Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why Am I Soft In The Middle? The Rest Of My Life Is So Hard

Matt Smith's syrup was on show during the filming of the Doctor Who Christmas special in Cardiff earlier this week. It's a darza, isn't it?
Whitechapel, which had such a disappointing overnight audience for its fourth series premiere last week, dropped a further seven hundred thousand viewers for its second part on Wednesday, overnight data reveals. The - bonkers, but usually quite entertaining - ITV crime drama appealed to just a smidgen over three million punters at 9pm, a far cry from the seven million plus which it used to regularly pull in just a year ago. Earlier, Stephen Mulhern's risible, wretched, sickeningly vile and odious Big Star's Little Star managed an audience of 3.35m at 8pm, which sort of destroys ones faith in humanity, somewhat. BBC1 topped the ratings outside of soaps with Sarah Millican's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? with 4.35m at 9pm. On BBC2, they were having a jolly good night; Harvest 2013 appealed to 2.55m at 8pm, followed by Ian Hislop's co-written comedy drama The Wipers Times with 2.04m at 9pm. Needless to say, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self (and his house guests) were watching that. And proper good it was too. Channel Four's Grand Designs interested 2.11m at 9pm. The Last Leg followed with nine hundred and seventy three thousand at 10pm. On Channel Five, Celebrity Big Brother's latest eviction episode attracted just over two million gawping freak-show lovers at 9pm. Presumably much the same sad, crushed victims of society that were watching Big Star's Little Star half an hour earlier. That fiasco was followed by the latest episode of Wentworth with nine hundred and thirty thousand punters at 10pm. The highest-scoring multichannel show was BBC4's Sex: A Horizon Guide - presented by Alice Roberts - with six hundred and sixty eight thousand viewers at 9pm.

The Musketeers writer Adrian Hodges has admitted that he was 'shocked' and 'stunned' when Peter Capaldi was cast as the new Doctor in Doctor Who. Capaldi will play the shadowy Cardinal Richlieu in the BBC1 drama's first series, which he shot prior to being unveiled as The Doctor. 'Of course, I didn't exactly anticipate my leading actor becoming the new Doctor Who but you have to roll with the punches,' Hodges whinged to Geek Syndicate. 'All we can really do is turn it as much to our advantage as we can.' Hodges also appeared to confirm that Capaldi's Doctor Who commitments will rule him out of appearing in any potential second series of The Musketeers. '[We'll] have a kind of "series villain" policy which I think will keep the show fresh,' he said.
Meanwhile, Russell Tovey has praised Capaldi's casting in, telling the Digital Spy website that he believes the actor is 'a genius.' I say, steady on. he's a good actor and all that, but 'genius'? Tovey, who played Alonso Frame on Doctor Who in two episode (the latter of which saw the character about to spend a night of unbridled big sweaty sodomy with Cap'n Jack) and also auditioned to play The Doctor in 2009, predicted that Capaldi's version of the Time Lord will have 'maturity' (which, given his age, is pretty likely) and an 'energy' reminiscent of Christopher Eccleston. Speaking at the Sandro London flagship store launch on Wednesday evening for London Fashion Week, Tovey was collared by somebody from the website and said of Capaldi: 'I think he's a genius, of course. He's absolutely [right for] The Doctor. He's slightly scary, an incredible actor, very kind of timeless, kooky - he's everything The Doctor should be.' Asked to guess what Capaldi would bring to the role that Matt Smith didn't, instead of replying 'how the ruddy fuck should I know? Let's wait to see what he's like, first' as yer actual Keith Telly Topping would have done, Tovey replied: 'Maturity. I think he might play it straighter than Matt does. Matt's energy, he's like a puppy dog. His Doctor is always discovering. I think Capaldi might play The Doctor as someone who knows he's been here before and seen it all, without getting overly excited. I can see more Christopher Eccleston's energy [in Capaldi] than David Tennant and Matt's.'

Hollyoaks actress Lucy Dixon has become the latest chancer to 'reveal' that she 'would love' to take part in Strictly Come Dancing. Yes, of course you would. But, you're not because they've got their quota of soap non-entities for this series. But, hey, thanks for enquiring. Better luck next year.

The Fast Show co-creator yer actual Charlie Higson has claimed that Twitter is 'damaging' new comedy. No to mention people's brain-cells. Chas told the Radio Times that many new comedy shows 'aren't given a chance [Comedy] gets more critical focus than any other medium,' he claimed. Yes, because so much of it is ruddy terrible. 'If you are watching a drama, how do you know it is good? If it is a comedy, it's whether you laugh or not. n many ways, the man who is the funniest is the leader of the pack - and there are plenty of people who want to undermine that person. Also, people pay so much attention to Twitter, things aren't given a chance.' Higson also lamented the lack of a hit sketch show in the UK since Little Britain wrapped in 2006. 'They are quite expensive to make and panel shows are also cheaper,' he explained. Said Charlie Higson, regular guest on Qi and Have I Got News For You.

Next ...
The publisher of the Sunday Mirra has confirmed that it is under investigation by poliss in relation to alleged phone-hacking. Trinity Mirra, which also publishes the Daily Mirra and the People, said in a statement to the stock exchange on Thursday morning that the Metropolitan police was investigating whether it is 'criminally liable' for an alleged phone-hacking conspiracy by previous employees. The announcement is the clearest admission by the newspaper group yet that it is under investigation as part of Scotland Yard's two-year inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal, Operation Weeting. Trinity Mirra said: 'Trinity Mirror PLC notes that its subsidiary, MGN Limited publisher of the group's national newspapers, has been notified by the Metropolitan police that they are at a very early stage in investigating whether MGN is criminally liable for the alleged unlawful conduct by previous employees in relation to phone-hacking on the Sunday Mirror. The group does not accept wrongdoing within its business and takes these allegations seriously. It is too soon to know how these matters will progress and further updates will be made if there are any significant developments.' This is the same Trinty Mirror, incidentally, which has always claimed that none of its journalists were involved in any phone-hacking and any suggestion that they might have been was an outrage - and a potentially libellous one, at that. So, it'll be very interesting to see whether the police actually find any evidence of such non-existent activities. The notification by the Met is a serious development for MGN and indicates that the police are investigating the company for a corporate charge as opposed to individual charges against journalists who have been arrested in related to allegations of phone-hacking. MGN has made the notification public because it is obliged to inform its shareholders of any development which could have a material impact on its stock. Trinity Mirra shares were down slightly after the 7am stock market announcement, falling 1.75 per cent to one hundred and twenty six pence a share at 8.30am. News International, now rebranded News UK, did not reveal that it had been told by the police it was being investigated for corporate charges in May 2012, possibly because the company was not separately listed on the London stock market at that time. However, it emerged during The Leveson Inquiry in July 2012 when the head of the investigation into alleged phone-hacking and unlawful and naughty payments for stories, Sue Akers, gave evidence. It was reported last month that one of billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's most senior lawyers had been interviewed under caution on behalf of the company and two other 'very senior figures' at News UK have been officially cautioned for corporate offences. It has also been widely reported - not least in the Gruniad Morning Star - that the American authorities are investigating billionaire tyrant Murdoch's companies in the US for possible corporate charges for alleged violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Earlier this month Dan Evans, a former Sunday Mirra reporter, became the first journalist to be charged over an alleged conspiracy to hack phones who was not working at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World. Evans, who worked at the Sunday Mirra between 2002 and 2004 and the Scum of the World from 2005, is accused of four counts of alleged criminal activity, including a conspiracy to hack the phones of 'well-known people and their associates' between 2003 and 2010. Scotland Yard first announced in March that it was investigating what it alleged was a 'separate conspiracy' to the phone-hacking scandal at the Scum of the World. On 14 March, the force extremely arrested four former Sunday Mirra journalists – including its former editor, Tina Weaver – on suspicion of being involved in an alleged phone-hacking conspiracy between 2003 and 2004. The other three ex-Sunday Mirra journalists arrested were the Sunday People editor, James Scott, his deputy Nick Buckley and Mark Thomas, the former People editor.

Former deputy news editor of the Sun, Ben O'Driscoll is to be charged in a probe investigating inappropriate payments to public officials, the CPS has said. O'Driscoll was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. He is alleged to have authorised payments of at least five thousand quid to public officials, including police officers and employees of Broadmoor hospital. He will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 18 September. Gregor McGill, a senior lawyer with the Crown Prosecution Service, said in a statement that the alleged payments were for information 'related to details about police incidents and crimes, including information about high-profile individuals and those associated with them. It also included information relating to the health and activities of Broadmoor patients,' he added. The payments were alleged to have occurred between 9 August 2007 and 11 January 2011. Operation Elveden is being conducted by the Metropolitan Police, under the supervision of the Independent Police Complaints Commission. It is running alongside Operation Weeting, the Met's phone-hacking inquiry, and Operation Tuleta, an investigation into computer hacking and other privacy breaches and nefarious doings.

Plans to drag billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch (whom no one is scared of any more) before the Commons culture, media and sport committee for a second grilling about the activities of his British newspaper empire have been shelved after the Attorney General and Murdoch's own lawyers intervened. Billionaire tyrant Murdoch (whom no one is scared of any more) wrote to the parliamentary committee on Tuesday to tell them that his lawyers have advised him that he 'should not submit himself for questioning' until all of the criminal trials relating to the Scum of the World and the Sun are over. Which, could take years. Under the current court schedule this may not be until July 2014 at the earliest but with potential appeals and more trials it could be a hell of a lot longer. John Whittingdale, chairman of the committee, said: 'The committee received a letter from News Corp setting out legal advice that he had received, but at the same time the committee received its own advice that there was a risk that any questions might prejudice the trials. On that basis we have decided not to pursue it at this stage.' It is understood that the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, and the speaker's counsel, Michael Carpenter, wrote to the committee counselling them not to go ahead with their planned interrogation. A spokesman for News Corp said that its advice was that 'there is, to put it at its lowest, a substantial risk that any questions from the committee on the subject you identify would touch on matters relevant to the criminal trial, and a substantial risk that any answers would seriously impede or prejudice the course of justice.' Billionaire tyrant Murdoch had agreed to appear before the committee when invited in July to answer fresh questions over secret tape recordings of a meeting he had with more than twenty Sun journalists who have been arrested in connection with alleged unlawful payments to police and other public officials for stories. The first trial related to the activities of News UK, is scheduled to start on 28 October and involves eight defendants including well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, and David Cameron's former spin doctor (and, if you will, 'chum'), Andy Coulson, who, like well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, was a former Scum of the World editor. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and Coulson have both pleaded extremely not guilty; their trials are expected to last until mid-February. Three more trials have been scheduled to take place after that date with the latest pencilled in for June.

A prosecutor has denied that Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell, who was cleared of sexual abuse charges this week, fell victim to a 'celebrity witch-hunt.' Nazir Afzal, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: 'Nobody should be above the law.' He said that cases were assessed on merit regardless of public profile of the alleged perpetrator. During Le Vell's trial it was suggested that the amount of recent celebrity prosecutions may have led the jury to think it was 'a witch-hunt.' The forty eight-year-old, who plays Kevin Webster in the soap, was cleared of twelve charges including rape and indecent assault at Manchester Crown Court on Tuesday. Prosecutor Eleanor Laws QC told the jury not to link the case to other high profile child sex abuse cases. She said: 'Before we started this trial, some of you may have thought there seems to be a lot of prosecutions of celebrities. "Is there some kind of witch-hunt? Has the world gone mad?" No-one likes to think that someone they liked or admired has done anything like this.' Speaking at a conference on grooming and child sex exploitation in Blackburn, Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for the North West, said cases were taken to court based on what evidence existed and whether there was a realistic prospect of a conviction. Afzal made the initial decision not to charge Le Vell after he was first arrested in September 2011, but that was later over-ruled by Alison Levitt QC, the principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions for England. He said: 'I absolutely detest this word "witch-hunt." It is not a witch-hunt. We look at the evidence. We follow the evidence. We present the evidence. I am not shy about pursuing these type of cases and will continue to do so. Invariably if it is child sexual abuse it will be in the public interest to prosecute it.'
The BBC has had an 'annus horribilis' after several controversies but it will bounce back, the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Miller has said. Speaking at a Royal Television Society convention, the vile and odious rascal Miller said that the role of the National Audit Office in holding the BBC to account had to be strengthened. She wants the public spending watchdog to have greater access to the BBC. In a clear criticism of the former Tory party chairman Lord Patten's stewardship of the BBC Trust, the vile and odious rascal Miller said the BBC had to act immediately to show it had learned from a series of - wholly unlinked - controversies which began with the Jimmy Savile fiasco and culminated on Monday with a humiliating grilling of a bunch of BBC bosses by MPs. The vile and odious rascal Miller said the BBC was a 'phenomenal worldwide brand' but warned there was a 'risk of events like this overshadowing the unstinting work of its staff. This must not be allowed to happen. The corporate dramas of the BBC should never eclipse its actual dramas.' The BBC has announced a review of its structure to provide better oversight of the way the licence fee is spent. Annus horribilis is a Latin phrase, meaning 'horrible year' and came to prominence after it was used in a speech by the Queen in 1992. The vile and odious rascal Miller's speech to an audience of industry insiders in Cambridge comes after a difficult week for the BBC. On Monday, seven former and current BBC bosses were grilled by members of the Commons spending watchdog about their handling of large pay-offs to former staff. The BBC has been criticised for paying twenty five million smackers to one hundred and fifty outgoing executives - two million more than their contracts stipulated - between 2009 and 2012. The vile and odious rascal Miller described it as 'a grim day for its senior management.' The lack of culture secretary indicated that the BBC's future governance and the future of the Trust – chaired by Patten – was itself under review. Echoing MPs' verdict earlier this week that the Trust was 'broken', the vile and odious rascal Miller said it was 'no good waiting until a new [BBC] charter in 2017 to act' on the way the BBC was governed. She said criticism of the BBC Trust was similar to that previously aimed at BBC governors, which it replaced in 2007. 'This criticism focused on insufficient independence and a lack of clarity over the separation of roles. Does that sound familiar?' she asked to the sound of sycophant slurping from the assembled multitude, all of them with their tongues out waiting for a good lick. The BBC has recently introduced a one hundred and fifty thousand smackers cap on severance pay and the vile and odious rascal Miller said that she recognised these changes had been made by the new director general Tony Hall. 'I will continue to keep the BBC's structures and effectiveness under review,' she said. 'Ultimately, licence fee payers rely not only upon the right structures and governance being in place but also upon the BBC's executive management using their good judgment. And I think serious questions were raised about that judgement by the scale of the severance payments made.' An NAO report, published in July, into severance packages at the corporation found 'weak governance arrangements have led to payments that exceeded contractual entitlements and put public trust at risk.' The vile and odious rascal Miller said the NAO's work had been 'pivotal in bringing issues to light' and criticised the fact it was stopped from 'immediately looking' at the pay-off package for former director general George Entwistle, who left the BBC in November 2012 in the wake of the Savile fiasco. She said: 'I want a system where the NAO can look at any area of concern without hindrance or delay.' In the last two years, the auditors have had greater freedom to deal with the BBC but still have to agree subjects in advance with the corporation and do not have the flexibility to react to events. In conclusion, she said: 'This has been an annus horribilis for the BBC. But we all know that institutions can recover and come back stronger from years like that. The BBC will bounce back.' Responding to the speech, BBC director general Tony Hall said: 'It's not been a great week for the BBC, I would completely agree. Those of us who love the BBC are, of course, saddened by what's happened over the last six months, and even more.' We are, this blogger very much included. And more than that, we're fucking angry that a bunch of greedy suits on the sixth floor have handed the BBC's many, odious, agenda-soaked enemies and open goal and a stick to beat the corporation with by their shameful actions. Hall said the 'audience would expect' the BBC and the BBC Trust to 'sort out' their relationship. 'And then we can turn a corner and concentrate on what people really want from us, which is great programmes.' Hall, who took up his post in April and inherited all this shite, added: 'We have nothing to fear from the NAO - but it's unclear to me yet quite what is planned.' A BBC Trust spokeswoman said: 'We have done a great deal to strengthen our relationship with the NAO in the last two years and to make the current arrangements work to the benefit of licence fee payers.' The BBC said a review of how the Trust and the executive work will try to 'simplify the relationship and provide better and clearer oversight of the way the licence fee is spent.' In a letter to the vile and odious rascal Miller, Lord Hall and Trust chairman Lord Patten said the review, which they aim to publish this year, would show they 'could make an improvement in the way that the BBC is run and managed, and to ensure a primary focus on what audiences want and need and how we spend their money.' Labour - which has been as much a brasher of the BBC over the last few years as the Tories but are now, suddenly, pretending to be the corporation's bestest friend in all the land - said that involving the NAO at this stage would be a 'kneejerk' reaction to a much more fundamental problem with the BBC. The party's deputy leader, Harriet Harman, said: 'We have concerns about the NAO because it is an administrative part of the government and the reason people trust the BBC is because it is politically independent. It's quite a big line to cross and we have to look at this with a cool head. We've got to review the Trust in a calm and systematic way.' Harman, did however, echo the vile and odious rascal Miller's concerns about the way the BBC was run, saying 'nobody should underestimate the seriousness about how wrong things have gone', and said the BBC needed to conduct a full audit of salaries, reflecting the fact that the broadcaster could reward people not just financially but through 'the amazing advantages it offers' including its global reputation. The Labour frontbencher also warned against running down the broadcaster. 'We are not unaware of the powerful political and commercial opponents of the BBC who will use the pay levels to undermine the BBC and us it to weaken it for their own purposes,' she added. No shit. And it's thanks to scum like you, Hattie, that those people are allowed to prosper.

The BBC HR director, Lucy Adams, is facing calls to quit over an allegation that she used the term 'sweetener' to describe severance payments to senior staff. Adams was alleged to have said 'Can I get a sense of the scale of the sweetener?' in a leaked internal BBC e-mail revealed in a tense hearing before MPs on the Commons public accounts committee on Monday. At the hearing Adams said that she 'could not recall' using the word 'sweetener' – which she described as 'a strange term' – when asked repeatedly by Stephen Barclay, the Conservative MP and PAC committee member who obtained the e-mail. From where, he did not reveal. However, when the MP said that it came from 'a leaked e-mail' in his possession she conceded: 'I may have used the term by means of an incentive to get to a swift resolution.' On Tuesday, Barclay described the term as 'a damning illustration of the attitude at the top of the BBC' towards six- and seven-figure payouts to departing executives. He said the position of Adams, who last month announced that she will leave the broadcaster in April, is 'untenable' and that she should resign immediately. 'The e-mail shines a light on the real culture of the HR department which saw payments [that went beyond] contractual terms as simply perks of the job,' he claimed. 'Clearly the decision to leave the BBC removed some of the need for further questioning, but it was clear she had lost the confidence of the committee in the accuracy of her recollections.' Another MP on the committee, Guto Bebb (no, honestly, that's the chap's name), said the 'sweetener' e-mail was a 'clear sign of the attitude of senior executives at the BBC to these above-contract payments.' He added: 'Whilst concern about sweeteners for senior officers was expressed, the evidence from the NAO shows that as you go down the "food chain" your chances of an above-contract deal receded.' Margaret Spanker Hodge, chair of the PAC and cane-wielder in chief, accused Adams of 'developing a habit of changing your evidence' during Monday's three-hour inquisition of BBC grandees including Mark Thompson, the former director general, and Lord Patten, the BBC Trust chairman. Adams replied that this was 'unfair' and looks as though she was about to burst into tears. Adams previously issued a 'correction' to her previous claim that she 'could not recall' a key memo proposing a controversial one million smackers payment to the BBC's former deputy director general, Mark Byford. She later admitted helping to write the document along with Thompson. Barclay said: 'I think her position is untenable and it is surprising that she will be continuing at the BBC until next spring when it is clear that, on more than one occasion, she denied any knowledge of material documents that she wrote before parliament. I found it a very sad day to see an institution with so many talented and hard-working staff being led by people paid telephone-number salaries and performing in a way that fell far short of what those staff deserve.' One or two people even believed him. The Tory MP Justin Tomlinson, who also serves on the PAC, added with regard to the 'sweetener' e-mail: 'It is clear this cavalier approach showed scant regard to the licence fee payers' money, impacting unfairly on staff, viewers and ultimately the reputation of the BBC.' Adams denied on Monday that she had instructed HR staff to be lax about paying handsome severance deals in an effort to reduce the senior management headcount at the BBC. She said the BBC had spent £1.9m going above contractual entitlements against cost savings of twenty million smackers, and added: 'Certainly not lax. We were trying to get people out of the door, to minimise disruption and to reduce the risk of litigation.' The BBC announced in August that Adams, who is paid three hundred and twenty thousand knicker a year, will leave in March 2014 without any severance pay after five years at the corporation. Tony Hall, the BBC director general who said the corporation 'lost the plot' on pay-outs, backed the HR director during her previous appearance before MPs in July. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'Although the BBC has not seen the e-mail, Lucy Adams explained the context in which this term might be used at the hearing.' At Monday's PAC hearing Adams asked Barclay if she could see the 'sweetener' e-mail. He declined - presumably, because that would have meant revealing which dirty stinking Copper's Nark sent it to him - but said that he was happy to share it with the auditor general of the National Audit Office, Amyas Morse, who also attended the committee meeting. Shortly afterwards, Morse, told the committee that he had seen the e-mail and suggested Adams be allowed to view it and respond after the hearing. Adams replied: 'Absolutely. I am more than happy to have a look at that document. As I say, what we were trying to do was to find a way of moving people out of the organisation.'
Channel Five owner Richard Desmond is to warn that public service broadcasters such as his station (no, really, he reckons Channel Five is a public service broadcaster. Yes, I laughed as well) and the BBC are 'over-regulated' and face an uncertain future trying to compete against rivals such as BSkyB, Google and Amazon. Desmond, delivering his first speech since buying Channel Five three years ago, will say on Thursday that the 'playing field is levelled against those of us who are trying to protect the incredible heritage of public service broadcasting.' He will add that some 'very big bets' are being made on the future of television by the new wave of Internet companies, such as Apple and Google, and deep-pocketed pay-TV companies who do not have to adhere to what he believes are a number of archaic TV regulations that govern the main PSBs – the BBC, ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five. 'Some very big bets on the future of television are being made by platforms and operators that don't have any PSB obligations at all,' he will argue in his first speech to the Royal Television Society Cambridge convention in Cambridge. 'BT, Virgin and Sky operate in a way that was never conceived of by the current system of regulation. And giants like Google, Amazon and Apple don't fall within the scope of regulation at all.' Desmond cited examples of what he sees as problems with the regulatory system, such as that PSBs have to pay BSkyB millions of pounds in fees for their channels to run on the satellite platform. He believes that the reverse should be true, that pay-TV companies such as BSkyB get the lion's share of their audience from channels such as the BBC, Channel Five and ITV and should pay for the viewing they deliver. 'PSBs should be able to charge pay-TV platforms for the benefits they get from offering the UK's most popular TV channels,' he will say. Desmond will also point to a historical regulation that allows non-PSB channels to air more minutes of advertising per hour. 'The commercial PSBs face limits on advertising minutage that are far too restrictive: we want a level playing field for all channels,' he will say. He will warn that if broadcasters such as Channel Five are not allowed to effectively compete then they could be put in a position that is 'impossible to recover from. I am fine with regulation where it is fair and flexible,' he will say. 'But if it limits growth, stops us being strong and ultimately fails the viewer, then in my view it is wrong. It is easy to jeopardise the future of public service broadcasting, but the effect is impossible to recover from.'

ITV soap Emmerdale is to mark the death of the fictional character Alan Turner, following the death of the actor who played him for more than thirty years. Richard Thorp, who died in May at the age of eighty one, had been the show's longest serving actor, having joined in 1982. The character's funeral will be shown at the end of October and will see the return of actress Lorraine Chase, who played Alan's daughter, Steph. Chase said: 'I was devastated when I heard the news that my dear friend, Richard Thorp had died. He was a wonderful, joyous man, a great actor, and I felt privileged to have worked with him so closely. When Emmerdale rang me to ask if I would consider coming back to guest at his character Alan, my on-screen dad's funeral, I was overjoyed, I just wish with all my heart that the circumstances were different.' Chase's character, Steph Stokes, was last seen in the soap in 2006 when she was wrongly jailed for murder. She will be escorted back for the funeral by prison guards. One of Thorp's earliest acting roles was as squadron leader Henry Maudslay in 1955 war film The Dam Busters. He joined Emmerdale Farm, as the series was then called, as the manager of Home Farm, playing something of a womanising bully. The character later mellowed and become a kingpin of village life as landlord of the village pub, The Woolpack. Emmerdale producer Kate Oates said: 'Alan Turner was so important to Emmerdale and we felt it was right to give his character a proper send off. It will be emotional as both the character and Richard are sorely missed and will be for a long time to come.'

Yer actual Clare Balding has revealed that she turned down the opportunity to front the BBC's coverage of the Queen's diamond jubilee river pageant, leading to the corporation to make possibly the most ill-fated decision its made in the last few years - and by hell, that's got some competition - to choose Fearne Cotton instead. The BBC's coverage of the jubilee weekend last June drew massive ratings and, interestingly, pretty decent audience appreciation figures, but also almost five thousand complaints, with more than two thousand of them directly about Cotton's utterly atrocious lightweight-style of covering the event. Balding said that the corporation asked her to be the 'female voice' of the four-day event, but that she had refused because of a lack of time to do adequate research and have a preparation day due to her heavy schedule covering the Epsom horse racing. 'I was asked to comment on the river pageant, which was a very noble gesture,' she said, speaking at a dinner event at the Royal Television Society conference in Cambridge. '[They said] we'd like a female voice to be commentating on it. I said "I can't. I've got The Oaks on Friday and The Derby on Saturday. I won't have any prep time, I can't do it."' In hindsight Cotton could have done with heeding the advice of Balding, who went on to win a legion of fans for her highly praised coverage of the London Olympics and Paralympics for both the BBC and Channel Four, with the pageant considered to be one of the low-lights of event coverage in the corporation's entire history. Instead, Cotton chose to attack her critics as 'bullies' on Twitter and came over as a right stroppy little madam who looked as though she was about to burst into tears when anyone had dared to voice the opinion that, actually, she's nowhere near as good as she thinks she is. And this blogger says that, dear blog reader, not as a professional TV critic but, rather, as a licence fee payer. You know, Fearne, one of those really annoying 'little people' who pay your vastly inflated sodding wages. 'I realise I am very precious about prep time, I really need it, I need to put the hours in, I can't just turn up and wing it,' said Balding, shedding light on the secret to her broadcasting success. 'I don't want to do it half-cocked and I don't want anyone else around me doing it half-cocked. It can be disastrous, and it really upsets the public as well.' Cotton's performance came in for the heaviest criticism, with some viewers calling the attempt at injecting a lighter tone to the coverage 'inane' and comparing it to a Blue Peter-style gimmick. Gaffes included getting a war veteran's name wrong and an interview with Paloma Faith in which the singer plugged her latest recording and the pair mused about royal memorabilia such as a diamond jubilee sick bag. That one really raised the ire of viewers. Balding also revealed that the effervescent presenting style which won so many plaudits during the Olympics, and cemented her place as one of the nation's most admired presenters, had, in the past, been 'mocked' by some of her presenting peers as being 'too Tiggerish' – a reference to the over-enthusiastic tiger of the Winnie the Pooh books. Balding also revealed that she gets 'somewhat exasperated' at the dominance of football on TV ('it sucks the oxygen out of everything else,' she claimed. Wrongly).

BBC Breakfast host Susanna Reid is yet to set foot in the ballroom in this year's Strictly Come Dancing, but she already appears to have been somewhat swept off her feet. According to the Daily Torygraph, the presenter has 'raised eyebrows' with some viewers - though, no numbers or details were actually provided so this is all probably a load of lies - over her 'flirtatious' interview with The Arctic Monkeys frontman, Alex Turner. The paper carries three pictures of Reid wearing what some described as 'an unusually casual denim jacket' – well, how very dare she? Give her a slippering on the bare bum instantly for such naughty badness – and reported that she had told Turner: 'I bet you look good on the dance floor.' Ho, ho! Did you see what she did there, dear blog reader? If not, don't worry about it, it would've been really funny in 2006. The paper then goes on to allege that viewers - again, no numbers or details provided so, almost certainly this is a further load of made-up bollocks - 'suggested an undertone to their conversation.' What, that she wanted to shag him? Hell, he's a good looking lad, who doesn't?

Maxine Peake is to play Hamlet in 'a radical re-imagining' of the play at Manchester's Royal Exchange theatre. Peake began her career in the venue's youth theatre before going on to star in such TV shows as Shameless and Silk. 'I am so excited [about] how gender swapping can affect and throw up new ways of looking at this theatrical masterpiece,' she said. The play will open next autumn and will mark the start of her wider role as an associate artist at the theatre. Hamlet will see Peake reunited with Royal Exchange artistic director Sarah Frankcom, who recently directed the actress in The Masque of Anarchy for the Manchester International Festival. That production saw Peake recite Percy Bysshe Shelley's epic poem about The Peterloo Massacre in Manchester in 1819. 'Arise like lions after slumber, in an unvanquishable number.' God, it's great stuff. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is a big fan. Anyway, 'Sarah and I have looked for a project that would stretch and excite us and Hamlet just seemed the the next natural step to challenge us both in so many ways,' the Salford-based actress said. Peake will follow in the footsteps of a number actresses from Sarah Bernhardt to Frances De La Tour, who have played Prince Hamlet on stage in the past. She added that the chance to join the Royal Exchange as an associate artist was 'the cherry on the cake. I am so honoured to be part of this building's future for a little while, especially in this climate of savage cuts when more than ever we need to support our wonderful regional theatres,' Peake said. 'I feel no need to compete with London - more than ever local people need a voice and a creative outlet in these extreme times and I feel the Exchange has a huge role to play in that.' Sarah Frankcom said: 'I am certain Maxine will be a compelling and extraordinary Hamlet for our time.' The Royal Exchange said Peake would also get involved in the theatre's work with community groups and young people across Manchester. She last starred on the Royal Exchange stage in August Strindberg's Miss Julie last year.

A US domestic violence court case, being heard by a jury which included Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks, has come to an early end amid allegations of jury tampering. The defence had asked for a mistrial citing misconduct after a member of the Los Angeles prosecutor's office approached the actor during a break and thanked him for his service. The defendant had been facing a year in jail if he had been convicted. However a plea deal for disturbing the peace and a one hundred and fifty dollar fine was agreed. The Hollywood actor had been serving on the twelve-person jury since the trial began last week. Defence lawyer Andrew Flier told the TMZ website that the incident happened during a lunch break on Wednesday when a female member of the LA City Attorney's Office approached Hanks - breaking rules on lawyers speaking to jurors outside the court room. 'The assigned prosecutor on the case gave notice to the court and myself, which was his duty of course under the ethics rules, that he either saw or was told that one of his colleagues had the contact with Mr Hanks. It was not the assigned trial prosecutor,' he said. 'She made contact with Mr Hanks in the stairwell of the building. She came up to him and thanked him, and [said] how impressed everyone is that such a celebrity would still be here serving jury duty. So she, in essence, was being maybe a little star-struck and nice, but it's an absolute one hundred per cent no-no and should never have happened,' he added. After the defence called for a hearing to prove misconduct, both sides settled for the defendant to plead no contest to the minor charges. City Attorney's Office spokesperson Frank Mateljan confirmed the interaction with Hanks, saying: 'The city attorney has been appraised of the situation and will be reviewing it.'

The next Pirates of the Caribbean movie has been delayed beyond its planned 2015 release. Disney's Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which sees Johnny Depp returning for his fifth appearance as Cap'n Jack Sparrow, was expected to go into production next year. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer told The Hollywood Reporter that 'issues' with the script and budget caused the delay. He said he was now targeting a summer 2016 release. 'We have an outline everyone loves but the script is not done,' Bruckheimer said, adding: 'We want a script that everyone's signed off on and a budget that everyone's signed off on.' The delay follows the poor performance by Disney's much anticipated summer film The Lone Ranger, also starring Depp, which earned just twenty nine million dollars in its opening weekend in America. The film, which reportedly cost two hundred and fifteen million dollars to make, has grossed two hundred and forty three million worldwide to date. Disney warned the film would amount to losses of between one hundred and sixty and one hundred and ninety million dollars after heavy spending on promotion failed to bring returns. Bruckheimer said coming up with a great script was 'always hard,' and after this summer - which saw several blockbuster movies perform poorly - 'everybody's more cautious.' The most recent Pirates instalments, At World's End and On Stranger Tides, were both released in time for Memorial Day weekend in September 2007 and 2011 respectively. Disney previously announced the fifth Pirates film will be directed by Kon-Tiki filmmakers Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg. The four films in the franchise have grossed a combined total of $3.7bn worldwide, making Pirates Of The Caribbean the fifth biggest film franchise ever.

Close family and friends of the broadcaster and writer Sir David Frost have attended his funeral. Veteran chat show host Sir Michael Parkinson, comedian Ronnie Corbett and broadcaster Stephen Fry were among the congregation at the Holy Trinity Church in Nuffield. Sir David died at the age of seventy four on 1 September after suffering a heart attack while on board a cruise ship. A public memorial service will be held at a later date. Someone described as 'a close friend' of the legendary broadcaster who, allegedly, did not want to be named, allegedly described the funeral ceremony, which included hymns and readings, as 'touching.' He allegedly added: 'It was such a sudden death. For friends. and family it was a very difficult time. The ceremony was a very touching and upsetting event.' The Reverend Brendan Bailey, who led Wednesday's service, tweeted: 'Had immense privilege of conducting Sir David Frost's funeral yesterday. Very simple, moving occasion. Please pray for his family.' Stephen Fry also wrote on Twitter: 'David Frost's funeral - so sad. He was a wonderful father, husband and friend. The only people who didn't like him hadn't met him.' Sir Michael Parkinson was among those who led the tributes following Sir David's death. The veteran chat show host described Frosty as 'a huge influence' and praised his 'great forensic skill.'

A video clip of a woman accidentally setting herself on fire while 'twerking' (you know the one) has been revealed as a fake. The video has racked up almost ten million views on YouTube and has been widely shared via social media. And, indeed, on this blog. The clip was thought, like many others, to be inspired by the risque dance routine performed by Miley Cyrus at MTV's Video Music Awards last month. However, it has now emerged that the clip was made for the late night US TV show hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping must admit that he was a bit suspicious about the veracity of the clip from the off - the camerawork being surprisingly steady given the scenario which it, allegedly, depicts. The clip titled, Worst Twerk Fail EVER, was uploaded to YouTube by the talk show on 3 September. It is listed as being made by one 'Caitlin Heller' but actually features a stuntwoman named Daphne Avalon. In the video, Avalon 'twerks' while doing a handstand against a door which is then opened by a friend. This causes Avalon to topple forward and smash a glass table on which are several lit candles that appear to set her own arse on fire. The hoax was revealed on the 9 September edition of the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show. An extended version of the video was shown which ended with Kimmel entering the room and using a fire extinguisher to put out the blaze. During the show Kimmel mocked the many news shows which had aired the clip assuming it to be real. Avalon also appeared on the show to explain her role and added that many people who knew her thought it was authentic, even though it was labelled with a pseudonym. 'Thank you for helping us deceive the world and hopefully put an end to twerking forever,' Kimmel said.

On Thursday evening, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping attended the first of Uncle Scunthorpe's 2013-14 season of The Record Player at The Tyneside. And, it was a cracker to kick-off with, yer actual Rhymin' Simon's Graceland an LP Keith Telly Topping his very self received as a birthday present from his colleagues at Newcastle West Job Centre back in October 1986. So, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day, dear blog reader, whaddya know, it's this.

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