Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I Should Have Known, You'd Seek My Opinions

Mark Gatiss his very self has confirmed the title of Sherlock's first episode of the upcoming third series. The co-creator and writer of the BBC's acclaimed modern adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective stories - who also plays Mycroft Holmes in the drama - revealed that the episode will be named The Empty Hearse. Gatiss also tweeted a photo of a clapperboard from the set of the first day of filming on Monday, bearing the name of director Jeremy Lovering. The first episode will be, broadly, based on the original story The Adventure Of The Empty House, which introduced the villain Sebastian Moran and returned Sherlock Holmes from an apparent watery grave after the apocalyptic events of The Final Problem. Gatiss previously said of the first new episode: 'There's certain things about The Adventure Of The Empty House which feel set in stone because that's how Sherlock comes back, but at the same time we feel free to invent and to introduce new stuff to it.' Production recently commenced on three more Sherlock episodes, with the first read-through taking place in Cardiff last week.
Yer actual Matt Smith has described Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary special as 'epic and hilarious.' At a screening of the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama's 2013 premiere The Bells Of Saint John, Smith insisted that fans will 'not be disappointed' by the 3D episode. 'I read it and I clapped at the end,' the actor said. 'I think it's hilarious and I think it's epic and I think it's vast. You will not be disappointed. I think it's going to be the biggest and the best and the most inventive, the most exciting year for the show, and this script delivers on all those points that you want it to, for where the show is at this time.' Smith added that the special - an extended episode written by Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat - 'manages to pay homage to [the past] and look forward. I think that's part of the genius of it,' he said. 'I won't say anything about the length, but there's just a bit more bang for your buck.' The Bells Of Saint John - the first of eight new episodes - will be broadcast at 6.10pm on Saturday 30 March, according to the Radio Times.

The stars of Doctor Who have hinted at the introduction of a 'terrifying' new monster in a forthcoming episode. Yer actual Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman her very self were speaking at a screening of the drama's 2013 premiere. 'Towards the end of the season, I don't want to give too much away but I think we may have one of those clever Moffat creations - one of the new classic monsters,' Smudger - who returns as The Doctor - revealed. 'They've got a great name, and they are so brilliant.' Coleman agreed: 'They are absolutely brilliant. They don't chase you, they just come at you slowly, and they've kind of got a style which I find really quite terrifying.'
Meanwhile, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has revealed that River Song will appear in the second half of Doctor Who's seventh series. The showrunner also said that fans can expect 'more answers' about The Doctor's future in upcoming episodes. In a Quest and Answer session at Trinity College, Dublin earlier this month, Moffat discussed the series ahead of its return to screens on 30 March. 'She will certainly be in this series,' Moffat said, concerning the prospect of Alex Kingston returning as River Song. He was then asked if fans can expect more answers to what will happen in The Doctor's future and at Trenzalore, mentioned in the series six finale, The Wedding of River Song. The Moffinator continued: 'Is there more to come about, as it were? Trenzalore and the battle in The Doctor's future that led to the attempts on his life in the past? Is that what you're asking? Yes.' The new series marks the return of old enemies The Ice Warriors and The Cybermen and will, Moffat said, 'answer questions' about the true identity of The Doctor's new companion, Clara.
On Sunday evening dear blog reader, BBC1's Countryfile had a bumper 7.51 million overnight audience at 6.30pm, while The Antiques Roadshow followed at 7.30pm with 6.51 million punters. The BBC's update of The Lady Vanishes drew 6.71 million between 8.30 and 10pm. On ITV, the documentary Our Queen was watched by 5.36 million viewers from 8pm. Earlier, an alleged 'celeb' edition of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? featuring very few people you've actually heard of was watched by but 2.89 million at 7pm, while Perspectives had 2.89 million at 10pm. Not a particularluy good night for ITV, then.

Still on the very subject of ratings, here's the consolidated figures for the Top Twenty Four programmes week-ending 10 March 2013:-
1 Call The Midwife - Sun BBC1 - 10.38m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.97m
3 UEFA Champions League Live - Tues ITV - 9.30m
4 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 9.04m
5 Broadchurch - Mon ITV - 8.16m
6 Shetland - Sun BBC1 - 7.97m
7 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.61m
8 Top Gear - Sun BBC2/BBC HD - 7.48m
9 Twatting About On Ice - Sun ITV - 7.36m
10 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.27m*
11 Mr Selfridge - Sun ITV - 6.93m
12 Ant And/Or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway - Sat ITV - 6.54m*
13 Odious Risible Piers Morgan's Odious Risible Life Stories - Fri ITV - 6.29m*
14 Mayday - Thu BBC1 - 6.16m
15 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.73m
16 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.46m
17 FA Cup - Sun ITV - 5.32m
18 The National Lottery: In It To Win It - Sat BBC1 - 5.29m
19 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.00m
20 Rugby Six Nations - Sun BBC1 - 4.97m
21 The ONE Show - Tues BBC1 - 4.89m
22 Let's Dance for Comic Relief - Sat BBC1 - 4.83m
23 Waterloo Road - Thurs BBc1 - 4.75m
24 Ten O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 4.63m
Programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. I'm not, actually sure which is the funnier of these figures - Top Gear beating the final of Twatting About On Ice or ... no, actually, forget any other scenario, that's definitely funny.

The last TV network news from Television Centre has been broadcast on BBC1. Mishal Husain presented the programme from studio N6 at ten o'clock on Sunday evening, signing off nearly forty five years of bulletins from the site. TV Centre, which has been sold for redevelopment. It first opened in 1960 and The BBC News first went out from the site nine years later. From Monday the entire BBC news operation will be based at Broadcasting House in Central London.
From news you can trust to news you, definitely, can't.
The Sun newspaper has - grovellingly - apologised in the High Court for accessing private information on a stolen mobile phone belonging to a Labour MP. Police told Siobhan McDonagh that her text messages had been accessed after her phone was stolen in October 2010. The Sun - which has not admitted to be being responsible for the theft of the phone itself - will pay the MP 'very substantial' damages. The court has heard 'possibly hundreds' of new claimants are seeking damages from the now defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World after fresh evidence of naughty shenangians and skulduggery was reported to have come to light. McDonagh - who represents London constituency Mitcham and Morden - had her phone stolen from her car in South West London. David Sherborne, representing McDonagh, told Mr Justice Vos that in June 2012 police notified her that they had 'obtained evidence that the Sun newspaper had accessed her text messages from about October 2010' and 'appeared to have accessed and/or acquired her mobile phone.' This, remember, was in 2010 - during a period after the Gruniad had first made its claims about phone-hacking having gone on at the Scum of the World four years previously, to which numerous News International individuals (many of them currently facing a variety of criminals charges, which, of course, they deny) were publicly ridiculing any and all suggestions that anyone at News International had ever, not never, listened to anyone's mobile phone messages. No siree, Bob. A Sun lawyer said that the newspaper 'accepted' McDonagh's mobile phone 'should not have been accessed' - big of them - and added: 'There has been a serious misuse of her private information.' Meanwhile, the boxer Chris Eubank, who appeared at the same hearing, claimed News International had 'destroyed' his life. He rejected what he described as a 'derisory' offer of compensation from News Group Newspapers and alleged that their actions led to the failure of his marriage.

And still of the subject of the odious, wretched Sun, here's the first in a new, semi-regular feature, Tabloid Whopper of the Week: The inaugural award goes to the Sun's Trevor Kavanagh, the odious scum tabloids' representative among the grandees chosen to steer an overhauled PCC, for having the gall in his Sun column last week to cite coverage of the Hillsborough disaster as an example of why 'a free press' needs to be defended. It's genuinely, hard to tell if this odious fraction of a man is at succumbing to dementia, taking the piss or if he's counting on his tabloid's numskull readers' memories having faded. Remember The Truth, you odious shitbag of lice? Justice for the ninety six.

Pressure groups are said to be split over the last-minute deal on regulation of the press. Hacked Off, which represents a substantial number of victims of phone-hacking, said that it would accept the deal after members of the group took part in eleventh-hour negotiations on Sunday night which appear to have resolved differences between the three major political parties. But Jonathan Dimbleby, chair of Index on Censorship, said: 'The Index board of trustees – who all occupy senior positions in roles both within and outside of the media – is dismayed at the course of developments that have been taken in establishing a new press regulator. The board has the gravest anxiety at the residual political powers the now-expected outcome and system will give to politicians. The two-thirds block on any changes to the royal charter could be abused in the future – not least when today's emerging consensus shows that the parties can come together in both houses to agree on press regulation.' Yeah. well, tough. The Hacked Off associate director and former Liberal Democrat MP, Evan Harris, said the substance of the royal charter setting up an independent press regulator had been agreed by all sides and was 'done and dusted. Conservatives essentially accepted the Labour and Liberal Democrat charter,' he said. Harris added that during the late-night talks in Ed Milimolimandi's Commons office, to which Hacked Off were party, there had 'not been time' to hammer out important details of exemplary damages to punish publishers who were not part of a regulator. 'The victims are prepared to accept this compromise. We're not saying it is Leveson but it is near Leveson. The fact there is all-party agreement means the press are much more likely to fulfil their side of what they have to do – which is to set up a recognised regulator and then to join it – but there are still matters of detail to sort out,' he said. 'The victims are very clear that those outstanding matters of detail – which are not on the charter but on the legislation surrounding the incentives, mainly – are just as important to them as any detail in the charter.' Harris added that there had been 'a concession' to the Conservatives on the provision of exemplary damages in order 'to facilitate a general deal. In [joining] a regulator, Leveson said you would be protected [from exemplary damages].' Harris said a new agreement had been settled on Sunday night that meant the press would be 'immune' from such extreme financial punishments unless editors misled the regulator at any point. Kirsty Hughes, chief executive of Index on Censorship, which has battled against any parliamentary press prescription, described the emerging deal as a 'sad day for press freedom in the UK.' Which may be true but it is, on the other hand, a great day for making louse scum journalists sweat at the thought of what'll happen to them if they try to, for example, do a Chris Jeffries on anyone in the future. And that, whether the Index on Censorship like it or not, a good thing. Hughes claimed that the involvement of politicians in the formation of the royal charter 'undermines the fundamental principle that the press holds politicians to account.' Hughes added: 'Politicians have now stepped in as ringmaster and our democracy is tarnished as a result. Requiring a two-thirds majority from both houses for future changes in the royal charter introduces political involvement for all time into press regulation in the UK. It is a bleak moment for the UK's international reputation as a country where press freedom is cherished as a fundamental principle and right. The fact that this requirement is now being applied to all royal charters is a rushed and fudged attempt to pretend this is not just a press law; it resembles precisely the kind of political manoeuvring we see in Hungary today – where the government is amending its own constitution through a parliamentary vote undermining key principles of their democracy.'
The Editors is a 'really exciting' innovation on Monday nights, BBC1 controller Danny Cohen enthused last month, announcing a kind of adventure playground for donnish broadcasters where the likes of John Simpson, Robert Peston and Stephanie Flanders can stretch their intellectual legs. And, to tackle mighty challenges for the mind, freed from the tiresome constraints of news bulletins and Huw Edwards's asinine questions. Now, the new series is almost here, however, it seems Cohen wasn't all that excited: the titular journalistic titans will have to hope news junkies won't already be sated by Newsnight, they've been consigned to a 11.15pm slot, for just half an hour, once a month. 'Does extinction matter?' asks science editor David Shukman, the last hack to be initiated into the elite cabal of editors, in one of the promised items. Possibly not, but he may find that a graveyard slot leads towards it.

Utopia has been given a second series by Channel Four. The critically-acclaimed dark thriller has been given the go-ahead for another run, despite the show's underwhelming ratings. 'Thanks to the extraordinary creativity of Dennis Kelly, Marc Munden and the team at Kudos, the first series of Utopia shocked and delighted critics and fans by turns,' claimed Channel Four's head of drama Piers Wenger. Just, you know, not many of them. 'We are thrilled to announce the further adventures for Utopia's eclectic cast of characters which are already shaping up to be more imaginative, outrageous and brilliantly intriguing than the first.' Chief Executive of Kudos Film and TV Jane Featherstone added: 'The phenomenal audience response to Utopia over the six-week run was hugely rewarding for everyone involved. We are chuffed to bits that Jay, Piers and Sophie at Channel Four have asked us to make another series of Utopia as this means we all get the chance to watch as Dennis unravels his unique and imaginative world even further. I can't wait!' The first series had an average consolidated audience of 1.37 million in its 10pm slot.
A squaddie who objected to being shown naked and drunk in Blackpool on a Channel Four documentary series has had his complaint dismissed by Ofcom. The man, known only as 'Mr A', said that his 'privacy had been unwarrantably infringed' by 999: What's Your Emergency?, after footage of him being arrested, naked - with his tiddler oot and everything - by police while on a night out in the Lancashire seaside resort was broadcast on the show for all the world to see. Or, because this was Channel Four, for about a million people to see, anyway. Ofcom said that the man did have a legitimate expectation to privacy 'in the circumstances', but this was outweighed by 'public interest in broadcasting footage showing the work of the police.' And, of seeing a drunk buffoon with no clothes on arsing about in a public venue, presumably. If someone wants privacy, dear blog reader, it's generally not a good idea to go to Blackpool, get bombed out of your brain on cheap lager and then get your kit off and wave your little chap about on The Golden Mile gormlessly bellowing 'how'd y'like them eggs, missus?' Not that Mr A did, of course. Important to stress that. 999: What's Your Emergency? follows the work of the emergency services in Blackpool, often as they deal with the fallout of the town's party scene. In an edition of the programme broadcast last September, police were sent to deal with two men serving in the army who were found naked and inebriated behind the Metropole Hotel. One of the men, Mr A, was shown being wrestled to the ground by police and arrested after he resisted their initial approach. He was not named in the programme, but his voice was audible when he spoke, and his friend could clearly be heard saying, 'Ozzy, just leave it mate', when he resisted arrest. Mr A's face was clearly visible in a close-up shot of around six seconds as he emerged from the police van. The footage also briefly featured on the show titles. Mr A felt that his 'privacy' had been 'infringed' as the programme makers had featured him on the programme without 'pixellating his face or genitals', or disguising his identity in any way. He claimed that he could lose his job as a result of 'bringing his employer into disrepute.' In response, Channel Four said that earlier in the same evening of the incident, the camera crew had filmed the same men, who at that time co-operated fully with the programme and one even took his shirt off and posed semi-naked for the camera. The mood changed later, however, as when the men were being arrested, one of them swung a punch at the camera operator. Channel Four denied that the men's 'privacy' had been infringed. The broadcaster said that Mr A was found guilty of 'highly antisocial behaviour in a public place' and so his inclusion in the programme was 'clearly warranted.' Ofcom agreed. It said that while Mr A was 'in a vulnerable state' when the filming took place and could be identified on the show, he had 'chosen to take off his clothes in a public place and walk around naked. Ofcom considered that showing this footage as an example of the varied and often difficult incidents experienced by police officers in dealing with alcohol and drug-related offences served the public interest, as did showing viewers the adverse consequences for the individuals themselves of drinking too much alcohol and then engaging in highly antisocial behaviour,' the regulator said. 'Showing such material, in Ofcom's view, helps to develop the public's understanding of the range of situations dealt with by the police and the systems in place to cope with these situations.' The watchdog added: 'Ofcom therefore concluded that the broadcaster's right to freedom of expression and the public interest in broadcasting this material in these particular circumstances' outweighed Mr A's own freedom of expression and 'legitimate expectation of privacy' in relation to the broadcast of the footage of him in the programme without his consent. 'Therefore, Ofcom found that there was no unwarranted infringement of Mr A's privacy in the broadcast of the programme.'

Police are said to be investigating after Frank Lampard's two hundredth goal for Moscow Chelski FC was marred by West Ham United's always tolerant supporters throwing coins and hot dogs at the England player on Sunday. The former Hamsters midfielder celebrated his headed effort in front of the away fans at Torpedo Stamford Bridge, which some might regard and throwing a burning rag onto petrol but, whatever. Visiting supporters reacted angril by throwing objects towards the thirty four-year-old in a game that their team lost 2-0. 'We are investigating instances of coin-throwing,' a Met Police spokesperson said. 'There have been no arrests. Inquiries continue.' West Ham are planning to ban any supporters found guilty of throwing coins. Those throwing away the club's hot dogs are likely to receive a commendation for good taste. A statement from the club said: 'West Ham United will be working with Chelsea to investigate the reports of missile throwing during Sunday's game at Stamford Bridge. Any individual found to have acted in an inappropriate way will have to face the consequences of their actions, including the possibility of a ban from attending future matches.' The incident could lead the Football Association to take disciplinary action. There have been previous incidents of coin-throwing during the fixture. In October 2004, Mateja Kezman was hit by a coin while playing for Moscow Chelski in a League Cup tie.

Wigan Athletic's Callum McManaman is, according to several national newspapers, expected to be thoroughly banned for at least three matches for his atrocious x-rated knee-high challenge on Newcastle defender Massadio Haidara on Sunday. The Football Association is set to take 'retrospective action' following the controversy in the Magpies' 2-1 loss to Wigan. Referee Mark Halsey allegedly 'did not see' the incident, paving the way for the FA's governance department to step in and hand out a lengthy ban. Curiously, Halsey also 'didn't see' the clear handball committed by Maynor Figueroa which led to Wigan's injury-time winner. This blooger always thought that deliberate handball was, also, a dismissable offence so, it'll be interesting to see whether the FA is to take any action against Figueroa as well. Haidara has suspected knee ligament damage after the horrific studs-up tackle and is likely to miss at least the rest of this season and, possibly, much longer. The twenty-year-old, who joined United from Nancy on a five-and-a-half-year deal in January, had been on the pitch for less than ten minutes after replacing the injured Mathieu Debuchy. McManaman who was making his first start in the Premier League, got a slight touch of the ball before following through, studs showing and scything the defender on the knee and thigh. The game was held up for five minutes while Frenchman Haidara received treatment on the pitch before he was carried off on a stretcher. But, Halsey did not award a free-kick for McManaman's tackle on Haidara. 'It was an awful tackle. I have got a boy going to hospital and that's a worse feeling than losing,' said a clearly upset but far more dignified than many people would have managed Newcastle boss Alan Pardew. 'It looks like knee ligaments and he's got terrible bruising on his leg as well. It looked a bad challenge but I didn't realise how bad until it filtered through to us from the sideline.' Pardew's frustration was compounded when Figueroa clearly handled the ball in the build-up to Arouna Kone's winner. 'It is almost injustice you feel,' Pardew told BBC Sport. 'Your team-mate has got a terrible injury and the tackle is not punished. It's difficult - you want to get that extra bit, not retribution, but you want to win the game.' On Sunday the Wigan boss Roberto Martinez - whom this blogger had always thought was a pretty decent bloke - astonishingly claimed he was 'confident' his striker would not receive a retrospective ban - which would rule him out of Wigan's Wembley FA Cup semi-final against Millwall - as a result of television evidence. In a rather disappointingly shallow and surprisingly blinkered and defensive interview after the match, Martinez sounded more like Tony Pulis when saying: 'It is a contact sport and these things happen but there was never any intent.' As has been previously noted, when it comes to dangerous play - and if this wasn't dangerous play then nothing is - the law takes absolutely no account of whether there was any intent or not. 'What you need to look at in those incidents is if there is intention, a nastiness about the tackle. We are not a nasty team,' Martinez claimed. '[McManaman] has not a nasty bone and is not bad-intentioned. When you get the ball and then there is a follow-up it is very difficult for a panel to punish that.' Gotta say, that's a tremendously hollow argument. Whether MacManaman meant to seriously injure the player is not the issue - although, if is was, I have to say, Martinez's defence is equally ludicrous on the grounds that no one imagines for a single second that McManaman deliberately set out to cripple Haidara. And, if he did, then he not only doesn't have any business playing professional football at the highest level, he doesn't even have any business walking the streets. 'If the opposing player had a bad injury, as a club we will contact the player,' added Martinez. Oh, so that makes everything all right then, does it? Wigan's odious rank gobshite of a chairman, Dave Whelan, also had plenty to say on the matter. But, most of it was barely coherent drivel, so this blog doesn't intend to report it.

The Times has - finally - admitted that it was 'duped' into publishing a hoax exclusive about plans for a Qatar-based Dream Football League, offering huge financial incentives to tempt The Scum and other top Premier League sides to join, in an episode it described as 'a journalistic nightmare.' In a column in Monday's paper, The Times's football editor, Tony Evans, conceded that it had 'missed warning signs' about the story in 'the rush to publication.' Evans said that the story now 'appears to have been invented', but at the time 'had just enough plausibility to be seductive.' An internal investigation by the paper's ombudsman revealed that the story, published on 13 March under the headline Sheikhs shake world game, was based on 'an unreliable source' and that other pre-publication checks were 'not sufficiently strident.' The Times previously mounted a robust defence of the story last week when it was first called into question by a French satirical website, which claimed the scoop was 'entirely made up.' But on Monday, the paper finally changed its tune and admitted that it had been 'duped.' Evans said in the column: 'There are times when all you can do is admit you were wrong. Last week, Times Football ran a story that we thought was a blockbuster. The state of Qatar was proposing a new summer tournament that would offer stunning financial rewards to the teams who participated. It was a horrible prospect that threatened to transform the sport but appeared to be a brilliant story. The Dream Football League would turn into a journalistic nightmare.' He explained that Oliver Kay, the paper's chief football correspondent, whose byline appeared on the hoax story, had developed a relationship with 'a contact' who 'appeared to be connected' with the Qatari-ownership of Paris St Germain. Over the months, Kay's trust in this contact grew as he provided tip-offs which later turned out to be true. Evans said Kay called some of the world's biggest football clubs to ascertain whether the latest tip – about the supposed Qatar dream league – was accurate. Some clubs made clear they had 'no knowledge' of the idea, he explained, and others said they had. He added: 'These secondary sources treated the questions seriously. And here is where The Times made a massive mistake. Because so many significant people in football did not laugh off the idea, it seemed that the story could be genuine. The warning signs – that no one had heard specific details of the DFL or seen its plans – were missed. In principle, the idea was possible. There were plenty to attest to that. In reality, the story appears to have been invented and had just enough plausibility to be seductive.' Evans said The Times could have decided to 'ride out the storm' in the absence of any demanded retractions or legal writs, but said: 'We value our reputation. There will be changes now to the way we operate, and an extra level of scepticism will be incorporated into our working practices. But one thing will not change. If we get it wrong, we will hold our hands up and admit it.' In a statement on his Facebook page, Kay said it had been 'a difficult week' and admitted that 'key aspects' of the story were 'based on a contact' whose credibility he 'severely overestimated.' Kay added: 'I still can't fully work out how or why that happened. All I know is that, uncharacteristically, I let my guard down – and in doing so let down myself, my colleagues (not just at The Times but throughout the sportswriting community) and of course our readers, who rightly expect the highest standards of journalism.'

The death of a man who was taken to hospital from artist David Hockney's home is being investigated by police. The twenty three-year-old man was pronounced dead at Scarborough General Hospital at about 6am on Sunday after being driven there from the house in Bridlington. Humberside Police said there were no signs of violence and they were trying to establish what had happened. A post mortem examination is due to take place on Tuesday. World-renowned artist Hockney, seventy five, has been one of Britain's most celebrated artists for about half a century. A major show of Hockney's landscapes at the Royal Academy last year, titled A Bigger Picture, attracted more than six hundred thousand people. He was born in Bradford in 1937, but now lives in Bridlington and has spent the last few years painting the landscapes of the East Yorkshire Wolds. The dead man was subsequently identified as Hockney's assistant, Dominic Elliott. Humberside Police said there were no signs of violence and they were trying to establish what had happened.

Frank Thornton, who played Captain Peacock in Are You Being Served? has died at the age of ninety two. Thornton died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, his agent David Daly said. The actor also starred in comedies such as Hancock's Half Hour and The Goodies. His film credits included Carry On Screaming!, Some Will, Some Won't alongside Thora Hird, Wilfrid Brambell and Ronnie Corbett, No Sex Please, We're British and A Hard Day's Night. His agent David Daly said: 'I have been Frank's agent since 1986 and he has been the most wonderful client as well as being a great friend. He will be sorely missed.' Born Frank Thornton Ball on 15 January 1921 in South London, he wanted to act from his early childhood after watching the comedy stars of the silent film at a local cinema. His father insisted he find a more stable career so he went into insurance, but soon began attending evening drama classes at the London School of Dramatic Art. After two years he was offered a place as a day student and persuaded his father to finance his studies. At the outbreak of World War II Frank, together with his fellow students, was evacuated to Oxfordshire where he found his first job in a touring production. He returned to London in 1941 where he worked for the actor and impresario Sir Donald Wolfit who had re-opened the Strand Theatre to put on lunchtime productions of Shakespeare. Frank was conscripted into the RAF as a navigator in 1943 and, after the end of the war, remained in the entertainment unit where, among his charges, were Dick Emery, Peter Sellers and Tony Hancock. He appeared in the Edgar Lustgarten-hosted series The Silent Witness in 1954 and, a year later, was credited in the part of Inspector Finch in the British film Radio Cab Murder. The next fifteen years saw him appearing in a wide range of small character parts in films and TV series including The Avengers and Danger Man. He also appeared in various comedy programmes such as It's a Square World, The Benny Hill Show, Sykes and Steptoe And Son, as well as movie spin-off Steptoe And Son Ride Again. But it was in 1972 when he took the role of the officious Captain Stephen Peacock in Are You Being Served? that he became known to millions. As the well-dressed and superior-looking floor manager he had the job of keeping the staff of the Grace Brothers department store on their toes. The series, relying on seaside postcard-style innuendo, was an enormous hit with the audience peaking at more than twenty two million in 1979. It was also a huge hit around the world, being one of the BBC's biggest exports. Thornton's experience as a comedy straight man made him ideally suited as the foil for characters such as Mrs Slocombe (Mollie Sugden) who sported a different hair colour every week and harped on about her pussy, and the camp Mr Humphries (John Inman). In 1980, Frank appeared alongside John Cleese in the BBC Television Shakespeare production of The Taming of the Shrew. Are You Being Served? ran until 1985. Thornton returned to a series of bit parts for the next seven years before reprising his role as Peacock in the 1990s series Grace & Favour. Relying on the same saucy humour and the same catchphrases, it saw five of the original cast running a hotel but the format was tired by that stage and the series only lasted for twelve episodes. In 1997 Thornton joined the cast of the long running comedy series Last of the Summer Wine, as the character Truly Truelove. In 2001 he was among the cast for the Lord Snooty-scripted period drama Gosford Park. His last film credit was a cameo in British film Run For Your Wife, alongside Richard Briers, who died in February. A passionate conservationist Frank supported a number of organisations including The World Land Trust and the RSPB. Frank was rarely out of work in a career that spanned more than sixty years, one of that fine school of British character actors which graced both TV and cinema. He is survived by Beryl, his wife of sixty seven years, daughter Jane and their three grandchildren.

From that to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. Here's a reet stone-radge electro-Merseybeat epic from The Fab Four - Copey, Balfie, Gary and Troy. Totally Wilder, baby.

No comments: