Friday, September 28, 2012

If You Steal, Be Robin Hood

Top Gear presenters yer actual Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond his very self have signed a new three-year deal to continue fronting the hit BBC2 car show. Which is very good news for fans of the show, this blogger not least among 'em. And, also, although they probably won't admit it, also good news for some hippy Communist lice at the Gruniad Morning Star and a few jack-booted bully boy thugs at the Daily Scum Mail since it will give them something to write about for fourteen Mondays a year. As proved by the Gruniad's, witless if wholly predictable, reaction to this news - putting up a poll for their readers to decide if yer man Clarkson 'deserves' his seven figure pay deal. As though that issue has aniything to do with them. To quote one of those Gruniad readers who expressed a preference: 'He's the very model of a Guardian-baiting, commerce-over-art, commercially viable BBC presenter that Guardian folk want to hate. He may be a right-wing, money man with some very questionable public statements, but it is simply a no-brainer that he gets a big pay check since he clearly brings in far far more for the BBC internationally. If us Guardian readers want their BBC4 Scandinavian drama imports, then Jeremy Clarkson is one of the folk who makes it possible.' And, another added: 'Oddly I was thinking only the other day that its been ages since the last Guardian Clarkson "hate-fest." Frankly his [sic] gets so much because he makes so much for the BBC, despite the Guardian's hard-on-hate for him, he makes programs [sic] the people actual [sic] want to see, not just nationally [but also] internationally and its [sic] allowed the BBC to make good sales on the back of this. So carrying on bitching, moaning and hating, the BBC, Clarkson and his management are all happy to see it. And from a personal point of view the more he upsets the chattering classes of North London, with their looking down their noses at "mass entertainment" or rather those that enjoy it approach, indicates their arrogance over what people "should like" and merely shows how detached they are from most people.' And, breathe. A third reader added, wisely: 'Guardian readers need Clarkson. He completes them. It's not unlike the Joker and Batman.' Yes, yes, and indeed, yes. Laugh? I nearly ... The new deal is likely to involve a substantial windfall for yer man Jezza and the programme's producer Andy Wilman because BBC Worldwide has taken full control of the lucrative Bedder Six joint venture which collects the commercial rights to the show and which has paid the duo millions of pounds in dividends. Clarkson has become the highest-paid BBC star on the back of his thirty per cent stake in Bedder Six, earning more than three million quid in the year to March 2012. Wilman owned twenty per cent and the BBC the remainder. However, Clarkson and Wilman have now resigned as directors of Bedder Six, which handled the merchandising spin-offs and international versions of the show. BBC Worldwide will increase its stake in Bedder Six to one hundred per cent but the BBC said it is commercially confidential how much Clarkson and Wilman will be compensated for giving up their valuable shareholdings respectively. And, rightly so. Records filed at Companies House show that Clarkson and Wilman stepped down as directors of Bedder Six two weeks ago. Bedder Six was set up five years ago to allow Clarkson and Wilman to make money from the commercial exploitation of the Top Gear brand, without inflating the salaries they receive from the licence fee for fronting the popular BBC2 show. There has been speculation - in the pages of the Gruniad Morning Star if not, actually, anywhere that actually matters, that representatives of fellow Top Gear presenters The Hamster and Cap'n Slow were concerned that the pair were missing out on a share of the DVD sales and income from live shows that went into Bedder Six. A BBC Worldwide spokesman said: 'BBC Worldwide has agreed new commercial deals with Jeremy, James, Richard and Andy to secure Top Gear's international future for another three years. This agreement secures the commercial future of Top Gear without using a penny of licence fee money and allows us to continue to grow the brand around the world, reinvest in Top Gear and return profits to the BBC.' Top Gear has been identified as one of BBC Worldwide's global brands – along with the likes of Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing – with the potential to generate commercial revenue internationally. Commercial spin-offs include versions of Top Gear Magazine in thirty one countries, a live tour that has visited cities including Perth, Moscow and Stockholm. The original show is broadcast in about two hundred territories and local versions have been made in countries including the US, Australia, Germany and South Korea.

The London 2012 Olympics proved to be digital gold for the BBC, with a record-breaking two hundred million viewing requests for shows on the iPlayer in August. Usage of the BBC iPlayer video-on-demand service in August broke a slew of records – the most monthly show requests, the most requests per week, the most users per week and the most usage over mobile and tablets – as Olympic fever well and truly gripped the nation. Live viewing also hit an all-time high, accounting for a third of the one hundred and fifty one million iPlayer requests to watch TV shows in August – the proportion of live versus catch-up TV viewing is typically less than fifteen per cent of the total. Overall, there was a record one hundred and ninety six requests to view TV and radio programmes on the iPlayer in August. The opening ceremony on the 27 July was the most watched with 2.98m requests, followed by the closing ceremony on the 12 August with 2.11m. There were a record twenty two million viewing requests using the iPlayer's TV and radio services on mobiles in August – and seventeen million on tablets – accounting for almost a fifth of programmes requested across all platforms. Mobile usage was up almost thirty per cent compared to July, tablet usage was up more than a fifth. A record was set for most TV requests in a week, fifty one million, and users of the iPlayer service in a week, 11.5m, on the week commencing 30 July – the first full week of the London 2012 Games. England's Test cricket series against South Africa knocked the Olympics off the top spots on the radio iPlayer, with three editions of Test Match Special dominating the August chart of most requested radio episodes. BBC 5Live Olympics took the fourth and fifth most popular spots. Other popular TV programmes included Parade's End, Accused, Citizen Khan and - horribly - Bad Education.

The era of analogue television has come to an end in England, after the final channels were switched off for good in the North East. The landmark comes as the six hundred and thirty smackers million digital TV switchover project nears its completion, with the Northern Ireland TV region the last to make the transition to digital in late October. An all-digital era was heralded for more than 1.4m households across the North East on Wednesday, as analogue BBC1, ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five were shut off permanently across the region. Analogue BBC2 was switched off at an earlier date. As with all other switched areas, the move means that extra digital channels can become available to all viewers, including the Freeview HD service being broadcast from local transmitters for the first time. Existing Freeview viewers in the North East may have found that some of their channels were missing on Wednesday morning. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's Uncle Alan his very self certainly did and rang up yer actual Keith Telly Topping at some Christ-forsaken hour of Wednesday morning for some helpful advise on how to get Dave back! These networks have now moved to new frequencies, but could be restored by retuning the freeview set-top boxes and integrated televisions. Viewers in some areas may also find that their digital TVs or boxes load more than one regional service. Advice on this issue is available direct from switchover body Digital UK's website. Digital TV roadshows are also running today and tomorrow in Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough. John Askew, Digital UK's regional manager in the North East, said that this is a 'historic' moment for the region, as it says 'goodbye to the old analogue system forever. Viewers have responded extremely well and many are enjoying the benefits of digital TV for the first time,' he added. 'As with any change on this scale, some people may need a bit of extra help so we and the Help Scheme are on hand to give advice and assistance to those who may need it.' Alongside broadening the reach of digital terrestrial television in the UK, the completion of the switchover will also free up valuable spectrum set to be auctioned off so that mobile phone operators can offer superfast 4G mobile Internet to British consumers.

Channel Five has bought the new series of American Idol, the Simon Fuller talent which was previously shown in the UK on ITV2. The twelfth season of American Idol will be broadcast on Channel Five's spin-off channel, 5*, beginning in January next year, the same month it premieres in the US on FOX. American Idol's new series will feature a revamped judging line-up including Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson and Keith Urban after ratings dipped for the eleventh series, won by Phillip Phillips, in May this year. Stars to have emerged from previous runs of the show, fronted by Ryan Seacrest, include Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson. Channel Five's head of acquisitions Katie Keenan said: 'American Idol is immense. We believe it's going to be a defining show for 5* building on an already impressive schedule.' American Idol, the global spin-off of Pop Idol, which was shown on ITV between 2001 and 2003, has been on ITV2 since the show began in 2002 and was one of the channel's earliest ratings bankers. The most recent series launched on ITV2 in January this year with an audience of three hundred and fifty thousand viewers. American Idol regularly tops the US ratings but its audience has fallen from a peak of 36.4 million for the final of its fifth series in 2006. This year's series final was watched by 20.7 million viewers in the US. Channel Five clinched the rights in a two-year deal for the twelfth and thirteenth series of the show with FremantleMedia, which co-produces the show with Fuller's Nineteen Entertainment.

Glasgow Rangers Football Club has continued its long-running feud with the BBC after submitting a formal complaint to the corporation over a 'tasteless' TV segment which, it feels, mocked manager Ally McCoist ('it's just a wee stain'). McCoist is said to be 'angry and disgusted' at the opening title sequence for Wednesday night's Scottish League Cup television coverage on the BBC. The club said that it had also been 'inundated' with calls and e-mails from hot-under-the-collar supporters who were angry over the stylised animated sequence, which paid homage to the Mad Men titles by depicting a Rangers official, thought to be McCoist, falling from an office window at Ibrox and smashing a club crest. A user on the Rangers Media forum has posted a video of the sequence online, if you want to check it out and see what all the fuss is about. The incident follows a discussion on BBC Radio Scotland show Off the Ball last Saturday entitled 'Super Ally or Fat Sally', in which contributors debated whether fans of the Scottish third division club were still behind McCoist or not. Rangers has now contacted the BBC to complain about the animated sequence and Off the Ball discussion. In a statement, the club said: 'While the manager is known for his good sense of humour, he is both angry and disgusted by the BBC's treatment both of him personally and of the club. As such, Rangers have made contact with the BBC this morning asking why they have chosen to act in such a manner and we await their response.' This marks the latest spat in an ongoing dispute between Rangers and the BBC, which resulted in the Scottish club withdrawing its co-operation with the corporation last October over 'repeated difficulties.' Rangers also accused the BBC of a 'pre-determined negative attitude towards' the club, although the BBC has denied this.

Yer actual Clare Balding her very self has been named as the first guest host of Have I Got News For You's new series. Clare will chair proceedings alongside regular panel captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton when the satirical current affairs quiz returns to BBC1 next month. 'We've got news for you: we're back!' read a post on the official Have I Got News For You Twitter feed. 'New series starts 12 October, with guest host Clare Balding. Wonder what she got up to this summer.' Balding was an anchor on the BBC's team for the London 2012 Olympics, and also led Channel Four's coverage of the Paralympics. She was recently named as the lead presenter for Channel Four's racing coverage and will start in her new role on 1 January 2013. However, Balding will continue to work for other broadcasters including the BBC alongside her Channel Four commitments.

Family sitcom Citizen Khan has been given a second series by the BBC. Adil Ray's studio-based series comedy centres on larger-than-life community leader Mr Khan, who lives in Birmingham's Sparkhill area with his long-suffering family. The show has performed solidly in the ratings, launching with 3.7 million and a series average of three million in its post-Watershed slot. Creator and star Ray said: 'I am thrilled. This is testament to the hard work of the cast, my co-writers and the entire crew. I have been touched to hear from families nationwide who have already taken this cuddly, bearded Pakistani Muslim from Birmingham into their hearts and living rooms. Above all, I thank community leaders who continue to spring up everywhere who provide the inspiration.' BBC1 controller Danny Cohen described the series as a 'laugh-out-loud family comedy for all generations. Citizen Khan has delivered this whilst bringing new comic talent and a fresh flavour to the channel. I can't wait for the second series,' said Cohen. Mark Freeland, head of BBC Comedy, added: 'With sitcom, to grab attention all you can ask is laugh-out-loud funny distinctiveness, authenticity and great characters. I think we've certainly grabbed people's attention.'

Justin Lee Collins pushed his girlfriend in front of traffic after a drinking session with his co-star Alan Carr, a court has heard claimed. Anna Larke told jurors at St Albans Crown Court that it was part of the alleged abuse she suffered during her nine-month relationship with Collins. Larke, of Pirton, Hertfordshire, said Collins was drunk at the time of the alleged incident. The comedian denies a charge of harassment, causing fear of violence. Giving evidence from behind a curtain, Larke spoke of her night out with Collins and Carr. 'Justin shoved me in the back and pushed me into the traffic,' she said. 'He was drunk. I was lucky a man stepped in to save me.' Asked by Sonia Woodley QC, for Collins, if Carr could confirm her story, she replied: 'Alan was drunk as well.' The Bristol-born comic, from High Park Road, Kew, pleads not guilty to harassment by causing Larke fear of violence between 1 January and 1 August last year. It is alleged he assaulted her and threatened her with violence. Under cross examination, Larke denied being 'emotional, obsessive, paranoid and volatile.' She said: 'He used to drive me insane.' Woodley put to Larke that it was her idea to compile the Pukka pad notebook about her past because she wanted to 'unburden herself.' Larke replied: 'The Pukka Pad was a stick he used to beat me in the relationship.' Prosecutor Peter Shaw said the relationship was 'characterised by this defendant exerting control over her, verbally abusing her and physically assaulting her.' The trial continues.
Lawyers acting for more than one hundred and seventy alleged phone-hacking victims, including Cherie Blair and Wayne Rooney, have dropped their claim for exemplary damages, the high court has been told, as News International accused them of seeking 'windfall' payouts. Hugh Tomlinson QC, acting for the individuals suing News International, told Mr Justice Vos at the high court on Thursday that they were dropping this element of their claim because they 'did not want to prejudice the criminal proceedings' faced by former editors and journalists on the Scum of the World. Tomlinson said the decision was taken following events at the Old Bailey on Wednesday, when News International's former chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and David Cameron's former spin doctor - and 'chum' - Andy Coulson were given a provisional date of 9 September 2013 for a trial relating to phone-hacking charges. News International said it 'welcomed' the decision. Dinah Rose QC, the publisher's counsel, went on to accuse the phone-hacking claimants of trying to punish News Group Newspapers, the News International subsidiary that published the now closed Scum of the World. And, the problem with that is, exactly? 'We are prepared to pay full and fair compensation in every appropriate case,' Rose told the high court. But she added that the claims for exemplary damages were 'not reasonable and were not about compensation. It was an attempt to persuade the court to punish NGN by awarding financial windfalls. [Exemplary damages are] unsustainable in law, unjustified and bound to fail.' The change in tack by the phone-hacking claimants came during a case management conference at the high court, overseen by Vos.

South Yorkshire's chief constable says that his force will not apologise to former Sun editor and odious scumbag Kelvin MacKenzie over fallout from the Hillsborough disaster. McKenzie's lawyers had, reportedly, sought an apology for the 'vilification' Mackenzie had received after false accusations were passed off as fact in his newspaper. MacKenzie claimed senior officers were the source for the story. Chief Constable David Crompton said MacKenzie and Mackenzie alone was responsible for the article's headline The Truth. MacKenzie printed the front page story shortly after the 1989 disaster. Many in Liverpool - and beyond - boycotted the Sun after the article claimed fans pick-pocketed the dead and urinated on police. The Hillsborough Independent Inquiry report, which was published two weeks ago, said there was no evidence to support any of the allegations in the paper. MacKenzie, writing in The Spectator magazine, claimed that he suffered had 'personal vilification for decades' as a result of the newspaper's reporting of the disaster. Which is probably true. it was also self-inflicted. The former editor claimed police patrols have been increased around his house and he said he faced a 'physical danger' if he ever went to Liverpool. Probably best not to go then, in that case. MacKenzie wrote, 'But the people who have got away scot-free are South Yorkshire Police,' adding he is seeking recompense for 'the lies their officers told.' In a statement David Crompton said: 'South Yorkshire Police have received a letter from Kelvin MacKenzie's lawyers, which demands the force makes an apology to him. We have publicly apologised to the Hillsborough families and the Liverpool fans but we will not apologise to Mr MacKenzie. He chose to write his own headline and he should accept responsibility for it.' Yeah, like that's likely to happen.

EL James has vacated the top of the UK book charts after twenty two weeks, according to trade magazine The Bookseller. Fifty Shades, her trilogy of spankbuster erotic novels, has been replaced at number one by the latest book from celebrity chefs The Hairy Bikers. Si King and Dave Myers' latest title, The Hairy Dieters, sold over thirty six thousand copies in the week up to 22 September. Fifty Shades Freed, which is the third book in James' series, slipped into second place. It ends her dominance of the top slot, which started in April. The Hairy Dieters accompanies a popular BBC2 television series of the same name on loving food and losing weight at the same time. Its sales of over the last week are the strongest from a paperback non-fiction book since April 2009, when the late Jade Goody's memoir, Fighting to the End sold forty one thousand copies in seven days to an equal number of sad, crushed victims of society. Despite being knocked off number one, James' Fifty Shades books occupy the second, third and fourth places in the official top fifty chart.

Public fury is growing towards French IT firm Atos for their role in helping the government slash benefits. More than half all of people stripped of disability benefits after being ruled 'fit for work' by Atos were left unemployed and without income, according to a Government study. The Department for Work and Pensions, who hired the French IT firm to help them slash the benefits bill, have admitted finding out in a survey that fifty five per cent of people who lost benefits in the crackdown had failed to find work. Only fifteen per cent were in jobs, with thirty per cent on other benefits. The DWP claimed people left high and dry were given 'tailored support' to find jobs. Whatever the hell that means. But the extent of the hardship suffered by the Atos victims in the study will only add to the growing public anger about the firm and their methods. Atos have reportedly assessed patients with terminal illnesses as 'fit for work.' And thousands of victims of genuine, chronic conditions have complained of being humiliated by the company's tests. So far, Citizens Advice Scotland have received a shocking twenty four thousand complaints about Atos, who rake in one hundred and ten million quid a year from the taxpayer for their controversial work. The extent of unemployment among people denied benefits after Atos assessments was revealed by the DWP after a Freedom of Information request. Investigators from the department spoke to eleven hundred claimants deemed fit for work and found that fifty five per cent had no jobs or benefits. Thirty per cent were getting jobseekers' allowance or other benefits and just fifteen per cent were in employment. A later, follow-up survey of five hundred and ninety of the claimants revealed that forty three per cent were still jobless and without income. Twenty-eight per cent were receiving benefits and twenty nine per cent were in work. The snapshot surveys were taken between April and June 2009 and included in a report compiled for the DWP in 2011. The figures were released to a member of the public under Freedom of Information law on September 10 this year.
Police are investigating the death of a Sons of Anarchy actor in Los Angeles on Wednesday after he apparently killed his landlady. Johnny Lewis was found in the driveway of his house, after appearing to have jumped or fallen to his death from the roof. He is the only suspect in the death of Catherine Davis, eighty one, who was apparently beaten to death at the property. Court records show Lewis had been released from prison a week earlier. Records show the actor had pleaded no contest to charges of assault with a deadly weapon and attempted burglary in two unrelated cases earlier this year. Over the summer he was enrolled in a drug, alcohol and psychiatric treatment programme and was released from county jail on 21 September, records indicate. His lawyer said on Thursday that he was 'surprised' and 'baffled' by the deaths. Los Angeles Police Commander Andrew Smith said neighbours reported that they heard a woman screaming inside the house in the Los Feliz neighbourhood before the bodies were discovered on Wednesday morning. They also told officials that a man had jumped over the fence, assaulted a painter and a neighbour and then jumped back over the fence. Police say it is not clear if drugs or alcohol were involved. Lewis had a role in Sons of Anarchy in 2008 and 2009, and played Kip Half-Sack Epps in the FX Show.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United's boss, Alan Pardew his very self, has signed a contract extension that will keep him at the club until 2020. Pardew originally signed a five-and-a-half year deal when he succeeded Chris Hughton in December 2010. However, the fifty one-year-old has been rewarded for guiding Newcastle to fifth place in last season's Premier League and a spot in the Europa League. Pardew was named the manager of the 2011-12 season by both the Premier League and League Managers Association. He became the first Englishman to win both awards in the same season. Newcastle, who had been expected to struggle after narrowly avoiding relegation the season before, won nineteen of their thirty eight league games, keeping fifteen clean sheets.

Cast members of MTV's The Valleys have defended their outrageous behaviour on the reality show, arguing that 'everyone' their age conducts similar activities. Welsh MPs and locals have voiced their disapproval for the show this week, following a launch episode which included a fair bit of boob and bum flashing, lewd activities in nightclubs and candid sex talk. Anna Kelle appears on the series as a mentor for the wannabe models and musicians who have left the Valleys to live together in Cardiff. The thirty one-year-old model insisted that none of the young cast members did anything wrong in the first episode. 'They're kids having fun,' she told Newsbeat. 'At sixteen, seventeen, I got my bum out, flashed my boobs, who hasn't?' Err... This blogger hasn't. And he feels as though he's missed out on life, frankly. 'If they haven't, they're boring.' Yeah. Fair comment. 'Life's about being kids, living life and having fun. They're having fun and they're working hard. So what if there's bum flashing. They're jealous.' Meanwhile, cast member Nicole Morris argued: 'It's not for old people, for nanas and stuff. If you've got a bum like me, let me tell you, it's banging, so get it out. You're not going to get it out when it's wrinkly.'

Herbert Lom, best known for playing Charles Dreyfus in the Pink Panther movies, has died aged ninety five. The Czech-born, London-based actor starred opposite Peter Sellers in several films as Inspector Clouseau's irritable, and increasingly homicidal, boss. Lom appeared in more than one hundred films during his sixty-year acting career, including such classics as The Ladykillers, Spartacus and El Cid. His family said he died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday. Lom also portrayed Napoleon Bonaparte on two occasions. One of them came in the 1956 screen adaptation of Tolstoy's War And Peace, also starring Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda. He first appeared as police chief Dreyfus in 1964's A Shot In The Dark, a character who became increasingly mentally unstable as a result of Clouseau's incompetence as the film series went on. Lom was born Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchacevich ze Schluderpacheru in Prague in 1917, where he grew up and attended the city's university. He began acting on stage and screen in Czechoslovakia, before leaving for England at the start of World War II. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London before making his English language acting début in 1940 film Mein Kampf - My Crimes. He was offered a seven-year contract with Twentieth Century Fox and secured several lead roles in the 1940s, including Napoleon in The Young Mr Pitt. In a rare starring role he played twin trapeze artists in Dual Alibi (1946). By the 1950s Lom was considered a British counterpart to the screen idol Charles Boyer, whom he resembled. He did not get the same number of starring roles as Boyer, though he developed a growing reputation as a reliable character actor. In the decade he played opposite Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers in Ealing comedy The Ladykillers and opposite Robert Mitchum and Rita Hayworth in Fire Down Below. He made a speciality of playing the sinister character in a string of low-budget horror films including a number of Hammer studio productions - playing the Phantom in their production of The Phantom of the Opera - and their chief rivals, Amicus. Lom's exotic features and manic eyes made him ideally suited for horror movies and saw him play doctors, vampire hunters, witchfinders, murderers and all manner of obsessive characters. One controversial film - Mark of the Devil, in which he starred - was acclaimed both as a work of genius and denounced for its inclusion of a litany of medieval torture techniques. Sick bags were reportedly given out to members of the audience during the film's opening run. When asked about his various roles in low-budget movies, Herbert said he felt it was better to be miscast than not be cast at all. It was some of those parts, however, which persuaded director Blake Edwards to give him his most famous role as Inspector Clouseau's long-suffering boss in several of the Pink Panther movies. 'It was a godsend when I was offered the part,' he said of the role. 'But it did become a double-edged sword as people started to associate me with Dreyfus.' Lom was married to Dina Schea in 1948 and divorced in 1971. In the mean time he had a long relationship with the celebrated potter, Brigitte Appleby, with whom he had a daughter, Josephine. He also wrote two novels alongside his acting career: Enter A Spy published in 1971 and Dr Guillotine in 1993. His later acting career saw him work with director David Cronenberg in a 1983 adaptation of Stephen King novel The Dead Zone, opposite Christopher Walken. The actor once grumbled at directors who asked him to give it his best. 'It's my job to give my best,' he said. 'I can't give anything else.'

A police office has been left embarrassed over an investigation into a 'suspicious bright light' at a beauty spot. Which turned out to be the moon. The unfortunate incident was published in the latest edition of Police magazine. The PC only realised his mistake after he had called his colleagues for back-up. The magazine is released by the Police Federation to one hundred and thirty two thousand rank-and-file officers across England and Wales. It revealed the gaffe in its popular Dogberry column. It reads: 'While single-crewed on night duty in Worcestershire, a PC called up his sergeant letting him know that he was going up into the Clent Hills to investigate a "suspicious bright light" that he could see shining from the other side of the hills. The call was for safety reasons as he might need back-up once he found the source. Twenty minutes later the PC called his sergeant back to reassure him that everything was okay and that he had found the source of the light. This diligent PC had in fact discovered the moon." So, you see, dear blog reader, back in 1969, Neil and buzz didn't need to have bothered going, they could've just got George Dixon on the case. Evenin' all.

The NME has this week celebrated sixty years as one of the world's leading music magazines, but the print title is also looking to an uncertain future in the digital age. The New Musical Express was launched in 1952 when the Accordion Times merged with the Musical Express. The weekly title has been the most popular choice among music fans to read about their favourite groups or artists and discover new talent. It is also a household name overseas. However, the UK market for print magazines remains increasingly challenging, as sales fall and people increasingly get their content for free from the Internet. Monthly magazine The Word closed down this year after almost a decade in circulation, and NME itself has also seen a big fall in sales. At its peak in the 1960s, the magazine shifted two hundred and thirty thousand copies per week, but that has dropped to around twenty four thousand. Mike Williams, the NME editor who took over from Krissi Murison this year, said that NME has always 'changed and evolved' over its sixty-year history. 'If the reasons for publishing a magazine are habitual or tokenistic, then you're in trouble,' he told Metro in an interview earlier in the week. 'What magazines need to offer now is something clear, relevant, visually striking and significantly different from what is available for free on the Internet. If all you're offering is an inflexible hard copy of something you can get for free online and attempting to charge someone a couple of quid for it, then it shouldn't come as a surprise if no one wants to buy it.' Released yesterday with the cover price of £2.70, the latest NME is a souvenir issue which has several different covers featuring artists such as The Manic Street Preachers, Paul Weller, John Lydon, The Arctic Monkeys and Noel Gallagher. NME is also celebrating the most famous covers from its sixty-year history in the Behind NME Lines exhibition at the new riverside development NEO Bankside, located adjacent to Tate Modern. In the words of NME, 'these are the covers that have defined not only the artists, but sixty years of rock 'n' roll and NME itself.' In a statement, Williams added: 'Every generation lays claim to the golden age of music and culture and every generation has its batch of legendary NME covers that defines the times. For me it was the beautifully sad Kurt Cobain obituary and the brilliantly cocky Liam versus Damon Britpop showdown. For others it's The Clash and The Sex Pistols, or The White Stripes and The Libertines. The NME cover can immortalise the times unlike any other magazine and Behind NME Lines is a celebration of this. Sixty years of iconic covers that say everything about rock 'n' roll as we know it.'

On Thursday evening, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping was, again, Record Playering at the Tyneside. The week's featured record is also, by a curious coincidence, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. Every other sentiment would, after all, be an antique. As obsolete as warships in the Baltic. You don't get words like 'obsolete' in rock and roll anywhere near enough, do you dear blog reader? Here's Paddy, Martin, Wendy and Neil, yer actual Prefab Four. Skill.

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