Tuesday, June 19, 2012

With A Ring Like That I Could - Dare I Say It? - Rule The World

Classic Doctor Who monsters The Ice Warriors may feature in the forthcoming series seven, according to rumours. Speculation of a new appearance by the reptilian Martians in Doctor Who was sparked by Matt Smith's recent appearance at Birmingham's Eleventh Hour convention, reports Radio Times. Smith apparently 'coyly smiled but offered no comment' when asked by a fan if The Ice Warriors would be re-introduced into Doctor Who for the show's fiftieth anniversary. This latest development came days after an alleged 'insider' allegedly told the Daily Lies that Mark Gatiss has written an upcoming episode which sees The Ice Warriors menace The Doctor and his new companion (Avocado played by Jenna-Louise Coleman). Mind you, if the Daily Lies told this blogger that shit was brown he'd want a second opinion. The Ice Warriors made their first Doctor Who appearance in 1967 and went on to become one of the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton)'s signature enemies. The Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) encountered a group heroic Ice Warriors in 1972's classic The Curse of Peladon, but a breakaway faction reverted to their villainous ways in the story's 1974 sequel The Monster of Peladon. Doctor Who's production team confirmed in March that several different versions of the Daleks will appear in the upcoming seventh series. Showrunner Steven Moffat has also hinted that he's created a 'scary new nemesis' for The Doctor, which he promised will be 'a good one.'

The BBC's Director General Mark Thompson has told MPs that the BBC has 'lessons to learn' from its widely-criticised coverage of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Yes, we know. Don't put Fearne Cotton in anything which requires skills greater than someone reading a sodding autocue. For one. And, if you could also give the wretched Cotton a ruddy good (public) dressing-down for reacting to perfectly legitimate viewer criticism as 'bullying' that'd also be a definite step in the right direction, Mark, mate. It's about time somebody reminded a few of these pampered overpaid showdogs you've got at television centre exactly whose licence fee it is that pays their wages. Thompson also acknowledged that there were 'some inaccuracies in the commentary that we shouldn't have had.' However, he added that he thought it was 'a really good piece of broadcasting' on the whole. Which it wasn't, or anything even remotely like it. Thompson was making his final appearance before the Culture Select Committee before stepping down. The broadcast from the Thames pageant was widely criticised in the press, with some commentators branding it 'inane' and 'tedious.' Thompson told MPs that bad weather and technical difficulties had hampered the coverage. 'The weather had the specific effect of making communications between our cameras very difficult,' he said. 'We lost most of our cameras for a period on the boats and some of our cameras on dry land as well, and that meant in the middle of the coverage we were spending a bit less time on the river covering the event and a bit more time away from the river than we would have liked. We also had one or two - not many but one or two - inaccuracies in the commentary which we shouldn't have had. So I would say, as with any programme, I'm sure the team can go away and learn some of the lessons.' MPs asked him, repeatedly, about a segment from Tuesday 5 June, in which Fearne Cotton and singer Paloma Faith discussed Jubilee memorabilia, including a sick bag. However, Thompson insisted he would not 'talk about individual elements' of the coverage. He pointed out that audience approval ratings had been high - remaining above 'eight out of ten' across all four days of coverage. And, he addressed criticisms that the BBC had lost its reputation for authoritative coverage, drawing attention to Andrew Marr's documentary about the life of the Queen, and a programme in which Prince Charles paid tribute to his mother. 'The idea that that wasn't full of history and archive and celebration of this remarkable story of one woman and her family, I thought we captured all of that,' said Thompson. The session also saw Thompson questioned about other aspects of his eight-year tenure at the head of the BBC. He was quizzed about an interview he had given to the New Statesman in 2010, in which he said there was 'massive left-wing bias at the BBC' when he joined in 1979. 'I said the BBC I joined in 1979 did have some issues,' he told the committee. 'Not on the air, but in the make up of the people who worked there. In the Current Affairs Department there were an awful lot of people who came from a left-wing perspective and not many from a Conservative perspective.' But he said things were very different now. 'Four ministers in the present government are former BBC alumni. All Tories, chairman, by the way,' said Thompson. The director general also said one of the hallmarks of his time in the post was the return of programmes the family could watch together. 'People said that wasn't possible, that that age was over,' he said, 'but Doctor Who and Merlin would be examples. 'I think the BBC's got a very interesting role to play in finding pieces which work for children and work for parents as well.' Asked when he expected to leave the BBC, Thompson said 'I would hope the handover would happen sooner rather than later,' suggesting September would be the earliest possible date.

Improvised drama True Love premiered on BBC1 with a pretty decent audience on Sunday night according to overnight data. Starring former Doctor Who actor and national heart-throb David Tennant, the five-part mini-series attracted 3.11m punters at 10.25pm, topping the channel's usual average for its late slot by a distance. Despite facing live football on ITV, BBC1 held up rather well with Countryfile (4.95m), Antiques Roadshow (5.06m) and a repeat of The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (4.12m). The Euro 2012 clash between Portugal and the Netherlands scored 6.92m for ITV between 7.15pm and 10pm. Before that, an episode of Emmerdale was watched by a surprisingly low audience of 4.03m in, admittedly, an unusual slot of 6.45pm, adding a further two hundred and thirty thousand punters on +1. Overall, ITV won primetime with 23.2 per cent versus BBC1's 19.7 per cent of the audience share. A new episode of Family Guy took nine hunded and seventy six thousand for BBC3 at 10pm, but ITV4's live Euro match, Germany versus Denmark, was the most-watched broadcast of the night with a fraction under a million viewers.

Lord Justice Leveson considered holding an emergency hearing this week into reports he threatened to resign in late February after his inquiry was criticised by rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Michael Gove according to the Gruniad Morning Star. The judge leading the inquiry into press ethics ultimately decided against the emergency hearing because, the Gruniad claims, 'it would bring an unnecessary cost for the taxpayer.' Leveson briefly considered the special meeting after the Scum Mail on Sunday claimed on its front page that he had issued 'a stern ultimatum' to No 10 following rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove's speech on what he described as the 'chilling atmosphere' of the inquiry. The Scum Mail on Sunday headlined its story with the phrase Leveson's 'threat to quit' – but, the Gruniad states, 'it is understood that the judge made no such threat.' So, in other words, according to the Gruniad the Scum Mail were lying. Well, that's a surprise, because they're normally such a bastion of truthful and accurate reportage. The odious right-wing shitrag reported that 'Government insiders say they were convinced Leveson was prepared to resign in protest unless Ministers stopped passing comment on his inquiry.' Instead Leveson called cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood to seek reassurance that ministers had not already decided to ignore the conclusions of his inquiry and was assured that that was not the case. The unlikely row following the tabloid's article is now expected to be discussed next week when the inquiry returns. Inquiry 'sources' allegedly said there was 'no plan at the moment' to call the Scum Mail on Sunday editor, Geordie Greig, before the inquiry to explain himself. A spokesman for the inquiry declined to comment on possible future witnesses. 'I can confirm there was a brief discussion about the need for this to be dealt with in a week when the inquiry is not sitting,' the inquiry spokesman said. 'What we decided was that it would have had an unnecessary cost – there would have been costs to all – so we decided not to do that and we will see what happens next week.' Core participants, including the victims of press intrusion and newspaper groups, have been invited to make submissions on the fallout of the Scum Mail on Sunday story by Wednesday this week. On Monday it emerged that Downing Street has ordered ministers to refrain from commenting in detail about the inquiry. According to the Scum Mail on Sunday, No 10 insiders were 'convinced' Leveson was concerned that his inquiry was being undermined by ministers' comments. A Downing Street spokeswoman said yesterday it would be 'unhelpful' for ministers to provide a 'running commentary' on the inquiry before its recommendations are concluded in November.

BBC3 has revealed the sort of comedy shows that it wants to make in a briefing document sent out to producers. The channel launched a scheme called Funny On Three, which aimed to encourage established writers into creating sitcoms, and sent a memo to companies who might pitch ideas, explaining what it was looking for. Although filled with the usual TV broadcasting buzzwords such as 'distinctive', 'bold', 'inventive', 'fresh', 'relatable' and 'warm', the brief outlines what BBC3 controller Zai Bennett is seeking. Priorities are a studio-based sitcom to appeal to the channel's young audience and a more realistic, single-camera show to follow in the footsteps of previous hit Gavin & Stacey. The memo said: 'Our top priority is to find a studio show with well-defined, original, likeable, youthful characters like Two Pints of Lager, IT Crowd or Big Bang Theory.' And that meant writing that should be 'innovative, laugh-out-loud and edgy without being patronising of our audience. That's likely to mean post-watershed ideas that resonate with the audience’s lives and experience.' The brief also said that executives were seeking ideas that went beyond London, 'with a modern, diverse feel to the fore'. However, the document also said that BBC3 is 'never afraid to try new stuff,' so the Funny On Three initiative welcomed innovative shows that could replicate the cult success of the likes of The Mighty Boosh, The Young Ones and Bottom. 'We welcome scripts full of innovation and cultish comedy characters and recognise that this brief may be of particular interest to writer performers,' it said. Nonetheless, the Funny On Three initiative, run by BBC creative head of comedy, Simon London and backed by Bennett and comedy commissioning controller Cheryl Taylor, cited three potential scenarios it was 'particularly interested' in. They are: A young woman comes of age only to discover the father 'that walked out' when she was younger is, in fact, a sperm donor. She sets out to discover her half siblings. Secondly, two brothers who are chalk and cheese inherit the family firm. They are delighted they can now flex their entrepreneurial muscles. However, their contrasting personalities and lifestyles are not conducive to happiness and the workplace soon becomes a war zone. And finally, a fashion-conscious teen and her gay brother are forced to move to a rural community and are horrified by what faces them. The deadline for Funny On Three passed two weeks ago, with ten writers the corporation hopes to work with being selected next week. The BBC said: 'There is no guarantee that the scripts that come through this process will be commissioned. However, we hope that long-term relationships will be forged and opportunities to win commissions will be established.'

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has thanked the BBC World Service for keeping her 'in touch,' during her years of house arrest in Burma. The irony of which will, hopefully not be lost on anyone when considering that there are many on the right of British politics both in parliament and in the media who would rather like to do to the BBC what the Burmese did to Aung San Suu Kyi - lock it up and pretend it doesn't exist. On the first day of a UK tour, Aung met the BBC's director general and staff at the BBC Burmese Service in London. Earlier she stressed the 'importance of the rule of law' in democracy, at a London School of Economics debate. She has arrived in Oxford - her home in the early 1980s - for a party to celebrate her sixty seventh birthday. The pro-democracy leader was freed from more than two decades of house arrest in late 2010. On her visit to BBC Broadcasting House in central London, she paid tribute to BBC staff. 'Because of the BBC I never lost touch with my people, with the movement for democracy in Burma and with the rest of the world,' she said. Aung also met former Radio 1 disc jockey Dave Lee Travis, whose BBC World Service show she listened to whilst detained. During a brief conversation, Aung recalled how she was 'thrilled' to hear a young Burmese boy speaking on DLT's programme for the first time. 'Well that's the World Service,' the Hairy Cornflake replied. 'It does what it says on the tin, and I am just glad to have been a part of the things that you listened to that helped you.' Afterwards, DLT added: 'It is so delightful to shake the hand of a person that is doing such a lot for freedom.' Taking part in a round-table debate at LSE on Tuesday morning, Aung said that reform and democracy were only possible when 'justice was done and seen to be done.' Asked why she did not condemn the military junta in Burma, she explained that 'resolving conflict is not about condemnation,' but about discovering and solving the roots of conflict. She also said she had been 'touched by the warmth' that people had welcomed her with during the visit. Her two-week-long tour - her first to Europe since 1988 - is seen as another milestone for Burma's political progress and includes visits to the UK, Switzerland, France and Norway. Her decision to travel has been seen as a sign of confidence in the government of President Thein Sein, who has pursued a course of reform since coming to power last year, in Burma's first elections in twenty years. On Wednesday, the opposition leader will address Oxford University where she is expected to receive an honorary degree. She lived in the city for a number of years with her British husband, Michael Aris, and their two children before returning to Burma. Ahead of a meeting with Aung on Thursday, Foreign Secretary William Hague told the Commons it was 'vital for all of us who believe in freedom and democracy' to work with her.' He added: 'It is important to recognise that there is still a long way to go in Burma. I do believe that the president of Burma is sincere in his intentions, but there will be a variety of views about the democratic progress of Burma within the regime.' Aung will also meet the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall on Thursday, as well as addressing both Houses of Parliament. Aung is the daughter of Burmese independence leader Aung San, who was assassinated in 1947. She became the leader of Burma's pro-democracy movement when, after living abroad for many years, she returned to Burma in 1988, initially to look after her sick mother. She never left the country, fearing its military rulers would not allow her to return and was unable to receive her Nobel Peace Prize in person, or be with her husband when he died in 1999.

Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch has been named best actor in a movie or mini-series at the US Critics' Choice TV Awards. Sherlock also won the best movie or mini-series award at the event in Los Angeles, but co-star Lara Pulver missed out. She was beaten (ahem) in the best actress in a movie or mini-series category by Julianne Moore in HBO's Game Change. Cat Deeley was another British winner, being named joint winner in the best reality show host category and ability to read an autocue whilst walk in a straight line at the same time. Deeley, who presents So You Think You Can Dance for the FOX network, shared the prize with Dancing With The Stars host Tom Bergeron. Homeland won the prestigious award for best drama series, while its female star Claire Danes won best actress in a drama series. The Showtime thriller's British star Damian Lewis lost out to Bryan Cranston, who was named best actor in a drama series for AMC's crime drama Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad notched up another win, with Giancarlo Esposito, who plays drug lord Gus Fring, named best supporting actor. Best supporting actress in a drama went to Mad Men's Christina Hendricks. The Voice won best competitive reality series and other winners included Modern Family's Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen, who won best supporting actor and actress in a comedy series. Community, which follows a group of students at a community college, picked up best comedy. NBC walked away with the most prizes, landing five in total. The gala ceremony took place in Beverly Hills and follows last year's inaugural event, which saw Mad Men take home three awards. Organised by the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, the event is intended to act as a forerunner to the more established Emmy Awards.

Laurence Fox has revealed that the seventh series of the ITV detective drama Lewis will be the show's last. Fox claimed that the programme's star Kevin Whately and himself had agreed to call it a day to prevent the series becoming 'a bit samey. Kev and I have decided we want to do other things, otherwise it all gets a bit samey,' he told the Daily Torygraph. 'I mean we could have gone on forever. Oh God, was I supposed to say that? I have no idea if I'm allowed to tell you it's ending. Bloody hell, what if I wasn't?' Bit late for all that now, matey! Cat's out of the bag, as it were. ITV gave the show a seventh run in May, claiming that they 'remain committed' to the Inspector Morse spin-off. The show has been a regular hit in the ratings for the broadcaster on both Sunday and Wednesday nights. ITV's Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour, which stars Shaun Evans in the lead role, was granted a full series commission earlier this year.

71 Degrees North has reportedly been axed by ITV after two series. The reality show followed various celebrities and non-entities battling it out to reach the seventy first parallel north along with various other challenges, hosted by Paddy McGuinness and Charlotte Jackson. Producers have now, apparently, decided to cancel the programme after struggling to sign up enough celebrities to join the show, according to the Sun. And also, because it was shit and no one watched it. Charlotte Jackson stated that the celebrities found the conditions too tough. 'It's not coming back,' she said. 'The scenery is spectacular and it was an amazing experience but it's really tough. I don't think the celebrities realised just how hard it was. Watching at home you'd expect the stars would get an extra rug after filming but they were just left sleeping in snow graves. John Barnes almost got pneumonia because he sweated on a task and then it froze on him. I was glad to be in a hotel at night with Paddy.' However, the bad news is that the presenting duo will reunite to front The Big Quiz on ITV for its Olympic special. 'We filmed it in front of a live studio audience, which I had never done before, and it's girls against the boys which I always think is a good thing. I was the team captain for the girls. I had skeleton racer Amy Williams, swimmer Karen Pickering and heptathlete Louise Hazel, while Paddy had footballer Joe Hart, hurdler Kriss Akabusi and swimmer Mark Foster. It was really fun.' No, I don't believe that either, dear blog reader.

Jimmy Carr is at the centre of a row over tax after it was revealed he uses an offshore scheme which could cut his personal income tax to just one per cent. According to the front-page story on The Times – which features a huge picture of the comic just to ram home the point – Carr 'squirrels away' £3.3million a year into the K2 scheme. His earnings from TV appearances, stand-up tours and DVD sales are, allegedly, 'funnelled' into a Jersey-based company that then 'lends' him the money back. Since loans are untaxable, Carr, like around eleven hundred other K2 members, could avoid a hefty tax bill. All of which is perfectly legal, incidentally. Carr, however, is accused of hypocrisy as he previously lampooned Barclays bank's tax avoidance on Ten O'Clock Live. On the Channel Four show, he said: 'Why don't you apply for the Barclays' one per cent tax scam? You will need the world's biggest, most aggressive team of blood-hungry amoral tax lawyers. If you meet the criteria, you'll pay one per cent tax, like Barclays do.' Carr was named by The Times after they covertly recorded a meeting with Roy Lyness, director of Peak Performance Accountants. 'How much is the highest amount you think we've got going through this solution?' he said. '£3.3 million. That's actually a well-known comedian. He's got his own company, it's making about four to four and a half million. He pays himself one hundred thousand pounds salary and puts through £3.3 million.' Although the accountant did not name Carr, The Times apparently 'did their own research' to identify him. The legal, but 'aggressive', strategy was set up by a company called Blue Cube, which is in Peak Performance's network. One of the directors of Blue Cube is one of Carr's old school friends, James Norman, who jointly owns a company called Offence Defence with Carr – the company through which the comic bought his multimillion-pound home. Carr's lawyers told The Times that his membership of K2 was disclosed to the relevant tax authorities in accordance with legal requirements and that he, like other high-net-worth individuals, managed his tax affairs 'efficiently.' They said that his financial arrangements were 'a private matter' and the fact that he arranges his affairs in a tax-efficient manner, in common with other high-net-worth individuals, was 'completely un-newsworthy.' Ironically, The Times's owner, billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's News Corp operates one hundred and thirty six subsidiaries in offshore tax havens – and has lobbied against legislation that would have made it easier for the US government to crack down on tax abuses based in Panama.

The Olympic flame burned brightly at York Racecourse at the end of a one hundred and fifty-mile journey on day thirty two of the torch relay. After being carried along part of York's famous city walls, the torch was handed to ex-showjumper Harvey Smith. The seventy four-year-old Yorkshireman lit the cauldron at York racecourse after carrying the flame on his horse, Paddy. It was clearly an emotional moment for Smith, a former Olympic showjumper, whose two sons have also competed at the Games. He told the excited crowds at the racecourse: 'I'm very honoured for the whole of Yorkshire to do this for them, I've worked hard for this city.' Tuesday's route took the relay from Hull to York through Brough, Goole, Camblesforth, Selby, Monk Fryston, Barkston Ash, Tadcaster, Boston Spa, Wetherby, Harewood, Knaresborough, Harrogate and Ripon. The first torchbearer of the day was Erica Hughes, seventy two, from Pocklington, who started at Hull's The Deep aquarium, home to more than three and a half thousand fish. She was selected to carry the torch for her voluntary work with a team of medics at an ear, nose and throat clinic in Nepal. Among the others taking part were Philip Jones, sixty, from York, and Harrogate's sixteen-year-old Scott Stockdale, who carried their torches along part of the historic city walls, which stretch for two-and-a-half miles. Lewis Birkinshaw, seventeen, Bradford Academy's current citizen of the year, carried the torch at Fountains Abbey in Ripon, which is a World Heritage Site. Other torchbearers included George Stocker, thirteen, from Fairfield, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2008. He had forty eight weeks of chemotherapy and has gone on to raise fifty thousand quid for Candlelighters charity, to help other children he believes are 'more poorly' than himself. As it approached York, eighty five-year-old John Bickers carried the Olympic torch for the second time, having done so before the last London Olympics in 1948. Clive Warley, seventy four, was one of those who carried the flame through his home city. He was born with spina bifida and supports the Paralympics and special Olympic sports at local, regional and national level. Another York torchbearer was thirty four-year-old Luke Young from Dishforth, who carried the flame along The Shambles. He was chosen to run with the torch after cycling from London to Paris to raise money for charity. The day ended in grand style - with a little drama, too - when Smith, mounted his novice showjumper, Paddy, carried torch into the racecourse. Smith, often a controversial character during his equestrian career, competed in two Olympic Games and won an individual bronze medal at the 1970 World Championships. He said: 'Paddy was a bit frightened to start with, but he settled down. He has never been in front of a crowd like this - perfect gentleman.'

Wayne Rooney marked his England return with the goal that secured a place for Roy Hodgson's side in Euro 2012's last eight - but it was a rough passage eased by major helping of good fortune and controversy against Ukraine. Hodgson instantly restored Rooney after a two-match suspension in place of Andy Carroll with orders to make a belated mark on the campaign after sitting out the draw against France and the victory against Sweden. And, after missing a simple header in the first half, Rooney ensured that England topped Group D and set up a quarter-final meeting against Italy in Kiev on Sunday with his first goal in a major tournament since scoring twice in the 4-2 win against Croatia in Lisbon at Euro 2004. England could have met world and European champions Spain but that eventuality was avoided by Sweden's 2-0 win against France and now they must overcome the Italians to progress further. Ukraine, however, will complain about a contentious second-half incident when Marko Devic's shot appeared to cross the line before it was scrambled away by John Terry but it was missed by the officials. The incident immediately revived the debate about goal-line technology, with a final decision expected to be taken in Zurich on 5 July. England will regard it as a measure of justice for Frank Lampard's disallowed 'goal' against Germany in Bloemfontein at the 2010 World Cup - but it was also an illustration of how they rode their luck for long periods in front of a predictably partisan home crowd. But, once again, Hodgson's men found a way to get the result they required and there is a real air of respectability about their campaign even though they had to survive a first-half siege from a Ukraine side desperate for the win they needed to reach the knockout phase. Oleg Blokhin's team lost the talismanic Andriy Shevchenko to a knee injury but still showed enough to put England through several torrid spells. A lack of match sharpness was perhaps to blame for Rooney squandering England's best chance after twenty seven minutes. It appeared he only had to make clean contact with The Scum team-mate Ashley Young's cross to score but Rooney lacked conviction and sent a far-post header tamely wide of keeper Andriy Pyatov's goal. Either side of Rooney's fluffed chance it was a tale of Ukrainian domination as they exploited England down both flanks and showed greater fluidity as they struggled to gain any control. Scott Parker was desperately urging England's players to keep possession - but it was easier said than done amid waves of Ukraine attacks and it needed penalty area block from the Stottingtot Hotshots midfield man to thwart Devic. England keeper Joe Hart had to save smartly from the dangerous Andriy Yarmolenko, who also raised the hopes the Donetsk crowd as he evaded several challenges in the area before running out of space. Rooney made no mistake with his second headed opportunity as Steven Gerrard's delivery from the right was once again the creative source. The cross took two deflections and slipped from the grasp of Pyatov for a simple far-post header. The crowd was momentarily silenced but Ukraine refused to lose heart. Artem Milevskiy should have done better than send a header wide but the real controversy came when Hart partially blocked Devic's effort and Terry made a desperate scramble to hook the ball off the line. The Ukrainians claimed a goal and subsequent replays appear to show the ball had crossed the line before Terry's intervention. There was still time amid the drama for Ashley Cole to almost mark his ninety seventh cap with a goal but the erratic Pyatov made a fine recovering save after another inelegant attempt to deal with a cross. With twenty minutes left it was time for the entrance of Ukraine's great sporting icon Shevchenko, who received a thunderous ovation as his country looked to him to rescue their Euro 2012 campaign. It was a task beyond even Shevchenko, who was soon booked for a rash challenge on Young, and, as Hodgson said, England can dream a little more ahead of the confrontation with Italy in Kiev.

A spectacular Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal helped Sweden beat a France side who finish Group D runners-up and will now meet Spain in the Euro 2012 last eight. France stuggled to get going - that's what happens when you leave Yohan Cabaye out the side, chaps - and Ola Toivonen went close for Sweden when his shot stuck the outside of the post. Ibrahimovic eventually punished the France when he brilliantly volleyed in from fifteen yards from a Sebastian Larsson cross. Olivier Giroud wasted the French side's best chance, heading over when well place, before Larsson smashed in a close-range shot for Sweden's second a few moments from time. It was a first defeat in twenty four internationals for France and manager Laurent Blanc will not only be left to worry over a last eight meeting with the European and World champions, but also a very disappointing performance from his side. Sweden had already been eliminated before the game after defeats in their first two matches but they led early in the second half against both Ukraine and England before going on to lose. Despite their exit, Sweden had also given notice they were determined to finish on a high as the players chose to train last Sunday rather than taking up manager Erik Hamren's offer of having the day off. Les Bleus, though, did not heed the warning signs and began in casual manner.

The first openly gay footballer in Europe tweeted during the Euro 2012 clash between England and the Ukraine as part of a campaign to raise awareness of an anti-gay crackdown in the tournament co-host country. Marcus Urban played for German second division team Rot-Weiß Erfurt in the 1990s, but came out at a time when it was almost unheard of for a footballer. Urban teamed up with campaign group AllOut.org to live tweet during England's crucial Group D clash against the Ukraine. They want to raise awareness of the fact that the parliament in Ukraine is currently considering a 'gay gag rule,' which would make it illegal to say the word 'gay' in public. AllOut.org has launched an international campaign to urge president Viktor Yanukovych to speak up against the growing anti-gay sentiment across the Ukraine. 'The situation for lesbian and gay people here in Ukraine is urgent, and we need supporters like Marcus and All Out members all around the world to speak up with us,' said Zoryan Kis, executive director of Fulcrum, a Ukrainian LGBT organisation. AllOut.org claims that six senior politicians from European Union countries have already refused to attend Euro 2012 in protest at the deteriorating human rights situation in the Ukraine. The British government has boycotted the group stage of Euro 2012 in protest at the situation, as well as the jailing of Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko has been charged with the killing of the businessman and MP Yevhen Shcherban sixteen years ago, but her party claim that the charges are part of Yanukovych's campaign to eliminate his political opponents. 'Leaders are telling Ukraine that they can not reap the benefits of the European community while rejecting its commitment to human rights,' said Andre Banks, executive director of AllOut.org. 'Euro 2012 has become the focal point for everyone from heads of state to pro-footballers ready to give Ukraine a red card for the country's ever expanding pattern of human rights abuses.' The protest is also aimed at showing how difficult it still is for footballers to come out as gay. Urban said that he quit football twenty years ago due to the 'pressure to conform' in the professional game, and he feels that those pressures still exist for players today.

Paddy Power has confirmed that it will pay Nicklas Bendtner's one hundred thousand Euros fine for showing the brand's name on his underpants during Denmark's game against Portugal. The bookmaker said on its blog that UEFA had decided to tackle the matter 'after solving all the social, political and race issues surrounding Euro 2012. We can't do anything about UEFA's chilled-out attitude to racism or political oppression, but we can do something about the Pantsgate,' the company said. 'We've decided to foot the bill for the fine. Paddy Power are paying Bendtner's massively over-the-top one hundred thousand Euros fine.' Paddy Power's 'head of mischief' Ken Robertson added: 'We pride ourselves on listening to our customers and what we heard loud and clear yesterday was that Nicklas Bendtner should not suffer as a result of UEFA's double standards. We don't believe that Nicklas should be penalised for nothing more serious than wearing his lucky underpants which in fairness was only a bit of fun.' There has been widespread outrage in the football world as the obscene severity of the punishment handed out to Bendtner when compared to fines levied against national football associations some of whose supporters have been found guilty of racist and violence behaviour. Rio Ferdinand and Vincent Kompany have both criticised UEFA after Croatia's £64,561 fine for racism, fifteen thousand smackers less than Bendtner's fine for revealing sponsored pants. Shiekh Yer Man City captain Kompany called on UEFA to 'review their priorities.' The Scum's Ferdinand tweeted: 'UEFA are you for real? Eighty thousand pound fine for Bendtner? All of the racism fines together don't even add up to that.' He continued: 'Platini was a great player but him and his colleagues alienate themselves with exactly this type of rubbish.' A UEFA spokesman said: 'It is up to the disciplinary committee to decide on the sanctions (in each individual case) and the written reasons (for Bendtner's punishment) are being sent to the Danish FA.'

Actors and comedians have paid tribute to one of the best loved of their profession, the actor, poet, and raconteur Victor Spinetti, who died from cancer in a hospice in Monmouth aged eighty two. Victor appeared in three of the Beatles' movies, A Hard Day's Night, Help! and the TV special The Magical Mystery Tour. Sir Paul McCartney once described him as 'the man who makes clouds disappear,' and Victor often told the story of how George Harrison said to him: 'You've got to be in all our films. If you're not in them me mum won't come to see them – because she fancies you.' Mrs Harrison was clearly a lady of taste. In a career spanning more than sixty years, Victor starred with some of the biggest names in the business, worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and entertained thousands with a mix of songs and stories in his one-man show. He worked alongside Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the 1972 film version of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, as well as more than thirty other movies. The versatile actor was able to easily turn his hand from serious classical roles to comedy performances and roles in sitcoms. He was also a successful stage director, wrote and published poetry and became well-known for his appearances in a long running Jaffa Cake advertising campaign. (Victor, memorably, played 'The Mad Jaffa Cake Eater', a Mexican bandit-style character who surreptitiously stole other people's Jaffa Cakes, prompting the catchphrase 'There's Orangey!') Between 1969 and 1970 Victor appeared in two series of Thames Television's Two In Clover opposite Sid James. He hosted Victor's Party for Granada and later voiced the arch villain Texas Pete in the popular S4C animated TV series SuperTed (1982-84). Born in a coal-mining village in a tough part of south Wales in 1929 to an Italian father and a Welsh mother, Victor grew up above the family's fish and chip shop. He thought of becoming a teacher before going to drama school in Cardiff. In a newspaper interview in 2008, Victor said that he was baffled by actors who turned down work or refused to tour, telling drama students to learn 'the three Rs: redundancy, rejection and resting. If you can handle those, do it. Don't do it because you want something, but because you have something to give,' he said. Victor's agent, Barry Burnett, told Reuters: 'He had cancer for a year, but he was very cheerful to the end. I spoke to him on Friday and he was talking about his plans and everything. He was a wonderful actor and a wonderful raconteur. Everyone looked forward to having an evening with him because they were going to be entertained. He would start talking and he would never stop.' Young Beatles fans would scream and chase Victor down the street because of his links to the band, Burnett added. 'He loved them - they became great friends. One of his stories was that when he flew over to New York there were big crowds at the airport. So he said "who's on the plane?" and they said "they're waiting for you." His association with The Beatles made him the next best thing to them.' News of his death prompted a stream of tributes from fans and members of the entertainment world on Twitter. Actor Rob Brydon tweeted: 'So sad Victor Spinetti has died. The funniest storyteller I've ever met and a lovely warm man. Proud to have been his friend.' Sian Phillips told BBC Wales she was shocked and saddened, adding: 'He was such a force of joy and vitality. When one saw him across a crowded room, one couldn't wait to get together with him and have a chat and a catch-up.' Barbara Windsor, his co-star in the West End stage version of Oh! What a Lovely War which later transferred to Broadway and was a lifelong friend, had visited Victor last Thursday. 'We were very close. He was such a great man,' she said. 'We just chatted and chatted and talked about old things. But he said, "let's not talk about all that, let's talk about the future." What he was trying to say was that everything was happy in his room. I was happy to see him. He didn't look ill. He looked great. He was swearing a lot, like that would get rid of the illness, and we just laughed.' Victor had recently appeared on Windsor's two-part radio series Clubland, and she wanted to play it for him. 'I got the nurses to wake him up to hear it,' she said. 'Some of the nurses didn't know who he was so I wanted them to hear it too. He was part of my life and I'm going to miss him so much. We'd go out for lunch and have a great gossip together. He was such a good actor because he took notice of people and used their characters. He portrayed them wonderfully, whatever he did.' Victor attended Monmouth School and initially had ambitions to be a teacher. But after turning to acting he studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. His early stage career saw him make a number of memorable performances with Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop, in noted productions of Lional Bart's Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be (1959) and Oh, What a Lovely War! (1963). It was his performance in the latter which prompted The Beatles to ask Dick Lester to cast Victor in A Hard Day's Night (1964), the first of the group's movies in which he had the small, but hugely amusing, role of a harassed TV director. It is suggested that George Harrison told Victor he had to be in the film because 'me mum will only go to see them if you're in them.' Harrison would also say, 'You've got a lovely karma, Vic.' Spinetti's collaboration with The Beatles saw him appear in their next two movies, Help! (1965, in which he played one of the main villains, the mad scientist Foot who wants to rule the world ... if only he can get a government grant) and, in a cameo in the self-produced made-for-television movie The Magical Mystery Tour (1967). Sir Paul McCartney described him as 'the man who makes clouds disappear' and Victor would later make an appearance in the promotional video for Macca's song, 'London Town.' In July 2010 Victor's performance of the song 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da', at The Festival Theatre, Malvern, was made available on The Beatles Complete on Ukulele podcast. Oh! What a Lovely War transferred to Broadwayand won Victor a Tony Award for his main role as an obnoxious Drill Sergeant. He also appeared in the West End in The Odd Couple (as Felix), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as Albert Einstein in a critically lauded performance in 2005 in Albert's Boy at the Finborough Theatre and in his own one-man show, A Very Private Diary. Victor also co-authored an acclaimed 1968 National Theatre adaptation of In His Own Write, based on the writings of John Lennon. Victor and Lennon appeared together in June 1968 on BBC2's arts programme Release. During the interview, Victor said of the play: 'It's not really John's childhood, it's all of ours really. It's about the growing; the things that helped us to be more aware.' He also directed Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair, including productions staged in Europe. His many television appearances included the sitcom Take My Wife in which he played a London-based booking agent and schemer who was forever promising his comedian client that fame was just around the corner, and An Actor's Life For Me. His film career included appearances in Zeffirelli's The Taming of the Shrew, again alongside Dick Burton and Liz Taylor, The Return of the Pink Panther, Becket, Start the Revolution Without Me, Voyage of the Damned as well as The Krays in 1990. Victor was also a noted raconteur whose creative output included poetry and an autobiography as well as his his one-man show. Victor's partner of forty four years, Graham Curnow, died in 1997.

So, here's today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. From Vic's mates.

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