Monday, February 11, 2013

He's Leaving

BBC1's coverage of the 2013 BAFTA Film Awards enjoyed its largest overnight audience for a decade on Sunday, but this still wasn't quite enough to beat ITV's Mr Selfridge. The BAFTA Film Awards averaged 5.4 million viewers between 9pm and 11pm on BBC1, up slightly from the 5.3 million overnight average last year, the audience of 5.2 million in 2011 and a lowly 3.6 million in 2010. But it was not enough to topple ITV's Jeremy Piven drama Mr Selfridge, watched by 5.81 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm. The film event has been steadily growing its audience in recent years when it has been broadcast as a single programme solely on BBC1. In 2009 its coverage was split between BBC1 and BBC2, and in previous years it had been interrupted by the BBC News. Sunday's audience was its biggest since 2003 when it was watched by 5.8 million viewers. Earlier, England's 12-6 win over Ireland in the Six Nations rugby, their first win in Dublin since 2003, had a five-minute peak of 8.1 million viewers. BBC1's coverage of the game averaged 6.05 million viewers, a thirty three per cent audience share, between 2.25pm and 5pm. Live coverage of the game itself, which kicked off at 3pm, averaged 6.9 million viewers for the hard-fought match played in constant rain. However, the poor weather across the UK also seems to have boosted BBC1's Sunday afternoon audience. Elsewhere, BBC1's Call The Midwife was, as usual, the top-rated show of the day with 8.8 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm. At the same time on BBC2, Top Gear had 5.14 million viewers for a terrific episodes focusing on a race between Jezza, Hamster and Cap'n Slow from Wembley to the San Siro. Proper excellent, so it was, as usual. This figure for Top Gear also included the show's usual dedicated following on BBC HD, 1.1 million viewers in all. ITV's risible Twatting About On Ice: The Skate-Off, found itself squeezed between a rock and hard place up against two such ratings juggernauts and ended up beaten by both, being watched by 5.10 million viewers between 8.30pm and 9pm. 6.2 million punters watched the main Twatting About On Ice show between 6.15pm and 7.45pm. BBC2's Wonders of Life, with Professor Brian Foxy Coxy, had 2.6 million viewers including over three hundred thousand on BBC HD (not to mention yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self) between 9pm and 10pm. Another showing for Bruce Willis sequel Die Hard 4.0 had 2.1 million viewers between 9pm and 11.35pm on Channel Four. Earlier, BBC1's teatime drama Blandings was watched by four million viewers between 6.30pm and 7pm. The Scum's 2-0 win over Everton averaged 1.8 million viewers across the entirety of Sky Sports coverage between 3.30pm and 6.30pm, with a five-minute peak of 2.7 million. Overall, BBC1 beat ITV in primetime with 26.4 per cent of the audience share ahead of 18.6 per cent.

Britain's Brightest, BBC1's Saturday night game show, rocketed to a ratings high for its final episode. Some 5.15m - a 22.7 per cent share of the available audience - tuned in at 7.15pm as Bill Bailey won the six-week competition. Hosted by Claire Blading, who acknowledged her move to primetime was a 'risk', the programme consistently lost to Tom Daley's Z-List Celebrity Drowning on ITV and has hovered around the four to four-and-a-half million mark until this weekend in overnights. BBC1's fortunes improved further as the night went on, winning every primetime clash against ITV, which struggled without its baffling popular z-list celebrity drowning show. Lottery game show In It to Win It took 5.28m punters at 8.15pm, after which Casualty topped the night with a splendid 5.59m audience. On ITV, meanwhile, odious risible horrorshow (and drag) Take Me Out and The Jonathan Ross Show slumped to 3.56m and 2.42m respectively. Elsewhere, BBC2's Natural World was watched by 1.62m, the film Crocodile Dundee II had an audience of 1.37m on Channel Four, and nine hundred and eighty thousand watched Law & Order: SVU on Five. An episode of Midsomer Murders helped ITV3 overtake both BBC2 and Channel Five in primetime, with the two-hour detective drama picking up a hefty 1.14m between 9pm and 11pm. Overall, BBC1 strolled to victory in primetime with 23.9 per cent of the audience share, with ITV a distant runner-up, taking 14.4 per cent. Spiral returned for its fourth series on BBC4 with five hundred and ninety four thousand punters at 9pm.

Pointless has taken a somewhat unexpected lead over The Chase in the teatime ratings. The BBC1 quiz, hosted by Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman, pulled in 3.53m on Friday evening between 5.15pm and 6pm. Bradley Walsh's The Chase, meanwhile, was just behind averaging 3.41m across the entire 5pm hour - still an impressive figure which consolidates its place as the broadcaster's biggest teatime show since Paul O'Grady's chat show was cancelled. The BBC's axing of afternoon children's programmes on its flagship channel has meant that Pointless now inherits a stronger audience. Elsewhere on Friday, Great Night Out - ITV's flop comedy drama set in Stockport - rose to 3.23m in the 9pm hour. Whilst recording its best figure since it kicked off in mid-January, Friday's audience is still way below ITV's slot average, meaning the show is unlikely to be rewarded a second run. BBC1's Silent Witness comfortably won the hour but Great Night Out may have dented the drama as it recorded its lowest audience of the current series, 4.87m. Of the other terrestrial channels' best-rated programming, Mastermind was watched by 2.3m on BBC2, an audience of 1.39m watched a shortened Eight Out Of Ten Cats on Channel Four and Ice Road Truckers was seen by 1.01m on Five. Overall, ITV pipped BBC1 during primetime with 21.5 per cent of the audience share against BBC1's 21.3 per cent. BBC Four's LP week came to an end with just under eight hundred thousand punters for the documentary When Albums Ruled the World, which ranked as the most-watched multichannel broadcast of the day.

And, still on the subject of ratings, here's the final and consolidated figures for the Top Twenty programmes week ending 3 February 2013:-
1 Call The Midwife - Sun BBC1 - 10.85m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 10.01m
3 Mrs Brown's Boys - Mon BBC1 - 9.46m
4 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 9.25m
5 Miranda - Mon BBC1 - 8.70m
6 Emmerdale - Wed ITV - 7.92m
7 Death In Paradise - Tue BBC1 - 7.68m
8 Lewis - Mon ITV - 7.61m
9 Silent Witness - Thu BBC1 - 7.49m
10 Mr Selfridge - Sun ITV - 7.47m
11 Twatting About On Ice - Sun ITV - 7.27m
12 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.99m
13 Africa - Wed BBC1 - 6.52m
14 Top Gear - Sun BBC2/BBCHD - 6.42m
15 Ripper Street - Sun BBC1 - 6.31m
16 Midsomer Murders - Wed ITV - 6.08m*
17 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.90m
18 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.64m
19 Rugby Six Nations - Sat BBC1 - 5.46m
20 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.31m
Programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's most watched programmes of the week, Top Gear aside, include The Mary Berry Story (3.43m), University Challenge (3.2m) and Wonders of Life (2.93m). The concluding two episodes of Borgen were BBC4's highest rated programme(s) with audiences of eight hundred and sixty nine thousand and eight hundred and fifty seven thousand. Sky Sports 1's coverage of the Premier League clash between Sheikh Yer Man City and the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws was the most watched multi-channel broadcast of the week with 2.03m viewers.

Mrs Brown's Boys has won over some of its critics (although many of the more churlish, sour-faced ones continue to be immune), scooped several awards and kept millions of viewers laughing – and the show has now almost claimed its first fatality. Sixty-nine-year-old Anthony Martin told the Sun how he had a (thankfully mild) heart-attack when he laughed so much at the BBC sitcom. Martin said he was 'in a fit of giggles' at a scene where Brendan O'Carroll's character put a phone down her knickers to hide it from a priest, before it predictably starts vibrating. 'It was just the look on Mrs Brown's face that did it. I was going for a good few minutes,' he said after returning from hospital, where he was, mercifully, not left in stitches.

Delia Derbyshire - the electronica genius who brought the original Doctor Who theme tune to life in 1963 - is to be played by the actress Sarah Winter in Mark Gatiss's fiftieth anniversary biopic An Adventure In Space And Time, her agent reports. The actress has been seen previously on television as Lady Jane Grey in the documentary series Bloody Tales of the Tower and as Mary Martin in At Home with the Georgians. She has also appeared in films such as The Other Boleyn Girl and The Butterfly Tattoo. Sarah has also been involved in a number of short films and theatrical productions. Filming for the docudrama continues this week at BBC Television Centre, where the building has been undergoing some redecoration to 'restore' it to a 1960s feel.
The BBC removed part of Sir David Attenborough's narration in the final episode of its flagship nature documentary Africa after it acknowledged that it contained a mistaken claim about climate change. In the original episode first broadcast last Wednesday, Attenborough said: 'Some parts of the continent have become 3.5C hotter in the past twenty years.' But following 'scrutiny' of this claim (ie. nosey interference in shit that's none of their business) of by some Communist lowlife scum of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star in that typically shite-stirring, trouble-making way which they seem to enjoy so much, it transpired that the 'source' of the claim could not be, readily, verified. A climatologist - sticking his oar in where it wasn't wanted - told the Gruniad that the claim could not be substantiated. 'Our data does not support the claim of 3.5C warming in the last twenty years in some regions of Africa,' said Doctor Tim Osborn at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit. The BBC took the decision on Saturday to re-edit the episode for its repeat showing, as well as remove the original broadcast from its iPlayer online catch-up service. In the edited episode, Attenborough's words were replaced with a lengthened musical score. In a statement issued to the Gruniad, the BBC said: 'There is widespread acknowledgement within the scientific community that the climate of Africa has been changing as stated in the programme. We accept the evidence for 3.5C increase is disputable and the commentary should have reflected that, therefore that line has been removed from Sunday's repeat and the iPlayer version replaced.' The BBC also acknowledged that Attenborough had not researched the claim himself. It has been placed in his script by the programme's production team.

Twatting About On Ice is 'on the skids' after being 'trumped' last week by Countryfile, according to a piece in the Sunday Mirra. Although, as we can see above, once the final, consolidated ratings were calculated, Twatting About On Ice actually emerges marginally ahead of Countryfile (7.27m to 6.99m punters, respectively). Alleged 'insiders' allegedly claim that alleged ITV 'bosses' are allegedly 'considering dropping the flagship show' because the latest series has had 'some of the poorest viewing figures since it began in 2006.' That last bit isn't alleged, it's completely true. The Sunday Mirra says that it 'can reveal' Twatting About On Ice has lost half of its viewers since the first series 'when thirteen million tuned in to see Gaynor Faye triumph.' An ITV spokesman insisted that they were 'planning' for the show to return again in 2014. But an alleged TV 'source' - whatever the hell that meaningless phrase means - allegedly said: 'There's been a lot of chatter on-set that there will not be a ninth series. The powers that be are unimpressed with viewing figures, especially considering how much it costs to produce. They don’t know what to do.' Problems with the show, hosted by horrible Phillip Schofield and and odious greed-bucket (and drag) the curiously orange Christine Bleakley, surfaced last year when ratings hit an all-time low of 6.4 million viewers. 'Rather than pulling the plug,' the Mirra continues 'bosses decided to plough in vast sums of cash in a bid to turn the show around.' They brought back nasty Jason Gardiner as a judge after he quit the previous year and 'forked out a record-breaking one hundred and fifty thousand pounds for Pamela Anderson.' But, as we all know, the former Baywatch actress was voted off by viewers in the very first episode, meaning that she was paid one thousand smackers per second for her time on the ice. Last Sunday's episode was watched by 6.73 million overnight viewers (and that's with ITV+1 figures taken into account) and was beaten in the overnight ratings by BBC1's Countryfile. The Twatting About One Ice results show fell even further, attracting a piss-poor 5.4 million and was thoroughly bested by BBC2's Top Gear. Twatting About On Ice's position was further weakened, the Mirra claims, when it ditched its previously lucrative UK and Ireland tour. This was blamed on the recession 'but many believe it was due to a slump in popularity.' The alleged 'source' allegedly said: 'The format was a gamble but it turned into a success story. The first final with thirteen million viewers was an incredible achievement and ended up being the third-highest rated show of 2006. Those kinds of figures were maintained for the next few years and DoI became one of ITV's flagship programmes. Even when viewing figures started to slip a little bit, there was no sense of panic but last year was a cause for concern. The first show launched with a respectable 8.4 million, but lost two million viewers halfway through the series. To be fair to ITV, they refused to be defeated and ploughed a huge amount of money into this year's show. They got rid of Louie Spence from the panel and brought back Jason, who has definitely added spice. Then they paid their highest-ever celebrity fee to bring in Pamela, but that was an absolute disaster. They even had a celebrity romance between Samia Ghadie and Sylvain Longchambon, which usually boosts ratings, but that had no effect. It will be a big decision for ITV, because 6.7 million viewers is not to be sniffed at in this day and age. But the Sunday-night slot is as primetime as it gets and they'd be expecting more people to tune in. A show like Downton Abbey was consistently topping ten million viewers and The X Factor results show does the same. Getting beaten by Countryfile is not good news and will have been a bit of a wake-up call at ITV.'
Argo has continued its award-winning streak, picking up three BAFTAs including the top prize for best film. Ben Affleck was named best director for his film about the rescue of American hostages in Iran, following its success at the Golden Globes last month. Daniel Day-Lewis won the award for best actor for his role in Lincoln, while French actress Emmanuelle Riva was the surprise best actress winner for Amour. James Bond film Skyfall won the award for outstanding British film. Argo beat Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty to win the best film award and Affleck triumphed over Kathryn Bigelow, Michael Haneke, Ang Lee and Quentin Tarantino for the director honour. Accepting his best director award, Affleck made reference to his career of the past decade, when he fell out of favour in Hollywood. 'This is a second act for me - you've given me that and I'm so grateful and proud. I want to dedicate this to anyone that's trying to get their second act because you can do it,' he said. He added later it was a 'wonderful, warm surprise' to win the best film award, while producer George Clooney praised the director, saying 'you are remarkable at what you do.' Argo also picked up the award for best editing. During his acceptance speech, Day-Lewis paid tribute to his fellow nominees who included Affleck, Bradley Cooper, Hugh Jackman and Joaquin Phoenix. 'I don't know if I deserve this, but I do know that every single one of you deserve it at least every bit as I do,' he said. Despite going into the awards with ten nominations, Day-Lewis was Lincoln's sole success. Anne Hathaway was named best supporting actress for her role in Les Miserables, while Christoph Waltz won best supporting actor for Django Unchained. An emotional Hathaway said she was 'honoured' to receive her award and paid tribute to her fellow cast members and director Tom Hooper. Backstage, the actress said taking part in the film was 'the most sublime experience - I don't know how I got so lucky.' Waltz put his win down to director Quentin Tarantino - who won an award himself for best original screenplay for the controversial but hugely entertaining Django Unchained - calling him 'a silver-penned devil.' David O Russell won the award for best adapted screenplay for Silver Linings Playbook, which he also directed. Accepting the award, Russell said: 'This film is about emotions and this is for every family that face those emotions every day.' It was the only award the film received though, despite its stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence being nominated for best actor and actress. Skyfall beat Anna Karenina, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Les Miserables and Seven Psychopaths to win best British film. 'We all had high expectations for this film and this is really the icing on the cake,' director Sam Mendes said. Backstage, Mendes said that the fact Skyfall star Daniel Craig had not been nominated for an award was 'due to the curse of Bond. It was an incredible performance but because Bond is the spine of the movie you take it for granted.' Tom Hooper's adaptation of stage musical Les Miserables came away with the most honours on the night, winning four awards. In addition to Hathaway's, the film also picked up prizes for best sound, make-up and hair and production design. Ang Lee's 3D epic Life of Pi - which went into the awards with nine nominations - picked up two technical awards for cinematography and special visual effects. Amour won best foreign film, although its director, Michael Haneke, and Riva were not at the ceremony to collect their prizes. Joe Wright's adaptation of Anna Karenina came away with the award for best costume design, while Disney Pixar film Brave was named best animation. Searching for Sugar Man - the true story of 1970s rocker Rodriguez - won best documentary. Director Sir Alan Parker, whose works include The Commitments and Bugsy Malone, was honoured with a British Academy Fellowship - the highest accolade the Academy can bestow. There was also a special prize for Channel Four film boss Tessa Ross, who received a lifetime achievement award. The awards, held at London's Royal Opera House, were hosted by yer actual Stephen Fry.

Producers for The Voice have officially announced a series of format changes to series two of singing competition. Last year, the controller of BBC1, Danny Cohen, said that changes needed to be made to the live shows of The Voice after viewing figures fell following the hugely popular audition rounds. This year's series will feature just three live shows, while earlier stages will borrow elements from the successful US version of the programme. One particular change will see judges 'steal' a contestant from their rivals. The first series pulled in very strong audiences during its early stages, when the coaches chose contenders in blind auditions. They only set eyes on the singers once they had decided to champion them, at which point their chairs spun round to face the stage. Yer actual Sir Tom Jones, will.he.is, Jessie J and Danny O'Donoghue will all return as the show's coaches. During this year's 'battle' stages, in which each individual coach selects their final line-up of singers for the live shows, a losing contestant may be poached for a rival team. The 'steals' can only happen once per coach. Another change BBC executives are hoping will retain viewers is that each artist must pick a 'killer song' during the new knockouts stage of the competition. Then the public will be in control to decide the winners during the live shows. Executive producer Moira Ross said: 'We can't wait for The Voice to return to Saturday nights. With our four global superstars back on board, an unrivalled standard of vocal talent and the added excitement of the "Steals" and "Knockouts", it is set to be an extraordinary series.' The Voice is expected to be back on BBC1 at the end of March.

These are unnerving times for a hippie Communist newspaper still reeling after one of its satirical suggestions turned into television reality – as if Alan Partridge's Monkey Tennis had become a genuine BBC series. As ITV programme supremo Peter Fincham looked in 2011 for replacements for his disastrous breakfast flop Daybreak signings, grumpy odious greed-bucket Adrian Chiles and the curiously orange Christine Bleakley, the Gruniad Morning Star proposed Roland Rat, saviour of the original ITV breakfast flop, TV-am. Last week Greg Dyke's raucous rodent avatar was back, working as guest presenter in a week celebrating thirty years since TV-am's launch (an anniversary Fincham also cheerily marked by saying goodbye to his daytime controller, Alison Sharman). As the Daybreak sofa is a typically flimsy Twenty First Century model, however, work on the underpinnings may be needed if there are thoughts of also bringing back Adam Boulton and Eamonn Holmes for birthday guest shifts.

Road safety adverts will no longer be shown on television in England because the Department for Transport has decided to 're-prioritise' its budget. TV adverts have been shown since the 1960s, with characters such as Tufty the squirrel and The Green Cross Man. A DfT spokeswoman said that the adverts would not be broadcast as a consequence of 'budget changes.' The Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents said TV campaigns 'help save lives and prevent injuries.' As part of the coalition government's spending review, announced in 2010 to tackle the deficit, the Department for Transport has to cut spending by six hundred and eighty three million smackers. At the time, the department said it was 'reducing the resources allocated to road safety research and marketing, distributing more of the available money instead for use in local targeted initiatives.' Commenting on the cutting of TV adverts, road safety Minister Stephen Hammond said: 'Road deaths are at a record low but we know that one death is one too many. We are working closely with local authorities and other partners to ensure our road safety messages are reaching children and teenagers in schools as well as providing educational resources to allow these important messages to be incorporated into the curriculum.' Figures released to the Scum Mail on Sunday under a Freedom on Information request show that the road safety publicity budget was nineteen million smackers in 2008-09, and had dropped to £3.9m in 2011-12. The department's Think! campaign has a budget of £3.6m, with seventy eight grand of that spent on educating children about road safety. Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: 'This government must take responsibility if these cuts mean more children are killed or injured on our roads.' ROSPA, which introduced Tufty as a character, said TV campaigns had helped 'to create a high level of road safety awareness over a long period, and are one of the reasons why Great Britain has been able to significantly reduce the number of people being killed on our roads.' ROSPA's head of road safety, Kevin Clinton, said: 'While road safety must face its share of cuts in public spending, road accidents are an enormous financial burden that the country can ill-afford. Investing in preventing road casualties, through measures such as television campaigns, makes a significant economic contribution and helps to save lives and prevent injuries.' On average in the mid-1990s, two hundred and sixty children were killed on Britain's roads every year; by 2011, that figure had fallen to sixty, he said. 'However, that was an increase from the previous year, which is very worrying, and we need to ensure it is not the start of an upward trend in child road deaths and injuries,' he added. Road safety charity Brake said it was 'extremely disappointing' that television adverts were being cut. 'We have been calling for more prime-time advertising for some time. It's very worrying that they are being cut, because we still have a high child pedestrian accident rate. This is going to have an impact and lives are going to be lost,' spokeswoman Sarah Fatica said. She added that broad measures to educate children, including through parents, carers and teachers, was still important, and welcomed continuing funding for local authorities, but said it was 'still a concern' that TV adverts were being cut.

Waste-of-space Amanda Holden and talentless greed-bucket (and drag) Alesha Dixon staged a 'walk-out' on the final day of Britain's Got Toilets auditions earlier this week. As if anybody actually gives a flaming monkey's arse about such rank frigging nonsense. The duo are reported to have left David Walliams and Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads on the stage alone after 'a bust-up' over one of the contestants at the Birmingham auditions. Walliams subsequently tweeted about the incident: 'It's all kicked off here in Birmingham for BGT. Amanda and Alesha have staged a walkout. Extremely awkward.' Meanwhile, the official BGT Twitter account confirmed that one act was 'dividing opinion' between the boys and girls on the panel. The account claimed that a 'judge war erupted' over the act. Big fight. Little people.
Billy Connolly has reportedly revealed that he 'would be interested' in a role in Downton Abbey. And this blogger would quite like to play up front for Newcastle United. But, similarly, that's not likely to be happening any time soon either.

A suspected member of a Mafia-style criminal organisation in Italy handed out hundreds of mobile phones in an attempt to help his daughter win a TV talent show. Domenico Ferrara, fifty six, was arrested over his alleged involvement with the Camorra network, which operates in the Naples region. Around three hundred phones were discovered at his home, all of which had been used to text into Ti Lascio Una Canzone (Leaving You A Song). Have the days of leaving a horse's head in the judges bed disappeared entirely? Ferrara's thirteen-year-old daughter was a contestant on the show and eventually finished in second place. The BBC reports that Ferrara, who is accused of drug smuggling, was keen to launch his daughter's music career. Police believe he handed out the phones in the local area with instructions on how they should be used. They were collected and returned to him to check the record of sent texts. It is unclear whether Ferrara's actions affected the outcome of the competition, since viewers are allowed to vote as many times as they like.

For more than forty years, campaigners have tried to kill off the Sun's practice of printing photographs of topless women with big massive bazoomahs on page three – but to no avail. Yet in a single, apparently off-the-cuff remark on the Internet, billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch hinted that he may at last be ready to grant the wishes of generations of opponents whose ranks have included, most famously, the veteran Labour MP Clare Short. Responding to a fellow user of Twitter who described page three as 'so last century,' News Corp's chairman and chief executive said that he was 'considering' whether he was of the same view. Billionaire tyrant Murdoch, whose tweets are closely scrutinised by the Gruniad Morning Star for clues to the future direction of his global media empire, commented: 'You maybe right, don't know but considering. Perhaps halfway house with glamorous fashionistas.' A News International spokesperson said that the company was 'making no comment' in relation to whether the Sun's topless page three with the huge melons could be for the axe. Except, of course, that in 'making no comment' the spokesperson did, in fact, comment. Ha! Gotcha. A bit like the Belgrano only, you know, with considerably less death. Suspicion that the upper echelons of News International could have reached a tipping point for titties was fuelled by another tweet from a lifelong Murdoch confidante who was asked what he made of Murdoch's comment about getting shot of the knockers. Les Hinton, a former chairman of News International who resigned from his job running Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal at the height of the phone-hacking scandal on the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, replied: 'Great, but page three has jarred for ages.' In the most recent campaign against page three, supermarkets across Britain have been targeted by activists as they stepped up their campaign for an advertising boycott of the tabloid and its daily dose of fulsome funbags andand yer actual wally jumblats. Members of the campaign group No More Page Three said it was 'a sexist relic' of 'an unhealthy 1970s culture' which was 'at odds with the family values promoted by supermarkets.' All of which is almost certainly true. The campaign, which has attracted more than sixty four thousand signatures of support on an online petition, posted a video on YouTube of interviews about page three with - presumably hand-picked - male Sun readers, many of whom said it was 'degrading and sexist.' The group has also held weekly protests outside News International. Beyond activist circles, the view that page three has had its day has been gaining ground for some time, at least according to the Gruniad Morning Star. Ross Brown, a former editor of FHM magazine, said last year: 'One of my best friends is the editor of Nuts and we spend much of our time arguing. I think it's just reached a point where it's readily accessible porn, from page three to Nuts. And we're past that.' According to Fleet Street lore, billionaire tyrant Murdoch is said to have been 'unhappy' when topless page three boobies were first introduced by the then Sun editor Larry Lamb in November 1970. However, any latent opposition the proprietor harboured at the time appears to have vanished as the newspaper's circulation rose spectacularly and the topless page threes and their big curving dumplings become closely associated with the brand. In 1986, Clare Short raised the issue in the House of Commons, leading to many supportive letters from women and attacks by the paper. At the Leveson Inquiry, Sun editor Dominic Mohan looked utterly shame-faced as he said a particularly nasty piece of alleged journalism headlined Fat, Jealous Clare Brands Page Three Porn (published, he quickly stressed, many years before he became editor) was 'not probably something I would run now.' Only 'not probably', Dom? Forced to give evidence for the second time after the inquiry heard criticisms of the newspaper from a coalition of women's groups, Mohan squirmed in his seat as he tried to insist page three of the Sun was 'an innocent staple of British life' and its daily pictures of topless models 'celebrate natural beauty.' And really big jugs.
A former police officer and a journalist are to stand trial at the Old Bailey over alleged corrupt payments for information. Ex-PC Paul Flattley and the Sun's defence editor Virginia Wheeler are accused of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. If convicted they face considerable jail. It is alleged that Wheeler paid Flattley more than six thousand smackers for information between 2008 and 2011. No pleas were entered and the pair were sent for trial at a date to be set. The hearing in front of a district judge at Westminster Magistrates' Court went ahead in Wheeler's absence as she could not attend for medical reasons. The two accused are next due to appear at the Old Bailey for a preliminary hearing on 22 February. Flattley, thirty, a former constable in the Metropolitan Police from Stockport in Cheshire, spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address. He was formally charged when he answered police bail on 22 January. Wheeler, thirty three, from Kennington, who began working for the Sun in September 2004, was charged by summons. It is alleged that Flattley received 'at least' four thousand quid in cheques and two thousand four hundred and fifty notes in cash in exchange for information between 25 May 2008 and 13 September 2011. Crown prosecutor Mark Bryant Heron said Flattley had 'provided Ms Wheeler with material obtained as a direct result of his employment by the Met police' and had received six thousand four hundred and fifty smackers. He told the court that following the submission of a medical report to the court, an application was being made in Wheeler's absence that the matter be heard before the central criminal court on 22 February when a pre-trial hearing will take place. Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle said he was 'satisfied that she was unwell and unfit to be present today' but that 'technically she is present in counsel' and could be sent for a pre-trial hearing at the Old Bailey. Wheeler and Flattley were arrested last year as part of the Met's Operation Elveden investigation into inappropriate payments made to the police and other public officials by newspapers. When announcing the charges, the Crown Prosecution Service said the tip-offs by Flattley included information in relation to the death of a fifteen-year-old girl.

Former Apprentice candidate Stuart Baggs has claimed that the BBC show has made him 'the most unemployable person in the whole country.' Oh dear. How sad. Never mind. The reality TV regular, who appeared on series six of Lord Sugar-Sweetie's business show, claimed that he would 'take anything' when it came to job offers. Well, I need somebody to clean my toilet, Stu, if you fancy ten quid and a cuppa whilst you do the scrubbing. Baggs described watching back his performance on the reality series as 'horrendous' and claimed that promises from former contestants that appearing on the show would boost his career options hadn't proved to be true. Speaking on Sarah Millican's chat show, Baggs said: 'When I went on the show I was told by former candidates that I would get lots of job offers. I got none, not one apart from a Channel Five dating show and then they wouldn't have me because I didn't fit their target demographic - I was a minger!' And, we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for you? Yeah, that's gonna happen. Next ...

Ben Frow, Channel Five's new director of programmes, 'gave a rousing call to arms to staff on his first week,' Broadcast reports. But who - or what - the desk-bound warriors of soft-core pornographer Richard Desmond's TV arm were being 'roused' to fight remains tantalisingly a mystery. Because the flamboyant Frow – although he must have sketched a basic manifesto before his interview for the job in November, and has had three months to ponder since then – told them 'it was too early to outline his vision.'

The BBC's former head of daytime programmes, Liam Keelan, has decided not to take up the job he accepted with BSkyB and will move to BBC Worldwide instead. Keelan's appointment as the new director of Sky1 was announced in December. But he will now remain with the corporation after accepting a role with its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, under its incoming chief executive, Tim Davie. Keelan will have the newly created job of global editorial director of BBC Worldwide, reporting to Helen Jackson, managing director of the commercial arm's content and production business. He was said to have been 'attracted' by the global remit of the Worldwide job, which will see him take a creative role across all of its channels and partnerships. Stuart Murphy, the former Sky1 director who now oversees all of Sky's entertainment channels, told staff he was 'disappointed' by Keelan's decision. 'I'm sorry to say that Liam Keelan called me on Friday to say he has now decided not to take up the role of director, Sky1 and has accepted an international job with BBC Worldwide,' said Murphy in an e-mail to staff. 'We are all disappointed that he has changed his mind at this stage, but it wouldn't have been the right move either for us or for Liam if he wasn't fully committed. We have restarted our search and will appoint the right channel head soon.' Keelan, the BBC's head of daytime from 2006 until last year, has spent all but eighteen months of his career at the BBC since 1995. As head of daytime his BBC programmes included The ONE Show and Pointless.

Johnny Vegas has revealed that Daniel Kitson is the reason he gave up stand-up. But the Ideal star says that he has 'unfinished business' with live comedy – and could make a return to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival one day. Johnny said that he decided to quit around four years ago because he couldn't hope to compete with younger comics. But his decision came as he was becoming disillusioned with stand-up anyway – as the more famous he became, the less of a challenge it was to win over audiences. Speaking at Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival, Johnny said: 'Kitson is the reason I stopped stand-up. I was getting to the end of my journey anyway, when I did three gigs with him. On the first, I thought, "This is brilliant, I've got to pull my socks up and get my act together." On the second, I felt I'd gone fifteen rounds with the comedic Mike Tyson. And on the third, I felt I'd seen comedy take its next evolutionary step. There was no bitterness - but almost a pride in the direction that comedy was going. But I thought I would never have the talent to match that.' Johnny said that his audiences had begun to change as he moved from clubs into theatres, and people had come to see him just because they recognised him from the TV. He said: 'The most fun I had was with gigs where I was a complete unknown and had to fight and win the night. But the tone of the gigs changed. People were more polite and they would come up at the end with cameraphones and wanted their picture taken.' He said that he had 'mixed feelings' about fame, because it gave him financial security and opened doors for him, but admitted: 'A comfort zone made me less of a comic.' However, he said he might return to Edinburgh with a new show at some point, because he needed 'closure' on his stand-up career. He added that his act 'never really transferred' to TV and 'my stand-up DVD was the worst example of what I did; and I'd hate to be remembered that way.' Vegas added that he was now 'enthused' by being a director, having been behind the camera for the recent daytime TV play That's Amore, starring his friend Jason Manford, and the forthcoming Sky Arts short Ragged, part of the Playhouse Presents strand. Speaking to fellow comic Mark Olver on his Dancing About Architecture talk show, Vegas also told of how he never wanted to comply with the strictures of the more corporate comedy clubs. He remembers doing an open-spot for Jongleurs and deliberately overstaying his seven-minute slot yet still being offered more work as he had gone down better than the comics fretting about doing exactly the right thing for the venue bookers. But he turned them down, saying: 'I hated giving them what they want, being told "that's what we do here." These people who took those gigs, five years later they are bitter because Jongleurs is dictating what they are doing,' he said. 'They want to keep you where you are when they first booked you, but I wanted to evolve. After five year, these other comics would say to me "it's all right for you" – but I never took the devil's coin.' He was backed up by Norman Lovett, who said of comedy: 'I've never treated it like a job.' However, other panelists including Markus Birdman and Carly Smallman, said there was nothing wrong with entertaining club audiences – and the money was useful so they could do other work for love, outside of the weekend gigs. But Birdman admitted: 'The circuit is a conservative place. Like pop music, you have to do certain things that the audience expects.' Vegas added that the rise of the new comedy scene from the ashes of the stale club comics of the Seventies simply 'replaced one set of rules for another. Who voted for that?' he asked. 'Who set these new rules up? There are people who think of it as their job to safeguard comedy, or to decided "this isn't pure comedy." It's evolving – you don't get to dictate.' And he said that he noticed a North-South divide on the issue. 'I did find in London a pressure to do generic stuff about relationships or about cats and dogs,' he said of his early career. 'While up North I felt like we had more freedom. It was a smaller pool and we felt we had to be different from the next act. We wanted to stand out.' When asked about his favourite comics, Vegas cited Stewart Lee, but conceded Olver's point that Lee was in serious danger of becoming 'a ultimate arbiter of comedy taste' which could stifle others. Adam Hess admitted that he would once reject jokes he'd written because he thought: 'Stewart Lee wouldn't like that.' However, Vegas defended Lee's right to pass comment on the 'very safe' comedy of the likes of Michael McIntyre. 'We are allowed to stand up as comedians and say "this doesn't represent me,"' he said. By coincidence, Lee directed the stand-up DVD Vegas said that he disliked so much. When Olver asked the panel who was the best comedian they had seen, good old dry-as-a-bone Norman said, without hesitation: 'Jack Whitehall, by a mile.' Then – after a very long, trademark, pause – revealed that he was, in fact, joking. To the obvious relief of the entire room. And to this blogger!

Filters will be provided for Freeview televisions which experience reception problems following the roll out of 4G later this year. Ofcom estimates that the TV viewing in up to 2.3 million British households could be affected by 4G but only forty per cent of them have Freeview. Satellite receivers will not be affected, the watchdog claims. Money from the 4G auction will be used to fund the provision of filters for those who need them. At the moment only mobile operator EE is able to offer customers the 4G service, which provides faster mobile Internet connections. The other operators are currently bidding for licences in an auction run by telecoms watchdog Ofcom. Up to one hundred and eighty million knicker from the auction will be used to fund the filters, a spokesperson from Ofcom said. However, around one per cent of affected Freeview households will be unable to use them and will be offered an alternative instead. Ofcom estimates there may be fewer than one thousand homes in the UK who will not be able to access those alternatives either and will be left without television services. A not-for-profit organisation called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited has been created to tackle the problem. 'I look forward to working closely with broadcasters and mobile network operators to ensure everyone continues to be able to receive their current TV service,' said newly appointed chief executive Simon Beresford-Wiley. 'DMSL plans to pre-empt the majority of potential interference issues caused by 4G at eight hundred MHz and existing TV services. We're focused on being able to provide anyone who may be affected with the information and equipment they'll need to ensure they continue to receive free-to-air TV.' Last month Freeview homes in South Wales had to retune their TVs and boxes following technical changes to a transmitter in order to make way for 4G.
And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which, on the day that a pope has resigned for the first time in seven hundred years, seems rather appropriate.
You know, if there's one really annoying thing about the Ratzinger resigning, it's that having just got laughing at all of those who put such faith in the Mayan calendar 2012 malarkey out of our system, we're now going to be bombarded with The Prophecy of the Popes theorists ... That is, until the next one dies (or resigns, of course) and, thus, kills off another 'the end is coming' line of business.

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