Saturday, December 01, 2012

I Had One Long Hard Think About Dying And Did Exactly What They Said

It was a strangely muted Have I Got News For You on BBC1 on Friday evening - not helped in the slightest by having, as its guest host, wretched, unfunny smug Jack Whitehall who managed to suck most of the humour out of the episode like a ... like a big sucking thing. Nevertheless, the programme did include one genuinely golden moment; Whitehall asked how Sky News had reported on the publication of the Leveson Report. We never got the real answer, but Paul Merton - apparently reading from Ian Hislop's copy of the four volume tome - 'quoted': '"Leave it, Leveson, or I'll cut ya" shouted Murdoch from behind the curtain.' Yer man Hislop's comments on the report's opinion of oily slime bucket, toerag (and drag) Piers Morgan were also well worth a repetition: 'I know it's seven hundred thousand million words but the four or five about Piers are well worth a look!'
It might not have been a tip-top Have I Got News For You on Friday but, thankfully, Qi was back on form big-style(e), with a terrific episode featuring yer actual King of Cramlington Ross Noble, the King of Comedy Bill Bailey and lovely Julian Clary. The jojoba round and Stephen Fry's Billy Connolly impression, in particular, should be put on a loop and played in the home of every humourless misanthrope until they submit and laugh at the words 'Benjamin Netanyahu!'
In what is becoming something of an annual tradition, the third-to-last edition of the Radio Times for the year (featuring the period 8 to 14 December 2012) celebrates The Doctor's latest Christmas adventure with a front cover. This issue features a three-page article on the forthcoming episode, The Snowmen. Talking about his new costume, yer actual Smudger his very self said: 'I've got a whole new Christmassy outfit and the best hat! A bit Artful-Dodger-meets-The-Doctor. There's a lot of purple this year, which is nice. I've always wanted something purple but they were always reluctant. It's taken three years to get a jaunty hat and a purple coat!' Talking about his role, guest star Tom Ward noted: 'My character is an archetypal Victorian gentleman, a repressed, Establishment-type chap who is distant from his children and can't communicate with women. I couldn't resist him as he's so well written - besides a part in a Doctor Who Christmas Special was just too good an opportunity to pass up!' Jenna-Louise Coleman also commented about Clara (or, Avocado) and how she relates to her prior appearance in Asylum of the Daleks: 'The connection is that it's me playing both [roles]. I'm not Oswin: I'm a different person who looks and sounds like Oswin.'
Meanwhile, if you want to spend your Christmas with a Dalek, after the success of their Doctor Who-themed Christmas tree decorations last year, the BBC have once again released some festive figures to hang on your Christmas tree. This year K9 and a yellow Dalek join last year's Red Dalek and TARDIS in a special presentation set, available exclusively from the BBC Shop for a surprisingly large amount of wonga. 'Give your Christmas tree an intergalactic touch from far beyond the brightest star the human eye can see with this unique and stylish pack of four Doctor Who Christmas tree decorations,' shouts the sales blurb. 'Including a classic blue TARDIS, red and gold Daleks and silver K-9, each hand-crafted and styled in the traditions of mouth blown glass.' Skilled artisans - in a sweatshop in Korea, like as not - have hand-painted each ornament with intricate details, it claims. A must-have for Doctor Who fans this Christmas. Or at least the ones who, unlike yer actual Keith Telly Topping don't regard the whole thing as an excuse for some good old fashioned 'bah-humbuggerisation.' Although, to be fair, the coin they pull in from this could help pay for the next series of The Voice so, you know, use your credit cards wisely.

Victims of press intrusion are urging the government to fully implement the Leveson Inquiry's recommendations on newspaper regulation. Lord Justice Leveson called for a new independent watchdog - which he said should be underpinned by legislation. Inquiry witnesses Gerry McCann and Christopher Jeffries launched the online petition, run by the campaign group Hacked Off. Ministers say a draft bill on the report will be ready in a fortnight. Lord Justice Leveson's two thousand-page report into press ethics, published on Thursday, found that some press behaviour had been 'outrageous' and 'wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people.' He said that the press were a bunch of total scum and - having failed to regulate itself in the past - must create a new and tough regulator but one which needed to be backed by legislation to ensure it was effective. The report exposed divisions in the coalition government, with the prime minister opposing statutory control, because he'd been told to by the Daily Scum Mail, unlike his deputy Nick Clegg, who (like the Labour party and some Tories) want a new law introduced without delay. Gerry McCann, whose daughter Madeleine went missing in Portugal in 2007, said that he would have liked the report to have gone further. Launching the petition he said: 'Clearly the public want it, there's been a judicial review and I think the recommendations should be implemented. There's no good reason why they shouldn't be.' Except for the prime minister's shit-scared attitude towards pissing off scum like Paul Dacre, billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch and the owners of the Torygraph, of course. McCann, who was the subject of what he called 'unbelievably damaging' newspaper reports that suggested he and his wife killed Madeleine, added: 'The press has been given enough chances, and in my opinion Lord Leveson has given them another chance to put a structure in place which they are happy with.' Christopher Jeffries, who was wrongly arrested for the murder of Joanna Yeates, said: 'Certainly I think it [Cameron's decision] has been influenced by the pressure he has received from newspaper proprietors and editors and by some MPs in his own party.' The victims of press intrusion have refused to meet the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Miller, in their anger over Cameron's public reaction to the report. The vile and odious rascal Miller had asked to meet some victims last week - presumably in an effort to placate their fury - but she instead met leading figures in the Hacked Off campaign, Evan Harris and Brian Cathcart. The two pressed her to explain exactly why the Conservatives were rejecting Leveson's proposals on statutory underpinning on principle after it was them that set up the Leveson inquiry in the first place. Harris said: 'No victim was willing to meet her and some were too angry to do so.' The former Liberal Democrat MP also challenged the prime minister to explain why he was now opposed to underpinning by law in principle, when he had not expressed that view - or anything even remotely like it - during his evidence to the Leveson inquiry or in the many meetings he held with victims' families. Looked them in the eye and told them he'd implement Leveson, so he did. Now, he's weaselling out of his promises. Well, it's what sets man apart from the animals (except the weasels, of course). Launching a petition for implementation of the Leveson inquiry, Gerry McCann, urged the government to adopt the proposals, saying: 'This is an opportunity for our politicians to redeem themselves a bit. That's my view and I think it's the view of most of the victims. Politicians respond to the electorate. It's the public that are the key here and I think that there is overwhelming support for this.' Labour leader Ed Milimolimandi also supports a new press law. He said many of the victims such as the McCanns and the parents of Milly Dowler would be feeling 'utterly betrayed' by the prime minister. 'I am going to stand up for people who have been appallingly treated by sections of the press and who put their faith in David Cameron, put their faith in the Leveson Inquiry, and who are frankly I think astonished by what the prime minister has done,' Milimolimandi said. Following cross-party talks on Thursday night - which will resume next week - the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will begin the process of drawing up a draft bill implementing the Leveson recommendations. The prime minister believes this process will only serve to highlight how difficult it is to try to legislate in a complex and controversial area while Labour and the Lib Dems think it will demonstrate the opposite. The Lib Dems pledged to ensure the legislation was drawn up 'in good faith.' But the BBC's Norman Smith said Labour 'sources' allegedly fear the Conservatives will produce draft legislation written in such a way as to discredit the proposals - 'like something the Stasi had written.' The vile and odious rascal Miller told the BBC 'the gauntlet has been thrown down' to newspapers to outline how they would set up tough self-regulation instead. The vile and odious rascal Miller said the draft legislation would demonstrate 'it wouldn't be a simple two-clause bill.' Nice to see she's going into the drafting sessions with such a clear and open mind, isn't it? She claimed Conservative ministers felt that legislation 'would actually give the opportunity in the future to bring into question the ability of Parliament to stay out of the issue of free press and difficult for Parliament to not have a statutory framework on which they could hang further bits of legislation.' the vile and odious rascal Miller said it was for the press to move forward 'swiftly,' putting in place a self-regulatory body that 'adheres to the Leveson principles.' Many of Friday's newspapers risibly (and arse-lickingly) praised Cameron's opposition to law-backed regulation. But the Gruniad Morning Star editor specky little Alan Runtbudgie told the BBC 'a bit of statute' was 'a price worth paying' for an effective new system of regulation and that he believed the press could 'live with most of' the Leveson proposals. Runtbudgie, who revealed that he had spoken to other editors on Thursday night, said: 'I think about eighty per cent of it is right and can be agreed on. It is right that is is open, that it is fair, that it's got sanctions, that it can investigate that it's not picked from amongst the old cosy club.' However Trevor Kavanagh, associate editor at the Sun, said there was 'no need' for any new legislation. 'We welcome the report, its contents, its criticisms and we accept them. But I think that we've gone a long way as an industry to meeting also the recommendations for putting our house in order and making sure that it stays in order.' Kavanagh also, risibly, suggested that the public 'don't care' about the issues raised during the phone-hacking scandal. Which, might be true of the readers of the Sun but, thankfully, it's not true of pretty much everyone else.

Meanwhile, JK Rowling has said that she feels 'duped and angry' and 'alarmed and dismayed' as a result of the prime minister's backsliding response to the Leveson report. Ooo, David, you've really gone and done it now. Pissing off the Queen of Hearts for every middle-class fourteen year old in the country (and most of their parents, too). That's the next election gone in a heartbeat faster than you can say 'Expelliarmus.' They'll be organising 'Mummies Against David' quiche mornings before you know what's hit you.
Lord Justice Leveson has described disgraced former Daily Mirra editor oily Piers Morgan's assertion that he had no knowledge of alleged phone-hacking as 'utterly unpersuasive,' and said that the practice 'may well have occurred' at the title in the late 1990s - at the time when odious slime bucket (and drag) Morgan was editor. Before he got the tin-tack, of course. Morgan was asked during his evidence to the Leveson inquiry about an interview he gave the Press Gazette in 2007 when he said that phone-hacking was an 'investigative practice that everyone knows was going on at almost every paper in Fleet Street for years.' In his testimony, Morgan, who now hosts a flop chat show on CNN in New York, downplayed the comment as 'passing on rumours that I'd heard' and claimed that there was no phone-hacking at the Daily Mirra under his editorship from 1995 to 2004. 'Overall, Mr Morgan's attempt to push back from his own bullish statement to the Press Gazette was utterly unpersuasive,' said Leveson in his report on the culture, practices and ethics of the press. 'This was not, in any sense at all, a convincing answer.' Leveson was also critical of Morgan's attitude to phone-hacking. 'This evidence does not establish that Mr Morgan authorised the hacking of voicemails or that journalists employed by [Trinity Mirror Group] were indulging in this practice,' said Leveson. 'What it does, however, clearly prove is that he was aware that it was taking place in the press as a whole and that he was sufficiently unembarrassed by what was criminal behaviour that he was prepared to joke about it.' He added: 'In my view, the evidence which the inquiry has received, viewed in the round, strongly suggests that phone-hacking was a practice which, over the period from the late 1990s to the arrest of Mr Goodman and Mr Mulcaire in 2006, was occurring within the industry on a more than localised basis. To speak only of rumours being rife underplays the extent of the understanding and knowledge.' Leveson also referred to the evidence given by James Hipwell, who worked at the Daily Mirra from 1998 to 2000 and told the inquiry that hacking was a 'bog-standard' journalistic tool. Leveson noted that there were issues about Hipwell's credibility, given his criminal record and the 'real risk that he bears a grudge towards his former employer,' but nonetheless said his account of phone-hacking at the Mirra was 'clear, firm and convincing. His evidence cannot do more than serve to demonstrate that phone-hacking as a practice may well have been occurring at the Mirror titles when Mr Hipwell was working there,' said Leveson. He expressed 'striking and serious concern' more generally that despite knowledge and rumours of phone-hacking circulating across the newspaper industry, 'nothing public was said or done about this issue beyond a series of "in-jokes" at award ceremonies and unguarded references in memoires [sic]. Overall, the available evidence does not allow me to conclude to the requisite standard of proof that the practice of phone-hacking occurred at any specific individual title other than the News of the world and, to the extent already discussed, the Mirror titles,' he concluded. Trinity Mirra, the parent company of the Daily Mirra, Sunday Mirra and the People, has always maintained that there has been 'no hacking' at its titles. 'As we have previously stated, all our journalists work within the criminal law and the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct,' the company said recently. Shortly after it was sued by four people who claimed that they had been hacked by journalists from the group.

Billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch was 'kept in the dark' by News International executives about suspicions of wider illegal activity at the Scum of the World between 2006 and 2008, Lord Justice Leveson concluded in his report. Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News International owner News Corporation, who gave evidence to the Leveson inquiry over two days in April, escaped the most excoriating criticism in the report. But the judge did express concern that several key developments on phone-hacking were apparently shielded from Murdoch and his son James Murdoch the small, as a result either of a cover-up or of 'a serious failure of governance within the News of the World, NI and News Corporation.' Leveson said it was 'revealing' that billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch had not seen the sentencing remarks by Justice Eady after a Scum of the World reporter and private investigator were jailed over phone-hacking in 2007. He added: 'That Mr Murdoch was apparently not familiar with it says something about the degree to which his organisation engages with the ethical direction of its newspapers.' The judge questioned James Murdoch the small's account of a key meeting in 2008 where two Scum of the World executives – the editor, Colin Myler, and head of legal, Tom Crone – claimed to have demonstrated to him that illegal activity was more widespread than just one 'rogue' reporter - a defence which, nevertheless, News International desperately clung to for the next two years or more. At the time James Murdoch the small, News Corp's deputy chief operating officer, was News International chairman and chief executive. His account of the meeting differed from those of Myler and Crone when he gave evidence to the Leveson inquiry in April. Murdoch the small denied that he was shown or told about legal advice by Michael Silverleaf QC that phone-hacking was likely to have gone beyond one Scum of the World reporter, Clive Goodman. Crone disputed Murdoch the small's evidence, claiming that he 'probably' took the Silverleaf advice to the meeting along with copies of a briefing note and the notorious 'for Neville' e-mail, which suggested that phone-hacking at the disgraced, disgraceful and now defunct title went well beyond a single reporter. Leveson said Myler and Crone had 'no motive to conceal relevant facts' from Murdoch the small, although the judge also expressed 'serious concerns' about their evidence about the meeting. 'I have given careful consideration as to whether I should go further, and conclude that Mr Crone's version of events as to what occurred on 10 June 2008 should be preferred to that of James Murdoch,' he said in his report.
'There are aspects of the account of Mr Murdoch that cause me some concern: in particular, it is surprising if the gist of Mr Silverleaf's opinion was not communicated to him in circumstances where the potential reputational damage to the company, of which he was CEO, was likely to be great if an early settlement of the claim brought by Mr [Gordon] Taylor were not achieved.' Overall, Leveson found that evidence of the two Murdochs illustrated that 'one or more parts of the management at the News of the World was engaged in a determined cover-up to keep relevant information about potential criminal activity within the organisation from senior management within NI.' Hearing nearly three hundred and eighty testimonies in twelve months, Leveson acknowledged that his inquiry afforded little opportunity for detailed cross-examination that would reveal who knew what and when at News International. He added: 'In the circumstances, I do not seek to reach any conclusion about precisely what transpired at this meeting.' Leveson was careful not to accuse the Scum of the World's one hundred and fifty editorial staff even in his most disapproving passages, reserving his most trenchant criticism for executives. He repeatedly wrote of a failure of governance at the Scum of the World and, on occasion, at News International, that led the now-closed in shame and ignominy Sunday tabloid to 'lose its way.' The judge spent several hundreds of words analysing the significance of the appointment of Myler as editor of the Scum of the World in January 2007, after the resignation of Andy Coulson over the convictions for voicemail interceptions of the reporter and private investigator. He credited Myler, now editor of the New York Daily News, as being one of the first News International executives to publicly use the phrase 'rogue' when describing phone-hacking at the title – a line he said that the company stuck to 'vigorously and forcefully' until late 2010 when they were forced, by the overwhelming flood of evidence to the contrary, to change their tune. But he criticised Myler for failing to fully investigate his own private concerns about the 'bombs under the newsroom floor' he described in evidence to the inquiry. Leveson said in his report: 'In the event, he did little to assuage his own "discomfort" except lay down rules for the future. As to the what had happened, he vigorously and forcefully followed a line which, to pursue the analogy of a bomb under the newsroom floor, simply ignored his privately held fear of an impending explosion.' The judge noted in four paragraphs early in his report that News International made several improvements to its governance processes in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.
There will be more blind auditions and fewer live shows in the new series of The Voice. BBC executives think that the format will improve the talent contest's viewing figures. The show pulled in very strong audiences during its early stages for the first series earlier in the year, particularly when the coaches were choosing contenders with their spinning seats. Ratings dropped as the series went on, although they did rise again for the final two episodes. An eleven-date tour, featuring performances by the BBC1 talent show's eight finalists, was cancelled following poor ticket sales. BBC1 controller Danny Cohen confirmed the next series would see some format changes. He said: 'We're going to do fewer live shows, we're going to do more blind auditions, more battles that's the fundamental difference.' The BBC has already announced that all four coaches - Sir Tom Jones, will.i.am, Jessie J and The Script's Danny O'Donoghue - have signed up for the show when it comes back next year. Jessie J agreed a further series despite earlier announcing in her autobiography that she would not be returning. Despite the drop viewing figures towards the end of the last series, the show is still said to be BBC1's biggest new entertainment show on record, with an average 9.2 million viewers across the series, including viewers on catch-up.

Comedy line of the week, this week comes from the divine Goddess of South Tyneside, yer actual Sarah Millican: 'I think the success of I'm A Celeb explains why so many celebrities want to save the rainforests. So they'll have somewhere to go for a career boost.'

The Hour's creator, Abi Morgan, has said that she would 'love' to write a third series. Whether she'll get to, since the overnight ratings for the second series are down quite a bit on those of the first, is as yet unclear. The BBC2 drama's second run is currently being broadcast on Wednesday nights at 9pm. 'I love those characters and I'm really excited to create more characters, so fundamentally, I'd love to see it develop and grow,' Morgan told Assignment X. Romola Garai previously told the Digital Spy website that any potential third series of The Hour would depend on the viewer response to series two. 'If [viewers] don't turn it on, then you have to be honest with yourself and go, "OK, let's move on" - but I'd love to feel there's still life in it,' Morgan explained. She continued: 'I've got a lot more stories I want to tell. There are loads more years of periods of history I want to get into, so yeah, I'd love to be in the '60s.'

Rhod Gilbert says that he was recently offered a gig on the same bill as his comedy idol Eddie Izzard, but turned it down because 'I'm not worthy of sharing a stage with him.' Which is actually very true.

The surviving members of the Monty Python's Flying Circus team are being sued by one of the producers of their film Monty Python and the Holy Grail over royalty rights to the stage-show Spamalot. The hit musical is described on posters as being 'lovingly ripped-off' from the 1975 film Holy Grail. But Holy Grail producer Mark Forstater claims that he has been underpaid royalties since the show's launch in 2005. Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Jones are due to give evidence at London's High Court in the coming days. John Cleese and Terry Gilliam, who are abroad, are not expected to attend the five-day legal battle. Graham Chapman, obviously, can't, unless they hold a seance. The claim is being brought by Forstater and his company Mark Forstater Productions Ltd against Python (Monty) Pictures Ltd, which represents the film interests of the Python team, and Freeway Cam (UK) Ltd, which holds the copyright in the Holy Grail as trustee for those entitled to profit from it. Forstater's lawyer, Tom Weisselberg (which, when you think about it, is a fantastically Pythonesque name), told the judge on Friday that 'for financial purposes', Forstater should be treated as 'the seventh Python.' One imagines Carol Cleveland, George Harrison and Mrs Idle might all have something to say about that. Along with Kevin Phillips-Bong, Arthur Pewty (and his wife) and Mrs Niggerbaiter. He accused the Pythons of 'failing to pay Mr Forstater monies he says are owed to him under an agreement reached with PMP back in 1974.' At which point, the Colonel came out and told him to stop that, because he was being silly. Both sides agreed that Forstater was entitled to a share in merchandising and spin-off income, but dispute the extent of his entitlement. Under the terms of the 1974 agreement, investors in the film, such as Forstater, were entitled to a share in fifty per cent of all merchandise revenues. Forstater claimed he was entitled to one-seventh of this figure, the same share enjoyed by each of the other Pythons - but was told he was only entitled to one-fourteenth, and has been paid accordingly since 2005. 'Mr Forstater is in difficult financial circumstances and has been forced to bring these proceedings,' Weisselberg Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shönedanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm told the court. The film producer was made very bankrupt in June, but last month, the bankruptcy was annulled and he entered an independent voluntary arrangement to deal with his debts. Written by Eric Idle, Spamalot premiered on Broadway in 2005, winning three Tony Awards. A critical and commercial success, it took one million smackers in its opening week on Broadway. Tim Curry won acclaim for his turn as King Arthur and went on to début the show in London in October 2006. Like the film upon which most of it is based, the stage comedy is essentially about a group of very silly medieval knights searching for the mythical Holy Grail but the plot broadens out to spoof Broadway, and various musicals, including those of Andrew Lloyd Webber, together with other highlights from the Python musical repertoire. 'There has never been a sillier musical than this, or one more calculated to appeal to the British sense of humour,' wrote the Torygraph critic Charles Spencer, at the UK premiere. 'It's a wonderful night, and I fart in the general direction of anyone who says otherwise.' Since its British premiere, the show has run - intermittently - in the West End with actors such as Peter Davison, Alan Dale, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Phill Jupitas and Stephen Tompkinson in the lead role.

Sir Nicholas Hytner has challenged the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Miller, to 'find common cause' with the arts world and shake the perception that she 'is not prepared to fight our corner.' The director of the National Theatre was responding to the vile and odious rascal Miller's accusations, made in a newspaper article, that the arts lobby was 'disingenuous' and making statements 'close to pure fiction' about the dangers facing the sector if public funding is cut further. In an interview with the Gruniad Morning Star, Hytner said he was 'puzzled' by a minister 'who accepts that investment in a country's cultural life is inherently good, and also that it has a substantial economic benefit. And yet her primary message [to the arts] seems to have had a large element of reproach for somehow draining the nation's resources.' He added: 'I need to know where she stands, and I am afraid where she appears to stand is that we've got to suck it up.' Hytner also urged the vile and odious rascal Miller to 'take responsibility' for the cutting of arts budgets by local authorities, on whose funding many arts organisations, especially those outside London, depend. Newcastle city council has proposed cutting its arts budget by one hundred per cent. 'It is something that the culture department cannot slough off responsibility for,' he said. This week the vile and odious rascal Miller said it was 'outrageous' for Hytner to claim that the government had done little to support cultural philanthropy – the growth of which is the Tories' main arts policy. But Hytner deepened his criticism, saying the policies of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport were 'vague and woolly and aspirational,' and that practical proposals for tax reform suggested by the National Theatre had 'fallen on deaf ears.' In the April budget, the chancellor introduced tax relief on legacy giving, in order to support charities and the arts. But, said Hytner, the need to support the arts was 'urgent' and action was needed in the short term. Improving legacy giving was irrelevant to the current crisis, he said. 'We are going to need an outbreak of the bubonic plague if they are any use to us in the short term.' The arts world fears further cuts from central government as a result of the chancellor's autumn statement on Wednesday. 'Maria Miller must appreciate that I speak with some experience and know what's going on,' said Hytner, whose production of Timon of Athens won three awards this week at the Evening Standard theatre awards. 'We are facing the same situation as we endured between 1979 and 1992 when twenty five per cent of regional theatres closed down. That is what will happen. We are right at the edge. It's the clear truth. I know.' So, there you have it, dear blog reader. He knows, you know.

Dad's Army star Bill Pertwee has become the subject of Internet rumours that he died at the age of eighty six. The comic actor, who played air raid warden Hodges and is also the last surviving cast member of the immortal radio series Round The Horne, was reported to have died by the British Comedy Guide website this week. The story – although unsubstantiated – then circulated wildly on Twitter despite the fact that rumours of Bikll's death have, it seems, been greatly exaggerated. Among those taken in were former Doctor Who actor Colin Baker, fresh form the jungle, who said: 'Just heard about Bill Pertwee - lovely man, did a play with him - he was a true gent. Very sad.' Comic Toby Hadoke, who also posted an RIP message, quickly realised his mistake and added: 'Rumours of Bill Pertwee's death - not started by me but certainly propagated - are not true, it turns out. Good news, posted with contrition!' Fellow stand-up Dominic Woodward posted: 'Bill Pertwee is not dead! Excellent news let joy and celebration fill the land - may jubilation reign.' The rumours spread less than a month after the death of Clive Dunn. However Pertwee remains one of only three surviving members of the main Dad's Army cast along with sixty six-year-old Ian Lavender, who played Frank Pike and eighty one-year-old Frank Williams, who played the Vicar.

Former Coronation Street actor Andrew Lancel has been charged with historical child sex offences, police have said. The forty two-year-old, who played Frank Foster in the ITV soap, faces five counts of indecent assault on a child under sixteen. Lancel, from Gateacre in Liverpool, was charged on Friday under his real name Andrew Watkinson. Merseyside Police said that he had been bailed to appear at South Sefton Magistrates' Court on 19 December. Lancel appeared in Coronation Street from January 2011 until March this year. He is currently playing the lead role of Brian Epstein in Liverpool in the play Epstein: The Man Who Made The Beatles, and is scheduled to head the cast in the pantomime Sleeping Beauty at the city's Echo Arena.

Meanwhile a man in his eighties has been released after being interviewed on Thursday by detectives investigating allegations which arose following revelations about TV presenter Jimmy Savile. The man, from Berkshire, attended London police premises by appointment and was interviewed under caution but not charged with any offence. Officers from the Metropolitan Police's Operation Yewtree searched an address in Berkshire on Saturday. The police said it was 'part of the inquiry not directly related to Savile.' As some dear blog readers may know the identity of the individual in question has been the subject of much speculation on Twitter - as though, again, Twitter is The Final Arbiter Of All Things. As before, this blog does not intend to indulge in any such speculation until such times as an official announcement has been made on this matter.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day, here's Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds and sixteen minutes of murder most horrid.

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