Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Don't Know How Long I'm Going To Last

Joanna Page is to appear in Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary special, it has been confirmed. The - massively over-rated -  Gavin & Stacey actress joined Matt Smith his very self, former national heart-throb David Tennant and current companion Jenna-Louise Coleman at a read-through of the script on Monday. The celebratory episode will also feature Billie Piper and veteran actor yer actual John Hurt. The Steven Moffat special begins filming this week, and is being shot in 3D. (Which is, of course, jolly nice for anybody that's actually got 3D although not a fat lot of use to those of us who haven't). It will reportedly be ninety minutes long and receive a limited worldwide cinema release. And, there's a major spoiler about who's in it below so, if you don't want to know that, I'd stop reading at this point. Although, to be honest, there photo's probably a bit of a giveaway. Yer actual Smudger claimed last month that the fiftieth anniversary is about honouring the show's past. 'It's about looking back and forward at the same time, a bit like The Doctor does,' he explained. 'It's about celebrating everyone that's been involved with it, all the wonderful actors that have taken part before me. And it's also about looking forward.' In 2010, Page denied then current rumours that she had been cast in the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama, but admitted that she would 'love' a role in the show.

Classic Doctor Who monsters The Zygons are to appear in the fiftieth anniversary episode. The shape-shifting race previously appeared just once - in 1975's Terror of the Zygons - opposite Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor. They're said to be a particular favourite of returning Doctor, David Tennant.
Meanwhile, Doctor Who special edition Birds Eye fish fingers have been created. No, honestly, this is 2 April just in case you were wondering. The packaging, which sees yer actual Matt Smith's Doctor replacing the familiar Captain Boidseye and coincides with both the fiftieth anniversary of the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama and Wednesday's National Fish Fingers and Custard Day. Didn't know there was such a thing, dear blog reader? Y'do now. Smudger his very self meanwhile has been gifted a year-long supply of Birds Eye fish fingers in addition to the bespoke pack. You'll be sick of them by the middle of next month, Smudge, take my word for it. So, anyway, that was seemingly where all the Sea Devils went after the Hexachromide gas got them. As old Cap'n Fishface his very self might note regarding their contents ...
Starting half-an-hour later than scheduled - and thus, completely buggering up the hopes of anyone who'd wished to record it and then catch Broadchurch on ITV+1 at ten o'clock, Jonathan Creek impressively won the battle of the Bank Holiday Monday dramas with an audience of just over seven million for its first new episode in three years, The Clue of the Savant's Thumb. And, rather good it was too. Opposite it, Broadchurch's fifth episode (featuring one of the drama performances of the decade so far from David Bradley) had a, still very healthy, overnight of 6.01m. A repeat of Miranda took 4.08 million for BBC1 at 8.30pm. BBC2 pulled in 2.19 million punters at 8.30pm for the new episode of Paul Hollywood's Bread, while University Challenge had 2.97 million at 8pm. So, a good night - ratings wise - for pretty much everyone, there.
And, still on the subject of ratings, here's the final, consolidated Top Twenty Five  shows, week-ending 24 March 2013:-
1 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 10.94 million
2 Broadchurch - Mon ITV - 9.23 million
3 EastEnders - Mon BBc1 - 8.70 million
4 Foyle's War - Sun ITV - 8.20 million
5 Ant And/Or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway - Sat ITV - 8.07 million
6 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.32 million*
7 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.59 million
8 The Syndicate - Tues BBC1 - 6.50 million
9 Our Girl - Sun BBC1 - 6.31 million
10 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.91 million
11 Six O'Clock News - Fri BBC1 - 5.71 million
12 National Lottery: Who Dares Wins - Sat BBC1 - 5.55 million
13 Mrs Brown's Boys - Sat BBC1 - 5.38 million
14 MasterChef - Wed BBC1 - 5.36 million
15 The ONE Show - 5.34 million
16 Antiques Roadshow - Fri BBC1 - 5.31 million
17 Rip Off Britain - Fri BBC1 - 5.26 million
18 World Cup Qualifier: San Marino Nil Vs England - Fri ITV - 5.12m
19 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 5.01 million
20 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 5.00 million
21 Prisoners' Wives - Thurs BBC1 - 4/96 million
22 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.92 million
23 The National Lottery Draws - Sat BBC1 - 4.88 million
24 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.75 million
25 The Cube - Sat ITV - 4.71 million*
Programmes marked '*' do not include HD. BBC2's highest rated programme of the week was University Challenge (2.92m).

Tony Hall has started his first day as director general of the BBC, saying that he is 'confident' about the future of the corporation. In a staff e-mail, Hall said the 'quality of staff' and their 'shared values' were 'central' to the BBC's success. Lord Hall returns to the corporation in the wake of the Jimmy Savile fiasco, which led to the resignation of his predecessor, the hapless George Entwistle. Hall said the BBC was 'learning the lessons' from recent 'difficult times. We are now winning back trust, something which will always be the most precious commodity for our organisation,' he said, adding: 'We must never take it for granted.' Among the challenges facing Lord Hall, who has been chief executive of the Royal Opera House for the past twelve years, are a dispute over jobs and budget cuts. Admitting the 'very real sense of the responsibility that comes with the role', he said he would enable staff 'to do the best work of your lives.' He also pledged to 'remove the distractions that get in the way of that ambition. The BBC sets incredibly high standards. At our best we provide a service like no other,' he said. 'Our challenge is to perform at our best all of the time.' In the comings weeks, Lord Hall added that he would set out his plans for shaping the future of the BBC as it moves towards its centenary in 2022. 'We will need to make the most compelling case possible by listening to our audiences and partners, and building on our many strengths,' he said. A former chief executive of BBC news and current affairs, he is believed to have been on the shortlist to become director general in 1999, but was beaten to the post by Greg Dyke at that time. Hall must also tackle a dispute over cuts, which unions claim have led to compulsory redundancies, unacceptable workloads and accusations of bullying. Last Thursday, members of the National Union of Journalists and BECTU staged a twelve-hour strike, affecting programmes including news bulletins. But Hall will also look to the BBC's future amid rapid technological change and growing competition. He has said that he is building a management team to 'deliver a creative vision that will define the BBC and public service broadcasting for the next decade.' He has already appointed former Labour lack of culture secretary James Purnell as 'director of strategy and digital.' Whatever the hell that means. One of Lord Hall's first tasks will be to appoint a new director of news and a director of television. Hall joined the BBC as a news trainee in 1973 and during his twenty eight year career at the corporation oversaw the launch of Radio 5Live, BBC News 24, the BBC News website and BBC Parliament. His time at the Royal Opera House saw access to performances widened through nationwide big screen relays, the introduction of special low-price ticket schemes and the purchase of a DVD company, Opus Arte, to distribute recordings globally. Hall sought to leave no one in any doubt about the breadth of the BBC programmes he enjoys, namechecking Radio 3's Bach Marathon and, somewhat more unexpectedly, BBC1's The Voice in one of his first broadcast interviews in the job. Hall also referenced the return of the popular family SF drama Doctor Who and the new BBC1 period drama The Village, starring John Simm and Maxine Peake, as examples of 'the corporation at its best.' Although some cynics - like, for instance, some louse of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star - might suggest his mention of The Voice 'felt a little too calculated.' But then, nobody that matters actually gives a fek what the Gruniad Morning Star think. About pretty much anything. 'When you look at last weekend and see programmes like The Village, Doctor Who returning in such wonderful form, you see The Voice – wasn't it wonderful that Matt got picked and got through – the Bach Marathon on Radio 3, what you see is an organisation producing amazing programmes,' Hall told the BBC News channel. Hall's predecessor George Entwistle had picked out Strictly Come Dancing and Armando Iannucci's The Thick Of It in a Radio Times interview that coincided with his first week in the job. Entwistle had less fortune with another of his choices, BBC1's espionage drama Hunted, which went on to flop with viewers and was axed after just one series. Hall said he would work with staff, the audience and others to create a 'new chapter for the BBC.' The new DG said he would take 'a very dim view' of anything within the BBC that stopped people fulfilling their potential.

Channel Four's Hotel GB will reportedly not return for another series. The reality show, which boasted an array of z-list celebrities for its first run, is said to have been cancelled 'due to piss poor ratings.' Gordon Ramsay, Mary Portas, Gok Wan and Katie Piper all took part in last year's programme, where two celebrity teams staffed a hotel with unemployed trainees and battled it out to raise the most money for charity. Yes, if you missed it, it really was every single bit as wretchedly bad as that description makes it sound. An alleged 'insider' allegedly told the Sun: 'It was a good idea and bosses are glad they gave it a go. But it just didn't pull in enough viewers at the end of the day and it won't be coming back.'

Broadcaster Eddie Mair has dismissed suggestions that he could replace Jeremy Paxman on BBC2's Newsnight. Mair recently won plaudits for grilling London Mayor Boris Johnson and serving him to the nation on a plate of chips while filling in for Andrew Marr on the Sunday morning Andrew Marr Show. But Mair, the voice of Radio 4's PM and an occasional Newsnight host, said he had 'no ambition' to permanently take over from Paxman. 'I don't want Jeremy's job,' he said. 'Or John [Humphrys']. Or Andrew's. I like mine.' However, writing in his weekly Radio Times column, Mair continued: 'Though my contract is up soon and I haven't heard anything, so if you run a radio or TV station and you think there's a future for a forty seven-year-old in a bad wig - call my agent.' In his interview with Johnson, Mair suggested that the London mayor might be regarded as a 'nasty piece of work' and questioned Johnson about the allegation that he made up quotes and lied to colleagues about an affair. His relentless interrogation led to considerable praise, even from the mayor himself, who said (through gritted teeth) that Mair did 'a splendid job.' Johnson added that he was 'perfectly within his rights to have a bash at me' after he was quizzed about being fired from The Times for making up a quote while working as a journalist. ITV news anchor Alastair Stewart tweeted after the interview: 'An audition for Newsnight appears to have gone well.' But the mayor's father, Stanley, whinged to radio station LBC that Mair's questioning was 'a disgusting piece of journalism.' Which it wasn't. In his column, Mair also commented on his upset at seeing 'screengrabs and clips of the eminent and likeable Boris Johnson being badgered by a balding sack of potatoes in a cheap suit. The photos revealed something very shocking to me,' he wrote. 'What in my mind was my discreet but manageable bald spot is in fact the size of a dinner plate.'

BBC radio listeners have chosen risible British band Coldplay's wretched and bland as boiled rice second LP as their favourite record of all time. Which probably says far more about the utter numskull glakes who take part in such polls than anything else.
William Shakespeare's lesser known role as an illegal food hoarder four hundred years ago helps us understand him as 'a more complex figure,' new research suggests. As well as hoarding during food shortages, the Aberystwyth University study said that the bard was also 'threatened with jail for tax evasion.' They looked at how food and hunger were reflected in Shakespeare's writing. His play Coriolanus shows a famine created and exploited by rich merchants and politicians. It was written at the height of the 1607 London food riots. Jayne Archer, a lecturer in medieval and renaissance literature at Aberystwyth, is the lead author of the research. She said that the poet and playwright's role as a grain hoarder during food shortages in the late Sixteenth and early Seventeenth Centuries were something that people 'had largely forgotten about him.' Over a fifteen-year period, Shakespeare bought and stored grain, malt and barley for resale at inflated prices to his neighbours and local tradesmen. Archer said Shakespeare should not be judged 'too harshly' as hoarding was his way of 'ensuring his family and neighbours would not go hungry' if a harvest failed. 'Remembering Shakespeare as a man of hunger makes him much more human, much more understandable, much more complex,' she added. The study was a collaboration with Professor Richard Marggraf Turley of the English and creative writing department and Professor Howard Thomas from the Institute for Biological and Environmental Studies. 'We're interested in the role of food security and food supply in literature,' Archer told BBC Radio Wales. 'It was really Richard and Professor Thomas who noticed that in King Lear, hunger, the role of crops and food supplies are very important to the politics of the play. Shakespeare's representation of the way that crops grow, the way that they sometimes fail to grow and when there are problems with food supply are actually very realistically demonstrated.' When Shakespeare was writing, she said that hunger and the way in which food was regulated by the government, and how it organised the food chain, was one of the most pressing political issues of the day. He was pursued by authorities for tax evasion, and in 1598 he was prosecuted for hoarding grain during a time of shortage. The research found that Shakespeare 'pursued those who could not (or would not) pay him in full for these staples and used the profits to further his own money-lending activities.' About his prosecution, Archer told the BBC: 'It's one of the things that we've forgotten about Shakespeare. As well as writing for people who were experiencing hunger, he was exploiting that need himself. He was using his role as a playwright and the public playhouses, gathering coin, in order to take advantage of the market when it's at its most profitable, and selling food at inflated prices to secure the long-term future for his family.' The findings are to be presented in a lecture at the Hay Festival in May.

A police and crime commissioner has called on a police officer to withdraw her compensation claim against a petrol station after she tripped on a kerb whilst answering a 999 call about a robbery. PC Kelly Jones claims that she was injured at the petrol station at Thetford, and her solicitors have been pursuing a claim against its owners. Norfolk PCC Stephen Bett urged Jones to 'do the right thing' and withdraw it. Calls for her to drop the legal action follow claims by the Daily Mirra that her father was attempting to persuade her to withdraw the case. Law firm Pattinson and Brewer - who are obviously not ambulance chasers - wrote to Steve Jones, owner of the Nuns' Bridges filling station, after PC Jones tripped while attending reports of a break-in at about twenty past midnight on 25 August. The claim alleges that the petrol station 'failed to ensure' PC Jones was 'reasonably safe', making no attempt to light the area or 'warn her about the step.' Bett said he believed PC Jones, thirty three, should withdraw her legal action 'as soon as possible. In my mind, that would be the right thing to do and, judging from what people have been telling me, what the public would want to see,' he said. He added that Jones' reported behaviour in bringing the claim 'leaves me cold. Police officers, like other members of the emergency services, accept that when they join up they may have to put themselves in danger in order to do their job,' he said. 'It is appalling to think that rather than putting the public first, there are some who see the possibilities of taking their own legal action to benefit financially. Of course, there are officers who deserve to receive help when they are injured in the course of duty and the public would readily support this. PC Jones, I suspect, is not one of them.' Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, said that he was writing to Home Secretary Theresa May asking for 'urgent clarification' over the issue. He said he had initially thought the story was an April Fool's joke, and that Jones' claim could deter people from calling the police in an emergency. 'It's absolutely essential we clarify the guidelines because this kind of case will put people off ringing the emergency services and indeed have implications for every single person who may ring up 999 and ask for assistance,' he said. 'I'm writing to the home secretary to ask her whether there are any guidelines, and if there aren't any guidelines I think it's important that we have them.' Jones' claim is backed by the Police Federation but not by Norfolk Constabulary itself. Norfolk's chief constable Phil Gormley said that he was 'disappointed personally and professionally' by the claim. 'Policing is a contact sport, as is life on occasions. You can't eliminate all risk,' he said. 'I'm not saying be cavalier but one of the things when I was a lot younger that attracted me to the police service was that level of excitement and, on occasions, risk.' Gormley said he had noticed a 'compensation culture' that was 'corrosive. You only have to sit in an accident and emergency department and all around you in many places there are encouragements to sue people,' he said. 'It breeds defensive organisations and it generates a lot of bureaucracy.' The Home Office said it did not comment on individual civil claims.

Queens Park Strangers defender Chris Samba has told fans to 'get over' his reportedly massive wages after his error-strewn display in his side's damaging loss to Fulham. Which, one is sure, has gone down really well with the people who, when all is said and done, pay his - not inconsiderable - wages. Big clodhopping oaf Samba, twenty nine, conceded a penalty from which Dimitar Berbatov opened the scoring, before then losing the ball to the Bulgarian striker, who made it 2-0. 'Fed up with the money tweets, get over it,' he, tactfully, tweeted. 'Tell me what is a one hundred thousand pounds [per week] performance? I am sorry I let the side down, really upset with my first half performance.' The Republic of Congo international added: 'See everyone talking about mistakes like footballers cannot have an off day on the pitch. We are human like all of you, grow up some of you, please.' Former Blackburn Vindaloos centre-back Samba signed a four-and-a-half-year deal, when he joined Strangers from Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in January for a club record fee of twelve and a half million quid. Despite the large outlay in the winter transfer window on a number of expensive additions, results have not improved and QPR remain second from bottom in the Premier League table after the 3-2 defeat at Craven Cottage on Monday. Manager Hapless Harry Redknapp was furious with his players after they gifted the hosts a 3-0 lead suffering a loss which leaves them seven points adrift of Premier League safety with just seven games left. 'We gave away the most terrible goals I've ever seen since I've been managing a football team,' the sixty six-year-old said. 'A penalty, losing the ball and an own goal. Scandalous goals. It was an absolute disaster.' A Clint Hill own goal followed Samba's calamities, and although QPR hit, twice, back through Adel Taarabt and Loic Remy, the damage had already been done. 'We got a goal back and came back in the second half and absolutely murdered them,' added Redknapp. 'When it went to 3-2 I could only see one winner, I wouldn't have even taken a draw at that point. But I was disappointed with the last ten minutes. Christopher Samba put himself up front and then we started launching balls up and that is not how we play.' Strangers face fellow strugglers Wigan on Sunday, a game Redknapp admits they will have to win to stand any hope of survival.
New Blunderland manager Nasty Paolo Di Canio refused to answer questions about whether he holds fascist beliefs in his first news conference as Blunderland boss. The Italian described the controversy surrounding his appointment as 'ridiculous and pathetic' after taking over from Martin O'Neill over the weekend. Ex-Foreign Secretary David Milimolimandi resigned from the Blunderland board because of Nasty Di Canio's 'past political statements.' 'I don't have to answer this question any more,' claimed Nasty Di Canio. You might, indeed, not have to - we don't, after all, live in a fascist society, matey - but, this blogger doubts very much whether journalists will stop asking such questions. 'There was a very good statement from the club, [with] very, very clear words that came out from me. I don't want to talk about politics - I'm not in the Houses of Parliament, I'm not a political person, I will only talk about football,' Nasty Di Canio stated, showing a reticence to talk about his political viewers which he has seldom shown in the past. The Durham Miners' Association is also unhappy with Nasty Di Canio's appointment and has called for Blunderland to return the Wearmouth Miners' Banner, which had been on permanent display in the Stadium of Light. 'I, like many thousands of miners, have supported Sunderland from infancy and are passionate about football,' said DMA general secretary Dave Hopper. 'But there are principles which are much more important.' Blunderland insist the claims that Nasty Di Canio has 'racist or fascist sympathies' are 'insulting' to both the 'integrity of the club' and to their new manager his very self. This despite the fact that exactly that word - 'fascist' - is how Nasty Di Canio chose to describe himself in at least one widely quoted press interviews in 2005. So, hardly 'insulting', more a statement of - self-confessed - fact, one could suggest. Nasty Di Canio, forty four, who quit Swindon - his only previous managerial post - on 18 February, has talked in the past of his sympathy for fascist views. He is reported to have said in an interview with Italian news agency ANSA in 2005 that the straight-arm salute he gave when playing for Lazio was aimed at 'my people', whom he then went on to define as members of Benito Mussolini's fascist movement. He claimed that it was was not intended to incite racial hatred. 'I am a fascist, not a racist,' he is reported to have said. Which makes Blunderland's argument that any suggestion Nasty Di Canio holds 'fascist sympathies' is 'insulting' all the more curious. In his autobiography, Nasty Di Canio admitted being 'fascinated by Mussolini'. During Tuesday's news conference BBC Sport's Dan Roan twice asked the Italian to 'clarify' his political views. But Nasty Di Canio said: 'I only want to talk about football, otherwise we will give time to the other reporters to ask me something about this club, my new club.' As a city forged by the shipbuilding and mining industries, Sunderland - both as a town and a football club - has a long history with left-wing politics and trade unions, two institutions directly opposed to Mussolini-inspired fascism. It has historically been considered a safe seat for the Labour party and currently sixty four of its seventy five city councillors come from the Labour Party. The former Glasgow Celtic and West Ham United player is confident of winning over critics unhappy about his appointment. 'It was the same for a different reason at Swindon,' Nasty Di Canio added, speaking about himself in the third person. 'There was many, many people who could not believe that Di Canio was the right manager for the club. After two months, there were nine thousand people at the end of the game clapping their hands for my players and singing my name.' Listen, mate, that's nothing, if you manage to take Blunderland down, there'll be over fifty thousand doing exactly the same thing at St James' Park. You'll probably get the freedom of the city. Tyneside, that is, not so much on Wearside. 'It is more important the Sunderland fans sing my players' names as they need the extra lift. They will then be happy, probably, as they will think they were wrong and now we have to keep Di Canio forever,' Nasty Di Canio claimed. When asked about his plans for Blunderland, Nasty Di Canio said he would 'bet everything' on his ability to keep the club in the Premier League. He replaced O'Neill on Sunday night, with Blunderland one point above the relegation zone. Nasty Di Canio said: 'The press call me the mad Italian but I would confidently bet everything I have on Sunderland remaining in the top flight. When I got the call, I felt fire in my belly. I would have swam to Sunderland to take the job. With my energy I'm sure we can get something from the next seven games. I hope my ways give the team more confidence on the pitch. Players need to fight for the shirt - go out on that pitch ready to sweat and shed blood for the club. It's important that the fans are happy with how the team perform and I hope to achieve that. We're all working towards the same goal. I want to take things step-by-step. Firstly, it's Chelsea and we will be fully focused for that game.' Nasty Di Canio was handed his first managerial role by Swindon in May 2011, replacing Paul Hart, and was in charge at the County Ground for twenty one months. After securing promotion to the third tier, and with Swindon in the League One play-off positions, he quit the Robins after, allegedly, 'becoming frustrated' by 'off-the-field issues.'

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping was out to lunch on Tuesday at Pani's in High Bridge with the legend that is Big Malcolm Holt. One risotto e gamberetti, a torta amarreta and a (very large) glass of house white later, he was back home and people had, just, spotted having vapour trails come off them when they walked past him. That'll be the chilli's in the prawn risotto which do that, not the wine, incidentally.
Anyway, here's today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Tell 'em all about, Eric.

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