Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Help Me In My Weakness, Cos I'm Falling Out Of Grace

BBC America will be finishing its celebratory series Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited on Sunday 24 November - the day after the show's fiftieth anniversary - when it marks the eleventh Doctor's era. A special documentary entitled The Doctors Revisited: The Eleventh Doctor will be broadcast at 8pm, in which yer actual Matt Smith, Jenna Louise Coleman her very self and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) will be among the participants examining 'the human side' of this Doctor and taking a look at how all the years he has lived have affected him.
Mark Gatiss has described An Adventure In Space And Time as his own public 'love letter' to Doctor Who. The BBC2 drama - to be broadcast next month - will depict the creation of the long-running popular family SF drama and its early days under original lead William Hartnell (played by David Bradley). 'I'd had David in mind for some years but it wasn't simply a question of a good likeness' said Gatiss. 'David is such a fine and delicate actor, I knew he'd find something wonderful in the part.' Gatiss also defended the decision to omit certain key figures from the drama - including script editor David Whitaker and producer Donald Wilson - despite their 'immeasurable' contribution to Doctor Who in the 1960s. 'I had to focus it down - simple as that,' he said. 'This is a drama, not a documentary, and though it's extremely painful to have to leave out some people who played a huge part, it makes dramatic sense. You simply can't do everyone justice in ninety minutes.'
Strictly Come Dancing once again came out on top in the overnight ratings battle on Sunday. The BBC1 pro-celebrity dance competition rose by nearly one hundred and fifty thousand viewers from last Sunday's results show to 9.56 million at 7pm. On ITV, The X Factor gained two hundred thousand punters week-on-week to 8.84m at 8pm. Following that, Downton Abbey lost around two hundred thousand, falling to 8.68m at 9pm. Earlier, Surprise, Surprise was watched by 3.86m at 7pm. Prize Island, the game show presented by Alexander Armstrong and Emma Willis, drew 1.5 million viewers between 5.40pm and 6.35pm. On BBC1, The Paradise dropped six hundred thousand viewers to 4.57m at 8pm. By Any Means was watched by 3.02m at 9pm. BBC2's Dive WWII interested 1.18m at 7pm, while Great Continental Railway Journey brought in 2.40m at 8pm. On Channel Four, The Bigfoot Files appealed to 1.28m at 8pm, followed by the latest Homeland with 1.54m at 9pm, the fourth successive weekly fall for the US drama. Channel Five's broadcast of the movie Ghostbusters had an audience 1.03m at 7pm, while Scream 4 was watched by six hundred and forty nine thousand at 9pm.

Here are the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Four programmes, week-ending 20 October 2013:-
1 Downton Abbey - Sun ITV - 10.87m
2 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 10.85m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 10.36m
4 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 9.37m
5 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 8.49m
6 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.15m
7 World Cup Qualifier: England Versus Poland - Tues ITV - 8.10m
8 Doc Martin - Mon ITV - 8.04m
9 The Great British Bake-Off - Tues BBC2 - 7.41m
10 Crimewatch UK - Mon BBC1 - 7.15m
11 Countryfile - Sat BBC1 - 6.85m
12 Atlantis - Sat BBC1 - 6.08m
13 The Paradise - Sun BBC1 - 6.04m
14 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 5.27m
15 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.24m
16 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.123m
17 DIY SOS: The Big Build - Tues BBC1 - 4.90m
18 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.80m
19 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.71m
20 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 4.44m
21 Match of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 4.23m
22 By Any Means - Sun BBC1 - 4.21m
23 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.063m
24 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.04m
All shows this week do include HD figures (yes, even ITV HD - I know, I was pure-dead surprised as well). BBC2's top-rated programmes of the week, aside, obviously, from The Great British Bake-Off, was University Challenge (3.14m). That was followed by Trust Me, I'm A Doctor (3.05m), the wretched, unfunny The Wrong Mans (2.86m) and Qi (2.49m). Educating Yorkshire topped Channel Four's weekly list (3.48m), followed by Grand Designs (3.01m) and Homeland (2.70m). On Benefits & Proud was at the apex of Channel Five's ratings (2.29m). The Saturday night episode of The X Factor was watched by 8.60m on ITV. Strictly's Sunday consolidated audience was 10.02m.
Hundreds of viewers - with, seemingly, nothing better to do with their time - have whinged about Lady Gaga's performance on The X Factor on Sunday, according to Ofcom. Around two hundred people contacted the broadcasting watchdog about the singer's outfit of shells and flesh-coloured underwear. And, they weren't wanting to know where they could get one just like it. 'We will assess all the complaints received on this issue before deciding whether to investigate,' said a spokesman with a resigned sigh. Another sixty viewers complained directly to ITV about the singer's appearance, before the 9pm watershed. An ITV spokeswoman said: 'We do not believe Lady Gaga's performance was inappropriate for the family audience of The X Factor results show, which has an established tradition of featuring performances from the biggest music stars. Lady Gaga is well known for her highly individual performance style.' And, for giving lots of teenage boys The Horn, too. In 2010, The X Factor final featured Christina Aguilera in a routine which was described as being 'at the very margin of acceptability' by Ofcom. A report said the 'sexualised' pre-watershed scenes led to two thousand six hundred and eight six complaints to the media regulator after Aguilera wore a short black dress while her female dancers wore suspenders, bra tops, fishnet stockings and basques. Although, most of them came in after the Daily Scum Mail had ran one of their predictably periodic 'ban this sick filth' campaigns and published photos far more suggestive than anything ITV had actually broadcast, something with Ofcom also noted in its report.
Ripper Street returned for its second series with 5.08 million viewers on Monday, overnight data reveals. The BBC1 drama was the biggest draw of the night outside of soaps, with a twenty three per cent audience share. However, it was down a fraction - around thirty thousand viewers - from its last episode in February. On BBC2, University Challenge had an audience of 2.86m at 8pm, while Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food interested 2.09m at 8.30pm. Iceland Foods continued with 2.16m at 9pm, followed by Never Mind the Buzzcocks with 1.04m at 10pm. ITV's new series for Wor geet canny Robson Green, Tales From Northumberland attracted 3.57m at 8pm. Documentary OCD Ward appealed to 2.74m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Dispatches garnered 1.09m at 8pm, followed by Health Freaks with nine hundred and eighty one thousand punters at 8.30pm. 999 was watched by 1.23m at 9pm, while Embarrassing Fat Bodies had nine hundred and seven thousand sick voyeurs gawping at it, at 10pm. Channel Five's The Gadget Show was seen by six hundred and ninety nine thousand at 8pm. Pickpockets & Proud continued with 1.37m at 9pm, while Under the Dome pulled in one million viewers at 10pm. BBC4's Only Connect had eight hundred and twenty eight thousand at 8.30pm.

It was jolly nice to see Ripper Street back on Monday night and with a pretty good episode too - if a bit flimsy of Chinese culture and, indeed, the development of heroin as a narcotic. However, one particularly aspect of the story really did not only get on yer actual Keith Telly Topping's tit-end but, also, grate his cheese as well; Reid's use of the phrase 'reverse engineer' in 1890. A term which, according to the Oxford Dictionary Of New Words didn't enter the language until approximately one hundred years later. Now, that's careless.
The BBC have - rightly - stood by its satirical news quiz Have I Got News For You in the face of ignorant and politically motivated criticism - from the usual subjects with their sick anti-BBC agenda smeared all over the pudgy faces like a nasty rash - about a joke by the guest presenter, Jo Brand, which suggested Prince Harry snorts cocaine. Brand made the remark during Friday night's edition of the long-running BBC1 topical panel show in a discussion about the names of Prince George's new Godparents. Reading from an autocue, Brand said: 'George's Godparents include Hugh Van Cutsem. I presume that's a nickname as in Hugh Van cuts 'em and Harry then snorts 'em.' The comment prompted one of the team captains, Ian Hislop, to ask: 'Have we lost the lawyers?' The joke, was described by the defence minister, Anna Soubry, as 'disgraceful, shoddy, appalling and out of order.' The Tory MP added: 'Jo Brand should not have stooped to that level and both she and the BBC should apologise.' Although the sound of Ms Soubry was, reportedly, a bit muffled as she had her face buried right up the Royal ringpiece at the time. Go on, yer actual Annaship, get in there and give 'em a right good quality lick. And then let us know all what the Royal smear tastes like. You sycophantic brown-tongued waste of blood and oxygen. The former head of the army, Lord Dannatt, another person clearly in search of a place in the queue for a good bit of slurping tongue up the Royal anus, added: 'It might have been said as a joke but the suggestion is outrageous. It is a very unfortunate joke to make and most inappropriate.' The BBC said that it 'stood by' the joke in the programme. A spokesman said: 'Have I Got News For You is a satirical news quiz and the audience is used to the often irreverent humour. This line was a play on words as part of a section on the surnames of those involved in the christening and was clearly tongue-in-cheek.' As opposed to tongue-up-arse, an important difference. And, slightly more importantly, we live in a democracy where freedom of a speech is given and abasing oneself in front of royalty went out in the last century. Except for the brown-tongues of the likes of you. The prince once confessed to his father, the Prince of Wales, that he smoked cannabis and was taken to a drug rehabilitation clinic for a day, it was revealed in 2002. The BBC was unable to confirm how many complaints it had about the broadcast, saying that the figure would not be available until Monday. Brand, a well-known republican, said that she did not write the joke, but that stood by it. 'I didn't write it. I read it out from the autocue. I thought it was funny. I don't really understand what the fuss is about,' she said. 'I am not going to apologise.' Brand's agent said that she had nothing more to add. The programme's production company, Hat Trick, also declined to comment about the show, which is pre-recorded on Thursday evenings before transmission the following day. Last Friday's episode was watched by 4.5 million overnight viewers. John Whittingdale, the Tory chairman of the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee, said he thought the joke was at the boundary of what was acceptable, but did not go over the edge. 'It's a late night satirical programme and this particular joke is the sort of thing you'd expect,' he said. 'Some people might not like it but I don't think it goes so far as to breach the broadcasting code. Have I Got News For You has a long tradition of pretty risque jokes and pushing at the limits, and this is another case of that. If it's deeply offensive that's another matter, but I don't think it was that bad.'
Christ almighty, dear blog reader, don't some people just make you want to spew.
Former News International chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and David Cameron's former spin doctor and, if you will, 'chum', Andy Coulson have arrived at the Old Bailey in London on the first day of their trial on charges linked to phone-hacking, alleged corrupt payments to public officials and other general naughty badness. Charges which they, of course, deny. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, ex-editor of the Sun and now disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World newspapers and Coulson, also a former Scum of the World editor, faced massed ranks of media outside the central criminal court on Monday morning. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, from Churchill in Oxfordshire, who resigned from News International in July 2011, faces five charges spanning more than a decade, including one in relation to allegations of conspiracy to hack phones. She has denied the charge and two further allegations that she conspired with others to commit misconduct in public office. She has also pleaded not guilty to two charges that she conspired - with others - to pervert the course of justice. Coulson, from Preston in Kent, who quit Downing Street in January 2011, is facing three charges in relation to his time as editor of the Scum of the World. He has denied two charges relating to an alleged conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. He has also pleaded not guilty to allegations linked to a phone-hacking conspiracy on the paper. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks's racehorse trainer husband, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks, has pleaded not guilty to one charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, as has her former personal assistant at News International Cheryl Carter and News International's head of security Mark Hanna. Ian Edmondson, the ex-head of news at the Scum of the World and Stuart Kuttner, the former managing editor of the paper, each face one charge in relation to a conspiracy to hack phones. Clive Goodman, the former Scum of the World royal editor, is accused of conspiring, with Coulson, to commit misconduct in public office. The case started with a half an hour of legal discussions before the jury selection process started. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was first to take her seat in the glass-panelled dock alongside her husband. The remaining defendants sat to her right. Court twelve was packed to the rafters, with twenty four barristers, at least a dozen solicitors and about twenty reporters present, plus another thirty to forty journalists in an overspill annex. A panel of up approximately eighty potential jurors were called to Court twelve between noon and 12.30pm and told the case could last up to six months. Judge Mr Justice Saunders acknowledged such a length of time could cause 'significant disruption in people's lives' but said that jurors would need to have 'powerful reasons' to be excused. Those not immediately excused were asked to complete a questionnaire to further assess their suitability to try the case, with a final panel of twelve expected to be selected on Tuesday. Addressing the large pool of potential jurors, Saunders told them: 'The trial which we are about to start will take a considerable length of time. It is estimated that the case may last until Easter. I hope that with the assistance of counsel the case will finish more quickly. But people who sit on it should be prepared for the case to go on that long.' He warned the panel: 'It's critical to the jury system that a jury takes the case free from any preconceptions. From now on you do not discuss the case with anyone. It's the sort of case that many people have views on.' He also instructed them: 'Do not look up anything about the case either, because if you do you may make it difficult, if not impossible, to be impartial.' Those selected must try the case only on the evidence they would hear, he said. After eliminating those who could not sit on the jury, the judge instructed those remaining they would have to complete a questionnaire. He reminded those left that told being a jury member was 'not voluntary' and reiterated strict instructions to potential jurors not to talk to others about the case or to look up the case on the Internet. 'You are not to talk about it, do not look anything up on Google, search engines; tweeting,' he said.

Greg Dyke is leading a backlash against sinister and odious sneering threats from the Conservative party's chairman that the BBC could lose its exclusive rights to the licence fee if it does not tackle what he claimed was unbalanced reporting and a culture of waste. Smug fuck Grant Shapps said over the weekend that the Tories, if still in power, would 'consider' whether the BBC can keep receiving all of the £145.50 each year from every household with a TV after 2016, when the current Royal Charter expires. But in a notable intervention, Dyke, a former BBC director-general, said that the comments by wretched, oily twat Shapps were 'a predictable attempt' to whip the corporation's journalists into line before the 2015 general election. Dyke has been backed by Mad Hattie Harman, Labour's deputy leader, who said it was 'wrong' for Shapps to use his position to stop legitimate reporting of failures in government policy. The clash comes amid growing concerns from Labour that the Tories wish to 'soften' the BBC's reporting as the general election approaches. In comments made on The Andrew Marr Show, Dyke said that the BBC's impartiality was under attack: 'This is an attempt to pressurise and intimidate the BBC, which is what governments do, and it is the BBC's job is to resist. You can't let politicians define impartiality,' he said. Dyke, who was forced out of the BBC in 2004 after Lord Hutton's report into the circumstances surrounding the death of David Kelly, added that Shapps's comments were 'so predictable. Eighteen months from a general election, the government of the day, it doesn't matter which party, starts to say: "If we win again we are going to start taking away your money." They will do it,' he said. Harman told Marr: 'I think it's absolutely wrong. I mean he's the chair of the Conservative party. I note this has not come from the secretary of state for culture, Maria Miller, and I'm sure she wouldn't be doing that. [Shapps] is complaining about the BBC, using the fact that we're heading into charter review and licence fee review, in order to put pressure on the BBC because the Conservatives are trying to somehow blame the BBC for the fact that they're having to report that the government is actually not succeeding in so many ways. I think it's right for the BBC to keep a hawk eye on making sure people don't stray over and trespass on the independence of the BBC and that is what the BBC should be making sure they hold out against.' She added: 'Some of the Tories are against the BBC because it's a public corporation and actually have never liked it and they see any opportunity to give it a good kicking.' Shapps told the Sunday Torygraph that the BBC 'must tackle' an alleged 'culture of secrecy' and waste in the wake of the Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall fiascoes and rows over salaries and pay-offs to senior executives. 'They have ended up working in this culture which is buried in the last century, which is, "we are the BBC, we do what we like, we don't have to be too accountable,"' sneered the odious twattish smug rascal. 'But they are raising £3.6bn through the licence fee, which is a tax, and, quite rightly, the public wants to have sight of how the money is spent. Things like the pay-offs have really caused concern, as have, obviously, things like Savile and Hall and the culture that goes around that. I think it is one of too much secrecy.' I love this idea that the public wish only like their money being spent on things that they approve of. Lots of them don't like tanks. Even more don't like politicians. The interview then took a more intimidating turn when Shapps spoke of his 'concerns' about a lack of fairness in the BBC's reporting. He singled out the BBC's home editor, Mark Easton, for a report on a European commission paper on benefits for immigrants and said Easton's conclusions were 'wrong. I do think there is, possibly with the particular journalist, but also there is an editorial question for the BBC about applying fairness in both directions. That also is a question of credibility for the organisation,' he claimed. He highlighted an opinion poll two weeks ago which concluded that the public were content with the outcome of the spending cuts so far, which the BBC downplayed. 'When they were proved categorically wrong, and people gave the wrong answer and said their services were improved, their response was to bury the story,' he said. An alleged Tory 'source' allegedly said that there was 'no attempt' to intimidate or pressurise the BBC, but added that there was 'a legitimate debate' to be had about the secrecy of the BBC and the use of public money. Which is, of course, total crap and exactly the sort of diarrhoea that you'd except from an alleged Tory 'source'. A BBC spokesperson said that Shapps was 'right' that transparency is key to the future of the BBC, but wrong in every other respect and, in fact, a nasty little ginger trouble-making smug fuck, adding: 'So is its freedom from political pressure. The BBC and the BBC Trust actively encourages the public to tell us what it thinks of our services and help us police our own guidelines. On TV and radio they personally hold its executives to account. In 2012 the BBC dealt with more than sixteen hundred freedom of information requests and volunteered information on hundreds more. We are proud of the quality of our news and its commitment to reporting without bias. Where we believe or are shown to have erred we correct and apologise.' On the criticisms of Easton, the spokesperson said: 'We are satisfied that our coverage of the European Commission report was fair, balanced and impartial. As we do with all our stories, we explored the wider debate with relevant context and represented a range of views. Mark Easton is one of our most experienced and well-respected journalists with a long track record in reporting without fear or favour.'
In the latest From The North's recurring series, Examples of things that are, like, totally geet cush, and make the world a better place by their very existence, number fourteen: Girls with shooters.
Gosh. That's a rather striking weapon.

That's followed, as usual, by, Great Daft Moments From TV History. Today, number twelve: The greatest ever death scene in TV history. Bar none. As Gina Bellman's character gets bashed over the bonce by her own BAFTA in the finest episode of Waking The Dead, Final Cut.
The next series of The Apprentice has been pushed back until autumn 2014. The BBC has taken the decision to delay the transmission of the show's tenth series to avoid a scheduling clash with next summer's World Cup coverage. Lord Sugar-Sweetie confirmed the news on Twitter when asked about the show's return to BBC1. Earlier this year, Leah Totton became the latest candidate to win a two hundred and fifty thousand smacker investment, with Sugar-Sweetie opting to invest in her cosmetic clinics business rather than Luisa Zissman's wholesale bakery concept.

Sesame Street has done its own unique version of Homeland. The puppet adaptation of the series, titled Homelamb, shows sheep versions of Claire Danes's Carrie, Mandy Patinkin's Saul and David Harewood's Estes enlisting the help of a Big Bad Wolf version of Damian Lewis's Nick Brody, who is, of course, disguised as a sheep. The sheep FBI agents interrogate Brody before finally uncovering that he is, in fact, a wolf, as it were, in sheep's clothing. It's a metaphor, see. Oh, suit yerself.
Looks nothing like Damien Lewis. Except for the nose, obviously. Next ...
A former BBC driver accused of sex offences has been found dead. David Smith, from Lewisham, had been due to stand trial at Southwark Crown Court for allegedly abusing a boy, aged twelve, in 1984. A warrant was issued for his arrest on Monday after he failed to attend court. Smith was charged with two counts of indecent assault, two of indecency and one of a serious sexual offence as part of Operation Yewtree. The cause of his death is not yet known. Smith was the first person to be charged under the investigation into historical cases of abuse, which was originally set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile fiasco. It was alleged that Smith met his victim at a swimming pool and invited him back to his flat, where he sexually abused him. Smith also, allegedly, took the boy on a visit to the BBC studios at White City. During the journey, the boy claimed, he was indecently assaulted. The alleged victim's partner contacted police after she saw his response to the ITV documentary Exposure: The Other Side Of Jimmy Savile, which was broadcast in October 2012. A previous attempt to track down Smith in 2002 had failed when police could not find him - even though he was in prison at the time. So, they obviously didn't look very hard. Smith was a prolific sex offender whose first conviction was in 1966. He had twenty two convictions for sexual offences against young boys at various times. His barrister became concerned on Monday when Smith failed to appear at court. Police found him at his home address and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The US Senate's intelligence committee has announced a major review of the country's surveillance operations. The committee's chair, Diane Feinstein, said that eavesdropping on leaders of friendly nations was 'wrong'. No shit? And, you've only just discovered this? She said that the White House had told her such surveillance would stop, but a senior administration official told the BBC there was 'no policy change' so far. Senior US intelligence agency officials are to testify before the House of Representatives later on Tuesday. Correspondents say that pressure is growing on the White House to explain why President Obama apparently did not know about the extent of the intelligence gathering operations. Obama has spoken publicly of his intent to 'probe' spying activities amid claims of eavesdropping on US allies. In a TV interview, the president said that national security operations were being 'reassessed' to make sure the National Security Agency's growing technical spying capability was kept under control. 'We give them policy direction,' he told ABC's Fusion network. 'But what we've seen over the last several years is their capacities continue to develop and expand, and that's why I'm initiating now, a review to make sure that what they're able to do, doesn't necessarily mean what they should be doing.' An EU delegate in Washington has described the row over intelligence gathering as 'a breakdown of trust.' German media has reported that the Americans bugged German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone for more than a decade - and that the surveillance only ended a few months ago. Feinstein, who chairs the Senate intelligence panel, called for a 'total review' of US intelligence programmes in light of the Merkel revelations. 'With respect to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of US allies - including France, Spain, Mexico and Germany - let me state unequivocally: I am totally opposed,' she said in a statement. 'It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel's communications were being collected since 2002. That is a big problem.' Senator Feinstein said that the White House had told her that all surveillance of leaders of countries friendly to the US would stop. However, the BBC's North America editor Mark Mardell says that 'a senior administration official' has told the BBC this is 'not accurate' - and that while there have been individual changes - there have not been policy changes, such as terminating intelligence gathering aimed at allies. Earlier, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that the administration 'recognise[s] there needs to be additional constraints on how we gather and use intelligence.' Neither Carney nor Obama have commented on specific allegations that the US eavesdropped on international allies, including tapping the phones of foreign officials. An across-the-board review of US intelligence resources is currently under way. Tough questions can be expected from Congress as politicians of all stripes have been angered by the revelations of large scale intelligence gathering on both Americans and US allies. The Associated Press quoted an unnamed administration official saying that the Obama government was 'considering ending spying' on allied heads of state. The official said that 'a final decision' had still to be made, as the internal review was under way. Earlier on Monday, representatives from the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs spoke to members of the US Congress about the alleged US spying on European leaders and citizens. The European delegation was reportedly unhappy and fed up with the 'stock' responses from US officials on the issue. Their visit coincided with reports that the US had monitored sixty million Spanish telephone calls in a month and asked the Japanese government to help it monitor fibre-optic cables carrying personal data through Japan, to the Asia-Pacific region. According to Spain's El Mundo newspaper, the NSA tracked tens of millions of phone calls, texts and emails of Spanish citizens in December 2012 and January 2013. The Japanese news agency Kyodo claimed Japan had refused the NSA's request, citing legal restriction and staff shortages. Merkel is also sending German intelligence officials to Washington. The allegations of US surveillance on international allies stem from documents leaked by fugitive ex-US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, now living in Russia. The US has had a 'no spying pact', known as 'Five Eyes', with Britain since just after World War II, with Australia, New Zealand and Canada later joining the group.
Graham Norton has criticised the BBC for severance pay-offs awarded to senior staff, calling them an 'own goal' for the corporation. Norton, one of the BBC's highest paid stars, said it was 'extraordinary' that in a time of cuts, some BBC staff were being 'handed sacks of cash. It defies belief,' the TV and radio presenter told the Radio Times. The BBC paid twenty five million notes to one hundred and fifty outgoing - non-programme making - executives over three years - two million quid more than their contracts stipulated. In July, the National Audit Office criticised the payments, saying the BBC risked 'public trust.' The corporation's new director general, Tony Hall, introduced a one hundred and fifty grand cap on severance pay for senior managers in September. Norton, presents a show on BBC Radio 2 as well as The Graham Norton Show on Friday nights on BBC1. His criticisms echo those of Sir David Attenborough, who said last month that the salaries paid to senior BBC staff were 'a huge embarrassment. The BBC is in my view one of the most important strands in the cultural life of this country and it is going through a bad patch,' Sir David said. 'I just hope that it will emerge from the bad patch with the standards that made it great still there.' Norton also said the corporation was 'scoring way too many own goals' but added that he was optimistic for the future after the appointment of Lord Hall and a new management team. 'You hope we can start again and that those sort of mistakes won't continue to be made,' he said. 'Because it did seem extraordinary in a time of cuts where you were asking everyone who works for the BBC who's loyal and doing a good job to tighten their belts and take a reduction in pay, while those people who'd dragged the BBC into disrepute were being handed sacks of cash. It defies belief.' Norton, who also presents coverage of The Eurovision Song Contest for the BBC, said he would only consider switching to ITV 'if they had a lorry load of cash outside my door. I can't imagine what would make me go. Who's to say? Because I don't think I would work on ITV.' The Graham Norton Show - now in its fourteenth series - moved to BBC1 in 2009, and took over Jonathan Ross's Friday night slot a year later.

Diane Keaton, the star of films including Annie Hall and Something's Gotta Give, is planning a US TV remake of the BBC romantic drama Last Tango in Halifax. Keaton has acquired the rights to the BBC1 hit for a US version that will be broadcast on cable channel HBO, home of shows including The Sopranos and Game of Thrones, according to Last Tango In Halifax creator Sally Wainwright. The drama, about two widowed and retired septuagenarians who were childhood sweethearts rekindling their romance via Facebook stars Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi. It is unclear whether Keaton herself plans to appear in the HBO remake. Wainwright, the show's Yorkshire-born writer and executive producer, told journalists at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch on Monday that she would have an associate producer role on the US version, but did not expect to be closely involved. The second series of Last Tango In Halifax - which also stars Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker and which was one of BBC1's biggest-rating new shows of 2012 - launches next month and a third is planned.
The supermarket chain Iceland has made a spectacular dig at Kerry Katona, the former face of its TV advertising campaigns. The store claimed that Katona is 'no longer relevant' to its brand because it is focusing on 'product quality.' Ouch. This year's Iceland campaign will feature a festive soundtrack from Michael Bublé rather than z-list celebrity toot. 'The days of Kerry Katona are behind us,' said Iceland's executive director Nick Canning. 'We feel the appeal of Michael Bublé gives us real class and mainstream appeal reflecting a bigger focus on product quality.' One has to wonder about the credibility of anyone who thinks of The Bublé as 'quality', of course but anything which continues to keep the utterly worthless Katona off TV screens is, frankly, a good thing. It should also be remembered that other Iceland z-list celebs in recent years have included Coleen Nolan and Stacey Solomon.
The Egyptian broadcaster CBC has distanced itself from its star satirist, Bassem Youssef, after he criticised both the army-backed government and the Islamist regime it succeeded in the first episode of his long-delayed new series. Youssef's widely watched show, which rose to global prominence last year for lampooning the former president, Mohamed Morsi, had been off-air since before Morsi's overthrow in July. Its return was anticipated as a litmus test for free speech in the post-Morsi era, in which few dare to criticise the army for fear of upsetting the authorities or alienating a largely pro-military audience. Youssef's production team said the series had been postponed after the death of his mother, but many feared that his prolonged absence from the airwaves was the result of censorship by the government or CBC. On Friday night Youssef re-emerged with the first episode of his third series and took careful aim at most Egyptian factions. Youssef criticised the Morsi administration, whose prosecutors had interrogated him this spring. But he also questioned the actions of the current government and mocked the popular adulation of the army chief, General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. 'I definitely do not support the people who attacked us, accused us of heresy, had the gallows ready for us, and publicly demanded our arrest,' said Youssef, a heart surgeon whose shift to satire was inspired by the US comedian Jon Stewart and The Daily Show. 'At the same time, I don't support the hypocrisy, deification, "pharoahisation" and the repetition of the mistakes of the past thirty or even sixty years,' he added, in a veiled reference to the dictatorships of Hosni Mubarak, Anwar Sadat and Gamal Abdel Nasser, a strongman era to which some Egyptians seek a return. 'What we fear is that fascism in the name of religion will be replaced by fascism in the name of patriotism and national security,' Youssef said. As expected, the show sparked criticism from all sides of the political spectrum, especially from supporters of the army. At least four viewers filed legal complaints against Youssef, which could lead to a formal investigation. A day later Youssef's employers at CBC, who had constantly stood by him during similar barrages under Morsi, moved to distance themselves from his stance. 'CBC will continue to be supportive of the basics of national sentiment and popular will and is keen on not using phrases and innuendos that may lead to mocking national sentiment or symbols of the Egyptian state,' said a CBC broadcaster in a statement on behalf of the channel's spineless board. During the show Youssef appeared to predict the coming storm, in a skit that riffed on the theme of censorship. 'Nobody will tell us what to say. We shall say what we want,' he dead-panned as a hand reached from beneath his desk and replaced his script with another.
Yer actual David Bowie has led the tributes to Lou Reed, who died on Sunday aged seventy one. Bowie's Facebook page said of his old friend, considered one of the most influential songwriters in rock: 'He was a master.' Reed's second solo LP Transformer, featuring 'Perfect Day', 'Satellite Of Love' and 'Walk On The Wild Side', was co-produced by Bowie and Mick Ronson. Reed's literary agent said that Lou died of a 'liver-related ailment.' The last tweet posted on Lou's official Twitter account, hours before the news of his death, simply stated: 'The Door.' The tweet linked to a photograph of a door, with a poster of Reed on it and the words 'Papa Loves Baby' scrawled underneath. Reed's former Velvet Underground band-mate John Cale wrote on his website: 'The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet. I've lost my "schoolyard buddy."' Other musicians paying tribute included The Who and Iggy Pop who said it was 'devastating news.' A freely admitted hard drinker and drug-user for many years, Reed had a liver transplant this May after suffering liver failure. 'I am a triumph of modern medicine,' Lou posted on his website on 1 June. But Reed's literary agent, Andrew Wylie, said that the musician, who died at his home in Long Island on Sunday morning, had not been well 'for a few months.' Author Salman Rushdie expressed his loss by tweeting: 'My friend Lou Reed came to the end of his song. So very sad. But hey, Lou, you'll always take a walk on the wild side. Always a perfect day.' Music journalist Charles Shaar Murray told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Lou 'completely changed the cultural landscape we inhabit.' He said that although The Velvet Underground were 'spectacularly unsuccessful', The Beatles. The Rolling Stones and Bowie were 'huge fans' of Reed and that he 'exercised huge influence on glam rock and punk and everything that grew out of those phenomena.' Charles added that Lou infamously 'did not suffer fools, or journalists, gladly', adding that 'he was not considered a likeable man, except by his closest friends.' Lou, he said, used the 'deliberate withholding of charm as a weapon' and 'performed to a smallish but loyal audience sufficient in number to sustain a comfortable lifestyle.' The Velvet Underground became renowned for their fusion of art and music and for collaborating with Andy Warhol. However, although the band never achieved anything like commercial success during their time together - 1965 to 1970 - their influence on music in later decades was/is widely recognised. They released only studio four LPs - The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967), White Light/White Heat (1968), the superb The Velvet Underground (1969) and Loaded (1970) - and there were a couple of subsequent live LPs and collections of previously unreleased outtakes (1974's 1969: The Velvet Underground Live and 1985's studio collection, VU, are particularly recommended). But, oh, them songs: 'I'm Waiting For The Man', 'Femme Fatale', 'Venus In Furs', 'All Tomorrow's Parties', 'Heroin', 'The Black Angel's Death Song', 'Sister Ray', 'What Goes On?', 'Jesus', 'Pale Blue Eyes', 'Some Kinda Love', 'Beginning To See The Light', 'I'm Set Free', 'Sweet Jane', 'Rock & Roll', 'New Age', 'Temptation Inside My Heart', 'Ocean', 'I Can't Stand It', 'Foggy Notion', 'We're Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together'. The glam, punk and indie movements of the 1970s, 80s and 90s were all indebted to a greater or lesser degree to VU and Lou, whose songs were covered by the likes of REM, Bowie, Mott The HoopleNirvana, Patti Smith, Bryan Ferry, james, Edywn Collins, Joy Division, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Echo & The BunnymenThe Blue Aeroplanes and countless others. Brian Eno - another musician upon whom The Velvets were a massive influence - once summed up their legacy: 'The first Velvet Underground album only sold ten thousand copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.' After quitting The Velvet Underground in 1970, Reed released his self-titled début in 1972, but it wasn't until the Bowie-produced LP Transformer later that year that he achieved chart success. Which he maintained for a year via the live LP Rock 'N' Roll Animal before, in typical Lou style, he virtually overnight decarded the majority of his new audience when he released Metal Machine Music in 1974, a double-LP containing an hour of noise and feedback. His commerical standing didn't recover for two decades. Then, 'Perfect Day' enjoyed a revival in 1996 when it was featured in Danny Boyle's Trainspotting and again a year later when it was re-recorded by a celebrity cast for a BBC charity single. As a solo artist, Lou released twenty studio LP (some of them, like Street Hassle, New York and The Raven really very good indeed). Lou is survived by his second wife, the musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson.
We end today with a properly wonderful Lou-related story - probably apocryphal - about the time when 'Walk on the Wild Side' was released as a single in Britain and was starting to get close to making the charts. The story goes that the fearsome, middle-aged female producer who used to put together the playlist at BBC Radio 1 rather liked the song - she always wanted a mixture of fast and slow songs to play during the day - but asked one of the Americans working at the BBC (so, that'd be either Emperor Rosko or Paul Gambaccini, probably) what the phrase 'giving head' meant since it sounded dirty to her. He assured her that it was an American slang term meaning 'going down in the world.' Which, I suppose, technically is true!
For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's one of Lou's most perfect creations. Lor Reed is dead, dear blog readers but, in the words of another of his most beautifully haunting songs, his memory will 'linger on.'


Mark said...

Oof to the Girls with Guns piccie! I've actually been running a thread over at my blog to pay tribute to the very same thing for the past year now. Would you mind awfully dear chap if I appropriated that very photo for a post- with due reference to yourself and this blog of course?

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping said...

Absolutely. Mind, I just found it on Google images so, I don't think any credit is due, really!

Mick Snowden said...

Truffaut once said that all he needed to make a great movie was a sexy girl and a gun. Of course, when you realise that there is no mention of cameras, lights, sound ops etc, then it takes on a slightly sinister air....