Saturday, September 07, 2013

Week Thirty Eight: The Secret Of Fire

BBC Worldwide has announced the release of Doctor Who: The Complete Series One to Seven Box Set on Blu-ray for release in the UK on 4 November and in North America on 5 November. Which is a bit of a pisser for those of us who've already bought the individual series box-sets, admittedly. But considerably better news for, you know, Johnny-Come-Latelys and Doctor Who completists with more money than sense. For some reason the US release will include a bonus gift not available in the UK set (to the people who, through their licence fee, actually pay for the programme to be made in the first place) in the form of the original Doctor Who Universal Remote Control Sonic Screwdriver (not, actually, sonic in case you were wondering), three artwork cards featuring the three most recent Doctors, plus 'an exclusive comic book.' The twenty nine disc collection contains each series in its own individual Blu-ray case, and it is expected that the four remastered Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant series will be available individually at a later date. For mugs who have to buy everything with the logo on it.
ITV's new three-part drama The Guilty launched with a distinctly underwhelming overnight audience on Thursday evening. Following on from the previous night's highly disappointing initial ratings for the first episode of Whitechapel's fourth series, this will be something of a set-back to ITV's drama schedule hopes for the autumn. The Guilty, starring Tamsin Greig, opened to 3.64m at 9pm. Earlier, new - alleged - comedy Pat and Cabbage was watched by 3.07m at 8.30pm. BBC1's Celebrity MasterChef topped the ratings outside soaps with 4.58m at 8pm. On BBC2, The Hairy Bikers' Meals On Wheels appealed to 1.47m at 8pm. The documentary Mum and Dad Are Splitting Up gathered seven hundred and twenty eight thousand at 9pm. Channel Four's Location, Location, Location interested 2.06m at 8pm. New documentary series Educating Yorkshire brought in an impressive 2.85m at 9pm thanks, at least in part, to C4's heavy promotional campaign for the series. Bouncers was watched by 1.83m at 10pm. On Channel Five, Celebrity Big Brother's latest episode had an audience of 1.49m at 9pm.

Cheryl Cole's bum tattoo - which is made up of several very large roses and stretches half-way up her back - was so painful that she, reportedly, had to sing her way through her tattooing sessions. Which is what you have to do when someone's sticking red hot needles in your arse, one images. An alleged 'source' at Black Anchor Collective tattoo studio in Hesperia, California, allegedly told the OMG! website: 'Cheryl sang at the top of her voice through her tattoo to dull the pain. She had a good nights' sleep before each session and didn't drink to numb the pain - but she did sing, quite loudly, to help her cope. She was singing her heart out - if someone had recorded it they could have made a fortune from the session!'
And, speaking of Wor Geet Canny Cheryl's radjy tat, it was the subject of an entire five minutes of comedy hijinx in the latest episode of Week The Week on Thursday night. Most notably, when the excellent Stewart Francis's made the observation that, as Cheryl is from Newcastle, 'there's a good chance once or twice a week she's going to take a shit outside, right?' It's pure dead true, dear blog reader. Why, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self quite often has a good hard shite in the gutter when he's away from Stately Telly Topping Manor and the mood takes his fancy. It's The Law. Now at least, Francis continued, 'she can squat in the rose garden, twist one off, Bob's yer uncle.' This prompted Stewart's squeaky-voiced Canadian type-person compatriot, Katherine Ryan, to wonder if, when Cheryl 'does sex the naughty way, is it called botany, now?' And, Hugh Dennis to comment that Cheryl's real worry is, probably, that she'll now get stalked 'by Alan Titchmarsh with an Aphid spray.' However, as Andy Parsons noted, during the - reported - fifty hours whilst Cheryl was having the tattoo done at least meant that she wasn't making or releasing music. 'So, it's not all bad news, is it?'

Meanwhile, it was proper great to have Qi back for a new series of Friday night, dear blog reader. For the most part, anyway. Highlights of the opening episode were, as usual David Mitchell's several angry rants about all manner of illogical malarkey and a - quite superb - début from the terrific comedienne and writer Sara Pascoe. All of which  just about made up for the presence in the episode of odious, risible, unfunny lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall. Just about.
Ade Edmondson has been crowned winner of this year's Celebrity MasterChef. The former comic triumphed in Friday night's final, beating Les Dennis and bloody Janet Street-Porter to the title. Host John Torode described Edmondson's three-course meal as 'delicious and absolutely mind-blowing', while Gregg Wallace said that his cooking had 'beautiful simplicity.' Wallace added: 'What Ade has learned along the way has just already enhanced the good cook that he was when he walked in here.' Edmondson said that being crowned victor 'feels very weird.' The fifty six-year-old continued: 'I didn't realise it was going to be as tough as it has been. I have spent every waking and every sleeping moment thinking about food.' He added: 'I'm going off to have some beans on toast.' Edmondson's winning menu included a pan-seared loin of venison starter, with a main of sea bass stuffed with scallop mousse and a twist on strawberry shortcake for dessert. The episode itself was also notable for again displaying that somebody in the MasterChef production office seemingly has some proper good taste in music, on this occasion including The The's 'This is The Day' and Siouxsie & The Banshees' cover of 'The Passenger.' Tasty.

Celebrity MasterChef's final attracted on overnight audience of 5.51m on BBC1 on Friday. The culinary contest was the most watched broadcast of the day outside of soaps and news. On ITV, coverage of the World Cup Qualifier between England and Moldova was seen by 5.29m from 7.30pm. Back on BBC1, The ONE Show interested 3.61m from 7pm, after which Nigel Slater's Dish of the Day appealed to 4.34m at 7.30pm. The latest episode of hideous sitcom flop Big School attracted a mere 2.89m at 9pm and whilst a repeat of Mrs Brown's Boys took 3.38m at 9.30pm. A compilation clip show of the last series of Would I Lie To You? followed with 2.58m. BBC2 showed Grand Prix Athletics to 1.24m at 7pm. Natural World then attracted 1.19m at 9pm, whilst the opening episode of the new series of Qi was watched by 2.22m and the film The Tempest had two hundred thousand viewers from 10pm. Channel Four's Four Rooms secured seven hundred and thirty thousand at 8pm, followed by Secrets Of The Pickpockets with 1.09m at 9pm. On Channel Five, The World's Scariest Flights got five hundred and one thousand punters at 7.15pm and Construction Squad: Operation Homefront had an audience of four hundred and eighty nine thousand at 8pm. A double bill of Family Guy was the most watched broadcast on the multichannels, picking up seven hundred and fifty thousand and seven hundred and thirty eight thousand respectively on BBC3 from 11pm. Agatha Christie's Marple followed with six hundred and fifty two thousand on ITV3 at 8pm.

Coronation Street is to explore the issue of the 'right to die' when terminally ill. In a forthcoming storyline the character of Hayley Cropper decides that she wants to take control of her death. Hayley, the first transgender character in a British soap, has been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. The production team have revealed that as her health deteriorates she will decide she wants to take her own life. Both sides of the 'right to die' debate will be shown as her husband, Roy, is vehemently against her decision. Coronation Street Producer Stuart Blackburn said: 'This is a very sensitive issue and we will be exploring the effects of her decision on husband Roy who has a huge emotional and moral dilemma over her choice to die this way.' Blackburn said that Hayley 'becomes very concerned' about losing control as the disease progresses. 'The palliative care Hayley receives is superb but she is scared that the pain relief can cause confusion and a loss of clarity. She is concerned she could regress to being Harold, she's already had one such nightmare. She wants to die in peace with clarity of thought, she wants to die as Hayley - the identity she has spent her whole life fighting for,' he added. It was announced in January that Julie Hesmondhalgh, who has played Hayley for fifteen years, is leaving the soap at the end of the year. She said that filming the cancer storyline scenes were 'hard t' do" and admitted they were 'going to be pretty hard to watch. I feel the storyline really honours their relationship and their love story - it's fitting and it's proper and it's what people are living with every single day and I think it's important to tell those stories,' she said. The 'right to die' storyline has been welcomed by the campaign group Dignity in Dying. Chief Executive Sarah Wootton said they believed it will 'highlight the effects that the current out-of-date law has on terminally ill people and their families. We do not know the details of the upcoming plot, but what we do know is that people are taking drastic action to have the death that they want, with one patient travelling abroad every fortnight and others asking friends or family to help them in this country,' she added. Coronation Street has revealed the character of Hayley does not ask her husband Roy to help her in the storyline. The show's writers and producers have consulted widely with specialists and interest groups before tackling the issue. It comes at a time when an Assisted Dying Bill is to be debated in the House of Lords. A spokesman for Care Not Killing warned that while soaps should not avoid controversial subject matters, it was 'important that this issue is presented in a sensitive and careful way' and 'handled with great care. Irresponsible portrayal of the subject is the recipe for elder abuse and a threat to vulnerable people, many of whom already feel under pressure at a time of austerity and who are worried about being a burden on others,' he added.

And so to the next batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:-
Saturday 14 September
Jonathan Broom and his wife, Deborah, have put their lives on hold while Jonathan pursues his dream of building a miniature Hollywood Hills-style mansion in North London, a story told in tonight's episode of Grand Designs - 8:00 Channel Four. Jonathan - who sounds, from that description at least, like the sort of selfish glake who deserves a good, hard shoeing and a harsh lesson in priorities - and Deborah - and, similarly, is made to sound from Channel Four's pre-publicity like a highly convenient doormat - stumble across a scrap of land on which to build their folly, but the hair-brained scheme is, of course, fraught with problems and the only way they can complete the one million smackers construction is by sinking half of it six metres below ground. The fact that they've got a million smackers to squander on such a conceit in these times of, supposed, austerity may, immediately, make many dear blog readers hate this pair of chancers and everything they stand for. This blogger couldn't possibly comment upon that. Oh no, very hot water. Surrounded on all sides by their neighbours' back gardens, the couple have to dismantle walls and fences and promise to put them back together again when they've finished. And that's just the start of their difficulties. 'Is it worth it? What is it all for?' whinges the female half of tonight's over-ambitious couple. Their dream had been germinating for ten years, even before the cameras started rolling, in 2010. Though, that was when the problems really start (the second doomy-voiced Kevin McCloud entered their lives, basically. That was just asking for trouble). Their semi-subterranean home will squeeze into a triangular wedge of land behind three terraces in Camden: getting started involves negotiating a mere seventeen metre party wall and agreements with neighbours whose garden walls must be knocked down. But the architect's design is brilliant. Assuming it ever goes up. As ever, the joy for us is watching people who dream big flirting with complete disaster. McCloud follows their progress and provides totally unhelpful comments along the way. Maybe Jonathan and Deborah should have just saved the money and stuck with the house they already lived in. Bit of a radical suggestion, I know but that's yer actual Keith Telly Topping, dear blog reader. Simply full of radical suggestions.

And that's yer Saturday night, really, dear blog reader. A repeat of Grand Designs is the best thing on offer. There's also odious, risible, horrorshow (and drag) I Love My Country - though, if you even think about watching that fiasco you're probably either a brain-damaged moron or the victim of a cruel medical experiment - The X Factor and lots of other complete tripe. Take yer actual Keith Telly Topping's advice, dear blog reader. Read a book instead.

Sunday 15 September
In What Remains - 9:00 BBC1 - with the inquest into Melissa's death complete, Len becomes more determined than ever to uncover the truth about her murder - but as secrets are revealed another neighbour's life is put in danger. Liz seems determined to expose Michael's affair, so he sets out to wreak revenge, while Joe explains his feelings for the victim and Elaine's efforts to control Peggy rise to dangerous levels. Conclusion of the murder mystery, starring David Threlfall, Russell Tovey, Denise Gough and Indira Varma. Last in the series.
One final line-up of entrepreneurs take it in turns to face the multimillionaire panel in a bid to win funding for their projects in Dragon's Den - 8:00 BBC2. The hopefuls include a Norfolk couple serving up drinks for the investors - but rather than trying to get them drunk, they are hoping to get them interested in their 'fruity alcohol alternative' - and two recent graduates bring their range of campus fashions into the den. Can they persuade the Dragons to swap their formal attire for something a little more casual? Evan Davis presents.

In the latest episode of The Review Show - 8:00 BBC4 - Martha Kearney and her guests discuss the new film adaptation of Irvine Welsh's novel Filth, Dennis Kelly's debut play at London's Royal Court Theatre, Expo Fofty Eight, a comic novel by Jonathan Coe and an exhibition which draws parallels between Henry Moore and Francis Bacon. Critics include Paul Morley, AL Kennedy and James Dellingpole. And there's music from The Manic Street Preachers.
Not particularly funny weirdo Noel Fielding of The Mighty Boosh and Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Australian comedian Colin Lane make their debuts on Qi XL - 10:00 BBC2 - joining yer actual Wor Ross Noble and regular panellist Alan Davies. Host Stephen Fry asks a range of fiendish questions on the topic of Kit and Kaboodle, with points being awarded for interesting answers as well as correct ones.
Monday 16 September
The first round of University Challenge continues - 8:00 BBC2 - as teams of students representing the universities of York and Bath compete to reach the second stage of the competition. Big, scary Jezza Paxman his very self bellows the questions and terrifies the living bejesus out of the poor students. Which is always good for a laugh.

The Government claims that it is cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion - but does the tough talk stand up to scrutiny? In tonight's Panorama - 8:30 BBC1 - Richard Bilton goes under-cover to investigate the truth about UK tax policy, revealing how new laws could, potentially, allow big companies to avoid paying billions.
Tuesday 17 September
A photo featuring a missing nineteen-year-old music student turns up in a charity shop donation bag on the anniversary of her disappearance seventeen years earlier, prompting Sandra to suspect the work of a serial killer in the latest episode of New Tricks - 9:00 BBC1. However, as the UCOS team gets to work identifying and tracking down the other people in the picture, increasing pressure to hand over the investigation forces Sandra to consider her future, and she turns to a familiar face to help her make her decision. Amanda Redman stars, with Denis Lawson, Dennis Waterman and Nicholas Lyndhurst.

Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood assess how the remaining contestants cope with preparing biscuits and tray-bakes in The Great British Bake Off - 8:00 BBC2. The signature challenge throws up a variety of bakewells, banoffees and brownies, while French classic tuiles are the order of the day in the technical test. Finally, the bakers construct 'biscuit towers', but who will crumble under the pressure of the show-stopper? Mel and Sue provide the pithy comments.
Britain's Broken Families - 10:35 BBC1 - is a documentary about Newcastle's Family Intervention Project, whose staff work round the clock to improve the lives of Tyneside's more challenging and disruptive clans. These are the people who other authorities, such as social workers, police, housing and education, have tried, and failed, to help and now don't want to touch with a bargepole. If they don't change with the help of the FIP, they will lose their homes or children. Or both. The documentary focuses on two mothers - one whose daughter is refusing to go to school and whose home is frequently visited by gangs that terrorise the estate; the other whose two boys are being neglected and are at risk of being taken into care.
Posh Pawn - 9:00 Channel Four - fabulous title notwithstanding, provides an insight into the world of high-end pawnbroking, going behind the scenes at a Surrey-based firm dealing in luxurious and exclusive objects. Former property developer James Constantinou and his quirky team of asset experts administer everything from a twenty five thousand knicker designer handbag to a one million quid helicopter as they help a variety of cash-strapped formerly stinking rich clients struggling in the current economic climate.

Wednesday 18 September
Singer and actress Marianne Faithfull tries to learn more about her mother Eva, with whom she had a difficult relationship, and investigates her parent's early life as a dancer in 1920s Berlin - the era immortalised in the classic movie Cabaret in the latest Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1. She also finds out about her mother's experiences in Vienna during the Second World War, and explores the rumour that her family was involved in the Austrian resistance.
In Science Britannica - 9:00 BBC2 - yer actual Professor Brian Cox his very self explores three hundred and fifty years of British science, beginning with a look at its darker side and the notion that endeavours in the field can sometimes go too far. Paying particular attention to the nuclear bomb and genetic modification, he attempts to determine whether the ground-breaking discoveries of the nation's scientists are corrupted on occasion.
Miles and Chandler's latest case takes them deep into the world of modern art after the discovery of a flayed human face at the local art gallery in Whitechapel - 9:00 ITV. Interpreting some Russian prison tattoos suggests a link to organised crime, but what is the significance of the mysterious footsteps heard in empty corridors at the police station? As the investigation progresses, the killer strikes again, leaving a coded message, and Buchan's desperate search for answers leads him on a dangerous path. Starring Phil Davis, Rupert Penry-Jones and Steve Pemberton, who also wrote this particular two-part episode.

Fabric of Britain - 9:00 BBC4 - is an examination of the history of knitting, exploring how the craft rose in popularity during the Twentieth Century with the help of The Beatles' penchant for roll-neck sweaters and the chunky jumpers modelled on 1980s breakfast television programmes. The first episode considers the changing role of the hobby, including how it helped sustain some women through the hardships of war, and how knitwear items have become a staple of the British wardrobe. Narrated by Rebecca Front.
Thursday 19 September
Three years ago, young bride Anni Dewani was murdered on her honeymoon in South Africa - allegedly on the orders of her husband - a crime which made headlines around the world. Now, a British judge has ordered that Shrien Dewani - still sectioned under the mental health act in the UK - should be extradited to South Africa to stand trial for his, alleged, crimes. Jeremy Vine reviews the evidence against the thirty three-year-old Bristol businessman to see whether the prosecution case holds up in The Honeymoon Murder: Who Killed Anni? - 9:00 BBC1.

In the latest episode of alleged sitcom Pat And Cabbage - 8:30 ITV - the duo sign up to a butchery class in an attempt to meet single men, but discover the only male in attendance is the teacher (guest star Jesse Birdsall). Cabbage sets her sights on getting his attention, but faces stiff competition from an overly flirtatious rival. Meanwhile, when Pat fails to show up for Derek's memorial service, Helen stages an intervention to keep her apart from her best friend. With hilarious consequences, no doubt. Starring Barbara Flynn and Cherie Lunghi. Who are both better than this shite.

David Jensen hosts an edition of Top Of The Pops first broadcast on 5 October 1978 - 7:30 BBC4 - with performances by The Jacksons, Dean Friedman 9and his comedy perm), Buzzcocks, Elaine Paige, Boney M, Marshall Hain, Sham 69, Leo Sayer and The Boomtown Rats. Plus, dance sequences by Legs & Co.

Friday 20 September
In David Attenborough's Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates - 9:00 BBC2 - the naturalist explores the evolution of vertebrates over the past five hundred million years, beginning with a look at how remarkable advances allowed primitive fish to make the radical move onto land, and then take to the skies with the advent of flight. He uses fossils of both ancient and living species combined with CGI and film to chart their journey out of the water to populate all corners of the globe.

Josh Widdicombe, Phill Jupitus and Katherine Ryan join regular panellist Alan Davies as host Stephen Fry asks a range of questions on the topic of K-Folk, with points being awarded for interesting answers as well as correct ones in the latest Qi - 10:00 BBC2. Look out for a revealing exchange tonight between Stephen and Alan, comedy's most unlikely double act. They're friends off-screen, and there's a lovely spat where Fry grumbles under his breath that Davies didn't invite him to his wedding. 'I did invite you but you didn't come' Davies protests, and Fry has to bury his head in his hands in shame as Davies reminds him that it was filming an episode of Bones in the US that kept him away. Aside from these recriminations, it's the usual pattern of recent Qi episodes: Fry answering his own questions at length while the panellists chuckle along and, occasional,ly crack a joke or two. Along the way, there's a detour into bestiality, some amusing Korean sayings and the timeless line: 'Are you ready for me to pump the custard?' Hell, who isn't?

Which brings us to the news: The commons public accounts committee chair Margaret Hodge said that the latest public spending watchdog report on BBC top management pay-offs painted a picture of 'total chaos' at an organisation more concerned with its public image than licence fee payers' money. Hodge, whose committee will hear from senior BBC figures including BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten and former director general Mark Thompson on Monday, said that the report 'demonstrates the chaotic and unstructured way in which the BBC was giving severance payments to senior managers.' The Labour MP said the most worrying issue was the correspondence, published by the BBC Trust for the first time on Wednesday, between Thompson and the Trust over Mark Byford's likely pay-off in 2010. The former deputy director general received just over one million smackers when he left the BBC in 2011, although Thompson at the time feared it could be as much as twenty and a half million knicker. And, that she was going to find out who was responsible for all this malarkey and then, presumably, take them roughly across her knee and given them a jolly good, hard smack on the bare bottom for such rank naughtiness and that. Or something. 'What these papers demonstrate, what the to-ing and fro-ing in those e-mails demonstrate on that particular severance payment, the BBC were more concerned with minimising adverse publicity and maximising the payment to the individual rather than doing what was right with public money and that is an issue of real concern,' Hodge claimed on Radio 4's The Media Show on Wednesday. She said that the latest National Audit Office report, which followed an earlier investigation into BBC severance payments in July, was 'more of the same', a picture of 'total chaos' with 'no records kept [and] no documentary evidence to justify particular decisions.' Hodge said she wanted to hear from the BBC's senior figures again on Monday because 'they all accuse each other and nobody accepts responsibility for what happened.' Asked if she thought the committee had previously been misled, Hodge said: 'We will have to discover that next Monday. Certainly those individuals we are having in front of us don't agree with each other on what happened or who knew what and until we can unravel that we won't know whether or not we were misled. To be honest, I got so fed up of people saying "I knew", "I didn't know", "I take responsibility", "I don't take responsibility", and blaming others. I thought the best thing was to have everybody there so we can really understand who knew what.' Hodge said that new BBC director general Tony Hall was 'having to cope with a really chaotic past and it's a shame it's coming out in bits and dribs and drabs. It would have been much better if we had everything coherently before us in the first hearing.' She said she 'warmly welcomed the fact that the BBC does now understand why we want to know the names of the individuals who got these excess payments so we can think about whether or not it's in the public interest that those should be publicly available.' BBC trustee Anthony Fry, in his letter to Hodge published this week, said that BBC staff had a 'helpful meeting' with the committee's clerk on 14 August regarding its request for the names of all one hundred and fifty BBC senior managers who received severance payments in the three years to the end of 2012. Fry told Hodge: 'At that meeting, BBC staff explained our interpretation of the legal position and asked as the next step that the committee should set out its rationale in seeking this information from the BBC and the public interest in doing so.' Fry said the BBC would 'review next steps in light of that', saying that the BBC had sent the committee the names of all the 'authorisers' responsible for the severance payments and the amounts paid.

Meanwhile, the former BBC director general Mark Thompson has accused the BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten of 'fundamentally misleading' parliament over the extent of his knowledge of controversial six-figure pay-offs to senior staff at the broadcaster. Thommo - seemingly desperate not to be the one that's going over auntie Margaret Hodge's lap with his pants down for the slipper - alleges that Patten and Fry told 'specific untruths and inaccuracies' in their evidence to MPs on the public accounts committee on 10 July this year, in leaked evidence from the former director general sent to the same committee. Which rather has the effect of Rik's 'it was not me, it was the other three' poem in The Young Ones over an unpaid TV licence. ('I had no idea what was going on, it really was the other three'.) 'The picture painted for the PAC by the BBC Trust witnesses on 10 July 2013 was – in addition to specific untruths and inaccuracies – fundamentally misleading about the extent of Trust knowledge and involvement,' he writes. 'The insinuation that they were kept in the dark by me or anyone else is false and is not supported by the evidence.' Thompson, who ran the BBC between 2004 and 2012, attacked his former boss in a detailed twenty five-page witness statement that will raises questions for Patten about his knowledge of two controversial severance payments. Thompson provided evidence that he alleged showed Patten was wrong to tell MPs he 'didn't know' about two critical aspects of settlements made with two departing executives, the one million notes payout to former deputy director general Mark Byford in 2011 and the three hundred and ninety thousand settlement reached with Sharon Baylay, the former director of marketing. Thompson said that Patten knew in 2011 that both had received settlements of more than they were contractually entitled to, and their formal notice of departure was delayed. 'In fact, Lord Patten was himself fully briefed, in writing as well as orally, about the Mark Byford and Sharon Baylay settlements soon after his arrival as chairman in 2011,' claims Thompson. He goes on to accuse the BBC Trust of 'withholding key information' from the National Audit Office's investigation into pay-offs at the corporation. Thompson concludes that the evidence given to the NAO and the PAC on 10 July was 'inadequate, and in some important instances, very misleading testimony.' The public spending watchdog revealed this year that the BBC paid twenty five million smackers to one hundred fifty departing bosses between 2009 and 2012. This week after further scrutiny of the BBC accounts, the NAO said the broadcaster paid out a total of £2.9m in payments that went beyond contractual entitlement between 2006 and 2012. 'During the PAC hearing on 10 July 2013, the BBC Trust witnesses strove repeatedly to play down the significance of the two documents which had emerged at that time, and to make misleading and inaccurate statements, all of which served to minimise and draw attention away from the Trust's own knowledge and involvement,' in the Byford and Baylay severance settlements, claims Thompson. 'The BBC Trust witnesses failed to mention the warning I had given them about misleading the PAC, or the extent to which they themselves had been briefed about these cases. Nor did they explain, given how much outrage they claimed to feel and how much they actually knew about the cases, why they did nothing about senior management severance until they themselves came under criticism for the payment made to [former BBC director general] George Entwistle.' On Monday, Thompson, Patten and Fry will all appear before the PAC, chaired by Margaret Hodge, in the latest hearing on excessive payouts. MPs have been fiercely critical of both the BBC and the Trust over what some of the louder mouthed ones described as 'corporate fraud and cronyism' among senior managers. Speaking before details about Thompson's evidence to the committee had been made public, Hodge said she had seen evidence of 'total chaos' at an organisation more concerned with its public image than licence fee payers' money. Also giving evidence on Monday will be former Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons and Marcus Agius, the former chairman of the BBC Executive Board Remuneration Committee which was responsible for approving significant pay-offs. A BBC Trust spokesman said: 'This is a bizarre document. We reject the suggestion that Lord Patten and Anthony Fry misled the PAC. We completely disagree with Mark Thompson's analysis, much of which is unsubstantiated, in particular the suggestion that Lord Patten was given a full and formal briefing on the exact terms of Mark Byford's departure, which in any event took place before the current Chairman's arrival at the Trust. It remains the case, as noted by the NAO in its original report, both that the Trust under the Chairmanship of Sir Michael Lyons was told that these payments were within contractual terms and that the Trust did not have a role in the approval process. The Trust has already published its own account of events, which took place well before Lord Patten's arrival, and we look forward to answering fully and openly further questions at Monday's PAC hearing. For Lord Patten and Anthony Fry the overriding concern remains the best interests and good standing of the BBC.'

In the end, it will be Lucy Adams, the BBC's HR director, who is the first to line-up a'fore The Spankmistress Hodgey, all trembling and sweating in her own keks as she waits for her chastisement on Monday coming. Seemingly in an effort to mitigate the proper tweaking she's likely to be in for, Adams has written to MPs to 'correct' her evidence given to parliament about her involvement in agreeing the one million knicker severance payment to Byford. Adams admitted in fresh evidence released by the Commons public accounts committee on Friday that she was 'involved' in drafting a key memo to the BBC Trust which detailed a controversial severance payment. Thompson had described Adams in his own evidence as 'one of the main authors' of the memo – dubbed 'the 7 October note' – which Adams had claimed 'not to have seen' when she appeared before MPs on 10 July. In a letter made public on Friday, Adams said that it was 'not clear' which document the committee was referring to at the time. One might have thought she may have sought to clarify exactly which document they were referring to before denying all knowledge of it but, there you go. People do funny things when they know they're in for a hiding. The 7 October note, drafted in 2010, has become central to the BBC pay-offs fiasco because it was drawn up to inform the BBC Trust about two of the most controversial pay-offs – to Byford and to former director of marketing Sharon Baylay, who received three hundred and ninety thousand smackers. The BBC Trust has since claimed not to have been 'fully briefed' on these redundancy deals. 'Ahead of my appearance in front of the public accounts committee on Monday 9 September, I wished to clarify to the Committee part of the evidence that I gave during the Committee hearing on the 10 July,' said Adams in a letter sent to the PAC on 2 September. 'During the 10 July hearing, the chair referred to a memo of 7 October 2010. At the time, I was not clear which document the chair was referring to and so I could not recollect with absolute certainty whether or not I had seen the memo sent by Mark Thompson to the then [BBC Trust] chairman [Sir Michael Lyons] on 7 October 2010. Since the hearing, I am now clear which document was being referred to and I can confirm that I was involved in drafting that memo, although I had not seen the final note sent to the Trust until recently.' Copies of e-mails between Thompson's office and the Trust provided by him to the PAC indicate that Adams played a key role in the final drafting of the 7 October memo. In one e-mail exchange, Adams is asked to 'give advice' on 'changes to the briefing note' requested by the BBC Trust. She replies: 'Yes they work for me.' In his PAC submission Thompson described Adams's evidence to the committee on this point as 'inexplicable', saying that she was 'one of the main authors' of the 7 October memo. Thompson added in his evidence to the PAC: 'This is not just a memo "for information" from me to the BBC Trust. Trust officials were, themselves, engaged closely in its composition and would not let it be formally submitted to the chairman until the wording was perfect from their point of view.' He also accused Lord Patten, who succeeded Lyons as BBC Trust chairman in 2011, and trustee Anthony Fry of 'fundamentally misleading' parliament over the extent of the governance and regulatory body's knowledge about the Byford and Baylay redundancy deals when they appeared before the PAC with Adams in July. Patten responded to Thompson's claims on Friday: 'I'll deal with it next week [at the PAC] and have no concerns at all about the remarks which Mr Thompson has made, except that at the end of the day I don't want to say or do anything which damages the BBC.' Meanwhile, vile and odious Ben Bradshaw, the former lack of culture secretary and ex-BBC journalist, said that this saga highlighted a need for the BBC Trust to be scrapped and for the corporation to be regulated by Ofcom, a fantastically bad idea and just the kind of shite one would expect from the vile and odious rascal Bradshaw who really seems to think he's it, dear blog reader. 'I think this does raise a deeper and more fundamental problem which some of us have been banging on about for quite a long time and that is the essential unsustainability of the current governance structure of the BBC and the fact you have this organisation, the Trust, which doesn't really act as an effective regulator nor as an effective cheerleader because it's expected to do both jobs in one,' the vile and odious rascal Bradshaw spewed to BBC Radio 4's The World at One on Friday. 'I do hope that the government will use this shambles as another reason for looking again at the governance of the BBC when it comes to our charter renewal. The BBC should have nothing to fear from independent regulation. It could be regulated by Ofcom – then it could have its own board which would do the job the boards of most organisations do and that would be a much more healthy settlement.' This, incidentally, is the self same vile and odious rascal Bradshaw who spent four years bashing the BBC at every given opportunity during in mid-2000s and then, just before the 2010 general election, suddenly realising that his party was about to lose, big-style, shat himself and issued one of the most sickeningly sycophantic and grovelling lick-arse appeals to the BBC to remember who its alleged 'friends' allegedly were in the face of an on-coming Tory government. That vile and odious rascal Bradshaw. With 'friends' like that, dear blog reader, who needs enemies?
Former BBC Radio 1 DJ and self-confessed hairy cornflake Dave Lee Travis has appeared at the Old Bailey to face eleven counts of indecent assault and one of sexual assault. He is accused of carrying out the offences between 1977 and 2007. The allegations relate to nine female complainants, aged between fifteen and twenty nine at the time of the alleged offences. The sixty eight-year-old, who will be tried under his real name - David Patrick Griffin - denies any wrongdoing. He was released on bail until 21 October. He is expected to enter a plea when he appears in court again next month. His solicitor has previously indicated he will deny the charges. A provisional date for his trial was given as 4 March 2014. During a twenty-minute hearing - the first time Travis had appeared before a judge at the crown court - prosecutors said the trial could last between four and five weeks. He made an initial court appearance before Westminster magistrates on 23 August. Travis, of Mentmore, was first arrested on suspicion of sexual offences by Operation Yewtree officers in November last year. The investigation was launched in the wake of wake of sexual offence allegations against ex-TV presenter, Radio 1 DJ and naughty old scallywag and rotter Jimmy Savile. The operation has a number of strands. One is looking specifically at the actions of Savile, and the second at allegations of sexual offences against 'Savile and others.' Travis's arrest fell within a third strand, relating to allegations against suspects unconnected to the Savile investigation.

BBC3 has commissioned a sequel to the acclaimed documentary My Brother The Islamist, after the film's subject was jailed for plotting terror attacks. Muslim convert Richard Dart was jailed in April after pleading guilty to terrorism charges. His extremist beliefs were laid bare in the 2011 documentary, which was made by his step-brother, Robb Leech. My Brother The Terrorist, will examine how British extremists become disconnected with society. 'Since Robb made the original film, he has even more reason to find out what causes people to go from having radical beliefs to doing certain things that have irrevocable consequences,' said producer Ray Tostevin. He added that Leech has had to overcome concerns from his family to make another film, following Dart's imprisonment in April and the subsequent events in Woolwich, when the solider Lee Rigby was killed by two men who were subsequently shot by police. 'Within a matter of weeks of his step-brother going to jail, Woolwich happened and Robb felt compelled to make another film,' said Tostevin. 'There are lots of questions around how we deal with people who have become disconnected with society and radicalised. Robb is able to examine the issues in a way no one else can do,' he added. My Brother The Terrorist will contain footage obtained during the making of the original documentary. Leech also hopes to speak to the radical cleric, Anjem Choudary, who refused to condemn the attack on Lee Rigby during an interview on BBC Newsnight, days after the attack. Robb's journey also includes meeting some of Dart's friends, including people who have been radicalised as well as those who have become de-radicalised. BBC3 controller Zai Bennett said: 'In My Brother The Islamist, first-time film-maker Robb Leech delivered an incredible insight into his step-brother's radicalisation. Richard Dart has since been imprisoned for preparing acts of terrorism and I feel it's fitting for Robb to bring BBC3 an update on this extraordinary story.' Dart, who has changed his name to Salahuddin al Britani, was jailed along with two other men for six years in April for engaging in conduct in preparation of acts of terrorism. His wife, Ayan Hadi, was given a one-year suspended jail sentence in July, for failing to give police information about her husband. My Brother The Terrorist is expected to air on BBC3 in 2014.

It may have become the last word in aristocratic chic in the US, but glakish, geographically challenged American visitors to the UK looking for 'the real' Downton Abbey are ending up somewhat disappointed. The Daily Torygraph reports that tourists are arriving in Downton in Wiltshire, asking for directions to 'the abbey.' It quotes a pub landlord who said: 'We had one couple who were absolutely adamant that this was where it was filmed.' Perhaps the show's location of Highclere Castle, forty miles away in Berkshire, is missing a trick – it could arrange for a signpost in Downton pointing the way to the 'real' abbey.
Risible gurning unfunny Northern gobshite Vernon Kay and odious know-it-all full-of-his-own-importance waste-of-space Irish-type person Colin Murray will front Channel Four's forthcoming coverage of the NFL season, it has been revealed. Which is not one but two very good reasons to avoid it like the plague, dear blog reader.
Yer actual Billy Connolly has, reportedly, put his Scottish mansion up for sale for £2.75 million. The twelve-bedroom baronial home Candacraig House, in Aberdeenshire, is set in fourteen acres of grounds, and includes a walled garden, its own river and 'a croquet lawn.' Previous guests at the palatial gaff have included the likes of Robin Williams, Steve Martin and Ewan McGregor. Nice. Meanwhile, the Big Yin his very self has revealed that he missed out on playing football with Bob Marley in the Seventies because he was 'too nervous' to meet The Rasta Man. 'He played for A&M Records and they were short of people on a Sunday. Gallagher and Lyle asked if I wanted to play and I said "yes" but I never showed up. I was embarrassed, shy and embarrassed. Sometimes I got overcome with shyness.' And, here's an example of Big Bill at his shyest, dear blog reader. 'People say it's a sign of a limited vocabulary, swearing. I don't agree with that. I know at least one hundred and twenty seven words and a still prefer "fuck"!'
The X Factor filming was reportedly disrupted in France due to noise coming from Nicolas Sarkozy's garden. A row is said to have erupted between producers and gardeners at the home of the former French president, according to the Mirra. Gardeners were allegedly causing delays with the Judges' Houses shoot in St Tropez, due to their use of noisy hedge trimmers. Six acts had flown out to France in an attempt to reach the live shows in Louis Walsh's category. The try-outs took place at a ten million smackers property next door to Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni's home. X Factor producers allegedly asked the gardeners to postpone their work until filming had been completed. Sadly, it appears that the gardeners did not tell The X Factor producers to, you know, go fuck themselves.

Various - as yet un-named - z-list celebrities will take on winter sports in a new Channel Four series. And, hopefully not, you know, fall over and break their necks. Because, whilst that might be entertaining television, it was be pretty hard to justify such a scenario to Ofcom. The Alpine Games will be shown in early 2014 ahead of the broadcaster's coverage of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Olympics. The series will be stripped across ten nights, with contestants taking part in events including slalom and ski jumping. Expert coaches and Olympians will train the the alleged celebrities for their challenges, with the names of those competing yet to be confirmed. 'The format is simple and compelling; the scale is enormous,' claimed Andrew Mackenzie of production company Twofour. 'I'm looking forward to seeing our first skier patiently waiting at the top of a large ski jump ramp.' Twofour previously produced the z-risible list celebrity diving series Pro-Celebrity Drowning for ITV. Which says it all, really.

Former Sky Sports duo hair-hands Richard Keys and Andy Gray are back on British TV screens. Sort of. But, not legally. The duo, who fronted Sky Sports’ coverage for nearly two decades before their acrimonious exit in 2011 following despicable sexist comments came to light concerning assistant referee Sian Massey (and several other women, including some of their colleagues), now present Al Jazeera's English-language coverage of Premier League games. Keys and Gray's appearances on rogue broadcasts, intended for the Middle East but being fed into numerous UK pubs and clubs, are directly affecting Premier League rights holders Sky - according to the Daily Scum Mail. So, hands up who, actually, feels sorry for Sky in this regard? Okay. Thank you. You can put your hand down now Mister Murdoch. Anyone else? No, thought not. The broadcasts, used by British establishments due to 'lax encryption processes', are very problematic for Sky, who paid £2.28 billion for the rights to the Premier League in what was a three-year package. And again, who's actually sympathetic towards Sky? Keys and Gray, who were widely criticised for the sexist comments which led to the high-profile sacking for Gray and hairy-hands Keys' jumping-before-he-was-pushed resignation from Sky, moved to Doha for their TV comeback and head up the Al Jazeera coverage. The Premier League reportedly told the Scum Mail that the unofficial Al Jazeera feed is 'a serious ongoing issue' and intend to 'hold urgent talks' regarding the screenings. Maybe they should have a word with Keys and Gray and ask them, nicely, if they wouldn't mind awfully not doing this. Or, maybe not.

Yer actual Sir Ian McKellen is to play a retired Sherlock Holmes in a new film by Oscar-winning director Bill Condon. The movie, A Slight Trick Of The Mind, will be adapted from Mitch Cullin's novel of the same name. Set in 1947, Sir Ian will play an elderly Sherlock, who is still trying to crack an unsolved, fifty-year-old case. It will reunite Sir Ian and Condon, who previously worked together on the 1998 drama Gods and Monsters, for which the actor received an Oscar nomination. Condon's other projects include Dreamgirls, the last two Twilight movies and his latest, The Fifth Estate, starring yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Condon will start shooting A Slight Trick Of The Mind in April 2014 in the UK. Sir Ian is joining a long list of actors to have played Sherlock Holmes, including current incumbents Robert Downey Jr in Guy Ritchie's popular movie series and Jonny Lee Miller in the US TV drama Elementary. The current BBC adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories, Sherlock, sees Cumberbatch his very self play a modern-day version of the detective. Brilliantly. You might have noticed.

And, speaking of Benny Cumberbatch, he has claimed that Julian Assange is 'unlikely to endorse' the movie about his WikiLeaks website that has opened the Toronto Film Festival. 'I'm not a betting man, but I reckon he won't particularly want to support the film,' Benny told reporters. Speaking on Friday, the Sherlock star would also not be drawn on how he thought the current stand-off over Assange's real-life future would be resolved. 'Who knows? It's very complicated and I'm not a legal expert,' he said. Unlike Sherlock his very self who, of course, is. Assange has been at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than a year after being granted political asylum. Swedish authorities want to question him over claims that he raped a woman and sexually molested another while on a visit to Stockholm in August 2010. 'I wouldn't want to furnish what I think should or might happen,' Cumberbatch said at a press conference held on the morning after his film's world première. 'It's to do with dealings behind closed doors for all of us, and I don't have access to any perspective or information that would shine a light on some certain truth. What I'd like to see is the man being able to carry on with his work,' he went on, in response to a question posed by the BBC News website. 'Beyond that, due process has to take place, in whatever shape or form that happens.' Charting the early days of the WikiLeaks whistle-blowing website and how it came to make thousands of sensitive classified documents public, The Fifth Estate is one of three Toronto titles in which Cumberbatch appears. The thirty seven-year-old will also be seen in Steve McQueen's Twelve Years A Slave, which has its Toronto première later, as well as the ensemble drama August: Osage County. Playing down suggestions that he was 'the man of the festival', the actor said his appearances were 'an embarrassment of riches. There are lots of other amazing men at this festival, some of whom are seated on this table,' he continued. 'But I'm flattered at the same time.' One of the men sharing the panel with Cumberbatch on Friday was former Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens. The thirty-year-old plays former Gruniad Morning Star journalist turned BBC Newsnight editor Ian Katz in The Fifth Estate and said the experience had made him 'more appreciative' of the journalistic profession. 'It was a great honour to just be a part of this story,' he told reporters. 'There are so many cogs in this machine and Ian is a very interesting one. It was fascinating to get into the mind of what it was like to be a journalist at that time, the danger and the paranoia.' Asked by BBC News about whether he had any 'qualms' about playing a journalist given his own brushes with the media, Stevens said that he was left with 'firmer convictions' than before. 'I think my sympathies for the good journalists increased, and my criticism of the bad ones also increased,' he said. 'It's really a question of truth. What is the truth and where do we get it from, and do we trust the people who claim to be giving it to us?' The Fifth Estate is released in the UK and Ireland on 11 October. Though, dear blog readers intending to go along to see it might want to wait a couple of weeks until all the squeeing Cumberbatch fangirls have been and gone.

The Last King of Scotland director Kevin MacDonald has signed up to direct the Elvis Presley biopic Last Train To Memphis, according to Variety. The film follows Presley's early years and is based on the best-selling 1995 Peter Guralnick biography. Film company Twentieth Century Fox have launched an open casting call for a young actor to play Elvis. At the Young Elvis Casting website actors aged between eighteen and twenty two can submit audition tapes. The site describes the film as the story of Presley's 'against-all-odds success due to his uncanny gift for self-invention, his unstoppable drive, and the new sound he created that changed the music world forever.' MacDonald, whose CV also includes the Oscar-winning documentary One Day In September and the acclaimed Touching The Void and State of Play, directed the 2012 documentary Marley about the life, music and legacy of His Imperial Majesty Bob Marley, an'ting. The film is being produced by Mick Jagger and Victoria Pearman at Jagged Films along with Steve Bing's Shangri-La company. Jagger is also producing the up-coming James Brown biopic Get On Up. A Jimi Hendrix biopic, All Is By My Side - starring OutKast musician Andre Three Thousand (probably not his real name), is showing at this year's Toronto Film Festival.

Critics have given a cold reception to a new film starring Naomi Watts as Diana the Princess of Wales in the final years of her life. The film, which premiered in London on Thursday, also stars Lost's Naveen Andrews as heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, with whom Diana had a two-year affair. The film company said that they set out to make 'an insightful and compassionate study of Diana's later years.' But British critics were not impressed and have called it 'atrocious and intrusive.' Writing in her one-star review, The Times' Kate Muir took aim at the biopic's 'squirmingly embarrassing script.' The Mirra's David Edwards described the movie as 'a cheap and cheerless effort that looks like a Channel Five mid-week matinee. The Queen of Hearts has been recast as a sad-sack singleton that even Bridget Jones would cross the street to avoid,' writes Edwards. Similarly Christopher Tookey's one-star review in the Daily Scum Mail managed to avoid the expected 'ban this sick filth cliches' but still brand the film as 'terribly, terribly dull. The movie is not as tacky or sensationalist as one might fear,' writes Tookey, but concludes 'the bottom of the royal barrel has been scraped once too often.' Heh. He said 'bottom' in the Daily Scum Mail. 'I hesitate to use the term "car crash drama"', writes Gruniad Morning Star critic Peter Bradshaw, rather tastelessly. 'But the awful truth is that, sixteen years after that terrible day in 1997, she has died another awful death. This is due to an excruciatingly well-intentioned, reverential and sentimental biopic about her troubled final years, laced with bizarre cardboard dialogue - a tabloid fantasy of how famous and important people speak in private.' Watts, best known for her Oscar-nominated turns in last year's The Impossible and Twenty One Grams, also comes in for criticism. Bradshaw says 'Watts's elaborate impression has the doe-eyed gaze of seduction and reproach.' But adds that 'she looks like she's in a two-hour Spitting Image sketch, scripted by Jeffrey Archer.' In the Mirra, Edwards scoffs that Watts 'looks, acts and sounds nothing like the Princess of Wales. Wesley Snipes in a blonde wig would be more convincing.' Watts had already caused some controversy by walking out of an interview with BBC 5Live's Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode last week in a state of high-dudgeon that, seemingly, anyone dared to question her utter brilliance. Speaking on Friday's edition of his show, Mayo suggested that Watts was 'defensive' during their interview and that she 'seemed nervous' doing it alone. The interview is likely to be broadcast next Friday on 5Live. The Independent's Geoffrey McNab gives a somewhat kinder three-star review, praising Watts's 'intense and volatile performance', but echoes other comments from harsher critics that the forty four-year-old actress 'doesn't really resemble the character she is playing. What makes it frustrating as a film though, are its many sudden shifts in mood,' he adds. In a wholly surprising twist that no one could have predicted, the Daily Scum Express seems to be the only British newspaper with a good word to say about this fiasco, describing the film as 'a must see this autumn [which] will leave the audience in tears.' Though, probably not for the reasons that it'll leave Daily Scum Express readers in tears, I'm guessing.
There's a very interesting piece by the Torygraph's Luke Edwards on the fiasco that has been yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies' summer: 'Mike Ashley does not strike me as the sort of man who worries about whether people like him or not. Neither does he seem the type of businessman who listens to criticism, but even he must be tempted to get rid of Joe Kinnear. From the moment Kinnear revealed he was taking up the position in a clumsy interview on Sky Sports News back in June [it was, actually, TalkSport], the sixty six-year-old has done nothing that suggests he has the skills needed to be successful as Newcastle United's Director of Football. Regardless of the thinking behind it – sources close to Ashley have stressed he wanted somebody he liked and trusted – Ashley must realise he was wrong to bring Kinnear back into football after almost nine years out of the game. If Kinnear's interviews are an indication of his communications skills – rambling, confrontational and littered with inaccuracies – it is no surprise Newcastle failed to make any permanent signings this summer. When fans and pundits questioned Kinnear's credentials we were described as "stupid". As head of recruitment, with overall responsibility for the football side of the business, we were told to judge Kinnear on his signings. As he only managed to make one, a loan deal for Loic Remy, a player Newcastle had been set to sign in January before the striker bolted to QPR for more money, the evidence is in and it is damning. Regardless of official club statements released in manager Alan Pardew's name this week, Newcastle failed to do what they set out to over the summer and the squad is weaker now than it was in May. The buck stops with the man who boasted he had more knowledge of the game than any who dared to suggest he might struggle. Shame Kinnear didn't back his brash words with deeds.'
In an interview with French-language newspaper, Le Devoir, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois (no, me neither) has criticised England's policy of multiculturalism. Whilst she admits that 'the French model' is 'not perfect', Marois claims, 'in England, they're at each other's throats, throwing bombs because it's multicultural.' And that's just a Saturday night after the footie, dear blog reader. So, anyway, thanks most sincerely for the observation, Pauline. Now, maybe, if you'd like to get on with your own job - what that actually entails - and leave us alone to, you know, run our own lives as we've been doing perfectly well for the last couple of thousand years without your help, that'd be really helpful. It just goes to prove, dear blog reader, that what's true of politicians in one country is pretty much true of politicians all over the world. A) they're all - without exception - utter and complete scum. And B) they're all - without exception - in love with the sound of their own voices.
On the many occasions Mad Frankie Boyle finds himself embroiled in - usually media-contrived - controversy, there's normally one newspaper which, perhaps surprisingly, stands back from the fray: the Sun. Possibly because Mad Frankie writes a regular (and, usually, quite entertaining) column for them. Or at least 'wrote' since his final one appeared last week. Will the billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch title be so soft on Mad Frankie in future now that he's no longer a tool of Wapping Central? And if you're looking for the next potential ferfuffle regarding yer man Frankie, it may come from the title of his next book, Scotland's Jesus. The title also carries the flash: 'The Only Officially Non-Racist Comedian' in reference to Frankie's - genuinely hilarious - libel victory against the Daily Mirra.

A history of Judaism, a biography of Margaret Thatcher and a book about bees are all nominated for this year's Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. The Story of the Jews by acclaimed British historian Simon Schama is one of eighteen books competing for the twenty grand prize. Journalist Charles Moore was hand-picked by Margaret Thatcher to write her story, published shortly after her death in April. The winner will be announced in London on 4 November. Schama's book, which looks at the Jewish story, starting three thousand years ago, has also been serialised for BBC2. It features on the long-list beside Gruniad Morning Star journalist Charlotte Higgins' Under Another Sky about the Roman legacy in Britain. Conservationist Dave Goulson, who has long been obsessed with wildlife, details the mysterious ways of the bumblebee. Also nominated are former Conservative MP Douglas Hurd and Edward Young's reassessment of Benjamin Disraeli, Andrew Solomon's study of families with exceptional children and a biography of Mount Everest explorer Griffith Pugh by Harriet Tuckey. The prize aims to highlight original, diverse and thought-provoking books which bring non-fiction subjects to a wide audience. It covers areas from current affairs to sport, history, travel and the arts. Martin Rees, chair of the judges, said: 'Deciding on the long-list was at once a demanding and a delightful task for the judges. We were privileged to have the pretext to read so many excellent books. But sifting out an agreed long-list of eighteen entailed tough choices. The range of titles on the list reflects the welcome diversity and quality of non-fiction writing. We're confident that readers will find much to admire and enjoy in these original, enlightening and thought-provoking books.' Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest, by Wade Davis, was last year's winner. The shortlist will be announced on 30 September, when the BBC Culture Show will broadcast pieces about the six shortlisted books. BBC Radio 4's World at One will also broadcast a series of interviews with the shortlisted authors in the lead-up to the winner announcement.

NASA has launched its latest mission to the Moon. The unmanned LADEE probe lifted off from the Wallops rocket facility on the US east coast on schedule on Saturday. Its two hundred and eighty million dollar mission - to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilisations and boldly go where no unmanned probe has gone before - is to investigate the very tenuous atmosphere which surrounds the lunar body. It will also try to get some insights on the strange behaviour of moon dust, which appears on occasions to levitate high above the surface. In addition, LADEE will test a new laser communications system that NASA hopes at some point to put on future planetary missions. Lasers have the capacity to transmit data at rates that dwarf conventional radio connections. LADEE stands for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer. Its programme scientist, Sarah Noble, says the mission is likely to surprise a lot of people who have been brought up to believe that the Moon has no atmosphere. 'It does; it's just it's really, really thin,' she told reporters. 'It's so thin that the individual molecules are so few and far between that they don't interact with each other; they never collide. It's something we call an exosphere. The Earth has an exosphere as well, but you have to get out past where the International Space Station orbits before you get to this condition that we can consider an exosphere. At the Moon, it happens right at the surface.' Scientists are interested in understanding such wispy shrouds because they are actually the most common type of atmosphere in the Solar System. Mercury has one, as do a lot of the moons of the gas giants. Even some big asteroids are likely to have one. The dust phenomenon has puzzled researchers for decades. Apollo astronauts reported seeing a diffuse glow above the lunar horizon just before sunrise. The speculation has been that this glow was caused by electrically charged dust particles being lifted from the Moon's surface by ultraviolet light from the Sun. LADEE's remote-sensing and sampling instrumentation will test this idea. What it learns about the dust is also likely to inform engineers who are developing the systems to take humans back to the Moon and to other destinations where dust could be an issue, such as on asteroids. This fine particulate material, which comprises remnant rock shattered through eons of meteorite impacts, is considered a major hazard. 'It's not like terrestrial dust,' observed Butler Hine, NASA's LADEE project manager. 'Terrestrial dust is like talcum powder. On the Moon, it's very rough. It's kind of evil. It follows electric field lines; it works its way into equipment. One of the questions about dust on the Moon is an engineering question: how do you design things so that they can survive the dust environment.' Apollo astronauts found the chaffing moon dust would stick to everything. And there are concerns that if such material were breathed in, it could lead to respiratory problems. Having been launched by its Minotaur V rocket, LADEE will be sent on a long spiral out to the Moon. This will take about a month. A further month will then be needed to commission the spacecraft before its altitude is taken down to as low as twenty kilometres above the surface for a one hundred-day phase of science observations. LADEE will end its mission by crashing into the Moon. As well as its three science instruments, LADEE carries a demonstration laser telecommunications payload. This system promises a big jump in data transmission rates. Engineers are hoping the test terminal on LADEE will achieve download rates in the region of six hundred megabits per second. A number of receiving stations on Earth will be used, including the European Space Agency's optical ground station on Tenerife. ESA is keen to participate in the LADEE comms project because it too has ambitions in this area. Europe and the US will often download data from each other's probes, and there will need to be some cooperation if the new technology is to be used the same way in the future. 'We need some common standards, especially in optics,' said Zoran Sodnik, the manager for ESA's Lunar Optical Communication Link project. 'There are a lot of ground stations that operate in radio frequencies, and ESA and NASA have a long-lasting cross-support agreement. But in optical comms, there are very few ground stations. And if you don't try to agree on some standards, you will not be able to support the other agency's activities, and you would not be able to download the amounts of data that you would be able to download otherwise,' he told BBC News. John Grunsfeld, the head of science at NASA, said he had no doubts that optical communications was the way of the future. 'Our Mars 2020 mission – we've already been having discussions about whether you could do laser comms on a rover on the surface of Mars. I think there is no question that as we send humans further out into the Solar System, certainly to Mars, if we want to have high-def, 3D video, we’re going to have laser comms sending that information back.'

Star Trek writer Roberto Orci has criticised some fans after reading an article about how the franchise is 'broken.' Ah, The Special People? Yes, in Doctor Who fandom we've got a few of those as well. Best to just ignore them, mate, in the great scheme of things they're a massive inconsequence. Orci - who worked on the 2009 reboot and this year's sequel Star Trek Into Darkness - described fans as 'shitty' in a post on the website. On 1 September, the fan site published an article titled Star Trek is broken - here are ideas on how to fix it, written by someone of no importance whom, to the best of anyone's knowledge, has never written for film or television. Merely, the Internet. This prompted Orci to comment on the site under the screen-name 'boborci'. Orci's identity was subsequently confirmed by moderator Matt Wright. Orci wrote: 'I think the article above is akin to a child acting out against his parents. Makes it tough for some to listen, but since I am a loving parent, I read these comments without anger or resentment, no matter how misguided.' He rejected the idea that the Star Trek franchise is 'broken', adding that the last two movies have received the 'best reviews.' The forty-year-old continued: 'Having said that, two biggest Star Treks in a row with best reviews is hardly a description of "broken." And frankly, your tone and attitude make it hard for me to listen to what might otherwise be decent notions to pursue in the future. As I love to say, there is a reason why I get to write the movies, and you don't.' Ooo, get her. That's what, in the industry, in known as 'a proper bee'atch-slapping.', I believe. He went on to respond to criticism of Star Trek Into Darkness - mostly, from glakes - which was recently voted the worst movie in the long-running franchise by some fans at some convention somewhere, as though such as bollocking sad triviality as that actually matters when the movie's already taken over four hundred million dollars in worldwide box office receipts from 'normal people'. Orci responded: 'STID has infinitely more social commentary than Raiders in every universe, and I say that with Harrison Ford being a friend. You lose credibility big time when you don't honestly engage with the FUCKING WRITER OF THE MOVIE ASKING YOU AN HONEST QUESTION. You prove the cliche of shitty fans. And, rude in the process. So, as Simon Pegg would say: FUCK OFF!' Yes. Might want to revisit that 'without anger or resentment' thing again, Bob. mate. I'm not saying you're wrong - in fact, you're not - but pissing off the fans isn't, generally speaking, a good way of conducting yourself. Even if they deserve it. And even if, you, I and they know for certain that they'll be back for the next movie. And the one after. Orci has subsequently suggested that he 'regrets' his comments, tweeting: 'Hope you know many fans don't agree [with the] article or the obnoxious comments directed at you. Sorry I reacted.'

They don't sound like the most practical of under garments to be wearing when you're about to board a plane for a few hours. But it would seem that Caroline Flack didn't think twice about donning a pair of metal-studded undies earlier this week. And, that led to airport metal detectors going off like the klaxons on Qi and Flack reportedly being strip-searched by curious security staff looking for concealed items. At least, that was their excuse and they're sticking to it. The thirty three-year-old reality TV presenter was, ahem, 'given the once over' by a guard after her bejewelled panties set of metal detectors at Marseille Airport. She was flying back from Saint Tropez to the UK after filming Louis Walsh’s judge's houses stage of The X Factor. An alleged 'friend' of the alleged presenter allegedly told the Sun: 'Caroline had some studding detail on her underwear that set off the alarm. She was a bit embarrassed but saw the funny side.'

And, speaking of knicker-related mishaps, Toni Braxton was the victim of an embarrassing on-stage wardrobe malfunction as she performed in New Jersey earlier this week. The singer revealed her bottom to a sea of delighted fans as her dress slipped down mid-tune. But Toni failed to notice the faux pas and continued to flash her arse to a cheering, sexually discombobulated crowd, most of whom had The Horn, big-style. It wasn't until one of her dancer got close enough to Toni to whisper in her ear - we're presuming it was something along the lines of 'Oi, Toni, pet. Yer ass is showin', put it away, love' that she quickly tugged up the skirt in an attempt to cover any remaining dignity.

Some things on the Internet are REALLY funny, dear blog reader. Like this, for instance. Yeah. I think it was probably a good idea to stop filming at that point.
And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader. This one is for that young lady, there.

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