Friday, September 07, 2012

I Hope To God I'm Talkin' Metaphorically

Psst. Wanna see a new publicity shot from Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, dear blog reader? I'll take that as a 'yes' then, shall I?
Many reality TV shows have aspired to be the 'real-life Truman Show,' but a new - and, frankly, sick-sounding - series from Sky 1 may be the closest yet. The project will see Sky cameras set up camp in an as yet unidentified town, following the trials and tribulations of a group of families for an entire year. Sky1's 'stripped reality soap' will be filmed using Big Brother-style fixed rig and single cameras and will, according to the broadcaster, 'use all the techniques of reality TV and soap opera on a scale never seen before.' It is fourteen years since The Truman Show, the - rather over-rated - Peter Weir film starring Jim Carrey which eerily presaged the reality TV era. Unlike Truman Burbank, the character played by Carrey, the participants in the Sky show will be aware they are being filmed and will be allowed to leave the programme at any time they please. Stuart Murphy, Sky's director of entertainment channels, claimed it would offer an 'extraordinary and unvarnished insight into British life' and deliver 'enormous scale, with a sense of fun.' The show is being developed by Sky's in-house production team based in Osterley as part of a drive to make more of its own non-scripted shows. The first development from Sky's new in-house production team, the project is being led by Gigi Eligoloff, in a team that includes Patrick Brannan and Jamie Brannan. They report to Danny Tipping, head of programming and development at Parthenon Media Group, the distribution and rights management company bought by Sky in July. The new show, which does not yet have a title, was commissioned by Phil Edgar Jones, Sky's head of entertainment and a former Big Brother executive producer. Murphy added: 'Sky's the fastest growing investor in original British production and as such it makes sense that we'd look to grow our capability to do more. Therefore we are looking to develop some non-scripted programming ideas in-house. Although it's early stages, this development reflects how we want to remain flexible enough to consider ambitious in-house productions that can sit alongside our continued investment in indies.'

Fans of sour-faced, grumpy old Daily Mirra TV critic Jim Shelley - and there are a few such sad, crushed victims of society, by all accounts - had better make the most of his remaining Monday columns. After more than ten years at the Mirra writing Shelley Vision, the Gruniad claims that Jimbo will be leaving the paper for pastures new. Or, he's getting the old heave-ho, in other words. Shelley, shortlisted for critic of the year at this year's Press Awards (although, by whom, this blogger knows not), was hired by former Mirra editor, odious twat and insider trader Piers Morgan to replace Charlie Catchpole in 2001. Shelley created the Tapehead TV column, which ran for seven years in the Gruniad Morning Star's Saturday Guide from 1993 - which explains the rather sycophantic write-up his departure got from the risible hippie lice at the Gruniad, presumably - after which he was briefly the Scum Mail on Sunday's TV critic before joining the Mirra. The intro to Shelley's latest column this week clearly works on more than one level: 'Doctor Who was back. The country may be in ruins, our future haunted by uncertainty ...'

Torchwood star yer actual Eve Myles her very self will play the title role in new BBC drama Frankie. The six-part series, written by Lucy Gannon (author of the recently, acclaimed The Best of Men), will follow Frankie, a Bristol nurse who cares more for her patients than her own personal life. Dean Lennox Kelly will play Frankie's boyfriend Ian, while Derek Riddell will star as her colleague and confidant, Andy. 'This is an incredible leading part for a female,' said Myles. 'It's tremendous pressure but also tremendously exciting. I can't wait to step into Frankie's shoes and get on set. I'm desperate to start. Frankie is an infectious character, she's electric, quirky, wonderful at her job and adapts to every situation. She's a vibrant woman trying to live life in the fast lane and juggle a job. Lucy Gannon is an incredible writer and writes relationships so beautifully.' Gannon herself added: 'I'm thrilled to be writing about strong modern people, people you and I might know, in our real life communities, a team of lively, varied people who all - whatever their flaws - are determined to make a difference, to make life better.' Julia Ford, Leila Mimmack and Carla Henry will also appear in Frankie, which is currently filming in Bristol and will be broadcast on BBC1 in early 2013.

EastEnders cast members Marc Elliott and John Partridge, who play gay lovers Syed Masood and Christian Clarke, are to be written out of the BBC1 soap. Partridge joined the show in 2008 while Elliott joined the following year. Elliott said his time on the series had been 'brilliant,' adding he was pleased at how it had addressed 'the sensitive subject matter of being a gay Muslim.' Partridge echoed those sentiments but said that 'leaving at the same time as Marc felt like the only thing to do. I have had the time of my life at EastEnders but I have always gone with my gut,' said the musical theatre performer, who appeared as a judge on the BBC's Over the Rainbow lack of talent show. 'It is the right end to the story, and for Christian. But also, excitingly, the start of a whole new chapter for me. As an actor you are always looking for new challenges,' continued Elliott. 'I feel that now is the right time to move on and explore different projects, perhaps returning to my roots in theatre.' It is not yet known how Elliott and Partridge's characters will come to leave Albert Square.

Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads has reacted angrily to a scheduling clash between the US version of The Voice and the first episode of his new US X Factor series. Earlier this week, NBC made a last-minute decision to broadcast a third episode of The Voice next Wednesday, on the same night X Factor returns to FOX. 'It is a spoiling tactic. They [NBC] don't want people to see this first episode,' whinged Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads. 'I think it is mean-spirited and I hope and I pray it backfires on them.' Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads accusing someone else of being 'mean-spirited..' Meanwhile, in other news, a pot was arrested for calling a kettle black. The new series of The X Factor sees Britney Spears and Demi Lovato (no, me neither) join the judging panel, alongside last year's judges, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads and LA Reid. Former judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger left the show after a disappointing first series, which failed to draw the expected ratings. Rival reality show, The Voice, which launched in 2011, features Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, Blake Shelton and Adam Levine on the judging panel. It has proved a major hit for the NBC network, with the show now set to broadcast twice a year. The latest series was originally due to begin with a two-night premiere on Monday and Tuesday next week, until NBC scheduled an extra episode against X Factor. For a laugh. 'I am pissed off about it, because I think there's a kind of gentleman's agreement [not to go head to head],' Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads told reporters on the phone. 'But we have to rely that the viewers will make the right selection.' The two shows pit one-time Disney child stars Aguilera and Spears against each other. 'Britney's not going to appreciate the fact that Christina - who has been a bit of a rival - isn't allowing Britney to have a night of her own,' Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads told celebrity website TMZ. 'She's going to be devastated because she has put her heart and soul into this.' Perversely, the new season of The X Factor will also face competition from the finale of another Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads reality show, America's Got Talent, which broadcasts on NBC a week later. The first series of the US X Factor drew an average of twelve million viewers - less than half the number that watch American Idol - the talent show which Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads left to bring X Factor to America. Speaking after last year's début, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads admitted he had been 'too cocky,' and suggested it was 'going to take a little longer than I thought' to establish the new format. Speaking on Thursday, he called the second series 'one of the best shows we've ever made,' adding that it 'looks different to anything we have ever made before and I think this is the reason why NBC decided to put The Voice up against us.'

Jonnie Peacock's one hundred metres win at the Paralympics was watched by more than six million viewers on Thursday night, Channel Four's most popular sporting action of the London Games to date. Channel Four's evening Paralympics programme averaged 3.5 million overnight viewers between 7.30pm and 10.30pm on Thursday. It had a fifteen-minute peak of 5.8 million between 9.15pm and 9.30pm and a five-minute peak of 6.3 million as nineteen-year-old Peacock won the race in 10.9 seconds – the second-fastest time in history behind his own world record. It was Channel Four's most-watched live action of the games, and the broadcaster's biggest Paralympics audience since the opening ceremony, which had an average of 7.6 million viewers and a fifteen-minute peak of 10.9 million. Channel Four, including Channel Four+1, had a fifteen per cent share of the peaktime audience between 6pm and 10.30pm, more than double BBC2's 6.7 per cent and not far off ITV's 16.9 per cent. ITV's new Anna Maxwell Martin drama, The Bletchley Circle - which yer actual Keith Telly Topping watched, and rather enjoyed in a sort of sub-Foyle's War type way - began with 3.98 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm plus an additional four hundred thousand on timeshift. The Bletchley Circle beat BBC1 drama Good Cop, which was watched by 3.3 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm. Both dramas lost out to Channel Four's Paralympics coverage, which averaged 5.15 million between 9pm and 10pm. New BBC2 series Wartime Farm, an eight-part documentary in which a farm is run in the style it would have been during the second world war, began with 2.5 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm, including eighty four thousand punters on BBC HD. Sky Atlantic's new landmark documentary series, The British, charting the history of the British Isles from the Roman era to the present day, launched with sixty six thousand viewers between 9pm and 10pm. This was twice the slot average over the last three months. Overall in a close race, BBC1 edged a lead primetime with 18.7 per cent, ahead of ITV's 16.9 per cent and Channel Four's 15.2 per cent.
Another journalist has been arrested by police investigating the alleged hacking of stolen mobile phones. The thirty three-year-old man remains in custody after going to a police station in South London by appointment on Friday. He is suspected of offences under the Theft Act, Computer Misuse Act and on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. In a separate development, publisher News International could face three hundred civil claims for hacking, a lawyer says. Scotland Yard said the latest arrest related to an alleged conspiracy to access information on stolen mobile phones. It is the twelfth arrest made by Met police officers working on the Operation Tuleta inquiry into computer hacking and other privacy breaches. It is being run alongside two other operations - Elveden, which is looking at alleged corrupt payments to public officials, and Weeting, which is looking at alleged phone hacking. Meanwhile, at the High Court on Friday, Hugh Tomlinson QC, lawyer for some alleged phone hacking victims, updated information about civil cases. Damages have already been paid to some victims, with singer Charlotte Church and her parents agreeing to damages and costs of six hundred thousand smackers with News Group Newspapers, part of News International and publishers of the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World.

Monty Python's Flying Circus stars - well, two of them, anyway - descended on a pub in North London to raise a glass to the life of a 'very naughty boy.' Michael Palin and Terry Jones were celebrating fellow Python Graham Chapman's life at the unveiling of a plaque to the comedian. The memorial to the comic, who died from cancer in 1989, was held at his 'manor' - the Angel in Highgate. The plaque references Chapman's role in the Life of Brian and says that he 'drank here often and copiously.' It was organised by the comic's family and friends after budget cuts forced English Heritage to abandon its official plaque. Comedians and former colleagues Barry Cryer and Carol Cleveland were also there to celebrate Graham's life and achievements. Yer actual Michael Palin said: 'This was Graham's manor and Graham was a lovely guy. I spent many happy times with him, most of which I forget. This was where he was and we used to come up here to see him. Highgate was his patch and he should be celebrated because he was a very good, brilliant, funny, nice, wise, kind man, who occasionally drank too much.' He said that he believed Chapman would have been 'pleased' that so many of his friends had turned out to celebrate his life. 'I think he'd be suitably impressed that we all came along. He would have stroked his sideburns a bit as he was known to do. I think he would have approved.' Cryer described Chapman as 'one of my best mates. We did an awful lot of writing together, but also an awful lot of drinking together. I think the pub is the perfect place to put the plaque. Very Graham, very silly.' Chapman's life and times will be the basis of the forthcoming film A Liar's Autobiography - The Untrue Story Of Monty Python's Graham Chapman. Based on his own book, it stars the man himself through audio recordings. The animated film brings the comic together with fellow Pythons Palin, Jones, John Cleese, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam for the first time in twenty three years.
Merlin co-creator Johnny Capps has revealed new details about the return of Uther Pendragon. The King of Camelot - played by yer actual Anthony Head his very self - was killed off in the BBC fantasy drama's fourth series, but will return for a one-off appearance in the fifth run. 'Arthur's having a bit of a wobble as king and needs some advice,' Capps told SciFiNow. 'It's nice because Uther comes back and is able to have those emotional scenes that he probably didn't have because he died sooner than he should have.' The producer also confirmed that Uther will confront Merlin (Colin Morgan) during his brief return to the show. 'He gets to play some key emotional scenes and he has this amazing scene with Merlin,' Capps said. 'They have a good conversation - a conversation that they should have had a long time ago about Arthur (Bradley James).' In addition to the upcoming fifth series, a trilogy of Merlin movies is also in the early stages of development.

The Scottish First Minister is to meet with the BBC's new director-general next week to discuss job cuts at the broadcaster. Alex Salmond told MSPs that BBC Scotland's loss of thirty five posts was 'extremely disappointing.' This is the same Alex Salmond, incidentally, that should Scotland gain independence wants to do away with the BBC entirely and replace it with something else. Speaking at First Minister's Questions in Holyrood, Salmond said he would be meeting director-general designate George Entwistle. BBC Scotland said its aim remained to provide high quality and distinctive programmes and services. Cuts are to be made to posts in news in Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen, or Dundee. Salmond said: 'The job cuts at BBC Scotland are extremely disappointing. I think this chamber should be aware of the contrast between the funding cuts that affected the BBC in Scotland, a sixteen per cent cut, with this government's decision to protect the funding for BBC Alba.' Referring to reports that the BBC could use staff from publicly-funded Gaelic service BBC Alba to cover for cuts in Inverness, Salmond said: 'That would be, in my estimation, a very serious position indeed and I will be putting that point directly to the BBC director-general designate when I speak to him next week. I'll make clear my concern on the impact of public sector broadcasting in Scotland.'

Will Smith has said that The Thick of It's writers were 'not flattered' when leader of the opposition Ed Milimolimandi used their phrase 'omnishambles' to describe the last budget. The word was first coined by Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) in the last series of the sitcom to describe then-government MP Nicola Murray (Rebecca Front) on learning that she was claustrophobic. Labour leader Milimolimandi borrowed the phrase in the House of Commons to refer to George Osborne's 'omnishambles Budget' earlier this year, and it gained further traction in Parliament and the political press. 'It feels like politicians are watching the show and embracing it,' co-writer Smith told ShortList. 'Ed Miliband used the phrase "omnishambles." That was baffling. It wasn't particularly flattering, it was more like, "What the hell are you doing?."' After Milimolimandi's comments in the House in April, show creator Armando Iannucci quipped on Twitter: 'Fantastic. With the royalties from Miliband's "omnishambles" quote we've now secured enough funding for a new series.' Producer Adam Tandy has said that the upcoming series of The Thick of It will have less swearing than previous years as the incoming coalition government are 'more prim.'

The Sun journalist who wrote the disgraced and since wholly discredited story alleging drunk Liverpool fans abused and pissed on victims and police during the Hillsborough disaster said he was 'aghast' when he saw the headline which the paper used. Reporter Harry Arnold claimed to the BBC that his story had been written in a 'fair and balanced way' and the controversial claims had been 'allegations.' He then tried to weasel the blame onto the editor, notorious lice bag and odious tower of shat Kelvin MacKenzie who wrote the headline The Truth. Official papers will be released on Wednesday, twenty three years after the disaster. The tragedy led to the deaths of ninety six people, ninety five on the day and one man who subsequently died in 1993, after four years in a persistent vegetative state. In the programme, called Hillsborough: Searching for the Truth, Arnold alleges: 'On the Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie was the rather controversial editor at the time, he liked to write his own headlines. He wrote the headline The Truth, and the reason I know that is I was about to leave the newsroom when I saw him drawing up the front page. When I saw the headline The Truth I was aghast, because that wasn't what I'd written. I'd never used the words the truth, "this is the truth about the Hillsborough Disaster" I'd merely written, I hoped and I still believe, in a balanced and fair way. So I said to Kelvin MacKenzie, "You can't say that." And he said "Why not?" and I said "because we don't know that it's the truth. This is a version of the truth." And he brushed it aside and said "Oh don't worry. I'm going to make it clear that this is what some people are saying." And I walked away thinking, "well I'm not happy with the situation." But the fact is reporters don't argue with an editor. And in particular, you don't argue with an editor like Kelvin MacKenzie.' All of which, frankly, sounds like the kind of spineless shitscum buck-passing you'd expect from someone who's done wrong, got found out and is now, not very successfully, trying to blame someone else. Sometimes, the lack of moral compass in journalism staggers this blogger. I hope you spend your life in misery, you vile and odious, sick little man. And that when you die, the last thing you see before you enter Hell are the faces of the victims whom you shamed with your words. Justice for the ninety six. A police officer who was on duty at Hillsborough when the events of 15 April 1989 unfolded told the programme that he 'understood' the anger of people in the ground at the time. The - nameless - officer said he had been at the scene and the fans did not behave in ways described by the Sun's front page headline or strap-lines. He said: 'I didn't see any Liverpool fans urinating on a police officer, or any police officers, and I didn't see any Liverpool fans steal money from dead people or pick money up that had fallen out of people's pockets. I didn't see that. And it probably didn't happen.' No, it definitely didn't happen, mate. it was lies put about, probably by a senior police officer in the South Yorkshire force in the days after the tragedy to deflect criticism away from his own force's almost criminal negligence and it was eagerly lapped up by several national newspaper, the Sun being, merely, the one that went furthest of all in printing such atrocious and despicable lies. On 15 April 1989, over ninety Liverpool fans were crushed to death and hundreds more injured on the steel-fenced terraces of Sheffield Wednesday's stadium, which was hosting the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Senior officers responsible for policing the game, David Duckenfield and Bernard Murray, faced disciplinary proceedings and both left the force soon afterwards. Murray was subsequently cleared of two counts of manslaughter and the jury could not reach a verdict on Duckenfield at a private prosecution at Leeds Crown Court in July 2000. The documents relating to the Hillsborough disaster will be released at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral on 12 September. The government and police documents will be released in conjunction with a report from the Hillsborough Independent Panel. It has examined hundreds of thousands of documents related to the disaster and has been chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones.

UKTV - the broadcaster jointly owned by BBC Worldwide and US media giant Scripps Networks Interactive - has announced plans to enter the video on-demand market with bespoke players branded to its channels. Free-to-air channels Dave, Yesterday and Really are to get their own on-demand services, offering viewers the chance to stream online shows such as Red Dwarf X, Suits, Find My Past and Hart of Dixie. Launching in beta mode in early October, the on-demand players will provide a mixture of catch-up and archive programming that can be viewed online at each of the network's branded channel websites. Viewers can head to Dave On-Demand to stream shows such as Red Dwarf X, Suits and Dara O'Briain: School of Hard Sums, to Yesterday On Demand for Museum Secrets, Mafia's Greatest Hits and Fight Club: A History of Violence or watch Hart of Dixie and Embarrassing Bodies on Really On Demand. This forms part of UKTV's expansion into digital, including recent deals to bring its on-demand content to digital TV services such as TalkTalk, BT Vision and Sky's on-demand platform. 'UKTV is investing more money in content than ever before and it is important we are servicing our viewers by enabling them to access Dave, Yesterday and Really directly for the very first time, through our On Demand Players - three vibrant and curated, direct to viewer, player services,' said UKTV chief executive Darren Childs. 'Part catch-up and part-archive, On Demand will offer the best of these populist channels - whether catching up on the brand new Red Dwarf X at Dave On Demand, or watching the top-rating factual series Museum Secrets all over again on Yesterday On Demand.' Dave and Yesterday, which both recently underwent brand refresh exercises, will be first to see their on-demand players go into beta in early October. Lifestyle channel Really will follow suit in late October. All the on-demand players will contain content for which UKTV owns catch-up rights, and will also include a curated archive of content from UKTV's commissions and acquisitions, and selected BBC programmes. UKTV has said that the players will be supported by advertising, presumably including pre- and possibly mid-roll video ads. UKTV director of operations, technology and innovation Beth Hine said: 'UKTV's brand new VOD services mean we can better serve our fans, ensuring they can catch up on some of their favourite programmes while also accessing a selection of shows from our archive. These VOD services will also offer an incremental opportunity for advertisers to engage with our brands and thus present a new revenue opportunity for UKTV.'

Culture and communications minister the slightly - but only slightly - less vile and odious as his former boss Ed Vaizey is to launch a new task force next week - led by the Digital TV Group - which will aim to keep Britain at the cutting edge of the TV industry. On Monday, Vaizey will officially announce the DTG's Future of Innovation in Television Technology Taskforce. The government-supported initiative will showcase UK leadership in television technology innovation, and also explore ways to build on this for future growth. From BBC iPlayer to Sky Go, Britain has consistently pushed the boundaries in modern TV services, including industry-leading innovation across both pay-TV and free-to-air sectors. Chaired by David Docherty, also chairman of the DTG, the task force will comprise a small group of experts and 'thought leaders' drawn from the content and technology sectors. It will help define the measures that should be implemented to 'leverage the UK's track record of innovating in television technology, in order to deliver sustainable UK economic growth.' A particular area of focus will be to build on the work of the DTG's D-Book 7: the technical specification for Freeview HD and connected TV that taps into the increasing convergence of broadcast and Internet-delivered services. 'The UK has a demonstrable track record of innovating in television technology, from the invention of television itself through to modern day innovations such as the BBC iPlayer, Freeview, Freesat, Red Button, Sky Go, Virgin TiVo and YouView,' said Docherty. 'According to recent research by Futuresource Consulting, UK programming is watched in about three hundred and fifty million homes in one hundred countries; making the country second only to the United States in terms of exports of programming. The UK also accounted for almost half of all online TV traffic in Europe in 2011.' He added: 'The Future of Innovation in Television Technology Taskforce will examine how we can build on this history of innovation to deliver sustainable UK economic growth through the convergence of creative, digital and IT.'

Great Britain surpassed their one hundred and three-medal target for the 2012 Paralympics in emphatic style on Thursday evening. Hannah Cockroft won gold in the T34 two hundr5ed metres, ParalympicsGB's one hundred and fourth medal at London. David Weir then won a tense T54 eight hundred - his third gold of the games - before Jonnie Peacock ran the fastest T44 one hundred metres in Paralympic history. The nineteen-year-old won in a time of 10.90 seconds as 'Blade Runner' Oscar Pistorius could finish only fourth. Earlier, Sarah Storey's victory in the cycling road race gave her an eleventh Paralympic gold medal, equalling the tallies of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and David Roberts. Fifteen-year-old swimmer Josef Craig also took gold in the S7 four hundred metres freestyle. It came after sailor Helena Lucas won the first gold of the day in the 2.4mR class. A silver medal for Heather Frederiksen in the pool had taken the GB tally to one hundred and three medals - one more than the haul from the team in Beijing with three days of competition still remaining - before Cockroft's triumph. Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, said: 'To win at least one hundred and three medals is a fantastic achievement particularly when you consider Paralympic sport is becoming hugely competitive with more nations investing significant resources in success.' ParalympicsGB chef de mission Craig Hunter said: 'It is testament to the talent, dedication and skill of the athletes who make up the team as well as to their support staff and to the funding we receive from the National Lottery and commercial partners.' But he added: 'The final target remains to finish second overall in the medal table. We know that this will be a close-run thing with three more days to go.' Cockroft took the overall medal tally to one hundred and four at the Olympic Stadium to signal the start of a successful evening on the track for Britain. The twenty-year-old Halifax racer, the world record holder and the one hundred metre champion, finished in 31.90 seconds, more than two seconds clear of the field. Six-time London Marathon winner Weir, thirty three, then took eight hundred metres gold in a nail-biting race to further extend ParalympicsGB's medal haul. 'That was hard work,' he said. 'I just had to dig deep.' Arguably one of the moments of the games came when teenage world record holder Peacock, who lost his right leg below the knee after contracting meningococcal septicaemia at the age of five, destroyed a one hundred metres field that also included South African Pistorius - the face of the games. Pistorius said: 'We witnessed one of the great Paralympic performances. He's still young. He's got a great future ahead of him.' Peacock said: 'We have had a great day. Hannah opened up the evening with a gold straight away and I knew David was going to win. It was just unreal.' Earlier, the astonishingly impressive Storey, thirty four, won her fourth gold of the games when she crossed the line more than seven minutes ahead of her rivals. The all-time British record belongs to Mike Kenny, who won sixteen golds in the four games up until 1988. Storey attacked almost from the gun at Brands Hatch and increased her lead throughout the race, with no other rider able to match her. She told BBC Radio 5Live: 'The records are lovely things to talk about but each race is an achievement, each is hard fought. Just being able to say that you have won for your country is a great honour.' In the pool, Craig set a new world record as he took gold for Great Britain in the men's S7 four hundred metres freestyle. The teenager said: 'I wanted to start [my career] in Rio [2016], but I now want to go there and smash that [world record] again.'

The previous evening, Bethany Woodward won her second medal in the space of two days as Great Britain's athletes swept past their Beijing haul. Sprinter Woodward, who has cerebral palsy, claimed silver in the T37 two hundred metres to go with her relay bronze. Nineteen-year-old Woodward was strong in the home straight to see off the challenge of Maria Seifert, finishing in 29.65 seconds, 0.21secs ahead of the German. Woodward told Channel Four: 'I was completely full of lactic [acid], just trying to dip because I could feel everyone there and I was like, "I've go to learn how to dip." I had to wait for it to come up on the board to realise I'd got the silver.' One of the biggest challenges for athletes with cerebral palsy is maintaining their form while running. 'It's extremely difficult,' said Woodward. 'Your body's doing one thing and your brain's trying to tell it to do another. It's like a brick wall that you have to break through to get it done. When I watch it back it's like we're in slow motion with our CP side. It's really tough.' Woodward's triumph was preceded by David Devine, who has a visual impairment, winning eight hundred metres bronze - adding to his third-place finish in the fifteen hundred metres.

Channel Four and London 2012 organisers have defended the fact they did not provide live coverage of Sarah Storey's historic victory in the cycling road race, one of the biggest moments of the Paralympic Games. The event was not covered live by Channel Four, which blamed the fact that the host broadcaster, Olympic Broadcasting Services, did not provide a live feed or live timing and graphics information. Nor will the channel, which is providing an unprecedented level of coverage from the London Paralympics, be able to show David Weir's attempt to win the wheelchair marathon live on the concluding day on Sunday. OBS, which is paid by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to provide coverage, only has cameras at certain venues 'for economic reasons.' The number of hours broadcast overseas is far lower than for the Olympics so OBS is unable to provide the same breadth of coverage. 'We would love to show every session of Paralympic sport live, and we are sure that day will come, but, for now, we had to make choices based on the available budget,' a LOCOG spokeswoman said. 'More Paralympic sports have been covered live at London 2012 than any other Paralympic Games, and the schedule was agreed with all the rights holding broadcasters in advance of the games.' The level of coverage that OBS provides was stipulated in the contract agreed when Channel Four outbid the BBC to win the rights in a deal worth around nine million smackers in 2010. The broadcaster, which is showing more than one hundred and fifty hours of live coverage on its main channel and has cleared its schedules for the event, has had to augment the OBS coverage with its own cameras. At Brands Hatch for Storey's fourth gold of these Games and eleventh overall, the broadcaster has been restricted to showing highlights and reports from its cycling expert Ned Boulting. 'Insiders' have, allegedly, pointed out that the volume of coverage and 'scale of ambition' is 'much greater' than anything ever attempted for the Paralympics before. And, to be fair, by and large, Channel Four's coverage so far has been highly praised by most of the media. LOCOG said that, despite selling the rights to more countries than ever before, it would have been 'simply uneconomic' for OBS to provide live coverage from the cycling road race from Brands Hatch and the marathon from central London. OBS was involved in other controversies during the Olympics. Before the games, there were clashes between Danny Boyle's creative team and OBS over camera positions for the Opening Ceremony. And there were furious complaints from cycling fans over the lack of timing information provided to the BBC commentary team during Mark Cavendish's failed bid to win the men's road race, after the GPS units used by organisers failed to work. A Channel Four spokesman said: 'The host broadcasters OBS do not provide live coverage, or live timing and graphics, for the Paralympic road cycling events – although Channel Four has put in place cameras at Brands Hatch and Ned Boulting has broadcast highlights and updates throughout our coverage. Channel Four is broadcasting an unprecedented level of coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, with through-the-day coverage broadcast on Channel Four and around five hundred hours of coverage in total across our channels.' Encouraged by healthy ratings for its Paralympic coverage, which has peaked at more than three million virtually every night and attracted more than seven million for the Opening Ceremony, Channel Four recently moved its only block of non-Paralympic programming - in the afternoons - to More4. It also providing three live streams via its website and is airing more than four hundred hours in total.

Whilst the London Olympics were triumphant at recapturing a sense of national pride in all but the most sour-faced and disgraceful of shits on the basis of meritocracy rather than royal privilege by birth, the Paralympics seem to have provided us with further reason to give ourselves a collective progressive pat on the back. There's a serious desire from major media outlets to use appropriate and respectful language when reporting on Paralympians. In The Guide to Reporting on Paralympic Sport, sent to journalists, the chief executive of the British Paralympic Association, Tim Hollingsworth, says: 'Only with your help in raising the profile of British Paralympic athletes can the BPA achieve its vision of positively affecting the way that British society thinks, feels and behaves towards disabled people.' One way he suggests this is done is for journalists to portray Paralympians as athletes before they are depicted as people who have overcome great adversity: 'Paralympic athletes want to be referred to as elite athletes first and foremost and as disabled people secondarily – if at all. Therefore the ideal way to refer to a Paralympian is as "a Paralympian" or "an athlete."' They may not have won the coverage rights, but the BBC is refreshingly keen to get it right. It has baffled some people, though. A BBC journalist said recently: 'The BBC advice on language during the Paralympics is coming thick and fast. Handicapped, mute, wheelchair-bound, able-bodied, the disabled, disabilities – are all words that surprisingly cannot be uttered. I feel sorry for the first person to cock up.' A BBC 5Live spokesperson said: 'The BBC takes its advice on language around disability from experts in the field including the British Paralympic Association and our own pundits – many of whom are Paralympians.' Fair, realistic and proportionate media representation of minority groups is easy to deride, but essential for neutral reporting. The Gruniad Morning Star is, as you might expect, proud of leading the way on this; it has long been the standard-setter on plain and appropriate English on disabled people. Juxtapose this with the Daily Scum Mail's Rick Dewsbury, who complained about the 'shameful propaganda' of the Olympic Opening Ceremony including 'far too many ethnic minority' performers, 'banana republics nobody even cares for', 'prancing self-indulgent nurses' and an 'absurdly unrealistic mixed-race middle-class family.' Such spiteful language spat on to the page – completely out of the spirit of the games – caused Twitter furore. Even the Daily Scum Mail seemed, for once, shamed into taking action and it removed the article from its website. Although, to be honest, it was a surprise that anyone was actually surprised by the article in the first place coming, as it did, from a newspaper with a long - and seemingly quite proud - history of supporting fascists. But, what of the broadcaster who won the Paralympics rights? Representative coverage is key to Channel Four; the project leader Deborah Poulton takes a swipe at the BBC when she says that the its past coverage of the Paralympics felt like 'a secondary act. For us, it's the main event,' she says, adding that coverage is 'all day, every day.' Except if it's Sarah Storey winning at Brands Hatch, of course. Then, it's just the highlights. The point of difference is the typically bold Channel Four willingness to trailblaze: beyond neutral coverage, its reporting ventures into humour and light-heartedness about disability. The Australian comedian and presenter Adam Hills (who was born without a right foot) is presenting the nightly highlights show The Last Leg on Channel Four and says: 'We'll be able to have fun with people's disabilities because they're funny. If the Paralympics is covered well, it can change way you look at and treat people with disabilities. You don't feel guilty or sorry about people in wheelchairs after you see them moving around a basketball court.' Hills was given a more prominent role at Channel Four after bosses heard him introducing Britain's minister for disabled people as the 'minister for mutants.' Could it be that we're now – finally – at the point where political correctness (if it ever even existed) has paid off and we're relaxed and comfortable enough to include humour in coverage of disabled people without it sounding patronising or mean? Self-deprecation has been a theme at both of the London Olympiads. Where the Beijing Olympics inadvertently highlighted human rights abuses, Britain's legacy has been to inspire a generation to appreciate the quirky, funny, diverse, multicultural and caring modern Britain. Proving that we can be both hilariously self-effacing (as shown in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies) as well as using inclusive language is a feat. The harmonious co-existence of these two qualities is a vindicating, two-fingered salute to the scum naysayers who claimed it could never be done without us appearing po-faced and priggish.

Michael Fassbender is to star in a film partially inspired by Frank Sidebottom, the eccentric comedy character renowned for his over-sized, papier-mache head. Frank, a Film4 collaboration with the Irish Film Board, tells of a musician who joins a band led by Fassbender's mysterious title character. The film is written by journalist and author Jon Ronson with Peter Straughan. Sidebottom, the creation of the late Chris Sievey, was an aspiring singer-songwriter from Greater Manchester. The character - often accompanied by his puppet sidekick, Little Frank - became a regular presence on TV in the 1980s and '90s. Ronson, who performed with Sievey as part of The Frank Sidebottom "Oh Blimey!" Big Band, said on Twitter he was 'thrilled' the film was being made by 'amazing people.' He described Frank as 'a fictional story inspired by great outsider musicians like Frank Sidebottom, Daniel Johnston and Captain Beefheart.' Domhnall Gleeson, son of Irish actor Brendan, will co-star with Fassbender in Lenny Abrahamson's film, to begin shooting later this year. Sievey died in June 2010 at the age of fifty four, having recently been diagnosed with cancer. Fassbender, seen in such films as Hunger and Inglourious Basterds, drew widespread acclaim earlier this year for his role as a sex addict in Steve McQueen film Shame. Peter Straughan won a BAFTA for his screenplay to 2011's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy film, co-written with his late wife Bridget O'Connor.

Joe South, who wrote hits including 'Games People Play' and '(I Never Promised You) A Rose Garden', has died following a heart attack, aged seventy two. South penned dozens of songs in the 1960s and 70s for artists as diverse as Elvis Presley and Deep Purple. He was also a renowned guitarist, who played on Aretha Franklin's single 'Chain of Fools' and Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde LP. The musician died on Wednesday at his home in Buford, Georgia. Born Joseph Souter in Atlanta on 28 February 1940, he began playing guitar when he was about eleven. By his late teens, he was appearing on local radio stations as a country singer, and he joined Nashville producer Pete Drake's band in 1957. The following year, he recorded a novelty single, 'The Purple People Eater Meets The Witch Doctor', and became a session musician in Nashville and at Muscle Shoals - where he rubbed shoulders with Dylan, Franklin and Wilson Pickett. During the 1960s, he began songwriting in earnest, and asked his room-mate Billy Joe Royal to sing on some demos. Those recordings, produced by South, included 'Down In The Boondocks', 'I Knew You When' and 'Hush', which was to become a hit single for Deep Purple. His idiosyncratic style melded country and pop, drawing on singer-songwriters like Dylan and, increasingly, the psychedelic flourishes of The Beatles. He won two Grammy Awards - for song of the year and best contemporary song of 1969 - for his single 'Games People Play'. The same song was his sole UK hit, reaching number six in March 1969. 'The Grammy Awards are a very nice gesture by the record industry, but they can really mess up your head,' South told the Los Angeles Times in 1970. 'The Grammy is a little like a crown. After you win it, you feel like you have to defend it. In a sense, I froze. I found it hard to go back in to the recording studio because I was afraid the next song wouldn't be perfect.' He scored further hits in the US, including 'Walk A Mile In My Shoes' and 'Don't It Make You Want To Go Home' - but his biggest success came via country singer Lynn Anderson, who recorded a new version of his '(I Never Promised You) A Rose Garden' in 1971. With a more uptempo arrangement than the original, it became an international hit, reaching number one in the US, number three in the UK, and earning the writer a further Grammy nomination. However, the singer's success was overshadowed by the suicide of his brother, Tommy Souter. South took several years off, moving to Maui and living in the jungle, and friends said he never truly recovered. Drug abuse marred his career, and his first marriage ended in divorce. He made a brief return in 1975 with the Midnight Rainbows LP but effectively retired from recording and performing soon afterwards. The singer eventually went through drug rehabilitation and married his second wife, Jan, in 1987. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1979 and The Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2003, according to the Lowery Music group, which worked with him throughout his career. Butch Lowery, president of the company, called South, 'one of the most prolific songwriters of our time.' South's death was sudden and unexpected, his friend Judy Thompson told local newspaper the Atlana Journal-Constitution. 'He'd just really started to enjoy life,' she said. 'But he was still working. He'd just had a song released in Australia.' The singer is survived by his son and granddaughter. A funeral will be held in Atlanta on Saturday.

The man with the world's largest penis has revealed that he would not change himself if he had the chance. Jonah Falcon from New York appeared on This Morning on Thursday to discuss his massive member and how his big log has, if you will, shaped his life. His huge throbbing pork is around eight to nine inches long when flaccid, double the size of the average man at four inches. And, just a smidgen longer than yer actual Keith Telly Topping's groinal appendage, in fact? The forty one-year-old added that his piece measures at around thirteen inches when erect. That's not just a dong, it's more than a foot. Falcon first realised that his size was unusual at the age of ten when he measured his cream shooter at eight inches. My cousin Billy, as it happens, also had an eight inch willy. But when he showed it to the wife next door and all manner of snake-related discombobulations and malarkey followed. And now it's only three foot four. Allegedly. Falcon recently made the news when he was stopped by airport security as they thought he was carrying 'a foreign object' in his pants. When asked by host Holly Willoughby if he would take the chance to have a 'regular, normal-sized penis,' Falcon said that he would not. He explained: 'When I look down at myself, I don't see anything special, but I still enjoy having something special. Every person does.' Falcon also admitted that he has turned down repeated offers of work in the pornography industry, stating: 'I wear tight jeans but I won't actually do anything in front of other people.' Asked whether his knob ever causes 'complications' in the bedroom, he responded: 'It seldom ever does because of one thing - I am extremely into foreplay. I am very orally fixated, so I love making out and I love orally pleasuring.' It was also revealed during the interview that Falcon had 'requests' from celebrities, but he refused to reveal their identities. Falcon has been single since 1996 and admits that many women date him due to 'curiosity,' but that the relationships don't usually progress much further than the bedroom.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader. Here's a bit of Edwyn.

1 comment:

Martin said...

George Entwistle: So you want to do away with the BBC in Scotland because it doesn't represent the Scottish people fairly?
Alex Salmond: Yes that's right!
George Entwistle: Oh. I believe there are about 50 million people in England and about 5 million in Scotland?
Alex Salmond: That would appear so.
George Entwistle: So across the two countries 1 in 11 people in Scottish?
Alex Salmond: err.. yes.
George Entwistle: So why is it that one of the most important parts on the most important channel, namely the lead in Doctor Who, has been played by two Scottish actors out of eleven. Now if you were to suggest a Scouse bias you may have a case.
Alex Salmond: Crivvens! Rumbled!