Thursday, August 09, 2012

But The Fighter Still Remains

After a day in which the governor of the Bank of England, basically, said that Britain's economic outlook was so bad people should enjoy the sunshine and the Olympics over the next few days and then go and kill themselves the country's Olympians will aim to add to their haul of twenty two golds, thirteen silvers and thirteen bronzes after a rare medal-free day. It really does demonstrate the extent to which we've all because rather blasé - not to mention greedy - about sporting success that we're actually reporting a medal-free Wednesday as 'a rare occurrence.' Go back about four Olympics and a medal free week wasn't all that uncommon. Anyway, on Day thirteen, on the track, Usain Bolt will try to achieve the Olympic sprint double for a second time in the two hundred metres. British highlights of Day Twelve included Lisa Dobriskey and Laura Weightman qualifying for the final of the women's fifteen hundred metres, although team-mate Hannah England missed out. Dobriskey eased home in four minutes 5.35 seconds to ensure she was one of the five runners who qualified from the first semi-final. Weightman, who is coached by former middle-distance great Steve Cram, qualified as one of the fastest losers to reach the final in her first Olympics. Wednesday was also dominated by a row over sport provision in schools. Prime Minister David Cameron put his sized ten boot right in it and crassly called for 'a more competitive ethos' if Britain was to capitalise on the Olympic wins. Teachers claimed - rightly - that he was 'shifting the blame' for problems caused by government cuts and that he wants more gold medals in the next Olympics, it might be an idea for him to get his hand in his pocket. Or, maybe sell one of his four houses, to help. You won't find sailing on the curriculum at many schools - state or private - but British women's 470 sailing crew Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark guaranteed themselves a Olympic medal and will battle New Zealand for gold on Friday. Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell are also guaranteed at least silver in their 470 class medal race. Britain's women's hockey team will play New Zealand for bronze on Friday afternoon, after losing their semi-final 2-1 to Argentina. Defending champions Netherlands squeezed through to the final by beating New Zealand 3-1 in a shoot-out at the Riverbank Arena. A riveting match ended 2-2 after extra-time as New Zealand's lead was twice cancelled out by penalty corner goals from Dutch skipper Maartje Paumen. The first penalty shoot-out in Olympic history ensued, and Ellen Hoog smashed home the decisive strike. Usain Bolt and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake both cruised into Thursday night's two hundred metres final. In a strong night for the USA, Allyson Felix in the two hundred metres, Aries Merritt in the one hundred and ten metres hurdles, and Brittney Reese in the long jump all won golds in the Olympic Stadium. But Russia's Natalya Antyukh held off a late surge from USA world champion Lashinda Demus to win Olympic gold in the women's four hundred metres hurdles. Merritt stormed to Olympic one hundred and ten metres hurdles gold in a new personal best of 12.92 seconds as reigning champion Dayron Robles pulled up. Merritt's consistency was in evidence again as he dipped more than a 0.1 secs clear of American compatriot Jason Richardson in silver. Jamaica's Hansle Parchment took bronze with Britain's twenty two-year-old Lawrence Clarke was a fine fourth. Clarke had qualified for the final with a personal best earlier in the evening and delivered in style after his team-mate Andy Turner had failed to progress from the semis. Clarke said: 'I can't believe I came fourth in the Olympic Games. I clashed arms with the South African [Lehann Fourie] and he's built like an American footballer, so maybe I would have run a PB, but I couldn't have got a medal - 13.12 seconds for bronze is ridiculous! I treated the semi like a final and ran a personal best. I'm really pleased I was here. The crowd was amazing. My coach, Malcolm Arnold, has taken me from running 15.3 secs to 13.3 secs. I can't thank him enough.' Meanwhile, about seven hundred New Zealanders and their guests were evacuated from an Olympics party at Kiwi House, near King's Cross in central London, on Wednesday night after a gas canister being used for a barbecue exploded. Two fire engines and ten firefighters put out the flames while one person suffered minor injuries. And, obviously, the barbie was completely ruined. Tragedy.
On Thursday, British open water swimmer Keri-Anne Payne, a big hope for a medal in the women's ten kilometres marathon, disappointed huge crowds who'd all rocked up to see her in Hyde Park, by finishing fourth.

Oscar Pistorius has a second chance of a historic Olympic medal after the South African team were granted a place in the four by four hundred relay final on appeal. His team-mate Ofentse Mogawane had crashed out during the second relay heat as Pistorius waited for the baton. Pistorius, nicknamed 'The Blade Runner' because of his prosthetic legs, made history in the individual four hundred metres as the first amputee sprinter at the Olympics. He said on Twitter: 'Thank you Lord. Emotional rollercoaster.' Mogawane collided with Kenya's Vincent Kiilu around the top bend and was sent sprawling to the track. After assessing the appeal, the International Association of Athletics Federations decided that he had been blocked and advanced the South Africans through to the final. Jamaica went out of the relay in the other heat as Germaine Gonzales pulled up with a hamstring injury, ending any chance Usain Bolt might have been drafted into their team for the final. A season's best performance from Britain's relay team ensured the quartet qualified for Friday's Olympic final. Jack Green put in a strong third lap before Martyn Rooney brought the Brits home in three minutes 0.38 seconds. 'I felt I had a lot to prove,' said Green, who crashed out of the first round of the four hundred metres hurdles. Britain were without world champion Dai Greene, who finished fourth in Monday's four hundred metres hurdles final (because he was 'too tired', apparently), but the quartet of Nigel Levine, Conrad Williams, Jack Green and Rooney made strong claims to remain in the line-up for the final.

The BBC's London 2012 coverage peaked on Wednesday with a resounding 11.3 million, despite the lack of much British interest in the athletics finals. The men's two hundred metres semi-final, which saw Usain Bolt stroll to a place in the final, attracted its highest audience at around 8.15pm. More athletics dominated BBC1's schedule in the morning, logging 2.45m between 9am and 11.30am, and 3.04m from 11.30am until 1pm. Olympics Breakfast (1.69m) had over three times ITV's notorious breakfast flop Daybreak's audience in the same slot. Which, as always when dealing with anything to do with Daybreak, is hilarious. Later in the day Nicola Adams's women's boxing semi-final victory over India's Mary Kom attracted a peak audience of 2.6 million on BBC1 and BBC Olympics Four at 1.35pm. Overall, BBC1's evening Olympics programme averaged 8.9 million viewers and a forty per cent audience share over three hours from 7pm. BBC3 peaked with eight hundred and forty nine thousand at 4.15pm for its programme which included hockey, table tennis and men's basketball.

Boris Johnson has said it is time 'to knock on the head once and for all' claims that he wants to be prime minister. Buffoon and hairdo Johnson said that his 'cup was running over' as London Mayor and dismissed talk of him wanting to succeed David Cameron as a 'silly season story.' He said that the chance of this happening was 'infinitesimally remote.' Referring to recently getting stuck above Olympic crowds, he told ITV's Daybreak 'how could anybody elect a prat who gets stuck in a zip wire?' Good question. Well, the people of London, obviously. But then, the rest of the country always had their suspicions about them.
Odious smug oily twat, disgraced and sacked tabloid editor, horrorshow (and drag) full of his own importance Piers Morgan has 'sparked fury' after criticising Olympic hero Sir Chris Hoy for not singing the national anthem. As though that had anything whatsoever to do with him. Morgan said that he was 'disappointed' that the Scots cycling champ – who became the most successful British Olympian of all time – didn't sing 'God Save The Queen' as he collected his sixth gold medal, calling his behaviour 'a bit off.' This, presumably, being the same 'God Save The Queen' which included a fourth verse celebrating the crushing of 'rebellious Scots'? One imagines Edinburgh-born Hoy might, therefore, have his own reasons for avoiding singing such a quasi-racist piece of jingoistic wank. The disgraced former Daily Mirra editor Morgan - sacked for publishing faked photographs of British troops allegedly torturing prisoners - and now a failed chat show host in the US, was branded a 'pompous fool' and a 'grumpy old man,' by fans of thirty six-year-old Hoy, who took to Twitter to slate Morgan for his controversial comments. To be honest, that's being grossly unfair to perfectly decent pompous fools and grumpy old men. Morgan, by contrast, is neither of those things. He's simply an arsewipe. The row erupted when Morgan tweeted to his 2.5 million Twitter followers: 'Very happy for Sir Chris Hoy that he won another Gold. But disappointed he didn't sing the anthem. He accepted a Knighthood, after all.' And the most disturbing thing about that is, two and a half million people it would seem follow the utterly pointless drivel that pours, like diarrhoea, out of the brain of Piers Morgan. If ever there was one single statistic which proved Twitter is worth avoiding, that's got to be it. Minutes later the odious cretin continued to moan: 'Sir Chris hasn't sung the anthem all Olympics. It's not emotion stopping him. He just doesn't want to. Which for a Knight is a bit off.' He added: 'In fact, none of the cyclists (Wiggins, Hoy, Trott etc.) have sung it, apart from the magnificent Queen Victoria – wonder why.' Following the barrage of abuse, Morgan defended his earlier tweets, hurriedly backing off like the odious coward that he is: 'I'm not "slagging off" Chris Hoy. He's a genius cyclist and a great guy. I just wish he'd sing the national anthem, that's all.' Like most bullies, Morgan it would seem is very keen to dish it out but, when someone stands up to him, he usually shits in his own pants and runs a mile. Sir Chris has chosen not to react to Morgan's odious, insulting comments, instead tweeting his own support for the 'phenomenal' British cycling team and posting a photo of a Royal Mail post box which was painted gold in his honour. But, perhaps the best response came from one Colm Quinn who noted.
Style.

And, on a similar sporting theme, evidence has emerged that, not only does the European supermarket chain Spar sponsor grand prix athletics, but they also get some of the athletes involved to hide their bananas down their shorts.
Yeah. That's definitely a Fyffes Gold. Maybe that should be a sport in the next Olympics. Or, you know, a quiz show on Channel Five, at the very least. Is That A Banana Down Your Shorts Or Are You Just Glad To See Me? One for Amanda Holden to present, perhaps?

The first images from this year's Doctor Who Christmas special have emerged. On-set pictures from the popular long-running family SF drama's location shoot in Wales have revealed that Life On Mars star Liz White will play a guest role in the festive special. The shots also provide a first look at Silent Witness actor Tom Ward, who was previously confirmed to appear in the episode. Richard E Grant will also appear in the story, scripted by Who showrunner Steven Moffat.
The BBC, as previously rumoured, is developing a Doctor Who biopic for the show's fiftieth anniversary. The long-rumoured project - which has the working title An Adventure in Space and Time - will focus on the creation of the popular long-running family SF drama in 1963. Mark Gatiss will script the ninety-minute special, which will be produced by the BBC's drama unit in Wales and broadcast on BBC2 in 2013. 'This is the story of how an unlikely set of brilliant people created a true television original,' said Gatiss. 'And how an actor - William Hartnell - stereotyped in hard-man roles became a hero to millions of children. I've wanted to tell this story for more years than I can remember! To make it happen for Doctor Who's fiftieth birthday is quite simply a dream come true.' Doctor Who executive producers Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner will also oversee the project, which has been compared to BBC4's glorious 2010 biopic The Road to Coronation Street. Moffat said: 'The story of Doctor Who is the story of television, so it's fitting in the anniversary year that we make our most important journey back in time to see how the TARDIS was launched.' The showrunner previously told the Digital Spy website that plans were already underway for the show's anniversary on 23 November next year. A production and transmission schedule for An Adventure in Space and Time will be confirmed next year, along with casting.
Luther creator Neil Cross is planning a spin-off drama featuring the character of Alice Morgan (played by Ruth Wilson). Cross told Variety that the BBC is 'very interested' in a mini-series focused on the glamorous serial killer, who appeared in the first two series of the Idris Elba crime drama. 'The only real question would be how many [episodes] and how often we would do it - whether it would be a one-off mini-series or a returning mini-series,' he explained. 'The truth is I absolutely adore Alice. I don't like to imagine my life without Alice in some way or other. It's something peculiar, but she's far more clever than me, far more witty than me, far more everything than me. I've got storylines going around in my head like trains.' Cross described the planned project as 'a mix between The Talented Mr Ripley and The Last Seduction' and revealed that it will likely be set in Alice's 'natural habitat' of America. However, he confirmed that he does not currently have a plan for the character of John Luther himself to appear in the mini-series. 'I think the first one would probably be a Luther-free zone, because their stories have diverged to a large extent,' he said. 'But there would be nothing to suggest they couldn't come together again. The great thing is they can survive independently of each other. Each of those actors is so kind of secretly magnetic. [Idris is] able to pull that intense relationship out of many, many actors he's worked with, and I think Ruth as Alice would be able to do the same.' In March, Cross announced his plans to end Luther as a television show following the upcoming third series, in order to focus on a movie version. 'We've got lots and lots of movie interest, and Idris and I [are being] very careful about what kind of movie we choose to do,' he has revealed. 'We've got all kinds of criteria of how and when we should do the movie, and we just need to pick our offer carefully. But I'd love to do it next year.'

Celebrity MasterChef returns to BBC2 next week with yer actual Greg Wallace and John Torode back at the helm as hosts and judges. This year's contestants include Pop Idol's Gareth Gates, actress Laila Rouass, radio presenter Jamie Theakston and Cheryl Baker. Zoe Salmon, Jenny Eclair, children's TV duo Michael Underwood and Richard McCourt and actress Emma Kennedy are also taking part along with swimmer Steve Parry, footballer - and skinhead - Danny Mills, George Layton, Diarmuid Gavin, Javine Hylton and gold medal Olympic cyclist Rebecca Romero completing the list. This blogger wants Becky to win. I don't care what her food's like I just want her to win. Challenges for the celebrities will include cooking at The Royal Holloway University, Chessington World of Adventures, feeding former winners Lisa Faulkner and Phil Vickery and catering on the set of New Tricks. Which might explain why James Bolam's just left the production. Celebrity MasterChef starts on Monday, 13 August at 6.30pm on BBC2, for everybody who's just trying to rediscover their lives after the Olympics. The show has, thankfully, returned to its evening slot, following numerous complaints from fans and critics after last year's series aired on weekday afternoons.

ITV has ordered a follow-up to Marchlands. The five-part paranormal drama - starring Alex Kingston, Dean Andrews and Shelley Conn - was shown in early 2011. New series Lightfields will share a similar theme and format, taking place - like Marchlands - in three different time periods, Broadcast reports. Chronicling a series of chilling events in a remote Suffolk farmhouse, the thriller opens in the wartime Britain of 1944 and follows the aftermath of a fire that devastates Lightfields' hay barn. The story then moves to 1976, when a woman named Vivien is forced to confront repressed childhood memories of her time as an evacuee in Suffolk. The final chapter - set in the present day - will see a husband and wife haunted by a restless spirit. Lightfields and Marchlands are both based on The Oaks, a US TV pilot that was in development at FOX in 2009. The Body Farm's Simon Tyrell will write the new series, with Cherry Gould as producer and Damon Thomas directing. Executive producer Kate Lewis said: 'Simon Tyrell has found a bold way to approach the format that inspired Marchlands. The scripts are atmospheric and there's great complexity to the characters as they interweave across the decades.' Lightfields will enter production later this month in Rickmansworth and East Sussex.

Some sad news, now. The great Bob Hoskins is to retire from acting after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. The sixty nine-year-old star of Who Framed Roger Rabbit has enjoyed a career spanning nearly five decades. In a statement on Wednesday, his agent said he was withdrawing from acting after a 'wonderful career' and would be spending more time with his family. Hoskins achieved a Golden Globe nomination for his role as a private detective opposite the animated bunny. 'He wishes to thank all the great and brilliant people he has worked with over the years, and all of his fans who have supported him during a wonderful career,' said the statement. 'Bob is now looking forward to his retirement with his family, and would greatly appreciate that his privacy be respected at this time.' Hoskins, from Suffolk , as played a wide variety of roles since the 1970s ranging from gritty gangster films to comedy roles. He was magnetic in his breakthrough role, Harold Shand in the 1980 British gangster film, The Long Good Friday alongside Helen Mirren. His CV also includes appearances in The Cotton Club, Nixon, Mona Lisa, Brazil, Mermaids and Enemy At The Gates. His last screen appearance was in Snow White & The Huntsman, in which he played one of the seven dwarves opposite Kristen Stewart. All at From The North send Bob our sincere best wishes and many thanks for a career that was always fascinating.

BBC Studios and Post Production, a commercial subsidiary of the BBC providing world-class television studios, post production and digital media services, have announced that from Spring 2013 it will provide TV studio services from Elstree Studios during the period while Television Centre is being redeveloped. Elstree Studios is near to the BBC Studios and Post Production’s existing facilities at BBC Elstree, where they currently make EastEnders and Holby City as well as shows for ITV, who originally opened the TV centre at Elstree in 1960, such as Odd One In and for Sky with A League of Their Own and other broadcasters and independent production companies.

A judge has said that the BBC does not have to disclose unbroadcast footage of the aftermath of the shooting of Mark Duggan to the Metropolitan police. The fatal shooting on 4 August last year sparked four days of riots in London and then, copycat scenarios across England. Scotland Yard applied for the BBC footage as part of its investigation into Kevin Hutchinson-Foster, who is accused of supplying a gun to Duggan, a charge which he denies. Judge David Radford said in a hearing at Snaresbrook crown court on Thursday that he was not satisfied the material had 'substantial value' to the Met police case. The BBC had argued that the footage was not relevant. A spokeswoman for the BBC said: 'We are pleased with the ruling which upholds important journalistic principles. Requests for BBC untransmitted material are dealt through our legal department, regardless of the subject matter. On this occasion we opposed the court order because on the evidence provided by the police we were not satisfied the material was relevant to their investigation and to protect the confidentiality of our source.' The Duggan footage is the latest where police have applied for a production order to get unbroadcast footage from broadcasters. Media groups have campaigned strongly against such orders over fears they will be seen as an evidence-gathering arm of the state and be considered filthy stinking Copper's Narks. They had faced an increased number of production orders in the past twelve months, with most relating to the England riots, the Dale Farm eviction and protests in London linked to the Arab spring uprising. High court judge Mr Justice Eady said in a landmark ruling in May that the police need 'clear evidence of criminality' when applying for unbroadcast film. He added that previous orders granted by courts had 'failed to give sufficient weight' to the inhibiting effect on the freedom of the media.

News Corporation made a loss of $1.6bn in the last quarter as it absorbed $2.8bn in charges related to a plan to spin-off its ailing publishing businesses. The loss compared with a profit of six hundred and eighty three million dollars in the same period a year ago and came as revenues dipped 6.7 per cent to $8.4bn, hit by a slide in audiences for TV shows including American Idol and disappointment at the box office for its Hollywood studio. The results were below analysts' expectations and the company's shares fell in after-hours trading. The fourth-quarter loss was linked 'most significantly' to poor performances at News Corp's Australian publishing assets, the company said. News Corp announced plans last month to split off its publishing assets including the Wall Street Journal, The Times and the Sun in the UK, and its Australian newspapers from the more lucrative film and television assets including FOX Broadcasting, the Twentieth Century FOX studios and its stake in BSkyB. The move comes in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal which has led to a sprawling criminal investigation in Britain and has triggered an investigation in the US under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

BSkyB has won its appeal against Ofcom's decision to force the company to cut the amount it charges rivals to show its flagship Sky Sports channels. In a summary judgment handed down after the London stock market closed on Wednesday, the Competition Appeal Tribunal has ruled that Ofcom's core competition concern about the way the pay-TV broadcaster sold its sports channels wholesale to competitors was 'unfounded.' The CAT said the media regulator 'misinterpreted' some of the evidence that was before it when it ordered BSkyB to sell Sky Sports 1 and 2 to rivals for up to twenty three per cent less than the previous wholesale price in March 2010. Wednesday's ruling follows a two-year legal challenge by BSkyB over market competition issues. Mr Justice Barling said in the judgment: 'The tribunal has concluded that Ofcom's core competition concern is unfounded. That concern is based on the finding to which we have referred, namely that Sky has deliberately withheld from other retailers wholesale supply of its premium channels, preferring to be entirely absent from those retailers' platforms rather than to give them wholesale access, and that in doing so Sky has been acting on strategic incentives unrelated to normal commercial considerations of revenue/profit maximisation. The tribunal is of the view that Ofcom has, to a significant extent, misinterpreted the evidence of these negotiations, which does not support Ofcom's conclusion. We have found a significant number of Ofcom's pivotal findings of fact in the statement to be inconsistent with the evidence.' However, the tribunal did not find in BSkyB's favour on each of the grounds that it contested. BSkyB was unable to convince the tribunal that Ofcom misinterpreted its powers when it ordered the pay-TV company to reduce its wholesale prices for the two sports channels. The company said in a statement: 'We welcome the CAT's confirmation that Ofcom's competition concerns in relation to the wholesale supply of Sky Sports are unfounded and that, contrary to Ofcom's analysis, the evidence shows that Sky has engaged constructively with other distributors over the supply of its premium channels. This finding supports the argument that Sky has been making consistently over the last five years. We also welcome the CAT's conclusion that the existing commercial terms of supply, particularly in relation to Sky's wholesale rate card, do not obstruct fair and effective competition in the retailing of Sky Sports across platforms.' Ofcom said in a statement: 'We are very surprised and disappointed with today's decision by the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which we believe is contrary to the evidence and not in the interests of consumers. In a separate investigation, the Competition Commission also very recently concluded that competition in the pay-TV market is not effective. We will therefore immediately consider what further steps we should take to ensure there is effective competition in the pay-TV sector, in line with our duties.'

EastEnders will be referencing the incredible success of Britain's Olympic team (well, not so much the swimmers, but the rest of them) in Thursday's episode following the British Olympic successes at the weekend. In scenes filmed earlier this week, a scene was created between between Jean, Tyler and Ray where they discuss how 'totally brilliant' Team GB are and how proud they feel to be living in London – just a stone's throw away from the Olympic Stadium. Executive Producer, Lorraine Newman, said: 'Following EastEnders involvement with the Olympic Torch Relay we are delighted to have the opportunity to reflect the current sentiment of the entire country. Team GB have made so many people truly proud to be British and we wish them continued success.'

Every once in a while, dear blog reader, this blogger sees something which not only makes him laugh, but also restores a little bit of his faith in the universe, as well. This video is just such an item. It shows a report of a man who went to the General Mills offices in Minnesota to demonstrate his 'disapproval' of their stance on gay marriage equality. So he's brought a box of Cheerios to their lawn, to make his statement. You just know something's going to go wrong, don't you? Let The Young Turks take up the story.
Truly, dear blog reader, the Lord, he doth move in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform. It's particularly funny seeing this big tough dude running away like a complete coward at the end. Hilarious.

And so we come to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. This one's for the British boxing team who've got a series of semi-finals and finals coming up over the next couple of days. Knock 'em dead, guys (and Nicola). Well, you know, not literally. Cos, like that would be awful (and, probably, illegal). Anyway, best wishes for a clean fight. Here's Si and Garf.

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