Monday, December 24, 2012

A Mirrored Image Of What You Wanted To Be

The director of the Doctor Who Christmas episode, Saul Metzstein, was interviewed by the Daily Record, during which he discussed the new-look TARDIS and making a 360° pan around the interior: 'It's the shot where you can ­really see that the TARDIS is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Because of the shape of the set and the studio, it was pretty tricky to pull off, but visual effects are a lot better than they used to be. The biggest complication was giving Matt Smith enough time to acquaint himself with where all the dials and levers were. Obsessive Doctor Who fans, like Steven Moffat, are very particular about the continuity of which bits turn round when the TARDIS is flying, and what lights react to what. Personally I'm not so bothered.' Talking about the design of the titular eponymous Snowmen, he added: 'The Snowmen were pretty difficult to get right. The ones we started off with looked like Zippy from Rainbow, and you can't have non-scary, almost cute-looking monsters. We were very amused when we saw the John Lewis snowman advert – I guess we've made their evil cousins!'
Olympic Gymnast Louis Smith has been crowned champion of this year's Strictly Come Dancing. The twenty three-year-old, who won silver and bronze medals at this summer's Olympic Games, lifted the glitterball trophy after performing a quick-footed Charleston. 'I can finally say I won something in the year 2012,' he said. Smith beat actress Dani Harmer, TV presenter Denise Van Outen and Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh in the hotly-contested competition. Smith was this year's youngest competitor, and was partnered with professional dancer Flavia Cacace. He suffered several injuries during the fourteen-week contest, and said he would require a knee operation now the dancing has finished. His back also caused problems throughout, which stopped him from performing too many dramatic lifts before the final. The majority of those came during his show dance, which he performed topless to Take That's 'Rule The World.' Judge Bruno Tonionli said the routine 'blew me away. That had grace. It had fluidity. It was sensual, as well,' he added. Only, you know, in an Italian accent. Head judge Len Goodman agreed, saying: 'If this show goes on to another twenty years, I don't think we'll see another show dance like that.' Smith had struggled in the opening weeks of the show, his lack of showmanship resulting in lower-than-expected scores. Goodman said there was 'no fire' in his performance - but things started to pick up after he enlisted the help of a drama coach to prepare for a Charleston in week nine. That performance was repeated for the final, with a daring double somersault over his dancing partner. Cacace, who first appeared in the show in 2004, yelped in fear as Smith tumbled above her head - but the effort proved worth it, giving her the first Strictly win of her career. Smith said he would celebrate his win by breaking his diet and taking a well-earned rest. 'I can't wait to have a drink of mulled wine, eat sausage rolls. I might order a Chinese on Christmas Eve,' he said. Well, why not? Yer actual Keith Telly Topping certainly intends to. In fact, you can come round Stately Telly Topping Manor if you like, Lou. So long as you're paying. Mine's dry-fried salt and chilli King Prawn with fried rice, thanks. 'I've pretty much been non-stop since April. To go from the Olympics straight into this, it's just been crazy,' he added. Earlier in the night, children's TV regular Dani Harmer became the first celebrity to be eliminated, after nerves appeared to affect her show dance, performed to Queen's turgid shower of diarrhoea 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. The remaining contestants then performed their favourite dance from the series, before Smith was revealed as the winner. Making the final cut was a shocked Denise Van Outen, who had been voted into the dance-off during the quarter and semi-finals. The former Big Breakfast presenter was undoubtedly saved by a bravely acrobatic show dance, peppered with daring lifts and spins. Tonioli called the routine 'epic,' while fellow judge Craig Revel Horwood said: 'I can't believe the things your body did.' Fnaar, fnaar. 'I can't believe it,' Van Outen replied. 'I'm nearly forty.' The judges also had high praise for pop star Kimberley Walsh, whom they dubbed 'Nimble Kimble.' She set temperatures soaring with a pyrotechnic performance of Beyonce's 'Crazy In Love', involving a mid-routine costume change. 'Indecent, improper, absolute filth,' said Horwood, channelling the Daily Scum Mail for a moment. 'I loved it.' After the show, Smith told the BBC that he had been convinced the Girls Aloud singer 'was going to walk away with' the title. 'I thought she was outstanding. When they announced us, I couldn't believe it.' Walsh returned the compliment, saying 'we all did our best and we all loved every minute of it.' Far from being disappointed, the thirty one-year-old said she felt a 'bizarre sense of calm to know the result.' Although the main series has now ended, Strictly will return for a pre-recorded special on Christmas Day. Among the newcomers will be veteran actress Sheila Hancock, former footballer Fabrice Muamba and Jonathan Gill from the pop group JLS (no, me neither). Meanwhile, judge Darcey Bussell has confirmed that she will return for the 2013 series, after making her début this year. 'I've thoroughly enjoyed my first series,' she said, 'and I'm absolutely delighted to be returning.' This year's competition - which also saw Jerry Hall, Lisa Riley and Fern Britton take part - regularly beat ITV rival The X Factor in the ratings. Which was funny.
Strictly Come Dancing's finale peaked with fourteen million viewers on Saturday night, early overnight data shows. Louis Smith's win in Saturday's tenth series climax was the second most-watched ever behind 2010's finale. BBC1's ninety-minute broadcast, shown between 6.30pm and 8pm, averaged 12.35m and a forty nine per cent share - eclipsing the audience for last year's final. The penultimate episode of Merlin followed with an impressive 7.25m, before Strictly returned at 9pm for its results show with an average of 12.11m. BBC News was then watched by 8.44m and Match of the Day capped an excellent night for the channel with 3.97m. Earlier in the evening, Pointless Celebrities has an audience of 5.96m. ITV could only muster a truly pathetic 1.61m for The Nation's Favourite Christmas Song from 6.30pm. Odious, risible Paddy McGuinness's 2012 Show & Telly gave ITV its biggest audience of the night, pulling in just 2.99m crushed victims of society from 8pm, after which a Jonathan Ross Show special mustered but 1.89m from 9pm. Not really that special, was it? A Top of the Pops 2 festive edition was watched by 1.99m (including yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self) on BBC2 from 8pm, while Five's screening of A Christmas Carol interested 1.49m. Overall, BBC1 dominated primetime with a huge forty per cent share of the available audience, way ahead of ITV's laughably piss-poor 8.7 per cent.

Meanwhile, yer actual Bruce Forsyth his very self has denied rumours that he will give up presenting Strictly Come Dancing. The eighty four-year-old showbiz legend, who has hosted all ten series of the BBC ballroom competition, insisted that he has no plans to retire. Forsyth told the Daily Scum Mail ahead of Saturday night's final: 'I am certainly not going to retire - that is the last thing on my mind. It is the buzz of working that keeps me going. It's that wonderful feeling.' The presenter agreed with BBC executives in 2011 that he would present the Saturday night show and step down from hosting the pre-recorded results on Sunday. 'I am very grateful for the way I've been allowed to continue,' he said. 'I am quite amazed. I sometimes stop and think, "What are you doing, you must be mad." But it still makes me feel good, that's all there is to it. Although I'm eighty four, I still get the adrenaline rush walking on to the studio floor for Strictly. I just hope I never run out of adrenaline. In fact I'm going to phone Boots today and order some for next year.' Forsyth added: 'If you've experienced the warmth of an audience, the achievement of getting your first laugh and entertaining them, [it] keeps it all going.'

David Walliams's comedy drama Mr Stink was the most-watched show of Sunday's primetime schedule, overnight ratings data indicates. The adaptation of the 2009 children's book copped 6.34m punters from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. Also on BBC1, 4.18m watched Victoria Wood's slow and not particularly interesting Joyce Hatto biopic Loving Miss Hatto from 8.30pm to 10.30pm. A similar figure, 4.85m, had watched the Antiques Roadshow for the hour earlier. At 5.30pm Countryfile had an audience of 4.52m - slightly below the series' usual audience size, albeit it was shown in a slot an hour early than normal and it was also broadcast on BBC2 in Scotland so comparison with previous episodes is difficult. Later BBC News pulled in an audience of 5.11m and 3.61m watched highlights of the last pre-Christmas Premier League games on Match of the Day 2 from 10.30pm to 11.30pm. On BBC2 The Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show was watched by 2.5 million then, after some crappy Victoria Wood repeat that nobody with half a brain in their skull was interested in, the Dragons' Den Christmas Special was watched by 1.64m, James May's Christmas Toy Stories grabbed a similar figure (1.62m) and The Sarah Millican Television Programme had an audience of 1.77m. ITV had another miserable night with the three million punters who watched The Cube between 8pm and 9pm being as good as it got for the third channel. Joanna Lumley's The Search for Noah's Ark had an unexpectedly low 2.39 million from 9pm to 10.30pm. Earlier Ade's Christmas Crackers was watched by 2.48m. Ade Edmondson beaten by a thirty nine year old Morecambe & Wise episode. Now that's funny. Ahead of the premiere of Christmas Eve's sequel, The Snowman had an audience of 1.90m on Channel Four at 6.30pm. The finale of US drama Homeland scored a similar 1.91m from 9pm to 10.30pm, with an extra two hundred thousand tuning in an hour later on C4+1. BBC1 convincingly led primetime on Sunday with a share of 20.5 per cent between 7pm and 11pm, followed by ITV on ten per cent. Sky1's All Star Christmas Presents had just two hundred and fifty eight thousand viewers. A bad rating for a monstrously bad show.

Finally, on the subject of ratings, here's the final, consolidated figures for the Top Twenty One programmes week ending 16 December 2012:-
1 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 11.52m
2 BBC Sports Personality of the Year - Sun BBC1 - 10.76m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 10.06m
4 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.58m
5 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 8.47m
6 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 8.01m
7 Merlin - Sat BBC1 - 7.34m
8 Last Tango in Halifax - Tue BBC1 - 7.33m
9 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.32m
10 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.74m
11 The Poison Tree - Mon ITV - 5.05m*
12 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.01m
13 Holby City - Tue BBC1 - 5.00m
14 A Question of Sport - Sat BBC1 - 4.90m
15 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.86m
16 The ONE Show - Tue BBC1 - 4.64m
17 Odious Risible Unfunny Take Me Out - Sat ITV - 4.63m
18 Inside Claridges - Mon BBC2/BBC HD - 4.56m
19 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.52
20 The National Lottery: Saturday Draws - Sat BBC1 - 4.34m
21 MasterChef: The Professionals - Thu BBC2/BBC HD - 4.23m
The programme marked '*' does not include HD figures. BBC2 had its best week in ages, in addition to Inside Claridges and MasterChef: The Professionals , the channel also scored more than decent audiences for the likes of University Challenge (3.17m), Dad's Army (3.01m), Qi (2.47m) and Clive Dunn: A Tribute (2.46m). Channel Four's weekly highlight was, as usual, Homeland (3.06m).

The BFI plan to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who with special screenings each month next year in the lead-up to the anniversary itself in November. The organisation has announced details of what they intend to show during the first quarter of 2013. The season kicks off at the very beginning with William Hartnell's first four-part story An Unearthly Child from 1963 on the 12 January; this will be followed on the 9 February with Patrick Troughton in the 1967 classic The Tomb of the Cybermen. In March Jon Pertwee is up against The Master and his nefarious skulduggery as 1971's The Mind of Evil is unveiled in newly restored colour. A particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping, that one. 'Brigadier, do you think for once you could arrive before The Nick of Time?!' All of the stories are accompanied by a Q&A panel, though guests have yet to be announced. Justin Johnson, BFI Programmer, said: 'The BFI is very proud of our long relationship with both the BBC and the Doctor Who production team. We are delighted to be playing complete stories featuring each incarnation of The Doctor, supported by Q&As with special guests. As well as the TV work, we also plan to play newly digitally restored versions of the Peter Cushing films, courtesy of Studio Canal. This is the perfect opportunity for old fans and new to come and learn about the genesis of the show and its continuing journey.' Doctor Who's executive producer Caroline Skinner added: 'To be doing this enormous and exciting project for the BFI is just a dream come true. We're delighted that in this fiftieth year of the show we have such brilliant support from the BFI for our celebration of Doctor Who's cultural heritage. Some of the stories we're going to show are thrilling, surprising, funny and just plain classic TV. Enjoy, everyone!' In November, the climax of the BFI's celebration will include a special preview of An Adventure In Space And Time, the drama written by Mark Gatiss exploring the personalities that brought the BBC's long-running and popular family SF drama to life. The stories representing the other eight Doctors will be confirmed next year. Although, you can probably guess yourselves which one they'll be choosing for the Paul McGann era.
Guy Ritchie is currently shooting a World War II TV drama called The Few. The series is based on group of RAF servicemen who fought in the Second World War. An alleged 'source' allegedly told the Sun: 'Guy is really excited about the project. He can't wait to put his stamp on it. He's always been interested in the military, so telling the story of these heroes was something he would love to bring to a new audience. It could be as big as Band of Brothers.' The subject is said to be close to the director's heart as his grandfather Major Stewart Ritchie died in action on the battlefields of France in 1940. The new series is not connected to the WW2 novel of the same name. Ritchie's series is an original idea conceived by the director's producing partner Lionel Wigram and will be written by Tom Butterworth and Chris Hurford. 'The Few' was, of course, the name given by Churchill (not the dog) to the fighter aircrew of the RAF who protected Britain from the threat of invasion from the Nazis during the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Dawn French claims that she 'nearly turned down' the starring role in the sitcom The Vicar Of Dibley because she did not think it was funny enough. And, she was right, it wasn't. But, sadly for all concerned, she took the gig in the end. Tragedy.

The Queen is to pay tribute to the nation's Olympic and Paralympic athletes in her Christmas broadcast. She will take about 'the splendid summer of sport' and highlight how the sportsmen and women allowed spectators to feel part of the 'excitement and drama.' For the first time the address will be broadcast in 3D. A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said the speech, which will be shown, as usual, on Christmas Day, would focus on 'service, achievement and the spirit of togetherness.' During the address Her Maj will say: 'As London hosted a splendid summer of sport, all those who saw the achievement and courage at the Olympic and Paralympic Games were further inspired by the skill, dedication, training and teamwork of our athletes. In pursuing their own sporting goals, they gave the rest of us the opportunity to share something of the excitement and drama.'

ITV plc have announced that it has agreed to acquire a controlling stake in Gurney Productions, a fast-growing producer of factual entertainment and reality programmes for leading US cable television networks. ITV will pay forty million dollars for a 61.5 per cent stake in Gurney Productions, with a put-and -all option to buy the remaining thirty eight per cent of the company. The put-and-call option could be exercised from three years after the initial deal and at the end of year five. Gurney Productions is a high-margin business with three quarters of its revenues coming from returnable series. The company's earnings before interest, tax and amortisation for 2012 is forecast to be at least ten million bucks. The acquisition marks a significant step forward in building a strong international content business, a key part of ITV's Transformation Plan. It will strengthen and complement ITV's existing position as a producer for major US television networks. Gurney Productions, which was founded in 2005 by Scott and Deirdre Gurney, has become a leading independent producer of large-scale returning series for US cable networks. The company's portfolio includes Duck Dynasty – currently one of the biggest cable TV shows in the US. Adam Crozier, chief executive of ITV, said: 'Growing ITV Studios is a key part of our strategy to rebalance the group. Our studios business is already showing strong organic growth and the acquisition of Gurney is an important step forward as we continue to expand our international production capability. We see the US as a key creative market, and having a sizeable presence there is central to the expansion of our global content business. ITV Studios America has been growing revenues at around twenty per cent for the last two years under the leadership of Paul Buccieri. Gurney is a great company with terrific programme brands, which will add scale to our already successful US business. Over the last seven years, the team at Gurney has built a strong and growing pipeline of high-end factual entertainment and reality programmes and I'm absolutely delighted to welcome Scott and Deirdre to the ITV fold, where we believe the business can continue to develop and thrive.'
The magician, odious opinionated slaphead, horrorshow (and drag) Paul Daniels has written about kissing a schoolgirl hitch-hiker and 'various encounters' with teenage 'groupies' in the 1970s and questioned whether some of alleged naughty old scallywag Jimmy Savile's accusers are 'for real.' The seventy four-year-old has-been who can't get a gig on TV these days to save his life wrote that he had 'forced' one girl out of his car and fled with his lights off after learning that the she was still at school in a blog, since removed, on his website. Suggesting it was 'impossible' to tell the age of girls and young women in their 'super-short mini-skirts, teetering high heels and slap [make up]', the desperate, dreadful old nobody said: 'Did I have such a life? Yes. I would be lying if I said I didn't. Were they all over sixteen? OMG I hope so. Can I remember them? No. Life back then was a blur, and therein lies a major problem with what is going on now,' added Daniels. Yeah. That's called selective amnesia, mate. 'It was thirty five to forty years ago. How the hell can you say you did or you didn't? Anyone can come along and claim to have been "abused" by anyone they care to name.' Savile was undoubtedly 'a bad guy,' said Daniels, before adding: 'But I have been wondering if all of the accusers are for real. I can fully understand some women not wanting to talk about what happened to them, but for over four hundred of them to keep quiet for forty years seems strange. If they have truly suffered in silence for all that time then I am truly sorry if they read this and it upsets them.' A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman on Monday said officers on Operation Yewtree, the sex abuse inquiry, were 'not prepared to discuss' whether they were investigating Daniels' comments, which reportedly were published last week. So, that'll be a 'yes', then. They were reprinted in the Sun and the Daily Scum Mail but now appear to have been removed from his website. The NSPCC, the charity which aims to protect children from abuse, challenged Daniels' suggestion it was 'strange' for people to wait so long before coming forward. 'Accusations of sexual offences must always be taken seriously and fully investigated no matter how long ago they were. Victims often find it very difficult to speak out and may therefore not report offences for years or even decades,' said its spokesperson. 'But there was never a time when abuse such as that suffered by Savile's victims was considered acceptable. We must all be supportive of those who have now taken the difficult step of speaking out and their accusations must be fully investigated.' Daniels' account of his own encounter with the schoolgirl said he was driving home from a show when he was thirty, and saw her thumbing a lift. In the car, the 'more than slightly tiddly' girl 'moaned on about her boyfriend ignoring her in the pub that night and that she would get own back on him. "Oh goodie for me" I thought,' wrote Daniels. When he dropped her off, 'I kissed her goodnight and it got a bit more passionate. Thank God it didn't get too passionate because something she said sent a shiver down my spine. Another question and she said she was still at school. I had her out of the car as fast as I could and I drove off with the lights off so she couldn't see my number plate!' Daniels said he 'felt sick and terrified, but maybe that scare was a good thing cos from then on I would always talk about their jobs or whatever before anything went too far.'

Game of Thrones has emerged as the most-pirated TV show over the Internet this year, according to news site Torrentfreak's latest annual survey. It said one episode of the series had racked up four million two hundred and eighty thousand global downloads - slightly more than than its estimated US television audience. The site said that overall there had been a 'small increase' in the amount of illegal sharing. That was despite a 'levelling out' of the activity the previous two years. The rise also followed increased efforts to shut down or block websites providing access to copyright infringing material. The level of piracy may be linked to the fact that the TV company behind Game of Thrones - HBO - does not allow Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or other US streaming services access to its programmes. It instead restricts them to its own HBO Go online product, which is only available to its cable subscribers. Outside the US, Torrentfreak noted that Australia was responsible for a disproportionate amount of illegal copies of Game of Thrones and suggested this may have been because episodes were broadcast locally a week later than in the US. Torrentfreak's editor acknowledged that, despite his findings, HBO might still want to keep its current model. 'Not all of the people who pirate do it because it's free - availability is also a big factor,' Ernesto Van Der Sar told the BBC. 'Most of the titles in the top ten list are behind paywalls and are not distributed very widely. If TV companies offered them online to a broader audience, piracy would be lower than it is now. But I'm not sure that would be best for their revenues as they rely on expensive subscriptions which they still sell a lot of. If they allowed people to download individual episodes from Netflix, for example, they might not make as much money.'

The disgraced cyclist and drug-cheat Lance Armstrong is being sued for more than one and a half million dollars by a British newspaper which previously lost a libel action for publishing doping allegations against him. The Sunday Times paid Armstrong three hundred thousand smackers in 2006 to settle a case after it reprinted claims from a book in 2004 that he took performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong must be so embarrassed, he's got to be the first person that's been sued by News International over something which has appeared in one of their papers rather than the other way around for ages. This year, the US Anti-Doping Agency found that Armstrong had led a massive doping program on his teams. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour De France titles and banned from cycling for life. The Sunday Times announced in an article in its latest edition that it has issued legal papers against Armstrong. 'It is clear that the proceedings were baseless and fraudulent,' the paper said, in a letter to Armstrong's lawyers. 'Your representations that you had never taken performance enhancing drugs were deliberately false.' The paper, which is owned by billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, said that its total claim against Armstrong is 'likely to exceed' one million smackers. 'The Sunday Times is now demanding a return of the settlement payment plus interest, as well as its costs in defending the case,' the paper said.

Lenora Crichlow has suggested that her new art heist thriller Doors Open is like 'Ocean's Eleven meets The Full Monty.' So, that's be Monty Eleven, then? The Being Human actress stars alongside Stephen Fry and Douglas Henshall in the ITV adaptation of Ian Rankin's novel, which sees a bored millionaire plan to swap the contents of a gallery's warehouse with near-perfect forgeries. Asked describe the drama, Crichlow replied: 'I thought it was quite funny, but I laugh quite easily. There's action, there's romance, but there is a lot of comedy.' On working with Fry, she continued: 'It was joyous. Stephen doesn't disappoint. He's an absolutely lovely, lovely man - huge heart, brilliant mind, very warm, very friendly, very passionate about the project. Everybody around Doors Open really cares and that just goes such a long way in TV and is very rare.' Crichlow also described Henshall - her love interest in Doors Open - as 'a dream to work with,' particularly when they were tasked with creating an 'organic and natural' chemistry. 'Dougie is so easy-going and brilliant at what he does. I think I felt a pressure to step up and do my part,' she said. 'It's really nice as an actor when you just feel you can laugh with whoever you need to have this chemistry with. I don't know where you're supposed to find it, we've know each other five minutes and the next thing you know we're supposed to have chemistry.'

Miserable old sour-faced Scottish windbag Sir Alex Ferguson says that Robin van Persie is 'lucky to be alive' after being hit in the head by a ball struck by Ashley Williams in The Scum's 1-1 draw with Swansea on Sunday. So, no crass and obscene hyperbole there, then, that's for sure. Van Persie was lying on the ground when Williams kicked the ball from a couple of yards away as the referee blew the whistle for a foul. Ferguson felt that Van Persie was 'fortunate' to escape serious injury. 'Robin van Persie is lucky to be alive. It was a disgraceful act from their player,' Ferguson whinged to BBC Sport. 'He should be banned by the FA. Robin could have had a broken neck.' Yes. Or, a large bird of prey could have swooped down and carried him off to its lair to feed its chicks, too. But, it didn't. The Scum manager claimed that Williams, had 'deliberately' aimed the ball at Van Persie, who reacted furiously - both players were cautioned by referee Michael Oliver. Ferguson added on Sky Sports: 'With the Van Persie situation, you can clearly see that he could have been killed. [Williams] should be banned for a long time because that was the most dangerous thing I've seen on a football field for many years. It was absolutely deliberate. The whistle has gone, the game has stopped and he has done that right in front of the referee, he could have killed the lad.' Williams denied that he had hit Van Persie intentionally. 'I've seen it on the TV and that's [Ferguson's] opinion,' said Williams. 'Everyone's going to have their own opinion but, from my point of view, I tried to apologise on the pitch but it all flared up. I just kicked the ball in frustration and obviously not trying to hit him square on the head. I understand exactly why he's angry. I'd be the same if the ball hit me on the head at that pace.' The Scum striker Wayne Rooney tried to play the incident down. 'I think it's one of those things,' he said. 'The whistle's gone, the defender has gone to clear and it's hit him in the head. I think probably the right decision from the referee.' The Scum led the Premier League by six points going into the weekend's fixtures but, after the draw with Swansea and rivals Sheikh Yer Man City's win over Reading, that advantage has been cut to four points.

Big Shola Ameobi scored his third goal of the season as yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle handed Hapless Harry Redknapp his first defeat as Queens Park Strangers manager. It looked like being a frustrating day for the Magpies, who had lost six of their previous seven games, as Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse missed a number of good chances. But substitute Ameobi rifled in a shot with nine minutes remaining for his first league goal in nine months. Rangers, who defended stoutly whilst never looking remotely dangerous on the counter-attack, thought they had done enough as they looked to continue their mini-revival under new manager Redknapp. However, it was Redknapp's opposite number, Alan Pardew, who changed the course of the match, with two of his substitutes having a direct influence in the match-winning strike. Sylvain Marveaux replaced Cheick Tiote with thirteen minutes left, and his extra quality created the opportunity for Ameobi to collect the Frenchman's pass, cut inside and find the back of the net with a classy finish. It justified Pardew's decision to replace Papiss Cisse with Ameobi - a substitution which caused some discontent from the stands, and plenty of frustration from the Senegalese striker his very self. It capped a miserable day for the number nine, as he and his strike partner, Ba, struggled to break down a resolute Rangers defence expertly marshalled by Ryan Nelsen. The one time the two did link up to good effect midway through an uninspiring first-half ended with Cisse being denied by Fabio's well-timed tackle. Ba also fired two free-kicks into the stands as Newcastle looked short on ideas without influential midfielders Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa, both missing through injury. Newcastle were struggling for inspiration, until Pardew brought on Ameobi and Gabriel Obertan with half an hour to go. The change worked, as the home side became much more of a threat in the final third - Ba turning and having a shot deflected over and then seeing a weak header saved by Rob Green. A goal seemed inevitable, and it was no surprise when Ameobi slotted home. There was still time for the impressive Marveaux to go close with two shots which were well saved by Green, but Newcastle had done enough. The only negative to come out of the game for the hosts was a fifth booking of the season for Tiote, which rules the midfielder out of his side's Boxing Day trip to The Scum. Rangers will take plenty of heart from their workmanlike performance, with defeats for their relegation rivals Reading, Wigan and Southampton meaning very little has changed in the bottom four.

Meanwhile, Strangers boss Hapless Harry Redknapp has criticised the club's transfer policy before he came to the club. Redknapp, who replaced Mark Hughes as manager in November, questioned recent signings after a 1-0 loss at Newcastle. 'There are a lot of players at this club who earn far too much money,' he said. 'Far too much for their ability and what they give to the club. I don't really want to see the owners have their pants taken down like they have in the past.' Hapless Harry says the club's wage bill is too high and certain individuals in his squad are earning more than players at his former team Stottingtot Hotshots. 'A lot of agents made money out of [the club's owners],' Redknapp said. 'I fined a player last week and he was earning more than any player earned at Tottenham. You shouldn't be paying massive wages when you've got a stadium that holds eighteen thousand people. Newcastle holds fifty two thousand and most of their players will be nowhere near some of the wages some of the players are earning here.' Quite how Redknapp knows what Newcastle's players are earning, he didn't reveal. Hapless Harry pointed to the example of Portuguese full-back Jose Bosingwa, who has been fined two weeks wages for refusing to sit on the bench for last weekend's 2-1 victory over Fulham. The thirty-year-old, who was part of the Moscow Chelski FC squad which won the Champions League last season, has started just twelve Premier League matches for the Loftus Road club but his future now appears in doubt. 'He didn't want to be on the bench and didn't want to be a substitute, so he went home,' said Redknapp. 'He has been fined two weeks' wages, one hundred and thirty thousand pounds. Not too bad for two weeks - decent isn't it?' Asked how he might handle a player like that, Redknapp said: 'We'll find out in January.' The transfer window could see plenty of movement at the Strangers, with Redknapp admitting that his squad needs to be strengthened if they are to have a realistic chance of avoiding relegation. Strangers are currently five points from safety, after taking just ten points from their first eighteen league games. However, their form has improved under Redknapp - with three draws and a victory coming in the new manager's first four matches. 'Let's not kid ourselves, it's a hard job we have got on here,' Redknapp added. 'We have got to try to improve a little bit in the transfer window to give ourselves half a chance. We are short of options in one or two positions. If you look at Newcastle, they can go and bring a couple of fresh forwards on to make the difference but we haven't got that option really. We have got Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson out with long-term injuries and we are desperately short of one or two bodies. Hopefully we can get to the window, get another result or two before then, and let's see what we can do in January.'

Manager Paul Lambert admitted his Aston Villains side were 'not good enough' against a rampant Moscow Chelski FC after they suffered a record 8-0 (EIGHT-NIL) hiding at Torpedo Stamford Bridge. The defeat was the wretched Villain's heaviest ever in the top flight. 'We were beaten up pretty badly from start to finish. The lads know themselves that that was not acceptable,' said Lambert. 'We were second best all over the pitch, I am not going to stand here and make excuses.' Villa came into the game unbeaten in their last six matches, including an impressive 3-1 win over Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws at Anfield last time out. But they fell behind after one hundred and twenty nine seconds when Fernando Torres headed past goalkeeper Brad Guzan and were soon buried by a ruthless attacking display by the Blues. 'We cannot concede as early as that at places like these, you are on the back foot right away. It is vital that you come here and try and get a foothold in the game,' Lambert added. 'You can't feel sorry for yourselves, you take your medicine in football and you have to go again. We have got two days to mull over it and we have got to go again on Wednesday.' The victory carried Moscow Chelski FC up from seventh to third and interim manager Rafael Benitez, who succeeded Roberto di Matteo at the end of November, believes his side are starting to play the way he wants them to. 'Everything impressed me the performance of the team,' said the Spaniard. 'We have been talking before about the mentality of the team; attacking, creating chances, we had good movement, we were good in defence. As a team we had the balance we are looking for.'

And so to yer actual Christmas Eve Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. And, we're still working our way through the Weller-Fellah's songbook. Today, we reach 1979.

No comments: