Sunday, March 10, 2013

Week Twelve: We Have The Horizontal & We Have The Vertical. But You Got The Money!

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat could be a very busy man later this month, with the news that both Sherlock series three and the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary special are to begin filming on Monday 18 March. Moffat is showrunner on the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama series – which celebrates its half-century this year – as well co-creator of the detective drama, with Mark Gatiss. Last week, Doctor Who executive producer Caroline Skinner revealed that 18 March would see shooting start on the Doctor Who special, written by Moffat his very self, whilst Sherlock producer (and Moffat's wife) Sue Vertue has since revealed that work on the crime drama will kick-off on the very same day. Thankfully, the first episode of Sherlock – in which fans will finally learn how the famed detective survived his seemingly fatal fall from the roof of a London hospital – is written by Gatiss, while co-executive-producer Vertue should also help free up Moffat to oversee filming on the anniversary special. With Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman increasingly busy with other projects, work on Sherlock series three will be split into two parts, with two episodes filming from 18 March before the final ninety-minute instalment shoots the other side of an early summer break. The Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary special is expected to be shown in November, to coincide with the 1963 broadcast date of the first ever episode, while Sherlock series three is also slated for late 2013.

Meanwhile, director Paul McGuigan will not be returning to Sherlock for its third series. McGuigan confirmed his departure on Twitter, adding that he is 'moving on' to focus on making movies. He directed four of Sherlock's six episodes, and has been praised for bringing an inventive style to each. He tweeted about relocating to North America for his upcoming projects: 'Toronto to New York. Scouting for locations. I guess by now you've worked out that sadly I won't be directing the next season of Sherlock. Sherlock has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my working life as a director but now I have a movie to make. So stay tuned.' McGuigan is about to begin work on two movies, including a new adaptation of Frankenstein. Daniel Radcliffe is reportedly in 'final talks' to appear in the movie. McGuigan will also direct The Man Who, a biopic about The Beatles manager Brian Epstein.

Will The Doctor be facing another enemy from the past in the second half of series seven as well as The Cybermen and The Ice Warriors? According to the - ever reliable - Daily Scum Mail, a monster glimpsed in a recently released picture from one of Neil Cross' two episodes - The Rings of Akhaten (working title) - is a robot mummy. The Scum Mail goes on to suggest: 'Mummies are servicer robots given their name because of the protective bandages wrapped round their bodies. They faced off against Tom Baker's incarnation of The Doctor in the episode, Pyramids of Mars in the thirteenth series.' Well, it wasn't an episode, it was four episodes but, otherwise, that's mostly accurate. However, before you get too excited, the BBC photo tags officially credit the creature merely as 'The Mummy'.

Odious full-of-her-own-importance horrorshow (and drag) the curiously orange Christine Bleakley is reportedly 'facing the axe' from ITV. Although, sadly, not with an actual axe. The - wretched - Twatting About On Ice host moved to the independent broadcaster from the BBC in a controversial and much-discussed four million smackers, three-year deal in 2010. After which, it all went horribly wrong for her. Which was funny. Her contract runs out this June and alleged 'insiders' allegedly told the Mirra that she will be forced to either take a huge pay cut or leave the channel altogether. An alleged ITV 'source' allegedly said: 'Christine is no longer the golden girl of ITV so a big new golden handcuffs deal is out of the question. If she isn't careful and reasonable in her demands she could be frozen out.' The curiously orange Bleakley and odious greed-bucket (and drag) Adrian Chiles left The ONE Show with pound signs flashing in their eyes to launch the risible Daybreak on ITV. Unfortunately, it was the biggest flop in the history of floppage and the gruesome twosome were, very satisfyingly and publicly, sacked after a year. Which was really funny. Bleakley has, apparently, turned down a number of potential pilots offered to her is said to have been 'very picky' since then, only hosting Twatting About On Ice (badly) and one-off shows such as the dreadful Text Santa and the utterly ludicrous That Dog Can Dance in the past twelve months. All of which have also been, satisfyingly, ratings flops. Another alleged 'source' allegedly added: 'If you are spending millions on talent you want them on-screen, and aside from a Twatting About On Ice series once a year Christine has barely been on ITV. They have not got value for money.' An ITV spokesman said: 'Christine will present the final of the current series of Twatting About On Ice on Sunday. We are in discussion about future projects and hope to see her back on ITV soon.'

You know how, sometimes, you read something but get one word slightly wrong and it changes the whole meaning of the piece in question, dear blog reader? Well, on Saturday it happens to yer actual Keith Telly Topping with this article on the BBC News website. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought it said Chimney fitted on Sistine Chapel roof for pope erection. With hilarious consequences.
Which probably means it's time for yer next batch of Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 16 March
In the first of tonight's final two episodes of the fourth series of Spiral - 9:00 BBC4 - Kolabi is taken into custody and confronted with the mounting evidence against him for the murder of Cetin, while his phone links him to Rodi Ozbek and his arms dealing malarkey. Josephine Karlsson attends court to defend the illegal immigrants who have been victimised by a factory owner and Judge Roban is invited to a mysterious meeting with his former nemesis Prosecutor Machard who seems to be carrying through his 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' thing to the limit. Then, in the - hopefully stunning - series finale, things reach a dramatic conclusion as the net draws tightly around Thomas Riffaut and his gang of anarchist nutters. But, conflict within the police organisation means that dangerous loose ends remain on the streets of Paris. Extraordinary, brutal, award-winning French detective drama starring Caroline Proust, Gregory Fitoussi, Audrey Fleurot, Thierry Godard, Fred Bianconi Philippe Duclos and Samir Boitard. Fear not, at least two further series have been ordered.

Match of the Day - 10:30 BBC1 - sees highlights of the latest matches in the Premier League, including Everton versus Shiekh Yer Actual Man City at Goodison Park and Aston Villains versus Queens Park Strangers. Both The Toffees and The Citizens will be seeking a much-needed victory, with Everton's push to finish inside the top six looking increasingly unlikely, while City are attempting to close the - massive - gap on their rivals, The Scum. Both Villa and Happy Harry's Hapless Strangers are engaged in a battle to avoid relegation to the Championship, with QPR's position still precarious despite some encouraging recent results. Especially that victory over Blunderland. Plus, there's Southampton versus Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws, Stoke City versus West Bromwich Albinos, Swansea City versus The Arse and The Scum versus Reading. Presented by Gary Lineker, with Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer.

Sunday 17 March
In the second-to-last episode of Time Team - 4:25 Channel Four - Tony Robinson celebrates the many practical experiments and re-creations that he and the team have conducted over the past twenty years to unlock the mysteries exposed by their digs. The programme revisits some memorable highlights from shows of yesteryear, from making individual objects like Stone Age axes, Roman pewter bowls, medieval pottery and King Arthur's sword, to building an entire Iron Age house and a Roman machine to lift water from a deep well. So, a clip show in other words.
Then, there's another clip show on later in Top Gear - 8:00 BBC1. This is a compilation of the finest moments from the most recent series of the motoring magazine presented by Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Featuring challenges and stunts, as well as another chance to see a celebrity guest drive a lap in the Reasonably Priced Car.

It is 1931 and socialite Iris Carr (Tuppence Middleton) is travelling back from a holiday in The Balkans, but she faints on the platform of the railway station in the scorching heat in the opening scenes of The Lady Vanishes - 8:30 BBC1. She is comforted by a fellow passenger, Miss Froy (Selina Cadell), but when Iris falls asleep she awakes to find that the woman has disappeared and everyone else on board denies ever having seen her. With only handsome traveller Max Hare (Tom Hughes) for support, Iris maintains that Miss Froy has, somehow, been abducted - even though it increasingly appears to be a delusion on her part. Mystery thriller, also starring Keeley Hawes, Gemma Jones, Stephanie Cole and Julian Rhind-Tutt. Adapted from Ethel Lina White's classic novel The Wheel Spins, previously filmed several times, most famously by Alfred Hitchcock in the thirties.

The Incredible Story of the Monarch Butterfly: Four Wings and a Prayer - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary charting the perilous journey of the Canadian insect, which flies more than three thousand miles from its homeland to the rain forests of Mexico across land which it has never seen. The programme explores how many never complete the task and those that do never return. Based on the critically-acclaimed book by Sue Halpern and narrated by Kristin Scott Thomas.

Monday 18 March
Fingerprints at the crime scene lead Detective Inspector Hardy and Detective Sergeant Miller to a shocking suspect in Danny's murder - his father in Broadchurch - 9:00 ITV. When questioned, Mark explains that he had been there recently to repair a boiler, but his alibi for the night of the murder quickly falls apart with so much wet cardboard. Meanwhile, Steve Connelly approaches Beth claiming to have a message - from her dead son. Detective drama, starring David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Andrew Buchan, Jodie Whittaker, Arthur Darvill and Will Mellor.

That Petrol Emotion: Motor Racing At The BBC - 8:00 BBC4 - is the first in a new series, a celebration of the glory days of motor racing through archive coverage of the sport on the BBC. This edition focuses on the 1950s, when British drivers Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn took on the might of Argentinian ace Juan Manuel Fangio.

James Nesbitt's Ireland - 8:00 ITV - as you might expect from such a title, sees the actor exploring the land of his birth, touring landmarks and examining the history and culture of the Emerald Isle with a the bogs and the little people, bejesus, where's me shillelagh. He begins in the town of Dingle on the south-west coast, where he meets brothers Shaun and Kieran Murphy, who moved from New York twelve years ago with their families to set up an ice-cream business. James helps to source ingredients and 'discovers his inner child' in a quest to find a new flavour. He also tours Blarney Castle during the busy summer season and visits a country house hotel in Country Cork whilst Val Doonigan sings 'The Jarvey Was A Leprechaun'. Probably. Begorrah.

Tuesday 19 March
The return of Kay Mellor's drama The Syndicate - 9:00 BBC1 - this time follows the stories of five hospital workers whose numbers come up on a Euro lottery jackpot of seventy two million smackers. Unfortunately, scatterbrained nurse Becky can't remember what she did with the winning ticket and also neglected to sign the back of it. So, instead of giving scatterbrained nurse Beck a damned good kicking for being such a stupid glake, instead the syndicate members race to find it and claim the prize before someone else does. Drama starring Alison Steadman, Mark Addy, Siobhan Finneran, Natalie Gavin and Jimi Mistry.
Greg is distressed to discover that his former flame, famous music historian Alison Bailey, has been found murdered in the desert, and her body stuffed inside a piano in the latest episode of CSI - 9:00 Channel Four. Investigations lead the team towards a theatre hosting Rat Pack tribute shows, and a Frank Sinatra impersonator lends weight to their suspicion that the mob-connected owner of the piano, Tommy Grazetti, was responsible for her death. Crime drama, starring Eric Szmanda and Ted Danson.
I, Claudius the acclaimed 1976 drama charting the intrigue which surrounded the reigns of five Roman emperors starts a full repeat run on BBC4 tonight at 10pm. Emperor Augustus's wife Livia schemes to ensure that her son, Tiberius, will succeed his stepfather. The dispute between Marcus Agrippa and Marcellus reaches boiling point, prompting the former to leave Rome for the East. Part of the Goodbye Television Centre season. Starring Derek Jacobi, Sian Phillips, Brian Blessed, George Baker and just about everybody else that was anybody in British TV in the seventies.

Wednesday 20 March
Five contenders take a palate test in which they have to recreate John Torode's dish of potato pancakes with smoked trout, horseradish cream and beetroot salad without a recipe in MasterChef - 8:00 BBC1. Two of them are then eliminated and the three remaining hopefuls work a busy lunchtime service at London's Cadogan Hotel before heading back to the MasterChef kitchen to cook two courses to impress John and Gregg Wallace, hoping to win a place in the quarter-finals.
Brennan and Booth investigate the death of an archaeologist whose body has been cocooned in a tree in Bones - 9:00 Sky Living. The victim had recently discovered ground-breaking evidence of an inter-species Neanderthal and Homo Sapien family, the first of its kind, and the case takes a remarkable turn when it transpires that the parents of this unique brood were murdered.

Andrew Graham-Dixon presents from Chatsworth House, the location of an exhibition of works by Scottish artist and sculptor William Turnbull, who died last year in The Culture Show - 10:00 BBC2. Historian and broadcaster Richard Miles examines how the nation's rich historical past attracts millions of tourists and provides Britain with a valuable brand to market around the world. Tom Dyckhoff reports on the fight to save Preston Bus Station from demolition, and writer Michael Smith finds out how the artistic heritage of Ditchling in East Sussex is shaping village life.

Thursday 21 March
Peter Bowell hosts a vintage episode of Top of the Pops - 7:30 BBC4 - featuring performances by Suzi Quatro, Dan Hill (oh, Lord 'elp us!), Elvis Costello & The Attractions, The Vibrators, Kate Bush, Earth, Wind & Fire, Gerry Rafferty and Manhattan Transfer. Plus, dance troupe Legs & Co. Originally broadcast on 16 March 1978.

Dr Kevin Fong examines what can be done to reduce the number of mistakes being made by surgeons in the operating theatre in the latest Horizon - 9:00 BBC2. Speaking to professionals in high-pressure careers - including airline pilots, firemen and Formula One pit workers - he explores the coping mechanisms they each employ when faced with emergency situations, and looks at how these tactics could be transferred to the world of surgery.
Zoe takes a short break before undergoing surgery on her left foot, William's family is reunited after his first week at a residential school more than an hour away from home and Shelbie's mother Vicki receives news about a condition her daughter may have been carrying from birth in Born to Be Different - 9:00 Channel Four. Emily, who was born with spina bifida, continues her education following a successful operation on her bladder and bowel. Nathan, who has Down's syndrome, impresses his teachers, while in New Zealand, Hamish goes on a swimming trip with his father, Al.

Friday 22 March
Egyptologist Joann Fletcher looks at the lives of ordinary Egyptian citizens three and a half thousand years ago in Ancient Egypt: Life and Death in the Valley of the Kings - 9:00 BBC2. In the first of two programmes, she explores the conditions of their tightly packed houses, how they dressed and what they ate. Joann also examines their love poetry, their enthusiasm for interior design and what it was like to work in the Valley of the Kings, where the Pharaohs were entombed.
Or, there's live international football - San Marino versus England - 7:30. Tragically, of course, it's on ITV. So that mean odious greed bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles presents the coverage of the 2014 World Cup Group H qualifying match at the Stadio Olimpico in Serravalle, where England will be expected to win convincingly. Having won two and drawn two of their matches thus far in the campaign, anything less than a victory in this game will be seen - rightly - as a twenty four carat disaster for Roy Hodgson's men, especially given that San Marino have failed to register a single point or score a goal from their four fixtures so far. England's only previous away game against tonight's opponents did not actually take place in San Marino itself, their 7-1 triumph in 1993 having been staged in Bologna. A more daunting and potentially crucial test away to Montenegro lies in wait next week, but England will have to ensure their focus is on this contest and securing three necessary points. With not very good commentary from Clive Tyldesley and a series of risible, pointless comments from Andy Townsend, and a complete lack of analysis from Roy Keane, Lee Dixon and Gareth Southgate.

As the iconic BBC Television Centre closes its doors after a fifty three-year stint at the heart of British TV, many of the corporation's best-loved names gather together to celebrate its legacy and take a stroll down memory lane for one last time in Goodbye Television Centre - 8:30 BBC4. Hosted by Michael Grade. Before that, there's Madness Live: Goodbye Television Centre - 7:30 - in which The Nutty Boys perform outside the building in West London to mark its closure and celebrate the fifty-odd-year history of programme-making at the site. The group will be showcasing new material as well as their most well-known hits, including 'One Step Beyond', 'Baggy Trousers' and 'Our House'.

To the news: Dermot O'Dreary has been forced to close one of his fish restaurants. The X Factor host co-owned two Fishy Fishy eateries on the south coast, but has shut down the Poole branch due to 'financial difficulties.' The closure means the loss of thirteen jobs at the one hundred and thirty-seat restaurant, which opened two-and-a-half years ago. O'Dreary told the Sun: 'Sadly, we decided that Fishy Fishy Poole should cease trading owing to the current financial climate. Fishy Fishy Brighton continues to trade as normal.' Managing director James Ginzler added: 'The customers loved it. TripAdvisor loved it. Everything was great, but you just need that critical mass of people and unfortunately it just hasn't got it. Poole is a great place in the summer, but you've got to look at it all year round.' O'Dreary, Ginzler and their business partner Paul Shovlin are now trying to retrieve some of the money they have lost on the venture by selling its furniture and fittings.
The BBC has defended Egghead star Barry Simmons' right to compete in the final of Radio 4's Brain of Britain quiz. A thoroughly shit-stirring and trouble-making piece by some louse of no importance at the Sunday Torygraph has (gleefully) reported that five complaints - from, presumably, serial whingers with nothing better to do with their time - were made to the corporation about Simmons' successful appearance in the competition's semi-final. He will compete in the final next week. A BBC statement said: 'There is no rule banning Eggheads from appearing on Brain of Britain - the only rule is that former champions are not allowed to return.' It added: 'Brain of Britain is a very unpredictable quiz and it is quite possible a well-known quizzer like Barry could be beaten.' Simmons has also appeared on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, where he won sixty four grand and was a semi-finalist on Mastermind. In 2009, he also reached the final of Brain of Britain, but was defeated by Geoff Thomas. Eggheads is a quiz show on BBC2, hosted by Jeremy Vine, in which a team of five challengers pits their wits against a team of five 'Eggheads' - all highly regarded quiz and game show champions. Brain of Britain is a nationwide general knowledge contest in which forty eight listeners from all parts of the United Kingdom compete for the title. The 2007 champion, Kevin Ashman, is also a regular on Eggheads.
Victims of press intrusion are to join forces with MPs this week in an effort to pressurise the government into dropping talks with newspapers and letting the House of Commons vote on legislation to regulate Fleet Street. By sending a letter to party leaders which rejects all 'press-led' compromises, campaigners hope to initiate an endgame in protracted wrangles over Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations. The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, and the leader of the opposition, Ed Milimolimandi, are due to meet the prime minister early this week to urge him to strengthen new regulations, while the many victims of press intrusion who contributed to the Leveson inquiry – including Tessa Jowell, the McCanns, Sienna Miller, Anne Diamond, the Dowlers, Max Mosley and JK Rowling – have signed a letter to Oliver Letwin, the minister in charge of the issue, calling for 'an immediate end' to talks with editors so that parliament can 'have its say' before the end of the month. Speaking at a public event in Covent Garden on Friday, Clegg agreed that the coming week would be 'crucial' and argued for a legal basis to any new rules. He stopped short, however, of rejecting a royal charter. Jacqui Hames, a former Crimewatch presenter and Met police officer, told the Observer that she felt 'a growing sense of unease. We all hoped the report might mark a new era of transparency in relations between government and the press, but now that hope has evaporated,' she said, adding that news that one of the advisers helping to design a self-regulatory body is to be former Sun political editor Trevor Kavanagh did 'not inspire confidence' either. 'Whatever happened to the press wanting to show that they have changed and won't disappear back down the slippery slope?' she asked. The victims' letter, sent out this weekend by their solicitor, Dominic Crossley, has been copied to David Cameron, Clegg and Milimolimandi. 'To propose anything less than Lord Justice Leveson's recommendations would be to demonstrate the press's continued malign influence over government,' writes Crossley. By the time leaders of the three main parties meet campaigners on behalf of the victims, it is hoped that every MP will have received a copy of Crossley's arguments, along with a covering letter in support from an MP on their own political benches. A House of Lords amendment to the defamation bill, introduced by Labour peer Lord Puttnam, aims to bring in press regulation, despite Cameron's opposition to legislation. The amended bill was due to return to the Commons at the end of the week, but Cameron is expected to block it to prevent a likely government defeat. Such a manoeuvre would not only incense supporters of press reform, but dismay free speech campaigners on both sides of the house who have been banking on key reforms contained in the body of the bill. Hacked Off campaigners argue that Puttnam's additions to the bill are 'quite suitable' if it is designed to protect freedom of expression. They want Cameron to put it back on the House of Commons slate and claim that the amendment offers a new system of redress for poorer victims of the press, while necessary reforms to libel law will only protect the rich. Crossbench peer Lord Skidelsky has also put down Leveson-inspired amendments to an enterprise reform bill, due to reach the report stage next week. These reforms, again unrelated to the host bill, would introduce statutory arbitration of the press and create a body to oversee any voluntary regulator. Further tinkering with upcoming bills, such as the Crimes and Courts Bill, due to be debated on Wednesday, has also been mooted.
An American actor gave a couple from Plymouth five hundred dollars towards their holiday after they had to leave a hotel where they were staying when a body was found in a cistern. Michael and Sabina Baugh had spent eight days at the Hotel Cecil in Los Angeles before Elisa Lam's body was found there. Mrs Baugh said that Robert Conrad, known for the 1960s television series The Wild Wild West, gave them the money after hearing their sad story on the radio. LA health officials said the water was found to be safe to drink. Lam, twenty one, from Vancouver, was found dead in the tank by a maintenance worker on 21 February after guests complained of low water pressure. Guests, including the Baughs, said they had bathed and drunk water from the tank while she remained in it. Mrs Baugh said: 'The water wasn't clean. It was coming out brown and very cloudy. We had to leave it on for a few minutes, but it would clear up.' She said she and her husband, both twenty seven, were eight days into a two-week holiday when they became aware something was wrong as emergency services arrived. She said: 'We didn't believe it at first but police and a coroner's car were there, so they must have found a body. Everybody had to check out because the water had to be tuned off.' The couple said they had to stay in the lobby for thirteen hours until they could sort out further accommodation after e-mailing their travel agent in the UK, Thomas Cook. In the meantime, they were interviewed by various media organisations, including KFI Radio, which is where Conrad heard what had happened to them. Mrs Baugh said: 'He drove to KFI Radio to give us five hundred dollars.' She added that, as well as Conrad's donation, an anonymous woman paid for them to stay at Hollywood's Hilton Hotel for their last three nights, which was 'an amazing experience.' Samples from the tank had been found to be safe to drink and bathe in, LA health officials said. However, the couple said getting further medical checks at home was one thing they 'still have sort out.' Lam's death is under investigation. Thomas Cook said it was taking the matter 'very seriously', and added it was in conversation with the couple over compensation.

More than sixty people had food poisoning at a Danish restaurant dubbed one of the world's best eatery, it has emerged. Health officials said diners at Copenhagen's Noma restaurant fell sick over a five-day period in February, suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea. It was not clear what caused the outbreak, but reports say that the alleged source may have been a sick kitchen employee. Noma, which topped Restaurant Magazine's list of the world's fifty best restaurants in 2010 to 2012, has apologised. Officials from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration revealed the results of their inspection on Friday. Agency spokesman Morten Lisby was quoted as describing the outbreak as 'massive', according to the Associated Press news agency. The restaurant - which opened in 2004 - prides itself for its attention to detail and relying on fresh locally sourced products. Its chef, Rene Redzepi, has been described as 'the standard bearer for the New Nordic movement.' Noma charges up to fifteen hundred kroner (about one hundred and seventy five smackers) for a menu without drinks, and reservations often must be made months in advance.

Papiss Demba Cissé scored a stoppage-time winner as yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle came from behind for the third consecutive Premier League game to deservedly beat Stoke. After a lacklustre first half and against the run of play, Cheick Tioté clattered into Jonathan Walters in the box Walters picked himself up to convert the resulting spot kick. But some poor Stoke defending allowed the Magpies to hit straight back through Yohan Cabaye's well-placed free-kick. Cissé then secured the points with a close-range finish at the death whilst thoroughly odious greed bucket (and drag) Michael Owen remained on the Stoke City bench all afternoon with a look on his boat that suggested he'd much rather be elsewhere. Which was, in and of itself, pure dead funny.
More than two thirds of Football League clubs who responded to a BBC survey say that they are worried about the financial health of teams in the world's oldest domestic league. Falling attendances and rising player costs have combined to deflate the mood as the league celebrates its one hundred and twenty fifth birthday. 'These are very challenging economic times and football is no more insulated from the effects of the recession than any other sector,' a Football League spokesman said. '[We] remain focused on creating a sustainable business environment.' The survey, conducted to mark Late Kick Off's return to BBC1 on Sunday, was sent to key decision-makers at all seventy two Football League clubs last month. Forty-one clubs completed it, with a further thirteen declining to do so or saying they were 'too busy.' The remaining eighteen did not reply at all. Of those who responded, only one club rated the financial health of Football League clubs in general as better than adequate, with twenty nine out of forty one saying that they were 'concerned' - though respondents were generally more positive when it came to their own club's financial health, with only four rating it as worrying and eighteen rating it as better than adequate. The main culprit cited for financial worries is dwindling match-day revenues, with thirty four clubs saying they were either concerned or extremely concerned about a drop in attendances. One chief executive told the survey that seventy five per cent of clubs were experiencing a decline in attendances compared with last year. The managing director of a League One club said gates in his division were down fifteen per cent, with an average fall across the leagues of four to five per cent. 'It's important to keep a long-term perspective on crowd figures as they can fluctuate significantly from season to season,' the Football League spokesman said. 'Nevertheless, gate income remains the biggest single revenue stream for clubs so we are monitoring the situation - attracting and retaining fans remains a priority.' Until this season, Football League crowds had appeared relatively recession-proof, with eight consecutive seasons in which total attendance topped sixteen million, and an average attendance per game double that of twenty five years ago. However, the response to this survey supports research carried out in January by BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme that revealed gates had fallen by an aggregate of four hundred and thirty thousand among clubs that had been in the same division for five or more seasons. The reasons for this, according to the survey, are a combination of less money in fans' pockets and the amount of Premier League and European football on television. It is not, the clubs claim, 'for want of trying' to reduce prices with early-bird specials, deals for children and other discounts. Speaking to Late Kick Off in London and the South East, Millwall chief executive Andy Ambler admitted that crowds had fallen but said it was 'up to us to fight hard to get them up,' while Brentford's chief executive Mark Devlin claimed his gates were actually up slightly, but added: 'Over a generation we have suffered with younger fans being attracted to teams playing at a higher level.' With less money coming in from the turnstiles, and the knock-on effect that has in terms of catering and merchandise, twenty eight clubs identified players' wages as a problem. 'The amount of money going out to players and agents is incredible,' Chesterfield chief executive Chris Turner told Yorkshire and Lincolnshire's Late Kick Off team. 'It should have been stopped twenty years ago when it first started happening, but it's too late now.' This sentiment was echoed by many, although a few clubs pointed to last year's introduction of 'financial fair play' rules as a positive step. Concerned about the clubs' one billion quid of collective debt, Football League chairman Greg Clarke brought in measures to encourage teams to live within their means. League One clubs are now only allowed to spend a maximum of sixty five per cent of their turnover on wages (falling to sixty per cent next season), with the cap at fifty five per cent in League Two. Clubs who breach those rules face a transfer embargo. The rules for Championship clubs - a move to limit losses to no more than sixteen million quid over five seasons - do not come into force until January 2015, but the accounting period starts next season. They too will face transfer embargoes for breaking the rules, and promoted clubs may be fined. '[The rules] are about laying the foundations for a more stable future so clubs can avoid financial trauma, and their balance sheets can begin to reflect the long-term growth we have seen in crowds, media interest and commercial income,' the spokesman added. The optimism might not be as misguided as it sounds, despite the results of this latest survey. The Football League is no stranger to crises - the most dramatic of them in 2002 when its broadcast partner ITV Digital collapsed - but it has always demonstrated its fundamental resilience. The ITV Digital fiasco saw clubs' TV revenues fall by eighty per cent, causing a number of them to lapse into administration, but all of them eventually survived. The current one hundred and ninety five million smackers TV deal with Sky, which is in its first of three seasons, is twenty six per cent down on the joint BBC/Sky contract that preceded it, but there have been no new administrations since Port Vale's in March 2012. And league bosses are confident the next deal will be better now that Sky has some competition for live rights in the shape of BT. There are also hopes the Premier League's parachute and 'solidarity' payments will increase in line with its huge new domestic and international TV deals. The Premier League currently gives £65m a year to the Football League in solidarity payments, with relegated clubs receiving forty eight million notes over four years to cushion the impact of demotion. But challenges remain, not least the need to replace npower's twenty one million knicker title sponsorship next season, and none of the seventy two clubs is underestimating the difficulty of balancing fans' demands for progress with the reality of operating in a flat economy. As one chief executive put it: 'There are still too many clubs over-committing in pursuit of glory or survival at a time when generating revenues is getting tougher and tougher.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, we have one of the great live performances in the history of total barking rock and roll excess. Yer actual Teardrop Explodes their very selves, live at Club Zoo on 22 December 1981 going so far over the top they're down the other side! Did we make it? Goodnight!

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