Friday, November 22, 2013

An Adventure In Space And Time: 'Have You Ever Thought What It's Like To Be Wanderers In The Fourth Dimension?'

'You can't rewrite history. Not one line.' The Doctor's advice to Barbara Wright in episode two of The Aztecs in 1964 found an innovative new use forty nine years later as the introduction to ninety minute of twenty four carat fan-orgasm. And if that description appears to find yer actual Keith Telly Topping in danger of damning An Adventure In Space And Time with faint praise (or, indeed, describing it as anything less than an unqualified triumph for all concerned) then this blogger apologises for its use, dear blog reader. But, to be honest, in this particular context it is not only entirely appropriate but, actually, entirely necessary.
Yer actual Mark Gatiss his very self has described his biopic drama An Adventure In Space And Time as 'a love letter to Doctor Who' and that's, pretty much, a perfect summation of what we got in the much-anticipated BBC2 drama which was broadcast on Thursday evening. The story of how a bunch of mavericks, untried newcomers and, in the words of one disgruntled BBC technician, 'freaks', brought an unlikely format to the screens, overcame many initial difficulties and, yet within just a few weeks of its first episode going out, had a wholly unexpected phenomena on their hands has always been crying out for such a treatment as this. It was, as the Torygraph's reviewer noted, 'essentially a triumph of four outsiders.'
'I'm trying to re-create The Stone Age with Airfix glue and Bacofoil!' An adventure - in more senses than one - Mark's script was a truly joyous mixture of in-jokes (Doctor Who and others. The Army Game one was especially funny), historical references, cheek, poignancy, emotion, humour and with a satisfying slice of artistic licence thrown in. But, it was all carried out with such a flourish that even the most stone-faced naysayer will, surely, have had their ice-cold hearts melted to slush by it. (Although, one imagines a few of The Usual Suspects will still have found something to whinge about.) It was a thing, dear blog reader, of beauty. Of considerable love and affection. Like Mad Men or The Hour, this was a historical TV drama set in a workplace environment although, clearly, it shared far more in common with BBC4's recent collection of superb biopic dramas about the TV industry itself; The Curse of Steptoe, Most Sincerely and, especially, The Road To Coronation Street. A loving recreation of an oft told story of how, just for one brief moment in 1963, all the stars aligned and something truly magical and earth-shattering was born. But, enough about this blogger (also fifty years old this very year, dear blog reader), let's get ourselves back to 1963. It was a quite good year, as years go. Sex began then according to Philip Larkin. The Be-Atles were in the charts and everything. (They, in case you were wondering, were 'a popular beat combo of the era', dear - young - blog reader.)
The period detail and clever nods towards a known past, the legendary stories of which we've all grown up with, were carried off with considerable aplomb. It was also quite a brave piece in that, whilst it didn't stray too far from the expected hagiography, it wasn't afraid to tackle some potentially awkward sacred cows. Bill Hartnell's spiky, fractious and - when the mood took him (which it did now and then) - downright nasty persona was captured in a series of little vignettes between the more kindly portrayal elsewhere in the script. One particularly telling sequence, in a Chinese restaurant, hints at some of Bill's oft-rumoured (though, admittedly never confirmed) less than ideologically sound personality traits. The programme also wasn't shy in tackling the BBC's inherent sexism and racism during the early 1960s (and, its often suffocating bureaucracy), to show how lowly and with how much proper distaste Doctor Who was regarded in many (perhaps most) corners of Auntie throughout the summer and autumn of 1963 when it was in development. Indeed this carried on right up until episode one of The Daleks pulled in ten million viewers in December. At which point, of course, everybody loved it.
In this week of all weeks, it's possibly worth remembering just how much of an outsider Sydney Newman was when he arrived at the BBC, headhunted from ATV where he'd created The Avengers and overseen the success of the Pathfinders family SF drama serials. In his book Days of Vision (Methuen Press, 1990), the BBC drama producer Don Taylor (1931-2003) wrote, snootily, about how Newman was regarded by many within the department that he'd come to head (including Taylor himself) as 'a maker of tabloid television.' A populist charlatan, no less. In other words, somebody who made programmes generally disliked by middle-class Communist Gruniad Morning Star readers in Hemel Hempstead but devoured, eagerly, by 'poor people on council estates.' Taylor, who had worked regularly with David Mercer on his ground-breaking Generations plays, regarded Newman as an uncultured populist bore with no theatrical knowledge or background; Taylor himself - like many working in BBC Drama at the time - felt that the BBC should be the 'National Theatre of the Air.' Dull, but worthy, in other words, and with an audience of, like eight. In his book, Taylor alleges that Newman offered him the producership of Doctor Who at a very early stage in its development - an offer which Taylor turned down. He notes in Days of Vision that he subsequently considered this to have been 'an opportunity missed.' Although he did go on to note that, had he taken the job, the show which he would've produced was unlikely to have become the national treasure it did and would now, likely, be regarded as an odd (if perhaps fondly remembered) little curio which ran for a couple of series in the early 1960s and was then replaced by something more serious. More worthy. More dull.
A brash, colourful, occasionally mad-as-a-box-of-frogs Canadian auteur, Newman was regraded with suspicion and disdain by many within the BBC establishment. This is captured well in An Adventure In Space And Time and, via Brian Cox's playful, nuanced performance, which gives viewers an insight into what a genuinely inspirational (if, sometimes, a bit scary) man Syndey was to work for. Of course, aside from creating Doctor Who (and The Avengers and, later, Adam Adamant Lives!) probably Newman's single greatest gift to British television was his mentoring and championing of Verity Lambert, his production assistant at ATV whom he brought to the BBC with him to become Doctor Who's first producer. At the time she was the youngest producer on British TV (just twenty seven years old) and the only woman producer at the Beeb. Of course, by the time of her death in 2007, she had become one of the most powerful, influential and successful women TV executives in the history of the medium.
In An Adventure, in the capable hands of Call The Midwife's Jessica Raine, Verity is portrayed as a winningly affectionate combination of Roedean charm, ballsy front and, in Newman's memorably terse opinion, someone 'full of piss and vinegar' her youthful energy necessary to get such a project off the ground. Her oddly touching relationships with Newman, with David Bradley's William Hartnell (and, indeed, with another of her mentors, the show's Associate Producer and 'technical boffin' Mervyn Pinfield, played here by Drop The Dead Donkey's Jeff Rawle) is central to the entire piece. Frustrated by the industry's - very obvious - glass ceiling, she notes at one point, in relation to the BBC's Boys Club: 'It's a sea of fag smoke, tweed and sweaty men.' Furthering Doctor Who's credentials as something of a ground-breaker, the director of some of Doctor Who's early episodes was the Indian-born Waris Hussein. Lambert wittily calls their double act 'the posh wog and the pushy Jewish bird,' as evidence of just how outside the norm the people running this new circus were perceived to be by The Old White Men of the Beeb. Verity was determined that Doctor Who would be different, that it would make its mark and that her main character should be an older man who would be 'CS Lewis, meets HG Wells, meets Father Christmas.'
Again, Gatiss wasn't scared to play around in areas that other writers may have left well alone - addressing and dismissing the (almost certainly untrue, but nevertheless long-standing) rumour that Verity only got the job in the first place because she was having an affair with Newman. Crap in 1963 and crap now but, it was, allegedly, 'common currency' around the BBC at the time. But, as good as Raine was - and she was terrific - the star of An Adventure In Space And Time, ultimately, was Bradley. A truly fabulous actor playing a flawed and complicated man; Hartnell was actor of impressive talent, prone to insecurity and outbursts of irrational anger and fits of stroppy depression. A complex, sometimes difficult, but often lovable old veteran in the twilight of a career mostly spent playing bullies, Sergeant-Major-types and gangsters. Who, at the age of fifty five when his wife wanted him to cuts down on the fags and the booze and start thinking about slowing down, was given the role of a lifetime. And sank himself into it to such a degree that, at times, it was difficult to know where Bill Hartnell ended and The Doctor began.
Ultimately, a recurring line in the story, became its most important message, that 'no-one is irreplaceable.' First Hussein and then Lambert moved onto pastures new. Hartnell's physical decline was tenderly portrayed but prompted Newman to hit upon the idea of The Doctor (as well as the show) 'regenerating'. In a touching final scene, Hartnell sobbed, 'I don't want to go!' - a deliberate echoing of David Tennant's farewell scene in the series some forty four years later.
Wonderfully written and beautifully realised, this period piece crackled with the affection of a true fan like yer man Gatiss. Touched with magnificence, class radiated from the screen and bathed the viewer in a warm and nostalgia glow as though someone has sprinkled a bit of fairy dust all over it. There were numerous blink-and-you'll-miss-'em cameos from former Doctor Who actors like William Russell, Carole Ann Ford, Anneke Wills, Jean Marsh and Mark Eden. And a lovely little turn from Doctor Who writer Toby Hadoke as the (probably racist) barman in the BBC bar. The final cherry on the cake being, in the final scene, a cameo from the current Doctor, yer actual Matt Smith.
An acknowledgement, obviously, that fifty years after it began, despite the best efforts of some and the haughty disdain of others - for the time being, at least - a world without Doctor Who is, genuinely, unthinkable. Of course, there will be those who will whinge about certain aspects of the production - the odd anachronism or an event taking place out of chronological order (although this blogger considers himself a reasonably knowledgeable chap when it comes to Doctor Who history and I spotted only one - Verity Lambert's departure appearing to come slightly earlier than in reality, during the making of The Web Planet when, actually, it was a good six months and half-a-series later).
There will be those who may well complain that, for instance, Waris Hussein's role in the show was a touch over-played (he did, after all, direct a mere ten episodes of the series) whilst some of those people whose contributions to Doctor Who were, perhaps, more long-lasting, were barely mentioned or ignored entirely. Delia Derbyshire, for example, got exactly thirteen seconds of screen-time; Ron Grainer and Terry Nation were both mentioned once; David Whitaker and Ray Cusick didn't even get that much. But, that sort of nonsense is churlish and spiteful (something which hasn't stopped one family member of another important early figure whinging to anyone that will listen - and, indeed, anyone that won't - about the gross 'insult' to the memory of his late relative that he didn't warrant inclusion). There was compression, of course, that was inevitable. And, some events which one would like to have seen addressed were either skipped over (the notoriously difficult relationship between Bill and Verity's successor, John Wiles, for example) and some were given just a passing nod (Hartnell's reported dissatisfaction with the way the show was changing during 1965 and 1966). And, I'm sure we'd all loved to have spent a bit more time with Bill's successor, Pat Troughton (a terrific cameo by Reece Shearsmith: 'I told them there was only one man in England who can take over,' Hartnell tells him. 'Oh. Couldn't they get him?!' replies Patrick with a cheeky charm which we would all grow to know and love over the next three years). But, in the end, what we got was enough. More than enough.
Where An Adventure In Space And Time worked best was, not only as a towering nostalgia-fest for those of us who would smile, knowingly, when finding ourselves on the set of The Reign Of Terror or The Massacre or The Tenth Planet, but also for those less familiar with the minutiae of the show but who could nevertheless, laugh at the chap playing The Cyberman moaning about Mister Hartnell's diva-like behaviour on his final episode in the role that he loved. 'I wish he'd get a move-on, some of us have got a bloody planet to invade!'
Mark Gatiss has revealed why he chose to include the surprise Matt Smith appearance in An Adventure In Space And Time. Smudger, the current Doctor, made a wordless cameo in the final moments of the biopic, which charted the creation and early years of the popular long-running BBC family SF drama. In one of the ninety-minute drama's final scenes, Smith appears in the TARDIS control room opposite actor David Bradley. 'It's one of the things I had in my head for a long time,' Mark explained. 'There were certain parts of this that I've been thinking about for years. I always knew I wanted to start it on the day of the regeneration, then use the TARDIS as a flashback device - because you can't get a better one - and then come back when Patrick Troughton takes over. But then I had this idea - wouldn't it be wonderful if Bill looks across the console and sees Matt as The Doctor?' Smudger's scene was about honouring William Hartnell's 'legacy', the writer added. 'He literally looks into the future - "I'm still here, fifty years later" - that's what it's all about.'
BBC2 broadcast a mini-documentary about the life of William Hartnell immediately after An Adventure In Space And Time. The five-minute film William Hartnell: The Original explored what happened to the actor after he left his role as The Doctor in 1966. The documentary - not previously included in Thursday night's TV listings - was shown at 10.25pm, following the Mark Gatiss-penned drama. William Hartnell: The Original featured rare archive footage and brand new interviews with Hartnell's Doctor Who co-stars, including Carole Ann Ford and Peter Purves. Matt Smith, Peter Davison, Terrance Dicks, Hartnell's granddaughter Jessica Carney and Waris Hussein also featured.
The BBC have revealed that a new Red Button video will be broadcast this coming Saturday evening: The Five Doctors will be available from Saturday 23 November at 10:05pm and lasts thirty minutes. A star-studded special written and directed by Peter Davison, with the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who about to film, the so-called 'Classic' Doctors (well, the ones that are still alive, anyway) are, of course, keen to be involved. But do they manage it? Peter, Sylvester McCoy and Colin Baker (the crap one) were spotted filming a 'protest' outside BBC Television Centre during the summer, sporting signs such as 'No Classics? No Fiftieth!' and 'Have A Heart. Classic Doctors Want A Part.' Other names associated with the spoof drama include Sean Pertwee, who tweeted an apparent call sheet with his, Paul McGann and Olivia Colman's names listed.
The first pictures of Smudger and Big Dave from their appearance of this week's The Graham Norton Show have been released. They seem to be having a good time!
BBC2's The Daily Politics on Thursday featured a discussion of politics in Doctor Who with guests Doctor Matthew Ashton from Nottingham Trent University and MP Tom Harris, a contributor to Behind The Sofa: Celebrity Memories of Doctor Who.

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat was a guest on The Richard Bacon Showon 5Live during Thursday afternoon, chatting about Doctor Who reaching fifty, the casting of Peter Capaldi, and fielding - usually inane - questions from listeners. The Moff then popped up on The Phil Trow Show on BBC Radio Manchester, talking about making The Day Of The Doctor, how he handles spoilers and being asked by - alleged - 'super-fan' Brian Gorman (no, me neither) about how Peter Capaldi will play the role. 'Like an actor', one hopes.
The BBC have released an new introduction to The Day Of The Doctor online.
The Beeb have also confirmed that those British viewers who were charged for downloading the minisode The Last Day, on iTunes, will receive a full refund. The mini-episode was initially available for free in the US but at a cost of £2.49 in the UK. No one knows why. Yesterday the BBC confirmed that this was 'an error' on the part of iTunes in the UK and that the minisode should have been free. The human who err'd has, reportedly, been locked in a room with Timelash and The Twin Dilemma and Paradise Towers on permanent loop until he says that he's very sorry and promises never to do it again. The BBC told Radio 4's You and Yours that anyone who had been charged would receive a refund. The Last Day is now available to watch free of charge here.

According to the editor, the lovely Tom Spilsbury, after one week of sales, the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine - number four hundred and sixty seven - is, officially, the biggest selling issue of the title for over thirty years. 'I am flabbergasted' notes Tom.
An Adventure In Space And Time, incidentally, pulled in a more than respectable 2.2 million overnight viewers on BBC2 on Thursday evening. Elsewhere, I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) continued its ratings domination. The ITV reality show dipped by around two hundred thousand punters from Wednesday to 9.26 million at 9pm. Earlier, Britain's Secret Treasures interested 2.60m at 8.30pm. MasterChef: The Professionals continued with 3.21m on BBC2 at 8pm. On BBC1, Animal Odd Couples was watched by 4.88m for its first episode at 8pm. Britain's Secret Terror Force brought in 2.16m at 9pm. Channel Four's Amazing Spaces was seen by 1.36m at 8pm. Bedlam's latest episode was watched by eight hundred and forty thousand at 9pm, while Bouncers gathered 1.10m at 10pm. On Channel Five, documentary Children Of The Master Race interested seven hundred and twelve thousand at 9pm. BBC4, if you will, exterminated the opposition on multi-channels with its late-night repeats of Doctor Who's first four-part adventure, An Unearthly Child. It picked up six hundred and seven thousand viewers for its first part between 10.30pm and 10.55pm, followed by five hundred and eighty six thousand, four hundred and twelve thousand and three hundred and fifty five thousand for episodes two, three and four.

I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) continued with high ratings on Wednesday, according to overnight figures. The ITV reality series returned after a day away, dropping by around eight hundred thousand viewers to 9.46 million at 9pm. Earlier, Ben Shephard and Julia Bradbury's new show Mystery Map opened with 3.89m at 8pm. On BBC 1, Nigel Slater and Adam Henson's new series Farm Kitchen was watched by 4.59m at 8pm. A repeat of New Tricks brought in 3.26m at 9pm. BBC2's MasterChef: The Professionals continued with 2.96m at 8pm, followed by Tudor Monastery Farm with 1.61m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Location, Location, Location interested 1.26m at 8pm, while Twenty Four Hours in A&E had an audience of to 1.44m at 9pm. Gogglebox was watched by 1.18m at 10pm. Channel Five's Animal Clinic attracted nine hundred and twelve thousand punters at 8pm. Nazi Quest For The Holy Grail was watched by eight hundred and sixty thousand at 9pm.

The vile and odious rascal Miller, the lack of culture secretary, has dismissed attacks on the BBC by two of her vile and odious Tory cabinet colleagues, saying complaints about the broadcaster's licence fee and effect on local newspapers are a 'distraction'. In an interview with the House magazine, the vile and odious rascal Miller said that the BBC needed to 'get its house in order' following a series of scandals such as the Jimmy Savile fiasco, the McAlpine libel case and pay-offs to executives. But, while she said the BBC needed to reform its governance, the vile and odious rascal Miller said it was 'an extremely good institution' and called on people to stop 'fogging the issue with other noises off.' Her comments came after the vile and odious rascal May, the home secretary, warned the BBC that the 'might' of its online news operation was undermining local newspapers and called on it to 'think carefully about its presence locally and the impact that has on local democracy.' As though that issue has anything to do with her and her ministerial brief. The vile and odious rascal Miller said that this was an example of a 'distraction away from the main issue, which is getting governance in place. When it comes to the BBC, we already have a public value test which I think back in 2009 looked at local news provision and has already had an impact on the way that the BBC is dealing with this. Clearly the BBC keep these things under review.' She also addressed the issue of the licence fee in a similar way, after the vile and odious rascal Shapps, the Tory party chairman, suggested the BBC 'could' face a cut in its payments or have to share it with other broadcasters unless it 'rebuilt public trust' and 'became more transparent.' This was widely seem sat the time as a not particularly subtle threat to the BBC to leave the Tories alone in the run up to the next election or, they'd suffer the consequences. The vile and odious rascal Miller said: 'The immediate priority is that the BBC gets its house in order. Obviously the charter review is in 2016 and all of these other issues I'm sure will be part of that. But we should not distract away from the most important thing at the moment and we should not let other things get in the way.' The lack of culture secretary said she would have hoped the root and branch review of the BBC's governance could be completed more quickly but she was glad it was being 'taken seriously.'

The surviving members of Monty Python's Flying Circus have announced that their reunion will be a live, one-off stage show in London next July. At a press conference, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones said they wanted to see if they were 'still funny.' Idle - who will direct the production - said the audience should expect 'comedy, pathos, music and a tiny piece of ancient sex.' Sounds good. The stage show will be their first new project for over fifteen years. It is more than thirty years since the Pythons last performed together at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles in September 1980, and forty years since they last performed on stage in the UK. In a press release issued ahead of the conference, the quintet promised to perform 'some of Monty Python's greatest hits, with modern, topical, Pythonesque twists.' Warwick Davis, who recently starred in the Monty Python-inspired musical Spamalot, introduced the 'five legends' at the London's Playhouse theatre, claiming the venue for the reunion had been decided after a series of bids. Opening a series of gold envelopes, he claimed the winner was first, 'Qatar', then 'Meryl Streep'. Heh! Very good. Finally, he announced that the show would take place in London at the O2 Arena on the 1 July, with tickets going on sale on 25 November. The top price for tickets will be ninety five notes and the lowest will be £26.50 - 'only three hundred pound cheaper than The Stones', noted Idle. Cleese said that they would almost certainly include some popular sketches, but reiterated that there would also be 'some new material.' 'People do really want to see the old hits but we don't want to do them in a predictable way,' he added. 'The main danger we have is that the audience know the scripts better than we do.' Idle said they would also include some material which had never previously been performed live. He said it would be 'a big show' likening it to 'a huge musical', with input from choreographer and long-term collaborator Arlene Phillips. He added that the event would be released on DVD: 'We'll be filming it and we'll try to flog it later.' 'It's more than just a performance - people enjoy the experience of performing with us,' said Cleese. The seventy four-year-old said 'at first' the show would be 'a one and only' but refused to rule out further performances. 'The problem is getting us all together in one room,' he added, citing Gilliam's multiple film commitments. When they did eventually get together, Palin said that the five of them 'still enjoy getting together to be very silly', adding that it was easier to do 'now they are in their seventies.' 'Silliness is always funny,' added Jones. 'After you turn seventy, you can be absolutely shameless,' echoed Gilliam. News of the reunion had leaked in the press earlier this week, with Jones telling the BBC he was 'quite excited. I hope it makes us a lot of money,' he said on Tuesday. 'I hope to be able to pay off my mortgage.' The last time the five remaining members of the comedy group appeared together in public was in 2009 at their fortieth anniversary celebrations in New York. The sixth member, Graham Chapman, sadly died in 1989.

The BBC has apologised after giving the wrong answer to a question on University Challenge. A team from Cambridge University's Clare College were asked to name the Czech composer of an excerpt of music. They wrongly guessed Smetana, but host Jeremy Paxman told them the correct answer was Dvorak. Music experts later pointed out the clip was actually a Gregorian plainchant - a form of medieval church music - and not the work of Dvorak. Helen Garrison, a senior producer for the BBC Singers and Radio 3 and, clearly, The Big-Brained Expert On All Things, tweeted, angrily: 'Appalled at the ignorance of question on University Challenge."' Ooh, get her! Despite the error, Clare College still went onto beat Christ Church, Oxford in a tie-break and claim a place in the University Challenge quarter-finals. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'On this week's programme we played an excerpt from Dvorak's Requiem. We used several music sources which indicated that the entire piece was under Dvorak's name. However we were wrong in this instance and the excerpt we played from this requiem was not composed by Dvorak himself. We apologise to both teams and viewers and are grateful to those who pointed this out. Fortunately this error has not changed the outcome of the programme.'
The Scum of the World's royal editor warned colleagues 'We could all end up in jail' if payments to police officers were traced, the Old Bailey has heard. Clive Goodman wrote the warning in an e-mail to the PA of managing editor Stuart Kuttner, the prosecution says. Two recipients were 'in uniform' but Goodman claimed they were 'untraceable', the jury heard. Goodman denies conspiracy to commit misconduct, while Kuttner denies phone-hacking charges. The jury was also shown e-mails apparently exchanged between former Scum of the World editor Andy Coulson and news editor Ian Edmondson. They dated from 2006, when the paper was working on a story about a glamour model who alleged that her unborn child was the result of an affair with Calum Best, the son of the late footballer George Best. In the e-mails shown to the jury, Coulson and Edmondson seem concerned that the 'exclusive' story might be leaked by Best before they were ready to publish. One apparently showed Coulson giving Edmondson the instruction to 'Do [Best's] phone.' Earlier, the jury was told that in an e-mail exchange with his PA, Beverley Stokes, in July 2005, Goodman was told Kuttner wanted to talk to him about cash payments to a contributor. In reply, Goodman said that he had written to Kuttner saying there were 'only three sources' he paid in cash and quoted the e-mail he had written to him. 'Two are in uniform and we - them, you, me, the editor would all end up in jail if anyone traced their payments - and they've had Special Branch crawling all over them since we ran a five-paragraph story about an Operation Trident arrest at Clarence House. Thanks to the way we pay them, they're untraceable. The third is an executive at another newspaper who is also taking on potentially life-altering risks for us and will not accept any other form of payment,' he wrote. The jury was also shown evidence that payments made by the disgraced and disgraceful tabloid to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were authorised by Kuttner's office. Mulcaire has already extremely admitted to hacking phones. Goodman referred, in one message of April 2006 to Stokes, to payments that needed to be made to 'Mister Alexander' - an apparent codename for Mulcaire. He told Stokes that Alexander was 'the most important in terms of the contact' and he was hoping to get a story about Prince Harry from him. The e-mail read: 'I'm relying heavily on him to work his magic over Harry's passing-out party.' When reassured by Stokes that the payments were going to be made, Goodman told the PA: 'Fantastic. I won't be found in the Thames wearing concrete wellies tonight.' On Wednesday, the jury were shown a series of documents relating to former news editor Edmondson, including an e-mail from Coulson to all staff announcing Edmondson's appointment. However, the jury were also shown Edmondson's dismissal letter when he was sacked for gross misconduct in January 2011. It cites the reason for his dismissal as, 'complicity in illegal interception of voicemail messages whilst working as Assistant Editor (News) at the News of the World.'

A senior News International executive working alongside well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks reportedly told her husband, the millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks, that she would be 'protected from attacks' by MPs over the phone-hacking allegations, the Old Bailey has heard. E-mails, allegedly found on an Apple computer at the London address of well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and her husband, included one from Will Lewis as the Scum of the World faced fresh allegations from Labour MP Chris Bryant over hacking claims in March 2011. One of the questions posed by Bryant was whether alleged phone-hacking had begun under the editorship of well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks (then known as Rebekah Wade), the jury was told. In 2011 well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was chief executive of the Scum of the World publisher News International. On 11 March 2011 well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks's husband, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie, e-mailed Lewis asking: 'Is Rebekah okay? Bryant point one seemed pretty aggressive.' Lewis, a senior News International executive, replied: 'Charlie. She's okay. We were working flat out on other things with Rupert all day yesterday so it didn't really have an effect. She was knackered by close of play as jet lag did for her. Hopefully had a better sleep last night. More generally Bryant is clearly making stuff up. There was a concerted effort by him and some other MPs and Panorama this Monday to push the start of the saga back before 2005 in order to target Rebekah. We will not let this happen. Panorama has already been hit by two legal letters.' Of course, as we now know, phone-hacking was taking place at the Scum of the World far earlier than 2005. Millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks responded: 'Thanks Will. Was worried. I am glad she has you alongside her.' Another e-mail exchange, allegedly found on the same computer and shown to the jury, began with Tory MP Philip Dunne e-mailing a news story about the Milly Dowler hacking allegations on 4 July 2011 to millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks. He then forwarded it to Lewis, with the message: 'I have the Friends DVD. Is the below a problem for Rebekah?' Lewis replied: 'Another attempted hit on Rebekah by [Tom] Watson. Far from ideal and the Dowler family quotes are bad. We are on the back foot as we are blind on the Mulcaire documents.' The allegation was that the murdered schoolgirl's phone had been hacked. There was no evidence of another allegation made at the time that her messages had been deleted, the jury were reminded. In the early hours of 5 July 2011, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was working on a draft of a public statement she was to make, attaching it in an e-mail to her husband at 3.52am with the message: 'I think this needs work, darling,' the court heard. She e-mailed a finished version to him later in the day, writing in the subject field: 'think Swan baby.' The statement, which was sent to staff, described the Milly Dowler allegations as 'almost too horrific to believe.' It added: 'I hope you all realise it is inconceivable that I knew or worse sanctioned this appalling behaviour.' In an earlier e-mail chain, found on the same computer and dated 7 April 2011, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and Lewis discussed a draft statement relating to the launch of a compensation scheme and civil litigation claims against the company over hacking allegations. Lewis e-mailed well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks: 'I don't think we should use the "rogue reporter" phrase in the statement?' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks responded: 'Send it to me please.' The finished version did not contain the phrase, the court heard. The jury were also shown documents relating to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks's response following the 2007 trial of the newspaper's former royal editor Clive Goodman and the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. To one request, from the Press Complaints Commission, to detail procedures in place in March 2007, when she was editor of the Sun, she wrote that the paper 'deplores' the type of 'snooping' revealed by the Goodman case. It added that staff breaking the law would be in breach of contract and could face instant dismissal. On cash payments, she claimed that no payments were made without being referred for authorisation to the editor, or editor of the day. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, the prime minister's former, if you will, c'hum' Andy Coulson (another former Scum of the World editor), Stuart Kuttner (the paper's former managing editor) and Ian Edmondson (its former head of news), all deny conspiracy to intercept mobile phone voicemail messages. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, Coulson and Goodman, all deny conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, her husband millionaire Old Etonian Charlie, her former PA Cheryl Carter, and the News International head of security, Mark Hanna, all deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The trail continues.

The so-called 'Broad ban' initiated by the Brisbane Courier-Mail somewhat blew up in the newspaper's face on the first day of the 2013-14 Ashes series. By taking five Australian wickets on the opening day, Stuart Broad made it pretty much impossible for the paper to stick to its ridiculous pledge not to mention his name. And we thought our tabloids were the worst the world has to offer, dear blog reader. Just goes to show. 'The Courier-Mail newspaper will not use Stuart Broad's name in our reports of the first test,' claimed the paper on Wednesday. 'We plan to give the twenty seven-year-old English medium pace bowler the silent treatment, just to mess with his head.' Interesting plan. But the bowler's five wickets on the first day, instead, clearly messed with the editor's head because the paper's website reported early on Thursday morning: 'Stuart Broad has hit back at the boo boys in the best way possible, claiming a five-wicket haul to propel England into a strong position on day one of the first Ashes test at The Gabba.' The Courier-Mail's initiative was certainly unpopular with many of those who commented on its site. The overwhelming majority were critical of the paper's actions. Comments ranged from 'puerile' and 'embarrassing' to 'you guys are the Sun newspaper of Australia.' Well, the owner of the Courier-Mail is, of course, billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch.Typically for English cricket, that 'strong position' didn't last very long. What is it with first innings and England? Are we ever going to get to two hundred again in this blogger's lifetime?

England football fans have had a pretty miserable couple of weeks after two defeats at Wembley – on the other side of the Channel, however, things are far more upbeat, reports the Daily Torygraph. Not only were France supporters celebrating their team overturning a 2-0 deficit to win their World Cup play-off against Ukraine, but as a bonus, two TV presenters came good on promises they made should Les Bleus make it to Brazil. Canal+ presenter Antoine de Caunes had to do his show in English, which seems an odd choice of forfeit. But he was totally upstaged by Doria Tillier, who presents the weather on his programme, after she honoured a pledge to do her segment naked. One hundred and fifty thousand people signed a up to a Facebook page asking for her to keep her word and she didn't let them down. Presenting the weather in the village of Poil (à poil being French for 'naked'), Tillier then streaked across a field while being filmed. By a camera on a hill quite some distance away.
Thursday night's Record Player was fantastic, dear blog reader. That is all. Well, actually, no it isn't - The Banshees won the popular vote (and not by a little bit either), yer actual KTT his very self and his mate Christian (again) won the quiz (some top prizes an'all) and Keith Telly Topping also - importantly - won the race to get to the bus stop for the twenty five to ten number twelve meaning that he was back in Stately Telly Topping Manor in time to see the last half of An Adventure In Space And Time. Which was nice. (Don't worry, his recording device worked. Hence the review, above.)

So, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, have some more Buzzcocks.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Beautiful review of a beautiful piece of drama Keith. Bravo! Incidentally re that brief moment with Shearsmith meeting Bradley, I genuinely felt like I was witnessing the end of an era and the start of something new and strange just there in those fleeting minutes, the closest I think I'll ever get to feeling something like those viewers felt back in 66, and that Gatiss managed that after just what 80 mins of drama, is truly remarkable.