Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Dreams In Which I'm Dying Are The Best I've Ever Had

Yer actual Matt Smith had always said that leaving Doctor Who was a jolly hard thing to do and it seems he may be regretting it more each day after discovering what's in store for his successor, Peter Capaldi, and for the viewers. Smudger revealed that he's been pumping showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat for information about the next series of Doctor Who – and claims that what he's learned from his old boss has made him more than a little envious of the twelfth Doctor. 'I rang Steven Moffat up the other day and found out everything about the new series,' said Smudge, speaking at the recent Calgary Expo in Canada. 'It sounds really good! I was jealous, actually.' Apparently keen to get his continuing Doctor Who fix, Smudger has been throwing himself into the convention circuit since his departure from the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama at Christmas. And during a recent appearance at Wizard World in Minneapolis he joked about his successor: 'Will he be better than me? I hope not,' before going on to point out that every Doctor has his own generation of fans. '[Peter] will be different and it will be a different show and it will be a new show and that's what Doctor Who is about, and I've got to let it go. And the great thing about it is everyone has their own Doctor. So, hopefully, there's a few eight or nine-year-olds out there who I've claimed.' Smudger, of course, left the show at the end of the 2013 Christmas special, regenerating into Capaldi after a four-year stint in the TARDIS. Peter will make his full début as The Doctor when the show returns for series eight later this year.

Poptastic news, rock and/or roll lovers, yer actual Brian Pern, the man who invented world music, will be returning and with a promotion to BBC2. A new three-part series of the, if you will, rockumentary Brian Pern's World of Rock is scheduled for the end of the year and will see Simon Day reprise the part of the up-his-own-arse former front man of prog rock dinosaurs Thotch. The first series was broadcast on BBC4 to great acclaim earlier in the year and its elevation to Beeb2 appears to be a sign of the faith that BBC bosses have in the format. The working title of series two is Rock Apocalypse With Brian Pern;  episode one will focus on the history of the Christmas song as Brian plans to release his own Yuletide composition. Episode two will focus on the music festival as Brian wants to launch one of his own. And episode three will focus on the history of the jukebox musical because, not surprisingly, Brian is preparing to produce one himself. The deal for the new series has not yet been signed and names of those appearing alongside Day have yet to be confirmed. However, one likely returnee is Pat Quid, the guitarist played by Paul Whitehouse who revealed at one point: 'I was very unfortunate in that I was born to very loving and rich parents and I never wanted for anything. I think that's held me back.' Nigel Havers' Tony Pebble is also in line for a potential comeback, as is the great Michael Kitchen in his turn as Pern's arrogant, unpleasant and deliciously foul-mouthed manager John Farrow who tells everyone (even Glastonbury legend Michael Eavis) to 'fuck off.' A host of famous rock musician guest stars are expected to be named, although it is not clear whether we will see Peter Gabriel again. He was one of the main satirical targets of the original series, but was also shown to be a good sport – appearing right at the end of episode three on a Segway scooter. 'He loves it,' Day told Radio Times. 'When you meet him he is a really nice guy, not a pompous twat!' Who'd've thought it? Presumably the same can also be said of Rick Wakeman who also appeared in all three episodes of series one. And, indeed, played piano on it.
And now for a shit-load of overnight ratings figures for yer ass, dear blog reader. 'Info dump', if you like. Please allow yer actual Keith Telly Topping wallow in his Asperger's-like malarkey, he hasn't got many friend. Anyway Fargo continued to attract over a million viewers for Channel Four on Sunday night. The Martin Freeman-fronted US drama pulled in 1.17m at 9pm - down approximately three hundred thousand punters from the previous week's episode. Earlier, Bear's Wild Weekend appealed to four hundred thousand viewers at 7pm and For The Love Of Cars was watched by eight hundred and ninety thousand at 8pm. BBC1's Countryfile topped the evening's overnight ratings with 5.28m at 7pm, followed by Antiques Roadshow an hour later with 4.57m and The Crimson Field with 4.42m at 9pm. On ITV, risible shat Catchphrase and Off Their Rockers totally failed to entertain 3.31m and 3.16m respectively, before the latest episode of Vera - mostly filmed in Whitley Bay and Monkseaton this week, fact fans - attracted 5.16m at 8pm. Channel Five's broadcast of the Stargate movie had an audience of four hundred and sixty six thousand at 6.45pm, before War Of The Worlds was seen by nine hundred and sixty nine thousand at 9pm. BBC2 showed yet more of their seemingly endless coverage of the World Snooker Championship from 7pm to 11.15pm, attracting 2.34m.

It was the worst - and, certainly most vomit-inducing - example of pro-celebrity cock stroking since When Miranda Met Brucie, as charisma-transplant victim Gary Barlow's interview with odious unfunny lard bucket (and drag) James Corden attracted a mere three million overnight viewers on Bank Holiday Monday. Which is still, frankly, a staggering indictment on all sorts of things, none of which we, as a society, as a nation, should be in the slightest bit proud of. Did we really survive the horrors of two World Wars for this diarrhoea-soaked nonsense? When Corden Met Barlow was every single bit as rotten as you might have imagined, dear blog reader, and was seen by 3.4m at 9pm. Earlier, Bang Goes the Theory attracted 2.6m at 7.30pm, while a repeat of Miranda was watched by 2.3m at 8.30pm. Match Of the Day 2 garnered 2.6m at 10.35pm. ITV's crime drama Prey topped the overnight ratings outside of soaps, dropping around eight hundred thousand week-on-week to 4.9m at 9pm. On BBC2, the Snooker World Championship Final brought in an average 3.5m at 7pm. Which is bad enough in and of itself although the fact that it had more viewers than When Corden Met Barlow does, slightly, restore ones faith in Britain not being entirely filled with empty-headed, numskull celebrity-obsessed glakes. But, only slightly. On Channel Four, Bear Grylls's new show The Island appealed to 1.9m at 9pm. Britain's Most Extreme Weather pulled in 1.1m at 8pm, while Rupert Everett's Love For Sale was watched by seven hundred and sixty two thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's The Woman With Fifty Cats had an audience of seven hundred and ninety six thousand at 8pm. On BBC4, Only Connect was watched by seven hundred and fifty thousand at 8.30pm, followed by the second episode of Hinterland with five hundred and sixty eight thousand at 9pm. It was a good night on BBC4 actually, from their repeated Lionel Bart documentary right through to the late repeat of Doctor Lucy's latest Georgian adventures, it kept yer actual Keith Telly Topping right royally entertained all night. Although, on a Bank Holiday that doesn't usually take much. On Sky Atlantic, the latest Game of Thrones has eight hundred and ten thousand viewers at 9pm.

ITV's new breakfast show Good Morning Britain presented by greed bucket (and drag) Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard sank to just over three hundred thousand viewers on Bank Holiday Monday, a week after it replaced notorious ITV breakfast flop Daybreak. Which is funny, admittedly. Good Morning Britain had an average of three hundred and third nine thousand viewers, an twelve per cent audience share of the audience, between 6am and 8.30am on Monday, less than half the launch audience of a week earlier. The show's audience will have been hit by the fact it was a Bank Holiday, with fewer people switching on the television because they did not have to go to work, but in relative terms it suffered far more than its BBC1 rival Breakfast, which still managed 1.06 million viewers, a 31.5 per cent share on Monday. BBC1's Breakfast typically had around one and a half million viewers, double the audience of Good Morning Britain through its first week on air. Following last Monday's launch, Good Morning Britain dipped to seven hundred and thirty five thousand viewers on Tuesday before slipping further to six hundred and thirty six thousand on Wednesday. It rallied slightly to six hundred and seventy one thousand viewers on Thursday before falling again to six hundred and eleven thousand for its last outing of the week on Friday. Monday's audience was lower than then five hundred and seventy three thousand viewers who watched the final episode of Daybreak on 25 April. ITV turned to former BBC Breakfast presenter Reid and Shephard, a familiar face from another ITV breakfast show, GMTV, to front its new show, along with Charlotte Hawkins and Sean Fletcher, both signed from Sky. Notorious fiasco Daybreak, which was fronted by another pair of big-money greed-bucket signings from the Beeb, grumpy face-ache horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles and The Curiously Orange Christine Bleakley, was extremely dumped, to the general hilarity of the viewing public after four disastrous years of laughable tripe and drivel. Chiles and Bleakley were both very sacked and replaced after fifteen months but the show still failed to take off.

And, if you think that's funny, check out Crazy Charlie Brooker's take on the entire Susanna Reid malarkey (with a few bon mots on the subject of Jezza Paxman too) here. Laugh? Laugh? I nearly ...

Happy Valley was top in the overnight ratings outside of soaps on Tuesday, despite a big drop from last week's opening episode figure. The BBC1 drama's audience fell by around nine hundred thousand viewers to 5.4 million at 9pm. Later, the Comedy Playhouse one-off Miller's Mountain attracted 1.8m at 10.35pm. On BBC2, The Big Allotment Challenge appealed to 1.9m at 8pm, followed by Watermen: A Dirty Business with 1.8m at 9pm. ITV's fifty seventh showing of Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire drew and audience of 2.3m at 7.30pm. On Channel Four, Embarrassing Bodies persuaded 1.1m voyeurs to tune-in at 8pm, followed by Mr Drew's School For Boys with 1.5m at 9pm. Sixteen Kids And Counting brought in nine hundred and eleven thousand punters at 10pm. Channel Five's Nightmare Neighbour Next Door gathered 1.4m at 8pm. Behind Closed Doors was seen by 1.1m at 9pm, while The Mentalist continued with eight hundred and forty six thousand at 10pm. On BBC3, the Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Final entertained five hundred and fifty eight thousand at 8pm.

Here are the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty programmes for week-ending Sunday 27 April 2014:-
1 Britain's Got Toilets - Sat ITV - 10.38m
2 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 9.09m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.88m
4 Jamaica Inn - Mon BBC1 - 7.25m
5 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.85m
6 Emmerdale - Fri ITV - 6.79m
7 Vera - Sun ITV - 6.47m*
8 The Crimson Field - Sun BBC1 - 6.25m
9 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.84m
10 MasterChef - Wed BBC1 - 5.74m
11 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.58m
12 UEFA Champions League Live - Tues ITV - 5.50m
13 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.42m
14 Have I Got News for You - Fri BBC1 - 5.20m
15 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.88m
16 Six O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.66m
17 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.55m
18= Match Of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 4.00m
18= The ONE Show - Tues BBC1 - 4.00m
20 Law & Order: UK - Wed ITV - 3.97m*
ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's top-rated show of the week was Gardener's World with 2.32m viewers. Channel Four's highest-rated show was Googlebox with 3.48m. The Mentalist was Channel Five's best performer with 1.63m. Sky Sports 1's Live Ford Super Sunday coverage of Moscow Chelski FC's victory over the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws that got yer actual Brendan Rodgers all discombobulated about bus parking and that attracted the highest audience on multichannels (2.70m). E4's The Big Bang Theory once again managed to pull in an audience - 1.86m - that was higher than anything shown on Channel Five, as did Sky Atlantic's Game Of thrones with 1.67m. Other figures on interest include a sadly below-par audience for ITV's genuinely superb biopic Tommy Cooper: Not Like That Like This watched by 3.61m (a hundred thousand punters less than utter tosh like Big Star's Little Star which says it all, really). In some good news, however, Amazing Greys flopped bigger than a jolly big flopping thing with flopping knobs on it, attracting an audience of just 2.95m despite inheriting over ten million viewers from Britain's Got Toilets. As Nelson in The Simpsons might well have noted at this point, 'Ha-ha!' On BBc2, Ian Hislop's Olden Days finished with a respectable 1.62m. Note, also, that all three of BBC1's weekly episodes of MasterChef had audiences above five million (5.74m, 5.53m and 5.16m) as, indeed and despite its well-publicised sound issues, did Jamaica Inn (7.25m, 5.44m and 5.17m).

Former Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh is to feature in Russell Davies' forthcoming Cucumber. The Channel Four drama about gay life in the Twenty First Century is Hesmondhalgh's first TV role since she left the role of Hayley Cropper behind her in January. The series was announced last year but casting has only just been revealed. Hesmondhalgh will join Freddie Fox and Vincent Franklin - who starred in The Thick Of It - in Cucumber, which is currently filming in Manchester. The series will be broadcast in 2015. Davies, whose other credits include Queer As Folk and Doctor Who's massively successful 2005 revival, is also working on a companion drama for E4, titled Bananas, which will feature the same characters. Cucumber follows forty six-year-old Henry (played by Franklin) and his long-suffering boyfriend Lance, 'whose lives are turned upside down after a disastrous date night.' Hesmondhalgh will play Henry's sister. The actress from Accrington left the long-running soap Coronation Street in January, after sixteen years. She said that she had 'the most wonderful time' playing Corrie's first transgender character but wanted to 'pursue new projects.' More than ten million viewers tuned in to watch her character take her own life to end the pain of terminal cancer in January. Later that month, she starred in Simon Stephens' Blindsided at Manchester's Royal Exchange theatre and received general positive reviews from several critics, although the play itself was less well received.

The director of BBC Cymru Wales Rhodri Talfan Davies says that he is 'concerned' about a drop of a sixth in those watching S4C's evening programmes. He said a seventeen per cent fall in peak-time figures in two years was 'a real worry in terms of providing value for money and serving the Welsh language audience.' Davies added that a fall in the number of episodes of Welsh soap opera Pobol y Cwm would further decrease the ratings. S4C said that focusing on one performance measure created 'an incomplete picture.' Davies raised his concerns at a regular meeting of the Audience Council Wales in March, the minutes of which have just been published. Most of S4C's funding has come from the BBC licence fee since April 2013 and the BBC will provide seventy six million quid for S4C during 2014-2015 having had the funding imposed on them - very much against their will, one imagines - by the 2010 licence fee settlement. However, S4C retains its operational and editorial independence as part of the funding arrangement whilst licence fee payers like muggings here have to pay for a service that we derive no benefit from. BBC Cymru Wales also provides around five hundred and twenty hours of programming for the Welsh language channel every year. The Audience Council Wales minutes note that Davies told the meeting that the relationship between the BBC and S4C was 'better than ever', but the key issue 'was the overall performance of the channel, with audience levels deteriorating faster than the historical trend which faced all broadcasters.' S4C's peaktime viewing period is between 18:30 and 21:30 and regularly includes episodes of the soap opera Pobol y Cwm and news programme Newyddion, which are both made by BBC Wales. The Audience Council Wales scrutinises the BBC's services on behalf of BBC audiences and meets regularly to hear from those who manage the BBC's output in Wales. It reports back to the BBC Trust, the corporation's governing body. S4C chief executive Ian Jones said: 'We're in continuous discussions with the BBC regarding the drop in viewer numbers during peak hours, which is very relevant given that the BBC produces around half of the programmes broadcast on S4C during those hours. We're consistent in our view that we need to respond to what the audience wants in planning our content. In this regard, S4C's decision to bring the Sunday afternoon Pobol y Cwm omnibus to an end releases finance to enable us to plan a schedule which will be popular with the audience.' A BBC Wales spokesman said: 'All Welsh language services - including those from the BBC - have faced particular audience challenges over recent years and BBC Wales' director has been very open about this. S4C and BBC Wales management teams are in regular discussion to address what is a shared challenge. The success of Y Gwyll/Hinterland, the renewal of the Newyddion Nine news programme, as well as plans to launch S4C on BBC iPlayer later this year, all demonstrate the strong and creative relationship that exists between BBC Wales and S4C.' Montgomeryshire Conservative MP Glyn Davies told MPs a 'fair degree of certainty' over S4C's budget was needed if more programmes like Hinterland were to be made. Leading a Westminster Hall debate on S4C and Welsh identity on Wednesday he said: 'Now, actually most of S4C's budget comes from the licence fee and that is probably fairly certain. But still a certain amount of money comes here from the Westminster government, from DCMS and that isn't guaranteed. It's guaranteed for a limited period but a programme like Hinterland will have taken, from the first discussions of delivering it until it is delivered, at least two years. So in order to make commitments to a programme like that, that's a hugely successful programme which is going to be internationally successful, there's got to be a fair degree of certainty.'

The last time viewers saw armoured-plated killing machine Jack Bauer he was a wanted man, a fugitive from justice with both the American and Russian governments baying for his blood and wanting to cut his nadgers off and stick them on a pole for public display. Four years later, Jack is extremely back - and this time, he's in London. Kiefer Sutherland his very self admits that when he first got the call suggesting a new series of 24, he was nervous about reviving the character. 'The last thing you want to do is damage the legacy of a show you've put to bed,' he claimed at the London launch of 24: Live Another Day on Tuesday. 'And we had put this to bed for a reason: Howard Gordon, our lead writer, was tired. He had written one hundred and ninety six episodes - the equivalent of one hundred movies - in an eight-year period. That gave me pause for thought. But now we're almost finished I'm so glad, and arguably we've made the best season ever.' 24 was proper ground-breaking television when it began in 2001, relaying the against-the-clock drama of a counter-terrorist operation in real time. It was also perhaps the first show to spark so-called 'binge viewing' of DVD box-sets, thanks in part to the cliff-hangers that ended every episode. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping was such a fan of the first series he even wrote a book about it. Which is still available for fifty seven pee (plus package and posting) if you want to check it out on Amazon. The format kept viewers gripped, though it did have its limitations. 'In season two, Jack is stuck on a plane coming back from Central America to the US,' Kiefer remembered. 'The flight was two hours, and it was the most boring two hours of 24 we've had because we were in real time. The answer to that was to crash the plane in the middle of the flight, because it wasn't working.' To overcome these issues, the new series - which takes place in London - compresses a whole day into just twelve episodes. Each episode, though, is still played out in real time which is, after all, the hook of the series and has been since day one. Speaking at the British launch, Sutherland said that the change has afforded the writers more flexibility. 'If I need to get somewhere, I can get on the train or plane at the end of the episode and we can speed the time up to the next episode and carry on in real time from there.' The ninth season of 24 sees Bauer in London, coincidentally at a time when the US president (played by the excellent William Devane) is meeting the British prime minister (played by the even more excellent Stephen Fry) amidst public outcry over a proposed new military base to deploy US drones. It opens with the former counter-terrorist agent reuniting with his surly-but-loveable old oppo Chloe O'Brian. While Bauer is now on the run, wanted for the various naughty crimes he committed four years ago, Chloe has also become an Edward Snowden-style enemy of the state - wanted by the CIA for treason after leaking thousands of classified documents online. To the Gruniad Morning Star, presumably. To emphasise just how rogue she has become, Chloe has a new punky haircut and a tattooed look seemingly inspired by Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. 'She's very troubled and hanging onto a thread,' Mary Lynn Rajskub says of her character with a cult following. 'She's become very anti-government and suffered personal tragedy, so that has affected her look.' Despite his long history with the character, Kiefer says it took him a while to settle back into playing Big Hard Jack and that he experienced a nervous first three days of production. Indeed, it was not until a moment while filming a scene with Rajskub for the second episode that he finally felt comfortable in the agent's shoes. 'Once we were on set there was a definite familiarity there,' the actress says. 'The history between us is pretty unspoken, but the cool thing about this [series] is there are so many new elements.' Those include CIA agents Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) and Erik Ritter (Gbenga Akinnagbe), along with Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt), head of CIA operations. John Boyega, who was recently cast in Star Wars: Episode VII, also features as a military computer technician who pilots US drones. The appeal of reviving 24 almost certainly lies in halving its length and making it a so-called 'limited event series' like House Of Cards, True Detective or Hannibal. 'There is a comfort in only doing twelve episodes,' admits Jon Cassar, who directed a large proportion of the previous eight series and has returned to executive produce and helm half of Live Another Day. 'It gives the writers a chance to make good episodes. People forget 24 episodes was absolutely a marathon - most [other network] shows are twenty two. For a seven-year period we had three weeks off from one series to the next. That's why everyone was really tired, because we never had time to recuperate.' With the series debuting in the US with a solid eight million viewers on the FOX network, TV bosses will inevitably be mulling over whether to bring the series back on a more permanent basis. Cassar says the decision will also be down to Gordon - who also developed US terrorism drama Homeland - and Sutherland himself. 'It's hard to say never any more, because we said never four years ago when we left the show and we really didn't think it would come back,' he says. 'Is there a possibility? Absolutely. Are they going to write some kind of ending [this series] that leads to that? I would probably think yes.'

There was a properly priceless moment on Sky News during its 1pm bulletin on Monday in an item about the police hunt for a convict who has gone missing. Michael Wheatley, nicknamed 'The Skull Cracker', was reported to have failed to return to Standford Hill open prison on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. The news anchor, Lorna Dunkley - in a two-way piece with on-the-spot reporter Clare Fallon standing outside the prison - asked her: 'Any idea where's he's gone?' No. And neither have the police either, love, that's probably why he's still missing. Jeez, where do they get them from?

Greed bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Alesha Dixon has been criticised for not admitting that she already knew a Britain's Got Toilets hopeful from a previous TV talent show. Dixon praised body-popper Kieran Lai after his audition, saying: 'You absolutely blew our minds with that.' But according to the Daily Lies, Dixon completely failed to mention that she had already met Lai on her 2011 BBC show Alesha's Street Dance Stars. of course, it's entirely possibly that Dixon had forgotten all about the show. I mean, let's face it, everyone else has. Lai, who also reached the semi-finals of Sky's Got To Dance in 2013, didn't bring up their former connection either, although in the past judges and auditionees have always been open about any previous contact they've had with each other. A Britain's Got Toilets spokesperson said: 'Kieran Lai went through the same process as all other acts and to say he has secret links with Alesha Dixon is ridiculous. Kieran was auditioned on his performance on the day and received a yes from all the judges.'

Modern Family actress Ariel Winter will keep living with her elder sister after an agreement was reached over her guardianship. The actress had been staying with her sibling since 2012 after accusations her mother, Chrisoula Workman, had abused her, physically and emotionally. The agreement was reached just before a trial was about to begin to decide who would care for Winter. 'I have never abused my daughter,' Workman claimed on Monday. Workman said that the sixteen-year-old actress could stay living with her sister if she watched a video montage of family photos in court. After Superior Court Judge Daniel Murphy agreed, Winter and her sister, Shanelle Gray, dabbed their eyes with tissues as pictures from their childhood were shown. Winter's brother, the actor Jimmy Workman, known for his role as Pugsley in The Addams Family, had asked for the court to be closed while the video was shown. The judged denied his request. Workman excused himself from the room at one point and cried after the judge formally granted Gray guardianship of his sister. The judge said it would be up to Winter to decide if and when she would visit her mother, but that he would keep jurisdiction over her care until she turns eighteen. The actress left the court without speaking. Glenn Workman, Winter's father, will stay in control of her finances and will have to make reports to the court. In earlier proceedings, another judge said that there was evidence of emotional abuse but claims of physical abuse were 'inconclusive', according to reports by child protection services. The case was filed under Ariel's birth name, Ariel Workman. On Monday, Gray and Workman issued a joint statement saying: 'The family has moved beyond the conflict.' The statement said they were working towards reconciliation and thanked well-wishers. Ariel Winter has been acting since the age of seven, with appearances in shows like ER, Bones and Monk and the film Ice Age: The Meltdown.

An episode of Two And A Half Men about 'threesomes' should not have been broadcast at tea time when children were likely to be watching, the media watchdog has ruled. The episode, called Four Balls, Two Bats And One Mitt, was broadcast on 3 December at 6.30pm on Paramount UK. Media regulator Ofcom received one complaint (presumably, from someone with nothing better to do with their time) that the show – which features the antics of Aston Kutcher and Jon Cryer – featured 'strong sexual themes throughout, focused on the topic of "threesomes"'. The complainant whinged that the episode should not have been broadcast before the 9pm watershed because of its 'adult content.' Paramount UK, which broadcasts the show, said that it would 'not defend' the 6.30pm scheduling of the episode and grovellingly apologised for the broadcast. It admitted that its compliance department had given the episode a 'not near kids' rating, meaning it should not be transmitted between 4pm and 7pm, but this had been 'overlooked.' This, they put down to human error and said that the human who erred has, since, had his bollocks spanked with a flip-flop until he screamed and bubbled and begged for mercy. Which, seems fair. Ofcom ruled that the show had 'a strong sexual theme', including a sequence with the main characters in bed depicting the 'preliminary stages' of a failed threesome. 'The episode cumulatively contained material with a sexual theme and tone that was unsuitable for children,' said Ofcom. 'We considered that the episode was not appropriately scheduled.' Ofcom - a politically appointed quango, elected by no one, incidentally - said that this was in breach of rule 1.3 of the broadcasting code, which says that 'children must ... be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.' By force, if necessary.

Helen Flanagan wishes that her bum was as shapely as her bosom according to a staggeringly interesting piece of world-shattering important in Now magazine. Well, it's every girls dream, isn't it? And, this is 'news', apparently.
Russia's Tolmachevy Sisters were booed in Copenhagen as they qualified for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest on Tuesday evening. The seventeen-year-old twins initially received a warm reception for their song, 'Shine', during the semi-final. But, when they progressed to the final, some sections of the ten thousand-strong audience expressed apparent disapproval of the Russian artists. Experts have said that Russia could suffer at Eurovision over the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and, also, over its intolerant stance on gay rights. Nine other countries qualified for the final on Tuesday, including Ukraine's Mariya Yaremchuk, whose performance was enhanced by a dancer running in a giant hamster wheel. San Marino made it through to the final; for the first time ever, marking a personal victory for singer Valentina Monetta, who has been kicked out at the semi-final stage on two previous occasions. Montenegro will also make its debut in Saturday's final, thanks to singer-songwriter Sergej Cetkovic and his ballad 'Moj Svijet'. The oddly-named Aram Mp3 also made it through for Armenia. His song 'Not Alone', which begins as a simple piano ballad before spinning off into dubstep, is one of the bookies' favourites to win the competition on Saturday. Other hotly-tipped songs by Sweden, Hungary and Azerbaijan also qualified alongside less-favoured songs from The Netherlands and Iceland. Latvia's novelty act, Aarzemnieki, were kicked out after their song 'Cake To Bake' failed to impress. Last year's winner, Denmark, are already guaranteed a place, alongside the 'big five' nations who financially support the EBU, which organises the annual contest: Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK.

ITV has bought a controlling stake in US reality TV producer Leftfield Entertainment. Leftfield is the production company behind series such as Pawn Stars and Real Housewives Of New Jersey. ITV has bought an eight per cent stake in the firm for two hundred and twelve million smackers and - depending on Leftfield's profit growth - has the option to buy the whole firm. ITV said the deal means its American studios division is now the largest independent unscripted producer in the US. Leftfield's portfolio of programmes also includes Counting Cars and American Restoration. Pawn Stars is the History Channel's number one show worldwide and has had three hundred and ninety four episodes commissioned to date. In the UK, it was the History Channel's highest ever rated original premiere. Real Housewives Of New Jersey has been a ratings hit for the US channel Bravo. Adam Crozier, chief executive of ITV said: 'Leftfield is a fantastic success story, rapidly growing from a single pilot to become one of the biggest indies in the US. The team has combined creativity with strong production expertise, with over seventy per cent of the business coming from returning series and a pipeline of new ideas coming through in 2014 and into 2015 that is really encouraging.'

BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten has announced that he will be standing down with immediate effect on health grounds following major heart surgery. Appointed in 2011, Patten had a turbulent tenure, including the Savile fiasco and the row over senior staff pay-offs. In a statement, Patten said that he had been admitted to hospital with chest pains on 27 April and had successful heart surgery the following day. Doctors then advised him he cannot continue to work at the same pace. 'On this basis I have decided with great regret to step down from much the most demanding of my roles - that of Chairman of the BBC Trust,' he said. 'This is a position that requires and has received from me one hundred per cent commitment and has been my priority at all times. His term as BBC Trust Chairman was due to end in April 2015, having taken up the post in May 2011. The BBC's director general, Tony Hall, said: 'I have enjoyed working with Chris over the last year; he is a staunch believer in the BBC and he has brought his vast experience to the role of chairman. He has steered the BBC through some of its most difficult days. In undertaking this role he brought unrivalled experience, wisdom, and an overwhelming desire to ensure that the BBC remains the best public service broadcaster in the world.' Patten, who will be seventy next week, has had a varied career, including top roles in the Conservative Party, the chancellorship of Oxford University, the governorship of Hong Kong and a seat in the House of Lords. He said of his decision to stand down from the BBC: 'It would not be fair to my family to continue as before; and equally it would not be fair to the BBC and those it serves not to be able to give that commitment which the role demands.' He said that it had been 'a privilege' to have served as chairman of the BBC Trust, but added that 'it is not perfect - what institution is?' The corporation 'always needs to challenge itself to improve' he said, but described it as 'a precious and wonderful thing, a hugely positive influence which benefits greatly from the creativity and dedication of its staff.' Patten added that he hoped to 'say more on the future of the BBC' at Charter Review time. The BBC's royal charter, which sets out the corporation's purposes and the way it is run, is reviewed every ten years. The current charter runs until the end of 2016. 'For the time being, however, I shall be making no further statement whatsoever about the BBC or my period as chairman of the BBC Trust,' he added. Vice Chairman Diane Coyle will take over as acting chairman of the BBC Trust until a successor is appointed.

Worthless bags of limp hummus Coldplay have announced plans for a one-off Sky Arts special. The channel will broadcast an exclusive concert on the same day as the band's latest CD Ghost Stories is released on Monday 19 May at 9.30pm. So there you are, dear blog reader, you've had plenty of warning should you want to, as this blogger thoroughly intends to, avoid it like the sodding plague.
Police investigating phone-hacking at the Scum of the World uncovered 'a rotten state of affairs' at the top of News International, the Old Bailey has been told. Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told jurors that at the centre of the rot were the three senior executives in the dock: well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the Scum of the World and former NI chief executive, Andy Coulson, the ex-deputy editor and then editor of the paper and the prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' and Stuart Kuttner, the former managing editor. Edis was beginning his closing speech in the trial, which has been running for over six months. He reminded jurors that 'three very senior executives' at the Scum of the World had already pleaded extremely guilty to phone-hacking offences – former news editors Greg Miskiw, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup. A further executive - who cannot be named for legal reasons - was also involved, he claimed. 'The people you are trying are three even more senior executives,' Edis said. It was their job to 'know what they were doing', to 'oversee budgets' and to run the organisation. Turning to Scotland Yard's Operation Weeting probe into phone-hacking in 2011, Edis told jurors: 'The investigation has clearly proved a rotten state of affairs at the top of the organisation. What you have to decide is whether these one or two people above knew of that rotten state of affairs which permeated the organisation they were supposed to be running; or perhaps they never noticed?' Edis added. He said that in 'one sense it is their job to know how the news desk were getting stories and how much it was costing' in a reference to the convicted hacker Glenn Mulcaire, who was paid one hundred thousand smackers a year by the paper. 'Are they so careless and so unconcerned about what was happening on their watch that they didn't even notice?' Edis asked. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, the Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Coulson and Kuttner have denied all the charges against them. The trial extremely continues.
Ex-It's A Knockout presenter Stuart Hall has admitted indecently assaulting a girl under sixteen but denies twenty further charges. Hall is to go on trial accused of fifteen rapes and five indecent assault offences against two young girls, allegedly between 1976 and 1981 in Greater Manchester and Cheshire. The extra charge he admits was put to him ahead of the trial at Preston Crown Court. The court heard that the attack happened between January 1978 an January 1979. Hall it was claimed 'groomed' two girls and raped them in his BBC dressing room. Hall, then aged forty seven, invited one of the girls to the former BBC studios in Manchester after she 'expressed an interest in becoming a make-up artist in films and TV', prosecutors said. The eighty four-year-old denies twenty charges of rape and indecent assault involving two victims in the 1970s. Last year, Hall, from Wilmslow, was jailed for fourteen offences of indecent assault against thirteen girls. His sentence was later extended to thirty months, at the Court of Appeal. Peter Wright QC, opening the case for the prosecution in this latest trial, said the two girls' families knew Hall and he 'abused their trust. These were young impressionable teenagers being groomed by a sexual predator into satisfying his sexual requirements,' he said. 'He took advantage of the influence he had over them and their continued silence. But now all these years later their silence has been broken and they are prepared to reveal publicly what happened to them at the hands of this man all those years ago.' The jury was told that Hall sexually abused 'Girl A' between 1 January 1976 and 30 September 1978. The offending allegedly started when she was aged about fourteen and went on until she was sixteen. Wright said that Hall took her to his dressing room where he 'plied her with alcohol' and raped her. Afterwards, Hall gave her a lift home and the girl made no complaint to anyone and blamed herself for getting drunk, the court heard. Wright said: 'She was after all a fourteen-year-old girl who had been invited to the studios of a TV celebrity, been reduced into a state of intoxication and then abused.' The court heard the girl went to the studios each week for twelve months. 'It happened so frequently that the girl lost count of the number of times. She estimates he had intercourse with her on at least thirty occasions', Wright added. He said it was the prosecution's case that Hall had groomed her 'into submitting to sexual intercourse and further sexual indignity with him.' The jury was told that she did not reveal what had happened until last year. Wright said: 'She reports that, in fact, her husband tried to blackmail her into giving him money, failing which he would inform her family of the sexual abuse that she had suffered. His conduct, not surprisingly, led to their estrangement.' The court heard about the second alleged victim, 'Girl B', who said that she was raped and indecently assaulted by Hall between ages of twelve and fifteen. The jury was told it coincided with his abuse of 'Girl A'. Prosecutors said the first incident happened while the girl was cleaning stables and Hall arrived unannounced. Wright said: 'He approached her in the stables, partially removed her clothing and raped her against a wall.' The court heard that as the girl grew up, she too showed an interest in a TV career and would go to the BBC studios, where Hall would rape her in his dressing room. Wright continued: 'His sole concern was self-gratification. She was, we say, his toy, to be used and abused as he saw fit.' She kept her silence until July last year, when she spoke to police. The trial is expected to last seven days.

Freddie Starr will not be prosecuted following allegations of sex offences, prosecutors have said. There was 'insufficient evidence' to prosecute on most claims, the Crown Prosecution Service said. There was 'a realistic prospect of conviction' on one complaint, but it was 'not in the public interest' to prosecute, a spokeswoman said. News on whether Starr will be prosecuted for impersonating a comedian is not known at this time. Starr has been on bail since being arrested by Operation Yewtree officers investigating sexual abuse claims. He was first questioned in November 2012 and has always denied any wrongdoing. Baljit Ubhey, the Chief Crown Prosecutor of the CPS, said that the case had been 'carefully reviewed.' Complaints against Starr had been made by thirteen individuals, she said. The complainants have been told of the decision by the CPS, which 'will be writing to them to more fully explain our decision.' Ubhey added: 'Each allegation was considered on its own merits and we have concluded that the available evidence does not offer a realistic prospect of conviction for any of the alleged offences. In relation to one further complainant, we have decided that although there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, according to the Code for Crown Prosecutors, a prosecution would not be in the public interest. It must be remembered that a determination by a prosecutor that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute under the Code does not mean that the suspect is guilty of the offence.'

Rolf Harris has arrived at court, where he is due to stand trial on twelve counts of indecent assault. The eighty four-year-old, from Bray in Berkshire, was accompanied at Southwark Crown Court by his wife, Alwen Hughes, and a security team. Rolf denies assaulting four girls, the youngest of whom was seven or eight and the oldest nineteen, between 1968 and 1986. Jury selection was expected to begin on Tuesday, with the prosecution case set to open later in the week. Rolf has previously entered not guilty pleas at a hearing in January. His trial, being heard in front of Mr Justice Sweeney, is expected to last for more than six weeks.

A second man has accused X-Men director Bryan Singer and the theatre producer Gary Goddard of sexual assault. An anonymous British man has filed a claim in California, alleging that the pair sexually assaulted him when he was a minor, The Hollywood Reporter had claimed. The allegation was filed by the same lawyer who filed sex abuse claims on behalf of Michael Egan last month against Singer, Goddard and two others. Both Goddard and Singer strongly deny all of the claims made against them. In the latest claim, the man alleges that Goddard contacted him in 2003 when he was fourteen via social media, which led to nude webcam sessions when he was fifteen. He said that the pair had sex when he was sixteen. He also alleges that he had sex with Singer at a Superman after-party in London when the plaintiff was seventeen. The plaintiff also accuses Singer of attempting to rape him. The age of consent in the UK is sixteen but, the claim argues that the California age of consent, eighteen, should apply because Singer and Goddard allegedly planned their abuse of the teenager whilst in the US state. Singer's lawyer, Marty Singer, who is not related, described the latest allegations as 'totally untrue.' Goddard's lawyer, Alan Grodin, said in a statement: 'It is a shame that the specious claim made by [Jeff] Herman [the plaintiff's lawyer] in the Egan case has resulted in this new claim that we note is over ten years old. For now we will say the claims are denied and Gary will vigorously defend.' The latest claim was filed by Herman in a federal court in Los Angeles and was first reported by The Daily Beast.

CCTV footage has emerged which could challenge twice convicted murderer Amanda Knox's alibi on the night that Meredith Kercher was murdered. A video obtained by an Italian television shows a person resembling Knox walking through a car park away from the house that the pair shared in Perugia. The American, who this year was extremely re-convicted of murder after a second trial, has always claimed that she was with her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito on the night of the killing. TV programme Quarto Grado claims that the figure shown on the film has 'similar clothes' to those worn by Knox in the days immediately after the murder and even compares the gait of the two people. It claims that British student Meredith Kercher is also seen on the film two minutes before, apparently heading back to the house. The route through the car park is said to be a short cut between the property and the centre of Perugia. Quarto Grado also claims that Rudy Guede, the only person so far jailed for the murder, was recorded by the same video camera earlier in the evening. The CCTV is stamped 20:53 on the night of the killing, 1 November 2007, but the Italian television programme says that the time could be out by ten minutes either way. An author who wrote a book on the case, Barbie Latza Nadeau, told The Times that the video was 'known about' earlier but that neither side chose to use it in court. 'It's not helpful to the prosecution or the defence. If the prosecution shows someone like Amanda Knox walking away from the crime scene it's not helpful. For the defence, if there is a video of her anywhere near the house it's not helpful to them because her alibi is that she was at Raffaele's house,' said Latza Nadeau. Meredith, from Coulsdon in Surrey, was found dead in her apartment on 2 November 2007. Her throat had been slashed and she had been sexually assaulted. Knox and Sollecito were arrested four days later and served four years in prison before they were acquitted by an appeals court in 2011. The high court in Italy overturned that acquittal and ordered a new trial and in January Knox was sentenced in abstentia to twenty eight years and Sollecito to twenty five years in stir. The judge said that Knox acted with Sollecito and Guede, but it was she who delivered the fatal knife blow. Alessandro Nencini said Knox was motivated by a 'desire to humiliate' Meredith after she accused the American of taking money from her room. Knox, who now lives in Seattle, is appealing to Italy's highest court and last week told CNN she 'never fought' with her housemate and the pair were 'becoming friends.'

Not many people would describe Coronation Street as overly racy, but it appears to be too near the knuckle for one of the ITV soap's greatest stars. The Daily Mirra reports that Jean Alexander, who played Hilda Ogden for twenty three years, says that she 'no longer bothers' seeing what's going on in Weatherfield because of 'the amount of sex' in the storylines. 'The only stories they seem to have in mind is who is jumping into whose bed next. I lost interest.' Not only have the romps around The Rovers put Our Hilda off, she also thinks all the fun's gone out of it as well. 'Things have to move on, I know, but in the days of Hilda Ogden, Annie Walker and co, The Street was gentle, funny and human. The humour has all but gone out of it.'
Writer Alan Bennett has explained how he guarded his sexuality for much of his career to avoid being pigeonholed as a gay playwright. Bennett spoke to BBC4 to mark his eightieth birthday. 'My objection about people knowing more about one's private life was that I didn't want to be put in a pigeonhole,' he told director Sir Nicholas Hytner. 'I didn't want to be labelled as gay and that was it.' He added: 'I just wanted to be my own man, as it were.' Bennett is one of the UK's best-loved dramatists, and 2004's The History Boys was recently voted the nation's favourite play. He has kept details of his personal life relatively private, although in recent years he has spoken about his civil partnership with Rupert Thomas, editor-in-chief of World of Interiors magazine. He was also at the centre of a minor media storm in 1993 when it was revealed he was having a relationship with his housekeeper, Anne Davis. Once asked by actor Sir Ian McKellen at an AIDS benefit whether he was heterosexual or homosexual, Bennett famously replied: 'That's a bit like asking a man crawling across the Sahara whether he would prefer Perrier or Malvern water.' And while discussing his life on BBC Radio 4's Front Row in 2009, he explained: 'If there was any sex going, you'd go for it, but it didn't really matter which side it was on. There'd been something of both in my life, but not enough of either.' The writer turns eighty on Friday and the BBC4 interview, conducted by Sir Nicholas, the outgoing National Theatre artistic director, will be broadcast the following day. 'Looking back on your life, the things you remember are the things that you didn't do,' Bennett said. 'A lot of that will be to do with sex, I suppose. 'It's in my nature to feel somehow that one has missed out. It's my view of my own life except that I've been very, very lucky. I met my partner quite late in life and so the last part of my life is much happier than the first part.' During the interview, Bennett also revealed that he prefers contemporary US literature to English writers. 'I'm very ill-read. I know that sounds over modest but it's quite true,' he said. 'I like American literature more than I do contemporary English literature. I like Philip Roth, for instance. I don't feel any of the people writing in England can tell me very much. That may be unfair.' He also explained that it has become more difficult to write as he has got older. 'I find it harder and harder to write, but then I always have found it hard to write,' he said. 'I never really believe in writer's block - all writing is writer's block. People say, "Oh you've done so much." It doesn't seem to me I've done so much. The stuff you've written isn't like upholstery - it's not something you can settle back in and think, "I've done so many plays," and so on. It's not a comfort - it's a rebuke as much as anything else. You think, "Well, I can't do it now." And writing is about now. It's about what you're doing this morning - what you're sitting at the table, staring out of the window trying to do. That's still the situation, whatever age I am.' The writer's work is also being celebrated with a season at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in his home city of Leeds, beginning at the end of May.

The BBC executive in charge of a botched technology project which cost the licence fee payer nearly one hundred million quid has claimed that he was made 'a scapegoat' to avoid the embarrassment of the corporation's senior management, an employment tribunal has heard. John Linwood, who was in charge of five hundred million smackers of the BBC's technology budget, ran the Digital Media Initiative before it was very scrapped by incoming Director General Tony Hall last year after the broadcaster had sunk more than one hundred and twenty five million notes of public money into the project. The decision to axe the DMI, which was intended to revolutionise programme-making by introducing a 'tapeless' environment, left Linwood, who earned two hundred and eighty grand a year as the corporation's chief technology officer, 'battered' by the media and without any kind of payout, his lawyer told the tribunal on Tuesday. And we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for him? The complex project fell apart when one of its key elements was halted due to poor performance. And a review of the project, which Linwood's lawyers said was used to 'stitch' him up like a kipper, failed to analyse the decisions which led to the project's closure, the Central London tribunal heard. Linwood, who is claiming unfair dismissal, will call as a witness former BBC chief operating officer Caroline Thomson. 'He has been made a scapegoat for the BBC's decision to scrap its Digital Media Initiative,' said Stuart Ritchie QC, representing Linwood, in a submission. 'The organisation has closed ranks against him. It is convenient for it to have done so. The heat has thereby been taken off everyone else who might have been subject of questions as to why the DMI project is not proceeding and difficult questions have thereby been avoided.' He claimed that Linwood had been 'singled out' and 'stitched up' by managers. 'With MPs breathing down their neck, matters were carefully co-ordinated by the BBC and BBC Trust to ensure they had all of their ducks in a row concerning the closure of the project, write down and message to the outside world,' added Ritchie. He said that the rushed decision to end DMI and leave Linwood to face the public's white hot and frothing anger over the huge wastage 'masked' the fact that senior management had 'not thought properly' about how to save the project or what it could be used for in the future. According to his lawyers, Linwood had 'successfully' delivered 'hundreds' of projects at the corporation, with some larger than DMI before its collapse in 2013. The BBC started disciplinary proceedings against Linwood on 14 May 2013, ten days before the BBC announced it was shelving the project. Linwood claims that he was told 'out of the blue' he could either resign or face dismissal from disciplinary action, all before any proper investigation into DMI had taken place. He has denied the corporation's claims that he committed misconduct or was negligent during his time at the helm of the doomed project. The BBC said in its skeleton argument before the tribunal that its disciplinary proceedings had found that: 'As chief technology officer and project sponsor of DMI, [Linwood] failed to deliver the requirements of the project. He had been responsible for ninety four million pounds of expenditure which had little value to the BBC and he had continued to fail to take any responsibility for the failure of DMI in full or in part.' It added that the proceedings found that 'this amounted to serious default in Mr Linwood's performance of his duties and/or neglect or incompetence in the performance of his duties, justifying his summary dismissal.' It added: 'Even if he could not be held solely responsible for the failure of DMI, he clearly had significant responsibility for that failure, for allowing substantial sums of public money to be wasted and for failing to face up to DMI's difficulties.' The tribunal extremely continues.

The Daily Scum Mail has printed a thoroughly grovelling apology to the author JK Rowling in which it states that it has paid her what is described as 'substantial' damages over an article that claimed she had told a misleading 'sob story.' And, given how much bread JK Rowling already has, anything with which can remotely be described as 'significant' in relate to her much be a canny tidy sum.So, that's funny. The Scum Mail article, published on 27 September 2013, suggested that Rowling had falsely accused churchgoers of stigmatising her because she was a single mother. It was headlined How JK's sob story about her single mother past surprised and confused the church members who cared for her. And it was, as with most things the Scum Mail publishes, a load of lies. The paper admitted liability in January, when it agreed to publish the correction and pay damages to Rowling. But the Scum Mail disputed details of the settlement. In the high court last month, Mr Justice Tugendhat said that Rowling could make a statement about the case despite objections from Associated Newspapers, the Scum Mail's publisher, about the contents of the statement. The judge ruled that 'there is no sufficient reason' for refusing Rowling permission to read it. Wednesday's apology, at the foot of page two where you can barely see it, states: 'Our 28 September 2013 article How JK's sob story about her single mother past surprised and confused the church members who cared for her suggested that JK Rowling made a knowingly false and inexcusable claim in an article for the Gingerbread charity that people at her church had stigmatised her and cruelly taunted her for being a single mother. In fact Mrs [sic] Rowling recounted only one incident where a visitor to the church sitgmatised and taunted her on a particular day. We accept that Ms Rowling's article did not contain any false claims and apologise for any contrary suggestion and have agreed to pay substantial damages to Ms Rowling, which she is donating to charity, and a contribution to her legal costs.' Which is excellent.

A bidding war for photographs of the Australian casino tycoon James Packer in a fist fight with the Nine Network's chief executive, David Gyngell, at Bondi Beach has been won by News Corporation, which is believed to have paid more than two hundred thousand dollars for the images. Alleged - though anonymous - 'sources' say News Corp bid two hundred and ten thousand dollars which was 'significantly ahead' of the others, including the Daily Scum Mail which offered twenty thousand. The pair, who have been friends for thirty five years, were apparently photographed punching and wrestling each other outside the billionaire's Bondi apartment on Sunday afternoon, according to reports. The fist fight is thought to have broken out because Packer wrongly believed a Nine News crew in a live satellite van had waited outside his home, according to sources at Nine. There has been widespread speculation that the model Miranda Kerr has been dating Packer, something Kerr has categorically denied. 'Sources' allegedly said that Packer had called Nine's boss, angry there appeared to be a satellite truck outside his home. Gyngell investigated and assured Packer it wasn't true and that there were no crews on such an assignment. Gyngell apparently went over to Packer's street to investigate and discovered that a cameraman who lived on the street had left the satellite truck locked outside his home, as is usual in between shifts. Gyngell waited to tell Packer in person but, instead, a fight broke out. The two men subsequently held peace talks on Monday morning and issued a brief joint statement through Channel Nine's publicity arm: 'We have been friends for thirty five years and still are. In that time we have had our fair share of ups and downs. We respect each other and neither of us will be commenting further.' Packer was best man at Gyngell's wedding to Leila McKinnon in 2004 and Gyngell was best man at Packer's wedding to Erica Baxter in 2007. A Bondi resident who claims that he witnessed the 'altercation' tweeted about a 'massive street fight' outside the Packer home and later described the fight on his Facebook page. 'Holy crap, big street fight outside my house. Not thugs, James Packer and some other angry bloke going toe-to-toe – total brawl. Wow. Packer packered [sic] a punch but copped a couple of hits straight to the jaw. Then they all fell on the concrete fence and I think the other guy broke his face. They were looking for teeth after he left.' The Seven presenter Chris Reason tweeted: 'I've just seen the pix [sic], they are extraordinary. Gyngell bearded and barefoot, Packer black eye, both in head locks on ground.' The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the pair had been 'forcibly separated' by Packer's bodyguards. 'Both Packer and Gyngell retreated to their respective homes following the bust-up and a short time later a person who appeared to be a medical professional attended Packer's home,' the Herald said. 'Gyngell was waiting outside Packer's house early on Sunday afternoon, sitting on the boot of his car for about twenty minutes as the casino mogul was chauffeured home after arriving aboard his private jet at Sydney airport.'

Odious oily twat Piers Morgan really isn't having the best of times in the US – first his CNN show amusingly gets the chop and then he gets shown up by an Aussie team during a charity cricket match in Hollywood. Hoping to bat away his blues, the odious oily twat Morgan faced off against former James Bond actor George Lazenby and, the i reports, ended up scoring a grand total of none. To give him his due, he didn't let the duck get to him, tweeting: 'I was sledged by James Bond though. So not an entirely wasted day.' Yes, the worst James Bond. It's a bit like being sledged by Colin Baker. Or, Jason Connery.

BT Sport has been forced to abandon post-match interviews outside football grounds after a live broadcast was repeatedly interrupted by foul and abusive language from chanting fans of The Arse. Presenter Jake Humphrey had to apologise to viewers after eight clearly audible instances of the word 'fucking' were broadcast as he attempted to discuss The Arse's 2-1 FA Cup win over Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws on 16 February this year. BT launched its sport channels last year in an attempt to break Sky's stranglehold of live top-flight football. The company's outside broadcast interviews were seen as an attempt to differentiate itself from Sky, which has broadcast live Premier League action since its launch twenty years ago. But following the incident, which breached broadcasting regulations, BT Sport said that it would no longer broadcast post-match analysis from outside grounds. However, it will continue to do so in the run-up to matches when BT said the risk of unacceptable language was 'significantly reduced' because spectators' emotions were not running so high. However, management at BT Sport have been summoned to a meeting with media regulator Ofcom because it was the second such incident of explicit language broadcast pre-watershed in recent months. The broadcaster will be required to 'discuss its compliance arrangements' after Ofcom said that it was 'concerned' that a 'similar instance of offensive language should arise so soon after the previous compliance failure.' Former BBC presenter Humphrey told viewers after the game at The Arse's Emirates Stadium: 'Apologies for some of the words being used there by the Arsenal fans. What they're chanting now is an awful lot better.' BT Sport said that it undertakes a 'full risk assessment' before such broadcasts, but said it had 'limited options' on this occasion to cut away from the chanting because no video packages available and no other commentators or pundits were available in the stadium. It told Ofcom that Humphrey had apologised 'at the first opportunity.' The broadcaster said that it still hoped to offer viewers 'an engaging and fresh approach to sports broadcasting' but had in light of the incident abandoned post-match interviews outside grounds. Ofcom said the broadcast, at around 6.25pm, was 'a clear example of the most offensive language being broadcast before the watershed.' It said BT Sport had 'put itself in a position' where there was 'a strong likelihood' of offensive language from football fans.

The BBC has announced details of its 2014 World Cup coverage. Yer actual Gary Lineker will lead the presenting team during the football tournament, which includes Rio Ferdinand and Thierry Henry. Who was a great footballer but always has a look on his face like he's just seemed some shit nearby. Just an observation. The TV studio will feature the backdrop of Rio de Janiero's Copacabana Beach, with thirty one live games to be broadcast. Live matches will be shown on BBC1, BBC1 HD and the BBC Sport website. There will also be simultaneous games on BBC3 and BBC3 HD and the Red Button. BBC2 and BBC2 HD will also broadcast a daily morning highlights programme and full match replays of the day's best game after midnight. There will be a total of over one hundred and sixty hours of TV, which is over fifty per cent more than the previous World Cup in 2010. Four World Cup-related documentaries will also be shown across the BBC channels, featuring Linekar and David Beckham. Lineker will host the first programme on Wednesday 11 June at 10.35pm on BBC1 with a preview show ahead of the tournament. Live coverage will begin on Friday 13 June with a repeat of the 2010 final between Spain and The Netherlands at 7.30pm. Mind you, that's a really poor game so you might want to give that one a miss. England's opening match against Italy will be shown live on BBC1 on Saturday 14 June at 10.20pm. Clarence Seedorf, Neil Lennon and regular pundits Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer, Robbie Savage, Danny Murphy and Phil Neville will also be part of the BBC team. Tony Pulis and Brad Friedel will join the Radio 5Live punditry team, along with Lennon. Savage, Neville and Murphy will also provide co-commentary with Mark Lawrenson, Martin Keown and Kevin Kilbane. Mark Chapman and Dan Walker will host several programmes on TV and radio, including the daily highlights show at 7.30am on BBC2. It will repeat on the Red Button and will be available on iPlayer. Gabby Logan will report from the England camp in Rio, while Jason Mohammad will report on various stories throughout the tournament. Guy Mowbray, Steve Wilson, Jonathan Pearce, Simon Brotherton and Steve Bower form the lead commentary team.

Hollywood actor Jeremy Renner has signed up to play in this year's charity Soccer Aid match. The Oscar-nominated Hurt Locker actor will play as part of the Rest of the World team, to be managed by Moscow Chelski FC manager Jose Mourinho. He joins previously announced team-mates James McAvoy and Michael Sheen, who will take on a group of celebrities and footballers representing England. The event, held on 8 June at Old Trafford, will be broadcast on ITV. Renner follows in the footsteps of the likes of Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, Mike Myers, Edward Norton and Gerard Butler - all of whom have taken part in previous matches. Sheen will captain Renner's team, which also includes Gordon Ramsay, Westlife's Nicky Byrne, Patrick Kielty, The Musketeers actor Santiago Cabrera and former Man Vs Food presenter Adam Richman. They will be joined by professional footballers Alessandro Del Piero, Edwin van der Sar, Jaap Stam and Edgar Davids. Robbie Williams - who first created the event in 2006 - will lead the England team, managed by West Ham's soon-to-be-former manager Sam Allardyce. Damian Lewis, yer actual Matt Smith and True Blood's Stephen Moyer are also on the squad, along with singers Mark Owen and Olly Murs, cheeky big-toothed Scouser John Bishop and lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall (who will, hopefully, get fouled really hard by someone). There's also Ben Shephard, odious, unfunny professsional Northern plank Paddy McGuiness and Jamie Theakston. English footballers on the roster include Jamie Redknapp, Jamie Carragher, David Seaman and Teddy Sheringham. It will be the fifth Soccer Aid event, with previous matches held at Wembley in 2008 and at Old Trafford in 2006, 2010 and 2012. Money raised through ticket sales and donations made by viewers during the match will go to Unicef.

Portugal's Helena Costa is to be the highest-profile female manager of a European men's team after being named head coach of Clermont Foot in France. Costa, a former scout for Glasgow Celtic, has coached the Iran women's team since 2012. The thirty six-year-old, who has also coached Benfica's male youth teams and the Qatar women's side, will join Clermont officially at the end of the season. 'It should help the club enter a new era,' the French Ligue 2 club said. Before Costa, the highest-profile appointment of a woman as coach of a men's team in Europe was that of Carolina Morace, who took charge of Italian Serie C1 team Viterbese for two matches in 1999. Costa, who scouted for Celtic between 2008 and 2011, has also managed Portuguese lower-league men's team Cheleirense, where she won the Lisbon regional championship in 2006. A Celtic spokesperson said: 'She did an excellent job for us and we know she will give her new position the same high level of commitment and dedication which she gave to Celtic.' Najat Belkacem, France's Women's Minister, responded to the appointment by posting on Twitter: 'Bravo Clermont Foot for understanding that giving a place to women is the future of professional football.' Veronique Soulier, president of Clermont Foot's supporters' club, said: 'It surprised us when we read the club statement. But once we got over it, we all believe that it is a good thing. The boys in the team can be difficult to manage. They can be quite sensitive, that is what the other coaches have told us. With a woman in charge, maybe they will be less demanding.' Costa spent thirteen years as a youth coach with Benfica from 1997, in addition to winning two Portuguese national women's league titles with Sociedade Uniao 1 Dezembro in 2007 and 2008, leading the club into the Women's Champions League. She also guided Odivelas to promotion from the Portuguese women's second tier as champions in 2009. Costa led Qatar's women to their first international victory, a 4-1 win over The Maldives in 2012, but was unsuccessful in her attempt to guide Iran to a debut appearance at the 2015 Women's World Cup finals. At Clermont, she will replace former Montpellier midfielder Regis Brouard, whose contract as head coach expires at the end of the season. The club are fourteenth in the French second-tier with two matches to play.

A football referee has been taken to hospital after being punched by a player during a match in Devon. The player's team, Torre, has now withdrawn from the South Devon Football League following the abandonment of the match against Ashburton Reserves. The referee, former mayor Councillor Donald Distin, was taken to Torbay Hospital with facial injuries. A police spokesman said officers were called to the ground and no arrests have been made. He said officers are still investigating the attack. Distin said he has had 'plenty of verbal abuse' in the past but 'nothing like this before.' He added: 'They x-rayed me and I've got no cracked bones. I've got bruised eyes, I can't open one eye at all, it's completely shut. I've got a cut lip, and there's bruising coming out below my jaw line. I can't eat at the moment. It knocked me to the ground. I wasn't unconscious, but was a bit delirious. It took me twenty minutes to recover. The match was called off straight away.' He said the attack happened thirty five minutes into the game. Jamie Aylett, Torre manager, confirmed the player had used another name to play in Saturday's match after he had been sent off in a match on Thursday. Aylett said that the club 'strongly apologises' for Saturday's attack and that the club 'did not condone' the player's actions. One should bloody well hope not. He said: 'The club has withdrawn from the league because of this and it will fold. I'm getting lots of grief on football forums but this is one incident by a player who has let the whole league system down.'

On Thursday evening, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self will be attending good old Uncle Scunthorpe's latest Record Player-type event at the Tyneside its very self and that. This week its a big-haired and eyeliner eighties poptastic face-off a'tween Duran Duran's Rio and Tears For Fears' The Hurting. Never been much of a fan of The Duranies personally has yer actual Keith Telly Topping, but Roland and Curt's little dark trippy masterpiece is a record that yer actual Keith Telly Topping has always admired a great deal. So, anyway here is today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day, dear blog reader. Prepare for forty minutes of primal scream and songs about a fucked-up childhood. You know you want to.

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