Tuesday, August 13, 2013

If They're Shooting At You, You Must Be Doing Something Right

Just in case you decided to hibernate yesterday, dear blog reader, be advised there there was but one news item worthy of the name on Monday. An inspired and devastating spell of fast bowling from Stuart Broad catapulted England to a seventy four-run win over Australia in the fourth Test and sealed victory in the latest Ashes series. Chasing two hundred and ninety nine runs for victory, Australia were well-placed on one hundred and sixty eight for two midway through the evening session but then lost their next eight wickets for fifty six runs in a little under two hours as they collapsed to two hundred and twenty four all out. It was the much under-appreciated Tim Bresnan who initially turned the tide when he had Aussie opener David Warner caught behind for seventy one to a perfect away swinger. Broad then followed this up with an apocalyptic burst of six wickets for twenty runs in just forty five balls to finish with eleven wickets in the match. A breathless and barely believable evening session, in which nine wickets fell, ended in fading light at twenty-to-eight when Broad had Peter Siddle caught at mid-off by Jimmy Anderson to put England three-nil up in the series with one match to play. Amazingly, less than two hours before the final wicket fell, it appeared far more likely that Australia would be heading to The Oval on 21 August with a chance of levelling the series. The tourists made the ideal start to their run chase as Warner and Chris Rogers put on one hundred and nine for the first wicket - Australia's first century opening partnership in the Ashes since Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer at The Oval in 2005. Rogers eventually fell one short of his half-century - caught by Jonathan Trott at slip off Graeme Swann - but even when the off-spinner followed that up with the wicket of a nervous-looking Usman Khawaja - LBW for twenty one - there was little sign of the carnage which was to follow. The turning point arrived when Bresnan produced a superb delivery to remove the dangerous Warner, who was drawn into pushing at a ball angled across him and got a thin edge through to Matt Prior. Sensing their opportunity, England pounced in ruthless fashion like a cheetah on a wildebeest. Broad sent the Aussie captain Michael Clarke's off stump cart-wheeling out of the ground before Steve Smith played on as he attempted a pull shot. Roared on by the packed crowd at a rocking Chester-le-Street - relishing in the glory of its first ever Ashes test - Bresnan trapped Shane Watson in front to leave Australia in disarray. Broad, bowling as quickly and aggressively as at any time in his career - or, certainly, since a similarly hostile spell ripped through the Australian top order to set up another Ashes victory, at The Oval in 2009 - then had Brad Haddin and Ryan Harris both LBW before bowling Nathan Lyon. With just one wicket needed, England were granted an extra half-hour but, with the light fading, the umpires insisted on them bowling their spinners from both ends. Six overs from Swann and Joe Root came and went before the reappearance of the setting sun from behind the clouds gave Alastair Cook the opportunity to go back to his pacemen. Six balls from James Anderson failed to deliver the breakthrough but, when Broad returned from the Lumley Castle End, it took him only three deliveries to induce a false stroke from Peter Siddle and send the crowd into raptures. Broad's match figures of eleven for one hundred and twenty one were the finest of his career and the best by any England bowler in an Ashes match since Phil Tufnell's eleven for ninety three at The Oval in 1997. Earlier, in a frantic morning session Australia took England's last five wickets for ninety six vital runs to bowl them out for three hundred and thirty, with the impressive Harris claiming seven for one hundred and seventeen. The outstanding fast bowler, whose omission from the first Test is beginning to look like a glaring oversight by the Aussies, bowled centurion Ian Bell - who ended with a stylish one hundred and thirteen - and Prior with successive balls and ended a brief and lively cameo of thirteen from Broad with a brutal bouncer that the England paceman could only glove to gully. Bresnan, who made a terrific hard-hitting forty five, and Swann (an equally important thirty not out) fought back with a crucial attacking partnership of forty two and, by the time that Anderson was the last man out, England had pushed their lead from an overnight two hundred and four to within two runs of three hundred. Even then, for long periods of the day it looked as if Australia could pull off a famous chase with something to spare. But when Broad and Bresnan found their stride in the evening session, England were simply irresistible. Writing in the Gruniad Morning Star, the former England and Somerset spinner - and, these days, the best cricket journalist on the planet - Vic Marks noted: 'Just before the mid-afternoon drinks interval the TV cameras panned to Andy Flower down on the boundary edge, talking earnestly to England's twelfth man, Chris Woakes. Now he may have been chatting about Birmingham City's one-nil triumph over Yeovil Town on Saturday but probably not. Australia were racing along; they would be eighty without loss after twenty overs when Woakes went out with the drinks. The match was slipping away and soon Woakes, wearing the preposterous yellow bibs that the ICC insist upon, could be seen out on the field talking to England's vice-captain, Matt Prior, during the break in play. This was more than enough to prompt Shane Warne to tweet; it does not take much. He said: "Eng [sic] coach now sending messages out to Cook. Is it the Under tens?" No doubt Warne was right. Messages were probably being relayed. However, the "Under Tens" jibe was a little tricky to understand. It is well known that Warne has paid little attention to what coaches have to say. He felt no need of them because he could trust his own instincts. But surely any sensible captain with a problem on his hands should be open to the observations of expert witnesses looking on from beyond the boundary. It would be juvenile to reject that sort of advice.'

Of course, the Australian press were - at this point - busy eating their own young. 'The collapse that saw Australia tumble from nought for one hundred and nine to all out two hundred and twenty four, losing by seventy four, was oh-so-predictable given what has been on display for much of this largely disappointing series,' Malcolm Conn wrote in the Courier Mail. 'Australia has used eight batsmen in this series and only three of them have managed to average thirty, Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers and David Warner, although a couple of the bowlers have managed better than most batsmen. 'It is a poor reflection on Australian cricket that just the captain, a left field selection who will be thirty six this month and a miscreant who missed a month through suspension should have the only passable figures.' Clarke's men have now the distinction of completing a losing Ashes streak matched only by the struggling Australia teams of 1953 to 1956 in the post-War era. The manner of the capitulation, losing nine wickets in a single session after having pushed to within one hundred and fifty two runs of a rousing victory, left Clarke shattered and cricket writers crying shame. 'No-one does shameful collapses quite like Australia and Michael Clarke's side conjured up one to remember, or rather to forget, at Durham to hand the Ashes series to England,' Wayne Smith wrote in The Australian. 'Not since it was beaten in 1953, 1955 and 1956 has Australia lost three Ashes series in succession but rarely, with so much on the line and with victory so clearly in sight, has a team succumbed so meekly.' While most papers were damning of Australia's hapless batsmen, some praise - mostly through gritted teeth - was reserved for the feats of Broad. 'When England won the first Test match a month ago, the perceived weakness in their bowling was its over-dependence on James Anderson. Since then, Anderson has taken just seven wickets at fifty two apiece, but England have won the series comfortably. Their bowling strength has been deep and, well, broad. Stuart Broad is no doubt looking forward to coming to Australia this year, and we can only wish him a safe tour. Australian crowds will enjoy having him. Antagonistic he may be, obnoxious even, stretching the laws to their limits, but the last thing the nation will unanimously vote for is to have Broad banned. Much will be said about the psychological and technical failings of the Australian batsmen under pressure, but this was a day to admire their conqueror,' Malcolm Knox wrote in the Newcastle Herald. 'Dumb Broad, Lord Broad, Broad the Fraud ... the banners are being painted, and this young man with incongruously narrow shoulders will have to take a lot. But he seems the type who enjoys a stoush. He will arrive in Australia as a credible and, when needed, formidable force.'

Coach Darren Lehmann has criticised Australia's faltering batsmen and said that their careers are on the line after losing the Ashes. Asked if careers were in jeopardy, Lehmann said: 'Yep, there's nothing wrong with that. The blokes have to learn. If they don't, we'll find blokes that will.' Lehmann replaced Mickey Arthur just sixteen days before the Ashes series got under way, but he has failed to engineer a turnaround in the side's form following the four-nil Test series defeat in India earlier this year. Australia lost the first two Tests of this series at Trent Bridge and Lord's respectively but had a chance of reducing the deficit in Durham. Chris Rogers and David Warner put on a century opening partnership in their second innings to give them hope of reaching the two hundred and ninety nine victory target. But Usman Khawaja, Michael Clarke, Steven Smith, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin mustered just fifty runs between them as Australia capitulated like so much wet cradboard. England now hold an unassailable three-nil lead heading to the fifth and final test. Australia's misfiring batting line-up has only passed three hundred once in eight innings during the Ashes series. Watson, Khawaja, Smith, Ed Cowan and Phil Hughes have all struggled for runs during the series and Lehmann appears to be losing patience with the whole bloody lot of them. 'To play for Australia, you've got to perform at a level that is acceptable for everyone in our team and also for the Australian public and the media,' he said. 'At the moment, we're not doing that, so blokes have got to perform at a level we expect. We've lost clumps of wickets which have really hurt us. Blokes are missing straight ones, that doesn't help. We have to learn from our mistakes. We didn't learn from probably Trent Bridge when we got bowled out in similar circumstances, so, from our point of view, the blokes have got to learn.' Lehmann said he had been 'confident of victory' at Chester-le-Street following a great start to Australia's second innings but said that some of the shot selection of his players had been 'poor. That really hurts, that one,' he said. '[England] bowled well, we batted really badly in the middle order, lower order. I thought Warner got a good ball to be fair, Clarke got a ripper and Rogers probably got a decent ball. The rest should have played a lot straighter and they know that.'

England's dramatic victory in the fourth test boosted Channel Five's ratings on Monday night. The broadcaster pulled in an audience of 1.05 million at 7pm for its highlights of the rip-roaring rollercoaster of a day. A further one hundred and twenty thousand punters watched the coverage of C5+1. Long Lost Family ended its current series with over 4.5 million overnight viewers. The ITV show dropped nearly half-a-million viewers from the previous week, but still topped the ratings outside of soaps with 4.66m at 9pm. Earlier, Food, Facts & Fiction was watched by 3.45m at 8pm. On BBC1, Fight Back Britain failed to interest 2.76m at 8.30pm. A repeat of Death In Paradise brought in 2.99m at 9pm. BBC2's Wild Cameramen at Work appealed to 1.25m at 7.30pm, followed by University Challenge with 2.52m at 8pm. Raymond Blanc's How To Cook Well was seen by 1.58m at 8.30pm. On Channel Four, the new series Benefits Britain 1949 attracted 1.95m at 9pm, while Gordon Ramsay's US series Hotel Hell opened with 1.14m at 10pm.

BT Sport's coverage of top British football has got off to a disastrous start with nearly twice as many people attending one of its early showpiece Scottish encounters than watching it on the BT Sport channel. The early season encounter between Glasgow Rangers and Brechin City is the first time BT has shown a live game featuring the Scottish footballing giant. However, an average of just twenty four thousand punters watched the Scottish League One encounter, dwarfed by the near forty five thousand who actually attended the game at Ibrox. The fifteen minute peak viewing was thirty six thousand, according to to BARB figures. The match, on 10 August, marked the first Scottish football match to feature a heavyweight team to be screened by BT Sport, as part of its coverage of Scottish football, which includes thirty Scottish Premier League games. BT claimed that it was 'very pleased' with the viewing figures given that BT Sport is less than two weeks old. BT also pointed to 'comparative figures' for matches screened by rival BSkyB in the past. 'Sky Sports allegedly have five times our audience yet they only attracted twice as many viewers to similar Rangers games last season, as well as some top tier classes from the Scottish Premier League,' said a, rather desperate, spokesman for BT. 'That is despite them being around for many years. That simple comparison shows how well we are doing.' Earlier this week, BT revealed that more than one million households have signed up to the new sports channel offered by BT in its first three months, although the majority are existing broadband customers who are taking the service for free.

The conservative academic, theologian and, seemingly, odious scumbag filth Adrian Hilton was recruited to write, effectively, a 'hate piece' of character assassination by those lovely people at the Daily Scum Mail lambasting Stephen Fry's recent call for the relocating of the Winter Olympics away from Sochi in Russia. Because of the country’s recently enacted anti-gay legislation. Yer man Stephen immediately hit back, as only Stephen can when he's been slighted by numskull neo-fascist lice, accusing the Scum Mail editor - the odious, risible, right-wing snake - Paul Dacre of being a 'frothing autocrat.' And much, much more besides. Stephen had previously written an open letter on his blog to the Prime Minister, calling for Britain to push for the games to be held elsewhere after Russia passed laws cracking down on 'gay propaganda.' Would've probably been better if he'd bought a stamp and made it a closed letter but, never mind that now. Too late for such discombobulation and kerfufflement. Stephen accused the Russian President, the notorious butcher of Grosny and slaphead, Vladimir Putin, of 'making scapegoats' of gay people, just as Hitler did with Jews (and, indeed, with homosexuals for that matter). Cameron later rejected the call - not that he was ever likely to have agreed to it - saying that whilst he understood and empathised with the points Stephen had to make, he personally favoured British athletes attending the games. 'I believe we can better challenge prejudice as we attend, rather than boycotting the Winter Olympics,' he said. Fair enough. But not, seemingly, for the Scum Mail. The horrible Quisling Hilton wrote: 'I don't want to dwell on Fry's association of the 2014 Sochi winter games with the 1936 Olympiad in Berlin: the systematic incineration of six million Jews in industrial ovens bears no comparison with the marginalisation and repression of minorities in Putin's Russia.' I think Stephen, a Jew himself several of whose family died in Auschwitz, is well aware of the lessons of history, Quisling. The vile and wretched Hilton went on to accuse the comedian, writer, broadcaster and actor of 'grandstanding', branding his call for a boycott: 'A haughty and detached gesture which harms the innocent and penalises Russia’s outstanding sportsmen and women who will be deprived of their chance to inspire the very generation which might sweep Putin and his thugs from power.' It was, of course, none of those thing or anything even remotely like it - rather, it was a call for compassion by a man who felt deeply about the subject. But The Quisling Hilton wittered on and on with his thoroughly sick agenda obvious for all the world to see, accusing Stephen of 'hypocrisy' for making no effort to condemn British association with Russian artistic projects in the ballet and theatre. Stephen, in reply, embarked on a demolition job of his own. He likened the odious, risible worm Dacre's politics to the pre-war appeasement of Hitler and also compared him to Mussolini. He then rounded on the scum paper’s scummy right-wing scum values, accusing the Scum Mail of holding 'historically reactionary principles', or - more likely - no values at all. 'The Mail still can't quite live with the shame that it has always, always been historically wrong about everything – from Picasso to equal pay for women. It has always been against progress, the liberalising of attitudes, modern art and strangers (whether by race, gender or sexuality). Deep down they have always had the same instinct for the lowest, most mean-spirited, hypocritical, spiteful and philistine elements of our island nation.' Do you ever get that point in reading something where you just want to stand up and applaud the author, dear blog reader? Stephen then reminded readers of the Scum Mail‘s infamous backing for Hitler in the 1930s. This blogger's father fought at Dunkirk, dear blog reader. He was was twenty one and he was incredibly brave in a way that this blogger knows he, himself, could never be. I'm sure my father didn't think of it in quite those terms in 1940, but the reason that he was fighting against a sick, thuggish, evil regime whom the Daily Scum Mail had spent the previous decade brown-tongue arse-licking and openly admiring in print, was to be part of a world where intolerance and bigotry were a thing of the past. How dare the Daily Scum Mail criticise anyone for anything whilst they still haven't lived down the shame and the ignominy of their loudly spoken admiration for Hitler and Oswald Mosley? Something they never will live down whilst there are people alive who remember it even if they publish their odious hate-filled rag for another thousand years. How fucking dare they? Stephen then delivered a personal swingeing attack on the odious, risible louse Dacre: 'Dacre is an absolutely foul-mouthed boss, who constantly screams the c word at just about anyone. He would have read my open letter to David Cameron and yelled that "that c**t Fry needs another f**king dressing f**king down" – just the kind of language that his paper would prissily decry of course, there's the glory in the vile bastard's hypocrisy. [Dacre] sends his son to Eton, but mocks me for being posh. He bullies, swears and shrieks, but presents his paper as having the values and standards of a misty Midsomer Britain. He decries indecency on one page and pushes his male readers into a semi over a semi-nude actress on another. His cancer scare, miracle cure stories are sickeningly anti-science and the only good thing to be said about his Mail is that no one decent or educated believes in it.' Stephen concluded: 'Dacre is, all those who have had the misfortune to work for him assure me, just about as loathsome, self-regarding, morally putrid, vengeful and disgusting a man as it possible to be. His power is absolute. Cross him either in private or public and you will be assassinated by his sycophantic squad of columnist minions, all of them infected with his brand of repulsive hypocritical and gleeful spite, ready to vomit out a screed against the BBC or any other institution they hate. He absolutely despises me and thinks I stand for everything that is wrong about Britain and I think exactly the same of him.' Sadly, of course, one imagines that reading this - if he can, actually, read - the odious, risible, loathsome louse and coward Dacre won't be offended or annoyed by it in the slightest. Rather, he'll be delighted that he's drawn an angry response from someone whom he, clearly, takes great pleasure in baiting. And, that's the real tragedy of this, dear blog reader. One can easily imagine the odious, risible snake Dacre standing,puffing out his chest in front of his mirror, preening himself like a peacock, with a big sick smirk on his pudgy, sour face at how really very clever he is to get Stephen Fry to even notice him. That's the Daily Scum Mail all over, dear blog reader. They're very anti-Internet trolling, they claim, and yet, in the real world, they do nothing but troll themselves every single day and then retreat to a safe distance to watch the trouble they've cause fester and bust. Horrible, dreadful, deceitful, mean scum.

Tuesday evening's ITV factual programme On the Run - which is presented by Natasha Kaplinski and Mark Williams-Thomas - has, apparently, been pulled from the schedules at the last moment for, as yet unexplained, reasons. It was replaced by an episode of The Secret Life of Dogs. Whether it has anything to do with this website article which appeared on Tuesday morning is, also, unknown. And this blogger has no intention on speculating on the reason for the postponement of this programme until ITV make a definitive statement on the matter.

Newsnight presenter yer actual Jezza Paxman says that he 'may keep' his new beard, after its debut caused 'a storm' on Twitter. That's Gruniad Morning Star hyperbole for 'six or eight people with no lives talking about something on the Internet' just in case you were wondering. Minutes after Monday night's programme started on BBC2, the phrase 'Paxman beard' had become 'a trending topic' - as though that actually means sod all - on the social networking site. 'I have grown a beard for the last few summers, and suddenly wondered whether I really needed to shave it off,' said Paxo when asked about the reaction. 'I may keep it or I may shave it off, but I think I'll make my own decision.' Among those to comment on the presenter's chin-fluff was the crime writer Ian Rankin, who commented: 'It is 1973 and I'm really digging the new album by Paxman's Beard.' 'I like Paxman's beard,' added the - alleged - comedian Jenny Eclair. 'Looks like he might ride a Harley come the weekend.' 'I hope Paxman's Beard is the episode of Newsnight where Jeremy meets the evil Jeremy from the parallel universe,' said Rob Manuel, editor of the - allegedly 'influential' (it says here) Internet newsletter B3ta. Paxman's new appearance came almost a year after he noted on air that the 'beard quotient seems to be down' at the Liberal Democrats' autumn conference. BBC Radio 5Live presenter Shelagh Fogarty noted that the - alleged - 'furore' over Paxman proved 'it isn't just women's appearance that people obsess about.' Oh no, people on Twitter can obsess about all sorts of trivia, crap and nonsense, Shelagh, you'd be surprised. Paxman has worked for Newsnight since 1990. He is also known for hosting University Challenge. The sixty three-year-old had been on holiday before Monday's programme - and his new look laid down the gauntlet to the programme's other presenters. 'Right that's it,' tweeted his colleague, the witless Emily Maitlis. 'I'm working on a moustache.' If only wishing made it so. But BBC Breakfast's Bill Turnbull lamented: 'Curses! Shaved mine off two days ago.' Paxman himself admitted that BBC presenters rarely sport facial hair. 'Unless you're lucky enough to be Uncle Albert on Only Fools and Horses, Demis Roussos or Abu Hamza, the BBC is generally as pogonophobic as the late-lamented Albanian dictator, Enver Hoxha,' he said.

The BBC has denied tabloid claims that it 'wasted' one hundred and fifty thousand smackers on a show in Thailand after an episode was apparently scrapped. Some arsehole of no importance at that well-known media organ to truth and accurate reportage, the Sun, reported the crew for the BBC3 show Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents spent ten days 'partying' in Phuket at the licence fee payer's expense. It claimed that a gap was left in the filming schedule after one of the participants of the undercover show pulled out at the last minute. The BBC said there was 'no truth' whatsoever to the newspaper's claims. What, you mean the Sun published lies? Well, this blogger is shocked by the very suggestion. The BBC3 programme - which has been broadcast since 2011 - follows groups of young people on their first holiday abroad alone, unaware that their parents have secretly travelled to the same destination to spy on them. Yes, to be honest, it is every bit as bad as that description makes it sound and, if you've never seen it, count yourself bloody lucky. Commissioned by the BBC, the programme is made by an independent production company RDF which also uses its own crew - and, presumably, pays all costs itself. The BBC said that in this instance two sets of friends had been due to travel to Thailand in June to take part in the show, however one pulled out due to 'personal reasons.' Filming continued with the other group of friends as planned by the TV crew - who had flown out ahead to set up the production - while a new group was recast. 'No episodes of Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents have been axed in this series and therefore there is no truth to the claim that we have had to write-off one hundred and fifty thousand pounds,' a joint BBC and RDF TV statement said. 'Production schedules were amended due to a change of contributors but the production team continued to work and film other material for the series.' The BBC added that it was untrue to say there was a ten-day break in filming, or it was it an 'all-expenses-paid jaunt.' It said that all scheduling and budget arrangements on location were decided by RDF - whose crew were allocated five days off during the thirty four-day shoot - and all leisure expenses were paid by the crew themselves. 'As with all productions, staff work very long hours, with the right to some time off,' the statement continued. 'RDF followed all BBC guidelines whilst filming the series and it will deliver in full, and for the original BBC programme budget.'

Yer actual Matt Smith has been given what is claimed to be 'an extra-special makeover' by the children's toy makers Hasbro. Hasbro and BBC Worldwide have created a Doctor Who Mister Potato Head based around the image of Smith's Doctor. Although, to be honest, it looks far more like Monkey from the PG Tips advert rather than Smudger his very self. The 'one-of-a-kind collectible', which was unveiled at Comic-Con, has 'eight removable parts and pieces.' New Doctor Who potatoes will be announced later this year. Seriously, I'm not making this up. 'We are excited to be working with BBC Worldwide and Hasbro this year on such an exciting property,' said Dean Gorby, business manager for PPW Toys. Who used 'excited' and 'exciting' in the same sentence, did you notice that? 'Fans of Doctor Who have such a strong connection with the show and will be delighted to see the extraordinary transformation of Mister Potato Head as he personifies these iconic characters.,' he claimed. Personally, this blogger knows a lot of Doctor Who fans and I don't think many of them are that gullible, but I could be wrong. It has been known. Occasionally. Doctor Who Mister Potato Head products will be available at speciality retailers and e-tailers in Europe, the US and Australia. If you've got more money than sense.
The Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry has said that she 'hates' chef Gordon Ramsay's foul-mouthed television programmes and condemned TV more widely as 'violent, cruel and noisy.' She said that her BBC2 baking show, which started in 2010, had been a success because it was 'wholesome entertainment' for all the family. Berry said: 'The Great British Bake Off is family entertainment. There aren't many programmes where all ages can sit and watch from beginning to end. Everything else is violent, cruel and noisy. We're educational without viewers realising it. I hate Gordon Ramsay's programmes: I don't know if he's been told it makes good television.' The seventy eight-year-old served up praise for odious Jamie Oliver in the interview with the Radio Times, but said it had taken time to warm to him. The Great British Bake Off returns to BBC2 on 20 August, when a fresh batch of amateur bakers will put their soufflés to the test in the show's fourth series. Berry and her judging partner, Paul Hollywood, are the stars of an unlikely hit: last year's series finale had nearly seven million viewers. But fans should not expect to see Berry swapping the kitchen for the BBC1 ballroom any time soon. 'I'm a show-off, but only with things I do well,' she said. 'I won't do Strictly or any of those ghastly reality programmes. I'm A Celebrity ... would be the end. It makes me shudder.' Berry, who has published seventy cookery books, said her programme also benefited from a lack of artifice. 'We're immensely honest,' she said. 'Normally producers say it would be better television to have a mix of men and women in the finals, or someone from Scotland, but there's none of that.' Bake Off's success is perhaps all the more of a surprise when compared with the reception for Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads' Food Glorious Food, a risible rival cookery competition which - very satisfyingly - launched on ITV in February with fewer than three million viewers – Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef of Crossroads' lowest-rating launch ever. Hollywood told the magazine: 'I can't understand why Bake Off is so successful. The music is one reason, and the fact we're in a tent, which is like a circus. People gravitate to it. Nostalgia is key – it reminds viewers of what they had as a kid. And baking is approachable. If you have a good set of digital scales and follow the recipe, it will work. Even international rugby players make fairy cakes.' Hollywood's domestic life has come under intense media scrutiny as a result of his new found fame: he recently left his wife of fifteen years amid rumours of a relationship with his American baking competition co-star, celebrity chef Marcela Valladolid. The Merseyside-born Hollywood, who started his career at his father's bakery in Cheshire, denied that fame had taken its toll on his private life, but did talk about the effect of the public gaze on his separation. 'I didn't think Bake Off would be like this, although you have to be an egomaniac to do it,' he said. 'Anyone who says they're not is kidding themselves. You couldn't put yourself in front of a camera otherwise. I thought I'd spend my life making baguettes, muffins, croissants. I might have been happier if I had. One day I'll disappear and hide in a corner of Britain. I'll own a bakery in a village, live above it, have a big garden because I like mowing. I want to get up when I feel like it, let people queue for my products and when they're gone, shut the shop and think about tomorrow. Creating magic – that's my dream. And I'll do it.'

Breaking Bad has scored its highest audience yet in the US, as the show's final run begins. A total of 5.9 million viewers tuned in to cable channel AMC on Sunday night, doubling the audience of the opening episode of the last series. Only zombie drama The Walking Dead has proved a bigger hit for the channel, pulling in 8.1 million fans earlier this year. Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston as a chemistry teacher turned meth dealer. Its audience has grown steadily through word of mouth, DVD sales and critical acclaim. The first series averaged 1.2 million viewers, while the most recent series was seen by around two-and-a-half million. The gritty drama regularly kills off key players and charts the moral tailspin of Cranston's character, Walter White. It has won five EMMYs since it débuted in 2008, and is up for a further eight prizes at this year's ceremony on 22 September. After Sunday night's première, only seven episodes remain. UK viewers are able to catch up with the show on iTunes or web-streaming service Netflix just hours after the programme premières in the US.

A man using the British Library's wi-fi network was denied access to an online version of Shakespeare's Hamlet because the text contained 'violent content.' Author Mark Forsyth was writing his book in the library, and needed to check a line from the play. The British Library claimed that the fault was caused by a newly installed wi-fi service from a third-party provider. One security expert said that the incident highlighted the 'dysfunction' of Internet filters. Forsyth revealed on his blog that the filter had logged his attempt to access the page. A spokesperson for the British Library said Hamlet had since been 'made accessible. The upgraded service has a web filter to ensure that inappropriate content cannot be viewed on-site,' he added. 'We've received feedback from a number of users about sites which were blocked, but shouldn't have been. We're in the process of tweaking the service to unblock these sites.' Internet filters have recently come under increased scrutiny, after the government announced that pornography will be automatically blocked by UK Internet providers, unless customers choose otherwise. Digital rights activists raised concerns about the move, fearing that the lists of 'banned' sites could be expanded to include pages which should be publicly available. Professor Ross Anderson, a 'security expert' - whatever the hell one of those is - at Cambridge University, told the BBC that Internet filters were 'pointless' and that it was 'completely inappropriate' to have one in the British Library. He added: 'Everything that is legal should be available over the library's wi-fi network. The only things they should block are the few dozen books against which there are court judgements in the UK. One of the functions of deposit libraries is to keep everything, including smut.'

Skygazers have seen the high point of the annual Perseid meteor shower. The shower, which reached its peak on Monday night, occurs when the Earth passes through a stream of dusty debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet. As this cometary 'grit' strikes the atmosphere, it burns up, creating spectacular streaks of light across the night sky. The meteors appear to come from a point called a 'radiant' in the Constellation of Perseus - hence the name Perseid. The tiny fragments of ice and dust - they range in size from a grain of sand to around as big as a pea - hit the Earth's atmosphere at some sixty kilometres per hour. As many as sixty to one hundred streaks an hour may be visible at the height of the display. Skywatchers were advised to lie on a blanket or a reclining chair to get the best view. Comet Swift-Tuttle came relatively close to Earth in 1992, which made for an especially dramatic show. Since then, the display has calmed down. The comet is not due to come as close to the Earth again until the middle of the next decade. Astronomer and science writer Doctor David Whitehouse said the spectacle was breathtaking. He said: 'The light from a shooting star is like no other type of light in the sky. It's not starlight, it's not moonlight, it's not sunlight. It has a ghostly sliver and a sleeting brilliance all of its own.'
Some horribly sad news to finish today's update. Jon Brookes, the drummer with The Charlatans, has died aged forty four. He had suffered a seizure on tour with the band in 2010 and had been receiving treatment for a brain tumour. Jon had undergone several operations, but had still been working on new material with the band over the summer. He died in hospital on Tuesday morning with his family at his bedside. Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess tweeted: 'Jon Brookes, my friend, our drummer and inspiration to so many, passed away this morning. We are torn apart. Love and thoughts to Jon's family.' He also thanked 'everyone for their messages and memories of Jon. So much love on such a sad day.' A further statement from the band read: 'Jon was a brilliant drummer, an inspiration, a founding member of The Charlatans, part of our family and a friend to everyone in and around the band. Losing someone who was always so full of life is a tragedy that will be shared by so many. Our thoughts are with Debbie and all of Jon's family.' Jon was diagnosed with a tumour after collapsing during a Charlatans gig in Philadelphia in 2010. He briefly stopped breathing and was helped by a doctor attending the show, before being taken to hospital for emergency treatment. The rest of their American tour was cancelled as Jon was flown to the UK for treatment. Speaking afterwards he described how he 'saw lights' in the corner of his eyes before collapsing at the concert and said he was at the 'start of the long road of treatment for cancer' but was 'feeling fit and positive.' In July this year the band revealed that Jon had undergone further surgery for the tumour. They said he had recovered well from the operation but would remain in hospital for additional treatment. Jon, from Burntwood in Staffordshire, was a founding member of the band which formed in the West Midlands in 1989. The band have had over twenty UK top forty hits.

Therefore, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, this one's for Jon.

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