Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Remember How The Stars Stole The Night Away

Doctor Who will return to BBC1 on Saturday 1 September at 7.20pm. The confirmation of the series seven start date has been published on the Radio Times website. Asylum of the Daleks was first shown at London's BFI Southbank at a premiere on 14 August. Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill were in attendance for a Q&A, along with showrunner Steven Moffat and executive producer Caroline Skinner. The new episode sees the first full appearance of The Daleks since series five finale The Big Bang in 2010. Meanwhile, yer actual Smudger, his very self, has claimed that the upcoming Doctor Who anniversary will be 'one of the biggest events' the show has ever done. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat also promised that the anniversary celebrations would be 'huge,' but added that fans will have plenty to look forward to before 2013. 'We've got an awful lot of stuff to announce before that,' he said. 'We don't aim to have one event, over a year in the future - we want to make Doctor Who an event every single week. And we're going to pull that off, so patience!' Patience? Doctor Who fans? Are you quite mad, Moffster? As previously announced, Mark Gatiss will write a special Doctor Who biopic for the fiftieth anniversary. The long-rumoured project - which has the working title An Adventure in Space and Time - will focus on the show's creation in the early 1960s. 'I just read the first draft of the script this morning and it's such a beautiful character piece,' said Caroline Skinner. 'It's something that Mark Gatiss has been wanting to write for the best part of a decade and it's a fabulous story. There are so many things that the fans will love about the origins of Doctor Who, but also the characters who made it are just such extraordinary people. It's something that will be a joy to bring to life.' Doctor Who's seventh season will also premiere in the US on 1 September. The news was confirmed in a new official trailer released by BBC America, which displays the return date. It was previously rumoured that the show would return to the States on 8 September, a week after the initial UK broadcast. However, American viewers will now be able to see the new episodes just hours after the show has aired across the Atlantic.
A Doctor Who mini-adventure will broadcast online from 27 August. Pond Life, written by Chris Chibnall, will be available to watch on the BBC Doctor Who website and YouTube channel. The adventure has been split into five episodes, which will be uploaded daily from noon on 27 August until 31 August. It will focus on Amy and Rory and the 'chaos' caused when the Doctor 'drops in and out of their lives.' The BBC confirmed that Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and Smudger his very self will all appear in the adventure and also promised some 'unexpected' surprises. 'Pond Life provides us with a lovely opportunity to catch up with Amy and Rory since we saw them at the end of the last series,' Chibnall said. 'It opens with the Ponds at home and gives us an insight to just what happens when the Doctor drops in and out of their lives. Travelling with the Doctor is one of the greatest things you can do, but it's fun to spend a few moments looking at the chaos he can also bring.' Caroline Skinner described Pond Life as 'beautiful, heartfelt and wickedly funny,' saying: 'It's not long till the series itself will be back with a vengeance - but in the meantime Pond Life is a truly heartwarming piece about our best-loved companions and their madcap relationship with their raggedy Doctor.'

Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water ... The alleged names of, allegedly, 'hundreds' of victims of alleged phone-hacking could be revealed for the first time, including potentially 'more stars from Hollywood' according to the Digital Spy website. It then goes on to state that 'high-profile celebrities' such as Wayne Rooney, Sienna Miller, Sir Paul McCartney and Delia Smith have 'so far emerged as being potential victims of alleged voicemail interception by the newspapers.' None of whom are, exactly, 'stars from Hollywood' or anything even remotely frigging like it. However, the Independent claims that the full list of up to six hundred names which prosecutors believe may be involved in phone hacking criminal cases could be revealed 'within weeks.' The list is expected to feature 'more well-known public figures' allegedly targeted by the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, 'including politicians, actors, pop stars and murder victims.' The move - the biggest single announcement of alleged targets of alleged voicemail interception so far - could place new pressure on billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's alleged media empire, 'particularly if there are more names on the list from Hollywood.' Because, of course, those who've already been named are mere nothings compared to somebody who's been in a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, are they? So far, prosecutors have indicated that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are among those to have been targeted. Murdoch's US-based News Corporation is currently in the process of trying to separate its publishing business, which includes British newspapers such as The Times and the Sun, from its more profitable - and less toxic - film and TV assets. The move is part of attempts to assure investors over News Corp's corporate governance and structure, but the confirmation of more high-profile alleged hacking victims, particularly if they are American, could seriously shake confidence in the firm. Detectives are understood to have already contacted the majority of 'likely' victims of hacking, and many have already launched civil cases against the now defunct Scum of the World, shut down last year in disgrace and ignominy. Police have also been contacting victims as part of their generic phone-hacking cases against several former Scum of the World staff, including well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, the prime minister's 'chum' Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner, Greg Miskiw, Ian Edmondson, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup. The Independent claims that the full list of names (excluding those who request non-disclosure) will be announced after the police finish their investigation process. It is thought that up to four hundred people not previously known to be victims could be publicly identified.

The Great British Bake-Off's ratings climbed even more impressively on BBC2 on Tuesday evening, the cookery show soaring over seven hundred thousand on last week's opener to an average of 4.19m. Following that The Midwives was watched by 2.1m. Meanwhile, Channel Four's one-off royal documentary - The Queen's Mother in Law - appealed to a hefty 3.47m in the 9pm hour, with a further four hundred and ninety three thousand punters on ITV+1. Bitter old full-of-his-own-importance Red Jimmy McGovern's latest misery-fest episode of Accused was few shows of the night to lose week-on-week viewers, falling to 4.54m for a gang-themed story starring Olivia Colman. EastEnders, Holby City and The ONE Show all posted impressive figures earlier on - 7.5 million, five million and 4.35 million respectively. Champions League football made a quiet return to Tuesday nights, with its coverage of Glasgow Celtic's game with Helsingborgs scoring a mere 1.64m between 7.30pm and 10pm. Overall, BBC1 topped primetime with 23.3 per cent of the audience share, while BBC2, unusually, but very gratifyingly, snatched the runner-up spot with 10.4 per cent against ITV's really not very good at all 9.7 per cent.

The producers of Merlin have claimed that the show 'needed to grow up a little bit.' Johnny Capps told SFX that the BBC family fantasy drama will deal with more mature themes when it returns later this year. Series co-creator Julian Murphy added: 'It's a bit more adult and it takes the characters to new places. They're older. Take Gwen - she has to be a mature queen of Camelot now and you see stories where she plays the politics of that role in a very sophisticated way.' Angel Coulby recently told the Digital Spy website that her character is 'a lot more assertive' in the upcoming episodes. 'I think, having in the past been a little bit unsure of herself and never quite believing her worth, now she has accepted that she's good for the job,' said the actress. 'She's fulfilling the role very well - she's very fair and just.'

It's now open warfare over at New Tricks between the actors and the writers it would seem. As we reported yesterday, an interview with Amanda Redman, Alun Armstrong and Dennis Waterman in the Radio Times really appears to have got right on the tit-end of some of the show's scriptwriters due to various disparaging comments made by the trio. Redman claimed that the series had become 'more bland,' while Waterman accused some of the writers of 'repeating themselves.' The eighth series of New Tricks secured the show's highest ever ratings, but Waterman was critical of the recent output. 'You have to remind yourself that people aren't as stupid as writers think,' he told the Radio Times. 'But that's the way things are going in the industry. Basically, we all want to move to Copenhagen to get to do some extraordinary television.' Meanwhile, Alun Armstrong claimed that the cast had re-written parts of the script to improve them, 'if the writer wasn't around.' Responding to these comments, writer Julian Simpson said: 'Wait a second. If certain actors re-wrote the scripts, how come they don't know the lines better? I was going to be writing today, instead I'm just going to hand the actors a pad and pen. I wish I'd learned this fifteen years ago.' He continued: 'A New Tricks I wrote and directed airs on Monday. I can tell you exactly how much of it the actors wrote: not a fucking comma. The following week, Sarah Pinborough's episode is on. I directed that too. Cast contribution to script? Big fat zero. I also wrote and directed episode ten of the new series. How much did the cast change? Are we sensing a pattern here?' See, you rattle a writer's cage at your own peril, people, they can be mean fuckers when they get a bit riled. Simpson also retweeted a joke about the cast: 'Dennis Waterman wants to go to Denmark to do some "extraordinary TV." You hear that sound? That's the Borgen writers howling with laughter.' He's got a point, it has to be said. This is Mister 'I Sing The Theme Tune' we're talking about here. Simpson later added: 'As has been widely reported, New Tricks cast members are leaving next series. Guess who's writing their exit eps? *finger guns*.' Fellow writer Lisa Holdsworth suggested that a new storyline on the show could involve 'an unfortunate bus crash as they are all driven to the old people's home.' Commenting on the cast outburst, she said: 'I'd like to say that it shocked me, but it didn't. Wankers.' So, all would very definitely appear to be lacking happiness in New Tricks-land.

In the three years since the last series of Armando Iannucci's The Thick of It, the fine line dividing art and real life has become more gossamer-like than ever. The government's petrol and pasty tax U-turns, the vile and odious rascal Hunt's unfortunate Olympic bell-ringing incident, treasury minister Chloe Smith's Newsnight mauling by Jeremy Paxman and pretty much everything involving rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove all suggested a master satirist at work. 'I always look at the news, unless it's something absolutely horrific, as entertainment,' said one of The Thick of It's six principal scriptwriters, Roger Drew. 'Stuff in politics, the backbiting, the in-fighting, it's just hugely entertaining. Chloe Smith on Newsnight – that was terrific.' Well, yes. The whole country enjoyed that one it would seem. The show's writing team keeps its distance from real-life politics – script consultant Kate Conway is their conduit with Westminster – although Iannucci was said to have been contacted by an alleged 'insider' from the office of the deputy prime minister, yer actual Nick Clegg. 'Someone approached Armando and said, I am in Nick Clegg's office. I will give you all the dirt. I don't know what happened with them,' said Drew. 'People said the coalition was always going to break down, it's whether they managed to make it to the end of the five-year term. The jury's out on that.' Times have changed, both in reality and in the fictional world of the BAFTA-winning BBC2 satire. The hapless Nicola Murray MP, played by Rebecca Front, is now leader of the opposition, with Peter Capaldi's Alastair Campbell-alike, Malcolm Tucker, temporarily neutered and prowling the opposition benches looking for someone to kill. A coalition government is in power, supported by a junior partner dubbed 'The Inbetweeners' – as is the show's tradition, no party is ever identified by name – and Peter Mannion MP (any resemblance to Kenneth Clarke is purely coincidental) in charge of the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship. 'There is even more conflict and less possibility of anyone being happy at all,' said Roger Allam, who plays Mannion. Producer Adam Tandy said the show, which returns to BBC2 in September, had sought to reflect the changing political times. 'It was a perfect opportunity to reboot and allows us to keep the show relevant and do different things with the characters. No one is in power, no one has won the election, and that is an inner truth which we have embraced wholeheartedly,' he said. 'We aim to achieve certain parallels with real political life, but it's not slavish satire. We get lucky from time to time. Who was it had the bell come off the end of his stick? We couldn't have made that up and put it in a script and expect people to believe it.' The new seven-part series is played out against the background of an inquiry uncannily like Lord Justice Leveson's long-running probe into press ethics set up in the wake of the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World phone-hacking malarkey. Cast members and production team are coy about precise details of the 'inquiry' and its fallout, but it is not specifically related to the media. 'The inquiry affects everybody in a particular way,' said Front. 'You gradually see it unfolding, it is all quite unexpected. It starts to become apparent that everybody is embroiled. Armando is quite intrigued by the whole culture of inquiries.' Iannucci returned to The Thick of It while finishing the first series of his White House satire, Veep. 'When we were initially thinking about the series, before we knew we would spend a year on Veep, the [coalition] tensions were within each party, the problems were internal,' said Will Smith, who writes and stars in The Thick of It. 'Luckily for us, comedically by the time we came to do it, it all seemed to be coming apart a bit more, there was more friction.' But some real-life incidents – such as the Leveson inquiry revelations that David Cameron signed his texts to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks 'LOL', until she pointed out that the phrase meant 'laugh out loud', not 'lots of love' – were too outlandish even for The Thick of It. 'It doesn't make us feel we have to match that,' said Smith. 'Armando is always very keen to make it believable, to feel real. It feels more like they copy us.' As indeed they did, when Labour leader Ed Milimolimandi lifted - without attribution - the Malcolm Tucker invention 'omnishambles' to describe the state of the government at prime minister's questions in June.

The communities secretary - and odious scum bucket of lard - Eric Pickles, has criticised the BBC and other public bodies for trying to hide their use of covert surveillance powers without any judicial oversight or transparency. All of which might or might not be true but you're still fat, mate. I mean, Orca-fat. You make Eamonn Holmes look skinny. Hell, you make this blogger look skinny and he's as big as Giant Haystacks. Responding to research by the campaign group - for which read 'right-wing pressure group' - Big Brother Watch, Pickles said it was 'simply unacceptable' for publicly funded bodies to use powers in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to 'spy' on the public and then try to avoid any accountability. The research shows that three hundred and forty five local authorities across Britain have carried out a total of nine thousand six hundred and seven covert surveillance operations over the past three years, equating to nearly nine a day using powers intended to combat serious crime and terrorism. The Big Brother Watch report says the powers have been used to tackle problems such as TV licence evasion (which is a crime), trading standards offences (which are crimes), benefit fraud (which is a crime) and flytipping (which is, also, a crime), as well as less serious issues. It cites twenty six councils that have used RIPA powers to spy on dog owners suspected of not clearing up their pet's mess, and seven that have mounted surveillance operations to test whether the smoking ban was being breached. Kent county council, the claim, is the most enthusiastic in its use of RIPA investigations, according to the research, mounting three hundred and fifteen operations in the past three years. Legislation introduced by the coalition government will mean that from November local authorities will have to get the approval of a magistrate to use their RIPA powers before mounting a covert surveillance operation. What any of this bollocks has to do with the BBC, odious fat clown Pickles did not elaborate. Pickles, in a foreword to the report, said the legislation was needed to curb the 'overzealous town hall bureaucrats' who have used the powers for trivial issues. 'Councils seriously abused and overused their snooping powers, for matters as trivial as spying on garden centres who sell pot plants; snooping on staff for using work showers; or monitoring shops for unlicensed parrots,' he wrote. Seven public bodies refused to respond to Big Brother Watch requests under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose why or how often they had used RIPA powers. A further thirteen public bodies, including Jobcentre Plus, the Driving Standards Agency and the Gambling Commission, confirmed they had used the powers. The BBC, Ofsted, Royal Mail, UK Border Agency, the Prison Service and UK Trade and Investment refused to make any disclosure, citing an exemption that the information would prejudice a range of law enforcement functions and activities. Pickles said these public bodies should be transparent about why they used the powers. 'It is important that the public can have faith that surveillance powers are being used only in those situations where serious crimes are taking place and only when there are no less intrusive alternative routes of investigation,' he said. 'That's why we need robust accountability of all state bodies, not just local authorities, to ensure these state powers are not used without proper justification, and I welcome Big Brother Watch's continuing scrutiny and challenge.' Nick Pickles, of Big Brother Watch, who is not related to the minister - he hastened to add - said: 'It is unacceptable for public authorities to keep secret the details of why they are spying on the public and to use these powers without ever seeking a court's approval. Judicial approval for spying on us should be the norm, not the exception, and the public have a right to know why and how these powers are being used.' The Local Government Association said rogue traders, loan sharks and benefit fraudsters have been caught and prosecuted using evidence gathered from surveillance: 'Without these powers it would be much harder, and in some cases impossible, to bring offenders to justice,' said the LGA's Mehboob Khan. A TV Licensing spokesperson said the BBC used the RIPA powers only to detect licence evaders: 'It is only used as a last resort once other enforcement methods have been exhausted. The reason we do not release more details on how and when it is used is to ensure people without a valid TV licence don't use this information to their advantage when attempting to avoid detection.'

Loyd Grossman is to be a judge on Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's new ITV cooking show, it has been reported. Grossman will be joined by food writer Tom Parker Bowles on Food Glorious Food, the Sun reports. Grossman's previous TV roles include hosting the original MasterChef format for ten years and serving as Through the Keyhole's location presenter between 1987 and 2003. 'It is a great coup signing up Loyd to the show, as he was always a favourite on the original version of MasterChef,' an alleged 'production insider' allegedly told the paper, adding: 'Tom is also one to watch - and will bring a touch of class to proceedings.' Although, it should be noted, the Sun was, let us remember, the newspaper which four days ago was claiming that Sir Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Jessica Ennis were all 'in talks' to appear on The X Factor, something all three have subsequently denied. So, you know, take this claim with the vat of salt it so richly deserves. Food Glorious Food, which is jointly produced by Syco and Optomen Television, will enter production in Devon next month and is a competition to find the UK's best home-cooked meal. The winner will receive twenty grand, and their dish will be sold in Marks & Spencer stores across the country.

The UK's video on-demand regulator has confirmed that four services offering adult video material that can be accessed by under-eighteens have been referred to Ofcom for potential fines or further action. The Authority for Television On Demand said that it has investigated twenty three UK porn video services in recent months, and found thirteen to be in breach of the rules. ATVOD, which was last week renewed by Ofcom as the UK's video on-demand watchdog until 2020, said that it has taken 'direct action' against two services that have transgressed the rules. This includes the closing down of porn service Bootybox.tv via an enforcement notification after it failed to put effective access controls to ensure only adults could see the explicit video material. ATVOD said that the thirteen adult services found to be in breach of the rules had 'mostly failed' to place proper controls around their hardcore material. Two of those have been closed down, while seven have since acted to bring their services within ATVOD's compliance requirements. However, four services have taken no action and so have now been handed to Ofcom, ATVOD's 'back-stop regulator' - stop sniggering at the back - to 'consider whether to impose a financial penalty or restrict or suspend the service. We have made good progress in ensuring that UK operators of regulated VOD services comply with rules designed to protect children from harmful content, but we are not complacent and will continue to monitor relevant services and act as required,' said ATVOD chief executive Pete Johnson. 'Our recent enforcement activity has sent a clear message that UK providers of hardcore pornography on-demand must take effective steps to ensure that such material is not accessible to under-eighteens. Asking visitors to a website to click an "I am eighteen" button or enter a date of birth or use a debit card is not sufficient - if they are going to offer explicit sex material they must know that their customers are eighteen, just as they would in the "offline" world.' Despite some early criticism over its remit and budgetary arrangements, ATVOD has now established itself as the defined regulator of video on-demand in the UK. Alongside designating ATVOD until 2020, Ofcom has given its co-regulator more operating freedom, such as no longer needing to seek prior approval from Ofcom before publishing new guidelines. ATVOD has seen the number of VOD services under its remit rise from one hundred and fifty four in its first year of 2010-11 to one hundred and eighty four in 2011-12. This includes all the major players such as Virgin Media and Sky, but also niché services and online community groups. ATVOD chair Ruth Evans said: 'ATVOD has developed and matured as a regulator over its first two years and we warmly welcome Ofcom's decision to reflect this not just by confirming that the Designation will run until at least 2020 but also by giving ATVOD greater autonomy and independence.' Alongside monitoring and taking action against adult services in the UK, ATVOD had been 'keeping an eye' on how EU member states regulate hardcore porn. However, it does not have the power to regulate any material which comes from outside of Britain. In March, Ofcom submitted a complaint to its Dutch media regulator counterpart about the content of five adult chat television channels on Freeview. Under current EU law safeguarding the common market, adult channels are allowed to broadcast under the laws of their host country, meaning the Dutch networks escape regulation by UK watchdog Ofcom. But MPs and campaigners have expressed concern over the content of Babestation and Smile TV, which are free to air on Freeview between 10pm and 6am, often showing images of scantily clad women rubbing each other's breasts and simulating orgasms. Just in case you were wondering.

Kiefer Sutherland has reprised his role of Jack Bauer for an advert to promote the Acer Aspire S5 Ultrabook. The cinema, online and print campaign sees the 24 actor using the laptop to help him on his mission to create his own brand of 'Dynamite Cupcakes'. Acer's Aspire S5 Ultrabook, dubbed one of the world's thinnest laptops, features a 113.3-inch super-slim form factor, an Intel core i7 Ivy Bridge CPU and comes with a 256GB SSD, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt ports, and HDMI support. Plug fourteen gergillion snots of memory. Probably. The manufacturer revealed that the Sutherland marketing campaign will be the first of several to feature top celebrities using the laptop to indulge in unorthodox hobbies. 'At Acer we're interested in what people do with the technology we develop,' said Martin Schellekens, global marketing director at Acer. And, making lots and lots of wonga, I'd guess. 'The S5 Ultrabook is the first of many products that will help our users explore a different side of themselves. For Kiefer that was cupcake baking but over the coming year we'll create more stories of characters exploring beyond their limits.'

An RSPCA advertising campaign which offers to care for pets if their owner dies has escaped a ban, despite the charity admitting that almost one in five animals involved the scheme are subsequently put to death. The RSPCA ran a TV and newspaper campaign for its free Home for Life service – featuring clip of a cat pawing, rather movingly, at a window of an empty house – which offers to rehome pets in the event an owner dies. 'When you pass away, you'll want to know that your pet is safe and happy,' read one press advert. 'We can help take care of your pet after you've gone. You'll rest in peace, knowing they're being looked after.' The Advertising Standards Authority received a complaint from a member of the public and Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming. They argued that the RSPCA's advertising was misleading for not mentioning that it puts down some animals in its care. The RSPCA admitted that in 2011 it had destroyed ten of the fifty eight animals taken in as part of its Home for Life service. Whether it did so with hammers, it didn't disclose. However, the organisation said that it 'strongly disagreed' that the adverts were misleading. The RSPCA said that its adverts did not give a cast-iron guarantee that a new home would be found; instead phrases such as 'do all we can' and 'we'll try our very best' were used. And if they can't then, sadly, it's the chop for poor old Tiddles and Fido. It added that some animals were not able to be rehomed because of health problems, or because they had an 'unsound or aggressive temperament.' There were also legislative barriers regarding certain breeds such as pit bull terriers. The ASA backed the RSPCA, concluding that members of the public should understand from the adverts that it pledged to do its best to rehome pets. 'Because consumers would also understand that there might be instances when it would not be in an animal's best interests to be rehomed, which we also understood was the case, the ads did not breach the [advertising] code,' said the ASA. 'Ads for the RSPCA's Home for Life service [were] not found to be misleading for not explicitly stating that some animals were euthanised.'

Veteran entertainer Dick Van Dyke his very self is to be honoured with a life achievement award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards next January. The Missouri-born actor, singer, writer and comedian famously played mockney chimney sweep Bert in Mary Poppins, oi oi. He also starred in 1960s sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show and dreary 1980s TV series Diagnosis: Murder. SAG gives its highest honour to an actor it feels fosters the 'finest ideals of the acting profession.' During a career spanning six decades, eighty six-year-old Van Dyke has been awarded five EMMYs, a Tony Award and a Grammy. 'Dick is the consummate entertainer, an enormously talented performer whose work has crossed nearly every major category of entertainment,' said SAG's Ken Howard. He continued: 'He sets a high bar for actors. Stage, big screen, small screen, literally everywhere he has worked he has inspired millions of fans and has had a tremendously positive impact on the industry and the world.' Van Dyke made his Broadway debut in 1959 and a year later was cast in Bye Bye Birdie, earning a Tony Award and going on to star in the film version of the musical. He featured in 1960s sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show opposite Mary Tyler Moore for five seasons, winning three lead actor EMMYs. In 1964, he filmed Disney's musical classic Mary Poppins opposite Julie Andrews, which won five Oscars and earned the pair a Grammy. Other film credits include Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang, Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy in 1990 and more recently Ben Stiller comedy Night at the Museum and animated feature Curious George. In 2003, Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore re-teamed to portray lonely seniors in Pulitzer Prize-winning drama The Gin Game and he presented Moore with her own SAG Life Achievement Award earlier this year. Van Dyke still performs regularly as part of music group The Vantastix and released a CD of children's songs, Put on A Happy Face. The Life Achievement Award honours both career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment. Van Dyke supports several charities and has volunteered at Los Angeles homeless shelter The Midnight Mission for nearly twenty years. The nineteenth Annual SAG Awards ceremony will take place on 27 January during Hollywood's awards season.

Drivers have been urged not to drive into a petrol station if their car is on fire. Kent Fire & Rescue made this quite remarkable statement after a man drove his Renault into the Co-operative petrol station on the A2, Watling Street, at 8.30pm on Sunday after noticing it had caught fire. The fire services said that after the man noticed his car was alight, he made the 'sudden decision' to drive into the petrol station. You know, for a laugh. 'If you realise that your car might be alight when you are driving, pull over at the first available opportunity, but try to avoid exposing other people to risk,' a Kent Fire and Rescue spokesperson said. It took an hour to put out the fire and complete safety checks at the petrol station and no-one was injured in the incident. Kent Fire & Rescue has recently warned against deactivating smoke alarms after a woman slept through an oven fire in Maidstone because her alarm had a plastic bag over the sensor.

England have named a fourteen-player squad for the ICC Women's World Twenty20 in September and October. Somerset's Anya Shrubsole returns in place of Georgia Elwiss, the only change to the squad that dominated India in two T20 matches in June. Missing from the squad which competed at the 2010 tournament are Claire Taylor and Nicky Shaw, who have both since retired. England, winners in 2009, face Pakistan, India and Australia in the group stages in Sri Lanka. They will prepare for the World Twenty20 with a five-match T20 series against West Indies, starting on 8 September at Durham. Ahead of the series, England will play two international T20 matches against Pakistan followed by an additional fixture against the England women's Academy. Clare Connor, head of England women's cricket, said: 'This schedule of matches against Pakistan and West Indies is excellent preparation in the immediate build-up to the ICC World Twenty20. After an unbeaten run spanning seventeen months in international T20 matches, competition for a place in the starting XI has never been stronger.'

Actress Natalie Wood's death certificate has been amended to reflect some of the lingering questions surrounding her death in 1981. Wood drowned during a boat trip with her husband, Robert Wagner, and the actor Christopher Walken. At the time it was ruled to have been an accident. But police reopened their inquiry last year after the said they had received new evidence. The death certificate now says that Wood died as a result of 'drowning and other undetermined factors.' The amended document, obtained by the Associated Press news agency, also says that the circumstances of how Wood ended up in the water are 'not clearly established.' The certificate was altered earlier this month. Chief of detectives William McSweeney said the decision was made by the coroner's office. He added that detectives still had work to do on the case, but that did not necessarily mean a major development was coming. 'We don't close these cases,' he said. 'These cases have active periods and more passive periods. We're moving toward the end of an active period.' Conflicting versions of what happened on the yacht have contributed to the mystery of how the actress died in November 1981. Wood had been partying the night before her death, and the coroner's investigation ruled that she had been drinking and may have slipped trying to board the dinghy. Resuming the investigation last November, the sheriff's office said: 'Recently sheriff's homicide investigators were contacted by persons who stated they had additional information about the Natalie Wood Wagner drowning.' The move came hours after the captain of the boat, Dennis Davern, told NBC News that he lied to police during the initial investigation and that a fight between Wood and Wagner had led to her death. In his book Pieces of My Heart, Wagner acknowledged that there had been a fight with Wood before she had disappeared, but authorities have said Wagner is not a suspect in his wife's death. Wood's body was found floating in a Catalina Island cove off the coast of California. Police reports said she was found wearing a long nightgown, socks, and a jacket. The post-mortem report said Wood had bruises on her body and arms as well as a facial abrasion on her left cheek. Wagner's family said they supported the reopening of the inquiry and trusted the detectives would 'evaluate whether any new information relating to the death of Natalie Wood Wagner is valid, and that it comes from a credible source or sources other than those simply trying to profit from the thirty-year anniversary of her tragic death.' As a child, Wood featured in films like Miracle on 34th Street, The Ghost and Mrs Muir and The Searchers. She was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her role in Rebel Without a Cause, and for best actress for Splendor in the Grass and Love with the Proper Stranger.

Children's author Nina Bawden, who was best known for writing the novel Carrie's War - a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping - has died aged eighty seven, her publisher has said. Publisher Virago said the writer died at her London home on Wednesday surrounded by her family. Carrie's War, published in 1973, was based on Nina's own childhood evacuation to Wales during World War II. It was adapted, twice, for television by the BBC (in 1974 and 2004 - both of which are well-worth searching out if you've never seen them, dear blog reader), while a stage production also ran in the West End in 2009. She was also nominated for the Booker Prize in 1987 for Circles of Deceit. In 2002, her husband, Austen Kark, was killed and she was badly injured in the Potters Bar train crash. Bawden was regarded as one of the few modern novelists to write successfully for both adults and children, and was admired for her insightful depictions of childhood and complicated family relationships. She once said she liked writing for children because 'most people underestimate their understanding and the strength of their feelings and in my books for them I try to put this right.' Playwright Sir David Hare, who portrayed Bawden in his play The Permanent Way, paid tribute to her as 'an uncomplicatedly good woman, whose long fight to obtain justice for the victims of the Potters Bar crash was a model of eloquence, principle and human decency.' Born Nina Mary Mabey in Ilford, in 1925, Bawden was evacuated at the age of fourteen, first to Ipswich and then south Wales. The experience provided the template for Carrie's War, about the girl sent to live in a Welsh mining town. Bawden often used personal experience or family stories in her work. Her first children's book, The Secret Passage, published in 1963, was written for her three children after they discovered a hidden passage in their cellar. The Peppermint Pig, which won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in 1976, was based on an old family tale, while The Outside Child told the story of a girl who discovered she had a half-brother and sister from her father's first marriage. That followed the revelation, when in her twenties, that Nina had a half-sister who had been sent away to live with cousins. Her other novels included The Birds on the Trees, which was shortlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize for the best books published in 1970, and Granny the Pag. Towards the end of World War II, Nina won a scholarship to Somerville College, Oxford, where she read politics, philosophy and economics alongside Margaret Roberts, later Baroness Thatcher. Bawden was a member of the Labour Party and told the future Conservative prime minister they should 'use our good fortune to make sure that, when the war ended, a new, happier, more generous society would take the place of the old one.' That advice fell on somewhat stony ground. Nina had hoped to become a journalist and, after graduating, was offered a job as a trainee reporter on the Manchester Evening News. But she turned it down when she married Harry Bawden and became pregnant. Their child, Niki, grew up to suffer schizophrenia and become involved in drugs. Tragically, he committed suicide in 1981, aged thirty three. He provided the basis for one of the characters in Bawden's Booker-shortlisted novel Circles of Deceit. In 1954, Bawden was remarried, to Austen Kark, whom she had met on a bus. On 10 May 2002, the couple were on their way to an eightieth birthday party in Cambridge when their train derailed at high speed after leaving King's Cross. Kark, who had risen to become managing director of the BBC World Service, died in the crash, while his wife suffered a broken ankle, arm, leg, shoulder, collarbone and ribs. She campaigned to get answers after the accident, and received almost one million quid in compensation from Network Rail and former rail contractor Jarvis. In one of her last books, Dear Austen, the author told the story of the crash in the form of letters to her late husband. Nina was made a CBE in 1995 and received the prestigious ST Dupont Golden Pen Award for a lifetime's contribution to literature in 2004.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, we note, dear blog reader, that thankfully, it'll soon be September. Party.

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