Sunday, May 26, 2013

Yesterday's Broken Dreams

BBC2's profile of the Tudor queen Anne Boleyn pulled in an impressive three million viewers on BBC2 on Thursday night. The Last Days of Anne Boleyn, which featured analysis from the historian David Starkey and novelist Hilary Mantel about the final days of the queen before her execution in 1536, averaged over thirteen per cent of the audience between 9pm and 10pm. The programme even managed to beat the opposition on BBC1, the last in the series of Britain's Biggest Hoarders, which averaged 2.9 million viewers at the same time. The 9pm slot was, however, won by ITV police drama Scott & Bailey, which pulled in 5.4 million viewers, for the final episode of the current series. At the same time, Channel Four's Dispatches: The Hunt for Britain's Sex Gangs, which examined the work of Telford police uncovering a gang of child abusers, was watched by 1.3 million viewers. Earlier, on ITV an Oklahoma tornado Tonight special was seen by 2.86m at 7.30pm. Paul O'Grady's For the Love of Dogs dipped two hundred thousand viewers from last week to 4.74m at 8.30pm.

Life of Crime fell to 2.9m viewers for its final episode at 9pm on Friday, overnight data shows. ITV's three-part drama following the career of police officer Denise Woods (played by Hayley Atwell) was down three hundred thousand punters week-on-week and nine hundred and seventy thousand from its opening episode. In the same timeslot on BBC1, the worst episode of Have I Got News for You in some considerable time was watched by 4.61m and Not Going Out had 3.68m. Earlier, coverage of The Chelsea Flower Show attracted 2.95m at 7.30pm and Would I Lie To You? had 2.64m an hour later. The Graham Norton Show was watched by 3.67m at 10.45pm. On BBC2, more Chelsea Flower Show malarkey at 8pm was watched by 2.74m, while the documentary Henry VIII's Enforcer: The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell interested 2.10m at 9pm. The Martin Lewis Money Show brought 2.9m to ITV at 8pm and movie Kiss Kiss Bang Bang attracted six hundred thousand from 10.45pm.

The BBC has scrapped a ninety eight million smackers digital production system, which the new director general said had 'wasted a huge amount of licence fee payers' money.' The Digital Media Initiative was set up in 2008 but was halted last autumn having never become fully operational. 'I have serious concerns about how we managed this project,' BBC director general Tony Hall said. An independent review has been launched 'to find out what went wrong and what lessons can be learned,' he added. Which will, presumably, cost even more licence fee payers money. The Digital Media Initiative was intended to transform the way staff developed, used and shared video and audio material and was seen as an important part of a move of resources to Salford. 'Ambitious technology projects like this always carry a risk of failure,' Lord Hall said. 'It does not mean we should not attempt them but we have a responsibility to keep them under much greater control than we did here.' The contract to deliver the DMI was originally awarded to technology company Siemens in 2008 but was taken over and relaunched by an in-house BBC team in 2010. Between 2010 and 2012, the project cost the corporation over ninety eight million quid. An internal review was set up in October 2012 after the BBC Trust expressed 'serious concerns' about the entire fiasco. In a letter to Margaret Hodge, chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, the BBC Trust's Anthony Fry revealed the project had generated 'little or no assets. It is of utmost concern to us that a project which had already failed to deliver value for money in its early stages has now spent so much more of licence fee payers' money,' he said. 'We intend to act quickly to ensure that there can be no repeat of a failure on this scale.' Hodge described the episode as 'a terrible shock and clearly completely shambolic.' The corporation said the initiative had been 'badly managed' and 'outpaced by changing technology', and that to carry on would be 'throwing good money after bad.' 'It's struggled to keep pace with new developments and requirements both within the BBC and the wider broadcasting industry,' Lord Hall wrote in an e-mail to BBC staff. 'There are now standard off-the-shelf products that provide the kind of digital production tools that simply didn't exist five years ago. We will be looking into what has happened and will take appropriate action, disciplinary or otherwise,' he added. John Linwood, the BBC's chief technology officer, has been suspended with immediate effect. In 2011, then director general Mark Thompson told the the Public Accounts Committee that the initiative was 'critical' to the BBC's move to Media City in Salford and the establishment of new Broadcasting House. 'A lot of the future of the BBC is tied up in the successful delivery of this project,' he said, at the time. James Purnell, the BBC's director of strategy and digital, said: 'In the future we are going to rely far more on off-the-shelf technology. We've messed up and we apologise to licence fee payers for that.' But he insisted that the failed project was 'the exception rather than the rule,' citing technical successes such as the BBC iPlayer.

So, dear blog reader, Saturday was rather a good day. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping had a nice long lie-in, had a late breakfast (of marmalade on lightly buttered toast, if you're interested) whilst listening to The Danny Baker Show on 5Live. Later, he popped into town and meet his mate Christian to go and see the excellent Beware of Mr Baker (on a freebie, an'all). And the sun was out as well. Bonus. Then, we had a rather nice lunch at Pani's on High Bridge, a swift pint (just the one, I'm on painkillers for me back at the moment!) and then it was back to Stately Telly Topping Manor to watch some cricket (top effort from young joe Root, there), fall asleep in the chair(!) and, having woken up, check out BBC2's excellent Bowie documentary, Five Years (see below). And, yer actual Keith Telly Topping managed to do all that, dear blog reader, whilst, simultaneously, conspiring to completely avoid any potential bother from an English Defence League march through Newcastle and a counter demonstration (which, by all accounts, passed off relatively without incident). Which brings yer actual Keith Telly Topping to a genuinely sincere question, dear blog reader. One which, perhaps, one of you lot might be able to answer for me. It seems pretty much every day yer actual Keith Telly Topping reads on the BBC News website that another couple of - no doubt absolutely perfect - examples of humanity have been pinched by the bobbies because they've been making racist comments on a social network site - usually, though not exclusively, Facebook. Somebody explain this to me because I just can't fathom it - aside from the obvious, odious, disgusting nature of anyone who holds racist views in the first place, what sort of brain-soup idiot would make racist comments on a public forum where they can be seen by, you know, other people? I mean, are they morons? Oh, hang on, sorry ... we're talking about racists. So, that sort of brain-soup idiot, seemingly. Makes complete sense when you think about it in that sort of context. What was it Jerry Dammers said? 'If you have a racist friend, now is the time for that friendship to end.' Damn right. Grassing them up to The Law if they do it in your vicinity is probably quite good idea too. Just to clarify this blogger's bottom line on this subject: For one human being to discriminate against another because of the colour of their skin, or because of their nationality, or their ethnicity, or their religious beliefs, or lack of it (or their sexual orientation or what clothes they like to wear for that matter) is, firstly, extremely illegal and quite rightly so. Secondly, it's against every moral standard of all of the world's major religions so if you believe in any sort of God then you're pissing Him (or Her) off, royally. And, lastly and probably most importantly, even if you don't, if you've got any fraction of humanity in you then it's obscene. Bigotry is bigotry, there's a definitive dictionary definition for, exactly, what constitutes it. And there's also a very easy lesson in how to combat it. It involves a zero tolerance towards any form of it or towards anyone who tries - even, passively, and in the name of a quiet life - to be an apologist for it. Sorry, like, but that's the way it is. Next ...

I'd love to be talking about something else at this point but, tragically, the same general subject rears its ugly head yet again. The faith and communities minister, Baroness Warsi and the shadow defence secretary, Jim Murphy, have criticised the media for giving 'too much airtime' to the radical cleric Anjem Choudary in the wake of the Woolwich attack. Warsi, who is also a Foreign Office minister, said she felt 'angry' about the airtime given to 'one appalling man who represents nobody.' Well indeed. But, enough about rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove let's get back to the subject in hand. She told Sky News on Thursday: 'We all have a responsibility, including the media, not to give airtime to extremist voices – idiots and nutters who speak for no one but themselves. The heartening thing in the midst of all this tragedy is that the British Muslim community has, with a unified, unreserved voice, condemned the killing and pledged support for our armed forces.' Her comments were made before Choudary's appearance on BBC2's Newsnight on Thursday, which also drew fire from Murphy, who criticised the decision to give airtime to the the cleric, who is banned from entering France by the nation's interior ministry. 'Banned from France but welcome on Newsnight,' he wrote on Twitter. 'A mistake of the BBC to invite Anjem Choudary onto the telly tonight.' On Newsnight the cleric refused to condemn the killing despite repeated requests by presenter Kirsty Wark. He said he was 'shocked' by the murder of Lee Rigby who was killed on Wednesday afternoon but pointedly refused to say he 'abhorred' the bloody and murderous attack. Choudary, who has also appeared on a variety of news outlets since Wednesday's killing, also told the programme that he 'encountered' one of the suspects, Michael Adebolajo, at a number of Islamist demonstrations. 'When I saw what took place I was shocked but what he said in the clip, I think not many Muslims can disagree with,' he added during the item, which also featured opposing views from Julie Siddiqi, executive director of the Islamic Society of Britain and Imam Shams Ad-Duha Muhammad, principal of Ebrahim College in East London. Choudary has also appeared on the BBC News channel with clips airing on Radio 4's PM programme and BBC1's Six O'Clock News. ITV News has featured him and Channel Four News also carried an interview with him by presenter Cathy Newman. The Channel Four News interview also sparked a row on Twitter, with Warsi telling Newman that the interview should not have been broadcast because it 'undermines the painstaking work community organisations do every day to create understanding.' She also wrote on Twitter: 'We know his vile extremist views. How many times do we have to hear them? He simply incites hatred and community tension.' Defending the interview Newman told Warsi that Choudary was 'very relevant' because he 'knew one of the suspects and helped radicalise him' later adding 'you can't expose extremist views until you hear them.' Choudary, who was a leading figure in the now-banned organisation al-Muhajiroun, is now the 'official' spokesman for Islam4UK. The BBC defended Choudary's appearance on Newsnight, issuing a statement which said: 'We have given great consideration to our reporting of the Woolwich murder and have a responsibility to both report on the story and try to shed light on why it happened. We believe it is important to reflect the fact that such opinions exist and feel that Choudary's comments may offer some insight into how this crimes came about. His views were robustly challenged by both the presenter, Kirsty Wark and the other participants in the discussion – Julie Siddiqi, the executive director of the Islamic Society of Britain and Shams Ad-Duha Muhammad, the director of Ebrahim College.'

Yer actual Eddie Izzard has revealed how he overcame his fear of flying – by getting a pilot's licence. 'I could actually take the bloody thing down if necessary,' he noted. 'It's fear management, you see.' Bit extreme though, Ed!

Incidentally, dear blog reader, the best thing about BBC2's - once again, excellent - Bowie documentary, Five Years which premiered on Saturday evening, was Robert Fripp camping it up like Kenneth Williams on acid!
The Paradise has begun shooting its second series. Ben Daniels will join the BBC1 period drama as Tom Weston, an enigmatic former soldier who is now married to Katherine (played by Elaine Cassidy). 'Tom's a fascinating animal and will certainly be ruffling a few feathers (and silks!) along the way,' said Daniels. 'I'm really looking forward to the next few months of filming.' Other new cast additions include Lisa Millett as 'bawdy but kind-hearted' cook Myrtle, Katie Moore as Susy, Edie Whitehead as Tom's daughter, Flora and Adrian Scarborough as Fenton.

Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston are to star in a new production of Macbeth at Manchester International Festival 2013. Branagh will play the title role and act as co-director alongside Rob Ashford, while Kingston will play the role of Lady Macbeth. Is this a dagger she sees before her, sweetie? And all that. Royal Shakespeare Company members Jimmy Yuill and John Shrapnel will play Banquo and Duncan respectively, while Norman Bowman takes on the role of Ross. Merlin's Alexander Vlahos will play Malcolm, with Coronation Street's Ray Fearon cast as Macduff. Rosalie Craig, Laura Elsworthy, Anjana Vasan and Charlie Cameron make up the rest of the cast. Macbeth will be broadcast via a one-off live relay on a big screen in central Manchester on Saturday 20 July at 8.30pm.
A mother of eight who fraudulently received three hundred and fifty thousand notes in benefits and tax credits has been jailed for four years. Amanda Webber claimed five of her children had disabilities and medical conditions affecting their mobility. But Brighton Crown Court heard the children were all active and took part in drama and dance. Some even auditioned for ITV's Britain's Got Toilets. Webber was told she was guilty of 'one of the biggest single benefit fraud overpayments ever recorded.' Judge Anthony Niblett said Webber and her family at one point had an income of more than ten grand a month. At the sentencing hearing, he said: 'This is an income which the vast majority of your hard-working, honest fellow citizens can only dream of. These benefits included private education and every material advantage for them, including a grand piano and a dance studio in your last home, so as to encourage the undoubted talents of some of your children.' Webber received three hundred and fifty three thousand smackers in benefits over a twelve-year period from 1998. She made benefits claims on the basis five of her eight children had various disabilities and conditions which affected their mobility and care needs, the court was told. At the time of her arrest, Webber was living in a seven-bedroom house in Sussex. The prosecution said the children led active lives, taking part in PE classes and activities including music, drama and dance, without any difficulties. As well as auditioning for ITV's Britain's Got Toilets, some of her children performed in professional productions on TV and on stage. They included Les Miserables, The Wizard of Oz and Billy Elliot, Webber's trial heard. During the trial, prosecutor, Andrew Evans said the children's stage roles were 'inconsistent' with the care and mobility issues Webber had described. On her benefits claim forms, she said some of her children had problems with their speech and language, physical and learning disabilities and behavioural issues. The court was told the schools had no records of any such learning difficulties or mobility issues. Some of the children travelled to performing arts school in London by train and underground during the rush hour, the jury heard. DVDs found at Webber's home showed her children taking part in ballroom dancing. One child, who was said to have 'a fear of water,' was filmed swimming. On Thursday, Webber was found guilty of twenty three out of twenty four charges she faced, including fraud, obtaining a money transfer by deception and obtaining property by deception. She was cleared of one count of making a false representation. The false payments related to disability living allowance, carer's allowance, tax credits and housing and council tax benefit. Prosecutor Andrew Evans said the Crown would be looking to start confiscation proceedings against Webber to recover some of the money. Judge Niblett said: 'You have chosen to have eight children and to live your life as you have, but you are not entitled to do so at the expense of your fellow citizens who work hard and struggle on modest incomes.'
Stephen Fry has been turned into street art in Norwich. A life-size figure of the Qi host and national treasure, made from sheet metal, has been unveiled near the railway station in the town where he grew up. It was designed by fourteen-year-old Peter Allen, following a competition run by the city council in local schools, and stands alongside depictions of Lord Nelson and First World War nurse Edith Cavell, who were both born nearby. Councillor Bert Bremner said: 'It would be interesting to know what Stephen Fry would make of it.' The writer and broadcaster obliged on Twitter posting: 'Thank you, kind children of Norwich! Blush' It is part of a nationwide 'portrait bench' scheme which has previously honoured Rob Brydon in Shrewsbury.
An Argentinian singer has suffered 'a wardrobe malfunction' while performing on a TV show. Laura Miller was performing her song 'Si Me Dejas No Vale' when her breast popped out. She didn't, exactly, seem in a hurry to put it back, either.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United's managing director, Derek Llambias, insists that manager Alan Pardew's position was 'never under threat' despite the club's difficult end to the season. Oh no, the dreaded 'vote of confidence.' After talks with owner Mike Ashley and Llambias on Wednesday, Pardew has been assured of his position. 'There has been a great deal of speculation in recent weeks but our desire is to bring long-term stability to this club,' Llambias said. 'Everyone connected with the club was disappointed to finish where we did last season, particularly on the back of such a fantastic year prior to that. Our discussions on Wednesday were very constructive and we pinpointed a number of factors that contributed to a season that fell below expectations.' Former Reading, West Ham, Charlton and Southampton manager Pardew signed an eight-year contract with United in September last year. He guided the Magpies to fifth place in 2012 but Newcastle only secured Premier League safety with a 2-1 win at Queens Park Strangers in their penultimate game of the most recent campaign. Llambias has reiterated the importance of another top-half finish next season. He added: 'We are now looking forward and are entirely focused on the forthcoming campaign, with the expectation of at least a top-ten finish in the Premier League. It's up to us all now to work closely as a team to ensure next season sees us competing in the top half of the table again.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's Jean, Mary and Cindy and a twenty four carat soul masterpiece.

1 comment:

fatoldtart said...

We both hate the EDL, but if we are to seriously campaign against the, what do we call ourselves because AEDL sounds like a disease. You have the words, suggest something and we will all back it to the hilt.