Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's Hard To Know Reality When You Don't Have A Life

Only Connect has broken the one million overnight viewers barrier for the first time in its four-year history. After hovering around the nine hundred thousand mark for the last few weeks on overnights, the Victoria Coren-hosted BBC4 quiz show - an unlikely, but very deserving cult hit - climbed to 1.05m in its usual 8.30pm on Monday night. Only Connect wasn't all that far behind BBC1's Panorama which could only manage a very disappointing 1.75m, while the start of a new week on MasterChef: The Professionals attracted an even greater number for BBC2 (2.67m) - all while Coronation Street hit a six-month high of 9.3m on ITV. Nadine Dorries lying in a crate of cockroaches and maggots proved a hit with ITV viewers - in, indeed, the majority of humanity - as 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) attracted nearly ten million viewers in the 9pm hour. The reality freak show was watched by 9.37m dipping by over a million on Sunday's premiere rating - although the show usually falls by a far greater amount between first and second night. Still nowhere near the sixteen million Dorries was banging on about before she entered the jungle, but the ten-year-old reality show still obliterated Richard Hammond's Miracles of Nature, which slumped 1.3m week-on-week to 2.42m after a reasonably strong opening a week earlier. The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler, a fine BBC2 documentary about the rise of the dictator which yer actual Keith Telly Topping was watching (no, not for tips, dear blog reader), interested 2.1m, while 999: What's Your Emergency? had an audience of 1.47m on Channel Four. The Gadget Show continued with nine hundred and seventy thousand on Channel Five in an 8pm slot which also saw University Challenge clear the three million hurdle (3.02m) on BBC2. Nice to see, after a really bad week, a bit of good news for Paxo there. Elsewhere, John Barrowman's début in Arrow was watched by six hundred and forty five thousand punters on Sky1, while ITV2's Switch (three hundred and ninety thousand) outperformed pointless rival Made in Chelsea (three hundred and sixty one) on E4 for the third consecutive week.

This week in the US saw fine new episodes of Homeland (The Clearing), Hawaii Five-0 and, particularly, Bones which used its latest episode - The Patriot in Purgatory - to focus on a bunch of the secondary characters whilst playing clever textual games around post-9/11 guilt trauma. A little cracker.
Cheeky Scouse chappie John Bishop is to star in a Christmas comedy-drama for ITV, based around a pantomime. The comic also co-wrote the script of Panto! with Jonathan Harvey who previously wrote the sitcom Gimme, Gimme, Gimme. For which we'll just have to try, really hard, to forgive him. The comedy will also star Sheridan Smith, Samantha Spiro, Mark Benton – and one-hit wonder Chesney Hawkes (he is the one and only). Bishop said: 'In 2006 I left my job; that Christmas I appeared in a local panto. It was there I fell in love with that world and came up with the idea of a comedy drama, which has now evolved into Panto! To be making this six years later for ITV is really very exciting. The script I've written with Jonathan Harvey is something I'm immensely proud of, and the cast are all brilliant.' The show is a co-production between Baby Cow and Bishop's own company Lola Entertainment. Unsurprisingly, Panto! will be shown in December.

Even by her own - unique - standards, sour-faced Monica Galetti was pulling some perfectly extraordinary sour and twisty faces on Tuesday night's MasterChef: The Professionals as young Simon and poor hapless Thomas tried - and failed - to create a lobster salad. It was like watching Phil Cool impersonating a lemon. Actually, come to think about it, that was, pretty much, Phil Cool's entire act, so basically it was like watching Phil Cool.
All round it was another rather good episode with Simon, from Leeds, managing to recover himself with a splendid roast sea scallops with truffles dish. He joined the impressive West Country chef Anton and Martin in the next round. Nicky can probably consider herself very unlucky to have gone out after presenting two decently cooked dishes only let down, according to Gregg and Michel, by somewhat safe and ordinary presentation. Her three fellow contestants, by contrast, each cooked one excellent and one underwhelming dish but, in all cases, got the presentation spot on.

Fans of Dad's Army have been urged to heed the 'Don't Panic!' catchphrase made famous by the late Clive Dunn as there is a 're-invention' of the classic sitcom in the pipeline. Nearly four decades since the last episode of the show about a platoon of bumbling Home Guard soldiers, co-writer Jimmy Perry has revealed a film version is 'in the works.' Or, another film version, anyway, as the original also, of course, had a - very successful - movie spin-off. Perry revealed to a meeting of The Dad's Army Appreciation Society that a film version could be developed – but received a round of 'groans' for his trouble. And, more than one cry of 'you stupid boy!' Perhaps, because Internet speculation emerged soon afterwards that Captain Mainwaring, played by Arthur Lowe in the TV series, might be played by a woman. We're doomed.
The four judges from the BBC1 talent show The Voice will be returning for the second series, the BBC has confirmed. Sir Tom Jones, Will.he.is, Jessie J and The Script's Danny O'Donoghue will, once again, select and mentor the acts. Ms J originally stated in her biography that she wouldn't be back for a second series but she seems to have changed her mind by the time the book was published in the summer. There were also rumours in July that Sir Tom might quit the show. But, he hasn't. Audience figures for the first series started very strongly - beating Britain's Got Talent over four consecutive weeks - but then dropped off soon after the end of the blind auditions process once the novelty started to wear off. Despite that, The Voice still averaged 9.2 million viewers per episode, including catch-up figures. Leanne Mitchell, coached by Sir Tom Jones, won the first series, beating the likes of Tyler James to a record deal.

'Omnishambles' – the word created by satirical comedy The Thick Of It – has been named 'word of the year' by the Oxford English Dictionary. Credited to writer Tony Roche, the word was first used by the fearsome spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (played by Peter Capaldi) to berate ineffectual minster Nicola Murray (Rebecca Front) in a 2009 episode of the cult Westminster satire. However, the word gained traction this year when Labour leader Ed Milimolimandi lifted the phrase in Commons speech to mock George Osborne's 'omnishambles Budget.' The OED defines omnishambles as: 'a comprehensively mismanaged situation, characterised by a shambolic string of blunders.' A bit like what's been happening at the BBC this week. Oh, the irony. It also spawned a spin-off word, 'Romneyshambles', used to describe the Republican presidential candidate's pre-Olympics visit to London when every single thing he said seemed to be a classic case of the inverse ratio between the size of the mouth and the size of the brain. Also shortlisted for word of the year were 'mummy porn', 'pleb', the verb 'to medal' and, of course, 'Mobot'.

Have I Got News For You has recorded a pilot for an American version. The long-running BBC panel show may be commissioned if bosses at the Time Warner-owned TBS cable channel receive it well, reports the Sun. Doubtful, of course. It's funny, for one thing. Most American TV executives don't really appreciate that sort of thing. Producer Jimmy Mulville hoped it would be 'third time lucky' for the panel show, as it has tried twice before to be picked by US networks. If commissioned, it would be the first British panel show to find success in America. Mulville revealed on Twitter that the pilot was being filmed, and also confirmed the names of the host and team captains. Stand-up comedian Sam Seder - who previously hosted a Have I Got News For You pilot for NBC - took the role of host in the pilot, with Chris Rock's cousin Sherrod Small and Run Fatboy Run co-writer Michael Ian Black as team captains. Mulville also responded to queries from viewers over whether the US version would be broadcast in Britain. 'No, it's an unbroadcast pilot for TBS,' he noted. 'If it gets a series, maybe.'

Michael McIntyre has admitted that he found his time as a judge on Britain's Got Talent 'uncomfortable.' But, presumably, the money he got allowed him to sleep at nights? The stand-up comic appeared on the 2011 judging panel for the programme, alongside Amanda Holden, David Hasselhoff and, during the live shows, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads. McIntyre quit the show after only one series. Speaking to the Sunday Torygraph about his time on the ITV talent contest, the comedian revealed that he became 'anxious' about how the public were perceiving him. 'I was worried about that show, about changing people's perceptions of me, and about being in the hands of editors,' he said. 'You look at people like Cheryl Cole and you are like, "This is going to put me on another level" - but it doesn't. Nobody came up to me and said, "I loved it when you told someone they couldn't sing." You only get to another level in my job if you are really funny and you keep coming up with better stuff than before.' He added: 'You are just a cog in a big machine, and the agenda is not to make you look good. No. In fact, they will sacrifice you in a heartbeat for the sake of the show. And people put up with that, because it creates news. I just found it a little uncomfortable.'

When Jeremy Paxman blamed the current Newsnight crisis on budget cuts at the weekend, it was not the first time he had taken BBC management to task over the programme's funding. Industry insiders, according to the Gruniad Morning Star, said the budget of the BBC2 current affairs programme had dropped from more than ten million quid in the middle of the last decade to as little as five million smackers today. Others put its funding at a slightly higher figure. Alleged 'insiders' allegedly said that the programme's travails were down to 'partly about the budgets, and partly about the people there.' In its heyday, Newsnight had a separate film office where journalists would be able to work on long-term film projects away from the demands of the newsdesk dealing with the breaking issues of the day. That divide has long since gone. 'It used to be an intellectual powerhouse of a place,' said one, nameless, journalist who snitched all this up to the Gruniad like a dirty stinking Copper's Nark, so he (or she) did. 'The film office has less money than it used to have and is a less glamorous place to be, and there are lower expectations of what it is supposed to be doing. They don't have the budgets to make those big films they used to make, travelling all over the world.' Newsnight, which was first broadcast on BBC2 in 1980, suffered fifteen per cent cuts in 2005. In an era when the BBC has introduced successive rounds of belt-tightening across its entire output, the programme's budget was cut by a further twenty per cent in the run-up to 2010. Further budget cuts were pushed through earlier this year as part of the former director general Mark Thompson's latest cost-saving initiative, Delivering Quality First. However, Newsnight remains one of the BBC's flagship news programmes, along with Panorama and Today, and has been protected from the deeper cost-cutting which has shed several thousand jobs from other areas of BBC News over the past decade. A total of eight hundred jobs are expected to go from a BBC News workforce totalling five thousand as part of the latest DQF cuts. Paxman first hit out in an interview to mark Newsnight's twenty fifth anniversary in 2005. Given the scale of the savings required, said Paxman, if he were the editor he would have said 'fine, we'll go to four nights a week instead of five. Frankly, reducing the number of staplers in the office isn't going to do it.' Paxman returned to the subject in 2007 during the prestigious MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival. In the light of the crisis which has since engulfed Newsnight, his warning then that the cuts were 'unsustainable' appears prophetic. 'Over the last three years we've been required to make budget cuts of fifteen per cent,' he said at the time. 'We have lost producers, researchers and reporters. Nor can we make the films we once made. Now we're told we are likely to have to make more cuts: at least a further twenty per cent over five years. It is unsustainable, and I cannot see how the programme can survive in anything like its current form if the cuts are implemented. To get a single – important – film transmitted last week involved surviving a sustained barrage of astonishingly threatening lawyers' letters from Carter Ruck and ear-bending from one of the country's most expensive PR firms. You can't do that if you're replacing grizzled output editors with people on work experience, no matter how enthusiastic they may be.' He admitted it sounded like 'special pleading' but said the 'bigger question is whether the BBC itself has a future.' Fast forward to today and the programme's stable of producers, specialist correspondents and general reporters is far smaller. Newsnight had fifteen correspondents in 2006 and could still count on seven general reporters in 2009, but lost three more reporter posts in the DQF cuts earlier this year. 'Newsnight has suffered quite a lot,' one alleged 'industry source' is quotes as, allegedly, saying by the Gruniad. 'There are a lot fewer reporters and producers. It's not just about the numbers, it's also about the status of the people who are there. There was a day when Newsnight reporters were Evan Davis, Martha Kearney, David Lomax and Michael Crick. Today it has far fewer of those big-name people.' Such was the scale of concern among staff on the programme that in 2007 they wrote to the editor at the time, Peter Barron, who is now at Google, refusing to co-operate with the cost-cutting drive in which all of the staff reporters were asked to reapply for their jobs. 'Most of the budget on Newsnight and programmes like it is fixed costs, studio time and other things, so it inevitably means when you get a big cut in its budget it has to come out of its journalism,' said another alleged 'industry source.' Allegedly. The programme's newly appointed acting editor, Karen O'Connor, is described by people who know her as an 'extraordinarily strong character, very charismatic, and someone who people can rally to.' A former deputy editor of Newsnight and Panorama, she is currently the BBC's head of London factual. 'She cares about Newsnight, she'll fight for it,' said an alleged source. 'She is really quite ferocious – but in a good way – and she'll be able to deal with the big characters on the programme. If anyone can persuade Jeremy to get back on board, then Karen can.'

Ofcom boss Ed Richards has emerged as the bookmakers' new favourite to become the BBC's next director general, with the BBC Trust known to be 'considering external candidates.' Richards was linked to the job prior to the appointment of George Entwistle, whose resignation after eight weeks led to the appointment of Tim Davie as acting DG. Richards was a senior adviser to Tony Blair - his other previous jobs include controller of corporate strategy at the BBC. As chief executive of media regulator Ofcom he has overseen the regulation of the TV and radio sectors, fixed line telecoms, mobiles and postal services. In 2009 the Gruniad Morning Star described Richards as 'one of the key architects of Britain's media landscape in the digital era.' But then, what do those hippies Communist lice know about pretty much anything? Others have been less complimentary about Richards than the brown-tongued Gruniad. In 2003, former BBC director general Greg Dyke infamously - and amusingly - referred to him as 'a jumped-up Millbank oiyk' at a Royal Television Society conference. Davie, the director of BBC Audio and Music, is second favourite to land the position according to bookmakers Ladbrokes and Paddy Power. Both name Caroline Thomson, the BBC's former chief operating officer, as their third favourite to become the corporation's next leader. Thomson, who was on the final shortlist earlier this year, left the BBC after her job disappeared in a corporate restructure in September. As Thomson left the organisation she praised the BBC for its 'wonderful' programmes, her 'brilliant' colleagues and the organisation's 'real sense of public purpose.' Other internal candidates who are believed to be in contention include Danny Cohen, the current head of BBC1 and a former controller of BBC3. Yet because Lord Patten, head of the BBC Trust, is thought to favour an outsider, a range of new possibilities have come into consideration. That makes sense - but there are problems with appointing someone from outside the Corporation. They may want to be paid more than is politically acceptable, given the fuss over George Entwistle's four hundred and fifty grand salary - and, indeed, his pay-off. It may take longer for an outsider to take up the post, if they are in a significant job already. The level of public scrutiny is far higher than most other jobs, as Entwistle found out to his cost in his fifty four days in the post. And, unless they've worked at the BBC before, it is likely to take any successful candidate a long time to find their way around its labyrinthine corporate structure. It is often forgotten that Greg Dyke, the last outsider to be appointed, joined the BBC five months before he actually took over - as director general designate - so he could learn the ropes. According to The Times, one name being 'talked up' is Tony Hall, chief executive of the Royal Opera House and the BBC's former director of news. Other ex-staffers whose names have been mentioned include ITV's director of television Peter Fincham and Channel Four's chief creative officer Jay Hunt, both of whom are former BBC1 controllers. One of them rather good, the other one pretty rubbish. Michael Jackson, - no, not that one - a former chief executive of Channel Four and one of the few to serve as controller of both BBC1 and BBC2, is another potential candidate. So is Mark Scott, managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and Dawn Airey, the former chief executive of Channel Five. Lord Patten has said a new director general will be appointed within the next few weeks. One individual who seems to have ruled himself out of the running is David Dimbleby, host of BBC1's Question Time. The veteran broadcaster told the Daily Scum Mail he was 'too old' to be offered the position, despite there being no age limit attached to the post.

The chief reporter behind the disastrous Newsnight report which wrongly linked a former Tory peer with allegations of child sexual abuse was formally questioned on Monday by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism's funding body. Angus Stickler, a former BBC journalist who - allegedly - 'researched' and then fronted the Newsnight film on 2 November, was interviewed by the bureau's trustees in London. He was asked to 'provider further information' and return for more questioning on Thursday. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has launched an urgent inquiry into the Newsnight film, which it claims was 'one hundred per cent overseen by the BBC.' The bureau's trustees, chaired by James Lee, hope to publish their report by Friday. Newsnight's Bryn Estate report fuelled false rumours on the Internet which linked Lord McAlpine, a former Tory party treasurer, with allegations of child sexual abuse. McApline has threatened to sue for defamation and Newsnight apologised for the inaccurate report. The film led directly to the resignation of the BBC director general, George Entwistle, on Saturday night, and the BIJ managing editor, Iain Overton, who stepped down on Monday. The not-for-profit news group has attempted to distance itself from the Newsnight scandal, and weasel out of their own part in this whole sorry fiasco, saying that the BBC had 'full editorial control' over the report. The report which they took to the BBC in the first place. The BIJ, based at City University in London, has confirmed that Stickler has taken 'a fully paid leave of absence' pending the outcome of two separate inquiries into the Newsnight debacle. An internal BBC inquiry by the BBC Scotland director, Ken MacQuarrie, concluded those responsible for the report had failed to make 'basic journalistic checks' before it was was broadcast. Overton was questioned by the trustees on Sunday, when he formally tendered his resignation. In a letter to The Times on Tuesday, the BIJ's lead trustees sought to 'underline that the BBC did not "outsource" its reputation to the bureau.' The letter was signed by the former chairman of the Financial Times Sir David Bell, journalism professor George Brock, and the bureau's main funders, David and Elaine Potter. It said: 'The BBC required, and had, full editorial control throughout the production of the Newsnight film transmitted on 2 November about the North Wales child abuse inquiry. The Bureau's work has won awards by disclosing important information in the public interest and, with only this recent exception, by maintaining high standards of journalism.' Overton sparked the Internet frenzy with his tweeted claim, hours before broadcast on 2 November, that Newsnight was about to reveal 'a very senior political figure who is a paedophile,' although he was not directly involved in the story. The trustees described the now-infamous tweet from Overton as 'regrettable.' Overton said on Monday night: 'I am incredibly sorry that people have had to resign over it. I am incredibly sorry we got the journalism wrong. I am incredibly sorry Steve Messham [the abuse victim featured in the report] must have been to hell and back, and I'm incredibly sorry for Lord McAlpine.' The episode could be devastating for the not-for-profit group, which has partnered with a number of national newspapers and broadcasters to run investigative stories, some of them award-winning. Since launching in April 2010, the BIJ has received around two million quid in grants and is funded by the David and Elaine Potter Foundation. In a submission to the Leveson inquiry earlier this year, the BIJ said that costly legal cover was its main worry and urged Lord Justice Leveson to consider granting charitable status to independent investigative journalism groups.
Two of the fifty people arrested by officers investigating alleged corruption on newspapers have been released from bail and will face no further action, Scotland Yard have said. One is a sixty three-year-old man from Surrey arrested on 8 July last year when the phone-hacking scandal erupted and the other is a fifty seven-year-old retired Metropolitan police officer who was arrested in May this year. The arrests were made as part of the Operation Elveden inquiry into alleged inappropriate and corrupt payments by journalists to police officers and other public officials for stories. 'Two men previously arrested as part of Operation Elveden were released "no further action" after answering bail at South London police stations today,' the Met said on Tuesday. The sixty three-year-old was the third person to be arrested by Elveden officers and is not thought to be a journalist. He was arrested on suspicion of corruption allegations contrary to the 1906 Prevention of Corruption Act. The fifty seven-year-old was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office.

A senior editor on the Sun has warned that journalists on the paper are now unwilling to launch certain public interest investigations because of a fear of being arrested. Brian Flynn, the paper's investigations editor, said the effect of the arrest of twenty one journalists on the paper over alleged payments or knowledge of payments to police or other public officials has already had a chilling effect. 'It sometimes feels like I am working in a butcher's deep freeze, rather than a newsroom,' he told the Society of Editors in Belfast on Tuesday, according to the Press Gazette. And, we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for you? It's very simple, mate. Don't break the law and you won't get arrested. Flynn claimed that the paper turns its back on stories from whistleblowers who want payment, even if they are exposing something in the public interest. 'Every day, the Sun turns away stories that are in the public interest because of the 2010 Bribery Act. With no public-interest defence, we cannot talk to whistleblowers who want compensation for the risk they are taking,' he added. In the past year, twenty one current and former Sun journalists and senior newsroom executives have been arrested as a result of police investigations into alleged inappropriate payments for stories. Addressing the final session of the Society of Editors conference in Belfast on Tuesday, Flynn alleged that the Leveson inquiry had already had a significant effect on freedom of speech in the UK. 'So many decent journalists have been arrested under a 1906 act that was never applied to journalists before.' Yes, well, maybe it should have been.

John Thomson is making a return to stand-up. The Fast Show and Cold Feet actor performed a short try-out spot at Manchester’s Comedy Store on Sunday night – and was encouraged by the response. Speaking at the final of the BBC New Comedy Award, which he was judging in Blackpool on Monday, Thomson said: 'I did my first gig in ages last night – and it went kind of all right. I'm back!' And immediately after his appearance at the Store's New Stuff night, he tweeted: 'Thank you to everyone who came and those who offered support re tonight's stand up. It went really well. Ready for more. Watch this space.' Thomson, whose best-known live character was the legendary politically-correct reformed old-school comic Bernard Righton ('An Englishman, an Irishman and Pakistani walk into a bar. What a marvellous example of an integrated multi-racial society, ladies and gentlemen, I'm sure you'll agree!'), won the Perrier award with Steve Coogan in 1992, which led to the Paul Calf films on TV in which Thomson played Calf's best mate, Fat Bob. He has also appeared in Coronation Street, Lee and Herring's Fist of Fun and 24 Hour Party People.

Dozens of children's authors have called upon Newcastle City Council not to cut its library services. Philip Pullman, Malorie Blackman, and children's laureate Julia Donaldson are the signatories to an open letter protesting against planned closures. Which would, probably, have been more effective if they'd bought a stamp stuck it in an envelope and made it a closed letter. Co-ordinator Alan Gibbons described the move as a 'pre-emptive strike.' The council is proposing to get rid of ten of its eighteen branches as part of budget cuts but said it would still offer a 'good quality comprehensive service.' A detailed announcement will be made soon, but the council said it had to make savings of seven million quid from its library, leisure, culture and customer service area. It plans to retain a 'core network' of eight facilities, including the city centre 'super library' on New Bridge Street, which yer actual Keith Telly Topping is a member thereof and uses frequently. More than fifty people have so far put their name to the open letter, which author and library campaigner Alan Gibbons has described as a 'shot across the bows.' He said: 'We've discovered through experience that you have to respond quickly even when full announcements haven't been made.' The campaign involved authors because 'no-one can bully us or tell us what to think. Our lifestyle also means we're available at odd times.' The letter reads: 'We are authors, many of whom have attended the Northern Children's Book Festival and other events in the region over many years. We are therefore appalled to hear that council leaders are planning draconian cuts to the city's libraries. It is the young and the elderly who disproportionately depend on branch libraries. The cost in educational underachievement would far outweigh any savings made by cuts.' Tony Durcan, director of libraries and lifelong learning at Newcastle City Council, said that libraries remained essential but there had to be changes and its new plans would be 'affordable and accessible.' He said: 'By making the best possible use of our assets, nearly every resident will still be within one and a half miles of a library. Many of our libraries will remain open, operating in the same building as other shared community services like customer service centres and shared housing schemes and we hope others will stay open through the support and goodwill of local residents.' Elsewhere on Tyneside, Gateshead Council has put forward plans for a public consultation for five of its seventeen libraries to be run by volunteers, in a move aimed at cutting costs.

Tens of thousands of tourists and astronomers gathered in northern Australia to glimpse a rare total solar eclipse. The eclipse, which occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, plunged parts of Queensland into darkness for just over two minutes. Estimates suggest the event, early on Wednesday, was viewed live by millions. A partial eclipse was expected in other parts of the region, including New Zealand and eastern Indonesia. The next total solar eclipse will not take place until March 2015. Onlookers gathered at vantage points, in boats and on hot air balloons to witness the rare phenomenon. There had been fears that cloudy weather would obscure the eclipse but the clouds parted just as it began, drawing cheers from the crowd as the full spectacle came into view. Temperatures dropped as the shadow of the moon blocked the sun, and animals reacted to the eclipse with confusion. Scientists were set to use footage from underwater cameras at the Great Barrier Reef to investigate creatures' reactions to the eclipse. Australian tour operators welcomed the surge in holiday-makers, with reports of some hotels being booked up more than three years in advance. State officials estimate that over fifty thousand extra people visited Queensland to experience the phenomenon.

Football stadium announcers are not expected to get too creative with their musical choices so one would think putting on a record from the most popular band in recent music history would not be a problem. However, Willie Docherty, the stadium announcer for Scottish Premier League side Hibernian, ended up losing his job when he decided to play 'Taxman' by The Beatles at half-time of Hibs match against Dundee United at the weekend. The song choice was a - none too subtle - dig at Hibs' fierce Edinburgh rivals Hearts who are fighting for their future after being issued with a winding-up order over a tax bill for almost four hundred and fifty thousand smackers. The somewhat loaded song choice caused a fair few giggles from the Easter Road faithful but was not met with the same amusement by Hibernian officials who felt it was a 'breach of conduct.' Doherty, a driving instructor by day and a former radio DJ, was immediately sacked from his position and is said, in press reports, to be 'distraught' over his punishment. 'Willie is devastated. He was brought up in Leith and is a lifelong fan of the club. It was a dream job for him,' an alleged 'friend' allegedly told the Daily Record, a newspapers who, if they told me black was darker than white, I'd want a second opinion. 'He believes it was just a joke. I don't think many Hearts fans would want to see Hibs going as far as sacking him.' I wouldn't bet on it, mate.

Resisting the overwhelming temptation to make that yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, instead, here's The Charlatans.

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