Thursday, August 30, 2012

Laugh Politely At Repeats

A series of new cinema-style posters for the upcoming season of Doctor Who have been revealed by the BBC. And, very nice they are too. Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill feature in the specially-made posters for Doctor Who's new season, which will lead up to the show's fiftieth anniversary special, next year. Four new images have been released to accompany the recently-released poster for Asylum of the Daleks. Series seven of the BBC's popular long running family F drama will include the departures of Gilllan and Darvill, who have played The Doctor's companions Amy and Rory since 2010. Episodes in the upcoming season will include Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and A Town Called Mercy. A return of The Weeping Angels and River Song is also expected in the fifth episode. Doctor Who will return to BBC1 and BBC America on Saturday 1 September with seventh series premiere. Tasty.
Oh yeah. Now I'm ready for Saturday.

Meanwhile, Smudger his very self has 'channelled' David Bowie - at least, according to the Digital Spy website - for a new photoshoot. 'I'm a huge Bowie fan,' Smudge said. Hey, aren't we all? 'I loved the Olympic Opening Ceremony because I thought, "How amazing, the plethora and heritage of music we have. Incredible! Wonderful!"' he added. Asked about the mid-series episode featuring The Weeping Angels, Smith added: 'It's terribly exciting because they're my favourite monster and it's one of my favourite cities. If I had my way I'd shoot the whole thing in New York.' He added on the subject of The Doctor: 'He does everything very quickly because he's got to. He's endless, he's boundless, he's limitless! He constantly allows you to reinvent him. That's what's interesting about this year. It's about what a new companion reveals in him.' Smith continued: 'It's like a Shakespearean tragedy, Doctor Who.' Only, with a sonic-screwdriver, obviously. Not many of those in King Lear. 'There's a theatre to it. Because every day you're either facing the end of the world, or the loss of the person you love most, or the invasion of the most appalling creature or alien that you can ever imagine. But in the face of that tragedy there is also comedy. It's about adventure.' The full interview and photoshoot appears in this month's Empire magazine, on sale this week.

The X Factor and Doctor Who will clash in the Saturday night schedules on 8 September for ten minutes it has been revealed. Doctor Who's second episode Dinosaurs on a Spaceship is scheduled to run from 7:35pm until 8.20pm on BBC1 whilst The X Factor will start on ITV at 8.10pm. Early schedules featured the two programmes overlapping for twenty minutes but ITV have now pushed the talent show later into the evening. This weekend's Doctor Who premiere will not clash with Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's entertainment series. Asylum of the Daleks ends at 8.10pm, just before The X Factor is due to start. The X Factor's ratings have been lower so far this series than last - albeit, not massively so. Nevertheless, the two episodes shown so far have both failing to reach the ten million viewing figures on overnights and forty per cent audience shares, both of which it was managing regularly during the opening audition rounds last year. However, ITV controller Peter Fincham has denied that there are any concerns about the ratings on the show, insisting that the vehicle has still 'got years' to run. He forgot to add 'I hope.'

Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill have said that a companion leaving Doctor Who 'makes really good telly.' The pair will depart their roles as Amy Pond and Rory Williams in the BBC family SF drama's upcoming episode, The Angels Take Manhattan. 'It's always emotional when a companion leaves, but that's what the show is about,' Darvill told Vulture. 'No-one can stay with The Doctor forever. It makes really good telly.' Gillan - who joined Doctor Who alongside Darvill in 2010 - explained that she has watched 'pretty much all the episodes beginning with the reboot in 2005. I actually love the way Catherine Tate left,' she said. 'It was so tragic, Donna not being able to remember any of her time with the Doctor. And in terms of performances, I loved watching David Tennant leave Billie Piper on the beach because she just looked like he was genuinely leaving. She was genuinely crying. Then there's Freema Agyeman. She had that unrequited love and had to get out. It was all pretty painful in a good way.' Both actors also admitted to taking items from the TARDIS set before filming their final scenes, including a magnifying glass and a pair of binoculars. 'I'm not sure they'll notice - there are so many little bits,' said Gillan. 'And also, they do tours for people to walk through the TARDIS and people take things slyly. Or, they think they're being sly.'

And finally for today's Doctor Who news, the fourth instalment of the web series spin-off Pond Life has been released online.
Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch his very self has discussed his role in Parade's End. The actor, who plays disgruntled aristocrat Christopher Tietjens in the BBC2 five-part series, said that the role is not generally the type he takes on despite popular opinion. Asked about his tendency to take on upper class hoity-toity roles, Cumberbatch told Shortlist: 'Ah, but it's a fat one this time. That's the difference. Seriously though, despite people's opinions, I haven't played that many aristocrats and landed gentry. Admittedly I do talk fast because I'm a public schoolboy, but I haven't even done many period dramas. I've oscillated between the First World War and the Georgian period. That's my niche.' Benny also revealed what drew him to the role, crediting writer Tom Stoppard and co-star Rebecca Hall with piquing his interest. 'Tom came and had tea with me at the National Theatre, which is always quite seductive. As soon as he asked me if I wanted a biscuit with my tea, I knew what was going on,' he recalled. 'Rebecca, who's a really good friend, sort of talked me around too. But really it's the book [by Ford Madox Ford]. It's the first modernist novel and it takes in consumerism, the First World War and the death throes of the upper classes through the prism of this love triangle. It's incredible.'

Coverage of the London Paralympics Opening Ceremony attracted an average audience of almost eight million viewers – making it one of the most-watched shows in Channel 4's thirty-year history. Wednesday night's curtain raiser to the eleven-day London 2012 Paralympic Games had an average of 7.6 million viewers, a forty per cent share of the audience, between 8pm and its later than expected finish about 12.20am. This is about five times the network's average audience on a Wednesday night over the past three months. The dramatic Opening Ceremony from the Olympic Stadium in East London, a fortnight after the end of the Olympics, had an astonishing fifteen-minute peak of 10.9 million viewers between 8.45pm and 9pm, and a five-minute peak of 11.2 million during the same period. This gave Channel Four a 25.7 per cent share of the peaktime audience between 6pm and 10.30pm, beating both BBC1 - with sixteen per cent - and ITV 's eleven per cent. Channel Four's all-day share, of 19.8 per cent, was also the biggest of any channel on Wednesday. This compares to the network's average all-day share of about six per cent over the past three months. The BBC's coverage of the Beijing Paralympics Opening Ceremony in 2008 had a five-minute peak of 2.8 million viewers. Channel Four's chief creative officer, Jay Hunt, said: 'Last night's Opening Ceremony was a spectacular start to the London 2012 Paralympic Games and I'm delighted that so many viewers enjoyed it with us. It kicks off eleven days of great sporting coverage on Channel Four.' The broadcaster, which spent about nine million quid on the rights to the Paralympics which previously had been shown by the BBC, is looking to the games to help redefine itself in the post-Big Brother era. If audiences for the BBC's coverage of the Olympics are anything to go by, the games will also give a big boost to the channel's audience over the next eleven days. Channel Four, like its commercial rivals ITV and Channel Five, suffered massively in the sixteen days of the Olympics as the BBC dominated the ratings and gave all of the opposition a damned good trousers-down shoeing. Although it will likely not hit the highs enjoyed by BBC1 – the Olympics Opening Ceremony peaked with more than twenty seven million viewers – Channel Four can certainly expect considerably more than its typical share of the audience of around six per cent. The broadcaster will show around one hundred and fifty hours of live coverage from the games, anchored by Clare Balding who attracted numerous plaudits for her role covering the swimming and equestrian events for the BBC during the Olympics. Channel Four has also undertaken a five hundred thousand smackers talent search to unearth new disabled presenting talent. The popularity of the Opening Ceremony inevitably hit audiences for shows on other channels. BBC1's risible gardening show The Flowerpot Gang had just 1.7 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm, while ITV documentary Britain Then and Now could only manage an even more desperate seven hundred thousand viewers between 9pm and 10pm. BBC2's The Culture Show at the Edinburgh Festival was watched by three hundred thousand punters between 10pm and 10.30pm. BBC1's Who Do You Think You Are?, featuring yer actual Patrick Stewart, drew 3.6 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm. Despite the heavier competition, BBC2's Vexed actually saw its audience grown slightly to nine hundred and fifteen thousand at 9pm, prior to which 1.72m watched Restoration Home. John Barrowman's Dallas managed eight hundred and fourteen thousand viewers at 10pm on Channel Five.

Sky controller Stuart Murphy has defended the distinctly underwhelming viewing figures for Rihanna's fashion TV show Styled To Rock. The Sky Living series does not appear to have rocked too many viewers' worlds as its highest set of overnight ratings to date came on Tuesday, but it still only drew an audience of one hundred and five thousand punters for the channel. Because, it's shit and it stinks, basically. You know, not to sugar-coat it or anything. Another dreadful vacuous celebrity vehicle aimed at some mythical - bone-thick - audience, interested in nothing but the lives of the rich and brainless, whom most TV executives appear to believe exist but, actually, don't. It was easily beaten in the overnights by, for example, a Celebrity Who Wants To Be A Millionaire repeat episode on Challenge and a Qi repeat on Dave. Murphy has insisted that he 'isn't concerned' by the figures, pointing out that the numbers for the first episode climbed to four hundred and forty thousand if they included repeats and catch-up services. Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival last week about the show's ratings, he said: 'It was trending on Twitter,' as thought nonsense like that means anything in the real world. 'Rihanna is the biggest star in the world,' he claimed. Err ... have we had a poll on that, pal? Cos I didn't get the memo if we have. 'Find me a channel controller who would turn down Rihanna in her own series.' Styled To Rock is executive-produced by Rihanna her very self and features Girls Aloud's Nicola Roberts and fashion designer Henry Holland as mentors. Cheryl Cole, Scissor Sisters and Katy Perry are among the special guests who have filmed appearances during the series. And, just to repeat, it's shit and it stinks.

ITV is set to drop the numeric one from its flagship channel for the first time in a decade as part of 'a forthcoming rebranding exercise,' according to a report. Of course, some of us never called it anything other than ITV and always believed this 'ITV1' nonsense was a load of old fekking toot. Broadcast claims that the rebrand of ITV is among a number of changes being made to the commercial broadcaster's network of channels. This includes the trademark yellow colour on the flagship ITV being phased out and a new set of idents - short video clips that accompany the starts of programmes - being introduced. The report also claims that ITV's digital channels - ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV - will be given a 'substantially different on-screen presence,' whatever the hell that means, although they will keep their existing names. An alleged ITV 'insider' allegedly told Broadcast that the rebrand is 'not just a paint job,' but is about 'boosting the overall ITV brand. This is a big undertaking and will have a sense of scale,' the alleged 'source' allegedly said. 'It is aimed at ensuring viewers attribute our content to the ITV brand.' Rufus Radcliffe, the group marketing and research director at ITV, is said to be leading the rebrand, which is ITV's first such exercise in the last six years. Previously at Channel Four, Radcliffe was behind the relaunches of E4 and More4, and he also introduced Channel Four's current 'floating logo.' ITV's branding changes were originally due to roll out in the autumn, but they have reportedly been pushed back to January, presumably to avoid clashing with The X Factor.

Lawyers for Neil Morrissey have been accused by the Daily Scum Mail of 'abusing' a no-win, no-fee arrangement by claiming costs of one hundred and thirty thousand smackers in a case in which the actor got damages of just fifteen thousand. However, the solicitor involved in the case over a horribly libellous article published in 2010 said that the allegations are 'absolute rubbish' of just the kind of nonsense you'd expect from scum the likes of them. And, that it is the Daily Scum Mail which is abusing the no-win, no-fee system, which is intended for those that cannot afford the cost of libel actions. Peter Crawford, who acted for Morrissey, added that the fees reflected the amount of work needed to 'extract a suitable retraction' out of the paper. The publisher of the Daily Scum Mail, Associated Newspapers, cited the lawyer's claim for costs as 'excessive' and 'a good example of abuse' of the legal rules, which allow lawyers to take on cases free of charge on condition they get paid if they win under a system of rules known as conditional fee agreements. 'The sum of one hundred and thirty thousand pounds is a remarkable level of costs in a case in which the defendant admitted liability within a few weeks of proceedings being issued, but is typical of the excessive costs charged by CFA-assisted lawyers in cases against newspapers,' Associated said in a new submission to the Leveson inquiry. Personally, I'd've concentrated on the words 'the client admitted liability' and reflect on how, if they hadn't published the unsubstantiated and libellous article in the first place, they wouldn't have had to pay anybody anything. I'm just saying. After being asked by Leveson to give the background to the Morrissey case and explain what the bloody hell they thought they were playing at, Associated claimed that the solicitors at Stitt & Co, Crawford's law firm, were claiming costs which included success fees of thirty four grand and seventeen grand for a barrister who offered 'behind the scenes advice' as the case was settled out of court. The Men Behaving Badly actor received a somewhat grovelling apology and the previously undisclosed damages of fifteen thousand smackers in January this year in relation to a quite disgraceful article published in 2010 which - wrongly - claimed that he was banned from a French bar for 'rowdy, drunken behaviour.' Not a smidgen of truth existed in the article in question. The paper later admitted to Morrissey that it 'could not verify' the story. Proceedings for libel were issued in June 2011 and six weeks later Associated capitulated according to the publisher's own chronicle of events, made public for the first time in its latest Leveson submission. According to the Associated submission, Morrissey offered to accept damages of forty five thousand quid but the Scum Mail - being the tight-fisted scum they are - offered only ten thousand. The actor then sought thirty thousand and finally agreed to fifteen grand from the publisher on 2 December 2011 and got permission to make a unilateral statement in open court. However, Crawford dismissed the claim that the fees his firm charged were excessive. 'The costs were properly incurred and charged at appropriate rates. The success fee reflected the risk of the litigation. They would have been lower had the Mail conceded the allegations were untrue and defamatory at an earlier stage,' he said. Or, indeed, not published them at all. 'It proved extremely difficult to extract a suitable retraction and a sufficient apology from the Mail. It is the Mail abusing the system by relying on the offer of amends procedure as a way of halving the damages that would otherwise have been payable to an individual who was seriously defamed.' He said Morrissey could not have afforded to take the Scum Mail on were it not for the CFA system. Three years ago the actor entered an individual voluntary agreement to help him repay debts of two and a half million smackers he had incurred after investing in property, including a hotel in Wales. Associated and other newspaper groups have criticised the increased use of no-win, no-fee arrangements. Earlier this year the former Times legal manager Alastair Brett said CFAs do give justice to 'impecunious and middle income claimants' but they were also a magnet for 'greedy solicitors,' some of whom he claimed doubled their normal hourly rate of five hundred notes. The high fees means that newspapers can face bills of hundreds of thousands of pounds to defend libel actions whether successful or not. Which is, of course, something that makes the average person's hearts bleed for the poor wee dears. In its Leveson submission, the Scum Mail quotes another CFA case of a claimant asking three national newspapers to cough up two hundred and thirty thousand knicker in legal fees. Lionel Barber, the editor of the Financial Times, also raised the cost of libel when he testified at Leveson in January saying news organisations are 'forced to employ highly expensive barristers and before you know where you are, you've seen one hundred thousand pounds plus disappear.' He warned that newspapers 'don't have that kind of money.' All of which goes to further suggest that, if you don't want to end up out of pocket, don't print libel.

Lord Sugar-Sweetie his very self has denied tabloid reports that he is preparing to axe Young Apprentice. The spin-off reality show, which will broadcast a third series in October, hasn't scored anywhere neat the same sort of ratings as its adult counterpart and the Sun newspaper alleged that Sugar-Sweetie was preparing to ditch it to focus on the original. However, Sugar-Sweetie quickly took to Twitter on Thursday morning to refute the allegation. 'Sun article about me wanting to stop Young Apprentice is total rubbish,' he wrote. 'If there are no more Young Apprentice series it will be the BBC who decide not me.'

The BBC Trust has ruled that Labour MP Diane Abbott should not have been paid for recent appearances on flagship political programme This Week. Abbott, a regular guest along with former Tory MP Michael Portillo and presenter Andrew Neil, has been paid thousands in appearance fees. The BBC claimed rules banning payments to MPs representing their parties did not apply as This Week was 'not a normal' political show. But this was rejected by the Trust. The Trust also ruled the MP's appearances had been 'too frequent' since she became a shadow minister. In January crossbench peer Lord Laird complained that Abbott had received five payments of eight hundred and thirty nine notes and one of eight hundred and sixty nine knicker for appearances on This Week. The BBC's editorial guidelines state that MPs should not be paid for appearances where they are 'speaking as a member of their party or expressing political views.' The guidelines allow for the payment of a realistic 'disturbance fee' to cover the time and inconvenience involved in appearing in a broadcast but Lord Laird argued that the payments to Abbott 'went beyond this.' Although ,what the hell it had to do with him, no one seems too sure. BBC director general Mark Thompson responded to the peer in February, passing on the views of This Week's producers. They said that while the guidelines state that they should not normally pay MPs to appear, This Week was 'not a traditional political programme.' They argued that, although Diane Abbott and Michael Portillo were asked to express political opinions, they also have a co-presenter role, interviewing other guests. Lord Laird - who clearly had nothing better to do with his time and chase around after nonsense like this - whinged again that the producers were being allowed 'to flout the BBC's own editorial policy' expressing 'surprise' at their assertion that This Week was 'not a normal political programme.' The Trust's Editorial Standards Committee ruled that payments to Abbott totalling six thousand seven hundred and twelve quid - recorded in the MPs' Register of Financial Interests - constituted a breach of the guidelines. Abbott, who is MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, was a regular presenter of This Week until 2010, when she ran for the Labour leadership in the 2010 contest won by Ed Milimolimandi. During the leadership campaign she was replaced on the programme by other Labour politicians including Caroline Flint and Charles Clarke. The new Labour leader appointed her to the front bench as shadow public health minister. At the time she tweeted: 'No more This Week. BBC management say I cannot be a shadow minister and be on the program [sic]. Sad.' The BBC Trust recorded a total of eight subsequent appearances by Abbott since she joined Milimolimandi's front bench team, with her role being filled by other well-known Labour MPs including former home secretary Alan Johnson. A spokeswoman for BBC News said that they 'note the findings' of the Trust. Doesn't necessarily mean to say they agree with it or, indeed, will take any notice of it, of course.
A sixty-year-old man, understood to be former Scum of the World head of legal Tom Crone, has been arrested in South-West London by police investigating phone-hacking. The man was arrested at his home at 06:45 BST on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications contrary to Section One of the Criminal Law Act 1977. Which, presumably, means he was dragged from his bed by The Peelers banging, hard, on his door at the crack of dawn with a 'come out, in the name of the law' and all that malarkey. Which is funny. It is understood that the arrest followed the passing of information from News International's management and standards committee and Crone had no prior notice that the police were coming to his gaff to make the arrest. He is the twenty fifth person arrested as part of the Operation Weeting investigation into phone-hacking. The Metropolitan Police launched Operation Weeting last year. It runs parallel to an inquiry into corrupt payments by journalists to public officials. Last month it was announced that eight people, including well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and the prime minister's 'chum' Andy Coulson, would face a total of nineteen charges relating to phone hacking. The two ex-Scum of the World editors are to be charged in connection with the accessing of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone messages. They are among seven of the disgraced and disgraceful paper's former staff facing charges of conspiring to intercept voicemails. The phone-hacking allegations led to the closure of the Scum of the World in disgrace, shame and ignominy in July 2011 and the setting up of the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics.

US network ABC has ordered a pilot for a TV series based on Marvel's SHIELD agency, to be written by Avengers Assemble director Joss Whedon. The fictional government peacekeeping organisation featured in Whedon's hit blockbuster, headed by Samuel L Jackson's character, Nick Fury. According to the director, the series will be largely 'autonomous' from the Avengers sequel due in 2015. He will also produce the show and may direct the proposed pilot episode. Disney announced earlier this month that Whedon would help develop a live-action TV series based on Marvel characters. It is not yet known if any of the stars of Avengers Assemble will appear in the pilot. If it becomes a full series, the show would mark Whedon's return to TV after the cancellation of his last two shows, Firefly and Dollhouse both of which won many critical plaudits but failed to find sufficiently high audiences to satisfy the networks. Prior to that Whedon had enjoyed huge success with the small-screen version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel. Both of which yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self was a bit partial to. Avengers Assemble - known as The Avengers in the US - was a global hit when it was released earlier this year. It went on to become the third biggest-grossing film ever, making $1.46 billion worldwide.

The Queen has declared the London 2012 Paralympics officially open, during a spectacular Opening Ceremony watched by some eighty thousand spectators. Britain's first Paralympic Games gold medallist, Margaret Maughan, eighty four, had the honour of lighting the cauldron. Paralympics chief Lord Coe told the crowd: 'Prepare to be inspired, prepare to be dazzled, prepare to be moved.' The Queen said: 'The games are returning to the country where they first began, more than sixty years ago.' The ceremony, co-directed by Jenny Sealey and Bradley Hemmings, signalled the start of elven days of competition by four thousand two hundred athletes from one hundred and sixty four countries, including more than three hundred athletes from the home nation. Wheelchair basketball, shooting, swimming and track cycling are among the events set to feature on the opening day. From Stephen Hawking, the Hadron Collider and The Big Bang, to the biggest apple bite, this was a very different opening to that of the Olympics. It may not have cost as much to put on, but it was just as ambitious. There were echoes of the Olympics with roles for Shakespeare's The Tempest and Tom Heatherwick's cauldron, as well as royals, flags and a parade of elite athletes. But though the light panels in the crowd created the same spectacular effect as in the Olympic opener, they have now become known as Paralympixels. At the Olympics opener, the key excerpt from The Tempest was Caliban's tribute to the 'Isles of Wonder.' This time, it was Miranda's marvelling at 'how beauteous mankind is' in her 'brave new world' speech. This was a ceremony that was more nuanced in its celebration of elite sport. A celebration of diversity. But no less of a celebration for that. Lord Coe told the crowd at the East London stadium: 'It is my great honour to say welcome home to the Paralympic Games.' He said Britain 'was ready' and the crowds in attendance would be 'unprecedented,' adding: 'These will be a games to remember.' Eight members of the British under-twenty two wheelchair basketball team were given the honour of carrying the Paralympic flag into the stadium. It was raised by members of the armed forces, before the Queen declared the games open. British swimmer Liz Johnson, a medallist from Beijing 2008, wheelchair rugby judge Richard Allcroft and David Hunter, who is coaching the ParalympicsGB equestrian team took the official oaths on behalf of competitors and officials. At the close of the ceremony, twenty four-year-old Royal Marine Commando Joe Townsend - an aspiring Olympic triathlete, who lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan - descended on a zip wire into the stadium from the top of the nearby Orbit tower. He handed the flame to David Clarke, a member of the ParlympicsGB five-a-side football team, who passed the torch to Maughan, who won gold in archery at the 1960 Rome Paralympics. She lit a tiny flame on the ground, igniting more than two hundred copper petals. Long stems then rose towards each other to form a cauldron, signifying unity. Like the impressive Olympic cauldron, it was made by designer Thomas Heatherwick, and one hundred and sixty six of the petals bore the names of competing nations at the Paralympics. Hemmings said it was 'extremely spectacular and like nothing you have seen in previous ceremonies.' The ParalympicsGB athletes earlier entered the stadium to David Bowie's 'Heroes', led by Peter Norfolk, the two-time Paralympic wheelchair tennis champion, who carried the union jack. He later described it as a 'wow moment.' In one heart-stopping moment during the show, six Paralympians and former competitors - including Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson - were flown into the stadium in golden wheelchairs. Disabled ex-serviceman David Rawlins flew a twin-engined Tecnam P2006 light aircraft over the stadium to kick off the proceedings. A sphere ignited The Big Bang - something which Professor Hawking, a world-renowned physicist who has motor neurone disease, has written about extensively - to start the show and fireworks lit up the stadium. Hawking and actor Sir Ian McKellen played prominent roles in the ceremony, which also featured a host of deaf and disabled artists, local children and performers newly-trained in circus skills. Some three thousand volunteers took part in the event, which organisers entitled Enlightenment and said was 'profoundly about science and humanity.' Throughout the ceremony, Hawking acted as a guide to Miranda - a character from William Shakespeare's play The Tempest, who was central to the show - while Sir Ian played Prospero. Inspired by uncertain British weather, umbrellas were also a big theme in the ceremony, which was described as 'both spectacular and deeply human' by organisers. The Queen was welcomed by Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, before the union jack was carried in by representatives of the armed forces. It is the first time the monarch has officiated at the openings of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Teams from all one hundred and sixty four countries paraded into the stadium to music mixed and played by three London-based DJs. The Paralympic torch began its journey in Stoke Mandeville, the spiritual home of the Paralympic Games, on Tuesday night. It was carried by five hundred and eighty torchbearers in total, and after being carried past some of London's most famous landmarks, was used to light a scaled-down version of the Olympic cauldron. The torch had earlier been delayed but games organisers Locog confirmed the flame arrived at the stadium in time to light the cauldron. UK Sport and the British Paralympic Association have set a minimum target of one hundred and three medals this time from at least twelve sports, including swimming, athletics and rowing and hopes are high that ParalympicsGB will emulate the success of Team GB. Britain finished second in the medals table at the 2008 Games in Beijing, winning forty two golds, twenty nine silvers and thirty one bronzes. China were top with two hundred and eleven medals, of which eighty nine were gold. More than 2.4 million tickets for events have already been sold, including half-a-million to overseas visitors. In a statement released before she opened the games, the Queen said: 'It is with tremendous pride that the people of London and the United Kingdom welcome the world to the London 2012 Paralympic Games. We look forward to celebrating the uplifting spirit which distinguishes the Paralympic Games from other events, drawing on Britain's unique sporting heritage.'

A colourful line of pulsating balloons is to line the night sky across the seventy three mile length of Hadrian's Wall. The digital art installation will see 400 balloons lined from Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend - just a couple of miles from Stately Telly Topping Manor, dear blog reader - to Bowness-on-Solway, as part of the London 2012 Festival. Called Connecting Light, it is designed for people to view the wall as a bridge not a barrier - described by artist Zachary Lieberman as an 'inverse wall.' Lieberman said the creation has 'never been seen before.' Designed by New York based digital arts collective YesYesNo and founding member Lieberman, the idea is to allow people to share their physical or emotional experiences and thoughts about borders. He said: 'We are nerd artists who try to find a poetic way to use technology - in this case it's LEDs and radio communication. Hadrian's Wall is set in amazing landscape, it's incredibly beautiful and the other thing I love about the wall is that it goes through so many different types of environments - windswept plains, craggy rocky landscapes, straight through cities. That diversity of environments I found really powerful. I also felt it's very peaceful in places and we wanted to capture that. Connecting Light celebrates the whole of the wall.' Lieberman says his work uses technology in a playful way to explore the nature of communication and the delicate boundary between the visible and the invisible. The six feet six inch diameter weather balloons will transmit messages between each other and internal LED lights will change colour in response - this will create a line of pulsating colours as messages travel through it. The public will be able to interact with the balloons by creating messages and selecting colours either at the site or online - directly controlling the installation. There are several sites across the wall which will be open to the public, including the Errington Arms in Corbridge, Housesteads Roman Fort and Carlisle Castle and Tullie House Museum. Linda Tutiett, from Hadrian's Wall Heritage, said: 'We want people to think about Hadrian's Wall in a fresh new light, we want to build an audience for the wall who will care about it for the future. This is one way of getting people to think about some of the world's most amazing heritage, but to do so in such a brilliantly modern way is really going to put the spotlights on Hadrian's Wall Country from all over the world.' The Hadrian's Wall Trust is looking for volunteers to help out at the event. Connecting Light is being produced in partnership with the Hadrian's Wall Trust, the Cultural Olympiad programme and local partners. The event takes place over Friday and Saturday and organisers advise visitors to go between 20:00 and 23:00.

Elbow's Guy Garvey has said that he is starting a new record label solely for vinyl EPs to revive the format. The singer told the BBC he was inspired to begin the project by EPs of the past and would be challenging fellow artists to try out the multi-track format. Each EP - which also comes with a free download code - will have four songs, where one must be an instrumental and another should contain spoken word. 'We don't want disposable songs - we want a twenty minute record,' he said. In an interview broadcast on BBC Radio 4's PM programme on Thursday, Garvey said EPs were becoming increasingly important. 'Young bands that are perhaps self-financing and have to make money through touring can release three EPs rather than one album,' he said. 'That's three times as much excuse to tour, so it's working commercially.' The singer added making an EP was a good challenge for a music artist. 'You're making something that somebody who really loves your music is going to go and find - it's like leaving a note in your lover's pocket that they won't find for six months.' Garvey will be setting up the label with Jim Chancellor, the head of Fiction Records, Elbow's label. The Mercury award-winning band created the anthem for the BBC's Olympics coverage and performed their hit 'One Day Like This' in front of a TV audience of more than twenty six million at the Olympics closing ceremony.

Which brings us to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, this seems appropriate. Again.

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