Monday, December 17, 2012

Things Are Really Getting Wild, The Kids Are Screaming For The James Brown Style

Yer actual King of the Mods Bradley Wiggins has been voted the 2012 BBC Sports Personality of the Year. The Tour De France and Olympic time trial champion, thirty two, beat eleven other contenders to the prestigious title. Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis was runner-up while US Open winner and Olympic gold (and silver) medallist Andy Murray was third. Other awards handed out included Young Sports Personality of the Year, which went to fifteen-year-old Paralympic swimmer Josef Craig. Lord Sebastian Coe won the Lifetime Achievement Award. 'I will say thank you to everyone who voted,' said Wiggins, who became the first Briton to win the Tour and followed that triumph by claiming his fourth Olympic gild just ten days later. After receiving the main award from the Duchess of Cambridge, he added: 'We have had all that jungle stuff and X Factor in the last few weeks, so for people to pick up the phone and vote in half-an-hour, thank you very much. To stand on this stage with the people next to me is incredible. I'd like to thank my team-mates - I wouldn't be on this stage without them. I'd like to thank [British Cycling boss] Dave Brailsford, the coaches, British Cycling, Team Sky and all the Olympians.' More than one and a half million phone votes were recorded for the twelve Sports Personality contenders, with Wiggins taking over thirty per cent of the vote. Wiggins mixed track and road cycling from an early age, but first came to wider public prominence in the velodrome, when he won four kilometre individual pursuit gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. The Lancashire-based athlete followed that up with two more golds on the track at the Beijing Games in 2008, a year in which he also picked up three titles at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships. Wiggins showed his Tour pedigree when finishing fourth in 2009 (later promoted to third following the disqualification of drug cheat Lance Armstrong) before securing a first Grand Tour podium place with third in the Vuelta a Espana two years later - a place behind Team Sky team-mate and fellow Briton Chris Froome, who was to play a key supporting role in Wiggins's 2012 Tour win. In total, Wiggins won Paris-Nice, the Tour De Romandie, the Criterium Du Dauphine and the Tour De France during 2012 - the only cyclist ever to achieve that feat in a single season. And just over a week after his Tour victory, the Belgium-born rider won the time trial at London 2012 to take his tally of Olympic medals to seven, a haul only equalled among Britons by fellow cyclist and 2012 Sports Personality nominee Sir Chris Hoy. Wiggins said later than when Mo Farah wasn't named in third or second place, he thought he had lost. Lord Coe, London 2012 chairman and recipient of a lifetime achievement award, called Wiggins 'a rock star' after seeing him receive the prize to loud chants of 'Wiggo! Wiggo!' Wiggins certainly looked like one - specifically, his hero Paul Weller - in a bespoke velvet double-breasted suit by Soho tailor Mark Powell. But, if that's the case, then he's very much a reluctant rock star. For a man with a self-confessed ambivalence for the limelight, Wiggins has spent 2012 hogging it with his towering achievements. They have stretched from the Champs-Elysées to the Olympic Stadium, where he literally rang in Britain's golden summer of success with a giant bell, to the scene of his time trial victory at Hampton Court and now, finally, to London's Docklands. After a year in which he became the first British man to win the Tour De France, followed by his fourth Olympic gold amid a riot of red, white and blue, Wiggins found himself again centre of attention and the focus of much celebration. It was belated reward for a career of consistent success that exploded into the wider public consciousness with his Tour victory. 'I'm just very grateful. I'll do other things within this sport, but I'll never top this year and I don't mind accepting that,' he said. 'It's something to tell the kids when they're older. When they're giving me grief and they're teenagers, I can put the old DVD on and say "look what your father did." It's never going to get any better, is it, let's face it?' he said. All night in the arena, yards from where the likes of Nicola Adams and Luke Campbell won their medals in the summer, the crowd noisily acclaimed the twelve nominees as they relived the highlights of a sporting year unlikely to ever be equalled. The glittering field was widely acknowledged as the most competitive ever. 'For the first time in a long time, it made you proud to be British,' said Wiggins of 2012. 'It was quite something, I just hope that continues.' Some of the themes of that glorious summer, now already tinged in sepia tones, were reflected in the shortlist. There were five women to showcase the boost given to women's sport by the likes of Ennis, Adams and Katherine Grainger. And there were three Paralympians, including four-time London gold medallist David Weir, who provided a memorable finale to London's sporting summer when he surged to victory on the Mall in the wheelchair marathon and celebrated with his son, Mason. Wiggins was the longstanding favourite and withstood a late surge of support for second placed Ennis, the face of London 2012 who won gold on so-called 'Super Saturday' amid extreme pressure, and Andy Murray. For the athletes, the public and the sporting administrators present, it was once last opportunity to wallow in the achievements and emotions of an incomparable year. The seventy thousand Olympic volunteers, or 'gamesmakers' who did so much to ensure the success of London's Games were present in force. The Duchess of Cambridge and David Beckham were also on hand. If the first half of the award's title was justified by Wiggins' historic sporting achievements, the second half was probably as much to do with the public seeing him as an antidote to the distant celebrity of other stars. Whether looking on in horror at Lesley Garrett as she squealed her way through the national anthem on the Champs-Elysées or bursting free from the VIP enclosure at Hampton Court so that he could find his family and greet the crowds outside, his unaffected honesty struck a chord. He struggled on Sunday night to find words to sum up his appeal. 'I don't want to give you an easy headline,' he said. The Kilburn-raised cyclist has also overcome adversity. Many doubted whether he could combine winning the Tour with Olympic success, yet he proved them wrong. 'Over the years, since he was a young lad, his capacity to work hard was unbelievable, off the scale. Over the years he has learned how to manage himself and how to manage his sport,' said David Brailsford, the British Cycling performance director who was - rightly - named coach of the year. Wiggins's margin of victory in the Tour was crushing. Aided by his Sky teammates, especially Froome and Cavendish, he wore the yellow jersey for thirteen consecutive stages to become the first British winner of the race in its ninety ninth edition. With his recognisable sideburns, sharp suits, Fred Perry tie ups and fondness for Weller and the stylish Mod era, Wiggins has also brought cycling – always a sport which had a sense of style – out of the sports pages and onto the fashion and celebrity spreads as well. But, there is an irony in that because Wiggins has struggled to a degree with his new found celebrity and the demands that it has placed upon him and his family. He has admitted that he hates being the centre of attention off his bike, calling himself a 'shy bloke' who hates the word celebrity. While others wrung the last drops of publicity out of their Olympic feats, Wiggins was knocked off his bike by a white Astra van outside a BP garage. Brailsford also took the time to pay tribute to the ability of Wiggins, Hoy, Cavendish and Victoria Pendleton, saying that he hoped it would inspire a new generation of cyclists. From a fringe concern, the sport has delivered up a succession of national heroes and inspired an upsurge in participation nationally. Wiggins was the third cyclist in the past five years to win the award after Hoy in 2008 and Cavendish last year. Brailsford said: 'When I got into cycling, it seemed like an odd thing to be doing. All my friends thought it was an odd thing to be doing. To go from that to where the sport stands in British culture now is remarkable.' For Wiggins, the spotlight is unlikely to move away from him for some time yet. To further evident discomfort, he is likely to be knighted in the New Year's honours list. And, following an encouraging training camp in Mallorca, he said he was targeting another tilt at the Tour in 2013. 'I've always wanted to win a second Tour. I'm the defending champion. I want to try and win the Giro D'Italia and win the Tour De France behind it. People say it can't be done, winning two Tours. So let's have a go at it.' With that the people's champion, the reluctant rock star, was off to celebrate. 'There's a free bar, isn't there? It would be rude not to.'

Sprinter Usain Bolt was named the Overseas Sports Personality of the Year after winning triple Olympic gold for the second successive Games. The twenty six-year-old Jamaican starred at the London 2012 Games as he claimed one and two hundred metres titles and was part of the Jamaican four by one hundred metres relay team. Bolt became the only man to have retained both individual sprint golds and helped his team become the first to run under thirty seven seconds in the relay. His sixth Games gold made him the most decorated Olympic sprinter of all-time. It is the third time in the past five years that he has been given the BBC honour. 'It was a great Olympics, a great year and I worked really hard,' he said. Bolt triumphed despite hamstring and back problems that had placed his participation in doubt.

Wiggo being crowned Sports Personality of the Year was watched by a five-minute peak audience of 14.5 million viewers on Sunday, as the BBC1 show pulled in its biggest audience for at least two decades. The BBC1 end-of-the-year sports review show, dominated by the Olympics and Paralympics, had an average audience of 10.6 million viewers, a 39.6 per cent audience share, between 7.30pm and 10.30pm on Sunday. Hosted by Sue Barker, Gary Lineker and the nation's sweetheart Clare Balding, the awards over-ran by nearly half-an-hour, with a fifteen-minute peak of 14.3 million for its climax between 10.15pm and 10.30pm. Boosted by memories of an extraordinary year for British sport, the audience was more than twice the 4.2 million average who watched last year's show. It was the biggest audience for the Sports Personality of the Year Show since at least 1992. The previous highest in the last decade was the 8.3 million viewers who tuned in after England's victory in the rugby World Cup in 2003. Last year's was its lowest, hampered by an unpopular switch from its traditional Sunday night berth to a Thursday night slot to avoid a clash with the final of The X Factor. Strictly Come Dancing, which preceded Sports Personality of the Year, attracted 10.73m for Lisa Riley's departure. BBC1 beat ITV in every primetime slot, with Countryfile (6.16m) and the late-running BBC News (8.99m) also performing well. The penultimate episode of Channel Four's Homeland had two million viewers between 9pm and 10pm. ITV's period drama The Making of a Lady could only manage a meagre 3.29 million viewers between 8pm and 9.45pm. The Da Vinci Code - which yer actual Keith Telly Topping had the great misfortune to catch forty five minutes of; Christ almighty, that's an effing wretched film! - was Channel Five's most-viewed broadcast of the day, logging 1.42m. Continuing to struggle in its Sunday 10pm slot, Peep Show slumped to a new series low of six hundred and sixty eight thousand punters. Overall, BBC1 had ab Olympian primetime with 40.2 per cent of the audience share, miles ahead of ITV's 8.5 per cent. ITV's all-day audience share was a risible 6.5 per cent.

The BBC has confirmed that Doctor Who will début a revamped theme tune and title sequence this Christmas. The popular long-running family SF drama returns to BBC1 at 5:15pm on Christmas Day with festive special The Snowmen. In a post on the show's official site, viewers are promised 'a wonderfully dramatic and striking' new title sequence, while the new theme is described as 'thrilling, powerful and scary', whilst still remaining 'true to the original' Ron Grainer composition. It was previously confirmed that The Snowmen - written by Steven Moffat - will introduce a new interior design for the TARDIS. New series regular Jenna-Louise Coleman will also make her first appearance as mysterious companion Clara in the hour-long episode, which features guest appearances from Richard E Grant and Silent Witness actor Tom Ward. So, remember dear blog reader, there's something quite important happening next Tuesday.
Just in case there was any danger of this blogger letting you forget.

The Chase held onto its recently established tea-time lead in the overnight ratings on Friday, as BBC1 broadcast a week of Pointless Celebrities. The Bradley Walsh game show, which has recently been pulling in very good rating for ITV, was watched by 3.43m in Friday's 5pm hour. Pointless Celebrities, at 5.15pm, commanded a decent 3.07m. Nowhere near as funny as he thinks he is Peter Kay gave Channel Four some festive cheer, as a screening of his distinctly average Live at the Top of the Tower stand-up set had an audience of 2.23m from 9pm. Have I Got News For You (4.18m) and Live at the Apollo (2.56m) doubled up for BBC 1, while 2.01m watched Westminster Abbey on BBC2. However, ITV's risible charity shocker A Night For Heroes struggled to find any sort of audience with a mere 2.83m punters. Later, The Graham Norton Show attracted 3.47m to BBC1 from 10.35pm, while Qi was watching a a fraction over two million on BBC2 at 10pm, and Alan Carr's Chatty Man took 1.28m on Channel Four. Elsewhere, The Mentalist anchored Channel Five's schedule with 1.28m.

An - alleged - 'celebrity' special of odious, risible Take Me Out boosted the dating show's flagging fortunes on Saturday night, Some 3.84 million crushed victims of society watched the ludicrously worthless festive edition, hosted by oafish unfunny buffoon Paddy McGuinness and featuring the likes of Leigh Francis and Joe Swash, between 7.45pm and 9pm. Girls Aloud: Ten Years at the Top, an ITV documentary tracking the group's rise to fame, could only muster 2.3m afterwards. By contrast, Strictly Come Dancing topped the night with a huge 10.36m between 6.30pm and 8.15pm for BBc1, then the second-to-last episode of Merlin was watched by a series high of 5.92m punters. On BBC2, a tribute to the late Dad's Army actor Clive Dunn attracted 2.25m at 9.15pm, prior to which a classic episode of the period sitcom averaged 2.79m. If it hadn't been for the performance of festive film Mrs Miracle (1.21m), Channel Five's evening audience would have been beaten by BBC4. A double helping of The Killing took eight hundred and eleven thousand and seven hundred and fourteen thousand viewers between 9pm and 11pm, topping the multichannel ratings. Overall, BBC1 thrashed ITV in primetime with thirty one per cent versus 11.9 per cent of the audience share.

The BBC have confirmed that the second series of Borgen - the best, current, TV show in the world ... which doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in its title - will begin on 5 January on BBC4. Tasty.
Comedy line of the week came from the latest episode of Qi in which yer actual Reverend Richard Coles (you know, he used to be the keyboard player in the Communards) telling the very amusing story of a colleague who ran a psychiatric unit in which there was a man who believed himself to be God. Apparently the man used to follow the doctor around the unit 'asking him hard questions about the hyper static union.' So, one day doctor got a bit impatient with the delusional individual, and said 'actually, if you are God, can you kindly settle, once and for all, the exact nature of the relationship between the three part of The Trinty.' To which the man replied: 'I never talk shop!'

Nina Wadia has announced that she is to leave EastEnders. The actress and comedienne, who starred as long-suffering Zainab Masood, is leaving the soap after five years. Her character arrived in Albert Square with daughter Shabnam in 2007 as the new owner of the post office. She was later joined by her husband, Masood, and her two sons. Wadia said: 'Playing Zainab has been a gift and a privilege. I'll always be hugely proud of the ­talented friends I've worked with and I'm so grateful for the special bond with our audience who watch, care and talk to us every day. We're a family of millions. Letting go of something you love is never easy but the time has come to move on and every ending brings a new beginning.' During her five years on the show, Zainab has accepted her gay son and endured her ex-husband drugging her and then dying in a house fire. Wadia won Best Comedy Performance and Best Partnership at the 2009 British Soap Awards with Nitin Ganatra, who plays Masood. The Masood family has been rocked in recent months by the departure of Zainab's gay son Syed, who left with his lover, Christian Clarke. It has been reported that Zainab is not expected to be killed off. EastEnders boss Lorraine Newman said of Wadia's soap legacy: 'For the past five years Nina has brought to life the wonderful Zainab - the formidable, fun-loving, opinionated, fiercely competitive matriarch. Nina's range as an actor is quite exceptional, from her comedic double acts right through to her ability to pull on our heart strings with incredibly moving drama. We are very sad to be losing Nina and wish her well in ventures new. She will be missed by the production as much as the audience.'

New episodes of US comedy series Family Guy and American Dad were dropped on Sunday in the wake of Friday's shootings in a Connecticut school, which left twenty six dead. FOX instead showed repeats of the shows to avoid broadcasting any 'potentially sensitive content.' The billed Family Guy episode had featured a retelling of the nativity while in American Dad, a demon punished naughty children at Christmas.

Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads is reportedly to return to London in the middle of January for an X Factor 'crisis summit' to decide how to revive the programme's fortunes for 2013. The audience for the final show last weekend was the lowest for an X Factor finale since 2006 - albeit eleven million viewers still watched at least a part of the episode. Richard Holloway, executive producer of The X Factor, said: 'There is not one element we will not be looking at carefully – from judges and start times to auditions and glitzy productions.' He revealed that Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads his very self could even return as a judge: 'I'd love him to come back. He's the best judge in the world, Never say never! If we can find a way to reintroduce him, we will. But it is impossible for him to be in two places at once.' Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads has spent the autumn in America, where the third season of The X Factor US ends this weekend. 'It's our tenth anniversary in 2013, and we want it to be amazing,' Holloway said. 'It's about who the judges will be next year. Do we reformat the show? Do we introduce a new element?' Critics have described the latest series of The X Factor as 'boring, inauthentic, and straying from its mission' to find people who love to sing, rather than those who merely seek fame. One commissioner, who asked not to be named but has launched a variety of successful shows, told the Gruniad Morning Star: 'The programme should be cancelled or at least rested. It has become boring. That is the fate of entertainment programmes, including Blind Date and Gladiators. Formats just die of fatigue. The X Factor without Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads has gone for bigger and bigger, in an attempt to cover the cracks.' Others maintain - without any great supporting evidence - that Britain collectively is beginning to fall out of love with those who crave instant fame and success. Duncan Gray, ITV's controller of entertainment between 2006 and 2008, said: 'The Noughties were a decade of excess and bling. These are very difficult times.' Holloway said that, while the format would be 'looked at,' the future of the show was secure and its popularity enormous: 'We have thousands and thousands of applicants wanting to audition for next year. James Arthur [this year's winner] will inspire people with similar acts.' One of the problems facing ITV is the start time of the programmes. To avoid a clash with BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing, which opted to launch at 6.30pm, ITV decided against scheduling aggressively - as they have done so often in the past - and moved its programme to a later slot, usually 8pm. This, they claim, has damaged ratings, while Strictly enjoyed a triumphant series. 'This is a bit of a raw nerve,' said Holloway. 'The X Factor is a family show. If I could pick my start time, it would be 7pm on Saturday and Sunday. At the latest we should be off air at 9.30pm. It allows the kids to stay up, and older ones to watch and then go out and drink; 10pm is too late and our larger shows are coming off air at 10.30pm.' So, make shorter shows, then. The answer's simple. Another alleged - though, anonymous - 'expert' allegedly said that ITV had made a mistake with its Sunday results show, which meant viewers could 'mostly skip' the Saturday show and still keep up. The January summit – when Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads will meet ITV director of television Peter Fincham and the show's production team – will look at whether the performances are dwarfed by overproduction, too many dancers, distracting sets and special effects such as dramatic lighting, while wide-panning camera shots make it impersonal. Holloway said: 'There are conflicting views. There are those who say they just want to hear and see the song, but for the vast majority this is an entertainment extravaganza and we want to make it the best. Some times we go too far, but as the show progressed this time we did cut back. It is a singing contest.' Another - nameless, and probably, therefore, fictitious - alleged 'expert' allegedly saw 'little chance' of the show disappearing: 'ITV has to bring The X Factor back: it has nothing else up its sleeve. It should have bought The Voice instead of letting the BBC get it.' An ITV spokesman declined to comment on the, alleged, 'crisis' but pointed out that The X Factor final had still been 'the highest-rated programme on TV since the Olympics.' Which is, technically, true - at least until the Strictly final next Saturday.

ITV is to broadcast a third series of discussion show The Agenda in the New Year, following a series which saw all three main party political leaders on the show. The eight half-hour shows are fronted by ITN Political Editor Tom Bradby. The format will be unchanged, with Bradby and four studio guests debating the coming week's agenda, from politics to popular culture. Filmed in front of a studio audience at The Hospital Club, discussion is interspersed with mini video packages which illustrate the show's talking points. Guests in series two included David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Milimolimandi, Mad Hattie Harman, well known hairdo Boris Johnson, William Hague, Hugh Grant, Patrick Stewart, Fiona Shaw and Mariella Frostrup.
And, speaking of millionaire Old Etonian David Cameron, should he be so supportive of his lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Miller? Aside from the Daily Torygraph, the paper which broke the story of her ninety grand expenses claim for a property used by her parents, other papers are now scenting political blood in the water. Her interview with the Evening Standard's political editor Joe Murphy was described by the political blogger Guido Fawkes as 'a car crash.' With the parliamentary commissioner for standards now looking into her expenses, Murphy asked a series of relevant questions about those claims. The vile and odious rascal Miller began by reiterating that her expenses had been 'audited twice, independently.' One of the auditors was Sir Thomas Legg, the former civil servant who ordered three hundred and eighty nine MPs to repay sums wrongly claimed in 2009. Murphy asked: 'Did Sir Thomas know her parents lived there?' The vile and odious rascal Miller was, apparently, unclear on whether he had or he hadn't. 'I, obviously, spoke to the fees office about my claims and they were happy that everything was in order,' she said. So, is that a yes or a no, then rascal? No reply. Then, Murphy asked for the identity of the second allegedly 'independent' auditor. It transpired that it was the Conservative party. Very 'independent'. Murphy wrote: 'Her definition of "independent" may raise some eyebrows as the Tory panel was headed by the then chief whip and David Cameron's chief of staff.' After an exchange in which the vile and odious rascal Miller claimed yet again that her expenses having been 'looked at in detail twice by two separate organisations' Murphy followed up with a killer question: 'So why, then, did she suddenly stop claiming on the Wimbledon home in 2009 — just as the expenses scandal erupted?' Because, the vile and odious rascal Miller replied, 'I think there was a lot of concern about the rules and, er, a lot of concern about, you know, the whole issue, and it's something I felt that I didn't want to be, sort of, mixed up in, the fact that I ...' The vile and odious rascal Miller finally stopped trying to explain herself at that point, and simply, added: 'I just made that decision.' But Cameron is sticking with the vile and odious rascal Miller just as he doggedly stuck with her predecessor, the vile and odious rascal Hunt. The Times quotes Cameron as saying that she has his 'full support.' He said: 'A newspaper has asked her a number of questions. So far as I can see, she has got excellent answers to all those questions.' Excellent answers? Given that the prime minister was in Brussels at the time, he obviously hadn't had the chance to read Murphy's interview. It might also be useful for him to consult the Torygraph's timeline. At any time, a minister's expenses claims will come under intense press scrutiny. But this isn't any time. Newspapers are particularly exercised by the problems posed by the Leveson report in which the lack of culture secretary has a key role in deciding on the eventual decision about the form of a new regulator. She is now enmeshed in a formal inquiry with a potentially disastrous outcome.
Lord Chris Smith, the former Labour lack of culture secretary, the Gruniad columnist and ex-Times editor Simon Jenkins and Lord Phillips, the former president of the supreme court, have been appointed as the special advisers who will help set up a new press regulator. The trio have been asked by Press Complaints Commission chairman Lord Hunt to assist him establish an independent appointments process which will satisfy critics who have said appointments to the PCC has been too biased in favour of powerful newspaper figures. They have agreed to work with him in an unpaid capacity and will have a temporary role. Hunt said at a press briefing on Friday that he would be complying with the 'best practice' in public appointments processes and said he would be meeting Sir David Normington, the commissioner for public appointments, on Tuesday to get further advice. The shape of the new regulator to replace the PCC has yet to be decided but Hunt said that he did not want to 'waste time' waiting for the government to decide whether establishing the new watchdog would require legislation. The government is still working on a draft bill for the new regulator and Labour has tabled its own version involving statutory underpinning for the watchdog, something national newspaper editors oppose. Hunt said a separate implementation group representing one hundred and twenty newspaper and magazine editors would meet next Thursday to discuss 'a way forward.' At this meeting he wants to present a draft contract which would bind all publishers to the decisions made by the new watchdog, including possible fines of up to one million smackers for breaches of its revised code of practice. Hunt also announced that members of the public will be asked to 'make suggestions' for a revised code of practice for journalists. He said one change already planned for the code of practice, which the new regulator will inherit from the PCC, was for a revised definition of what constitutes public interest journalism. The public will have until 17 February to make suggestions for changes to the current code, which covers issues ranging from privacy and accuracy to guidelines on the use of subterfuge in the public interest. The code of practice committee, which currently comprises thirteen editors, also announced on Friday that it was reducing the number of editors on the committee by three and for the first time will have five lay individuals, including the director and the chair of the new regulator. Hunt added that he and PCC members Peter Wright, the former Scum Mail on Sunday editor, and ex-BBC, Channel Four and ITV executive Lord Grade would now work to shut down the discredited press watchdog 'as soon as possible,' paving the way for the new body to start work. He said he was continuing to have discussions with Private Eye about joining the new regulatory regime and said the magazine's editor, Ian Hislop, had told him he 'was watching with interest' and would 'await developments' before deciding whether to sign up. Private Eye is not regulated by the PCC, but Hunt is hoping the fact that those who join the new regulator may benefit from reduced libel costs may be incentive enough for Hislop. Who does, of course, have a habit of getting seriously sued. Allegedly. 'He didn't say he wouldn't [join], he said let me see what you produce,' said Hunt. Hunt has also been in touch with the six assessors used by Lord Justice Leveson during his inquiry into press ethics and practices and will canvass their opinion on the new regulator in the new year. Paul Dacre, odious editor of the Daily Scum Mail, and chairman of the code committee said: 'Lord Justice Leveson recognised in his report that the editor's code was praised by witnesses in the inquiry. He also recommended improvements – and the committee is determined to meet this challenge as promptly and positively as possible.'

A police constable with the diplomatic protection group has been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office, Met Police say. The officer was arrested late on Saturday. He has been suspended from duty. The arrest was made by officers investigating how national newspapers came to publish police records of an incident at Downing Street. It involved the then government chief whip allegedly calling officers 'fucking plebs.' In September Andrew Mitchell apparently made the comments when police asked him to use the pedestrian gate, rather than the main gate, to leave Downing Street. Mitchell apologised for 'not having shown enough respect' to the police but maintained - against all evidence to the contrary - that he 'did not use the words attributed to me.' However, he quit the government over the affair a few weeks later having clung on by his fingertips. On Monday, Mitchell told the BBC: 'I reiterate once again that the contents of the alleged police logbook are false.' One or two people even believed him. The official police log of the confrontation between the chief whip and officers was published by the Daily Torygraph and the Sun. On Sunday, the Met said that the arrested officer was not on duty during the incident, and investigations have found no evidence to suggest those on duty on the day were involved in the unauthorised release of information. The arrest will be formally referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission on Monday, the Met Police said.

The Queen guitarist, astrophysicist and hairdo Brian May has denounced The Sunday Times for 'dustbin sniffing,' after reports that he bought Sir Patrick Moore's house four years ago, above its market value, so that the veteran astronomer could continue living in his own home until his death a week ago, aged eighty nine. In a statement to the Gruniad Morning Star, Big-Haired May said that it was 'too soon' to decide the future of the house, Farthings, a part-Tudor thatched cottage in Selsey, West Sussex, crammed with Moore's scientific and personal possessions, which May had hoped could become a centre for young astronomers. 'It's too early to be able to comment meaningfully on this. As Patrick's friends, we have been discussing possible futures for some time, but until now the first priority has always been safeguarding the quality of Patrick's life while he was alive. It will take time to assess what the possibilities now are,' May said. 'Opening Patrick's house to the public would probably require a major commitment from a number of people, because it's unlikely that the government would fund such a project. We will be quietly looking at ideas in the next few weeks.' May struck a far angrier note on his own website, denouncing The Sunday Times report – which was, in the main, admiring – as 'dustbin sniffers' strike again. 'Sir Patrick Moore is not even laid to rest yet, but I have just heard that The Sunday Times (yes, them again) have been sneaking around, like the carrion eaters they are, and are now about to "reveal" all the details they've managed to sniff out about how we, as Patrick's friends, helped him in his latter years, to stay functional in his own home to the very end.' Moore had lived in Farthings since 1967, keeping open house for a procession of visitors from all over the world. He was never personally wealthy, and his BBC programme The Sky At Night was made on a shoestring from the start - probably the main reason why it lasted for over fifty years. Farthings' contents include correspondence between Moore and just about every leading astronomer of his fifty five years presenting The Sky at Night, the world's longest-running science programme, scientific instruments, thousands of books and hundreds of thousands of his own astronomical photographs, letters from Buzz Aldrin and other astronauts, his many honorary doctorates, and a case of medals arranged around a glass ruby from a Christmas cracker.

JJ Abrams has spoken about casting Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness. The director was effusive about Cumberbatch's performance in the sequel, revealing that he wanted to cast him immediately after watching his performance in Sherlock. 'One day, Damon Lindelof texted me and said, "You should check out Sherlock." I watched Sherlock, and was completely blown away, there was this absolute undeniable feeling about it. Certainly it was important to hear the words come out of this actor's mouth, and so we got Benedict the pages and he sent an iPhone-taped audition to us, but it was almost a little bit of a formality.' Abrams went on to suggest that Cumberbatch's presence had raised the standard of performances across the board. 'Being on the set with him I think everyone was bringing their absolute A-game. I think, frankly, in a way, [his] presence sort of elevated everything,' he added. 'Time and again, every scene, Benedict brought a surprising, unexpected, grounded, real and often terrifying aspect to the role. So we are incredibly grateful, all of us.'

The BBC was guilty of a 'serious lapse' in its duty of care for a thirteen-year-old actor who appeared in violent scenes in BBC2 drama Line of Duty, media regulator Ofcom has ruled. Ofcom - a government Quango, elected by no-one and, therefore, without the moral authority to tell the BBC jack-shit in this blogger's opinion, said that programme-makers did 'not do enough' to protect the child actor, who appeared in scenes in which he was headbutted and attempted to sever a policeman's fingers with pair of bolt-cutters. The BBC said it was in 'constant dialogue' with the teenager's parents who were content that he could cope with the emotional demands of the drama despite it being his first acting role. But Ofcom, acting on a single complaint from a - nameless - viewer, said that the programme had breached broadcasting rules requiring that 'due care must be taken over the physical and emotional welfare and the dignity of people under eighteen.' The regulator said thirteen-year-old Gregory Piper, who played character Ryan Pilkington, a child-runner for a violent criminal gang, had appeared in scenes which were 'of a particularly violent nature and included sexually explicit language.' After being headbutted by DS Arnott, played by Martin Compston, Pilkington is handed a pair of bolt cutters and shoots: 'Give it, give it, now hold his hand out and give me that fucking finger.' He then tells the policeman, whose hand is being held in a vice: 'You bastard what have you got to say now?' In a later interrogation by another police officer, Pilkington is asked: 'You're a tough kid Ryan, or at least you think you are. If you carry on like this the place you are going has sixteen-year-olds, seventeen-year-olds and they are built like brick sheds, how do you think you'll fare against one of those lads? They knock your teeth out Ryan; they do that so you give a better blow job.' Ofcom said it was 'particularly concerned that there did not appear to be anyone who was independent and had no direct interest in the child actor's participation in the series involved in the decision making regarding his participation.' The 'violent nature of the "bolt cutter" scene and the sexually explicit language used by DC Fleming were such "extreme" cases and, given the child actor's direct involvement in both scenes, would have warranted the broadcaster to seek expert opinion on whether it was appropriate for the child actor to participate in them,' the regulator added. Made by independent producer World, the critically well-received Line of Duty was broadcast on BBC2 in June and July this year and has been recommissioned for a second series. Ofcom said the drama had been responsible for a 'serious lapse' in compliance with the broadcasting code and called for a meeting with the BBC to reiterate the 'paramount importance' of rules regarding child participation. Hopefully, someone in authority at the BBC with a bit of sodding backbone to themselves, will accept the meeting and, at it, tell Ofcom's representative where they can frigging go and what to do with the horse they rode in on in relation to matters of artistic concern that are none of their bastard business. A good hard back-hander across the chops for their Goddamn impertinence mightn't be entirely out of order, either. Although it's probably illegal, or something, so maybe just leave it at telling them to butt out.

Risible full-of-his-own-importance saviour of the planet Sting, Bryan Ferry and Alun Armstrong are among people to have signed a letter protesting at potentially 'disastrous' plans by Newcastle City Council to scrap its entire arts budget. The council will cut grants to theatres and other venues as part of a wider plan to save ninety million quid and cut thirteen hundred jobs. All of which is dreadful and wrong but the fact that frigging Sting, somebody who has never put so much as a penny back into the area from which the balding ex-milkman from Waalsend comes is laughable. Trying selling your 'six hundred acre estate in Tuscany' and giving the money to the coooncil if you're so aggrieved about the cuts, you lute-playing glake, you.  Get back of yer dad's float and get me two pints of Gold Top instead of swanning around like you own the place. Anyway, the letter said that it was 'a short-sighted attack on the arts and the idea that culture should be available to all.' Which it is. The council said it faces 'unpalatable decisions' - which is does - but no venues should close. The open letter was signed by 'artists with strong connections to Newcastle and the North East,' including sculptor Antony Gormley, the Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant, Billy Elliott writer Lee Hall and actor Kevin Whately. All of whom are, also, very rich and could, presumably, have afforded to buy a stamp and make it a 'closed' letter. They claimed that the cuts would 'decimate the cultural life of the city' - which they may well do - and would be 'economically disastrous to both the arts organisations themselves and to hundreds of businesses who benefit from their success.' Which is, also, almost certainly true. 'Generations of young people will be denied access to the opportunities we were given, and without the council's support the arts will simply become a pursuit for the most wealthy,' they said. And, again, it's hard to argue with that. 'If these organisations go under, they will never be replaced. Whilst we must all recognise these are difficult times it is precisely now that we are relying on you to protect these organisations for everyone. The cost of losing them is simply too huge and totally unnecessary.' The cultural venues that risk losing their council funding include the Theatre Royal, Live Theatre, Northern Stage, Seven Stories children's book centre and Dance City. The council has said it must find ways to cut one third of its entire budget over the next three years. A spokesman said the council knew some savings would be 'counterproductive and, in many cases, a false economy but the council can only spend the resources that it has. Although the total amount the city council contributes to the arts sector is significant, it is much smaller to individual bodies - between 2.5 per cent and fifteen per cent of the amount that they receive,' a statement said. 'We would therefore not expect that our reductions alone would result in the closure of an arts organisation.' As well as its plans for the arts, the council is planning to make cuts to the social work budget, the number of looked-after children and its youth service. It also plans to close two respite care homes. Nicola Vose, who is leading a campaign to save the Cheviot View and Castle Dene respite homes, said causes like theirs were 'being overlooked.' 'We are a small group and, even united, we don't have the same volume of voice that the arts sector has or the likes of City Hall because not everybody uses these units,' she said. Vose has disabled children aged twelve and eighteen, who use the units. 'They are absolutely vital,' she said. 'We've seen horror stories in the newspapers. We know what happens when families don't get the correct support, and to be perfectly frank, families will end up in such a terrible state in reaching crisis point that it could be a matter of life and death for some of these families.' Indeed. So, maybe yer good old Geordie blokie Sting'd like to help out. Unless he's got something better to do, like single-handedly protect the rain forests.

England's cricket team completed their first series victory in India for twenty seven years as Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell both hit centuries on the final day of the fourth test in Nagpur. Trott scored one hundred and forty three and Bell one hundred and sixteen not out as the tourists, who lost the first test in Ahmedabad before winning subsequent matches in Mumbai and Kolkata, earned the draw they needed to secure an historic two-one series triumph. India took just one wicket all day as débutant Joe Root added an unbeaten twenty. England finished the match three hundred and fifty six runs ahead of India on 352-4 when stumps were drawn. It means that Alistair Cook joins the short list of Douglas Jardine, Tony Greig and David Gower as the only England captains to win a test series in India. Their final-day dominance was fitting because, since being beaten by nine wickets in the first Test, England have completely outplayed their hosts in every department. While recent Ashes victories will rank as some of England's finest displays, former captain Michael Vaughan put the accomplishment into context by describing winning a Test series in India as 'the hardest thing to do in cricket.' It is only the fourth time in history England have won there, and it is the first time since Gower's tourists were triumphant in 1984-85. England also inflicted India's first series loss on home soil since the legendary Australia team containing Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Ricky Ponting won in 2004 - a series which became billed as 'The Last Step To Greatness.' Cook's team may not be 'great' yet, but they certainly gave players like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Mahendra Dhoni plenty to think about with their dominant performances. Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar outbowled India's spinners, James Anderson underlined his status as one of the best seamers in the world, while - led by the insatiable run-scoring feats of captain Cook - all of England's batsmen scored major runs. Trott and Bell were the two players most in need of a good score on the final day of the match - and both delivered emphatically. The Warwickshire pair posted their highest Test scores of the year, with a century particularly welcome for Bell who averaged just eighteen in India before he came to the crease when England were stuttering slightly at 94-3 on the fourth day. Scoring may have been slow, with Trott facing three hundred and ten balls and Bell three hundred and six, but it is a measure of England's progress that they suffered so few alarms on the final day after such a chastening start to the year. Both Trott and Bell were part of the side in January which was bowled out for seventy two against Pakistan, on their way to a series whitewash in the United Arab Emirates. But there was no way Trott was going to allow the year to end on a sour note. He continued in a defiant manner on the fifth morning - timing the ball to perfection - as he eased a four through the leg side to bring up his eighth Test century. It appeared he might bat throughout the final day until his dismissal just before tea. The thirty one-year-old chased a Ravichandran Ashwin delivery and chipped the ball into the hands of Virat Kohli at leg-slip. Bell batted similarly serenely, but did enjoy a let-off on seventy five when he slashed hard outside off stump and was dropped at slip by Sehwag. Bell capitalised on his fortune late in the day when he completed his seventeenth Test century - the slowest of his international career - as he and Root, who swept Ashwin for six to compound the off-spinner's misery, closed out the historic and memorable series victory. England, who consolidated their second-placed position behind South Africa in the ICC Test rankings, travel to New Zealand for a three-Test series in March before hosting the Kiwis in the summer ahead of eagerly-anticipated back-to-back Ashes contests.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. This one's from Bradley from the bard of Woking.

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