Monday, November 05, 2012

Half The Day's Gone (And We Haven't Earned A Penny)

Yer actual Martin Freeman has spoken of his 'frustration' over people thinking he is like his TV roles in real life. The actor - who has appeared as nice guys Tim Canterbury in The Office and John Watson in Sherlock among others - explained that he isn't the same sort of person away from the camera. Martin, in fact, would like everyone to know that, really, he's a total louse and a bad mother, it would seem. Which, this blog is happy to do. That Martin Freeman, eh, what a total Daily Mail journalist, dear blog reader. Biggest, nastiest insult I can think of. 'I totally get it and I'm sure I would feel the same way about this actor who had played a few of those parts. Which is only positive,' he told BANG Showbiz. 'It can be frustrating, just because you think, well, I know I'm not that person and you don't know I'm not that person.' Freeman also said that he was 'amazed' by the ratings success of Sherlock. 'Some of the viewing figures we got with the second series of Sherlock were fucking outrageous,' he noted. 'One week, we beat EastEnders, and I'm so proud - not because we beat EastEnders - but I'm proud that millions, I mean literally millions of people wanted to watch it then. That night.' Martin will soon appear as the lead character of Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's first Hobbit movie.

The BBC's Live+7 figures are now available for the series of Doctor Who episodes shown in September. The Live+7 figures give the total numbers viewing a programme within a week of transmission, including all platforms - live, PVR, transmission repeats and iPlayer. Each Doctor Who episode increased its audience by an average of fifty two per cent from the initial overnight ratings figure, a much larger increase than achieved by the average BBC1 drama, which had a twenty five per cent increase. Just under ten per cent of viewers watched on iPlayer, with the vast majority of iPlayer viewers time-shifting the programme. With an average increase of 3.07 million, Doctor Who has the second-largest average increase for a TV drama in 2012, only just being beaten by Steven Moffat's other series, Sherlock, which increased each episode by an average of 3.34 million viewers. Doctor Who has the largest percentage increase for any drama for the year so far:-
Asylum of the Daleks - overnight, 6.39m, Live+7 9.65m
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship - overnight 5.43m, Live+7 8.64m
A Town Called Mercy - overnight 6.49m, Live +7 9.22m
The Power of Three - overnight 5.59m, Live +7 8.68m
The Angels Take Manhattan - overnight 5.86m, 8.92m

Strictly Come Dancing, as previously reported, was two million viewers ahead of The X Factor on Saturday, and also stretched its ratings lead over the ITV show on Sunday nights as well. But there was better ratings news on Sunday for ITV from Downton Abbey, which ended its third series with an average overnight audience of 10.1 million viewers from 9pm. The BBC1 celebrity dance show averaged 9.8 million viewers and a 43.3 per cent audience share on Saturday from 6.30pm. The X Factor had 7.6 million viewers from 8.20pm. On Sunday the Strictly Come Dancing results show - which saw actor Colin Salmon leave the competition - averaged 9.6 million viewers and a 37.4 per cent share from 7.20pm, while The X Factor results had nine million on ITV from 8pm (rising to 9.2m when ITV+1 figures were included). Saturday's X Factor episode was down from 8.4 million the previous weekend, and down from 9.9 million on the same weekend in 2011. The X Factor more or less matched its audience for the previous Sunday night, but was well off the 12.3 million punters it had on the equivalent weekend last year and a whopping 14.9 million in 2010. Last weekend Strictly averaged 9.6 million and 9.2 million on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. A year ago the equivalent figures were 9.1 million and 10.7 million. The final episode of Downton Abbey series two averaged 10.7 million on the first weekend in November 2011. So, everything seems to be down a little bit, except for The X Factor which is down a lot. On Sunday night Strictly's competition included ITV's Surprise Surprise (which, bafflingly, pulled in 4.4 million crush victims of society), BBC2's Obama: What Happened to Hope? (1.1 million) and Channel Four's X-Men movie rerun (1.5 million). The X Factor was up against BBC1's Antiques Roadshow (5.9 million) and Channel Four's How Britain Worked (1.4 million). Downton faced Andrew Marr's History of the World (2.5 million - a definite scheduling disaster for the Beeb despite the quality of the programme itself), BBC2's excellent Felix Baumgartner documentary Space Dive (1.6 million) and the latest, luscious, episode of Channel Four's US import Homeland (two million). On Saturday night Strictly was up against ITV's vile New You've Been Framed! (2.6 million) and the odious, risible Take Me Out (3.3 million). Competition for The X Factor included BBC1's Merlin (5.3 million) and Casualty (four million) and BBC2's The Late Great Eric Sykes documentary (1.8 million). So, to sum up then, Strictly is now regularly beating its rival on both Saturdays and Sundays in the overnights and ending up higher in the consolidated final ratings too. The X Factor is, in addition, no longer the number show of the week even on ITV, playing second fiddle to Downton Abbey. How times have changed, and quickly. At the end of one of the various - and increasing - tabloid pieces about there being 'a crisis at The X Factor' on Monday morning, there was a very interesting line: 'ITV are actively looking for a replacement for The X Factor.' This could be complete rubbish, of course, but The X Factor's contract with ITV is up for renewal next year and ITV head-honcho Peter Fincham is rumoured to have been 'playing hard ball' with Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads over a possible new contract. Time will tell, it usually does.

And, speaking of Homeland, I refer dear blog readers to the excellent Keith Watson in the Metro and his review of the latest episode: 'There was a worry when the credits rolled on last week's Homeland (C4). After Carrie’s explosion at Brody - "you're a traitor and a terrorist and now it's time you paid for that" – where did we have left to go? Surely a show that had been fuelled by knife-edge tension had fatally blown its cover. It felt like a finale though we were only four episodes in. Unmasking Brody and watching him squirm might have appeased America's patriot lobby but there was a danger it would take the wind out of Homeland's dramatic sails. Amazingly, though I'd have happily tagged along with Brody's rise through the political ranks for several more episodes, the change of course worked a treat. Homeland is strongest when Carrie and Brody (Claire Danes and Damian Lewis) are circling each other like wounded animals and to have them squaring off in an interrogation room, a confrontation that took the lion's share of the action, was a masterclass in mixed emotions. "You broke my heart you know," she told him. "Was that easy for you, was that fun?" If we weren't sure whether to believe her or not, what hope did Brody have? Yet even though he's in the tightest spot he's ever wriggled into – including the hell-hole cave where it all started – it's impossible to shake the feeling that Brody still has more skins to shed before we get to the sinew and bone of where he's really at. That's the hope and the hook of Homeland. What did Downton Abbey have? A cricket match.' What he said.

Here's the consolidated, final ratings for the Top Twenty Eight programmes week-ending 28 October 2012:-
1 Downton Abbey - Sun ITV 11.38m
2 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 10.59m
3 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 9.54m
4 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.44m
5 New Tricks - Mon BBC1 - 8.53m
6 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.49m
7 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 8.16m
8 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.26m
9 Merlin - Sat BBC1 - 6.86m
10 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 6.00m
11 Panorama Jimmy Savile: What the BBC Knew - Mon BBC1 - 5.96m
12 The Paradise - Tues BBC1 - 5.82m
13 Brazil with Michael Palin - Wed BBC1 - 5.74m
14 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 5.73m
15 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.50m
16 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.40m
17 Watchdog - Wed BBC1 - 5.35m
18 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.17m
19 DCI Banks - Wed ITV - 5.15m*
20 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.75m
21 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.74m
22 UEFA Champions League Live - Tues ITV - 4.64m
23 Surprise, Surprise - Sun ITV - 4.46m*
24= The ONE Show - Tues BBC1 - 4.45m
24= The Graham Norton Show - Fri BBC1 - 4.45
26= Hunted - Thurs BBC1 - 4.35
26= All Star Mr & Mrs - Wed ITV - 4.35*
28 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 4.30
Those programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures.

Life on Mars is, reportedly, to be remade for Russian TV. The BBC detective series - which saw detective Sam Tyler (John Simm) transported from 2006 to 1973 - will be renamed The Dark Side of the Moon (or, you know, Темная сторона Луны if you want to be strictly accurate) and will be set in 1979. The remake will see a tough Moscow cop wake up to find the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in power, and government youth organisation Young Pioneers still active. Whereas the BBC series focused on the rough and ready police culture of the 1970s versus the very different ways of modern Britain, the Russian producers admitted they had to reflect an entirely different atmosphere due to the influence of the Soviet regime. Interesting idea. 'In the British series, he goes from our time to that one and sees a harshness that does not work. He is a decent guy and opposes it,' said producer Alexander Tsekalo. 'In our story, it is all absolutely the other way round. He finds himself in the 1970s and behaves with a harshness that is not appropriate for a policeman of the Soviet period.' Under the strict Soviet regime, police occupied a fairly minor role and were not nearly as powerful as the security forces such as the KGB. Today's Russian force is severely underfunded and has been accused of bribe-taking. Of course, that sort of thing would never go on in Britain. Other modern Russian officers are said to engage in drunken shootings and the torture of suspects. 'He [is used to being able to] push his way into an apartment without a search order, break down the doors, twist people's arms and ask one-sided questions,' Tsekalo explained. 'They keep telling him, "Have you gone mad? You're unbalanced. You mustn't do that. We don't do stuff like that." We worked with the reality that we live in,' he added, 'because today the authorities are harsher in some ways than they were then.' The Russian launch marks the second time that Life on Mars has been adapted for a foreign audiences. In 2008, a - really rather decent, at least until the last few minutes of the final episode - US version was broadcast on ABC. it was cancelled after seventeen episodes. Sixteen and three quarters of them, were quite good.

Incidentally, dear blog reader. Вы окружены вооруженными ублюдки. That's Russian for 'you are surrounded by armed bastards.'
Next ...

Phillip Schofield has got into an uncharacteristic Twitter storm branding some twatterers 'food Nazis' after they 'rounded on him' for eating a guinea pig. Not a live one, you understand, not even cruel, wicked, mercilessly evil Phillip Schofield would stoop to such a level. No, rest assured, it had been killed, dear blog reader. We must presume, humanely. Or, you know, guinea pigily, anyway. it turned out that the guinea pig was something which was served to Schofield when he was in Peru where guinea pig is considered something of a delicacy. One imagines that he turned the also offered gopher down. Too many bad memories. The Sun reports that the This Morning presenter told his 1.95 million followers about the dish and posted photographs to prove it. When he told them it wasn't a pet, he was asked by one follower whether he would eat cat or dog in China. 'Why not? I like to try what the locals eat. Bloody hate food Nazis.' Ooo, get her!

The prime minister is said to be taking 'a close interest' into claims of a child abuse ring involving a Tory grandee, his spokesman has said. The comment comes as Downing Street confirmed it was investigating the claims with the Welsh Office. 'We are looking at the issue actively,' the spokesman said. 'The prime minister takes a close interest in the [Newsnight] report and the allegations. We are very clear that these allegations need to be properly investigated and we need to get to the bottom of precisely what happened.' Steve Messham has claimed that a - still living - Tory MP was among those in a paedophile ring operating in North Wales during the 1970s and 1980s. 'You were just sexually abused. Drink would be involved. It was basically rape, but it wasn't just him. There would be other people involved as well,' he told BBC2's Newsnight programme. 'I was taken to him by a carer. Cars would pull up outside the home and you were taken. There'd be a Porsche, there'd be a Jag, and you were taken.' Children's commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, has called for a fresh inquiry to investigate what took place. A probe published in 2000 uncovered appalling abuse at Bryn Estyn, a care home for boys, and at about forty other care homes. It referred to 'an important public figure' but did not investigate further. An initial investigation into allegations of abuse in the early 1990s by Clwyd county council ended up being pulped by the local authority. The Tory politician facing these accusations has, apparently, been widely identified on the Internet despite having his name excluded from the BBC exposé which brought the case to light. He - whoever he is - has, according to the Daily Torygraph, threatened to sue anyone who dares to name him in connection with this dreadful malarkey. So, if you're one of those who've been speculating on Twitter as to the chap's identity, I'd be checking your letter box round about now just to see if you've been served or not.
Meanwhile, David Cameron - before he scampered off to the Middle East to do a bit of arms trading - has 'acknowledged in private' that he may be sitting on a further caché of - potentially explosive - e-mails and texts to and from well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks. This after what is described as 'a limited search' was carried out for the Leveson inquiry. The prime minister faced fresh embarrassment over his links with the former News International chief executive as it became clear only a handful of his communications were searched for the inquiry, set up after the phone-hacking scandal. Cameron and his aides looked for e-mails and texts with News International or News Corporation employees only if there was a reference to the BSkyB bid in the communications. He checked his personal and office phone. The prime minister believes it is wrong of critics, such as the former Labour Europe minister Chris Bryant, to say he is hiding a secret caché of communications because the search requested by the Leveson inquiry yielded no texts or e-mails. An alleged No 10 'source' allegedly said: 'Chris Bryant has made a series of claims that are ridiculous.' But Cameron knows that a wider search could uncover more texts and e-mails. In his written statement to the Leveson enquiry, the prime minister made clear the limited nature of the request for texts. 'In terms of electronic communications, as requested, I have looked for text messages between myself and representatives of News Corporation or News International in relation to the BSkyB bid,' Cameron said. 'I have not found any such texts on my personal phone or office phone.' He faced further discomfort when the Scum Mail on Sunday - who really seem to have it in for him at the moment - published a text from well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks in which she admitted that she had 'cried twice' during his party conference speech. That's nothing. Most of us were crying continuously. She wrote: 'Brilliant speech. I cried twice. Will love "working together."' Oh, we're sure you did, Rebekah, we're sure you did. The paper also published a rather more innocuous text sent by the prime minister to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks about a horse he rode in company with her husband millionaire Old Etonian Charlie, one of Cameron's oldest friends. 'The horse CB put me on. Fast, unpredictable and hard to control but fun.' The texts were handed to the Leveson inquiry by Brooks, as were those published by the inquiry in the summer. These revealed Cameron signed some of his texts to Brooks 'LOL', which she claimed he believed meant 'Lots of love', as opposed to 'Laugh out loud.' Bryant tweeted of the new revelations: 'These new texts are the tip of an iceberg.' The Scum Mail on Sunday reported that Bryant had claimed to be in contact with a Downing Street 'mole' involved in search who is said to have described the texts as 'salacious.' Bryant told Cameron in the Commons on Wednesday: 'There is a stash of embarrassing e-mails, isn't there? Adam Smith had to publish every single one of his e-mails and ended up resigning. Why will the prime minister not publish all his e-mails?' Cameron declined to respond to Bryant's point as he claimed that he is 'awaiting an apology' from Bryant after the Mp allegedly broke an embargo to leak information from the inquiry. Cameron also stuck his tongue out and added 'yah-boo and sucks to you, too.' Allegedly. David Willetts, the universities minister, admitted the relationship between politicians and some newspapers became too close. He told The Sunday Politics show on BBC1: 'The prime minister has always complied with every request for relevant information from Leveson. Now, of course, we wait and see what Lord [Justice] Leveson proposes.'

Meanwhile, Charlie Brooks is taking part in the next series of I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want), according to tabloid reports. But, before you get too excited, this refers to Charlie Brooks the EastEnders actress who played Janine Butcher rather than millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks, husband of well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and especially close pal of the PM. He, obviously, couldn't take part in I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) since it is filmed in Australia and he can't currently leave the country without permission as he's awaiting trail on charges of criminally perverting the course of justice. Charges which he denies.
The Mirra also claims that former boxing champion David Haye, former Doctor Who actor Colin Baker, former Birds of a Feather actress Linda Robson and former Ladette to Lady cook Rosemary Schrager will make the trip to Australia for the latest series of ITV's jungle-themed reality show. Emphasis, in each case, on the word 'former' there, I'd've said. Oh Colin, how could you? Have you no dignity?

And also in 'news nobody gives an utter crap about', Jason Gardiner is said to be in 'final talks' for a return to Twatting About on Ice. The choreographer - who attracted attention for his no-holds-barred critique (and general rudeness) during a six-year stint on the ITV celebrity ice-skating show - left the panel last winter, saying that he had 'loved every part' of his time on the show. However an alleged 'show insider' allegedly told the Sun: 'Jason is coming back and is excited. He's missed being on the show. But his return will not necessarily mean that Louie [Spence] gets the shove. He and Jason are great pals and have very different approaches to judging. The show could do with a boost, because ratings this year were massively down on the previous series. Whether Jason can save the show is anyone's guess, but he will certainly bring back the controversy.' Yeah. Whatever.

ITV has been censured by Ofcom after it broadcast an episode of The Only Way Is Essex deemed unsuitable for children in a lunchtime slot on a Sunday. The fact that it was also unsuitable for anybody with half a brain in their head or more was, entirely, beside the point. The episode, shown on ITV2 at 13:00 on 12 August, featured conversations between characters involving 'adult themes and sexual references.' Ofcom said the show broke scheduling rules put in place to protect children from unsuitable material. ITV said it would no longer broadcast the show in weekend daytime slots. It also said it would not schedule it in school holiday daytime slots, when children are more likely to view it unaccompanied. During the episode, characters spoke about their sex lives and excessive drinking. The half-hour programme - which is usually broadcast at ten o'clock at night - also had to be edited with bleeps to mask offensive language twenty times. ITV argued the conversations broadcast in the show were 'not sexually explicit' and the twenty language edits 'were not excessive in the context of the programme' following, allegedly, 'real people.' Ofcom said the prominence of sexual discussion and the frequency of masked language made the programme unsuitable for children and not suitable for broadcast at half-past-one in the afternoon on a Sunday during the school holidays. Elsewhere, Channel Four was also found to have broken the same Ofcom rules after broadcasting a speed dating series on a Saturday morning. Love Shaft (no sniggering at the back, please), set in a lift, follows a contestant who is presented with a series of potential dating partners as the lift stops at different floors. Ofcom received complaints over episodes broadcast on its T4 strand at 10:35 on 2 and 9 June and 09:50 on 23 June which all featured 'sexual references.' Like, for instance, 'would you like a look down my Love Shaft' perhaps? One episode showed a contestant lying naked on a sofa with only a pineapple covering his genitals while his potential date painted a picture of him. Other episodes showed male contestants used crude language to describe their ideal woman and parts of their body. Channel Four said the tone of the programme - originally broadcast in a 19:30 timeslot - was 'cheeky, witty and full of entendre and risqué banter' and would not have gone 'beyond the generally accepted standards' of its T4 audience. Which, frankly, says more about the shockingly banal nature of Channel Four these days than it does about anything else. However Ofcom said the words used in the show were 'plainly sexual' conveying a 'continuing sexual theme' unsuitable for children and consequently, to be broadcast at that time on a Saturday morning.

Rival forces are massing as the countdown begins for Lord Justice Leveson's publication of his report on the future of press regulation later this month. Hacked Off, intent on firm press curbs with statutory underpinning, has largely had the field to itself hitherto, thanks in part to TV-friendly representatives such as Hugh Grant and Charlotte Church and last week its campaign continued with twenty six academics rejecting editors' defence of self-regulation. But this alliance of celebs, broadsheet hacks, lawyers, dons and MPs now faces a challenge from the recently launched Free Speech Network, which has backing from press trade bodies, editors and two ministers, rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove and complete non-entity Francis Maude. In something of a coup for it, the current issue of The Spectator is a Fight for Free Speech special, with a cover showing Britannia bound and gagged. What is, as yet, lacking is a star spokesman or woman to match Grant, Church or Steve Coogan, but one potentially emerges amidst The Spectator's many voices supporting unshackled journalism, with London mayor and hairdo Boris Johnson arguing that 'to rinse the gutters of public life you need a gutter press.' Johnson was, meanwhile, Gruniad-bashing again last week - so, he's clearly not the complete buffoon he sometimes appears to be - adding to the puzzle of what the paper has ever done to the mayor to provoke such a vendetta. Exist, I'm thinking and, to be honest, this blogger is with Boris on that score. But, seriously Boris, what's the Gruniad ever done to you? Not sacking him for making up a quote: that was The Times. Not revealing your alleged phone chat with a pal who was, allegedly, planning to beat up an enemy: that was the Daily Scum Mail, with the Evening Standard close behind. Nor did the Gruniad make the running on your alleged affair with Petronella Wyatt: that was the Scum Mail on Sunday. Nor revealing your alleged home visits to a female journalist to, allegedly, discuss higher education policy in more depth: the Scum of the World had that story shortly before in was shut down in disgrace and ignominy. Nor did the Gruniad allege Boris had an affair with an art adviser which produced a child: the Mirra was behind that little gem. Nor did they accuse him of, allegedly, lying or threatening to expose a media executive's private life, like a certain former Torygraph owner (Conrad Black) and editor (Max Hastings) who shall remain nameless respectively did. It's mostly right-wing newspapers which appear to be Boris's real enemies.

And, speaking of right-wing newspaper, one may have belatedly sensed the hidden - thoroughly sick - agenda behind the Daily Scum Mail's recent attacks on Jeremy Paxman for that most 1950s of crimes, 'not wearing a tie', which reached a new level of loopiness last week with a op-ed piece by stone-radge fruitcake Quentin Letts lambasting Paxo even though by then the Newsnight anchor had reverted to wearing one. Could there perhaps be someone close to Paul Dacre who is normally tie-less, despite holding a position of authority, but whom Dacre is loathed to criticise directly?

The recently announced ITV sitcom starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi has, it seems, been formally commissioned. Note, however, that the title appears to have changed from Vicious Old Queens to, simply, Vicious. The series - from Will & Grace writer Gary Janetti - will star the pair as ageing partners who have lived together in a small Covent Garden flat for nearly fifty years. Retired actor Freddie (McKellen) and ex-barman Stuart (Jacobi) - joined by their feisty best friend Violet (Frances De La Tour) - now spend their days reading books, walking their dog and bickering with each other. However, the trio's life together is turned upside down when young man, Ash, becomes their new upstairs neighbour. ITV's Myfanwy Moore said: 'ITV is thrilled this exciting and bold sitcom, with stellar performers and writing talent is to join the increasing slate of new-look comedy shows on the channel.' Gary Janetti added: 'I'm incredibly excited to be working with ITV and this unbelievable cast!'

Reality TV regulars have been targeted by a notorious Bristol conman looking to convince investors he is a successful media producer. Selva Carmichael, fifty one, reportedly posed as Silva Michael, boss of WorldScreen Group. He filmed with Big Brother non-entities Mario Marconi and Lisa Appleton for a show which never aired and posed as the manager of The X Factor singer Chico. Carmichael, who is now being sued by one investor for more than forty grand, declined to comment on the allegations. The BBC's Inside Out programme claimed to have discovered Carmichael also failed to pay celebrity-backed charity the Five Stars Appeal thousands of pounds worth of promised donations. Carmichael, who hit the headlines a decade ago when he was jailed for running a major Spanish property scam based in Bristol, socialised with a number of z-list 'celebrities' and wealthy donors at events held by the Manchester-based charity. He then used his showbusiness contacts to convince people to invest tens of thousands of pounds in WorldScreen Group, telling them it was a successful media company. Carmichael, who is also known as Selva Narashiman and now has a family home in Buckinghamshire, promised reportedly 'a quick return' but the money simply disappeared. The X Factor contestant Chico, who refused to get involved with Carmichael, said: 'What he wanted from me was the contacts and friends that I had, so he could build a roster of celebrity friends that he could actually use to lure rich, unsuspecting victims.' Big Brother contestants Appleton and Marconi spent months filming a show with Carmichael called Lisa and Mario: Their Journey, footage from which has only ever appeared on the Internet. Appleton said: 'Knowing Selva Carmichael now, he's a compulsive liar, lives in a deluded land and is a serial, serial conman.' A serial serial conman, presumably, being much more than a serial conman. Twice as bad, in fact. One WorldScreen Group investor is currently suing Carmichael and the company for breach of contract and the return of more than forty two thousand smackers. Carmichael, who likes to be known as the 'Silver Fox', promised The Five Stars Appeal a twenty three thousand knicker luxury yacht holiday as an auction prize at an event last year as well as making a ten thousand quid bid, both of which never materialised. A spokeswoman said: 'We entrusted Selva Carmichael as we do with all of our good-willed supporters. We severed ties and took legal action against him, at no cost to the charity, to try to recover as much money as possible.' Carmichael has failed to respond to inquiries made by the BBC but Inside Out said it had discovered he is now serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence for an unrelated money-laundering offence.

It sounds like a dream come true. An unknown comedian starts up an online conversation with a BBC comedy producer – and just a few months later his sitcom hits the small screen. And, when Scottish comic Stephen Higgins told the story to his local newspaper last week, he claimed: 'I am really proud of it and happy others will get to see what I worked so hard on. All I really want to do is make people laugh and this is just an amazing way of doing that.' But there seems to be one tiny fly in Higgins's ointment: the BBC denies all knowledge of any such deal. Higgins told the Bellshill Speaker that his show Skoolies, based three lads who live in the same tower block and attended the same school, was 'due to air next July.' And he said he had landed a job as a comedy writer, beginning in January. He told the paper: 'It all came about with me on Twitter just talking to the BBC Comedy department. My script came up and comedy producer Jon Aird asked me if he could read it and I sent him it in an e-mail. He got back to me two days later telling me that he thought it was great and asked me to come in for a chat about it. When I got there they told me they wanted to buy it and I accepted. They also gave me a job as a comedy writer.' He later told the Chortle website that the contract, signed after meeting Aird in Glasgow, was for three years, and would also involve him working on other comedy shows. When Chortle subsequently contacted Aird – who is based in London and is a producer of BBC online content, rather than broadcast – he referred them to the BBC press office. Who said: 'There is absolutely no truth in it. Jon Aird has never met him, has never been sent [or read] a script, we have not commissioned him, we have not employed him.' We await further developments with something approaching torpor.

Geordie Shore regulars Charlotte Crosby and Holly Hagan have said that they will never ask for any of their x-rated antics to be censored, though they would feel 'a bit iffy' about viewers seeing them commit bestiality. Which is something of a relief.

Noted theatre director Sir Peter Hall has apologised to Downton Abbey actress Laura Carmichael after he 'unintentionally disrupted' her West End début. Audiences at the opening night of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya on Friday reportedly heard Sir Peter speaking in the stalls during the play's final scene. Newspaper reports over the weekend claimed that Sir Peter, eighty one, had been 'heckling' the production. But the theatre veteran admitted on Monday that he was 'disorientated' after falling asleep. Ah, right. 'Tired and emotional.' 'I am mortified that I unintentionally disrupted the final scene of Uncle Vanya and I have sent a personal note to Laura Carmichael offering my apologies,' Sir Peter said in a statement. 'I enjoyed the evening, and her performance, immensely, and I cannot stress too strongly that my remarks were in no way directed at her or the production.' The distinguished director added: 'Being rather aged I dropped off for a moment and on being woken by my wife I was briefly disorientated. Remarks made in the resulting confusion were not in any way related to Uncle Vanya which I think is a very fine production with a marvellous company of actors.' Carmichael, who plays Lady Edith Crawley in ITV's Downton Abbey, was making her first appearance in the West End in the new version of Chekhov's classic at the Vaudeville Theatre. The actress continued to deliver her emotional closing speech despite the disruption. The production, directed by Lindsay Posner, stars Ken Stott in the title role alongside Anna Friel and Samuel West. Nica Burns, owner of the Vaudeville Theatre said: 'I was delighted that Peter Hall and a host of great actors - Idris Elba, Rhys Ifans and stars from Downton Abbey - attended the opening night of Uncle Vanya. I left the auditorium with Sir Peter and Lady Hall and he was applauding enthusiastically and shouting "Bravo!" He clearly had a great evening.' Sir Peter founded the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1961 and was its artistic director for eight years. He went on to spend elven years as director of the National Theatre.

Broadcast on Mondays at 9pm on Discovery and Discovery HD from 5 November, How We Invented the World will take a look at the five inventions which define the modern world: mobile phones, cars, planes, skyscrapers and guns. The new action-packed four-part series celebrates the people and connections that made the inventions possible.

A Swedish woman who was ordered to pay damages to a bus driver she had allegedly attacked with a banana has successfully appealed the decision. The forty six-year-old from Malmö had her fine reduced after initially being charged with 'causing bodily harm.' With a banana. According to thelocal.se, the bus driver originally claimed that the woman had 'launched an unprovoked attack with a piece of fruit' as he stopped to let some passengers off the vehicle. As people disembarked, she allegedly ran on to the bus, started shouting and then hit him with the banana without warning. Well, they can be rock hard, them bananas. They're full of potassium, you know. 'She hit me right in the face with the half-eaten banana. I had banana all over me, on my tie, my shirt and my eye,' he told the Daily Aftonbladet last November. The driver added that he had found the experience 'particularly humiliating' as it was witnessed by the crowd of remaining passengers. He also claimed that, later in the day, he had experienced pain in his eye and visited the doctor. The physician went on to diagnose vitreous detachment, which he said was caused 'by the banana incident.' Why he didn't, simply, eat the banana, thus rendering his alleged attacker helpless, he didn't say. The woman refuted the claims and said that the driver had stopped the bus inches away from her and her daughter, who she was teaching to drive. She said that when she ran on to the bus to complain about how he had nearly hit their car, the banana simply slipped out of her hand. Ah, the old 'it slipped out of my hand' defence. Much used to footballers who've glassed somebody in a night-club. 'It just slipped out of my hand, your honour. Honest.' Lund District Court had, initially, found in the driver's favour after a witness report supported his version of events. The woman was then sentenced to pay a fine as well as damages of six thousand two hundred kronor. At the time of the ruling, the woman said it was 'unreasonable that a banana could cause this much damage' and vowed to appeal the decision. This week, the appeals court agreed with her assessment and changed the sentence, giving her a significantly smaller fine and reducing the damages payout to just six hundred kronor.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which is this boogietastic slab of proto-funk from yer actual Kenny Lynch. Yes, that Kenny Lynch.

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