Friday, June 21, 2013

She Giggles At The Screen Cos It Looks So Green

Doctor Who's new lead actor will be announced in the autumn, a report has claimed. If anybody else is losing the will to live with regard to this sodding story please raise your hands. Okay, you can all put your hands down now. Filming on the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama's 2013 Christmas special will begin in August or early September - with Matt Smith's replacement due to be confirmed just prior to shooting - according to the Radio Times. A spokesperson for the show added that production on the festive special - written by showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat - remains 'completely on-track.'

Meanwhile, Matt Smith is giving one fan (and, 'a friend') the chance to meet him for afternoon tea at The Ritz. That's not a euphemism for anything, incidentally, it actually means a cuppa and a natter. Smudger his very self is offering the experience as part of an auction for two autism charities to which he is connected. Bidding on the afternoon, which will be for the winner and a friend, has already begun on the website. The auction will be frozen at 11.10am on Monday 1 July where all bids will be carried over to the evening event, which starts at 8pm. Bidding on the website prior to this means that fans will be able to telephone the auctioneer's assistant during the auction to make their final bids. All proceeds from the evening will be split equally between two charities - Ambitious About Autism and The National Autistic Society. An excellent and very worthy cause. Smudger has also released a new video message thanking the show's fans for their support during the period since he announced he was giving up the role of The Doctor at the end of the year.

One final hangover from the 'Doctor Who missing episodes' fiasco (the repercussions from which are expected to rumble on for a while yet as numerous games of blame-and-counter-blame kick-off, big-style) concerns the country of origin from where many of these hypothetical ninety missing-presumed-wiped episodes were supposed to have been discovered after all these years. Uganda. I must say, yer actual Keith Telly Topping does find the mental image of Idi Amin his very self sitting in his palatial gaff in Kampala in the mid-1970s watching endless reruns of The Power of the Daleks before going off to do something vicious, blood-thirsty and deranged to be curiously unforgettable.
TV comedy line of the week, for the second week running, came from Mock The Week - seeming on something of a run of form at the moment. Again it was from Scenes We'd Like To See segment, in this case, 'Unlikely Things To Hear On The Radio', and came from the excellent Gary Delany: 'Coming up on Radio 1, Nick Grimshaw. He's not very good but he's only twenty eight so he definitely didn't get up to anything in the 1970s!'
Scott & Bailey appears likely to return to ITV for a fourth series. Producers Red Production Company announced news of the show's imminent renewal on Twitter earlier this week. Scott & Bailey stars Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp as police officers Rachel Bailey and Janet Scott, members of Manchester's Major Incident Team. The show's third run drew to a close on 23 May pulling in a final audience of 7.1 million viewers.

Yer actual Sue Johnston, who plays Gloria Price in Coronation Street, is to leave the soap next year. Sue plays the interfering mother of Rovers Return landlady Stella Price, played by Michelle Collins. The actress joined the ITV soap last September but her character is not expected to be killed off. A spokeswoman said: 'Sue will be on screen until early spring 2014 when Gloria will leave Weatherfield for the time being.' Johnston is also known for her role as Barbara Royle in BBC1 comedy The Royle Family, as Grace Foley in the BBC's popular crime drama Waking The Dead and for playing Sheila Grant in Channel Four's Brookside in the 1980s. Meanwhile, ITV has announced former Coronation Street actress Denise Black, who played hairdresser Denise Osbourne, has joined the cast of Emmerdale. The broadcaster said the actress began filming on the soap this week and will play the adoptive grandmother of Kyle, the child character Amy Wyatt gave up shortly after he was born. Black will be seen on the show from August. Series producer Kate Oates said: 'Her story will see her playing against some of our best-loved characters, and I know an actress of her calibre will be a fabulous asset to the show.'

An unspecified number of Big Brother viewers have reportedly complained to Ofcom in relation to a warning given to housemate Jemima Slade. No, me neither. She was, apparently, sent a verbal warning earlier this week for, allegedly, racist comments used in the house.

Channel Five is to revamp its daily 18:30 news programme to focus on 'debate and discussion' about the day's top stories. The broadcaster said its 17:00 bulletin would become the main news round-up. The later programme, to be titled Newstalk Live, will be dedicated to 'live debates between informative and opinionated guests about the news agenda's biggest talking points.' Emma Crosby will continue to present the programme, which will have a new set for the relaunch on 8 July. Channel Five News editor Geoff Hill said it would become 'the only dedicated news debate show in primetime. Our flagship 17:00 programme continues to offer viewers something unique as it's the first terrestrial tea-time bulletin of the day,' he said. 'Now it will be complemented by a different proposition at 18:30 that will be both engaging and informative.' And, since it's Channel Five, probably involve a voting element as well.

Greece's governing coalition has again failed to agree on how to resume transmissions by state broadcaster ERT, shut down by the government last week. Evangelos Venizelos, leader of junior partner Pasok, said there was now 'an issue regarding the very existence of the government.' PM Antonis Samaras wants to replace ERT with a smaller broadcaster. Disagreement within the coalition over the issue has raised fears that the government might collapse. On Monday Greece's top administrative court ordered that ERT should resume transmissions. However, correspondents say there have been 'varying interpretations' of the ruling by the court, the Council of State. Samaras and his two junior coalition leaders - Fotis Kouvelis of the Democratic Left and Mr Venizelos - met for a third time on Wednesday to try to resolve their differences. Kouvelis and Venizelos want public broadcasts to be restored, immediately, no questions asked. After the talks broke up, Venizelos said that the situation was now 'particularly crucial', adding: 'There is an issue regarding the very existence and prospects of the government.' Kouvelis said there had been 'no common political ground.' The government - led by Samaras's conservative New Democracy party - shut down ERT describing it as 'a case of an exceptional lack of transparency and incredible extravagance.' However, the two junior coalition partners were furious that they had not been consulted over the decision. The move also triggered protests across the country with lots of people waving their arms in the air and shouting stuff. I can't tell you what it was they were shouting, it's all Greek to me. Yeah, all right. The Council of State upheld Samaras's plan to replace ERT with a smaller broadcaster but, in a massive slap in the mush with a wet haddock for the country's leader, said it should resume transmissions in the meantime, something he has stubbornly resisted so far. Despite the ruling the station remains off-air. The court is due to reconvene to debate the issue.

The BBC will broadcast an hour of The Rolling Stones' headline set at Glastonbury, according to festival organiser Michael Eavis. The band had reportedly insisted that only four songs from their ninety-minute set could be shown on TV. But Eavis told reporters that a compromise had been reached between the Beeb and Mick and Keef. 'I think they're all friends now,' he told reporters. Good, cos, I have to be honest, I'd hate Keef Richards to be my enemy! The BBC could not confirm the reports, but said there were 'constructive ongoing conversations' with the band. Eavis, who established the Glastonbury Festival on his farm in Pilton forty three years ago, said that he had also endured protracted negotiations with Mick Jagger. 'It's taken a long time to get them to come and play,' he said. 'Everyone wants to see the Stones, basically. I think Mick Jagger wanted to play to the people here, rather than a TV show,' he added. 'They're going to be playing for about an hour for the TV.' According to the Press Association, only those at the festival will see the band's final half hour, with fireworks set to light up the sky over the Worthy Farm site. Eavis also said that he was 'concerned' the veteran rockers might prove 'too popular' for the venue. 'There might be a problem with the size of the crowd so it's slightly worrying for me, in a way,' he said. But he added that the Pyramid area had been extended to allow for the thousands of fans expected for the band's set in a bid to avoid any problems with overcrowding. Last month, the BBC said there would be two hundred and fifty hours of live broadcasting from Glastonbury's six main stages. The festival opens its gates next Tuesday, with the main bands playing from Friday through Sunday. The other headline acts are posh lads Mumford and Sons and The Arctic Monkeys.

Two television channels have been fined a total of twenty two thousand smackers after they featured psychics making claims about Michael Jackson and Milly Dowler. Psychic Today and Big Deal were in breach of broadcasting rules after they showed a psychic telling viewers that she had been 'involved' in the police investigation into the death of the murdered schoolgirl, the regulator, Ofcom, said. Another psychic claimed that she had 'accurately predicted' her friend would become 'close to the late King of Pop', before producing photographs of the pair in private locations including his recording studio. Ofcom ruled that both instances were in breach of its broadcasting code, which states that services such as astrology, horoscopes and tarot readings should be advertised as 'for entertainment purposes only.' Advertising for channels such as Psychic Today are not allowed to make claims for efficacy or accuracy or predict negative experiences or specific events, the regulator said. In its ruling, the regulator said on 20 June last year, a psychic called Crystal told viewers: 'One of the cases that's actually signed, sealed and delivered and got the seal on it, was the ... Milly Dowler case. I was the one that dealt with that one.' On 2 June last year, a psychic called Jenna referred to a reading she claimed to have given to someone who would become 'quite close friends' with Jackson for many years. The friend would stay at the singer's house and write two books about him, but the friendship would end suddenly, the psychic claimed. Majestic TV, which holds the licence for Psychic Today, told Ofcom that the claims made in both cases were 'factually correct', but admitted that the reference to Milly Dowler was 'unfortunate.' Ofcom ruled that there was a further breach in May last year when promotions for psychic readings with Mollie included the descriptions of her readings as very accurate and precise. The regulator concluded that the breaches were serious and repeated and a financial penalty should be imposed. Majestic TV Limited was fined twelve thousand five hundred smackers, while Square One Management Limited was handed a ten thousand notes penalty in respect of its Big Deal service.

A school librarian has discovered that a poem widely attributed to William Blake, including in school reading lists, was not really written by him. Rather than the work of an English poet in the Nineteenth Century, Two Sunflowers Move Into The Yellow Room was written in the United States in the 1980s. This mislabelling shows how the Internet can 'replicate errors', warns Thomas Pitchford, a librarian in a Hertfordshire secondary school. 'We just accept too quickly,' he added. An online search for Two Sunflowers Move Into The Yellow Room will produce numerous references to this as a poem by William Blake (1757-1827), the radical English writer and artist. There are essay questions, anthologies, lesson plans, discussion forums, teachers' resources and online reference websites all interpreting this poem as an example of Blake's poetry. But Pitchford says that when he saw the poem attributed to Blake, he immediately thought the style bore little relation to the poet's other work, which includes such noted classics as And Did Those Feet In Ancient Time, The Divine Image, The Tyger and The Sick Rose. A particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping is yer actual Blakie his very self. Did him for A level, so I did. Passed, an'all. Hey, not just a pretty face, you know? Anyway, yer man Pitchfork soon established that the poem was really by one Nancy Willard and had been published in 1981 in an anthology called A Visit To William Blake's Inn. But the librarian, who works at Hitchin Boys' School, then realised how far and wide the mistake had travelled, with Internet sites copying and distributing the false connection with Blake. Many schools have been teaching the poem as an example of Blake's work. He believes that the poem has been spreading as a fake Blake poem since 2001, with the intervening years embedding the poem ever more deeply into a range of websites and online resources. His blog, The Library Spider, has dozens of examples of how the poem has slipped into being used in the classroom. Websites across the English-speaking world are littered with references to this as a poem by Blake, from individual school anthologies to state publications. He says it is 'a cautionary tale' of how the Internet can 'mutate' reality, but he does not believe that pupils should never trust the Internet. 'It's easy to get on your high horse about it, but books have also had mistakes. You can't say books are always better,' he says. Instead it means that using the Internet for research means thinking much more about what the search engine shows as the result. 'It shows that research can't just be going with the first answer.'
Two Sun journalists will be charged alongside a former Broadmoor worker over a conspiracy to pay more than thirty grand to public officials for unauthorised leaks. John Edwards, the Sun's pictures editor, and the journalist Jamie Pyatt are to be charged along with Robert Neave, a former healthcare assistant at the high-security hospital, with conspiring to commit misconduct in public office. The Sun is alleged to have paid more than thirty thousand smackers to public officials including police officers, army personnel and Broadmoor officials for information for stories, the Crown Prosecution Service said on Friday. Gregor McGill, a senior CPS lawyer, said the Sun allegedly paid for information related to the health and activities of Broadmoor patients, the work of a member of the royal family and details of ongoing police investigations. The three, who were arrested under Scotland Yard's Operation Elveden investigation, will appear before Westminster magistrates' court on 18 July. McGill said: 'In relation to the specific allegations in this case, it is alleged that over a period of almost nine years the Sun newspaper made payments totalling more than thirty thousand pounds to public officials including police officers, army personnel and Broadmoor officials, including Robert Neave, in exchange for information. It is alleged that the information for which the Sun made payments included that relating to the health and activities of Broadmoor patients, details about the work of a member of the royal family and details of ongoing police investigations. All of these matters were considered carefully in accordance with the code for crown prosecutors and the DPP's guidelines on the public interest in cases affecting the media. These guidelines asks prosecutors to consider whether the public interest served by the conduct in question outweighs the overall criminality before bringing criminal proceedings. Accordingly, we have authorised the institution of proceedings against Jamie Pyatt, John Edwards and Robert Neave and all three individuals will appear before Westminster magistrates' court on 18 July 2013. May I remind all concerned that proceedings for criminal offences involving these three individuals will now be commenced and that each has a right to a fair trial. It is very important that nothing is said, or reported, which could prejudice that trial. For these reasons it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.' In a memo to staff, News International chief executive Mike Darcey described Pyatt and Edwards as 'popular and distinguished colleagues.' He said: 'John and Jamie have worked on the Sun for over twenty years and contributed a tremendous amount to the success of the paper. Out thoughts are with them and their families.'

The Ministry of Defence closed its UFO desk because it served 'no defence purpose' and was taking staff away from 'more valuable defence-related activities', newly released files show. The desk was closed in December 2009 despite a surge in reported sightings. The disclosure came in National Archives files relating to reports of UFOs between 2007 and November 2009. They show UFOs were reported at several UK landmarks, including Stonehenge. Mind you, that was probably down to whatever those reporting the sighting was smoking at the time. The latest tranche of declassified files covers the final two years of work carried out by the MoD's UFO desk. The twenty five files include reports alleging contact with aliens and UFO sightings near British landmarks, and detail the decision to close the MoD's dedicated desk and 'hotline.' In a briefing for the then defence minister, Bob Ainsworth, in November 2009 a civil servant, Carl Mantell of the RAF's Air Command, suggested the MoD should 'try to significantly reduc'e the UFO work. He said it was 'consuming increasing resource, but produces no valuable defence output.' Well, indeed. it's tying up one chap who could, otherwise, be up in a crate bombing seven grades of cacky out of Afghanistan, obviously. He told Ainsworth that in more than fifty years, 'no UFO sighting reported to [the MoD] has ever revealed anything to suggest an extra-terrestrial presence or military threat to the UK.' Which is probably true but neglects to mention that most of those reports received were 'a right good laugh.' And, keeping up the morale of the troops is, surely, one of the MoD's most important jobs. His memo said there was 'no defence benefit' in the recording, collating, analysis or investigation of the sightings, adding: 'The level of resources diverted to this task is increasing in response to a recent upsurge in reported sightings, diverting staff from more valuable defence-related activities.' An official MoD statement from the time said the department had 'no opinion on the existence or otherwise of extra-terrestrial life.' It went on: 'In order to make best use of defence resources, we have decided that from 1 December 2009 the dedicated UFO hotline answer-phone service and e-mail address will be withdrawn. [The] MoD will no longer respond to reported UFO sightings or investigate them.' Among the four thousand four hundred pages of documents released are a letter from a child in Altrincham, dated January 2009, asking if aliens exist after she had seen some strange lights in the sky, and including a drawing of an alien in a UFO waving. Aw, bless 'er. There was also a report received via the UFO hotline by someone who claimed to have been 'living with an alien in Carlisle for some time.' A report from a man from Cardiff claimed that a UFO had abducted his dog, and took his car and tent, while he was camping with friends in 2007. 'Green, red and white lights' were reportedly seen over the Houses of Parliament in London in February 2008 and 'discoid' shapes appeared in photographs of Stonehenge, in an e-mail to the hotline dated in January 2009. Photographs taken at Blackpool Pier show an aircraft that had not been seen at the time the picture was taken in October 2008. The files show the number of UFO sightings reported to the MoD trebled in the year the desk was closed. According to a briefing in the files, during the years 2000 to 2007 the ministry received an average of one hundred and fifty reports per year. But by November 2009, it had already received five hundred and twenty reports that year, as well as ninety seven Freedom of Information requests on the subject of UFOs. Possible reasons for the increase included the rising popularity for releasing Chinese lanterns during celebrations. And the fact that Doctor Who was undergoing a bit of a revival during that period. Doctor David Clarke, author of the book The UFO Files, said the 'last pieces of the puzzle' had been revealed with the insight into the final days of the UFO desk. 'People at home can read them and draw their own conclusions about whether 'the truth' is in these files or still out there,' he said.

A man has been banned from entering his garden shed as part of his bail conditions. Simon Redclift admitted to repeatedly using the shed as a place to grow cannabis and pleaded guilty to producing the drug and possession with intent to supply. Redclift was warned that if he entered the custom-built shed he would be breaking his bail arrangement, the Mirra reports. Redclift has five convictions of growing cannabis and said that it will be 'hard to say goodbye' to the, if you will, potting shed. He said: 'It's been a room for all the family over the years. It was not just a shed that I put up and adapted to put cannabis in.' The fifty three-year-old claimed the space had become a 'second living room' to him, as he had a log-burner and television set in there. Redclift said that he enjoyed sitting in the garden shed watching David Attenborough's The Blue Planet while smoking gear. The family have started taking down the eight hundred pound shed, and the antique marble collector doesn't understand what difference taking the shed away will do. He said: 'I don't really see what it proves. If I wanted to continue growing I could do it in my attic, I could do it in the back garden, I could do it in a cupboard - it's just a waste of my shed.' After adjourning court proceedings for seven days, Judge Wynn Morgan told the offender: 'I'm not impressed with the attitude you adopt towards the courts, the probation service and offending. It's one thing to say you enjoy smoking cannabis but another to say, "I'm going to go on doing it because I do not agree with the law."'

The Clash are to be given an honorary award recognising their contribution to the music industry at the Silver Clef Awards next week. Mick Jones co-frontman of the group which split up almost thirty years ago, said it was a 'real honour' to receive the award. Other newly announced recipients include The Kinks' Ray Davies, who will get an 'ambassador of rock' award. New York band Vampire Weekend will also receive the international award, although what the hell for, this blogger has no idea. As well as classic three-chord punk, The Clash also embraced musical forms as diverse as reggae, blues, jazz and funk on their five ground-breaking LPs. (No we are not counting Cut The Crap, thank you.) Joe Strummer died in December 2002 but Jones and bassist Paul Simonon have gone on to perform together again, touring with Gorillaz. David Munns, chairman of music charity Nordoff Robbins, which organises the awards, said: 'The Clash's music has just as much influence today as it did when they first came onto the music scene in 1976. It is no wonder London Calling has been described as one of the most influential rock albums of all time. Having been enormously influential in the UK music scene for over thirty five years, I can think of no band more deserving of this award than The Clash.' Damn straight.

And, on that bombshell, here's today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. Which has relevance to both of the last two stories in today's blog update.

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