Monday, September 23, 2013

No Pain, No Gain

The X Factor dropped around two hundred thousand punter from last week in the Saturday ratings according to overnight data. The latest audition episode of the banal ITV talent show was also down around seven hundred thousand viewers from last Sunday's show to 8.46 million at 8pm. Earlier, risible, odious Stepping Out was watched by 3.49m at 6.45pm, whilst crass and ludicrous overblown nonsense Through the Keyhole held steady at 4.21m at 9pm. On BBC1, the fiasco that is I Love My Country completely failed to entertain 2.91m at 6.45pm, while When Miranda Met Bruce interested 4.11m at 7.30pm. BBC2's The Making of Merkel with Andrew Marr appealed to six hundred and ninety one thousand at 8pm, while the Rebecca Hall thriller The Awakening was seen by 1.02m at 9.30pm. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping caught a bit of that his very self, as it happens. Rather decent, so it was. A quiet night on Channel Four was headed by the film Iron Man with 1.36m at 9pm, while Channel Fove's broadcast of Hang 'Em High brought in 1.07m at 9pm.

Downton Abbey returned to more than nine million overnight punters on Sunday evening. Full-of-his-own-importance Lord Snooty's ITV period drama's fourth series opener was seen by 9.12m at 9pm. This was down around seven hundred thousand punters from the previous series finale, but up 2.3m from the overnight audience for the 2012 Christmas special. The X Factor climbed to a new peak this series of 9.42m at 8pm for its final auditions episode. Earlier, Surprise, Surprise was watched by 4.56m at 7pm. On BBC1, Countryfile was seen by 6.24m at 7pm, followed by Antiques Roadshow with 5.29m at 8pm. The channel's new thriller, By Any Means, began with 4.11m at 9pm. Good cast. Pretty ropey script, though. Match Of The Day 2 pulled in 2.78m (one imagines it would have been far higher but many fans of The Scum decided to give it a miss, for obvious reasons). Earlier, the channel's highlights coverage of the Singapore Grand Prix was watched by 3.14m. BBC2's The Crane Gang was seen by 1.14m at 8pm, while the final episode of Simon Schama's deeply personal The Story of Jews brought in seven hundred and twenty thousand at 9pm. On Channel Four, Kevin McCloud's Man Made House attracted 1.24m at 8pm. The Big Fat Quiz Of The Eighties attracted 1.61m at 9pm. Channel Five's broadcast of Conan the Barbarian was seen by 1.00m at 9pm.

Here, meanwhile, are the final and consolidated figures for the Top Twenty Six programmes for week-ending 15 September 2013:-
1 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 10.20m
2 Coronation Street - Fri ITV - 10.05m
3 Doc Martin - Mon ITV - 8.70m
4 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.91m
5 Emmerdale - Fri ITV - 7.62m
6 The Great British Bake-Off - Tues BBC2 - 6.82m
7 New Tricks - Tues BBC1 - 6.56m
8 Countryfile - Sat BBC1 - 6.22m
9 World Cup Qualifier: Ukraine Versus England - Fri BBC1 - 6.19m
10 Vera - Sun ITV - 5.55m*
11 What Remains - Sun BBC1 - 5.47m
12 Antiques Roadshow - Sat BBC1 - 5.34m
13 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.05m
14 Surprise, Surprise - Sun ITV - 4.89
15 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.82m
16 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.77m
17 BBC O'Clock News - Sun BBC1 - 4.63m
18 Who Do You Think You Are? - Wed BBC1 - 4.57m
19 Six O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.51m
20 Through The Keyhole - Sat ITV - 4.25m*
21 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 4.06m
22 Educating Yorkshire - Thurs Channel Four - 4.00m
23= Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 3.95m
23= Match of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 3.95m
25 Mrs Brown's Boys - Sat BBC1 - 3.90m
26 Whitechapel - Sat BBC1 - 3.61*m
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 Peaky Blinders (3.05m) and University Challenge (2.75m). The terrestrial debut of the movie Paul topped Channel Four's list (3.00m) behind Educating Yorkshire's second superb audience figure. Celebrity Big Brother, inevitably, topped Channel Five's week (2.43m victims of society). The previous week Whitechapel's final, consolidated figure showed a considerable timeshift increase from the drama's initial overnight figure but, this time, that wasn't so much the case (albeit, HD figures are unavailable at this time). The Saturday episode of The X Factor was watched by 9.77m.

Now, a confession, dear blog reader. There is no Doctor Who news today. I know, I was surprised as well.
The number of senior BBC managers should be cut by more than half, according to Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust. Which is true and, indeed, they could probably make a useful start with him since he appears to do sod all to justify his existence. His comments back the Director General's plans to cut the number of managers at the corporation following a bruising battle with parliament over executive pay. Just two weeks after Patten and the former DG Mark Thompson both denied responsibility for massive pay-offs to senior managers between 2009 and 2012 and tried to blame each other for the fiasco which ensued, Patten has said that viewers do not expect BBC bosses to get 'sky high commercial rewards' and he wants to see a smaller, more accountable group in charge. Speaking at the Prix Italia in Turin on Sunday evening, he said: 'There are still too many senior managers, around 2.5 per cent of the workforce at the last count. I'd like to see this cut to more like one per cent by 2015 at the latest to create a smaller group of people more clearly accountable for spending the licence fee. 'It has been, and will continue to be, a painful process, but it is necessary if we are to secure public confidence.' His words echo those of the new Director General, Tony Hall, who has said that he will light 'a bonfire of the boards' in an attempt to cut bureaucracy at the Beeb. Hall said he had been 'impressed' on a recent trip to Silicon Valley by Google's 'fail fast' culture. 'To launch an initiative, one of our colleagues at Google had to speak to two people,' said Hall. 'To get agreement to do the BBC's first e-book, someone at the BBC had to speak to more than two dozen.' Patten, who arrived at the BBC two years ago - and has done nowt of any consequence since - found the corporation was 'full of talented and innovative people' but he had also 'found too many bosses who worked hard but were paid too much.' In his speech he said: 'Licence fee payers don't expect the BBC to pay sky-high commercial rewards to people who work for a public service. They do expect the BBC to deliver the highest quality programmes and services.' A spokeswoman for the BBC Trust said the figures were in line with a programme agreed in 2011 which meant the numbers of management would be reduced from six hundred and forty to two hundred and twenty by 2015.

Eurovision organisers have announced changes to the song contest's jury rules, amid allegations of bribery. From next year, the names of each country's jury will be revealed ahead of the competition in an effort to 'increase openness and accountability.' For the first time, individual juror scores will also be published immediately after the final. The changes come after it was alleged votes had been bought for the Azeri contestant at this year's contest. Previously, the identity of jury members - whose votes account for fifty per cent of the points each country awards it competitors - was not disclosed until after the final. To increase diversity, music industry professionals can now only take a seat on the jury if they have not participated during the previous two editions of the contest. 'Tighter rules and increased openness are important for The Eurovision Song Contest to build on its success,' Jon Ola Sand, the executive supervisor of the contest, said. 'We want to make sure participants, viewers and fans know that we have done, and will always do, our utmost to secure a fair result. We believe in the independence of every jury member [and] I believe the fact their votes are on display will help them vote independently.' Organisers have been looking into recent claims that Azerbaijan - which came second this year - offered money to other countries in exchange for points. Sands said the results of their investigation would 'take time' as they were 'doing this very thoroughly. It's important to find who is behind the alleged attempt, and if we find any wrongdoing that originates from a participating broadcaster, the Reference Group and the TV Committee will impose sanctions according to the rules of The Eurovision Song Contest,' he said. 'We want to first put an end to these speculations, and clamp down on attempts to unfairly influence the voting.' Last week, Croatia announced it would be withdrawing from next year's contest, citing financial reasons. The country has not qualified for the final since 2009. It became the sixth country to pull out, along with Andorra, Luxembourg, Monaco, Morocco and Slovakia. Meanwhile Turkey - which snubbed the contest this year citing dissatisfaction with the rules - has created its own rival. Turkvision will see twenty countries and autonomous regions populated with Turkic minorities participate in the yearly event, the first of which will be held in Eskisehir this December. Next year's Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Copenhagen, with the final on 10 May.

A sound-proofed box in a television studio may not be a dream romantic setting for many, but then most lovers would probably not leap out of bed for a post-coital interview with Mariella Frostrup either. Yet this is the format of a new Channel Four programme which aims to 'reclaim sex from pornography' by 'delving between the sheets of British people.' The show, called Sex Box, features three couples invited to have sex - big, hot sweaty, up-the-arse sex if they so wish - in an opaque cube before being interviewed by Frostrup and 'a panel of experts.' Or, should that be 'sexsspurts'? The trysts will, tragically, take place away from the gaze of the cameras – albeit in the middle of a television studio with all manner on key grips and best boys watching – in an hour-long pre-recorded programme. Frostrup, the Observer's agony aunt who fronts the show - and who, according to Half Man Half Biscuit 'does lots of voice-overs and nothing much else but she seems to get by' - said that she anticipated some viewers and critics would 'react with horror' at the new format. No shit. But, she continued that she hoped the programme would 'provoke a mature, intelligent discussion' about sex in modern Britain. 'I approached it with great trepidation and a degree of scepticism, particularly about why we needed a box, but ultimately I think it was a really, really mature – surprisingly for television – look at a subject we've allowed to proliferate in its worst manifestations and refuse to confront,' she claimed. In the show, the cameras stop rolling as twentysomethings Rachel and Dean are the first to enter the, if you will, 'sex box' and, ahem, get it on. Next to step into the four-metre-square cube were long-term lovers Matt and John and, later, childhood sweethearts Lynette and Des. The ins-and-outs (s'cuse the pun) of their sex lives are then discussed by a panel including 'relationship adviser' Tracey Cox, 'sex columnist' Dan Savage and the author Phillip Hodson. At least two of whom appear to have, rather atypically for Channel Four, 'that's not a real job'-type jobs. Presumably, they were acquired from Location, Location, Location's corral of middle class home county types who would all shite in their own pants and run a bastard mile if they ever had to live a day in the real world. Just a guess, you understand. While the couples might be firmly out of their comfort zone, the show is a return to familiar territory for Channel Four. The programme is set to be broadcast on 7 October – at the watershed-friendly time of 10pm – as part of its Campaign for Real Sex season, which follows a long tradition of risqué broadcasting on the channel. Its former chief executive Michael Grade was once dubbed 'Britain's pornographer-in-chief' by, of course, the Daily Scum Mail. But Channel Four's head of factual programming, Ralph Lee, said that there was 'nothing salacious' about the show and that 'strangely it's quite a chaste programme – there's no sex in it. The explosion of online pornography is one of the stories of our time and this absolutely intends to be an open, adult, quite deep conversation about sex,' he said. 'The experts we have are not flippant people. That said, there is a levity to the conversation. It's not a massive furrowed-brow type conversation because there's something mischievous when you watch it. We're confident there's a sincere motive behind it.' Channel Four's Campaign for Real Sex season begins on 30 September with Porn On The Teenage Brain - previewed on this blog in an earlier update - a look at the world of pornography by former Loaded editor Martin Daubney. That will be followed by a documentary about a group of women's pursuit for better sex, called The Week The Women Came (fnaar, fnaar) and another introducing three pornography fans to their favourite adult movie stars, titled Date My Porn Star.

The TV presenter and artist Rolf Harris has appeared in court charged with nine counts of indecent assault and four of making indecent images of children. Rolf gave his name and confirmed his address during his brief appearance at Westminster Magistrates' Court. His case was referred to Southwark Crown Court and he is due to appear there on 7 October. The eighty three-year-old was first arrested in March by police investigating historical allegations of child abuse.

Former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell's libel case against the Sun over its controversial 'plebgate' coverage has hit a legal hitch which could mean his solicitors end up recovering none of their fees even if they win against the tabloid. In a setback for his legal team, the high court has told the former chief whip that the cost of his libel action will be restricted to the cost of the court fees for the claim which would normally be in the region of two thousand smackers. Judge Victoria McCloud imposed the sanction of capping the fees after the law firm failed to get documents relating to budget planning for the case filed with the court in time for a deadline. Costs for the case, if it goes all the way to trial, are estimated at one million knicker for both sides. If the judgment stands, even if it loses, the Sun would not have to pay Mitchell's legal fees. Solicitors Atkins Thomson is taking McCloud's judgment to the court of appeal and is expecting a hearing in October or November. The company has been one of the main law firms dealing with civil litigation against the Sun's former stablemate, the Scum of the World, in relation to allegations of phone-hacking. It told McCloud at a hearing in June that one of the reasons it was unable to get the budget preparation done in time was because it was a small law firm and was busy with 'significant prior preparation' for a hearing in relation to the hacking litigation at the high court. It claimed that its firm had just two London partners and two of its three solicitors were on maternity leave. Alleged 'sources' allegedly quoted by the Gruniad Morning Star suggest that Mitchell is determined to press ahead with his libel action even if it costs him everything he has. His solicitors and barrister are operating on a no-win-no-fee basis so he does not consider the legal hitch to be a matter for him. Although, it would be if he won. Mitchell launched his libel action against the Sun over its story last September that Mitchell allegedly used the word 'pleb' about police officers at the gates to Downing Street. He has admitted to swearing during the incident but has constantly denied using the words 'pleb.' He has claimed that he is a a victim of 'a stitch up' and is seeking damages and an apology from the Sun which has said it will 'defend his claim vigorously.' The Sun is sticking by its story and, like Mitchell, is intending to go all the way to trial. The so-called 'plebgate' scandal has led to a police investigation and several arrests. Five police officers and three members of the public arrested in connection with the Mitchell debacle answer their bail this week. The five police include a fifty two-year-old diplomatic protection officer arrested in connection with an e-mail he is alleged to have allegedly sent to the deputy chief whip in which he allegedly claimed to be an alleged member of the public who allegedly witnessed the alleged affair, even though he had not been present. Allegedly. A relative of the officer was also arrested as part of the inquiry. One of the two officers on duty when the altercation with Mitchell took place – a forty six-year-old female constable – is also among those arrested. The officers have been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office or the unauthorised disclosure of information to the media. All those arrested will return to police stations this week to answer their bail. But it is not expected that any charging decision will be made at this time. The Crown Prosecution Service is still waiting for more evidence from the Metropolitan police from its ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident, whether officers were involved in a conspiracy and how the log of the altercation subsequently reached the media. The Metropolitan police handed a file of evidence to the CPS in March but prosecutors asked for more information and since then the police say three separate pieces of information have come into the investigation. Four other Met Police officers have been given notice that they face potential disciplinary action in relation to the case. The IPCC and the Metropolitan police were forced to defend the investigation last week after the former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald said it was 'quite outrageous' that it had gone on for so long. Jack Straw, the former home secretary, added his voice to the criticism of the police emanating from Westminster, by writing to Theresa May to 'seek answers' over the ongoing police inquiry. The investigation is being handled by one of Bernard Hogan-Howe's most trusted officers, deputy assistant commissioner Pat Gallan, who worked with him in the Merseyside force.

The founder of a website which provides careers advice to graduates claims that she was dropped from a BBC programme because she refused to abide by a legal request about what she could and could not say. And, she then went running to the Gruniad Morning Star like the school sneak with the story. How very grown-up. Tanya de Grunwald, who runs the Graduate Fog site, was booked to appear on BBC Breakfast last Friday to talk about the subject of unpaid internships. On Thursday evening, some half-an-hour after catching a Manchester-bound train from London ('at the BBC's expense' as the Gruniad, sneeringly, notes) she was called by a researcher questioning what she was prepared to say. This was followed up by an e-mail from the show's producer, who wrote: 'We cannot infer that ... any employer is breaking the law by not paying interns – this has been absolutely specified by the BBC duty lawyer. We are asking you to comment on the wider point about whether internships should, routinely, be paid regardless of current law.' De Grunwald responded by arguing that, in her opinion, many employers are breaking the law by not paying interns, and that it was 'important' viewers knew that. The producer, claims de Grunwald, insisted that she had been advised by the BBC's duty lawyer that this 'claim' was only 'an opinion.' Ignoring, for a second, the issue of who is right and who is wrong about this (potentially legally important) point, a lawyer or a blogger (yer actual Keith Telly Topping has no idea in that regard), Tanya continued to argue her case and, when her train was ten minutes from Manchester – the producer left a voicemail saying that she was 'terribly sorry' but the 'editorial decision from on-high' was that 'we won't be able to proceed with the interview as planned tomorrow morning.' Presumably, because they didn't want to get sued by someone taking umbrage. So, Tanya ended up spending a night at the Salford Media City Holiday Inn ('double room fee: one hundred and nine pounds' the Gruniad sneers, thoroughly enjoying this bit of top Copper's Narking with a sick agenda smeared all over it). It's probably a safe bet that Tanya won't be asked back onto Breakfast any time soon. Hopefully, no middle-class revolutionaries from the Gruniad will be either.
Monday is the fortieth anniversary of the first Northern Soul all-nighter at the Wigan Casino, and also Paul Mason's first day at Channel Four News. Coincidence? Probably not, as Wednesday sees Mason's BBC swansong as the presenter of a Culture Show special looking back at the Wigan soul scene which he was part of as a teenager. 'The parallels are not spelt out but are there to be inferred: between the vibrant, warm, liberating Casino community and ... presumably not the timid, scandal-mired, back-biting BBC, but Channel Four News, where the latest Beeb defector will enjoy a "free-ranging" role as cultural and digital editor, instead of having to be gloomy about the Eurozone crisis yet again' writes some sneering arsehole of no importance at, of course, the Gruniad. Judging by the moves he shows off in the programme, Newsnight's big mistake may have been not allowing him to use dance to, say, 'There's a Ghost In My House' or 'Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)' to illustrate his reports on economics.
Still, vaguely, on the subject of music - well, sort of - Mumford & Sons have announced that they are 'taking some time off' after their current tour ends. What an absolute tragedy. Next.

Members of The Richard III Society (for, indeed, there is such a thing, dear blog reader) have withdrawn funding meant for the king's tomb at Leicester Cathedral because they are 'unhappy with the design.' The cathedral's plans were unveiled last week with the chairman of the society describing them as 'inspired.' However, Philippa Langley, who sparked the search for the remains, said that it was 'unfit for a medieval warrior king.' The cathedral said it 'understood' the group's concerns but 'could not be held hostage' to the money. Members of the society had pledged about forty thousand smackers towards the tomb but Langley said they (or, at least, some of them) had contacted her to ask for their money back. The remains of the king, who died in The Battle of Bosworth in 1485, were discovered by archaeologists under a Leicester car park in September 2012. Church authorities originally wanted a flat slab to mark the burial site but changed the plans 'because of feedback', revealing the raised tomb on Friday. However, Langley said unhappy international members of the society had contacted her. 'They think it is a very difficult design,' she said. She added: 'The feeling is that it is too modern and stylised, and designed with a cathedral in mind - not a medieval warrior king. I pretty much agree with them.' However, she said she hoped the group could 'continue talks' with the cathedral. On Friday, when the new design was unveiled, the society chairman, Doctor Phil Stone, said it was 'beautiful. I think it is inspired,' he added. 'I was surprised at the depth of the cross but have been reassured by the thinking behind it.' Canon Peter Hobson said it appeared some of the 'Richard III devotees' were only approaching the design from their own perspective whereas the cathedral had to consider all aspects. That includes planning restrictions placed by the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England as well as keeping it as a place of worship. 'Philippa, and those writing to her, bring just a particular perspective. We understand it but we don't think it can be the last word,' he said. 'We would [rather have the support of The Richard III Society] but I suppose if you put it that way I would have to say not at any price.' He added that the cathedral had 'never relied' on the offer of money from the society to pay for the tomb. The reburial of Richard is further overshadowed by a legal challenge by distant relatives who want him to be buried in York. The cathedral's proposals will now go before the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, a national planning body, with a final decision expected in late October.

England have given Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance a surprise call-up to their Ashes squad to tour Australia this winter. The twenty three-year-old left-hander, who was born in Zimbabwe, is uncapped at test level and has only played a single one-day international for England. Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes and ex-Ireland pace bowler Boyd Rankin, who are both yet to play a test, also make the squad, as do left-arm spinner Monty Panesar, top-order batsman Michael Carberry and seamer Chris Tremlett. Jonny Bairstow, as well as battling to reclaim the number six spot, will also act as back-up wicketkeeper to vice-captain Matt Prior. However, seamers Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions miss out on the seventeen-man squad, along with spinner James Tredwell and opener Nick Compton. Bresnan is currently sidelined with a stress fracture in his back. 'He will travel to Australia with the squad to maximise his rehab opportunities with the medical team and coaches who will monitor his progress,' said national selector Geoff Miller. The Ashes series begins in Brisbane on 21 November, with the fifth and final test starting in Sydney on 2 January 2014. Despite their lack of experience at test level, both Rankin and Stokes have impressed for England in the recent ODI series defeat by Australia. The height of Rankin, Tremlett and Steven Finn also appears to have worked in their favour, with the pitches in Australia expected to offer significant bounce. Panesar, who made the last of his forty eight test appearances in March, has got the nod ahead of Tredwell as reserve spinner behind first-choice Graeme Swann. Monty has earned a call-up despite his recent, ahem, 'indiscretions' at a Brighton nightclub in August. He subsequently left Sussex to join Essex on loan. 'He's appreciated he's made errors and he's very sure that those errors are behind him now,' explained Miller. 'He's been selected because that's been rectified. He's an experienced international player and it's up to him to actually produce the goods for us. He's very prepared to let his bowling do the talking for him, so I'm prepared to accept that.' Ballance has played only one ODI, which came against Ireland in September. However, he averages 52.17 after sixty four first-class matches for Yorkshire. 'There are no left-field selections,' claimed Miller. 'He's played very well for Yorkshire so it's not a left-field selection, it's considered.' Miller added that picking Durham's Stokes, who was sent home from last winter's England Lions tour of Australia for disciplinary reasons, was about keeping 'one eye on the future. You obviously pick players to win the series, but we have to think about the future as well, the immediate future and a bit further on,' said Miller. 'He's proved over the last year or so that he's developing his game rapidly. He's an exciting prospect. He comes into the squad to feel the atmosphere and we know he's capable of doing a job for us in the all-rounder position.' England have also named a sixteen-strong performance squad, which will fly to Australia on 14 November and act as back-up to the main party, playing three-day matches in Brisbane and Perth as well as undertaking training and conditioning work. Miller added: 'The England Performance Programme provides an excellent opportunity for those players identified as having considerable talent to train together in an England environment throughout the winter and further develop as cricketers and this is an exciting young squad who have impressed in domestic cricket recently. Ballance, Rankin and Stokes have all come through the EPP in recent years and have put in strong performances for their counties and England teams to earn an opportunity to step into the Test environment.'

King of the Mods yer actual Sir Bradley Wiggins added the Tour Of Britain title to his growing collection of honours after sealing an emphatic victory in London. Wiggins, who won the Tour De France and Olympic time trial last year, had led since winning the third stage and began stage eight with a twenty six-second advantage. British road race champion - and Sir Brad's old mucker - Mark Cavendish won the concluding stage, his third stage win in this year's race. But Wiggins negotiated the ten-lap eight eight kilometre course along the Thames to retain his place at the top of the standings. Following a remarkable 2012 in which he was also knighted and voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Wiggo has been blighted by fitness problems this year. He had to pull out of the Giro d'Italia because of a chest infection and was unable to defend his Tour De France crown because of illness and injury. Wiggins' victory is a second successive home win in the event after Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, who did not compete this year, won it in 2012.
Former Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman believes the yer actual Sir Bradley Wiggins will be near his best at this week's Road World Championships after getting 'a good kicking' so far this year. Injury and illness meant that Wiggo had to drop out of the Giro D'Italia in the spring and missed the chance to defend his Tour De France title in July. Boardman said: 'Brad's had a turbulent year, but he needed it. Nothing motivates winners more than a good kicking.' Wiggins showed a return to form as he won the Tour Of Britain on Sunday and will compete in the elite men's individual time trial at the Road World Championships in Tuscany on Wednesday. It is an event he won silver in back in 2011, and he is joined by twenty four-year-old Alex Dowsett. Double Olympic champion Geraint Thomas, 2012 Tour Of Britain winner Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, Steve Cummings, Josh Edmondson, Mark Cavendish and Ian Stannard complete the British team for the elite men's road race. Lizzie Armitstead - who won Britain's first medal at London 2012 - will compete in Saturday's elite women's road race alongside Nikki Harris, Lucy Garner and team time trial winner Katie Colclough. Boardman - who won Britain's first Olympic cycling gold for seventy two years at Barcelona in 1992 - reckons Wiggins will be in better shape after this year's disappointments and is in good shape to compete in Florence. 'It certainly looks like he's seen the light at the end of the tunnel after the Tour Of Britain,' Boardman said. 'At the Tour Of Britain he looked better and looked in the right frame of mind. The world championship time trial has come at the right time. Disappointment is the biggest motivator for successful people and he's had a healthy dose of that this year.' In 2012 Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour De France and won his seventh Olympic medal with time trial gold in London. But Boardman reckons that he 'struggled' with increased expectations following his success. 'When you're hungry and you eat, you're not hungry any more', said Boardman. 'Everything he aimed for he got. But then there's the realisation that next year the slate is wiped clean. Everyone else has got much bigger expectations. When you're on the top step, you either win or you fail. There is no second place any more and that's a wholly different type of pressure.'

Shekih Yer Man City ensured dour, sour-faced Scotsman David Moyes' first derby as The Scum's manager ended in abject humiliation with a crushing 4-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium. In contrast to the despair of his opposite number, it was a day of delight for new City boss Manuel Pellegrini as he watched the rampant noisy neighbours make a powerful statement about their Premier League ambitions. Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure gave City a commanding half-time lead and any slim hopes of a Scum recovery were snuffed out by further goals from Aguero and Samir Nasri within five minutes of the restart. Wayne Rooney's late free-kick offered nothing in the way of consolation for Moyes or The Scum on a day of rank and total embarrassment which will sit uncomfortably alongside City's 6-1 win at Old Trafford two seasons ago. The Scum may have been without Robin van Persie because of a groin strain but the absence of one player - no matter how significant - cannot account for the manner in with Moyes' side were utterly outclassed.

Meanwhile Blunderland have sacked their head coach, the notorious ex-right-winger Paolo Di Canio, after a piss poor start to the season left the Black Cats bottom of the Premier League table. The forty five-year-old Italian has won three of his thirteen matches since being appointed in March and taken only one point from five league games this campaign. I'll tell you what, dear blog reader, being the manager's chauffeur at the Stadium of Plight must be such an interesting job. I mean, you get to meet so many different people. 'An announcement will be made in due course regarding a permanent successor,' read a club statement. The Mackems are now looking for their sixth permanent manager in less than five years. Coach Kevin Ball will take charge of the first-team squad in the interim. The statement added: 'The club would like to place on record its thanks to Paolo and his staff and wishes them well for the future.' Ball's opening duty is to prepare the side for Tuesday's home Capital One Cup third-round match against Peterborough at the Stadium of Plight. Blunderland then host the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws on Sunday and The Scum on 5 October, with the Wear-Tyne derby against yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle on 27 October. After guiding Swindon to promotion from League Two in 2012, Di Canio succeeded Martin O'Neill at the Stadium of Shite on 31 March but later admitted that he feared the sack in the immediate controversy over his far-right political beliefs. Embarking upon his first Premier League job, Di Canio had to fend off questions about whether he held fascist views. He was backed by Blunderland chairman, Ellis Short, and somewhat endeared himself to the fans with a 3-0 victory at yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle in his second game as boss. But Di Canio's men were thrashed 6-1 by the Aston Villains and failed to win their final three fixtures, finishing one place above the relegation zone. This season started with a home loss to Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance before the Wearsiders drew at Southampton and conceded nine goals in successive defeats against Crystal Palace, The Arse and, most recently, West Bromwich Albinos. After the 3-0 loss at The Hawthorns on Saturday, Di Canio walked over to face the travelling supporters, who made their own feelings clear by singing 'you're getting sacked in the morning'. Turns out, they weren't quite right, it took until Sunday evening in the event. 'I absorb the insults as it's part of the game - if I was in their position I'd be furious,' he said. 'But I'm professional: twenty four hours a day I work for this cause. One day their reaction will be a different reaction. I knew that they were furious. I went to them because I wanted to see their faces. It's easy to go over when they're clapping or singing your name. I'm responsible but my head is up. I won't give up. It's obvious we're still not together. We don't have many leaders in terms of desire to play with a premier style. I'm never going to change my regime. I am what I am. My way to manage the team is for the top, top level. I have to be clear to everyone - the board, the chairman, the fans - I'm never going to change. One day, if I receive the full support from the players, we will turn the corner.' Di Canio had publicly criticised some of his squad at the end of last season and worked with director of football Roberto De Fanti and chief scout Valentino Angeloni to sign fourteen new players in the summer. His spending cost nineteen million smackers in total and included AZ Alkmaar striker Jozy Altidore, Italy international Emanuele Giaccherini and The Arse goalkeeper Vito Mannone. But left-back Danny Rose returned to Stottingtot Hotshots following a loan spell, while Blunderland sold goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and, on transfer deadline day, forward Stephane Sessegnon to West Brom. It was later reported that a delegation of Blunderland players had approached the club's chief executive Margaret Byrne to complain about Di Canio before the Italian's sacking. A Sunday morning meeting, which turned heated, led to some senior players going to Byrne as they felt the situation with the manager had become untenable.

The long-awaited memoirs of the Test Match Special commentator Henry Blofeld his dear old self will soon be out, naturally full of anecdotes about TMS tomfoolery and malarkey, much of it surrounding the late Brian Johnston. Among the tales in the chapter on India is one about Johnston's efforts to avoid getting Delhi belly whilst on the tour there, including a milder dish which he called 'a Geoffrey Boycott curry': 'You still get the runs, but they come much more slowly.'
And finally for today, dear blog reader, a little cause for some celebration. Monday was be the first time that yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self had been in a gym since, I think, around 1986 (yer actual Keith Telly Topping had a brief flirtation with badminton and five-a-side in his early twenties!) So ... reports on what muscles he pulled are likely to be forthcoming later. At the gym yer actual Keith Telly Topping set himself the target of doing five miles on an exercise bike in fifteen minutes which was as much as he thought he could manage for a first go. Fifteen minutes and three seconds later yer actual Keith Telly Topping had a whopping 5.37 miles on the clock. Needless to say yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self was pure dead chuffed with this, so he was. He then went downstairs to the pool for a swim and a sauna and a lounge in the steam room and then after all that, he walked down the Shields Road to Morrisons to get some stuff for us tea. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping actually feels as if he's properly achieved something today that he didn't think he'd manage, dear blog reader. And, as a consequence he feels somewhat like a cycling God. (Just in case anyone was wondering, Gillian shouldn't feel left out in all this malarkey and shenanigans, yer actual Keith Telly Topping had already taken out out and about earlier in the day for a trip about the Tour De St Anthony's short course.)

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's something for you all to splash on your Hai Karate aftershave, hitch up yer Dan Dares and comb your significant facial hair with pride, dear blog reader. The 70s are back.

No comments: