Thursday, August 02, 2012

Nothing's Gonna Touch You In These Golden Years

'So, how much trouble are we in?' A new trailer for series seven of Doctor Who has debuted ahead of the show's imminent return at the end of this month. The ninety-second clip features new footage from the show, including The Doctor, Amy and Rory facing off against thousands of Daleks, tantalising glimpses of a robots, cowboys, River Song, space pirates, a Weeping Angel plus a stone cherub, and dinosaurs - to which the Doctor is seen exclaiming 'Dinosaurs ... On a spaceship!' Sounds like an episode title to this blogger. The first official image for series seven was released at midnight on Wednesday, showing The Doctor surrounded by Daleks and carrying an apparently unconscious (or, maybe dead) Amy Pond. These scenes are also teased in the new trailer, which received its television debut on Thursday at 8pm on BBC1, introduced by a startled-looking Clare Balding from the Olympic pool. 'Who killed all the Daleks?' 'Who do you think!' Oh, this is gonna be large!

Yer actual Christopher Eccleston - he of the massive conk - his very self has been attached to the Thor sequel. The former Doctor Who actor is reported to be 'in final negotiations' to play a villain in the upcoming sequel, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Eccleston's proposed role is said to be as the ruler of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim if a deal is concluded. The Thor sequel, to be directed by Alan Taylor, is officially titled Thor: The Dark World and features most of the original cast. The first film was directed by Kenneth Branagh. Eccleston has previously appeared in movies including GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Twenty Eight Days Later and Gone In Sixty Seconds and the US television series Heroes. And, a shitload of other stuff too, almost all of which he was utterly fantastic in. Bit of grumpy sod, old Eck, but a great actor.

Again, it was a case of the old London Bus Syndrome - 'you wait ages, then a whole bunch turn up at once' for Britain in Day Six of Olympics for the host nation as Team GB went somewhat medal crazy. Britain picked up two golds in a matter of five minutes in the mid-afternoon. Peter Wilson proved to have nerves of steel in the double trap shooting at the Royal Artillery Barracks, murdering a whole host of poor innocent clay pigeons what had done him no harm whatsoever to win the gold. Hakan Dahlby of Sweden took the silver with Russia's Vasily Mosin won a shoot-off with Kuwait's Fehaid Aldeehani for the bronze. Just moments earlier, amid mad-bonkers scenes of nationalistic euphoria at the Lee Valley White Water Centre, Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott unexpectedly won the final of the men's canoe slalom double (C2 class), beating their team-mates and training partners David Florence and Richard Hounslow who took a magnificent silver. The bronze was won by the legendary Slovakian Hochschorner twins, Pavol and Peter. Earlier, at Eton Doney in the rowing, Britain had picked up a silver in the men's lightweight fours - Richard and Peter Chambers, Rob Williams and Chris Bartley won Britain's third medal of the regatta, narrowly being beaten a superb South African quartet. Defending champions Denmark took the bronze with Australia fourth. The Chambers duo became the first British brothers to win an Olympic medal since Greg and Jonny Searle took bronze in the coxless four at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Gemma Gibbons beat three of top ten ranked seventy eight kilogram category judokas in the world - including a memorable 'golden score' victory over France's Audrey Tcheumeo in the semi-final - to become the first British woman to reach an Olympic judo final since her coach, Kate Howey, won silver in 2000. There, Gemma took the silver as she was beaten by tough American Kayla Harrison. Oily David Cameron and scary Vladimir Putin were watching the bout from the stands. The Butcher of Grosny, of course, is alleged to be a judo black belt his very self. Cameron went to Eton and, therefore, probably got his fag to do all his fighting for him whilst he ate buttered crumpets. Elsewhere, in the boxing, middleweight Anthony Ogogo caused a huge upset as he beat world champion Ievgen Khytrov of Ukraine in the last sixteen. The score was eighteen-eighteen in a close, and hard-fought bout but Ogogo was declared the winner after countback. Also, at Wimbledon, in the tennis (still not really interested, but I record the result because some people might be) Andy Murray beat Nicolas Almagro of Spain 6-4 6-1 in less than an hour to reach the Olympic singles semi-finals where he will face Novak Djokovic. Then, there was absolute hell-on at the Velodrome where some picky arsehole of a judge decided to disqualify Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish in the women's team sprint over some minor technicality after they'd just seemed to qualify for a mouth-watering final against China. Earlier, the pair had broken the world record in making the semis. As BBC Sport pundit Mark Cavendish noted: 'It's the Olympic Games, it's the biggest thing and to spend four years getting ready for it only to lose in a fraction of a second is gut wrenching.' Later, the same annoying prick only went and disqualified China as well after they'd, seemingly, won the final for the same, utterly trivial, offence. Thus the Germans, who hadn't even qualified for the final before all of the kerfuffle started, ended up winning the gold having finished behind the disqualified Chinese pair. The BBC's reporter Jill Douglas was in the process of speaking to the Germans about their silver when the news came through about the Chinese disqualification and she was able to tell them the good news. For a while it was touch and go as to whether the officious berk in question was going to get out of the gaff with his face in tact. Dave Brailsford certainly looked like he would have been quite happy to stick-one on the hapless knobend and the crowd was in a genuinely mutinous, dark mood ... For about half-an-hour, at least, until the British team pursuit quartet (Geraint Thomas, Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh) broke the world record in a time of three minutes 52.49 seconds. They'll be going for gold on Friday. Then, the team spirit trio (Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny and yer actual Sir Chris Hoy) broke another world record in their event to qualify for the final, against France. Where, astonishingly, they broke the world record again to take Britain's third gold medal of the day. And, to successfully defend the gold the team - which included Kenny and Hoy - won in Beijing four years ago. For Hoy, it was his fifth gold medal in his fourth Olympics (he also won a silver in 2000).
Britain's first two gold medals at London 2012 pulled in huge viewing figures for BBC1 during the daytime on Wednesday, overnight data suggests. Bradley Wiggins's victory in the men's individual time trial peaked with an audience of just under seven million punters at 4pm on BBC1. This figure does not include the viewers watching at big-screen events around the UK. The thirty two-year-old's record seventh Olympic medal – and fourth gold – drew a five-minute peak of 6.2 million viewers on BBC1 from 4pm, with another 648,000 tuning in on the BBC Olympics 2 red button service. Meanwhile, earlier in the day Helen Glover and Heather Stanning's victory in the rowing brought 4.38m to BBC1 at 12.30pm. Later in the evening, BBC1's primetime coverage of the Games peaked at over nine million at 8.15pm during the swimming finals at the Aquatic Centre. Michael Jamieson won another medal in the pool for Britain with a silver in the men's two hundred metres breaststroke final with a new British record.

King of the Mods Bradley Wiggins and young Chris Froome praised the 'phenomenal' support they were given by the people who lined the route of the men's cycling time trial event on Wednesday. Expectant fans began gathering along the forty nine kilometre course in South West London hours before the start of the women's time trial at 12:30. And, by the time the leading male riders started their bids for Olympic glory two and a half hours later, the crowd outside Hampton Court Palace was five-deep against the barriers. 'You would have to be deaf not to hear them,' said Wiggins, whose victory brought him a British record seventh Olympic medal. 'But the point where I was most aware of it was coming around the roundabout in Kingston - the noise was incredible. I'm never, ever going to experience anything like that again in my sporting career. That's it. That experience topped everything off right there. It was phenomenal.' After the medal ceremony, which saw Wiggins receive the fourth Olympic gold of his remarkable career and Froome a richly deserved bronze, the time trial champion got back on his bike to thank the 'real' fans. 'I wanted to see my wife, but also all the people who had stood by the roadside and shouted through the whole thing,' said Wiggins. 'Usually, the great thing about cycling is that anybody can watch it, it's very accessible. But here [at the start and finish] you have to be in the chosen few, it's a bit of a prawn-sandwich fest. We all know about Olympic ticketing, so it was nice to go back out and just show some appreciation for all that they did for that hour. It's a shame they, the real fans, couldn't see the ceremony, so it was nice to go out and roll up and down.' Kenyan-born Froome was also visibly moved by the encouragement he received out on the course. 'I almost expected today to be like a stage of the Tour De France, where you get lots of people by the side of the road and you don't really take in too much,' he said. 'But this was something very different: it's certainly something I will never forget. The roads were lined with people, and they weren't just cheering, they were screaming our names. It just leaves me with goose bumps thinking about it. The support was enormous. I don't think I'll ever experience it again.' Both men, who teamed up to such spectacular effect for Team Sky at the Tour De France last month, now intend to soak up the atmosphere at London 2012 before going their separate ways. Wiggins, who became the first British rider to win the Tour just ten days ago, wants 'a few vodka tonics' before watching his old track cycling team-mates in action, while Froome also wants to see some sport before returning to his Monaco base to prepare for professional cycling's third biggest stage race, the Vuelta, later this month. For Wiggins, the real challenge will be returning to 'the normal life' he craves. He laughed off suggestions that a knighthood is imminent, saying it would be an honour but he would 'probably keep it in the drawer.' The thirty two-year-old also admitted he had no idea how he would deal with the attention that is coming his way. 'You train all year for the physical aspect of cycling but you can't plan for what comes next,' he said. 'You're still the same person. External perceptions might change but inside you're the same. You just want to go back to normal. I guess it's why people end up in the Priory or as alcoholics.'

Great Britain's football coach Stuart Pearce said his team were inspired by other British competitors after they defeated Uruguay in Cardiff to reach the quarter-finals. The 1-0 victory came after Britain struck gold in rowing and Bradley Wiggins triumphed in cycling's time trial. 'The feel-good factor is spreading and we are delighted to play our part by getting out of the group,' said Pearce. 'I have also got to mention the women's team defeating Brazil on Tuesday, it gave us a good lift.' Daniel Sturridge scored the only goal at a passionate and atmospheric Millennium Stadium as Britain eliminated Uruguay to finish top of Group A and set up a quarter-final tie against South Korea at the same venue on Saturday. Pearce added: 'It excites me to stay in the competition for at least one more match because we have improved game by game, the fitness levels are improving, as is the understanding. I am delighted to be out of the group, looking back you can see how tough it was, but I think over three matches we deserved to come top, the team has got stronger and stronger. Now it is about recovery and preparing for Saturday. My feet are on the floor and [I'm aware of] the magnitude of the next game in front of us.' South Korea finished second behind Mexico in Group B after two goalless draws and a victory over Switzerland. 'I watched South Korea when they beat Senegal 3-1 in a friendly at Stevenage,' stated Pearce. 'They are a hard working side. We did not know who we would be playing in the quarter-finals if we got through but we have had scouts at every game and we have footage of them playing.' Pearce was candid about his team's medal prospects now they are one win away from guaranteeing a bronze medal match at the very least. 'We have only ever planned and prepared to win the tournament,' he said. 'The coaches of all the teams in the last eight know they will have two shots at getting a medal if they get to the semis. Because even if you are unsuccessful in the semi-finals you get the shot at the bronze, so the importance of this next game is very high.' Wednesday's match was played in front of more than seventy thousand in the Millennium Stadium - and the passionate crowd generated a superb atmosphere as GB held on against a Uruguay team desperate to extend their Olympic campaign but are now heading home. When I look back three or four weeks people were telling me there would be a negative response in Cardiff but I have not seen that,' added Pearce.

Former BBC1 controller Lorraine Heggessey has joined forces with The IT Crowd creator Graham Linehan, in the first move by her new production company, Boom Pictures. Linehan, whose Delightful Industries co-produced The IT Crowd with Talkback Thames, formerly headed by Heggessey, will develop and produce new comedy programmes. He will work alongside another new Boom signing, producer and director Richard Boden, who becomes director of programmes for Delightful. Linehan - a delightfully witty chap and superb writer - whose credits also include Father Ted, Black Books and Big Train, as well as writing for Chris Morris's Brass Eye, The Fast Show and Harry Enfield. Most recently he was responsible for the acclaimed stage adaptation of classic Ealing comedy, The Ladykillers. Heggessey said: 'I can't think of a better first signing for Boom Pictures. This is precisely the kind of talent that we're looking to attract and support. Graham is a comedy genius and I love working with him and Richard.' Linehan said: 'I couldn't be more excited about the move and am hoping that it will be a huge success.' Boden's credits include Blackadder Goes Forth, BBC1's Life of Riley, ITV's The Sketch Show and two series of The IT Crowd, which he produced and directed alongside Linehan.

Former ITV chief executive and Grumpy Old Men producer Stuart Prebble is to lead an independent review of the BBC's impartiality, commissioned by the BBC Trust. Prebble's review will be a follow-up to John Bridcut's 2007 report, From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel, which set out twelve 'guiding principles' to help ensure against biased reporting. The Bridcut Report said technological and social change meant the spread of opinion went beyond traditional concepts of left and right, but warned that impartiality did not mean insipid programme making. Prebble will investigate how Bridcut's recommendations have been implemented, and how the BBC's understanding of 'breadth of voice' has developed. It is the fifth impartiality review by the BBC Trust, having previously looked at subjects such as the way it covers business, also published in 2007, coverage of the UK nations, science and The Arab Spring. Prebble – who left ITV in 2002 to set up production company Liberty Bell, which produces Grumpy Old Men, and is now a director of Storyvault Films – said: 'I am delighted to have been invited to lead this important study for the BBC. Having spent most of my career outside the BBC, I look forward to bringing a fresh perspective to examine how well the commitment to breadth of voice – which is unique to the BBC – is being met.' The review's terms of reference will be published in the autumn, and the review is expected to be concluded in the summer of 2013. Alison Hastings, chair of the BBC Trust's editorial standards committee, said: 'John Bridcut's 2007 report set a new standard for achieving impartiality – likening it to a "wagon wheel" of opinions rather than the traditional "see-saw" of left versus right. Five years on, it's the right time to check up on the BBC's progress. Stuart Prebble's distinguished career in broadcasting, both as a programme-maker and as a CEO, puts him in an ideal position to take an informed view on how the BBC has responded to Bridcut's challenge.'

Sir David Attenborough is to join forces with yer actual Björk for a new documentary about music. The one-off Channel Four film, provisionally titled Attenborough and Björk: The Nature of Music, will examine how music has developed and the effect technology may have on its future. The broadcaster will discuss his own passion for music and introduce footage of the lyre bird, reed warbler and blue whale to illustrate the relationship between music and the natural world. Meanwhile, Björk will demonstrate a range of bespoke instruments she commissioned for her latest CD Biophilia. The 2011 record was part of a multimedia project by the Icelandic star, which brings together the CD with a range of apps and installations. The Nature of Music's executive producer Lucas Ochoa said: 'Pulse Films are incredibly excited to be working on this remarkable film with Björk and Sir David Attenborough. Born from Björk's revolutionary music project, it is thrilling to be able to document this incredible journey with her. She is undeniably one of the most iconic figures in popular culture and truly pushes boundaries like no other artist.' Here's a Did You Know? for you here, dear blog reader. Long before she was in The Sugarcubes, yer actual Björk Guðmundsdóttir - then aged, but twelve - was a child protégé in the Icelandic jazz-punk band Tappi Tíkarrass which, translated into English, means 'Cork the Bitch's Ass.' Bet you did know that.

Coronation Street stars have reportedly been banned from appearing on Strictly Come Dancing. ITV 'bosses' are said to have told its soap actors not to join the BBC show, but that they can sign up for similar ITV talent shows such as Twatting About on Ice. 'It's a no-brainer for us. Why would we allow cast members time off to go to film a show for a rival channel?' an anonymous, and almost certainly fictitious, 'source' allegedly told the Sun. Michelle Keegan had previously been linked - by several tabloids if nobody that actually matters - with a spot on Strictly - reports which were later denied by her agent. But, the alleged 'insider' allegedly added that the alleged deal allegedly 'fell through.' Allegedly. 'The BBC's offer never got off the ground - we wouldn't release her from her contract,' the alleged 'source' allegedly claimed. 'That goes for everyone else in the cast - but we are more open when it comes to ITV shows.' Chris Evans, Fern Britton, Ronnie O'Sullivan and Michael Vaughn are among those rumoured to be part of this year's Strictly Come Dancing. Dannii Minogue recently denied a report stating that she was close to signing a deal for the BBC1 series.

BBC digital stations 1Xtra and Radio 4 Extra have recorded their highest-ever listening figures in the latest Rajar report. The new data shows digital radio now accounts for nearly a third of all listening. Radio 4 Extra is still the number one digital station with 1.6 million listeners while urban music station 1Xtra attracted 1.13 million. Digital radio now reaches more than 24.2 million weekly listeners. Radio 2's The Chris Evans Breakfast Show is still the most popular choice for early morning listeners - regardless of how they listen. His audience increased year-on-year from 8.67 million to 8.95 million listeners a week. However listeners were down from last quarter's near record of 9.23 million. The station's weekly audience also increased from the same time last year, to 14.46 million from 13.97m, although listeners had dropped from last quarter's Rajar results of 14.56m. Radio 1 suffered a drop in listeners to 11.27 million, compared with 11.14m last quarter and 11.69m last year. Radio 4's breakfast news show Today also increased slightly on last quarter to 6.76 million listeners, although it fell behind the record it set this time last year of 7.18m. Over ten million listeners tuned into Radio 4 each week, which is up from last quarter but again down on the station's record 10.85m last year. BBC Radio 5Live recorded a combined reach of 6.36 million listeners with sister station 5Live Sports Extra, down from 6.55m last quarter and 6.68m last year. After posting record listening figures of 1.45 million listeners in the last quarter, digital station 6Music was down slightly at 1.38 million. 'These figures represent a strong performance across our portfolio and an industry in robust health,' said Tim Davie, Director BBC Audio & Music. He added: 'Last year we laid out a clear strategy for our digital stations, so it is great to see our digital-only networks breaking records and all four attracting more than a million listeners every week.' Figures for BBC Local Radio in England show a reduction at 6.8 million, down by just over four hundred thousand compared to last year's 7.2 million. The BBC's Controller of English Regions David Holdsworth called the figures 'disappointing' but said they came after several quarters of 'significant growth.'

Two Chinese Olympic badminton players and their team leader have been told to make a public apology, the country's official news agency says. China's top-seeded pair Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli were among eight players disqualified for trying to deliberately lose games.

Sky's strong position in the pay-TV movie market 'does not adversely affect competition,' the Competition Commission has confirmed. The commission's final report upholds its previous assessment given back in May. It again said that the arrival of streaming services such as Netflix and Lovefilm had increased consumer choice. Sky, which is first to broadcast new Hollywood films on TV in the UK, said it welcomed the decision. Laura Carstensen, who led the commission's inquiry, said: 'We have seen significant change in pay-TV movie services in the course of our inquiry, and have considered the implications of these developments carefully in reaching our final views. It is clear that consumers now have a much greater choice than they had a couple of years ago when our investigation began.' In a statement, Sky said there was 'overwhelming evidence that UK consumers are well served by strong competition between a growing number of TV providers, including those offering movies.' It added: 'As this dynamic marketplace continues to evolve, we remain committed to innovating for customers so that UK consumers continue to benefit from choice, value and innovation.' In a provisional finding in August last year, the commission had said Sky did restrict competition because of its dominance of the pay-TV movie market, which it said led to higher prices and reduced choice. However, the commission subsequently changed its mind. In its final report, the commission also said that it 'welcomed' the launch of Sky Movies on Now TV, the broadcaster's Internet TV service. This allows customers the choice of subscribing to Sky Movies separately from their subscription to other pay-TV content.

And so we come to Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Inevitably, it's The Grand Dame her very self. Touched with glitter.

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