Saturday, December 07, 2013

Week Fifty One: I Went To The Shop, To Buy A Bottle of Pop, But In That Pop Was Poison

The cast and writers of Sherlock have said that viewers are 'in for a treat' when it is revealed how Sherlock Holmes survived going pavement-diving from the top of St Bart's at the end of the last series. Speaking to the press this week, yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman his very self, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) and that Mark Gatiss discussed the expectation around series three opener The Empty Hearse.
Benny said: 'I think you're in for a treat. I was too curious not to ask and figure it out myself, I think I sort of got into the same obsession that the nation did before we did it.' On the subject of how hard it was to keep the secret, he continued: 'Without meaning to patronise at all, because I don't prescribe behaviours - although it's been reported that I do - my personal preference is being surprised in the moment of watching something rather than knowing ahead of time. But I also understand why everyone's desperate to know because it's frustrating. It's witty and loving and intelligent enough for people to actually really enjoy it.' Yer man Benny added: 'There are obviously the books to go on, not that there are clues in there necessarily as to how we get out of our version of The Reichenbach Fall. For example, John's reaction in the book is, "Oh great, next case." Ours is a little bit more Twenty First Century. Martin's got a little more air in those moments of reunification, if it can be called that.'
Marty his very self said: 'It's very satisfying. It's Mark Gatiss's script that we're doing and it's rather beautiful, as I would hope and expect. I guessed parts of it but it was unfair really because Steven and Mark had intimated to us some of the ingredients that it might be anyway, so I wasn't dealing with a complete blank canvas. I am more impressed with the people who have nothing to do with the show. They were quite close.' He continued: 'There were lots and lots of theories and some of them were very good, but the way that we deal with it in this episode I think is really clever and ultimately satisfying. It's difficult because once something is revealed and you've already tried to guess and guess and guess the trick, when it is revealed it's very difficult not to be disappointed. We're not actually dealing with my other job - with wizards - it still has to be grounded in a reality - although it's a very heightened reality.'
Asked if the character of Sherlock Holmes is sympathetic to the impact of his actually being alive on his friend John Watson, Cumberbatch said: 'To an extent. I think the one bit of logic that he'll never level at him is, "Well I did save your and other people's lives." But of course he is - I think he is - because he wants that friendship, he needs that friendship to a degree possibly. But he is Sherlock so he doesn't necessarily go about introducing himself the best way possible back into John's life, as you'll see.'
Freeman said: 'You can imagine if you have thought that about someone you love and it transpires not to be the case, then that's a huge piece of news. But we can't dwell on it too long - otherwise the show wouldn't be what it is - but we definitely deal with it. Ultimately it has to affect it for a bit, but you can't have two people resenting each other for however long we do this show.' Asked how guilty he felt about teasing viewers with the cliffhanger, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat said: 'It's not teasing them about the fate of a kidnapped relative. It's a television programme! So not at all. That's storytelling.' That Mark Gatiss his very self added: 'Also, Doyle threw him off a waterfall and left it for ten years, then it came back. We left it two and a half minutes! We're quite nice. Also remember the great adage - the suspense is killing me, I hope it will last.' Concerning whether they had taken any 'special measures' to keep the secret, Gatiss said: 'We just have to rely on people not telling. I remember last time, there were lots of fans standing, watching the monitor of Benedict's bloodied head. Nobody said a thing - It didn't leak at all. I was very proud.' The Moffinator suggested: 'I had them killed, obviously.' This blogger wouldn't put it past him, dear blog reader. With hammers, at that. Asked if there was a temptation to leave viewers similarly on edge at the end of the upcoming trio of episodes, Mark said: 'I promise whatever it is, we won't have to go back two years later and try and make sense of it!'
Meanwhile The Moffat and that Mark Gatiss have spoken about the possible return of Irene Adler in their adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. Lara Pulver played Sherlock's 'love interest' (well, sort of) in the much-admired series two episode A Scandal In Belgravia and has admitted that she would like to reprise her role. Speaking to journalists, Moffat said: 'We're concerned to keep the universe of Sherlock expanding and yet constant, so there's always the possibility of a return, but there is the necessity of novelty. Sequels are never quite as good as the original, are they? Which is the thing you have to listen to. I'm not telling you!' He continued: 'It's one of those things you're constantly asked. In my other job, I'm always asked. "Are you going to bring back ...?" and you always say, "That's not how you start the story." The movie poster line can't be, "And then it all happened again." That's not interesting.' Co-creator Gatiss added: 'It's story-led, isn't it? If something amazing popped up ... There is a dangerous thing as well of things becoming a bit too cosy. We've got a cast of regulars we want to keep seeing and you feel a bit odd if someone isn't there. To be honest, in the second story in the first series [The Blind Banker] we deliberately didn't have Lestrade, so we didn't have that problem. But it did, actually, feel a bit odd.' He continued: 'But you can navigate your way through that without it feeling claustrophobic. The danger is you have a successful character like Irene Adler and she makes a massive impact because that story is so perfect, but if she then moves in around the corner, it becomes a bit cosy.' Moffat agreed: 'This one quasi-love story for Sherlock becomes a one-off relationship with a lunatic - between two lunatics. Would you go with it?' Pulver said again last year that she would 'absolutely' come back to the show if there was 'more to say', though Benedict Cumberbatch his very self has appeared to rule out a return, at least in the upcoming trio of episodes.

And now ...
Yer actual Matt Smith his very self stars in a series of action-packed new pictures from Doctor Who's 2013 Christmas special released by the BBC on Friday. The Time Of The Doctor will be the thirty one-year-old actor's final outing with the BBC's popular family SF drama. These chaps also turn up for the party, apparently.
Along with herself. Nice bird, innit?
Benidorm actress Sheila Reid will guest star in The Time Of The Doctor. The actress will make her début as Clara's grandmother, while James Buller returns as Clara's father following his appearance in The RingsOof Akhaten earlier this year. According to the Radio Times, Elizabeth Rider will star as Linda, Only Fools and Horses actress Tessa Peake-Jones will play Marta and Facejacker's Kayvan Novak will voice another character called Handles. Mark Anthony Brighton will play Colonel Albero, Sonita Henry will be Colonel Meme, Rob Jarvis will play Abramel and Jack Hollington will appear as Barnable. Orla Brady will also appear in the Doctor Who Christmas episode playing a character called Tasha Lem. Which, interestingly, is an anagram of Le Mastah. I'm just sayin'.
Actually, it's also an anagram of Shat Meal. Which may, or may not be significant. Don't ask me, dear blog reader, I know nathing.

Incidentally, there's a very fine interview with young Smudger his very self on the Radio Times website, here.

Friday saw a particularly fine episode of Qi going out on Beeb2 (with the extended XL repeat on Saturday). Victoria Coren, Sue Perkins and Richard Cole joined Stephen and Alan for larks and japery and that on the subject of Knights And Knaves.
From several highlights, this blogger particularly enjoyed the answers to questions such as 'why was The Black Knight so called?' and 'What is the first rule of Knight Club?' (IT isn't what you think.) There was also: 'We've all had Bend Sinister', 'He's The Bastard Son Of Wayne Rooney' and 'Is it visible pantyline?' You had to be there, dear blog reader.
And, also on Friday, Have I Got News For You (delayed until a half-past-eleven start due to the BBC's hastily arranged schedule reshuffle occasioned by broadcasting a hastily prepared Nelson Mandela obituary) was pretty good too with Paul Merton on particularly dazzling form.
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 to top the overnight ratings on Thursday evening. The ITV reality freak show held steady from Wednesday's episode, attracting 8.66 million at 9pm. Earlier, Britain's Secret Treasures was seen by 2.68m at 8pm. On BBC1, Keeping Britain Safe interested 2.17m at 8.30pm, while a repeat of Mrs Brown's Boys had an audience of 2.75m at 9.30pm. BBC2's MasterChef: The Professionals attracted 2.63m at 8pm for its final episode of the week - one which saw Scott progress to the final and Luke,c sadly, miss out and leave the competition. That was followed by the Cold War documentary Silent War which was watched by 1.10m at 9pm. On Channel Four, George Clarke's Amazing Spaces gathered 1.36m punters at 8pm. Getting Rich In The Recession appealed to 1.48m at 9pm, while What Happens In Kavos pulled in eight hundred thousand viewers at 10pm. Channel Five's broadcast of festive film Santa Suit brought in four hundred and twenty four thousand at 8pm, while Person of Interest appealed to six hundred and fifty three thousand at 10pm. On BBC4, the documentary Byzantium: A Tale of Three Cities achieved a highly creditable seven hundred and seventy thousand viewers at 9pm.

Friday's overnight ratings were a curious bunch as channels altered schedules to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. Following the death of the former South African president on Thursday, BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel Four added tribute programmes to their primetime schedules. 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), which saw Amy Willerton (who?) and Joey Essex (no, me neither) leave the camp, attracted 8.7m viewers. ITV3's 9pm Midsomer Murders repeat performed well in the multichannels, as nine hundred and fifty two thousand tuned in. ITV's Nelson Mandela: His Life and Legacy drew six hundred and thirty thousand punters at 11.20pm. BBC1 dedicated its 9pm slot to Nelson Mandela: The Fight For Freedom, which had 2.23m viewers. Earlier in the evening, Robbie Williams: One Night At The Palladium was watched by 4.79m at 8pm. The Graham Norton Show, featuring Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Hill, Mary Berry, Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Sir Cliff Richard, pulled in an audience of 3.22m, while a delayed Have I Got News For You saw 1.97m watch in the later time slot of 11.20pm. Nature programme Wild Burma: Nature's Lost Kingdom was BBC2's highest-performing show with 1.86m viewers.

Radio Times is bringing back Santa Claus for its Christmas cover for the first time since 2009, when he was banished as 'a symbol of indulgence', although readers will have to stomach a fourteen per cent cover price increase. Unless, like this blogger, they've got it on subscription in which case it's already paid for so, hey, what's the problem? The two-week festive edition of the magazine, which goes on sale next Wednesday, will cost £3.20. 'Radio Times readers are used to paying double the usual price for the Christmas double issue,' said Kathy Day, publishing director of the Radio Times. 'We go to great lengths to make the magazine worth every penny.' The Christmas issue will have a print run of almost two and a half million copies, up from the normal nine hundred thousand, with two hundred and ninety four pages. A total of forty eight pages of advertising have been booked, up on the forty from last year, which will bring in well over two million quid in revenue. Enough to pay for a few Daleks and half a dozen episodes of The Sky At Night if Radio Times still belonged to the BBC. But, it doesn't. Including sales income the Christmas edition can expect to make about £7.5m in revenue. British Gas has snapped up the premium advertising slot – the three-page front and back cover gatefold – for the fifth year running. It is thought to be worth as much as two hundred grand, about the same as a thirty-second TV advert in a semi-final or final of ITV's The X Factor. Or, the centre forward for the middle of the table League One side, if you prefer. Radio Times said that the furniture, retail and entertainment sectors have proved to be strong advertisers this year, with brands such as DFS, Disney, Cineworld, BSkyB and Universal Films on board. New clients for this year include Glenlivet Whisky, LateRooms and MG Motors. The launch of the Christmas edition will be backed with a TV advertising campaign, by agency Creature London, which launches in Coronation Street on Tuesday night. 'We will be putting out fifty per cent more pages than any other TV listings magazine title, and those pages will be packed with exclusive, insightful features, interviews and guidance and the best TV, radio and films listings package in the business,' said Day. Last year's Radio Times, which had The Snowman and the Snowdog on the front cover, sold 2.17m copies.

And so to the latest batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips and that:-

Saturday December 14
Old Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly enter the ballroom once again to host this year's Strictly Come Dancing semi-final - 6:40 BBC1 - in which the twinkle-toed celebrities will be hoping to pull off their best performances yet as they tackle two dances each. Judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, Craig Revel Horwood and Darcey Bussell give their verdicts on the routines, but the all-important votes from the viewers decide who will waltz into next week's final and compete for the glitterball trophy.
They wowed the judges at the double auditions, beat the competition at boot camp and made it through nine weeks of live studio rounds of The X Factor - 8:00 ITV. The three remaining acts head to Wembley Arena to battle it out in the first part of the final. At the end of the show, Dermot O'Dreary his very self announces the results of the phone-in and the least popular contestant gets axed (though, sadly, not with actual axe), with the lucky two going through to the last stage of the contest which you can watch tomorrow. If you wish. Or, you can watch something else, if you prefer. This blogger does. There are also performances by rock band The Killers (who should be effing well ashamed of themselves) and Tom Odell.

With the general election nearing, the mudslinging begins, and Birgitte fights to keep her integrity and win votes in Borgan - 9:00 BBC4. Meanwhile, TV1 try a new election debate format in an attempt to gain more viewers. That's followed by the final, ever episode of this quite wonderful, thoughtful, intelligent, mature, proper grown-up drama at 10pm. The day of the election finally arrives, but the subject of politics is not the only thing on Birgitte's mind. As you'll know if you've been watching the series so far. Starring Sidse Babett Knudsen, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, Pilou Asbaek and Lars Knutzon. Sadly, the last in the series.
If you don't fancy that, there's also a repeat of a particularly fine Lewis episode, And The Moonbeams Kissed The Sea - 9:00 ITV3. Hathaway and Lewis investigate the death of a maintenance engineer found shot in the head in the basement of The Bodleian Library. A search of the man's house reveals a stash of valuable volumes and a connection to the local Gamblers Anonymous group, and the detectives go on to expose a scam involving two Oxford academics. The first victim in scriptwriter Alan Plater's gentle, clever puzzle, first shown in 2008, is a self-consciously quirky and rather annoying female student (more than enough motive to bump her off, frankly) who runs bogus heritage tours of the city. She's found dead with a snippet of a Shelley poem in her pocket. Did Percy Bysshe do the dirty deed? Probably not, dear blog reader, he's been dead since 1822. Another victim is discovered in the Bodleian. If you're going to be bumped off, it might as well be in world-renowned academic surroundings, rather than out the back by the bins. The suspects in both cases are a pair of supercilious university professors. It's rather good fun, actually, guest starring Neil Pearson and Haydn Gwynne - their first performance together since they both starred in Drop The Dead Donkey fifteen years earlier - with Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox.

It's thought that one per cent of the entire population could be classified as psychopathic. The documentary Pyshcopath Night - 9:00 Channel Four - goes inside the minds of psychopaths, revealing how to spot them and meeting real psychopathic killers. It also counts down the top ten mentally deranged movie characters, as 'selected by experts' including a real-life Clarice Starling-type who uses Hollywood films to teach FBI trainees how to handle dangerous criminals.

Sunday 15 December
Hideously unfunny writer and performer Victoria Wood and Pointless brainbox Richard Osman make their debuts on Qi XL - 10:20 BBC2 - joining stand-up Jason Manford and regular panellist Alan Davies. Host Stephen Fry asks a range of questions on the topic of The Kitchen Sink - something which this blogger would shed hot a single tear if Victoria Wood were to be found drowned in - with points being awarded for interesting answers as well as correct ones. You know the score by now.
Yer actual Gary Lineker and two of light entertainment's biggest flops of 2013, Gabby Logan and Clare Balding, present this year's Sports Personality Of The Year Award ceremony - 7:15 BBC1 - live from the First Direct Arena in Leeds. Where several previous winners will be in attendance to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the show, and the successor to Sir Bradley Wiggins will be crowned. The ten contenders for the main prize are Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, Tour De France winner Chris Froome, America's Cup sailor Ben Ainslie, athletics gold medallists Mo Farah, Christine Ohuruogu and Hannah Cockroft, England cricketer Ian Bell (who will be a bit busy as part of England's - suddenly rubbish - Ashes side down under to attend, one imagines), British & Irish Lions hero Leigh Halfpenny, record-breaking jockey Tony McCoy and US Open golf champion Justin Rose. Yeah. Mo Farah's gonna win that. In addition to the main prize, awards will be handed out in categories such as Team Of The Year and Coach Of The Year, while the sixtieth Anniversary Diamond Award will be given to a sporting legend, and the Helen Rollason Award will be bestowed upon someone who epitomises courage and has the ability to inspire others. Subsequent programmes subject to change if it goes on a bit. Which is usually does.

In Lou Reed Remembered - 9:00 BBC4 - the life and career of the late rock legend, who died in October, is explored. The film looks at Lou's wide-reaching influence, and examines how he helped shape a generation of musicians by producing alternative and unique rock, creating a provocative soundtrack for New York through both his solo and collaborative records. With contributions from Mick Rock, former Velvet Underground bandmates Mo Tucker and Doug Yule, Boy George, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Holly Woodlawn, Steve Hunter and Paul Auster.
Monday 16 December
Death stalks Whitechapel once more, with the grim discovery of corpses in a slum tenement and the police boxing championship turning violent in the last ever episode of Ripper Street - 9:00 BBC1. As Reid and Drake become more deeply involved, they find themselves powerless to resist the temptation of a final reckoning with K Division's Jedediah Shine. At the same time, Jackson and his brother are desperate to profit from the stolen diamond - but its owners' murderous agents are on their tail - while Long Susan must decide whether her future lies with Jackson or Duggan.
Stand-up comedian and actor Johnny Vegas his very self hosts a festive edition of the comedy music quiz Never Mind The Buzzcocks - 10:00 BBC2. Joining team captains - bloody weirdo Noel Fielding and Phill Jupitus - on the panel are former Westlife singer Brian McFadden, DJ Locksmith from chart-topping band Rudimental along with the actress Jessica Hynes and comedienne Sara Pascoe. So, two very good reasons to watch this one, then. Last in the current series.
In Monty Halls And The Ghost Ship Of Thunder Bay - 9:00 Channel Five - the explorer and his team head to Thunder Bay in Michigan to dive to the almost intact wreck of grain schooner Cornelia B Windiate, which sank in Lake Huron in November 1875 leading with the loss of all crew. From records and local historians, Monty discovers that the ship was dangerously overloaded when her owner sent her out and he learns that the Great Lakes are so vast that they create their own highly volatile storm patterns. Tracking down the weather maps for the day of the sinking, he recreates the conditions in a scaled-down test tank to see what happens to a miniature replica of the ship. Another last in the series.

Tuesday 17 December
Caroline is stunned to learn that Kate is pregnant, and as if that wasn't enough for her to take, John also has shocking news - before Gillian shares a dark, sinister secret with her stepsister in the latest Last Tango In Halifax - 9:00 BBC1. Meanwhile, Celia is reluctant to introduce Alan to her sister, Muriel. Sally Wainwright's family drama, starring Derek Jacobi, Anne Reid, Sarah Lancashire, Nicola Walker, Tony Gardner and Nina Sosanya.
Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood demonstrate how to make a number of festive treats, including stollen, mincemeat streusel and a gingerbread house that can be created with all the family in The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special - 8:00 BBC2. There are also recipes for black bun, which is a Scottish fruitcake traditionally eaten at New Year, and Paul's hand-raised Boxing Day pie that uses all the leftovers from Christmas dinner.
In the latest episode of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved Hebburn - 10:00 BBC2 - Sarah has more than being a new mum to celebrate when she passes her PhD and is offered her dream job in Zurich, leaving her and Jack to decide between her career and family. Vicki wonders if her new boyfriend Lindsay is such a perfect man after all, while a heartbroken Gervaise launches his CD at Swayze's.
Wednesday 18 December
The Great Train Robbery - 8:00 BBC1 - is a two-part drama by Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall telling the story of the most infamous heist in British history, beginning with the planning and execution of the crime from the perspective of the saucy perpetrators their very selves. After a robbery at Heathrow Airport in 1962, Bruce Reynolds sets his sights on another target - the plan being to rob the overnight mail train from Glasgow to Euston. A team of tasty blaggers - tooled up, and that - is assembled, schemes are laid out, strokes are pulled, Gregorys bounched, a little Richard done and the date set for the malarkey to occur. But, despite their meticulous planning, the operation is compromised by a violent attack on the train driver, some farcical occurrences and a botched getaway. Before long, the gang have become the most wanted men in Britain and big sweat is on. Luke Evans, Paul Anderson, Martin Compston, Jack Roth and Neil Maskell star. The focus shifts to the police investigation in tomorrow's second film. Concludes tomorrow.
Tonight also sees the conclusion of Jeff Pope's two-part drama based on the life of flamboyant aristocrat (and, alleged, murderer), Lucan - 9:00 ITV. With the body of Sandra Rivett lying in a pool of blood in the basement of his family home, Lord Lucan attacks his wife Veronica. But, she fights back and alerts the police of what has occurred there. As the earl goes on the run, John Aspinall (allegedly) calls together several of Lucky Lucan's cronies from The Clermont Club to (allegedly) get this shit sorted, whilst a national manhunt is launched for the fugitive. That wasn't alleged, that actually happened. Veronica testifies against her husband to the authorities and the story quickly becomes a media sensation. Starring Rory Kinnear, with Christopher Eccleston, Catherine McCormack, Paul Freeman, Rupert Evans and Gemma Jones.
Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold bring in the barley and celebrate with a harvest feast, while Ruth prepares for winter by salting meat to preserve it in Tudor Monastery Farm - 9:00 BBC2. As the team plans to put on a mystery play, Tom creates fireworks with an alchemist, while Ruth and Peter help with props and costumes. Preparing to leave the farm, they reflect on what they have learned and contemplate what the dissolution of the monasteries meant for the kingdom. Last in the series.

Thursday 19 December
It;'s August 1963: Plod wake to the news of the tasty armed blag with shootahs, and that, but the full extent of the hellish crime and its haul - over two and a half million smackers - only becomes evident over the following days in the second part of The Great Train Robbery, A Copper's Tale - 8:00 BBC1. It's clear the baffled local CID is ill-equipped to solve a case of such magnitude, so Scotland Yard is called in, with a six-strong team of thief takers headed by the Flying Squad's enigmatic chief, yer actual Tommy Butler. In a race against time, they set out to identify every criminal involved and bring 'em to Her Majesty's justice before they can flee the country. But even if Old Bill can, will they ever find the money? Jim Broadbent stars in the concluding part of the drama about the most infamous heist in British history, with George Costigan, Robert Glenister, Tim Pigott-Smith, Nick Moran and John Salthouse.
Comedy actor and Pointless host Alexander Armstrong and his journalist brother-in-law Giles Coren get together to select twelve different drinks for the festive period in The Twelve Drinks of Christmas - 9:00 BBC2. Their choices range from the best Christmas Eve cocktail to the wine to serve with lunch, as well as brandy, punch and the ultimate eggnog.
Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore charts how Istanbul rose to become one of Islam's most powerful cities, and visits the mosques and palaces built by the Ottoman sultans, sharing stories of royal concubines and murderous bodyguards along the way in the final episode of Byzantium: A Tale of Three Cities - 9:00 BBC4. He also examines how the ancient city was transformed by the secular vision of the first President of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in the Twentieth Century after he launched a programme of revolutionary social and political reform.

Friday 20 December
Tonight's Have I Got News For You is the programmes annual clip show, entitled Have I Got 2013 News For You - 9:00 BBC1 - featuring highlights from this year's two series. Ian Hislop and Paul Merton were joined by a variety of guest hosts and panellists to take on the big news stories of 2013. Those in the presenter's chair over the past few months included Jezza Clarkson, David Mitchell, Kathy Burke, Jack Whitehall, Alexander Armstrong, Kirsty Young, Jo Brand, Stephen Merchant, Richard Osman and Martin Clunes. Last in the series.

Elsewhere, it's a bit of a right shite state of affairs on telly, frankly. There's the Citizen Khan Christmas special - 8:30 BBC1. Err ... no thanks. Qi's a repeat and the best ITV can offer is three hours of Text Santa - 8:00. And, anybody who even considers watching that deserves to be horsewhipped through the streets until they promise never to do such a stupid thing again.

And, so to the news: Death Comes To Pemberley is fast approaching and the BBC have released a series of publicity photos from the period drama: These feature Matthew Goode as Wickham, Matthew Rhys as Mister Darcy, Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth and Jenna Coleman as Lydia.
Just when you thought it was safe to donate your Sarah Lund jumper to the charity shop and stop dreaming of becoming Staatsminister like Birgitte Nyborg, along comes another TV drama to reignite British viewers' love affair with Denmark. The ten-part series The LegacyArvingerne in Danish – was launched in Copenhagen this week, and will arrive in Britain next year. The channel is as yet unconfirmed but BBC4's 9pm Saturday night slot has become the traditional home of most Scandinavian dramas including Wallander, The Killing, The Bridge and Borgen. It is typical of the high international regard with which the output of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation is held overseas that The Legacy was sold to the UK, Benelux countries and Australia before it has even premiered in Denmark. The Killing was screened worldwide making an international star of Sofie Gråbøl who played the Faroe Isle-jumper-wearing homicide detective Lund, while Borgen has been shown in seventy five countries and won an EMMY nomination for its lead Sidse Babeett Knudsen. Whether The Legacy eclipses these cross-cultural export successes remains to be seen, but Swedish actor-turned-director Pernilla August (who won best actress award at Cannes in 1992 for her part in Ingmar Bergman and Bille August's film The Best Intentions) and writer Maya Ilsøe's have created a densely woven family drama. The makers of The Legacy cite Downton Abbey and The Ice Storm, Ang Lee's 1997 film about a dysfunctional American family, as influences. The Legacy is set in and around the country mansion of the an artist, Veronika Grønnegaard, who in the drama's first episode emerges from a hospital's oncology department grimly lighting up a cigarette and sporting a wretched look – one that suggests she has just received her death sentence from cancer. The story then traces how her four adult children's lives have been affected in different ways by her eccentric counter-cultural child-raising philosophy. Or as the press pack puts it: 'The series is a modern family portrait – a depiction of the '68 generation and their children. That examines what it means to be a family in a time when traditional patterns of family life have undergone radical change.' The drama recalls one of the great modern Danish films, Thomas Vinterberg's 1998 Festen (The Celebration), in which a patriarch's sixtieth birthday bash is ruined by familial revelations from the past. Trine Dyholm, who plays one of the siblings in The Legacy, also had a leading role in Festen. But while Festen was a product of the Dogme95 movement which advocated the use of simple equipment, natural lighting and sound, no props and no make up, and was largely confined to the arthouse cinema circuit, The Legacy is the product of a national TV broadcaster at the height of its international cachet. Before her death, Grønnegaard bequeaths the house to her daughter, Signe, whom she gave up for adoption decades earlier. 'This is to have fatal consequences,' the broadcaster said. 'What for the four siblings should have been a quick and painless division of Veronika's estate marks the beginning of a journey into secrets and lies which turns their lives upside down and forces them to look at both themselves and each other with new eyes.' Whatever we can expect from this Danish drama, there is one legacy it won't have. British audiences may adore watching Danes but so far they have remained heroically immune to learning their language. Borgen creator Adam Price told the Gruniad Morning Star recently that Britons only seem to know two Danish words – 'Tag'(thanks) and 'Skål' (cheers). But, he added, as you can get quite a long way in Copenhagen with just those two.

Jon Snow is part of one of UK TV's leading broadcasting dynasties – and has admitted in a Radio Times interview that nepotism played a role in launching his TV career. The Channel Four News presenter told the magazine his cousin, Peter, 'tipped him off' about his first job and ITN took a chance on him because he was 'a bit like his cousin.' He said: 'I don't think he put in a word for me, but it was he who tipped me off and they possibly thought, "Well, he's a bit like his cousin, we might do well to see if he's any good."' Asked about whether nepotism is still alive and well, he said: 'We're in a world in which who you know is very important. Our society is terribly rigid.' Snow has gone on to more than prove himself in his forty-year career, having fronted more than six thousand episodes of Channel Four News since 1989. But he said he would rather be remembered as a journalist than as a broadcaster: 'I'm really a reporter. I'm actually a rather poor presenter.'

The BBC has reportedly 'scaled back' a day dedicated to Gary Barlow after radio rivals 'voiced concerns' (that's Gruniad Morning Star-speak for 'whinged like a bunch of whinging whingers') about over-promotion. Earlier this week the BBC website featured details of a day of coverage, which was to have featured appearances on both Ken Bruce and Steve Wright's shows, an 'Ask Gary' Q&A on the Radio 2 website, and the live broadcast of a Barlow concert from the BBC Radio Theatre. The broadcasts tied in with the launch of the The X Factor judge's solo CD, Since I Saw You Last. 'This is no ordinary performance – throughout the day, you can listen, watch and interact with a bona fide national treasure – before seeing him perform in concert,' the BBC website stated. However, following criticism from commercial radio industry trade body Radio Centre 'and others' according to the Gruniad Morning Star although, interestingly, the hippy Communist lice fail to state whom, exactly, these 'others' are and why anybody should give a frigging monkey's chuff about what they think - the website has been edited and some of the Barlow coverage apparently scrapped. References to 'no ordinary performance' and Barlow being a 'bona fide national treasure' have been removed and replaced with more neutral language - and more accurate in the case of the latter: 'You can listen and watch Gary performing In Concert, live from the BBC Radio Theatre.' All of which, as this blogger has previously noted, can very easily be avoided by simply watching or listening to other stuff instead. Which this blogger his very self will be doing. So, what's the problem? Radio 2 has also dropped Barlow's appearance on Wright's show and the live Q&A. A spokeswoman for the BBC said that the In Concert format involves artists 'dropping into other Radio 2 shows and our broadcast plans are always being fine-tuned and are often subject to change in advance of a live transmission.'

And, speaking of waste-of-space tossers with a massive, over-inflated opinion of themselves, geet ladgeful bell-end and total waaaart Sting has told The Andrew Marr Show that 'going back to his roots' helped relieve his writer's block. Speaking on the programme, balding ex-milkman and saviour of the planet Sting revealed that he hadn't been able to write anything for eight years. Tragically, he got over it.
A blood-soaked stage version of Swedish vampire story Let The Right One In - the movie of which was a particular favourite of this blogger - has opened at London's Royal Court and aims to attract more teenagers to the theatre. 'It's totally a love story,' director John Tiffany said on Thursday's opening night. 'I do like horror films but I wouldn't ever be interested in putting a horror on stage - blood doesn't equal horror.' Jack Thorne's stage adaptation is based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist. It tells the story of the relationship between Oskar, a lonely bullied schoolboy, played by Martin Quinn, and Eli (Rebecca Benson), a centuries-old vampire who befriends him. The National Theatre of Scotland production premiered at Dundee Rep this summer and is set for a West End run. Described as being 'for adults and fearless teens aged thirteen plus', the play contains many gory scenes. On Thursday's opening night, a shock moment made many audience members jump out of their seats. Tiffany, whose previous productions include the musical Once and Black Watch, said the story was 'very relevant' to a teen audience. 'It's about first love and your relationship with your parents and peers - and the supernatural. The forest has always been seen as an allegory for puberty, and that plays a big part.' The production sees the main stage at the Royal Court stage transformed to a snowy Scottish forest. It features choreography from Tiffany's long-time collaborator Steven Hoggett and a haunting score by Olafur Arnalds, whose recent TV work includes Broadchurch. Thorne said his script contained 'much more on sexuality' than the two cinema versions: Tomas Alfredson's Swedish-language original in 2008, and Hammer's English-language remake in 2010. The BAFTA-award winning writer, whose TV work include Skins, The Fades and This Is England 88, said the character of Eli was 'head and shoulders above any teenage vampire I've ever seen.' Early reviews have been largely positive. In his four-star review for the Evening Standard, Henry Hitchings called the play 'a tender piece that's also laced with savagery.' In The Stage, Aleks Sierz wrote that Thorne's 'fast-moving' version 'casts many dark shadows.' Libby Purves, on her TheatreCat website, noted an 'impressive debut' from Martin Quinn as Oskar. Eli, she added, was 'played with extraordinary power' by Rebecca Benson who spoke 'with the halting questioning strangeness of autism, moving with catlike agility, perching, pouncing, shivering.' Less impressed was the Daily Scum Mail's Patrick Marmion - big surprise - who acknowledged the 'top drawer' acting and 'deftly handled' shocks, but concluded: 'You're still better off watching the subtitled film.' When she announced her first season at the Royal Court earlier this year, new artistic director Vicky Featherstone said that she hoped the offer of ten pound tickets would encourage teens to visit the theatre 'instead of going to the cinema.' Tiffany told the BBC at Thursday's opening night that it was his job to make the play 'unmissable. How do we compete with the 3D superscreens at the cineplex? We just make it better - because theatre is better because it's live. Instead of trying to be like the poor cousin we need to accept that we're the king.' She added that the show felt perfect for the Royal Court Christmas slot. 'I said to one of the photographers yesterday, "It's really festive isn't it?" He said, "Maybe the snow, but not the blood." And I said, "You've not been to my house for Christmas!"'

The third Star Trek movie will be written by Roberto Orci, JD Payne and Patrick McKay it has been announced. Orci is continuing his involvement with the franchise, after previously writing the first two Star Trek movies with Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof. Payne and McKay have a working relationship with Star Trek Into Darkness director JJ Abrams, having penned a big-screen adaptation of the graphic novel Boilerplate. Abrams will not be returning to direct the currently-untitled third Star Trek movie because of his commitments to Star Wars Episode Seven, but will stay on as producer. Attack The Block's Joe Cornish and Rise of the Planet of the Apes filmmaker Rupert Wyatt have both been tipped as potential directors for the movie. There is currently no release date scheduled for Star Trek III.
The electric guitar played by yer actual Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival has been sold at auction in New York for a record nine hundred and sixty five thousand dollars. The Fender Stratocaster had been in the possession of a New Jersey family for forty eight years after Bob left it on a plane. The pilot's daughter had it authenticated on a television programme on US broadcaster PBS. The festival in Newport, Rhode Island, is often cited as the performance where Dylan 'went electric.' Dylan's change in musical style 'changed the structure of folk music', Newport Folk Festival founder George Wein told the Associated Press news agency. 'The minute Dylan went electric, all these young people said, "Bobby's going electric. We're going electric, too."' At the time, the three-song set drew boos from some of the crowd, who had come expecting Dylan's traditional acoustic folk performance. Dawn Peterson said on the PBS programme History Detectives that her father, the private plane's pilot, asked Dylan's management firm what to do with the guitar but 'nobody ever got back to him.' So, he kept it. Experts matched the wood grain on the instrument with a close-up colour photo taken during Dylan's set at the festival. Recently, Dylan and Peterson quietly settled a legal dispute over the instrument. Details of the settlement itself are not known although one imagines 'finders keepers, losers weepers' wasn't part of it. Auction house Christie's had estimated the guitar would sell for between three and five hundred thousand dollars. The buyer has not been identified. The previous record for a guitar sold at auction was also a Fender owned by Eric Clapton his very self, nicknamed 'Blackie', which sold at Christie's for nine hundred and fifty nine thousand five hundred dollars in 2004.

The undoubted highlight of ITV's - wretched, as usual - coverage of the FA Cup second round tie between non-league Tamworth and Bristol City on Sunday occurred shortly after the match had ended. City won the game 2-1 but, most credit should go to a bunch of Tamworth's fans who remained in The Lamb Ground afterwards. And, had a damned good try at drowning out odious greed bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles' utterly worthless opinion-piece to camera. By singing several choruses of 'Adrian Chiles/Is a wanker/Is a wanker' very loudly. Good on ya Tamowrth.
England will play four-time winners Italy, as well as Uruguay and Costa Rica, in Group D at the 2014 World Cup. Tough group, though it could have been worse. Not much, admittedly. Rockin' Roy Hodgson's men open their campaign against The Eyeties in the Amazonian city of Manaus on 15 June in what was initially announced as the only World Cup game which would be kick-off off at 9pm (2am UK time), though that was later amended to 6pm (11pm UK time). England take on Uruguay on 19 June and play Costa Rica five days later. Hosts Brazil are in Group A with Cameroon, Mexico and Croatia while holders Spain open with a repeat of the 2010 final against Netherlands before taking on the much fancied Chile and Australia. England will have to travel over seventeen hundred miles from their chosen base in Rio for their first match in the tropical heat of Manaus, which in the heart of the Amazon jungle. Earlier this week, Hodgson described Manaus as 'the place to avoid' because of the climate - temperatures reach thirty degrees and humidity is about eighty per cent - although after the draw the England boss took comfort from the fact his team would be facing a fellow European side. 'The conditions in the North will be tough, so we will both be in same boat,' he said. 'If we'd had three games up in the North, it would have been difficult.' Following Hodgson's initial comments, the mayor of Manaus, Arthur Virgilio, said England would not be welcome in the city. And, this is different for most venues we play how, exactly? England take on two-time champions Uruguay, who will have Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haw's Luis Suarez in their squad, in Sao Paulo and they play Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte - both venues are within two hundred odd miles of their base. England have never previously beaten either Italy or Uruguay at a major tournament, while they have never faced Costa Rica. Scotland have. They lost. Uruguay, who reached the semi-finals in 2010 and Italy, who knocked Hodgson's men out of Euro 2012, are ranked sixth and seventh respectively in the FIFA rankings while Costa Rica are thirty first in the world - eighteen places below England. 'With Uruguay and Italy, we almost have two number one seeds in our group,' Hodgson added, glumly. 'We know how good Italy are because we lost to them in the quarter-finals at the Euros. It does not surprise me at all to get a tough draw. But I am still very positive about the whole affair, as you never know.' Germany face Portugal in Group G, which also contains Ghana and the USA, who are managed by German legend Jurgen Klinsmann. Columbia, Japan, Greece and the Côte d'Ivoire make up Group C, whilst Group E consists of Switzerland, Ecuador, France and Honduras. Argentina have been placed in Group F with débutants Bosnia-Hercegovina, Iran and Nigeria - meaning Newcastle team-mates Fabricio Coloccini and Shola Ameobi may well be up against each other when the Argies take on The Super Eagles. Russia, who are managed by ex-England manager Fabio Capello, will play Belgium, Algeria and South Korea in their group. England, who were drawn in Group D by their World Cup-winning striker Geoff Hurst - thanks for that, Geoff - have not played Italy in the World Cup finals since losing a third-place play-off against the Azzurri in 1990. They last met Uruguay in the competition during the 1966 tournament, drawing 0-0 against She south Americans before going on to win their first and only World Cup.

The Scum suffered consecutive home league defeats for the first time since 2002 (and, only the third time in Premier League history), as yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle earned their first league win at Old Trafford since 1972. On that occasion, a week after they'd been humiliatingly dump out of the FA Cup by Hereford with the whole country watching on Match Of The Day, goals by Hallelujah John Tudor and Stewie, Stewie, Stewie, Stewie Barrowclough helped The Toon beat yer actual Charlton, Best, Law and the rest of them. This time, it was Yohan Cabaye who swept home the only goal for the Magpies - his third of the season - moments after Patrice Evra had headed against the post for the champions. David Moyes' calamitous start as The Scum's manager turned into a full-blown crisis as Cabaye ended Newcastle's forty one-year wait for an Old Trafford win. It meant The Scum have lost five times already this season and have collected just two points from their last four games. And we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for them? Sod that. Especially after we were treated to the sight of filthy cheating little shit Javier Hernandez throwing himself to the ground as if he's been pole-axed in blatant attempt to gain a penalty when not even touched by Fabricio Coloccini. It was, perhaps, little wonder that the reaction at the end was one of anger from the - notoriously fickle and uppity - home supporters, who watched virtually the same group of players they booed off today (those them that had bothered to stay to the final whistle, that is) clinch a twentieth title by eleven points less than seven months ago. When Evra's clearing header bounced back off Moussa Sissoko, allowing the Newcastle man a free run into the area, before cutting back a perfect cross to invite Cabaye's first-time finish on the hour, the discontent rippled round all the stadium but for a small corner where, predictably, the travelling Toon Army went effing bonkers off-it. Amid their glee, the Magpies fans delivered two of the cruellest jibes imaginable. They suggested that Moyes would be 'sacked in the morning' and that The Scum would be accompanying Sunderland into the Championship at the end of the season (in several delirious choruses of 'you're going down with The Mackems'). Filthy cheat Hernandez and Adnan Januzaj had efforts saved by Tim Krul, before Robin van Persie's header was, rightly, adjudged offside. After the midweek defeat by Everton, David Moyes's side now sit twelve points adrift of Premier League leaders The Arse. Newcastle, meanwhile, bounced back from their own midweek defeat at Swansea, and showed the sort of form which had, previously, seen them win four games on the trot jumping up to sixth place in the league. (They dropped back to seventh after Stottingtot Hotshots beat Relegation-Haunted lunderland at the Stadium of Shite in the day's late kick-off.) Geet cush, so it was. Of course, as bloody usual in the football world, hardly anybody mentioned how well Newcastle had played or gave them any credit whtsoever, concentrating instead of 'what's going wrong for The Scum?' 'Circumstances were against them' it was claimed, with Rooney sidelined, Carrick injured and all of their other midfielders congenitally useless. Sky Sports' resident arse-lick Jamie Redknapp - almost as big a diarrhoea-spouting waste-of-space as his Old Man - was asked if he had 'seen this result coming' and he claimed that he had. He then spent the next five minutes talking about the game and didn't mention Newcastle once, whilst slavvering on and on about how badly The Scum had played. It was, undeniably, a seriously dispiriting performance from The Scum. And, an excellent laugh for everybody else. Aside from fifteen minutes or so early in the second half, they simply failed to test Newcastle, who were solid at the back - with Mike Williamson and Coloccini is particularly outstanding form - solid in the middle (where Cheick Tioté was man of the match) and consistently dangerous on the break.
Three people are in police custody after an ex-Portsmouth player told an undercover reporter he had been involved in fixing football matches. Sam Sodje was filmed by an undercover reporter for the Sun on Sunday describing how he punched an opponent in a League One game to get a red card in exchange for seventy grand. He also said he arranged for another player to be paid thirty thousand smackers for getting a yellow card in a Championship match. Portsmouth Football Club claimed it it was 'shocked and saddened' by the allegations. In the video, which was filmed secretly, Sodje described how he deliberately got sent off in the match against Oldham Athletic in February 2013. He was also filmed claiming that he could 'rig' Premier League games and was prepared to fix matches at next year's World Cup although, he didn't say how he could achieve this. In a statement from Portsmouth Football Club, spokesman Colin Farmery said: 'If these serious allegations are true then we are extremely shocked and saddened by them, as match-fixing of any type goes to the heart of the integrity of the game. The player in question no longer plays for the club and we have not been contacted by the authorities, but of course we would cooperate fully with any inquiry.' The Sun on Sunday also reported that an Oldham player, named as Cristian Montano, had apologised to Sodje after failing to get a yellow card in the first half of a match against Wolves on 22 October. And it reported that Sodje's brother Akpo, a striker at Tranmere Rovers, had said that he would be prepared to be paid to be booked. Oldham Athletic said in a statement: 'Oldham Athletic Football Club has been made aware of the incident and allegation surrounding one of its players, Cristian Montano. The club will commence an immediate internal investigation to establish all the relevant facts of the case. The club is co-operating with other agencies in this matter and cannot comment on specific facts at this stage. The club will not be issuing any further statements at this time.' Tranmere Rovers said: 'Tranmere Rovers Football Club are aware of Sunday newspaper allegations regarding Akpo Sodje. As this is an ongoing investigation the club will make no further comment at this time.' Guy Whittingham, who was manager of Portsmouth at the time, said the claims 'brought back memories' of the match in which Sodje was sent off. He said: 'Sam came racing over - and I didn't actually see the incident at the time itself - but then you see it in the cold light of day afterwards and you see what he's done and you can't fathom out why he's done it.' Former Oldham manager Andy Ritchie told BBC News he was 'dismayed' at the allegations. He said: 'They are only allegations at the moment but if you're sent off in a game you're letting your players down, you're letting the team down because more often than not ten men lose a game of football. If you're in a tough situation, maybe a relegation dogfight, you could lose those three points - that could cost you a place in that league.' The National Crime Agency, which is investigating the claims, said: 'An active investigation is now under way and we are working closely with the Football Association and the Gambling Commission.' The Football League said it took claims of criminal activity 'extremely seriously' and would assist police in any way they could. Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey encouraged anyone with any evidence to report it to the police. he added added: 'We treat any allegations of criminal activity in our competitions with the utmost seriousness. We will be giving our full assistance to the police during their investigation.' The Gambling Commission and the Football Association both said they were aware of the investigation and were working with the NCA. In a separate NCA investigation into an alleged international betting syndicate, two non-league footballers were earlier this week charged with conspiracy to defraud. Michael Boateng and Hakeem Adelakun both play for Whitehawk FC, based in Brighton, in the Conference South. Two other men, Singapore national Chann Sankaran and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan who has dual UK and Singapore nationality, were charged with conspiracy to defraud in November. The pair have been bailed and are due to appear at Birmingham Magistrates' Court on 11 December.

On Friday evening, Razia Iqbal on BBC's Six O'Clock News said, in reference to The Specials' 'Nelson Mandela': 'The cultural connections between Britain and Nelson Mandela ran deep. This song [was] written for that huge seventieth birthday concert ...' No it fekking wasn't! Jesus, you expect the BBC to get their research right on something as fundamental as that. If they can't, then what hope do we have for ITN, Sky News et al? Nice, also, to see them during the same sequence interview the song's author, Jerry Dammers, and not even let the watching audience know who he is via a voice-over or an on-screen caption.
Meanwhile, Spectator columnist and odious, risible gobshite Rod Liddle has criticised the BBC for 'devoting too much airtime' to the death of Nelson Mandela, describing the story as 'famous nice black man dies.' What a lovely chap. Is hoping that someone dies, painfully, from cancer of the arsehole really so very wrong? Yeah, it probably is, actually. It's certain not the sort of thing that Madiba, a man who believed in forgiveness and reconciliation, would have considered for a moment. Liddle, the former editor of Radio 4's Today, who is no stranger to courting controversy with his column (in addition to, you know, being one), prompted a storm of criticism on Twitter with his comments posted hours after Mandela's death. Liddle said: 'For Christ's sake BBC, give it a bloody break for five minutes, will you? It's as if the poor bugger now has to bear your entire self-flagellating white post-colonial bien pensant guilt. Look! Famous nice black man dies! Let's re-run the entire history of South Africa. That's better than watching the country we're in being flattened by a storm.' Or, indeed, quoting Latin on the Internet to show what an expensive education you had and how it still failed, spectacularly, to prevent you from being a fraction of a human being. He added, somewhat unconvincingly: 'I'm sorry Nelson Mandela is dead. It happens quite often to people in their nineties who have been very ill, even famous people, but I'm sure that doesn't lessen the sadness for many of us. I never met the man but, on balance, I came to the conclusion that he was a force for good rather than ill. I think I came to that rather banal and broad brush conclusion twenty years ago, or maybe fifteen. So, I'm sorry he's dead, I wish it were otherwise.' The column generated fierce criticism on Twitter, with users describing the odious and vile Liddle as, you know, 'odious' and 'vile'. Obviously. One Richard Garside (no, me neither) published a 'Rod Liddle decision tree', describing Liddle as 'an attention seeking wind-up merchant.' Which, in Richard's particular case, appears to have worked. Spectator editor Fraser Nelson (no relation), discussing Liddle in an interview with the Gruniad Morning Star earlier this year, said that the most common reaction he gets from Spectator readers is '"don't tone down Rod." Twitter has got a habit of vastly amplifying the concerns of whose who have spent their lives being wound up,' said Nelson. And, to be fair, he's probably right. 'Twitter is not the vox populi; it is a very effective way of getting a point across to a journalist. But there is a temptation in politics and the media to over react to Twitter.' And, on that score, he's definitely right, Twitter is not The Final Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things, despite what the Gruniad Morning Star would like us to believe to the contrary. But, that doesn't make Liddle any less of bell-end smear, of course. The Spectator had to pay over five grand in fines and compensation in June last year after a Liddle comment piece breached reporting restrictions during the trial of Stephen Lawrence's killers.

One final thing whilst we're on the subject. As the news of Nelson Mandela's death broke, there were inevitable reminders from The Left - and, to be fair, some on The Right - that the Conservative Party's stance towards the hated Apartheid regime in South Africa during the 1980s was not, to say the least, something which its current members would be particularly happy with. Most infamously, there were the Hang Nelson Mandela posters, pamphlets and badges. One image currently doing the rounds on the Interwerb in particular contains two allegations about David Cameron's time as a young Tory in the 1980s. You can see it being passed around on Twitter and Facebook as we speak. Now, this is important. The first claim is flat-out untrue. The Hang Nelson Mandela merchandise was produced by a faction of the notoriously extreme Federation of Conservative Students, an organisation which was fiercely libertarian and anti-Communist. Former member Harry Phibbs - now a councillor for Hammersmith & Fulham - said that its members were often frustrated that 'the Thatcher government wasn't Thatcherite enough.' In 1985, when the image in question was created, David Cameron was nineteen, and by all accounts, pretty uninterested in politics whilst studying (and partying) at university. He wasn't - as far as anyone can confirm - part of the FCS, let alone 'a top member' of the Tory party's radical and scummy youth group as has been claimed. Phibbs has explained to the Independent that the images were created by 'a small splinter faction' of this, itself, quite small group as a parody of the 'Free Nelson Mandela' badges which many left-wing students were wearing at the time - this blogger included (I think I've still got mine somewhere). There is, certainly, no evidence that David Cameron was part of this faction. Phibbs, by the way, also wrote an article for the FCS paper in 1986 alleging that Harold McMillan was 'a war criminal' for co-operating with the Soviet Union during WWII, a charge so ridiculous and offensive that it gave a thoroughly fed-up Norman Tebbitt, then the Conservative Party Chairman, no choice but to shut the FCS down and give them all a damned good slippering for their naughty ways. The second charge made, that Cameron took an all-expenses paid trip to South Africa in 1989 while working on policy for the Conservatives, and that this was paid for by a lobbying company which opposed sanctions, is true. Many Tories opposed sanctions during the 1980s, something a lot of them - including Cameron - have publicly regretted since then. In 2006, he said: 'The mistakes my party made in the past with respect to relations with the ANC and sanctions on South Africa make it all the more important to listen now. The fact that there is so much to celebrate in the new South Africa is not in spite of Mandela and the ANC, it is because of them - and we Conservatives should say so clearly today.' It's up to you, dear blog reader, how much you believe the sincerity of this apology for what was a murky time in the Conservative Party's recent past, but fact is he has apologised. For what it's worth, this blogger's view is that we all make mistakes and, so long as you recognise them, they shouldn't really be held against you. Again, Nelson Mandela himself, the man who helped to reconcile a nation at war with itself into what modern South Africa had become, would almost certainly have approved.
So, anyway dear blog reader, there's only really been one news story for that last couple of days - rightly - which means that the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day rather selects itself. Very few songs actually change the world to any measurable degree. In fact, this blogger can only think of two (and, one of them isn't very good). This is the other one (particularly after it was imported back into Afirca and became a symbol of defiance against a vile and hated regime). Tata Madiba. Are you so blind that you cannot see? Are you so deaf that you cannot hear? Are you so dumb that you cannot speak?

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