Thursday, October 11, 2012

Big Knobs & Little Knobs

The BBC's coverage of religion, immigration and Europe is to be 'scrutinised' in an independent review led by former ITV chief executive Stuart Prebble. Lord Patten, the BBC Trust chairman, said on Wednesday that the review – first announced in August – was prompted by whinges that the corporation's coverage of world and religious events is not always impartial. 'It's an acceptance that these are areas where people are particularly concerned that we should get it right,' the spineless coward Patten told a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch in London. 'We've been criticised in those areas and we think it's very important to listen to that criticism, not necessarily because it's right but because it reflects real and interesting concerns.' Prebble's review will examine whether the BBC 'gives due weight' to a range of opinions on controversial topics, including immigration, Islamophobia, and the EU, not to mention the petty concerns of the editorial staff at the Daily Scum Mail and the Gruniad Morning Star. It is the fifth allegedly 'impartiality' review by the BBC Trust and follows John Bridcut's 2007 report, From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel. It will compare BBC news coverage from five years ago with today. The report is to be published in early 2013. The inquiry will examine whether editorial decisions to include or omit certain 'perspectives' from news coverage have been carefully reached and with consistent judgment across the corporation. Prebble will investigate whether 'due weight' has been given to 'a range of opinions,' but the BBC Trust stressed that minority views should 'not necessarily be given equal prominence' as 'the prevailing consensus.' The BBC Trust has previously examined the impartiality of the corporation's coverage of business, the UK nations, science and the Arab spring. In 2009, the BBC came under fire - from The Usual Subjects with their sick agenda - for two reports by the Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The corporation's editorial standards committee found that Bowen had breached guidelines on impartiality when he referred to 'Zionism's innate instinct to push out the frontier.' A report published by the BBC Trust earlier this year described the broadcaster's coverage of the Arab spring as 'generally impartial.' Prebble, the former ITV chief executive and Grumpy Old Men producer, will lead the review. He said he would examine how the BBC views its own commitment to impartiality given the pace of change in technology, including the rise of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. The BBC trustee David Liddiment said: 'The BBC's reputation for and commitment to impartiality is part of its DNA. This review will help to ensure it continues to meet audience expectations in this area, looking at how the BBC builds an understanding of breadth of opinion into its approach to its journalism. Part of the review will look at coverage of immigration, religion and the EU – not because we are anticipating a problem there, but because they are subjects on which there are obviously a range of opinions and which will make a valuable contribution to the review.'
News International's high court bid to get a phone-hacking lawsuit brought by a former adviser to the model Elle Macpherson struck out has been adjourned, after the publisher revealed it was having 'technical problems' searching for vital documents needed for the case. Lawyers for Mary-Ellen Field reportedly 'reacted with dismay' to the disclosure at the high court on Wednesday morning and said it 'raised questions' about News International's ability to search for internal documents and e-mails relating to nefarious phone-hacking at the Scum of the World. The high court was due to consider News International's application to have Field's claim thrown out at a hearing on Wednesday, but the publisher of the disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid, shut in ignominy and shame last year, revealed in court that it was 'having last-minute technical problems.' Michael Silverleaf QC, counsel for News International, told the court that there was an 'issue with the data extraction software which we are running.' News International is searching hundreds of millions of e-mails dating back to at least 2000 to try to find evidence to counter Field's claims that her life was 'adversely affected' by the Scum of the World's hacking. It has already acknowledged that some of the relevant e-mails were destroyed and had to be reconstructed in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. After the hearing, Field's lawyer, Mark Lewis, said the emergence of fresh computer problems 'raises a question about the reliability of the reconstruction of missing documents. It has a wider impact. It's not just about Mary-Ellen Field but has an impact on all cases,' said Lewis. Silverleaf told Mr Justice Vos, the high court judge presiding over one hundred and fifty five civil claims against News International including lawsuits from Cherie Blair and Neil Kinnock, that he 'did not know' whether this glitch would affect Field's case. Nor did Silverleaf know if the software problem would affect the 'integrity' of the searches. 'There was a technical problem that we could not resolve or could not explain fully,' he told the court. Field's legal team were notified of the problem after 7pm on Tuesday evening, throwing the court process into disarray. Vos told the court that costs 'had been incurred' in preparation for Wednesday's hearing. These included an application at 6pm on Tuesday to get the original notes of the private investigator, alleged to have hacked Field's phone on behalf of the Scum of the World, brought to the court for 'a minute examination' by both sides. The notes, which have been in the possession of the Metropolitan police since they were seized in 2006, were taken to court by Operation Weeting officers for examination on Wednesday morning. 'There are a lot of costs. What I do not want is the same thing to happen the next time,' warned Vos, adjourning the case until a date some time after 14 November. It is the first time News International has tried to have one of the numerous civil damages lawsuits relating to phone-hacking struck out rather than simply settled. This, according to the Gruniad Morning Star, could indicate 'a change in tack' by the parent company News Corporation, which has seen costs relating to the phone-hacking scandal, including legal bills, rise to over one hundred and forty million smackers so far and with no end in sight. The application comes after repeated claims by Field, unchallenged in public by News International, that her life was 'destroyed' after her phone was hacked by the Scum of the World. Field's civil lawsuit for invasion of privacy was originally lodged in March 2011 but is awaiting a full trial date some time next June.

Zoe Ball has admitted that she was 'terrified' watching her father, Johnny, on Strictly Come Dancing. The It Takes Two host - who took part in the BBC show in 2005 - said that while she was nervous, she was very proud of her famous father. 'I now know how our families felt when I performed on Strictly in 2005,' she told the Sun. 'I was terrified. When I saw him on the balcony on Saturday's show, I needed to pace up and down! I had clammy hands. He did really well. He has so much energy.' Johnny Ball's original dance partner Aliona Vilani fractured her ankle last week, before guest professional Iveta Lukosiute stepped in. 'He had had a tough time. Aliona hurt her foot and he lost loads of training time,' Zoe Ball continued. 'As long as he doesn't sing and perform, he should be okay.' She continued: 'My dad has embarrassed me quite a lot during my life in the same way that I now embarrass my children. It's your job as a parent to embarrass and humiliate your children as much as you can to get them back for the stress they cause you at times! I feel very proud of dad. Anything he does out there will be amazing, and I am certainly not worrying about the fact he is the oldest contestant. He has always been fit. He skis twice a year and when he was younger, he used to be a drummer. He does have great rhythm.'

Yer actual Dazzling Dezza Brown his very self has announced his latest Channel Four show Apocalypse. The illusionist previewed the show on Twitter earlier this week, saying that he is 'excited' about its upcoming broadcast later this year. A series of teaser trailers have also been unveiled by Channel Four. 'The new show, if you haven't seen the brief teaser, is called Derren Brown: Apocalypse. Just sayin'. Rather excited by this one,' he tweeted. The show has yet to receive an official broadcast date, but the announcement comes a year since Brown's last TV special The Experiments, which was shown in October 2011.
The X Factor judges Gary Barlow and Louis Walsh still aren't speaking after Sunday's deadlock drama and stroppy shenanigans, it has been reported. Oh, the manifest tragedy. Anyway ...

Former Virgin Media Television executive Claudia Rosencrantz has joined Jamie Oliver's production company Fresh One as director of programmes. Rosencrantz takes up her first full time position since leaving Virgin Media TV, where she was director of television, in January 2011 after the company was bought by Sky for one hundred and sixty million quid. According to Broadcast, she will take up 'a newly-created role' at Fresh One, which started as the vehicle for Oliver's food programmes but has since expanded to other factual shows fronted by the likes of Jonathan Dimbleby and Idris Elba. Rosencrantz, who spent a decade as ITV's controller of entertainment and helped develop shows such as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Pop Idol, The X Factor and Hell's Kitchen, will now focus on bringing new talent to Fresh One. In her time as head of programming at Living she was also responsible for Jade: A Year Without Her, a thoroughly sickening hagiography to the odious racist Jade Goody. In a statement, Oliver said of Rosencrantz: 'Her track record in making world-class entertainment and drawing in and growing the very best talent speaks for itself.' This blogger isn't, exactly, sure where Jade: A Year Without Her fits into such a description but, as soon as he works it out, dear blog reader, he'll be sure to let you know. Fresh One managing director Roy Ackerman added: 'She's a producer who loves making programmes and we want Fresh One to have an array of top programme-makers to execute our formats and series. So it's an exciting opportunity to move properly into entertainment and a range of shows at the entertainment end of factual entertainment.' Rosencrantz praised celebrity chef and odious full of his own importance windbag Oliver for building a production company and a brand 'that is synonymous with accessibility, quality and integrity.' And self-proomotion, you forgot that, Claudia. She added: 'What brilliant foundations upon which to build the next phase of programming and talent with Roy Ackerman and the fantastic team at Fresh One.' Horrorshow.

Radio 4 panel game The Unbelievable Truth has been made into a TV show – in Australia. Satirical team The Chaser, best known for their outrageous stunts, have adapted the show, which was created in 2006 by Graeme Garden and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue producer Jon Naismtih. In each episode, guests must give a short talk on a given topic which is entirely untrue – except for five truths which they try to smuggle past the other panelists. One difference in the TV version is that there are regular team captains – Julian Morrow and Andrew Hansen – while the only regular in all fifty seven episodes of the Radio 4 version has been host David Mitchell. Down Under, his role is taken by Craig Reucassel. The TV transfer came about after Hansen met Garden while he was on the An Audience with The Goodies tour of Australia a couple of years ago, and casually made the suggestion. Morrow says that Garden's involvement as a co-producer was key, given how popular The Goodies were in Australia at their peak (and, indeed, remain). He told The West Australian: 'It certainly made it easy to get guests on the show. I would ring people up and say "There are two ways to ask this question. One would be to say, would you like to come on our new comedy panel game show on Channel Seven? The other is, would you like to meet Graeme Garden?" And they were like "yes."'

Channel Five is to broadcast a one-off - and, as yet untitled - documentary which will look at 'the weird and wonderful ways' in which people choose to conduct their final goodbye. From aeroplane coffins to ashes being tattooed onto loved ones. And, as well as meeting the people who are planning these bizarre burials for themselves, viewers will also meet the businesses whose job it is to make these bizarre burials happen. There is, for instance, the Nottingham based bespoke coffin specialists, 'Crazy Coffins' who will take on any request, no matter how ruddy insane it is. In the 'Gods of Ink' tattoo studio in Worcestershire, another couple have made a business out of helping people to leave the most indelible mark on life; tattoos of loved ones 'cremains' on their bodies. As well as the people who make the dead's dreams a reality, viewers are also introduced to those planning their own bizarre burials. Take Malcolm Brocklehurst. he has pre-planned his funeral to the letter with a bright orange aeroplane homage to his favourite football club and a self-penned cremation song, 'Fry Me, Burn Me, Toast Me Tonight.' Sounds like a hit. In the programme, viewers follow Malcolm and his 'gobsmacked' friends and family as they rehearse his final event. And there are a whole host of other strange send-offs including ceremonies with Citreon 2CV hearses and the ultimate football fan's funeral in full team attire.

Buzz Aldrin is to make a cameo appearance on The Big Bang Theory. The former NASA-astronaut will appear in the CBS sitcom's 25 October episode, titled The Holographic Excitation, according to TVLine. In the episode, the gang get together for a costume party to celebrate Halloween at Stuart's comic book shop. Eight two-year-old Aldrin - the second man to set foot on the Moon (it comes right after first) - has previously appeared in episodes of 30 Rock, Numb3rs and animated series' The Simpsons and Futurama. He also competed in the 2010 season of Dancing with the Stars.
In a new series for BBC1 Dallas Campbell will trace the spectacular story of how humans have changed our world in a single generation. The three-part series entitled Generation Earth Campbell travels the globe, visiting the world's largest and most ambitious engineering projects, exploring the power of human ingenuity and the making of the modern world. In 1980 the tallest building on the planet was the Sears Towers in Chicago and Dubai was still a dusty strip of desert with a single highway. Fast forward thirty years and the world's tallest building stands at more than eight hundred metres, cities like Las Vegas have sprawled across the desert and are home to millions and China is the manufacturing capital of the world, with many of the fastest growing cities on earth. In just a single lifetime, humans have changed the face of the planet on a scale unimaginable to our predecessors. Generation Earth charts the epic scale of our re-design of the planet for the first time. Throughout the series Dallas undertakes some extraordinary feats – from cleaning the windows of the world's tallest building – the Burj Khalifa in Dubai - to scuba-diving in raw sewage in Mexico City, in order to unblock the turbines driving the mega-city's failing sewage system. He also flies a replica of the Wright Brother's glider from 1902, paraglides over the world's largest greenhouse array and travels to a cosmodrome on the desert steppes of Kazakhstan, to witness a new age of space travel. Because he can! In the first episode, Dallas looks at how we are building faster than ever before and the extremes that are gone to daily in order for us to live the way we do. In episode two, he explores how humans are - conceptually - shrinking the planet, transforming our transport networks, and moving more objects around the globe faster. In the final episode, Dallas examines what it takes to keep seven billion of us alive, in terms of energy, food and water. Drawing on high‐resolution satellite imagery, photo-real CGI and specialist filming, the series provides a new view on the world and compresses time to watch a generation of change pass in a few moments. Multiple time‐lapse cameras track the progress of the biggest construction projects under way today, from bare rock to engineering marvels. Each an emblem of a global trend, together they capture the sheer scale of human ambition to remake the planet. Filmed in HD, Generation Earth invokes the stunning and sometimes terrible beauty of the man-made world. Sounds good.

Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads is reportedly launching a new dog talent show. How this differs from Britain's Got Talent, which if it were any more of a dog it would have its own fleas is, as yet, unclear. The ITV project - Take The Lead - will see celebrities and their pets 'perform stunts' and routines in front of a live audience, according to the Sun.

Drug cheat Lance Armstrong has made it hard for anyone to trust cycling, says British Cycling boss Dave Brailsford. The American is accused of 'the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen.' The United States Anti-Doping Agency has banned him for life and stripped him of his seven Tour De France titles. 'It is understandable now for people to look at any results in cycling and question that,' said Brailsford. 'It completely and utterly lost its way and I think it lost its moral compass.' Brailsford said he was 'staggered' by the extent of the systemic doping revealed by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. 'It is shocking, it's jaw dropping and it is very unpleasant,' he told Radio 5Live. 'It's not very palatable and anybody who says it is would be lying wouldn't they?' He also criticised drug cheat Armstrong. 'I think there are plenty of people out there who saw this guy and what he did as an amazing achievement,' said Brailsford. 'He is one of the first cyclists that maybe transcended the sport and became a hero beyond cycling. It was an amazing thing and people got behind that. So to now find out what was behind [it] is, of course, disappointing.' Brailsford insisted cycling is trying to right the wrongs of the past and said his own outfit, Team Sky, was leading the fightback. This year's Tour De France was won by a Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins. 'Everybody has recalibrated and several teams like ourselves are hell-bent on doing it the right way and doing it clean,' said Brailsford. But one of the eleven of drug cheat Armstrong's former team-mates who testified against him was Michael Barry, who admitted to doping while a member of Armstrong's US Postal Service Pro Cycling team between 2002 and 2006, and who rode under Brailsford for Team Sky from 2010. In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Canadian insisted he had not doped again from the summer of 2006. 'We signed Michael from HTC which was, at the time, highly regarded as being a very sound, clean team,' said Brailsford. 'During his time at Team Sky, we have had absolutely no cause for concern whatsoever, there has never been any question in terms of his performances, his training, his behaviour on the team. There have never been any issues in that respect. But ultimately he lied. We set out with a zero tolerance policy, so we said that anyone who has had a doping conviction from the past or proved to have been involved in doping hasn't got a place on Team Sky. That is our policy. When you take someone you ask them a question and if someone lies to you and you find out later it's disappointing.' In his statement, Barry said: 'I apologise to those I deceived. I will accept my suspension and any other consequences. I will work hard to regain people's trust.' According to USADA chief executive Travis Tygart, there is 'conclusive and undeniable proof' of a team-run doping conspiracy at USPS. Armstrong has always denied doping but chose not to fight the doping charges filed against him. USADA claimed that the Texan supplied banned drugs to other riders on his team, pressured them into participating in the doping programme and threatened to get them removed from the team if they refused. 'You can see how the sport got lost in itself and got more and more extreme because it seemed to be systematic and everybody seemed to be doing it at the time,' Brailsford added. Martin Bruin, a former chief doping inspector at the Tour De France during the time Armstrong was competing, said he had been left 'speechless' by USADA's report. 'I've just heard the whole story and the proof is there,' he told 5Live. 'We are only human beings, we did our best to test and bring samples to labs according to rules, but I'm speechless about the systematic use, very disappointed. It's terrible for sport in general, for riders. You are always running behind the facts. You're always trying your very best to clean up the business, to achieve and do what is possible. But what can you do?'

Former England cricketer Ebony Rainford-Brent believes that 'sexing up' women's sport is key to attracting new female spectators and participants. The England women's cricket team finished runners-up in the World Twenty20 after losing to Australia in Sunday's final in Colombo. But Rainford-Brent told BBC Sport that 'more needs to be done' to attract people to women's sport. 'You want women to be attracted to the sport, but sex sells,' she claimed. 'Some of the biggest barriers for young girls playing sport is the image and being sweaty or a bit masculine, so if you can make the sport more attractive for females to play then you will attract more girls in. You also need females to support women's sport and you see successful sports like netball, which has a lot of female followers, and women's tennis which attract female crowds because the players look feminine, but they are very sporty. Women's cricket also has a good advantage in that we have very feminine looking and good players, but when we started playing we wore the England men's kit which was very baggy and heavy and didn't look great. Simply by tailoring the tracksuits it made the players look smarter and it does make a difference because you want to look professional and at the top of your game.' Rainford-Brent has also praised the impact of the World Twenty20 in increasing the profile of women's cricket. 'The decision of the ICC to put the women's T20 alongside the men's event is fantastic because the girls are getting the same sort of coverage in the semis and the final playing before the men,' she added. 'Many people hadn't watched the women's game before and there were quite a few people impressed and would watch it again. You want as many people seeing it and to develop your own offering.' Personally, speaking of someone thoroughly in touch with his feminine side, this blogger likes this idea. Something like this would certainly appeal to me.
I mean, I'd watch it.

A medical study has claimed that penis size 'matters' during penetrative sex. No shit? Seriously, you needed a study to work that out? The findings published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, the survey asked three hundred and twenty three women to recall their sexual activity within the last month. Out of those polled, those who had experienced the most vaginal-only orgasms stated that longer penises led to more enjoyable orgasms. Study researcher Stuart Brody told LiveScience: 'This might be due at least in part to greater ability of a longer penis to stimulate the entire length of the vagina and the cervix.' However, overall, sixty per cent of women said that size was not a major concern, with 6.3 per cent answering that they 'preferred smaller penises.' Oh, good. There's hope for us all yet, lads. A further fifteen per cent had a headache whilst twelve per cent preferred 'a good book, a glass of wine and a vibrator.' Fair enough, really. Barry Komisaruk, a researcher who was not involved in the study, countered: 'There's such variability in preference.' He stated that not all women prefer vaginal orgasms, adding: 'There are so many different factors. Once it gets to the kind of specifics that they're talking about, I get wary.' That was Barry Komisaruk, there, ladies. Speaking from experience, obviously.

On Thursday evening, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self will be attending Scunthorpe Steve's latest Record Player event. This one's the remarkable DJ Shadow's Endtroducing. With the trippin' and the hoppin' and the baseball cap on backwards style(e). Word. And all that. So, here's yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. If you've got an itch, scratch that mother.

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