Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Wigs & The Stories

Yer actual Matt Smith will begin shooting his final Doctor Who episode this Sunday. The actor recently shaved his head for a film role in Ryan Gosling's directorial début How To Catch A Monster and therefore Smudger his very self will, as a consequence, be wearing a syrup during the episode. Hopefully, it'll be a good one and won't look like a small fury animal has fallen asleep on his bonce. Speaking to somebody of no importance from ITV's notorious breakfast fiasco Daybreak at Tuesday night's GQ Men of the Year Awards, Smudger his very self revealed that he will wear the wig for his final performance in the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama. 'I [cut my hair] for a film,' he explained (which we all knew anyway), '[so] it means I have to wear a wig in Doctor Who. Which is a nightmare,' he continued. Think of the pay cheque, Matt, and lie back and think of England. And, stop scratching it or it'll only get worse. 'I'm excited - I start shooting the Christmas special [on] Sunday. It'll be sad - the end of a wonderful era' Smudger concluded.
Hot on the heels of the report that Smudger his very self starts filming on Sunday, the BBC rushed out a statement - on Twitter - that the read-through for the Christmas Special had taken place: 'Christmas starts early for the Doctor Who team! Here’s Matt Smith at today's Christmas Special read-through.' And, they posted a picture of Matt with the - as yet untitled - script. The BBC's official Doctor Who website added: 'Matt was in brilliant form at the read-through for this year’s Christmas Special, written by Steven Moffat. In fact, seeing him back in action as The Doctor made us want to fast forward to November to see the eagerly awaited fiftieth anniversary special.' Don't wish your lives away, guys, time is precious. Doctor Who teaches us that, if nothing else. Tweets on the read-through were also made by Doctor Who Monthly editor the very excellent Tom Spilsbury: 'The Doctor Who Christmas read-through was lovely - and rather moving. Matt Smith has been a terrific Doctor, but he's also a true gentleman.' Make-up designer Claire Pritchard said: 'Quite an emotional day at The Doctors today. He was reading a story.' Having been working on Steven Moffat's other series, Sherlock, she added: 'Is it rude and disloyal to leave a consulting detective for a Doctor? I feel dirty.' With principal photography due to kick-off on Sunday, the first indication of a filming location came from Labour councillor Dilwar Ali, who said: 'Doctor Who will be filming at Llandaff North next week.' Followed by 'vote Labour, we've learned how to handle an economy, now.' Probably.
Longer-term Doctor Who fans may - just - recall that, in 1996, yer actual Paul McGann his very self was the last Doctor who needed to wear a syrup during his (in Paul's case, brief) tenure on the show to cover the fact that his normally flowing locks had been well-sheared for an appearance as the SAS soldier Chris Ryan in the ITV drama The One That Got Away. The feeling of the production team, one assumes, being that The Doctor was, as a rule, a chap who possessed a proper fine head of hair. And that. Thus yer actual McGann, in the 1996 TV movie, looks like a straight cross between Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen and Charles I (to the squeeing delight of many a fangirl and more than a handful of fanboys in the area). How ironic it was, therefore that, within a decade and under a new production regime, The Doctor would be being played as, let's be frank about this, a Northern skinheed.
Skinheads, skinheads, everywhere, dear blog reader. As we know, they've got big boots but they've, ahem, got no hair.
Speaking of those who are, shall we say follicly challenged, Amando Iannucci his very self has admitted that he would 'love' to write an episode of Doctor Who. Iannucci's The Thick Of It colleague Peter Capaldi will become the new lead in the BBC popular family SF drama from Christmas onwards. Hell, who wouldn't? 'I'd love to write [an episode],' Armando told What's On TV. 'Steven Moffat hasn't asked me, but it would be great because I love sci-fi and I grew up with Doctor Who as well.' What do you reckon, dear blog reader? Is that a totally unsubtle hint from one Scotsman to another in the 'giz a job, I could do that' department? I think it might be. Lovely Armando added that he was 'so pleased' when his friend Capaldi was cast as The Doctor, describing the actor as 'a massive fan. I think some people will be surprised because he's a fantastic actor,' Armando continued. 'He's really funny, so I imagine there'll be lots of humour there, but he can also be powerful and tragic.'

Course, you'd never see Peter Capaldi with a menacingly vicious Barnett-crop, would you dear blog reader? Oh, hang on ...
Chief suedehead, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat meanwhile was quoted as bellowing 'kill all hippies!' Allegedly.
Enough of such, if you will, hair-brained frivolity, dear blog reader, let's get serious. With ratings.

The Great British Bake Off rose to a new peak on Tuesday night, according to overnight data. The BBC2 series climbed by over five hundred thousand viewers week-on-week to 5.85 million at 8pm. Later, The Midwives dipped to 1.71m at 9pm. On BBC1, New Tricks continued to top the ratings overall, dropping slightly to 7.38m at 9pm. ITV's new series Aussie Animal Island interested 2.17m at 7.30pm, followed by Ade Edmondson's Ade in Adland which pulled in a satisfyingly risible 1.51m at 8pm. New documentary Trauma: Level One then gathered an equally atrocious 1.54m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Double Your House For Free appealed to nine hundred and sixty one thousand punters at 8pm. Top Boy continued with seven hundred and seventy seven thousand at 9pm. Channel Five's latest of CSI: NY thrilled 1.22m at 9pm. Celebrity Big Brother attracted 1.84m at 10pm.

Meanwhile, Whitechapel attracted a hugely disappointing opening overnight audience for its latest series on ITV. The drama's fourth series premiere was seen by but 3.76m at 9pm. This is a massive drop from the show's previous season's first episode overnight rating of 7.32m in 2012, and 5.89m for its last episode. Earlier, Stephen Mulhern's new series Big Star's Little Star proved squirmingly embarrassing and dreadful to 4.15m at 8pm. On BBC1, Celebrity MasterChef topped the ratings outside of soaps with 5.26m at 8pm. Nitin Ganatra's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? interested 3.94m at 9pm contributing to Whitechapel's piss-poor figure. BBC2's Flog It! returned with 1.04m at 6.30pm, while The Hairy Bikers' new series Meals of Wheels Back On The Road also appealed to 1.04m at 8pm. Channel Four's How Not To Get Old brought in seven hundred and ninety five thousand punters at 8pm. Grand Designs returned for a new series with 2.25m at 9pm. The Last Leg was watched by nine hundred and twenty three thousand viewers at 10pm. On Channel Five, Celebrity Big Brother's live eviction was seen by 1.96m at 9pm. A second episode attracted 1.33m at 11pm.

A man has reportedly been arrested for publicly naming an alleged sex abuse victim in relation to the ongoing trial of Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell. Greater Manchester Police confirmed on Thursday that a forty three-year-old man from the Gloucester area was arrested on suspicion of breaching the Sexual Offences Act 1992, which grants life anonymity for alleged sex abuse victims.

With three days still to go until it returns to our screens, Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood has already been sharpening his claws – taking aim at its ITV curiously similar celebrity dance competition and rip-off homage, Stepping Out. 'It's a car crash waiting to happen,' Horwood told the Sun. 'You have two novices on Stepping Out, so it's basically the blind leading the blind. The results could be terrible.' The Strictly judge said his 'dream contestant' would be Prince Harry. Given the runaway success of It's A Royal Knockout – younger readers, look it up on You Tube, if it hasn't been taken down due to naughty old scallywag Stuart Hall's involvement – it can only be a matter of time before that eagerly anticipated Strictly royal special. Fergie in a tutu. Now, there's something to put you off, you know, life.
The very excellent Tom Hollander is to play Dylan Thomas in a new BBC2 drama. A Poet in New York - from the great Andrew Davies - will mark the centenary of the Welsh poet's birth. Set in New York and Laugharne, the drama will explore Thomas's final days in a smog-ridden New York in November 1953. Griff Rhys Jones will act as executive producer via his production company, Modern Television, while Room at the Top's Aisling Walsh will direct the drama. 'I am thrilled to be playing Dylan Thomas for Aisling Walsh in Andrew Davies's wonderful A Poet In New York, produced by Modern Television,' said Hollander. 'Thomas was a great poet, whose blazing life and premature death left both a considerable poetic legacy and an enduring reputation for bad behaviour. He was also quite fat - playing him is both a wonderful acting challenge and a great opportunity to eat things that I would normally have to avoid.' A Poet In New York has begun filming in Cardiff and Laugharne and will be broadcast on BBC2 and BBC1 Wales in 2014.

The first episode of the new series of Homeland has been leaked online almost a month before it is due to be broadcast. Which is, of course, very naughty and bad and wrong. And also quite funny. More than one hundred thousand users pirated the episode within hours of it being uploaded from various BitTorrent sites, according to the TorrentFreak website. Producer Twentieth Century Fox said that its anti-piracy unit was 'addressing the issue.' By finding those responsible and given them a very severe talking-to, one imagines. Homeland is due to return to US TV screens on 29 September. It is expected to be shown in the UK at the beginning of October. Deadline reported preview copies of the episode were distributed to the press at a Television Critics Association event last month. However, it is unlikely to be the source of the leak as the pirated copy is a work print - an unfinished copy missing visual effects and the opening credits. The last high-profile work print to be leaked was in 2009, when an unfinished copy of Hugh Jackman film The Wolverine appeared on torrent sites a month ahead of its release. Although the source of the leak was never identified, New Yorker Gilberto Sanchez was eventually arrested and sentenced in 2011 to a year in prison for uploading a copy of the film to a file sharing website. Homeland has been a hit around the world since it began in 2011. It has been nominated for eleven awards at this year's EMMYs.

Luther's Ruth Wilson has said that she hopes the show will 'carry on, someday.' Wilson last reprised her role as Alice Morgan in the BBC crime thriller's final episode of the recent third series, which Luther creator Neil Cross has said will be the show's last. 'I hope we carry on someday,' the actress told Vulture. 'It's hard, of course, as we all get busier, trying to put it on all the schedules, and also know what we're writing without it going off the rails too much.' Wilson also insisted that she 'hasn't heard anything' about the proposed Alice spin-off series - an idea first mooted by Cross in August 2012. 'I don't know, you'd have to ask [Neil] - I haven't heard anything,' she said. Luther star Idris Elba recently claimed that the third series of Luther 'wasn't designed to [serve as] closure' for the show. Though, seemingly, Neil Cross thought differently.

The IT Crowd will return to Channel Four later this month. Series creator Graham Linehan announced on Twitter that the sitcom's farewell special will be broadcast in late September. Chris O'Dowd, Richard Ayoade, Katherine Parkinson and Matt Berry will all return for The IT Crowd's final forty-minute episode. Linehan first announced plans for a final IT Crowd special in December 2012, after previously confirming that the sitcom would not return for a fifth series. The comedy - which was originally shown between 2006 and 2010 - starred O'Dowd, Ayoade and Parkinson as three staff members of the IT department at the fictional Reynholm Industries.
Yer actual Una Stubbs will star in an upcoming BBC2 adaptation of The Tractate Middoth the classic Edwardian chiller by MR James. Mark Gatiss will reunite with the Sherlock actress for the festive ghost story in his directorial début. Sacha Dhawan and the superb John Castle will also appear in the project, which will be shown on BBC2 this Christmas. Gatiss said of the film: 'The wonderful adaptations of MR James's tales that I saw on TV as a child have been a lasting inspiration to me. I'm delighted to restore the tradition of a BBC Ghost Story for Christmas and bring to life a personal favourite - The Tractate Middoth - one of James's most atmospheric, thrilling, and downright scary tales.' The story follows a group of terrifying ghosts which arrive at a library after two men read through an ancient Hebrew text. Gatiss will also front a documentary about the author, to also be broadcast during the festive season. Stubbs and Gatiss will return as Mrs Hudson and Mycroft in the third series of Sherlock, which is expected to be broadcast in either late 2013 or early 2014.
Following his recent, alleged - and highly publicised - 'set-to' with a diner in a luxury Worcestershire hotel, yer actual Gregg Wallace has reportedly turned to meditation to cool his fiery temper. Mind you, this is according to some glake at the Gruniad Morning Star so it's probably a load of lies. The MasterChef presenter tweeted on Tuesday: 'Got back had a go at five minutes meditation relaxing technique. Resulted in thirty minutes sleeping. Should have known.' One of his followers replied: 'Meditation and you! Would be less surprised at Our Biff taking up ballroom dancing. Good for you son.' The Sun reports an alleged - though, obviously, anonymous (and, therefore, almost certainly fictitious) 'source' as allegedly saying: 'Gregg may be on TV these days, but at heart he's a bloke from South London who's been in the odd scrap. He decided he needed a way of keeping cool and someone suggested he should try meditation, so he gave it a go.' Said, in exactly that sort of 'Sun quotes' way that normal people don't talk. Relaxation, it would seem doesn't get any tougher than this.

Rob Brydon reportedly 'stunned' an audience with an ill-judged joke about Stephen Fry’s suicide attempt. At least, according to a tabloid journalist so, as noted above, take this revelation with a vat of salt. The Welsh comic reportedly reduced the GQ Men of the Year awards to silence on Tuesday when he made a quip about the Qi host and national treasure's unsuccessful bid to take his own life last year. Brydon, who was hosting the ceremony, described Stephen in a song as ‘the nation's favourite dinner guest with charm up to the gills, what a shame he can't be left alone with vodka and some pills.' Stephen his very self - a good friend of Brydon's of course, the latter having appeared on Qi many times - is said to have laughed off the gag in the spirit in which it was intended. However, others seemingly took it more seriously. The Mirra journalist Natalie Edwards tweeted: 'Something tells me Rob Brydon just crossed the line at GQ. Joked about Stephen Fry’s suicide attempt.' She described the reaction to Brydon’s joke as 'tumbleweed', commenting: 'And rightly so.' On Richard Herring’s podcast earlier this year, Stephen revealed that he had attempted suicide in 2012 while filming a documentary for the BBC in Russia.
Comedy Central has been censured for showing alcohol adverts during Friends, when a significant proportion of the audience was under eighteen. The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that in seventy nine episodes of the popular American sitcom broadcast between October 2012 and April this year, the channel broke strict rules on marketing to young people. Regulations say that alcohol adverts should not be shown in programmes that are especially popular with ten- to fifteen-year-olds. Comedy Central had previously blocked alcohol advertising from the show, but lifted its ban early last year based on research which counted all children from four to fifteen. The ASA said this 'under-represented' the sitcom's appeal to older children, as it was less popular with the under-tens – and warned Comedy Central to use the right data in future. Or, they'd come round and give them a good hard kick in the balls. Or something.
Sleepy Hollow is to be broadcast on the Universal Channel in the UK. FOX's new TV adaptation of the 1820 horror tale arrives on Universal after the channel fought off competition from a number of rival broadcasters, Broadcast reports. The series - from Star Trek writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman - stars Parade's End actor Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane. The new Sleepy Hollow follows Crane as he is transported from the 1800s to 2014, where he must battle his old nemesis, The Headless Horseman. Universal has also picked up the US series Graceland and Bates Motel - with the Psycho prequel set to be shown in the UK from 12 September. 'With Bates Motel set to make its UK premiere on Universal Channel, we've been looking for further distinctive, new content to bring character-focused positioning to life,' said Nicky Douglas, the managing director of Universal Networks International 'With intriguing central characters, both Sleepy Hollow and Graceland deliver that and also tap into the universal and relatable themes of belief and trust, which will appeal to our core viewers and new audiences alike.' Sleepy Hollow - which also stars Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones and Clancy Brown - will premiere on FOX in the US on 16 September.

Jodie Foster her very self has been signed up as a director for season two of Netflix's House of Cards. The Oscar-winning Hollywood actress is the latest big name attached to the political drama, which stars Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and Kate Mara. Joel Schumacher and James Foley directed episodes in House of Cards' first season and Kevin Spacey has previously confirmed that he is 'in talks' to direct an episode himself in season two. The show's executive producer David Fincher will not direct any season two episodes due to movie commitments with his adaptation of Gone Girl. Foster has previously teamed up with Netflix on their other recent critical hit, Orange Is The New Black, directing the episode Lesbian Request Denied. House of Cards' first season picked up a handful of EMMY nominations including Best Drama, Best Actor and Best Actress. Season two is expected to arrive on Netflix in early 2014.
Former Scum of the World and Sunday Mirra journalist Dan Evans has appeared at Westminster magistrates' court over four charges in connection with the criminal investigations that arose out of the phone-hacking scandal at the disgraced and disgraceful tabloid. Deputy chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot referred the case to the Old Bailey for a pre-trial hearing on 10 September. Evans was charged on Tuesday with four counts of alleged criminal activity, two of which relate to a conspiracy to hack the phones of 'well-known people and their associates' between 2003 and 2010. He worked at the Sunday Mirra between 2002 and 2004 and at the Scum of the World from 2005. Evans, from Kilburn, who was dressed in a dark blue suit with a red handkerchief in his breast pocket, sat in the dock, reading a copy of the Gruniad Morning Star before the judge arrived to hear his case. It is the first time that a journalist has been charged in relation to a conspiracy to hack phones who was not working at the Scum of the World. Evans has also been charged with allegedly attempting to pervert the course of justice by making a false witness statement between 2009 and 2010 in connection with civil proceedings at the high court. The fourth charge facing Evans relates to the Operation Elveden investigation into alleged illicit and naughty payments by journalists to police and other public officials between 1 January 2008 and 1 June 2010.

Australian commercial television networks have refused to broadcast an advertisement which criticises News Corporation Australia and depicts a man using a copy of the Courier-Mail to pick up some dog shit. The advert, paid for from a 'six-figure sum' crowd-sourced from supporters of the activist group GetUp, accuses the Courier-Mail and Daily Telegraph of running a political campaign and their owner, billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch - whom no one is scared of any more - of 'running an agenda' to get rid of Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd. 'Fair enough, we all have an opinion,' says the actor, while using the newspaper to clean up after his dog has shat on the pavement. 'But political bias presented as news is misleading crap. Don't let the crap decide your vote. Stand up for what you want. Tell Rupert we'll choose our own government.' The commercial was aired on Brisbane's Channel Nine but has since been dumped. Channels Seven and Ten refused to show it from the outset. GetUp will lodge a complaint with the Australian competition and consumer commission this week, seeking 'clarification' on whether the rejection was 'appropriate' or 'an abuse of market power.' 'We're not necessarily arguing that they are all acting in concert, but they are all doing the same thing and having the same result,' GetUp's national communications director Rohan Wenn told the Gruniad Australia. 'The feedback from GetUp members and non-members has been quite uniform and extraordinary. People seem really quite concerned. Our members are pretty angry that they donated a significant amount of money to run this ad in this crucial time before the election.' The TV networks said that they would not broadcast it because it 'criticised another media organisation.' A spokesman for the ACCC told the Gruniad that the commission cannot comment on specific issues or complaints, but generally 'suppliers or goods or services, such as media outlets, have the right to choose who they supply goods and services to.' Wenn said that GetUp can't get the advert on-air after midnight on Wednesday, when a blanket ban on election advertising comes into force. 'We don't expect the ACCC to come back before the election, but we think this is a longer term argument,' he said. The advert has been widely shared online, with more than two hundred and sixty thousand views on YouTube and at least four thousand shares from the group's Facebook post alone. However, Wenn said GetUp wanted to reach the audience that does not have social media. 'We wanted to reach everybody. We don't think it's appropriate that the networks can arbitrarily say "we are denying you access to these people" when they're using public airwaves to run their business,' he said. 'You've got the remember, these aren't like regular businesses. They only exist because they have a licence to use the public airwaves. With that licence should come some responsibility to our democracy.'

Geoff Hill, the editor of Channel Five News, has been appointed editor of ITV News. Hill returns to the network news bulletin he left in 2007 and takes to the editor's chair in place of Deborah Turness, the former boss who took over NBC News last month. John Hardie, chief executive of ITV News producer ITN, described Hill as a 'first-rate journalist, programme-maker and excellent leader' who stood out in a 'high-calibre field of candidates.' He added: '[Hill] has already made a huge mark at ITN – first at ITV News, then launching Setanta Sports News and again in returning from CNN to relaunch Channel Five News. In each role, he's shown dedication, continual innovation and a capacity to motivate teams to reach new heights that will serve him well in one of the most coveted jobs in TV news.' Hill's appointment was announced to staff at ITV News and Channel Five News at midday on Tuesday. Hill said: 'I'm honoured and excited at the prospect of leading some of the finest journalists in the world. From BAFTA and EMMY award winners to multi-media journalists breaking news online – ITV News is full of passionate, talented people who put everything into every programme they make. I'll be leaving Channel Five News with mixed emotions, after all that the team has achieved in launching a new service and breaking new ground, but I can't wait to start this next challenge by returning to ITV News.' Hill was name editor of Channel Five News in late 2011 ahead of the programme returning to be produced by ITN from Sky News. Prior to 2011, he was director of coverage for CNN International and in charge of the American network's output across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. During this time, he oversaw CNN's coverage of the Amanda Knox trial, as well as the royal wedding, UK elections and the South African World Cup. Hill worked for ITN for nearly a decade from 2000 until 2009, rising to become programme editor at ITV News with responsibility for the flagship News at Ten. He went on to launch and run the twenty-hour sports news channel Setanta Sports News as editor-in-chief. Michael Jermey, director of news and current affairs at ITV, said: 'I'm delighted Geoff is our new editor. He is an inspiring, creative leader who news teams love working for. He brings a wide range of experience to the role and will do a great job in leading ITV's high quality news service, both on television and online. ITV is committed to news and current affairs, and Geoff will play a key role in both leading our network news programmes and in working closely with colleagues in current affairs, Daybreak and our regional news operations.' Hill's appointment comes four months after Turness announced her departure to run the New York-based NBC News, becoming the first woman to head one of the US network's news divisions. The forty four-year-old father of three has huge shoes to fill at ITV News, where Turness was well-liked and respected for what colleagues described as her 'boundless energy and maverick streak.' Alleged 'insiders' allegedly quoted by the Gruniad Morning Star said that Hill is also held in high regard by senior figures at ITN – not least for the job he has done at Channel Five News, which operates on a smaller budget than rival network news operations. It is understood that other leading contenders for the post were Jonathan Munro, the ITV News deputy editor, and Chris Shaw, the ITN Productions editorial director. ITN said it would begin the recruitment process immediately to replace Hill at Channel Five News. Those mentioned as potential contenders include the ITV News head of output and assistant editor Christina Nicolotti-Squires and the ITV News assistant editor Tim Singleton. Other names tipped for the Channel Five post include Richard Zackheim, the deputy editor of Channel Five News, and the ITV News London editor Alex Chandler.

The family of Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson have announced a new series of books will be based on a story he had started before his death. Anderson began writing Gemini Force One, about a secret organisation, in 2008 but was unable to finish it due to his rapidly worsening Alzheimer's Disease. Anderson, who also created Stingray, Joe 90, Captain Scarlett & The Mysterons and UFO, died in 2012 at the age of eighty three. Best-selling author MG Harris has been brought in to complete the first book. Harris is best known for writing the young adult thrillers The Joshua Files. The Anderson Estate's said that the hope is a book series will be followed by a film or television series, which was Anderson's ultimate goal for GF1. The project is being funded via the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter. GF1 follows a similar theme to Anderson's most successful TV series, about a secret organisation which is 'involved in rescues and averting disasters and terrorist events.' Sounds suspiciously familiar. It was announced earlier this year that Thunderbirds is to be remade for ITV, featuring CGI animation and live-action model sets. The show, about the Tracy Brothers and their International Rescue organisation, is due to be broadcast in 2015. Thunderbirds was a big hit in the 1960s and, subsequently, in syndication and was most recently turned into a Hollywood film in 2004. Though that was crap.

The science fiction author Frederik Pohl - best known for his classic 1977 award-winning novel, Gateway - has died in Chicago at the age of ninety three. Pohl wrote hundreds of stories, using his own name, and under many pen-names. A literary agent and an editor before his writing career took off, his first work was published in 1937. His last novel came out two years ago. His wife, Elizabeth Hull, said that Pohl died in hospital on Monday after experiencing respiratory problems. News of his death was first announced by his granddaughter, Emily Pohl-Weary, who is also a writer, in a message on Twitter. New York City-born Pohl wrote more than forty novels and was best known for The Space Merchants, written in the early 1950s with Cyril M Kornbluth and Gateway, which won the Hugo Award for science fiction writing. In 1960, the British author Sir Kingsley Amis called him the most 'consistently able' writer of modern science fiction. Paying tribute to Pohl on his website, British author Neil Gaiman called Pohl 'the last of the Golden Age greats, the first generation of Science Fiction Writers who created the genre.' In an obituary released by the family, Pohl's editor James Frankel said: 'It is difficult to sum up the significance of Frederik Pohl to the science fiction field in few words. He was instrumental to the flowering of the field in the mid-to-late Twentieth Century, and it is hard to dispute that the field would be much the poorer without his talent and remarkable body of work as a magazine and book editor, a collaborator and a solo author.' Born in 1919, Pohl had a long-held ambition to be a professional writer and friends described him as an avid reader of the works of Tolstoy and science fiction magazines. Having dropped out of high school, Pohl served in the US Army during World War II as a weatherman in Italy. He wrote advertising copy for a mail order publisher following his discharge. After the sale of the poem, Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna, to Amazing Stories magazine in 1937, Pohl went on to edit Astonishing Stories, Super Science Stories, Galaxy and If magazines, as well as an original anthology series, Star Science Fiction. As a book editor, he worked on Samuel R Delaney's Dhalgren and Joanna Russ's The Female Man. As a literary agent, Pohl represented Algis Budrys, Hal Clement, Fritz Leiber, John Wyndham and helped Isaac Asimov publish his first novel, Pebble in the Sky, in 1950. He is also credited with launching the careers of James Blish and Larry Niven. Although he devoted much of his time to writing in the 1970s, he also was science fiction editor at Bantam Books. In 2009, Pohl launched The Way the Future Blogs, in which he wrote about his life and the science-fiction community and championed progressive politics. His latest novel, All the Lives He Led, was released in April, 2011. Pohl, who was married five times, is survived by Elizabeth, his wife of twenty years, a son, three daughters and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Hull said that his remains will be cremated and a memorial service will be held at a future date.

Dave Brock, of the space rock veterans Hawkwind, has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the annual Progressive Music Awards. Which is odd since all progressive rock, by definition, is utter horseshite wank of the worst order and stinks the whole gaff up to the roof whereas Hawkwind were (and still are), actually, bloody brilliant. Curious, that. The seventy two-year-old Devon-based musician, the sole original member of the group to have remained with Hawkwind since the beginning, said that it was 'a great honour.' Other winners at the Kew Gardens ceremony, included Marillion, who were named band of the year. The year in question being 1974, presumably. The event, now in its second year, was hosted by Newsnight presenter, and prog rock fan, Gavin Esler. One of the world's longest-running groups, Hawkwind have undergone countless changes of personnel and musical styles. Along the way, there have been astounding stage spectacles - notably the lavish 1972-73 Space Ritual tour - legal battles, bust-ups, reunions and the untimely deaths of several members. Former members and collaborators include Motorhead's Lemmy, the late poet Bob Calvert, science fiction writer Michael Moorcook, ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker and the late guitarist Huw Lloyd Langton. After picking up the lifetime achievement award, Brock said: 'It's a hard business to be in, with many ups and downs, but I consider music to be an art form. So come on, you young pioneers, there is plenty of room for change in our music world.' Hawkwind, best known for songs such as 'Silver Machine', 'Urban Guerrilla', 'Hurry on Sundown', 'Quark, Strangeness and Charm' and 'Master of the Universe' (recently used in a Ford car advert), released their twenty seventh CD, Onward in 2012. Others honoured at the event - organised by Prog Magazine - included Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson, who was named 'Prog God' (and, presumably, stood on one leg whilst receiving his prize) and the guitarist Steve Hillage, who has played with Gong and System Seven, who won the 'visionary' award. Jerry Ewing, editor of Prog Magazine, said: 'From household names who've sold millions of albums to newer talent who we hope to see emulate their heroes with whom they've been sharing the room this evening. It all goes to show that in it's many varied guises, progressive music remains the most compelling of rock genres. Man.'
On Thursday 5 September Google chose to celebrate the one hundred and eighty seventh birthday of cricketer and publisher John Wisden with a special - impressive - front page. This one, in fact.
Skill.

Unbeaten centuries from Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara took England to a six-wicket win over Ireland in the one-day international in Dublin on Tuesday. Chasing two hundred and seventy to win, England slipped to forty eight for fourt as Tim Murtagh (three for thirty three) ran through most of the top order. But captain Morgan (one hundred and twenty four) combined with Bopara (one hundred and one) for a world record fifth-wicket stand of two hundred and twenty six to see England home with seven overs to spare and shut a rather uppity crowd, which had been strutting around like the owned the gaff a couple of hours earlier, right up. Which was funny. Ir5ish skipper William Porterfield earlier made one hundred and twelve as Ireland posted an impressive two hundred and sixty nine for seven in their fifty overs. That total always seemed likely to challenge a youthful England side on a slow Malahide pitch, and so it proved as the accurate Murtagh got to work. But England rebuilt when the London-born Murtagh went out of the attack having bowled his ten overs straight through, with Bopara going on to complete a maiden ODI century and Morgan his first for three years. They accelerated towards a victory that gives England some momentum going into the five-match one-day series against Australia, which begins at Headingley on Friday. 'It was nice to get some time in the middle and get a win,' Morgan told BBC Sport. 'It was quite a nervous day for some of our guys, but it was nice to get over the the line.' England, though, must improve before taking on an Australia side that recorded a crushing two hundred-run win over Scotland. Handing debuts to Michael Carberry, Gary Ballance and Boyd Rankin - the pace bowler who played thirty seven ODIs for Ireland - England were guilty of dropped catches, sloppy ground fielding and undisciplined bowling. They were not helped by what seemed to be an imbalanced attack, with Rankin, James Tredwell and Steven Finn - the sole player in the England side to have taken part in the Ashes win - selected as the only three frontline bowlers. Both off-spinner Tredwell, who found turn for his two for thirty five, and Rankin, who bowled with hostility for four for forty six, impressed, but all-rounders Bopara, Ben Stokes and Luke Wright were all reasonably expensive. Rankin's late strikes included the wicket of Porterfield, who enjoyed good fortune but also played some eye-catching strokes through the off-side in his sixth one-day international hundred. The home captain received good support from Niall O'Brien (twenty six), Kevin O'Brien (twenty three) and John Mooney (twenty seven), while Ireland were also boosted by England's gift of thirty two extras. The feeling that England had lost control was compounded by the ninety runs plundered by Ireland in the final ten overs of the innings, one of which was delivered by the occasional off-spin of Carberry. 'We were pretty happy with where we were at, we were right on top be couldn't sustain the pressure,' said Porterfield. The debut of Carberry, who dropped both Niall O'Brien and Porterfield when relatively simple chances were offered on the leg-side boundary, failed to improve when he played across the line to Trent Johnston to become the first England wicket to fall for ten. Then, when Murtagh removed Wright, Ballance and James Taylor in quick succession, Ireland looked set for a first home ODI win over England. Unable to adjust to the lack of pace, Wright played on, Ballance dabbed his second ball through to wicket-keeper Gary Wilson and Taylor was bowled through the gate for twenty five. At that point, England looked set for a potentially embarrassing defeat, a repeat of the shock loss at the 2011 World Cup in India. But Dublin-born Morgan, booed to the crease by some on what was his home ground as a youngster, nudged and swept his way to fifty while Bopara provided steady support. After Morgan passed that milestone, the England pair went on the attack, clearing the boundary rope nine times on the way to setting the best fifth-wicket stand in ODI history as they smashed the Irish attack all round the pack in brutal display of controlled hitting. Morgan brought up his ton with a maximum and, after the left-hander was dropped in the deep, Bopara reached three figures by slapping George Dockrell through the covers for four. Yet another Morgan six off the same bowler wrapped up what was ultimately a comfortable victory, masking the deficiencies of earlier in the day.

Yer actual Alan Hansen his very self is retiring from his role as a pundit on Match Of The Day at the end of the current football season. Unbelievable. The former Liverpool and Scotland centre half and captain has featured as an analyst on the BBC's football highlights show for twenty two years. Hansen said: 'I've been in football for forty one years and I'm going out right at the top, just as I did at Liverpool. The plan was always that I would retire at fifty five. I kept going, but I finally decided to retire during Euro 2012.' The commentator will depart the programme following next summer's World Cup in Brazil.

The new Football Association chairman Greg Dyke says that the England team should aim to reach the semi-final of Euro 2020 and win the World Cup in 2022. But in a wide-ranging speech, Dyke warned England may not be able to compete seriously on the world stage without changes in the domestic game. 'English football is a tanker that needs turning,' he said. Dyke will set up an FA commission to ask key questions on how England can change its long-term prospects. The commission will ask why England are in this situation, what could be done and how any changes can be implemented. In a lengthy speech, Dyke laid out his vision to address what he called the 'frightening trend' of the reduction in the number of English players in the Premier League. Yet amid a backdrop of foreign influence in the top division, with many believing it is having an adverse effect on England teams, he stated: 'The two targets I have for the England team are - one, to at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and two, win the World Cup in 2022.' England have not gone beyond a World Cup quarter-final since they reached the last four in 1990 and have only won it once, in 1966. Their best performances in the European Championship came when they reached the semi-finals in 1968 and 1996. The 2020 European Championship is set to be held across Europe, with the FA having submitted Wembley as one of the potential venues. However, the 2022 World Cup is scheduled to take place in Qatar, with Dyke saying temperatures of fifty degrees will make it 'impossible' to hold the tournament there in summer. Dyke said: 'No doubt some will say these targets will burden the players with more pressure. I don't see it in that way. Top players must be able to handle pressure if they want to be winners. We want to be winners.' Last season, the number of English under-twenty one players competing in the Premier League dropped to its lowest ever level. In the summer, the England Under-Twenty One side embarrassingly crashed out of the European Championship in Israel without winning a point. Dyke accepted that the FA 'had not done as well as we should' in building a successful England team over the years. And he added: 'If the best of our emerging young players can't get a game here, then we have a serious problem.' He warned that the England set-up had been weakened rather than strengthened after twenty years of the Premier League but said his speech was 'not designed to start a blame game.' During the summer transfer window, there were one hundred and thirty seven Premier League signings but only twenty five of those were English. Financial analysts Deloitte said sixty million smackers of the gross six hundred and thirty million notes summer spending was on English players. This is just under ten per cent. 'We want to work hand in hand with the League,' added Dyke, who started in his FA role on 13 July. And he said that the chairmen of the Premier League, Football League, Professional Footballers' Association and League Managers' Association have been invited to join his newly-formed commission to start this month, with Dyke urging all in the game to come forward to give evidence. He also highlighted that Premier League clubs had 'made a huge investment in academies but so far the game had not seen a huge return on that investment.' The FA chairman added there were 'difficulties' in getting clubs to release players to join up with England squads at all levels.

According to Metro's Neil Sean, reality TV regular Kerry Katona says that being declared bankrupt for a second time has made her 'more determined' to 'keep an eye on her cash.' One might have thought the first bankruptcy would've produced such a result but, seemingly, not.

A rare photograph of a lost Sunflowers painting by Vincent Van Gogh his very self has been found, showing for the first time how the artist wanted his work to be seen. Van Gogh painted Six Sunflowers in 1888 but it was destroyed in Japan in 1945. A photo of the painting has been uncovered in the archives of a Japanese museum, showing that the artist wanted it to be exhibited in an orange frame. 'He saw this orange frame as an integral piece of the artwork,' Van Gogh specialist Martin Bailey said. The painting, also known as Vase with Five Sunflowers, shows the flowers in a vase against a dark blue background. It was sold to a Japanese collector and shipped to Japan in 1920. But it was destroyed in a fire after US bombing of Osaka during World War II. Martin Bailey, a curator and correspondent for The Art Newspaper, discovered the photograph while researching his book The Sunflowers are Mine: The Story of Van Gogh's Masterpiece. 'I went back to Van Gogh's letters and he described when he was painting the sunflowers how he was going to put them in an orange frame. That has never been seen before,' he said. 'Van Gogh loved complementary colours, like blue and orange together. He was really creating a total work of art, framing his picture. We can actually see how Van Gogh wanted to present his sunflowers. We can see the painting as Van Gogh wanted to be seen. It was a revolutionary idea at the time, framing a painting in orange. Conventionally, paintings were framed in gilt frames, and modern paintings were sometimes framed in plain white frames. It showed what imagination and flair he had in doing something that was rather bold and would have actually appeared shocking. He wasn't frightened of that. He was really using his imagination.' Another of Van Gogh's Sunflowers series sold for twenty five million quid in 1987, smashing the record for the world's most expensive painting at the time.

Olympic champion and King of the Mods, Sir Bradley Wiggins his very self will lead Team Sky in the Tour of Britain, which begins on 15 September near Edinburgh. The thirty three-year-old said last month that he will leave road racing at the end of next season to return to the track and pursue a fifth Olympic medal in 2016. He is joined in the squad by Ian Stannard, Josh Edmondson, Bernhard Eisel, Mathew Hayman and David Lopez. Last year's winner Jonathan Tiernan-Locke was not selected. Wiggins, who was unable to defend his Tour De France title this summer because of illness and injury, withdrew from last year's Tour Of Britain with a stomach bug. He hopes this year's race will benefit his preparations for the individual time trial at the Road World Championships in Florence on 25 September. 'It's a race I'm fond of and it's nice to see it growing,' Wiggins said. 'The crowds and the roads make it special and it's always very humbling to see the fantastic support that we get from the public. I'm coming into the race feeling really good. It finishes in close proximity to the world time trial championships, which is my main late-season goal. The Tour Of Britain is always a tough event and I'm looking forward to getting started.' There are eight stages in this year's race, taking the riders to Peebles, Cumbria, Knowsley, Stoke-on-Trent, Wales, Devon and Surrey before the finish at Whitehall in London on 22 September.

Rumours that yer actual Keith Telly Topping and Gillian her very self were considered as a surprise late inclusion in the squad cannot, at this time, be confirmed, or denied.
On Wednesday morning of this week, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self popped into the studios of BBC Newcastle to record a piece for his old oppo Simon Logan's Afternoon Show on the recent release of the complete Crocodile Shoes on DVD. And, a lot of fun it was too. If you want to check it out, dear blog reader, it can be heard on Listen Again for the next seven days, here. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping crops up approximately one hour, forty five minutes and fifty seconds into the show (immediately after Beyonce) and, intermittently thereafter for about the next half hour. Then, he went for a swim and a sauna in Byker, did some shopping at Morrison's, went to the bank, discovered that Amazon had taken forty odd quid out of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's account for a service that he hadn't asked for, rang Amazon, shouted at Amazon (in a rather Jimmy Nail-style, actually), got it sorted (and an apology), did some washing, did some strimming in tthe garden then, after all that, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self needed a lie down.
And now, dear blog reader, yer actual Uncle Scunthorpe Steve Drayton his very self (link to the previous item since, of course, he's the producer of Logie's show, and yer actual Keith Telly Topping's get mentor in local radio) has - finally - announced the full line-up for the forthcoming late 2013 season of The Record Player at the Tyneside Cinema. Full details are here. Quality selection, that (well, maybe not Bat Out Of Hell, but apart from that!)
Speaking of Uncle Scunthorpe his very self, here's yer actual Keith Telly Topping's good mate Mietek's review of one of Steve's jolly recent gigs at The Stand at his, recently reactivated, Rambling of A Wandering Toon blog site. (Mietek's missus, Naomi, has also recently reactivated her Retro Woman Blog which is also well worth checking out.)
Which brings us to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day and we'll stick with a Scunthorpe theme for this one. Apparently, Uncle Steve informs yer actual Keith Telly Topping, this is the very tune that The Irons their very selves run out to at Glanford Park. Well, let's face it, they're not going to use 'simply the best', are they? Trades Descriptions Act and all that. Give us your thoughts on the matter, Mister Pursey.

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