Monday, October 08, 2012

A Mark, A Yen, A Buck, A Pound

Doctor Who dominated the listings for the BBC iPlayer for September, with over eight million punters accessing the programme at some point during the month. Top of the list was the series opener, which has been available for almost the entire month, Asylum of the Daleks with over 2.2 million requests. It was by far the most requested programme on the iPlayer for September. The next three episodes took the next three places in the chart with Dinosaurs on a Spaceship having 1.8 million requests, A Town Called Mercy 1.4 million requests and The Power Of Three 1.3 million accessing the episode. The highest rated non-Doctor Who programme was Citizen Khan, which had just over a million accessing the programme. The last Doctor Who episode before the mid-series break, The Angels Take Manhattan, was seventh in the list, with 0.92 million requests, despite only being available for the last twenty eight hours of the month. Asylum of the Daleks currently stands as the fifth most accessed programme of the year.

X Factor 'bosses' have been accused of interfering with the judging process after a producer was seen talking to Louis Walsh during Sunday night's elimination performances. Of course he could, conceivably, simply have been asking yer man Louis if he fancied a curry and a pint after the show had finished. Perhaps we'll never care. Yer actual Carolynne Poole was eventually sent home from the competition after Walsh decided to go to deadlock. Whatever that means. Poole had received fewer public votes than the other contestant in the bottom two, Rylan Clark. Her mentor, Gary Barlow, then stormed off set, apparently 'furious' with the decision. Oooo, in a right state, so he was. All stroppy and discombobulated in his temper with the foot stamping and whatnot. it was quite a sight. Meanwhile, the studio audience booed at the outcome and Clark's name started trending on Twitter. Because, as we all know, Twitter is now the final arbiter of all things. That'll presumably be where the late Jimmy Savile ends up getting tried for his alleged crimes. Louis Walsh seemed to struggle to come to a conclusion when making the final judges' vote between sending Clark out of the competition or leaving it to the public vote. Initially he said: 'It's a really difficult one. I'm going to go with Carolynne, I want to keep Carolynne.' Then, he changed his mind, which is, of course, his right in a free and democratic society (if you count the land of Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads as a democracy rather than a dictatorship) adding, 'I want to take it to deadlock.' After the show, Walsh said that he thought going to deadlock was the fairest option. 'I was torn. I think Rylan's a great entertainer and Carolynne's a great singer. I couldn't make up my mind. So, finally, I decided that the fairest thing to do was to go to the public vote and Rylan had more votes than Carolynne. It was sad but it was the fairest option.' An X Factor spokesperson said that 'producers always chat to judges during the show. Carolynne had the least amount of public votes so the public's choice to stay in the show was Rylan.' And, once again dear blog reader, let us continue to marvel at the utter shite some people chose to care about.

Saturday's The X Factor beat Strictly Come Dancing in the overnight ratings, with 9.2m people tuning in to watch the first round of live shows. In comparison, the BBC show was viewed by an average of 8.7m. BBC1's fantasy drama Merlin also returned to strong ratings despite a late-running Strictly Come Dancing. The popular fantasy drama was back for a fifth season starring Bradley James and Colin Morgan and if the overnights are anything to go by viewers are still keen on the show. The first part of the fifth season opener, Arthur's Bane, had five and a half million viewers. Arthur's Bane drew slightly higher overnight figures than season four's opener last year, The Darkest Hour which had an overnight audience of 5.2 million.

Nicole Scherzinger was reportedly 'angry' and 'agitated' before flying to the UK for The X Factor. Mind you, this is according to the Sun so, frankly, it's almost certainly lies. The tabloid - the sister paper of the disgraced and disgraceful phone-hacking Scum of the World shut down in shame and ignominy for its naughty phone-hacking ways - claims that the judge was 'overheard' in an airport queue 'ranting' about her prospective move and being away from her family. An alleged 'fellow passenger' allegedly told the newspaper: 'She was really angry. She was very agitated and kept raising her voice. It sounded like she was talking to her manager. She shouted: "I'm not unmanageable!" Nicole didn't sound very positive about the show or moving to England.' Not only that, but an - alleged - 'friend' allegedly added: 'Nicole's life is in LA and her family are all either in LA or Hawaii, so she's a long way from home. Her mum has never flown as far as England and she is upset about leaving everything behind. She did have a moment before she left.' Scherzinger has apparently being staying in a Central London hotel rather than with her boyfriend, Lewis Hamilton, as the Formula One driver spends most of his time in Monaco when he's not racing.

Meanwhile, still on the subject of The X Factor, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self is thoroughly indebted to a good friend for the following observation: 'I received this e-mail at work: "Good evening, Leona Lewis is wearing a luxurious Amethyst jewel coloured silk chiffon Ariella Couture gown on tonight's X-Factor. She will be performing her latest single 'Trouble'. With exquisite cut out detail, the gown was created by Ariella using twenty metres of the finest silk flown in especially from Paris. It's a nod to Old School Hollywood Glamour."' Yes. How really fascinating. Presumably this is from a press release in which case it's comforting to know, is it not, that trees died to bring you this information. 'Is hunting [the sender] down with dogs permittable [sic] or overdoing it slightly?' my friend asks. You decide, dear blog reader.

Back to the ratings, now and Strictly Come Dancing's Friday launch show pulled in a solid eight million viewers, overnight data has revealed. The BBC1 ballroom dancing show held a strong thirty four per cent share of the audience between 8.30pm and 10pm for Darcey Bussell's début on the panel. An eight million average matches almost exactly last year's premiere episode. Piers Morgan's Life Stories was Strictly's nearest challenger but could only pull in a truly risible 2.88m for ITV. Elsewhere, Mastermind (2.23m) and Gardeners' World (2.37m) gave BBC2 a comfortable third place finish behind BBC1 and ITV. Overall, BBC1 topped primetime with twenty six per cent of the audience, ahead of ITV's 19.5 per cent.

Here's the final, consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Five programmes for week-ending 30 September 2012:-
1 Downton Abbey - ITV Sun - 11.53m
2 The X Factor - ITV Sun - 10.56m
3 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 9.56m
4 New Tricks - BBC1 Mon - 8.55m
5 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 8.27m
6 Doctor Who - BBC1 Sat - 7.82m
7 Emmerdale - ITV Mon - 7.06m*
8 The Paradise - BBC1 Tues - 6.61m
9 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 5.54m
10 The Great British Bake Off - BBC2/BBC HD Tues - 5.52m
11 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 5.38m
12 Mrs Brown's Boys - BBC1 Fri - 5.12m
13 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Tues - 4.89m
14 Mrs Biggs - ITV Wed - 4.86m
15 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 4.66m
16 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 4.60m
17 Midsomer Murders - ITV Tues - 4.59m*
18 Watchdog - BBC1 Wed - 4.51m
19 Fake Or Fortune? - BBC1 Sun - 4.37m
20 The ONE Show - BBC1 Tues - 4.36m
21 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 4.33m
22 Waterloo Road - BBC1 Wed - 4.31m
23 Who Do You Think You Are? - BBC1 Wed - 4.30m
24 The Chase: Celebrity Special - ITV Sun - 4.27*
25 Match Of The Day - BBC1 Sat - 4.23
Those ITV shows marked '*' do not include HD figures which were unavailable at this time. BARB also reports that Channel Four did not submit revised figures for any of their shows during this week. Aside for the towering Great British Bake Off, BBC2's other most matched shows included: The Choir: Sing While You Work (3.25m), University Challenge (2.96m, exclusive of HD), Nigelissima (2.99m), Wartime Farm (2.77m, exclusive of HD), Servants: The True Story Of Life Below Stairs (2.53m) and Qi (2.37m).

Ofcom has decided not to investigate Tom Holland's allegedly controversial documentary on the origins of Islam, despite Channel Four receiving more than one thousand complaints about the programme. The documentary, Islam: The Untold Story, was presented by Holland and claimed there was little contemporary evidence about the origin of the religion. Holland, who came in for criticism and abuse on Twitter following the broadcast of the documentary in August, questioned when the Qur'an was written and suggested that Mecca may not have been the real birthplace of the prophet. Channel Four, like spineless cowards, cancelled a planned screening of the documentary at its headquarters after 'becoming concerned about security.' Which is, frankly, a pretty shocking thing to claim in a country in which free speech is, supposedly, a given. Speech is free unless you piss off someone, it would seem. Then, it's not. The broadcast regulator Ofcom received two hundred and eighty seven complaints about the documentary, with two hundred and eighty two of those about 'discrimination' and 'offence relating to religious beliefs.' What the other five were about, we can only speculate. Maybe they didn't like the tie Holland was wearing? Ofcom assessed the complaints but ruled on Monday that it would not be investigating the documentary further to see if it is in breach of the UK broadcasting code.

Extra dates have been added to The Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular taking place this December at the Sydney Opera House. The show now runs from Saturday 15 December until Wednesday 19 December and will feature music from the TV series composed by Murray Gold. The show will be presented by special guests Alex Kingston and Mark Williams with music performed by The Metropolitan Orchestra, conducted by Ben Foster. Full details and how to book can be found via the Sydney Opera House website. That's, obviously, one for dear blog readers down under.

Veteran radio DJ yer actual Chris Evans his very self has an answer to the BBC's money problems: he will start paying the corporation. Mind you, this is according to the Gruniad Morning Star so, frankly, I'd sooner believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden than anything those lice had to say. Noted petrolhead Evans said he was 'desperate' to present the BBC's Formula One coverage when Jake Humphries steps down. According to the Daily Lies - who, of course, are such well-known publishers of truthful and accurate reportage - Evans said: 'My final word on the matter? I promise to come cheap. Cut-price, in fact. Oh, what the heck, BBC: I'll pay you.'

Dave has been 'rapped' (that's 'criticised' in tabloid-speak only with less syllables) by Ofcom for featuring a beer brand sponsorship campaign which implied a man was receiving oral sex. The regulator received thirteen complaints - from people who clearly had more time on their hands than they knew what to do with - about a Bombardier sponsorship credit which was run around shows such as Mock the Week, Top Gear, Peep Show and Have I Got News for You on the channel. It featured the 'Bombardier' character played by Rik Mayall - based closely on his Lord Flashheart character from comedy series Blackadder - apparently getting sucked off by a lady who may, or may not, have been his wife. Run from June to September, the credit in question was called The Sweet Kiss of Summer! It featured the Bombardier looking into the camera and saying: 'Ah, the sweet kiss of Summer,' followed by a woman appearing from his lap under the blanket. At this stage, the character said: 'Hello Summer.' The complaints felt that the implication of the advert was that the woman had been smoking the Bombardier's cornet. Lucky old him, I say. Or, perhaps she was looking for a fallen item of jewellery. Perhaps we'll never care. UKTV - the joint venture of BBC Worldwide and Scripps Networks which owns Dave - said that it was 'mindful' of strict advertising guidelines around alcohol brands, which state that credits must 'in no way insinuate that consumption of alcohol increases the chances of success in any field.' Particularly sexual. However, the broadcaster argued that Dave's predominantly male audience would consider the Bombardier credits to be 'amusing, ridiculous, cartoonish moments.' UKTV noted that the Bombardier remains fully clothed throughout the credit and there was 'no movement under the blanket to demonstrate or suggest any sexual activity.' It also noted that the sponsorship campaign was only shown after the 9pm watershed. However, Ofcom - being the tight-arsed waste-of-spaces that they are - said that its guidelines 'clearly state' the credits must not relate consumption of alcohol to sexual activity in any way blah, blah, blah. 'Whilst we accepted that the focus of the credit was the Bombardier character, Ofcom considered that this character, the Bombardier brand and Bombardier beer are clearly linked,' Ofcom said. 'The character and the product share the same name, and as the Licensee itself acknowledged, the character is presented as symbolising and embodying the brand. Ofcom concluded therefore that in this sponsorship credit the Bombardier character was intrinsically linked with an alcoholic drink, irrespective of the fact that the characters in the credit were not shown to be consuming alcohol. Ofcom also considered that the appearance of the woman from under the blanket in the Bombardier's lap, and the script of this credit, clearly implied that the woman had been performing oral sex on the Bombardier.' And, once again, dear blog reader, let us simply wonder at the utter shite some people chose to care about.
And, speaking of Dangerous Daves, David Cameron - you remember him? He runs the country, supposedly - has said that he will 'stick to his promise' to implement the Leveson inquiry's recommendations, providing the regulatory measures put forward 'are sensible.' So, therefore, so long as Leveson doesn't suggest anybody guilty of phone-hacking he made to stand in wellies full of custard for a fortnight, we can probably presume sayings the press needs to buck their ideas up and suggesting ways in which they can be made to will be acceptable. The prime minister was challenged in an open letter by sixty victims of phone hacking to give reassurances that he would consider Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations 'with an open mind' and that he had not already decided upon a system of continued self-regulation by the press. The letter, signed by celebrities including Hugh Grant, Jude Law and Charlotte Church, as well as 7/7 bombing victims and members of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, expressed alarm at press reports which claimed Cameron intended to reject any form of statutory regulation of the press if such a recommendation was to be made by the inquiry into media ethics. Grant said on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that Hacked Off campaigners were 'as opposed to state regulation as journalists.' In a move backed by the National Union of Journalists, campaigners want to see a new independent regulator introduced, backed by a statutory underpinning. 'All that may come out of Leveson is a suggestion for instead of the press regulating themselves is that there is to be an independent regulator,' Grant said. Any new regulator needed a 'tiny dab of statute' in order for it to be listened to, he said. 'It's actually the way that doctors are now regulated, the way solicitors are regulated and they're not complaining. It's a tiny, tiny dab of statute to set this thing up because otherwise the danger is newspaper editors will just say: "Who are you? What is this institution, this new body, this new regulator? We're not doing what you say, we're not paying your fines." So you just need that tiny dab of statute to set the thing up, and I personally do not see the slightest danger to freedom of speech or freedom of expression.' Cameron, who is due to meet Hacked Off campaigners during the Conservative party conference this week, told Marr that he did not want to prejudge the outcome of the Leveson report. He made clear that the status quo was not an option, but said he was opposed to 'heavy-handed state intervention' in the activities of the press. Asked whether he would stick to his reported promise to implement Leveson's recommendations, providing they were not 'bonkers,' Cameron replied: 'Absolutely.' But he then added: 'We must wait for what Lord Justice Leveson says. I don't want to try and prejudge it. We don't want heavy-handed state intervention. We've got to have a free press. They've got to be free to uncover wrongdoing, to follow the evidence, to do the job in our democracy they need to do. But, on the other hand, it's quite clear people have been abused, people's families and lives have been torn up by press intrusion – the status quo is not an option. Let's let him do his work. I fully intend to, and I think that this goes right across the parties: we all want to put in place a sensible regulatory system. We're hoping Lord Leveson is going to crack this problem for us, but we must let him do his work first.'

The BBC has licensed the format of The Great British Bake Off to a commercial Television station in France. M6 will air The Great Bake Off (La Cuisson De Grande Large?) based on the popular BBC amateur baking series, it will be produced by BBC Worldwide’s production base in France and will be broadcast later this year. Jean Louis Blot of BBC Worldwide said: 'Having crossed the English Channel to the spiritual home of the sweet tooth, this warm and authentic format has all the crucial elements to be a showstopper. When it comes to The Great Bake Off, the proof is in the pudding!' So far, the Love Productions show has been licensed to and broadcast in six countries, including Australia and Belgium. In Scandinavia the show is broadcast on TV4 and is the most popular series in the Channel's history. The British series – hosted by yer actual Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc – recently recorded a high of 5.5 million viewers for BBC2 and BBC HD.

Derek Branning is rumoured to be leaving EastEnders over the festive period, with the Daily Lies reporting that his 'dark past' could finally catch up with him. The character of Derek, played by Jamie Foreman, arrived in the soap last November and very quickly made his presence felt around Walford. Foreman – the son of real-life former gangster Freddie Foreman – is said to have wanted Derek to become 'one of the most notorious soap villains, before leaving the show on a high.' Last week he was spotted filming on location with a gang of thugs chasing his character. An alleged 'source' allegedly revealed: 'Everyone working on the show is confident viewers will be on the edge of their seats once again over the festive period. The Branning family are going to be huge this Christmas, apart from Derek's dramatic ­departure there's the matter of one of the Branning brothers being ­revealed as Kat Moon's secret lover. We will also see the return of Derek's sister Carol Jackson, daughter Bianca Butcher and her kids for the ­nuptials.' Does anybody believe for a single, solitary second that anyone in the real world - much less, somebody that actually works in television - talks like that? Thought not. Lauren's relationship with her cousin Joey and the truth behind Max's secret payments to a mystery recipient will also be revealed over the coming months. When asked about the reports regarding Foreman's departure, an EastEnders spokesperson said: 'We don't want to comment and spoil it for the viewers.' So, that'd be a 'yes', then?

The BBC has apologised and pledged to 'look into' allegations the late Sir Jimmy Savile sexually abused girls while working for the corporation. Quite why they felt the need to apologise at this stage, and what, exactly, they're apologising for - other than the fact that the various tabloids, specifically, although unsurprisingly, the Daily Scum Mail seem to have decided it's 'BBC kicking time' again - when these allegations remain exactly that, allegations is, at the present time, unclear. To repeat, this blogger has no idea whatsoever if yer actual Jimmy Savile was, indeed, a dirty rotten old scallywag with filthy ways who enjoyed fiddling with little girls or not. It's perfectly possible that he was and, indeed, several women have now come forward to allege that he abused them. If these allegations are true then Savile was, clearly, a disgraceful old bastard and it is to be hoped that he is currently burning in whatever concept of Hell dear blog readers have, for all eternity. That's if they're true. Unfortunately, these claims have been made public after the man has died and, therefore, is in no position to either confirm or deny the veracity of what has been claimed about him. Thus, under the law of this country as it currently stands - where a trial by jury is required to convict someone of a crime rather than a few postings on Twitter and then Sky News running 'a poll' for their viewers to decide upon guilt or innocence - we appear to have reached something of an impasse. Not that this has stopped the howls of the newspapers - some of whom, you may remember, effectively convicted a wholly innocent man named Chris Jeffries of a murder which he did not commit just a few short months ago, largely on the strength of what he looked like - from smearing what's left of Savile's reputation and dunking it into a tank of shit. Like I say, that may well be entirely deserved. Or, it may not be, we just don't know. And, therein, lies the major problem we face with regard to this whole saga. The Beeb's Director General George Entwistle said the claims would be 'properly' investigated after a police inquiry. Again, how such claims can be 'properly' looked into when the focus of them is not around to answer direct questions regarding his conduct, Entwistle didn't say. A growing number of women have said that they were victims of the presenter. Prime Minister David Cameron, sticking his oar in where it wasn't wanted, or needed, said that the Savile claims were 'truly shocking.' Don't you have anything more important to deal with at the moment, Dave? Like, for instance, the economy? Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Entwistle addressed those who had come forward with claims of abuse, saying: 'The women involved here have gone through something awful, and something I deeply regret they should have had to go through, and I would like to apologise on behalf of the organisation to each and every one of them for what they've had to endure here.' Entwistle said that he wanted 'a comprehensive examination of what went on,' but added that criminal allegations at the heart of the case must first be investigated by police. 'The way to deal with those is to make sure the police - who are the only properly constituted authority for dealing with criminal investigations - are allowed to make the examinations and inquiries they need to make.' Entwistle denied that he was kicking an inquiry into the long grass and insisted he was 'putting all the BBC's resources' at the disposal of the police. Quite how much money the police will be spending on this investigation and what, exactly, they intend to do with any 'evidence' gathered once it is completed is, also, unclear. Although, presumably, digging Savile's rotting corpse up and putting it on trial at the Old Bailey hasn't, entirely, been ruled out. That certainly appears to be what several of the newspapers would like. 'When the police have finished everything they have to do, and when they give me the assurance there is no danger of us in any way compromising or contaminating an investigation, I will take it further and ensure that any outstanding questions are answered properly,' Entwistle said. Particularly, the organisation would look at 'the broad question of what was going on and whether anybody around Jimmy Savile knew what was going on.' Savile died in October 2011, at the age of eighty four. The face of Top Of The Pops in the 1960s, he hosted Saturday night favourite Jim'll Fix It in the 1970s and 80s and, a close personal friend of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he was knighted in 1990 for his charity work. But over the past week allegations have emerged - quite a few of them, as it happens - about really serious and nasty sexual assaults upon under-age girls at the height of his fame. Some of these allegations - widely publicised in an ITV documentary about the former presenter - refer to incidents which allegedly took place on BBC premises. One allegation, currently the subject of a threatened court case for libel, alleges that two other people (both very much still alive) were involved in one such incident. Entwisle - former head of BBC Vision - has been facing questions over whether a Newsnight investigation into some of the claims about Savile late last year had been dropped because it was embarrassing to the BBC and would have clashed with a tribute programme to Savile broadcast in Christmas 2011. Or, as the programme's editor insists, because the claims 'could not be substantiated.' The Director General told the Today programme that he had been told about the report in December last year because of 'possible implications for programming and scheduling decisions.' But he denied, strongly, the Newsnight editor had been vulnerable to any influence on the matter, adding that he supported the editor's judgement. 'He was not brought under any pressure from anybody in the management chain in his own division or elsewhere to make a different judgement than the one he made.' In an e-mail to employees on Friday, Entwistle said he was 'appalled' by the claims. Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Cameron said the allegations needed to be 'properly looked at, properly investigated.' He added: 'It seems to me it is very important that the organisation, the BBC, does that itself. But also, if there are questions that should be pursued by the police and other organisations, everyone has to ask themselves the question, "Is there new evidence that needs to be looked at?" Are there new things as an organisation we should look at and examine?' The corporation also faces questions about whether staff 'turned a blind eye' to a broader culture of harassment of women at work. On Saturday, the former BBC Radio 1 DJ Liz Kershaw claimed that she had been 'regularly fondled' in the 1980s by another colleague, whom - unfortunately - she chose not to name. Which, in the great scheme of things wasn't particularly helpful. And then on Sunday, the comedian Sandi Toksvig claimed that she was groped by 'a famous individual' whilst she was broadcasting in the 1980s. Toksvig did not indicate where she was working at the time - in the period alluded to, most of Sandi's work was for Channel Four - or, again, who the individual concerned actually was but she claimed that when she told other staff about what had happened 'everybody thought it was amusing.' Toksvig subsequently told the Gruniad that she was 'distressed' her comments had been used as 'stick to beat the BBC with.' In a statement she said: 'Whilst the recent manifold revelations regarding the abuse and mistreatment of women in broadcasting have focused on the BBC, I would like to clarify that I consider this a culture endemic across the whole of radio and television and is certainly not limited to the BBC.' Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police said last week it would be 'assessing' allegations against Savile but had not as yet launched an investigation. It has also emerged that The Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust is considering changing its name. They might was well call themselves The Hitler Trust for all the donations they're likely to receive in the present climate. Which is, of course, very sad. This blogger would still like to know exactly how much public money is being spent by the police on this 'investigation' from which, by definition, there can be no legal outcome since the individual concerned is dead.

A Facebook question-and-answer session hosted by the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard descended into personal abuse over the weekend. Gillard's office said the Facebook event, which was the first time a federal politician had engaged in such a session, was 'a popular success' and only 'a tiny minority' of comments were negative. Some participants in the online event made sexist and at times offensive comments about Gillard, with one even asking her: 'How's your dad?' Sydney shock-jock Alan Jones has been forced to host his first show without advertising, after Macquarie Radio Network temporarily suspended all adverts for the show. Advertisers had abandoned Jones's show in droves after it was revealed he told a Sydney University Liberal function two weeks ago Gillard's father had died of 'shame' at his daughter's 'lies.' But while Jones's comments drew widespread disgust and consternation about the deteriorating tone of Australian politics, only several Facebook users condemned the man who made the comment about Gillard's father. Gillard had called the event to talk to constituents about the government's desire to implement the Gonski school funding reforms. She also answered questions on NAPLAN, teacher quality and supporting regional and disadvantaged children. A spokesman for the government said: 'This is the first federal question-and-answer session by a major political figure in Australia – it is the first of its kind. There was a huge response in terms of questions; there's been a lot more that have been tabled for future use. There is a tiny minority of offensive comments and they are moderated after being published.' After answering about a dozen questions over about an hour, Gillard thanked people for their questions and signed off. But once she was no longer answering questions, some users heaped abuse on her. 'McPiss off you red-headed bloody McClown,' wrote one 'Nicholas Frampton.' Another man, 'Clifford Cowl', told the Prime Minister, 'Get my dinner ready,' while 'Adam Subwoofer Hodgson' asked: 'Are your pubes as radiant, shiny and glorious as mine?' It is not the first time abusive material has appeared on the Prime Minister's page, with one man calling last week for the government to 'bring in anal probing for all boat people and people claiming benefits.'

Nine people who put up bail sureties for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange have been ordered by a judge to pay thousands of pounds each or they'll all be going to jail. Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle said they must pay a total of ninety three thousand five hundred smackers by 6 November. They nine offered sureties for Assange before he took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden. He faces arrest if he leaves the embassy after breaking bail conditions.

The fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt his very self says that he intends to defend his Olympic one hundred and two hundred metre sprint crowns at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games. The Jamaican, who retained both titles as well as the being part of the gold medal winning four by one hundred metres relay team in London, quashed speculation that he was planning to switch to either the four hundred metres or long jump. 'To do the three-peat, that is the focus. I don't want to try any different events at Rio,' he said. 'I will just defend my titles to show the world there's a possibility I can do it again.' The twenty six-year-old insisted he has no intention of easing off in his training, now that the Olympics are over. Bolt, who also holds the one hundred and two hundred metres world records, said he aimed to run even faster next year, during which the World Championships will be held in Moscow. He added: 'It's all about hard work. When I was doing great when I was young, people used to say I was fast for my age, but I have put a lot of work into it since I was a senior athlete. I continue to work hard, continue staying focused and pushing myself. So for me that's the focus right now - to see how fast I can go and I definitely try to go faster each year.'

Sex worker turned comedian Miranda Kane says of her old job: 'For a lot of the time, I weighed over three hundred pounds and that was when I was at my most popular. Men paid up to two thousand pounds a night to have my company. I lost loads of weight, and they lost interest.' She's now doing a show about her experience at the Leicester Square Theatre later this month.

So, you thought that being a Newcastle United fan couldn't, possibly, get any more embarrassing after spending the last year seeing our favourite players running around with the word 'Virgin' plastered across their chests, dear blog reader? Well, think again. The Torygraph reports that 'a lucrative sponsorship deal' could see of The Magpies' shirts re-branded with the Wonga logo. The controversial pay-day loan company, well-known for the high interest rates which it charges its unfortunate borrowers - as well as their really annoying TV adverts - is, according to the Torygraph, 'in talks' to bag United's shirt naming rights just days after Virgin Money was axed as the Club's sponsor. The consumer finance firm is reportedly 'poised' to replace Richard Branson's company from the start of next season. However, according to the Evening Chronicle, 'it is believed that naming rights for St James' Park would not be included in any potential agreement.' It is said that the shirt deal 'could be worth' up to eight million smackers-a-year and last for three years. That's a lot of wonga. It's not often that this blogger agrees with arch-nutter - and former Magpie - Joey Barton but, when he said that the Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is someone 'who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing' he might not have been too far off the money. As it were. There was an angry reaction earlier this year after one hundred and thirty one years of history was crowbarred from St James' Park. Huge hoardings bearing the Sports Direct Arena name were erected on the outer walls of the ground as the stadium's initial re-branding was finalised. Newcastle United - and Sports Direct - owner Mike Ashley's decision in 2011 to formally change the name of the stadium sparked outrage among supporters. Now fans are calling for 'clarity' on the sponsorship situation. Yeah, like that's likely to happen. In PR terms, it has to be said, it's about the most inappropriate company possible to be sponsoring the Tyneside club. The only way they could have gotten themselves worse publicity out of this was if they'd been talking to The Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust instead.

Anyway, dear blog reader, on that bombshell, here's yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day.

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