Monday, October 15, 2012

Aal The Disco Music Was Ringin' In Me Ear, When I Woke Up In The Morning I Was Bad With The Beer

Strictly Come Dancing claimed its most convincing overnight victory over The X Factor in six years on Saturday. BBC1's flagship entertainment show managed an initial peak audience of 11.3m, and averaged 9.91m between 6.30pm and 8.30pm. Despite being broadcast later, in a more lucrative slot, The X Factor could only score an average of 8.68m from 8.20pm, peaking with 9.9m midway through its second live show. Many media commentators appeared to believe that the fallout from Carolynne Poole's allegedly 'controversial' exit from The X Factor last Sunday would either send The X Factor's ratings soaring or into decline, but in actual fact the show pulled in exactly the same overnight audience as last week's episode. While The X Factor added a further three hundred and thirty thousand punters on ITV+1, initial overnight figures show that Strictly beat its rival by its largest margin since 2006. Elsewhere, Merlin continued with 5.59m at the later-than-usual time of 8.30pm, after which 3.87m watched the latest Casualty, and the postponed final episode of Jimmy McGovern misery-fest drama Good Cop drew 1.94m at 10.30pm. Meanwhile, The Jonathan Ross Show interested 2.96m on ITV. BBC2's penultimate airing of The Thick of It attracted eight hundred and ninety three thousand at 9.30pm.

Gary Barlow has admitted that he 'hates' elements of The X Factor. Personally this blogger only hates two parts of The X Factor. Those parts with Gary Barlow in them and those parts without Gary Barlow in them.
And, speaking of odious Tories, billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch has labelled victims of phone-hacking 'scumbag celebrities' after they met David Cameron during the Conservative party conference. On Saturday night Murdoch took to Twitter to criticise the talks in Birmingham between the prime minister and members of the Hacked Off campaign, singer Charlotte Church, former Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames and actor Hugh Grant all of whom have, successfully, sued Murdoch's News International over having their privacy trampled upon. Murdoch tweeted: 'Told UK's Cameron receiving scumbag celebrities pushing for even more privacy laws. Trust the toffs! Transparency under attack. Bad.' The comments sparked a storm of disapproval, with Murdoch repeatedly asked to apologise for the remarks and remove the tweets. Hames hit back at the head of News Corp, tweeting: 'Never let the facts get in the way of a good story eh, Rupert. Happy to discuss our concerns with you sometime?' She added: 'I've been called worse, but admittedly not by CEO of large multinational corp.' Murdoch replied to Hames, but it was not clear if he was aware who she was as. He tweeted: 'Not referring to these ladies.' Well, how very gallant of you, you disgraceful old shitbag of an individual. Thais Portilho-Shrimpton, a journalist and former co-ordinator of the Hacked Off campaign, tweeted that she had set up a meeting 'between PM, a former Crimewatch presenter, a singer and an actor,' adding: 'You must be referring to all.' The former Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris was one of the first to respond to the comments, tweeting: 'By "scumbag celebs" do u [sic] mean the WPC u [sic] put under surveillance, the teen girl yr [sic] papers perved over, or the actor u [sic] hacked?' He accused Murdoch of being disingenuous and hypocritical. 'I was at meeting and unlike yr [sic] secret meetngs [sic] w/PMs [sic] promoting yr [sic] business, the victims went in front door and told media abt [sic] it,' he wrote, calling for Murdoch to remove his tweet, labelling him 'a bully.' Murdoch also engaged with one Twitter user who asked: '"Scumbags"? And your journalists and executives are what?' Murdoch replied, somewhat incomprehensibly: 'They don't get arrested for indecency on major LA highways! Or abandon love child's [sic].' No, they only get arrested for, allegedly, hacking phones, perverting the course of justice and bribing police and other public officials. Charges all of them deny, of course, and which have yet to come to court, it's important to stress that. This exchange encouraged Labour MP and phone-hacking campaigner Tom Watson (power to the people!) to enter the argument. '[B]ut they do blackmail sex workers and forget to make their excuses and leave. And you should talk to Mr M Mahmood,' he replied to Murdoch. The incident was not entirely without humour, however, with one person noting: 'The real scandal here is that the head of a news empire can't pluralise the world "child."'

Ministers should be more careful about whom they appoint as special advisers or they may end up in situations worthy of The Thick of It, MPs have said. The BBC satire about the inept plotting of politicians and advisers contains 'more than a grain of truth,' says the public administration committee. It says special advisers should be better trained and selected so they are not seen as 'shady' or 'bag carriers.' It adds so-called 'Spads' should be 'men and women of standing and experience.' Special advisers - like the Chris Addison character Ollie Reader in The Thick of It - are temporary government employees who are not bound by the same rules of impartiality as civil servants. They help ministers spread the government's political message by writing speeches, crafting policies and dealing with the media. Labour leader Ed Milimolimandi and Prime Minister David Cameron are both former special advisers. The public administration committee report says they play a valuable role in co-ordinating government policy across departments and carrying out jobs that civil servants are prevented from doing. But it says they need better training 'so they are not left exposed because of questionable activities they undertake in good faith.' The committee's chairman, Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, said: 'We have chosen this title Special advisers in the thick of it because we want to communicate something of the urgency of the issues we address. The satire is extreme and over-rated, but its power lies in the fact that there is more than a grain of truth in the drama. We have seen special advisers sacked for being the focus of potential scandal; for a past which caught up with them; for being wholly underqualified and taking the rap for failing to understand the limits of their role, which should have been explained to them.' He said all of this was 'avoidable" if government departments took 'more care about the character and record of whom they appoint as special advisers. Special advisers should not be seen as shady characters practicing the political dark arts, or be political bag-carriers for their ministers,' said the MP. 'Governments should recruit people with the right values and the training and support should reinforce their confidence in a positive role.' The report calls for special advisers to become 'more involved' in the work of their departments and to emerge from the shadows, with their names and roles published on departmental websites. Special advisers have been under the spotlight in recent months, with the resignation of the vile and odious rascal Hunt's aide Adam Smith over what he admitted was an 'inappropriately close' relationship with News Corporation during its planned takeover of satellite broadcaster BSkyB. The ministerial code says ministers are responsible for the conduct of their special advisers - prompting Labour calls for the then lack of culture secretary's resignation. In its report, the committee says ministers 'must recognise that they have responsibility, not just accountability, for the conduct of their special advisers, and actively ensure that they are fully aware of what their advisers are doing in their name.' The report says it 'cannot recall any minister ever resigning over the conduct of a special adviser, despite some astonishing cases.' And it calls for 'beefed-up powers' for the prime minister's adviser on minister's interests 'so that the prime minister is not able to protect his ministers from appropriate investigation of the conduct of their advisers.' Climate change minister Greg Barker has also been under fire recently over what Labour claims are 'inappropriate links' with a special adviser. David Cameron has ruled out an inquiry as the person in question was hired by civil servants.

Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner has become the first skydiver to go faster than the speed of sound, reaching a maximum velocity of over eight hundred and thirty miles per hour. In jumping out of a balloon one hundred and twenty eight thousand feet (just over twenty four miles) above New Mexico, the forty three-year-old also smashed the record for the highest ever free-fall. He said that he almost aborted the dive because his helmet visor fogged up. It took just under ten minutes for him to descend. Only the last few thousand feet were negotiated by parachute. Once down, he fell to his knees and raised his fists in triumph. Helicopter recovery teams were on hand moments later. 'Let me tell you - when I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble. You don't think about breaking records any more, you don't think about gaining scientific data - the only thing that you want is to come back alive,' he said afterwards at a media conference. None of the new marks set by Baumgartner can be classed as 'official' until endorsed by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. Its representative was the first to greet the skydiver on the ground. GPS data recorded on to a microcard in the Austrian's chest pack will form the basis for the height and speed claims that are made. There was concern early in the dive that Baumgartner was in trouble. He was supposed to get himself into a delta position - head down, arms swept back - as soon as possible after leaving his capsule. But the video showed him tumbling arse over tip. Eventually, however, he was able to use his great experience, from more than two thousand five hundred career dives, to correct his fall and get into a stable configuration. Even before this drama, it was thought the mission might have to be called off. As he went through last-minute checks inside the capsule, it was found that a heater for his visor was not working. This meant the visor fogged up as he exhaled. 'This is very serious, Joe,' he told retired US Air Force Colonel Joe Kittinger, whose records he was attempting to break, and who was acting as his radio link in mission control at Roswell airport. The team took a calculated risk to proceed after understanding why the problem existed. Baumgartner's efforts have finally toppled records which have stood for more than fifty years. Kittinger set his marks for the highest, farthest, and longest freefall when he leaped from a helium envelope in 1960. His altitude was one hundred and two thousand eight hundred. His record for the longest free-fall remains intact - he fell for more than four and a half minutes before deploying his chute; Baumgartner was in free-fall for four minutes and twenty seconds. Kittinger, now an octogenarian, has been an integral part of Baumgartner's team, and has provided the Austrian with advice and encouragement whenever the younger man has doubted his ability to complete such a daring venture. 'Felix did a great job and it was a great honour to work with this brave guy,' the elder man said. The forty three-year-old adventurer - best known for leaping off skyscrapers - first discussed seriously the possibility of beating Kittinger's records in 2005. Since then, he has had to battle technical and budgetary challenges to make it happen. What he was proposing was extremely dangerous, even for a man used to those skyscraper stunts. At Sunday's jump altitude, the air pressure is less than two per cent of what it is at sea level, and it is impossible to breathe without an oxygen supply. Others who have tried to break the records have lost their lives in the process. Baumgartner's team built him a special pressurised capsule to protect him on the way up, and for his descent he wore a next generation, full pressure suit made by the same company which prepares the flight suits of astronauts. Although the jump had the appearance of another Baumgartner stunt, his team stressed its 'high scientific relevance.' The researchers on the Red Bull Stratos project say it has already provided 'invaluable data' for the development of high-performance, high-altitude parachute systems, and that the lessons learned will 'inform the development of new ideas' for emergency evacuation from vehicles, such as spacecraft, passing through the stratosphere. NASA and its spacecraft manufacturers have asked to be 'kept informed.' 'Part of this programme was to show high-altitude egress, passing through Mach and a successful re-entry back [to subsonic speed], because our belief scientifically is that's going to benefit future private space programmes or high-altitude pilots and Felix proved that today,' said Art Thompson, the team principal. A BBC/National Geographic documentary is being made about the project and will be broadcast later in the year.

The latest James Bond film Skyfall has been praised by critics, with some hailing it 'the best Bond ever.' Though, to be honest, somebody, somewhere always seems to say that every time a new Bond film come out. Except, maybe, Octopussy. Starring Daniel Craig in his third outing as 007, the twenty third film in the franchise has been directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes. The Independent's Geoffrey McNab said: 'If not a full blown triumph, this is certainly one of the best Bonds in recent memory.' The Times's Kate Muir called it 'a great British bulldog of a movie. From the moment the orchestral sound of Adele belts out, sending a nostalgic shiver down the audience's collective spine, we know this will be a triumphant return to classic Bond,' she wrote. McNab added in his review: 'Mendes has gone back to basics: chases, stunts, fights. At the same time, he has subtly re-invented the franchise, throwing in far greater depth of characterization [sic] than we're accustomed to in a series of films that are often proudly superficial.' The Daily Scum Mail's Baz Bamigboye gave the film five out of five, calling the film 'a fantastic combination of 007 meets Bourne meets [spooks] meets Home Alone.' Robbie Collin praised director Mendes in the Torygraph: '[He] is unafraid to let the quieter dramatic moments breathe ... and ace cinematographer Roger Deakins makes the wildly ambitious action sequences the most beautiful in Bond's fifty-year career.' Skyfall sees Dame Judi Dench reprise her role as MI6 director M, while Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris join the franchise as Bond's co-workers. Critics also praised Javier Bardem's performance as villain Silva, with McNab saying 'he combines pathos, grotesquerie and a Hannibal Lecter-like viciousness.' Caroline Jowett added in the Scum Express: 'He is not a villain in pursuit of world domination like Ernst Blofeld, and he is slightly upstaged by his own hair but he never fails to surprise. That he can make us laugh at the same time only makes him more menacing.' As one of the few US critics at the preview on Friday, The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy called the film a 'serious and spectacular show. Dramatically gripping while still brandishing a droll undercurrent of humour, this beautifully made film will certainly be embraced as one of the best Bonds by loyal fans worldwide and leaves you wanting the next one to turn up sooner than four years from now.' However the Gruniad Morning Star's Xan Brooks, predictably, was not as impressed as other critics. Hardly surprisingly given the Gruniad is staffed by hippy Communist lice who enjoying sucking all of the fun out of life. Giving it three stars out of a five, Xan (great name, baby) praised the 'whiz-bang first half' but said the film 'falls prey to a common failing of many fiftieth birthday bashes: it allows sentimentality to cloud its judgment and loosen its tongue.' The film opens in the UK on 26 October.

A campaign to defend America's Public Broadcasting Service – using Big Bird, the fuzzy yellow character on Sesame Street, as a figurehead – is to feature a puppet-based protest next month dubbed The Million Muppet March. The demonstration is scheduled for 3 November at the National Mall in Washington, three days before the presidential election, after the idea was dreamed up on social media. Sounds about right. Mitt Romney pledged during the 3 October presidential debate to end the federal government's subsidy for the PBS despite his professed love for Big Bird, one of the characters on the channel's forty three-year-old children's educational programme. Michael Bellavia, president of the animation studio Animax Entertainment from Los Angeles, and Chris Mecham, a writer who is studying political science at Boise State University, separately came up with The Million Muppet March idea in response. Bellavia bought the Internet address www.millionmuppetmarch.com during the debate and discovered Mecham had already started a Facebook page by the same name, so they joined forces. 'I figured, why just make it a virtual show of support? Why not take this opportunity because it seemed like there was already a growing interest in it and actually make it an active, participatory event,' Bellavia said. Both men are fans of Sesame Street, perhaps the best-known show on PBS, which received four hundred and forty five million dollars from the federal budget in 2012. Mecham, from rural Idaho, said he was aware how important public broadcasting was in sparsely populated areas which received no other signals over the air. 'Romney was using Muppets as a rhetorical device to talk about getting rid of public broadcasting, which is really so much bigger than Sesame Street,' he said. 'While he was still talking, I was thinking of ways I could express my frustration at that argument.' They may fall short of attracting a million people or, indeed, any actual Muppets, to the event, but they do hope to create what Bellavia called 'a lovefest' featuring skits and musical performances with Muppets. 'It does seem like we might get close to the biggest ever assemblage of puppets in one place,' he said, 'and probably the most ever puppets marching on Washington.' They took their inspiration from The Million Man March, a gathering led by rights advocate Louis Farrakhan in Washington in 1995 to promote civil rights.

The crucial Africa Cup of Nations football match between Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire was abandoned on Saturday after fans rioted at a stadium in Dakar. Home fans started fires in the stands and threw objects on the pitch as Senegal were losing 2-0, a result which would have eliminated the team from the final stages of the competition. Ivorian fans jumped on the pitch to escape the violence. The fans and the Ivorian players were then escorted by police, who fired tear gas into the packed stands. Reports say about ten people - including Senegalese Sports Minister Hadji Malick Gakou - were injured in the violence on the Stade Leopold Sedar Senghor stadium. The violence erupted after Ivorian striker Didier Drogba had scored his second goal from the penalty spot, with about fifteen minutes left to play. The result would have extended Côte d'Ivoire's overall aggregate lead to 6-2 in the two-leg tie. 'Food, drinks and anything that could be thrown was being thrown on to the pitch, from all angles,' Chris Fuglestad, a US student studying in Dakar, told the BBC. 'There were fires started from garbage and [fans] were tearing the flags down, even their own, which was pretty disturbing. We felt safer inside the stadium than outside, so we waited inside. When we left it was calming down though there was lots of tear gas,' Fuglestad added. Dozens of Ivorian fans were forced to run onto the pitch to escape the violence. The fans and the players were then led out of the stadium by police holding riot shields, as home fans continued to hurl objects at them. 'After forty minutes suspension, the decision was taken to abandon the match,' a local official was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. Reports suggest that clashes continued on the streets outside the stadium. The Confederation of African Football as so far made no public comments on the issue. But a Senegalese official was quoted as saying that the team would now be 'sanctioned' by the CAF. Drogba's goal sparked angry scenes among home supporters, with small fires being set alight and objects were thrown on the pitch. Riot police fired tear gas in the stands, as players and staff from both teams grouped together in the centre circle, including Papiss Cissé, Demba Ba and Cheick Tioté of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Wonga United. All three are reported to be safe and well and on their way back to Tyneside where you never get a geet rive-on like that doon the Bigg Market on a Saturday night.

All of which might be explained by the fact that the Geordie accent reportedly helps plants thrive, according to a gardening expert. Chris Bonnett had staff at his nursery in Essex speak to plants in different accents each day 'as an experiment.' At least, that was his excuse. Different groups of plants were placed in separate areas, with DVDs and CDs of regional soaps and pop stars played to each. Staff ensured the accents were never mixed up. The 'Geordie' plants, which listened to the TV show Geordie Shore, Cheryl Cole and Ant and Dec, grew almost ten per cent more than those in other groups. Though, whether they were merely trying desperately to escape remains a question worth asking. 'We kept all other variables as constant as possible. So the plants all had the same amount of sunlight, water and nutrients,' Bonnett told the Mirra. 'By the end of the summer it was clear that the accents had a huge effect. There was, more or less, average growth across the Australian, Liverpudlian, Yorkshire and American groups. The Geordie and Welsh groups visibly thrived and displayed enhanced growth while the Scottish, Chelsea and Mancunian plants were stunted.'

So, anyway, today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day is for plants everywhere. Sing, Eric.
And, if your growth is still stunted after aal that, plants, try this on for size.

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