Sunday, June 08, 2014

Week Twenty Five: Come All Ye Minstrels

The Doctor Who production team have been filming at the Maelfa Shopping Centre, Llanedeyrn in Cardiff this week. As this picture of yer actual Jenna Coleman her very self proves.
And then, of course, because they were in Britain, it started to rain!
BBC America, meanwhile, has released a still from the series eight teaser trailer heralding the return of Doctor Who to US screens this August. The image shows yer actual Peter Capaldi silhouetted inside the TARDIS console room as explosions rage behind him. Glimpses of the scene were shown in the teaser released in the UK on 23 May, when the month - if not the actual date - of the show's return was first announced.
The official Doctor Who Walking Tours, run by the official Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff are, officially, back for their 2014 season. The tours operate every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Saturday 14 June until Sunday 20 July. The tour was created by the Doctor Who novelist and script editor - and yer actual Keith Telly Topping dear old chum - Gary Russell his very self. It lasts roughly an hour and visits over thirty-one locations featured in the filming of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama. These include the building where The Weeping Angels watched Sally Sparrow and the Police Station used in the episode Blink, the American-style diner in which River Song, Amy and Rory met The Doctor in The Impossible Astronaut and the Wales Millennium Centre, where scene from episodes as diverse as The Girl Who Waited, The Sound Of Drums and Vincent And The Doctor were filmed. Tickets for the walking tours will be on sale from 12pm on Wednesday 11 June from this website priced thirteen smackers for adults and nine quid for children of sixteen or younger.

The latest three episodes of Qi into production were Literature, Love and Lies. The former, which was filmed on Tuesday, will feature the divine Victoria Coren Mitchell, first-timer the Welsh comedian Lloyd Langford and, sadly, that wretched unfunny lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall. Love will see the second appearance of the series by Aisling Bea alongside Tony Hawks and Josh Widdicombe whilst Lies features the Qi début of the excellent Adam Hills, a welcome return for the lovely Sara Pascoe and, again, tragically, that odious waste-of-space Whitehall bloke. Why the hell does anybody in television continue to give this twattish, full-of-his-own-importance pillock so much as a second of screentime, let alone two episodes of this blogger's favourite panel show? It's a question yer actual Keith Telly Topping would really like to ask someone who is, you know, in charge of things like that. The final three episode of the L series will be produced next week.

Britain's Got Toilets earned more than ten million overnight viewers for this year's grand finale on ITV on Saturday. The last in the current series - which, apparently, saw the operatic boy band Collabro crowned winners and getting two hundred and fifty thousand notes and a gig a'fore Her Maj - attracted 10.32m punters. England's friendly against Honduras, which was interrupted midway through the first half by an electrical storm, averaged 5.18m. The latest episode of Casualty was watched by 3.55m from 9.20pm on BBC1. Earlier in the evening, Pointless Celebrities and The National Lottery: In It to Win It entertained 2.74m and 2.69m respectively. Elsewhere, BBC2 broadcast repeats of Yes, Prime Minister (seven hundred and forty thousand), I ♥ 1980 (1.08m), French and Saunders (1.01m) and That Bloody Wretched Unfunny Victoria Wood Woman As Seen Far Too Often In My Opinion On TV (nine hundred and twenty one thousand). On Channel Four, Restoration Man was watched by four hundred and sixty four thousand from 7pm. It was followed by Grand Designs (four hundred and sixty five thousand) and the 2009 film My Sister's Keeper (five hundred and ninety five thousand). Channel Five's two NCIS episodes earned four hundred and sixty nine thousand and six hundred and seven thousand respectively. On the multichannels, a - really rather fine - episode of Wallander was seen by seven hundred and twenty five thousand on BBC4 from 9pm.

On the day that a nation remembered the tremendous sacrifices made by millions of brave men and women seventy years previously, Channel Five was, as you'd expect from a network owned by a soft-core pornographer, doing its best to shovel the collective intellect of today's Great Britain down the nearest lavatory. Big Brother: Power Trip's second live launch show peaked with 1.67 million on Friday evening. An average audience of 1.56 million tuned-in to watch another batch of slack-jawed, fame hungry  attention junkie housemates 'enter the compound' from 9pm. This, dear blog reader, is the reality of life in 2014. Shame on you, Great Britain, shame on you. The ONE Show kicked off BBC1's evening with 2.68 million at 7.30pm, while a repeated episode of the period police drama Inspector George Gently entertained 2.59 million at 8.30pm. With guests including Amanda Holden and Michael Sheen, The Graham Norton Show was the evening's highest-rated show outside of soaps, attracting 3.11 million viewers at 10.35pm. Over on ITV, the channel's tribute to Michelle Keegan drew an audience of but 2.78 million at 8pm. Farewell Tina included interviews with Coronation Street cast members, home-video footage and a behind-the-scenes look at her final scenes. Soccer Aid 2014: The Countdown had an audience of 1.42 million after the evening's second visit to Weatherfield at 9pm. The Great British Menu kicked off BBC2's evening with a ratings high of 1.43 million at 7.30pm. It was followed by 1.57 million for D-Day Seventy: The Heroes Return at 8pm, 1.97 million for Gardener's World and 1.42 million for Normandy '44: The Battle Beyond D-Day. Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown was Channel Four's highest-rated show of the night, being watched by 1.64 million punters at 9pm. It was sandwiched in the middle of Celebrity Fifteen To One and Alan Carr: Chatty Man, which drew 1.12 million and 1.13 million respectively.

Big Brother premiered for its 2014 series with two million sick, sad, voyeuristic crushed victims of society on Channel Five on Thursday, according to overnight figures. The launch night attracted 2.03m from 9pm - drawing similar numbers to last year's Big Brother premiere. The finale of BBC1's From There To Here attracted 3.18m in the 9pm hour. Earlier, Food Inspectors had 2.29m. On BBC2, Great British Menu was watched by 1.74m from 7pm before Springwatch managed 2.11m. Springwatch Unsprung was shown between 9pm and 9.30pm to 1.29m and Burning Desire: The Seduction Of Smoking had five hundred and forty one thousand. ITV's Life Of Ryan: Caretaker Manager - which focused on Ryan Giggs's four matches in charge of The Scum - appealed to 1.73m from 9pm. And, all of those were in Essex. Elsewhere, Channel Four's Comedy Gala averaged 1.63m between 9pm and 11.40pm. it would have had more but it had James Corden in it. And Paddy McGuinness. On the multichannels, The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother entertained 1.32m and seven hundred and sixty thousand punters from 8pm and 8.30pm respectively on E4. BBC4's How The Wild West Was Won With Ray Mears took nine hundred and thirty thousand from 9pm.

Susanna Reid is reported to be 'worried' that the - very amusing - failure of ITV's latest breakfast TV fiasco Good Morning Britain may 'damage her career.' Oh dear. How really very sad. Post-apocalyptic zombie nightmare. And that. An alleged 'source' allegedly told the Sun: 'Susanna is not happy with how things are going as she is the figurehead of the show and fears her name is on the line.' And, we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for her? ITV recently denied rumours that the show could be axed after just two months.
British television drama needs to stop taking its cues from America and reflect more of the country in which it is made, according to Sally Wainwright, writer of the BBC1 crime drama Happy Valley. 'A lot of British TV now is trying to be cool and what a lot of people feel is cool is American,' Wainwright says in an interview with the Gruniad Morning Star, in which she also discusses Happy Valley's violence, a potential second series and a more brutal alternative ending to the show. 'Rather than trying to be British and look like British television and make British places look cool, they just want to be American.' She gives the British detective drama Luther, starring Idris Elba, as an example. 'I can't believe in the procedure, I don't believe what they're doing.' Wainwright's use of British police procedure in Happy Valley came as 'an absolute novelty and shock' because many British police dramas follow the US model of policing, said the screenwriter, who also created Scott & Bailey, now shooting its fourth series for ITV. 'I don't know whether it's because writers don't do their own research and just reflect what they see on telly. Most cop drama they see is American and they want to be like The Wire or whatever,' she said. As well as using the Calder Valley of West Yorkshire as a backdrop for her dark and violent tale of a bungled kidnap, which drew to a close on BBC1 this week, Wainwright also makes use of the striking Yorkshire countryside in her other hit BBC1 show, Last Tango In Halifax, for which she is currently writing a third series. The writer, who was born in Halifax and attended York University, says that the Yorkshire setting allows her to create a sense of place and authenticity on screen, which draws viewers into her world. 'That's why a lot of American telly affects people, because it has an authenticity,' says Wainwright, who counts American shows such as Nurse Jackie among her favourite programmes. 'I think that's why Happy Valley has been so successful: it has an authentic feel to it. Surely Breaking Bad has this authentic feel – you absolutely believe this world exists.' By contrast, Wainwright argues, a desire to be something other than British makes some home grown dramas difficult to watch. 'I feel like a lot of [British] cop drama is very misogynistic. It's an instant turn-off for me.' Happy Valley has been one of the BBC's biggest new drama successes this year, regularly pulling in over six million viewers and garnering rave reviews for the performance of Sarah Lancashire in the lead role. Plus, it seemed to piss off the Daily Scum Mail over its strong violence. So, double bonus. Wainwright says that she enjoys writing for women. 'I find women more interesting. They're more heroic. The banality of the day-to-day; the reality of it; coping with the problems on a daily basis. Women seem to have more to deal with.' British drama can still be nationally and internationally successful while retaining its own identity, insists Wainwright, pointing to Russell Davies's reinvention of Doctor Who. 'What I loved about it was that it was British. He didn't try and make it American. It was sci-fi and it was sexy and it was cool, but he made a real point of it being British,' she argues. Responding to critics of the violence in Happy Valley, Wainwright claimed that it had been 'responsibly done' because it showed the reality of violence. 'It is not just smack your head against the wall and you can jump up five seconds later.'

Michael Gambon and Keeley Hawes are to star in BBC1's forthcoming adaptation of JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. Rory Kinnear, Monica Dolan and Julia McKenzie will also appear in the mini-series, based on Rowling's 2012 novel. The Casual Vacancy centres on Pagford, a seemingly idyllic English village. Behind the pretty façade, however, is 'a town at war.' Gambon will play Howard Mollison, owner of the Pagford delicatessen, with McKenzie playing his wife, Shirley. Howard's son, Miles, is being played by Rufus Jones with his wife, Samantha Mollison, is the role which has gone to Keeley Hawes. Rory Kinnear is cast as Barry Fairbrother, while Monica Dolan will play Tess Wall. Also among the cast of the three-parter are Keeley Forsyth, newcomer Abigail Lawrie, Simon McBurney, Richard Glover, Marie Critchley and Michelle Austin. Production on The Casual Vacancy - co-produced by BBC1 in association with HBO - will commence on 7 July in the South West of England. Sarah Phelps has adapted Rowling's novel for television, while Jonny Campbell will direct.

The writer of the BBC drama Quirke has admitted to watching the series with the subtitles on after his wife complained that she could not hear the dialogue. 'I could hear it because I knew what the words were,' Andrew Davies, best known for his hit adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, told the Radio Times. But his wife, Diana, apparently couldn't. 'She said, "Do you mind if we have the subtitles on?"' he said. The BBC reportedly received two hundred and forty three complaints after the show's first episode on 25 May. Which is two hundred and forty three more than the Irish broadcaster RTE received when they broadcast the drama in February of this year. So, once again, we have to ask the question is it that Irish people have better hearing than the British or is it just that they don't whinge as much? Or, indeed, a bit of both? 'It's a funny thing, mumbling,' Davies told Radio Times. 'It's a bit to do with actors, a bit do with with modern, flat-screen televisions and both my wife and I are of an age where our hearing is beginning to go.' He added that there was 'often a problem with the people in production' who already know the script. 'When you know what the lines are, there's a tendency to think you've heard them all right,' said Davies. 'Whereas if you didn't know the thing, maybe you wouldn't.' Following the initial whinging, a spokeswoman for the BBC said: 'A wide range of factors can influence audibility and we will continue to work with the industry on this important subject.' Based on the novels by Booker Prize-winning author John Banville, Quirke stars Gabriel Byrne in the title role as a Dublin pathologist. The noir series, set in the 1950s, also stars Michael Gambon, Geraldine Somerville and Colin Morgan. A second series remains in the balance, according to Davies. 'I hope it'll be on again. I'm not sure whether I'd be writing it. We'll have to see what happens.'

Which brings us to the next batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 14 June
Tonight's big match at the World Cup is England versus Italy (kick-off 11.00pm). The BBC has the rights to watch Roy Hodgson's men getting their World Cup Group D campaign under way at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus. The sides also met in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012, when the Italians were largely dominant throughout (for which read 'England barely got the ball out of their own half'). The match ended 0-0, with the Azzurri progressing on penalties when, as usual, England proved unable to hit a sodding barn door from twelve yards. The teams faced each other again two months after that in a friendly, when England won 2-1, but both sides were far from full-strength. Since then, England have qualified for this tournament in a competent, if unspectacular, manner winning six and drawing four of their ten fixtures and introducing several potentially exciting younger players to replace under-performing members of the so-called 'Golden Generation' who, despite earning millions of quid each year in the Premier League, never did nothing except disappoint at intentional level. Meanwhile, Italy - with Pirlo still turning his tricks - also earned six victories and four draws from their qualifiers and finished ahead of nearest challengers Denmark by six points. Both teams' qualifying campaigns - which were, effectively, rebuilding processes - will give them hope of improving on desperately poor showings at the 2010 World Cup. England were, of course, embarrassingly thrashed 4-1 by Germany in the last sixteen, while the Italians didn't even get that far, failing dismally with an ageing side in defence of the trophy they won in 2006, going out at the group stage without a win and only drawing with Paraguay and New Zealand. The BBC's coverage is presented by Gary Lineker, with commentary by Guy Mowbray and Phil Neville.

Earlier, there's Uruguay versus Costa Rica (kick-off 8.00pm). Sadly, the coverage of the opening Group D match for both nations, which takes place at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza, is on ITV. So, it'll be crap, as always. While England will be busy preparing for their opening fixture, fans will have one eye on this encounter given that it features the other two teams in their group. Uruguay have been among the top ten nations in the FIFA rankings for some time, and while they begin as favourites to succeed here, they will need to perform better than they did in the qualifying campaign. Having finished fifth in the CONMEBOL group behind Ecuador, they secured their place in the tournament via a two-legged inter-confederation play-off against the might of Jordan and thus avoided what would have been an embarrassing upset. Much will depend on whether their talisman, Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws' filthy little cheat Luis Suarez, is fit. Because, without him, they're not even half as effective an outfit (if that). Costa Rica are one of four nations to have qualified from the CONCACAF region, joining the USA, Honduras and Mexico and this will be their fourth appearance at a World Cup finals. In eight previous fixtures against Uruguay they have never recorded a victory, losing six times and drawing twice, with the most recent clash ending in a 1-1 draw in 2009. The coverage will be presented - incompetently, as usual - by the odious greed bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles, with commentary by Clive Tyldesley and the truly worthless Andy Townsend. Who know's nothing.

If you don't fancy the football, there's Wallander - 9:00 BBC4. A young offender who served five years behind bars for aggravated arson is released from prison, and takes up residence with his concerned sister and her farmer husband, who makes it clear the lad is unwelcome in his home. Natural conclusions are drawn when the ex-con's arrival coincides with a devastating fire on the farm. As Kurt and the Ystad team investigate, it seems everyone in the village is complicit in their desire for revenge. Swedish drama, starring Krister Henriksson.

Sunday 15 June
France versus Honduras (BBC1 - kick-off 8.00pm) is the opening World Cup Group E match for both sides, which takes place at the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre. Didier Deschamps' French squad were the envy of many nations when they were handed arguably the easiest group from which to progress, having only narrowly qualified for the tournament following their play-off victory over Ukraine, which saw them spectacularly overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit to reach their fifth successive finals. With Switzerland and Ecuador the other sides involved in the group, France will expect their star-studded squad - Mathieu Debuchy, Laurent Koscielny, Bacary Sagna, Yohan Cabaye, Paul Pogba, Moussa Sissoko, Remy Cabella, Karim Benzema, Olivier Giroud, Loïc et al Rémy - to finish top and reach the last sixteen, where they may also be handed a favourable draw against a team from Group F. However, the Central Americans will be looking to add to Les Bleus' poor recent record in major tournaments which, 2006 apart, has seen them struggle ever since their golden period in the late nineties in this, the first competitive meeting between the two countries. Presented by Gary Lineker, with commentary by Jonathan Pearce and the ugliest man in football, Martin Keown.

Germany versus Portugal (kick-off 5.00pm) gets Group G under way with this clash between two highly fancied European sides at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador. Ze Chermans have not won the World Cup since 1990 - which is funny, let's be fair - but have been a consistent force in recent stagings of the competition, losing to Brazil in the 2002 final before finishing third in both 2006 and 2010. They are also expected to be major contenders this time around, having qualified with nine wins and a draw from their ten group matches. In contrast, Portugal toiled in their efforts to make the finals, before eventually booking their place by defeating Sweden 4-2 on aggregate in the play-offs, with all of their goals in the tie scored by Cristiano Ronaldo. The last World Cup meeting between the sides was in the 2006 third-place play-off, when Germany recorded a 3-1 win to end their home tournament on a minor high. Since then, they have also claimed one-goal victories over the Portuguese in the group stages of the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, but the formidable presence of Ronaldo alone (if he's not injured) will ensure they do not underestimate their opponents. Incidentally, stay watching to the very end of the match to see if the Portuguese number eight swaps shirts with the German number sixteen. If they do, it'll be the first time in a while you've probably seen Moutinho dressed as Lahm. Hey, come on, you won't get anything better than that from Adrian Chiles.

Mock The Week returns for its thirteenth season - 10:00 BBC2 - as host Dara O Briain once again asks panellists to take an irreverent look at world events, with the World Cup, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and September's referendum on Scottish independence all possible targets for satirical comment. Regulars Hugh Dennis and Andy Parsons are joined on the first edition by comedians Ed Byrne, Milton Jones, Romesh Ranganathan and this week's token woman, Katherine Ryan, for a series of stand-up spots and improvised games.

Detectives Robbie Lewis and James Hathaway investigate the murder of an Oxford don in a story that involves a lot of boxing and even more Wagner in Lewis - 10:00 ITV3. The victim was a fan of the composer and also liked to watch semi-clad young men slug it out in illegal bare-knuckle fights. It's a twisty tale that jumps about in various directions before settling on a path that leads to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the activities of the notorious East German police, the Stasi with fine guest performances from the likes of Tom Goodman-Hill and Cheryl Campbell. Along the way, Lewis (the always excellent Kevin Whately) gets nostalgic when he's reminded of his old mentor Morse, and once more makes eyes at a totally unsuitable woman – this, of course, being an episode from a time before he made a love match with the dependable Laura (Clare Holman).

Monday 16 June
Iran versus Nigeria (kick-off 8.00pm) is the first of a veritable all-nighter for footie fans on BBC1. Gary Lineker his very self presents coverage of the World Cup clash at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, where the teams play their first match in Group F. This is only the second-ever meeting between these nations and the first at a World Cup. Both will see this as an ideal opportunity to start the tournament with a positive result ahead of fixtures against Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina. While many may not think of Iran as a top class footballing nation this is their fourth appearance at a World Cup finals. However, The Scum's former assistant manager, Carlos Queiroz, will have to utilise all of his knowledge and experience in Brazil if he is to help improve their record at the finals, as they have only ever won one match (albeit that, amusingly, was against the USA) and their overall record includes six losses in nine contests. They did draw with Scotland once as well. That was funny. Nigeria can boast a slightly stronger World Cup pedigree, having made it to a fifth tournament since USA '94, after topping their qualification group with three wins and three draws before overcoming Ethiopia in a two-legged play-off. Although you have to wonder about any nation which reckons Shola Ameobi is worthy of playing in the World Cup finals. With commentary from Steve Bower and Kevin Kilbane. Later, after the news, there's Ghana versus USA (kick-off 11.00pm) from the Estadio das Dunas in Natal, as the Group G rivals get their campaigns under way. With Germany and Portugal - possibly minus Ronaldo - also in this group, these teams are clearly the underdogs in the quest to reach the last sixteen. But, there is no doubt they have the quality to cause an upset, and three points here would be a major boost to their chances. By a strange quirk of fate, this is the third consecutive World Cup finals that these two nations have been drawn together and Ghana will take confidence from the previous two meetings, both of which they won 2-1 over Jürgen Ze Cherman's starts in stripes. Their fixture four years ago was in the last sixteen and went to extra-time with The Black Stars progressing to their controversial quarter-final defeat to Uruguay. Qualification for both sides this time around proved relatively straightforward, with Ghana winning five of their six group matches before thrashing Egypt in the play-offs. The Yankie Doodle Dandies won their final qualifying group to reach a seventh consecutive finals. With commentary by Guy Mowbray and Robbie Savage.

With the benefits system undergoing a radical overhaul, many claimants feel that life is getting tougher than ever before. The documentary Benefits Britain: Life on the Dole - 9:00 Channel Five - examines the lives of people on the dole in the UK, beginning in the Norfolk seaside town of Great Yarmouth. Leona and Lee worry about their three-month-old daughter's future when their payments are cut because they failed to fill in the correct forms, while Jordan McDonald has his benefits halved after the Job Centre discovers he has not attended a government work programme.

In a typical week at the University Dental Hospital of Manchester, staff tackle a vast array of problems, from broken tooth emergencies to facial reconstruction surgery. The Dentists - 9:00 ITV - goes behind the scenes as Kirsty Woodmason experiences a busy afternoon pulling children's teeth. And colleague Martin Ashley fits James's implants, giving his patient the smile he has been longing for after sixty three appointments. Meanwhile, years of neglect and fear take their toll on Danielle, twenty five, as her bad teeth are extracted ahead of her wedding day. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's dentist, incidentally, is lovely. he said remembering that he's got an appointment coming up in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday 17 June
It's another World Cup double-header on BBC1 tonight starting with Brazil versus Mexico (kick-off 8.00pm). This is the second World Cup Group A match for both sides, which takes place at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza. While the hosts will have been relatively content when December's draw handed them this clash along with fixtures against Croatia and Cameroon, there is little doubt that behind the scenes they will have a certain amount of apprehension about facing the Mexies. Few countries in world football can claim as impressive a record against Brazil as Mexico, with the results between the two in recent years being remarkably even and the Central Americans actually holding the slight edge. However, when it has really mattered in their meetings, the Brazilians have invariably come out on top, as they did last year in their successful Confederations Cup campaign, and also on the only two occasions that they have met in World Cup finals, in 1950 and 1954. Just don't mention to Olympic final, they're a bit touchy about that. Whether the pressure will get to the host nation more, or to Mexico, may well have a major bearing on whether anything can deflect The Samba Boys from their expected finish at the top of the group, although any side progressing to the last sixteen is likely to face a major test of their credentials against a team from Group B. Still, when all is said and done, Paulinho, Willian, Oscar, Luiz Gustavo, Fernandinho, Neymar, Fred, Hulk et al. Potentially mouthwatering, isn't it? They're yer actual Keith Telly Topping's - somewhat obvious - tip for the cup, if you're interested. Coverage is presented by Gary Lineker his very self, with commentary by Jonathan Pearce and Mark Lawrenson. Then, later, there's Russia versus South Korea (kick-off 11.00pm) at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba. Both of these nations came through qualifying at the first time of asking without the need of a play-off match, but were drawn in a tricky group which also contains the highly fancied Belgians and Algeria, who faced each other earlier today (you can see that one on ITV). Russia's head coach Fabio Capello was, of course, in charge of England for the previous World Cup in South Africa - and my, didn't that go well - but having endured a torrid tournament on that occasion Fabio will be hoping his current charges can perform better this time around. At least he's not saddled with Emile Heskey, so that's a bonus. This is only the third appearance for Russia at the finals since the split of the USSR and their first since it was held in Japan and South Korea in 2002, though they are already assured of a place in 2018 as hosts. In contrast, this will be the eighth World Cup in succession for the Koreans, and their ninth overall, but aside from their fourth-placed finish in 2002 when they were co-hosts (and controversial winners over both Italy and Spain), they have only progressed to the knock-out stage on one occasion, when they reached the last sixteen in 2010 but were beaten by Uruguay. Mark Chapman takes over the presentation duties as Gary goes off for a well deserved kip.

Group H gets under way with Belgium versus Algeria (ITV, kick-off 5.00pm) at Belo Horizonte. The Belgians look to live up to their billing as one of the real dark horses for success. Marc Wilmots' squad have shot to prominence in recent years due to the remarkable array of talent which has developed in the country, including the likes of Premier League stars Vincent Kompany, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini, making them potentially one of the leading outfits in Europe. They also qualified in style without losing a match, and with one of the tightest defences, but this represents something of a step into the unknown for The Red Devils, as their last appearance in a World Cup finals was twelve years ago when the terrific Wilmots' was still playing for them and their only European Championship experience since 1984 came through co-hosting the tournament with the Netherlands in 2000. Algeria came to global prominence in the 1980s, but went through a lean patch that saw them miss out on five consecutive finals until they qualified four years ago. England fans will have bitter memories of the drab and wretched goalless draw played out between the nations in the group stage in Cape Town.

British folk art has been largely ignored for centuries, but in June the first national exhibition to reflect on the tradition opened at Tate Britain, running until the end of August. In The Culture Show - 10:00 BBC2 - artists Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane get a preview of the show which features pieces created by self-taught artists and artisans, and offer their own take on what folk art is. In their quest to demonstrate that it can be found everywhere, they examine everything from Blackpool promenade to customised motorbikes and from shop signs to street parades.

Following the discovery of The Chesapeake Ripper's lair, the revelation that Miriam Lass is alive gives Will Graham his best chance yet of proving Lecter is the killer in Hannibal - 10:00 Sky Living. His optimism is short-lived, however, as it becomes clear that Miriam has been subjected to intense psychological manipulation, meaning she's unable to provide Jack Crawford reliable information. Unsure what Lecter's next move will be, Will warns Chilton to sleep with one eye open. With Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas, Laurence Fishburne, Raul Esparza and Anna Chlumsky.

Struggling music venue the Lockjaw Club goes up in flames during a performance by controversial hardcore band White Rising, leaving three people dead inside the club and one trampled to death outside in the latest episode of CSI - 9:00 Channel Five. Robbins discovers that one of the victims had been strangled to death before the blaze and dumped on the dance floor, while Greg finds evidence that the door to the only other exit had been blocked by a car parked against it. Guest starring John Ratzenberger.

Wednesday 18 June
Spain versus Chile (BBC1 kick-off 8.00pm) is the big World Cup game tonight. Group B continues this evening with this intriguing fixture at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, as both sides play their second match. While Spain will clearly start as favourites given their recent outstanding record on the international scene and the depth of talent available to them in their squad - Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Javi Martinez, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta, Koke, Busquets, Santi Cazorla, Cesc Fabregas, Juan Mata, David Silva, Diego Costa, David Villa, Fernando Torres - this is by no means the foregone conclusion that some may expect. Chile are one the most improved nations in recent years and they won as many matches as anyone in the South American qualifiers, although it must be noted that their record away from home left a lot to be desired, with their only away wins in reaching the finals coming against teams that failed to qualify. Coach Jorge Sampaoli can call upon players of the quality of Alexis Sanchez, who is likely to come up against several of his Barcelona team-mates this evening. And, remember, they taught England something of a footballing lesson in the friendly between the sides at Wembley Stadium last November. This is the eleventh meeting between these two and Chile have still to record a victory, with two of their defeats coming in the World Cups of 1950 and 2010. Presented by Gary Lineker, with commentary by Simon Brotherton and Danny Murphy. Cameroon versus Croatia follows on ITV afterwards for all insomniacs.

Earlier, though tragically on ITV, there's Australia versus The Netherlands (kick-off 5.00pm) from Porto Alegre. This intriguing clash is a difficult one to call, as the Oranj have never beaten the Socceroos in their three meetings to date, although none of those have been in competitive matches. But the 2010 runners-up will still start as favourites to claim three points in a tough group which also features Chile and Spain. Whilst the Netherlands impressed many in reaching the final four years ago - including this blogger who had a tenner on them to win the damn thing - they suffered a major setback at Euro 2012 when they were, once again, handed a difficult group and, after reverting to type and arguing among each other, lost each of their matches by the odd goal to Denmark, Germany and Portugal to exit at the earliest stage possible. Their results in qualifying for this tournament would seem to suggest they are still a force to be reckoned with, as they won nine and drew one of their ten fixtures and any squad containing the likes of Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder can never be dismissed from the reckoning. Although reports of a pre-tournament injury to Robben means it could be difficult for the Dutchies to pass on the left hand side. No, listen, I'm here all month.

Pucks! is finally pulled from the schedule and although it is not officially cancelled, the writing is clearly on the wall for the hockey comedy in Episodes - 10:00 BBC2. Everyone reacts in different ways, with Sean in denial, Beverly mentally packing her bags and Matt finding solace in the arms of a nineteen-year-old superfan. Comedy, starring Matt LeBlanc, Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig and Matt LeBlanc.
The Coast Australia team explores the state of Victoria - 9:10 BBc2 - with Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) meeting residents of Melbourne's historic beach huts and exploring the beacon at Cape Otway that helped give birth to a nation. Xanthe Mallett examines the mystery behind a shipwreck that marked the end of an era, while Brendan Moar learns about the challenges of building the Great Ocean Road in the 1920s. Tim Flannery scours the waters of Port Philip Bay for evidence of an ancient giant marine creature and Miriam Corowa discovers why the coast at Bells Beach produces perfect waves for surfing.

Thursday 19 June
Gregg Wallace and John Torode invite another five famous faces (or, you know, sometimes not even remotely famous) to step into the kitchen and take on the Celebrity MasterChef culinary contest - 9:00 BBC1. The z-list celebrity cooks are former JLS singer JB Gill (no, me neither), actress Amanda Burton, pain in the neck Reg Holdsworth, Big Brother contestant-turned-TV presenter Alison Hammond and EastEnders Honey Mitchell. Their aim is to make it to the end of tomorrow's show in the top two, but first they have several tasks to complete, which include making a burger from the ingredients in the mystery box - without, hopefully, giving John and Gregg food poisoning - and splitting into two groups for a restaurant challenge. After a final test of culinary creativity, one of the hopefuls is sent home.

Peter Powell presents an edition of Top Of The Pops - 7:30 BBC4 - first broadcast on 28 June 1979. Featuring performances by Thom Pace, Janet Kay, Thin Lizzy, Bonnie Tyler, Squeeze, Chas & Dave, Tubeway Army, Quantum Jump, The UK Subs, Lene Lovich and Gerry Rafferty. Plus, dance sequences by Legs & Co.

However, never mind about all that, what the majority of the country will be watching is Uruguay versus England (kick-off 8.00pm) on ITV, featuring all the action from the eagerly awaited Group D fixture at the Arena de Sao Paulo. While this may not officially be 'The Group Of Death', the draw in December did little to breathe life into England's campaign, as Roy Hodgson's men were handed this tricky clash with the South Americans to follow their opener against Italy. While Uruguay struggled in qualifying and needed a play-off to make it through, they will still be regarded as one of the favourites due to their outstanding strike-force, which includes Edinson Cavani, Diego Forlan and that filthy little cheat Luis Suarez. The injury-hit Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws' striker will no doubt attract the greatest attention ahead of this fixture, having proven a controversial character in his time at Anfield, for whom he was in outstanding form last season. I mean, he only threw himself down pretending to have been tripped ... what, half-a-dozen times. Per game. Suarez was, of course, at the centre of one of the most memorable moments of the last World Cup, when his last-minute handball on the line against Ghana resulted in his dismissal, although the subsequent penalty miss by Asamoah Gyan saw the match go to a shoot-out which Uruguay won to become the only South American representative in the semi-finals. Should Hodgson need to take comfort from history, he can at least look back to the successful 1966 World Cup finals, which saw England face Uruguay in the group stage before going on to win the tournament. Although most of the players who lined up for England on that day are unlikely to feature here. Coverage is presented by the wretched horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles, with commentary by the equally wretched Clive Tyldesley and the worthless and wretched Andy Townsend. Analysis comes from Glenn Hoddle, Lee Dixon and Ian Wright. There aren't enough words to describe how truly, annoyingly wretched the latter is. For those planning an all-nighter, Japan versus Greece is on BBC1 immediately afterwards.

Friday 20 June
Switzerland versus France (kick-off 8.00pm) is the first of ITV's two games tonight. Coverage of both teams' second Group E encounter, which comes from the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador. The sides last met in the 2006 staging of this competition when they drew a group match 0-0, having also drawn both meetings when they met in the qualifying stage of the competition. With a host of established Premier League players among their ranks, as well as Paris Sta Germain's Yohan Cabaye and the Real Madrid star Karim Benzema, the French will expect to have enough quality in their side to claim a victory on this occasion and help banish memories of a miserable campaign four years ago. However, the Swiss produced arguably the biggest upset of the 2010 World Cup when they defeated the eventual champions Spain 1-0 in their opening match thanks to a goal by former Sheikh Yer Man City midfielder Gelson Fernandes and are typically a difficult outfit to break down. Many of us still shudder at the memory of their game against Ukraine in the 2006 tournament, one of the most boring matches of football in history which just went on and on and on (and on, through extra time and into penalties). God, it was horrible. That's followed by Honduras versus Ecuador (kick-off 11.00pm). These nations first faced each other in a friendly in 1984 and although this encounter will be the fourteenth time they have met overall, it is their first clash at a major tournament. The most recent contest was a friendly staged in Houston last November and ended in a 2-2 draw courtesy of a late equaliser from Ecuador's Enner Valencia, after both sides were reduced to ten men. While this was seen as one of the weaker groups prior to the tournament, it also appeared to be wide open, with France having performed badly at major tournaments in the last decade and Switzerland rarely progressing beyond the group stage in any competition they qualify for. With those nations having met earlier, this contest could prove crucial to both teams as they look to reach the knockout stage, something that Ecuador have done once at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but Honduras have yet to achieve. Presented by ITV's b-team, led by Matt Smith (no, the other one), with commentary by Joe Speight and Lee Dixon and analysis by Gordon Strachan, Andros Townsend and Gus Poyet.

Tony Hill wakes up in hospital after being hit on the head by a murderer he's just helped to catch - and discovers that he is suffering from a brain tumour which is dramatically affecting his behaviour in the classic, Synchronicity, the series three finale of From The North favourite Wire In The Blood - 10:00 ITV3. Meanwhile, a spate of apparently random shootings spreads terror throughout Bradfield and Carol Jordan comes under increasing pressure to bring the nasty sniper responsible to cruel, ad hoc justice. How can she possibly do it without her profiler who is currently hallucinating that he and she once spent a romantic weekend in Paris? Wor Geet Canny Robson Green, Hermione Norris (making her final appearance in the drama) and Emma Handy star.

Frank Skinner, Hilary Devey and Dave Gorman are among the fifteen well-known faces competing to win a large cash prize for charity in Celebrity Fifteen To One - 9:00 Channel Four - nominating each other to answer questions until only the winner is left standing. Adam Hills hosts the penultimate edition of the notoriously tough quiz.

To the news, now: Yer actual Jezza Paxman's Newsnight desk is among the items going up for auction by the BBC later this month. Hundreds of items, including two screens from The Politics Show, will be auctioned online, following the closure of the BBC Television Centre last year. An oar used in the Matt Smith drama Bert & Dickie about two British rowers who won gold at the London 1948 Olympics is also available, while a number of lip microphones, an outside broadcast phone and metal signs are included as well, BBC News reports. Some of the items going up for auction date back to the 1930s, according to auctioneers Peaker Pattinson. The auctioneer's managing director, Elizabeth Sewell said: 'There is a range of equipment, much of it technical - but for the general public we have studio clocks - which are quite iconic - we sold a lot of these from Bush House when it closed.' BBC Television Centre opened on 29 June 1960 and closed on 31 March 2013. The building is being redeveloped into hotels, flats, a cinema and offices although a part of it will still be used for broadcasting.

A new reality TV show in the US which will follow women giving birth 'in the wild' - without the assistance of medical staff - has reportedly 'sparked fears' that 'copycat' births 'could' endanger mothers and babies. Born In The Wild, announced by the Lifetime channel earlier this week, will follow a series of young parents as they take on 'the birthing process' outdoors without any outside intervention. And, if the baby gets stuck presumably they'll get it out with a stick? 'What happens when the craziest experience of a woman's life becomes truly wild and soon-to-be parents decide to take on an unassisted birth in the outdoors?' asks the show's - frankly sick - publicity materials. Producers of the show have stressed that no first-time mothers will be allowed to take part. Eli Lehrer, the senior vice president of Lifetime, told Entertainment Weekly: 'We're taking extreme precautions to make sure the mothers and the babies are safe. Our presence at these births is going to make them far safer than if they were doing it on their own. I truly don't think this is something people would enter into lightly. This is a very specific subset of people doing this.' The idea for the show follows a 'viral sensation' posted on YouTube by a user called Birthinnature. The clip shows a woman giving birth by a creek bed, surrounded by her family.

The BBC's seventieth anniversary coverage of the second world war Normandy invasion over the weekend included Radio 4 broadcasts of the corporation's original 1944 news reports, read by yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Patrick Stewart his very self. The new recordings of the original BBC radio bulletin scripts from June 1944 for most British listeners provided the first news that the long-awaited Allied offensive against Nazi-occupied mainland Europe had begun in earnest. The D-day news reports were broadcast at the same time of day as their original transmission time seventy years ago, beginning with Benny's reading of the 8am bulletin during Radio 4's Today programme on Friday and continuing until 9pm on Sunday. Others were broadcast during later Radio 4 programmes including The World At One, PM, The World Tonight, Broadcasting House and The World This Weekend. The new recordings are available online on the Radio 4 website, along with more than two hundred pages of archive radio bulletin scripts from BBC Home Service D-day broadcasts being published for the first time. Many of the scripts are annotated with subbing marks by the writers and newsreaders of the day.

The BBC and Channel Four have shed twelve per cent of their viewers in the supposedly 'important' twenty five to thirty four age demographic over the three-year period from 2010 to 2013. That is compared to an average loss of seven per cent amongst other broadcasters, the i newspaper has reported. The biggest surprise here, of course, is the fact that the i - you know, the newspaper that doesn't 'do' all that 'celeb gossip nonsense' just 'intelligent stuff' according to those ghastly pretentious adverts they used to produce - is still going. Yes, this blogger was surprised as well. However, the paper's figures, from the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board, did not include viewers using tablets or mobile devices. The BBC noted that mobiles and tablets now make up forty five per cent of iPlayer requests according to the most recent figures available. A statement from the corporation said: 'The BBC is committed to all audiences and while across our portfolio we have the highest share of young viewers - and iPlayer is the UK's leading on-demand service - we are working hard to ensure we keep innovating in this area.' In April, BBC iPlayer requests over all platforms hit two hundred and sixty eight million - up four per cent year-on-year, with nearly forty per cent of those requests coming from the twenty five to thirty four age group. The figures also show a ten per cent increase in iPlayer requests for tablets since last year. According to BARB figures, ITV saw its audience of the twenty five to thirty four demographic drop by three per cent in the same period. The figures also appear to show that Channel Four lost nineteen per cent of its youngest television audience of sixteen to twenty four year-olds. However, a Channel Four spokesperson said: 'Over 2014 our share of young sixteen the twenty four four viewers is up one per cent year-on-year - with our young-skewing channel E4 enjoying a record start to the year, up five per cent. Channel Four continues to have unique appeal with a young audience and in the last three years over half of all the UK's sixteen to twenty four year-olds have registered with [our website] as part of our viewer engagement strategy.' It also said that requests to its 4oD video-on-demand service had risen by twenty per cent in the first quarter of 2014, compared with the same period in 2013. BARB does not currently measure viewing on mobile and tablets but is understood to be in the process of developing a new system which will capture total viewing consumption in future.

And now, dear blog reader, proof that some people within the BBC actually do have a modicum of backbone. Here's the BBC press office’s response to Torygraph article of 21 May 2014 - one which, tragically, the Torygraph didn't print in full. The article began: 'The BBC has been described as "bureaucratic", "Orwellian" and a "holiday camp" by its employees in a series of anonymous reviews of the corporation. While current and former employees praise the "excellent opportunities" and work-life balance offered by working at the BBC, the corporation's management structure is criticised by many, according to media trade magazine Press Gazette. Staff criticised the layers of management and hierarchy at the BBC saying a lot of people remain in the organisation too long making it difficult to get promoted. More than one hundred and thirty reviews of the corporation were submitted to the Glassdoor website, which aims to give prospective employees an insight into companies. The BBC scores 3.5 stars out of five from employees, with seventy eight per cent recommending it to others as an employer.' 'We're pleased that so many people enjoy working at the BBC,' the press office noted in their reply to the Torygraph, 'and note that we scored 3.5 out of 5, compared to the Telegraph Media Group's 2.7 out of 5.'

Yer actual Eddie Izzard is planning a stand-up show in a fourth language, Russian. The comic recently perfumed three back-to-back gigs in English, French and German as part of the seventieth anniversary commemorations of the D-Day landings. Now, he has told Sky News that he wants to return in 2019 – and mark the Russian contribution to the Allied victory, too. He said: 'On the seventy fifth anniversary in five years' time, I'm going to come back and do a Russian show as well, because Russians need to be included in that because they fought so hard.' Eddie his very self is currently also learning Spanish – and plans to attempt to learn Arabic for his sixth language in the near future. All this, of course, whilst gearing up to fight for mayor of London in 2020 on a Labour ticket. After his final cut-down version of his Force Majeure show, Eddie tweeted: 'Just finished my third show in French. Thanks to all who fought for democracy and freedom and made these three shows possible.'

One of the most shamefully fraudulent and mendacious TV shows in the history of the medium, Most Haunted, is being revived for a new series on Really. Which will, presumably, be rechristened 'No, Not Really' for the duration. The channel will launch a new ten-episode series of the alleged ghost-hunting show in August, with host Yvette Fielding confirmed to return. The series was originally broadcast on Living TV (now Sky Living) between 2002 and 2010. The show filmed over one hundred and eighty episodes and five hundred hours hours of footage. The new series will feature locations across the UK, such as The Royal Court Theatre in Lancashire and Sheffield's National Emergency Services Museum. Fielding commented: 'This is without doubt our best series yet. We are so pleased Most Haunted has found its exclusive new home on Really - the home of paranormal programming.' Producer and director Karl Beattie added: 'Television was too quiet without Most Haunted so we answered fans' calls and brought it back. And where better for it to be than Really? Really has fully immersed itself in this genre and does it better than any other channel, so we are proud to be working with them.'
Murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's voicemails would have been deleted automatically after they were hacked by the Scum of the World, the Old Bailey has been told. Once the thirteen-year-old's voicemails were listened to by the convicted phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire, they would become saved and be wiped by the system eventually, Mr Justice Saunders told the phone-hacking trial. In his second day of summing up, the judge told jurors that the claim by the Gruniad Morning Star in July 2011, that the messages had been deleted by the Scum of the World and had given 'false hope' to Milly's parents that she was still alive was wrong. Albeit, the Gruniad's other revelation, that Milly's phone had been hacked by Mulcaire, was correct. In his summing up to jurors, the judge said: 'Mr Mulcaire's hacking into the phone could well have had something to do with the deletion of the voicemail. Once hacked into, it becomes a saved message to be deleted automatically. It could have led to it but couldn't have led to any false hope because the News Of The World went to the police on the Saturday. The actual hacking into someone's voicemails could lead to it being deleted.' However, he repeated the admission that had been given during the trial: 'The Guardian, were wrong and they have accepted it.' The judge said the Scum of the World delayed telling police about Dowler's possible whereabouts for at least twenty four hours. Evidence to the phone-hacking trial shows the paper had a message suggesting she was in Telford in the morning of Friday 12 April, but waited until the following afternoon to contact Surrey Police. He said that managing editor Stuart Kuttner 'may' have been 'complicit' in the delay, an allegation which Kuttner strenuously denies. In the second day of his summing up, the judge said: 'It is perfectly clear the News of the World did not inform the police straight away about the information got from the voicemail.' Outlining the evidence, the judge said that chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck had sent a team of reporters to follow up a lead from a voicemail which had been mistakenly been left on Dowler's phone suggesting that the schoolgirl had been contacted by a recruitment agency in Telford. Monday's Recruitment Agency was contacted by Thurlbeck on the morning of Friday 12 April 2002 with the paper's investigation already in full swing. However, it was 3.11pm on 13 April before Kuttner called police to reveal the hacked message which, he said, 'might' assist them with their investigation. 'It must have been at least twenty four hours after the News of the World first heard of the voicemail,' said the judge. 'The prosecution suggest the News of the World kept the information on the voicemail to themselves in the hope of finding her in time to announce it in the newspaper. When it became clear they were not going to find Milly, it is suggested they decided they had no alternative but to contact the police. Were it to emerge at a later stage that the News of the World had information and didn't disclose it, and something happened to Milly thereafter, you may think it would have been very serious indeed for the News of the World. Who made the decision and who was party to it?' The judge said that Kuttner was 'implicated' in the delay by the evidence of Mark Hancox, from the recruitment firm, who said that he took a call from 'a senior figure' at the paper on the morning of Saturday 13 April. 'He recognised the voice of Kuttner as the man who spoke to him on the phone', the judge said concerning Hancox, who was 'played tapes of Kuttner and others' giving evidence to The Leveson Inquiry. 'He said the voice was very distinctive and self-assured, like one of my headteachers. He said he would never forget his voice, and immediately recognised the voice as the same one who phoned him in 2002. He said when given the name of the man on the tape, he remembers the same name – Stuart Kuttner – that he had been given in 2002. The evidence that was read to you is Stuart Kuttner must have known about the voicemail in the morning because he is ringing Mark Hancox, but didn't contact the police until the afternoon.' He said that Kuttner's barrister, Jonathan Caplan QC, had submitted that the former managing editor rang the police as soon as he knew about the hacked voicemail. 'The evidence on which that is based is he doesn't remember it but that's what he would have done', said the judge. 'He said if told about the voicemail, he would immediately have rung the police.' The judge said that the jury must decide which evidence they 'prefer' when deciding whether Kuttner delayed contacting police. Editor and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks was on holiday at the time of the Milly Dowler hack, and did not return until after that week's paper - being overseen by deputy editor and the Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum', Andy Coulson - had gone to press. 'You will have further assess how important this story was to the News of the World in deciding whether Andy Coulson would have known about it, and known information was obtained by hacking voicemails,' Saunders said. 'The police knew it as the News of the World told them, but did the deputy editor know? If he knew, would the information have been shared with the editor in one of the conversations she undoubtedly had while in Dubai.' The judge told the jury that they will have to assess evidence that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks said while on holiday that she was taking a call about the 'missing Surrey schoolgirl'. He also said that the affair between well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and Coulson, as shown in the love letter she wrote to him, was 'clearly relevant' to their decisions. Saunders said that the Scum of the World would have incurred the wrath of press regulators and rival papers if they had revealed the hacking of Dowler's phone. Coulson claimed in his evidence that, once Surrey Police had decided not to take action over the interception of the voicemails, the paper may have included its actions in the subsequent story. However, Saunders said that 'others' may have taken 'a dim view' of their nefarious activities even if the police had chosen not to investigate. He said: 'Police did not take any action, and it is suggested if they knew the News of the World had accessed the voicemails but no action was taken, the article itself would have made it clear they had hacked the voicemails. Even if the police had taken no action, there might have been some interest to the Press Complaints Commission to whether there had been a breach of their code. It doesn't sound like other newspapers were very friendly about the activities of their rivals.' The judge continued his summing up by looking at the evidence of some of the celebrities that were targeted by the newspaper. Former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson was in Mulcaire's notes in 2002, though there is no evidence of a hack of his phone at the time when well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was editor. The judge said there was 'clear interest' in Eriksson in April 2002 over his affair with the TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson, but 'no evidence of a story coming from phone hacking.' He said the hacking took place in 2005 and 2006, and a voicemail left by Everton chairman Bill Kenwright for Eriksson about the striker James Beattie was found in Mulcaire's house in August 2006. Saunders pointed out that Coulson was 'involved' in the 'buy-up' of Eriksson's affair with FA secretary Faria Alam in July 2004. The judge had to stop his summing up early as one of the jurors was suffering from a migraine and was unable to continue. She was allowed to wear sunglasses in court to try to continue, but the judge opted to stop just before lunch to give her time to recover. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, Kuttner and Coulson have all been charged with a conspiracy to hack phones, a charge which they all deny. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks denies three other charges, while Coulson denies a second charge related to the alleged purchase of royal phone directories. The trial continues.

A former counter-terrorism police officer who worked at Heathrow Airport has been sentenced to two years in prison for selling stories to a newspaper. Timothy Edwards received over twenty two grand in payments from a paper over a three-year period between 2008 and 2011, the prosecution said at a hearing at the Old Bailey. He pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct in public office. A second former police officer, Sam Azuelos, also pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office at the same hearing and will be sentenced at a later date. The court heard that Edwards was linked to around thirty stories, many of which centred on Heathrow, including an article about a supermodel being arrested at the airport, pilots arrested for being over the alcohol limit and an investigation into a plot by British-born Muslims carrying out training in Yemen. Payments ranged from two hundred and fifty smackers for a story about an airline stewardess arrested in relation to drugs, to seven hundred and fifty quid for information on an aircraft returning to Heathrow after a mid-air terrorism scare. On one occasion, the former police officer was paid twelve hundred notes for a story about a woman who worked at Heathrow. In a twenty nine-page victim impact statement, the woman revealed that the story which resulted from the leak to journalists had caused her such distress that she attempted suicide. Edwards' barrister claimed that the paper had 'made up the vast majority' of information about the woman and had printed 'a pathetic apology' which was 'the size of a postage stamp' six months later. Judge Marks QC, described Edwards case as 'a particular serious one of its type', but noted that, 'on the plus side', he had at least shown a smidgen of 'genuine remorse' and had intimated a guilty plea at the earliest possible opportunity. 'As a result of acting in the manner in which you did whilst employed as a police officer, you effectively had two paymasters,' Marks said. 'Conduct of this sort inevitably resulted in a betrayal of trust that's reposed in the police,' he added. The judge extremely jailed Edwards for two years, to serve at least half, but accepted that it was 'a huge personal tragedy for you and for your nearest and dearest. You have lost your livelihood, involving twenty five years of valuable public service', he added. Edwards' barrister, Bill Emlyn Jones, said that Edwards had 'lost the job he loved' and recognised that he had 'the most appalling fall from grace.' Prosecutor Stuart Biggs told the court that Edwards was posted to Heathrow in 1997 and, in 2009, became part of the counter-terrorism command and had phoned the newspaper and told it he was 'working in intelligence at Heathrow.'
The TV presenter Sue Cook has told a court that Rolf Harris should not be accused of lying after he forgot about a game show appearance in the 1970s. She said that she did also not recall being in the programme, which was filmed in Cambridge and where Rolf is said to have committed an indecent assault some years previously. Rolf had claimed that he first visited the city four years ago, but video footage revealed he was there in 1978. The entertainer denies twelve indecent assaults between 1968 and 1986. The charges are related to four girls aged between seven or eight and nineteen. Cook, a former presenter of the BBC's Crimewatch programme, told Southwark Crown Court that she appeared in the ITV series Star Games series 'two or three times.' She said that celebrities were 'bussed in' to a recreation area and that the town or city where the filming took place was 'immaterial.' One alleged victim of Rolf has claimed that he 'grabbed her bottom' when she was waitressing after a game show event in Cambridge in 1975. However, prosecutors have claimed that she 'may' have got the date wrong. Cook told the court she saw the video of Rolf appearing in the Cambridge episode of Star Games on the news on Monday. Cook told the court that she tweeted it was 'not fair' as she herself would not have remembered being there. 'I said to my husband, "Gosh, that's not fair - I wouldn't have remembered it was Cambridge either,"' she said. 'I don't think he can be accused of lying because I can't remember it. I was a participant in that game show but I wouldn't have known it was Cambridge either.' Cook told the court that she 'did not remember' Rolf having been in the same episode as her. She said that she had forgotten 'loads' of events she had been involved in over the course of four decades in broadcasting. She referred to an occasion when her mother-in-law gave her a DVD of an event at the Royal Opera House and she thought that she had confused Cook with fellow broadcaster Sue Lawley. 'To my amazement it was me hosting a gala event at the Royal Opera House,' Cook told the court. 'I have no memory whatsoever of doing it.' Earlier, Rolf's former tour manager, Ken Jeacle, told the court that he had never witnessed any 'questionable' behaviour on the entertainer's part. Speaking via video-link from Australia, he said: 'Rolf Harris, as I observed, was a gentleman who was a very affectionate, warm, outgoing personality. His tendency to be demonstrative with outward affection is constant. He has absolutely no problem whatsoever with giving somebody a warm embrace, he's done it to me a million times.'

Gary Glitter has been charged with eight counts of sexual offences against girls. The charges relate to two women who were aged between twelve and fourteen at the time of the alleged offences between 1977 and 1980. The former pop star - real name Paul Gadd - is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 19 June. The Crown Prosecution Service said that 'no further action' would be taken over five allegations made by 'two other people.' Baljit Ubhey, chief crown prosecutor for CPS London, said: 'We have carefully considered the evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police Service.' Glitter was arrested on 28 October 2012 at his London home following an investigation by detectives from Operation Yewtree, which was set up after the Jimmy Savile fiasco. Ubhey said that police had been 'providing material to the CPS since July 2013, with the most recent material submitted in March 2014.' The charges relating to the first complainant, who was aged twelve or thirteen at the time of the alleged offences, are: two counts of indecent assault between 31 January and 31 May 1977; one count of administering a drug 'or other things' in order to facilitate sexual intercourse between 31 January and 31 May 1977; one count of sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of thirteen between 31 January and 31 May 1977; two counts of indecent assault between 31 May and 31 December 1977. Charges relating to the second complainant, who was aged thirteen or fourteen at the time of the alleged offences, are two counts of indecent assault between 1 October 1979 and 31 December 1980. Glitter rose to fame in the UK in the early 1970s with a flamboyant stage persona and hits such as 'Rock and Roll (Part 2)' and 'Leader of the Gang' and 'I Love You Love Me Love'.

Lord Coe has confirmed that he is 'seriously considering' applying to be the next chairman of the BBC Trust. The Conservative peer and chairman of the London 2012 Olympics organising committee was 'quietly approached' about the role by government officials late last month. In an interview on Friday, Coe told BBC Radio 5Live’s Victoria Derbyshire that he was 'thinking about' applying, the first indication Coe has given that he is considering the role. 'It is a very meaty job and I’m passionate about public service broadcasting,' he said. 'But, the honest answer is I probably have a few weeks to think about it.' Coe did not deny that he had been contacted by Tory members of the coalition, but said that no 'formal' approach had been made. 'Have I had conversations with the BBC? No. Have I had conversations with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport? No. Have I spoken to head-hunters? No.' He was also asked whether he could be an independent chairman, given that he is a Tory peer. 'I've always been highly independent in everything I've ever done,' he claimed. 'My politics are clear and a matter of public record and I certainly wouldn't be walking away from my political beliefs.' The government officially started the hunt for the next chairman on Monday, placing an advertisement for the role calling on candidates to apply by 20 June. Interviews will be held in the week beginning 28 July. Coe's mix of Tory credentials and a reputation enhanced by the success of the London Olympics have made him the frontrunner to succeed Lord Patten. He is said to have 'the firm support' of David Cameron, who will ultimately be responsible for ratifying the appointment. Diane Coyle, the acting chairman of the BBC Trust, told the Independent on Sunday that she had 'not quite made up my mind' about applying, but had not ruled it out. Potential candidates who have appeared on unofficial lists compiled by senior officials include Dame Marjorie Scardino – the former chief executive of Pearson, the company behind the Financial Times – and Colette Bowe, the former chair of the broadcasting regulator Ofcom. One potential snag for Coe is that he has a long-held ambition to win the presidency of the International Association of Athletics Federations – he has been a vice president since 2007 – with the election of a successor next year. Coe said: 'I have always made it clear that is I was in a position to shape the future of a sport that has been very good to me I would take that opportunity. That is for the sport to decide. That is a decision made amongst two hundred and something [athletics] federations. That is not for a year or two.' The BBC Trust chairman is supposedly a 'three to four days a week' commitment, which may, theoretically, give him the time to juggle both roles. Although previous BBC Trust chairmen have commented that the demands of the one hundred and ten thousand smackers-a-year role extend 'beyond its supposed part-time nature.'

BBC News is 'completely obsessed' by the agenda set by newspapers and 'follows the lead' of the Daily Scum Mail and Daily Torygraph too much, according to senior journalist Robert Peston. The BBC’s economics editor, in a question-and-answer session after delivering the British Journalism Review Charles Wheeler lecture on Thursday evening, said that he found this 'most frustrating' and attributed it to a 'safety-first' approach by programme editors with the collective backbone of a mollusc. Pestinfestation, responding to questions about how he and the BBC decided which stories 'mattered' to audiences, said: 'It's a challenge, the issue of the herd and pandering [to it]. Technology makes it much, much easier to know what stories matter to people.' He added: 'My entire career has been spent arguing with bosses that something they didn't know about, or care about, mattered. Being a journalist, a lot of it is about battles.' The former Financial Times, Sunday Torygraph and Independent journalist said that he found it 'most frustrating' the way BBC News 'is completely obsessed by the agenda set by newspapers.' He added: 'There is slightly too much of a safety-first [attitude]. If we think the Mail and Telegraph will lead with this, we should. It's part of the culture.' Peston said that all the different BBC News programmes had powerful editors who want to put their stamp on the output and 'quite a lot of them are charismatic.' But even so, he added: 'The safest thing is to go with what the newspapers are going with, even at a time when the influence and power of newspapers is radically declining. People [outside of the BBC] misunderstand what a bizarre organisation it is. You have got people with titles who are powerful but they don't get involved with the day-to-day news judgments. The BBC is not homogenous, it is an industry.' Pestinfestation was speaking at the annual event organised by the British Journalism Review and the University of Westminster to present the Charles Wheeler award for outstanding contribution to broadcast journalism to Channel Four News anchor Jon Snow. In his speech, which Peston told the Gruniad Morning Star he had not cleared with James Harding, BBC director of news and current affairs, he spoke of his fears about the impact of so-called 'native ads' – advertorial, or content sponsored by brands – on journalism. 'There will be no jobs for any of us if there is no way to generate profit from news,' he said. 'But news that is a disguised advert, or has been tainted by commercial interests, is not worth the name.' Peston added that even the BBC was 'not immune to a trend I fear is pernicious', referring to an interview with an executive from BBC Worldwide, who said it was 'inevitable' that the corporation's commercial arm would end up running such ads. 'My concern is that native ads seem to work, in a commercial sense. Take, for example, the new business news online service, Quartz. Much of its editorial is high quality,' he added. 'But what really excites advertising execs and investors is the way that it is able to charge a premium for its native ads, which are – depending on your point of view – either very cleverly or very sinisterly seamlessly integrated into its news service. Yes, the native ads are always marked. But as a reader you have to enter the website alert to their existence to be swiftly conscious that they are importantly different from the other articles on the site.' Peston said that he did not want to 'overstate' the dangers of native ads, but was 'concerned' about the rise of a generation of news media managers 'schooled only in the etiquette of the Internet, where the idea that editorial staff should be quarantined from marketing and advertising is seen as absurd.' He added that a second related danger was that the media industry might be going too far in allowing readers to dictate content, given the amount of data and feedback now available from online audiences. 'Here, I will doubtless be accused of an outdated and patronising paternalism. So let me say immediately that I am not bemoaning the advent of blogs, or Facebook, or Twitter, or of the various forms of user-generated content,' Peston said. 'But routinely I ignore what my readers tell me get their rocks off, and publish and broadcast stuff that probably seems spectacularly dull – about, for example, the technicalities of global rules for keeping banks safe and strong, which I in my paternalistic way feel I need to tell people about, because they are so important to our prosperity, and because they failed so spectacularly. However, in a commercial world where hits mean money, it is legitimate to fear that difficult journalism will increasingly be squeezed out by massively popular stories with headlines like Bought my cat a bed in Ikea and If farts smelt nice, would you ask for the recipe (these are real stories by the way).' Peston said that the BBC’s ability to decide which stories matter, independent of concerns about commerce or popularity, was perhaps 'one of the best justifications for the licence fee.' However, he conceded: 'Although there is tension even here. We at the BBC look very closely at which online and broadcast stories are most popular, so that we can’t be accused of ignoring what those who fund us want.'

The lack of education secretary the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove has been forced to grovellingly apologise, publicly, to the prime minister after a bitter public row with the home secretary the vile and odious rascal May. The two cabinet ministers clashed over allegations of a hard line Muslim plot in some Birmingham schools. Oily Cameron was said to be 'furious' as a briefing war between the two sides erupted in the media, overshadowing this week's Queens Speech. May's special adviser has stood down over her part in the row. Theresa Cunningham was found by a Downing Street inquiry to have been the 'source' of a negative briefing against the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove. Downing Street announced the disciplinary action after Oily Cameron received the findings of an investigation into the row by Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood.

Police and crime commissioner Ann Barnes has apologised for appearing in a controversial fly-on-the-wall TV documentary. But, she defiantly insisted that she would carry on in the eighty five grand-a-year job despite accusations from officers in Kent that the Channel Four programme made their force 'a laughing stock.' Pressure on Barnes intensified on Wednesday after a youth crime 'tsar' whom she had appointed was temporarily suspended over allegations of a relationship with a married former councillor. Barnes apologised to officers about the documentary at a meeting of the Kent and Medway police and crime panel, saying she was 'deeply sorry' and admitting that 'with hindsight' it was 'the wrong decision' to feature in it. But, she added: 'I will continue to do my work as commissioner.' Barnes was urged to 'consider her position' after Kerry Boyd, the youth crime commissioner she appointed just three months ago, was temporarily suspended following allegations that she had 'a close friendship' with Robert Burgess. The twenty-year-old former London 2012 torch-bearer was given the role in March after her predecessor, Paris Brown, then aged seventeen, resigned over offensive comments which she had previously made on Twitter. In Meet The Police Commissioner, which was broadcast last week (and reviewed by this blog, here), Barnes, who travels around in a van she calls 'Ann Force One', came over as a complete plank. She struggled to explain what her role involved and was filmed having difficulty defining an approach to policing priorities called 'The Onion'. She also failed to write her title correctly on a whiteboard, was filmed painting her nails and compared the force to 'a tin of paint' that she wanted to 'prise open.' In a statement at the opening of the meeting, Barnes said: 'Before I say anything else I would like to offer an apology to the hard-working men and women of Kent police. I know some of them are upset about the documentary. It was never my intention to do that. The only reason I agreed to do the documentary was to help people better understand the role of police and crime commissioner. It is very complex and there are lots of challenges. Unfortunately I don't think the programme did that.' She stressed that she had made the final decision about whether to appear in the programme and did so with the best of intentions. 'Personal comments I have to take on the chin but it's the reputation comments [about the force] that concern me most. It was never, ever my intention to upset the work of the force.' She said that the first time she and her staff saw the programme was the day before the production period ended and, though they raised some concerns, it was 'too late' to change anything. During the meeting she came under attack from some members of the panel for repeated misjudgments during her tenure. She combined contrition with defiance under the tough questioning. Asked if she had considered her position, she said: 'I've looked long and hard at the work that I do here in the county. I am a fit person to be police and crime commissioner. I work incredibly hard – you know I do. I do know my job. I will continue to do my job as commissioner but I will review my approach to engagements.' Regarding the allegations surrounding Boyd, she said: 'I'm quite sure that the day before the panel meeting the chairman has explained to you why it is not possible for anybody to make any comments about that.'

FIFA is under growing pressure over its controversial decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. One of its main sponsors, Sony, has now called on the governing body to carry out 'an appropriate investigation' into claims of wrongdoing during the bidding process. Meanwhile, The Sunday Times has published new allegations based on a leak of millions of secret documents. Qatar were awarded the right to stage the 2022 World Cup in December 2010. The decision has come under increasing scrutiny with FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce saying recently that he would support a re-vote to find a new host if corruption allegations can be proven. Last week the newspaper alleged that Qatar's former FIFA Vice President Mohamed bin Hammam paid three million smackers to various football officials around the world to help 'win support' for Qatar in the run up to the World Cup vote in December 2010. Now Bin Hammam is facing claims that he used his top level contacts with the Qatari royal family and government to arrange 'deals and favours' to secure the tournament for his country. According to the e-mails, Bin Hammam visited Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin to discuss 'bilateral relations' between Russia and Qatar a month before the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and brokered government level talks for Thailand's FIFA executive, Worawi Makudi, to 'push a deal' on importing gas from Qatar to Thailand. Makudi told the paper that he 'didn't receive a concession' for his part in any gas deal which may, or may not, have been brokered. The paper also claims that Bin Hammam invited Germany's former FOFA executive Franz Beckenbauer to Doha just five months after the vote with bosses from an oil and gas shipping firm which was employing him as a consultant. The firm involved claims that it was 'exploring possible Qatari investments' in the shipping and maritime sector but that no deal ever came from the talks. When approached by The Sunday Times, former German international captain and, later, manager Beckenbauer declined to comment. Other allegations include: fixing meetings between nine FIFA executive committee members including Sepp Blatter with members of the Qatari royal family AND arranging a meeting between the Qatar bid team and UEFA boss, Michel Platini, at European football's headquarters in Nyon. Platini, who has openly admitted voting for Qatar, claimed that Bin Hammam 'didn't attend' the meeting and insists that he has 'nothing to hide.' Qatar's World Cup organising committee last week issued a statement denying - once again - that Bin Hammam played 'any official or unofficial role' in the bid. However, what the e-mails appear to demonstrate is that Bin Hammam - banned from football for life in 2012 for his part in another corruption scandal - was, indeed, working to secure support for the Qatar bid. But, while that might be uncomfortable for Qatar and FIFA, it is not clear that he or the bid broke any of the governing body's bidding rules. FIFA executive committee members were not subject to the same restrictions placed on bid officials and all the bidding nations used their heads of state and senior government figures to try and win influence and votes. England's failed bid for the 2018 tournament used Prince William, the president of the FA and Oily David Cameron throughout the latter stages of their campaign. It is also part and parcel of big sporting bids for countries to use them to try and broker big trade deals. FIFA's chief investigator, the New York lawyer Michael Garcia, must now consider whether to include the latest revelations in his long-running inquiry into the World Cup bids. But, he stated last week that he will wind up his investigation early this month before writing and filing his report with FIFA's new adjudicatory chamber in the middle of July. It is understood that while Bin Hammam's role raises fresh questions about Qatar's campaign, Garcia is 'unlikely to look too deeply' into his actions as Bin Hammam has already been banned by FIFA. Britain's FIFA executive committee member Jim Boyce told the BBC website that while the last week has been 'tough', world football's governing body is changing. 'Since I joined FIFA's executive committee in 2011 half of the committee has gone,' he said. 'bin Hammam, who there's been a lot of talk about recently, has been banned for life by FIFA and many of these other people mentioned are no longer at FIFA as well. There are a lot of very good people at FIFA and people who are only interested in furthering the game of football. And, obviously, FIFA don't get enough credit for what they do around the world.'

England's final warm-up game before they fly to Brazil for the World Cup was disrupted by a dangerous lightning storm which forced the match to be halted as they were held to a goalless draw by Honduras. The game was stopped for over forty minutes midway through the first half as bad weather hit the Miami area. Which meant that ITV viewers had to suffer odious greed bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles waffling on about nothing for longer than the average's person's tolerance level for verbal diarrhoea can stomach. And then, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, Ian Wright waded in. God, it was horrible, dear blog reader. But, when play resumed, Roy Hodgson saw his England team last the pace well in fierce heat and humidity, although a feisty game against the physical Hondurans lacked any rhythm. England should have won, with Daniel Sturridge missing England's two best chances but, ultimately, Hodgson will have simply been delighted his players emerged unscathed from some rough treatment, which included Honduras defender Brayan Beckeles being sent off. Captain Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney were given forty five minutes each, while Everton midfielder Ross Barkley once again looked lively as he tried to make an impression on Hodgson ahead of next Saturday's opening World Cup game against Italy in Manaus. England left Miami for Rio de Janeiro immediately after the game and can now enter the final phase of their planning for the World Cup, although the interruption for weather reduced the effectiveness of this exercise.
Roy Hodgson says that The Arse midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be fit for the World Cup finals. The player suffered nasty knee ligament damage in England's 2-2 draw with Ecuador on Wednesday. Speaking after Saturday's 0-0 draw against Honduras Hodgson confirmed that the twenty-year-old would remain part of his plans. 'I think he will make the tournament without a shadow of a doubt. That's good news,' said Hodgson.
The BBC will broadcast the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals in Russia and Qatar - or, you know, wherever it ends up actually being held - after signing a new rights deal with FIFA. The new agreement, shared with ITV, covers TV, radio and online coverage. It continues the free-to-air broadcasting of World Cup tournaments to UK television viewers. The 2018 finals will be the fourteenth consecutive World Cup that the BBC and ITV broadcast together, dating back to the 1966 competition in England. More than three quarters of the UK population tuned in to some part of the 2010 tournament in South Africa. BBC director of sport Barbara Slater said: 'We are delighted to have secured the rights to one of the biggest sporting events in the world. It is fantastic news that the pinnacle event in world football will continue to be available free of charge for everyone in the UK. As we prepare for kick-off in Brazil we hope viewers at home will enjoy watching it as much as we will look forward to broadcasting it.' Niall Sloane, ITV director of sport said: 'The excitement building on the eve of this summer's tournament in Brazil demonstrates how the World Cup offers a shared, collective experience for people across the UK. So we're thrilled to be able to look forward to bringing the next two World Cups free-to-air to viewers in 2018 and 2022.'

Ayoze Perez became yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved Newcastle United's first permanent signing since January 2013, joining from Tenerife, with official confirmation coming from the club on Friday lunchtime that Ayoze had signed a 'long-term contract.' Perez, aged twenty, scored sixteen goals in thirty four games for the Chicharreros last season. 'I'm very happy to be here to start this new adventure,' he told Newcastle's official website. 'Any football player would be interested in playing for such a club and I will earn my position to get in the first team.' Perez is Magpies' boss Alan Pardew's first summer signing and helps fill the attacking void left by the departure of Shola Ameobi, Loic Remy and Luuk de Jong. Newcastle's next permanent signing is set to be Blunderland's Jack Colback, with confirmation of a five year contract for the midfielder anticipated next week. Pardew's interest in Montpellier playmaker Remy Cabella is also said to be ongoing, but Press Association Sport claims that the club are yet to table a formal bid for a player who has been in their sights for some time. Newcastle's need to strengthen is no secret after the loss of midfielder Yohan Cabaye to Paris St-Germain in January, while Dan Gosling has also left the club for Bournemouth. With the futures of Hatem Ben Arfa, Sylvain Marveaux and Gabriel Obertan uncertain, there are likely to be major changes at St James' Park before the new season gets under way.

England have named uncapped trio Chris Jordan, Sam Robson and Moeen Ali in the squad for the first test against Sri Lanka at Lord's on 12 June. Sussex fast bowler Jordan, twenty five, took twelve wickets in the recent one-day series with Sri Lanka, while Moeen, twenty six, played in three ODIs in the West Indies last winter. Opening batsman Robson, twenty four, averages fifty one for Middlesex this season. Wicketkeeper Matt Prior is included, while bowler Liam Plunkett returns after a seven-year Test absence. Plunkett, twenty nine, has enjoyed a resurgence this season at Yorkshire, where he is bowling with real pace, often touching ninety mph. He has taken twenty four wickets this season at an average of twenty four, while he has a highest score of eighty six with the bat. 'It's very exciting for Liam,' said national selector James Whitaker. 'He's shown all the hallmarks of a spearhead fast bowler. He's bowled some really quick spells. The quickest was at Lord's. He'll be confident there and we wish him well.' In Peter Moores' first squad since he become head coach for a second time, there is no place for Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was one of the few positives to emerge from England's disastrous Ashes whitewash over the winter. The twenty three-year-old has only just returned to action after breaking a hand when he punched a locker after being dismissed in a one-day international against West Indies in March. 'Stokes is very much part of England's future,' said Whitaker. 'We would like to see a few more overs under his belt, but he will be back soon.' Opening batsman Michael Carberry, wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, leg-spinner Scott Borthwick and pace bowler Boyd Rankin miss out after playing in England's final Test of the five-nil defeat by Australia. Kevin Pietersen was not available for selection after being told he is no longer part of the national team's plans, while Jonathan Trott is still recovering from a stress-related condition and Graeme Swann has retired. Lancashire wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, who struck the fastest ODI century by an England batsman during the Sri Lanka series, also misses the cut. England will hope that Sussex keeper Prior can rediscover his best form after being dropped during the Ashes series following a run of poor form with the bat. He has only recently returned from an Achilles tendon injury to play for his county. The thirty two-year-old averages forty with the bat in his seventy five tests, and Whitaker said: 'Our number one priority is someone being one hundred per cent fit and we're confident Matt is. We believe he can be part of that core group of players that can drive the team forward over the next three or four years. Very few people go through their careers without a blip but he is just the sort of character we want in that team.' Jordan has impressed with bat and ball in one-day internationals since making his début in the home series against Australia last year. He hit thirty eight from thirteen balls and took three for twenty five in the first match against Sri Lanka at The Oval and returned the best figures by an England bowler at Old Trafford with five for twenty nine in match three. Worcestershire's Ali, meanwhile, was named Player of the Year by the Professional Cricketers' Association last season after scoring more than two thousand runs in all forms of the game and taking fifty five wickets with his developing off-spin bowling. He has recently been working with his county's overseas player, Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal, to improve his bowling. 'Saeed is always giving me tips,' said Moeen, who also represented England at this year's World Twenty/20 tournament. 'He has done it at the top level and what I'm practising bowling-wise, he has been through already so that gives me a confidence boost.' Robson gets his chance after impressing with the bat over the winter, when he scored two centuries for the England Performance Programme and three hundreds for England Lions on their tour of Sri Lanka. 'It took a little while to sink in,' he told BBC Radio 5Live. 'I was born and grew up in Australia until I left school but I've lived here for almost seven years now and this is my home and where my life has taken me. I love living here and this is where my life is.' The second match in the two-Test series against the Sri Lankans begins at Headingley on Friday 20 June.

King of the Mods Sir Bradley Wiggins says he will not be competing in this year's Tour De France 'as things stand.' The thirty four-year-old four-time Olympic gold medallist won the tour in 2012, but was absent last year as countryman and Team Sky colleague Chris Froome triumphed. Wiggins told the BBC: 'The team is focused around Chris Froome. I am gutted. I feel I am in the form I was two years ago. Now if I want to go to the tour again, the reality is that I might have to go elsewhere.' He added: 'I also understand that cycling is a team sport and it is all about Team Sky winning and Chris is defending champion.' With his contract expiring this year, Wiggins said that he is considering his future at Team Sky, adding he had 'spoken to a few people' as he explores his options. The London 2012 time trial gold medallist had planned to switch back to track cycling at the end of this season in a bid to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. But he said: 'Having missed the tour again this year, I wouldn't like to leave it there. I'd love to go back at some point so there is the chance that I would go back to the tour next year.' Wiggins has already won three Olympic gold medals on the track - the individual pursuit at Athens 2004 and both the individual and team pursuit at Beijing 2008. He and Froome are competing in different warm-up events ahead of the Tour De France, which starts in Yorkshire on 5 July. Froome will take part in the prestigious Criterium du Dauphine, a race he won in 2013, on Sunday. Wiggo, who won the Dauphine in 2011 and 2012 on his way to becoming the first British Tour De France champion, will race in the Tour of Switzerland between 14 and 22 June. Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford said that he will use both competitions to pick his final nine riders for the Tour De France, but the Dauphine is considered the more prestigious warm-up race. Froome is part of an eight-man team in the mountainous event, with last year's Dauphine runner-up Richie Porte, Vasil Kiryienka, David Lopez, Mikel Nieve, Danny Pate, Geraint Thomas and Xabier Zandio completing the squad. 'For the dynamic of the team, Chris has a say, and we haven't raced together all year,' said Wiggins. 'When you're in the heat of the moment, you need guys you can trust and who have been there for you.' Wiggins admitted that his 'fractious' relationship with Froome could be beyond repair. The pair fell out during the 2012 tour, when Froome appeared to disobey team orders by pulling away from Wiggins during stage eleven. On Thursday, Froome said that he felt Wiggins showed 'signs of mental weakness' during his victory. 'All of those problems stem from the 2012 tour,' said Wiggins. 'The tour is so intense because you're riding for four weeks, six or seven hours a day, you're in each other's pockets. You go through many highs and lows and tensions can rise between two competitive riders.'

Researchers have found evidence of the world that crashed into the Earth billions of years ago to form the Moon. Analysis of lunar rock brought back by Apollo astronauts shows traces of the 'planet' called Theia. The researchers claim that their discovery confirms the theory that the Moon was created by just such a cataclysmic collision. The study has been published in the journal Science. The most widely accepted theory since the 1980s is that the Moon arose as a result of a collision between the Earth and Theia four and a half billion years ago. Theia was named after a goddess in Greek mythology who was said to be the mother of Selene, the Goddess of the Moon. It is thought to have disintegrated on impact with the resulting debris mingling with that from the Earth and coalescing into the Moon. It is the simplest explanation and fits in well with computer simulations. The main drawback with the theory is that no one had found any evidence of Theia in lunar rock samples. Earlier analyses had shown Moon rock to have originated entirely from the Earth whereas computer simulations had shown that the Moon ought to have been mostly derived from Theia. Now, a more refined analysis of Moon rock has found evidence of material thought to have an alien origin. According to the lead researcher, Doctor Daniel Herwartz, from the University of Goettingen, no one has found definitive evidence for the collision theory, until now. 'It was getting to the stage where some people were suggesting that the collision had not taken place,' he told the BBC News website. 'But we have now discovered small differences between the Earth and the Moon. This confirms the giant impact hypothesis.' But the difference, some say, could be explained by material absorbed by the Earth after the Moon formed. And Professor Alex Halliday of Oxford University, is among many scientists who are surprised at the difference between the Theian material found in the Moon rock and the Earth is so small. 'What you are looking for is a much bigger difference, because that is what the rest of the Solar System looks like based on meteorite measurements,' he said. Doctor Herwartz measured the difference in what is called the isotopic composition of the oxygen contained in rocks on Earth and Moon rock. This is the ratio of different forms of oxygen. Studies of meteorites from Mars and the outer solar system show that these ratios are markedly different - rather like a fingerprint. So Professor Halliday and others are 'puzzled' by the fact that the fingerprints of Earth and Theia seem almost identical. One possibility is that Theia was formed very close the Earth and so had a similar composition. If that was the case it raises the possibility that the assumption that each planet in the current Solar System has a markedly different fingerprint that needs to be revisited, according to Halliday. 'It raises the question of how well the meteorites from Mars and the asteroid belt in the outer Solar System is representative of the inner Solar System? We do not have samples from Mercury or Venus. They may well be similar to the Earth. If that is the case then all the arguments over the similarities of the Earth and the Moon fall away,' he told the BBC. Doctor Mahesh Anand from The Open University described the research as 'exciting' but noted that the data was from just three lunar rock samples. 'We have to be cautious about representativeness of these rocks of the entire Moon, and so further analysis of a variety of lunar rocks is required for further confirmation,' he said. Other theories have been proposed to explain why the composition of the Earth and Moon are so similar: one is that the Earth spun much faster before impact, another is that Theia was much larger than current models suggest. An alternative, controversial, theory proposed by Professor Rob de Meijer of Groningen University in the Netherlands was that the Earth's crust and mantle was blown into space by an accumulation of nuclear material eighteen hundred miles below the surface. It was this debris that clumped together to form the Moon. He told BBC News that the new finding - demonstrating that there was a difference in the composition of the Earth and the Moon - did not change his view. 'The difference is too small,' he said. 'We don't know how the Moon was formed. What we need are manned missions to the Moon and a search for rocks deeper under the lunar surface, that have not been polluted by meteorite impacts and the solar wind.'

A very nice young chap called Nick knocked on yer actual Keith Telly Topping's door on Friday morning and asked if, for fifteen quid, Keith Telly Topping his very self wanted the Stately Telly Topping Manor lawns strimmed down to slightly under the height of an elephant's eye. An agreement was swiftly reached because yer actual Keith Telly Topping is a big fan of enterprise culture. Young Nick did a bloody good job of it, too, I'll give that lad that. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping did the old 'I'd do this myself normally, like, but, you know, the back and that ...' thing, although, truth be told, dear blog reader, gardening is the absolute least of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite activities in all the world, bar none. Including spending an afternoon at the genital torturers.

It was something of an actual Hey Nonny, Nonny night at The Record Player on Thursday evening at the Tyneside, dear blog reader. A time to put yer bells on and wave yer snotty hanky around with pride. The double-header featured a bit of Jethro Toe (which, sad to report, is a bit too 'Hey nonny, nonny' fer yer actual Keith Telly Topping's tastes, admittedly) but, thankfully, also Fairport Convention's marvellously brilliant and spectacularly awesome Liege & Lief. Which, in case you've never heard it before - and, if you haven't, derar blog reader, you really need to put that right, instantly - one of the greatest records ever made by anyone, ever. Bar none. So, of course, that'll be the latest Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. Here's Sandy, Richard, Simon, Ash, Dave and Dave - The Fab Six - and something properly magical.
So, anyway, as usual, the Record Player was well marvellous with some top quality sounds amidst good company. Sadly, Uncle Scunthorpe's inclusion of the following magazine cover in his slide-show for the Tull's set (and, particularly the combination of the imagery summoned up by the title and the issue's 'focus on organs') meant that yer actual (and his mate Christian) was, simply, unable to take Songs From The Wood seriously. What can I say, dear blog reader? I'm a man with a very basic sense of humour.

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