Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mary Tamm: Careful In Career

Jonathan Rhys Meyers - pretty boy, can't act - is to star in the title role in NBC's new drama series Dracula. The network has ordered a ten-episode run of the show, which is also being produced by Sky Living, reports Deadline. Dracula, which was bought by NBC in January, is set in the 1890s and has been described as 'Dangerous Liaisons meets The Tudors.' So, watchable if historically ludicrous, then? Okay, I can buy that. It follows the iconic vampire as he arrives in London seeking vengeance against those who wronged him hundreds of years ago, all the time pretending to be an American entrepreneur extolling the virtues of modern science. However, his plans go awry when he falls in love with a woman who appears to be the reincarnation of his dead wife. Right. So, not Bram Stoker's Dracula, then? Or, even Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula one imagines! NBC boss Robert Greenblatt said at the Television Critics Association Press Tour on Tuesday that the show would be a 'new version of the classic Bram Stoker' story. In the same way that, seemingly, Francis Ford Coppola's version was. By bearing virtually no resemblance to it whatsoever. He added: 'In the world of Twilight and True Blood and all the contemporised stories, we thought we'd go back to the original.' What, Buffy, The Vampire Slayer? Because, let's face it, that's what both of those franchises are based on, lock, stock and two bloody fangs, not Dracula or anything even remotely like it. The drama will be developed by producers Tony Krantz and Colin Callender and writer Cole Haddon.

The BBC has come in for some flak over the last few days for 'not embracing the Olympic spirit' and quizzing IOC boss Jacques Rogge on whether the flotilla of officials flocking to London really need five-star cribs and their own traffic lanes. At least, they have from all of the usual suspects each with their own, thoroughly sick, agenda - Communist lice at the Gruniad Morning Star and jack-booted bully-boy thugs at the Daily Scum Mail and the Torygraph. Nevertheless, it was clearly time for a spot of gung-ho patriotism to redress the balance, a bit of Boy's Own British spunk, a need for a story to stoke them home fires and remind us - from a generation grown idle and fickle - how genuinely noble and heroic the British can be when we set our minds to it. Hence, Bert & Dickie was a timely retelling of a properly great British Olympic feat - Chariots of Fire with oars, essentially. Straining and splashing along the Thames, Matt Smith and Sam Hoare played the real-life rowers Bert Bushnell and Dick Burnell, who won gold in the double sculls in 1948, one of only three gold medals that the host country won in those games. Bert and Dickie were a chalk-and-cheese pairing. Bert, the lower middle-class draughtsman and son of a boat builder, was unimposing and bespectacled. Dickie, a Times journalist, a former captain of boats at Eton and an Oxford blue, was a perfect specimen, confident and accomplished. Bert rode a bike whilst Dickie drove a luxury motor. They we're brought together just five weeks before the games by Jack Beresford (played by James Frain), who medaled in five consecutive Olympics and won gold in front of Hitler in 1936. Beresford was a man with a vision of a meritocratic Olympic team, in which the best rowers would be paired together, even if that meant Dickie must ditch his longtime boat-mate and Bert must put up with a toff in the front seat. In the event, if viewers were expecting 'Chariots of Fire in boats' they would have been marginally disappointed, partly because rowing is not as aesthetically appealing or as easy to choreograph as sprinting. The script played on the two Olympians' contrasting backgrounds – Burnell had a silver spoon in his mouth, Bushnell a rather big chip on his shoulder – the one great duality they shared was their awkward relationships with their respective fathers. Bert was trying to live out the broken dreams of his dad, Dickie to live up to the Olympian pedigree of Burnell senior (himself a gold medalist at the 1908 games). The dialogue was occasionally plodding and included some expected generic clichés. Not that this was, necessary, a bad thing. Essentially, all stories of Olympic triumph - except, possibly, Cool Running - contain a little splash of poetry along with a bigger splash of poetic licence but this drama would not have held the attention for ninety minutes had it not been a true story, and a good one at that. The real Bert Bushnell, who died in 2010 when William Ivory was just beginning his script, had noted (in the 2008 BBC4 documentary The Austerity Olympics) that the initial animosity between himself and Dickie was genuine and had been due to the difference in their class backgrounds, still a major issue in 1948. 'There was class tension there and it came from me being bloody awkward!' he said, wisely. By far the most amusing scenes focused on the British government's panicky attempts to organise The Austerity Games on a shoestring of, basically fourpence and a spam sandwich. This consisted of a series of semi-comic (and really well played) scenes in which the two Olympic organisers, Lord Aberdare (John Bird) and Lord Burghley (Adrian Lukis), explain to Prime Minister Clement Attlee (an excellent turn by Clive Merrison) and Minister for Overseas Trade Harold Wilson (Thomas Arnold) the latest in a series of barely averted catastrophes. While the officials struggle to keep the Olympics British - least they fall into the hands of the dastardly Americans, who have volunteered to 'help' host the games - everyone else in the country struggles along with the strict food rationing, a housing shortage and poverty. Sound familiar? 'Coopers, the outfitters, have agreed to supply every British competitor with a free pair of Y-fronts,' announces Burghley in triumph. 'They'll wear shorts as well?' asks Attlee, raising an alarmed eyebrow. The period detail was very good, Bert and Dickie getting their loved ones to make their own shorts because the budget didn't stretch beyond supplying Y-fronts and the blue and red ribbon and a badge to go around a white vest that the athletes had, also, to find for themselves. Matt and Sam looked really rather convincing as post-war athletes, Smith's pale frame a world away from the buffed supermen who'll sweat for glory these next two weeks. When Bert's Scottish girlfriend is watching him row on the one TV set in the village, the policeman holding the crowds back announces that her fiance is 'the one that looks like Harold Lloyd!' Over ninety minutes, as Ivory's script slowly built to its inevitable moment of glory, the pair discover they have one very important thing in common – a desire to make their fathers (played by the great Geoffrey Palmer and Douglas Hodge) proud of them. Bert's old man is a frustrated athlete who drives his son mercilessly because he had to give up his own Olympic dreams when he could no longer afford to retain amateur status. Dickie's father (played beautifully by Palmer), represents the old guard, showing up at regular intervals to remind his son that rowing is a gentleman's sport and to tut-tut at Dickie's training regimen or accuse him of 'showboating' when he and Bert win one race by what he deems to be an excessive margin. But, the difficulties of staging The Austerity Games so soon after the war provides an even more rousing tale of triumph in the face of adversity. With rationing still in force, the catering options couldn't be more different from those on offer in the 2012 Olympic village. We hear of weightlifters passing out because the only protein they're getting is one egg a week. And another star rower from America, who's been billeted with the local rowing club, is presented with the rare feast of a magnificent Barnsley chop. His hosts – led by Ron Cook and Steve Pemberton – must pretend they've already eaten theirs and try not to drool as they watch him tuck in. (Amusing side-point, the American rower in question, John B Kelly was, again, a real-life figure who befriended Bert and Dickie during the games. He was Grace Kelly's brother and, subsequently, enjoyed his own moment of Olympic glory eight years later in Melbourne winning a bronze.) The rowers' diets had been increased from the normal two thousand five hundred calories allowed by rationing to a 'miner's diet' of three thousand sixty hundred calories. However, some of the other teams were having food flown in specially in order to increase their calorie intake and allow them to train more. Bushnell would invite Kelly and the Australian Merv Wood over for dinner, with his guests bringing the food, a scene depicted in the drama which seemed almost too corny for Hollywood but, a version of which, really happened. Based, at least in part, on Janie Hampton's excellent book The Austerity Olympics: When the Games Came to London in 1948, Bert & Dickie (shown in the US under the horribly obvious title Going For Gold) could, in lesser hands, have been woefully predictable and one-dimensional. Instead, thanks to a quality cast and a good writer, it more than satisfied as a palate cleanser for the real thing.

David Bradley has revealed new details about his role on Doctor Who. The actor will appear in the popular family SF drama's seventh series, as first announced in February. 'He is a space pirate,' Bradley told the Warwick University podcast of his character Solomon. 'We've modelled [him] on a well-known nightclub owner with long hair. He has lots of scars [and] he wears black leather.' Bradley - who has appeared on Game of Thrones, Ideal and Our Friends in the North along with the Harry Potter movies and Hot Fuzz - went on to describe Solomon as 'like an old rocker. He runs a ship the size of Canada,' said the seventy-year-old. 'He has two giant robots who are a bit rusty.' Other guest stars confirmed for the next series of Doctor Who include Dame Diana Rigg, her daughter Rachael Stirling, Liam Cunningham, David Warner, Jessica Raine, Mark Williams, Rupert Graves and Ben Browder.

BBC2's crime drama Line of Duty will return for a second series after it finished with more than three million viewers, making it the channel's biggest new drama for seven years. The police thriller starred Martin Compston and Vicky McClure on the trail of Lennie James's tortured anti-hero, Tony Gates, with a supporting cast including Adrian Dunbar, Gina McKee and Neil Morrissey. The acclaimed Jed Mercurio series average overnight audience of 3.2 million viewers across its five-part run, BBC2's most popular drama launch since Rome in 2005. Janice Hadlow, controller of the channel, said: 'I'm so pleased to have this brilliantly realised thriller on BBC2; it is a wonderful addition to the channel's rich landscape of drama. With fantastic writing from Jed Mercurio, great characterisation, tightly plotted detail and riveting performances from a stand out cast, I'm thrilled that this complex, contemporary drama has captured the imagination of such a loyal and appreciative audience.' Ben Stephenson, BBC Drama controller, added: 'Jed Mercurio and World Productions have realised a brilliant series for BBC2 with Line of Duty that encapsulates my vision for bold, authored and utterly original drama on the channel.' BBC2 used the final episode to launch their latest a marketing campaign for 'original British drama' with a trailer that included clips from the sequel to The Hour, Benedict Cumberbatch in Parade's End, Gillian Anderson in The Fall and the much-anticipated Alfred Hitchcock biopic, The Girl.

Joanna Page has attacked ITV's risible Andrew Lloyd Webber-fronted fiasco and flop Superstar, calling the series 'disgusting.' Which is fair enough although the notion of anyone involved in Gavin & Stacey having the cheek to criticise anything as 'disgusting' is, frankly, a pot-kettle-black type situation. Page claimed that the show 'undermines professional performers' who have worked in the industry for many years. Talking to The Stage, the thirty four-year-old actress said: 'There are actors and musical theatre performers who have given their whole lives to the profession because it is their passion, and then you have some bloody van driver on a show [like Superstar] saying "I didn't do this when I was twelve but I wish I had done, but I didn't have the guts." Well, that's your problem, because you obviously didn't have the passion, spirit, drive and the determination to dedicate your whole life to it.' Oooo, get her. She added: 'I am finding myself really happy now that they are left with people who aren't suitable. There is no-one with the charisma, the authority, the stature or the maturity to play Jesus.' Page also took umbrage with the way the gnomish Lord Webber apparently neglected performers who have worked for him in the past, saying: 'Think about Ramin [Karimloo]. He was in a rock band and he is amazing. He would even look like Jesus. But you have Andrew Lloyd Webber saying about a U2 song Rory [Taylor] sang - which was performed with no facial expression because he's dead in the eyes - that he did not know any musical theatre star who could sing like that. What about Ramin? He just played The Phantom for you. How insulting. It's disgusting.' So, not a fan, then? The Welsh actress also spoke of her issues with the celebrity casting in the final production - 'Mel C is judging who will be Jesus, but how can she then have a working relationship with whoever wins?' - and the depiction of the audition process - 'How am I going to believe in the Jesus I am watching when I have seen him in some video with his mum and dad, with his mum showing us baby photos and the contestant messing around with his niece? I could not give a shit if he loves his niece. I just want to see Jesus.'

Meanwhile, some good news for angry Joanna - and, indeed, for anyone else who enjoys a right good laugh - is that risible Andrew Lloyd Webber-fronted fiasco and flop Superstar episode drew just 2.5 million viewers on ITV on Tuesday night, according to overnight data. The episode was watched by a piss-poor audience of 2.58m from 9pm. Love Your Garden preceded it with 3.16m. BBC1's Turn Back Time: The Family grabbed 3.11m (14%) in the 9pm hour. On BBC2, 8pm's The Hairy Bikers: Mums Know Best took 1.42m and 9pm's Line of Duty wrapped up for the series with 3.06m (3.3m including HD viewers). CSI continued strongly for Channel Five with 1.83m. Overall, BBC1 dominated primetime with 20.6 per cent of the audience share ahead of ITV's 15.2 per cent. On Wednesday night Superstar drew a series high for its final. The Jesus Christ Superstar talent search, which began with 3.1 million viewers on July 7, concluded with 3.17m on ITV. The odious Lloyd Webber format fell below three million punters for the majority of its live shows, suggesting that ITV may not commission a similar programme in the future, especially as it reportedly cost them an arm and a leg to get His Very Knobship on board. Bert & Dickie, won its ninety-minute slot for BBC1 with an average audience of 3.17m from 8.30pm.

Jonny Lee Miller has admitted that it felt 'strange' discussing his Elementary role with his friend yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch, of course, plays a contemporary Sherlock Holmes in BBC series Sherlock, while Miller will play a similar role in new CBS drama. 'I wanted to assure him that it was a different enough project,' Miller told reporters. 'He was excited for me and he was very encouraging and we discussed it.' Miller - who will star opposite Lucy Liu in Elementary - described Holmes as 'a wonderful character to play. [Benedict] wanted to pass a lot of that on,' he explained. 'We discussed that for a bit, yeah. It's a strange one.' At this year's San Diego Comic-Con, Miller insisted that Cumberbatch is 'very supportive' of Elementary.

Richard E Grant has joined the cast of Channel Four drama The Fear. The Withnail & I actor will star opposite Peter Mullan in the upcoming crime drama. Mullan will play an ex-crime boss from Brighton in the four-part series. His character Richie Becket's business, run by his two sons, has to deal with a rival gang of Albanians. Grant will play a plastic surgeon named Seb, whose seedy past gets him involved with the crime boss. Richie Becket's sons will be played by EastEnders' Paul Nicholls and Great Expectations and Robin Hood actor Harry Lloyd. Wallander's Richard Cottan has written the four hour-long episodes. Sounds terrific. Filming has already started in Brighton, while the series is expected to be broadcast as part of Channel Four's winter drama line-up.

Charlotte Church has won an apology and damages from the People, after the scum Sunday tabloid published entirely false claims that she had proposed to her boyfriend while drunk. Mike Brookes, the lawyer for Church, told the High Court in London that the singer had endured 'distress and embarrassment' because of the story. Headlined Marryoke - Charlotte proposes after pub karaoke session - which should have been the alleged newspaper prosecuted for abuses against the English language, let alone anything else - and published on 6 November of last year, the story alleged that Church had proposed to her boyfriend, Jonathan Powell, on a 'boozy pub karaoke night' in Cardiff. The piece falsely claimed that Church 'celebrated into the early hours' and later had to be 'helped' into a taxi by friends. Mirra Group Newspapers, publisher of the People, has already accepted that the story was 'completely untrue and should not have been published.' The People published an apology to Church last year, which said: 'On 6 November 2011, we said Charlotte Church had proposed marriage to Jonathan Powell at a boozy karaoke night at the Robin Hood pub in Cardiff. We were misinformed. On the night in question Ms Church and Mr Powell were performing a gig at studios in Pentyrch, Cardiff and Ms Church did not propose that night or at all. We are happy to set the record straight and we apologise for our mistake.' However, the singer opted to pursue legal action over the damage to her reputation that the article had caused. After the verdict Mirra Group Newspapers again grovelling apologised to Church and agreed to pay her - substantial - legal damages along with all her legal fees, as well as promising not to repeat the allegations. The exact amount of damages to be paid to Church has not been disclosed. She was not in court to hear the verdict. Brookes, of the solicitors firm Lee & Thompson, told reporters: 'For the avoidance of doubt, Charlotte was not publicly or otherwise drunk at the event, did not require any help into her car, did not order a bottle of champagne each for herself and Jonathan, and did not propose to him. Charlotte brought this claim because the defamatory allegation that she had made a drunken spectacle of herself whilst making a proposal of marriage hurt her and caused her distress and embarrassment with her friends and family, not least which included Jonathan.' In February, Church and her parents agreed damages and costs amounting to six hundred thousand smackers with billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers over the hacking of their phones by the now disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World. Speaking at the Leveson Inquiry shortly after the People article was published last November, Church discussed the negative attention and harassment she has endured since finding fame as a child star. 'I feel strangely strong because I've survived it all and I don't know how because at times it really messes with your mind,' she told the inquiry into press ethics and standards. 'In a way I think it's made me stronger but professionally because I've been made a caricature for so long and that really isn't me, the person I am or the way I live my life. I think that has had a massive impact on my career. As an artist and a singer, I find it really hard to get taken seriously as my credibility has been blown to bits by this publicity.'

A Daily Scum Mail apology is as rare as hen's teeth, one directed towards the BBC doubly so. Thus, when Lord Justice Leveson comes to making his recommendations on the prominence of apologies in newspapers, he should perhaps refer to page two of Thursday's Scum Mail for the Clarifications & Corrections column. But before that Leveson might want to check Monday's front page splash: BBC Tells Stars to Dodge Tax (a story which has now, mysteriously, been removed from the web). If in any doubt, the sub-headline read Staff face the ultimatum: Go off the books, or face the sack. Only one problem, it's not true. Not even a little bit. As any law-abiding taxpayer knows, it is a criminal offence to dodge tax. So no wonder the BBC finance boss Zarin Patel was incensed. She extracted this - mealy-mouthed and rather limp - apology out of the Scum Mail: 'While it is true that the BBC have asked hundreds of workers to set up personal service companies, we accept that neither the BBC, nor its chief financial officer, Zarin Patel, have told members of its payroll (or freelancers) to avoid or evade tax and [we] apologise to them for any such suggestion.'

Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks has launched an attack on the police chief in charge of the investigations into allegations of wrongdoing at the Sun and the Scum of the World. The former chief executive of News International said the Leveson inquiry testimony of Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers in February involved 'unsubstantiated allegations' and led to 'highly damaging press reporting' in relation to Scotland Yard's ongoing investigations into phone-hacking, corruption of public officials and computer hacking. A tip, Rebekah, m'love. When you're in a hole it's, generally, a good idea to stop digging. In a closing witness statement to the Leveson inquiry, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks also criticised the testimonies of three other witnesses; Brian Paddick, a former Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner, and former police officer and Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames. She has also criticised former Scum of the World colleague Paul McMullan. Brooks invited the inquiry to conclude that these three witnesses either made assertions 'for which there is little or no evidence, gave evidence as to matters which are yet to be tested in court, or appeared to be using the inquiry to settle old scores.' She said that she had 'no opportunity' to deal with the issues at the time because she had not been granted core participant status at the inquiry, which allowed advance sight of witness statements and the opportunity to have statements redacted or publicly challenged by counsel to the inquiry. The former News International executive urged Lord Justice Leveson not to repeat such allegations made by these witnesses in his final report. Brooks's statement was published the day after she learned that she is facing charges over phone-hacking in addition to the charges of perverting the course of justice announced in May. She denies all the charges. She went on to say that Akers's evidence 'went well beyond the proper requirements of the inquiry. It was, in particular, untempered by caution of the care that should have been given in making accusations against those who might have explanations or defences, or where, as may often happen in criminal proceedings, the evidence is insufficient to prove the suspicion, or is inadmissable.' Brooks said Akers had delivered a view of the ongoing investigation 'as if it was fact' and when 'highly identifiable and high-profile suspects were the subject of active proceedings.' The former editor of the Sun also returned to the circumstances surrounding the revelations about Gordon Brown's son's cystic fibrosis. Brooks had told the inquiry when she testified that the newspaper ran a story in 2006 with the express permission of the Browns. But Brown, when he appeared at the inquiry, claimed that was untrue. In her witness statement, Brooks said News International had information which it 'could not divulge' to Brown and therefore the former prime minister had 'reached a conclusion on the basis of less than the full picture, against a background of a plain grievance against News International because of the way that he perceives he was treated in connection with the 2010 general election.'

Meanwhile, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks's successor as the Sun's editor has responded to the Football Association's criticism of their Roy Hodgson headline earlier this year. The tabloid received numerous complaints after they made fun of the England manager's inability to pronounce his 'R's on its front page in May. FA chairman David Bernstein later described the newspaper's front page as 'disrespectful' and 'in poor taste.' Odious louse Dominic Mohan described the FA's criticisms as 'perverse' and 'ill-considered' after he was asked by the Leveson Inquiry to explain the decision behind the headline. 'It is entirely right that the Sun, the country's most popular tabloid newspaper, should be able to converse with its readers in the colloquial language they adopt themselves and use wordplay around the nicknames they have themselves invented,' this disgraceful scumbag stated. 'This is one of the important ways in which a tabloid newspaper builds a rapport with its readers,' Mohan wrote. So, there you go, Sun readers, it's all your fault for being ill-educated glakes, apparently. Dominic Mohan says so, so it must be true. 'The FA is entitled to its opinion, but I regard their criticism that the headline was "in poor taste and disrespectful" as an ill-considered response, something I told the FA myself at the time of their complaint.' Mohan did however 'regret' the Sun describing Hodgson as having a speech impediment. 'On reflection, I do not regard someone's inability to roll their 'Rs' as a speech impediment,' he conceded. 'Rather it is a simply a distinguishing feature of their speech.'

Sir Paul McCartney has reportedly criticised the decision to leave David Beckham out of the Team GB Olympics football squad. Although, what the hell it has to do with him is another thing entirely. Stuart Pearce, meanwhile, has told Macca to mind his own ruddy business until he starts making some decent records again. Allegedly.

Paddy Power has won its battle against Olympic organisers after they threatened to seek a court order to stop an ambush advertising poster campaign that aims to cash in on the London 2012 Games. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games ordered the campaign be taken down for breaching strict rules on ambush marketing of the event by brands that are not official sponsors. Paddy Power's advert proclaims that the Irish bookmaker is the 'Official sponsor of the largest athletics event in London this year!' They then go on to reveal that the sponsorship is of an egg and spoon race to be held in the town of London in France. The Irish bookmaker called in London law firm Charles Russell to defend the campaign, threatening to seek an order at the high court to stop LOCOG-making billboard firm JCDecaux removing the adverts. LOCOG's law firm, Freshfields, have informed Paddy Power that a decision has been taken to 'let the campaign continue to run.' Which is big of them since, clearly, the only reason they're doing that is the don't have the power to stop it. The billboards are situated at sites near the Olympic venue and stations such as London Bridge.

Jon Stewart has signed a contract to keep The Daily Show on the air until the middle of 2015. He extended his deal with America's Comedy Central channel along with fellow late-night host Stephen Colbert, who has signed through to the end of 2014. Both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are enjoying rising ratings, with Stewart's show more popular with the key eighteen-forty nine age group than any late-night talk-show, the broadcaster said.

Virgin Media's advertising campaign featuring superstar sprinter Usain Bolt - which was actually quite funny - has been censured by the UK advertising watchdog after it upheld a complaint from BT over claims about Internet buffering. The adverts, which ran in January, featured the Jamaican athlete Bolt mimicking Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson. Sitting behind a desk he said: 'Hi, I'm Richard Branson and I want everyone to say bye-bye to buffering and hello to a superfast broadband.' A voiceover then stated: 'Right now with Virgin Media you could enjoy up to thirty MG fibre optic broadband and calls free for the first three months and, with broadband that's four times faster than the UK average, everyone at home could be online at the same time.' However, rival Internet service provider BT challenged whether the claim 'say bye-bye to buffering' was allowable, as it may have 'misleadingly implied' that Virgin Media broadband customers would not experience buffering, whereas BT 'understood that was not the case.' So, like a dirty rotten Copper's Nark snitch, they went and grassed them up good and proper. Virgin Media accepted that there were 'numerous cases of buffering' on its network, but claimed that some of these were outside of its control. The cable operator said that the claim made by Bolt about buffering was 'puffery', and the sprinter, assuming the character of Branson, was merely 'expressing a wish that he would like everyone to be able to say bye-bye to buffering and not claiming that they actually would.' Virgin claimed that buffering on its up-to-thirty Mbps broadband service was 'less discernible', but also noted that the adverts were no longer running - unlike Bolt who, of course, soon will be - and would not be aired again. In a ruling, the Advertising Standards Authority - a memorably dodgy bunch of hypocritical gangsters who will be first up against the wall come the revolution - said that the statement 'I want everyone to say bye-bye to buffering and hello to a superfast broadband' would 'be interpreted by viewers as an objective claim that, by choosing the up-to-thirty Mb broadband service from Virgin, they would no longer experience buffering.' or, more likely, they'd be interpreted by viewers as Richard Branson trying to sell more of his tat to gullible glakes. Whatever. As the ASA noted that some users of the service might still experience buffering, it concluded that the claim was 'misleading.' Virgin was told by the watchdog that it must not 'state or imply that users of their broadband service would not experience buffering' in any future advertising campaign. In April, Virgin Media agreed to drop a different television advert featuring yer actual David Tennant after a complaint from the BBC that the Doctor Who brand was being used to promote the TiVo set-top-box service.

EastEnders fans will miss their favourite show on BBC1 during the Olympics – it's moving over to BBC2. They are in for a bumper helping of the soap when the London games packs up with no fewer than seven episodes in a single week. Trebles all round in the Queen Vic. Not only that, but Shazza Watts (Letitia Dean) is back. The Olympics is likely to guarantee bumper ratings for BBC1, but it remains to be seen what will happen to EastEnders when it goes to BBC2. Seven episodes in seven days should help return its audience to pre-games levels, however, and serve as a useful reminder for viewers who forgot it was on. BBC1 controller Danny Cohen said: 'Following the Olympics on BBC1, viewers can look forward to more TV gold on the channel.'

ESPN has secured rights to broadcast top-flight club football from France next season, and also renewed its agreements to the Italian Serie A, Dutch Eredivisie and Russian Premier League. The new deals follow an announcement earlier this week about a three-year extension to ESPN's Bundesliga rights, and come as the broadcaster plans for the future after losing out on a new Premier League deal to BT. ESPN is clearly positioning itself as the home of European club football, with France's Ligue 1 coming to the broadcaster for the first time. In the coming season, Montpellier will attempt to defend their title from the wealthy Paris Saint-Germain, who have recently added Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovich to their ranks. Serie A has been shown on ESPN since the broadcaster launched its UK channel in 2009, and it will remain so under a renewed deal. Agreements to Dutch and Russian top-flight club football have also been renewed. 'The addition of France's Ligue 1 and the renewal of Serie A, Dutch Eredivisie and Russian Premier League means ESPN is the home to the very best domestic league football from across Europe,' said Jeroen Oerlemans, the vice president of TV Channels, ESPN EMEA. Well, except the Premier League, of course. And, the Spanish La Liga either, both of which Sky has the rights to. So, that's basically, 'the very best of domestic league football from across Europe ... except for the actual best two leagues in Europe,' then? Just so we're being, you know, properly accurate, here. 'Our portfolio of live football on ESPN is combined with our growing range of sport, which includes rugby, cricket, darts, motorsport, UFC, boxing and more.' Darts? You're including darts as a sport? Yeah, okay. ESPN has been hoovering up new football rights deals after it lost out in the multi-billion pound television auction for Premier League games to new rival BT.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved, though unsellable, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew says Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws 'must accept' a significant loss if they are to sell Andy Carroll. Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws reportedly turned down an initial bid by Newcastle to take the twenty three-year-old target man, whom they sold to the Reds for thirty five million smackers in January 2011, back to Tyneside on loan. But Pardew told BBC Newcastle: '[Reading chairman] John Madejski used to say to me about certain players, "just wipe your nose and move on." I think [Liverpool] are going to have to do that with Andy.' New Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is said to be willing to accept offers of around twenty million notes for the England striker. And Pardew, who became Newcastle manager the month before Carroll's departure, believes that the striker was destined to leave Merseyside once Rodgers took over at Anfield. 'I think it was obvious that as soon as Brendan went into Liverpool that Andy's time was going to have to be somewhere else,' said Pardew. 'I think it's quite right we're involved in that. Whether he comes here, is something that I will take or I will leave. It's a lot of money for Mike [Ashley, Newcastle owner], although we'll obviously be getting a big upside in terms of what we sold him for and we've got three great strikers here already. But of course as the manager I want the best players I can get.' Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws have already signed Italian forward Fabio Borini this summer and Pardew believes that any money generated from a potential deal for Carroll can still be used wisely by the new Reds manager. 'Whether it's fifteen, sixteen or twenty million, if [Rodgers] uses that money and gets an uplift in the player that he brings in that's okay,' he added. 'And that's how you've got to look at it.'

And now, here's something that's sure to put a smile on the face of an entire nation - an Internet clip of rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Michael Gove falling over complete with comedy sound effects. Ah, I feel better already.

Some very sad news now. Doctor Who star Mary Tamm, who played Romana alongside Tom Baker, has died aged just sixty two. The actress, who was born in Dewsbury in 1950, fought a long battle with cancer and died in hospital in London. Her agent, Barry Langford, said that she had 'a zest for life.' Mary's stage and screen career also included films The Odessa File and The Likely Lads, as well as recurring roles in Coronation Street, EastEnders and Brookside. 'She was a fantastic actress,' said Langford, who was her agent for twenty two years. 'She played stage parts of such range, parts that would take your breath away. She could play any role, and do so wonderfully.' Mary, who lived in London, had been suffering from cancer for eighteen months. She trained at RADA where she was a contemporary of Robin Sachs and after starting out at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, alongside Derek Jacobi, Joan Sims and Ronnie Barker, she then moved on to television work and film. Her first feature was Freddie Francis's Tales That Witness Madness (1971) with Kim Novak. More recently, she'd starred in Wire in the Blood, Paradise Heights and Jonathan Creek. She played Sigi in The Odessa File, Terry Collier's Finnish girlfriend Christina in The Likely Lads, Stan and Hilda Ogden's daughter-in-law Polly in Coronation Street, Portia Loomis in Headless, Penny Crosbie in Brookside, Jennifer Reynoldston in The Hello Goodbye Man, and, of course, Romana in twenty six episodes of Doctor Who (1978-79). Her CV also includes Melody's Her Second Name, Sorted, The Assassination Run, The Bill, Agatha Christie's Poirot, Heartbeat, Crime Traveller (but hey, we'll just have to try to find it in our hearts to forgive her for that one), a memorable appearance in Not The Nine O'Clock News in a Question Time sketch ('time for a quick one, Francis!') and Only When I Laugh. The first volume of her autobiography First Generation was published in 2009. Mary's stage work included the role of Amanda in Private Lives and Beverley in Abigail's Party. She leaves behind her husband, Marcus Ringrose, daughter Lauren and seven-year-old grandson Max. From The North sends its sincere condolences to them and to her many friends and fans in the industry. Her agent revealed that Tamm had been greatly saddened by the recent deaths of contemporaries Elisabeth Sladen and Angharad Rees, who died last weekend. He said: 'All of these people who she knew were going.' On a personal note, yer actual Keith Telly Topping once spent a very surreal four days with Mary (and, some other people, obviously) on a cruise going from Los Angeles to Mexico. I dedicated my book A Vault of Horror to her for all of the help she gave me over background stories about Tales That Witness Madness and her quite encyclopaedic-like memory for the various parts she'd played. A class act, that lady. Funny, too. She will be greatly missed.

So, anyway from the sublime Mary Tamm to the utterly ridiculous. The Olympic Games had been going for a grand total of two hours, the opening ceremony hasn't even taken place yet and, already, some glake has managed to screw up and cause an near international incident. Well done us. The North Korean women's football team walked off the pitch at their opening Olympic match in Glasgow after their images were shown on a screen beside a South Korean flag. You know, the country they've been at war with for the best part of seventy years. It's just about the single most ideologically offensive thing one can possibly do to disrespect a North Korean. Other than, perhaps, state that The Dear Leader Kim Jong-il was a nasty little shortarsed megalomaniac with, almost certainly, a very small penis. And, let's face it, not even G4S would be crass enough to do that. Not if they didn't want a thermonuclear device to come crashing down on their gaff, anyway. The kick-off (the football match, this is, not the war which might start because of it) was scheduled for 19:45 but the game started over an hour late after this display of rank Korean stroppiness. North Korea subsequently beat Colombia 2-0 (who were probably too snowflaked off their collective boat to notice) in the second of the Olympic matches held at Hampden Park on Wednesday. Games organisers in London have grovellingly apologised to North Korean officials for the mistake. The 'error' occurred when a video package was being shown ahead of kick-off, with the North Koreans noticing that their faces were being pictured alongside the South Korean flag. The squad walked off and could only be persuaded to return when the teams were announced again with each player's face displayed next to the North Korean flag. The BBC's sports editor David Bond said it was 'an embarrassing mistake' and not the start games organisers would have wanted on the first day of sporting action, but 'no great harm was done.' Well, except for the fact that the North Koreans have got a massive chimney on and, if there's one country you don't want to piss off unnecessarily, it's one with nuclear capability and a new dictator with daddy issues in the hot seat. Relations between the two Koreas are, of course, tense - which is a bit like saying Rangers and Celtic don't like each other very much. They remain technically at war following the 1950-53 Korean conflict which ended in an armistice. (North and South Korea, this is, not Rangers and Celtic. Although, actually, thinking about it...) Speaking after the match, North Korea's coach Sin Ui Gun said: 'Our team was not going to participate unless the problem was solved properly. Unfortunately it took some time later for the broadcast to be done again properly and we made the decision to go on with the match.' He added: 'Our players cannot be shown especially with other flags, especially the South Korean one. If this matter had not been solved, continuing would have been a nonsense.' A statement released by London 2012 organisers said: 'Today ahead of the women's football match at Hampden Park, the South Korean flag was shown on a big screen video package instead of the North Korean flag. Clearly that is a mistake, we will apologise to the team and the National Olympic Committee and steps will be taken to ensure this does not happen again.' It was not immediately clear who had produced the video which was shown in the stadium. But, whoever it was, one assumes they'll be getting lined-up for a good hard kick in the knackers off Lord Coe this very morning. London 2012 spokesman Andy Mitchell said: 'The South Korean flag was shown in the video package on the screen before the kick-off and the North Koreans were naturally very upset about that. We have made a full apology to the team and the North Korean NOC. A genuine mistake was made for which we apologise.' South Korea will face North Korea in the first round of the men's Olympic table tennis team event after the pair were drawn against each other on Wednesday. That'll be fun and games, no doubt. The first event of the Olympics got under way at four o'clock at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Wednesday and ended in a win for Britain's women's football team over New Zealand. Two matches also took place at the City of Coventry stadium.

And so, on that international incident bombshell, it's time for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day, and some sound advice for Simple Minds (when they used to be a good band).

No comments: