Tuesday, May 27, 2014

To Mock A Killing Bird (A Tit, As It Happens)

The BBC reportedly 'considered' cancelling one of its biggest money-spinners, Doctor Who, when David Tennant left the series. No, this blogger has real difficulty believing that statement, dear blog reader, but, we have it on good authority. Then-showrunner Russell Davies departed from the popular long-running family SF drama along with yer man Tennant his very self in 2009. 'I think there were plans, maybe, to consider ending it,' Rusty's replacement The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat claimed at the Hay Festival over the weekend, according to the DoctorWhoTV website. So, to recap: 'I think', 'maybe' and 'consider' all in the same sentence - yer actual Steven Moffat couldn't have hedged his bets any more than that if he'd included the word 'allegedly' - and yet, still, every online headline on this subject which you'll read in the next few days (and, probably, every tabloid one too) won't include any of those quantifiers. Of that you can be certain dear blog reader. 'It was Russell T Davies saying, "You are not allowed to end it" [that kept the show going],' The Moffinator continued. Although one does have to wonder exactly how some people at a senior level within the BBC believed they were going to replace the huge income which Doctor Who generates via its overseas sales and merchandising had they actually taken the decision to cancel it at the end of 2009. Perhaps that's a question best left for another day. The Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) added that it was 'a huge question' within the BBC whether Doctor Who could continue without Tennant. 'David owned that role in a spectacular way, gave it an all-new cheeky sexy performance and [he] became a national treasure,' Steven added. 'So the idea that Doctor Who could go on at all in the absence of David was a huge question. I didn't realise how many people thought it wouldn't succeed at all. That was quite terrifying when I found out about it later.' Without wishing to stir the shite up too much, one would really love to know who, exactly, these mysterious 'they' within the Beeb were given that most of the executives who would have had any say in whether Doctor Who continued or otherwise - Head of Vision Jana Bennett, Head of BBC1 Jay Hunt and Head of Drama at BBC Wales Piers Wenger - are no longer with the corporation. On the other hand, the Head of Drama Commissioning Ben Stephenson is still in post (and, to be fair, he has been one of Doctor Who's most vocal supporters within the BBC in recent years). Yer actual Matt Smith, of course, ultimately succeeded Tennant in 2010, remaining with Doctor Who until Christmas 2013. In the meantime, The Moffinator his very self, mercifully, elected to let Zygons be Zygons. Oh yes he did.
Doctor Who, of course, did continue and has made the BBC geet masses of wonga in the four years since. Filming is currently under way for its eighth series with yer actual Peter Capaldi in the title role. Here's the latest on-location shot from over the weekend on a beach just outside Port Talbot.
The history of showbiz is, of course, overloaded to bursting with tales of short-sighted executives making grand and wrongly wrong judgements about people and things which subsequently turned out to be world-shatteringly brilliant. There's the famous line in the report on Fred Astaire's RKO screen-test in the late thirties, for instance: 'Can't act, can't sing ... can dance a bit.' Dick Rowe of Decca Records, provides an even more infamous example. Dick will always be remembered not as the man who signed The Rolling Stones, The Small Faces, Lulu and Tom Jones to the label but, rather, as the chap who is reported to have told Brian Epstein, when turning down The Be-Atles, 'guitar groups are on the way out.' Now, it seems, we can add two further - tragically anonymous - individuals to the list of narrow escapes. For, it would appear that some arseholes of - sadly - considerable importance within the Beeb (at least, at the time) claimed that both yer actual David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch his very self were 'not sexy enough' to play the roles which ultimately catapulted them to the very toppermost stars in the firmament. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat, in addressing the audience at the Hay Festival over the weekend, described making the casting choices for the leading men in both Sherlock and Doctor Who and also Russell Davies' involvement in casting Tennant in Casanova. And, the frankly strange feedback they got from a couple of - as noted, anonymous - commissioning editors. He explained: 'They said of casting David Tennant as Casanova, "Damn, you should have cast someone sexier." With Benedict Cumberbatch, we were told the same thing. "You promised us a sexy Sherlock, not him."' So, once again, the question has to be asked who, exactly, were these 'commissioning editors'? Casanova, for instance, was originally commissioned from Davies by Julie Gardner when she was working at London Weekend Television. However, after Gardner moved on to become Head Of Drama at BBC Wales in 2003, she commissioned Davies to write the drama for the Beeb instead, as part of the deal which also saw him installed as Executive Producer and showrunner on a revival of Doctor Who. Lorraine Heggessey (Head of BBC1) and Jane Tranter (Head of Drama Commissioning) were Julie's immediate bosses at the time (and, of course, it should be noted that all three were to become hugely important in the commissioning and astounding success of Doctor Who a year later and, of the casting of David Tennant as The Doctor a year after that). Nevertheless, yer man Moffat seems well-happy to have been proved correct over his own casting choices, especially as Benny's subsequent career has been such a pan-continental success story: 'You don’t get to see it on your watch often that someone goes from to being a big international movie star. It can be quite annoying too if you're scheduling a damn show.' Steven’s story of the casting of Matt Smith as The Doctor bears repeating too, especially as it proves quite how singular Smudger is as a physical presence: 'I said, "we are seeing too many young actors." Then Matt Smith comes in, and this is what happens when you get casting right. The moment Matt started saying that dialogue, with his strange manners and his extraordinary face, he was a hot young guy but he also looked kind of like your barmy uncle. I said I really like him. What age is he? They said twenty six!'

The first of Britain's Got Toilets live shows helped ITV secure a strong ratings performance on Bank Holiday Monday, collecting an audience of over 9 million. The opening semi-final, which was won by boy band Collabro (apparently), attracted an average audience of 9.12 million from 7.30pm. Figures dropped for the subsequent results show at 9.30pm, which pulled in 7.86 million. On BBC1, a showing of the movie Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides drew 3.07 million at 8pm. BBC2's fiftieth birthday celebrations continued with 1.49 million tuning in for the second Fast Show special at 9pm and 1.49 million watching the Goodness Gracious Me reunion at 10pm. Channel Four's reality series The Island With Bear Grylls pulled in 1.67 million at 9pm, while What The Dambusters Did Next attracted 1.01 million at the same time on Channel Five.

The British Soap Awards appealed to over five million overnight viewers on Sunday night. The annual ceremony attracted 5.15m sad, crushed victims of society at 8.15pm on ITV - down around two hundred and fifty thousand punters from last year's ceremony. The final Britain's Got Toilets before this series' week of live shows topped the evening's ratings with 7.76m at 7pm, while Perspectives pulled in 1.44m for ITV later. BBC1's new Gabriel Byrne series Quirke was watched by 4.18m at 9pm, while Sunday evening stalwarts Countryfile and Antiques Roadshow interested 4.80m and 4.82m respectively. BBC2's spoof comedy mockumentary Harry And Paul's Story Of The Twos was watched by 1.26m at 9pm, followed by an Absolutely Fabulous repeat an hour later with 1.29m. Tropic Of Cancer had earlier attracted four hundred and ninety thousand viewers at 7pm and a Best Of Top Gear repeat brought in nine hundred and ten thousand at 8pm. Fargo continued on Channel Four with nine hundred and fifty thousand at 9pm and Kick-Ass drew six hundred and fifty thousand at 10.05pm. For The Love Of Cars was watched by with seven hundred and twenty thousand at 8.30pm. Meanwhile, the Nicolas Cage double header Ghost Rider and Drive Angry had audiences of six hundred and sixty five thousand and six hundred and eighty nine thousand respectively on Channel Five.

As mentioned in a previous blog update, Real Madrid's victory over their city rivals Atlético in the Champions League final was watched by an average audience of 4.9 million on ITV, down on the audiences of previous finals which had benefited from involving an English (or, in one case, a Russian) team. The match was shown on ITV between 7pm and 11pm, over-running its scheduled finish time of 10.15pm as the game was won by Real after extra time. The live match coverage averaged 4.9 million viewers, which equated to a twenty four per cent share of the available audience. The match was also shown live on Sky Sports 1 from 6pm to 10.30pm, pulling in 1.18 million viewers. ITV could not match of the heights of the 2012 final between Moscow Chelski FC and Bayern München, which averaged 8.2 million viewers, or the 2011 final in which an average audience of 7.9 million watched Barcelona beat The Scum.
Here's the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty programmes, week-ending Sunday 18 May 2014:-
1 Britain's Got Toilets - Sat ITV - 10.12m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.42m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.10m
4 Prey - Mon ITV - 6.84m
5 Happy Valley - Tues BBC1 - 6.79m
6 MasterChef - Fri BBC1 - 6.58m
7 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV 6.57m
8 Vera - Sun ITV - 5.86m*
9 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.78m
10 The FA Cup Final - Sat ITV - 5.69m
11 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 5.44m
12 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.32m
13 The British Academy Television Awards - Sun BBC1 - 5.18m
14 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 5.11m
15 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.69m
16 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.64m
17 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.42m
18 A Party European Election Broadcast On Behalf Of Some Waste-Of-Space Pondscum - Mon BBC1 - 4.38m
19 Watchdog - Wed BBC1 - 4.25m
20 DIY SOS: The Big Build - Mon BBC1 - 4.11m
ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's top-rated programme of the week was The Big Allotment Challenge with 2.22m viewers followed by Great British Menu (2.15m) and Coast Australia (2.04m). Channel Four's highest-rated show was, as usual, Googlebox with 3.12m. The Mentalist was Channel Five's best performer with 1.57m. Once again, E4's The Big Bang Theory attracted more than anything which Channel Five pulled in all week (1.97m). Sky Atlantic's Game Of Thrones (1.66m) also surpassed the final and consolidated audiences for all programmes on the fifth terrestrial channel. Credit should also, once again, be given to MasterChef where two of the three episodes of finals week topped six million viewers (6.58m, and 6.23m) and the third attracted 5.93m.

And now to probably the saddest story that From The North has been required to cover in this blog's eight year history. In early 1980, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping was a spotty, fat and rather tragic sixteen year old schoolboy and in the process of taking his O-Levels. He even passed a few of them (well, six actually, if you're taking notes) one of which was English Literature, his second favourite subject after history. Among the books that yer actual Keith Telly Topping studied during that year were John Steinbeck's Of Mice & Men (which, to be honest, he found rather hard work but, ultimately, rewarding), George Orwell's Animal Farm (loved that), James Vance Marshall's Walkabout (which Keith Telly Topping thought was 'a bit boring' at the time but re-read a few years later and was riveted by), Nina Bawden's Carrie's War (bloody little twenty four carat masterpiece, that one), A Christmas Carol (which formed the basis for Keith Telly Topping's life-long opinion that Dickens is, actually, vastly over-rated) and, most significantly, To Kill A Mockingbird. The latter really struck a chord with this blogger; it was as relevant to Britain in the early 1980s (an era of race-riots, huge unemployment and social division and conflict) as it had been to America's Deep South in 1960 when it was written. It remains relevant to this day covering important themes as diverse as bigotry and racial intolerance, childhood fears of those different than oneself, integrity and of people who do the right thing even if it isn't the easy thing. Harper Lee's only novel is, in short, a book which everyone should read at least once in their life and if you chose to live that life in the manner of any of the novel's three central characters - Atticus Finch, Scout Finch or Boo Radley - then, to be honest, you are a credit to humanity and you should be jolly proud of yourself. This blogger mentions all of this because news was announced over the weekend that To Kill A Mockingbird (and Of Mice and Men) are among the American literary classics which are to be dropped by a GCSE exam board after the lack of education secretary the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove was said to have called for 'more British works' to be studied. Neither book is on OCR's draft GCSE English Literature syllabus in England. The rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove's overhaul has also seen Arthur Miller's 1953 play The Crucible - another angry blast against ignorance and intolerance - left out. The rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove later denounced 'culture warriors on Twitter' for fanning the flames of the - righteous - furore the announcement had caused. 'Do I think Of Mice And Men and To Kill A Mockingbird are bad books? Of course not. I read and loved them all as a child. And I want children in the future to be able to read them,' the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove claimed, unconvincingly. 'But sometimes a rogue meme can be halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on. Just because one chap at one exam board claimed I didn't like Of Mice And Men, the myth took hold that it – and every other pesky American author – had been banned. There are, in reality, four exam boards that can offer GCSE English literature and there are no rules requiring them to exclude or marginalise any writer. If they wish to include Steinbeck – whether it's Of Mice And Men or The Grapes If Wrath – no one would be more delighted than me, because I want children to read more widely and range more freely intellectually in every subject. As an English literature graduate - and indeed unabashed Americanophile - I am rather pleased on one level that so many rhetorical swords should have leapt [sic] from their scabbards to defend both literature and the unity of the Anglosphere. But, sadly, I can't take too much delight in these protestations of literary affection. Because they are - in more than just one sense - rooted in fiction.' The Department for Education said that its document about new content for the subject, published in December, 'doesn't ban any authors, books or genres.' Labour said that the changes were 'ideological and backward-looking.' The new GCSE course content will include at least one play by William Shakespeare, a selection of work by the Romantic poets, a Nineteenth Century novel, a selection of poetry since 1850 and a Twentieth Century novel or drama. OCR said that the decision to drop the works by American authors was because of the DfE's 'desire' for the exam to be 'more focused on tradition' and there were fewer opportunities to include them in the new syllabus. Announcing his reforms last year, the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove also said the new exam questions would be 'more rigorous' and designed to ensure that pupils had 'read the whole book.' It has been claimed that the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove, who studied English at Oxford University, has in the past highlighted his 'concern' that pupils were reading Of Mice and Men in particular. Paul Dodd, OCR's head of GCSE and A-Level reform, suggested that the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove 'had a particular dislike for Of Mice And Men and was 'disappointed' that more than ninety per cent of candidates were studying it. Of course, since the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove has denied this is the case then we appear to have something of a conundrum here. For it would appear that either Paul Dodd, OCR's head of GCSE and A-Level reform, is lying or, if he isn't, then the lack of education secretary, the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove, is. I'll leave the choice in which of these two individuals you believe and which you do not entirely up to you, dear blog reader. Steinbeck's six-chapter novella written in 1937 about displaced ranch workers during the Great Depression and To Kill A Mockingbird have become a mainstay of GCSE exams. Some academics have pointed out the reason schools opt to study the works is because they are 'accessible' to students across a range of abilities. Last year, the rat-faced tit Gove said that children should be reading fifty books a year from the age of eleven - something this blogger entirely agrees with - and told a conference of independent school heads that he would much prefer to see a child reading George Eliot's Middlemarch than one of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight vampire novels. Something this blogger does not agree with. Any book has literary merit, even bad ones. If you never read any bad ones how do you know how good a good one is? The furious reaction from Twitter about the dropping of To Kill A Mockingbird in particular comes from many who studied the novel themselves at school, describing reading it as 'a rite of passage.' Although again - and this blogger is genuinely sorry to have to agree with the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove twice in one day - let us all remember that. despite what most of the journalists at the Gruniad Morning Star seems to believe, Twitter is not The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things and anybody who thinks it is, frankly, needs a damned good kick, hard, in the Jacob's Cream Crackers to set them straight. So there you have it, dear blog reader, like a broken clock, even the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby (and tit) lookalike Gove can be right twice a day. OCR's draft syllabus is about to be presented to exams regulator Ofqual for accreditation. About three-quarters of the books on it are from the 'canon of English literature' and most are pre-Twentieth Century. Pupils will still be able to study modern work by British authors. Anita and Me, Meera Syal's excellent 1996 autobiographical novel of a British Punjabi girl in the Midlands and Dennis Kelly's 2007 play about bullying, DNA, are understood to be among the most recent works included in the draft syllabus. A Labour spokesperson said: 'True to form, Michael Gove is putting his own ideological interests ahead of the interests of our children. His vision is backward-looking and preventing the rich, broad and balanced curriculum we need in our schools if our children are to succeed in the future economy.' And Bethan Marshall, chair of the National Association for the Teaching of English and a senior lecturer in English at King's College London, said: 'Many teenagers will think that being made to read Dickens aged sixteen is just tedious. This will just grind children down.' Meanwhile, the lack of education secretary's wife, the Daily Scum Mail journalist Sarah Vine, has whinged that the couple's two children - Beatrice and William - are becoming 'traumatised' and are suffering 'emotional damage' from the 'hate' which is being hurled at their father. And, we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for them? 'There are a lot of people who really hate Michael, who send e-mails saying, "I hope you die"', she claimed. Which is probably true. And, again, we're supposed to feel sorry for him? I think that ship might've said long since Sarah, m'darlin'. One piece of good news to come out of all this; the controversy seems to have boosted sales for To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee's famous tale of racism in the American south rose to number nine on Amazon UK's bestseller list on Monday. 'Dear Mr Gove, please dis another one of our books,' staff at publishers William Heinemann tweeted. Sarky buggers!
Behind the painted smiles, the blame game seems to have already begun at ITV's latest post-apocalyptic zombie nightmare breakfast TV flop Good Morning Britain, which shows little sign of pegging back the ratings lead of Susanna Reid's former BBC colleagues at Breakfast. But, more constructive approaches are, reportedly, being tried out too: Someone has noticed, you might think somewhat belatedly, that the presenters' chat and body language are 'somewhat stiff' and sop, 'team bonding' will be taking place at a swanky members' club and hotel in West London. Although mind you, this is according to some tosser of little or no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star so, frankly, I'd take this information with a pinch of salt if I were you. 'It sounds as if orange juice and Scrabble will be about as exciting as it gets' the Gruniad claims, as 'the poor lambs are required to be up at 4am and so normally have to stick to children's bedtimes and drinking restrictions.'
A report on David Cameron flying out to meet other EU leaders doesn't normally get the pulse racing, so a bunch of nice ripe bananas should be winging their way to Sky News chief political correspondent, Jon Craig, for livening up an otherwise dull segment by dropping 'the F-bomb' from Westminster. During a pre-recorded report, Craig was interrupted by the chimes of Big Ben and turned to the building, exclaiming: 'Oh, fucking hell!' The following seconds of awkward silence from the Sky anchor seemed to go on and on for eternity before she apologised to viewers, claiming it was 'a much earlier recording.'
EastEnders actor Khali Best has, reportedly, been suspended from the soap for three months. The twenty six-year-old plays Dexter Hartman on the BBC1 drama. Details of exactly why the actor, who recently won the National Television Award for best newcomer, has been reprimanded are yet to be revealed. 'Khali Best has been suspended from EastEnders for three months. We will not comment any further on this matter,' said a spokesman.
A 'very ugly and cynical' cover-up operation swung into action when the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World's royal editor was arrested for phone-hacking offences, the Old Bailey has heard. Clive Goodman was being 'groomed' as the 'fall guy' for the wider hacking at the defunct tabloid back in 2006 and was even told that he could keep a job if he went to prison, his barrister, David Spens QC, has claimed. Quoting American president Lyndon B Johnson's description of FBI chief Edgar J Hoover, Spens said that it was as if the Scum of the World had decided it was 'better to have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.' In his closing speech Spens said that the editor at the time, the Primie Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Andy Coulson 'and others' adopted 'a carrot and stick' approach to ensure Goodman's silence on the wider criminality at the paper. 'We say that the cover-up is a very ugly story. Mr Goodman was vulnerable. Promises and inducements were made to him. He was gong to have his legal expenses paid, he was suspended on full pay, and he was being offered the prospect he might return to work and he was, we suggest, being groomed to be the fall guy,' said Spens. He said that it was 'a somewhat shocking and cynical strategy of carrot and stick at the News of the World to ensure Mr Goodman's silence as to the extent of phone-hacking.' Goodman was arrested in August 2006 on suspicion of phone-hacking and a few months later decided to plead guilty to the offences, meaning there would be no criminal trial. Spens told the jurors that once Goodman was extremely jailed for his crimes, at the end of January 2007, his previous supporters 'abandoned him.' He was 'sacked and discarded' after imprisonment and the Scum of the World ship 'steamed on without him', said Spens. The lawyer also questioned claims by Stuart Kuttner, the former managing editor of the paper and co-defendant in the current trial, that Kuttner 'put the supportive arm of the company' around Goodman in the months after his arrest. He claimed that Kuttner's visit to Goodman following Goodman's release from the police station that August was 'a charade' and was, actually, 'a fact-finding mission' designed to 'pump' Goodman for information about the police's case. Spens said that Coulson had 'a golden opportunity' to dismiss Goodman after he not only admitted that he had broken the Press Complaints Commission code of practice but 'admitted to the world that he had committed a criminal offence.' He added: 'Why didn't Coulson dismiss him? Answer: He couldn't take the risk of upsetting Mr Goodman.' The jury was shown an e-mail from a member of the editorial staff to Coulson about some questions which 'might be asked' that 'will be difficult' to 'brush off' in 'the long gap' between a potential statement about Goodman pleading guilty and his sentencing. 'So this is [the unnamed executive] about what Goodman could say between 28 November and sentencing. He had to be kept in line.; The jury was also reminded of an e-mail from Coulson to a News International executive - who, again, cannot be named for legal reasons - about a potential press statement to be issued after Goodman's guilty plea. In the first draft, Coulson told the executive that he intended to say he would 'put in place additional measures' to ensure Goodman's offences were 'not repeated.' Spens said that this suggested measures were 'already in place' warning staff that hacking was not tolerated. He said Coulson 'must have realised' this as he said in an e-mail sent a minute later that his proposed statement should, actually, say he had 'put in place measures.' Spens told the jury that News International increased its severance settlement with Goodman from fifty thousand smackers to one hundred and forty grand plus legal costs after he launched an appeal against his dismissal. There was a confidentiality clause and the 'truth' about the true extent of hacking may 'never have seen the light of day' were it not for the judge's decision to allow Goodman's charges to be heard along with Coulson's. 'Bad luck to Mr Coulson,' Spens said, because this meant Goodman could be asked about hacking. Coulson, Goodman and Kuttner deny all charges against them. The trial extremely continues.
Rolf Harris has denied abusing a friend of his daughter as he began giving evidence in his own defence at his trial for alleged indecent assaults. Rolf told Southwark Crown Court that he is 'a touchy-feely sort of person' but disputed the claims made by the woman that his touching extended to naughty stuff. He said that an allegation he 'performed a sex act' on her when she was a teenager was 'ludicrous' and said that he felt 'guilt' over an affair they had when an adult. The eighty four-year-old popular entertainer denies twelve indecent assaults between 1968 and 1986. Asked about a claim that he assaulted the girl after she left the shower while on holiday in 1978 when she was thirteen, Rolf said: 'Nope, didn't happen.' He also denied allegations that he abused the girl after she had been swimming in the sea and later in the holiday, while she was lying on a bunk bed. Asked about an allegation of indecent assault on the girl on a separate occasion while she was still a teenager, he said: 'No. Ludicrous really.' Rolf told the jury how, on a later occasion when the girl was an adult, during another visit to his family home, he had taken a cup of tea to her in the morning. He said that she 'kicked the duvet off the bed' revealing her bare legs. Rolf said that she became 'flirtatious' with him, saying: 'It was a very flattering feeling for this young lady to be showing an interest in me.' He told the jury that, on this occasion, he touched the outside of her leg, adding: 'I can remember my heart was thumping away like mad. I didn't know what to do, I left the room.' Asked if he would have touched her leg if he had not been invited to do so, Rolf claimed that he would not. 'I find it very hard to discuss this. It's very embarrassing,' he said. 'It's just a married man, a much younger girl, I shouldn't have been doing it.' On her next visit, however, he described how he had again taken a cup of tea to the bedroom she was staying in. 'I think it was just an excuse. It stayed un-touched on the bedside table. There were some whispered nothings between us, I think I kissed her and there was some foreplay.' He said that he then performed a sex act on her, but claimed that it was consensual. Asked how he felt when he started the relationship, Rolf said: 'Illicit and a guilty feeling.' He said that there were 'further sexual encounters' between the pair, but added: 'She seemed to be welcoming the whole business and enjoying it.' The alleged victim is the subject of seven of the twelve charges Rolf faces, including six alleged assaults when she was aged sixteen or under. At the start of his evidence, Rolf outlined his early life in Australia. He said that he had been a talented swimmer as a teenager and went to university but 'didn't really understand it' and was asked to leave. He said that he then started teaching but 'became unwell' after picking up an infection while swimming in a river and became 'totally paralysed.' It was while he was recovering from the illness in hospital that he decided to pursue a career in painting (taking inspiration from his aunt, the acclaimed caricaturist and cartoonist Pixie O'Harris) and moved to London to study art in March 1952, arriving when he was twenty two. The entertainer said that he got his first break in television in 1953, despite 'an appalling audition.' Rolf was given a five minute slot on a programme called Jigsaw, the jury was told, before he was signed by the BBC in 1954. He was asked about his musical background, telling the jury he had invented the wobbleboard in 1959 while coating a portrait painted on a piece of hardboard with turpentine. Harris also gave details of some of his musical recordings, singing a section of his song 'Jake the Peg' (with his extra leg) to the jury and demonstrating the sounds made by a didgeridoo. The jury heard how Rolf went on to become an MBE, CBE and OBE and was commissioned to paint a portrait of Her Majesty the Queen in 2005.

Ofcom has launched a major review of public service broadcasting, but will not seek to 'ask or answer questions' relating to the BBC that will be covered in the royal charter review, such as top-slicing the licence fee. Launching its third major review of the sector, Ofcom said it will look at 'new intermediaries which control platforms' – presumably firms such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple – 'including their control of potentially valuable direct relationships with audiences.' Ofcom said that 'new intermediaries' means any new platform, service or device that might 'sit between' a PSB and the audience. 'Examples might include smart-TVs, new on-demand streaming services, smartphones and games consoles,' said a spokeswoman. Channel Four will also come under particular scrutiny, with Ofcom to look 'in depth' at the competition provided from 'large, well-funded global media companies and a range of innovative online providers. Both offer compelling alternatives for the younger audiences that Channel Four seeks to appeal to,' said Ofcom. 'Will Channel Four be of sufficient scale to compete successfully and retain its younger audience?' Ofcom made it clear that it will not look to pre-empt the wide ranging review of the BBC that will be part of the royal charter renewal process, which is due to begin 'relatively shortly' and be put in place from 2017. 'We will not seek to ask or answer questions in relation to the BBC which are matters for the forthcoming charter review process,' said Ofcom. 'Our work on the BBC will focus on its role in the overall delivery of the public service broadcasting purposes and objectives, to establish both the contribution and impact of the BBC as part of the system of public service broadcasting.' For example, Ofcom said that it has 'no intention' of 'considering further additional work' into areas including 'top-slicing', a hot topic of debate in its last review. Ofcom said this matter was covered extensively in previous PSB reviews. An Ofcom spokeswoman said that the charter review is 'a matter for government.'

James May has suggested that he is buying a BMW i3 REx electric car. Truly, dear bog reader, we are living in The End Of Days. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's You & Yours on Bank Holiday Monday, the fifty one-year old Top Gear presenter not only admitted that he 'quite likes' electric cars but also said that he's going to buy one. 'We've known for a long time that the electric motor is the ideal way to propel an electric car,' he said. 'We're discovering that there's a different sort of pleasure in motoring in an electric car because of the smoothness, the silence.' Extolling the evolutionary jumps made in electric car technology since the heyday of the electric milk float twenty or thirty years ago, Mister Slowly said that electric cars are no-longer seen as the 'anti-car' and that modern electric car battery technology has made electric cars practical for the first time. James's interview - part of the same show chronicling a trip made a few weeks ago by the BBC reporter Samantha Fenwick - provided a balanced view of electric cars, from the different models available to some of the current issues surrounding unreliable charging infrastructure. Fenwick recently drove from Nissan's Sunderland factory in a Nissan LEAF to the company's technical centre in Bedfordshire. She experienced some major delays due to an Ecotricity Electric Highway DC quick charging station which failed to accept her RFID card. Fenwick, who was forced to wait several hours to be 'rescued' by another LEAF driver with a working RFID card, was eventually able to continue on the rest of her journey unimpeded, successfully using other Ecotricity Electric Highway DC quick charging points along the way. Talking about the challenges Fenwick faced, James admitted that the charging infrastructure is still the weakest point. 'In terms of technology, the electric car works perfectly well,' James said. 'The problem is still electricity, the difficulty in charging, the difficulty in storing it. You do still have to think ahead,' he concluded. 'I sort of want to be part of the "experiment." I don't know what the answer is — or if a car like the i3 is the long term future of the car,' James said. 'It's not that small. It's actually quite roomy inside. It's almost a small people carrier.' Having been part of the Top Gear team for many years — a show which has often criticised and made fun of those electric cars it has tested — James said it was, perhaps, time to go green. 'I talk about cars. I make a living out of doing that. I sort of feel obliged to,' he said of his BMW i3 purchase. Later in the show, James discussed range extended electric cars and said that he is buying the BMW i3 REx range-extended EV rather than the all-electric i3 EV. 'It's called a range extender,' he said of the i3 REx’s tiny petrol engine. 'It really ought to be branded "pure cowardice," because that's what it is and that's why I've got one,' he said. 'You don't have to use it and I will try not to use it. It's a bit like when I tell the doctor I'm not going to do any drinking or smoking but I will do a bit. I will try to use the electric car infrastructure as much as possible.' Of course, that isn't James's only car. 'It's a Ferrari,' he said on his other motor. Talking of a gradual transition from petrol to electric and a future where multiple different fuel options exist, James reiterated that the change from petrol to electric will be a little bit the change from horse-drawn carriage to cars in the first place. 'The real world is about money and a lot of people have to make ends meet,' he said. 'It sounds pompous I know, but electric cars are currently for the wealthy and electric cars will proliferate if they are made cheaper and more attractive. I really don't want anybody to think I'm buying an electric car so the Government is pleased with me. I couldn't care less,' he said. 'I'm buying an electric car because I'm thinking it's exciting and I'm in the fortunate position of being able to do it and take part in this rather interesting experiment.' As for improving electric cars for the future? Aside from the obvious points like price, range and charging capabilities, James says that car makers need to work harder to improve the on-board noise generators used to alert pedestrians to an electric car's presence. 'They kind of sound like vomiting robots,' he said. 'They could sound like bird chirps or snatches of Oasis riffs or something. They need to make a bit more effort.'

Thousands of people gathered in Gloucestershire on Bank Holiday Monday for the traditional cheese-rolling races on Cooper's Hill. The unofficial event was organised by 'rebel cheese rollers' (I'm not making this up, honest), after plans for an official event were shelved in 2010. An estimated five thousand people turned out to watch thrill-seekers chase a three and a half kilogramme wheel of Double Gloucester down the one-in-two gradient hill. In total, four eight pound and three smaller three pound cheeses are used - made by Diana Smart, aged eighty seven, who has been producing them for the event for more than twenty five years. Last year, in a bid to make the race safer, revellers had to chase a foam imitation of a Double Gloucester two hundred metres down the hill at Brockworth. But this year, the fake fromage was binned in favour of a real cheese. The winner of the first race, unemployed Josh Shepherd - from Brockworth - said that he was 'really proud' of himself. 'I've run quite a few times before but it is the first time I've won,' he said. 'My tactic was to stay on my feet and go as fast as I can and roll with the flow. But I don't know what I'm going to do with the cheese. I don't really like cheese unless it's melted, cheese on toast.' The second race was won by another local man, Ryan Fairley, from Brockworth, who said that his tactic was 'just to go. I didn't do the first race this year but it's absolutely brilliant to have won,' he added. 'I also won a cheese last year.' The women's race was won for the third year running by Lucy Townsend, aged seventeen, also from Brockworth. The tradition dates back to at least the early Nineteenth Century. In 2009, the official event was cancelled after more than fifteen thousand people turned up, sparking safety fears over numbers at the site. Every year since then unofficial races have been organised during the late spring bank holiday by local enthusiasts. This year, Gloucestershire County Council closed roads up to two and a half miles around the slope to keep disruption for residents to a minimum.

Mercedes team boss Niki Lauda says that he 'will talk' to whinging sour-faced child and bad loser Lewis Hamilton before the next F1 race in Canada to 'smooth over' the tense situation within the team. Whinging sour-faced child and bad loser Hamilton accused his team-mate, Nico Rosberg, of deliberately going off the Monaco track to stop him challenging for pole. 'Give him time,' Lauda said. 'I'll speak to him and I guarantee it will be fixed. If there are more issues I will call him and say "Lewis, come on." We're going to work it out in a nice way.' Hamilton finished second to Rosberg in Sunday's Grand Prix but, afterwards, was still clearly unhappy about the incident the previous day. He had a right lip on, so he did. During qualifying, Rosberg ran into the escape road at the Mirabeau corner and Hamilton, who was behind him on the track, had to slow down because there were caution flags. Hamilton said he believed that the lap he was on at that point would have been good enough to take pole from Rosberg. He did not directly accuse Rosberg of foul play in public - though he came about as close as it's possible to do without actually using those words - but Lauda admitted that he had done so in private. Rosberg was cleared of any wrongdoing by race stewards. Lauda said: 'They were arguing about whether Nico did it deliberately but the stewards cleared him, which is for me the most important thing, and Nico said: "No, I'm sorry, I braked too late", for which I have respect. And we had a race incident before in Barcelona [the previous race] where Lewis did something and then we said "Hey, this is not correct." And he said he was sorry. They're not children,' he added. Although Hamilton certainly appears to be. 'They're grown-up professionals who have their difficulties, but I will help them to overcome them in a nice way and they will understand.' Lauda said it was 'normal' for two team-mates who are competing for the championship to have a tense relationship, likening the situation to his own battle for the title in 1984 with Alain Prost when they were team-mates at McLaren and the Frenchman's later infamous fall-out with Ayrton Senna during the 1988-89 seasons. 'All I have to do is make sure it doesn't get out of hand,' Lauda said. 'I will tell you they will continue in a highly professional way, hard fighting each other. There is nothing more you can expect.' He added: 'The tension is building up, no question, but the team has to make sure the tension does not get out of hand and I know with my experience with other drivers in the past when it does get out of hand.'

The Rolling Stones returned to the stage on Monday for their first show since the death of Mick Jagger's girlfriend L'Wren Scott in March. Playing to a sold-out crowd of twenty three at Oslo's Telenor Arena, Mick did not mention Scott directly, but said he was 'happy' to be back on the stage. 'We first played Oslo in June 1965,' he said. 'We played nine songs - we've played more than that already!' 'Condensation literally ran down the walls,' said Swedish newspaper Goteborgs-Posten in its review. 'Despite all the years, the size of the arena and the giant video screens, The Rolling Stones are still that little blues-rock band from the clubs in London,' said writer Johan Lindqvist. Tabloid newspaper Dagbladet also praised the band's 'scrawny and seedy' performance, saying the Stones sounded like 'a garage rock band coming straight out of the rehearsal room. It's rock and roll and we like it.' 'The whole band sounded hungry,' agreed Hakan Steen in Aftonbladet. Mick Jagger was 'hungry and on tiptoe, with light-footed dance steps,' he added, concluding: 'This should not be expected of a man who is soon to turn seventy one.' In March, The Stones interrupted their tour and later rescheduled all their Australia and New Zealand tour dates following the news that Scott - Jagger's partner since 2001 - had committed suicide. Jagger said on his website just after her death that he was 'struggling to understand how my lover and best friend could end her life in this tragic way.' Some reviewers said that, although he did not mention the tragedy on stage in Oslo, it loaned a poignancy to songs like 'Worried About You' and 'Miss You'. The band spent a week in the Norwegian capital rehearsing for their comeback at Filmparken, a film studio complex in the suburbs. A dress rehearsal also took place at the Telenor arena on Saturday, attended by the E Street Band's Steve Van Zandt - who was in town filming the Netflix series Lilyhammer. 'They sounded absolutely stunning,' Little Stevie told Dagbladet. 'I'd rather not reveal too much, but let me just say one thing: I have never heard them better.' Although Van Zandt was pictured backstage with Keith Richards on Monday night, the guitarist did not take to the stage during the show. The set was broadly similar to the Stones' fiftieth anniversary shows last year, but included a couple of rarities, including 'Can't Be Seen' and 'You Got The Silver', both with Keith Richards on vocals. Fans were also given the opportunity to vote for a song before the show. Jagger told the audience the favourite suggestion had been A-Ha's 'Take On Me', but it was too high pitched for him to sing. Instead, the band launched into 'Let's Spend the Night Together', which they have not played live since 2007. The Fourteen On Fire tour continues in Portugal on Thursday, where the band headline the Rock In Rio festival. Concerts in Switzerland, Israel and the Netherlands follow, while the rescheduled Australian and New Zealand dates beginning in Adelaide on 25 October.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, here's a tasty slab of Revenge.

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