Thursday, February 27, 2014

L Is For Lamentations, Labels, Lies And Lyrics Of Love

Yer actual Peter Capaldi his very self surprised attendees of a BBC Worldwide event on Monday, when he turned up on stage in his recently unveiled Doctor Who costume. The actor emerged from the TARDIS (not the real one, obviously, because that would have been against all the laws of God and man) and spoke, briefly, with presenter Graham Norton at the annual showcase taking place in Liverpool. The twelfth-that's-really-fourteenth incarnation of The Doctor sports a dark blue Crombie coat with red lining, dark blue trousers, a white shirt and black Doctor Martens boots. Of the outfit - created by costume designer Howard Burden - Peter said: 'He's woven the future from the cloth of the past. Simple, stark, and back to basics. No frills, no scarf, no messing, just one hundred per cent Rebel Time Lord.'
And, here's a picture of Peter looking extremely cold on location on the latest Doctor Who episode in production. Someone give that lad a hot water bottle.
Meanwhile, the BBC News website interviewed The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat at the same event, highlights of which can be read here. In this, The Moffat his very self suggested that American remakes of his BBC shows would 'not work.' Moffat is the executive producer and head writer on Doctor Who and co-creator of Sherlock - two of the UK's most successful television exports. Talking to the website, The Moffinator said: 'Sherlock and Doctor Who are both doing rather well but they couldn't be more definitively British. They're obtusely British. They're about as British as it gets.' When asked if any overseas networks had approached him to remake Doctor Who, he went on to say: 'If anyone were to ask me, I'd say it's an absolutely insane idea. You couldn't have more than one Doctor Who in the world. It would just be dreadful.' Moffat also reiterated that he had declined CBS's approach to remake Sherlock, before the network went ahead with their own Holmes series Elementary regardless. 'We don't own Sherlock Holmes, we don't even own the idea of updating Sherlock Holmes,' Steven noted. 'That's been done before - several times actually. So there's no action to be taken.' Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) also went on to say that even though Doctor Who is a worldwide hit, audiences will mostly watch shows made by their own country, stating: 'There are no shows from America that are big hits in Britain. They're all minor hits. Your mates may talk about them but no-one's watching them. They're getting squashed by the locally-made shows. Always.' Steven subsequently clarified these comments after a few people - probably with a sick agenda - had decided to take them out of context as some kind of statement on quality. 'In case anyone thinks I've taken leave of my senses, I didn't say that American TV shows aren't popular in Britain. I said that locally made shows [always] out-rate foreign imports in Britain and in American. Which is true ... It's nothing to do with those shows being beneath them - no one is being foolish or disdainful,' he told his Facebook followers. 'Most of the shows you're talking about don't even have big ratings in America, and would die a death on a major channel here. The West Wing is my favourite [drama] ever, but nobody actually watched it. I don't mean your mates - I mean in strict number terms, it wasn't a big hitter. The imports that worked here back in the day weren't the seventies equivalents of Mad Men or Breaking Bad, it was The Virginian or Starsky & Hutch. Once we got better at making those mass-appeal shows (and we did) people tended to go for the domestic version. People all over the world do that, it's perfectly normal. I was answering a business question - why do other countries remake shows for their own market? Because they do better. All In The Family is the remake of Till Death IS Do Part - no one has heard of Till Death over there. I'm sure I love all the same shows you do - but we're the Box-Set audience. The trouble with scheduling for the Box-Set audience is they tend to watch the Box-Set.' The lad's got a good point, you know? More than one, in fact.

The Hub productions Whoniverse event has been cancelled following the withdrawal of Matt Smith from the event for family reasons. The convention was due to hit the four main Australia cities over the next two weeks, bringing together the original Eleventh Doctor team of Smudger, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. Although Gillan pulled out of part of the tour last week, the absence of Matt Smith has proved a fatal blow with the organisers having no choice but to cancel the event. Matt Smith is unable to leave Britain at present due to what is described as 'a family matter.' He gave the convention organisers the following statement. 'I am deeply saddened to have to advise that I will not be able to come to Australia for the Hub Productions' Whoniverse event. Although I wish it were otherwise, due to a personal family emergency it's not possible for me to leave England at this time. I truly regret the situation, and the disappointment it must be causing, but I'm hoping to be able to reschedule as soon as possible for the future; I look forward to see you all then.' The organisers have said they are working to try to bring the team to future events, but in the meantime, Ticketek will be in touch regarding refunds.

Outnumbered bounced back in the ratings for BBC1 on Wednesday evening, overnight data reveals. The penultimate episode gained back almost half a million viewers from the previous episode's figure, rising to 4.33 million at 9pm, to come out on top overall outside of soaps. A repeat of Mrs Brown's Boys was watched by 4.14m at 9.30pm, while A Question of Sport pulled in 2.25m (17.6%) at 10.35pm. BBC2's Permission Impossible gathered nine hundred and eighty six thousand viewers at 7pm, followed by Restaurant Man with 1.40m at 8pm. Line of Duty rose slightly to 2.23m at 9pm, and Inside Number Nine brought in eight hundred and seventy two at 10pm. On ITV, a repeat of Midsomer Murders attracted 3.74m at 8pm. Channel Four's Restoration Man was seen by 1.82m at 8pm. Twenty Four Hours in A&E interested 1.92m at 9pm and First Dates had seven hundred and eighty thousand at 10pm. On Channel Five, Born To Kill? returned with 1.06m at 8pm, followed by NCIS with nine hundred and seventy eight thousand at 9pm. BBC3's Festivals, Sex & Suspicious Parents appealed to five hundred and fourteen thousand at 9pm. Sky Atlantic's Fleming was seen by but one hundred and eight thousand in the same time slot.

Death In Paradise continued its run of overnight ratings victories on Tuesday night outside of soaps. The BBC1 Caribbean crime drama climbed slightly from last week audience to 6.51 million punters at 9pm. Later, Traffic Cops was seen by 2.41m at 10.35pm. BBC2's The Great British Sewing Bee dropped around five hundred thousand viewers from last week's opener to 2.57m at 8pm. Permission Impossible gathered 1.47m at 7pm. Later, the documentary The Necessary War brought in 1.56m at 9pm. ITV's coverage of The Scum's catastrophic Champions League loss to some Greek Bearing Gifts scored 4.98m at 7.30pm (and very high in the comedy stakes, too). On Channel Four, Kirstie's Best Of British appealed to 1.53m at 8pm, followed by The Taste with seven hundred and sixty eight thousand at 9pm and new series Strippers with 1.33m at 10pm. Which appears to prove that lasses getting their kit off (and, mumsy, bossy Tory Kirstie Allsopp) are nearly three times as popular with viewers as Nigella Lawson (she has her knockers). Channel Five's Benidorm ER attracted seven hundred and eighty one thousand at 8pm, while The Mentalist drew 1.08m at 9pm. Law & Order: SVU was seen by seven hundred and thirty seven thousand punters at 10pm. BBC3's new series Hair interested seven hundred and eighty four thousand at 9pm, followed by the return of Pramface with four hundred and eighty seven thousand viewers at 10pm.

Silk returned for its latest series to top the Monday ratings, overnight data reveals. The legal drama attracted 4.66 million viewers at 9pm on BBC1. Earlier, Panorama interested 2.24m at 8.30pm. On ITV, DCI Banks dropped over a million viewers from the previous week, falling to 4.50m at 9pm. A Great Welsh Adventure gathered 3.55m at 8pm. BBC2's University Challenge was watched by 2.94m at 8pm, followed by Food and Drink with 2.30m at 8.30pm and Horizon with 1.50m at 9pm. On Channel Four, One Born Every Minute returned for a new series with 2.32m at 9pm. Eight Out Of Ten Cats had an audience of 1.14m at 10pm. Channel Five's Police Interceptors acquired 1.23m at 8pm, followed by Can't Pay, We'll Take It Away! with 1.79m at 9pm and Caught On Camera with 1.07m at 10pm.

Yet again, dear blog reader, the TV comedy line of the week came from the great Michael Kitchen - proving to be The King of delivering a pithy one-liner - in the final episode of The Life Of Rock With Brian Pern on Monday evening. In the end, it was hard to chose between: 'That bloke from Blur makes cheese. In Guantanemo Bay they stuff cheese up the prisoners' noses and play Blur songs at them all day to break their spirit and get them to talk. With remarkable success, I hear!' And: 'From a record company point of view death isn't always a bad thing. They love a death. I mean, The Doors wouldn't have sold nearly as many records if Jim Morrison had stayed alive. He'd probably be a judge on American Idol now. With his own range of pasta sauces!'
That was closely followed by Simon Day's perceptive comment: 'Life on the road is a bit like anal sex. It starts off fun and exciting ... but it ends up a pain in the arse!'
This glorious little three-part mock, if you will, rock-umentary has been a joy from start to finished (ending with an apocalyptic cameo appearance by the bloke they'd been mercilessly taking the piss out of the three weeks, Peter Gabriel). I've laugh more at the ninety minutes I've spent with Brian Pern and his guests than I did with whole series of other supposed comedy shows.

'It's so refreshing to work with someone who'll throw a saddle on a gift horse rather than look it in the mouth.' It is, genuinely, not often that yer actual Keith Telly Topping comes so late to the party when it comes to quality TV, but it's happened, big-style over the last couple of weeks with House Of Cards. On Tuesday, dear blog reader, yer actual went for a swim at the local pool (his first in a couple of weeks), then - with muscles aching in places he didn't know they could ache in - he popped into Morrison's for something for us dinner. Upon arriving back at Stately Telly Topping Manor, he found the recently ordered DVD of series one of House Of Cards waiting for him. If anybody needed yer actual Keith Telly Topping for the couple of days after that, therefore, he was to be found in bed with Kevin Spacey. Which was nice. Although I'd seen a few clips of the US adaptation of Michael Dobbs and Andrew Davies' political thriller last year - and been very impressed by what I saw, let it be said - it was watching the first three episodes back-to-back on the plane going out to LA last week that really did it for this blogger. I was, I'm happy to say, pretty damn blown away by it. It's just about the first US remake of a British drama that I've ever though 'my God, they've got it! They understand the concept.' This blogger agrees with the Denver Post's Joanne Ostrow who described the series as: 'Deeply cynical about human beings as well as politics and almost gleeful in its portrayal of limitless ambition. House Of Cards is a wonderfully sour take on power and corruption.' It's not flawless, let it be said. On occasions the acting - which is note-perfect throughout, especially from the two leads - deserves some better dialogue. In that regard, yer actual Keith Telly Topping also concurs with the New York Times critic Alessandra Stanley, who noted that the writing sometimes fails to match the high quality of its acting: 'Unfortunately Mister Spacey's lines don't always live up to the subtle power of his performance; the writing isn't Shakespeare, or even Aaron Sorkin, and at times, it turns strangely trite.' Nevertheless even Stanley lauded House Of Cards as an entertainment which 'revels in the familiar but always entertaining underbelly of government.' In this blogger's opinion, Kevin Spacey's magnetic portrayal, in particular, is far more menacing than Ian Richardson's in the original (something Andrew Davies himself has also commented upon). Just as calculating, slightly less urbane, much harder in hiding his considerable rage behind a smooth Southern-boy charm and old-fashioned courtesy. It's a dark, white-knuckle ride into the chasm of human weakness and naked, raw ambition. Tearing the package open, yer actual Keith Telly Topping immediately rewatched episode one just to make sure that he wasn't suffering from cabin depressurisation when he developed such an outré admiration for the way them darn Yankies have managed to pull off something I thought them barely capable of, in taking something we've done and not making it shit. Nope. It was just as brilliant. As, indeed, were the next twelve episodes. The best US drama since The West Wing - to which it is a kind of dark mirror? You might very well think that, dear blog reader. I couldn't possibly comment.
When Netflix decides to sink one hundred million dollars into House Of Cards without even seeing a pilot, or plans a move into Games Of Thrones territory with the upcoming Marco Polo, or pulls off its first Oscar nod after gambling on a documentary charting political unrest in Egypt, the company isn't making blind bets. The US streaming giant spends three billion dollars a year on TV and film rights – with about three hundred million bucks of that ploughed into making its own shows – using decisions based on a meticulous analysis of the viewing habits of its forty four million subscribers worldwide. Todd Yellin built the engine that cleverly recommends TV shows and films that users might like – it can deliver more than seventy six thousand different genre types such as 'alien films from the 1970s' – and feeds their viewing habits back into the data-driven Netflix programme commissioning machine. 'We own the Netflix customer experience from the moment they sign up, for the whole time they are with us, across TV, phone and laptop,' says Yellin, vice president of product innovation. 'We climb under the hood and get all greasy with algorithms, numbers and vast amounts of data. Getting to know a user, millions of them, and what they play. If they play one title, what did they play after, before, what did they abandon after five minutes?' Netflix users watch two billion hours of programming each month and it is Yellin's ability to micro-analyse that data which allows the company to turn much of the traditional TV series commissioning model on its head. Instead of making a show and then hoping it catches on with a big audience, Netflix crunches its subscriber base viewing data to identify fans of specific genres and then looks at TV formulas that it already knows are likely to appeal to them. 'We have an immense amount of data, we see everything our subscribers are watching,' says Cindy Holland, head of original content at Netflix. 'We can identify subscriber populations that gravitate around genre areas, such as horror, thriller and supernatural. That allows us to project a threshold audience size to see if it makes for a viable project for us.' One formula that has proved to be a reliable winner is banking on serialised scripted TV content, shows that Holland says 'suck you in from the beginning' and 'tick a lot of boxes', often with a charismatic lead and a famous director or showrunner, and using pre-existing material. Netflix's runaway success House Of Cards is the embodiment of the model – loosely based on the 1990 BBC mini-series, starring Kevin Spacey, directed by The Social Network's David Fincher – and there are a slew of new Netflix TV series on the way that bear similar hallmarks. Friday Night Lights star Kyle Chandler is to appear in a psychological thriller from the creators of Damages, the legal thriller starring Glenn Close; a number of the directors involved in Game Of Thrones are making Netflix's first foray into big budget historical productions with Marco Polo and animated, Family Guy-type comedy BoJack Horseman will see Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul team up with Arrested Development's Will Arnett. So has Netflix found the data-driven holy grail of how to make a guaranteed hit TV show? 'I don't believe so, [all the] information doesn't give us a crystal ball,' says Holland. 'Look at Orange Is The New Black. There was no [specific] data to say that a comedic drama set in a women's prison, with mostly unknown actors, would definitely work.' The project that has produced arguably the biggest vindication of Netflix's ability to mine user data is The Square, a documentary shot over three years about the political unrest in Egypt, which has picked up the company's first Oscar nomination. The US streaming giant has confounded the established norms of TV broadcasting, arguing that measuring success by audience size is meaningless, and eschewing the episode-a-week law by allowing viewers to watch entire series in one shot on the day of launch. 'It is a beautiful thing being a subscription service,' says Yellin. 'We have nothing to do with advertising, it becomes less about ratings. The days of pure popularity [as a yardstick of success] are over. It leaves the individual quirks and quirks of people's taste in the dust. We share all the data with the [Los Angeles programming] team, to see how it compares to the shows they are thinking about. User data helps us decide to initially buy the show and to renew it for another season. Traditional networks and cable networks don't know that stuff.' Netflix may not fear rivals such as HBO or the BBC, but the might and ambition of digital-savvy Amazon perhaps poses the biggest threat to the company. This week Amazon will hit back at its international expansion – Netflix recently raised four hundred million dollars to fund its European ambitions – by rebranding its LoveFilm streaming service and launching a greatly enhanced 'one stop' subscription offering. 'I feel like sometimes I'm on the bridge of the starship Enterprise,' says Yellin, describing the experience of charting Netflix's course in a fast-changing digital universe. 'Is Netflix future-proofed? Google isn't future proofed. No one is. Companies need to keep innovating to secure the future.'

Monday also saw the arrival at Stately Telly Topping of a couple of preview discs from the US which contained the latest episode of The Blacklist and episodes one to three of the much-talked about True Detective. The former was a clever and witty addition to what has already proved to be one of the finest new US series in some time (this blogger described it last year as '24 with brains'). And it was terrific to see one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite actresses, The Camomile Lawn's Jennifer Ehle popping up as the villain of the week. Her scenes with James Spader are worth the entry fee alone.
True Detective, on the other hand, took yer actual Keith Telly Topping a couple of episodes to get into. Again, the acting is simply superb - though it took this blogger a while to fully come to grips with the thick Louisiana accents sported by Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and others in the cast. But, once you have got past that barrier, the dialogue just sings. For instance: 'I think human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution. We became too self-aware, nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself, we are creatures that should not exist by natural law. We are things that labour under the illusion of having a self; a secretion of sensory experience and feeling, programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody, when in fact everybody is nobody. I think the honourable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, walk hand-in hand into extinction, one last midnight, brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal.' Wow. It's an intriguing, dark and rather X-Files-like premise with visual nods to Hannibal and conceptual ones to ... well, also Hannibal! Anyway, by the start of episode three, I was hooked on that one as well. Damn you America! Every time I think you've dried up all your ideas and started nicking all of ours (and Denmark's for that matter), along comes two-or-three somethings to prove me wrong.
Period crime drama Ripper Street, cancelled by the BBC, will be returning for a third series on Amazon's video-on-demand service. So, now it'll be interesting to see if all the Gruniad Morning Star readers that whinged like girls when the series - which, let's remember, lost half of its audience in a year - was cancelled will be happy to pay for the privilege to carry on watching it. Amazon confirmed on Wednesday that filming on the third series will begin in May and will be exclusive to subscribers to Prime Instant Video, formerly its LoveFilm VoD service, but will be shown 'a few months later' on BBC1. As part of the deal, the first and second series of Ripper Street are now available to Prime Instant Video subscribers. The deal between Amazon and Ripper Street producer Tiger Aspect marks a significant moment for the UK TV industry – the first time a Video on Demand operator has stepped in to fund a drama series after it was dropped by a major broadcaster. Ripper Street, starring Matthew MacFadyen and Jerome Flynn, was dropped by the BBC last year. The reason given by the corporation was it 'didn't bring the audience we hoped.' Tiger Aspect confirmed in December that it was 'in talks' about alternative funding for the show, with Amazon tipped as being most likely to step in. Confirming the return of the notorious H Division police precinct, set in Victorian Whitechapel, the head of Amazon Instant Video international content acquisition Jason Ropell said: 'We're delighted to have secured not only the highly popular first two seasons of Ripper Street for our Prime Instant Video customers but we can also confirm today that we will be making season three, news that we know will delight the millions of fans of this brilliant British drama.' The US online retail giant announced earlier in February that it was rebranding its UK Video on Demand service, LoveFilm, as Prime Instant Video. BBC's controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson said: 'This is an exceptional opportunity to bring back Ripper Street for a third series by working with a great partner.'

Myfanwy Moore has been named as the BBC's new controller of UK comedy production. She will take control of the BBC's in-house comedy department across both TV and radio. Moore was previously editor of new comedy at the BBC from 1997 to 2005, developing shows including Little Britain, That Mitchell and Webb Situation and The Dave Gorman Collection. She returns to the BBC after working at ITV as commissioning editor of comedy. During her time at ITV she had been responsible for its recent scripted comedy output including Birds Of A Feather, Plebs, Vicious and The Job Lot. So, nothing even remotely funny, in other words.

Bookmakers have reportedly slashed the odds on risible, irksome odious oily twat Piers Morgan taking part in the summer series of Celebrity Big Brother after he was - very amusingly - sacked by CNN on Monday. Morgan's red-faced embarrassment at having his American chat show dropped because of free-falling ratings can't have been helped by news from Ladbrokes that it has started taking bets on him participating in the Channel Five reality show. Meanwhile, given his long-standing feud with Morgan, it's no surprise that yer man Jezza Clarkson - who once punched the then Daily Mirra editor reet hard, in the mush, for which, frankly, he should have received a medal - had something to say about Morgan's show being cancelled by CNN. However, the Top Gear presenter's first tweet on Monday morning was unusually restrained given the circumstances: 'I'm feeling strangely contented this morning. I wonder if something wonderful has happened somewhere.' It didn't take Jezza long to get into full flow, however – an hour later he tweeted: 'I understand that Nigerian TV is looking for a new chat show host. Anyone got any suggestions?' This was quickly followed by 'Morgan has told us for years that his ratings are sky high. So obv[iously] he wasn't sacked for that reason. Why else could it be, I wonder?'
Charlotte Church has said that Piers Morgan was 'such a prick' when the pair discussed press intrusion. He has responded by insulting her intelligence. In an interview with Stylist magazine, the singer recalled interviewing the then-editor of the Daily Mirra when she was seventeen for the Oxford Union. Church said of the encounter: 'He was such a prick. His argument basically centred around, "You're rich, you're making money out of this, who the fuck are you to question it?" I was like, "I hate you!" I wanted to storm out and it took all my strength not to, and in that talk he basically told me about phone-hacking and everything. He didn't say it happened at the Daily Mirror but it was in the video I had made [of the talk]. I gave it to the Guardian because when it all came out he was like, "I had nothing to do with it", but I was like, "Well, I've got a fucking video of you telling me how to do it from way back!"' Morgan later replied on Twitter to say that he 'actually enjoyed' meeting Church, adding 'you just weren't the brightest bulb in the box. In fact, any box.' Which, coming from somebody who's just been sacked because nobody was watching his TV show is a bit rich, frankly.

Dara Ó Briain has criticised the BBC's ban on all-male line-ups for panel shows, saying the move will make female guests appear as 'the token woman.' The Mock The Week presenter said that more emphasis should be placed on tackling gender inequality in other areas, such as 'women in computer coding. I wish a tenth of the energy that was put into the women-on-panel-shows debate was put into women-in-computer-coding, in which there are hundreds of thousands of jobs in Europe, and eleven per cent of them are done by women,' he told the Radio Times. 'It seems a more sensible challenge than these three hundred people [in stand-up comedy] and how they are represented.' Ó Briain's intervention comes after the director of television, Danny Cohen, announced that the corporation would ban all-male panel programmes in an attempt to address the gender imbalance on shows such as Mock The Week and Have I Got News For You. The comedian said the corporation should have 'evolved' instead of 'legislating for token woman.' Ó Briain told the Radio Times: 'I wouldn't have announced it, is what I'd say, because it means Katherine Ryan or Holly Walsh, who've been on millions of times, will suddenly look like the token woman. It would have been better if it had evolved without showing your workings, if you know what I mean. Legislating for token women isn't much help. A certain number of women want to go into comedy and they should be cherished and nurtured, but you're not going to shift the fact that loads more men want to do it.' This blogger reckons that, probably, the best idea would be for Dara and danny to get together, in a ring, and sort it out like men. The BBC could also televise it. That'd certainly fill a hole in the schedules caused by cost-cutting.

Cutting the BBC licence fee would limit consumer choice and value for money, an Oxford University study has claimed. The report suggests the BBC would be 'reduced to a minor slideshow' if so-called 'salami-slicing' continues. Without BBC TV, it claims, most viewers would 'have a greatly reduced choice of programmes they wanted to watch.' The report, by Oxford's Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, is entitled What If There Were No BBC Television?: The Net Impact on UK Viewers. Its authors, the academics Patrick Barwise and Robert G Picard, say that without BBC TV there would be less revenue in the TV industry and as much as twenty five per cent less investment in content. The latter, they write, would be 'a severe blow to British production companies' of the kind that generate 'first-run UK content.' The report assumes that commercial broadcasters would increase their investment in content if they were no longer 'crowded out' by the BBC. Despite this, it insists there will be less overall investment - and that most UK households would 'suffer detriment.' It says that they would either be 'paying slightly more for slightly less choice' than they currently do with the licence fee, or 'paying slightly less for much less choice. The onus should now be on those arguing for a smaller BBC to provide some kind of evidence and argument about why they believe it would lead to a better outcome for the UK public,' the report continues. The £145.50 licence fee comes up for renewal in 2016, while the BBC's Royal Charter, which sets out the corporation's role, functions and structure, is due for renewal the following year.

The BBC Director General Tony Hall raised the spectre that he will axe a frontline channel or service after he ruled out further 'salami-slicing' cuts to generate a further one hundred million smackers of savings. Hall said further corporation-wide cuts imperilled the quality of the BBC's programmes, including its drama, which would mean it would 'no longer be able to compete with the best in the world.' He added that drama was 'one of the essences of the BBC' and had to be 'properly' funded. 'If that means taking hard decisions, I am going to do that,' he told the Oxford Media Conference on Wednesday. He refused to identify where the savings will come, but his comments will inevitably lead to speculation about the future of, for example, BBC4. 'We decided we'd reached the point where salami-slicing would affect quality and distinctiveness. Rather than seek to preserve a less good version of our past, we decided to focus on what we do best: from drama to taking iPlayer into the next generation,' Hall told the conference. 'We agreed we needed to find the money to do that. So, we are in the final stages of a budget process to find an extra one hundred million pounds of savings. I will announce the outcome of those decisions in the next month.' Hall said the BBC was still only halfway through the disastrous Delivering Quality First package of cost-savings instituted by former Director General Mark Thompson, with another 'three years of hard work' before it reached its target of seven hundred million smackers of cost savings. He said a further one hundred million knicker of savings had to be found which meant the BBC 'couldn't stay the same. First of all, a BBC that stayed the same would be a BBC that had fallen behind its competitors and the expectations of our audiences. There's so much change, so fast, in our world and we have to be able to invent the next iPlayer,' he said. 'And second, there just wasn't enough money for us to stay the same. Everyone at the BBC is proud that we got more nominations at the Golden Globes than any other broadcaster in the world. But that was on the old drama budget.' He added: 'If we followed the original plan, we would be cutting our television drama budget by tens of millions of pounds and I'm worried we would no longer be able to compete with the best in the world. That would have been bad not just for us, but for our audiences and for our creative industries. You could even say it would have been bad for Britain.' Asked what the further cost savings would mean for services such as BBC4, which had its budget for home grown drama axed as part of recent cost savings, Hall said: 'I am working on that at the moment. I am not going to say any more on that. Drama is one of the essences of the BBC and I want to make sure we are properly funded in that area. If that means taking hard decisions I am going to do that.' You can read Hall's speech, in full, here.

Extra rewards should be given to BBC staff behind hit shows to 'incentivise' them, the BBC's director of TV has said. Danny Cohen's comments were published in a book called Is The BBC in Crisis? and have appeared in the Independent. He told journalist Tara Conlan: 'I think the idea that if you come up with a global hit, you should in some way benefit from that beyond your basic wage, doesn't seem unreasonable.' His comments come just as Tony Hall mounted his defence of the licence fee. A BBC spokesperson said in response: 'Danny was simply talking about how you might incentivise staff who deliver amazingly successful programmes that go on to produce commercial revenue for the BBC outside of the UK. This would not be at a cost to the licence fee.' Some of the corporation's most popular shows include Strictly Come Dancing, Call The Midwife, Top Gear and Doctor Who. Cohen added: 'I think if we want to bring in really smart people and generate [intellectual property] - which will end up making money that will go back into the licence fee - people participating in that, in order to get the best people, then we have to look at and examine what's possible.' He said that as well as looking at 'how we incentivise people' the corporation needed to look at 'how we use Worldwide. We have to make some of our own heroes: you get young people who come in who have good ideas and they are very proud to work at the BBC,' he said. 'A great idea can come from someone in their early twenties. We've got to take some bets on new people and we've got to work on incentivisation.' Former BBC1 controller Cohen was announced as the new director of television in April last year. He took over BBC3 in May 2007 after leaving Channel Four as the head of factual entertainment and E4. His commissions included the critically acclaimed dramas Call The Midwife, The Village and Saturday night talent show The Voice. His future commissions for BBC1 include an adaptation of JK Rowling's book The Casual Vacancy, a sitcom written by David Walliams, a comedy series starring Matt Lucas and an adaptation of the book Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

The lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Miller has warned that Scotland will lose the BBC if it votes for independence in the September referendum. Isn't it just beyond great to see the BBC, a supposedly independent organisation, being used a political football? The vile and odious rascal Miller appeared to fly in the face of plans outlined by the Scottish National Party in November last year, when she said a vote for independence was a vote to leave the institutions of the UK, and that included the BBC. The lack of culture secretary said in a Q&A session after her speech at the Oxford Media Convention on Wednesday that the BBC was 'part of our crown jewels', saying it was 'too important' for the debate about its charter renewal to become embroiled in party politics. 'We have to think what the [independence] vote is about. It's about whether or not Scotland wants to remain as part of the UK,' said the vile and odious rascal Miller. 'If the vote is no, they don't want to do that, then it's a vote to leave the institutions of the UK and the BBC is one of those institutions.' The SNP said last year that it would create a new Scottish Broadcasting Service, funded by the Scottish share of the licence fee. Alex Salmond's party proposed that BBC1 and BBC2 would continue to be available in an independent Scotland, along with BBC radio stations and commercial TV channels such as ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five. The Scottish government has argued that in 2016 the BBC will raise three hundred and twenty million quid through the licence fee in Scotland, but it will spend only one hundred and seventy five million smackers on services for Scottish viewers and listeners. In an independent Scotland, the SNP said it would use the three hundred and twenty million knicker to fund the new Scottish Broadcasting Service. The vile and odious rascal Miller said: 'I was in Aberdeen on Monday and went into BBC Aberdeen and saw an excellent operation producing some fantastic local programmes.' She praised the BBC's Scottish output, 'particularly their focus on local cultural programmes.' Asked about proposals – put forward by former BBC chairman Lord Grade and others – that the licence fee should be further top-sliced for other public service broadcasters, the vile and odious rascal Miller said the corporation was part of the nation's crown jewels. She said that Director General Tony Hall and BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten had 'started the process' of 'sorting out' BBC governance in the wake of scandals over multi-million pound payoffs and the one hundred million smackers Digital Media Initiative debacle. 'I want to see that process before we get into discussions around charter renewal,' she said. 'The last charter renewal went on far too long, we need to make sure it isn't engaged in the political fray, it has to rise above that. The most important thing is governance is strong and as charter renewal comes up it is not part of a political discussion. The BBC is too important for that.' The vile and odious rascal Miller added: 'If there's one brand that people know when I go round the world, it's the BBC. I sometimes think we don't realise how important the BBC is in people's perceptions of our country.'

Two men have been cleared of attacking former Casualty actor Clive Mantle at a Newcastle Travelodge. Philip McGilvray and Alan French were accused of biting off part of Clive's ear in an attack in a hotel corridor in March last year. McGilvray and French, both of South Lanarkshire, had denied wounding with intent. In a statement, the fifty six-year-old actor - who has also featured in Game Of Thrones and Sherlock - said that he was 'shell-shocked.' Giving evidence, the actor said that the pair felled him 'like two hyenas bringing down an old water buffalo' as he tried to push past them to make a complaint to hotel staff about excessive noise. He told the court that his ear was bitten three times and he was also punched - with McGilvray and French landing 'four absolute pearlers.' At the request of the prosecution, he lifted the hair he had grown long over his ears to show the chunk missing after McGilvray's bite. He told the court he had grown a large moustache for his role in a touring production of The Ladykillers and was in his pyjamas and a T-shirt when he was woken in the Travelodge. The pair denied that version of events and McGilvray said the six foot five inch actor knocked him to the floor in an attack that felt like 'being hit by a car.' He admitted biting Mantle's ear but claimed that he was acting 'in self defence' after being pinned down. He told the jury: 'I was on my back and Mr Mantle was straight on top of me. All I had done was speak to some girls and then I had a big monster on me. I don't know why I did it, I could not get away, I did not know what he had in his hands - I thought he was trying to kill me.' McGilvray told the jury that he had been drinking with his friends since the afternoon before returning to the hotel with French. The pair then began walking along the hotel corridors looking for French's room, McGilvray claimed. That was when he 'became aware' of the actor coming out of his room to tell them to be quiet. McGilvray went on to tell the court that he was 'ashamed' by his actions because he had previously had part of his own ear bitten off by a bouncer - who then swallowed it. McGilvray admitted he had previously been convicted of assault and that his brother had been stabbed to death in the street. The jury deliberated for almost five hours before clearing the pair of all charges. Neither of the acquitted men commented as they left court. Mantle was understood to be on holiday. His agent, Bryn Newton, said that he was 'a sweet and gentle man.' In a statement given after the verdict, Mantle said: 'As much as I am hurt and baffled by the decision, I am more worried at the message it gives out to law abiding people who dare to point out the terrible behaviour of others. Are we all just meant to sit back and not say anything? The fact that violent acts go unpunished is equally worrying. I would like to thank my friends, family and hundreds of well wishers for their support, and I look forward to getting back to work.'

ITV profits have surged thanks to the success of programmes like Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. ITV's latest figures show profit before tax for the whole year rose twenty seven per cent to five hundred and eighty one million wonga, as income at its studio production arm rose by one fifth. The group promised shareholders a special dividend for the second year in a row. ITV Chief Executive Adam Crozier said: 'On-screen we've had our best year on year performance for ten years.' But shares fell more than three per cent on fears they are now overvalued. The shares have gained seventy three per cent in the last year. Over the last four years the group has increased profits by more than ten per cent each year. Mr Selfridge, Agatha Christie's Poirot and Hell's Kitchen US have been sold to more than one hundred and fifty countries. Eight of its formats have been sold in three or more countries, including 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) and Twatting About On Ice. Last week ITV bought a controlling stake in DiGa Vision, the New York based independent producer of reality and scripted programmes including Teen Wolf. Over the last year it has bought up production companies behind programmes such as Twenty Four Hours In A&E and The Graham Norton Show, which it sells around the world. Crozier said: 'The investment we have made in content has driven significant revenue and profit growth in ITV Studios - both organically and through the selective acquisitions we have made in the UK and the US.' He said growth in the coming year would be increasingly from Online, Pay & Interactive and from ITV Studios internationally. He said: 'In ITV Studios we anticipate good growth, primarily driven by the acquisitions we have made in the UK and internationally.'

Controversial MTV reality show The Valleys - no, me neither I'm afraid - has celebrated its return for a third series with its own 'cheeky' sense of humour and some specially designed 'Welcome to Wales' billboards showing the bare arses of three women. Natalee Harris, Lateysha Grace and Jenna Jonathan have posed for the racy double-sided signs, which greet drivers entering Wales. A saucy double-sided design, which can be 'enjoyed' by drivers (for which read, give them a stonking great Horn and distract them whilst they're supposed to be concentrating on not crashing into other cars) through their wing mirrors, it is currently being trialled on the A465 Welsh border and will be rolled out at further crossings later this week.
He memorably interviewed Muhammed Ali and was wrestled to the ground by Rod Hull and Emu – now Sir Michael Parkinson has signed up as the new face of Waitrose TV, as the retailer's online TV channel looks to acquire 'a more mainstream audience.' The veteran presenter, who hosted his eponymous talk show on ITV and the BBC for over thirty years, is to interview chefs, z-list celebrities and sport stars on the channel from spring of this year. As part of the tie-up, Parky will also contribute to Waitrose's weekly customer magazine, Waitrose Weekend. Waitrose TV is the retailer's online TV channel which it uses to communicate directly with customers. Hosts on the channel have included high-profile chefs and cookery experts such as Heston Blumenthal and Rachel Allen. But the move to sign up Parky suggests it is looking to broaden its appeal beyond cooking. Parkinson's own production company, Parkinson Productions, will work with Waitrose's in-house commissioning team in creating the shows. Rupert Thomas, Waitrose marketing director, said: 'Sir Michael Parkinson is one of Britain's best-loved and most accomplished talk show hosts, this combined with his interests in food, cooking and cricket, will create compelling viewing and reading for Waitrose TV and Waitrose Weekend.' Parky filmed his final chat show on ITV seven years ago. Since then he has made a variety of media appearances, including a guest spot on Top Gear and he has also hosted the Parkinson: Masterclass show on Sky Arts. Plus, of course, giving away pens to Octogenarians on those annoying pension adverts on a hourly basis.
Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks has told the phone-hacking trial she 'did not realise' the practice of phone-hacking was illegal when she was editor of the Scum of the World. Though, ignorance of the law is, of course, no defence. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said she 'didn't think anybody, me included, knew it was illegal.' She claimed that she felt 'shock and horror' after she discovered murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked by the newspaper. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, one of seven defendants on trial at the Old Bailey, denies four charges. Asked was she ever told to sanction the accessing of voicemails for a story during her time as editor of the newspaper, Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that she had not. She said: 'No journalist ever came to me and said we're working on so and so a story but we need to access their voicemail and we need to ask for my sanction to do it. Even though I didn't know it was illegal, I absolutely felt it was in the category of a serious breach of privacy.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks denies conspiring to hack phones, conspiring to commit misconduct in public office and conspiring to cover up evidence to pervert the course of justice. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said that she 'knew nothing- - naaaathing - about the tasking of the convicted phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire to access thirteen-year-old Milly's voicemails in 2002. She told the court that she 'only became aware' Dowler's phone had been hacked on 4 July 2011. Asked about her reaction when she found out, the forty five-year-old well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said: 'Shock, horror, everything. I just think anyone would think that that was pretty abhorrent, so my reaction was that,' she said. The court has also heard details of a contract which agreed to pay convicted phone-hacker Mulcaire seventeen hundred and sixty nine quid a week, - roughly ninety two grand a year - to 'supply information.' Asked if she had seen the contract, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told the Old Bailey: 'No, I didn't.' Asked by her barrister, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, whether her attention was ever drawn to the contract, which started on 1 September 2001, she said: 'Not at the time, no.' Pressed on what she meant by 'at the time', she added: 'During my editorship.' Mulcaire was extremely jailed in 2007, along with the Scum of the World's then-royal editor, Clive Goodman, after admitting intercepting voicemails. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said that the Scum of the World used 'a lot' of investigators during the late 1990s and early 2000s, adding that it was 'pretty normal' in Fleet Street. She claimed that investigators did 'the leg work' for journalists, citing an example when the newspaper traced convicted paedophiles living in the community. Or, indeed, on one memorable occasion, an unconvicted paediatrician. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that Mulcaire's payments 'wouldn't usually' have gone to her unless department heads were going over their budgets. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks also denied seeing an internal e-mail asking for a payment to Mulcaire 'in return for information' on the teenage killers of Jamie Bulger. 'I never heard his name before he was arrested - I never heard the name of Glenn Mulcaire,' she said. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed she 'did not read' a Scum of the World interview with Mulcaire in 2002, the year Milly Dowler went missing and had her phone-hacked. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told the jury that she 'did not recall' the article, published in August that year, in which Mulcaire was described as working for the Scum of the World's 'special investigations team.' Mulcaire has already pleaded guilty extremely to conspiracy to hack phones, a charge also faced by well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, who denies the charge. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks's defence counsel, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, reminded her on Wednesday of evidence given earlier in the trial by Scum of the World sports reporter Geoff Sweet, who conducted the interview with Mulcaire who, at the time, was also a footballer with AFC Wimbledon. 'It's the 18 August edition, it's the rebirth of Wimbledon. The point the prosecution lay emphasis upon is the reference to Glenn Mulcaire, "Trigger", and you can see in the third paragraph "Trigger, part of our special investigations team." Do you remember reading his name in the article?' Laidlaw asked. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks responded: 'No, I don't remember that. The first I heard his name was in 2006. We had forty-plus pages of sport that day. It was twelve years ago, I don't remember.' The court heard that Sweet's article fell on 'a big news weekend', with breaking news around the Soham murder and the start of the Premier League football season. 'It would've been what was discussed in conference rather than a comment piece by Geoff Sweet on page eighty two,' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed. The jury was also shown a batch of e-mails in relation to the paper's coverage of an investigation into a Soham police officer suspected of accessing child abuse images. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks explained it was 'an illegal website' and the paper had 'considered accessing it. It's tricky obviously to do that. You are breaking the law, you have to think about it,' she told the jury. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told the court: '[We] felt that newspapers had a role to police the police.' The jury was also shown another e-mail from well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks complaining to staff that they had been 'scooped' by the Sunday Mirra, which had a picture of Maxine Carr, the girlfriend of the Soham murderer, Ian Huntley. 'I don't know where [it was taken], inside prison or out,' she told the jury. The jury heard of various e-mails sent by well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks to senior journalists at the paper whinging about being scooped by rivals. One, to Greg Miskiw, a news editor, warned it was 'a matter of pride' that the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World should not 'be beaten by the Mail on Sunday' to a picture of the Big Brother contestant Nadia. 'This seems a rather strong e-mail for someone from Big Brother but obviously at the time it was important,' she said in the witness box. In another e-mail, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks wrote 'I don't care how you do it, but we need a read-over of the Sunday Mirror story' to journalist Neville Thurlbeck. One tactic to get hold of rival papers' 'streets' editions – a small-circulation edition that would precede the first edition sent to the provinces and available at London mainline railway stations. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that Scum of the World journalists would 'befriend' delivery staff at King's Cross station where copies were delivered first. 'Sometimes the papers would be delivered to the station and it was possible if you got a friendly delivery guy to get hold of it rather than wait,' well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and Andy Coulson erected 'a Chinese wall' around their professional lives after they clashed over a Scum of the World exclusive about David Beckham, it was alleged. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said that her 'personal relationship' with the Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Coulson grew 'difficult and strange' when she edited the Sun and he was in charge of the Scum of the World. Last week well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told the jury she and Coulson had 'several periods of physical intimacy' between 1998 and 2006, but denied there had been 'an affair' lasting six years. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks also spoke about the draft of a letter she wrote to Coulson declaring her love for him in February 2004, which was never sent. Giving evidence, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks described how 'friction' between the pair escalated in April 2004 when the Scum of the World broke the story about Beckham's alleged affair with Rebecca Loos, which left the Sun trailing the Daily Mirra and Daily Scum Mail in following up the scoop. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said: 'The two newspapers were to all intents and purposes rivals and pretty strong rivals. I think Andy and I had been very good at keeping that Chinese wall and perhaps on promotions and other things cooperating a bit more than other editors. But certainly keeping a Chinese wall because it was a hostage to fortune discussing what you were working on because he was on a weekly and I on a daily, therefore more opportunity to publish.' Asked whether she would have had any hesitation in 'stealing' the Beckham story if Coulson had told her about it privately, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks took a long pause and said: 'Well, I might have known about it already.' Asked a second time, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks replied: 'Probably not, no.' She added: 'After the letter and things, things were difficult. It was strange for a while.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said the Beckham story was 'a good example' of their professional tension. She told the court: 'From memory the News of the World did a spoof edition on the Beckham affair and for whatever reason obviously no one at the News of the World had discussed it with me, probably reasonable, but because they had a spoof edition somehow it meant that the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail had heard that the News of the World had this story and the Sun, the alleged sister paper, didn't. What it meant was that the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail had a march on us and were able to get to the Beckhams quickly. Obviously I was not best pleased about that situation.' Asked by her counsel, Jonathan Laidlaw, whether Coulson 'mentioned' the story to her privately during the week, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said: 'Just to even mention that to me could be fatal for his paper, because he wouldn't know that the day he mentioned it I might have had dinner with Victoria [Beckham] where she mentioned it. He might say on the Thursday I've got a good Beckham story this weekend and I might say, "Ummm, sorry we're running it tomorrow." It was too complicated.' Laidlaw also questioned well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks about Scum of the World's shitehawk 'exclusive' about David Blunkett's affair with Spectator publisher Kimberly Quinn, and a conversation she had with the Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Coulson about the story on the Saturday night before publication in August 2004. But well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that this 'new co-operation' between her and Coulson did not mean he passed on Quinn's name to the Sun, which revealed her identity from alleged 'separate sources' the following day. Asked if she knew the story had come from hacking, she said: 'Absolutely not.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks added: 'From memory what happened was I was told by Andy the News of the World had got this, then my political team and I and the news team would be, once we had seen that News of the World hadn't named her, we would have been full steam ahead trying to find her name. That would have been our job. I don't remember Andy giving an explanation as to why or if there had been an issue naming her.' The story was 'all over the news', she recalled, and the fact the 'Home Secretary was having an affair' was 'leading the BBC news at one point.' She told the court: 'I remember it becoming quite obvious, on that Sunday that the relationship between David Blunkett and Kimberly Quinn wasn't actually as secret as had been previously thought. A search of cuttings showed that there had been a couple of items, more gossipy, about them attending a public event together and I think in the end there were lots of different rumours, her name came up and I think it was as simple as me getting one of his other special advisers to confirm it to me.' Asked to name the special adviser involved, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks responded: 'Huw Evans.' By the time the Blunkett story came up, she admitted that she was once again 'close' to Coulson. 'Things had been frosty for a while, now we were back to being close again,' she said. The day before Coulson travelled to Sheffield to confront Blunkett about the affair, he texted well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks frequently. Asked to look at the call data, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said the texts were 'every minute during the night.' She added: 'I can't remember the content of them, my guess is they would have been pretty personal. It looks like constant texting till late in the evening.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks denied telling Colin Montgomerie's former wife about an alleged assault on her own former husband the hard-man actor Ross Kemp, describing the incident which saw her 'thrown into a police cell' as 'a terrible shock.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that she knew the evidence of Eimear Cook was 'not correct' when she heard Cook say that she had been 'laughing' about the incident in November 2005, because it was such a low point in her life. 'It was the end of my marriage. It was a terrible incident in my life being thrown into a police cell. It's happened to me a lot in the last few years but that was the first time, it was a terrible shock,' she told the court. Cook was accused of lying to the court about the conversation with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, which she claimed had taken place over lunch, when she was cross examined by Jonathan Laidlaw last year. Laidlaw suggested to Cook that the incident with Kemp had taken place in November 2005, several months after they had met, and therefore the conversation could not have taken place. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said that 'very weirdly' a storyline featured in EastEnders the night before with Kemp's fictional brother, Phil Mitchell, played by Steve McFadden, being involved in domestic violence. She remembered that at the time she was 'filled with dread' about the potential headlines the following day. In the event, the coverage was 'light-hearted', she said. Howevet, she added, recalling the lunch: 'I just know that when I read it I would not be laughing, certainly not to a stranger.' She also denied telling Cook that 'stupid, wealthy' people should have known to change the pin numbers on their voicemail accounts. 'It just doesn't sound like the kind of thing I would say. I did know from way back when there was a security flaw with the generic default voicemail system back in the late 1990s,' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said. 'I don't know why I would have suddenly brought that up with Mrs Montgomerie, the language again – "stupid wealthy people" – I just can't hear myself saying that.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks also denied telling Cook that a hacked voicemail was the 'source' of a story about Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, which reported he had thrown away their engagement ring while in a hotel in Fort Lauderdale. Asked by Laidlaw, 'did you say anything of that sort?' Brooks responded: 'Absolutely not.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said she had 'never met Cook before', but had been 'asked by friends of hers' to meet Cook for lunch because she was 'having difficulty' with the 'imbalance' in the coverage over the breakdown of her marriage to the golfer. The former Sun editor told the court that Cook was 'not of interest' to the paper and was of more interest to the Daily Scum Mail, Hello! and OK! 'She was criticising the Mail and Mail on Sunday kind of tone,' claimed well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks. She said that her 'strongest memory' of the lunch was related to allegations of domestic violence. 'She said that he [Montgomerie] had been violent towards her. I was very surprised. She was a complete stranger to me,' claimed well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks. She added that Cook told her an official had been called after the incident, which she said took place in 'Spain or Portugal.' She recalled the lunch, hosted by her friends Rafi and Jo Manoukian in Knightsbridge, had taken place 'around the time' the Sun was working with Labour's Harriet Harman over changes to the domestic violence laws. 'My take out of the lunch was that she was asking me, was giving me enough information on this incident for the Sun to follow up,' said well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks. The trial continues.

Meanwhile, eight people, previously pinched by the Bobbies, have been charged in connection with Operation Elveden, the Scotland Yard inquiry into alleged bad and naughty payments to public officials in return for information. They include a policeman and three journalists for the Sun newspaper. The offences against them relate to allegations of misconduct in a public office on dates spanning 2006 to 2011. All eight will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 10 March. Sam Azouelos, a Metropolitan Police officer, is charged with one count of misconduct in a public office between July 2006 and April 2010. The Sun's home affairs correspondent, Tom Wells and Sun reporter Neil Millard are charged with three counts each of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. Brandon Malinsky, night news editor at the same newspaper, faces one charge of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. Operation Elveden is running alongside Operation Weeting, which is looking into allegations of phone-hacking, and Operation Tuleta, which covers claims of computer hacking and other privacy breaches malarkey and shenanigans. The investigations were set up in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal that led to the closure of Sunday tabloid newspaper the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World.

Low pressure is on the way for the UK – but Wednesday looks set to be a scorcher, according to BBC Breakfast. Forecaster Carol Kirkwood accidentally 'clicked her clicker' twice while on-screen about 7.30am, resulting in the temperature chart showing 'ninety nine degrees' for six cities identified just as 'Town name.' Kirkwood quickly realised her mistake and gamely carried on, saying 'I'm going to block this chart.' Susanna Reid had a fit of the giggles as Bill Turnbull added, dryly: 'It's going to be boiling in town. I've heard of "scorchio", but that's ridiculous.' None of the trio made heavy weather of the slip-up, however.
Muhammad Ali's first world title win over Sonny Liston was the subject of a match-fixing investigation by the FBI. Liston, who was an odds-on favourite to win, retired after the seventh round as Ali - then still known as Cassius Clay - became world champion at the age of twenty two. Fifty years on, it has emerged that the FBI - led by director John Edgar Hoover - suspected Las Vegas gambler Ash Resnick of fixing the bout in Miami. No conclusive evidence was ever found. Clay, the reigning Olympic heavyweight champion and undefeated in nineteen fights before meeting Liston, leaped from his stool proclaiming 'I'm king of the world' when his opponent failed to come out for round eight having been properly chinned by The Louisville Lip. It was only Liston's second loss in thirty seven bouts and, while he said a shoulder injury had prompted the retirement, there was instant suspicion over the fight's outcome. FBI memos, since obtained by the Washington Times, were deemed 'so sensitive' at the time that they were addressed directly to Hoover. One memo, dated 24 May 1966, outlined an interview with Houston gambler Barnett Magids, who said that he believed Liston would win, but a conversation with his friend, Resnick, before the fight prompted him not to bet on the champion. 'At about noon on the day of the fight, (Magids) reached Resnick again by phone,' the memo read. 'At this time, Resnick said for him to not make any bets, but just go watch the fight on pay TV and he would know why and that he could not talk further at that time. Magids did go see the fight on TV and immediately realised that Resnick knew that Liston was going to lose. Later, people "in the know" in Las Vegas told Magids that Resnick and Liston both reportedly made over one million dollars betting against Liston on the fight.' Liston was allowed his share of the purse from the bout, which was named the fourth-greatest sports moment of the Twentieth Century by Sports Illustrated. Ali won the rematch in 1965 - when Liston was accused of taking a dive - and went on to become arguably the greatest sportsman in history. Liston, who never held the world title again after losing to Ali, died in 1970. Both Magids and Resnick are also dead.

Sports giant Adidas is suspending the sale of World Cup T-shirts after Brazil's authorities complained they 'sexualised' the country's image. One read 'Looking to score?' next to a scantily-dressed woman. Another printed a heart shaped like a bikini-clad bottom with the phrase 'I love Brazil.' Brazil's tourism board, Embratur, says it is 'vehemently' against any products which 'link Brazil's image to sex appeal.' Adidas is one of the World Cup's main sponsors and its ball provider. Following the controversy, the company said that it was withdrawing the T-shirts - a limited edition meant for sale in the United States. 'Adidas always pays close attention to the opinion of its consumers and partners,' its statement read. 'Therefore, it is announcing that these products will not be sold any more.' Earlier on Tuesday, the country's tourism ministry had already criticised the products saying 'any links between national icons and images with sex appeal' were against the country's official marketing policies. 'Such an attitude indirectly contributes to committing crimes such as sexual child and adolescent exploitation,' it said. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff also reacted, tweeting that Brazil was 'happy' to greet tourists for the World Cup. But her country was also ready to 'fight sexual tourism', Rousseff wrote. In a statement, Brazil's Embratur said that 'Brazil does not tolerate this type of crime on its territory.' Brazil says it has been trying to distance itself from the sexual stereotypes that marked the country for decades.

Police are searching for an Irish teenager who is said to have slapped a shop worker across the face with a large fish. CCTV images of a teenage boy and girl have been released by Lancashire Constabulary after the worker was slapped across the face with a bream. The incident took place on 4 February at a supermarket on Hyndburn Road, Accrington. Lancashire Constabulary described the incident as 'completely unacceptable.' In a statement, the police said the fifty two-year-old victim was working behind the fish counter when a young woman approached to ask about different fish. 'Without warning, the woman has picked up a large bream from the fish stall and slapped the worker across the face before running out of the store,' said the statement from Lancashire Constabulary. The bream was left behind although, being a fish, fingerprinting was useless. Fish don't have fingers. 'The victim believes the incident was being filmed on a mobile phone by a man stood nearby who also ran from the scene when challenged.' The girl is described as being Irish and aged between fifteen and eighteen with 'blonde, shoulder-length untidy hair.' She was wearing dark jeans and a blue coat with white cuffs, white down the front and a red collar with 'I love PB' on the left breast pocket. The boy is described as being about the same age, five feet eight inches tall, wearing a dark coat and dark grey trousers and boots. The bream was ... a bream. PC Graham Hartley managed to keep a sight face when saying: 'This behaviour is completely unacceptable and I would appeal to anybody that witnessed this incident or recognises either the man or the woman pictured in the CCTV images to come forward.' Somebody really should think about the poor fish, though. Remember, dear blog reader, fish have soles too.

The science team sifting data from the US space agency's Kepler telescope says it has identified over seven hundred new planets beyond our Solar System. In the nearly two decades since the first so-called exoplanet was discovered, researchers had claimed the detection of just over one thousand new worlds. Kepler's latest bounty are all in multi-planet systems; they orbit only three hundred and five stars. The vast majority, ninety five per cent, are smaller than Neptune, which is four times the radius of the Earth. Four of the new planets are less than 2.5 times the radius of Earth, and they orbit their host suns in the 'habitable zone' - the region around a star where water can keep a liquid state. Whether that is the case on these planets cannot be known for certain - Kepler's targets are hundreds of light-years in the distance and that is too far away for very detailed investigation. The Kepler space telescope was launched in 2009 on a six hundred million dollar mission to assess the likely population of Earth-sized planets in our Milky Way Galaxy. Faulty pointing mechanisms eventually blunted its abilities last year, but not before it had identified thousands of possible, or 'candidate', worlds in a patch of sky in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra. It did this by looking for transits - the periodic dips in light that occur when planets move across the faces of stars. Last year, astronomers used Kepler's data to estimate that one in five stars like the Sun hosts an Earth-sized world. Before Wednesday, the Kepler spacecraft had confirmed the existence of two hundred and forty six exoplanets. It has now pushed this number up to nine hundred and sixty one. That is more than half of all the discoveries made in the field over the past twenty years. 'This is the largest windfall of planets that's ever been announced at one time,' said Douglas Hudgins from NASA's astrophysics division. 'Second, these results establish that planetary systems with multiple planets around one star, like our own Solar System, are in fact common. Third, we know that small planets - planets ranging from the size of Neptune down to the size of the Earth - make up the majority of planets in our galaxy.' When Kepler first started its work, the number of confirmed planets came at a trickle. Scientists had to be sure that the variations in brightness being observed were indeed caused by transiting planets and not by a couple of stars orbiting and eclipsing each other. The follow-up work required to make this distinction - between candidate and confirmation - was laborious. But the sudden dump of new planets announced on Wednesday has exploited a new statistical approach referred to as 'verification by multiplicity.' This rests on the recognition that if a star displays multiple dips in light, it must be planets that are responsible because it is very difficult for several stars to orbit each other in a similar way and maintain a stable configuration. 'This technique that we've introduced for wholesale planet validation will be productive in the future. These results are based on the first two years of Kepler observations and with each additional year, we'll be able to bring in a few hundred more planets,' explained Jack Lissauer, a planetary scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center.

On Thursday evening, dear blog reader yer actual Keith Telly Topping will be attending yer Uncle Scunthorpe's latest Record Player. This week, it's a conceptually fascinating 'world-shattering débuts', face-off featuring Please Please Me versus Ramones. Tasty.
John, Paul, George and Ringo (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) versus Joey, Johnny, Tommy and Dee Dee. 'I Saw Her Standing There' versus 'Blitzkrieg Bop'. Thirty one minutes versus twenty eight. Hey ho, let's go.

And that brings us to the latest Keith Telly Topping's A To Z Of Groovy Tunes which features another début that every home should own. L, dear blog reader, is for The La's.

No comments: