Sunday, June 15, 2014

Week Twenty Six: The Orange Revolution (World Cup Special)

England's World Cup campaign opened with defeat against Italy in the steamy heat of the Arena Amazonia in a hot and sweaty Manaus. Mario Balotelli's header just after the break settled an entertaining game after Daniel Sturridge had equalised Claudio Marchisio's fine strike. England were, ultimately, undone by defensive vulnerability in a display which possibly deserved a draw and contained plenty which would have pleased manager Roy Hodgson. But, despite the - for once, genuine - 'plenty of positives to take from the game' type thing, the bottom line is that England now face a real scrap for survival against Uruguay - and probably Luis Suarez - in Sao Paulo after Oscar Tabarez's men surprisingly lost 3-1 to Costa Rica earlier. England's players tired visibly towards the end of a game played in the tropical climate of Brazil's Amazonian rainforest and Hodgson must hope not too much energy has been drained from his players. There was also a blow for England's backroom staff as physiotherapist Gary Lewin was taken off on a stretcher after being injured treading on a water bottle whilst celebrating Sturridge's goal. A comedy prat-fall. That sort of summed up the night, really. Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws' Raheem Sterling made a stand-out contribution after he was selected to start and England looked a constant threat going forward until they ran out of steam in a humid and oppressive atmosphere. Italy produced moments of quality and struck the woodwork through Antonio Candreva and a late free-kick from Andrea Pirlo, who defied his thirty five years and the environment to stroll through the game with his trademark quality and class. England now fly back to Rio to recover knowing they will threaten any side in their group, but further repeats of defensive frailties could be fatal for their World Cup ambitions. Hodgson's decision to play Sterling ahead of Adam Lallana was a bold one - and the youngster more than repaid the faith shown in him. He illustrated exactly why Hodgson had chosen him in the opening moments with pace and a shot that flew inches wide with Italy keeper Salvatore Sirigu, deputising for the injured Gianluigi Buffon, beaten. Sirigu then saved from Jordan Henderson but Italy, with Pirlo inevitably the orchestrator, were causing problems of their own as the left-sided link of Leighton Baines and Rooney looked very much like a work in progress. England were a real threat, albeit this was coupled with flaws at the back, and it took a crucial touch from Italy defender Andrea Barzagli to divert Danny Welbeck's cross away with Sturridge waiting to apply the finishing touch. Italy took the lead on thirty five minutes, Pirlo deceiving Sturridge with a clever dummy following a corner, setting up Marchisio to drill a low shot from twenty five yards through a crowded penalty box and past Joe Hart. England needed a swift response and delivered it almost instantly. Sterling's pass cut through the right-hand side of Italy's defence and Rooney offered up the perfect invitation for Sturridge to steer in his cross at the far post. Italy ended the half on top as Phil Jagielka headed off the line from Balotelli and Candreva struck the post from a tight angle. Hodgson addressed the problems on England's left flank by switching Welbeck from the right to start the second half - but this was once again the source of problems as Italy regained the lead five minutes after the break. Baines could not prevent Candreva getting in a cross, and Balotelli escaped from Gary Cahill to score with a simple header at the far post.

Match Of The Day Live had overnight ratings figures of 11.51 million punters between 10.20pm and 1.30am with a peak of 15.64 million around 11:40. Just over twelve million viewers were still around at 12.45am, during the match's final few minutes. This is said to be one of the highest rated programme ever shown after 11pm in over eighty years of television broadcasting in the UK. It had the the third highest audience share ever recorded for a single broadcast (seventy eight per cent) and the highest average audience ever recorded for its time slot. In comparison, the audience for England's first match at the 2010 World Cup against the USA peaked at twenty million, with an average of 16.1 million - but that game kicked off at half-past-six in the afternoon. The ratings, of course, only count people watching at home and on TV. Before the match, the British Beer and Pub Association estimated that three million people would watch in pubs and bars. Although where, exactly, they got that figure from, they didn't say. Thousands more saw the match on big screens at the Isle of Wight music festival, where fans had to choose between watching the football or The Red Hot Chili Peppers on the main stage. Most, wisely, chose the football over the disgraceful, tuneless American hippies. Earlier in the day, an average of 5.46 million watched Costa Rica cause an upset, beating Uruguay 3-1. The match, on ITV, peaked at its conclusion with 7.11 million at 9.45pm. Elsewhere, the latest episode of Casualty was watched by 3.89m from 9.10pm, following Pointless (4.11m) and The National Lottery: In It to Win It (3.81m). BBC2 broadcast a repeat of Yes, Prime Minister (1.11m), I ♥ 1988 (nine hundred and sixty eight thousand) and Red Dwarf (seven hundred and fifty thousand). On Channel Four, an showing of Forrest Gump appealed to nine hundred and one thousand from 9pm. Channel Five's Big Brother: Power Trip took seven hundred and eighty two thousand. Earlier, Autopsy: Whitney Houston's Last Hours had five hundred and four thousand). On the multichannels, ITV3's Doc Martin had an audience of seven hundred and seventy nine thousand at 8pm. Wallander attracted five hundred and ninety thousand on BBC4 at 9pm.

Over eight million overnight punters watched The Netherlands demolish the reigning champions Spain in the World Cup on Friday evening as the BBC's coverage dominated Friday's ratings. The rematch of the 2010 World Cup final, which the Dutch won 5-1 in a scintillating display of attacking football was seen by an average audience of 8.22 million from 7.30pm on BBC1, a fraction more than the audience ITV had for the Brazil versus Croatia game the night before. The audience peaked at 11.05 million around 9.30pm. Just around the time Arjen Robben was knocking in the fifth goal, in fact. ITV's coverage of Cameroon versus Mexico earlier in the day was watched by an average audience of 3.33 million from 4pm, while the late game between Chile and Australia was seen by 3.1 million from 10.30pm. Airing after an hour-long episode of Coronation Street, a Benidorm repeat was seen by 1.74 million at 9.30pm on ITV. BBC1's evening ended with 2.79 million for The Graham Norton Show at 10.45pm. On BBC2, Antiques Road Trip was seen by 1.53 million at 7pm, followed by 1.24 million for Sea City at 8pm. Viewing figures rose to 1.49 million for Gardeners' World, before dropping to seven hundred and thirty thousand for the Natural World special The Bat Man of Mexico: Natural World at 9pm. Alan Carr: Chatty Man was Channel Four's highest-rated show of the evening, pulling in an average audience of 1.28 million. It was preceded by Celebrity Fifteen To One and Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown, which drew seven hundred thousand and 1.04 million respectively. The first Big Brother live eviction was seen by a mere eight hundred and eight four thousand punters at 9pm, whilst new - and wretched - dating show Stand By Your Man attracted five hundred and forty one thousand sad, crushed victims of society immediately afterwards.

'We've just seen one of the greatest displays in yonks,' said a breathless Gary Lineker at the conclusion of a quite memorable episode of Match Of The Day Live. And he wasn't wrong. This blogger must say, as for the BBC's coverage overall - Thierry Henry being in love with his own reflection notwithstanding - after two days of watching the rubbish ITV serve up in the name of boosting Adrian Chiles' bank balance, wasn't it just beyond terrific to finally be see some professional broadcasters? Even Rio Ferdinand wasn't as annoying as this blogger had feared he would be, though the moment when he talked about having watched the opening match 'with the twins' did summon up quite an interesting series of images in Keith Telly Topping's head before discovering that he was actually talking about Fábio and Raefael. Also, it took just eleven minutes before Alan Shearer cracked his first joke in ... well, recorded history, actually. It was about elbowing somebody in the face. First rule of comedy, talk about what you know. Mind you, Steve Wilson came up with an early contender for the worst joke of the competition in his commentary on the Netherlands versus Spain game, when noting that after the sad demise of Paul the Psychic Octopus, this year's alleged psychic World Cup animal is, apparently, a turtle. 'As someone famously said,' he told Mark Lawrenson, 'you win nothing with Squids.' Don't call us, Steve, we'll call you. To be fair, he did make up for that by the end, with one genuinely witty line ('there's not a turtle or an octopus in the world who could've seen this coming') and, finding time for quote from R.E.M. as well. For Spain, who seemed to be having one of those Twilight Of The Gods-type nights, it really might be the end of the world as we know it.
The World Cup kicked off with big ratings for ITV on Thursday, overnight data reveals. The channel's - thoroughly wretched - coverage of the opening ceremony and then Brazil's controversial win over Croatia scored an average audience of 8.2 million from 7pm. It peaked at twelve and a half million punters at around 9.30pm. The rest of the night's ratings across all channels generally dipped due to the World Cup coverage. On BBC1, Celebrity MasterChef continued with 3.5m at 8pm for a ninety minute episode. A Mrs Brown's Boys repeat had an audience of 2.8m at 9.30pm, while Question Time interested 2.2m at 10.35pm. BBC2's Springwatch gathered 1.9m at 8pm. Mock The Week returned with a million viewers at 10pm. On Channel Four, George Clarke's Amazing Spaces brought in 1.1m at 8pm, followed by Benefit Tenants with 1.3m at 9pm. Channel Five's Trauma Doctors attracted seven hundred and fifty one thousand at 9pm, followed by Big Brother: Power Trip with nine hundred and two thousand at 10pm.

Ten minutes before the end of the opening World Cup game between Brazil and Croatia in São Paolo, another angry demonstration of disgruntled and rather stroppy locals kicked-off outside the media centre in Rio and, according to the odious greed bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles (who looked like he'd just shat in his own pants), some of those taking part began throwing rocks at the ITV studio. A very definite post-apocalyptic zombie nightmare. They must've been viewers of Daybreak, clearly. 'We were all sitting up here and then suddenly sharp, clattering sounds started greeting our ears and that was them pelting the glass of our studio and other studios around here. We did try to explain to them none of this is our fault at ITV Sport,' whinged Chiles. Yes it is. You employed Andy Townsend in the first place.
Brazil, dear blog reader. The home of football. They didn't invent it, it's true (we've got that on our charge sheet) but they took the game and did something with it that nobody expected. They made it beautiful. Those World Champion teams of 1958, 1962 and 1970 (and, the one that didn't win The World Cup but should have in 1982) taught us how to be outrageous, dazzling and sexy. Everything that ITV's football coverage isn't, in other words. The country that put the joy into football and the broadcaster that manages to suck all of the joy out of every match they cover. Quite a juxtaposition. As, outside the stadium, riot police attacked protesters with tear gas and batons inside, grumpy greed bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles simpered and spent his time licking Fabio Cannavaro's crack. God it was horrifying to watch. How can a major broadcaster get it so wrong, so often? Their 'Bra-silllll' theme tune is, already, the most irritating thing in the whole world (bar none) and we've got to suffer another month of it. According to an ITV spokesperson, and I'm genuinely not making this up, Chiles gives their coverage, 'the man-in-the-street angle that the BBC lacks.' Which presumably explains why, whenever the Beeb and ITV both cover a match simultaneously, nine-out-of-ten punters prefer to watch Gary Lineker and co - you know, professionals - rather than an waste-of-space sacked breakfast TV flop. Cannavaro had a look on his face that seemed to scream: 'I was told this was an English language channel.' The odious Chiles paused only from cumming in his West Brom undies over his new bestest friend, Fabio, to ask a really pissed-off looking Patrick Viera: 'You're in danger of being left out, Patrick. What are your World Cup memories?' Sadly, Viera didn't reply: 'Well, I won it.' Equally tragically, Lee Dixon did chose that moment to violently kick the bell-end Chiles up a-height like he did to David Ginola in the League Cup in 1995. Then, amazingly, it actually got worse. We had the sight of the really annoying Ian Wright, a man totally in love with the sound of his own voice, pestering some hapless German tourist of Copacabana Beach. That was followed by the Opening Ceremony which this blogger chose to avoid as he popped out for a takeaway. Apparently, I didn't miss much. It was the usual stuff - dancers, men on stilts - although, tragically, we didn't have another appearance of Dunga The Dung Beetle from the Opening Ceremony four years ago. Jennifer Lopez was Dunga's stand in, seemingly after a will-she-won't-she story that fascinated all of three people. And, just in case you think it's just this blogger who has it in for the hapless greed bucket (and drag) Chiles, seems not. Which is very gratifying.
ITV are also employing as part of their extensive - and, mostly, not very good - commentary team in Brazil Clarke Carlisle, their own 'captive intelligent footballer.' Who is almost exactly like the BBC's captive intelligent footballer, Garth Crooks, in that he can talk for England. Unlike Garth Crooks, however, Carlisle never actually played for England. Northampton, yes, but not England. Now, he may be 'football's cleverest man' with his ten A-grade GSCEs, but Carlisle clearly isn't too hot on the subject of geography. Passing his verdict on Ecuador's group opener against Switzerland on Sunday, after the South American's took an early lead through Enner Valencia's header, Clarke slickly attempted to lavish praise on Ecuador's strike options. 'When Jackson Martinez can't get in the side, they must be pretty good,' said the man who won Britain's Brainiest Footballer in 2002. Unfortunately for Clarke, the side that Martinez can't get into is Columbia he being, you know, Columbian.

Quite apart from its dreadful, amateurish coverage, ITV Player is, once again, facing criticism after suffering technical problems during the opening match. The online streaming service cut out at important moments during Brazil and Croatia's opening fixture in São Paulo. The service stopped just as Brazil's Neymar stepped up to take a crucial penalty in the seventy first minute of the match, which saw the tournament hosts secure a 3-1 victory. The ITV Player Twitter account attempted to address the problems, posting: 'We're seeing unprecedented numbers of users during the game.' Because, of course, the daft glakes had only expected about five people were going to want to watch the opening of the most popular sporting competition in the world apart from the Olympics. 'We apologise for any inconvenience,' they continued. 'We're working hard to resume normal service.' They later added: 'We're so sorry for the disruption tonight. It wasn't planned and we know it came at a crucial time during the match. Apologies again.' It isn't the first time that the broadcaster has been criticised for its World Cup coverage. In 2010, a fault on ITV HD saw one million fans miss England's opening goal of the tournament in South Africa, after coverage suddenly cut to an advert.

So, ITV's World Cup coverage appears to have got off on the wrong foot. Not only did the broadcaster face a chorus of complaints after online problems, but its pre-match build-up also attracted attention for all the wrong reasons. An unfortunate camera angle left pundit Glenn Hoddle's tight trousers in full view, leading to endless mirth on social media.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping can't stand Thierry Henry, dear blog reader. Never could. Great player, of course, no question whatsoever about that. But, he knew it. There was always a strutting arrogance about Henry when he played that this blogger, personally, always found extremely distasteful. Plus, he's one of those blokes that always seems to walk around with a look on his face like he's just smelled shit nearby. However, this is not an opinion that's share by many others and Henry does appear to have been something of a hit as a pundit for the BBC at this World Cup. At least, if social media is any indication (which, despite what the Gruniad Morning Star would have you believe, it really isn't). However, comments he made during the England versus Italy game have reawakened one of the most controversial moments of his career. One of the main incidents from the first-half was a penalty shout from the Italians from what appeared to be handball against Glen Johnson. Henry - along with Rio Ferdinand and Alan Shearer - put forward a solid case for the England defender not being penalised - noting that as Johnson had his hands by his side, the referee was probably correct not to award a spot kick. Then Gary Lineker asked, mischievously:: 'Ever get away with a handball, Thierry?' The reference, of course, was to Henry's deliberate handball against Ireland in their World Cup play-off in 2009 which wasn't spotted by the referee and led to a goal. Many in Ireland still claim that one incident cost the Republic their place at the finals. Henry laughed off the comment saying: 'No, never.' At that point the shit really hit the fan across the Irish sea. They've got long memories in the Emerald Isle, obviously. I mean, look they still hate us over The Potato Famine (not entirely undeservedly, either).
BBC commentator - and plank - Jonathan Pearce became the subject of abject derision on social media after his appallingly wretched failure to understand the basic concept of goal-line technology. The BBC veteran worked himself up into a right old frenzy during Sunday's clash between France and Honduras, when the goalkeeper Noel Valladares clearly bundled Karim Benzema's shot over his own goal-line early in the second half, to double France's lead. The Real Madrid forward's effort hit the inside of one post and rolled along the line but, as Valladares tried to claw the ball away, he could only push it, momentarily, over the line before eventually scrambling it clear. The technology system worked exactly as it was supposed to and immediately picked up the fact that the ball had crossed the line, awarding France the goal. But, the former Robot Wars commentator Pearce seemingly struggled to understand the concept, despite co-commentator Martin Keown's best efforts at an explanation. Jeez, when Martin Keown understands something and you don't, it's time to go back to school, frankly. The first stage of the replay showed Benzema's effort had hit the inside of the post, where the whole ball hadn't - at that stage - crossed the line, before moving on to show the goalkeeper's mishap resulting in the goal. 'Well, look at the boos and the Honduran players. And look at this again. We've seen so many spurious goal line technology replays. And it signals no goal,' bellowed the gormless berk Pearce. 'No goal has gone up on the screen. The fans have heard it, the Honduran players have seen it. Oh, goodness me, they've changed their minds now. Does goal line technology work or doesn't it? Which replay are we supposed to believe? This was supposed to be a flawless system.' As Pearce began ranting that the referee couldn't give a goal if he had any doubt, Keown - showing the patience of a man explaining quantum physics to a mollusc - said: 'Yes, but it says the ball was over the line on the second instance.' But, Pearce wasn't having it and continued for the rest of the game to whinge about the allegedly 'controversial' second goal. Which drew the great and the good to Twitter and Facebook to call Pearce a right ruddy daft plank. Check out some of the best ones here. And, here. Pearce's horrific night was compounded when he later called another French goal when the ball had, in fact, hit the side netting. Back in the studio even Robbie Savage took the piss out of him, the clearest case this blogger has ever seen of the blond leading the bland. Speaking of Savage, as Peter Lack on the Gallfriey Base World Cup Thread noted, the former Welsh international and current pain in the arse spent the entire evening 'carrying the countenance of a teenager who has won a competition to appear in the BBC studio alongside real footballers.' Though, as yer actual Keith Telly Topping noted in reply, to be fair, he does that every week. Actually, he used to play like that as well.
All-Star Mr & Mrs returned to top the ratings on Wednesday, according to overnight data. Which is a, frankly, appalling indictment of ... something or other. Don't come to this blogger looking for a quick answer on that one. The ITV show failed to entertain 3.9 million at 8pm. The delayed finale of Law & Order: UK attracted 3.6m at 9pm. On BBC1, Watchdog had an audience of to 3.5m at 8pm, followed by Del Boys & Dealers with 3.1m at 9pm. BBC2's Springwatch interested 2.2m at 8pm, while Coast Australia was seen by 1.7m at 9.15pm. Episodes had eight hundred and sixty one thousand viewers at 10pm. On Channel Four, One Born Every Minute brought in 1.9m at 9pm, followed by My Last Summer with six hundred and seventy eight thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Football Hooligan & Proud attracted eight hundred and ninety one thousand at 9pm. Big Brother: Power Trip continued with 1.2m at 10pm. On ITV2, I Wanna Marry Harry's latest episode was watched by three hundred and fifteen thousand sad crushed victims of society at 9pm. Sky1's 24: Live Another Day had four hundred and seventy six thousand viewers at 9pm.

Moving away from the World Cup for the moment (we'll be back, never fear), BBC Worldwide has confirmed details of a relaunch at The Doctor Who Experience. It was announced earlier this year that the Cardiff Bay attraction will close its current interactive walkthrough, to mark the introduction of Peter Capaldi as new series lead. Fans wishing to take part in the current adventure - flying the TARDIS with Matt Smith's Doctor - can book tickets up until 31 August here. be prepared to pay and arm and a leg, mind. The entire Experience - including the exhibition - will then close on 1 September for approximately six weeks. Re-opening in time for the school holidays at the end of October, the attraction will feature a new 'immersive adventure' starring yer man Capaldi, with more details about the updated storyline to be announced later this year. Props from Doctor Who's forthcoming eighth series will also be added to the exhibition when it re-opens.
Fancy drifting off to sleep with with The Doctor? Catching a few winks with Captain Jack? (Steady.) Or snoozing with River Song? (And, again, steady.) Then you might be in luck. David Tennant, John Barrowman and Alex Kingston are among the former Doctor Who stars who have loaned their talents to CBeebies Bedtime Stories. There are also nighttime tales from Freema Agyeman and John Simm – although having The Master read you a bedtime story could result in nightmares.
Of course, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self has slept with The Doctor. And, very nice it was too.
The final three episodes of the next - L - series of Qi completed filming earlier this week in London. The, as yet untitled fourteenth episode, which is also this year's Christmas Special, will feature series regulars Bill Bailey and Jimmy Carr along with a debut appearance from the American actress and writer Carrie Fisher. The subsequent two episodes - both of which, also, are as yet untitled - guest star Bailey, the Reverend Richard Coles and Sara Pascoe and Jo Brand, Phill Jupitus and Josh Widdicombe respectively. The sixteen episode series is scheduled for transmission in the autumn, probably from mid-September although that is, as yet, uncomfirmed.
Rik Mayall died from 'an acute cardiac event', his wife Barbara has confirmed. Barbara Robbin released an official statement regarding her husband's tragic and untimely death on Monday, explaining that the comic actor had just been out jogging when the incident occurred. 'We now know that our darling Rik suffered "an acute cardiac event" at our home around midday on 9 June,' she wrote. 'He had just returned from his usual run and many people had seen him that morning.' Barbara also thanked fans for their support following his death, and for the positive coverage of his career. 'I, Rosie, Sid, Bonnie and the many in our extended family who have received the thousands and thousands of messages of condolence from all over the UK and beyond these shores would like to say thank-you to each and every one of you for your heartfelt love and support,' she said.

The final Monty Python's Flying Circus reunion show at London's O2 Arena is to be broadcast live on television. Monty Python Live (Mostly) will be screened on the UKTV channel Gold on 20 July, marking the end of the group's ten-night run. The three-hour event will be preceded with a live backstage programme. 'We are very excited that not only do we get the chance to screw up on stage, we get a chance to screw up live on TV too,' Eric Idle said. 'What could be finer at the end of a long life in comedy, than a chance to reunite with old pals and say goodbye to all our fans in one final mad musical show?' In addition to the live performance, Gold will also screen a special five-part series later this year celebrating Monty Python's Flying Circus and the effect it had on the comedy world. 'It's a huge step in Gold's evolution to be part of such a significant national event and to be broadcasting it live so that everyone can be there,' UKTV's director of commissioning Richard Watsham said. 'Monty Python is arguably the most influential comedy group the country has ever known and it's a matter of great pride that they've trusted us with celebrating their very last night together.' The members announced last November that they were reuniting for a one-off stage show, but after tickets quickly sold out an extra nine dates were added. It is the first time in forty years that John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin have appeared together on a UK stage. Palin told the BBC last month that the 20 July show would be the last time the five would work together, adding there were 'absolutely no plans to do any more shows after that.'

Mock The Week regular Milton Jones has said the BBC is wrong to insist on a quota for female performers on comedy panel shows. Jones, who has appeared on more than twenty editions of the BBC2 topical celebrity panel game, has re-opened the debate about female comedians by insisting that a formal policy is 'counter productive' and that change should come by stealth. He told Radio Times: 'I think the same as anything, with race or gender. Once there's a definite rule about something, it can be counter productive. I think you have to leave the spirit of it open to those in charge, and then try to get in as many women as possible. I think if you make a rule about it then the good will breaks down. I think the next generation will be better. In the 1980s, comedy was all about being non-racist, non-sexist, but actually, it was so endemic in the culture that it's taken more than a generation to come through.' Jones, a born-again Christian known for his gently smart one-liner comedy, filmed an edition of Mock The Week this week for the current run which was broadcast on Thursday and said that he appeared alongside comedian Katherine Ryan who earned her place because of her talents and not because of the quota. But, he added, the producers on the show now 'feel obligated' to obey the rule even though not all women are drawn to its blokey atmosphere. 'I suppose the feeling is we have to do it,' he said.

Alan Davies has also stuck his oar in on the same subject. The Qi regular's new Dave show As Yet Untitled begins on Monday and will feature a woman in every episode. 'I think it's important,' he said. 'I feel like I've been asked it a lot in recent years. The idea that there aren't any funny women around is so outdated, if it wasn't ten years ago. When they're queueing up to come on here - we've had Katherine Ryan and Isy Suttie and we still haven't had Sara Pascoe or Claudia O'Doherty. There's lines and lines and lines of people coming. So there will always be a woman here, maybe two, maybe three. That's the intention.' However, he criticised Danny Cohen's move to make the all-male panel show ban public, suggesting that it puts 'unreasonable pressure' on female guests. 'I don't know what they hoped to achieve by announcing that to the press,' he said. 'I thought they should just implement that if that's what they feel is the right thing to do. They can implement that internally. I think announcing that to the press as if it makes them good people actually puts unnecessary pressure on the woman on the panel - and it still is often only one. Then you're suddenly saying, "Here's our woman, look, we've got one." Thanks, you know? If I was the woman in that circumstance, I'd want to go home.'

Alan has also revealed the reason that Qi isn't shown in the States. Apparently, it's due to the pictures. The photographs behind the panellists are the main issue stopping the popular intelligence quiz from being broadcast across the pond. Speaking about comments that Qi creator John Lloyd had made - in which he admitted that he had wanted the series to be 'world-changing' - Alan suggested that the programme will have 'quite a strong legacy. As far as it being world-changing, it would help if they could show it in America,' he continued. 'But they're not allowed to show it in America because they can't get clearance on all the images that are used in the background. It's one of the most ridiculous things I've come across yet in my career. There's no way of coming to some agreement - image by image they have to clear it and pay someone.' Alan also said that the images have been a problem in the UK: 'I know budget cuts in recent years have made it harder to get the ones they want so they do now have to use ones mostly that are free. But that's always been the obstacle to it being shown in the States.'

And so to the latest Top Telly Tips:-

Saturday 21 June
The BBC has the broadcast rights to Germany versus Ghana (kick-off 8.00pm), which comes from the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza. By the time this match goes out, Germany will have already faced Portugal in their opener and their opponents will have taken on the USA in what promises to be a very closely fought battle for places in the last sixteen from Group G. The sides also met in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup in a match that made history when half-brothers Jerome and Kevin Prince-Boateng became the first siblings to face each other in a World Cup match. Jerome earned the bragging rights due to Germany recording a 1-0 win, but both teams progressed to the knockout rounds, where they produced some impressive performances. The Germans handed out thrashings to both England and Argentina on their way to a narrow semi-final defeat against eventual champions Spain. Meanwhile, the African outfit defeated the USA before suffering heartbreak in a penalty shoot-out against Uruguay in the quarter-finals, after Asamoah Gyan had missed from the spot in the last minute of extra time following Luis Suarez's handball. Coverage is presented by that nice Mister Gary Lineker, with commentary by Guy Mowbray and Danny Murphy. Later on, the Beeb also has Nigeria versus Bosnia-Herzegovina (kick-off 11.00pm). Given the relatively recent existence of Bosnia-Herzegovina as an independent state, it is little surprise that this is the first competitive meeting between the sides and one which is likely to go a long way in deciding the qualifiers from an intriguing group which also contains Argentina and Iran. While the South Americans are the clear favourites to top the group, both of these countries will feel confident that they can also progress to the last sixteen and both have players in their squads who will be familiar to fans of the Premier League. Bosnia's qualification saw them win eight of their ten matches, with Sheikh Yer Man City striker Edin Dzeko leading the way with ten goals and Dirty Stoke's goalkeeper Asmir Begovic being a key part of a defence that conceded on just six occasions. The Super Eagles, meanwhile, reached the finals for the fifth time in their history following a play-off victory against Ethiopia, and their line-up for the second of those fixtures included Moscow Chelski duo Jon Obi Mikel and Victor Moses. And, Shola Ameobi. Still, no one's perfect. Presented by the BBC's b-team, Mark Chapman, with commentary by Steve Wilson and Kevin Kilbane.

If you're looking for something other than football, a well-known restaurant owner is kidnapped at gunpoint and as his family waits for a ransom demand, the Ystad team tries to untangle a web of deceit surrounding the missing man in the final episode of Wallander - 9:00 BBC4. Kurt is introduced to Jenny Blom, a Malmo policewoman who has been conducting her own investigation into the kidnap victim after the death of her partner. Swedish drama, starring Krister Henriksson.
Stonehenge is Britain's most famous prehistoric monument and known around the world, but all is not well with the sacred stones, with MPs describing the surrounding site as a 'national disgrace' and a 'shameful shambles'. Now, after decades of disputes over what should be done, English Heritage has just twelve months to create a setting it deserves. In a Culture Show hour-long special - 800 BBC2 - Alastair Sooke reveals why Stonehenge has long been a place of conflict and controversy, and that passions still run high at a place where druids, archaeologists and scientists fight to have their views on its future heard.
Sunday 22 June
South Korea versus Algeria (kick-off 8.00pm) from Group H is the first of tonight's games on ITV. This is one of only two groups without South American representation, with the highly fancied Belgians and Russia the other two nations involved and this is likely to be seen as the best chance either of these two sides has of picking up a victory. This is the eighth consecutive finals for which the Koreans have qualified, but they have only made it past the group stage on two occasions - and one of those was when they co-hosted the tournament with Japan in 2002 and had some suspiciously concerted 'help' from the officials in their vicotires over Italy and Spain. Algeria's record is even worse, as they have never made it to the knock-out phase, although it is fair to say they should have done in 1982 on their debut, but for the now infamous match between West Germany and Austria which conveniently saw both European nations play out a lifeless 1-0 win for the Germans which meant that they both went through at the expense of the Africans. That brought about a change to the rules which necessitated the final two fixtures in a group to be played simultaneously. This is only the second meeting between these two and by far the most high-profile, with the other being a friendly twenty nine years ago in Mexico. Thankfully, Chiles isn't around to ruin this, with presentation duties taken on by ITV's b-team Matt Smith (no, the other one). Commentary is by Sam Matterface and Clarke Carlisle and analysis (of a sort) from Gordon Strachan, Glenn Hoddle and Andros Townsend. The BBC, meanwhile, have the day's early match Belgium versus Russia (kick-off 5.00pm). The last time these nations met at a World Cup finals was in 2002, when they were also paired in the same group and an enthralling 3-2 victory for the Belgians ensured they progressed to the last sixteen, although they would soon be eliminated by eventual winners Brazil. Belgium have not appeared at a major tournament since then, but while the national team has been out of the global spotlight, they have used that time to develop a fine crop of players and are expected to perform well in Brazil, having qualified without tasting defeat, winning eight of their ten games in the process. Russia have not competed at a World Cup finals themselves since 2002, although they have featured at three European Championships in the intervening period. Presented by Gary Lineker, with commentary by Jonathan Pearce and Martin Keown. And, if you fancy staying up half the night, the Beeb also had USA versus Portugal (kick-off 11.00pm). The Americans are appearing at their seventh consecutive World Cup finals, while the Portuguese qualified for the fourth time in succession, and both have been drawn alongside three-time winners Germany and one of the emerging African teams of the last ten years, Ghana. Each team will look to their respective star players to provide an impact, and this is especially the case for Portugal, who boast this year's Ballon d'Or recipient Cristiano Ronaldo among their ranks. The Real Madrid star played a crucial role in his country's qualifying campaign, not least when scoring all four goals in his country's 4-2 aggregate victory over Sweden in the UEFA play-off matches and he will have to produce his best form if Portugal are to progress further. That's if he isn't injured. In five previous meetings between these countries only one has taken place at a World Cup, when the USA triumphed 3-2 in a group-stage match in 2002.

Though the focus of tonight's illuminating Storyville documentary - 9:00 BBC4 - is the notorious 1973 clash between tennis champion Billie Jean King (then aged twenty nine) and fifty five-year-old former Wimbledon winner, gobshite, self-confessed sexist pig and hustler Bobby Riggs, this is no mere chronicle of a sporting contest. King's involvement jeopardised her position as a spokesperson for the feminist cause, as well as her campaign to give women equal prize money and their own independent tour. Before King accepted the challenge, Riggs had already annihilated the women's world number one Margaret Court earlier in the year, meaning there was a lot riding on a follow-up confrontation set to attract a global audience of one hundred million TV viewers. So when Billie whupped Bobby's ass hollow over three sets, it was A Really Big Deal. Incredible as it may seem, sexism - in the shape of Riggs's 'clown prince of chauvinism' - was not as ridiculous and out of place then as it would be now. Women's rights in the seventies was as provocative and emotive an issue in the US as civil rights had been the decade before and this compendium of revealing archive footage, talking heads and (frankly unnecessary) reconstructions demonstrates the significance of the match. As documentaries go, this may not be as ground-breaking as Senna or Man On Wire, but it remains a vital record of a symbolic event for gender equality in sport and society in general. And of the time when Billie beat Bobby.

As the critically acclaimed US drama Fargo concludes - 9:00 Channel; Four - Insurance Salesman of the Year Lester is once again trying to manipulate everyone around him, having already framed his own brother for the murders of his wife and Chief Thurman. Meanwhile, dogged deputy Molly takes the lead, hapless copper-turned-postman Gus pursues a hunch and contract killer Malvo finds a new target - not content with the misery he's already caused since arriving in Minnesota. Whose life will he turn upside down now? Yer actual Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton star.

Monday 23 June
As we reach the last bunch of group games at the World Cup, this is the point where it starts to get difficult to tell what match we'll be watching. Thus, today's opening ITV game with be either Australia versus Spain or the Netherlands v versus Chile (kick-offs 5.00pm), as the qualifiers for the last sixteen are decided. Reigning champions Spain are appearing at their tenth consecutive finals, and in that sequence they have only failed to progress to the knock-out stage on two occasions, most recently at France ‘'98. But, after the spanking they took off the Dutchies in their opening game, this might be one tournament too far for an ageing - but still brilliant - side. Having taken part in the Confederations Cup last year in Brazil they will have entered this tournament with a better idea of how to acclimatise to the conditions and cope with their travel schedule - in theory - which should have provided them with a slight advantage over their opponents coming into the group stage. While the Dutch may have more household names in their squad, Chile have the advantage - at least, statistically - of playing on their home continent, as no European nation has ever won the finals on South American soil, although the Netherlands reached the final when Argentina hosted in 1978. And, we all remember what happened there. This is only the second meeting between the two, with the first remarkably coming as far back as the 1928 Olympic Games, in a consolation match officially ratified by FIFA, but not by the Amsterdam Olympic organisation. Whichever game isn't on ITV can be watched on ITV4. Presented by Matt Smith, with analysis by Gordon Strachan, Gus Poyet and Andros Townsend. Later, there's also Cameroon versus Brazil or Croatia versus Mexico (kick-offs 9.00pm).

Wimbledon starts today. So, expect BBC2 to have its schedules pissed about by some yawn inducing five-setter that, in reality, nobody gives a bloody monkeys about for much of the next fortnight.

The divine Goddess that is Victoria Coren Mitchell presents the first semi-final of the lateral-thinking quiz show Only Connect - 8:30 BBC4 - inviting a trio of Welsh learners to compete with three family members to fathom the links between subjects that at first do not appear to be connected.
World-weary Sandra Pullman looks even more exasperated than usual when her demanding mother Grace (Sheila Hancock) turns up for a visit in a repeated episode of New Tricks - 9:00 BBC1. The two women aren't a good fit, thanks to their difficult shared history, but Grace is judgemental and berates Sandra (Amanda Redman) for her lack of vegetables: 'Wine doesn't count as one of your five-a-day!' she yells across the kitchen. Back at work, things aren't much better as Sandra and her trio of truculent old geezers in UCoS reinvestigate the suspicious death of a market trader. The general feeling is that the female victim was killed by a serial rapist who's been drugging and attacking women. Maybe it's the case, but everyone is in an uncharacteristically sombre mood in the office. Even the usual banter feels a bit lacking. Or it could just be boredom at the sheer repetition of daily life at the unit. For instance, this week Jack and Sandra visit the stall-holder's widower a total of three times in almost identical scenes. A bit of variety would be nice. Then again, if it's a choice between this on one side and Adrian Chiles on the other. Ooo ... tricky.

Tuesday 24 June
There's no question about which Group D match ITV will be covered this afternoon, even if qualification has already been sorted out. It's Costa Rica versus England (kick-off 5.00pm), as Roy Hodgson's men look to end their group campaign on a high at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte. The Costa Ricans went into this stage expected by many to finish bottom of the table, but cannot be taken lightly given their strong performances in the CONCACAF qualifying group which saw them finish as runners-up behind USA after some excellent results against the likes of Mexico, Honduras and, indeed, the Americans themselves. And, when they beat Urugay in the opening game, well, that really put the cat among the pigeons. The two sides have never previously met, but England faced Central American opposition in the group phase of the 2006 World Cup, beating Trinidad & Tobago thanks to late goals by Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard. The latter is now the captain of his nation and will be determined to help them overcome this potentially tricky hurdle in what could be the thirty four-year-old under-achiever's final tournament for his country, having suffered a disappointing end to the domestic campaign with Liverpool Alamaba Yee-Haws. Presented, tragically, by Adrian Chiles. In the evening, the BBC have a choice between Japan versus Colombia or Greece versus Côte d'Ivoire (kick-offs 9.00pm) from Group C.

In Alison Steadman's Shetland - 9:00 ITV - the actress, a keen birdwatcher and patron of the RSPB, embarks on a wildlife adventure in Shetland, observing some of the Scottish archipelago's most extraordinary inhabitants, including puffins that return there each spring to breed. She takes a coastal trek around the island of Unst in search of otters, forages for razor clams and sea urchins on the beaches of Dury Voe and visits Hermaness, where an ecologist records the sound emitted by the thirty thousand gannets nesting on the cliffs.

Will pretends to be Lecter's friend as part of a dangerous game to expose the truth about his crimes, but Alana is increasingly protective of her new lover in the latest Hannibal - 10:00 Sky Living. Meanwhile, Hannibal sinks his teeth into a new patient, who's seeking advice about her troubled brother. Katharine Isabelle joins the cast, and there's a guest appearance by Jeremy Davies, who won an EMMY for his role as Dickie Bennett in Justified. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping urges you, dear blog reader, to watch out for possibly the greatest line in the history of television: 'Peter, is your social worker in that horse?' There's not much that's worth missing Japan versus Columbia for, but that's definitely one of them.
Wednesday 25 June
The Super Eagles of Nigeria's World Cup record against Argentina does not make for happy reading: three losses, including a 1–0 defeat in the 2010 group stages. And there's little to suggest that unhappy run won't continue today in the final match of Group F (kick-off 5pm). Messi's men will surely want one more win to avoid a potential knock-out tie with a resurgent France. Nigeria's back four were hardly the most impressive in the build-up to the tournament, although the picture is rosier in goal: Vincent Enyeama is the best goalkeeper in all of Africa. He'll probably be busy today. Even if some are rested in the final group match, you would think a combination of Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín and Sergio Agüero would set any goalkeeper's nerves a-jangling. But not Enyeama. In 2010 he stopped shot after shot from Argentina's forward trio, only eventually conceding from a Gabriel Heinze header. Time for a rematch? Bosnia-Herzegovina versus Iran is on ITV4. Then, on BBC1 there's Honduras versus Switzerland or, more likely, Ecuador versus France (kick-offs 9.00pm). This will be the second time Honduras and Switzerland have faced each other at a World Cup finals, having also been drawn in the same group at the 2010 tournament. Coincidentally, they met in the third round of fixtures on that occasion too and produced a drab 0-0 affair (hardly surprising given that Switzerland specialise in drab 0-0 draws). That saw the Hondurans finish bottom of the group with one point, while the Swiss missed out on progressing to the knock-out stage. The French national side are not considered to be the force they were just over a decade ago, when they won the World Cup that they hosted in 1998 before going on to triumph in the European Championships two years later, so it is fortunate they were drawn in one of the less challenging groups. But, they;'ve got two Newcastle United players in the squad (and two former Magpies as well) so, you know, yer actual Keith Telly Topping had something of a soft sport for Les Blues. UEFA president and oily little twat Michel Platini, who captained the French to glory in Euro '84, will no doubt be watching on from the sidelines to see whether the injection of vast sums of money into Ligue Une in recent years translates to an improvement in fortunes for the national side, with Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco investing heavily in their playing squads.

A young woman is found dead in the rockery of an Oxford college, which is an occupational hazard in Lewis territory, of course, as the city appears to be routinely littered with corpses - 8:00 ITV3. She had been taking part in the trials of a psychotropic drug run by an aloof and punch-able psychiatrist (the excellent Douglas Henshall) who does what all academics do in TV murder mysteries — everything to make himself look like the prime suspect by behaving as a caricature of police-despising superciliousness and sinister whatsits. Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whately) and James Hathaway (Laurence Fox) stroll around lovely gardens in this 2011 episode as they puzzle over the killer's identity. A second student's demise then leads to the revelation that the trial's participants are all operating under the influence of a mind-altering drug and that the lines between love, obsession and madness have become dangerously blurred. Guest starring Lucy Liemann and Thomas Brodie Sangster.

Beverly prepares to return to England, while Sean hangs on to his hopes of keeping his Hollywood dream alive in Episodes - 10:00 BBC2. Matt is crushed to learn his former stalker is no longer obsessed with him, while Carol becomes equally despondent when her plans for a future with Castor are dashed. Comedy, starring Matt LeBlanc, Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig.
In the latest episode of 24: Live Another Day - 9:00 Sky 1 - armour-plated killing machine Jack Bauer concocts a plan with Chloe to eliminate the terrorist threat before any more attacks are launched, then he and Kate pursue crucial leads in an attempt to gain the upper hand over the enemy. With tool-stiffening violence. As usual. Kiefer Sutherland, Yvonne Strahovski and Mary Lynn Rajskub star.

Thursday 26 June
Either USA versus Germany or Portugal versus Ghana (kick-offs 5.00pm) will be the BBC's early game today. The USA are managed by a familiar face to German football fans in Jürgen Klinsmann, who was a star striker - and, champion free-form diver - for them between 1987 and 1998, winning the World Cup in 1990 and also managing them from 2004 until 2006, with current coach Joachim Löw as his assistant. Portugal will be keen to avoid an over-reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo, who almost single-handedly led them to the finals, but he has been some way from full fitness in recent weeks, meaning other players from Paulo Bento's squad may need to step up to the plate. Only just over a third of the Portuguese man squad actually ply their trade in their home country, but that is nothing compared to the Black Stars of Ghana, for whom only one of their party plays in the Ghanaian league. ITV cover South Korea versus Belgium (kick-off 9.00pm) later.

Dancer and choreographer Wayne Sleep, actress Leslie Ash, one-time EastEnder Alex Ferns, TV presenter Tania Bryer and former Made In Chelsea-type person Millie Mackintosh (no me neither) are the latest desperate z-listers to compete in the third heat of Celebrity MasterChef - 9:00 BBC1 - aiming to make it to the end of tomorrow's show in the top two. Their first test is to create a pizza from the ingredients in the mystery box, before splitting into two groups for a lunchtime restaurant challenge. It's then back to the studio to come up with one last meal before Gregg Wallace and John Torode decide who will be hanging up his or her apron.
Mike Read presents an edition of Top Of The Pops - 7:30 BBC4 - first broadcast on 12 July 1979. Featuring performances by Siouxsie & The Banshees, Thom Pace, The Police (back when they used to be a decent band before Sting disappeared up his own arsehole), Rickie Lee Jones, Stonebridge McGuinness (no, me neither), Chantal Curtis, Public Image Ltd (aw, yeah!), Supertramp, Janet Kay, Thin Lizzy, Judie Tzuke and yer actual Tubeway Army. Plus, dance sequences by Legs & Co. Tasty.

Host Dara O Briain and regulars Hugh Dennis and Andy Parsons are joined by Miles Jupp, Romesh Ranganathan, Josh Widdicombe and this episode's token female Angela Barnes on the topical comedy quiz Mock The Week - 10:00 BBC2. The panellists give their take on the week's major news stories and participate in a series of stand-up spots and improvised games.
Friday 27 June
Today, there is no football today - boo! - but, on the other hand, the BBC's coverage of The Glastonbury Festival starts with a highlights programme at 10:00 on BBC2. Hurrah! Jo Whiley, Mark Radcliffe and Wor Geet Canny Luscious Lauren Laverne kick-off BBC2's weekend of live music from Worthy Farm, near Pilton in Somerset. They chat to some of the musicians appearing and introduce a selection of performances from the site's many stages, with acts including Elbow, Blondie, Lily Allen, De La Soul, Paolo Nutini, Arcade Fire, Skrillex, MIA, Metronomy, Four Tet, Kaiser Chiefs, The Selecter, Chvrches, Rodrigo Y Gabriela and Billy Bragg scheduled to appear today. At least four of whom yer actual Keith Telly Topping has heard of. God, dear blog reader, did you ever wake up one day and suddenly find that you're old? It's not very nice, is it? Anyway, there are also programmes on BBC3 and BBC4 at various points during the day. And, The ONE Show - 7:30 BBC1 - comes live from the event. Which, of course, means that Alex Jones and Fearne Cotton will be in one place at one time. Please, somebody, have an intercontinental ballistic missile on standby. I know there is likely to be considerable collateral damage in such a scenario but, sometimes, casualties of war are inevitable when defeating the menace of pure evil.

Tony Hill has, thankfully, recovered from the brain tumour which he had removed at the end of the previous series ('it was benign,' he tells a minor character early in the episode. 'They only cut out the part that made me think I was a Sunderland supporter. I'm better now!'). But, an old case is unexpectedly reopened, catching Tony off guard in Time To Murder & Create, the opening episode of series four of Wire In The Blood - 10:00 ITV3. His surprise is compounded by the revelation that Carol Jordan has, suddenly, left the murder squad for a non-specific job in South Africa without even telling him (as you do with a close colleague and almost-lover of three years standing) and has been replaced by new a Detective Inspector, the brashly Scottish Alex Fielding. Alex, of course, has her own way of doing things - and refuses to believe Tony's slightly bonkers theory that a serial killer is stalking the streets of Newcastle, sorry, Bradfield. Easy mistake to make given the fact that one scene appears to take place off the back of Shields Road Industrial Estate and two scenes were clearly shot in and around Tynemouth Metro station. Of course, he's right and she's wrong, something which she quickly comes to realise, thus setting the scene for the next three series of their relationship involving blood-splattered mayhem, and that. Cos, when they met, it was murder. Wor Geet Canny Robson Green stars and Simone Lahbib makes her début.

The post-apocalyptic zombie nightmare pressure is on as the remaining four z-list 'celebrity' cooks battle it out for another two semi-final places in Celebrity MasterChef - 8:30 BBC1. They begin with a knowledge and skills test in which one by one they have to identify a tray of syrups and sugars and then make a stack of American-style pancakes and bacon. After this they pair up to test their mass-catering skills, cooking lunch for one hundred and twenty hungry members of staff at the Wellcome Trust charity who will punch then, reet hard, in the face if they come up with anything less than perfect. No, not really. But, it'd be must-see telly if they did. Maybe they should consider that for the next series. Then, they head back to the studio to prepare a two-course meal for last year's champion Adrian Edmondson and previous finalists Les Dennis and Christine Hamilton. Then, and only then, will judges Aussie John Torode and baldy Gregg Wallace decide which two should progress in the competition.

To the news, now: EastEnders and Coronation Street are to go head-to-head in a rare scheduling clash during the World Cup. ITV has set up a double bill of its popular drama to go out on 23 June at 7:30, with the last half hour going up against the BBC1 soap. It is the first time in more than ten years that the shows have directly competed against each other. With both ITV and the BBC sharing the rights to show World Cup matches, soaps are being moved around the schedules to make way for the games from Brazil. The Press Association reported an alleged BBC 'insider' as allegedly claiming that the clash was 'unnecessarily aggressive scheduling' on the part of ITV and was 'deliberately creating a clash' by extending Corrie into EastEnders' established 20:00 slot. However, the commercial broadcaster denied the suggestion, claiming that it was 'forced' to fit it programmes around the football tournament's schedule. 'We have two World Cup matches that day so that's where it is,' a spokeswoman said. One or two people even believed her. The schedule changes will also see EastEnders clash with ITV's Emmerdale - although they have frequently overlapped in recent years - and some episodes of both soaps, along with Coronation Street and BBC1's Holby City, scrapped altogether for the football. Which, one imagines, someone, somewhere will be whinging about quite soon. So, no change there, then. Although the BBC and ITV usually have annual rows over the scheduling of Saturday night entertainment, Sunday night drama and Christmas Day viewing, it is rare for EastEnders and Coronation Street to be screened with an overlap. The last time both soaps were broadcast at the same time was in 2001, when the BBC drama added an additional episode and began screening four times a week.

Antonia Thomas has reportedly joined the cast of The Musketeers for its second series. The Misfits actress will guest star in the upcoming run of the BBC1 period drama alongside Colin Salmon, who first announced his involvement in the show last month.

The BBC's Antiques Roadshow has some unlikely fans. First the shadow chancellor Ed Balls claimed that the programme made him 'incredibly emotional', now left-wing film director Ken Loach has come out as a fan, reports the Daily Scum Mail. It quotes him as saying it's his 'guilty pleasure', and adding:'"The format where the owner is meant to look delighted by the valuation is tedious but I do like hearing about the history of each object.' Personally, this blogger enjoys watching it because it often features really nice shots of Fiona Bruce's bum. Swings and roundabouts, innit?
New episodes of the BBC children's favourite Teletubbies are to be made for the first time in more than a decade. However, the 2014 version of the live action preschool series featuring Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po will be filmed on a replica of the show's distinctive original outdoor set, as there is now a pond where the Teletubbies house once stood. The owner of the Warwickshire farm where the show was filmed said that she was 'fed up' with Teletubbies fans trespassing on her land and causing a right kerfuffle. Children's channel CBeebies has ordered sixty new Teletubbies episodes to be filmed on replica model sets, using special effects to 'reinvigorate the show for future generations.' The original Teletubbies was in production between 1997 and 2001, with three hundred and sixty five episodes made and is still being repeated on CBeebies and other channels around the world. Teletubbies was a huge hit in creative, ratings and business terms, providing a template for other UK children's shows that became global brands, such as Tweenies and In The Night Garden, by BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm. CBeebies has struck a deal with Canadian firm DHX Media, which acquired Ragdoll, the independent producer behind Teletubbies and In The Night Garden, last year, to broadcast the new sixty-episode series. 'Teletubbies is an enduringly popular series with our youngest viewers, although no new episodes have been made for over ten years,' said Kay Benbow, controller of CBeebies. 'Early development and test shoots have persuaded me that CBeebies viewers are in for a wonderful treat.' 'We are committed to developing the brand for today's children,' added Steven DeNure, president of DHX Media. 'Kids entertainment of this calibre captivates generation after generation, so we believe there is considerable demand for an enhanced, contemporary version.'

Kim Bodnia has denied reports that he quit The Bridge. Bodnia will not appear in the third series of the popular Scandinavian drama, amid reports that he had disagreed with the show's writers over the direction of his character. However, the Danish actor told the Digital Spy website that his departure from The Bridge was 'very natural' and had been dictated by season two's storyline, which saw his character, Martin, arrested for murder. Sofia Helin - who plays Martin's partner Saga Norén - also refused to rule out a potential return for Bodnia in the future, saying: 'Sure, why not? We have all the possibilities in the world.'

The head of Sky News has criticised TV broadcasters' reliance on newspapers such as the Daily Scum Mail for 'setting the news agenda.' John Ryley, in a question-and-answer session after delivering a speech at the RSA on Wednesday evening, was asked if Sky was as guilty as BBC News of having an 'obsession' with newspaper stories, following Robert Peston's comments on the subject last week. Ryley, who started his broadcasting career as a BBC graduate news trainee and has also worked at ITV News, admitted that he has always been 'unhappy' at the influence which newspapers have over TV newsrooms. 'I have always been shocked from the very first time I started in [TV] news at the reliance on newspapers,' he said. 'I am really keen we do not pursue newspaper stories – that perhaps happened in the past. Everyone [at Sky News] accepts my take on the news agenda.' He was also asked how stories that a large number of people must have known about – the Savile fiasco and former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy's drinking problem were cited – remained 'buried' for so long. Ryley criticised 'a cosy connivance' between specialist correspondents and those they write about that can hinder the breaking of news. 'The Savile thing is another example of a slight sort of connivance, if that is the right word, between people who are close to a particular source of news and those who are reporting,' he said. '[There] is at times too much of a sort of a close relationship, a cosy relationship between reporters and those at the centre of the reporting. [There has] got to be a healthy distance between between those that ae being reported on and reporters. I think Savile and Charles Kennedy reinforced that.' Ryley was also asked if 'a lack of diversity' in the Sky News operation meant that the news reporting process inherently has a certain level of bias. 'Both on-screen and off-screen there needs to be a big sea change in broadcasting,' he replied. 'It is not representative of the British population and we at Sky are striving to remedy that.'

The wife of rock star Paul Weller has called for a change to the law to stop photos of children being published without parental consent. Paul, on behalf of his children, was awarded ten grand by the High Court in April after photos of his children were published on the Daily Scum Mail Online. They were photographed in California and published without permission. Hannah Weller said that she now wanted to 'give children better protection from the prying eyes of the press. It should be a criminal offence to violate any child's right to grow up free from media intrusion,' she said outside London's High Court. The Goddamn Modfather his very self and his wife successfully sued Associated Newspapers for misuse of private information on behalf of their daughter Dylan, who was sixteen, and twin sons John-Paul and Bowie, who were ten months old when seven unpixelated pictures of them appeared on the Scum Mail's website in October 2012. The images were published after a photographer followed Weller, former frontman of The Jam and The Style Council, and his children in Santa Monica, and took photos despite being asked to stop. The couple said the shots were 'plainly voyeuristic.' Associated Newspapers - which publishes the Daily Scum Mail, the Scum Mail on Sunday and the Metro - argued, unsuccessfully, the images were 'innocuous' and inoffensive. It claimed that the Wellers had previously 'chosen' to open up their private family life to public gaze 'to a significant degree' and said that it planned to appeal the decision. Hannah said that she had now decided to 'make a stand against this threatening, aggressive and abusive behaviour.' She said: 'As it stands, the decision about whether or not to thrust children into the media spotlight lies with the discretion of the editors of money-hungry newspapers and online gossip websites who are often more concerned with their own bottom line than the best interests of children. These people have shown repeatedly that they cannot be trusted to make the right choices and so it is time to take this decision from them and make it a criminal offence to expose children in this way.' Earlier, she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the newspaper code of practice 'is not adhered to. It quite clearly says that you must not use a person's fame or notoriety as full justification to print information about a child's private life, yet they continue to do it almost on a daily basis,' she said. However, Ian Murray, president of the Society of Editors, told the programme that a new law could have 'unintended consequences' and could act as a 'deadening of freedom of expression in this country. The more simple you try to make the law the more basically you have the laws of unintended consequences and the more draconian it becomes,' he said.

Harrison Ford has been injured on the set of the latest Star Wars film. Ford, seventy one, was airlifted to hospital after his ankle was injured by a garage door at Pinewood Studios. It was later announced that the ankle was broken. The actor is being treated at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. Ford appeared in the original three Star Wars films between 1977 and 1983. The series is being continued with the sequel Episode VII. The series' studio, Disney, said that shooting on the film would continue while Ford recuperated from the injury. A spokesman for Thames Valley police said: 'We were called just after 5pm to reports of a seventy one-year-old man being injured in an incident believed to involve a garage door. The man was airlifted to John Radcliffe Hospital with injuries which are not believed to be life threatening. The Health and Safety Executive is investigating.' A spokeswoman for South Central Ambulance Service said they were called to an incident involving 'a door that had fallen.' Ford is set to be joined in the film by fellow original Star Wars series cast mates Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Peter Mayhew. Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson and Max von Sydow are also due to appear.

A number of executives from convicted kiddie-fiddler Max Clifford's former PR agency, including his daughter Louise, are to set up their own talent management and PR firm. Louise Clifford, Denise Palmer-Davies, Sally Bett and Chloe Gibson were all made redundant from Max Clifford Associates on 30 April following his extreme conviction for sexual assault and related nefarious skulduggery. Undeterred by the negative coverage and a client exodus reminiscent the parting of the Red Sea of associated with Clifford, they will launch Borne Media this week. Laughably z-list clients to have signed up to Borne include The Only Way Is Essex-type person Lauren Goodger, Theo Paphitis' global lingerie brand Boux Avenue, Gogglebox's George Gilbey and TV presenters Angelica Bell and Michael Underwood. Palmer-Davies said there was 'no reason' for the scandal involving Clifford to tarnish Borne Media or deter clients. 'There is no reason for anyone to be nervous at all,' she said. 'The MCA situation was totally removed from the work we were doing and the day-to-day business.'

NASA is launching a spacecraft that strongly resembles a flying saucer. For more than half a century the distinctive shape has exerted a powerful grip over the popular imagination. From 1950s B-movies to latter-day pastiches, the flying saucer has served as visual shorthand for the gleaming, jet-propelled, post-war vision of the future. Now NASA is preparing to test the distinctly saucer-shaped Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, which the agency hopes could one day land on Mars. The saucer shape has been a constant in classic SF films like Forbidden Planet and The Day The Earth Stood Still - before evolving into a knowing visual gag in the 1996 spoof Mars Attacks! The flying saucer is a worthy recipient of that much over-used adjective, 'iconic'. Designers have borrowed its contours as a template for as long as ufologists - none of whom are mental, clearly - have reported sightings. Architects in particular have embraced the interplanetary motif. It's not difficult to imagine Brazil's Museum of Contemporary Art, Einhoven's Evoluon conference centre or Donesk's Donbass Arena all levitating above city streets blasting lasers at screaming bystanders. Then there were the prefabricated Futuro houses by Finnish designer Matti Suuronen, each of which looked as though it had just touched down on a day trip from the Andromeda Galaxy. Even in the world of homeware there are flying saucer-shaped kettles, phones, lamps and irons - and many people 'of a certain age' will have fond childhood reminiscences of sherbet-filled flying saucer sweets. 'It has become an absolutely universal trope,' says Michael Starr, an expert in SF and popular culture at the University of Northampton. The flying saucer also nostalgically recalls the Eisenhower and Kennedy eras and their optimistic imagining of tomorrow, from a time when cold war paranoia was tempered by widespread faith in technology, progress and economic growth. While disc-shaped objects have been spotted in the sky throughout history, the flying saucer as commonly recognised can essentially be dated back to 24 June 1947, when pilot Kenneth Arnold reported that he had passed nine shiny unidentified flying objects in the skies around Mount Ranier in Washington State. Arnold described the airborne entities as either crescent-shaped or disc-like, flying with the motion of a saucer skimming on water. The case attracted huge attention, with newspapers quickly coining the term 'flying saucers' to describe what Arnold had seen. In the months that followed there were hundreds of sightings of such aircraft - including the really infamous one at Roswell, New Mexico, a fortnight later. One of the reasons flying saucers caught the Western public's imagination was that they tapped into a widespread fear of attack from Communist enemies, says Starr - 'the sleek uniformity of the shape, the shell containing something unpleasant.' The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung saw flying saucers as a mythical archetype, comparing their shape to that of the mandala, a ritual symbol in Buddhism and Hinduism. Jung saw them as 'technological angels' for a secular age, on to which people could project their fears about nuclear conflict. Just as the alien in the 1951 film The Day The Earth Stood Still emerged from his saucer to warn humankind not to destroy itself, they offered hope that scientific progress would deliver enlightenment and peace, not mutually-assured destruction. There were other, more prosaic reasons why Hollywood was keen to capitalise on widespread fascination with the flying saucer phenomenon. 'A lot of fifties sci-fi [sic] jumped on this because it was very easy to do - you just need a plate and a piece of string,' says Starr. 'It's wonderful from a purely practical point of view.' During the 1950s those interested in the phenomenon of possible extra-terrestrial sightings used the term 'flying saucer' quite happily - hence the journal Flying Saucer Review, which reportedly counted Prince Philip among its subscribers. Today, however, ufologists 'think you are taking the mickey out of them if you use that phrase', according to David Clarke of Sheffield Hallam University, who has spent more than three decades studying the culture around UFO sightings. During the 1960s the original expression fell out of fashion in favour of the more official-sounding 'unidentified flying object', a phrase borrowed from the US Air Force. Over time UFO sightings, too, began to involve saucer shapes less frequently, says Clarke. Craft resembling stealth bombers and other angular shapes became more common - a phenomenon that mirrored the tendency over time of SF movies to eschew the traditional circular pattern. 'Either the aliens had altered the design of their aircraft to fit in with the films of our world, or something else was going on,' says Clarke. Thus flying saucers became a somewhat kitsch symbol of the more whimsical end of the space age. But the notion of floating disc-shaped aircraft wasn't considered fanciful by governments and militaries around the world. The new LDSD is far from the first attempt by earthlings to construct a flying saucer-like aircraft. For instance, German engineer Georg Klein told the CIA that he worked on a Nazi flying saucer for the Luftwaffe under designers Rudolf Schriever and Richard Miethe - a claim which prompted the Americans to study the possibility of creating one of their own. 'Project Y' - a British-Canadian flying saucer programme - was taken over by the US Navy in 1955 and became defence department weapon system 606A. In theory, as it travelled within the earth's atmosphere, a flying saucer of the classic 1950s design would have quite an aerodynamic shape, according to space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock. 'If it's travelling horizontally through the air there shouldn't be too much air resistance. It should glide quite easily,' she says. The problem was the propulsion system. 'No-one ever mastered the technology,' says Clarke. 'They just couldn't get it to work.' Now NASA's engineers are hoping that LDSD will succeed where Project Y failed.

Some very sad news now. Sam Kelly, best known for his roles in 'Allo 'Allo and Porridge, has died at the age of seventy. The Manchester-born actor's agent Lynda Ronan said that Sam died peacefully after a long illness 'bravely fought.' She added: 'He does not leave any family but a host of friends who were his chosen family.' Colin Baker, a friend since he and Sam were contemporaries at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in the 1960s, paid tribute on Twitter, describing Kelly as 'a lovely, funny, talented chap.' Sam's agent described his death as 'great loss to his friends and the profession.' Another tribute came from Phil Davis, who said: 'So sad to hear that Sam Kelly has died, a wonderful actor, a proper gent and one of the funniest men I ever had the pleasure of working with.' Sam played Bunny Warren in the BBC's Porridge between 1974 and 1978 and the Nazi captain Hans Geering in the first four series of 'Allo 'Allo between 1982 and 1987. His other roles include the ITV sitcom Barbara and On the Up, in which he appeared alongside Dennis Waterman and Joan Sims, as well as the 1993 prisoner of war TV comedy Statagluft, in which he played Hitler alongside Stephen Fry and Nicholas Lyndhurst. More recently, the actor appeared in BBC comedies My Family and Outnumbered, as well as Channel Four's Black Books as Bill Bailey's father. He worked with director Mike Leigh on several occasions, including Grown-Ups (1980), Topsy-Turvy (1999) and All Or Nothing (2002). Sam also had a distinguished theatrical career which saw him take on roles at the National Theatre and Old Vic, But in February he withdrew from his part as The Wizard in the hit West End play Wicked due to ill health. His last television appearance was during Gold's Porridge fortieth anniversary celebrations, which were broadcast over May and June.

And, another much-loved figure of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's childhood the lovely Francis Matthews, who was the voice of Captain Scarlet in Gerry Anderson's cult 1960s TV show, has died at the age of eighty six after a short illness. Francis loaned his voice to Paul Metcalfe, the titular indestructible puppet hero, who defended the Earth from disembodied, doomy-voiced Martian invaders in Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons, in 1967. The actor also played the private detective Paul Temple in the BBC series of the same name. A statement confirming Francis's death also recounted the famous story of how Anderson chose Francis for the Captain Scarlet role because he 'sounded like Cary Grant.' Francis also appeared in several Hammer films plus the Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise movies The Intelligence Men and That Riviera Touch. But it was Captain Scarlet which continued to inspire devotion among its fans, somewhat to Francis's bemusement. 'They really are anoraks,' he told the Independent in 2006 concerning fans of the series. 'They dress up and stare at you when you're signing the autograph as if you're some kind of extraordinary God.' Nevertheless, he always said that he was proud of the series enduring appeal partiuclarly with new generations of children. Francis was born in York in 1927 and attended St Michael's Jesuit College in Leeds, starting his acting career in Leeds repertory theatre when he was seventeen - initially as an Assistant Stage Manager; he got his first role as a schoolboy in Emlyn Williams' The Corn Is Green - before wartime service in the Royal Navy. In the 1950s and 1960s, Francis's film roles for Hammer included Peter Cushing's assistant in The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) and more traditional hero roles in both Dracula: Prince of Darkness and Rasputin, The Mad Monk (filmed back-to-back in 1966). On television, from 1969 to 1971, he played Francis Durbridge's eponymous amateur private detective in Paul Temple. Francis starred opposite Morecambe and Wise in two of their mid-60s movies, leading to a close friendship with Eric Morecambe - they shared a hobby of making home movies - and he made regular appearances in the duo's BBC show. He also appeared throughout the 1960s and 1970s in a variety of TV comedy roles, including opposite George Cole in Charles Woods' highly-regarded sitcom Don't Forget To Write (1977) as a successful but neurotic author. His CV also includes appearances in The Avengers and the movies Crossplot and A Stitch In Time. Having worked with the writer Alan Plater and producer David Rose on Z-Cars (1965), he later did two series of Trinity Tales (1975) with them. In this reimagining of The Canterbury Tales, with boozy Wakefield rugby league fans replacing pilgrims, Matthews called on his working-class upbringing to play Eric The Prologue. There was a touch of Reggie Perrin about Middlemen (1977), in which Francis floated ideas for absurd businesses. Graham Greene's May We Borrow Your Husband? (1986), adapted by and starring Dirk Bogarde, cast Francis as one of a gay couple. There were paternal roles in Heartbeat (2002) and The Royal (2003) and the Rik Mayall vehicle, All About George (2005). In the late 1970s, he served as narrator and host for Follow Me!, a BBC educational programme which offered a 'crash course' in the English language to foreign viewers. In 1986, Matthews and his wife, Angela Browne, appeared together in the BBC adaptation of the Josephine Tey novel Brat Farrar. The couple met on the set of the 1962 BBC thriller Dark Island and were married from 1963 until Angela's death in 2001. Two of their three sons, Damien Matthews and Paul Rattigan, are actors; the other, Dominic, is an artist and musician. Francis is survived by his three sons, his five grandchildren, his brother Paul Shelley, who is also an actor and his sister, Maura.

Worthless plank Ed Milimolimandi has apologised 'for any offence caused' after he posed with a copy of the Sun newspaper. What possible offence could that cause? Well, there's the problematical fact that the Sun is the newspaper which, disgracefully, smeared the memory of ninety six dead Liverpool supporters in 1989 after the Hillsborough tragedy with their vile and sick The Truth malarkey. Which, of course, actually wasn't 'the truth' or anything even remotely like it. So, you know, quite a bit of offence as it turns out. The Labour leader was pictured holding a 'special' (and, I use the word quite wrongly) edition of the paper which was sent to millions of homes free to mark the start of the World Cup. Thankfully, Stately Telly Topping Manor wasn't one of the homes to receive a copy though, if it had, it would have been binned immediately. Labour MPs have criticised their leader for associating himself with the paper, which has long been criticised for its reporting of the Hillsborough disaster. Milimolimandi claimed, somewhat unconvincingly, that he 'understood the anger' felt on Merseyside about it. What a great pity, therefore, that he didn't think about such potential anger before he, happily, shoved his tongue, greedily, up billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's crack for a right good lick. And then, politicians wonder why it is most people have now come to realise that they're all just a bunch of scum. Groups representing the families of victims and survivors of the 1989 tragedy expressed anger at Milimolimadi's crass, insensitive, disrespectful actions, one describing them as an 'absolute disgrace.' The Labour leader insisted that he had participated in the photo shoot to 'show his support for the England football team.' By, let us repeat, holding up a copy of the newspaper that lied about Liverpool fans' involvement in a tragedy. Nice one, Ed. You fucking worthless arsehole. In a statement, a spokesman for the Labour leader said: 'Ed Miliband was promoting England's bid to win the World Cup and is proud to do so. But he understands the anger that is felt towards the Sun over Hillsborough by many people in Merseyside and he is sorry to those who feel offended.' Milimolimandi, David Cameron and Nick Clegg all posed with copies of the Sun as did Nigel Farago. Clegg, whose Sheffield constituency includes Hillsborough, has also faced criticism from members of his party. Unlike Cameron and Farago of who, frankly, nothing better is expected.

And, speaking of worthless waste-of-space scum politicians, the former Welsh first minister (emhpasis, former) Rhodri Morgan has accused BBC Wales of 'a breach of faith' following the corporation's decision to relocate its headquarters to Cardiff city centre. Morgan claims - without any supporting evidence - that the Welsh government spent ten million quid of public money improving roads to Cardiff Bay on 'the understanding' that the BBC would build HQ premises there. A BBC Cymru Wales spokesman said that Morgan was 'mistaken'. The broadcaster announced this week it would move to Central Square by 2018. In his weekly column in the Western Mail newspaper Morgan claimed that the Welsh government agreed to invest ten million smackers in new roads before building work on BBC Wales' Roath Lock drama village began. He alleged that the investment was 'agreed in a discussion' with the former BBC Wales executive Nigel Walker. Following that alleged conversation, Morgan claims that he 'understood' at some point in the future BBC Wales would relocate its headquarters to the Roath Lock site, Crucially, however, he admits that he 'made no record' of the conversation at the time. Nigel Walker was the then project director the drama village development and has since left the corporation. In an interview with BBC Wales, Morgan claimed that the alleged 'agreement' was made when the BBC was considering two sites for its new drama village, at Roath basin in the bay, and the former Freeman's cigar factory site on Penarth Road. 'We agreed with the BBC that we would put money into covering the road access - about ten million pounds - because the Penarth Road site could not provide the basis of a Welsh media city,' he said. 'Since we agreed that we would put the ten million pounds in in order to create a Welsh media city - not just a drama village, there's been a breach of faith here. The BBC should look at its conscience and say - well, we may be able to wriggle out of this legally - but actually we do owe ten million pounds as well as an apology to the Welsh government and to the licence fee payers for choosing a more expensive option than the Freemans cigars factory for the drama village.' Quite apart from the fact that one imagines the licence fee payers are slightly more interested in having ten million pounds of their money spent on programmes rather than wasted in being given to the Welsh government, even more importantly, one imagines the Welsh Assembly voters may like to consider the fact that a highly elected official apparently spent ten million smackers of public money based on an alleged 'coversation', which was, seemingly, not even contemporaneously minuted. Whether that decision was careless, naive or something else entirely is, perhaps, another question worth asking when it comes time for the next election. A spokesman for BBC Cymru Wales suggested that Morgan was 'mistaken' and insisted that no such agreement, either formal or informal, was ever made between Walker and Morgan regarding the relocation of BBC Wales' HQ. They added: 'The suggestion that a single individual in the BBC could make such a commitment doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Our decision - announced this week - to relocate our HQ in Wales followed years of careful analysis by a wide range of staff across the BBC, and an open competitive tender process that included more than a dozen potential locations across Cardiff. We believe our decision to relocate to Capital Square will deliver a significant economic and creative dividend to Wales, strengthening Wales' credentials as a world class production centre.'

Back to the World Cup and there was much talk in the Spanish media centred around the truly disastrous night for Spain's goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas letting in five goals against the Dutch all of which occurred whilst his wife, Sara Carbonero, was reporting on the game for the Spanish broadcaster Mediaset. For those who don't know, Iker and Sara are, kind of, the Posh and Becks of Spain - he's a footballer, she's pretty and gets on TV a lot. During the 2010 World Cup it was alleged that Carbonero, reporting during the match between Spain and Switzerland, had distracted Casillas, causing an unexpected Swiss victory. The allegations were made in the English press, originally by Graham Keeley of The Times and later repeated by several other English newspapers, prompting the Madrid-based Spanish newspapers El Mundo, El País and Marca to all run articles suggesting that the claims were preposterous and untrue. Nevertheless, questions were also raised about Sara's journalistic integrity after she interviewed her then boyfriend Casillas after the match. In July 2009, she was was voted 'The Sexiest Reporter in the World' by the American edition of FHM. Which sort of says it all, really. According to the Daily Scum Mail, Carbonero 'lit up the media centre' on Friday while other news outlets credited Casillas's wife as 'adding a touch of Spanish glamour' to an otherwise catastrophic night for Vicente Del Bosque's men. But, how awkward must it have been for the poor woman to have to report on her husband's shambolic performance? She was, apparently, 'as professional as ever.'
A good luck message from the Australian Prime Minister to the national football team at the World Cup was somewhat undermined when Tony Abbott got The Socceroos' captain's name wrong. Wearing a team scarf draped over his suit - and looking like a right proper plonker as all politicians do when they try to be 'blokey' and 'down with the man in the pub' - Abbott greeted skipper Mile Jedinak as 'Mike' in a video posted online before the Ange Postecoglou-coached Socceroos' Group B opener against Chile on Friday. Yeah. That's the sort of thing that usually happens. 'Ange, Mike [sic] and The Socceroos, in this World Cup you have the opportunity to make the world game our national game,' Abbott said. 'Throughout this cup we'll burn the midnight oil as you take the field in our name.' Almost, but not quite, as embarrassing as Ed Milimolimandi trying a similar arse-lick trick by being photographed with a copy of the Sun, which instantly offended just about everyone on Merseyside.

Ants have, reportedly, been found in a Uruguayan players' bed, according to a report in the Gruniad Morning Star. The team's goalkeeper, Fernando Muslera, posted a picture on Twitter of the ants but, later, played down their significance. 'It was funny more than anything else,' he said. 'But it was fine. [The hotel staff] came straight away and changed the sheets and we slept well.' Not well enough to stop the induustrious Costa Ricans stuffing three goals past him a couple of days later, however.

FIFA has opened a disciplinary case against the Argentina FA in response to an incident in which players displayed a banner in support of their country's claims to the Falkland Islands. The Argentina team posed with a banner supporting a campaign to claim sovereignty of the British Overseas Territory before a 2-0 friendly win against Slovenia in La Plata on 7 June. Football's global governing body will investigate potential breaches relating to 'team misconduct' and 'prevention of provocative and aggressive actions.' The UK and Argentina, of course, went to war over the Falklands from April until June 1982. Argentina open their World Cup campaign against Bosnia-Hercegovina on Sunday, before also facing Iran and Nigeria in Group F.
And so, not related to anything whatsoever do to with the events on 1982, for the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, here's a choice bit of British Sea Power.
Finally, dear blog reader, here's a little thought for the day: George Best never played in a World Cup finals tournament. Neither did Ryan Giggs. But, on Monday, Shola Ameobi might. Truly, it is a strange, strange world we live in.

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