Tuesday, March 04, 2014

N Is For Nostalgia (And Numbers), The News And Naughty Things

The Doctor Who Experience is to debut a new walk through adventure starring yer actual Peter Capaldi. The Cardiff Bay attraction will close the current interactive walk through - which features Matt Smith - in the autumn. The Experience will then reopen at a later date with a new adventure, expected to feature new lead actor Capaldi. The new display is currently in the early planning stages, with an exact date for the revamp yet to be set, a BBC spokesperson told the Digital Spy website. The Doctor Who Experience originally opened in London in February 2011 and moved to Cardiff in July 2012. Planned to remain in Wales until at least 2017, the exhibition features costumes, props and sets from the popular long-running family SF drama and also includes some interactive elements.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self did two podcast interviews whilst at the Gallifrey One convention, dear blog reader. The first one, with Radio Free Skaro, has already been online for a few days (details of which can be found here). The other podcast yer actual Keith Telly Topping took part in - with the very charming and delightful Chip Sudderth from Two Minute Time Lord - is also now available online, here. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is on first, talking about ... well, all sorts of stuff, for about ten minutes. Subjects include Doctor Who's position as one of the BBC's so-called 'super-brands', watching Fury From The Deep in 1968 as a life-changing incident, a thirty year appreciation of Peter Capaldi his very self and whether yer actual Keith Telly Topping actually exists, or not. True story. Plus, Barry Chuckle. Really.

And now, dear blog reader, here's a picture of yer actual Benny Cumberbatch his very self totally photobombing The U2 Group at the Oscars. The thoughts of Mr Bonio out of The U2 Group, Mr The Edge (with his silly hat) out of The U2 Group and ... the other two out of The U2 Group are not, at this time, known.
If you're wondering, dear blog reader, yes Benny is on a bungee rope and Molly is at a window just out of shot waiting to haul him in if necessary.

The From The North award for the best advert of the year so far - by the mile - goes to the new Freeview ad using 'You're All I Need To Get By' by Marvin and Tammi being lip-synch'd by a pussy and budgie. Quality entertainment!
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is, currently, fishing for sympathy dear blog reader since his back pain has been worse than ever over the weekend. (Well, all right, worse than it has been for a few years, anyway - I don't want to over-dramatise this, the pain management is pretty well controlled via ibuprofen.) So yer actual Keith Telly Topping went to see the lovely and compassionate Doctor Chris first thing on Monday morning to get this shit sorted. And that. The probability is that it's still just - and I say, just with a hollow chuckle - another sciatica flare-up ('the old trouble' as Doctor Chris noted, with sagacity) But there is also a possibility it maybe a compressed disc. So we're going to give it a couple of weeks to see if it settles down and, if there's no improvement yer actual Keith Telly Topping will be whipped off to get an MRI. If it is a disc issue then, at that point, it's likely to require an operation at some stage. Meanwhile, in other - good - news, Keith Telly Topping's weight is down again to equal the low level of last December. Which really surprised yer actual Keith Telly Topping given the, freely admitted, Christmas pig-out and then spending a week in the USA, the land of the pancake breakfast, recently. So ... medically, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is a total wreck. But, at least, he's a marginally thinner total wreck!

Call The Midwife once again - easily - won the Sunday ratings, according to overnight data. BBC1's recently-renewed drama climbed to 8.95 million at 8pm. The Musketeers continued, dipping approximately one hundred thousand punters week-on-week to 4.40m at 9pm. Earlier, Blandings attracted 3.75m at 6.30pm, followed by Countryfile with 6.76m at 7pm. ITV's Twatting About On Ice semi-final dropped around four hundred thousand to 5.02m at 6.15pm. The subsequent results show brought in 4.23m at 8.30pm. Mr Selfridge climbed from the previous week's episode to 4.50m at 9pm beating The Musketeers on overnights for the first time this series, while All-Star Family Fortunes failed to entertain 4.36m at 7.45pm. On BBC2, Top Gear was again - by a huge distance - the most watched show of the night with 5.10m at 8pm. Dragons' Den rose by four hundred thousand viewers to 3.23m at 9pm. Channel Four's Fish Fight With Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall interested seven hundred and eighty eight thousand at 7pm. A Time Team special appealed to nine hundred and fifty two thousand at 8pm, while the Angelina Jolie film Salt had an audience of 1.18m at 9pm. On Channel Five, the SF classic The Fifth Element brought in eight hundred and eighteen thousand at 6.45pm.

The final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Five programmes for week-ending Sunday 23 February are as follows:-
1 Call The Midwife - Sun BBC1 - 10.49m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.11m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.72m
4 The Voice - Sat BBC1 - 8.33m
5 Death In Paradise - Tues BBC1 - 8.27m
6 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.69m
7 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.24m
8 Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway - Sat ITV - 6.97m
9 Inspector George Gently - Thurs BBC1 - 6.57m
10 Top Gear - Sun BBC2 - 6.53m
11 DCI Banks - Mon ITV - 6.26m*
12 UEFA Champions League Live - Tues ITV - 5.98m
13 Mr Selfridge - Sun ITV - 5.94m
14 The Musketeers - Sun BBC1 - 5.91m
15 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.87m
16 Six O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 5.60m
17 Outnumbered - Wed BBC1 - 5.46m
18 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 5.39m
19 The National Lottery: Who Dares Wins - Sat BBC - 5.35m
20 BBC News - Sat BBC1 - 5.33m
21 Twatting About On Ice - Sun ITV - 5.30m*
22 Rugby Six Nations - Sat BBC1 - 5.25m
23 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.97m
24 Mrs Brown's Boys - Wed BBC1 - 4.62m
25 The ONE Show - Wed BBC1 - 4.56m
ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's top-rated show of the week apart from Top Gear was University Challenge (3.59m), followed by The Great British Sewing Bee (3.49m) and Line Of Duty (3.21m). Channel Four's highest-rated show was Benefits Britain: The Debate with 3.37m. The Hotel Inspector was Channel Five's best performer with 1.75m.

The television historian Mary Beard - a particular favourite of From The North - has said that having a panel show 'quota' for women will lead to them being 'vilified' in reviews. The broadcaster, writing in the Radio Times, said that older women on-screen were singled out for their 'glaring eccentricity and deficient grooming.' Female radio broadcasters, she added, 'tend to have unusually deep voices.' The BBC's director of television Danny Cohen recently said there would no longer be any all-male panel shows. Comedian and Mock The Week host Dara O Briain subsequently criticised the move, saying that 'legislating for a token woman isn't much help.' He subsequently clarified that he had lobbied for more female comics on the show, but had objected to it being publicly announced as a policy. Cambridge professor Beard, who wrote and presented the - superb - BBC2 documentary about the Roman emperor Caligula last year, said that quotas 'do not get to the root of the problem. The fact is that even now authority still seems to reside with the men in suits, and their deep voices; and those are the types we still assume we'll see when we're looking for words of wisdom on TV,' she wrote in the Radio Times' Viewpoint column. 'It's easy enough to agree with [Danny] Cohen's instincts, but it's less easy to see what practical steps the BBC (or any media company) should take.' Mary added that it was 'up to viewers' to change the landscape, saying the 'gender gap' would finally be bridged 'when almost every viewer in the land would simply think that it looked very weird to have a panel made up of four blokes.' Mary's next project is Oh Do Shut Up Dear, a programme about the role of women in public debate, on BBC4 on 16 March.

Sunday's Oscars ceremony, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, was watched by forty three million TV viewers in the US. That's a lot. According to broadcaster ABC, it was the biggest audience for the Academy Awards event in a decade. The audience was 6.4 per cent higher than last year when the event was fronted by Seth McFarlane, according to initial ratings figures from Nielsen. The most recent biggest TV audience was 43.6m in 2004, when The Lord of the Rings: Return Of The King had a very good night. The most watched Oscars ceremony on television came in 1998, when the triumph of Titanic with eleven Academy awards was seen by fifty five million punters. Last year's choice of irreverent host McFarlane drew criticism from some quarters and praise from others. DeGeneres - hosting the event for the second time - was seen by some media commentators as 'a safer pair of hands.' More boring, in other words. The comedian and TV host received rather mixed reviews for this year's ceremony, but her tenure was seen as a step away from recent attempts to draw in a younger audience. Despite this, data from ratings trackers Nielsen suggested that there was an increase of one per cent in the crucial eighteen to thirty four-year-old audience bracket. Regardless of the critics' views, Degeneres' staged a 'selfie' photograph with several of the stars in the audience which was a hit on social media, setting the record for the most retweets by twats on Twitter - more than two million. Ellen declared that she wanted 'to break the record' for the most retweeted photograph in history, featuring herself surrounded by the front row talent - and best supporting actress winner Lupita Nyong'o's brother. She broke the record within the hour, and in doing so, broke Twitter's servers too. Sadly, they were back up later.

Yer actual Matthew Perry will make his UK TV debut in a new Playhouse Presents Sky Arts comedy, The Dog Thrower. The Friends star will team up with comic Tim Key and Fresh Meat's Kimberley Nixon for the one-off feature, which follows the story of a nervous young man (played by Key) who attempts to 'become popular by copying a charismatic man who is throwing his dog in the air' in front of a crowd. Scottish indie band Belle and Sebastian are producing the soundtrack. The Dog Thrower was written by Jon Ronson and will be broadcast on 1 May on Sky Arts. Perry is currently working in the US on a TV remake of The Odd Couple. Playhouse Presents is the acclaimed Sky Arts drama and comedy strand, which pushes original and innovative UK writing. Other Playhouse Presents productions this year include Timeless, which will feature model Cara Delevingne making her acting debut and Foxtrot, which will star Ben Whishaw and Billie Piper.

When the BBC revealed a new long-term partnership with the Agatha Christie estate last week, it seemed to have sparked a debate along the lines of 'how do we rejuvenate peaktime drama on BBC1?' Whether Christie's work is the long-term solution remains to be seen. It is a safe bet, no doubt, to turn to the woman described by the BBC's controller of drama Ben Stephenson as 'the bestselling novelist in the world, ever.' BBC1 drama has to be broad, as Stephenson is keen to point out. But does it have to be 'safe'? There's been no shortage of Christie on the box of late, nearly all of it (Poirot, Marple) on ITV. It was also ITV which last adapted Christie's Tommy and Tuppence tales (in 1983, starring Francesca Annis) which BBC1 will turn into Partners In Crime on BBC1, starring David Walliams. Another new BBC1 drama, EF Benson's Mapp and Lucia, was last seen on ITV, in the 1980s, starring Geraldine McEwan and Prunella Scales. The BBC Trust told BBC1 to up its game in the peaktime drama stakes last year with more 'quality, variety and originality.' So far this year it has had the massively successful return of Sherlock, The Musketeers, Jonathan Creek and its original two-parter The 7.39, along with those returning big hitters, Call The Midwife and Death In Paradise. Stephenson made no effort to hide his irritation, when asked at the Christie launch last week by some arsehole of no importance at the Gruniad Monring Star, whether he was seeking a long-running The Killing/Broadchurch-style thriller. 'I'm not interested in copying other broadcasters. I'm not going to say, that show's really successful, can we have something like that? It's so anti-creative,' he said. 'We have to appeal to all and therefore we have to work with a broad variety [of subjects],' said Stephenson, who added he was never going to commission 'three twenty-part series that are watched by one particular type of audience.' Stephenson said that drama was 'central to audience perceptions' of the BBC. It is also a crucial time for the corporation, as it gears up for charter renewal and a new licence fee deal. 'Drama, alongside news, is the major driver of ratings, reach, appreciation, basically everything,' said Stephenson. 'Coming up there are big challenges. I see them as things that make us better. With Netflix and Amazon, I think there are ninety four broadcasters, to use a conventional word, making drama in America. Drama has become the cultural identity of television around the world.' In Sherlock and Doctor Who, the BBC has two worldwide drama brands, but Stephenson said that BBC drama did not have the pressure to make money like its commercial rivals. 'We won't say "no" if something won't make money internationally,' he said. 'I really couldn't care less.' Like its Christie adaptations, BBC1 will return to another TV classic, Poldark, the classic costume drama reimagined for a new audience with Aiden Turner in the lead role. Fans of contemporary drama will be catered for via bitter old Red Jimmy McGovern and his film Common, starring Michael Gambon, or Peter Bowker's From There To Here. Further down the line is the eight-part crime drama The Interceptor, which will star White Heat's David Gyasi and Trevor Eve and Abi Morgan's The River, with Stellan Skarsgård playing the lead role of a troubled detective, all of which will be on BBC1. 'BBC1 is the big stage, it's where all audiences can come to. It needs to communicate with the audience in quite a direct way,' said Stephenson. 'What we try to do on BBC2 is do it with an angle. It's not going to be for everyone – The Fall, people adored or hated it. Peaky Blinders - I got some of the most appreciative e-mails and some of the most stinky. I love that, that's fantastic. BBC1 should also have really strong flavours - Common, From There To Here - these are not soft pieces, they tackle issues at the heart of British society.'

Bruce Forsyth's future on Strictly Come Dancing is 'not secure', according to new BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore. In an extensive interview with The Sunday Times about her plans for the channel, Moore confessed that she needed to 'hold talks' with the eighty six-year-old about his future on the BBC1 Saturday night smash hit. Strictly remains one of the most popular shows in Britain with Forsyth and Tess Daly at the helm, but the veteran presenter has cut back his hours in recent series, handing over the Sunday results show to Claudia Winkleman. Forsyth had planned breaks in the 2013 schedule, but also missed a Saturday night episode through illness. Commenting on his future with the show, Moore said: 'Yes, he is not young and has missed a couple of programmes. So it is really important to have that conversation. Strictly is a phenomenon of British television and very robust. But it isn't about one presenter.'

Toby Jones is to star in an upcoming BBC2 film. The actor will lead the cast in the one-off ninety-minute TV movie Marvellous, from Fifty Fathoms and Tiger Aspect. Marvellous is based on the life of Neil Baldwin, a man who came to prominence after writer Peter Bowker's 2010 article in the Gruniad. 'Neil Baldwin walked into the students' union in 1960, an engaging schoolboy with learning difficulties from the local town of Newcastle-under-Lyme, and became a fixture,' Bowker said. The film is a biopic of Baldwin, a man who worked as a circus clown, lay preacher and kit man at Stoke City FC. He is good friends with top athletes and senior clergy, and was awarded an Honorary Degree by Keele University for his fifty-year association with Keele University. Bowker said: 'I have long been interested in how we use labels to limit the people we are describing - even, at worse, to dehumanise them. But Neil - despite being labelled and to some extent written off as a young man - struck me as a man who defied those who wished to define him. It struck me if there was going to be a drama about Neil then it had to reflect his fluid and eccentric story. It is, therefore, part biopic, part musical, part fantasy. It isn't always an easy story. It isn't sugar coated, but I think it is ultimately optimistic and celebratory. And I think that's important in this era where vilifying and writing off others has become something of a national pastime.' Toby Jones said: 'I am really intrigued and eager to explore Peter Bowker's innovative and uplifting script.' BBC Drama's Lucy Richer added: 'The combination of Neil's inspirational and incredible life story combined with Peter's passion and wonderful writing will ensure Marvellous is unmissable viewing for BBC2.'

It was a news editor's nightmare that ended up trending on Twitter. Irish state broadcaster RTÉ was hit by 'a technical glitch' on Monday evening during its Prime Time news and current affairs programme. In an interview, the Russian ambassador to Ireland, Maxim Peshkov, used the words: 'Irish Ukrainians not Russians' and suddenly something stuck. For about the next fifteen minutes, viewers were treated to the phrase over and over again on a loop. It was as if someone had put an old scratched vinyl record on a timetable and the needle got stuck. Twitter users quickly suggested that the sound bite was a bit of brainwashing and, perhaps, Ireland had been invaded. 'Expecting "This is your new leader" any moment now,' said one Twatterer. Others appreciated the rhythm of it and called on RTÉ to go for a techno remix. Which, typically, someone had up on You Tube within hours. It was pretty good, actually. One Twatter suggested: 'Very excited for Eurovision, now that we've picked.' Yet another said: 'Typical of scenes nationwide as people, demented, walk from their homes.' The Irish Independent said that RTÉ had reportedly received 'a flood of calls' about the gaffe. The managing director of RTÉ news and current affairs Kevin Bakhurst later tweeted: 'Many apologies to those watching RTE1 and #rtept - the engineers were aware and trying to sort. Not acceptable fault. Infuriating.' In a statement on Tuesday RTÉ said: 'We'd like to apologise for last night's transmission error on RTÉ1 which was caused by an equipment failure in hardware installed in December as part of the RTÉ1 HD project. Transmission for those watching on standard definition was interrupted for just over thirteen minutes. The automated system had to be manually overridden and this delayed the glitch being rectified. The transmission on RTÉ 1 HD was not affected.' So, in other words, if you were a cheepskate and didn't buy HD, it's your own fault!

Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury is leaving the BBC Sunday evening show and has signed up to join a rival ITV show. Bradbury has presented Countryfile for nearly five years, helping make her a household name. She is leaving Countryfile to front a five-part series about Britain's landscape for ITV. Bradbury said of the new ITV show, which is expected to rival Countryfile: 'I go camping on-screen and wake up at 6am and people see me peeping out of a sleeping bag wearing a beanie, so it's not about looking glamorous and young.' Bradbury told Hello! magazine: '[It was] something I couldn't afford to turn down at this stage in my life and career. I've been heavily [involved] in the development of this one, so it's very close to my heart.' The BBC confirmed that Bradbury was leaving, saying: 'After five years, Julia has decided to leave Countryfile.' The corporation said that it would appoint a replacement for Bradbury 'in due course', to join the presenting team of Matt Baker, John Craven and Ellie Harrison. A spokeswoman said that Bradbury 'may be open' to further projects with the BBC indicating that the parting was reasonably amicable. Bradbury has also presented Wainwright's Walks for BBC4, a series based on the guidebooks of the famous Lakeland walker Alfred Wainwright, along with presenting Watchdog. Along with her work for the BBC, Bradbury has also previously presented the - memorably shite - ITV game show Take On The Twisters.

And speaking of rats deserting a sinking ship, as it were, Susanna Reid has also abandoned the Beeb and will front new ITV breakfast show Good Morning Britain after the broadcaster confirmed on Monday that it was dumping the ill-fated fiasco Daybreak after less than four years on-air. ITV has turned to Reid, who presents rival morning show Breakfast on BBC1, to present the new show alongside Ben Shephard, Charlotte Hawkins and Sean Fletcher. Hawkins has been hired from Sky News, where she fronts the Sunrise breakfast programme alongside odious lard bucket Eamonn Holmes. Because BBC staffers getting their filthy greed right on going over to ITV for mucho wonga has such a massive history of success and not at all seeing careers cattle-trucked, doesn't it? Shephard is a presenter on ITV and Sky Sports and will be a familiar face to ITV breakfast viewers as a former presenter of GMTV. The fourth face of the new show, Sean Fletcher, is a previous news and sport presenter across the BBC, including Breakfast, and is currently working for Sky Sports. ITV claimed that Good Morning Britain would launch 'later this year' and would put 'engaging, news driven content' at its heart. Reid's departure is a big blow for the BBC. She is the star name of its Breakfast programme which regularly has more than double the audience of Daybreak, her stock rising further when she made the final of BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing, although she was criticised by fellow contestant Fiona Fullerton for her 'relentless PR campaign' during the course of the show. Daybreak presenter Aled Jones has been extremely dropped from its weekday line-up, moving to a new weekend show, Weekend. His co-host, Lorraine Kelly, will switch back to her old 8.30am weekday slot. In turning to Reid, it is a case of history repeating itself for ITV. The broadcaster hired BBC presenters odious grumpy old greed bucket (and drag) Adrian Chiles and The Curious Orange Christine Bleakley to present Daybreak after it axed GMTV in 2010. And, my, didn't that work out so well for everyone? Despite launching in a blaze of publicity the show never took off, with even Chiles his very self later describing it - and, possibly himself - as 'a crock of shit.' ITV Director of Daytime, Helen Warner, said: 'Our overriding aim is to continue to improve our breakfast programming for our viewers and we have been working for some time behind the scenes developing the next chapter of our offering. Engaging, news driven content is our number one priority and will be at the heart of everything we do on Good Morning Britain.' Reid was reported to have been offered one million smackers by ITV to change channels, although alleged 'sources' allegedly quoted by the Gruniad Morning Star said these estimates were 'excessive.' However, she is sure to earn far more than the two hundred and fifty grand she is currently believed to be paid at the BBC. Reid become the main presenter of BBC1's Breakfast programme in 2012 alongside Bill Turnbull. The Breakfast programme moved out of London to the corporation's new BBC North HQ in Salford two years ago but Reid declined to make the switch full time, commuting from her London home. Critics had suggested that the BBC1 programme would struggle to attract big name guests onto its sofa when it moved out of the capital, but this has, seemingly, not dented its ratings. ITV recently completed a review of its ill-starred breakfast fiasco Daybreak, which has stumbled through various incarnations and presenter line-ups since replacing GMTV three-and-a-half years ago, but still miserably trails far behind its BBC1 rival in the ratings. The odious Chiles and Bleakley - to the absolute hilarity of most of the country - left with their tails between their legs after only fifteen months following Daybreak's launch and the programme, which has been through four editors in less than four years, regularly has less than half the audience which tunes into BBC1's Breakfast. Daybreak typically averages around six hundred thousand viewers against BBC1 Breakfast's 1.6 million.

David Beckham is going to launch his TV presenting career on BBC1, according to the channel's controller Charlotte Moore. Gosh, that'll be a meeting of minds. Speaking to The Sunday Times about her plans for the channel, Moore said that the former England captain was working on a programme for the broadcaster. Moore didn't give any details about the show, but said that it wouldn't be about football. The newspaper report speculated that the programme could be about fatherhood or modelling. Although, equally, it could be about nuclear physics. Or flower arranging. Beckham retired from all forms of football in 2013, but recently returned to the game as the owner of a new Major League Soccer franchise in Miami. His post-football career has so far been dominated by charity work and modelling. Beckham will appear on the BBC in a TV cameo for Sport Relief later this month, when he teams up with Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst in a special Only Fools And Horses sketch.

ITV crime drama Broadchurch has been nominated for three Royal Television Society Programme Awards. Two of its stars Olivia Colman and Jodie Whittaker are both shortlisted in the best actress category, while it is also up for best drama serial. Colman's nomination also encompasses her work in Channel Four's Run. Other nominees include Stephen Fry, Sir David Attenborough and Davina McCall, who will contest the best presenter prize at the ceremony on 18 March. Comedian Tim Vine will host the event, to be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Central London. Colman and Whittaker face competition in their category from Sharon Rooney, recognised for her role in Channel Four's My Mad Fat Teenage Diary. Colman's Run co-star Lennie James, meanwhile, competes for the best actor prize against The Tunnel's Stephen Dillane and Luther star Idris Elba. My Mad Fat Teenage Diary is also up for the drama series prize, as are BBC2's Peaky Blinders and Channel Four's Utopia. BBC3 zombie drama In The Flesh and Jane Campion's New Zealand-set mystery Top Of The Lake are also in contention for the drama serial award. An additional prize for best single drama sees Burton and Taylor compete against fellow BBC productions Our Girl and The Challenger. Casualty, Coronation Street and Emmerdale are shortlisted for the soap and continuing drama award, won by the Manchester-based series at last year's ceremony. Olivia Colman was also honoured at the 2013 event, winning the best actress prize for her work in BBC1's courtroom drama Accused. Other nominees this year include Brendan O'Carroll, shortlisted for the comedy performance prize for his cross-dressing role in Mrs Brown's Boys. There is also a nomination for popular BBC1 quiz show Pointless, shortlisted for the RTS Daytime award alongside Channel Four's Four Rooms and ITV's The Chase.

Game Of Thrones stars Charles Dance and Rose Leslie are to lead ITV's new drama The Great Fire. Boardwalk Empire actor Jack Huston will also star opposite Andrew Buchan and Daniel Mays in the four-parter, co-written by Tom Bradby. The Great Fire - due to start shooting later this month - will tell the story of baker Thomas Farriner and his fabled involvement in The Great Fire of London in 1666. Broadchurch star Buchan will play Thomas, with Leslie cast as his - fictional - sister-in-law, Sarah. Mays will play the famed diarist Samuel Pepys, with Huston as King Charles II and Oliver Jackson-Cohen portraying his brother, James the Duke of York. Dance will play Lord Denton - an emissary of the King's - in the series, with Perdita Weeks, Andrew Tiernan and Antonia Clarke completing the cast. Mr Selfridge director Jon Jones will be behind the camera on all four episodes, which will use pyrotechnics and special effects - as opposed to CGI - to recreate the famous fire. 'In 1666 London was the greatest city in the world with a population of thee hundred thousand,' said executive producer Douglas Rae. 'In just four days The Great Fire destroyed nearly half the city and threatened the monarchy. It's a fascinating premise for a drama and creates the perfect backdrop for Tom Bradby to be at his most creative. We have assembled an amazing cast and production team and we're looking forward to filming Tom's fantastic scripts.'

She may be more used to beating eggs than mixing beats, but The Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry has admitted that she once visited the infamous Ibiza club Pacha. Berry, now seventy eight, told the Daily Torygraph that when she was seventy one she was in the White Isle for a friend’s wedding when she decided she wanted a night out. She told the newspaper: 'They stamp you as you go in, and you can see the steam coming out as you go up the steps. It was like a rabbit warren: lots of little rooms and in every room there was music, there were bars, there were strange drinks, there were people smoking or sitting on the floor.' But what seems to have fascinated the TV baker most was the clubbers' outfits: 'There was every type of clothing you could imagine: miniskirts, some of them with hardly anything on. The noise was amazing and of course the boys couldn't stand it. They went outside and waited for us on the stairs, and the girls all hung together inside. We didn't want to miss a trick.' Berry also admits to watching Breaking Bad on-set with presenters Mel and Sue: 'It's shocking! Then you get into it and you think: "Have I seen episode four or five?" You get hooked. It's better than motor racing, which Paul [her husband] watches — though I'd prefer Downton Abbey.'
Former Scum of the World editor and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks has claimed that payments to victims of phone-hacking were kept secret to 'stop more people suing.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that she had 'not known' hacking was going on until a 2006 police probe at which point she realised her company could face 'huge' costs. As, indeed, they have done. She also told the phone-hacking trial about a two hundred thousand smackers-a-year contract with PR consultant Max Clifford, as part of which he agreed to drop legal action against the newspaper. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks denies four charges. Giving evidence at the Old Bailey, she said that police told her in 2006 private investigator Glenn Mulcaire had 'probably' hacked into the voicemails of one hundred to one hundred and ten people. Mulcaire and former Scum of the World royal editor Clive Goodman were extremely jailed in January 2007 for hacking. Speaking about the situation once the police told her about hacking, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said: 'Obviously News International was sitting facing an unknown exposure for civil liability of Glenn Mulcaire's activity.' She added: 'The potential liability was huge. It was felt our best policy to protect the company, commercially, was to do confidential settlements.' On the deal with Clifford, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that the Sun and the Scum of the World 'stopped dealing' with Clifford after a dispute in 2005. She said Clifford was one of the victims in the case involving Mulcaire and Goodman - and she agreed a two hundred thousand knicker annual contract to create a 'successful commercial relationship' and get him to drop legal proceedings. The court heard that as the number of celebrities suing News International began to grow in 2009, the company's lawyers were worried the cases might result in a court order for Mulcaire to 'name names' of Scum of the World journalists he had dealt with. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that the company opposed this because Mulcaire was 'an unreliable witness.' Asked if she had any concern that Mulcaire would reveal information about her editorship of the Scum of the World from 2000 to 2003, she said: 'None whatsoever. Most of the claims were 2005, 2006.' Tony Blair contacted well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks the day after it was revealed that Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked offering to 'help her get through the mounting crisis', the Old Bailey heard. The former prime minister texted contacted well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks on 5 July 2011 saying: 'Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Thinking of you.' His contact was made as the crisis threatening to engulf News International had taken what well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks described as a 'horrific' twist when the Guardian reported that the missing Surrey schoolgirl's phone had been hacked by the Scum of the World and her voicemails had been deleted giving her parents 'false hope' that she was still alive. Blair continued in his text: 'I have been through things like this.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks replied to Blair: 'Thank you. I know what it is like. GB pals getting their own back.' She explained to the court that GB was Gordon Brown. Her text continued: 'Rupert and James [Murdoch, the small] have been brilliant. Hopefully in this climate the truth will out.' Blair was one of a number of high profile people including education secretary the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty louse, slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove and - soon to be former - CNN presenter oily twat Piers Morgan who texted well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks after the Gruniad story to offer their support. Morgan, with whom she had worked at the start of her career on the Scum of the World, texted her to say: 'When it rains, it fucking pours. Grit your teeth and stay strong,' the Old Bailey heard. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks replied to Morgan: 'Terrible. Makes me sick when watching the news. Can't believe anyone would do that. Must have been Mulcaire.' Morgan then advised well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks that if she knew it wasn't someone on the staff of the paper, she should 'get a statement out' immediately, texting: 'If it was not a staffer, you've got to get that out there fast. Lots of fury building on Internet.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told him: 'Taking the usual News Corp tin hat approach.' Morgan replied: 'Bloody shocking if true.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said: 'I agree.' The following morning, on 5 July 2011, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told the court that Morgan texted 'sarcastically' to tell her she was 'trending' on Twitter. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks also revealed that she 'secretly' met Andy Coulson to warn him about 'incriminating evidence' of phone-hacking a week before Coulson resigned as the prime minister's director of communications, the Old Bailey heard on Monday. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told the jury that an internal search of e-mails in January 2011 had disclosed three messages which showed that a Scum of the World journalist was 'fully engaged' in the interception of voicemail. The e-mails which had been discovered suggested a journalist - who cannot be named for legal reasons - had been involved in hacking while Coulson was editor from 2003 to 2007. She had asked her personal assistant to arrange for her to meet the prime minister's, if you will, 'chum', Coulson early on the morning of 14 January, specifying that the location should be 'discreet.' She said that she had called the meeting after months of civil litigation in which public figures had been suing News International for allegedly intercepting their voicemail during the 2005 to 2006 period when Coulson was editing the Scum of the World. 'It was to tell Andy that we had found some pretty incriminating evidence. It was with the backdrop of the previous few months as well. It was evidently becoming very difficult for Andy's position in Downing Street with this ongoing civil litigation process. It was a very difficult balance between running the communications for Downing Street and being part of the story.' The jury heard that Coulson resigned from his post seven days later. On her eighth day in the witness box well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks traced the gathering crisis as the disclosure of the three incriminating messages led to the creation of the Operation Weeting police inquiry. As that inquiry began, on 26 January, she arranged for her office to be swept for bugs. She did this, she said, because her Blackberry was 'behaving oddly' and because so much information seemed to be leaking. 'It probably sounds paranoid,' she said, 'but maybe that's the world we lived in. The level of paranoia was quite high. My own revolved about secrecy and privacy. Everything seemed to leak in some form or another. It got worse and worse.' By April, for the first time, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was warned that she, herself, may be arrested. She was on holiday in Barbados, she said, when she had a telephone conference to discuss the arrest on 14 April of the Scum of the World's former news editor, James Weatherup. She was told that the police were 'very angry' and were threatening to take action against one of their lawyers, Ian Burton of Burton Copeland, because he had advised the paper to clear Weatherup's desk before they had a chance to search it. 'I was told that the team dealing with the Metropolitan police believed that I could be arrested on my return.' At around this time, she told the jury, she had learned that the head of Operation Weeting, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, had asked for well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks to be removed from the 'confidentiality club' of News International personnel who were allowed to read documents being disclosed in the civil actions. When well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks returned from Barbados she had sought legal advice from a London law firm. By June, she disclosed, the company was already considering closing down the Scum of the World – at least a month before the Milly Dowler crisis – in the hope that this would help billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's bid to take over BSkyB. The jury were told of an e-mail, written by the company's director of public affairs, Simon Greenberg, in early June 2011, as News Corp sought to complete the takeover, which was known internally as Operation Rubicon. Reacting to an allegation that the Scum of the World had been involved in hacking computers as well as voicemail, Greenberg wrote: 'This is why we should consider the shut-down option. Is the brand too toxic for itself and for us?' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said that she had previously discussed the possibility of closing the paper with Greenberg and with the company's general manager, Will Lewis.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said that she knew News International's position in 2009 that phone-hacking at the Scum of the World was down to 'a rogue reporter' was 'shaky' after she was shown documents that eavesdropping on voicemails went beyond the royal household, the Old Bailey has heard. And yet she, and the company, continued to publicly stick to this defence until January 2011. She told the phone-hacking trial that 'the corporate position' - that the unlawful interception was down to a single 'rogue' reporter on the paper, Clive Gooodman - had 'come from the News of the World editor Colin Myler.' The court heard that the Gruniad Morning Star article in July 2009 claimed News International had agreed a one million smackers out-of-court settlement with Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, whose phone had been hacked. Within two weeks, documents had emerged publicly which showed that the Scum of the World had transcripts of thirty five of Taylor's messages attached to an internal e-mail from a reporter Ross Hindley marked 'For Neville.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said that she was shown this e-mail over eighteen months before it emerged in public sometime in July 2009. She claimed that this showed 'the sort of emphaticness of the company's statement that nobody else knew that Glenn Mulcaire was going was looking shaky after that because this was an e-mail from someone at the News of the World.' Her defence counsel, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, put it to her that the article reported that private investigator Mulcaire had hacked thousands of phones and that the company had agreed the deal with Taylor 'to prevent details being made public.' Asked by Laidlaw if now, in 2014, she believed that Gruniad article 'to be true', well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks responded: 'Yes.' Asked if at the time she believed the article to be true, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks responded: 'No I didn't.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that she did not think the article supported her belief, now and then, that hacking did not take place during her own editorship of the Scum of the World in 2000 and 2003. She told the court that she had 'received a briefing' from police in 2006 following the arrest of Mulcaire that he had hacked between one hundred and one hundred and ten people. She said that nothing between the sentencing of Mulcaire and the paper's royal editor, Goodman, in 2006 and the Gruniad article in 2009 had 'suggested anything different.' Goodman and Mulcaire were extremely sentenced in January 2007; News International made a financial settlement with the paper's royal editor later that year and the matter of hacking was 'considered closed', the court heard. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said: 'I was told they had settled with Clive but from May or June 2007 the entire subject almost went without any conversation.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was editor of the Sun in July 2009 when the Gruniad article was published but she was to be promoted to chief executive in September that year. She said that she 'seemed to remember' the article had suggested up to four thousand people had been hacked, but she did not believe this to be true when she read it in 2009. This was because she had received a briefing from police following Goodman's arrest suggesting the number of victims was a fraction of that when she met DCI Keith Surtees in 2006. 'He had said between one hundred and one hundred and ten victims. Nothing since that moment in 2006 and the public statement [of rogue reporter], the Press Complaints Commission [investigation], the sentencing; nothing had shown to me that this was not the case,' claimed well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks. The court heard of a second settlement with Max Clifford. He had been banned from dealing with the Sun and the Scum of the World by News International's chief executive Les Hinton in 2005, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said, and the company was keen to 'bring him back into the fold. News of the World, at the time, had paid Max Clifford millions and millions with the history of twenty-years plus,' she said. News International agreed to pay Mulcaire's legal fees specifically to stop him implicating other reporters in a court case that loomed after Clifford launched civil proceedings for damages over hacking. The firm's lawyer Tom Crone agreed to pay for Mulcaire to be represented after it transpired that he could be forced to identify who had commissioned him to hack phones if Clifford's case came to court. Brooks told the court: 'We were opposing that order – again this is in the context of a civil liability – on the basis that he was an unreliable witness going forward naming names, and both financially and reputationally we didn't want that to happen. The view was that he could say anyone or anything.' She said there were 'concerns' after it emerged during police disclosure that Mulcaire's notes appeared to include the names of 'other people' apart from the five victims named in the proceedings against him in 2008 which included Clifford. 'The list of potential civil claimants was growing sideways if you like,' she said under examination by her defence counsel. 'Our decision at News International was to settle as confidentially as possible to prevent further damage reputationally and financially.' She claimed that she had he 'inherited' such a policy and 'maintained it with Max Clifford.' Brooks, who became News International chief executive in 2009, said that News Group Newspapers, publisher of the Scum of the World and the Sun had 'fallen out' with Clifford and her predecessor, Les Hinton, had 'imposed a ban' on working with him. He had earned 'millions and millions of pounds' for stories from the publisher, she said. The jury heard that Brooks struck a deal with Clifford for two hundred thousand knicker a year in 2009 to resume business with the Sun and the Scum of the World, ending the three-or four-year ban. Brooks said he felt he needed to be compensated for loss of earnings over the blackout period. Asked if the civil case caused her concern that hacking might have taken place during her editorship, she replied: 'Absolutely not, at this stage we are still dealing with 2005 or 2006.' Asked whether whether 'throughout 2010' she ever 'had concerns' that hacking took place on the Scum of the World, which she edited between 2000 and 2003, she responded: 'No.' The court heard that the Gruniad reported Sienna Miller had launched civil proceedings for hacking in 2010 but Brooks felt suspending the Scum of the World reporter the paper claimed to be involved was 'not the right course of action.' At the time News Corp had launched a takeover bid for BSkyB and the Gruniad's revelation led to an exchange of e-mails with the then head of corporate affairs, Matthew Anderson. Brooks said that announcing the journalist's suspension was 'not going to change Vince Cable's view' of the bid. She commented on the BBC political editor Nick Robinson's view of the Miller article, jurors heard. 'He rubbished the whole thing and said it was one side of the civil case and total unprofessional reporting,' she said. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks is charged with conspiracy to hack phones, conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. She is one of seven defendants in the trial. They all deny the charges.

It's one of the longest-running feuds in showbiz and is set to last even longer than a Tesla without a recharge. Jezza Clarkson's loathing of Piers Morgan was there for all to see on Sunday with the Top Gear presenter using his BBC2 show to give the (soon to be former) CNN talk show host both barrels in the chest and a stab in the kidneys with his bayonet. Introducing The Stig on Sunday night's show Clarkson told viewers: 'Some say that his hair is the same shape as a hat, and that if he worked for CNN he wouldn't get such pitifully low ratings that his show got cancelled.' Then, to Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul, appearing as the star in a reasonably priced car, Jezza added: 'We know US networks, they're brutal. One minute you've got a chat show ...' All this after Jezza had also taken aim at Morgan with his Sunday Times column, dubbing the frightful, risible Morgan as 'a friendless, broken shell.'
The BBC has revealed further casting details of upcoming five-part drama The Secrets. Downton Abbey's Joanne Froggatt, World Without End's Ben Chaplin and Silent Witness actress Emilia Fox have signed up to appear in an episode written by Elinor Cook. Each thirty-minute episode of the Dominic Savage-directed drama will centre around a provocative incident told from separate viewpoints. Cook's episode focuses on a man who is married to two women as he leads a secret double life. Nick Payne will write two episodes of the series, starring previously announced cast members Olivia Coleman, Alison Steadman and Steve Oram, while Sarah Solemani will write and star in her own instalment as a bride-to-be who discovers her fiancé was once accused of a shocking crime. Ben Ockrent will pen an episode starring silly little Helen Baxendale, Anthony Welsh and Waterloo Road's Paige Meade, which revolves around a girl who turns up out of the blue claiming to be a boy's unknown sister. Head of Television for Working Title Television Juliette Howell said: 'I'm thrilled that Dominic has assembled such a stellar line up. It's hugely exciting to see so many of our finest actors bringing these original and distinctive new voices to life on BBC1.' Producer Guy Heeley added: 'It's really exciting to see these bold and ambitious stories being brought to life in such a compelling way by this incredibly high-calibre cast.' The Secrets started shooting last month and will be broadcast later this year.

Little-known singer-songwriter Molly Smitten-Downes is to represent the UK at this year's Eurovision Song Contest. The twenty six-year-old will carry British hopes in Copenhagen in May with her song 'Children of the Universe.' The singer has already had a small taste of the limelight after having a UK top ten hit in 2008 with Sash on the song 'Raindrops (Encore Une Fois)'. Her selection comes after high profile veterans Bonnie Tyler and Engelbert Humperdinck had humiliatingly struggled for the UK in the past two contests. Smitten-Downes, who is known simply as Molly on stage, said: 'To represent the United Kingdom in such a huge competition, not only as a singer and performer but as a songwriter is an unbelievable honour. I hope I can do us proud.' A BBC statement described 'Children of the Universe' as 'an anthemic, uplifting track specifically written with live performance in mind.' Smitten-Downes, from Leicestershire, enjoyed a brief appearance in the charts five-and-a-half years ago when she sang on an updated version of German DJ Sash's 1997 smash 'Encore Une Fois'. The 2008 version reached number nine in charts. For a week. Smitten-Downes followed that by loaning her vocals to the song 'I Will Learn to Love Again' from Swedish producer Basshunter's 2009 CD Bass Generation. She then embarked on a career with her own material. An experienced performer, she has supported such acts as Jake Bugg, Tinie Tempah, Labrinth and Chase and Status. After submitting her song to BBC Introducing, she gained support from BBC local radio in the East Midlands before being spotted by the corporation's Eurovision producers. 'BBC Introducing provided us with an extraordinary range of talent to explore and in Molly we found the perfect combination of contemporary songwriting and real vocal quality,' said BBC executive producer Guy Freeman. 'Her enthusiasm for the project is infectious and I'm sure that she'll gain huge support on the journey to Copenhagen.'

Which brings us, nicely, to Keith Telly Topping's A To Z Of Groovy Tunes. N, dear blog reader, is for The News.
'Oh you've got blue eyes ...'

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