Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It's Raining, I'm Crying, I'm Sinking, I'm Dying

Doctor Who will return to BBC1 during Easter weekend on Saturday 30 March, 2013. The Doctor is back (along with the mysterious Clara)  in what the Beeb their very selves describe as 'a fantastic adventure' written by the show's lead writer, executive producer and The Lord Thy God, Steven Moffat. Which is nice. The episode - the first in a run of eight - is directed by Colm McCarthy whose previous credits include Hustle, [spooks] and Endeavour. Series seven (part two) kicks off with an episode which may, or may not, be called The Bells of Saint John. The 2013 opener is, apparently, set on present day Earth with the main plot appeared to be centred around 'something living in the wi-fi' which is feeding on humans. This 'sentient Twitter' as The Doctor puts it, harvests human minds and also has the power to project an image from your subconscious. See, yer actual Keith Telly Topping always told you that Twitter was the source of all evil, dear blog reader. And I was right. Celia Imrie and Dan Li feature in this episode. The Rings of Akhaten (still a working title, so that may be subject to change) is the first of Luther creator Neil Cross's two episodes this year. It's directed by Farren Blackburn. According to Moffat, the story takes place on 'the biggest and best alien planet Doctor Who has ever done.' Next comes The Cold War (again a provisional title) by yer man Mark Gatiss and directed by Douglas Mackinnon. This is alleged to be a 'base under-siege' story which is set on a submarine. According to a rumour which appears to have been started by the Daily Lies, The Ice Warriors will return in this episode for the first time since 1974. But, then, this is the Daily Lies we're talking about - if they told me black was darker than white this blogger would want a second opinion. We're all still waiting for their 2003 'exclusive' that Holly Valance was 'in talks' to replace Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy The Vampire Slayer to bear fruit. Gatiss his very self originally revealed that the first of his two episodes this year would contain the words 'meat', 'klaxon' and 'Vienna'. And 'antidisestablishmentarianism'. Probably. The great David Warner, Liam Cunningham, Josh O'Connor and James Norton feature in this one. Following that, we have an episode which appears to have not one but two working titles, The Hider in the House and Phantoms of the Hex. The second of Neil Cross's episodes, this one directed by Jamie Payne, it is claimed to be 'a historical ghost story.' Guest star Jessica Raine's CV states the title is Phantoms of the Hex but, other sources give the alternative. Dougray Scott also features. Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS is the intriguing sounding title of Sherlock writer Steve Thompson's script for this series, directed by Mat King. Ashley Walters plays one of a trio of brothers, an intergalactic salvage crew. Then, we have the much-anticipated episode The Crimson Horror (working title), another by one of the country's foremost horror authorities, Gatiss, directed by Saul Metzstein. Set in 'a strange Nineteenth Century village called Sweetville,' The Doctor investigates when people start going missing in a factory run by the mysterious Winifred Gillyflower (played by yer actual Dame Diana Rigg her very self). Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax return and Diana's daughter, the excellent Rachael Stirling also appears. If many fans are positively gagging for that one then the following episode, Neil Gaiman's The Last Cyberman is, possibly, even more anticipated. The episode is confirmed to feature redesigned Cybermen. Steven Moffat's report brief to Neil was to 'make them scary again.' Part of the story is set in an abandoned theme park called Hedgewick's World. Warwick Davis, Tamzin Outhwaite, Jason Watkins and Calvin Dean are among the cast. As yet untiled, the series finale, written by Moffat, is rumoured to feature the return of River Song and Dr Simeon from the Christmas special and lead into the popular long-running family SF drama's fiftieth anniversary episode later in the year.

And, speaking of Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary special, it will feature all eleven Doctors, a (not particularly convincing) press report has claimed. Though, it was soon denied by several of those supposedly taking part so, once again, let's just chalk that down to wishful thinking on someone's part. An article from the Birmingham Mail (no, me neither) subsequently picked up by several other alleged newspapers claimed that current Doctor Matt Smith will be joined by his seven surviving predecessors. Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and the crap one are all said to be appearing in the November one-off. Despite the fact that at least one of those named - the crap one - has specifically denied this claim. In addition, the report goes on to allege that the Steven Moffat written episode will use 'studio trickery' to include appearances from the first three Doctors - played by the late William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee. Sounds like a load of old risible made-up fanboy bollocky wank and effing toot to this here blogger. But, like the man himself once said, time will tell. It usually does. Mind you, if it tells and all eleven Doctors aren't in the November special, the Birmingham Mail is going to look like a right bunch of proper Charlies. The BBC is yet to confirm any official plans for the Doctor Who special, which will mark fifty years since the SF drama's first transmission on 23 November 1963. Showrunner Moffat recently confirmed that he has 'immense', 'considerable' plans for the anniversary but refused to reveal any specifics.
Doctor Who and ER actress yer actual Alex Kingston has landed a role on The CW's hit new drama Arrow starring Stephen Amell. Entertainment Weekly report that Kingston will play a recurring role on the series. Kingston will play Dinah Lance, the mother of Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and the ex-wife of Detective Quentin (Paul Blackthorne). Dinah will return to Starling City later this season to 'make amends' with the family she abandoned years ago. Kingston will be well known to American audiences for her wide range of roles. She played Elizabeth Corday in ER which is probably her best known role. Kingston's other notable roles on US TV have included guest turns on CSI, FlashForward, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Private Practice and NCIS. In the UK, of course, she played Blanche Mottershead in Upstairs Downstairs, Helen Maynard in Marchlands, Mrs Bennett in Lost in Austen and, most famously, The Doctor's old lady, River Song, in Doctor Who. Fellow Arrow regular yer actual John Barrowman his very self played Captain Jack Harkness on the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama series before being spun-off into his own series, Torchwood.

The third episode of the new series of Death In Paradise only went and pulled in a hugely impressive overnight audience figure of 6.7m on BBC1 on Tuesday. This was up two hundred thousand on the previous week's episode. Opposite that, on ITV, Poncing About Great Houses With Lord Snooty was watched by but 2.02m. The Lordy Snooty brown-tongued slavver-fest was also, very satisfyingly, beaten by Channel Four's The Undateables which was watched by 2.69m punters. Earlier the latest Great Bake Off Comic Relief special had an audience of 3.61m for BBC2 in the 8pm hour.
Yer actual David Tennant is to star in the title role of Richard II as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's new season. The actor is making a return to the RSC five years after his critically-acclaimed performance in Hamlet. It is the company's first season under artistic director Gregory Doran, who took over from Michael Boyd last year. Other highlights of the winter 2013 run include adaptations of Hilary Mantel's award-winning Thomas Cromwell novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. There will also be a world premiere of Ella Hickson's Wendy and Peter Pan, directed by Jonathan Munby. Richard II marks the start of a run of Shakespeare's history plays, each of which will be directed by Doran. The production will run in Stratford-Upon-Avon's Royal Shakespeare Theatre in October and November, transferring to the Barbican Theatre in London in December. A double-bill of Mantel's novels premieres in the Swan Theatre, with the two works playing in repertoire from December to March. Mantel received the Man Booker Prize for each novel - the first woman to win the award twice - and, earlier this month, the author told the BBC she was looking forward to Mike Poulton's stage adaptations. 'It's exciting particularly to have a stage version because I love the theatre. I suppose one of the things I regret is that I've never tried writing a stage play,' she said. 'The stage production is actually two plays, this is what we are hoping to do. One play of Wolf Hall and it will be followed the next evening by Bring Up The Bodies so you have got a mini-cycle there.' Mantel is currently writing the third instalment of the Cromwell trilogy. Commenting on the winter season plans, Doran said: 'Together with Catherine Mallyon, our new Executive Director, I want us to produce the best possible live experience of Shakespeare for audiences of all ages and backgrounds and provide the most stimulating environment possible for creative artists to practise their craft. I have always thought of the RSC as a Shakespeare "gymnasium." 2014 is Shakespeare's four hundred and fiftieth birthday and 2016 marks the quarter-centenary of his death. We will celebrate Shakespeare's life, from birth to grave, over an arc of three years, culminating in a major nationwide event in 2016.' Toni Racklin, Head of Theatre at the Barbican, said: 'I am thrilled to welcome the RSC to the Barbican for Gregory Doran's inaugural season with this highly anticipated production of Richard II with David Tennant. The play, which perfectly complements our year-round programme, will receive a seven-week run in the theatre over Christmas and is part of our ongoing commitment to present world-class theatre on our stages and beyond. We look forward to working closely with our colleagues at the RSC to bring Richard II to London.'

Another day, another row about the BBC it would seem. Although this one is a thick with insidious and mendaciously nasty and spiteful agenda as most, admittedly. This time the focus is on Fawlty Towers and, you guessed it, the 'Don't mention the war' episode, The Germans. The Daily Scum Mail (who, of course, love mentioning the war as often as humanly possible, despite the newspaper's oft-spoken of admiration for yer actual Herr Hitler during the 1930s) have a story headlined Censorship row as BBC cuts racist lines from Fawlty Towers, explaining that it's not Basil Fawlty's infamous goosestepping which has worried the censors, but a particular derogatory word used to describe black people by the show's cantankerous old duffer, Major Gowen. The BBC say, merely, that it has made 'some minor changes' to the show so it could be shown at the pre-watershed time of 7.30pm and, thus, not get into trouble from some shit-stirrer whinging to Ofcom. Seems, as usual, that the BBC can't do right for doing wrong in the eyes of louse of no importance at the Daily Scum Mail. Good, frankly. If the Daily Scum Mail disapproves of some aspect of your existence, you must be doing something right.
A storyline in Casualty warning about the dangers of smoking had to be dropped because of Wales' strict anti-smoking laws, according to the BBC. BBC Wales gave evidence in the Welsh assembly as it backed a law amendment to allow smoking to be filmed on set. Smoking in enclosed spaces was banned across the UK in 2007 but in England there is exemption which permits smoking for drama recordings. AMs will vote on the issue in the spring. The Welsh government wants to exempt film productions from the ban, in line with England. But anti-smoking groups are bitterly opposed and say it would 'prompt calls from other industries' to be exempt. Calls which, presumably, could be rejected so, what's the problem? Clare Hudson, head of BBC Cymru Wales Productions, said that there were plans for Casualty to include a 'cautionary moral tale' about a smoker causing a fire in a hotel. But AMs were told the legislation 'made filming the scenes too difficult to contemplate within the production budget and schedule, and a strong storyline which would have highlighted one of the hazards of smoking had to be changed to something else.' The Welsh film industry has warned it could lose major drama productions to England because it is illegal for actors to smoke on film sets in Wales. Keeping the ban could cost millions of pounds and damage the industry, Welsh assembly members were told. AMs took evidence on whether Wales should also have an opt-out to the smoking ban for film and television productions. However, the chair of an assembly committee said the industry's call for film sets to be exempt from the smoking ban was 'fundamentally morally repugnant.' Anti-smoking group Ash said the law was 'designed to protect workers' and should remain in force on public health grounds. Ash press and campaigns managers Felicity Waters said: 'This, we would argue, is a matter of convenience for the television industry - and health legislation should not be amended on commercial grounds. What industry is going to come next?' Her stance was backed by the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK, who said there was no safe level of smoke and that the ban on smoking indoors should be absolute. However, BBC Wales has warned it may have to film prestigious dramas in England unless the ban is relaxed. Hudson said: 'What we are concerned about is that if we want the sky to be the limit for production in Wales, we need to be perceived as, and actually be, a can-do place where all things are possible in drama. An independent company can go and make a show anywhere - with new tax breaks coming in there will be more American companies who make decisions utterly ruthlessly. We may have a situation where our drama slate within Wales is potentially damaged by people making decisions on the basis of "oh, they won't let us smoke, that's a key part of this drama, let's do it somewhere else."' She added that losing out on a drama production in Wales could potentially cost between five hundred thousand smackers and twelve million quid to the economy. Both sides disputed the cost to producers of using computer generated imagery in post-production to show smoking without actors having to smoke on set. Independent producers association Pact said a ten second close-up shot using CGI could cost up to eighty thousand notes, but Waters said Ash had obtained a quote from a special effects company of two hundred and fifty quid a day for CGI work. Although there may be occasions where smoking needs to be portrayed in period dramas, it could be done in Wales and 'certainly nowhere near the cost of going to Bristol to film scenes', she claimed. 'What we are concerned about is that the creative industries are saying that allowing smoking in Wales is going to create jobs,' she said. 'That is simply not true. There is no evidence at all that production companies have chosen England over Wales to film a shoot because we don't offer smoking.' Proposals from the Welsh government to exempt film sets have divided AMs. As a result, ministers have asked a joint sub-committee of the assembly's enterprise and health committees to hear arguments. The committee took evidence ten years to the day after the assembly voted in favour of a motion calling for a ban on smoking in public buildings. There will be a vote in the Senedd later this year on whether the exemption should be brought in. The Labour chair of the health committee, Mark Drakeford, said he was unconvinced by the argument that there should be an exemption in Wales because one existed in England. 'The argument you use, in comparing Wales with Bristol, for example, is a fundamentally morally repugnant argument,' he said. 'You are suggesting to us that something bad happens somewhere else, and because it's allowed to happen somewhere else, we should allow it to happen in Wales.'

Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads and David Walliams reportedly had 'a frosty stand-off' at the latest London Britain's Got Toilets auditions as the duo 'spent their time bickering and making jibes at each other.' As if anybody with half-a-brain in their head actually cares about utter trivial shite and nonsense like this?

NCIS hit a ratings high in the US, breaking the twenty five million viewers mark for the first time, according to new ratings data. The long-running CBS drama is currently the top-rated drama on American television and an episode broadcast last Tuesday evening cemented its place as it topped twenty five million viewers for the first time. Tuesday night's live broadcast of the episode made it the second most watched overnight episode ever but now that new data has been released the episode is now officially the highest rated in the series' ten year history. NCIS is a spin-off from JAG and has spawned its own spin-off series, the really not very good at all NCIS: Los Angeles (which is to it, what CSI: Miami was to CSI). According to reports, producers are currently developing a spin-off from Los Angeles with a back-door pilot due to air later this year.

Gillian Anderson has been made patron of the fund behind the UK's first statue of Charles Dickens, which is due to be unveiled in June. The one hundred and eighteen thousand quid monument will stand in Portsmouth where Dickens was born. It was due to be unveiled in 2012 to mark two hundred years since the writer's birth, but insufficient funding meant that it was put on hold. Anderson played Miss Havisham in the BBC's adaptation of Great Expectations and Lady Dedlock in Bleak House bot to great acclaim. She said: 'I was surprised that there wasn't a Dickens statue anywhere in Great Britain. One especially in Portsmouth, where he was born, would be a focal point to expand people's knowledge of and interest in Dickens and his writing.' An anonymous benefactor has since underwritten the last twenty five grand of funding needed for the statue, which was commissioned by the Dickens Fellowship. The rest of the money has been raised by the Charles Dickens Statue Fund. The statue is set to be unveiled in Portsmouth's Guildhall Square on 9 June 2013, the one hundred and thirty third anniversary of the author's death. It shows Dickens reading in a chair and is being made by Oxford sculptor Martin Jennings. In his will, the Victorian author requested that no statues or monuments of him should be built. However, Dickens has two known statues in his honour, in Philadelphia and in Sydney. There are not believed to be any in the UK. The Oliver Twist creator was born in Portsmouth on 7 February 1812 and spent the first three years of his life in the city before moving to London and then Kent. Number 1 Mile End Terrace, where he was born, has been a dedicated Dickens museum since 1904. Anderson was recently confirmed as the lead role in a rather fine looking BBC thriller series The Fall, which launches later this year.

Filming has begun on Ben Elton’s new sitcom The Wright Way at the BBC's studios in Salford. Which will almost certainly be shit, just like everything else Ben had done since Blackadder Goes Forth. The six-part sitcom – previously entitled Slings And Arrows – is about Gerald Wright, the fastidious manager of a council's health and safety department, played by David Haig. It is Elton’s first sitcom in eight years, since the family comedy Blessed in 2005, which starred Ardal O'Hanlon and Mel Giedroyc. And was dreadful. He since made the sketch shows Get A Grip with Alexa Chung for the BBC - which was complete toss - and Live From Planet Earth for Australia's Channel Nine, which was pulled after three episodes. Because it was rubbish. All of these shows were slated by critics. Because they were awful. However, Ben said of his new venture: 'All my happiest television memories concern BBC comedy and in particular BBC sitcoms. It's an honour and a privilege to get the chance to be a part of that tradition again and I'm as excited today as I was when The Young Ones was commissioned thirty years ago.' As well as Haig – who previously starred in Elton's also atrocious The Thin Blue Line – the cast includes Mina Anwar, Toby Longworth, Joanne Matthews, Beattie Edmonson, Brenda Edwards, and Luke Gell. The show will be filmed until March, for transmission on BBC1 later in the year. So, that'll be worth avoiding when it's broadcast, then.

The ITV drama executives responsible for Downton Abbey, Mr Selfridge and Appropriate Adult are to leave the broadcaster to set up their own production company. Laura Mackie, ITV's director of drama, and controller of drama commissioning Sally Haynes will leave at the end of June. The pair have overseen a drama renaissance at ITV, along with its director of television Peter Fincham, off the back of a thirty million quid boost to drama funding. ITV's head of drama serials Steve November will take over as acting director of drama until a permanent replacement is appointed. Mackie and Haynes will see through projects they have already commissioned. Mackie, who joined ITV from the BBC in 2006, said: 'Sally and I have loved our seven years at ITV and are incredibly proud of the dramas that we've commissioned with Peter. The range of our output from Downton Abbey and Mr Selfridge through to Scott & Bailey and Appropriate Adult are testimony to the ambition of the channel. We're sad to go but know that ITV drama will continue to go from strength to strength.' Significantly, they didn't mention Lord Snooty's 2012 mega-flop Titanic in their role of honour. Fincham said the pair had a 'tremendous run at ITV and their legacy is an incredibly strong drama slate for 2013 and beyond. We're going to miss them, but we wish them all the very best for their exciting new venture and look forward to working with them again.' The pair's recent commissions have included Scott & Bailey, Vera, DCI Banks and supernatural thriller Marchlands. Their other commissions have included Kingdom, Whitechapel and Lost in Austen.

BBC2 have postponed the second part of Funny Business, their documentary series about the comedy industry. The opening episode, screened last Wednesday and covering the world of corporate gigs and advertising, attracted a respectable audience of 1.8m viewers. But the second part, originally due to be shown this week, has been put off until 16 February. Entitled Deal Makers, the episode promise to 'reveal the back-room deals and negotiations of the stand-up comedy business.' A BBC spokesman said: 'We have moved the remainder of the series to a later Saturday night slot where the available audience will be more suited to the programme's subject matter.' Rather makes one wonder why the series wasn't placed in such a slot in the first place if it was such an obvious fit. Oh yes, of course, a hundred and eighty seven bastard hours of televised snooker. Stupid of me.

The broadcaster Stuart Hall has been charged with one offence of rape and fourteen offences of indecent assault, Lancashire Police have said. Hall, eighty three, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, was arrested on Tuesday after attending a police station by appointment. The rape is alleged to have taken place in 1976 committed against a twenty two-year-old woman. The indecent assaults are alleged to have taken place between 1967 and 1986 on ten girls aged between nine and sixteen. Hall has been bailed to appear before magistrates in Preston on 7 February. A Lancashire Police statement said: 'Following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service an eighty three-year-old man has this evening been charged with one offence of rape and fourteen offences of indecent assault.' Hall pleaded not guilty to three charges of indecent assault when he appeared at Preston Magistrates' Court earlier this month. The broadcaster is best known for his sports reporting on BBC Radio 5Live - as well as his work on the 1970s TV show It's A Knockout. Hall has been a familiar face and voice in British broadcasting for half-a-century and became an OBE in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to broadcasting and charity.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable and, currently, really struggling) Newcastle United have signed the defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa from French side Montpellier for an undisclosed fee, believed to be about six million smackers. The twenty three-year-old French international - a team-mate of Yohan Cabaye, Matheiu Debuchy and Hatem Ben Arfa - has agreed a five-and-a-half-year deal at St James' Park. Bordeaux forward Yoan Gouffran has revealed that he is also set to join the Magpies on Wednesday. He wrote on Twitter: 'Tomorrow I will be a new player of Newcastle and I am proud. Thanks to everyone.' Les Toon, who have already signed French right-back Debuchy in the January transfer window, are also closing on a deal to sign another defender Massadio Haidara from Nancy. If all three do sign for the black and whites, that will take the French (or, at least, French speaking) contingent at St James Park up to thirteen. Allez les noirs et blancs. Mais oui. Yanga-Mbiwa captained Montpellier to their first Ligue One title last season and has made more than two hundred appearances for the club and has three French caps. 'It is an honour to be able to come to Newcastle United and have the chance to play in the Premier League,' he said. Manager Alan Pardew added: 'We needed to strengthen the team and bringing in Mapou will give the whole squad a boost. He is precisely the sort of player we've been looking to bring to the club.' Montpellier club president, Louis Nicollin, meanwhile was in a reet snotty mood when he told French journalists on Monday that: 'If he's an ass, it's not my fault, but I think his manager has a lot to do with it. Newcastle really isn't a good choice. He'll get himself moved on next year, but it doesn't bother me. We agreed that he could leave if he found a club he liked. We're not going to cry. His head was no longer at Montpellier, but it's not a problem. He's not irreplaceable. The important thing is that we get some money in.' Ooo, get her! Gouffran has spent four-and-a-half seasons in Bordeaux and tweeted: 'I need a new challenge and therefore I hope that you respect my choice. I will follow all the results of the Girondins.' The player, who has scored twelve goals in thirty four league games this season, was left out of Bordeaux's squad for Wednesday's Coupe de France game against Moulins. Also at the club's Darsley Park trainging ground on Tuesday afternoon was the AS Nancy left back Massadio Haidara, who is expected to join Newcastle after after a bid of £2.5m was accepted by his club. Newcastle looked to have captured Marseille's Loic Remy last week after agreeing an eight million quid fee with the French club. However the striker instead opted to join Queens Park Strangers instead.

Bradford City manager Phil Parkinson doubts that a team from the fourth tier will ever reach a major cup final again. Parkinson saw his side stun Aston Villains 4-3 on aggregate after a 2-1 defeat at Villa Park on Tuesday night to reach next month's Capital One Cup final. He said: 'I think it'd take some doing for anyone to do this again. We had a really tough run. It wasn't just the Premier League teams, we had tough games with Notts County and Watford too.' Bradford went into the second-leg at Villa Park 3-1 up but Christian Benteke reduced the deficit for Villa. James Hanson headed Bradford level on the night before Andreas Weimann scored a late goal for Villa. Parkinson's side started their run to the final with an away tie at Notts County the week before the league campaign started in August. En route to the final, the League Two side have seen off the (other) Magpies, Watford, Burton Albion and Premier League sides Wigan, The Arse and, now, Villa. Their date at Wembley is the first time they have reached the final of a major competition since winning the FA Cup in 1911 and the first time a side from the fourth division has made the final of a major competition since Rochdale in the League Cup in 1962. Parkinson believes the money earned by the run to the final will secure the future of the club - as well as the place of his side in the history books. Parkinson added: 'These lads will be remembered in the history of Bradford City for years to come. There's a 1911 lounge at the club to celebrate the cup victory of that year. Well, in years to come, there will be a lounge named after this cup run and these players because of what they've achieved. To go to Wembley is going to keep the club going for quite a while, I imagine. For the city of Bradford, it's massive and I really feel that this can galvanise the area.' They will meet either Swansea or Moscow Chelski FC in the final on 24 February, with the two Premier League sides due to meet on Wednesday night. Parkinson says he would prefer a final against Swansea, who have a two-goal lead going into the second leg of the semi-final. 'I think a Swansea City against Bradford City final would be great for football,' he told BBC Sport. 'These competitions are normally always won by the big teams so it would be great for us to meet them. We'll go there as underdogs and we will definitely enjoy it.' City have fallen off the pace in their push for promotion from League Two and have failed to win in the league since Boxing Day. But Parkinson is confident that, despite the distraction of a cup final, his side has enough strength to win promotion. He said: 'The cup is probably bigger now because we're in the final but we're greedy and we want both. We've found it difficult to get going after some of our cup games and that is understandable. Having said that, I think we're good enough to get our league campaign back on track and look forward to our Wembley game.' The Bantams return to league action with a home match against Wycombe on Saturday.

Restructuring specialist Hilco has taken effective control of music and DVD retailer HMV. Hilco, which already owns HMV Canada, has bought the debt of HMV from the group's lenders, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland. The debt deal gives Hilco effective control of HMV, which fell into administration last week. HMV has been hit by competition from online rivals, supermarkets, and music and film downloads. HMV's estimated debt was about one hundred ans seventy six million knicker, but Hilco is believed to have paid much less than this to acquire it because the retail chain is in administration. Although Hilco does not yet officially own HMV, the debt deal gives it effective control of the music and DVD chain. An industry group of music labels and film studios, including Universal Music and Sony, were reported on Monday to favour a buyout of HMV by Hilco. Hilco bought out HMV Canada from parent HMV group in 2011 for two million smackers and this history means suppliers are likely to give a Hilco-owned HMV in the UK more favourable credit terms. In Canada, Hilco said the support of HMV's key suppliers had been of 'critical importance' to the business's performance. HMV has two hundred and twenty three UK stores in total, and a workforce of about four thousand. On Monday, the administrators for HMV said that the retail chain would start accepting gift vouchers in stores from Tuesday. Which enabled yer actual Keith Telly Topping to get shot of the thirty quid's worth of vouchers he had left over from Christmas. And, together with a twenty five per cent reduction in the price of all stock, that meant The Complete Columbo DVD box-set, which was retailing at over eighty quid just a few weeks ago, cost him, effectively, six quid. Tasty. Just one more thing. Deloitte, which had previously said that gift cards could not be redeemed in stores, said it had made the change after 'assessing HMV's financial position.' And, realising just how extraordinarily pissed off it was making those with unspent vouchers. Like me.

And, so we come to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which, as a welcome replacement for the snow which is covering most of the UK at the moment, speaks of other weather concerns. Here's Bob Fish, Griff Fender, Rita Ray, Mad Den Hegarty and .. some other people. Ladies and gentlemen, let's play Darts.