Sunday, September 15, 2013

Week Thirty Nine: Blurring The Lines

Yer actual Peter Davison his very self has confirmed that he will be 'involved' in some way in Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary shenanigans and malarkey. The sixty four-year-old actor, who portrayed the fifth Doctor - excellently - from 1981 to 1984, refused to say whether he would appear in The Day Of The Doctor, the seventy five-minute special starring yer actual Matt Smith and David Tennant his very self, which will be broadcast on BBC1 on 23 November. Speaking to BANG Showbiz, Peter said: 'I'm making an appearance somewhere over that period of time. But, I can't reveal in what. I can't reveal anything specific about it. I'm not allowed to. It is a big year for the show and we're all doing our bit for it. Trust me.' Peter also revealed that he believes Doctor Who will eventually come to an end and that people will 'get a bit tired' of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama. Well, it's happened before. But, it's not going to happen tomorrow. Or, indeed, next week. He said: 'There will get to a point where people get a bit tired of Doctor Who. I don't know, maybe it will need a little rest. I'd love to see it carry on but you can never tell.' The actor also offered his thoughts on Peter Capaldi, who takes over as The Doctor from Smudger during the Christmas episode this December. Davison described The Thick Of It actor as 'a brilliant choice', adding: 'He's a fantastic actor and he has that sort of sense of humour. He has an edge to him as well and I think it's nice to have a maturer Doctor. I grew up with mature Doctors so I think it's an excellent choice.' Peter went on to jokingly compare Doctor Who to 'the North Korean dynasty', as Tennant - who married Peter's daughter, Georgia Moffett - is Davison's son-in-law. 'We're just going to pass it on down the line until one of us pops our clogs. It's all ours now - it's the Davison and Tennant dynasty,' he said.

Now, you may not know this, dear blog reader but, in actual fact, here's a little bit of top celebrity scandal for you all. Yer Keith Telly Topping his very self has totally slept with yer actual Peter Davison. True story. And, on that bombshell ...
The acclaimed BBC America series The Doctors Revisited is coming to UKTV subscription channel Watch as part of the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary celebrations. Hailed by some fans as 'one of the finest programmes about the show' (albeit, it doesn't have a great deal of competition on that score), the eleven -part serial focuses an episode on each regeneration of the Time Lord. It has been broadcasting in the US since January – with one episode shown each month, followed by an adventure featuring The Doctor in question – and will culminate with Matt Smith's Doctor in November. The Doctors Revisited will be broadcast at weekends, with the premiere of The First Doctor to be shown on Saturday 12 October at 2:00pm, followed by the accompanying story 1964's magnificent mock-Shakespearean four-part costume drama The Aztecs - still one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite half-dozen Doctor Who stories ever. Sunday will then see The Second Doctor at the same time, accompanied by another real cracker, 1967's The Tomb of The Cybermen. The following weekend then sees The Third Doctor on the Saturday alongside Jon Pertwee's debut story, 1970's Spearhead From Space and The Fourth Doctor alongside 1975's cod-Hammer chiller Pyramids of Mars on Sunday. The documentaries were originally broadcast monthly by BBC America, and were shown in Australia and New Zealand during August by BBC Worldwide's UKTV. Other programming to accompany the launch of Doctor Who Revisited on the 12 October includes the documentaries The Companions at 4:30pm and Doctor Who Explained at 5:30pm, both of which are repeated before The Second Doctor on the Sunday. Watch's schedules do not currently extend beyond the 20 October, but based on the pattern above the Fifth and Sixth Doctor episode are expected for 26 and 27 October, the Seventh and Eighth on 2 and 3 November, the Ninth and Tenth on 9 and 10 November, and the Eleventh on the 16 November - completing the series one week before the fiftieth anniversary itself. The Doctors Revisited will begin on Watch in the second week of October and complements a roster of tribute programmes on the BBC. The centrepiece, of course, will be the fiftieth anniversary special its very self, The Day Of The Doctor. The seventy five-minute episode feature the return of classic monsters The Zygons, as well as The Daleks, The Cybermen and The Doctor's para-military allies UNIT. Supporting programmes include a lecture by physicist Professor Brian Cox on the science behind the science fiction. An Adventure In Space and Time, Mark Gatiss's BBC4 biopic drama about the creation and early years of the show will also be broadcast, and will be bolstered by the four episodes of the first ever Doctor Who story, An Unearthly Child, in a newly restored version. Meanwhile, BBC2's The Culture Show is to present Me, You and Doctor Who in which broadcaster and fan Matthew Sweet explores the show's cultural significance, while a ninety-minute documentary on BBC Radio 2 will ask Who Is The Doctor? To which the answer is, it's Matt Smith at the moment but, by the end of the year it'll be Peter Capaldi. What they're going to do with the other eighty nine and a half minutes, I'll leave up to your imaginings, dear blog reader.

And finally with regard to Doctor Who, have a gander at this, dear blog reader.
Penny Dreadful, a highly-anticipated new US thriller series with an all-star cast, will be broadcast in the UK on Sky Atlantic, it has been confirmed. Josh Hartnett, Eva Green yer actual Billie Piper and Timothy Dalton are among the confirmed cast. Executive-produced by John Logan, Pippa Harris and Oscar winner Sam Mendes, the drama will bring back to life some of horror literature's most iconic characters such as Doctor Frankenstein, Dorian Gray and Dracula. Hartnett takes on the role of Ethan Chandler, 'a charming American who finds himself trapped in the darkest corners of Victorian London.' Eva Green is 'seductive and formidable beauty' Vanessa Ives, while Piper will play Brona Croft, 'an Irish immigrant in Victorian London trying to escape a dark past, beggorah, bejesus where's me shillelagh?' Dalton will play Sir Malcolm, 'a hardened African explorer on a deeply personal quest.' Rory Kinnear, Harry Treadaway and Reeve Carney will also star. Sounds rather good.

One of London’s most cherished TV fan sites has been stripped bare. A red phone box next to St Bartholomew's Hospital had become an impromptu shrine to Sherlock Holmes, following the second series finale of Sherlock in which yer actual Benny Cumberbatch seemingly fell to his death from the hospital roof. Fans of the series left cards, ribbons, graffiti and other mementos to their hero. John Watson and Jim Moriarty also attracted tributes. From, you know, weirdos. But 'a cultural vandal' has now removed most of the messages according to the Londonist website. The naked phone box is, it would seem, 'bereft of its individuality.' The absence of messages is unlikely to last long, of course. A fresh note has already appeared inside the box, cunningly tethered by means of an adhesive plaster. Fan mentalness is sure to grow further in anticipation of the third series of Sherlock, currently filming around London and elsewhere and due to be broadcast this winter.

You may remember some weeks ago, dear blog reader, that yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self agreed to help out a mate in need by appearing at the lovely John Scott's regular monthly comedy night Sod The Tories (And Have A Nice Week) at The Stand. Well, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is totally delighted to inform all dear blog readers that a podcast of highlights of the night in question is now thoroughly available at the Giggle Beats website including some of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's (not particularly funny, let it be said) contributions during the Ask The Activist section. Check it out here (and, be advised, it includes lots of adult language and that. So, if you're under-age, you know, don't go there or, if you do, don't be surprised by all the effing and blinding). Yer actual Keith Telly Topping appears from about forty minutes in but, have a listen to the whole thing if you've got time, there's some really good comedy malarkey therein.

Life On Mars actors Philip Glenister and Liz White are to reunite for upcoming BBC drama From There To Here. The BBC confirmed the three-parter, which depicts the lives of two families caught in the aftermath of the 1996 IRA bomb attack on Manchester city centre. The drama will chronicle the closing years of the Twentieth Century, beginning with the bombing and ending with the post-millennium hangover, with an all-star cast led by Glenister and yer actual Bernard Hill. From There to Here is described by its author, Peter Bowker, as 'a love letter to Manchester – warts and all' – and will begin on the day that an IRA bomb ripped through its city centre. The three-part BBC1 drama, which began filming last week, will also encompass Tony Blair's triumphant entry into Downing Street and the subsequent fate of New Labour. 'The story of how Manchester rebuilt and reinvented itself yet again was a microcosm of what came later,' said Bowker. '[The bomb] was a terrible event, but it allowed something phoenix-like to rise from it.' Bowker's story begins with an attempted family reunion in Manchester city centre at the time the bomb went off, on the morning of 15 June 1996. More than two hundred people were injured by the largest peacetime bomb detonated in Britain, but - remarkably - no one was killed. On the afternoon of the same day, England played Scotland in the Euro 96 championships at Wembley. 'I wanted to write about that summer because I thought that was where it all began,' said Bowker. 'Although it was the fag end of the Tory government it felt like a new Labour summer, it felt like we had already got a new dawn.' Hill – who played the legendary Yosser Hughes in Alan Bleasdale's acclaimed 1980s drama Boys From The Blackstuff – and Glenister play father-and-son owners of a sweet factory. Hill's character falls out with his other son, played by Steven Mackintosh, who owns a nightclub. Saskia Reeves and Daniel Rigby, who played Eric Morecambe in Bowker's award-winning BBC biopic Eric & Ernie, also star along with Liz White. Stockport-born Bowker, whose other credits include Occupation, about three soldiers adjusting to civilian life after Iraq, and Blackpool, the memorable 2004 series starring David Morrissey as a deluded amusement arcade owner and David Tennant, said at its heart From There To Here was a story about family, but also about politics. 'One of the characters gets very politically involved in New Labour and there's an attempt to explore some of the contradictions at the heart of that project,' he said. 'I am always fascinated by how political arguments are played out in families; what people say and imagine their politics to be, and how that contradicts with their day-to-day lives.' Made by Kudos Film and Television, which produced ITV's hit murder mystery Broadchurch as well as Life On Mars, [spooks], Hustle, Ashes To Ashes et al, it is being directed by James Strong (who also directed Broadchurch). Executive producer Derek Wax said Bowker 'brings to life a family, city and era with complexity, originality, scale and humour.' Bowker said: 'I wanted to do in contemporary drama what costume drama is given the room and latitude to do: to explore something that is simultaneously about character and informed by bigger events and issues of the day. I think I said the same thing when I was pitching Blackpool years ago. In one sense, 1996 makes it a costume drama.' But Bowker played down comparisons with another BBC state-of-the-nation drama, Peter Flannery's seminal Our Friends in the North, made in 1996, which spanned four decades rather than the four years of From There to Here. 'That's one of the great TV dramas of all time, it's a big shadow to carry,' said Bowker. '[My drama] may sound slightly grim, but there's lots of humour in it – gallows Mancunian humour.' Glenister said he was 'really excited to be working alongside such an outstanding cast and crew. And of course to be back filming in my adopted home town of Manc.'

There's an interesting piece in the Gruniad by Andrew Collins his very self on the cult of the showrunner: 'At last month's Edinburgh TV festival, a "masterclass" with unassuming, down-home Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan was the biggest draw. In a forthcoming, illuminating feature from Irish film-maker Des Doyle, the Kickstarter-funded Showrunners: A Documentary Film, the august likes of Joss Whedon (Buffy and soon-to-air Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire) take centre stage, with Spartacus's Steven S DeKnight describing a panel at Comic-Con being 'a little bit like a rock concert.' You can see why British writers might hanker after such superstar status. But do we really need it in British drama? Dennis Potter was never a showrunner. Troy Kennedy-Martin didn't exec-produce Edge of Darkness. Isn't this just another example of us emulating the Yanks, showing off by saying "season" for "series", and "sizzle reel" for "trailer"? After all, they do things differently there. Compare the credits of current Gothic ITV procedural Whitechapel and Channel Five's high-concept US import Under The Dome. The former lists one producer and two writers (the show's creators, Ben Court and Caroline Ip); the latter, one writer, three producers, two co-producers, one co-executive producer and eight executive producers. Such a large circus cries out for a ringmaster. [Chris] Chibnall thinks our adoption of the showrunning ethic can improve British TV by "putting the creative vision at the heart of a show." He refers to the first scene shot in the police interview room in Broadchurch, which was "essentially a square box. I'd wanted windows and a curve to connect the interior and exterior worlds, so that we could have all kinds of light variations. An extra wall was added in. As a writer, I wouldn't have had that clout – as a showrunner, I do."' Fascinating stuff.

BBC2's Peaky Blinders attracted over two million viewers on its début on Thursday, according to overnight data. The period crime drama starring Cillian Murphy and Sam Neill attracted a superb audience of 2.42m at 9pm. Earlier, Harvest 2013 was seen by 2.19m at 8pm, while Mock The Week attracted 1.29m at 10pm. On BBC1, yer actual Crimewatch gave nightmares to 3.10m at 9pm. Later, Question Time bored the tits off 1.74m at 10.35pm. ITV's latest sitcom disaster, Pat and Cabbage, dropped around three hundred thousand punters from the previous week's opening episode to 2.79m at 8.30pm, while Tamsin Greig's The Guilty lost almost a million from its première to 2.73m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Location, Location, Location continued with 2.17m at 8pm, followed by Educating Yorkshire with 2.78m at 9pm. Bouncers appealed to 1.77m at 10pm. Channel Five's Celebrity Big Brother was crass and banal as usual and had 1.44m numskull glakes watching it at 9pm.

The first part of the Celebrity Big Brother final attracted 2.05m crushed victims of society at 9pm on Channel Five on Friday evening, overnight data suggests. The ratings were down 1.2m on last year's equivalent episode, but almost exactly the same as the final in 2011. An audience of 1.60m returned to Channel Five at 11pm to see Charlotte Crosby (no, me neither) announced as the winner. On BBC1, The ONE Show interested 3.6m From 7pm, after which Fake Britain appealed to 2.75m at 7.30pm. The latest episode of the wretched Big School attracted 2.93m at 9pm and a repeat of Mrs Brown's Boys beat the unfunny David Walliams education sitcom ass's hollow when it took 3.61m at 9.30pm. Another repeat, Would I Lie To You?, followed with 2.45m at 10:35. it was a pretty good night for BBC2 which steady audiences right across primetime. The Hairy Bikers' Best of British was watched by 1.29m at 7pm. Mastermind then interested 2.01m and Gardeners' World took 2.23m (9.9%), while Harvest 2013 and Qi had audiences of 2.08m and 1.92m respectively from 9pm. On ITV, Gino's Italian Escape was seen by 3.11m from 8pm. Brit Icons followed with 2.41m at 9pm. Channel Four's Four Rooms secured seven hundred and ten thousand at 8pm, followed by Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown with 1.58m at 9pm. Alan Carr: Chatty Man, which featured an appearance from naughty Miley Cyrus, had 1.39m viewers at 10pm.

The X Factor continued with 8.65m overnight punters on ITV on Saturday night. The third auditions show, which aired from 8pm, was up seven hundred thousand on last week's Saturday episode. It peaked which 8.85m at 8.45pm. Earlier,wretched, risible Strictly Come Dancing rip-off, sorry homage, Stepping Out was watched by 3.12m at 6.30pm, up almost a million punters from last week's clash with Strictly Come Dancing. However, the worst statistic of the night in terms of the nation's intellect was that .423m punters watched Through the Keyhole at 9pm. Horrifying, dear blog reader. Absolutely horrifying. The movie I Am Legend was watched by nine hundred and sixty thousand from 10.15pm. On BBC1, dreadful unfunny fiasco I Love My Country staggeringly appealed to 3.23m. The National Lottery: Break The Safe then scored 3.12m at 8pm and Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow pulled in 2.68m at 9.45pm. Match of the Day had 3.65m at 10.30pm. Strictly's return in a fortnight, frankly, can't come quickly enough for a BBC1 Saturday line-up which is looking desperately tired and in need of a good, hard kick right up the arse. On BBC2, Dad's Army took 1.45m at 7pm and Count Arthur Strong interested six hundred and eighty thousand punters half an hour later. Thatcher: The Downing Street Years was seen by six hundred and ten thousand at 8pm, while Mock The Week had an audience of seven hundred thousand viewers from 9.15pm and The Many Faces of ... Ronnie Barker had 1.28m at 9.40pm. At 10.45pm, a repeat of a classic Porridge episode - A Day Out (the one with The Magic Roundabout joke) - pulled in 1.01m. On Channel Four, Double Your House For Half The Money and Grand Designs had seven hundred and seventy thousand and one million viewers respectively from 7pm. The movie Battle: Los Angeles was watched by 1.39m at 9pm. Channel Five broadcast cricket highlights from 7pm, with five hundred and sixty three thousand punters tuning in. Live Boxing followed at 8pm, attracting eight hundred and twenty five thousand viewers. Western film Unforgiven was watched by three hundred and seventy three thousand from 10.15pm. Ford Saturday Night Football Live was the highest rated broadcast on the multichannels, picking up 1.05m on Sky Sports 1 from 5pm. Midsomer Murders followed with nine hundred and ninety thousand on ITV3 at 9pm.

The X Factor attracted over nine million overnight viewers for its third Sunday episode. The talent show was up over four hundred thousand punters from Saturday's edition to 9.08m at 8pm. However, this was down around thirty thousand from the previous Sunday. Holly Willoughby's new series of Surprise, Surprise was watched by 5.09m at 7pm. The final episode of Vera of the current series interested 4.64m at 9pm. On BBC1, Countryfile appealed to 6.11m, followed by Antiques Roadshow with 5.26m at 8pm. The final episode of the drama What Remains gathered in 4.27m punters at 9pm. BBC2's final Dragons' Den of the current run attracted 2.21m at 8pm. On Channel Four, the Simon Pegg and Nick Frost movie Paul brought in 2.58m for its terrestrial debut at 9pm. On Channel Five, Will Smith's Hancock was watched by 1.18m at 7pm.

Here, meanwhile, are the final and consolidated figures for the Top Twenty Eight programmes for week-ending 8 September 2013:-
1 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 10.59m
2 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 9.53m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.37m
4 Doc Martin - Mon ITV - 9.04m
5 New Tricks - Tues BBC1 - 8.65m
6 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.82m
7 The Great British Bake-Off - Tues BBC2 - 7.71m
8 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.52m*
9 Celebrity MasterChef - Tues BBC1 - 6.28m
10 Vera - Sun ITV - 5.55m*
11 Countryfile - Sat BBC1 - 5.35m
12 World Cup Qualifier: England Versus Moldova - Fri BBC1 - 5.33m
13 Whitechapel - Sat BBC1 - 5.09m
14 Antiques Roadshow - Sat BBC1 - 5.06m
15 What Remains - Sun BBC1 - 5.04m
16 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.87m
17 Through The Keyhole - Sat ITV - 4.85m*
18 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.63m
19 Nigel Slater's Dish of The Day - Fri BBC1 - 4.42
20 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.38m
21 BBC O'Clock News - Sun BBC1 - 4.34m
22= The Last Night Of The Proms - Sat BBC1 - 4.31m
22= Who Do You Think You Are? - Wed BBC1 - 4.31m
24 Educating Yorkshire - Thurs Channel Four - 4.19m
25 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 4.18m
26 Big Star's Little Star - Wed ITV - 4.14*
27 The Guilty - Thurs ITV - 4.07m
28 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.03m
Those ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's top-rated programmes of the week, aside from The Great British Bake-Off were University Challenge (2.87m) and Qi 2.70m. Grand Designs topped Channel Four's list (2.72m) behind Educating Yorkshire's superb figure. Celebrity Big Brother, inevitably, topped Channel Five's week (2.44m numskulls). Whitechapel's final, consolidated figure shows a considerable timeshift increase from the drama's initial overnight figure. The Saturday episode of The X Factor was watched by 9.24m giving the head-to-head victory to Strictly Come Dancing by a narrow margin.

To ratings figures on the other side of the Atlantic now, not something we often cover on From The North, but yer actual Keith Telly Topping will make an exception on this very occasion. The return of The X Factor USA has been beaten in the overnight ratings by Big Brother as its audience figures drop to an all-time low. Wednesday's episode on the FOX network drew 6.2 million viewers, compared with 6.7 million for Big Brother on CBS, according to initial overnight figures. The first episode of The X Factor pulled in 12.1 million people in 2011. Season three saw new judges Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio join the returning Demi Lovato and Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads. The X Factor was broadcast for one hour on Wednesday, compared to its typical two hours in previous seasons. The final of MasterChef US, which followed The X Factor on FOX at 21:00, also drew 6.2 million viewers. According to the industry magazine, Variety, that represented a rise on previous weeks. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads announced in October that The X Factor would be returning for a third season. The decision by TV bosses in America surprised many as viewing figures have continued to fall since the show began in 2011.

The BBC has a principle by which it measures the success (or, you know, otherwise) of its TV shows, according to a piece of worthless tat masquerading as 'news' in the Gruniad Morning Star - are they 'fresh and new'? The BBC's director of television, Danny Cohen, said that it was 'another way' the corporation measured the impact of a programme, along with its overnight rating and the long-established audience Appreciation Index. 'We use another metric, "fresh and new", to see if we are making stuff that feels risk taking and distinctive enough,' Cohen told the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge on Friday. 'It's something that we are using to try and track whether the audience thinks our programmes are just that, fresh and new. Are they creatively risk taking, do they stand out? What we as an industry think as fresh and new is not always the same as the audience.' But 'fresh and new' did not always have to mean an entirely new format, Cohen added. 'It can be established format that has been changed, and that can be perceived as fresh and new.' Cohen said the industry had to change its attitude to overnight TV ratings in a world of on-demand services such as Netflix and the BBC's own iPlayer, and get better at measuring it - something this blog has been telling anyone that would listen for at least three years. 'The industry's obsessive intreats in overnights needs to change quite rapidly,' Dan The Man said. 'We need to get good at measuring the life cycle [of a show]; we know how many people download a programme on the iPlayer but we are not as good at knowing how many people watched it. I don't want to make programmes that people are paying for with the licence fee that people don't want to watch,' he added. 'We talk about AIs as much as we do ratings.' Cohen said the corporation was looking to be 'increasingly sophisticated' in the way it 'interacts' with audiences on social media, for instance using the identities of characters from a BBC drama. Cohen said it was 'a mistake' to 'obsess' with how many people watched – or didn't watch – Netflix's acclaimed remake of House Of Cards. 'What we should be looking at is that it's really, really good,' he said. 'It's their first go and it and they are already doing it well. That's power.'

Holly Willoughby - who can, apparently, walk in a straight line and talk at the same time (who knew?) - is to step down from co-hosting the talent show The Voice after two years, the BBC has announced. Willoughby said she wanted to 'find the right balance' between work and family life, rather like a politician who has just resigned from a high profile role to 'spend more time with my family'. Willoughby - and her superb arse - will be replaced by Big Brother presenter Emma Willis. Meanwhile, Willoughby's co-host, Reggie Yates, also tweeted he would not be back for the BBC show's third series. His replacement will be announced soon. The corporation thanked both hosts and wished them well for the future. In a statement, Willoughby said: 'After much consideration, I will not be returning for series three of The Voice. I've had two wonderful years on the show, and I feel very privileged to have been a part of it.' She went on: 'Finding the right balance between my work and family life is my priority and this has contributed to my decision. I look forward to watching the next series from my sofa, and I wish the whole team the best of luck.' The ITV This Morning presenter has hosted the first two series of the BBC1 singing contest with Yates, who said: 'I've had a fantastic time on the last two series of The Voice and I wish all the team the best of luck for the new series.' The second series of The Voice suffered falling ratings, despite several format tweaks, designed to make the show more appealing. Audiences dropped from an average 9.21 million in 2012, to 7.65 million in 2013 against competition from Britain's Got Talent on ITV. However the final, in which Andrea Begley was crowned victor, outperformed the first series' finale, with 7.95 million tuning in. Willis, who has just finished a stint presenting Big Brother and also had presenting slots on This Morning - as well as hosting Heart FM's Sunday breakfast show - said: 'The Voice is an absolutely brilliant TV show with the unique ability to showcase and nurture amazing raw talent.' Which it isn't, but never mind, she's new to the show she's hardly going to tell it like it is and say that it's a - not entirely unentertaining, to be fair - rip-off of The X Factor. 'I couldn't be more excited to be a part of it and I cannot wait to get started.' The presenter, who is married to former Busted singer Matt Willis, is not the only new recruit - yer actual Kylie Minogue was announced as a replacement for Jessie J on the series earlier this week. Mark Linsey, BBC controller of entertainment commissioning, said: 'I'd like to thank Holly and Reggie for the fantastic job they've done on the first two series of The Voice UK but understand their reasons for leaving and wish them all the very best. With two new coaches on board and our two new presenters it's going to really mix things up.' The next series will begin in January 2014.

Jon Snow has reportedly expressed his 'annoyance' with the Game Of Thrones character with the same name. The Channel Four News anchor is said to have - one presumes, jokingly - 'voiced his frustration' with the fantasy drama namesake, played by Kit Harington. His cousin Peter Snow's son, Dan, told the Torygraph: 'It's his worst nightmare. There's now a Jon Snow who is more famous than him. Every time he goes on Twitter, the mentions are all about the Jon in Game Of Thrones.'
Mad Frankie Boyle's latest atom-bomb of caustic wit on Twitter certainly seems to have struck a chord with music lovers everywhere.
Which brings us to the latest Top Telly Tips:

Saturday 21 September
When Miranda Met Bruce - 7:30 BBC1 - is, as you might expect from the title, a 'one-off special' (it says here) in which Miranda Hart chats to Bruce Forsyth. About, you know, stuff. The reason for the programme's existence, in theory, is to celebrate the veteran entertainer's seventy years in showbusiness. (Err ... Brucie, that is, not Miranda. Although, sometimes, it seems like she's been around for seventy years as well.) Didn't he, as it were, do well? Bruice recounts his childhood inspirations and career highlights - from the London Palladium to game-show glory and a certain TV dance programme - while a mixture of archive material and special performances demonstrate why Sir Bruce has remained at the top of his game for so long. McFly provide musical interludes - why, Christ only knows - and in 'a show-stopping finale' (again, it says here) the hostess gets to perform with her guest. Well, that sounds like a night of quality entertainment and no mistake.

Robert Webb - the really unfunny one in That Mitchell & Webb Look - counts down from numbers thirty to thirteen of 'top dance fads', using archive footage to explore how the choreography for songs including 'Macarena', 'Thriller', 'Vogue' and 'Single Ladies' became worldwide phenomena in Pop's Greatest Dance Crazes - 8:00 BBC3. In other words, this is - just in case you were wondering - another one of those tedious (and seemingly endless) examples of 'list show' telly that Channel Four used to specialise in and which now seem to be BBC3's new staple. They're usually presented by Webb and they're - almost always - awful. This one featuring contributions and re-enactments of the moves by a variety of talking heads, some of whom you might even have heard of, including Melanie C, Louie Spence, Rufus Hound, Bradley McIntosh, Katy Brand, Craig Revel Horwood, Richard O'Brien, MC Hammer, Carl Douglas, The Village People, Jarvis Cocker, Suggs, Andrew Stone, Shappi Khorsandi, Lisa Scott Lee and Whigfield. Horrorshow, dear blog reader. And drag.
Sunday 22 September
By Any Means - 9:00 BBC1 - is a new - and rather good looking and somewhat Hustle-like - thriller following a secretive unit which operates 'in the grey area between right and wrong', staying one step ahead of the criminals in an effort to bring them to justice for their naughty ways. In the opening episode, crooked businessman Nicholas Mason is acquitted of murder - the latest in a string of crimes from which he has, through luck, cunning and good lawyers, walked away scot-free - so Helen Barlow calls on her clandestine team to bring his reign of badness to an end. However, the job is made more difficult when the trio - sharp and enigmatic leader Jack, straight-talking Jessica and techno-whizz Tom - discover that their quarry is being fed information by a police informer. A copper turned Copper's Nark, what could possibly be more deadly? Can they identify the mole and catch their man red-handed? Luther's Warren Brown, Shelley Conn and Ideal's Andrew-Lee Potts star, with Gina McKee and Keith Allen.

Tonight's Qi XL - 10:00 BBC2 - is an extended edition of the comedy panel game. You knew that, right? Comedian Josh Widdicombe (best known for The Last Leg), semi-regular Phill Jupitus and actress and stone cold fox Katherine Ryan join yer actual Alan Davies as host Stephen Fry his very self asks a range of questions on the topic of K-Folk, with points being awarded for interesting answers as well as correct ones. Yadda, yadda. Same format, same effortless quality.

Harriet Walter joins the cast as Downton Abbey returns - 9:00 ITV - which will, presumably, be causing lots of damp panties in lots of readers of the Daily Scum Mail and the Torygraph. Personally, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping has never seen what so many others seem to find so breathlessly thrilling about Lord Snooty's costume drama. Following Matthew's shocking death, new mother Mary is struggling to come to terms with her loss and Robert and Violet disagree over how to handle the situation. Downstairs, Jimmy finally takes an interest in Ivy, while Carson receives an unwelcome reminder of his past. Mrs Hughes sees a chance to help grief-stricken Isobel, and Thomas has the children's nanny in his sights. Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Ed Speleers and Phyllis Logan also star.

Monday 23 September
Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food - 8:30 BBC1 - see the, if you will, 'proper' Michelin-starred chef demonstrate recipes inspired by classic (proper) British pub fare, beginning with dishes perfect for serving up to groups of - proper - friends. Properly. Tom shows the viewers how to prepare slow-cooked shoulder of lamb with pommes boulangere and a salt beef bagel prompted by a trip to a stall at Maltby Street market in Bermondsey. Cor blimey, do what, leave it out. And all that. He also prepares pollack, chorizo and chickpea stew, and a creamy plum fool, as well as giving advice on how to source the best of British produce.

In A Very British Murder With Lucy Worsley - 9:00 BBC4 - the lispy and coquettish, but curiously alluring historian and broadcaster examines the dark history behind Britain's fascination with murder. In the first episode, Wor Luce explores how notorious killings were transformed into popular entertainment in the first half of the Nineteenth Century. Sounds terrific, as with most of BBC4's factual output.
The popular comedy music quiz Never Mind The Buzzcocks returns - 10:00 BBC2 - with a guest host taking charge of proceedings as per usual. Regular team captains Phill Jupitus and that bloody weirdo Noel Fielding - who, admittedly, was actually quite funny on Qi recently, proving the old truism that even a broken clock is right twice a day - are joined on the first show by electronic duos Basement Jaxx and AlunaGeorge, and the - alleged - comedian James Acaster.

Tuesday 24 September
After Sandra's departure, the UCOS detectives are anxious to meet their new boss, and Sasha Miller wastes no time getting cracking with her first case, the murder of an Italian immigrant on a West London allotment twenty five years ago in the latest episode of New Tricks - 9:00 BBC1. The ritualistic style of the killing puts one of the other gardeners squarely in the frame for the dirty deed when it's revealed that he is a practising druid. Ooo, it looks bad for the cat in the white sheet, so it does. However, as the investigation continues, Gerry becomes suspicious of Sasha - why is she kissing a senior officer? On the lips, at that. Tamzin Outhwaite joins the cast of the BBC's popular long-running cold case crime drama, with regular trio Dennis Waterman, Denis Lawson and Nicholas Lyndhurst.

In The Sarah Millican Television Programme - 9:30 BBC2 - the saucy South Shields comedienne returns with her combination of stand-up monologues inspired by what she has seen on telly this week and interviews with the people she loves to watch. Wor big cuddly Sarah begins by talking about motoring programmes with former Top Gear presenter Quentin Willson, chats to Law & Order: UK star yer actual Bradley Walsh about crime dramas and gets the low-down on quiz shows from Pointless co-host Richard Osman.
Wednesday 25 September
BBC world affairs editor John Simpson his very self has always thought that his great-grandfather was Samuel F Cody, the Wild West entertainer who also achieved fame as the first person in Britain to conduct a powered flight, a story told in the latest Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1. It was only later that John discovered his great-grandmother had run off with Cody, taking her children with her. John follows the trail of his adventurous relative and her life with the cowboy-turned-aviator. He also investigates what happened to the husband that she left behind - John's real great-grandfather - a search which leads to a shocking discovery. Last in the current series of the popular genealogy travelogue.

Yer actual Professor Brian Cox celebrates Britain's pivotal role in the development of modern science, examining the obsessive, eccentric and visionary characters who developed a powerful new way to investigate nature in the second episode of Science Britannica - 9:00 BBC2. In this episode, Foxy Coxy, the people's scientist, replicates Isaac Newton's famous light experiment and meets a wartime codebreaker, while psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen reveals that scientists as a group display powers of concentration and minute focus associated with autism - qualities that are a huge advantage when undertaking research.
Professional childminder Kathryn Mewes moves in with the Woods family from Horley, to tackle the wanton behaviour of their troublesome triplets - Abbey, Chloe and Emma - in The Three Day Nanny - 8:00 Channel Four. Parents Sam and Jason endure a daily barrage of tantrums, but their disagreements over how to discipline the four-year-olds is taking a toll on their relationship. One wonders if they've considered terrifying the little buggers into submission until they conform with some righteous violence? it's an option. Anyway, an Kathryn sort it all out using modern methods or will it all end in someone getting a backhander? Tune in to find out.
The Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason doesn't strike yer actual Keith Telly Topping as the kind of chap you'd have found whopping and spinning and doing drop kicks at the Wigan Casino or the Blackpool Mecca back in the day. But, it just goes to demonstrate, yet again, that musical influences are never, quite, as obvious as they might seem on the surface. Anyway, Paul explores the history of the Northern Soul music and dance subculture which sprang up in the North of England during the late 1960s - mostly directly out of the mod movement - investigating why it continues to inspire great devotion in a a special episode of The Culture Show - 10:00 BBC2. Terrific. This, dear blog reader, is what yer actual Keith Telly Topping pays his licence fee for. Well, this and Doctor Who. And Top Gear and Qi, I suppose. And lots of other stuff, to be fair. Where were we? Oh yes, in The Twisted Wheel getting sweaty and listening to Frank Wilson's 'Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)'. Paul also looks at the array of musicians, choreographers and film-makers which Northern Soul influenced, helping to turn it into not just a national, but a global phenomenon.
Thursday 26 September
Peter Powell presents an edition of Top Of The Pops, first broadcast on 19 October 1978 - 7:30 BBC4. With performances by yer actual Showaddywaddy (crap), Boney M (really crap), The Rolling Stones (a bit better), Colorado, Frankie Miller ('Darrrrrr Lynn'), The Three Degrees, Buzzcocks (ah, that's better), yer actual Sham 69 and The Jam (presumably performing 'Down In The Tube Station At Midnight' and thus destroying the long-held myth that the BBC actually banned the single because it 'encouraged violence'). Plus, a dance sequences by Legs & Co. Tasty.
In the latest Mock The Week - 10:00 BBC2 - host Dara O Briain and regulars Chris Addison, Hugh Dennis and Andy Parsons are joined by Rob Beckett, Romesh Ranganathan and Josh Widdicombe on the topical comedy quiz, with the panellists giving their take on the week's major news stories.

In November 2007, the British exchange student Meredith Kercher was horribly murdered in Perugia, with the victim's American flatmate, Amanda Knox, her Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and Côte d'Ivoire immigrant Rudy Guede being found extremely guilty of her murder in 2009. Knox and Sollecito's convictions were later quashed, but the Italian Supreme Court ordered a retrial, which will begin on 30 September. Amanda Knox Trial: Five Key Questions - 10:00 Channel Five - is a documentary which explores what may happen in court, with Fulvia Guardascione acting for the prosecution and Alexander Guttieres for the defence as they examine the evidence, with the help of specialists in the fields of glass shatter, DNA, sound and martial arts. All of which sounds a bit sick, frankly. Which, from Channel Five is sort of par for the course.

Two men claiming to be IRA sympathisers approach Thomas in the Garrison and offer to buy the missing crate of guns they have heard he has in his possession in the latest episode of Peaky Blinders - 9:00 BBC2. The gang leader also goes to Cheltenham races with Grace, where he aims to persuade kingpin Billy Kimber to make the Peaky Blinders part of his operation, while Ada secretly marries communist agitator Freddie Thorne. Drama, starring Cillian Murphy.
Friday 27 September
Sue Perkins, Ross Noble and David Mitchell join regular panellist Alan Davies on Qi - 10:00 BBC2. Stephen Fry, as usual, asks a range of fiendish questions on the topic of Knits and Knots and other things starting with the letter 'K', with points being awarded for interesting answers as well as correct ones. The extended XL edition can be seen on Sunday.

And so to this week's media news: The chief executive of Ofcom has said the regulator should not take over governance of the BBC or act as the custodian of the licence fee. Ed Richards said that while it would be 'comparatively easy' to take over regulation from the BBC Trust, it was 'a matter for the government to decide.' He was speaking following calls for the BBC Trust to be axed. preferably with an actual axe. The Trust has been criticised over its criminally negligent handling of a number of controversies, most notably the issue of BBC severance pay. On Monday, seven former and current BBC bosses were grilled, filleted and served on a plate of chips by members of the Public Accounts Committee - all of whom, just so we're clear about this, are politicians and, therefore, shit scum of the worst order and in no position to criticise anyone else for anything - about their handling of large pay-offs. It has since led to calls from scum politicians and mouthy industry figures (not to mention a variety of newspaper all with a sick agenda), to hand over regulation of the corporation to Ofcom, which currently regulates the BBC's output on matters of harm and offence. Ofcom, remember, being a politically appointment quango, elected by no one. Speaking at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge earlier this week, the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Miller said that criticism of the BBC Trust was 'similar' to that previously aimed at BBC governors, which it replaced in 2007. And criticism of the current government for being total and utter useless glakes is 'similar' to criticism of the last government for being the same. What's your point, vile and odious rascal Miller? 'This criticism focused on insufficient independence and a lack of clarity over the separation of roles. Does that sound familiar?' she said to a lot of sycophantic slurping from a number of media figures all with their tongues hanging out waiting for a hard hard lick. Speaking on Thursday, Richards added: 'Clearly we could [regulate the BBC], it would be comparatively easy to do. We have a very established broadcasting regulatory operation, and compared to taking on the regulation of the Royal Mail, in context of privatisation, or conducting a major auction, it would be comparatively easy. But that is a very different question to whether we should. Whether we should or not is a matter for government, and ultimately for parliament,' he said. Richards said that 'issues' around governance of the BBC needed to be 'looked into' as well as 'the culture at the top of the organisation, which is a different matter again. I certainly don't think we should be governing the BBC. We need to have an entity that is responsible for the BBC and is the custodian of the licence fee. I don't think that should be the regulator.' He added that Ofcom's budget had fallen by 26.7 per cent in real terms over the last two-and-a-half years, which 'by the standards of the public sector that's not bad going. But it means we have less resources and we have to be careful about taking on extra work,' he added. 'I have never sought more responsibilities. We have had more responsibilities given to us over the last few years.'
Meanwhile, a former BBC chairman has branded public spending watchdog the National Audit Office a 'highly politicised body' more interested 'in headlines than value for money.' Sir Christopher Bland's criticism of the NAO on Thursday followed the lack culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Miller's call for the watchdog to be given 'greater access' to BBC finances and be allowed to 'look at any area of concern without hindrance or delay.' The NAO prompted the recent BBC convulsions over executive severance payments after revealing in two separate reports that the BBC had spent £2.9m more than it was contractually obliged in pay-offs to former senior executives. Bland said the NAO and the Commons public accounts committee, where seven senior BBC figures appeared on Monday to account for the corporation's pay-offs in what the chair, Margaret Spanker Hodge, described as 'a grossly unedifying' hearing, 'do good work' and 'what they put their finger on was important.' But he added: 'They always go over the top. The National Audit Office is the most politicised auditor you can imagine.' Bland, speaking at the Royal Television Society Cambridge convention on Thursday, said the NAO was too focused on 'whether they get a headline' rather than identifying best practice. 'There's too much of that at the NAO, that's what they strive for,' he added. Bland also said the corporation should be regulated by an outside body such as Ofcom, instead of the BBC Trust. He said BBC executives' appearance before MPs on the PAC on Monday was a 'show trial' which revealed the 'fault line very clearly between the Trust and the BBC.' Bland, who was chairman of the BBC's board of governors – the predecessor to the BBC Trust – between 1996 and 2001, backed Channel Four chairman Lord Burns, who said the Trust should be replaced by a unitary executive board – headed by a chairman working alongside the director general – and an outside regulator. Asked if that body could be Ofcom, Bland said: 'Yes, simply because we have got enough quangos already.' Including Ofcom, matey. However, Labour MP and former lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Jowell, who was instrumental in setting up the BBC Trust, told the RTS event that the Trust could 'still be made to work.' She said the BBC has suffered from a culture of being 'overly inward looking' and from a 'misunderstanding about the nature and purpose of the Trust. I think it's important to be absolutely clear that the purpose of the Trust is not to be the cheerleader for the BBC,' she said. But she was cautious about the vile and odious rascal Miller's plans to give the NAO unprecedented access to the BBC. 'It depends, I am not completely happy with that,' said the vile and odious rascal Jowell. 'I don't think the public accounts committee should decide what goes on BBC screens on Saturday night or what the Christmas schedules are, or a creative decision to spend lots of money on something which may carry creative risk. You can't have the PAC doing that. This only works if you have clarity in the boundary between legitimate PAC or rather NAO scrutiny, and the autonomy of the BBC, subject to the Trust.' The vile and odious rascal Jowell said whichever political party was in power the 'important thing is to create clear blue water not just between the two bits of the BBC but between the BBC and government. The BBC has to have a structure that is beyond the reach of marauding secretaries of state.' Burns, who led the vile and odious rascal Jowell's review of BBC governance in 2004, said he stuck by his conclusion a decade ago that the BBC should be run by a unitary board, with more non-executive than executive directors, and an outside regulator. 'I don't for one minute want to claim that the events have been caused by the difference between the two models,' said Burns. 'I do, however, think some of the issues have demonstrated some of the problems with the model that is now in place, particularly the problems they have had in dealing with crises as they arose.' Burns said the Trust model 'put the position of the Director General of the BBC in a very difficult position because he had no chair to work with, no-one to go to in moments of trouble or crisis to talk to. The only person he had to talk to was the chair of the Trust who was charged with regulating and the oversight of what he was doing.' Lord Burns said he would be 'sorry to see the NAO having greater and greater access to the BBC. The idea that the BBC should be looked at in the same way as departments of state does not fill me with enormous enthusiasm. It may be that the battle has now been lost because of what has happened and the NAO will have greater access. I regret that.'

There's a very good piece by Richard Sambrook, a former director of BBC Global News and now professor of journalism at Cardiff University on the huge dangers of the BBC's budget 'becoming politicised' in the Gruniad: 'The worry is that a disgruntled MP might demand some immediate review of the BBC in retaliation for difficult questions being asked on Newsnight or Today – and the BBC would be powerless to resist. Or, a competitor could raise questions for an MP to pursue in aid of its commercial advantage. A Daily Mail story on the number of staff sent to cover the World Cup, for example, might prompt calls for a hard look at value for money – surely commentators could do both radio and TV? If other broadcasters manage with one morning presenter, is that awkward one on the Today programme really necessary? Hard to imagine? No, not really. (As director of BBC News a decade ago my conversations with MPs too often concentrated on why BBC journalists couldn't be just a bit more constructive.) Critics will say the NAO has reviewed the World Service for years without undermining its independence. But the World Service has very little purchase on UK politics.'

A government tax adviser who was secretly filmed offering tips on how to keep money 'out of the chancellor's grubby mitts' has resigned. David Heaton, who went on to advise HM Revenue and Customs on tax avoidance, was filmed at a London conference in a joint probe by Panorama and Private Eye. He told the audience how they could 'exploit' maternity pay rules 'to get the government to pay your bonuses.' He has said that he does not advocate artificial or abusive tax arrangements. Two months after the conference - entitled One Hundred And One Ideas for Personal Tax Planning - Heaton started work on the key HMRC panel. His job was to advise HMRC and the courts about artificial and aggressive tax avoidance. At the conference, Heaton was caught on camera describing a maternity scheme he called The Bump Plan. He said: 'Ninety per cent of what you pay out ends up with the employee. You can't really knock that one.' By deliberately timing bonuses to enable an increased rebate on maternity pay, the tax paid on the bonus would effectively fall from 41.8 per cent to just 8.4 per cent, he explained. HMRC told Panorama that The Bump Plan would be 'an abuse' and that they would challenge anybody using it. Heaton initially denied doing anything wrong, but that didn't really wash with anyone and his resignation was announced on Friday. Treasury minister David Gauke said: 'Mr Heaton's statements are directly at odds with the government's approach to tackling tax avoidance, therefore it is right that Mr Heaton resigns from his position.' And, doesn't let the door hit his arse on the way out by the terseness of Gauke's comments. At the conference, which members of the audience had paid a thousand smackers to attend, Heaton was also filmed offering nine other tips to reduce an individual's tax bill. Chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Spanker Hodge, said that she was shocked and stunned by Heaton's comments. 'This is an absolutely classic example of where government passes a law with a particular intent and the tax advisers then abuse that and use it for a purpose that was never intended by government.' Heaton had told Panorama that he 'frequently' used 'irreverent language' to make his presentations 'more interesting.' And, let's face it, if you've paid a grand to see someone speak you want them to be pretty Goddamn interesting. He added: 'I do not believe a person who advocates artificial or abusive tax arrangements should be a panel member. I did not advocate any such arrangement at the conference and do not advocate such arrangements.'
The BBC has hired a Whitehall veteran to overhaul its communications and PR practices after a catastrophic year which has seen the corporation's image tarnished by the Jimmy Savile fiasco, the resignation of its Director General in shame and ignominy and the row over executive pay-offs and corporate greed. John Shield is joining the BBC from the Department of Work and Pensions to be director of communications filling the gap left by Paul Mylrea, the former Reuters journalist who left his post as the BBC's director of public affairs earlier this year. Mylrea's total remuneration was one hundred and seventy thousand smackers having, clearly, done a bang-up job in presenting the corporation in its best light. Shield, who starts in November, will report to James Purnell, the former Labour lack of culture secretary, who was hired by new Director General Tony Hall earlier this year as director of strategy and digital. Hall and Purnell will be expecting Shield to improve the BBC's handling of the media at a time when it faces major challenges - from those with a sick and sordid agenda - including calls for the abolition of the BBC Trust and for the National Audit Office to be allowed greater scrutiny of the corporation's finances. The Director General will be publishing his 'vision' for the BBC over the next decade next month - which will hopefully be something along the lines of 'we're going to spend less money of grey suits and more on quality programmes that make the corporation's reputation around the world and to show a bit of backbone when the Daily Scum Mail or the Gruniad Morning Star or some gobshite MPs get their bovver boots on for a righteous kicking instead of curling up in a ball and saying "please don't hurt us"' - as the corporation gears up for charter renewal negotiations with the government. The charter renewal process is expected to begin in earnest next year. Shield said: "The BBC is one of the most talked about, hotly debated and important of our institutions – touching the lives of millions of people here and around the world every day. For these reasons, it is a demanding but fascinating challenge – I look forward to leading an excellent communications team in taking it on." Before the DPW, Shield was director of communications at the Go-Ahead transport group which he joined from the BBC where he was head of communications for journalism. Before that he headed up communications at the Department for Communities and Local Government and was head of news for the then Department for Education and Skills. Julian Payne, who has been acting head of communications since Mylrea's departure, is moving to a new role leading the BBC's recently announced review of trust and executive working practices, reporting in to Hall.

Hillsborough families are meeting the Director of Public Prosecutions and Independent Police Complaints Commission chairwoman to discuss their 'concerns' about the investigations. Professor Phil Scraton, a key author of last year's Hillsborough Report, is also said to be concerned about the scrutiny of the ongoing Hillsborough investigations. Ninety-six people died as a result of the crush before the 1989 FA Cup game caused by police negligence. The meeting with the DPP and IPCC heads is taking place at the police headquarters in Warrington where the investigation is based into the tragedy at Sheffield Wednesday's ground. There are three investigations into the disaster which have resulted since the Hillsborough Independent Panel published its findings a year ago. Evidence is being gathered for a fresh inquest, the IPCC is investigating allegations that South Yorkshire Police lied and covered up their own failings and tried to sift the blame for the tragedy onto the victims and a third probe headed by former Chief Constable Jon Stoddart is investigating whether any authorities from the police to the Football Association are guilty of corporate manslaughter or criminal negligence. Professor Scraton said that he has 'real concerns' about the role of the Challenge Panel, which it was revealed on Wednesday will oversee the investigations. The lead writer of the HIP report on the failings said that he was 'frustrated' by how 'little progress' has been made in Hillsborough investigations. Professor Scraton said he was not on the new panel despite the wishes of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, who represent the majority of the victims' families. He said the new panel would 'lack detailed knowledge' of the case. 'To have rigorous oversight on what is actually happening in terms of the investigations it is absolutely necessary to have a panel that has at least has one member, if not two, that has that in-depth knowledge of Hillsborough, otherwise from what knowledge base are they challenging?' he added. A Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson claimed that the DPP had 'explained' to the victims' families that the panel's role would be 'more limited' than originally envisioned prior to the inquests for practical reasons. 'Circumstances have changed since the original remit of the panel was discussed, in particular the appointment of the coroner and the resulting refocusing of the investigations by the IPCC and Mr Stoddart to support the inquests,' claimed the CPS spokesman. 'The coroner has made clear that his independence and that of the investigators working to him must be protected. This has required us to reconsider the panel's role as it could not effectively scrutinise the on-going investigations without potentially interfering with the coroner's work.' The spokesman added: 'The DPP has been working hard to try and arrive at an arrangement which satisfies all the families concerned and hopes to be able to progress matters when he meets with the families.' The original inquest verdicts of accidental death were quashed in December by the High Court.

Mrs Brown’s Boys creator Brendan O'Carroll has revealed that he was once arrested on suspicion of murder. Police thought the comic may have killed a former business partner who robbed O'Carroll, after he was found hanged in his mother's home. O'Carroll admits that, at one time, he did feel like killing Kevin Moore over the way he had stolen from the Dublin pub they ran together – and once tried to have an angry showdown with Moore. But it was soon determined that Moore, who had contracted AIDs, had killed himself. 'The enquiries didn't last long,' O'Carroll says. 'It was soon established that Kevin had killed himself.' The story is revealed in a new authorised biography of O'Carroll, The Real Mrs Brown. O'Carroll had returned from a holiday in 1989 to find Moore had cleared out the pub they owned together, selling all the fixtures and fittings and running off to Australia with the cash in their bank account. Despite the pub having an annual turnover of five hundred thousand smackers, Moore's betrayal left O'Carroll ninety six grand in debt and he had to declare himself bankrupt. Three months later O'Carroll learned that his former friend was at his mother's house, and he waited outside for a furious confrontation. Moore never showed up and eventually O'Carroll went home. 'Later on I thanked God I couldn't find him,' O'Carroll admits. It later emerged that Moore, who was gay and had a history of drug abuse, had fled down-under when he learned that he had AIDs for 'a last hurrah' before returning home to take his own life. 'I often reflect on it,' says O'Carroll. 'One thing I think about is that I have no idea what it's like to be dying of AIDs, to be totally afraid. And even to be gay. Being gay can be a very lonely life.' He added that he now bears 'no ill-will' towards Moore, saying: 'If you carry grudges, they weigh you down. And anyway, it's one of those ironic twists. If he hadn't fecked-off to Australia with the money, I might still be running a pub.' Instead he turned to stand-up, and is now worth an estimated eight million knicker.

Fans who have paid seventy five notes a ticket to attend next week's Auf Wiedersehen, Pet convention have reacted angrily to an e-mail sent out last week forbidding them from 'approaching' any of their idols. Saturday's event at the Hilton Hotel in Gatesheed, dubbed 'The Brickies Banquet', is the highlight of the three-day convention on Tyneside, which also includes a Q&A with writers Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais, a bus tour of locations, and a 'treasure hunt' around local pubs. But in an e-mail from organisers, fans were told: 'Our celebrity guests are here to meet up with old friends and to have a good night out so please don't approach any of them during the filming.' The e-mail also confirmed that the event has now sold out, despite the fact that Tim Healy and Melanie Hill, who played Barry's wife in series two, are the only actors to confirm their attendance. Self-confessed Auf Wiedersehen, Pet 'super fan' Terry Armstrong is attending the convention and told Giggle Beats that he is 'disappointed' by the message from organisers. Armstrong, from Gatesheed, said: 'I feel like I'm an unwelcome guest as they said this was an old friend's get together – I'm not really part of it.' Terry has spent over one hundred and fifty quid on tickets for the convention, and says he would feel 'short-changed' if Healy was the only regular cast member to attend. He said: 'I'm a bit annoyed, as the announcement of the gig seemed to suggest all the cast were coming. It looked like an after-thought to actually invite them. It's no secret that Jimmy Nail fell out with the cast. I love Tim Healy, though, so will be good to see him – but if I cannot even approach him then what good is that?' Fans have also been prohibited from 'moving around the room during filming' and told that there will be 'announcements to alert you to toilet breaks.' The restrictions imposed by the filming allegedly 'came as a surprise' to fans as it was only announced last week that the event would be recorded for inclusion on a forthcoming Sunday for Sammy fundraising DVD. Members of the official Auf Wiedersehen, Pet forum - for there is such a thing - have also voiced their 'concerns' about the convention. One user posted: 'Doesn't fill me with confidence reading all that. I thought it was billed as meeting the stars of the show, sounds like us working class gadgies are going to be in "cattle class" and if we catch a glimpse of them it'll be a bonus. Also says "there may be a chance for autographs later." I'm feeling a tad pessimistic aboot all this, only Tim Healy and Melanie Hill confirmed, nee walking, nee talking, nee nowt [sic].' Aye. And you've got to sit still and not cough either. And there's no drinking, smoking or sex allowed either. Bastards. Another user added: 'Don't approach the guests? Toilet breaks? Divvn't move aboot? Bloody hell, sounds like Stalag seventeen [sic].' He (or, indeed, she), subsequently added that the rules 'make some sense' and branded the e-mail as 'poorly worded.' Other fans also acknowledged the difficulties faced by the event's organisers. The event, compered by local comedian Dave Macbeth, will include a charity auction of two handwritten scripts from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and The Likely Lads by Clement and Le Frenais.

Comedian and actor Billy Connolly has had surgery for prostate cancer and has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. 'The operation was a total success, and Billy is fully recovered,' his spokeswoman said. The seventy-year-old began working as a welder in the Glasgow shipyards but quit in the late 1960s to become a folk singer before turning to stand-up. 'Billy recently underwent minor surgery in America after being diagnosed with the very early stages of prostate cancer,' his spokeswoman said. 'In addition, Billy has been assessed as having the initial symptoms of Parkinson's disease, for which he is receiving the appropriate treatment.' She added that The Big Yen would continue to work throughout his treatment. 'Billy has been assured by experts that the findings will in no way inhibit or affect his ability to work, and he will start filming a TV series in the near future, as well as undertaking an extensive theatrical tour of New Zealand in the new year,' she said. Recent films in which Connolly has starred include the Oscar-winning film Brave where he voiced the lead male character and Quartet, which saw him play a womanising former opera singer. In an interview with the BBC earlier this year, Bill said that he wanted to stay young at heart: 'Stay young. Me? I'm thirty seven! I haven't changed my attitude to things since I was thirty seven.' He was also a dwarf warrior in the second part of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit franchise and finished filming the third film at the end of last year.Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is sure he speaks for all dear blog readers when he says that From That North sends its collective very best wishes to the big man for a speedy and full recovery.

Ben Miller is to play 'a dodgy politician' in a new political satire about the MPs' expenses scandal. The Duck House will open in the West End in December following a five-week UK tour. 'They say that comedy equals tragedy plus time, and traumatic as the expense scandal was hopefully we can all now have a bloody good laugh about it,' said Miller. 'And if any MPs don't like it they can always claim for it on expenses.' Miller's recent theatre credits include being part of the original cast of The Ladykillers, while TV appearances include Death In Paradise and The Armstrong & Miller Show. The play also stars Olivier Award-winning actress Nancy Carroll and The X Factor's Diana Vickers. The story begins in May 2009, with Labour's Gordon Brown as Prime Minister and a general election one year away. Miller plays Labour backbencher Robert Houston who switches sides to the Tories in a bid to save his seat. But as the MPs' expenses scandal breaks his switch from red to blue fails to go as planned. The play's title is a reference to the floating ornamental duck island which became became emblematic of the MPs' expenses scandal in 2009. Conservative MP Sir Peter Viggers retired after it was revealed that he had claimed over sixteen hundred smackers of public money for the item. The long-serving MP for Gosport in Hampshire described himself as 'ashamed and humiliated' by his claim, which was rejected by the Commons authorities. The duck house was later sold for charity. The play's authors, Dan Patterson and Colin Swash, are no strangers to political comedy. Patterson created Whose Line Is It Anyway? and has produced Mock The Week, while Swash has written jokes for more than forty series of Have I Got News For You and is a regular contributor to Private Eye. 'Between the two of us we have written topical jokes for TV for over fifty years, but there aren't usually enough on one subject to make a play,' they said in a joint statement. 'MPs' expenses were - as the MPs also found - the gift that keeps on giving.' The Duck House, directed by Terry Johnson, opens at the Vaudeville Theatre on 10 December, following a UK tour that begins at Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre on 23 October.

An edit to graffiti on a wall in County Tyrone has become a Twitter hit. The graffiti, which was sprayed on a small building in Strabane, originally urged readers to 'Join the IRA'. An unknown person with a spray can subsequently changed it to 'Join the library.' Sensible advice. A photograph of the edited graffiti was tweeted by teacher and writer Brian McGilloway. Hollywood actor Minnie Driver was one of the many people who retweeted the picture. 'It's the message of the year in my perspective and the picture has caused a lot of interest locally and further afield,' said McGilloway. 'It's quirky and it's a rather positive message. It would be interesting to see if it was young people behind it. I don't know who is behind it at this stage but whoever is behind the edit is a genius.'
Yer actual Morrissey his very self has reportedly halted plans to release his autobiography, three days before it was due to be published. The memoirs were set to give details about the fifty four-year-old singer's life growing up in Manchester and his relationship with former Smiths songwriting partner, Johnny Marr. But a statement on his fan website said there had been 'a last minute content disagreement' with its publisher. A Penguin Books spokeswoman said that there would be 'no comment' on the issue. Except that there would be no comment, seeming. Which is a comment, in and of itself. 'Although Morrissey's autobiography was set to be available throughout the UK on 16 September, a last-minute content disagreement between Penguin Books and Morrissey has caused the venture to collapse,' the website statement said. 'No review copies were printed and Morrissey is now in search of a new publisher.' It is the latest setback for the singer, who suffered a series of what he referred to as 'medical mishaps' which led to him cancelling his American tour earlier this year. He was also forced to cancel part of his South American tour in July due, he said, to 'a lack of funding.'
From one popular beat combo from the North of England to another. Previously unreleased recordings and studio chatter by The Be-Atles - a very popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them - are to be made available for the first time. The new release will include early hits and cover versions recorded for the BBC during 1963 and 1964, such as 'Lucille' and 'The Hippy Hippy Shake'. There is also audio of the group talking to radio presenters such as Radio 2's Brian Matthew. On Air - Live At The BBC Volume Two, is released on 11 November; it follows the successful Live At The BBC CD issued in 1994. The Be-Atles performed a huge catalogue of songs across two hundred and seventy five performances for the BBC between March 1962 and June 1965. They appeared on thirty nine radio shows in 1963 and, on one single day - 2 July 1963 - recorded eighteen songs for three editions of their own Pop Go The Beatles series in a session lasting less than seven hours. In total they played eighty eight different songs, most done in just one take with little time to correct any mistakes. George Harrison - he played 'the guitar' - later recalled: 'Everything was done instantly. We used to drive two hundred miles miles in an old van down the M1, come into London, try and find the BBC and then set up and do the programme. Then we'd probably drive back to Newcastle for a gig in the evening.' The new release will include different versions of some of the songs from the first Live At The BBC CD and also features rarely heard interviews recorded in November 1965 and May 1966 for the BBC Pop Profile series. The original Live At The BBC compilation topped the charts when it was released in 1994, selling more than five million copies around the world in six weeks. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self bought it on the day of release. A remastered version of that CD will also come out on 11 November to coincide with the release of volume two.

Gary Lineker his very self has been painted to blend in with a shelf of vegetables. well, you know, it's something to do, one supposes. The ex-England footballer has been painted as part of the new Walkers crisps promotion, Gary's Great Ingredient Hunt, with only his enormous ears left untouched. World body painting champion Carolyn Roper was called in by the salty snack company to create the body art. Lineker, who has been the face of Walkers for numerous years, said: 'Over the years I've done some weird and wonderful things with Walkers, but I've never been made to disappear. It will be fun to see people's reactions when they find me in the image and realise I'm buried in amongst the fresh, home grown ingredients.' Lineker's look took eight hours to complete and a total of sixty eight tubes of paint.
Nicole Kidman was knocked over by a cyclist after attending a catwalk show at New York fashion week. Which, to be fair, was effing funny. The actress was on the way back to her hotel from Calvin Klein's spring 2014 show when she was hit by the notorious photographer Carl Wu. 'I'm up, I'm walking around but I was shaken,' Kidman told reporters after the incident. When asked if she would be pressing charges, the forty six-year-old said: 'I've left that up to the police.' The New York Police Department said that it has 'issued warnings' to a nineteen-year-old cyclist for riding a bike on the pavement, riding a bike with no helmet, reckless endangerment of human life and dignity and wearing a really silly headband and a bemused expression in a built up area. It's not the first time that Wu has had a run-in (or, in this case, a wheel-in) with a celebrity. In 2010 the photographer narrowly missed being run over when he ran down the parking ramp at a hotel in Boston to try to get a picture of yer actual Lady Gaga. Kidman later appeared on the red carpet at Francisco Costa's tenth anniversary celebration as the women's creative director of the Calvin Klein Collection. The actress is set to appear in the Anchorman: The Legend Continues movie which is due to be released later this year.

Yer man Jezza Clarkson has, allegedly, 'hinted' that he will run for political office in the hopes of becoming an MP. Or, at least, he's joked about the subject and some numskull glakes have taken him seriously. Which is pretty standard for numskull glakes, frankly. There's a lot of them about, dear blog reader. And, I mean, a lot. The Top Gear host declared his 'intention to run' as an independent at the next general election on his Twitter page, seeking the views of his followers. At least, he did according to some plank at the Digital Spy website who takes everything said on Twitter seriously, it would seem. Jeeza later added: 'I'm out with a friend who say he doesn't know where Doncaster is. That must change.' It's in Yorkshire, Jeremy. Next. It's on all the maps and everything. The presenter and motoring journalist has already attracted a mix of positive and negative responses to his alleged 'plans', including comment from former deputy prime minister - and Top Gear guest - John Prescott, who suggested that Jezza should, instead, 'stand in Chipping Norton, where you live now.' Doncaster North is represented by Labour's leader of the opposition Ed Milimolimandi, who took the seat in the 2005 general election. Chipping Norton, meanwhile, lies in Jezza's chum David Cameron's constituency of Witney.
The German actor Otto Sander, who appeared in the classic World War II movie Das Boot and Wings of Desire, has died at the age of seventy two. His agent confirmed he died on Thursday, but no cause of death was given. He had been suffering from cancer for a number of years. Otto played a shell-shocked U-boat captain in Wolfgang Petersen's six-hour masterpiece, Das Boot. It was, at the time, Germany's most expensive film when it was released in 1981. Sander played an angel in Wim Wenders' surrealist drama Wings of Desire, a film that was later remade in the US as City of Angels. He also appeared in the 1993 sequel Faraway So Close. Born in Hanover, Sander was also a veteran of the stage, becoming one of the top theatre actors in West Berlin and later in the reunified capital. 'We have lost one of our greatest artistic personalities and an unforgettable speaking voice,' Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit said.

Ray Dolby, the US engineer who founded Dolby Laboratories and pioneered noise reduction in audio recordings, has died in San Francisco aged eighty. Ray had suffered from Alzheimer's disease for several years and was diagnosed with leukaemia during the summer. His name became synonymous with home sound systems and cinema, and his work won many awards. Kevin Yeaman, president of Dolby Laboratories, described Ray as a 'true visionary.' Dolby was born in Portland, Oregon, and grew up in the San Francisco area. He began his career in the Ampex Corporation, helping to develop early videotape recording systems while he was still a student. He then went on to complete his PhD at Cambridge University and, in 1965, founded Dolby Laboratories in London. The company grew to be an industry leader in audio technology, cutting background hiss in cassette tape recordings and later bringing out 'surround sound.' Dolby moved his company to San Francisco in 1976 and in 1989 was awarded an Oscar for his contributions to cinema. He shared the award with Dolby executive Ioan Allen. He also received a Grammy award in 1995 and EMMY awards in 1989 and 2005. Dolby's son, the filmmaker and novelist Tom Dolby, said: 'Though he was an engineer at heart, my father's achievements in technology grew out of a love of music and the arts. He brought his appreciation of the artistic process to all of his work in film and audio recording.' Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, which hands out the Grammy Awards, said Dolby's innovations had 'changed the way we listen to music and movies for nearly fifty years. His technologies have become an essential part of the creative process for recording artists and filmmakers, ensuring his remarkable legacy for generations to come,' he added.

French international midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa his very self scored one and set up another as yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Newcastle United beat Aston Villains (and their second city scum support) at Villa Park and put the Midlanders right down where they belong - in the gutter along with all the other turds. Ben Arfa opened the scoring after some excellent play from on-loan Loic Remy, who was making his first start for the Magpies. Christian Benteke equalised after the break when he powered home a corner from Ashley Westwood (although United goalkeeper Tim Krul will be rather disappointed with his own contributions to the goal). But, just as the home support were starting to get all uppity, substitute Yoan Gouffran secured victory for the visitors when he reacted quickest after Villa keeper Brad Guzan could only parry Ben Arfa's long-range effort. The win was Newcastle's second of the season - and third in a row in all competitions - and came just days after manager Alan Pardew was forced to put out a statement defending under-pressure Director of Eff-All, Joe Kinnear, over the club's failure to add to their squad before the transfer window closed. The only player who was brought in by the club this summer was Remy (who almost signed for the Magpies in January before he got his greed on, big-style). Nevertheless, Remy has had an immediate impact since signing on a season-long loan from the Queens Park Strangers. He set up Ben Arfa for the only goal of the game as Newcastle beat Fulham in their last match and, again, he combined with his French compatriot to open the scoring at Villa Park. Ben Arfa, who scored just four goals last season, was causing the Villa defence no end of problems all afternoon and he thoroughly deserved his goal when he pounced to side-foot home the cross from Remy after Papiss Cisse had missed Remy's centre. The Villains, who have struggled to recreate the form which saw them beat The Arse 3-1 on the opening day of the season, looked nervous on the ball, especially in attack. Ciaran Clark had the best chance for the home side just before the break after Tim Krul could only tip an inswinging ball from the right, but Clark's first-time shot was straight into the side netting. Andreas Weimann then broke clear for Villa but with Benteke to his left he chose to go for goal only to screw his shot well wide, much to the dismay of the home crowd and the hilarity of the visiting supporters. Whatever Paul Lambert said at the break certainly hit a nerve as his side almost blew Newcastle away at the start of the second half as Gabriel Agbonlahor saw an effort deflected wide before he should have equalised. Matt Lowton played in Weimann on the right and he swung in an excellent cross, but Agbonlahor somehow diverted the ball well wide from just six yards out. Villa did add to their squad on transfer deadline day, as they completed the seven million quid signing of Libor Kozak, and his introduction coincided with the equaliser. His height added confusion in the Newcastle box, allowing Benteke to score his fifth goal of the season. But with Ben Arfa on the pitch it was Newcastle who always looked the more dangerous of the two sides. He had one curling effort saved before his long-range effort was not dealt with by Guzan, who could then only watch on as Gouffran fired home. Papiss Cisse and Cheick Tiote both also went close to adding to the score sheet as Newcastle moved up to eighth in the table, while Villa slipped to sixteenth.

Blunderland's manager, the notorious Paolo Di Canio said that he 'regrets' inviting the referee to send him off during the great Mackem unwashed's controversial 3-1 home defeat by The Arse. The Italian was sent to the stands after arguing with referee Martin Atkinson over alleged Arsenal time-wasting. 'He came to me and said "if you keep going with your manner I will send you up to the stand,"' Di Canio explained. 'I said "if you want to complete a perfect job, you can send me off." He took it seriously and sent me off.' Di Canio, whose side sit rock bottom of the Premier League with a mere one point from four games, added: 'Next time I will never invite the referee to send me off because he took it seriously.' Yeah, they tend to do that, matey. Before the second-half dismissal, Atkinson had sparked controversy by disallowing Jozy Altidore's goal for Blunderland. Battling to get his side back on level terms for a second time, Altidore brushed off Sagna's attempts to hold him back. His subsequent shot crept over the line before being hacked clear. But Blunderland's joy soon turned to white hot frothing anger when, instead of playing the advantage, Atkinson brought the game back for a Sunderland free-kick which curled harmlessly wide of Wojciech Szczesny's left-hand post. To make matters worse he only booked Sagna for the infringement instead of issuing a red card. Earlier, Craig Gardner's penalty had cancelled out Olivier Giroud's early strike with Aaron Ramsey restoring the visitors' lead before Altidore's goal that never was. Ramsey then rubbed salt into the Mackem's wounds by scoring his fifth goal of the season. It sealed a victory which takes The Arse to the top of the fledgling Premier League table and leaves the Black Cats down among the dead men. Di Canio, who has made plenty of headlines since becoming Blunderland boss towards the end of last season, has clamped down on perceived indiscipline at the Stadium of Shite. When asked about the disallowed goal, Di Canio said: 'It was a mistake - the referee has the power to wait to see how the action finishes, and then he can come back to his decision. They have to wait. You could see Altidore is much more powerful than Sagna, he was shielding the ball well. It was clear he was near to winning the challenge. That was a key moment because we can't imagine that we would have many more opportunities to score, so that decided the outcome of the game. That can happen. He is a man. It's important that he accepts this - I make mistakes every single moment when I make decisions with my players; my players make mistakes in front of goal.' His opposite number, blind Arsene Wenger, who also praised midfielders Jack Ramsey and debutant Mesut Özil, for once, actually did see the incident in question and said: 'Look, it's one of these things that are controversial because the referee had blown the whistle before the ball had gone in. If it's no goal, people moan because he didn't give the foul, and he could have given a foul on Sagna as well because both were holding each other off,' claimed The Arse's boss, ridiculously. 'But we were a bit lucky, yes, because this kind of situation can go in your favour and can go in the favour of Sunderland.'

The Scum's manager, whinging dour Scotsman David Moyes has warned his players he will not tolerate diving following the incident which led to winger Ashley Young being cautioned in the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. Young tumbled over in the area after a challenge by Kagisho Dikgacoi in the first half. Television replays subsequently suggested that the England international initiated the contact and then tripped over his own feet in a clear attempt to win advantage. Moyes said: 'I don't want my players diving. Dikgacoi definitely throws his leg out but Ashley put his leg into his leg.' Referee Jon Moss showed Young a yellow card, although he later awarded a penalty when the same two players clashed again, just before half-time. That incident led to Dikgacoi being sent-off, with Robin van Persie scoring from the resulting penalty. Although that one probably was a foul (and, a deserved red card given the fact that it was a clear goal-scoring opportunity, Palace will feel a shade hard done-by since the initial contact came outside the box.) The Scum went on to wrap up victory in the second half thanks to Wayne Rooney's free-kick. Young has previously been in trouble for diving, with his former boss, whinging dour Scotsman Sir Alex Ferguson 'having a word' with him last season. A word which, seemingly, hasn't done much good. The ex-Watford and Aston Villains winger was criticised by some for penalties The Scum were awarded against Queens Park Strangers and Villa last season, prompting Ferguson to take action. 'He understands where we come from and I hope it makes a difference,' Ferguson said in April. 'He's going to have to be careful because people are scrutinising it now.' Ferguson's successor Moyes had sympathy for Palace boss Ian Holloway. 'I don't like the rule where every time it is the last man it means it is (a red card),' said Moyes. 'I thought it was harsh. If I was Ian Holloway I would be disappointed. Okay, it might be a penalty. But I don't think the boy made a challenge to wipe him out. Unfortunately that is the rule.' Holloway himself pointedly refused to discuss the issue, having already been handed a two-match touchline ban and eighteen grand fine by the Premier League following his comments after a controversial defeat by Stottingtot Hotshots on the opening day of the season. 'My opinion doesn't count,' Holloway chundered after the game. 'I realise that now. All I can talk about is what led to it, which is us playing the occasion rather than the game. I will not get drawn into a situation where people have to make decisions and they affect me. Emotionally I am in the right place now. I would like to keep my money in the bank and pay for my own daughter's wedding this summer. I don't talk about other people's players. If you want to meet me down the pub later on I will tell you exactly what I think.' And if you believe that, dear blog reader ...

Moscow Chelski DC manager full-of-his-own-importance Jose Mourinho blamed missed chances for his side's first Premier League defeat of the season at The Everton. Steven Naismith's goal in first-half stoppage time gave Everton boss Roberto Martinez his first league win since succeeding David Moyes. 'If you don't score a goal what you create means nothing. It is a simple story,' said The Special One. 'You have to put the ball in the net. Artistic football without goals is no good. We didn't have killer instinct.' Moscow Chelski FC gave a debut to new striker Samuel Eto'o, but he was one of the main culprits of their profligacy, along with another summer arrival, Andre Schurrle. A disappointed Mourinho said afterwards: 'You can't speak about sharpness. I don't think it is a question of sharpness. The ball Schurrle passed to Eto'o in the first half was a slow pass. If it was a fast pass, Eto'o scores with an open goal but Gareth Barry got back. These kinds of details are not about sharpness of players.' Mourinho was also unhappy with the build-up to Naismith's winner, with Ashley Cole conceding a needless free-kick and Everton gaining possession after goalkeeper Petr Cech rolled the ball out. 'We are not talking about young kids,' added Mourinho, who returned to manage Moscow Chelski FC in June. 'We didn't deserve to lose because we were the best team, because we played the best football, dominated the whole game, because we had twenty one shots and we risked everything we could. In that sense it is fair to say we deserved to win the game. The other way to look at it is that a team that has twenty one shots, some of them easy shots and easy situations to score and then don't score and makes a mistake in the last minute of the first half - maybe with that I should say we deserve to lose.'

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey says that he fears an official may commit suicide if they do not get more help to deal with the pressures of the job. And we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for them? Bollocks to that, they wanted the job in the first place. Halsey, fifty two, retired at the end of last season - the cheering across the land - and made the claim in his book, which is being serialised in the Sun, so there's overly no vast hyperbole involved here in trying to flog copies of that, oh no, very hot water. 'It will not be long before a referee has a nervous breakdown,' he claimed, like a stroppy drama queen. 'I also believe that if we do not do something to help referees with mental health and stress issues, then we could see a suicide.' In the serialisation, Halsey highlighted the case of Bundesliga referee Babak Rafati, who he explained had been found in a bath with his wrists slit before undergoing treatment for depression. Halsey complained to police after being abused on social network website Twitter last season after officiating a 2-1 win for The Scum at Liverpool Alabama Yee Haws. He sent off the Anfield side's midfielder, Jonjo Shelvey, and awarded The Scum a late penalty from which Robin van Persie scored the winner. The tweets referred to Halsey's successful treatment for throat cancer in 2009 which led to him taking a year out of the game. Halsey said that he received 'support' from some Premier League managers over his performance in that game, although feels the organisation that looks after officials - the Professional Game Match Officials Limited - could have done more. 'I got little support from my bosses apart from a call from Mike Riley, the head of the PGMOL, and one from the Select Group manager Keren Barratt asking if I wanted to come off my next game at Southampton,' claimed Halsey.
Bookmaker Paddy Power has teamed up with gay rights charity Stonewall for an advertising campaign which aims to tackle homophobia in football. Good on them. The campaign, Right Behind Gay Footballers - 'ooo, err missus' title notwithstanding - will see print adverts and billboards run with a series of provocative straplines. One advert uses the line 'Over five thousand footballers and none of them are gay? What are the odds on that?', while another runs with the message: 'We don't care which team you play for.' Rainbow laces have been sent to all Premier League and Football League clubs, plus the forty two teams in the Scottish Professional Football League, to highlight the issue. The campaign is also being pushed on social media, with the backing of supporters including Joey Barton – who has had almost one thousand retweets of his call for players to 'support the cause' by wearing the laces – Stephen Fry and Labour leader Ed Milimolimandi. 'Show that people's sexuality shouldn't be an issue. Join the rainbow laces movement,' tweeted Barton. The aim of the campaign, which has been developed by advertising agency Lucky Generals, is not to force players to 'come out' but rather to try to change attitudes in the UK. 'In most other areas of life people can be open about their sexuality and it's time for football to take a stand and show players it doesn't matter what team they play for,' said a Paddy Power spokesman. In Britain, no professional footballer has come out and continued his career since Justin Fashanu in 1990. He stopped playing in 1994, but tragically committed suicide four years later, aged just thirty seven. 'It's time for football clubs and players to step up and make a visible stand against homophobia in our national game,' said the Stonewall deputy chief executive, Laura Doughty. From The North supports this endeavour, fully.
Jos Buttler hit an impressive sixty five not out off forty eight balls to steer England to victory over Australia with three balls to spare and level the one-day series at one's each apiece. Clint McKay's hat-trick had England - chasing twenty hundred and twenty eight to win - reeling on but eight for three. But a one hundred and eight-run stand between Michael Carberry (sixty three) and captain Eoin Morgan (fifty three) revived them before Buttler finished it with a six and a four in the last over. Australia had lost their last five wickets for eighteen runs to fall to two hundred and twenty seven all out, with James Tredwell taking three for fifty three. The five-match series will now go to a decider in Southampton on Monday. 'Buttler is a very cool guy,' said Morgan. 'He practises so hard at hitting at the death and that's where he comes into his own. He's one of the best in the world at it. Today was a great fighting win and Monday will be a final for us. It's a great opportunity to win a series with a young side.' A tense, low-scoring game was hanging in the balance when twenty three-year-old Buttler was joined at the crease by Durham's Ben Stokes with England on one hundred and forty four for six with eighty four runs still needed for victory. But the inexperienced duo showed great maturity and skill to take England to the brink of victory with a partnership of seventy five in just over nine overs. When twenty two-year-old Stokes was bowled for twenty five by McKay off the first ball of the penultimate over, Australia had a chance, but two singles kept Buttler on strike for the last over with seven runs required. The tall Somerset wicketkeeper-batsman, who had successfully reviewed an LBW dismissal on eight, launched Mitchell Johnson's first ball over midwicket for six, and two balls later struck a four down the ground to finish the match in considerable style. Although Buttler was England's hero with the bat, their victory also owed a great deal to some fine new-ball bowling after Morgan won the toss and chose to field. Steven Finn, Boyd Rankin and Stokes took full advantage of a grassy pitch offering variable bounce and muggy overheard conditions to reduce the tourists to fifty seven for four in the fourteenth over. Finn had Aaron Finch LBW to the second ball of the match and Shane Watson edged Rankin through to Buttler. Buttler showed great agility to also claim a one-handed catch above his head to remove Shaun Marsh for twenty five and give Stokes his first international wicket, and, when Finn then trapped Clarke LBW on the back foot for twenty two, England were well on top. But the cool-headed George Bailey led the fightback as he launched Tredwell for three sixes. He shared partnerships of sixty seven with Adam Voges and then eighty five with Matthew Wade to drive Australia to a position from which a total in excess of two hundred and fifty looked well within their grasp. But the return of Tredwell - who'd earlier bowled rather poorly - turned the tide England's way as he had Wade caught one-handed by Carberry at short third man to initiate a late collapse. Four more wickets fell, including Bailey for eighty seven off ninety one balls as the tourists were bowled out with ten balls of their fifty overs remaining. The flurry of wickets continued into the England innings as McKay tore through the hosts' top order. Kevin Pietersen was trapped LBW, Jonathan Trott slashed an away-swinger to Finch at second slip and Joe Root edged to Watson at first slip. It was the thirty fourth hat-trick in international one-day cricket and the fifth by an Australian. Carberry and Morgan's steady stand hauled England back into contention but, when both fell in quick succession, followed by the wicket of Ravi Bopara, Australia were back in the ascendancy. In a pivotal moment, Buttler was given out LBW to Watson by umpire Rob Bailey, only for Hawk-Eye to show the ball would have missed leg stump by the narrowest of margins. Aided by the composed Stokes, Buttler made the most of his break to guide England to a vital win. 'You have to take the good with the bad,' said Clarke. 'England bowled well this morning and we came back well, particularly George Bailey. I'd have liked a few more runs but we recovered well. Clint McKay bowled really well and deserves the credit for his hat-trick, but we couldn't get over the line. You can always do more and look to get better and we'll do that.'

Spain's Javier Gomez won his third ITU World Triathlon title as he beat Jonathan Brownlee in a dramatic sprint finish at the Grand Final in London. Brownlee was overtaken on the home straight by Gomez, who finished just a second ahead of the 2012 champion. 'I gave it everything but there was nothing I could do. It was tough,' Brownlee, told BBC Radio 5Live. His borther, the Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee struggled with an ankle injury on the run and finished well down the field. The twenty five-year-old led the world standings ahead of the race in Hyde Park, but struggled during the ten kilometre run and had to settle for fourth in the overall standings. 'I'm so glad this whole year is over. It's been an absolute nightmare,' said Alistair, who has been hindered by the ankle problem for the last three months. Alistair - world champion in 2009 and 2011 - attempted to break away during the bike phase, as he did in winning the previous race in Stockholm, knowing that running on his troublesome ankle would be a problem. He was part of the leading group coming into transition for the second time, but was in obvious pain as soon as the run began and fell behind. Once he realised his hopes of winning a third title were over, he barked orders at his younger brother when their paths crossed, urging him to race tactically. Alistair told BBC Sport later that his brother was a 'complete tactical numpty' for not waiting until closer to the line before attempting to outsprint Gomez. Jonathan, who won a bronze medal at London 2012, set off with two hundred and fifty metres remaining but was overhauled by thirty-year-old Gomez just before the finish. 'Alistair wanted me to use my brain and to think about it. I did use my head as much as I could,' said Jonathan, who admitted losing by such a narrow margin was 'quite hard to take. When it is so close, you ask yourself, "what could I have done differently?" But when you get beaten by thirty seconds you just think "he was better than me." I don't even know why Alistair started the race, to be honest.' The Brownlees and Gomez were all in title contention before the race but, with twelve hundred points awarded for first place in London, the popular Gomez secured the world crown by a twenty five-point margin over Jonathan, with his Spanish compatriot, Mario Mola, third and Alistair fourth. On Saturday Britain's Non Stanford became the women's ITU World Triathlon champion after overcoming a fifteen-second penalty. The Welshwoman, third in the standings ahead of the race, was penalised for not placing her wetsuit in the required box. But the twenty four-year-old then ran superbly, finishing in 2:01.33 to end the series on four thousand two hundred and twenty points. Fellow Briton Jodie Stimpson was second in the overall standings after finishing fourth in Hyde Park. Germany's Anne Haug, who was also in contention for the title before the race, had to settle for bronze in the series standings while the favourite, American Gwen Jorgensen, crashed on her bike. 'I'm speechless,' said Swansea-born Stanford, who is the first woman to win the under-twenty three and senior world titles in successive seasons. 'I haven't slept for three weeks. Everyone was talking about it. I just wanted to put on a good show, and all my friends and family are here so I'm delighted I could do it for them. I went off really hard in the run, trying to make up that gap straight away and on the sidelines I was hearing "twenty five seconds" so I thought "I've got to take it now."' Stanford emulates compatriots Helen Jenkins and Leanda Cave, who won the title in 2011 and 2002 respectively, and her victory on the London 2012 course concludes a remarkable year for her. She has enjoyed podium finishes on five occasions in 2013, recovering from a broken arm - sustained during a heavy fall in Hamburg in July - to finish second in Stockholm five weeks later. Stanford also had to overcome difficulties in London when she had trouble putting on her cycle helmet during the transition after the swim and failed to place her wetsuit in the box in her haste to get away. But, she built a commanding lead during the ten kilometre run and was able to emerge ahead of the chasing pack after taking her penalty early on the final lap. Ireland's Aileen Reid outsprinted Australia's Emma Moffatt to cross the line in second place.
To cycling now, and Cannondale's Italian rider Elia Viviani timed his sprint perfectly to win the first stage of the Tour Of Britain. Mark Cavendish was boxed in and could not trouble Viviani, who beat his British rival's team-mate Alessandro Petacchi to take the two hundred and eight-kilometre leg to Drumlanrig Castle. Cavendish finished twelfth, with Team Sky's Sir Bradley Wiggins, King of the Mods, back in thirty seventh. A crash behind the leading sprinters resulted in many of the frontrunners being given the same time for the day. The race rules state that no part of a group which enters the final three kilometres together will lose time because of a crash beyond that point. However, the time awarded for performances in the various sprints during the day means that Wiggins will begin Monday's one hundred and eighty six kilometre second stage between Carlisle and Kendal just nine seconds off leader Vivani in ninth place in the general classification. A final, messy, sprint was a dramatic end to a cagey race that began in wet and windy conditions in the Scottish Borders town of Peebles. Team Sky's 2012 Tour De France and Olympic champion Wiggins and Movistar's Colombian leader Nairo Quintana allowed a five-strong escape group to move clear in the opening stages. With Rapha Condor's British veteran Kristian House dictating the pace, the breakaway accumulated a five-minute advantage at one point, but, lacking any representatives from the high-profile teams and battling high winds, it never seemed likely to be enough. With forth three kilometres go go, Sojasun's French rider Anthony Delaplace leapt across the fast-closing gap with a daring solo burst and scooped up the final set of climbing and sprint points before his entertaining cameo came to an end. Britain's Alex Dowsett, who joined Movistar from Team Sky this season, made a similar, but shorter-lived, attempt to escape the rest with twelve kilometres to go, before his former team-mates chased him down to set up a tactical finish on the narrow, twisting uphill finish. Omega Pharma Quick-Step seemed well set with Cavendish tracking Pettachi, but their lead-out train de-coupled and Vivani took advantage with MTN's Gerard Ciolek third. Monday's 186.6km second stage takes place between Carlisle and Kendal.

Disgraced and disgraceful scum drug cheat Lance Armstrong has handed back the bronze medal he won at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Armstrong has given the medal to US Olympic officials, who will return it to the International Olympic Committee. The IOC requested the return of the time-trial medal in January, in the same week the American admitted that he had used performance-enhancing drugs and then lied about it. The forty one-year-old was stripped of his seven Tour De France titles and banned from cycling for life in October 2012. That came after the US Anti-Doping Agency produced evidence of widespread doping by him and his former team-mates. However, Armstrong did not admit to cheating until he confessed during an interview with chat show host Oprah Winfrey in front of a worldwide television audience. 'The 2000 bronze is back in possession of US Olympics and will be in Switzerland as soon as possible to the IOC,' Armstrong said on Twitter. The US Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky confirmed the organisation had received the medal. Russia's Viacheslav Ekimov won the men's time trial at the Sydney Games, with German Jan Ullrich second.

The Voyager-1 spacecraft has become the first man made object to leave the Solar System. Scientists say that the probe's instruments indicate it has moved beyond the bubble of hot gas from our Sun and is now moving in the space between the stars. Launched in 1977, Voyager was sent initially to study the outer planets, but then just kept on going. Today, the veteran NASA mission is almost twelve billion miles from home. This distance is so vast that it takes seventeen hours for a radio signal sent from Voyager to reach receivers here on Earth. 'This is really a key milestone that we'd been hoping we would reach when we started this project over forty years ago - that we would get a spacecraft into interstellar space,' said Professor Ed Stone, the chief scientist on the venture. 'Scientifically it's a major milestone, but also historically - this is one of those journeys of exploration like circumnavigating the globe for the first time or having a footprint on the Moon for the first time. This is the first time we've begun to explore the space between the stars,' he told BBC News. Sensors on Voyager had been indicating for some time that its local environment had changed. The data which finally convinced the mission team to call the jump to interstellar space came from the probe's Plasma Wave Science instrument. This can measure the density of charged particles in Voyager's vicinity. Readings taken in April and May this year and October and November last year revealed a near-one hundred-fold jump in the number of protons occupying every cubic metre of space. Scientists have long theorised such a spike would eventually be observed if Voyager could get beyond the influence of the magnetic fields and particle wind which billow from the surface of the Sun. When the Voyager team put the new data together with information from the other instruments onboard, they calculated that the moment of escape to have occurred on or about 25 August 2012. This conclusion is contained in a report published by the journal Science. 'This is big; it's really impressive - the first human-made object to make it out into interstellar space,' said Professor Don Gurnett from the University of Iowa and the principal investigator on the PWS. On 25 August 2012, Voyager-1 was some one hundred and twenty one Astronomical Units away from Earth. That is, one hundred and twenty one times the separation between the Earth and the Sun. Breaching the boundary, known technically as The Heliopause, was, said the English Astronomer Royal, Professor Sir Martin Rees, a remarkable achievement: 'It's utterly astonishing that this fragile artefact, based on 1970s technology, can signal its presence from this immense distance.' Although now embedded in the gas, dust and magnetic fields from other stars, Voyager still feels a gravitational tug from the Sun, just as some comets do which lie even further out into space. But, to all intents and purposes, Voyager has now left what most people would define as the Solar System. It is now in a completely new domain. Voyager-1 departed Earth on 5 September 1977, a few days after its sister spacecraft, Voyager-2. The pair's primary objective was to survey the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and their many moons - a task Voyager-2 completed in 1989. Both were then steered towards deep space - albeit in different directions. It is expected that their plutonium power sources will stop supplying electricity in about ten years, at which point their instruments and their twenty watt transmitters will die. Voyager-1 will not approach another star for nearly forty thousand years, even though it is moving at forty five kilometres per second. 'Voyager-1 will be in orbit around the centre of our galaxy with all its stars for billions of years,' said Professor Stone. The probe's work is not quite done, however. For as long as they have working instruments, scientists will want to sample the new environment. The new region through which Voyager is now flying was generated and sculpted by big stars that exploded millions of years ago. There is indirect evidence and models to describe the conditions in this medium, but Voyager can now measure them for real and report back. The renowned British planetary scientist Professor Fred Taylor commented: 'As a young post-doc, I went to [NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory] and worked for a while with the team that was doing the science definition study for the Outer Planets Grand Tour, which later became Voyager. 'It seemed so incredible and exciting to think we would see and explore Jupiter and Saturn close up, let alone Uranus and Neptune. The idea that the spacecraft would then exit the Solar System altogether was so way out, figuratively as well as literally, that we didn't even discuss it then, although I suppose we knew it would happen someday. Forty-three years later, that day has arrived, and Voyager is still finding new frontiers.' And, there's a really good piece on the history of Voyager at the BBC website, written by NASA's Carolyn Porca here.

Almost fifty six thousand people have taken to the streets of Tyneside to take part in the thirty third Great North Run. World and Olympic champion Mo Farah narrowly missed out on becoming the first UK runner in twenty five years to win the elite men's race in a thrilling finish. Farah, 30, chased down Bekele in the last 400m in a great finale but was pipped to the line by one second.Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele held off Magic Mo in a sprint finish to come first in South Shields after the thirteen mile plus half-marathon. Farah, chased down Bekele in the last four hundred metres in a great finale but was pipped to the line by a mere one second. World four hundred metres champion Christine Ohuruogu and England cricketer Graeme Swann also started the event. Among the numerous celebrities taking part are former Spice Girl Mel C and presenter Radio 2 presenter Jo Wiley. Thousands gathered at the start line and along the route to cheer wheelchair racers and the elite women runners, who were the first to go. With hundreds of charities being represented by the runners, an estimated twenty four million quid is expected to be raised. During the race it is estimated that over eighty two thousand litres of water will be drunk by parched runners. From just twelve thousand runners at the first run in 1981, the event has now grown to more than fifty five thousand accepted entrants from more than one hundred thousand applicants.
For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, here's a slab of righteous Northern Soul from The Elgins.

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