Tuesday, October 30, 2012

For My Opening Line, I Might Try To Indicate My State Of Mind

The overnight ratings for Strictly Come Dancing's Sunday night results show grew to a new series high for Sid Owen's departure. The EastEnders actor waltzed off the celebrity ballroom dancing show watched by a huge audience of 9.38 million and an audience share of 36.4 per cent, at 7.30pm as the BBC1 show managed to depose Downton Abbey from the top of the Sunday night ratings chart. The X Factor, which averaged 8.88 million on ITV, may have peaked higher than Strictly's five-minute high of 10.1 million as Tulisa Contostavlos's act, Jade Ellis, left the competition. After a two-week dominance, Downton Abbey fell to 9.24 million punters for the costume drama's third series' penultimate episode - still, of course, an extraordinary figure in this day and age. Elsewhere on ITV, Surprise, Surprise, the Holly Willoughby-hosted revival, in the 7pm hour was watched by 4.29 million. The game show was ITV's highest-rated programme to air against Strictly on Sunday evenings. On BBC1, Countryfile continued to impress with 7.13 million at 6.30pm, 5.23 million watched The Antiques Roadshow two hours later, but Andrew Marr's History of the World - the hole where the rain got in for BBC1's Sunday line-up - could only attract 2.3 million. A new series of Harry & Paul kicked off on BBC2 with 1.48 million at 10pm, prior to which Dragons' Den had an audience of 1.99 million. Meanwhile, Homeland's latest Channel Four episode drew 1.81 million.

In fact, as previously reported, Strictly Come Dancing stepped up the pressure on The X Factor, beating the Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads show on both Saturday and Sunday for the first time in the weekend ratings battle. The BBC1 show hosted by Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly was watched by 9.6 million viewers between 6.30pm and 8.20pm on Saturday, with - as noted above - 9.4 million viewers for its results show on Sunday. The X Factor drew 8.4 million viewers between 8.20pm and 10.15pm on Saturday, and 9.18 million for its results show on Sunday. Stripping out timeshifted channel ITV+1, the gap between the two Saturday shows grew to 1.5 million. Saturday's The X Factor was watched by 8.1 million viewers on the main ITV channel. Strictly Come Dancing's Saturday night edition has been ahead of The X Factor in terms of overnight ratings throughout the current series but this is the first time it has also led the ITV show on Sunday as well as a Saturday. The X Factor has lost between one-and-a-half and two million viewers on last year's series, when it was averaging about ten million viewers per week. With last year's series of The X Factor being an average of two million viewers down on its 2010 run, the ITV show has slumped by nearly four million viewers over the course of two years. And, if Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads isn't worried about that, he probably should be.

Disgraced former newspaper tycoon and convicted fraudster Conrad Black's guest appearance on Have I Got News For You attracted just over five million overnight viewers to BBC1 on Friday. Black's appearance on Have I Got News For You pulled in 5.22 million viewers between 9pm and 9.30pm, the show's audience being slightly up on the previous week, when the show attracted 5.16 million. Elsewhere on Friday night, Derren Brown's most ambitious illusion yet – trying to convince someone that he was one of a handful of survivors in a zombie-ridden apocalyptic world – drew nearly three million viewers. Derren Brown: Apocalypse pulled in 2.76 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm on Channel Four, with a five-minute peak of 3.15 million. But BBC1's really not very good at all Sarah Alexander and Neil Morrissey sitcom Me & Mrs Jones could only hang on to half of Have I Got News For You's audience, with 2.7 million viewers between 9.30pm and 10pm. Have I Got News For You also, very satisfyingly, beat ITV's odious Piers Morgan's Life Stories, which featured Hollywood actor Burt Reynolds, drew 3.5 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm. The BBC2 documentary Natural World Special, about a wolf in Canada's frozen North, was watched by 1.6 million viewers including one hundred and fifteen thousand on BBC HD, also between 9pm and 10pm. The presence of James Bond stars Daniel Craig, Judi Dench and Javier Bardem - along with yer actual Russell Davies his very self - helped BBC1's The Graham Norton Show to 3.94 million viewers between 10.35pm and 11.20pm.

And finally in our ratings round-up, The Scum's controversial 3-2 win over Moscow Chelski FC proved more popular than ITV on Sunday afternoon, with a peak audience of more than three million viewers on Sky Sports 1. The second part of a live Premier League football double bill, the Sky Sports channel averaged 2.12 million viewers, an 11.6 per cent share of the audience, between 3.30pm and 7pm on Sunday, with a five-minute peak of 3.18 million, for the top-of-the-table clash. This put Sky Sports 1 ahead of ITV for large chunks of Sunday afternoon, when nine hundred thousand punters watched The Home of Fabulous Cakes between 4.10pm and 5.10pm, and 1.5 million saw a repeat of Downton Abbey between 5.10pm and 6.10pm. The first match of the afternoon, Everton's 2-2 draw with Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haw's, averaged 1.77 million between 1pm and 3.30pm, peaking with 2.53 million.

Dazzling Dezza Brown's latest TV project might be a ratings hit - see above - but it's also facing allegations of fakery after its star was reportedly revealed to be an actor. The illusionist and master of mesmerism and prestidigitation's new Channel Four show, Apocalypse, features Brown attempting to convince Steve Brosnan that the world had been struck by a meteorite, and that zombies had taken over. Brown described the twenty one-year-old as having a 'dead-end job,' and that he was 'stuck in a rut.' However, it has been claimed - on the Internet if not, actually, anywhere that matters - that Brosnan may be a 'stooge', after it was allegedly discovered that Bronsan belonged to a professional actors' casting website. Brosnan's Twitter account was said to have been linked to his page on the Casting Call Pro site, but was later altered to the names Craig Harwood and Jerrin Matthews, before being taken down. However, Channel Four has since denied reports that Brosnan has ever been an actor, and that the Casting Call Pro page was 'likely a fake.' A spokesman told the Sun: 'Steven is not and never has been a professional actor. He was chosen purely because he fitted the characteristics needed for the show.' Taking on Twitter, Dezza his very self said: 'Conspiracy theory flying around that Steven is an actor, cos he looks like a guy in a noodle advert. I NEVER EVER fake stunts with actors.' He continued: 'Plus his whole family/friends would have to be actors too. And all REAL family/friends, quietly killed.'

The photographer who took the topless and naked photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge will reportedly be arrested by the French police. It emerged over the weekend that the paparazzo's name had been handed over to the authorities - presumably, by some filthy Copper's Nark who stitched the geezer up like a kipper, Tommy Nutters - who are investigating the incident. A preliminary criminal investigation was launched last month after the publication of the images in French Closer. 'A name has been offered,' an alleged 'source' allegedly close to the case was quoted as allegedly saying by the Daily Scum Mail. 'The photographer is expected to be held for question[ing] imminently.' French public prosecutor Marie-Christine Daubigney said: 'This new information regarding the photographer will be passed on to investigating magistrates.' Metro claims that the photographer is thought to be one of a 'notorious band' of press who followed Princess Diana in the week leading to her death in 1997. An alleged 'royal source' allegedly told the Mirra: 'William and Kate are determined to bring the person who took those photos to justice and they're pushing hard for a custodial sentence. They want to make an example of this person.' The photographer could be jailed for up to a year and fined thirty six grand for breach of privacy if found guilty. It was recently suggested that the paparazzo who took the photographs was in fact an Englishman living in the south of France.
And, still on the subject of the press and royalty, the chief executive of Trinity Mirra has vowed to 'investigate claims' that a former business partner of Sophie, Countess of Wessex, had his phone-hacked by the Sunday Mirra more than ten years ago. Simon Fox said Trinity Mirra had not been contacted by Murray Harkin, but it had 'no alternative other than to fully investigate' press reports at the weekend that his phone was hacked. The Financial Times reported on Saturday that the Metropolitan police were assessing claims by Harkin that a 2001 Sunday Mirra article was published after his phone was hacked. Harkin is the fifth individual to complain about hacking by Trinity Mirra titles – four others, including former England football manager Sven-Göran Eriksson, last week lodged civil damages claims with the high court. 'Whilst we have not yet been contacted by Mr Harkin, or anyone associated with him and have no reason to believe that there is any substance to this accusation, I have asked for our inquiry team to include this new allegation in their review,' Fox said in an internal e-mail to staff on Monday morning, and, gleefully, reported as having been 'seen' by the Gruniad Morning Star. How they 'saw' it, they didn't say but it's fair to speculate that it was either given to them by a filthy stinking Copper's Nark or, somebody hacked into an e-mail account to acquire it. Perhaps the Gruniad would like to confirm which. 'I am absolutely clear that if any wrong-doing happened within the company, then we have no alternative other than to fully investigate and surface it,' Fox said. Harkin reportedly suspects that he was followed while on holiday abroad by somebody who could only have discovered his whereabouts from listening to his voicemails. Trinity Mirra announced last Wednesday that it had launched an internal investigation, headed by the chairman David Grigson, into the hacking claims which led to more than twenty per cent being wiped off the company's share price last week. In his e-mail on Monday, Fox said: 'I will work alongside David on this, but his assistance will enable me to devote most of my time to Trinity Mirror's future, rather than allegations about its past.' The inquiry into past allegations comes amid reports that 'a secret dossier' on phone-hacking has been prepared by concerned investors, which claims that the practice was organised on 'a systemic scale.' According to the Independent on Sunday, the dossier names six reporters from the Daily Mirra and the People who, it claims, 'regularly' hacked phones. Investors commissioned the investigation during the Leveson inquiry to evaluate the commercial risk it posed to the company. Former senior reporters at the company's national titles are said to have been the 'sources' of the information contained in the - now not so secret - dossier. A spokesman for Trinity Mirra said: 'As we have consistently said all our journalists work within the criminal law and the Press Complaints Commission's code of practice.' And, that's the story they're sticking to until such times as they're not.

Skyfall's international debut has broken box office records. Grossing over seventy million dollars in the week before its US debut, the James Bond film has broken the UK Saturday attendance record, reports Collider. It took a total of just over twenty million quid in the UK since its opening on Friday 26 October, making it the second-biggest opening in the country's box office history behind the 3D Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2. The achievement has been deemed especially impressive considering the Bond film does not enjoy the higher prices of 3D movies. Skyfall screenwriter John Logan has signed up to provide the scripts for the next two James Bond movies based on the strength of Skyfall's opening. The Sam Mendes-directed film, which stars Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, Javier Bardem and Bérénice Marlohe, will début in the US on Friday 2 November.

Well-known Scottish comedian Billy Connolly is being honoured with a lifetime achievement award by BAFTA Scotland. The sixty nine-year-old, who is also an actor and musician, has been hailed by the arts organisation as one of Scotland's most successful talents. He will be given the award for his outstanding contribution to television and film. Connolly will not be at the ceremony on 18 November but a recorded message will be played on the night. Instead, he will receive the award at a public event in December. Connolly said: 'I'm really pleased and proud to receive this trophy from BAFTA in Scotland because I know you probably think we luvvies get shiny prizes all the time. But actually, sometimes we don't. I'm really sorry I can't be there because I'm in San Francisco doing some prior engagements. But in December I will be in Glasgow, where my heart is all the time, doing a BAFTA Life in Pictures event highlighting my film and television work from over the years, which might be quite groovy.' The event in December will see Connolly discuss his life and career which has spanned thirty films - some of them really terrible! - numerous sell-out stand-up tours and television appearances. He is set to appear in Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut Quartet and the much-anticipated The Hobbit, both to be released next year. Past recipients of the outstanding contribution award include Sean Connery, Brian Cox and Robbie Coltrane. Ken Loach's film The Angels' Share leads the way in this year's Scottish BAFTA nominations. It will compete in the categories of best feature film, Paul Laverty for best writer, and Paul Brannigan and Siobhan Reilly for best actor and actress. Kevin Bridges's television show What's The Story? is nominated for best comedy/entertainment programme and the comedian is also up for best writer for the series.

Scotland Yard is to examine allegations that a child sexual abuse ring was connected to a Downing Street aide. The Metropolitan police commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, said on Monday that the claims would be 'treated seriously.' Last week the Labour MP Tom Watson (power to the people!) used parliamentary privilege to make the allegations, albeit without actually naming the aide in question. It is understood that they relate to a previous prime ministerial aide and not to anyone who has recently served in Downing Street. Hogan-Howe said 'a senior officer' would look at the claims and that police were in contact with Watson to see if he could provide detectives with more details. He said they would ask the Labour MP this week 'what his sources are and if they are prepared to talk to us' as the police assess the strength of the allegations. Last week Watson told MPs that a police file relating to Peter Righton, who was convicted in 1992 of importing child abuse images from the Netherlands, needed to be re-examined. 'The evidence file used to convict Peter Righton, if it still exists, contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring,' Watson said during prime minister's questions. 'One of its members boasts of his links to "a senior aide of a former prime minister," who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad. The leads were not followed up, but if the files still exist, I want to ensure that the Metropolitan police secure the evidence, re-examine it and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10.' Watson gave more detail on his blog. He said he had been contacted by a former child protection specialist who was 'concerned' that not all of the leads the police had when investigating Righton were pursued. 'The contact, who has seen the letters, claimed that one paedophile in particular was of great concern. He said that the paedophile, who worked with children, boasted of a key aide to a former PM who could help get hold of indecent images of children,' Watson wrote. Hogan-Howe said the police and other institutions had 'missed the opportunity' to collate allegations against Saville. 'Organisations including the police have had individual allegations that have not been put together to actually show that this person may well have shown a pattern of behaviour that's been pretty awful,' he said. He added that the allegations against Savile dated to the 1960s and spanned more than half-a-century. 'You might have thought that people would at least have talked about it and intervened,' he said. 'It does look as if from time-to-time people have been concerned, they've made the start to intervene, but probably then they've relied a little bit too much on his reputation and his word that he did nothing. If you accept all the public accounts of the activity, then it's possibly spanned fifty years, which is a huge amount of time.' The Met's Operation Yewtree is investigating claims from three hundred potential victims dating back decades. It became a full criminal investigation when detectives determined there could be people still alive who were allegedly involved in some of the abuse. Meanwhile, a former senior royal aide has claimed that Jimmy Savile's behaviour when he visited Prince Charles's official home at St James' Palace was 'a cause for concern and suspicion.' Dickie Arbiter, who handled media relations for the Prince and Princess of Wales while spokesman for the Queen between 1988 and 2000, said Savile used to 'rub his lips up' the arms of Prince Charles's young female assistants as a greeting. Savile is understood to have visited Prince Charles's official London residence several times during the late 1980s when he was acting as a kind of marriage counsellor between Charles and Princess Diana. A spokesman for the Prince of Wales confirmed the prince and Savile 'formed a relationship' in the late 1970s after coming together through their work with wheelchair sports charities. Charles led tributes to Savile when he died a year ago. 'He would walk into the office and do the rounds of the young ladies taking their hands and rubbing his lips all the way up their arms if they were wearing short sleeves,' Arbiter said of Savile. 'If it was summer [and their arms were bare] his bottom lip would curl out and he would run it up their arms. This was at St James's Palace. The women were in their mid-to-late twenties doing typing and secretarial work.' Arbiter did not raise his concerns formally and there is no suggestion that Savile committed any crimes while on royal premises or when he was with Prince Charles on numerous occasions from the 1970s onwards. But the alleged concern over his behaviour expressed by a senior aide will raise questions over how Savile managed to develop such a long-standing relationship with the heir to the throne. Asked about Savile's behaviour with the royal assistants or whether Prince Charles had taken any action to find out if anyone in his family or staff might have suffered any abuse or have any information relating to the criminal investigation into Savile's alleged paedophilia, a spokesman for the prince said: 'We have no record of anyone making a complaint.' Which is pretty much exactly what the BBC said when this whole rotten malarkey first reared its ugly head. Will the Daily Scum Mail and the Gruniad Morning Star be calling for a public enquiry and heads to roll at St James's Palace as well as Broadcasting House, one wonders? 'The prince first met Savile through their shared interest in supporting disability charities [the prince became patron of the British Wheelchair Sports Foundation in the late 1970s] and it was primarily because of this connection that they maintained a relationship in the years that followed,' the spokesman said. Arbiter suggested he believed the women might have thought Savile's greeting was 'rather funny,' but he said it was 'a cause for concern' and he struggled to understand why Savile was granted such access to the royal family. Oh yeah. There's a whole hell of a lot of people who are now claiming to have 'had their suspicions' about Savile over a long period of time. And yet no one did anything. Well, what a hero you are, Dickie, me auld China. 'I looked at him as a court jester and told him so,' said Arbiter. 'I remember calling him "an old reprobate" and he said "not so much of the old."' Concern about Savile's behaviour at the palace emerged as Sir Roger Jones, former chairman of the BBC's corporate charity Children In Need, was another person claiming almost clairvoyant powers - in a Derren Brown-style(e) - and that he had been 'so uncomfortable' about Savile that he did not allow him to have any association with the Children In Need cause. Jones, a BBC governor from 1997 to 2002, said he had 'no evidence' that Savile was 'up to anything' but 'we all recognised he was a pretty creepy sort of character. When I was with Children In Need, we took the decision that we didn't want him anywhere near to the charity,' he told the BBC. Prince Charles met Savile on numerous occasions. In 1999 he accepted an invitation to a private meal at Savile's Glencoe home which was this week daubed with graffiti reading 'Jimmy the beast.' Savile asked three local women to dress up in pinafores emblazoned with the letters HRH and Charles subsequently sent the television presenter a Christmas card with the note: 'Jimmy, with affectionate greetings from Charles. Give my love to your ladies in Scotland.' Charles reportedly sent Savile a box of cigars and a pair of gold cufflinks on his eightieth birthday with a note that read: 'Nobody will ever know what you have done for this country Jimmy. This is to go some way in thanking you for that.' Savile used to boast of his royal connections - and his close friendship with prime minister Margaret Thatcher, with whom he spent several Christmases at Chequers, for that matter - being photographed with Charles on numerous occasions and once telling the Daily Scum Mail that the prince was 'the nicest man you will ever meet. Royalty are surrounded by people who don't know how to deal with it,' Savile said in an interview. 'I have a freshness of approach which they obviously find to their liking. I think I get invited because I have a natural, good fun way of going on and we have a laugh. They don't get too many laughs.' The day after the meal in Glencoe, Savile persuaded Charles to join him for a photo opportunity at his local post office where he went to pick up his pension money. 'The post office photo opportunity was definitely [down to Savile],' said Coleen Harris, Prince Charles's press secretary. 'You always think that other people are getting more out of these things [than the prince] but on the whole it is for a good reason, for the charities and it is a positive thing.' She added: 'Personally I always thought he was slightly eccentric, but beyond that I had no idea. He was a slightly odd bloke, but not in a cruel way.' Arbiter added that despite Savile's 'unusual behaviour' with the royal administrative staff there was 'no evidence' of any other cause for suspicion. 'There was a limit to what he could get away with in the royal household,' he said. He also claimed that palace advisers felt the prince's charities might benefit from a connection with Savile, at the time one of the country's most famous TV stars. Perhaps Savile's most unlikely role was that of personal counsel to Prince Charles in the late 1980s at a time when the royal family was in deep trouble. The marriages of Charles and Diana and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson were disintegrating. Around New Year 1990, the Gruniad Morning Star claims that Charles asked Savile to help the Duchess of York with what Savile later said was 'keeping her profile down.' Princess Diana was recorded telling James Gilbey on the so-called 'squidgygate tape': 'Jimmy Savile rang me up yesterday, and he said: "I'm just ringing up, my girl, to tell you that His Nibs [Prince Charles] has asked me to come and help out the redhead [the Duchess of York], and I'm just letting you know, so that you don't find out through her or him; and I hope it's all right by you."'

Is it just yer actual Keith Telly Topping, dear blog reader, or does anybody else get the desire for a sudden cold shower every time Nigella Lawson starts wittering on about her 'moist plums' on Nigellissima?
It may have been Jeremy Paxman's finest hour: the Newsnight edition last week (coinciding partly with the Panorama about his programme) in which he gave his bosses, in the section on the Savile scandal, the same disdainful treatment he normally subjects politicians and other public official (and, sometimes, students on University Challenge) to. And what was his reward from those odious right-wing thug-lice at the Daily Scum Mail? Nothing less than a page-lead article, doubtless instigated, if not written by, tie-fascist Paul Dacre, complaining that Paxo was tieless. Well, spank his very bottom for such a hidious hellish crime. But has the totemic Scum Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens (also without a neckwear during a recent Newsnight appearance) has been 'internally disciplined' for committing the same example of nefarious and naughty skulduggery and sour and rotten doings.

Viewers could soon watch post-watershed programmes before 9pm under proposals being put forward by commercial cable and satellite broadcasters including BSkyB. Currently peak-time dramas and comedies are not allowed to be shown before the watershed, unless they are cut to remove any swearing, violence and/or sex. However, pay-per-view programmes and content on premium film subscription channels are allowed before the watershed because viewers have to key in a pin code before they can watch them. Broadcasters including Sky, UKTV and MTV have asked the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for regulations to be changed to extend this pin protection system to cover all other shows on cable and satellite channels. It is understood that audiences would have to enter the pin every time they wanted to watch a peak-time show before the watershed, allaying parents' fears that such a move could mean a relaxing of the 9pm boundary on language, taste and decency. This means, for example, that if Sky wanted to put post-watershed US crime drama The Wire on in daytime it could do so without re-editing as viewers would have to punch in their pin code in order to watch it. The proposed overhauling of pin protection rules would not cover adult channels. The system would be on a voluntary basis and the Commercial Broadcasters' Alliance – which is making the proposal – believe it 'will provide more choice for audiences, while offering secure and established protection processes.' COBA has put the plan in its submission to the DCMS for the communications review taking place ahead of a new communications bill, saying: 'To open up new potential ways of making content available, regulations should allow broadcasters on a voluntary basis to choose to make other appropriate forms of linear content available via pin protection.' Such a system is already in place for online catch-up TV services. The COBA executive director, Adam Minns, said: 'The system of pin protection is well established in the UK. It has proven to be effective technically and is something with which audiences are familiar – it is now used on a range of services. At the same time, it provides consumer protection that is arguably more effective than the watershed regime. Extending such a regime to other services could potentially encourage innovative new forms of content delivery.' It is expected that such a move would need a consultation by Ofcom as it would require changes to the media regulator's broadcasting code.

Coverage of the Premier League in the United States will move from FOX to NBC from next season after a two-year deal was signed with the NBC Sports Group. The financial details of the deal were not announced in a Premier League statement which confirmed that NBC would take over the rights to televise all matches. 'The Premier League is pleased to announce that NBC-Universal via the NBC Sports Group has been awarded the live audio visual broadcast rights for all three hundred and eighty Barclays Premier League matches per season for seasons 2013-14 to 2015-16 in the USA,' the statement read. 'The deal brings the Premier League to one of the largest broadcasters in the world; the NBC Sports Group already televises such major sporting events as the NFL, NHL, the Summer and Winter Olympics, MLS, the US Open [golf] and the Ryder Cup.' The Premier League's chief executive, Richard Scudamore, said: 'We are extremely pleased that NBC has chosen to invest in the Premier League and look forward to working with them for many years to come.' NBC's chairman Mark Lazarus said the league was 'on the cusp of exponential popularity growth here in the US.'

Publisher Pearson says it has agreed a deal with German media group Bertelsmann to combine their Penguin and Random House businesses. Under the terms of the deal, the two businesses will be run in a joint venture called Penguin Random House. Bertelsmann will own fifty three per cent of the joint venture, while Pearson will own forty seven per cent. The two firms said last week that they were discussing a deal. A report at the weekend also said News Corporation was planning a bid for Penguin. The Sunday Times reported that News Corp - which owns publisher HarperCollins - was prepared to make 'a substantial cash offer' for Penguin, expected to be about one billion quid. The tie-up between Penguin and Random House marks the first deal between the world's big six publishers. The others are Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster. When news of the talks emerged last week, industry observers said that such deals were 'inevitable' as firms sought to adapt to the changing publishing landscape. The rapid take-up of e-books means publishers are now attempting to bolster their negotiating strength, most notably with Amazon.

Cleaners and maintenance workers at the British Museum are on strike in a row over the privatisation of their work. Unions said staff at the Central London museum feared their pay and conditions could be seriously cut if maintenance work is contracted out. The museum said it was consulting with staff. The strike took place on Monday, with plans for more action on Monday next week. The Public and Commercial Services union and UNITE represent about fifty of the museum's cleaning and facilities management staff. They believe senior managers are close to confirming that outsourcing will go ahead, with the new contract starting in April. UNITE regional officer Carolyn Simpson said: 'Without our members carrying out the cleaning and servicing of the buildings and exhibits, the British Museum's standing as a world-class heritage site is in danger of becoming second class. We will not allow these jobs be outsourced without a fight.' PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka added: 'Introducing the profit motive is not only unnecessary, it risks undermining these important services to the public.' A museum spokesperson said that cleaning services could be provided more simply and efficiently by the appointment of one contractor.

The government has said that a skeleton which could be that of Richard III - a horse a horse his kingdom for a, as it happens - will be interred in Leicester if it is confirmed as the Fifteenth Century king. If they're looking for a nice quiet stop, I suggest the penalty area at the King Power Stadium, that seldom sees too many visitors. The bones were found in September by archaeologists digging beneath a car park in Leicester. Leicester, Nottinghamshire and York MPs discussed a permanent grave on Friday. In a written answer, justice minister Helen Grant said the skeleton would be interred at Leicester Cathedral if tests proved it was Richard III. In response to a question posed by Dan Jarvis, Labour MP for Barnsley, Ms Grant wrote: 'My Department issued a licence to exhume human remains which could be those of Richard III. Remains have now been exhumed and archaeologists are currently carrying out tests to determine the identity of the remains. Should they be found to be those of Richard III, the current plan is for them to be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral.' DNA results on the bones are being compared to that of living descendants of Richard's eldest sister, Anne of York. Richard died at the hands of forces of Henry Tulip near Market Bosworth in Leicestershire. His grave, in the church of Greyfriars in Leicester, was lost during centuries of redevelopment. However, the archaeologists from Leicester University have found a skeleton, which is consistent with the known details of King Richard's appearance and death. A university spokesperson said the evidence included signs of a peri-mortem trauma to the skull and a barbed iron arrow head in the area of the spine. Richard is recorded by some sources as having been pulled from his horse and killed with a blow to the head. The skeleton also showed evidence of severe scoliosis - a curvature of the spine - which may have led Shakespeare to portray him as a hunchback king in the play Richard III. Campaigners from both York and Leicester have said the remains, should they prove to be the king, ought to come to them. In the debate, Labour MP John Mann, from Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire, offered Worksop as a halfway point between the two. Labour's Jon Ashworth, who represents Leicester South, said in response to Grant's written answer: 'This is terrific news and a victory for the campaign. I always strongly argued that Leicester Cathedral was the most suitable final resting place for the remains of Richard III. Fingers crossed it actually is him now!' Joe Ann Ricca, founder and chief executive of The Richard III Foundation, which had argued the skeleton should be interred in York, said she was 'disappointed' at the decision. 'If his remains are really going to be buried in Leicester, we would hope he at least has a traditional Christian service,' she whinged. 'But it's kind of a monstrous act when you know that the former king of England had expressed the desire and a wish to be buried at York Minster.' Hang on, this is Richard III who killed the prince's in The Tower - allegedly - and you're talking about 'monstrous acts', Joe?

Chicago-born singer-songwriter Terry Callier, who collaborated with Massive Attack and Beth Orton, has died at the age of sixty seven. Callier, who began his career at seventeen when he signed to Chess Records, recorded his final CD in 2009. Hidden Conversations was written and produced with Bristol collective Massive Attack. He also worked on Beth Orton's Mercury Prize-nominated CD, Central Reservations and with Paul Weller on 2002's 'Brother To Brother'. Callier died in hospital in Chicago. The news was confirmed by record label Mister Bongo, which worked with him on six CDs between 2001 and 2009. His funeral will take place on 3 November in his home city and a memorial is planned for London. The date is yet to be announced. Many musicians have taken to Twitter to pay tribute to the jazz and soul musician. Orton shared a YouTube video with fans, saying: 'This was one of the best nights of my life. Such a privilege and joy - RIP dear Terry Callier.' Tim Burgess of The Charlatans posted: 'The world has lost another beautiful voice.' David Buttle, founder of Mister Bongo, wrote on the company's website: 'I first worked with Terry when recording him at the Jazz Cafe in Camden, London in the late 1990s. This was a spiritual home for Terry's fans; most nights that he played you could hear a pin drop when he sang and many people passed out, overwhelmed by the light that shone from him.' Callier was born on 24 May 1945. He grew up singing alongside soul singers Jerry Butler, Major Lance and Curtis Mayfield. 'That was a dynamite neighbourhood. All of us were doo-woping at the time in different groups,' Callier wrote on his MySpace page. He released his first single 'Look At Me Now' in 1963. Callier released three jazz-funk CDs in the 1970s - including the extraordinary What Color is Love?, a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping - but by the 1980s, he had left music behind after he was granted custody of his only daughter Sundiata, and re-trained as a computer programmer. 'When I got custody of my daughter I had to give up music to raise her properly, she needed me and the music business just didn't seem like a viable option at that point,' Callier said, although he continued to perform. His music career was resurrected in the early 1990s when his Chess/Cadet recordings were re-discovered by acid-jazz fans in the UK. He sang vocals on Massive Attack's single 'Live With Me', which was released in 2006.

Which, I guess, brings us to Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. This one's for Terry, a funk-soul brother of great regard with a voice that could melt hearts.

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