Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lines On The Antiquity Of Rumours

Peter Capaldi and Tom Riley have been sighted on-set filming for the new series of Doctor Who. It was recently revealed that Riley had landed a guest role on the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama, in an episode written by yer actual Mark Gatiss his very self. The episode - which will also guest-star Ben Miller as a villain - is rumoured to be based on the legend of Robin Hood. Expected to be broadcast third in Capaldi's first series as the Doctor, the episode is one of two scripts which Gatiss recently announced he had been commissioned to write for the show.
Foul hippie. Get a haircut.

An extended video collating three of the Regenerations panels at the Doctor Who Celebration convention has been uploaded onto the BBC's Fifty Years Of Doctor Who website. Recorded at the Excel Arena in London on the 22 and 23 November and monitored by Nicholas Briggs, the panel brought together Crazy auld Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy and The Crap One before the celebratory simulcast broadcast of The Day Of The Doctor. Discussed were the series' 2005 revival, the current TARDIS set, an anecdote from Crazy Tom about improvising in The Face Of Evil, what Doctor each of them would play discounting themselves and the actors' reactions to regeneration scenes.
A Chinese court has jailed a blogger for three years, state media has reported. He is the first person to be sentenced in a government-led crackdown on so-called 'Internet rumours.' Shocking and disgraceful, of course, but it does make one wonder if something similar is coming to the UK; and, if it does, whether tis will lead to vast chunks of Doctor Who fandom finding their collective asses banged up in stir doing some serious porridge for claiming that Marco Polo has been recovered in Taiwan.

Sherlock has been nominated for a prestigious Golden Nymph award at the Monte Carlo Television Festival. The massively popular BBC drama starring yer actual Benny Cumberbatch and Marty Freeman his very self is up for the Television Films prize at the awards ceremony, which recognises the best TV programmes and actors from around the world. It will be up against the BBC Wales thriller Hinterland, which will be shown on BBC4 from 28 April. It has also been acquired by Netflix in the US. Also up for the award are Austria's Blank, France's The Silence Of The Church, Germany's Take Good Care Of Him and Japan's Battlefield Tokyo. Elsewhere, Modern Family, Mrs Brown's Boys, Episodes and Vicious are up for Best Comedy. House Of Cards, Reign, Wentworth and Downton Abbey have all been nominated in the Best Drama category.
The Big Allotment Challenge began with over two million viewers on Tuesday, according to overnight ratings. BBC2's latest competition series was watched by 2.5m at 8pm, down two hundred thousand from last week's The Great British Sewing Bee finale in the same slot. The channel's Great British Menu cooked up 1.8m at 7.30pm, while new documentary series Watermen: A Dirty Business interested 2.2m at 9pm. Jools Holland's Later ... Live returned with eight hundred and five thousand at 10pm. On BBC1, Shetland ended its current series with 4.1m at 9pm. Have I Got A Bit More News For You pulled in 2.1m at 10.35pm. ITV's River Monsters appealed to 1.8m at 7.30pm. A repeat of Midsomer Murders garnered 2.1m at 8pm. On Channel Four, Embarrassing Bodies returned with 1.3m at 8pm. New Worlds climbed slightly week-on-week to four hundred and eighty eight thousand at 9pm, whilst a Dogging Tales repeat was watched by four hundred and ninety one thousand viewers at 10pm. Channel Five's Nightmare Neighbour Next Door appealed to 1.5m at 8pm, followed by the latest episode of The Mentalist with nine hundred and forty three thousand at 9pm. Law & Order: SVU had an audience of six hundred and sixty five thousand at 10pm. On BBC3, The Call Centre rose by around four hundred thousand viewers week-on-week to 1.2m. Mad Men returned for a seventh series with a meagre twenty eight thousand viewers on Sky Atlantic – nearly half of series six's debut last year.

MasterChef held steady in the overnight ratings on Wednesday. The BBC cooking series stayed at 4.5m at 8pm - for an episode in which the impressive Luke and the perky 'meat lover' Anna qualified for the quarter final and a tortilla ended up on the floor - followed by Monkey Planet with 3.1m at 9pm. On ITV, the risible Big Star's Little Star was watched by 3.9m at 8pm, while Law & Order: UK attracted 4.1m at 9pm. BBC2's Under Offer: Estate Agents On The Job appealed to 1.6m at 8pm, followed by the second episode of Ian Hislop's Olden Days with 1.3m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Secret Eaters interested nine hundred and seventy five thousand punters at 8pm. How To Get A Council House brought in 1.7m at 9pm. The Hunt For The Boston Bombers was seen by seven hundred and seventeen thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Killing Spree attracted seven hundred and fifty seven thousand voyeurs at 8pm, followed by NCIS with nine hundred and fifteen thousand at 9pm and Castle with six hundred and three thousand at 10pm. On E4, new series Party House got off to a poor start, with just eighty seven thousand tuning viewers in at 10pm.
Shetland is to return for a third series on BBC1. BBC Scotland's crime drama has been recommissioned for a new six-part series, following its recently completed second run. Douglas Henshall stars as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez in the series, which is adapted from Ann Cleeves's crime novels based on the Shetland Isles. Christopher Aird, the BBC's head of drama production in Scotland, said: 'Shetland is a really distinctive crime series that has proved hugely popular with audiences both here in Scotland and across the rest of the UK. I am thrilled it has been commissioned for a third outing, and rest assured we have some really exciting plans for viewers from DI Perez and his team.' Producer Elaine Collins of ITV Studios who make the show added: 'I'm delighted that Shetland has been recommissioned and proud to have made a distinctive Scottish show that is enjoyed all over the UK. It's also been a pleasure to work with outstanding actors like Douglas Henshall, Alison O'Donnell and Steven Robertson, who have made Jimmy Perez and his close-knit team a regular fixture in the homes of millions of viewers.' Shetland will begin filming in 2015, while broadcast dates and castings will be confirmed at a later date.

But, as one door opens, another one is closed. The Bletchley Circle has reportedly been cancelled by ITV. The period drama, starring Anna Maxwell-Martin, Rachael Stirling and Julie Graham, was set in the early 1950s and focused on four women who had worked at the wartime code-breaking centre Bletchley Park. The first series was, really rather good and gained enough of an audience to get a recommission. The second, wasn't. Cast members including Julie Graham have retweeted the news of the cancellation and encouraged viewers to 'protest the decision.' And, one imagines some of the eight people who were still watching it by the end may well do so. The second series of the drama was broadcast earlier this year, with the broadcaster describing The Bletchley Circle as 'a wonderful addition to our drama slate' when announcing the new run in May 2013. ITV's Director of Drama Commissioning, Steve November, added at the time: 'We're delighted that it's returning to ITV with two new and exciting stories.'

This week saw another fine episode of Hannibal - Yakimono - which saw one surprise character return and some extremely bloody character death. So, no change there, then.
Alan Titchmarsh claims that he has 'no problem' with Paul O'Grady after O'Grady claimed that Tichmarsh's rottenly banal and disgraceful chat show had 'pinched' its format from his. The Sun reports Titchmarsh as saying: 'I don't bear him any animosity, but I don't know why he got so hot under the collar about it. If you can't say anything nice about someone, don't say anything at all.' Titchmarsh is working on a new ITV show, Best British Gardens, which one assumes won't be nicking anything from O'Grady's For The Love Of Dogs.

The producers of the Channel Four documentary series Benefits Street have confirmed they are working on a follow-up with the working title Immigration Street. Kieran Smith of Love Productions said that the show was in 'the very early stages' and had yet to be commissioned. He added that his company had been 'talking to residents' on Derby Road in Southampton, describing it as 'a place with a long history of an immigrant population.' However, according to the Gruniad Morning Star - who, to be fair, have an agenda smeared an inch thick all over concerning this show - 'programme-makers scouting potential locations for another series of the controversial programme in Stockton-on-Tees, and a separate documentary with a working title Immigration Street in Southampton, have faced opposition from politicians and community leaders.' Benefits Street provoked controversy when it was broadcast earlier this year. The series was accused of negatively portraying benefits claimants in Birmingham's Winson Green area and generated hundreds of complaints. Critics described it as 'poverty porn' and it received eighteen hundred viewers' complaints from viewers. Some residents claimed that they had been misled about the thrust of the programme and that producers deliberately withheld the title from them. Speaking on BBC Radio 5Live on Wednesday, Smith claimed that the new show was 'coming from the same stable as Benefits Street. We thought there was something to do about what happens to immigrants when they arrive in this country who are looking to be part of British society. We thought Derby Road was an interesting area that reflects what happens when immigrants move into an area and change the look of an area,' the executive producer continued. He admitted that he had met community leaders 'who are worried about the impact it might have' and pledged to show Derby Road's residents any programme shot there ahead of transmission. Benefits Street, described by its makers as a 'fair and balanced observational documentary [that] sparked an important debate about the welfare system', was a ratings success for Channel Four. The broadcaster confirmed that Love Productions was researching 'a potential new series looking at life in a community where diverse groups of people live alongside one another. The title and location are not yet confirmed and discussions are ongoing with local people.' Harjap Singh, chairman of Sikh Council Hampshire and Southampton Gurdwara Council, told the Daily Echo: 'We are against it because it would be pretty bad for community relations.' Meanwhile, in Stockton, the Northern Echo reported this week that staff from Love Productions – namely 'two young women, both dressed down in leggings and jumpers but with cut-glass Southern accents' – had been talking to the residents of Dixon Street in Stockton-on-Tees. Women with 'Southern accents'? The utter scum.

Mad Frankie Boyle is reportedly leading a cast of comics in a new sitcom in development. He will be one of the actors at a read-through of the show, Wildlife, about a crew filming a nature documentary in Sweden. Miles Jupp, Isy Suttie, Craig Campbell and Adam Hess will play the other members of the team in the dummy run. Wildlife has been written by Andrew Collins and Simon Day, who previously co-created the 2003 sitcom Grass, about Day's The Fast Show character Billy Bleach moving to the countryside. Producers describe the premise of Wildlife thus: 'As if capturing footage of the rare Eurasian wolf in the forests of Bergslagen, Sweden, isn't difficult enough, they also have to film a "making-of" featurette and refrain from killing each other.' That sounds quite funny, actually and the cast is impressive. It'll be interesting to see if this one develops.

The movie director Bryan Singer has been accused of drugging, manipulating and forcibly sodomising a then-seventeen-year-old boy in a graphic lawsuit which was filed in the US this week. The suit further contends that Singer did these things as part of 'a group of adult males similarly positioned in the entertainment industry that maintained and exploited boys in a sordid sex ring,' according to excerpts from the suit published in The Wrap. Implicated in the charges against Singer - and, allegedly, at the head of the 'sordid sex ring' - is Marc Collins-Rector, founder of the Internet start-up Digital Entertainment Network and a convicted sex offender, who pled guilty in 2004 to luring minors across state lines for the purposes of sex. The lawsuit was filed in Hawaii, where attorneys for the plaintiff claim that some of the alleged events took place at the Oahu estate of the hairdresser Paul Mitchell. They are seeking a jury trial and 'unspecified damages' - for which read 'lots of wonga' - for battery, assault, 'emotional distress' and 'invasion of privacy by unreasonable intrusion.' Singer's accuser, one Michael Egan, was a model and aspiring actor who claims that he first met Collins-Rector in 1998, when Egan attended parties at what was known as The M&C Estate — a mansion which Collins-Rector and his DEN partner Chad Shackley had purchased from the hip-hop mogul Suge Knight. This soon became notorious as a place where a reported 'Who's Who of gay Hollywood' partied. And partied hard. Egan alleges that during one of those parties, he was 'introduced to Singer', who told him that the men he saw there 'controlled Hollywood', and that 'keeping them happy' was the key to Egan fulfilling his career ambitions. Over the years, numerous lawsuits have been filed by others alleging that they were raped or coerced into performing sexual acts on various men of The M&C Estate — lawsuits which eventually led to Collins-Rector and his partners fleeing to Spain in 2002. Upon being extradited back to the US, Collins-Rector pleaded extremely guilty to eight charges of child enticement and was registered as a sex offender. He was also hit with a four and a half million dollar summary judgment in civil court. All of the accusations against him - and many of those who had partied at his house - were well-documented in a 2007 exposé by Radar. Filed nearly a decade after, Egan's own accusations recall those earlier charges, alleging that men threatened the safety of Egan's family, forced him to drink, drugged him without his knowledge and repeatedly sexually assaulted him. It claims that: 'Approximately two to three months after Collins-Rector began sexually abusing Plaintiff, Defendant Singer was socialising with Collins-Rector around the estate's swimming pool and Plaintiff was in the pool. In compliance with the "rules" imposed by Collins-Rector that people in the pool area were not allowed to wear clothes, Plaintiff was nude as was Defendant Singer. Collins-Rector ordered Plaintiff out of the pool and Defendant Singer hugged Plaintiff and grabbed his bare buttocks. They then went to the jacuzzi where Collins-Rector had Plaintiff sit on his lap and fondled Plaintiff's genitals. Collins-Rector then passed Plaintiff to Defendant Singer and Plaintiff was made to sit on Defendant Singer's lap. Defendant Singer provided an alcoholic beverage to Plaintiff and mentioned finding a role for him in an upcoming movie that he was directing. Defendant Singer told Plaintiff how "this group" controls Hollywood, and that he was "sexy." Defendant Singer masturbated Plaintiff and then performed oral sex upon him. Defendant Singer solicited Plaintiff to perform oral sex upon him which Plaintiff resisted. Defendant Singer flagrantly disregarded Plaintiff's unwillingness to submit, and forced Plaintiff's head underwater to make Plaintiff perform oral sex upon him. When Plaintiff pulled his head out of the water in order to breathe, Defendant Singer demanded that he continue which Plaintiff refused. Defendant Singer then forced Plaintiff to continue performing oral sex upon him outside of the pool, and subsequently forcibly sodomised Plaintiff.' As to why Egan would continue to attend these parties or put up with these repeated assaults, the lawsuit alleges that Collins-Rector held a gun against Egan's head and said that he would shoot him if Egan continued to resist sexual contact. Egan claims that he was so intimidated by this threat that he even agreed to fly with Singer to Hawaii where, he alleges, the director 'kept him in line' by alternating between threats to 'report [his] refusals' to Collins-Rector and making Egan promises to land him roles in an unspecified 'X-Men movie,' as well as various other productions. Egan further claims that Singer forced 'a handful of cocaine' into his face, drugged his drink with something that impaired his motor skills, then anally raped him. Twice. 'During the first of the above-referenced trips to Hawaii, Plaintiff was instructed that he would spend the first two nights in a room with Defendant Singer. During the first night, Plaintiff took a long walk by himself. When he returned to the Paul Mitchell estate, he came across Defendant Singer who was in the pool area. Defendant Singer verbally and loudly confronted Plaintiff for not having been available for him earlier and demanded that he undress,' the suit alleges. 'Defendant Singer frightened Plaintiff by pushing him into the pool and rebuked Plaintiff for his attitude and reminded him that he was there to "keep people happy." Defendant Singer put a handful of cocaine against Plaintiff's nose and forced him to inhale it. Defendant Singer then provided Plaintiff with a beverage which he drank which significantly impacted his consciousness and his motor skills. Defendant Singer then entered the pool where he non-consensually masturbated Plaintiff and performed oral sex upon him. Defendant Singer caused Plaintiff to rub his erect penis against Defendant Singer's buttocks. He forced Plaintiff's head underwater and made Plaintiff orally copulate him. He then caused Plaintiff to get out of the pool and lie face down on a lounge chair. To continue the sexual assault, Defendant Singer spit [sic] on Plaintiff's buttocks, spanked him and forced a handful of cocaine onto Plaintiff's face. He then anally raped Plaintiff. He subsequently caused them to go to the jacuzzi where he provided another beverage to Plaintiff. Defendant Singer attempted to insert his penis into Plaintiff's mouth which Plaintiff resisted, but he ultimately was able to force his penis into Plaintiff's mouth. Defendant Singer then assisted Plaintiff to their room where he again anally raped Plaintiff.' According to Singer's attorneys, the timing of the lawsuit—filed - just weeks before the release of X-Men: Days Of Future Past — is 'far from a coincidence.' Dismissing the case as 'absurd and defamatory' in a statement Singer's attorney, Martin Singer, said: 'It is obvious that this case was filed in an attempt to get publicity at the time when Bryan's new movie is about to open in a few weeks.' Certainly contributing to that publicity, the suit was announced in a press release which was sent out by a phalanx of attorneys led by Jeff Herman, identified in the announcement as 'a nationally-recognised attorney for victims of sexual abuse.' Herman previously represented the five men who accused the puppeteer Kevin Clash of similar charges of sexual assault. In his statement, Herman declared: 'Hollywood has a problem with the sexual exploitation of children', and called these accusations against Singer just 'the first of many cases' which he intends to bring against others involved in the entertainment industry's 'sordid sex ring.' While most of the charges against Clash were eventually dismissed, whether due to the statute of limitations or dropped voluntarily, the scandal surrounding them was enough to force Clash to resign from Sesame Street. And while Singer managed to overcome a similar 1997 lawsuit alleging that he had forced teenage boys to strip naked for a scene in Apt Pupil, no matter what comes of these new charges, the graphic nature of them certainly seems designed to shock at a time when Singer has not only the future of the X-Men franchise in his hands, but plenty of other high-profile projects in the works, including Vince Gilligan’s Battle Creek for CBS. Singer, forty eight, has directed three instalments in the lucrative X-Men franchise, beginning with the first X-Men film in 2000. His other credits include The Usual Suspects, Superman Returns and last year's Jack the Giant Slayer.

Yer actual Sir Tom Jones, Michael Sheen and Katherine Jenkins are among the Welsh talent that will take part in a one-off performance of Under Milk Wood. BBC Wales is putting on a production of the famous 'play for voices' from playwright Dylan Thomas, to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the first BBC radio broadcast of the play in 1954. There's lovely. It also marks one hundred years since the birth of Thomas, isn't it? BBC1 Wales will broadcast the performance in early May, while the rest of the UK will be able to access it via BBC iPlayer. Matthew Rhys, Griff Rhys Jones, Aneurin Barnard, Ioan Gruffudd, Charlotte Church and Eve Myles are also part of the cast as are Tom Ellis, Iwan Rheon, Kimberley Nixon and Aimee-Ffion Edwards. That's just about every actor in Wales, by the look of it. Katherine Jenkins said: 'It was wonderful to be involved in a project celebrating such a great Welshman. It's also been such a joy to collaborate with so many other welsh artists whom I respect and admire. I hope the results are a fitting tribute.' Meanwhile, Executive Producer Bethan Jones said: 'It's been an enormous privilege to work with such an extraordinary ensemble of Welsh talent for this unique presentation of Dylan Thomas' play, and an amazing experience to witness how this familiar text feels fresh and alive when read with truth and simplicity by this wonderful cast. It's almost as though this material is part of everyone's DNA. Our starting point was Dylan's only note to the original cast before the very first performance in New York shortly after he completed the play - "Love the words"'. Under Milk Wood was written over a ten year period in Laugharne and in New York, where it had its first performance in 1953.

Wor geet canny Ross Noble is to make a second series of his Freewheeling show for Dave. Ross will be taking his motorbike on the road from June, again taking his cues for where to go and what to do from his four hundred and thirty thousand Twitter followers. The comedian broke the news, appropriately enough, on Twitter. 'I can confirm I will be hitting the road in June for Freewheeling 2 for Dave. The adventure continues. What the show is is up to you,' he wrote. 'For those asking where I will be filming the new Freewheeling. I have no idea there is no pre-planning. Tweet me and you may end up in the show.' The first series aired on Dave last autumn, averaging a consolidated audience of three hundred and twenty thousand viewers over its six hour-long episodes. Earlier this year it was reported that the format was on the brink of being sold to America's TBS network, who were looking for a high-profile comic to sign for the trip. However, no further developments have been announced since.

Discovery Communications has withdrawn its bid for Richard Desmond's Channel Five, which is thought to leave MTV owner Viacom as one of the few remaining potential buyers according to the Gruniad Morning Star. This comes just a day after the same alleged newspaper claimed that billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch was 'believed to be involved in leading bid for Channel Five.' Or not. Time will tell, dear blog reader. It usually does.

Takeaway owners are to face a new testing programme, after a watchdog found nearly a third of lamb takeaways it checked contained a different meat. The Foods Standards Agency found that forty three out of one hundred and forty five samples of lamb takeaways - usually curries or kebabs - were 'wrongly described.' The FSA said twenty five of the samples were found to contain only beef, which is cheaper than lamb. Chicken and turkey were also found, but no samples contained horsemeat. As a priority, local authorities are now being asked to test 300 samples of lamb from takeaways, starting at the beginning of May. Takeaway owners are also being warned that they can be fined up to five grand for mislabelling food. 'Prosecutions have taken place against business owners for mislabelling lamb dishes, but the recurring nature of the problem shows there needs to be a renewed effort to tackle this problem,' said Andrew Rhodes, chief operating officer at the FSA. 'Clearly the message isn't getting through to some businesses,' he added. The consumer organisation Which? found an even higher instance of contamination, after a series of tests in London and Birmingham. It found forty per cent of lamb takeaways contained other types of meat, with some containing no lamb at all. Of thirty samples tested in Birmingham, sixteen contained 'other meats.' In a similar experiment in London, meat in eight of the samples was not pure lamb. As part of its campaign to 'Stop Food Fraud', Which? is now calling on the government to 'take further action' to restore customer confidence in the origins of meat. 'The government, local authorities and the FSA need to make tackling food fraud a priority and take tougher action to crack down on the offenders,' said Richard Lloyd, the executive director of Which? The organisation also wants the government to implement some of the recommendations in The Elliott Review, which followed last year's horsemeat scandal. In the UK, seventeen different beef products were found to contain traces of horsemeat, while supermarkets including Tesco and Asda were forced to withdraw products. Among Professor Elliott's forty eight interim recommendations, he suggested setting up a food crime unit, to police food standards better. Earlier this week, the FSA also announced 'a new round of testing' on beef products, to check for horsemeat. The tests have been ordered by the European Commission following last year's scandal.

This blogger his very self rather enjoys a nice lamb curry every now and again, dear blog reader. Though, admittedly, he prefers a tasty marmalade sandwich.
Next ...
The Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Andy Coulson has revealed for the first time that he did listen to private voicemail messages relating to former Home Secretary David Blunkett. The ex-Scum of the World editor claimed that when he did so, in August 2004, it was 'the first and the only time voicemail messages were played to me.' He told the hacking trial 'it was clear' that the material ;was the product of an illegal act.' Coulson denies the charges against him. He is accused of conspiracy to hack phones and conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. Coulson, who became Downing Street director of communications after leaving the Scum of the World, was testifying in his own defence at the Old Bailey for a third day. On Tuesday, Coulson told the trial he was 'not aware' in 2004 that phone hacking was illegal. However, he said he still claimed that he was 'shocked' and 'angry' when the senior reporter Neville Thurlbeck first told him that Thurlbeck had heard voicemails showing Blunkett was having an affair with Kimberly Quinn, a former publisher of The Spectator magazine. 'I know I was quite angry about it and I used some reasonably colourful language and said to him words to the effect of, "What an earth do you think you are doing?"' Coulson claimed. He added that he viewed the then-Home Secretary as 'a friend of the paper' and the intrusion into his voicemails was 'a breach of privacy.' Coulson then claims that he ordered any 'investigation' into the MP to stop. However, he said that the reporter pitched the story again later and played him extracts from the messages. Coulson claimed that Thurlbeck argued the story was 'in the public interest' because it showed Blunkett was 'distracted' from the job of Home Secretary and had 'mentioned sensitive details' in the messages, which could be 'a security issue.' Asked if he challenged Thurlbeck about where the recordings had come from, Coulson replied: 'I made an assumption that Neville had done this himself. It was all coming from Neville.' Coulson claimed that he later began to 'take the view' that the story should be pursued and decided he would confront Blunkett directly with the allegation. Coulson said that he had 'initially' planned to tell the minister about the voicemail recordings, but then changed his mind. This, he said, was 'a mistake' and even though doing so could have resulted in legal action, it 'would have brought the whole thing to a head.' The jury was then played a recording of a phone call in which Coulson confronted Blunkett about the affair and heard the minister repeatedly asking what evidence he had. In reply, Coulson said that he had 'extremely reliable sources', but he did not mention the intercepted messages. Thurlbeck has already extremely admitted to being involved in phone-hacking. It is part of the agreed facts in the case - not disputed by either side - that recordings of voicemails involving Blunkett were found in a safe at the newspaper's offices. The Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Coulson also said that he thought the idea that Milly Dowler had left home and gone to work in a factory in Telford in 2002 was 'nonsense.' The former Scum of the World editor claimed that he had 'no idea' that his news team had dispatched a team to the Midlands to investigate the lead or that the tip had, in fact, come from a hacked voicemail on the thirteen-year-old's phone. Coulson suggested that he 'remembers' the newspaper's belief at the time was, 'sadly', that the most likely scenario was that Milly was dead. In an intense two hours of questioning about the Dowler story, Coulson also testified that he did not have 'any conversation' with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks about the article which was printed in the paper on 14 April 2002 mentioning a voicemail. He also claimed that he 'did not know' at the time that hacking was a crime and if he had known that any of his staff were 'involved in the unlawful activity' he would have viewed it as 'intrusive and lazy journalism.' Which is, pretty much, a perfect description of everything printed in the Scum of The World, frankly. Whilst in the witness box for the second day, Coulson had told the jurors that he remembered 'someone' at the time suggesting that Milly, who had vanished the previous month, was 'going to take a job in a factory. That's what I remember. It may have come out in conference. It might have been said to me and I'm very clear about my memory of it. I thought it was nonsense,' Coulson said. 'Why?' asked his defence counsel Timothy Langdale QC. 'Because Milly Dowler was a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl and she was a thirteen-year-old who, for all the wrong reasons, had been pictured across all the national newspapers. The family had released video footage of her which was very moving and used widely by probably every news broadcaster in the country. The idea that she could move North and then take a job in a factory just seemed ludicrous.' And yet, the Scum of the World still printed the story. The jury has previously heard that Milly's phone was hacked on 12 April 2002 and the tabloid reported two days later 'a new twist' in the search for the missing schoolgirl 'after messages had been sent to her mobile phone after she vanished.' It has also heard that the tabloid sent at least eight reporters and photographers to an Epson ink-cartridge factory hoping to 'land a scoop.' Coulson claimed that he 'did not remember' reading the story at the time but reading it now, he said that the reference to 'messages' did not, necessarily, infer hacking. 'I do not think it is clear. I think I might have concluded that it may have come from sources, possibly even police sources,' he claimed. 'The first thing is I do not remember the story,' he said explaining to jurors that he 'might' have 'thought police were involved' in the story because there was no 'exclusive' or 'News of the World investigates' logo on the story. That suggested to Coulsom that the story 'may' have been 'a tip' that had been passed to several Sunday papers. Except, of course, that it wasn't. He said if he had been told that one of his staff had hacked the phone his 'instinct' would have been that it was wrong. 'If you had been made aware that somebody at the instigation of the News of the World was accessing voicemail on Milly Dowler's phone, what would your reaction have been?' asked Langdale. Coulson replied: 'My instinctive concern was that this was interference with a police investigation.' He told the jury that he was 'not aware' of hacking generally and also 'not aware' that Milly's phone was hacked or that the Scum of the World team was dispatched to 'chase the story down.' Asked if he would have been told about a team being sent to Telford, he replied: 'Not necessarily, that's the news editor's job.' Thurlbeck, the paper's former chief reporter who has already pleaded extremely guilty to hacking, was the news editor on the day in question, Coulson said. The Scum of the World hastily dumped its first edition account of the voice message just hours after it had appeared and, in the third edition, reported that the police believed the job offer message was the work of 'a sick hoaxer' who had also contacted BBC's Crimewatch. The story was also moved from page nine to page thirty, replacing what Coulson described as 'a glamorous story' featuring a picture of scantily glad Star Trek: Voyager actor Jolene Blalock in a bikini. Coulson repeated that he had 'not read' the article and believed that he would not have thought a story about a hoax merited a prominent slot. 'Hoaxes are not really stories by their nature and this is a hoax wrapped in a riddle. I don't think I rated this story,' he added. 'I think I moved this story looking back at this distance, for cosmetic reasons', he claimed, adding that he didn't generally want 'all the serious content squeezed together, you want to space it out.' The jury was told that the Star Trek picture story on page thirty in the first edition was moved to page eleven, two pages after the Dowler story was placed. The page eleven story was a 'serious' story headlined SBS kill One Hundred Al-Qaida and that moved to page nine replacing the Dowler story in the third edition. It was the first time the jury was given Coulson's version of events about the Milly Dowler story which is central to the crown's case against both him and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks. He was the Scum of the World's deputy editor at the time of the story but was on editing duty because well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was on holiday in Dubai. The jury have heard that she made calls to the office whilst on holiday including one which lasted thirty eight minutes. Coulson denied having any conversation with her about the Milly Dowler story. Coulson told jurors that he also 'did not recall' having a conversation with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks about the story when she returned from holiday the following week. Asking to make a point for clarification, he added: 'I think it's possible I would have avoided a conversation about Milly Dowler because I had made a mistake in the paper; in relation to the mix [of serious and glamorous content] in the paper. I wouldn't have liked to highlight that I got the mix wrong in the first edition.' The prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Coulson and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks both deny conspiring to hack phones. Coulson also denied that an e-mail he sent instructing one of his staff to 'do his phone' was in any way linked to phone-hacking. He told the jury that the e-mail was 'an instruction to get the phone billing data' of a journalist on the paper who senior staff suspected was leaking stories to rivals. He claimed that he authorised the bills to be pulled of Rav Singh, a showbusiness columnist, who was suspected of leaking stories to Calum Best. Coulson said there was 'no evidence' that this had happened but he was frustrated that this e-mail which, he felt, supported his case didn't get disclosed to his defence team until the day Best gave evidence in November. 'I was in no doubt that this was not an instruction to anybody to hack anyone's telephone,' Coulson claimed. 'I remember what this was because it was Rav, he was a friend of mine. I remember requesting authorisation of billing data for Rav. I'm very clear about that and it has been frustrating, if I may say, that this e-mail, that I would argue supports that, took so long to emerge.' Coulson is the last of seven defendants, who deny all the charges against them, to give evidence. The trial extremely continues.
Former Radio 1 DJ and self-styled 'Hairy Cornflake' Dave Lee Travis has been charged with one count of indecent assault under Operation Yewtree. The sixty eight-year-old is alleged to have assaulted a woman, who was over the age of sixteen, in January 1995. According to the Daily Mirra 'the new charge is understood to relate to an alleged assault on a young woman when Travis appeared on The Mrs Merton Show on the BBC.' The Crown Prosecution Service said last month that it had authorised police to charge Travis with the alleged offence. The fresh charge comes after Travis was cleared of twelve counts of indecent assault in February. He still faces a retrial on two outstanding charges, the jury at Southwark Crown Court having been unable to reach verdicts on charges of indecent and sexual assault. These relate to an allegation of indecent assault against a woman in the early 1990s whilst Travis was appearing in pantomime with The Chuckle Brothers along with an alleged sexual assault on a journalist in 2008. When the CPS announced on 28 March that Travis would face a further charge, he said: 'It's been a bit of a nightmare. And the only thing I want to say is this: The nightmare is continuing.' Scotland Yard said that Travis, from Buckinghamshire, was due to appear on bail at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 24 April.

The late Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith - who did eat all the pies - was part of 'a high-level paedophile ring' operating at Westminster in the 1970s, a Labour MP has claimed. Simon Danczuk alleges in a new book that Sir Cyril 'used his influence' to escape prosecution for sexually abusing boys and other filthy wrongdoings. Danczuk told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the MP was part of 'an informal network' of vile and sick sex abusers. And he claimed that police were 'pressured by the authorities' to drop investigations into Smith and his sordid and nefarious activities. 'Had he been prosecuted, then the house of cards would have fallen, in terms of that paedophile network, and it could have brought the government down,' the Labour MP told Today. Danczuk also claimed that child abuse allegations against Sir Cyril were 'widely known' at the time and were even raised in public, at a Liberal party conference. Sir Cyril's family have said that they are 'saddened' by Danczuk's allegations 'made so long after Sir Cyril Smith's death and at a time he is no longer able to defend himself.' Dear blog readers may recalled that members of the late dirty old scallywag and filthy rotten rotter Jimmy Savile's family said something very similar when sexual abuse allegations were first raised against him in September 2012. As, indeed, did the convicted kiddie-fiddler Stuart Hall. They soon went very quiet on the matter. 'Sir Cyril always denied accusations made against him while he was living,' added the statement, issued when extracts from Danczuk's book were serialised in the Daily Scum Mail. Danczuk, MP for Sir Cyril's former constituency Rochdale, alleges that police received 'at least' one hundred and forty four complaints about the late Liberal MP but MI5 and Special Branch 'put pressure' on police officers to drop investigations into the alleged abuse. 'When he was initially arrested, he used the local power that he had, in the Sixties, to be able to convince people that he shouldn't be prosecuted,' Danczuk told the Today programme. 'But once he became a member of Parliament, in 1972, I think he joined an, obviously informal, network of paedophiles that existed in and around Westminster.' Asked how he could make that claimed with any certainty, Danczuk said that Sir Cyril had been 'identified' as attending Elm Guest House in South-West London, adding: '[This is] where it is alleged other significant paedophiles attended.' In 2012, the Metropolitan Police launched an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by politicians in the late 1970s and 1980s, after the Labour MP Tommy Watson (power to the people!) raised concerns in the House of Commons about 'a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No 10.' The investigation, Operation Fernbridge, is centred on the former Elm Guest House in Barnes, the scene of alleged parties involving MPs and other members of the establishment. The Metropolitan Police has confirmed that Sir Cyril was among those who visited the premises. The Crown Prosecution Service has said that he should have been prosecuted for 1960s abuse in Rochdale. Sir Cyril died in 2010 aged eighty two. It was alleged that he raped boys at the Knowl View residential school and abused boys at Cambridge House Children's Home, a privately run care home in Rochdale which closed in 1965. He had a long association with Knowl View, where he was on the management board when he was a councillor.

Cardiff's 3-0 defeat by Crystal Palace in early April should not be allowed to stand, the Welsh club has reportedly whinged in a five-page letter which has been 'seen by the BBC.' The document, sent by club lawyers to the Premier League, alleges that Palace boss Tony Pulis knew sporting director Iain Moody was trying to obtain Cardiff's starting line-up before the game. The club claims that it 'has proof' Moody succeeded and alleges that this 'breaches league rules.' Pulis declined to comment when contacted by the BBC, although Palace previously denied the claims. The Premier League has confirmed that it will investigate the claims. Cardiff states that clubs should 'act in good faith' to one another and 'calls into serious question' the integrity of the match.

A video of a mysterious black ring in the sky over Leamington Spa has reportedly left people scratching their heads, and prompted 'a wave of speculation.' Alleged 'UFO expert' Nick Pope - regularly seen spouting all manner of crap on various Discovery Channel programmes about 'alien mysteries' described the video as 'truly bizarre' and ruled out it being a smoke ring. He added: 'One other possibility is that the shape is made up of millions of bees or other insects, but I've never heard of insects behaving in this way before, so if this is the explanation, it's a real-life X-File.' The ring was reportedly captured by a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl, Georgina Heap, with her smartphone as she returned home from playing tennis with her mother. The ring - which appeared to be close to Warwick Castle - remained in the sky for around three minutes before vanishing, it has been reported. Several different theories were put forward in the media as to what the ring could be. Some speculated as to whether it would be possible to fake the video. 'In theory you can fake most things' Iain McArthur an expert at Audio Video Forensics told the BBC News website. 'For instance, the footage wobbles, you can fake this handheld look. But other elements seem to ring true,' he added. 'There's a "blob" on the top right and top left of the ring, suggesting movement - something organic.' It is not clear how far away the ring is from the smartphone and the video footage is blurred at the sides. 'The blurring element is different from any UFO footage I've seen,' McArthur added. Others thought the ring might have been a strange weather phenomenon, but that seems unlikely according to the Met Office. 'There's no meteorological reason why it's happened. And there was nothing unusual happening in Leamington Spa that day, we've checked,' said a - very efficient sounding - Met Office spokeswoman. The shape is said to have remained in the sky for three minutes and it is very rare for a cloud circle 'that perfect' to remain stationary without being blown away. Could it have been a swarm of insects? The Hufington Post went with that explanation. Some insects do gather in groups like this at certain times of year, according to Frederic Tripet, an entomologist at Keele University. The fuzziness of the black outline 'almost' looks like insects leaving and joining the circle. One of the images has a very faint line curving up from below which might be seen as insects arriving and departing in the formation. Another image has what looks like a fly in the foreground. 'When the winter is mild you can expect population explosions of some insects. They may be mating in that aggregation,' Tripet said. 'Usually mating is not done as high [or] in ring formation.' If not insects, then could it have been birds? A strange black cloud was captured over Leamington last year. It turned out to be a flock of starlings. Birds are known to fly in tight formations, such as a V-shape, so could this ring also have been starlings? The answer to that seems to be no as well, according to Richard James, wildlife adviser at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. 'Starlings and waders can form fluid shapes. But they won't form a shape like this. You sometimes get a small number of buzzards circling around a thermal but it wouldn't resemble the Leamington ring. They would not be as close together. They're likely to be individually visible rather than an amorphous black mass. It's certainly not birds,' he concluded. The eventual answer came in the middle of Tuesday afternoon when a statement from Warwick Castle confirmed that they had been 'testing fireworks.' A Warwick Castle spokesman said that they had been trying out 'fire effects' to go with the daily firing of the Trebuchet Fireball - a giant catapult. 'We've seen a number of different effects, including the vortex images that have been reported,' the spokesman said. 'As yet we don't know what causes the phenomenon but it's certainly a spooky spectacle.'

The BBC News presenter George Alagiah has been diagnosed with bowel cancer. George will take a break from his duties whilst he undergoes treatment. A statement from the BBC said: 'He is grateful for all the good wishes he has received thus far and is optimistic for a positive outcome.' It added: 'George asks that he and his family are given the space and privacy they require whilst he recovers.' The BBC said that the news programmes would be presented by 'familiar faces until such time as George is well enough to return to work.' The statement continued: 'Our thoughts are with him and his family and we send them our very best wishes during this time.' George first joined the BBC in 1989 and spent many years as one of the BBC's leading foreign correspondents before moving to presenting, reporting on events such as the genocide in Rwanda and the conflict in Kosovo. He was made an OBE in 2008's New Year Honours. As someone whose family has been inflicted with the horrors of cancer on several occasions in the past, this blogger, of course, sends his most sincere best wishes for a speedy recovery to George and his family.

If yer actual Paul Weller wasn't already one of Keith Telly Topping's greatest heroes already, then he would be this week having won ten thousand smackers in damages after pictures of his children were 'plastered' on the Daily Scum Mail website. The High Court in London ordered Associated Newspapers to pay the sum after The Goddamn Modfather his very self and his family complained. Seven paparazzi photos were published in October 2012 under the headline A family day out: Paul Weller takes wife Hannah and his twin sons out for a spot of shopping in the hot LA sun. As this blogger mentioned recently, Paul spends quite a bit of his time in LA these days - yer actual Keith Telly Topping even shared a plane to LAX with him and his family (and other people, obviously) in February. The couple said that the photos were 'plainly voyeuristic.' They extremely sued Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Daily Scum Mail, the Scum Mail on Sunday and the Metro, for 'misuse of private information' on behalf of Pail's daughter, Dylan, who was sixteen when the pictures appeared online and twin sons John-Paul and Bowie, who were ten months old. The former frontman of The Jam and The Style Council was not at London's High Court to hear the ruling by Mr Justice Dingemans. A paparazzo had reportedly followed the family on a shopping trip in Santa Monica and took photographs without their consent despite being asked to stop. Associated Newspapers argued the images, in which the children's faces were not pixellated, were 'entirely innocuous and inoffensive' and the Wellers had previously chosen to open up their private family life to public gaze 'to a significant degree.' The judge did not agree and he told them so. David Sherborne, the family's lawyer, said that Hannah Weller had not been in the public eye before her marriage to Paul and had 'taken active steps' to prevent her children's faces from being seen in the media. Photos taken in the street, and not in circumstances such as premieres or for promotion, were 'a blatant impediment to the natural social progress of children', he said.

Music at a UB40 concert was so loud that it was 'altering heart rhythms' and caused a fan's ear to bleed, it has been claimed. Anna Webster said that she left Monday's gig in Cambridge along with up to thirty other people because of the noise. A spokesman for the band said that they were 'sorry that Anna's night was spoiled.' He said that no-one had told the band's crew on the night that the music was too loud and that Webster has been offered free tickets to another gig as an apology. Webster claimed that she left the concert, at the Corn Exchange, before the reggae veterans had finished the first song, in a rub-a-dub style(e). 'It was just horrendously loud - the bass was vibrating even in the foyer,' she said. 'There were so many people walking out because they couldn't deal with it. It was vibrating through your whole body - it was actually altering heart rhythms.' Webster, from Willingham in Cambridgeshire, said that the noise caused her ear - which already had a perforated drum due to a condition from childhood - to bleed. Angela Paffett, from Alconbury, who was also at the gig, said: 'The bass crashed into you like a steam train. I had a pain in my chest.' Stella Jackson, from Arsley in Bedfordshire, also left early. She said that the gig was 'a waste of money' and 'gave her a headache.' A UB40 spokesman said that he had spoken to Webster after being contacted by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and apologised to her if her evening was 'spoiled.' He said that she was 'happy' with the offer of VIP tickets to a gig in Wolverhampton and added that he believed 'the vast majority of people were not affected', noting that the band's sound engineer had been informed about the complaints. A Cambridge Corn Exchange spokesman said that the venue 'always' worked within 'strict health and safety guidelines' and ear plugs were made available for people on the night. He said the responsibility for the concert's sound levels lay with promoter DHP Concerts. DHP Concerts said that sound levels were the responsibility of the band's crew.

So, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day here's something extremely appropriate. An' ting.

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