Monday, July 08, 2013

'Holly Willoughby Is Alive' Apparently

The TV comedy line of the week this week came from Top Gear, following yer actual James May's - really rather touching - tribute film to Television Centre when it was pointed out that, in fact, 'owing to the unique way the BBC is run' the corporation will still be producing at least some material from the site in the future once the studios have been renovated. 'So, you've made a tribute film to a building that isn't shut,' noted Richard Hammond. 'Isn't that like making an obituary for Holly Willoughby?' Captain Slowly confirmed that, yes, it was. But, then added, helpfully: 'Imagine how pleased you be when you found out she was still alive!' Yeah. Imagine.
Narrowly missing out on TV comedy line of the week was the divine Goddess that is Victoria Coren's description of Only Connect as both a bloody fight to the death and a bit of fun for all the family. 'Like The Battle of Stalingrad settled by a game of Scrabble™!'
Top Gear, as it happened, held steady in the overnight ratings on Sunday evening. The popular motoring magazine show attracted 4.69 overnight million viewers for the second episode of its latest - twentieth - series on BBC2, despite an extremely sodding annoying fifteen-minute delay due to some utterly pointless bloody mixed doubles tennis match which went on and on and on until you just wanted somebody to give you a gun. I mean, the men's singles final I could, just about, have understood this being worthy of a delay but the mixed doubles? Not even the families of those taking part in the mixed doubles care an effing stuff about it. After much faffing about (and a really dreadful Murray-based musical montage to close the BBC's Wimbledon coverage) Top Gear finally started at 8.15pm, quarter of an hour behind schedule. Thank Christ Wimbledon is over for another year, dear blog reader, and we can get back to programmes not being constantly interrupted by total bollocks that I'm not interested in. This blogger hates Wimbledon and everything that it stands for. Anyway, back to the ratings. Griff Rhys Jones's thoughtful documentary Burma, My Father And The Forgotten Army followed with a healthy 1.87m at 9.15pm On BBC1, Countryfile was the most-watched programme of primetime with 5.03 million viewers at 8pm. The White Queen's fourth episode lost two hundred and fifty thousand punters from last week to four million at 9pm. Andy Murray's Wimbledon victory highlights on Today At Wimbledon scored 2.97m at 10.30pm, while the match itself was the highest-rated programme of 2013 so far earlier in the day (see below). On ITV, Tipping Point attracted 3.10m at 7pm, followed by All-Star Mr & Mrs with 3.16m at 8pm. A broadcast of the movie Mamma Mia! brought in 2.16m at 9pm. Channel Four's Time Team special interested seven hundred and eighty two thousand at 8pm. The latest episode of The Returned grabbed just a fraction under a million punters at 9pm. On Channel Five, Big Brother continued with 1.17m at 9pm.

So, as noted, the BBC's coverage of Andy Murray's Wimbledon victory scored the highest ratings for 2013 so far on Sunday. The British number one's straight sets win over Novak Djokovic attracted a peak audience of 17.29 million on BBC1, with an average for the entire broadcast of 12.09 million from 1.45pm. It exceeded the TV audience for Murray's defeat in the 2012 final, which drew peak ratings of 16.9m and an 11.4m average. At the time, that was the biggest UK TV audience for any Wimbledon final for over twenty years. Murray's win became the second most-watched Wimbledon match of all time, after Bjorn Borg's five-set victory over John McEnroe in 1980, which was watched by 17.3 million punters. Murray is now, of course, odds-on favourite to win this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. Although, don't you actually have to have a personality to win the Sports Personality of the Year award? Oh no, hang on, Steve Davis won it one year, didn't he? Fair enough, precedent already set.

Meanwhile, here are the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Thirty programmes in Britain for week-ending 30 June 2013:-
1 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.93m
2 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.06m
3 The Apprentice - Wed BBC1 - 7.30m
4 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.91m
5 Wimbledon - Fri BBC1 - 5.92m
6 Paul O'Grady: For The Love Of Dogs - Thurs ITV - 5.73m
7 Top Gear - Sun BBC2 - 5.55m
8 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.52m
9 The White Queen - Sun BBC1 - 5.32m
10 Long Lost Family - Mon ITV - 5.01m*
11 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.76m
12 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.65m
13 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.48m
14 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 4.43m
15= Match Of The Day Live - Thurs BBc1 - 4.30m
15= Mrs Brown's Boys - Fri BBC1 - 4.30m
17 The Graham Norton Show - Fri BBC1 - 4.29m
18 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.28m
19 The National Lottery: In It To Win It - Sat BBC1 - 4.09m
20 Six O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 3.92m
21 Your Face Sounds Familiar - Sat ITV - 3.88m*
22 Formula 1: The British Grand Prix - Sun BBC1 - 3.80m
23= The National Lottery: Saturday Draws - Sat BBC1 - 3.67m
23= Miranda - Fri BBC1 - 3.67m
25= The ONE Show - Thurs BBC1 - 3.63m
25= All Star Mr & Mrs - Wed ITv - 3.63m*
27= Would I Lie To You? - Fri BBC1 - 3.59m
27= The Man With The Ten-Stone Testicles - Mon Channel Four - 3.59m
29 Love And Marriage - Wed ITV - 3.46m*
30 Secrets Of The Workhouse - Tues ITV - 3.45m*
Shows marked '*' do not include HD audiences figures.

And still there's more from the biggest single media non-story of the year. Yer actual Olivia Colman has 'played down' - idiotic - rumours linking her to the lead role in Doctor Who. The actress - who is due to star in Channel Four's new drama Run - was a bookies' favourite to replace Matt Smith and become the first female Doctor. Ignoring the fact that, as just about the most high-profile actress currently working in British telly, Olivia's diary is fully booked for most of the next year (and, probably, quite a bit beyond) and, as a consequence, fitting Doctor Who's ten-month-a-year filming schedule into such a scenario might, just, be a touch difficult. And also, ignoring the fact that the people who made up this crap (louse-scum tabloid journalists, or 'some people on the Internet with nothing better to do with their time,' seemingly) are, clearly, numskull planks of the highest order with no bloody brains in their head whatsoever. 'My brother sent me a text saying, "Congratulations, they've released odds on you being the new Doctor Who." Which we thought was very funny,' Olivia said. 'It's all on Twitter, isn't it? I don't have Twitter.' Jolly wise, Colly, m'love, it'll rot yer brain and give you a massively cocked-eyed view of the world. Despite the rumours, the Broadchurch actress advised fans of the BBC's long-running family SF drama not to 'put any money' on her landing the part. 'No-one's ever asked me about it,' she said. And nor are they going to because they know how busy you are and don't want to waste your time with such nonsense. 'I assume they would have to ask me for it to be true.' You'd think so, wouldn't you?

The Voice host Holly Willoughby ('she's alive!') has said that the show 'needs' a new female coach to replace the departed Jessie J. Or, you know, it 'needs' cancelling. One or the other.

And now, dear blog reader, here's a load more crap about full-of-their-own-importance z-list people whom you couldn't give a stuff about desperately forcing themselves upon a willing media with a cry of 'why isn't everybody talking about me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me?' Geordie Shore type-person Charlotte Crosby (no, me neither I'm afraid) has 'revealed' in an interview with New magazine (no, me neither I'm afraid) that cast members of the MTV show have, allegedly, been 'blacklisted' by I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want), even though 'they put porn stars and Page three girls' in the jungle. Yeah, but, you know, they have to draw the line with regard to attention-seeking non-entities somewhere, Charlotte. And, it would appear that you're it.

Researchers have compiled a list of the things which most bother us daily. They found that cold calling pressure selling was the biggest annoyance for sixty five per cent of people, while spam e-mails and pushy salespeople were at numbers two and three on the list. Stacey Stothard of Skipton Building Society, which conducted the study of two thousand adults, said: 'Us Brits have a bit of a reputation when it comes to grumbles. But it's really disheartening that by far the biggest bugbear for Brits today is the feeling of being under pressure to buy something. There's something to be said for the good old-fashioned values of listening to people and treating them as individuals - and not being pounced on for the purpose of fulfilling sales targets and ultimately satisfying corporate shareholders.' This blogger, as it happens, particularly enjoys annoying cold-calls, especially in the middle of a Monday morning when he's trying to pull himself together after a lazy Sunday doing nowt. 'Hello, may I speak to Meezda Tarping?' said a, very obviously Indian sub-continent, voice. 'Speaking,' yer actual Keith Telly Topping replied thinking to himself 'this should be fun'. 'I'm Michael from UK Financial Services, how are you today?' 'Well,' Keith Telly Topping his very self replied, 'actually I not feeling all that grand this morning, as it happens, Michael, thanks for asking. I've got a bit of headache, since you ask. Although, to be fair, that's normal after I've been on the computer for a couple of hours. And my back's giving me some serious gyp today, probably because of all that walking I did on Thursday and Friday. And then, of course, there's my left knee which is a constant source of pain and irritation and has been since I tweaked my cartilage when I was eighteen. And then, there's my high-blood pressure, and my over-active water-works and that cough that I just can't get rid of. And the niggling little pain in my right shoulder that the doctor's can't find what the problem is ... And, the other day, I actually found some blood in my poo. Did you just ring up to find out how I was or was there, actually, a point to this call?' At which point, the phone went dead. So, it would seem that UK Financial Services aren't, actually, all that interested in how I am today. Funny that.

'Filming the next BBC series, we decided to cut back on the transportation requirements,' wrote yer actual Professor Brian Cox on Twitter, before posting the following photo.
Meanwhile, Brian Cox (no, the other one) and Julie Graham have joined the cast of BB1 crime drama Shetland. A six-part second series, based on the Ann Cleeves novels, is currently shooting in Scotland. The new series is comprised of three two-part stories, adapted from the books Raven Black, Blue Lightning and Dead Water. Cox - the other one - will appear in Raven Black as Magnus Bain, a social outcast who finds himself at the centre of a murder investigation. Fellow Scot Julie Graham will star in both the first and third stories as procurator fiscal Rhona Kelly - a new recurring character. 'Rhona is a woman who commands attention so it's a joy to play such a strong female character,' said Graham. 'I loved the first series of Shetland and I'm delighted to be joining Dougie [Henshall] and the rest of the cast as a new returning character.' Shetland launched with a two-part pilot story on BBC1, broadcast in March - which was, actually, really rather good. A commission for a, longer, second series followed in April.

Barbara Windsor is to return to EastEnders for a one-off appearance in the autumn. The actress, who played Peggy Mitchell for sixteen years, left the soap in 2010. She will return for 'a very special episode' in which she comes to the aid of her eldest son, Phil, played by Steve McFadden. The actress said in a statement: 'It may only be a short visit, but it's a family matter and as Peggy always said "it's all about family." It is no secret how much I have always loved EastEnders and Peggy Mitchell - and by the number of times I'm constantly stopped by the great British public and asked either "when are you coming back?" or "please say get out of my pub," it seems they have too,' she said. Windsor's character left Albert Square after Phil, who had become a drug addict, set fire to the Queen Vic. Her storyline saw her character leave Walford for Portugal, after deciding it was the best way for Phil to turn his life around. Since leaving EastEnders Windsor has appeared in pantomime and presented a Radio 2 series on female comics. Her return to the soap will coincide with Samantha Womack reprising her role as Ronnie Mitchell. The storyline will see Phil in trouble once again as Roxy Mitchell plans her wedding to Alfie Moon. Lorraine Newman, executive producer of EastEnders, said she was 'delighted' Windsor would return to the soap. 'Peggy's surprise visit is a wonderful treat for our fans, as well as the cast and crew here on EastEnders. It's great to welcome her home,' she said.

According to a standard sneering piece in the Gruniad Morning Star Lord Patten was looking down in the dumps at the Channel Four-hosted All Party Parliamentary Media Group summer party last week about the prospect of facing a Public Accounts Committee grilling all on his own over the twenty five million smackers pay-off bill racked up over the past three years; a reckoning which former DG Mark Thompson has been able to put off to November. Patten, the newspaper crows, was 'making it very clear to anyone who would listen' that when he formally joined two years ago as chairman of the BBC Trust, the trustees spent the first six months 'just trying to force the executive committee, headed by Thompson, with Barclays banker Marcus Agius heading the remuneration committee, to take the issues of pay-offs, huge pension pots and executive pay seriously.' Which, the Gruniad conclude, 'puts that leak in January 2012 about headhunters being briefed to find a replacement director general for Tommo into some context.'
Nick Hewer has claimed that Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie may decide to quit The Apprentice in 2014. Lord Sugar-Sweetie's long-time advisor on the show stated that the ego behind the BBC series may decide to step down after ten years of the show. Oh well ... Bye then.

Sky Arts is reported to be about to drop Mariella's Book Show (formerly known as The Book Show). This, of course, means that its presenter yer actual Mariella Frostrup will be down to just one dedicated books programme, Radio 4's Open Book; while British television – since Channel Four's TV Book Club has been comatose, presumed dead, since spring 2012 – will be down to zero. Still, it's not all bad for Mariella. As Nigel Blackwell once noted in the excellent 'You're Hard', 'Mariella Frostrup does loads of voiceovers/and nothing much else yet she seems to get by.' Quite right.
John Barrowman is to host a new daytime quiz for BBC1. Pressure Pad will see contestants face general knowledge questions as they are 'put under pressure' by an interactive LED underfloor, Broadcast reports. BBC1 is said to have ordered twenty five episodes of the game show, from Twelve Yard Productions. 'Pressure Pad's interactive floor makes for a visually spectacular quiz show, and John Barrowman is the perfect front man to bring the format's addictive play-along rounds to life,' claimed Twelve Yard's Andy Culpin. Barrowman was also recently confirmed to host celebrity singing competition Sing Your Face Off for US network ABC.

When Tommy Watson (power to the people!) resigned from Labour's front bench for the third time in ten years, the latest victim of what appears to be a curse of The Leveson Inquiry, the sorry spectacle at least allowed Channel Four News to come up with the headline of the week, over a blog by its ace political reporter, Michael Crick: Crick on Watson's DNA. Oh, very good.
Fans of Doctor Who are being asked to contribute to a major exhibition at the National Media Museum in Bradford. The exhibition will focus on fans' devotion and relationship to the show, which is now in its fiftieth year. Exhibition curator Toni Booth said that she was hoping people would contribute official merchandise they have collected over the years. Also 'more personal home-made objects - the kind of things which show a fan's love for The Doctor,' she said. Booth added that the museum also wanted to hear of any interesting stories fans had related to the programme. 'We want to know why you have this object, when you got it, and your feelings towards Doctor Who then and now,' she said. So, if you happen to have a copy of Marco Polo episode one lying in a film can in your private collection, the NMM would be delighted to hear you, no doubt hilarious, story of the day you pinched it from the BBC film archive. And, so would the BBC for that matter. Fans have until 9 August to offer their memorabilia - and their consciences, perhaps - the organisers will then make a final selection for the exhibition.

So farewell, then, Blighty, the UKTV factual channel which - virtually unnoticed - passed away over the weekend. Blighty, of course, naturally followed the media group's shift towards more offbeat channel names, initiated by their most successful, Dave; but wasn't it perhaps a touch unwise to choose a name so close to to word 'blight'?

Morrissey - seemingly having got over the disappointment of being deposed as Egyptian president - has donated ten grand paid by Channel Four for the unauthorised use of a Smiths song to fund a campaign attacking Fortnum & Mason for selling foie gras. Channel Four failed to ask Morrissey's permission to use The Smiths' classic 'Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want' when promoting Gordon Ramsay's Christmas Cookalong Live show in 2011. The broadcaster is understood to have paid ten thousand smackers to former president Morrissey in 'recognition of its error' and he has donated the money to the animal rights charity People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA is using the ten thousand smackers to buy advertising space for its new campaign criticising Fortnum & Mason. Morrissey said: 'Ramsay may very well stick his head in his microwave when he hears that the money I received from Channel Four because one of my songs used to promote his Christmas show is being donated to PETA to fight foie gras. Foie gras is so cruelly produced that he'd be against it if he had an ethical bone in his body.' PETA's associate director, Mimi Bekhechi, said: 'With this generous gift, Morrissey is literally putting his money where his mouth is and combating cruelty to animals.' Fortnum & Mason has continued to sell foie gras, despite calls from animal rights groups to take the product off the shelves. A campaign by PETA featuring the former James Bond actor Roger Moore accused the retailer of selling 'torture in a tin.' A Channel Four spokesperson said: 'In this instance, a small payment was made additionally to our music blanket agreements for this trailer.'
Five people, including a prison officer, are to be charged in a probe into the selling of information to journalists on national newspapers. They include prison officer Scott Chapman, Chapman's ex-partner Lynn Gaffney and journalists Lucy Panton, Thomas Savage and Chris Pharo. It is alleged that Chapman sold details about 'a high-profile prisoner.' The CPS said that no further action would be taken relating to allegations against another journalist and three public officials. The charges arise from Operation Elveden, the Metropolitan Police's investigation into allegations involving the unlawful provision of information by public officials to journalists. Chapman, a prison officer at HMP Woodhill, is alleged to have sold information to the Scum of the World, the Sun, the Daily Mirra, the Sunday Mirra, the People, the Daily Lies and the Lies on Sunday. It is alleged that the payments were received via a conduit, Gaffney. Chapman and Gaffney are alleged to have received thirteen payments totalling nine thousand three hundred smackers from News International for eleven articles published in the Scum of the World and the Sun newspapers, thirteen payments totalling twelve thousand eight hundred knicker from Scum Express Newspapers for twenty three articles published in the the Daily Lies and the Lies on Sunday, thirteen thousand and fifty pounds in payments from Trinity Mirra for fourteen articles published in the the Daily Mirra, the Sunday Mirra and the People. Former Scum of the World crime editor Lucy Panton and Lies on Sunday deputy news editor Thomas Savage will be charged with one count each of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office. Savage is the first non-News International journalist to have been charged with an offence in relation to the Met's various probes into phone-hacking and related activities. It is alleged that Chris Pharo gave authorisation for payments to public officials employed at Broadmoor secure hospital and Thames Valley, Surrey and Metropolitan police forces, as well as officers in the British army and prison officials. He was news editor and later head of news at the Sun at the time. He will be charged with one count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

In June 2011 (under its then controller Richard Klein and reflecting the strategy of the then controller of television, George Entwistle), BBC4 announced it would be giving up drama and comedy, and 'focus' increasingly on culture. Those changes have only really started to make their mark on the highly-regarded channel this year, with the switch of The Review Show from BBC2 and the news that a forthcoming Richard Burton and Liz Taylor biopic would be the network's last drama. Hold on, though: Klein has now gone and a new head of television, yer actual Danny Cohen, has been installed and a classic - but, for once, welcome - BBC volte face appears possible. The Beeb 'might regret' limiting BBC4 to arts, Cohen apparently told a media conference last week, adding that 'part of BBC4's strength is multi-genre. We're looking at whether it's right to take those genres off BBC4.' So, it's a big welcome back, to the best channel in the world, it would seem.

Odious nasal-voiced horrorshow (and drag) Colin Murray is to leave BBC Radio 5Live to join rival station TalkSport. Which is great news, frankly, as he's total rubbish and Talksport are pure dead welcome to him along with all of their other cast of has-beens and never-weres.
The British and US spy programmes which allow intelligence agencies to - allegedly - gather, store and share data on millions of people have been challenged in a legal claim brought by privacy campaigners. Papers filed on Monday call for an 'immediate suspension' of Britain's use of material from the Prism programme, which is run by America's National Security Agency. They also demand a temporary injunction to the Tempora programme, which allows Britain's spy centre, GCHQ, to harvest millions of e-mails, phone calls and Skype conversations from the undersea cables which carry Internet traffic in and out of the country. Lawyers acting for the UK charity Privacy International say that the programme is 'not necessary or proportionate.' They say the laws being used to justify mass data trawling are being abused by intelligence officials and ministers, and need to be urgently reviewed. Privacy International has submitted a claim to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which is supposed to review all complaints about the conduct of Britain's spy agencies. The organisation hopes for a public hearing and early rulings because of the seriousness of the situation. The group was prompted into legal action by Edward Snowden and the leak of top secret papers he gave to the Gruniad Morning Star. This led to a series of stories about the extent of modern-day surveillance and the disclosure of activities that have provoked a worldwide debate about the behaviour of western intelligence agencies. In a twenty two-page statement of grounds, Privacy International refers to the Prism programme, which allows the NSA to intercept the communications of non-US citizens living outside America from global Internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo. The Gruniad Morning Star revealed that some of this information has been shared with GCHQ. So far the government has refused to say under exactly what legal authority this has been done – if GCHQ had wanted to get this material for itself in the UK, it would have needed to apply under the Regulatory of Investigatory Powers act for a warrant from a minister. Campaigners fear that Britain is circumventing its own rules to make it easier to get intelligence, and that the e-mails and calls of Britons are almost certainly being swept up by the NSA. 'The contents of an individual's phone calls and e-mails and the websites they visit can be information of a obviously private nature,' the claim says. 'If UK authorities are to be permitted to access such information in relation to those located in the UK in secret and without their knowledge or consent, the European convention on human rights requires there to be a legal regime in place which contains sufficient safeguards against abuse of power and arbitrary use. There is no such regime.' In modern communications, e-mails and phone calls made in the UK pass electronically through the US and can be intercepted by the NSA. 'Through their access to the US programme, UK authorities are able to obtain private information about UK citizens without having to comply with any requirements of RIPA,' the claim argues. The second ground focuses on Tempora, a system that stores for up to thirty days vast quantities of data drawn from undersea Internet cables. The Gruniad claimed that this programme is part of an over-arching project at GCHQ called 'Mastering the Internet.' And, when you say that, you have to cackle, and stroke a cat. It's The Law. The data is shared with NSA and by last year five hundred and fifty analysts from both countries were filtering through the contents. Privacy International argues this amounts to 'blanket surveillance. Such surveillance cannot be justified as a proportionate response to a legitimate aim. Bulk interception of communications and bulk inspection of such data is disproportionate interference with the rights guaranteed by article eight of the ECHR, and it is not being undertaken pursuant to a legal regime containing sufficient safeguards to render it in accordance with the law.' The claim says that RIPA 'does not provide sufficiently specific or clear authorisation for such wide-ranging and universal interception of communications, nor any sufficient or proper safeguards against misuse that are known and available to the public.' The government's counter-argument, essentially, appears to be 'we're the sodding government, we can do whatever the effing fek we like.' Which is, certianly one view point. Carly Nyst, the head of international advocacy at Privacy International, said that the group had wanted to bring the legal challenge through a normal court so the arguments could be heard in public. But the British government had insisted the group go through the IPT, which has only ever upheld ten complaints against any of the agencies from more than one thousand cases. 'We have been forced to take our concerns to a secret tribunal, the IPT,' she said. 'It shouldn't be a surprise. Why would the government want their dirty laundry aired in public when it can be handled by a quasi-judicial body that meets and deliberates in secret, the decisions of which are neither public nor appealable to any higher authority?' She added: 'In one of the world's most respected and stable democracies, there exists a system of 'oversight' that would be at home in any authoritarian regime. A public debate about the covert activities of British intelligence services is drastically needed and long overdue.' Eric King, head of research at Privacy International, added: 'One of the underlying tenets of law in a democratic society is the accessibility and foreseeability of a law. If there is no way for citizens to know of the existence, interpretation, or execution of a law, then the law is effectively secret. And secret law is not law. It is a fundamental breach of the social contract if the government can operate with unrestrained power in such an arbitrary fashion.' The civil rights group Liberty has also made a complaint to the IPT. It believes that its own electronic communications and those of its staff may have been unlawfully intercepted by the security services and GCHQ.

Yer actual Gary Lineker his very self has 'blasted' (that's tabloid-speak for 'criticised' only with less syllables) British politicians for getting tickets to the Wimbledon men's singles final. Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour leader Ed Milimolimandi and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond were all in attendance at Sunday's event. The Match Of The Day host was incandescent in his righteous fury and tweeted his displeasure to the twattersphere: 'What a waste of great tickets,' he wrote. 'Politicians who have forever overlooked and disrespected sport.' Ooh, blimey. You do not wanna get yer actual Gazza Lineker angry, dear blog reader. He's nails. Under that angelic choirboy exterior beats the anger of the proper pissed-off geezer whose got his mad right up and wants the world to know it, baby. The politicians all turned up to see Andy Murray win Wimbledon (although watching their boat-races at the end had he lost would have been even funnier that watching Murray's scowling chops. Because, there's nothing a British politician hates more than backing a loser. In the event, Murray clinched his first Wimbledon singles championship against Novak Djokovic. The Olympic gold medallist became the first British men's singles champion at the tournament since Fred Perry in 1936, after beating the world number one in straight sets.

The government's plan for a total ban on animals in travelling circuses in England 'goes too far', MPs have said. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee suggested creatures such as camels, zebras and snakes could still take part in entertainments. But it decided that lions, tigers and elephants no longer 'have a place.' The government wants wild animals banned from circuses from December 2015, with fines of up to five grand imposed on owners who flout the law. The decision followed a long campaign led by Conservative MP Mark Pritchard. But the committee raised doubts over whether the ban, as laid out in the government's draft parliamentary bill, might be challenged under European law. It also looked at the relationship between circuses and other forms of entertainment involving animals, saying: 'It is not clear that there is a material difference between those who keep wild birds for falconry displays and those who keep such birds for displays in a circus. Nor is the difference clear between having a display involving a raccoon in a circus or a raccoon in an act on Britain's Got Talent.' I have to be honest, dear blog reader, if there was a raccoon act on Britain's Got Toilets, I might watch. Especially if it was rabid and ran amok climaxing in the beast savaging the face off Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads. That'd certainly be more entertaining than a dancing dog, wouldn't it? The report added that separating some domesticated animals deemed 'wild' (or, indeed, 'absolutely livid') such as raccoons, from their lifelong keeper or trainer might not be in their 'best interests.' There are currently twenty one licensed wild animals working in two circuses in England, including camels, zebras and snakes, but not elephants, monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees or big cats. The committee's chairwoman, Conservative MP Anne McIntosh, said: 'The committee agrees with the government that the days when it was appropriate to have animals like lions or elephants travelling with circuses are long past, but the ban proposed in draft legislation goes too far in restricting the type of animals which travelling circuses might use. We believe that there should be a ban on big cat species and elephants, but it is possible to argue that, for example, camels, zebra or snakes can continue to have a place in the travelling circus.' The issue was highlighted last November, when circus owner Bobby Roberts was found guilty of mistreating a fifty eight-year-old elephant called Anne. But Miss McIntosh said: 'The government itself accepts that there is no overwhelming welfare case for a ban on wild animals in travelling circumstances, and there is already legislation to deal with any welfare abuse, such as the case involving Anne the Asian elephant last year. There is also a regulation system in place since the beginning of this year, and we believe that the government should narrow the provisions of the draft bill and include a proscribed list of animals that can no longer be used in travelling circuses.' Prior to the ban coming into force, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has introduced a 'tough licensing scheme' it claims will 'ensure the welfare of wild animals.' The government invited the committee to scrutinise its draft parliamentary bill. Negotiations are under way with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland devolved administrations to see whether a UK-wide ban is achievable.

The father of a BBC journalist who killed himself after complaining about harassment has called for the corporation to 'take action' against employees who 'mishandled' his concerns. Peter Joslin said that the BBC should 'hold responsible' individuals found by a damning internal report to have 'bungled' complaints made by his son, Russell, a BBC Coventry and Warwickshire local radio journalist who killed himself in October 2012. 'What I would like to see is those people held responsible for the mistakes they made,' Joslin told BBC Radio 5Live on Tuesday. 'They're holding positions where perhaps they might not have learned lessons and I wouldn't want that to happen to anyone else.' A BBC inquiry into Joslin's death - published in March - found that the local management mishandled allegations, including one of sexual harassment, made by Joslin about his colleague. Peter Joslin said that his son had filed a formal complaint of 'bullying and harassment' on 11 October last year, eleven days before he killed himself. 'He was a very strong character but he was frightened that if pressure were put on and if things were said and done about it, it might cause him to lose his job, then he would be very worried indeed,' he told 5Live. Joslin, a retired chief constable, said he 'could not understand' why the the colleague accused of bullying has never been, formally, identified. 'I'm the longest-serving police officer in the country – for forty four years I served with Warwickshire police – and I cannot understand why this is so. I assume there must be reasons within the media I don't understand,' he said. Asked whether he believed libel laws had prevented media outlets from naming the person, Joslin said: 'Yes.' The BBC on Tuesday refused to say whether it had taken disciplinary action against the individual or, indeed, any employee found to have mishandled Joslin's complaints. A separate internal investigation into Joslin's death found 'there was evidence that the standards of behaviour we expect were not adhered to,' but that there were no grounds for proceeding with an allegation of sexual harassment or bullying. He added: 'What broke him in the end was that they said there had been no original complaint. He knew there was because he'd made sure it was there.' The BBC said it has 'taken a number of steps' to address failings exposed by Joslin's death, including opening a confidential bullying hotline and improved training for managers in harassment and mental health. The corporation added in a statement: 'Russell Joslin was a respected and much-loved member of the team at Radio Coventry and Warwickshire. He is greatly missed. The BBC extends our deepest condolences to Russell's family, friends and colleagues. We apologised unreservedly at the time of the Granger report at the way the BBC handled Russell's concerns and we apologise again today to Russell's family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time. We have learned lessons from this and we have made progress with the recommendations outlined in Lesley Granger's report but we recognise that this is an ongoing process. The BBC would like to assure Russell's family that we remain absolutely committed to implementing these improvements.'

Fears that the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony might have come under cyber-attack have been detailed by officials for the first time. The concern was that the lights could have been turned off during the ceremony. Which, to be fair, would've rather spoiled Danny Boyle's carefully-constructed homage to Britain that went down so well with pretty much everyone, except some shitehawk Tory MPs. The threat, obviously, did not materialise, but officials have told the BBC that they put 'extensive precautions' in place. It comes amid fears about the vulnerability of Britain's national infrastructure to cyber-attack. The head of the government's surveillance centre GCHQ, Sir Iain Lobban, says that 'reconnaissance' has taken place in cyberspace and there is 'a realistic threat', which his intelligence agency is 'working with partners' to try to counter. Yes, mate. We've noticed you working with partners a lot, recently. 'There was a suggestion that there was a credible attack on the electricity infrastructure supporting the games,' Olympic cyber security head Oliver Hoare, who received the call, told BBC Radio 4 - in the first interview an official has given on the events that day. 'And the first reaction to that is, "Goodness, you know, let's make a strong cup of coffee."' Really? Cos, I have to be honest, this blogger's initial reaction in such circumstances would've been something closer to 'Jesus H Christ, pass me a new pair of underkeks, I've just shat meself.' Oliver is, obviously, a more calm and collected chap than yer actual Keith Telly Topping. 'If the lights had gone off during the opening ceremony, with close to a billion people watching, the impact would have been enormous. When it came to risks to the games, cyber attacks had been lower down the list than terrorism, which could cause real loss of life, but extensive testing had still taken place for a range of different possibilities. This included precisely the scenario that raised concerns on the opening day. We'd tested no less than five times the possibility of an attack, a cyber-attack, on the electricity infrastructure,' said Hoare. This would prove vital in ensuring an effective response from a team that stretched across government, the Olympic organisers LOCOG and private sector service providers such as BT. The initial response to the threat came from the Olympic Cyber co-ordination team, based at MI5 headquarters in Thames House. There were two priorities. The first was to investigate how credible the threat might be. The information had come in overnight and was based on the discovery of attack tools and targeting information that it was thought at the time might relate to the Olympics. While this investigation continued, officials also put in place contingency plans in case the attack materialised. Time was not on their side. 'The clock was absolutely ticking,' recalled Hoare, who worked first for the Olympic Delivery Authority and then the Government Olympic Executive. He, and others interviewed for the story, declined to speak in explicit detail about the preparations put in place. 'We effectively switched to manual, or had the facility to switch to manual. It's a very crude way of describing it. But we had lots of technicians stationed at various points,' he said. In the afternoon a meeting was held in the Cabinet Office briefing room (although it was not a formal meeting of COBRA, the government's emergency response committee), chaired by deputy national security adviser Oliver Robbins, where different partners could join in videoconferencing from places such as the Olympic Park. Contingency plans were discussed and ministers informed. Confidence grew that if the threat materialised it could be dealt with. Hoare recalls a conversation an hour or so before the opening ceremony, in which he asked someone how the situation looked. 'Good news,' the individual IN QUESTION replied. 'If the lights go down we can get them up and running regardless within thirty seconds.' That did not entirely reassure Hoare. 'Thirty seconds at the opening ceremony with the lights going down would have been catastrophic in terms of reputational hit,' he said. 'So I watched the opening ceremony with a great deal of trepidation.' Other officials said, although they were confident every contingency had been prepared for, that did not prevent some nerves. 'You wouldn't be human if you didn't have butterflies,' one recalled. Hoare said that watching at home with his family, who did not know about the threat, he twitched every time the lights dimmed. In the end the threat turned out to be a false alarm. But it does highlight a growing fear about the vulnerability of Britain's critical infrastructure to cyber-attack. Increasing numbers of services are being connected to the Internet, from power stations through to smart meters in people's homes. This brings many benefits and efficiencies for people's daily lives but also provides a new access point for those seeking to do harm, whether bedroom hackers or foreign states. 'We have seen technical reconnaissance of parts of our critical national infrastructure,' Sir Iain told the BBC. 'Not to such an extent that we would raise a red flag but certainly we've seen an interest, an intentional interest, in parts of that infrastructure.' The GCHQ head said that the UK, along with its allies, was 'looking at how compromises and penetrations might occur' and how to guard against them. This year the UK is expected to launch its first national computer emergency response team. Until now, the UK has had government Certs but not a broader national team, unlike many other countries. The real challenges on critical infrastructure, as with the Olympics, lies in the meeting point between government and private sector and ensuring that the right people with the right technical expertise are in the right place.

Yer actual Eddie Izzard has travelled to Iraq to report on the crisis facing Syrian refugees in the country. The comedian made the journey to Domiz camp in the North of Iraq – originally designed for fifteen thousand and now crammed with over forty five thousand people – with Unicef. The number of people entering the country has tripled over the past six months and it is likely to double again by the end of the year to three hundred and fifty thousand. During his first day in the camp where temperatures reach forty five degrees, Eddie said: 'Syrian children across the region have lost everything. I've heard refugee children in Iraq tell how they fled horrific violence and how they lost loved ones, their homes and their schools. They arrived here with only their clothes on their back. These children have experienced things that no child should – and now they are being forced to struggle as refugees, rebuilding their lives in a country that most Brits would still remember as a war zone, not a place of safety.' Eddie has just become an ambassador for Unicef, and travelled to highlight the child refugee crisis. The number of children fleeing Syria for neighbouring countries will soon hit one million, and Unicef are fundraising to send specialist psychological support, safe drinking water and vaccinations - as well as getting children back to school. However, the agency has raised only around a third of the money needed this year.

Alan Pardew insists he is still in charge of team affairs at yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though, tragically, unsellable) Newcastle United following that arsehole Joe Kinnear's appointment as Director of Football. Or, if what Pardew says is true, effectively, Director of Eff-All. The Magpies owner, flabby billionaire tyrant Mike Ashley, brought former boss Kinnear back to Tyneside to 'oversee recruitment', with Pardew formally reporting to the foul-mouthed sixty six-year-old fantasist. However, Pardew claims that he is 'confident' he will maintain control of first-team affairs. 'I'm my own man and I will manage this football club to the best of my ability,' he told BBC Newcastle's Mick Lowes. Kinnear's arrival at Newcastle was shrouded in controversy when, like the biggest plank in the whole world, Kinnear announced the news himself through interviews with television stations and on radio before the club had confirmed the news, days later. Kinnear claimed after his appointment that his job as Director of Eff-All did 'not put pressure' on Pardew, amid questions about how this alteration in the club's management structure would impact on the manager's future. Kinnear, spectacularly, made a number of factually incorrect statements in his various media outbursts, such as claiming to have signed goalkeeper Tim Krul and defender James Perch for United when, in actual fact, he had nothing to do with the recruitment of either and wildly exaggerating his achievements in the game. He also mispronounced the names of several Newcastle players. At one point there appeared the genuine possibility that he was about to announce that he was up for the part of The Doctor after Matt Smith goes. 'Some of the things Joe said, he's apologised for, especially getting the names wrong of our players. That needs to be corrected, because there's a certain respect needed there,' Pardew noted. 'I spoke to one or two players and my staff here and made them very aware of where the position lies. If Joe can persuade Mike to invest in the football club in the right manner, then that would be the best outcome for us. As well as we've done on the transfer market, there's always room for improvement and I spoke to Joe and told him where I think the weaknesses in the squad are. I told him I need to strengthen them and I've got a couple of ideas.' The appointment of Kinnear also led to confusion regarding the position of the club's acclaimed chief scout Graham Carr, but he along with Pardew and Kinnear will continue to source signings - at least, for the time being. What has changed at the club is the departure of managing director Derek Llambias, with facets of his former post shared between finance director John Irving and secretary Lee Charnley. 'You could say Joe is fulfilling the role that Derek had to a degree, but Lee will fill the other part of that role, he's got great experience,' Pardew added. 'Between myself, Lee and Joe we hope to get some transfers over the line, and some out by the way, because the squad is probably a little thick in some areas. Graham comes up with one or two suggestions, I come up with the same, we probably have a list of four that myself and Graham think will take the team forward, we present that to Joe, and he presents it to the owner. Joe has to dress that up for the chairman in terms of the finance, in terms of how it will work and then Lee comes in and hopefully we get the player over the line. Mike feels Joe probably knows the scene better than Derek. That might be Mike's opinion, but as far as I'm concerned the most important factor for Joe is transfers.' So, there you go, as clear as mud. After arriving at St James' Park in December 2010, Pardew led Newcastle United to twelfth place in the Premier League, a highly creditable finish, but his first full season in charge surpassed all expectations. Fuelled by the signings of Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, the Magpies only just missed out on a Champions League place, finishing fifth. However, a lack of signings in the build-up to last season, added to the extra demands of European football in the Europa League, took its toll on Newcastle's Premier League form in 2012-13, and although January signings such as Moussa Sissoko, Mathieu Debuchy and Yoan Gouffran helped to stabilise their form, a sixteenth place finish was a severe disappointment following the apparent progress of the previous year. 'I've been involved with clubs where if you take the title away, it's a similar role,' Pardew noted about working with a Director of Eff-All. 'I had Les Reed at Southampton; I had the Chairman at Southampton who was quite influential - probably more influential than Joe has any intention of being - so I have got experience of it. When I was at West Ham I had Trevor Brooking to lean on so I've had good experiences and bad experiences of it. I'm very open minded to Joe's position and I'll take it as I see it, but one thing that you need to know and people who work with me will know - I'm my own man, I'll manage this football club, manage this team to the best of my ability. I think that on the back of last year, I'm even more motivated to do well this year.' He added: 'I was disappointed on the sidelines last year with the performances, nothing more. The fans never upset me once if I'm honest. A couple of the media I thought were a little bit personal, as managers you have to wear that and take that on the chin and I'm long enough in the tooth to be able to do that. On the whole, I thought the fans were pretty tolerant if I'm honest and as you say, I lost a few fans along the way. I've gotta win 'em back. So I intend to do that and that's really how my mind works. I look at the squad and I think we've got a good squad. We don't have the inexperience that we had last year of Europe. I know people talk about excuses of Europe, injuries or whatever, same old same old, but was it was an impact - you can't get away from it. Swansea are gonna find out this year when they play Thursday to Sunday - we ain't got that. I'm looking forward to giving these players a week's work and then a game, week's work and then a game. If you look at my record with that it's very good in the Premier League when I've had that period. The two cups last year were deeply disappointing, they fell at very difficult times for us particularly the FA Cup. I've got to be honest, it really upset me that team because I know sometimes fans think a manager's not as emotional as them, trust me that's not the case. I'm almost an adopted Geordie, trust me and on my travels I've seen many fans this summer and they've all relayed to me that they really want us to do better than last year and I do as well. My message to them really and truly is that I've got a seven year contract left to manage this football club and I'm gonna manage it to the best of my ability and I hope that what we wish for is what I can deliver.'

Now, is this the greatest local newspaper headline ever? I think it might be.

So, anyway, it remains bloody hot, a fact reflected in today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. 'Hey Mickey, what's incoherently mean?'

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