Saturday, June 01, 2013

Yr Hippy Drugs Hero Cos You Put On A Bad Show

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has hinted that the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary special will have 'a lengthy running time.' Course, that could mean anything given the inherent a lack of context. I mean, let's face it two minutes is a hell of a long time ... if you' happening to be hanging by your neck from a noose at the time. The 3D special - due to be broadcast on 23 November - had originally been reported to be ninety minutes long, but recent rumours (on the Internet if not anywhere, you know, more reliable) have suggested a one-hour run time. The executive producer suggested that the length of the episode has 'yet to be decided.' Now that, frankly, takes a bit of believing considering that it's already been filmed! When asked by Doctor Who Magazine, Moffat said: 'People keep asking how long the anniversary special is, and it's a fair question. I don't actually know, because the answer is, it's as long as it needs to be. The script is quite long though. I'm looking at it now. Ooh, that's quite long.' The episode is expected to get a limited worldwide cinema release. Nick Hurran directed the episode, which wrapped shooting earlier this month. The special stars former national heartthrob David Tennant, Billie Piper and John Hurt alongside Matt Smith his very self and Jenna-Louise Coleman.

Britain's Got Toilets returned to easily toppermost of the overnight ratings outside of soaps for ITV on Thursday evening. An average of 8.52 million viewers saw Luminites and Pre-Skool (no, me neither, I was out having a life) move into next week's grand final from 7.30pm. The subsequent results show was seen by 7.52m at 9.30pm. On BBC1, Watchdog attracted 3.01m at 8pm, followed by Crimewatch with 3.28m at 9pm. Question Time brought in an audience of 2.45m viewers at 10.45pm. BBC2's Locomotion with Dan Snow grabbed 1.22m at 7pm, while Springwatch was seen by 2.29m at 8pm. Henry VII: Winter King was watched by 2.05m at 9pm. The final episode of Watson & Oliver failed to amuse six hundred and eighty thousand viewers at 10pm. On Channel Four, Tony Robinson's Britain's Stone Age Tsunami brought in a million punters at 8pm, followed by Human Swarm with 1.02m (4.3%) at 9pm.

Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge, Cyrus Todiwala and Tony Singh have joined BBC2's food line-up, landing new shows about pub food and reinventing British home cooking, respectively. Kerridge will front his own Proper Pub Food series, while Todiwala and Singh are reflecting the new multicultural nature of Britain in The Incredible Spice Men. Kerridge found fame as the first British chef to pick up two Michelin stars by cooking in pub The Hand & Flowers. His six-episode series will reveal the secrets behind dishes such as mussels cooked in ale, treacle-cured roast beef with the ultimate Yorkshire pudding and date and toffee pudding with caramelised banana. The Incredible Spice Men, meanwhile, will feature Todiwala and Singh 'on a mission to convince Britain to wake up to the versatility of spices and exotic ingredients.' This blogger is already fully awake in that regard, thank you. BBC commissioner Alison Kirkham said: 'Both these programmes will offer fresh ideas and inspire people across Britain to get busy in the kitchen this summer. I am delighted to welcome Tom, Cyrus and Tony to BBC2, and am sure their passion and infectious characters will delight viewers.'

Meanwhile, on a broadly related theme, the BBC is reportedly planning to adapt a Radio 4 sitcom for television. TVWise reports that a pilot episode of In and Out of the Kitchen has been filmed and is planned for BBC Two. The show stars Miles Jupp, Justin Edwards, Brendan Dempsey, Selina Cadell, Philip Fox and Ade Oyefoso and is currently being considered by BBC executives. The half-hour pilot was directed by Absolutely Fabulous and Stella director Mandie Fletcher. Written by Miles Jupp, the show focuses on cookery writer Damien Trench, who lives in Queen's Park with his partner Anthony.

Stephen Graham has confirmed that This Is England will return to screens next year. The actor - who played Combo in the 2006 Shane Meadows film and its several TV spin-off series - also confirmed to BBC Radio 6Music that the new run will be set in 1990. Graham previously said to the Digital Spy website: 'Shane is doing The Stone Roses documentary, but we're definitely gonna do [a new series] next year and my character is going to be coming out of prison, so I'm really looking forward to that.' Stephen also praised the Christmas three-parter This Is England '88, describing it as 'phenomenal' and 'an amazing piece of television. Some of the acting was leagues apart from anything I've seen in a long time,' he added. 'Vicky McClure was just breathtaking.' Chanel Cresswell has also previously spoken about wanting a final series of the show. 'In This Is England, you work really hard and rightly so,' the actress explained. 'Shane does it spot on. Filming that, he makes you live what you're filming and your personality does change.'

It's one of their most enduring shows, so when one of the few remaining stars of Dad's Army dies, one might have hoped the BBC would get it right. But when Bill Pertwee died last weekend, BBC News illustrated the story with a picture of his cousin Jon, the Doctor Who actor, eagle-eyed journalists at trade magazine Broadcast report. No matter, they changed the picture in time for the 7pm bulletin. To one of John Le Mesurier, who died in 1983.

The Daily Mirra should revive its infamous chicken suit if David Cameron tries to duck out of TV debates at the next general election, Andy Coulson has said. In another headline-making morsel from the ex-Downing Street spinner's piece in GQ magazine, Coulson recalls getting a 'surreal' call from Ken Clarke. He writes: 'One of the more surreal conversations I had during the last election campaign came in a post-lunch call from Ken Clarke. "A man from the Mirror has chased me to the restaurant," he said. "He's dressed as a chicken. I'm not in the least bit bothered. I'm rather partial to chicken, but I would like to know exactly why he is here." I had no idea but rang the editor of the Daily Mirror to politely seek an explanation of the stunt. "Basically he's there because it's bloody funny," he told me. Which was more than fair enough.' It's good to see Coulson's generosity extends even to his erstwhile competitor. Coulson, of course, is also a former editor of the Scum of the World and is currently awaiting trial on charges of 'conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority from 3 October 2000 to 9 August 2006' and perjury. Charges which he denies.

News of Coulson's re-emergence into the public arena gave rise to the TV comedy moment of the week on Friday night's Have I Got News For You. Following a question about Coulson's comments from the GQ piece about Boris Johnson being happy to see David Cameron lose the next election, saw a potential legal minefield in speaking too much about Coulson. of course, Ian his very self, has plenty of experience of the inside of courtrooms and thus noted: 'Andy Coulson has, of course, been charged with various offences, but he's still allowed to give interviews in GQ. We're not allowed to say anything about him under the laws of contempt, obviously.' He then added, unconvincingly, 'And, I wouldn't want to.' 'If we are so wary of words,' suggested Paul Merton, helpfully, 'is there any way you could express an opinion through contemporary dance?' Fair play to yer man Hizza, he gave it a go! And then being wary of words, or guest host Frank Skinner's occasional lack of it, became something of a running joke on the episode.'At last,' noted Frank, 'someone can go to prison for mime!'
Their coverage of the widely-reported story of an EDL demonstration in York which ended with those in the mosque inviting the EDL protesters in for tea, biscuits, and a game of football - which they accepted - was also worthy of considerable praise.
A documentary about integration in multi-cultural Britain which drew criticism from community leaders has won a leading international TV award. Channel Four's Make Bradford British won the Rose d'Or for best reality and factual entertainment series. Broadcast in March 2012, the two-part series was accused by one local councillor of 'portraying the city in a bad light.' Channel Four defended the show, saying it 'aimed to overcome preconceptions about people from different ethnicities.' And, noted, that they'd have been worried if the criticism had come from anyone that actually matters. The programme looked at how people from different backgrounds lived together in Bradford, and filmed them as they shared their lives. Its triumph at the ceremony in Brussels came at the expense of Apocalypse, another Channel Four nominee, which starred the illusionist Dazzling Derren Brown. Other British winners at Thursday's event included Sky's recently cancelled comedy Spy, which was named best sitcom, beating the BBC's Twenty Twelve and The Thick of It. In the arts category, The Great Pretender - a BBC documentary about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury - was favoured ahead of the Julien Temple documentary London: The Modern Babylon and a third nominee, Just Ballet from Austria. More than three hundred entries from more than thirty countries were submitted for the 2013 awards, which were held outside Switzerland for the first time in fifty two years. The ceremony, held as the final event of the 2013 Media Summit, was hosted by Dutch TV personality Lucille Werner in the presence of Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz of Belgium.
They may be a wardrobe stable for period dramas, but the BBC has decided to stop leading men wearing tights in its new flagship drama over a fear they may be 'distracting.' The Daily Torygraph, in an atypical sneering piece, reports that costume designers for The White Queen, a story of the battles between the House of York and the House of Lancaster in the Fifteenth Century, want their male characters to appear 'masculine.' According to production notes released ahead of broadcast, the designers thought 'these days tights are associated with Robin Hood movies and bad jokes.'

The right-wing MP Patrick Mercer has resigned the Tory whip to 'save my party [from] embarrassment' after allegations emerged from the BBC's Panorama that he broke Parliament's lobbying rules. The Newark MP said that he will not be standing at the next general election but there will not be a by-election as he has no intention of resigning. He has referred himself to Parliament's standards commissioner and said that he was 'taking legal advice' about the claims made in the programme. The probe focused on Mercer's alleged lobbying on behalf of Fiji. Panorama claims that Mercer was approached by a fake company set up by the programme, in conjunction with the Daily Torygraph. The fake company, Alistair Andrews Communications, claimed to lobby on behalf of Fijian business interests for Fiji to be re-admitted to the Commonwealth. Fiji's membership of the Commonwealth was suspended in 2009 amid criticism of its human rights' record, lack of democracy and general naughty badness. The programme claims that Mercer agreed to set up a Fiji All-Party Parliamentary group. Mercer claims that he agreed to 'undertake consultancy work outside Parliament.' But, perhaps tellingly, he also tabled five parliamentary questions, which were all answered, as well as an Early Day Motion. In a statement, Mercer said: 'Panorama are planning to broadcast a programme alleging that I have broken parliamentary rules. I am taking legal advice about these allegations - and I have referred myself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. In the meantime, to save my party embarrassment, I have resigned the Conservative whip and have so informed [chief whip] Sir George Young. I have also decided not to stand at the next general election.' MPs who resign the whip can continue to sit in the Commons as independents but are no longer members of the parliamentary party. But Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith said this highlighted the need for voters to get powers to force by-elections: 'If it's bad enough for you to resign from your party, how can it be okay to continue representing constituents at all? Where's that recall?!' he wrote on Twitter. His call was echoed by his backbench Tory colleague Douglas Carswell. But Conservative cabinet minister big fat bucket of lard Eric Pickles said that Mercer had 'done the right thing' and it was for the parliamentary authorities to carry out an investigation. A Conservative spokesman said: 'The prime minister is aware.' Something which some of his colleagues appear to doubt. On several levels. 'He thinks Patrick Mercer has done the right thing in referring himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and resigning the whip. It's important that the due processes take their course.' Parliamentary records show that in March, Mercer put down an early day motion - used by MPs to draw attention to particular issues - saying Fiji was making efforts to 'restore democracy' and there was 'no justification' for its continued suspension from the Commonwealth. He also asked questions in Parliament in May about Fiji's human rights record, UK investment in its public transport and the effects of its suspension from, and government policy on, its readmission to the Commonwealth. Both questions were answered by Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire. In a statement, the BBC said: 'Panorama has been investigating lobbying and the conduct of MPs and members of the House of Lords. The programme is still being made and will be broadcast as soon as possible. The investigation has raised a number of issues related to those involved. Panorama has sought responses from a number of people, including Mr Mercer.' Mercer, a former army officer, broadcaster and military historian was sacked as shadow homeland security minister by David Cameron in 2007 after making allegedly racist comments. It followed an interview in The Times, in which he said: 'I came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless, but who used racism as cover for their misdemeanours.' During the furore which followed, Mercer denied being racist but accepted that his comments might have 'hurt' soldiers who served with him and 'embarrassed' his party. Later that year he was made an adviser on security matters to Labour minister Lord West. In November 2011, the press reported that Mercer had been taped making disparaging remarks about Cameron, calling him 'despicable' and describing him as 'an arse' and 'the worst politician in British history since William Gladstone.' The same articles claimed that Mercer had predicted Cameron would be ousted by Conservative MPs in early 2012. Mercer later denied making the comments. The coalition government is committed to setting up a statutory register of lobbyists - companies that seek to influence government policy, often by paying current and former MPs for advice and guidance. Before the 2010 election, Cameron predicted that it would be 'the next big scandal' to hit British politics, but the policy has yet to make it into the government's legislative programme. The government held a consultation on a statutory register of lobbyists, which concluded in April 2012. A Cabinet Office spokesman said it was 'still considering' the 'many different views' articulated by those who contributed to that consultation.
A BBC Radio Stoke presenter who was taken off air after appearing to be drunk has apologised to listeners. Paula White was removed thirty minutes into her afternoon programme on 10 May, which was her last show in that slot. On the station's breakfast show on Thursday she told listeners that she was sorry for her 'behaviour and performance' on the show. 'After six-and-a-half years it was a terrible error of judgment to go on air that day,' she said. White added: 'The past few months have been difficult and if you're a regular to my show, you'll know I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve but that day, in hindsight, I should not have sat down to do the show. I've caused a great deal of embarrassment to my family, friends and colleagues and I'd like to apologise to them.' White also thanked listeners for their support. The BBC confirmed she would be returning to air on BBC Radio Stoke's Saturday mid-morning show 'in the near future.' A spokesman for the corporation said: 'Paula White has apologised and we have drawn a line under the matter.' Shortly after the start of the show on 10 May, a listener sent in a text to say that White sounded drunk. She claimed on air that she had 'had a couple of drinks,' but was not drunk. A BBC spokesman said at the time she had been 'unable to continue as she was under par.'

A man arrested after appearing on the BBC's Newsnight programme has been charged with three terrorism offences. Abu Nusaybah, from East London, was held after giving an interview about his friend, Michael Adebolajo, one of the suspects in the murder of the soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich. The charges, which Nusaybah denies, relate to videos of lectures and written material. They are not linked directly to the death of Rigby on 22 May. Nusaybah, who has been charged under his real name of Ibrahim Abdullah-Hassan, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court for a brief hearing. He was remanded in custody and is due to appear at the Old Bailey on 28 June. His lawyer, Mozammel Hossain, indicated that his client would be entering not guilty pleas. The charges include an allegation that on or before 24 May he 'published or caused another to publish' five video recorded lectures entitled In Pursuit of Allah's Governance on the Earth, 'intending or being reckless as to whether members of the public would be encouraged to commit, prepare or instigate acts of terrorism.' In two further charges, Abu Nusaybah is also alleged, on or before 24 May, to have provided services to others enabling them to access a video lecture by Khalid al-Husainan and a text called Reality of the Rulers by Abu Zubair Adil al-Adab - conduct which could be intended as a 'direct or indirect encouragement to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism,' according to the Crown Prosecution Service's counter terrorism unit. He was pinched by the bobbies on Friday 24 May outside the BBC's New Broadcasting House in Central London, immediately after recording his interview with Newsnight.

The BBC has unveiled plans for its first 'truly digital' coverage of this summer's Glastonbury Festival. For the first time there will be two hundred and fifty hours of live broadcasting from the six main music stages. Bob Shennan, the BBC's controller of popular music, called it 'a monumental logistical challenge.' This year's headliners are The Rolling Stones, Mumford and Sons and The Arctic Monkeys. It is the first time The Stones have played the festival at Worthy Farm, which takes place on the final weekend of June. The line-up includes Primal Scream, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Elvis Costello, alongside such chart acts as Professor Green and Dizzee Rascal. Also on the bill is Sir Bruce Forsyth, who will perform songs from his solo CD These Are My Favourites. At eighty five, Sir Bruce will be one of the oldest performers ever to appear. Writing in the Daily Scum Mail, he said the one-man show was 'a bit of singing, a bit of dancing, a bit of piano and an awful lot of laughter, I hope.' Announcing the Glastonbury plans on Thursday, Shennan revealed a new four-year deal had been signed to cover the event. This year's plans had been shaped by the experience of covering the London Olympics, he added. 'We've learned a lot from the experience the BBC had in 2012,' he said, 'We will be covering six stages and offering live streaming in a way we have never have done previously.' The BBC's coverage will feature more than one hundred and twenty live performances broadcast on TV, radio and online on four screens: PC, mobile, tablet and connected TVs. 'Not only will this be the first truly digital Glastonbury, this will also be the first mobile Glastonbury,' said Mark Friend, the man in charge of the BBC's multi-platform coverage. 'We expect mobile and tablet viewing and listening to reach unprecedented levels, particularly over the weekend.' Coverage across the weekend will appear on BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, Radio 1 and 1Xtra, Radio 2 and 6Music. BBC1 will include coverage in its mainstream programming, including The ONE Show and Songs of Praise. The BBC's presenting team includes Chris Evans, who will launch coverage on Radio 2 on 28 June, plus festival veterans Steve Lamacq, Mark Radcliffe and simpering airhead Jo Whiley. They are joined by risible hairdo Nick Grimshaw, Gemma Cairney, Wor luscious lovely Lauren Laverne, Dermot O'Dreary and Craig Charles. 'In 1997, there was a two hour programme on the telly,' said Lamacq. 'Now it's going to be on virtually all the time.' Whiley predicted that the 'big story' of the Glastonbury weekend would be The Rolling Stones' performance on the Saturday night. 'I'm sure they would never have committed to doing Glastonbury unless they were one hundred per cent sure they could pull it off,' she said. 'So it's going to be fascinating watching that.' The festival, set to be attended by one hundred and thirty five thousand punters, was not held last year because of the Olympics and to allow the farmland to recover from the 2011 event. 'The BBC have stuck with us through thick and thin since 1997 and they've earned their stripes the hard way,' said festival founder and organiser Michael Eavis. 'It's been quite a journey since 1997, and to have a complete record of what we've been up to over the years is music history gold dust.'

Carling's original advertising duo Stephen Frost and Mark Arden have been brought back for a new advert. The two comedians were well-known in the 1980s and 90s for starring in the long-running series of 'I Bet He Drinks Carling Black Label' commercials. Carling's brand manager Jeremy Gibson said: 'We made this ad with the idea of a pint of Carling in one hand and a smartphone in the other. While obviously inspired by Carling's great advertising tradition, the new campaign is created for the iPhone generation of drinkers who share their smartphone content as part of bar-room banter.' Twats, in other words. In the new 'Refreshingly Perfect' advert, two young pals 'dominate the bar' with 'their playful antics.' For which, sadly, they are not fisted, hard, reet in the mush. In a brief cameo, Frost and Arden are seen still enjoying pints of fizzy.
An online appeal to raise funds for a tribute documentary to the cult comedian and singer Frank Sidebottom has hit its forty thousand smackers target just hours ahead of the deadline. The appeal to pay for Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story closed at 01:00 on Thursday on the Kickstarter website. Filmmaker Steve Sullivan said that the project had received 'amazing' support since its launch a month ago. Sievey, who played Sidebottom wearing an over-sized papier-mache head, died from cancer in 2010. Sullivan filmed The Magical Timperley Tour, a documentary where Sidebottom toured the area of Greater Manchester where he lived with one hundred fans on an open top bus. 'We talked about making another film but sadly he died and I just started to get fascinated by the idea that nobody really knew who Frank Sidebottom was and who was beneath the head,' he added. Sullivan added: 'This is going to fund an incredible documentary.' Kickstarter is a website which allows people to raise funding for films, games, music, art, design and technology through pledges. Sullivan said the funding will enable the film to use footage from TV performances of Frank Sidebottom as well as rare interviews with Sievey. Sievey, who died aged fifty four, hit the charts in the late 1970s with his Manchester power-pop band band The Freshies. But it was as Frank, the comedy character he created satirising the music business, that he was best known. Often accompanied by his sidekick Little Frank - a glove puppet made in his own image - Frank became a regular face on TV in the 1980s and 1990s. His TV fame peaked in the early 1990s with his own series Frank Sidebottom's Fantastic Shed Show.

The Velvet Underground have settled a legal dispute with the Andy Warhol Foundation over rights to their famous Warhol-designed LP cover. The band sued the foundation last year after it licensed the banana logo from the 1967 début The Velvet Underground & Nico for use on other products. The legal claim argued that the design had 'become a symbol of the band' and the foundation had no right to use it. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. The agreement averts a trial which set to begin on 29 July. Warhol served as manager and - allegedly - producer of the band, formed by Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Mo Tucker in the mid-1960s. He designed the cover for The Velvet Underground & Nico, which incorporated the banana symbol and the phrase 'peel slowly and see.' Legal papers filed in a New York court showed the band claimed 'exclusive use' of the banana design for licensed merchandising and sought damages and an injunction to prevent the foundation from licensing the image. The foundation - which was set up under Warhol's will to advance the visual arts - took ownership of his copyrights in 1987 and argued The Velvet Underground had 'no enforceable trademark rights' to the image. In its original claim, the band had asked the court to rule the foundation had no copyright to the banana image. In September, however, a federal judge rejected the claim for copyright infringement. Neither party's lawyers have commented on the settlement.

Mad Frankie Boyle is known for being fairly offensive about other people - for example, his latest contentious tweet was that 'Angelina Jolie could have raised enough money to cure cancer by going on e-Bay and auctioning the opportunity to fuck her tits off.' But, now he has become the target of Internet hate which is, allegedly, so serious that police have been called. Scottish police reportedly confirmed on that a complaint relating to online comments directed at the comedian are currently being investigated.

Football teams could be expelled from competitions or relegated for serious incidents of scum racism after tough new powers were voted in by FIFA. For a first or minor offence, a warning or fine will be imposed. Re-offenders or serious incidents could lead to a points deduction, expulsion from competition or relegation. The 'resolution on the fight against racism and discrimination' was passed with a ninety nine per cent majority at the FIFA congress in Mauritius. One would love to know who, exactly, were the one per cent who voted against it. FIFA president and odious louse Sepp Blatter believes the measures 'send a strong signal to the racists' but that further work needs to be done. 'While we, in this hall, can all agree that racism must be stopped, more must be done outside, back in our respective home nations,' said Blatter. 'We need zero tolerance and strict punishments everywhere. We must lead. We must set a tough, uncompromising example. Football can show the way. We can make a difference. With our newly formed task force, led by Jeffrey Webb, and the tough resolution before you this week, we can send a strong signal to the racists that their time is up. But we need the help of all. We cannot win this battle alone.' FIFA commissioned a task force to address the issue of racism after a friendly game between AC Milan and Pro Patria was abandoned due to racist chanting. Their verdict includes putting an official inside the stadium to identify potential acts of racism and ease the pressure on the match referee.

Pupils at a school were reportedly 'horrified' to discover they had been taught the wrong Gothic text, two weeks before their A-level English exam. Sixth-formers at Newmarket College in Suffolk studied Bram Stoker's Dracula instead of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Horrorshow. Mind you, it should be noted, yer actual Keith Telly Topping did the latter for O-level never mind A-level! One Abbie Stallabrass said that the 'bombshell was dropped' three days before half-term, leaving the class with 'only a few teaching days' to prepare. Exam board AQA said it was 'aware' of the situation and pupils 'would not be disadvantaged.' Which, one supposes, is now the perfect excuse for them to turn up late, drunk, for the exam, write a load of old bollocks and then still claim it was because they'd read the wrong book. Miss Stallabrass said that the error was 'discovered by chance' by another English teacher who was starting to prepare for the following year's course. 'He noticed Dracula had been dropped from the curriculum and we should have been studying Frankenstein,' she said. 'Our teacher came in and seemed unusually nice and chirpy, and then she dropped the bombshell. It was crazy. We were pretty horrified. On Friday another teacher gave us a five-hour intensive session on Frankenstein, which was incredibly stressful but it did get us up to speed with the story,' she added. The class had been studying the Bram Stoker text for eight months and Stallabrass said that she and fellow students had to 'rearrange their half-term revision plans' to take account of the blunder. 'Half-term revision plans'? Gosh, things really have changed since this blogger's day. My idea of half-term revision plans was 'reading a few notes on the morning of the exam!' Don't knock it, I passed. Anyway, 'we are all very nervous about Thursday's exam,' she said. 'We really don't know what to expect and two of the class are relying on these grades for their university offers,' she added. No-one from the school - which was rated 'inadequate' and 'a school that requires special measures' in an Ofsted report earlier this year - was available to comment. However, the examination board AQA confirmed that the school had 'made it aware' of the mix-up and said: 'Exam boards do change set texts from time to time, and where this happens we ensure that we let schools know. Where a school has taught the wrong text by mistake, we work with them to find the most appropriate solution so that students aren't disadvantaged. We have put arrangements in place so that students will be able refer to Dracula in part of their responses and their answers will be marked as normal.'

A big fuck-off asteroid which measures nearly 2.7km across has flown past the Earth. The space rock, which is called 1998 QE2, is so large that it is orbited by its own satellite. It made its closest approach to our planet at around ten o'clock on Friday, but scientists had said there would be 'no chance' it would hit the Earth and destroy all life. Which was nice. Instead it kept a safe distance - at closest, about three and a half million miles. That is about two hundred times more distant than the asteroid 'near-miss' which occurred in February - but Friday's passing space rock is more than fifty thousand times larger. Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer at Queen's University Belfast, said: 'It's a big one. And there are very few of these objects known - there are probably only about six hundred or so of this size or larger in near-Earth space. And, importantly, if something this size did hit us one day in the future, it is extremely likely it would cause global environmental devastation, so it is important to try and understand these objects.' Yes, knowing about THE BIG ROCK THAT'S GOING TO KILL IS ALL is probably a jolly good idea. his fly-by gave astronomers the chance to study the rocky mass in detail. Using radar telescopes, they were due to record a series of high-resolution images. They want to find out what it is made of, and exactly where in the Solar System it came from. Fitzsimmons said: 'We already know from the radar measurements, coupled with its brightness, that it appears to be a relatively dark asteroid - that it's come from the outer part of the asteroid belt.' Early analysis has already revealed that the asteroid has its own moon: it is being orbited by another smaller piece of rock that is about six hundred metres across. About fifteen per cent of asteroids which are large are 'binary' systems like this. This celestial event was not visible to the naked eye, but space enthusiasts with even a modest telescope might have been able to witness the pass. After this, asteroid 1998 QE2 will hurtle back out into deep space; Friday's visit will be its closest approach for at least two centuries. Researchers are becoming increasingly interested in potential hazards in space. So far they have counted more than nine thousand near-Earth asteroids, and they spot another eight hundred new space rocks on average each year.
People who are on antibiotics may benefit from taking probiotics at the same time, a review of evidence shows. Scientists at the Cochrane Collaboration say that taking the supplements 'could prevent diarrhoea' - a common side-effect of many antibiotics. Which, let's face it, is probably a good thing. They looked specifically at cases of diarrhoea caused by the potentially dangerous Clostridium difficile bug. Experts say probiotics could be a 'pre-emptive strike' to ensure a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. Antibiotics can disturb the ecosystem of organisms normally present in the digestive system, allowing bacteria such as C difficile to overwhelm the gut. And people infected with the bug can suffer from diarrhoea, an inflamed and painful bowel. Or even death. Researchers worldwide have been investigating whether probiotics - cocktails of micro-organisms - can keep gut bacteria in check by competing with more harmful bugs. Professor Brendan Wren of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who was not involved in the review, said: 'Research into the prevention of C difficile is important - there is something special about the bacterium and the toxin it produces which allows it to have competitive advantage over other bugs and makes it difficult to get rid of. The probiotic approach is a good idea. It could provide a pre-emptive strike to make sure the balance in your gut is fine.'

On Thursday evening, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self spent a very pleasant evening rolling back the years to a time when he was a nought but a proto-teenage hooligan anarchist snot-howker and safety-pinned warrior at the gates of oblivion who took no sodding prisoners (or something) by attending Uncle Scunthorpe's latest Record Player event at the Tyneside. This week, after a long, long, long wait, much badgering and putting up with plenty of yer actual hippy drivel in the meantime, it featured the Sex Pistols their very selves in all their puke-encrusted, come and have a go if y'think you're hard enough demented glory. And, thoroughly bloody life-affirming it was too. Which is, almost certainly, the only time that word has ever been used about an LP containing 'Bodies'. Wot a fekkin rotter, as it were. All of that malarkey means, of course, that - without any question - this is today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. Cue the jackboots and mean in maaaan.

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