Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spells Too Easy To Buy Nowadays And There's Interference With The Mail

Let's start off today's bloggerisationisms with one from the I Fought The Law (And I Won ... For A Change) column. The details of this aren't all that important but suffice to say that yer actual Keith Telly Topping has, for the past month or so, been involved in a minor disputette with an aspect of officialdom over a relative triviality that turned out to be less than trivial. Not very good news at the best of times, dear blog reader, but particularly not helpful as yer actual Keith Telly Topping hasn't been feeling at all well during the period in question. Whether these two things were related to one-another, yer actual Keith Telly Topping wouldn't care to speculate. Although I won't stop you from doing so if you want to. Anyway, this morning brought the very welcome news that the latest firm-but-fair three-page 'Hey let's be reasonable' letter that yer actual Keith Telly Topping wrote to The Man in an effort to, you know, get this shit sorted, like has, it would appear, done the very trick. Which is jolly nice, I reckon. I mean, nobody wants to go through life, surely, deliberately making things harder for people when they don't need to? Well, no, actually that's not true at all. Some people positively delight in doing exactly that. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping used to work for the Civil Service, he knows this fact better than anyone. So, anyway on that reasonably affable and compliant bombshell ... let's get on with today's news.

Star Trek legend William Shatner has been criticised for saying that a Devon holiday resort was 'laced with prostitution.' No, really. The eighty one-year-old legend was hosting Have I Got News For You last week when, in an off-the-cuff remark, he said: 'Have you been to Ilfracombe? The place is laced with prostitution.' Local councillor, and dismally po-faced waste-of-oxygen by the sound of him, Mike Edmunds didn't see the funny side. Which, one trusts those who voted for him to be their local councillor will remember next time there's an election. He said: 'We don't have a prostitution problem.' No shit? Proof positive, it would seem dear blog reader, that some people just don't understand the concept of 'a joke.' It's when someone says something which they do not, necessarily, mean, for the purposes of merriment and japery, Mike. Look it up in the dictionary.

Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch has praised the show's fans. Cumberbatch and the show's co-creator Mark Gatiss spoke to the Digital Spy website at Sunday night's British Academy Television Awards. 'We love doing [the show],' said the actor. 'We're very fond of it, and we adore our audience - they're smart and intelligent and ever-growing, which is wonderful.' Well, thanks very much, Ben! We love you, too! Gatiss revealed that he will be writing the Sherlock series three premiere, which will be loosely based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Empty House. 'It'll be a version of it, because that's the one in which he returns,' Gatiss explained. 'How much or how little [we change], I don't know yet. As before, we cherry pick and we choose bits and pieces of other [stories] that we like. They're always less literal adaptations.' Gatiss also revealed that he will be writing an episode for the next series of Doctor Who. 'It's for the new companion, Jenna-Louise Coleman,' he confirmed. 'That's all I can tell you or I will actually be shot!'

Stephen Mangan has revealed that the BBC has axed Dirk Gently. The comedy drama - based on the Douglas Adams novels - began with a really rather good pilot episode in 2010, with three - nowhere near as impressive - hour-long episodes following in March of this year. However, Mangan - who played the title role - revealed on Twitter that the show will not return to BBC4. Which, thanks for the sixteen per cent cut as part of DQF hasn't, currently, got a pot to piss in. Mangan wrote: 'It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to report that the BBC have decided not to make any more Dirk Gently.' The pilot episode attracted 1.1m in December 2010, but the third and final episode saw just five hundred and ninety thousand viewers watching it. Darren Boyd, silly little Helen Baxendale, Jason Watkins and Lisa Jackson also appeared in the series alongside Mangan, while Howard Overman adapted Adams's books for television. Mangan can currently be seen in the second series of Episodes on BBC2, alongside Matt LeBlanc and Tamsin Greig. 'We've loved having Dirk on the channel but the licence fee freeze means less British drama on BBC4,' said a BBC spokeswoman, cleverly shunting the blame onto the vile and odious rascal Hunt. 'In future we will focus on the best dramas from around the globe, like The Killing and Borgen, whilst BBC1 and BBC2 become the main homes of original British drama.' In 2011, Mangan admitted that he would be 'heartbroken' if BBC4 cancelled Dirk Gently. 'If they axe [the series], I'll go round there and smash the place up with my bare hands,' he said. Okay, off you go then. That should be well worth watching. Certain more watchable than any of the last three episodes.

Consolidated final ratings for week ending 20 May 2012:-
1 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 9.37m
2 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 8.82m
3 The Apprentice - BBC1 Wed - 7.13m
4 Emmerdale - ITV Mon - 7.11m
5 UEFA Champions League Final - ITV Sat - 6.92m
6 The Voice - BBC1 Sat - 6.79m
7 Silk - BBC1 Tues - 6.56m
8 Vera - ITV Sun - 6.54m
9 Lewis - ITV Wed - 6.52m
10 Have I Got News For You - BBC1 Fri - 5.91m
11 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 5.82m
12 Not Going Out - BBC1 Fri - 5.33m
13 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Tues - 5.06m
14 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.02m
15 DIY SOS: The Big Build - BBC1 Wed - 5.01m
16 The ONE Show - BBC1 Fri - 5.00m
17 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 5.00m
18 Odious, Risible Piers Morgan's Life Stories - ITV Fri - 4.88m*
19 56 Up - ITV Mon - 4.81m*
20 Long Lost Family - ITV Thurs - 4.78m*
21 Planet Earth Live - BBC1 Wed - 4.64m
22 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 4.62m
23 Chatsworth - BBC1 Mon - 4.47m
24 The National Lottery: In It To Win It - BBC1 Sat - 4.41m
25 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 4.38m
26 The Graham Norton Show - BBC1 Fri - 4.34m
27 New Tricks - BBC1 Thurs - 4.19m
Those programmes marked with * do not include ITV HD figures. BBC2's top performers were Coast (2.77m) and The Apprentice - You're Fired! (2.75m). Both include BBC HD viewers.
Yer actual Tony Blair his very self has told the Leveson inquiry that Rupert Murdoch did not lobby him directly over media policy when he was prime minister and highlighted several examples where his government had gone against the News Corporation founder's wishes. Blair said on Monday that he and Murdoch had 'a working relationship until after I left office.' After this, he claimed, they became closer and Blair was godfather to Murdoch's daughter Grace. He told Lord Justice Leveson that Murdoch 'didn't lobby me on media stuff,' but said that was 'not to say we weren't aware of the positions their companies had,' in particular his strong views in opposition to European integration. Blair said on regulatory matters affecting Murdoch's business directly, 'we decided more often against than in favour.' Lance Price, former Labour and No 10 press officer, had previously described Murdoch as the 'twenty fourth member of the cabinet.' Blair said: 'Am I saying he's not a powerful figure in the media? Well no, of course he is, and, of course you're aware of what his views are, and that's why I say part of my job was to manage the situation so that you didn't get into a situation where you were shifting policy. I would say very strongly we managed the position that I believed in on Europe and that was a position the Sun and the News of the World frequently disagreed with me on.' On his relationship with Murdoch, Blair said: 'Europe was the major thing that he and I used to row about. I believed in what I was doing, I didn't need him or anyone else to tell me what to do.' Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, said Price had also said that he had been told Blair would 'never change policy' on Europe without talking to Murdoch first. Blair replied: 'No we would never have given an assurance to Mr Murdoch or anybody else that we were not going to change policy without seeking their permission. That's absurd. Having said that, if we were about to engage in a major change of policy on an issue that mattered to any particular media group we would probably have tried to prepare the way for it, but I think that is perfectly sensible and there's nothing wrong with that.' Blair also said that his relationship with Murdoch changed after he stepped down as prime minister in 2007. 'So I know there has been all this stuff about me being godfather of one of his children. I would never have become a godfather of his children on the basis of my relationship in office. After I left, I got to know him and his family and the relationship can be easier and better,' he said. Blair added that it was easier to become friendly after he left No 10 because there was not 'the same pressure' as existed in office and because both men had similar international political interests. Blair also confirmed he sent well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks 'a message of support' immediately after she resigned as chief executive of News International in the wake of the Milly Dowler phone-hacking revelations. 'I'm somebody who doesn't believe in being a fair-weather friend and certainly I said I was very sorry for what happened to her and I don't know anything about the facts of the particular case but I have been or seen people go through these situations,' he said. Responding to Price's claim that he 'cosied up to' Murdoch to the extent that he was an unofficial member of his cabinet, Blair listed six occasions in his written evidence on which the government had gone against the News Corp chairman and chief executive's wishes during his time as prime minister. They included BSkyB's aborted attempt to buy Manchester United, the establishment of media regulator Ofcom, successive increases in the cost of the licence fee and expansion of the BBC's channels and online offering. Blair said the government had blocked BSkyB's purchase of The Scum after referring it to the Office of Fair Trading, which subsequently referred it to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. He said BSkyB had opposed the increase in the BBC's licence fee, which successive Blair governments raised from £91.50 in 1997 to £135.50 in 2008, above the rate of inflation and 'in the face of significant opposition.' Blair added the BBC had also been granted permission by his government to launch new digital channels, which BSkyB had opposed. On media regulator Ofcom, Blair said in his written evidence: 'In Ofcom we introduced a broadcast regulator [which] put Sky under far greater scrutiny than ever before.' He also said, under his premiership, the government had 'stopped [News Corp] buying ITV' and said Sky had 'opposed listed events for sport. We protected and extended them.'

Blair accused the Daily Scum Mail publisher Associated Newspapers of pursuing a 'personal vendetta' against his wife, revealing that their lawyers had sent more than thirty letters of complaint about the paper's coverage over a five-year period between 2006 and 2011. Blair, who once likened the media to a 'feral beast,' told the Leveson inquiry that newspapers were guilty of an 'abuse of power' by vigorously pursuing people it did not like or disagreed with 'full on, full frontal, day in, day out. I think a certain amount of comment is perfectly legitimate,' said Blair. 'Some of the papers, in particular the Mail group, took it too far and it turned into a personal vendetta. You're always going to feel sensitive about your own family but I thought and do think that the attacks on her and my children were just unnecessary and wrong. The fact is when you fall out with the controlling element of the Daily Mail that is when you are going to be subject to a huge and sustained attack.' Blair said that he had asked his office to analyse fifty Daily Mail stories about him after the 2005 general election, and fifty stories prior to his departure from Downing Street. He said all one hundred were negative. 'The Daily Mail have attacked me, my family, my children, those people associated with me, day in, day out. Not merely when I was in office but subsequent to it as well. They do it very well, very effectively. It's very powerful.' During four and a half hours of evidence in which his relationship with Rupert Murdoch came under close scrutiny, Blair said that the News Corp chairman and chief executive did not lobby him directly over media policy, and said the pair did not do any deals on the issue or on Europe or trade union legislation. He said Murdoch and other proprietors use their newspapers 'as instruments of political power,' with the Sun and Daily Scum Mail being the two most powerful. Blair said the boundary between news and comment was 'deliberately blurred' by some newspapers which became 'not merely politically partisan in their comment or editorial line but in their news coverage.' He said the pair had 'a working relationship until after I left office.' Blair said Leveson had a unique opportunity to at last 'drain the poison' from the media with his inquiry into press ethics. 'What I think is wrong is when a section of the media and again I emphasise it's a section, powerful people [within these newspapers] will say "right we are going to go after that person" and then what happens is they all go after you and it's full on, full frontal, day in day out,' he said. 'That is not journalism, in my view, you know, that's an abuse of power actually. It has nothing to do with having a good political debate ... and I just don't think it needs to happen in the way and I've felt that some of the stuff crossed the line completely.'

Blair's evidence at the Leveson Inquiry was interrupted after a protestor burst into the court room and accused the former prime minister of being 'a war criminal.' After more than two hours of Blair's testimony to the inquiry into press ethics, the man appeared in Court Seventy Three at the Royal Courts of Justice and started shouting at the ex-Labour leader. Accusing Blair of being a war criminal, the man levelled various accusations about him being 'bought' by the US investment banking giant JP Morgan in the build-up to the Iraq War. The protestor shouted 'this man should be arrested for war crimes,' before he was escorted from the court by security guards. A clearly shaken Lord Brian Leveson apologised to Blair and said that he would investigate how the protestor managed to enter 'what was supposed to be a secure corridor' leading to the court. Blair merely added that he would like it placed on the record that the man's claims about a deal with JP Morgan were 'completely and utterly untrue,' despite Lord Leveson saying that he did not need to respond to the accusations. The man was later identified as David Lawley-Wakelin, a 'film-maker and teacher of film.' Oh, one of those 'that's not a real job'-type jobs. Gotcha. He was later released by police without charge.

Tensions between the BBC and Downing Street over its coverage of the Leveson inquiry have been revealed after a video of a five-minute dressing down of a senior BBC correspondent by David Cameron's director of communications was leaked. Craig Oliver told Norman Smith, the BBC's chief political correspondent, he was 'genuinely shocked' by the alleged 'bias' in his coverage, adding he thought the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt, would be 'rightly deeply upset.' Oliver said: 'I have rarely seen such partial reporting of the debate.' He also revealed that he had complained to senior BBC executives over Smith's earlier coverage that day, and had been given undertaking that it would be less partial. The BBC camera was left running during the discussion between the two men in Downing Street last Friday and has been leaked to Guido Fawkes' website. The leak will worsen relations between the BBC and Oliver since such conversations are normally kept private. The video was initially removed from YouTube but then re-posted by Guido Fawkes on his Order Order site. Oliver was himself a senior BBC executive, and throughout the five-minute discussion does not lose his temper but directly accuses Smith of 'bias' and trying to link Cameron by association to events in which he was not involved. Smith holds his ground and politely refuses to acknowledge there has been any bias in his coverage of Friday's cross-examination of Jonathan Stephens, the permanent secretary at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Normally such arguments, quite frequent between spin doctors and journalists, happen on the phone, and it is rare to see daily battles between government communications machines and reporters played out in public. In the video, Oliver starts by complaining about a package that shows a spider's web graphic in which it is claimed Cameron is increasingly drawn, including the vile and odious rascal Hunt and James Murdoch, the small. Smith says this was legitimate since 'most people now associate Murdoch in their minds with hacking and Milly Dowler.' Oliver counters: 'How is that not an opinion rather than an impartial reporting of the facts?' Smith replies: 'I think that is a fairly balanced opinion.' Oliver snaps: 'Balanced, in whose minds?' Smith says: 'You have to make an assessment of how people view the Murdoch hacking controversy and most people view it as a thoroughly bad thing, and if the prime minister is in anyway entangled in that.' Oliver also counters Smith's report by suggesting Cameron had come out to shore up the vile and odious rascal Hunt, saying: 'The PM did not come out today just simply to shore up Jeremy Hunt he was doing an interview on dementia.' Smith counters that Cameron's remarks that he had 'no regrets' about appointing the vile and odious rascal Hunt was a new line, something which Oliver - rather grudgingly - accepts. Oliver then complains Smith had 'not done enough' in his report to highlight evidence given that day to Leveson by Stephens. He points out that 'a civil servant, an impartial servant, making absolutely clear under questioning that there was infinitessimal room for political discretion over the BSkyB bid.' Oliver then criticises the way in which Smith highlighted the fact that the vile and odious rascal Hunt had written a memo to Cameron in November 2010 lobbying about the bid and complaining that the business secretary, Vince Cable, was not pursuing the issue in an impartial way. He argues that Smith had failed to report that the memo had been sent at a time when the vile and odious rascal Hunt was not sitting in a quasi-judicial role. Oliver implies that the word 'lobbying' only applies if someone is being approached that has power and that Cameron had 'recused' himself from the issue. He also adds the memo makes clear that the vile and odious rascal Hunt does not believe government should be making the decisions over the BSkyB bid. Smith counters that it is fair to report the vile and odious rascal Hunt's intervention since he had told parliament he had made no such interventions. Oliver also adds: 'Vince Cable who was in a quasi-judicial role and had proven himself to be biased literally in a situation where there were calls for him to be sacked.' The two men break up the discussion, with Oliver returning to his office in Downing Street, saying: 'I rest my case.'

And, in a further example of a Tory crassly threatening the independence of the BBC, Boris Johnson's former communications chief allegedly threatened to 'use his contacts' in the press to confront the BBC over its coverage of the Conservative mayor of London, suggesting that 'good friends in No 10' could also be deployed against them, e-mails leaked to the Gruniad reveal. The threat of a 'huge public fight' was levelled at senior BBC figures by Guto Harri, a former BBC correspondent himself, who announced last week that he was moving to become director of communications at News International. Harri's suggestion that Downing Street was also ready to put pressure on the public service broadcaster raises questions about the Tories' tactics against the BBC and the extent of the pressure City Hall has exerted in its attempts to influence coverage. The revelation comes at the start of another crucial week of evidence to the Leveson inquiry into phone hacking, which is now focusing on the relationship between the press and politicians. The former prime minister Tony Blair gave evidence on Monday followed by five cabinet ministers: Michael Gove and Theresa May on Tuesday; Vince Cable and Ken Clarke on Wednesday; and on Thursday the vile and odious rascal Hunt, who is facing intensifying calls to resign over his handling of News International's bid for a controlling stake in BSkyB. In the e-mails, Harri told Will Walden, the BBC's Westminster news editor – whom Johnson has since chosen as Harri's replacement as head of communications at City Hall – that the BBC faced a 'huge public fight' if an interview about Johnson with his unauthorised biographer, Sonia Purnell, went ahead. The e-mail to Walden reads: 'Dear Will. We are all sick of this at City Hall, and increasingly at Number 10. BBC London is in danger of causing real problems to all of us.' Pressing Walden on the question of who else he should raise his concerns with just minutes after raising it with two senior BBC figures in a separate e-mail, he added: 'If this interview run [sic] on Sunday, there'll be a huge public fight.' The interview with Purnell, whose book, Just Boris, was being published later that month, discussed Johnson's progress in office as mayor, his performance at the Conservative party conference held days earlier, and speculation about his future political ambitions beyond London. Harri intimated that the public broadcaster would face a backlash from newspaper stables friendly to Johnson, as well as from Downing Street, if the item saw the light of day. In a second e-mail to Ric Bailey, the BBC's chief adviser for politics, and David Jordan, head of editorial policy and standards, late on the evening of Friday 7 October, Harri complained about the interview recorded that day in the presence of an employee of City Hall and due to be broadcast on the Sunday for the London segment of the lunchtime Politics Show. Highlighting an excerpt of the interview, which Harri claimed was 'implying the mayor is "losing his touch" because he "failed" to upstage the PM,' he criticised the decision to allow Purnell to 'pontificate without challenge, qualification or allowing us a right to reply' and described the author as someone who 'knows no one in No 10.' Which, some might regard as a good thing. He concluded: 'Please please please sort this out. Or you leave me with no option but to use our friends in the papers to launch a public discussion about what this says about the BBC. And our good friends in No 10 are pretty trigger-happy too.' Harri followed this up with his e-mail to Walden sixteen minutes later. When contacted by the Gruniad, Harri waffled: 'It was my job at City Hall to ensure fair coverage for the mayoralty and I did what I could over four years to deliver that in a professional and courteous manner.' He insisted that his odious comments about No 10 were 'not a threat' but 'merely reflected the broader frustrations' he claims that were felt not only inside City Hall but in 'central government, the Olympic family and some within BBC London itself' about the 'relentlessly hostile' coverage. Johnson has since used his Daily Torygraph column to make strong criticisms of the BBC, breaking existing employment law by arguing on 14 May that the next director general of the BBC must be a Conservative. Quipping that he had just fought an election campaign 'in which I sometimes felt that my chief opponent was the local BBC news,' Johnson wrote: 'The prevailing view of Beeb newsrooms is, with honourable exceptions, statist, corporatist, defeatist, anti-business, Europhile and above all, overwhelmingly biased to the left. Of course they are: the whole lot of them are funded by the taxpayer.' So, that's the last time you'll be seeing Boris guest hosting Have I Got News For You for while. Send for Shatner instead. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'It is not unusual to receive complaints before and after broadcast from people trying to influence our reporting and they are considered with our commitment to impartiality in mind. However all news output is judged on editorial merit, produced in an balanced way, in accordance with BBC editorial guidelines.'

A forty two-year-old woman has been was arrested by police investigating phone hacking, on suspicion of money-laundering offences. She was arrested by appointment at a South West London police station on Monday morning by Metropolitan police detectives from Operation Weeting. Police said the woman was being questioned in a statement shortly after 1pm on Monday. Scotland Yard said: 'A forty two-year-old woman was arrested this morning, Monday 28 May 2012 by officers from Operation Weeting, the Metropolitan Police Service investigation into the hacking of voicemail boxes. She was arrested on suspicion of money laundering offences, contrary to section three hundred and twenty seven of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and is currently being questioned.' Scotland Yard confirmed that the woman is the first to be held on suspicion of money-laundering offences as part of its Operation Weeting probe. The force confirmed that the woman is not a current or former public official. She is the twenty fifth person to be arrested as part of the investigation into phone-hacking. Section three hundred and twenty seven of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 relates to concealing or transferring the proceeds of crime. The arrest could signal a fresh turn in the Metropolitan police's Operation Weeting, which was launched on 26 January last year after the disclosure of 'significant new information' from News International. All but three of the former News International journalists arrested under Operation Weeting last month had their bail extended to unspecified dates either in April or late May. Three of those arrested, including the Scum of the World's ex-US editor James Desborough, have been released without charge. Scotland Yard has identified eight hundred and twenty nine potential victims of phone hacking, of whom two hundred and thirty one are said to be uncontactable.

Due on screen in mid-June, Britain In A Day is a BBC documentary which is based on people around the country turning the cameras on themselves on 12 November 2011. Some will find their footage used, others won't, and the most put-out is likely to be Kevin Macdonald, the Oscar-winning director responsible for One Day In September, Touching The Void and The Last King of Scotland, who is executive-producing the project. According to the Gruniad, he filmed himself in Deal but 'we didn't use it, and he was a bit miffed,' BBC documentaries boss Charlotte Moore callously revealed at a preview last week.

Scott & Bailey will return for a third series, the show's stars have revealed. Suranne Jones told the Radio Times that new episodes of the ITV drama will begin filming in November. '[Series co-creator] Sally Wainwright is such an amazing writer and has so many amazing ideas,' said her co-star Lesley Sharp. 'She gives you some sort of clue about what might happen and then you open the script and none of it's there and it's something even better.' The crime drama - which began in May 2011 - follows the personal and professional lives of DC Rachel Bailey (Jones) and DC Janet Scott (Sharp) of the fictional Manchester Metropolitan Police.

Mayday star Sam Spruell has likened the forthcoming BBC drama to The Killing. Only, without the chunky jumpers, presumably. The actor will appear alongside Sophie Okonedo, Peter Firth and Aidan Gillen in the series, which focuses on the disappearance of a young girl from an idyllic community. Speaking to the Digital Spy website about the project, Spruell explained: 'It's great because [in] this quaint village suddenly the facade comes down and the monsters are shown. I think it could be really exciting. On the face of it, it's like a Midsomer Murders, but I'd say it's much more The Killing. You get to kind of meet a whole range of people and work out how they are connected to the crime that is taking place. You see all their personal situations and the difficulties they are facing.' However, Spruell was not prepared to suggest that Mayday will become as popular as the Danish format. 'It'd be stupid and arrogant to say it's going to be as big as The Killing is,' he noted. 'I think The Killing is brilliant. If we can get anywhere near that, it'll be wonderful. That's a tall ask. We're gonna try, dammit!'

Ratings for BBC1 talent show The Voice have been 'a little bit disappointing,' its creator John de Mol has admitted, but he is meeting the BBC to discuss changes for the second series and a children's version of the programme called The Voice Kids. The Dutch media mogul and Big Brother co-creator said although The Voice 'still has good ratings, they could have been better.' The talent show debuted in March, with 8.4 million viewers tuning in to see the first swivel chair 'blind audition' programme. And when The Voice went head to head with rival ITV show Britain's Got Talent it regularly beat the Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads juggernaut across a period of five or so weeks. However after the audition and 'battle' rounds, the novelty seemed to wear off a bit and The Voice's live shows did not fare as well. It had slipped to a rating of 5.6 million earlier this month against the Britain's Got Talent final, which drew 11.9 million. On Saturday The Voice's semi-final had an overnight audience of 4.5 million, with Sunday's results show averaging 4.7 million – although audience levels on most TV shows over this particular weekend were massively affected by the hot weather. Speaking before Saturday's semi-final, which featured a performance by former X Factor judge and Heaton Horror Cheryl Cole, De Mol said he 'had to admit' the live shows 'have the most resemblance with other talent shows.' Analysing the reason for the ratings fall, apart from the competition from Britain's Got Talent, De Mol said the fact the BBC had split the live and results shows over Saturday and Sunday nights, as also happens on NBC in the US, might 'take away some of the tension.' De Mol said he was pleased with how the BBC has handled The Voice, adding: 'Television is not maths. We are due to have a big meeting after the final and will talk about what we should change for the second series. There may be a few slight changes.' He said he was 'thrilled' with The Voice coaches Jessie J, Tom Jones, Danny O' Donoghue and Will.i.am. When asked if the same four would feature in the second series, De Mol said: 'I don't know, that's part of the discussions we will have with the BBC after the final. The question is, do the coaches want to continue.' De Mol said even in the Netherlands, where The Voice first aired and was the most successful talent show launch in Dutch television history, 'we have to work on the live shows.' The Voice has been sold to about fifty countries and De Mol said his company Talpa would use its experiences in other territories to make any changes necessary to the UK show. He also revealed that in the next series of the US version there may be 'a few new elements in the live shows.' De Mol said part of his forthcoming discussions with the BBC will include other formats, including The Voice Kids. He said there is 'a fair chance' the show, which looks for talented young singers aged between eight and fourteen, will be broadcast by the BBC. 'It was a tremendous success in Holland. There was a big emotional reaction from the parents of the children talking part, more so than on any other talent show,' De Mol said of The Voice Kids. The BBC is already piloting game show meets talent show format The Winner Is and has commissioned I Love My Country – where contestants are tested on UK history, sport and music. Both formats are owned by De Mol's production company, Talpa.

A BBC4 drama starring Maxine Peake is finally to be shown more than a year after its original scheduled broadcast date. Room At the Top is an adaptation of John Braine's classic 1950s novel, and also stars Matthew McNulty from Lark Rise To Candleford and Misfits. It was supposed to be screened in April 2011 but was pulled at the last minute after a copyright wrangle between Remus Films and the estate of the deceased writer. Production company Green Meadow, said the dispute had now been resolved. The two-part drama will be shown on BBC4 'in the near future,' it added. In a statement, Great Meadow said: 'The producer of the TV adaptation of Room At The Top, Great Meadow Productions, is pleased to announce that the issue of copyright between Remus Films and the Estate of John Braine, represented by David Higham Associates, has been resolved.' David Higham Associates is the literary agency that sold the license to the TV rights in Braine's novel to Green Meadow. This was subsequently challenged by the film company, Remus. The parties involved have declined to comment on the nature of the legal dispute. Braine, one of the 'angry young men' authors of the 1950s, saw his novel published in 1957, and two years later, a film adaptation won lead actress Simone Signoret an Oscar. The drama tells the story of working class boy Joe Lampton, who leaves his village for the affluent mill town of Warley. He takes lodgings at The Top, an area of town where the better-off members of society live, and joins the local amateur dramatic society. His plans to marry into high society hit a stumbling block when he falls for two women, and is unable to choose between them.

Hollyoaks actors Emmett Scanlan and Karen Hassan have been cast in upcoming BBC thriller The Fall. The pair, best known for playing Brendan Brady and Lynsey Nolan in the Channel Four soap, have been filming the five-part drama over the last few weeks. Starring X Files legend Gillian Anderson and Irish actor Jamie Dornan, The Fall focuses on a serial killer on the loose in Belfast and the female detective superintendent in charge of the investigation. Scanlan is playing the role of DC Glen Martin, one of the detectives investigating the unsolved murder that Anderson's character, DSI Gibson, is brought in to review. Meanwhile, Hassan has landed the part of Annie Brawley, a young accountant who catches the eye of the murderer Paul Spector (played by Dornan). As previously announced, the pair's Hollyoaks co-star Bronagh Waugh is also involved in the project, playing the role of Paul's wife Sally-Ann. Scanlan, Hassan and Waugh have all been juggling The Fall with their Hollyoaks commitments and are not leaving the Channel Four soap. Other cast members confirmed for The Fall include ex-Hollyoaks star Gerard McCarthy, Holby City's Niamh McGrady, John Lynch, Simon Delaney and Emmy-winning Good Wife actress Archie Panjabi.

BBC1 controller Danny Cohen takes to the pages of Radio Times and offers managers of losing football teams an ingenious lesson in how to 'look for the positives' post-match without coming across as an idiot. Of his axing of Upstairs Downstairs and The Royal Bodyguard, Cohen says: 'I wouldn't call them flops. I don't like to throw around words like that. I embrace the fact that not everything works because if nothing fails, then you're not taking enough creative risks.'

The chief executive of Ofcom, Ed Richards, has applied for the BBC director general job, the media regulator has confirmed. Ofcom ended weeks of speculation about Richards' intentions on Monday afternoon, issuing a statement saying that 'robust procedures' had been put in place to prevent potential conflicts of interest. 'Given the significant level of speculation surrounding potential applicants for the BBC director general role, Ofcom can confirm that CEO Ed Richards has applied. Robust procedures, agreed by the Ofcom chairman and the board, have been put in place to prevent any potential conflict of interest,' the regulator said. 'Ed has already stepped aside from all discussions and communication at all levels on matters where the BBC may have an interest. This includes board meetings, executive meetings and policy discussions, both formal and informal.' Richards has played a key role in formulating UK media policy over the past decade. As Tony Blair's policy adviser at No 10 he helped draft the Communications Act that brought Ofcom into being in 2003 and then joined the newly formed media regulator as senior partner. He was later promoted to chief operating officer and in 2006 replaced Lord Carter as chief executive. Richards worked at the BBC under director general John Birt as controller of corporate strategy, helping with the planning of the expansion of the corporation's online and digital TV presence in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Other contenders to replace Mark Thompson as BBC director general later this year are understood to include the corporation's chief operating officer, Caroline Thomson, BBC News director Helen Boaden, BBC Vision director George Entwistle and director of BBC Audio and Music Tim Davie.

David Baddiel has denied he is to take Ecstasy on a live TV show. According to the Sun, the comic was going to take the Class A substance, as medics examine its effect on the brain, including euphoria and reducing anxiety. This blog reported the Sun's claims on Saturday. But on Twitter, Baddiel wrote: 'For those congratulating me I'm not going to be taking ecstasy live on C4. I believe it was written in the Sun? So, y'know: it's a lie.' The experiment was said to have been part of a Channel Four series called Drug Live, hosted by newsreader Jon Snow and Embarrassing Bodies presenter Dr Christian Jessen. Politicians, policemen and those who support the medical use of MDMA – which could be used to alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder – will appear on the show in July.

England swept to a nine-wicket victory over West Indies in the second Test at Trent Bridge to wrap up the series with a game to spare. Set one hundred and eight runs to win after bowling the West Indies out for one hundred and sixty five, England eased home thanks to Andrew Strauss's forty five and an unbeaten forty three from Alastair Cook. Earier, Marlon Samuels finished seventy six not out as West Indies added one hundred and four to their overnight sixty one for six. Tim Bresnan claimed four LBWs in his four for thirty seven, while Jimmy Anderson took four for forty three. Victory sealed a seventh straight series win on home soil for England, who head to Edgbaston for the final Test starting next Thursday aiming to complete a three-nil whitewash.

The government is to reverse its plans to impose VAT on Cornish pasties, the BBC has learned. Ministers have also reduced the intended twenty per cent charge which was due to be levied on static caravans to five per cent. The U-turn from Chancellor George Osborne's Budget follows a large-scale protest by bakers, caravanning enthusiasts and stand-up comedians. The government has altered the definition of what is a 'hot' pasty to allow the reversal of its plans. After the amendment, food such as sausage rolls or pasties sold on shelves - that is, cooling down, rather than being kept hot in a special cabinet - will not be liable for VAT. During a parliamentary debate last week, MPs from all three main parties criticised Osborne's daft proposals, arguing they were 'unenforceable' and would have an adverse impact on jobs and businesses. Currently, VAT is not charged on most food and drink, or in hot baked goods, but is payable on takeaway food sold to be eaten hot. However, hot savouries including pasties and pies are exempt. The U-turn would effectively maintain this situation. Static caravans do not currently incur VAT.

So to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, given what a terrific start to the day yer actual Keith Telly Topping had (see above), here's something truly joyous. The duelling guitars of the mighty Fall.

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