Monday, September 30, 2013

Fit For The War

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) has revealed that he's not likely to re-visit The Weeping Angels in any episodes he writes. The Doctor Who and Sherlock showrunner added that despite exhausting them in his own stories, he would be perfectly happy for other writers to bring The Angels back. 'I'm probably done to be honest on what you can do with The Weeping Angels' he told YouTube channel OfficiallyNerdcubed. 'But, other writers have to have a go.' He added: 'There's only so many times you can think "Right, it's a chase scene and statues." How many times can the lights flicker? What happens if a moth sees them? Is the alien invasion cancelled at the point?' The Weeping Angels first appeared during the Doctor Who series three episode Blink, with their most recent appearance being The Angels Take Manhattan in late 2012. Moffat suggested that he had recently heard a Weeping Angels storyline which appealed to him, but added that it wouldn't be making it into the BBC's long-running family SF drama in the immediate future. 'It's not going to happen but a very good Doctor Who writer pitched a great idea for The Weeping Angels the other day and I was very excited about it' he said. 'We had a long phone call about it and I went away thinking, "That is going to be brilliant!" And [then] about two days later he admitted he wasn't going to have time to do it. Hopefully we'll get to it in the next year.'

Meanwhile, yer actual Steven Moffat has 'defended' Doctor Who's ratings - although, defended then from whom, exactly, (and why) is something of a moot point - insisting that the series remains 'huge.' Which, it clearly does. So, what's the problem? The drama's showrunner told NerdCubed that the 'correct' rating for the show is approximately seventy seven million viewers worldwide. 'An episode of The X Factor - no one watches again after its first week,' The Moffinator noted. 'Our audience has migrated to the point where more than half of our audience watch it later - whether it's later that same day or later that week. It has a shelf life - it's watched for years afterwards. It is a far bigger audience,' he continued though he was, sadly, giving an uncanny impression of someone trying to explain nuclear physics to plankton. Moffat added that Doctor Who's audience continues to expand as the show is broadcast in ever increasing international territories. 'For the record, seventy seven million is the correct rating - that's what we get internationally,' said the writer. 'It's only the papers that care - and it's only a certain section of fandom that cares. The BBC knows exactly how huge Doctor Who is.'
Michael Sheen his very self is celebrating winning best actor at the BAFTA Cymru awards for his role in the film version of a modern day passion play. Sheen was honoured for The Gospel Of Us, which followed his role in National Theatre Wales' The Passion, a three-day open air play set in his home town of Port Talbot in 2011. He dedicated his award to 'the people of Port Talbot.' What, even Rob Brydon? Okay. This blogger believes you, thousands wouldn't. The ceremony took place at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. Sheen took a break from his latest role in the film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd to accept the best actor accolade at the event on Sunday night. It is the latest honour for the star of high-profile movies such as Frost/Nixon, The Damned United and The Queen. He said after his win: 'It was a huge surprise, I have to say, I wasn't expecting it at all. It's a great honour and a great honour to be recognised as part of that project - the film, and the live event and everything that's come from it. It's such a privilege to be a part of it and this really is for the people of Port Talbot.' Best writer (which seem like a contradiction in terms) was Ruth Jones for not even remotely funny comedy series Stella. The Sian Phillips award went to Welsh producer Julie Gardner, best known for leading the revival of Doctor Who and the executive producer of its spin-offs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. The award is presented to a Welsh man or woman who has made a significant contribution to the industry. This year's fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who was celebrated at the event with a montage of clips from the show. Best actress award went to Sara Lloyd Gregory for her role in Welsh language drama Alys. The S4C series also won best photography and lighting. Meanwhile there was a double celebration for Jones as Stella, by Tidy Productions, claimed the best television drama award. The former anchor of BBC Wales' Welsh language news programme Newyddion, Dewi Llwyd, was also honoured, winning the special award for his outstanding contribution to television. He was not the only award winner from the programme, which is also broadcast on S4C - the team won the best news programme category for coverage of the London 2012 Olympics. The awards were dominated by independent productions, with television drama the real winner as Wales' home-grown productions for UK audiences began to make their mark. The BBC's Indian Doctor, produced by Rondo Media and Avatar Productions, took the best director fiction award for Lee Haven Jones, while crime drama Sherlock produced by Hartswood Films for the BBC claimed two craft awards. BBC Cymru Wales' The Story of Wales, which was produced by Green Bay, won the Gwyn Alf William award for a programme or series which has contributed to the understanding and appreciation of the history of Wales. Huw Edwards won best presenter for the same series while ITV Cymru Wales' Welsh language programme for S4C, Byd ar Bedwar, won in the best current affairs category for its investigation of drugs deaths on Anglesey.

Rosamund Pike, Kayvan Novak and Angel Coulby are among the voice cast for ITV's new Thunderbirds series. Thunderbirds Are Go! - first announced in February - will combine CGI animation with live-action footage. The World's End star Pike will - of course - voice Lady Penelope, with original Thunderbirds voice artist David Graham reprising his role of her chauffeur, Parker. 'I'm very excited to bring Lady Penelope's wry wit and taste for adventure to a new generation,' said Pike. 'Exploring the scenes with David Graham has been an absolute delight. The scripts are very modern, very fresh and very funny. We're all eagerly anticipating our next stint in the recording studio!' The eighty eight-year-old Graham added: 'I am triple-chuffed to be on board the new series of Thunderbirds Are Go! and reprising my role of dear old Parker with such a distinguished cast. My driving skills are in good nick and I am delighted to be behind the wheel again with M'Lady.' Novak will voice the inventor Brains, with Game of Thrones actor Thomas Brodie-Sangster playing the dual role of the Tracy brothers Gordon and John. Merlin's Coulby is new character, Kayo - a friend of the Tracy brothers - whilst the master villain, The Hood, will be voiced by Andres Williams. Also cast in Thunderbirds Are Go! are Rasmus Hardiker, David Menkin and Sandra Dickinson.

Lord Snooty's Downton Abbey climbed in the ratings for its second episode of the fourth series, according to overnight figures. The ITV period drama gained around one hundred thousand overnight viewers from last week to 9.23 million at 9pm. The X Factor dipped by around three hundred thousand from last Sunday's figure to 9.18m at 8pm. On BBC1, Countryfile interested 6.27m at 7pm, followed by Antiques Roadshow with 5.74m at 8pm. The second episode of the thriller By Any Means dropped seven hundred thousand punters from last week's opener to 3.46m at 9pm. BBC2's The Crane Gang appealed to nine hundred and twenty five thousand viewers at 8pm, whilst The Story Of The Jews concluded with eight hundred and thirty four thousand at 9pm. On Channel Four, Man Made Home attracted nine hundred and forty one thousand at 8pm. Big Fat Quiz of the Nineties was watched by 1.55m at 9pm. Channel Five's broadcast of Gone in Sixty Seconds had six hundred and forty seven thousand viewers at 9pm.

Meanwhile, here's the final and consolidated figures for the Top Twenty Six programmes for week-ending 22 September 2013:-
1 Downton Abbey - Sun ITV - 11.46m
2 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 10.61m
3 Coronation Street - Wed ITV - 10.05m
4 Doc Martin - Mon ITV - 8.04m*
5 New Tricks - Tues BBC1 - 7.99m
6 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 7.76m
7 Emmerdale - Fri ITV - 7.28m*
8 The Great British Bake-Off - Tues BBC2 - 6.95m
9 Countryfile - Sat BBC1 - 6.33m
10 Antiques Roadshow - Sat BBC1 - 5.42m
11 By Any Means - Sun BBC1 - 5.23m
12 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.22m
13 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.80m
14 Through The Keyhole - Sat ITV - 4.67m
15 UEFA Champions League Live - Sat ITV - 4.65m
16 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.52m
17= BBC O'Clock News - Sun BBC1 - 4.48m
17= Surprise, Surprise - Sun ITV - 4.48*
19 When Miranda Met Bruce - Sat BBC1 - 4.46m
20 Ten O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 4.33m
21 Watchdog - Wed BBC1 - 4.16m
22 Mrs Brown's Boys - Sat BBC1 - 4.08m
23 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.06m
24 Educating Yorkshire - Thurs Channel Four - 3.90m
25 Big School - Fri BBC1 - 3.85m
26 Who Do You Think You Are? - Wed BBC1 - 3.78m
Those ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's top-rated programmes of the week, aside from The Great British Bake-Off, were The Wonder Of Dogs (2.94m), University Challenge (2.78m), The House That One Hundred Thousand Pounds Built (2.63m) and Qi (2.46m). Grand Designs topped Channel Four's list (2.73m) behind Educating Yorkshire. CSI: NY topped Channel Five's week (1.92m). Whitechapel continued to struggle with 3.64m (albeit, HD figures are again unavailable). The Saturday episode of The X Factor was watched by 9.61m.

A 'cruel' twist to The X Factor which had viewers comparing it to 'a blood sport' prompted eighty complaints to the broadcaster and media regulator Ofcom. And, once again, let us simply marvel at the utter shite some people chose to care about. The format change on the Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads talent show meant that some contestants who thought they had made it through to the 'bootcamp' stage were, in fact, ditched at the last minute in the episodes broadcast live from Wembley Arena over the past weekend. Karen Harding, one of the singers who thought she had made it, was left in floods of tears when she was later replaced by another contestant. Melanie McCabe, who eventually made it through to the semi-finals, was also reduced to tears during the show. The singer Lily Allen was among those who complained on Twitter, saying that the show had got 'fully mean. When did [it] become alright [sic] to fuck with peoples minds so much?' she asked. The latest editions of the talent show, which was broadcast on ITV on Saturday and Sunday night, saw contestants battle it out to secure a seat on stage in a twist dubbed 'musical chairs.' Members of the audience chanted 'seat, seat, seat' for singers they liked, and 'swap, swap, swap' if they wanted one of the four judges to swap a contestant for a singer they had already chosen. Viewers compared it to The Hunger Games, in which children fight to the death for viewers' entertainment, and 'a blood sport.' Dara O Briain also criticised it on Twitter. 'X Factor seems to have become even more horrible and exploitative than ever,' the presenter and comedian wrote. By Monday morning around thirty viewers had complained to ITV and fifty to Ofcom and that figure is reported to have risen since. An ITV spokeswoman said: 'The new bootcamp twist brings genuine jeopardy to the competition and is just one of the ways the series has evolved this year. ' And 'genuine jeopardy' being brought into something is a good thing? 'All contestants were briefed in advance on the new format and as with all stages of the competition, support was available for everyone before and after their performances.' Oh. So that's all right then.
And, speaking of cruel and exploitative dictators in the twilight years of their reign of terror, yer actual David Cameron his very self is a naughty lying liar who gave 'misleading evidence' to The Leveson Inquiry over his, if you will, 'friendship' with the former News International chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, according to a new book by a journalist 'with close links' to Downing Street. Or, at least, he used to have close links before he turned dirty stinking Copper's Nark on the Big Cheese and published a book in which he accused the Prime Minister of being a naughty lying liar. In what the Gruniad Morning Star describe as 'one of the most authoritative accounts' of Downing Street's links with News International - but, they're probably talking shite, as usual - Matthew d'Ancona also writes that the Prime Minister was 'awestruck' by his, if you will, 'chum', the former Scum of the World editor Andy Coulson. D'Ancona, who has known the Prime Minister for twenty years, claims that Cameron was 'wrong' to tell The Leveson Inquiry that he saw well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks 'more frequently' after her marriage to his Eton contemporary, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks. 'I was definitely seeing her more often because of my sort of friendship with Charlie and as a neighbour,' Cameron told Leveson of his fellow members of the 'Chipping Norton set.' The former Spectator editor D'Ancona dismisses this account as naughty lying lies in a new book on the coalition, In It Together. D'Ancona writes: 'This was misleading. Cameron knew Charlie Brooks only slightly before his marriage to Rebekah. It was Rebekah who brought him closer to Charlie, not the other way round.' D'Ancona also claims that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks 'got close' to Cameron by 'a mixture of charm and persuasion.' He writes that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was 'different' from other journalist friends whom Cameron named at Leveson, such as The Economist's Xan Smiley. 'Rebekah Brooks was different. She was not a member of the Cameroon gang, the "Notting Hill Set" or a veteran of the Tory research department. Yet her charm enabled her to break through Cameron's armour.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks is due to extremely stand trial next month on five charges in relation to allegations of conspiracy to hack phones, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. She, of course, denies all of the charges and has pleaded very not guilty. In his account of the coalition, d'Ancona writes that Cameron 'did not ask' Coulson about allegations of phone-hacking at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World while Coulson was editor. He writes: 'Cameron was notably incurious in his conversations with his former employee about what, precisely, had happened at the newspaper on his watch.' Coulson is due to stand trial next month on three charges in relation to allegations of conspiring to hack phones and allegations over a conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office during his editorship. Like well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Broooks, Coulson has denied the charges and pleaded not guilty. D'Ancona claims that Coulson 'became an indispensable member' of Cameron's inner circle after joining the Tory party as communications director in 2007. He writes: 'Coulson shared with [George] Osborne a desire to root coalition politics in a language that could be sold on the doorstep and pave the way to an outright Conservative victory in 2015. Cameron, in contrast, was "awestruck" by his communications director, whom he privately described in lyrical language. He treated Coulson as a redtop shaman, a source of knowledge about the world of tabloids, Essex and kitchen-table politics.' Coulson resigned as the No 10 communications director in January 2011 as reports about alleged phone-hacking at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World intensified, eventually leading to the odious rag's closure, in shame and ignominy, some months later. Coulson, it is important to note, denied any and all knowledge of illegal phone-hacking and resigned because, he claimed, a spokesman could no longer continue when he needed a spokesman himself. The book also claims that the agreement between Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Milimolimandi over The Leveson Report 'strained' the coalition. In the early part of this year, when Clegg and Miliband were pressing the Prime Minister to strengthen his position, Cameron 'snapped' at his deputy: 'You can go off and do whatever you want with Labour!' Oooo. Get her. But Clegg reportedly had earlier told Cameron that the negotiations with Milimolimandi showed why he did not want to enter a coalition with the Labour, despite the fact that Labour and the Lib Dems were closer on press reform. D'Ancona writes: 'After one meeting of the party leaders in which the Labour leader had moralised a little too much, Clegg turned to Cameron and said: 'Now you can see why I don't want to go into coalition with him.' The remarks attributed to Clegg, which are relatively recent, may undermine his claim that he has no preference over a future Lib Dem coalition partner if the party holds the balance of power after the next election. The book reveals that Cameron took his appearance before The Leveson Inquiry so seriously that Lord Feldman, his old friend and tennis partner at Brasenose College Oxford, assumed the role of the counsel for the enquiry in a prep session. Feldman himself faced pressure on Sunday over his own relations with the media when he appeared to change tack over allegations that he described Tory activists earlier this year as 'swivel-eyed loons.' Feldman initially dismissed the claim that he made the remarks, reported in The Times, the Daily Torygraph and the Daily Scum Mail, as 'completely untrue.' But, he told a Tory conference question and answer session with party members, which was inadvertently shown on the conference television channel: 'For me it was particularly unpleasant because I felt that everything I had done since 2008 was aimed in that direction [improving relations with the voluntary party] and was distorted by these journalists. So, these things happen. I'm not a professional politician. I don't interact with journalists every day. They have chosen to [present] a crass distortion of a conversation. And, as I say, it's not what I think and it's not what I said.' An alleged No 10 'source' allegedly told the Gruniad regarding the claims about Cameron in the d'Ancona book: 'The idea that the Prime Minister has misled Leveson is complete nonsense. The other claims are assertions that have no basis in reality.'
A former Sun newspaper reporter has become the first person to be charged under Operation Tuleta - a police investigation into alleged computer-hacking and other privacy breaches and nefarious skulduggery. Ben Ashford has been charged with one offence of possession of criminal property and one of unauthorised access to computer material. He will appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court on 15 October. Operation Tuleta began in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. It is being run by the Metropolitan Police alongside Operation Elveden, which is an investigation into inappropriate payments to public officials, and Operation Weeting, the Met's phone-hacking inquiry. So far, twenty one people have been arrested as part of Tuleta. Two have been told that no further action will be taken against them. The offences allegedly committed by Ashford are said to have taken place between 11 and 16 October 2009. The first charge accuses him of possessing 'criminal property, namely a mobile telephone, knowing or suspecting it to constitute a person's benefit from criminal conduct.' The second charge alleges that he 'caused a computer to perform a function with intent to secure unauthorised access to a program or data held in a computer, knowing that such access was unauthorised.' The offences are contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and Computer Misuse Act 1990 respectively.

Odious James Murdoch the small has become chairman of Sky Deutschland, the German pay-TV broadcaster, just five months after joining the board. He takes over from Chase Carey, president and chief operating officer of Twenty First Century FOX. Murdoch, son of the chairman, billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch (whom no one is scared of any more), is that company's deputy chief operating officer. It marks the latest stage in Murdoch the small's rehabilitation, noted the Financial Times. Following the Scum of the World phone-hacking scandal he resigned as executive chairman of News International and as chairman of BSkyB. He was also criticised by the communications regulator, Ofcom, for his 'lack of action' over the hacking affair.

The Scum Mail on Sunday had a 'picture exclusive' on page seventeen at the weekend. One of the three pictures from inside the Westgate shopping mall purportedly showed 'the horrific moment al-Shabaab gunman took deadly aim.' Lying face down under two desks are at least half-a-dozen people. 'This is the horrifying moment one of the terrorists in the Kenyan shopping centre attack levelled his gun at cowering hostages, ready to execute them,' the paper tells its readers. The only problem is it's the wrong shopping mall, the wrong city, the wrong country and, indeed, the wrong continent. In fact, as an FBI press release dated from 16 April 2010 shows, the picture in question is a CCTV picture of a bank robbery in Miramar, Florida. In a statement, the Scum Mail weaselled that it regretted the publication. 'The picture was provided by a previously reliable supplier in Kenya who had received it along with some genuine CCTV images from the mall. We showed it to Kenyan police and the military before publication and they made no comment. Of course, we regret our publication and apologise to our readers.' Just try to imagine, dear blog reader, what the Scum Mail's reaction would have been if, let's say for the sake of argument, the BBC had shown the same picture and made the same claim of what it depicted.
Do TV detector vans actually exist? A leaked internal BBC memo about the licence fee makes no mention of detector vans whatsoever - but does reveal that three hundred and thirty four enforcement officers were looking for licence-fee evaders in August. The memo contains a detailed breakdown of every fact and figure relating to the TV licence fee. And yet a leaked copy of the internal BBC report on the collection – and non-collection – of the levy does not contain a single mention of the fabled TV detector van. For years many people have wondered if the famous vans actually exist or if they are a convenient urban myth dreamed up by TV Licensing – the body which collects and oversees the licence fee – to deter would-be non-payers. Some have wondered how the vans would be able to tell whether a home has a television – even in the digital age. And with increasing number of viewers watching TV through their laptops, BBC 'insiders' have allegedly acknowledge that collection for this is 'a grey area.' Those who watch live TV on their computers are still legally obliged to purchase a TV licence, but the same does not apply for recorded iPlayer content, for example. An eighteen-page memo offering a snapshot of the financial picture last month and summarising findings presented by the TV Licensing's Executive Management Forum makes no mention of detector vans – but it does contain plenty of other facts and figures. For example, it reveals that the number of enforcement officers employed to ensure collection of the fee rose in the summer to three hundred and thirty four. This is up twenty per cent on the figure reported a year ago. Evasion of the fee also looks to be up, although interpretation of this data is disputed by the BBC. Evasion was at 5.8 per cent for the month covered whereas it was estimated at 5.2 per cent the year before. A TV licensing spokeswoman refuted the suggestion that detector vans are nothing but a fabrication, a bit like CIA black helicopters and the bogeyman. 'Detector vans are an important part of our enforcement of the licence fee,' she claimed. 'We don't go into detail about how many there are or how they work as this information might be useful to people trying to evade the fee.' She continued that, while the figures were accurate in the leaked documents, they only represent 'a snapshot' of a month and that overall evasion 'remains steady at around five per cent' and the number of enforcement officers 'remains broadly comparable year-on-year.' She added: 'We monitor estimated evasion levels throughout the year but, because the figure fluctuates month by month, we only publish an annual figure. Estimated evasion is currently at a low of around five per cent, and has been remarkably stable around this level over the past six years, despite challenging economic conditions. Shifts of less than one percentage point in the evasion rate are not considered to be statistically significant. Historical evasion is restated at the end of each financial year using latest assumptions, such as the number of households. In TV Licensing’s last annual review for the year 2011-12, we stated the evasion rate for the end of the year at March 2012 as 5.2 per cent. That rate has now been recalculated as 5.5 per cent using the latest assumptions. The evasion rate for March 2013 was also calculated at 5.5 per cent, demonstrating no variation from the previous year. It is meaningless to compare a monthly evasion figure with the annual published figure due to seasonal variations.' In June, TV licensing disclosed some of the more ludicrous excuses people have given to avoid the £145.50 annual fee. They include: 'Why would I need a TV Licence for a TV I stole? Nobody knows I've got it.' And: 'The only way I can afford to pay for my TV Licence is if I sell my hamster, is that what you want me to do?'

The new series of BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing is well under way and pulling in huge audiences but it's not the contestants getting the Daily Scum Mail's attention. oh no. Rather, it's a bright yellow dress worn by Bruce Forsyth's co-presenter, Tess Daly, on Friday's show. 'The outfit was clearly too tight for her slender frame and became transparent under the glare of the lights,' frothed some arsehole of no importance at the odious, louse bullyboy thug tabloid, getting even more hot under the collar than contestant Dave Myers did on the dancefloor. 'Miss Daly failed to impress on Saturday night either,' continues the always impeccably turned-out Scum Mail, a tougher judge than any of those on Strictly. And, twice as twatty as even Craig at his twattiest.
The Returned is to be remade for US television by cable channel A&E. Now, why does that not surprise me? Does nobody working in American television have any original ideas whatsoever? The supernatural French drama - devised by Fabrice Gobert - explores the impact on the members of a village community when their deceased friends and relatives return, unharmed and un-aged. The American version, if it eventually makes it to screen, will, of course, be shite.

With yer actual Stephanie Flanders off to fill her - trademark - boots at JP Morgan, the race is on to replace her as BBC economics editor. Her colleague Huge Pym is said to be the front-runner, having been acting editor during Steph's maternity leave; also cited - by the Gruniad, if not anybody that actually knows what they're talking about - are the World Service's Andrew Walker and the BBC's chief business correspondent Linda Yueh, said to have 'popped up with uncanny timing in London last week after a stint in Asia.'
For the Radio Times editor Ben Preston, the gaffe nightmare just seem to keep on continuing. Despite the big-print misspelling of his name over the summer, this week's ninetieth anniversary issue of the magazine suggests vigilance has not improved. On the contents page of the birthday edition, the name 'Bethany Hughes' is liable to raise the eyebrows of those Radio Times readers (a lot of them, presumably) who lap up telly history programmes – the historian is Bettany Hughes, as the byline on her article on Atlantis later confirms. In possibly telling contrast, the sometimes tricky names of the professionals in Strictly Come Dancing, seen on the gatefold-style cover and occupying another seven pages inside, are all spelled impeccably.
Arguably the most talked-about television series of the past five years - well, among Gruniad Morning Star readers, anyway - the finale of Breaking Bad was broadcast in the US on Sunday, swiftly followed by its UK premiere on Netflix. Set in Albuquerque, the series followed the life of Walter White (played, superbly, by Bryan Cranston), a high school chemistry teacher who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the beginning of the first series. In order to secure his family's future before he dies, he turned to a life of crime, making and selling methamphetamine. Reviews of the finale in the US press have been generally favourable.

'The BBC Trust's finding that its children's services are at risk of falling behind the rapidly changing media consumption of UK kids is no surprise, and reflects an accelerating, technology-driven fragmentation. The reach of CBeebies and CBBC is down, and perceptions of the services (according to BBC Trust audience research) are worsening. CBeebies is seen as "too babyish", and older kids would rather watch some of CBBC's shows on other channels,' writes Paul Robinson in the Gruniad. 'The Trust identified 2.1 million UK children aged four to twelve who watch BBC1, but not CBeebies or CBBC. Fewer boys are watching CBBC, with many preferring commercial rivals such as Disney's action-skewed DisneyXD. However, there was overall strong praise for the BBC's Children's department and the strategy of fewer, better shows. The BBC knows that the UK's kids are extremely technology-literate and getting more so. And their tastes are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with the so-called "age compression" trend is accelerating. The stories and characters that appealed to a ten-year-old a decade ago will now barely satisfy an eight-year-old. The other myth worth exploding is that kids only watch kids' TV programmes and channels. That has never been the case. Kids have always watched mainstream entertainment, films and sport, usually with adults present in the same room. What's changed is that kids are seeking out, at an increasingly young age, dramas with adult characters and plotlines on mainstream channels. As a recent Ofcom consumer trends report pointed out, families are still watching TV together on one set, but individual members tend to also multi-task on personal laptops, tablets or phones. The preferred channel on the main TV will rarely be a dedicated kids' channel. The BBC Trust is correct to say that the status quo is not an option. CBeebies and CBBC still have a place but, rather than attempt to broaden their age targeting, the BBC should focus them.'

And now, dear blog reader, the first in a new semi-regular feature on From The North, 'Examples of things that are, like, totally geet cush, and make the world a better place by their very existence.' Number one - a girl with a Rickenbacker 360 twelve-string. In this case, as demonstrated by New Order's Gillian Gilbert.
Yep. That certainly makes the world seem, momentarily, brighter, doesn't it?

Former racing pundit John McCririck has taken his ex-employers Channel Four and IMG Media Ltd to an employment tribunal, accusing them of age discrimination. The seventy three-year-old was axed (although not, obviously, with an actual axe) from Channel Four's coverage last year, as a new-look team led by Clare Balding took over. McCririck called ageism 'wrong' and 'illegal' outside the tribunal, which was adjourned so the panel could study evidence. Channel Four said that it would be 'vigorously defending' the case. They will claim, presumably, that McCririck was sacked not because of his age but because he's an embarrassing old anachronism and this is the Twenty First Century. The long-time pundit said that he was 'devastated at being sacked' in October 2012. He later announced plans to sue his former employers for three million smackers for loss of future earnings, 'stress and mental anguish.' McCririck told BBC News at the Central London Employment Tribunal on Monday: 'The Equality Act in 2010 said you cannot sack somebody because of their age, and there are hundreds of thousands of people in this country, in their thirties to their seventies, who dread, who fear the threat of the sack just because someone younger is chosen by one of the suits and skirts.' He continued: 'That is wrong, that is illegal, and that is who I'm fighting on behalf of.' But, mainly, he's fighting for himself and the mucho lover-ly wonga he's trying to claim. Channel Four claimed that it was 'grateful' to McCririck for his contribution over the years. A spokesperson for the broadcaster added: 'However we reject the suggestion that discrimination on the basis of age played any part in the decision not to include John in the Channel Four racing team from 2013 and we are vigorously defending this claim.' Famous for his deerstalker hat and sideburns, and for being - you know, 'eccentric' - McCririck was given the go-ahead to take his case to a final hearing after a pre-hearing review in June. The pundit said that the prospect of the tribunal was 'a daunting ordeal' but added: 'I'm not in this for the money. All I want is my job back, it's all I have ever asked for.' The hearing is expected to last seven days.

Bridget Jones fans have taken to social networking to voice their shock and horror at the news that the author Helen Fielding has killed off the character of Mark Darcy in her latest novel. It's, genuinely, nice dear blog reader to know that there is a fandom out there which has Special People in it who are even more mental than Doctor Who's Special People. It makes yer actual Keith Telly Topping feel almost ready to give humanity a second chance.
And now ...
Although today it's actually Keith Telly Topping's Exciting Adventures With A (Rather Stationary) Substitute For Gillian. What, I hear you growl, dear blog reader. Has yer actual Keith Telly Topping been and gone and been unfaithful to the old girl? Well, listen, and I'll tell you. You know how yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self loathes to brag, dear blog reader? Actually, that's a complete and total lie, but never mind. On Monday, he only went and done a second visit to the gym, didn't he? Yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought he'd try the same as last time, fifteen minutes on the exercise bike and see if he could do five miles. Which he did, in fact, it was a smidgen over sixteen minutes for exactly five-and-a-half miles, slightly longer and slightly further than he managed last Thursday. Then, for the first time ever, he decided to have a try on the treadmill. Admittedly he was only at walking pace but he was on for another fifteen minutes and, having started at the lowest setting you can (2.5 miles an hour, which is roughly the equivalent of what a snail travels at), by the end, yer actual Keith Telly Topping had gradually increased that to five mph. Which is almost trotting. Almost, but not quite. Thereafter it was the usual couple of lengths in the pool, a trip to the steam room, a sauna, a shower, a walk to the shops and then getting the bus home. And then blogging. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping now intend to sleep for, probably, the rest of the week. Although, he could probably do with some food first. Whilst he was doing all that exercise, it was to a carefully selected (ie completely bloody random) run of bangin' tunes on the MP3 Player which went The Chemical Bothers, Underworld, Dreadzone, New Order, The Grid, The Young Punx and A Guy Called Gerald. They, actually, worked really well for a 'feel the burn' session. Oh my God, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self in danger of turning into one of those people who used to jog with their Walkman playing Sting. Just kill him now.

Which brings us to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day and one of the very bangin' tunes that managed to get your actual Keith Telly Topping through thirty minutes of exercise for the first time since about 1984.

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