Thursday, June 14, 2012

All The Stars Were Shining Bright And Then He Kissed Me

David Tennant's time on Doctor Who took away his privacy, but hasn't left him typecast, the actor has told the new issue of Radio Times magazine – and he says his successor Matt Smith is 'brilliant' in the role. 'I'm very glad it happened,' Tennant said of his time on the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama. 'Mercifully, I haven't been typecast and it opened more doors than it closed. I was never bored, but I wanted to make sure I left before it became a job. It's still thriving and Matt Smith is brilliant in the part.' Tennant admitted that his personal life had been affected by such a big breakthrough role: 'Of course I lost a certain amount of right to privacy, which is not what I'd choose, but I accept. No one can teach you what it's like to be observed in public. I remember, before I was that person, watching well-known people walk into a room – you imbue them with inner confidence and a slightly royal presence. Yet when it's you, it's terrifying. The world's perception of you has changed while you remain the same.' The actor, who is reluctant to make details of his private life public, hinted at a difficult relationship with the tabloid press: 'I've had a go at them. I'm not suggesting my phone was hacked, although it would make sense of certain moments in my life when I was surprised about how some information became public. It's difficult to do anything about inaccuracy or intrusion even if you think you have a good case. Grapple with the Daily Mail and you're up against some serious lawyers. You understand what you're getting into by being on TV. I'm not that naive. But there's a sense everyone in the public eye has to have moral purity. I don't see why, because you're in a TV programme, you have to be perfect.' Tennant brushed off bad reviews for his 2011 film The Decoy Bride: 'It's disappointing when something in which you've invested time and love isn't well received. But there's little you can do. As the years trundle on you become objective. I thought it was a lovely film, but critics probably aren't writing for its intended audience. Every fresh project is a gamble. You draw a deep breath, and ask yourself, "What's the worst that can happen?" and the answer is, "That it’s not very good?" You can’t worry.'

Meanwhile, speaking of David's successor, another photo has been released of Matt and Jenn-Louise Coleman on location filming the current series of Doctor Who. And, very nice it is too.
Course, that Jenna, she's got big shoes to fill.
And, so to some non-Doctor Who-related news. Here's the consolidated, final ratings figures for the Top Twenty programmes week-ending 3 June 2012:-
1 Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant - BBC1 Sun - 10.47m
2 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 8.90m
3 Coronation Street - ITV Thurs - 8.42m
4 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 8.01m
5 The Voice - BBC1 Sat - 7.82m
6 A Jubilee Tribute To The Queen By The Prince Of Wales - BBC1 Fri - 7.68m
7 The Apprentice - BBC1 Wed - 7.23m
8 Gary Barlow: On Her Majesty's Service - BBC1 Sun - 6.94m
9 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 6.9m
10 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 6.40m
11 The National Lottery Saturday Draws - BBC1 Sat - 5.86m
12 Lewis - ITV Wed - 5.71m*
13 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 5.60m
14 Vera - ITV Sun - 5.59m
15 Silk - BBC1 Tues - 5.56m
16 International Football: England versus Belgium - ITV Sat - 5.10m
17 Elizabeth: Queen, Wife, Mother - ITV Fri - 5.09m*
18 Have I Got News For You - BBC1 Fri - 4.81m
19 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Tues - 4.80m
20 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 4.68m
Programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. So, for all of the crass whinging from various scum anti-BBC organs of the press over the Beeb's coverage of royals getting wet on Sunday, plenty of people still watched it. Meanwhile a couple of figures worth watching out for on the next week's list; Bank Holiday Monday's The Diamond Jubilee Concert had an astonishing consolidated average of 15.32m - the highest TV viewing figure in Britain since last year's royal wedding. The BBC News which followed the concert, officially averaged 10.74m.

Some odious louse of no importance at the Daily Scum Mail might have called it 'the biggest flop in the history of the BBC', but The Voice actually ended its first series as the most successful new entertainment show launch on BBC1 in over a decade. Not that it had much to beat - you know, When Will I Be Famous?, Totally Saturday, So You Think You Can Dance, Passport to Paradise et cetera. It did have better figures than the first series of Strictly, though. And the debut series of The X Factor and Britian's Got Talent come to that. The Voice ended with a consolidated series average audience of 9.2m viewers per episode. The final saw Leanne Mitchell crowned the 2012 winner, coached by Sir Tom Jones and winning a recording contract with Universal. And producing a first single that made number forty five - with a bullet - in its first week. So, swings and roundabouts for that one, then.

And, still on the subject of ratings, Euro 2012 Live: France vs England was watched by an average of 8.90m across the entire show on ITV on Monday. The match average was 12.60m with a peak audience of 15.26m (an almost unheard of these days sixty per cent audience share) at 18:45. Online there were four hundred and twenty eight thousand seven hundred and forty unique browsers and two hundred and forty thousand simultaneous live streams.

US network Showtime has released two new teasers for Homeland series two. Of which this is one. Don't expect any huge revelations - but do expect to find out when the new series starts, if you didn't already!
Brody (Damian Lewis) and Carrie (Clare Danes) both get a ten second trailer each, which tell us the new season arrives in the US on 30 September. Channel Four have previously promised an autumn showing in Britain, and with a series in which any possible leak of information could be disastrous, it seems likely they will air sooner rather than later after the States.

Former England captain Rio Ferdinand, might not have made Roy Hodgson's squad for Euro 2012 but, seemingly, he has found himself gainful employment for the summer. And, given some of the previous campaigns he's been involved in, it's not quite the biggest fiasco of his career. The Scumchester United centre half will be one of the judges on a new thoroughly wretched-sounding ITV show, Let's Get Gold. The other judges will be former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff, ex-EastEnders actress Martine McCutcheon, and Una Healy one of girl group The Saturdays. Blimey, that's going to be a meeting of minds and no mistake. Ferdinand said: 'I can't wait to get started on the judging panel of Let's Get Gold. It's set to be a fantastic show, capturing the nation's sporting mood perfectly. I am very excited to be working with Freddie, Martine and Una in the search for new sporting stars. May the best team win!' And, despite the fact that these comments are written in that dreadful one-syllable-or-less no-one-really-talks-like-that manner beloved by ITV press releases and numskull tabloid newspapers, having heard yer actual Rio speak, this blogger can well believe that is what he said. The mini-series of three pre-recorded episodes, to be shown on consecutive nights in early July, will feature fifteen sporting teams from across the UK battling it out for a one hundred thousand smacker prize. The challenge for the teams is to transform their sport into the most spectacular and entertaining routine. Christ almighty, just when you think TV's hit a new low of desperate, crass, mind-numbing lowest common denominator arse-gravy, along come ITV to prove you wrong every single time.

Ex-News International chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks has appeared in court to face charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. She, her husband Charlie Brooks and four others - all of whom deny the charges - have been bailed for a fortnight. They appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on charges linked to the phone-hacking scandal. If convicted, they potentially face lengthy jail terms. Brooks, forty four, who faces three charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, was bailed until 22 June. Her millionaire Old Etonian husband, forty nine, and four former colleagues, who each face one charge of the same offence, were bailed to the same date to appear at Southwark Crown Court. Brooks was charged last month by detectives from Operation Weeting, Scotland Yard's phone-hacking inquiry. The offences, which she denies, allegedly occurred in July last year. Brooks is accused of conspiring to conceal documents, computers and electronic equipment from police and conspiring to remove seven boxes of material from the archive of News International. That same month, David Cameron ordered an inquiry into press standards, the Scum of the World was shut down in disgrace and ignominy and Brooks resigned from News International. Also in court was Brooks' former personal assistant, Cheryl Carter, Mark Hanna the head of security at News International, Paul Edwards, Mrs Brooks' chauffeur and security consultant Daryl Jorsling who each face a single charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. Nigel Pilkington, for the crown, said that he was not going to outline the case at this stage. He said that bail conditions prevent the defendants communicating directly or indirectly with each other – except, obviously, for Rebekah and Charlie Brooks, who had no such ban on communicating with each other. Since they live in the same house, such a rule might be difficult to stick to.

Ally McCoist, the beleaguered manager of Glasgow Rangers football club and a former Scotland international, has been told by police that he is a suspected victim of phone-hacking by the Scum of the World. McCoist, who has so far not disclosed details of the alleged hacking, is the latest of more than a dozen prominent Scottish public figures and other individuals known to have been targeted by the disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid. The disclosure came as Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister, prepared to face questions at the Leveson inquiry into hacking and media ethics about his close political relationship with billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch the small. Salmond has repeatedly refused to answer questions from opposition leaders in Holyrood about whether he too was hacked. He has come under intense pressure to explain his offer to help the Murdochs lobby UK ministers to win complete control of the satellite broadcaster BSKyB at the same time as he was brokering a deal to get the Sun's political endorsement for his party. More than a dozen people in Scotland, including the former first minister Jack McConnell and his two adult children, the socialist politician Tommy Sheridan and the Scottish National party MSP Joan McAlpine, who is also an aide to Salmond have so far been named as alleged hacking victims in Scotland. Last month, the Gruniad Morning Star revealed that Sir Sean Connery, the Edinburgh-born actor who played James Bond, and now lives in the Bahamas, had been told he was hacked 'about ten times.' It is understood his case is being investigated by Met officers involved in Operation Weeting, and not by the team of Strathclyde police detectives who charged the former Scum of the World editor and Downing Street communications chief, Andy Coulson, with perjury in late May. Alleged legal 'sources' allegedly told the Gruniad that the growing number of people in Scotland believed to have been targeted suggested that the Scum of the World's hacking operations spread across all editions of the Sunday tabloid, including its Scottish edition, and not just the main UK paper printed in London. Former Scum of the World executives in Scotland are understood to be under investigation by Operation Rubicon, the investigation set up by Strathclyde police after the Scum of the World was closed down last July. An alleged 'source'allegedly close to McCoist confirmed that he had been informed by police. The Daily Record reported another alleged 'source' as allegedly saying: 'He has received calls from the police telling him they believe he was hacked. He expected he might have heard more, perhaps a letter. But he's not heard anything, so he's waiting to see how things develop.' A number of key figures involved in the Scum of the World's investigations into Sheridan's private life have emerged as possible hacking victims. Those include McAlpine, a former friend of Sheridan's who co-wrote his book on the anti-poll tax campaign, Sheridan's mother Alice, Fiona McGuire, the ex-prostitute named as one of Sheridan's alleged lovers – an allegation which he has denied - and another witness at his libel trial, Anne Colvin. McGuire and Colvin are now suing News International. It emerged on Sunday that Sarah Heaney, a former Scotland Today presenter for STV, had also been a victim.

Tory MPs have rejected a Labour call for an inquiry into whether the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt broke ministerial rules in dealing with News Corp's proposed takeover of the broadcaster BSkyB. The motion was defeated by two hundred and ninety votes to two hundred and fifty two, with Lib Dem MPs ordered to abstain. There were angry scenes in the Commons as Labour's Chris Bryant accused the vile and odious rascal Hunt of lying to Parliament over his relationship with News Corp. The vile and odious rascal Hunt denied the accusation and said all the evidence 'vindicated' him. Labour's motion called for the lack of culture secretary to be referred to Sir Alex Allan, the prime minister's adviser on the ministerial code, to find out whether he had broke the rules. The vile and odious rascal Hunt said in March 2011 that all correspondence relating to the BSkyB bid had been made public, but Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman said information published a year later by the Leveson Inquiry into media standards had proved this to be wrong. She said there were two issues 'at stake' - whether the vile and odious rascal Hunt had misled Parliament and whether he should have taken responsibility for the actions of his special adviser, Adam Smith, who resigned over his conduct. On both, there was evidence he had broken the rules, she said. Labour says dozens of e-mails and texts released by the Leveson Inquiry into media standards prove beyond doubt that the vile and odious rascal Hunt had failed to act in the 'quasi-judicial' way demanded of him when he was given responsibility for the takeover bid for BSkyB, and that should resign. Bryant, the shadow immigration minister, listed examples when he said the vile and odious rascal Hunt could have corrected the official record after his March 2011 statement but had chosen not to, proving he had 'deliberately' misled MPs. He had 'calculated to deceive for political advantage,' he added, suggesting the vile and odious rascal Hunt could be investigated by the Financial Services Authority for giving BSkyB advance notice of a Commons statement. But the vile and odious rascal Hunt said it was 'standard practice' to let companies know in advance if there was a statement being made in Parliament about them - and he firmly rejected any suggestion he had deliberately misled MPs. He added: 'If, as he said, I had a plan, a grand scheme, that was going to deliver BSkyB to News Corp, why would I say that I am going to ask independent regulators, whose advice I have absolutely no control over for their opinion and I was going to publish that at the same I time I was going to publish my decision? The reason I did that is that I was setting aside the views I had prior to the bid taking place and that has been vindicated by every page of his evidence.'

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards that his bank account was accessed by the Observer newspaper. The SNP leader made the claim before Lord Justice Leveson, sitting at London's Royal Courts of Justice. Responding to Salmond's claim, a spokesman for the Observer said 'we have been unable to find any evidence to substantiate the allegation.' Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg gave evidence before Salmond. The subject of Salmond's bank account came up when inquiry QC Robert Jay asked the politician if his phone had ever been hacked. The first minister said he had not been contacted by Strathclyde Police, who were investigating phone-hacking in Scotland, to say he had been a victim. However he added: 'What I can say is that I believe that my bank account was accessed by the Observer newspaper in 1999. My reason for believing that is I was informed by a former Observer journalist who gave me a fairly exact account of what was in my bank account that could only have been known to somebody who had seen it.' Salmond, who was party leader and an MP at Westminster in 1999, explained further: 'For example I bought some toys for my then young nieces in a toy shop in Linlithgow High Street which was called "Fun and Games." The person who informed me told me this caused great anticipation and hope in the Observer investigation unit because they believed that perhaps "Fun and Games" was more than a conventional toy shop.' A spokesman for Guardian News & Media, which runs the Observer newspaper, said that Salmond first raised the matter of an alleged unauthorised access of his bank account with the editor of the Sunday broadsheet last year. He added: 'As we explained to him last year, on the basis of the information he had given us, we have been unable to find any evidence to substantiate his allegation. As our response to him at the time made clear, we take this allegation very seriously and if he is able to provide us with any more information we will investigate further.' Throughout this week the inquiry is hearing from politicians who are explaining what relationship they have with the press. During the evidence session on Wednesday morning, Deputy Prime Minister Clegg told Lord Justice Leveson that he met Rupert Murdoch twice ahead of the 2010 General Election, but exchanged only a few sentences with the News Corp boss. He explained that at a 2009 dinner with Murdoch, he sat at the end of the table 'where the children sit' and was 'an observer' and in March 2010, the pair exchanged 'amicable greetings' in a corridor. He added that he had known News Corp lobbyist Fred Michel, socially and professionally, for more than a decade. But Clegg said he had not discussed the company's bid to take over broadcaster BSkyB and had not spoken to Michel since a dinner at the house of a mutual acquaintance in September 2010. During his appearance at the inquiry, Salmond was also questioned about his relationship with media mogul and billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch. Salmond said he had met Murdoch senior 'five times in five years' which he believes was 'pretty reasonable' and 'isn't in the same league as Mr Blair, Mr Brown or Mr Cameron.' He told the inquiry: 'I saw Mr Murdoch's evidence. He said he didn't know me well, that is fair. At the same time he said the conversations we had were friendly in tone - that is correct as well.' Salmond's name has already been raised during the UK government commissioned inquiry. When Murdoch's son, James Murdoch the small, came before Leveson on 24 April, he was asked about e-mails in which it was revealed that Salmond's adviser - named as Geoff Aberdein - had agreed that the first minister would call the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt 'whenever we need him to.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt had been given the quasi-legal job of deciding the fate of satellite broadcaster BSkyB - which News Corp wanted to take full control of. The day after Murdoch the small's appearance, Murdoch senior was in the Leveson hot seat when the issue of his relationship with the SNP and its leader was raised. The eighty one-year-old was asked by inquiry lawyer Robert Jay why the Scottish Sun newspaper was anti-SNP at the 2007 Holyrood election but by 2010 had swung behind Salmond and his party. Murdoch said his organisation had not done any deal with Salmond, although he said that on a personal level he liked the first minister. Salmond backed up Murdoch's evidence, saying there was no 'quid pro quo' over supporting News Corp's BSkyB bid in return for editorial support of the Murdoch press. Asked about his meetings with newspaper executives, Salmond says he had a 'less than successful' meeting in the run-up to the 2007 election with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks when he tried to persuade the Scottish Sun to support the Scottish National party. Clegg told the Leveson inquiry on Wednesday morning that he was keen to meet with editors and proprietors following his election as party leader in February 2008 because 'many of these people didn't know me from Adam.' He met with the Murdochs three times between his appointment and March 2010, including one dinner on 16 December 2009 which was attended by Rupert Murdoch, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, and The Sunday Times editor John Witherow, among others.'"There were a fairly large number of people there,' Clegg said. 'As it happened I was at the very end of the table where the children sit, so to speak. I had a very fleeting interaction with Rupert Murdoch before the dinner, and I said goodbye at the end. I felt I was an observer as much as anything else.' Clegg also met with James Murdoch the small and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks on 2 April 2008, and Murdoch the small again on 16 July 2009. Asked whether issues such as the BBC licence fee were raised, Clegg said he could not remember. The deputy prime minister said opponents to News Corporation's bid for BSkyB, such as Daily Scum Mail editor in chief Paul Dacre, who he met for the only time in government on 22 July 2010, would make their opposition to the takeover plain to him. 'To be fair to Mr Dacre he was very explicit [saying] "I know you cannot comment, you are not in charge of this" and I said "absolutely not, this is a quasi-judicial decision being dealt with by the secretary of state for business."' Clegg, who was keen to persuade Dacre of the merits of electoral reform, said: 'We made as little impression on each other on both points.' He also met with Rupert Murdoch, Brooks, and James Harding, editor of The Times, on 17 August 2010. Robert Jay QC, lead counsel to the inquiry, asked: 'Did you get quiet words from the other side on that occasion?' Clegg replied: 'I do not remember the bid coming up at that lunch at all.' He added that he wanted to discuss the issue of electoral reform which 'must have been very much in the air at the time it was a politically charged question, I remember we devoted quite a lot of time to that.' He added: 'I don't think I made much of an impression.' Yeah, that happens a lot. An internal government memo published at the inquiry on Wednesday also revealed that the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt privately warned political colleagues that News Corp would have taken him to court if he had referred its controversial bid to take full control of BSkyB to the competition authorities. In the memo, dated 17 March 2011, the vile and odious rascal Hunt congratulates himself on 'seeing off' a threat of judicial review and in calming down an 'apoplectic' Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat MP and at that time the coalition government's environment secretary.

The Premier League's two billion quid-plus auction of live UK television rights has gone to a second round with alleged 'sources' allegedly indicating that a new bidder, thought to be al-Jazeera, has entered the fray against incumbents BSkyB and ESPN. Bids for the second round of the auction for UK TV and digital rights to one hundred and fifty four Premier League games a season for three years from August 2013 are due in at lunchtime on Wednesday, with a good chance that the winners will be announced later in the week. That the auction process has gone to a second round of bidding is not unusual – this also occurred in the last rights auction in 2009. In that case BSkyB secured the four main rights packages unchallenged in the first round of bidding and this was announced by the Premier League. The second round was for the two smaller packages, with Sky and Setanta securing one each. The fact that BSkyB has been required to submit another bid in the new auction, with no news from the Premier League that there was a clear winner of any packages in the first round, has led to speculation that a potentially serious bid from a rival has been submitted. In the new auction the total number of live matches going under the hammer is increasing from one hundred and thirty eight to one hundred and fifty four games a season, with no single broadcaster allowed to have the rights to more than one hundred and sixteen games. This is understood to have pleased ESPN, which has twenty three matches under the current deal, as it would allow the Disney-owned broadcaster to look at targeting the additional matches on offer to boost its live coverage to thirty eight games a season without getting into a bidding war with BSkyB. With ESPN thought to be uninterested in challenging BSkyB for the lion's share of live matches, 'sources' allegedly believe that a second round of bidding has been forced by a new player. 'The sense is there is a new bidder out there with a potentially serious offer and everyone thinks it is al-Jazeera, although no one can be one hundred per cent,' said one anonymous industry 'source'. Allegedly. 'The question is how many packages they are targeting, meaning Sky or ESPN.' If there are clear winning bids for all the TV packages after the second round the Premier League will announce the result quite swiftly, possibly Wednesday afternoon or by Thursday at the latest, unless a third round auction is required. Nasser al-Khelaifi, director of al-Jazeera Sports, has said that the broadcaster has received the Premier League tender and is 'studying whether there is room for another sports channel' in the UK. The Qatar-based broadcaster is known to have done significant work evaluating a bid. Al-Jazeera Sports already has a foothold in the UK, using ITV Studios to produce English-language commentary for football matches, fronted by Gary Lineker, Ruud Gullit, Alan Shearer and Terry Venables, for expats throughout the Middle East on al-Jazeera+3. Al-Jazeera took French broadcasters by surprise last year, taking on incumbent Canal+ and snapping up live football rights including Euro 2012 and Euro 2016, UEFA Champions League football and the FA Cup. It launched a channel in France on 1 June. The broadcaster also intends to launch two channels in the US in August, for which it has secured rights for football leagues in Spain and Italy. US Premier League rights have been held by News Corporation's FOX Sports since 1998, with some sub-licensing to ESPN since August 2009. Premier League rights in al-Jazeera's home market of the Middle East are held by Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation, BSkyB's partner in Sky News Arabia, the rival service launched in the region in early May. ADMIC is a private investment firm owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the owner of Sheikh Yer Man City. In the last TV rights auction the Premier League netted about £1.4bn for overseas rights. Or, in other words, mucho-lov-er-lee wonga for the greedy shits who run our beloved game.

And, almost before those words were off the printer, it was announced that BT had secured the rights to broadcast thirty eight Premier League games for each of the seasons from 2013-14 to 2015-16. BSkyB will continue to show the majority of matches, having secured the rights to one hundred and sixteen games per season, the Premier League said. The total of one hundred and fifty four live matches is sixteen more than currently broadcast and more than forty per cent of all top-level matches. The sales raised just over three billion smackers, an increase of £1.25bn on the current package which shares rights between BSkyB and ESPN meaning lots of greedy slurpring and licking of lips from the pimps, robber barons, absentee landlords and sellers of dodgy sportswear who run our favourite clubs. 'We welcome BT as a new Premier League broadcast partner,' said Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore. 'They are a substantial British company that is at the leading edge of technology and infrastructure development.' He said BT would 'deliver new ways in which fans will be able to follow the competition.' He added: 'The continuing support of BSkyB for Premier League football is significant beyond the revenues delivered; the longevity and quality of their commitment has done much for the English game as a whole.'

Murder has long been a defining feature of daytime TV, where corpses scatter the schedules in repeats of Poirot, Midsomer Murders and Lewis. So it comes as some surprise to learn that a scene from the pretty inoffensive 1978 movie adaptation of Death on the Nile – in which a character shoots her lover and then herself in the head – will be cut from any future broadcasts before 9pm following a single complaint to Ofcom. Presumably by a single complainant who had too much time on his or her hands. ITV executives will edit the sequence from the PG-rated mystery should it receive another pre-watershed outing, after the independent regulator commented that, 'her suicide was shown in some detail and was not appropriately limited.' This is despite the fact that the Peter Ustinov-starring film has been transmitted on either ITV and ITV3 on over twenty occasions since 2004 in pre-watershed slots. And, once again, let us simply stand back and marvel at the utter shite some people chose to care about.

An advertising campaign by a firm aiming to cash in on the fear of terrorism during the London Olympic games by using images of the 7/7 attacks to sell bomb-blast window film has been banned by the advertising watchdog. The Advertising Standards Authority described the campaign, which used an image of the bus destroyed in Tavistock Square in the 7 July 2005 bombings, as 'wholly inappropriate and shocking' and likely to 'cause serious offence.' In its ruling the ASA said that the campaign had 'exaggerated the potential threat faced by businesses due to the Olympic Games and could have caused undue fear and distress to someone who received the mailing.' The advertising regulator added that the campaign was in breach of the advertising code and banned it. Used as part of a direct mail campaign by a company called Northgate Solar Controls that aimed to drum up orders for its anti-shatter window film, the 7/7 image was sent to about four thousand four hundred businesses. Northgate Solar Controls told business owners they may have already been visited by the Metropolitan police or 'another government agency' to warn of a 'red alert for the Olympic Games.' The campaign talked of a 'very real threat' of suicide bombers entering the country more easily because of large numbers of visitors swamping ports of entry and 'undetected terrorist sleeper cells' that could launch an attack affecting businesses. Northgate Solar Controls said that it only targeted businesses in London and the home counties, where most of the Olympic activity is taking place, and that it was not 'scaremongering' but instead wanted to 'help minimise the risks in the event of an explosion by the application of bomb-blast film.' And make lots and lots of money in the process, of course. Can't forget that. However, the business that complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about receiving the direct mail shot was based 'almost fifty miles away from the nearest Olympics venue in Essex.'

Keith Harris and Orville became the latest desperate former celebrities to enter the Big Brother house on Tuesday night, taking part in the No Laughing Matter task with the housemates. Jesus, haven't those poor people suffered enough already? Harris, Orville and Cuddles the Monkey did their best to bring out sniggers from the sixteen housemates, delivering gags including the one-liner from green nappy-wearing duck Orville: 'Twenty five years he's had his hand stuck up my arse. I'm fed up!'
Sarah Millican has joined the Radio Times as a columnist. The South Shields comic will start her 'view from the sofa' in this week's edition of the magazine – which sells almost a million copies a week. Radio Times editor Ben Preston said Millican 'strikes a chord' with his readers. He said: 'Sarah is that rare thing, a comedian who is genuinely warm and optimistic about life, wonderfully funny and a gifted writer. And she knows - and loves - her telly too.' Millican says she enjoys watching comedy on TV, with current favourites being Cardinal Burns on E4 and Live at the Electric on BBC3.

EastEnders star Jo Joyner has hinted that the Branning family will be taking centre stage in this year's Christmas episodes of the soap. The actress, who plays Tanya, revealed that plans are already underway for the clan to have another huge festive storyline. Joyner told Inside Soap: 'It's going to be a very busy time for Tanya and her family. We're currently filming some heart-rending scenes with her mother Cora, and I've heard Christmas is going to be a whopper for the Brannings. You'd better watch this space!' A busy Christmas for the Brannings could tie in with Tanya's temporary exit as Joyner is taking a break from the BBC show in 2013. In the meantime, viewers will see Tanya face a big decision next week as Max asks her to marry him again. Pondering what the possible wedding ceremony would be like, Joyner commented: 'I'd love for them to have a small family affair, with Tanya in a grown-up Audrey Hepburn-style dress. Maybe she wouldn't be in white this time, and it would be a different kind of wedding to the day she had when she got married to Greg Jessop a while back.'

Bill Bailey has told how he was once offered a live owl to eat in a Beijing restaurant. The comic, and keen bird-watcher, was offered the chance to choose his dinner from the live fish and poultry on offer – but spotted an Eurasian Eagle Owl in one of the cages. 'I decided to liberate it,’ he told an audience at the Hay Festival, 'so I told the waiter I wanted to eat first and then take the owl away for later. He started conveying the owl to the kitchen but I said, "No, no, no - we buy owl to take away alive." It was a struggle in Mandarin but eventually he understood and they wrapped the poor bird's wings and feet in Sellotape and stuck it in a box marked Suitable for microwave ovens.' Bill took the bird from the restaurant, then released it with the aid of his Chinese taxi driver – again struggling with the language difficulty. Bailey added: 'There is no Chinese phrase-book that gives you the words, "You hold the owl's feet while I cut the sellotape off with the nail scissors" but somehow I made him understand and we did release the owl.' it was shot down by hunters moments later. No, not really, I just said that for comic effect. Anyway ... Here's Bill singing his famous 'Owl Song'.

The Olympic torch has been carried on West Sands Beach in a recreation of a scene from the film Chariots of Fire on day twenty six of the relay. It was held by Joseph Forrester, thirteen, who led a group of children from Madras College across the beach in St Andrews. The flame will later visit three of Scotland's most iconic places on its way to Edinburgh. Wednesday's one hundred and forty five-mile journey included visits to Stirling Castle, the Wallace Monument and Edinburgh Castle. The first of the day's one hundred and fifteen torchbearers in the centre of St Andews was record-breaking Scottish long-distance cyclist Mark Beaumont and American singer John Legend. An evening celebration took place at Edinburgh Castle. The castle dominates the skyline of the Scottish capital, standing atop of Castle Rock at the head of the Old Town, and its site has been inhabited by humans since 900BC. In the Middle Ages Edinburgh became Scotland's chief royal castle. Its history includes many sieges, including during the Wars of Independence, and the birth of Mary Queen of Scots' son James VI - who ascended to the throne of England, consequently leading to the Union of the Crowns. In 1996 the Stone of Destiny, Scotland's coronation stone, was placed in the Crown Room alongside the nation's Crown Jewels. The Olympic flame was carried at the castle by Lesley Forrest, who received a kidney transplant in 1996 and a year later started competing in the British Transplant Games. She has since won multiple medals in both British and World Transplant Games and been made an MBE. The first torchbearer of the day was Mark Beaumont, a Perthshire-born cyclist who broke the record for cycling around the world between August 2007 and February 2008. In one hundred and ninety four days he travelled over eighteen thousand miles through twenty countries, finishing at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. After travelling through St Andrews, the home of golf and Scotland's oldest university, the flame took in Kinross, Alloa, Dunblane, Stirling, Falkirk and Dunfermline before reaching Edinburgh. Along the way, there was a visit to Stirling Castle, a symbol of Scottish independence with a long and turbulent history associated with great figures from Scotland's past such as Mary Queen of Scots and Sir William Wallace. Wallace's statue stands outside the city of Stirling, overlooking the scene of Scotland's victory at The Battle of Stirling Bridge. The torch also visited the Falkirk Wheel, the world's first and only rotating boat lift, before travelling across the Forth Road Bridge at four o'clock and then taking in the picturesque Hopetoun House. Among the torchbearers helping the flame on its journey were John Legend - a singer-songwriter who has won nine Grammys - and Scottish former ice dancer John Kerr. The last torchbearer of the day, Ms Forrest lit a celebration cauldron on stage at Edinburgh Castle at the evening's celebratory event.

The BBC has denied erroneous reports that Davina McCall has 'landed a reporting role' at London 2012. The former Big Brother host - and giggling non-entity - was said by that bastion to always truthful and accurate reportage, the Sun, to be 'presenting coverage of the cycling' at the Olympic Games this summer. However, a spokesperson for the BBC quickly clarified that McCall has not been added to the previously-announced roster of presenters, which includes the likes of Gary Lineker, Gabby Logan, Sue Barker and Matt Baker or anything even remotely like it. So, chalk that one up as another triumph for the Sun, there. If those bell-ends told me white was lighter than black I'd want a second opinion. 'Davina is not part of the BBC Sport Olympic 2012 team,' the BBC said, flatly, failing to add - though they should have - that they are not that desperate. 'The full line-up was announced at a press briefing a few weeks ago and has not changed since.' Speaking to the Digital Spy website, McCall's publicist explained that reports of her presenting at the Games had been 'misconstrued' from an interview where she talked about her role as a Team GB ambassador. 'Davina is one of twelve ambassadors and in her role as a member of the programme and also as a passionate cyclist Davina will be undertaking a number of media roles and interviews to galvanise support for the nation's athletes and specifically those on two wheels,' they said.

Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Shanaze Reade were among the gold medal hopes named in Britain's cycling team for this summer's Olympics in London. Eighteen riders were confirmed for track, mountain bike and BMX, with fourteen named on a shortlist for road cycling. David Millar, banned for two years in 2004 for taking performance-enhancing drugs, is on that provisional list. The men's road squad will be reduced from eight to five, and the women's from six to four, later in June. Team GB will number twenty seven in total across the four Olympic cycling disciplines, with British cyclists hoping to match the fourteen medals and eight golds won in Beijing. Hoy won three golds in 2008 but it has not yet been confirmed whether he will defend all three titles, with his place looking assured in the team sprint and keirin but Jason Kenny pushing hard for the lone spot in the individual sprint. 'The standard in the British Cycling team is so high and the selection process is always going to be tough, but there's a great atmosphere in the team and we just need to keep putting in the hours in training and make sure we're in the best shape possible for race day,' said Hoy. 'This is my fourth Olympics, but my first home Games, and it's going to be an amazing experience and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all of us.' Hoy and Pendleton - the golden girl of British cycling who won individual sprint gold in Beijing - will end their careers after the London Games. Tour de France contender Bradley Wiggins is included in the road squad, with Mark Cavendish strongly tipped to win Britain's first gold of the Games when the road race takes place on the opening Friday. Defending champion Nicole Cooke is among the women's group on the road, although Lizzie Armitstead is vying with the Welsh rider for the position of team leader. Three-times BMX world champion Reade will hope to make up for the disappointment of crashing in Beijing when favourite for gold. Liam Phillips is to be given every opportunity to prove his fitness and take the men's place after suffering a fractured collar bone at last month's Birmingham World Championships. Annie Last effectively sealed her place at the Olympics with a top-ten finish at last month's mountain bike World Cup event in France, and Liam Killeen will take Britain's place in the men's event.

Group B which had, so far, produced the two most disappointing matches of Euro 2012 exploded into life on Wednesday evening. Substitute Silvestre Varela's late strike boosted Portugal's hopes of reaching the quarter-finals. Pepe's thumping near-post header put Portugal ahead, before Hélder Postiga smashed in a close-range effort. But two headed goals from striker Nicklas Bendtner brought the Danes level and looked set to leave Paulo Bento's men with an uphill task to advance from Group B. Then with three minutes left, Varela's right-foot shot won it for Portugal. The Portuguese, coming into the game on the back of defeat by Germany, needed at least a draw to stand any chance of extending their record of reaching the knockout stage in their last five European Championships. In contrast, Denmark headed into the Lviv clash brimming with confidence following their opening 1-0 win against the highly fancied Dutch. And they held another psychological advantage over their opponents having finished above them in qualifying groups for both the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. Portuguese boss Bento was heavily criticised by his country's press for his side's defensive tactics against Germany - indeed his side had failed to score in three of their previous six games heading into this match - and adopted a more adventurous approach against the Danes. Odious, slimy cheat Cristiano Ronaldo, looking to add to his sixty two-goal season for Real Madrid, was often the focal point of Portugal's attack but it was an off-day for the twenty seven-year-old, who missed several chances in front of goal, most notably a glorious one-on-one chance seconds before Bendtner's leveller. It was his Bernabeu team-mate Pepe who broke the deadlock when the dithering Danish defence allowed the defender to amble to the front post and meet João Moutinho's left-wing corner. With Ronaldo struggling to find top gear, Portugal relied on his ex-The Scum colleague Nani to open up the Danish defence in the first half. And Nani was the architect as former Stottingtot Hotshots striker Postiga became just the sixth player to score in three European Championship finals. Denmark failed to close down Portuguese attacks on either flank before Nani picked out Postiga at the near post with a precise square pass. Victory for Morten Olsen's men would have put them on the brink of a quarter-final place following their surprise win over the misfiring Dutch. And the Scandinavians were given a lifeline shortly before the break when Portugal's defence switched off to allow Michael Krohn-Dehli to nod Lars Jacobsen's deep cross back across goal for Bendtner to score the easiest of close-range headers. It meant The Arse centre forward marked a landmark fiftieth cap in style and has now scored in each of his five appearances against the Portuguese. Bendtner looked the most likely of the Danish players to find an equaliser in the second half and duly obliged when he met Jacobsen's right-wing cross at the far post. But there was to be a further twist as Varela smashed in a right-footed shot from inside the Denmark area to spare Ronaldo's blushes.

In the day's second game, Mario Gomez gave a desperately disappointing Netherlands a lesson in finishing as Germany left their bitter rivals on the brink of an early exit from Euro 2012. The Bayern Munich striker turned sharply and slotted home Bastian Schweinsteiger's pass before lashing home a brilliant second from the right. Robin van Persie, who had wasted a golden chance to put the Dutch ahead, gave them hope with a fine strike in the second half. But Germany held on comfortably to all but cement their place in the quarter-finals.

Russia have been given a suspended six-point deduction by UEFA because of the behaviour of their fans during their 4-1 win against the Czech Republic. Action was taken due to the use of fireworks and politically far-right banners. An incident in which fans attacked stewards, leaving four needing hospital treatment, is being investigated by UEFA and police. The penalty will apply to the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, and also includes a fine of one hundred and twenty thousand Euros. Russia, who will host the 2018 World Cup, could face further sanctions after their supporters were involved in violence before their game against Poland, which was drawn 1-1, on Tuesday. A march by thousands of Russian fans to mark their national day had to be halted and some missiles were thrown as supporters clashed with their Polish rivals. Police say they arrested at least one hundred and twenty people and that ten people were injured. Inside the ground, Russian fans also displayed a provocative banner.

Italian striker Antonio Cassano has apologised for comments he made about homosexuals on Tuesday. The twenty nine-year-old AC Milan forward claimed that he hoped there were no homosexuals in the Italy squad at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. But he subsequently released a statement insisting that he had been misinterpreted. 'I sincerely regret that my statements have sparked controversy and protest from gay rights groups,' Cassano said. 'Homophobia is a sentiment that is not mine. I did not want to offend anyone and I can not question the sexual freedom of other people. I only said that it is a problem that does not concern me and it is not for me to pass judgment on the choices of others, who are all respected.' Cassano was asked during a news conference whether he thought there were any homosexuals in Cesare Prandelli's twenty three-man squad. Instead of responding with 'is that an issue?' and questioning why he was being asked such a question, as anyone with half-a-head would have, he reportedly replied: 'The coach warned me that you would ask me this question. If I say what I think, I hope there are none.' Cassano started Sunday's 1-1 draw with Spain just eight months after undergoing heart surgery. He was taken ill on the team's plane following Milan's 3-2 win over Roma in October. Cassano returned to club duty in April but admits that he never expected to feature for the national team this summer. He added: 'I honestly didn't think I would play at the European Championship. I was scared. When you arrive to a certain point where it is a case of live or die, everything else becomes secondary. I saw the future as grey, very grey, but fortunately I am here. I have been blessed, and even if I am not a believer I do feel I have been blessed.'

Hapless Harry Redknapp's position at Stottingtot Hotshots is increasingly uncertain despite his strenuous denial that he would resign as manager. Of course the irony of the fact that just week ago, all of his brown-tongued mates in Fleet Street and at Sky Sports had virtually awarded him the England job and now he might end the summer with no job at all. Which would be funny. Redknapp, sixty five, will reportedly hold talks with chairman Daniel Levy, possibly as early as Wednesday, to discuss his future. According to BBC Sport, the pair are understood to remain some distance away from an agreement over a new contract, with Redknapp's deal due to expire in June 2013. Reports suggest that Levy was 'left dismayed' by Spurs' end-of-season slump. It comes after Redknapp rejected Internet speculation that he had quit, telling ESPN on Tuesday: 'No, I haven't resigned and I have no idea why it's being suggested I have. This is an outrage - an absolute liberty for people to be putting around this kind of rumour on the Internet. It is not true, there is not a chance I will resign. Why should I? I have a year left on my contract.' Moscow Chelski's Champions League triumph meant that, despite finishing fourth, Yer Actual Spurs missed out on the final place in next season's competition and the added revenue that goes with it. Instead, they've got to slum it in the Europa League along with yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved 9though unsellable) Magpies. Tragedy, eh? Redknapp's team won just four of their final thirteen Premier League matches, with a 5-2 defeat by The Arse on 26 February the catalyst for their disastrous run of form. Spurs had led 2-0 and victory would have opened up a thirteen-point gap over their rivals The Gunners, who pipped them to third place on the final day of the season. Negotiations over an extended contract for Redknapp have stalled since the start of the year when he was linked - by just about everybody in the media if not, you know, anyone that actually mattered - with the then vacant England manager's job. The former West Ham and Portsmouth manager told BBC Sport last week that he would have taken the England job if it had been offered to him. But, it wasn't. Redknapp, who recently rejected suggestions linking him with a club in Qatar, had warned that ongoing uncertainty about his future would affect Spurs players. The manager, who guided the club into the Champions League for the first time in 2010, said: 'The simple situation is I've got a year left on my contract. It's up to Tottenham whether they want to extend that contract or not. If they don't extend it and I go into my last year, it's not an easy one when players know you've only got a year left. It's not a case of me looking for security. What it's about is players knowing you've only got one year left on your contract and knowing that it doesn't work, basically. I think it's a situation of "well, he might not be here next year." You don't let players run into the last year of their contract if you think they're any good and you don't let managers run into the last year of their contract if you think they're any good. It's up to Tottenham. If they think I'm okay and I've done a decent job and deserve an extension, they'll give it to me.'

We knew it wasn't going to last long before there'd be some kerfuffle about The Stone Roses reunion! Fans were left confused after the reformed Manchester band failed to play an encore at a gig in Amsterdam on Tuesday, amid reports that drummer Reni had, like Elvis, left the building. Singer Ian Brown appeared on stage alone at the Heineken Music Hall, to tell the crowd the gig was over. Fans had expected to hear 'I Am The Resurrection', which the reformed band closed a show with in Spain on Friday. Brown reportedly said: 'I'm not joking, the drummer's gone home.' Many of the fans present then booed the forty nine-year-old frontman's announcement, according to BBC journalist Peter Shuttleworth, who was at the concert. 'Ian just said something like "Come on, get all your negative vibes out on me. I can take it,"' Shuttleworth said. However, Shuttleworth claims the jeers were 'short-lived' and fans were 'more bemused than disappointed.' He added: 'People were just looking at each other thinking "what's going on?"' He also disputed reports that Reni had stormed off stage, saying that he and guitarist John Squire had hugged as they left. The band seemed to have expressed plans to play an encore, telling fans: 'If you want us to come back, we're going up four storeys, so you have to cheer loud.' The Stone Roses kicked off their first tour in sixteen years in Barcelona last weekend with what was reported to be a virtually flawless gig (and much of which is now available on YouTube). They have a summer of dates planned, including three homecoming shows in Manchester's Heaton Park at the end of June. Fans have dismissed speculation that the gig in Holland signals problems for the rest of the tour, calling the show 'quality' and the crowd 'enthusiastic.' Several reports quote an alleged 'insider' who suggested there had been a problem with the drum kit, but this has not been confirmed. Paul Roberts was at the gig and emailed BBC 6Music: 'At one point I saw Reni waving his arms wildly at the stage mixer, obviously not happy with something.' Another, Matt Morris, claimed Brown's announcement 'was followed by a volley of beer thrown at the stage and booing.' Remaining dates on the Stone Roses tour are expected to go ahead as planned, with the band due on stage in Sweden on Thursday. And, for all the Dutchies, here's what you missed. Effing magic, that.

Henry Hill, a former mobster-turned-FBI informant whose life became the basis for Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, has died in Los Angeles aged sixty nine. His partner and manager, Lisa Caserta, did not give a specific cause but added that years of heavy smoking combined with complications from a recent heart attack led to his death. 'He had been sick for a long time, his heart gave out,' she told TMZ. On screen, Hill was played by the young Ray Liotta in the 1990 Oscar-winning film. The movie was based on the 1986 book Wiseguy, written by crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi, which documented Hill's life. Caserta told CBS News that Hill was with family members when he died, adding he 'went out pretty peacefully, for a goodfella.' Born into an Italian-Irish family, Hill was as an associate of the Lucchese crime family in New York. He was involved in numerous criminal acts including the Lufthansa heist at John F Kennedy International Airport in 1978, when five million dollars in cash and eight hundred and seventy five thousand dollars worth of jewels were stolen. Hill lived the mob life for twenty years until 1980 when he was arrested on drugs charges (the bit of the film that everybody remembers!) and, to avoid prison, agreed to squeal against his former mafia bosses. He entered into witness protection but was expelled from the programme in the early 1990s after committing various drug-related crimes. In more recent years, Hill became a frequent guest on The Howard Stern Show, marketed his own spaghetti sauce and opened a restaurant called Wiseguys. Goodfellas - one of the greatest films ever made in this blogger's opinion - was nominated for six academy awards including best director and best picture, and picked up one for Joe Pesci's astonishing supporting actor role of Tommy DeVito, based on real-life mobster Thomas DeSimone.

And so, what better way to end than with Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day and one of the key scenes in Goodfellas - the soundtrack of which is, quite simply, one of the most perfect ever created for a movie. Camera poetry, dear blog reader. Ti saluto Signore Scorsese!

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