Sunday, August 26, 2012

In My Dream I'm A Western Hero

Doctor Who showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has said that the show has the capacity to be a money spinner for the BBC for generations to come. Doctor Who, along with Strictly Come Dancing and Top Gear, is one of a handful of BBC formats which, thanks to their commercial exploitation both in Britain and, especially, overseas, not only pay for themselves but, also, a decent-sized proportion of the rest of the BBC's output. Moffat, the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama's executive producer and head writer, said the new series - which returns next Saturday with Asylum of the Daleks - would be a season of 'blockbuster' episodes. Asked about his budget for the show, Moffat said: 'I"m never going to say I've got enough. That's like asking would you like to be more happy, of course I'm going to say yes I want more money. They don't starve us, Doctor Who is incredibly well-looked-after by the BBC. I truly believe it could be a show that outlives everybody in this room, it doesn't just make money now it could make money forever,' Moffat told the Edinburgh International Television Festival on Saturday morning. He said that the new series would be a 'blockbuster every single week, let's not have a cheap episode, let's make them all huge. Last year we did an arc [storyline]. Next year we will do something else. Every year we have to go in a particular direction. It shouldn't feel like good old cosy Doctor Who.' On the long-mooted possibility of a film version of Doctor Who, Moffat said: 'There's often been talk about a movie, I'm sure we should do one. What I keep saying is it can't ever be allowed to interfere with the television show, that's the mothership, that's the thing that will go on forever.' Moffat said changing viewing habits meant 'about half or just under' of the show's regular eight to ten million audience watch Doctor Who when it first screens on BBC1, the rest catching up on timeshift and iPlayer. 'We no longer watch TV when schedulers tell us we should and that's right,' he said. 'Your bookcase doesn't tell you when to read a book.' Asked about his choice of writers on the show, Moffat said: 'If it's your first television show you have written you are going to screw up royally, I tend to favour highly experienced television writers for the sake of my sanity. We do go outside of the circle. It's a tough old job. No brand new TV writer should be tackling this one. It's hard.' Moffat said he wanted to make the Daleks scary again in the new run. 'Kids are supposedly frightened of Daleks but they take them to bed. Is there a way we can make them scarier, get them back to being more monstery? I hope they will leave them outside their bedroom doors, was my response to that. There is a tremendous temptation to go kitsch and sweet with the Daleks. You shouldn't. They are insane tanks.' Moffat asked the audience for a show of hands whether they would continue watching the show with a female Doctor, but appeared unconvinced by the prospect. 'It is a part of Time Lord lore, it can happen. I don't know, who knows? The more often it's talked about, the more likely it's going to happen.' One audience member said he could 'take it for a couple of episodes.' Yer actual naughty Moffat joked: 'That wouldn't be very nice on the young lady involved.'

Matt Smith's first Doctor Who episode The Eleventh Hour has finally lost its position as the most accessed programme on the BBC iPlayer since the launch of the service in 2007. Smudger's debut episode as The Doctor had clung to the top of the list since May 2010, shortly after it was shown on BBC1. The episode has seen off attempts by other dramas such as Sherlock, comedies like Come Fly With Me and documentaries like Frozen Planet to dislodge it from the top spot, to retain the title of the most popular programme on iPlayer, ever. The two year reign at the top came to an end a couple of weeks ago when BBC Sport claimed the crown with the Opening Ceremonies of London 2012 which has been accessed around 3.4 million times, overtaking The Eleventh Hour which currently stands at 2.85 million requests. Doctor Who still retains the second place in the table, comfortably ahead of the third placed Sherlock episode A Scandal in Belgravia.

And, speaking of ratings the vastly amusing disaster that is Red or Black? continues to provide chuckles for the nation. 3.42 million punters watched the 7pm episode of the game show flop - beaten by BBC1's nineteenth showing of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (3.65m) whilst 3.7m sad, crushed victims of society watched the 9pm edition of the Ant and/or Dec vehicle form the Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef from Crossroads stable. That was also beaten, soundly, by Casualty's 4.12m. Horrorshow. At least ITV could be reasonably pleased with what was sandwiched in-between the fiasco that is Red or Black? The second episode of the new series of The X Factor had an average audience of 8.4m with a further four hundred and seventy five thousand punters watching on ITV+1 and a peak audience of over ten million. That's a fraction up on last week's season opener figure of 8.1m but still somewhat down on the audiences the show was attracting this time last year. Nevertheless, it's still a very good overnight rating but, I'd except a bunch of tabloids to be running 'X Factor ratings crisis' stories if they haven't got anything else to talk about on Bank Holiday morning. To complete the night, BBC1's Match of the Day (3.89m) gave The Jonathan Ross Show (2.52m) a damned good hiding. BBC2's highlight was another Dad's Army repeat pulling in 2.29m at 7:30pm.

The Olympics organisers considered using Helen Mirren to act as a double for the Queen in the opening ceremony's spoof James Bond sequence if the monarch had declined their invitation to participate. Sadly for Helen, Her Maj proved up for the gig. Martin Green, head of ceremonies for the Olympics ceremonies said that he and the director, Danny Boyle, were pleasantly surprised the Queen had agreed to do it and they had originally planned to use a body double. The duo discussed using Mirren – who played the Queen in the film of the same name – if the royal family agreed to allowing them to film in Buckingham Palace. 'We did talk about Helen Mirren,' said Green at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. 'Danny and I went to see her private secretary.' Err, that's the Queen's private secretary, not Helen Mirren's. At least, we presume it was. 'We showed him in storyboard form what we wanted to do. He took it away to show to the Queen and the answer came back "yes." At the time we thought we were going to do it with a body double. And the big surprise came was when we said "We need to address the sensitive subject of a body double" and they said "Why? She's going to do it,"' Green told the delegates at the event. Speaking for the first time about the ceremony, Green said the Opening Ceremony took two years to plan and their mission was to create 'a live Danny Boyle film.' Asked whether anything had gone wrong on the night which drew a peak of more than twenty seven million TV viewers in Britain, he replied that there had not. He rejected the assertion that it was 'too left-wing', as claimed by some particularly scummy - right-wing - critics including the Tory MP Aidan Burley who tweeted on the night that it was 'multicultural crap.' It was also less than popular with a couple of disgusting bully boy thug scumbags of no importance at the Daily Torygraph and the Daily Scum Mail and with billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch. So, that's a collective you really want to belong to, isn't it? Green added that the thinking behind the event was a 'great celebration of our institutions.' He was less unequivocal about the Closing Ceremony and betrayed some frustration over George Michael's much-criticised decision to use his spot to showcase his new single 'White Light'. Martin refused to give a straight answer to the question about why the singer was allowed to sing a new song rather than something everybody knew as ever other act on the bill did, saying the singer felt 'passionately' about performing it and that he was 'really glad to see George in the show.' Green revealed that the Opening Ceremony for the Paralympics on Wednesday will be 'very different,' featuring classical music, opera and science sequences inspired by the competitors' life stories. The BBC's head of Olympics coverage, Roger Mosey, denied that the corporation was wrong not to have bid more for the Paralympics, which will be shown by Channel Four, saying it was good that another broadcaster was involved. Presenter Hazel Irvine, one of the main anchors of the BBC coverage, said she would have found it difficult to muster the same levels of energy to front another games so soon. 'I would find it hard to climb the mountain again,' she said – but added that thought the BBC could have 'fought harder' to get the Paralympics rights. Mosey conceded however that it had 'turned up' the coverage of the Paralympics on Radio 5Live, which has the radio rights, but denied it had judged it wrong by not handing over the station to the games for the same 6am to 1am coverage it afforded the main event. He confirmed that BBC director general Mark Thompson intervened towards the end of the Olympics to address alleged jingoism, but said it was right as both he and Thompson thought there were small gaps in coverage of non-British stars.

ITV boss Peter Fincham has insisted that Daybreak won't become successful overnight. So, in that regard, it's reliably consistent. The notorious, risible ITV breakfast flop will be completely overhauled next month, with Lorraine Kelly and Aled Jones taking over from interim hosts Kate Garraway and Dan Lobb on 3 September. Because it's shit and no one is watching it. Daybreak has struggled both in term of the ratings, its audience appreciation index figures and for even a smidgen on credibility, since it launched with odious greed bucket pairing Adrian Chiles and the Curiously Orange Christine Bleakley in 2010. They were subsequently, and very amusingly, sacked for being a wasted of both money and, indeed, oxygen. Daybreak currently attracts around seven hundred thousand punters a day - half that of rival BBC Breakfast. 'Daybreak will have a new studio and a new on-air look,' the Sunday Mirra quotes Fincham as saying. 'We're particularly excited about Lorraine and Aled joining as presenters. We have a very strong editorial team who are committed to making this show as good as it possibly can be, but it's something that doesn't happen overnight.'
Labour's deputy leader, Mad Harriet Horrorshow, has accused Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond of 'espousing unrealistic plans' to break up the BBC – and that it would be better for the nation to keep the public service broadcaster even if it became independent. She argued that a new Scottish broadcaster on a three hundred and twenty million smackers a year budget would have to take on additional overheads currently centralised in London such as 'an additional BBC Trust' – the corporation's regulatory and governance body – and that 'looking into the details of what he is saying, it might very much unravel.' Horrorshow, speaking at Edinburgh on Saturday morning - at a session opposite Steve Moffat and, therefore, hardly attended by anyone of any consequence - argued that Salmond should adopt the same policy his party adopts regarding the monarchy and pledge to keep the institution intact in an independent state. The SNP should 'not break it up,' she said. Her intervention is a clear sign that Labour believes there is political capital to be made in defending unity of the BBC ahead of an independence referendum vote in 2014. Scottish homes pay about nine per cent of the overall BBC licence fee. The politician's comments found a little support from Richard Klein, the BBC4 controller, who said that 'I can't imagine the services will be as good. We have a lot of money you can amalgamate, amortise.' The BBC executive went on to compare a potential Scottish broadcaster to Irish public broadcaster, RTE – held up by Salmond as one model for an independent Scottish public service broadcaster. 'I do a lot of work with RTE, they are rather envious of the financial standing of the BBC,' Klein said. Salmond said an independent Scottish PSB could adopt the RTE funding model, which mixes public money and advertising revenue.

Richard Klein said that the five million quid budget cut being forced on BBC4 will not 'break' the channel, shortly before his network picked up the digital channel of the year award at Edinburgh. However, the BBC4 controller admitted that the loss of drama, entertainment and history shows will make it almost impossible to maintain its record ratings. Klein put a brave face on what a ten per cent cut to its £54.3m annual budget as part of the Delivering Quality First cost-saving project will mean – just over forty nine million knicker of that is spent on programming. But the audience at Klein's session was left with a picture of a bleak and austere future for the channel. 'The BBC4 budget has been reduced significantly, the reality is that BBC4 opportunities are much more limited,' said Klein. 'I don't think the channel is broken. It is a real shame BBC4 is losing drama, history and entertainment. That said my job is to make the best of it. I regret losing drama, I'd love to keep it but it's going.' BBC4 is currently enjoying its best viewing figures in its ten-year history – audience share has doubled to 1.7 per cent and weekly reach is close to ten million – thanks to shows including The Killing, Borgen, Spiral and Twenty Twelve. 'It will be quite difficult to certainly maintain that share, I don't even know if it is possible,' he said. 'It is quite hard to be absolutely sure sure about this sort of thing. I think the share and reach will level off or decline slightly.' He added that it might be possible to keep BBC4's strong audience figures intact, but that would require looking at how repeats are used and being tactical with acquisitions. 'We have been very smart about acquisitions and repeats,' he said. 'It is just possible if we keep doing that we could hold the line a bit. We're pretty relevant to a lot of people even if we decline a bit.' The budget cuts will be introduced on a staged basis. A spokeswoman for BBC4 said that due to the commissioning cycle history programmes will remain on the channel for most of next year, while new UK originated drama will largely disappear by April. Klein said that BBC4 is also facing a tougher market with rivals, particularly Sky Arts, posing a real challenge to the dominance the channel has traditionally enjoyed in its niche. 'Another aggressive arts player in town is a good thing,' he said. 'We are in competition to some extent [with BSkyB]. There is no doubt that Sky has really upped its game. The BBC is no longer the first port of call and Channel Four is in the game too.' BBC4 is also close to signing a deal to acquire Parks and Recreation, the hit US comedy, which will form a central plank of a slate of comedies that will be broadcast next year.

Producers of British television drama are toasting the likely introduction of a tax credit that is set to usher in 'a new golden age.' It has become established practice for big budget dramas to base their filming abroad to take advantage of tax credits. But with the government planning to roll out the generous incentive next April, many experts predict that a series of major shows will now be filmed at home as production costs decrease. Parade's End, the BBC's latest period drama which started on Friday, was partly shot and edited in Belgium and its production manager described mocking up one hundred yards of English hedgerows, full of wildflowers, in large pots. When Wars of the Roses, based on the novels by Philippa Gregory, starts production shortly, it will also be based in Belgium, with its well-preserved castles standing in for the Tower of London and other key flashpoints. The most expensive UK drama costs at least one million quid an hour, but the new tax credit will create a more level playing field. At the Edinburgh International Television Festival, Ben Stephenson, controller of BBC drama, said: 'It is very, very, good news. I suspect more dramas will be filming here.' At a session devoted to the progress and implications of the tax credit, Andy Harries, chief executive of Left Bank Pictures, which makes dramas ranging from Wallander and Strike Back to Mad Dogs, said: 'That's what it's all about, bringing drama back here.' Stephen Bristow, from the accountants RSM Tenon's film and TV department, estimated the change would bring one billion smackers into the economy. 'We have a great groundswell of talent in production, cast and crew but are the only country that doesn't offer tax incentives,' he said. 'I talk to all the major American companies and they are all very interested because of the depth of talent here and the potential tax incentives. Before the announcement of the TV tax credit, Britain was off the map, it was not considered as TV production location. Now it's back on the map.' In contrast, Nigel Stafford Clark, producer of notorious drama flop Titanic, said he had desperately wanted to film the ITV mini-series screened around the April centenary at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Northern Ireland where the ship was built. Budget restrictions forced him to build a huge water tank outside Budapest instead. Birdsong, the adaptation of Sebastian Faulks's first world war novel, was also filmed there. Pippa Harris, executive producer of The Hollow Crown, the acclaimed BBC films of four of Shakespeare's history plays, said: 'We only just managed to make them in the UK. It was very hard.' With the prospect of further adaptations to come, the tax change would make all the difference, she added. Details on the tax incentive plan are still being formulated, but campaigners have called for it to be based on the UK's film tax credit. John McVay, chief executive of Pact, the producers' trade body, and a member of the Treasury working group drawing up the scheme, said he was confident that it would start on 1 April 2013, provided clearance under state aid rules from the European Commission was obtained. He said work was well advanced but not finalised in deciding the cultural criteria tests on which productions would be eligible to claim back up to twenty per cent of the production budget. 'It's not about subsidy, it is about bringing offshore production back to the UK,' he said. But he added that the scheme, backed by the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt, was also about 'driving inward investment' into Britain from American and other producers, as has happened in the film industry. No one at the Edinburgh Festival was firmly committing to switch production back to the UK until the tax break is confirmed, but BBC2 did announce plans to make Wolf Hall, an adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Booker prize winner about the rise of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII and the sequel, Bring Up The Bodies. Its location could be an acid test of whether the new regime is working.

The award-winning director behind the Seven Up series has spoken for the first time of his disappointment and bitterness that a dispute with Mick Jagger prevented the release of a potentially landmark Rolling Stones documentary he shot a decade ago. Michael Apted revealed that he occasionally screens a rough cut of a feature-length documentary, which includes footage of rehearsals and the opening dates of the Rolling Stones' record breaking fortieth anniversary Licks tour, for friends. However, the film, shot in 2002, has never been commercially released. Apted said that Jagger told him during a meeting in Las Vegas that the film he had delivered as a rough cut would 'not do the band any good,' adding that The Rolling Stones singer had brought 'his hitman in to deal with it.' Apted added that the project, on which he worked for several months, was then shelved indefinitely after he and Jagger failed to agree on cuts. 'I did the film and showed them a very rough cut and Mick said "fine, finish it." So I finished it and then I took it – I'll never forget it – to Las Vegas to show him and he said: "We can't have this, this is not doing the band any good,"' Apted claimed during an interview at Edinburgh on Friday. He added that Jagger asked him to take twenty minutes out of the rough cut, which was one hundred and five minutes long. 'I said "all right." So I did it and thought it was horrible. And I sent it back to him and there was silence,' Apted recalled in Edinburgh. 'Then eventually he came back and said "take another twenty minutes out of it." And I said "fuck off."' Apted, seventy one, helped choose the child interviewees for Seven Up in 1964 and has directed every series of the landmark documentary since then as it has followed the fourteen subjects at seven-year intervals. He said he was asked to do the Stones project after working on the 2001 movie Enigma, which Jagger produced. He spent time with the band in Paris, filmed them during six weeks of rehearsals in Toronto and covered the opening three dates of the Licks tour in Boston in September 2002. The mammoth show was on the road for more than a year and was then the second-biggest grossing tour of all time, seen by more than 3.4 million people and bringing in three hundred million dollars. Apted - who also directed the Bond movie The World Is Not Enough - claimed that Jagger later apologised and thanked him for his work on the documentary. But he said as far as he was aware the film had never been released in its full form, though he thought some of the footage appeared on the tour DVD. Asked about the project by Mark Lawson, the broadcaster and journalist, Apted admitted: 'Yes, that was bitter.' He added: 'I've still got it. I don't think they've ever released it. I occasionally show it to people. It was never dubbed or anything so it's a bit of a mess. That was a real disappointment. There are lots of other directors who've done the same things [with The Rolling Stones] and only the blandest films have ever made it through, like the [Martin] Scorsese thing.' Scorsese directed Shine a Light, the 2008 documentary which mixed archive material with footage of The Stones filmed in 2006. 'Mine was good because it was very emotional,' Apted said. 'They gave me a lot of contact, Charlie [Watts] and all of them. It was about their lives. What was great about it in a way was you could see they loved playing together. They were amazing. I remember they had this huge arena in New England they were playing and they came on, they were doing a soundcheck. And they started making up this blues song – it was beautiful. And I filmed it. Because their rap is they come out of retirement, make a big tax killing, make a ton of money. But they were really wonderful playing with each other. And I'd never seen a film about that.'

A young mountain lion has been caught trying to sneak into a casino in Nevada. The bad cat. The 'underage' animal attempted to slip into the downtown Reno venue ahead of the breakfast rush, according to The AP. Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy said the male cat's behaviour was 'almost the equivalent of being a stupid teenager.' He added that coming-of-age cougars often end up in inappropriate locations after being chased out of a territory by adults. Guests at Harrah's spotted the mountain lion trying to walk into the casino on Friday morning. He struggled to work the revolving door and took refuge under an outdoor stage in a nearby plaza. State wildlife officials tranquilised the two-year-old animal and plan to release it back into the wild after tagging it for participation in a University of Nevada study. No injuries were reported following the incident.

Jerry Nelson, the puppeteer and voice of Sesame Street's Count von Count, has died aged seventy eight. For more than forty years, Nelson worked on numerous projects featuring Jim Henson's Muppets, including the TV series Fraggle Rock. Nelson, who suffered from emphysema, died on Thursday in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. A Sesame Workshop statement said that he would be remembered for 'the laughter he brought to children worldwide.' Nelson was born in Oklahoma and raised in Washington DC. He began puppeteering for Bil Baird, who produced and performed the puppetry sequence for 'The Lonely Goatherd' in the film version of The Sound of Music. Nelson's first job with the Muppets was The Jimmy Dean Show in 1965 - replacing Frank Oz as Rowlf the Dog's right hand. He went on to work again with Henson on Sesame Street, going on to animate some of the long-running show's best-loved characters including Mr Snuffleupaguss. But it was his mathematics-obsessed Count von Count, modelled on Bela Lugosi's interpretation of Dracula, with which he became most closely associated. He continued to voice the character from 1972 until his death, though he ceased operating the puppet in 2004. Nelson also performed many other characters on The Muppet Show, including Pigs in Space regular Dr Julius Strangepork, the boomerang fish-throwing Lew Zealand and Kermit the Frog's nephew Robin. The Sesame Workshop said: 'He will forever be in our hearts and remembered for the artistry in his puppetry, his music, and the laughter he brought to children worldwide through his portrayal of Count von Count, Herry Monster, Fat Blue, Sherlock Hemlock, The Amazing Mumford and many other beloved characters. We will miss his extraordinary spirit and the joy he brought to our Street.' Paying tribute on its Facebook page, Lisa Henson, the CEO of the Jim Henson Company, added: 'Jerry Nelson imbued all his characters with the same gentle, sweet whimsy and kindness that were a part of his own personality. He joined The Jim Henson Company in the earliest years, and his unique contributions to the worlds of Fraggles, Muppets, Sesame Street and so many others are, and will continue to be, unforgettable.'

Neil Armstrong, astronaut, the first man to set foot on the Moon, has died at the age of eighty two. His family said that he died from complications from heart surgery he had earlier this month. Armstrong walked on the Moon on 20 July 1969, famously describing the event as 'one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.' Last November Armstrong received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian award. He was the commander of the Apollo 11 spacecraft. More than five hundred million TV viewers around the world watched its touchdown on the lunar surface. Armstrong and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the moon. Aldrin told the BBC's Newshour programme: 'It's very sad indeed that we're not able to be together as a crew on the fiftieth anniversary of the mission. [I will remember him] as a very capable commander.' Apollo 11 was Armstrong's last space mission. In 1971, he left the US space agency NASA to teach aerospace engineering. Neil Alden Armstrong was born in Ohio on 5 August 1930. His father worked for the state government and the family were constantly on the move as he took up new positions. Armstrong took his first flight aged six with his father and formed a passion for aeronautics that would last all his life. His hero was Charles Lindbergh, and by the age of sixteen he could fly before he could drive a car. Already a decorated hero after flying Navy fighters in the Korean War, Armstrong became a test pilot for the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, NASA's forerunner after leaving the military. Armstrong served as one of an elite group selected to pit technology against nature's limitations. In 1962, John F Kennedy had promised to have a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. With the Russians already sending men into space, Americans were determined to fulfil this pledge, so money and support for the NASA Apollo programme were plentiful. Armstrong was one of the second astronaut groups - 'the New Nine' - along with the likes of Pete Conrad, John Young and Jim Lovell. During the Gemini 8 mission, Armstrong had managed to correct a spinning space capsule and save the lives of himself and his co-pilot, Dave Scott. Neil was famously shy, almost taciturn, but his flying skills made him the natural commander of Apollo 11. By 1969, the team was ready to fulfil Kennedy's promise. In a spacecraft which had control systems with less than a thousandth of the computing power of a modern laptop, Armstrong and his colleagues Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins made for the Moon. People across the world bought television sets for the first time to witness their endeavour, and more than half a billion watched every moment of Apollo 11's arrival on the lunar surface on 20 July. After steering to avoid large rocks, Armstrong had only twenty seconds of fuel left when he finally landed the module safely between boulders. From inside the capsule, he reported back to an emotional Mission Control in Houston that 'the Eagle has landed.' Correspondents said Armstrong remained modest and never allowed himself to be caught up in the glamour of space exploration. 'I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer,' he said in February 2000, in a rare public appearance. In a statement, his family praised him as a 'reluctant American hero' who had 'served his nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut.' Back on Earth, the crew received global adulation and honour, and were feted like movie stars wherever they went. But, after the initial publicity round, Armstrong refused to cash in on his singular celebrity. The man who was revered as a hero by the American public and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work, shunned the limelight and the prospective fortune that came with it. Instead, he lived in the seclusion of his Ohio farmhouse, taught engineering at the University of Cincinnati and later went into business. He gave only occasional speeches and his most surprising sortie back into the public arena came in the form of a series of Chrysler commercials. He once explained, 'I don't want to be a living memorial,' and while his fellow astronauts trod a precarious path through post-Moon renown - Buzz Aldrin suffering alcoholism and a breakdown - Armstrong remained happy to 'bask in obscurity.' Only reluctantly did he join his fellow astronauts for anniversary celebrations of the Moon landing. In 1999, thirty years later, he stood with Aldrin and Collins to receive the Langley medal for aviation from then Vice-President Al Gore. Marked by a personal humility that meant he scarcely mentioned his own space voyages, Armstrong was nonetheless able to inspire a group of students that met him that day. He told them, 'Opportunities will be available to you that you cannot imagine.' No-one has walked on the Moon since 1972 and, for many people today, the idea of landing there again has been overtaken by the prospect of missions to Mars and beyond. But, the millions around the world who sat glued to their television sets in July 1969 saw their most fantastic dreams made real. For them, the shy man from Ohio opened a fresh frontier and there will be no forgetting Neil Armstrong and his awe-inspiring achievement.

Louise Clarke, one of the founding members of Top of the Pops dance troupe Pan's People, has died aged sixty three. Clarke died from heart failure at Ipswich Hospital in Suffolk on Saturday with members of her family at her side, her publicist Philip Day said. Pan's People first appeared in 1968 and spent eight years as the resident dancers on the weekly music show. Louise is the second member of the group to died. Founder Flick Colby died at the age of sixty five in May last year. Day, who has been a publicist for Pan's People for more than forty years, said Louise 'was a lovely, lovely lady, she was a real darling. Of all the clients I have had the good fortune to represent during all of those years, they were perhaps the most fun to work with, certainly the easiest to work with, were loyal to a fault and the very best at what they did.' Louise left the group in 1974 to start a family. The group's final appearance on Top of the Pops was in April 1976, when they danced to Silver Star by The Four Seasons.

And, that brings us nicely to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, which features Pan's People dancing to The Four Seasons 'Silver Star'. Introduced by yer actual, sen-sational Tony Blackburn. Ah, them was the day.
And, finally, as a special bonus here's Louise, Babs Ruth, Andi, Dee Dee et al shaking their groove thang to T Rex in 1971. Tasty.

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