Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Streets Like A Jungle, So Call The Police

Channel Four's new panel show Comedy World Cup has turned out to be a lot less popular than first thought, thanks to an error by audience-measuring company BARB. Original overnight figures for the episode on Saturday 22 September stated that the second episode of the show, hosted by David Tennant, had been watched by an impressive 1.9m viewers. Which, he must admit, yer actual Keith Telly Topping did think was a wee bit queer at the time, but like most ratings watchers, he took the figures at face value with a sort of resigned 'huh?!' and left it at that. However researchers at the British Audience Research Bureau have now issued a - rather grovelling - apology, saying that they got the numbers wrong. They have re-evaluated the show as having an audience of six hundred and thirty one thousand viewers – just under a third of the audience initially reported. The 1.9m figure did seem an unusually high leap, it has to be said, as the opening episode seven days earlier was seen by eight hundred and eighty thousand punters in its Saturday-night slot. And, to be honest, it was a bit piss-poor. No, in fact, it was a lot piss-poor, so quite why a million extra viewers would suddenly decide to jump on board at that stage was a question a lot of us should probably have been asking earlier. But, we didn't, because we trusted BARB not to let us down. And they have done. They've not only let us down, they've let themselves down too. They've also let former national heartthrob David Tennant down, too, which is probably the most unforgivable thing of all. Shame on you, BARB, shame on you for letting former national heartthrob David Tennant down in such a way. According to trade magazine Broadcast, BARB has blamed an 'error in audio referencing procedures' for the mistake. The 'audio referencing procedures' responsible have been taken out and given a jolly good talking to. Homes which are monitored for ratings purposes contain a device that identifies the channel being viewed by matching the audio against a database. Although Comedy World Cup's audience was overestimated because of the mistake, other shows were underestimated. The X Factor for that night has had its audience revised upwards from just under nine million to 9.84m.
The BBC is piloting a new sitcom from comedian Charlie Baker, as a man who sets up a business from home. Baker wrote the series The Home Office, and will star in it alongside - alleged - comedy legend Russ Abbot and former EastEnders actress Martine McCutcheon. Baker has changed his own name only slightly for the lead character, Charlie Baxter, a man who is made redundant and decides to launch his Internet business from home. However, distractions keep him from getting work done, including an interfering father-in-law and an oversexed neighbour. The show will be recorded in front of a live studio audience and be directed by David Sant of the theatre company Peepolykus. Sant is probably best known as Cartoon Head in the criminally under-rated Johnny Vegas sitcom Ideal. Baker himself is best known for winning Let's Dance For Comic Relief last year, with a tap-dancing double-act with Emmerdale actor James Thornton. He has since been a team captain on the Channel Four panel show A Short History Of Everything Else. The Home Office is a rare venture into sitcom for the makers, Princess Productions, whose credits include Channel Four's Sunday Brunch, The Wright Stuff on Channel Five and Got To Dance for Sky 1. The pilot episode is being recorded at MediaCity in Salford on 18 October.

Bitter old Red Jimmy McGovern is to examine the controversial legal doctrine of joint enterprise in a ninety-minute drama for BBC1. The award-winning writer of Hillsborough will examine the 'common purpose rule' – which can result in a group of people being convicted of a crime, regardless of which member actually committed it – in the feature-length Common. The law, increasingly invoked in instances of gang-related attacks and murders, is the subject of debate as campaigners question its potential for injustice. Fears have been raised over whether joint enterprise leads to some young people being unnecessarily dragged into the legal system, and others being imprisoned for crimes they witnessed but neither committed nor actually took part in. Others argue that the law is an effective tool against gang culture – and ensures that perpetrators are not left unpunished in instances where the crime was reasonably foreseeable and none of the gang tried to stop it. 'Joint enterprise was first used in Britain's courts a few hundred years ago. It was designed to stop the aristocracy duelling,' said McGovern. 'If one duellist killed another, then all involved in that duel – the seconds and the surgeons – were charged with murder. It worked: Britain's aristocrats stopped duelling. Now the law is being used against Britain's youth. If someone dies in a fight and you're involved in any way whatsoever, you can find yourself charged with murder.' The writer, who said the burden of proof required in joint enterprises cases was 'frighteningly low,' focuses his drama on Johnjo, a seventeen-year-old who drives away in panic from a fatal stabbing at a pizza restaurant, with three other young men in his car. Common follows the attempts of the police and the victim's parents to uncover the truth about the stabbing – and Johnjo's to navigate the legal system. 'Common is an ambitious and controversial film,' said Ben Stephenson, the BBC's controller of drama commissioning. 'Much in the same way as Hillsborough and Sunday, Jimmy McGovern wanted to write this film after talking to the families of those directly affected by the joint enterprise law. We believe that it is right for the BBC to give writers such as Jimmy an opportunity to tell a story like this, and to allow the audience to make up their own minds about it.' McGovern, perhaps best known for his drama serial Cracker starring Robbie Coltrane, has recently made two series of the misery-fest Accused, for BBC1 starring Sean Bean, Anna Maxwell Martin and Stephen Graham, among others. Common will broadcast in 2013, with long-term McGovern collaborator David Blair directing, and casting yet to be announced. Earlier this year, following a report from the Commons justice committee, the director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer promised new guidelines on joint enterprise.

Complaints about two billboard adverts used for the Channel Four show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding have been upheld by the advertising watchdog. The posters featured images of a young boy looking aggressively at the camera and teenage girls wearing low-cut tops. The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that they were likely to cause 'serious offence' to some members of the Gypsy and Traveller communities. Unlike the programme itself which was likely to cause serious offence to anyone with a brain. Channel Four has apologised and said it had not intended to cause offence. The ASA decision was a partial reversal of a previous ruling on the adverts. It received more than three hundred and seventy complains about the posters which publicised the show's second series, and bore the slogan 'Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier.' In February it decided that although the posters might not be to everyone's taste, they were 'unlikely' to cause serious or widespread offence, as they reflected the content of the programme. But it began a second investigation following a request by the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain, which complained that the adverts racially demeaned them and exposed their children to bullying and abuse. This time the ASA said one of the posters featured a young boy with his lips pursed in a manner that 'was likely to be seen as aggressive.' It argued that, shown with the word 'gypsier,' the image might suggest that aggressive behaviour was typical of the younger members of the gypsy and traveller community. The statement concluded: 'We considered that implication was likely to cause serious offence to some members of those communities, while endorsing the prejudicial view that young gypsies and travellers were aggressive.' On the advert featuring the girls in low-cut tops, the ASA said Channel Four 'acted'irresponsibly" because the girl on the right of the poster was fifteen when the picture was taken. It also highlighted the fact that the girls were heavily made-up. Yvonne MacNamara, chief executive of the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain, said she applauded the ASA ruling. She said: 'As a result of this decision, Channel Four's Big Fat Gypsy brand has been held up to be morally bankrupt. The ITMB and the Gypsy and Traveller co-complainants call upon those responsible for these adverts to issue a full apology for the harm they have caused to children with their offensive campaign. We call on Channel Four to repair the incredible harm they have done to the UK's most vulnerable minorities.' Channel Four apologised to members of the Gypsy and Traveller community who had been offended. A spokesman said: 'It was not Channel Four's intention for these adverts to cause offence but we are sorry this was the case.' The broadcaster said its publicity campaign had used real and intimate photographic portraits of gypsy and traveller life 'in a style to reflect the journalistic intent of the series.' It also emphasised that informed consent had been obtained from all the subjects or their relevant parent or guardian - and final copies of the adverts had been sent to the families involved, with no objections.

An Internet player, which will give unprecedented access to Britain's film heritage online, whether that's the innovations of the early pioneer RW Paul or the Mass Observation documentaries of Humphrey Jennings, was announced on Tuesday as part of a five-year plan for British film. The British Film Institute, which has taken on a lead role for all aspects of film since the abolition of the UK Film Council outlined how it plans to spend over five hundred million smackers over the next five years. The organisation's chairman Greg Dyke said that included spending fifty million quid a year of lottery money, which was 'not as much as you might think.' Well, I think it is, Greg, actually but, never mind. He promised a less London-centric approach and said the BFI's three priorities would be: education and audiences, film and film-making, and film heritage. On that last priority Dyke said: 'It's all very well having the greatest film library in the world but if you can't actually get to see it, it's of limited value. I keep on making jokes that I don't believe it's there, but they tell me it is.' In fact, more than four hundred and fifty thousand cans of the nation's film are stored at a secret location in Warwickshire and the BFI said it was committed to digitising ten thousand films by 2017, with experts and a public vote helping to decide which films should be included. The BFIPlayer, scheduled for the end of next year, would allow viewers to watch films on-demand. The BFI's creative director, Heather Stewart, said the strategy was rooted in 'looking at films that have changed our understanding of our film culture.' That might include animations, advertising films and documentaries such as those made after 1937 by the Mass Observation project. Using new technologies will be a key element of the BFI's strategy, its chief executive Amanda Nevill said, and five different apps are being developed to help show content. 'Eventually this will lead to a BFIPlayer,' planned for the end of 2013, added Nevill. The BFI has also taken over responsibility for providing money for film production – The King's Speech, for example, benefited from a million notes of lottery wonga. In the five-year plan the money given out for production and development will rise annually to twenty four million smackers by 2017 with 'new opportunities for film-makers working in documentary and animation.' There is always lively debate about where money should be given, with David Cameron reported as saying it should be films that have wide commercial appeal. The BFI's film fund head, Ben Roberts, said 'tough decisions' had to be made. About twenty films a year will be funded, but another three hundred will be turned down. But he said: 'I don't believe commercial appeal and critical appeal can't co-exist. We can't underestimate how much audiences respond to strong, original film-making. The criteria for everybody is that we support film-makers with strong, original, inventive ideas,' said Roberts. 'It is up to us to have instincts about what we think is going to strike a chord with its audience.' He promised that the 'doors are open to all kinds of film-makers' and that the process would be 'very open and transparent.' The wide-ranging report, called Film Forever, follows an eighteen-month consultation process and was welcomed by lack of culture minister the vile and odious rascal Vaizey who faced considerable flak when he abolished the UK Film Council and gave additional responsibilities to the BFI. 'It has proved to be the right thing to do and has gone very smoothly,' he said. 'This government understands that film is just as valuable in terms of inward investment as other more traditional industries and this five-year plan is very clear and exactly what I wanted to see.'

It may not be a 'ghetto' as you would normally know it, but BBC daytime TV has been accused of turning into just that by viewers who complain about the number of antiques and auction shows. The Daily Scum Mail reports that one unnamed - and, therefore, probably fictitious - producer has described BBC daytime TV as a 'ghetto' of 'cheap and uninventive television.' Yes, that's probably true and, thanks to Delivering Quality First that's a situation that isn't going to be improved any time soon. Sounds like a case of not enough Cash in the Attic, as it were.

The original referee for Tuesday's Championship match between Barnsley and Peterborough was stood down after he was arrested on suspicion of computer hacking. Dean Mohareb, a senior member of the Football Association's referee department, was arrested on Sunday at his home by Greater Manchester Police. He is alleged to have hacked an FA colleague's e-mail accounts and passed the information to the media. Both sides were only informed of the change by the Professional Game Match Officials - the body which regulates, selects and trains referees for the FA, Football League and Premier League - at 15:00 on Tuesday despite the arrest occurring nearly forty eight hours previously. A police spokesman confirmed: 'On Sunday 30 September police seized a number of electrical items as part of an investigation into computer hacking and the dissemination of private information. A twenty nine-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of unauthorised access to computer material/data, under section one of the misuse of computers act 1990. The man has since been bailed until 26 November.' The arrest is connected to a CID investigation into the hacking of personal and work e-mails belonging to Janie Frampton, the FA's former National Referee Manager for Education and Training. Frampton - an FA employee for ten years - was suspended and then dismissed from her post following revelations when confidential information was leaked to the press. She strongly denies the allegations and is appealing the decision to sack her. Mohareb is currently the FA's national referee development manager and a Football League referee. In the match, bottom-side Peterborough saw off Barnsley 2-0 to pick up their second Championship win in four days. George Boyd put The Posh ahead after seventy five seconds, pouncing when Shaun Brisley's header came back off the post. Tyrone Barnett made it 2-0 when he met Tommy Rowe's cross from the left with a powerful header.

A cardboard cut-out of a policeman has been stolen from a Sainsbury's store. The six foot-tall figure was used as a deterrent against potential shoplifters in the supermarket in Shafton, Barnsley. The cut-out was stolen last week, with photos of 'PC Bobb' since appearing on several social networking sites, including at different house parties in the area. A Sainsbury's spokesman said: 'It is bizarre that someone would want to steal our cardboard copper PC Bobb. We'd got used to having him being around and hope he is returned in one piece.' The life-size props were used in windows of different Barnsley shops to help prevent crime. PC Bobb had been used as an attempt to make local police more 'approachable.' Greater Manchester Police have previously claimed that the presence of a cardboard policeman at an ASDA in Leigh had led to a seventy five per cent drop in shoplifting. In 2010, Essex Police axed a two thousand pound project to launch twenty cardboard police officers after they were also stolen by thieves. An Essex Police spokesman said: 'The trial of the cardboard police officers shows they had very little effect on crime or antisocial behaviour and we will not be continuing with their use.'

Two men have been banned from an all-you-can-eat buffet for eating too much food. Which, frankly, seems to be something the Trades Descriptions Act was pretty much created for. According to the Daily Scum Mail, George Dalmon and Andy Miles were asked to leave Gobi Mongolian Barbecue Restaurant in Brighton over the amount of food they had eaten. The pair reportedly paid around twelve quid each for their meals, but were asked to leave after they had eaten five bowls of stir fry. Dalmon said that the restaurant's small bowl size meant he and Miles were forced to make return trips to the buffet on each visit, but they were eventually shown the door by managers. 'We have been eating there regularly for a couple of years but suddenly the owner came to our table and started going mental in front of the other customers,' he said. 'He said we were eating him out of business and called us a couple of pigs. I asked if he was joking and he told us we were banned for life.' The manager, who asked not to be named, told the newspaper: 'Basically these two guys just come in and pig out. I have put up with them for two years but have had enough. They spoil it for everyone else and are in such a hurry to get to the food so none of the other diners can get a look in. We are not a charity. We are a business. It is our restaurant and we can tell people not to come back if we want to.' And, indeed, customers can tell you whether they intend to come back and spend their money at your gaff or not, mate. I'd've said on a scale of one to ten in terms in positive PR, with ten being really very positive and one being not very positive at all, you've just scored a one.

And so, dear blog reader, to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Given the previous story, I thought it might be wise to have something on the Food label if you're feeling a bit peckish.

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