Thursday, January 09, 2014

And When You Speak, I Still Hear The Fire

New images from the Sherlock series three finale have been unveiled. His Last Vow - written by The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat - will be broadcast this Sunday on BBC1. The two images feature Sherlock, John Watson and new villain Charles Augustus Magnussen (played by the very excellent Lars Mikkelsen).
Sherlock's third series débuted on BBC1 on New Year's Day, attracting an impressive overnight audience of 9.2 million viewers. The show has since posted the largest-ever increase from overnights to consolidated final figures, with an addition of over three-and-a-half million timeshift viewers. This means that final figures for The Empty Hearse reached a properly staggering 12.7 million (or, a fifth of the entire population of the United Kingdom, if you want to put it that way). And, of course, that figure still doesn't include those who watched the episode on iPlayer. Charlotte Moore, the Controller of BBC1, said: 'Holy shit! That's staggering!' Well, no, she didn't, Charlotte is clearly far too polite for such unladylike utterances as that. But she could certainly have been forgiven if she had. Which she didn't, just want to make that clear, again. What she actually said was: 'I'm very proud to have Sherlock on BBC1 and see it topping the charts as the biggest-ever consolidated audience ever, it demonstrates that ambition and quality matter to our audience.'  Which is a bit more boring than 'holy shit! That's staggering!' but is, at least, factually accurate. Sue Vertue, the producer of Sherlock for Hartswood Films, added: 'When we began Sherlock, and it was an instant hit, we thought it couldn't get better. But each series has outdone the last and this is our biggest rating yet. Trying to believe this is really happening is a job in itself!'
Sherlock will only be made into a movie spin-off if there is 'a pressing narrative reason', yer man Steven Moffat has said. Speaking at the BAFTA screening of the third series finale, His Last Vow, The Moffinator suggested that the line between cinema and television is becoming increasingly blurred. 'It would just be, "How does it make it better to go to the cinema?'" - that would be the question,' he said. 'Everyone knows that cinema and television - in terms of production quality, in terms of everything really - are getting closer together, so how would we make it better if we put it on the big-screen? Yes, you could take it to movies and then you'd get one every three years as opposed to three every two years - why is that better?' Moffat his very self also cited the box-office success of Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary special, which received a limited cinema release. 'The Doctor Who special we did, The Day Of The Doctor, we put in the cinemas and on that weekend it came number two at the American box office,' Moffat noted. 'That's a TV programme - number two at the American box office for the weekend it came out, with limited distribution. That's television handing cinema its own arse!'
Yer actual Sherlock's fourth and fifth series have already been plotted out, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has suggested. Speaking at the screening for His Last Vow, Moffat reassured anxious fans of the massively popular BBC crime drama that he was 'already thinking ahead' to future episodes. 'Rather excitingly, Mark and I, for no particular reason, we just got out of the rain and sat at the top of the production bus and we started plotting out what we could do in the future,' said Moffat his very self. 'We plotted out the whole of series four and five. So we have got plans - but our plans don't tend to be, "Let's blow up the world or cast the most famous person in the world", they tend to be, "What exciting twists and turns can we add to this?" And I think we've got some crackers. The ideas we had that day, I thought, were the best we've ever had.' A fourth series of Sherlock has not yet been officially confirmed by the BBC, although it is expected to be announced very soon. The filming for series four will, obviously, depend on the schedules of its lead stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, although both have suggested that they are 'committed' to the future of the series. Moffat also said that Sherlock will return for its fourth series 'as quickly as possible.' He noted that Benny and Marty are 'apparently in movies! So we've got to schedule around them, but we'll get them made as quickly as we can.' Producer Sue Vertue added: 'We're working on it.' Sherlock premiered its third series on New Year's Day, following a two-year wait after the conclusion of the second series. 'We couldn't get together before then,' said Vertue. 'We did worry that [in] two years, you might forget about us, but clearly not.' Moffat also suggested that the hiatus may have actually contributed to Sherlock's recent smash ratings success. 'Sherlock started very well, the second series did better than the first and now the third is doing better than the second,' he said. 'It shows the benefits of starvation - put things on less often.' Moffat also brushed aside 'the views of some critics and viewers' (according to a typically shit-stirring agenda-soaked piece from some louse of no importance in the Gruniad Morning Star) who, allegedly, found the opening episode, The Empty Hearse, 'too self-referential.' Well, what a pity for them. Moffat publicly ripped this glake a new arsehole when noting: 'It has had a brilliant response. I read the press, it is not true. It is not a detective show. It is a show about a detective. It is a show that celebrates a clever man. So we make the show look complex.'

On a similar note, Moffat has said that a ninth series of Doctor Who will be broadcast in 2015. Like the show's upcoming eighth series, the 2015 episodes will be shown in a single, uninterrupted, run Moffat told Doctor Who Magazine. 'We're not going to do splits [in series eight], and the same format will repeat exactly the following year like that - so it will be the traditional form,' said the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama's head writer.
One of the criticisms levelled at the new season of Sherlock - by whinging arseholes with an agenda - is that it has become 'overly influenced' by fan-fiction and the numerous (and increasingly bizarre) ideas which have emerged from the diseased minds of obsessive viewers on the Internet in the two years between series. Sherlock's return in The Empty Hearse featured some rather far-fetched explanations of how he could have faked his own death, as put forward by a fictional fan group, while The Sign of Three fulfilled various fantasies about John Watson and Sherlock by having the detective publicly declare his love for his friend, and getting the pair drunk together. But The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat is adamant that there's a one-way flow of ideas in the relationship between Sherlock writers and fans and that blogs and social media sites do not help provide story lines for the show. 'No, we don’t get our plotlines from Tumblr,' Moffat told a member of the audience at the BAFTA screening. 'I've been on Tumblr once - a while ago - and it seems just to be a place where people who really want to kill me gather,' he said. 'I don't know why that put me off ...' if you think that's bad, Steven, you should check out some of the knobcheese obsessive ignorant wankers on Facebook. No, on second thoughts, better not. But Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) also made it clear that he was 'pleased' that the show inspired viewers to create their own fiction and said it reflected his own route into television writing. 'The creative response of fans is amazing, it's extraordinary,' said Moffat. 'And it's not an exaggeration to say it's the cradle of the next generation of television and fiction producers – really it's hugely important. But it's a one-way thing. What happens is – and I was part of this, I am part of this – is you see something you love and you start doing your own version of it, you start disagreeing with the actual version, you think "My version's better", and then you discover you've made something entirely different and you go off and do your own thing. I think it's exciting and thrilling and wonderful that you get that creative responsibility with Sherlock. It's how I began – I responded to Doctor Who and Sherlock and look how far I've come. I find that exciting but, no, interacting with fans, that's not how it works.'

The Moffinator, his very self has refused to rule out an appearance from Matt Smith in Sherlock. Moffat told Zap2It that while he is wary of 'stunt casting', he is not opposed to the former Doctor Who actor joining the detective drama. 'Nothing is impossible, but it's not something we're particularly striving for,' he explained. 'There's enough inevitable crossover talk between those two, [so] it might be disconcerting for either of [Matt or Benedict Cumberbatch] to appear in the other's show.' The writer added that he would only cast Smudger in Sherlock if there was 'a perfect part for him. Stunt casting doesn't work, so it would have to be just because he was overwhelmingly right for it,' Moffat continued. 'I love working with Matt. He's a phenomenal actor. I'd jump at the chance to work with him again. I [just] don't know how likely that is to be on the set of Sherlock.'
Matt Smith has admitted that part of him regrets leaving the TARDIS. In the DVD extra for the Christmas special episode, The Time Of The Doctor, Smudger reveals that part of him would have liked to have stayed in the role for another year. The reason? The burgeoning chemistry with co-star Jenna Coleman. 'Part of me, genuinely, feels that I sort of wish we have had another go at it, another year because, I feel we have really come on and sort of evolved,' he tells the actress in an interview. We have had a good time making it. It's been really fun to make it,' he says of the episode. In the footage Coleman can be seen joking with Smith about leaving the role. 'You dumped me,' she says.
Call The Midwife will return to BBC1 later this month. The period drama's third series will run for eight weeks from Sunday 19 January at 8pm. The series will be followed at 9pm by the new series The Musketeers starring Luke Pasqualino and Peter Capaldi. The recent Christmas episode of Call The Midwife was watched by 9.2m viewers. The new run will see the midwives moving into a new home, following the demolition of Nonnatus House in the festive episode. The Musketeers will be up against against Mr Selfridge. ITV's period series also returns on 19 January at 9pm.
Kaiser Chiefs singer Ricky Wilson has admitted that he signed up to The Voice to 'sell more records.' Interesting theory. I predict a diet - of chart action, that is - for Ricky and his pals, personally.

Midsomer Murders was the most-watched show on Wednesday evening, according to overnight figures. ITV's crime drama attracted 5.08 million at 8pm. This is considerably higher that the show's Christmas Eve eve episode which had an overnight 3.66m ratings, but down from its last regular episode in January 2013, which was seen by 5.64m. On BBC1, The ONE Show was watched by 4.63m at 7pm, while Live at the Apollo had 2.23m at 9.30pm. BBC2's Stargazing Live continued with 2.43m at 8pm, followed by the discussion show Back to Earth with 1.94m at 9pm. Fergal Keane's Hidden World of Britain's Immigrants was seen by 1.50m at 10pm. On Channel Four, Restoration Man appealed to 1.68m at 8pm. Twenty Four Hours in A&E interested 2.29m at 9pm. A repeat of Benefits Street - which seems to have got many people frothing at the mouth over some shit or other than I don't care about - was seen by 1.43m at 10pm. Channel Five's Bigger Body Squad brought in eight hundred thousand punters at 8pm. Celebrity Big Brother's live 'fake' eviction had an audience of 2.40 million sad victims of society at 9pm, while Hens Behaving Badly was seen by eight hundred and fifty two thousand viewers at 10pm. On E4, the first episode of The Tomorrow People attracted 1.08m at 9pm.

Birds Of A Feather is still a right load of old shite - some things never change - but it continues to top the Thursday ratings outside of soaps. The ITV sitcom dropped over seven hundred thousand viewers from last week's opener but still had 6.77 million watching at 8.30pm. Words, frankly, fail me. Benidorm also dipped by seven hundred thousand from last week to 5.29m at 9pm. On BBC1, the David Tennant-narrated Dolphins: Spy In The Pod fell by over a million from last week to 3.56m at 8pm. Silent Witness was down by nearly a million too, attracting 5.26m at 9pm. BBC2's Great British Garden Revival was watched by 1.60m at 7pm. Stargazing Live concluded with 2.53m at 8pm, while Back To Earth brought in 1.73m at 9pm. Charlie Brooker's latest series of Weekly Wipe garnered 1.18m at 10pm after a repeat of Qi had an audience of 1.31m at 9.30pm. On Channel Four, Supersize Vs Superskinny launched a new series with 1.44m at 8pm. The Undateables also returned with two million punters at 9pm. New series What Happens In Sunny Beach gathered nine hundred and twenty five thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's World's Worst Holiday Horrors brought in nine hundred and seventy five thousand at 8pm. Celebrity Big Brother continued with 1.97m at 9pm, while Botched Up Bodies interested 1.28m at 10pm.

One of the best moments on the BBC's peerless three-night Stargazing Live was a story told by yer actual Brian Cox (no, the other one) and confirmed by NASA's Carolyn Porco (who, as well as being one of the world's leading planetary scientists is, also, a huge Be-Atles fan). It seems that when NASA were planning to send the unmanned spacecraft Voyagers 1 and 2 off on their epic journey to the outer planets (and, ultimately, the stars) in 1977 the decision was taken to include on the spacecraft a golden record which contains pictures and sounds of Earth, along with symbolic directions for playing the record and data detailing the location of Earth. In case anyone wants to come and visit, obviously. The record was intended to be a combination of a time capsule and an interstellar message to any civilisation, alien or far-future human, which may one day recover either of the Voyager craft (both of which are now, of course, on the verge of leaving our solar system and entering interstellar space). The contents of the record were selected by a committee which was chaired by the great Carl Sagan. The decision was also taken to include some samples of our Earth music on the disc: These included Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B Goode' along with pieces by Beethoven, Guan Pinghu, Mozart, Stravinsky, Blind Willie Johnson and Kesarbai Kerkar. The inclusion of a snatch of Bach's 'Brandenberg Concerto' prompted the witty Sagan to, famously, joke: 'I think that would just be showing off!' However, the committee had, apparently, wanted to include a Be-Atles song on the disc (they were a popular beat combo of the 1960s, dear blog reader, you might have heard of them) and chose 'Here Comes The Sun'. They then went to the song's publishers who, amazingly, turned them down. George Harrison only found out about the proposal a year later when details emerged in Sagan's co-authored book Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record. George his very self was, reportedly, cosmically pissed-off that no one had bothered to ask him whether he fancied one of his songs roaming the universe, potentially, for all eternity.

Carolyn - one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite popular scientists, incidentally - subsequently posted a photo online of her very self dining at some posh London restaurant or other sharing a glass of plonk with not only Foxy Coxy but, also, Eric Idle his very self.
Pfft. Some planetary scientists get all the best jobs!

And, from that, to this -
Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks's secretary has denied allegations that the former News International chief executive tried to help her get a fresh start in Australia as 'payment in kind' for helping to remove seven boxes of notebooks and other material from the company's archive. Cheryl Carter also categorically denied to police that she had tried to obstruct the course of justice on behalf of her former boss by concealing boxes from Scotland Yard investigators in the wake of the closure of the Scum of the World in July 2011, the Old Bailey heard on Wednesday. In an interview in January 2012, Carter told Detective Sergeant John Massey there was 'no substance' in any of the allegations. He asked her whether she thought the removal of the seven boxes and the decision to take them home 'might be interpreted as being suspicious or dangerous or illegal or criminal in some way.' Carter replied 'No.' In the interview read out to the jury in the phone-hacking trial, Massey then put it to her: 'You didn't think that taking possession of seven boxes marked up as "Rebekah Brooks" the day after the paper had announced that it was closing, and then getting rid of them, was something that would put you in a very difficult position?' Carter replied: 'No, because I knew they were mine, so I knew that I was going to return anything, which I did, that was hers. Because in my mind, I wasn't doing anything wrong.' The jury heard on Tuesday that the Carter family had contemplated emigrating to Australia as far back as 2003 and had got visas to allow legal entry in 2007 which would last five years. When she was arrested on 6 January 2012, Carter and her family had tickets to move to Australia permanently two weeks later. DC Massey put it to her that this 'could be seen' as suspicious. 'The subsequent decision by yourself and your family to move to Australia, with some employment, initiated and assisted in some way by Rebekah Brooks of News International. That again there is nothing suspicious in that?' Carter said this was 'not true' as she wanted to launch her make-up business. 'No, because I don't really want to work for the paper [in Australia], I need a job, I have lost my livelihood,' she told police. 'I want to do my make-up, so if they turn around or whatever and say "you are not working there" that is fine, I want to do my make-up out there.' DC Massey then said: 'So, that is not a payment in kind for you having dutifully got rid of some property that could have caused serious difficulties in the police investigation?' Carter replied: 'One hundred per cent no, on my children's life. No. Absolutely not. That is not what I am about.' On Tuesday the jury heard that Carter had phoned the News International archivist, Nick Mays, requesting the return of seven boxes which contained notebooks and some personal effects belonging to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks. Carter had said she had initially got a call from the archivist in April 2011 requesting her to collect the boxes because the company wanted to downsize its archive. Mays told police he did not make this call and denied that he had any instruction to downsize the archive, the jury heard. The jury heard that Carter had told police the boxes contained thirty notebooks belonging to her, some cuttings relating to her beauty column in the Sun and some memorabilia, plus three notepads belonging to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks that she returned to the News International office. The jury also heard that the police had alleged that Carter was planning a fresh start in Australia and this may have been a 'reward' for concealing the boxes. She was asked by police in her final interview if it was true that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks had helped her to find a new job in Australia in one of billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's papers. 'Yes, she spoke to John Hart again who is in charge of some of the Australian papers. I do not know what she said but when I went there, they said "Look, you know, you can start as a general secretary if you want to,"' Carter said. She said the job had a salary of thirty thousand smackers, less than half the sixty six thousand knicker salary she was on when acting as executive assistant to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks in her role as chief executive officer of News International. Carter told police there was 'no firm offer' and she intended to emigrate to Australia with her family and hoped to launch her own range of cosmetics in the country. She already had a range, Famous, carried by Superdrug in the UK and she had been offered a chance to launch these there with her husband, Jeff. 'They have not offered me the best thing they said is that I can start as a junior secretary if I want and work my way up. But like I say I was going to do the make-up out there, that was mine and Jeff's intention to try and get the brands into Australia and build a business out there,' said Carter. She repeated to the police that she had returned all the material which related to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks to the office and the police could have seen that when they sealed and searched her office following the executive's resignation. 'Anything, that was remotely [to do with] Rebekah Brooks went back to News International and the police could have looked at,' Carter replied. Carter and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks have both been charged with conspiring to pervert the course of justice by concealing seven boxes from officers investigating phone-hacking. They both deny the charge. The trial continues.

Reece Shearsmith is to portray the convicted murderer Malcolm Webster in a forthcoming drama for ITV. The Widower will follow Webster over a thirteen-year period during which he was very naughty, murdered his first wife and attempted to kill his second before fleeing and going on the run. His wife Claire, who he poisoned then killed in a staged car crash, will be played by Sheridan Smith. The Good Wife's Archie Panjabi also appears. The drama will be written by Mrs Biggs and Lucan screenwriter Jeff Pope. 'This is a quite extraordinary story, far more chilling than any fiction,' said Pope, who co-wrote hit movie Philomena with Steve Coogan. 'Webster was a banal, almost benign face of evil. He was so clever at hiding his tracks and presenting a plausible front to his friends, family and colleagues that he was able to do what he did without really attracting suspicion. The courage and tenacity of Webster's second wife Felicity, and his last intended victim Simone, is all that stood between him and potentially more murders.' Webster originally from Surrey, was extremely jailed for a minimum of thirty years in 2011 for murdering Claire Morris in Aberdeenshire in 1994. He was also convicted of staging a similar attempt to murder his second wife, Felicity Drumm, in New Zealand. The couple, who married in 1997, were involved in a suspect car crash in 1999. Webster disappeared and then reappeared four years later, back in Scotland, where he began a relationship with the nurse Simone Banerjee, who will be played by Panjabi. Waking The Dead's Kate Fleetwood will play Drumm, while John Hannah has been cast as Detective Inspector Charlie Henry, who investigated the case. The real Henry will act as police advisor on the production. Drumm and Banerjee will also act as consultants. 'The combination of tautly written scripts and a fantastic cast makes this a really exciting addition to our 2014 drama slate,' said ITV's director of drama commissioning Steve November.

Star Trek actress Zoe Saldana will play the lead in NBC's forthcoming mini-series of Rosemary's Baby. Saldana will play the young pregnant wife who becomes convinced that she is the target of a Satanic cult. Mia Farrow famously played the role in Roman Polanski's 1968 film version, a particular favourite of this blogger. NBC's Quinn Taylor called Saldana 'one of our most gifted actresses' adding that she had 'the perfect combination of spirit and gravitas' for the role. Based on Ira award-winning Levin's 1967's novel, the four-part drama will be directed by Oscar-nominated Polish director Agnieszka Holland, who has worked on The Wire and the US version of The Killing. 'With Zoe leading the cast under the direction of Agnieszka Holland, this re-imagined event mini-series is off to a great start,' added Taylor. Saldana recently completed shooting the lead role in the forthcoming Nina Simone biopic, Nina.

The Museum of London has announced a Sherlock Holmes exhibition for later this year. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character - and his relationship with London - will be charted in the six-month exhibition, which opens in October. Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch's turn as the detective will be included in the project, along with many other movie and TV versions. Original issues of The Strand magazine - in which the majority of the stories were first published - will be among the artefacts inside the exhibition, along with artwork by Sidney Paget, who provided Holmes with his famous profile and deerstalker hat. A spokesperson told Radio Times: 'I can promise that Benedict Cumberbatch will feature, in some shape or form.' They added: 'This is just the tip of the iceberg - there will be big announcements later in the year.'
A radio comedy starring yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch is up for two awards at the BBC Audio Drama Awards. Radio 4's Cabin Pressure, by John Finnemore, is listed in both the scripted comedy and scripted comedy-drama categories. Acclaimed stage actor Simon Russell Beale and former EastEnders actress Lacey Turner are among the acting nominees. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on 26 January at BBC Broadcasting House. In Cabin Pressure, Cumberbatch his very self stars alongside Roger Allam and Stephanie Cole as a pilot for a one-plane, charter airline. Beale, about to appear in King Lear at the National Theatre, is up for best actor for his role in Radio 3's Copenhagen. He faces competition from Lee Ross (King David, Radio 3) and Joseph Millson (The Real George Orwell: Jura, Radio 4). Best actress nominees are Carly Bawden (The Colour of Milk, Radio 4), Christine Bottomley (My Boy, Radio 4) and Marcia Warren (Tony And Rose, Radio 4). Turner's best supporting actress nomination is for Radio 4's The One About The Social Worker. Also shortlisted are Lia Williams (, Radio 4) and Claire Rushbrook (King David). Best supporting actor nominees are Shaun Dooley (The Gothic Imagination: Frankenstein, Radio 4), Geoffrey Bretton (Imaginary Boys, Radio 4) and David Rasche (Warrior Class, Radio 4). Now in their third year, the awards 'pay tribute to the cultural importance of audio drama, on air and online.' This year's ceremony will be hosted by Lenny Henry and BBC director general Tony Hall. Hopefully, Hall will take to opportunity to ask Lenny if he wouldn't mind, awfully, sodding off back to the 1980s when he was last funny.
Tulisa Contostavlos is to stand trial later this year on a charge of, allegedly, supplying a class A drug. The singer's trial will take place on 14 July, the day after her twenty sixth birthday. Contostavlos of Friern Barnet, is charged with helping an undercover reporter obtain cocaine for eight hundred and sixty smackers. She has denied the charges. She appeared up a'fore the beak at Southwark Crown Court alongside her co-defendant, Michael Coombs, for a ten minute preliminary hearing. Contostavlos denies being 'concerned with the supply of 13.9 grams of cocaine' to the Sun on Sunday undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood, between 20 May and 24 May 2013. Coombs, from Enfield, has denied a charge of supplying the drug on 23 May. Judge Alistair McCreath renewed their unconditional bail. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

FIFA has moved quickly to play down claims from its own general secretary that the Qatar 2022 World Cup will not take place in the summer. The sport's governing body stressed that no final decision will be taken until after the 2014 World Cup and only after a lengthy consultation. It comes after Jerome Valcke told Radio France: 'The dates for the World Cup will not be June and July.' He suggested it could take place between 15 November and 15 January. FIFA president, the odious Sepp Blatter, had already said the tournament would take place in November or December, with organisers in Qatar still hopeful of hosting it in June and July. Following Valcke's Radio France interview, a FIFA spokesperson said that the general secretary had only been expressing 'his view.' The spokesperson added: 'The precise event date is still subject to an ongoing consultation process which involves all main event stakeholders, including both the international football community - FIFA confederations, member associations, leagues, clubs, players - as well as FIFA's commercial partners. The consultation process will not be rushed and will be given the necessary time to consider all of the elements relevant for a decision. No decision will be taken before the upcoming 2014 World Cup Brazil as agreed by the FIFA executive committee.' The Qatar 2022 Supreme committee said they 'will be ready to host the World Cup regardless of the outcome of the consultation.' Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce said that he was 'totally surprised' at Valcke's statement and confirmed the decision had to be taken by the executive committee. The scheduling of the tournament has been debated since it was controversially awarded to Qatar in December 2010. Fears have been raised that the summer heat in the Gulf emirate would be dangerous for players and fans alike. Valcke said: 'If you play between 15 November and the end of December, that's the time when the weather conditions are best, when you can play in temperatures equivalent to a warm spring season in Europe, averaging twenty five degrees. That would be perfect for playing football.' If the World Cup does go ahead at the end of 2022, it could pose problems for the Africa Cup of Nations, which is scheduled for January 2023. Blatter said two months ago that a firm decision on dates for the 2022 World Cup will be made in December 2014. Qatar organisers have indicated it would be happy to switch to a winter World Cup. Failed bidders Australia have vowed to seek compensation from FIFA if the 2022 World Cup is played in winter. None of the nineteen World Cups to date have ever been played outside the months of May, June or July.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United and Sunderland have come close as possible to calling Northumbria Police a bunch of lying liars without actually using those words. The two clubs - bitter local rivals - have dubbed claims by Northumbria Police that the force cannot alter kick-off times as 'false and absurd.' Northumbria Police had claimed that it 'cannot direct changes' to kick-off times or control ticket and travel restrictions in a statement. Both clubs want to have later kick-off times which would suit broadcasters. Fans of the clubs joined forces to protest against plans to make away supporters travel to matches only on official supporter coaches. The row comes ahead of the Tyne-Wear derby at St James' Park on 1 February. Northumbria Police said the 'transportation issue' had been 'discussed' between both clubs and the police and the decision was was aimed at 'ensuring the safety of their supporters.' The clubs allege that 'discussions' such as they were, amounted to the police proposing a compromise, the compromise being that they would tell the clubs what to do and the club would, you know, do it. Assistant Chief Constable Jo Farrell claimed: 'As we have said previously Northumbria Police cannot direct changes to kick-off times or control the issue of tickets and how supporters travel to matches. The condition of ticketing and transportation to St James' Park is a contractual issue between the club and supporters and is not something Northumbria Police is involved in. We cannot and will not direct supporters on how they travel to the game.' One or two people even believed him. In a joint response, the clubs said that terms and conditions of ticket sales for the 1 February clash, which previously stated Sunderland supporters could only travel to the game on official transport, would be changed. Both clubs said that they were 'surprised and disappointed with the statement issued by Northumbria Police in which the force claims that the police cannot direct changes to kick-off times for the clubs' fixtures, referring in particular to the derby games.' The statement added: 'Over a number of years both clubs have made repeated representations to Northumbria Police to try and reach agreement over kick-off times to enable a traditional 3:00pm kick-off or later to enable broadcasters to give the game consideration in the majority of their time slots for live coverage. In recent years Northumbria Police have rejected every request made by the clubs for later kick-off slots including Saturday 5:30pm, Sunday 4:00pm and Monday 8:00pm.' Martyn McFadden, the editor of the Sunderland fanzine A Love Supreme, said: 'I think it's a great decision, I think the club has listened to the fans and they've realised that it's better to consider the fans in this situation. The statement the police put out was almost unbelievable, so the two clubs have got together and the two sets of fans have got together and it's no longer happening, so I'm delighted for all the fans.' Both clubs said that they 'have evidence in the form of considerable written correspondence that Northumbria Police would not be prepared to police the evening fixtures requested previously, as well as their confirmation to the Premier League in writing in January 2013 that the force would not support derby matches with kick-off times later than 1:30pm' all of which makes the police statement appear to be, at the very best, a load of bollocks. The clubs said: 'For Northumbria Police therefore to issue a statement stating that they do not direct changes to kick-off times is, quite frankly, false and absurd. In light of Northumbria Police's latest statement, Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC will now inform the Premier League that all future fixtures between the two clubs will be available for kick-off times to suit the clubs, the League and their broadcast partners, if applicable, and will expect Northumbria Police to police these games, especially given the considerable costs both clubs incur for such special police services.'

After the festive holidays comes, inevitably, the new year comedown. In an e-mail headlined: Coronation Street – Exclusive Screening Invitiation, ITV is summoning journalists to Salford on 10 January to view the 'final episodes of one of the best-loved characters in British Soap.' The broadcaster be will screening Hayley Cropper's 'moving final scenes' as the popular character loses her long battle with terminal cancer. Corrie producers are promising 'a painful, tear-jerking exit' for Hayley's long-speculated demise, which viewers had been spared over Christmas. 'A light lunch will be provided' to leaven the experience for the assembled reviewers, the e-mail adds. Oh good, that'll cheer everybody up after an hour of death.
According to Neil Sean's The Green Room gossip column in the Metro, 'Kerry Katona fans are upset about the media's reaction to Nigella's court appearance. "Kerry got blasted for her lifestyle - yet Nigella remains unscathed" they whinge.' Two - absolutely horrifying - observations about this. Firstly, apparently, Kerry Katona has 'fans'? And, secondly, at least one of them knows how to spell 'unscathed'? The world has gone quite mad.

A TV presenter has been awarded compensation for sexual harassment having been sacked for making a rude hand gesture to studio colleagues live on air after they called her a 'whore' through her earpiece. Charlie Vernon lost her job on the Jewellery Maker show on the Gems TV satellite channel when a viewer complained after she gestured with her middle finger. She has been awarded £3,250 after successfully suing her former employer for sexual harassment at Birmingham employment tribunal. She lost her claim for unfair dismissal and victimisation against the Redditch-based TV firm, Genuine Gemstone Company, which had sacked her for bringing it into disrepute. The presenter told the tribunal the finger incident was sparked by verbal abuse from studio colleagues working on the programme, which is broadcast on a Sky satellite channel. 'I was shocked and extremely offended to be called "a fucking big whore" and "a bitch" on my earpiece,' said Vernon, who has worked for CBBC, GMTV and Channel Five. 'There's always the odd distraction joke among the camera crews during transmission, but it's usually innocent and friendly. I've never been insulted before by such crude language.' Vernon had worked for the firm for two years. She told the tribunal she had not realised her response had been seen by viewers, who were unaware of the earpiece abuse. But one viewer said she and her twelve-year-old daughter had been watching the programme and regarded the gesture as 'disgusting.' So she whinged about it and got the lass sacked. It's to be hoped the viewer is proud of herself. Tribunal judge Victoria Dean was shown a ten-minute extract of the programme, dealing with antique bronze and copper items, which showed Vernon laughing nervously as she handled the jewellery, then becoming angry. Paul Roberts, representing the company, said Vernon's gesture could have brought it into disrepute. But, given the fact that it probably had an audience of about six punters at the time, probably didn't. He said the firm denied her allegations and said that she worked freelance and was not as an employee. He also claimed the presenter had been 'threatened with losing her job' two weeks earlier. Vernon said that she had been an employee of the company and had been sent to India to handle gems as part of her training. After a two-day hearing Dean said the tribunal agreed Vernon had been an employee and that she had been sexually harassed, and awarded her £3,250. But her claim for unfair dismissal was rejected when the tribunal ruled that the TV firm had acted 'within the range of reasonable responses' by dismissing her for misconduct. The legal claim for victimisation was also rejected by Dean, who described it as a one-off incident.
Is this the greatest headline ever? From the Daily Scum Mail: Ex-wife of The Road writer Cormac McCarthy pulled silver handgun from her genitals during argument with boyfriend over space aliens. Oh, not that old chestnut again?

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, here's (if you will) a postcard from the past. Sing, Roddy.


Becca said...

Nothing really related to anything specific, but I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your blog. I really do look forward to seeing your links pop up in my Facebook newsfeed. Cheers!!

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping said...

It's nice to know that *somebody's* reading it!!