Saturday, July 28, 2012

Now War Is Declared, And Battle Come Down

The Queen has declared the 2012 London Olympics officially open, before seven young athletes were given the honour of lighting the ceremonial flame. The show featured British celebrities and sportspeople, including David Beckham and Bradley Wiggins, and screen characters Mr Bean (Rowan Atkinson) and James Bond (yer actual Daniel Craig). In a speech watched around the world, games chief Jacques Rogge said: 'The Olympic Games are coming home tonight.' Then Sir Paul McCartney ended proceedings with a fifty seven minute version of 'Hey Jude.' The BBC's coverage of the event reached an estimated worldwide audience of over one billion people. Or, roughly,  one seventh of the entire population of the planet. Though, most of those had probably gone to bed by the time Sir Paul and his band were into the two hundred and nineteenth chorus of 'Nah's! Flag-bearer Sir Chris Hoy his very self had earlier led out the British team. The identity of whom had been chosen to light the symbolic flame was shrouded in secrecy ahead of the ceremony. The group of seven, picked by previous British Olympic champions, each lit a single tiny flame on the ground, igniting two hundred and five copper petals, one for each competing nation or territory. Long stems then rose towards each other to form a cauldron, signifying unity. The flame made a dramatic arrival via the Thames on a speedboat carrying Beckham, who handed the torch to Sir Steve Redgrave. The show, billed as 'a quirky take on UK life,' started with iconic images of London - and Britain generally - beamed to the world, and all four countries of the UK being represented in song. The field at the stadium in Stratford, was turned into a green meadow, with sheep, horses, chickens, ducks and geese among the cast. The show took the watching world through 'great revolutions in British society,' from an agricultural setting through to the Industrial Revolution. Sir Kenneth Branagh, dressed as yer actual Isambard Kingdom Brunel, recited Caliban's speech from Shakespeare's The Tempest ('be not a'feared, the Isle is full of noises. Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not') as Danny Boyle's spectacular Isles of Wonder carnival was unveiled. Steelworkers began forging material that transformed into golden Olympic rings, which appeared to float into the air to be suspended above the performers. There were cheers too as the crowd saw a film featuring an unlikely meeting between the Queen and James Bond. 'Good evening Mr Bond,' the Queen said in the short film - Happy & Glorious - made specially by the BBC, before they left together, apparently heading towards the Olympic Stadium in a helicopter. The aircraft then flew over the stadium as two figures parachuted down, one dressed as the monarch. As if by magic, the Queen appeared in the stands - part of a crowd of about eighty thousand punters. The difference being, of course, most of those had paid an arm and a leg for their tickets whilst Her Maj was there on a freebie. Bond (played, impeccably, as always by Danny Craig his very self) was not the only much-loved British character to take part. Mr Bean (yer actual Rowan Atkinson) prompted laughter when he appeared as part of the orchestra playing the Chariots of Fire theme. A segment celebrating the British film industry. playing a song written by a Greek. Yeah, I thought it was amusing as well. The ceremony also celebrated the National Health Service by featuring a cast of more than one thousand volunteers recruited from hospitals across the country, including Great Ormond Street children's hospital in London. All the action was played out to a soundtrack of some of Britain's most iconic bands - including The Clash, The Rolling Stones, The Jam, The Who, The Sex Pistols and David Bowie - with Sir Paul McCartney performing live at the show's close. Eventually. The athletes taking part in the Games - led by Greece, the Olympics' spiritual home - made laps of the stadium bearing their nations' flags. A Red Arrows fly-past marked the start of the pre-show at the symbolic time of 20:12. Bradley Wiggins, wearing his Tour De France yellow jersey, rang the world's largest harmonically-tuned bell to launch the opening ceremony. As the Isles of Wonder show began, artistic director Danny Boyle pledged a ceremony with a theme of 'this is for everyone.' And, it certainly seems to have gone down well with the majority of those who've expressed an opinion (although, as ever, there are a few sour-faced malcontent lice who prove to be exceptions to the rule - see below). The Oscar-winning film director later tweeted: 'Thank you, everyone, for your kind words! Means the world to me.' Earlier, crowds of people, many of them dressed in their nation's colours, streamed into the Olympic Park for the show. The day of celebration began at 8.12am with a mass bell clanging. Big Ben rang for three minutes for the first time since King George VI's funeral in 1952.
A glance at the recent history books suggests two things about the BBC's coverage of the Olympics. First, that at least one aspect of its output will be controversial to somebody. Usually, somebody with an agenda - indeed, see below - whether it is allegedly 'inappropriate' presenters, allegedly 'inadequate' highlights, or a pair of shorts that are, allegedly, 'too short.' Second, in ratings terms the BBC's Olympics programming will do to other broadcasters what Usain Bolt tends to do to the other competitors in the one hundred metres. This year's games are likely to be no different, with two thousand five hundred hours of coverage across its various channels (including twenty four dedicated Olympics services) and the corporation's usual critics lined-up to seize anything as inappropriate as an 2012-themed sickbag. (To be fair, the only slight hint of scourge of the bullies, thin-skinned Fearne Cotton being allowed within a thousand miles of the BBC's Olympic opening night was her very brief appearance in that trailer which uses The Beatles' 'All Together Now' to suggest the concept of family viewing. Other than that, it was - mercifully - a Cotton-free zone.) The London games, it can be reasonably assumed, will be the most popular ever with UK viewers, with BBC schedulers unhindered by the time difference that meant in 2008 (Beijing) and 2000 (Sydney) the biggest events were often happening when many potential viewers were tucked up in in bed. The BBC's biggest live audience in 2008 was the closing ceremony, which had a peak overnight audience of 6.8 million viewers, marginally fewer than the most popular highlights programme, which peaked with seven million. In 2000, when the time difference with Australia was even more unhelpful, it didn't stop nearly seven million people – a seventy five per cent share of the available viewing audience – staying up until the early hours of the morning to watch Steve Redgrave win his fifth Olympic gold medal in the coxless fours. No jokes, please. The evening highlights programme for the Sydney Olympics had an average audience of five million viewers, boosting BBC1 and BBC2's peaktime share by twenty per cent, with audiences up a third on Atlanta four years earlier. The Athens Olympics in 2004, with only a two-hour time difference, may offer the most illuminating comparisons. Paula Radcliffe's early exit from the women's ten thousand metres was watched by a peak of 12.8 million viewers, a fifty seven per cent audience share, at 8pm on a Friday night, ahead of the 11.7 million people who watched the four by four hundred metres men's relay final and the ten million viewers who saw Kelly Holmes' historic second gold in the women's fifteen hundred metres at 6.45pm on a Saturday night. Amir Khan's silver medal win at the same Games peaked with 7.9 million viewers between 12.45pm and 1pm on a Sunday lunchtime. This combined to give BBC1 its best monthly ratings since March the previous year, when it showed continuous news coverage of the Iraq war. But what of the complaints? Well, they're usually predictably tedious (and, indeed, tediously predictable). Four years ago the BBC was accused - by some Daily Scum Mail reading louse of no importance - of not showing enough evening highlights of the spectacular Beijing opening ceremony, and hastily scheduled an extended two-hour retrospective as a result. When it came to Sharron Davies's shorts, it was a case of showing too much, not too little, according to one agenda-driven shit-scum critic who, perhaps, should have had something more important to do with his or her time. But, predictably, didn't. In Athens it came under fire for the choice of some its presenters, accused of putting looks before sporting knowledge. Craig Doyle, presenter of BBC1's Holiday among many other things, came in for particular flak, Labour MP Chris Bryant asking: 'Why Craig Doyle? Is this just because he is the best-looking man the BBC could come up with?' Wind the clock back to 2000 and you'll find criticism (almost four hundred glakes with, definitely, nothing better to do with their time) over the amount of staff and resources the BBC sent to Sydney to cover the games, almost as much as an Olympic tradition as a Steve Redgrave gold. All eyes will be on the overnights for Danny Boyle's twenty seven million quid opening ceremony. The Olympics curtain-raiser was watched by 3.2 million viewers (with a peak of four million) in 2008, 8.6 million (a 10.2 million peak) in 2004 and five million viewers (5.9 million peak) four years ago. However, BBC executives will also probably be hoping to match – or exceed – the ratings for a more recent major event, the Diamond Jubilee Concert, which is the second most-watched TV show of the year to date, after England's Euro 2012 defeat by Italy.

Speaking of the BBC, it was nice to see them making plenty of use of The Clash's 'London Calling' during the lead-up to the opening ceremony in news programmes and the like. But, err ... you do realise that it's actually about the aftermath of a nuclear meltdown disaster, don't you guys? Come to mention it, in the Opening Ceremony itself they used at least three songs about, if you will, nuclear terrors and nuclear errors ('London Calling', 'Enola Gay', and 'Going Underground'). Anyone think Danny Boyle was trying to tell us something about North Korea's likely reaction to that flag incident at the football the other night?
The BBC will, as mentioned, broadcast two thousand five hundred hours of live Olympics footage across the sixteen days of the London games – but its commercial rivals will be limited to just six minutes coverage a day. News access rules laid down by the International Olympic Committee strictly prescribe how much Olympics action can be used by non-rights holders such as ITV and Sky in their news programmes. Restrictions on the footage that can be broadcast from the Olympic Park and associated Olympic venues include, for example, prohibiting radio broadcasters from using mobile telephone interviews with athletes and team officials from the Olympic Park. Non-rights holders are allowed to use a maximum of six minutes of Olympic video material a day. Rules also prescribe what proportion of each event they can screen, and how much time has to elapse between bulletins before they can show more sporting action. Olympic footage can appear in no more than three news programmes a day, according to IOC rules, with no more than two minutes of Olympic material in any one bulletin. The programmes must be at least three hours apart. The rules also deem that no more than one third of any individual event may be used in any one news programme. Fans of Usain Bolt who fear they may not be able to rewatch the whole of the one hundred metres final can rest easy, however - an individual Olympic event which lasts less than fifteen seconds can be shown in its entirety. The rules for dedicated news and sports channels are marginally more relaxed, but no Olympic material can be put on interactive services and must be used only as part of a regularly scheduled news programme. There are also restrictions on material posted on broadcasters' official Twitter feeds and other social media sites from the Olympic Park and venues. Although it is the rights holder in the UK, the BBC does not have the international rights to the games and there are restrictions on the amount of footage it can broadcast overseas from the Olympic Park and associated Olympic venues. The restrictions will affect both the BBC's radio services online - with a number of news programmes facing an overseas blackout during the course of the games, and the BBC's international news service, BBC World News. Alleged 'sources' allegedly claimed that BBC Breakfast's interview with David Cameron was switched from the Olympic Park to the back garden of Downing Street because of 'rights issues' which meant that it could not have been shown overseas. However, a BBC spokeswoman claimed that the interview was done in Downing Street for 'logistical reasons' and was never intended to take place in the Olympic Park. 'It is a particular challenge for BBC World News because it isn't a rights holder and is under the same restrictions as Sky News, for example. It is not allowed to use much stuff shot on Olympics premises,' an alleged BBC 'source' allegedly snitched to the Gruniad Morning Star.

It was genuinely nice to see the great Michael Johnson using the BBC's coverage of the Olympic Opening Ceremony to crack an anti-Mitt Romney joke, dear blog reader. I knew I liked that bloke for some reason other than the fact that he was, you know, The Fastest Man On Two Legs for a decade and a bit before yer man Bolt came along. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping, almost in spite of himself, really rather enjoyed the opening ceremony's depiction of the industrial revolution accompanied by a load of drummers - seemingly - playing a variant of Cozy Powell's 'Dance With The Devil'. The only problem was that, ever since seeing Electric Six's video for 'Gay Bar', I've been wholly unable to take the sight of men in a top hats seriously any longer. Not that I ever did, of course. That aside ... I did think the first two minutes - Elgar, followed by The Shipping Forecast then The Who - was about as good a summation of Britain, for all its faults, as you're ever going to get. There were lots of children singing, people playing cricket. Everything was green and there was, Gary Lineker assured us, the smell of horseshit lingering above the Olympic stadium. The Daily Scum Mail are sure to have enjoyed that. And then Danny Craig and Queen parachuted into the stadium and it all got a bit surreal.

As the nation came together to ring in the London Olympics on Friday,the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt dropped an unfortunate clanger when the end of his bell fell off live on his beloved Sky News (lick, lick, lick). Is it too early to start calling this 'Bellendgate'? Fortunately for the vile and odious rascal Hunt it narrowly missed hitting a woman standing nearby. 'My goodness me are you all right?' asked the Olympics minister, putting the 'camp' into campanology with an impeccable Kenneth Williams impression. 'Health and safety!' he then bellowed. As the vile and odious rascal Hunt said himself on Twitter, it was 'a classic 2012 moment.' Yes, nearly braining an old dear with your bell end. Very classic. Yet again the fictional calamities of a BBC sitcom are put in the shade by the unpredictabilities of the real life of the vile and odious rascal Hunt. Where's Adam Smith when you need him?

BBC1 will use its blanket Olympics coverage as a springboard to launch its autumn drama slate, with a series of cinema-style ninety-second trailers at the same time every night for the sixteen-day duration of the games. The marketing campaign, the first of its kind undertaken by the channel, will focus on six new dramas under the heading Made in Britain. It will also highlight several long-running shows including Doctor Who, Merlin, and EastEnders, the latter of which will switch to BBC2 during the Olympics. BBC1 controller Danny Cohen said the Olympics would provide a 'rare and unique opportunity' to showcase its upcoming drama. With a nightly ninety-second slot at 8pm the trails will be guaranteed a big peaktime audience. They will begin on Saturday with an overview of six BBC1 dramas which will be broadcast in the autumn this year: Hunted, Good Cop, The Secret of Crickley Hall, Shetland, Ripper Street and Accused. BBC controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson said these represented 'the very best of British, made with ambition and scale that I hope will capture the imagination of our audiences with the same spirit as the London 2012 Olympics.' A Doctor Who trailer will premiere next Thursday (2 August), followed by Merlin the following day.

The first group game of Britain's Olympic football team attracted a solid overnight audience on Thursday night. Some 6.2m punters watched at the match's peak as Stuart Pearce's men - captained by Ryan Giggs - draw 1-1 with Senegal at Old Trafford, after Craig Bellamy's early strike was cancelled out late on. And that was definitely a penalty, by the way! BBC1's coverage, fronted by Gary Lineker, averaged 4.77m between 7pm and 10pm - a marked improvement on the squad's warm-up game last Friday. Live coverage of the final stages of the Olympic torch relay secured 1.03m in the 5pm hour, while BBC2's showing of the other games in the Men's Football interested nine hundred and twenty thousand punters between 2.30pm and 7pm. Meanwhile, ITV's Olympics-themed Big Sports Quiz very satisfyingly flopped big-style opposite the football, being watched by just 1.73m from 9pm. The Big Sports Quiz, hosted by full-of-his-own-importance Stephen Mulhern, was beaten by Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder: The Big Clear Out, which delivered 2.04m to Channel Four. Overall, BBC1 topped primetime with 23.8 per cent of the audience share, ahead of ITV's 17.2 per cent. On the multichannels, Dynamo: Magician Impossible was watched by seven hundred and thirty three thousand viewers on Watch at 9pm. It remained the night's second most-watched digital shows - a Family Guy repeat had nine hundred and thirty one thousand viewers on BBC3 at 11.05pm.

Back to the opening ceremony and, as yer actual Keith Telly Topping's good mate Mietek noted around the time they did the section about the National Health Service 'everything the Tories hate is being glorified here!' And, that's a bad thing? Well, to be fair, the Tories were big fans of The Industrial Revolution. And, probably of Mr Bean as well. And, speaking of Tories, Mike Oldfield came on the global jukebox at around that point.
One chap who, seemingly, wasn't happy with the opening ceremony was Conservative MP rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant Aidan Burley (no, me neither and, actually, I'm jolly glad about that). He has claimed that a tweet in which he referred to 'leftie multi-cultural rubbish' in the Olympic opening ceremony was 'misunderstood.' Ah, the old 'I've said something thoroughly offensive but it's your fault for not being on my wavelength' defence. Yes. That usually works. After the tweet had provoked a flurry of criticism on Twitter, rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant Burley said: 'I was talking about the way it was handled in the show, not multiculturalism itself.' In an earlier tweet, Burley had said the ceremony was 'the most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen.' Oh, I dunno, Moscow 1980 was fairly leftie. An alleged Downing Street 'source' allegedly said: 'We do not agree with him.' In his initial post on Twitter referring to the ceremony, rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant Burley wrote: 'The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen - more than Beijing, the capital of a Communist state! Welfare tribute next?' And, again, the problem with that would have been, exactly, you shit-scum louse? He followed that with: 'Thank God the athletes have arrived! Now we can move on from leftie multi-cultural crap. Bring back Red Arrows, Shakespeare and The Stones!' Before adding: 'Seems my tweet has been misunderstood. I was talking about the way it was handled in the show, not multiculturalism itself.' David Cameron last year sacked rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant Burley as parliamentary private secretary to Transport Secretary Justine Greening for 'offensive and foolish' behaviour during a Nazi-themed stag party.

Ticketing delays at St James' Park which meant some fans missed an Olympic football game were 'unacceptable', a senior 2012 official has said. Some people missed the Mexico versus South Korea game on Thursday due to long queues for tickets. Geoff Hodgson, the North East board member for LOCOG, said: 'We cannot allow this to happen again.' Queues had already formed on Thursday before the ticket offices opened at 09:30. Soon hundreds were waiting, both people hoping to buy tickets and those picking up pre-booked ones. To be fair, they didn't miss much, in the first game Mexico and South Korea produced a thoroughly dreary goalless draw. The second match between Gabon and Switzerland was a bit better and ended 1-1. LOCOG said that the box office had opened five hours before kick-off and those collecting tickets to the day's matches were prioritised. Speaking on BBC Newcastle, Hodgson offered his apologies. He said: 'Last night was totally and completely one hundred per cent unacceptable. It had the potential to be an outstanding night, and I think for many people it was, but for those outside queuing it was unacceptable. There were a series of conversations and meetings last night at the ground, and I was back in harness at 6.30 this morning. We cannot allow this to happen again.' He added that it had involved a global ticketing system. 'The procedures that they have appear to be a one size fits all,' he said. 'Unlike every other sport there was not a test event for football at a football ground that was being used.' In a separate incident, the UK Border Agency said it had arrested three people due to work at the stadium in Newcastle after accreditation checks were carried out on private security staff. Two remain in custody and one was released without charge. It was announced on Monday that more than five hundred staff from other companies were replacing G4S at St James' Park.

Humax and Freesat have acknowledged that 'a technical problem' means that owners of certain satellite digital TV boxes cannot record any of the BBC's special Olympic channels. What? You mean, they won't be able to record the handball? Well, that's just not frigging good enough. The corporation is running twenty four live video streams throughout the duration of the Games as part of plans to cover every sport from every venue at London 2012. Humax only sells one Freesat+ set top box in the UK with a personal video recorder functionality - the Foxsat-HDR - but it is understood to be one of the biggest sellers on the market. In a statement on its Facebook page, Freesat - which has heavily promoted its 'summer of subscription-free sport' - admitted that owners of Humax Freesat+ boxes currently cannot record the BBC's live streams. The company said that users can still record Olympic action on the BBC1 and BBC3 channels, and claimed that no Freesat+ boxes made by other manufacturers are affected by the problems. 'We're sorry to say that Humax can't currently fix the bug that prevents recording of the twenty four Olympic channels on their freesat+ box. We've tried really hard with Humax to sort out,' said Freesat. 'You can record from BBC1 and BBC3. All other freesat+ boxes can record twenty four streams. It's been an Olympic feat in itself to get the twenty four streams working and we really hope this doesn't stop you enjoying London 2012. Sorry guys.' Speaking to the BBC, Humax's UK service manager Michael Caughey: 'Humax were made aware of the issue when the problem was identified on Tuesday. Unfortunately nothing could be done at the broadcast encoder end to resolve the issue so on Thursday we started working on the fix and are hopeful that it is imminent. However, we will not rush it out until we are sure it will not cause more issues and problems as customers will still be able to view all twenty four channels - although they can't record them - and will be able to record the Olympic coverage shown on BBC1 HD, BBC HD and the other standard definition channels as normal.' In a post on Freesat's Facebook page, Humax UK said that a software update for affected Freesat+ boxes is on the way. 'For all those with a Humax box. It's looking positive that we can fix this bug for you,' said the firm. 'We've already developed a software update and early tests indicate this is working correctly. Testing continues this afternoon and we will post on our Facebook page when we have confirmed dates/timings for release.'
At the Olympic opening ceremony, meanwhile, during the march of the athletes Fiji entered the stadium to the sound of The Bee Gees. Sadly, whoever was arranging the music then missed a trick by failing to accompanying Chad's entrance with a bit of Gay Dad.
Matt Smith has said that he would love James Corden to return for another episode of Doctor Who. Oh Christ, no. Spare us that, please. Odious, unfunny lardy buffoon Corden first guest-starred in Doctor Who's series five episode The Lodger and later helped defeat the Cybermen in last year's Closing Time. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Smudger opined that he is 'keen' to have Corden back for a third adventure. You're too nice a chap, Smitty, mate. You've got to be ruthless in this game. Especially with regard to having James Corden on your show. Don't do it. Think of the children. 'We'd love him to [return], but he's pretty busy being a Tony award-winning actor on Broadway and having a baby. But we'd love to get James back,' Matt said. The actor also previewed Doctor Who's series opener Asylum of the Daleks, which sees the TARDIS crew come up against several variations of his oldest foes. '[It's] wonderful, because I got to meet my favourite Daleks, which are actually from Troughton's era, I think,' he revealed. 'They're the sort of pale blue and whitey ones. They're a bit smaller actually. I think they're groovy! I mean, we've got every Dalek that exists in the world.' He added of the Daleks: 'They are frightening. But you can't help but go, "God, there's twenty Daleks in a room moving around me!"' Last week, Matt touted The Doctor's new companion (Jenna-Louise Coleman) by hinting that she is 'different' from Amy Pond (Karen Gillan). Which sounds like a cue for a trailer.

He plays an emotionally repressed, highly intelligent gentleman with complicated female relationships. But Benedict Cumberbatch is swapping modern-day sleuthing to play 'the last Tory' Christopher Tietjens in a new adaptation of Parade's End by Tom Stoppard. BBC2's five-part drama based on Ford Madox Ford's tetralogy, set in 1914, marks Stoppard's return to television, with his first project for the corporation in decades. Stoppard, although familiar with Ford's earlier novel The Good Soldier, only started reading the quartet of books after it was suggested he might adapt them. The writer, who watches television 'sporadically', said he realised 'damn quickly I really wanted the job.' But it was not without challenges. 'The structure of the books is not linear, nor does it fall into five equal parts, it's a modernist novel with a thought towards experimentalism, and most of all, as with many adaptations, you have the problem that there's a lot of interesting stuff going on in the novel, without necessarily having the dramatic momentum or even the physical concrete dimension to it,' he said at a screening of the drama. Stoppard's involvement, and that of BAFTA award-winning director Susanna White, has helped attract a cast which includes Rufus Sewell, Rupert Everett, Stephen Graham and Rebecca Hall – who plays Tietjens's socialite wife Sylvia. Cumberbatch – much in demand in both the UK and the US following his role as Sherlock Holmes in the BBC1 drama – was one of only 'a tiny handful' of actors who could have played Tietjens, a highly principled, brilliant government statistician, said White. But, with Parade's End cast before Sherlock hit the screens, the director and Stoppard first had to convince American broadcaster HBO, which has produced the drama with the BBC. 'HBO said "Who is this Benedict?" and we said: "Trust us, he's truly a great actor and by the time Parade's End comes out everyone will have heard of him,"' said White. 'Of course now, everybody in America has heard of him and he's playing the villain in Star Trek.' Parade's End, due to broadcast later this summer, transports audiences to the end of the Edwardian era and the time of the Great War, as also have BBC1's recent adaptation of Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong, and the hugely popular second series of Downton Abbey. 'Everything changed afterwards,' said Stoppard, explaining the period's importance. 'It was the last period of social history among the top half of the English class system. People of a later generation might say that of 1939 – but in the case of 1914 there really is a sense of an important page being turned, never to be turned back again.' There is also a certain resonance between Tietjen's moral view of the world – central to the plot is the relationship between Tietjen and his wife, and the young suffragette Valentine Wannop – and the questions currently preoccupying society, said White. 'People are asking a lot of moral questions about how we behave as a society. About our values, the environment, money and how politicians behave. It might not be immediately obvious what an old-fashioned Tory has to say to us now, but actually I think there's a lot that chimes.'

Warwickshire-based television antiques expert David Darby has died after a short illness. Barby, sixty three, suffered a stroke last week and died in hospital in Coventry on Wednesday. He was best known for appearances on BBC shows like Bargain Hunt, Flog It and Antiques Road Trip. Auctioneer Charles Hanson called him a 'great friend' and said 'no other expert could rival his great human touch.' A former television colleague of Barby, he added: 'He built up the great passion the public had for these antiques programmes. More importantly he was a man of the people. Anybody could speak to him and he had time for so many members of the public to share their stories, memories, nostalgia and passion for old things.' Barby first became interested in antiques as boy growing up in Rugby. He qualified aged twenty one and began working for a local firm. After a brief stint in London, Barby returned to Warwickshire in 1978 to work at a Leamington auction house where he would eventually become a partner in the business. He also founded a valuation company, David J Barby and Associates, in Rugby. Barby appeared in the first episode of Flog It in 2002. A statement from the programme's team read: 'His sense of fun, gentle personality and great knowledge of and passion for antiques, endeared him to the hundreds of people he worked with and millions of viewers at home. David was an ambassador for antiques TV and loved every minute spent making the many, many episodes of Bargain Hunt, Flog It, Antiques Road Trip and more. We all remember David with great fondness, and send our condolences to his family and many friends in the antique trade and beyond.'

And so, dear blog reader, to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, it's this. 'Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls.'

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