Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I'm Imprisoned By These Chains

Jeremy Clarkson his very self took home more than fourteen million smackers for his Top Gear work last year, including his presenter's salary and payments relating to the hit show's global commercial success. All this according to a spectacularly ignorant, shit-stirring, spiteful, judgmental and scummishly trite article from some middle-class hippie Communist louse of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star. So, no surprise there, then. Yer man Clarkson reportedly received a £4.86m dividend payment from the company he set up some years ago as a joint venture with the BBC to exploit Top Gear's global commercial potential, in addition to his presenter's salary, understood to be just under one million smackers. He received an additional £8.4m for his thirty per cent stake in Bedder Six, after the BBC struck a deal in September to take full control of the company, bringing Clarkson's total earnings for the year to the end of March to more than fourteen million notes. 'Only his presenting fee is paid for out of the licence fee' the louse at the Gruniad notes, rather disappointedly. So, in other - slightly less prejudicial - words, a businessman who is the director of a company set up to exploit the commercial rights of product of his own devising (along with partner Andy Wilman) has become one of the few things in Britain currently making a profit. And we're supposed to, what, be outraged by that? BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, went into partnership with Clarkson and Top Gear executive producer Wilman – who had a twenty per cent stake in Bedder Six – in 2008, channelling revenues from the global exploitation of the brand through the company. Clarkson has earned £10.24m in dividends from the arrangement over five years. On Tuesday as BBC Wordwide published its annual report for the twelve months to the end of March, it revealed that Wilman received £5.6m for his Bedder Six stake. Bedder Six also paid an £8.1m dividend for the year to the end of March, split sixty-forty between the duo. 'No licence fee income was used by BBC Worldwide to pay the exiting shareholders of Bedder Six in 2012,' said a spokesman for BBC Worldwide. Although quite why they felt they needed to explain this and why they didn't ask what the frig business it was of the Gruniad Morning Star in the first place are, perhaps, questions best left for another day when tempers have cooled somewhat. 'In just five years the business grew its profits five-fold (and its revenue to one hundred and forty nine million pounds), which would not have been possible without the involvement of the show's creative talent. The deal also secured the future of the Top Gear brand for the BBC and BBC Worldwide and we now benefit from one hundred per cent of its profit stream.' BBC Worldwide, which said that it received a dividend from Bedder Six of £7.5m in the year to the end of March, lodged total costs of £16.2m on its balance sheet relating to the takeover of the fifty per cent of Bedder Six it did not already own. The commercial arm of the BBC reported a fifty five per cent surge in pre-tax profits to £160.9m, thanks in part to £35.7m from the sale of assets including the Lonely Planet franchise. Total revenues increased by three per cent to £1.16bn in the year to the end of March. BBC Worldwide said that its operation had delivered one hundred and fifty six million knicker to the corporation's licence fee paying arm. The BBC said that stripping out the impact of asset sales, which includes eight million notes from selling down its 24.9 per cent stake in Strike Back maker Left Bank to 12.2 per cent in a deal with Sony Pictures, its profits still rose twenty one per cent year-on-year. BBC Worldwide sold Lonely Planet in March for just over fifty one million wonga, after controversially paying one hundred and thirty million quid for the travel guides business several years earlier. At the time of the sale the BBC Trust criticised Worldwide for incurring a 'significant financial loss.' The corporation had already written down the value of Lonely Planet by sixty seven million quid over the last six years and said on Tuesday that it made just fifteen million smackers from the sale. 'Despite this accounting gain, we have made a net cash loss on our investment of approximately eighty million pounds,' the company said in its annual report. 'Although this has not proved to be a good commercial investment, at the time of purchase there was a credible rationale for this deal.' BBC Worldwide said that the sale of Lonely Planet marked the 'end of an era' of expansion, with a focus now on building 'the BBC brand' and 'exploiting the corporation's content.' Best-selling programmes of the year were David Attenborough's Africa, sold in one hundred and ninety five territories, Top Gear USA (one hundred and seventy four territories), Ripper Street and Parade's End (more than one hundred and twenty territories) and Sherlock (just under one hundred territories). However, BBC Worldwide's global brands division – which manages key shows including Top Gear, Doctor Who and Dancing With The Stars – saw losses widen to £26.2m. Revenues fell from one hundred and forty six million knicker to one hundred and forty one million smackers. Growth was driven by the programme sales and international channels divisions. Sales of shows such as Doctor Who and Top Gear grew with revenues rising seven per cent year on year to £312.3m and profits growing almost ten per cent to seventy nine million quid. The division that runs BBC Worldwide's thirty four branded international channels saw revenues grow by seven per cent to three hundred and sixty nine million notes and profits rise by thirteen per cent to £47.8m. TV advertising sales rose by 2.9 per cent and BBC America was up 27.8 per cent. The content and production operation, which develops, commissions and acquires shows from producers, grew revenues to £151.2m and profits to £12.1m. The consumer products division, which sells DVDs and was hit by HMV going into administration, saw revenues slump by fourteen per cent to £181.6m and profits dive by twenty one per cent to £38.8m. Employee numbers fell from two thousand six hundred and two to two thousand three hundred and thirty three with staff costs, including wages and pensions, falling from one hundred and ninety million quid to one hundred and seventy nine million. Directors' remuneration grew from £1.49m to £2.33m, largely due to a four hundred and fifty grand payout for loss of office as well as bonus payments to long-serving chief executive John Smith, who left BBC Worldwide in late 2012.

The latest - shocking - episode of Luther topped Tuesday's overnight ratings outside of soaps. Idris Elba's BBC1 drama, which climaxed with the apparent death of a regular character easily won the night with 4.41m viewers at 9pm. On BBC2, Raymond Blanc's How To Cook Well interested 1.42m (at 8pm, followed by The Cruise with 1.39m at 8.30pm. Route Masters was seen by 1.73m at 9pm. ITV had a thoroughly miserable night, soaps apart. Nature's Newborns appealed to but 2.23m at 7.30pm and Alan Titchmarsh's Love Your Garden attracted a mere 2.39m at 8pm. Robson Green's How the North was Built was watched by just 1.76m at 9pm. Channel Four's Gok Like was seen by eight hundred and eight nine thousand punters at 8pm, followed by Princess Diana's Dress: The Auction with 1.91m. Run's second episode dropped by almost two hundred thousand overnight viewers to 1.07 at 10pm. On Channel Five, CSI brought in 1.51m at 9pm.

The BBC is abolishing the practice of squeezing credits at the end of programmes after it has proved infuriating for many viewers. This blogger included, let it be noted. The practice has been dispensed with in favour of a new system which manages to inform viewers about upcoming programmes without crunching down the list of credits. The BBC's desire to address the problem was announced by new BBC director-general Tony Hall in an interview with the Radio Times and the BBC introduced a new system on Friday. Responding to a question from Radio Times reader Janet Hooles, who claimed that 'squashing credits into unreadable sizes at the end of a programme shows total disrespect for those taking part in the production.' Hall said: 'We're changing it. It's the curtain call. You want to make sure that the creative team get their proper bow. So we have got a new way of doing it, starting right away.' There will still be voice over continuity announcements which some viewers may still object to because they feel it interferes with the enjoyment of theme music. The wish to change the practise is also not new – earlier this year the BBC promised that every comedy or drama would have the credits run in full and uninterrupted on at least one episode of its run. However the BBC's move was still welcomed by performers' union Equity which has long campaigned against the practise. The union’s deputy general secretary Martin Brown told Radio Times: 'Equity members will be delighted that the ending of credit squeezing at the BBC. We know from our own research that legible credits are as important to audiences as they are to our members and we applaud the BBC for making this change.' The practice has also long infuriated viewers. In 2007 Mark Thompson, then BBC director general, received what was said to be 'an irate letter' from yer actual Dame Judi Dench who complained about credit squeezing. Recently Equity published research in which a large number of the ten thousand respondents to a survey expressed near universal disgust with credit squeezing, complaining how it 'ruined' their viewing experience and prompted them to switch sides. Sky has already promised to abolish the practice altogether after its own research found three-quarters of its own viewers believe that these are important for actors and has promised that end credits on programmes commissioned and acquired. Sky's own research found more than a third of its customers – thirty six per cent – like to read end credits, and thirty nine per cent feel they are 'important' for viewers. About three-quarters of its viewers – seventy one per cent – also say 'end credits are important for actors.' In his question and answer with Radio Times readers, Hall has also called upon actors appearing in BBC dramas to 'stop muttering'. He said: 'I don't want to sound like a grumpy old man, but I also think muttering is something we could have a look at. Actors muttering can be testing – you find you have missed a line, you have to remember that you have an audience.'

Sherlock co-creator yer actual Mark Gatiss has signed up for a role in Game of Thrones' fourth season. Mark his very self who found fame in the surrealist comedy The League Of Gentleman, is most well known for his role as Mycroft in BBC1's Sherlock and also for his work as a writer on Doctor Who. Entertainment Weekly broke the 'exclusive' news about Gatiss starring in next year's season of Game of Thrones, but his role is currently being kept secret. Gatiss is appearing at this year's Comic-Con event in San Diego promoting the third series of Sherlock.

She had explained the global economic crisis to an audience of millions, but BBC Breakfast's business presenter Stephanie McGovern has claimed that colleagues treated her as 'too common for telly' because of her Teesside accent. McGovern complained that she 'regularly' received 'abuse' from viewers about her accent and that one BBC manager told her: 'I didn't realise people like you were clever.' Writing in the Radio Times, McGovern alleged: 'Despite being a business journalist at the BBC for ten years, working behind the scenes on our high-profile news programmes, I was viewed by some in the organisation to be "too common for telly."' McGovern has presented financial news on BBC1's morning show for nearly a year and previously was a lead producer on BBC1's main news bulletins and BBC Radio 4's Today programme. But it appears that not all viewers have been endeared by the Middlesbrough-born journalist despite her business acumen. 'The first question I get will be, "What are Bill and Susanna like in real life?" – I'm happy to report they're lovely – and then it's, "Where's your accent from?" which I like to chat about. But, unfortunately, there are quite a few people out there who are nasty about the way I talk,' she wrote. 'You would think that after nearly two years in the job, people would be used to my Teesside tones. To be fair most are, but there are still some viewers who can't accept that someone with my accent can have a brain. It means that I regularly get abuse about it. I've had tweets questioning whether I really did go to university because surely I would have lost my accent if I did; a letter suggesting, very politely, that I get "correction therapy" and an e-mail saying I should "get back to my council estate" and leave the "serious work to the clever folk."' McGovern first appeared on BBC screens aged nineteen as a guest after winning a Young Engineer for Britain award for a design which helped save Black & Decker more than a million quid. Shortly after her appearance she was appointed the main producer of Today on Radio 4, running coverage of major stories including the trial of former Daily Torygraph proprietor Conrad Black in Chicago. She added that some viewers had complained that 'people with regional accents can't use the English language correctly. It's inevitable that not everyone will like me, and that some will find me annoying. That's fine. All presenters deal with that. What's scary is the ignorance about what having a regional accent means, or indeed doesn't mean. It certainly doesn't equal ignorance,' she said. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'Steph does a fantastic job on BBC Breakfast. If her accent was an issue for some in the past during her career then it certainly isn't now.'
The Sun's deputy editor, Geoff Webster, has pleaded not guilty to authorising payments to public officials in return for information. Webster, fifty four, of Winchet Hill in Kent, is accused of two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. He was arrested as part of the Met's Operation Elveden into allegations of corrupt and illegal payments to public officials. Webster spoke only to enter formal not guilty pleas at the Old Bailey on Wednesday. One count alleges that he authorised one of his journalists to pay six thousand five hundred smackers to a public official between January 2004 and January 2012. The other count alleges he authorised a payment of fifteen hundred quid to another 'unknown' official in November 2010. Operation Elveden is running alongside Operation Weeting, the investigation into allegations of phone-hacking and Operation Tuleta, which is looking at computer hacking and other alleged nefarious skulduggery.

Six newspaper staff including four Sun journalists staff have appeared in court accused of paying public officials for information including details about Broadmoor patients, police investigations and a member of the royal family. Three others including public officials and one of their former partners also appeared at Westminster magistrates' court to face charges arising from Scotland Yard's Operation Elveden on Thursday. At least forty people, including fellow Sun staff, their family and friends, sat in the public gallery to show their solidarity, among them the paper's deputy editor Geoff Webster who, as noted above, on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to conspiring to commit misconduct in public office. Those in court also included the first non-News UK journalist to face charges, Daily Lies Sunday deputy editor Tom Savage. Others included Sun journalist Jamie Pyatt, the paper's pictures editor, John Edwards and Robert Neave, a former healthcare assistant at Broadmoor Hospital. They were each charged with one count of conspiring together, and with persons unknown, to commit misconduct in a public office. It is alleged that over a period of almost nine years the Sun newspaper paid more than thirty grand to public officials including police officers, army personnel and Broadmoor staff. The prosecution alleged that Pyatt and Edwards had paid for information 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. The Sun's head of news Chris Pharo, the former Scum of the World crime editor Lucy Panton, Savage and a prison officer at HMP Woodhill, Scott Chapman, were charged with a separate count of alleged conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. It is alleged that between 1 January 2006 and 31 December 2010 Pharo conspired with officials at Broadmoor hospital, employees of the Thames Valley, Surrey and Metropolitan police forces, officers in the British army and prison officials, to commit misconduct. Chapman is accused of selling stories between March 2010 and June 2011 to the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, the Sun, the Daily Mirra, the Sunday Mirra, the People, the Daily Lies and the Daily Lies Sunday. The Crown Prosecution Service said: 'The information largely related to a high-profile prisoner and it is alleged that the payments were received via a conduit, Mr Chapman's ex-partner, Lynn Gaffney.' Chapman and Gaffney are alleged to have received thirteen payments totalling over nine thousand smackers from News International in connection with eleven articles published in the Scum of the World and the Sun, thirteen payments totalling twelve thousand eight hundred knicker from Express Newspapers in connection with twenty three articles published in the Daily Lies and the Lies on Sunday and just over thirteen grand in payments from Trinity Mirra in connection with fourteen articles published in the Daily Mirra, the Sunday Mirra and the People. Chapman and Gaffney face four counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. Panton and Savage face one count each of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office. Also in the dock were senior Sun journalist Nick Parker and Lee Brockhouse, a prison office at HMP Swaleside. It is also alleged that between 23 April 2007 and 27 October 2009, the Sun paid seventeen hundred and fifty quid to Brockhouse, who is also accused of getting nine hundred notes from the Peoplee for a story. Robert Neave, a former health worker Broadmoor hospital worker, appeared at a separate hearing in the afternoon over leaks to the Sun. He has been charged with conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office with Pyatt and Edwards. All have been bailed and sent to the Old Bailey for a pre-trial hearing on 6 August.

Jeff Randall is to quit his eponymous Sky News business show next July, and plans to step away from his full-time media commitments, including an almost three-decade relationship with the Daily Torygraph. The fifty nine-year-old, who has fronted Jeff Randall Live on Sky News since late 2007, intends to stand down after seven years when his contract expires next summer. 'My show has worked well and my contract runs until the end of 2015, but I will be sixty next year and there are plenty of things that I want to do next,' said Randall, a former editor-at-large of the Torygraph and ex-BBC business editor. 'I'm not necessarily retiring, as such, but I am walking away from a full-time commitment to work. I suspect I will take up a small portfolio of paid and pro bono activities, but with lots more spare time for travel to New Zealand, golf, horse racing, red wine, cigars and beach.' It's a nice life for some, innit? Randall, who is understood to have handed in his resignation to Sky at the end of last week to fulfil a contractual obligation of one year's notice, is also contracted to the Torygraph until the end of 2013. It is understood that Randall, who has worked on and off at the newspaper since 1986, intends to ask if the contract might be extended until the end of July 2014 to dovetail with the end of his Sky deal. 'There are a number of push-and-pull factors, including some personal reasons,' said Randall, explaining his decision. 'I think time is short and I want to leave while I am still near the top. While Sky still wants me to stay.' He added that he still has a love of the job, but that he is acutely aware of not wanting to overstay his welcome on TV screens. 'There are plenty of figures on TV that have hung around too long,' he said. 'They are bored, tired, you can just tell. I want to get out before that happens to me.' Randall joined Sky in September 2007 on a part-time basis to launch a half-hour programme on Monday evenings. The show proved a success and in 2009 he joined Sky News on a permanent basis – prompting him to step down as Torygraph editor-at-large and cut back from two columns a week to one. Randall had been the editor since 2005, where he was responsible for scoops including the defection of Michael Grade from the BBC to ITV. When Randall joined full time, Sky expanded the business programme to four nights a week – Monday to Thursdays. Randall said that the 'game-changing' moment for the programme, which he added was fervently backed by Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch, was in 2010 when it was moved from Osterley into the heart of the City in the Gherkin building. 'At Osterley, you'd get chief executives once, not twice, as it was a bit of a horrendous journey,' he said. '[The studio] is the financial equivalent of Sky having a broadcasting arm at Westminster.' The move coincided with the show being beefed up once again, this time to four one-hour shows a week, and cutting back his Torygraph responsibilities to one column a month. It is not clear what Sky News, under the leadership of John Ryley, will do about replacing Randall. One option is to rebrand the show with the name of a replacement, or to use a more generic name such as Business Night. There are thought to be a number of internal and external candidates keen to take on the job. Randall was enticed to join Sky after interviewing the broadcaster's then chief executive James Murdoch for his BBC Radio 5Live show Weekend Business. Murdoch became a fan of the idea of a similar business programme for TV, and eventually convinced Randall to join and front it. Between 2001 and 2005, Randall held the role of business editor at the BBC, the corporation's first. From 1998 to 2001, he was editor of the Barclay brothers' financial weekly newspaper Sunday Business. Randall spent almost a decade at The Sunday Times, between 1989 and 1998, holding a number of posts including City editor, assistant editor and sports editor.

The Daily Scum Mail has taken a pop at the quality of journalists that Sky News has drafted in for its late night review of newspapers. It suggests that last weekend Nichi Hodgson was 'enticed to the wilds of Osterley' as a critic, with Sky billing her as an 'author and journalist.' Hodgson, in fact, has written for the Gruniad Morning Star, New Statesman and other periodicals, and has a column in Men's Health. But the Scum Mail, in their odious scummishness, regards that as somewhat of a sexing-down of her resumé, describing her as a 'former professional dominatrix who runs "sex salons."' Perhaps she was the only expert Sky could find that wasn't tied up?

Sky Living has grovellingly apologised for 'technical difficulties' during Tuesday's broadcast of an episode of Hannibal. An alleged 'timing error' meant that an advert for another show ran over the end of the episode's last scene, obscuring the audio to to fury of many viewers. Sky has since published a transcript of the affected scene for viewers. The episode in question is available via Sky Go and On Demand, and will be repeated on Friday at 10pm and on Saturday at 9pm. Hannibal stars Casino Royale's Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter, Hugh Dancy as FBI special investigator Will Graham and Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford along with guest appearances by the likes of Gillian Anderson and Eddie Izzard. NBC has renewed the drama for a second season, and it was recently reported that David Bowie had been offered a role in the show.

Channel Four's chief executive, David Abraham, has rejected criticism that the broadcaster's decision to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer at 3am was 'patronising.' Abraham told MPs on the Commons culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday that the daily broadcast fit 'absolutely' with Channel Four's public service remit and that it has attracted one hundred and eighty thousand viewers – almost triple its usual audience for the time slot. 'I think it's a very thoughtful exercise in public service broadcasting,' he said. 'At a more general level, it is the case that the predominance of coverage associated [with Islam] is not positive and this is positive and it should be recognised for that.' Conservative MP Angie Bray questioned whether Channel Four was 'patronising' Muslims - because, of course, no Tory would ever dream of doing that - by broadcasting the ritual at 3am, when most of the nation is asleep. Abraham countered that the timeslot is 'just a practicality' of the three-minute call to prayer. He said the broadcaster had received 'very little' in the way of complaints about its decision to air the Islamic practice, after it grabbed the headlines when it was first announced earlier this month. Mostly from racists. Lord Burns, the Channel Four chairman, said that there had been 'no public outcry' over the broadcast. He added: 'We feel this should not be a hugely controversial issue, certainly not in terms of the [public service] remit we have and the way one is trying to get involved with things [such as] minority viewing and various minority groups.' Burns and Abraham appeared before the Commons committee in an almost-two-hour inquisition focused chiefly on Channel Four's annual report, published in May. However, Tory MP and odious louse Philip Davies - of course - used the meeting to push his own sick agenda and questioned the pair on Channel Four's revamped horse-racing coverage – asking whether its decision to drop John McCririck from its presenting team had led to a drop in ratings – and the 'left-wing bias' of Channel Four News. 'Are you sitting there complacently saying that Channel Four News is not affected by that [liberal] bias whatsoever?' the odious louse asked. Abraham batted away the accusation like a man swatting down a particularly annoying fly – which was reinforced by Bray, a Tory MP himself – and described the Jon Snow-fronted programmes as 'balanced. If it wasn't, Ofcom would be knocking on our door telling us as much,' he said. Burns joked: 'I think Jon [Snow] would probably fall into the category you would describe of liberal bias. If you were in any doubt about this you would follow his Twitter feed.' He added that he has never asked Snow which political party he votes for and said 'I don't think that detracts at all from the way he does his job on screen and he will give a whole range of people a tough time.' Tragically, neither Abraham nor Burns asked the odious Davies to clarify public comments he made on 7 October 2006 when, after an act of vandalism which was initially alleged to have been perpetrated by Muslims, he was quoted by the Sun as saying 'if there's anybody who should fuck off it's the Muslims who do this sort of thing.' It was later exposed by the Independent, among others, that the incident in question did not, actually, involve any Muslims. The Sun was subsequently forced to issue a - rather grovelling - correction four months later. Davies himself, however, has never apologised for his disgraceful comments. What a pity that neither of the Channel Four bods thought about asking the odious louse if he had anything to say on the matter.

Meanwhile, speak of crass interference in the independence of broadcasters, the BBC has dismissed a thoroughly obnoxious trouble-making call by the lack of culture secretary to 'take further action' over Wimbledon commentator John Inverdale's allegedly sexist comments, with the corporation saying that it 'considers the matter closed.' Director General Tony Hall has fired off a rapid response to the vile and odious rascal Miller, who said in a letter published on Thursday that Inverdale's remarks about Marion Bartoli 'undermined' her efforts to promote women in sport. Hall admitted, rightly, that the incident was 'totally unacceptable and fell well beneath the standards we expect of our presenters.' Despite Inverdale issuing an on-air apology and sending a personal letter to Bartoli however, the vile and odious rascal Miller called for 'an explanation' about 'further action' to be taken by the BBC. That's really classy, isn't it. Trying to get a bloke sacked for making a mistake. Please do remember that the next time some odious scum politician - of any party - says something idiotic using parliamentary privilege. The BBC considers the incident, which attracted more than seven hundred complaints, to have been dealt with. In Hall's letter, which was sent to the the lack of culture secretary on Wednesday and published on Thursday, he reveals that Inverdale was also 'spoken to' by BBC director of sport Barbara Slater as well as Jonathan Wall, the controller of Radio 5Live. And, rightly so. '[They] have both spoken to John to make it clear that his comments were unacceptable and that an incident of this nature must never happen again,' said Hall. The main thrust of Hall's two-page letter is to remind the lack of culture secretary of the 'growing extent' of the BBC's coverage of women's sport. And, presumably, once again, to explain in very simple terms that the BBC is an independent body and that the second they start bowing to the whims and caprices of politicians it might as well shut up shop. He points out that it is broadcasting the women's Euro 2013 championship on BBC3, understood to be the first time it has been aired on a main BBC channel, as well as the upcoming Women's British Open Golf Championship. The vile and odious rascal Miller, and sports minister Hugh Robertson, are boycotting the men's Open as it is being held at Muirfield, a club that only admits men as members. Inverdale, purely coincidentally, is anchoring the BBC's coverage of the event (a fact pointed out with some glee in a thoroughly agenda-soaked piece about the issue in, of course, the Gruniad Morning Star). 'The BBC has a proud record of supporting women's sport, as I am sure you will have recognised ... we are building on the fantastic success of the Olympics, with a team including many women broadcasters,' Hall said. 'There is unprecedented coverage of women's sport across the BBC this summer.' He added that the corporation has appointed an 'editorial lead' specifically for women's sport which has 'helped to ensure significantly increased coverage across our daily sporting output, such as on 5Live, the News channel and BBC Breakfast, as well as online.' He signs off by reiterating that he takes matters in the realm of equality, diversity and sexual harassment – whether in the workplace or relating to on-air editorial judgment – 'very seriously across the BBC.' A spokeswoman for the BBC Trust said that it was happy to leave the matter to Hall, and it did not plan to intervene in the affair. 'We are aware of the letter from Maria Miller, and we are very happy with the director general's response to it as we are sure will be the secretary of state,' said the spokeswoman. 'We have every confidence in the director general and his team including the director of sport, Barbara Slater, to continue to deal with issues of gender in the coverage of sport and in other areas of the BBC's operations and output.'
Senior civil servants repeatedly warned Margaret Thatcher about the risks of giving her close personal friend and highly vocal supporter Jimmy Savile a knighthood in the 1980s, one describing the dirty old scallywag and rotter as 'a strange and complex man.' Newly released documents show the ex-prime minister lobbied officials repeatedly for recognition of Savile's charity work. But Whitehall mandarins rebuffed her requests, citing Savile's 'manner of life' and fears that he might 'exploit' the honour. Dirty rotten scoundrel Savile was ultimately knighted in 1990. The previously secret documents were obtained by the Sun newspaper following a Freedom of Information request. The Cabinet Office said that there was 'no indication' in them that the prime minister or any officials knew about the allegations of sick and sordid sexual abuse and paedophilia against Savile which, whilst being rumours during his life, emerged in a torrent of filth after his death in 2011. The heavily redacted papers show that Lady Thatcher first wrote to Sir Robert Armstrong, the most senior civil servant in the country at the time and chair of the honours committee, about the issue of a knighthood for Savile in 1983. Sir Robert vetoed the idea, saying it was 'too soon' after 'unfortunate revelations' in which the entertainer had boasted to the media of having sex with women he met while running charity marathons. The prime minister raised the matter again just months later but Sir Robert said 'lurid details' were unlikely to be have been forgotten and it 'would be best if Mr Savile were to wait a little longer. We remain worried,' he added. 'Fears have been expressed that Mr Savile might not be able to refrain from exploiting a knighthood in a way which brought the honours system into disrepute.' After further requests were also turned down, the prime minister's private secretary, Nigel Wicks, wrote to Sir Robert in 1986 saying that she was 'most disappointed that Mr Savile's name has not been recommended.' He added: '[Thatcher] wonders how many more times his name is to be pushed aside, especially in view of all the great work he had done for Stoke Mandeville [hospital].' At the time, the government was leading a high-profile promotional campaign warning about the dangers of AIDs and Sir Robert wrote back stating that Savile's acknowledged 'sexual promiscuity' should not be encouraged. 'The case of Jimmy Savile is difficult. Mr Savile is a strange and complex man. He deserves high praise for the lead he offers in giving quiet background help to the sick. But he has made no attempt to deny the accounts in the press about his private life.' Sir Robert's successor, Sir Robin Butler, refused another request from Downing Street in 1987, suggesting that to honour Savile would 'not benefit the honours system in the eyes of the public.' He wrote: 'My committee and I still fear that his manner of life - on his own confession - has been such that a high award for him would be an unhelpful signal when we are still grappling with an AIDs problem which threatens to intensify.' The documents released cover all correspondence between ministers and civil servants on the issue. They do not shed any light on why, after repeated refusals, Savile was finally awarded a knighthood in 1990 - weeks after Lady Thatcher stood down as PM. The Cabinet Office initially refused the FOI request, citing 'concerns' about 'the potential impact' of publication on 'continuing investigations' into alleged abuse by Savile at hospitals, care homes and on BBC premises. The Sun appealed against the decision and the Information Commissioner ruled that there was a 'compelling public interest' to release the files. A Cabinet Office spokesman said: 'There is no indication in the papers that anything was known then about the allegations that have subsequently come to light about Jimmy Savile. The honours process was followed in accordance with the system at the time.' A report earlier this year detailed two hundred and fourteen crimes recorded against Savile across twenty eight police force areas spanning several decades. More than ninety people - who are among four hundred and fifty alleged victims of abuse - are pursuing legal action against the broadcaster's estate and his former employers in the wake of the revelations. Previously released correspondence showed that nasty old rascal Savile wrote to Lady Thatcher in 1980 and she subsequently invited him to Chequers. The PM regularly attended New Year's Eve parties thrown by the broadcaster.

Facebook gaffes are to follow YouTube videos in being turned into a TV show by Channel Four. The Sun reports that the programme, Don't Blame Facebook, features 'a bunch of Facebookers in no-nos' including 'Essex boy Jed', who sold drugs online 'for a joke' and Louis, who 'attracted the attention' of the RSPCA after he put a video up of himself wolfing down his pet goldfish. No doubt social media will play a big part in marketing the show – but will it get the thumbs up from viewers? I'm guessing not, personally.

The advertising watchdog has banned a Renault advert featuring scantily-clad dancers, ruling that it 'objectified' women. The YouTube advert for the Renault Clio featured young people taking the car for a test drive in London, who find themselves transported to Paris scene when they push a button on the dashboard labelled 'Va-Va-Voom.' Among various stereotypical French scenes, a group of women are shown wearing burlesque-style lingerie and gyrating and dancing around the car and drivers. One woman blows a kiss to the driver; the dancers then walk away to reveal a billboard that read Reignite your Va-Va-Voom. The Advertising Standards Authority received a lone complaint that the advert was offensive and objectified women. Renault UK said that the advert was 'a parody' of French culture and that the dancers were a reference to Moulin Rouge, a 'rhythmical send-up of the burlesque style' and were 'not overtly sexual.' It added that the video had been watched more than three million times on YouTube and it was unaware of any other complaints other than the one. However, the watchdog said that it was 'concerned' that the advert featured 'a number of shots of the women's breasts and bottoms, in which their heads were obscured, and which we considered invited viewers to view the women as sexual objects.' The ASA said it was also concerned that the choreography, dress and facial expressions of the dancers were 'sexually provocative. We considered that the ad objectified the dancers by portraying them as sexual objects and that it was therefore likely to cause serious or widespread offence,' the watchdog concluded.

Mr Bonio out of The U2 Group has received France's highest cultural honour for his contribution to music and commitment to humanitarian causes. The Irish rock star and world saviour was presented with the Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti in Paris. Mr Bonio out of The U2 Group said that the award belonged to his band. But, he was keeping it.
Some very sad news now. The body of the actor Paul Bhattacharjee has been found. Paul, aged fifty three, was last seen leaving the Royal Court theatre in London's Sloane Square on 10 July. His body was found at Splash Point cliffs in Seaford, East Sussex, on 12 July. His next of kin have been informed. Police said that his death was not being treated as suspicious. The actor, from Redbridge, was said to be in good spirits when he was last seen but after sending a text message to his girlfriend at 21:00, no-one heard from him and an appeal was launched. The Met was contacted on Wednesday morning by Sussex Police who said a body matching his description had been found last week. Paul had been due to appear in the play Talk Show at the Royal Court this week. Bend It Like Beckham actress Parminder Nagra, Sex in the City star Kim Cattrall and Stephen Fry all took to Twitter to appeal for help to find the actor after his disappearance. Paul is probably best known for playing a doctor in Casino Royale in 2006 and for his appearance in several episodes of EastEnders as Inzamam between 2008 and 2010. He had also appeared in TV shows including Waking The Dead (a particularly fine performance as the murderer in the 2005 two-part Tower of Silence which yer actual Keith Telly Topping greatly admired), [spooks] and The Bill. Last year he appeared as Benedick opposite Meera Syal in an Royal Shakespeare Company production of Much Ado about Nothing.

The BBC has secured a four-year shared rights deal with BT Sport that will see both broadcasters show the FA Cup from the start of the 2014-15 season. BBC1 will broadcast the competition, with live streaming available across online, mobile and tablet devices. The contract, which runs for four years from 2014, means that FA Cup ties will be shared between the BBC and BT whilst, tragically, ITV has retained the rights to England's home matches, with their risible, poxy coverage. Added together, the FA's income for the FA Cup and England's home matches is believed to be approaching the high watermark of the four hundred and twenty five million notes paid by ITV and Setanta in 2007. 'Bringing the FA Cup back to the BBC was something I really wanted to do,' said BBC director general Tony Hall. 'I am so pleased that we have achieved it for football fans everywhere,' Hall added. 'There is something very special about big national moments on the BBC and the FA Cup should absolutely be one of them. The Olympics, Wimbledon and Glastonbury have shown how our audiences love it when we put the full weight of all our services on TV, radio and digital behind covering these events in depth and in ways no-one else can. Working closely with the FA I believe we will change the way we view the FA Cup forever.' The deal was announced at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday. Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Retail said: "BT Sport made a determined joint bid to retain the FA Cup rights because we believe it is one of the truly great club football competitions. 'We are thrilled to bring our viewers the incredible stories of passion, and victories against all odds, that pepper the history of the competition.' Details of how many games will be shown live by the BBC have yet to be released. Radio coverage of the FA Cup also continues on BBC Radio 5Live until 2018. Led by Gary Lineker, the BBC's presentation of the FA Cup will become an integral part of the BBC1 schedule. The FA Cup is added to the BBC's TV football portfolio, centred on Match of the Day and which also includes The Football League Show, with action from every game in the Football League, the current UEFA Women's European Championships and the 2014 World Cup. In addition, 5Live will this season broadcast live football commentary of one hundred and twenty eight Premier League games, as well as games in the FA Cup, the League Cup, the Champions League and the Europa League. New FA chairman, Greg Dyke added: 'I would like to thank everyone who expressed an interest in these FA Cup broadcast rights and congratulate the BBC and BT Sport on their successful tenders. Their valuable support underlines what a great competition the FA Cup is and how important it is to the sporting calendar. ITV have done a tremendous job in recent years and we look forward to their fantastic continued support of the England team. The BBC is obviously an organisation I know very well but I don't think anyone would dispute that their name goes hand in hand with some of the most famous FA Cup moments of yesteryear. We're delighted that the competition is back on their channels, not just through television but with significant online presence as well.'

FIFA and UEFA have lost an appeal against a European ruling that the World Cup and Euro Championships must be shown on free-to-air TV in the UK. In 2011, the European General Court said that the UK could keep the events on a list of 'protected' events of national sporting interest broadcast for free. It means the two tournaments cannot be sold exclusively to pay-TV firms. FIFA and UEFA had appealed, in their greed, claiming that they could not sell the events fairly for their 'real value.' But the European Court of Justice - Europe's Supreme Court - has now said the original decision in the General Court (formerly the Court of First Instance) in 2011 was correct. The BBC and ITV had already secured the rights to broadcast the football World Cup finals in 2014, and they were guaranteed of being shown free-to-air. But there had been fears that moves towards a pay-TV model would have been in place in time for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, should FIFA and UEFA have won their case. The court said it 'dismisses the appeals brought by FIFA and UEFA in their entirety'. Even if FIFA had won its case, World Cup finals games featuring England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would have remained free to watch in the UK, as would the opening games, semi-finals and the final. But it was the other dozens of games featuring non-UK teams that FIFA was disputing - and had argued that matches such as these should not be shown for free in the UK. FIFA and UEFA had argued that the current set-up 'interfered' with their ability to sell television rights at the 'best commercial price' they could get in the marketplace. However, the UK argued that all the sixty four World Cup finals matches and thirty one European Championship matches were 'an important part' of the list of national sporting 'crown jewels', that have to be made available to the whole population to watch on terrestrial television. And the court agreed, saying that European states were able to select broadcast events, 'which they deem to be of major importance for society' and show them for free. Otherwise it 'would deprive a substantial proportion of the public of the possibility of following those events on free television.' Belgium was also successful in keeping the rights to World Cup and European Championship matches on free-to-air services. Despite the more than two-year wait for the result of the appeal by FIFA and UEFA, many experts had expected the decision to go against them. 'The result means that FIFA and UEFA have now reached the end of their European Court journey,' said Daniel Geey, a TV sports rights expert at Field Fisher Waterhouse law firm. 'Their aim was to try and secure concessions to market some of their World Cup and Euro matches to pay-TV channels in the UK and Belgium with the ultimate aim of maximising their revenues. The European courts have rebuffed such an approach.' And placed their odious greed in check. Which is great news.

Papiss Demba Cissé has pulled out of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle's pre-season tour to Portugal after refusing to wear club sponsor Wonga's logo on religious grounds. The Senegal striker, a Muslim, told club officials that he was not prepared to promote the money-lending company. But the twenty eight-year-old did offer to wear an unbranded shirt or one bearing a charity logo instead. It leaves Cissé's future with the club in some doubt, with alleged 'sources' allegedly describing the relationship between the parties as 'strained.' The forward and his representatives have been in talks with club officials and the Professional Footballers' Association in recent days but neither the club nor their shirt sponsor have been able to find a solution. Cissé's Newcastle team-mates Cheick Tiote and Moussa Sissoko are also Muslim, but have told the club they have no issue with wearing the sponsor's logo. Cissé will continue to train on his own as he attempts to catch up on his fitness after returning later than the majority of the squad following international duty with Senegal. Both camps are hopeful that a solution can be found, but it seems Cissé is not prepared to move on his position. In October, high-interest pay-day lender Wonga was announced as the company to take over from Virgin Money as Newcastle's shirt sponsor from the 2013-14 season. It is thought the contract is worth around eight million quid a year to the club and its owner, Mike Ashley, a man who seems to know the price of everything but the value of nothing. Speaking in June, PFA deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes told BBC Sport: 'We're all aware that clubs need to generate revenue and sometimes have to use a wide range of companies. However, if someone feels very, very strongly that it's not compatible with their beliefs, then some sort of solution should be found.' Cissé joined the Magpies in January 2012 and has scored 26 times in all competitions.

Former Australia wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist says the current team can capitalise on England's dependence on James Anderson by taking on the hosts' other bowlers in the second Ashes test at Lord's. Anderson took ten wickets in the first Test at Trent Bridge, including all four on a nerve-wracking final day as England clung on for a fourteen-run victory. Meanwhile, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and Graeme Swann all toiled without much reward as Australia's final pair of Brad Haddin and James Pattinson put on sixty five to take them within sight of an incredible win. Haddin struck three consecutive fours off Finn's bowling (which often resembled a big girl's blouse), while Pattinson lofted Swann over mid-on for six. 'Australia hold Anderson in so much higher regard than the rest of the attack,' Gilchrist, who dismissed the reported rift between Australia captain Michael Clarke and batsman Shane Watson as 'old news', told BBC Sport. 'They are very, very wary of him and concerned about how consistent he is in any conditions. Brad Haddin took a strong attack to Steven Finn and even Graeme Swann, who was off his game to an extent. That huge feeling of reliance on Anderson, maybe they can use that to their advantage when coming up against the other bowlers.' Gilchrist, a brilliant attacking batsman who claimed four hundred and sixteen test dismissals, won three Ashes series and three World Cups during a twelve-year international career. He has been in regular contact with the Australian team and paid them a visit after arriving in London on Tuesday morning. Following a chaotic build-up in which batsman David Warner was suspended for punching Joe Root in the mush and coach Mickey Arthur was sacked, Gilchrist believes Australia are now a unified camp under new coach Darren Lehmann. He said the 'major tension' between Clarke and Watson - cited by Arthur in leaked legal documents - is a thing of the past. 'I spoke to Michael and Shane the morning that those remarks came out and they were laughing - not at Mickey, but because they had moved on,' said Gilchrist. 'After the match at Trent Bridge they and the rest of the team shared a few drinks together and enjoyed each other's company. There has been a change and those two guys have addressed any issue has been there and they are ready just to look forward.' Gilchrist revealed that the only time he had experienced a splintered Australian dressing-room was in 2005, when England wrested the Ashes from their grasp for the first time in eighteen years. 'Factions started to form and socialising, meeting up in the bar, those little bits that make up the fabric of a good team seemed to disintegrate,' he added. 'I think we got lazy in a lot of areas, not least our team make-up. A lot of individuals started to annoy a lot of individuals. Our team spirit and the team culture was shattered.' Eight years on, Gilchrist believes Australia's current team have been galvanised under Lehmann and are capable of fighting back from 1-0 down to reclaim the Ashes. 'When I saw the "Hot Spot" appear on the inside edge of Brad Haddin's bat [for the final wicket at Trent Bridge] I had the feeling that that might have been the game and the series gone,' he said. 'But I saw the guys at training today and I sense there is a real uniform, combined team ethos that has been missing for a little while. England maintain their favourite's status. They are a better team than we are at the moment but we are in with a chance.'

German prosecutors have indicted Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone on a bribery charge and allegations of being a very naughty man. The charge relates to a forty four million dollars payment made to a German banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky of Bayern Landesbank. It was linked to the sale of a stake in F1. Ecclestone said that he had paid Gribkowsky to avoid a UK tax inquiry into the sale of Formula 1 in 2006, but denied that the payments were bribes. Gribkowsky was extremely sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in pokey in Munich last year. Speaking to the Financial Times on Wednesday, Ecclestone said: 'I have just spoken to my lawyers and they have received an indictment. It's being translated into English.' Asked how he responded to the indictment, he said: 'We are defending it properly. It will be an interesting case. It's a pity it's happened.' Ecclestone said it was 'inevitable' that the indictment had been served. 'If someone wants to sue you, they can do it and you have to defend it,' he said. In 2006, Gribkowsky was in charge of managing the sale of regional bank BayernLB's forty eight per cent stake in Formula 1 to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, which meant that the firm owned most of the sport. CVC has since reduced its stake in a series of deals. In evidence to a Munich court in June last year, Gribkowsky admitted that prosecution claims he had corruptly received $41.4m in bank commissions, and a large payment via a family trust from Ecclestone, were 'essentially true.' In his testimony, Ecclestone claimed that he had been 'worried' that if he had not paid the money, Gribkowsky would have alerted the UK tax authorities to 'things' that might have led to a tax inquiry. 'The only alternative was that the British tax authorities followed a case that would have been very expensive for me,' said Ecclestone at the time. 'The tax risk would have exceeded two billion pounds. I paid him to keep calm and not to do silly things.'

Chris Froome won Wednesday's Tour De France time trial by nine seconds from Alberto Contador to tighten his grip on the yellow jersey. Contador is now Froome's closest rival in the overall standings, but trails the Team Sky rider by four minutes thirty four seconds with four stages left in this year's competition. A mid-stage switch from a road bike to a time-trial model proved crucial as Froome triumphed over the thirty two kilometre run. Joaquim Rodriguez was third while Bauke Mollema lost more than two minutes. Dutch Belkin rider Mollema started the day as the nearest rider to Froome in the general classification, but is now fourth, more than six minutes adrift. 'Visiting the podium three times was just incredible,' said Froome, who has also won stages on Mont Ventoux and in the Pyreenes. 'I'm really happy with the result from today. I wanted to hold back a little bit for the days ahead and I was actually prepared to lose a little bit of time, so I'm quite surprised I won the stage.' After beating the other contenders for the yellow jersey by about two minutes in the Tour's other time trial at Mont St Michel, Froome had been expected to extend his lead on stage seventeen, between Embrun and Chorges. But his rivals may be content that the twenty eight-year-old Briton is still just about within range with the traditional last-day procession to Paris leaving them only three competitive stages to attack the leader. Froome's third stage win of this year's Tour came courtesy of a combination of powerful riding and canny strategy. With two category-two climbs on a twisting, technical route, most riders opted to stay on their usual road bicycles rather than swap to the time-trial specific machines that help their aerodynamics on straighter, flatter stretches. Race rules, however, allow riders to change bikes at any point and Froome's decision to take a time-trial model from his team's support car for the final twelve kilometre descent proved wise. Despite contending with drizzle on the upper slopes, he was able to make up twenty seconds on Contador, who remained on his normal bike. Contador's Saxo-Tinkoff team-mate Roman Kreuziger climbed into third in the overall standings, four minutes fifty one adrift of Froome, by finishing the stage in fourth. Colombian Nairo Quintana reinforced his position as the race's best young rider by taking sixth place, while 2010 winner Andy Schleck returned to form, descending well to finish fifteenth in his unfavoured discipline. However Jean-Christophe Peraud, the highest ranked Frenchman in the general classification coming into the day's stage, was forced to abandon the race after fracturing a collarbone on a morning reconnaissance ride and then falling on the same joint as he struggled in the afternoon. Froome's bid to succeed compatriot Sir Bradley Wiggins as overall champion will be tested again on Thursday as the field climb Alpe d'Huez twice in the centrepiece stage on the one hundredth edition of the Tour.

Sex Pistols frontman yer actual Johnny Lydon is to receive a special award for his contribution to music from music rights organisation BMI. The punk legend, also known by his former stage name Johnny Rotten, will be presented with the Icon Award at the industry bash in October. The award is given to songwriters who have had 'an indelible influence on generations of music makers.' Previous recipients have include Ray Davies, Van Morrison and Bryan Ferry. 'John Lydon is a true icon whose influence on music, fashion and art has been felt around the world,' said Del Bryant, the president of BMI. 'We are very pleased to recognise his impact on popular culture and his outstanding musical contributions with the BMI Icon Award.' The Sex Pistols were the forerunners of the punk movement in the UK in the mid-1970s and are credited with influencing many later punk and alternative rock bands around the world. They courted controversy with singles such as 'Anarchy in the UK' and released the anthem 'God Save The Queen' around the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977. Lydon also caused a furore when the band swore on TV in 1976. Albeit, it his was bandmate Steve Jones who actually used the 'dirty fucker' word(s) at 6:30 on ITV. The worst Johnny said describing classic music as 'shit'. The Sex Pistols split in 1978 after a disastrous US tour and Lydon went on to form Public Image Ltd which produced eight studio LPs (including the ground-breaking 1980 masterpiece Metal Box) and several hits including 'The Public Image', 'Death Disco' and 'Rise'. The fifty seven-year-old, who has presented wildlife shows and taken part in ITV's 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) in recent years, is still touring with PiL after reforming in 2009 - recently performing at the Glastonbury festival. And, when yer actual Keith Telly Topping saw them at the Academy in Newcastle last summer, they were bloody magnificent.

Producers of the Broadway version of The Beatles musical Let It Be are being sued by the creators of a rival tribute show. Rain Corporation claims Let It Be is based on its show, Rain - A Tribute To The Beatles, which ran on Broadway in 2010 and 2011. The legal claim asks for a fifty-fifty split of revenue and that Rain Corporation be listed as a joint author. Let It Be, which already runs in the West End, opens on Broadway on 24 July. The West End version opened in September 2012, but is not the subject of the legal action, contrary to earlier reports, a spokesman for the show said. Legal papers show five companies including Jeff Parry Promotions, Annerin and Nirenna Productions and Rain London Limited, entered into a co-production with Rain Corporation to create a London show in 2005. Rain Corporation claimed it had spent 'countless hours' working on Let It Be, 'training current cast members, creating and contributing to the creation of video and other artwork.' It also said it oversaw and contributed to 'the creation of the set design and music.' Although some might argue that The Beatles - a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might have heard of them - deserve at least some credit for the music. The Rain Corporation argued Let It Be was a 'derivative work that incorporates much of the book from Rain - A Tribute, as well as the video footage, artwork, and staging.' It also said it used similar musical arrangements, including using twenty eight out of the thirty one songs used in Rain - A Tribute. Producers for Let It Be have yet to file their response to the claim, but their lawyer Peter S Cane told the BBC News website: 'Let It Be is a tribute to The Beatles, not to the four guys who impersonate The Beatles. How do you monopolise the ability to present an impersonation of The Beatles?' A spokesman for the West End version of Let It Be said that it was produced by LIB London Limited, a venture between Jamie Hendry Productions, Annerin Productions and others. He added: 'JHP is unable to comment on the ongoing lawsuit between Rain Corp and Annerin Productions, which is taking place solely in the USA and does not involve LIB London Limited, which was granted the grand theatrical rights to The Beatles catalogue when it opened in the West End last year.' Let It Be features a tribute band that recreate The Beatles' story from their early performances in Liverpool through to their later years.

Only Fools and Horses producer Ray Butt, who is credited with casting David Jason as Del Boy Trotter, has died at the age of seventy eight. Butt and writer John Sullivan developed the idea for wheeling dealing Del Boy and hapless brother Rodney while at his local pub. They worked on five series of the show as well as Just Good Friends. Butt also produced and directed episodes of Last of the Summer Wine and Are You Being Served? John Challis who played Boycie in Only Fools and Horses paid tribute to Butt, calling him the man who put him 'on the ladder.' Butt was 'a chippy little diamond geezer' who got on with everyone and had a 'dogged determination to time the laughs exactly right' he added. Challis recalled one of Butt's most memorable lines to him was during the early days of filming when he told him: 'You may not be the best actor we've got, but you're certainly the cheapest.' Butt was instrumental in David Jason becoming Del Boy. He came up with the idea but had to fight for him to audition. Butt and Sullivan became friends when Butt directed episodes of Citizen Smith, Sullivan's first BBC comedy. According to Steve Clark, the author of Only Fools & Horses - The Official Inside Story, Butt told him they were instant friends. Butt had said: 'The first good thing was we had similar accents - John is an South London boy and I'm an East London boy so we kind of spoke the same language.'

Firefighters had to cut a couple free from handcuffs after their bondage session went wrong. The two women from Hebden Bridge in Halifax walked into a local fire station at 1.30am to explain that they had got stuck after using the toy cuffs. Commander Paul Gyde told the Halifax Courier: 'We found it amusing, but the girls looked embarrassed. [The handcuffs] looked real and probably served the purpose for why they wanted them.' The firefighters were eventually able to remove the cuffs from the two women in their twenties. Gyde continued to say: 'We were pleased we were able to assist them.'

And, on that bombshell we come to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which is this.

No comments: