Saturday, October 20, 2012

It's A Matter Of Instinct, It's A Matter Of Conditioning, It's A Matter Of Fact

It might seem enshrined in - at least recent - tradition, but the Doctor Who Christmas Special is seldom actually confirmed to be broadcast on Christmas Day itself until, usually, just a few weeks before the day. This year, however, the BBC have - somewhat surprisingly - announced ten weeks in advance that Doctor Who will, indeed, feature in the line-up for Christmas Day evening, which it hopes will help settle the audience in front of BBC1 with their turkey sandwiches - and potential salmonella poisoning - for the duration. The time of the episode has yet to be announced, but the show will slot into the usual late afternoon/early evening line-up, which this year includes the Pixar Oscar-winning film Up as well as the usual episode of Walford mayhem in EastEnders. The prime-time 9:00pm slot this year falls to the popular Call the Midwife, which is expected to go head-to-head with the ratings winner of last Christmas, ITV's Downton Abbey. The main evening viewing on BBC1 is rounded off with The Royle Family at 10:00pm. The as-yet-untitled hour-long Doctor Who episode, set in Victorian London, will be Matt Smith's third Christmas outing, and sees the début of Jenna-Louise Coleman as the new regular co-star. The episode also guest stars Richard E Grant. In addition,it will see the return of several of the Doctor's compatriots from last year's A Good Man Goes To War, with Neve McIntosh, Catrin Stewart and Dan Starkey reprising their roles of Vastra, Jenny and Strax respectively. The episode is written by The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat and directed by Saul Metzstein.

Doctor Who's return for a new series helped power BBC iPlayer to yet more record figures last month, while Chris Moyles's final Radio 1 Breakfast Show also proved popular. A record one hundred and ninety nine million requests were submitted to BBC iPlayer in September, with average daily requests reaching the highest ever level, at six million a day. Television again provided the vast majority of requests, but radio grew by eight per cent over September to deliver its highest ever monthly requests, at fifty million hits. This came ahead of the launch of BBC iPlayer Radio, the new home for all BBC radio content online. The first episode of Doctor Who seventh series - Asylum of the Daleks - delivered the highest number of TV requests for a single programme, at 2.2m. Doctor Who also dominated the top four spots, including episode two - Dinosaurs on a Spaceship - racking up 1.77m requests, episode four - The Power of Three - taking 1.35m and episode three - A Town Called Mercy - pulling 1.34m. New comedy Citizen Khan completed the top five, with episode two of the show attracting an impressive one million requests. The latest BBC iPlayer data also shows that mobile and tablet accounted for over a fifth of iPlayer requests in September. This was only just behind TV platform operators such as Virgin Media (twenty two per cent), but ahead of games consoles (sixteen per cent).

Congratulations, for the second week running, to Have I Got News For You for locating the nation's moral compass. Albeit, on this occasion, it was something of a case of stating the bleeding obvious.
The Choir warbled its way to a new series high on BBC2 on Thursday night, the latest overnight ratings data indicates. The Gareth Malone talent search averaged 2.84m in the 9pm hour, extending its lead over ITV's drama flop Homefront which sunk to 2.34m. BBC2's new sitcom Hebburn, which has received rave reviews from critics, launched with a more than decent 1.81m in the 10pm slot after The Choir. The comedy had competition courtesy of Channel Four's documentary My Tattoo Addiction, which also gained a quietly impressive 1.68m. Despite winning the 9pm hour, Hunted drew an unspectacular 3.44m for BBC1, while 1.55m watched Embarrassing Bodies on Channel Four. Overall, BBC1 led the way in primetime with 19.8 per cent, ahead of ITV's 17.1 per cent of the audience share.

It has unearthed historical relics ranging from the remains of one of the first Spitfire to be shot down during the Battle of Britain to skeletons of Anglo-Saxon monks beneath Westminster Abbey, but after almost twenty years on air Tony Robinson's archaeology series, Time Team, is being buried by Channel Four. Time Team has been one of the cornerstones of Channel Four's factual programming but it is being consigned to television history to 'make way for new shows.' Robinson said: 'Not many performers are given the privilege of featuring in two iconic TV series – but I've been lucky. Time Team was not only high-quality public service television, it also attracted a large and passionate audience both in the UK and overseas. I'm proud to have been associated with it.' Time Team, which began in 1994, became a hit with viewers, with special editions such as The Big Dig in 2003 which dug up one thousand sites around the UK live in a week. The show has been exported to more than thirty countries. About four years ago, Time Team was attracting 2.5 million viewers, but recently appears to have lost its way. A revamp designed to boost ratings was criticised by one of the show's regular experts, Mick Aston, who left in a stroppy huff, claiming it had been 'dumbed down' and there was 'a lot less archaeological content and a lot more pratting about.' The changes which so go on his wick seemingly included the hiring of former model and Cambridge University archaeology postgraduate Mary-Ann Ochota as co-presenter. But she later left the show after one series of not-exactly feeling the love, saying the 'series didn't work out quite how I wanted it to.' A special called Brunel's Last Launch, which was broadcast last November, was watched by one and a half million punters. Channel Four said it wanted to focus on new and innovative history programming. 'Channel Four history is all about bringing the past to life in eye-opening, entertaining and innovative ways, from the best archaeological scoops, to big factual dramas,' said Julia Harrington, the channels' commissioning editor for history. New programmes include a documentary about the hunt for the remains of Richard III – called The King in the Carpark: Richard III – and a new series, The People of Stonehenge. The final series of Time Team will be broadcast next year with a programme looking back at highlights from two hundred and fifty episodes. There will also be four further specials which will play into 2014. Channel Four head of factual Ralph Lee said: 'I am incredibly proud that, as well as providing hundreds of hours of education and entertainment on Channel Four, Time Team has invested, over and above production costs, more than four million pounds in archaeology in Britain over the past eighteen years.' Lee said Channel Four was discussing 'other ideas around archaeology' with Time Team's creator Tim Taylor.

A Lebanese minister - who, like many politicians in this country it would seem, hasn't got anything more important to do with his time than play armchair TV critic - has threatened to sue the makers of hit US TV series Homeland for misrepresenting Beirut in a recent episode of the show. Crikey, I'll bet they're crapping themselves. Back To Beirut, the second episode in the new series of Homeland showed a terrorist meeting on Hamra Street - an apparent Hezbollah stronghold. The episode was actually shot in Israel. Lebanese Tourism Minister Faddy Abboud whinged filming 'did not depict reality.' It's not supposed to mate, it's a 'drama.' You know, 'made up stuff'? Jesus, why is everybody in the world so utterly frigging stupid these days? is it something in the water? 'It was not filmed in Beirut and does not portray the real image of Beirut. It showed Hamra Street with militia roaming in it,' he told the Associated Press, adding that the real Hamra Street was actually a popular neighbourhood of shops and cafes. When told that Matt Smith isn't really an eleven hundred year old alien with two hearts, he also threatened to sue the BBC. Probably. Abboud believes that the depiction of the city could 'have a negative impact on tourism.' Which would be genuinely funny if it wasn't for the fact that Beirut has been a war zone for the last thirty years. 'This kind of film damages the image of Lebanon - it is not fair to us and it is not true,' he told Beirut's Executive magazine. 'We want to take action, we want to write to the filmmakers and producers and demand an apology. And we are planning to raise a lawsuit against the director and the producer.' Twentieth Century FOX, which produces the Emmy-winning US series, has declined to comment although their laughter could be heard clear across the parking lot. Interestingly enough, just a day after Abboud was issuing his stroppy demands for an apology, a massive car bomb in central Beirut killed Lebanon's head of internal intelligence. Which, dare one suggest, might just be a bit more likely a shag-up the Lebanese tourist industry than an episode of the US TV show. Abboud was also 'offended' that filming for the episode, which is based on an Israeli series called Hatufim (Prisoners of War), took place in Israel rather than Beirut itself - especially given the history between the two territories. But filming in Beirut would have been difficult since Homeland's co-creator, Gideon Raff, is Israeli and Israel's citizens are barred from visiting the city. Lebanon's leading LBC TV carried a report on the controversy on Thursday, saying the show 'disparaged Arabs' and that its setting in Israel was 'a double insult.' Homeland, now in its second series, has proved a ratings success in the US, and has been broadcast in more than twenty other countries. It follows the burgeoning political career of former prisoner of war Nick Brody, and the CIA operative who believes - rightly - that he was turned by the enemy whilst a captive. Both of the leading actors - Damian Lewis and Claire Danes - recently picked up Emmys for their work on the show.

Miranda will, reportedly, be made into a movie next year. The BBC comedy starring Miranda Hart is said to be ending after its upcoming third series at Christmas, reports the Sun. Alleged 'insiders' allegedly claim that a cliffhanger ending at Christmas will 'leave the show open' to continue on the big screen. An alleged 'source' allegedly said: 'Miranda has been a really popular show and production companies have been floating ideas about making a film for a while. The third series sets a movie up perfectly, which is something she has always wanted to do. She would keep all the stars of the sitcom on board, and get some of her famous friends in for cameo roles too.' The alleged 'insider' allegedly added: 'The idea of casting a film has really got her excited - there's a long list of men she quite fancies finding love with. And there is a lot of money in it. The DVDs of the TV series have done brilliantly, so it's a good bet for backers.' Hart has also revealed that she plans to embark on a stand-up tour in 2014. She told BBC 5Live's Richard Bacon: 'I might be doing a stand-up tour. I've never done a full stand-up show before.' Hart's released her autobiography Is It Just Me? last week.

Meanwhile Miranda's old school chum, yer actual Clare Balding, who recently announced plans to front Channel Four's horse racing coverage from next year, is to host a new Saturday night show on BBC1. The forty one-year-old will present Britain's Brightest, a entertainment show which uses puzzles and challenges to find 'the most brilliant brain' from twenty four hopefuls. 'I am fascinated by the brain - how it works and how it can be improved. The quest to find Britain's Brightest will inspire all of us,' said Balding her very self, the face of the BBC's Olympic coverage. 'I have always said that "facts are my friend," but knowing things doesn't make you clever,' she added. 'I am so excited to be given the opportunity to explore and test intelligence in a format that will be fun, informative and entertaining.' Last week it was announced that Balding will replace Aled Jones as host of BBC Radio 2's Sunday morning show in January. She was also a guest host on Have I Got News For You earlier this month and did a pretty decent job on a virtually laughless episode which centred on the Jimmy Savile scandal. Probably made herself a few enemies at the Daily Scum Mail, too, with her clearly passionate criticism on their website's 'sidebar of shame.' Then again, if the Daily Scum Mail doesn't like you, you must be doing something right. At the time of her appointment to Channel Four in August, Clare said that she was 'delighted' she could combine her new work 'with expanded and varied programming at the BBC.' The BBC lost the rights to horse racing - Balding's specialist sport - earlier this year. The presenter, who fronted Channel Four's Paralympic coverage last month, launched her biography My Animals and Other Family in September.

Rev has become the latest UK series to be getting a, potential, US remake. ABC is developing an American version of the BAFTA-winning BBC2 series, which stars Tom Hollander as Adam Smallbone. Desperate Housewives showrunner Bob Daily will script the adaptation, according to Deadline. While the original Rev charted Smallbone's move from a rural parish in Suffolk to an inner-city London church, the US remake will see its lead move from Wisconsin to a failing parish in Chicago. Daily will executive produce alongside Kenton Allen and Matthew Justice of Big Talk Productions, which produces the original series. Hollander also co-created the original show with James Wood, with the pair serving as consultants on the remake. The BBC ordered a third series of Rev in August, with new episodes set to be broadcast in 2014.

BNP leader Nick Griffin has said people have the 'right to discriminate,' after he put the address of a gay couple who won a landmark court ruling on Twitter. Err ... yes they do, Nick. They also have the right to get prosecuted for said discrimination if it's against the law. That way, everybody's happy. A court ruled that a guest house owner had discriminated against Michael Black and John Morgan when she turned them away citing, ludicrously, her religion as a reason. Like many Christians she seems very keen to quote bits of the bible which support bigotry but ignore Matthew 7:1, 'judge not, lest ye be judged.' Or, indeed, John 8:7, 'let he that is without sin cast the first stone.' Griffin said the two men had 'abused the system to persecute' the Christian owner, after earlier urging his Twitter followers to hold a demonstration outside their home. The couple, from Cambridgeshire, called the tweets 'a damp squib.' Black said police and neighbours were 'keeping an eye' on their property. Griffin is currently being investigated by police over the tweets published on his account. Two of the posts read: 'So Messrs Black & Morgan, at [their address]. A British Justice Team will come up to Huntington and give you a ...' and '... bit of drama by way of reminding you that an English couple's home is their castle. Say No to Heterophobia!' What a thoroughly charming individual he is. Or, as Mad Frankie Boyle once noted on Mock The Week, 'a plucked owl that's been fast-tracked for management at Greggs.'

So, dear blog reader, from that to this. Today's From The North question is which do you prefer, Kia-Ora ('we all arode-a')
or Umbongo ('they drink it in the Congo')
Only you can decide. Let the, ahem, fruitful discussion commence.

Phil Collinson is leaving his post as Coronation Street producer but will be staying at ITV to take up a new role of drama development. He has produced the soap opera since July 2010 and will hand over the reins to current Emmerdale producer Stuart Blackburn in January 2013. He said: 'It's been an honour to produce Coronation Street and I'll be sad to leave. But the drama can only stay at the top of its game if the producer is re-energised every two to three years.'

Topsy and Tim are to become TV characters for the first time, on BBC pre-school channel CBeebies. The show, based on the original 1960s books by Jean and Gareth Adamson, will be the channel's first ever live-action drama. Each episode will follow the five-year-old twins as they experience life, from moving house to washing the car and their first day at school. The sixty-part, eleven-minute series is scheduled to be broadcast in 2014. 'We have been searching for our first-ever live-action drama for CBeebies for some time and we are delighted to bring the wonderful stories of Topsy and Tim to a brand new audience,' CBeebies controller Kay Benbow said. The programme will be made by independent production company Darrall Macqueen - which also makes popular show Baby Jake for the channel - and co-produced by Penguin, which publishes the books. 'Since the books were first published in 1960, Topsy and Tim have been part of the day to day lives of millions of children,' Penguin children's managing director Francesca Dow said. 'We are excited to be refreshing Topsy and Tim, taking it from the printed book to a live-action pre-school drama series.' Author Jean Adamson added: 'I am delighted at the wonderful new opportunities that are opening up for my little characters, Topsy and Tim. They will be stepping out of their books and on to television and I can't wait to see how Darrall Macqueen plans to present them.' Created in 1959, the Topsy and Tim books have sold more than twenty one million copies across some one hundred and thirty titles. A hit with parents, each story followed the twins as they had their 'first experiences' such as going on an aeroplane, learning to swim and going to the doctor and dentist.

Sir Patrick Moore has stated that he has no plans to retire in the near future. The astronomer, who has hosted The Sky At Night on the BBC since its first episode in 1957, revealed he aims to continue doing so when he turns ninety in March 2013. 'I've no plans to stop,' he said at the launch of his new book Cosmic Tourist with Queen's Brian May and scientist and Sky At Night co-presenter Chris Lintott. When asked if he will start just making guest appearances on the show, Moore said: 'No, I'm not planning to do that.' Moore is a former president of the British Astronomical Association and co-founded the Society for Popular Astronomy. He has also written over seventy books on the subject, while also being an accomplished xylophone player and pianist.

Mad Frankie Boyle - see, I don't just throw these things together, you know - was described as 'callous and insensitive' by a lawyer for the Daily Mirra as the comedian's libel trial drew to a close at the high court. Neither of which, to the best of this blogger's knowledge, are illegal or, indeed, central to this case. Boyle is suing Mirra Group Newspapers over an article which described him as 'a racist comedian' and claimed - without, it would seem, any supporting evidence - that he was 'forced to quit' Mock The Week after making a controversial joke. Ronald Thwaites QC, for Mirra Group Newspapers, told the libel jury on Friday that Boyle's claim for damages should be dismissed. Thwaites said: 'He sets himself up as a man of principle. This man doesn't have a sensitive bone in his body.' Which may well be true but that's not really the point of the case. It's perfectly possible to be insensitive and not be racist which is, after all, what the Mirra said Boyle was. Thwaites claimed that Boyle had made money by telling 'callous jokes' about 'people who were suffering.' Which, again, may well be true but, again, doesn't mean he's a racist, which is what the Mirra said he was. Thwaites then added that if jurors thought Boyle had been libelled they should show their 'contempt' for him by awarding just forty five pence – the cover price of the Daily Mirra. Which seems to suggest that Thwaites already realises the Mirra's case is lost and is involved in damage limitations. Time will tell, one imagines. It usually does. Lawyers for both Boyle and Mirra Group Newspapers concluded their arguments on Friday. Mr Justice Eady will sum up the case and send the jury out for deliberations on Monday. David Sherborne, for Boyle, told the jury that Mirra Group Newspapers had 'an almost insurmountable hurdle to climb' in defending as 'true' its description of Boyle as 'a racist comedian.' He told jurors that it would be 'political correctness gone mad' if comedians were labelled 'racist' when they used racial language in satirical routines or to demonstrate a particular message. Sherborne told the court: 'If you want to attack the racist in society don't you need to point out what those views are and hold them up for the nonsense that they are? Obvious, you might expect.' He added that Boyle's joke about Afghanistan – where the comedian impersonated a British newsreader and said: 'A bomb went off in Kandahar today, killing two British servicemen, three UN relief workers and a whole bunch of Pakis' – was a useful test case for the jury to consider. Sherborne told the court: 'This wasn't racist. This wasn't Mr Boyle gratuitously using racist language to get across his message. It was the exact opposite.' He suggested that Boyle brought the libel action 'out of principle' and not to win monetary damages. The jury must also decide whether Boyle was defamed by the Daily Mirra's claim that he was 'forced to quit' Mock the Week after a joke about the appearance of Rebecca Adlington. Boyle claimed he suffered loss of reputation by the suggestion that he was effectively sacked by the BBC. Mirra Group Newspapers argued that Boyle wears the claim 'as a badge of honour.' Boyle will be awarded damages if the jury finds in his favour. A verdict is expected early next week.

This week's hour-long episode of The Thick Of It revolves around a wide-ranging public inquiry, run along similar lines to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards. But it seems that Lord Justice Leveson his very self is rather touchy about the subject – as when The Times mentioned the storyline in a brief story this summer, the inquiry wrote to the newspaper's editor demanding to know why the story had been chosen and why its contents were 'appropriate.'

BBC World News and other international broadcasters are being deliberately jammed by forces inside Syrian, according to the corporation's foreign editor. Jon Williams said on Friday that the BBC's international TV network was being blocked in what he described as a 'blatant violation of international TV regulations.' He said on Twitter: 'BBC World News [is] being deliberately jammed from within Syria. Unclear who responsible.' A spokeswoman for the BBC confirmed it had experienced interference since Wednesday. In a statement, the corporation said: 'The BBC, together with a number of other broadcasters, is experiencing deliberate, intermittent interference to its transmissions to audiences in Europe and the Middle East. Impacted services include the BBC World News and BBC Arabic television channels and BBC World Service radio services in English and Arabic. Deliberate interference such as the jamming of transmissions is a blatant violation of international regulations concerning the use of satellites and we strongly condemn any practice designed to disrupt audiences' free access to news and information.' Syria has become an increasingly perilous country for the media since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011. In the past fortnight, a journalist for a pro-government TV station was killed and a Ukrainian journalist working for Russian news outlets was believed to have been kidnapped, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The corporation's international services have frequently faced interference from dictatorial forces overseas, most notably in Iran and China.

And, speaking of right-wing tossers, George Osborne has - very amusingly - been forced to pay for an upgrade after sitting in a first class train carriage with a standard class ticket. No, if one of us 'plebs' had tried that, we'd've been arrested for it. An aide to Osborne initially refused to pay the one hundred and sixty quid supplement and said the chancellor did not want to move into standard class, according to Virgin Trains. Well of course, because standard class is full of plebs. You know, George, those annoying 'little people' who pay your wages and vote you into parliament. ITV reporter Rachel Townsend, who was on the same train as the chancellor, tweeted about the incident. A Treasury 'source' allegedly said Osborne got on a different train from the one planned due to diary change. He had no seat reservation. The 'source' allegedly said that the chancellor was 'happy' to pay for an upgrade, for which an aide paid. Osborne, it was claimed, was 'unaware' of any conversation with the train manager let alone any row. In a series of tweets, Townsend, who works for Granada Reports in the North-West of England - and will, presumably, now be known as 'snitchy' by Tory central office - said: 'Very interesting train journey to Euston. Chancellor George Osborne just got on at Wilmslow with a STANDARD ticket and he has sat in FIRST CLASS. His aide tells ticket collector he cannot possibly move and sit with the likes of us in standard class and requests he is allowed to remain in First Class. Ticket collector refuses. I am a carriage away from the action but have asked ticket inspector if he was going to let him stay. 'No chance.' One hundred and sixty pounds for First Class upgrade. Aide says "no!"' Later, Snitchy added: 'Breaking news: George Osborne pays one hundred and sixty pounds to stay in First Class!' According to ITV News, Osborne had no direct communication with Virgin Trains staff - and an officer from the Metropolitian Police, who was escorting the chancellor, told the train manager in advance that Osborne did not have the correct ticket. Once on the train, the manager told the officer Osborne would have to pay an upgrade fare, a request which Osborne's aide initially refused, according to Virgin Trains. But after being asking for a second time, the aide agreed that the extra one hundred ans sixty notes would be paid. A crowd of journalists and photographers, who have been following the story on Twitter, gathered at Euston in the hope of quizzing the chancellor about the incident but he left without comment. Labour have, of course, been quick to seize on the row, with shadow cabinet officer minister Michael Dugher saying: 'Another day, another demonstration of how out of touch this government is. Just like Andrew Mitchell, George Osborne obviously thinks it's one rule for him and another for the plebs he's so keen to sit apart from. So much for "we're all in it together."' Indeed. Some of us, it would seem, are more 'in it' than others.

No sooner were those words out of Dugher's gob than - very amusingly - Andrew Mitchell quit as government chief whip after criticism for making 'rude remarks' to police officers at the gates of Downing Street. Mitchell apologised for his conduct but continued to deny using the word 'pleb' in exchanges last month and, therefore, effectively called the police officer who said that he did use the words, a liar. Labour, the Police Federation and the Daily Torygraph were among those calling for the minister to go as pressure intensified on him. Mitchell reportedly asked to speak to David Cameron early on Friday at Chequers. The BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson said Mitchell wanted to speak to the PM in person so waited for him to return from Brussels, where he has been attending an EU summit. The prime minister accepted Mitchell's resignation. In his letter, Mitchell says 'it has become clear to me that whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter I will not be able to fulfil my duties as we both would wish. Nor is it fair to continue to put my family and colleagues through this upsetting and damaging publicity.' He repeats his 'categorical assurance' that he did not call police officers 'plebs' - as alleged in the police report on the incident and, therefore, would appear to still be implying that the officer lied. But he adds: 'The offending comment and the reason for my apology to the police was my parting remark "I thought you guys were supposed to fucking help us." It was obviously wrong of me to use such bad language and I am very sorry about it and grateful to the police officer for accepting my apology.' Mitchell's fate is believed to have been sealed on Wednesday, when deputy chief whip John Randall reportedly had to be talked out of quitting in protest at Mitchell's determination to cling on to his post, following a stormy prime minister's question time. In his letter of reply, Cameron said that he 'understood' why Mitchell was resigning, adding: 'I regret this has become necessary.' Robinson said Mitchell's decision to quit was a 'serious setback' for Cameron as he had held on to Mitchell instead of sacking him straight after his clash with the policeman. Mitchell will not be doing interviews but he told the BBC that he will 'seek to deliver a personal resignation statement' in the Commons early next week. That should be good for a laugh.

Tim Davie, the BBC's head of audio and music, is to become the new chief executive of BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm. Davie replaces John Smith, who has stepped down after guiding the division through eight years of record growth to become a billion pound business. Smith helped transform Doctor Who, Top Gear and Strictly Come Dancing into global franchises and recently unveiled record profits of one hundred and fifty five million quid in the last financial year. He told staff on Friday that he is leaving the BBC to 'pursue new opportunities in the commercial sector. It has been a huge privilege to lead this powerful business, owned by the BBC that does so much to supplement the licence fee income and takes the BBC brand to audiences around the world,' said Smith. 'I am extremely proud of what we have achieved over the last eight years but I am excited to be moving on to new opportunities in the commercial world as our revenue and profits reach record highs.' BBC director general George Entwistle has picked Davie to succeed Smith, and he will have a tough act to follow when he starts at Worldwide on 1 December. Smith, who was previously the BBC's chief operating officer, has helped Worldwide to become the planet's largest owner of TV channels and the biggest distributor of TV content outside of the US media giants. The BBC's international channels now attract more than three hundred and sixty million subscribers around the world. is profitable and the subscription-based global BBC iPlayer is available in sixteen countries. 'I want to thank John for his enormous contribution to the success of BBC Worldwide in recent years,' said Entwistle. 'He has turned the company into a truly global phenomenon delivering a fantastic financial injection into the BBC every year. He leaves the company ideally set up for the future challenges it faces in a digital world.' On the appointment of Davie, Entwistle added: 'Tim has done an excellent job leading the BBC Audio & Music division and has a fantastic vision for the opportunities that lie ahead for BBC Worldwide. Building on John's success Tim will now take the BBC's commercial arm into the next chapter of its development. I am delighted he will be joining the team at this crucial time.' Davie described BBC Worldwide as an 'outstanding business that plays a unique role in building the BBC's global reputation.' He added: 'It is an honour to be asked to lead it. John's legacy is a company with a strong performance record, leadership in digital and rising international creative exports. I look forward to leading BBC Worldwide through its next phase of growth, delivering further dividends to the BBC and championing great British content around the world.' Davie has been the BBC's Director of Audio & Music since 2008, and was previously the director of BBC Marketing. Prior to joining the corporation, he was a senior executive at PepsiCo Europe. The BBC has not yet confirmed who will replace Davie as its new music director.

A campaign is being launched to create the world's first memorial to modern artists who were persecuted by the Nazis in World War II. Work by such artists as Paul Klee, Max Ernst and Kurt Schwitters were dubbed Entartete Kunst, or 'degenerate art.' The memorial is planned for an isolated spot in Cumbria, where Schwitters settled after being forced out of Germany and then Norway by the Nazis. The Littoral Arts Trust is hoping to raise thirty thousand smackers for the monument. Most contemporary art was suppressed and existing works confiscated after Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933. An exhibition of confiscated works titled Entartete Kunst, which took place in Munich in July 1937, was advertised as 'culture documents of the decadent work of Bolsheviks and Jews.' The press and public, who visited in huge numbers, subjected works to vicious ridicule. Artists on show included Marc Chagall, who fled occupied France for the US in 1941, Klee, who was forced to Switzerland and Ernst, who moved to New York. Max Beckmann fled to Amsterdam and then the US, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner committed suicide while Schwitters went on to live and die in virtual obscurity in the Lake District. He is now regarded as one of the most influential figures in European modernism and will be the subject of a major exhibition at Tate Britain next January. 'The project is about the triumph of creativity over evil,' said Ian Hunter of arts charity the Littoral Arts Trust. 'The list the Nazis drew up reads like a who's who of modern art. It was the degenerate artists - the Kurt Schwitters, the Paul Klees - who actually fired up the whole modern art enterprise.' The campaign for a memorial will be launched by Professor Ute Meta Bauer, the dean of fine arts at the Royal College of Art in London and former chief curator of the Documenta exhibition in Kassel. Professor Bauer will deliver the Kurt Schwitters Memorial Lecture on Saturday at the site of his 'Merz barn', a stone barn near the village of Elterwater in Cumbria, where Schwitters worked before his death in 1948. The campaign for an Entartete Kunst memorial will form part of a wider plan to build a Schwitters museum next to the Merz barn.

A hamster has been taken into protective custody by police in the US. Only in America, dear blog reader. Nicole Huey was reportedly pulled over by officers in Oregon earlier this week, on suspicion that she was driving under the influence of intoxicants. The Beaverton Police Department state on their Facebook page that, while talking to the twenty seven-year-old driver, the hamster, whose name is unknown, was spotted on her lap. Huey exited the car, placing the pet on the dashboard. She was then arrested for driving under the influence, at which point at attempt was made to also place the hamster in police care. 'It took three officers to capture the furry little passenger,' Officer Mike Rowe stated. 'It appeared that the hamster wanted to stay in the vehicle, and it put up a good fight trying to avoid capture.' The hamster was taken into 'protective custody' after the driver - explaining that she did not have anyone to come collect it - suggested the officers 'should just kill it.' After Rowe was eventually released, the hamster was returned to her.

A naked woman stunned commuters on the Vienna underground earlier this week. The very naughty female passenger was wearing nothing but a pair of leather boots - and a smile, obviously - and travelled several stops before getting off. Vienna U-Bahn staff are now studying CCTV footage to determine the identity of the naked lady. Witnesses claimed that she didn't seem fazed by her lack of clothing, despite the fact that many parts of Austria are experiencing considerable snowfall at the moment and temperatures are, officially, 'a bit nippy.'
One passenger who saw the woman at Kardinal-Nagl-Platz station told the Austrian Times: 'I couldn't believe it when she stepped on the train. When some people grabbed their mobile telephones and started taking pictures she didn't object - in fact she even seemed to be posing for the camera.' Wiener Linien, Vienna's public transit operators, added: 'We know that everyone has a different perception of temperature. We do not believe that it so warm in our subways that you have to undress.' A local newspaper has offered the mystery woman a photoshoot in a bid to discover the story behind the stunt.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, therefore, here's some more Barenaked Ladies.

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