Thursday, May 03, 2012

Papiss Names The Planets

That goal, right, that goal was poetry. It was a tone poem to artistry, dear blog reader. To flair, to enigma, to genius. It was a thing of extraordinary, delicate, fragile, iridescent beauty.
... and the second one wasn't bad either.

Out! Of! This! World! Thank God Chris Kamara wasn't at Torpedo Stamford Bridge last night, he'd probably have spontaneously combusted! There is, incidentally, an excellent piece by the BBC's Phil McNulty on the way in which Papiss Cisse's second goal at Moscow Chelski FC sums up Newcastle's entire season to date, which you can read here. 'In an exhibitionist show of confidence and natural gifts, the ten million pound January buy from Bundesliga side Freiburg swerved a half-volley with the outside of his right foot that weaved through the air like a guided missile with enough height, power and perfect direction to leave Chelsea keeper Petr Cech stranded as it hit the net high behind him. Alan Pardew's face was a mask of delight and disbelief. Newcastle United's manager shook his head in the direction of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and mouthed the words: "Unbelievable."'

The France Four network is to celebrate the arrival of series six of Doctor Who to the channel with a special La Nuit Docteur Qui? to be held on Saturday 19 May. Whether it will include Bill Bailey's version of the theme tune as Belgian jazz, we don't know. But, just in case it doesn't here it is anyway! As well as the first four episodes of the series, L'Astronaute Impossible, Jour De La Lune, La Malédiction De La Tache Noire and L'épouse Du Docteur, the channel will be showing some episodes from the classic series, the Tom Baker stories Genèse Des Daleks and Ville De La Mort and the 1964 William Hartnell story Le Bord De La Destruction. Right, dear blog reader, off with ye to BabelFish to work out what they are! Alain Carrazé and Romain Nigita will present a series of reports looking at the Docteur Qui? phenomenon, investigating the origins of the series, profiling the Doctors and Companions and looking to see what the future holds for le seigneur du temps. Interviewed during the night will be Russell Davies, Steven Moffat, Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, John Barrowman, Freema Agyeman, Derek Jacobi and Doctor Who Magazine editor Tom Spilsbury as well as French fans of the show like François Descraques or Davy Mourier. A visit to the Doctor Who Experience in London is also included. La Nuit Docteur Qui? is produced by Eight Art Media and filmed partly at the Palais de la Découverte in Paris, and will be presented by Louise Ekland. A full episode listing can be found on This Week in Doctor Who.

Some of the stars of The West Wing - the greatest TV show in the history of the medium (that doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title) have reunited for a new Funny or Die video. Martin Sheen, Dulé Hill, Allison Janney, William Duffy, Joshua Malina and Melissa Fitzgerald reprise their West Wing roles in a sketch promoting the 'EveryBody Walk' exercise campaign. The scene spoofs The West Wing's famous 'peda-conferencing' scenes where characters would explain important plot points while hurrying down the White House's hallways. The West Wing's most famous storylines are referenced in the spoof, including President Bartlett wondering aloud where his dead secretary Mrs Landingham is. 'EveryBody Walk' is an online campaign which encourages Americans to improve their overall health by walking thirty minutes a day, five days a week. The West Wing, created by Aaron Sorkin, earned twenty six Emmys and three Golden Globes in its seven-season run. And, the show's eighth series is, effectively, being played out in real-life by the current US administration. only without Josh and Donna 'shippers getting pissed around for seven years, of course.
But, hang on. Isn't CJ supposed to be making babies with Danny in California and Will's in Congress now? I'm all confused. Think I'll go for a walk.

Benedict Cumberbatch has said that he finds, ahem, 'explicit' Sherlock fan fiction to be 'flattering.' That's porn, just in case you were wondering, dear blog reader. Much of it, admittedly, very good porn, but porn none the less. The actor, who plays the titular role in the BBC drama, revealed that he was alerted to the 'racy' stories by his co-star Martin Freeman, who discovered them while in New Zealand shooting The Hobbit. Well, there's not much else to do when you're stuck in New Zealand other than search the Internet for porn, really. 'I am startlingly aware of it. I don't go seeking it, but Martin Freeman, who was an absolute Luddite on the first series, suddenly came back from New Zealand and he had this beautiful Mac with him and said, "Hey, look at this Tumblr." And I said, "What? Tumblr?"' Cumberbatch recalled in an interview with MTV News. 'He knows more about it than I do and he was showing me some of them. Some of it is really racy, un-viewable even on MTV. It's cool. I suppose my bodily proportions are quite flattering. I'm ripped, doing something I wouldn't normally do with my body, or having done to it, involving Watson. So that's as far as I'll hit about that one, but it's all there on the web if you want to find it.' Cumberbatch went on to say that he was 'surprised' to see such a high quality of writing among the fan-penned pieces, adding: 'I was amazed at the level of artistry; people have spent hours doing it. And there's some really weird cross breeding stuff that goes on. The news got out that I was playing Smaug in The Hobbit and suddenly there were lots of dragons with purple scarves flying around so it's crazy, it's crazy.'

The Dictator's General Aladeen has reportedly been banned from appearing on BBC television and radio shows. The Graham Norton Show, The ONE Show, Newsnight and The Andrew Marr Show were all apparently in talks about interviewing Sacha Baron Cohen in the guise of his latest screen creation, but have all pulled out. Shows on Radio 4 and Radio 1 have followed suit, with 'an alleged source allegedly close to Cohen' allegedly snitching the Sun: 'Everyone came back and said they were declining to have him in character on air. Sacha suspects it's a case of a sense of humour bypass.' The Borat actor commented on the matter in the character of General Aladeen, saying: 'While I am a huge admirer of state-sponsored censorship, the BBC banning me from their meagre channels is an outrage. Why are they victimising little old me?' A BBC spokesman responded on the issue: 'Our chat shows thrive on the spontaneous banter between guests and the presenter, something you don't get when people come on as characters. We'd love to have Sacha on as himself.'

Coronation Street's Michelle Keegan has said that she suffered bruising after filming a fight as her character Tina McIntyre. Speaking to Inside Soap, Keegan revealed that the Rover's Return barmaid comes to blows with scheming lap dancing club owner Terry Duckworth (Nigel Pivaro). Following Terry's vicious attack, Tina is found by her boyfriend Tommy (Chris Fountain), who rushes her to hospital. Keegan commented on the violent scene: 'I wanted it to look as real as possible, so I really went for it. I had loads of bruises - especially because of the loan sharks. They were carrying me about, and I had hand marks all over me! I had to fall onto a crash mat, and they made a rubber floor that looked exactly the same as the tiled floor. So I had to fall down and whack my head on the fake floor. I was happy to get the chance to do my own stunts, as I'd never done anything like this before,' she added.

The BBC has commissioned a new version of Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers. An adaptation of the 1938 Alfred Hitchcock film The Lady Vanishes, based on Ethel Lina White's novel, will also make up part of twenty hours of drama from BBC Productions. The Musketeers - intended as a returning series - has been written by Adrian Hodges (creator of Primeval, and author of My Week with Marilyn) and will run for ten sixty-minute episodes in 2014. The Lady Vanishes - a single ninety-minute drama - has been adapted by Fiona Seres and is expected to be broadcast on BBC1 this Christmas. Soldier Soldier creator Lucy Gannon has also been commissioned to write six-part drama Frankie for transmission in 2013. The BBC1 series will follows a district nurse - described as 'a heroine for the modern age' - who fights for her patients. 'These new BBC1 commissions from drama present a richly ambitious slate that will thrill, move and delight audiences,' said BBC1 controller Danny Cohen. BBC3 will also air a new supernatural drama set in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. In The Flesh has been written by newcomer Dominic Mitchell and will run for three ninety-minute episodes. 'This raft of new drama reflects the range and ambition of in-house,' said Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, 'A unique mix of classic and contemporary pieces have produced surprising and original scripts, from both new and established writers - all of which represents a thriving creative team.'

Outnumbered's Claire Skinner and Misfits actress Antonia Thomas are to star in new ITV drama Homefront. Clare Higgins (from The Syndicate) and Nicola Stephenson will also appear in the series, previously known as SWAGS. Thankfully, even ITV aren't as crass and ignorant to put out a series with that title. Homefront will follow the lives of four wives and girlfriends of soldiers serving in war-torn Afghanistan. Higgins will play Paula, a veteran army wife who is proud of her soldier son but does not see eye to eye with his young wife Tasha (played by Thomas). Stephenson will star as Louise, wife of soldier Joe - played by Luther's Warren Brown. A former Army nurse, Louise did not return to the front following the birth of her two daughters. Skinner is the show's fourth lead as Claire, an aspiring Officer's wife who is romantically involved with Major Peter Bartham (Greg Wise). 'Homefront is a unique and contemporary show highlighting the women and families left behind while their loved ones risk life and limb on the front line,' said producer Kim Crowther. 'Our fantastic ensemble cast, alongside lead director Terry McDonough, will deliver big emotional stories told through four compelling women.' The six-part drama - created by Sue Teddern (who also created Birds of a Feather for which we'll just have to try and forgive her) - will film on location in Manchester and Cheshire. Sounds like a cross between Solider, Solider and Prisoners' Wives. Might be quite good, then.

Sky Sports presenter Georgie Thompson has defended Sky's coverage of Formula 1 and downplayed a rivalry between Sky and the BBC when it comes to broadcasting the sport. Sky and the BBC have shared F1 rights for the first time ever this year and Thompson said that Sky's approach to the sport and dedicated F1 channel mean that racing fans are getting something they have never been able to see elsewhere. 'Beforehand there was a lot of negativity and it wasn't really very well founded. We needed to get on air to show what we were about and what we brought to the party,' Thompson told the Digital Spy website. 'There has never been a dedicated Formula 1 channel before now. And there is a market for us and the BBC. Some will watch one, some will watch the other. There may be some that watch both. There is a large enough market for us both to exist within it.' Speaking about the differences in style, she said: 'I present a show on Fridays called The F1 Show and that's something totally different. It previews and reviews the weekend and has a laidback magazine feel to it. You wouldn't get that on any other platform. We're offering something a little bit more of what you already have.'

Lauren Socha will not appear in the fourth series of Misfits, the production having dropped her ass like hot shit after her guilty verdict for racially-aggravated assault. A Channel Four spokesperson confirmed to the Digital Spy website that the twenty one-year-old actress will not be reprising her role as Kelly in future episodes of the E4 drama. 'A mutual decision was reached between Clerkenwell and Lauren earlier this year that she would not be returning for the fourth series,' it was announced in a statement. In some much as Clerkenwell told her never to come near their door again and Lauren agreed? That sort of 'mutual' agreement? 'Misfits has been in production for a number of weeks now and Lauren is not part of the line-up.' The spokesperson claimed that Socha's departure is not related to her recent conviction for racially-aggravated assault, adding: 'Clerkenwell Films and Lauren Socha agreed some time ago that along with other cast members, including Iwan Rheon and Antonia Thomas, she would not be returning for the fourth series of Misfits, which is currently in production. Channel Four supports both parties decisions.'

ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee has reportedly been approached about the BBC director general's post but intends to stay put, alleged 'sources' have allegedly claimed. It was reported by Variety on Wednesday evening that Lee, who became head of the network in July 2010, had been courted for a return to the corporation. However, sources have now told Deadline that Lee intends to stay put, claiming: 'He was approached because he is British, and so were others.' Because, of course, like the England football manager, the DG has to be English. Maybe, that was the problem. He was worried he was going to get the front page of the Sun taking the mickey out of the way he talks. Lee joined the BBC in 1984 from Brazilian national TV network Rede Globo, where he had worked as an assistant production manager. Having started his career as a reporter, he eventually moved into drama - producing or directing numerous programmes and winning BAFTA and BANFF awards in 1990 for a documentary on folk songwriter Woody Guthrie. He previously served as channel editor for BBC Prime and CEO of BBC America - launching the latter as founder in 1998 - and moved to ABC Family in 2004. Current BBC director general Mark Thompson has announced that he intends to step down in the autumn and headhunters Egon Zehnder have been appointed to help find his successor. The corporation has also advertised the director general's post publicly on the BBC Jobs website, saying that it is seeking 'an inspirational leader' who can 'thrive under legitimate and constant public and political scrutiny' and 'respond well to pressure.' I wonder if Roy Hodgson's got anything else on his plate at the moment? Not 'The People's Choice', though. Apparently.
Rupert Murdoch's global media empire is facing a challenge on a new front in the billowing phone-hacking scandal after a powerful US Senate committee opened direct contact with British investigators in an attempt to find out whether News Corporation has broken any American laws. Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate committee on commerce, science and transportation, has written to Lord Justice Leveson, asking if he has uncovered any evidence relating to questionable practices in the US. 'I would like to know whether any of the evidence you are reviewing suggests that these unethical and sometimes illegal business practices occurred in the United States or involved US citizens,' Rockefeller writes in a letter released on Wednesday. The development adds to the potential dangers facing News Corp, a publicly-traded company with its headquarters in New York. Rockefeller has taken a close interest in the unfolding phone-hacking saga, but it is the first time that a Senate committee member has acted in his official capacity. Should the committee decide to press its case, it has considerable powers at its disposal. It could convene official Senate hearings into the scandal and subpoena witnesses and documents from News Corp – though as yet there is no discussion of doing so. The commerce committee covers all means of communications in the US – including telecommunications, free-to-air broadcasting and cable TV. It also has oversight over the Federal Communications Commission, the regulatory body that has final say on the issuing of broadcast licences, including the twenty seven licences issued to the FOX TV network that is the jewel in Murdoch's empire crown. The FCC, which has come under pressure this week from ethics watchdogs calling for action against News Corp, can revoke licences if it deems that the companies holding them are not properly run in the public interest. In his letter to Leveson, Rockefeller asks whether some of the more than five thousand potential victims of phone-hacking by the now-defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World may have been American. 'I am concerned about the possibility that some of these undisclosed victims are US citizens, and the possibility that telephone networks under the jurisdiction of US laws were used to intercept their voicemail messages,' he said, adding that he wants to know whether any News Corp business had 'used hacking, bribing, or other similar tactics when operating in the US.' In a scathing attack on the Murdoch company, Rockefeller writes: 'In a democratic society, members of the media have the freedom to aggressively probe their government's activities and expose wrongdoing. But, like all other citizens, they also have a duty to obey the law. Evidence that is already in the public record clearly shows that for many years, News International had a widespread, institutional disregard for these laws.' Rockefeller also asks for details emerging from the Leveson inquiry that indicated whether any News Corp executives based in New York were aware of illegal payments made by any involved in the Scum of the World to British police and other public officials. 'I would be very concerned if evidence emerged suggesting that News Corporation officials in New York were also aware of these illegal payments and did not act to stop them.' The senator does not name individuals. Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch the small – who was until recently the chairman of News Corp's British newspaper division, News International – are based in the New York headquarters, as was Les Hinton, James Murdoch's predecessor, who was this week accused by the Commons culture committee of misleading parliament. Hinton resigned in July. Rockefeller's intervention was triggered by the final report of the British parliament's culture, media and sport select committee, which concluded that Murdoch was not fit to run a major international company. It comes two weeks after Mark Lewis, the British lawyer at the forefront of the phone-hacking investigations, opened investigations into four cases of alleged phone-hacking that occurred in the US. Lewis, who won three million smackers for the family of murdered teenager Milly Dowler from News International, said: 'There are so many American aspects to this, it is difficult to know where to begin. Whether it is about American victims of hacking, or the failure of a US company in respect of the corrupt practices of a foreign subsidiary, or the fact that material information was withheld from shareholders and potential investors: I suspect it is a race to find out which scandal lands first. It was only a matter of time before the US authorities realised the significance of what had been happening in the UK.' Lewis is set to launch six cases in the US with Norman Siegel, an American lawyer who has previously represented families of 11 September victims. He has not divulged who his clients are, but it is known one is the actress Koo Stark, who has been told by Metropolitan police detectives that she was targeted by the hacking operation run by the Scum of the World. On Wednesday, the News Corp board issued a statement backing Rupert Murdoch, saying its members had 'full confidence' in his 'fitness' and properness to run the company he built from a single newspaper in Adelaide. News Corporation said that it based its vote of confidence on 'Rupert Murdoch's vision and leadership' in building the company from its modest roots, 'his ongoing performance', and his 'demonstrated resolve to address the mistakes of the company identified in the select committee's report.'c Plus the fact that most of the News Corp board - unlikely everyone else in the world - still seems to be scared of the odious old billionaire tyrant. On the same day as the Senate commerce committee made its move, a second US senator, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, renewed his call for a US government investigation into whether News Corp broke anti-bribery and corruption laws. Lautenberg called for a robust inquiry into whether the company, by allegedly bribing public officials in Britain, had breached the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids American citizens or companies from 'engaging in acts of bribery abroad.'

Conservative MP Louise Mensch has hit out at 'immoral and misogynistic' Twitter users for subjecting her to abuse for her stance on Rupert Murdoch. The Commons media committee, on which she sits, passed a Labour amendment describing Murdoch as not fit to run a major international company - but Conservative members voted against it. Mensch's criticism of the charge prompted tweets calling her 'a whore.' She told the BBC that it was important to 'call bullies out.' This from a Tory MP, dear blog reader. Is that kettle black over there? The MP for Corby has publicised some of the abuse she had received on the social networking website, including one message that branded her 'a bitch' and another that read 'given half the chance, you'd strangle her.' Another Twitter user said they would 'love to hit Louise Mensch in the face with a hammer.' She was also called 'a slut' and likened to 'diarrhoea.' For what it's worth, this blogger believes totally in the concept of free, fair and open speech in a democratic society (so long, of course, as it's within the boundaries of the law as it currently stands) and also in the age-old truism 'if you can't take it don't give it out.' But, by the same token, I don't think that name-calling (outside of expressing an opinion on someone's general odiousness, worth or otherwise) or, especially, crass threats of violence are particularly big or clever. Or, indeed, in some cases of the latter, legal. That said, this blogger does still call upon the voters of Corby to remember exactly whom Ms Mensch's real friends appear to be when the next election comes around - that's called democracy, and a lot of good people have fought and died for it over the years. And, that's all I have to say on this matter. In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, old Bagashite, never short of putting herself forward in the media to voice her opinion on pretty much any subject (see, for instance, her regular appearances on Have I Got News For You) said: 'Abuse directed at women is always sexual or violent.' Not always, chuck, although the worst of it usually is. 'If somebody is considered attractive, it's a sexual and violent fantasy levelled against them. If someone is considered unattractive, it's personal remarks about their body.' She added: 'The stuff directed at me was not illegal, it was just immoral and misogynistic.' The website itself should not be held responsible for the abuse, she said: 'It's the fault of the users - they have to be responsible for their own words and what they say.' Cumbria Police chief constable Stuart Hyde, who has national responsibility with the Association of Chief Police Officers for e-crime, said: 'I have read the comments made about Louise and it is sexist bigotry at its worst.' Which isn't very nice but, to the best of this blogger's knowledge, sexist bigotry is not illegal. Some of the tweets were 'pretty horrendous' and could be illegal, he added. 'There is quite a bit of legislation available to us - the Communications Act 2003, the Malicious Communications Act back in 1988 talks about offences of communications with an intent to cause distress, anxiety or are grossly offensive. And clearly some of this is either in or very close to that border.' So, if that's the case then arrest those responsible and put it before a court of law so the individuals in question can defend themselves. You're a policeman, mate, do your job, not someone else's. Anyway ...

Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks is to give evidence before the Leveson inquiry next Friday. Book your seats early for that one, dear blog reader.

A fifty seven-year-old ex-officer has been arrested by police investigating corrupt payments in relation to the phone-hacking scandal. The man was arrested at home in Surrey early on Thursday on suspicion of misconduct in a public office. His arrest as part of Operation Elveden was due to information provided by News Corporation's own management standards watchdog, the Metropolitan Police said. He is being questioned at a London police station and his home searched. He is the twenty seventh person to be held during Operation Elveden. The investigation is being supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and is being run in conjunction with Operation Weeting, the Met's inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal. The Crown Prosecution Service last month was sent the first set of files from police relating to the inquiries. It is considering whether charges should be brought against four journalists, one police officer and six other people. News Corporation's Management and Standards Committee was established in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal that resulted in the decision to close of the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World in July 2011. On Wednesday, the company said the MSC had completed its review of its UK newspapers. It said it had found 'no evidence' of illegal conduct at The Times and The Sunday Times other than a single incident, which led to the disciplining of one employee. It gave no further details about its internal review into the Sun.

Some Play School presenters were 'stoned out of their minds' on air, it has been claimed. The iconic BBC children's television series ran from 1964 until 1988. Johnny Ball, an ex-presenter of the show, said: 'There was Rick Jones, Lionel Morton and myself. They got stoned on the biggest joint you've ever seen - in the studio. We were in silhouette as the three shepherds with our crooks. Lionel purposely held his crook so the crook didn't show. They were absolutely stoned out of their minds.' The seventy three-year-old, the father of Zoe Ball, added that he, personally, did not use drugs himself, saying: 'I couldn't work with it.' So, nice bit of grassing up on yer mates there, Johnny, you Copper's Nark. The Sun reports, with some glee, that drug use was also tolerated elsewhere in the BBC, with presenter Joan Bakewell saying of visiting pop acts: 'Of course they smoked and they didn't smoke ordinary cigarettes.' Sir David Attenborough, formerly a controller of BBC2, spoke about appealing to guests: 'Look, please, don't smoke that stuff openly so we can all smell it. Just be sensible.' BBC alumni also commented on sex at the BBC, with Katy Manning, who played Jo Grant on Doctor Who from 1971 until 1973, saying: 'People were bonking all over the BBC. Everybody was doing it on the premises.' Janet Fielding - who played the Doctor's companion Tegan between 1981 and 1984 - added: 'Nobody cared whether you had sex in your dressing room.' Well, I'm presuming the person you had sex with cared, somewhat. The BBC confessions will be screened in Tales of Television Centre on BBC4 on 17 May.

Robert Peston's appearance on the BBC Radio 5Live breakfast show on Thursday morning was interrupted by an unscheduled intervention by his wife, Sian. As the BBC's business editor was discussing the finer points of the credit crunch a muffled 'Bye!' could be heard in the background. Pestinfestation didn't respond so she naturally tried again. 'Byeeee!' This time he did respond, as did presenters Nicky Campbell and Rachel Burden. 'If everybody listened to her, certainly if I listened to her, I would be in a lot less of a pickle than I am at this particular moment,' said Pesto.

More than one hundred and twenty short films offering 'snapshots of the UK's cultural, sporting, industrial and political heritage' have been put online. The documentaries from the British Council's archive date back to 1939, when the Council commissioned the films to showcase Britain to the world. Topics included health care, the legal system, Shakespeare and how The Times was produced each day. The films are now available to download via the British Council's website. Largely shown at embassies, consulates and to students and schoolchildren around the world, the collection has been preserved in the BFI National Archive for the past thirty years. Highlights of the newly digitised documentaries include Man on the Beat, which 'shows the rigorous training necessary to become a police constable.' Life Cycle of the Onion uses time lapse photography to follow an onion from seed to leaf, to flower to harvest, and back to seed again. The Great Game follows teams to the 1945 Football League War Cup Finals at Wembley and Stamford Bridge, Moscow Chelski's home ground. City Bound, meanwhile, presents 'a patriotic look' at the daily commute into town faced by Londoners in 1941. The British Council said the collection represented a 'significant chapter in British documentary film history.' According to director of film Briony Hanson, it also gives 'a unique insight into how Britain wanted to portray itself internationally - a portrait which was probably quite far from the truth. With our self-image very much in the spotlight again this summer as the world watches the Olympics and the Jubilee, these films encourage us to ask timely questions about what it means to be British,' she continued. Some of the shorts feature work by those who went on to carve out successful careers in the industry, among them director Ken Annakin and the celebrated, award-winning cinematographer Jack Cardiff.

Harry Redknapp will go to the European Championship this summer after all – as a television pundit. That should keep the miserable old faceache happy, although it;s unlikely to do much for the blood pressures of his stream of odious brown-tongued cheerleaders in Fleet Street and at Sky Sports, of course. They won't rest until he's England manager. And King of the World. Probably. The Stottingtot Hotsphots manager, who was overlooked for the England manager's job after the Football Association decided to appoint Roy Hodgson instead, has accepted a role with the BBC. Redknapp will now offer an insight into the matches in Poland and Ukraine as part of the BBC team, which will be headed by Gary Lineker. Meanwhile, Redknapp feels his team are 'coming back strong' at the right time following their 4-1 victory at Bolton Wanders on Wednesday, a result that keeps them just ahead of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle on goal difference in the race for a top-four place and move them within a point of The Arse, who are in third. 'I don't remember having a rough time. I felt we had been playing well,' Redknapp said. 'It just went that way for us. We weren't playing badly, we hadn't lost our confidence. It has not been that drastic, but everyone has spells. You have got to keep at it. Everybody has bad spells during a season. Arsenal had an horrendous spell but came back strong. We have had a dicky spell, now we are coming back strong. That is what you have to do, you have to keep going.'

On 5 and 6 June this year, millions of people around the world will be able to see Venus pass across the face of the Sun in what will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It will take Venus about six hours to complete its transit, appearing as a small black dot on the Sun's surface, in an event that will not happen again until 2117. In this month's Physics World, Jay M Pasachoff, an astronomer at Williams College, Massachusetts, explores the science behind Venus's transit and gives an account of its fascinating history. Transits of Venus occur only on the very rare occasions when Venus and Earth are in a line with the Sun. At other times Venus passes below or above the Sun because the two orbits are at a slight angle to each other. Transits occur in pairs separated by eight years, with the gap between pairs of transits alternating between one hundred and five and one hundred and twenty one years - the last transit was in 2004. Building on the original theories of Nicolaus Copernicus from 1543, scientists were able to predict and record the transits of both Mercury and Venus in the centuries that followed. Johannes Kepler successfully predicted that both planets would transit the Sun in 1631, part of which was verified with Mercury's transit of that year. But the first transit of Venus to actually be viewed was in 1639 - an event that had been predicted by the English astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks. He observed the transit in the village of Much Hoole in Lancashire - the only other person to see it being his correspondent, William Crabtree, in Manchester. Later, in 1716, Edmond Halley proposed using a transit of Venus to predict the precise distance between Earth and the Sun, known as the astronomical unit. As a result, hundreds of expeditions were sent all over the world to observe the 1761 and 1769 transits. A young James Cook took the Endeavour to the island of Tahiti, where he successfully observed the transit at a site that is still called Point Venus. Pasachoff expects the transit to confirm his team's theory about the phenomenon called 'the black-drop effect' - a strange, dark band linking Venus's silhouette with the sky outside the Sun that appears for about a minute starting just as Venus first enters the solar disk. Pasachoff and his colleagues will concentrate on observing Venus's atmosphere as it appears when Venus is only half onto the solar disk. He also believes that observations of the transit will help astronomers who are looking for extrasolar planets orbiting stars other than the Sun. 'Doing so verifies that the techniques for studying events on and around other stars hold true in our own backyard. In other words, by looking up close at transits in our solar system, we may be able to see subtle effects that can help exoplanet hunters explain what they are seeing when they view distant suns,' Pasachoff writes. Not content with viewing this year's transit from Earth, scientists in France will be using the Hubble Space Telescope to observe the effect of Venus's transit very slightly darkening the Moon. Pasachoff and colleagues even hope to use Hubble to watch Venus passing in front of the Sun as seen from Jupiter - an event that will take place on 20 September this year - and will be using NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which is orbiting Saturn, to see a transit of Venus from Saturn on 21 December. 'We are fortunate in that we are truly living in a golden period of planetary transits and it is one of which I hope astronomers can take full advantage,' he writes.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. This one's for Papiss Demba Cisse, and all of the Toon fans currently orbiting Venus. It's a long way back to Earth guys. Just, you know, remember we were twelfth last year and regard this season as one of some progress! Here's Ash.

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