Thursday, May 31, 2012

When The Change Was Made Uptown And The Big Man Joined The Band

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping spent part of Wednesday - lunch-time, basically - lunching like a jolly big lunching thing with two of his finest media chums, top local author and blogger Malcolm Holt and yer actual Keith Telly Topping's writing partner, the actor, comedian, local radio personality and legend that is Alfie Joey. And, very nice it was too. Proper. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping has one titbit of exclusive news which he can report as a consequence; Alf his very self is to be appearing in a small role in an episode of the forthcoming six-part BBC2 sitcom Hebburn, featuring Jason Cook, Chris Ramsey, Vic Reeves and Gina McKee. Alf filmed his bit - as a doctor - a couple of weeks ago in Salford for a scene featuring Gina and Vic who play the mum and dad of Jason's character. The show is, as previously announced, being made for BBC Manchester by Henry Normal and Steve Coogan's Baby Cow productions, the makers of Ideal, Starlings, The Mighty Boosh and many others.

The BBC has released a new Doctor Who behind-the-scenes promo video. The BBC's popular, long-running family SF drama recently relocated to the Roath Lock studios in Cardiff, which will also serve as a home for the new Russell Davies series Wizards vs Aliens. The new promotional clip features Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill and provides a brief look at a script read-through for one of Gillan and Darvill's final episodes. The pair will depart the show midway through the seventh series, in an episode filmed in part on-location in New York. Doctor Who showrunner The lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) recently told the Digital Spy website that it was 'incredibly sad' bidding farewell to the two actors. 'It's a huge upheaval - it's personal and it's human,' he explained. 'People should not underestimate how upsetting it is for everybody involved in it. I don't mean "upsetting" in the sense that it's a tragedy - it's not. But it's a huge bloody change - it's someone moving out of your house, that's how big it is.'
The prime minister's former director of communications and ex-Scum of the World editor Andy Coulson has been detained by police investigating allegations of perjury. Coulson, forty four, was detained at his home in the Dulwich area of London at 06:30 on Wednesday by seven officers from Strathclyde Police. Whether or not he was dragged from his bed kicking and screaming and carted off to the Cop Hhop, we don't know. He has been held on suspicion of committing perjury at the trial of Tommy Sheridan in 2010. Coulson was taken to Glasgow for questioning. That is, of course, a long drive - eight hours minimum. But, on the other hand, it gives one plenty of time to get ones story straight. A police spokeswoman said: 'Officers from Strathclyde Police's Operation Rubicon team detained a forty four-year-old man in London this morning under section fourteen of the Criminal Procedure Scotland act 1995 on suspicion of committing perjury before the High Court in Glasgow. It would be inappropriate to comment further in this case.' Coulson gave evidence in the perjury trial of Tommy Sheridan in December 2010. Former Scottish Socialist Party leader Sheridan was jailed for three years for allegedly lying under oath during his defamation action against the Scum of the World in 2006. He was freed in January of this year. Sheridan was awarded two hundred thousand smackers in 2006 in damages after winning his defamation case against the disgraced and disgraceful newspaper at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, but he later ended up in the dock facing a trial for perjury. Coulson was called to give evidence at Sheridan's trial as he was editor of the Scum of the World between 2003 and 2007. During heated exchanges with Sheridan, who represented himself at the trial, Coulson denied being involved in, or aware of any illegal activities, including phone-hacking. At the time of his two-day appearance, he was employed as David Cameron's director of communications. Coulson resigned from that post in January 2011, saying coverage of the Scum of the World phone-hacking scandal had 'made it difficult to give the one hundred and ten per cent needed in this role.' In July 2011, he was arrested by Metropolitan Police investigating the Scum of the World hacking scandal and later released on bail.

The business secretary Vince Cable has claimed that 'veiled threats' were made against the Liberal Democrats when he was assessing News Corporation's 2010 bid for BSkyB. He told the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics that his party was warned it would be 'done over' in the firm's newspapers if he ruled against its takeover attempt. Cable was removed from his role after being secretly recorded saying he had 'declared war' on billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch. He put his comments on News Corp's boss down to 'pent-up feelings.' Cable's role was handed to the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt, who has come under fire after it emerged he had expressed support for the bid. In December 2010, the business secretary was covertly recorded telling two undercover Daily Torygraph reporters claiming to be constituents that he was seeking to block News Corp's attempt to buy the sixty one per cent of BSkyB shares it did not already own, by referring the bid to regulators Ofcom. In his witness statement to the inquiry, Cable said his references to a 'war' were 'making the point, no doubt rather hyperbolically, that I had no intention of being intimidated.' He told the inquiry his language was part of a longer conversation and influenced by the fact that he was in an 'extremely tense and emotional frame of mind' after a protest took place outside his constituency office. 'I had heard directly and indirectly from colleagues that there had been veiled threats, that if I made the wrong decision from the point of view of the company, my party would be - I think somebody used the phrase - "done over" in the News International press,' Cable said. 'I took those things seriously. I was very concerned. I had myself tried to deal with the process entirely properly and impartially and I discovered that this was happening in the background. I frankly stored up my anger at what was taking place. But, in that very special and tense situation I rather offloaded my feelings.' Cable said he believed the 'threats' against his party came from conversations with News Corp lobbyist Frederic Michel but cross examined by Rhodri Davies QC, counsel for the company, refused to identify the person who had informed him of the reports. Earlier, questioned by inquiry counsel Robert Jay QC on making quasi-judicial decisions on issues like the BSkyB bid, Cable said he was able to use 'an independent mind. With an independent mind doesn't mean with a blank mind,' he added. 'Most people in public life have views, the requirement in this position is to set those on one side for the sake of making this decision, to consider representations, the evidence.' He had thought Murdoch's newspapers held 'disproportionate political influence' but that was not a factor in his decision to refer the bid. 'My views about this company were actually quite nuanced,' he said. He added that he did not wish to be 'disrespectful' to News Corp executive James Murdoch, the small by turning down a meeting, but decided it was 'not appropriate.' The company had the option to put its views in writing which it did, he added. He also received lobbying from groups including the BBC, the TUC, media firm Enders, the Gruniad, BT and Capital Research Management. The vile and odious rascal Hunt is to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on Thursday. Last week, it emerged that he had sent a memo to David Cameron indicating his support for the deal, prior to being appointed to oversee the bid, but also cautioning it would be 'wrong for the government to get involved in such a competition issue.' The lack culture secretary insists he oversaw the process 'with scrupulous fairness' and his conduct has been backed by Cameron and his department's most senior civil servant.

The vile and odious rascal Hunt, it would seem, has a serious challenger for the job of chief cheerleader for billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch. Loathsome brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Michael Gove clashed with Lord Justice Leveson over the need to stiffen regulation of the press in a forty-minute stand-off at the end of testimony from the education secretary on Tuesday, which was peppered with historical references, literary quotes and sickeningly sycophantic arse-licking praise for billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch. Brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove – unsurprisingly a Times leader writer before he became an MP and therefore, double scum – provoked Leveson by repeatedly warning of the perils of introducing any laws to reform the press, claiming a few slips in standards was the price society had to pay for a 'precious' freedom of speech. Brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove claimed he was 'unashamedly on the side of those who say that we should think very carefully before legislation and regulation because the cry "something must be done" often leads to people doing something which isn't always wise.' What, like hacking phones of missing schoolgirls, you mean? He rejected several invitations by Leveson to see that press reform was 'necessary.' A long standing admirer of Murdoch, brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove got his tongue right up his former boss's crack by saying that the News Corporation mogul was 'one of the most impressive and significant figures of the last fifty years,' and a 'force of nature, a phenomenon, a great man.' Christ, it was sickening. Brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove said that he had met Murdoch and/or other senior News Corporation figures eleven times in the fourteen months after he became education secretary after the general election, but claimed he 'never once' discussed the company's bid for BSkyB. Under pressure from Leveson, brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove did agree that both phone-hacking and bribery or corruption of officials were to be 'deplored.' But the best remedy, he suggested, was to ensure existing laws were 'sufficient to punish those who have been responsible for wrongdoing.' He insisted that journalists were exercising a 'precious liberty' and 'by definition free speech doesn't mean anything unless some people are going to be offended some of the time.' In the face of the verbal onslaught, Leveson eventually snapped: 'Mr Gove, I do not need to be told about the importance of freedom of speech, I really don't.' Leveson reminded brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove about the string of witnesses such as the parents of Madeleine McCann or the Dowler family whose testimony to the inquiry caused a wave of public revulsion against the more odious end of British journalism. 'Do you dismiss the public concern?' asked Leveson. 'I am concerned that the effect of what you say might be that you are in fact taking the view that behaviour which everybody so far in this inquiry has said is unacceptable, albeit not necessarily criminal, has to be accepted because of the right of freedom of speech. Don't you think that some of the evidence I have heard from at least some of those who have been subject to press attention can be characterised as rather more than, "Some people are going to be offended some of the time?"' Brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove said: 'I am sure that there are cases where journalists and others have behaved in ways which are deplorable.' Indeed. Much like some politicians whom we could all probably name. But, he added: 'We should think carefully about the effects of regulations. Is it the right remedy to the particular problem.' Brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove's afternoon appearance began with him indicating that politicians had repeatedly used spin, noting that writers such as Daniel Defoe and Samuel Johnson had written for politicians. He said there were many instances where the press had abused its power. The 'empire free trade campaign' of the early 1930s backed by Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Rothermere, the respective owners of the Daily Scum Express and the Daily Scum Mail, against Conservative leader Stanley Baldwin was an example. Brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove said he met Murdoch, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and more than ten other guests on 19 May 2010, within two weeks of the formation of the coalition government. Described as a 'dinner and general discussion,' brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove said it was a party in Murdoch's flat in St James in central London. 'I think there was at least one other minister there, I couldn't swear to it,' he told the inquiry. The following month, on 10 June, brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove and his wife attended another 'dinner and general discussion' with Brooks and several others. Gove said: 'It was inevitable, because Rebekah Brooks had been an employee of News International when I was working at The Times and because my wife continues to work at The Times, some of the conversation was about mutual acquaintances in the world of journalism.' On 17 June brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove attended a lunch with News International executives and senior editors including billionaire tyrant Murdoch and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks. The lunch followed a board meeting at News International's Wapping HQ and brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove was interviewed by The Times columnist Daniel Finkelstein. 'It was generally the case that they would invite a guest speaker from the world of politics to speak to them,' said brown-tongued wretched odious slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove. The company's bid for Sky, announced two days earlier, did not come up, he claimed.

Theresa May was briefed on how to answer questions about David Cameron's 'embarrassing' links with ex-Scum of the World editor Andy Coulson at the height of the phone-hacking scandal. Documents submitted to the Leveson Inquiry show the Home Secretary was also given a list of damaging points about Cameron's decision to hire the former editor as his chief spin doctor. The papers give an insight into how the Government was worried the phone-hacking scandal would spread closer to the Prime Minister in July 2011. May was briefed after details emerged about the close relationship between Neil Wallis, the former Scum of the World deputy, and Sir Paul Stephenson, then the Metropolitan Police commissioner. A note for May lists potential questions that she may be asked by critics about Sir Paul's decision to hire Wallis as an adviser while the force was investigating phone-hacking. It says 'the key political question is about Coulson, surely?' One possible question reads: 'Sir Paul Stephenson says he felt he couldn't tell the the Prime Minister or Home Secretry about Neil Wallis because it would have embarrassed the Prime Minister because of his relations with Andy Coulson.' May said she 'could not recall' Sir Paul ever expressing such worries to her. Another hypothetical question read: 'Isn't the Andy Coulson link worse? He resigned from the News of the World, where Neil Wallis did not?' The prepared answer signalled that May should reply: 'I remain concerned about the Met's contract with Neil Wallis. There has to be a clear line between the investigator and the investigated.' May claimed that she was surprised that Sir Paul eventually resigned. It had also emerged that he took free hospitality from Wallis to stay in a luxurious spa with his wife. 'I felt he had led the Metropolitan Police well when he was commissioner,' she said. May also gave evidence that she was first properly briefed about the phone-hacking scandal in autumn 2010. She was then reassured by Tim Godwin, acting Metropolitan Police commissioner, that the phone-hacking inquiry was 'under control' in January 2011.

Azerbaijan says that it has arrested forty people suspected of having plotted a 'terrorist' attack on last week's Eurovision Song Contest in Baku. Presumably outraged Englebert Humperdinck fans. The Azeri National Security Ministry For Detention And Chastisement claimed that the conspiring insurgents had planned to attack the event's venue - the Baku Crystal Hall - and several hotels on the eve of the competition. The news was deliberately held back to 'prevent alarm' among visitors, it added. There has been no independent confirmation of the alleged plot. The suspects had 'obtained Eurovision tickets with the aim of [committing] a terrorist act at the Baku Crystal Hall,' the official statement said. Among the hotels named as targets were Hilton Baku and the JW Marriott Hotel. The plotters allegedly had links to neighbouring Dagestan, a mainly Muslim enclave in the Russian North Caucasus plagued by Islamist insurgent attacks. The suspects were found 'possessing guns and explosives,' the ministry says. Saturday's pop competition, watched by millions of TV viewers worldwide, was won by Swedish singer Loreen.

The Oscar-winning actor Sir Sean Connery has been told by police that they believe he was a 'repeated' victim of phone hacking, the Gruniad has learned. The Scottish screen actor, best known for playing the secret agent James Bond - oh yesh - has been told by police that he was hacked 'about ten times,' making him one of the highest profile victims so far in the hacking scandal. Becaus,e frankly, you mess with Big Sean at your peril. Ask Blodfeld. He saw off three of those. Four if you count Never Say Never Again. Which, to be fair, most people don't. It is understood that Connery's name appears in the records of Glenn Mulcaire, the private detective for the Scum of the World. The incidents were confirmed on Tuesday by Connery's close friend and biographer Murray Grigor, who recently travelled to New York to launch a new film, starring Connery, about St Andrew's University. After confirming the details with Connery in Switzerland late on Tuesday, Grigor said: 'Apparently there were ten instances. The police were quite excited about it but he doesn't want to know. He doesn't want anything to do with it. He's just having a good time and he just shrugged it off.' Connery, now eighty one, has largely retired from acting. The winner of two BAFTAs and three Golden Globes, Connery starred in six James Bond films between 1962 and 1971. He also won the best supporting actor Oscar for his role in the film The Untouchables. Connery's hacking is likely to increase the pressure on the first minister, Alex Salmond, to confirm or deny whether he, too, was a hacking victim when he appears at the Leveson inquiry next month. Connery is the latest figure in Salmond's circle to be drawn into the hacking affair. A Scottish nationalist, Connery is Salmond's most famous admirer and friend. He sent a written endorsement for the launch last Friday of the yes campaign for Scottish independence. Salmond has been resisting intense pressure to hold a Scottish parliamentary inquiry into hacking after opposition complaints about his agreement to lobby the Westminster government to boost Murdoch's bid to take over BSkyB. He made that offer at the same time as he brokered a deal to win the Sun's endorsement of the SNP at the last Scottish election, which included features in which Connery publicly endorsed Salmond and the SNP. Earlier in May, Salmond's parliamentary aide Joan McAlpine, a journalist who worked for News International before becoming an MSP, revealed she had also been warned by police her name was in Mulcaire's records. She wrote the Connery interviews for the Sun, with her expenses paid by the SNP. Her name, address and mobile phone number appeared in Mulcaire's detailed notes about the former Scottish Socialist party leader Tommy Sheridan. McAlpine made the disclosure in her Daily Record column two days after the former first minister, Jack McConnell, disclosed that he and his two adult children were likely hacking victims.

BBC News breached laws on identifying children involved in criminal proceedings with a BBC1 10pm news bulletin report on last year's summer riots, the BBC Trust has found. The BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee ruled on Tuesday that the news bulletin on 12 August last year partially identified a thirteen-year-old boy convicted over the riots in breach of the Children and Young Persons Act. A viewer complaint about the bulletin was partially upheld by the trust, which ruled that it was in breach of both the law and BBC internal editorial guidelines. The report showed the child leaving youth court with an adult after being convicted of offences linked to the riots across England. The boy, whose pixellated face was also obscured by the hood of his top, was shown running away from TV cameras while being questioned and pursued by the media. The BBC Trust said in its report: 'The committee concluded that, despite the measures taken by the BBC to obscure the child's and accompanying adults' identities, the child may have been identifiable to those who knew him well. [And] that, having determined that the child was identifiable from the report, the BBC had failed to comply with the Children and Young Persons Act 1993.' The BBC had taken steps to obscure the identity of the teenager, pixellating both his and the adults' faces as well as their reflections on a wall outside the court. However, the compliance body ruled that the boy was still identifiable by those who knew him if they pieced together his age, height, build, dress and the voice of his mother. The BBC's head of newsroom, Mary Hockaday, admitted the error after a viewer complaint, the trust said. A spokeswoman for the BBC said: 'We note the findings of the ESC bulletin and have taken the trust's recommendations on board.' The bulletin further breached editorial guidelines by broadcasting the pursuit of the teenager, but not by filming it, the trust said.

Daily game show Countdown grabbed attention this week when a middle clutch of letters pulled out for the board spelled the word 'Minge.' Heh. Sorry. No, but really ... 'minge'! Ahem. Sorry. Twitter was, it would seem, all a flutter, and thankfully in the age of catch-up TV it was very easy to pop on to 4OD and see it for oneself. Recently, Rachel Riley claimed that 'you can't have blatant filth' on the show. She was clearly wrong. The winning combination from this round was actually the word 'Mingers', with Suzi Purcell beating Elaine Rhodes to the seven points. Asked about the indelicate word popping up, Channel Four said: 'We have it on good authority that the word "minge" is in the Oxford Dictionary.' It is. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping can confirm that the dictionary states the word is 'slang and regional (chiefly Brit)' and describes 'the female genitals; pubic hair. Hence allusively: women, regarded collectively as objects of sexual gratification.' It added that the word's first recorded usage in English was circa 1903 F Hall's English Dialect Dictionary ('[E. Suffolk] Minge, the female pudendum'). 'Just goes to show that as a Countdown viewer you learn something every day,' Channel Four added.

A commercial for the mobile phone company Phones 4U featuring a ghost-like child was the most-complained about advertisement last year. The latest Advertising Standards Authority figures show a sharp increase in complaints in 2011, up twenty five per cent over the previous year to a record thirty one thousand four hundred. All of which suggests, once again, that we should all stand back and marvel at the absolute shat some people chose to care about. The Phones 4U campaign, which took inspiration from horror films such as The Ring, prompted six hundred and fifty nine complaints. From glakes. In second place was a Littlewoods TV advert, which garnered five hundred and eighty five complaints for the dreadful 'crime' of disclosing that Father Christmas does not bring presents (and, actually, doesn't exist). Some parents - who frankly want to start acting their age not their bloody shoe size - apparently called for the advert to be 'rescheduled' for when children are in bed, but – as with the Phones 4U commercial – very satisfyingly the ASA was unmoved and said neither broke the advertising code. And, they added, that such parents show 'grow the hell up and stop acting like daft bastards.' Or something. Phones 4U managed to get three campaigns in the ASA's top ten most complained-about adverts of 2011. The second, an Easter press campaign featuring a cartoon image of Jesus Christ winking and offering 'miraculous deals' on a mobile phone, attracted nearly one hundred complaints and was banned after being ruled likely to cause serious offence. To those looking to be offended. The third, a TV spot with a zombie character, drew seventy nine complaints but was cleared. Travel Palestine had the fifth most complained-about advert of the year. It earned one hundred and forty nine complaints and a rebuke from the ASA for a magazine campaign suggesting that Palestine was 'recognised as a country' and that areas such as Jerusalem were part of its territory. The biggest growth in complaints last year stemmed from Internet advertising. Consumers complained over ten thousand times about nine thousand two hundred different Internet adverts last year, increases of two hundred and eighty two per cent and three hundred per cent respectively. This puts Internet advertising a whisker behind the most complained-about media, TV commercials, which saw a twenty per cent decline last year to eleven thousand two hundred and forty five complaints, referring to five thousand five hundred and fifty six TV commercials. The main driver of the surge in web complaints last year was the extension of the ASA's remit to include adverts and offers placed on a media owner's own website, such as offers made directly by an airline, retailer or telecoms company, as well as the marketing claims made by food brands and soft drink makers. However, no 2011 adverts came even close to causing as much anger as those on the ASA's list of all-time top ten most complained-about campaigns, which it released to mark its fifty-year anniversary. KFC tops the list with a TV advert from 2005 featuring call centre workers singing while stuffing their mouths full of takeaway, which attracted sixteen hundred and seventy one complaints but no ban. Others in the list include Paddy Power's infamous 2010 commercial showing a cat being kicked into a tree by a blind footballer, which drew thirteen hundred and thirteen complaints. The Christian party's assertion that 'there definitely is a God' annoyed atheists (and, some agnostics and more than a few Cjhristians who wondered why God suddenly needs to advertise if he's omnipresent) and became the fourth most complained-about advert with one thousand two hundred and four complaints. The campaign was a riposte to the British Humanist Association's bus campaign slogan: 'There probably is no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life.' Sound advice some might argue. The all-time list also includes the first British TV advert to offer advice on abortion services, which was cleared despite attracting more than a thousand complaints, and the government's climate change TV campaign, which was censured for scaremongering and exaggeration.

People in Northern Ireland will be able to watch RTE TV channels on Freeview following digital TV switchover, the government has confirmed. Three channels - RTE One, Two and TG4 - will be available. Freeview delivery of the channels will be supplemented by overspill coverage from Saorview, its equivalent in the Republic. Digital switchover is to be completed in Northern Ireland on 24 October of this year. Minister of State for Northern Ireland Hugo Swire said: 'This announcement is the culmination of a great deal of work involving the UK and Irish governments, the broadcasters themselves and the regulatory bodies. I'm pleased to welcome this important practical step, which will increase the coverage of RTE1 and 2 and importantly of TG4 following digital switchover later this year.' Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: 'I'm delighted that the digital future for TG4, RTE One and RTE Two in Northern Ireland is now strengthened and secure. Today's announcement is good news for viewers and continues our delivery on commitments set out in the Good Friday agreement.' Irish Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte added: 'This announcement means that from Analogue Switch-off on 24 October, over ninety per cent of viewers in Northern Ireland will be able to receive TG4 and the two primary RTE channels in digital. It is a hugely positive result in terms of practical cooperation resulting from the Good Friday Agreement.'

Simon Pegg has insisted that the villain in the upcoming Star Trek sequel will not be Khan Singh. The Hot Fuzz actor returns as Scotty in the sequel to the blockbuster 2009 film, also starring Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and Chris Pine. Benedict Cumberbatch has been cast as the villain in the JJ Abrams picture, with numerous reports suggesting that he would be playing the fan-favourite antagonist Khan, who made his first appearance in the first season of Star Trek in 1967, played by Ricardo Montalbán. However, in an interview with the Daily Torygraph Pegg once again stated that Khan will play no part in the highly-anticipated film. He said: 'It's not Khan. That's a myth. Everyone's saying it is, but it's not. I think people just want to have a scoop. It annoys me - it's beyond the point to just ferret around for spoilers all the time to try to be the first to break them. It just spoils the film. It masquerades as interest in the movie but really it's just nosiness and impatience. You just want to say, "Oh fuck off! Wait for the film!"' Star Trek 2 is due for release on 17 May 2013 in the US and the UK.

American Idol executive producer Nasty Nigel Lythgoe says that he is 'very annoyed' at suggestions from TV network FOX that the talent show needs changes. FOX entertainment president Kevin Reilly told reporters last week ratings had 'dropped more than anticipated.' But Lythgoe told TV Line the drop was 'not unexpected,' as rival shows X Factor and The Voice were 'in the mix now.' Some 21.5 million viewers tuned into watch the finale of American Idol last week, down thrity two per cent from last year's figure. The show still remains one of the most watched programme on US television and, at its peak, more than thirty eight million viewers tuned into the watch the finale of the singing contest. Nonetheless, this year's series suffered a slump. Average ratings for the season fell below twenty million viewers for the first time since 2003. In an effort to 'put some fresh energy in,' Reilly said the show would undergo 'some creative tweaking' next season. He added that, in retrospect, the changes should have been made this year. Lythgoe said he was 'very annoyed' by the remarks, adding: 'When Kevin says we've got to do new things next year, what are the changes? The format is a very simple format - kids audition for us. Their talent is what brings people in to watch the show. Do we change the format? Maybe we should do it underwater while basket weaving? I get very annoyed with people, especially executives that should know what they're talking about, making statements like that,' he said. Lythgoe has been the producer of American Idol since its first series in 2002. He is best known in the UK as the lead judge on the first series of Popstars in 2000 - which led to him being branded 'Nasty Nigel' in the tabloid press. The British-born TV executive said American Idol's ratings decline had been inevitable after FOX picked up Simon Cowell's X Factor. Broadcasting both shows on the same network, he added, was the equivalent of airing two series of American Idol back-to-back. 'I'm shocked that [Reilly] would say we didn't anticipate that,' he said. 'We always stayed away from [airing] two seasons of American Idol [per calendar year], knowing that ratings would dip and the public would get tired.' He added: 'There's just a lot more on offer today and kids don't always watch the television any more. The world has changed in the eleven years that we've been doing this.'

President Barack Obama has bestowed the nation's highest civilian honour on political and cultural figures in a ceremony at the White House. Musician Bob Dylan, astronaut John Glenn, and Israeli President Shimon Peres were among the Medal of Freedom recipients. The award is given to people from all walks of life who have made exceptional contributions to society. It was established by former President John F Kennedy in 1963. Dylan was born Robert Zimmerman on 24 May 1941 and began his musical career in 1959, playing in Minnesota coffee houses. He allegedly took his stage name from the poet Dylan Thomas and, not coincidentally, paid as much attention to his lyrics as his music. Much of his best-known work dates from the 1960s, when he became an informal historian of America's troubles. His move away from traditional folk songwriting, paired with a controversial decision to 'go electric' during a world tour in 1966, proved equally influential - his confessional, introspective lyrics were undoubtedly absorbed by The Beatles in their later work. He continues to record and tour, expanding his horizons with a US radio show and a recently signed six-book publishing deal. Another luminary to be awarded the honour, Toni Morrison, is renowned for her portrayal of the African-American experience in novels such as Song Of Solomon and Beloved, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. Born Chloe Anthony Wofford in 1931 in Ohio, she went on to become a senior editor at publishers Random House before pursuing her writing career. Outside of novels, she has written literary criticism and even lyrics for operas, including Honey and Rue, with music by Andre Previn. Once asked by a student who she wrote for, Morrison replied: 'I want to write for people like me, which is to say black people, curious people, demanding people. People who can't be faked, people who don't need to be patronised, people who have very, very high criteria.'

Grammy award-winning folk and bluegrass guitarist Arthel Doc Watson has died in North Carolina aged eighty nine. The American musician died following abdominal surgery, and had been in a critical condition for several days, his manager said. Watson, who was blinded as a child, was known for his lightning-fast style of flatpicking which influenced guitarists around the world. He won eight Grammy Awards including a lifetime achievement prize in 2004. Watson died at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, where he was admitted recently after falling at his home. 'Doc was a legendary performer who blended his traditional Appalachian musical roots with bluegrass, country, gospel and blues to create a unique style and an expansive repertoire,' his management company, Folklore Productions, said. 'He was a powerful singer and a tremendously influential picker who virtually invented the art of playing mountain fiddle tunes on the flattop guitar.' Blinded by an eye infection before his first birthday, he learned to play the banjo at the age of five before picking up a guitar in his early teens. He got his musical start in 1953 playing lead guitar in a country-and-western swing band and became a full-time professional musician in the 1960s. Watson's mastery of flatpicking helped make the guitar a lead instrument in the 1950s and 1960s, where it was often previously considered a back-up for the mandolin, fiddle or banjo. For much of his career he toured and recorded with his son, Merle Watson, who died in a tractor accident in 1985. Arthur set up an annual fundraising musical event, Merlefest, in his son's memory. The musician played at events across the US from folk festivals to the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York and recorded some sixty LPs, with his most popular songs including 'Tom Dooley', 'Shady Grove' and 'Rising Sun Blues'. Country and bluegrass singer Ricky Skaggs paid tribute to Watson saying: 'An old ancient warrior has gone home. He knew he wouldn't last forever, he did his best to carry the old mountain sounds to this generation,' he added. Neil Portnow, the president of the Recording Academy, praised Watson for his 'masterful skills as a musician and his beautiful, emotion-filled voice. Watson's immense talent and spirit will be deeply missed, and our sincerest sympathies go out to his family, friends and all who were inspired by his music.'

The importance of the Wenlock Olympian Games, a forerunner to the modern Olympics, was marked on day twelve of the torch relay from Chester to Stoke. The Wenlock Games were founded in 1850 by Dr William Penny Brookes, who lived in the Shropshire town of Much Wenlock, one of Wednesday's stops. One of the London 2012 official mascots is named Wenlock in recognition of the sleepy little market town's historic significance. Later, 1988 GB hockey gold medallist Imran Sherwani carried the flame. Sherwani, one of only two Olympic gold medallists to come from Stoke, scored twice in a memorable 3-1 victory over West Germany in the final in Seoul. It was a performance which prompted one of the most famous pieces of BBC commentary as Barry Davies asked the question: 'Where, oh, where were the Germans? And frankly, who cares?' The Olympic flame received a rapturous welcome as it was carried into Much Wenlock shortly after 13:00. People stood on rubbish bins and leaned out of the windows at the Victorian and Georgian houses overlooking the street as the torch approached the house of Dr Penny Brookes, who wanted to see his vision for sporting competition on a grander stage. He invited Baron Pierre de Coubertin to visit the Wenlock Games in 1890. Four years later, the baron founded the International Olympic Congress and in 1896, the first summer Olympics took place in Athens. The Wenlock Games still take place each July at seven locations across Shropshire, with the town remaining as the focal point. Among the torchbearers in Much Wenlock were: Olympic bronze-medal winning archer Alison Williamson, who is set to compete for Team GB for the sixth time later this summer and eighty three-year-old Ron Miles, who was born and bred in the county, served in the army and later became one of the first volunteer helpers at the Ironbridge Gorge museum near Telford, one of the later points along the route. The torch arrived at the two hundred and thirty-year-old cast iron bridge, which was decorated with special Olympic banners, in mid-afternoon to be greeted by a special peel of bells from nearby St Luke's church. Thousands of people watched the flame's journey across the bridge, carried by Lydon Flavell, thirty seven, from Wolverhampton, with a number of them positioned on a flotilla of boats on the River Severn, which flows underneath. The day began in Chester with the first torchbearer, sixteen year old badminton prospect Jenny Moore, who set off just before seven pm. In all, one hundred and nineteen people carried the Olympic flame during the one hundred and thirty three-mile journey to its overnight stop. The torch then headed back into Wales, where John Atkinson of the British Olympic Association carried the flame in Wrexham. Later, eighty two-year-old Ronald Price, from Llandrillo, who still visits a gym every week and delivers Meals on Wheels to the elderly, took the flame to the town's Guildhall. Reflecting on the honour, Price quipped that he 'felt twenty again.' Hundreds of people had gathered at Llwyn Isaf, the open space next to the Guildhall, to see torch arrive. The torch then visited Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and was placed on a boat for a trip along the Llangollen Canal. The relay travelled through border towns including Oswestry and Welshpool before turning east towards Shrewsbury, where Shropshire Council tweeted that 'an incredible forty thousand people' were estimated to have cheered the torch on. Injured Afghanistan war veteran Ricky Furgusson carried the Olympic flame through Broseley. The Telford-born twenty six-year-old lost both his legs, his left eye and fingers from both hands when he was injured on active service. He received huge support from the crowd, which included members of the Fourth Battalion, the Rifles. Later on Wednesday, the relay progressed through Stafford and Stoke where Tony Pulis, manager of the city's Premier League football club, carried the torch as it left the Potteries Museum. Pulis was drafted in as a substitute when eight hundred metre runner Emma Jackson withdrew after being invited to compete in Wednesday's Diamond League athletics meeting in Rome. Pulis is taking time off from the On Yer Bike celebrity challenge from John O'Groats to Land's End to carry the torch. He said: 'I am extremely honoured to be given the privilege of representing Stoke-on-Trent and to be among those offered this most prestigious of opportunities. This is an historic event for the whole of Britain and it is an immensely proud feeling to be able to say that you are carrying the Olympic torch as part of that build-up.'

Brendan Rodgers has agreed a deal to become the new manager of Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws. The thirty nine-year-old will sign a three-year contract at Anfield and his appointment is likely to be officially confirmed within twenty four hours according to BBC Sport. So, if this doesn't happen by the time this blog goes live, you know whom to blame! Liverpool will pay Swansea City between four and five million smackers in compensation to secure the Northern Irishman's services. Liverpool - very amusingly - sacked former manager Kenny Dalglish on 16 May after finishing eighth in the Premier League. The Reds were seventeen points away from a Champions League qualification spot and didn't even end the season as the top team in Liverpool, although they did win the League Cup and reached the FA Cup final. In contrast, Rodgers guided his Swansea side to an impressive first season in the top flight, including a 1-0 win over Liverpool on the final day of the season. After parting ways with Dalglish, Liverpool embarked on an extensive search for a new manager. The Reds were linked not only with Rodgers and Wigan manager Roberto Martinez but also former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas, ex-England coach Fabio Capello and Ajax manager Frank de Boer. Rodgers declined the opportunity to speak to Liverpool about the vacancy twelve days ago and instead the club's hierarchy sought a meeting with Wigan's Martinez. But it appears Rodgers was always the preferred candidate, despite Wigan gobshite chairman Dave Whelan at one point suggesting his manager had been offered the job at Anfield. Typically accurate as ever, Dangerous Dave.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is, this very Thursday evening, attending the latest Record Player event at the Tyneside. This week, it's a touch of The Boss. So, here's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Hot damn.

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