Saturday, July 06, 2013

Is There Anyone Out There?

And now, dear blog reader, more utter crap about who's not going to be the next Doctor. Because yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self knows how much you all enjoy that. Georgia Taylor (you know, her that used to be in Casualty) has publicly doubted that a female will play the lead role in Doctor Who. Although, what the hell she knows about the subject and why she feels it necessary to comment upon it - to a tabloid - is a question, perhaps, best left for another day. The former Coronation Street actress said that 'fans of the show' will probably 'react negatively' to a woman playing the Time Lord in the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama series, after Matt Smith steps down from the role at Christmas. Which is probably true of a decent-sized and fairly conservative percentage of hardcore Doctor Who fandom (and which, let us remember, makes up perhaps a fraction of one per cent of the show's actual total audience, and that). But, hey, don't tar us all with the same brush, eh chuck. Some of us have reached the Twenty First Century with our lack of bigotry in tact. Taylor cited Lucy Liu's role as Joan Watson in the US Sherlock Holmes drama Elementary as an example of the conservatism within telly fandoms. Albeit, it should be noted straight away that Elementary is, in fact, extremely popular in the US - with, you know, 'normal people' - and has been renewed for a second series by CBS, Lucy Liu included. So, what the effing hell are you talking about, Georgia? (My thanks to the always excellent Eric Briggs for pointing out that little fly in the ointment of Georgia's otherwise flawlessly logical comments.) 'It's never going to happen,' she told the Sun. 'That's not me doing a disservice to womankind, it is just one of those things. It's a bit like when they did Elementary. It wasn't even Sherlock, it was his assistant, but the outrage that caused.' So much 'outrage' that they're still making it. On whether she, herself, would like to appear in Doctor Who, Taylor said: 'I don't think they will ever do it and I think now I am getting too old to even be The Doctor's assistant.' Not that anybody has actually asked her to be, of course - and, after these comments, this blogger doubts they ever will - she just thought she'd mention it. 'They are all in their early twenties.' Well, except Catherine Tate. 'And pretty.' Again, except Catherine Tate. 'I think that ship has sailed for me, but I would like to be a Doctor Who baddie.' Yeah. So would lots of people, m'dear. Join the queue. it's quite long.
Meanwhile, The White Queen's Aneurin Barnard - who is a properly good young actor, let it be noted - has become the latest chancer to note that he is a 'fan' of Doctor Who and would 'absolutely' consider replacing Matt Smith on the show. Yes, of course you would, pal. Again, join the effing queue. Behind Craig Charles and Barry Chuckle. The Welsh actor told the Radio Times that the BBC family SF drama 'seems like a very good, fun job to be involved in. It's one of those roles that has lived through time,' Barnard said of the possibility of playing The Doctor. 'It's an endless tale and what's interesting about Doctor Who is it can go in any direction at any point and every Doctor is taken very differently.' And, it's a ten-month-a-year shoot as well so you can pretty much forget about doing anything else for the next three or four years if you do get the gig. And, the pay's not that great because the BBC haven't got a pot to piss in at the moment. Still interested? The twenty six-year-old added that the lead role in Doctor Who is a part 'you'd have to consider. It's a great piece of storytelling and you can have a lot of fun with that,' he continued. 'I'm a fan, too, and I do catch it when I can, and I like all the old stuff.' Is anybody else bored titless with this constant non-story or is it just yer actual Keith Telly Topping? Glad to see I'm not alone in that.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's been doing a fair bit of walking over the last few days, dear blog reader. Don't sound so surprised, it does happen occasionally ... when his legs will carry him. On Thursday, he had an interesting - but, it should be noted, total fair-knackering - day walking aroond The Boony Toon with his good friends Mietek and Naomi. For want of anything better or more constructive to do with his life, he has to confess. It was a nice day in the sunshine but, by the time he got back to Stately Telly Topping Manor, all he wanted to do was lie on the bed and watch episodes of Qi on Dave rather that do anything resembling work, per se. Then, as previously mentioned, on Friday evening it was along to Uncle Scunthorpe's final Record Player till September at The Cycle Hub on the Quayside listening some proper bombastic Teutonic techno, yer actual Tour De France. It turned out to be one of those great evenings that you get once in a while; most of the regulars were there - Chris and Gill, Billy and Steph, Ewan and Vicky, Christian and Vicky, Jeff and his mates, et al. And, it was really terrific for yer actual Keith Telly Topping to see his first great mentor in local radio, The Divine Goddess that is Julia Hankin (along with her family) for the first time in probably six or seven years. As mentioned last night, I owe you a lot, Jules. Uncle Scunthorpe had arranged, because it was such a lovely evening, that we could sit outside The Hub listening to the music whilst drinking our tasty cold beverages and being, generally, chilled out like a pig in a freezer. The sun shone but a nice cool breeze coming off the North Sea kept things temperate, the music was fantastic and passing river cruise boats on the Tyne waved to us and some tooted their collective horns as they passed (the sound of which, actually fitted in with Kraftwerk's rock-blockin' epic remarkably ... badly). After the wrap-up several of us wandered up the hill and had a swift half at the Free Trade and then yer actual Keith Telly Topping bravely - and with little thought for his own safety - walked Vicky and Christian through some of the darkest territory known to mankind all the way up to Byker Metro station. Sadly, by the time yer actual Keith Telly Topping's bus came and reached the stop nearest the local chippy, it was after 11pm. And, therefore, shut. And, thus, Friday evening ended back at Stately Telly Topping Manor with yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self totally Hank Marvin. Fortunately, there was still a lone Pot Noodle left in the cupboard. (I'm not fishin' for sympathy, you understand, dear blog reader...) Of course, as usual, whenever yer actual Keith Telly Topping is dressed smart-but-casual in a public place and photographs are taken, you can always spot him by the large arrow sticking out of the top of his heed.
Paul O'Grady's For the Love Of Dogs continued to prove bafflingly popular for ITV on Thursday, overnight figures confirm. The final episode of the current series topped the ratings outside of soaps with 4.75 million viewers at 8.30pm. Happy Families also came to an end with a risible 1.84m at 9pm. BBC1's new Gregg Wallace-fronted series Supermarket Secrets launched with a just-about decent 3.75m at 8pm. Later, Question Time featuring the newly-knighted Sir Tony Robinson his very self interested 2.59m at 10.35pm. On BBC2, Today At Wimbledon's coverage of the women's semi-finals was watched by 1.63m at 8pm. Who Were the Greeks?' second episode was seen by 1.69m at 9pm, followed by Mock The Week with 1.60m at 10pm. Channel Four's repeat of Supersize vs Superskinny has but seven hundred and fifty seven thousand punters watching its sorry self at 8pm. First Dates continued with an only slightly better seven hundred and eighty one thousand at 9pm, while Eye Spy sought - but failed - to entertain six hundred and twenty four thousand sad, crushed victims of society at 10pm. On Channel Five, Cowboy Traders had nine hundred and nine thousand viewers at 8pm, followed by the latest Extraordinary People with 1.44m at 9pm. E4's latest episode of The Big Bang Theory was easily the most watched show on multichannels with 1.31m at 8pm, followed by How I Met Your Mother with six hundred and eighty five thousand viewers at 8.30pm.

The BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen was wounded by shotgun pellets while covering escalating violence in the Egyptian capital. Bowen was pictured with what appeared to be a patch of dried blood on his left cheek while being bandaged around the top of his head following the incident in Cairo on Friday. He later tweeted that he was 'fine' and returned to cover the unfolding shooting outside the Republican Guards HQ. 'Thanks for the messages. I've been hit by a couple of shotgun pellets. Am fine and heading out,' said Bowen on Twitter. Christ, shot in the boat-race and he still carries on doing his piece to camera, that's hard. The BBC said that it was 'aware' of the incident. The BBC's respected Middle East editor has been at the heart of the action in Cairo as the military coup dislodged Morrissey as president. Will Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce arrive in time to save the day with a well-timed Smiths reunion? Doubtful, this blogger would have said, dear blog reader. On Friday, Bowen was near demonstrators in the capital as Egyptian troops opened fire at supporters of the ousted Morrissey. Bowen reported on Friday afternoon: 'I saw it all. There was a large demonstration outside the officers' club of the Presidential club – a compound which Morsi, the deposed president, they believe he is being held at. As the crowd got angrier and angrier it started to surge forward and someone opened fire straight away from the military side. Before they had used any kind of teargas they resorted to live fire. Initially I thought it was in the air and then I saw the weapons were levelled. After that I saw a man went down. I saw the body, bloodied, being carried away.' Ex-President Morrissey is, currently, said to be under house arrest. Blimey, them Egyptians really didn't like his last solo by the sound of things. Bowen became the BBC's Middle East editor in 2005 having been Middle East correspondent based in Jerusalem from 1995 to 2000. Friday's incident is not his first scrape with a bit of danger. In 2000, he was covering the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Lebanon when an Israeli tank commander fired a round of bullets into his car. Bowen was unharmed, but his friend and local liaison, Abed Takoushm, was killed.

From a broadcaster of distinction, quality and bravery to one of absolutely no sodding worth whatsoever. Full-of-her-own-importance Jessie J has confirmed that she will not return to The Voice for its third series. As if anybody actually gives a shit about such nonsense. Bye then, Jess. Don't forget to write. The singer announced on Twitter that she has 'given up' her coaching role as her music career 'has to take priority.' Well, of course it does. Because, we have to remember that, in her own mind at least, Ms J is the very centre of the known universe and is positively furious when everybody isn't talking of me, me, me, me, me, me, me. 'I've absolutely loved my time on The Voice and I hope everyone saw and knows how passionately I felt about the show,' she began. 'However, I can't wait to promote my new record around the world and that has to take priority. I shall be keeping a very close eye on series three, showing my support in every way I can and really hope in some way that I can be part of the show.' Mark Linsey, the BBC Controller of Entertainment Commissioning, thanked Ms J for her time on The Voice and announced that bosses 'will now start the search for a new coach. We're so sorry to see Jessie go as she's been an exceptional coach on, and advocate for, The Voice, but we totally support her decision to leave due to touring commitments overseas,' he said. Totally. 'We very much hope that Jessie will remain part of the show and come back and perform for us next series. In the meantime, we will now start the search for a new coach.' It is not yet known whether yer actual, Sir Tom Jones and Danny O'Donoghue will return to The Voice for a third series. Nor, indeed, does anyone much care, frankly.
And, speaking of utterly pointless waste-of-blood-and-oxygen tossers, 'Doctor' Neil Fox has backed Tulisa Contostavlos's firing from The X Factor, telling the Digital Spy website that nobody 'has got any respect' for the singer. As if anybody in the whole wide world actually gives a monkey's chuff about what 'Doctor' Neil Fox has to say on any conceivable subject under the sun. His - no doubt highly considered - opinion on Ms Contostavlos's worth, or otherwise, may well be entirely accurate but, frankly, who the smeg is 'Doctor' Neil Fox to talk - with any authority - about 'being respected'? Fox, who appeared alongside The X Factor boss Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads as a Pop Idol judge in the early noughties (and has done eff-all since), said that Sharon Osbourne was 'a superior replacement' for the N-Dubz singer, who was arrested on drug fixing charges following a sting by the Sun shortly after her axing from The X Factor in May. Not with an actual axe, you understand. Because that would have been illegal. And probably quite messy. Speaking at the Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards, Fox commented: 'I think you have a respect for Sharon Osbourne. No-one, to be fair, has got any respect for Tulisa. What has she done? Has she got a body of work that if she criticises you you can really take it on the chin? You kind of go, "No - your last record didn't even make the Top Twenty." You need judges [who] know what they're on about.' Oi, pot, there's a kettle over here with some opinions about your ethnicity, it would seem. Fox also stated his belief that The X Factor's fans are more interested in how Nicole Scherzinger looks than in her expert opinion. 'I think Nicole had a good year last year, but do I really give a monkeys what she says?' he asked. Oi, pot. This kettle's still callin' you black, mate. 'I've got to be honest, no. Most people worry about what did she look like that week.' He added: 'Gary's musical credibility is amazing but as a judge is he always going to say what he thinks, because he's got to remember he's got another Take That album coming out shortly.' Fox went on to say that although he thinks The X Factor is 'an awesome show', later series have been 'too much about the judges' and 'become lost in the money and the bling. X Factor was a great derivative from Pop Idol and it's become a massive show,' he said. 'Personally I think they've become a bit lost in the money and the bling, that's why people aren't watching any more. Throwing money at it is not the solution. It's an awesome show but there are certainly things they need to address.' Well, dear blog reader, I can only apologise for that last item - that's two minutes of your life that you'll never get back.
Speculation about Sir David Attenborough's retirement has, seemingly, proved premature after the BBC confirmed plans for another landmark natural history series with the presenter. Attenborough, now eighty seven, is being lined up to present another BBC1 series on the scale of Planet Earth and Frozen Planet before he turns ninety. His more recent television projects have tended to be smaller-scale shows with less direct personal involvement, such as his 3D series for Sky, prompting speculation that he was stepping back from set-piece documentaries. However, the BBC's head of science and natural history Kim Shillinglaw told the Radio Times: 'Is it the end of David's landmark series? God, no. He is doing a couple of things for us and there is a landmark in the pipeline which is quite a long way off.' She said the project would likely be broadcast in 'two or three years' time' but the subject matter remains under wraps for the moment. Attenborough will also present a smaller-scale series about evolution for the BBC later this year. The naturalist said recently that he had 'no intention' of doing less – despite undergoing an urgent procedure to have a heart pacemaker fitted. He said: 'I've been broadcasting for sixty years. I don't want to slow down. Retirement would be so boring.' Asked about his plans earlier this year, he said: 'I'm going to China to see some very interesting fossils. In 2012, I went to the Galapagos, to Africa, North America and Australia. I've no idea how many days I was away.' A spokesman for Attenborough said on Tuesday that doctors are 'satisfied with his progress' following the pacemaker procedure.

The BBC has also announced that it is to suspend 3D programming for an indefinite period due to 'a lack of public appetite' for the technology. Shillinglaw, who is also the BBC's head of 3D (although not for much longer by the sound of things), said that 3D has 'not taken off' with audiences who find it 'quite hassly.' The BBC began a two-year 3D trial in 2011, broadcasting several events in 3D, including the Olympic Games and some episodes of Strictly Come Dancing. The Doctor Who anniversary special in November will be among the final shows televised in 3D as part of the trial. Half of the estimated 1.5 million households in the UK with a 3D-enabled television watched last summer's Olympics opening ceremony in 3D. The BBC said 3D viewing figures for the Queen's Speech and the children's drama, Mr Stink were 'even more disappointing', with just five per cent of potential viewers tuning in over the Christmas period. In an interview with the Radio Times, Shillinglaw said: 'I have never seen a very big appetite for 3D television in the UK. I think when people watch TV they concentrate in a different way. When people go to the cinema they go and are used to doing one thing - I think that's one of the reasons that take up of 3D TV has been disappointing.' Shillinglaw will return to her main job at the BBC, as head of science and natural history, when the project ends at the close of the year. 'After that we will see what happens when the recession ends and there may be more take up of sets, but I think the BBC will be having a wait-and-see. It's the right time for a good old pause,' she said. 'I am not sure our job is to call the whole 3D race,' she said. Last year's Wimbledon finals were the first programmes to be shown in 3D by the BBC. This year, the broadcaster will show both the men's and ladies Wimbledon semi-finals and finals. Last month, US sports network ESPN announced that it was to close its 3D channel in the US due to a similar lack of uptake. Recent figures from the US suggest no more than one hundred and twenty thousand people - with more money than sense - are watching 3D channels at any one time.
A prominent Labour MP has said that US authorities should press corporate corruption charges against billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's global empire after billionaire tyrant Murdoch appeared to admit in a secretly recorded meeting with staff on the Sun that payments to police were part of 'the culture of Fleet Street.' Chris Bryant, who has been handsomely compensated for phone-hacking by the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, said that the latest revelations were 'another reason' for the FBI to take action under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it an offence for any American company to pay public officials on foreign soil. The MP for Rhondda said that he had spoken to the Met police, and claimed the force had 'been in touch' with the FBI. But, he added that he believed the UK authorities were 'reluctant' to consider bringing any corporate corruption charges in the UK because the force was 'waiting for Operation Elveden [the investigation into unlawful payments made to public officials] to finish.' Meanwhile, Bryant's Labour colleague Tommy Watson ('power to the people!'), has written to a leading US politician, Senator John D Rockefeller, asking him to 'ensure' the US authorities' investigations into News Corporation 'are not inhibited in going to the very top.' The latest scandal over alleged payments to police erupted after a Sun journalist secretly taped a forty five-minute meeting in March between billionaire tyrant Murdoch - whom, nobody is scared of any more - and at least twenty four staff who had been arrested in relation to Scotland Yard's Elveden investigation. The name of the snitch has not, yet, been revealed. Although billionaire tyrant Murdoch does not admit to knowing that any of his employees had specifically paid officials, he is recorded as saying the culture of paying public officials for stories 'existed at every newspaper in Fleet Street. Long since forgotten. But absolutely.' Billionaire tyrant Murdoch also says he first knew about the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, which until recently made it a crime to pay police and other public officials, 'a few weeks' before his meeting with staff. The act has since been superseded by the Bribery Act of 2010. On the recording, one - unidentified - member of staff interjects: 'So, completely oblivious to the fact that the long-term practice of this company to pay public officials was illegal, my job description meant that as a result of that, it came directly through my particular department. You can understand how we all feel that we are effectively being made scapegoats?' The News Corporation chief executive replies: 'Yeah. And one of these high-priced lawyers would say it's our fault, but that situation existed at every newspaper in Fleet Street ... It was the culture of Fleet Street.' Then, the media mogul appears to admit that he personally knew it was 'common practice.' A Sun journalist asks him: 'I'm pretty confident that the working practices that I've seen here are ones that I've inherited, rather than instigated. Would you recognise that all this pre-dates many of our involvement here?' Murdoch says: 'We're talking about payments for news tips from cops. That's been going on a hundred years, absolutely. You didn't instigate it.' Bryant believes that this - in and of itself - is enough for the US authorities to act: 'American law is much tougher than UK law: you don't have to prove that a director knew it. The mere fact that a company engaged in paying public officials is enough to bring a body corporate charge. The charge can be brought because the directors did not have a governance system in place to stop it.' He said he had been told by the Met that they had been 'in talks' with the FBI. Mark Lewis, the lawyer representing the Dowler family and other phone-hacking victims, said that billionaire tyrant Murdoch's 'private remarks' would be held up by lawyers in the US where a number of civil claims are currently being prepared over phone-hacking under various US acts, including the Stored Communications Act and the Wiretap Act. He said: 'No doubt the FBI will be very interested in comments that suggest a senior director of a company was fully aware of payments to foreign officials. As far as the US claims are concerned, this raises further evidence of knowledge at the highest levels of News Corp of unlawful activities.' Meanwhile, journalists connected with the tabloid have told the Gruniad Morning Star that they were 'shocked' to find out that the police had been given notes taken in private conversations with a law firm, Linklaters, which had been brought in as an adviser to the Management and Standards Committee at news Corporation in July 2011. Several senior journalists were asked to talk to Linklaters on the basis that the law firm needed help in understanding how newspapers worked. 'We were given letters telling us that this was a good thing to do, that there was nothing to worry about,' said one alleged 'source' quoted by the Gruniad. 'The meetings took several hours and the journalists were then asked to sign a statement saying that the notes taken by the lawyers were an accurate account of the conversation. They were never told the statement would be used by police. This is an utter betrayal by the company at every level,' the alleged 'source' allegedly added. Billionaire tyrant Murdoch was tackled about the issue in the meeting in which a Sun journalist is heard saying: 'Quite a number of us in this room were selected for an interview with Linklaters, the lawyers, long before any suggestion there would be arrests or there had been any wrongdoing. The interviews were conducted on the basis that Linklaters just wanted to get a feel for how the newspaper was put together, who did what, how it worked, all the rest of it. And then, not surprisingly now, nearly every single person interviewed by Linklaters found themselves arrested. And, indeed, large chunks of the interviews we gave to Linklaters was produced to us in the police station on our arrest.' Linklaters themselves declined to comment. A spokesman for News UK, home to billionaire tyrant Murdoch's UK newspaper business, said: 'Mr Murdoch never knew of payments made by Sun staff to police before News Corporation disclosed that to UK authorities. Furthermore, he never said he knew of payments. It's absolutely false to suggest otherwise.'

There could yet be far-reaching ramifications for billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch following the leaking of the tape of his meeting with arrested Sun journalists. The story has been widely covered across the world, especially in the United States, with a largely critical spin being placed up it and its contents. Reports from London filed by news agencies, such as Reuters, the Associated Press and AFP were published by many American papers plus news outlets around the globe. The Reuters report began: 'Rupert Murdoch belittled a British police inquiry into bribes allegedly paid by his journalists in a secret recording made by his staff, in sharp contrast to the profuse public apologies he made to defuse anger at news gathering practices.' The introduction to Associated Press's report was even stronger: 'Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has been recorded saying wrongdoing by his British newspapers was "next to nothing" and apparently acknowledging that his reporters paid police officers for information.' The New York Times carried a short news piece by one of its UK_based correspondents. In Los Angeles, The Hollywood Reporter's article nosed off on the call by Tommy Watson ('power to the people!') for US authorities to question Murdoch about his statements. Several well-read US-based online outlets, such as Gawker, ran reports. In Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald (owned by Fairfax) ran a lengthy piece headlined Murdoch aware of police payments from day one. If you're looking for the story on the website of The Australian (owner: billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch), however, you'll be rather disappointed. It isn't mentioned once. Elsewhere, it got coverage in many oranges of the world's press, including the New Zealand Herald and The Times of India and in Hong's Kong's South China Morning Post.

Channel Five's director of programmes Ben Frow has vowed to avoid 'downmarket' programming in future. Frow is quoted by Broadcast as saying that he would never have commissioned Channel Four's recent Bodyshock documentary The Man With The Ten-Stone Testicles. Yeah, because Channel Five is so classy, after all. 'There's a line we won't cross at Channel Five,' he claimed. And, massive bollocks, it would seem, is it. 'We may not be the most exciting channel at the moment, but we do what we do very well. I wouldn't undermine that good work by going downmarket - doing [shows on] sex, doing dogging.' So, there you have it, dear blog reader. Channel Five's position - no problem with dogging whatsoever but utterly terrified of massive gonads. The Man With The Ten-Stone Testicles attracted 3.87 million viewers and become a worldwide Twitter trending topic when it was shown in the UK on Monday 24 June. Although the idea that something being a 'trending topic' on Twitter is, in any way, an indication that lots of people, necessarily, watched something is, frankly, a load of old bollocks. S'cuse the pun. The one-off followed the life of Wesley Warren Junior, from Las Vegas, who suffers from a severe case of scrotal elephantitis.

A film producer has won a High Court case against the surviving members of the Monty Python's Flying Circus team over royalty rights to the hit stage show, Spamalot. Mark Forstater, who produced the 1975 film Monty Python And The Holy Grail, claimed that he was underpaid royalties since the musical's launch in 2005. He estimated he was entitled to more than two hundred thousand smackers. Three members of the cult comedy group - Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Jones - gave evidence at the trial. Written by Idle, hit musical Spamalot was described on posters as being 'lovingly ripped-off' from the 1975 film. It premiered on Broadway in 2005, taking a million dollars in its opening week and went on to win three Tony Awards. Forstater, had argued that for 'financial purposes' he should be treated as 'the seventh Python.' Under the terms of a 1974 agreement with Python (Monty) Pictures, investors in the film, such as Forstater, were entitled to a share in fifty per cent of all merchandise revenues and spin-off income. With regard to Spamalot, Forstater claimed that he was entitled to one-seventh of this figure, the same share enjoyed by each of the other Pythons - but was told he was only entitled to one-fourteenth, and has been paid accordingly since 2005. Palin, Jones and Idle, who formed the comedy team with John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and the late Graham Chapman more than forty years ago, disagreed. Idle said the suggestion that Forstater was a 'seventh Python' was 'laughable.' Palin said that Forstater was 'not part of our team', while Jones said Forstater had 'done jolly well' out of his involvement with Monty Python. Following Judge Mr Justice Norris's ruling on Friday, Forstater said: 'I have always been adamant I was correct. I have been proved right - justice has prevailed. There is a sadness, though, about having to face people who were my friends in court,' he said. 'We have been friends for a long time. Monty Python are an institution. I like the fact that they have apparently joked about the litigation. I still think they are very funny.' What the surviving Pythons think about Forstater was, tragically, not recorded. During his judgement, Justice Norris said Forstater had given evidence in 'a measured way', while Palin and Jones had been 'trustworthy' witnesses. He added: 'Eric Idle was frank enough to acknowledge that he now disliked Mr Forstater, but he expressed the hope that, in his evidence, he was being honest and that his dislike did not affect his honesty. I think he largely achieved that aim so far as conscious effort could take him. He undoubtedly regarded Mr Forstater as ungrateful.' During evidence, a diary entry from Palin from 1975 relating to the situation recalled 'as we are a soft lot and not at all businesslike, I think it would be in the finest traditions of Python irrationality if we gave Mark an extra thousand pounds and a silver tray with some cut-glass sherry glasses and told him to stop writing to us for more money. Beyond that even I am not prepared to go. Oh, all right, some cheese straws to go with the sherry glasses.' Forstater estimated he was entitled to more than two hundred thousand smackers but said that the final figures would be worked out at later hearings. Like the film upon which it is based, the stage comedy is about a group of medieval knights searching for the mythical Holy Grail but the plot broadens out to spoof other aspects of the Python oeuvre, Broadway and various musicals, including those of Andrew Lloyd Webber. It is currently showing at London's Playhouse Theatre. Forstater was made bankrupt in June 2012, but the bankruptcy was annulled in October last year and he entered an independent voluntary arrangement to deal with his debts.

A BBC documentary about the rivalry between racing drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda will be broadcast on BBC2 next weekend. Hunt Versus Lauda: F1's Greatest Racing Rivals will feature unseen footage and exclusive interviews from friends, colleagues and family members of both drivers, as well as the journalists who worked on the Formula 1 circuit at the height of their rivalry in the mid-1970s. The documentary airs ahead of the release of Ron Howard's historical drama Rush, which focuses on the dramatic 1976 Formula 1 season. Lauda, who was reigning world drivers' champion, suffered life-threatening injuries in a crash at the Nürburgring. However, he staged a remarkable comeback six weeks later to push the dandy playboy (but very entertaining) Hunt to his first world drivers' title with a season that climaxed in the torrential rain of the Japanese Grand Prix. Hunt Versus Lauda: F1's Greatest Racing Rivals will be broadcast on Sunday 14 July at 9pm on BBC2. Meanwhile Rush, which stars Chris Hemsworth as Hunt and Daniel Brühl as Lauda, will be released on 13 September the UK and 20 September in the US. As part of the promotion for the movie, Howard is scheduled to appear on Top Gear this coming Sunday.
Filming of the risible, odious and embarrassing reality TV show Geordie Shore has been suspended after two of the cast members were arrested following a late-night bar fight on Tyneside. Vicky Pattison, twenty five, from Newcastle, and Holly Hagan, twenty, of Thornaby, were held for questioning after a teenage girl was allegedly assaulted. Northumbria Police said that the eighteen-year-old was treated at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary and later released. The programme makers said that filming had been 'temporarily suspended.' The alleged assault took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning at Florita's Bar in Newcastle - which is usually full of gangstas, radjys and charvas at the best of times - where an episode for the seventh series of the MTV show was being filmed. A spokeswoman for the car-crash of a show said: 'Following an incident during filming that has led to a police enquiry into an alleged offence by a member of the cast, MTV and Lime Pictures have temporarily suspended filming of Geordie Shore series seven pending further enquiries. The decision has already been taken to remove certain cast members from the production process for the time being.' Northumbria Police has appealed for any witnesses to come forward. That's to the alleged assault rather than the show itself, obviously. A police spokesman said: 'Two women aged twenty five and twenty have been arrested on suspicion of assault and are helping police with enquiries.' A spokesperson for Hagan said that she 'vehemently denies being involved in any violent incident whatsoever.' Another Geordie Shore cast member, Gaz Beadle, was also recently cautioned by police over a nightclub brawl.

Skyfall has proven to be the biggest selling video of 2013 so far, according to the Official Charts Company. The latest James Bond movie, starring yer actual Daniel Craig and (for the last time) Judi Dench, leads the chart for movie home video sales, ahead of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and musical Les Misérables. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 was in fourth place, while Taken 2 completed the top five. In total, Skyfall shifted more than 2.8 million units over the six-month period up until Saturday, June 29.

And now, some truly Earth-shattering news. Blue are set to take part in an episode of The Million Pound Drop Live. Just one more reason not to watch it, dear blog reader.

An Asian TV channel has been fined eighty five thousand knicker by Ofcom after it broadcast a speech by an Islamic scholar who said that Muslims have 'a duty to kill' anyone who insulted the Prophet Muhammad. The comments were made during a live lecture shown on DM Digital's Rehmatul Lil Alameen, broadcast in October 2011. The media regulator said the programme was 'likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime.' In its ruling, Ofcom added it must not be broadcast again. It stated that some of the scholar's comments could be seen as 'a generic call to all Muslims encouraging or inciting them to criminal action or disorder, by unambiguously stating they had a duty to kill anyone who criticises or insults the Prophet Mohammed and apostates.' The lecturer also praised the introduction of a blasphemy law in Pakistan and the murder of a prominent politician who had opposed it. The station accepted that it had breached the broadcasting code, but argued that it had 'not been deliberate' and that it had issued an apology the following day, tightened up its editorial guidelines and dismissed those responsible for the programme's content. It also pointed out that the scholar had previously been a guest and had 'never expressed such views previously', and that he will never be invited back again. In a separate breach of guidelines, the channel was also fined twenty grand over its coverage of the Pakistan Overseas Alliance Forum conference the same year which Ofcom said offered a 'one-sided' view of political violence in Karachi. It also criticised the channel's chief executive, Doctor Liaqat Malik, for expressing his personal views on matters of political and industrial controversy, which breached rules on impartiality. The Manchester-based channel describes itself as bringing 'Asian and English cultures closer by integrating its people, the cultural diversity, communities and the economy.' It is available on Sky in the UK and via other satellite platforms across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

British scientists are to make 'a concerted effort' to look for alien life among the stars. Academics from eleven institutions have set up a network to co-ordinate their Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. The English Astronomer Royal, Sir Martin Rees, will act as patron. The group is asking funding agencies for a 'small' sum of money - reportedly about one million smackers a year - to support listening time on radio telescopes and for data analysis. It would also help pay for research that considered new ways to try to find aliens. Currently, most Seti work is done in the US and is funded largely through private donation. UK Seti Research Network co-ordinator Alan Penny said that there was 'important expertise' in Britain keen to play its part. 'If we had one part in two hundred - half a percent of the money that goes into astronomy at the moment - we could make an amazing difference. We would become comparable with the American effort,' the University of St Andrews researcher told BBC News. 'I don't know whether [aliens] are out there, but I'm desperate to find out. It's quite possible that we're alone in the Universe. And think about the implications of that: if we're alone in the Universe then the whole purpose in the Universe is in us. If we're not alone, that's interesting in a very different way.' The UKSRN held its first get-together at this week's National Astronomy Meeting. British researchers and facilities have had occasional involvement in Seti projects down the years. The most significant was the use in 1998 to 2003 of Jodrell Bank, and its seventy six metre Lovell radio telescope, in Project Phoenix. This was a search for signals from about one thousand nearby stars. Organised - and paid for - by the Seti Institute in California, it ultimately found nothing. Jodrell has since been updated, linking it via fibre optics into a two hundred and seventeen kilometre-long array with six other telescopes across England. Known as eMerlin, this system would be a far more powerful tool to scan the skies for alien transmissions. And Jodrell's Tim O'Brien said Seti work could be done quite easily without disturbing mainstream science on the array. 'You could do serendipitous searches. So if the telescopes were studying quasars, for example, we could piggy-back off that and analyse the data to look for a different type of signal - not the natural astrophysical signal that the quasar astronomer was interested in, but something in the noise that one might imagine could be associated with aliens. This approach would get you Seti research almost for free,' the Jodrell associate director explained. 'There are billions of planets out there. It would be remiss of us not to at least have half an ear open to any signals that might be being sent to us.' In addition to eMerlin, the UK is also heavily involved in Lofar - a European Low Frequency Array that incorporates new digital techniques to survey wide areas of the sky all at once. And Jodrell itself is the management HQ for the forthcoming Square Kilometre Array, a giant next-generation radio observatory to be built in South Africa and Australia. It will have incredible power, not only to screen out interference from TV and phone signals here on Earth, but to resolve very faint signals at vast distances. It has been said the SKA could detect an airport radar on an alien world fifty light-years away. One attraction of Seti is the great potential for 'citizen science' involvement. The Seti@Home screensaver has proved to be a big hit with the public, using downtime on home and business PCs to analyse radio telescope data for alien signals. The UK has a strong history in this area also with projects such as Galaxy Zoo, which sees citizen scientists help professional astronomers sift and classify the colossal numbers of images we now have of galaxy structures. Sir Martin said there was huge public interest in the Seti question and some modest state funding for the area would probably get wide support. 'I'd put it this way: if you were to ask all the people coming out of a science fiction movie whether they'd be happy if some small fraction of the tax revenues from that movie were hypothecated to try to determine if any of what they'd just seen was for real, I'm sure most would say "yes"', he told BBC News. The issue is whether UK astronomy, currently operating under very tight fiscal constraints, can afford any spare cash for a field of endeavour that has completely unknown outcomes. Sheffield University's Paul Crowther doubted the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the main funders of UK astronomy, would be able to support UKSRN. 'Continued flat-cash science budget awards are constantly eroding STFC's buying powers, causing the UK to withdraw from existing productive facilities such as the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope. [British astronomy] faces the prospect of a reduced volume of research grants, and participation in future high-impact facilities is threatened. I would be shocked if STFC's advisory panels rated the support of UKSRN higher than such scientifically compelling competition.' Doctor Penny argued Seti could make a strong case, and that his group would try to get research council backing. 'The human race wants to explore, wants to find things out, and if we stop trying we're on the road to decay,' he said.

And, on that bombshell, dear blog reader, today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day celebrates summer and the mysteries of the universe. well, almost. Here's Mighty Mighty with the musical question of the hour.