Sunday, June 01, 2014

Week Twenty Four: Can't Tell The Bottom From The Top

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has alluded to 'big changes' which will occur in Doctor Who's forthcoming eighth series. The BBC's popular, long-running family SF drama's lead writer and showrunner spoke about Peter Capaldi's casting at the Hay Festival over the weekend, saying that the new Doctor will bring about the show's biggest changes since 2005. He said: 'We haven't made much of a change to Doctor Who since it came back in 2005. It's been the same show. It's maybe amped some things up and lowered some other things, but it's basically the same. I just felt it needs to be a bit more different now. It's needs to be surprising again' he said of his decision to cast an older actor. The Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) also said that casting a 'handsome, yet quirky, young man with entertaining hair' would have resulted in the popular long-running family SF drama becoming too formulaic. 'It would have just exposed the formula,' he claimed. 'We'd have found somebody great and people would have liked him, but the show would have just become that little bit more ordinary.'
The BBC have reported that the Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Louisa Rose Allen - better known as Foxes, apparently - will feature in the new series of Doctor Who. She will perform a song during her appearance on the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama, although it isn't yet clear if she will play herself or a fictional character. Speaking about her casting, she said: 'I can't believe I'm actually going to be in an episode of Doctor Who. Especially as it all came about from a chance meeting. I was playing a gig and got chatting to the show's production team who'd been watching my performance. I was telling them how much I loved Doctor Who and next thing they invited me to be on it. I couldn't think of a better place to make my acting début than on one of the UK's most iconic shows.' Revealing her casting in an interview on BBC Radio 1, the singer said: 'I filmed it yesterday. It feels mental, because it's such an iconic show and I don't think they've really had musicians on the show in the past.' She's obviously never seen Leee (with an extra e) John from Imagination going so far over the top he was down the other side in Enlightenment, clearly. Probably before Foxy Louise's time. Probably before most dear blog readers' time, too. 'I got to go into the TARDIS, which was exciting. I sound like a proper geek now, but all the controls in the TARDIS actually move. So it's real.' Yeah. Of course it is. Anyway, she told Nick Grimshaw that she had written a song specially for the episode - which marks her acting debut, outside of school plays. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat said: 'We are completely thrilled that the amazingly talented Foxes is joining us on board. Let's just say, The Doctor is finally catching up on his phone calls.' The singer took time off from her UK tour for her CD, Glorious, to undertake filming. Of course, somewhat atypically, this news was greeted by some of the louder and more conservative voice in Doctor Who's fandom with a great wailing and gnashing of teeth about what a disgraceful damn rotten post-apocalyptic zombie nightmare all of this was and how it had abused their Dalek-lovin' childhood and that. It somewhat recalling that infamous posting on The Parka Zone in 1965: 'Apparently, some popular beat music combo called The Be-Atles will be appearing in an episode of Doctor Who shortly, opposite Mr William Hartnell. This is the final straw. Verity must go.' Next ...
The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine - available in all good newsagents, and some bad ones - reveals the most popular stories from the first five decades of the series, as voted for by readers of the magazine. The cover's pretty tasty as well.
The BBC has won the Eurovision Connect award for Best Promotion For A Fictional Programme for its work in promoting Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary episode. The award was announced at the Eurovision Connect conference in Vienna. The conference is organised by the European Broadcasting Union and brings together about one hundred and forty professionals from public service broadcasters throughout Europe. The Day Of The Doctor was broadcast simultaneously around the world in ninety four countries. It achieved the official world record for the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama. BBC1 also won the Best Promotion For An Entertainment Programme/Event for The Voice.
Doctor Who director Rachel Talalay has discussed the challenges involved in working on the long-running popular family SF drama. It was announced earlier this month that Talalay is to direct two episodes of Doctor Who's forthcoming eighth series. Speaking to Bitch magazine (no, me neither), the Tank Girl director said that it is 'hard to answer' how she will go about bringing the two scripts to life. 'Every episode of Doctor Who is like a mini-feature and they're all completely different,' she said. 'They're massive. I'm so excited to get to work with the show. When I watch them, I just think, "This is so creative, this is so out there." It fits into my kind of out-there, pushing-the-envelope, trying to give the audience something to grab on to. I don't approach it in terms of, "What am I bringing that's different?" I'm approaching it in terms of, "How the hell do you do this?!" It's so hard! It's so big and so hard and so ambitious. When you're working with a wonderful script, you just think, "How do I tell this story beautifully and blow away the audience?"' She also responded to claims - not from anybody that you'd actually take any notice of, admittedly - that she was hired because she is a woman, following criticism of the show's representation of female characters. 'I did joke around with Steven Moffat in our first meeting. Immediately there was press saying "woman woman woman" and so I said, "It's clear if I read the Internet that you hired me because I'm a woman." And he said, "Oh, you're a woman? Maybe I just looked at your resume and your reel and your credentials and hired you because of that." We both agree that that's what we hope I was hired on. I should stop there and say I'm incredibly fortunate to have the experience in effects that a lot of women don't get. So I was able to put together a reel of special effects and action that most women don't have.'

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's good mate Danny recently sent me the following link to the Common Sense Media forum - with their slogan 'We rate, educate, and advocate for kids, families, and schools' - giving their views on Doctor Who. You can have a gander at their discussions here. This blogger assumes - possibly wrongly, I'll freely admit - that the vast majority of these are written by white, middle-class, Bible Belt soccer-moms. Nothing in the slightest bit wrong with being a white, middle-class Bible Belt soccer-mom, of course (except, that it's football, not soccer. When will you Americans learn?) The comments are mostly very positive and, crucially I think, they for the most part seem 'get' the show and are affectionate and warm about it, though there are a couple of exceptions as there always will be when it comes to opinions. This blogger does somewhat wonder what life is like inside a head where one has to asterisk the words 'damn' and 'hell' as potentially offensive and where vicious killings comes lower on one's list of priorities to be concerned about than the existence of a happily gay character. But, all in all, this blogger is rather relieved to take this as evidence that relatively 'normal' - if, somewhat conservative - people do watch Doctor Who after all. And, indeed, enjoy it!

Questions over whether The One Direction Group - they are a popular beat combo, m'lud - are set to lose millions of quid in sponsorship deals have been raised - as if anyone who isn't a twelve year old actually gives a monkeys about such rank nonsense - after a leaked video of Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik (no, me neither) allegedly smoking an alleged joint allegedly surfaced earlier in the week. Further to claims that the pair had smoked Mary Jane – which, incidentally, is legal in Peru, where they were travelling to a concert on 27 April at the time the footage was filmed – it has also been alleged that Tomlinson used a racial slur, the N-word (no, not Nigeria). The comments have sparked 'a backlash' from gobshite rent-a-quote MPs (something which never did The Rolling Stones any harm, let's remember) who fear that the use of 'unacceptable' language may encourage young fans to adopt similar phrases. Right. Meanwhile, in news that anyone actually gives a stuff about ...
Britain's Got Toilets easily topped Tuesday's overnight ratings, despite dropping over a million viewers from Bank Holiday Monday's first live show. Overnight data reveals that the second live semi-final dipped by 1.3m to 7.8m at 7.30pm on ITV. The results show brought in 6.4m at 9.30pm. On BBC1, Happy Valley dropped five hundred thousand viewers from the previous week's episode to 5.3m at 9pm. BBC2's Springwatch appealed to 2.3m at 8pm, followed by new series Welcome To Rio with 1.6m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Location, Location, Location interested 1.1m at 8pm. The new series The Complainers was seen by eight hundred and fifty seven thousand viewers at 9pm, while Embarrassing Bodies was watched by seven hundred and ninety three thousand at 9pm, followed by CSI with five hundred and fifty seven thousand at 10pm. On Sky Atlantic, Penny Dreadful continued with two hundred and eighteen thousand viewers at 9pm.

Britain's Got Toilets bounced back in the ratings on Wednesday, according to overnight figures. The latest semi-final was up by four hundred thousand viewers from Tuesday's nights overnight figure, climbing to 8.2 million at 7.30pm on ITV. The results show brought in 6.7m at 9.30pm. BBC1's Watchdog appealed to 3.4m at 8pm, followed by Del Boys & Dealers with three million punters at 9pm. On BBC2, Springwatch interested 2.4m at 8pm, while Coast Australia attracted 1.8m at 9pm. Episodes had an audience of seven hundred and ninety four thousand at 10pm. Channel Four's Supervet was watched by nine hundred and eighty six thousand at 8pm, followed by Twenty Four Hours in A&E with 1.5m at 9pm. The Derek finale was seen by seven hundred and twenty three thousand at 10pm. On Channel Five, NCIS pulled in nine hundred and thirty one thousand at 9pm. Jack Taylor: The Priest was seen by five hundred and fifty seven thousand at 10pm. BBC3's Orphan Black continued with one hundred and ninety one thousand at 10pm. On Sky1, 24: Live Another Day attracted five hundred and forty six thousand at 9pm for its latest episode.

And, Britain's Got Toilets continued to dominate the ratings with its fourth semi-final on Thursday. ITV's competition dipped by two hundred thousand from the previous evening to eight million overnight viewers at 7.30pm. The results show climbed to 7.4m at 9.30pm. BBC1's From There To Here dropped by over two million viewers from the previous week's launch episode, falling to 2.4m at 9pm. Ouch. Little chance of a second series for that one,, it would seem. Food Inspectors brought in 2.3m at 8pm, while Joey Barton's appearance on Question Time gathered 2.7m at 10.35pm. On BBC2, Springwatch appealed to 2.3m at 8pm. Burning Desire: The Seduction Of Smoking had give hundred and eighty nine thousand viewers at 9.30pm. Channel Four's Posh Pawn brought in eight hundred and sixty three thousand at 8pm, followed by Meet The Police Commissioner with four hundred and ninety nine thousand at 9pm. My Granny the Escort was seen by 1.2m at 10pm. On Channel Five, Trauma Doctors interested seven hundred and fifty five thousand at 9pm. The Man Who Ate Himself To Death had six hundred and thirty five thousand viewers at 10pm, followed by The Sixteen-Year-Old Baby with six hundred and sixteen thousand at 11pm. On BBC3, England's Worst Ever Football Team gathered four hundred and twenty one thousand viewers (and, about four laughs) at 9pm, followed by Jonah From Tonga with two hundred and forty five thousand at 10pm. BBC4's How The Wild West Was Won was watched by nine hundred and eight thousand at 9pm. On E4, The Big Bang Theory drew 1.2m at 8pm.

As noted, Joey Barton made his debut on the BBC's Question Time on Thursday night, attacking UKiP in a heated debate about the recent European Parliament election. The outspoken Queen's Park Strangers midfielder, who was joined by sacked former Daily Mirra editor and sacked former US chat show host oily Piers Morgan on the panel, apologised after suggesting that UKiP's success was down to the party being the best of 'four really ugly girls.' Not the brightest of metaphors he's ever come out even if one does, kind of, know what he was trying to articulate. Barton caused members of the audience to gasp by saying: 'If I'm somewhere and there was four really ugly girls, I'm thinking she's not the worst - that's all UKiP are.' UKiP MEP Louise Bours responded by claiming that Barton's comment simply proved that footballers' brains 'are in their feet.' Which is, of course, a spectacularly ignorant and ill-informed comment from a member of a spectacularly ignorant and ill-informed party that seems to be flavour of the month with a few numskull glakes in Essex, Yorkshire and the West Midlands at the moment but, will soon be as forgotten as the Social Democrats. So, pretty much what you'd expect, then. After an audience member told Barton that his analogy would be 'all over Twitter', Barton apologised and said: 'I couldn't think of a better one. It's my first time. Maybe I was a little bit nervous.' Barton was expected to clash with Twitter 'rival' oily Piers Morgan - and, possibly, twat the sacked former tabloid editor geet hard in the mush on general principle like he did to that kid outside a McDonald's in Liverpool a few years back. Perhaps, thankfully, there was to be no such incident. David Dimbleby hosted the show, which took place at Heathrow Airport's newly-rebuilt terminal two and also included Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Margaret Curran and Conservative MP David Two Brains Willetts on the panel. Barton was not the first footballer to appear on the show, former Burnley defender Clarke Carlisle having previously done so.

The opening scenes of Thursday night's Meet The Police Commissioner on Channel Four, a fly-on-the-wall documentary about Kent police's inaugural elected chief, were something of a prime example of deliberately mischievous editing. We heard David Cameron's bland rhetoric announcing the policy in 2012 and then we saw an official reading a book and eating a pasty in an empty polling station, as the British public struggled to muster any enthusiasm for this experiment in local democracy. The Torygraph's Fraser Nelson wrote at the time that electing police commissioners 'seemed a good idea' but that it was so poorly executed it had 'turned into a British version of The Wacky Races.' His words took on a quite literal resonance as viewers watched Ann Barnes, the hapless commissioner of this programme's title, patrolling her county in a customised Ann Force One minibus and utterly failing to explain a diagram of Kent policing known as 'The Onion.' No stranger to major public gaffes, the retired schoolteacher is probably best known for hiring a seventeen-year-old 'youth commissioner' – who promptly imploded amid a media fire storm when it emerged that she had once posted some borderline homophobic and racist slurs on Twitter. Strangely, the documentary barely touched on that particular saga. It did shed some light on the affair in a more oblique way, though, when it emerged that the Commissioner ran a staff of sixteen, including some communications officers; none of whom, it would appear, had given a thought to vetting the teenager's Twitter profile before she was thrust into the public spotlight – or, indeed, to warn Barnes not to paint her nails at her desk whilst being filmed for a documentary justifying her existence. The programme had caused controversy even before it was broadcast, Barnes' decision to take part in the documentary had been called ill-advised. And worse. 'This does not reflect the professionalism of Kent Police,' said Rupert Turpin who sits on Kent Police and Crime Panel. He added that the documentary was 'a media fiasco.' And this was before it had even been shown. 'From what I have seen it was extremely ill-advised to do a warts-and-all documentary because these are new posts and it is never going to come out well,' he said. 'The documentary shows that she doesn't have a strong grasp of detail and brings the whole force into disrepute.' 'I sincerely hope the public can draw a very clear distinction between the commissioner and the officers and staff who provide and excellent service,' the police federation chairman Ian Pointon said: 'Mrs Barnes does not run Kent Police. The chief constable runs Kent police - a police officer with thirty years of experience.' Pointon went on to suggest that the documentary has managed to 'undermine the reputation' of Kent Police and 'exposed officers to ridicule.' Barnes herself had previously blamed 'mischievous editing' for what, it rapidly became clear, was a classic example of genuine, twenty four carat car crash telly. If the producers wanted to make Barnes look very silly indeed, however, she certainly seemed to give them ample material. As Barnes was shown trying to make sure that the police put people before targets, she came across as well-meaning if rather attention-seeking, somewhat patronising 'blithering ninny' (as described by the Daily Scum Mail) and possibly the worst public speaker this side of Ed Millimolimandi. There was a rich seam of inadvertent slapstick comedy in Barnes's relationship with her chief constable, who was so comfortable with the idea of taking orders from this over-zealous amateur that he appeared to go into rigor mortis every time the two met. When he decided to retire, we saw him grimacing through Barnes's faltering, semi-coherent 'tribute' speech, clutching his good luck balloon like he was desperate for it to float him away to another world in the clouds. The Cutting Edge documentary itself was well done as an example of farce, but in terms of actually meeting the police commissioner, it didn't get much further than a brisk handshake. We were told nothing about Barnes's previous teaching career, her extraordinary decision to use fifty grand of her own money to fund her independent campaign for the job or, indeed, her years of previous experience with police authorities. Meet The Police Commissioner was, therefore, funny and buttock-clenchingly embarrassing in equal measure but ultimately flawed, failing to venture far from the safe beat of laughing at an eccentric's expense.

Friday's World Cup warm up game between England and Peru was the highest rated overnight broadcast outside of soaps. The first of two international friendlies ahead of June's World Cup in Brazil, which England won 3-0, was seen by an average audience of 6.32 million punters. The match peaked with an audience of 7.9 million at 9.30pm. ITV's evening ended with 1.08 million for the 10.45pm showing of Casino Royale. On BBC1, the evening started with 3.17 million for The ONE Show, while DIY SOS: The Big Build attracted 3.79 million at 8pm. The series finale of Have I Got News For You - with guest host Alexander Armstrong - was the channel's highest-rated show outside of soaps, pulling in average viewing figures of 3.91 million. It was followed by three million viewers for Room 101 at 8.30pm. BBC1's evening ended with 3.45 million for The Graham Norton Show at 10.35pm. This week's guests included Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Great British Menu kicked off BBC2's evening with a ratings high of 2.04 million at 7.30pm. The Minster, Gardener's World and The Story of Women and Art drew audiences of 1.25, 1.86m and six hundred and sixty thousand respectively. Later, the 10pm repeat episode of Qi was seen by 1.14 million, followed by five hundred and seventy thousand for Newsnight. With an average audience of 1.07 million, the 9pm broadcast of Peter Kay Live at the Manchester Arena narrowly outperformed Alan Carr: Chatty Man with 1.02 million at 10pm on Channel Four. Marvel's Agents of SHIELD had started Channel Four's evening with nine hundred and thirty thousand, while Rude Tube ended it with three hundred and seventy thousand punters. Channel Five's highest-rated show was NCIS with 1.2 million at 9pm. It was preceded by five hundred and eleven thousand for Eddie Stobart's Excellent Adventures at 8pm and was followed by six hundred and ninety five thousand for NCIS: Los Angeles at 10pm. ITV3's Midsomer Murders repeat at 8pm was among the highest-rated multichannel shows, entertaining an average audience of nine hundred and seven thousand viewers.

Comedy line of the week, as usual, came from Have I Got News For You and Ian Hislop's description of the BNP's disastrous performance in the European elections: 'It was the most encouraging thing about the election. It's the biggest swing to the right Europe's ever known and, in this country, the BNP lose their one seat. We've got far right-lite. [UKiP are] sort of golf club right. Even one of the German leaders said [the BNP are] fascists. You know, and they have got a good record of spotting them!'
This was closely followed by the divine Victoria's observation; 'The headline on the BBC website was Clegg: Exhausted, red-eyed and pale, which I thought was quite good because women MPs get so ripped apart from what they look like and their shoes and so on. At least it's happening to the men as well. "Exhausted, red-eyed and pale ... and is that cellulite I spot?"'
Britain's Got Toilets convincingly topped Saturday's primetime overnight ratings, despite the lowest semi-final ratings this series. The live show, which saw Jack Pack and Paddy & Nico secure places in the final, averaged 7.19m between 7pm and 8.30pm on ITV. The results show attracted 5.81m from 9.30pm, while in between, clip show World Cup Epic Fails took 3.38m. The latest episode of BBC1's Casualty drew 4.27m from 8.40pm. It was followed by a repeat of Mrs Brown's Boys, which was watched by 3.13m. BBC2's The Culture Show was had an audience of five hundred and forty eight thousand in the 7pm hour, before a Fawlty Towers repeat managed 1.01m. Further archive repeats of The Goodies (eight hundred and ten thousand), I ♥ 1973 (1.14m) and the Top Of The Pops Christmas 1978 episode (1.37m) followed. On Channel Four, The Restoration Man and Grand Designs attracted four hundred and thirty thousand and seven hundred and seventy two thousand punters respectively in the 7pm and 8pm slots. Channel Five's first season of Longmire concluded with three hundred and fifty nine thousand from 8.10pm. Two episodes of NCIS took four hundred and thirty one thousand and five hundred and thirty thousand afterwards. On the multichannels, ITV3's Foyle's War was seen by eight hundred and twenty five thousand from 9pm. In the same timeslot, BBC4's Wallander was watched by seven hundred and three thousand.

BBC Head of Drama Kate Harwood has claimed that 'British drama is on a roll' after securing fourteen nominations at the US Critics' Choice Television Awards. BBC In-House Drama Production led the way with seven out of the fourteen nominations for dramas, with the Doctor Who biopic An Adventure in Space and Time, Burton & Taylor and Luther all acknowledged. Sherlock's His Last Vow, Burton & Taylor and An Adventure In Space And Time have been nominated in the Best Movie category, while Dancing On The Edge, The Hollow Crown and Luther are up for Best Mini-Series. David Bradley (An Adventure In Space And Time), yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dancing On The Edge) are in contention for Best Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series. Meanwhile, Helena Bonham Carter is nominated in the Best Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series for her performance in Burton & Taylor. Luther's Warren Brown, Sherlock's Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington and An Adventure In Space And Time's Jessica Raine are nominated for their supporting roles. Harwood, the head of BBC In-House Drama Production, commented: 'I am very proud that drama from our England and Wales in-house teams has garnered such prestigious international recognition and would like to thank BBC America, the partner for in-house drama production on our nominated shows, for hosting and co-producing with us in the US. British drama is on a roll internationally now and these awards rightly celebrate a range of talent both on screen and off and we salute them all.' The fourth annual Critics' Choice Television Awards will take place in Los Angeles on Thursday 19 June.

The latest episode of the forthcoming 'L' series of Qi was filmed in London this week. Little & Large will feature guest appearances by Phill Jupitas, Richard Osman and a Qi début for the terrific Lucy Porter as this episode's token female. A further six episodes are scheduled to enter production during the next fortnight. From The North will have full details when known.

The BBC has confirmed that it has received whinges from viewers over the sound quality of BBC1 crime drama Quirke. The corporation said that Sunday's episode, which was watched by an average 4.2 million people, drew two hundred and forty three whinges. It comes a month after more than two thousand viewers whinged to the BBC over alleged 'mumbling actors' on Jamaica Inn. 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. The drama, which was filmed in 2012, was previously broadcast on RTE Ireland in February. No complaints were reported at the time. None. Not a sausage. Bugger all. Which seemingly proves that, either, Irish people have better hearing than British people or, that the British are more keen on whinging than our cousins across the Irish channel. 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.'
ITV has confirmed a rescheduled date for the Law & Order: UK series eight finale. The channel opted to pull Repeat To Fade from its original slot on 30 April, due to similarities between the episode's plot and the real-life stabbing of a school-teacher a few days earlier. The episode - written by Richard Stokes - will now be broadcast on Wednesday 11 June at 9pm. Sharon Small will make her début as new Detective Inspector Elizabeth Flynn, following the departure of Paterson Joseph's character, Wes Layton. Flynn is described as 'a former beat cop who likes to get her hands dirty' but is relegated to desk duty after being shot in the line of duty.

Sue Johnston is the latest actor to join series five of ITV's Downton Abbey in a guest role. She will play Denker, a lady's maid to Dame Maggie Smith's character, the Dowager Countess of Grantham. Sue, who has also appeared in Brookside, The Royle Family, Waking The Dead and Coronation Street among many other roles, joins Richard E Grant and Anna Chancellor, both of whom will play guests of the Granthams at Downton. The hit period drama will return to screens this autumn. Series four of the show, which followed the wealthy Grantham family and their servants, achieved an average of eleven million viewers in the UK across the series. More than twenty six million viewers watched series four on Masterpiece on PBS, making it one of the highest rating shows on American television. Previous high profile guest stars have include Shirley Maclaine who played Martha Levinson, Lady Grantham's mother and Oscar-nominated actor Paul Giamatti who appeared in last year's Christmas special as her 'maverick, playboy' son. Series five will also feature 24's Rade Sherbedgia as a Russian refugee who has fled the revolution after the first World War. Earlier this year, executive producer Gareth Neame promised it would have 'all the usual highs and lows, romance, drama and comedy.'

Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch filled the largest tent in the Hay Festival to the rafters this week as he read a selection of 'notable letters from history.' An estimated seventeen hundred self-styled 'Cumberbitches' packed themselves into the gaff to watch the Sherlock hunk of burning love read in an event called Letters Live, with onlookers observing a more than usual collection of teenage girls in the audience. 'If only Benedict Cumberbatch had been three per cent sexier,' said the publisher Jamie Byng in his introduction to what is believed to have been one of the fastest sell outs in the festival's twenty six-year history The event was devised by Simon Garfield and Shaun Usher and was based on their respective books – To The Letter and Letters Of Note. One of the pieces read by Benny was a letter written by a young Second World War signalman called Chris Barker, stationed in Cairo, and his girlfriend Bessie Moore with actress Lisa Dwan taking the part of Bessie. Another letter saw him take on the persona of doomed explorer Captain Scott in his final letter to his wife Kathleen from the frozen wilds of Antarctica. In another he played poet Ted Hughes writing a tender epistle to his son Nicholas. Not surprisingly his appearance drew a rapt response from the audience. The festival's director Peter Florence was ecstatic about the sprinkling of Hollywood stardom, telling WalesOnline: 'It's been very busy today adding a huge festival audience to the Benedict Cumberbatch appreciation society, which is a passionate and enormous group of people. He's a fabulous actor and happens to have the zeitgeist. Sherlock has lifted him into a global star but he manages to combine stardom with utter brilliance which is really rare.'

And so, to the next batch of yer actual Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 7 June
Kurt leads the investigation when the dismembered body of a young woman is found buried in a field in the latest Wallander - 9:00 BBC4. All the signs point to the victim being an Eastern European prostitute, but it is unclear what led to her death. Swedish version of the Henning Mankell detective stories, starring Krister Henriksson and Charlotta Jonsson.
In Casualty - 9:20 BBC1 - Rita finds herself in a quandary when a fire in a care home for the elderly leaves her with access to a terminal patient whose ongoing treatment raises a number of concerns - ones that may not be popular if she opts to raise them with the regular medical staff. Lily treats a man with toothache, but persuading him to acknowledge the real cause of his pain proves to be a difficult task. Elsewhere, Connie questions Zoe's competence during a meeting with CEO, Guy Self (guest star John Michie), and Lofty returns to the Emergency Department.

Kirsty Wark, Alastair Sooke and Morgan Quaintance attend the private view of The Royal Academy of Arts' Summer Exhibition - 7:00 BBC2 - an open-entry show that gives amateur and emerging artists the chance to share a space with established names. They delve into the process of curating the event and chat to artists Bob and Roberta Smith, Conrad Shawcross and Yinka Shonibare, while The Kaiser Chiefs perform their new single 'Meanwhile Up in Heaven'.

Sunday 8 June
In the final episode of Quirke - 9:00 BBC1 - as his family life unravels and grief and drink begin to take their toll, the pathologist is more than receptive to a request from his daughter Phoebe. She asks for his help in the search for her missing friend April, who hasn't been seen in more than a week. He begins to fear she has come to harm when he discovers blood in her flat, but when he tells her well-connected family, the Latimers, their response is not what he was expecting and they close ranks. Quirke pursues his enquiries and finds himself in a world where race and class are the determining factors. Crime drama set in the 1950s, starring Gabriel Byrne.

If you're looking for anything even remotely resembling 'entertainment' on ITV tonight, dear blog reader then, sadly, you'll have a fruitless search. Dermot O'Dreary presents the pre-match Soccer Aid build-up from 6pm and 'the big game' (it says here) its very self in aid of Unicef. This sees 'footballing heroes' (it also says here) team up with alleged z-list celebrities for an England versus the Rest of the World kick about live from Old Trafford (kick-off 8.00pm). Robbie Williams (one of only two Take Thaters who doesn't owe loads of money in avoided tax, allegedly), captains the England team, managed by worthless full of his own importance West Ham United flop Sam Allardyce and featuring former professionals such as David Seaman, Teddy Sheringham and Jamie Redknapp, plus odious unfunny lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall, alleged tax dodger Mark Owen, professional Northern berk Paddy McGuinness, other professional Northern berk John Bishop. And Olly Murs. Moscow Chelski FC's Jose Mourinho manages the Rest of the World side, which calls upon the talents of Alessandro Del Piero and Andriy Shevchenko lining up alongside captain Michael Sheen and a squad featuring Gordon Ramsay, James McAvoy, Patrick Kielty, Jeremy Renner, Kevin Bridges and Sam Worthington. Kirsty Gallacher is pitchside with the players. After four hours of this shit, dear blog reader, you will be excused if you want to gouge out your own eyes with a meat hook. Listen, it's a jolly good cause and one that should be supported so please do give them some money. And then, for the sake of your sanity if nothing else, watch something on another side instead of this utter tripe.

You could try, for instance, the Canadian Grand Prix, BBC1's coverage of the seventh Forumla 1 round of the season - starting 6:20 - staged at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal (the race start-time is 7pm). Michael Schumacher won this race on seven occasions, with sour-faced stroppy child and bad loser Lewis Hamilton the most successful of the current drivers at the circuit. The Mercedes man will be heavily fancied to win here for the fourth time and continue his title charge, albeit his team-mate Nic Rosberg might have something to say about that. And, speaking of 'heavily fancied' it will, as usual, be presented by the divine Goddess that is Suzi Perry, with commentary by Ben Edwards and David Coulthard and expert summary from Eddie Jordan.

Monday 9 June
Jon Snow (no, the other one) and the men of The Night's Watch face their biggest challenge yet as they prepare to defend The Wall against an attack by Mance Rayder and his wildling army in Game Of Thrones - 9:00 Sky Atlantic - 9:00. Fantasy drama, starring Kit Harington, Charles Dance, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Aidan Gillen, Conleth Hill, Sophie Turner, Natalie Dormer, Gwendoline Christie, Jerome Flynn, Rory McCann, Stephen Dillane, Liam Cunningham, Emilia Clarke, Iain Glen and Rose Leslie and directed by Neil Marshall, the man behind the second series episode depicting The Battle Of The Blackwater.

In Britain's Whale Hunters: The Untold Story - 9:00 BBC4 - Adam Nicolson focuses on the controversial work of whale hunters as he tries to understand why the population of the water-dwelling mammals was so drastically reduced in the Twentieth Century. In the first of two programmes, the writer and broadcaster discovers how whaling was commercialised to supply a growing demand for products such as umbrella stays and oil-burning street lamps - before industrialisation took hold and the inventions of Norwegian Svend Foyn revolutionised the practice.

The British lead the world in road rage and now, thanks to smartphones, confrontations and clashes, are being routinely caught on camera by people in the thick of it. The documentary Road Rage: Britain Caught On Camera - 9:00 ITV - asks what is causing these regular traffic tantrums - why the hell is everybody so angry these days? - and features an experiment in which two cyclists, a London cabbie and a white van driver swap modes of transport to see if they can learn to respect their fellow road users. There are also interviews with those who have suffered as victims of road rage and others who have dished it out. Narrated by Jamie Theakston.

The pre-publicity for David Beckham Into The Unknown - 9:00 BBC1 - is utterly hilarious, dear blog reader. I mean genuinely, wee-in-yer-own-pants funny. Starting with the - seemingly serious - description of yer man Becks as a 'trendsetting style icon' (for which, I think we should read 'recently retired footballer'). David, a jolly likeable chap let it be said, if not exactly the brightest bulb in the box, embarks on 'an Amazon adventure', mainly on motorbike. On this magical mystery tour, he accompanied by three of his closest friends: the photographer and video director Anthony Mandler, biker expert Derek White and Dave Gardner, Beckham's manager and boyhood chum. Before flying to Manaus, the starting point of the journey through the rainforest, David enjoys a game of beach foot-volleyball with locals from Rio's Vidigal favela, but things look set to hot up when almost eight hundred miles of boat and bike travel brings them to a remote jungle territory, home of the Yanonami tribe.

Tuesday 10 June
Cooking and showbusiness collide as the culinary contest Celebrity MasterChef returns - 9:00 BBC1 - with former supermodel Jodie Kidd, actress Sophie Thompson, astrologer, broadcaster and annoying self-publicist Russell Grant, fashion journalist Susannah Constantine (oh Christ, I thought we'd seen the last of her on telly) and former EastEnders actor Todd Carty. These are the first five - of twenty - far more z-list than normal 'celebrities' hoping to emulate last year's champion Ade Edmondson. The contestants must firstly use mystery ingredients to create a spring-roll stuffing and wrap plus dipping sauce, then they are split into two groups for a restaurant challenge, before - finally - each contestant prepares a two-course meal of their own design. The best double act on telly, John Torode and Gregg Wallace are on hand to judge the results with the elimination of one familiar face guaranteed.

In the latest CSI - 9:00 Channel Five - the team investigates a heist and murder at a casino and evidence leads Greg and Morgan to one of the establishment's maintenance staff - who claims that his baby son was abducted to coerce him into taking part in the robbery. Meanwhile, Jim Brass comes under pressure to testify against his daughter, and tries to deal with his ex-wife Nancy's estate. With Ted Danson, Elisabeth Shue, George Eads, Jorja Fox, Eric Szmanda, Robert David Hall, Wallace Langham, David Berman, Elisabeth Harnois, Jon Wellner and Paul Guilfoyle.

The second episode of Amber - 10:00 BBC4 - sees the investigation into Dublin teenager Amber's whereabouts continue. Maeve is contacted by a prisoner who claims to have new information to share about the fourteen-year-old's disappearance - but can he be trusted? Drama, starring Justine Mitchell, Lauryn Canny and David Murray.
Following the attempt on his life, an air of vulnerability now surrounds Hannibal Lecter, helping to deflect Will Graham's accusations in Hannibal - 10:00 Sky Living. But not everyone believes his victim routine. Meanwhile, the discovery of the sliced body of a city councilman indicates the artistry of The Chesapeake Ripper, and Jack Crawford, increasingly convinced of Will's innocence, crashes Hannibal's dinner party to test his food for human DNA. Later, the BAU team makes a surprising discovery about someone long presumed dead. With Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas, Larry Fishburne, Scott Thompson, Aaron Abrams, Eddie Izzard and Raul Esparza.
Wednesday 11 June
Football Hooligan & Proud - 9:00 Channel Five - is exactly the sort of tabloideque programme you'd expect from a channel owned by a soft-core pornographer. The documentary about football supporters who actively seek out confrontations, shines a light into the underworld of Twenty First Century hooliganism. Rochdale fan Lee has just begun his third banning order and reveals how he was attracted to being a thug by 'the danger and the violence', while Bristol City follower Jay believes hooliganism is 'a way of life' and is a member of Casuals United, a nationwide group that also looks for trouble at marches and demonstrations. Jason Marriner is a mainstay of the Moscow Chelski FC Headhunters and is writing his second book about football violence, hoping that a film could be made of his life.

Cut off from contact with Chloe, armour-plated killing machine Jack pursues another lead - the injured and unconscious Simone - with his usual subtle as a flying brick tool-stiffening violence in the latest episode of 24: Live Another Day - 9:00 Sky1. Meanwhile, Simone's terrorist mother, Margot, takes drastic action to protect her secrets. Relations between Prime Minister Davies (Stephen Fry) and President Heller (William Devane) continue to sour, leading the latter to make a fateful decision (invade Britain, probably - that's usually the Americans' answer to someone standing up to them). And, back at the CIA's London HQ, computer whizz-kid Jordan is placed in danger by a traitor.
Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) and the Coast Australia team explore Queensland - 9:10 BBC2 - once memorably described by Billy Connolly as 'the Alabama of Australia.' Miriam Corowa investigates the engineering behind the 1970s Florida-style canal system of The Gold Coast. Brendan Moar dives headlong into a dangerous current to investigate first-hand the science of rip tides, while Xanthe Mallett visits a Second World War fortification at what could have been Australia's frontline and discovers what life was like waiting for the war to arrive. Emma Johnston joins a scientific hunt for sea cows, and Tim Flannery travels to Fraser Island to investigate what's at the end of the line for the longest sand drift system in the world.

In I Wanna Marry Harry - 9:00 ITV2 - a group of thick-as-pig's-slop American girls get a chance to 'show off their dance moves' at 'a glamorous pool party' attended by a faux Prince Harry. Long Island resident and 'promotional model' Kimberly's perfect date with 'Sir' is interrupted by an intrusion from a gaggle of stalking paparazzi. Possibly the most insulting and crass example of the utter bollocks which ITV2 serve up om a daily basis to their usual audience of brain-dead numskulls. If you even consider, for a second, watching this sick tripe, dear blog reader, then kindly don't visit this blog again. Because, frankly, we're better off without each other.

Thursday 12 June
Association football, dear blog reader, is a sport which is played between two teams of eleven players - or, if Portugal are one of them, two teams of nine ... or eight ... - using a spherical ball. Because, using a square one would be ruddy ridiculous. It is widely considered to be the most popular participation and spectator sport in the world. Except in the USA where the Americans don't even use its proper name and think it's something that girls play. The game takes place on a pitch of rectangular grass or artificial turf. The object is to score by getting the ball into the opposing goal and then stopping them from doing the same thing to you. Fairly, of course. Or, if you're Italian, any way you can. In general play, the two goalkeepers are the only players allowed to use their hands to touch the ball - although at least one former Argentine international tended to ignore that rule whenever he felt like it. The rest of the team normally use their feet to kick the ball. And, sometimes, each other. It's a game of two halves, Brian, and at the end of ninety minutes the team which scores the most goals will be Over The Moon and the other lot will be Sick As A Parrot. Or, to put it another way, it's a game of two halves, and extra time, and then the Germans usually win on penalties. The game is controlled - or, more often, not controlled - by an officious, whistle-happy berk who was bullied at school aided by two visually-impaired prats with flags. It was invented by the English but, whisper it, we're not really very good at it these days. The Brazilians, however, are. Usually. Except when they aren't. The Dutch and the Spanish are sometimes quite good too but, more often than not, they end up fighting among themselves after a couple of matches. Except that, in recently years, the Spanish have stopped doing that and, as a consequence, started winning things. Makes you think, doesn't it? The game has many rules, most of which are reasonably straight forward. Except for offside (don't ask, trust me, it's not worth it, we'll be here all day). Every four years the best thirty two nations in the world come together in a Spectacularly Expensive Corporate Brown-Tongued Hate-Fest which is hosted by the country that paid the largest bribes. Allegedly. Oh yes, very hot water. Scotland usually don't take part. Because, as noted, it's a tournament for the world's thirty two best national sides. Thirty one of them inevitably go home darkly muttering about bias, conspiracy, bad luck, dodgy red cards and 'that was never over the line.' There can be only one champion. A bit like the movie Highlander, if you will, only with rather less beheadings. Although, if you're ever seen Uruguay play ... Anyway, the World Cup starts tonight and the opening match Brazil versus Croatia (kick-off 9.00pm) will be covered - incompetently as always - by ITV. The twentieth staging of the World Cup gets under way at the Arena de Sao Paulo, where the host nation begin their Group A campaign. This is the second time that Brazil has hosted the tournament, with the last occasion in 1950 finishing with them as runners-up to their big rivals Uruguay. The feast of global football has remarkably not been held on South American soil since Argentina's controversial home victory (for which read bent as a David Beckham free-kick) of 1978. Brazil are always expected to be involved in the latter stages and have the honour of being the only nation to play in every World Cup finals, but the pressure on The Samba Boys is higher than ever this year, with nothing less than victory being acceptable to their adoring, yet hard-to-please, fans. Several Premier League-based players are expected to be involved, with the starting XI for the hosts looking to add their names to an illustrious list of World Cup heroes that includes the likes of Pele, Garrincha, Jairzinho, Rivalino, Socrates, Zico and Ronaldo. They begin against a Croatian side which needed a play-off against Iceland to qualify for the finals after finishing behind Belgium in their group and, while they possess a talented squad of players, they will not be expected to spoil the party this evening despite opening matches being notoriously difficult to predict. Plus, live coverage of the opening ceremony with Matt Smith and guests. Presented by odious grump greed bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles, with - rubbish - commentary by Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend, and - equally rubbish - analysis by Fabio Cannavaro, Lee Dixon and Patrick Vieira.

Chris Lintott, Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Mark Miodownik explore how cosmic impacts have shaped the universe, from asteroids crashing into the surface of the moon to galaxies colliding with each other in The Sky At Night - 7:30 BBC4. Plus, the presenters discover how evidence suggests the moon was formed from the biggest impact in Earth's history - one that melted the surface of the planet.

The last of the current series of Playhouse Presents - 8:30 Sky Arts1 - is Damned. After leaving her three sick children to be cared for by her mother, Rose breaks her phone, drops her coffee and arrives late for work at the social services department - which is as chaotic as her home. Former colleague Martin has managed to get into the building again and new temp, Nat, is struggling to get to grips with simple tasks on her first day, but co-worker Al helps her through the morning, taking every opportunity to mock and tease the colourful characters that make up the rest of the floor. Comedy, starring Jo Brand, Alan Davies and Kevin Eldon.

Possibly as an alternative to the football, BBC4 begins a repeat run of Simon Schama's acclaimed series A History of Britain - 9:00. The historian charts the four thousand years of British history prior to 1066 and The Battle of Hastings, from Stone Age Orkney, through four centuries of Roman occupation to King Alfred's ultimate victory over the Scandiwegians, which laid the foundations for the Anglo-Saxon kingdom later subjugated by the Norman invaders. if you missed this genuine, twenty four carat TV masterpiece first time around (and, even if you are watching Brazil and the Croats!), use your recording devices wisely, dear blog reader.

Friday 13 June
The BBC's coverage of the World Cup gets under way with Spain versus The Netherlands (kick-off 8.00pm). The opening Group B match for both teams, which takes place at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, is a repeat of the 2010 final (one of the worst games in the history of football, as it happens). The Spaniards in the Works enter the tournament as the reigning champions after beating the Dutchies in the last World Cup final in South Africa. What was expected to be a showpiece contest turned into an ill-tempered and depressingly poor affair which produced more yellow cards - fourteen - than shots on goal and saw Johnny Heitinga extremely sent off following a second booking in extra time, shortly before Spain produced a winner through Andres Iniesta. This evening's fixture could prove to be another cagey encounter, especially as both nations will be eager to start the campaign with a positive result (or, at least, not a negative), as they attempt to navigate their passage to the knock-out stage from a group which also includes Australia and Chile. While the Spanish side will be among the favourites for glory once again after winning their last three major tournaments and reaching the final of the Confederations Cup in Brazil last year, the Dutch will fancy their chances after going undefeated through the qualifying campaign, winning nine of their ten fixtures. Presented by yer actual Gary Lineker, with commentary by Steve Wilson and monosyllabic Mark Lawrenson, and analysis by the barely coherent Rio Ferdinand, full-of-himself French-type person Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer. Who will, hopefully, give La Grande Thierry a damned good elbow in the mush if he starts any of his stuck-up 'why isn't everybody talking about me, me, me, me, me, me, me' malarkey.

Killing Me Softly: The Roberta Flack Story - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary profile of the American singer, best known for her early 1970s hits 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face', 'Where Is The Love?' and 'Killing Me Softly With His Song'. The programme documents Roberta's middle class upbringing, born out of the self-contained hub of a segregated country and her relative late breakthrough, occurring in her mid-thirties. As a solo and duet artist she had her detractors for adapting her style to white traditions, but eventually won over a nation with her soft, gentle tones. Contributors include Dionne Warwick, Johnny Mathis and Cissy Houston, as well as several reflections from Roberta her very herself.

The Bradfield murder squad members are baffled as they struggle to build up a profile of the person they are currently hunting. Particularly as there is no discernible pattern to his grizzly crimes, or any clear motive in Nothing But The Night, another repeat classic Wire In The Blood - 10:00 ITV3. Meanwhile, Tony Hill has an encounter with a mysterious woman and Carol Jordan oversees a case review which entangles her in police politics and personal deception. Starring Wor Geet Canny Robson Green, Hermione Norris and Emma Handy.

And, so to the news: A painting revealed to be a Van Dyck portrait on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow is expected to sell for about half a million quid when it is auctioned later this year. The work was bought by Father Jamie MacLeod from an antiques shop in Cheshire twelve years ago for just four hundred knicker. The painting was identified after show presenter Fiona Bruce saw it and thought it might be genuine. Father MacLeod said that he would be 'sad' to part with the portrait but it had been 'a blessing' to own it. Fiona her very self asked her colleague of Fake Or Fortune?, the art expert, Philip Mould, to look at the painting. After a lengthy restoration process the painting was verified by Doctor Christopher Brown, one of the world's leading authorities on Van Dyck. Father MacLeod, who runs a retreat in the Peak District, said: 'It has been a blessing to own this magnificent portrait which has given me great pleasure over the years. I will be sad to part with it, though the proceeds will be put to excellent use going towards the acquisition of new church bells for Whaley Hall Ecumenical Retreat House in Derbyshire to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War in 2018. The painting is believed to be a sketch for a work called The Magistrates of Brussels, which hung in the city's town hall until it was destroyed by a French attack in 1695. Christie's specialist Freddie de Rougemont said: 'We are delighted to present this beautifully observed head study by Sir Anthony van Dyck for sale, particularly after its exciting re-discovery on the Antiques Roadshow. The picture is of great importance as it provides a fascinating insight into Van Dyck's working method and also constitutes a significant surviving document for the artist's lost group portrait of The Magistrates of Brussels.' The portrait will be on public display at Christie's New York from Saturday until Tuesday, then in London from 5 to 8 July when it will be sold at Christie's Old Master and British Paintings auction. Van Dyck was born in modern-day Belgium and came to work in England in 1632 at the invitation of King Charles I.

Channel Four has ordered a full series of Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney's sitcom Catastrophe. The show revolves around an Irish woman and an American man 'who make a bloody mess as they struggle to fall in love in London.' Channel Four's head of not particularly funny comedy, Phil Clarke, told the trade magazine Broadcast that the show will go to series 'near the end of the year.' It follows a successful, non-broadcast, pilot ordered from production company Avalon Television at the end of last year. Catastrophe was co-written by Pulling creator Horgan and 'Twitter comic' Delaney, as well as starring them both. Clarke also confirmed to Broadcast that the second series of Matt Berry's Toast Of London is 'being written as we speak.' oh joy. Cos that was about as funny as a kick in the stones. Horgan and Delaney previously made a sketch for BBC3's Feed My Funny strand on online shorts.

Comic Relief will 'no longer invest in tobacco, arms or alcohol companies', after 'reviewing its investments', it has said. What a pity it didn't 'review its investments' earlier, frankly. The charity came under criticism after BBC's Panorama revealed it had invested in firms which appeared to contradict the core values of Comic Relief. The charity has since spent two months reviewing its investment policy. Tim Davie, the chairman of Comic Relief, said that public trust was 'the cornerstone' of the charity. However, the review's recommendations stopped short of banning all 'unethical' companies to 'avoid an excessive reduction in the universe available for investment.' The review panel - headed by John Kingston, who is the chairman of the Association of Charitable Foundations - made five recommendations which also included promises to be more transparent with its accounts and to sign up to a United Nations 'responsible investment' policy. Comic Relief also said it wanted to 'set aside' a small proportion of money for 'social investment' to 'demonstrate the organisation's commitment' to using its money in support of its 'core values.' But, one of the recommendations said that Comic Relief should only screen out the sectors that 'directly conflict with its vision or bring the most reputational risk', and it added that 'trustees should aim for only a small number of absolute prohibitions.' Tim Davie said: 'We would be nothing without our many supporters to whom we have listened and will keep listening. We now have an investment policy that is firmly in line with the ethos of the charity, at the same time as making sure that the money we raise can go further to change lives both here in the UK and abroad.' Comic Relief has raised nearly a billion quid for worthwhile causes in the UK and abroad, and it pays out the money it receives to other charities, sometimes over several years. This means Comic Relief holds tens of millions of pounds at any one time and the charity uses a number of managed funds which invest that money on the charity's behalf, including in the stock market. Panorama revealed in December last year that between 2007 and 2009 some of these investments, amounting to millions of pounds, appeared to contradict several of Comic Relief's core aims. Despite its mission statement claiming it is committed to helping 'people affected by conflict', in 2009 it was revealed that the charity had six hundred and thirty thousand quid invested in shares in the weapons firm BAE Systems. Comic Relief also had more than three hundred thousand smackers invested in shares in the alcohol industry despite its mission statement saying it is 'working to reduce alcohol misuse and minimise alcohol related harm.' The majority were found to be invested in drink manufacturer Diageo. Comic Relief also appeals for money to fight tuberculosis and has given over three hundred thousand quid to a charity called Target Tuberculosis. Target TB believes that smoking may be responsible for more than twenty per cent of TB cases worldwide. Panorama also found that while raising funds in 2009, nearly three million notes of Comic Relief money was invested in shares in tobacco companies.
Lord Coe, the Conservative peer, former Olympic gold medallist and chairman of the London 2012 Olympics organising committee, is understood to have been approached to be the next chairman of the BBC Trust. At least, according to the Gruniad Morning Star. So, this is probably a load of lies, in that case. Government officials, the newspaper claims, have been 'quietly building a list of potential candidates', and have 'taken soundings' from senior broadcasting figures, with Coe understood to have been 'very informally' contacted about the role. The peer's combination of strong Tory credentials and a reputation burnished by the major success of the London games have made him frontrunner (s'cuse the pun) to succeed outgoing chairman, Lord Patten. Coe is said to have the 'firm support' of David Cameron, according to ITV News political editor Tom Bradby. The Prime Minister is ultimately responsible for ratifying the appointment. Coe's spokeswoman did not explicitly rule out his potential interest in the role, but did say that he is frequently raised as a prospect for high-profile jobs. 'Seb is linked to every job in London and this is another one,' said Susie Black, personal assistant to Coe. 'This is speculation at the moment.' Boris Johnson also immediately jumped on the bandwagon and loaned his support to Coe. The London mayor called Coe a 'first rate choice' for the role. 'I think it's fantastic news for the BBC and British broadcasting,' he said, speaking to ITV News. 'Seb Coe is a great leader. I've worked with him a lot over the last few years and I think he'll demand very high standards of the BBC but I think he'll be in exactly the right tradition of British broadcasting. It's a first rate choice.' The one hundred and ten grand-a-year, four days a week job has not yet been advertised, but the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is 'understood' to have 'appointed headhunters' to 'help define the scope' of the role and identify the best candidates. While the official process is yet to start, candidates on a list being compiled by senior officials, the Gruniad claims, include Dame Marjorie Scardino, the former chief executive of the company behind the Financial Times and Colette Bowe, the former chair of the broadcasting regulator Ofcom. Coe is not thought to have held a 'serious' meeting about his candidacy. However he already has a previous working relationship with BBC Director General Tony Hall. In 2009, Lord Hall, then chief executive of the Royal Opera House, was asked to chair a board to direct the Cultural Olympiad. This gave Hall a seat on the board of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, which Coe chaired. One alleged 'source' Copper's Narked to the Gruniad like a dirty stinking filthy grass that Coe's 'knitting together' of cross-party political support to win the London Olympic bid puts him 'in a good light.' He found fans in former London mayor Ken Livingstone and Tessa Jowell, the shadow minister for the Olympics. 'Seb is a person of such talent that he is spoilt for choice,' said Jowell. 'The BBC would be very fortunate but I suspect that his heart is still in sports leadership.' Coe also enjoys strong Tory credentials. He was an MP for five years before losing his seat in the 1997 general erection, returning to politics for a short time as William Hague's chief of staff after receiving a peerage in 2000. One alleged 'source' allegedly snitched that they 'could not imagine' Coe giving up on his 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 for a successor next year. 'I cannot see him giving up on athletics,' the alleged 'source' allegedly said. 'But then, why couldn't he do both? The BBC Trust role is not meant to be full time.'

ITV has poached Yonderland commissioner Saskia Schuster from Sky to be its new comedy commissioning editor. She will join the broadcaster this summer to replace Myfanwy Moore, who joined the BBC earlier this year. Schuster said: 'I'm thrilled to be joining the ITV family. ITV is leading the field across genres so when you throw into the mix passion and ambition for comedy growth, it's the most exciting place to be.' Lucy Lumsden, Sky's head of comedy, added: 'It has been a pleasure working with Saskia at Sky. Her time here has seen her commission and oversee a rich array of shows including Psychobitches, Little Crackers and Yonderland of which she can be very proud.' As Schuster leaves Sky, the broadcaster has promoted Ben Boyer from his current job as head of comedy development to become a commissioning editor. He has been with the broadcaster for almost two years, most recently commissioning and executive producing The Dog Thrower, written by Jon Ronson and starring Matthew Perry, for the Playhouse Presents strand. He has also represented Sky on the Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Awards jury for the past two years. Boyer said: 'Getting to commission for such a wide-ranging portfolio of channels is an incredible opportunity for a comedy fan with many and varied tastes.' Lumsden added: 'Ben Boyer has a fantastic talent for seeking out new, fresh, different and diverse shows which is key for a role working across our range of channels. He's a great member of my team and it gives me great pleasure to announce his promotion today.' Meanwhile, at Channel Four commissioning editor Fiona McDermott has been promoted to acting deputy head of comedy after Nerys Evans went on maternity leave earlier this month. As reported last week, Liz Lewin, who produced London Irish and Beaver Falls at the independent production house Company Pictures, will fill McDermott's job for the duration. And commissioning editor Rachel Springett has been taken on permanently after joining Channel Four on a temporary basis in November 2012.

Shrill, vastly annoying The ONE Show presenter Alex Jones has been confirmed as the host for BBC1's new gymnastics reality show, Tumble. So, that'll definitely be worth missing, then. The judges have also been revealed and include Olympic gymnast Nadia Comaneci, London 2012 medallist and Strictly Come Dancing champion Louis Smith, British gymnastics captain turned sports broadcaster Craig Heap and cirque artist Sebastien Stella. Tumble - which sounds even more wretched than Pro-Celebrity Drowning - will feature ten celebrities learning and mastering gymnastic skills across six weeks of live TV shows. The challenges will include tumbling, double trapeze, acrobatic gymnastics and trampolining. And, hopefully, not breaking their necks whilst doing so. British Olympian Beth Tweddle will act as a mentor for the celebrities. Jones said that she is 'thrilled' to be hosting the new show, adding: 'It is sure to offer jaw-dropping stunts and a visual spectacle. No-one has told me yet whether I will be required to don a leotard or master the balance beams but I am willing to give it a go. If this year has taught me anything it is that no challenge is too great or too high.' Comaneci said: 'I know what it's like to strive for that perfect ten. Your heart is pounding and your palms are sweaty, but when you step out onto that floor, or mount the bars or beam, you have to perform like your life depends on it. The celebrities are going to be put through a fitness, gymnastic and acrobatic training regime that's like nothing they'll ever have experienced, and I can't wait to see the results!' BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore promised that the show would 'push' celebrities to their 'physical limits' and bring gymnastics to Saturday nights 'like you've never seen before.' God help us.
The BBC has received almost twelve hundred whinges about its coverage of the European and local elections, saying it was biased towards UKiP. According to a typically shit-stirring and trouble-making piece by some pond scum louse of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star, the BBC has received eleven hundred and ninety complaints accusing it of either having given 'too much coverage' to UKiP, or being 'biased in favour' of Nigel Farage's party. Whch, makes a nice change from the usual whinges of the Daily Scum Mail and its scummy ilk that the BBC's bias is to the left of the political spectrum rather than the right. Which, one supposes proves that if a broad cross-section of people are whinging at you, you're probably doing some right. This is thought to be the most complaints the BBC has ever received about its coverage of a party during an election. The BBC received one hundred and forty nine complaints saying it had been biased against UKiP in its coverage. Seventy three complaints were made claiming a bias against the Labour party, though there were no complaints at all of a bias in favour of Labour (which, as noted, makes a nice change). There were no complaints of any bias towards the coalition government. Christ, what a surprise. 'Our coverage of all parties in the local and European elections has been proportionate and consistent with our guidelines on fairness and impartiality,' said a spokeswoman for BBC news and current affairs. Sadly, they didn't also tell those making such crass and ignorant whinges to just go away and grow the fuck up. They didn't do that because, of course, the BBC are far too polite to do any such thing. But, this blogger isn't. In Friday's edition of the BBC's Newswatch, which airs at 8.45pm on the BBC News channel, the corporation's political editor, slapheed Nick Robinson, addressed questions on the treatment of UKiP. Interviewer Samira Ahmed whinged to Robinson that the 'tone' of the BBC's coverage of UKiP around the local elections was 'over-egged', pointing out that its claims of a 'political earthquake' were exaggerated given the UKiP overall vote actually went down. Robinson defended the BBC's coverage saying that UKiP was 'no longer just a European party' and that UKiP were 'establishing themselves as the fourth party of English politics.' Robinson also pointed out that he never used the phrase 'there was an earthquake': 'I quoted Nigel Farage predicting there would be an earthquake, and in my coverage on the morning said that we'd felt the first tremors.' The BBC's political editor also made the point that Farage is a 'marmite' politician, who divides opinion. He added: 'The BBC gets flak for either giving him too much flak and on the other hand we get flak for giving him far too much airtime as well.' Good point, well made. The BBC did not break down the specific programmes people had whinged about in its coverage of the elections. However UKiP party members have enjoyed several appearances on Question Time. In total, Farage his very self has appeared at least sixteen times since 2009, which is more than the entire Green party, which has appeared eleven times over the same period. But then, nobody takes those middle-class hippie Communist Gruniad Morning Star readers even remotely seriously as a political force. As, indeed, will UKiP in a couple of years once the novelty has worn off. The BBC is bound by strict election guidelines, which include the rule that 'to achieve due impartiality, each bulletin, programme or programme strand, as well as online and interactive services, for each election, must ensure that the parties are covered proportionately over an appropriate period, normally across a week.'
Which brings us to Arsegate. One of billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's Australian newspapers has published a picture showing the Duchess of Cambridge's bare bottom, refusing to follow a 'ridiculous' ban imposed by the British media. The image of the royal bareness was taken during the royal couple's tour of Australia in April when they showed off their infant son, George, and was run in the Sydney Daily Torygraph a day after it appeared in German tabloid Bild, which declared she had 'a beautiful bum.' It shows the Duchess of Cambridge's blue and white summer dress lifted by a gust of wind when the royal couple got out of a helicopter in the Blue Mountains, fifty miles west of Sydney. The Sydney Daily Torygraph said that British newspapers had refused to run the photo 'out of respect' to the royals, but in a comment piece claimed this was 'an antiquated code of etiquette' under the headline My bare lady: Derri-heir to the throne is fair game. And then, those who work for newspapers wonder why it is that most normal people think they're scum. 'It seems a bit ridiculous to expect the rest of the world's media to follow suit, particularly in a world in which flesh and commercialism go hand in hand,' said Torygraph social writer Annette Sharp. 'If the Duchess can't be bothered protecting herself by having hem weights sewn into her garments, why should the media protect her?' The Duchess is, of course, no stranger to wardrobe malfunctions and struggled to control the hem of her red dress as she stepped off a plane in New Zealand ahead of her Australian tour. Diane Morel, a Blue Mountains local, took the Australian photo and almost deleted it before realising what she had captured. 'It wasn't until I got home and I popped my camera card into the computer that I realised what I had,' the forty seven-year-old told the newspaper, vowing to donate any money she raised from the photo's sale to a bushfire relief fund. During their tour, the royal couple met survivors and toured the scene of devastating Australian bush fires last year that destroyed more than two hundred homes. William and Kate have faced numerous battles in the past to protect their privacy by preventing the publication of photographs. In one of the most famous cases in 2012, French magazine Closer provoked outrage among the royals and sections of the British press when it published paparazzi photos of a topless Kate with her bare boobies hanging oot. The royals took legal action and French authorities promptly banned Closer from any use or resale of the offending pictures, the most intimate of which showed the Duchess topless and having sun cream rubbed into her nekked buttocks by her husband. The Torygraph argued those photos were taken while the Duchess was at a private chateau, but the Blue Mountains picture was on a public street. 'There is a very clear distinction between private and public property,' it said. The British press reacted with outrage to Bild's publication, with wax exploding in the ears of the Daily Scum Mail who called it 'a breach of privacy' while criticising a 'crude' caption that appeared alongside. Others reproduced the image but pixelated Kate's arse, with the Daily Mirra saying she would be 'deeply dismayed' by the embarrassing image. The decision to run the photo sparked division in Australia with one comment on the Torygraph website saying 'we've all got one, so what's the fuss'? Others were more critical. 'It doesn't matter who has had a "wardrobe malfunction", the photo shouldn't appear in the press,' a reader said.

Others may have wrestled with privacy issues after Bild published pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge's bare arsehole. But Sky News anchor - and odious waste-of-oxygen - Kay Burley got straight to the point after a news item on the story, telling the Duchess 'get yourself a six-pack of big pants, Kate. I mean, seriously.' The story clearly amused full of her own importance Burley – she earlier told Sky's royal correspondent Paul Harrison: 'That's a very serious face that you've got talking about this story, isn't it?' One can't help but wonder if Burley's advice to the Duchess is based on personal experience? Although, to be fair, the wretched woman has plenty of experience in this area as everything she says comes out of her arse.
From asses, dear blog reader, to tits I'm afraid. Scout Willis has taken her love of getting her knockers out in public to a whole new level, after posting a series of candid topless snaps to her Twitter page. In what was, reportedly, a 'protest' against Instagram's no-nudity policy (because that's such an important issue, obviously), the twenty two-year-old daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore has uploaded a number of pictures of herself walking down the street with no top on and her babe boobies wobbling about for all to see. Clearly extremely upset about the social network's decision to ban images of nipples, Scout decided to take matters into her own hands to get her point(s) across.
Britain's Got Toilets winners Attraction have brushed off Wee Sughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef from Crossroads' suggestion that they didn't make the most of their victory. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads criticised the performance group last month, claiming that they didn't take 'advantage' of their win and saying: 'Attraction won people over, but now they are appearing on an insurance advert.' However, Attraction choreographer Zoltán Szucs dismissed wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads' criticism, suggesting that the group will tour the UK when their act is perfected. 'The British public are waiting for a very special performance but it's not something that can happen straight away,' he said. 'We are working on two performances, an emotional one to thank the British people for voting for us, and an entertaining show for Las Vegas. Simon knows that we will do a UK tour when we're ready. The timing is not important; it is the quality. I want to build up Attraction to be a worldwide brand and I don't need to rush it.'
The phone-hacking trial is the result of 'a political hot potato', with the allegations against senior Scum of the World staff 'blown out of all proportion', the Old Bailey has been told. Jonathan Caplan QC, for the paper's former managing editor Stuart Kuttner, told jurors that the trial was 'driven' by the police's 'anxiety' over the first botched investigation into hacking in 2006, when the paper's then royal editor Clive Goodman, also a defendant in the current trial, was arrested, convicted and extremely jailed. Caplan started his closing speech by reading a transcript of a call Kuttner made to police in 2002 alerting them to a voicemail recording the paper had which 'might assist them' in their hunt for the missing Surrey schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Kuttner had even told the police that the paper had confirmed Dowler's mobile number and pin number from school friends and listed the voice messages the paper's chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck, had recorded, Caplan said. 'From that moment, the Surrey Police were fully on notice that the News of the World was in possession of recordings of messages from Milly Dowler's voicemail. That was Saturday 13 April 2002. Nine years after that, in August 2011, Mr Kuttner was lifted literally out of retirement when the Met Police called at his home and arrested him. He had been retired for two years, he had two heart attacks and had suffered a severe brain-stem stroke. What had happened to prod police into action all those years later?' Caplan asked. 'Could it be that someone had finally picked up Mr Kuttner's call to the assistant chief constable nine years before?' Caplan told the jury that the current trial began last October, eleven years after Kuttner called Surrey police and seven years after the arrests of Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was on a one hundred grand contract with the paper. 'One asks, perhaps rhetorically, did the News of the World and phone-hacking suddenly become a political hot potato? Were the police anxious that they might be perceived to have slipped, or have been slip-shod?. Did the crown prosecution think the dust should be blown off Mulcaire notebooks seized in 2006 and there should be other grounds for prosecution? Whoever turned up the heat on this particular potato, I only mention that because this case now cries out for some sense of proportion.' Caplan told the eight women and three men on the jury that the trial was 'unusual' for a number of reasons, pointing out that the glass wall which separates the defendants from the rest of the court was there to stop them 'jumping the dock' and attacking the judge. The Old Bailey, he said, is the country's central criminal court and more accustomed to trying terrorists, murderers and bombers. 'In this case there are no dangerous people in that dock, no one has been killed and no physical bombs have been detonated,' said Caplan. He went on to tell the jury that the prosecution's case was 'all about inference' and that it had made seven erroneous assumptions in its case against Kuttner. Caplan claimed that Kuttner did not 'cook the books', he did not have knowledge of hacking, he did not know who Mulcaire was until Mulcaire's arrest in 2006, nor did he know a second contract signed in 2005 for an extra five hundred quid a week for someone called Alexander was, in fact, for Mulcaire. Why would Kuttner have wanted to 'slash' Mulcaire's pay if he had conspired with him on hacking? 'Surely if you've a golden goose, you allow the goose to lay the golden eggs,' said Caplan. Jurors were told that the evidence against Kuttner was that he only knew of one intercepted voicemail and that was of Dowler's and he had alerted police to it. Former News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck told the police that school friends of Dowler had given him her mobile number and Kuttner had repeated that in his own conversation with the police. If there had been anything 'sinister' going on, why would Kuttner have volunteered this to the police? Caplan asked. He told jurors that Kuttner didn't approve of the Dowler hack, didn't agree to it and once he was informed of it, immediately went to the police. 'Some people in a lifetime would never have a crisis of conscience, some wouldn't know they had one if it hit them with a force of a ten-ton bus. Mr Kuttner knew that he had a crisis of conscience and wanted to tell police about this in case it could assist in the investigation,' he said. Kuttner claimed that he 'couldn't recall' who had told him about the hack, but he knows that he was not told it was Mulcaire. Caplan reminded jurors that two establishment figures and Sara Payne, mother of the murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne, had testified for Kuttner. 'If there was a firm called rent-a-witness, you would want this trio as your witnesses – archbishop, a peer of the realm who had been on the Press Complaints Commission and Sara Payne – a woman who had gone through the most appalling circumstances, and no doubt tremendous press intrusion, still came and spoke up for Mr Kuttner,' he said. Turning to Kuttner's police interview in 2011, Caplan said that the prosecution claimed Kuttner began to 'prevaricate and bluster' when confronted with an e-mail he had written to a Surrey police press officer regarding Dowler. This, he said, was 'imprecise and unfair' as it was 'reasonable' that Kuttner did not have a recollection about an e-mail sent nine years earlier. Caplan said the police were 'not keen' that Kuttner consult with anyone, even though he had retired two years before his detention and was without any records of his years at News International. Caplan also said that it was 'wrong' of the prosecution to suggest there was 'any significance' in the removal of a reference to Dowler's voicemail in a story on 14 April 2002 between the first and third editions. He said 'the cat was already out of the bag.' Kuttner had already told the police about the voicemail, so why would the paper want to conceal its possession of the message? The 'real' reason why the reference was removed was because the police had told the paper that the message could have been left by a professional hoaxer. The story was 'legalled and they would not have wanted to have inaccurate material and we say it was nothing more than that,' claimed Caplan. He added that the prosecution was also accusing his client of participating in a cover-up but that it was another situation in which the crown had 'zero' evidence. The fact is ' ten or even twenty times zero still equals zero.' All seven defendants deny the charges against them. Kuttner is facing a single charge that he conspired with others to intercept voicemails. The trial extremely continues.

The Hillsborough Family Support Group has said that the appointment of former Sun executive William Newman to the board of the successor to the Press Complaints Commission is 'totally unacceptable.' Newman, who signed a letter defending the Sun's infamously scummish and sick coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy, was one of twelve figures named to the board of the Independent Press Standards Organisation on Wednesday. 'For the Hillsborough families now going through the ordeal of the new inquest, this feels like a fresh insult,' said Margaret Aspinall, chair of the HFSG. 'It tells us that lessons have certainly not been learned by the press, despite their claims to the contrary.' Newman worked at the Sun under the then editor, the odious slob Kelvin MacKenzie when the title published its wholly discredited account of the disaster, published on the 19 April 1989 under the headline The Truth. The coverage quoted unnamed police accusing 'some fans' of urinating on the dead, pickpocketing bodies and beating up police officers giving the kiss of life. All of which was completely untrue. In a letter dated 28 April 1989 responding to widespread complaints, Newman wrote a letter to some of the families of the victims defending the paper's disgraceful coverage: 'We are sorry that, possibly clouded by grief, many have not understood that it is the Sun's duty as a newspaper to publish information, however hurtful and unpalatable it may be at the time. On reflection, we accept the way in which the article was displayed could have given cause for offence. For that we apologise. For the substance we do not.' Whether Newman has ever subsequently apologised to the families for these disgraceful and mendacious comments defending what were subsequently proved to be lies is not, at this time, known. Aspinall said that the role Newman played in the Sun's handling of the coverage of Hillsborough undermined Ipso's credibility. 'Newman had a key role in defending the outrageous coverage of the Sun of the Hillsborough disaster and in the abject failure of the newspaper to properly apologise when it was clear they had printed hurtful lies and not "the truth,"' she said. 'That is why his appointment to the board of the new regulator is totally unacceptable to us and we believe will undermine public confidence in it.' Aspinall said that appointments panel, which is chaired by Sir Hayden Phillips, 'needs to urgently to reconsider its decision if this new body is to have any credibility.'
Rolf Harris' daughter smashed up his paintings and banged her head against a wall after she found out he had been accused of assaulting a friend of hers, his trial has heard. The eighty four-year-old, who denies twelve counts of indecent assault, made the revelations in cross-examination as the case approached its third week. He told the trial that he only began a physical relationship with the main complainant in the case when she was eighteen years old but she claims that he abused her when she was just thirteen. Harris told the jury of six men and six women at Southwark Crown Court about the furious reaction of his daughter, Bindi, when she heard about the allegations. Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC asked him: 'Bindi was beside herself?' He replied: 'I suppose so, yes.' Wass said: 'She was in such a state she was banging her head against a wall.' During a second day of cross-examination, Tolf repeatedly denied the allegations against him, describing them as 'lies'. He denied his claim that the woman had asked him for twenty five thousand pounds was 'an attempt to discredit' her and her family. He also denied trying to 'vilify' the alleged victim Tonya Lee. Lee, who has waived the usual right to anonymity given to alleged sex offence victims, claims that Rolf touched her when she travelled to Britain from Australia in 1986. Rolf told the court that he accused her of making up the allegation because her story 'didn't hold water.' He denied ever meeting Lee and when asked why she would have lied, he said: 'It would only be to support her story. I can't imagine why she would say that but it's all lies.' Rolf also dismissed another allegation, made by a woman who claims he groped her as she got an autograph from the star at a community centre in Portsmouth, telling the court he was 'never there.' He said that he would not have needed to tour the country to promote his single 'Two Little Boys' because it was 'an instant hit and hardly needed any promotion.' He also said that he would not have performed the song unaccompanied. Rolf told the court: 'She's lying. I wasn't there. She must be making it up.' He was asked about another claim, made by a woman who has appeared as a witness, but whose allegations do not relate to a charge, in which he is said to have told her that he wanted to be the first person to give her 'a tongue kiss.' He said: 'I would never say that. I hate that expression.' Rolf also dismissed another allegation by a separate witness who claimed that he groped her and said he had 'no recollection' of meeting another witness who has told the court he assaulted her in Malta. Rolf, of Bray, denies indecently assaulting four women aged between seven or eight years old and nineteen years old between 1968 and 1986. The trial continues.

Convicted wicked kiddie-fiddler Max Clifford has lodged an appeal against his lengthy jail sentence for a string of indecent assaults. This month, the seventy one-year-old self-styled 'PR guru' was extremely jailed for eight years after being convicted of attacks carried out between 1977 and 1984. Passing sentence at Southwark crown court, the judge Anthony Leonard told Clifford that he was a very naughty man and that his personality and position in the public eye were reasons his crimes had not been revealed earlier. 'The reason why they were not brought to light sooner was because of your own dominant character and your position in the world of entertainment which meant that your victims thought that you were untouchable, something that I think you too believed,' Leonard said. 'These offences may have taken place a long time ago, when inappropriate and trivial sexual behaviour was more likely to be tolerated, but your offending was not trivial, but of a very serious nature.' The judge said that due to the age of the offences, Clifford was charged under an act from 1956, which set the maximum term for each charge at two years. Under legislation passed in 2003, the maximum term would have been ten years, and the worst instances would have been charged as rape or assault by penetration, which can attract a life term. Clifford, who branded his accusers 'fantasists', remained defiant before his sentencing, saying: 'I stand by everything I have said in the last seventeen months.'

FIFA is facing fresh allegations of corruption over its controversial decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. The Sunday Times claims to have 'obtained' millions of secret documents - e-mails, letters and bank transfers - which, it alleges, are 'proof' that the disgraced Qatari football official Mohamed Bin Hammam made payments totalling over three million quid to football officials in return for their support for the Qatar bid. Qatar 2022 and Bin Hammam have always strenuously denied the former FIFA vice-president actively lobbied on their behalf in the run-up to the vote in December 2010. But, according to e-mails 'obtained' by The Sunday Times, it is 'now clear' that Bin Hammam, was lobbying on his country's behalf at least a year before the decision was made. The documents also appear to show how Bin Hammam was making payments directly to football officials in Africa to, allegedly, buy their support for Qatar in the contest. When approached by The Sunday Times to respond to their claims, Bin Hammam's son Hamad Al Abdulla declined to comment on his behalf. Although the vast majority of the officials did not have a vote, The Sunday Times alleges that Bin Hammam's strategy was to win a groundswell of support for the Qatari bid which would then influence the four African FIFA executive committee members who were able to take part in the election. The Sunday Times also alleges that it has documents which prove Bin Hammam paid three hundred and five thousand Euros to cover the legal expenses of another former FIFA executive committee member from Oceania, Reynald Temarii. Temarii, from Tahiti, was unable to vote in the contest as he had already been suspended by FIFA after he was caught out by a previous Sunday Times sting asking bogus American bid officials for money in return for his support. The paper now alleges that Bin Hammam provided Temaril with 'financial assistance' to allow him to appeal against the FIFA suspension, delaying his removal from the executive committee and blocking his deputy, David Chung, from voting in the 2022 election. The paper claims that had Chung been allowed to vote he would have supported Qatar's rivals Australia. Instead there was no representative from Oceania allowed to vote, a decision which may have influenced the outcome in Qatar's favour. Bin Hammam was initially banned from football for life in July 2011 after being found guilty of attempted bribery. The allegations centred around bids to buy votes in the FIFA presidential election of that year. However his ban was annulled a year later by the Court of Arbitration for Sport which said there was 'insufficient evidence' to support the punishment. Bin Hammam then quit football saying that he had seen 'the very ugly face of football.' FIFA issued him with a second life ban in December 2012 for 'conflicts of interest' while he was president of the Asian Football Confederation. In March 2014, the Daily Torygraph reported that a company owned by Bin Hammam had paid former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and his family more than one million smackers. Payments were claimed to have been made shortly after Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup. The paper also makes fresh allegations about the relationship between Bin Hammam and Warner. Although Warner was forced to resign as a FIFA vice-president in 2011, after it was proved he had helped Bin Hammam to bribe Caribbean football officials in return for their support in his bid to oust the long-standing FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the paper says it 'has evidence' which shows more than $1.6m was paid by Bin Hammam to Warner, including four hundred and fifty thousand dollars in the period immediately before the vote. The new allegations will place FIFA under fresh pressure to re-run the vote for the 2022 World Cup, which was held in conjunction with the vote for the 2018 tournament. FIFA's chief investigator Michael Garcia is already conducting a long-running inquiry into allegations of corruption and wrongdoing during the 2018 and 2022 decisions. He is due to meet senior officials from the Qatar 2022 organising committee in Oman on Monday. But that meeting may now have to be postponed in light of The Sunday Times revelations.

It was early-morning chaos and warnings of impending Armagiddeon Times when BBC Radio 4 failed to broadcast The Shipping Forecast for the first time in more than ninety years. Now that is a post-apocalyptic zombie nightmare and no mistake. The BBC radio service is something of an institution, metronomically broadcasting four forecasts a day since 1924, a routine which failed for the first time at 5.20am on Friday. A 'technical glitch' meant the BBC's World Service was played in its place, an error that prompted listeners to take to Twitter to voice their bewilderment. The Gruniad Morning Star whom, as previously noted, appear to believe that Twitter is The Sole Arbiter of The Worth Of All Things, quoted a couple of people whom you've never heard of whinging about what a right shite state of affairs this was. The BBC was, reportedly, only able to resolve the issue at 5.40am when it cut back to the Radio 4 programme. Friday morning's Shipping Forecast eventually aired 6.40am. BBC Radio 4 presenter Kathy Clugson apologised for the mistake, saying: 'You're listening to BBC Radio 4. Our apologies. It's 5.40am and we've been happily broadcasting News Briefing. But unfortunately due to a technical error, you've not been hearing us, so you have been hearing the BBC World Service. We're sorry about that. We're looking into it and we'll try and broadcast The Shipping Forecast for long-wave listeners during the course of the Today programme.' Produced by the Met Office, on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, The Shipping Forecast is broadcast at 12.48am, 5.20am, 12.01pm and 5.54pm.
Balding waste-of-space chebend (and drag) Phil Collins has made his first stage appearance since his alleged 'retirement' - by performing at his sons' school music concert. Phew. That's a relief. I thought for a second he was making a comeback.

The actress Barbara Murray has died at the age of eighty four. Barbara Murray appeared in Doctor Who in 1982, playing Lady Cranleigh in the story Black Orchid opposite Peter Davison. Born in London in 1929, Barbara made her stage debut in 1949 working in regional rep at the Newcastle Playhouse in Benton. Later that year she appeared in her first film, Badger's Green before appearing as Shirley Pemberton in the classic Ealing comedy Passport To Pimlico. Her success in movies led to a string of roles on the small screen, where she became a familiar face, with a career spanning five decades. Some of her more memorable TV roles include parts in The Pallisers, His and Hers, Never a Cross Word, The Plane Makers and its sequel The Power Game, The Escape of RD7, Danger Man, The Saint, Robin's Nest, Department S, The Strange Report, The Mackinnons, Albert and Victoria, The Bretts and The Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling. Her film work continued into the 1960s (including a role in the Tony Hancock film The Punch and Judy Man). West End appearances included the thriller Wait Until Dark, the comedy Flip Side and the drama An Ideal Husband. She joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Aldwych Theatre in 1962 for the premiere of Harold Pinter's The Collection, playing alongside Michael Hordern and Kenneth Haigh in Peter Hall's production. She also appeared with Peter O'Toole in Pygmalion and opposite John Mills in Little White Lies. On Broadway she appeared briefly at the Biltmore Theatre in Leslie Weiner's comedy about a family-run lingerie business, In The Counting House. Barbara retired to Spain in the 1980s where, earlier this year, she fell and broke her hip. She died in hospital on 20 May. She was twice married and divorced, and is survived by three daughters from her first marriage to the actor John Justin.

Writing that Douglas Adams cut from his Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy novels is to be published for the first time after being found in his archive. He wrote sixteen chapters for an early version of Life, The Universe and Everything - but abandoned it, filed the typescript away and started again. It has now been found, along with other unseen passages, in an archive of his work at the University of Cambridge. Extracts will be included in The Frood, a new biography of Douglas by Jem Roberts. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, in which Arthur Dent travels the universe after Earth is destroyed, first gained popularity as a BBC radio series in 1978. An initial novel was published in 1979 and was followed by four more along with a TV adaptation and a movie. Adams died in 2001 at the age of forty nine. His family gave Roberts permission to look at his papers after they were loaned to St John's College, Cambridge. They included the abandoned draft for Life, The Universe and Everything, the third book in the series. 'The original version was going brilliantly - he had loads of really funny chapters and scenes - and then he just decided to abandon the whole lot and start from scratch,' Roberts told the BBC News website. 'The book that we know has exactly the same plot. He'd written a version that was about two thirds of the way through before he abandoned it. A lot of people thought it had gone in the bin. The manuscript with about sixteen chapters is right there in St John's College.' When he started the book from scratch, Adams kept the story outline but rewrote most of the action, leaving 'only the odd scrap that's recognisable', Roberts said. Asked why Adams rejected the manuscript, the biographer speculated: 'It was during the period when he split up with his girlfriend, which was a major ruction in his life. He was extremely unhappy at the time. I think he just wanted a whole fresh start.' Roberts' biography, which will be published in September, will also include passages that were left out of the original Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy novel. 'There are two short extracts, which are very entertaining actually, which were cut from the first book,' Roberts said. 'They're little asides, maybe a couple of pages each. One of them is all about the history of the Dentrassi, who work on the Vogon ships, and there's a bit where Arthur goes on this long reverie about science, which is very out of character for him, which I think is maybe why it got cut.'

A man has been ordered not to contact Coldplay singer Chris Martin (made entirely of hummus) and Countdown presenter Rachel Riley after sending hundreds of abusive tweets. Anthony Wells, of Chelmsford, admitted tweeting death threats to Riley and 'harassing' her for seven months, the Crown Prosecution Service said. It added that Martin had chosen not to pursue charges after the plea against Riley. Basildon Crown Court also sentenced Wells to a hospital order under the Mental Health Act. The restraining order means he cannot make any contact with the celebrities for five years. Prosecutor Punam Malhan, said: 'Mr Martin indicated that a plea to the charge involving Ms Riley would be acceptable to ensure that Mr Wells gets the medical help he needs and that he was content for us to not proceed in relation to the remaining charge. Taking Mr Martin's view into account, we decided it was no longer in the public interest to continue with the second charge of harassment. Everyone should be able to go about their daily lives free from harassment caused by someone deliberately making offensive, violent messages about them on social media.'

On Friday evening, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self attended Uncle Scunthorpe's latest Record Player event at the Tyneside. This week, it was the hard-rockin' down 'n dirty sounds of yer actual Mssrs Aye & Dee See. Not yer actual Keith Telly Topping's normal cup of cocoa let it be said but, to be fair, at least it got him out of the house for the night. And, not only that, but he and his quiz partner, Vicky, won Mr Drayton's fiendishly complex pop quiz with sixteen and a half out of twenty. Five English pounds and a copy of Hammer Of The Gods. Not to be sniffed at, dear blog reader. Thus, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day, dear blog reader, have some loud abrasive noises from Australia (and Dunston).

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