Monday, October 01, 2012

I'm Underage And Uninsured

The latest Doctor Who episode The Angels Take Manhattan had an audience Appreciation Index score of eighty eight on Saturday. Doctor Who was the joint highest scorer on the two main channels for the day, along with Casualty.
As noted in a previous blog updateThe Angels Take Manhattan had an 0vernight audience of 5.9m viewers, a share of 26.9 per cent of the total TV audience on BBC1 on Saturday evening. The audience increased throughout the episode, as more viewers joined to witness the departure of Amy and Rory, peaking at 6.4 million for the last five minutes. Doctor Who was the highest rated programme on BBC1 for the day, with the other drama of the evening, Casualty, getting 3.7m viewers. Highest rated programme of the day on any side was The X Factor which had 8.7m overnight viewers watching. Against Doctor Who, ITV's risible odious game show fiasco Red Or Black? had a laughably meagre 3.23m viewers with 2.84m watching its second - and final - episode later in the evening. Will it be back for a third series, dear blog reader? Place your bets now. Elsewhere Match of the Day (3.8m) once again hammered The Jonathan Ross Show (2.3m) and Fool Britannia (2.2m) continued to struggle even though it's only up against Total Wipeout (3.2m). On BBC2 again it was Dad's Army (two million) and Qi XL (1.3m) which provided the station's highlights.

The final episode of the latest Doctor Who series, which saw the departure of The Doctor's companions Amy and Rory, seemed to impress most of the TV critics. Writing in the Independent, Neela Debnath said the episode 'was a fitting send-off with a mixture of sadness but also satisfaction.' She added: 'The Angels Take Manhattan was a wonderful swansong to the duo.' Debnath described the episode as 'a dark, noirish journey that owed more than a little to Dennis Potter's seminal Singing Detective.' The Gruniad Morning Star's Tom Wollaston suggested the episode was scary enough for adults, let alone children. 'It wasn't just scary though. Steven Moffat's finale to the current series is a brilliant episode, full of warmth and humanity to counteract the goosebumps. Sadness, too. And it all pretty much makes sense to me, which is rare; being old, and a bit fuddy-duddy, I sometimes wonder what the hell is going on in Doctor Who.' The Mirra's Jon Cooper wrote that 'it was shocks and tension all the way, and anyone who wasn't riveted probably wasn't paying attention. Doctor Who now demands attention, and it's simultaneously a wonderful and a rather sorry thing that one of the most challenging dramas on TV at the moment is ostensibly aimed at kids. But heck, why let them have all the fun?"'
Karen Gillan has moved back to Scotland and with her parents according to the Daily Record: 'It's a really funny thought having all these crazy experiences on Doctor Who, then always seeming to end up back in my old childhood bedroom, with my childhood posters. I've got a Muse one, from when I was like an angsty teen. And I've got a Daniel O'Donnell calendar, which I thought would be really funny when I was younger, from 2004 or something. I lie there and I am like, has all that just really happened? Or did I just imagine it?' Meanwhile Arthur Darvill, currently appearing in Our Boys at The Duchess Theatre in London, has recalled his first theatre appearance: 'I was confronted with a thousand people. I thought, "Oh my God, what am I doing?" I've been so nervous during shows that I've walked off-stage at the end and immediately forgotten everything that I've just done. You hear stories about stage-fright, but if you know that someone's experienced it, you don't mention it – just in case. You never know what can set it off. It is a terrifying thing walking out for the first time, but it's funny how quickly that fades. Later, you start to crave that fear.'

So, Smudger, Kazza and Arty are no more. Where next then? Oh yes, I forgot, this.
Downton Abbey commanded a huge audience on Sunday night as the period drama picked up an extra 1.2 million viewers week-on-week. This weekend's latest episode was watched by 9.66m for ITV in the 9pm hour, and added three hundred and twenty five thousand additional punters on ITV+1. The episode, which centred around the disastrous wedding day of Lady Edith and Sir Anthony, ranks as Downton's third most popular - behind last year's penultimate week and finale. On those two occasions, however, Downton Abbey inherited an audience of twelve million from The X Factor - this time the ITV talent contest drew 9.46m for the judges' pick of the final twelve contestants ahead of the live shows in the 8pm hour. Downton Abbey was the day's most-watched broadcast, overtaking The X Factor for the first time in its history - never previously has Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's show not topped the Sunday ratings.

Here's the Top Thirty programmes for week-ending 23 September 2012:-
1 Downton Abbey - Sun ITV - 11.86m
2 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 10.97m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.43m
4 New Tricks - Mon BBC1 - 8.57m
5 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.50m
6 Doctor Who - Sat BBC1 - 7.67m
7 Emmerdale - Fri ITV - 6.71m
8 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.75m
9 Mrs Brown's Boys - Fri BBC1 - 5.32m
10 The Great British Bake Off - Tues BBC2/BBC HD - 5.25m
11 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.03m
12 Who Do You Think You Are? - Wed BBC1 - 4.97m
13 Watchdog - Wed BBC1 - 4.89m
14 Ten O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 4.88m
15 UEFA Champions League Live - Tue ITV - 4.88m
16 The Bletchley Circle - Thu ITV - 4.65m*
17 Six O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.57m
18 Mrs Biggs - Wed ITV - 4.45m*
19 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.44m
20 The Chase: Celebrity Specials - Sun ITV - 4.42m*
21 Holby City - Tue BBC1 - 4.38m
22 All Star Mr & Mrs - Wed ITV - 4.25m*
23 Waterloo Road - Thurs BBC1 - 4.16m
24 The ONE Show - Tues BBC1 - 4.12m
25 Fake Or Fortune? - Sun BBC1 - 4.10m
26 Paul O'Grady: For The Love Of Dogs - Mon ITV - 3.98m*
27= Andrew Marr's History Of the World - Sun BBC1 - 3.85m
27= Leaving - Mon ITV - 3.85m*
29= Match of the Day - Sat BBC1 - 3.77m
29= Red Or Black? - Sat ITV - 3.77m*
Programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures.

ITV has defended its upcoming documentary about Sir Jimmy Savile OBE. Exposure: The Other Side Of Jimmy Savile will centre on claims by various women dating back to the 1970s, including allegations that yer actual Jimmy was a very naughty man who abused teenage girls as young as fourteen at BBC TV Centre and other places. ITV has stated that the documentary was produced 'with a degree' of sensitivity. 'This documentary is the result of an in-depth investigation into long-standing allegations of serious and widespread sexual misconduct by Sir Jimmy Savile,' an ITV spokesman said. 'Because of the very serious nature of the claims made by several interviewees in relation to this, particular care and consideration was of course given to the decision to produce and broadcast this programme. The programme takes full account of the fact that Sir Jimmy is not here to defend himself against these claims.' Presented by former detective Mark Williams-Thomas, the programme will reportedly include interviews with several women who claim that Savile sexually assaulted them. ITV has said that one of the women said she was 'too scared' to speak about the incident while Savile was still alive. Unbearable old gobshite Esther Rantzen has also stated her belief that Savile had abused young girls, after seeing the documentary. 'We all blocked our ears. There was gossip, there were rumours,' Rantzen told the Scum Mail on Sunday. 'We made him into the Jimmy Savile who was untouchable, who nobody could criticise. It's very distressing. He was a sort of God-like figure. Everybody knew of the good that Jimmy did and what he did for children. And these children were powerless.' The BBC has already dismissed claims that there was 'a cover-up' of information regarding Savile, saying in a statement that it has 'conducted extensive searches of its files to establish whether there is any record of misconduct or allegations of misconduct by Sir Jimmy Savile during his time at the BBC,' adding that 'no such evidence has been found. Whilst the BBC condemns any behaviour of the type alleged in the strongest terms, in the absence of evidence of any kind found at the BBC that corroborates the allegations that have been made, it is simply not possible for the corporation to take any further action,' the statement continued. The corporation has also explained once again why a Newsnight report about Savile and the accusations made against him did not get broadcast. Newsnight editor Peter Rippon said: 'It is absolutely untrue that the Newsnight investigation was dropped for anything other than editorial reasons. We have been very clear from the start that the piece was not broadcast because the story we were pursuing could not be substantiated. To say otherwise is false and very damaging to the BBC and individuals. To allege that we are withholding evidence from the police is also damaging and false. The notion that internal pressure was applied appears to be a malicious rumour.'

Savile, it turns out, was questioned by the police in 2007 about the allegations of indecent assault. Surrey Police have confirmed that the DJ and presenter, who died last year, was interviewed under caution about alleged offences dating back to the 1970s at a children's home in Staines. The matter was reportedly referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, Sky News reports, who advised against taking further action due to insufficient evidence. Savile's nephew Roger Foster has come out fighting, saying that his family is 'disgusted and disappointed' by the claims. Which is perfectly understandable although, it has to be said, if the allegations turn out to be true and that Savile was indeed a dirty old scallywag and right rotten rotter - which is, as yet, unproven - then that would, of course, be a very different matter. 'It's very, very sad you can say these things after someone's died and the law says you can't defend yourself when you're dead,' he added.

Meanwhile, on a similar theme, it's nice jolly to see that Julie Bindel of the Gruniad Morning Star, a newspaper normally so critical of other newspapers who rush to judgment, has decided to convict Savile in-absentia without bothering with any that messy 'due and fair process, trial and conviction' nonsense. So, there you have it, dear blog reader. Guilty as charged. The Gruniad says so, so it must be true. This blogger has no idea whatsoever whether Jimmy Savile was a naughty old rapscallion who enjoyed fiddling with little girls or not. It's perfectly possible. What I do know is that, in the absence of the man's ability to defend himself against such allegations, that's all they remain, allegations.

Al-Jazeera's editorial independence has been called into question after its director of news stepped in to ensure a speech made by Qatar's emir to the UN led its English channel's coverage of the debate on Syrian intervention. Journalists had produced a package on the UN debate, topped with excerpts of President Obama's speech, last Tuesday when a last-minute instruction came from Salem Negm, the Qatar-based news director, who ordered the video to be re-edited to lead with the comments from Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. Despite protests from staff that the emir's comments – a repetition of previous calls for Arab intervention in Syria – were not the most important aspect of the UN debate, the two-minute video was re-edited and Obama's speech was relegated to the end of the package. There are hints at staff dissatisfaction within the film, available for viewing on al-Jazeera's website and YouTube, which notes that the emir 'represents one of the smallest countries in the Arab world. But Qatar has been one of the loudest voices condemning Syria.' The episode reportedly left a bitter taste among staff amid complaints that this was the most heavy-handed editorial intervention at the global broadcaster, which has long described itself as 'operating independent of its Qatari ownership.' An al-Jazeera spokesman said the emir's speech was 'a significant development' that day and the broadcaster 'consequently gave it prominence.' Obama's speech had been carried live, the spokesman added, and the emir's comments were 'balanced with disagreement' from the Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi. However, alleged 'insiders' allegedly said that Morsi's contribution had to be taken from an interview with another broadcaster, because none of the world leaders speaking at the UN had, or was, intending to take notice of the emir's comments. Al-Jazeera English was set up in 2006 by the Arabic broadcaster of the same name and both are owned by the Qatari state. The network, founded in 1996, gained credibility with audiences in the region for its broadly independent coverage in the post 9/11 period. Its English channel was launched to offer an alternative, non-western-centric worldview. However, in recent years, Qatar has taken steps to consolidate its control over the channel as the country seeks greater political influence in the Gulf. In September 2011, Wadah Khanfar, a Palestinian widely seen as independent, suddenly left as director-general after eight years in the post and was replaced by a member of the royal family, Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim al-Thani, a man with no background in journalism. In his resignation letter, Khanfar said, after noting that the channel had been criticised by Donald Rumsfeld and hailed by Hillary Clinton, that 'al-Jazeera is still independent and its integral coverage has not changed.' He added: 'When we launched in 1996, media independence was a contradiction in terms,' but al-Jazeera had managed 'to pleasantly surprise' its critics by 'exceeding all expectations.'

Europe's golf team produced a stunning final-day comeback to retain the Ryder Cup at a shell-shocked Medinah. The United States required only four points from the twelve on offer on the final day of singles matches, but they couldn't manage it and the Europeans secured eight and a half to clinch a historic 14½-13½ win. Martin Kaymer sank a five-foot putt on the eighteenth green to get his team to the fourteen points needed to retain the trophy. Then a Tiger Woods bogey on the final green of the final match gifted Jose Maria Olazabal's side overall victory. The win matches the record recovery of Ben Crenshaw's US team in Boston in 1999 and is the best from a European side in Ryder Cup history. And, if nothing else, it was really funny to see all those gormless berks who'd been witlessly bellowing 'YOU-ESS-AYYY' for the last three days, shut right up and with faces like a smacked arse at the end. That was hilarious. Presumably now American military forces will invade Europe and carry out some punishment beatings. That's usually what happens whenever anyone does something which the Americans don't like. It was a fitting tribute to the late Seve Ballesteros, the man who did so much to reinvigorate the competition and whose trademark colours the side wore on the final day in Chicago. 'Seve will always be present with this team,' said fellow Spaniard and victorious European captain Olazabal. 'He was a big factor for this event, for the European side. Last night, when we were having a meeting, I think the boys understood that believing was the most important thing. And I think they did.' On an afternoon of scarcely believable high drama, Europe first clawed back their overnight deficit of four points and then matched their opponents point for nerve-shredding point throughout the rest of the ties. Blows were traded down the stretch, one side grabbing the initiative before the other snatched it back, until it came down to the last two matches on the final two holes. Both were all-square, with overall score locked at thirteen-thirteen. When Steve Stricker three-putted on the seventeenth and Kaymer had a one-hole lead. The German then made a brilliant approach from a bunker on eighteen, rolling home the pivotal putt as Stricker crumbled under the pressure like so much wet cardboard. It was left to Italian Francesco Molinari to seal overall victory, when he halved his match with the hugely disappointing Woods who ended the tournament without a win in any of his four matches. For the first time in three days, Europe had come charging out of the traps, Luke Donald going into an early two-hole lead over Bubba Watson and muting both his opponent and the crowd - who'd been strutting around for the previous two days with a massive chimney-on for the previous two days - in the process. With Justin Rose also two up on Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy holding off the previously unbeatable Keegan Bradley and the unheralded Paul Lawrie taking early control against Brandt Snedeker, there was an entirely different atmosphere around the course than there had been on the first two one-sided days. Donald had been asked to do what Colin Montgomerie had done in 2004 and win the first point of the day in style. And he did so on the seventeenth despite a late charge from Watson. McIlroy's day had begun in extraordinary fashion, confusion over his tee time meaning he was still at the team hotel with just twenty five minutes to go. Thanks to a police escort, he eventually reached the course ten minutes before he was due to tee-off. His battle with Bradley was a see-saw classic, but he got his nose in front on the fourteenth and went two up on the fifteenth before closing out with a long putt on seventeen. Ian Poulter has been brilliant all week and made it four wins out of four in typically indomitable fashion against Webb Simpson. Poulter had gone two holes down early and only went in front for the first time on par-three seventeenth when Simpson finally cracked under the enormous pressure and his arse fell out as he stuffed his tee-shot into the bunker left. Simpson then pulled his iron approach to the eighteenth while Poulter fired his from out in the oak trees to within fifteen feet. When the American's desperate long putt sailed way past, Europe had their third point in three. A week after winning eleven million dollars at the Fed-Ex Cup, Snedeker was clobbered five and three by Lawrie, but Rose's triumph over the previously unbeaten Mickelson was even more remarkable. One down on sixteen, he nailed a nerveless putt to half the hole and then produced a wonderful thirty-footer on the sliding seventeenth to go all square. Mickelson, magnanimous, grinned his approval, but then slashed his approach to eighteenth over the back and watched aghast as Rose clipped his to fifteen feet and then curved in a stunning birdie to win the match. The points kept coming for Europe. Jim Furyk collapsed from the same position against Sergio Garcia by pushing two six-foot putts right. Then, after Zach Johnson held off a tired Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood found his form to beat Matt Kuchar three and two and put Europe thirteen-twelve up. It was peerless sporting theatre, the sun-drenched autumnal course awash with excitement. When Jason Dufner held his nerve to see out Peter Hanson on the eighteenth, the score was level again with just two matches, both all-square, left on the course. None of the four players still in action - Kaymer, Stricker, Molinari and Woods - had won a single point between them all week. Stricker broke first, making a dreadful mess of his putts on seventeen and then booming his approach to eighteen long, while Kaymer conjured up a beauty from the fairway bunker. With Woods going one up on Molinari on seventeen, Kaymer had two putts for the Cup. And he somehow held his nerve as the shadows lengthened to seal an extraordinary triumph. With the packed home galleries now silent with disbelief and shame, a dazed Woods then blew two putts from within eight feet to hand Molinari a half point and with it overall victory to the Europeans. 'The boys understood that believing was the most important thing and they did,' said Olazabal. 'To the twelve men of Europe, what you did out there was outstanding. All men die but not all men live and you made me feel alive again this week.' A choked US captain David Love admitted defeat was 'hard to take' and compared it to the loss Europe suffered in 1999. 'We know what it feels like now,' he said. 'It's a little bit shocking. We were playing so well.'

Meanwhile ESPN sports writer Gene Wojciechowski has been roundly - and justifiably - mocked by golf fans after his Ryder Cup column on the morning of the third day predicted an easy win for the USA. Wojciechowski suggested that for Europe to win, American golfer Keegan Bradley would have to be abducted and George W Bush, Amy Mickelson and the Rev Jesse Jackson be drafted into the US side. He added that Lee Westwood - who'd had a poor tournament up to that point - would have to become a US citizen and Marty McFly would need to show José María Olazábal how to go back in time. 'Never mind,' wrote this clown. 'It's over. Olazábal can click off the walkie-talkie and take the IFB out of his ear. Time for the Europeans to fire up the private jets and head back home to Florida,' he wrote. 'Team USA has the kind of two-day lead that Cup captains pray for. It is as close to insurmountable as trying to climb Mt Everest wearing a T-shirt, cargo shorts and flip-flops.' Didn't your mother never tell you not to brag before the final result is in, Gene? It's so unbecoming.

Confirmation of the contract extensions for Alan Pardew and his staff at Newcastle United has sent one national newspaper writer off the deep end. In this case, quite literally. Daily Telegraph scribe Henry Winter - in this blogger's opinion one of the best football writers in the business - had previously gone on the record to say that he'd swim the River Tyne if The Magpies owner Mike Ashley made any sort of long-term commitment to the current manager. Here's how he confirmed the news via Twitter: 'Thanks for tips on best spot for Tyne dip for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. I know it's a dangerous tidal river. I'm getting expert advice. It will happen. I honour my bets. I promised to swim the Tyne if Ashley showed long-term loyalty to Pardew. He has, fair play, so time for dip in Tyne.' Henry's swim is planned for this Sunday before he takes his place in the St James' Park press box to cover the game against The Scum - hypothermia permitting. It does tend to get a bit cold in the Tyne in October. Let's all hope the advice Henry's taking isn't from a member of the British Olympic swimming team however, otherwise, in all likelihood, he'll drown.

Students in the US have been protesting after the size of their school meals was decreased. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which stemmed from First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign, aims to limit protein and bread intake and increase the amount of fruit and vegetables served. Pupils at Parsippany Hills High School are organising a 'lunch strike' - boycotting the cafeteria - because they believe new federal government guidelines have resulted in inadequate lunches. 'This year you're eating lunch and you're like, "Did I even eat?" You're not even full,' senior Brandon Faris told CBS. 'If somebody's obese, why should someone like me who's not obese have to suffer, and eat a small meal when I'd rather have a bigger meal?' You tell 'em, Brandon. Mark Vidovich, who runs Pomptonian Food Service, explained that sandwiches now have 'thirty three per cent less turkey, and the size of the bread has been reduced by a third.'

Firefighters were called out to rescue a man whose head had become stuck in a public litter bin in Aberdeen. It is not yet known how the man got into the predicament, which happened on the city's Justice Street. Emergency services were alerted to the man stuck with his head in the opening of the four foot-high bin early on Sunday evening. A spokesman for Grampian Fire and Rescue Service said the man was not injured. He was taken to hospital for a check-up. Asked what the view was like from where he was standing, the chap said it had been 'rubbish.' No, listen ...
So, anyway, for that bloke here's yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. 'What do you think of it so far?'

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