Sunday, August 11, 2013

Week Thirty Four: I Come From Another Planet, Baby

So, dear blog reader, there appears to be no Doctor Who news today for a change. I know, I was shocked and stunned as well. But, we'll soon put a stop to that. Here's a picture of yer actual David Tennant with a kitten. Come on, this is the Internet after all. If you can't have Doctor Who and cats in the same blog post, you're obviously doing something wrong.
Next, here's Smudger his very self showing off his latest come and have a go if you think you're hard enough look on a night out (with 'a male pal', apparently, shock! horror! pictures!) at London's Goucho Club as snapped by some Daily Scum Express paparazzi.(And, another thing - does anyone apart from scum tabloid journalists use the word 'pal' in anything other than an ironic sense these days?)
And, finally, here's Peter Capaldi in drag.
That's easily enough to be going on with, I reckon.

The Field of Blood ended with 2.43m on Friday, according to overnight figures. The Glasgow-set newspaper drama, starring David Morrissey and Katherine Kelly, was down nine hundred and thirty thousand punters on Thursday's opening episode. Earlier, The ONE Show interested 2.97m from 7pm (which, astonishingly, was - soaps aside - the most watched programme of the evening), after which Nigel Slater's Dish of the Day was watched by 2.17m at 7.30pm. The latest episode of Celebrity MasterChef attracted 2.73m an hour later. BBC2 showed A Summer in Wales to nine hundred and ninety thousand punters at 7pm. It was followed by Mastermind with 1.51m at 8pm and Gardeners' World on 1.87m (8.9%) at 8.30pm. Natural World Sri Lanka and The Trip then had audiences of 2.01m and six hundred and ninety thousand viewers respectively from 9pm. On ITV, River Monsters was seen by 2.47m at 8pm, while a Doc Martin repeat secured 2.62m at 9pm. Channel Four's Four Rooms had an audience of eight hundred and thirty thousand viewers at 8pm, followed by Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown with 1.64m at 9pm. Sarah Millican: Chatterbox Live had 1.12m at 10pm. On Channel Five, coverage of the opening day of the fourth test at Chester-le-Street had seven hundred and fifty eight thousand at 7pm and World's Busiest Train Station took 1.06m at 8pm. Hazel O'Sullivan's eviction on Big Brother was watched by 1.57m.

That Puppet Game Show débuted with 2.37m overnight viewers on Saturday. BBC1's latest Saturday night entertainment flop attracted fifteen per cent of the available audience from 6.45pm. Regular dear blog reader Jeremy Williams asks: 'Obviously That Puppet Game Show was too traumatic for you to comment on. Possibly almost as dire as Don't Scare the Hare? To which yer actual Keith Telly Topping could but reply: 'Oh, it wasn't that bad. As bad as Big Top, possibly, but nowhere near as bad as Don't Scare The Hare. Now, I Love My Country, that is as bad as Don't Scare The Hare. That Puppet Game Show was, indeed, followed by odious, risible, funny-as-a-kick-in-the-stones I Love My Country, which continued with a laughably piss-poor and thoroughly deserved 2.77m down nine hundred thousand punters on last week's opener. The National Lottery: Break the Safe scored 3.86m at 8.15pm, while Casualty was watched by 4.32m at 9.15pm and Mrs Brown's Boys pulled in 4.09m at 10pm. Meanwhile, ITV showed Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to 4.21m at 7pm. The latest episode of The Americans was seen by eight hundred and sixty thousand at 10pm. On BBC2, Proms Extra 2013 aired from 7pm, with five hundred and seventy thousand tuning in. Dad's Army had 1.08m at 7.45pm and David Starkey's Music and Monarchy continued with seven hundred and seventy thousand at 8.15pm. The fifth episode of the much-hyped but little-watched drama Top of the Lake attracted eight hundred and eighty thousand viewers from 9.15pm, after which Qi: XL had just over seven hundred thousand at 10.15pm. Grand Designs appealed to eight hundred and ten thousand punters at 7pm on Channel Four. The movie double bill Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Braveheart then took seven hundred and ninety thousand and four hundred and thirty thousand respectively from 8pm. Elsewhere, eight hundred and thirty four thousand watched the Ashes highlights between 7pm and 8pm on Channel Five. It was followed by two episodes of NCIS with five hundred and ninety five and six hundred and ninety thousand respectively, while the latest episode of Big Brother interested a million sad crushed victims of society at 10pm. Foyle's War was the highest rated show on the multichannels, picking up eight hundred and twenty five thousand viewers on ITV3 at 6.45pm. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping was watching that, dear blog reader. And, the episodes of Lewis and Wire In The Blood which followed it. A sure indicator of what a thoroughly rotten night of telly it was.

It was the early 1970s and legendary Test Match Special commentator Brian Johnston mused aloud, above the crackle and thrum of a test match, how much he'd like some chocolate cake. 'A lovely lady' was quick to respond, recalls Henry Blofeld and delighted the TMS team which included himself, Johnners, Christopher Martin-Jenkins and the great John Arlott by sending in a gooey, calorific, diabetes-inducing treat to the studio at the ground. Arlott, a much-loved, lyrical commentator given to poetic flashes still fondly remembered by cricket fans the world over, joked during the same match (no one can be sure of the exact date) that he'd like something more 'useful' like, well, some champagne, perhaps. This prompted Fortnum's to send over a crate. (A subsequent request for caviar fell on deaf ears, tragically.) But still, more than thirty years before The Great British Bake Off, a legend was born – what we might be described as the Test Match Special, if you will, cake off. These days the current TMS team is sent scores of cakes during every five-day Test. They've even been given one in Bangladesh and Blofeld – who's been a Test Match Special voice since that first cake arrived in the box – talks warmly about the 'rather nice Englishwoman' who flew from England with a cake to Dunedin in New Zealand. 'If legend were to be believed, Brian never got through any of his commentary, ate fourteen slices and permanently had his mouth full of cake that day, which simply isn't true,' Blowers says loyally about his friend who died in 1994. 'But it's certainly true he liked cake. It really started something. As soon as he said it, the women of Great Britain went to their kitchen, marked out their long run and started sending them to us.' Blofeld, for whom one senses the feminist movement was something that happened to other people, puts the date of the original cake arrive at around 1974. No one at the BBC is sure when it started. But now the small commentary box is always adorned with delicious slabs of gateau. Even the Queen 'supervised' a cake for them in 2001, laced with what Blofeld said was 'a healthy portion' of royal brandy. 'It was Twitter before Twitter,' says Jonathan Agnew of a tradition which put the programme in closer touch with its many millions of listeners. TMS, with its traditions and nicknames and in-jokes, perfectly reflects the gentle idiosyncrasies of cricket. And let's not forget that it's a professional sport where tea is one of two official breaks in play. Tea and, of course, cake. 'Brian Johnston would be thrilled we're still being sent cakes,' says Aggers, but he's quick to point out the magic of TMS goes beyond baking. The team insist on keeping the commentary box window open at all times, to allow listeners to engage with the gentle sounds outside, the lapping applause and crack of leather on willow. And when they're commentating in the heat of an Ashes series in Australia, describing the action to listeners huddled in the cold dead of an English winter early morning, the audience is always kept firmly in mind. 'I modulate my voice. I'm a bit softer,' says Agnew. 'I know I'm in bed with a lot of people late at night. It's actually quite an intimate thing.' Followed by millions at home, TMS has a huge foreign audience too, mainly thanks to the Internet. However, Agnew is worried about the renegotiation of the broadcast contract in 2019 – specifically that so-called 'geo blocking' may stop people listening online overseas. 'It would be ridiculous, denying people all over the world, in Africa and Borneo, from enjoying Test Match Special,' he says. 'We all want the game to thrive and flourish. I understand it’s important to make money out of the game but this would be dangerous.' Agnew, a highly respected authority on the game, who played three tests for England in the 1980s before becoming the BBC's cricket correspondent, recently took time out of an extremely busy day to chat to the Radio Times in the commentary box on the third day of the first Ashes test at Trent Bridge. Harry Judd, the drummer from McFly, had already dropped in for a visit and Blofeld had performed a sort of a rap with the Neil Hannon-fronted band, The Duckworth Lewis Method, during lunch. It's hard to imagine anywhere more English and eccentric. On that particular day alone the programme's hosts, Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, had made them a chocolate cake and another had been sent in featuring pigeons (Blofeld often talks about pigeons during lulls in the play). There's also a Geoffrey Boycott bingo-themed cake on the producer's table to honour the game fans play trying to guess at Boycott's favourite phrases – such as 'My mum could have caught that in her pinny.' 'I never heard about this cake tradition,' said Australian fast bowler turned TMS commentator, Glenn McGrath, looking perplexed, patting his stomach and turning away from the temptation with the self-control of an ex-athlete. 'It seems very English. But I'm in a good paddock with my diet and can't go near it.' 'They never send cakes in Australia,' chips in Phil Tufnell, the former England left-arm spinner, A Question of Sport panellist, ONE Show regular and TMS summariser. Tuffers, of course, is rather partial to 'a nibble here and there' - well, we've all heard the rumours - but admits that none of the team could eat all the cake they’re sent or they'd all be 'the size of houses.' He's a fan of the brownies and pork pies that they're given and always shares the treats with the print journalists downstairs. 'I love this job,' he notes. 'It’s the best seat in the house – and you have the best brains watching it. It's great to turn up in the morning. TMS is why I fell in love with cricket, driving to the sea with my family, hearing it on the radio, everything at peace with the world. It's the sound of the summer. I only hope someone won't send in a dodgy cake.' One person who won't is the singer Lily Allen – a passionate cricket fan and friend to TMS who always brings her pal, former England captain Michael Vaughan, a strawberry pavlova when she's at Lord's. But producer Adam Mountford, who enjoys a slice of cake himself, is keen to steer conversation away from the subject. 'I don't want people to think we sit around eating cake all day, but it adds to the variety. We can't spend the whole day discussing a forward defensive stroke. We're a serious sports programme that covers professional sport with huge expertise, but cricket takes a long time and we convey the rhythms of the day. It's like life – there is the serious but also room for something less serious.' Mountford sits in front of a computer, head-phones clamped to his ears, an eagle eye on Twitter, feeding stats and info to the team. He's particularly proud of online audience figures (excluding radio) of eight hundred thousand for the previous day's play. TMS received a massive boost in the exhilarating 2005 Ashes series when Sky snapped up the TV rights, sending many without subscriptions to the radio. 'People love TMS when it rains because of what we fill the airtime with,' he says. 'There's never a tedious day of cricket. You never know what's going to happen, but these people are the stars.' He points to his team. 'There's an Old Etonian and a gruff Yorkshireman. Some people don't like Geoffrey but you can never ignore him. It's about the range of topics and personalities. I get to work with all my heroes. We know what this show means to the audience. People picked us up at Everest base camp once and I've heard stories about mountaineers climbing a sheer cliff and telling climbers below them what the score is.'

Which brings us to yer actual Top Telly Tips in the area:-

Saturday 17 August
Jeez but it's a perfectly dreadful night on telly this evening, dear blog reader. It's that time of the year, I suppose, when it's all repeats and also a dumping ground for all of the rubbish that some idiot commissioned and then, instantly, regretted (yes, you I Love My Country). There is the final episode of Top of the Lake - 9:00 BBC2 - which sort of sums up the general malaise of a summer telly. It all began rather promisingly but, kind of fizzled out somewhere in the middle of its six episodes and never really recovered. Anyway, Tui's due date is imminent and Robin is summoned to Matt Mitcham's, where what she hears leaves her in the depths of despair. The detective summons up her last reserves of strength to try to find the girl before her father can, but nothing can prepare her for where she will have to go, or what she will have to see. Or, indeed, will anyone actually care?

Sunday 18 August
Lucy and Esther are convinced that Mister Timperley is responsible for Catherine's disappearance and they're determined to expose him, while Esther's sister Martha heads to Quarry Bank Mill from Liverpool in the hope of finding her in the final episode of The Mill - 8:00 Channel Four. Robert breaks the news that Parliament has not passed the Ten Hour Bill, meaning that children will continue to work twelve-hour days at the factory, and as political unrest escalates, he tries to keep Daniel on his side by offering him a half-share in the patent of their new loom.
It's also the end for the four-part Southcliffe - 9:00 Channel Four. One year on from the events of the previous episode, an anonymous letter sent to David reawakens the fear that Morton is still alive and returning to Southcliffe. Revisiting his home town, the reporter finds some things have changed - Claire is spiralling into despair, while Chris seems haunted by the shootings. Then, when David discovers an intruder has broken into his hotel room, he suspects a new threat is imminent. Has the darkness that compelled Morton come to possess Chris?

On The Review Show - 9:00 BBC4 - Kirsty Wark is joined by the critic and (occasionally funny) Manc gobshite Paul Morley, the crime writer Denise Mina and the - alleged - comedian (although, personally, I reckon he's about as amusing as nasty pain in the dong) Mark Thomas to discuss some of the biggest events at this year's Edinburgh Festival. Works under discussion include theatre company Grid Iron's site-specific extravaganza Leaving Planet Earth, Margaret Atwood's new novel MaddAddam and a retrospective of the output of pioneering Korean-American video artist Nam June Paik. Also featuring music from artist Nadine Shah.

Monday 19 August
The latest episode of Horizon is called Defeating The Hackers - 9:00 BBC2 - and explores the murky and fast-paced world of people using computers to steal money and identities, as well as wreaking havoc with users online lives. The film reveals the methods scientists are using to help defeat the sodding twats involved in such gittery. The programme also meets the two men who uncovered the world's first cyber weapon and the computer expert who worked out how to hack into cash machines. Now, that's public service broadcasting if ever I heard it.

In The Road To Referendum - 10:35 ITV - Iain Macwhirter examines the social, cultural and political changes that have taken place in Scotland between 1945 and the present day - as the country prepares for a vote on independence. With contributions by First Minister Alex Salmond, David Cameron, arch nutter George Galloway, Tam Dalyell, Malcolm Rifkind, Margo MacDonald and the authors William McIlvanney and the late Iain Banks.
Ade Adepitan: Journey of My Lifetime - 8:00 Channel Four - sees the Paralympian and TV presenter return to his birthplace in Nigeria, where he contracted polio as a baby, to find out why the country remains one of very few locations on Earth where children are still being infected with the deadly virus. As Ade travels from the commercial centre of Lagos in the south to the dangerous north, he sees how medical workers are risking their lives in an attempt to complete one of the most ambitious health campaigns in history.

Tuesday 20 August
While Brian spends time at home making peace with himself over his dismissal from The Law, he agrees to help Esther's friend Margaret find her missing brother Peter, in the interest of keeping his mind active in New Tricks - 9:00 BBC1. Peter was the accountant of a man who has gone to prison for the murder of his wife, so Brian visits the convict hoping he will be able to assist. However, his investigation begins to encroach on the UCOS team's efforts to track down a conman who may be connected to several outstanding cases. With Rosalind Ayres and Art Malik.
Tonight sees the return of Top Boy - 9:00 Channel Four - the drama exploring the world of inner-city gang culture. Dushane has finally made it as `Top Boy' and is moving up the ladder, but former right-hand man, Sully, is now a potentially dangerous rival with a new partner-in-crime. When the body of arch-rival Kamale is discovered, Dushane, Sully and Dris are arrested for murder, but solicitor Rhianna proves more than a match for the police. Meanwhile, with trials for the district youth squad approaching, fifteen-year-old Ra'Nell keeps out of trouble, but best friend Gem gets caught up in events he cannot control. Starring Ashley Walters, Kane Robinson, David Hayman and Lorraine Burroughs.

Stephen Gough has been repeatedly arrested during numerous attempts to walk from Land's End to John O'Groats. Without wearing any clothes. He's spent a total of almost seven years in Scottish prisons as a result of his naughty-nuddy-nekked-ways. The Naked Rambler - 10:35 BBC1 - is a documentary which follows the former Royal Marine as he sets out to trek, naked, more than four hundred miles to his home in Eastleigh, Hampshire, on a four-month journey beset by run-ins with the fuzz. And, additionally, it asks the obvious question - is Stephen a maverick outsider demonstrating his right to freedom of expression in a supposed free (but, actually, highly repressive) society or is he a shameless exhibitionist who simply enjoys getting his knob out in public, to the massive distress of old ladies everywhere? It's a question well worth asking, frankly.

Wednesday 21 August
Former world champion boxer Big Hard Joe Calzaghe, Leicestershire cricket captain and ex-Ashes hero Matthew Hoggard, rapper Speech Debelle (no, me neither I'm afraid) and the alleged 'entertainer' Les Dennis compete in the fourth heat of Celebrity MasterChef - 8:00 BBC1. The culinary competition so far this season has given viewers a bit of serious GBH on the earhole from gobby full-of-herself Janet Street-Porter and proved that there is something Ade Edmondson does these days on TV that has some vague worth to it. Anyway, back to the latest lot. For their first challenge, the contestants must prepare a unique dish from a range of mystery ingredients including a whole squid. They then try to recreate John Torode's spiced fig tarte Tatin without a recipe, and finally enter the world of catering, feeding the Harlequins rugby union team ahead of an important match. Gregg Wallace provides his usual array of helpful comments.

Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker is the latest celebrity to study the life of his ancestors in Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1. In Gary's case, he begins by investigating the bad and low-down ways of his great-great-great-grandfather James Pratt, whom Gary discovers was a poacher in Victorian England and served considerable porridge in Leicester nick. Something that Gary Lineker his very self has never had to face (blimey, he never even got booked in his career). Although he probably deserved to be done for milking those bloody crisps adverts for all they're worth over the last twenty years. Ten years minimum, judge and no time off for good behaviour. Anyway, Gazza his very self, wants to find out why his ancestor became a repeat offender, and also get to the bottom of how Thomas Billingham, a forebear who was the son of an illiterate gardener, ended up as a highly skilled legal clerk. The Lineker family, working both sides of The Law since 1800, seemingly.

The Man Who Collected The World: William Burrell - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary exploring the Burrell Collection, an assortment of more than nine thousand pieces of art which were donated to the city of Glasgow in 1944 by William Burrell. Kirsty Wark examines the personal and professional life of the collector, who made his fortune as a shipping magnate, and tours the highlights of this vast array of paintings, sculptures, tapestries, ceramics and stained glass in the thirtieth anniversary year of its public opening.

Tonight also sees Channel Five showing the single worst film ever made, The Da Vinci Code - 9:00. So, if you fancy having your brain rotted, watch that.

Thursday 22 August
The first of the two-part Poaching Wars With Tom Hardy - 9:00 ITV - sees BAFTA award-winning actor Tom Hardy (best known for Inception and The Dark Knight Rises) travels to Africa to uncover the truth about why the poaching of elephants and rhinos has 'reached crisis point.' Particularly, you know, for the elephants and rhinos themselves. He begins his journey in South Africa, where he meets people who are trying to save rhinos using a variety of different techniques, including the implementation of anti-poaching organisations and the more controversial approach of dehorning. I tried that once, dear blog reader, by putting stuff in my tea. It didn't work, I still get The horn on occasions. Anyway, these individuals provide an insight into the illicit and wicked trade.

In Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience - 10:00 BBC2 - the reasonably funny Welsh comedian tries his hand at being a coach tour guide, escorting a bus-load of pensioners to Antwerp and Bruges. His talent with an audience proves of little use when he has to reel off a list of facts about Belgium - the single most boring country on Earth - and he finds even getting up early every morning is major challenge.

Friday 23 August
We finish the week, frankly, much as we started it - with a load of shite on the box. Highlight of the night, unbelievably, is the second episode of Big School - 9:00 BBC1. Yeah, I'm afraid it's that sort of night dear blog reader. Still, bright side, it'll soon be September and we'll be into the autumn schedules. So there's plenty to look forward to. Like, you know, The X Factor and ... I think I'll just hang myself now, frankly. Anyway, speaking of The X Factor, it's talent show time at Greybridge School, with the staff providing the acts while the pupils pull off their best Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef from Crossroads impressions. Mister Church is reluctant to enter until Miss Postern suggests he does a duet with her, although artistic differences look set to ruin their chances of winning. PE teacher Mister Gunn seems the favourite to win, as usual, with his Keith Lemon impersonation - before some unexpected late entries throw the competition wide open. Classroom comedy (well, sort of), starring David Walliams, Catherine Tate, Philip Glenister and Frances de la Tour. A talented cast, wasted in lame, obvious one-joke comedy such as this malarkey.

To the news, now: Tony Hall, the BBC's new director general, has called in external auditors KPMG to widen the search for potentially improper pay-offs to senior BBC executives, a move which is likely to bring scrutiny on deals such as that struck with former BBC1 controller Peter Fincham, now the big boss groove at ITV. Hall, who admitted in an internal e-mail to BBC staff on Friday that the BBC has 'lost it's way' on the issue of severance pay for the Big Knobs, has appointed KPMG to look at pay-offs and deals with departing BBC staff prior to 2010. The National Audit Office is focusing on one hundred and fifty severance deals with senior BBC executives in the three-year period between 2010 and 2012. 'The NAO is now back at the BBC looking at the outstanding severance payments made during the three-year period to the end of 2012,' he said. 'In addition, we have asked our auditors KPMG to review other cases in recent years where guidelines may have been breached.' KPMG's focus on deals done prior to 2010 means that high-profile cases such as Fincham, who was given a half a million smackers pay-off following his resignation in the wake of the so-called 'Crowngate' affair, are likely to be put under the microscope. The auditors could also include taking another look at the terms of the departure of Lesley Douglas, the former BBC Radio 2 controller who left in 2008 in the wake of the Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross phone prank affair. 'I know this issue has provoked a very strong reaction from many of you and I understand why you feel that way,' said Hall, who sent the e-mail after the Gruniad Morning Star - in a typically sick agenda-smeared piece - claimed that the Metropolitan Police are gathering information on misconduct and fraud relating to the pay-offs which could lead to a formal investigation. 'I have already said I believe we lost our way on this issue,' Hall added. 'In spite of recent newspaper reports, to date we have not had any approaches from the police on this matter.' The NAO published a damning report on BBC pay-outs in July, when it looked at sixty deals with senior executives. It is now looking at another ninety. Hall pointed out that from next month there will be a cap of one hundred and fifty thousand knicker on all severance payments and that he has 'also removed pay in lieu of notice in all but the most exceptional of circumstances. But we are also determined to learn the lessons from what went wrong,' he said. 'It is worth saying, however, that severance pay in general was part of an attempt to reduce senior management numbers.' He added that the senior management redundancy programme has saved thirty five million notes, which has been invested back into programme-making, and that it will continue to provide benefits of nineteen million quid a year that will also be invested. 'However, it is clear [severance payments were] not done in accordance with best practice – and that is why we have already tightened up procedures and also why we will not contemplate this level of payoff in the future, even though senior posts will continue to decline in number,' he said.

The Prime Minister has rejected a call from the broadcaster Stephen Fry to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics because of Russia's treatment of gay people. Not that there was ever the remotest chance that Stephen's suggestion stood a snowball in Hell's chance of being taken up. I'm not sure exactly what Stephen thought was likely to happen; a reply of 'My God, you're right. Let's do that then' possibly? He might have been taken a bit more seriously if instead of writing an 'open' letter on his blog, he'd printed it out, stuck it in an envelope, addressed it to Downing Street and bought a stamp and made it a closed one, I'm guessing. But, it's the thought that counts. In his 'open' letter on his website Stephen said that Russia was 'making scapegoats of gay people.' David Cameron said that he shared Stephen's 'deep concern about the abuse of gay people in Russia' - only not enough to actually do anything about it. He added that he did not support a boycott. He said: 'I believe we can better challenge prejudice as we attend.' Cool. So, how's that going for you then, Dave? A Russian law, passed in June, prescribes heavy fines for anyone 'providing information about homosexuality' to people under eighteen. In his article, which went up on the web on Wednesday, Stephen compared the situation to the decision to hold the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. In Russia, he wrote: 'Beatings, murders and humiliations are ignored by the police. Any defence or sane discussion of homosexuality is against the law. It is simply not enough to say that gay Olympians may or may not be safe in their village. An absolute ban on the Russian Winter Olympics of 2014 is simply essential. Stage them elsewhere in Utah, Lillyhammer [sic], anywhere you like. At all costs Putin cannot be seen to have the approval of the civilised world.' He urged the International Olympics Committee President Jacques Rogge and his fellow committee members to 'take a firm stance on behalf of the shared humanity it is supposed to represent.' On Saturday, Rogge said that he had asked Russia to 'explain' how its new law on gay propaganda 'might affect the games.' He said in Moscow that Russia's written reassurances over the Winter Olympics 'needed clarification. We don't think it is a fundamental issue, more a translation issue,' Rogge added. 'We are not clear about the English translation of the Russian law and we want clarification of this translation to be able to understand what has been communicated to us,' he said. Rogge was visiting Moscow ahead of the the world athletics championships which Saturday on Saturday. He stressed that, under the Olympic charter, sport was 'a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation.'
Former newspaper boss Eddy Shah, who was cleared last month of raping a schoolgirl in the 1990s, has claimed that underage girls who engage in consensual sex 'must take blame' for the abuse they suffer. Oh Jesus. So, how long do we reckon it's going to be before this clown is filleted, barbecued and served on a plate of chips by the nation's press? A tip, Eddy, when you're in a hole it's, generally, a good idea to stop digging. Shah, sixty nine, described charges of rape relating to girls under the age of sixteen who 'threw themselves' at celebrities as 'a technical thing.' He also claimed that Scotland Yard's investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile and others is 'developing into a witch hunt.' Interviewed on BBC 5Live, Shah, who was found not guilty of raping a girl at upmarket London hotels when she was between twelve and fifteen, said: 'Rape was a technical thing - below a certain age. But these girls were going out with pop groups and becoming groupies and throwing themselves at them. Young girls and young men have always wanted a bit of excitement. They want to appear adult and do adult things.' Asked if this meant the underage victims were 'at fault', he said: 'If we're talking about girls who just go out and have a good time, then they are to blame. If we talk about people who go out and actually get "raped" raped, then I feel no - and everything should be done against that.' Shah, who founded the Today newspaper in 1986, was asked if he thought the Operation Yewtree investigation into Savile and others is in danger of becoming a witch hunt. 'I think it's developing into that - it's easy policing and it's easy prosecutions. It's based on emotion most of it,' he said. 'In a civilised society there's got to be more checks and balances before these sort of accusations are used. It's great headlines in papers. And it's emotional stuff and the emotion always falls on the side of the person who is supposed to have been raped.' Shah claimed that he had been 'helping a very well-known person' charged by Operation Yewtree investigators deal with the 'horrible, horrible feeling' of 'emptiness about everything' that he had experienced when he was accused of rape. He also revealed that he had 'suicidal thoughts' during his trial. 'Every night I worked out different ways of committing suicide to help me go to sleep, actually,' he said. 'I was very low, the only time I was lower than that in my life was when we were told (Shah's wife) Jennifer had three months to live all those years ago. You cannot describe the depths you go to.'
An Australian election candidate who was widely mocked after she mistook Islam for a country in a TV interview has withdrawn her candidacy. Stephanie Banister, twenty seven, was contesting a seat in good old Recneck Central, Queensland for the anti-immigration One Nation Party. As Billy Connolly once noted about the state, 'they like to think they're the California of Australia. Actually, they're the Alabama of Australia!' Banister had only been in politics for forty eight hours. She also confused the term 'haram' (forbidden) with the Koran and suggested that Jews 'worshipped' Jesus Christ. The interview, which aired on Australian's Seven News earlier this week, went viral on social media soon afterwards. I do urge you to check it out, dear blog reader, it's effing hilarious. 'I don't oppose Islam as a country, but I do feel that their laws should not be welcome here in Australia,' Banister told Seven News reporter Erin Edwards. She announced her withdrawal from the election on Saturday. 'With the way Channel Seven edited my interview, I was left quite the fool,' Banister said in a brief statement. Although, many would argue that it was, perhaps, less to do with the way Seven News edited you that made you look like a fool than the fact that you, you know, are a fool that made you look like a fool, Steph. Just one to drop in your toaster and see if it pops up brown. 'I'd like to apologise to One Nation, to my friends and family, for any embarrassment this has brought to them,' she added. One newspaper headline said that Banister had managed to put Islam 'literally on the map.' The leader of One Nation, Jim Savage, said that Banister continued to have 'the full support' of the party executive, which probably says far more about One Nation than it does about anything else. He said that she had been under 'enormous pressure', including threats to her and her family. Commentators compared Banister to Sarah Palin, the gaffe-prone Republican vice-presidential candidate in the 2008 US election. Even before this interview, Banister was regarded as a rank outsider to win her seat. The mother-of-two rose to prominence when she was arrested for going into a supermarket and putting stickers saying 'halal food funds terrorism' on Nestlé products. She is currently facing charges of 'contaminating or interfering with goods.' If convicted before polling day, she would have been barred from standing anyway. When asked for a comment, the Australian prime minister said 'fair dinkum, y'pommy bar-stard. Throw another prawn on the barbie, Sheila. C'mon Aussie, c'mon, c'mon.' Et cetera.
A summer World Cup in Qatar in 2022 would be 'impossible' according to Football Association chairman Greg Dyke. Dyke, who took up his FA role last month, thinks that the tournament is likely to move to winter because of the heat. The Premier League opposes a change of dates, as do most of the other league's in Europe, while Dyke's predecessor David Bernstein said in June that any switch would be 'fundamentally flawed.' But Qatar's World Cup organising committee says it is ready to host the tournament in summer. 'Even if all the stadia are air-conditioned, I think it will be impossible for the fans,' Dyke said. 'Just go out there and wander around in that sort of heat. I just don't think it's possible. My position, and I suspect the FA's position, will be: "You can't play it in the summer."' The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee told BBC Sport in a statement: 'It was the right decision to award the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time in 2022. We are ready to host in summer or winter. We have always maintained that this issue requires the agreement of the international football community. A decision to alter the dates of the 2022 FIFA World Cup would not affect our infrastructure planning.' The Premier League is understood to be 'surprised and disappointed' by Dyke's comments, as it wishes to join forces with the FA in opposing a change of date. Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive, said in July that switching the Qatar World Cup to winter would 'cause chaos' for football leagues around the world. His organisation believes such a change would have an impact on the three domestic seasons around the tournament - most notably 2021-22 - affecting broadcast deals and requiring every player's contract to be rewritten. In 2010 Qatar controversially defeated bids from South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States to be awarded the 2022 World Cup amid allegations of back-handers and general dodgy shenanigans and malarkey and shit. The bid has been plagued by allegations of corruption, although organisers have always insisted that they did nothing wrong. Temperatures in the Middle East state can reach fifty degrees in the summer, and FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke admitted in March that the tournament 'might' be moved. FIFA president the odious Sepp Blatter said in May it was 'not rational' to play in such heat. But, shortly before stepping down as FA chairman, Bernstein said there should be no change. 'The bid was for the World Cup to be played in June and July, and for it then to be moved to the winter would be fundamentally flawed,' he said. 'If people want it in the winter, they should bid for it on that basis.' Dyke, though, believes a move is inevitable and suspects there is likely to be legal action as a result. The sixty six-year-old, who has visited Qatar in June, added: 'FIFA have therefore got two choices. They can move it either time-wise or to another location. I suspect either will end up in some sort of litigation. But then someone should have worked that out in 2010 when it was awarded. I understand the reaction of the Premier League in not wanting to move it, and I have some sympathy with them. We didn't have to choose to give it to Qatar in the summer. But that's where it is and I think it will either have to be moved out of the summer or moved to another location. I suspect that the former is more likely than the latter.' FA general secretary Alex Horne said that any change to the international calendar would 'trigger complications' for clubs, national associations, leagues and competitions around the world. 'It's a big jigsaw that will have to be put together and it'll take months. The last time we did this it took eighteen months to agree a calendar which is the one we're looking for 2014 to 2018, so it won't be quick to fix it if the decision is that we think it should be other than in July,' he said.

Double Olympic champion Magic Mo Farah created history once again in Moscow as he became the first British man to win a ten thousand metres world title. A year on from winning five and ten thousand metres Gold in London, the thirty-year-old moved a step closer to repeating his Olympic feat in the Russian capital. Mo saw off 2011 champion Ibrahim Jeilan in a thrilling sprint finish, crossing the line in twenty seven minutes and twenty one seconds. Ethiopia's Jeilan had to settle for silver, just as Farah did at the World Championships two years ago, while Paul Tanui secured bronze for Kenya. Farah's victory brought the Great Britain team their first medal of the World Championships on the opening day. 'I had the experience from two years ago,' Farah told BBC Sport. 'I knew I just had to cover every move and the guys were going to go out there to take a lot out of me. I was just digging in, digging in. It was nice to come out here and win it. Training has been really hard; I've spent a lot of time away from my family and when I came home for the Anniversary Games, my little daughter didn't even recognise me. But it's definitely been worth it.' There had been talk of the Ethiopians and Kenyans ganging up on Britain's sole representative, but they failed to test Farah's endurance in stifling conditions as the first half of the race was completed at a comfortable tempo. Farah had said that he would be confident of victory were he one of the first three athletes at the bell. In fact, he was leading the pack approaching the final four hundred - although the presence of Jeilan making a late surge down the home straight brought back memories of Daegu, when the Olympic champion was overtaken by the Ethiopian in the final one hundred and fifty metres. Farah proved the stronger down the finishing straight this time, raising his arms in victory as he crossed the line, although it did not quite spark the riotous cheers of twelve months ago in a sparsely populated Luzhniki Stadium. An exhausted Farah then fell to the track, sucking in the oxygen after a fifty five-second last lap, but he will not care about that as he stands on the verge of joining the all time greats on distance running. Only three years ago, Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie - the man widely regarded as the greatest distance runner of all - told Farah he had 'little chance' of breaking Africa's grip in the long-distance events. His boyhood hero's words might have been tougher to take than those endless lung-busting sessions in his training base in Oregon. Since his exchange with the former Olympic and world champion, Farah has gone on to become Britain's greatest ever distance runner and the finest in the world at present. The Briton now owns the Olympic and world ten thousand metres titles, and by the end of these championships he could have matched the feat of Gebrselassie's compatriot Kenenisa Bekele, the only man to win double gold in the men's distance events at both the Olympics and World Championships. Farah will start the defence of his five thousand metres title on Tuesday when he lines up in the heats. Reaching Friday's final should be a matter of routine and then another piece of history will loom still closer.

As usual with a major British athletics victory, one of the highlights of the whole shebang - Magic Mo aside - was watching some of the BBC presenting team - in this case, the female members - going totally off it like teenagers. In this particular case, we had Gabby Logan - taking some time out from the rank disaster that is I Love My Country - doing a sort of very excited pogo whilst being watched by Paula Radcliffe and, seemingly, Heather Small out of M People. Oh no, sorry, it's just Denise Lewis with a silly haircut.
And it's so nice to see radical feminist spokesperson Gabby who'd been so vocal a few weeks ago about Sky Sports' female presenters allowing themselves to be objectified totally refusing to go down that route with her tasteful, under-stated and not-at-all distracting canary yellow mini-dress. You're an example to women everywhere, Gabs.

Olympic track cycling gold medallist Joanna Rowsell is scheduled to undergo shoulder surgery on Thursday. The twenty four-year-old, who won London 2012 team pursuit gold, broke her collarbone after a crash during the Ride London road race on Saturday. 'I'm due to have the operation on Thursday to put a plate in my collarbone,' said Rowsell. 'It is too early to say when I will be back on the bike so we will re-assess after Thursday.' Jo - a lady whom yer actual Keith Telly Topping great admires - was involved in the horrific accident during the final lap of the criterium in Women's Grand Prix at the inaugural RideLondon event. 'I went over the handlebars and landed heavily on my head and my left shoulder,' she said, speaking on her official website. 'I was attended to at the scene and then taken to St Thomas' Hospital where I had X-rays and they confirmed I had broken my left clavicle and would require surgery. I was kept in overnight for observation due to my head injury before returning home Sunday morning.'

Cocoa may help to prevent memory decline, according to new research. The journal Neurology has found that two cups of cocoa a day can help improve blood flow to the brain, BBC News reports. A study of sixty elderly people with no dementia found that two cups of cocoa helped improve blood flow in those who had problems to begin with. Eighty eight per cent of participants saw an improvement in their blood flow if it was impaired at the beginning of the day in comparison to thirty seven per cent who had started with normal blood flow. There was no difference found between participants given high-flavanol cocoa or low-flavonol cocoa. Researchers have insisted that this study was 'small' and explained that 'further research' is required to fully explore the effects of cocoa on memory. Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: 'A cocoa-based treatment would likely be very popular, but it's too soon to draw any conclusions about its effects. One drawback of this study is the lack of a control group for comparison, and we can't tell whether the results would have been different if the participants drank no cocoa at all.' He added: 'Poor vascular health is a known risk factor for dementia, and understanding more about the links between vascular problems and declining brain health could help the search for new treatments and preventions.'

Now, remember when I said there was no Doctor Who news, dear blog reader? Well, yer actual Keith Telly Topping lied. What y'gonna do, you know? For, it turns out that yer actual Bill Nighy his very self has described Peter Capaldi as a 'brilliant, inspired choice' to replace Matt Smith on the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama. Speaking at the premiere of his new film, About Time, Nighy told the Press Association that Capaldi will bring 'a lot of wit and dry humour' to the role of The Doctor. Nighy said: 'I think it's a brilliant, inspired choice. It's one of those things where you think, "Of course he's The Doctor. Why didn't I think of that before?" He's a marvellous actor. He'll be very cool as The Doctor. He'll bring a lot of wit and dry humour. He's elegant and he looks great. It's a great, great choice,' he added. Nighy who, of course, was once widely touted for the role himself before it went to Christopher Eccleston guest starred in the drama's 2010 episode Vincent and the Doctor.

Meanwhile, viewers of BBC4's long-running The Sky At Night this week were treated to regular contributor good old crazy Jon Culshaw slipping, effortlessly, into his finest Tom Baker impression since this one when doing a field report with the Chipping Norton Astronomical Group. Sadly, he didn't run into local resident Jezza Clarkson whilst there (or, indeed, either of his neighbours, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks or, the Prime Minister) but, instead found one of the local amateur astronomers dressed up as Baker's Doctor. For reasons we can, merely, speculate at. Probably because he knew Jon was coming and was a big fan of Dead Ringers. Hey, weren't we all. Well, the bits that were funny, anyway. 'We have a fellow Time Lord in our midst, this should only happen in the gravest of emergencies!' noted Jon, deeply in classic Baker style(e). Check it out on iPlayer, dear blog reader - for the next seven days, at least - it's approximately twenty minutes into the episode, presented as usual by Chris Lintott and Lucie Green.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is also, his very self, totally indebted to his good mate Andrew Duncan who pointed out: 'In your mention of this week's Sky At Night, Mr T, I really feel you ought to have pre-warned readers about the Culshaw-prompted moment where they superimposed a Tenth Planet Cyberface over the full moon. Gave me bloody nightmares, that did.' Absolutely Top Banjo, Mr D. Here's something scary to haunt all of your dreams, dear blog reader.
Boo to yer man Culshaw, however, for not even attempting to shoe-horn a The Moonbase reference in there as well.

And, speaking of starmen waiting in the sky, Michael Foale, the most experienced British-born astronaut in the history of spaceflight, has retired from NASA. Holding dual US-UK citizenship, Doctor Foale accumulated a total of three hundred and seventy five days in orbit. In his twenty six-year career in NASA's astronaut corps, he flew on numerous shuttle and Soyuz missions. He serviced the Hubble telescope and had tours on both the Mir platform and the International Space Station. Michael is leaving the agency to work on advancing green aviation technology, by helping to develop an electric aircraft. Born in Louth, Lincolnshire, Michael went to school in Canterbury and received his astrophysics PhD from Queen's College, Cambridge (where he was a contemporary, and drinking buddy, of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, fact fans. Stephen, infamously, mocked his friend's dream of one day going into space, as he recounted in his autobiography with the comment that 'I thought he was potty and blush when I remember how I humoured him!'). He then departed the UK shortly afterwards to pursue his dream of going into orbit by joining the US space agency. This required he become a US citizen. The NASA administrator and former fellow astronaut, Charlie Bolden, paid tribute to Michael. 'We salute Mike and his contributions to NASA as an accomplished member of the astronaut corps,' General Bolden said in a statement. 'Starting with his first flight, shuttle mission STS-45, when we flew together in 1992, Mike has worked tirelessly to support NASA's quest to explore the unknown. I know Mike will go on to do more great things as he continues to support the aerospace industry in his new endeavour.' One of the most dramatic events in Michael's career occurred on Mir in 1997 when the Russian space station was rammed by a visiting cargo ship. He later recalled to the BBC: 'It weighed about seven tonnes so the impact was very noticeable. We heard a big thud and I remember having a severe adrenalin rush and thinking about how much longer do we have. I felt the fall of the air pressure in my ears and realised it was fairly severe but not so severe that we wouldn't have time to evacuate. It all started to fit together and a plan even started to form in all our minds that we would be okay.' Michael made a total of six trips into space and at one point held the record for the most cumulative time in orbit for an astronaut. Like most of the British-born individuals who have flown in space, Michael had to take the NASA route to achieve his goals. For years, successive UK governments deemed spaceflight to be a waste of money and refused to fund programmes involving astronauts. Foale was sometimes critical of this attitude, and was delighted when the European Space Agency went ahead and selected British Army Air Corps pilot Major Tim Peake as an astronaut candidate, even though the government had no direct involvement in the Paris-based organisation's spaceflight programme. 'Britain's exploration history is huge. It stops somewhere in the middle of the last century and I would like to see it pick up again; I think Tim represents that,' he told the BBC in 2009. The government's position on space has changed markedly since then, with ministers pumping money into the home industry and even funding activities on the space station. In addition, the Chancellor George Osborne took the step in June of putting substantial investment behind a design for an air-breathing rocket engine that could one day power a space plane.

Photographs have been released of a woman thought to have exposed herself to a car full of children in a West Midlands supermarket car park. Police said that the shady lady in question approached the car in Smethwick and 'became argumentative' with the female driver. She then unzipped her jacket revealing her naked body to the woman and her children, aged thirteen, twelve, ten and four. Who'd never seen anything like it in their lives. Sergeant James Proffitt, from West Midlands Police, said that it was the first time he had ever heard of 'a lady flasher. The crime is being treated as a serious sexual offence, which had left the children's mother shocked,' he added. The thirty three-year-old victim took two photographs of the naughty suspect before she ran away, which have been published by the police to try to identify her. The flasher is described as black and in her late twenties. Proffitt, said 'The woman had no regard for the young children who were exposed to this kind of behaviour. This is a very serious crime and we would appeal to anyone who may know this woman to call us. Why she did this still remains unclear and this is now an opportunity for her to contact us and explain.'

And finally, dear blog reader, did this blogger actually claim that there was no Doctor Who news? Did I really? Well, that was a right load of twatty bollocks, to be sure. Take, for instance, this rather good piece on the show's popularity by the Financial Times' 'pop and rock critic' (I even never knew the FT had such a thing or acknowledged the existence of either), Ludovic Hunter-Tilney. Daft name, admittedly (although, Keith Telly Topping's hardly the most sensible moniker you've ever come across) but a very well-written piece: 'Now led by writer Steven Moffat, the show is among the BBC's most popular. Sold to more than fifty territories in 2011, it is a lucrative export – one of five top earners that together generate more than three hundred million pounds annually in foreign earnings for BBC Worldwide, the public broadcaster’s commercial arm. Rising popularity in the US led Doctor Who's revenue to increase by forty nine per cent in 2011. Will a future regeneration one day bring us a Doctor with a broad Boston accent and heavier weaponry than the sonic screwdriver he usually totes? The idea is outrageous – although not as heretical as it seems. The Doctor may appear to epitomise Britishness but his arrival at the BBC fifty years ago was arranged by a Canadian, Sydney Newman – the television producer who also brought The Avengers to the nation's screens, another fantasy of 1960s Britain. He designed The Doctor as an outsider, shunned by the other Time Lords for his verboten habit of meddling in human history. His manner is a parody of the British eccentric, elevating the national cult of the gifted amateur to delirious extremes. Who else could combine a doctorate in cheese-making, an Ian Bothamesque all-round brio on the cricket pitch and an ear for literary cadence that allowed him to assist Shakespeare in writing Hamlet?' Whom indeed.
Which brings us to today's Keith Telly Toppings 45 of the Day. Here's a tasty bit of yer actual Mad As Toast Julian Cope. Start making some good records like this again, Jules, matey. The last decade-and-a-half's output has been a bit tame, frankly.

1 comment:

Chris W said...

A mesage from the Arch Drude: "Toppers shut yer mouth, shut yer mouth....put yer heads back in the clouds and shut yer mouth!" (-;