Friday, March 29, 2013

Collecting And Selecting Independent Views

Matt Smith has suggested that the character of Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) 'changes The Doctor's view of the universe.' Smudger offered a few tiny hints on this weekend's episode The Bells of St John to the Yorkshire Evening Post claiming that Clara is 'quite different' to any of The Doctor's previous companions. 'Clara reignites his curiosity in the universe and gives him his mojo back, for want of a better word,' the actor said. He added of new co-star Coleman: 'You'll see on-screen she's absolutely brilliant and it's been a joy. I'm really proud of the work we've done and I think it's exciting for the character, he's got a new lease of life somehow. Jenna's inventive, she works tirelessly hard. I like her, which is good because you've got to get on. And I'm really proud of what she's achieved and I'm pleased that it's gone so well for her because I think she's brilliant in it.'

Meanwhile Jenna-Louise her very self has described her Doctor Who arc as 'mystifying but exciting.' The actress told Metro that getting to grips with her multiple roles on the BBC's popular family SF drama had been 'a challenge.' 'It's a hard backstory to get your head around,' admitted the actress - who played Oswin in 2012's Asylum of the Daleks, before returning as saucy Victorian governess Clara in the Christmas special The Snowmen and a Twenty First Century Clara in this Saturday's The Bells of Saint John. 'My approach was to play all three as individual people and trust that there would be a pay-off. It was mystifying but exciting to get the chance to play such a complex part. You never know where it's going to lead.' Jenna also claimed that 'the energy' required to work on Doctor Who is 'ridiculous. The difficulty is you're consistently running,' she explained. 'This isn't like any other show - I've never sat down and had a conversation in any episode. You're talking and moving all the time. I think it's all about finding the tune - at first all I could see were all the individual notes.'

One of Jenna-Louise's predecessors, Catherine Tate and yer actual Philip Glenister will star opposite David Walliams in new BBC1 sitcom Big School. The comedy, first announced in August, is co-written by Walliams and is set in an urban secondary school. Walliams will play chemistry teacher, Mr Church, while Tate is cast as enthusiastic new French mistress, Miss Postern. Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes legend Glenister will play Mr Gunn, a 'lothario gym teacher', with The Thick of It's Joanna Scanlan starring as interfering drama teacher Mrs Klebb. Also cast in Big School - which was originally titled Autumn Leaves - are Frances de la Tour as no-nonsense headmistress Ms Baron, Steve Speirs as miserly geography teacher Mr Barber and rising star Daniel Rigby as music teacher and wannabe rock star Mr Martin. 'Led by David Walliams, it's an absolute privilege to work with such a brilliant cast and off-screen production team,' said Mark Freeland, BBC head of in-house comedy. 'Like my Latin GCSE, nothing can go wrong. At least that's what I thought at the time.' Big School - a six-part thirty-minute series - will start filming in the coming weeks in the London area.

Sir Bruce Forsyth has hinted that he could reduce his role on the next series of Strictly Come Dancing. The eighty five-year-old presenter admitted that he has 'struggled' to cope with the demands of the BBC1 show as he's grown older. 'We've got a meeting [about the show] tomorrow,' he said during an appearance on Loose Women. 'There could be some other little ways of doing it, because it is hard. I'm not getting any younger. This always comes up because of my age.' Forsyth did not present the Sunday results shows during the last series, with Claudia Winkleman taking over hosting duties alongside Tess Daly. An alleged BBC 'source' previously - allegedly - told the Daily Scum Mail: 'Our hope is he will want to continue with Strictly. We love him and want him to keep doing it, although we understand he has to make a decision he is comfortable with.'

Mad Dogs is to be remade by US cable network FX. Because, seemingly, no one in American television has a single original idea in their collective head. At least it has one quality name attached to it, however, so it might not be a complete disaster. The Shield creator Shawn Ryan will executive produce the remake of the Sky1 series, Deadline reports. Ryan first announced that he was working with Mad Dogs creator Cris Cole on a US version back in November 2012. The original Mad Dogs starred John Simm, Marc Warren, Max Beesley and Philip Glenister as four middle-aged friends who take a holiday to Majorca but find themselves drawn into a world of crime, corruption and murder. Two four-part series have been shown on Sky1 in the UK, with a third run already in production. FX's remake will follow a similar premise, with four fortysomething friends heading to Belize to visit their old school friend, where events take an unexpected and dark turn. Ryan will executive produce alongside Cole, Andy Harries and Suzanne Mackie, with Sony Pictures Television producing the US Mad Dogs in association with Left Bank Pictures.

Good old made as toast Brian Blessed is to guest host an upcoming episode of Have I Got News for You, it has been announced. The seventy six-year-old acting legend first fronted the topical news quiz in 2008, when he brought an inimitable and chaotic presenting style to the programme in an episode which is now, rightly, regarded as a bit of a classic by the cognoscenti. Blessed will appear on the panel show in the second episode of the new series on Friday 12 April alongside regular team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton. The remaining two guests have yet to be confirmed. On returning to the hot seat for the episode, Blessed said: 'My favourite TV programme with my two favourite presenters. What an honour to be hosting the show again, it will be a joyful reunion.'

This could definitely ruin a reputation. Mad Frankie Boyle has, reportedly, shown his softer side after buying dinner for a bunch of students. The comic ordered around two dozen pizzas to be delivered to protesters occupying a building at the University of Sussex – where he, himself, studied English literature – in protest at the outsourcing of jobs. Student Michael Segelov said: 'There were so many – it was really nice of him. It means a lot.' Ah. Bless 'im.

It was an innocuous interview about a diplomatic conference that not every viewer would normally have found particularly interesting. But when the BBC got South African civil servant Rufus Lekala's name wrong in an on-screen caption, it ended up causing a far bigger stir than anticipated. Instead of 'Rufus Lekala', the caption called him 'Gay Marriage.' Lekala, chief harbour master at Transnet, South Africa's national transport company, spoke to BBC World News – said to have a global audience of seventy one million – on Tuesday about the summit of Brics nations in Durban. He was accompanied by an on-screen graphic that said 'Gay Marriage', presumably due to confusion with coverage of the debate in America over the legalising same sex unions. Viewers were quick to grab screen shots of the error and circulate them via e-mail as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Transnet, however, elected not to see the funny side of a - seemingly genuine - mistake and decided it could not leave the matter there. Lunga Ngcobo, a spokeswoman, told South Africa's Times newspaper: 'We understood that it was a mistake. But we have asked [the] BBC to explain how this happened. We want them to get the facts correct. We think it's a similar mistake that often happens [with] other media houses. But they apologised after [being] alerted about the error.' The BBC has now said sorry. A spokeswoman in London explained: 'During transmission of a recorded report on shipping in South Africa, a topline aston strap was erroneously transposed by our MosART automation system over a voiceclip from Captain Rufus Lekale from Transnet when the item played out in our 08:00 news bulletin. We apologise to Captain Lekale for any embarrassment this technical error may have caused.'
In the last year they have presided over court cases in which some of the country's top barristers and highest paid lawyers have argued for and against News International and its former and current staff facing legal action over alleged phone-hacking and/or corruption and other nefarious skulduggery, shenanigans and malarkey. But now the two judges who have heard all the preliminary hearings in relation to both civil litigation in the high court and criminal charges in the crown court, linked to allegations of phone-hacking at the Scum of the World and inappropriate payments to public officials by the Sun, are departing for higher office. Mr Justices Vos, a high court judge, and Fulford, a crown court equivalent, have both been elevated to become lord justices of appeal, Downing Street announced on Thursday. They are both expected to be sworn in by the end of this legal year. It means Fulford will not be presiding over the trials of former News International chief executive well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and that of the former director of communications at Downing Street, Andy Coulson, which have been pencilled in for early September. Both well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and the prime minister's former 'chum' Coulson, of course, deny any wrongdoing. The cases which relate to charges that emanated from Scotland Yard's Operation Weeting involve eight former Scum of the World staff. But he was also expected to preside over separate cases involving well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, her husband millionaire Old Etonian Charlie and several security staff, over charges linked to allegations that they conspired to pervert the court of justice. Fulford has also managed all the cases in relation to charges of corruption of public officials, including the sentencing of two former policeman and a former prison officer who were jailed on Wednesday for selling information to the Sun on the arrest of high profile celebrities and on Jamie Bulger's killer Jon Venables. While Fulford has dealt with the criminal charges, Vos has been a stalwart of the civil damages litigation against News International over Scum of the World phone-hacking badness, presiding over fourteen case management conferences so far. Vos is a familiar sight to legions of law firms Linklaters, which represents News International and is one of the most expensive law firms in the country. The firm regularly has half-a-dozen representatives in the high court for Vos's case management hearings. He has handled all the civil litigation cases since Sienna Miller made the first claim in 2010, overseeing the first tranche of settlements last January, including a payout of one hundred and thirty thousand smackers to Jude Law and forty grand to the former deputy prime minister John Prescott. The Scum of the World phone-hacking settlements was one of the highest profile cases of 2012 and attracted so much interest from media and solicitors acting for victims, there was standing room only in the high court's Rolls building. Vos accommodated the hordes by inviting journalists and lawyers to sit on the floor in front of his bench. Last week he was presiding again at the high court as it emerged that there could be up to six hundred fresh cases of phone-hacking after a former Scum of the World staffer allegedly 'turned supergrass.'

She has spent the past year fighting charges related to the phone-hacking scandal at the Scum of the World, but before she goes on trial in September, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks is reportedly nipping down to Australia for a break that, as it happens, coincides with one taken in the same country by her former boss billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch. According to the Australian Financial Review, the former News International chief executive and Sun and Scum of the World editor will be down under over Easter just as Murdoch's staff prepare for a two-week visit from their boss, the man who once said well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks's future was his top priority. The paper reported that the trip is 'a family holiday' – well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks will visit with her husband millionaire Old Etonian Charlie and their daughter Scarlett later this week with alleged 'sources' allegedly telling the paper it was possible Brooks 'could make time' to 'catch up' with 'senior company figures' including billionaire tyrant Murdroch and his son Lachlan, who is based in Australia. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks is currently facing several charges emanating from the phone-hacking scandal which blew up in July 2011: conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and conspiracy to intercept communications without lawful authority. She denies any wrongdoing. Her bail conditions do not prevent her from travelling and do not prevent her being in touch with his former boss or his family. Those who allegedly know her allegedly say she that 'remains close' to billionaire tyrant Murdoch and may even harbour a desire to return to working with him. When she was first charged last year well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and her husband, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie, vowed to 'fight to clear their names.' In a statement delivered on the steps of her solicitor's office, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks declared that 'one day the details of this case will emerge and people will see today as nothing more than an expensive sideshow, a waste of public money as a result of an unjust and weak decision.'

Ex-cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell has said that he is suing the Sun over claims he swore and called police officers 'plebs'. Mitchell has repeatedly denied the claims, first reported in the Sun, though he later resigned from his then position as government chief whip. His lawyer confirmed that a libel writ had been issued, while an alleged 'source' allegedly said that he wanted to address 'the campaign of vilification by the Sun against him.' A spokesman for the Sun said: 'We stand by our story and will defend this claim vigorously.' Earlier, police investigating the incident said that they had passed evidence to prosecutors. The Times and the Gruniad Morning Star reported that the police files sent to the Crown Prosecution Service contained 'no evidence' that Downing Street police officers involved in the incident had lied about their account of the confrontation. The role of the CPS is to examine the evidence to decide if any charges should be brought against the officers. Mitchell's lawyer Graham Atkins has indicated that further legal action could follow. 'I can confirm that I recently issued proceedings for libel against the owners of the Sun on behalf of Andrew Mitchell MP,' he said. 'There are a number of other potential actions being considered but I do not intend commenting any further at this stage.' An alleged 'source' allegedly close to Mitchell allegedly told the BBC: 'He felt that a point had to be made. It is always risky suing newspapers but he felt he had no alternative.' So far four people - including three police officers - have been arrested as part of the investigation into the incident, which occurred in September last year. Initial reports had claimed that the former Conservative cabinet minister 'lost his temper' and allegedly swore at police when they refused to open the gates for him as he cycled out. Mitchell admitted there was 'an exchange' and resigned from the cabinet as a consequence - but denied, and continues to deny, directly swearing at any officers or using the word 'pleb' attributed to him.
An eighty two-year-old man from Berkshire has been arrested on suspicion of sexual offences as part of a probe related to the Jimmy Savile inquiry, the Metropolitan Police have said. The man, who has not been named by police, is one of eleven people arrested so far as part of Operation Yewtree. It was set up in the wake of the Savile fiasco, but the arrest is part of the strand of the investigation looking at complaints against people not directly connected to the late DJ and presenter. The arrested man was bailed to a date in May. The Met have not disclosed what time the arrest was made on Thursday, but released a statement saying the arrest fell under the strand of the investigation they have termed 'others.' Following the death of dirty old scallywag and rotter Savile in 2011, hundreds of sex abuse allegations both about him and others came to light. Last month a Met Police report claimed that Savile had abused adults and children across the country over more than five decades. The NSPCC said Savile, who was eighty four when he died, had been one of the most prolific sex offenders in its one hundred and twenty nine-year history. Operation Yewtree is the Met's investigation into the allegations that have arisen since Savile was accused of abuse. High-profile names who have been arrested in connection with the investigation include PR consultant Max Clifford, alleged comedian Freddie Starr, former DJ Dave Lee Travis and Jim Davidson - all of whom deny any wrongdoing.

The opportunity to paint a portrait of double Booker-winning author Hilary Mantel is up for grabs in a new TV talent show fronted by comedian Frank Skinner and Dame Joan Bakewell. The winner of the six-part Sky Arts series will land a ten grand commission to depict the Wolf Hall writer. All of the finalists will have their work hung in the National Portrait Gallery, where a winner will be selected. The successful artwork will then be displayed at the British Library. Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery, will choose the victor with the other judges. They include the Royal Academy's Kathleen Soriano and Tai-Shan Schierenberg, winner of the 1989 BP Portrait Award. Heats will take place at art festivals over the summer, where competitors will be challenged to portray one of three sitters. 'I love the idea of rolling into town with our portrait roadshow and seeing who's got the guts and talent to step up to the easel,' said Skinner. 'I hope it inspires everyone to tap into their creative spirit,' added Dame Joan, suggesting the series might reveal 'the next Rembrandt.' Portrait Artist of the Year will be screened from November on Sky's dedicated arts channel. The National Portrait Gallery already has one portrait of Mantel in its collection, by the photographer Sally Soames.

New Zealand police say that they have arrested and charged a man over the assault on cricketer Jesse Ryder outside a bar in Christchurch. The twenty-year-old suspect is due to appear in the Christchurch District Court on 4 April, officials said. Police said they were also following 'a line of inquiry' in relation to another person. Ryder is in a medically induced coma after being attacked twice in quick succession as he left the bar. He is believed to have suffered serious head injuries after the assaults and is now in intensive care. At least ten or more people are thought to have witnessed the incident, a police spokesman said earlier. Ryder has a history of disciplinary lapses and alcohol-related incidents. Although he had been drinking before the assault on Thursday morning, police said alcohol was 'not a factor.' The cricketer was in Christchurch playing for Wellington against Canterbury in the domestic one-day competition. The twenty eight-year-old had been due to fly to Delhi to start his two hundred grand contract in the Indian Premier League. He had chosen not to play for New Zealand since a one day international against South Africa in February 2012 after he was disciplined by team management for being out drinking while carrying an injury. Police believe two or three men attacked Ryder outside the bar, before following him to a car park and launching a second, more serious assault on the cricketer. A witness told New Zealand's One News that she could 'hear the impact of the blows' from inside the bar. 'As soon as the fight started there were probably four or five guys that ran out to pull them off him and hold them back while he stumbled off over the road,' the witness said. Ryder's friends and domestic and international cricketers have sent messages of support via social media. New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said he was 'extremely concerned' for Ryder. Meanwhile, the head of the country's Cricket Players' Association, Heath Mills, has flown to Christchurch to be with Ryder. 'The cricket community's very shocked at what's happened to Jesse. It's a sad day for us,' he said. The attack has also been condemned by New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key, who expressed his shock over the 'sinister' and 'vicious' incident.

That marvellous, much-loved British character actor Richard Griffiths has died at the age of sixty five after complications following heart surgery. Richard received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor and a Tony Award for for his stage role as the teacher in The History Boys, a role he subsequently reprised in the movie adaptation. He was also well known for his portrayal of Vernon Darsley in the Harry Potter movie, naughty old rapscallion Uncle Monty in the cult classic Withnail and I, crime-solving chef Henry Crabbe in the BBC detective drama Pie in the Sky and King George II in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. He also appeared in Richard Attenborough's Oscar-winning Gandhi portraying the role of a British journalist and in Martin Scorsese's Hugo. Richard was born in Thornaby-on-Tees in 1947, the son of a steelworker. His parents were both deaf so he learned sign language at an early age in order to communicate with them. Richard dropped out of Our Lady & St Bede School at the age of fifteen and worked as a porter until his boss convinced him to return to school. He decided to attend a drama classes at Stockton & Billingham College and continued his education in drama at the Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama. After a period working mainly in radio and local stage productions, his break into film came in It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet (1975). By the early 1980s, Richard was selected for the lead role in the BBC drama serial Bird of Prey, an early computer-conspiracy thriller. His character, Henry Jay, returned in Bird of Prey 2 (1984). He went on to supporting roles in a number of major films, including The French Lieutenant's Woman, Chariots of Fire and Gandhi. Richard's CV also included appearance in Gorky Park (1983), King Ralph (1991), The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991), Guarding Tess (1994) and Sleepy Hollow (1999). And on television in The Sweeney, Bergerac, The World Cup: A Captain's Tale, Whoops Apocalypse, The Cleopatras, Ffizz, Inspector Morse, In the Red, Hope and Glory, Gormenghast, Bleak House and Episodes. Richard was, reportedly, considered for the part of The Doctor in Doctor Who twice - firstly following Tom Baker's departure from the series in 1981, but he was unavailable at the time. He was also, strongly, considered to take over the role from Sylvester McCoy had the series continued past 1989. Richard also performed in adaptations of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, providing the voice for Slartibartfast for the radio adaptation of Life, the Universe and Everything and playing the Vogon Jeltz in the film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He also appeared in Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler, and was a guest in A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. He was appointed an OBE in the 2008 New Year Honours. Sir Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, said Griffiths's unexpected death would devastate his 'army of friends.' He said: 'Richard Griffiths wasn't only one of the most loved and recognisable British actors - he was also one of the very greatest. His performance in The History Boys was quite overwhelming: a masterpiece of wit, delicacy, mischief and desolation, often simultaneously. His anecdotes were legendary. They were, literally, endless. They would go on for hours, apparently without destination, constantly side-splitting.' Richard is survived by his wife, Heather. The couple married in 1980 after they met during a production of Lady Windermere's Fan several years earlier.

A Brazilian brewer has been warned after 'concerns' were raised surrounding a beer-flavoured ice cream advertisement. The national council of self-regulation, formed by advertisers and companies, is a non-governmental organisation and promotes the code of ethics in advertising campaigns to 'protect minors from harmful influences.' Beer company Skol introduced the unique flavour in November last year, but the product doesn't actually have any alcohol, reports AFP. However, they received criticism over an advertisement on their website and Facebook page featuring a yellow ice cream container with a lid resembling one on a beer can. The accompanying caption read: 'Shall we go to the bar to have an ice cream?' Even though there is no alcohol present, the ice cream cannot be sold to minors as it was produced by a brewing company.

The fortieth anniversary of yer actual Pink Floyd's 1973 Dark Side of the Moon LP is to marked on BBC Radio 2 by an hour-long audio drama written by Sir Tom Stoppard his very self. Dark Side, to be broadcast on 26 August, will incorporate music from the LP as part of its 'fantastical and psychedelic' story. Bill Nighy and Rufus Sewell will be in a 'stellar cast' headed by Misfits star Iwan Rheon and Amaka Okafor. Floyd member, David Gilmour his very self, said that he had found Sir Tom's script 'fascinating. I can't think of a better way to celebrate The Dark Side of the Moon's fortieth-year anniversary,' said the guitarist and vocalist. According to the BBC, Floyd fan Sir Tom was first approached with the suggestion of writing a play based on the LP in 1973. The seventy five-year-old welcomed the suggestion but had 'no idea' how to approach it until recently. Jeff Smith, Radio 2's head of music, said the play would be a 'dramatic examination' of the LP's themes, 'conflict, greed and madness' among them. The Dark Side of the Moon has sold an estimated fifty million copies (including three to yer actual Keith Telly Topping over the years!) and was recently admitted into the US Library of Congress as part of its National Recording Registry. Sir Tom's many stage plays include The Real Thing, Arcadia and the Hamlet-inspired classic Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. He shared an Oscar in 1999 for the screenplay he co-wrote for Shakespeare in Love and wrote Professional Foul, Squaring the Circle and adapted BBC2's 2012 drama Parade's End.
And, speaking of 1973, having, hopefully, survived the after-effects of a perfectly lethal Indian takeaway last evening, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self will be celebrating this most Holy of days, dear blog reader, by doing absolutely nowt. Until tonight, that is, when he'll be attending Uncle Scunthorpe and Sheena Revolta's Glam Slam at the Tyneside. Get down and get with it, Droogies and wear yer star jumpers and yer Hai Karate Aftershave®™ with pride. Oh, and Uncle Scunthorpe, apparently, intends to 'play some Tip.' Which is always worthy of a Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, baby.

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