Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It's Wrong To Wish On Space Hardware

BBC1 programme introductions may be subject to interruptions by The Doctor, as witnessed on Saturday evening on the channel when he popped up before Strictly Come Dancing. The BBC have now made a clean version of that ident available to watch.
A 'world exclusive' clip from the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary episode will shown during the BBC's Children In Need night. The scene from the much-anticipated episode The Day Of The Doctor will be shown as part of the televised fundraising event on 15 November.
Colin Baker has become the latest former Doctor Who actor to go public and whinge about his non-appearance in the fiftieth anniversary episode claiming that former 'stars' of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama were 'deemed unworthy of inclusion' in The Day Of The Doctor. Which, in his particular case is probably true since he was absolutely wretched in the part. The sixth and worst Doctor by about a million country miles and no mistake.
And now, today's other completely wacko Doctor Who silly season story. The BBC is being 'challenged' over the ownership of the copyright of the TARDIS, by the son of the author of the first Doctor Who story, Anthony Coburn. Stef Coburn is claiming that his father 'created' the TARDIS. He claims that he 'remembers' his father getting the inspiration for the TARDIS during a walk on Wimbledon common. Coburn believes that the BBC is failing to give his father 'the public recognition that should, by rights, always have been his due' for 'inventing' the TARDIS. Australian-born Tony Coburn was a staff writer working at the BBC when he was commissioned to produce four scripts for the proposed new family SF drama in the late summer of 1963 (the pilot episode, plus three subsequent episodes which together are collectively known as An Unearthly Child). Coburn inherited a concept for the show which had been initially devised by the BBC's head of drama, Sydney Newman and then worked on further - over several months during the spring and summer of 1963 - by others within the BBC drama department, most notably the script writer Cecil Edwin Webber, the show's first producer, yer actual Verity Lambert and its script editor, David Whitaker. Webber's treatment - written during either April or May 1963 - defined much of the structure of the programme. In the original document The Doctor's 'machine' exterior is described as something 'humdrum ... such as a night-watchman's shelter.' There's a very series of very good articles at the excellent Doctor Who News website on the background to all this; see, for instance here and here. Stef Coburn's case - which would seem to be legally, about as watertight at that bloke a couple of years ago who claimed that he, rather than Terry Nation, had 'created' Davros - is that any 'informal permission' his father gave the BBC to use his work expired with his death in 1977 and the copyright of all of his ideas then passed to his widow, Joan. Coburn - who is clearly not a money-grabbing chancer of quite obscene proportions or anything like that, oh no, very hot water - told the Independent: 'It is by no means my wish to deprive legions of Doctor Who fans (of whom I was never one) of any aspect of their favourite children's programme. The only ends I wish to accomplish, by whatever lawful means present themselves, involve bringing about the public recognition that should by rights always have been his due, of my father James Anthony Coburn's seminal contribution to Doctor Who, and proper lawful recompense to his surviving estate.' Or, in other words, himself. Coburn has reportedly 'demanded' that the corporation either stop using the TARDIS in Doctor Who, or pay him loads of lovely wonga for its every use since his father's death. Neither of which the BBC are going to do, of course, or anything even remotely like it no matter what his lawyers may tell him to the contrary. The BBC says that it is 'looking into' the claim. One imagines that won't take them very long. But, they note, there have been no legal challenges to their copyright since they registered the TARDIS as a copyrighted trademark in the 1980s. Which isn't, quite, accurate as there has been one, though that was thrown out of court - see below. Coburn claims that he would have taken action earlier had he owned the rights. But, he didn't. What a shame. This is not the first time the BBC has been involved in an unsuccessful litigation over the TARDIS. In 1998 the London Metropolitan Police argued that it should own the trademark on the blue box, objecting to the BBC's using the image of the TARDIS on comics, T-shirts, videos and other merchandise. The fuzz, who seemed to have a much better case than this chap, nevertheless extremely lost the case, following appeal, in 2002, and was - amusingly - ordered to pay eight hundred and fifty smackers plus legal costs to the BBC. A bit like a small pools win, really.

Jenna Coleman her very self has admitted that she was 'an absolute wreck' after reading Matt Smith's final Doctor Who script. Steven Moffat's 2013 Christmas special - Smudger's last episode with the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama - is 'sad' but 'perfect', Jenna told the Observer. 'I just read the script the other night,' she revealed. 'I'd been putting it off for ages and ages, because once you read the last page, that's it, the story is over. So I read ten pages on the Tube and I stopped, and then I picked it up again the other day and finished it. I was an absolute mess.' Jenna concluded: 'It's good - it's sad, but it's what needs to happen. It's perfect.'
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping would also like to draw your attention, dear blog reader, to a really fabulous interview with Doctor Who model guru Mike Tucker in the Gruniad Morning Star.

And, on a similar note, there's a terrific piece by yer actual Mar Gatiss in the Torygraph on the origins of Doctor Who to tie in with the forthcoming An Adventure In Space And Time.
'There's something rather wonderful about the creation of Doctor Who, something very smoky and Novemberish. I imagine people on buses with wet raincoats, that kind of Britain. And going through it like a typhoon are two young people, Verity Lambert and Waris Hussein, with fantastic ideas, and an older man, William Hartnell, who sort of becomes young by association. There was a New World spirit to it. Sydney Newman, the BBC's head of drama, was a Canadian who had been brought in from ITV where he had created The Avengers. One of his many ideas, because he was a lifelong science-fiction fan, was this teatime serial called Doctor Who. Newman was very much an ideas man. He was very active in shaping a programme, but once he'd got his team together, he just let them get on with it. Although Newman really wanted the show to work, I don't think he would have taken a punt on Lambert, an untried twenty seven-year-old female producer, if Doctor Who had been some kind of great flagship programme. And it'll come as a huge surprise for most people that Hussein, the first director, was a twenty five-year-old Indian. Hussein says himself that he got on to the director's course by the skin of his teeth, by playing up his Englishness. I put a little line in the script where a cameraman leans over and says "Freaks!" because I think to everyone else at the BBC, Hussein and Lambert kind of were ... The first episode did okay, but it was broadcast on 23 November, the day after the Kennedy assassination, so the world was totally traumatised. They had to repeat the first episode before screening the second. But then the Daleks came, in week five. And it went "boom", just like that. There's an entire separate film to be made about the creation of The Daleks, really – how Terry Nation, the scriptwriter, became a millionaire, and Ray Cusick, the BBC staff designer, got a Blue Peter badge and a hundred pounds. That's fascinating, but the biggest challenge for me was paring it down and finding the essence of the drama. Doctor Who ran until 1989, originally, which is quite incredible. Over the years you could feel when the people involved were excited and when they weren't. But everything falls out of favour. Its time came again – when Russell T Davies fronted the 2005 revival – because it needed someone who loved it once to love it again.'

Ripper Street dropped by three hundred thousand overnight viewers for its third episode on Monday, despite a superb performance from Neve MacIntosh as a really pissed-off grown-up version of The Little Match Girl. Kidnap, chopping off men's fingers and horrible disfiguration due to phosphorus necrosis didn't feature in Hans Christian Andersen's story. Which is unusual, since elsewhere he was really into that sort of thing. But, it was proper great to see Neve for once without her Silurian make up. The BBC1 drama was seen by 3.97 million at 9pm. Earlier, Panorama interested 2.75m (at 8.30pm. On BBC2, University Challenge was watched by 2.81m at 8pm, while MasterChef: The Professionals began its second week of rounds with 2.74m braving Monica Galetti's scowling mush at 8.30pm. The Choir held steady for its second episode with 2.62m at 9pm. Never Mind The Buzzcocks failed to attract the controversy of last week's mug-smashing malarkey but still drew 1.21m punters at 10pm. ITV's Tales From Northumberland With Robson Green interested 3.52m at 8pm on the very day that the Daily Scum Mail was revealing that Wor Geet Canny Robson has a new love in his life (besides himself, obviously). A repeat of A Mother's Son brought in 2.64m for its second episode at 9pm. On Channel Four, 999 appealed to 1.72m at 9pm, while Fresh Meat featuring odious, risible, lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall completely failed to amuse eight hundred and forty thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Josie Gibson documentary Got Thin, Got Fat Again attracted 1.10m at 9pm. The latest Under The Dome also brought in 1.10m at 10pm on what was, generally, a better night than usual for Five. On BBC3, coverage of Novak Djokovic's ATP World Tour Finals win scored 1.03m at 7.30pm. BBC4's Only Connect celebrity special gathered just a smidgen under nine hundred thousand at 8.30pm.

Incidentally, speaking of odious, risible, unfunny, wretched, waste-of-space lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall, no doubt, dear blog reader, you will have seen the - numerous - trails the BBC have been running (ad nauseam) for his forthcoming allegedly 'hilarious' BBC3 chat show, Backchat, which he is fronting with his father the - extremely rich - agent Michael Whitehall. If you haven't seen them, dear blog reader, then jolly well done because they're about as funny as catching a dose of shingles. This blogger will not be featuring Backchat as part of Top Telly Tips at any stage during its run. Because, frankly, anyone who even considers taking part in it has surrendered all dignity and worth in their life and deserves nothing but contempt and shame for doing so. And, anyone who watches it needs their sodding head examined. Here endeth the lesson.

Back to the ratings; Strictly Come Dancing rose once again to top Sunday's overnights for BBC1. The celebrity competition climbed by nearly two hundred thousand punters from its last results show to 10.31 million viewers and a forty per cent audience share at 7.15pm to watch Davey Myers' exit. On ITV, The X Factor results show was up by nearly five hundred thousand viewers week-on-week to 8.94m at 8pm. Downton Abbey's fourth series finale was watched by 9.64m at 9pm. Earlier, Surprise, Surprise was watched by 3.79m at 7pm. Later on BBC1, The Paradise held steady at 4.72m at 8pm. Richard Hammond Builds A Universe interested 1.55m at 9pm. On BBC2, Africa 2013 had an audience of 1.90 at 8pm, followed by The Great Continental Railway Journey with 1.56m at 9pm - meaning it out performed BBC1 during that hour. Channel Four's documentary Tutankhamun: The Mystery Of The Burnt Mummy intrigued 1.64m (including yer actual Keith Telly Topping as it happens) at 8pm. Homeland was then watched by 1.73m at 9pm. Channel Five's broadcast of Rush Hour was seen by eight hundred and fifty seven thousand punters at 7pm, while Nicolas Cage's Justice brought in eight hundred and ninety three thousand at 9pm.

Here are the final, consolidated figures for the Top Twenty Two programmes, week-ending 3 November October 2013:-
1 Downton Abbey - Sun ITV - 11.45m
2 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 11.09m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.88m
4 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 9.33m
5 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 8.17m
6 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.68m
7 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 7.86m
8 Ripper Street - Mon BBC1 - 6.45m
9 The Escape Artist - Tues BBC1 - 6.19m
10 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 6.00m
11 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.95m
12 Atlantis - Sat BBC1 - 5.89m
13 The Paradise - Sun BBC1 - 5.50m
14 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 5.15m
15 Agatha Christie's Poirot - Wed ITV - 5.13m*
16 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.07m
17 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.92m
18 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.83m
19 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.78m
20 The Graham Norton Show - Sat BBC1 - 4.39m
21 Match of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 4.27m
ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's top-rated programmes of the week was University Challenge (3.09m), followed by Autumnwatch (3.07m). Grand Designs topped Channel Four's ratings (2.88m). The Saturday night episode of The X Factor was watched by 8.68m on ITV. Strictly's Sunday audience was 10.59m.

Strictly Come Dancing host Tess Daly has 'opened up' (that's tabloidese for 'talked' in case you were wondering) about Natalie Gumede's 'really shocking' collapse during rehearsals for Saturday night's show. The former Coronation Street actress pulled out of this week's show and was given a 'bye' after fainting twice while practising with her partner Artem Chigvintsev. Daly has now 'revealed' that she was sitting 'only a few feet away' from Gumede when she fell - which, given that they're both on the same show shouldn't, really, qualify as 'news' - recalling how Gumede's 'legs twisted the wrong way' and 'her eyes [started] rolling. It was actually really shocking to witness,' she wrote on her blog. 'She was dancing full pelt during an incredibly energetic jive at the time. She literally collapsed in a heap, legs twisted the wrong way under her with her head thrown right back and her eyes rolling. Luckily her professional partner, Artem, was on hand quick as a flash to catch her and break her fall. She was immediately attended by on-set medics. Let's just hope that she's back to full health and on her dancing feet very soon.'

For the latest Examples of things that are, like, totally geet cush, and make the world a better place by their very existence, number twenty five: The legendary 'perspective scene' in Father Ted.
Followed, of course, by Great Daft Moments From TV History. Today, number eighteen: Miranda Hart getting her dress ripped off by a taxi door.
Pat Younge has only a few weeks to go after resigning as the BBC's chief creative officer and so he may, perhaps, be forgiven if he occasionally sounds somewhat semi-detached. But even so, it raised a few eyebrows when, discussing ethnic-minority representation on the BBC on 5Live, he had to be prompted about the name of the school drama that 'moved to Scotland' recently. It's called Waterloo Road, Nicky Campbell reminded him, generously omitting to mention that it's a cornerstone of the BBC1 schedule and runs for thirty episodes a year.

Blackadder could return for another series, according to reports. But, it probably won't. The hit comedy, starring Rowan Atkinson, was first broadcast more than thirty years ago. Now, writer Ben Elton has said: 'Blackadder is not finished.' Elton, who joined as a writer for the second series, told that great fan of his work, the Scum Mail On Sunday's Event magazine: 'We'll never officially close it down, ever.' Blackadder's last episode, which was set in the trenches of the First World War and saw most of the characters go over the top, was broadcast - to huge acclaim - in November 1989. John Lloyd, the show's producer, said: 'It was always the idea that the last episode would be this tragic thing, but I don't think we ever decided that it would be the last series. And I suppose in many ways we still haven't decided.' The producer - and creator of Qi - was reported to have 'held talks' with Atkinson in August. He also spoke about a plan to reunite former cast members for a Blackadder film, saying that the 'Dad's Army-style' script could see a platoon being kidnapped by a German submarine and taken to Colditz where they embark on a plot to escape. With hilarious consequences, no doubt. Earlier this year Richard Curtis, the comedy's co-creator, dismissed suggestions that Blackadder could be revived for a spin-off movie, saying it would be 'too painful' and 'quite unlikely.' The show was brought back, briefly, in 2000 for a one-off short film which was originally shown at The Millennium Dome.

The Midsomer Murders Christmas special will feature a surprise twist, as DCI Barnaby (yer actual Neil Dudgeon) and his wife (Fiona Dolman) discover that they are expecting a baby. Well, she is, anyway. The new arrival was written into the ITV detective series when Dolman discovered that she was pregnant in real life. Her baby, Madeleine, was born in July. 'I didn't think I'd ever have a child so I feel very blessed,' she said. 'I am very happy to bring up the baby on my own as I have incredible support and love from my family. Things might not be perfect but from the moment I held Madeleine in my arms we felt like a team. I've got so much love around me, so I know we're going to be all right. Everyone on Midsomer Murders has been so supportive and lovely. I went back in October to film the fifth episode and Neil was very excited for me.' The new series will also include the arrival of detective Charlie Nelson (Gwilym Lee), who joins the Midsomer patch just in time for a haunted house investigation. Titled The Christmas Haunting, the episode will include an impressive list of guest stars, including Elizabeth Berrington, Les Dennis, Mark Heap, Emily Joyce, James Murray and Hannah Tointon.

If you were one of the six people who watched The Revolution Will Be Televised on BBC3 on Sunday, you'll know that Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubinstein, the 'pranksters' behind the BAFTA-winning but, actually, about as funny as a cup of cold sick 'comedy', managed in their new series' first programme to get close enough to David Cameron to offer him a Bullingdon Club photo album. And, to invade Google's UK HQ in order to 'satirise' the search firm's tax arrangements (posing as in-house trainers, they urged staff to answer phones as 'O'Google' to simulate being in Ireland). But, no actual jokes.

Yer actual Johnny Vegas his very self is 'in talks' over a return to Benidorm. The comic told Jonathan Ross: 'There's talks of the original cast coming back for the next series. It's in talks, I can't confirm anything. It would be lovely to go back. It's one of those shows ... it was one of the few things I did that my mum could watch and enjoy.'
Fay Ripley and Damien Molony will lead the cast of Channel Five's new crime drama Suspects. The thriller - previously titled Evidence - is the broadcaster's first original drama series in eight years. Ripley will play 'witty and warm' Detective Inspector Martha Bellamy in Suspects - which is to be shot in documentary-style, with dialogue improvised by the actors. Being Human's Molony - currently starring in BBC1's Ripper Street - has been cast as Detective Sergeant Jack Weston, 'a man of action' with 'acute emotional intelligence.' Clare-Hope Ashitey will also appear as the 'passionate yet level-headed' Detective Constable Charlotte Steele. Suspects has been co-created by Paul Marquess. The ten-part series focuses on the team of three detectives and their distinctive approaches to the job, with each episode telling a discrete, self-contained story.

Lord Snooty's Downton Abbey been renewed for a fifth series by ITV, just as the current run draws to a close. No surprise there, then.

Sometimes footballers are - unfairly - criticised for apparent pig-shit, bone-thick stupidity and reckless abandon. While on other occasions such criticism appears to be more that a little bit justified. This blogger will leave it up to you, dear blog reader, to make up your own minds on the present case after reading about Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haw's Andre Wisdom who may have not have lived up to his sage-like surname. The Premier League defender was forced to leave his one hundred grand Porsche abandoned in a muddy trough after his satellite navigation system led him through the country roads. Wisdom, the England U21 captain, rather resembled his hapless namesake, Norman, when he was sent through quiet forest roads on Friday night by his car's Sat Nav which left him walking three miles to a main road after his car ended up getting stuck in the mud. He is currently on loan at Derby County and was on his way to their home game with Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend when the incident occurred. A Derby spokesman said: 'Andre visited a local shop on the way to Saturday's game against Sheffield Wednesday and, being new and unfamiliar to the area, he programmed the stadium's postcode into his Sat Nav.' He added: 'The route provided took him down a less than traditional road, where conditions were also poor, and ultimately his car got stuck.' Local mountain biker Pete Irons found Wisdom's Porsche Panamera Turbo in the ditch close to Breadsall Priory Marriot Hotel just outside Derby. He informed the police and was 'shocked' to think the car had got that far in the terrible conditions. He said: 'To get to that point he would have to have come through an equally muddy section, I have no idea what he was thinking. We are miles from any main road, and the track doesn't go anywhere, it's just mind boggling how he ended up there. I think it will definitely need a bit of TLC in a garage.'

A performance artist has been detained in Moscow after stripping naked and nailing his scrotum to the cobblestones of Red Square in a protest. Oooo. Be that made his eyes water. Pyotr Pavlensky reportedly sat for an hour and a half on the square on Sunday afternoon, with a nail driven through his genitals into the ground. The St Petersburg performer had faced a custodial sentence of fifteen days but was freed on Monday. Presumably with his 'nads wrapped in bandages.

The gobshite Tory MP Nadine Dorries has been forced to - grovellingly - apologised to the Commons for failing to declare her fee for appearing on ITV's 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) last year, after being censured by the parliamentary standards watchdog. Dorries said claimed - unconvincingly - that she was 'fully and unreservedly' contrite after the Commons standards committee said she had breached the code of conduct by her attitude to the inquiry and refusal to say how much she was being paid. The committee ordered her to apologise after she did not declare her payments for eight pieces of media work on the MPs' register of members' interests, claiming she did not have to because they were made to her company, Averbrook, rather than to her, personally. She also refused to tell Kathryn Hudson, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, how much she was paid, claiming that she had a confidentiality agreement with ITV over her fee to appear on the show. The standards committee, a cross-party group of MPs, found Dorries should never have signed such an agreement. It also agreed with Hudson that Dorries had breached the code through her 'attitude to the commissioner's inquiries.' During her correspondence with Hudson, Dorries appeared to threaten legal action against the parliamentary watchdog. 'I should inform you that I feel your report amounts to a witch-hunt and I have forwarded it on to legal professionals for further advice regarding my position in relation to the committee and you personally,' she wrote. 'You are choosing to use a vexatious complaint made against me to reinforce your "on the hoof, make it up as you go" policy. I will not tolerate that or any report which invokes libellous negative coverage against me as a result and will not hesitate to pursue you personally should that be the case.' Dorries has now asked to register that Averbrook had an income of around one hundred and forty two thousand smackers, a profit of eighty two grand, and paid a ten thousand knicker dividend to her at the end of October. During a brief - buttock clenchingly embarrassing - statement, Dorries told fellow MPs: 'I wish to apologise to the house fully and unreservedly for what was a genuinely inadvertent breach of the rules.' It comes after the MP for Mid Bedfordshire paid back three thousand smackers in expenses earlier this year after admitting claims for journeys between Westminster and her constituency were 'not to do with her parliamentary duties.' She was cleared over an investigation into the use of her second home but was found to have 'wrongly claimed' for travel taken to look after family members and her sick dog. She also got into hot water with the Conservative Party for appearing on 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) last year. The party suspended the whip temporarily over her decision to disappear to the Australian jungle for filming without informing them. During the latest investigation, the MPs on the standards committee said politicians should not use companies to avoid declaring the sources and amounts of their income. 'It is clear that Ms Dorries's media work was remunerated, whether or not those payments were made to her or to her company,' the committee said. 'We agree with the commissioner that Ms Dorries should have registered payments for such media services even though those payments were made through Averbrook Ltd.' The report said Dorries' media work 'may not have influenced' her representation of her Mid Bedfordshire seat, but it was 'likely to have been linked to her work in the House. We find it hard to believe she would have been invited to appear on I'm a Celebrity if she had not come to public prominence as a member of the house,' the committee said. Exactly what punishment awaits Dorries is not, at this stage, clear although it probably unlikely that she'll face being beaten on the bare bum with a rolled up copy of Hansard. The Dorries ruling comes days after Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader, had to - equally grovellingly - apologise in the Commons for failing to declare thirty grand in donations over six years. 'I have, of course, admitted my mistakes and I apologised from the outset to the commissioner and to the committee,' he told MPs.

Manchester United defender Phil Jones claims critics have been desperate for The Scum to fail after a poor start. Yeah, pretty much. That's very perceptive of you, Phil.

Detention sheets describing future alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon's schoolboy misdemeanours are being put up for sale. Teachers from Liverpool's Quarry Bank High School for Boys wrote that the fifteen-year-old Lennon was punished for 'fighting in class' and 'sabotage.' The two documents from 1955 were rescued by a teacher in the 1970s who had been told to burn all of the books in a storage room at the school. The sheets are expected to be sold for up to three grand each at auction. The documents reveal that on two occasions Lennon received three detentions in one day. Other reasons given by his teachers for punishment include 'nuisance', 'shoving' and 'just no interest whatsoever.' The sheets cover the periods when he was in Class 3B between 19 May and 23 June 1955, and in Class 4C from 25 November 1955 to 13 February 1956. Lennon subsequently met yer actual Paul McCartney in 1957 and together they formed The Beatles. They were a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them. The details of the young Lennon's detentions were discovered by an enterprising teacher in the late 1970s. He had been asked to clear out a storage room to make space for a newly-appointed teacher and had been instructed to burn all the books stored in the room. But spotting the name Lennon in the top of some of the pages he realised they related to the famous former student and alcoholic wife-beating junkie and tore the sheets from the book to retain them as a keepsake. A number of the pages he had taken out of the book and kept were destroyed at a later date in 'an accident involving chemicals.' Other sheets he gave away but these pages are some of the few that have survived. The sheets have been authenticated by Lennon's close friend, Pete Shotton, who wrote the book John Lennon: In My Life. Peter Beech, who was Lennon's general science teacher at the time, said: 'The sheet is typical of John Lennon, he was an extremely cheeky boy. He did, however, know his limits. In the classroom, if you settled John down, you generally settled the class down. His chemistry teacher Eric Oldman, said that John could actually go far.'

India's mission to Mars - launched just a few days ago - has hit a snag already, after a planned engine burn failed to raise the spacecraft's orbit around Earth by the intended amount. The problem occurred during a manoeuvre designed to boost the craft's maximum distance from seventy thousand kilometres to one hundred thousand. A problem with the liquid fuel thruster caused the thirteen hundred and fifty kilogramme vehicle to fall short of the mark. But the head of the Indian Space Research Organisation said that the spacecraft remained 'healthy.' As a solution, the Mars Orbiter Mission - known informally as Mangalyaan, or Mars-craft - will be commanded to execute an additional thruster firing on Tuesday morning to make up for the shortfall. Instead of flying directly to Mars, the probe is scheduled to orbit Earth until the end of the month, building up the necessary velocity to break free from our planet's gravitational pull. This was the fourth in a series of five engine burns known as 'midnight manoeuvres' because several constraints require that they are carried out in the early hours of the morning. Speaking to Pallava Bagla, science editor at Indian broadcasting network NDTV, ISRO's chairman K Radhakrishnan said: 'The space craft is healthy and it encountered a problem when a specific redundancy test was being conducted and it failed to reach the desired velocity it was to achieve.' This failure to reach the intended velocity raised the spacecraft's apogee - the point in its orbit farthest away from Earth - from seventy one thousand kilometres to seventy eight thousand - about twenty five per cent of the way to the target. Bagla told BBC News that the attempt on Monday morning used up about two kilogrammes of the craft's fuel load. But Bagla added that the spacecraft's insertion into Earth orbit after launch on 5 November had been so precise, six kilogrammes of liquid fuel had been saved. Even with Monday's glitch, the mission still had a fuel surplus of for kilogrammes. Nevertheless, Radhakrishnan said that a failure analysis committee would examine why the problem occurred. If the additional firing on Tuesday can successfully bridge the gap, a final midnight manoeuvre on 16 November will boost the apogee to one hundred and ninety thousand kilogrammes. On 1 December, the engine will be fired again for its 'trans-Martian injection', dispatching the craft on a three hundred-day journey to Mars. On 24 September next year, the engine will be fired again to slow down the spacecraft, enabling it to be captured by Mars' gravity and placed into orbit. India's PSLV rocket - the second choice for the mission after a beefier launcher failed - was not powerful enough to send the MOM on a direct flight to Mars. So engineers opted for a method of travel called a Hohmann Transfer Orbit to propel the spacecraft from Earth to Mars with the least amount of fuel possible. At a cost of about forty five million quid, the MOM is extremely cheap by the standards of planetary missions.

The European Space Agency's GOCE satellite has re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, burning up in the process. US tracking data suggests that any surviving debris fragments fell into the South Atlantic, just off the tip of South America, south of the Falkland Islands. Dubbed 'The Ferrari Of Space' because of its sleek looks (and, because it was always breaking down), GOCE is the first ESA mission to make an uncontrolled re-entry in more than twenty five years. The gravity mapping probe's plunge was inevitable once it ran out of fuel. The mission was operating in an extremely low orbit - at two hundred and twenty four kilometres altitude, the lowest of any scientific satellite - and needed to constantly thrust an electric engine to stay aloft, but last month its fuel reserves were exhausted. Pre-return modelling had indicated that perhaps a fifth to a quarter of GOCE's one-tonne mass could have endured the fiery fall through the atmosphere. Its sophisticated glonthometer - the instrument used to make gravity measurements - incorporated composite materials that were expected to ride out the destructive forces that would ordinarily incinerate traditional components. Falkland Islander Bill Chater managed to record the scene as he returned from a day's outing to see penguins. At least, that was what he said he was doing, 'We saw what we first thought was a shooting star,' Bill told the BBC. 'It soon became obvious it was the satellite we had heard about on BBC Radio News an hour before. It left a long trail of smoke which was bright white in the dark sky, presumably lit by the Sun which we could no longer see.' Tracking systems were deployed to monitor the rapid descent, with a final estimate for the location of the re-entry put close to the tip of South America, just east of Tierra Del Fuego.

Which brings us, inevitably, to today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Here's Sophie and Peter Johnson.

No comments: