Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Noose Around Us Is Slowly Tightening, I'm Gonna Show You Why They Call Me Lightning

Neil Gaiman has revealed that he wants to make The Cybermen 'scary again.' The award-winning writer will reintroduce the classic Doctor Who monsters in a 2013 episode of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama starring Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman. 'Steven [Moffat] wrote to me and said, "Will you make The Cybermen scary again?"' Gaiman told French website Reviewer.fr. 'And I thought back to when I was six or seven years old - The Moonbase, The Tomb of the Cybermen. I saw these when they were first broadcast.' Gaiman claimed that The Cybermen's near-silent, creeping nature made them scarier than the more bombastic Daleks. 'Daleks went around going, "Exterminate," and blowing things up,' he said. Well, yeah. 'You look up and there's a Cyberman. I thought, "Let me see what I can do when I take the 1960s Cybermen and [incorporate] everything that's happened since." So that's what I'm trying to do. I don't know if it will work.' Warwick Davis, Tamzin Outhwaite and Jason Watkins will all appear in Gaiman's episode, which Matt Smith has predicted will be a 'fan's favourite.'

Comedy line of the week came from Damien Lewis, the guest host of this week's episode of Have I Got News For You. In a round on the US election, Damien noted: 'The Prime Minister tweeted: "Warm congratulations to my friend Barack Obama. Look forward to continuing to work together." Well, now he's not allowed to text Rebekah Brooks any more.' Odious slime bucket (and drag) Piers Morgan didn't escape the verbal scudding either. 'Top US political expert Piers Morgan,' began Damien, straight-faced, 'was also on hand with his customary insightful analysis on the day of the election. he revealed: I haven't a clue who's going to win the US election - and, nor has anyone else." Thanks for that, Piers!' And, best of all, there was his comment after reporting that Nadine Dorries had reportedly said: 'If sixteen million people are watching 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) that is where MPs should be going.' Damien added: 'Tell you what, Nadine, millions of people watched a bloke leap out of a balloon from the edge of space, if you're interested!'
More than three million viewers watched the UK TV premiere of The Inbetweeners Movie on Channel Four, eclipsing BBC1 overly complex drama Hunted, on Thursday night. The Inbetweeners Movie, which broke box office records earning forty five million quid in the UK, was watched by 3.2 million viewers between 9pm and 11.05pm. On BBC1, the sixth episode of eight-part Melissa George drama, Hunted, had just 2.6 million viewers, between 9pm and 10pm. Hunted was only narrowly ahead of BBC2's new Michael Portillo series Great Continental Railway Journeys, which achieved 2.5 million viewers also between 9pm and 10pm. The 9pm slot was won by ITV1's DCI Banks, the final episode of the second series watched by four million viewers. So, to sum up them, they'll probably be another series of DCI Banks next year, there probably won't be a second series of Hunted. At the same time on Channel Five, Kevin Costner drama Hatfields & McCoys had one million viewers. Brought back to the screen by Dave for a tenth series after a thirteen-year break, Craig Charles and Chris Barrie comedy Red Dwarf finished its six-part run with just under a million viewers between 9pm and 9.30pm. Channel Four's new, sickeningly twee Kirstie Allsop series Kirstie's Vintage Home began with two million sad, crushed victims of society. But, just to proved that not all TV viewers have their brains dribbling out of their ears, Kirstie lost out to BBC2's popular MasterChef: The Professionals, which had 2.4 million viewers, including one hundred and two thousand punters on BBC HD. BBC1's Young Apprentice had 3.7 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm. The second Emmerdale episode of the night had 6.3 million viewers between 8pm and 8.30pm, whilst the spin-off Emmerdale at Forty, was watched by 3.4 million viewers between 8.30pm and 9pm. Up against The Inbetweeners Movie, the fourth episode of BBC2's fine sitcom Hebburn averaged one million viewers between 10pm and 10.30pm, including thirty five thousand on BBC HD.

The actor Bill Tarmey, who played Jack Duckworth in the ITV soap Coronation Street, has died. Tarmey left the soap in 2010, after more than thirty years on the show. His family confirmed to ITV that he died in Tenerife on Friday morning, asking for 'privacy as they grieve for a wonderful husband, father and brother.' A statement from Coronation Street said that the cast, crew and production team were 'devastated' to learn of Bill's death. It continued: 'Our thoughts and prayers are with Bill's wife and soul mate Ali and their family at this very sad time.' Along with his own ill health, he left Coronation Street to help care for his son Carl, who was battling a life-threatening brain tumour. Bill told ITV Granada, earlier this year: 'If this hadn't happened they would've had to drag me out of there screaming. It was a wonderful bloody job, especially for an old coffin-dodger.' A life-long heavy smoker, Tarmey had suffered a severe heart attack at just thirty five while singing on stage, and he had heart surgery to bypass clogged arteries at forty five, having the operation redone fifteen years later. He had also suffered from sleep apnoea, a serious condition which resulted in him jolting awake several times a night after he had stopped breathing. Bill was reunited with on screen wife Vera, played by Liz Dawn, for his emotional finale from the soap. The actress had left the show two years before because of her own health problems, when Vera was seen dying the same armchair as Jack. However Jack's final scenes showed her appearing at his side and saw the pair dancing together, as he drifted in and out of consciousness. Coronation Street cast members have been paying tribute on Twitter, with Antony Cotton who plays Sean Tully, writing: 'Goodnight Bill Tarmey. You were the best. We'll miss you so much.' Charlie Condou, who plays Marcus Dent, said: 'I am devastated to hear that the wonderful Bill Tarmey has died. He was a beautiful, funny and lovely man, and he will be missed by us all.' In 2010 Tarmey published his autobiography Jack Duckworth And Me, which charted his life, from growing up in the slums of Manchester through working as a singer in local nightclubs, before he landed a role on Coronation Street in 1979. He said: 'I've loved sharing my life with Jack. I'm not sure whether he has liked sharing his with me, though!' Former co-star Jean Alexander said she was very fond of Tarmey and that he and Dawn were 'a really good team. He certainly took to that part like a duck to water,' she continued, as she recalled acting with him during his first scene in the soap's pub The Rovers. 'I was standing next to him on the set and we were just about to start this scene. He said "Jean I've only ever done walk-ons. I'm terribly nervous, I'll forget what I've got to say." I said "No you won't Bill, just keep your mind still, open your mouth and the words will come out." But he soon got over that. And the part was so suitable for him personally. He was the right sort of character and the right sort of person to play it. I'm very sorry he's gone.'

Actor and director Kenneth Branagh has been made a knight by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Famous for roles from Shakespeare to detective Kurt Wallander, he was honoured for services to drama and the community of Northern Ireland. The fifty one-year-old, who was born in Belfast, said he felt 'humble, elated and incredibly lucky.' Branagh also had a starring role in this summer's Olympics Opening Ceremony. He played Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the show, which was directed by Danny Boyle. Speaking after his investiture, he said: 'I'm so very pleased this has happened in the year of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics and the Paralympics. It's been a hell of a year for the UK and I feel very honoured to be a tiny part of this part of it.' Sir Kenneth Branagh joins the ranks of fellow Thespians such as Alec Guinness, Patrick Stewart and Laurence Olivier, whom he recently portrayed in My Week With Marilyn. Branagh spent his early years in Northern Ireland, where he is now honorary President of NICVA supporting all the organisations in the voluntary and community sector. He moved to Reading with his family when he was nine, where he first adopted an English accent to avoid bullying. Celebrating the work he does in his homeland, he said: 'It is special because it is to do with my roots in Northern Ireland and to do with a lot of work other people do and I'm happy to be associated with, lots of charitable institutions and real hard work on the part of a lot of people over there. I'm pleased the link with Northern Ireland is recognised, I'm very proud of coming from there.'

Conservative peer Lord McAlpine has said that allegations linking him to alleged historical child abuse are 'wholly false and seriously defamatory.' McAlpine said he had has 'no choice' but to take legal action over claims of abuse at a North Wales children's home, the Conservative peer's solicitor has said. One imagines there might be one or two nervous Twitter contributors and bloggers this morning given some of the Internet activity of the last few days. And, indeed, one or two slightly nervous newspapers, albeit given that you can't libel a dead man, the late Peter Morrison still seems to be fair game for the tabloids. But, back to McAlpine. The ex-Tory party treasurer, who now lives in Italy, released a statement after a man claimed that he had been abused at a care home in Wrexham by a - nameless - Tory grandee. Lord McAlpine's denial comes after Steve Messham claimed last week on the BBC's Newsnight that he had been abused by 'a senior politician of the Thatcher era,' who was not named in the Newsnight piece. The BBC issued an unreserved apology for the Newsnight report. Poor old Newsnight, they're really getting in it in neck at the moment. They got spanked by just about everyone when they didn't broadcast claims about Jimmy Savile, then they get another damned good hiding when they do report this story - albeit, without actually naming names. They can't do right for doing wrong, it would seem. One imagines that Paxo and Kirsty might as well start looking for another job right now as it's difficult to see how the programme can survive the shit-storm and crucifixion which is likely to be coming its way in the near future. One or two executives in BBC News who okayed the most recent Newsnight story might well be glancing, nervously, over their shoulder as well. In his statement, McAlpine said: 'I have never been to the children's home in Wrexham, nor have I ever visited any children's home, reform school or any other institution of a similar nature. I have never stayed in a hotel in or near Wrexham, I did not own a Rolls-Royce, have never had a "Gold card" or "Harrods card" and never wear aftershave, all of which have been alleged. I did not sexually abuse Mr Messham or any other residents of the children's home in Wrexham.' He said that he had decided to 'publicly tackle these slurs and set the record straight. In doing so, I am by no means giving up my right to sue those who have defamed me in the recent past or who may do so in the future and I expressly reserve my rights to take all such steps as I and my solicitors consider necessary to protect my interests.' Some newspapers on Friday reported that the peer has been a victim of 'mistaken identity.' On Thursday David Cameron said he feared a 'witch-hunt' by those commenting online about child abuse allegations. The prime minister was commenting on ITV's This Morning programme after being unexpectedly handed Ze List of names of people whom the show's presenter said were 'being mentioned online' as paedophiles. Phillip Schofield, who said he had based his list on a three minute search of 'Internet speculation', has been widely criticised for his actions during the live interview. Cameron, who did not look at the list and appeared really angry and flustered when it was handed to him, said he was 'worried' that speculation about unproven allegations could lead to a 'witch-hunt particularly against people who are gay' and advised anyone with evidence of abuse to go to the police. London Mayor Boris Johnson branded it a 'rum piece of journalism' and Labour's Chuka Umunna said it had been 'foolish and irresponsible.' Meanwhile, TV regulator Ofcom said it had received some complaints about the programme. The North Wales abuse scandal re-emerged last week after Messham called for a new investigation claiming a report by Sir Ronald Waterhouse in 2000 had not uncovered the full scale of the abuse. On Tuesday, Home Secretary Theresa May announced a new police inquiry is to investigate fresh allegations into the way police handled child abuse accusations in care homes during the 1970s and 80s. There will also be a judicial inquiry into the failings of previous judicial inquiries. Meanwhile, Flintshire Council chief executive Colin Everett has said he wants to publish a shelved 1996 report into the abuse claims. The Jillings Report was never made public because of legal concerns. Meanwhile, the bloke at the centre of all this, Steve Messham, has said that 'a case of mistaken identity' had led to peer Lord McAlpine being linked to the claims. Messham offered 'sincere and humble apologies to him and his family.' In a statement on Friday evening, he said: 'After seeing a picture in the past hour of the individual concerned, this [is] not the person I identified by photograph presented to me by the police in the early 1990s, who told me the man in the photograph was Lord McAlpine.' One guesses that those in the Newsnight production team who believed his claims last week aren't feeling particularly sympathetic regarding Messham's 'mistake' today. God, what a total bloody mess. For a more in-depth (albeit, scummishly agenda-soaked) take on the likely repercussions of all this malarkey, the Gruniad's Dan Sabbagh, Ben Quinn and Josh Halliday have, helpfully, stuck their oar in - having, presumably, taken a few minutes off from their normal job of Jeremy Clarkson-bashing. Hip hurrah for the Gruniad.

President Barack Obama appears close to victory in Florida, the only state yet to declare a result from Tuesday's US presidential election. Vote counting continues, but the head of Florida's Democratic Party issued a statement on Friday congratulating Obama. Aides to Mitt Romney were also quoted as appearing to concede defeat. Florida's vote cannot change the overall result, but the slow count has brought back memories of the bitterly contested recount in 2000. The Sunshine State's famous 'hanging chads' sparked a crisis in that year's Bush-Gore election, eventually leading to a Supreme Court ruling which installed George W Bush in the White House. As of Thursday evening Obama had a 0.7 per cent lead in Florida - totalling more than fifty thousand votes - but some ballots have yet to be counted. The final result is expected by midday on Saturday, after three counties - Broward, Palm Beach and Duval - finish their tallies. If the final difference in the number of votes for President Obama and his Republican challenger is below 0.5 per cent, a recount would be automatically triggered. Whatever the outcome, it matters little since the Democratic incumbent decisively won the national vote in the electoral college. As the counting edged towards its end, party operatives in Florida began to concede the race would go to Obama. 'On behalf of Florida Democrats, I wish President Barack Obama congratulations on his re-election and on winning Florida's twenty nine electoral votes,' Florida Democratic Chair Rod Smith said. 'Florida Democrats ran the strongest, largest ground game this state has ever seen,' he said, describing it as 'appalling' that the state had been unable to report results two days after the election. Republican officials also said they expected Obama to eventually be declared the winner in the state. 'We thought based on our polling and range of organisation that we had done what we needed to win,' Brett Doster, a Florida adviser for Romney, told the Miami Herald. 'Obviously, we didn't, and for that I and every other operative in Florida has a sick feeling that we left something on the table. I can assure you this won't happen again.' Florida Republican spokesman Brian Burgess told the Associated Press that 'given the wave that we saw all over the country, we're glad that we gave them enough of a fight in Florida to prolong the battle here as long as we did.' Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told reporters: 'We feel we will be the official winner in Florida later today.' Counties must send preliminary results to the state by midday on Saturday. Long queues were reported across the fourth most populous US state on Tuesday. Some voters waited to cast ballots until 01:30 the next morning, local time, after Romney had already delivered his concession speech. Tens of thousands of absentee ballots also arrived on election day. In Broward County, Democratic Mayor John Rodstrom told the Miami Herald: 'The big picture is that we have done this to ourselves,' blaming a combination of all sorts of municipal, state and federal elections on one ballot. 'We have these tremendously long ballots now,' he said.

Like advent calenders, stockings hanging at the end of the bed, getting socks that you don't want and making a drunken fool of yourself at the office party, the John Lewis Christmas TV advertising campaign is now apparently a firm fixture of the festive season – why? Why, for the love of God, why? - and its launch has become something of a media event in itself. The retailer has followed up last year's appallingly twee and nasty The Long Wait with The Journey, launched on Friday, featuring a snowman that goes to a certain department store (other department stores are available) to get his snowlady a present. Ah. Bless. No, not really. Created by advertising agency Adam & Eve DDB, the advert - as usual - features a thoroughly nauseating cover version of a classic, in this case Gabrielle Aplin's murder of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'The Power of Love.' Sick.

Former Everton and Wolves footballer Michael Branch has been sentenced to seven years in jail, after pleading guilty to drugs offences. Branch, thirty four, admitted charges of possession with intent to supply Class A and Class B drugs at Chester Crown Court. One charge related to the seizure of one kilo of cocaine from his home address in Otterspool, Liverpool in July. Branch made his début for Everton's first team in 1996 when he was eighteen. A second charge related to the handover of just under three kilos of amphetamine to another man in a Liverpool car park in March. He was arrested on 10 July and was sentenced on Thursday. Matt Burton, from the Serious Organised Crime Agency, said: 'This was significant criminality committed by someone who would once have been viewed as a role model. The message here is that entering the illegal drugs trade is a route to prison, not to financial gain and a celebrity lifestyle.' Branch also played for Bradford City and Chester City as well as having loan spells at Manchester City (when they were crap), Reading and Hull City.

Match officials have been interviewed by the Football Association over allegations from Moscow Chelski FC that referee Mark Clattenburg used 'inappropriate language' against John Mikel Obi. Moscow Chelski FC accused the referee of using an offensive racial term during the 3-2 defeat by The Scum in October. A decision on whether any action will be taken is expected early next week. The FA is understood to have interviewed Clattenburg, his assistants and fourth official Michael Jones. The referee denies the allegations and neither assistants Michael McDonough and Simon Long or the fourth official are understood to have heard anything which supports Moscow Chelski FC's allegations. All four officials wear microphones and ear pieces which allow them to hear what each other is saying during the game. Clattenburg will not officiate a match this weekend for a second successive week. Moscow Chelski FC said the complaint was made 'following a thorough investigation,' which they claimed was led by outside legal counsel and used information from interviews with Blues players and staff. The Metropolitan Police also started an investigation into the allegations after receiving a complaint from 'a source outside the game.'

A woman has been reported for summons for driving without due care and attention after cyclist King of the Mods Bradley Wiggins was knocked off his bike. The Tour De France winner was in a collision with a van pulling out of a garage forecourt in Wrightington on Wednesday evening. Lancashire Police said the forty four-year-old woman had voluntarily attended an interview. Olympic gold medallist Wiggins suffered a bruised hand and ribs. He spent the night at the Royal Preston Hospital following the incident on Crow Orchard Road but returned to his home in Eccleston the following day. In a statement, he said: 'Although I'm still a little bit sore I will now be spending time at home with my family and concentrating on making a full recovery. I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike soon and continuing my preparations for the 2013 season.' He also thanked staff at the hospital who he said 'looked after me so well.' The driver, who has not been named by police, was not injured in the accident.

A student in Plymouth has caused four thousand smackers worth of damage with HP Sauce. Louis Parsons was reported to be 'drunk' when he decided to pour the sauce on the floors, tables and walls at City College Plymouth. The carpentry student also used the condiment 'to write obscene words.' Parsons, charged with criminal damage, pleaded guilty in court - though he claimed that he did not remember what happened that night - and was sentenced to eighty hours of unpaid community work. The judge told him: 'I suggest you think about your drinking habits.' This blogger went into the shop the other day and asked for a bottle of sauce. When the assistant ask 'HP?' I said 'no, I've got the money, I'll pay for it.' Nah, lissun ...

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, in recognition of the fact that yer actual Keith Telly Topping is current reading Pete Townshend - rather well-written - autobiography which he picked up, el cheapo, from Amazon last week, here's a rather fine little song that doesn't get mentioned once in Who I Am? Mind you, neither does 'I'm A Boy' for that matter!

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