Thursday, August 07, 2014

My Throat Feels Like A Funnel Filled With Weetabix And Kerosene

The cast of Doctor Who greeted fans at a post-apocalyptic 'red carpet event' in Cardiff on Thursday ahead of the first episode of the new series receiving its world première. Yer actual Peter Capaldi was joined at St David's Hall by Jenna Coleman her very self. The event marks the start of their 'world tour' in which the production will visit five continents in just twelve days. Nice work if you can get it. Following events in Cardiff and London on Thursday, Peter and Jenna will pay flying visits to South Korea, Australia, the USA, Mexico and Brazil. Speaking when the tour was announced, Capaldi said: 'After eight months solid filming deep in the world of monsters, Jenna and I are thrilled to be heading for the Planet of Fans.' The new Doctor arrived at the venue at 11:30 on Thursday morning for the screening of a feature-length opening episode Deep Breath an hour later. A question and answer session then followed with Peter, Jenna and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat, hosted by BBC Wales presenter Jason Mohammad. Some of the Doctor's deadliest enemies - The Daleks and The Cybermen - also, if you will, 'invaded' the city centre for the première. They do that sort of thing. It's their raison d'etre. The Moffat told BBC Radio Wales that he believes Capaldi's Doctor will go down well with fans. 'He's a brand new, slightly shocking, extremely funny, charismatic Doctor and it's that wonderful thing - he's very, very different and yet he's exactly the same,' he said. 'That's is the thing about The Doctor [he] is always kind of the same, but you couldn't have a bigger contrast to the Matt Smith version.' BBC Wales director Rhodri Talfan Davies said: 'Doctor Who is getting even bigger and even better - and it's a real thrill that the show's fans here in Wales will be the very first to see the new Doctor at this very special premiere screening. Doctor Who has been made in Wales for almost ten years - and we're so proud of its worldwide success.'
Yer actual Peter Capaldi has promised that his Doctor will be 'less user-friendly' than he predecessors as the BBC unveiled his first full-length episode. 'I was keen he be a little darker,' he told the BBC's Lizo Mzimba. 'He's struggling with himself and who he is.' The fifty six-year-old is the oldest actor to have played the time-traveller. Yet the Scot joked that, if anything, he was too young to play the role. 'I don't feel elderly at all, and I don't think The Doctor's elderly, apart from the fact he's two-and-a-half thousand years old. There's a magic about him which is not about being in your twenties and thirties," continued the actor, whose immediate predecessors - David Tennant and Matt Smith - were thirty four and twenty seven when they first appeared in the show. 'We don't consider The Wizard of Oz or Father Christmas to be "too old." They're still magical characters, and the fact they've been around the block only adds to their magic.' Deep Breath, the first episode of the new series, had its premiere screening in Cardiff and, later, a second screening at the BFI in London. Concerns were raised earlier this year when five of the series' scripts and unfinished scenes from six episodes were inadvertently made accessible online. Yet Capaldi said that the leak was 'just one of those things' and 'not the end of the world.' The show, he added, 'only lives in the finished cut' with all its production values, music and special effects completed. 'I felt sorry for everyone who'd worked on the show but the fans have been incredibly supportive,' he said. 'Is it really so important? I think the whole spoiler thing has taken over the media.' The first screenings of the new episode coincided with the release of a letter signed by two hundred public figures - almost all of them English - urging Scotland to vote 'No' in the upcoming independence referendum. Yet the Glasgow-born actor refused to be drawn on where he stood in the issue, or whether he had received advice on playing The Doctor from any of the TARDIS's previous custodians. 'There's nothing I can do except do my best,' he said. 'Not everyone's going to like me, but that's life. It's such an iconic character and you don't want to let people down. At the same time, you have to be true to your own instincts as a performer and an artist.'
The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has promised Doctor Who fans more online episodes. Following the success of iPlayer special The Night Of The Doctor, the showrunner told SFX that he would like to make similar episodes for the new series. 'I think we now have to accept that online stuff isn't a spin-off any more,' he said. 'We used to treat it as a spin-off that maybe some people would watch. And to be absolutely honest I thought they were bank raids - they'd give me some money to do an online thing and I'd say, "Right, what crew do we already have, what actors do we already have, what set do we already have?" So we'd spend no money on it at all, whack it out in a day, pump the money into the episode and off you go.' He continued: 'But, then you suddenly realise something like Pond Life, which we took much more seriously, had an audience of over six million. You think, "Oh wait, that's a TV show!" That's just a TV show and a lot of our audience make no distinction between that and the TV show. Same with The Night Of The Doctor. What I think is quite exciting about all that stuff is you're allowed to do a six-minute episode. I actually think The Night Of The Doctor is one of the best ones we've done, and I don't think it would be improved by being forty five minutes long. What more storytelling do we need? Arguably always the problem with the regeneration show is everybody's just waiting for the bit when he dies and regenerates - so why don't we just do that bit? You don't feel that you're short-selling it at all. So there's going to be more of that, up until the point when all television is like that. And it will be. All television will be downloadable content. It's coming.' However, Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) explained that any new online episodes won't be considered spin-offs. 'We'll certainly do some more,' he promised. 'We'll do more prequels and stuff. I've been in to talk to the channel controller of iPlayer and say "We need proper money for it" and they're very keen. And we don't call them prequels, we don't call them minisodes, we just call them Doctor Who. That's all they are. As I say, why not do an episode that's ten minutes? Or an episode that's half an hour? It depends what it suits.'
Yer actual Hermione Norris has spoken about her upcoming guest role in Doctor Who. The actress will feature in an episode in the forthcoming eighth series set in Lanzarote and written by Wallander's Peter Harness. She added that it was her ten-year-old son, Wilf, who persuaded her to take the part. Norris also has daughter, Hero. No, honestly, that's what she named the poor child. Speaking on This Morning, Hermione - best known for roles in the likes of Cold Feet, Wire In The Blood and [spooks], said: 'They are used to seeing me in all sorts of guises. I did an episode of Doctor Who, which I did for Wilf actually because I couldn't have turned down an episode of Doctor Who. And, I don't know if I'm allowed to say anything - I think you have to sign the Official Secrets Act.' She also spoke about the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi his very self, adding: 'He's a fantastic actor and I'm sure he'll be very different. He's extraordinary, Peter - just watching him I was interested to see what he would do. I'll be fascinated to see it and he's a very, very good actor so it'll be exciting, I think.' Doctor Who showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat previously praised Norris, claiming: 'It's a testament to the quality of Peter Harness's intense and emotional script, that we've been able to attract an actress of the brilliance of Hermione Norris.'

Meanwhile, veteran actor big shouty Brian Blessed has claimed that he once turned down an opportunity to take the lead role in Doctor Who because he was 'too busy' at the time. The seventy seven-year-old said that he was offered the role in the early years of his acting career, although he now says that he would not hesitate in playing The Doctor. Yeah, I think that particular ship might've long-since sailed, Bri. Blessed went on to take a guest role in the long-running family SF drama in 1986 in four episodes of the apocalyptically bad The Trial Of A Time Lord, playing big shouty King Yrcanos at a time when The Doctor was being played by The Crap One. In an interview for Radio Times, big shouty Brian explained that he was approached in the mid-1960s, suggesting that he was asked to step in as a replacement for William Hartnell who launched the show and was eventually succeeded by Patrick Troughton in 1966. Blessed said: 'After I was in Z Cars, the head of BBC serials took me aside and said, "We're thinking of having a young Doctor Who and we'd like to cast you." But it clashed with other things.' Asked what his reaction would be now, he said: 'I'd jump at it.' He continued: 'I think they need to re-examine his surname – "Who" is very oriental.' Errr... 'Who' isn't, actually, his surname, Brian, the character's name is The Doctor, it's the programme that's called Doctor Who. It's a question, not a name. Another question, and one well worth asking I'd've said, is why is it that fifty years after that was established so many people within the television industry (including many like yourself who've actually worked on the frigging show) continue to make this basic, elementary schoolboy-type error? So, you know, cut it out, baby, it's getting right on my tit-end. 'It's about time they had an Asian actor as The Doctor. And a female one.' Both of which are, entirely feasible and will likely, one day, occur. But, of course, it was inevitable that these somewhat throwaway comments largely about a casting decision made forty five bloody years ago would be picked up on by some crass, bell-end middle-class hippy Communist louse of no importance with a thoroughly sick agenda smeared all over their disgraceful mush - in this particular case the Independent's Jess Denham (no, me neither) - and folded into the usual 'the BBC has come under fire in recent times for not doing enough to improve diversity in its programmes' crap. Quite what the hell any of that tripe and bollocks has to do with Doctor Who - in 1966 or in 2014 - is as unclear to this blogger as I'm sure it is to you. Jesus, dear blog reader, some journalists are just fekking arsehole scum, are they not? And then, they wonder why it is that people are usually so happy when some of them get sent to jail. Anyway, back to the story; Blessed – who examines his family roots in the new series of BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? starting next week – said that he still has a dream role. 'I'd like to play the last twenty years in the life of the England cricketer WG Grace, because I look exactly like him,' he said. Or, WG Test Match Special as some people call him. Probably.

There are only fifteen more days until Doctor Who is back on our screens, and obviously one particular fan  - probably working for London Transport - just can't wait. He or she, seemingly, took over one of the information boards at Tufnell Park Tube Station on Thursday and provided passengers with the following special message. Aye. What he (or she) said.
On Tuesday, dear blog reader, From The North was very grateful to receive its first ever visitor from the Holy See, the Vatican City, the two hundred and sixth country or territory to have had one of its citizens visit this blog since we started keeping records about such things in 2009. (That, incidentally, puts the Vaitcan City level with the Federated States of Micronesia and only one behind Liechtenstein.) Of course, you can probably guess exactly which one of our pages or Papal visitor was interested in. Oh yes, that was predictable.
Also on Tuesday, yer actual Keith Telly Topping did his usual morning routine - swimming pool, breakfast, ASDA, home. Exhausted. So, no change there, then. The highlight of the morning occurred as yer actual was coming out of the baths and happened to pass a young lady on her way in; an absolutely gorgeous girl, so she was, blonde hair, probably eighteen or so - just in case anyone from Operation Yewtree is reading this - but what really made this blogger's day on a bright, sunny morning was the fact that this lovely girl was wearing a Keep Calm and Have A Jelly Baby t-shirt! It's the little things, dear blog reader.
The Great British Bake Off's ratings soared for its series five launch, attracting nearly seven and a half million viewers to its new home on BBC1. The show averaged 7.18 million overnight viewers on Wednesday, peaking with 7.45 million, a thirty five per cent share of the available audience at 8pm. It was a considerable increase on the series four launch, which was watched by 5.6 million on BBC2. The fourth series finale last year reached 8.8 million, a figure higher than some episodes of The X Factor. The National Grid also reported a 650MW surge in demand between 8:58pm and 9:05pm - up on the 400MW surge during the series four finale. The Great British Bake Off has moved to BBC1 for the first time in 2014 as a result of 'overwhelming viewer response.' Meanwhile, Clare Balding's new BBC1 series Operation Wild brought in 3.70m at 9pm. Earlier, The Sheriffs Are Coming appealed to 3.37m at 7pm. On BBC2, The Stuarts attracted 1.01m at 8pm, followed by The World's War with 1.04m at 9pm and Odious, Wretched, Risible Backchat With Lanky Streak of Piss Jack Whitehall which was watched by five hundred and sixteen thousand glakes with nothing better to do with their time at 10pm. ITV's All Star Mr & Mrs failed to entertain 2.84m at 8pm, while Secrets From The Clink was seen by 2.27m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Double Your House For Half the Money interested 1.05m at 8pm, while One Born Every Minute attracted 1.48m at 9pm. The Mimic dragged in three hundred and ninety two thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Emergency Bikers appealed to six hundred and ninety three thousand at 8pm, followed by World's Worst Storms with 1.04m at 9pm and Big Brother with 1.19m at 10pm. BBC3s showing of Raiders Of The Lost Ark topped the multichannels with 1.16m at 9pm.

BBC1's new drama In The Club topped the Tuesday night ratings outside soaps, overnight data reveals. The new series from Kay Mellor launched with an average of 3.98 million at 9pm. On BBC2, Coast was seen by 1.57m at 8pm, followed by The Secret History Of Our Streets with 1.57m at 9pm. Unbelievably, ITV's rotten as a stinking pile of compost Love Your Garden appealed to 3.39m at 8pm, while Kids Behind Bars intrigued 2.75m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Fill Hour House With Crap For Free interested 1.08m at 8pm, followed by Undercover Boss with 1.10m at 9pm. Utopia dipped to two hundred and seventy three thousand punters at 10pm. Channel Five's Dog Rescuers attracted nine hundred and seventy nine thousand at 8pm, while CSI was watched by 1.22m at 9pm.

Long Lost Family topped the Monday overnight ratings outside of soaps. The ITV series brought in 4.33 million at 9pm. Earlier, Countrywise was seen by 2.70m at 8pm. On BBC1, The Sheriffs Are Coming appealed to 3.14m at 7pm. A repeat of Room 101 entertained 2.36m at 8.30pm, followed by a repeat of Death In Paradise with 2.53m at 9pm. BBC2's WWI Remembered From The Battlefield was seen by 1.51m at 7pm, while its coverage from Westminster Abbey climbed to 2.43m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Dispatches interested 1.63m at 8pm, followed by Food Unwrapped with 1.52m at 8.30pm. Royal Marines Commando School attracted 1.94m at 9pm and Kitchen Nightmares gathered seven hundred and seventy thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Police Interceptors attracted nine hundred and fifty seven thousand viewers at 8pm, followed by Dangerous Dog Owners And Proud with 1.30m at 9pm and Big Brother with 1.19m at 10pm. On E4, The One Hundred continued with six hundred and ninety nine thousand at 9pm.

The 2014 Commonwealth Games came to a close with over 6.5 million overnight viewers on Sunday night. The Closing Ceremony to the Glasgow games scored 6.77m from 9pm. A review of the games also attracted 5.14m at 8pm. Earlier, Countryfile appealed to 5.65m at 7pm. On BBC2, Dragons' Den was seen by 2.39m at 8pm, followed by a repeat of The Thirteenth Tale with nine hundred and twelve thousand at 9pm. With the Commonwealth Games taking up the lion's share of the BBC1 schedule throughout the day, ITV saw its all-day share of the audience slump to just 8.3 per cent, a third of BBC1's twenty six per cent. ITV's most-watched programme on Sunday was a Catchphrase repeat, which had but 2.73 million viewers between 7.15pm and 8pm. Elsewhere, the third episode of Channel Four's drama The Mill had 1.27 million punters between 8pm and 9pm. At the same time ITV's Foyle's War repeat drew 2.17 million between 8pm and 10pm. Also on Channel Four Child Genius was watched by 1.08m at 9pm. Channel Five's Big Brother continued with 1.05m at 9pm.

Usain Bolt's triumphant final leg for the Jamaican one hundred metres relay team handed BBC1 its biggest audience of the Commonwealth Games with more than eight million viewers. The men's four by one hundred metres final, in which England took the silver medal, drew 8.4 million viewers between 9.20pm and 9.25pm on Saturday. Tom Daley delivered the biggest audience for sister channel BBC3, with a peak of 1.8 million viewers watching the Olympic bronze medallist take gold in the men's ten metre platform diving between 8.55pm and 9pm. BBC1's Commonwealth Games coverage averaged 5.37m during primetime. BBC2 continued airing the Commonwealth Games from 10pm, drawing in 1.48m. Preceding the Glasgow event on BBC2 were Proms Extra (two hundred and sixteen thousand), hosted by Katie Derham, and Melvyn Bragg's Radical Lives (three hundred and ninety eight thousand). ITV game show Tipping Point was watched by 2.39m from 7.30pm, with All Star Family Fortunes attracting 2.34m afterwards. Channel Four's Grand Designs had seven hundred and twenty eight thousand from 8pm before a showing of The Inbetweeners Movie was watched by 1.42m. On Channel Five Big Brother drew eight hundred and twenty nine thousand from 9pm. Autospy: The Last Hours Of ..., had five hundred and sixty three thousand viewers at 10pm. On the multichannels, ITV3's Foyle's War repeat drew eight hundred and seventy four thousand from 9pm.

Here's the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Fourteen programmes, week-ending Sunday 27 July 2014:-
1 The Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony - Wed BBC1 - 7.72m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 7.42m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 6.69m
4 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 5.63m
5 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.70m
6 Long Lost Family - Mon ITV - 4.39m*
7 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.07m
8 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 3.95m
9 Crimewatch UK - Tues BBC1 - 3.91m
10 John Bishop's Australia - Mon BBC1 - 3.88m
11 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 3.75m
12 Commonwealth Games - Thurs BBC1 - 3.63m
13 Formula 1: The Hungarian Grand Prix Highlights - Sun BBC1 - 3.36m
14 The ONE Show - Wed BBC1 - 3.03m
Programmes marked '*' do include include HD figures. Once again, apart from their regular five weekly episodes of Corrie and six episodes of Emmerdale and Long Lost Family not a single ITV programme drew a final and consolidated audience of more than three million viewers. The thirteenth most watched programme on Britain's second biggest channel was Sunday's ITV News with just 2.93m. Two episodes of EastEnders shown on BBC2 because of the continuing coverage of The Commonwealth Games were the channel's top-rated programme of the week - with 4.59m and 4.58m respectively - followed by Red Arrows; Inside The Bubble with 2.77m viewers, Dragons' Den (2.47m), University Challenge (2.38m) and the latest episode of The Honourable Woman (2.28m). Channel Four's highest-rated show was Royal Marines Commando School with 2.45m followed by The Mill (2.13m). CSI: Crime Scene Investigations was Channel Five's best performer with 1.98m. On BBC4, Inspector Montalbano led the way with six hundred and ninety three thousand, followed by the - superb - documentary Northern Soul: Living For The Weekend which was watched by five hundred and sixty five thousand punters. Foyle's War was ITV3's best performer with 1.03m, followed by episodes of Midsomer Murder and Lewis (nine hundred and eighty nine thousand and eight hundred and thirty one thousand respectively).

John Simm's new paranormal drama Intruders will be shown on BBC2 in the UK. The BBC America series comes from writer and executive producer Glen Morgan (best known for his work on The X-Files) and is based on Michael Marshall Smith's novel The Intruders. The eight-part series - which was commissioned by the network in October - follows the character of Whelan (played by Simm), who has 'escaped a dark, violent past for a quiet life in the Pacific Northwest.' As you do. When his wife (Mira Sorvino) goes missing and unrelated events start occurring in the town, he begins an investigation which will change his view of human nature. Kim Shillinglaw, the controller of BBC2, said: 'Drama on BBC2 continues to be a stand-out success and we have plenty more to look forward to this year, from the return of hit series Peaky Blinders and The Fall, to this striking new thriller. With a world renowned cast and an impressive creative team, this chilling and contemporary drama will keep viewers on the edge of their seats this autumn.'

Match Of The Day will add Phil Neville, Ruud Gullit and Rio Ferdinand to its punditry team for the 2014-15 season, it has been revealed. So, that'll be a meeting on minds, no doubt. The trio will replace Alan Hansen, who retired from BBC Sport after the recent World Cup. Alan Shearer, Robbie Savage and Danny Murphy will remain as the core punditry team as the show celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year. Commentators for the new season are Guy Mowbray, Steve Wilson, Jonathan Pearce, Simon Brotherton, Steve Bower and John Motson, who has been with the programme for over forty of the fifty years.
BBC2 has commissioned a Cluedo-style comedy from the producers of The Wrong Mans. Though that, in and of itself, doesn't exactly fill one with feverish anticipation that it'll be any good. Stag will be centred around a stag do in Scotland, with members of the party being murdered one by one. Sounds like one or two such events that this blogger has been to over the years. The three-part series is written by Idiotlamp Productions' George Kay and Jim Field-Smith. It will be a joint production between BBC In-House Comedy and Idiotlamp. Kim Shillinglaw said of the show: '[Comedy] needs to be taken as seriously as classical music at the BBC. When you make people laugh, you create a bit of love. It's a special thing. But it goes beyond that. It holds up a mirror, tells you something about the absurdity of British life. You see that with The Office, The Thick Of It and, in a slightly more parochial way, with W1A. That series is very much in our minds. The other day, I saw a poster telling me to be an "idea-rator". No, I've no idea what it means either. But I immediately took a photograph of it and sent it to Hugh Bonneville.'

Channel Four has announced details of a new celebrity game show titled Time Crashers. The week-long show will feature a group of alleged 'celebrities' being thrown into different time periods without the aid of modern technology. Each episode will include eight stars 'crashing' somewhere in the UK in different eras from the past, where they will be fully immersed in the period. The alleged celebrities will have to work together in different challenges, before one becomes 'the ultimate Time Crasher' at the end of the week. Yes, it does sound wretched, dear blog reader. Justin Gorman, Head of Entertainment for Channel Four, said: 'With Time Crashers, we've commissioned a highly innovative fusion of entertainment and British history that will appeal to a broad TV audience.' Madeleine Knight, Commissioning Editor for Entertainment at Channel Four, added: 'Both our celebrity contributors and the viewers at home will feel uniquely transported to a wide range of historically significant eras in what promises to be a really special, and very fun, show for the channel.' Time Crashers will be co-produced by Wall To Wall Media and GroupM Entertainment for Channel Four. It is expected to begin filming in March 2015, and will be broadcast later in the year.

James Corden is to become the presenter of The Late Late Show on US TV, according to various media reports. Which, if true, is fantastic news as it will, presumably, mean he'll be far too busy doing that to inflict his wretched, smug, unfunny waste-of-space act on British viewers. Can you take similarly unfunny lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall with you Stateside, James? Thanks in advance, mate, it's truly appreciated.

Channel Four has announced its latest batch of factual programmes for the 2014-15 season. Fatonomics will see Doctor Christian Jessen fronting a weight-loss challenge between two contributors each week. Each person will stake their own cash on losing more weight than their opponent. The show will also include reports on the UK's weight problem and how it can impact people's finances as well as their health. Damned Designs will follow home owners who have broken planning laws, as they fight for their properties to be saved from bulldozers in The Court Of The Planning Inspectorate. Sarah Beeny will host Clicks and Mortar, which features two families choosing to sell their house online instead of a high street estate agent. Charlie Luxton will find the strangest and most striking homes on the UK's coastline in Shore Thing, finding out what goes into building such properties and the challenges they provide. Can Property Pay My Wages? will follow businessman Dave Fishwick as he helps people who are trying to make money in property developing, to see if they can be as profitable from their previous nine to five jobs. Architect Zac Monro will present Inside Out Homes, which will see him join up with a different designer each week in order to fulfil home owners' requests to transform their homes, including underground pools and secret staircases. The Shut-Ins is centred around obese people who depend on their partners, children or parents to look after them, with cameras following their day-to-day lives. A team including a GP, dietician and surgeon will meet a new pair each week to try and improve their situation. Finally, Frances Atkins' Autumn Feasts will follow the Michelin-starred chef behind-the-scenes at her restaurant in the Yorkshire Dales.

The government has only got itself to blame over its apparent failure to attract more high-profile candidates to become the next chairman of the BBC Trust, according to one of the corporation's former leaders. Sir Christopher Bland, who chaired the BBC board of governors from 1996 to 2001, told the Gruniad Morning Star that people of 'powerful calibre' - what the hell that is supposed to mean - would be put off a role with limited power but that is also blamed when things go wrong. 'I'm not surprised that the job hasn't attracted the kind of candidates that would have been attracted in the old days,' he said. 'What is palpably wrong is the form of governance of the BBC. The House of Commons cocked it up. They created a foolish and unworkable structure.' Bland said it was 'dreary' being chairman without the powers and responsibilities – 'and the joys' – of chairing the BBC in the way that he did. Bland said he knows of two people whose business backgrounds and public sector involvement would be 'perfect' for the one hundred and ten thousand smackers-a-year job. Yet they had, he claimed, both told him they would not consider the post in its current structure. Last week, Lord Coe – said to be David Cameron's and George Osborne's favoured candidate, by Robert Pestoninfestation if not anyone more reliable – publicly withdrew from the race. Political intervention was condemned by another former BBC chairman, Greg Dyke. Another who has reportedly ruled themselves out is Sarah Hogg, a crossbench peer and former BBC governor. Bland said that Lord Patten, who has stood down from the role due to health issues, was unfairly blamed for things which were beyond the powers allowed by parliament, such as high salaries: 'Those salaries are not set by the BBC Trust.' He added: 'They were bloody lucky to get Chris Patten.' Bland claims that parliament created an unworkable structure: 'They wanted clear blue water between the BBC Trust and the BBC itself. The Trust has separate offices, separate staff and is not involved [in] or responsible for the day-to-day workings of the BBC.' When Bland was chairman, the BBC was a unitary structure. 'I was responsible for everything ultimately, along with my fellow board of governors, and lived in the same building, saw the Director General all the time.' Yet they created separate structures, but still called the Chairman of the Trust the BBC chairman, which 'of course he wasn't.' He added: 'The remit of the chairman is to chair the BBC Trust and the BBC Trust's job is ensure that the BBC, a separate organisation, achieves its charter goals, a regulatory responsibility.' Bland criticised the BBC for being 'slow to get a grip under Mark Thompson on the whole issue of pay.' Believing that inefficiencies in overstaffing and pay are exaggerated, he says that they are being 'effectively improved' by Tony Hall. At seventy six, Bland has embarked on a new career. Having enrolled for creative writing courses, his first novel will be published in October by Head of Zeus. Ashes in the Wind, a story 'of love, violence and redemption', is inspired by his own Anglo-Irish family, although is 'not autobiographical' he told the Gruniad, which had taken five minutes off from running shit-stirring. trouble-making stories about Jezza Clarkson to speak to Bland. I know, I was surprised as well.

The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has been ordered to pay the legal costs of an author who successfully challenged their copyright. Leslie Klinger extremely took the estate to court after being told that he would have to pay a licence fee for writing new stories based on Conan Doyle's characters. A US appeal court ruled that the copyright had expired and said the estate had been 'disreputable' in continuing to levy fees in this regard. It ordered the estate to pay Klinger just over thirty grand in costs. That figure does not include the thirty nine thousand bucks which Klinger paid out in legal fees in the district court prior to his successful appeal and for which he has filed a separate petition. The US Court of Appeal described the Conan Doyle Estate's efforts to charge licence fees to for which there is 'no legal basis' as 'a disreputable business practice. The strategy had worked with Random House; Pegasus was ready to knuckle under; only Klinger (so far as we know) resisted,' the appeal court wrote in its ruling. 'In effect (Klinger) was a private Attorney General, combating a disreputable business practice - a form of extortion - and he is seeking by the present motion not to obtain a reward but merely to avoid a loss. He has performed a public service - and with substantial risk to himself, for had he lost he would have been out of pocket,' it continued. 'For exposing the estate's unlawful business strategy, Klinger deserves a reward but asks only to break even.' The court also took issue with the estate's negotiations with book retailers, saying it was 'playing with fire' by 'asking Amazon and other booksellers to cooperate with it in enforcing its non-existent copyright claims against Klinger.' The court's statement concluded: 'It's time the estate, in its own self-interest, changed its business model.' In June, the seventh US circuit court of appeals in Chicago said that the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson, along with forty six short stories and four novels in which they appeared, were in the public domain. However, ten further stories, published between 1923 and 1927, are still protected by US copyright, which expires in December 2022. In the UK all of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories have been in the public domain for a decade or more. Sir Arthur's estate had argued that this copyright protection meant that anyone creating original stories based on the Sherlock Holmes universe should pay for the privilege of doing so. Klinger, a known authority on the detective, handed over a five thousand smackers 'licensing fee' when he published A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired By The Sherlock Holmes Canon, in 2011. But when it came to publishing a second volume, he decided to withhold the money, leading Conan Doyle's estate to threaten legal action. However, Klinger sued the estate first, arguing the characters were in the public domain and so, therefore, no fee was due. The appeals court sided with him in June and last month, the Supreme Court agreed. The Estate said it was 'disappointed' with the appeal decision, which it said 'reduces the incentive for authors to create great literature by cutting short the value of copyrights protecting two of the world's great characters.'
The Heaton Horror, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has, reportedly, dropped her new surname. The singer will now be referred to simply as Cheryl - like Madonna, or Prince. Only, not as famous - because, she claims, people are 'having difficulties' pronouncing her married name. At least, this is according to the Sunday People so, no doubt it's a load of lies.
A high court judge has questioned the 'proportionality' of the Mirra phone-hacking case after it was claimed legal costs could spiral to twelve million notes. The two-week trial involving civil claims by Sven-Goran Eriksson, Christopher Eccleston and Coronation Street actor Shobna Gulati among others is due to start in February next year. At a costs hearing on Monday of this week, lawyers for Mirra Group Newspapers accused the alleged victims of 'having no interest in the costs being charged by their respective lawyers', because of a reliance on 'no win, no fee' arrangements. MGN said it is planning to spend a million smackers on the case and suggested that the fees charged by its opponents were 'extraordinary' and 'wholly disproportionate'. The publisher claimed that the four million quid budget it has set aside to deal with hacking claims could triple if the celebrities win their case. David Sherborne, the barrister who represented victims of press abuse at The Leveson Inquiry, is likely to pocket over two hundred and thirty thousand smackers after the twelve-day trial, according to MGN's skeleton argument. Sherborne, who is not a QC, has sought over three hundred and fifty quid per hour – more than opposing silk Matthew Nicklin QC. MGN claimed that the sum was 'unreasonable' and proposed that junior counsel, such as Sherborne, receive a mere one hundred and thirty four thousand knicker. The judge was told that 'an unnamed QC' allegedly 'acting for the claimants', wanted three hundred and thirty five grand, while two other junior barristers sought two hundred and three thousand smackers and one hundred and forty eight thousand quid respectively. MGN proposed awarding the QC two hundred and fifteen thousand wonga and claimed the proposed use of four barristers was 'plainly disproportionate'. Mr Justice Mann appeared to agree, asking, 'Is any of this litigation proportionate? At one level, all these costs are disproportionate for the claims being brought.' The judge went on to suggest that any victim of phone-hacking could expect less than one hundred grand in damages – a fraction of the total cost of a trial. He said potential damages were 'probably less than six figures.' The judge added the only justification for the expense would be 'the quasi-public interest' in pursuing the litigation. 'There are still serious questions in relation to the proportionality of individual costs,' he added. The lawyers' fees 'take some justifying', he added. Benjamin Williams, for MGN, went on to point out that the publisher plans to spend just over a million quid on the case. He rejected suggestions that his client's costs were 'strategically low.' 'It is important to say at the outset the explanation is not that my clients have been manipulating their figures in a strategic way,' he claimed. 'All of these claimants are acting through conditional fee agreements.' MGN is contesting the claims without this benefit, he added. In his skeleton argument, Williams said, 'Give the scale of the costs being proposed in the claimants' budget, the defendant invites the court to refuse to approve the budgets and allow the claimants only proportionate costs given the sums in issue.' He said that there was 'a real risk of the costs issue taking on more importance than the underlying issues. Proper costs budgeting will keep control on the claimants' costs which will otherwise be wholly unregulated, the claimants themselves having no interest in the costs being charged by their respective lawyers,' he added. A deadline for alleged victims of phone-hacking to bring claims has been set for 15 August. Of forty three alleged victims currently known to the court, twenty have issued claims thus far. Monday's hearing dealt with eight claimants only: Eriksson, Eccleston, Gulati, BBC creative director Alan Yentob, former-footballer Garry Flitcroft and former nanny to the Beckham family, Abbie Gibson. This group is set to fight a twelve-day trial in February. The hearing continues.

Things just go from bad to worse for the convicted phone-hacker Andy Coulson. The jailed former editor of the Scum of the World, has now been formally charged with three counts of perjury in a hearing in Scotland. In a three-page indictment handed down at the High Court in Glasgow, the Prime Minister's former, if you will, 'chum' Coulson has been accused of lying about his knowledge of phone-hacking at the disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid, lying about his knowledge of the 'culture' of phone-hacking at the paper and lying about his knowledge of illegal payments allegedly made to corrupt police officers whilst he was editor of the paper. Coulson did not attend the hour-long preliminary hearing - because, of course, he is currently banged up at Her Majesty's Pleasure - and did not enter a plea. The crown claimed that he had extremely lied as a witness in trial of former Scottish Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan and his wife Gail in December 2010. The first count of perjury relates to the period prior to the 2006 arrest of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who has been found extremely guilty of a phone-hacking conspiracy while contracted to the Scum of the World. Among the nine instances of alleged lies, it is alleged that Coulson falsely claimed that he 'did not know' that his royal editor Clive Goodman was involved in hacking, that he 'did not know' payments were being paid to Mulcaire for hacking and that he 'had not heard' Mulcaire's name prior to his arrest. In the second count, Coulson is accused of claiming that there 'was not a culture of making use of unlawful interception of communications in the course of their transmissions by a public telecommunications system' and of, falsely, claiming that he was only aware of 'a very unfortunate case' of phone-hacking involving Goodman. Goodman and Mulcaire were very jailed in 2007 in relation to phone-hacking charges covering the period when Coulson was editor of the Scum of the World. Addressing Coulson, the indictment states that the 'truth being, as you well know' is 'that between 10 October 2005 and 8 August 2006' – the date of the arrest of Goodman and Mulcaire – the former journalist knew payments of five hundred quid a week were being made to the private investigator and he knew of his illegal activities. The third count accuses Coulson of falsely claiming that 'whilst employed as editor of the News of the World newspaper you had no knowledge of payments being made to corrupt police officers by staff' at the paper. In relation to the second count, the indictment states that Coulson was aware of hacking other than that conducted by Goodman, specifically that of Milly Dowler, Daniel Craig and Kimberly Fortier, a woman with whom the former Home Secretary David Blunkett was having an affair. In relation to the third count, it is alleged that between 2002 and 2007, a period spanning Coulson's editorship and deputy editorship of the Scum of the World, that he 'understood that payments had been made to corrupt police officers' by Goodman for royal telephone directories.

A German court has agreed to end the bribery trial of Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone in exchange for a sixty million quid payment from him. Ecclestone's offer was based on an existing provision in German law. On Tuesday German prosecutors accepted the offer from the eighty three-year-old multi-billionaire. He went on trial in April, accused of paying a German banker thirty three million Euros (to ensure that a company he favoured could buy a stake in F1. Ecclestone denied any wrongdoing. If found guilty he could have faced a ten stretch in the slammer and the end of his decades-long dominance of motor racing. A BayernLB banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky, was allegedly paid by Ecclestone to ensure the F1 stake was bought by a company that he favoured, so that he would remain in charge of the sport. Gribkowsky was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison in 2012 for accepting bribes. Ecclestone claimed that the payment was given to Gribkowsky after the banker threatened to make false claims about the F1 boss's tax status. Prosecutors said Ecclestone's advanced age and 'other mitigating circumstances' gave grounds to accept the multi-million quid offer. Under German law, defendants can - 'in certain circumstances' - 'buy' the termination of a trial. The legal proviso exists in order to 'ease the burden' on the courts and to deal with cases where reaching a judgment could prove difficult. An experienced lawyer quoted by the Spiegelonline news website, Franz Bielefeld, said that the proviso, known as 'Paragraph 153a', was not just applicable to commercial trials, but could be invoked throughout the court system. It would mean that Ecclestone would not be pronounced either guilty or innocent. Merely sixty million quid less well off than he was previously. Germany's former justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger of the Liberal FDP party, criticised the use of the loophole, saying that it was 'not just bad taste - it's really insolent.' She added that it allowed rich people to go free, whereas 'the less well-heeled' could face prison.
Former BBC Radio 1 DJ Chris Denning has pleaded extremely guilty to a string of historical sex offences against boys. The seventy three-year-old admitted twenty nine charges of abuse against boys aged between nine and sixteen, at Southwark Crown Court. He denied twelve further charges - these include one of gross indecency with a child and eight of indecent assault on a male person - and will face a trial beginning on 24 November at the same court. Denning, of Basildon in Essex, was charged as part of Operation Yewtree, which was set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile fiasco. The offences Denning admitted were committed between 1967 and 1984. He was remanded in custody until his trial, which is expected to last up to two weeks. Denning was first arrested by Yewtree detectives in June last year.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, here is, as far as yer actual Keith Telly Topping knows, the only ever hit single concerning someone having an anxiety attack whilst gardening. It's a niche market, perhaps, but one that the delightful Courtney Barnett and her band have cornered beautifully.

No comments: