Monday, August 26, 2013

I Can't Go Back There

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has suggested that Lord Of The Rings film-maker Peter Jackson has, sort of, agreed to direct an episode of Doctor Who. Sometime. Maybe. Although a date and a location for such a scenario remains, somewhat, in the air. However, Deadline reports that Jackson has 'no immediate plans' to guest direct any episodes, especially given that he's a bit busy, you know, directing multi-billion dollar Hobbit movies at present. Moffat told an audience at the Edinburgh International Television Festival that all Jackson had asked for in return was to have his own Dalek - and that the episode could be set in his native New Zealand. 'He's serious about it. We talked at The Hobbit premiere — he just wants a Dalek,' the Sun quoted The Moffinator his very self as saying. 'So we'll give him a Dalek and he'll direct an episode. I think he'd like to us to go to New Zealand. I think it's entirely possible.' Moffat was also asked about the rumours that JK Rowling was writing an episode of Doctor Who. He said: 'I can't confirm that ... right now.'
Moffat also used the interview - with Frank Skinner - to describe yer actual Billie Piper as 'amazing.' The showrunner praised Piper for her role in relaunching the show in 2005, adding that the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama 'belonged to her' for the first two series of the revived format. Moffat was addressing the reason why Piper's character, Rose Tyler, has continued to appear on the show since her departure in 2006. He explained: 'Probably because when the show first came back I think it was Billie Piper who brought it back. Those first two years, that was Billie Piper's show. It was all about Billie, and Billie as Rose. Russell was so clever in creating that character and casting that character so perfectly.' Piper appeared as the companion to Christopher Eccleston's and David Tennant's Doctors. '[Russell] allowed an audience who would not naturally have watched Doctor Who, which was practically everybody at the time, to find a way into the show, so she has an iconic status partly because it was a brilliant performance and a brilliantly written part but it was also the way back in. She has a bigger status than most of those companions and really seriously, for the first two years, that was Billie Piper's show and she was amazing. Let's not forget how amazing she was,' Moffat added. Piper left the popular family SF drama in the second series finale Doomsday though she returned two years later for a number of episodes in series four. She also made a one-off appearance in Tennant's final episode The End Of Time: Part Two in 2010 and will return again to the show alongside Tennant for this year's fiftieth anniversary special.

Yer actual Christopher Eccleston has commented on his 'love' for Doctor Who. The actor - who played The Doctor for one series in 2005 - sent a special message to the British Film Institute event celebrating the programme's fiftieth anniversary. The BFI screened two episodes from Eccleston's run as the Time Lord as part of its Doctor Who at Fifty season. Eccleston - who could not attend the event during to filming commitments - praised the director Joe Ahearne and joked about potential future one hundredth anniversary celebrations. He said: 'I love the BFI. I love The Doctor and hope you enjoy this presentation. Joe Ahearne directed five of the thirteen episodes of the first series. He understood the tone the show needed completely - strong, bold, pacy visuals coupled with wit, warmth and a twinkle in the performances, missus. If Joe agrees to direct the one hundredth anniversary special, I will bring my sonic and a stair-lift and - providing The Daleks don't bring theirs - I, the Ninth Doctor, vow to save the universe and all you apes in it.' In April, the BBC denied Internet rumours that Eccleston had pulled out of the upcoming fiftieth anniversary episode, stating that whilst there had been some, tentative discussions, he had never actually signed up to take part in the episode. An official 'source' said: 'Chris met with Steven Moffat a couple of times to talk about Steven's plans for the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary episode. After careful thought, Chris decided not to be in the episode. He wishes the team all the best.' Eccleston is currently filming new ITV drama Lucan, in which he plays the gambling club host and animal park owner John Aspinall.

Meanwhile, Funny Things That You Find On The Internet When You're Not Really Concentrating. Number one (in a series of several million. Probably):-
Yeah. Moderately amusing, in a sort of wryly whinging way. But, do not overdo it. Remember, dear blog reader -
Odious, wretched arse-gravy horrorshow (and drag) I Love My Country climbed slightly in its overnight ratings to a - still thoroughly risible - 2.88m on Saturday. The - horrible, nasty and bad - BBC1 show, which was broadcast from 7pm, was up one hundred thousand sad, crushed victims of society from the previous week's episode. Meanwhile, the BBC's other great Saturday night light entertainment disaster That Puppet Game Show fell to 1.9m at 6.30pm, down one hundred and thirty thousand punters week-on-week. The National Lottery: Break The Safe scored four million at 7.45pm, while Casualty was watched by 4.30m at 8.45pm and Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow pulled in 2.95m at 9.30pm. Match Of The Day followed with 3.42m at 10.30pm. ITV showed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to 4.28m at 7pm. The latest episode of The Americans was seen by 1.09m at 9.50pm. On BBC2, Proms Extra picked up an audience of seven hundred and ten thousand punters from 7pm. Dad's Army had 1.37m at 7.45pm and Thatcher: The Downing Street Years interested eight hundred and twenty thousand at 8.15pm. America's Stoned Kids was watched by nine hundred and thirty thousand viewers from 9.15pm, after which Qi XL had 1.13m at 10.15pm. Movie double bill Mission: Impossible 2 and The A-Team took nine hundred and fifty thousand and 1.07m respectively from 7pm on Channel Four. Elsewhere, two episodes of NCIS appealed to five hundred and eighty six thousand and nine hundred and twenty eight thousand from 8pm on Channel Five, whilst the latest episode of Celebrity Big Brother interested 1.49m at 10pm. Ford Saturday Night Football Live was the highest rated broadcast on the multichannels, picking up 1.06m on Sky Sports 1 at 5pm. Lewis was second with nine hundred and eighty nine thousand at 9pm on ITV3.
Vera helped give ITV a ratings win on Sunday night, according to overnight figures. Brenda Blethyn's returning crime drama was watched by 4.55 million at 8pm. Earlier, the final Tipping Point of the series failed to entertain but 2.77m at 7pm. On BBC1, David Threlfall's new drama What Remains was seen by 4.48m at 8pm. Countryfile dipped to 4.33m at 7pm, followed by Antiques Roadshow with 4.17m at 8pm. BBC2's Dragons' Den continued with 2.21m at 8pm, while The Hairy Bikers' Restoration Road Trip appealed to 1.38m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Gok Wan's appearance on Deal Or No Deal was watched by eight hundred and forty thousand punter at 8pm Channel Five's Once Upon A Time continued with five hundred and twenty nine thousand at 8pm, while Celebrity Big Brother brought in 1.43m at 9pm. On Sky1, Charlie Brooker's A Touch of Cloth returned with a - very disappointing - one hundred and ninety three thousand viewers at 9pm, over three hundred thousand down on last year's opening episode.

To be frank, A Touch of Cloth 2 was a bit of a disappointment all round, certainly when compared to the first two-part story last year. It did, however, include some genuinely funny moments including possibly the most outrageous 'spurt a mouthful of drink at the TV screen' one-liner on telly this year so far; the always excellent Anna Chancellor's deliciously naughty mayoral candidate Hope Goodgirl asking Suranne Jones's Oldman 'do you like it up-front or would you prefer us to lie side-by-side and rub our fannies together like two pieces of shammy leather?' as they shared a dinner full of positively filthy lesbian innuendo. And, let's face it, dear blog reader, one simply can't get too much of that on TV.
England's cricketers were denied a probable victory over Australia in the fifth test at The Oval - and the chance to make Ashes history and complete one of the most impressive and unlikely run chases in living memory - when the umpires, somewhat predictably, chose to take the sides off for bad light with the game mere minutes away from a thrilling climax. Which made quite a number of people who'd invested time and effort into watching four days of, well, tedium before hand - yer actual Keith Telly Topping among them - really jolly cross indeed. Ooo, fair discombobulated and full of strop so we all were.
The home side, looking to turn their three-nil series win into a four-nil success over the Australians, required twenty one runs from four overs (twenty four balls) when Aleem Dar and Kumar Dharmasena produced the dreaded light meters and signalled the end of proceedings like a pair of mean-spirited park keepers telling a bunch of young boys playing with jumpers for goalposts to get off the grass. In doing so, the officials followed ICC procedure to the letter but to deny a full house at The Oval (not to mention millions watching at home on TV) a natural conclusion to an unforgettable day of test cricket just felt sick and wrong. It felt, in fact, like a sport fatally hamstrung by its own laws. That certainly seemed to be the view of the incandescent supporters, who roundly and angrily booed the decision - an ill-fitting and bad-tempered end to a triumphant series win for Alastair Cook's side. That England were within touching distance of the winning line was only made possible in the first place by a perfect storm of events, including a gambler's declaration by Australia's captain Michael Clarke and a wonderful knock of sixty two in fifty five balls from a bombastic, hard-hitting Kevin Pietersen. Clarke's second declaration of the match - at tea - with Australia on one hundred and eleven for six in their second innings, left England a tempting, but improbable, two hundred and twenty seven to win in forty four overs after tea, a run rate of more five per over. England began positively and ticked along nicely early in the innings but really gained serious momentum when Pietersen joined Jonathan Trott at the crease, thrashing ten boundaries and bringing a vocal crowd to the boil. Trott also impressed with a fluent fifty nine, chipping singles and threes to gives Pietersen the majority of the strike. After both had gone, along with Ian Bell, at the climax the incoming Matt Prior and débutant Chris Woakes required less than a run a ball before being ordered from the pitch by those pesky umpires. By that point Clarke had long since given up on the adventurous spirit which had got everyone to this point, constantly eating up time and whinging (like a girl) to the umpires about the - admittedly poor but, by no means dangerous - light. For that reason he was, like the umpires, roundly booed by hostile home supporters during the closing ceremonies, something which some commentators seems to take umbrage at but which, frankly, was the absolute right of those who had paid their money and been robbed of a proper conclusion. England were doing their best to give the opposite impression, but the decision to go off for light no longer rests with the batting side. Had things been allowed to play out to the end, England were strong favourites to have claimed a four-nil home Ashes win for the first time ever and also give Clarke the dubious honour of being only the third captain - after Sir Garfield Sobers and Graeme Smith - to lose a test having declared twice. Australia had just taken their fifth wicket with England on two hundred and six, Mitchell Starc producing a remarkable stop and throw to dismiss man-of-the-series Ian Bell and, crucially, give the umpires a two minute window to check on the light. Amid the frustration, it should not be overlooked that the draw leaves Australia without a win in an Ashes series for the first time since 1977. The day had started with a knockabout end-of-term feeling, England in much more playful mood than they had been on day three, when they eked out their runs at little more than two an over. Resuming their first innings on two hundred and forty seven for four, they added one hundred and thirty runs in 28.4 overs to move the game along, having it would seem, expected Clarke to try something desperate later in the day. Prior (playing his best innings of the series) and Graeme Swann enjoyed the freedom most, scoring a combined eighty one in eighty one balls before James Faulkner dismissed both on his way to four wickets on his test debut. England's three hundred and seventy seven left Australia one hundred and fifteen runs ahead and the tourists then put together a rather frantic and, at times, comical second innings of one hundred and eleven for six before declaring at tea. Part of the policy was a rejigged batting order which saw the opener, the hero of Durham, Chris Rogers jettisoned entirely. Quick runs and regular wickets were the order of the afternoon session, Stuart Broad pocketing four scalps and Clarke reaching a punchy twenty eight not out. England's unlikely chase started encouragingly, Alastair Cook bagging a pair of boundaries off Ryan Harris' first over, and Joe Root sending his fourth ball from Starc to the ropes. Root's adventure got the better of him in the fifth over, following a wide half-volley and nicking Harris behind. Brad Haddin was on hand and gathered his twenty ninth catch of the series - passing Rodney Marsh to claim a record for Ashes series. Trott came to the crease with impressive intent, helping Cook to nudge the score along to forty three at the ten over mark and sixty one after fifteen. Ten runs from Nathan Lyon's fifth over and twelve off Faulkner's first gave the fans cause for hope, but Cook's - a shade disappointing - series with the bat ended when the latter had him LBW for thirty four. The crowd welcomed Pietersen to the crease with a full-throated roar, his unique abilities clearly well-suited to such circumstances. Pietersen was palpably in the mood for crash-bang-wallop. His fourth ball disappeared to the boundary and his seventh, also bowled by Faulkner, followed it. A booming drive off Starc raced to the ropes and seemed a sign of his intent. Four more boundaries off Starc's next two overs confirmed it. The belief in the stands was rising with every stroke of Pietersen's massive bat. Such was his dominance that his fifty partnership with Trott contained just seven runs from the number three, while Pietersen's half-century occupied just thirty six deliveries, only one less than Graham Yallop's record for an Ashes series in 1981 and one more than England's previous record, held by his team-mate Prior from 2009. England managed to survive Pietersen's dismissal - holing out off David Warner off Harris for sixty two - but they could not get the better of the conditions or the umpires. The Oval crowd, who had been treated to an incredible final day in which a record four hundred and forty seven runs were scored and seventeen wickets fell, furiously booed in disapproval before gathering, in somewhat better temper, to watch England captain Cook lift the Ashes urn. England, who have now won three Ashes series in a row for the first time since 1981 (and four out of the last five), celebrated with a lap of honour while fireworks blazed over the pavilion. Cook said: 'It would have been nice to finish with a win but the rules and regulations are there for a reason. The umpires have strict guidelines and, if it was day three, we would have gone off.' This was not a view shared at the BBC's cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew who was frothing with rage on Test Match Special: 'The way the fifth and final Ashes test finished on Sunday evening leaves one both speechless and angry. For the bad-light regulations to force the umpires to take the players off the field with England needing just twenty one runs off twenty four balls for the victory, in front of a full house at The Oval, with millions watching and listening at home on the edge of their seats, is an absolute disgrace. There are many of us who have talked to people at the ICC about this. We have told them what was likely to transpire. I'm not trying to be clever about it; I wasn't the only one. But we knew that this was an embarrassment waiting to happen. It is totally appalling that they can put regulations like this together without fully thinking through the likely consequences. Sometimes cricket can shoot itself in the foot. Put simply, cricket must be played whenever it is remotely possible. If it is not, something has gone badly wrong.' His colleague, Geoffrey Boycott, was in equally incandescent mood: 'The rules are wrong, there was nothing wrong with the rules before where the umpires offered the light to the batsmen. The umpires are hamstrung by a bad rule. The spectators are left with an anti-climax.' The crowd subsequently jeered both the umpires and Clarke during the post-match presentation before warmly applauding Cook's triumphant team as they jogged around the floodlit outfield with flags draped around their shoulders. The victory margin was their biggest in the Ashes since Mike Brearley's side won five-one in 1978-79 and their best at home since their three-nil win in 1977 - the last time Australia failed to win a single match against their fiercest rivals. The result also means England move above India into second place in the ICC Test rankings behind South Africa, while Australia drop below Pakistan into fifth.
Meanwhile, England's ladies took control of the Women's Ashes after beating Australia by five wickets in the third one-day international at Hove. In a rain-shortened match, Danielle Hazell took two wickets as England restricted Australia to two hundred and three for four in thirty six overs. England took control once Heather Knight (sixty nine) and Sarah Taylor (sixty four) posted brisk half-centuries. Natalie Sciver and Jenny Gunn saw England home with sixteen balls to spare. Charlotte Edwards's side, who also won the second ODI, were awarded two points for the win, meaning they go six-four in front in the multi-format series ahead of three Twenty/20 internationals which also carry two points each for a win. It means they still need two victories to be sure of winning the urn back from Australia, who won the solitary test down under in 2011, but England have all the momentum following their last two victories. Classy knocks from Knight and Taylor carried England to a fairly comfortable victory at Hove, with the pair putting on one hundred and twenty six runs for the second wicket. They gradually accelerated their innings, with Knight hitting four boundaries in her sixty five-ball knock and Taylor also going at more than a run a ball. Both were dismissed in quick succession, but stubborn middle-order batting from Lydia Greenway (eighteen) and Arran Brindle (eleven) helped England edge towards victory before twenty one-year-old Sciver (eighteen not out) and Gunn finished the job. Earlier, Meg Lanning's sixty four laid the foundation's for Australia's total, with Ellyse Perry (forty five) and Alex Blackwell (thirty five) hitting some late boundaries to push the score above two hundred - Anya Shrubsole and Holly Colvin taking a wicket apiece to go with Hazell's picking up two. So, it was a thoroughly rotten day all round for Australia. What a shame, eh?

Yer actual Test Match Special, the BBC's long-running and much loved ball-by-ball cricket coverage has seen some top quality guests from the world of entertainment on its View From The Boundary slot (or, indeed, during - not infrequent - rain breaks) over the course of the summer's Ashes series. Joining the likes of Damien Lewis, Andy Parsons, Michael Palin, Adam Hills and Michael McIntyre who've all appeared in recent weeks, the last few days have also seen appearances by Paul Merton (a lengthy slot during Saturday's washout), Stephen Fry and broadcasting legend Annie Nightingale chatting to Aggers, Blowers, Tuffers, Michael Vaughan .. ers, et cetera.

Umpiring aid Snicko could be used in this winter's Ashes series between England and hosts Australia in an effort to get shot of some of the diabolical umpiring decisions which have blighted the recently concluded series. International Cricket Council chief executive Dave Richardson says that the use of Snicko - which detects edges using sound - will be considered following 'problems with technology' this summer. There have been calls for thermal-imaging system Hot Spot to be scrapped entirely. 'Snicko will probably be the first bit of technology introduced - it's always been reliable,' said Richardson. Snicko uses sound from stump microphones to help detect if a batsman has edged the ball. The technology has not been available to third umpires this summer because there is too much of a delay in synchronising television pictures with the sound provided by the microphones, but a new 'real-time Snicko' is currently being tested. 'Without getting too technical it's quite an involved process to make sure the sound gets to you at the same time [as the TV pictures] and is synchronised perfectly with where the ball is,' Richardson told BBC Radio 5Live's Sportsweek programme. There have been a number of high-profile umpiring mistakes which have not been corrected despite using the Decision Review System - where teams can refer decisions made on the field to the third umpire - during this summer's Ashes. Following the first test at Trent Bridge, the ICC had to admit that Jonathan Trott should not have been given out LBW after getting an inside edge to a ball. Trott was initially given not out by the on-field umpire, but was dismissed by third umpire, Marais Erasmus, when Australia used DRS, because a key Hot Spot camera angle was not available to the South African. Later in the same match, England's Stuart Broad edged to first slip, via a deflection off the wicket-keeper, but he was given not out by Aleem Dar and the decision stood because Australia had used up both of their allotted reviews. Richardson is keen for a review of DRS, but pointed out that technology has enabled the umpires to get more decisions right than if they did not have access to it. 'What we need to do now is to take stock, review the statistics,' said Richardson. 'Looking back over the five Tests this summer, without DRS we would have had a correct decision rate of about ninety one per cent, which is lower than we would have liked and lower than the average, but with DRS we ended up with the correct decisions up around ninety seven per cent. I don't think a one hundred per cent success rate is achievable because technology can sometimes fail and the umpires, even with technology, might make a mistake where judgement is concerned.' Real-time Snicko is expected to be the first piece of new technology implemented, possibly alongside Hot Spot. 'The good thing with Hot Spot is that when there is a mark we know there is an edge,' said Richardson. 'Sometimes it doesn't pick up the faint edges, we know that. It's going to help get us to ninety seven per cent but not one hundred per cent at the moment. There are meetings coming up in September and they could have the authority to sanction Snicko's use.'

And now ...
Hands up, dear blog reader, who else didn't realise that this Monday was a Bank Holiday Monday and chose that day to be the very day he cycled to a local shop which shuts on a Bank Holiday Monday? Just yer actual Keith Telly Topping, then? That figures.

In the Edinburgh session The Worst TV I've Ever Made And Everything It Taught Me, four producers gamely fessed up to their biggest horror stories. Jonathan Stadlen accepted responsibility for developing Sky's controversial reality show There's Something About Miriam, which only made it on-air after lawsuits had been launched by the six male contestants after they discovered that they had been unwittingly wooing a pre-operative transsexual woman were settled for 'an undisclosed sum. It was developed as an interesting show about sexuality,' Stadlen recalled ruefully. 'It ended up as "ha-ha look at them!"'

One of the undoubted highlights of the Edinburgh International Television Festival was a panel session on how terrible programmes actually get made. Frank Skinner hosted a special edition of Room 101, during which Tim Hincks, chairman of Big Brother producer Endemol UK, revealed his hatred of unsolicited ideas from members of the public, because 'we're quite capable of fucking up TV' without any civilian help. The infamous scene in I'm Alan Partridge in which Alan desperately pitches ideas for a new TV show - and suggests Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank, Cooking in Prison and most famously, Monkey Tennis - seems almost tame in comparison with some of the real programme ideas which, it was revealed, have been mooted. One executive admitted they had considered a pitch to distinguished newsreader Sir Trevor McDonald to do a programme called Trevor McDonald's Slave Ship, a sort of reality show recreating a slave voyage. A pilot for an erotic reality show called Double Entry was said to have 'ended in pornographic disaster.' The executive behind ITV's notorious byword for a crass z-list celebrity-based fiasco Celebrity Wrestling admitted that it was 'a disaster' but pointed out it was up against Doctor Who (the irony there being that, at the time, most Doctor Who fans thought the BBC's long-running family SF drama, only recently revived, would get absolutely killed by ITV's crass reality format featuring Big Brother winner Kate Lawler The Brawler). However, Sky's Beat The Crusher from the 1990s easily won the audience vote for worst programme ever. The mix of Freddie Starr randomly destroying precious objects owned by audience members, getting toddlers to assault their parents with custard pies and then crushing a couple's car had the cruelty, incomprehensibility and all round awfulness of a truly terrible programme. However, in their defence, the executives and programme makers revealed it was not just the professionals that occasionally fall short when it comes to programme ideas. Hincks read out a hilarious list of suggestions from the public. There included: Is My Baby Too High-Tech?, another a show in which a couple travel the world without their feet touching the floor and a panel show about the cost and effectiveness of ventilation systems had all been pitched. As were 'Countdown but just the maths bit', The Lions' Lair – 'like Dragons' Den but nastier' with Mark Lamarr, Sean Lock and Frankie Boyle tearing into inventors and Convivial Pursuits, in which a panel discusses the day's events – dressed in Victorian garb. All, thankfully, rejected.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self is rather indebted to his good friend Debbsie Williams for a comment on the above item: 'Convivial Pursuits sounds rather fun.' To which yer actual Keith Telly Topping could, but reply: 'A bit pointless, though. It's just Have I Got News For You but with everyone dressed like Mr Kingdom Brunel.' Mind you, yer man Clarkson would probably watch that.

Freshly appointed BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore's introduction to the EITF got off to a sure-footed start, but her Saturday night quiz fiasco I Love My Country came out of her Meet the Controller session with slightly less credit. The show was widely slaughtered by critics and a tweet by the Daily Mirra's Ian Hyland – about wanting to emigrate after seeing it – was shown on a giant screen. But up popped showbiz agent Jonathan Shalit, who mounted a spirited defence of the appalling disaster. 'By the way, there were some great reviews as well,' he lied (if there have been, this blogger certainly hasn't seen any), loyally adding 'it will work given time.' Which, hopefully, it won't get. In entirely unrelated news, Jamelia, who fronted the show's house band, is represented by Shalit's Roar Global. Odd that.

Former The Scum defender-turned-TV-pundit yer actual Gary Neville described his Sky Sports début as 'one of the most nerve-racking experiences of my life – along with my driving test.' But, it appears that Neville's pre-telly jitters were shared by his colleagues. Ed Chamberlain, the anchor of Neville's Monday Night Football, admitted in Edinburgh that he thought the show would be 'a disaster.' All was forgiven, however, and Neville took the opportunity to stick the boot into Chamberlain in return. 'He once asked me what the dressing rooms are like at Fulham. I'm not an interior designer,' he claimed indignantly.

Russell Tovey has admitted that his sexuality still comes up when being cast in straight roles. The openly gay actor, who is best known for The History Boys, Being Human and Him & Her, told the Gruniad Morning Star that 'questions are still asked' about whether audiences can 'accept' gay actors in straight roles. He said: 'I've found out over the years that the conversation about casting me has come up: would it affect the show and the audience if I'm a gay man playing a straight character? These conversations are being had still.' However, Tovey insisted that most television viewers 'don't give a fuck about your private life or know who you are.' The thirty one-year-old rose to prominence in archetypal 'bloke' roles, but said that he is 'keen' to play a gay character in future. He added: 'I really want to do it properly, with something that is clever and moving everything forward rather than covering old ground. Not someone who's gay and miserable, dying of AIDs, secluded, a bit weird. I want to play someone who's normal and just happens to be gay.'

BBC director general Tony Hall has said he will light a 'bonfire of the boards' at the corporation in an attempt to cut bureaucracy and stimulate creativity. He vowed to tackle the BBC's 'meeting culture', which 'hampers creativity.' Writing in the Sunday Torygraph, Lord Hall pledged to 'halve' the number of pan-BBC boards and steering groups. He wrote: 'This "bonfire of the boards" should speed up decision-making and release some of the resources currently wasted on bureaucracy for programmes.' He added: 'A simpler BBC should mean a more creative BBC.' In his five months as director general, Lord Hall has faced the fallout from the Jimmy Savile fiasco, criticism over the size of management pay-offs and the collapse of the BBC's one hundred million quid Digital Media Initiative IT project. In his article, he said the BBC had 'a lot to learn' from companies such as Google and Apple, which he visited on a recent trip to the US. 'To launch an initiative, one of our colleagues at Google had to speak to two people,' he wrote. 'To get agreement to do the BBC's first e-book, someone at the BBC had to speak to more than two dozen.' He hailed Silicon Valley's 'fail fast culture,' which meant it was 'much better to kill off what had seemed like a good idea, and be upfront about it, than to work on, hoping it might come good. At the BBC, we wasted nearly one hundred million pounds on a computer project because no-one was prepared to call time on a failed idea,' he wrote. The BBC must be 'much clearer' on how decisions are made and who is accountable for them, he added. 'We often spend far too long agonising over decisions that other organisations have learnt [sic] to make much more efficiently.' In evidence to The Pollard Review of the Savile fiasco, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten described the corporation's management culture as 'dysfunctional' and 'chaotic.' Lord Hall also said that he wanted to see more women on screen and in senior roles. The appointment of Mishal Husain to Radio 4's Today programme was 'a good start,' he wrote. The director general also pledged to recruit more people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

Alistair Brownlee gained revenge on brother Jonny with victory in the World Triathlon Series race in Stockholm. The Olympic champion lost to his younger brother in Hamburg but won in Sweden after moving clear of the rest of the field on the bike stage. He finished fourteen seconds ahead of Spain's Javier Gomez with Jonny Brownlee in third a further twenty three seconds back. The British pair top the standings ahead of next month's Grand Final, with Alistair leading by fifty five points. Sunday's win was the fifteenth World Triathlon Series victory of his career and ensures an exciting finale in Hyde Park over the Olympic course on Sunday 15 September. Just one hundred and twenty points separate the older Brownlee brother from Olympic silver medallist Gomez in third, with twelve hundred on offer to the Grand Final winner. It means that if Gomez was to win in London, Alistair Brownlee could finish second and still take the title. But if Jonny Brownlee is victorious, he will prevail overall, regardless of where Alistair finishes. Both Brownlee brothers were in the leading group after the opening swim in Stockholm and were still well in contention as they started the ten-lap bike phase. A group of eight fought it out until just under two laps to go when Alistair surprisingly broke away. He had moved five seconds clear with a lap to go before extending that to twenty one seconds before the run. He comfortably maintained his advantage on the final leg of the race to finish in one hour forty three minutes and thirteen seconds. 'It has been a year of injuries and disaster and not really wanting to turn up, but it is all about winning when I am not having a good day, and finding finding ways to do that,' he said. 'I was going better than I thought. I've had a good last two weeks and now I have another three weeks before London so I can be pretty fit, but Javier is pretty fit as well so it should be a great race. I will try my best and that is all you can ask.' Behind him, Jonny and Gomez battled it out together for second and third on the run but the Spaniard was the stronger and kicked away with just over a lap to go. The younger Brownlee had no complaints with his third place. 'That was a really hard race,' he admitted. 'I knew before it would be tough but it was a fair race and they beat me fair and square.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a bit of quality R Dean Taylor.

1 comment:

Mark said...

I Love My Country aka 'Pro Celebrity Pub Quiz' or 'Weren't The Olympics Good?' That, the rubbish Puppet show (which gets a repeat the following day just after 11pm - why?)another dud Lotto quiz hosted by half man/half cheese Nick Knowles and the now perpetually dire 'all men are scum' soap opera Casualty (how far the mighty have fallen) means that BBC Saturday nights have reached an all time low this summer. I wouldn't mind but the other channels offer nowt too. I've spent the past two Saturdays shouting at Maggie Thatcher on 2, thanks to that repeat documentary.