Friday, February 22, 2013

The Future's Here Today

Doctor Who's showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has admitted that he was initially unsure about bringing back The Ice Warriors. The classic Doctor Who Martian monsters will return - for the first time in almost forty years - in a 2013 episode written by Mark Gatiss. But Moffat revealed in an interview over the weekend that he had long considered the Martian race to be 'rubbish' villains. 'It was Mark Gatiss's idea - it was very much his pitch,' the popular long-running family SF drama's head writer said in an interview conducted at the Gallifrey 2013 convention in Los Angeles. 'He'd been pitching for Ice Warriors for a while [and] I wasn't tremendously persuaded, I'll be honest. I thought they were maybe the default condition for what people thought of as rubbish Doctor Who monsters - they moved very, very slowly and spoke in a way that meant you couldn't hear a word they said.' Moffat explained that he was eventually turned around when Gatiss pitched a number of 'stormingly good ideas' for the creatures' comeback. 'It's an absolute cracker of an episode,' he said of the piece, which is currently scheduled under the working title The Cold War. Moffat also claimed that he is 'very busy' planning for the show's fiftieth anniversary later in the year. The writer insisted that fans will get more than just the rumoured hour-long special in November. '[There's] a lot of different things going on,' Moffat said. 'Don't believe the nonsense about one sixty-minute film, that is complete nonsense.' Moffat added that he is 'excited' to shoot Doctor Who in 3D for the first time for the anniversary special, but did admit that utilising the technology presents some problems. 'I think it poses every kind of logistical problem,' he said. 'You can imagine it takes much longer to shoot, every CGI shot has to be done twice, it's a proper old headache. But wouldn't it be awful if some other show was the first one to be 3D - it's got to be Doctor Who, hasn't it?'

Russell Davies has turned down repeated offers to return to Doctor Who, Steven Moffat also claimed. The family SF drama's current showrunner revealed, in the Gallifrey 2013 interview, that his predecessor wants 'a nice long rest' from the series. 'I do keep asking him [to write a new episode],' Moffat insisted. 'The offer is continually made and I'm getting nowhere!' Moffat added that he would have Davies - who served as Doctor Who's head-writer and showrunner between 2005 and 2010 - back on the show 'like a shot', calling the Russell 'the best writer breathing. I think he probably did his duty for Doctor Who so he's maybe wanting a nice long rest from it,' Moffat acknowledged. Davies himself had previously ruled out the possibility of returning to Doctor Who for the show's fiftieth anniversary. 'I have asked Steven Moffat not to tell me what they are planning,' he said, adding that he wants to 'enjoy the celebrations as a fan.'

A new voice encounters the old as Nicholas Briggs confirmed this week that he had taken on the mantle of one of the original voices of The Daleks in the forthcoming Doctor Who biopic An Adventure In Space And Time. Making the announcement on Twitter, the man who has voiced The Daleks since their return to TV in 2005 commented: 'Just did my Peter Hawkins cameo today. Beyond exciting.' He later added: 'You can never tell what will make the edit. But I had a costume and a wig and everything.' Speaking to Doctor Who Magazine back in 2006, Nick paid fulsome tribute to legendary TV voice artists Hawkins: 'All of us who've provided Dalek voices over the last forty years owe him a massive debt. None of us have been as good as Peter, but he supplied our inspiration. He was truly the Emperor of the Daleks.'

Yer actual Jack Davenport is to be the lead in ITV's new 1960s medical drama Breathless. The actor will play a brilliant but charismatic surgeon, Otto Powell, in the new series. Breathless - which has been compared to BBC1's Call The Midwife due to its period setting - has been devised by Casualty creator Paul Unwin. The drama follows the lives of doctors and nurses working in a London hospital, a workplace that hides 'a cauldron of lies, deceptions and guilty secrets, driven by love, ambition and sex.' Opening in 1961, Breathless will be written by Unwin, co-creator Peter Grimsdale and Simon Tyrell. 'I'm delighted to be adding a new medical drama to our roster of returning series,' said ITV's Acting Director of Drama Commissioning Steve November. 'Paul and Peter have created a compelling group of characters at a fascinating point in the history of the NHS.' ITV Studios executive Kate Bartlett added: 'Breathless is an exhilarating and charismatic character drama, set against a glamorous London backdrop. The medical stories and events are there to illuminate and complicate the lives of our key characters and 1961 is a fascinating time in which to explore the changing role of women in society.' Breathless will go into production in April and will be filmed on location in London.

Mary Berry has reportedly signed up for her own show on the BBC. The Great British Bake Off judge is said to be fronting a 'currently untitled project' about teaching viewers to make family dinners, reports the Sun. An alleged 'source' allegedly said: 'Many families don't eat around the same table any more – so the idea of this show is to encourage that by showing people how to make decent home-cooked family meals. As it's Mary there will be plenty of baking tips, too.' Her Bake Off co-star Paul Hollywood has already signed up for his own spin-off show Bread, which will focus - fairly obviously, given the title - on his love for bread-making. Well, it's not going to be about lobster thermidor, is it?
Proposals to punish naughty newspapers with huge fines for breaches of privacy and for libel if they do not join the new press regulator are - allegedly - 'unlawful' three lawyers have claimed. The three leading QCs - Lord Pannick, Desmond Browne and Antony White - have said that separate proposals from the Conservative party and Lord Justice Leveson to use the threat of big fines to encourage newspapers to join a new self-regulatory body are 'inconsistent with authority', incompatible with article ten of the European Convention on Human Rights and 'objectionable in principle.' In a ten-page analysis, commissioned (of course) by the newspaper industry, they said the proposals 'single out for punishment a particular category of defendant', the press, 'rather than a particular kind of conduct' that is objectionable. 'To punish the press for what others may do without punishment is inconsistent with the special importance that both domestic and Strasbourg jurisprudence attaches to freedom of the press,' they add. And this, let's remember, was commissioned by the press industry. So, no quite obvious - and sick - agenda going down there, then. The comments were then, gleefully, reported by the Gruniad Morning Star. The Leveson Report recommends that 'exemplary damages (whether so described or renamed as punitive damages) should be available for actions for breach of privacy, breach of confidence and similar media torts, as well as for libel and slander.' Personally, yer actual Keith Telly Topping recommends lining them all up against a wall and horsewhipping them till they scream and they bubble and they beg - beg - for mercy. But, like the Leveson recommendations, that one hasn't been picked up by the government. Pity, really. Pannick, Browne and White, however, claim that the Leveson recommendations are based on an 'out of date' Law Commission report which was written in 1997, before the Human Rights Act of 1998, which enshrines the individual's right to freedom of expression in law. That however, is surely freedom of expression 'so long as it isn't breaking another law at the same time.' One could argue that a burglar is, by his robbing ways, merely demonstrating his freedom of expression to nick stuff. That won't save him from a spell in pokey if he gets pinched by the bobbies, however. The lawyers said that the 'incompatibility' between provisions for exemplary damages and the Human Rights Act is 'so striking that no minister of the crown' would be able to get it on to the statute books. Pannick, Browne and White are - according to the Gruniad - considered expert media lawyers. The legal opinion of the three lawyers comes weeks after Lord Lester made similarly trenchant criticism of Leveson's recommendations on exemplary damages. Awarding exemplary damages for breaches of privacy by the press would be 'wrong in principle' and could lead to 'the overnight closure' of local newspapers and magazines such as Private Eye, he warned in a House of Lords debate last month about the Leveson report on the future of press regulation. The Liberal Democrat peer criticised Leveson for ignoring 'repeated rejections' of proposals for exemplary damages by successive Labour governments and by Mr Justice Eady, a high court judge. Eady awarded sixty thousand smackers in a landmark privacy case brought by former Formula 1 boss Max Mosley against the Scum of the World, but stopped short of exemplary damages. Pannick, Browne and White also use Eady's Mosley judgment to outline the existing legal authority on the matter. In rejecting exemplary damages, Eady said: 'They bring the notion of punishment into civil litigation when damages are usually supposed to be about compensation.' He also said that exemplary damages could 'not be justified' under article ten of the convention. 'I was not satisfied that English law requires, in addition to the availability of compensatory damages and injunctive relief, that the media should also be exposed to the somewhat unpredictable risk of being "fined" on a quasi-criminal basis. There is no "pressing social need" for this. The "chilling effect" would be obvious,' Eady said in his judgment. Pannick, Browne and White also said that the exemplary damage provisions could impact on bloggers, non-government organisations and anyone uploading content – photos or reports – that might be libellous or a breach of privacy outside the UK's jurisdiction if it were simply available to download in this country. Their opinion, which was delivered to newspapers last month, comes as the government prepares to block amendments to the defamation bill which would put newspapers at risk of having to pay exemplary damages if they failed to give subjects of a story prior notification that they intended to publish. Mosley had argued during his evidence to the Leveson inquiry last year that this should be compulsory for newspapers because it is so difficult to undo the damage of a story which contains libel or breaches of privacy after it has been published. He was not notified by the Scum of the World that it was going to run the story which prompted his successful privacy action and said he had 'spent millions' trying to get copies of the story removed from the Internet outside the UK.
Lord McAlpine is reported to be ending his legal pursuit of hundreds of Twitter users over false allegations linking him to child sex abuse in return for donations to Children In Need. In a statement issued on Thursday, the former Conservative party chairman said that he was 'drawing a line' under potential legal actions against Twitter users with fewer than five hundred followers – but vowed to focus on claiming libel damages from Sally Bercow, the wife of the Commons speaker, over her allegedly defamatory tweets. 'Whilst I reached a settlement last year with both the BBC and ITV, I would like to now draw this unfortunate episode, forced into my life, to a close,' said McAlpine. 'I have dropped all claims against those tweeters with less than five hundred followers, in return for a very modest donation to BBC Children In Need, which funds two thousand six hundred projects supporting disadvantaged children and young people in the UK. I have requested that my lawyers, RMPI LLP, focus on the action against Sally Bercow and that damages arising from this are donated to a charity of her choice. I am not intending to make any further comment on this matter.' McAlpine has described how he was 'consigned to the lowest circle of hell' by the mass Twitter libel, which was sparked by the BBC's Newsnight report on 2 November 2012. Although the BBC2 programme did not name McAlpine (or, indeed, anyone else), it prompted a guessing game on social networks which led to the peer being falsely accused of being a paedophile. At the height of the Twitter frenzy, Bercow tweeted to her fifty six thousand followers: 'Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*' and later added: 'Final on McAlpine: am VERY sorry for inadvertently fanning flames. But I tweet as me, forgetting that to some of u [sic] I am Mrs bloody Speaker.' On 15 November, after McAlpine threatened to sue Twitter users who had named him, Bercow wrote: 'I guess I'd better get some legal advice then. Still maintain was not a libellous tweet — just foolish.' McAlpine is seeking fifty thousand smackers in damages from naughty Mrs Bercow in a dispute which is likely to become one of the first high court libel trials over a Twitter post. His lawyers are in the process of contacting about five hundred Twitter users over messages they posted about the peer. A spokeswoman for McAlpine declined to reveal how many had made the twenty five quid donation to Children in Need. His solicitor, Andrew Reid, told the Gruniad Morning Star in December that 'close to one thousand people' had written to apologise over their online comments after lawyers identified 'ten thousand potentially defamatory tweets.' Some high-profile tweeters, including the Gruniad columnist George Monbiot and the comedian Alan Davies, swiftly apologised to McAlpine after he vowed to take action. However, Bercow has consistently denied that her tweets were libellous and has hired the London law firm Carter-Ruck to defend her against the claim.

Jeremy Paxman told a BBC inquiry into Newsnight's axed Jimmy Savile investigation that it was 'common gossip' around the BBC that the DJ liked 'young' people. The presenter said it was assumed they were girls, but that he did not know 'whether it was girls or boys.' The presenter's testimony is among thousands of pages of transcripts from an inquiry into why Newsnight dropped its probe into abuse by Savile. The Pollard Report, in December, called Newsnight's decision 'flawed.' During his interview with Pollard, Paxman said: 'It was, I would say, common gossip that Jimmy Savile liked, you know, young - it was always assumed to be girls. I don't know whether it was girls or boys. But I had no evidence of it, and I never saw anything that made me take it more seriously than it was common gossip.' But, describing why he felt the shelving of the Newsnight investigation had been wrong, he said: 'These people prey upon children in vulnerable situations and when the children complain they are not believed. I thought that we had behaved just like many other authorities and I didn't like it.' The BBC has published online about three thousand pages of e-mails, interviews and submissions from BBC executives and journalists - although about three per cent of details have been removed. The transcripts include details of comments left on a BBC online tribute page to Savile that were removed by moderators. A transcript of the interview between Pollard and ex-BBC director general George Entwistle includes reference to comments saying: 'One of my best friends in 1972 was molested by this creep Savile. He was never the same again. Killed himself in 1985. How's About That Then?' Helen Boaden, then-director of BBC News, says in the documents that she 'had never heard any dark rumours about Jimmy Savile.' Acting director general Tim Davie said that by releasing the transcripts, the BBC was being 'open and transparent in its handling of this unhappy chapter in our history.' But he said some details had been redacted for reasons of defamation, data privacy, protection of confidential sources, anonymity for victims of sexual assault, potential prejudice to or interference with police investigations or ongoing criminal proceedings, legal professional privilege and confidentiality. He added: 'It has not been an entirely comfortable process for us to go through but it is right that we did it this way. It is important that the BBC now moves forward with the lessons learned and continues to regain the public's trust.' Ahead of publication, newspapers reported that both Jeremy Paxman and Lord McAlpine were upset that the full evidence was not to be revealed. But another paper said the BBC would be 'engulfed' in a mountain of 'deeply unedifying' material. The BBC appears to be in a no-win position. If some of the evidence does prove explosive, it will grab the headlines. If it doesn't, the 'censorship' allegations will become the story. Lord Patten always said some material would be redacted for legal reasons. The BBC says these include protecting the confidentiality of sources or victims of Jimmy Savile, and avoiding the risk of libel actions. BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said: 'These documents paint a very unhappy picture, but the BBC needs to be open - more open than others would be - in confronting the facts that lie behind Nick Pollard's report. "A limited amount of text has been blacked out for legal reasons, but no-one could say that the effect has been to sanitise this material, which again puts a spotlight on some of our failings. We need to acknowledge these shortcomings and learn from them.' The review was set up by the BBC to decide if there were management failings over the six-week Savile investigation, which was dropped by the BBC's flagship current affairs programme in December 2011. The report, headed by former head of Sky News Nick Pollard and published in December, concluded the decision to shelve the investigation was 'seriously flawed' but 'done in good faith.' It dismissed allegations that it was dropped to protect tribute shows to the DJ, who died aged eighty four in October 2011, and who police believe was a dirty old rotter who abused hundreds of children and young people over five decades. However, it was highly critical of BBC bosses, describing 'chaos and confusion' and 'leadership in short supply' - though found no evidence of a cover-up. The BBC accepted the findings in full and the corporation announced a series of staff changes after it was published. Another review led by Dame Janet Smith, looking at the culture and practices of the BBC during the years in which Savile worked there, is expected next year.

Rick Edwards will present a one-off BBC3 documentary about Oscar Pistorius fatally shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The sixty-minute special has been commissioned by the BBC's Fiona Campbell and Mentorn Media executive producer Steve Anderson. Controller of BBC3 Zai Bennett: 'BBC3 is never afraid to tackle current affairs and we are committed to showing bold, thought-provoking programmes for sixteen to thirty fours. Mentorn will be producing this programme at incredible speed, and together with presenter Rick Edwards, I'm sure they will deliver a documentary that will bring a new angle to this ever developing news story.' Anderson added: 'The story of Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp has captured everyone's attention. It is hugely important and Mentorn has the expertise to deliver it quickly to BBC3.' Mentorn is the company behind previous 'fast-turnaround special' Superstorm Sandy: Caught On Camera. It also made the Dispatches: Murder On Honeymoon programme on the case of Anni Dewani in South Africa. The film will be produced and directed by Nick London, and the associate producer is Shekhar Bhatia.

Former deputy prime minister Lord Michael Heseltine was left embarrassed during filming for this week's edition of Question Time when his mobile phone started ringing during the middle of a debate about the economy. Host David Dimbleby commented: 'There's a telephone going off!' However, he quickly realised that it was yer man Hezzae's and not someone in the audience. The Conservative politician joked afterwards: 'My wife is supporting what I have been saying, she is just letting me know.' His fellow guests joked that it might be Chancellor George Osbourne calling to warn him about 'going off message.' Question Time was broadcast on Thursday from St Paul's Cathedral for the first time in the programme's history.

Bay TV Liverpool has been awarded the licence to provide a local TV service in Liverpool, and will now serve around eight hundred and ninety thousand homes in the city on Freeview. Media regulator Ofcom awarded Bay TV the Liverpool licence over rival bids, including Phil Redmond's Our-TV, Irish company Made TV, and Birmingham's YourTV. The Bay TV Liverpool channel will now be able to broadcast using dedicated spectrum on digital terrestrial television, reaching its audience on Freeview channel eight. Bay TV started broadcasting local programming over the Internet in 2011. It is chaired by former Liverpool Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jack Stopforth, and backed by former Liverpool FC star Robbie Fowler and radio personality Pete Price. The new television channel will serve homes in Liverpool, along with Halton, Wigan and parts of Cheshire, with locally made programmes covering news, politics, current affairs, music, entertainment and features. Bay TV Liverpool's schedule will include more than ten hours of local programmes, including tow and half hours of news each day. A weekly politics and local issues debate programme, filmed on location and rotating around the local boroughs, will be hosted by veteran BBC broadcaster Liam Fogarty. The channel will also have viewer participation and involvement across politics, sport, arts, education, religion and current affairs. Alongside launching on Freeview, Bay TV Liverpool will broadcast on Sky and Virgin Media. Bay TV chairman Stopforth said that he was 'thrilled' to have won the licence, but added that the hard work is 'just beginning. Our vision for local TV is to capitalise on Liverpool's resurgent business and arts scene and make it accessible to our local audience,' he said in a statement. 'This city has always been a fantastic source of news and Scousers have a huge appetite for supporting and promoting their city. We have to channel that and capitalise on it.' He then added: 'Dey do, doh, don't dey doh?' Bay TV Liverpool chief executive Chris Johnson added: 'Bay TV Liverpool has been broadcasting over the Internet since November 2011 and has already shown the great potential and appetite for local TV in the city. With the new licence we will soon be on Channel Eight on Freeview and we are one hundred per cent committed to providing a station the people of Liverpool and surrounding areas can really call their own.' He then added: 'Hey, come 'ead, is somebody pinchin' my car, la?' Ofcom - who told the pair of them to 'calm down' (advice which it repeated on several occasions) - has now allocated eighteen of the nineteen initial local TV licences, including the owners of the Evening Standard winning London, STV being awarded Edinburgh and Glasgow, Made in Tyne & Wear being handed the Newcastle licence, YourTV getting Manchester and Made in Television winning the Leeds franchise. The bid for Preston in still undecided whilst no bids were received for franchises in Plymouth and Swansea.

Ask Rhod Gilbert has been cancelled by the BBC. Gilbert revealed the news in a podcast interview, in which he also suggested that he may quit stand-up to become a primary school teacher.

Big Shola Ameobi his very self struck from the penalty spot to send yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Magpies into the last sixteen of the Europa League with the only goal of their tie against Metalist Kharkiv. There, The Toon will join Stottingtot Hotshots and Moscow Chelski FC, but not Liverpool Alabamaa Yee-Haws who went out of the competition on the away goals rule to Zenit St Petersburg. Papiss Demba Cissé missed two good chances to give the Magpies a first-half lead before Moussa Sissoko won the penalty when he was fouled by keeper Olexandr Goryainov after pouncing on a dreadful backpass from Metalist defender Papa Gueye. Tim Krul made great saves from Willian and Jonathan Cristaldo as the Ukrainian side failed to gain an equaliser. Newcastle were unfortunate to go into the second leg merely all-square after a goalless draw at St James' Park. Cissé twice had the ball in the net on Tyneside, only to be harshly denied by the assistant's flag (certainly the first of the two goals was, clearly, onside). He also missed two other good chances to earn an advantage. And the Senegal striker was wasteful again in the first half in Kharkiv when he blew two golden opportunities to pinch a potentially crucial away goal. His first effort after just twelve minutes ended with a weak shot straight at Metalist's first-leg hero Goryainov. And Cissé should have done better with his second chance two minutes before the break. He created the opportunity himself with a strong run before exchanging passes with Ameobi and hitting a strike that was parried away by the Metalist keeper. But Newcastle were finally ahead in the sixty third minute when Sissoko quickly pounced on Gueye's errant backpass and was caught by keeper Goryainov, whose sliding challenge came marginally too late. Ameobi confidently sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot for his fourth goal of the season and his third in the Europa League. Newcastle, who were missing tough-tackling midfielder Cheick Tioté through illness, and defender Steven Taylor - who was rested to the bench - had looked comfortable in a bitty, ill-tempered match. But the goal seemed to free the home side as they finally stretched Alan Pardew's team in the final twenty minutes. Krul was quickly off his line to deny Willian when the Metalist substitute tried to lift the ball over him. And the Dutch keeper made two excellent saves to deny Cristaldo in the space of twenty seconds before being caught with a late challenge from the Argentine forward a few minutes later. Newcastle defender James Perch then made a desperate block as Jaja tried to prod in an equaliser from six yards. But the Magpies, whose twenty-year-old defender Massadio Haidara made an impressive full début at left back in place of Davide Santon, held firm to set up a last-sixteen clash with Russian side FC Anzhi Makhachkala and a long trip to the Caucasuses.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping has had something of a really shitty week dear blog reader. Happens to us all, I know, I'm not fishing for sympathy here. Various different reasons, as it goes, most of them rather trivial (although one, considerably not) have conspired together to muddy to waters of my metaphorical stream and, by the middle of Thursday afternoon, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self was feeling vastly cheesed off with life in general. Thank goodness, therefore, that Thursday night is Uncle Scunthorpe's Record Player night at the Tyneside. This week, for at least a couple of hours, yer actual Keith Telly Topping was able to forget his problems in the company of some good friends and listen to one of the greatest - and certainly one of the most influential - records ever made by anyone, yer actual Kraftwerk's Trans Europe Express. So, before we get on to today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day (and have a quick guess what that is, dear blog reader), yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self would like to thank his friends: Uncle Scunthorpe, Christian and Vicky, Jeff, Ewan and Vicky, Billy and Steph, Chris and Gillian, Mietek and Naomi, Bruce and anyone else I've forgotten who made it such a pleasurable experience.
(There's yer actual Keith Telly Topping, incidentally, right at the back with, as usual, a big white arrow sticking out of the top of his head.) And, obviously, he'd also like to thank The Fab Four their very selves - Ralf, Florian, Karl and Wolfgang - for, you know, inventing modern popular music. This, therefore, is yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day.
Of course, yer actual Keith Telly Topping did consider giving that a miss and going to see Girls Aloud at the Arena. That, as they say, is an opportunity missed.

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