Saturday, October 27, 2012

Week Forty Five: You Turn On The Telly And Every Other Story Is Telling You Somebody Died

Filming has commenced this week on another new episode - probably the seventh in transmission order - of Doctor Who's current, seventh, series. The episode is one of two in the new series written by Luther and [spooks] author Neil Cross and is directed by Farren Blackburn, who announced on Sunday: 'Start filming Neil Cross's latest Doctor Who episode tomorrow. Gonna be a ride!' Filming is due to continue until 6 November on the episode, which appears to be set in the early 1980s. No guest stars have been announced for this episode so far. Filming kicked-off in Newport on Monday, with eagle-eyed viewers possibly recognising The Gaer Estate from Torchwood: Children of Earth in 2009; another old haunt from previous stories was the nearby St Woolos Cemetery, which was used by the production on Tuesday. Blackburn commented: 'Several coffees a day keeps the Doctor at play. Boy you need energy to direct this show! The Doc [sic] is looking cooler than EVER! I mean what he's wearing! Just wait and see!' The bulk of episode six, written by Steven Moffat, has now been completed, with a very high-profile shoot in London taking place last week incorporating some motorcycle antics on The South Bank and around a variety of Westminster streets, plus scenes in the shadow of The Shard near London Bridge. Some pick-ups also took place on Wednesday back in Cardiff, with director Colm McCarthy wryly commenting: 'Five cameras on a corner of a street in Cardiff shooting Doctor Who for an hour. Nobody has noticed yet. Too late Whovians! We're out of here.' Yeah. Gotta clue you in on this one, mate. Nobody except total glakes and some Americans actually calls themselves ' Whovians', Colm. Or anything even remotely like it. We're not all anoraks. Although, actually, this blogger isAnyway, Thursday evening saw filming by Barry Pump House with director Saul Metzstein present - this seems likely to have been a series of pick-up shots for the Mark Gatiss story which stars Dame Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling - though the scene in question features another character, and one familiar to regular viewers. Main filming back at the BBC Studios during the day was briefly interrupted to celebrate Matt Smith's birthday (he'll be thirty on Sunday). Neil Gaiman's script has its read-through next week, with the writer saying: 'In case you are wondering, I'm really a bit nervous. The table read of my episode of Doctor Who is next week. Think good thoughts at us. I'll try and post some photographs afterwards. Oh, and for the curious, the episode will be called ███ ████ ████████. Only with letters instead of Ascii Blocks. Unless we change the title again before it's broadcast. Which might well happen, actually.' The Radio Times also reports that one episode of the next batch of eight is, intriguingly, entitled Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS - however, episode titles aren't finalised until closer to transmission (for example this year's episode The Power of Three was originally entitled Cubed until quite late in the production). Matt Smith and Caroline Skinner participated in a Question and Answer session at the London MCM Expo taking place at the Excel Centre in order to promote the Series Seven Part One DVD box-set, and answered a variety of questions about the series both those episodes already shown and those still to be broadcast. Smudger confirmed that - should The Master ever return - he'd expect the character to be played by yer actual John Simm his very self. Both Matt and Caroline indicated that Alex Kingston would also be back as River Song (though not, exactly, when). After the more 'exotic' locations visited for the first part of the current series - New York and Spain - Caroline said that the production wouldn't be travelling that far from Cardiff Bay for the next batch of stories which are currently being recorded. However, when asked about the possibility of filming in places like Louisiana, or Australia (as championed by MP George Christensen, although he still hasn't said whether he'd be prepared to chip in some of the cash required for such a logistical discombobulation) she didn't rule either out in the future. Having recently stirred up a bit of a hornet's nest over potential Australian filming himself, Smudger threw a few more locations into the mix: 'I also think you could make quite a fun episode in Iceland or South America, or you could go to Peru.' Err ... Peru is, actually, in South America, Smudger. Just wanted to input that short geographical note. 'I'd like to film something in those places. The Pyramids would be fun, too, but I'd rather go to Peru.' Jeez. Do you think the BBC is made of money, young man? Meanwhile, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has re-iterated that Amy and Rory won't be back for the Fiftieth Anniversary, in spite of recent media speculation to the contrary: 'Amy and Rory won't be back. At the very beginning, when I was talking to Karen, I said, "Let's make it a proper ending." Heaven knows if they will appear in some flashback – I have no plans – but the story of Amy and Rory is over.'

Actor Stephen Mangan wants to add his name to the list of Doctors: 'I'd love to be Doctor Who – who wouldn't? It's a great part, it's very exciting, I think the Doctor Whos we've had recently have been phenomenal and I'm glad I wasn't the one who had to follow David Tennant because he was extraordinary,' Mangan told the Radio Times. And, once again, just to remind all actors who are busy pitching their hats into the ring as potential future Time Lords, the show is called Doctor Who, the character is called The Doctor. If you can't master that, you've got sod all chance of getting the part. Next ... North Eastern comedian Russ Noble wouldn't ignore a call from the production office either: 'I think anyone would cancel anything to be [The Doctor]! I think there isn't a human being on the planet who would say "no" to Doctor Who. But the only downside of that is you'd have to live in Cardiff!' Aye, big drawback compared to Cramlington that, Ross!

The BBC, meanwhile, have announced that, as with many years previously, Doctor Who will feature as a part of its annual Children in Need fund-raising telethon: Doctor Who, will bring viewers an extra special 'prequel' to its 2012 Christmas special, with a bespoke storyline made for Children in Need, and an exclusive preview trailer of the Christmas episode, including the first glimpse of The Doctor with his new companion, Avocado.

Matt Smith has said that he would 'love' a crossover episode between Doctor Who and the American series Breaking Bad. And this constitutes 'news', apparently. The actor named the dark AMC drama when asked about his 'dream crossover' by Radio 1's waste-of-space airhead flibbertigibbet (and drag), the scourge of the bullies Fearne Cotton. 'I've been loving Breaking Bad,' said Smudger. We'll ignore the confused tenses, there dear blog reader, it'll only prolong the pointlessness of this item. 'I'd love The Doctor to meet Heisenberg in Breaking Bad,' Matty enthused, referring to the pseudonym used by Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston) in his criminal dealings. 'Breaking Bad flips your world upside down.' Cotton, who likely wouldn't know the difference between the world being upside down or the right way up, giggled, inanely and moved on to another vacuous, trivial question about nonsense that no one gives an effing monkey's about. So, no change there then. And then this women has the nerve to criticise licence fee payers - you know, those annoying 'little people' who pay your sodding wages, Fearne - who criticise her and the massively inflated salary she's paid for whatever it is that she does to justify her existence. There is no justice in the world, dear blog reader. No honour, no dignity and no point. And on that bombshell ...

Want to see a picture of Victoria Coren from this week's Have I Got News For You looking all cross and scowling at Xander Armstrong for telling a sexist (albeit, rather funny) joke, dear blog reader? Of course y'do.
Ooo, somebody's going to get a damned good hiding in the dressing room afterwards.

Meanwhile, the Qi studio was, this week, invaded by Daleks, it seems.
I thought it was illegal to smoke indoors these days.

The BBC's investigation into Jimmy Savile was three times more popular with viewers than ITV's Exposure, early overnight data indicates. What the BBC Knew, an hour-long broadcast into the corporation's handling of the Savile revelations on Monday, gave Panorama its best audience of the year. Some 5.1 million, a 38.9 per cent audience share, chose to stay up after the BBC News to watch the programme which was broadcast between 10.35pm and 11.40pm - way above than the 1.7m figure for ITV's original scoop. Newsnight opened with Jeremy Paxman telling viewers his own editor, Peter Rippon, had stepped aside after the BBC was forced on Monday to issue a correction to a blog Rippon wrote explaining his decision in December 2011 to drop the programme's Savile investigation. The report on the latest developments in the Savile scandal was followed by an explosive live studio interview with Conrad Black in which the former Daily Torygraph owner branded a vastly amused Paxo 'a priggish, gullible British fool.' The BBC2 show attracted an average of four hundred thousand punters, from 10.30pm. Earlier on BBC1, New Tricks posted a terrific 7.42m in the 9pm hour (albeit, not for the advertised episode, which was another victim of Savile-related malarkey), prior to which an unadvertised Fake Britain had 3.58m in Panorama's normal pre-watershed slot of 8.30pm. It was a good night all round for yer man Paxman, University Challenge hit a series high of 3.23m (13.2%) for BBC2 at 8pm, perhaps benefiting from the departure of Paul O'Grady from ITV's schedule. The Great British Bake Off Masterclass launched on BBC2 with 2.5 million viewers between 7pm and 8pm. BBC2's other new show of the evening, Prehistoric Autopsy, drew 1.6 million between 9pm and 10pm. ITV debuted Little England, a second series looking at the lives of British expats living in France, which picked up four million viewers between 8pm and 8.30pm. Meanwhile, Monroe's troubles deepened as the ITV medical drama starring Jimmy Nesbitt sunk to a new series low of 2.72m at 9pm. Overall, BBC1 topped primetime with 24.6 per cent of the audience share, beating ITV's 20.4 per cent. Elsewhere, Victoria Coren's Only Connect, soared to a new series high of nine hundred and ninety five thousand for BBC4. Ah, the lads just can't get enough of Queen Victoria, it would seem.

Channel Five's new US drama Hatfields & McCoys starring Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton began with 1.3 million viewers on Thursday evening. The EMMY award-winning American civil war drama, also featuring Tom Berenger and former EastEnders actor Joe Absolom, attracted a six per cent audience share between 9pm and 11.05pm. In a competitive 9pm slot, Channel Five's US drama import trailed in fifth out of the terrestrial channels. BBC1's overcomplicated but, occasionally impressive Melissa George espionage thriller Hunted took top spot, but only just, with 3.2 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm. It was only narrowly ahead of the last episode of BBC2's The Choir: Sing While You Work, which drew three million viewers, including one hundred and nineteen thousand on BBC HD. ITV's flop drama - and, despite any quality it may have, I don't think it's unreasonable to describe it thus - Homefront had 2.4 million viewers, beaten by Channel Four documentary The Town That Caught Tourette's, which had 2.6 million viewers. The second episode of BBC2's excellent Hebburn, starring Chris Ramsey, Vic Reeves and Gina McKee, pulled in a steady 1.5 million viewers between 10pm and 10.30pm, including ninety five thousand on BBC HD. This was marginally down from the 1.8 million that watched last week's opener.

Wasn't it great to see yer actual Danny Baker his very self looking so fit and healthy on The ONE Show on Friday night, plugging the release of his autobiography, Going To Sea In A Sieve? It's great to have you back on the goggle-box, Candyman.
Now, if only somebody could find a grapefruit the right size to, comfortably, fit in Alex Jones's flapping gob and shut her the hell up, the world would be perfect.

And, so to the next bunch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:-
Saturday 3 November
Comedians Eddie Izzard and Russ Abbot might not appear to have all that much in common, on first glance. I mean one is just about the funniest man on the planet and the other ... is the bloke who liked a party with a happy atmosphere. I mean, who doesn't? However, both share a mutual love for the gentle often surreal work of one of the unsung heroes of British comedy, Eric Sykes. Eddie and Russ join Monty Python's Michael Palin, yer actual Bruce Forsyth and the film director Mike Newell as just some of the celebrities paying tribute to Eric Sykes, who died in July in The Late Great Eric Sykes - 8:45 BBC2. The comedy writer and actor had a career in film, TV and radio that spanned more than sixty years, and saw him work with The Goons and Tony Hancock among many others, not to mention two decades of his own, massively popular, eponymous sitcom.

Stephen Fry hosts an extended edition of Qi XL - 9:45 BBC2 - the panel quiz which finds out how much Jo Brand, John Sessions, Dara O Briain and regular panellist Alan Davies know about the topic of jumble, awarding points for the most interesting answers. Come on, you know what this one is all about by now, surely? And the good news is, it's - genuinely - back on form after the properly wretched Jack Whitehall episode.
The eleven remaining couples dress up to the nines for another ballroom battle, and are all smiles as they bid to get their names near the top of the leader-board while secretly hoping their more talented rivals fall flat on their faces when they perform in Strictly Come Dancing - 6:30 BBC1. Len Goodman shouts 'SEVEN!' a lot, Bruno Tonioli gets all discombobulated by women in frocks, Craig Revel Horwood is bitchy and unpleasant but, sometimes, really funny darling and Darcey Bussell does nothing of any consequence. Tess Daly manages to walk in a straight line and talk at the same time - quite a feat for yer actual Tess - and gets the celebrities' reactions as they leave the dance floor. And Bruce Forsyth ... yeah, whatever, in his own inimitable fashion. it says here. The results are tomorrow at 7.20pm. Or, if you're like that, you could watch The X Factor instead. Nah, me neither.

Sunday 4 November
Space Dive - 8:30 BBC2 - is a much-anticipated documentary about forty three-year-old Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner's parachute jump last month, when he became the first person to freefall through the sound barrier after leaping from a record-breaking height of twenty four miles. BBC2 has the behind-the-scenes story of Felix's two-year preparations to jump from one hundred and twenty five thousand feet; a height that would qualify him as the first person to break the sound barrier in a freefall jump from, quite literally, the edge of Space. The film follows Felix as he trains under the supervision of eighty two-year-old Joe Kittinger, the man who set the altitude record when he fell nineteen miles to Earth in 1960, and shows how the mission came close to being aborted in the final stages of the ascent. Reaching record-shattering speeds of more than six hundred and ninety miles per hour in just thirty five seconds, breaking the sound barrier without propulsion and creating a human sonic boom on his way back to Earth, Felix put his body through the most arduous and life-threatening conditions ever experienced in freefall. The momentous dive, staged by Red Bull, was achieved with support from a wide team of scientists, engineers and medics who have worked for organisations including NASA and the US Air Force and genuinely seemed to capture the attention of the world. Looking forward to this one.

In the latest episode of the excellent Homeland - 9:00 Channel Four - Brody finds himself a prisoner again, but this time on American soil, while Carrie faces the consequences of her rash judgement call at the hotel and Estes is kept busy ensuring Jessica stays off their trail. Meanwhile, Dana's relationship with Finn is taken to the next level, changing from fun to deadly serious. Starring Damian Lewis, Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Morena Baccarin and David Harewood.

JFK's Road to the White House: Primary 1960 - 9:00 BBC4 - is a fascinating-looking fly-on-the-wall documentary on US President John F Kennedy, during the climax of his 1960 Wisconsin primary run against Hubert Humphrey. Director Robert Drew proposed tracking the leader with a revolutionary, small camera, day and night for nearly a week. It captured JFK's rock-star presence, and granted viewers unprecedented access into the world of a young politician and his glamorous wife, as they campaigned across the region's landscape, building dramatic tension as the candidates awaited the ballot. Part of the Storyville strand.

Monday 5 November
In Nigel Slater: Life Is Sweets - 9:00 BBC4 - the food writer charts the origins of British sweets and chocolate, from medicinal medieval boiled candy to the treats that line the supermarkets today. Nigel recalls his favourites from childhood, including a small toffee which inspired him to write his memoir, marshmallows that remind him of his mother and a travel sweet which conjures up visions of his father. If you think this is an unlikely tale, dear blog reader, let this blogger assure you, it's perfectly possible. This blogger well remembers having a slice of chocolate cake in a coffee shop in Amsterdam a few years ago and, thirty minutes later, having visions of Jesus playing guitar with Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. Mind you, it was particularly expensive chocolate cake.

Just a week after he got to drive several of James Bond's cars around, Richard Hammond yet again proves that some blokes get all the best jobs. In Richard Hammond's Miracles of Nature - 9:00 BBC1 - The Hamster his very self enters the natural world to uncover animals' secret abilities and reveal how those skills have inspired a series of unlikely inventions. From South Africa to South America, Richard will travel the far reaches of the world to get up close and personal with both the tame and the wild and their remarkable abilities; from paragliding with Cape vultures to witnessing first-hand a pioneering operation on a giraffe. Along the way he'll devise entertaining scientific experiments which will in turn explain the extraordinary workings of each of these phenomenal creatures’ specific capabilities. In the first programme, he discovers how scientists have been able to build a flying submarine, prevent jet pilots losing consciousness, safely protect a light bulb dropped from space and waterproof a mobile phone, all thanks to creatures as diverse as a vulture, a giraffe, a woodpecker and a South American butterfly. And somewhere, of course, several arsehole - alleged - comedians (you know, the usual suspects, odious Jack Whitehall, full-of-his-own-importance wanker Stewart Lee, et cetera) will barely be able to restrain themselves from making come wholly unfunny crack about Hammond. And lots of odious hippy Communist Gruniad Morning Star readers will chuckle like the bully's friend they often - with their sick agenda - accuse Hamster himself of being. As previous noted, dear blog reader, there are some good people in the world, some bad people, lots of those who'd like to try their best not to hurt anyone too much, and then there are some people who are just scum.

Old baldy his very self Gregg Wallace, lovely Michel Roux Jr and scowling misery-boat Monica Galetti return with the cult culinary challenge MasterChef: The Professionals - 8:30 BBC2. In the opening episode, the first batch of ten chefs must make a dish using a selection of seven ingredients - including squid, gurnard, apples and raisins. Hoping to progress to the final test tomorrow, they each have just one hour to hold their nerve and demonstrate their creativity to the judges.
Jason Bradbury and Pollyanna Woodward get their clothes muddy racing high-powered quad bikes around the Welsh countryside and then find out if a hi-tech washer-dryer can get them clean again in the first episode of a new series of the once brilliant and unmissable but now, sadly, distinctly missable Gadget Show - 8:00 Channel Five. In the Porth yr Ogof caves near the Brecon Beacons they explore the pitch-black labyrinth of rivers and passageways to test the quality of torch batteries, and at St Donat's castle they listen to a performance by Only Boys Aloud - no, me neither I'm afraid - to review a set of in-ear headphones. The pair also have fun with a karaoke app and an electronic musical instrument, try out three entry-level smartphones and send tiny HD cameras up in a weather balloon to film the stratosphere. But, since Suzy Perry left the show - in never-full-explained circumstances and to viewer outrage - this blogger simply refuses to watch it. Your fault, Channel Five.

Tuesday 6 November
In Dara O Briain's Science Club - 9:00 BBC2 - the popular Irish comedian and presenter investigates a single subject each week, from space exploration to music, and examines it from different and unexpected angles using a combination of studio discussion, films and on-the-spot reports. Well known for his comedy, with a degree in mathematics and theoretical physics, Dara also brings his intelligence to a range of captivating subjects. He is joined by materials scientist and engineer Mark Miodownik, neuroscientist Tali Sharot, physicist and oceanographer Helen Czerski and journalist Alok Jha, plus some of the most famous science Gods from around the world - all stirred together by Dara's curiosity, wit and passion for science. There will also be special guest appearances from Marcus Brigstocke, James May, Jessica Hynes, Mark Steel, Josh Widdecombe and Ed Byrne. Each week the team will take a single subject and examine it from lots of different and unexpected angles - from extinction to sex, Einstein to space exploration and brain chemistry to music – all underpinned by first-class science. Dara O Briain's Science Club will plug viewers into the biggest ideas and fascinating facts. Combining in-depth studio discussion in front of a lively audience, with exploratory films and on-the-spot reports, this new series brings some of the world's foremost thinkers together to share their thoughts on everything, from how to avoid asteroid impact to whether or not we are still evolving.

Heston Blumenthal brings back the wonder and excitement of childhood food memories and flavours on a monumental scale by super-sizing all manner of treats - from the world's biggest 99 Flake to a record-breaking bag of Hula Hoops - in a bid to reawaken the youngster in every viewer in Heston's Fantastic Food - 9:00 Channel Four. He begins by tackling breakfast, using all his scientific skill to create the world's largest boiled egg and cereal on an epic scale - not forgetting the full English, which here includes metre-long sausages and jumbo baked beans. Adding to the fun, it's all served on Heston's own express train to busy commuters, those who usually don't have time to stop and eat in a morning.

Vet Alex German and nurse Shelley Holden prepare for a visit from one of their favourite patients, an obese basset hound that has been on a strict weight-loss programme for four months in Rolf's Animal Clinic - 8:00 Channel Five. In the equine hospital, surgeon Neil Townsend operates on a horse that has seriously infected sinuses, while Steve Unwin is at Chester Zoo to pick up two pythons and take them for MRI scans at Leahurst. Farm practice vet Helen Williams has an unusual emergency on her hands when she has to treat a pet pig suffering from a blocked bladder. And where is yer actual Rolf Harris I hear you ask, dear blog reader, since it's his name being used to sell the series. He narrates. Swizz.

The curiously alluring - if, a bit lispy - posh bird historian Lucy Worsley charts the story of the writer, whose 1954 book Food in England documented the processes used by farmers and labourers to produce and prepare food in Food in England: The Lost World of Dorothy Hartley - 9:00 BBC4. The presenter travels across England and Wales to learn more about the life of the author, and why she took such a keen interest in recording the skills and techniques prized by craftspeople and workers in a rapidly shrinking rural Britain.

Wednesday 7 November
Frustrated that a number of cases have been knocked back by the Crown Prosecution Service, Banks (Stephen Tompkinson in his best role for the best part of two decades) and the team are called on to investigate the murder of teenager Ellie Clayton, daughter of a high-profile Internet entrepreneur in the opening episode of the latest DCI Banks - 9:00 ITV. The victim's background, together with the suggestion she may have been raped, means the incident is soon the subject of much media speculation, and strong evidence implicates a theatre director who ran a drama workshop the girl attended on the night she died. The detective believes he has found his man, but Morton fears her colleague isn't seeing the bigger picture. Concludes tomorrow.

Yer actual Michael Palin begins the third leg of his journey in the mineral-rich state of Minas Gerais, where he learns about the Brazilian mining industry and meets some of the people dedicated to overturning the environmental damage it causes in Brazil with Michael Palin - 9:00 BBC1. He then heads to Rio de Janeiro, focus of the next World Cup and Olympics, where the authorities are ridding the streets of violent drug gangs that have controlled the city's shanty towns. On a lighter note, the globe-trotting broadcaster also learns to celebrate a goal like a well-known radio commentator and visits a 'love hotel.'

No, dear blog reader, Geordies Overboard - 11:05 Channel Four - isn't the latest trashy shitehawk reality show from the makes of Geordie Shore. Rather, this is a rather thoughtful and decent looking documentary following the crew of the Northumberland-based Blyth All-Weather Lifeboat, the only private offshore lifeboat left in the UK. Life at sea doesn't always go smoothly and chairman Barry Elliott is concerned his latest batch of volunteer recruits are not up to the job. He wants to shake up the organisation and transform it into the RNLI's main competition.

Secret State - 10:00 Channel Four - is a political drama, starring Gabriel Byrne, based on Chris Mullin's classic novel A Very British Coup (previously adapted for TV in the late 1980s). Deputy Prime Minister Tom Dawkins vows to take on an American petrochemical company after a devastating industrial accident on British soil. Following the suspicious death of the PM in a plane crash, his understated ambitions are tested as two colleagues vie for the top job - but neither appears to have justice for those affected by the disaster at the forefront of their campaign.

Thursday 8 November
Having jaunted around the UK on the licence fee payer's coin - and, to be fair, doing so in a very appealing and watchable way - yer actual Michael Portillo ventures onto the European rail network to retrace journeys featured in Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide of 1913, beginning with London to Monte Carlo in Great Continental Railway Journeys - 9:00 BBC2. His first stop is Paris, where he absorbs the atmosphere, before heading south to the Cote d'Azur and ending his journey at Monaco's gaming tables.

WW1's Tunnels of Death: The Big Dig - 8:00 Channel Four - is the first instalment of a two-part programme documenting the work of archaeologists over the course of eight months as they explore First World War battlefields near the village of Messines in Belgium. Accompanied by military historians Peter Doyle and Paul Reed and specialists in bomb disposal and ordnance clearance, the team led by Simon Verdegem uncovers well-preserved trenches, bunkers and tunnels from the Western Front. Against the background of the dig, the story is revealed of how the stalemate was finally broken by the detonation of huge mines underneath the German lines, creating the biggest explosion the world had ever seen and killing thousands in the process.

There's also the latest episode of the excellent Hebburn - 10:00 BBC2, along with BBC1's over-complicated, but occasionally fascinating Hunted (9:00) and the second part of the final DCI Banks of the series (9:00 ITV). And, no Top of the Pops 1977 this week, presumably because the episode which should have been shown was presented by Jimmy Savile. Allegedly.
And so to the news: Shares in Trinity Mirra slid a staggering seventeen per cent on Friday as the media group's newspapers face allegations of phone-hacking. Ex-England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson is among four people taking legal action against the group's print business, Mirra Group Newspapers. The claims against the publisher of the Daily and Sunday Mirra and the People were filed at the High Court on Monday. Eriksson's claim relates to a time when odious oily slime bucket (and drag) Piers Morgan edited the Daily Mirra. Morgan continues to deny any knowledge of phone-hacking. Trinity Mirra's shares have fallen a total of thirty per cent in the last week and a half. It reverses half of the stock market gains enjoyed by the media group since announcing the departure of its controversial chief executive Sly Bailey and a surprise bounce in profits over the summer. Bailey has since been replaced by the former HMV boss Simon Fox. Friday's share price drop came after High Court judge Mr Justice Vos, who has presided over similar cases brought against News International, said that he would handle all four of the cases against Trinity Mirra, according to reports in the Gruniad Morning Star and Independent newspapers. The three other claimants are Coronation Street actress Shobna Gulati, Abbie Gibson, a former nanny for the Beckham family and Garry Flitcroft, the former captain of Blackburn Vindaloos. Until now, the phone-hacking scandal has centred on billionaire tyrant's Rupert Murdoch's News International and the now disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid the Scum of the World. This is the first legal action in the scandal against another newspaper group. Odious oily slime bucket (and drag) Morgan, who is now a chat show host for US broadcaster CNN, was questioned about phone-hacking during his appearance at the Leveson Inquiry. He repeated his denials of any knowledge or involvement in the illegal practice. One or two people even believed him.

Gary Glitter's estranged son is reported to be suing News International, alleging the Scum of the World hacked his phone in the years following his father's conviction for downloading child pornography. The claim, which has just been submitted to the high court, is one of twelve new cases joining one hundred and fifty five civil claims already before Mr Justice Vos and scheduled to go to trial next June. Among the other new claimants against the Scum of the World over alleged phone-hacking are former footballer and BBC sports presenter Garth Crooks (Christ, let's hope Garth doesn't conduct his own case otherwise the judge won't get a word in edgeways), former England footballer Kenny Sansom, Sunday Express editor Martin Townsend and animal rights protester Robert Cogswell, plus Michelle Verroken, believed to be the former head of anti-doping for UK sports. Four new anonymous claims have also been lodged with the high court. Paul Andrew Gadd was born in 1964 and is the son of Glitter. He is said to have fallen out with his father following Glitter's conviction for sex offences in 1999 when the former glam rock singer was sentenced to four months in prison and listed as a sex offender. Glitter was subsequently found guilty of molesting girls aged ten and eleven by a Vietnamese court in 2006. He was a regular visitor to his son's home in South Devon before he was jailed but when released Gadd told him his father was no longer welcome there.

Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud in relation to his Italian television empire. The media mogul, AC Milan owner and former Italian Prime Minister was finally sentenced on Friday after the trial initially began proceedings in 2006. Due to a now-rescinded immunity law, Berlusconi was shielded from prosecution while he was premier until the criminal trial was watered down by the constitutional court. Proceedings accelerated once more after the seventy six-year-old resigned in November 2011 after losing his majority vote in the Italian cabinet. He is expected to appeal against the verdict. Sky News reports that prosecutors in the trial alleged the former PM and ten others were behind a scheme to buy the rights to broadcast US movies on Berlusconi's TV networks through a series of offshore companies, and had subsequently falsely declared the payments to avoid taxes. It was also alleged that they inflated the price for the TV rights of around three thousand films as they internally relicensed them to the Berlusconi networks, and siphoning the difference in profit (around two hundred million quid). Berlusconi was found guilty and sentenced to four years in jail - he has also been barred from holding political office for three years. However, in Italy cases must pass through two levels of appeal before verdicts are deemed final - commentators have claimed that it is unsure Berlusconi will ever serve jail time due to his age, the lengthy appeals process and statute of limitations. Berlusconi is also currently on trial in Milan for the charge of covering up paying for sex with an underage teenager.

A former ITV newsreader has claimed that colleagues 'laughed' at him when he alleged that he had seen Jimmy Savile grope a girl in a TV studio in the 1980s. Alan Hardwick said that he told a manager at Yorkshire Television that he had witnessed the Jim'll Fix It presenter 'pinch a young girl's bottom.' However, the sixty three-year-old claims that he was 'laughed at' by colleagues, who said: 'Don't you know that Savile likes them young?' Police have launched a formal criminal investigation into Savile's alleged abuses, which are believed to have occurred over a forty-year period and involved potentially more than three hundred alleged victims. Hardwick, a former Calendar presenter who is now standing for the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner post, told the Lincolnshire Echo about a time in the late 1980s when he saw Savile's alleged abuse first-hand. 'Savile was in the [Yorkshire Television] building and I was going to go and say hello to him,' he told the paper. 'I went into the studio and standing with his back to me was Jimmy Savile with about half-a-dozen girls with him. They were probably twelve or thirteen. They were about to go on set so I decided I would speak to Savile later but before I left he squeezed the bottom of the little girl to his right who he had his arm around.' Hardwick said that he raised the issue with his manager, who according to him quickly brushed off the incident. And, instead of immediately reporting the matter to the police, Hardwick instead waited thirty years before talking about it to a newspaper. Well, what a goddamn hero you are, Alan, pal. It's to be hoped the voters of Lincolnshire are similarly unimpressed. I'll tell you what, dear blog reader. If the police were to announce, tomorrow, as they should, that every single person who now - thirty or forty years later - claims to have witnessed Jimmy Savile potentially committing a crime and who didn't go to the police about it at the time, regardless of whether they mentioned this to anyone else, is to be charged with aiding an offender then the steady steam of such stories appearing in the press would end instantly. 'He said that the girl must have been a relative to Savile and was just being friendly and I accepted that,' Hardwick weaselled, unconvincingly. 'I mentioned it to other people in the industry and at the BBC and I was laughed at because they all said, "Don't you know that Savile likes them young?" I felt a bit of a fool.' Not as much of a fool as you look now, pal. Discussing the recent reporting on the allegations against Savile, Hardwick added: 'I have been watching the various programmes on him with concern and total amazement - but mostly with disgust. Without a doubt his status protected him. It was generally known within television not that he was a predator or a paedophile, but that he liked them young. I was quite willing to accept the word of the manager but looking back, even if it had been a relative of Savile's, it still was wrong. It did not even occur to me at the time to take the matter further.' And this, dear blog reader, is the person being presented as someone to be put in charge of Lincolnshire's police force.

Dozens of celebrities from the 1960s and 1970s are 'frightened to death' they will be implicated in the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal, according to public relations gobshite Max Clifford. He said the celebrities, some of whom were still big names, had approached him to 'handle any fallout' from inquiries. He said they were worried because at their peak they had lived 'a hedonistic lifestyle' where young girls threw themselves at them but they 'never asked for anybody's birth certificate.' Clifford's comments came as it emerged that the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster has written to the Pope to ask him to consider removing Savile's papal knighthood in recognition of the distress caused to his victims. So, just to put this into perspective, a senior member of the Catholic Church doesn't like the idea of being associated with an alleged paedophile. Yeah, I know. Is that supposed to be dramatic irony, or what, Vic? Scotland Yard is leading the current investigation into accusations of abuse by former BBC DJ and presenter Savile, which now involves around three hundred alleged victims. Officers have searched a cottage belonging to Savile in Allt na Reigh in Glencoe, to look for 'any evidence of any others being involved in any offending with him.' In Leeds, members of Savile's family issued a statement expressing their 'bewilderment' at his alleged crimes and their sympathy for his victims. In the statement, the family said their 'thoughts' and 'prayers' were with those who had suffered abuse. This comes in marked contrast to the spluttering howls of indignation coming from Savile's nephew Roger Foster just a few weeks ago when he said that his family was 'disgusted and disappointed' by the claims and that '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.' On Friday, Clifford said young pop stars at the time had gone from working in a factory one week to performing in front of thousands of people 'and girls are screaming and throwing themselves at them then. All kinds of things went on and I do mean young girls throwing themselves at them in their dressing rooms at concert halls, at gigs, whatever,' he said. 'They never asked for anybody's birth certificate and they were young lads. Suddenly everyone's dream was a reality. We are talking about a lot of people that were huge names in the 60s and 70s and a lot of them barely remember what they did last week, genuinely. For them to try and recount what happened in a dressing room in 1965 or 1968 or 1972, genuinely they are frightened to death.' He said the investigation needed to focus on the 'facilitators' who lurked on the periphery and had years to cover their backs. 'I am hoping that the real predators are the ones we are going to find out about: the Glitters of this world, the Saviles of this world, not people that were randy young pop stars in the 1960s, 70s and 80s even, that had women throwing themselves at them everywhere they went, because that is a whole different area and a whole different situation. No one had heard the word paedophile in those days,' he said.

Mad Frankie Boyle has pledged the fifty four grand he won in libel damages to prisoner campaign group Reprieve. Boyle won his High Court battle with the Daily Mirra, which had, outrageously, described him as 'a racist comedian' in a story last year. On Monday, jurors awarded Boyle huge damages after concluding that the racist description was entirely defamatory. Boyle said afterwards that he would be donating his damages to a charity of his own choice. Boyle wrote on Twitter: 'Here's the good people I'm giving my damages to. They do a lot of inspiring work.' Clive Stafford Smith, the director of Reprieve, said it was 'very generous.' He added: 'The funds will be put to good use for those people who need it.' Reprieve's website says it 'uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantanamo Bay.' It says: 'We investigate, we litigate and we educate, working on the frontline, providing legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves.'

Richard Wallace, the former editor of the Daily Mirra, has reportedly been hired by Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads to work on the US version of The X Factor. Wallace was pushed out of the Daily Mirra in May as part of parent company Trinity Mirra's move to take the newspaper to a seven-day operation. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, the former tabloid editor has now accepted an offer from Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's Syco production company to become a consultant on The X Factor USA. The paper claims that the contract initially lasts until Christmas, but the relationship 'could expand' to America's Got Talent, the US version of Britain's Got Talent. An alleged 'source' allegedly 'familiar with the situation' allegedly said: 'He will bring some classic British popular newspaper skills to the Syco operation in the US.' What sort of 'classic British popular newspaper skills', the alleged 'source' allegedly didn't say. Phone-hacking, perhaps? Wallace, who is understood to have previously held talks with ITV about job opportunities, is thought to have already moved to Los Angeles, where FOX produces The X Factor USA. The Gruniad's media editor, Dan Sabbagh, noted on Twitter that Wallace was the newspaper editor that Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads used to complain he 'couldn't control.'

Around twelve thousand quid's worth of biscuits have been stolen. Police are said to be looking for a trio of robbers with a very large cup of tea. Three men reportedly entered Leamore Enterprise Park in Walsall to take the stash, according to Walsall Police. Elkes shortcakes and Fox's ginger crinkles are among the biscuits missing after the thieves attached the trailer containing the food to a lorry tractor unit. Whether Breakaway and Bandit were also in the haul and if, indeed, the robbers did p-p-p-pick up a Penguin, we just don't know. A police spokesman stated: 'If anyone has seen these Elkes biscuits being distributed through informal channels, then I would like to hear from them as they could have crucial information to help us catch the perpetrators. This was a high-value theft which has cost the haulage company tens of thousands of pounds. While offences committed against businesses are often perceived as victimless crimes, the fact is that at a time of economic austerity, the impact on the wider community is huge.' So, if anybody offers your some broken biscuits, dear blog reader, it might be an idea to check if they fell off the back of a lorry. Thanks, I'm here all week.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's the wee man in purple trousers with a state of the nation address, as true today as it was in 1987. Times.

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