Saturday, August 25, 2012

Week Thirty Six: Writing Comedy Prose For Radio Shows

Doctor Who showrunner and executive producer The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has dismissed claims - by glakes - that the series suffers from budget issues. Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, Moffat admitted that he would never turn down 'more money' but insisted that the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama's current budget is ample. 'The schedule and the pressure of trying to do Doctor Who on any budget - including Avatar's - is horrific,' he said. 'I am never, ever going to say I've got enough [money] - that's like asking, "Would you like to be more happy?"' However, he clarified: 'Doctor Who is incredibly well looked after by the BBC - they are incredibly aware of its crown jewel status, that it's not merely a show that's successful now. I truly believe it could be a show that outlives everybody in this room. It could carry on that long, so it doesn't just make money now - it'll make money forever.' Moffat concluded by maintaining that he has 'no complaints' about the amount of money allocated to Doctor Who. 'Of course I'd like more money, [just as I'd like] to be happier, thinner and more handsome!'

BBC2's lavish new period drama Parade's End made an impressive start on Friday night, overnight ratings data suggests. Starring yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch his very self, the five-part series kicked-off with 3.13m punters on BBC2 in the 9pm hour, topping the slot for half-an-hour between 9pm and 9.30pm. The recently-voted Terrestrial Channel of the Year's 8pm hour combination of Mastermind (2.16m) and Gardeners' World (2.44m) boosted Parade End's chances with a strong lead-in. Over on BBC1, wretched, unfunny In with the Flynns dipped to 2.71m in its new 9pm slot, but the audience rose to 4.02m half-an-hour later for a repeat of Mrs Brown's Boys. Which is funny. A necessary difference, I feel. Celebrity Big Brother finished third in the hour for Channel Five with 1.86m for big fat cuddly Cheryl Fergison's eviction, slightly down on Thursday's audience of two million. Overall, BBC1 topped primetime with 19.8 per cent of the audience share, above ITV's 17.6 per cent.

Harry Hill's Channel Four reunion was attended by under a million viewers on Thursday night, overnight data suggests. Whatever Happened To Harry Hill? (to which the answer would seem to be, he forgot how to be funny), an - if you will - mockumentary reliving the comic's cult Channel Four sketch show with Al Murray and Burt Kwouk, attracted just eight hundred and seventeen thousand punters in the 9pm hour. Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer's new spoof quiz show, Vic & Bob's Lucky Sexy Winners, followed with an even worse five hundred and seventy four thousand at 10pm - the Funny Fortnight season line-up denting the broadcaster's share for the night significantly. Liverpool Alabama Yee Haw's trip to Hearts in the Europa League gave ITV4 an impressive average audience of 1.38m between 7pm and 10pm, helping the sports channel trump Channel Four. For some of the 9pm hour, ITV4 was even rating higher than its terrestrial big brother ITV, which had just 1.51m viewers for the concluding part of Jennifer Saunders utterly worthless factual vehicle Back in the Saddle. The Hairy Dieters maintained a more-than-decent 2.86m over on BBC2 at 8pm, after which 1.75m watched a special Springwatch. Crimewatch on BBC1 won the 9pm slot with just 2.75m. Overall, BBC1 led primetime with 18.8 per cent of the audience share, ahead of ITV which had 15.8 per cent.

On which ratings-factoid-malarkey, here's the next batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Friday 31 August
Chris Evans and Alex Jones present the final ONE Show of the week - 7:00 BBC1 - featuring the usual mix of celebrity guests and stories about people in extraordinary circumstances. It says here.

'Can someone tell me why I'm here, watching the ruling class in its death throes?' wonders young suffragette Valentine Wannop at the Eton cricket match in the latest episode of Parade's End - 9:00 BBC2. It's a valid question for the viewer to ask, as well. As one posh character after another bemoans their lot ('God, I'm so bored of it!'; 'Beastliness everywhere!' et cetera), ones sympathy could be forgiven for wobbling and then falling to the floor and shattering into a million tiny fragments. Luckily yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch is at the heart of the fractured plot and his character – repressed and dutiful Christopher – acts as a moral centre of gravity. In this episode, he has a fireside chat with Miss Wannop which culminates in a speech about his values ('Duty and service to above and below. Frugality. Keeping your word. Honouring the past') that feels as though he's baring his flinty soul. Or, reading an extract from Wisden. But the reunion with Sylvia (Rebecca Hall) doesn't go well. She pines for Christopher yet he, amazingly, resists her pining. Meanwhile, the cuckoo vicar (Rufus Sewell) is back, this time railing against brassières, of all things. A public reunion appears to draw a line under Christopher and Sylvia's relationship troubles - but behind closed doors, their marriage remains on unsteady ground. Valentine's continued presence does not make matters any easier, as Christopher struggles to uphold his vows and resist his attraction to her. However, as their domestic dramas continue, a far greater threat looms in the outside world as war seems increasingly likely.

Saturday 1 September
Yer actual Matt Smith returns as the best known time-traveller in the universe in the long-awaited opening episode (the seven hundred and eighty fifth, fact fans) of the new series of Doctor Who - 7:20 BBC1. In Asylum of the Daleks, The Doctor, Amy and Rory are kidnapped by their deadly foe The Daleks (what, did you think it was going to feature The Fish People, or what?) and forced to go on a seemingly impossible mission - to enter the Asylum, a planetary prison containing the most terrifying and insane of the aliens' kind. They need an escape route, and fast - but with a mad, mechanised army closing in, and the Ponds' marital relationship in meltdown, it is up to the Time Lord to save not only their lives but his friends' marriage. The excellent Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill co-star. Or,if you prefer, you could watched Red or Black? and The X Factor on ITV instead. In which case, piss off from this blog and never return you brain-tripe waste of oxygen. Thanks muchly.

Alan Yentob profiles the author Ford Madox Ford and explores some of his most notable works, including The Good Soldier and the four-volume novel Parade's End, which has been adapted for television by acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard in The Culture Show - 9:30 BBC2. The presenter and BBC executive examines how Ford's experiences on the front line during the First World War informed his work, looks into his personal and political beliefs and reveals his links to some of Britain's most notable writers, including Joseph Conrad, DH Lawrence and Ezra Pound. The programme also features contributions from Ford enthusiasts including John Simpson, Booker Prize-winning novelist Ben Okri and academic Hermione Lee.

The police are called on to quell what appears to be the beginning of a new Mafia war when a man is found murdered in the latest episode of Inspector Montalbano - 9:00 BBC4. But, Montalbano has doubts about the nature of the killing. After being taken off the case to investigate the disappearance of a Ukrainian woman, he uncovers a series of links between the two events. Italian crime drama, starring Luca Zingaretti.

Sunday 2 September
Ellen Mallam is left to drown in an upturned car by its driver, but the young woman's connection to James Blackstone, an aristocratic family's heir apparent, impedes Gently and Bacchus's investigation in Inspector George Gently - 8:30 BBC1. The chief inspector discovers that the son's future has been carefully mapped out since birth by his implacable mother Alethea, and she will not countenance any interference in her plans. However, an astonishing twist causes the detectives to reconsider the case in its entirety. Sixties-set Northern detective drama, starring Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby, with Geraldine Somerville, James Norton, Roger Lloyd Pack, Christopher Fairbank and Ebony Buckle.

Further coverage of the fourth day of the Paralympics - 7:00 Channel Four - features athletics at the Olympic Stadium, swimming at the Aquatics Centre and wheelchair basketball at the Basketball Arena. The athletics finals include the men's T44 two hundred metres, which is expected to feature a battle for gold between South Africa's Oscar Pistorius and Jerome Singleton of the USA, and Britain's David Weir is one of the favourites in the men's T54 five thousand metres. Other British hopefuls this evening are Libby Clegg in the women's T12 one hundred metres, Ben Rushgrove and Graeme Ballard in the men's T36 one hundred metres, Mickey Bushell in the men's T53 four hundred metres and Katrina Hart in the women's T37 one hundred metres. There are also finals in the pool, where Team GB's hopes of success focus on Hannah Russell in the women's S12 one hundred metres butterfly, Heather Frederiksen in the women's S8 fifty metres freestyle and the men's four by one hundred metres freestyle relay. Plus, action from the Basketball Arena, where Great Britain take on Poland in their latest Group B match in the men's wheelchair basketball.

If you missed it when it premièred a couple of weeks ago, dear blog reader, this blogger urges you to give The Best of Men - 10:00 BBC2 - a view. In the later stages of the Second World War a refugee German doctor arrives to treat paralysed soldiers at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Ludwig Guttmann (Eddie Marsan) finds a hospital where those with spinal injuries are heavily sedated, referred to as 'moribund' and, essentially, left to rot with bed sores. But, not for long. Guttmann launches a new care regime that treats the patients as people, young men with a future. 'You have life waiting for you, a good life,' he promises the most despairing patient, then sets about creating it, using music, humour and, most importantly, sport as tools to motivate them. This is veteran writer Lucy Gannon's recasting of the Paralympics' creation myth as a tale of prejudice defeated in the fusty 1940s. Marsan is terrific as the enlightened troublemaker treading on all the right toes, but a brilliant turn from Rob Brydon as ward joker Wynne Bowen steals the show from under him. It's a very moving story and you'll never see the Paralympics in quite the same way again.

Monday 3 September
In their first case without trusty colleague Jack (James Bolam having left in the last episode), the team reinvestigates the disappearance of PE teacher Jason Bowe when the remains of a body are discovered near the elite public boarding school where he taught in New Tricks - 9:00 BBC1. Well, they do if all of their writers haven't blacked the series by that stage after various recent shenanigans and examples of actors mouthing off without thinking. Unfortunately, their snooping could not have come at a worse time for the staff (and, no, I'm not talking about Radio Times interviews here), who are preparing to welcome a local MP to open their new computer centre - but what they do glean tells them the dead man seemed very much a loner. However, it soon turns out he got on much better with his students, forming close and inappropriate relationships with several. But could his behaviour have rattled someone enough to kill him? Two of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's most favouritist actresses in all the land, House of Cards's Susannah Harker and Nicola Walker from [Spooks] guest star. Should be worth watching, then. If they've been provided with a script, of course.

A Mother's Son - 9:00 ITV - is the first of a new two-part drama, starring Hermione Norris, Martin Clunes, Paul McGann and Alexander Arnold. Okay, that sounds very interesting (although, it'll be tough predicting what they'll be watching in the McGann household tonight as Susannah Harker, is the other side at the same time!) The murder of a schoolgirl rocks the residents of a quiet coastal town in Suffolk, and when a mother stumbles upon a pair of bloodstained trainers hidden in her home, she suspects someone in her newly merged family may have been involved in the killing. Concludes tomorrow.

Alastair Sooke explores the artistic achievements of the Romans, tracing their progression from thieves and copycats to pioneers of the use of unflinching realism and asking, you know, what they ever did for us in The Treasures of Ancient Rome - 9:00 BBC4. Portraits from the Republic reveal how they captured lifelike images and immortalised figures such as Julius Caesar and Cicero using marble, bronze and paint. Alastair also looks at how Rome's first emperor, yer actual Augustus, used art as a tool to forge his dominion.

Tuesday 4 September
Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood assess the remaining contestants' dessert-making skills in The Great British Bake Off - 8:00 BBC2. The hopefuls start by creating tortes before tackling this week's technical test - the delicate French dish of creme caramel. Nice. Though these two rounds provide a stern examination of the amateurs' creative flair and technical ability, they then face possibly the toughest task of the series so far - a six-hour challenge to create a show-stopping layered meringue. Once the sugar has set, who will be this week's Star Baker, and who will be going home? Presented by Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins.

The week's episode of the ITV clip-show, The Unforgettable - 8:00 - looks at one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's great favourites of the 1970s, The Sweeney. Not that he wants to piss anybody off, of course, but the similar BBC4 Call The Cops documentary which he was involved in was almost certainly better! Anyway, dear blog reader, get yer trousers on, or you'll get nicked as this documentary looks back at the hard-hitting 1970s police drama, which starred John Thaw and Dennis Waterman as two coppers, with shootahs, taking down armed blaggers across The Smoke. Plus, lots of geezers who've bounced a few Gregorys, done some blags, pulled a few strokes and even done a little Richard. Not many, Uncle. Featuring contributions by Waterman himself (though, mercifully, this time he doesn't sing the theme song), as well as Thaw's widow Sheila Hancock and Ray Winstone - star of the new Sweeney film.

Anna Maxwell Martin stars in the last of bitter old Red Jimmy McGovern's single dramas Accused - 9:00 BBC1, which in a break from the usual format provides a link with last week's hour of misery and human detritus. She stars as happily married mother-of-three Tina, who works as an officer in a young offenders' institution. One cold morning she oversees the transfer of a new inmate but her sense that things are not quite right turns out to be an understatement when the boy commits suicide soon after and she has to face his distraught father. However, her problems have only just begun, and after a series of betrayals and cover-ups Tina becomes the victim of a terrible crime forcing her to take the law into her own hands - and leading her eventually into the dock herself. Ewen Bremner and John Bishop co-star. Last in the series.

Wednesday 5 September
The much-trailed Mrs Biggs - 9:00 ITV - is a new drama about the lives of Ronnie Biggs and his wife Charmian, starring the excellent Daniel Mays and Sheridan Smith. The couple meet on a London commuter train and embark on a passionate affair, after which they elope to the south coast with money Ronnie made Charmian steal from work. Ronnie goes to prison, and following his release vows to go straight - but everything changes when he asks old friend Bruce Reynolds to lend him the deposit for a house. Reynolds' money is tied up planning what is to become the biggest heist in British history - The Great Train Robbery - and he manages to wear down Ronnie's reluctance about becoming involved in the crime. With Adrian Scarborough, Caroline Goodall and Jay Simpson.

Dallas - 9:00 Channel Five - is, just in case you were wondering, an updated version of the popular 1980s soap, following the glamorous lives and vicious feuds of Texas oil dynasty the Ewings into the Twenty First Century. The series begins with Bobby's son Christopher preparing to marry his fiancee Rebecca, a grand occasion that has brought the whole family back to Southfork Ranch. However, Bobby is hiding a terrible secret - while John Ross Ewing, son of notorious schemer JR, has been doing some dodgy deals that threaten to tear the clan apart once more. Starring Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe and Jordana Brewster, as well as original cast members Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray.

Storyville: The Seven Hundred And Fifty Million Dollar Thief - 9:00 BBC4 - features an interesting conceit. Marc H Simon's documentary follows his former employer and mentor Marc Dreier during his sixty-day wait for sentencing while under house arrest in 2009. The fraudster cheated investors to fund an extravagant lifestyle of yachts, works of art, houses and celebrity events sponsored by his Manhattan law firm for six years before the credit crunch led to the collapse of the enterprise.

Thursday 6 September
Sav is stalked and threatened by Callum Rose, who seems to know a lot about him and claims to have been waiting for Finch in a car outside the house the night Sav returned in the second episode of Good Cop - 9:00 BBC1. Could he be the only witness to the murder? Meanwhile, the policeman and new partner Amanda try to identify a homeless woman who leaped off a building, and a meeting with ex-girlfriend Cassie fails to go to plan. Crime drama, starring Warren Brown, Michael Angelis, Aisling Loftus and Stephen Walters.

Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn try to re-create the experience of British rural life during the Second World War in Wartime Farm - 8:00 BBC2. However, in addition to the day-to-day challenges of running a farm, including managing livestock and cultivating land, they also have to endure the wartime restrictions placed on farmers by Winston Churchill's government. They begin by attempting to modernise their farmhouse and reclaim land for crop-growing. Peter works with a blacksmith to design a plough for draining waterlogged fields, while Ruth and Alex struggle to get the wheat crop sown. The trio also learn about life in the Auxiliary Units, a resistance force trained to use guerrilla tactics against German invasion.

The Bletchley Circle - 9:00 ITV - is a, really rather good-looking, drama set in 1952, following four fictional women whose extraordinary work at Bletchley Park during the Second World War helped break codes used by the German military. Susan, Millie, Jean and Lucy have returned to their normal lives, but when Susan identifies a hidden pattern in a series of murders, she enlists the help of her former colleagues to crack the case. Starring Anna Maxwell Martin, Rachael Stirling, Julie Graham and Sophie Rundle.
And, so to the news: The BBC is aiming to 'reinvigorate' The Voice by cutting back on live shows and making more of the swivelling chairs element throughout the second series. Mark Linsey, controller of entertainment commissioning at the BBC, said it was a 'fair comment' to say the first series of The Voice had not worked as well as the corporation hoped. The show began with very strong ratings for the prerecorded blind auditions, featuring the judges giving their verdict while facing away from the singers, and only afterwards swivelling in their chairs to see what they looked like. However, ratings for The Voice dipped when the show moved on to live performance rounds - albeit, the first two of those also achieved huge audiences, the drop only really occurring when the BBC switched the show's transmission time for 7pm to 6pm around episode eight - picking up again for the final two episodes. 'It was the first series and we learned from that,' he said, speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival on Friday. 'The bit that worked really, really well was the blind auditions – it gives it narrative.' Linsey said that the live show element works well for Strictly Come Dancing, Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor but it was not something that translated well to The Voice. 'We will be doing less live shows,' he added. 'Those live shows, the audience became over-familiar with that grammar, they know what's coming – it's very predictable. We were worried about the live shows because they did tail off in some other territories [where The Voice is aired]. We always expected a ratings dip after the blind auditions.' He would not elaborate on how the second series would make more of the judges' swivel chairs – in the first series they were only used during the blind auditions when acts were selected. Linsey added that the BBC was currently in talks with the judges – Danny O'Donoghue, Jessie J, Sir Tom Jones and – and said that it was 'almost certain' that all four would be returning for the second series. Elaine Bedell, director of entertainment and comedy at ITV, told the same Edinburgh session that she was not concerned about the dip in ratings when The X Factor returned last weekend. 'It was the hottest day of the year [and] possibly the aftermath of the Olympics,' she said. 'The X Factor is on for a lot of weeks of the year, we are just at the beginning. We have a really good audition tour, everyone thinks it is one of the best ever. We have some great acts coming through.'

Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, has outlined his grandiose plans to replace BBC Scotland with a new public service broadcaster – potentially partly funded by advertising – if Scottish voters back independence. Salmond said the public service broadcaster would be built on 'the assets and staff of BBC Scotland' and funded 'mainly' by licence fee payers. However, the Scottish National party leader refused to rule out the prospect of the network carrying advertising alongside its public funding. Salmond told the Edinburgh International Television Festival on Friday that Scottish viewers had been 'short-changed' by fifty years of broadcasting policy dictated from Westminster. 'Hoots mon, it's ooor oil y'ken,' he noted. Or, something. 'Scotland's contribution to broadcasting is unparalleled. Television was invented by John Logie Baird and the very concept of public service broadcasting was shaped by Lord Reith,' Salmond said. 'But Scottish viewers and TV production talent are today being short-changed. Viewers are clearly voting with their remote controls for more Scottish content. Yet we do not have an English-language public service broadcasting channel of our own,' he said. Pressed on how the network would be funded, Salmond said it would rely on the existing three hundred and twenty million licence fee fund but that commercial avenues were 'not necessarily a problem in principle.' He declined to rule out the prospect of the channel carrying advertising, likening the proposed public service broadcaster to Ireland's RTE network, which is partially funded by the public and by advertisers. Salmond said popular BBC shows, including EastEnders, Doctor Who and Top Gear, would still be available to Scottish viewers, alongside programmes 'more tailored' to news and events in the country. So, a White Heather Club revival, then? Salmond said the proposals were 'in the thick of' his top priorities for Scotland if voters back independence in the October 2014 referendum. His plans, however, were quickly criticised by the shadow secretary of state for Scotland, Margaret Curran. She said: 'Today Alex Salmond told us that he's going to break up the BBC with no details about how he would do it or what it means for Scottish viewers or the people whose jobs rely on our TV industry.'

Sky TV director Stuart Murphy has revealed that he is looking for an 'enormous' reality show to air on Sky1. Isn't everyone? Ex-Big Brother boss Phil Edgar Jones, whose other TV credits include The Salon, Space Cadets and Shattered, has been given the task of finding the hit format. 'We have Phil Edgar Jones who is the master of cruelty,' Murphy told the Edinburgh TV Festival. 'He worked with Endemol and Big Brother. People forget from his CV though, he also did Shattered and Space Cadets. Massive and crazy things - and the craziest was Big Brother.' Going into detail about the sort of reality show he would like, Murphy said: 'At Sky1 we have talked a lot of getting out of the studio. We really need something of enormous scale. We need people to say, "I can't believe Sky did that. That's mental." Stuff that's enormous.' Murphy dismissed suggestions that the channel should attempt an X Factor-type show, claiming that he is 'bored of the whittle. The whittling down process shows are on other channels. Sky should give additional stuff to viewers,' he said.

The Press Complaints Commission had received more than eight hundred and fifty complaints about the Sun's decision to publish the pictures of Prince Harry naked in a hotel room in Las Vegas by late on Friday evening as it emerged that two more women are alleged to 'be touting photos and video of the controversial strip pool party.' According to the Gruniad Morning Star the newspaper regulator said it had not, however, received a complaint from any representative of the prince himself, despite a stiff warning issued by Prince Charles's personal lawyers that publication would be a breach of his son's privacy. 'Almost all the complaints are from members of the public and nearly all are about invasions of privacy,' said a spokeswoman for the PCC. The Sun carried the photos on its front page on Friday with the headline: Heir It Is – pic of naked Harry you've already seen on the Internet. Or, if you haven't, you have now. It claimed the royal family was trying to 'muzzle the world's most vibrant newspaper' - by which, we can only presume it means itself, although it seems to have confused the world 'vibrant' with the words 'odious, scummish and rancid' - and there was 'a clear public interest' for publication, claiming that it was important its readers were fully informed about a 'legitimate public debate about the behaviour of the man who is third in line to the throne.' Just for the Sun's information, this blogger is a fully paid up member of the public and has zero interest in seeing Prince Harry's man bits thrust down my throat at breakfast. Or, indeed, any other time. Just so we're clear about this. St James's Palace, which had used law firm Harbottle & Lewis to warn papers that publication would be a breach of the PCC's code of conduct in relation to photos taken on private property, said it had 'no comment to make on the photos or the prince's privacy.' Harbottle & Lewis had said there was 'no justification' under English law to publish and that 'the only possible reason for publication of the photographs is one of prurience and nothing more.' Reaction to the Sun's decision was mixed: press freedom campaigners (or, 'journalists', in other words) came out in support but some media lawyers branded it a cynical move designed to make money from increased sales. No shit, Sherlock! You think? The Daily Scum Mail demanded explanations about the royal protection officer who apparently watched while the game of 'strip pool' was being played and was photographed by the young women who were at Harry's party. And then blamed it all on asylum seekers and the BBC whilst complaining about house prices. So, no change there then. Public relations consultant Max Clifford - an odious slimeball who has made the majority of his money by exploiting exactly this sort of thirst for titillation which exists within a section of the British public - claimed that he had received two calls 'within two or three hours of each other' from two American women on Thursday who claimed to have more video and photographic evidence for sale. 'They said they have very interesting material and was I the same person who represented Simon Cowell and would I represent them? I said "no." There was a silence. I said I don't think it's right. It's an invasion of privacy,' Clifford said. The photos used by the Sun and seen by millions around the world were first sold to the Los Angeles showbiz site TMZ and then syndicated internationally by celebrity news agency, Splash News which was charging British titles ten grand a snap for the set of photos. The Sun's decision to publish amounted to a complete U-turn by the paper: twenty four hours earlier it had acquiesced to Prince Charles's request not to proceed with publication on the grounds that it would be a breach of clause three of the PCC's code of practice, which says it is 'unacceptable' to use photos of people shot in private places. Instead, it went ahead with a mock-up of the pictures using a naked picture of a twenty one-year-old female intern and the paper's picture editor. Classy. Billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth defended the Sun's right to publish pictures of Prince Harry naked, saying on Friday it would be 'sad' if newspapers could not print something that was so freely available on the Internet. The decision to publish comes at a sensitive time for British newspapers which are facing the threat of statutory regulation from Leveson inquiry into media ethics. So, in fact, the Sun might have done everyone a massive favour by giving Lord Leveson a perfect - and, what would likely be a very popular - excuse to throw the worthless PCC in the bin where it belongs and bring in some, rather swingeing, press regulation. Jailing editors who contemptuously, break the code might be an interesting place to start, I'd suggest. Alleged 'sources' at News International allegedly said that the decision was, allegedly, 'not taken lightly', but there was a feeling that if they did not publish, 'a line would be drawn in the sand in the wrong place' in terms of the boundaries for privacy claims. Media lawyer Mark Stephens said there was 'no public interest' in publication and claimed the Sun had 'broken the law cynically, and obviously with a view to obtaining publicity.' Stephens said: '[Lord Justice Leveson] will be sitting there looking at what the Sun has done, and thinking, "I'm going to have to regulate for the lowest common denominator, because I can't trust them to look after themselves."' There is no indication that other British newspapers will follow the Sun and publish the photos. The Daily Mirra said it decided not to publish because it felt 'it would be in clear breach of the PCC editors' code of practice regarding intrusion of privacy, which we signed up to.'

A Norwegian art gallery has admitted losing a Rembrandt etching worth up to five and a half grand in the post, after trying to save money on a courier and insurance. The Soli Brug Gallery in Greaaker, eighty kilometres south of Oslo, bought the Dutch master's Lieven Willemsz, van Coppenol, Writing-Master from a British dealer. The etching, made around 1658, is now lost in the Norwegian postal system. The gallery's chairman Ole Derje said they had used regular mail as couriers and insurance were 'quite expensive.' He said that he received notice to collect the piece. When he arrived, though, it was nowhere to be found. 'It is worth around forty to fifty thousand krone,' he said, claiming that the postal service was only offering compensation of between five hundred and one thousand krone. Derje declined to name the seller, citing confidentiality concerns. The Soli Brug Gallery already displays works by Rembrandt, Goya, Munch and Dali. 'We are sorry that this has happened,' said Hilde Ebeltoft-Skaugrud, a spokesman for the Norwegian postal service. 'We have advised him to use a more appropriate form of mail when sending items that are worth as much as this with the appropriate insurance connected.'

Archaeologists have claimed that yer actual Richard III his very self could be buried under a car park in Leicester. Now is the winter of his discombobulation, as it were. Experts from Leicester University, hoping to uncover the royal's remains on Saturday, believe that he is located outside the city council's offices. Richard was King of England between 1483 and 1485, before being ousted from his throne by Henry Tulip at the Battle of Bosworth field. Come on, you've seen The Black Adder, surely? Historical records indicate that he was buried in a Franciscan friary known as Greyfriars. Richard Buckley, the archaeologist leading the dig, told Sky News: 'The big question for us is determining the whereabouts of the church on the site, and also where in the church the body was buried. Although in many ways finding the remains of the king is a long shot, it is a challenge we shall undertake enthusiastically. There is certainly potential for the discovery of burials within the area, based on previous discoveries and the postulated position of the church.'

Thus we come to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Play that bassoon, David.

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