Monday, February 18, 2013

Times Tide Will Smother You

Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary episode is to be directed by Nick Hurran. Hurran confirmed the news himself while appearing at the Glasgow Film Festival on Sunday. The filmmaker previously directed the episodes The Girl Who Waited, The God Complex, Asylum of the Daleks and The Angels Take Manhattan. Filming for the episode will commence in April, whilst The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) will write the script. Earlier this month, it was announced that the fiftieth anniversary special will be filmed in 3D, with showrunner Moffat promising 'a whole new dimension of adventure for The Doctor to explore.'
Meanwhile, Reece Shearsmith is to play Patrick Troughton in the Doctor Who biopic. An Adventure In Space And Time - which will tell the story of the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama's early days - has been written by Shearsmith's League of Gentlemen co-star Mark Gatiss. 'I first asked Reece [to play this role] about twelve years ago when I started thinking about this project,' Gatiss told the Radio Times. 'We were in the midst of League of Gentlemen and I just remember thinking, if anyone plays Patrick Troughton, it should be Reece. Like the second Doctor, he's small, saturnine and a comic genius. The complete package. He thought it was a fantastic idea and I've kind of nurtured it all this time.' Troughton played the second Doctor between 1966 and 1969, inheriting the show's lead role from the original Doctor, William Hartnell, who will be played by the great David Bradley in the biopic. 'Reece [is] not steeped in Doctor Who like I am, but has been lightly dipped over the years,' Gatiss explained. 'I know he's delighted to be a part of An Adventure In Space And Time.' Also starring in the ninety minute drama will be Brian Cox (no, the other one. He's playing the BBC's head of drama and the series creator Sydney Newman), Jessica Raine (as Doctor Who's first producer Verity Lambert), Drop The Dead Donkey's Jeff Rawle (as associate producer Mervyn Pinfield), Jemma Powell and Claudia Grant. Waterloo Road's Jamie Glover will play the actor William Russell, while the real William Russell, now in his late eighties, will make a cameo as a character named Harry.

Sunday morning saw a re-enactment of an iconic moment in the early history of Doctor Who - The Daleks invading London. Filming for An Adventure In Space And Time took place on Westminster Bridge in London to recapture the famous publicity shoot for 1964's The Dalek Invasion of Earth. This marks the fourth time that The Daleks have crossed the bridge in their pursuit of world domination. As well as the 1964 incursion, the scene was recreated in 1993 for the thirtieth anniversary documentary (More Than) Thirty Years in the TARDIS, and then again in 2011 as part of the publicity for The Doctor Who Experience.
TV comedy line of the week came from Jezza Clarkson on Top Gear. 'If you're watching in America, rugby is a bit like American football, only it's played by men!'
And, in other news, Lewis Hamilton broke the Top Gear Formula 1 Star In A Reasonably-Priced Car lap record on Sunday night's episode. Hamilton returned to the BBC entertainment series for a second attempt at the competition after struggling in wet and oily conditions on his previous effort in 2007. Lewis managed to lap the Top Gear circuit in a Suzuki Liana in 1.42.9, smashing fellow F1 star Sebastian Vettel's previous record of 1.44. 'Holy crap. I'm surprised,' said Hamilton after the winning lap time was announced. Clarkson revealed to viewers that Hamilton had been so annoyed with his previous lap time that he had done a deal with producers to return to the show. Hamilton revealed that the Top Gear challenge was a big talking point among F1 drivers and said that Rubens Barrichello had at one point printed out a T-shirt with 'I Beat The Stig' printed on it and handed out 'The Stig Beat Me' T-shirts to everyone else who'd done the lap, including Hamilton and Jensen Button. The episode, one of the best in a while, also featured cameo appearances by Matt Le Blanc, Bruce Willis and Eric Clapton, the world's first televised game of car rugby and Richard Hammond being surprisingly nice about a new Mexican sports car. Of course, some lice of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star will have hated it. Good.
The romance of the cup does not always generate a lot of love from television audiences, but ratings for ITV's coverage of the FA Cup on Sunday were also not helped by a lunchtime and mid-afternoon kick-off. This season's competition has seen many of the big name teams knocked out at an early stage. Wigan Not Very Athletic's fifth round 4-1 win over Huddersfield Town was watched by an average of 2.5 million viewers between 3.30pm and 6.05pm on Sunday. The match, which kicked off at 4pm, averaged 2.7 million viewers and had a five-minute peak audience of 3.1 million. ITV hit the back of the ratings net on ITV2 with another showing for Toy Story 2, which drew 1.2 million (presumably non-football fan) viewers between 3.45pm and 5.35pm. Earlier, Moscow Chelski FC's 4-0 win over Brentford in the fourth round replay attracted 2.2 million viewers between 11.30pm and 2.15pm. The match itself averaged 2.7 million with a five-minute peak of 3.3 million. ESPN's coverage of Shekih Yer Man City's 4-0 fifth round win over Dirty Leeds United averaged four hundred and twelve viewers from 1.30pm, with a five-minute peak of six hundred and sixty six thousand. Which, given the fact that Leeds were involved may, or may not, be significant. BBC1's Call The Midwife, recently commissioned for a third series and Christmas special, continued to dominate Sunday night viewing with 8.6 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm. It had the better of ITV's pairing of All Star Family Fortunes, with 4.97 million and the Twatting About On Ice Skate Off show, with 5.1 million. Following the 6.5 million who tuned into the main Twatting About On Ice programme at 6.15pm, it has been a really lacklustre year for the z-list celebrity ice dance show. Once again, it was beaten by BBC1's Countryfile (6.71m). BBC2's Top Gear had a total of 4.7 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm, including 1.03 million on the BBC HD channel. ITV's Mr Selfridge, with 5.72 million continued to hold the edge over BBC1's Ripper Street, watched by 4.7 million. The penultimate outing for Professor Brian Cox's Wonders of Life on BBC2 drew 2.6 million viewers also between 9pm and 10pm, including three hundred and thirty three thousand viewers on BBC HD. Overall, BBC1 led primetime with 24.6 per cent of the audience share, beating ITV's twenty per cent.

BBC1's Pointless has - marginally - extended its overnight ratings lead over its ITV teatime rival The Chase. Cult game show Pointless - which finally overtook The Chase last week - grabbed 3.58m punters between 5.15pm and 6pm on Friday, while the equally popular Bradley Walsh show had 3.3m viewers in the 5pm hour. Later in the evening, ITV's Great Night Out was watched by to 3.33m but still lost out to a BBC1 repeat of an old episode of New Tricks, which won the 9pm slot with 4.02m. Great Night Out remains highly unlikely to be recommissioned despite its audience rise over the last fortnight. Meanwhile, Eight Out Of Ten Cats was Channel Four's highest-rated show with 1.54m viewers between 9pm and 9.30pm, adding two hundred and thirty thousand additional viewers on C4+1. Elsewhere, Mastermind amassed 2.28m for BBC2 at 8pm, while 1.13m watched Ice Road Truckers on Channel Five. The Graham Norton Show managed a respectable 3.48m in BBC1's 10.35pm slot. Overall, ITV won primetime with 21.7 per cent of the audience share, thanks largely to its ninety minutes of soaps, leaving BBC1 with 20.3 per cent. A BBC4 programme about The Beatles, Please Please Me: Remaking a Classic, topped the multichannel ratings with a smidgen under seven hundred thousand punters.

Let's Dance For Comic Relief was Saturday night's most-watched show as the biennial dance competition returned with an impressive audience. Hosted by the gruesome twosome, Steve and Alex Jones, the Saturday night charity competition's series five launch averaged 6.75m for BBC1 between 6.45pm and 8.15pm, peaking around midway through the broadcast with over seven million. However, Let's Dance For Comic Relief couldn't quite match its 2011 premiere rating of 7.6m. Before that, Pointless attracted 4.61m, while the corporation's flagship channel also fared well later on with the National Lottery show In It to Win It (5.63m), Casualty (5.38m) at 9pm and another repeat of Mrs Brown's Boys (4.52m) fifty minutes later. ITV's FA Cup fifth round tie between Oldham and Everton scored 3.25m in the early evening, then odious, risible Take Me Out was watched by 3.78m sad, crushed victims of society from 8.15pm and 2.84m watched The Jonathan Ross Show at 9.30pm. BBC1 thrashed ITV in primetime with 25.4 per cent of the audience share versus fifteen per cent. Thanks to impressive performances from Doc Martin (1.04m) and Midsomer Murders (1.15m), digital channel ITV3 propelled itself to third place in the primetime share index - averaging a superb 4.9 per cent ahead of BBC2, Channel Four and Channel Five. BBC2's top programme was a repeat of Dad's Army, which amused 1.54m. Channel Four couldn't top the million viewer mark in primetime - its best showing World Without End being watched by nine hundred and fifty four thousand punters between 9pm and 11pm. Channel Five had nine hundred and fifty one thousand viewers for 8pm's NCIS.

And finally on the ratings front, here's the final and consolidated audience figures Top Twenty Five programmes week-ending 10 February 2013:-
1 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 10.47m
2 Call The Midwife - Sun BBC1 - 10.42m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 9.26m
4 Mrs Brown's Boys - Mon BBC1 - 9.18m
5 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.43m
6 Mr Selfridge - Sun ITV - 7.39m
7 Death In Paradise - Tues BBC1 - 7.21m
8 Lewis - Mon ITV - 7.05m
9 Twatting About On Ice - Sun ITV - 7.05
10 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.04m
11 Silent Witness - Thurs BBC1 - 6.92m
12 International Football: England Versus Brazil - Wed ITV 6.76m
13 Africa - Wed BBC1 - 6.58m
14 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 6.49m
15 Top Gear - Sun BBC2/BBC HD - 6.35m
16 Six Nations Rugby: Ireland Versus England - Sun BBC1 - 6.09m
17 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 6.04m
18 National Lottery: In It To Win It - Sat BBC1 - 5.81m
19 BAFTA Film Awards 2013 - Sun BBC1 - 5.56m
20 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.52m
21 The National Lottery Draws - Sat BBC1 - 5.34m
22 Britain's Brightest - Sat BBC1 - 5.33
23 Ten O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 5.12
24 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.89
25 The ONE Show - Fri BBC1 - 4.79
Let's also have a huge round of applause for Channel Four's Richard III: The King In The Car Park which had final figures of 4.3m punters.

Keith Chegwin became the seventh contestant to leave Twatting About On Ice on Sunday. Not that anyone but the world's biggest glakes actually gives a frigging monkey's chuff about such arrant nonsense and malarkey. Has-beens and never-weres, dear blog reader. A pox on the lot of them and all of their works.
Dazzling Derren Brown has revealed that he may tackle sexuality in a future TV series. The illusionist and master of mesmerism and prestidigitation explained that it would be 'interesting' to attempt to turn a straight person gay and vice versa. 'I was thinking about this the other day - it would be interesting wouldn't it? To take a gay guy and make him straight and a straight guy and make him gay,' he told Gay Times. Brown himself came out as gay four years ago, and has also revealed that he has no plans to marry his long-time partner despite proposed marriage law changes. Last year, Brown's Apocalypse special saw him apparently convince teaching assistant Steven Brosnan that the world had been taken over by zombies. He added that he does not deliberately plan shows just for shock value. He said: 'Controversy has never interested me for its own sake. It's always been about doing stuff that feels dramatic.'

BBC1 Controller Danny Cohen has reaffirmed his commitment to ambitious event drama on the channel with the announcement of an adaptation of War And Peace by the award-winning scriptwriter Andrew Davies. Cohen said: 'War And Peace is truly epic in scale and builds on BBC1's commitment to bringing audiences drama of the highest quality and impact. Told over six episodes, Andrew Davies will bring his exceptional powers of adaptation to this literary masterpiece.' Announced this week, the adaptation of Tolstoy's epic War And Peace will be made by BBC Cymru Wales Drama for broadcast in 2015. Widely regarded as one of the greatest novels of all time, Davies scripts will draw all the elements into powerful focus for a modern audience. Davies said: 'Not just a great novel it's a wonderful read and it'll make a wonderful serial. A thrilling, funny and heartbreaking story of love, war and family life. The characters are so natural and human and easy to identify with and Natasha Rostova just beats Lizzy Bennet as the most lovable heroine in literature.' The novel was previously adapted for the BBC in 1972 with Anthony Hopkins in the lead role of Pierre Bezukhov. That production was twenty episodes long and scripted by future I, Claudius author Jack Pulman.

A psychic television channel faces a - hopefully massive - fine from media regulator Ofcom after two psychics made claims about Michael Jackson and the police investigation into murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Ofcom said Psychic Today was in breach of broadcasting rules over two interviews with psychics Jenna and Crystal. Jenna, in an interview broadcast on 2 June last year, claimed that she once spoke to someone who became 'a very close friend' of Jackson, who died in 2009. 'When we were very young … I told him you will meet Michael [Jackson], and you will be quite close friends and you'll stay at Neverland and you'll write two books on him and then it will suddenly end for some reason, and it happened exactly like that,' said Jenna. Another psychic, called Crystal, claimed she had been used by police in the hunt for Milly Dowler in a programme broadcast on 20 June last year. 'I have actually been called the "psychic ferret" as well because I do go rooting. I'm very nosey and I will burrow and burrow and burrow,' claimed Crystal. 'One of the cases that's actually signed, sealed and delivered and got the seal on it. Was the, oh crikey, the Milly Dowler case. That was going on for quite some time but, that was actually wrapped up and been put to closure now. I think it was early this year or last year. I can't remember. But I was the one that dealt with that one.' Ofcom ruled that both instances were in breach of its broadcasting code, which states that services such as astrology, horoscopes and tarot readings should be advertised 'for entertainment purposes' only. Advertising for channels such as Psychic Today, the licence for which is held by Majestic TV Ltd, are not allowed to 'make claims for efficacy or accuracy' or 'predict negative experiences or specific events.' Ofcom said the breaches were so serious that it is considering the application of a statutory sanction. Although in extreme circumstances this can include the withdrawal of its broadcast licence, it is most likely in this case to be a fine. Two other broadcasters, Big Deal and Fitness TV, which simulcast the two programmes, were censured by Ofcom. A fourth broadcaster, Sumo TV, which simulcast the Dowler claim, was also censured. Ofcom said that the Jackson story, which was described by one of the channel's licensees as 'showbiz puffery', 'clearly implied [the psychic's] predictions were accurate and efficacious.' It said the breaches were 'potentially serious because they may result in consumer harm.' Of the Dowler claims, a spokesman for Majestic TV said the interview contained no explicit claims 'other than as part of a background piece on the psychic — to say she helped police in the past.' But Ofcom said: 'The clear implication of these comments was that various UK police forces had employed Crystal to assist them and that the police would only employ Crystal if they believed that the information she might provide as a psychic would be accurate and efficacious.'

Sky, the BBC and Formula 1 have been cleared over a post-race interview last year in which drivers Sebastien Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen used naughty words. After the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on 4 November 2012, presenter David Coulthard interviewed the drivers on the podium for the live broadcast feed provided by Formula 1 Management. Coulthard asked Vettel, whose podium finish edged him closer to his third straight world title, at 3.05pm UK time: 'Your name is up there as a double world champion. Do you now feel that you've got your hand on one side of the cup for a third world title?' Vettel responded: 'I think there's still two races to go so obviously we see how quickly things can change. Yesterday was a surprise for us. I think would we have started from third it would have been a different race but, yeah, it [today] was obviously a chance to fuck it up, but we didn't do that so we can be very proud today. We have the momentum still, the car is bloody quick, so looking forward to the next two races.' Earlier in the interview, Coulthard had asked race winner Kimi Raikkonen: 'People want to know how amazing it is to win a Grand Prix. Delve deep, tell us.' The Finn replied: 'Last time you guys were giving me shit because I didn't really smile enough. Maybe this time again.' The interview was broadcast live on BBC 1 and also Sky Sports F1. Coulthard apologised on-air for Vettel's 'choice of words,' and the BBC's Jake Humphrey also said sorry afterwards for the use of 'colourful language.' Sky host, Simon Lazenby, also apologised to viewers on Sky Sports F1. In addition, a personal apology was published later on Vettel's website. It said: 'I'm terribly sorry for using the wrong word on the podium and I'm sorry if I have offended anyone who was watching. In the heat of the moment, I didn't use the right words and I apologise.' The BBC and Sky both said that such moments were 'one of the hazards of live broadcasting,' and noted that they had been quick to respond with apologies. The section containing swearing was also later removed from the programme on BBC iPlayer. The BBC told Ofcom that it had written to the International Automobile Federation, the governing body for motorsport as a whole, asking it to remind teams and drivers that they must be 'more responsible' during live interviews. 'While recognising that emotions can run high in the adrenalin-fuelled atmosphere of Formula 1, such language has no place during media events,' the FIA said in its own letter. The body will also consider potential disciplinary action in future. Ofcom noted the 'highly offensive' nature of the terms used, by Vettel in particular, but felt that the action taken by the broadcasters to apologise was sufficient. 'Taking all these factors into account, Ofcom considers the matter resolved,' Ofcom said.

NUJ industrial action is affecting news programming at the BBC on Monday. A twenty four-hour strike against compulsory redundancies at the corporation began at one minute past midnight on Monday, leading to the cancellation of the Today programme on Radio 4. A revised schedule for Radio 4 also reveals that Start the Week, Woman's Hour, The World at One and PM are among the current affairs shows which will not be broadcast live. All have been replaced with repeats. On BBC1, Breakfast did not air as planned, and was replaced by half-hour news bulletins and repeats of daytime programmes such as Bargain Hunt and Heir Hunters. Programming on BBC Radio 5Live and the BBC News Channel has also been affected by the NUJ walkout, and picket lines have been established at BBC buildings around the UK. NUJ general secretary Red Michelle Stanistreet said that NUJ members at the corporation feel 'angry and frustrated at the poor decisions being taken at the top of the BBC - decisions that are leading to journalists being forced out of their jobs and quality journalism and programming compromised.' She added: 'Instead of making sure that the redeployment process works properly in all areas of the BBC, managers are prepared to waste public money on needless redundancies and sacrifice the livelihoods of experienced and talented journalists, at the same time as advertising other jobs externally.' Stanistreet also accused the BBC of failing to 'engage meaningfully' in dialogue, a move which she described as 'an abdication of responsibility for a public service broadcaster.' Up the workers, baby. 'We are disappointed that the NUJ has gone ahead with today's strike and apologise to our audience for the disruption to services,' read a BBC statement.' The corporation argued that industrial action 'does not alter the fact that the BBC has significant savings targets and as a consequence may have to make a number of compulsory redundancies.' The BBC also claimed to have 'made considerable progress' in lessening the impact of compulsory redundancy via voluntary redundancy, restructuring and 'cancelling vacant positions,' and said that it would 'continue with these efforts.'
Proposals to back new press regulations with a Royal Charter are 'a compromise of a compromise,' the parents of missing Madeleine McCann have said. Kate and Gerry McCann said what the government was proposing was not what The Leveson Report had recommended. The Conservatives said their plans for a regulatory system which would be 'tough' and 'effective' and have received a cautious welcome from other parties and a huge welcome from their friends in the press. Gerry McCann said the press had 'lost its entitlement to self regulation.' He added: 'I think Leveson has been quite generous to the press and more than the behaviour of some sections of the media deserve really. They are getting a last chance at self-regulation which for me was actually a step too far. I feel that the press has lost its entitlement to self-regulation over many, many years and I would have liked to have seen statutory regulation, not self-regulation.' When the McCanns appeared before Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into press standards in November 2011, Mr McCann gave evidence of what he and his wife Kate called the 'disgusting and offensive' stories written about them. Speaking on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, the couple said stories that jeopardised their daughter's safety were still being published. Gerry McCann said: 'We still have episodes where things are published which we'd prefer not to be. Madeleine and her safety is often treated with complete contempt.' Mrs McCann said she wrote to a newspaper which had published such a story to complain and the response she got back made her 'blood boil.' Madeleine disappeared when she was three years old in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007. In November, the report on press standards by Lord Justice Leveson - commissioned by the prime minister in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal - recommended an independent, self-regulatory watchdog for the press that would be backed by legislation. The Conservatives (led, of course, by the man who had set up the Leveson inquriy in the first place) decided to ignore its recommendations when they didn't turn out to be what they'd wanted and opposed regulation backed up by statute, arguing that a Royal Charter was the right way to provide legal backing for any new press regulator and, in no way, dropping their pants and allowing themselves to be gobbled off by scum self-interest groups within the media and on both sides of the political divide. Both the Liberal Democrats and Labour supported The Leveson Report's conclusion that legislation was necessary, but both are reportedly close to weaseling out on their own public promises and agreeing on the adoption of a Royal Charter instead. The lousy, waste-of-space shit-scum bastards. Don't vote for any of them, dear blog reader, it only encourages them. Royal Charters are formal documents which have been used to establish and lay out the terms of organisations, including the BBC and the Bank of England, and cannot be changed without government approval. Although they are open to political interferences as the BBC have found out at regular intervals over the years. Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said that he 'sympathised' with Kate and Gerry McCann and acknowledged they were 'correctly compensated' under libel laws but disagreed with their views on new press regulation plans. 'They are wrong to think that the tough new self-regulatory regime requires a statute,' he claimed to BBC News. 'Lord Justice Leveson recognised that the vast majority of journalists were blameless but all will face new and powerful regulation. There are complex practical and legal issues in implementing the new system but the Leveson pathway will be closely followed.' He added that the Royal Charter would be in place to ensure the system was 'independent' and not to exercise control itself. 'The Leveson principles are not being undermined and the provisions of the strict new system, with fines of up to one million pounds, demonstrate that the press has not been let off any hooks.'

There was a dramatic splash on Monday's Daily Lies front page, which barks: Rihanna bottled in street. Alarmed readers were told that the pop singer was 'left bloodied and battered' after a fan 'hurled a bottle' at her in the street. Sounds really serious. Only, turning to page seven, the Lies stealthily discloses that the bottle in question was, actually, of the plastic Lucozade variety. All fizz and no pop?
Richard Briers, best known and much loved for his role in TV's The Good Life, has died at the age of seventy nine, his agent has said. Richard, who was also a hugely accomplished stage actor, had been battling a lung condition for several years. Richard was reported to have died 'peacefully' at his London home on Sunday. He recently said that many years of smoking had been to blame for his emphysema. Famed for his role as the hapless Tom Good in the 1970s BBC sitcom The Good Life, Briers also starred in shows such as Marriage Lines, Ever Decreasing Circles, One-Upmanish, The Other One, Goodbye Mr KentMonarch Of The Glen and a memorably over-the-top performance as The Chief Caretaker in Doctor Who. He also appeared in many films, most recently in British comedy Cockneys Versus Zombies, plus a cameo role in Run For Your Wife, based on Ray Cooney's stage farce. Richard also provided the voice for the character of Fiver in the animated feature Watership Down (1978). He also narrated the much loved children's cartoon series Roobarb and Custard. After a long career in popular television, Briers joined Kenneth Branagh's Renaissance Theatre Company in 1987, and his career moved on to major classical roles. He said at the time: 'Ken offered me Malvolio in his production of Twelfth Night at the very time I had decided to expand my career when I realised I had gone as far as I could doing sitcoms. As soon as I worked with him, I thought he was truly exceptional.' After playing Malvolio, Briers took on the acting challenge of the title character in King Lear, followed by the title role in Uncle Vanya and Menenius in Coriolanus. On film, Branagh cast him as Bardolph in Henry V (1989), as Stephen Fry's father in the comedy Peter's Friends (1992), Don Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing (1993), the blind grandfather in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994). Richard was born in London on 14 January 1934 and was inspired to be an actor by his mother, Morna, a music and drama teacher. Richard was the second cousin of actor Terry-Thomas. He spent his childhood in Raynes Park and Guildford. His father drifted between jobs, while his mother wished for a showbusiness career; she went on to become a very proud member of Equity. His sister, Jane, also became an actress. Richard's first job was a clerical post with a London cable manufacturer, and for a short time he went to evening class to qualify in electrical engineering, but soon left and became a filing clerk. At the age of eighteen, he was called up for two years national service in the RAF, during which he was a filing clerk at RAF Northwood, where he met future George and Mildred actor Brian Murphy. Murphy introduced Briers, who had been interested in acting since the age of fourteen, to the Dramatic Society at the Borough Polytechnic Institute, now London South Bank University, where he performed in several productions. When he left the RAF he studied at RADA, which he attended from 1954 to 1956. He was in a class with Peter O'Toole and Albert Finney, 'who didn't need any lessons at all,' he later recalled. 'I was painstakingly slow in my progress in comparison with them,' he added. 'I knew nothing about acting, I had to be taught everything.' He won a scholarship with Liverpool Repertory Company, and he worked with them for fifteen months, then moved to the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry for six months and then had his West End début. He made his first West End appearance in Gilt And Gingerbread in 1958. His big screen career began with the British features Bottoms Up (1960), Murder She Said (1961), The Girl On The Boat and A Matter of Who (both 1962) and the multi-national The VIPs (1963), followed by Raquel Welch's spy spoof Fathom (1967). His sitcom career began as George Starling in the popular Richard Waring comedy Marriage Lines (1961-66). His other early TV appearances included Harper's WestDixon of Dock Green, Brothers In LawThe Morecambe & Wise Show, Birds On The Wing, The Seven Faces of Jim with Jimmy Edwards, a production of Noël Coward's Hay Fever (1968) and the storyteller in several episodes of Jackanory. One of his final TV appearances was as a dying millionaire recluse in the 2008 Torchwood episode A Day in the Death. He was awarded the OBE in 1989 for services to the arts. Richard married his wife, the actress Anne Davies in 1956. They met whilst working together in Liverpool rep. They had two daughters, the actress Lucy and Katie.

Police officers filled in a witness statement in the name of a force dog following a CPS mix-up. The Crown Prosecution Service asked for an account of a crime from a PC Peach - not realising that Peach was the name of a police dog, the Daily Scum Mail reports. The dog's subsequent statement read: 'I chase him. I bite him. Bad man. He tasty. Good boy. Good boy Peach.' The form was signed with a paw print and pinned up at a West Midlands Police station last week. A photograph of the note then found its way on to Facebook. However, the CPS didn't see the funny side of this malarkey - big surprise - and has since complained over the incident, taking issue with the fact that its mistake has become 'a public joke.' Because, heaven forbid that anyone should think the CPS were a bunch of cretins who don't know what the bloody hell they're doing. Oh no. Very hot water. West Midlands Police's Professional Standards Department has reportedly 'spoken' to the officer who shared the picture - one PC Mark Tissington - but he is said to be 'unlikely to be reprimanded.' Ian Edwards, chairman of the West Midlands branch of the Police Federation, said: 'It's a difficult time for police and sometimes humour is a way of venting frustrations. I would urge our PSD to be even-handed in the way they deal with it.'
For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, we have a message for police men (and, indeed, police dogs) everywhere from the voices of authority. Here, represented by The Smiths.

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