Friday, June 15, 2012

Everybody Wants To Run The World

Football legend Jackie Charlton carried the Olympic flame in the centre of Newcastle on day twenty eight of the torch relay. The 1966 World Cup winner, who is seventy seven and from Ashington in Northumberland, was one of one hundred and forty one torchbearers carrying the flame on the leg from Alnwick to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's homeboy turf in Newcastle. An estimated forty thousand people watched the torch as it passed a number of famous landmarks in Newcastle, including St James' Park, Northumberland Street and Grey's Monument. Later, the torch flew by zip-wire from the Tyne Bridge across to Gateshead in the hands of adventurer and TV presenter Bear Grylls. Big Jack carried the flame at 5:30pm after which it visited Newcastle United's ground St James' Park (yes, that is what it's called, whatever the current ownership might say to the contrary), an Olympic football venue. However, a planned lap of the pitch itself did not take place, apparently over some corporate bollocks or other involving 'unofficial' advertising boards. Sky later claimed that the Olympic torch could not be seen inside the ground because advertising boards 'had not been covered up.' The relay was instead redirected around the Sir Bobby Robson memorial statue. A spokesman for London 2012 said: 'All the venues that we've contacted for staging events do not have promotional material. The Olympic rules are that you do not have commercial branding. As part of the agreement with venues we would cover up or work around the naming in the venue.' This, ladies and gentlemen, from the same twats who won't let you take a bottle of water into an Olympic venue unless it's 'official' (and staggeringly overpriced) Olympic water. What was that about it being 'not about the winning but the taking part'? Some sunny spells in the late afternoon brightened up an otherwise miserably rainy day. But, that didn't stop crowds gathering at The Links in Whitley Bay, in Cullercoats, at Tynemouth Priory and in Wallsend as the torch made its way through North Tyneside. Thousands of local school pupils lined the route. There was a steel band performance outside the Spanish City Dome in Whitley Bay, dance performances by members of the Phoenix Detached Youth Project in North Shields and a samba band outside the former Co-op building in Wallsend. The seven-mile route around Newcastle city centre concluded on the Quayside. From there, the torch was carried up to the Tyne Bridge. The zip wire event followed at 7pm and saw Grylls, a Chief Scout, slide down the wire over the River Tyne into the parade ground of HMS Calliope, the Royal Navy's riverside training centre on the Gateshead quayside. Grylls has built something of a reputation for madcap daredevil adventures - in 1998, at the age of twenty three, he became the youngest Briton to conquer Mount Everest. The ride was one of the most unusual methods of travel for the torch during the seventy-day relay. The day's first torchbearer was Richard Moules, sixty five, who helped keep a village shop open in the tiny village of Humshaugh. Others included Louis Smith who became the first Briton in one hundred years to win a medal in the men's individual gymnastics event when he took bronze at the Beijing Olympics four years ago. One of Britain's most promising table tennis players, Darius Knight, carried the flame in Choppington. Andrea Thompson took the torch in Newcastle. Her son Jordan died from an infection whilst fighting leukaemia in 2007, aged fifteen. She later set up the Toma Fund to support young people and their families in the North East and Cumbria who have been affected by a diagnosis of childhood cancer. Friday's route went through some of the most beautiful countryside on God's green earth, the Northumberland communities of Alnwick, Hipsburn, Warkworth, Amble, Ashington, Newbiggin-By-The-Sea, Choppington, Morpeth, Hartford, Bedlington, Blyth, Whitley Bay, Cullercoats, Tynemouth, North Shields, Howdon, Wallsend and Newcastle. Some of it so pretty it could make you cry. Well, maybe not North Shields but, you know ... The convoy also visited Warkworth Castle and crossed Gateshead's Millennium Bridge.

Rather typically, the day the torch reached the North East turned out to be one of the crappiest, weather-wise, of the entire journey so far. We're very good at that sort of thing up here. It was a gloomy start to the day (for which, read, it was absolutely chucking it down!) in Alnwick where the first torchbearer, Richard Moules, carried the flame from Alnwick Cross Monument into Market Street. There were cheers as Philip Spencer, the head of development for Alnwick Green charity, handed over to Arthur Basstoe, eighty one, who set off at a walking pace. The person who nominated Arthur said: 'During last winter he hiked daily to the nearest shop - three miles away - with his rucksack, through four feet of snow to help his elderly neighbour as well do his own shopping.' Arthur was brought up in the East End of London and used to run in eight hundred metre races, belonging to his local Athletic Club Eton Manor - now the site of the 2012 Olympic Stadium. Despite his age, Arthur had been given two legs of the relay but he kept up a cracking pace without much trouble. Helen Richardson from BBC Newcastle tweeted: 'We're live in Alnwick this morning as the torch leaves - now it's heading to Warkworth and there are big crowds looking at BBC torchcam!' Following a stop at Warkworth Castle, by 8:20am the relay had reached the beautiful market town of Amble where, despite the rain, an enthusiastic crowd turned out to see local youngster Logan Jones, the first torchbearer. The second runner in Amble was Lisa French, who was on the number thirty bus when it exploded in London's Tavistock Square in the bombings of 7 July 2005. The person who nominated her said: 'She has been on an amazing personal journey since that time. To make sense of the suffering and pain she carries from that day Lisa has become and advocate for peace.' Lisa took part in the Cambodia Challenge for Humanitarian Organisation MAG International, where she built a house and blew up a landmine. Look North's Mark Tulip said: 'The crowds have been pretty good considering the weather - there is still a good atmosphere!' In Ashington, sensibly wearing a poncho against the inclement weather was runner Roly Sanderson, sixty, who has combined his love of running marathons with raising over one hundred and thirty grand for local charities. The last to run at Newbiggin-By-The-Sea was Gordon Hawkins, seventy two, who joined the Newcastle Life Boys at seven years old in 1946. At twelve he joined the senior section of the Seventh Boys Brigade. In 1957 he became the first boy in Newcastle to be awarded the Queens Badge for over twenty years. To this day he is still encouraging children and teaching them craft, sport and how to be good citizens. In Ashington, one of the torchbearers was eighty three year old Bill Ogilvie, who volunteers in an extraordinary range of local community activities - from helping with the day-to-day running of Bomarsund Junior Cricket Club to participating in church activities. Bill handed the torch to Keiran Simmonds who jogged his leg in front of crowds in places three or four deep on the roadside. And it was still stotting it doon! The flame was handed to James Chapman who carried it over the River Wansbeck on the south side of the former mining village. Ashington then gave way to neighbouring Choppington another former colliery town. Heading towards the hamlet of Guide Post, Warneford Kilgour who donated a kidney to his father carried the torch. BBC Newcastle's Tony Jones was in Morpeth awaiting the flame to arrive and giving listeners a running weather report: 'It is lashing down. It's going to be a wet and windy affair!' Other torchbearers included sixteen year old Rachel Charlton,who has overcome a spinal disability to succeed in an array of achievements, Moira Matthews, sixty, has run on all seven continents, plus the North Pole, and in more than one hundred marathons raising money for charities and Louis Philippe Loncke. He has undertaken several international solo expeditions, often in deserted territories. Last summer he crossed six hundred kilometres of Belgian channels in a kayak. Earlier Jane Rodger carried the torch through Choppington. She has been a volunteer for the charity Send a Cow for eight years. The charity works with poor families, teaching them the skills they need to build new lives free from poverty and hunger. Meanwhile, one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's BBC Newcastle chums, Jonathan Miles, was doing a live-from-webcam commentary on the progress of the torch into Morpeth and along Bridge Street (notably, a very amusing moment where he described 'a jolly fat man dancing as the torch approached!' Quality broadcasting moment there, Jonny me auld china!) Also, the stations was taking a live audio feed from Tony Jones and, in the process, radio listeners were treated (if that's the right word) to about a minute of someone in the background bellowing 'Oggy-oggy-oggy!' as Tony sensitively described a torch handover moment. One of the greats of Northern athletics, the marathon runner and Commonwealth Games medallist Jim Alder was another to carry the torch in Morpeth having been nominated by two of the North's great Olympians who cite him as an inspiration, Brendan Foster and Steve Cram. The first torchbearer at Bedlington was seventeen year old Patrick Cree, who was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when he was ten. Since then he has had more than fifty operations, a colostomy and many episodes of being fed by a naso-gastric tube. Now he has defied the medics to row and golf at club level and represent the North East region in rowing at national level. In Blyth the bearers included David McElhoney, who is a foster carer. He and his wife look after babies and very young children in care. Since 2008 he has raised nearly fifteen thousand quid for The Fostering Network. In 2008 he walked the Inca Trail in Peru and in 2010 he walked part of The Great Wall of China. Today's trip was somewhat shorter - three hundred metres. There was also Emma Casson who has recently returned from Uganda. She spent two years and all her savings, working with local communities to develop small bio-gas units where the farmers turn the waste products into gas for cooking. The last torchbearer before lunch was Rona Watson. She is involved with the Cyrenians Good Food Charity in Edinburgh which collects food from wholesalers and retailers which is at its sell-by date or no longer required and distributes it to various shelters and homes throughout the city and surrounding areas. Rona carried the flame to Blyth Sports Centre where the relay took a break. Fab Flournoy from the Newcastle Eagles basketball team was in Blyth to see the torch and said 'It's a fantastic vibe despite the weather.' Two years ago Katharina De Pillecyn was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Today, she was running with the torch and the person who nominated her said: 'She still remains a positive woman who makes plans and strives to realise her dreams. She's a fighter who has decided that what happens to her body cannot get to her spirit.' Before her illness, Katharina used to climb a mountain every year, and has scaled the Himalayas and Kilimanjaro. And, it was around about that point that the rain finally stopped. It was still a far cry from those balmy days in Cornwall a month ago when the relay first started as torchbearer Michelle Armstrong set off along The Links at Whitley Bay whilst being buffeted by a typical force nine gale coming off the North Sea. Whitley Bay in summer, dear blog reader, once experienced, never forgotten! The torch then passed one of the great local landmarks, St Mary's Lighthouse. BBC Newcastle's Russ Ward watching the torch in Whitley Bay said that there was great enthusiasm along the relay route. Police outriders, he noted, have been 'giving high-fives' to excited schoolchildren. Shocking! 'Nobody minds the weather,' he adds. 'It's because people up here are hard as nails! This is what the Olympic spirit is all about.' The next runners included seventeen year old swimmer Jordan McCartney, twelve year old Sam Lefeber and sixteen year old St Johns ambulance cadet James Mavin. In Cullercoates, torchbearer John Fletcher works as a volunteer and fundraiser for the Teenage Cancer Trust and over the last few years John and his band The Whodlums have raised more than twenty grand for the trust at Newcastle's RVI Hospital and other local charities. The relay carried on through Tynemouth (where one of the torchbearers was Neil Weir who had a serious operation on his knee which kept him off work for six months. As soon as he was mobile again he was determined to get fit and set himself the challenge of doing the Great North Swim. He also completed the mile swim in Lake Windermere in thirty five minutes) and into North Shields and then along the A193 to Wallsend. By which time even the sun was trying to poke its way through the clouds for a look. Torchbearer Katie Willis, twenty five, volunteers as an explorer scout leader and Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme instructor, providing a programme of weekly activities for more than a hundred fourteen to eighteen year olds in her area. Peter Lilley has been a member of Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade, the busiest volunteer coastal rescue team on the east coast, since he was fourteen. He has assisted with cliff rescues, searches for missing people, and shore-based support for rescues at sea amongst other events within our community. He is the youngest ever Captain of the Brigade, and also serves as press officer and assistant secretary. First up with the torch in Howdon was Ryan Richardson, seventeen, who joined Cramlington Table Tennis Club in the summer of 2005 at the age of just eleven. He has since competed in local and national competitions and represented the county and the league at Junior and Senior level. Kate Upshall Davis, who works for the charity Crisis in Newcastle, was nominated by her proud father for all her work helping homeless people back into the workplace and a more normal life. Having been very unathletic at school, she's been a recent convert to running, and has done the Great North Run twice, the Edinburgh half marathon and the New York marathon. She has raised more than six thousand smackers in a couple of years for her two charities, Crisis and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. In Wallsend, Jim Purcell, who has also raised thousands of pounds for charities over the past twenty five years through his distance running - which he is still doing at the age of ninety - was the first torchbearer. Jim passed on to Charlotte Young. The eighteen-year-old joined her local Air Cadet squadron three years ago, has risen to the rank of flight sergeant, and is currently on course to become one of the youngest cadet warrant officers in the region. Having fought off competition from across the country, Charlotte was picked to represent the Air Cadets at hockey. Then there was eighteen year old Jen Jones, from Stocksfield, who was diagnosed with epilepsy three years ago but has not let that get in the way of her sporting goals. She has played for Morpeth Ladies Hockey club and Captained Northumberland County U18s. She is also a county netball player. The torch then hit a part of the world yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self knows well - Wallsend High Street and Station Road to bring the torch to the very border of Walker itself and within just a mile or so of Stately Telly Topping Manor. But, of course, they didn't want to bring anything bright and shiny onto The Estate (too much chance of it getting nicked, I suppose) so the torch took a quick detour up the Coast Road (by car) to Sandyford Road and came into Newcastle via Jesmond avoiding the East End like the plague. Not a walk-on part for Walker; no bikers in Byker; no flames in Heaton; nary a lick for Spital Tongues. Anyway ... it was at more or less this point that yer actual Keith Telly Topping having just been visiting Mama Telly Topping in the nearby RVI caught his own brief glimpse of the Olympic torch as it came along Portland Road towards New Bridge Street. And, very nice it looked too. (He then, admittedly, had to wait forty minutes to get a bus home and missed the start of the Ukraine vs France match, but he had a good book with him so, you know, it wasn't the worst forty minutes he's ever spent waiting for a bus in his life.) BBC Newcastle's young razor, Matthew Raisbeck, was reporting live noting that people were already starting to gather on the Quayside a good three hours ahead of Bear Grylls' zip-wire stunt from the Tyne Bridge - and, of course, the evening celebrations. Anyone would think this city had a reputation for partying, or something. Lenni Papadopoulos, nineteen, from Gateshead, carried the torch next. Lenni has nerve damage and slipped discs in her lower back but loves swimming with a passion and wants to represent her country in the Paralympics. There was something of a carnival atmosphere on Northumberland Street (despite the rain) as there was a temporary pause in the relay right in front of Marks & Spencer and HMV (whom, we'll assume, will both have been very happy with the publicity). Torchbearers in Newcastle city centre included Amier Gany, Graham Heath and, of course, Big Jack Charlton. The procession then did a loop around the city centre, taking in Old Eldon Square, Blackett Street, Percy Street, St Mary's Place, Exhibition Park and the Royal Victory Infirmary on Richardson Road (where Olympic gymnast Louis Smith carried the torch) before turning round at the top of Barrack Road (next to the BBC studios) and coming down the hill to The Theatre of Dreams, St James' Park. Or, whatever Mr Ashley is calling it this week. But, at this point there was some controversy, as a planned lap of the pitch was pulled at the last moment. 'The Olympic Flame won't now be doing a lap of honour around the pitch at Newcastle United's ground - apparently because the ground is still sporting "unofficial" advertising,' according to BBC Newcastle's Fiona Marley Paterson. (Another BBC reporter, Catherline Lee, said that BBC staff from the local studios - popularly known as "The Pink Palace" popped outside to join members of the public crowd cheering on the torch at the junction of Hunters Road and Barrack Road. Quite right too!) Crowds gathered outside St James' Park as the torch was passed in the shadow of the statue of the legendary Sir Bobby Robson, the much-loved former manager of The Magpies. He seems to look on approvingly as torchbearer Joanna-Louise Lacey took over carrying the flame. The torch then went across Gallowgate to Stowell Street, the local Chinatown and home of most of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite restaurants in all the land(!) where it was accompanied by a Chinese dragon and drummers. From there the torch crossed the line of the old town walls at Bath Lane, went down onto Westmorland Road, passed the Centre For Life then did a hundred and eighty degree u-turn up Clayton Street and moved into Grainger Town as it headed towards the Quayside down Grey Street, past the Theatre Royal. One of the torchbearers was Gobinath Murugesapillai, a first aider for St John Ambulance who has actually provided CPR during a West End musical. He also ran the London Marathon to raise funds for the organisation as well as volunteering at local schools as a mentor for international students. Thence, it was to the Quayside where BBC's Look North broadcast live as the torch zigzagged across the Swing Bridge into Gateshead and then came back the other way across Tyne Bridge. Torchbearer Enrique Wolff set off at a jaunty pace although probably not quick as during his playing days, when he was an Argentina football international, captaining them during the 1974 World Cup. After finishing his sporting career he became a journalist and is now a well-known face for ESPN in Latin America. Dawn Thewlis had the job of commentating as Bear Grylls went diving off the Tyne Bridge. Bear was strapped in by his left hand while he carried the torch in his right. Talking into the camera, he said: 'We're ready to go. It's the spirit of endeavour something I know a lot about and I'm going to need it now.' The crowd erupted as Grylls, the ex-SAS action man, completed the four hundred metre slide from the top of the bridge's one hundred and ninety five feet arch. And, for once, it all went smoothly. With that spectacular feat accomplished, the penultimate torchbearer, eighteen year old Gateshead Harrier Jane Wood passed the torch to the evening's last carrier William Hardy, a talented fourteen-year-old disabled athlete who excels at both swimming and cricket. He had both legs and half his left arm amputated after suffering from meningitis as a toddler. An evening celebration event at St Ann's Quay brought the day's activities to a close with performances from local musicians and dance acts such as Twist & Pulse.
BBC2's veteran panel show Mock the Week returned with a more than decent audience on Thursday night, overnight data shows. Now into its eleventh series, Dara O'Briain's topical round-up was seen by 2.13m at 10pm, one hundred thousand viewers higher than 2011's summer opener. Unlike last year however, Mock the Week benefited from a strong lead-in of 1.98m, from the first edition of lifestyle documentary The Men Who Made Us Fat. Springwatch was fractionally the channel's most-watched show of the evening with 2.14m in the 8pm hour. Over on BBC1, Griff Rhys Jones's penultimate Lost Routes interested 2.56m, after which 2.03m watched another Call the Midwife repeat at 9pm. Predictably, ITV dominated the night with its Euro 2012 clash between Spain and Ireland - the coverage averaged 6.43m from 7.15pm. The match peaked with 8.5m at 9pm. The day's earlier game, Italy versus Croatia, scored 4.62m for BBC1 between 4.45pm and 7pm.

The BBC has released two clips featuring Matt Smith talking about his role in the new BBC1 drama Bert and Dickie. Here's one of them. Matt plays Bertie Bushnell in the true-life drama about two rowers who were thrown together just five weeks before the 1948 Olympics, the last games to be held in London. Their personal battle reflects a much greater struggle as London prepared to host the post-war Games in a London that is half-destroyed and in an era of austerity and rationing. Sound familiar? The transmission date has not been confirmed, but the drama is expected to be shown shortly before the start of the 2012 games towards the end of July. BBC America has confirmed it will show the drama on Wednesday 25 July.

Lara Pulver has dismissed rumours (seemingly put about by people with too much time on their hands) linking her to Doctor Who. The actress - who played Irene Adler in the BBC's Sherlock - told the Evening Standard that she has no plans to appear in the long-running popular family SF drama. 'Steven [Moffat] and I have both said we thoroughly enjoyed working together, and then there was me being in Wales so the media put two and two together,' she explained. And, got five. As usual. Asked if she'd be excited to play the first female Doctor, Pulver added: 'Yes and no. Not if it meant the end of the Doctor Who franchise, because the fans aren't keen on it.' The thirty one-year-old actress also admitted that she has 'no idea' if Moffat and Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss plans to bring back her character Adler. Blimey, if they don't, there's gonna be trouble! 'If they want to leave her as a one-episode wonder, then I completely back them,' she insisted. '[But] if they do bring her back, I'm sure it will be in the most unexpected, dynamic way they could possibly do.'

The makers of Game of Thrones have apologised for a decapitated head resembling George W Bush that appeared in the first series. HBO said it was 'deeply dismayed' about the head's likeness to the former US president. It appears in a scene where King Joffrey shows Sansa Stark her father's head on a spike. Show creators David Benioff and DB Weiss also put out a statement apologising for any offence caused. They explained that the show used many fake body parts, many which were rented out. 'After the scene was already shot, someone pointed out that one of the heads looked like George W Bush. In the DVD commentary, we mentioned this, though we should not have. We meant no disrespect to the former President and apologise if anything we said or did suggested otherwise.' HBO's statement also described the matter as 'unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste. We made this clear to the executive producers of the series who apologised immediately for this inadvertent careless mistake. We are sorry this happened and will have it removed from any future DVD production.' The head appears in profile in the final episode of the first series. In the DVD commentary to the show, Benioff and Weiss mention its apparent likeness to George W Bush. However they tell viewers of the fantasy series: 'It's not a choice, it's not a political statement. We just had to use whatever head we had around.' Game of Thrones, set in the fictional world of Westeros, is based on the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George RR Martin. It's been a big success for HBO - both in terms of viewers and box-set sales - and was recently recommissioned for a third series.

Gordon Brown says that records released by the Cabinet Office confirm his claim that he did not call billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch to declare 'war' on News Corp. Murdoch told the Leveson Inquiry that the then prime minister made an angry call to him in September 2009 after the Sun stopped supporting Labour. But the Cabinet Office said there was no record of a call that month. The two men did speak to each other on the phone the following month about Afghanistan, it added. Murdoch told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards that Brown had phoned him after one of his company's newspapers, the Sun, switched its backing to the Conservatives. He quoted Brown as saying: 'Well, your company has declared war on my government and we have no alternative but to make war on your company.' The News Corp chief further claimed that Brown had not been in a 'balanced state of mind' when he made the phone call. Quizzed about the alleged call at the inquiry on Monday, Brown said: 'This conversation never took place.' The former prime minister added: 'I'm shocked and surprised that it should be suggested, even when there's no evidence of such a conversation, that it should have happened.' News Corp issued a statement to say Murdoch stood by his version of events. But the Cabinet Office has now released a statement which Brown says confirms his evidence to Leveson. It says: 'Following Gordon Brown's evidence to the Leveson Inquiry on Monday we have received a number of questions about our records, which we provided to Mr Brown to support his preparations for the inquiry. We can confirm that there is a record of only one call between Mr Brown and Rupert Murdoch in the year to March 2010. That call took place on the 10 November 2009. This was followed up by an e-mail from Gordon Brown to Rupert Murdoch on the same day referring to the earlier conversation on Afghanistan. Four witness statements have been submitted to the inquiry on the content of the call by staff who worked in No 10 Downing Street and who were the four and sole personnel on the phone call.' Brown's office said in a statement that the Cabinet Office note 'confirms Mr Brown's evidence to the inquiry and this document will now be submitted by Mr Brown to Lord Justice Leveson. The fact is there is no record of a phone call Mr Murdoch claims to have had with Mr Brown around the end of September 2009,' added a spokesman for the former prime minister. 'There is no record of a call because because no call took place. Indeed even now Mr Murdoch has been unable to name any date or a time of such a call.'

A senior serving police officer has been arrested by the Independent Police Complaints Commission on suspicion of passing unauthorised information to a journalist. The male officer, a superintendent from the City of London police force, was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of misconduct in public office. His arrest follows information provided to the IPCC by the Metropolitan police's Operation Elveden investigation into inappropriate payments to police and public officials. The IPCC said the officer was in custody at a London police station. He is believed to be the most senior officer yet arrested as part of the investigation into alleged corruption. The police watchdog said in a statement: 'A serving officer of superintendent rank, from City of London police, has today been arrested by the Independent Police Complaints Commission on suspicion of misconduct in public office. The arrest is the result of information passed to the IPCC by the Metropolitan Police Service team investigating Operation Elveden. It relates to the alleged passing of unauthorised information to a journalist.' It is understood the arrest is not as a result of any allegations that the officer received payments from journalists, rather the allegations centre around claims of misconduct in a public office over contact with journalists. The information was passed to the IPCC by officers from Operation Elveden and the body decided to begin an independent investigation into the officer. This resulted in his arrest on Thursday by the IPCC. City of London police have been involved in major investigations into Harry Redknapp for tax evasion and Kieron Fallon over allegations of race fixing. Both men were cleared at criminal trials. The arrest comes on the same day that Scotland Yard arrested a Sun journalist, a former prison officer and one other person in connection with its Operation Elveden investigation. The former prison officer, a forty-year-old-man, was arrested at his home in Corby, Northamptonshire, on suspicion of corruption, misconduct in a public office and money laundering. A thirty seven-year-old woman was also arrested at home in Corby, on suspicion of aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office and money laundering. Both are being questioned at a police station in Northamptonshire. A thirty one-year-old man was also arrested at his home in Croydon on suspicion of conspiracy to corrupt and conspiracy to cause misconduct in a public office. The Daily Scum Mail allege that the Sun journalist is one Neil Millard. Those arrests were made following information provided to police by News Corporation's management and standards committee.

Rogue Traders host Dan Penteado has been charged with committing over twenty four thousand knicker of benefit fraud while working for the BBC. The presenter, who exposes unscrupulous and fraudulent tradesmen for the consumer affairs programme, has not responded to letters from Bournemouth Borough Council on the matter and failed to appear for a court date on Wednesday, resulting in a warrant for his arrest being issued. Penteado, who also works as a private investigator, allegedly claimed that he was a full-time student with a family in order to receive housing and council tax benefit between 2008 and 2012. He was also working for Rogue Traders throughout that time on a salary that reportedly ranged from six to sixteen thousand smackers over the years. Johanne McNamara, prosecuting for Bournemouth Borough council, told magistrates that Penteado had committed a 'number of offences' amounting to benefit fraud. 'Some relate to failing to disclose a bank account which his wages were paid into,' the Daily Torygraph quotes her as saying. 'Others relate to failing to notify a change in his circumstances when he was hired by the BBC.' A Dorset police representative said: 'We can confirm that an arrest warrant has been issued for Mr Penteado over allegations of benefit fraud. It will go to our warrants' department as a normal investigation so we can try and serve it as soon as possible. We will obviously look to try and find out where he is.'

Stephen Fry has been named the person Britons would 'most like to stay with and watch the Olympic Games.' In another one of these utterly bloody pointless Internet polls which ask gullible punters damned stupid questions and are then reported as 'news' by supposedly 'serious' media outlets that are too frigging lazy to fill up their space with anything more important. Like From The North, for instance. Hey, I'll happily play the game, dear blog reader, I'm not a proud man. In this case, the actor, writer, comedian and Qi presenter beat Cheryl Cole and Kate Middleton into joint second place in the YouGov survey on behalf of Whoever they are. I mean, a far more important question is just who the hell votes in these things? And, why? I mean ... why?! Wimdu MD Karim Hardane said: 'Wimdu is all about finding unique alternatives to traditional accommodation, and providing good hosts for our guests.' Oh, so that's who they are. Fine. Nothing like a bit of self-publicity before you explain why you carried out such a pointless and trivial waste of time and effort in the first place. 'We wanted to have a little fun and find out who the ultimate host for the Olympics would be in the UK. Stephen Fry certainly has all the qualities we look for in a host, so if he would like to get in touch, we will happily take the call.' What a right load of old effing toot. Respondents said that Fry would offer 'witty and intelligent' conversation, with one suggesting that he could 'relieve them from the boredom of the Olympics' itself.

Mad Frankie Boyle is to host his own alternative take on The Royal Variety Performance this year. The comedian will front The Boyle Variety Performance as part of Channel Four's Funny Fortnight. Which is sure to have the Daily Scum Mail cumming in their pants at the thought of what a load of trouble they'll be able to stir up over it. So, no change there, then. The show will reportedly include 'a mixture of comedy, celebrity guests and other variety elements.' A spokesman said: 'The Boyle Variety Performance is Frankie's unique take on a royal variety event. The show will come direct from a London theatre and feature content so cutting-edge and scurrilously funny that no self-respecting royal would dream of attending.' Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer will also host a new panel show Lucky Sexy Winners, that will feature new sketches and characters with 'several unexpected anarchic twists along the way.' The latest series by Father Ted co-creator Arthur Matthews Toast of London will premiere, along with Outnumbered and Drop The Dead Donkey creators Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton's new sitcom Just Around the Corner. Morgana Robinson, Kayvan Novak, Sally Phillips and Blake Harrison will also star in a new sketch show Them From That Thing. Harry Hill also returns to host a reunion programme, while Peter Kay will front a new stand-up show. So, that'll be worth avoiding then. Channel Four's head of comedy Shane Allen said: 'Funny Fortnight is a chance to celebrate our achievements with a raft of new shows featuring many of the biggest names in British comedy.'

The very excellent Toby Hadoke has written a sequel to his acclaimed stage and radio show Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf. My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver is to tour on preview before being taken to the Edinburgh Fringe. Teasing the new show, Toby, who also acts as a moderator on classic Doctor Who DVD releases and is a contributor to the Doctor Who Magazine column A Battle of Wits, said: 'It mentions Vernon Dobtcheff, Meglos, genocide, and Fear Her - and it is nice about two of them.' I'm guessing genocide is one and Fear Her, very definitely, isn't? Just a guess, y'understand. Inspired by an obsession with Doctor Who and picking up where Moths Stole My Doctor Who Scarf left off, Toby's highly anticipated second show should be compelling, incisive, and universal in appeal. Join him as he takes you on a heart-warming journey that begins with losing a partner, ends with gaining a stepson, and pays homage to the restorative powers of the Time Lord in between. Intimate knowledge of the TARDIS is not required to enjoy this bitter-sweet comedy of parenting through SF evangelism. Although, it probably helps!

The opening episode of the new version of Dallas has proved something of a hit in the US, with an average of 6.8 million viewers tuning in for its debut. Wednesday's show secured the highest ratings for the premiere of a scripted series on a cable channel this year. Shown on TNT, it reunites Dallas stars Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray as JR, Bobby and Sue Ellen Ewing. A new generation of Ewings includes former Desperate Housewives actor Jesse Metcalfe. He plays Christopher Ewing who, along with cousin John Ross Ewing (Josh Henderson), continues the legendary family rivalry on Southfork ranch. The original Dallas, which was broadcast from 1978 to 1991, centred around Ewing brothers JR and Bobby's long and bitter battle over the family fortune. Channel Five will screen the new ten-part series in the UK in September. US critics gave it mixed reviews, with some accusing the show of 'cashing in' on the original, and the actors of turning in 'wooden' performances. Others were more positive.

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is to take part in this year's BBC Proms. He will perform at the Royal Albert Hall with the John Wilson Orchestra in a show dedicated to Broadway musicals. MacFarlane, who voices both Peter and baby Stewie Griffin, will release his first CD later this year, a collection of big band tunes. It's not the first time he has appeared at the Proms as he sang showtunes with the same orchestra in 2009. MacFarlane's first live-action film Ted, which co-stars Mark Wahlberg alongside a CGIed teddy bear, is released later this year.

One thing about being an England fan, dear blog reader, it's very seldom boring. (Well, except when it is, of course. Which, to be fair, isn't that infrequent.) Danny Welbeck grabbed the dramatic winner as England came from behind to beat Sweden in a quite terrific Group D game, possibly the game of the tournament so far (and, when was the last time you heard that said about something involving England?) Roy Hodgson's boys went ahead when thirty five million quid flop Andy Carroll powered in a header from Steven Gerrard's inviting cross in the first half. But Swedish defender big hairy Olof Mellberg slid in a shot to equalise before heading in when unmarked to put Sweden in front. Substitute Theo Walcott's swerving twenty five-yard strike hauled England level before Walcott crossed for Welbeck to flick in a stylish winner to knock Sweden out of the competition. The win was England's first competitive victory over Sweden and there was little sign of the trouble to come for them after Carroll put them ahead as Sweden rarely threatened in a cat-and-mouse first period. Swedish manager Erik Hamren must have laced his boys with a stocking full of diarrhoea at the break as they came out with renewed purpose for the second half like a bunch of big hairy Viking marauders intent on pillage and malarkey. It did not them take long to equalise. There was a touch of fortune about the equaliser when a Zlatan Ibrahimovic effort deflected to Mellbreg and his shot went in despite keeper Joe Hart getting a hand to the effort. Mellberg's second came as a result of desperately poor marking - Steven Gerrard in particular - as Mellberg was left free to head in a free-kick. England looked down and out but manager Hodgson threw on Walcott and it proved to be an inspired decision. Walcott's long range shot brought England back on level terms before his mazy run and cross was finished off in style by Welbeck. And, everything was all right.

Which was all, probably, just as well as this cheeky (and, admittedly, very funny) Swedish front page mocking English tabloids more than the England team might, in the event of a Swedish victory, have provoked considerable 'Johnny Foreigner baiting' by the Sun and the Scum Mail and the Mirra.
Course, the fact that we ended up winning means that now we can be all magnanimous and see it as a witty and wry little bit of badinage. Well done you Swedes.

In the day's other game, France secured their first Group D win at Euro 2012 at the expense of co-hosts Ukraine during a rain-interrupted spectacle in Donetsk. The teams were forced off after only four minutes because of the stormy conditions - including thunder and lightning (very, very frightening) - returning almost an hour after the scheduled start. Jeremy Menez opened the scoring in the second half when he drifted inside his marker and fired in from twelve yards. Yohan Cabaye added a second with a low strike from the edge of the area. It was the Newcastle midfielder's first international goal, secured as he moved into an advanced position and took advantage of a Ukraine defence that laboured in the heat and soggy conditions inside the Donbass Arena. (Interestingly it was scored at almost the exact moment that Bear Grylls was gliding cross the Tyne. Future historians take note!) The energy-sapping pitch was created by the deluge early in the first half that led to referee Bjorn Kuipers taking the teams off. The Dutchman was unconcerned by the rain at kick-off but by the fourth minute the downpour had intensified and heavy lightning overhead meant the official had little option but to bring the players off the pitch. Despite the storm subsiding twenty minutes later, there remained a doubt about whether the rest of the match would be completed on Friday because of the surface water, with rain having poured in torrents out of the stands. However, following emergency drainage work by the groundstaff, and a bit of fairly obvious arm-twisting by panicky-looking UEFA officials, Kuipers gave the go-ahead for the game to restart. It took a few minutes for the players to become accustomed to the new playing conditions, and it was the nimble French attack that was first to settle. They provided the best goalmouth action in the first half, with Menez, Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery showing the most intent. Paris St Germain winger Menez actually had the ball in the net but it was rightly ruled offside, while Benzema also tested Andriy Pyatov with a rising stinging shot and a low drive. It was centre-back Philippe Mexes who had the clearest chance of the first forty five minutes when his powerful header from a corner had to be pushed away by Pyatov. But Bayern Munich's Ribery, impressive in the pre-tournament friendlies, was the French star in Donetsk, and it was his wizardry that eventually found Menez on the right of the area. The winger picking up the pass before shifting inside Yevhen Selin and firing low inside the left-hand post. The second goal came three minutes later and this time Benzema was the creator. The Real Madrid forward fed Cabaye on the edge of the eighteen-yard area and he escaped his marker Oleg Gusev before firing in a low shot. Moments later Cabaye was fractions away from adding a second but his rasping drive, following sustained France pressure, rattled the left-hand post. Ukraine's game relied on long balls into space for Andriy Shevchenko and Andriy Yarmolenko to chase. Shevchenko, the hero of the opening match against Sweden, went closest with two efforts. The first was a fierce angled drive that Hugo Lloris palmed away and the second, after the break, was an arrowed shot that flew just a foot over the bar. Apart from that there was little to enthuse the largely partisan crowd inside the Ukraine stadium. The loud roars of delight that must have heartened their team when they drove forward earlier in the game had turned to whistles of disgust by the end of the match. The co-hosts have a chance to make amends when they face England in Tuesday's Group D decider, with France up against Sweden in Kiev.

Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has responded to Roy Keane's comments after the 4-0 loss to Spain. Keane was unhappy that Irish players praised their fans after the match. 'It's just nonsense players speaking about how great the supporters are. They should be doing a lot better, not praising supporters,' he said on ITV. Trapattoni responded: 'Roy was a great player. [But] what did he do after he stopped playing? He should concentrate on getting results as a coach...' Ooo. Burn!

UEFA has confirmed it is investigating reports a banana was thrown on to the pitch during the Italy versus Croatia match on Thursday. A photographer reportedly saw a steward retrieving a banana and heard monkey chants directed at Italy striker Mario Balotelli. A UEFA spokesperson said: 'We are looking into the reports.' Alleged racist chanting in the Spain versus Italy and Russia versus Czech Republic games are already subject to investigations. A Spanish fans' group has claimed that some of its country's supporters abused Balotelli in their game with Italy. Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie told reporters he 'noticed' racist chants directed at him. Balotelli said before Euro 2012 that he would 'not accept racism at all.'

A council has lifted its controversial ban on a nine-year-old girl taking photographs of her school meals after widespread criticism for being daft glakes. Martha Payne, from Argyll, got more than two million hits on her NeverSeconds blog in just a few weeks. Argyll and Bute Council claimed that press coverage of the blog had led catering staff to 'fear for their jobs,' a clear lie that nobody with half a bloody brain in their head believed for a single, solitary second. But council leader Roddy McCuish proved to have even less spine than brain-cells when he told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme that he had instructed senior officials to lift the ban immediately. He said: 'It is a good thing to do, to change your mind, and I have certainly done that.' Yeah, because the original decision made you look like a fool, a bully and a tyrant, pal. Might have been an idea not to have made it in the first place, then. The council was widely criticised for the move, which had sparked a furious reaction on social media. Local MSP Mike Russell, Scotland's education secretary, wrote to the council's chief executive in his capacity as local MSP, calling for the 'daft' ban to be overturned. Martha became an Internet hit after she began publishing photographs of her Lochgilphead Primary School lunches on 30 April. She gave each meal a 'food-o-meter' and health rating, and counted the number of mouthfuls it took her to eat it. But in a post published on Thursday evening, Martha said that her headteacher had told her not to take any more photographs for the blog. Under the headline Goodbye, the post stated: 'This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today. I only write my blog not newspapers and I am sad I am no longer allowed to take photos. I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners and I'll miss seeing the dinners you send me too.' The council's decision to impose the ban came after the Daily Record newspaper published a photograph of Martha alongside chef Nick Nairn under the headline Time to fire the dinner ladies. Martha had been using the blog - which she started with the help of her father Dave - to raise money for the Mary's Meals charity. An explanatory note posted on the blog by her father read: 'Martha's school have been brilliant and supportive from the beginning and I'd like to thank them all. I contacted Argyll and Bute Council when Martha told me what happened at school today and they told me it was their decision to ban Martha's photography. It is a shame that a blog that today went through two million hits, which has inspired debates at home and abroad and raised nearly two thousand pounds for charity is forced to end.' Payne later told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme his daughter was 'not happy' about the council's decision. He added: 'I can see that the photographs at the start didn't look the most appetising, but Martha marked the last school meal ten out of ten. I understand that it's brought pressure from around the world and media interest, but that is really out of our control. But we are very supportive of the school - the fact that she has been encouraged to blog and she got permission to do this is testament to them. Everyone in the kitchens has been wonderful to Martha and she enjoys going into lunch every day.'

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which is this. Obviously.

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