Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Waiting For The Van To Come

A senior counter-terrorism detective has been charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act in relation to information allegedly sent to the Scum of the World about the Scotland Yard probe into phone-hacking. Detective chief inspector April Casburn is accused of offering to the now-closed, disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid information about Operation Varec, the investigation into whether the Metropolitan police inquiry into phone-hacking should be reopened. The Official Secrets Act charge was revealed for the first time on Monday after a Westminster magistrates court judge lifted reporting restrictions following representation from several media groups. The Gruniad Morning Star, BBC and The Times had challenged the order, which was made under Contempt of Court Act. Casburn appeared before district judge Quentin Purdy at Westminster magistrates court to face charges of breaching the Official Secrets Act and of misconduct in public office. She had been charged with misconduct in public office after the Crown Prosecution Service examined a file sent to them by officers working on Scotland Yard's Operation Elveden investigating alleged inappropriate payments by journalists to police and other public servants. Casburn spoke only to confirm her name, date of birth and address at the short hearing in central London. She was released on bail until 2 November, when she will appear at the Old Bailey for a plea and case management hearing. Casburn is the former head of the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit which supports some of the most sensitive police inquiries.
Scotland Yard officers investigating alleged computer hacking have made two further arrests, understood to be former Scum of the World journalist Alex Marunchak and private investigator Jonathan Rees according to the odious Gruniad Morning Star. The two men were arrested shortly before 7am on Tuesday morning at their homes by police officers working on Operation Kalmyk. Whether they were dragged kicking and screaming from their beds by the peelers and had the cuffs slapped on 'em before being carted off to nick is, at this time, unknown. Kalmyk is an investigation into journalism-related computer-hacking which is being carried out under the auspices of Operation Tuleta, the wider Metropolitan police probe into criminal breaches of privacy. A fifty eight-year-old man – understood to be Rees – was arrested in Surrey and taken to a South London cop shop. The second arrestee is a sixty one-year-old male journalist – understood to be Marunchak – who will be interviewed at a Kent station. Both were arrested for alleged offences under section three of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 and sections one and two of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Tuesday's arrests bring the total number under Operation Tuleta to sixteen. Tuleta is being run in conjunction with the Met's other investigations into alleged illegal activity by journalists, Operation Weeting (phone-hacking) and Operation Elveden (inappropriate payments to public officials and other, alleged, nefarious skulduggery and shenanigans). The overall police investigation into journalism-related crimes was set up in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal at the now defunct Scum of the World tabloid paper which was shut down, in shame and infamy, in July 2011. Last month, a trial date in September 2013 was set for various former Scum of the World employees who stand accused of hacking-related offences, including ex-editors and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and the prime minister's former communications director (and 'chum') Andy Coulson. They face various charges related to the alleged interception of voicemails belonging to up to six hundred high profile individuals, including politicians, celebrities and murder victims. All of those so far charged deny the allegations against them.

Yer actual Steven Moffat his very self has admitted that he considered killing off Doctor Who companions Amy and Rory. But, since The Lord Thy God Steve Moffat is a merciful God and not a complete and total bastard, he didn't. Good for him. The pair departed the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama in The Angels Take Manhattan' on Saturday after being sent back in time by The Weeping Angels. But Moffat revealed that cold, clammy, and very final death had been another option for their exit. 'So many times over those mad few days [of finishing the script], the fate of the Ponds changed,' Moffat wrote in the Radio Times. 'Alive, dead, alive, dead. Everything was wrong. Nothing felt right. Nothing felt inevitable.' Moffat revealed that he only became satisfied with the script when he devised the final scene, which featured a nod to Amy and Rory's début episode The Eleventh Hour. 'About four o'clock in the morning - with the gaspingly late script promised to the production team in a few hours - I remembered The Eleventh Hour and the single moment we've been heading for, since the very beginning,' he explained. The showrunner and executive producer previously revealed to the Digital Spy website in August that he 'completely' rewrote his planned ending for Amy and Rory. 'As I was writing it [I was] thinking, "No, I've got it wrong. I'm on the wrong emphasis,"' he explained.

The US return of hit drama series Homeland was watched by 1.7 million, a sixty per cent rise on the audience for last year's first episode. It follows the show's success at last week's Emmys, where it won four awards including the coveted accolade for best drama series. Homeland stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis were also honoured, along with the show's writers. The counter-terrorism thriller returns to Channel Four on 7 October. Broadcast on Showtime in America, Homeland delivered the cable channel's most-watched second-season première. Yet the show's ratings were eclipsed by the return of Showtime's serial killer drama Dexter, seen by 2.4 million on the channel's most watched Sunday night ever. Homeland's UK ratings have proved much higher, with February's première on Channel Four watched by an average of 3.1 million people. That figure rose to near four million for the series finale, which the station broadcast in May. US reviews of Homeland's return have been positive, with TV.com writing that the season two opener 'didn't disappoint.' The Huffington Post agreed. 'Judging from tonight's season two première, we could have saved ourselves the trouble of worrying about whether the show would find a way to generate tension,' its critic wrote. The show's 'real genius' was discussed on Wired, which wrote: 'This politically charged soap opera for our times employs two of primetime's most mesmerising headcases to bring its big-picture dilemmas to riveting life.' The Los Angeles Times called the opener 'deft and elegant' and said the show did ambiguity 'extremely well.' It added: 'Given the extravagances of the plot and the characters, that it feels plausibly seated in the real world is a testament to everyone involved in its production.' For what it's worth, yer actual Keith Telly Topping got through his review copy of the episode this very morning and was impressed with the ease with which it wrote itself out of a couple of tight corners from the first season's climax. As ever, the acting of the regular cast was superb. Lewis has said that he drew inspiration for his character - a US marine freed after eight years as an al Queda captive - from Brian Keenan's 1991 book An Evil Cradling. Keenan spent more than four years as a hostage in Beirut, sharing a cell with the British journalist John McCarthy. Ahead of Homeland's return to UK screens, McCarthy has now voiced concerns over the drama's 'really horrible violence. I do fear we're not really appreciating the absolute horror of what someone's going through there,' he told the Radio Times, describing the conversion of Lewis's character into a clandestine al Queda operative as 'almost like titillation. Anybody who has been severely beaten wouldn't see that as entertainment,' he is quoted as saying.

ITV has, once again, denied claims that Red Or Black? has been axed. Because, like Alice, it always likes to deny three impossible things before breakfast. Or, was that Saint Peter? One of them two. Anyway, reports surfaced last month that the broadcaster planned to drop the Wee Shughie mcFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads-created show after it struggled in the ratings. Actually, not so much struggled as belly flopped. The rumours were fuelled by an announcement at the end of Saturday's show stating that it was the 'last in the series,' rather than the 'current series.' An ITV spokesman quickly told the Daily Lies: 'This run has finished and we will make any announcement about another series in due course.' ITV apparently wants to end Red Or Black? because of its high costs. And, because as with most shows that get dropped, 'it was shit and no one was watching it.' Ant and/or Dec are said to be 'looking to focus' on other projects according to alleged 'soucres'. 'Ant and Dec have a huge, loyal fan base but if a format doesn't interest people then there is only so much they can do,' one alleged 'source' allegedly said. 'Their focus is on I'm A Celebrity ... and Saturday Night Takeaway.'

Daniel Craig is reportedly a big fan of Homes Under the Hammer. The actor regularly watched the daytime TV show in his trailer while filming Skyfall, an alleged 'source' allegedly told the Sun.

Meanwhile, in some 'news' that actually matters a frig, Dragons' Den star Duncan Bannatyne has suffered a suspected heart attack and is being treated in hospital. The Scottish entrepreneur is undergoing tests at Darlington Memorial Hospital after paramedics were called to his office in the town on Monday morning. His daughter, Abi Bannatyne, later tweeted that her sixty three-year-old father was 'stable' in hospital. Bannatyne runs The Bannatyne Group, a successful health club, hotel and spa business. A spokesman for The Bannatyne Group said: 'Everyone at the company is very concerned and upset, but we know that Duncan is a very strong person and we are confident he will make a full recovery. Everyone wishes him well. We'd like to thank the quick and professional actions of the paramedics who attended to Duncan and thank the staff at the Memorial Hospital for his on-going care.' Bannatyne, who is originally from Clydebank, has appeared on BBC show Dragons' Den since the first series in 2005. The programme sees entrepreneurs pitch for investment in the Den from five venture capitalists willing to invest their own money in exchange for equity. Bannatyne, who is a keen user of Twitter with more than half-a-million followers, tweeted on Monday morning: 'It is Monday so start the week on a positive note and stay positive.' His colleague on the BBC show, Theo Paphitis, said he had spoken to his friend in hospital and Bannatyne told him he did not think he had suffered a heart attack. Paphitis tweeted: 'In Scotland no mobile signal but managed to make contact with Duncan and he is well undergoing tests does not think heart attack.' He added: 'Speedy recovery we are missing you already.' Bannatyne enlisted in the Royal Navy at the age of fifteen, before receiving a dishonourable discharge for threatening to throw an officer off a jetty. After drifting from job to job, he began his entrepreneurial life by trading in cars, before buying an ice cream van for four hundred and fifty cones. He later sold Duncan's Super Ices for twenty eight grand, and used the proceeds to found a nursing home business which was eventually sold for twenty six million quid in 1996, and another business, children's nursery chain Just Learning, for twenty two million knicker. The millionaire now runs the largest independent chain of health clubs in the UK and also owns bars, hotels and property. He has received an OBE for his charity contributions and is known as a supporter of good causes, especially for children. Bannatyne is also heavily involved with Comic Relief and UNICEF, and is a passionate anti-smoking campaigner.

The BBC has appointed Sam Taylor, the corporation's head of editorial development, as the controller of the BBC News channel and the BBC1 1pm news bulletin. Taylor's appointment follows the departure of Kevin Bakhurst to Irish broadcaster RTE in September. Taylor had worked as a producer and editor on the BBC News channel, before becoming editor of 1pm bulletin and editor of BBC Newswire, the corporation's multimedia internal news service. More recently, he led the relocation of the BBC newsrooms from Television Centre and Bush House to their new base at New Broadcasting House in central London. Taylor said in a statement: 'I am looking forward to taking the channel and its very strong team into New Broadcasting House, where not only will we have a fantastic new studio, we will also be able to work even more closely with colleagues across the BBC – and ensure that our audience gets the very best live, breaking and developing journalism, wherever and whenever they want it.' Taylor is understood to have been in the final shortlist for the job alongside James Stephenson, editor of BBC1's 6pm and 10pm news programmes, and Newsnight editor Peter Rippon. Mary Hockaday, head of the BBC newsroom, said applications for the post attracted 'high-quality candidates.' She added that Taylor had 'great news judgment in line with BBC News editorial values and a real sense of the channel's strengths and how to build on them.'

The royal family has rarely been out of the headlines this past year, but actor Ricky Tomlinson will make a surprise appearance at the Labour conference in Manchester in a bid to make his own news, reports the Sun. The Royle Family actor will tell a fringe meeting at the conference that he wants the government to release all of the documents relating his 1973 arrest over a picketing incident in Shrewsbury.
Newcastle United has said it is ending its multimillion-pound sponsorship deal with Virgin Money a year early. Which means that yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite team will, from next May, no longer be running around with the word 'Virgin' plastered across their collective chest. The two-year deal, thought to be worth up to ten million smackers, was signed in January after Virgin Money bought previous sponsor Northern Rock. A United spokesman said the club, owned by Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley, would announce a new sponsor soon. Virgin Money said that, while it respected the club's decision, it had wanted to continue as the team's main sponsor. In a statement, the club said: 'Whilst Virgin Money will remain as club sponsor until the end of the current season, Newcastle United has chosen to exercise its contractual right, as both parties had the option to do, to end the two-year sponsorship deal with the bank at the end of this season. The Virgin Money name will continue to be worn on the iconic black and white shirts for the remainder of this season.' Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money said: 'We were delighted to sponsor Newcastle United given the club's importance to the North East and had hoped that this would be a relationship that would flourish for years to come. However, they have found a different option and we have to respect that. We remain sponsor until the end of the current season and the Virgin Money name will continue to be worn on the iconic black and white shirts until then.' The Magpies' managing director Derek Llambias added: 'We have enjoyed a very successful partnership with Virgin Money, however we have decided to end the agreement early and we will be announcing a new sponsorship partner shortly, which represents an excellent commercial deal for both parties.'

Previously unseen footage of The Beatles sharing fish and chips while filming their 1967 TV movie The Magical Mystery Tour has been posted online. Arts website The Space is hosting the footage, discovered during the making of a new documentary about the film from BBC2's Arena. It shows The Beatles taking a break from The Magical Mystery Tour coach at a fish bar in Taunton, Somerset. The film was first broadcast by the BBC on Boxing Day 1967. The Magical Mystery Tour was a bit of a mess, frankly. Some of it was (and remains) quite funny, but it needed a good editor for it to work. A script would've helped too. Individual sequences are interesting (Jessie's dream, for example) and the musical stuff is, mostly, great (the turgid 'Blue Jay Way' excepted). But many of the cast - including cult-poet Ivor Cutler - look as though they didn't have a clue what was supposed to be going on. Slaughtered by most of the critics (the Gruniad Morning Star's Keith Dewhurst was a notable exception, describing it as 'an inspired freewheeling achievement'), The Magical Mystery Tour was the first crack in the public perception that The Beatles were infallible - parents hated it and the kids on council estates up and down the country who thought LSD was the posh term the government used for money simply didn't understand it. Still, when all's said and done, and as yer actual Paul McCartney is still proud to note, there aren't many places where you can see notorious alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie the late John Lennon performing 'I Am the Walrus' backed by a troupe of dancing policemen. The film will be shown on 6 October on BBC2 for the first time in the UK more than thirty years (Yer actual Keith telly Topping, getting his insufferable Fab-related nerd hat on, believes the last time was in 1979 as part of a series of Beatles-related movies on BBC2, which is also the last time The Beatles At Shea Stadium was shown on British TV.) It will follow a new documentary, Arena: The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, looking at the film's 'artistic merit and cultural significance.' Arena has placed the previously unseen footage, which it said was reclaimed from the 'cutting room floor,' into a new short film made in association with The Beatles' record label Apple. Featuring Lennon, McCartney, the late George Harrison and Ringo Starr, it was shot en route to Newquay in Cornwall, the final destination of The Magical Mystery Tour. The video is available to watch online on The Space, the arts website developed by the Arts Council and the BBC. It is part of a spin-off project from award-winning documentary series Arena, called The Arena Hotel. The project will see the show open up its archive of six hundred films to audiences in a 'virtual hotel' environment. 'Few people have seen Magical Mystery Tour in its entirety and the material in the chip shop has never been shown anywhere,' explained Arena editor Anthony Wall. 'It captures perfectly the fabulous world of The Beatles at this time. They're happily rubbing shoulders and sharing a simple meal with the other passengers on the coach, and at the same time creating an extraordinarily avant garde film, which of course would soon be broadcast by the BBC to a dumbstruck nation.'

And, if you don't know what all the fuss is about, dear blog reader, here's yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day.

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