Monday, July 01, 2013

You Touched My Very Soul

Top Gear returned for its twentieth series since its 2002 relaunch on BBC2 with nearly five million overnight viewers, making it Sunday night's most popular programme on any channel outside of BBC1's Countryfile. Much to the obvious chagrin of various hippie Communist lice at the Gruniad Morning Star and some jack-booted bully boy thugs at the Daily Scum Mail. So, that's brilliant, then. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May's latest episode was watched by 4.73m at 8pm. This was down around a million viewers from the overnight figure for the show's most recent episode, in early March, albeit the latest episode was broadcast on one of the hottest days of the year so far. Expect that figure to, significantly, rise on timeshifts, when they're released early next week. On BBC1, The White Queen dropped two hundred thousand overnight viewers from the previous week to 4.25m for its third episode at 9pm. Earlier, Antiques Roadshow was seen by 4.38m at 7pm, while Countryfile was, as noted, the most watched show of the night on any channel with 5.44m at 8pm. Match Of The Day's coverage of the Confederations Cup final between Brazil and Spain scored 2.37m at 10.30pm. BBC2's Rise of the Continents followed Top Gear and brought in 2.08m at 9pm, while coverage of the final night of Glastonbury 2013 secured eight hundred and fifty three at 10pm to watch posh boys Mumford & Sons close the festival. Never trust rock stars with that many O Levels, dear blog reader, it's a jolly dangerous combination. On ITV, The Cube's alleged 'special' - featuring Louis Smith and Mark Wright - failed to entertain 2.93m at 8pm. Tipping Point had earlier been watched by 3.07m at 7pm. Michael Bublé's one-off documentary Day Off interested 2.94m sad, crushed victims of society at 9pm. ITV's highest rating programme of that day was Tipping Point with just over three million viewers as the channel sunk to its joint worst daily share of the year so far - a mere eight per cent of the available audience. Channel Four's Time Team special about Lincoln Jail was seen by 1.34m at 8pm, followed by the latest episode of The Returned with nine hundred and forty eight thousand punters at 9pm. On Channel Five, the latest episode of Once Upon A Time attracted seven hundred and thirty one thousand at 8pm. Big Brother continued with 1.24m at 9pm.

Wretched, banal and worthless new ITV fiasco Your Face Sounds Familiar débuted with 3.82m sad, crushed victims of society watching it from 7.30pm on Saturday evening, overnight data suggests. Under normal circumstances such a figure would be cause for celebration for everyone who loathes nasty, odious lowest-common-denominator nonsense like this, under four million being a really poor audience of a primetime Saturday night ITV show. Tragically, however, such was the dearth of anything remotely interesting on telly on Saturday night that Your Face Sounds Familiar was, in fact, the most-watched broadcast of the day on any terrestrial channel. Earlier, You've Been Framed at 7pm, picked up 2.49m and All Star Family Fortunes was watched by 3.35m people with their brains dribbling out of their ears at 8.45pm. Ratings for the imported US thriller The Americans were up one hundred and fifty thousand punters on the previous week's episode to 1.05m at 9.45pm. Over on BBC1, it was a thoroughly wretched night; Casualty was watched by 3.79m at 8.45pm and movie Die Hard With A Vengeance pulled in 2.78m at 10pm. Once again, a late decision to broadcast tennis coverage on BBC1 for the early part of the evening caused chaos with the schedules, several programmes having to be bumped over to BBC2 (Pointless Celebrities, for example, from 7pm, which still managed to get 2.11m tuning in). Later, Today At Wimbledon had 2.13m on 8pm and Mock the Week was seen by 1.13m at 9.30pm. Coverage of the Glastonbury Festival interested 1.28m at 10.30pm with a peak of two and a half million during the first hour - see below. Channel Four showed Come Dine With Me to half-a-million punters at 7pm and Grand Designs to six hundred and sixty thousand an hour later. The Million Pound Drop Live attracted 1.11m at 9pm, after which movie Patriot Games took three hundred and sixty thousand viewers at 10.30pm. The CSI Movie: Crisis had five hundred and fifty six thousand at 7.15pm on Channel Five and the latest episode of Big Brother took eight hundred and forty four thousand at 8.45pm. The British and Irish Lions test against Australia was the highest rated show on the multichannels, picking up eight hundred and forty eight thousand viewers on Sky Sports 1 at 10pm.

Meanwhile, The Rolling Stones' headlining set at Glastonbury on Saturday was seen by a peak audience of 2.5m on BBC2. The BBC's official TV figures also revealed that 1.4m viewers tuned in to watch The Arctic Monkeys perform on Friday evening. Live performances on all six main stages online have also been streamed by one million unique visitors on the BBC's website during Friday and Saturday, which is up a massive eighty seven per cent from 2011.
Catch-up and on-demand services now account for a fifth of British television viewing, a YouView census has shown. The study showed that the average British person records around nine hours of programmes each week and spends six hours using on-demand services. This increases for people in the eighteen to twenty four age group, who spend nine hours watching catch-up services - just under a third of their weekly television watching. Parents of under-sixteen year olds estimated that their children watch at least seven hours of on-demand programming each week. Out of the two thousand people questioned, including yer actual Keith Telly Topping as it happened, seventy seven per cent still use their main television as their primary source of watching TV shows, but it was found that an average house has four different devices capable of broadcasting programmes, which is double than what most houses had five years ago. Fifty seven per cent of those questioned use their computer to watch some television content, fourteen per cent use a games console and twenty five per cent access programmes on a tablet. There was also one bloke who watches his telly on his washing machine. Which is a good trick if you can manage it. The study, carried out by YouGov on behalf of YouView, found that the average home records around ten programmes each week, and deletes about four without watching them. The programmes most likely to be deleted without watching are entertainment based, followed by films and documentaries. Spending money on subscription TV services has also increased by about forty per cent in five years, with the average household paying around £29.89 a month. Nearly a quarter of households questioned spend more than fifty smackers a month. Steve Conway, head of marketing at YouView, said: 'Television is a huge part of British life, but we know the way people view it is changing beyond all recognition. What is becoming important to TV fans is being able to watch what they want, whenever they want it and this research supports that. Among eighteen to twenty four year olds, thirty seven per cent said the ability to watch on-demand TV was very important, compared to a quarter nationally, and as a nation we are craving more and more time with our favourite programmes, on our own terms.' He added: 'YouView seamlessly integrates live and on-demand TV on your television, and the results of this survey are interesting, as it shows a quarter questioned are now watching more TV than five years ago, and more than three quarters watch television content on their TV.'

Speaking of which, here's the final consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Three Programmes week-ending 23 June 2013:-
1 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.32m
2 The Voice - Sat BBC1 - 7.95m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.93m
4 The Apprentice - Wed BBC1 - 7.48m
5 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.13m
6 The White Queen - Sun BBC1 - 5.70m
7 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.67m
8 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.55m
9 Long Lost Family - Mon ITV - 5.52m*
10 The National Lottery: Saturday Draws - Sat BBC1 - 5.14m
11 Frankie - Tues BBC1 - 4.98m
12 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.91m
13 Paul O'Grady: For The Love Of Dogs - Thurs ITV - 4.83m*
14 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 4.72m
15 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 4.52m
16 Six O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 4.49m
17 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.45m
18 Agatha Christie's Marple - Sun ITV - 4.39m*
19 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.26m
20 Watchdog - Wed BBC1 - 4.25m
21 Mrs Brown's Boys - Fri BBC1 - 3.98m
22 The ONE Show - Thurs BBC1 - 3.94m
23 Love And Marriage - Wed ITV - 3.81m*
Programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures.

Tina Hobley is to leave her role as Chrissie Williams in Holby City. The actress will bow out of the long-running medical drama later this year to 'explore new roles.' Hobley said: 'Being a part of the Holby family for the last twelve years has been an experience I will treasure forever but it's time to explore some new challenges. I have loved playing Chrissie Williams but I'm also looking forward to getting my teeth in to some other characters and new roles.' Executive producer Oliver Kent added: 'As Chrissie Williams, Tina Hobley has been a leading light at Holby City for over a decade and we will be very sorry to see her go. It has been a joy and privilege to work with her and she has been massively popular with the audience. We wish her all the very best for the future.'
The BBC paid out twenty five million smackers in severance payments to senior BBC managers in the three years to December 2012, according to a National Audit Office report. The top ten payments accounted for twenty per cent of the total paid out. The BBC said that the savings it had made during that time from senior manager redundancies exceeded the cost of severance payments. The BBC's director general Tony Hall said: 'These payments were from another era and we are putting a stop to them.'

BT Sport has suggested that it is 'unimpressed' with Sky Sports 1 going free for one day, because it is free all year round for BT's broadband customers. Sky unveiled its new weekend schedule last week for the 2013-14 season and announced that Sky Sports 1 would be available for free on Saturday 17 August - the first day of the new Premier League season. 'BT Sport is free every day of the season for BT broadband customers, not just free for one day,' said a BT Sport spokesman. 'We are pleased to see that our arrival has prompted Sky to attempt to raise its game, but this stunt does not disguise the fact that this season they have fewer top pick matches.' He added: 'BT Sport customers will enjoy thirty eight live Barclays Premier League matches this season, including almost half of the top picks, so fans have a real choice of quality live sport on Saturdays for the first time in Premier League history. We think that means BT Sport is an essential part of the mix for sports fans.' BT outbid ESPN to win the rights to thirty eight Premier League games a year for the next three seasons. It later confirmed that its new BT Sport channels would be free for its five million broadband customers, while non-BT customers can add the channels for twelve smackers a month or fifteen quid for HD. The broadcaster later denied suggestions that it had increased its Line Rental Saver Plan by nine per cent as a result of purchasing the football rights.

Launching the third series of Luther at BAFTA this week, BBC drama boss Ben Stephenson recalled that (far from being desensitised by the amount of dramatic violence he has to view) he was watching the opener with headphones on at the office when a scene – a shot from under a bed of a victim kicking off her high heels – made him scream out loud. Like a girl. 'Nothing to do with the brand of shoe being disastrously wrong, of course, though in the Tudor court-like snakepit of the Beeb there were enemies all too ready to suggest exactly that when the tale of the Stephenson scream was circulated' wrote some louse of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star.

A comedy writer - not one you'll have actually heard of, admittedly - has vowed never to work in TV again after 'meddling BBC executives' allegedly ruined his alleged sitcom script. Course, the chances of him ever being asked to write for TV again after this right girly strop were probably minimal to non-existent anyway. John Warburton claims that 'bosses' with 'no clue' about comedy 'youthed-up [and] dumbed-down' his pilot, set in a Northern pub. And, he claimed that one executive even wanted to know if he could add 'a supernatural element' to the show – because vampires were 'really popular right now.' Warburton – the first graduate from the BBC's College Of Comedy initiative to land a broadcast pilot – admits that the episode of The Inn Mates which finally made it to air on BBC3 was 'awful.' Which, as someone who had the misfortune to watch it, this blogger can readily confirm although, personally, I'd have used the word 'abysmal' personally. Warburton, however, places the blame for The Inn Mates thorough, risible wretchedness firmly at the door of managers with 'no idea of how to be funny.' His whinging comments come in an article for the, of course, Gruniad Morning Star, and are, he claims, 'inspired' by the previous whinging of Qi and Blackadder producer John Lloyd reported on this blog last week. That interfering TV executives were ruining British comedy. Once again, not that this blogger, necessarily, disagrees with a single word that either John has to say about their experiences in this regard. It's just that it always gets right on this blogger's effing tit-end watching people who are employed within an industry that many would give their right arm and all their worldly possession to get into whinging that the executives who are - let's remember - giving them money to go and make a TV programmes won't let them do it just so. Grow up, fer Christ's sake or go and get a job in a call centre instead. Warburton wrote: 'A sitcom is like a delicately spiced soup. A bouillabaisse. You go to incredible lengths to ensure the seasoning is spot-on – a branch of fennel, an extra pistil of saffron; that the balance of ingredients is right, the stock sublime. Eventually it's done. You taste it – it's perfect. Then you give some to a BBC exec and they're not really sure what to do with it, they've never made one themselves. They might dip a teabag in it or try to wear it as a hat.' He added that he as 'sure' BBC comedy executives 'are very good managers, but comedy doesn't need managing. It needs faith in talent' – and that anyone with a gift for comedy would not wind up as a TV executive. And, of course, the Communist lice at the Gruniad were just lapping all this up, so they were. Warburton also claimed that the 'great' comedy shows (which, obviously, excludes The Inn Mates) come either from 'independent production companies that help talent to flourish, such as Steve Coogan's Baby Cow, or from writer-performers who know not to let execs near.' Warburton, a former journalist, concluded by saying that he has now left comedy aside from the occasional stand-up performance, to run a PR agency in Manchester.

Some of Britain’s top comedy writers, meanwhile, have leaped to the defence of TV executives, amid a barrage of accusations about meddling and incompetence. Warburton's claims have been rubbished by more experienced writers. Father Ted and The IT Crowd creator Graham Linehan said it was 'a lazy cliché to say they're interfering know-nothings' and that many executives were 'great.' The fact that Linehan has a new comedy series starting on BBC2 this week - Count Arthur Strong - and Warburton hasn't (and now, probably, never will have) being, perhaps, a necessary difference in viewpoint. Writing on Twitter, Linehan said: 'It's hard to make a script work. When writers are unable or unwilling to do it, blaming execs can be a way of absolving themselves. There are bad execs, but in my experience they're outnumbered by the thoughtful, careful ones. Everyone working together to help show. If an exec is a problem, nine times out of ten it's because the script isn't there. Although I wonder if BBC3 is a special case.' He was echoing the thoughts of Peep Show and Fresh Meat co-creator Sam Bain, who said that Warburton's Gruniad whinge 'confirms every lazy negative stereotype about TV execs. It may be comforting for writers to believe that creatives equal good and execs equal bad, but most of the time if your show is shit it's your fault,' he wrote. 'On Fresh Meat, we've felt consistently supported and had great script notes. Execs even created a bespoke fifty minute slot to suit the show. I've had a largely great time with execs. When our exec on Peep Show [Iain Morris] left C4 we immediately hired him as our script editor.’ Warburton had claimed that broadcasters were so 'obsessed' with youth and 'dumbing down' that they suggested he include a 'supernatural element' to his script to, allegedly, cash in on the popularity of vampires. But some of his opinions have been challenged by Jim Poyser, who worked with Warburton on the 2010 pilot of The Inn Mates. In a tweet to Bain, Poyser said: 'I produced Inn Mates and I thought the execs were pretty good on it. [The] writer wouldn't take notes though, and [it] wasn't all that funny.' Jamie Mathieson, who has written for Being Human and Dirk Gently, added: 'I feel sometimes if a script isn't working a bad exec will sense that but not know how to fix it, leading to bad notes.’ Linehan concurred, saying that: 'If you're getting bad, off-the-point notes, it's because something isn't working.' And Irish novelist Julain Gough also pointed out: 'Beginner writers can misread "notes" as "commands." This can wreck a script. Notes are suggestions in a conversation.’ Richard Herring summed the whole malarkey up with: 'So successful comedy writers think executives are good and unsuccessful ones think they are bad. Food for thought.' Well, indeed.
BSkyB has been cleared of breaking the broadcasting code for hacking the e-mails belonging to John Darwin, the so-called 'canoe man' accused of faking his own death, following an investigation by Ofcom. The media regulator launched an investigation in April after Sky News admitted that one of its senior executives authorised a journalist to conduct e-mail hacking on two separate occasions. BSkyB's defence was that the hacking was 'in the public interest', even though intercepting e-mails is a prima facie breach of the Computer Misuse Act, to which there is no such defence written in law. On Monday, Ofcom said BSkyB had not broken rule 8.1 of the broadcasting code, which relates to fairness and privacy and states that broadcasters must follow a series of standards and principles to avoid the unwarranted infringement of privacy in connection with how material to be used in broadcasts is obtained. 'Ofcom concluded that the broadcaster's right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to receive and impart information and ideas without interference, in the exceptional circumstances of this case, outweighed Mr and Mrs Darwin's expectation of privacy,' said Ofcom in its twenty five-page ruling on the investigation. Ofcom said that it did not receive a complaint from the Darwins themselves, but Sky News's admission of the hacking 'was very serious and warranted further investigation. There is particular current public concern about unauthorised accessing of voicemail and e-mails by journalists and/or by persons instructed on their behalf,' Ofcom said, adding that as well as fairness and privacy issues the investigation 'may also be relevant to Ofcom's ongoing duty to be satisfied that broadcast licensees remain fit and proper to hold a broadcast licence.' Sky admitted that the hacking was authorised by the then managing editor, Simon Cole, who did not take legal advice. Sky also admitted there were no written guidelines about authorising 'potentially unlawful conduct.' 'Overall, although BSkyB's conduct is at the boundaries of what is appropriate, it was warranted in the particular circumstances of this case,' said Ofcom, noting that any relevant information from the e-mails had been shared with police. BSkyB, the Ofcom licence holder for the Sky News channel, said that it does not usually undertake investigative journalism but when it does 'the record showed that it is extremely rare for it to authorise conduct which has the potential to involve contravention of the law.' In its defence the company claimed that Sky News's approach was not 'ad hoc or in any way casual' but was 'serious and systematic.' BSkyB said that as the Darwin's case become a huge topic of news, there was 'no doubt' there was prima facie evidence that it was 'a matter of public interest' and that given the exceptional nature of the case its hacking tactic was 'proportionate.' Ofcom concluded: 'On balance, therefore, and given all the factors set out above, Ofcom concluded that the broadcaster's right to freedom of expression including the freedom to receive and impart information and ideas without interference, in the circumstances of this particular case, outweighed Mr and Mrs Darwin's expectation of privacy.'

The watchdog has also cleared the BBC for broadcasting a Comic Relief sketch in which Rowan Atkinson parodied the Archbishop of Canterbury. The six-minute sketch attracted almost five hundred complaints to Ofcom, as well as more than two thousand two hundred to the BBC itself. All, presumably, from people with nothing better to do with their time. Viewers complained that the scene, which was shown in March, broke rules about offensive language, and discrimination and offence against religious beliefs. In the guise of the Archbishop, Atkinson’s joked comparing One Direction to Jesus's disciples, saying prayer 'doesn't work' and advising viewers that Jesus said 'love your neighbours’, but not 'shag your neighbours.' Atkinson's own brother, Rodney, was among the critics, saying: 'My main problem was the smuttiness . The use of the word "shag" was crude and rather pathetic. The performance could be seen as insulting to Christians as a whole. I was appalled by it.' The BBC - displaying its usual collective backbone of jelly - caved in to the complaints, quickly issuing an apology and removing the sketch from its iPlayer catch-up service. However, Ofcom has announced that the pre-watershed sketch was 'not in breach' of the Broadcasting Code. It went into no details about how it reached the decision.
'Don't mention the war' became 'don't mention the phone-hacking' at Murdoch Towers last week, as the organisation rebranded itself as News UK and gave a splendidly po-faced display of the time-honoured arts of 'selective omission and vagueness.' Something billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch is a past master at, as anyone who saw his performance before the Leveson inquiry, will recall. The closest the company came to putting a name to its shame and ignominy were references in the press release to 'the problems of the recent past' and 'victims' of various activities left unspecified. Writing to MPs, News UK boss Mike Darcey kept things fuzzy too, saying 'we have gone out of our way to identify what went wrong' without managing to spit out exactly what it was that they identified. Would News UK spin doctor Guto Harri have allowed an interviewee to get away with that in his days as a BBC political hack? Probably not.

And, still on the subject of billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch and his grubby spawn, Richard Caseby, one of the most senior executives at the Sun, is understood to be leaving after more than two decades working at Murdoch's UK newspaper operations. The departure of Caseby, the managing editor of the Sun, comes just over a week after the tabloid's editor, Dominic Mohan, was shunted into a new role. The outspoken, and at times combative, Caseby was a key member of the team assigned to work on Murdoch's response to the Leveson inquiry into press standards and ethics. Dear blog readers may recall Caseby's risible attempts to weasel out of the company's liabilities when news emerged that Scum of the World journalists may not have actually deleted Milly Dowler's phone messages - whilst quietly ignoring the fact that no one, not even News International itself, was denying that they had listened to them. Caseby, attempted to claim that the broadsheet's 'false accusation' that a Scum of the World reporter deleted voicemails from Milly Dowler's phone had been 'directly responsible' for the closure of the Sunday newspaper. All of which sounded then and still sounds to this blogger like a thoroughly mendacious and sick attempt by News International to weasel out of their wrongdoing. A spokeswoman for News UK, the new name for News International, would not comment on Caseby's departure, but also did not move to deny it. 'Any announcements about senior appointments are communicated formally to the relevant staff,' said the spokeswoman. Caseby was appointed managing editor of the Sun in 2011, however he subsequently relinquished the role for almost a year to work on the publishing company's Leveson response, with David Dinsmore taking on his responsibilities during that process. Dinsmore was appointed the new editor of the Sun, to replace Mohan, late last month. Caseby's departure follows the completion of the splitting of Murdoch's News Corporation into two separate companies. Monday is the first day of trading of the shares in Twenty First Century FOX, the business which houses his film and TV assets including stake in BSkyB and FOX News, and the publishing assets which have retained the News Corporation name. News Corporation will include assets such as the Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times in the UK as well as the Wall Street Journal and book publishing operation HarperCollins. Caseby was a Sunday Times man for most of his career, having spent a total of twenty two years working on the title. Billionaire tyrant Murdoch shut the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World in July 2011 in shame and ignominy in response to the phone-hacking scandal which was engulfing his UK operation.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton says Pirelli must act now after 'dangerous' tyre failures in the British Grand Prix. Four drivers suffered dramatic blow-outs during the race at Silverstone on Sunday, with Hamilton's happening after seven laps when he was leading. 'It needs to be done straight away, it's obviously an issue,' said Hamilton, who recovered to finish fourth as team-mate Nico Rosberg won the race. 'It was the first time in my career I've ever felt it was dangerous.' He added: 'After my incident I was definitely nervous for the rest of the race that the tyres might go again. Safety is the biggest issue. It's just unacceptable really. It's only when someone gets hurt that someone will do something about it. It's a waste of time talking to the FIA and if they don't do anything that says a lot about them.' As well as Hamilton's incident, which left him last before he fought back to claim fourth place, Ferrari's Felipe Massa suffered a similar blow-out when running fifth, as did Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne. Late on in the race, McLaren's Sergio Perez suffered his second failure of the weekend, following a delamination in the final practice session. The ninth race of the 2013 season, the German Grand Prix, takes place next weekend at the Nurburgring. Mercedes did a three-day test with Pirelli after the Spanish Grand Prix in May. They were given a reprimand by the sport's governing body, the FIA, as well as being banned from next month's young driver test as punishment. Hamilton, who, along with Rosberg, carried out the test, said Pirelli needed to use the information gained to improve the tyres. 'We had that tyre test to develop and improve the tyre and after that test they didn't do anything about it,' Hamilton added. When asked whether he would race on the tyres on the high-speed Spa Francorchamps track, which hosts August's Belgian Grand Prix, he replied: 'I'm a racing driver so I do what I'm asked to do.' McLaren's Jenson Button agreed with Hamilton that the incidents put the drivers' lives at risk. 'We've had five tyres over the last few days, it's a big issue and something that needs to be sorted out,' said Button. '[Incidents] happening at three hundred kilmoetres per hour, like for Checo [Sergio Perez], is not right. It's not just dangerous for the driver in the car, it's dangerous for all the other cars. The cars behind [shouldn't] get hit by rubber that has metal in it. It's got to change. I don't think anything needs to be said. We all know the situation.' BBC's F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson went to turn four, close to where two of the blow-outs occurred, and found that the ridge of them was 'razor sharp.' Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery said: 'We are taking the situation very seriously and we are currently investigating all tyres to determine the cause as soon as possible, ahead of the next grand prix in Germany. We can't really say much more until we have fully investigated and analysed all of these incidents, which is our top priority. However, we can exclude that the new bonding process, which we introduced at this race, is at cause for the tyre failures we have seen here. There might be some aspect to this circuit that impacts specifically on the latest version of our 2013 specification tyres but we do not want to speculate. We will now put together all the evidence to find out what happened and take appropriate steps should these be required.' Pirelli has been summoned to a meeting of the sporting working group on Wednesday to discuss the problem, but McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh said that a solution to the problem could not wait until then. Whitmarsh and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner both suggested reverting to the specification of tyres used last year in time for next weekend's German Grand Prix. Whitmarsh added: 'The fact is F1 tracks often have debris and the product has to be tolerant to that. Pirelli have been good technical partners to F1 and we have to support them through this but we have to do something. F1 couldn't possibly not respond to the events of this weekend. We've been lucky no-one has been hurt.' Horner said: 'Fernando Alonso, make no mistake about it, is a very lucky boy today to be going home. I think the FIA will get involved now because they can't afford not to.' FIA race director Charlie Whiting, who admitted he considered stopping the race, said he had not experienced such a problem before. 'I can't remember anything like this,' said Whiting. 'Four catastrophic failures is a first. It was quite close to being red-flagged.' Although there were four high-profile blow-outs, there were actually a total of six failures in the race. Hamilton, Massa, Vergne and Perez all suffered left-rear failures. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who finished second, said his right rear failed at the final corner before he made his first pit stop. And Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez suffered a failure of his left-front tyre. Vergne's problem led to the safety car being introduced to enable marshals to clear tyre debris from the track.

The thirteen hundred-year-old Lindisfarne Gospels have gone on display in the North-East of England for three months. The major Durham University exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see them outside the British Library in London. An e-book version of the manuscript with 'zoomable' digital pictures has been produced by the library. Head of history and classics Doctor Scot McKendrick said it 'extends the reach and accessibility' of the Gospels and hoped it would be 'very inspiring. It's one of the great frustrations of exhibiting books - we all know there is lots more wonder beyond that one opening that you see,' he said. The exhibition will also display the jewelled cross, travelling altar and sapphire ring found in St Cuthbert's coffin with loans from other collections including The Viking Raiders' Stone and items from the Staffordshire Hoard. Durham University book history professor Richard Gameson, said: 'All things that are worth doing take a lot of time and effort and this has certainly taken a lot of time and effort but, equally, it's certainly been worth it. It's now, of course, an unstoppable train.' The three-month programme of events will feature exhibitions, performances, concerts, pilgrimages and retreats. Programme director Keith Bartlett said: 'What we wanted to do was make it more than just a book in a box in Durham. It's about the whole story of the making and it's meaning.' The manuscript, created by Eadfrith, Bishop of Lindisfarne in honour of St Cuthbert, was last in the region in the year 2000 and there has been a long-running campaign to keep them permanently. Durham University vice-chancellor Chris Higgins said the exhibition's legacy would last long after the Gospels' return to London. 'We now have the best facilities, world class facilities, in Durham for exhibiting anything, not just the Lindisfarne Gospels, so we could bring in all sorts of things like the Dead Sea Scrolls for example,' he said.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's yer actual Brenda Holloway her very self.

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