Thursday, January 03, 2013

Live Up To Your Name, Or Else You Die In Shame

Yer actual Frank Skinner has revealed that he has been trying to get himself a cameo role in Doctor Who. The comic - who claims to be 'a a big fan' of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama (although, yer actual Keith Telly Topping doesn't recall Frank attending too many conventions during the 1980s and 90s when 'big fans' of the show were in, somewhat, short supply!) - said that he would be willing to take any part, no matter how small. 'I asked my manager to get me a part in Doctor Who. I didn't need a big part - a monster or a lunar rock - but I would love to be able to tell my grandchildren I was in it,' he told The Graham Norton Show. 'My manager said, "I'm sure it won't be a problem." He got in touch and got an e-mail back that said, "We are really happy that it is something Frank would like to do..." Somehow the end of the e-mail seemed to have been cut off.' Former Doctor Who actress Billie Piper is also on this week's Graham Norton Show and Skinner confessed that he had accidentally called her by her character name, Rose, when he met her backstage before the show.

Meanwhile, John Barrowman his very self has said that he would be 'disappointed' if Captain Jack Harkness doesn't return to Doctor Who for the show's fiftieth anniversary. The Torchwood actor has spent the last two years dropping constant hints - some more subtle than others - about his absolute desperation to return to Doctor Who, despite the fact that he is currently playing Malcolm Merlyn on US series Arrow. Yer man Barrowman has now suggested that he is 'still hoping' to receive a call from The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat, according to the Los Angeles Times. 'I haven't been asked. I would love to if they ask me,' he stressed. He went on to say: '[Arrow producer] Andrew Kreisberg has already said if they want me in the fiftieth anniversary, he will give me the time off to do it. But it's not up to me.' Captain Jack first appeared in the series one two-part story The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, which was written by Moffat.

The Snowmen has given BBC America record ratings, with the Christmas Day special being watched by 1.434 million people either live or within seven days. This was a rise of fifty four per cent on the BBC America ratings for last year's Christmas episode, making it the channel's second most-popular programme, beaten only by Asylum of the Daleks, which garnered 1.555 million viewers in September. Perry Simon, BBC America's general manager, said: 'It feels exactly right to be ending the year on a ratings high with Doctor Who. The show has really delivered for us this year on every level. Cinematic scale, superb acting, cracking storylines, and a growing band of dedicated fans – we can't wait for the next series in spring 2013.'

Nearly two years after Frozen Planet, Sir David Attenborough turned to warmer climes for his latest wildlife epic Africa, watched by six and a half million punters on BBC1 on Wednesday night. The first of a six-part series, which began in the Kalahari, Africa, had a twenty five per cent share of the audience between 9pm and 10pm. It was marginally down on the 6.8 million viewers who tuned into the first episode of Frozen Planet in October 2011 but was thirty five per cent up on the BBC1 slot average over the last three months. Africa was up against the return of One Born Every Minute on Channel Four, the maternity ward series beginning its fourth thirteen-part run with three million viewers. It, too, was up on its slot average, by nearly nineteen per cent. DCI John Barnaby returned to ITV for a new three-part run of Midsomer Murders. Wednesday's episode had 5.5 million viewers between 8pm and 10pm, not enough to topple Attenborough's return. Gok Wan returned to Channel Four with Gok's Style Secrets, beginning a six-part run with two million viewers between 8pm and 9pm. It was beaten by BBC2's Nature's Weirdest Events, the second of the three-part Chris Packham show which had 2.9 million viewers including one hundred and sixty eight thousand on the BBC HD channel. It was followed by the second of another three-part BBC2 series, Queen Victoria's Children, which had 1.9 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm, including sixty five thousand on HD. Later, the Channel Four documentary Secrets of a Good Marriage with Sharon Horgan was watched by 1.4 million viewers between 10pm and 11.05pm. Horgan's documentary lost out to a repeat of a Christmas edition of BBC2's Mock The Week, which had 1.6 million viewers between 10pm and 11pm. Coronation Street was the most watched programme of the day, averaging 9.5 million viewers and a thirty nine per cent share from 7.30pm.
Jim Davidson is one of the two latest men to have been nicked-nicked by The Law and then bailed on suspicion of naughty sexual offences. Rumours that he was also arrested for 'crimes against comedy' cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied. Officers from Operation Yewtree, set up in the wake of the disgraced and disgraceful Jimmy Savile scandal, arrested Davidson in West London on Wednesday. Davidson's solicitor said that his client - who has been bailed to return in March pending further inquiries - 'vigorously denies' the alleged crimes. A fifty three-year-old man was also arrested in Hampshire and subsequently bailed although whether this was directly connected to Davidson's arrest or not, the police did not say. Scotland Yard said that the arrests were not connected to the allegations made against ex-TV presenter and DJ Savile, who died in 2011 aged eighty four. In a statement, Davidson's solicitor, Henri Brandman, claimed that two women have made allegations against Davidson dating back approximately twenty five years. 'The complainants were then in their mid-twenties. Jim vigorously denies the allegations. He answered police questions as fully as he was able after this passage of time. He has not been charged with any offence. Neither he nor I will be making any further comment.' Davidson, fifty nine, presented the long-running BBC1 shows The Generation Game and Big Break. His career started in the 1970s and, in 1976 he won TV talent show New Faces. He then hosted his own show The Jim Davidson Show, and has had continued - though truly baffling - success as stand-up comic with an act based almost entirely on use of racist and sexist stereotypes. Oh, it was hilarious, dear blog reader. That 'Chalkie White' character he used to do, flippin' thigh-slappin' so it was. Davidson has been widely reported to have been a planned housemate in the Channel Five show Celebrity Big Brother which begins on Thursday night and was, reportedly, arrested at Heathrow Airport. In October Davison, branded the Savile investigation 'a witch hunt', after threatening to 'reveal' the names of paedophiles in showbusiness himself. On his blog he wrote: 'The Savile witch hunt is going a bit silly now. We all are starting to speculate and accuse even in jest. So no, I don't know who's next.' Well, that would be you, it would seem, old chap. 'Everyone has had the nod. Everyone is an expert. Just pick someone you don't like and say it's them. As odd as he was, Savile can't defend himself. The bloke's dead for God's sake. Let's move on.' In Davidson's first autobiography The Full Monty (1993), he talked frankly - and in a rather dismissive manner - about his violent and abusive behaviour towards his first wife: 'We’re like a couple of boxers. On the first occasion, I poked her in the eye by accident. I actually went for the mouth. Thank heaven I missed, I'd have fallen in. I just took a playful punch. Unfortunately I caught her completely wrong. The second time I gave her a shiner. I threw a bunch of keys which whacked her in the eye. Just for a giggle she kept blackening it up to make it look worse.' Davidson was, nevertheless, made an OBE in 2001 for his 'services to charity.' In March 2004, Davidson, a self-professed - and mouthy - Tory, publicly left the UK for the tax-free haven of Dubai 'in protest' at the Labour government. At the time, he declared that: 'I may as well go to Dubai and be an ethnic minority there than wait five years till I become one here.' In 2007 he was thrown off the Channel Four reality show Hell's Kitchen after making vile homophobic comments about fellow contestant (and now Big Brother presenter) Brian Dowling. A BBC News cameraman has filmed footage of people, believed to be detectives, leaving Davidson's house in Stockbridge, Hampshire, with boxes and bags. It's to be hoped they're not looking for any new jokes in there because they'll have a bugger of a job trying to find any. Operation Yewtree is the Met's investigation into allegations, some dating back decades, that have arisen since Savile was accused of abuse. The operation has three strands. One is looking specifically at the actions of Savile and the second strand concerns allegations against 'Savile and others.' The third strand, under which the two men were arrested on Wednesday, relates to alleged complaints against other people unconnected to the Savile investigations. These men are the ninth and tenth to be questioned as part of the police operation. Of these, nine have been under arrest. High-profile names arrested in connection with the investigation are self-styled PR consultant Max Clifford, alleged comedian Freddie Starr, DJ and broadcaster Dave Lee Travis, former TV producer Wilfred De'Ath and former Radio 1 producer Ted Beston, all of whom deny any wrongdoing whatsoever. Former pop star and convicted paedophile Gary Glitter, who was also arrested, has not yet made a statement regarding his claims of guilt or innocence. Another unnamed man in his eighties was also questioned by police under caution, though not arrested, or charged.

And, speaking of dreadful unfunny comedy, David Walliams wanted to male another series of Come Fly With Me – but Matt Lucas vetoed the idea. For which, let us all be thankful.

The former footballer Neil Ruddock is understood to have been lined-up as the last-minute replacement on Celebrity Big Brother for Davidson, whom Channel Five appear to have new dropped like hot toast. The reality show, which launches on Thursday night when this year's intake of desperate z-list celebrities, has-beens and never-weres enter the Big Brother house, was 'thrown into disarray' when Davidson was arrested at midday on Wednesday. It is understood that Davidson was arrested at Heathrow Airport as he flew in to the UK to take part in the show. The Celebrity Big Brother production team are understood to have 'scrambled' to find a replacement, although the hunt was initially delayed for several hours on Wednesday because of uncertainty over whether Davidson could, or should, still participate if he was not charged. Davidson's solicitor said after his client was bailed without charge late on Wednesday that he 'vigorously denies' the allegations made against him by two women. 'It was not cut and dried what the right course of action was,' one alleged 'source' with - allegedly - 'knowledge of the situation' is quoted as - allegedly - saying by the Gruniad Morning Star. Programme executives are understood to have settled on yer man Ruddock, who during his colourful footballing career played for clubs including Southampton, Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws, Stottingtot Hotshot and West Hamsters (and, very briefly, England) as a defender was given the nickname Razor thanks to his bad-boy antics both on and off the pitch. He was always pretty funny, though. certainly funnier than Jim Davidson. The forty four-year-old has reality TV form having appeared in ITV's I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) in 2004, which he used to record a charity single called 'Jungle Rock' with contestants including Lord Brocket. He has also appeared in BBC1's Celebrity Total Wipeout in 2011. Lindsay Lohan's appearance in London has prompted speculation that she might make an appearance on Celebrity Big Brother. The show's makers have courted Lohan for previous series, although if she did appear it would be briefly as she is due in court in the US on 15 January for breaching her probation and may well end up doing a stretch in pokey as a consequence. Programme makers appear to have tapped a number of potential candidates in the last-minute hunt for a replacement for Davidson. Peter Fury, the trainer and uncle of boxer Tyson Fury, tweeted on Wednesday that the twenty four-year-old 'could be going in [the] Big Brother show!' In a string of tweets Peter Fury admitted he was 'not a fan of the show' but that 'I guess for the Biusness[sic] side of things he has to do what's in his benefit.' Fury is booked to fight in New York on 17 March. Alleged celebrities that have been widely tipped to appear in this year's CBB include The Hills stars Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, ex-EastEnders actress Gillian Taylforth and The X Factor contestant Rylan Clark. Which probably gives you an idea, dear blog reader, just who vague Channel Five's definition of what is 'a celebrity' and who isn't is becoming.

A suspected arson attack on the Bath transmitter site has affected television and radio broadcasts to about eighty thousand homes. The fire in three sheds at the site in Bathampton caused a power cut. All Freeview television channels, BBC Radio Bristol's 104.6 FM, national analogue, digital radio channels and mobile networks have been affected. Avon and Somerset Police believe the fire, which was reported at 05:50 on Wednesday, was started deliberately. Engineers from Arqiva, which owns the transmitter, have switched off the whole power supply to the transmitter to assess the damage to the structure. A spokesman from Arqiva said: 'Due to fire the electricity supply has been isolated meaning that services have been temporarily switched off to enable safety work to take place. We are working to get services back to normal once the fire and police authorities have finished their initial investigation.' Last April, a transmitter on Dundry Lane in Bristol was also attacked, disrupting radio broadcasts. The firm has not said how long it will take before services are resumed.
Five police officers and a civilian worker involved in the Metropolitan police's phone-hacking investigation have faced misconduct allegations, Scotland Yard has confirmed. The group included three detective constables and a civilian worker who have resigned from or left the Operation Weeting investigation following disciplinary action. Two of the detective constables had allegations of 'other neglect or failure of duty' upheld against them and are no longer working on Operation Weeting, the Met said. A further detective constable is suspended over alleged leaks to journalists, and a civilian worker left Operation Weeting following a final written warning in June last year over 'discreditable conduct.' Scotland Yard revealed the misconduct allegations in response to a Freedom of Information request by the Sun. The force said that a total of nine employees stationed on Operation Weeting and the parallel Operation Elveden probe into alleged naughty and illegal payments to public officials had been accused of misconduct at some point in their employment at the force. One Operation Elveden officer is under investigation over failure of duty allegations relating to a previous police inquiry. Police said that a former Operation Weeting detective also received 'management action' in July last year over mistakes made in a previous investigation. Scotland Yard launched Operation Weeting two years ago this month in response to allegations of phone-hacking at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World. A total of twenty six suspects, mainly journalists, have been arrested and bailed under the investigation and several have been charged with a variety of offences. The Operation Weeting probe prompted the spin-off inquiries Operation Elveden and Operation Tuleta, into computer hacking and other breaches of privacy not covered by the other two teams. A spokesman for the Met police said: 'Many of the misconduct matters involving staff from Operations Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta took place prior to the officers being posted to these operations. The MPS takes all matters of misconduct and professional behaviour seriously. It should, however, be noted that the majority of these cases were at the less serious end of the scale and that the sanction of "Management Action" is not a formal misconduct outcome and is considered to be part of the normal managerial responsibility of managers in the police service.'

Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera has acquired Current TV, the cable television network founded by former US Vice President Al Gore. He and co-founder, Joel Hyatt, announced the sale in a statement, without giving any financial details. Launched in the US in 2005, Current TV is at present available in about sixty million US homes. The purchase could give Al Jazeera broader reach in the US, something it has been struggling to achieve. 'Current Media was built based on a few key goals: To give voice to those who are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the stories that no one else is telling,' Gore and Hyatt said in the statement. 'Al Jazeera, like Current, believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world around us.' Al Jazeera, which is funded by the government of Qatar, first gained popularity after it aired videos of Osama bin Laden following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The English language version of the channel can be viewed online in the US, and on TV in select cities. Al Jazeera said in a statement on Wednesday that it plans to launch its own US-based news channel which will be available on Current TV's distribution network this year. The news channel will be head-quartered in New York City and will provide both domestic and international news for American audiences, the broadcaster said. Al Jazeera said its English language channel has proved popular in the US with forty per cent of all online viewing coming from there. However, Al Jazeera's attempt to gain more viewership in the US suffered an early setback after Time Warner Cable said it would stop carrying Current TV following the ownership change. Time Warner, the second biggest cable company in the US, said it had already been looking to remove channels with low ratings, and this acquisition gave it the ability to cancel its contract.

HBO is being sued by a woman who claims that she was unfairly dismissed from horseracing drama Luck. The show, which starred Dustin Hoffman, was cancelled after several animals died on set. Barbara Casey, ex-director of the American Humane Association film and production unit, says producers 'engaged in ongoing, systematic and unlawful animal abuse.' An HBO statement said precautions were taken 'to ensure that our horses were treated humanely.' Casey's lawsuit also accuses the American Humane Association of 'bending to pressure' from the TV network 'to allow the use of unsuitable horses.' She said her employment was 'wrongfully terminated' after she threatened to report animal mistreatment. HBO added in its statement to The Hollywood Reporter: 'Barbara Casey was not an employee of HBO, and any questions regarding her employment should be directed to the AHA.' The drama, in which Hoffman starred as a crime kingpin scheming to gain control of a racecourse, was cancelled last March during filming on its second season. Several horses were injured and put down, and a statement at the time said it was 'with heartbreak that HBO have decided to cease all future production.' It was shown in the UK on Sky Atlantic. However, Casey claims that the network engaged in efforts to 'conceal and cover-up' animal safety violations while filming. She said HBO 'misidentified horses so that the humane officers and/or animal safety representatives could not track their medical histories, experience and/or suitability for use.' Casey, who held her position with the AHA for thirteen years, claimed that officers witnessed horses being 'drugged to perform' and 'underweight and sick horses unsuited for work [being] routinely used.' AHA said in a statement to movie website Deadline that it 'is unable to comment on this pending legal matter.'

Feathers have been somewhat ruffled at the BBC after one of the Harris hawks it hired to protect staff from pesky pigeons attacked one outside the corporation's new Broadcasting House in London. The Daily Torygraph reports that one of the three birds of prey 'made a kill' on a pigeon late last year. The BBC keeps three Harris hawks – named Scout, Travis and Rio apparently – to 'enforce a no-fly zone' around Broadcasting House and 'protect staff from nuisance birds.' No word yet on whether the hawk will offer its resignation.
A man who threw a plastic bottle on to the track at the start of the men's Olympic one hundred metres final shouted that he wanted defending champion, world record holder and total legend Usain Bolt to lose, a court has heard. And, for that alone, he should probably get twenty years in solitary. Ashley Gill-Webb, of South Milford, North Yorkshire, was arrested at the Olympic Stadium on 5 August. Dutch judo champion Edith Bosch said that she had heard him shout 'Bolt, I want you to lose.' Gill-Webb denies two public order offences. And one unspoken charge on 'being an complete and total arsehole.' Probably. After the plastic beer bottle was thrown, Bosch said that she had confronted Gill-Webb saying 'Dude, are you crazy?' Only, you know, with more of a Dutch accent than that. In a statement read to Stratford Magistrates' Court she said she had been 'flabbergasted' because it was 'disrespectful.' Security personnel detained Gill-Webb who had pushed his way to the front of an exclusive seating area which he did not have a ticket for before he could get seriously chinned by the Dutch judo squad. Which, in and of itself would've probably been a sight to rival much at this year's Olympics. Bolt, of course, went on to win the race - spectacularly - in 9.63 seconds. Gill-Webb has denied using threatening words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress. He has also denied doing the same within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress. Prosecutor Neil King told the court it was accepted that Gill-Webb was 'unwell at the time' but added that it was 'a matter of luck' that there had not been a more serious outcome for the competitors. He said: 'This bottle landed extremely close to the athletes. The shouting and jostling had already alarmed and disrupted those around him but throwing the bottle was a step even further.' Once detained, Gill-Webb's behaviour was described as 'somewhat unusual.' Detective Constable Kevin Guest, from the Metropolitan Police, told the court that Gill-Webb had given some 'no comment' answers.' The defendant also gave a prepared statement signed 'Alan Cumming', suggesting to police that he was the Scottish actor. Even though he, clearly, wasn't. Guest said that officers had not found a ticket on the suspect and had no knowledge of how he had managed to blag his way into such a high profile event. He added that Gill-Webb's DNA had later been found on the bottle and CCTV footage had clearly showed Gill-Webb throwing it. Witnesses described hearing him shout at the finalists, including Bolt, fellow Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake and US sprinter (and twice-convicted drug cheat) Justin Gatlin. Student Farzin Mirshahi said she had heard Gill-Webb yell: 'Believe in Blake, no Usain.' Security guard Robert Spears said he had 'feared' Gill-Webb was going to 'disrupt the games.' He and another member of staff escorted Gill-Webb from the stadium. He said: 'At no point did he ever try to explain himself or deny what I had seen, but just demanded to know who had won the race,' Spears said. The trial continues.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day we head straight of side six of Sandinista!, one of the most wilfully obscure (and, therefore, fascinating) slices of vinyl ever put out by a major rock group and one that, ironically, sounds better and better with each passing year. The Clash weren't just ahead of the game, the were writing the rules as they went along. Tell 'em all about it, Mikey.
And, after that, where the hell else is there to go but, you know, outer-space in dub-style? Hardwired logic, machine language. Who does hold the key that winds up Big Ben, Joseph?

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