Saturday, November 03, 2012

It's All Right Now (In Fact, It's A Gas)

This very week saw the read-through for episode twelve of the new series of Doctor Who, written by yer actual Neil Gaiman. The writer commented on the experience on Twitter: 'Amazing hectic couple of days and stressed Doctor Who post-table-read rewrite in progress,' he wrote. 'On BBC legal advice Lampwick is no more.' Probably just as well. The read-through also gave Neil the chance to meet new companion Jenna-Louise Coleman (see photographic evidence of the couple getting on very well). yer actual Matt Smith praised Gaiman's script at the recent London MCM Expo: 'It's very different, but again I think it will be a fan's favourite because, without giving anything away, it just will be. Because there's something in it.' Well, one would certainly hope so. 'Neil's brilliant ideas will always add a level to Doctor Who, which will be interesting,' concluded Smudger. One of the guest stars for the episode will be Tamzin Outhwaite, who according to her CV will be playing the role of Captain Alice. A former EastEnders actress, other lead roles for Tamizin include Red Cap (2003), Hotel Babylon (2006), The Fixer (2008) and the under-rated but short-lived Paradox (2009). Asked about her role by Flicks & The City earlier in October, Tamzin said: 'I'd like to play a baddie, but I haven't done a goodie for a while, so it'll be nice to play a goodie.' Graeme Garden, hopefully, rather than Bill Oddie. Cos that would be terrible. Another actor confirmed as being in the episode is Calvin Dean, whose will, apparently, play a character called Ha-Ha. The actor was critically acclaimed for his role as Darren Mullet in Tormented. Regular monster and extra Matthew Doman has also been involved in the show of late. On Tuesday he said: 'Sitting in the changing rooms ready to don my new monster costume for the Who.' He later added: 'Our Monster is coming close to the final wrap on this episode of Doctor Who.' Episode six is currently undergoing editing, with director Colm McCarthy indicating that there's about two weeks to go before the episode will be completed. He commented: 'Got into the edit at 6AM. Started shouting "INCEPTION CAT!" at the editor at 6.05AM. Directing is hard.' Meanwhile, Rachael Stirling talked about her recent filming experience in Doctor Who with her mother, Dame Diana Rigg: 'We filmed Doctor Who in the summer, which was amazing. It's a juggernaut, I got to see all sorts of secret things I can't tell you about or I'll have to shoot you! Working with my mum was funny - I think it was a good experience for both of us, we really loved it; I was very proud of her and she said likewise, and that something we'll always remember. Working with Matt was gorgeous, he's brilliant, he's got that wonderful energy, I think he's a really admirable, brilliant man.'

Meanwhile, Smudger his very self was a guest on Radio 2's The Steve Wright Show on Monday afternoon, during which he managed to avoid giving away anything even remotely important concerning the forthcoming Christmas Special. 'I can say it's set in Victorian England, we meet a Doctor who's been profoundly changed by the experiences before from losing the Ponds and into his life walks Jenna-Louise Coleman's character and off they go on new adventures,' he said. All of which we knew anyway! Talking about the series in general, Matt added: 'I think that The Doctor is the same character fundamentally, that's why we tune in to watch the show, because there's a mad man who turns up and saves the universe with a ball of string and a toaster, and that's kind of it. That's why it's been going for fifty years - at its core and its heartbeat that's what it's about. Of course it is going to evolve with CGI and now you get a bit more culture perhaps. I think sometimes there can be too much CG and 3D and all that sort of stuff can get a bit overwhelming. Hopefully you can be a bit more inventive with the stories and actually go and create space, or you can go back to Victorian England in a way that forty or fifty years ago was more difficult to do.' Looking to next year, he said: 'We're very fortunate to have Steven Moffat, who's a complete genius, he really is. I've just read episode one of the next season and you think and there are some brilliant ideas in it, there's a moment in it which involves wheels - that is an actual honest exclusive! - and when you watch it you'll go ahhh. It's him, being brilliant.'

One of Smudger's predecessors has also been talking about the forthcoming Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary: 'Every day I check the phone to see if Steven Moffat has called me!' said Peter Davison this week. 'I don't know what's happening next year, I have nothing to report. I'm sure it will be something fantastic. But I don't know what. I think if [the classic Doctors] aren't invited, I'm going to make my own rival video. I'll do my own fiftieth anniversary special. Colin Baker's prepared to work for nothing. 'Meanwhile, the much-anticipated docudrama being made to co-incide with the anniversary seems to have - at least partially - fallen foul of recent revelations, at least according to the latest edition of Private Eye: 'As the sound of stable doors slamming shut resounds around the BBC, the Jimmy Savile scandal is having some increasingly bizarre after-effects. A one-off docudrama about the creation of Doctor Who scripted by Mark Gatiss is in production, to be broadcast in November 2013 in celebration of the programme's fiftieth anniversary. Its makers have just been ordered to excise all scenes set in Television Centre dressing rooms,' the Eye claims.

So, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self only went into town on Friday morning to catch an early showing of Skyfall, didn't he? And, he rather enjoyed it - except for the fact that, in common with the last four or five Bond movies, it was about twenty minutes too long. At least. Possibly thirty. I dunno about you, dear blog reader, but watching a movie which is two hours and forty odd minutes long these days inevitably makes yer actual Keith Telly Topping's bladder cry out in torment at the very prospect. Sure enough, seventy minutes into the movie, just as Bond was arriving at Raoul Silva's sinister island lair, yer actual Keith Telly Topping suddenly found himself absolutely busting for a slash and, thus, missed two or three minutes of 'good evening Meezda Bondt' shenanigans whilst he nipped to the loo and back. But, anyway, having got necessary toiletry arrangements out of the way, yer actual Keith Telly Topping rather enjoyed the film. The script was a bit scattergun, to be fair (it's actually about three different films in one with plots and subplot running off in all directions) and any one of half-a-dozen of those subplots could easily have been jettisoned to shorten the length. Albeit, one of the most obviously non-essential, the MI6-political shenanigans, was really rather good. But the set-pieces were, as ever, marvellously staged. It was well-acted by everybody you'd expect it to be well-acted by - Albert Finney, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes et al. Rory Kinnear was particularly good as a stubbornly loyal Bill Tanner and Ben Whishaw's splendidly dry and sarcastic Q is going to go down a storm with broader-minded fans and create a shit-storm with others. He got my favourite line of the entire movie: 'What were you expecting?' he asks Bond after he's given the Commander a gun and a small radio tracker. 'An exploding pen? We don't do that sort of thing any more, 007!' And yer man Danny was, of course, great in it. Good title sequence as well, albeit playing over the worst Bond theme in half-a-dozen movies at least (and, taking into account that number includes both Sheryl Crow and Madonna, that really is saying something). Sam Mendes direction is also, of course, terrific. And, the DB5 was back as well. Overall, Skyfall is, pretty much, exactly what you'd expect from a Twenty First Century James Bond film: slick, and classy but never camp. Totally respectful of all its traditions but - on many levels - bang up to date. Serious in its action sequences and reasonably complex in its character motivations but, with the sense of humour which hasn't always been evident of late. Best Bond movie since Casino Royale. Second best since Goldeneye.

Giles Coren - the divine Victoria's brother, just in case you didn't know - is no stranger to the odd furious rant; in fact, there's a 'best of' selection at the Gruniad Morning Star. But in the latest incident, The Times coulmnist decided instead of getting mad, he would get even. Yer man Giles, you see, had written a piece about the latest Bond film for The Times - a very good and rather glowing piece, as it happens - only to be told apparently that the paper had 'too much Bond' (a bit like yer actual Keith Telly Topping's bladder, seventy minutes into the movie on Friday!) so could he possibly write about something else, instead? So he did. But he liked his Bond column so much that he found another outlet for it – the recipe blog written by his wife, the journalist Esther Walker. It looks a bit incongruous among the tips on how to make whoopie pies (whatever they are) and surrendering onions ('a slow, but pleasing task', apparently) but has gone down something a treat with visitors to the site. Plus, unusually for a Coren column, this time you don't have to pay to read it. Giles headlines his review, The Piece They Tried To Ban. Walker explained: 'It's such a good piece, it deserves to be read and tweeted, and to bust out from behind the paywall will make him so very chipper. I promise this won't be a regular thing.'

It is, genuinely, to be hoped that odious oily slime bucket (and drag), disgraced former tabloid editor and US chat show flop Piers Morgan wasn't watching any BBC comedy shows on Friday night as they seemed to be lining-up to put the boot into him. That seems to be turning into Britain's national sport at the moment. Which is fair enough, this is Piers Morgan we're talking about after all, a man so full of his own pompous self-importance he could certainly do with having his towering ego given a - metaphorical - good shoeing every now and then. Firstly, on Have I Got News For You, guest host Jezza Clarkson, who once famously united all of the peoples of the world in harmony, celebration and joy when he gave Morgan a good hard fist in the mush, was doing a round of the popular topical news quiz on Italian politics. 'This is the news that Silvio Berlusconi has been found guilty of fraud and sentenced to be banga-banga'd up,' said yer man Jezza between pithy quips about how fast the Toyota Prius goes (if you push it off a cliff). 'Berlusconi is a one powerful media magnate sentenced to prison for fraud who insists on his innocence despite all evidence to the contrary. So, the big question is, next week will he be on Ian's team, or Paul's?' The subject of Berlusconi's fall from, ahem, grace also allowed Jeremy to ask who was likely to be the new darling of the centre right in Italy. Alessandra Mussolini came the reply and much fun was had with not only things she's said (in 2006 she responded to claims by the transgender Italian MP candidate Vladimir Luxuria that she was a fascist with the reply 'Meglio fascista che frocio' ('It is better to be a fascist than a pouf.' 'Wasn't that Simon & Garfunkel song?' asked Clarkson) but also with this photograph.
'There's Italian politics right there,' noted Canadian humourist Tony Law whilst Paul Merton added: 'Her grandfather was hung from a lamp post. She looks like she's seen standing under one!' None of that has anything to do with Piers Morgan, of course, it merely demonstrates the kind of rip-roaring form HIGNFY is on at the moment. As, indeed, does Jezza's comments after a brief section on the Daily Scum Mail's sudden panicky obsession with saving Britain's ash-trees from a deadly (and, probably, asylum seeking) virus. 'If the Daily Mail is that worried about the senseless destruction of trees, they can always close down their newspaper!' Then, it was Morgan's turn. 'The Mirra's report said "Mr Berlusconi showed a natural capacity for crime." Much like one of their former editors, really!' noted Jeremy as another of Morgan's bêtes noires, Ian Hislop, found this all really amusing. 'Is that libellous?' asked Clarkson to someone off camera, presumably to the BBC's lawyer. 'No, it's true isn't it!'
Then, just fifty odd minutes later over on BBC2, there was a very fine episode of Qi well under way and Stephen Fry was explaining the horrible things that the parasitic jewel wasp does with cockroaches (it involves stinging a cockroach and placing it in, effectively, a zombie state, then walling it up and using it as a host for its larvae which, when hatched, with eat the cockroach, alive, from the inside). As he reached the climax of his story about the miserable existence of this poor, pathetic cockroach, John Sessions noted: 'if only you could do that with Piers Morgan!'
Now you come to mention it, Johnny, yes, it is. Makes one wonder what Morgan can possibly have said which would make him so utterly loathed by so many people. Oh yes, I forgot, just about everything he's ever uttered. Next ...

Channel Four's chief executive, David Abraham, has said the network would not have broadcast controversial Mad Frankie Boyle sketches if it believed for a second that they were racist. Boyle - rightly - won a libel case against the Daily Mirra last month after it labelled him 'a racist comedian' based on jokes from Boyle's Channel Four show Tramadol Nights and the BBC2 satirical show, Mock The Week. 'We would not have broadcast those sketches if we believed them to be racist,' Abraham said in a speech at the Free Word Centre on freedom of expression in TV in London on Thursday night, on the eve of Channel Four's thirtieth anniversary. 'The jury agreed as Ofcom had already done earlier. The Daily Mirra disagreed but in an important outcome for comedians in this country, they lost the case.' And lots of luv-er-lee wonga into the bargain, it should be noted. Which was funny. However, Abraham admitted that the broadcaster had 'crossed the line' with one of Boyle's jokes in Tramadol Nights, broadcast in December 2010, about Katie Price's disabled son Harvey which was later heavily criticised by Ofcom. Abraham had approved the joke ahead of transmission and defended Boyle during the media regulator's investigation last year. Abraham admitted to MPs on the Commons culture, media and sport select committee in June 2011 that the Price gag had been referred to him 'amongst many jokes in the series which were pushing the boundaries.' On Thursday night, the Channel Four chief executive described Boyle's comments about Price's son as a 'darkly satirical joke directed at Jordan. Ofcom did not share our view and concluded that the joke appeared to directly target and mock the mental and physical disabilities of her eight-year-old son which was highly offensive to the audience,' Abraham said. 'They concluded that the case involved an erroneous decision on a matter of editorial judgement on the channel's part which we accepted and for which we apologised.' Abraham said: 'We have sought to learn from these experiences whilst also avoiding the danger of a creative "chilling effect" through our building.' He added: 'Occasional offence seems inevitable given the remit to test boundaries and when cultural tastes are always fluid. Channel Four's producers have often exposed the differences between generations in terms of what is and isn't acceptable at any point in time. It is perhaps likely that our culture of risk taking will also on occasion take us over the line. But I have also learned that even the appearance of doing so for its own sake does not sit comfortably with the spirit of our remit.' Abraham also said that the future of investigative journalism was under threat at a time of straitened economic circumstances and increasing legal challenges. He warned that the libel laws were 'rather like a knife that can cut both ways – in defence of the truth and of the vulnerable as well as being open to misuse by the powerful. The current scandal around Jimmy Savile reminds us all of both the value and of the challenges surrounding investigative journalism,' he said. 'There remains a very real risk that the appetite for these projects will continue to be challenged both economically and legally and that is why Channel Four News, Dispatches and Unreported World remain such key parts of the Channel Four schedule.' Abraham said Channel Four had spent £1.7m defending a libel action brought by martial arts expert Matt Fiddes, who claimed a documentary about Michael Jackson's family moving to Devon had been faked. The case was withdrawn by the claimant at the high court in June 2010. 'Channel Four is not opposed to "no win no fee" in providing the necessary access to justice for claimants,' said Abraham. 'But we object to claimant firms being entitled to recover grossly inflated uplifts that are often disproportionate to the risk they run in bringing a claim. Often these costs are used to place financial pressure on media defendants to settle and encourage some claimants to bring unmeritous claims since they are not at risk. They also discourage others from reporting the truth in the first place for fear of such lawsuits.'

BSkyB has won a high court trademark battle over the name of its new Internet TV service, Now TV. A high court judge ruled on Friday that BSkyB's Now TV does not infringe the trademark of Hong Kong-based telecoms giant PCCW, which runs a service of the same name in the territory. Mr Justice Arnold also threw out PCCW's claim that BSkyB should pay damages for 'passing off' its Now TV brand. BSkyB launched Now TV in the UK in July this year in a bid to compete directly with digital video on demand services, including Netflix and LoveFilm. PCCW, which is chaired by the media tycoon Richard Li, launched its trademark complaints before BSkyB's Now TV launched. In a three-day trial in London in October, PCCW argued that BSkyB was guilty of passing off its Now TV brand because customers would confuse the two. However, Arnold threw out PCCW's claim on Friday, ruling that the company's registered trademark was invalid and that there was no passing off in the area. The judge said in a written judgment: 'Would Sky's use of the name Now TV for its Internet television service be likely to lead consumers who were familiar with [PCCW's] service to think that Sky's service emanated from the same source or was connected with it? As noted in paragraph eighty seven above, there is no evidence of any actual confusion to date.' He added: 'Even if the [copyright for 'Now'] is valid, Sky have not infringed it.'

Craig Revel Horwood his very self has told the Digital Spy website that he doesn't miss having odious greed bucket (and drag) Alesha Dixon on the BBC1 dance show's judging panel Strictly Come Dancing. Odious greed bucket (and drag) Dixon was poached by Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads in the New Year to appear as a judge on Britain's Got Talent - at which, she was rubbish - and has since been replaced on the BBC show by ballet dancer Darcey Bussell. When asked if he misses Dixon, Horwood replied: 'Not really, no. I loved working with her for three years, but I think she's far more suited for Britain's Got Talent. She was qualified to be on our panel, she won the show and great respect and all of that. But Darcey has spent her life in dance, solely, and that adds an enormous amount of weight behind the comments that she makes.' Commenting on Bussell's performances so far, Horwood admitted that the ballet star had suffered some 'ropey moments' early on, but claimed that she has now found her own unique style of judging. 'She had a couple of ropey moments in the first show, but that's to be expected - you're going live to twelve million viewers and everyone has an opinion on who should be judging, what they look like and all of that,' said Horwood. 'You're very guarded the first time that you do it, but she's found her own style and I love it. She's Darcey "Tip" Bussell, everything is followed with a quick tip. I think she'll be with us for many years to come. She's a class act. She's very, very classy. She knows what it's like to go out in front of two thousand people a night and deliver. She's brought an enormous amount of weight to the panel this year.'

Young Apprentice returned to BBC1 with a respectable, if hardly spectacular, audience on Thursday night. Lord Sugar-Sweetie's Apprentice spin-off started its third series with 3.73 million overnight viewers in a competitive 8pm hour which saw Emmerdale broadcast a high-profile double bill of episodes. However, Young Apprentice currently stands as BBC iPlayer's second-most popular show of the day behind EastEnders, and some viewers will likely have chosen to record the programme to be viewed later. After falling under a million viewers last week, Red Dwarf returned to form by commanding 1.05m for Dave at 9pm. Back on the terrestrials, Hunted (3.08m) won the 9pm slot, beating ITV's flop drama Homefront which could only manage 2.46m. On BBC2, Autumnwatch (2.5m) at 8pm and Hebburn (1.17m) at 10pm performed steadily, while 9pm's Operation Iceberg (2.71m) took up where The Choir left off the previous week. Overall, BBC1 won the primetime honours with 19.6 per cent of the audience share, beating ITV's 17.5 per cent.

Jason Cook is full of praise for fellow stand-up Chris Ramsay, who plays a fictional version of Cook in the BBC2 sitcom Hebburn. 'He did work very hard,' Cook told an audience at the Cofilmic festival in Manchester this week: 'Mainly on the hair.'
A counter-terrorism detective has denied one charge of misconduct in a public office over claims that she passed information to the Scum of the World. DCI April Casburn is accused of offering the odious, disgraced, disgraceful and now-closed in shame and ignominy tabloid newspaper information about Operation Verec. This was the initial investigation into whether the Metropolitan Police inquiry into phone-hacking should be reopened. At a hearing at the Old Bailey Casburn was told that a date for her trial would be fixed in the near future. Casburn, who is currently suspended from work, is also facing a separate charge under the Official Secrets Act which can only be dealt with by magistrates. It is alleged that she kept secret police documents at her home without permission. Casburn was released on unconditional bail until her next court appearance.

Downton Abbey creator yer actual Lord Snooty his very self Julian Fellowes is to present a new factual series for ITV. Which will be all about England's great houses. Well, there's a surprise, Lord Snooty doing something about the upper classes. How very unusual. The two-part series rather clumsily entitled Julian Fellowes's Historical Houses (Lord Snooty Swans About In Posh Gaffs would've probably been better) will 'take the audience on a journey through the extraordinary history, upstairs and downstairs, of his favourite great houses of England.' It says here. Lord Snooty will provide 'a fascinating insight into the detail behind these incredible houses and the people who lived and worked there.' Christ, that sounds totally unmissable. 'The great houses of Britain have for centuries been the guardians of much of our history, not just of the families who built and lived in them, but of the people who worked there, of the local area, of all of us. Where they have remained in the hands of the original families, the archives are rich in their stories and I have been on the trail of just a few of these,' said Lord Snooty. He also 'plays detective,' unearthing untold stories by digging into the houses rich history and even uncovering secrets hidden in century old paintings. There are stories of people who fortune smiled upon, and less fortunate souls who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Descendants of the previous inhabitants of the house and those living and working there today will hear about those who went before them.

The BBC has confirmed that it will not broadcast further repeats of Top of the Pops featuring late presenter Jimmy Savile. So, that's a decent proportion of the programmes archive that'll never be seen again. Digital channel BBC4 has been showing complete archive episodes of Top of the Pops since last April, starting with episodes from April 1976. They're currently up to October 1977 - just when the charts were getting good. A BBC spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Scum Mail: 'We will no longer show Jimmy Savile presenting Top of the Pops. We will assess carefully the editorial justification for any other Savile appearances. This decision was taken after allegations first came to light from the ITV documentary.' It was recently claimed that Savile groped a nineteen-year-old audience member on air during a November 1976 edition of the popular music show. Plans for the 2012 seasonal Top of the Pops special for BBC1 will still go ahead, with an alleged 'insider' allegedly adding to the Daily Scum Mail: 'It's very unfortunate, but it would be disappointing if the disgusting behaviour of one man impacted on the reputation of a legendary show like TOTP.'

There has been a 'disturbing relish' in the way critics - especially those with the thoroughly sick agenda - have laid into the BBC over the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal, Jonathan Dimbleby has said. Well, it's about time somebody else besides this blogger said it. The broadcaster told The Times newspaper there has been a 'witch-hunt' against the corporation, which had become 'horribly out of proportion. The real focus should be on what Savile did wrong,' he said. Dimbleby, who first worked at the BBC in the late 1960s, said it was 'very distressing' that people were being 'hounded' in a way that was 'unwarranted' at the BBC. 'Paedophilia is a huge national problem that no one thought about fifty years ago and is now something that concerns everyone, but this has become a witch-hunt against the BBC. Organisations that have come under flack recently such as newspapers and MPs want to get their revenge. They think the BBC is too smug and holier-than-thou. But there is a disturbing relish in the way the critics have laid into the BBC, holding today's office-holders to account for what happened thirty years ago,' he told the paper. In other developments, a victim of child sex abuse in North Wales has told BBC Newsnight that his abusers included a leading Thatcher-era Conservative politician, and called for a new investigation. On Saturday, the Sun newspaper claimed that actor Leonard Rossiter, who died in 1984, watched an eighteen-year-old extra in a BBC play being sexually assaulted in a rehearsal room. Dimbleby said it was 'highly unlikely' that his father, Richard, a distinguished BBC correspondent from the 1940s to the 1970s, would have known about the Savile abuse at the time. He said calls for George Entwistle and Lord Patten to step down as director general and BBC Trust chairman were 'ridiculous. I don't think this is the worst disaster in the history of the BBC,' Dimbleby said. 'It has been through crises that go back past Suez into the 1930s. It is always under incredible pressure. However, the licence fee payers are far cooler and wiser than the hyenas in the media. I absolutely think their priorities are to find out who Savile has harmed and whether anyone else was involved and that is what the BBC must do.' The Sun reported on Saturday that Rossiter allegedly watched as three BBC staff tried to rape an eighteen-year-old television extra on the set of the futuristic Nigel Kneale drama The Year of the Sex Olympics in 1968. His accuser said Rossiter performed a sex act behind him as he was attacked, and claimed the BBC of being 'a cesspit of depravity' at the time.

Scott Bakula told audiences at a London Star Trek convention that he had been offered the role of Isaac in the Doctor Who episode A Town Called Mercy, but had to turn it down because filming clashed with other work commitments. Thus, Ben Browder got the gig instead. The former Quantum Leap and Star Trek: Enterprise actor said that he'd become a fan of Doctor Who after catching episodes shown when he was in the UK last year.

Danny Baker has been linked with a move to BBC Radio 2 or TalkSport following his on-air resignation from BBC London on Thursday. TalkSport had discussions with Baker's agent, Alex Armitage, after it emerged that the presenter's BBC London show was being cancelled. Baker used his afternoon show on Thursday to launch a - highly articulate - tirade against the station's management and branded them 'pinheaded weasels' on Twitter. Baker will continue to present his Saturday morning show on BBC Radio 5Live as usual, the BBC confirmed. A switch to TalkSport - don't do it, Dan! - could see Baker reunite with his old 5Live co-presenter, Danny Kelly, who currently presents a show on the UTV-owned broadcaster. Baker previously worked for the station in a former incarnation, Talk Radio, at the end of the 1990s. But a switch to TalkSport would presumably spell the end of his 5Live show. Baker is also said to have been in discussions about presenting a show on Radio 2. Armitage declined to comment on the possible switch, beyond: 'Radio 2 tends to be where genius and the mavericks turn up.' There was no let-up from Dan The Man on Twitter in his criticism of BBC London on Friday, describing the 'dim bulb middle management' who had a 'tiny local-paper world view' and 'cannot bear anyone who doesn't fall in line. BBC London think radio is about sending reporters out on [the] double decker bus to hear people's problems,' he wrote. 'In the main, they are dull ex-university types who are "fascinated" by what they think of as "real" people. Meetings are how they view "work." If you're not empathising with stories about dog shit and local councils – they can't see the browny [sic] points. An agenda they need to validate. Being [the] least necessary people to shows, they've created a culture whereby they are the most vital. Far more meeting rooms than studios at BBC.' Baker added: 'Apparently BBC manager been on his own station explaining why our hot little tree house had to go. That's more than they ever did to me! Fact is, every time they came up with another BBC red bus trip to Haringey to talk about "issues" I said no, cos it's fucking awful radio.' Baker took three months off from BBC London in the summer to write a script for a new Muppets-style chat show on BBC1. He is understood to be working on several other projects, including a second volume of his autobiography. The first, Going to Sea in a Sieve, has just been published. Armitage said: 'Danny is nothing if not mercurial. He was absolutely right to be upset about the way he was treated. People will make their own minds up but I personally thought the show should be nominated for a Sony award, especially the second half when he really hit his stride. Danny is Danny.' Baker has always had a slightly unusual working relationship with the BBC, often without a contract and famously turning up for work five minutes before his show was due to start. In an interview with the Gruniad Morning Star in 2009, he bemoaned how the BBC had once taken away his regular producers and brought in people to manage him. 'Never do that,' he said. 'I am very sensitive to being sat on.' In a later interview in 2011, following a break from broadcasting after he was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth and throat, Baker reflected on the number of times he had walked out or been sacked in his career. 'I've walked out of loads of things. Loads,' he said. 'People always want to round your edges off, and fit you into some corporate thing. It's like a Swiss Army knife – okay then, I'll do telly, I'll do radio, I'll do some writing, I'll do adverts. And the terrible confidence that gives you, probably justified confidence, doesn't make you frightened of any boss.' According to the Gruniad, alleged industry 'insiders' - or anonymous cowardly snitching grasses as they're also known - said Baker's departure from BBC London 'might reflect a changing emphasis' across BBC local radio, which is undergoing big budget cuts – though not as sweeping as once feared – as part of the BBC's Delivering Quality First cost-saving initiative. 'It looks like a switch to more straight-ahead journalism, away from the sort of thing that Danny Baker does so well,' one alleged 'source' allegedly said.

Toby Jones is, as previously announced, to appear as Alfred Hitchcock in a new HBO film called The Girl. The storyline revolves around the director's complex relationship with actress Tippi Hedren (played by Sienna Miller) when making The Birds and Marnie. Jones commented: 'I hope it's fair in that it's based on several testimonies, not just Tippi's testimony. I hope I have been able to make him not a monster. He behaves monstrously at one point, but hopefully it's balanced out.' Mentioning his time on Doctor Who, the actor said: 'For my children it's about the coolest thing I could be in. It was great to do that.'
FOX has released a new Simpsons video showing Monty Burns thoroughly endorsing presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The animation shows the evil Nuclear Plant owner and billionaire tyrant bringing out Seamus the dog, mocking Romney's infamous decision to strap his dog on the roof of his car. Burns then asks Seamus to pick which president to support, presenting two men with Romney and Barack Obama masks - Romney holding a plate of meat and Obama holding only broccoli.
Richard Hammond has turned his hand to stand-up. The Top Gear presenter performed his own set in New York’s legendary Gotham Comedy Club. He spoke about his recent kidney stone surgery and British reticence when he appeared at the club's regular Wednesday-night new talent showcase. The gig came after a difficult warm-up gig in front of fellow open-mic comics in a smaller basement venue. He took to the stage for his BBC America series Richard Hammond's Crash Course, in which he tries his hand at various challenges. In the introduction to the episode, which was shown in the States this week, Hammond said he was 'facing one of my greatest fears: performing a stand-up comedy routine. I'm either incredibly brave or totally insane.' On entering the venue, he added: 'I'm more scared of this whole place and all it stands for that anything else.' And, when pointed out that he had taken part in many driving stunts far more dangerous than this, he said: 'That's just death. This is worse.' Hammond told his mentors, US comics Jim Mendrinos and Eddie Brill: 'I'm not funny. I have never written a joke in my life. I'd rather be the guy just introducing things. If I walk out in stage at home everyone knows who I am because I'm a big deal. I won't have that here cos I'm just a small Brit.' Before Hammond took to the stage, Mendrinos said: 'He's either going to do wonderfully or he's going to have a heart attack because this absolutely terrifies him.' During his set, yer man Hamster spoke about his kidney stone operation and recalled how: 'My innards turned into a boiling cauldron of white hot agony that are threatening to eviscerate me onto my living room carpet right now, I shall die stranded, a burnt out husk of a man, lying amidst my entrails like so many bloodied eels.' And, although he made some mistakes, such as not making enough eye contact with the audience, he seems to have gone down okay, leaving the stage to warm applause. Afterwards, he said: 'So maybe Leno or Letterman won't be calling me any time soon, but I can say I faced my greatest fear and I'm still alive.' And he admitted that he had developed a taste for stand-up on the strength of that first gig. Praising the 'surprisingly supportive and kind world of comedy,' he added: 'I really wish my Crash Course was longer because I know I could do better. It could become an obsession.' The episode was part of the second series of Crash Course, which has just started on BBC America. BBC2 has just screened the first series – five months behind the US.

Robert Hardy is to play Winston Churchill for the eighth time in his career opposite Dame Helen Mirren's Queen Elizabeth II in the West End. Peter Morgan's new play, The Audience, begins at the Gielgud Theatre in February. It depicts the weekly meetings between the Queen and twelve prime ministers from Churchill to David Cameron. Haydn Gwynne will play Margaret Thatcher, with Paul Ritter as John Major. Hardy has previously played Churchill seven times including Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years and most recently in Celui Qui A Dit Non in Paris. He played Siegfried Farnon in the television adaptation of James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small and is also known for starring in the Harry Potter films as Cornelius Fudge. Directed by Stephen Daldry, The Audience marks a return to royal duty for Dame Helen who won an Oscar for her lead role in the 2006 film The Queen, also written by Morgan. The Audience opens on 15 February 2013, and runs to 15 June.

Bill Bailey has announced a forty two-date national tour for 2013. His new Qualmpeddler tour – which has already visited Australia and New Zealand – kicks off in Plymouth on 26 April, winding up in Bristol on 16 June. The new dates are in addition to an 18 December gig at his local venue, the Hammersmith Apollo. According to the publicity blurb, the former Never Mind The Buzzcocks team captain and national treasure 'will be channeling feelings of unease and apprehension with the help of religious dubstep, his folk bouzouki, horntallica, a re-appraisal of some of the world's greatest works of art and perhaps a dub version of Downton Abbey.' Righteous. Last year Bill performed one of the biggest comedy gigs in the world, performing to sixty thousand fans at Knebworth, when he headlined the Sonisphere Rock Festival alongside Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax.

Sir Alex Ferguson has stirred up the shit again by saying he does not believe referee Mark Clattenburg used 'inappropriate language' towards Moscow Chelski player John Obi Mikel. The Blues have accused Clattenburg of making a racist remark during their 3-2 defeat by The Scum at Torpedo Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Which, if found to be true, will probably see Clattenburg thrown out of the game and prosecuted. Tragically, if the reverse is true and it's found that Clattenburg hasn't said what has been claimed, it's unlikely the Obi Mikel and others who've made the claims will be harshly disciplined or that Moscow Chelski FC will be relegated for making wild and unsubstantiated accusations which could have destroyed a man's career and reputation. Which is, frankly a great pity. 'I don't believe he would make comments like that,' said Ferguson, sticking his oar in where it wasn't wanted or needed. And then fans of The Scum wonder why it is that such genuine loathing exists towards their club. 'I refuse to believe it. It's unthinkable.' Responding to Ferguson's remarks, Moscow Chelski manager Roberto Di Matteo said: 'He likes to talk about other clubs.' The former Italian international added: 'We tend not to, so I'll leave it up to him. It doesn't really affect me too much to be honest. It's a free country where everybody has the freedom of speech.' Except if you're a referee, it seems. 'We take into consideration what other people say and use this for a motivational tool for ourselves.' Earlier this week, Moscow Chelski FC made a formal complaint to the Football Association against thirty seven-year-old Clattenburg. The Moscow club said the complaint was made following 'a thorough investigation' which, they claim, was led by 'outside legal counsel' and used information from interviews with players and staff. Clattenburg maintains his innocence and neither of his assistants, nor the fourth official, support Moscow Chelski's allegations. Ferguson, speaking ahead of his team's Premier League home game against The Arse, added: 'There is not a referee who would stoop to that. I'm convinced by that. I've never had a player come to me in the last fifteen years and say a referee swore in a game - ever. The way we see the game today rather than how it was twenty five years ago, it has completely changed. I played myself and I know that the banter which went on between referees and players twenty five years ago is different to today.' Di Matteo does not expect the fallout of the last few days to hit performances and says he 'still has faith' in referees despite this week's controversy. 'From what I can see and feel with my group and my players, once we get onto the training pitch, they are fully focused on training and getting ready for the games,' he added. 'So, I really hope it's not going to affect us at all. I really hope referees won't treat Moscow Chelski differently and I believe they won't. I have faith in them.' On Thursday, The Arse's manager, Arsene Wenger, voiced his concerns over Moscow Chelski's decision to make the allegations public. 'My opinion is just, I prefer when I didn't behave well, that I have an explanation with the referee at the end of the game, or on another day, than going public with little proof,' said the Frenchman, who stressed that he was 'not fully aware' of all the details surrounding the Clattenburg row. That's about standard for Wenger, a man who, whenever one of his own players has been sent off, seldom seems to see the incident in question. Rather makes you wonder what he actually does at football matches if he's not watching what's going on on the pitch. Fulham's manager Martin Jol also echoed Ferguson's view about Moscow Chelski's claims. 'If he said that, it would be stupid but I can't believe that he said it,' said Jol. Queens Park Strangers manager, Mark Hughes, called for the the matter to be resolved quickly. 'The situation with Mark Clattenburg, the authorities seem to have got involved as well and you don't want it to drag on,' he said. 'You would like these things to be addressed very very quickly so people can be allowed to move on, if possible.' The Metropolitan Police also started an investigation into the alleged comments after receiving a complaint from 'a source outside the game.' Moscow Chelski initially suggested Spanish midfielder Juan Mata had, also, been verbally abused by Clattenburg, before deciding there was insufficient evidence to support these claims. The Newcastle-based official has been stood down for this weekend's round of matches.

A petition has been started in Sweden to get the meaning of the word 'nerd' ('nörd' in Swedish) changed to something more positive. The official dictionary of the Swedish Academy, the Svenska Akademiens Ordlista, defines a nerd as a 'simple-minded and laughable person' ('enkelspårig och löjeväckande person'). However, self-confessed nerds and word enthusiasts in Sweden are appalled at the outdated view and have launched the online petition, dubbed Nörduppropet ('The Nerd Manifesto'). 'A nerd is a person with strong interests,' the petition states. 'A person with enormous drive and engagement. You can be a gaming nerd, a horse nerd, a word nerd, or a study nerd. Together we can give a new meaning to the word and give us nerds the status we deserve.' So far, almost four thousand people have signed the petition, each contributing his or her own definition of the word. Petition founder Ludwig Jonsson told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper: 'Many considered themselves to be nerds, and we thought that they should be able to be proud about it. When we saw SAOL's definition of the word, we made the appeal to give the nerds satisfaction.' Editor of the SAOL dictionary Sven-Göran Malmgren admitted that the word had perhaps changed in meaning since it first appeared in the dictionary seven years ago. He said: 'The word's meaning has surely changed somewhat since 2005 and has become more neutral. We'll be looking to see if the definition needs to be changed.'

As The Rolling Stones reach their fiftieth anniversary, the BBC will celebrate this milestone with a season of programmes across television, radio and the red button this November, including the first UK television premier of new documentary, Crossfire Hurricane. Taking its title from a line in 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' - you knew that, right? - Crossfire Hurricane gives viewers 'an access all areas' insight into what it's like to be part of The Greatest Rock & Roll Band In The World™. By using previously unseen archive footage with specially recorded commentary from Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood, Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor, the band tell their own story in their own words. The late Brian Jones is, obviously, conspicuous by his absence. Director Brett Morgan said: 'Crossfire Hurricane invites the audience to experience first-hand the Stones' nearly mythical journey from outsiders to rock 'n' roll royalty. This is not an academic history lesson. Crossfire Hurricane allows the viewer to experience the Stones' journey from a unique vantage point. It's an aural and visual roller coaster ride.' Other television programmes celebrating the band's fiftieth anniversary include Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones (BBC4) a live performance at the Checkerboard Lounge from 1981, when Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Ian Stewart paid homage to their blues roots joining the legend that was Muddy Waters on stage. There's also The Rolling Stones at the BBC (BBC2) an archive compilation of early Stones performances and promos aired on the BBC on Top Of The Pops - though, obviously, not the ones presented by Jimmy Savile because that would be wrong - and The Old Grey Whistle Test introduced by Mark Radcliffe. And, there's … Sings Rolling Stones (BBC2) another archive compilation of various artists covering songs by Mick and Keef including clips of Marianne Faithfull, Gene Pitney, Patti Smith, Melanie and others. There will also, at long last, be a terrestrial TV début for The Rolling Stones Rock 'n' Roll Circus on BBC2, the unique December 1968 concert in a circus tent including the last footage of Brian Jones with the band before his untimely death the following year with guests like The Who (whose performance of 'A Quick One' will knock you sideways), Taj Mahal and alcoholic Scouse wife-beating junkie John Lennon, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. And, there's also a rare showing of 1965's Charlie Is My Darling on BBC4, the recently restored Peter Whitehead documentary of the Stones playing Dublin in 1965. Get yer rocks off for that little lot, dear blog reader.

Channel Four and EMI's Abbey Road Studios have teamed-up with Volkswagen to create a new TV music series, Abbey Road Studios: In Session with Volkswagen Beetle. Heh. Did you see what they did there? Produced by Live From Abbey Road Productions, makers of the hugely successful Live From Abbey Road series, the show will feature a line-up of established and up-and-coming artists performing in session at the world's most famous recording studios. Andy Moore at Channel Four says: 'We're thrilled to partner with Volkswagen Beetle for this exclusive AFP deal, which gives Channel Four viewers front row seats at these one-off sessions from Abbey Road studios.' The series will be supported by a TV advertising campaign on Channel Four from the start of November. The promo adverts, produced by The Outfit, feature Paul Weller and will run across the Channel Four portfolio from 1 November to 14 November, alongside pre-rolls and additional short-form video content online. Volkswagen's involvement with Abbey Road aims to re-affirm the association between the Beetle and 'the rock and roll spirit it embodies,' apparently, targeting 'a mainstream male audience, between thirty and fifty' Channel Four state in that usual pseudo-scientific bollocks that TV executives often use. Kirsten Stagg, National Communications Manager at Volkswagen added: 'We are hugely excited about the launch of the Twenty First Century Beetle, and we are thrilled to be able to create such an innovative campaign to support it.' Hateful.

This brings us, like a moth to the flame, to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. I supposed, since Diamond Joe Quimby has declared this to be Rolling Stones month, From The North might as well join in with the malarkey. Hit the riff, Keef.

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