Saturday, October 18, 2014

Flatline: Relative Dimension

'Oh, that can't be good!;
'Something nearby is leeching all the exterior dimensions.' 'Aliens?' 'Possibly. Oh, who am I kidding? Probably!' Time And Relative Dimension In Space. An acronym which has found a place in the Oxford English Dictionary. Doctor Who is forever exploring the nuts and bolt of both time and, indeed, space but it has rarely ventured into the other component of the acronym. The clue as to what the latest episode of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama is about is, somewhat, in the title, Flatline, as a new menace from a 2D plane assails locals on a Bristol housing estate, quite literally flattening them into the walls. 'Whatever they are,' says The Doctor at one point, 'they're experimenting, testing, dissecting.' Separated from Clara, he has his own problems when the TARDIS its very self starts to shrink. After Clara stormed off two episodes ago, viewers might have wondered if they would ever see her again. However, one thing the climax of Kill The Moon proved is that here is a companion who is quite willing to speak her mind and is more than capable of going it alone. And sure enough, here she is, for once apart from The Doctor and facing a menace from another dimension, an enemy that exists beyond human perception. She has people to save - but how is it possible to hide when the walls provide no protection? What starts out as a basic 'locked room mystery' story with a bit of a horror twist soon turns personal as Clara, The Doctor and the TARDIS her very self all find themselves under threat from an unnamed species for which death is a mere by-product of its quest to understand how our dimension works.
'Whatever the are, they are experimenting. They're testing. They're ... dissecting. Trying to understand us. Trying to understand three dimensions' Directed by Line Of Duty's Douglas Mackinnon - who did such a brilliant job with Listen earlier in the year - and written by Jamie Mathieson (who also scripted last week's Orient-Express excursion), Flatline is a tense and startlingly imaginative piece of television. It pokes fun at the Time Lord, gives Clara and graffiti artist Rigsy (Big School's Joivan Wade) - whose resemblance, or otherwise, to any similarly-named graffiti artist dead or alive in real-life is, of course, purely co-incidental - a chance to prove their mettle, and it invents a foe that is properly dimensionally transcendental.
'These readings are very ish-y.' According to much pre-publicity, this is the 'Doctor-lite' episode of the current series. To be honest, though, you struggle to support that description in terms of The Doctor's actual engagement with the story. And, for that matter, the amount of time that he's actually on-screen. It's true that circumstances mean he and Clara are separated for much of the episode, but he is always there to lend her a hand – quite literally, if fact.
'Clara, I need you to pick up the TARDIS.' Clara's increased attention in this year's episodes seems to have drawn mixed reactions with some of fandom whingers who've spent considerable time boo-hooing to anyone that will listen about the series having become, if you will, Clara Who. But, frankly, they're the kind of Special People whom one would usually cross the street to avoid and, their opinions are worthless to the point that no one should gives a good God damn what they think. About anything. Anyway, intentionally or not this episode certainly taps right into the increased prominence of Clara - armed, here with the sonic screwdriver and psychic paper - trying out living in the Doc Marten boots of The Doctor. It's done in a playful, witty way at first - 'Does this mean I'm you now?' and 'I'm The Doctor. But, you can call me Clara!' - but Clara quickly learns that being The Doctor is not as easy as she might previously have thought, particularly when lives are at stake. It's a clever little dark mirror to the final scenes of Kill The Moon and it brings back some of the prevalent themes this year reflecting on the nature of Capaldi's regeneration. Clara's 'Doctor' even gets a bunch of companions of her own in the shape of a Community Service gang. Joivan Wade's Rigsy is the stand-out here whilst the excellent Christopher Fairbank gets a meaty, snarly role. 'Looks like your number's up, George!'
'Apparently, they're in the walls.' There is a terrific central idea at the heart of this episode and it's one that, rather surprising, the series hasn't tackled before, particularly given that reference to 'Relative Dimension' within the TARDIS acronym. As with Mummy On The Orient Express, Mathieson doesn't hesitate to enter chilling territory, with Mackinnon again giving the episode an clammy air of impending doom, with some very effective use of light, shadows and unusual perspective via weird camera angles. He injects an air of macabre claustrophobia which means that there are some genuinely scary moments and a very nice visual treatment for this week's menace – as well as for those poor unfortunates that find themselves affected by its various doings. Like The Foretold, the enemy creatures here are nicely realised and brought to life with some impressive CG, particularly once they have 'evolved'. It's rare that CG work can be as unnerving as it is in this episode and huge credit should be awarded to the team for what they manage to come up with.
'I don't know if you'll ever hear this Clara. I don't even know if you're still alive.' We're back to present day Earth this week but, due to a mix of a malfunctioning TARDIS and some plot contrivance, The Doctor and Clara land a hundred miles away from Danny and Coal Hill and are, immediately, thrown into the middle of a gritty, urban nightmare. That said, it's not all darkness – there are some wonderful moments of character humour, as well as one of either the cleverest or the daftest visual gags the programme has ever done. The relationship between The Doctor and Clara takes yet another turn and, it has to be said, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat was probably right in his comparison of their relationship with that of Sarah Jane Smith with her two Doctors – like that, the change in the leading man has brought out a whole new side of the companion. 'In a universe as immense and bizarre as this you, it never pays to judge.'
Continuity: There are references to Full Circle ('if the TARDIS were to land with it's true weight, it would fracture the surface of the Earth.' 'Yeah, maybe a story for another time!'), The Edge Of Destruction, Logopolis (the Cloister Bell) and Death To The Daleks (the conceit of a power supply being directly linked to dimensional instability). There were also a few nods in the general direction of Fear Her, Army Of Ghosts, Hide, Image Of The Fendhal, Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS, The Robots Of Death (the 'perspective' scene), The Girl Who Waited ('I hacked your optic nerve'), Deep Breath ('he's a pudding brain, worse, he's a florescent pudding brain'), Frontios ('structural integrity is failing'), The Christmas Invasion ('you are not wlecome here, this plane is protected!') The Sea Devils ('we can reverse the process'), Resurrection Of the Daleks ('a lot of people died... and maybe the wrong people survived') and Planet Of Fire ('what do you mean, "shrink ray?"')
'Please don't do that, that's just wrong!' The dialogue is, again, great. 'There's not enough power. The TARDIS couldn't boil an egg at the moment,' for instance. And: 'I am the one chance you've got of staying alive. That's who I am.' And: 'Will you not spoil this moment of me not knowing something, it happens to rarely!' And: 'Stop laughing, this is serious!' And: 'Why Doctor Oswald, you are hilarious!' And: 'It's bigger on the inside ...' 'You know, I don't think that statement's ever been truer!' 'What are you, aliens or something?' 'No. well, he is!' And: 'He's usually out of the box.' And: 'They can't jump, can they?' The Doctor/Clara exchanges, in particular, are some of the best of the series so far. 'Nice. Not technically lying!' And: 'It takes quite a lack of imagination to beat psychic paper!' And:'Are we really hiding from killer graffiti?' 'Oh, we'll have to think of a better name for it than that.' And: 'I just hope I can keep them all alive.' 'Hah! Welcome to my world. So, what's next Doctor Clara?' 'Lie to them. Isn't that what you always do?' And: 'We're not calling it a deflattener!' And: 'Do you want the good news or the bad news? ' 'We're in the bad news. I'm living the bad news!' And: 'I quite liked that headband.' And: 'You are monsters, that is the role you are determined to play. So, it seems that I must play mine. The man that stops the monsters.' And: 'Your last painting was so good it saved the world, I can't wait to see what you do next!' And: 'That's how you think isn't it?' 'Largely so other people don't have to.'
'Oh, he's a bright one, hang on to him!' We're given plausible reasons as to why The Doctor acts the way he does, and while it's not all that far away from what we would have guessed, it's important - and, actually, quite life-affirming - to hear the normally closed-off Twelfth Doctor actually state out loud something which is very close to his mission statement; even if, as Clara realises, it's very unlikely that they'll save everyone from a horrible death. 'Welcome to my world,' The Doctor intones grimly. 'You were an exceptional Doctor, Clara. Goodness had nothing to do with it.'
'Sorry, I stopped listening a while ago.' Although some of the ideas may sound a little like the remake of Fear Her there is, trust me, no need to worry on that sore. In fact, if you're looking for a closer recent parallel, then it could probably be something like Turn Left, or maybe Blink. But let's be clear: Flatline is a true original. An episode that kind of reminds you why you watch Doctor Who in the first place. The utter, incandescent fury of Capaldi towards the end of the episode is where the series has been heading since Deep Breath; perhaps the Twelfth Doctor's defining moment was in Flatline where he saves as many lives as he can, can't get too attached because he knows that everyone can't make it and hides his sorrow of that behind cynical bluster. But, his true terror is of what he's capable of when he finds someone who is deliberately causing harm. The clever bit is that, on a smaller scale, we can probably all recognise elements of ourselves in that. And, that's why he's so reluctant to tell Clara how well she did when taking on in his role. Plus, The Addams Family bit was well funny.
'This is huge. Not literally huge ...' Flatline, then, is Doctor Who showing, once again, that when it comes to imaginative ideas and a constant thirst for the new, it's where it's been since 1963, ahead of the pack. 'Of course, the next stage! 3D!'
The Apprentice dropped around six hundred thousand viewers for its second episode on Wednesday, overnight figures reveal. The latest episode still easily topped the night with 6.07 million punters at 9pm on BBC1. BBC2's You're Fired spin-off brought in 2.18m at 10pm. Later on BBC1, A Question of Sport attracted 1.93m at 10.35pm. BBC2's repeat run of Horizon: Cat Watch continued with 1.04m at 7pm, followed by Trust Me, I'm A Doctor with 2.74m at 8pm and the documentary Swallowed By The Sea with 2.18m at 9pm. On ITV, Celebrity Squares risibly failed to entertain 2.91m at 8pm, while Scott & Bailey held steady with 3.71m at 9pm. Channel Four's Supervet was seen by 1.66m at 8pm. Grand Designs gathered 1.88m at 9pm, followed by Cutting Edge with seven hundred and sixty three thousand at 10pm. On Channel Five, The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door attracted 1.44m, followed by Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away with 1.57m at 9pm. Wentworth's latest episode was seen by six hundred and twenty four thousand viewers at 10pm.

The Great Fire's launch episode topped Thursday's overnight ratings outside soaps. The new ITV period drama attracted an average 4.44 million at 9pm. Earlier, Paul O'Grady's For The Love Of Dogs appealed to 4.38m at 8.30pm. On BBC1, Watchdog interested 3.17m at 8pm, followed by Crimewatch with 3.21m at 9pm. Question Time brought in 2.13m at 10.35pm. BBC2's It Takes Two had an audience of 1.74m at 6.30pm, while Horizon: Cat Watch continued with 1.27m at 7pm. The Great British Bake Off Masterclass drew 2.04m at 8pm. Peaky Blinders' latest episode had an audience of 1.59m at 9pm, up over one hundred thousand viewers from last week's episode. On Channel Four, the series finale of Location, Location, Location was seen by 1.25m at 8pm, followed by Educating The East End with 1.18m at 9pm and Scrotal Recall with four hundred and thirteen thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Benefits Britain intrigued seven hundred and forty nine thousand at 8pm, while No Foreigners Here attracted six hundred and six thousand at 9pm. The new Clive Owen drama The Knick debuted with one hundred and five thousand at 9pm on Sky Atlantic. Homes By The Sea launched with five hundred and sixty five thousand at 9pm on More4.

Gogglebox: Celebrity Special played to an audience of 3.72 million overnight viewers on Friday evening. Channel Four's Stand Up To Cancer charity special kicked off with 1.19 million at 7pm, although viewership increased throughout the show. An average audience of 1.53 million watched Taylor Swift and Jamie Oliver's Naked Chef sketch at around 7.30pm, while 1.84 million tuned-in for Andy Murray in Andy Murray: The Movie. Average viewing figures rose to 2.28 million between 8.30 and 9.15pm. On ITV, the second episode of Lewis was the evening's highest-rated show excluding soaps, playing to an average audience of 4.54 million at 9pm. 2.87 million viewers watched Secrets From The Sky an hour earlier at 8pm. BBC1's evening began with 3.55 million for The ONE Show at 7pm, followed by 2.88 million for A Question Of Sport. Would I Lie To You? entertained 3.15 million at 8.30pm, while the channel's evening peaked with 4.05 million for Have I Got News For You with guest host Frank Skinner and an appearance by the excellent Sara Pascoe. BBC1's night ended with 3.24 million for The Graham Norton Show, which featured guests Robert Duvall, and Robert Downey Jr. On BBC2, The Great British Bake Off Masterclass picked up an average of 1.54 million iewers at 7pm, followed by an evening high of 2.18 million for Mastermind at 8pm. Elsewhere, Lorraine Pascale: How To Be A Better Cook informed 1.19 million viewers at 8.30pm, Tom Kerridge's Best Ever Dishes continued with 1.06 million at 9pm, while Gardeners' World played to 1.42 million at 9.30pm. Qi was seen by a slightly reduced audience of 1.77 million at 10pm in an episode enhanced by the presence of the divine Victoria Coren Mitchell but, otherwise, totally ruined by that worthless, unfunny, risible lanky streak of piss Jack Whitehall. Who the hell is it in television who keeps giving this waste-of-oxygen work? Cut it out, will ya. Titanic: Three Hours That Shook The World was Channel Five's highest-rated show of the evening with seven hundred and thirty eight thousand at 8pm, while fie hundred and ninety eighty thousand tuned in for Body Of Proof.
The director behind the first Doctor Who serial, Waris Hussein, is to be honoured at this year's Asian Media Awards. The seventy five-year-old, who was tasked with launching the long-running BBC family SF drama with An Unearthly Child in 1963 and returned to direct the majority of the fourth serial Marco Polo a few months later, will receive the Outstanding Contribution Award at the ceremony on 28 October. Hussein was the first director of Indian origin to join the BBC's Drama Department and, at the time of his appointment in 1960, was the youngest director that the BBC had ever had. He has since gone on to win a BAFTA and an EMMY for his work on the 1978 miniseries Edward & Mrs Simpson and a further EMMy in 1986 for the Barry Manilow musical Copacabana. Hussein is currently preparing to direct a film based on his experience working with the late Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton during the couple's last on-screen collaboration.

Sky has axed Nick Frost's drama Mr Sloane after one series. The six-episode drama, set in 1969, starred Frostie as the hapless titular character and was created by Curb Your Enthusiasm's Bob Weide. Posting on the show's official Facebook page, the production team spoke of their 'disappointment and confusion' over the cancellation. 'The thinking behind this decision is a bit baffling even to us, since Sky had been very supportive during the first series and claims the show to have been a success for them by every measure,' the post read. 'However, there is a new channel head at Sky who, it seems, has a new agenda for the channel that doesn't include our pal, Sloaney. What that agenda is, we imagine, will become more evident over the coming year.' A Sky spokesperson said: 'We can confirm that Mr Sloane will not be returning to Sky Atlantic HD. We're incredibly proud of the series and would like to thank its creator Bob Weide, marvellous cast led by Nick Frost, and Big Talk Productions. Sky has made a huge investment in original new content but as part of that, we do still have to make difficult decisions as to which series we should bring back and where we should explore new opportunities instead. In this case, we have decided not to bring back Mr Sloane but would love to work with the team behind it again in the future.' Meanwhile, the Sky Living comedy Trying Again will also not be returning, according to Radio Times. Chris Addison starred in the show as Lake District tourist officer Matt, who struggles to mend his relationship with his girlfriend (played by Jo Joyner) after she has an affair. The alleged 'comedy' was written by Addison and The Thick of It's Simon Blackwell. A statement from Sky Living said: 'Trying Again won't be returning to Sky Living for a second series [because it was crap and no one watch it, probably] but we'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in this critically acclaimed comedy.'

Dazzling Dezza Brown was up to his usual mind-boggling tricks on the Stand Up To Cancer telethon on Friday. The illusionist and mentalist was joined by Sherlock couple Martin Freeman (sporting a quite magnificent beard) and Amanda Abbington for a very special card trick. The night raised over fourteen million quid, beating its previous total of eight million in 2012.
The BBC has teased the prospect of a new Benedict Cumberbatch project. An image on BBC1's Facebook page features the caption 'Benedict Cumberbatch filming something special for BBC1 and BBC2. More details soon.'
Meanwhile, Benny's Sherlock co-star Amanda Abbington - wearing a totally different coloured hair to the one she was sporting on Stand Up To Cancer at more or less exactly the same time on another channel! Now, that's magic - provided one of the TV comedy moments of the week during her appearance on Would I Lie To You? with her tale of rabbit murder.
Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling are to star in London Spy. The pair will appear alongside Ben Whishaw and Edward Holcroft in the forthcoming BBC2 espionage thriller. The five-part series - from Child Forty Four author Tom Rob Smith - will begin filming in London next month. Whishaw will play Danny, described as 'an innocent, young romantic' who 'gets caught up in a world of espionage and conspiracy.' As you do. The series will be set on a London street which houses the headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service on one side and the headquarters of the gay clubbing scene on the other. Whishaw's character falls for the anti-social Alex after a chance encounter, but when Alex suddenly disappears he must decide whether he has what it takes to find out what happened to him. Smith said: 'Ben Whishaw is quite simply one of the best actors in the country. It's an extraordinary privilege, as a writer, to have him play the lead.' Polly Hill, BBC's head of independent drama, added: 'This is a beautifully written love story, caught up in a spy thriller. A wonderfully complex and surprising story, of one man's search for the truth.' London Spy will be broadcast on BBC2 in 2015.

The BBC has announced three new Sir David Attenborough series, including Waking Giants for BBC1. Attenborough's Paradise Birds and Attenborough's Big Birds have also been commissioned to be shown on BBC2. Waking Giants will follow the recent discovery of dinosaur bones beneath the South American desert, while Paradise Birds will see Dangerous Dave following the avians through the jungles of New Guinea and Indonesia. 'For me birds of paradise are the most romantic and glamorous birds in the world. And this is a film I have wanted to make for forty years,' Attenborough said. Big Birds will follow Attenborough as he meets some of the world's strangest birds. The broadcaster has also announced details of two new landmark series: Shark and Dynasty. The former will feature the BBC's Natural History Unit as they use the latest 4K and high-speed camera technology to observe the behaviour of sharks. Dynasty - which is scheduled to be broadcast in 2018 - is a five-part series from executive producer Mike Gunton. It will follow lions, African hunting dogs, chimpanzees, tigers and emperor penguins as they strive to produce the next generation. Tony Hall, the Director General of the BBC, said: 'No-one does natural history like the BBC. We've got the best back catalogue in the world and an exciting future ahead of us. Today I'm delighted to announce what I think is the most ambitious range of Natural History we've ever commissioned - with Sir David Attenborough going on some big new adventures for us.' Meanwhile, Pets Wild At Heart will look at 'the inner wild side' of the animals that have lived alongside humans for generations, while Ireland - The Wild Edge Of The World will explore the country's spectacular coastline. Three-part series Invisible Nature: Flight and five-parter Animals Like Us - Super Spy will also be shown on BBC1, with three-part series The Wild West commissioned for BBC2. BBC Earth will be the new digital home for BBC nature content in the UK, and will include personalised interactive feature Your Life On Earth, which will reveal to users how much the world has changed around them since their birth.
Six senior Sun journalists were 'prepared to break the law' in the pursuit of a story by paying public officials for confidential information, a jury has heard. The journalists had 'a calculated and deliberate' policy of paying police officers, members of the military and healthcare staff, Kingston crown court was told on Friday. Sources included staff at Broadmoor high-security hospital, with leaks providing confidential information on the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, and Rachel Nickell’s killer, Robert Napper. At one point, Sun reporter Jamie Pyatt told his head of news Chris Pharo, of his Broadmoor sources: 'This is a gold mine I've hit in these two contacts.' The sources would 'provide the Sun endlessly.' One of these alleged sources, Broadmoor healthcare assistant Robert Neave, known as 'Tipster Bob', supplied several stories to Pyatt, said Peter Wright, QC, opening the case against the six. The court was told that Neave also gave the reporter Sutcliffe's psychiatric report to read. Pyatt claimed a thousand smackers to pay Neave for a story on Sutcliffe being stabbed by another inmate, and the source, Wright said, also helped the newspaper take a photograph of Napper in the grounds of Broadmoor. In one request, Pyatt e-mailed Pharo and former deputy news editor Ben O'Driscoll, saying that he 'needed cash' for his 'Broadmoor contact' as 'there is a major mole hunt on for my contact and it is obvious he cannot have NI [News International] payments in his bank account.' The six journalists – Pharo, managing editor Graham Dudman, O'Driscoll, picture editor John Edwards and reporters Pyatt and John Troup – all deny conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. Wright said that the jury would hear evidence that such a 'gross breach of confidence' at Broadmoor had the capacity to cause 'serious disruption.' The information leaked and the 'sensationalist' way it was used by the Sun led to mistrust between patients and staff, Wright said. Such a breach exposes others to the 'risk of reprisal' and was corrosive of trust, he said. 'It exposes staff and fellow patient alike to danger.' The trial has heard that Pharo had at 'least five' reporters who sought authorisation from him for payments to public officials. He authorised cash payments to various public officials, including a source at Sandhurst, where Prince William was undergoing his military training, and a seven hundred and fifty quid 'welcome aboard' payment to a new Pyatt Broadmoor source, the court heard. The Sandhurst source had obtained a photograph of a sergeant, who had trained the prince, and who was accused of killing a police officer in a car crash, the jury heard. Chasing a one grand payment, one reporter emailed Pharo saying his contact was 'my eyes and ears' at Sandhurst, and had obtained the photograph 'at huge personal risk (his army pension!)' Pharo 'realised the value of having someone on the inside at Sandhurst,' claimed Wright, and approved the payment immediately, with the words 'I'll sort it, old son.' Another request, from Pyatt, was for an army private at the Combermere barracks in Windsor, where Prince Harry was based before and after his first tour of Afghanistan. The reporter requested five hundred knicker to get the source 'totally onside for the future.' Later, he requested a thousand quid cash payment for 'an exclusive' on the younger prince's wish to serve at the frontline. Explaining to Pharo why cash was required, Pyatt wrote: 'He is a soldier living in the barracks.' The payment was approved, said Wright. O'Driscoll was also 'no stranger to the activities', said Wright. When requested by Pyatt for a seven hundred and fifty notes cash payment to 'keep this guy on side in Broadmoor', O'Driscoll responded: 'Get it in today, dude.' This 'casual response' demonstrated 'casual indifference to what these men were actually engaged in', said Wright. Troup requested three hundred smackers cash to pay 'a source' for a story about a prisoner suicide at a category A prison. Dudman asked the reporter why it had to be cash, said Wright. Troup responded that the 'tipster is a prison officer' who 'doesn't want any record of his name anywhere.' Dudman replied: 'That’s fine – thanks', the jury heard. Wright said Dudman's reply was 'as casual and matter of fact as it was informative about the methods the Sun used to get leads.' Pharo denies six counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, O'Driscoll and Dudman each deny four counts, Edwards and Pyatt each deny three counts, and Troup denies two counts. Dudman is accused of paying an unknown City of London police officer or officers for information on the Soham murders of ten-year-old schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. Leaked information included details about two officers on Operation Fincham, the Soham inquiry, being arrested for allegedly downloading child pornography. Matthew Tapp, who headed the Cambridgeshire police media strategy during the investigation, said that he was 'not aware' of any 'bungs' paid by reporters to officers on the case. He agreed, under cross examination from Dudman's counsel, Oliver Blunt QC, that the arrests of a family liaison officer working with the Chapman family, and an exhibits officer in the case, was 'of public interest' and 'a shattering blow' to the inquiry. While the police force had confirmed the arrests, the details surrounding the allegations that were published in the Sun had not come officially from the police, which would have been 'totally and wholly inappropriate,' said Tapp. Blunt said: 'This wasn't a story about titillation and amusement. This was a horrific story and also an utterly sorry state of affairs with regard to the investigating officers.' The court heard Dudman claimed cash payments of three hundred and fifty and four hundred smackers, allegedly for his source or sources and the requests were made in false names. He also submitted receipts on three occasions for entertaining his contacts at a Chinese restaurant and twice for entertaining at an Indian restaurant, restaurants which were, the jury heard, 'extremely local to his home address.' Questioned by Troup's counsel William Clegg, QC, Tapp agreed that he knew the reporter from working for police forces in East Anglia, and considered him to be honest, and had never heard of any suggestions he had offered money to police officers. The six journalists were arrested on separate occasions between 2011 and 2013. On arrest, Pyatt was asked by police about references to 'police contacts' in his expenses and e-mails, the jury heard. He said it was 'a very, very wide term' that could apply to a girlfriend or wife of a police officer, said Wright. Asked what the term 'public interest' meant, he replied 'public interest is what interests our readers, what makes them when they open the paper say: "That's a great read.' It makes them laugh, it makes them cry.' Wright told the jury: 'It is the prosecution's case that the public interest and what interests the public are two different things.' The trial extremely continues.

There was a fair bit of effing and blinding in John Humphrys' on-stage conversation with fellow BBC radio presenter Nicky Campbell at the Radio Festival in Salford on Monday of this week. It was also a bit like a scene from BBC2's The Trip, except instead of Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan doing impressions of Michael Caine, Humphers and Nick competed with passable imitations of Gordon Brown. Both suffered at Brown's hands – 'fucking BBC Tories' Campbell remembered hearing the former Prime Minister whinge after an interview on Radio 5Live – while Humphrys recalled the phone call from another Campbell – the terrifying Alastair – arranging a hastily convened interview with Tony Blair for his BBC1 show On The Record. 'All right you cunt? You want to come here tomorrow?' Humphrys remembered Campbell telling him. 'Chequers, Blair, one o'clock.' Humphrys also looked back on his controversial 2012 Today interview with Ed Milimolimandi in which he appeared to imply that Milimolimandi was 'too ugly' to lead the Labour party. The Today presenter said it was 'mildly toe-curling' but added: 'I think I would still defend it. He said, "Oh! You are saying I'm too ugly to be Prime Minister are you?" No, of course not. You can't say yes even if you think it, which I don't, obviously.' So ... that's cleared that up.

Viewers saw double during a BBC weather bulletin when two moving images of presenter Helen Willetts appeared on screen at once. 'A technical gaffe' meant that the forecast on Thursday became, if you will, a 'two-cast' as the BBC News channel presenter and her twin guided viewers through the outlook for the next few hours. News presenter Huw Edwards also appeared bemused when the two Helens handed back to him during the broadcast. He told viewers: 'Not just one Helen, but two Helens, and, frankly, I'm happy with two, three, four, five Helens.' Sycophant. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'We experienced a technical problem with our weather graphics which led to two Helens appearing instead of one.'
Seven producer and executive producer roles will be cut from in-house drama in England as part of changes to how the department operates. Mark Freeland, controller of fiction and entertainment, said that the proposals will 'enable drama production in England to become more flexible and dynamic' in 'a highly competitive and changing marketplace. Right now and in the future, drama is such a key genre for BBC Production - in the UK and globally. We need to be in best shape in order to be flexible, fleet-of-foot and on fire, creatively,' Freeland told drama staff in an e-mail on Tuesday. He conceded that the announcement comes on top of 'an unsettling six months' and that there would be 'a difficult day and period ahead for many of you'. BECTU has been advised of the proposals, with the BBC discussing the implications with the union in due course. Under the proposals, BBC drama production in England will move to a 'development business model' with two creative teams - in London and in Salford. Four new development executive positions will be created within the teams, roles that will develop ideas, writers and scripts. But four development producer and producer roles will be cut as part of the plans, along with three executive producer posts in Drama England. 'We have looked very carefully at in-house drama's current and projected business levels and it has become clear that we currently have too many executive producer roles to cover the current workload and to keep us truly competitive,' Freeland said. He added that, in future, producers will be brought in on a freelance basis when they are needed. The proposals are part of wider changes to in-house drama, with three high-profile appointments announced recently to lead the creative teams. Hilary Salmon and Christopher Aird are new drama heads in London, while Hilary Martin is their counterpart in Salford. They replace Kate Harwood, who was head of drama in England. Continuing drama series and daytime drama are unaffected by the proposed changes, but the former will now report directly to Aird. BBC drama production is responsible for shows such as EastEnders, Doctors, Holby City, Casualty, Doctor Who and Our Girl. It faces an uncertain future after Tony Hall proposed that it becomes 'a more commercial enterprise' that competes for all BBC commissions and makes programmes for other broadcasters.

Pixies are to re-release their 1989 LP Doolittle to mark its twenty fifth anniversary, along with previously unreleased demos. Titled Doolittle Twenty five, the three-CD collection features fifty songs including B-sides and BBC radio sessions from The John Peel Show. Announcing the special edition on their website, the band said that nearly half the recordings on the collection had not been commercially released before. The collection will be released on 1 December. Considered one of rocks most influential bands, Pixies formed in 1986 in Boston. While they received only modest success in their home country, they instead found greater popularity in the UK where their four LPs were all top ten hits. They split in 1993 but reunited in 2004, announcing a full tour. To celebrate Doolittle's Twentieth anniversary in 2009, the band went on tour performing the entire LP. Earlier this year they released Indie Cindy, their first studio CD since 1991's Trompe Le Monde, reaching number six in the UK charts.

And finally, dear blog reader, on Tuesday 17 January 1967, you could have been watching all of this on BBC1. In North London, at Abbey Road, The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might have heard of them) were in Studio Two putting the finishing touches to a new Paul McCartney song, 'Penny Lane'. Meanwhile, down the corridor in Studio Three, a hugely under-rated five-piece beat combo from Manchester were recording this. And, that's yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day.

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