Sunday, March 17, 2013

Nothing Lasts Forever, Of That I'm Sure

Just in case you're one of the four people on the planet that haven't seen the new Doctor Who series trailer - premiered on BBC1 on Saturday evening - here it is. Proper.
The Comic Relief telethon on BBC1 pulled in a peak of 12.2 million viewers on Friday, the latest overnight data has shown. The twenty fifth Red Nose Day special peaked between 8.15pm and 8.30pm during Peter Kay's sit-down massacre. The horrorshow extravaganza (for, admittedly, a good cause), which also featured Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, Jessie J and David Walliams, matched 2011's event by averaging 9.87m - a forty per cent audience share - between 7pm and 10.30pm. Thoroughly odious and risible Piers Morgan's thoroughly odious and risible Life Stories, which last week achieved its best ratings in two-and-a-half years, very satisfyingly plummeted to a completely risible 2.82m sad crushed victims of society for an interview with Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli. Channel Four was unable to surpass the one million viewer mark in primetime, with movie The Bank Job grabbing nine hundred and seven thousand between 9pm and 11.15pm. Meanwhile, Channel Five commanded a healthier 1.16m in the 9pm hour for US drama The Mentalist and BBC2 took 4.48m at 10pm for Comic Relief: Funny for Money as BBC1 broadcast News at Ten. Comic Relief returned to BBC1 at 10.35pm with an average audience of 2.4m from then until it came off air at 2am. Overall, BBC1 dominated primetime with a huge 38.6 per cent share of the audience, thrashing ITV's 17.7 per cent.

It's been a TV series, a novel, a stage play and a comic book. Now, Neil Gaiman's dark urban fantasy Neverwhere is making its first journey into the world of radio. 'I love radio drama more than I love any other medium,' Neil told the BBC. 'There's a specific magic to it. And when it works it's not like anything else.' Neil remembers being captivated as a child listening to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on his father's car stereo. 'The car was on the driveway, my dad got out and I said: "Leave it on, I don't want to miss a second of this."' Now, Neil is hoping the Radio 4 dramatisation of Neverwhere, which began on Saturday, might a have a similar effect on an entirely new generation of young radio listeners. 'Listening to it with an audience in giant stereo was wonderful,' he said, after the official launch of Neverwhere at a Central London hotel. 'It does feel like there is this huge budget film going on - but in your head.' Gaiman, the creator of the Sandman comic, Coraline, Stardust, American Gods and The Graveyard Book, wrote Neverwhere as a BBC TV series in 1996. Even he admits there were some aspects of the production that disappointed him. In particular, the appearance of The Great Beast Of London which turned out to be, in his words, 'a rather sad looking cow. There was enormous frustration making it for television, partly, I think because we were slightly ahead of our time. The generation of people who would make it are now doing things like Doctor Who - they just weren't around then.' So does he think Neverwhere benefits from being on the radio? 'What it gains is an infinite budget,' says yer man Gaiman. 'On this we have a Beast that is Beast-worthy.' The six-part radio series, adapted and directed by Dirk Maggs, stars James McAvoy as Richard Mayhew, a city worker plunged into a strange subterranean world after he stops in the street to help an injured girl, Door, played by Natalie Dormer. The bizarre inhabitants of London Below include the Marquis of Carabas (David Harewood), Hunter (Sophie Okonedo), Angel Islington (Benedict Cumberbatch), the Earl of Earl's Court (Christopher Lee) and Old Bailey (Bernard Cribbins). Anthony Head and David Schofield play the sinister assassins Mister Croup and Vandemar. The idea for Neverwhere came to Gaiman in the 1990s after the former comedian, Lenny Henry, suggested he write a TV series 'about tribes of homeless people in London.' Fearing that he might make homelessness look 'really cool', Gaiman turned the idea 'three or four twists' to create the fantasy world of London Below. More than fifteen years on, he enjoys a 'parental relationship' with Neverwhere. 'I love it in some ways because it's not quite something I could write now.' But the Neverwhere journey isn't over. Gaiman is writing a short story, How the Marquis Got His Coat Back, while a new novel, The Seven Sisters, is also planned. Neil's also been busy writing for Doctor Who - with a much-anticipated Cyberman adventure set to be broadcast during the programme's fiftieth anniversary year. His latest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, is due out in June. In the meantime, he hopes Neverwhere might bring a new, younger audience to speech radio. 'I'm definitely heartened by the number of questions that I'm seeing from the UK and around the world on Twitter and on Tumblr and on Facebook. You realise they don't really know radio, but they know Benedict Cumberbatch and Bernard Cribbins and they know Doctor Who and they know me, so that's definitely helping.' Neil's own daily engagement with radio is somewhat less fantastical than his fiction: he likes cooking to The Archers and even admits to writing with the radio on. 'When I was working on the [2005 film] MirrorMask with Dave McKean he was completely baffled that I could write with the radio on. He thought I'd need solitude or a little orchestral music. But I'm great with Radio 4 in the background - it's like having a friend wittering away.'

Stephen Fry has joined the cast of a new CBS sitcom pilot Super Clyde. The Qi presenter will star alongside Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint - he's the ginger one, apparently - as his butler, Randolph. Super Clyde is the story of a fast food worker (played by Grint) who decides to become a superhero after inheriting a one hundred thousand dollars-a-month inheritance from his eccentric uncle. The show - from Raising Hope creator Greg Garcia - would be the television series début for Grint, but is still, currently, at the pilot stage and in contention for a series pick-up at CBS. It was previously reported that Animal Practice star Tyler Labine will star as Grint's older brother. Grint's character, the titular Clyde, is described as 'a well-meaning and sweet yet slightly neurotic guy who never feels like he really fits in.' Earlier this week yer man Stephen was in St Petersburg, where he met with the scummishly homophobic Russian politician Vitaly Milonov for a two-part TV documentary, Out There, about being gay across the globe.

The final BBC TV network news bulletins are to be broadcast from Television Centre in West London on Sunday. From Monday the entire BBC news operation will be based at New Broadcasting House in Central London. TV Centre has been sold for redevelopment, although the BBC is expected to lease back some studios and office space. The building opened in 1960 and BBC News was first broadcast from the site nine years later. Throughout the 1970s and 80s news bulletins on BBC1 fronted by the likes of Richard Baker, Angela Rippon, Anna Ford, Moira Stuart and Martyn Lewis attracted audiences of up to ten million people a night. Its impact was best demonstrated by reporter Michael Buerk's 1984 report on the Ethiopian famine which subsequently inspired Band Aid and the Live Aid concert the following year. In 1988, as Sue Lawley and Nicholas Witchell hosted the Six O'Clock News, the studio was invaded by a group of women protesting against a law which prevented councils from promoting homosexuality. By 1998, when news moved into new studios in the last part of TV Centre to be completed, bulletins were being broadcast round the clock on News 24, now the News Channel, which launched the previous year. The main TV news bulletins went on to be presented by George Alagiah, Fiona Bruce, Huw Edwards, and Sophie Raworth who, on Friday, hosted the last Six O'Clock News from TV Centre. The final news bulletin on BBC1 will be at ten o'clock on Sunday evening but the News Channel will continue to broadcast from the TV Centre until 13:00 on Monday. The first domestic TV news programme from the new studios at New Broadcasting House will be Monday's One O'Clock News. Staff working on radio news, Newsnight, World TV and the news website have already moved into the one billion smackers extension to the BBC's headquarters. The World Service, which moved from Bush House, is also based there. TV Centre, which was sold for two hundred million quid last year, closes on 31 March and will be redeveloped into hotels, flats, a cinema and office space. The main television studios will be retained and refurbished for leasing out to production companies, including the BBC itself, from 2014.
Detectives are examining an estimated six hundred fresh allegations of phone-hacking incidents at billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World on the back of 'fresh evidence' obtained by the Metropolitan police from a 'suspect turned supergrass.' Further details are expected to emerge on Monday morning at the high court during a hearing relating to the existing litigation by hacking victims against Murdoch's News International – hours before MPs are due to vote on joint Labour and Liberal Democrat amendments which would introduce a backstop law to stiffen regulation of the press and making the bastards conform. Alleged 'sources' allegedly suggested that Scotland Yard detectives believe they can identify 'as many as six hundred new incidents' after obtaining the phone records of an alleged 'insider' who is now allegedly 'being lined-up as a crown prosecution witness.' As a result of all this new information and malarkey, according to the Gruniad Morning Star, the force's Operation Weeting is revisitng the timetable for concluding its investigation, which had been due to be completed with the conclusion of a number of trials this year. Police now expect their work to continue into 2015. The six hundred new potential litigants fall into three groups: entirely new victims, others who previously sued News International over hacking but signed agreements with NI allowing them to sue the company again if further evidence of naughty shenanigans turned up and a third group who signed agreements potentially barring them from suing News International again. The indications are that there may be 'some hundreds of new legal actions' from the first two groups according to press reports. On Monday, the high court will hear formally of 'at least a dozen settlements' out of the one hundred and sixty seven civil claims filed last autumn from individuals including Cherie Blair and David Beckham's father, Ted. Cherie was one of one hundred and seventy victims who chose to sue in the high court instead of going through the NI private scheme, which has so far accepted two hundred and fifty four compensation claims. More than two hundred and fifty people have successfully sued NI including Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Hugh Grant and Charlotte Church - along with plenty of 'the ordinary people' - after they were told by police that they were 'targeted' by the scum Sunday tabloid. But, the opening of a second line of inquiry into activities at the paper will be, according to the Gruniad, 'a fresh nightmare' for Murdoch and NI executives who are busy trying to rebuild the shattered and disgraced reputation of the company before a demerger of the parent company, News Corp, in June. Last month there was a fresh wave of arrests of former Scum of the World executives, believed to have been prompted by this new evidence. Three men and three women were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept telephone communications between 2005 and 2006. Alleged information from the same alleged so-called 'supergrass' also led to the arrests on Thursday of the former editor of the Sunday Mirra, Tina Weaver, and three other former colleagues who were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to hack phones. On Friday, Richard Wallace, former editor of the Daily Mirra and Weaver's partner, was interviewed by police under caution as the crisis at the Mirra Group spread. Scotland Yard stressed that Wallace was not arrested. So far eight former Scum of the World staff, including former editor and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and another former editor and, subsequently, the prime minister's 'chum' Andy Coulson, face a series of charges in relation to allegations of conspiring to hack phones. All deny the charges. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and Coulson also face a number of additional charges related to perverting the course of justice and making illegal payments to public officials. They also deny these charges. There's, clearly, a lot of denial going on in relation to this case. The fresh revelations 'come at the worst possible time for David Cameron', notes the Gruniad, as he prepares to battle in parliament to protect his pals in the scum newspaper industry from what he claims would be 'excessive state-backed regulation.' MPs and peers are due on Monday to debate legal changes designed to tighten media self-regulation and ensure it is placed on a permanent basis. Labour and the Lib Dems are hoping to defeat the Conservatives with their proposals to introduce a law to strengthen the power of a watchdog to audit the work of a reformed Press Complaints Commission. Cameron is not currently due to speak in the Commons debate, since the reforms come in the shape of amendments to the crime and courts bill. But the prime minister will face Ed Milimolimandi across the dispatch box during a statement after the conclusion of the European council summit of EU leaders and may yet be asked by the Speaker to make a Commons statement on why, on Thursday, he decided to unilaterally pull the plug on all-party talks to introduce a new system of press regulation. It is possible that Cameron will lose the vote, raising questions about his authority and judgment though there are still hopes that he would seek a last-minute deal. Mad Hattie Harman, the shadow lack of culture secretary, said: 'I hope that even before we get to Monday we will get that cross-party agreement.' Aides allegedly close to Nick Clegg said that he was 'not planning to talk' to Cameron before Monday about press regulation, allegedly saying that Clegg's efforts were 'focused on securing as large a vote as possible' among MPs for a tough system of regulation. Clegg insisted that the issue should be seen as 'above party politics.' Which it should. But, of course, it won't be. Milimolimandi said: 'The royal charter we propose would create a new independent voluntary system of self-regulation for the press. It has a code setting out the high ethical standards of the best in British journalism, a complaints procedure which is easily accessible and fair, and real teeth to ensure protection and redress for citizens.' Earlier, Cameron had 'welcomed' the move by the other parties towards accepting a royal charter, rather than passing legislation to create a new regulator. He said that it was now 'essential' that the matter was brought to a head and could no longer be allowed to 'hijack' the rest of the Government's legislative programme. News International had no comment on allegations of a second hacking operation at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World when contacted by the Gruniad. It said that it still planned to close its compensation scheme, but would continue to consider 'meritorious claims.' Mark Stephens, a lawyer representing victims, said that Scotland Yard contacted victims' lawyers to say the new allegations relate to the Scum of the World's feature desk and some Trinity Mirra titles. Stephens said that the group had been 'informed of the new developments' two weeks ago. He added that he was told 'a significant amount' of information had emerged. The media lawyer said the police had 'not yet had time' to examine all of the information. 'They are doing so methodically and carefully. But until they have finished analysing it, it is very difficult to say how it will come out,' said Stephens.
The disgraced former cabinet minister Chris Huhne was allegedly 'ridiculed' on his first day in jail, when a prison officer allegedly called him to breakfast shouting 'Order! Order!' it has been reported. All of which would be absolutely hilarious if it weren't for the fact that the report was in a scum tabloid with a record of lying as long as a very long thing so, it's almost certainly not true. Given the fact that the tabloid in question currently has about twenty of its staff under investigation by the Metropolitan police for, alleged, wrongdoing themselves (charges which, of course, they all deny), one would have thought that they might be a bit less crowing over the horrors of a chap's first night in pokey. The alleged officer in question is alleged to have mimicked the House of Commons Speaker by adding over the PA system in Wandsworth jail: 'The right honourable member for Wandsworth North – down to the office,' according to the Sun. And, frankly, if they told me black was darker than white I'd want a second opinion. Other prisoners at the South-West London jail were alleged to have 'roared with laughter' as the former energy secretary went from his cell to pick up the meal on Tuesday according to the tabloid which, let us remember, currently had about twenty of its current and former journalists facing allegations of nefarious skulduggery and naughty doings. Allegations which, it is important to note, all of them deny. As previously noted, denial is a big thing at News International. A Ministry of Justice spokesman 'refused to confirm' whether the incident had taken place or whether any investigation was likely into the alleged warder's alleged behaviour, saying only: 'We do not comment on individual cases.' However, Peter McParlin, national chair of the Prison Officers Association, expressed 'doubt' as to whether the report was accurate and said that if it was, the warder in question would be spoken to about his or her conduct. 'I find it hard to believe,' he said. Well, it's in the Sun, I'm with you all the way, pal. 'It would be the most unprofessional behaviour. Prison officers are professionals. They have got a responsibility to look after those committed by the courts in a humane way. If that were true I am sure that someone might have a word with whoever's supposed to have said that and say: "What's going on here?"' The Sun also reported that fifty eight-year-old Huhne was 'moved to a wing for vulnerable prisoners' because other convicts had 'humiliated and bullied' him. He is said to have asked to be moved to 'the special area' after prisoners badgered him for cash. An unnamed woman, allegedly speaking to the newspaper outside the prison on Tuesday, after an alleged visit to see her alleged boyfriend, allegedly said: 'Someone found out he was a millionaire and as soon as he was on the wing there were loads of people after him. They kept on going up to him saying: "We know you've got money." They had to move him into the segregation block because inmates were bullying him.' Huhne and his ex-wife, Vicky Pryce, were both jailed for eight months at Southwark crown court on Monday for perverting the course of justice when Pryce took the penalty for a speeding offence he committed a decade ago. The pair's first full day in prison was exactly ten years to the day since the incident took place. Pryce's solicitor said the sixty-year-old economist, who denied the charge using the rare defence of marital coercion, was 'actively considering' whether to appeal.

Dozens of people were arrested after police in riot gear were deployed ahead of a football match in Nuneaton. I'll say that again. Dozens of people were arrested after police in riot gear were deployed ahead of a football match in Nuneaton. Nuneaton! Blimey. Warwickshire Police said officers were called out from 10:30 in advance of the Blue Square Bet Premier League game between Nuneaton Town and Lincoln City. Oh, always a potential powder keg that one. British Transport Police and officers from the West Mercia and West Midlands forces helped in the operation. Officers in riot gear began making arrests at The Granby pub from 15:20. A total of sixty two people were detained. They were taken by coach to Nuneaton police station where they were interviewed. Chief Inspector Adrian Knight, who was leading the response, thanked his colleagues for their work on what had been 'a particularly challenging day', adding: 'This operation was a true collaboration utilising resources from across the region.' He went on: 'It was important to take a positive approach from the start of the operation and as a result of that approach a significant number of people have been arrested for serious offences and will now be processed. Warwickshire Police is committed to protecting people from harm, whether they live in the county or are visiting, and we will not tolerate any behaviour which puts them at risk. Anyone intent on causing trouble in Warwickshire should be aware that we will deal with them robustly,' he added. Nuneaton went on to win the game 1-0.

The Mid-Devon council has been accused of 'killing off the apostrophe.' The murdering bastards. Hangin's too good for 'em. The alleged 'backlash' came after the council abolished the use of the punctuation mark in street signs to 'avoid confusion.' Among the apostrophe-challenged, no doubt. Authorities at the council made the decision after 'carrying out a risk assessment.' Yeah. because them apostrophes, they're always causin' risks. The council stated that the decision was made to 'avoid potential confusion in times of emergency.' What, like attack of the killer apostrophes, perhaps? Jesus, have everybody taken a stupid pill today, or what? Founder, chairman - and, almost certainly only member - of the Apostrophe Protection Society (I'm, genuinely, not making this up) one John Richards told the Scotsman: 'It is appalling, disgusting and pointless, they have no regard for the English language. Throughout the area, teachers are doing their best to teach children grammar and the children have the right to say "Why bother?" when the council doesn't use apostrophes.' Two points here; whilst yer actual Keith Telly Topping has some sympathy for Richards's position, 'the Apostrophe Protection Society'? What the hell's that all about? Listen, mate, finding a girlfriend is a much easier lifestyle choice. Trust this blooger, he knows. And, secondly, what the buggering Norah is the Scotsman's interest in a story about a council in Devon? Run out of 'widow in Fife finds tanner in haggis' type stories, have you? ('"Ah shat ma breeks when I foond oot" says neighbour'.) Andrew Lacey, the communications manager at the council, added: 'Our proposed policy on street naming and numbering covers a whole host of practical issues, many of which are aimed at reducing potential confusion over street names. Although there is no national guidance that stops apostrophes being used, for many years the convention we've followed here is for new street names not to be given apostrophes.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a bit of yer actual Roxy Music. With the legend that is Gary Tibbs his very self on bass, mark you! Skill.

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