Friday, August 31, 2012

He's Just So Keen For You To Listen

The fifth and final part of the Doctor Who web series Pond Life has been released online. The ninety-second episode marks a dramatic departure from the four broadly comedic episodes released earlier this week. After accidentally meddling in history, the Doctor (Matt Smith) returns to contemporary Earth only to discover that Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory's (Arthur Darvill) marriage may be in trouble.
Oh, and remember, dear blog reader, this is but a day away.
A wheelchair basketball match between Great Britain and Germany proved the most popular action on the first day of Channel Fout's Paralympics coverage, attracting a peak audience of 3.6 million on Thursday evening. Germany's seventy seven to seventy two win against the hosts had a five-minute peak of 3.3 million viewers and a fifteen per cent audience share on Channel Four at 9pm. A further three hundred thousand punters were watching on the broadcaster's Paralympics Extra channels. Overall, Channel Four's Paralympics 2012 programme averaged two and half million viewers over three hours from 7.30pm. Then The Last Leg with Adam Hills, Channel Four's highlights programme of the day's action, averaged nine hundred thousand viewers from 10.30pm. Earlier in the day, Channel Four's Paralympics coverage was the most watched programme on any network between 2.15pm and 5pm. Overall, the afternoon show averaged 1.3 million viewers between 1pm and 5.30pm. Channel Four had a 10.6 per cent all day share, a seventy per cent boost compared with the average for the previous twelve months. BBC1 rolled out another of its heavily promoted autumn dramas, Good Cop, which opened with 4.1 million viewers, winning the 9pm hour against Channel Four's Paralympics coverage. Competition included ITV's Doc Martin repeat (2.6 million), BBC2's Iceland Erupts: a Volcano Live Special (1.5 million, including one hundred thousand on BBC HD) and Channel Five's Celebrity Big Brother (two million). Overall, BBC1 topped primetime with 18.6 per cent of the audience share, beating ITV which averaged 16.6 per cent.

A bit later this week than usual, but here's the final consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Five programmes for week ending 19 August 2012:-
1 The X Factor - ITV Sat - 9.10m
2 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 8.86m
3 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 8.55m
4 Emmerdale - ITV Mon - 6.49m*
5 Silent Witness - BBC1 Sun - 6.44m
6 Accused - BBC1 Tues - 6.15m
7 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 5.85m
8 Mrs Brown's Boys - BBC1 Mon - 5.50m
9 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 5.32m
10 Who Do You Think You Are? - BBC1 Wed - 5.30m
11 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 5.20m
12 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 5.19m
13 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 5.00m
14 The ONE Show - BBC1 Mon - 4.84m
15 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 4.62m
16 Ruth Rendell's Thirteen Steps Down - ITV Mon - 4.28m*
17 Britain's Hidden Heritage - BBC1 Sun - 4.25m
18 Film: Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull - BBC1 Sat - 4.12m
19 England Friendlies - ITV Wed - 4.03m
20 The Great British Bake-Off - BBC2+BBC HD Tues - 4.01m
21 Match of the Day - BBC1 Sat - 3.95m
22 The Last Weekend - ITV Sun - 3.79m*
23 Red Or Black? - ITV Sat - 3.69m*
24 The Best Of Men - BBC+BBC HD Thurs - 3.66m
25 Hairy Dieters: How To Love Food & Lose Weight - BBC2+BBC HD Thurs - 3.57m
Those ITV shows marked '*' do not include HD figures. The X Factor's final rating on ITV alone was 8.08m, its lowest opening night audience for six years, although it was boosted by 1.02m viewers on ITV HD. No data was available for Channel Four for this week. Channel Five's best performer was Celebrity Big Brother (2.83m). Which is depressing, frankly. It was a terrific week for BBC2 with three programmes in the top twenty five - something virtually unprecedented in recent years. And, finally, let's all have a damned good laugh at the fiasco that is Red Or Black? Of course, if you add the audiences for its first two episodes - 3.69m and 3.22m - together that means it 'reached 6.91m viewers' which, no doubt, some wideboy in the ITV press office will be attempting to sell to the public via a press release very soon.

Yer actual Johnny Ball has reportedly signed up for Strictly Come Dancing. The television icon and father of former Strictly contestant Zoe Ball will become the oldest contestant on the regular BBC1 show if he does take part. The seventy four-year-old is said to have impressed producers after taking part in training sessions, reports the Sun. So, this is almost certainly a lie, then. An alleged BBC 'source' allegedly said: 'Johnny might be seventy four, but he's got some puff. He has looked after himself over the years and is really game. It would be foolish to write him off as some old duffer just there for laughs, like John Sergeant. He's been showing off some moves in training that would put much younger celebs to shame.' Zoe Ball would also be in line to interview her father on spin-off show It Takes Two. Johnny Ball was one of the most popular children's TV hosts of the 1970s and 1980s, and appeared on the likes of Play School, Think of a Number and Johnny Ball Reveals All. June Brown is the oldest contestant to have competed on a Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special, taking part in December 2010 at the age of eighty three. The latest Strictly Come Dancing series will launch on Saturday 15 September on BBC1. Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh is said to have signed up for the show, while other names rumoured - but not confirmed - to be taking part include Jerry Hall, Fern Britton and former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan.

Cheryl Cole and have taken to Twitter to tell all of their fans they are 'fine' after being involved in a car crash in Los Angeles. Because, you know, we were all so worried.

Typically you wait four years for an Olympic Opening Ceremony then, like London buses, two come along at practically the same time. And so it was that on Wednesday evening Channel Four picked up the metaphorical baton from the BBC for the start of their Paralympics coverage. Believing themselves to be more of an 'edgy' broadcaster than the Beeb, C4 handed the task of taking us through what was unquestionably another spectacular event, to two gentlemen more used to reading the news, Jon Snow and Krishnan Guru-Murthy. Not a pair, one should be said, renowned for their athletic prowess or for their extensive knowledge of all things track and field. Setting the scene as each country paraded around the Olympic Stadium, Snow in particular, veered more toward a political rather than a sporting narrative. Athletes entered the arena proudly waving their national flags, blissfully unaware that those at home were being regaled with tales of famine, corruption and civil war. And that was just France. But then, why bore us with trivia about the Moroccan relay team's personal best - as Hazel Irving likely would have - when you can engage us with the annual GDP of the Congo? Where they drink Umbongo, allegedly. That's not to say that the BBC's coverage of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the Olympic were perfect, of course – they did bring us the witless witterings of Trevor Nelson at regular intervals. C4, though, have quite a bit of previous with unsuitable presenters at sporting events. Who can forget the hapless Ortis Deley's slow, painful broadcasting demise during the World Athletics Championships in South Korea last year? Not since the captain on the Titanic missed the iceberg has anyone been quite so out of their depth so quickly. Ortis lasted just days before he disappeared from view quicker than Andy Carroll's chances at Liverpool. Here's a radical idea, dear blog reader. Let newsreaders read the news and sports presenters present the sport.
The former head lawyer at the disgraced and disgraceful scum bucket of horse diarrhoea Scum of the World 'has categorically denied' any involvement in the commissioning of phone-hacking. Tom Crone, who was arrested at the crack of dawn at his home in South London on Thursday, was released on bail late on Thursday night after being detained by Scotland Yard detectives on suspicion of unlawfully conspiring to intercept communications. The Metropolitan police said that he was bailed until mid-October. 'My client has fully assisted the police in their enquiries,' said a statement issued on Crone's behalf by solicitor Henri Brandman. 'He categorically denies the commission of or involvement in any criminal offence. Neither he nor I will be making any further public statement.' Except to say all that, of course. Crone's arrest was the twenty fifth made by the Met Police team working on the Operation Weeting phone-hacking inquiry. It also was the first arrest since eight individuals, including the former Scum of the World editor and 'chum' of the prime minister Andy Coulson and former News International chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, were told they would face a total of nineteen charges relating to phone-hacking. Operating Weeting was launched in January 2011 and is being run in parallel with two other investigations into alleged illegal activity by journalists – Operation Elveden into payments to police and public officials and Operation Tuleta into computer hacking and other breaches of privacy not covered by Weeting.

ITV Studios has purchased Graham Norton's So Television production company in a deal that could be worth up to seventeen million quid. Set up by Norton and Graham Stuart twelve years ago, So Television produces comedy and entertainment shows including, obviously, The Graham Norton Show and The Sarah Millican Television Programme. ITV's production arm ITV Studios has agreed to make an upfront cash payment of ten million knicker to buy the company, with a further cash payment based on its profit performance up to 31 July 2016. The maximum value of the deal is seventeen million notes. 'So TV has been our baby for twelve years, so I'm thrilled that the ITV family has decided to take it under their wing and help it blossom,' said yer actual Norton his very self. Graham Stuart added: 'We are incredibly excited to be starting a new chapter in the So story with ITV Studios. Now we have the chance to achieve what we've always wanted to in this industry but with real strength and inspiration behind us.' ITV said that the acquisition fits with the key objective of the five-year transformation plan imposed by its new chief executive Adam Crozier when he joined the commercial broadcaster in 2010. This objective was to 'create world class content for multiple platforms, free and pay, both in the UK and internationally.' So Television was buoyed earlier in the year by the BBC's decision to recommission The Graham Norton Show through to 2014. The series has also been distributed internationally in one hundred countries. Following its successful debut on BBC2 this spring, The Sarah Millican Television Programme has been recommissioned for a second run, which kicks-off with a Christmas special. So Television also produces panel show Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask for Dave, which was recommissioned by the digital channel earlier this year. ITV Studios managing director Denis O'Donoghue said: 'So Television is known for its creative rigour and intense quality-control across its programming, whether that is its crown jewel, The Graham Norton Show, or its newer but no less brilliant The Sarah Millican Television Programme. Its programming presence on other channels is strategically terrific for ITV Studios, which has increased its output this year with new shows across the BBC, Channel Four and Sky. I am really looking forward to having So as part of ITV Studios, working with Graham Stuart and his team to add even more value to this dynamic and successful production company.' Kevin Lygo, who joined ITV Studios as its managing director from Channel Four, added: 'So Television and Graham Norton have been making high quality programmes for many years now. "I believe that ITV Studios can bring scale to their ambitions and together we can continue to keep The Graham Norton Show at the top of its game and increase the amount of new programming in their production slate. This is an important acquisition for ITV Studios and demonstrates our strategy to increase our capability in the production of high quality television entertainment programming.'

Odious, risible waste-of-space bollocks Take Me Out is to be given an, alleged, 'celebrity special', it has been claimed. Four 'famous bachelors' will 'take to the love lift' in a bid to win a date on the wretched, odious, Paddy McGuinness-fronted dating horrorshow this Christmas, according to the ever-reliable Sun. 'The special should make for fantastic viewing,' lied an alleged 'insider' - nameless, of course, probably because he or she didn't want their friends or family to know that they worked on Take Me Out, for the shame and ignominy they would suffer as a consequence. 'These celebs are putting themselves out there,' the alleged 'insider' allegedly continued. 'It could lead to a match made in heaven – but it could also end in disaster. Either way, viewers will be gripped.' Betcha a thousand knicker this one won't. Note, also, the use of the word 'celebs' rather than 'celebrities' because it's got less letters and, as a consequence, is easier for Sun readers to wrap their brains around.
Celebrity Big Brother housemate (and full-of-her-own-importance waste of space) Coleen Nolan has 'blasted' (that's tabloidese for 'criticised' only with less syllables) 'two-faced' Julie Goodyear. As if anybody normal actually gives a toss about utter nonsense like that.

Britain won their first gold medals on day one of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Track cyclist Sarah Storey cruised to victory in the women's C5 individual pursuit, after breaking her own world record in Thursday's heats. In the pool, Jonathan Fox took gold in the men's S7 one hundred metres backstroke but was unable to better his world record from earlier in the day. Nyree Kindred and Hannah Russell also secured silvers in the Aquatics Centre. Kindred came second in the final of the women's S6 one hundred metres backstroke while sixteen-year-old Hannah Russell, making her debut at a games, also took away a silver in the women's S12 four hundred metres freestyle. Paracyclist Mark Colbourne won Great Britain's first medal of the games with a silver in the men's individual one kilometre time trial. Elsewhere, Britain's double world judo champion Ben Quilter won a bronze medal after beating Japan's Takaaki Hirai in the men's under sixty kilo judo, while twenty-year-old Zoe Newson left the ExCel with a under forty kilo powerlifting bronze. ParalympicsGB chiefs are targeting a record haul of one hundred and three medals and second place in the overall table for the British squad. Storey, thirty four, tore into the gap separating her from opponent Anna Harkowska and passed the Pole just after halfway in their three kilometre run-off. But the defending champion insisted victory was not as easy as it looked. 'Mentally you have to prepare properly,' she said afterwards. 'I have to respect all my competitors. I didn't expect to catch her as quick as I did, but I stepped up my game. I just thought I had to get there quick and you're just willing the rider to come to you as quick as possible so you can just finish.' Earlier, Storey had qualified for the final in a time of three minutes 32.170 seconds - more than a second better than her own 2009 world record. Storey's gold medal was the eighth of her Paralympic career, which has seen her be victorious in both cycling and swimming events at previous Paralympic Games. Fox, from Plymouth, had beaten his own world-best time in the men's S7 one hundred metres backstroke at the Aquatics Centre with a time of one minute 9.86 seconds. He was unable to replicate his blistering pace in the final but led from the off and, despite tiring severely in the last ten metres, was able to hold on for gold. Prior to the final, Fox told BBC Radio 5Live: 'I've been in good shape for the last couple of months so wanted to put it all together for London. After coming second in Beijing, I wanted to go one higher. I think my time has come.' Colbourne, forty two, only started para-cycling in 2009 after breaking his back in a paragliding accident a few months earlier. But he recorded a time of one minute 8.471 seconds to edge team-mate Darren Kenny, a multiple world and Paralympic champion, out of the top three. 'I've worked for the last eight months towards this,' said Colbourne. 'A big thanks goes to all the coaches for getting me into the best shape possible.' Kindred, who has won nine medals in three Paralympics, was aiming to regain the title she lost at Beijing in 2008. She set a Paralympic record of one minute 27.96 seconds in her heat, but saw China's Dong Lu beat the time in the final to consign her to silver.

Less than twenty four hours later, Colbourne secured a gold medal in the men's individual C1 three kilometre individual pursuit in world-record time. Colbourne thrashed his Chinese rival Li Zhang Yu in three minutes, 53.881 seconds. Aileen McGlynn and pilot Helen Scott had secured Britain's first medal on day two of the Paralympics with tandem silver behind Australia. The Britons set the fastest time as the penultimate pair in the blind and visually impaired tandem one-kilometre time-trial at the Velodrome.

There was no mention of the Paralympics in Mad Frankie Boyle's Sun column on Friday. But the well known Scottish comedian was all over the front page of rival the Daily Mirra – and all for the wrong reasons. As usual. It is suggested that Channel Four intend to cut their ties with the controversial comic after a string of 'bad taste Paralympic jokes' on Twitter in which he called Saudi amputees thieves and said a British high jumper wouldn't get his personal best because that was Taliban assisted. I'm not going to editorialise this news item. Oh no. Very hot water. The broadcaster said in a statement: 'Frankie Boyle is not under contract with Channel Four and we don't have any shows planned with him.' This was a marked change of tone from May, when Channel Four's chief creative officer Jay Hunt said the broadcaster was 'in discussions' with Boyle about future projects but 'had not found the right one.' Doesn't look like they're going to, now. The channel seems to be cutting its ties with Boyle less than a fortnight after their previous head of comedy, Shane Allen, announced he was to leave Channel Four to become head of comedy commissioning at the BBC. Allen was widely seen as Boyle's main ally inside Channel Four as he refused to severe ties with the Scottish comedian despite numerous controversies, Ofcom investigations and legal threats over his close-to-the-bone jokes on Tramadol Nights. In an interview with the Gruniad Morning Star in August 2011, Allen said Channel Four was planning to film a pilot for a new series, Frankie Boyle's Rehabilitation Programme, in the autumn of last year.

This summer is set to be the second wettest in the UK since records began - and the wettest summer in one hundred years - provisional Met Office figures suggest. The wettest summer - defined as June, July and August - since national records began was in 1912. Figures up until 29 August show that 366.8mm of rain fell across the UK this summer, compared with 384.4mm rainfall in 1912. The April to June period was also the wettest recorded. The figures are provisional as there were still two days remaining in August, but the BBC Weather Centre said the rainfall was not expected to exceed the total amount in 1912. Records began in 1910. BBC weather presenter Laura Tobin said this summer had been so wet because a jet stream - a fast moving band of air high in atmosphere - from America, which should be sitting across Scotland and the North of England, was much further south than usual. 'It meant June was the wettest on record - most places had over one-and-a-half times more rain than they should have. July was also one of the wettest months ever, with some areas like Dorset breaking records. August has been about average,' she said. She said September was expected to be 'a typical September,' and no heatwave was expected in the next ten days. In April, seven water companies across southern and eastern England brought in hosepipe bans after two unusually dry winters left some groundwater supplies and rivers as low as in the drought year of 1976. But the restrictions were followed by record rainfall across the UK in April, and more rain in May and June led to flooding in some areas. The hosepipe bans were lifted in June and July. The Environment Agency issued more than one thousand river flood alerts and warnings between 1 June and 15 July, the most issued in a summer since 2007. August 2012 looks set to be the driest and sunniest of the three summer months across the UK, with 105.5mm of rain to 29 August, and one hundred and forty hours of sunshine up to 28 August. The mean temperature for August was 15.7°C - in a month that also saw the hottest day of the year so far, reaching 32.4°C at Cavendish in Suffolk, on 18 August. Summer 2012 is also likely to be one of the dullest summers on record, with just three hundred and ninety nine hours of sunshine up to 28 August. It is the dullest summer since 1980, when the UK saw only three hundred and ninety six hours of sunshine.

Haris Vučkić's long-range bender - steady - was enough to help yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Newcastle United beat Greek side Atromitos to reach the Europa League group stages. Newcastle lost their goalscorer from the first leg, Ryan Taylor, to a serious-looking knee injury early on. But his replacement, the young Slovakian midfielder Vučkić, struck a diagonal shot for his debut Newcastle first team goal to earn the lead after twenty first minutes. Tim Krul was perhaps fortunate to stay on the pitch after he appeared to bring down Chumbinho in the penalty box and Elini Dimoutsos wasted a late chance as he fired wide. Slovenian Vučkić signed for Newcastle from NK Domzale in January 2009 aged sixteen. He made his first-team debut in the 2009-10 season but broke his hand the following season after making his Premier League bow. In February 2012 he went on loan to Cardiff where he scored his first goal in English football. Denis Epstein also shot over as the Greek side finished strongly, but overall Newcastle enjoyed a relatively comfortable night as they qualified for the next round on their first European foray in more than five years. Alan Pardew's side will face far sterner tests in this competition, but there were encouraging performances from the occasionally frustrating Gabriel Obertan and Sylvain Marveaux on either wing and, particularly, an assured display by another teenager, Gael Bigirimana in midfield in place of the injured Cheick Tioté. The wide pair caused havoc down the flanks and were among seven changes made to the team following Newcastle's defeat at Moscow Chelski FC, with Marveaux testing Atromitos keeper Charles Itandje early on after James Perch curled wide. Vučkić's introduction on eleven minutes came after Taylor was injured when skipping over a challenge and then collapsing as his knee seemed to give way on the slippy turf. It looked like it could be a grave problem, but twenty-year-old Vučkić wasted little time in putting Newcastle in front when he collected Danny Simpson's throw-in from the right, moved inside and lashed a shot into the bottom corner via a deflection off Matias Iglesias. The substitute could have added another, but despite the hosts holding the upper hand in the first half, Brazilian Chumbinho caused several moments of concern. First, his shot was saved by Krul and then the Newcastle keeper evaded a red card and a penalty in the same moment when he seemed to have brought down the Brazilian after he fumbled Denis Epstein's shot although, on replays, there was some suggestion that Chumbinho may have kicked Krul's hands and then fallen over rather than the other way round. The referee decided to book the Atromitos forward for diving. Newcastle looked comfortable to begin with after the break and Obertan could have doubled the lead on the night, as former Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws keeper Itandje parried his firm shot. But as the time ticked away, the visitors grew more dangerous and they missed a golden chance when Iglesias's shot was deflected into the path of Dimoutsos, but he blazed wide of the post from an angle about ten yards out. There were a few more nervy moments for Newcastle's defence before Alan Pardew was able to celebrate his first managerial success in European competition, whilst both Dan Gosling and Marveaux shooting wildly over when well-placed late on. The decent crowd of twenty nine thousand two hundred and forty two greeted the final whistle with a certain amount of relief as United completed the job, although Taylor's injury was a major disappointment on an otherwise satisfactory night in Toon.

Incidentally, to any dear blog readers watching the game on ITV4, is yer actual Keith Telly Topping on drugs or does than not look like the TARDIS on Atromitos's shirts?
A team in Romania was thrashed 31-0 (that's THIRTY ONE - nil) against lower league opposition. The cup match saw second division side CS Buftea face third division side ACS Berceni, but at half-time, ACS Berceni were already leading twelve goals ahead. Berceni scored another nineteen goals in the second half without reply. CS Buftea had fielded a team of mostly teenagers, and fell to reportedly the heaviest defeat in Romanian football. Stephen Stana, president of the winning side ACS Berceni, told local media: 'I'm ashamed to tell you the score. But it's not our fault that [CS Buftea] disregarded the competition.' CS Buftea won promotion to the second division last season.

And, finally, that really annoying bell-end out of Blur, Alex James, and odious buffoon Jamie Oliver are to host a new music and food festival in Oxfordshire this weekend. Jamie Oliver presents The Big Feastival is being held at the Blur bassist's farm in Kingham. More than ten thousand people are expected to attend two days of music headlined by Paloma Faith (presumably with her jubilee sick bag, which might come in handy given who's she likely to be meeting) and Texas. The vile and wretched Oliver will, apparently, also 'show off his drumming skills' on stage with James for a one-off performance in a band. Called Knob Cheese, one imagines.

Sometimes, dear blog reader, a song will just present itself for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. This is just one such occasion.

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