Wednesday, September 26, 2012

You Got All Your Friends, I Got A TV Set

Matt Smith has, yet again, confirmed that he has no immediate plans to leave Doctor Who. And, in today's other news, my lightbulb still works. Last month, a tabloid report claimed - with absolutely no supporting evidence other than one-line from an interview taken massively out of context - that the twenty nine-year-old was 'quitting' the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama drama, but Smith later denied the claims, insisting that he is 'not leaving any time soon. There are absolutely things I'd like to do,' he told the Radio Times. 'I'd love to go to the States and do a film, but for the moment, I've more than enough to keep me busy, and it's work I love.' Smith, who has played The Doctor since 2010, described his role as 'an amazing, extraordinary job. I don't think there's any point in concerning yourself with what you might be doing if you weren't doing this,' he argued. 'It would be madness - total madness - to be wishing it away when it's such a gift.'

Arthur Darvill has described his Doctor Who exit as 'emotional and exciting.' The actor - who plays Rory Williams - will depart the BBC drama in this Saturday's episode, alongside co-star Karen Gillan. 'When we were discussing how we were leaving, Steven just said, "You're going to go out with a bang," and it's brilliant,' Darvill told TV Choice about his final episode The Angels Take Manhattan. 'There were lots of people crying at the read-through,' he revealed. 'It was great, because it does mean so much to all of us, and I think that's right. I don't think we were being over-emotional about it, it's a really emotional script.' Darvill added that he will 'always be proud' of his association with Doctor Who, calling the long-running series 'an amazing thing. I can't really speak for anyone else but I'm so proud of what we've done on this show, and it's been the best job I've ever had,' he said. The thirty-year-old also voiced his support for new companion, Jenna-Louise Coleman, who will join the show this Christmas. 'I know nothing about anything that she's involved with, but I don't think she's going to be a [direct] replacement for us,' he suggested. 'She's a brand new companion, she's a brilliant actress and she's going to be great.'
The high court judge presiding over one hundred and fifty five civil damages claims for alleged phone-hacking being brought against the Scum of the World's publisher has disclosed that one of his relatives is among the fresh cases. Mr Justice Vos opened a case management hearing at the high court on Tuesday by revealing that Major David Brooks, one of the claimants, is his niece's husband. Brooks lodged a claim earlier this month in time for the 14 September deadline set by Vos for the second tranche of claims against News Group Newspapers, the News International subsidiary which published the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World. 'Major David Brooks, he is the husband of my niece, my brother's daughter,' Vos told the high court. 'I can't see there is a present problem but there might be if Major Brooks is chosen as a lead case.' Vos made his remarks before the opening of the tenth case management conference on civil litigation in relation to alleged phone-hacking. The court was told by lawyers acting for alleged victims there were now one hundred and fifty five new claims being brought by one hundred and seventy five claimants, including public figures such as Cherie Blair and Sarah Ferguson, and celebrities like yer actual Christopher Eccleston and Hugh Grant. Also suing are members of the public who found themselves in the centre of crime cases including Joanne Lees, the girlfriend of outback murder victim Peter Falconio. Tuesday's hearing is focusing on claims for exemplary damages sought by victims. Dinah Rose, QC for News International, asked the court to strike out the claims for exemplary damages on several grounds. Opening her argument, she questioned whether they should be paid out for alleged misuse of private information. Vos said he was concerned that any application for exemplary damages which implied knowledge by any senior staff at News Group Newspapers would interfere with criminal proceedings in relation to alleged phone-hacking at the Scum of the World.

Speaking of which, former News International boss and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and David Cameron's former communications director - and 'chum' - Andy Coulson are due to appear in court on Wednesday on charges related to alleged phone-hacking. They are expected at the Old Bailey along with five former Scum of the World journalists, accused of conspiracy to access voicemails. Prosecutors say the charge could relate to more than six hundred victims. Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire will also appear in court. Mulcaire stands accused of four counts relating to specific people. The former staff members at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World newspaper are its ex-managing editor Stuart Kuttner, former news editor Greg Miskiw, former head of news Ian Edmondson, ex-reporter James Weatherup and former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck. Coulson was the Scum of the World editor from 2003 to 2007. Brooks edited the paper from 2000 to 2003 before moving to edit the Sun and then becoming chief executive officer of the two papers' parent group News International. They are both accused, along with the five other journalists, of conspiracy to unlawfully intercept communications. In a separate case, Brooks, from Churchill in Oxfordshire - along with her husband, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie, and five others - are expected in court accused of perverting the course of justice. The charges relate to an alleged attempt to hide evidence from police investigating phone-hacking claims, and illegal payments to public officials by the Scum of the World and the Sun. Brooks's chauffeur Paul Edwards, former personal assistant Cheryl Carter, head of security at News International Mark Hanna, and security staff Daryl Jorsling and Lee Sandell also face the charges.

TV comedian Russell Howard has criticised the BBC for 'censorship' of comedy during the London 2012 Olympics. So, that's the last series of Russell Howard's Good News you're likely to see, then. The stand-up claimed that the broadcaster should have been 'bolder' and allowed comedians to poke fun at the games. 'I was quite upset really. There was no comedy on during the Olympics at all. None whatsoever,' he told the Digital Spy website. 'There's too much money in it. The powers that be didn't want people making jokes about the Olympics, it's too important apparently.' Speaking about how he would have liked to work around the sporting spectacle, he said: 'We'd have made jokes about the Olympics in the same way as we always do. It would have been a light touch and we'd have only touched on things that were genuinely funny like Boris on the zip wire, the Queen during the Opening Ceremony with the most bored face ever. But nobody ever commented on these things because of a weird censorship. No comedy allowed during the Olympics. That moment where all this incredible stuff was happening in the stadium and they just cut up and the Queen looked so bored shitless. That was a brilliant comedy moment. We'd have been all over things like that and the Mo Farah running away from things viral. There's a preconception that all comedy is mocking and piss-taking. But it can actually still be good in a light way.'

The BBC has apologised for revealing that the Queen raised concerns with the government about why radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri had not been arrested. The apology comes after security correspondent Frank Gardner told BBC Radio 4 details of a private conversation he had with the Queen. The BBC said it and Gardner were sorry for the 'breach of confidence,' which both 'deeply regret.' Quite why the BBC, or Gardner, felt they needed to apologise for factually reporting comments made by the monarch is unclear. Apart from the fact that they're terrified the Daily Scum Mail will get on their case again. On Monday, Abu Hamza lost his latest appeal against extradition to the US. The European Court of Human Rights ruled the extradition could go ahead. The Home Office hopes this can be achieved within three weeks. The Strasbourg court's decision means that the cleric and four other terrorism suspects can face terrorism trials in the US after delays going back to the late 1990s. In the case of Abu Hamza, he was first arrested in 2004. The development was being discussed on Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday morning when Gardner revealed details of his conversation with the Queen on the matter. He said that the Queen had told him, in a private meeting, how she had been 'upset' that Abu Hamza could not be arrested. The radical cleric had risen to prominence for his sermons in and around Finsbury Park mosque, which gained wide media attention for their content. Gardner said the Queen had told him she had spoken to a former home secretary about the case. In a statement, the BBC said: 'This morning on the Today programme our correspondent Frank Gardner revealed details of a private conversation which took place some years ago with the Queen. The conversation should have remained private and the BBC and Frank deeply regret this breach of confidence. It was wholly inappropriate. Frank is extremely sorry for the embarrassment caused and has apologised to the Palace.' A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said it would 'never comment on private conversations involving any member of the Royal Family.' The Home Office also said it would not comment on such conversations. Former Home Secretary David Blunkett claimed that he never discussed the case with the Queen. 'I can categorically state that the Queen never raised the issue of Abu Hamza with me. Not surprisingly, because my views and attitude in relation to this individual were very well known,' he said. Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said it showed 'how deeply concerned' the Queen is for the 'welfare of her subjects.' He told BBC News: 'It's good that she has mentioned this to the home secretary and absolutely appropriate.' But campaign group Republic has accused the BBC of revealing details of the Queen's interest in the case to put her 'on the right side of public opinion.' 'The decision to disclose this one conversation while keeping all else secret smacks of a deliberate PR stunt to put the Queen on the right side of public opinion,' the group said. Abu Hamza and four other men accused of terrorism offences had fought against extradition for years, arguing at the European Court of Human Rights that they faced inhumane conditions in the US. Abu Hamza is wanted over allegations he plotted to set up a terrorist training camp in the US and was involved in kidnapping Western hostages in Yemen. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment. The case of Babar Ahmad - who, with co-accused Syed Talha Ahsan, is alleged to have run a jihadist website in London that provided support to terrorists - relates to a website run from London which, the US says, supported terrorism overseas.

George Entwistle's senior management reorganisation at the BBC looks set to lead to the departure of John Smith, the long-serving BBC Worldwide chief executive, who could leave with a one million smackers-plus pay-off and pension of almost four million quid. According to some hippy Communist louse of no importance or worth at the Gruniad Morning Star. The new director general Entwistle laid out a plan to bring BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, closer to the public service broadcasting side of the corporation as part of his pitch to replace Mark Thompson as director general earlier this year. The plan included replacing Smith with the BBC's director of audio and music, Tim Davie, although alleged 'sources' allegedly suggest that Davie himself is 'not keen' on the role. Final details of the BBC Worldwide changes are, the Gruniad claim, now being 'fleshed out' after Entwistle formally took over as director general last week. 'This continues to be nothing more than speculation,' said a spokesman for the BBC. 'George has expressed his firm commitment to BBC Worldwide and has not announced any changes to its management structure.' Negotiating Smith's departure is a delicate affair, not least because of the expected scale of the payout and pension. Smith received almost nine hundred grand in total remuneration in the year to the end of March, including a one hundred and seven thousand knicker bonus and several hundred thousand from a profit share plan and deferred bonus matching scheme, according to the latest BBC Worldwide annual report. Last year the BBC was criticised - by the usual suspects, admittedly - when deputy director general Mark Byford was made redundant after thirty two years and left with a multimillion financial package. The BBC has been reducing executive remuneration in its operation, against a backdrop of criticism from Conservative politicians and scum newspapers about public sector management pay. However, BBC Worldwide executives have been exempt from pay reductions, with the corporation arguing that their remuneration reflect the commercial success of the business and the fact that such payments are not funded from the licence fee. The fifty four-year-old Smith joined the BBC from British Rail as an accountant in 1989. He succeeded Rupert Gavin in charge of BBC Worldwide in 2004. Smith has a one-year notice period – 'subject to earlier termination for cause' – but, under the terms of the BBC redundancy scheme, he would be entitled to one month's pay for each year of service. On top of this he is entitled to as much as four hundred and eighty grand from BBC Worldwide's deferred bonus scheme for three years – 2013 through 2015 – which are yet to pay out. BBC Worldwide's revenues have more than doubled and profits quadrupled under Smith's leadership. In the year to the end of March a record two hundred and sixteen million smackers was funnelled back to be invested in the PSB arm of the BBC. It is thought that Davie, who lost out to Entwistle over the director general job, could be in line for another role at the BBC. The BBC is known to be keen to keep Davie and he could be a contender for Entwistle's old job as director of BBC Vision. Former BBC Olympics director Roger Mosey is acting BBC Vision director; others tipped for the role include the current BBC1 controller, Danny Cohen. It is thought that Bal Samra – who holds the official title of BBC rights and business affairs/director Vision operations – is in line for a new commercial role that could include some responsibility for BBC Worldwide.

A sixth panellist is to join the line-up of Question Time to 'tweet' their opinions during the BBC's political discussion programme. A new Twitter account has been created, which will be used by the panellist to respond in real-time to the views of the guests on-air. The show has used the social networking site to request suggestions for guests for the programme. Ideas have included broadcaster Stephen Fry and comedian Russell Brand. A tweet from the Extra Guest account this week thanked users for their suggestions, saying that 'certain names have come up a lot more than others.' Question Time, which returns to BBC1 on Thursday, previously featured text messages from viewers using the same publishing system as Ceefax. The BBC's Ceefax service is due to end in October when the last analogue transmitters are decommissioned.

The Coen brothers are developing a TV version of their hit film Fargo for US cable channel FX, according to Deadline Hollywood. Ethan and Joel Coen are executive producers on the project alongside writer Noah Hawley, who previously created The Unusuals and My Generation. The 1996 film noir won two Oscars for best script and best actress. The crime thriller starred Frances McDormand as a policewoman on the trail of two rather incompetent criminals. The plot centred around a bungled blackmail attempt - after William H Macy's character, a slimy car salesman, hatched a plot to kidnap his wife and make his father-in-law pay a ransom. Set in Minnesota, the film was notable for its heavily-pregnant protagonist and superb dialogue. Widely recognised as modern auteurs, The Coen brothers' other films include No Country for Old Men, Miller's Crossing, The Big Lebowski and Brother, Where Art Thou? They won a one million dollar international award last year for 'a creative partnership unique in the history of film-making.' They were given the Dan David Prize - awarded to people who have made 'an outstanding contribution to humanity' - at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

Rolling Stones guitarist Rockin' Ronnie Wood and his ex-wife Jo Wood are auctioning off their shared collection of art and band memorabilia. The couple's divorce was finalised last year after twenty four years of marriage, following their separation in 2008. Tour clothing and a custom-painted Fender Stratocaster depicting a Stones recording session, are among the items going under the hammer on 27 October. Darren Julien of Julien's Auctions said he expected the sale, to be held in Beverley Hills, to do 'very well. They are still very good friends and they just decided it was time to simplify and sell some of their property,' he explained. The Woods separated in 2008 after Ronnie's widely reported relationship with extremely young waitress Ekaterina Ivanova. Part of the proceeds will go to MusiCares, the Grammys charity that offers recovery to people in the music industry. The collection features memorabilia spanning four decades, from the guitarist's work with The Rolling Stones, his earlier association with The Faces and his solo career. Items include worn leather jackets, backstage passes from various Rolling Stones tours, and portraits of Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, and Bob Dylan. Antiques, furniture and art from the Woods' former home in Surrey will also be included in the forthcoming sale. An Erard harp is expected to raise up to five thousand dollars, while a bronze jockey statue by Dame Elisabeth Frink could fetch as much as eighty five thousand bucks. Wood, sixty five, has been focusing on his art career of late and opened an art show in April entitled, Faces, Time and Places in New York. He also fronts programmes on Absolute Radio and the Sky Arts Channel that have him chatting and 'jamming' with fellow musicians.

What, you may wonder dear blog reader, is the biggest issue spouses and partners have over their significant others appearing on Strictly Come Dancing? Embarrassing dancing, awful outfits, or media coverage? However, according to big fat cuddly Fern Britton the biggest issue is fake tan. The Daily Scum Mail reports that Britton, who is set to appear in the next series of the popular BBC show, said that she had her biggest-ever bust up with her husband, TV chef Phil Vickery, over the aroma of the beauty product. 'Being a chef he is very sensitive to smells and can't stand it,' Britton told the Radio Times. 'We didn't speak for four days.' Apparently tanning is essential for Strictly so Phil will likely be sleeping in the spare room until she gets knocked out. Which shouldn't take very long.

An 'asparagus-sized' eel has reportedly been removed from an man's bottom in New Zealand. Better out than in, this blogger would've said. The man is said to have arrived at Auckland City Hospital's A&E last week, reports the New Zealand Herald. The unidentified patient was sent for X-rays, which revealed that an eel was stuck inside him. 'The eel was about the size of a decent sprig of asparagus and the incident is the talk of the place,' an alleged 'source' allegedly stated. 'Doctors and nurses have come across people with strange objects that have got stuck where they shouldn't be before, but an eel has to be a first.' The man was later released from the hospital after the eel was successfully removed from his anus. The Auckland District Health Board confirmed the incident earlier this week. 'We can confirm that an adult male presented at Auckland City Hospital this week with an eel inside him,' a spokesman said, trying hard not to laugh. He added: 'No further comment will be made out of respect for the patient's right to privacy.' And, presumably, that of the eels as well. It is currently unconfirmed how, exactly, the eel became stuck inside the patient. But, we can probably hazard a guess or two. Listen, what goes on in a man's own toilet between himself and a consenting eel is no one else's business.

Meanwhile, a man has been arrested for allegedly performing 'a sexual act' with an abandoned couch in the US. Well, it was, presumably, a very pretty couch. The forty six-year-old resident of Waukesha, Wisconsin was spotted by an off-duty policeman jogging in the Pebble Valley area, reports the Waukesha Patch. Gerard P Streator was charged last week with one count of 'lewd and lascivious behaviour.' Seemingly, the couch got off without so much as a caution. Streator faces up to nine months in jail and a ten thousand dollar fine if convicted. The criminal report states that Streator was 'thrusting his hips as if he was having sex with a person' on the yellow sofa by the side of the road. The officer shouted 'What are you doing?' to Streator, causing him to run off. He was chased by the policeman, but he managed to escape inside an apartment block. Streator's name was found by the officer after he contacted his colleagues. Police returned to the apartment the next day and spoke to the man's wife, but she told them that he had not done anything wrong. The police begged to differ. Police spoke to Streator at his local hotel workplace, but he denied that he was outside during the time of the incident. Streator will appear in court in relation to the incident on 1 October.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader. Which, today, seems rather appropriate.

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