Sunday, November 25, 2012

Week Forty Nine: I Won't Suffer The Consequences

It was a case of 'same as usual' on Saturday evening in the overnight ratings with Strictly Come Dancing as the most-watched programme of the night with 10.25m viewers (a forty two per cent audience share) and with a peak of a whopping 11.55 during the last ten minutes of the show. Strictly's popularity also helps both its lead-in show, Pointless Celebrities (5.24m) and the subsequent Merlin (5.81m). The BBC also pulled in 2.42m viewers for F1: Brazilian Grand Prix Qualifying which had a peak of 3.40m at 16:55. ITV's early evening was, again, little short of a disaster with The Golden Rules of TV more of a golden shower with 1.51m punters at 17:45, followed by You've Been Framed! (2.59m) and odious, risible, ludicrous Take Me Out (2.99m) as a lead-in for The X Factor. The talent show, once a sure-fire banker for the most-watched TV programme of the week these days can't even manage ITV's most-watched programme of the day, was watched by an average 8.01m on ITV between 20:00 and 21:50 with a peak of 8.89m at 20:45. 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)'s audience was 8.03m from 21:50 with a peak of 8.63m at 22:10. On BBC2 Attenborough: Eighty Years in the Wild was watched by 1.10m, Dad's Army had an audience of 2.02m, followed by Qi XL with 1.64m and The Rolling Stones: Crossfire Hurricane with eight hundred and ninety three thousand.

Meanwhile, Kelly Brook, Natasha Kaplinsky, JLS's JB Gill (no, me neither) and Fabrice Muamba have been revealed to be taking part in Strictly Come Dancing's one-off Christmas show. It will be Brook's third Strictly appearance, after she danced in the 2007 series and the 2008 Christmas special. The thirty three-year-old tweeted: 'Excited to get back in the rehearsal Studio this week for Strictly Christmas Special!' Brook finished her stint in the burlesque show Crazy Horse on Friday. Also due to appear in the festive special is newsreader Kaplinsky, who won the first ever series of Strictly in 2004, and singer Rachel Stevens. Gill and former footballer Muamba, who suffered a near-fatal cardiac arrest on the pitch eight months ago, are the only beginners in the Christmas show. Strictly's 2009 winner Chris Hollins, last year's runner-up Chelsee Healey and sprinter Colin Jackson, the runner-up in the 2005 series will also appear.

Peter Kay - now, there's a comedian whose act got very old very quickly - has revealed that he is making a spoof of TV show The Secret Millionaire. Why, he didn't say. The Professional Northerner described his 'project' while speaking on Radio 2's Steve Wright In The Afternoon show. Discussing what he would do now that his eighteen-month stand-up tour is finished, Kay said: 'I'll go back and do characters now.' He continued: 'I'm already doing something on Channel Four next year. It's like a spoof of Secret Millionaire. I'm playing an old Irish guy from Limerick who runs a coach company. So it's nice to be able to put the stand-up away and put a wig on, and some false teeth, and be somebody else for a while, and do that for a few years.' Kay's previous TV projects include Phoenix Nights - which was quite good - and reality contest spoof Peter Kay's Britain's Got The Pop Factor ... And Possibly A New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly On Ice. Which, really wasn't.

The BBC had 'complete control' over a Newsnight report that led to a senior Tory being wrongly exposed as a paedophile, according to 'an investigation' by one of the key parties involved as the game of claim and counter-claim over the fiasco continues. Ah, complete control, eh? They said we'd be artistically free, but it's just a bit of paper. The claim is, according to a thoroughly sick and agenda-soaked piece in the Observer Morning Star, likely to 'heap further pressure on the corporation at a time when its journalism is under intense scrutiny and its senior journalists are openly blaming management cost-cutting for the debacle.' A report by the trustees of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, an independent organisation that seconded an employee to Newsnight to help with the story, explains how it 'spun out of control' due to a combination of 'political intervention, social media networks and poor decision-making by all the parties involved.' The Newsnight report, broadcast on 2 November, provoked a furore after it led to Lord McAlpine, the former Tory party treasurer, being wrongly alleged to be a paedophile by some people on Twitter. Again, can someone tell this blogger when, exactly, Twitter became the Final Arbiter Of All Things? The report, about allegations of child abuse at children's homes in Wales in the 1970s and 80s, was presented by Angus Stickler, a BIJ employee who is now on a leave of absence, who had previously worked for the BBC for sixteen years. McAlpine was not named in the Newsnight report. However, on the day of its broadcast, Iain Overton, the BIJ's then editor, posted on Twitter: 'We've got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile.' The tweet sparked a frenzy of speculation and led to McAlpine's wrongful exposure on a number of social media sites. Overton has since resigned and the BBC has paid McAlpine one hundred and eighty thousand smackers of license fee payers money in damages. Plus costs. An interim BBC report confirmed that the Newsnight film was broadcast only five days after it had been commissioned. It noted: 'There was a different understanding by the key parties about where the responsibility lay for the final editorial sign-off for the story on the day.' Or, in other words, everybody thought someone else was doing what they were supposed to and, in fact, nobody was. Now the report by the BIJ's trustees, 'seen' by the Observer, 'stokes concerns about the corporation's oversight of its news operations by placing responsibility for the Newsnight report firmly at the door of the BBC.' They explain that the bureau was paid to second Stickler to the BBC but insist that it had 'no responsibility for the making or transmission of the programme,' which was subject to 'editing, vetting and direction by' the BBC's lawyers and editors. All of which sounds fair enough although it somewhat makes a mockery of Overton's comments that 'we've got a Newsnight out tonight.' The trustees claim: 'The bureau had no responsibility for the making or transmission of the programme.' The report alleges that on 25 October, Stickler was e-mailed by a former colleague at the BBC, 'who referred to allegations [Labour MP] Tom Watson had made in the House of Commons on the day before.' Stickler explained that 'he had a great deal of information, and he was advised to relay this to Liz Gibbons, acting deputy editor of Newsnight, who discussed a possible story with him. It was agreed that he would be seconded to work for Newsnight for a fee of three thousand two hundred and fifty smackers during which he would assist with a programme over which the BBC would (and did) have complete editorial and legal control.' The trustees insist Stickler did not take any information, notes or records belonging to the bureau to the BBC for the purposes of compiling the Newsnight report. They claim: 'All his information on the child abuse inquiry had been acquired years earlier, when he was employed by the BBC. His involvement in the course of the Newsnight programme had no connection with the bureau; which was not contacted for any assistance or editorial advice during the making of the programme.' The account, with Observer crows, 'raises questions about the BBC's use of external journalists and its editorial oversight of news operations.' Several of its most senior journalists, notably Newsnight anchor Jeremy Paxman, have expressed concern that the corporation has been cutting its news budget while layers of management have become 'bloated.' The BIJ's trustees accept it was a 'serious mistake' to allow Stickler's secondment on such terms to help make a programme 'in which he would be identified as a BIJ employee but over which the bureau would have no control.' The report acknowledges there was 'a failure within the bureau' of editorial and managerial controls 'and the surveillance thereof by the trustees.' The trustees insist 'protocols' have been put in place to ensure such an event does not recur - that's if the BIJ manages to survive the fall out, which is looking increasingly unlikely - and that 'a full narrative of events and evidence' will be published 'when the BBC has completed its inquiry.'

And, on that bombshell, here's yer actual Top Telly Tips:-
Saturday 1 December
Stephen Fry hosts another round of Qi XL - 9:00 BBC2 - which the BBC continues to describe in its publicity materials as 'the peculiar panel quiz' rather than, you know, 'the national treasure' or 'a TV show in which, dangerously, you might just learn something.' Anyway, yer man Fry finds out how much Julian Clary, Ross Noble, Bill Bailey and regular panellist Alan Davies know about jumpers, awarding points for the most interesting answers. That's if Davies isn't too busy being sued over various comments Twitter, of course. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is with occasional Qi contributor Lee Mack on the subject of Twitter, personally. 'The default position now is that comedians do Twitter but I don’t know why. Every bad story you see about a comedian has a connection to Twitter. Before Twitter, if comedians wrote what they had for lunch on a Post-it and put it through your letterbox you wouldn't find it acceptable – but now apparently it is on Twitter.'

The kidnapper continues to insist that he is seeking to recover his debt in The Killing - 9:00 BBC4. If Lund is to save Emilie's life, it will be up to her to find out what the debt is and how it should be repaid. Following a request for Robert Zeuthen's life in exchange for Emile's, police set out to organise the exchange. Meanwhile, the integrity of a few high-ranking politicians is called into question, as Prime Minister Kamper takes a dramatic decision. Danish crime drama with a dark twist, starring Sofie Gråbøl.

Michael Jackson: Bad Twenty Five - 9:45 BBC2 - is, as you might expect from the title, Spike Lee's documentary assessing and celebrating Wacko Jacko's 1987 release Bad, which spawned five consecutive US number one singles. The documentary features interviews conducted by Lee himself with some of those involved in the making of the LP - although, obviously, not Jack himself - the accompanying videos and the world tour which followed its release, with contributions from Martin Scorsese, Walter Yetnikoff, Kanye West, CeeLo Green (who is, himself, bad. Not meaning good) and Sheryl Crow. Interesting fact about Ms Crow is that in 2007 she said a ban on 'using too much toilet paper' should be introduced 'to help the environment.' Crow suggested using 'only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where two to three could be required.' Yer actual Keith Telly Topping suggests Sheryl come round his gaff after a night oot on the beer and the curry and see if she can get away with one sheet.

The twinkle-toed celebrities take another step - or a few dozen dance steps, as it happens - closer to lifting the glitterball trophy in the nation's current favourite TV show Strictly Come Dancing - 6:40 BBC1. As the less able dancers have been slowly whittled away, the viewers and judges' decision is getting tougher each week. It seems unlikely that audience favourites Denise and Louis will have been voted out, but the question is - who will be competing against them? Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly present, while Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Darcey Bussell provide their usual brickbats and bouquets in equal measure. The results can be seen tomorrow at 7.20pm.

Sunday 2 December
Eve receives some new information from Lili about her missing son in the final episode of The Secret of Crickley Hall - 9:00 BBC1. And, while Gabe heads to London to speak to the police, his wife and the girls are left with Gordon at Crickley Hall, where it becomes clear that Cribben's plan to find one final child for his dastardly malarkey and thoroughly wicked doings means that everyone's lives are in danger. The parallel storyline back in 1943 unfolds with Percy returning from the war to find Nancy gone - and when he discovers the contents of the punishment book, he confronts the manager about his abusive behaviour. Suranne Jones, Tom Ellis, Douglas Henshall, David Warner and Sarah Lynch star.

Steppin' Out with Katherine Jenkins - 9:00 ITV - is a cabaret show featuring musical performances by the classical Welsh singer and her guests. Building on her success on Dancing With The Stars, the American version of Strictly, Katherine takes part in a number of routines including the tango, tap and Viennese waltz, and is joined by comedy actor Mark Benton, who takes on the role of master of ceremonies, introducing collaborations and surprises galore. It says here. Il Divo, Stooshe, Andre Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra, The Overtones, Tom Chambers, Only Boys Aloud and Kev Orkian join in the fun.

Brody makes a necessary phone call before matters spiral further out of control, and Saul teams up with Virgil and Max to dig out information on one of their own in the latest episode of Homeland - Channel Four 9:00. The Brody family enjoys an all-expenses-paid holiday - of sorts - while Carrie finds herself preparing for the most important breakfast meeting of her career. US espionage thriller, starring Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Morena Baccarin and Mandy Patinkin.
The girls attend a huge warehouse party in Bushwick, leading Hannah to discover a surprising secret about Adam when she meets him outside of his apartment for the first time in The Girls - 10:00 Sky Atlantic. Meanwhile, Marnie is distraught when she sees her ex with a new flame, and Shoshanna unwittingly smokes crack cocaine. Alleged comedy, although this blogger has yet to find a single, solitary person who finds it even remotely funny, starring Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet and Jemima Kirke.
Monday 3 December
For the first time in its long history Claridge's , the famously discreet luxury hotel in Mayfair opens its doors to documentary cameras, with director Jane Treays spending a year behind the scenes following the staff and guests in Inside Claridge's - 9:00 BBC2. In the opening episode, the Melchors from California arrive for their annual two-week stay, rekindling their relationship with personal butler Michael Lynch, while energetic general manager Thomas Kochs travels to New York to drum up new business from leading US travel agents.

After four weeks of competition the semi-finals of MasterChef: The Professionals begin - 8:00 BBC2 - and the eight remaining contenders must prepare a dish to impress judges Michel Roux Jr, Gregg Wallace and scowling Monica Galetti. Against the clock, they have to show skill, flair, flavour and immaculate presentation, with only the six best chefs progressing to the next stage and the rest getting the boot.

In Stephen Fry: Gadget Man - 8:00 Channel Four - yer actual Stephen Fry his very self - and his comedy beard - looks at technology which can make work easier and more enjoyable, teaming up with yer actual Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie to test some of the latest labour-saving gadgets and playing around with some of the entrepreneur's early inventions. Hopefully they won't include Stottingtot Hotshots when they were crap. Other innovations include a pen that transcribes notes direct to a computer; a coffee machine that can be linked to a mobile phone, and an executive sleep pod. Stephen also attempts to build a robot version of himself, planning to send the replica in his place to attend an important awards ceremony.

Comedians and Eight Out Of Ten Cats team captains Sean Lock and Jon Richardson head to Louisiana to live, work and play with Creole cowboys in the bayou in The Real Man's Road Trip: Sean and Jon Go West - 9:00 Channel Four. They are asked to help castrate a bullock and while Sean impresses his hosts by having a go at playing the washboard, Jon's vegetarianism leaves them nonplussed. Stuck in an insect-ridden shack with frogs in the toilet, cattle to herd across state, and the prospect of a journey into alligator-infested swamps, how will the duo survive?
Tuesday 4 December
The comedian and his team of experts investigate the human brain in Dara O Briain's Science Club - 9:00 BBC2. Science journalist Alok Jha examines whether drugs can make people more intelligent, oceanographer Helen Czerski explores cutting-edge therapies allowing the brain to control artificial limbs remotely, and materials scientist Mark Miodownik takes a smartphone apart.

Celia and Alan hit a stumbling block when the vicar refuses to marry them in church, so they go in search of venues for a civil ceremony - only to find themselves trapped inside a creepy medieval mansion in the latest episode of Last Tango in Halifax - 9:00 BBC1. Gillian encourages John to stick up for himself, so he returns to Harrogate and tells Caroline he is moving back in - whether she likes it or not - sparking another spectacular argument. Raff moves out of the farm after Gillian discovers she is the reason he attacked Paul. Sally Wainwright's light-hearted drama, starring Derek Jacobi, Anne Reid, Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker.

Nearly thirty years after her triumphant début novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson returns with Alan Yentob to the scene of her childhood in Lancashire in Imagine - 10:35 BBC1. She was adopted and brought up to be a missionary by the larger-than-life Mrs Winterson, but Jeanette followed a different path - she found literature, fell in love with a girl and escaped to university. Following her recent memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, she tells the story of her recent breakdown and suicide attempt, her quest to find her birth mother and how the power of books helped her to survive.

Wednesday 5 December
The War On Britain's Roads - 9:00 BBC1 - is a documentary offering an insight into the daily conflict between the thirty four million motorists and twelve million cyclists as they compete for the same crowded space on the UK's roads. Cycle helmet cameras provide a close-up view of the unfolding tension and conflict as everyday incidents get out of hand, collisions take place and police on bikes chase down errant road-users. In addition to the footage, a mother who lost her cyclist daughter talks about what she did to change safety on the roads and a cab driver reveals how his own loss altered his opinion of bike-riders for ever.

Freddie and Bel make startling discoveries about the extent of Soho club-owner Cilenti's influence - but fear they may have gone too far in pursuit of the story when a source puts herself in mortal danger in The Hour - 9:00 BBC2. Hector, meanwhile, confronts old demons with Laurie and risks upsetting the team by protecting his best friend, while Lix and Randall receive uplifting news.
In the aftermath of a family tragedy, thirty-year-old Mark Nicholas returns to the town where he grew up, but after ten years away, coming home is more difficult than he could ever have imagined in The Town - 9:00 ITV. An influential mayor is now in charge and there's a claustrophobic sense that everyone knows everyone else's business. As Mark starts to be drawn back into the life he left behind, catching up with school friends and his first love, he must decide whether to stay permanently. Drama, starring Sherlock's Andrew Scott, Martin Clunes, Charlotte Riley, Julia McKenzie and Gerard Kearns.
Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore uncovers the role of religion in creating and maintaining the power of the Italian city in Rome: A History of the Eternal City - 9:00 BBC4. In the first episode, he explores how every event in ancient Rome revolved around worship and that nothing took place without calling on the Pantheon, the temple to their gods. He also reveals the part played by sacredness and sacrifice in Roman culture.

Thursday 6 December
The Secret Life of Rubbish - 9:00 BBC2 - is a programme charting the evolution of waste collection in Britain concludes with a look at how the privatisation of public services and recycling revolutionised the population's perception of rubbish during the 1970s and 1980s. Ian Ross, a former binman who made millions by taking over the refuse contract from a council tells his story, while Ron England explains how he set up the world's first bottle bank in a supermarket's car park in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

Having rescued a young woman from Vajkal's farmhouse, Richie is on the run in the final episode of The Fear - 10:00 Channel Four - and is in a state of full-blown dementia. Pursued by the police and Marin's gang, the Becketts are holed up in Cal's hideaway when Richie has a rare moment of clarity - but will it last long enough for him to save his family? Crime drama, starring Peter Mullan, Paul Nicholls, Harry Lloyd and Dragos Bucur.

Cheeky Scouse funster John Bishop was once a pharmaceuticals sales director, but changed career to become a stand-up comedian. Well, dey do doh, don't dey, doh? In Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1 - he traces his family tree and is surprised to discover that he is not the only one in his family to have ended up on the stage - although what his great-great-grandfather Charles Bishop did gives John something to think about. He also explores what happened to one of his other great-great-grandfathers, who spent time as a prisoner-of-war in the Crimea.

Fridat 7 December
Journalist and broadcaster Janet Street-Porter is one of the guest panellists on the latest Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1 - as Ian Hislop and Paul Merton take another sideways look at the week's news, with an as-yet-unannounced host keeping order.

In the latest Qi - 10:00 BBC2 - Stephen Fry hosts another round of the peculiar panel quiz and finds out how much Professor Brian Cox, Rhys Darby, Jason Manford and regular panellist Alan Davies know about justice, awarding points for the most interesting answers. Davies of course might, just, be knowing a bit more about justice than he ever thought he would when he was in The Brief if press reports are accurate. Time will tell. It usually does.
To mark the one hundredth anniversary of the annual extravaganza, One Hundred Years of The Royal Variety Performance - 9:00 ITV - narrated by the luckiest man on TV, Phillip Schofield, tells the story of a show that over the past century has entertained generations of the royal family and raised huge sums for charity. Among the celebrities recalling classic moments from the event's illustrious history are Bruce Forsyth, Barry Manilow, Ronnie Corbett, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Liza Minnelli, Katherine Jenkins and Cilla Black. There's also a look behind the scenes of this year's event, which was hosted by David Walliams at the Royal Albert Hall.

And so to the news: Soon to be former Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has defended her role on reality TV show 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). She claimed - with no supporting evidence whatsoever - that it would 'help' her party by showing 'that a Conservative MP may not have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth and gone to a public school.' Indeed, it shows that some of them are shameless self-publicists who don't understand how ludicrous they seem or, for that matter, know that sixteen million is an audience 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) hasn't achieved for three years. Dorries was suspended from the Tory party in Parliament after becoming the first sitting MP to appear on the show. The MP for Mid-Bedfordshire lasted twelve days in the jungle on the ITV programme before the viewers gave her the boot. In an interview on BBC Radio 4's Week In Westminster (which should, really, have been renamed Fortnight In Australia for the duration), she claimed that her appearance on the show had been 'a good advert' for the Conservatives. She said: 'Twice as many people have submitted Google searches for Nadine Dorries as they have done for David Cameron and those Google inquiries have come from areas like Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle - areas that normally don't search the names of Conservative MPs.' She added: 'The people who discovered that a Conservative MP may not have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth and gone to a public school, that might just be a first step. I haven't claimed that I'm going to completely change the perception of the Conservative Party by twelve days appearing on a reality TV programme. But I know what I have done is that all those people who watch that programme and all those people who've searched my name afterwards do know that maybe not everybody, not every MP in the Conservative Party, comes from the background that they may have thought they did.' Dorries revealed she had asked her researchers to compile a list of the MPs who had been critical of her. She said: 'I'll be very interested to discover those MPs who've made comments, how many of them have taken their own little jollies abroad since they became MPs and how often they've taken them. Not, of course, that I'll be using that information, and I can also guarantee, it will probably be the sycophants and the Cameroons who've made the comments - those who've been doing Number 10's bidding.' But she added: 'It doesn't really bother me. If it did, if I didn't have a thick skin, I wouldn't be a working class female in this environment in Westminster.' On whether she believed she made the right decision to take part in the programme, she said: 'I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever.' Before appearing on the programme, Dorries said that she wanted to use it to raise awareness of issues she was interested in such as reducing the time limit on abortions from twenty four weeks to twenty weeks. The Conservative Party has been concerned about Dorries' inability to do parliamentary and constituency business while she was taking part in the programme. Budge Wells, deputy chairman of Mid-Beds Conservative Association, said that she would be 'given the chance to put her case' to local members when she returned. But he added that he thought her participation in the programme was 'unnecessary' and had prompted nearly one hundred complaints from constituents. Dorries said she would donate her MP's salary for the time she was on the show to charity. The payment she received from ITV, however, she's keeping. Because she's likely to need it when her next job will probably involve her asking 'do you want fries with that?'

If you were watching the News At Ten on BBC1 on Saturday night dear blog reader, you may well have found yourself slightly distracted during a report by deputy political editor James Landale on the new energy bill. Not that it wasn't fascinating stuff, of course, it was just that James seemed to have had a bit of trouble with his glasses. It looked very much as if the left lens had been badly cracked and that a makeshift repair job had been attempted.
Impressionist Rory Bremner took to Twitter to share a screenshot of Landale, saying: 'Bloody hell it's rough at Westminster. Who smashed James Landale's glasses?' It turns out, of course, that there hadn't been any fisticuffs after all - it was just a trick of the light. 'I blame the editor who insisted I ditch the umbrella. Rain and glasses and bright lights do not mix,' tweeted Landale, while a BBC news publicist confirmed: 'It was simply bright lights reflecting in his glasses in the rain.'

More performances have been added to next month's Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular. The event at the Sydney Opera House will feature music composed by Murray Gold, performed by The Metropolitan Orchestra, conducted by Ben Foster. Originally planned to be held on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 December only, two shows were added for Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 December. Now three extra performances have been slotted on for the following two days: matinee and evening concerts on Thursday 20 December and an evening one on Friday 21 December. The musical celebration of Doctor Who will be presented by Alex Kingston and Mark Williams, with various monsters from the series poised to over-run the concert venue too.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is happy to report that he's still rather in a new wave mood after Friday night's Punk Off at the Tyneside. So, here's a little classic from 1977 from the divine Pauline Murray and her boys.

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