credible has any credible evidence that she is alive they would come forward.' Acorah, who used to appear on the television show Most Haunted, added he was 'surprised' that his comments had upset Madeleine's family. 'I would hate to offend or upset the McCanns as a parent myself,' he said. He has claimed that he received his alleged 'information' from 'a spirit messenger called Sam,' shortly after Madeleine vanished from a Portugal holiday resort five years ago. He claimed that he had been 'asked' to travel there to assist with the search, although he did not say by whom, and then claimed that had 'contacted' Sam to seek guidance before leaving. He said: 'I sat in my meditation room and I asked the spirit world and Sam confirmed she was dead. It is horrible but he said there was no purpose for me to go there.' Acorah added that he did not travel to the Praia da Luz resort to spare the McCann family 'any unnecessary suffering.' Which was, of course, nice of him. 'I wasn't going to bring extra misery to them,' he said. He just thought he'd do that now. 'I do know that they will find out what happened to Maddie one day.' Acorah, who made his comments to the Sun while promoting his latest tour, is proclaimed 'without question, the number one television psychic in the UK' on his website. He rose to fame on Most Haunted, where he claimed to be able to 'communicate' with spirits, before being sacked from the programme in 2005 after the show's resident parapsychologist Dr Ciaran O'Keeffe exposed a series of alleged naughty shenanigans and goings on. Nevertheless, he moving on to present Derek Acorah's Ghost Towns and, in 2009, the quite remarkable Michael Jackson: The Search For His Spirit, quite possibly the sickest, and certainly one of the most unintentionally hilarious programmes in the history of television.

An official Coronation Street stage musical, which has been performed just twice, has had its future dates postponed so that the show can be reworked. Street of Dreams featured comedian Paul O'Grady and some of the previous stars of the soap including Julie Goodyear and Kym Marsh. It opened in Manchester to mixed reviews last week and was due to tour to Dublin, Belfast and Newcastle. But producers said they were 'now keen to revisit the production and further develop ideas for the UK tour.' Street of Dreams was an all-singing, all-dancing arena show with West End-style musical numbers about iconic characters such as Elsie Tanner and Hilda Ogden. It featured appearances from Goodyear, who played Bet Lynch, plus Kevin Kennedy, better known as Curly Watts, as well as O'Grady as the narrator and a cast of thirty dancers. The Gruniad praised its 'wonderful' dialogue but the Daily Torygraph, sour=faced as ever, gave it two stars out of five and criticised 'the lameness of the script.' The Daily Mirra said it had 'a script that seemed more cobbled together than constructed.' Production company Reckless Entertainment, it would seem, agrees and said that the dates would be rescheduled 'very soon,' adding: 'The producers would like to apologise to those who have already bought a ticket for the original tour dates and ask that they contact the venue directly.' Theatre industry website The Stage claimed that it had seen an e-mail to cast and crew from co-producer John Ward saying the production team were 'far from happy with the show artistically and we are not prepared to take it out again in its present form.' The musical was written by Ward's composer sister Trisha and co-produced by ITV Studios. Before the show opened in Manchester, Coronation Street executive producer Kieran Roberts told BBC News it was 'an amazing show,' which he hoped would provide a new source of income for ITV. 'We've had to be very careful and not get caught up in a purely commercial argument because there's a danger that the show wouldn't work,' he said. 'Hopefully, when this show's established, it will also [work] commercially and provide an interesting new revenue stream for ITV.'

The new England manager Roy Hodgson has confirmed that John Terry will travel to Poland and the Ukraine as part of his squad for the European Championship, while Rio Ferdinand will stay at home. Hodgson also underlined his determination to usher in a new generation of England players by including The Arse's eighteen-year-old winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in his Euro 2012 squad. Despite speculation to the contrary, Paul Scholes has not been tempted out of international retirement, while his team-mate Michael Carrick is not even on the standby list. The Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws winger Stewart Downing and his team-mate Andy Carroll will also be travelling to the championships despite mixed seasons for their club following big money moves. Moscow Chelskia's Daniel Sturridge and the Stottingtot Hotshots winger Aaron Lennon are among those who have also missed out, although the former is one of five players on standby. With Wayne Rooney suspended for the first two group matches, Carroll, The Scum's Danny Welbeck and the Spurs striker Jermain Defoe will compete to start the matches against France and Sweden. Rooney will return for the final match against the Ukraine. As expected, the new England manager left Ferdinand out of his provisional twenty three man squad – effectively ending his international career. The former England captain Terry, who is facing a court appearance after the tournament in the face of claims that he racially abused Ferdinand's brother, the QPR defender Anton, has made the cut as one of seven defenders. Terry denies the charges. It was the FA's decision to strip Terry of the captaincy that led to the departure of Fabio Capello in February and created the vacancy filled by Hodgson earlier this month. The retention of Terry, who met with Hodgson on Monday at Moscow Chelski's training ground, and the absence of Ferdinand will ensure that the swirl of controversy that surrounds the Moscow Chelski FC player will continue for the duration of the tournament. Hodgson – appointed earlier this month with just weeks to spare before England's opening game of the tournament against France in the Ukraine on 11 June – has also selected Downing despite the winger's underwhelming first season with the Merseyside club. And his seeming inability to cross a ball, a bit of a drawback in any winger. While not quite as much of a surprise as Sven-Goran Eriksson's selection of Theo Walcott – also in today's squad – for the 2006 World Cup, the wildcard pick of Oxlade-Chamberlain will divide opinion. Despite winning plaudits for his speed and skill, Oxlade-Chamberlain has started only six matches in the Premier League and Arsène Wenger has used him sparingly. Neither Lennon nor Carrick have even made the standby list, while Jordan Henderson – yet another who has had an indifferent start to his Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws career – is one of five on the list. England face two warm-up games before their first match against France, playing Norway in Oslo on 26 May and Belgium at Wembley on 2 June. Hodgson this week appointed Gary Neville as a coach on his backroom staff.
Underwear which supposedly once belonged to Queen Elizabeth has been put up for sale on eBay. No jokes about 'taking it down', please. The auction site listing describes the item as 'a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire and own a piece of collectable Royal memorabilia.' The knickers are said to be embroidered with a letter 'E' and an image of a crown. They have a twenty six-inch waist and are sixteen inches long. The estate of Hungarian Baron Joseph de Bicske Dobronyi is selling the item, and has claimed that it was left on a private aeroplane during the Queen's visit to Chile in 1968. Presumably after the intervention of The Royal We. Buckingham Palace has not confirmed whether the garment, described as an 'item that has been previously used,' is authentic. Or, if the whole story is just pants.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. This one, from Johnny Reggae seems somewhat appropriate.

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