Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July Is Dressed Up And Playing Her Tune

The great and lovely Peter Capaldi is the latest poor actor to find his name being forced into the frame as a potential next Doctor with the news that he's, apparently, the odds-on favourite for the gig at Ladbrokes. You know, just as Rory Kinnear was at one point - they'd even stopped taking bets on him they were so certain he'd get it, remember? Until he denied it. And, indeed, as Peter's The Thick of It co-star Chris Addison also was at one point. Until he denied it. Anyway ... lovely idea - Peter's a properly great, and very high-profile - actor, a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping and, by all accounts, a Doctor Who fan of long-standing. But, somehow, I can't see it happening - his sheer 'in-demandness' as an actor being the chief drawback for a role which requires a ten month a year commitment. Plus, he's playing the Duc du Richelieu in the BBC's forthcoming Saturday night version of The Three Muskateers which is sort of a direct replacement for Merlin. So, personally, this blogger reckons he might be a bit busy with that to fit in the ten months a year Doctor Who requires. Nevertheless, it's a lovely thought. And, of course, Peter his very self does have previous in the wild and wacky world of Doctor Who. And he was in Torchwood, as well.
Luther brought in an extra four hundred thousand overnight punters viewers for its series finale on Tuesday night. The Idris Elba detective series, which featured the return of Ruth Wilson as Alice Morgan (left), was watched by 4.83 million at 9pm, a significant climb week-on-week from the penultimate episode. In the episode, big hard John Luther didn't just hang up his detective coat, he hurled it into the river. It was a heavy hint from the writer, Neil Cross, that he may be closing the door on everyone's favourite angry TV copper. If that was the last ever episode of Luther, it bowed out with some style. The return of Alice Morgan, the farewell to Justin Ripley, the stairwell shooting of George Stark - it all combined to make a suitably brilliant farewell to the series. A Luther movie has been talked about for many years and with Elba leading the cast, there's definitely enough box office potential to take the leap to the big screen. On BBC2, The Routemasters: Running London's Roads was watched by 1.84 million at 9pm, before Chris O'Dowd's comedy Family Tree had an audience of six hundred and seventy two thousand punters at 10pm. ITV's evening entertainment centred on the wretched Love Your Garden at 8pm - which pulled in 2.86 million - and Hunting the Doorstep Conmen. Which, similarly, limped to 2.29 million at 9pm. Channel Four struggled again in the 9pm ratings battle, only collecting nine hundred and fifty thousand for the documentary Why Don't You Speak English? The broadcaster was beaten by Channel Five, which captured 1.54 million for the latest episode of CSI. The Big Brother ratings stayed steady at 10pm on Channel Five, with 1.31 million.

In a recent blog update, From The North reported on Gabby Logan's comments that the female presenters who wear figure-hugging outfits on Sky Sports are there to provide 'window dressing' alongside their male colleagues. She added that the broadcaster – whose roster of female presenters include Charlotte Jackson, Natalie Sawyer, Sarah-Jane Mee, Georgie Thompson, Kirsty Gallacher, Hayley McQueen and Charlie Webster (all of whom were, very obviously, hired for their world-class journalistic brilliance and not because they're pretty) – treat women 'differently' from men. Possibly a grain of truth in that (possibly more than  a grain, actually) although Sky Sports' reported response was: 'While we respect Gabby's opinion and her work, we're surprised by the comments as there are many talented women who have developed successful presenting or reporting careers at Sky Sports. They include trained journalists, passionate and knowledgeable about sport, who work on our most high profile sports including football, golf, cricket and Formula 1.' So, just to reinforce the point Sky Sports are making, here's a small collection of photos of some of the ladies of Sky Sports displaying their journalistic brilliance and 'knowledge and passion of sport' for all the world to see.
Well, I'm certainly convinced. I think it's Kirsty Gallagher's panties what did it. Or, possibly Sarah Jane Mee's miniskirt that's so tiny it's almost a belt. Meanwhile, here's radical feminist spokesperson Gabby Logan her very self, last year, when she was selected as 'the face of Speedo Sculpture’s latest shaping swimwear line.' If you're going to make a point about crass and obviously sexism, Gabby hen, it might be an idea to avoid stuff like this yourself.
Meanwhile, dear blog reader, just in case you hadn't heard ...
Well, at least it's factually accurate, unlike most of the press.

A specially-filmed scene was inserted into Tuesday's edition of EastEnders, marking the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's son. Dot Cotton and Abi Branning were seen discussing the arrival of the royal sprog in the episode. The birth was confirmed shortly after 20:30 on Monday. Some 2.6 million viewers were watching rolling coverage on BBC1 when the announcement came. About 7.1 million heard the news during an advert break during ITV's Coronation Street. Channel Four left their continuity announcer to make the announcement, while Channel Five, bless 'em, waited for their regularly-scheduled news bulletin at 20:55. Because, obviously, The Gadget Show was far too important to interrupt with such trivia. Viewing figures for the main Ten O'Clock News programmes were an average four million for BBC1 and 2.1 million for ITV for News At Ten. The BBC said that it had received three hundred and seventy eight complaints from disgruntled viewers over various aspects of its coverage, including from those who felt too much time was devoted to the story, some who felt there wasn't enough and others who were disappointed at the change in BBC1's schedule to accommodate the rolling coverage. 'This was a huge story in the UK and abroad - it was a historic event with high audience interest,' a BBC spokeswoman said. 'Millions of people tuned-in across the day boosting audiences to the News Channel which saw the fourth highest day of the year. It was also the biggest global day and second biggest UK day ever for BBC News online with 19.4m unique browsers globally and 10.8m from the UK.' A spokeswoman for Sky News said that it had also received 'a number' of complaints that there was too much coverage, although the majority of the viewers were 'captivated by the coverage and had a lot of praise.' The new scene for EastEnders was recorded late on Monday evening and dropped into a pre-recorded episode. 'This is such a momentous occasion for the Royal family, the country and, of course, the residents of Walford that we felt it should be marked,' said a spokeswoman for the soap. The show often reflects topical and historic events. Scenes discussing the death of Michael Jackson, the election of US President Barack Obama and the 2012 Olympic torch relay have been dropped into the programme at the last minute. Footage of the Royal Wedding was also included in an episode in 2011, just hours after the ceremony had taken place. Most recently, Andy Murray's win at Wimbledon was scripted into the show.

TV viewers watching the first public appearance of the newborn Prince of Cambridge would be forgiven for thinking there was no order to the media frenzy that greeted the royal nipper (to be named George, apparently) outside St Mary's hospital on Tuesday night. Kensington Palace had, reportedly, told broadcasters that they would have to 'decide among themselves' who got to ask the first question of the Duke and Duchess. So that's what they did – with the age-old score settler, the coin toss. Tim Ewart, the ITV News royal man, won the flip, beating his Sky News rival Paul Harrison. Ewart went on to ask William the question that prompted his headline-making reply: 'He's got a good pair of lungs on him, that's for sure.' Sky's Harrison, meanwhile, put his question to the Duchess before tweeting: 'I was delighted to get the first question to Kate.' Second, mate. It comes right after first. Ask Buzz Aldrin.

And, speaking of total and utter hyporitical scum, those odious right-wing bully-boy thugs at the Daily Scum Mail just can't seem to resist aiming another volley at the BBC. Well, there Is a 'y' in the day, after all. This time, it's over the corporation's royal baby coverage. Was the BBC over the top? it asks, dutifully reporting that - as noted above - 'some' viewers have accused the corporation of 'sycophantic' coverage AND 'over-kill' after 'saturating' its airwaves since the royal announcement on Monday evening. (Significantly, no actual numbers were quoted by the odious filth at the Scum Mail.) Which might have been a lot more convincing were it not for the fact that the risible louse paper itself printed another bumper twenty-page package of odiously risible arse-licking royal coverage, including pictures, opinion pieces, features, timelines, backgrounders, open letters and more on the same day. Scum.

UK Athletics has extended its TV deal with the BBC to ensure British athletics events will continue to be shown on terrestrial television until at least 2020. The BBC will screen the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 and the World Championships in London the following year. The UKA chief executive Niels De Vos said: 'British Athletics is absolutely delighted with this new deal with the BBC. It will ensure that our elite events will be broadcast to the widest possible audience over the next seven years until at least 2020.'

A generation of British children grew up with Knightmare, the pioneering TV show inspired by role-playing games that mixed live contestants with computer-generated dungeons. Now it's returning in a one-off episode filmed for YouTube. The revived Knightmare will be one of the British highlights of YouTube's Geek Week from 4 to 10 August, which will celebrate science-fiction, comics, gaming and science. The episode has been produced by the show's creator Tim Child, and will feature comedian Isy Suttie and actor Jessie Cave alongside the original show's dungeon master character, Treguard. They'll be joined by four British YouTube stars, Dan Howell, Phil Lester, Emma Blackery and Stuart Ashen, as the video service aims to showcase and cross-promote some of the British talent that's finding a niche online through their channels. More than one hundred YouTube creators will be publishing themed videos for Geek Week, which is being executive-produced by multi-channel network ChannelFlip. Content will include a celebration of Doctor Who and various superheroes, a day focusing on science and education channels and a live broadcast from the YouTube Space in London of popular games YouTubers trying to break a selection of Guinness World Records. Celebrities including odious risible full-of-his-own-importance clown Jamie Oliver, Countdown's Rachel Riley and big shouty Brian Blessed have contributed video playlists, while another veteran TV character – Kryten from Red Dwarf, played by Robert Llewelyn – will act as a daily host pointing viewers to new videos. 'With more than half of our top twenty non-music channels dedicated to geek culture, YouTube has become a top destination for fans everywhere to create, share and watch geek content,' says Danielle Tiedt, vice president of marketing - for geeks - at YouTube. 'We're excited to shine a spotlight on this global community during Geek Week and debut all-new videos and series created by some of our most popular channel partners.'

The forthcoming BBC1 drama Atlantis is to be broadcast on BBC America in the US. The fantasy series is from Merlin co-creators Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy and Misfits writer Howard Overman. Atlantis follows the young Greek hero Jason at he arrives on the mysterious island of Atlantis. The thirteen-part series will launch on BBC America in late 2013, following the show's UK premiere (likely to be September). Mark Addy, Juliet Stevenson, Sarah Parish and Jemima Rooper will all star in Atlantis along with Robert Emms, Jack Donnelly and Aiysha Hart. The drama is currently being filmed in the UK and Morocco.

Sheepdog contest One Man & His Dog (woof) is to have a new home on BBC1 - as part of rural affairs show Countryfile. The dog trial series ran from 1976 to 1999 but has since spawned one-off programmes hosted by Countryfile's Matt Baker, who said he was 'delighted' by the news. 'I have no doubt these skilful dogs and their handlers will captivate viewers," the presenter said. Countryfile attracts a regular audience of more than six million viewers to BBC1 on Sunday nights. At its peak in the early 1980s, One Man & His Dog (woof) regularly attracted audiences in excess of eight million. But, by the time the programme was axed in 1999, figures had fallen to around one-and-a half million and, like old, sick dog, it was put out of its misery. The presenter at the time, Gus Dermody, called the decision to end the show 'a real tragedy.' Which is wasn't. Not even close. Floods, earthquakes and tornadoes which, you know, kill people, they're real tragedies, Gus me auld cock sparra; a television programme being cancelled because no one was watching it really isn't. 'One Man & his Dog (went to move a meadow) has been a much-loved part of the BBC's schedule since 1976,' said Countryfile's executive editor Bill Lyons, carefully avoiding the fifteen years in that time period when it, you know, wasn't. 'This move to a prime-time slot on Sunday evenings on BBC1 reinforces the special place that the programme has in the BBC's coverage of country life.' According to the BBC, 'viewers old and new will be able to enjoy the nail-biting competition showcasing the time-honoured skills and tradition of sheepdog trialling.'

Guido Fawkes blog founder Paul Staines is planning to send a legal warning to the Tory MP Claire Perry after she accused him of 'sponsoring' the hacking of her website. Perry, who is David Cameron's 'special adviser on children and Internet pornography', reacted angrily when the website published a screengrab of her own website showing it had been hacked. The Westminster gossip blog reported that Perry's site carried 'a series of explicit adult images' which were 'unsuitable for a family blog such as this.' The blogpost prompted Perry to accuse Staines himself of 'sponsoring' the security breach and said that she would 'complain to the Sun', where Staines writes a Sunday column. Like the school sneak snitching on someone like a Copper's Nark for not doing their homework. On Wednesday, Staines said that he would send the MP a letter from his solicitors threatening to sue the buttocks off her for libel if she did not take down the claim on Twitter and if Guido Fawkes readers voted for him to take legal action. By midday, the vast majority (eighty six per cent) of those polled urged Staines to extremely sue Perry. 'If the readers say to sue by noon and she hasn't taken it down we will send her a lawyer's letter,' he said. 'I have an aversion to suing people but the lawyers say it's open and shut. She's been asked to take it down.' Staines said that it was 'very silly' of Perry to accuse him of linking to porn when he had only published a screenshot – and ridiculed her threat to complain to the editor of the Sun. 'I don't think she understands. The editor of the Sun edits the Sun. I edit the blog. Why doesn't she call the editor of The Times as well?' he asked, sarcastically. 'It's a bit school playground, isn't it? "I'm gonna tell the teacher on you."' Big fight, little people.

James Alexander Gordon, one of the most recognisable voices in British broadcasting, is to retire from his role reading the classified football results on BBC radio. He recently had surgery to remove his larynx after being diagnosed with cancer and his voice is no longer strong enough to broadcast. 'It's with great sorrow that I have to give up the most exciting part of my career, the classified football results,' said the seventy seven-year-old Scot. 'They have been my life.' Richard Burgess, head of BBC Radio Sport, described Gordon as 'a broadcasting legend', while Mark Pougatch, presenter of Radio 5Live Sport, said: 'Even people who don't really even like football knew who James was, even if they didn't realise it.' Gordon began reading the classified results in 1973. His distinctive Scottish accent and unique style attracted an army of followers, including comedian Eric Morecambe. Gordon even had a Cornwall-based fan club and still receives tens of letters every week, with a large proportion coming from members of the British Armed Forces serving their country across the world. Born in Edinburgh in 1936, Gordon, who contracted polio when he was six months old and spent a lot of his childhood in hospital, worked in the music business before joining radio, promoting the likes of Bert Kaempfert and James Last. In 1972, he joined the BBC, reading the news and presenting various programmes on Radio 2 - even Newsbeat on Radio 1 - before his break came reading the classified football results. 'I was terrified at first, but I put my heart and soul into it and have loved it ever since,' said Gordon, who lives in Berkshire. 'Such fun getting it right. The most important thing, though, has been making it exciting for the listener. I want to thank my producer of some thirty years, Audrey Adams, whose love of sport and determination to get it right has made all the difference. How proud I am that I have served the very best of BBC radio sport, albeit in a small way with the classifieds, and I know that the great team will continue to present the best in radio sport coverage.' Pougatch commented: 'Such was his unique style of reading the classifieds, his wonderful inflections and stresses, that even non-believers of the sport knew the result after the home team's score. Nobody else will be able to say "Wolverhampton Wanderers" with quite such mellifluous tones.' Burgess added: 'This is desperately sad news for everyone at BBC Sport and we know our sadness will be shared by many millions of listeners. For so many of us, James has been a mainstay in our lives - a reassuring and reliable presence every week. It's not an exaggeration to say that Saturdays at 5pm will never be the same again without the warm, melodious sound of his voice, just after the Sports Report theme on BBC Radio 5Live.'

Former Australia fast bowler Jeff Thomson admits he was 'embarrassed' by his compatriots' batting performance in their second Ashes test loss at Lord's. England won by three hundred and forty seven runs to take a two-nil lead in the series. 'I'm embarrassed,' said Thommo. 'I hope like hell they can do something in Manchester,' he told BBC Radio 5Live. 'We just said it's the worst batting we've ever seen in our life. Then they turned around and did it in the second innings.' Australia were bowled out in their second innings for two hundred and thirty five late on the fourth day, after England had set them five hundred and eighty three to win. The Aussies had earlier been dismissed for one hundred and twenty eight in their first innings. The visitors also lost a thrilling first Test by fourteen runs on the final day at Trent Bridge. Thomson, who took more than two hundred Test wickets - many in a truly scary partnership with Dennis Lillee - before retiring in 1986, said: 'I was impressed with the guys in the first game in Nottingham. I was proud. I thought these guys aren't that great but they're fighters. Then they came out at Lord's, and the bowlers did a fair job. I thought that was very good, then we're out in fifty overs. And the shots they played, I was so angry.' Blimey, you don't wanna see Thommo angry. Ask David Lloyd about that ball hitting him in the Jacob's cream crackers at Perth when Thommo was just a wee bit angry! Blimey, it made my eyes water, dear blog reader, and I was six thousand miles away and in bed at the time. Meanwhile, former England skipper Mike Gatting says that he feels 'little sympathy' for Australia's current plight. The fifty six-year-old, who scored four thousand four hundred and nine runs in seventy nine tests including twenty three matches as captain, became the last England skipper for eighteen years to lift the Ashes when he led them to victory in Australia in 1986-87. 'I can't feel sorry for them because we've had many beatings from them,' he told 5Live. 'Losing is very hard and they do tend to rub your nose in it, especially if you are in Australia. [England] are going to take one test match at a time and they have to keep the foot on the Australian throat and make sure they don't get up, because if there is a team that can do it sometimes, it's an Australia team.'

The sizzling summer of 1976 caused permanent changes to British forests, new research suggests. Scientists found that the long dry spell that year - the UK's most intense drought between 1914 and 2006 - killed off many drought-sensitive beech trees. Growth of the trees is still restricted more than thirty years later, a study in the journal Functional Ecology said. The more drought-tolerant Sessile Oak survived better and is now dominating the beech. The scientific work was carried out at Lady Wood Park in the Wye Valley. This forty five hectare site is a national nature reserve and is attractive to researchers because it has been deliberately unmanaged since 1945. Detailed forest surveys have been carried out in the park over the past seventy years and the ecologists were able to use these along with tree ring data to discover how the different tree species fared over the period. Before 1976, beech was the dominant species in this area. But that summer's drought has permanently changed the make-up of the forest. That dry spell was the most exceptional drought in the years between 1914 and 2006 - it was thirty per cent more intense than the next driest year, 1921. The researchers found that in the period immediately after 1976, there was a significant growth in beech mortality. Between 1977 and 1992, seventeen per cent of these trees died, while there were no deaths among the oaks. 'The beech growth dropped very suddenly,' said Professor Alistair Jump from the University of Stirling who carried out the work along with researchers from Joint Nature Conservation Committee. 'The Sessile Oak which is slightly less competitive but is more drought tolerant took advantage and grew much better - and beech has never fully recovered in the system.' The researchers say the oaks increased their growth rate by approximately twenty per cent in the years immediately after 1976. The beech trees eventually stabilised their growth rate but only at around seventy five per cent of pre-drought levels. The scientists say that beech trees can appear to tolerate drought without a long term impact until a threshold is reached. 'I think tipping point is a key idea, and that's something that we see very clearly in the work,' said Jump. 'They are resistant up to a point and then we hit a tipping point and the system shows very severe impacts. The problem is we don't know where these tipping points are for other species.' The researchers say they expect the changes that they recorded at Lady Park Wood to have been replicated across the UK.

Which brings us to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which, as it happens, features a single from the summer of 1976. Well, that's when I bought it anyway, although it actually came out three years earlier! Here's The Isleys.

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