Monday, January 07, 2013

Week Three: The Good, The Bad & The Contemptible

The stinking, rancid, odious, lowest-common-denominator puss that is ITV's latest banal attempt at lowering the collective intellect of our nation, Splash!, gained a bafflingly above-average - and thoroughly undeserved - 5.49m punters for its first episode on Saturday evening. This blogger promptly resigned from the human race in protest, although I don't think it did much good. Sandwiched between FA Cup Live coverage of Big Fat Sam's Hamsters draw with The Scum (4.78m) and the latest episode of odious, risible, loutish horrorshow (and drag) Take Me Out (4.22m), Splash! maintained the majority of its audience throughout its ninety tedious, terminally long minutes. Painful, so it was. Former Cold Feet, The Fast Show and Coronation Street actor John Thomson, who claimed that he had turned down an offer to appear on the show, described it as 'Yet another all-time low for television.' On BBC1, a combination of Britain's Brightest (4.88m) and The National Lottery: In It To Win It (5.11m) were up against the diving reality show. Britain's Brightest, despite a low starting point, actually grew its audience by nearly two million viewers across the hour, suggesting that - with a better lead-in - the Clare Balding vehicle might have the upper hand in the coming weeks. Later Casualty was watched by 5.17m punters and a Mrs Brown's Boys repeat by 4.10m. On BBC2, the episode of Dad's Army that everybody remembers (The Deadly Attachment) was seen by 2.04m, followed by The Many Faces Of Stanley Baxter (1.60m) and Qi XL (1.70m). On Channel Five, Celebrity Big Brother had an audience of 1.89m crushed victims of society, having lost almost exactly half of its audience in the two days since its series opener. BBC1 topped primetime with a twenty per cent share of the audience over ITV's nineteen per cent.

Speaking of Celebrity Big Brother, Jim Davidson has 'expressed his regret' at missing out on taking part. Davidson was, as you may have read, arrested by police just hours before he was due to enter the Big Brother house in relation to alleged historic sexual offences. Allegations which, it is important to note, he strongly denies. Davidson wrote on his blog: 'Shame I missed it - maybe next time. It looks a fun show.' One is sure, of course, that if Davidson is so desperately mad-keen to get locked up twenty four/seven for the entertainment of millions, that something could probably be arranged.

New ITV drama Mr Selfridge opened its doors with more than six million viewers in the Downton Abbey slot on Sunday, while Twatting About On Ice returned with more than seven million tragic victims of everything that is wrong with society. The department store drama, starring Jeremy Piven, had an average of 6.86 million viewers, a 28.6 per cent share of the audience, between 9pm and 10.30pm. In a strong night for ITV, it dovetailed with the return of Twatting About On Ice for its eighth series. The z-list celebrity ice dance show had 7.77 million viewers for its main programme between 6.15pm and 7.45pm, and 6.96 million for its results between 8.30pm and 9pm. Mr Selfridge was only marginally down on the slot average over the last three months, boosted by Downton Abbey. However, Twatting About On Ice's launch audience was the lowest in the show's history, fewer than the previous low of 8.4 million in 2009. The show's highest launch audience was also its first, 9.5 million viewers in 2006. With All Star Family Fortunes returning with 6.40 million viewers between 7.45pm and 8.30pm, it gave ITV a clean sweep over BBC1 on Sunday night for the first time in several months. The second episode of BBC1's crime drama Ripper Street, up against Mr Selfridge, had 5.37 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm. Ripper Street launched with 6.1 million the previous Sunday. Antiques Roadshow lost out to All Star Family Fortunes, with 6.08 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm, while Countryfile, BBC1's biggest show of the night, had 6.13 million viewers between 7pm and 8pm. Earlier, the last series of Time Team, axed by Channel Four last year, began with 1.1 million viewers between 5.25pm and 6.25pm.

Anyway, dear blog reader, not fishing for sympathy nor nothing, but it's been an unspeakably shite few days for this blogger of late, what with a nasty dose of the dreaded lurgi and all that. A situation which was not helped by having to cope with visitors for two days, a death in the family (no, not that one, thankfully) and - just to cap a perfect few days - a four hour power cut on Saturday which pissed yer actual Keith Telly Topping off no end since, virtually everything he wanted to do during that four hours (including updating From The North) depended on some form of electronic gadgetry or other. Altogether now, the path of my life ...
As previously mentioned on numerous occasions, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite TV reviewer - besides himself - is the Metro's Keith Watson. And, this week, Watto turned his eye towards the best TV show in the world (that doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title), Borgen: 'Even though it figured strongly in the Best Of 2012 lists and seduces all who see it, Borgen (BBC4) is still a hard sell to the uninitiated. Can a drama about the machinations of Danish coalition politics really be as captivating as it's cracked up to be? I tried converting my local floating voters over a Christmas sherry but you could tell by the look in their eyes they thought I'd lost the plot. Thank heavens I can now just stick them down in front of the TV, because Borgen is back and as riveting as ever. There was a bit of a worry as the second series opened and the scene had shifted away from the government corridors and cosy interiors that are Borgen's natural habitat. The action kicked off in Afghanistan and the suspicion lurked that maybe Borgen and its heroine, PM Birgitte Nyborg, had bitten off more than they could chew. But in an object lesson of concise story-telling, the drama revealed more to me about the conflicting pressures on politicians and soldiers caught up in an unwinnable war than a decade of news reports have managed to do. Pulled this way and that by devious rivals and her own conscience, Nyborg could see her ideals swallowed up by bitter pragmatism. In this age of cynical careerism it takes some doing to make you feel sorry for a politician but Borgen got darn close. Even more unfeasibly, the second part of the opening double bill managed to carve high drama out of the appointment of an EU commissioner. "No one wants to read about the EU – it's too complicated and unsexy," said the red-top editor where journalist Katrine is plying her trade. He could have been talking about Borgen and coalition politics. But on this evidence they could even turn a debate about proportional representation into something sensually stimulating.'

And, on that bombshell, here's your next batch of Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 12 January
Yer man Stephen Fry hosts another round of the popular comedy panel quiz Qi XL - 9:00 BBC2 - and finds out how much Julia Zemiro, Tim Vine, Rob Brydon and regular panellist Alan Davies know about questions on the theme of 'jolly', awarding - as usual - points for the most interesting answers.

You have to hand it to a television drama which can turn a lengthy political debate involving a clampdown on public sector early retirement into a slick, watchable thriller. Tonight see's the third and fourth episodes of Borgen's second series - 9:00 BBC4. It sounds, on paper, as dry as unbuttered toast, particularly when the nub of the argument involves the funding of welfare reforms. But, as usual, clever Borgen makes sure that this is just a means to an end as Birgitte (the wonderful Sidse Babett Knudsen) finds herself challenged both at work and at home. Her ex-husband Phillip (Mikael Birkkjær) confronts her with the 'we need to talk' moment that Birgitte has clearly been dreading. Birgitte's coalition government prepares to present a new welfare reform package, but there is unrest in the Labour Party when leader Bjorn Marrot comes under personal attack in the media and the Statsminister senses a rebellion brewing. Meanwhile, the pressure grows on the home front when Philip announces that he has a new girlfriend. In the following episode, Troels Hoxenhaven is elected as the new chairman of the Labour Party, and soon asserts himself after a Danish ship is hijacked by pirates off the Somali coast. Birgitte is getting desperate from loneliness and makes a mistake which threatens her career.

If you have something of a weakness for hokey medieval sagas, settle down for a treat. World Without End - 9:00 Channel Four - follows in the muddy footsteps of Channel Four's previous The Pillars of the Earth. Adapted from of Ken Follett's novels, it's a Canadian-German co-production, scripted by an American and directed in Hungary by a Scotsman. With that parentage, it could be forgiven for being a bit of a pudding, but - perhaps surprisingly - it isn't. The setting is England in 1327 after Edward II has been somewhat messily killed (you know, that business with the poker) on the orders of his wife Isabella. Their young son is installed on the throne, while Sir Thomas Langley, a knight involved in the plot, finds sanctuary in the village of Kingsbridge. Historical drama based on Follett's best-selling sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, starring Cynthia Nixon, Peter Firth and Ben Chaplin.

Sunday 13 January
Tony Robinson and the team investigate an Iron Age hill fort in Cardiff which dominates a city housing estate, and explore whether the site could be the long-lost ancient capital of South Wales in Time Team - 5:25. With five acres of ground and half a mile of ramparts and ditches to examine, time is not on their side. Fortunately local residents are keen to help, and finds such as jewellery and fine drinking vessels show that Iron Age domestic life in the area was rich and colourful. But finding any houses is harder than anyone imagined and provokes fierce arguments amongst the Team as time ticks away. But the hours of careful scraping and one spectacular find do pay off, revealing that Cardiff's hill fort is as old and as important as anyone could have hoped and help paint a vivid picture of domestic life around 800BC.

Blandings - 6:30 BBC1 - is a period comedy based on the stories by PG Wodehouse, in which Timothy Spall stars as the amiable but befuddled Lord Emsworth - known to his friends as Clarence - who struggles to keep his dysfunctional family in order, with Jennifer Saunders as his indomitable sister Connie. In this opening episode, Clarence tries to win The Fattest Pig contest. The problem is, his porker isn't eating, and the last thing he needs is for his fiendish rival Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe to take the prize. Meanwhile, Connie demands he put a stop to his niece Angela's love affair with an ex-cowboy. Mark Williams and Robert Bathurst co-star.
H Division and the City of London forces work together when a sudden cholera outbreak causes them to suspect deliberate contamination in both boroughs in Ripper Street - 9:00 BBC1. Inspector Sidney Ressler (The Office's Patrick Baladi) is the officer charged with joining Reid's team as they scour Whitechapel for clues and connections, but as the laboratory fills with bodies, no evidence is seemingly to be found. Meanwhile, Emily seeks a patron for her charity efforts, only to face resistance wherever she turns. Crime drama, also starring Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn, Adam Rothenberg and Amanda Hale.

In 1942, King George VI awarded the George Cross to the entire island of Malta in recognition of the heroism of its people while under siege from German forces. Historian James Holland analyses the Second World War battle for the strategically important Mediterranean island, which was under bombardment by Axis forces for more than two years in The Battle For Malta - 8:00 BBC2. Thus giving rise to the age-old question 'how do you make a Maltese cross?' Simple: 'Stamp on his foot.' Next ... Between 1940 and 1942 more bombs fell on Malta than on Britain during the Blitz as the islanders were forced to endure a sustained attack from the air and came desperately close to starvation. In this documentary, Holland argues that the real importance of Malta's position was its offensive role, which has been largely undervalued by those telling the story and that it held the key to the entire war in the Mediterranean and North Africa. In trying to force the Maltese to surrender, the Germans raided the island constantly. But, even in the face of starvation, the local population stood firm.

Monday 14 January
Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games present from their base at the Aigas Field Centre in the Highlands as cameras follow beavers, red squirrels, pine martens and a host of other animals to see how they cope with this challenging season in Winterwatch - 8:30 BBC2. There is footage from a seal colony in Norfolk showing pups being born and males battling it out on the beaches, and the team reveals the dark side of one of the nation's favourite birds - the little robin.

With Oxford's clairvoyance community in turmoil following the deaths of the research fellows, the direction of Lewis's investigation shifts when the two chief suspects provide seemingly unshakeable alibis in Lewis - 9:00 ITV. A senior colleague's attitude doesn't help matters - but then Hathaway makes a suggestion which helps pave the way to a solution.

Agnes needs someone to look after Granddad so she can treat herself to a much-needed holiday - but with private nursing homes being so expensive, it seems her only option is to convince the health visitor he has lost his marbles in Mrs Brown's Boys - 9:30 BBC1. Rory and Dino move in for a couple of weeks, and the matriarch is soon spitting feathers when the latter begins taking over the house, and her late husband gets in touch from beyond the grave with some very ominous news. Hit comedy, starring Brendan O'Carroll.

Tuesday 15 January
A young nun is found dead in a smoke-filled bedroom in what seems like a terrible accident caused by a lit cigarette in the latest episode of Death In Paradise - 9:00 BBC1. But when Richard (the terrific Ben Miller) deduces it must have been murder, there are no shortage of suspects, including other nuns, a priest and the mother superior - as well as an unscrupulous PR man promoting a holy spring in the convent grounds. The question is, with the room locked from the inside, how could anyone have committed such a dastardly and wicked crime in the first place? Kenneth Cranham, Patrick Baladi and Caroline Langrishe guest star.
In Locomotion: Dan Snow's History of Railways - 9:00 BBC4 - the historian and broadcaster charts the development of the UK's rail network, from its beginnings as a primitive system of track-ways for coal carts in the early Eighteenth Century up to the present day. Rapid industrial growth during the Nineteenth Century, coupled with the prospect of vast profits, drove inventors and entrepreneurs to develop steam locomotives, metal tracks and an array of daring tunnels, cuttings and bridges that created a nationwide system of railways in just thirty years. George Stephenson's Liverpool and Manchester Railway became the model for future inter-city travel and his fast, reliable locomotive the Rocket began a quest for speed that has defined the modern world.

It's a good night for drama. Also kicking-off tonight it Utopia - 9:00 Channel Four. Five members of an online forum agree to meet after gaining possession of the original manuscript for a fabled graphic novel, The Utopia Experiments. Unbeknown to them, a shadowy organisation known as The Network is in pursuit of the comic book and its agents are prepared to kill to secure the prize. Thriller, starring Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Alexandra Roach, Wilson Adeel Akhtar, Paul Higgins, James Fox and Stephen Rea.

Wednesday 16 January
Eddie Mair narrates Funny Business - 9:00 BBC2 - a documentary about how comedians can generate vast sums of money from the corporate world - from making after-dinner speeches to appearing in TV commercials. The first episode reveals what happened when a British stand-up decided to create a company trading on laughs, while other comics explain why they think taking part in adverts compromises their creativity and integrity. Contributors include John Cleese, Rhod Gilbert, Jo Brand, Arthur Smith, Mark Thomas, Clive Anderson and Barry Cryer.

Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais' two-part adaptation of Alan Furst's spy novel Spies of Warsaw concludes - 9:00 BBC4. Jean-Francois Mercier's mission becomes all too dangerous when his cover is compromised while trying to unearth German military plans. After travelling to Czechoslovakia to find and question the elusive Seagull, Mercier finds his superiors becoming increasingly frustrated with his risk-taking and lack of protocol - ultimately leading them to question the intelligence he has gathered. Starring David Tennant and Janet Montgomery.

When a dairy worker is crushed to death by a giant round of cheese at the home of the world-famous Midsomer Blue, Barnaby and Jones are soon on the case in Midsomer Murders - 8:00 ITV. Debbie (played by Martine McCutcheon) died just hours after an argument at a parents' council meeting at the local prep school, and her phone leads the detectives to Oliver Ordish, who was having an affair with the victim.

As Brennan and Booth adjust to normal life after being on the run, tensions rise between the crime-solving pair, but a new case keeps them focused on work in Bones - 9:00 Shy Living. The remains of a high-profile divorce lawyer have been found in a burning bin, and with years of dodgy deals to his name, any of the victim's disgruntled clients could have a motive.
Thursday 17 January
Peter Powell introduces an edition of Top of the Pops - 7:30 BBC4 - the weekly pop chart from January 1978, featuring performances by Eddie & The Hot Rods, Long Tall Ernie, Legs & Co, Tonight, Brotherhood of Man, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Julie Covington and yer actual Paul McCartney & Wings.
In the latest episode of Silent Witness - 9:00 BBC1 - The team is baffled by the conflicting possible motives after two women are shot dead in a house basement - and the investigation isn't helped by Jack having to work alongside an old flame, the ambitious DI Chrissy Reed. Meanwhile, Leo faces a difficult choice when he is asked to prove his pathologist mentor made a mistake in a case that resulted in a mother being imprisoned for smothering her baby to death. Emilia Fox, William Gaminara and David Caves star.

An art robbery turns deadly, so the team tracks down a familiar face - ex-con and art expert August March - in the hope he can lead them to the thieves in Hawaii Five-0 - 9:00 Sky1. Meanwhile, McGarrett asks Catherine to help him find his mother, so she targets witness protection agent Channing, hoping he will fall for her womanly wiles. Crime drama, guest-starring veteran actor Ed Asner and 24's Carlos Bernard.
Friday 18 January
After winning plaudits and critical acclaim for their show during the Paralympic Games, comedian Adam Hills and regular panellists Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker return to provide a comic review of the significant moments of the past seven days in The Last Leg with Adam Hills - 9:30 Channel Four. There will also be live studio challenges and recorded segments each week, including Alex's quest to participate in the Rio Paralympics in 2016.

The Rhinestone Cowboy -9:00 BBC4 - is, as you might expect, an insight into the life of country music star Glen Campbell, documenting his remarkable journey from an impoverished childhood to worldwide fame and success as a guitarist and singer with records including 'Wichita Lineman' and 'Rhinestone Cowboy'. Featuring contributions by family, friends and colleagues including Jimmy Webb, Micky Dolenz and Whispering Bob Harris. Nice.

Hortense's detested brother Pierre Gaillac takes control of Le Paradis and puts an end to the strike before trying to subdue Rose, who is having difficulty adjusting to her new life in the latest episode of Maison Close - 9:00 Sky Arts 1. The little calm he creates is shattered when Vera sees a jewel that used to be belong to her lover around fellow prostitute Angele's neck. Drama, starring Jemima West, Anne Charrier and Nicolas Briancon. In French, with subtitles.
To the news: Actor and comedian Billy Connolly has spoken of how he still loves his late father, despite being sexually abused by him for five years. In an interview for the BBC's Review Show, Connolly said the power of forgiveness was 'immense.' And, he said he still considered his father, who abused him between the ages of ten and fifteen, to be 'a great man.' His own children - the two eldest of whom had known his father - have never asked him about the abuse. Connolly first revealed the abuse he suffered in a biography written by his wife Pamela Stephenson in 2001 - some twelve years after his father, William, died. In the book, the seventy-year-old Scot described how his mother walked out on the family when he was three, leaving him to be brought up by his father and two aunts. He said he and his father regularly shared a bed together in their flat in the Partick area of Glasgow. During the interview with presenter Kirsty Wark broadcast on BBC2 on Friday evening, Connolly said he had not made a conscious decision to hide the abuse during his rise to stardom in the 1970s and 1980s. He explained: 'It wasn't the time to talk about things like that - not like now. I just didn't want to talk about it. It was mine and I kind of liked it being mine. I thought it made me very colourful but it was up to me to make of it what I wanted to, and I always thought it made me kind of special. I loved him, and I kept loving him, and I love him today. And you know, forgiveness is a great thing - the power of forgiveness is immense and you can forgive dead people as well. It is a very odd affair, sexual abuse. Mine is very, very typical - you don't tell anybody about it. Everybody wonders why people who are abused don't rush off to the police or the authorities or an aunt or an uncle and tell them. But it just doesn't happen because you feel you've taken part in it, because sometimes it's not the most unpleasant thing that has ever happened to you. So there is a deep guilt and shame involved and so you don't tell people.' When asked what his five children - two of whom were old enough to have known their grandfather - had asked him about the abuse, Connolly replied: 'Absolutely nothing. They thought he was a great guy, and he was a great guy.' Connolly also described how his Aunt Mona had regularly humiliated him by rubbing his underpants in his face and leaving notes saying 'thief' in the biscuit jar. Recalling how she found a copy of an erotic poem in his possession, Connolly added: 'It was a schoolboy thing, it was a very dirty piece and she found it and humiliated me with it for years and years and years and threatened to take it to school. She was always going to tell my dad and he was going to beat me limbless. But it was every day, was the thing. Every single day. And I had a teacher Rosie MacDonald who was a bit of a psychopath so I would leave my aunt and go to Rosie. It's astonishing I'm not gay because the women in my life are nightmares. I remember my sister standing outside school teaching me long division. I was scared to go in because I didn't know long division and I knew Rosie would kill me. My sister, who became a school teacher, explained it to me. She was my guardian angel.'

Long-running ITV crime series do not have a strong track record with black actors. Midsomer Murders notoriously came under fire two years ago when its producer, Brian True-May, was suspended for saying that black faces were 'not right' for his popular small town mystery series, while Inspector Morse and its prime-time successor Lewis are dominated by white leading characters. Until now. The new sidekick to take his place in the Oxfordshire police car alongside Lewis is to be played by Gambian actor Babou Ceesay. The character of DC Alex Gray, who will be introduced to viewers this month, will put the Lewis franchise on a fresh footing, though Ceesay said he had been unaware of the race row until he appeared on set. 'When I started working on the show I was told about the controversy surrounding Midsomer Murders as an ethnic-free zone,' he said. 'But I don't think my role in Lewis is political. I don't think they were "going black" for the part, as the industry phrase goes.' But the actor, who was most recently seen in the BBC4 sitcom Getting On, agrees that his casting is a positive step: 'It can't be a bad thing, although in acting you can't get away from the fact that your colour and age and gender will affect you. It is a naturally prejudiced business.' The show, he said, will ignore his colour, something which he finds 'quite refreshing. The statement is that I am there and I am black. There is no need for them to say anything else.' Growing up in Africa, he was part of a black majority, so race was never an issue. 'At the beginning in Britain, perhaps, I did wonder why I was not getting the opportunity to try this or to try that,' he said. He believes that the situation is improving, with a greater variety of work on offer. 'It is a lot more interesting now because there is more "blind casting" going on,' he said. 'In the beginning there were only a couple of times per annum when I would be called for a part that was not necessarily black, but it has increased. That might be partly because I am more experienced now, though. Agents, casting directors and the big decision-makers in the industry seem to entertain the idea of experimenting.' Last year, the black actor David Harewood, star of Homeland, created some minor - tabloid stirred-up - controversy by suggesting that he had to go to America to land a lead role. Ceesay followed the debate: 'I have watched David's career and I love his work, but I have a slightly different view. I do agree with him that the size of the industry out there makes a difference. But it is more competitive there, too. He was in a very big series, but I know several good black actors who are struggling out there.' The role of Lewis star Kevin Whately's partner has been played by Laurence Fox and both actors will appear in Ceesay's first episode. Fox joked recently that he had grown weary of asking suspects to explain their movements on the previous day, but Ceesay is eager to pick up the police notebook. 'I love detective dramas and am looking forward to asking all those questions. At the beginning, though, my character is a bit squeamish. DC Gray is quite clumsy and anxious and finds it hard to badger people. He has to work in a different way to Laurence.' He describes Gray as 'a kind of geography teacher type in terms of his dress sense – with patches on his jacket elbows.' The character also has a hidden history to be gradually revealed in the series. The actor already knows Oxford, as he went to drama school there, but realises Lewis's loyal viewers may take time to get used to him: 'I imagine they will see me as more of a guest at first.' Whately, he added, had made him welcome. The actor, who starred in the original Morse series with John Thaw, had stopped him from feeling overwhelmed: 'People told me that Kevin was going to be one of the loveliest men I would ever work with, and it turns out to be true.' The thirty four-year-old's route into acting is unconventional. After university he worked as a risk consultant at the accounting firm Deloitte in London. 'I went for the straight and narrow and got a job and a house, and then I got the itch and had to act.' So, after studying how British 'people carry themselves and talk' by watching Inspector Morse as a schoolboy and admiring 'the architecture and the greenery,' he now takes his place in that world.

Bernard Cribbins has been talking about working on a new story-based series Old Jack's Boat: 'It was lovely to be asked, it is a bit like Jackanory - it's me, sitting telling stories, with my dog Salty beside me. And it has the bonus of a few extra characters and some animation, and we got the chance to wander about Staithes, a lovely fishing village in North Yorkshire.' The series also sees two episodes written by yer actual Russell Davies: 'I asked them if they had all the stories in place and when they said no, I approached Russell to ask if he would do it. It was a change for him, to write for such a young audience but his stories are lovely.'
Victims of press abuse and members of the public such as the parents of Madeleine McCann, are 'increasingly angry' that the future relationship between politicians and newspapers is 'being decided behind closed doors' according to the Gruniad Morning Star. On the eve of the publication of a proposed 'Leveson bill' put together by the Hacked Off campaign group to provoke action, Dominic Crossley, the lawyer representing many of the victims, said his clients' 'shared frustration' has reached new levels. 'Their resolve is incredibly strong and growing,' said Crossley, an expert in the law of privacy, defamation and harassment. 'They are well organised and fully active and, although many of the core participants I represent are not used to public life, they are a group of individuals who are seriously committed to taking this opportunity to improve the way newspapers behave. There is a sense of strong public support, too.' Crossley urged newspaper editors and proprietors to read the proposed draft bill to be unveiled on the Hacked Off campaign website. Drawn up by lawyers, the document offers a suggested shape for legislation and sticks closely to the recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson at the end of November. 'We have taken a lot of care to translate the inquiry recommendations as straightforwardly as possible,' said Brian Cathcart, a journalist and founder of Hacked Off. 'We believe this is the only credible and authoritative way forward.' The proposals, Crossley believes, will put forward 'a positive regulatory structure.' He added: 'The idea would be to stop journalistic behaviour ever becoming a matter for the police, as with the regulation of all sorts of other professions.' The lawyer – whose clients include Charlotte Church, Hugh Grant, Anne Diamond, Paul Gascoigne and Sienna Miller, as well as members of the public at the centre of tragic news stories, including Christopher Jefferies – claims that the press stands to gain, rather than suffer, from a statutory framework based on Leveson's recommendations. 'After all, he went to considerable lengths to dispel fears of state intervention in his conclusion. One of his aims is to enshrine a free press, and it offers other powerful benefits when it comes to libel and privacy and the enormous costs incurred for newspapers,' Crossley said. His clients suspect that 'established interests' have now taken control. Crossley said all the victims had initially put themselves up for public scrutiny at the inquiry because they hoped for change. 'These individuals, who each had a different and extraordinary story to tell, gave their evidence despite the obvious risk of repercussions from newspapers and the stress of having to relive, in public, highly sensitive and painful experiences,' he said. 'It is widely accepted that the public's reaction to the evidence heard in the inquiry was one of shock. I was repeatedly told that this shock was not just at how people had been treated by newspapers but also at how close and unhealthy the relationship was between the press and politicians.' The lawyer said his clients had been led to believe that politicians from all three main parties would implement Leveson's proposals. 'Now, one month since the report has been published, my clients are becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress. What they all fear is that they are witnessing yet another example of politicians failing in their duty when it comes to the media,' said Crossley. 'The questions we must ask ourselves are: why, and in whose interests, are these new proposals being made? And why are they being discussed in private between politicians and the press, with any news about progress only emerging from off-the-record briefings?'

The veteran BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall has appeared in court accused of sexually abusing three girls between the ages of nine and seventeen. The eighty three-year-old, famous for presenting It's A Knockout, appeared at Preston Magistrates Court to face three counts of indecent assault committed between 1974 and 1984. Hall, who gave his full name as James Stuart Hall, pleaded not guilty to all charges. Hall was asked by the clerk of the court if he understood that he faced three separate charges of indecent assault and if he wanted to enter a plea. He replied: 'Yes I do. Not guilty to all three charges.' Hall was allowed to sit down in the witness box while further details of the charges were given. Following an investigation by Lancashire Police, Hall was arrested at his home in Wilmslow on 5 December. Outlining the charges the prosecution said Hall is alleged to have fondled the breast of one girl, then aged sixteen or seventeen, between 1 September 1974 and 31 December 1974 in Blackpool. On a second occasion he is alleged to have molested a nine-year-old girl by touching her some time between 1 January 1983 and 31 December 1983 and the third alleged indecent assault is that he kissed a thirteen-year-old girl on the lips, on an occasion between 1 July 1984 and 27 September 1984. None of the alleged victims can be named for legal reasons.

Amid the post-Christmas news famine, a desperate Daily Scum Mail devoted its Tuesday splash (Channel Four And The Sick Show They Call Comedy) to The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, undeterred by the programme having been made a Pick of the Day in both Scum Mail titles' TV listings sections. Three days later the louse-scum, apoplexy-addicted, Hitler-supporting right-wing thug tabloid was still banging on about odious Jack Whitehall, buffoonish James Corden and, a regular target, Jonathan Ross, rather touchingly treating as 'news' the fact that holidaying C4 bosses and board members – chief executive David Abraham was revealed to be in Vietnam – were 'uncontactable' or 'declined to comment.' At least we now know how odious scum-louse Paul Dacre's foot soldiers encode the message 'Help!' – they're reduced to quoting a 'media source' too bashful to reveal their industry, let alone their name. Even feebler was a copycat full-page Big Fat Quiz story in Thursday's The Times, clearly designed to set up columnist Carol Midgley to roar her rage. However, she frustratingly admitted that 'the best I could manage was mild irritation.' Let's hope the three Scum Mail hacks and one Times reporter required to concoct an 'outrage' from this rather nothing-story are aware of the possibility of a C4 curse. Not long after Paul Johnson penned his legendary 1990s denunciation of Michael Grade, Channel Four's then boss, as a 'pornographer-in-chief' - the model for subsequent OTT fulminations against Radio 2, Jerry Springer: The Opera, The X Factor, the BBC's output in general and now C4 again – the exposure of aspects of Johnson's private life was swiftly followed by his miserable transformation from the paper's top rent-a-ranter to a pariah figure all but invisible in the pages of the Scum Mail.

David Tennant has confirmed that he is to become a father for a third time. The former Doctor Who actor revealed that his wife Georgia Moffett was pregnant with their second child together on this week's The Jonathan Ross Show. 'It's lovely, very lovely. It's exciting,' Tennant told Wossy. David and Georgia (Peter Davison and Sandra Dickinson's daughter, just in case you didn't know) previously welcomed their first child, Olivia, back in April 2011. The Scottish actor later adopted Moffett's then-ten-year-old son Tyler in March last year. The couple married in an intimate London ceremony in late December 2011 having met on the set of Doctor Who in 2009.

A Utah town has voted to rename a street called Morning Glory Road due to its 'sexual connotation.' The issue arose after a technology company planning to relocate to the area in Lehi City expressed 'concern' about the 'innuendo' in the street name. Xactware Solutions Inc., a company which develops computer software for the insurance industry, reportedly requested a name change that would maintain its 'international corporate image.' While 'Morning Glory' is the name of a - particularly pretty - type of purple flower, the term has over the years become associated with a chap waking up with a massive chimney on. According to The AP, city council members 'voted unanimously' to rename the street Morning Vista Road. Councilman Johnny Revill admitted after the 11 December meeting that he was 'unaware' of the sexual connotation, saying: 'That name has a negative meaning for some reason. When you use the word, there is a different meaning that can be taken from that.'

Unpublished colour photographs of The Beatles (a popular beat-combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) during their second tour of the US are to be auctioned. The sixty five slides include many stage shots, including George Harrison with his red Rickenbacker guitar, which appeared in the film A Hard Day's Night. They were taken by award-winning physicist Doctor Robert Beck. The band played a string of sell-out concerts in the US in August 1964 following three appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show in February that year. Beck was a researcher and inventor who died in 2002, leaving a huge archive of photographs and slides in his Hollywood home. After the massive success of the band in the US, colour photography and film of them was more widely used for their 1965 and 1966 appearances there. The 1965 Shea Stadium show in new York, for example, was filmed in colour. Ernie Sutton from the Beatles Fan Club said: 'These photographs show The Beatles during their 1964 US tour, both on and off-stage. New photographs that emerge of The Beatles are always of interest to the fans, but with the majority of photographs from this tour in black and white, it is a delight to see colour photographs from that historic tour.' Beck's slides also feature close-up portraits from the Las Vegas Sahara Hotel press conference, the Las Vegas Convention Centre gig, plus shots of a private party at the Beverly Hills mansion of the then president of Capitol Records, Alan Livingston.
They will go under the hammer on 22 March, fifty years to the day from when the band released their first LP, Please Please Me. Auctioneer Paul Fairweather, of Omega Auctions in Stockport said: 'This is a fabulous collection, particularly given that all the slides are in colour.' He estimated that they would fetch between ten and fifteen thousand smackers.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, which, today, does indeed feature that particular popular beat-combo on the 1960s. Keep your head still, Paul will ya, it's somewhat distracting. Note, also, the mistaken caption for John in this particular clip ('sorry girls, he's married'). It should, of course, have read, 'sorry girls, he's a self-confessed alcoholic Scouse wife-beating junkie. You can do far better.'

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