Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Greed Changes Everything (As Bloody Usual)

Yer actual Matt Smith his very self can be seen shooting scenes from his final Doctor Who episode in new pictures released by the BBC this week. Jenna Coleman joined her co-star on location for the BBC long-running family SF drama's 2013 Christmas special, written by The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat his very self. The festive episode - rumoured to feature the return of The Cybermen after a stuntman working on the show made his mouth flap on Twitter - will be Smith's last as The Doctor. The thirty-year-old can be seen wearing a syrup in the new images, after previously shaving his Barnet for a role in Ryan Gosling's movie How To Catch A Monster. The Christmas episode will also see the first appearance of Smudger's successor, Peter Capaldi, as the new Doctor.
According to the piece on the Radio Times website, the title of the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary special will be The Day Of The Doctor. It confirms that The Daleks, The Cybermen and The Zygons will all be featured. The episode is said to be a movie-length seventy five minutes. The origin of these claims appear to be an announcement which was put up, briefly, on the BBC News website before being, hastily, removed. But, inevitably, fans got there first and cached the bugger! (Thanks to the lovely David Howe for the the info.) Danny Cohen, Director of BBC Television, said: 'It's an astonishing achievement for a drama to reach its fiftieth anniversary. I'd like to thank every person – on both sides of the camera – who has been involved with its creative journey over so many years.' The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat added: 'Fifty years has turned Doctor Who from a television show into a cultural landmark. Personally I can't wait to see what it becomes after a hundred.' Meanwhile, according to Metro, Professor Brian Cox will join in the fun with a documentary devoted to the science behind Doctor Who and a BBC2 Culture Show documentary, fronted by fan and broadcaster Matthew Sweet, will explore the impact Doctor Who has had on modern culture. And, of course, there's also the premiere of Mark Gatiss' An Adventure In Space And Time – which features David Bradley as William Hartnell – as well as 'a special showing' on BBC4 of the Time Lord's very first ever four-party adventure from 1963, An Unearthly Child.
Doctor Who and Broadchurch were among the major winners at the 2013 TVChoice Awards on Monday evening - the fifth most important TV awards the industry has to offer. Or, maybe sixth. Coronation Street and EastEnders also walked away with two awards apiece at the annual ceremony, which took place at London's Dorchester Hotel. Doctor Who fought off tough competition from Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife and Waterloo Road to win the Best Drama award. The BBC's popular long-running family SF drama was also honoured with an Outstanding Contribution Award as it prepares to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary in November. Speaking on the red carpet a'fore getting his glittering prizes, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) talked about Peter Capaldi being named as the new Doctor: 'It's nice to get a good reaction to the announcement. We're kind-of going silent on that now until he's on the screen and doing the role for real.' Meanwhile, ITV's Broadchurch won Best New Drama, with David Tennant, winning Best Actor for his lead role in the Chris Chibnall murder mystery (beating his successor in Doctor Who, Matt Smith into the process). Miranda Hart beat Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who), Olivia Colman (Broadchurch) and Sheridan Smith (Mrs Biggs) to win the Best Actress award for her performance in Call The Midwife. Three of Ant and/or Dec's shows were successful in their respective categories with Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway winning Best Entertainment Show. Britain's Got Talent and I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) also won ... stuff. As did The Jeremy Kyle Show. Which says it all, really.

Channel Four's one-off docu-drama Blackout attracted over one and a half million overnight punters on Monday evening. The potential cyber attack drama was watched by 1.48m on C4 at 9pm. Earlier, Richard Ayoade's Gadget Man brought in 1.38m at 8.30pm. ITV's Doc Martin topped the ratings outside of soaps, dropping over four hundred thousand viewers from the previous week's series opener to 7.17m at 9pm. Monday, as usual, was a rotten night for BBC1 with Panorama interesting but 2.07m at 8.30pm, followed by Motorway Cops with a not-much-better 2.79m at 9pm. BBC2's University Challenge had an audience of 2.61m at 8pm, while Robert Peston Goes Shopping appealed to 1.24m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Celebrity Big Brother was watched by 1.72m sad crushed victims of society at 9pm, followed by the latest episode of Under the Dome with nine hundred and eighty two thousand viewers at 10pm.

Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell has been cleared of a number of child sex abuse charges, including rape.

And now, dear blog reader, seemingly the only show in town this week.
There was 'gross incompetence' in the way the BBC management handled large pay-offs to outgoing executives, the chairwoman of the Commons spending watchdog has said. Margaret Spanker Hodge, who had earlier questioned senior BBC figures, said that it was 'an unedifying experience' watching them weasel about and 'try to avoid responsibility' as she swished her cane and looked for the nearest sorry ass to thrash. During questioning, former BBC director general Mark Thompson defended the undefendable - the sickeningly huge severance payments, denying that the corporation had 'lost the plot.' He claimed that the pay-outs had, actually, saved money. Thompson - who is now chief executive of the New York Times newspaper - was one of seven past and present BBC bosses lined-up like a group of naughty schoolboys (and one girl) outside the headmaster's officer giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee. Speaking to BBC News after the hearing, Hodgey said: 'It was a very unedifying experience watching seven people at the top of the BBC dancing on the head of a pin to try and avoid responsibility for the decisions taken. To put these decisions into context, Mark Byford, the former deputy director of the BBC, walked away with one million pounds when he was made redundant, much more than the minimum contractual entitlement. For the ordinary person - the licence fee payer - average wages these days are twenty five thousand pounds, so it would have taken the average worker in Britain forty years - a lifetime - to get the money that Mark Byford got in one day. That just seems they were on another planet and didn't understand how people perceive these sort of redundancy settlements at the top of the BBC.' Summing up at the hearing, Hodgey said the committee believed the governance of the corporation was 'broke'. The committee will produce a report, said Hodge, adding: 'We will have to see whether we conclude it's incompetence or it's a deliberate misleading of the committee which is at the heart of this matter.' Thompson had earlier defended a pay-off package of almost a million smackers to Byford as 'value for money' - a rather curious definition of value for money that most people hadn't previously come across - claiming that he had been under 'ferocious pressure' from the BBC Trust to make savings by cutting senior staff. He accused Lord Patten, the Trust chairman and former Tory MP, of making 'unfair and untrue' claims not to have known about Byford's payment, saying that he believed he had the Trust's 'full support.' Patten, by contrast, said that he 'couldn't have been expected to know' about the sum. Hodge said that under Byford's contract he could have been paid off with about five hundred thousand knicker. But Thompson said he was paid almost twice that amount because the corporation wanted him to be 'fully focused' on his job in the final months of his tenure. Because, of course, he wouldn't have been if he had only been getting half-a-million smackers instead a cool million, of course. Stands to reason, doesn't it? Who, in all honesty, wouldn't let their focus wander in such circumstances? Apart from, you know, everyone. Asked by Spanker Hodgey if the BBC had 'lost the plot', Thompson replied: 'I do not think we lost the plot.' He didn't elaborate further. Following the hearing, the former BBC chairman Lord Grade said that the corporation 'suffers more and more from a lack of understanding the value of money. The cheque comes in every April, three and a half billion pounds, and if you don't have to earn the money and you've got that quantity of money it's very hard to keep a grip on the reality of the value of money,' he told BBC Newsnight. It's interesting, of course, that Michael never bothered making any of these observations during the two periods when he was taking the BBC's coin himself. Ah, the benefit of hindsight. It's a wonderful think, so it is. BBC HR director Lucy Adams told the committee that the corporation was trying to 'get people out of the door' with minimal disruption and 'no risk of legal action' so it was 'occasionally' necessary to pay more than was contractually required. Former Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons agreed with the MPs that payments like Byford's 'look eye-watering' adding that 'clearly the Trust is damaged' by the whole affair. In July, Patten told the PAC he was 'shocked and dismayed' by the scale of pay-offs and claimed that should Thompson be called before MPs Patten would be as interested as they were to hear why the Trust had not known about them. But, ahead of his appearance before the committee, Thompson sent a letter to the PAC saying that he had e-mails which showed Trust members had approved the payments. Earlier, Thompson told MPs that Patten's claims not to have known about them were 'damaging, unfair and misleading statements.' In reply, Patten blustered that he took the charge of misleading the committee 'very strongly' and insisted he had been told settlements for Byford and former marketing boss Sharon Baylay were 'contractual payments' agreed before his appointment. He stopped short of offering Thommo outside so they could sort it out like men, sadly. 'I'm in the position in which I'm accused of having misled the committee on something I didn't know and couldn't have been expected to know,' he added. The BBC has recently introduced a one hundred and fifty thousand knicker cap on severance pay. Adams claimed that she suggested a cap to the executive board before Byford's package was agreed, but it had decided it would be 'inappropriate to introduce the cap at that time.' Patten told the hearing that he accepted there was 'a cultural issue' around pay at the BBC 'that we really do have to recognise and apologise for and deal with very robustly' - but that 'trying to get people to face up to lowering salaries and reducing the number of managers is an uphill struggle.' He rejected recent suggestions that responsibility for governance should be taken from the Trust and handed to Ofcom, something which - thanks to his bumbled ineptitude now looks increasingly likely - and said he hoped over the next few years the corporation could demonstrate that the existing system could work. But have we actually learned anything new from this whole fiasco? MPs seemed to accept Patten's argument that he really could not be expected to have questioned deals such as Byford's pay-off given it was done before he even arrived at the BBC and was said to be 'within contract.' Thompson appeared to convince the committee when he claimed that he had tried to keep the Trust informed of what he was doing. The question about why the Trust had not done more hung, heavily, in the air. The answer that it was 'not their job' did not go down well with some of the MPs. The former chairman Lyons accepted that perhaps they should have taken more of an interest. The government has been watching with interest; the question of how the BBC is governed is being discussed in places where the BBC has few friends and lots of bitter enemies. The debate over the renewal of the charter for the BBC is about to begin and this week's unedifying fiasco will only add weight to a growing debate about the future of the Trust. Tossers.

It had been billed as a battle - possibly to the death - between Thompson and Patten, but so confusing was the detail behind who knew what to whom and when that the only clear loser to emerge was the corporation itself, who had its reputation handed on a plate to those who would do it down by these bloody greed-buckets. Patten's BBC Trust is left fighting for its very existence while Thompson returns to New York, following a session in which he was able to defend his actions in approving six and seven figure pay-outs – but failed to prove his empathy with the people he was supposed to be working for, the licence fee payer. The BBC director general from 2004 to 2012 described the pressure from the former BBC chairman Sir Michael Lyons, and subsequently Patten, to cut pay and numbers at the BBC as 'ferocious. They wanted action,' he said. He insisted the one million twenty two thousand smackers payment recommended for Byford and other overpayments were 'justified' and helped to achieve savings of nine million in the first year of an executive pruning programme supposed to last three years. A sort of 'you have to speculate to accumulate' argument which saw frost forming on the upper reaches on many of the MPs grilling him. By accelerating it to eighteen months, Thompson said that he, ultimately, saved the corporation nineteen million quid. 'I do not think we lost the plot, what I do think is we had done several important things to control severance payments,' claimed Thompson, refusing to accept the lost the plot' language used by both Spanker Hodgey and the current director general, poor old Tony Hall, who has inherited this God-almighty mess and has been sharply critical of the executive pay norms adopted in the previous era. With his twenty five-page written submission to the committee to hand, Thompson went into the hearing clearly intending to defend his assertion that Patten misled the committee earlier this year by saying Thompson hadn't briefed trustees on the details of Byford's severance deal. It seems that he had. Sort of. Hodgey was far more interested in the views of the licence fee payer. She said that she could not understand why Byford was paid off with so much, but in a sharp exchange Thompson said: 'It was not because I thought it was in the interests of Mark Byford. I believe it was in the BBC's interests because of the immense operational challenges we were facing.' He added: 'One month's delay could potentially cost more than one million pounds.' An unimpressed Hodgey frowned and replied: 'We will have to agree to differ.' Verbal shorthand, one imagines, for 'I'd like to put you across my knee, young man.' Or something. Famous for her kebabing of Google, Starbucks and Amazon executives over their tax avoidance, it was Spanker Hodgey, the chair of the public accounts committee, who opened the hearing by criticising the BBC arrangements on severance as 'bewildering, complex and confusing.' As Thompson tried to explain the 'simple maths' of the longer term benefits of reducing executive headcount, she landed a series of blows. Four times she asked why he thought Byford's one million wonga 'golden goodbye' was justified. 'An ordinary worker on average earnings would have to work forty years to earn the one million pounds Mister Byford got and in those circumstances you can understand the disgust ordinary licence fee payers feel?' was her first attempt, followed by: 'Why did you feel you had to go to the maximum amount payable rather than a perfectly generous half-a-million?' and 'Why was half-a-million, which for most people is megabucks, not enough?', before resorting to her electorate: 'How would you explain them [the payments] to constituents in Dagenham?' Hodgey then chose to conclude that the pay-out reflected Thompson's loyalty to a colleague whom, he admitted, he had known for three decades. Hodgey went on to conclude that the 'excessive' pay-offs were for 'this small elite of senior managers, all of whom had known each other and worked together probably since they were trainees.' She said it was 'just offensive' when the BBC's head of HR, Lucy Adams, tried to explain how 'difficult' the conversations had been with the one hundred and ninety five senior executives made redundant as part of the Thompson cull. Patten emerged relatively unscathed from the committee's grilling, although that would only be to rely on a narrow analysis of his personal committee performance. But the BBC Trust which he chairs looks as if it was mortally wounded, filleted and serve on a plate of chips, a body whose members failed to ask the right questions - or, indeed, any questions - when given information, however scant, on the one million notes package for Byford. The Trust chairman said that the only briefing he had on the Byford severance was a press briefing ahead of an annual-report press conference in 2011 and that he could not have been expected to get 'forensic' level of detail about the structure of Byford's pay-off. Later Patten tried a different tack, telling the committee that there was 'a deeper cultural problem' related to severance at the BBC. He said BBC bosses were overpaid relative to others in the public sector, citing the example of Neil MacGregor, head of the British Museum, who earns one hundred and eighty thousand smackers a year. This compared with Thompson earning almost eight hundred thousand knicker and also with the four hundred and fifty thousand quid that Patten's Trust awarded to the present director general. Patten said: 'I think there's a cultural issue there, which we have to recognise and apologise for really robustly.' It emerged that a written memo, dubbed The Project Silver Note, outlining three separate proposals for Byford's severance package was sent by Thompson to the BBC Trust in September 2010. Another memo, sent the following month, finalised the proposals to pay Byford a million smackers and to delay his exit from the corporation. Thompson described as 'damaging and misleading' the suggestion that he withheld information from the Trust about the Byford pay-off, and claimed that Trust officials had been 'involved' in the preparation of the two memos. However, the BBC Trust director, Nicholas Kroll, said that he was not 'closely' involved in the preparation of a note on 7 October 2010 and conceded that the pay-off was 'unquestionably a large figure' - no shit, Sherlock - but 'a matter for the remuneration committee of the BBC executive' and not the Trust. Does kind of make one wonder what, exactly, this joker believes the Trust are supposed to do to justify their existence, doesn't it? Kroll himself was later embarrassed when pressed on why he was unable to remember the details of The Project Silver Note when asked by the National Audit Office. It was a document produced three years ago, he said. Hodgey asked Kroll how much he earned. He replied that it was two hundred and thirty eight grand, whereupon the frustrated chair said: 'You seem to have a very short memory.' She told Kroll: 'the job of the Trust is to protect the licence fee payers' interests', adding: 'There is not one person around the table who can understand why there was no challenge from you.' Meanwhile another Trustee, banker Anthony Fry claimed that the Trust was 'pushed back time and time again' by BBC executives - led by Thompson - over issues surrounding senior pay. Contradicting Thompson's suggestion that discussions with the Trust on the topic were 'cordial', Fry claimed that there were 'months and months of arguments' between the two bodies and that executive pay became a battleground which left his fellow Trustees 'very uncomfortable' and 'that we weren't being taken as seriously as we deserved.' One can't, for the life of one, imagine why no one would take the Trust seriously? Oh yes, because they're incompetent, of course. There's usually a simple answer if you ask a simple question. Adams, the outgoing head of human resources, was always going to face a jolly hockey-sticks-style bruising session after having to grovellingly apologise to the committee for evidence she gave in July, over her knowledge of a key document relating to Byford's departure which she claimed not to be familiar with, before eventually admitting that she had contributed to it. One MP told her, outright, that he would take whatever she said with a pinch of salt. Then, just as she was protesting that this was 'grossly unfair' on her and that he was being a big meanie, Spanker Hodgey interrupted to declare: 'I'm not having any more lies this afternoon.' One half expected Hodgey her very self to follow that declaration with 'go to your room, young lady, I'll be up to deal with you later.' In a hearing offering few genuine surprise moments amid the bickering and claim-and-counter-claim, the Tory MP Stephen Barclay caught Adams off-guard when he asked whether she believed that generous severance payments were 'sweeteners' for senior staff. Adams replied that she thought the 'difficult' pay deals were 'sensible business decisions' and that she 'couldn't recall' using such a 'strange term' as 'sweetener'. However, Barclay then produced what he described as 'a leaked e-mail' (leaked by whom, he did not divulge) showing Adams using the phrase 'Can I get a sense of the sweetener?' in a message to her HR team. Moments later, a second MP interrupted proceedings to say that he, too, had now been sent the e-mail by some filthy Copper's Nark, somewhere. Adams stuck to her story, prompting Spanker Hodgey to accuse her of 'developing a habit of changing your evidence' to the committee. 'That's really unfair,' Adams whinged, looking like she might burst into tears at any moment. Mark Thompson unintentionally laid bare the BBC's true model of governance when, by reading out reports from the Daily Scum Mail and the Daily Torygraph - both, of course, terrific chums of the BBC at the best of times - which suggested that he made his BBC seem more focused on briefing newspapers than informing his colleagues on the broadcaster's sovereign body. During one of several disagreements about whom knew what and when about the Byford severance, Thompson resorted to reading from a Daily Scum Mail article about the former deputy director general's departure and settlement – in an attempt to prove that if details about the level of Byford's payout were in a national newspaper, then he must have briefed the Trust. This came after Kroll had repeatedly insisted that he and the Trust had 'not been fully briefed' about Byford's settlement in October 2010. 'You didn't need to wait for the NAO, you just needed to read the Daily Mail on 12 October [2010],' Thompson responded. 'We briefed the entire thing [to the press], because we thought we needed to be transparent.' He added: 'Why would we brief the Daily Mail correctly and not the Trust?" But Kroll replied: 'That is exactly the question.'

In the profoundly unlikely setting of the public accounts committee on Monday, we witnessed a first-class display of why the BBC's in-house drama remains the envy of the world. There were no top hats, no barouche landau taking a picnic party to Box Hill, no sonic screwdrivers or deerstalkers and, certainly, no happy endings. Although most of those probably wished they could borrow The Doctor's TARDIS and go back in time to put right what once when, savagely, wrong. Instead, a line of metaphorically and literally red-faced executives sat shoulder to shoulder, barely controlling their seething animosity toward each another, during a systematic and riveting three-hour grilling by MPs led by Spanker Hodgey. The issue in hand being the remuneration and in particular severance payments made to top managers at the corporation, which exceeded not only contractual obligations but also, it would seem, public and political tolerance and common sense. The advance publicity had assured us that this would essentially be a bare-knuckled prize fight between former director general Thompson and Trust chairman, Patten. The issue was whether redundancy payments made to very senior executives at the corporation had been properly communicated to the Trust and whether Thompson had misled both the governing body and parliament. As Thompson is now chief executive of the New York Times, one might have imagined that transatlantic viewing figures would have been high, particularly as it had been suggested in the British press that Thompson's job and reputation could be on the line. However, there might have been a miscalculation as to how much American journalists actually care about stuff like their boss paying out enormous redundancy cheques to all and sundry. Colleagues at the New York Times marvelled at Thompson's ability to remain calm and in post throughout the rocky period around the Savile fiasco disclosures, when his knees were barely under the desk on Forty First and Eighth Avenue. As it is, Thompson came away relatively unscathed by the encounter, and certainly in too much of a fog of unresolved detail to dent his new career too much. By contrast, the governance system of the BBC seemed to be the main casualty of the bruising encounter. It seemed that Patten, for instance, was not aware of the 'full importance' of severance payments, such as that handed out to Byford. This was not an issue, he insisted, that had been 'in the induction pack.' Leaving aside the unlikely event that anyone would ever actually read a BBC Trust induction pack, the idea that the chairman of the Trust would not know that the atmosphere around top BBC salaries was not an issue of intense public interest - not to mention toxic internal tension - is highly implausible. To underline this point, in a bizarre turn of events, Thompson read out that piece from the Daily Scum Mail, outlining the size of Byford's pay-off. The complexities of who wrote what in which memo gave way to one overriding impression that the governance structure of the BBC is, as Spanker Hodgey noted earlier, 'broken.' The fact is that the BBC, like so many other cultural organisations, relies on good faith and strong leadership to work. It would seem that in the recent past there has been a deficit of both. It was hard to hear the evidence presented to the committee and not conclude that Patten is too incurious and political to represent the interests of the ordinary licence fee payer like you and me, dear blog reader. And, that Thompson has, at least, the knack of being better prepared for a difficult meeting. The danger now is that the incompetence of the present governance regime will be mistaken for the unsuitability of the structure full stop. The irresistible urge is to rejig BBC governance every time there is a crisis, and sometimes the crisis is sufficiently large for this to actually happen, as in the broadcast of an inaccurate report about a government dossier relating to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2003 and which lead to The Hutton Inquiry and subsequently abolishing of the BBC governors in favour of the Trust. For the BBC, the problem seems to be finding top managers on both the operational and governance side of the organisation who are thoroughly and wholeheartedly committed to the public service mission, even when it comes at inevitable personal cost to themselves. And, who have a backbone. It would be a dreadful shame if the default position on resetting the BBC's mission started with an organisational chart rather than with the people who occupy the positions.
The BBC Trust is 'under review', the former lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt has said, in remarks that will fuel speculation that the body will be scrapped. Although, what the fuck any of that has to do with the oily waste-of-space glake since he no longer holds the lack of culture portfolio - thank Christ - is another question entirely. The vile and odious rascal Hunt claimed that the Trust had been flawed since it began its work in 2007 after the governance of the BBC was changed in the wake of the row over The Hutton Inquiry. The vile and odious rascal Hunt, who is now health secretary and busy twatting-up another British institution, the NHS, was asked about the Trust on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. The vile and odious rascal Hunt said that he and his replacement as lack of culture secretary - the vile and odious rascal Miller - 'took a similar view.' He said: 'It is a matter for my successor to decide on that.' Yes, it is. So shut the hell up about stuff that's got nothing to do with you, you odious fraction of a man. But, of course, he didn't because people in politics just love the sound of their own voice. 'I think both she and I have always said that the BBC Trust is under review. It hasn't been perfect from the time it was set up.' The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that the government is planning to hand regulation of the BBC to Ofcom. Primary legislation would be needed for the changes that would see the BBC run along the same lines as Channel Four, which is publicly owned but overseen by Ofcom. There would be a single BBC board with the director general and other executives and a non-executive chairman. The changes would be implemented in January 2017, when the renewed BBC charter starts.

And, still on the subject of scum politicians though, this time, on the other side of the House, the Labour party has demanded a written apology from the new editor of BBC2's Newsnight after he described a member of the shadow cabinet as 'boring' in a Twitter posting. Which, some might argue is a matter of opinion which, in a free society, anyone should be free to say. Others may disagree. But, they're wrong. Ian Katz, the former deputy editor of the Gruniad Morning Star, described Rachel Reeves' appearance on the show as 'boring snoring' in a tweet late on Monday which he had intended to send as a private direct message. Katz, in only his second week in charge of the BBC2 show, displayed zero backbone when immediately apologised for the message which he described as 'ill-judged.' Oh, for Christ's sake - be A Man and stick to your guns. if you think she's boring, say so, don't weasel. But Labour has since sent an e-mail to Katz demanding 'a full written public apology' for the comment, which it said 'undermines confidence' in Newsnight's 'impartiality and fairness' Which, of course, it doesn't of the sort, it just means that one person thinks one of their MPs is a bit boring. it's not a crime. Another Labour MP, John Denham, appeared to suggest, again on Twitter, that he would not be appearing on the programme as a result of the comment. Oh, how very fourth form, John. What are you, twelve'Ian Katz helped me answer whether I wanted to go from Southampton to Glasgow to appear on Newsnight,' tweeted Denham. Katz's tweet, visible to his twenty six thousand followers and since deleted, referenced shadow treasury chief secretary Reeves' appearance on the show after she was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman. 'Tnks [sic] except for boring snoring Rachel Reeves,' he wrote. 'Playout was fun tho [sic], wasn't it? Telly much netter [sic] than snooooozepapers, innit.' The post prompted an apparently sarcastic reply from shadow treasury chief secretary Reeves, who simply said 'thanks.' Katz subsequently apologised for the 'ill-judged' comment, which he said was 'supposed' to have been a direct message to one individual Twitter user. He said: 'Accidentally sent very ill-judged tweet referring to Rachel Reeves MP's appearance on Newsnight. Thought [it] was DM but in any circs [sic] wrong. Have apologised.' But Labour sent Katz an e-mail demanding a full public apology for the 'completely unacceptable' comment. The message, sent by the party, said: 'We would like to express our anger and disappointment at your tweet following Newsnight's interview with Rachel Reeves. It is completely unacceptable for a senior BBC editor to have expressed this view, whether or not you intended for it to be made public. It is vitally important that the Labour party, our shadow cabinet and Newsnight viewers have confidence in the impartiality and fairness of your programme, and the criteria on which guests and interviews are judged. This incident undermines that confidence and it is important that this is redressed. Although a tweet of apology has been made, a full written public apology should be made by the end of the day.' Yadda, yadda, yadda. Crass and ignorant bullies.

From the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous. After all the VMAs backlash, one would have thought that teen-pop-sensation an'ting Miley Cyrus would have discovered that it's not, generally, a good idea to treat other people as props. Yet it doesn't seem like the pop singer has, quite, learned that lesson yet. That dry-humping a foam finger is old news, of course, but the twenty-year-old appears to be looking for new ways to shock those who want to be shocked. Cyrus performed her hit single 'We Can't Stop' on Saturday during an appearance on the German TV show Schlagg Den Raab, backed by a band of dwarves whom she dubbed The Boos. During the performance, Cyrus spanked the female dwarf who joined her on stage. Presumably, she'd been a very naughty dwarf. Just a guess. Can we go back to taking about politics, I prefer it?
FOX is to shoot a US remake of the BBC3 comedy Dead Boss. The original starred Sharon Horgan and broadcast over six episodes in June and July 2012 before it was cancelled due to lack of interest. FOX's version - which again follows a woman falsely convicted and imprisoned for killing her boss - will be written by Suburgatory's Patricia Breen, Deadline reports. Horgan will executive produce the US version alongside Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment. Horgan and Kaplan previously developed a US remake of the former's other BBC3 comedy Pulling and also worked on two original comedy projects - Bad Mom and Bad Management. FOX has given Dead Boss a put-pilot commitment, meaning that the network will have to pay a fee if it does not air the episode - increasing the likelihood of a series pick-up.

House of Commons Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans has been arrested on suspicion of indecent assault and 'sexual touching' of two further alleged victims. The fifty five-year-old Ribble Valley MP - best known on this blog for his December 2009 whinging about the amount of David Tennant on the BBC had previously been arrested by Lancashire Police on suspicion of rape, sexual assault and three indecent assaults. The new offences are alleged to have been committed in London between 2002 and 2009. The Conservative MP has denied any wrongdoing. He now faces seven sexual assault allegations but has yet to be charged. The original rape and sexual assault allegations, made in May this year, are understood to relate to alleged incidents in Pendleton between July 2009 and March 2013. Three further indecent assault allegations emerged the following month and are claimed to have occurred in Blackpool and London between 2003 and 2011. All of the allegations involve men in their twenties. In a statement on Tuesday, Lancashire Police said: '[Mr Evans] has subsequently today been arrested on suspicion of indecent assault and sexual touching of two further victims. He will be interviewed about these new allegations at a police station in Lancashire during the course of the day. These new offences are alleged to have been committed in London between 2002 and 2009.' Evans arrived at Preston police station just before nine o'clock in the morning, accompanied by his brief. He smiled and said 'thanks for coming' to members of the press who had gathered outside. One imagines he was being sarcastic. Evans was met inside the station by detectives waiting to question him. In May, Evans dismissed the original allegations against him as 'completely false', and said they had been made by two people whom he had 'regarded as friends.' Elected as one of three Commons Deputy Speakers in 2010, he has stepped aside from his duties in that role since his arrest, but has continued to work as an MP. Police investigating the original allegations searched Evans' Commons office in May. Commons Speaker John Bercow said that he had consulted the attorney general and the solicitor general before granting the police's request and had also sought the advice of the clerk of the House, who advises the Speaker on procedure and parliamentary privilege.

Google is releasing a five-part YouTube documentary about The Clash to promote the digital release of remastered versions of five of their LPs on its Google Play store. The Audio Ammunition documentary lasts just under an hour, and draws on unseen footage of the late Joe Strummer, and new interviews with his surviving band-mates talking about the writing and recording process for the five studio LPs. It's not the first time Google has released this kind of documentary, or 'Mini-docs' as the company describes them. Previous recipients of the treatment include The Rolling Stones, Mötley Crüe and Busta Rhymes. 'We try to do at least one of these a quarter, although we don't always pull out all the stops for a mega production like this,' says Tim Quirk, who as Google's head of global content programming, oversaw the project, which was a collaboration with the band and label Sony Music. 'We'd been talking to Sony for a long time about what we might do, but the moment a light-bulb went off over my head was when they told me they'd uncovered lots of unseen, unused interview footage with Joe Strummer,' says Quirk. 'I thought "oh, fifteen-twenty minutes, that's fine, I can get three or four usable minutes out of that." But it was hours and hours: more than two dozen DVDs. It was from when they sat down to do [2000 documentary] Westway to the World: Joe in front of a camera being interviewed about the entire arc of the band's career.' In the music industry's crosser moments with Google, the company is often accused of valuing technology over music: algorithms over the creative arts. Quirk doesn't fit into that stereotype. Before his current role overseeing music, books, apps and video merchandising within Google, he was Vice President of programming at subscription music service Rhapsody. Before that, he was a music journalist, and before that he was a frontman himself, for punk band Too Much Joy. 'The Clash literally changed my life, so you can imagine what it was like spending a week watching these DVDs on my bus ride to and from work, taking extensive notes, and then sitting down with Mick and Paul and Topper for the new interviews,' he says. 'London Calling, as far as I'm concerned, is the greatest album in the history of the universe. When we got to that part of the interviews, that was my first question: "how does it feel to have written the best album ever?" It was awkward, it made them uncomfortable, but I had to say it because it's true!' Naturally, there's a commercial motive behind the documentary: to persuade people to buy the remastered LPs on Google Play, or listen to them through the Google Play All Access subscription service. 'The way you make a subscription service work is by constantly turning people on to new music, but "new" doesn't have to mean it was released last week. It just has to be new to that individual customer,' says Quirk. 'I've felt for a long time that Joe Strummer should be idolised in a way that he's not necessarily been. You see Bob Marley and John Lennon on posters and T-shirts all over the place, but I'm not sure why you don't see the same thing with Joe. Although you do in my office.' Quirk sees The Clash as fitting into a narrow line of bands whose impact went far beyond their fanbases to shift the direction of popular (rock) music. 'In the Sixties you had The Beatles and The Stones. In the Seventies, The Sex Pistols and The Clash. In terms of rock music, Nirvana was the next one. That to me is the pantheon,' he says. 'I was thirteen or fourteen when I first heard The Clash, and they were really important: they instantly made the music I'd been listening to feel like a cartoon.' The documentary is also aimed at communicating this to younger YouTube and Google Play users, a decent chunk of whom may not even have been born when the band released their fifth LP Combat Rock in 1982. Google commissioned some modern bands to perform Clash songs for the project, with Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, Surfer Blood, Kurt Vile and Slipknot's Corey Taylor all choosing songs from London Calling to cover the songs in their own styles. Quirk says it's the interviews that make Audio Ammunition shine, though, as they did for the previous Rolling Stones and Mötley Crüe mini-docs on YouTube. 'Even when people are a big, jaded rock act, when they start talking about the music, they become the fanboys who started the band in the first place,' he says. 'All the celebrity bullshit goes out the window, and you get a visceral sense of what it was like hanging out in the studio making those songs. It's very easy for that youthful passion to get beaten out of you in the industry.' He admits the same thing can happen for journalists and others involved in music curation – a phrase that's very fashionable in 2013, as streaming music services strive to prove they're more than just search boxes for catalogues of tunes. Google may possess the most famous search box of all elsewhere in its business, but Quirk's team is focusing on editorial recommendations and – as shown by the mini-docs – creating new content around music. He says his experience at Rhapsody has taught him the importance of stepping back too. 'The truth is the average customer doesn't know who the hell you are, and they don't care. We take great pride in our knowledge and expertise, and we have an evangelical fervour to turn the world onto music, but we're also very humble,' says Quirk. 'It's more important to build an infrastructure that enables discovery than it is to stand in front of people and say "I am Tim Quirk, here are my recommendations." They need to feel like they're choosing their own adventure.'

The singer, campaigner and World Saviour, Saint Bob Geldof (you know, Peaches' dad) is to travel into space as a passenger on a commercial space flight. Is it too much to hope that he, you know, stays there?

Huge Laurie's six-part series on the Blues will start on 23 September on Radio 2. Each week, Huge will play a song with his acclaimed Copper Bottom Band and will trace the history of one of America's great arts from the music of Robert Johnson through Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf to the Blues of today.

Iain Stirling is to present a new comedy panel show for children, described as 'CBBC's answer to Mock The Week.' The Dog Ate My Homework is a school-based show with two teams of comedians, celebrity guests and a junior tackling 'off-the-wall questions, nonsensical studio games, and slapstick challenges.' Sounds shite. Stirling left his regular presenting job in the CBBC office earlier this year to concentrate on his stand-up, but at the time said that he had more 'unspecified projects' for the children's channel in the pipeline. He was nominated for a children's BAFTA in 2010 alongside puppeteer Phil Fletcher, the man behind his sidekick, Hacker the Dog. He has also presented the CBBC programmes Help! My Supply Teacher Is Magic, Twelve Again and All Over The Place. Six episodes of The Dog Ate My Homework are to be recorded in front of a studio audience in Glasgow later this month. The show was ordered by Cheryl Taylor after a successful pilot. Taylor last year became controller of CBBC – whose target audience is six to twelve-year-olds – after being a commissioner at BBC comedy.

A Brazilian team's physio stunned their opponents by making a controversial double save to prevent them scoring during a cup match, before being chased from the pitch by irate players and fans. Check it out, dear blog reader, it's reet laugh. Serie D club Aparecidence's physio sneaked onto the pitch during the game to block two attempts on goal from opposition side, Tuti. His efforts were enough to keep the game level at 2-2, sending Aparecidence through to the semi-finals on away goals. Tuti are reportedly appealing to get the result overturned.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, this one's for everyone on the Sixth Floor at the BBC. You greedy waste-of-space bastards.

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