Sunday, April 06, 2014

Week Sixteen: Total Confusion

Matt Smith's regeneration in last year's Doctor Who Christmas special, The Time Of The Doctor, was something of a divisive affair; with the eleventh-that's-really-thirteenth Doctor turning into Peter Capaldi's twelfth-that's-really-fourteenth with a sharp snap rather than the lengthy build-up which fans have become used to. According to Smudger his very self, however, there were many versions of the regeneration scene - some of which were far darker than the one that ended up on screen. 'I did loads of really different takes,' he said. 'So I was quite surprised to see that was the take they used, because I thought that they might go with something else. We did a lot of different takes and we did a lot of different versions of that ending, and a lot of them were really troubling, and I quite liked them.' He followed his comments, made on a panel at New Orleans Comic Con by saying: 'I'm going to get in trouble now. "Why are you talking about Doctor Who when you've left?"' Smith's description of alternate scenes do fit in with rumours which circulated last year just before the episode aired, that The Doctor would regenerate after losing a leg. It's possible, however, that this more gory ending might have been vetoed for not being suitable for children. Or, indeed, adults.

Meanwhile Smudger and Karen Gillan have reunited at the premiere for Oculus in Los Angeles on Thursday. Her former Doctor Who colleague was supporting Kazza at the screening of her new Mike Flanagan-directed horror movie. The actress 'looked stylish in a black and pink mesh dress with sequin details and striped sleeves' according to reports, while Smudger looked dapper in ... I dunno, clothes. Whatever. The pair, who 'hugged and joked with one another on the red carpet' (well, how very dare they), were also sporting somewhat longer hair after both were required to shave their heeds for separate film roles. And, wears syrups during the filming of The Time Of The Doctor. Kaz cut off all of her ginge off for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, while Smudger shaved for his floppy fringe part in Ryan Gosling's upcoming directorial debut How To Catch A Monster. Oculus - which sees Karen adopt a non-specific American accent - centres round her character, Kaylie Russell, trying to clear her brother Tim's name after he was wrongly accused of murdering their parents when they were children. Karen was also joined at the premiere by some of her co-stars Garrett Ryan, Annalise Basso and Rory Cochrane. Oculus will be released on June 13 in the UK and 11 April in the US.
Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch says that he hopes he's not 'overexposed' himself with the amount of roles he's taken on. 'I'd hate to think anyone is sick of the sight of me, although I wouldn't blame them. It's just crazy. I've overexposed myself! Actually that sounds a bit dirty,' Benny told Adelaide's The Advertiser. 'I'm proud of every single project. I can genuinely say that it is varied enough, as a slate, to not fear too much overexposure. I just hope the public agree because they are seeing a lot of me.' Benny his very self is undoubtedly hot property at the moment - although perhaps fans of Sherlock would be quick to suggest more of that on our screens wouldn't go amiss. But of course he's a very busy man. Star Trek, Twelve Years A Slave and The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug have all had Cumberbatch's name on the cast list in the last eighteen months. Mind you, so did The Fifth Estate but, since that was such an 'uge flop, nobody tends to mention it. But he seems to be having fun, all the same. His Oscars photobombing of Mr Bonio and his mates in The U2 Group springs to mind. The actor admits: 'It would be really churlish to complain about anything to be honest. I'm very fortunate to be in the position I'm in.' On the subject of Sherlock, the actor says that it's 'always lovely' to return to the role, especially alongside his good friend Martin Freeman. Of preparing for each series Benny adds: 'Physically I do a little swimming and yoga. It sounds funny, but it helps.' And on the future of the ever-popular BBC1 detective drama he adds: 'I genuinely don't know. That's not me trying to be mysterious. None of us know if there will be a fourth, fifth or sixth series.' Well, presumably The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat dies. He knows everything.

Meanwhile, Martin Freeman his very self will play Shakespeare's doomed king Richard III - 'now is the winter of our discontent' and all that - in the West End later this year. Marty will take to the stage at Trafalgar Studios. The play will be directed by Jamie Lloyd, director of the theatre's production last year of Macbeth that starred James McAvoy. This is, obviously, part of a tit-for-tat thing going on between the Sherlock leads as yer actual Benny Cumberbatch announced last week he will be playing Hamlet in London in 2015. Richard III will kick-off the second season of Trafalgar Transformed at the theatre, after the success last year with Macbeth, the Harold Pinter play The Hothouse, starring John Simm and Simon Russell Beale and The Pride, starring Matthew Horne. Marty, of course, first rose to fame playing Tim in Ricky Gervais' comedy The Office but has gone on to star in big budget films such as Peter Jackson's Hobbit series, in which he plays Bilbo Baggins. His stage career includes performances at the Royal Court and the National Theatre in London. Marty will also soon appear in a television adaptation of the Coen brothers' Oscar-winning film Fargo, due to broadcast on US TV this month and on Channel Four in the UK soon after. He plays the role of Lester Nygaard, a small-town insurance salesman based on the character William H Macy played in the film, alongside Billy Bob Thornton and Colin Hanks. Actors who have previously played the lead in Richard III include Kevin Spacey, Sir Laurence Olivier, Mark Rylance, Sir Ian McKellen and Robert Lindsay among many, many others. Oh, and Pater Cook in The Black Adder, obviously.

Hot on the heels of that came the news that yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch has also been cast as Richard III in the BBC's second series of Shakespeare's History Plays. See what this blogger means about a tit-for-tat thing a'tween the two of them? Seriously, lads, just get a room, all right. BBC2 confirmed the news on their Twitter account: 'We're delighted to be able to confirm that Benedict Cumberbatch will play Richard III in our second series of Shakespeare's History Plays.' It added: 'Richard III will be produced by the creative team behind the BAFTA award-winning The Hollow Crown and will be directed by Dominic Cooke.'

The TV comedy line of the week came from Friday night's welcome return of Have I Got News For You to BBC1. It wasn't a vintage episode by any means although guest host Jennifer Saunders' caustic opening remark taking the piss out of Danny Cohen's diktat that there should be no more all-male panel shows on the BBC ('Good evening, I'm The Woman!') was well worth waiting for. However, yer man Ian Hislop was on top form, particularly over the vile and odious rascal Miller's current woes: 'Her attitude was not to answer the question and when they said, you know, "can you turn up the financial details", she prevaricated, avoided the question and refused to answer directly. And, this is the culture secretary ... who's going to tell the press how to behave!' The face he pulled at that moment was worthy of Phil Cool. Or, indeed, the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove.
However, the finest moment of the episode came when this chart graphic was shown and the panel were asked what it represented.
'Is it amount of friends on trial at the moment?' asked Ian.

The end of the second week on the current series of MasterChef on Friday saw Angela, Michael and Wor Davey from the 'heed progress to the semi-final with Sofia and Oliver eliminated.
And, speaking of MasterChef, the popular cookery competition remained on top of the overnight ratings outside of soaps on Thursday. The BBC1 series dipped by around four hundred thousand viewers from Wednesday's episode to finish with 4.3 million at 8pm. Supermarket Secrets - which also featured baldy Gregg Wallace - ended with 3.8m at 9pm, while Question Time - which didn't feature baldy Gregg Wallace - was seen by 2.6m at 10.35pm. It might have got more if it had feature baldy Gregg Wallace, frankly. Saying 'political debate doesn't get any tougher than this.' Or something. On BBC2, Antiques Road Trip appealed to 1.5m at 7pm, followed by Nature's Weirdest Events with 1.7m at 8pm and the second part of the really rather good Kim Philby: His Most Intimate Betrayal with 1.2m at 9pm. ITV's watchword for crass, banal, risible TV-by-numbers, Ade At Sea, was watched by a pitiful 2.4m at 8.30pm, followed by a repeat of It'll Be Alright On The Night with 2.3m at 9pm. Channel Four's Hoarder Next Door gathered 1.3m at 8pm. Fifteen Thousand Kids & Counting had an audience of 1.3m at 9pm, while Jockey School applied the whip to eight hundred and six thousand punters at 10pm. On Channel Five, It Takes A Thief To Catch A Thief brought in seven hundred and eighty nine thousand at 8pm, followed by Hercules The Human Bear with 1.2m at 9pm. Person of Interest garnered six hundred and forty six thousand at 10pm.

Have I Got News For You was Friday's highest-rated primetime show outside of soaps. The returning comedy panel show, which was hosted by Jennifer Saunders, entertained an average of 4.76 million overnight viewers at 9pm. A repeat of Outnumbered attracted 2.98m immediately after, while the new series of The Graham Norton Show rounded off the evening with 3.57m at 10.35pm. BBC1 started the evening with 3.4m for The ONE Show at 7pm, followed by A Question Of Sport with 2.7m at 7.30pm. The latest half-hour quarter-final episode of Masterchef drew 3.45m at 8.30pm. On ITV, Martin Clunes & A Lion Called Mugie was seen by but 2.99m at 9pm. Student Nurses: Bedpans and Bandages interested a mere 2.72m at 8pm on what was, Coronation Street aside, a horrible night for the network. Mastermind was BBC2's highest-rated show of the evening with 2.09m at 8pm. Gardeners' World was seen by 1.95m immediately after. The evening continued with A Very British Renaissance and the long-awaited sequel to The Trip, The Trip To Italy, which attracted six hundred and ninety thousand and 1.22m viewers respectively. Gogglebox once again topped Channel Four's ratings with 2.6m at 9pm. It was followed by 1.61m for Alan Carr: Chatty Man Grand National Special at 10pm, while nine hundred and fifty thousand watched Marvel's Agents of SHIELD at 8pm. The latest episode of Ice Road Truckers entertained six hundred and eighty five thousand at 8pm on Channel Five. The Limbless Mountaineer was watched by four hundred and forty two thousand at 9pm, while NCIS: Los Angeles drew four hundred and sixty nine thousand at 10pm.

The Voice final topped Saturday night overnight ratings with 6.6 million viewers. Just over thirty per cent of the available audience share tuned in from 7pm to see the four finalists battling it out for the show's prize of a recording contract, which was eventually won by's protégé Jermain Jackman. On ITV, Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway also wrapped up its current series, pulling in 5.74m also from 7pm. Back on BBC One, 4.93m watched Kian Egan perform on The National Lottery Live at 9.05pm, followed by long-running medical drama Casualty which pulled in 4.9m. BBC2's Dad's Army entertained 1.67m at 7.30pm, while The Plantagenets was watched by 1.14m at 8pm. Then 1.96m saw all the latest Formula 1 action at the Bahrain Grand Prix practice sessions at 9pm. The Cube attracted 3.33m on ITV at 8.25pm, followed by a repeat episode of Law & Order UK which had an audience of 1.22m at 9.25pm. On Channel Four, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD was seen by three hundred and forty thousand from 7.10pm, followed by Hostages at 8.05pm with half-a-million punters. A showing of Zoe Saldana's Colombiana pulled in 1.07m at 9pm. Earlier in the day, the channel's coverage of the Grand National was watched by 2.7m from 1pm, peaking at 8.06m at around 4.15pm. Channel Five's Longmire grabbed five hundred and seventy two thousand at 7.15pm, while NCIS attracted five hundred and fifty six thousand at 8.05pm. Most Shocking Moments In Pop was watched by a million people with nothing better to do with their time from 9.05pm. On the multichannels, ITV3's Doc Martin was seen by six hundred and thirty one thousand, while BBC4's Inspector De Luca had five hundred and thirty thousand viewers at 9pm.

The BBC will extend the amount of time its programmes are available on its iPlayer video-on-demand service from seven to thirty days after the proposals were approved by the BBC Trust, effectively quadrupling the amount of content on offer. iPlayer, which had a record three billion requests for TV and radio programmes last year, with a top twenty dominated by BBC2's Top Gear, will make the change to its catch-up window in the summer. However, a further change will mean some programmes are actually available for less time, with an end to the 'series stacking' option that enable viewers to download all episodes of a series retrospectively. Diane Coyle, vice chairman of the BBC Trust, said: 'With an average of 10.7 million programme requests every day, BBC iPlayer is highly valued by audiences and has been a phenomenal success since it launched six years ago. It is important that iPlayer continues to evolve and meet the expectations of users. We have conducted a thorough assessment of these proposals, including taking independent advice from Ofcom, and concluded that this is a sensible move that will benefit audiences and provide a clearer and more consistent catch-up service.' In a statement, the BBC said: 'People keep telling us they want programmes to be available on BBC iPlayer for longer – so extending availability from seven to thirty days will make iPlayer even better. New iPlayer already has downloads, better recommendations, HD, live restart, favourites and collections, and extending the catch-up window to thirty days gives people even longer to enjoy their favourite BBC programmes. We will now set about making this happen with the aim to roll this out from the summer.'

Now, somebody in the government has been having a go at the BBC. How astonishing. There must be a 'y' in the day. Once again proving that he knows fuck-all about anything, David Cameron has made the surprising suggestion that the BBC should make more home grown content. Because, of course, he's got nothing better to do with his time than play TV critic. The Prime Minister - who earlier in the same week was standing in the Commons trading insults with the leader of the opposition which, frankly, made the pair of them sound like twelve-year-olds - was answering listener questions in Birmingham on Heart, Capital and Smooth Radio when he was asked about the licence fee. Cameron suggested that value for money is the most important thing, but also claimed that the BBC should try to replicate the US model of long-running series. 'I'm in favour of the licence fee, but I'm in favour of making sure they get good value for money,' Broadcast quotes him as saying. 'I often wonder why is it we make something amazing like The Office and we just make eight episodes. You've got Modern Family and they're churning out series seven or something.' Series five, actually. As with everything David Cameron says, always check for accuracy because more often than not you won't find it. Jeez, and then politicians wonder why the general public almost to a man (or woman) think they're all such frigging pond-scum. This is one of the things that grates this blogger's cheese about Cameron more than just his slimy odious wretcheness; these constant attempts to try and seem 'blokey' and convince us all he's down wid da kidz and a man of the people. Like all of the claims that he was a big fan of The Jam and The Smiths and that he likes football and a pint and watches The X Factor and that. You're not a man of the people Dave, pal, you're an Eton-educated millionaire who is the bloody Prime Minister. Try acting like it for once, fer Christ sake, you might get a lot more respect that way. (Although, I wouldn't bank on it.) Cameron added: 'Let's try and make sure we produce the hits of the future, rather than having to brush up on our Danish and read the subtitles.' So, there you go, dear blog reader, David Cameron seemingly wants to do away with BBC4. That's what he's basically saying since that's the only place where - at present two - imported Danish dramas are shown on the BBC. A spokesperson for the BBC managed to avoid saying 'oh, why the fuck doesn't this arsehole just mind his own business' and, wearily, defended the broadcaster's record against these crass and ignorant knobcheese comments, pointing out: 'With global hits like Doctor Who, Sherlock and Call The Midwife, the vast majority of programming on the BBC is home grown. Imports make up a very, very small percentage of our output.' Perhaps Cameron was getting the BBC confused with Sky whose output is predominantly imported? Maybe he should have a word with his close personal friend, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks to see if she can have a word with her former boss, Sky's major shareholder billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch and get something done about it? Or, maybe not.
Yer actual Victoria Coren Mitchell in her regular column in the Observer has written a beautifully sarky and clever piece about the recent decision to ban prisoners from receiving books as gifts: 'Before Chris Grayling, the justice minister, can fire off an angry letter: I know that prisoners aren't actually banned from reading. They are just banned from receiving books as gifts in the post under the new "incentives and earned privileges" scheme. "And of course it's the kind of thing that left-wing pressure groups hate," says Grayling. Interesting; to many ears, the scheme didn't sound truly evil until he said that.' Indeed. And, one imagines that Oberst-Gruppenführer Grayling (a horrible and odious shiny-heed fraction of an individual at the best of times) will be furiously offended and vexed by such comments, particularly coming from a girl. And that he would probably like to see Victoria her very self given a jolly good smacked bottom for her impertinence before being sent down to Holloway for six months to contemplate the error of her ways in giving cheek to her better. More power t'yer elbow, Vicky. Give the risible balding smear both barrels of your wit gun.

And, speaking of nasty, full-of-their-own-importance, wouldn't-trust-'em-as-far-as-one-can-comfortably-spit Tories, the vile and odious rascal Miller's current woes show little sign of going away any time soon. A Tory MP has attempted to defend a government adviser after claims that she invoked future press regulation to suppress a newspaper's coverage of the lack of culture secretary's expenses. And, totally failed. The Daily Torygraph has released a recording in which the adviser mentions the Leveson Inquiry whilst being asked by a journalist about the vile and odious rascal Miller's expenses claims. But MP Therese Coffey claimed that adviser, Joanna Hindley, was 'just suggesting that [the alleged door-stepping of the vile and odious rascal Miller's parents] was inappropriate.' When, actually, she appeared not to have been suggesting that or anything even remotely like it. The release of the Torygraph's recording, which dates from December 2012, comes at the end of a week in which the vile and odious rascal Miller was told to repay five thousand eight hundred smackers in mortgage interest claims and - grovellingly - apologise to Parliament for failing to co-operate with a parliamentary inquiry. Not that they were suggesting that the vile and odious rascal Miller had fraudulently claimed this money and then lied about it afterwards. Oh no. They didn't suggest that. Not at all. Very hot water. Anyway, in the recording, Hindley is answering a query from a Torygraph reporter when she points out that another reporter from the paper had 'door-stepped' the vile and odious rascal Miller's father, who had just come out of hospital. She goes on to say that the vile and odious rascal Miller had been 'having quite a lot of editors' meetings around Leveson at the moment', before adding, not at all menacingly: 'So I am just going to flag up that connection for you to think about.' In its leader column, the Daily Torygraph claims that referring to the vile and odious rascal Miller's involvement in deciding press legislation was 'in order to convince' the newspaper to 'back away' from getting 'straight answers' was 'an indictment of the influence that press regulation by statute could have over free speech.' It adds: 'If our MPs cannot hold an honest conversation about regulation of their own expenditure, how can we expect them to hold an honest conversation about the maintenance of the free press.' Coffey, who sat on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee between 2010 and 2012, told BBC2's Newsnight on Thursday that she had heard the recording and attempted to excuse its contents by saying she believed the special adviser had been trying to protect the vile and odious rascal Miller's elderly parents from press intrusion. Other people who have also heard the recording - i.e. everybody else - may have an alternative view as to what Hadley was saying, inferring or suggesting. That, dear blog reader, is entirely a matter for you. Coffey said: 'I heard an adviser to the culture secretary suggesting that it's inappropriate to be doorstepping elderly parents of somebody who has just come out of hospital.' Yeah, yeah, tell it to someone who's interested. Earlier David Cameron's official spokesman, Craig Oliver, had to deny claims that he had 'threatened' the former editor of the Torygraph over Leveson in relation to the story. Coffey said: 'The issue about Leveson has been going on for some time, but I have not seen any change in newspapers' attitudes in wanting to publish what they wish.' Freedom of information campaigner Heather Brooke said that the Torygraph reporter who had visited the house had been carrying out 'a public interest piece of reporting.' The paper reported in December 2012 that the vile and odious rascal Miller had claimed ninety grand in expenses towards the mortgage on the South London property where her parents lived, while designating her main home as a rented property in her constituency of Basingstoke. Brooke said that the journalist had 'no choice' but to visit the property to 'establish the facts' of who was living there and that it was 'disingenuous to use this argument of privacy.' It doesn't look like this story is going to go away any time soon, does it? The BBC's political reporter Alan Soady said that the camps in the row were 'developing', with some people suspecting there had been 'some bullying going on' in reaction to scrutiny of the vile and odious rascal Miller's expenses. But he also suggested that 'plenty' of Conservative MPs and others wondered if the ongoing row was the result of newspapers having 'a vendetta' about getting their own back over the vile and odious rascal Miller's role in press regulation after the Leveson Inquiry into press conduct. Meanwhile, e-mails released by the Commons Standards Committee reveal that the vile and odious rascal Miller told Kathryn Hudson, the commissioner investigating her, that the vile and odious rascal Miller might go over Hudson's head to ask MPs to intervene. In one e-mail, the vile and odious rascal Miller said: 'It may be that I shall need to refer this to the supervisory jurisdiction of the standards committee but I hope this can be avoided.' In another, she said that a decision to uphold the complaint would be 'irrational', 'perverse' and 'unreasonable.' The vile and odious rascal Miller currently has Cameron's backing - on Friday he told reporters to 'leave it there' with questions on the vile and odious rascal Miller. But with various strands of the story ongoing, they're obviously not going to do that and her position could depend on how long the resulting furore lasts. Labour seem keen to keep the pressure on and have said that the vile and odious rascal Miller's thirty two seconds of grovelling to the Commons, in which she 'accepted' the committee's findings - not that she could do anything else - and apologised 'unreservedly', was 'contemptuous' in its brevity. Following the inquiry, a Labour backbencher, Thomas Docherty, said that he had written to the Metropolitan Police asking them to investigate the matter further. 'I am not criticising the committee, but there is a difference between what the committee saw and what the commissioner saw,' he said. The commissioner had to spend 'a long time dragging the information out of Maria Miller', he said. 'If one of my constituents had claimed six thousand pounds of taxpayers' money for, say, housing benefit and then tried to claim that it was an oversight, that she hadn't realised that she wasn't entitled to this money, the book would be thrown at my constituent. Rightly. The only way we're going to resolve this, only way we'll get some reassurance for the public, is for the Metropolitan Police to now investigate her. I do not understand why Maria Miller still thinks she has done nothing wrong.' The former editor of the Torygraph, Tony Gallagher, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'Reading the one hundred and thirteen-page report it's very hard to see why she has been cleared. The commissioner in fact concluded that she had made "a very substantial gain" and recommended that she should be paying north of forty thousand pounds, and the language throughout the report is utterly condemnatory of the minister. The fact that the MPs have then marked their own homework and decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and suggested that she should only be made to repay a mere five thousand pounds is neither here nor there - the language of the report is shocking in its tone and I think Maria Miller stands condemned by her own actions.' He also accused the Prime Minister's official spokesman of threatening the Daily Torygraph with tougher press regulation when it was investigating the vile and odious rascal Miller's expenses in 2012. 'I got a call from Craig Oliver pointing out that she is looking at Leveson,' he claimed. 'These seem to be examples of an attempt to lean on a newspaper and prevent it going about its legitimate business,' Gallagher added. Cameron was asked on a visit to Dawlish whether the allegation against his director of communications was true. 'No,' he replied. Oliver, a former BBC executive who began working for Downing Street in 2011 - shortly before his predecessor, Andy Coulson was arrested on phone-hacking charges - said earlier: 'It is utterly false for Tony Gallagher to suggest he was threatened over Leveson by me in any way.' Instead, the intervention had been because reporters working on the story were putting 'inappropriate' pressure on the vile and odious rascal Miller's father, Oliver added. The BBC's political correspondent Carole Walker claimed that most Conservative MPs attributed the backlash in newspapers against the vile and odious rascal Miller to her support for a new system of press regulation underpinned by a royal charter. They hope that she will ride out the storm, Walker added, and think the PM is right to back her. One - anonymous - MP said that this was an attempt at 'payback' by the press. Another - equally anonymous - claimed that 'everybody' in the Commons tearoom saw it in that light. He added that the vile and odious rascal Miller was 'safe' and the papers could 'huff and puff but they are not going to push us around.' Underlying all this is the deep resentment felt by MPs of all parties at the Torygraph's role in the expenses scandal, Walker claimed. Some fear that the vile and odious rascal Miller's case will revive the public perception that they are all 'feathering their own nests.' Some Tory MPs reportedly believe that the vile and odious rascal Miller's thirty two-second apology was 'not well-delivered', however. One, reportedly, told Walker: 'Her demeanour and apology to Parliament did not rank high in the sincerity stakes.' Another allegedly said that she 'could have been more contrite.' Pressure on the vile and odious rascal Miller has been ramped up by a poll suggesting a large majority of voters think she should be dropped from the Cabinet, stripped of her responsibility for press regulation, thrown out of the House of Commons and, possibly, jailed. A Survation poll for the Scum Mail On Sunday found that almost three-quarters of those voters who expressed a preference thought that her thirty two-second apology was inadequate and 'a fucking disgrace' and similar numbers felt Cameron was 'wrong' to offer her his support. This comes a day after a senior minister allegedly told the Torygraph that the vile and odious rascal Miller 'must go' as her behaviour was 'incompatibl'” with being in the Cabinet. The anonymous senior minister, allegedly 'speaking on condition of anonymity', allegedly said: 'In my view she has clearly behaved in a way that is incompatible with what she should be doing as a Cabinet minister. The decision to keep her on undermines the Prime Minister because he has talked about a new kind of politics.' An alleged second anonymous minister, who also allegedly 'did not wish to be named', allegedly said that the vile and odious rascal Miller's special adviser, who had raised the issue of press regulation when questions were asked over her boss's expenses, should also resign.
Rogue tweets poking fun at the vile and odious rascal Miller were apparently posted on an official government Twitter feed on Saturday evening, after the account was, reportedly hacked. Three tweets appeared on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's feed and were quickly deleted, but not before they were widely shared on social media.
The last Monty Python's Flying Circus reunion show at the O2 Arena in London on 20 July will 'probably' be their last performance together, organisers have announced. 'The Pythons had hoped to take up some of the many offers to perform at arenas all over the world,' read a statement. But, it added, 'individual commitments to other projects over the next three years has made this impossible.' Tickets for the performance on 20 July, having been previously held back, went on sale on 4 April and sold out in seconds. The show will conclude a run of ten live concerts in London, available tickets for which were quickly snapped up when they went on sale in November. The reunion will see John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin appear together on stage for the first time since 2009. Only Graham Chapman will be missing from the line-up. Obviously. 'The septuagenarian Pythons are well aware of what these shows mean to their fans,' the statement continued. 'The shows at the O2 promise to be a spectacular celebration of Britain's most iconic and influential comedians.'
Kevin Spacey says that he's 'picky' about the roles he takes on, even when people think he's making strange decisions. 'People thought I was crazy eleven years ago when I moved to London and started a theatre company,' Spacey told The Hollywood Reporter. '"What is he doing? He's out of his mind." People thought we were crazy when we made the Netflix deal for House Of Cards. "They're out of their minds, it'll never work." I'm used to people thinking I'm nuts. And you know what? I kind of love it.' Of course House Of Cards has attracted many viewers to the subscription service. Keith Telly Topping, for one. While viewing figures are a closely guarded secret, many fans around the world are thought to have watched the entire second series in one sitting. A predicted figure of six hundred and sixty thousand in the US in the first weekend alone. You might believe that but, the man behind Frank Underwood couldn't possibly comment. Kevin, however, isn't afraid to turn down roles either. 'Unless it's Martin Scorsese and it's a really significant role, fuck off. I'm not playing someone's brother. I'm not playing the station manager. I'm not playing the FCC chairman,' the actor adds. He appears to have caught the political bug, set to take on the role of Winston Churchill in the film Captain Of The Gate. It will follow the politician during the Second World War, although no details of filming or release date have been confirmed. Nevertheless, Spacey intends to play with the rules of the industry. 'I was already suffering from "He always plays evil guys. He's always the dark character"' be moans. Well, you know, getting yourself cast as Keyser Söze was probably gonna do that for a career, it should be said. What you complaining about, you won an Oscar! 'People love to box us in and I wasn't going to be boxed,' Kev argues. 'I decided I was going to fuck with it.'
Sir Bruce Forsyth is stepping down as the regular weekly host of Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC has confirmed. Brucie said that it was 'the right time to step down from the rigours' of hosting the live show, which celebrates its twelfth series later this year. The eighty six-year-old popular all-round entertainer has co-hosted Strictly since it began in 2004. His replacement is yet to be announced. BBC1's Charlotte Moore paid tribute to Sir Bruce saying that the show's success was 'due in vast amounts to him.' Forsyth will continue to present one-off specials of the show such as The Strictly Christmas Special and the Strictly Children In Need Special. 'After ten wonderful years and eleven series, I believe it is now the right time to step down from the rigours of presenting the Strictly live hows,' said Sir Brucie. He told the BBC News Channel that he would miss the show but would be 'watching intently. I've always said that at the end of last series I was getting that feeling, "Is this the time?"' he revealed. 'I've just been on my three month break in the Caribbean, I've been thinking about it all the time.' He continued: '[Live television] takes its toll when you've been doing it for many years, it's a pressure thing. But I'm not retiring, that's the last thing in the world I want to do. This isn't Brucie walking into the sunset.' Oooo ... talking about yourself in the third person. That's a bad sign. Ask Keith Telly Topping, he knows this only too well. The presenter, who was knighted in 2011, missed a number of shows last series due to illness. He quit the results show in 2010 and was replaced by yer actual Claudia Whatsherface. The results show is recorded immediately after the live show on a Saturday. Sir Bruce said phoning co-presenter Tess Daly to break the news had been 'like a boyfriend breaking up with his girl. She was in tears and started me off a bit. It's sad, I've loved doing it,' he said. 'But there are times when you look at yourself in the mirror and say, "Should you be doing this any longer? That was our biggest series last year that we've ever had so it's a high to go off on.' One of the show's previous contestants, big fat wretched Tory horrorshow (and drag) Anne Widdecombe, told BBC News: 'His particular character and personality went a long way to making the show what it is. It's extremely gruelling stuff and particularly for someone of his age,' she added. 'He's decided to go while he's still ahead and I think that's right.' Sadly, she hasn't had the decency to do the same thing. Charlotte Moore added: 'Sir Bruce Forsyth is one of the great showbiz legends of our time. I am so pleased he will continue to be part of the Strictly family and promise viewers that we haven't seen the last of him on BBC1.' Forsyth first appeared on the BBC on a talent show in 1939 and has been a regular on television for almost sixty years. Strictly Come Dancing - which runs across the autumn - has brought him a new generation of fans but in recent years, he has talked in interviews about how he would like to spend more time abroad to avoid the cold winters in the UK. Len Goodman, head judge on the show, called him 'the driving force' of the show, and praised his 'warm and cuddly' personality. But he agreed that it was a rigorous schedule, particularly for the hosts: 'He's done Strictly for ten years, so he deserves to put his feet up a bit,' he told BBC News. Mark Linsey, the BBC's controller of entertainment commissioning, said: 'One of the joys of my job is working with Sir Bruce Forsyth and long may that continue. He is the all-time master and commander when it comes to Great British entertainers and Strictly owes him such a great deal. This is not a farewell, but you can't blame him for wanting to take things a little bit easier.'

And so to the latest Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 12 April
You've probably seen the trailers for BBC1's new quiz show, The Guess List - 9:30. Looks bloody wretched, doesn't it? Rob Brydon - who is capable of so much more than risible nonsense as this - takes the helm for this game show which, completely without apology, plays like an updated version of Blankety Blank. Two contestants on the left, two tiers of z-list celebrity helpers - one of whom is unfunny lard bucket (and drag) James Corden - on the right and the host flitting from one side to the other as he keeps it all together, quizzing the alleged 'famous' faces on possible answers to everyday questions. Yep, it's Blankety Blank, basically. It's then up to the players to pick their favourite or come up with their own choice, with the highest-scorer heading through to the final round where, if they get that answer right, a specially selected prize awaits them. The opening line-up of 'famous faces' apart from the odious Corden include Jennifer Saunders, Emilia Fox, Louis Smith and Simon Callow. Shame on the lot of you for prostituting yourself and crap the likes of this rubbish. Shame.

Ant and/or Dec return with a fresh search for the nation's brightest new star in Britain's Got Toilets - 7:15 ITV. There's also a new addition to the judges' desk in the form of the golden buzzer, which gives Wee Shughie McFee the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads, smug David Walliams, waste-of-space Amanda Holden and odious talentless greed bucket (and drag) Alesha Dixon the power to send an act straight through to the live semi-finals regardless of their fellow panellists' opinions. However, they can each press it only once during the series. Otherwise, the button explodes and they will be killed. No, not really but we can dream. Dreaming, as Blondie once said, is free. They had talent. Leaving no stone unturned, the auditions visit London, Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham and, for the first time, Belfast, as a wide variety of acts, from comedians to contortionists, singers to spoon players, compete for the chance to win two hundred and fifty thousand smackers and a slot at this year's Royal Variety Performance. And, probably, to be featured in an episode of Didn't You Used To be Famous For Five Minutes? in 2017. Come on Britain, we're better than this.

Tonight, we reach the climax of the opening series of the best TV drama produced so far in 2014, True Detective - 9:00 Sky Atlantic. It's been a wild and bumpy ride and, if you've stuck with it thus far, prepare yourself for a rip-roaring rollercoaster of a conclusion. As the former partners, Marty and Rust go back over the case files of the Dora Lange murder, a witness's description of a green-eared figure gives the pair new impetus when Marty Hart makes a previously unconsidered connection. After following the lead, the pair head out to a remote house deep in the bayou, where they finally encounter the scarred man they have been hunting. But, he flees into a labyrinthine structure - with Rust Cohle in hot pursuit. Stunning crime drama, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

Drama's repeat run of the excellent Waking The Dead - 9:00 - reaches series six and one of the popular long-running crime drama's daftest (but, most intriguing) stories, Deus Ex Machina. In this, a Sudanese politician vows to go on hunger strike - by sewing his lips together - until Britain returns the skull of an important Nineteenth-Century ruler of his country, the Mardi. Searching for the article proves to be something of a needle in a haystack although it does draw Peter Boyd and his team's attention to a rather curious drinking club. Meanwhile, Boyd is also asked to re-open the case of an Iraqi shopkeeper who was murdered in front of his daughter twenty years ago despite the fact that a man has just been hanged in Iraq after confessing to the crime. A tip-off from a Foreign Office official gives the team a lead - and, as it probes further, it seems that the two investigations are almost certainly connected. Trevor Eve, Sue Johnston and Tara FitzGerald star, as usual, with guest appearances from Polly Walker, Alex Jennings, Lisa Jackson and Houda Echouafni. Keep your eyes open, also, for a properly wonderful turn - in one of his final roles - by the late Graham Crowden.

Sunday 13 April
The Crimson Field - 9:00 BBC1 - the drama following the doctors, nurses and helpers in a French First World War field hospital continues. Volunteer Kitty tries to avoid her own problems by throwing herself into work at the hospital, helping patients including Major Crecy, who wakes from the brink of death to the tragic news that his troops have been virtually wiped out. Now traumatised, he fears he will never be able to return to his old life. Meanwhile, the staff prepares for an influx of new arrivals, but resources are already stretched to the limit, so Joan sees it as an opportunity for the volunteers' skills to be put to good use. However, Sister Margaret disagrees with the forward-thinking nurse and wastes no time telling her so. Starring Oona Chaplin, Hermione Norris, Suranne Jones, Kerry Fox, Kevin Doyle, Rupert Graves and Alice St Clair.

A housewife found choked to death in her own home marks the third strangulation in a month, setting Oxford police on edge in the latest episode of Endeavour - 8:00 ITV. is it the work of a serial killer? No, of course, not, the term serial killer hadn't even been invented in 1966. Anyway, as a manhunt begins in search of a murderer targeting married women, Endeavour Morse looks into the origin of the silk stocking used to choke the latest victim, tracing the garment to its sole supplier in the city. However, as the suspect list narrows and the culprit stalks his prey with increasing desperation, Morse and Thursday find their private lives turned upside down and miss a deeper tragedy unfolding. Shaun Evans, Roger Allam, Anton Lesser, James Bradshaw, Jack Laskey and Sean Rigby star, with guest appearances by Gina Bramhill, Rob Jarvis, Cecile Paoli, Adrian Schiller and Sara Vickers.

'When you play the Game Of Thrones,' Cersei Lannister once warned, 'you win or you die.' The first episode of series four of the fantasy drama based on George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels shows what happens after you win - 9:00 Sky Atlantic. The Lannisters have defeated their great rival family: the only Starks left are tiny wee children with very sharp swords; Cersei and Jaime are reunited (although all is not well with the twin-cestuous couple) and Tyrion is back having petty humiliations heaped on his head. he receives a guest at King's Landing and Jon Snow finds himself unwelcome at Castle Black. Daenerys heads toward the slave city of Meereen, and Arya runs into an old friend. Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Charles Dance, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Jack Gleeson, Aidan Gillen, Sophie Turner, Natalie Dormer, Jerome Flynn, Rory McCann, Stephen Dillane, Liam Cunningham, Iain Glen et al star.

Chris Lintott and Maggie Aderin-Pocock turn their attentions to Mars, our closest neighbouring planet, which this month will appear brighter than it has done for several years in the latest The Sky At Night - 10:00 BBC4. The presenters consider how Mars might once have been as inviting and habitable as Earth, before geologist Iain Stewart tells the story of the planet's extraordinary past. Plus, Maggie encounters the latest Mars rover, and Chris meets the man whose discovery altered the established history of the universe.

Monday 14 April
In Treasure Hunters - 9:00 BBC1 - the second of two programme focuses on man-made treasures. Dallas Campbell dives to a shipwreck where five thousand emeralds have been found, hunts for a treasure chest hidden in the Rocky Mountains and comes face to face with China's Terracotta Army. Ellie Harrison enters a jewelled room in Russia decorated with millions of pounds' worth of amber, meets diamond-cutters who know a single slip of the hand could be costly and travels to Egypt, where she stares at Tutankhamun's death mask, one of the most famous golden images on the planet.

The position of church treasurer is vacant and Adam has found the ideal candidate to turn St Saviour's dire finances around - but there is a problem as the man has a conviction for viewing images of child abuse online in the latest episode of Rev - 10:00 BBC2. Meanwhile, the vicar's own transgressions come back to haunt him and he ends up sleeping on Nigel's sofa and at Colin's hostel. Comedy, guest starring Nick Sidi alongside the regulars Tom Hollander, Olivia Colman, Miles Jupp and Simon McBurney.
Tonight also sees the return of Only Connect - 8:30 BBC4 - the quiz sees a family pit their wits against three museum enthusiasts to make connections between things that initially do not appear to be linked. Victoria Coren Mitchell hosts.

Tuesday 15 April
In The Big Allotment Challenge - 8:00 BBC2 - Fern Britton presents a contest in which nine pairs of gardeners have their skills put to the test as they attempt to produce high-quality fruit, vegetables and flowers, and are also challenged to produce jams, chutneys, cordials, pickles and jellies. Honestly, I'm not making this up - this isn't a sister show of W1A's Britain's Tastiest Village. They begin by having to present three matching radishes and seven perfect spikes of sweet peas, before they face a timed flower-arranging task and finish by making fruit jam and curd using ingredients from their allotment. Royal Horticultural Society judge Jim Buttress, floral designer Jonathan Moseley and food writer Thane Prince give their verdicts on their efforts and decide which of the teams will be first to leave the competition. Sounds ... unique.

Time is running out for Perez and Tosh as their prime suspect lies critically ill in hospital, but it's unclear whether the fire that put him there was a drunken accident or if he was the second victim of Anna's real killer in the last of the current series of Shetland - 9:00 BBC1. The Detective Inspector turns his attention to Finlay Caulfield regarding the photos of Anna on his camera, and while it becomes clear he was obsessed with her, it may not be enough to charge the stalker with her murder. There are still so many unanswered questions - until Sandy spots something on the CCTV footage that takes the investigation in a new direction. Douglas Henshall stars, with John Lynch, Bill Paterson, David Ireland, Alison O'Donnell and Steven Robertson.

In Twin Towns - 9:00 Sky 1 - families from the UK and America swap lives for a week, staying in each other's homes and experiencing each other's jobs, social lives and schooling as they discover what really goes on in their twin towns. First up are Edinburgh residents Craig and Debbie Stephens. Keen singers who have already appeared on Britain's Got Toilets, the couple have now set their sights on breaking the USA, so they head to Edinburgh's twin town of San Diego, while their hosts, the more laid-back Fish-Taylor clan, enjoy the sights and sounds of Scotland. This, dear blog reader, is television in the Twenty First Century. Pass the Valium. Pass out.
Wednesday 16 April
The second episode of Ian Hislop's Olden Days: The Power of the Past in Britain - 9:00 BBC2 - sees the satirist examine Britain during the Industrial Revolution and Victorian era, when writers, artists and politicians tried to make sense of the changing world by seeking inspiration from the Middle Ages. Novelist Walter Scott's tales of gallant heroes and knights in armour in his books Waverley and Ivanhoe brought him huge fame and success, while dissatisfied workers formed an ancient-style band of brothers to protest against industrialisation, calling themselves The Luddites. The Houses of Parliament were rebuilt in a medieval Gothic style and Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli led a government that improved living and working conditions for millions by harking back to the values of the past.

A blood-spattered hotel room and a stolen credit card lead Ronnie and Joe to Charles Hutton, a member of the wealthy upper classes who dotes on his wife Camille and daughter Georgia in Law & Order: UK - 9:00 ITV. The detectives find clues that suggest Georgia gave birth at the scene, but where is the baby now? The young woman and her boyfriend Rufus prove difficult for Jake and Kate to prosecute, and to make matters worse, the defence counsel turns out to be an old nemesis of Jake's. As the evidence stacks up, how far will Charles go to protect his privileged family? Guest starring James Wilby and Joseph Millson with Bradley Walsh, Ben Bailey Smith, Paterson Joseph, Georgia Taylor and Peter Davison.

The latest Timewatch - 9:00 BBC4 - features a documentary about the notorious American outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. With unprecedented access to gang members' memoirs, family archives and recently released police records, Timewatch searches for the true story of the couple and their mob. While Hollywood portrayed the pair as the most glamorous outlaws in American history, the reality of life on the run was one of violence, hardship and danger. Narrated by Michael Praed.
John Torode and Gregg Wallace present the fourth heat in this year's MasterChef - 8:00 BBC1. The six hopefuls begin by dishing up their calling card, a single plate of food that represents who they are. Watch out for any comments made by contestants which suggests that they have a very high opinion of themselves. They've almost certainly been included by the production team so that viewers can laugh like a drain when the same contestant produces a dish which is, frankly, not much cop and get eliminated in the first round. This is followed by the invention test, in which they prepare a dish in one hour from a choice of two sets of surprise ingredients. After two cooks are sent home, the rest prepare dinner for 2009 MasterChef winner Mat Follas and Tom Rennolds and Daksha Mistry, finalists from 2012 and 2006 respectively. It's then down to the judges to decide which two will advance to Friday's quarter-final.

Thursday 17 April
Harold Shipman - 9:00 Channel Five - is, as you might expect from the title, a dramatised documentary analysing the crimes of the eponymous serial killer, the doctor believed to be responsible for the deaths of an estimated two hundred and fifty people. The first episode of this two-part programme looks at what drove Shipman to kill over a period of almost thirty years, examining his early school days as a model pupil up to his time as a junior doctor in Pontefract Hospital. Featuring interviews with Margaret Sivorn, who worked with him in Pontefract, and consultant forensic psychiatrist Richard Badcock, who was the only psychiatrist to assess Shipman.

Having been such a critical hit on BBC3 a few weeks ago, tonight sees the start of a timely repeat of Ben Anthony's worthy Life & Death Row - 10:35 BBC1. A look at capital punishment through the eyes of young people whose lives have been shaped by it, including interviews with victims, those on death row itself and their families. Each episode focuses on a key aspect of the system - execution, trial and appeal - beginning with the stories of two of the youngest men facing death in Texas, who are due to be executed. Both have been found guilty of murder and, while the mother of one fights to use the final seventy two hours to halt her son's execution for killing a police officer, a woman who was kidnapped by the other reflects on her ordeal and battles with her conflicting desires to forgive him.

Intelligence - 9:00 Sky1 - is an action thriller about a government agent who has a super-computer microchip implanted in his brain, which makes him America's most valuable piece of technology and their biggest secret weapon, as he is not only instantly connected to the Internet, phone and satellite networks, but is also capable of hacking into any data centre within the blink of an eye. However, he is also reckless and insubordinate, so Cyber Command hires a Secret Service agent to keep their expensive investment safe. Things get personal in the first of a double bill when the professor who created the microchip is kidnapped - which could be disastrous if the top-secret technology falls into the wrong hands. Lost's Josh Holloway stars, with Meghan Ory, Marg Helgenberger and John Billingsley. Followed, immediately, by episode two.

Friday 18 April
What's so good about Good Friday I hear you ask, dear blog reader? Yer actual Keith Telly Topping will tell you. Yer man Jezza Clarkson is in the driving seat of tonight's Have I Got News For You - 9:00 - that's pretty good. Expect, therefore, some crass and ignorant whinging about this from a variety of middle-class hippy Communist lice at the Gruniad Morning Star and some jack-booted bully-boy thugs at the Daily Scum Mail. Fortunately, nobody that actually matters gives an effing stuff what they think. Team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton take pot-shots at the week's silliest news stories, with the help of celebrity panellists including the comedian Henning Wehn. Don't mention the war, Jezza.
In the third episode of The Trip To Italy - 10:00 BBC2 - Steve and Rob visit Viareggio in Tuscany, where the poet Percy Shelley's body was washed ashore after he drowned, and have lunch at Trattoria Albana in Mazzolla. Later, Rob gets a phone call from his agent about a potential part in a film. Partly improvised comedy starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.
Liz teams up with Ressler to uncover Tom's secrets, while Red's latest target is a life insurance adjuster who is also a master of persuasion in the latest episode of The Blacklist - 9:00 Sky Atlantic. The man uses his position to convince ordinary people to become contract killers. James Spader and Megan Boone star in the US drama.

And, so to the news: BBC1's Atlantis has begun filming its second series. The cast of the family fantasy show have reunited to start shooting the next run in Chepstow. Aiysha Hart, who appears as Ariadne and Juliet Stevenson, who plays The Oracle, are among the old faces to return, while series two will also welcome new additions Vincent Regan as Dion and Amy Manson as Medea. The great Robert Pugh and Broadchurch actor Peter De Jersey have been confirmed as guest stars for episode one of the new run. The show's creators Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy said: 'It's wonderful to have everyone back in the studio together as we prepare to take Atlantis to new places in series two. We have some exciting new additions joining our exceptional cast and some surprises up our sleeve that we can't wait to unleash on the Atlantis audience later this year.' Well, presumably, one of the two of them said that. Unless, of course, they spoke simultaneously like some form of gestalt entity. But, that would just be weird. The drama was renewed for a second series in October, with BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore describing the show an 'original British drama with the kind of scale and ambition that we've come to expect from the cinema.'

US sitcom Big Bang Theory has teamed up with Lucasfilm to create a special, Star Wars-themed episode. The Proton Transmogrification will follow the series' socially-challenged cast as they celebrate Star Wars Day. It will feature scenes set in Dagobah, a harsh, swampy planet which served as the location for Yoda's exile in The Empire Strikes Back. Lucasfilm has helped recreate the location, as well as providing Star Wars props, including a light-saber. The episode will also star EMMY-award winning comedian Bob Newhart, in his recurring role as Professor Proton - an embittered TV star from the 1960s. The character, usually a reluctant mentor to chief geek Sheldon Cooper (played by Jim Parsons), will appear as a Jedi in the one-off episode. It will be broadcast in the US on 1 May to coincide with Star Wars Day on 4 May. 'We were approached by the Lucasfilm people to do something to celebrate Star Wars Day, which was nice,' the show's co-creator Chuck Lorre told The Hollywood Reporter. Showrunner Steve Molaro added: 'We knew that Bob was coming back and Lucasfilm called us and we realised that this might be an opportunity to mix both stories and come up with something special.' The series often incorporates science-fiction references and in-jokes, and Star Wars actors Carrie Fisher and James Earl Jones have both filmed cameos. The show has also poked fun at the endless tinkering with the original Star Wars trilogy. In one episode, the cast are intending to watch the series on Blu-Ray, when one of them notes: 'If we don't start soon, George Lucas is going to change it again!' In the UK, the Star Wars Day episode will be seen on E4 - which is currently showing Big Bang Theory approximately twelve weeks behind the US transmission dates.

Tom Hardy has signed up for a new BBC1 drama entitled Taboo. The eight-episode Nineteenth Century drama will see Tom reunite with Locke's Steven Knight, while Ridley Scott will executive produce. Taboo will be set in 1813, and is centred around an adventurer who returns to England from Africa along with fourteen stolen diamonds, while seeking revenge over the death of his father. He refuses to sell the family business to the East India Company and aims to build his own trade empire, before finding himself involved in a battle between Britain and America. Scott Free London and Hardy Son & Baker will produce the project for BBC1 and Sonar Entertainment, who will distribute the series internationally. 'We're creating a flagship British drama for this generation,' said Hardy, adding that the show is a 'hybrid of orthodox and unconventional storytelling, packed with darkness and spirited characters.' He added: 'I think Steve Knight and Ridley Scott are the perfect partners and the BBC the perfect home for this hugely exciting and compelling project.' Scott said: 'This is a period in British history where the rising power of the Empire seeped into every dark corner.' Knight added that the main character is 'a deeply flawed and deeply troubled human being', describing the East India Company throughout the Nineteenth Century as 'the equivalent of the CIA, the NSA and the biggest, baddest multi-national corporation on Earth, all rolled into one self righteous, religiously-motivated monolith.' Taboo will be the third project partnering Tom and Knight, who have previously worked on the movie Locke and the upcoming second series of Peaky Blinders. BBC Drama commissioning controller Ben Stephenson said: 'Following on from Steven Knight and Tom Hardy's collaboration in series two of Peaky Blinders, I am thrilled that they are reunited alongside Ridley Scott to produce an ambitious drama series for BBC1. This is a major and ambitious undertaking for the BBC, reinforcing our commitment to be the best home for creative talent.' Taboo is based on an original story by Tom and his father, Chips Hardy. The series is expected to begin shooting in January 2015.

A rarely seen live performance from Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise is to be broadcast on Channel Five this month. The comedy duo's 1973 performance Morecambe & Wise Live! will be screened as part of an evening of programming celebrating Britain's greatest double acts. The show sees Eric and Ernie perform some of their best-loved comedy sketches in front of a live audience at Fairfield Halls, Croydon. Accompanied by an orchestra, the pair close the show - which was organised by their long time agent, Billy Marsh, and has rarely been seen in its entirety - with a rendition of their theme-tune 'Bring Me Sunshine'. Morecambe & Wise Live! will be shown on Saturday 12 April at 10.10pm on Channel Fove.

Sandi Toksvig has said that she was 'completely overwhelmed' to be made an OBE by the Prince of Wales. Toksvig, who presents BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz, received her award in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. BBC News cameraman Darren Conway was also made an OBE and journalist Katharine Whitehorn was made a CBE. Conway said that his job was about 'giving a voice to others' which made the personal honour seem 'a little out of the ordinary'. Toksvig reportedly asked Prince Charles if he wanted to do a 'guest spot' on The News Quiz, as he presented her with her medal. After the investiture, she said: 'I have spent too long making jokes to think that anybody would think that is worth rewarding - so I was honestly completely overwhelmed.' Danish-born Toksvig renewed her vows with her civil partner last weekend at an event to celebrate same-sex marriage. She added: 'It has been a heck of a week.' Conway, who has worked in Syria, was named camera operator of the year at the Royal Television Society awards in February. Judges described him as 'the outstanding news cameraman of his generation.' He said of his OBE: 'We work in a field where so many people make it happen, so to single out one person is a bit hard to comprehend. The main thing about what we do in this career is that it is not about us. Our entire reason for doing our job is about giving a voice to others, so having something focused on yourself is a little out of the ordinary. If you think about how many people in our field have risked everything for their job - they have lost their lives, have been disappeared or have not come back - I hope it is a good recognition for all of them and not just me.' Whitehorn, eighty six, who writes for the Observer, said she had originally turned down an OBE half-a-century ago - because it was not for journalism. She said: 'I was being given it for being on a government committee and I thought that, as an honest hack, it would look as if I had sold out. I thought it is all right for worthy old crones, but now I am a worthy old crone. I am now being given it for my life's work and that is fine. It was not appropriate then, but now it is.'

David Letterman, the current grandfather of American late night television, is retiring from The Late Show in 2015. Letterman made the announcement during a taping of his show at The Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City on Thursday. 'What this means now, is that Paul and I can be married,' Letterman joked, referring to his long time bandleader and sidekick Paul Shaffer. 'We don't have the timetable for this precisely down – I think it will be at least a year or so, but sometime in the not too distant future. 2015 for the love of God, in fact, Paul and I will be wrapping things up,' Letterman said. 'The man who owns this network, Leslie Moonves, he and I have had a relationship for years and years and years and we have had this conversation in the past. We agreed that we would work together on this circumstance and the timing of this circumstance,' Letterman said during the taping. 'And I phoned him just before the programme, and I said "Leslie, it's been great, you've been great, and the network has been great, but I'm retiring."' Letterman has consistently ranked second in the late-night ratings since ABC moved comedian Jimmy Kimmel into a directly competing slot in January 2013. Both Letterman and Kimmel regularly attract between 2.6 and 2.8m viewers, but Kimmel has proven more successful at drawing the younger viewers valued most by advertisers. In February, long time rival Jay Leno turned over The Tonight Show to current host Jimmy Fallon. Fallon's show has been far and away the leader across all age groups, with 4.3m viewers for the last week of March. Letterman started his career in Indiana and made his first move to evening chat shows with Late Night with David Letterman, which debuted in February 1982. He was thought to be the forerunner for The Tonight Show after Johnny Carson retired in 1992. However, the job was given to Leno. Letterman ended his relationship with NBC and moved to CBS to host The Late Show With David Letterman. In his thirty two-year career, Letterman has appeared on nearly six thousand episodes of the two shows and won numerous awards, including eight EMMYs and a Peabody. He became a Kennedy Center honoree in 2012. Letterman was at the centre of an extortion scandal in 2009 after CBS producer reportedly Robert Joel Halderman demanded two million dollars to keep quiet about Letterman’s multiple affairs with employees of his production company, Worldwide Pants. Halderman received a fake two million dollar cheque from Letterman, went to work and was then extremely arrested after leaving his office at CBS News. 'Would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Perhaps it would, especially for the women,' Letterman said during a monologue where he detailed the incident. In January 2000, Letterman had quintuple bypass heart surgery and took a hiatus from the show. 'When Dave decided on a one-year extension for his most recent contract, we knew this day was getting closer, but that doesn't make the moment any less poignant for us,' Moonves said in a statement.
The News International security worker who took possession of the black bin bags allegedly containing millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks' porn stash and his computer, did not make a record of the deposit, the Old Bailey has heard. Marva Ingram worked as an administrator at News International's headquarters in Thomas More Square in Wapping and was on duty the day former News International chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks was extremely arrested in July 2011. Giving evidence in the phone-hacking trial on Friday, Ingram said that she 'recalled' getting a call from News International's head of security, Mark Hanna, to tell her that he was coming to the office with 'an item.' Hanna, who denies perverting the course of justice, has admitted leaving a brown satchel, a Jiffy bag full of 'lesbian porn' and a broken Sony Vaio laptop belonging to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks's husband millionaire Old Etonian Charlie at News International's HQ on 17 July 2011. Both Hanna and millionaire Old Etonian Brooks have denied that this was 'part of a cover-up.' Ingram recalled that Hanna parked on Thomas More Street at the entrance to the building and she remembered bringing out two black bin liners and a roll of Sellotape to him. She recalled a bag, which could have been 'a rucksack', being put into the bin bag. 'He sealed the mouth of the bags and I took it back to my work station,' said Ingram. 'I kept it with me. I had a desk where I work. It was under the desk.' Hanna told her 'someone' would collect the bags and would mention his name. When nobody had done so by the end of her shift, she called Hanna and he told her to give it to the next shift. She told jurors under cross-examination that she had not given a police statement. She said that she had been phoned by a police officer and told them that Hanna was 'a fair but strict boss.' She said: 'I got a call from [a police officer] and he asked me what I thought about [Hanna].' Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC, put it to her that she didn't make a statement, she replied: 'I had a phone call.' Earlier in the week, jurors heard Hanna claimed he 'believed' he had the bag placed in lost and found property area at News International. Edis asked on Friday if Ingram was asked to put the property in lost and found. She replied that she was not. 'Did you log it?' Edis asked. 'No, I didn't,' Ingram replied. 'Did he ask you to log it?' Edis continued. 'No he didn't,' Ingram claimed. Ingram said that she did not make the connection between the phone-hacking trial and that day in 2011 until she saw footage on TV about two months ago. 'Mark was in a garage and a gentleman had a bag and I just thought is that the black bag I had?' She 'did not recall' whom she had spoken to about the bag when she left work that day, but 'mentioned it' to the night shift, which involved four workers. Hanna has denied perverting the course of justice by concealing potential evidence from police investigating well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks. The trial adjourned early on Friday because of 'delays with defendants.' The judge told the jury that Clive Goodman, the Scum of the World's former royal editor, was still not well enough to resume giving evidence on Monday. The trial continues.
The BBC's former HR boss, Lucy Adams, who was hugely criticised for her role in the corporation's multimillion pay-off scandal - 'Greedgate' - has hit out at the UK media for portraying women as 'either incompetent, hard ball-breaking bitches or just one up from a hooker.' Which is a bit unfair, frankly, as the press didn't portray all women in that way. Just Adams herself. Adams, who was involved in the negotiation of big-money severance payments to BBC executives including the one million smackers given to former deputy Director General Mark Byford, was nicknamed 'Lipgloss Lucy' by some sections of the media. She said that the BBC 'should have done more' to put across 'alternative views' during the severance payments row last year and claimed that she had proposed a cap for senior redundancy packages in 2011 but it had not been accepted. Adams, who was also pictured in one newspaper in her bikini during the height of the scandal, said that the way she was portrayed was 'unfortunately symptomatic of the era that we're in. A senior woman in any crisis like this has got to accept that they are going to be the ones that are focused on,' she told HR Grapevine magazine. Which, again, seems a trifle unfair. Not 'women', Lucy, just you. 'I think it's unfortunate that the UK media in particular has an idea of women and they're usually portrayed as either incompetent, hard ball-breaking bitches or just one up from a hooker. And I seemed to get a bit of all three of those - but you kind of have to ride it. Try not to take it too personally. I wasn't overly thrilled with the picture of me in a bikini, that wasn't great, particularly when some of the guys in my team had real fun with that.' Adams, who left the BBC last month, added: 'What fascinated me was that a lot of the comments that were written about me in terms of what I look like and so on were written by female journalists. I would really love to see more and more female journalists actually challenging this and writing perhaps slightly more nuanced and intelligent pieces around women and disregarding what they look like.' Adams, who was paid three hundred and thirty two thousand nine hundred smackers for her role as the BBC's director of human resources, a job she held for five years, said: 'As a senior person you get paid good money and it's your job to stand up and take the flack when things aren't going well, so I'm not feeling sorry for myself.' Although, frankly, that sounds exactly like what she's doing. And, we're supposed to, what? Feel sorry for her? I think that ship might've said when it was revealed that she was on three hundred grand a year, to be honest. 'A lot of people wrote to me at the time and said they felt that the press reaction had been perhaps on the more extreme end,' Adams claimed. 'I don't know whether that's true or not. It certainly felt quite intense for a period of time. It's very difficult when you're going through it. You're obviously on the receiving end of a huge amount of hostility and it can get very, very personal.' Adams suffered weeks of criticism over her role in signing off lucrative severance payments to senior managers in a storm that saw former BBC Director General Mark Thompson at loggerheads with BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten. The lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Miller described it as 'an annus horribilis' for the BBC. Something the vile and odious rascal Miller knows all about given the caning she's currently getting over her expenses. Adams appeared twice before MPs during the scandal with one, the Tory MP Stewart Jackson, arguing that her account should be taken 'with a pinch of salt' after she changed her evidence whilst another MP described the benefits afforded to some top staff as 'corporate fraud and cronyism.' At one point during Adams' evidence, Margaret Hodge the committee chair told Adams: 'I'm not having any more lies this afternoon.' Adams said that the public were 'angry and had a right to be concerned' about the pay-offs. 'There was a large amount of money being paid out to quite a number of individuals,' she said. 'What I regret is that I think in the media storm and the public outrage that followed, there didn't seem to be a lot of balance in the debate and I do regret that we didn't get some of the alternative views out there. I think we could have pushed harder, we could've challenged harder, we could've done things differently and I absolutely get that, but in the end we saved the BBC twenty million pounds a year and we'll go on saving that twenty million pounds year-on-year.' Current BBC Director General Tony Hall imposed a new one hundred and fifty grand redundancy cap on senior executives last year. Adams said: 'I proposed that we reduce terms and conditions for redundancy for high earners back in 2011. And I probably could have pushed harder on that because it wasn't accepted at the time. Sometimes you need a crisis to drive these things through.'
The setting for BBC's Waterloo Road, the former Greenock Academy building in Renfrewshire, is to be demolished. The show's cancellation, announced earlier this week, has led to the green light for the one hundred and sixty-year-old school site to be 're-purposed' and sold off by the council for redevelopment. According to the Greenock Telegraph, the building - which closed to the public in 2011 - has had a stay of execution over the last two years after the BBC1 drama moved from its former home in Rochdale and began filming at the location from January 2012. The final episodes of the tenth series, which are due to be broadcast next year, are expected to wrap in May. Two months of demolition work are then scheduled to begin in September 2015 at an estimated cost of one hundred and sixty four thousand knicker. 'I would like to thank everyone involved with Waterloo Road - cast, crew and production team - for their faith in Greenock and their commitment to Inverclyde over the past couple of years,' said Inverclyde council leader Stephen McCabe. 'The fact the programme was extended from fifty hours to seventy hours reflects extremely well on the reception and co-operation the show has enjoyed here, and I know a great many local people and businesses have benefited from the experience. It has also been a wonderful opportunity to showcase the area to a national audience and to other programme makers looking for locations.' Waterloo Road was first broadcast in 2006, and over the course of eight years has been successfully exported to countries including Spain, Australia and Estonia.

Kate Winslet says that she wishes she had been 'given more support' to 'help her cope with the pressures' of early fame. And, again, we're supposed to, what? Feel sorry for her? The Oscar-winning actress admitted that her experience of Hollywood had been 'one shock after another.' And, lots of money. Obviously. 'It isn't easy going through that level of exposure so quickly,' she whinged to the BBC News website. Winslet's latest film role sees her playing the villain Jeanine Matthews in the dystopian SF film Divergent. The film, based on the best-selling novel by Veronica Roth, stars Shailene Woodley as the young heroine, Tris Prior. Set in futuristic Chicago, the story imagines a society divided into five factions. Those who don't fit in - the titular divergents - are seen as a threat to the system and chastised as a consequence. Winslet made her breakthrough film debut - aged seventeen - in 1994's Heavenly Creatures. After roles in Sense and Sensibility, Jude and Hamlet, she shot to global stardom in James Cameron's 1997 disaster epic Titanic. Speaking to the BBC on Wednesday, Winslet said that she would have been 'really terrified' if she had known then what she knows now about the film industry. 'What I do wish is that I had had more support going through those early days. It's genuinely difficult,' she whinged. 'I was living in my lovely little two-bedroom flat in North London and, suddenly, I couldn't just walk down the street and buy a pint of milk.' Oh, the tragedy. She added: 'With things changing overnight, I wish I had known people who could have said "this is what's going to happen." I wish I'd known more people who had actually gone through that. It's a shocker, that one. It's like having fifty five babies naturally in quick succession.' Women who have had fifty five babies in quick succession may beg to differ over this. Winslet, thirty eight, who won an Oscar for her role in 2008's The Reader (and then, infamously, blubbed like a girl at the ceremony), said that she thought twenty two-year-old Woodley would cope well with her own fame. 'She's had much more experience of working as an actress than I had had when I became famous. She lives in California so her experience of the Hollywood machine is much more day-to-day present for her - for me it was just one shock after another. She's a very graceful, gracious humble person and she's very settled in herself probably more than I was when I was going through it. She's going to be just fine.' Gosh, That's such a relief.
The US embassy in London has said that it is 'inviting' celebrity chef Nigella Lawson to apply for a working visa. It comes after claims that Lawson - she has her knockers - was reportedly refused permission to board a flight to America last weekend due to recent publicity about her past, alleged, drug taking. A spokesperson for the embassy said they believe there had been what they described as 'a turnaround' when Lawson attempted to fly to the States. They added: 'There are several ways of legally travelling into the US.' Not taking drugs being one of them. Obviously. The fifty four-year-old's management refused to comment on what had happened when approached by several newspapers. The Daily Scum Mail reported a - nosey and intrusive - alleged 'eye-witness account' which snitched that Lawson had been turned away from a flight from Heathrow to Los Angeles. The embassy would not confirm whether this was related to Lawson's recent UK court appearance, where she admitted that she had taken cocaine and cannabis in the past. The presenter of Channel Four's The Taste, has been to the US at least once since the court appearance to promote the American version of the programme. The embassy statement read: 'There are several ways of legally travelling into the United States. Ms Lawson has been invited to come to the embassy and apply for a visa for travel to the US. We understand she has professional requirements for US travel. These matters are generally handled routinely and expeditiously, so stand by.'

ITV has announced that it is shutting its pay-per-view rentals service on ITV Player. Premium rentals will no longer be offered from 31 July and customers will be given a month to watch content purchased previously. A spokesperson for the broadcaster said that pay-per-view programming is being scrapped because it has 'not proven as popular' as subscription-based products during trials. 'Having trialled a number of direct-to-consumer options, we have taken the decision to not continue to offer rentals on ITV Player. ITV will continue to explore the best ways to get our content to our viewers, via free and pay routes,' said the broadcaster. 'We have seen real success from our pay business, which is a key part of our strategy to diversify revenues. We have licensed our content to third-party platforms and services, launched subscription services such as ad-free content for iOS, and later this year we will launch our first pay channel, ITV Encore.' ITV Player's pay-per-view feature, which lets customers purchase advert-free repeats from as little as forty nine pence, launched in 2012.

Game Of Thrones is the most-pirated TV show in the world, according to a four-week snapshot of online piracy which the Gruniad Mroning Star somehow got access to. The cult HBO show, returning for its fourth season on Sunday, tops a list that features some of the most sought-after shows on television, including The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and Mad Men. The snapshot of global illegal downloading, carried out by anti-piracy and security firm Irdeto, found that Game Of Thrones episodes were downloaded almost 1.6m times. The fantasy show accounted for a quarter of the 7.5m illegal downloads of the twenty eight shows Irdeto tracked between 13 January and 9 February. 'Programmes start to be pirated literally minutes after the first airing of a show,' says Eric Antze, product manager at Irdeto. 'Within an hour we see pretty significant propagation of that content across the Internet and piracy is on the increase.' Such data explains why HBO has allowed Game Of Thrones to be broadcast at 2am on Monday on Sky Atlantic in the UK, the same time that it is broadcast globally. Twenty years ago British viewers had to wait months for a hit US show such as Friends of The X-Files to reach British screens. Sometimes years. However, the TV industry does not see itself as following in the footsteps of music, which has been ravaged by illegal downloads. Jeff Bewkes, the chief executive of HBO's parent, Time Warner, has said Game Of Thrones piracy has been 'better than an EMMY' as a publicity machine which helped drive TV subscriptions. 'It is not as big of an issue as music in part because there is a plentiful supply of legal and free content out there,' says John Enser, a partner at media law firm Olswang. 'From the iPlayer, to 4oD and Sky's on-the-go services there are plenty of options, a lot of TV is free and the UK is ahead of many countries including the US in offering "TV Everywhere."' Giles Willits, the financial chief of Entertainment One, which distributes shows including The Walking Dead, says that the digital age may have enabled piracy but it has also provided rights holders with huge opportunities. 'We see the move to digital as an opportunity to be able to monitor activity and there are also successful models for good paying citizens, like Netflix and Lovefilm,' he says. 'The majority of people want to be legitimate, they don't want to be seen as thieves or pirates. It comes down to a balance of piracy versus not being able to live in a world of one hundred million dollars TV shows like Game Of Thrones.'

It's said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and Alan Titchmarsh certainly seems to go along with that. The BBC spoof W1A has a diva-like character, allegedly based on Titchmarsh, who refuses to take part in a show because of the low star-rating of the co-host, reports the Daily Torygraph. Titchmarsh, they claimed, was 'unaware' of the character, but didn't seem to be at all put out by it. 'It was very funny,' he said. 'How could anyone pull out of a programme called Britain's Tastiest Village? You've got to do it, haven't you? I'm waiting for the call.' It'll be a long wait.

The co-writer of the classic BBC sitcom The Good Life, Bob Larbey, has died at the age of seventy nine, his agent has confirmed. The 1970s hit about two neighbouring suburban couples was one of a string of TV successes, spanning four decades, for Larbey and his co-writer John Esmonde, who died in 2008. Their joint hits included Ever Decreasing Circles, Brush Strokes and Please Sir! Larbey's solo successes included A Fine Romance and As Time Goes By. But his biggest hit came alongside Esmonde with The Good Life. It chronicled a middle class couple's attempt at self sufficiency in Surbiton, which did not impress their well-heeled neighbours. Along with his wife, Barbara, the character Tom Good, played by Richard Briers, decided to give up his steady office job on his fortieth birthday and convert his garden into an allotment to keep livestock. Next door were the henpecked Jerry Leadbetter and fearsome wife, Margot, a social climber who could not bear chickens wandering the back garden. Over the course of its thirty episodes, the show - which also starred Felicity Kendall, Paul Eddington and Penelope Keith - went on to become a huge favourite, often pulling in audiences of up to fifteen million viewers a week. One episode was filmed in front of the Queen, who was said to be a devoted viewer. Larbey, who died on Monday, was born in 1934 in South London. He and his school friend Esmonde started out writing scripts for BBC Radio shows, such as I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again and contributing TV sketches to The Dick Emery Show and material for David frost as well as contributing to the film The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins. Their first sitcom came in 1966 with Room At The Bottom for the BBC. This followed the exploits of a group of maintenance men working for Saracens Manufacturing Company. Starting out as a pilot in the BBC's Comedy Playhouse programme, it lasted for one series, starring Kenneth Connor, Deryck Guyler and Francis Matthews. Larbey had met his writing partner when they were both pupils at the Henry Thornton School in Clapham. Their idea for a comedy set in an London secondary school was turned down by the BBC, but became a major hit for ITV as Please Sir!, which started in 1968. It featured John Alderton as a newly qualified teacher who is put in charge of the school's rowdiest class - eventually winning them over. Its success led to a spin-off feature film, a follow-up series called The Fenn Street Gang which followed several of the characters after they left school as well as another, less well-remembered, spin-off, 1973's Bowler, starring George Baker playing the titular character. In the early to mid-1970s, Esmonde and Larbey produced several lesser-known comedies for ITV, sometimes lasting no longer than a pilot. These include ITV's Cosmo And Thingy and Football Crazy which was a children's sitcom about the football team Wormwood Rovers. The best of these was Get Some In!, a national service comedy set in 1955. It starred Robert Lindsay as the Teddy Boy Jakey Smith, David Janson, Brian Pettifer, Gerard Ryder and Tony Selby as the bullying Corporal Marsh. It ran for five years, the last one with Karl Howman replacing Lindsay. After their even bigger success with The Good Life, Larbey and Esmonde created a string of comedy series. They twice teamed up again with Richard Briers, for five series of Ever Decreasing Circles in the 1980s and one series of the much less successful Down To Earth in 1995. The writers' other big hit in the 1980s - also running for five series - was Brush Strokes, which chronicled the adventures of Jacko, played by Karl Howman, a ladies' man and house painter. Howman also starred in Mulberry, as the mysterious servant of spinster Miss Farnaby. The duo also wrote Hope It Rains (1991–92) for ITV. This starred Tom Bell as the dour owner of a run-down seaside waxworks museum. Holly Aird and Eamon Boland also featured. Larbey also enjoyed great success with his solo projects, which included writing the screenplays for the first four episodes of The Darling Buds Of May from a novel by HE Bates. It was a massive ratings hit for ITV and provided Sir David Jason with his first major success away from Only Fools And Horses. Bob also wrote two hugely significant TV roles for Dame Judi Dench. First the future Oscar-winner appeared alongside her husband, Michael Williams, in A Fine Romance from 1981 to 1984. Then she starred opposite Geoffrey Palmer in the similar As Time Goes By, which ran for nine series and a couple of reunion specials between 1992 and 2005.

The actor and writer Glyn Idris Jones has died at the age of eighty two. Jones was one of a select group - of two - who not only wrote for Doctor Who but also appeared in it. Born in Durban in South Africa, Glyn trained as an actor, touring the country with the National Theatre Company. He arrived in London in the mid-1950s, having worked his passage to the UK, entering the country with just five pounds in his pocket. He worked for The Sunday Times and Kemsley Newspapers before returning to acting in weekly rep first at New Brighton and then at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. In 1964 he met David Whitaker, the first story editor on Doctor Who, at a dinner party hosted by a mutual friend, the actor Trevor Bannister. The result was that Glyn was commissioned to write The Space Museum, a four-part story for the second series of the BBC's popular long-running SF family drama. By the time that the script entered production, Whitaker had left and his replacement, Dennis Spooner, cut many of the humorous elements from The Space Museum script, much to Glyn's dismay. Glyn would, many years later, write a novelisation of his scripts for Target, reinstating much of the cut material. Glyn would write only one script for the series, a second - untitled - was rejected by a later production team, but he would return as an actor, appearing as Krans, one of a group of GalSec colonists stranded on Earth, in the 1975 Tom Baker story The Sontaran Experiment. His other work as an actor included appearing in London's West End in Reunion in Vienna, Brassbound's Convention and Measure for Measure. Glyn contributed the narration script to A King's Story (1965), a documentary feature film about the life of the former Edward VIII, which won an Oscar in the Best Documentary category. He also contributed a half-dozen scripts for the Children's Film Foundation series of movie shorts The Magnificent Six and ½ (1968-69), plus nine scripts for its sequel, the classic children's TV series Here Come the Double Deckers (1970-71), on which he was also script editor. Jones wrote an episode of The Gold Robbers (1969) around the same time. He wrote for the stage as well, with his plays being produced in both England and the United States: Thriller Of The Year, Beautiful Forever, Red In The Morning, Rosemary, Oh Brother!, Champagne Charlie and Peter Pan - A Musical Fantasy. As an actor, he appeared in Sfotly Softly, The Expert, Strange Report, Barlow, Breakaway Girls and Bognor. His autobiography, No Official Umbrella was published in 2008. Glyn reportedly died peacefully at home in Vamos, Crete, on Wednesday 2 April. His death was announced on his blog.

The evidence for an ocean of water under the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus appears to be overwhelming. The little world has excited scientists ever since jets of icy material were seen squirting into space from a striped region at its South pole. Now, exquisite measurements using NASA's Cassini probe as it flew over the moon have allowed researchers to detect the water's gravitational signal. Science magazine reports the details. 'The measurements that we have done are consistent with the existence of a large water reservoir about the size of Lake Superior in North America,' Professor Luciano Iess told BBC News. The findings of Iess and his team will boost the view that the five hundred kilometre-wide moon would be one of the best places beyond Earth to go look for the existence of microbial life. Cassini's data suggests that the liquid volume lies about forty kilometres under Enceladus's icy crust. This would put it directly on top of the moon's layered, rocky interior. The case for a subglacial ocean has been growing ever since Cassini first sensed a diffuse atmosphere at the moon in 2005. Subsequent observations pinned the source of this atmosphere to mineral-rich streams of water vapour flowing away from surface fractures dubbed 'tiger stripes'. Cassini even flew through the plumes to, effectively, 'taste' their load of salts and organic, carbon-rich, molecules. Enceladus's orbit around Saturn is eccentric - it is non-circular. The giant planet's gravity should therefore be expected to squeeze and stretch the little moon as it travels this path, heating some of its ices and melting them. Some of the resulting liquid could then be hurled into space through the deep tiger fractures, although quite how this happens is not yet fully understood. Nonetheless, the new work reinforces this general picture. It has involved measuring tiny changes in the speed of Cassini as it passed through Enceladus's own gravitational field. These changes in velocity were as small as twenty millionths of a metre per second. They enabled Iess and his colleagues to map variations in the distribution of mass on the moon. The large anomaly they spotted in the data at the southern pole is best explained by the presence of a big volume of water. 'What we see is consistent with a water pocket of about eight to ten kilometres in depth, and this pocket can extend up to southern latitudes of fifty degrees around the pole,' the Sapienza University of Rome researcher explained. There is strong evidence to suspect the existence of sub-glacial oceans at a number of Solar System moons. Saturn's largest satellite, Titan, probably has one. Similarly, the Jupiter moons Europa, Ganymede and Callisto would fall into this class; and, perhaps, even Triton, the largest moon of Neptune. Of these, Enceladus and Europa draw the most interest because it is more likely that their water would be in contact with rock. This could make for some interesting chemistry - the sort of reactions that might facilitate the emergence of life. Professor Andrew Coates, of the UK's UCL-Mullard Space Science Laboratory, commented: 'I think Enceladus has gone to the top of the charts in terms of a place where there could be life. It's got several of the things which you need for life - there's certainly the presence of heat, there's liquid water in this ocean, there's organics and that type of chemistry going on. The only question is, has there been enough time for life to develop?' Professor David Stevenson, from the California Institute of Technology, added: 'We don't have an answer to that, but there are some theoretical ideas. First, let me say that the ocean that we have found could keep things going for tens of millions of years, maybe one hundred million years, but, of course, we don't know whether the ocean is being added to at present or is freezing up. And, maybe, Enceladus does go through cycles and those cycles would be related to the eccentricity of the orbit. It's possible that the orbit has not always had the same eccentricity.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, yonder, is this a trio I see before me? Why, it's A Homeboy, A Hippie And A Funki Dread, is it not? Skill.

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