Thursday, October 04, 2012

Damn Your Love, Damn Your Lies

The Great British Bake Off rose to an all-time high of nearly 4.8 million viewers for BBC2 on Tuesday night. Cathryn Dresser's exit at the competition's quarter-final stage drew 4.75m and peaked with well over five million punters, edging closer to BBC1's Holby City and beating all other programming in the 8pm ratings battle. BBC2's Bake Off probably aided Ian Hislop's new programme Stiff Upper Lip: An Emotional History of Britain - the documentary series launched with an excellent 2.27m at 9pm immediately after the cookery show. The BBC suffered losses elsewhere in its schedule, as BBC1's The Paradise dipped to 4.85m and BBC3 sitcom Cuckoo also fell to seven hundred and eighty nine thousand . Manchester United's match against the Romanians of CFR Cluj dominated ITV's evening schedule, with coverage scoring an average of 3.7m between 7.30pm and 10pm. Overall, BBC1 managed another easy Tuesday primetime victory against ITV with twenty three per cent of the audience share versus 16.2 per cent.

The producers of The Simpsons are asking the public to send in their ideas for the show's opening credits sequence. Each episode of the animated sitcom famously starts with a different set of events ending with the characters taking their place on the family couch. Producers say the best idea may end up being animated and included in the final episode of the current series. In 2010, graffiti artist Banksy designed a couch gag for the show. It showed children locked away in a factory producing animated frames for the show, while pandas and a unicorn slaved away making Simpsons merchandise. Other previous gags have seen the family arrive at their couch to find The Flintstones sitting there and a sequence done with clay models. Fans of the show are being asked to describe their idea in one hundred words. Rules for the competition state: 'Your idea needs to be 2D animation; it must be thirty seconds or shorter; it can't have dialogue; it can't have music; it can't have brands or commercials; it must conform to broadcast standards; and it must use all five family members. Other than that, the only limit is your imagination.' The winning entry is likely to be broadcast in May 2013. The Simpsons, which began in 1989, is the longest-running animated comedy show of all time, with more than five hundred episodes broadcast.

BBC Breakfast suffered a highly unfortunate F-bomb moment on Wednesday morning, after someone speaking on a radio microphone outside the studio was heard on-air. As presenters Susanna Reid and Charlie Stayt began an interview with the orchestra conductor John Wilson about a new CD of Rodgers and Hammerstein covers, viewers heard a voice in the background saying 'What the fuck is that?' The hosts seemed not to have heard the offending interlude and carried on with the interview. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'During the programme this morning, we accidentally played out not-for-broadcast audio containing an audible swearword. The error was caused by a radio microphone inadvertently being left on outside our studio. Our presenters apologised on-air as soon as the mistake was identified and we are reviewing our procedures accordingly.' In the age of personal video recorders with live pause, such bloopers are, of course, easier to preserve for posterity.

Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch his very self is reportedly being lined up to play Julian Assange in a forthcoming biopic about the WikiLeaks founder, according to Deadline. Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks studio is basing its film on the books WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy, by Gruniad Morning Star writers David Leigh and Luke Harding, and Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website, written by Assange's former right-hand man Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Both books were optioned by the studio last year. Deadline says Joel Kinnaman of the US version of The Killing, who was recently cast as the new Robocop, could play Domscheit-Berg. The casting news suggests that Jeremy Renner, who had previously been tipped to play Assange, is no longer in the running. Bill Condon, the man behind The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part One and Two, remains the studio's first choice to direct. Assange is currently hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has claimed political asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex-crime accusations. His lawyer has argued that his client would not receive a fair trial, and Assange also fears he could face extradition to the United States. The WikiLeaks film was previously reported to be pitched somewhere between The Social Network and All the President's Men, and is one of a number of mooted projects about Assange doing the rounds. Others include an Australian TV movie, in which Anthony LaPaglia plays a cop tracking the young Assange as he embarks on his early career as a hacker in Melbourne, a fictional account of the activist's adventures in Internet dating by Khodorkovsky director Cyril Tuschi, and a second TV film from the HBO stable. Cumberbatch has so much work on his plate that fans of his turn as Sherlock Holmes in the BBC TV series Sherlock may be wondering how he plans to fit series three into his schedule. The British actor plays a headline-grabbing villain role in the next Star Trek film, Into Darkness, and is voicing both the dragon, Smaug, and the Necromancer in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit movies. He will also star in Steve McQueen's Twelve Years a Slave, and has a role lined up in the forthcoming big-screen adaptation of the Pulitzer and Tony-winning play August: Osage County opposite Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. Busy lad.

Sir David Jason is to publish his memoirs to mark fifty years in the entertainment industry. The seventy two-year-old actor's autobiography will be published by Random House in the autumn of 2014 with an eye on the lucrative Christmas market. Jason said the book would allow him to 'share the journey' of his life with the British public. He is best known for roles in TV series such as Only Fools And Horses, A Touch Of Frost and The Darling Buds Of May. Born in 1940, Jason started his television career in 1964 playing the part of Bert Bradshaw in ITV soap Crossroads. Three years later he performed alongside future Monty Python members Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam in the ITV children's sketch comedy series Do Not Adjust Your Set. In 1973 he starred opposite Ronnie Barker in the BBC sitcom Open All Hours. He also featured alongside Barker in prison sitcom Porridge. In 1981 came his popular role Del-Boy Trotter in the BBC's Only Fools and Horses, which ran between 1981 and 2003. He moved to ITV in 1992 to star as Detective Inspector Jack Frost in a role that would continue for sixteen years. The actor was awarded an OBE in 1993 and a knighthood in 2005, both for services to drama. Sir David said: 'Over the past fifty years I have had the fortunate experience of working with some of the finest actors and writers in the world. This book will be an opportunity for me to share the journey through my life and career with the people who have been most generous with their support and kindness - the great British public.' Ben Dunn, the publishing director of Random imprint Century, said: 'Like so many millions of Brits, I grew up watching and listening, laughing and crying to David's on-screen genius - from Del Boy to Dangermouse to Detective Inspector Jack Frost, his canon of work is unsurpassed and I am truly honoured to be publishing a memoir that I have no doubt will be as golden as everything else he's touched.' The hardback version will come out in the autumn of 2014, with a paperback the following year.

High-profile football club chairman Peter Ridsdale has been disqualified from acting as a company director for seven and a half years. Ridsdale, currently chairman of Preston North End, was banned following an Insolvency Service investigation. The inquiry found that the sixty-year-old channelled payments from football clubs into his personal bank account instead of a company account. The company, a sports consultancy, collapsed owing over four hundred thousand smackers in tax. The finding does not relate to his footballing duties as chairman of various clubs. The decision calls into question Ridsdale's future at Preston North End, who play in League One. The ban prevents him from acting as a director, but also in taking part - directly or indirectly - in the promotion, formation or management of a company. 'It is up to Mr Ridsdale or the club to decide what his work is and whether or not he is involved in the management or control of the club. We do not know what his terms and conditions are,' said a spokesman for the Insolvency Service. A spokesman for Preston North End said: 'We are aware of [the finding] but cannot say anything at the moment.' Ridsdale has previously been chairman of Leeds United, Barnsley and Cardiff City football clubs. Ridsdale, of Carnforth in Lancashire, will now be banned from acting as a company director from 19 October to 18 April 2016. The ban relates to his actions while director of WH Sports Group Limited, which provided sports and leisure consultancy services to football clubs from 2003. The company went into liquidation in April 2009, owing four hundred and seventy eight thousand six hundred and ninety eight quid - the vast majority of which was owed in tax to HM Revenue and Customs. Ridsdale did not dispute findings that: Payments totalling three hundred and forty seven thousand notes, for services provided by the business to a football club where he was chairman, were paid into his personal bank account between May 2007 and March 2009 instead of to the company's account, he did not disclose the relevant transactions to the liquidator of the company who was subsequently told of them by the football club, he failed to ensure tax payments were made by the company. Unpaid tax at the time of liquidation included one hundred and sixty six thousand four hundred and twenty one knicker in corporation tax, one hundred and two thousand two hundred and seventy nine smackers in income tax and national insurance, and one hundred and seventy three thousand six hundred and fifty three quid in VAT, he failed to make sure the business filed accounts on three successive occasions. 'As someone who has had many directorships, Mr Ridsdale ought to be aware of the responsibilities that come with such a position,' said Claire Entwistle, director of company investigations north at the Insolvency Service. Ridsdale's wife - Sophie Victoria Ridsdale - who was co-director of the company, has also been disqualified. She will be banned from taking any directorships from 19 October to April 2016. 'These disqualifications should serve as a reminder that the Insolvency Service will investigate unacceptable conduct and deal robustly with directors who harm creditors by using unacceptable financial practice,' Claire Entwistle added.

Prolific session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan, who played on hits by singers including Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey and Dusty Springfield, has died. Sullivan, seventy one, was reputed to have played on more than one thousand hit singles including fifty five number ones. His credits included Petula Clark's 'Downtown', 'What's New Pussycat?' by Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey's 'Goldfinger' and 'Release Me' by Engelbert Humperdinck. His widow Norma said he died peacefully at home in West Sussex on Tuesday. Sullivan was one of the most sought-after session musicians of the 1960s and 70s. The list of Sullivan's recordings on his website features many of the era's biggest names, including Billy Fury, Adam Faith, Frankie Vaughan, Helen Shapiro, Freddie & The Dreamers, Cilla Black, The Kinks, Marianne Faithfull and Sandy Shaw. His other notable singles included Frank Ifield's 'I Remember You', 'Make It Easy On Yourself' by The Walker Brothers, 'Space Oddity' by David Bowie, 'Ferry Cross the Mersey' by Gerry & the Pacemakers and 'Sunshine Superman' by Donovan. Born James Tomkins in Uxbridge, he started playing the guitar aged fourteen and turned professional within two years. He backed Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent on the 1960 tour during which Cochran died, and would give guitar lessons to a young Ritchie Blackmore, who went on to form Deep Purple. In 1959, at The 2i's Coffee Bar, he met Marty Wilde and was invited to become a member of his backing group, The Wildcats who were the warm up act on the TV series Oh, Boy! Wilde bought Sullivan a Gibson Les Paul. It was, allegedly, the first to be played in Britain. He composed the score for an episode of the science fiction series, Space: 1999 (The Troubled Spirit), in which he also appeared and performed part of the score on screen, as a crew member giving a sitar concert. Under the guidance of Vilayat Khan, Sullivan learned to play the sitar and released two LPs of sitar music. He also plays sitar on a musical interpretation of the Kama Sutra. Sullivan practised the sitar with George Harrison at George's Esher bungalow. Sullivan had already appeared on Harrison's 1968 Wonderwall soundtrack. Jim was the musical director of Tom Jones' touring band between 1969 and 1974 and went on to become a part of The James Last Orchestra. He is also credited with playing a part in a number of key developments in rock, including pioneering the use of the fuzzbox and the wah-wah volume control pedal (most notably on Dave Berry's 1964 hit 'The Crying Game').

On Thursday evening, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self will attend the latest Record Player event at the Tyneside. This week, much against his better judgment, he's going to be spending forty five minutes sitting in the dark listening to five smashed-out-of-their-collective-skulls-on-snow hippies whinging about their respective divorces. Did we really fight the punk wars for this? Still, at least they remained reasonably tuneful whilst recording it, I'll give them that much. Anyway, in celebration, if that's the right word, here's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day.

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