Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's Mixed With Happiness It's Mixed With Tears

Steven Moffat has again spoken about how he feels about a big-screen version of Doctor Who: 'The thing that I would find intolerable is that you get a film instead of the TV series because the TV series is more important,' he told the Vulture website. 'I don't think any showrunner or future showrunner of Doctor Who would tolerate the idea that David Yates was talking about, of rebooting it and having a second continuity. That's just nonsense. Absolutely insane and a straightforward insult to the audience. We'd never, ever do that. The question would be how could we do it without delaying or harming the TV show? I think it could be incredibly exciting to see that TARDIS fly on the big screen. It would just be how do we arrange it? And how do we make sure we have, no offence, but you suddenly take American money and they expect to tell you what to do and all that. I wouldn't be happy with that. But it will happen someday, I'm reasonably confident.'

Meanwhile, here's the cover of the latest issue of the Doctor Who Magazine.
Last Tango in Halifax concluded with an impressive audience on Wednesday according to overnight viewing data. BBC1's six-part romantic drama pulled in a series high of 6.29 million for its climax, which was shown the night after Tuesday's penultimate episode. Last Tango in Halifax thrashed ITV's The Town like whipping a cowering cur, after the three-part series starring Andrew Scott ended with a staggering low of 1.55m, its audience more than halving week-on-week. Benefiting from a Coronation Street lead-in, Weight Loss Ward fared better for ITV in the 8pm hour with 3.01m watching for the sole purpose of sniggering at some fatties, no doubt. Despicable, just like the vast majority of ITV's crass, banal, wretched output these days. This was the channel, dear blog reader, that once produced World In Action, This Week and The Avengers. Hang your heads in shame, ITV. Shame. At the same time, Snow Babies (4.53m) won the slot for BBC1. All About The Good Life (1.66m) aired on BBC2, while nasty, twee Kirstie's Vintage Christmas had a risible audience of 1.28m for Channel Four, beaten by the 1.33m who watched the Channel Five documentary Building the Panama Canal. Chris Tarrant's Extreme Railways was watched by 1.27m for Five at 9pm, while Heston's Fantastical Christmas attracted 1.58m to Channel Four and 1.6m caught BBC2's The Christmas Number One Story. Featuring Noddy Big-Hat out of Slade. Overall, BBC1 comfortably beat ITV in primetime with 21.8 per cent of the audience share versus 15.2 per cent.

The Great British Bake Off made a final splash for 2012 on Tuesday night with its Christmas special. An average of 3.52m watched a 'Christmas Masterclass' edition of the hit BBC2 baking show hosted by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. In October, the third series finale peaked in a colossal all-time high of 7.2m, fuelling speculation that the next run of the show will be promoted to BBC1. Tuesday's edition finished second in the 8pm hour, predictably losing out to BBC1's Holby City but thumping ITV's Inside Guinness World Records, which attracted but 1.86m. and shatting on it from a great height till it cried for its mummy. Metaphorically speaking, obviously. The penultimate episode of Last Tango in Halifax picked up an extra two hundred thousand viewers compared to the previous week in averaging 6.21m, matching BBC1's premiere audience for the six-part drama. Meanwhile, Five grabbed above slot average figures for Murder Files (1.2m) and Body of Proof (1.33m), while Embarrassing Bodies was Channel Four's most-watched broadcast of the night with 1.07m at 8pm. Overall, BBC1 was the clear leader in the terrestrial primetime battle with 24.7 per cent of the audience share, thrashing ITV's laughably poor 10.4 per cent which was, itself, only fractionally ahead of BBC2.
The former head of communications for BBC News allegedly pledged to 'drip poison' about Meirion Jones, the Newsnight producer, and another BBC press officer suggested that Jones 'should be sacked' over suspicions that he leaked information to newspapers about the programme's axed film on Jimmy Savile. James Hardy told Helen Deller, a colleague in the BBC press office, that he would 'drip poison about Meirion's suspected role' following a newspaper story on the dropped Newsnight film in January, according to e-mails revealed by The Pollard Review on Wednesday. The report by former head of Sky News Nick Pollard into the BBC's handling of the Newsnight Savile story, dropped in late 2011, and its aftermath laid bare sore and bitter tensions and in-fighting at the BBC as it struggled to handle the Chernobyl-style fallout from the Savile scandal and allegations of a cover-up. Pollard's report said that Hardy read a trouble-making Sunday Mirra story about the dropped Newsnight film and 'while he was unconcerned by it, he would "drip poison about Meirion's suspected role" if he got the opportunity.' Hardy later wrote to Pollard to say that he 'regretted' using the phrase 'drip poison' and that he 'never intended' to speak to anyone outside the BBC, but to 'complain about what he regarded as very damaging leaks to somebody senior in BBC News.' The report revealed that Deller explored plans to get Jones sacked or disciplined over suspicions of leaking in October, shortly before ITV's Exposure documentary revealed allegations about Savile's alleged child sex abuse and put the spotlight on the BBC over its abandoned Newsnight story from the previous year. Deller said in an e-mail to the Newsnight editor Peter Rippon, deputy news director Stephen Mitchell and Paddy Feeny, the BBC News head of communications on 1 October: 'No excuse. No more discussions with him.' She then suggested 'a discreet conversation with HR to establish options' about Jones's future employment at the BBC. Pollard said in his report that there was 'a complete distrust' in the BBC press office of Jones, who worked on the Savile story with reporter Liz MacKean, and that Deller's comments illustrated that 'battle lines' were being drawn at the corporation in early October. He added: 'Ms Deller and Mr Feeny were, by this stage, evidently concerned about the continuing leaking of material to the media, of which they assumed Mr Jones to be the source. The pair had taken the view that this should lead to disciplinary action against Mr Jones and even his dismissal. These comments illustrate graphically that battle lines were now being drawn up. On one side was Peter Rippon's view: he was being supported, effectively, by News Division management, the Press Office and other senior individuals. On the other side were Mr Jones and Ms MacKean with it being assumed that Mr Jones was making use of contacts in the national media. This apparent "stand off" made calm and objective assessment of the facts more difficult.' Elsewhere in his report, Pollard said that 'staff at all levels must abandon the sort of insularity, leaking and distrust' seen across the BBC. Lord Patten, the BBC Trust chairman, criticised 'corrosive leaking' at the corporation in a TV interview following the publication of the report on Wednesday. The former BBC director general, George Entwistle, told Pollard during his interview for the inquiry that he 'refused' to have an off-the-record conversation with Jones because 'to be frank, I didn't trust him to have an off-the-record conversation with me.' Jones, who was largely vindicated in Pollard's report, has vehemently denied leaking information to newspapers about Savile. On Wednesday, he said in a statement outside the corporation's New Broadcasting House in London that he hopes the BBC will 'take measures' to ensure the Savile saga is never repeated. 'The BBC pulled the investigation and ran the tributes into Sir Jimmy Savile that caused all this chaos and let down the victims and trust in the BBC – I hope the BBC now takes measures to make sure nothing like that ever happens again,' he said.

Fears that Newsnight would 'bottle it again' after failing to expose the Jimmy Savile story 'played too large a part' in the decision to broadcast the programme's libellous 'Lord McAlpine report', a BBC report into the disastrous Newsnight film has concluded. The report by the BBC Trust's editorial standards committee was scathing in its assessment of the failings which led to the Newsnight broadcast on 2 November 2012, which incorrectly led to McAlpine being linked to an allegation of child sex abuse, concluding that it was a 'most serious breach' of accuracy guideline and 'a serious failure of BBC journalism.' McAlpine himself was not named in the report, but was quickly linked to the allegation by some people on Twitter and other websites. The BBC paid him one hundred and eighty five grand of licence fee payers money (or, you know, three episodes of EastEnders) in damages and apologised for the false allegations contained in the Newsnight report in the high court earlier this week. In its report the ESC noted that there had been comments online to the effect that Newsnight would 'bottle it again', a reference to the decision in late 2011 not to broadcast the Savile abuse report. As part of the ESC's investigation it asked the corporation to 'clarify' the extent to which speculation that Newsnight would 'bottle it' and the potential 'reputational damage' of not broadcasting McAlpine report influenced the decision to go ahead with the story. BBC management acknowledged that the Newsnight team were 'aware' of the suggestions circulating in the 'Twittersphere' that Newsnight would 'bottle it again' by not naming the alleged abuser and that it 'played too large a part' in the decision to go ahead with the broadcast. 'The allegations were not based on sound evidence,' said the ESC, which based its findings on the review of how the 2 November report came to be broadcast by Ken MacQuarrie, the BBC Scotland director. 'They were not thoroughly tested and, whilst there was no suggestion that the programme makers had sought to mislead the public, this had been the effect.' The ESC added that the failure by the Newsnight team 'resulted largely from a failure to adhere to editorial guidelines,' and that it was 'extremely concerning' that it occurred at the flagship BBC2 daily current affairs programme. 'This has been a grave breach which had been costly to all concerned,' it said. The committee said that basic journalistic checks were not carried out and it was 'very poor practice' that Newsnight did not contact BBC News colleagues in the nations and regions when investigating stories on their patch. 'An important opportunity to address concerns regarding the accuracy of the Newsnight report was missed,' the ESC said. 'Had members of the BBC in London contacted their colleagues in Wales, this information could have been shared.' The committee added that 'undue weight' was put on the fact that Angus Stickler, the Bureau of Investigative Journalist's reporter who was seconded to Newsnight to present the report, had interviewed key witness Steve Messham several years before. Messham wrongly identified the former Tory party treasurer as the person who sexually abused him at North Wales care home in the 1970s. Newsnight may have subjected Stickler to 'lighter touch editorial checks' because he was seen as a 'safe pair of hands' and had previously worked as a BBC journalist. Liz Gibbons, the Newsnight deputy editor who was acting editor at the time of the 2 November report, claimed that she had 'raised concerns' about the credibility of Messham and had 'received assurances' from Stickler. 'In investigative programmes there is an inherent danger of over-reliance on one journalist's expertise,' the ESC said. 'The trustees found it particularly concerning that, at no point in advance of the broadcast of the Newsnight report, was Mr Messham shown a photograph of Lord McAlpine and asked to confirm that he was the individual at the centre of the allegations.' The ESC noted that a spectacularly stupid tweet by Stickler's colleague, TBIJ managing editor Iain Overton, on the morning before the Newsnight report on 2 November caused 'alarm and consternation' among the programme team. Overton crowingly tweeted: 'If all goes well we've got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile.' Please note, dear blog reader, the very prominent use of the word 'we' there which, in and of itself, rather makes a mockery of the TBIJ's subsequent insistence that the story was the BBC's and the BBC's alone. Gibbons asked Stickler to call Overton 'immediately and tell him to stop' tweeting. 'After some discussion [Overton] agreed to do so and apologised,' said the report. Gibbons decided to refer upwards to Adrian Van Klaveren, the controller of BBC Radio 5Live, who was overseeing Newsnight as other BBC News executives had been 'recused' from Savile-related coverage, on the issue of Twitter activity and whether that should influence the decision to broadcast, because of the possibility of 'jigsaw identification' of McAlpine. Eventually a decision was made to broadcast – although a dispute remains over who, exactly, had the final editorial sign-off. 'The activity on social media was extensive but did not fundamentally affect the decision to broadcast, which was based on the editorial content of the report,' said the MacQuarrie report. However, it noted that Overton's tweet 'led to the speculation on Twitter, the heightened pressure on the Newsnight team during the day and the disproportionate focus of the decision makers on the issue of jigsaw identification and the legal issues surrounding that, rather than on the editorial content of the piece.' The 'considerable changes' in management and accountability at BBC News and Newsnight after the Savile scandal erupted in October meant there was a 'lack of clarity' over editorial responsibility, the committee found. BBC News director Helen Boaden, her deputy Stephen Mitchell, who had management responsibility for Newsnight, and programme editor Peter Rippon had all been 'recused' from Savile-related coverage. Van Klaveren was made aware of the McAlpine story on 29 October. On the day of broadcast, 2 November, he received a script and 'had exchanges' with Gibbons. 'It was regretted that there had been a lack of clarity as to who had had final editorial sign-off,' said the ESC. 'The trustees accepted the executive's position that this rested with controller 5Live [Van Klaveren]. The trustees were clear that there was a failure of editorial control within the BBC. This was a high-risk report which required rigorous supervision and did not receive it.' The BBC said in a statement in response to the ESC report: 'What happened with Newsnight on 2 November 2012 was unacceptable, and nobody can be under any illusion about the seriousness of the mistakes made. We have sought to be fair to the individuals involved, including recognising their previously unblemished service to the BBC and the exceptional circumstances in which they had been placed.' The BBC announced on Wednesday, following the publication of the ESC's Newsnight report, that both Van Klaveren and Gibbons would be moving to new jobs at the corporation. Stickler and Overton have both resigned from the TBIJ.

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has called a report criticising the corporation's 'cavalier' use of public money to pay off senior executives 'shabby,' and said it is legally 'doubtful' that it will be able to recoup any of the four hundred and fifty grand handed out to former director general George Entwistle. Margaret Hodge, the chair of the Commons public accounts committee, added to mounting criticism of large-scale payouts at the BBC on Thursday, publishing a report which accused the corporation of 'rewarding failure.' Which some might consider very rich coming from a bunch of MPs. How should we describe peerages and quango chairmanships and jobs for the boys from odious scum politicians with their snouts buried deep in the gravy trough, then? Any of you ladies and gentlemen know anybody who's fiddled any expenses and got away with it, by any chance? Scum. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme Patten - for once showing a bit of backbone rare amongst the BBC's senior management - said that the BBC has 'taken legal advice' about whether the payout to Entwistle, which was double the amount stipulated in his contract, might be able to be recouped following the publication of The Pollard Review. 'We have already taken legal advice about whether we could actually take any money back,' said Patten. 'If we hadn't done the settlement there and then we'd have had to do a more costly settlement with a constructive dismissal and probably an unfair dismissal on top of that. It would have taken time. To do that we would have to argue that on the basis of the Pollard report we would have been justified in summary dismissal. It is doubtful we could do that.' He said that the PAC report into severance packages at the BBC published on Thursday – which highlights payouts including former deputy director general Mark Byford's nine hundred and forty nine thousand smackers and chief operating officer Caroline Thomson's six hundred and seventy thousand knicker – was not fair. 'I think the treatment by [PAC] is a bit shabby,' he said. 'We sent them a detailed account why we have taken the decision we did on Entwistle. We needed to act quickly, not hang about. When you read the Pollard report it makes you realise how important it was to act quickly. I don't think it is fair. We can't retrospectively change people's contractual arrangements.' He said that the BBC Trust could have 'fought George Entwistle's terms right into the courts, could have fought week after week' but that it would have created an 'appalling mess' which would have cost the corporation even much more money. He said that he was not 'not politically naive' and knew that when Entwistle's payout was made public he would not 'get a cheer,' but that the deal was the best use of licence-fee payers' money. 'The legal advice we had is: if we fought we would have fetched up a bigger bill,' he said, adding that the BBC Trust sent about a dozen pages of legal advice backing its position to the PAC. 'The PAC has taken no notice of that. I don't think this is a fair way of treating us.' Patten agreed that the monies paid to Caroline Thomson, who left the BBC after being passed over for Entwistle in her bid to be director general, was a 'huge amount of money' but that it was not within the BBC Trust's remit to stop it. 'The BBC Trust is only responsible for the appointment of the director general.[That scale of payout] is precisely why we asked the PAC to look at severance payments,' he said. He added that senior management numbers have been cut by thirty per cent, as have pay levels, but that there was more to be done. He also said that he did not believe the BBC's reputation has 'nose-dived as much as some critics say,' despite the string of scandals - at least some of which have been media-created - that have beset the corporation in recent months. Today presenter John Humphrys questioned Patten's position as chairman given he was responsible for the appointment of Entwistle. 'With the benefit of hindsight we chose the wrong one,' Patten said. 'We chose from a very distinguished field, all twelve of us at the BBC Trust, it was unanimous.' He said that Entwistle 'ticked all the boxes' at the interview stage in highlighting internal issues at the BBC, such as a 'silo mentality' and 'internecine fighting' between departments, only to see him fall foul of the very same problems when the Savile and Lord McAlpine issues hit the corporation. Patten dismissed any suggestion that he might stand down, saying he was 'absolutely clear in my mind' that he had a purpose to work with Tony Hall, the chief executive of the Royal Opera House who is taking over as director general in March, to put the BBC back on track. He said that the issue at the BBC was not a matter of 'dealing with endemic criminality' but 'bad management,' which needs to change radically.

A twenty three-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the 'Plebgate' investigation, Scotland Yard has said. The man, who is not a member of police staff, has been released on bail. Mitchell resigned from the cabinet after it was alleged he called police officers in Downing Street 'fucking plebs.' The Conservative MP has always denied using the 'P' word and - alleged, though nameless - 'friends' say the release of CCTV footage has cast doubt on the original accounts. The man was arrested at around eight o'clock on Wednesday evening 'on suspicion of intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of an indictable offence on or around' last Friday. BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw noted that this had been 'about the time police received fresh information about [Plebgate].' The offence allegedly took place a day before a Diplomatic Protection Squad officer was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of misconduct in public office. But the Met said the latest arrest was not over allegations of 'conspiracy' to give false information about the incident. Thirty officers are currently working on the investigation into claims that someone on the force gave false evidence over the Plebgate affair. Earlier this week Channel Four News alleged that an officer had sent an e-mail, purporting to be from a member of the public who had witnessed the row between Mitchell and police in Downing Street in September. The e-mail was sent to Deputy Chief Whip John Randall, who passed it on to No 10. It contained claims that Mitchell 'shouted obscenities' and used 'gutter language,' adding that people watching were 'appalled,' with some possibly 'inadvertently' filming what was going on. But CCTV coverage suggests there were few, if any, members of the public within earshot of Mitchell, the Conservative MP for Sutton Coldfield, when he had his confrontation with officers. A senior Downing Street 'source' told the BBC that Mitchell was in a 'much stronger position' following the latest developments in the Plebgate story. His 'friends' have urged David Cameron to restore him to office. The prime minister told the Commons on Wednesday: 'A police officer posing as a member of the public and sending an e-mail potentially to blacken the name of a cabinet minister is a very serious issue and does need to be seriously investigated.' The Met says it is taking the issue 'extremely seriously.' Mitchell has admitted swearing at officers.

The Homeland actress Claire Danes has given birth to her first child, a boy, according to the publicist for the show. Cyrus Michael Christopher Dancy was born on Monday to Danes, thirty three, and her husband, the British actor Hugh Dancy. Danes's performance as the CIA operative Carrie Matheson on Showtime's Homeland series scored her an EMMY award in September, while the psychological thriller won the TV industry's highest honour of best drama series. Danes is nominated for her second Golden Globe award in the role at the Hollywood awards show in January. She also has won multiple awards for her past work on 2010 TV film Temple Grandin and as a fifteen-year-old on the 1990s coming-of-age television drama My So-Called Life.

Fans of The Only Way Is Essex, Made in Chelsea, Geordie Shore and other shit like that would have positively creaming themselves over reports that the BBC was jumping on the reality TV show bandwagon. The licence fee was being well spent on a copycat show based in Coventry, according to the Daily Mirra. Sent to Coventry, the Mirra claims, is being made by Big Brother maker Endemol, is a 'semi-scripted' show which promises to be 'more Jobcentre and boozer' than 'boob job and wine bar.' The report continued that the series would be 'much more real than its rivals.' Not much of a stretch there then. Sadly for the Mirra, it was all a load of - not particularly convincing - lies as BBC1 PR Sam Hodges subsequently poured cold water on the story on Twitter. A load of made up nonsense? In the Mirra? Surely not?

Watching Cheryl Cole on ITV2 recently, it was noted (not by yer actual Keith Telly Topping, sad to report, but rather by someone funnier than he) that apparently Cheryl calls her fans her 'soldiers.' So, interestingly, did Hitler. Anyway ...

This very evening, dearest bloggerisation readerettes, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self will be attending Uncle Scunthorpe's final Record Player event for 2012 at the Tyneside. Or, if those Mayans are right, the last one ever. Tonight, it's the third Singles Club evening - the second one was, of course, won by yer actual Keith Telly Topping's good mate young Geoff. This one being a concentration on Christmas-related 45-type vinyl. Assuming the Mayans didn't get the end of the world thing right, then Uncle Scunthorpe his very self has a bunch of tasty classic LPs lined up for the next season of Record Player night throughout late January, February and March, starting with yer actual Thriller. Aw.

A video preview for Bradley Wiggins and Paul Weller's BBC 6Music Christmas special has been released. Olympic gold medallist and reigning Tour De France champion Wiggins has recorded a two-hour radio show with his musical hero the Goddamn Modfather his very self which will be broadcast on Boxing Day. The six-minute preview features highlights from the show and includes Wiggins talking to Weller about his London 2012 and Tour De France experiences. The cyclist also explains his passion for mod culture, saying that going to see Ocean Colour Scene play live at the Shepherd's Bush Empire made him feel like he was 'part of something ... part of a group.' Wiggins plays down rumours that he could be knighted in the New Years Honours list during the preview, arguing that Mo Farah and Ben Ainslie were deserving of such an accolade. 'Apparently they're only allowed to give two out a year ... I'm probably last on the list,' he jokes. Bradley was named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2012 on Sunday. His victory was seen by 14.5 million viewers, compared to a peak audience of only 4.2 million for last year's ceremony. When Bradley Met Weller airs on Boxing Day from 1pm to 3pm on BBC 6Music.

So, that brings us to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which, today features one that yer man Bradley almost certainly has in his collection. And, the Goddamn Modfather his very self definitely does. And, a twenty four carat pop-psyche masterpiece, t'boot.
Always, slightly, prefer the original b-side of 'Absolute Beginners' version to the fan-club flexi take with trumpets which appears on Extras and seems to be the one more people are familiar with these days.

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