Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I Don't Believe That Anybody Feels The Way I Do

Several images from the forthcoming seventh series of Doctor Who have been released by the BBC. And, boy do they look shit-hot in their hotness. Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill appear across a selection of set pictures from the popular long-running family SF drama's first three episodes of series seven - Asylum of the Daleks, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and A Town Called Mercy. It's been a long wait since Christmas, but it's nearly upon us.
Such was the epic popularity of the BBC's coverage of the London Olympics that BBC1 took more than a third of all TV viewing and BBC3 overtook both Channel Four and Channel Five for the duration of the 2012 games. BBC1 had a 36.2 per cent share of all viewing across the seventeen days of the games, from Danny Boyle's spectacular Opening Ceremony on 27 August to the Closing Ceremony on Sunday. This was more than four times ITV's average all-day share of 8.3 per cent during the same period. While BBC1's audience share was up by nearly forty per cent on what it was attracting immediately before the Olympics (the channel averaged 22.2 per cent in the three months to the end of July), ITV's share of the audience fell by almost exactly the same percentage, compared with 13.6 per cent in the preceding three months. The last time BBC1 was regularly getting an audience share of this magnitude was in 1990, before the launch of Channel Five or digital TV and just a year after Sky began broadcasting its analogue satellite TV service. Then, the Beeb averaged thirty seven per cent across the year. BBC3, which like BBC1 showed almost blanket coverage of the Olympics and doubled its transmission time to become a twenty four-hour channel for the duration of the games, saw its all-day share rise to 4.8 per cent across the seventeen days. This compares with 1.7 per cent in the previous three months. The BBC channel leapfrogged Channel Four, which had an all-day share of 3.4 per cent (excluding Channel 4 +1), and Channel Five, which had a miserable three per cent share of viewing. Another ratings success was the BBC's twenty four dedicated Olympics channels, available to satellite and cable viewers, which collectively averaged a five per cent audience share across the seven days to Sunday 5 August. The most popular individually was BBC Olympics One, averaging 1.2 per cent across that period. BBC2's ratings were also buoyed by intermittent games coverage and by a number of big-rating BBC1 shows which switched to the second channel during the Olympics, including EastEnders and Holby City. However, overall BBC2's all-day share - 5.6 per cent - was still a fraction down on their average for the previous three months. Breaking the audience figures down further, BBC1 had an all-day share of 34.7 per cent in the first week of the Olympics, rising to 37.5 per cent in the second week (once Britain started winning a few gold medals). ITV recovered slightly from the first week's share of 8.4 per cent – its worst ever weekly ratings performance – to 8.7 per cent for the second week of the games.

One thing this blogger hasn't seen talked about with regard to the Olympic Closing Ceremony was a rather queer little moment when Russell Brand sang 'Pure Imagination' on top of a psychedelic bus shortly before he - amusingly - massacred 'I Am The Walrus'. Nothing wrong with the performance, he did a very good job with it (even if, I think, he was miming) and, it's a beautiful song (written by one of Britain's finest songwriting partnerships, Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse) from one of the great children's movies of all time, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. But, here's the thing - the song was included, according to Hazel Irving's rather 'I'm reading this from a fact-sheet' commentary on the BBC, as 'a tribute to Roald Dahl and his contribution to children's literature.' Nothing wrong with that, either - something very definitely worth celebrating, I'd've said. Except that Dahl reported hated the film version of Willy Wonka. He didn't like the fact that many elements from his source novel had been changed and, especially, that the film concentrated more on Willy (whom he'd written as a rather minor, shadowy character) than on the little boy, Charlie. So, it was a bit odd to hear Roald being 'celebrated' by a song from a movie that had little to do with after writing the first draft of the screenplay and subsequently, publicly, criticised as being not to his tastes.

Superstars. Sorry, dear blog reader, I just always feel I have to play the theme tune whenever the subject of Superstars comes up. That, and talk about the time Kevin Keegan fell off his bike. That's the only two things anybody of a certain age will ever talk about regarding Superstars. Anyway, the popular sporting contest could be revived in the wake of the London 2012 Olympics, it has been alleged. BBC 'bosses' are said to be keen on bringing the classic sporting game show back to TV screens following the success of gold medal-winning athletes such as Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Sir Chris Hoy. 'The BBC want to harness the appeal of Team GB and has agreed Superstars is the best way to do it,' an alleged 'insider' allegedly told the Sun. Which means this is, almost certainly, a load of made-up bollocks. 'The programme will showcase their skills, but will be a bit quirky. How will Mo Farah get on in Chris Hoy's cycling shoes? Can Jessica Ennis add another skill to the seven she already has?' The BBC reportedly wants to relaunch Superstars next spring as part of Comic Relief, and the charity is understood to be entering negotiations with the format's rightsholder IMG. Sky are also reported to be interested in securing the rights to the show. Superstars sees athletes from across the world of sport competing against each other in a variety of athletic challenges. Originally broadcast by ABC in the United States, the programme first ran in the UK between 1973 and 1985, hosted by former Grandstand presenter David Vine and athletics commentator Ron Pickering. It was revived by the BBC for a second run between 2003 and 2005, while a team version featuring Steve Redgrave, Kelly Holmes, Roger Black and Mike Catt was broadcast on Channel Five in 2008. But it was shit and nobody watched it.

Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch his very self has claimed that the second series of Downton Abbey was 'fucking atrocious.' Personally, this blogger thought the first one was as well but, hey, nobody's interested in what I think. Except, perhaps, you dear blog reader. The actor told Reader's Digest that he was not a fan of last year's episodes. 'We're remembering that there was a world before the First World War,' Cumberbatch said of his role in BBC2's forthcoming Parade's End. 'We're living in a culture now that's revering, or having a nostalgia trip with, the beginning of the 1900s. Although Downton traded a lot on the sentiment in the last series. But we won't talk about that series because it was, in my opinion, fucking atrocious.' He added: 'There was that fear, yes. I thought, "Are we pandering to a taste?" But this is so much more sophisticated, so much more unusual. You rarely see a piece about this class of people that's this accurate, funny and pointed. We're not making some clichéd comment, "Oh, isn't it awful the way there's this upstairs-downstairs divide." This is about class and love, an elegy to a dying era. It's the final mad waltz of Edwardian society into this war-game idiocy.' Cumberbatch said of the era: 'Everyone was held in their place, but what was honourable about it was that there was a duty of care from the top down. That shouldn't be tied in with any sort of fat-faced, flatulent Cameron effort at what Toryism - horribly - is now.'

Snarling bitter old Red Jimmy McGovern's legal drama Accused returned to BBC1 with more than five million viewers on Tuesday night, while odious, unfunny Jack Whitehall's sitcom Bad Education bagged the highest viewing figures for a new comedy on BBC3. Sometimes, dear blog reader, the world just doesn't seem right. Accused, which began its second series with Sean Bean as a transgender character, was watched by 5.3 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm on Tuesday. It was up on the 3.2 million who watched the final - miserable - episode of the first series in November 2010. Accused predictably had the better of a second half of a Lewis repeat on ITV, watched by 2.9 million viewers between 8pm and 10pm. Bad Education, which Whitehall wrote as well as starring in, had eight hundred and thirty thousand viewers between 10pm and 10.30pm. It topped BBC3's previous highest comedy debut, Will Mellor sitcom White Van Man which debuted with seven hundred and sixty five thousand viewers. Another new sitcom, Sky Living's Gates, starring Joanna Page and Tom Ellis, began with two hundred and seventy eight thousand punters between 8.30pm and 9pm, including Sky Living+1. The BAFTA-winning Great British Bake Off returned to BBC2 with 3.5 million viewers, between 8pm and 9pm, including one hundred and thirty thousand viewers on BBC HD. It was up on the two million viewers who watched the opening episode of the first series in August 2010. The Great British Bake Off beat Channel Four's Supersize vs Superskinny repeat, which was watched by one million viewers also between 8pm and 9pm. The Rob Brydon Show, returning for a third series to BBC2, also had 1.4 million viewers between 10pm and 10.30pm.

A number of Great Britain's Olympic teams could lose their funding, despite the government recently announcing investment of five hundred and eight million smackers through to 2016. Athletes or sports which are not expected to reach the Rio Games in 2016 will not receive any coin whatsoever. Sports like handball and volleyball, which relied on host-nation places to compete in London, could be affected. So could swimming. 'There's no point funding sports that are not going to qualify,' said sports minister Hugh Robertson. The policy is known as 'no compromise.' Supporters of it say that it is the fairest and most accountable way of channelling public finances into developing elite level athletes for competition. Critics, however, insist that investment is needed to develop Britain's less popular sports to allow Britain to compete at international level. 'We will fund any sport where we think there is a realistic chance of a medal in Rio or in the 2020 Games. The base cut-off is if a sport does not qualify for an Olympics, that is very important,' clarified Robertson. 'But remember that even if there are sports that don't attract funding, they can still get funding through Sport England and so on to develop their talent into a position where they will qualify for a games in the future.' The British Volleyball Federation, who lost men's coach Harry Brokking on Tuesday through not being able to fund his salary, received over three and a half million quid from UK Sport in the build-up to London but did not meet their performance targets. Rower Katherine Grainger, who won a gold medal at London 2012 in the women's double sculls and has three other Olympic silver medals, insisted that elite sports funding must be based on an athlete or team's ability to succeed. 'This is accountable money, public money,' she said. 'It has to be based on performance and it always has been. Every athlete comes in knowing that if they perform there's more chance of the support and the funding being there. If they don't, they're not going to get that. So no-one's surprised if the better they are the more support they'll get.' And, we all know exactly which swimming team that was referring to. Baroness Sue Campbell, chair of UK Sport, said: 'Investing in sport in an expensive business - world class success is expensive. We are investing the viewers' money, whether its coming from the government or Lottery. To invest large amounts of public money in people who quite frankly aren't going to get there is not good investment.'

The Radio Times sold more than one million copies of its Olympics issue, including thirty per cent more than usual through retailers, making the publisher more than two million smackers in revenue. Retailers were flooded with an extra two hundred thousand copies of the London 2012 special edition for the first week of the Games, 28 July to 3 August, taking the total print run to 1.2m. The Radio Times produced a bumper London 2012 issue for that week, which included a seventy two-page pull-out covering the sixteen days of events of the Olympic Games. The issue ran with almost fifty per cent more pages than normal at two hundred and twenty. Radio Times publisher Exponent's gamble on Olympic fever paid off with an extra one hundred and eighty thousand copies sold through newsagents and retailers compared with what the listings magazine would typically expect to shift. The Olympics edition, which went on sale at an almost forty per cent premium over the typical £1.40 price at two quid, sold the most copies of any issue outside of the Radio Times's Christmas edition. 'Our readers expect a lot from Radio Times for national events like the games or the royal jubilee,' said editor Ben Preston. According to officially audited circulation figures the Radio Times sells about six hundred and ninety thousand copies on average per issue through retailers at this time of year. This means the Olympics issue probably sold about eight hundred and seventy five thousand copies through retailers, although this figure is not officially verified by Radio Times. In addition the title has more than two hundred and thirteen thousand subscribers - including yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self - meaning the official circulation figure for the London 2012 edition was close to 1.1m. In terms of gross revenue from the cover price the Radio Times would have taken £1.75m from newsstand sales, and perhaps about two hundred thousand knicker from subscribers, on the assumption that they pay about one quid an issue on average. Retailers keep a small percentage of the cover price of each copy sold, so the Radio Times will not receive all the revenue. The Radio Times will also have made hundreds of thousands of pounds from selling advertising in the bumper edition. This means that the Olympic issue is likely to have made gross revenues from advertising and cover price income of more than two million notes. Proctor & Gamble was the lead advertiser, sponsoring the seventy two-page pull-out. The publisher's Christmas editions regularly pull in one and a half million quid-plus in advertising. In total the Radio Times produced four editions that overlapped with the London 2012 Games: one in the week that ended with Danny Boyle's Opening Ceremony on Friday 27 July, the special edition which covered regular TV listings for the first week and had a pull-out for the entire event, an issue for the second week of the games and one covering the final weekend and Closing Ceremony. The Radio Times said that the three other issues outside the special edition received a combined sales boost of eighty thousand copies. Kathy Day, the Radio Times managing director, described it as a 'bonanza' for readers, advertisers, wholesalers and retailers.

The village of Shitterton in Dorset has topped a poll of Britain's most embarrassing place names. It beat nearby Scratchy Bottom and Aberdeenshire's Brokenwind into second and third place respectively. Shitterton had to install a 1.5 ton marble sign to replace the metal signs that were repeatedly stolen. The village is located in Dorset's Piddle Valley. Shitterton resident Ian Ventham told the Evening Standard that nobody from the village is affected by the name. 'Those of us who live here are not the least bit embarrassed by it,' he said. Other top ten entries include Ugley in Essex, Yorkshire's Crackpot and Crapstone in Devon.
A voyeur has pleaded guilty to attempting to spy on the Chinese Olympic swimming team in a women's changing room. Declan Crosbie, from Lea Farm Place, Leeds was caught peering over cubicles as members of the team were getting changed at a Leeds sports centre. Idiot. He could have stayed in the house and watched them on telly for free. When staff went to find the twenty five-year-old, he reportedly hid in a cubicle and tried to answer them in a woman's voice. Which, you have to admit, is enterprising at least. He then came out and begged staff not to call the police before running away. Crosbie will be sentenced on 17 September after being assessed for a sex offenders' programme, a judge said. A woman saw Crosbie entering the changing room at Leeds University's The Edge training facility, Leeds Crown Court heard. Members of the Chinese team, who were training at a pool ahead of the London 2012 Olympics, also made a complaint after spotting him looking over the top of cubicles while they were changing. Crosbie later handed himself in to police and pleaded guilty in July to trespass with intent to commit a sexual offence. He was previously jailed for three years in 2009 after trespassing in a private home and being found standing over a sleeping student, whose trousers had been pulled down. Crosbie also has convictions for voyeurism from 2005 and 2006. The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC, queried if the case should be fast-tracked under Olympic rules, but was told Crosbie had not specifically targeted the Chinese team members. He said: 'This offence is technically an Olympic offence because the victims were members of the Chinese swimming team who were training at facilities here in Leeds.' He told Crosbie he needed to be assessed in a bail hostel for twenty eight days before sentence could be passed.

Julian Assange will be granted political asylum in Ecuador, according to reports. The WikiLeaks founder is set to have his request granted by Ecuador president Rafael Correa later this week. A government official based in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito has gone on record as saying the request will be accepted, reports the Gruniad Morning Star. Assange - seen left, proving that he also does shadow puppetry as well as websites - has been 'in hiding' in London's Ecuadorian embassy after he failed in his appeal to prevent extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in regards to (possibly bogus, although that's yet to be established) sexual assault charges. Although, given the fact that everyone knows exactly where he is, 'in hiding' isn't, perhaps, the best description of his whereabouts. Assange's mother earlier this week said that she feared, should her son be extradited to Sweden, he could then face extradition to the US, where he might face the death penalty under the charge of espionage, for his role in the leaking of US military and diplomatic cables. Analysts suggest that Correa sees granting Assange asylum as a way of presenting himself as 'a champion of free speech' in the build-up to the February 2013 elections. The Ecuadorian president had previously appeared on Assange's TV show The World Tomorrow, the interview show funded by Russian television station Russia Today, where the two spoke for seventy five minutes in an informal discussion. However, even if Ecuador does grant the request, Assange may face arrest by British police as soon as he leaves the embassy for breaking the strict curfew conditions of his bail. of course, they could sneak him out whilst nobody is looking and get him on a diplomatic jet back to Quito. Have Equador even got a diplomatic jet? Probably not. Okay, well, they could get him on a diplomatic donkey, then.

A Surrey mansion which was owned by alcoholic Scouse wife-beating junkie John Lennon during the 1960s has gone on the market for a mere fifteen million quid. The ex-Beatle lived at Kenwood in the St George's Hill area of Weybridge in the mid-to-late 1960s and, as he himself confessed on several occasions, regularly gave Cynthia a damned good slap there. The musician is believed to have written most of his songs from Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Magical Mystery Tour at the one and a half acre property and Paul McCartney was a frequent visitor there for writing sessions. Estate agent Knight Frank is handling the sale of the 1920s mansion which has six bedrooms and an indoor pool, next to which Macca wrote 'Here, There and Everywhere' one day in 1966 whilst waiting for his stoned band-mate to get out of pit. The property is described as a 'luxuriously finished family home, formerly owned by John Lennon, set in about one and a half acres of exquisite gardens.' The description continues: 'An original 1920's Tarrant house, Kenwood is situated at the heart of the exclusive St George's Hill Estate, acknowledged as one of the UK's premier private residential addresses. The house occupies a superb plateau position set around St George's Hill's renowned golf course, tennis club and leisure amenities. Kenwood overlooks magnificent landscaped gardens and grounds and enjoys uninterrupted views of the Surrey Hills.' Kenwood also features in home movies that formed part of the 1988 documentary Imagine: John Lennon. Given Liam Gallagher's obsessive adoration of Lennon, expect a mysterious bid to arrive form the Manchester area very soon.

And speaking of the silly Gallagher, his brother Noel has mocked his brother's appearance at the London 2012 Closing Ceremony. Liam performed the Noel-written Oasis classic 'Wonderwall' on the final night of the Olympics with his post-Oasis band, Beady Eye. At a War Child benefit gig in London on Tuesday, Noel dedicated his own performance of 'Wonderwall' to 'Stratford's finest Oasis tribute band!' The gig, at Dingwalls in Camden, saw Noel play an intimate acoustic set comprised mainly of Oasis songs including 'Talk Tonight', 'Whatever', 'Half the World Away' and 'Don't Look Back in Anger'. The forty five-year-old also dedicated a version of 'Supersonic' to 'the great Mo Farah.' The singer-songwriter and High Flying Birds frontman recently declared that seeing Liam perform his songs with Beady Eye isn't really an issue because he 'gets paid every time they do one.'

Which leads us, nicely, to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And this is what it sounds like when the bloke what wrote it, sings it.

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