Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Q Is For Questions That Don't Have Any Answers

Production has now begun on episode five of Doctor Who's eighth series, with two of the actors involved tweeting 'We're on our way.' Where they are on their way, they didn't say. The episode forms the second story to be filmed as part of block two, directed by Douglas Mackinnon, who was last behind the camera on the 2013 adventure Cold War. The episode currently in production has - as previously announced - been written by Steve Thompson. Filming has been taking place this week on locations around South Wales. Mark Gatiss has been talking about writing for the Twelfth Doctor, telling how Peter Capaldi has a very different energy to Matt Smith and David Tennant, and described his first episode as 'thrilling.' He told the Digital Spy website: 'He's older which changes everything - it's amazing what a change does. Matt was sublime and I was very sorry to see him go, but it's also great to have a change - as it has always been with The Doctor. The Doctor is always The Doctor - but you can have a lot of fun playing with people's expectations. Everyone knows how the previous Doctor would react in any given situation - and now you just don't know.'

Episodes of the BBC's original Doctor Who series - from William Hartnell in 1963 to Sylvester McCoy in 1989 - have found a new a home in the UK on the Horror Channel. The broadcaster has secured a deal with BBC Worldwide to show vintage episodes from the first seven doctors in daytime and evening slots. Horror is relaunching the classic episodes with a Who On Horror weekend at Easter, which will feature 'a marathon of stories covering all of the first seven Doctors.' Perhaps significantly, the Digital Spy website chose to illustrate this story with a photo of Kate O'Mara, Sylvester McCoy and Bonnie Langford from Time & The Rani. Yes, one can see how that might be regarded as especially horrible.

A new documentary series from BBC2 and BBC America will delve into the history of science fiction with filmmakers, writers, actors and graphic artists looking back on their experiences and on how their obsession and imagination has taken them into the unknown. The Real History of Science Fiction will cover everything from Star Wars to 2001: A Space Odyssey and from Jurassic Park to Doctor Who. Each programme is promised to be 'packed with contributors behind these creations and traces the developments of Robots, Space, Invasion and Time.' Narrated by yer actual Mark Gatiss his very self ('Doctor Who writer, actor and co-creator of the BBC's Sherlock' the press release helpfully tells us, just in case we didn't know), 'the series determines why science fiction is not merely a genre; for its audience it's a portal to a multi-verse – one that is all too easy to get lost in. ' Among those taking part are: William Shatner, Nathan Fillion, Zoe Saldana, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat, Richard Dreyfuss, Chris Carter, Ronald D Moore, John Landis, David Tennant, Christopher Lloyd, Rutger Hauer, John Carpenter, Karen Gillan, Neil Gaiman, Kim Stanley Robinson, Scott Bakula, Ursula K Le Guin, Syd Mead, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, Nichelle Nichols, Peter Weller, Edward James Olmos and many more. But, not Tom Baker cos he's too expensive. Allegedly.
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show launched with a rather disappointing two million viewers on Monday night, according to overnight data. The comic's new series was watched by 2.41m at 10.35pm on BBC1, with special guests Sir Terry Wogan, Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie and Lily Allen. All in all, it wasn't very good, either, McIntyre rather talking over his guests in a effort to be funny. Earlier, Bang Goes the Theory returned with 3.81m at 7.30pm, while Silk continued with 3.94m at 9pm. BBC2's University Challenge was watched by three million punters at 8pm, followed by Mary Berry Cooks with 2.75m at 8.30pm. Mind the Gap: London Vs The Rest continued with 1.31m at 9pm. On ITV, DCI Banks dropped over one hundred thousand punters week-on-week but was still the highest watched overnight programme outside of soaps with 4.41m at 9pm. I Never Knew That About Britain appealed to 3.32m at 8pm. Channel Four's Food Unwrapped gathered 1.08m at 8pm, followed by One Born Every Minute with 2.14m at 9pm and Eight Out Of Ten Cats with 1.10m at 10pm. On Channel Five, Police Interceptors brought in 1.06m at 8pm, while Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! was seen by 1.62m at 9pm. BBC3's documentary EDL Girls: Don't Call Me Racist interested five hundred and seventy thousand at 9pm.

Channel Four Racing experienced a disappointing start to the 2014 Cheltenham Festival, scoring an average audience of just five hundred and eighty six thousand punters on day one, a drop of twenty eight per cent on the same day last year. The broadcaster was determined to set the figure in context, noting that total TV viewership on the afternoon was twenty per cent less than last year. The programme, which included a dramatic Champion Hurdle, had a peak viewing figure of nine hundred and eighty thousand. A Channel Four spokesperson said that was 'significantly higher' than last year's peak share. Even so, such a low average figure for the start of the most keenly anticipated week in jump racing is undeniably poor and a further blow to Channel Four Racing, rocked in January by the news that its 2013 audience was down on the previous year for seventy three of the ninety days on which it broadcasts. Those close to the programme must hope for better figures through the rest of the festival, failing which there will be intense pressure to ensure that the audience for next month's Grand National does not also decline. A Channel Four spokesperson said: 'We are proud of Channel Four Racing's high quality coverage from the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival. The coverage attracted a greater share of the television audience than 2013, with overall volumes reflecting the fact that the good weather affected total TV viewing across all channels.'

The BBC1 crime drama Shetland topped the overnight ratings outside of soaps on Tuesday. Douglas Henshall's first full series opener was watched by 5.20 million viewers at 9pm. This is down from its pilot episode's total of 6.37m in March of last year, which was broadcast on a Sunday. Later, Insane Fight Club had an audience of 1.05m at 10.35pm. On BBC2, Permission Impossible concluded with 1.38m at 7pm, followed by The Great British Sewing Bee with 2.53m at 8pm and An Hour To Save Your Life with 1.97m at 9pm. ITV's coverage of The Arse's departure from the Champions League scored 4.54m at 7.30pm. Which is considerably more than The Arse could manage against yer actual Bayern München. On Channel Four, Kirstie's Best Of Both Worlds interested 1.25m at 8pm. Christ only knows why. The Taste reached its finale with but seven hundred and sixty seven thousand punters viewers at 9pm, while Strippers was ogled at by nine hundred and sixty eight thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Benidorm ER brought in seven hundred and seventy eight thousand at 8pm, followed by The Mentalist with nine hundred and ninety three thousand at 9pm and Law & Order: SVU with seven hundred and twenty two thousand at 10pm. On BBC3, Hair was seen by seven hundred and fifty thousand at 9pm, while Pramface had an audience of four hundred and twelve thousand at 10pm. BBC4's Fossil Wonderlands attracted six hundred and fifty four thousand at 9pm. Dave's Storage Hunters was watched by seven hundred and forty three thousand at 8pm.

Law & Order: UK returned for its eighth series with over three million viewers on Wednesday, according to overnight data. The ITV crime drama thrilled 3.61m at 9pm. This is down nearly a million punters from last year's launch ratings of 4.59m, although that episode was broadcast on a Sunday evening in July. Clip show You Saw Them Here First topped the ratings outside of soaps with 3.77m at 8pm, a fact which should, frankly, make all of the terrestrial channels hang their heads in shame. BBC1's latest entry into the field of poverty tourism, Famous, Rich & Hungry For Sport Relief was watched by 3.51m at 9pm, while A Question of Sport had an audience of 2.20m at 10.35pm. BBC2's new series Collectaholics interested 2.09m at 8pm, followed by Line Of Duty with 2.63m at 9pm and Inside Number Nine with eight hundred and thirty three thousand at 10pm. On Channel Four, Secret Eaters returned with 1.30m at 8pm, while new series Live From Space began with 1.38m viewers at 9pm. First Dates continued with seven hundred and ninety one thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Born To Kill was watched by seven hundred and fourteen thousand at 8pm. NCIS attracted nine hundred and twenty nine thousand at 9pm and Suspects continued with but four hundred and twenty six thousand at 10pm.

From The North favourite Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan have begun filming series two of The Fall. Shooting on the new six-part series, written and directed once again by Allan Cubitt, commenced this week in Belfast. As series two begins, Stella Gibson is on the hunt for fugitive Paul Spector with a personal link from the killer's past revealing new clues. But the closer Gibson comes to capturing him, the more Spector trespasses into her private world, delighting in taunting and provoking her. As the net gradually tightens around him, Spector becomes psychologically more dangerous and destructive. 'I'm over the moon to be back in production with this team again and to step into the shoes of the elusive Stella for what promises to be an even darker second season,' Anderson said. Quite how the second series of The Fall could, possibly, be any darker than the first without appearing in the pitch black is, as yet, unknown. Dornan added: 'I'm delighted to be back in production for the second series of The Fall. Allan Cubitt has outdone himself and the scripts are stunning.' Bronagh Waugh will also reprise her role as Spector's wife, Sally-Ann, while John Lynch will again play Assistant Chief Constable Jim Burns. 'We were delighted with the response to series one and can't wait to unleash Allan Cubitt's superb new scripts on the audience,' said Stephen Wright, head of drama for for BBC Northern Ireland. The Fall debuted on BBC2 in mid-2013 and was the channel's biggest drama series launch in eight years. Since the first series aired, Anderson has filmed roles in US series Hannibal and Crisis, while Dornan landed the lead role of sadomasochistic billionaire Christian Grey in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades Of Grey.

The Trip returns to BBC2 in April for its second series The Trip To Italy. Michael Winterbottom again directs Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in the six-part follow-up to 2010's BAFTA Award-winning series, a particular favourite of this here blogger. Following the UK-set series, the pair will this time visit restaurants in Piemonte, Liguria, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi and Capri. Tasty. 'Rob, tired from the responsibilities of being the father of a young child, is looking for some adventure,' explained the press release. 'Steve has been living a life of abstinence and hard work in Los Angeles but, now on a hiatus from his job, has the time to come back to Europe and wants to see his children.' Produced by Melissa Parmenter and co-produced by Josh Hyams, The Trip To Italy is a Revolution Films, Baby Cow Films and Small Man production.

Decriminalising TV licence fee evasion could cost the BBC up to two hundred million smackers a year and lead to the axing of channels including BBC4, CBBC and CBeebies, its strategy chief has warned. The BBC director of strategy and digital, James Purnell said on Tuesday that it would be 'a huge risk' to push through such legislation. Purnell was speaking after it emerged last week that a cross-party group of MPs is angling for a change in the law to make non-payment a civil rather than a criminal offence, with the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Miller indicating that she is prepared to 'consider' the idea and implement it swiftly. Speaking after the launch of the new BBC iPlayer, Purnell said: 'Say the rate of evasion was to double from about five per cent, now that would be two hundred million pounds. That would be all of BBC4, all of CBeebies, all CBBC. I understand some other offences enforced by the government through the civil courts you end up with evasion rates or writing off fifty per cent, sometimes seventy per cent, so that's a significant figure. We don't know what the system would be but what we're saying at this stage is doing it like this, very quickly, would be a huge risk. The choice would then be either we take those services off [air] or the government would have to have a higher licence fee.' Purnell said it is 'hard for us to say what the impact would be' exactly, because 'we don't operate a system at the moment' which deals with evasion as a civil offence. He added that the corporation is looking at what happens with non-payment of utility bills to draw comparisons. 'The key question we need to think about is how do you persuade people to pay for something you can't stop them receiving. We don't know the evasion rates on utilities but from what we've seen about ten per cent of people are not able to pay bills ... that's just a guideline.' Purnell said that the BBC is 'keen' to have a joint working group with officials and politicians, adding that the forthcoming charter review process was 'clearly a very good opportunity for the government to consider this' decriminalisation proposal. But, he pointed out that under the current court system, licence fee evaders can be dealt with according to circumstances, whereas a civil system could lead to higher fixed penalties which could penalise the less well-off. Danny Cohen, the BBC director of television, said at the same media briefing on Tuesday that last week's announcement that BBC3 is to become available only online was 'a difficult moment and a sad moment' but 'quite liberating.' He said BBC3 will be 'at the heart' of the new iPlayer. Almost two hundred thousand people have signed a petition asking the BBC Trust to save BBC3 from becoming an online-only channel although quite where these two hundred thousand people think the BBC are going to find the necessary savings if BBC3 isn't kicked online, they, seemingly, didn't say. However, Cohen said: 'I don't see it as needing to save it. BBC3 is going to carry on, we're just doing it in a different way. Twenty five per cent of iPlayer views now come through connected TVs. I don't see it as something that needs saving just something that's going to grow in a different way.' He pointed to the new exclusive content that will be available on iPlayer such as the short comedies, which include a satire on interactive television called Frankie Boyle and Bob Mortimer's Cookery Show. Cohen gave assurances that the BBC will 'make sure everything he [Mad Frankie, his very self] does on the BBC has our standards and values.' Oh, this should be fun to watch. Separately, Purnell was asked to give an overall figure as to how much is being spent on the new iPlayer but said only that the individual breakdowns are available on the BBC's website and 'more details' will be made available at a later date. He also gave assurances that the BBC will protect data of those who sign up to the personalised section of the new BBC iPlayer. The service will also host exclusive comedy content from Meera Syal, Morgana Robinson, Micky Flanagan (oh, Christ, that'll be worth avoiding, then), Matt Berry and Stewart Lee. Film-maker Adam Curtis is producing three projects that will be available from July. '[iPlayer] frees one from the constraints of scheduling and format on the traditional TV channels - and I think that may allow stories to become far more emotionally involving and complicated' he said.

The future of Family Guy on the BBC has been 'thrown into question' following the announcement that BBC3 is to be axed as a broadcast channel. Much of the channel's content is expected to shift online via iPlayer, but the BBC is currently unable to feature the adult animation on its VoD service due to a dispute with FOX Television. FOX is said to be unhappy with iPlayer's security levels and so has prevented Family Guy from being made available, according to Broadcast. The dispute has also led to other FOX acquisitions being banned from the iPlayer, including FX comedy Wilfred. A BBC spokesperson said: 'We will be speaking to all our suppliers, following last week's announcement. However, at the moment due to rights issues, we are unable to make Family Guy or American Dad available on BBC iPlayer.' So, looks like it'll be back to downloading them illegally, guys. Just like the old days, in fact. (Of course, it is important to remember, dear blog reader, that downloading stuff illegally is illegal, naughty, bad and wrong and should not be done in any circumstances. Not even to get your daily fix of the cartoon dog. Oh no, very hot water.)
Kylie Minogue has revealed that she is unsure whether she will return to The Voice next year. The singer said that her touring schedule 'may' prevent her from taking part in another series of the BBC singing contest. Minogue and will.he.is will also serve as coaches on The Voice Australia after the conclusion of the UK series. Asked about her future, Kylie, Kylie, sweet and smiley told the Press Association: 'I'm already doing it again in Australia, but UK or Australia, I don't know if I could [do another season] because I'm going to be touring. We'll see.'
A new drama from The X-Files creator Chris Carter and a comedy starring Gael Garcia Bernal are among four original series commissioned by Amazon Studios. It follows the company's second round of pilots, in which viewers gave feedback and rated ten new shows. The After, written and directed by Carter and Mozart in the Jungle are joined by police drama Bosch and dark comedy Transparent, Variety said. Last year's Amazon pilots saw the John Goodman comedy Alpha House and Silicon Valley sitcom Beta commissioned. The After and Bosch will be Amazon's first drama commissions, following the success of original hit series from rival service Netflix, such as House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black. The fate of five children's series is still unknown, with Lovefilm and Amazon Prime subscribers voting on Gortimer Gibbon's Life On Normal Street, Hardboiled Eggheads, The Jo B & G Raff Show, Maker Shack Agency and Wishenpoof! Bosch is based on Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch detective book series and is written by Connelly and Eric Overmyer. The pilot follows the detective, played by Titus Welliver, pursuing the killer of a thirteen-year-old boy whilst also standing trial accused of murdering a suspected serial killer. Meanwhile Carter's new offering follows eight strangers thrown together by mysterious forces, who have to help each other survive in a violent world. Light relief comes from Mexican actor Garcia Bernal and the great Malcolm McDowell, who star in the comedy drama Mozart in the Jungle, written by Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman. Based on Blair Tindall's memoir of the same name, Garcia Bernal plays a conductor at the New York Symphony Orchestra. Arrested Development actor Jeffrey Tambor stars in Transparent - a dark comedy about an LA family which begins to unravel after a series of secrets are revealed. Written and directed by Jill Soloway, whose credits include Six Feet Under and United States Of Tara, it also stars Gaby Hoffmann and Jay Duplass. Last year five out of fourteen pilots were chosen to be produced as series.

Chef and presenter Michel Roux Jr is leaving the BBC after failing to reach an agreement about his commercial interests. He criticised the 'frustrating process' of trying to negotiate with the corporation and said he wondered if the BBC understood 'the realities of today's commercial world.' It is understood that Roux – who has become well-known to viewers for fronting MasterChef: The Professionals for six years and reviving the series Food and Drink – had been unable to come to a deal about the level of his commercial activities. Among his advertising commitments has been a deal with potato firm Albert Bartlett, for which he was an ambassador. Roux, who has two Michelin stars, said on Tuesday: 'This hasn't been an easy decision for me to make. I love working with the BBC, and am very proud of how we have built up the popularity and success of these two iconic shows. It's not for lack of trying, but sometimes negotiating with the BBC can be a frustrating process, and there are times when I have wondered if the corporation understands the realities of today's commercial world. The BBC needs to recognise the value of the talent they work with, and also that, whilst we love to be associated with top-quality television, we have other professional commitments that are as important to us as programme-making.' Greed, in other words. The BBC said: 'Sadly we can confirm that Michel Roux has decided to leave MasterChef: The Professionals and Food and Drink due to a conflict in his commercial interests. It has been a great privilege to work with such an accomplished professional in his field and we would like to thank him for the huge contribution he has made to those programmes. We would like to wish him well and the best for the future.' Roux – the son of Michelin-starred Albert Roux – began working as a chef almost forty years ago and has long been renowned for his Le Gavroche restaurant. A spokeswoman for the MasterChef franchise said: 'MasterChef is sad to announce, after a very happy relationship with Michel Roux Jr as one of the judges on the Professionals series, that he will no longer be appearing on the BBC due to a conflict in commercial interests. Chef Michel has been a committed and extremely well-loved and respected member of the MasterChef team, an inspiration for the young chefs who have appeared on the show and those he works with on behalf of MasterChef off camera. We wish him the very best of luck in everything he does.' Roux has said he will honour his commitment to presenting a new BBC4 documentary, Chocolat, which begins filming in the next few weeks.

Bitter old whinging Red Jimmy McGovern's new BBC2 drama series Banished has secured an impressive all-star cast list. Being Human's Russell Tovey, Ripper Street's MyAnna Buring and Julian Rhind-Tutt will all star in the show, which is starting filming in Sydney next month. Banished will follow the 'lives, loves, relationships and battle for survival of a group of convicts' in New South Wales in 1788. Yeah, that sounds like yer actual McGovern's usual barrel of laughs. Other cast members include David Wenham, Joseph Millson, Ewan Bremner and Orla Brady. Banished will be shown on BBC2 in 2015.
Broadcaster Chris Tarrant is recovering in hospital after suffering 'a mini-stroke' while flying from Bangkok to London earlier this month. His manager, Paul Vaughan, confirmed the sixty seven-year-old was taken to hospital from Heathrow airport on 1 March after being taken ill on the plane. 'Chris has been diagnosed as having suffered a mini-stroke,' Vaughan said. 'He is making an excellent recovery and will be discharged in a day or so.' So, that's good news.

Dara O Briain and Ed Byrne are to travel the Pan American Highway from Alaska to Panama for a BBC2 travelogue. They journey covers the northern half of a thirty thousand-mile route which extends to the tip of South America – save for a one hundred-mile gap in the Panamanian rain forest – that holds the title of the world's longest 'motorable road.' The comedians and close friends will be following in the footsteps of three Detroit adventurers who attempted the full journey in in 1940, when the route was merely a dirt track, earning them the nickname 'the three damn fools' in the press. O Briain and Byrne's travels will be covered in three hour-long episodes, co-financed by Irish broadcaster RTÉ and due to be shown towards the end of the year. If they survive, obviously. The provisional title is Dara and Ed's Pan Am Adventure. En route the pair will encounter characters such as Mexican wrestlers, gang members and indigenous transvestites. It is not the only travelogue featuring two comedians to be scheduled for this year. Mark Watson and Henning Wehn have just finished filming on Kia's Road To Rio, in which the two comics (well, the one comic ... and Mark Watson) drive through South America ahead of the World Cup in Brazil.

Channel Five has cleared a space in its schedule to broadcast a positively sick live documentary about the mystery of the missing plane in Malaysia. The Plane That Vanished: Live, which will be broadcast on Friday at 9pm, will 'examine the evidence' surrounding Malaysian flight MH370, which apparently vanished without trace. Jesus, talk about grave robbing ... Then again, what do you expect from a network run by a soft-core pornographer?

The BBC appears to have come up with a novel way to cut production costs; stopping crews from filming. The Radio Times has revealed that Hugh Bonneville was refused entry to New Broadcasting House while filming BBC show W1A. Bonneville said: 'We were filming in New Broadcasting House when the chap on the door – a lovely guy in fact – was watching us troop down from upstairs, where we were getting ready, to the foyer with twenty crew and cast. We filmed in the reception area for a few hours or so and he was chuckling away, whilst continuing to let people in and out of the building as part of his daily duties. When we finished filming, we headed in to go upstairs and he wouldn't let me in because I didn't have the right sort of pass.'

Sky has won a High Court case after being accused of plagiarism with its flop Must Be The Music. Waif Productions co-founders Brian Wade and Geraldine Perry had accused the broadcaster of stealing their idea for the 2010 show, which saw contestants battling it out with original songs. Quite why anyone would want to take the credit for one of the most disastrous stumbles into talent show TV ever produced is a different matter entirely. The duo alleged that Must Be The Music took elements from their format The Real Deal, which would see contestants performing original songs for a panel of songwriters, with the songs available to download after each episode. However, Broadcast reports that Mr Justice Birss found in favour of Sky. 'Sky's evidence was cogent and taken as a whole presented a clear and persuasive picture,' he said. 'I find that Must Be The Music was created entirely independently of The Real Deal.' Meanwhile, a Sky spokesperson crowed: 'We are pleased that the court has found that Must Be The Music was independently created, as we have maintained throughout. Our editorial integrity is fundamentally important to us, as is the trust that independent producers place in Sky as a broadcaster. We will always defend ourselves vigorously against wrongful claims of improper behaviour.' He forgot to add, 'even though it was shit and no one watched it.'
No one at the Scum of the World informed their editor, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, that they had information the missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler could have been alive and working in a factory in Telford, the Old Bailey has heard claimed. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told the phone-hacking trial that had she been told the schoolgirl been 'found looking for a job', it would have been 'a big story' and she might have dumped a front-page exclusive she had lined-up on sacked EastEnders actor Michael Greco. 'If Milly Dowler had been found, had run off with a girlfriend to Eastbourne after a row with her parents and all had been made well it would still have been a big story,' well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said. The jury has already been told that Dowler's phone was extremely hacked by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire in April 2002 and that he had discovered a voice message, left by mistake, by a recruitment agency in Telford. This lead the paper to dispatch a team to the Midlands to try and find Dowler, who had gone missing in Surrey weeks earlier. 'If it had been believed back in Wapping that they were sure beyond all reasonable doubt that they had found Milly Dowler working in a factory in the Midlands, that they would have told me that she was alive. The fact is that nobody told me,' well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed. Phone records show that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was in regular contact with the paper from Dubai during the week Mulcaire had hacked Dowler's phone. Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC asked well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks: 'If they found her at the Epson factory in Telford, as the editor you would have had to decide what went on the front page?' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks responded: 'I would have talked to my deputy, Andy Coulson, and if he had said to me "we have found Milly Dowler and police have not been able to, and we are putting that on page one", I would have been told that, yes.' But well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said this conversation never took place. Asked by Edis if the Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Andy Coulson told her that they were working on information that Milly was alive, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that he had not. Asked 'did anyone tell you?', she replied: 'No.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks has previously testified that the first she knew of the hacking of Dowler's phone was nine years later on 4 July 2011, when the Gruniad reported the unlawful interception. 'It surprised me that anyone thought that she was alive and a thirteen-year-old was working in a factory. I would remember, I would have been told she was alive, and I wasn't. Looking back at it now, it does seem a rather unlikely story,' said well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks. Edis put it to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks that dispatching five or six journalists to Telford would have meant the story was 'prominent' in the minds of the editors that week. 'Quite a big story would have been required in order to justify that amount of effort,' Edis said. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks replied: 'I think five or six is quite big.' The jury heard that a journalist on the news desk, Vanessa Large, called the Telford factory at 5.30pm on Friday 12 April and that the paper did not tell the police that they had hacked the schoolgirl's voicemail and found information suggesting she might be alive until Saturday afternoon. 'If someone had been told she was alive and they were sure she was alive, I would have expected them to tell the police with or without me being there,' claimed well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks. The paper planned, and did, lead with an 'exclusive' interview the paper had secured with Greco as part of a fifteen thousand quid joint deal with the Sun, the jury heard. Earlier well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks had told the hacking trial that she did not take 'a special interest' in Dowler's disappearance. She said she might have cancelled her holiday if she felt that Dowler had been murdered by a predatory paedophile and there were links to the Sarah Payne case. She said that, initially, there were 'concerns' that this may have happened because the two girls had lived three streets away from each other, but by the time she was due to go on holiday in April 2002, the police had been briefing that they were 'focusing' on Dowler's father. The police later dropped this line of inquiry and Levi Bellfield was, subsequently, convicted of killing Milly Dowler. 'I suspect I mightn't have gone away,' well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed, if the police had made the links. The jury were shown a twelve-point letter from the Scum of the World's then managing editor, Stuart Kuttner, to the assistant chief constable at Surrey police. Referring to Milly as Amanda, Kuttner told Frank Clarke him the paper had 'identified eight convicted child sex offenders who appear to live within a two-to-three-mile radius of Amanda's home.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks denied Kuttner had told her about an e-mail he sent Surrey police about the messages on Dowler's phone. 'Would there have been reason for him not to tell what he was doing?' Edis asked. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks responded: 'No, not at all. He did deal with chief constables, he was the managing editor. He was an experienced news journalist and was very involved in Sarah's Law.' Edis put it to her: 'Mrs Brooks, you must have known what your paper was doing in relation to that phone at the time?' She replied that she did not. Edis continued: 'They were telling police, but not you?' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks repeated: 'Nobody told me,' adding that the first she knew that Dowler's phone been hacked was when she read it in the Gruniad Morning Star nine years later. 'I did not know about phone-hacking of Milly Dowler,' she said. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks also claims that she had 'no recollection' of Piers Morgan, the sacked former Daily Mirra editor (and, sacked former CNN Chat show host), saying in 2004 that he had hacked her phone. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, who was editor of the Sun at the time, told the court she 'could recall' the dinner party but did not remember the account given by a guest who testified in December that she overheard Morgan saying to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks 'I already know what your splash, or your cover, is going to be because I have been listening to your messages.' 'I do not remember Piers Morgan saying he had hacked my phone,' well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told the jury. She claimed that she remembered she had been working on the Sun's exclusive leak of The Hutton Report into the death of Iraq weapons inspector David Kelly. 'I had got up a couple of times at least, maybe two or three times to take some quite serious calls on it [The Hutton Report],' she said. The court has heard that lawyer, Ambi Sitham, had been invited to the party by her then boyfriend Neil Reading, an, if you will, 'chum' of Andy Coulson's whose birthday Morgan and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks were celebrating. Sitham told the jury in December that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks had asked Morgan: 'Been hacking my phone again, have you Piers?' Edis put it to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks: 'She may have been right, but you just can't remember it.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks replied: 'He may have said it, I just can't remember it.' During cross-examination well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was also questioned about testimony given by one of David Cameron's, if you will, 'chums', Dom Loehnis, that they had discussed hacking at a party to celebrate the Prime Minister's forty fourth birthday in October 2010. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks claimed that she remembered discussing the difficulty Cameron's then head of communications, Coulson, had at the time because of the reports about phone-hacking. 'I remember sitting next to Mr Loehnis and discussing Andy Coulson with him and the issue of Andy Coulson being the spokesperson and being part of the story. It did not strike me as unusual for me to have said to him in the late 1990s this issue [hacking] was live, because I think in the 1990s or mid-1990s that there were stories around about the security flaw.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks also said that she chose not to answer questions in her interview with police in July 2011 'on the advice of her lawyers', instead opting for a prepared statement. 'I was very keen to give a prepared statement to refute what I considered to be abhorrent allegations were made about me,' well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said. Edis then put it to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks that 'you have had an entirely fair opportunity to answer questions if you chose to.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said: 'Well, that is not the legal advice I was given.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, the Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Coulson and Kuttner all deny charges that they were involved in a conspiracy to hack-phones.

Meanwhile, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks has denied giving evidence 'from a carefully presented and prepared script' as prosecutors ended their cross-examination of the former News International chief executive in the phone-hacking trial. It was put to her that she had 'a meteoric rise' through News International from the day she joined as a researcher in 1998 to the day she became chief executive in 2009 and it was 'impossible' that she 'knew so little' about the charges against her. Edis said: 'I'm going to suggest to you that that is quite untrue. You were running your world and not much happened in it which you did not want to happen when you were top of the tree. You were the boss.' Over thirteen days well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks has claimed that she did not know or was not involved in alleged unlawful activity by her co-defendants during her editorship of the Scum of the World and the Sun. He continued: 'You were the editor and very much aware of what these people were doing,' he said. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks responded: 'Which people?' Edis proceeded to list six people including the Scum of the World's former managing editor Stuart Kuttner, her personal assistant Cheryl Carter and her husband millionaire Old Etonian Charlie, who have all pleaded not guilty to charges linked to the trial and two who have pleaded guilty – the paper's former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and the paper's former head of investigations Greg Miskiw. The sixth individual on Edis's list was a reporter at the Sun, who 'cannot be named for legal reasons', but whom the jury have been told requested well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks's approval for payments to a Ministry of Defence official for stories. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks responded: 'That's not true.' Edis then put it to her: 'Your evidence has been a carefully presented and prepared script and bears little relationship to the truth about these offences.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks replied: 'It hasn't.' Ending five days of cross-examination, Edis summarised well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks's defence. 'Your evidence is that you had what was really a meteoric rise in your profession. You started as a researcher in 1998 and finished as CEO in 2009 having been editor of two major newspapers, which is a particularly stunning achievement isn't it?' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks responded: 'These are the facts of the story.' Edis put it to her that 'These are highly demanding jobs, yes, in a very competitive industry?' She replied that, indeed, it was. She also agreed that she had 'described it as a tough world' in evidence and when Edis put it to her that she was 'extremely good at it', she replied that 'it's difficult to say that about yourself' but that she hoped that she had published good newspapers. Which, of course, she didn't. Not even close. Edis then proceeded to summarise her defence on each of the counts against her: that convicted phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire and Miskiw kept phone-hacking from her, that she did not know that 'books were cooked' to disguise Mulcaire's ninety two grand contract, that she did not know her former PA Cheryl Carter had removed seven boxes of notebooks labelled as belonging to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks the day after it was announced the Scum of the World was closing and that she did not know that her husband, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie, was going to conceal bags containing a laptop and numerous pornographic DVDs behind a bin on the day of her arrest. Earlier on Wednesday well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks described how she felt 'poorly' and so ill she was like 'a zombie' on 18 July 2011. It was the day her husband, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie, discovered that the bags he had hidden behind bins in an underground car park had gone missing and ultimately handed to the police. She claimed that she 'knew nothing' of what her husband 'had in mind' that day and described the decision as 'impulsive' and 'a really really stupid' thing to do. She also denied knowing that Carter had removed the boxes of notebooks from the archive. She claimed that when Carter told her she had been interviewed by police in late 2011 and had told well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks that she had been asked about the boxes, it 'didn't strike her as odd' as 'no alarm bells went off' in relation to the material. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told jurors she was more concerned for her PA being interviewed by police. Under re-examination by her defence counsel, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told jurors that she would have been 'very unhappy' if she had been told in 2002 that any of her team on the Scum of the World had hacked Milly Dowler's phone and discovered a message suggesting the missing schoolgirl was alive. She would have been more unhappy if the person who told her was the Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Andy Coulson, her deputy with whom she had an on-off affair, she claimed. 'I can't see one scenario which does not lead me to a conclusion, if you think she's alive, call the police straight away. If someone had told me about it I would have been very unhappy.' Asked by her counsel Jonathan Laidlaw QC if it would have been any different if the person who told her was Coulson, she replied: 'I think I might have been more angry because I would not have expected it of Andy at all.' Both Brooks and Coulson have pleaded not guilty to the charge that they were involved in a conspiracy to hack phones. Earlier, the trial heard that Tony Blair had 'offered to help' well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks with her appearance at a parliamentary select committee just days after the Scum of the World closed and days before she was extremely arrested. Blair texted well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks to say that 'everyone panics in these situations' after she told him she was 'properly terrified' and that 'the police are behaving so badly' in the crisis which hit News International following the disclosure that Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked the week before. The Commons select committee had summoned well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks to appear to answer questions about the mounting crisis at News International following revelations that Dowler's phone had been hacked. Blair's exchanges with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks were made as leading members of the Labour party including Ed Miliband, Lord Prescott and Tom Watson were all involved in a full-on assault against News International. The exchange of texts was revealed by the prosecution on Wednesday during cross-examination of well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, who was being quizzed about two charges that she conspired to pervert the course of justice in the weeks that followed the closure of the Scum of the World. The exchange showed that Blair and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks were in almost daily contact. The texts shown to the jury started on 10 July 2011 and finished on 17 July 2011, the day well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was arrested. The court also heard on Wednesday that News International planned to invite The Prince of Darkness Lord Mandelson, one of the former Labour prime minister's closest political allies, to 'coach' well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks for her select committee appearance. The publishing company was planning to invite Mandelson, one of Blair's closest aides and a former cabinet minister, to help prepare its beleaguered chief executive for her parliamentary appearance. The briefing had been due to take place in Enstone Manor Farm, a property belonging to a neighbour and friend of well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks in Oxfordshire on 16-17 July 2011, the court was told. This was two days before well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, along with billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch the small, was due to appear before the Commons culture, media and sport select committee to be quizzed about the phone-hacking scandal and governance at the company. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks told jurors: 'We were all going to have a full debrief for the select committee and we were going to have a preparation session.' Edis put it to her: 'Mock sessions – and they were going to ask Mr Mandelson to see if he will come and help.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks responded: 'Lord Mandelson had set up an advice company, a public affairs company.' Edis pressed her on the point: 'He was going to be coaching for your appearance on TV because the select committee would be televised.' The former News International boss said that in the event the session was cancelled because the select committee had in the meantime summoned James Murodhc the small and billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch to appear. Originally, the plan was she was going to appear alone, but as the crisis enveloping News International intensified this changed. On 15 July 2011, the Friday after the Scum of the World closed, circumstances changed again after well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was told that she was 'of interest' to the police. She has told the trial previously that she was 'marched out' of the building that day and was told by News International that she would no longer have its assistance for her select committee appearance. Edis put it to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks that Blair had texted her in the week following the paper's closure in July 2011 'offering to help you with your forthcoming appearance in parliament.' Blair texted well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks to say if she was still going to appear at the Commons, she should call him. She replied 'definitely', adding that 'it depends on the police interview first.' In another text she said: 'Feeling properly terrified. Police are behaving so badly.' Blair tried to reassure her, texting: 'Everyone panics in these situations.' He added: 'I'm no use on police stuff but call me after that because I may be of use on Commons.' The text exchange with Blair occurred in the week beginning 10 July, Edis said. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks appeared before the Commons culture, media and sport select committee on 19 July, two days after her arrest, four days after her resignation and nine days after the Scum of the World closed albeit, in the event, her appearance was somewhat overshadowed by billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch getting a custard pie in the face earlier that day. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks extremely denies four charges that she conspired to hack phones, pervert the course of justice by working with others to conceal material from the police and to cause misconduct in public office by conspiring to pay public officials for stories. The trial has previously heard that Blair advised well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks to launch 'a Hutton-style inquiry' into the Scum of the World six days before her arrest as a suspect in the phone-hacking scandal. he told her boss James, Murdoch the small, in an e-mail written in July 2011, that the former prime minister had also offered to act as 'an unofficial adviser' to her, billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch the small, but that this needed to be kept 'between us.' She said that Blair had suggested News International set up an inquiry which would 'publish a Hutton-style report' that would 'clear you and accept short comings [sic].' In the e-mail to Murdoch the small, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said the former prime minister told her to 'tough up', advising her the crisis would pass and she should not make any rash short-term decisions. He also told her to 'keep strong' and appeared to suggest she should take sleeping pills to keep a clear head.

Horrible Sky News presenter and odious shithead horrorshow (and drag) Kay Burley and the Sun's managing editor, Stig Abell, are to co-host a Sunday morning breakfast programme on LBC. Their magazine-style show will involve interviews with 'people in the news', drawn from the spheres of politics, business, culture and entertainment. It begins on 23 March. For risible drama queen Burley it is business as usual - but without a camera. She currently hosts Sky News on weekday afternoons. Badly. By contrast, it is a dive into a new world for Abell, a former director of the Press Complaints Commission. Burley is quoted in the press release as saying: 'I'm delighted to be joining LBC. The timing is just right with an election coming up next year – we'll be putting politicians through their paces, and discussing the issues that matter to our listeners. I can't wait for Stig and I to get started.' Her decision to join has clearly delighted LBC's owner, Global Radio. Its director of broadcasting, Richard Park, described her as 'one of the UK's leading news broadcasters.' Which she isn't. Not even close. He also claimed: 'Her skill of holding politicians and leading authority figures to account will make Sunday mornings a must-listen around the country on LBC.' LBC, which is branded as 'Britain's only national commercial news talk radio station', has also announced a new breakfast show for Saturdays to be called Leading Britain's Conversation. Its presenter will be Andrew Pierce, the Daily Scum Mail's consultant editor, who is also another Sky News paper preview regular. His three-hour show, from 7am each Saturday, will start on 22 March.

Ofcom has renewed Channel Four's licence for another ten years but says that the network needs to increase its output in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The media watchdog said that the channel's quota for programmes produced outside of England would triple from three to nine per cent from 2020. Channel Four projects that it will require an extra twelve million notes in production costs. It currently spends twenty million smackers in these areas. The new licence will begin on 1 January 2015. Ofcom believes that an increase in content output by the UK nations would 'benefit viewers' by expanding the range of production centres and may help better reflect different communities and cultures in the UK. The regulator's consultation into Channel Four's licence conditions took place in July last year, but other than the increase in the nations' output, all other conditions will remain unchanged including schools programming. In a statement, Ofcom said that not one of the responses to its consultation argued a change to the schools programming quota was 'an effective means of improving delivery' of Channel Four's remit for education. It will remain at a minimum of thirty minutes per year.

Chelsea Handler has mocked oily twat Piers Morgan during an interview on his, soon to be no more, CNN In The Chair spot. The comedienne has regularly sparred with Morgan in recent years and on this occasion appeared to shock him with a comment about the axing of his show. Which was funny. 'You tweet very amusingly,' Morgan told Handler. 'I wish you did!' she replied. 'I want your viewers to know, they must know because they're probably following you on Twitter, you can't even pay attention for sixty seconds. You're a terrible interviewer.' Yes, chuck, we know. he was a pretty shitty tabloid editor as well. That's why he got sacked. Do you see a pattern emerging here at all? The odious, risible Morgan retorted: 'You just weren't keeping my attention. It's more an issue for you than for me.' Handler then said: 'It's not my problem - this is your show, you have to pay attention to the guests that you invited on your show. Listen, it doesn't matter how interesting I am. You signed up for this job.' Morgan said: 'Of course it does!' Handler replied: 'Well, maybe that's why your job is coming to an end.' Touche.

King of the Mods Sir Bradley Wiggins is to become the first Olympian to join The Archers when the gold medallist takes on a cameo role in the BBC Radio 4 rural soap. He will play himself in the episode, broadcast to tie in with BBC's Sport Relief day on 21 March. Wiggo will attend Ambridge to judge the winner of the village's Sport Relief charity event. 'It's not every day you get to star in the world's longest-running soap opera,' said Sir Bradley. 'When I was asked to record a Sport Relief special for The Archers, there was no way I could turn it down,' he said. 'I grew up with it on the radio in the house.' While in Ambridge, the cyclist will also have an 'amusing encounter with Lynda Snell and her rusty old bike', according to programme makers. The mind positively boggles.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has been handed a seven-game ban for his headbutt on Hull City's David Meyler, a Premier League record for a manager. Pardew clashed with the Republic of Ireland midfielder in the seventy second minute of his side's 4-1 victory at the KC Stadium on 1 March. An independent Football Association commission ruled the first three matches imposed are a stadium ban with the remaining four a touchline ban. Pardew was also fined sixty thousand smackers and warned as to his future conduct. It is the first stadium ban ever for a Premier League manager. After he'd turned up for his caning, Pardew told the official Newcastle United website: 'As I have made clear, I deeply regret the incident and again wholeheartedly apologise to all parties for my conduct, which I understand was not acceptable. I will accept the punishment handed down by the FA today. My focus now turns to preparing the team for this weekend's game against Fulham and finishing the season as strongly as possible.' Pardew had already been handed a one hundred grand fine by his club hours after the incident and given a formal warning. With the Magpies 3-1 up, Pardew was angered when Meyler shoved past him in an attempt to retrieve the ball to take a throw-in. The pair came together, with the former Reading, Southampton and West Ham gaffer pushing his head near to - if not actually into - the face of the Hull player (who, frankly, seems to have entirely gotten away with his own part in this whole sorry mess). A fracas involving players and staff from both sides followed and, when the crowd was dispersed, Meyler was booked and Pardew sent from the touchline. Speaking after the match, Pardew said: 'I did not mean any damage to the guy but I have moved my head forward. I tried to push him away with my head. I apologise to everyone. I should not have got involved in it. I don't think it was a headbutt. It wasn't a motion that was quick.' In their statement, released six hours after the game ended, Newcastle said that Pardew's actions were 'unacceptable' and 'not the behaviour we expect from the manager.' BBC pundit, and former Wales international, Robbie Savage had that said Pardew should be banned for the remaining ten games of the season. Which, coming from a player who spent his entire career trying to wind up opponents and get them sent off would, actually, be funny if it wasn't so sinister. For what it's worth, this blogger entirely agrees with those lovely chaps at nufc.com: 'Pardew's penalty for pushing over an ex-mackem has also risen from a one hundred thousand pounds club-imposed fine to one hundred and sixty thousand, but the fact that he's able to return to pitchside this season will doubtless come as a crushing blow to his critics - who would only have been satisfied to see the Newcastle manager hanging by his plums from the Wembley Arch. Having designated the case as "non standard", the FA were able to impose punishment at their discretion and look to have come up with a reasonable response to an incident that has been blown out of all proportion. On that basis Pardew can thank messrs Savage, Shearer, Souness and many other ex-footballers turned pundits, whose hysterical response may just have persuaded the panel from bowing to external pressure, toning down the punishment to one which was more readily accepted ... Community coaching in the Crimea and being placed under house arrest at Joe Kinnear's gaff were among alternative punishments we came up with, but it's understood that Pardew's own personal penance will involve coaching at local boys clubs - not self-defence classes though.'
Star Wars Episode Seven could turn out to be a truly classy affair. Director JJ Abrams recently visited the set of period drama Downton Abbey to 'scout for talent', reports the Mirra. It quotes actor Lesley Nichol, who plays Beryl Patmore, as saying: 'JJ Abrams came to the set last year and he is just about to do the next Star Wars movie. He loves the show and he checked a few of us to star in the film.' Abrams was effusive in his praise for Downton: 'It's absolute soap opera – done triple-A plus. It's cleverly written and brilliantly cast. It lets you enjoy what is – at the core, a pulpy family drama, but done with such respect and regard for the characters, you feel they're all alive.' Meanwhile, US trade magazine Variety reports that Downton's Ed Speleers and Breaking Bad's Jesse Plemons are in the running to play a Jedi, alongside Attack The Block star John Boyega and theatre actors Matthew James Thomas and Ray Fisher. It also reports that Girls star Adam Driver is lined up to play the film's villain.

Popular American sitcom The Big Bang Theory has been renewed for three more seasons. CBS has announced that the hugely popular sitcom will continue until at least the 2016-17 season. The most recent series, which is screened on Channel Four and E4 in the UK - seemingly, endlessly! - was seen by almost twenty million punters in the US. Its co-creator Chuck Lorre is also behind comedy Two And A Half Men, which is also likely to be renewed along with his other current hits, Mike & Molly and the Anna Faris sitcom Mom.
Evan Davis has been accused of being 'London-centric' after calling for Salford – the BBC's Northern base – to change its name to Manchester. The big-eared, cross-eyed Dragons' Den and Radio 4 presenter said in an interview with the Manchester Evening News before the broadcast of the second episode of his BBC2 series Mind The Gap: 'It's a serious problem for Manchester that other people refuse to be called Manchester. It [Salford] should be called Manchester.' He added: 'I go to Manchester quite a lot for Dragons' Den; when I go up on the train I go to Manchester. Salford has an 0161 telephone number, an "M" post code, the same tram network.' But his comments left the Mayor of Salford less than impressed: 'What really is confusing is when a media pundit tries to shift the boundaries of the city. The Quays are in Salford - they always have been and always will be and people know that. This view is typical of a London-centric view of the world. Fortunately the British isles is more diverse than London and a handful of big cities. Our strength in the North lies is our diversity, not in all being the same.' And Salford-born former New Order bassist - and geet hard bloke - Peter Hook also weighed in: 'That's hilarious. I hope [the comments have] been treated with the contempt [they] deserve. Far from holding Manchester back, so many of Manchester's greatest musical exports have actually been from Salford, Tony Wilson, The Happy Mondays, to name but a few/' Well, to name two actually, Pete. 'For someone from Salford to have to give up that name would be ridiculous.'
The actor Olaf Pooley is one hundred years old this week - making him only the second person to have appeared in Doctor Who to become a Centenarian. Born in the Parkstone area of Poole in Dorset to an English father and Danish mother in 1914, Olaf studied architecture at the Architectural Association in London and painting at the Chelsea School of Art - and is still an exhibiting painter into his hundredth year. His first full-time job was with Pinewood Film Studios' design department and he then became a member of the BBC Radio Drama Repertory Company, with his prolific acting career also seeing him appearing in the West End, on film and on TV. He is one of just a couple of dozen actors to have appeared in both the Doctor Who and Star Trek franchises (having also appeared in Star Trek: Voyager). Pooley had two roles in Doctor Who, both of them in the classic 1970 story Inferno, portraying Professor Stahlman and his parallel-Earth counterpart in the seven-parter. During his career, he wrote and appeared in the 1969 horror movie The Corpse - Crucible of Horror in the USA - which starred Michael Gough and is a particular favourite of this blogger. He later wrote, directed and appeared in The Johnstown Monster and also wrote the screenplay for a film version of Bernard Taylor's The Godsend, which was directed by his future second wife, Gabrielle Beaumont. Olaf's other writing credits include the 1982 TV film Falcon's Gold, while he was an uncredited writer on the 1985 SF horror movie Lifeforce. Though, we'll let him off for that abomination on the grounds that everybody is allowed to make one mistake in their life. Olaf's TV guest appearances since the 1950s included roles in The Adventures of Be Gunn (as Billy Bones), deadline Midnight, Top Secret, Ghost Squad, The Third Man, The Troubleshooters, Dixon Of Dock Green, Paul Temple, The Culture Vultures, Jason King, Doomwatch, Shadows, A Horseman Riding By, LA Law, Hill Street Blues and MacGyver, as well as playing Lars Torvik in the first episode of The Sandbaggers. In 1958, Olaf took part in the BBC radio play Ambrose In Paris, and he played Sebastian in a 1956 film production of The Tempest. He had a major career in West End theatre, appearing in notable productions such as Noël Coward's Peace In Our Time as well as The Tempest and Othello and he counted Sir Alec Guinness among his close personal friends. Olaf emigrated to the United States in 1986, where he continued his acting, also becoming a respected artist - here he is being interviewed by ABC News in California on the occasion of his hundredth birthday, Olaf still seems bright, active and articulate. In a recent interview, he said: 'It is a privilege to be an artist and I am fortunate in this respect.' Everyone at From The North sends their sincere congratulations and best wishes to Olaf.

Incidentally, if you're wondering, only other Doctor Who centenarian - Rory Williams aside, obviously - and, indeed, the oldest living actor to have been in the long-running BBC family SF drama is the Indian acrtess Zohra Sehgal, who was born on 27 April 1912. Zohra appeared, uncredited, as one of Ping-Cho's attendants in three episodes of Marco Polo in 1964 and, later the same year, as Sheyran in an episode of The Crusade.

The inventor of the World Wide Web has marked the twenty fifth anniversary of his creation by calling for a 'Magna Carta' bill of rights to protect its users. Sir Tim Berners-Lee told BBC Breakfast the issue could be compared to the importance of human rights. He has been an outspoken critic of government surveillance following a series of leaks from ex-US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. Sir Tim called on people to 'take action' and protest against surveillance. Although, given that most of those who have taken action as a protest against surveillance usually ended up facing life in pokey or life in Russia, some dear blog readers might want to think seriously about the ramifications before taking Sir Tim up on his instructions. He told BBC Breakfast the online community has now 'reached a crossroads. It's time for us to make a big communal decision,' he said. 'In front of us are two roads - which way are we going to go? Are we going to continue on the road and just allow the governments to do more and more and more control - more and more surveillance? Or are we going to set up a bunch of values? Are we going to set up something like a Magna Carta for the World Wide Web and say, actually, now it's so important, so much part of our lives, that it becomes on a level with human rights?' Sir Tim said the Internet should be a 'neutral' medium that can be used without feeling 'somebody's looking over our shoulder.' Especially when looking at naughty photos. Obviously. He called for 'vigilance against surveillance' by its users, adding: 'The people of the world have to be constantly aware, constantly looking out for it - constantly making sure through action, protest, that it doesn't happen.' Sir Tim has previously warned that surveillance could 'threaten the democratic nature of the web.' He has also spoken out in support of Snowden, saying his actions were 'in the public interest.' The US government beg to differ. The idea that the World Wide Web would end up playing such a huge role in people's lives would have seemed 'crazy' twenty five years ago, said Sir Tim. He admitted that the web represented 'humanity connected', involving both 'the wonderful and the ghastly.' But he added: 'I don't have a lot of sympathy with people who say: "There's so much rubbish on the web." Well, if there's so much rubbish, if it's rubbish, don't read it. Go read something else.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's A To Z Of Groovy Tunes, dear blog reader, Q is, of course, for Question Mark and the Mysterions. Since there is bugger all else that begins with Q which is worthy of getting excited about.

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