Thursday, February 14, 2013

Once Upon A Time When We Were Friends

Death in Paradise, recommissioned for a third run on Monday, climbed to an impressive 6.2 million for BBC1 in the 9pm hour and was Tuesday night's most-watched show, soaps aside. Alex Polizzi: The Fixer was a surprise strong performer for BBC2 - particularly as she's got a mush like a smacked arse at the best of times - kicking off with an impressive 2.43m in the 8pm hour. Over on ITV, Champions League football coverage averaged 4.15m between 7.30pm and 10pm, while 1.97m watched The Year Britain Flooded on Channel Four at 9pm, and 1.16m caught Extraordinary People on Channel Five. Overall, BBC1 topped primetime with a 24.5 per cent share of the audience, comfortably outperforming ITV's 16.9 per cent. Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents was something of a ratings winner for BBC3, according to early overnight data. Tuesday's edition of the fly-on-the-wall show picked up a series high of nine hundred and sixty five thousand punters, whilst a further two hundred and fifty thousand viewers watched the show when it was repeated at 12.30am on Wednesday morning.

Dallas's ratings on Channel Five, meanwhile, have slumped to a new low of three hundred and twenty seven thousand after a shift to a new late-night slot in the schedules. The US soap was shifted to 11pm on Tuesday nights after viewing figures fell to six hundred thousand for the second episode of season two in its previous 9pm slot. However, the change in scheduling hasn't stopped the show's viewer decline. The overnight figures for Tuesday night's show reveal that but three hundred and twenty seven thousand punters watched the drama. A further fifty four thousand watched an hour later on on Channel Fuve+1. The revived US series - which stars Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe - launched in 2012 on Channel Five with nearly three million viewers for its premiere.

Poland and South Africa will get the second part of Doctor Who's series seven just one day after each of the eight episodes is shown in the UK, it was announced this week by BBC Worldwide. I dunno, those British TV shows, they go over to Poland and take over their television ... The episodes will be broadcast on BBC Entertainment, starting on Sunday 31 March at 6pm in Poland and 7pm in South Africa. Jon Farrar, the vice-president of programming for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at BBC Worldwide Channels, said: 'It's a very important part of our programming strategy to bring our acquired content to air as close to its UK transmission as possible. Doctor Who is a hugely popular programme and I'm delighted we are able to bring The Doctor's latest adventures to Polish and South African audiences just one day after the UK premiere transmission.' BBC America and SPACE in Canada will be launching the second part of series seven on Saturday 30 March in line with the UK.

The BBC's incoming director general wants to use dramas such as Wolf Hall and The White Queen to make the corporation 'an international cultural beacon for the UK.' Lord Hall, the outgoing chief executive of the Royal Opera House, takes up his new role on 2 April. The BBC's controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson, who has met Hall twice since the latter's appointment in November, said that Hall talked about the BBC's 'cultural legacy and impact.' Stephenson added that they had also talked about 'what does that mean and what does it mean as an international broadcaster in the modern age, but crucially without losing our values. It's exporting what we are, the Danny Boyle philosophy of Britain exporting what we are to the world and the world will come, rather than pretending, dressing up in the clothes of Hollywood.' He added: 'The two conversations I have had with Lord Hall have emphasised the point that we are a cultural organisation, we are there to aim higher, which doesn't mean being niché. It just means being incredibly ambitious for our audience.' Janet McTeer will star in BBC1's ten-part adaptation of Philippa Gregory's The White Queen, while Elisabeth Moss will appear in Jane Campion's six-part BBC2 drama, Top of the Lake. Hilary Mantel's Booker prize-winning Wolf Hall is also being adapted for BBC2. Stephenson said it would be Hall's job to 'unveil his vision' for the BBC when he arrives in April. 'He has run the Royal Opera House in the most inspiring way – he has made it higher quality than ever, more accessible than ever, varied and interesting with a mixture of traditional and modern. I think all of those elements will be what we aim for,' he added. 'The other thing we have talked about is its role as an international cultural organisation. In some ways the word "international" for television drama is a dirty word – it suggests co-productions where the budget comes first. But one of the things we talked about is when you have Elisabeth Moss in a drama or you work with Jane Campion or Idris Elba comes back from America to make a drama it makes us feel more confident and excited that the BBC is offering something different and special.' Hall's ambition to reinforce the BBC's international role and reputation echoes the sentiments of The Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci's BAFTA lecture last year, albeit in rather different language. Iannucci said TV executives had to be 'more aggressive in promoting what makes British TV so good. Be ambitious, arrogant even, in how we sell it to the world. The BBC brand is up there with Apple and Google, I want it to go abroad and prostitute itself to blue buggery in how it sells and makes money from its content.' Stephenson said: 'I think we are sometimes a bit shy. I think we should be out there. The truth is when we go to America they talk about how great they are, but they talk about how great the drama is coming from the UK. Generally that means – not on all occasions – generally that means from the BBC and the world is jealous of what the BBC has. We can hold our heads up high and be even more ambitious.' Stephenson, who unveiled a new BBC drama slate on Monday night featuring a new Saturday teatime fantasy, Atlantis and adaptation of PD James's Death Comes To Pemberley and a 3D fiftieth anniversary special of Doctor Who, said he would not be leaving the BBC to fill the vacant drama chief slot at ITV. Which, frankly, a lot of us were rather relieved about. 'I am not going to ITV, I am very happy here,' said Stephenson, who has been touted as a future channel controller, possibly of BBC1, if incumbent Danny Cohen gets the vacant BBC director of vision job. 'I have no idea what I will do next,' said Stephenson. 'I have been doing this job for four years but it is only three years of drama on screen. It takes a long time to make drama. I love it, I have got no plans.'
As reported in a previous blog update, six former Scum of the World features and showbusiness journalists, two of whom now work for the Sun, have been extremely arrested by Scotland Yard officers investigating a new phone-hacking conspiracy at the disgraced and disgraceful former tabloid, shut in shame and ignominy in 2011. In a dramatic twist to the phone-hacking scandal, police said that they had 'identified a further suspected conspiracy' to intercept voicemail messages by three men and three women which is alleged to have taken place between 2005 and 2006. Those arrested have been claimed by several media sources - particularly the Gruniad Morning Star in a crowing, self-satisfied piece - to include the Scum of the World's former showbusiness columnist Rav Singh. The two Sun journalists arrested are understood to be the editor of the paper's Fabulous magazine and its northern features editor. Rachel Richardson, Fabulous editor, was taken to a London police station, while the Sun's northern features editor, Jane Atkinson, was detained in Cheshire. Both are being questioned in connection with an alleged conspiracy to intercept telephone messages during 2005 and 2006, when they were employed on the Scum of the World. The remaining three arrested on Wednesday are understood to be ex-Scum of the World features editor Jules Stenson, Matt Nixson, a former features journalist who spent five years at the Scum of the World and Polly Graham, a former showbusiness journalist on the disgraced and disgraceful tabloid. Announcing the arrests, the Met said that they came about 'as part of the new lines of inquiry' being investigated by Scotland Yard: 'This suspected conspiracy is believed to have taken place primarily during 2005 to 2006. It is separate from the alleged conspiracy already being investigated by Operation Weeting in which a number of people have been charged.' Among those already facing a range of charges related to phone-hacking are two former Scum of the World editors, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and the prime minister's former 'chum' Andy Coulson. An internal message has been sent to News International employees confirming that two of those arrested are journalists currently working for the Sun. The pair were provided with lawyers by the company. The arrests bring the number of people, including police officers and other public officials, detained in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal that closed the Scum of the World in July 2011 to more than one hundred. The number of Sun journalists arrested has now risen to twenty four. The arrests reportedly came as a shock to News International, which recently announced that it was about to close its private compensation scheme for phone-hacking victims. Jules Stenson, one of the most senior of the journalists detained, is currently working at the celebrity PR agency AOB. Nixson worked with Stenson as head of features on the Scum of the World before switching briefly to the Sun and is now working for the Daily Scum Mail. Singh, who had a high profile showbusiness column in the paper was also its assistant showbiz editor and has since moved into TV production. Graham left the paper in early 2005 and is now a freelance writer and columnist. Richardson, a former showbiz and digital editor on the Scum of the World, was appointed editor of Fabulous magazine in January 2011, when it was still a supplement of the Sunday title. Fabulous was moved to the Sun after the Scum of the World closed in disgrace at the height of public outrage over the phone-hacking scandal in 2011. Atkinson was the chief features writer for the Scum of the World before moving to the Sun as its northern features editor.

The Prince of Wales is to guest-edit a special edition of Countryfile to mark the BBC1 show's twenty fifth anniversary. The episode was filmed at the prince's organic farm in Gloucestershire and follows him as he visits projects he set up to help rural workers. Prince Charles was keen to get involved with the programme, which also sees him attend an inner-city school where pupils grow their own vegetables. The episode will be broadcast on BBC1 in March. Bill Lyons, Countryfile's executive editor, said: 'It's our twenty fifth anniversary - we were looking for a special way to mark that and [the prince] was very much up for that. We'd heard a rumour that Countryfile might have some viewers in very high places and as it turned out, Prince Charles was very warm to the idea of joining us.' Filming for the show began at Highgrove during the September harvest and has continued throughout an exceptionally cold winter. 'It's the bleakest time of the farming year,' Lyons said. 'That says a lot about Prince Charles's commitment to rural affairs, seeing the countryside at a time when it goes to sleep for the winter - a time for reflection.' The programme sees the prince visit farmers including Paul and Jennifer Johnson, who raise sheep on the fells of Upper Teesdale in County Durham fifteen hundred feet above sea-level and one of the harshest landscapes in the country. Prince Charles also visits a school in South London which has seen its commitment to reconnect pupils with the soil coincide with improved exam results. While last weekend he was filmed at the hedge-laying competition he holds at Highgrove every year for people from all over the country who share his passion for hedges. 'He's not at all afraid to get his hands dirty and show the way he cuts back and replants,' Lyons said. 'It was all we could do to persuade him to stop!' The prince, who was interviewed by Countryfile's regular hosts Julia Bradbury and Matt Baker, is said to be a big fan of the show, telling last month's Oxford Farming Conference: 'Is it not quite revealing that the BBC's Countryfile programme has become so tremendously popular? Ever since they moved it to its primetime slot on a Sunday night, it has become one of their most successful television programmes, with over seven million viewers a week. There is evidently a thirst for the countryside and for the culture it represents.' Lyons, who hinted that the programme could use other guest editors in future, said the show would have Prince Charles's stamp on it, adding: 'It was very helpful to have his views because he has such a singular vision in every way. He has a strong sense of the history of the countryside and, as the heir to the throne, he has absolute interest in its future.'

James Harding, the former editor of The Times, has been in talks with the BBC's incoming director general, Tony Hall, about the possibility of taking a senior position within the corporation. Although, according to a typically shit-stirring and trouble-making piece in the odious Gruniad Morning Star, they did not talk about a specific position. However, there have been rumours within the BBC - the Gruniad claims - that Hall was considering Harding as his second in command, deputy director general. Hall has several senior positions vacant, including the director of news. It is a matter of public record that he has spoken to a number of people about filling key posts. Similarly, Harding has been approached about a number of jobs since he resigned from The Times editorship on 12 December last year. The Gruniad says it 'understands' that Harding regarded the BBC talks as 'positive' even though they have yet to result in a concrete job offer. Harding's resignation after five years as editor came as a shock. He told staff at the time that he did so after being told that billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch wanted to replace him. It caused controversy because Murdoch's replacement, The Sunday Times editor John Witherow, did not gain the prior approval of The Times's independent national directors. Their refusal to rubber-stamp Withrow's appointment means that he was made 'acting editor', which remains the case. Harding took a holiday immediately after the furore surrounding his departure and has kept a low profile since. But he is regarded as having done a good job at The Times, so he has unsurprisingly received several approaches. He has leadership experience and aged just forty four he was bound to be in the running for a top job of some kind. Hall, who takes over as director general in early April, is in the process of filling a number of senior positions at the BBC. Helen Boaden, the BBC director of news, has been offered the vacant position of director of audio and music, overseeing all the corporation's national radio stations. The deputy director general role has not been filled since the departure of Mark Byford in early 2011. However, following the management turmoil that engulfed the BBC in the autumn as it struggled to deal with the Savile fiasco, there have been calls for the role to be reinstated. The Gruniad claim that 'observers inside and outside the BBC' (whatever the frig that utterly meaningless statement means other than 'some people') felt that the corporation may have handled the crisis better if a steadying influence such as Byford had been around. One the other hand, others such as this blogger feel that the fiasco was largely media-created and whatever the BBC had said or done some odious scum lice with an agenda would have found fault in it regardless of whether there'd been a deputy DG in place. The BBC also lost another hugely experienced senior manager, chief operating officer Caroline Thomson, in September. At the time it was thought unlikely that Thomson would be directly replaced, but once again, in the wake of the Savile fiasco, the BBC's thinking may have changed. BBC Radio 2 and 6Music controller Bob Shennan had been an early favourite for the audio and music role, which was previously held by Tim Davie, currently acting director general. Davie will take up his new brief as chief executive of BBC Worldwide upon Hall's arrival. The director of audio and music has responsibility for all of the BBC's national radio networks and the production of most of its pop and classical music output across radio and TV. There is, the Gruniad claim, 'speculation' within the BBC that acting director of vision Roger Mosey, BBC North boss Peter Salmon and director of global news Peter Horrocks are being lined-up to take on key roles under Hall's regime - although, frankly, pretty much anything the Gruniad's agenda-soaked hippie Communist lice says has to be taken with a vat of salt. On Thursday Davie sent out an e-mail to staff saying that there would be announcements about senior moves shortly. The Channel Four chief operating officer, Anne Bulford, who has worked at the Royal Opera House with Hall and at the BBC, is also being tipped to work with him again on his return to the the corporation. Hall worked at the BBC for more than thirty years, rising to become director of news before leaving to run the Royal Opera House in 2001.
What is described as 'trenchant' criticism by yer actual Jeremy Paxman and a senior news executive of how BBC management handled the Savile fiasco is to be redacted from the soon-to-be published transcripts of the evidence they gave to an internal inquiry into the crisis. Some of the evidence given by the Newsnight presenter and by Peter Horrocks, who as global news director is responsible for the World Service and BBC World News channel, to the inquiry overseen by the former head of Sky News, Nick Pollard, was 'potentially defamatory' and has been removed by lawyers, according to alleged - though entirely anonymous - 'sources' quoted in yet another typically shit-stirring and trouble-making agenda-smear piece of shite in, of course, the Gruniad Morning Star. They really are a piece of work, those fekkers. It is understood that Paxman and Horrocks were particularly critical of how senior BBC News management handled the Savile fiasco in the autumn. However, the Gruniad claims that it 'also understands' overall less than ten per cent of the soon-to-be published Pollard Review transcripts will be redacted. Who told them this, they don't say which, once again, should make any sensible person reading this smell a big fat rat. The BBC published the findings of Pollard's inquiry in December, on the corporation's handling of Newsnight's abandoned Savile investigation, in late 2011, and the aftermath when the story finally broke in October. Lawyers working on the transcripts are understood to have found the task more difficult as when evidence was being given by BBC staff and executives they spoke freely since it was not known at the time that the material was going to be published. However, Lord Patten said before a Commons select committee in November that the annex on which he based his conclusions, including the transcripts of witness statements, would be published. One alleged 'source' allegedly told some louse of no importance at the Gruniad: 'The amount redacted is in single percentage figures, some of it was removed because of legal defamation.' Lawyers are thought to have almost completed their task. Once they have, those mentioned will receive a letter telling them that they will have a chance to see the redacted transcripts and 'raise any issues.' They will be entitled to a short time during which they can make a challenge but there will be no special consideration given to anyone. One alleged 'insider' (not a 'source' this time, please note) allegedly said: 'Lord Patten wants total transparency. But it is going to bring the whole issue up again. People were speaking frankly when they gave evidence.' It is expected that the transcripts will be published towards the end of next week or the week after. They will be approved by the BBC executive and the BBC Trust, which is due to meet again on 21 February. Nineteen people were called for interview over a six week period during Pollard's investigation, including the then director general George Entwistle, former Newsnight editor Peter Rippon, then director of news Helen Boaden and former director general Mark Thompson.

BBC4 has confirmed the details of Goodbye Television Centre, a final one hundred and twenty-minute show bidding farewell to the broadcaster's iconic building. David Attenborough, Jeremy Paxman and the beard of despair Noel Edmonds are among the talent (or, lack of talent in Edmonds case) who will join former BBC chairman Michael Grade at BBC's Studio One to talk about their favourite memories of TV Centre. Broadcast in March, the show will celebrate the BBC's flagship studios, looking back at events such as the power cut on the launch night of BBC2, and visiting the studios used for Monty Python's Flying Circus's parrot sketch, Del Boy's living room, Miranda's shop and the corridors that Alan Partridge ran down with his stolen Stilton. Other guests confirmed to join Grade on the sofa include Penelope Keith, Ronnie Corbett, David Mitchell, Michael Parkinson, Terry Wogan, Mark Lawson, Richard Briers, David Jason and Zoe Ball. Completing the line-up are Phillip Schofield (tragically minus Gordon the Gopher), Gary Lineker, Chris Hollins, Whispering Bob Harris and Fiona Bruce. Victoria Coren will be the roving reporter on the evening - presumably showing thin-skinned scourge of the bullies Fearne Cotton how a proper broadcaster conducts herself when doing unscripted links - and will be joined by Alan Yentob, big shouting Brian Blessed and Barry Cryer. Sounds pretty good. Well, except for Noel Edmonds. BBC Television Centre opened on 29 June 1960. It closes on 31 March. The building is being redeveloped into hotels, flats, a cinema and offices although some of the studios will remain in use.

It will reportedly feature bad language, sexual innuendo, sexism and childish banter, but the BBC hopes that new sitcom Bluestone 42 will make a little bit of TV history as the first comedy about British soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. The BBC3's new eight-part comedy drama about an eponymous bomb disposal unit is to be shown early next month. Filmed in South Africa, it stars Green Wing actor Oliver Chris as wise-cracking bomb disposal expert captain Nick Medhurst, who leads a detachment of soldiers engaged in the deadly task of dealing with improvised explosive devices. The BBC confirmed that it was the first comedy of its kind from the corporation. 'I cannot think of any other UK comedy that is set in an ongoing conflict like this, and it is certainly the first from the BBC,' said the show's executive producer, Stephen McCrum. Bluestone 42 opens with the death of a boastful CIA liaison officer who is killed by a Taliban sniper while Medhurst's team is defusing a bomb. One of the soldiers, Jamie Quinn's Scottish squaddie Mac, makes jokes about his demise soon after. One scene shows the group destroying a house containing an insurgent sniper and, in another, one of the unit, Stephen Wight's Lance Corporal Simon Lansley, impresses his colleagues by shooting and killing an enemy combatant who is then seen falling off a nearby roof. Even before transmission, the series has attracted the inevitable whinging complaints, some from the relatives of members of the armed forces who have been killed in action or served in recent conflicts, who believe this is not a 'fit subject for a comedy.' McCrum, a BBC executive producer with credits including Mrs Brown's Boys, has been in contact with some of the complainants and said that the objections 'disappeared' once he described the programme's intentions. 'When we explained that we wanted to show the human dimension behind the job, the complaints disappeared,' he added. 'We set out to treat this difficult subject with respect.' The series was also robustly defended by BBC3 controller Zai Bennett, who said that the series aimed to show what it was like in the army, including the often grisly banter about difficult subjects. But then, this is the moron who cancelled Ideal so, frankly, like the Gruniad Morning Star, anything he says needs to be taken with much salt, also. 'BBC3 as a channel has dedicated a huge number of hours to the many men and women who are fighting in Afghanistan – many of whom fall into the sixteen to thirty four age range of our channel,' he said. Bennett was referring to a range of factual programmes including Our War, the award-winning documentary series following young British soldiers in combat in Afghanistan. Co-writer Richard Hurst, whose credits include Miranda, said that he was keen not to offend anyone and embarked on exhaustive research to make the show as accurate a representation of life on the frontline in Afghanistan as possible. 'We talked to a lot of soldiers and we had military advisers on set every day,' Hurst said. 'We don't want somebody who is in the army to see this and say "that's wrong."' One adviser, former bomb disposal soldier Liam Fitzpatrick-Finch, said he thought the programme was 'exceptionally authentic.' Hurst said that it was important to begin with a death in order not to 'sanitise' the experience of war. One concession to authenticity could not be met however. In the real war, soldiers are allowed sunglasses outside their base, but in the comedy that was banned by director Iain B McDonald, who said he needed to film the characters' eyes.

BBC2 has confirmed the details of a David Bowie feature-length film, which will chart yer actual Bowie's career from the early 1970s to his recent surprise comeback. David Bowie - Five Years will look back at five key years in the singer's career (1971, 1975, 1977, 1980 and 1983) and then examine his recent return to the limelight with new CD The Next Day. Featuring unseen archive footage, interviews with his closest collaborators and six key musicians who played on his new record, the profile will aim to 'shed new light' on the enigmatic star. The BBC claims to have 'extraordinary unseen footage' of the singer in the studio, on tour, behind the scenes and previously-untransmitted interviews. David Bowie - Five Years will be broadcast in May. BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow said: 'I'm thrilled to be bringing this film to BBC2. David Bowie - Five Years promises to be a revealing look at the life and career of one of the modern era's most influential and innovative performers.' Jan Younghusband, commissioning editor for music and events, said: 'David Bowie is one of the most important international music stars of the past fifty years. His impact on the music industry around the globe is exceptional. The never-before-seen footage in this programme will provide a fascinating insight into the world of this very private person.' Director Francis Whately said: 'This is a project that has been in development for more than a decade, in fact since Bowie and I worked together in 2001 on a film for the BBC Omnibus strand. This year is shaping up to be The Year of David Bowie, and now is the perfect moment for this feature-length film devoted to this extraordinary artist.' Bowie made his first demo fifty years ago this year and has sold an estimated one hundred and million LP to huge critical acclaim. About twenty odd of them to yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self. I've even got one by Tin Machine. But, I don't tend to mention that one as much as, say, Hunky Dory or Station To Station or Scary Monsters. Or, indeed, the several featuring 'The Laughing Gnome'.

One imagines the sounds issuing from the This Morning gallery during Wednesday's show were similar to the occasion when Homer Simpson fell into Springfield Gorge, repeatedly banging his head on the way down: 'D'oh! D'oh! D'oh!' Following Phillip Schofield's hilariously bungled attempt to reinvent himself as The Paedofinder General landing ITV with a bill of one hundred and twenty five thousand smackers plus legal costs, This Morning's standing as the Laurel and Hardy of daytime TV was utterly cemented when the front page of an Italian magazine featuring unpixilated pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge's baby bump was 'accidentally' shown live on-air. Later in Wednesday's show presenter the odious lard bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Eamonn Holmes read out a hilarious grovelling statement apologising 'unreservedly to the Duke and the Duchess.' What was Alan Durban's famous line about if you want entertaining go to the circus and see the clowns? To be fair, the incident did provide the Sun's sub-editors with the best headline of the week: We've made a Mustique.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle player Cheick Tiote has had his car seized by police after being arrested on suspicion of fraud. The twenty six-year-old Ivorian midfielder was stopped by police on Tuesday near the club's training ground in Benton on suspicion of fraud 'in relation to driving offences.' His car, a Chevrolet Camaro estimated to be worth about seventy five grand, was seized by Northumbria Police, who said inquiries were ongoing. The Côte d'Ivoire international signed for the club in 2010 and, on the odd occasion that he hasn't been suspended for kicking people up a-height, he's been really rather good.

The South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been arrested over the fatal shooting of his girlfriend at his home in Pretoria. Police said that a twenty six-year-old man, who they have not named, was in custody and faces murder charges. The precise circumstances surrounding the incident are presently unclear. Reports say that Pistorius may have mistaken the woman for a burglar. Pistorius is known as the blade runner, and was the first double amputee to run in the Olympics. His girlfriend is being named in local media as thirty-year-old model, Reeva Steenkamp. The news that he may have killed her will shock the country as the athlete is regarded as one of South Africa's national icons. The incident is said to have taken place between 04:00 and 05:00 local time. A police statement said that a thirty-year-old woman was 'fatally wounded' in the early hours of Thursday morning at a home in the Silverlakes complex in the Boschkop area of the capital. The woman had been wounded in her head and upper body. Paramedics were at the house when police arrived, but she died at the scene. A 9mm pistol was recovered. Police gave no further details about the woman's alleged relationship with Pistorius. South Africa has among the highest rates of crime in the world and many residents keep weapons to protect themselves against intruders. But the country also has a careful vetting process before awarding gun licences, Erika Gibson of Beeld newspaper told the BBC. On Tuesday, a bill seeking to give police extra powers to arrest anyone carrying a dangerous weapon in public was tabled before parliament, following a spate of violent strikes and protests last year. The athlete's home is in a high-security upmarket gated compound on the outskirts of Pretoria. Pistorius races wearing carbon fibre prosthetic blades after he was born without a fibula in both legs and had both legs amputated below the knee before his second birthday. He reached the four hundred metres final in the London 2012 Olympics. At the Paralympics he won silver in the T44 two hundred metres, gold in the four by one hundred metres relay and gold in the T44 four hundred metres, setting a Paralympic record. For years he dominated in his category at successive Paralympic Games. In 2008 he won a legal battle over his blades with the International Association of Athletics Federations for the right to compete in able-bodied competitions. His achievements have made him a living legend and placed him among global sporting royalty, South African broadcaster and commentator Daniel Silke told the BBC. 'He's a household name, he's a hero in the South African sporting context. He is of course someone who has overcome great difficulty and tragedy in his own personal life,' he added. The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee said that it had been inundated with questions over the incident, but was 'in no position to comment.' The International Paralympic Committee also declined to comment on the matter as a police investigation was under way.

This very evening, dear blog reader, after a week's enforced lay-off due to poor old Uncle Scunthopre being as sick as a dog, The Record Player recommences with a special Valentine's Day event celebrating the best of the eighties. Yes, yer actual Keith Telly Topping lived through the 1980s, dear blog reader. Big hair. Synthesisers. Faux Motown. Gold lamé suits. Staring poutingly at the camera in videos. We did it all. So tonight, to celebrate surviving this, it's Dare versus Lexicon of Love. Well tasty. Thus, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 33(s) of the Day, what y'gonna do but, comply, you know? You get this.
And then this.
You can thank me later.

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