Sunday, August 18, 2013

Week Thirty Five: Electricity Starts To Flow

A TV interview with the late William Hartnell dating from 1967 has been unearthed and will feature on the forthcoming DVD release of Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet. The news broke over the weekend following the BBFC's classification of extras, which included the interview with Hartnell among them. The Doctor Who Restoration Team's lovely Steve Roberts confirmed that this was an in-vision interview and stated that it was fellow team member Richard Bignell who had discovered it. The interview was conducted by Roger Mills for Points West - the BBC's South West regional evening news show - and was held in the dressing room of the Gaumont Theatre in Taunton, where Hartnell was appearing in the panto Puss In Boots (oh, yes he was) less than three months after departing Doctor Who. The interview was broadcast on Tuesday 17 January 1967. The extra runs for three minutes and sixteen seconds and Bignell detailed the discovery of what is now the only known on-screen interview with Hartnell to exist: 'A few years ago, I was doing research into the article I was preparing for issue three of Nothing at the End of the Lane on Hartnell's rather disastrous performance as Buskin, The Fairy Cobbler in the pantomime Puss In Boots, which toured around four different venues in December 1966 and January 1967, just three months after he had completed work on The Tenth Planet. Whilst doing some work at the BBC Written Archive Centre, I checked the respective Programme-as-Broadcast sheets for the period, looking specifically at the local BBC news programmes to see if Hartnell's appearance in panto was deemed worthy of a television report. He was in fact interviewed twice. Once in the first week of the tour in Ipswich (shown on Look East on 27 December 1966) and again during the final week in Taunton for Points West, shown on 17 January 1967. As I'd built up some contacts in the BBC's regional news libraries working on the DVDs, I dropped the respective archives a line to see if there was any chance the two interviews survived. The first interview for Look East had long gone, but the ladies in the Bristol News Library very quickly got back to me to say that the interview done in Taunton still survived. We arranged for the footage to be sent over to London, where it was duly transferred. It shows Hartnell in his dressing room doing his make-up for one of his performances, with his "Doctor's ring" on the table and a Berwick Dalek play-suit stuffed in the corner. Hartnell speaks about his problems acting against The Daleks and how pantomime isn't "legitimate" theatre!' Steve also revealed that David Bradley was shown the footage as part of his preparation for playing the role of Hartnell in the upcoming BBC2 drama An Adventure In Space And Time. The Region 2 Tenth Planet DVD will be released on Monday 18 November and is available to pre-order.

Oh, and just to note that the one and only Rich Johnston at the Bleeding Persistent website is still trying to push a variant of the, already somewhat discredited, 'loads of missing Doctor Who episodes have been found in Africa' malarkey. Despite the fact that they, you know, haven't. Someone else has explained it far better than this blogger can ...
Yeah. That.

Meanwhile, dear blog reader, we haven't had nearly enough pornography on From The North of late. It's clearly time to put that right. So, here's a Bugatti Veyron. Phwoar.
Well, that's yer actual Keith Telly Topping nursing a semi after such a glorious sight. And, if that doesn't rock your world, dear blog reader, then here's a Rickenbacker 360 twelve-string.
Frankly, if that little beauty doesn't give you The Horn, dear blog reader, then I'd be speaking to your doctor if I were you.

Now, yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch has a message for the world, it would seem.
Benny further cemented his image as the thinking person's celebrity pin-up after telling paparazzi on the set of Sherlock that they should turn their attention to the civil war in Egypt rather than trying to snap photographs of filming the popular detective drama. Top man, Benny. Bundled up in a hooded coat and sunglasses, the actor held up a sign saying 'Go photograph Egypt and show the world something important.' Benny and co-stars, including Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington, were on set in Cardiff shooting the final episode of series three, which is expected to be broadcast on BBC1 around the end of the year.
That Puppet Game Show continued with but 2.03m viewers on Saturday, overnight data suggests. The BBC's latest early Saturday evening disaster, which was broadcast from 6.45pm, was down three hundred and forty thousand punters from last week's opening episode. They were the sensible ones. The rest will learn, given time. Meanwhile, the appallingly dreadful and wretched I Love My Country also, very annoyingly, actually gained a few viewers from last week with 2.77m at 7.15pm. Kind of destroys one's faith in the general public, does it not? The worst, however, was over at that point as The National Lottery: Break the Safe scored 3.97m at 8pm, while good old reliably Casualty was watched by 4.51m at 8.45pm and Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow pulled in 3.21m at 9.45pm. The first episode of the new season of Match Of The Day rounded out a - reasonably satisfying - primetime for the Beeb with 3.84m at 10.30pm. ITV showed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to 4.04m at 7pm. The latest episode of The Americans was seen by nine hundred and twenty thousand punters at 9.50pm. On BBC2, Proms Extra from 7pm, was watched by seven hundred thousand viewers. Dad's Army had 1.19m at 7.45pm and the opening episode of the four-part Thatcher: The Downing Street Years interested eight hundred and twenty thousand at 8.15pm. The final episode of the drama Top Of The Lake rallied to 1.19m viewers from 9.15pm, up over three hundred thousand on the previous week, after which Qi: XL had nine hundred and fifty thousand at 10.15pm. Come Dine With Me pulled in an audience of seven hundred and eighty thousand at 6.15pm on Channel Four. The movie double bill Mission: Impossible and Knight and Day then took seven hundred and ten thousand and 1.46m respectively from 7pm. Two episodes of NCIS were watched by six hundred and sixty eight thousand seven hundred and fifty one thousand viewers respectively on Channel Five. Big Brother could only manage nine hundred and eighty three thousand. Ford Saturday Night Football Live was the highest rated broadcast on the multi-channels, picking up 1.70m on Sky Sports 1 at 5pm. Foyle's War was second with nine hundred and ten thousand at 7pm on ITV3.
Billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper division could be facing corporate charges in relation to the Metropolitan police's phone-hacking investigation, it has been claimed in a report in the Independent. This alleges that two 'very senior figures' at News International, now renamed News UK, 'have been interviewed' in relation to the corporate aspect of the investigation, which is also examining allegations of bribery of public officials. If this is true - and there is no reason to doubt the veracity of the Indi's claims other than, you know, a general and significant distrust of every single sodding thing a newspaper tells us, about anything - then this blogger would laugh and laugh and laugh. Until he stopped, dear blog reader. And, then, he would laugh some more. It will also, if true, put a massive scowl on the wrinkled old mush of billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch - whom no one is scared of any more. And that would, also, be pure dead brilliant, so it would. The allegations, according to a hilariously 'yes!" we've got the fekker' piece in the Gruniad Morning Star, 'indicate that a new line of inquiry is opening into the Murdoch empire, which has potentially serious consequences for News UK, which owns the Sun and The Times.' In an apparent attempt at damage limitation following the scandal, News Corp was separated from News UK. Such an inquiry would mirror events in America, where the department of justice and the FBI are investigating Murdoch's parent company, News Corp, under the Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act, which can impose severe penalties on companies which bribe foreign officials. The Labour MP Chris Bryant, one of the most vocal critics of News International when phone-hacking was uncovered, said that the Met had told him they were 'actively investigating corporate charges and that they were in correspondence with the American authorities, the FBI.' Bryant said the law in the UK was now 'as tough' as in the US, due to the enactment of the Bribery Act 2010: 'Under the Bribery act, the body corporate can have charges laid against it if its corporate governance was so reckless as to be negligent.' Sue Akers, who was head of the Met investigation, confirmed to The Leveson Inquiry last year that she had 'sought legal advice' with regard to bringing 'both individual and corporate offences', sparking claims that News Corp directors could be prosecuted for 'neglect of their duties.' Now, according to the Indi, 'evidence is emerging' that the Met is 'actively pursuing the corporate aspect of the investigation.' They claim that John Turnbull, a senior News Corp lawyer, has been interviewed formally by the Met, an alleged 'source' allegedly told Reuters. More than one hundred and twenty five people have so far been arrested and more than forty charged in relation to the criminal aspect of the investigation which led to Murdoch closing the Scum of the World in disgrace and ignominy in July 2011. The Gruniad claims that alleged 'sources' allegedly suggest the Met is 'waiting until the criminal trials of individuals have concluded' before deciding if it can press corporate charges. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, the former News International chief executive, is due to stand trial along with eight others - including the Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Andy Coulson - on 9 September, whilst eight Sun journalists are scheduled to be up a'fore the beak in January over alleged unlawful and naughty payments to public officials for stories. Allegations which all of those charged, deny. The Met's detectives have benefited from an information-sharing agreement with News Corp's Management and Standards Committee, which was set up to conduct an internal investigation into the phone-hacking and bribery allegations. And, in the - widely quoted - words of one of them, to 'drain the swamp.' It has emerged that Akers sent a letter last year to Lord Grabiner, the MSC's chairman, advising him that there 'was a possibility' corporate charges could be brought against billionaire tyrant Murdoch's companies. Which, would be funny. If true. A News UK spokesman told the Gruniad: 'We have co-operated with all relevant authorities throughout the process, and our history of assistance is a matter of record.' Of course, if they hadn't then they may well be facing charges of obstruction of justice so, that point, frankly, isn't really an issue in their favour. Reuters, citing 'a source familiar with the matter', reports that the police investigation which initially concerned employees has since focused on the News Corporation's UK company.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's Adventure On Gillian continue a-pace, dear blog reader. He managed two laps on the Tour De St Anthony's circuit this morning in the wee small hours of dawn (Keith Telly Topping does it at that time because there's little traffic on the road and, therefore, less chance of him, you know, falling off and getting killed). Gillian, of course, was on epic form, as usual. The fat bloke riding her ... nah, not so much. But, it has to be said, as he rounded the corner of Monkchester Road and Wigmore Avenue and, changed gear to coast down the final hundred metres to Stately Telly Topping, yer actual Keith Telly Topping felt like Eddie Merckx - A Golden God. Cycling, it's the new rock and roll, dear blog reader. You heard it here first.
BT's deal to make its sports channels available to millions of Virgin Media TV customers for free has paid some - small - dividends, with viewing of The Clare Balding Show growing more than six-fold. Albeit, that's simply taken it from 'laughably tiny' to 'not quite so laughably tiny but still bloody small and funny as well.' The first broadcast of Balding's weekly sports magazine programme on 8 August attracted an average of but twelve hundred viewers. That's twelve hundred. You know, the sort of crowd that yer average League Two football side would regard as 'a bit of poor gate.' The show, described by BT as 'a flagship programme' for its sports channels, managed a thoroughly risible fifteen minute peak of four thousand, and even on a five-minute measurement basis only managed eight thousand. Most of whom then seem to have turned off. Balding's second episode, on Thursday night, fared better, boosted by Virgin Media's three million XL package customers getting their first night of free access to BT Sport 1, 2 and ESPN. The show, which featured Olympians Victoria Pendleton and Beth Tweddle and former England cricketer Michael Vaughan, managed an average of fourteen thousand four hundred viewers between 8pm and 9.30pm. The audience peaked at twenty six thousand, on a fifteen-minute basis. A breakdown of the viewing figures shows that of the fourteen thousand average Virgin Media households accounted for the lion's share, ten thousand five hundred punters. So, in other words, if the audience keeps a growing at this rate by about 2016 it might, just, have reached the level of 'average.' 'There was a lot of buzz around BT's channels being made available to Virgin customers for the first time last night, so there would have been a sampling going on, it will be interesting to see where it levels out,' one TV industry 'source' allegedly claimed to the Gruniad Morning Star. BT customers averaged but three thousand nine hundred of the total audience, a genuinely paltry number albeit at least marginally better than the twelve hundred from the first week's programme. 'We are delighted with launch of BT Sport – we think this is a great start,' claimed a BT spokeswoman, unconvincingly. Separately, BT said on Friday that it has signed up more than ten thousand pubs, clubs and betting shops to take its TV channels ahead of the start of the Premier League football season this weekend. 'Interest has been phenomenal and underlines the value, quality and broad appeal that we offer,' the BT Sport director commercial customers, Bruce Cuthbert claimed. 'We are particularly delighted that this includes brand new commercial customers for premium sports who have historically been unable to afford Sky's high prices.' BSkyB itself does not reveal how many pub and club customers take its Sky Sports feed, but it is thought to be tens of thousands.

And, it actually gets worse for BT. Some BT Sport customers have complained of 'problems' with the broadcaster's app for mobile devices as it aired its first live Premier League match. Hundreds tweeted about problems, some saying they saw the message: 'Sorry we are having some temporary technical issues, please try again later.' BT Sport said the issues had affected 'a minority' of customers who had tried to log in once the game had started. It said it 'responded quickly' so most customers could watch the second half. The technical problem arose during the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws versus Dirty Stoke City, the first game of the Premier League season, which kicked off at 12:45 and ended with a 1-0 victory for The Thieving Scouse Schleps. The BT Sport app runs over 3G and 4G mobile networks and wi-fi connections and is available for phone and tablet devices running Apple and Android operating systems. One Twitter user posted: 'BT sport app thanks for cutting out on the first game of the season!' Others complained the app would work only on a wi-fi connection. The official BT Sport Twitter account replied to some individual users, suggesting they log out and log back in again. It tweeted: 'Sorry, some customers have seen an intermittent issue with the BT Sport App. We are working to resolve this, apologies to everyone affected.' A BT spokeswoman said: 'Those customers who logged in before the game have experienced no issues but a minority of customers who tried to login once the game had started may have seen an intermittent issue and an error message. Our team responded quickly and were able to make a difference so most of the customers who were experiencing problems were able to enjoy the remainder of the second half.' The spokeswoman claimed that the new broadcaster had been 'following feedback closely' on social media for its first Premier League game and was 'really pleased so many customers have enjoyed the coverage.' Well, that part of the coverage that they could actually see, that is. Telecoms giant BT launched its own UK sports channels earlier this month. It has spent seven hundred and thirty eight million smackers over three years for the rights to thirty eight live Premier League matches a season, while Sky has paid £2.3bn for one hundred and sixteen matches a season. The BT channel, which is broadcasting from new studio facilities at the Olympic Park in Stratford, has taken on some big-name presenters including Jake Humphrey as well as Clare Balding. Humphrey, who previously fronted the BBC's Formula 1 coverage, was joined on the Premier League launch programme by pundits Steve McManaman and Owen Hargreaves. So, no one of any consequence, in that case.

And, finally on the subject of BT's less-than-stellar start to its sports coverage, odious, malingering, workshy waste-of-space Michael Owen has claimed that BT Sport will 'challenge Sky Sports with a Top Gear-style football show.' The former England and Liverpool striker (who also spent four years on the treatment table at yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved Magpies - on massive wages - before moving faster than he ever did in a match up here to catch the first train out of town after he'd milked the club dry and helped to take them to relegation) has claimed that the new channel's offering will be 'relaxed, innovative and interactive' - and will feature footballing demonstrations on an indoor pitch. Although quite why anyone should be interested in anything The Little Shit has to say is another question entirely. 'We involve the crowd,' Owen told Radio Times. 'It's like Top Gear where you've got a few hundred fans in and they're asking questions and you're interacting, so it's a really relaxed-feeling atmosphere and just a different sort of slant on things.' Yeah. But the difference is, Top Gear is watched by millions. Your show's likely to be watched by hundreds. If that.
Downton Abbey is, reportedly, to be sponsored by Tesco Finest for its upcoming fourth series. The supermarket chain will team up with the ITV period drama on several platforms, including TV, mobile and online. So, to sum up then, a drama written by Tory snob is being sponsored by a supermarket shopped in by snobs. Sounds about right.

And so to yer next batch of Top Telly Tips, dear blog reader:-

Saturday 24 August
Saturdays in August remain, by far, and depressingly, the worst nights for any sort of quality TV. Tonight is an object lesson in how to design a scheduling horrorshow (and drag). What with BBC1's thoroughly rotten diet of Pointless Celebrities, even more rotten That Puppet Game Show and most rotten of the lot I Love My Country and ITV's current Harry Potter fixation, your best bet, to be honest, is stick to repeats of Foyle's War and Lewis on ITV3. There is, of course, the Ashes highlights of Channel Five - 7:00. Mark Nicholas presents action from day four of the Fifth test at The Oval. With the famous urn already in the (metaphorical) bag for England, the tourists are merely playing for pride in this test, but will be keen to have the last laugh in a series which has brought little joy to the men from Down Under. Commentary and analysis from Michael Vaughan, Geoffrey Boycott and Simon Hughes. Or, there's lots of coverage of the Reading festival on BBC. And, that's it, sadly. Another scandalously rotten Saturday night in front of the box. Take my advice, dear blog reader, go out and get mortal instead.

Sunday 25 August
When a couple move into their new home to prepare for the arrival of their first baby, a leak dripping through the ceiling leads to a shocking discovery - a decomposed body in the loft of the flat above them, that's the basis for BBC1's new crime drama, What Remains - 9:00. According to Michael and Vidya's neighbours, no one has lived in the house for years and the previous occupant, Melissa, hasn't been seen for some time. Detective Inspector Len Harper sets out to make his last week before retirement count for something by investigating the case, despite a lack of support from his colleagues, and tries to uncover the secrets of those living in the building. Murder mystery, starring David Threlfall, with Russell Tovey, David Bamber, Steven Mackintosh, Indira Varma, Alexander Arnold and Claudie Blakley.

Tonight also sees the return of The Great British Bake Off - 8:00 BBC2 - the contest to determine Britain's best amateur baker. Thirteen contenders face tasks devised by judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. They must first make a sandwich cake, before having to follow Mary's basic recipe for angel food cake in the opening technical challenge. The show-stopper round involves producing a chocolate-based cake and is the final chance to avoid being the first to leave the tent. Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins present.

Also back tonight is Vera - 8:00 ITV - the crime drama starring Brenda Blethyn. Young physiotherapist Lizzie Faulkner is shot dead while enjoying a holiday at a luxury country retreat. The resulting murder investigation unearths betrayal, guilt and the desire for atonement - as Vera moves quickly to avoid another tragedy, and Joe tries to make amends with the demons of his past. With David Leon, Paul Ritter and Eva Quinn.
Monday 26 August
In Ultimate Swarms - 9:00 BBC1 - zoologist and explorer George McGavin goes in search of some of the world's most impressive swarms to find out why these natural spectacles are a solution to surviving against the odds. He discovers that unlocking the secrets of how other animals swarm could be crucial to understanding an increasingly crowded human world.

The research of Doctor Mary Schweitzer is the focus of the latest Horzion, Dinosaurs: The Hunt Of Life - 9:00 BBC2. Mary found soft tissue and red blood cells in the fossilised bones of a sixty eight-million-year-old T Rex, a breakthrough which wouldn't have looked out of place in Jurassic Park. Her work is revolutionising scientific understanding of dinosaurs and the palaeontologist believes she may also have found traces of the creatures' DNA.
Attack Of The Zeppelins - 8:00 Channel Four - is a documentary telling the story of an aerial bombing campaign on London that took place during the First World War, as Germany used airships loaded with explosives to cause destruction in the city. Engineer Hugh Hunt explores the arms race between Britain and Germany at the time and conducts experiments to demonstrate the technical challenges each had to overcome to wage war in the air.
Tuesday 27 August
Things are changing at UCOS - James Bolam's gone, Alun Armstrong's gone, soon Amanda Redman will be gone, too. Therefore, now is the crunch time where we find out whether New Tricks' loyal (and massive) audience are prepared to accept those changes or vote with their remote control. Time will tell, it usually does. The next few weeks should be interesting. The unsolved murder of pornographer Jim Hockney is reopened when his daughter Sara provides DNA proof he wasn't her father in the latest episode of the popular long-running crime drama - 9:00 BBC1. The team tries to track down jazz singer Angela Gold, who was the victim's girlfriend at the time and disappeared from the music scene after being acquitted of the crime, and it's Brian's replacement Danny Griffin (yer actual Nicholas Lyndhurst making his first appearance) who manages to find her. However, with Angela professing her innocence and Sara's mother Jane also arousing suspicion, it becomes a struggle to determine who is telling the truth. With a guest appearance by Brian Capron.

Yer actual stone cold fox, Victoria Coren Mitchell hosts a special one-off, BBC2 transfer for the popular lateral thinking quiz, Only Connect - 7:00. It's a meeting between the series one champions, The Crossworders and series four victors, The Epicureans - the only two undefeated teams in the programme's history. They compete to piece together the connections between things which, at first glance, seem utterly random. The title is, actually, rather underselling things: these teams are the sole undefeated trios in the show’s five year history, who have both previously won Champion of Champions specials. And that isn’t all. The Crossworders are led by David Stainer, whilst The Epicureans are captained by David's wife, Katie Bramall-Stainer. Ooh, there's likely to be trouble afterwards in the Stainer household whomsoever wins!
Dushane orders Dris to find the location of the Albanians who ambushed Joe, while Sully and Mike are asked to carry out a hit - but things don't go as planned in the latest episode of Top Boy - 9:00 Channel Four. Nevaeh, R'Marni and Michael go on a shoplifting spree, Vincent forces Gem to skip school and deliver a package of drugs, and Lisa is shocked to learn that developers have plans to buy every property in the street.

Wednesday 28 August
After four weeks of big hot sweaty heats, dramas, crises, tantrums, shouting, Janet Street-Porter whinging, et cetera the eight remaining contestants battle for a place in the semi-finals of Celebrity MasterChef - 8:00 BBC1. Their task, as usual, is to impress John Torode and Gregg Wallace with a show-stopping dish that demonstrates the skills they have learned so far, and the best six then progress to a tough catering challenge. Working in two teams, they must create a medieval-themed feast for one hundred members of a battle re-enactment society using ingredients such as rabbit, pike and quinces.
Nick Hewer, Alan Sugar-Sweetie's adviser on The Apprentice and the host of Countdown, tries to find out how his mother's Catholic father Oswald Jamieson managed to reach the prestigious office of High Sheriff in Protestant-dominated 1920s Belfast in the latest Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBc1. On his father's side, he researches the life of his nine times great-grandfather and discovers how his family's fortunes were shaped by the English Civil War. Narrated by Cherie Lunghi.

Denzel Washington narrates Martin Luther King And The March On Washington - 9:00 BBC2 - a documentary charting the build-up to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom to mark the event's fiftieth anniversary. The rally was one of the biggest in US history and brought together a coalition of civil rights campaigners, religious groups and trade unions, and featured Martin Luther King's famous 'I Have a Dream' speech. Featuring interviews with Harry Belafonte, Diahann Carroll, Sidney Poitier, Joan Baez and Oprah Winfrey.
Peter Powell presents an edition of Top Of The Pops from 7 September 1978 - 7:30 BBc4 - featuring performances by The Jam (still wishing they could be like David Watts), Leo Sayer, Boney M, The Motors, Dee D Jackson, Sylvester, Manhattan Transfer, Hi-Tension and The Commodores. And Hylda Baker and Arthur Mullard, just in case you get carried away with the idea that all music was brilliant in 1978. Plus, there's dance sequences by Legs & Co.

Thursday 29 August
Burgled - 9:00 Channel Four - is a Cutting Edge documentary following West Yorkshire Police in their fight against burglary in Leeds, one of Britain's worst-affected cities. The programme features interviews with victims and offenders as officers use state-of-the-art technology and innovative prevention techniques to reduce crime statistics in the area.

In Double Your House For Half The Money - 7:00 Channel Four - Sarah Beeny (she has her knockers) helps Greg and Jo Pritchard revamp their Berkshire home to take advantage of the impressive view without breaking the bank. She also visits Cheshire, where Becky and Mark Ridley want to add a large extension to their 200-year-old cottage and give the property a modern makeover while retaining much of its original charm. The only good thing to say about this format, dear blog reader is that, try as it might, it's still nowhere close to being as risible as Kirstie Allsopp Fills Your House With Crap. Nice try from The Beeny but, no cigar.
If, like your actual Keith Telly Topping, you've been hugely irritated by those endless trailers on Sky for Chickens dear blog reader then, be advised, there's an episode on Sky1 tonight at 10pm. So, there you go, that's my public service announcement for the week so that you can avoid the fekker. Because, frankly, it's about as funny as a bayonet in the dong. And, the trailer for once actually does contain all the best bits. Gives you some sort of idea of how utterly wretched the rest of it is.

Friday 30 August
God, will this awful month (in TV terms anyway) never end and we can get into September where, at least, there's the promise of some new stuff? Anyway, in The Burrowers: Animals Underground - 9:00 BBC2 - Summer arrives and all the young animals face a new challenge as they must leave their homes and learn to survive outside - will the badger cubs be independent enough to be released back into the wild? Plus, Chris Packham and his team of experts use 3D digital mapping to reveal how a rabbit warren expands and evolves over time. Last in the current series.

Miranda Hart has claimed that she 'almost became a sports star' in her youth. She ran the one hundred metres in twelve seconds and also had a trial for the Queens Park Strangers women’s football team. She should probably try out for Hapless Harry's first team, now, she's likely to get a game.
Big quiffed Mark Kermode, a man with an instantly recognisable passion for cinema and a fearlessly independent voice, is to become the chief film critic at the Observer following the retirement of Philip French. Kermode, a long-time admirer of French's writing, currently works in BBC radio and on television, as well as writing for Sight and Sound and reviewing DVD releases for the Gruniad. He is the author of several acclaimed books on film - and a particular favourite of this blogger, albeit I still think he talks bollocks on occasions. That's why I like him. Well, that and the quiff. 'I'm honoured and thrilled to be taking over as film critic for the Observer,' said Kermode. 'The paper is second to none, and writing for it has always been a privilege and a joy. When I first started working as a film critic over twenty five years ago, Philip's Observer reviews were an inspiration. No one can match his breadth of knowledge or elegance of expression, but I hope I can bring to the role the passion for cinema which Observer readers expect.' Kermode, who grew up in Finchley, began his reviewing career as a PhD student in Manchester and then worked in London on the weekly magazines Time Out and the NME. He recalls spotting French at some of those early press screenings. 'I remember the strange feeling, sitting near my heroes, thinking, "I am at the big table now." I believe, as Philip does, that there is still a place for a professional critic and I am fiercely proud to be one.' Film, Kermode said, has been the 'single overwhelming obsession of my life', although he came to it, as followers of his criticism will know, through a love of horror. 'Those films were my first love, but of course I feel you have to be open-minded to all genres of films. People always tell you that you will grow out of horror movies. Well, I am fifty now and there is no sign of that happening.'

Aggressively litigious, though. of course, lovely and fluffy and nice and sweet, cut-price airline Ryanair has launched libel action against the publishers of the Daily Scum Mail and Daily Mirra over allegations about the airline's attitude towards safety. Earlier in the week the airline said that it would 'take action' against Channel Four over a Dispatches documentary, Ryanair: Secrets From The Cockpit, and it later sacked a long-standing pilot who had appeared in the documentary. On Friday, Ryanair said that it is to expand the libel action to include Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Scum Mail, the Scum Mail on Sunday and the Scum Mail Online, and Mirra Group, publisher of the Daily Mirra and Sunday Mirra and the People. A request by the Gruniad Morning Star to Ryanair's PR agency, Edelman, to 'clarify' exactly which title, or titles, are the target of legal proceedings was rejected. 'Ryanair does not comment on pending legal cases,' said a spokeswoman. Johnsons, the law firm representing Ryanair, published a statement on Friday confirming that 'defamation proceedings' have been started at the high court in Dublin. 'Other litigation is pending', the law firm said. 'We have been instructed to vigorously prosecute these libel proceedings with a view to securing total vindication of Ryanair's industry-leading safety reputation, following the broadcast and publication of outrageous and totally unfounded allegations regarding my client's attitude toward safety,' said Paul Tweed, a senior partner at Johnsons. 'Ryanair is justifiably proud of its twenty nine-year safety record, which has been fully endorsed by the Irish Aviation Authority and other European regulators, and which has been independently verified as being 'on a par with the safest airlines in Europe'.' On Friday, Ryanair dropped its action against the Belfast Telegraph after it published a - grovelling - online apology for an article headed Are budget airlines like Ryanair putting passengers at risk?

A Sikh TV channel has been fined thirty grand over a debate in which guests appeared to support an assassination attempt on a former Indian Army General. Ofcom said that the programme on Sangat TV was 'likely to encourage or to incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder.' It followed an attack on Lieutenant General Kuldeep Singh Brar, who led an assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1984. The Birmingham-based channel may lodge an appeal against the fine. Brar, now seventy eight, commanded the controversial military operation to clear Sikh militants from the Golden Temple. According to the Indian Government's official figures, four hundred people were killed in the attack, outraging Sikhs around the world who claimed that ,actually, thousands of pilgrims were killed. Brar and his wife were attacked while in London last September by a gang who attempted to cut his throat. Ofcom said satellite channel Sangat TV broadcast statements in a panel discussion programme which 'were an indirect call to members of the Sikh community to take violent action against Brar and other members of the Indian armed forces.' The show was broadcast on 30 September 2012. The channel's head of programmes, Amarpreet Mann, said the fine was 'unfair. Ofcom haven't shown any kind of flexibility. They have failed to understand the feelings of the Sikhs. We will be contesting the fine,' he told the BBC Asian Network. Following a viewer complaint, Ofcom requested a translation of the debate, with commentators quoted as saying: 'If they (who assaulted Brar) were Sikhs, I congratulate them' and 'Whatever nation (Brar's attackers) belong to, they will be our diamonds.' The channel's parent company, Regis 1, said it will 'tone down' the amount of controversial debates it has in the future. Sangat TV's management team is meeting to discuss the issue, and decide on how best to appeal the fine. They have said previously that anything more than a token fine would be 'crippling' because it is a charity-based station, relying on donations from the community to survive. Amarpreet Mann said: 'We've not done anything wrong and it's independent media. Everybody has a right to speak.'

Iconic punk rockers The Clash will reunite for a Q&A with the British public, Cerys Mathews has announced. Well ,three of will anyway. Unless they've got a medium on hand, it's difficult to see how Joe Strummer will be able to take part. Speaking on her 6Music show, Matthews revealed that she will be bringing together bassist Paul Simonon, drummer Topper Headon and guitarist Mick Jones for an intimate show at the BBC’s Maida Vale studios on 6 September. Matthews said: 'I am thrilled to be talking with Mick, Paul and Topper at length on 6Music and will be asking them about their early years, their inspirations and where life has taken them since. Out of the smouldering wreckage of the late Seventies The Clash broke onto the scene with a searing honesty that cut a clear message through the smoke. Their music questioned and defined the world around them and with a folk troubadour mentality and a boom box aloft they created a potent soundtrack for the times.' Yeah. What she said.

Uncapped Simon Kerrigan and Chris Woakes have been named in the England squad for the fifth Ashes test against Australia at The Oval. Warwickshire all-rounder Woakes, twenty four, has played thirteen one-day international and two Twenty/20s internationals, while left-arm spinner Kerrigan, also twenty four, has taken forty eight first-class wickets this season for Lancashire Pace bowlers Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions are both absent injured. England lead the series three-nil after a seventy four-run win in the fourth Test in Durham. Onions missed out on selection for the match on his home ground of Chester-le-Street then suffered a broken finger while playing for Durham. Yorkshire's Bresnan, meanwhile, has a stress fracture of the back that will keep the twenty eight-year-old out for the rest of the season. 'Tim has made valuable contributions with both bat and ball during the series and I would like to wish him all the very best in his recovery from his back injury,' said national selector Geoff Miller. 'The focus for Bresnan now will be the tour of Australia later this year while this Test will provide an opportunity for another member of this squad to make equally vital contributions. The injuries mean a recall for Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett and a call-up for Woakes, who has taken twenty seven first-class wickets this season. England selected Monty Panesar in their squad for the third Test at Old Trafford, but the Sussex left-arm spinner has since been having a few personal problems, recently being fined by police for urinating on nightclub bouncers in Brighton. Kerrigan, who has taken more first-class wickets than any other spinner this summer, claimed one for sixty six for England Lions in their drawn two-day game against Australia. Miller added: 'The inclusion of five pace bowlers as well as an additional spinner in Simon Kerrigan who has impressed with Lancashire and England Lions in recent years gives Andy Flower and Alastair Cook plenty of options once they have assessed the conditions at The Oval.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, for anyone hoping for Miracles, here are five of them.

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