Saturday, November 08, 2014

Death In Heaven: Everything Is Fine. You Got Your Good Thing And I've Got Mine

'Clara Oswald has never existed.'
'Well, this is a bit exciting!' So, dear blog reader, Danny is 'deceased' (we presume), Clara is more than a bit distraught, The Cybermen have only been and gone and invaded London close to St Paul's Cathedral yet again (what's that, third time in forty years?) and The Doctor is reeling from the perfectly Earth-shattering news that gleefully bonkers, mad-as-toast Missy is, in actual fact, his Time Lord nemesissy, The Master, after a regenerative sex change. Now making him, err her, The Mistress. The cosmos may not yet be ready for a female Doctor - and, certainly some significantly conservative parts of Doctor Who fandom don't appear to be - but this blogger wishes to congratulate The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat for delivering the next best thing: a gender reassignment for The Master. 'Hey, Missy, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind.' And that. It is far from the most unlikely premise offered by this series and, especially, that it has the deliciously added bonus of, it would seem, having pissed off a lot of people who really deserve to be pissed-off. Ooo, hopping mad, so they were. It got so bad at one point I thought somebody was going to release a protest record. 'This is not a joke/The Master is a bloke.' And that. The twelve episodes of this series of Doctor Who have hurtled by like a runaway TARDIS. But what further shocks would this hour-long finale Death In Heaven deliver? And how would yer actual Peter Capaldi's Doctor, who all of a sudden appears to despise soldiers, rub along with The Brigadier's daughter Kate Stewart and her para-military cohorts at UNIT? As The Doctor and Clara face their darkest day, they need all the allies they can muster. The tone remains extremely macabre as black clouds swirl - quite literally - and the dead rise to conquer the Earth as Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) delivers one of his boldest, most exhilarating and peculiarly touching episodes, an excellent, deeply satisfying season finale.
'In twenty four hours, the human race as you know it will cease to exist.' Yer actual Keith Telly Topping has really enjoyed this most recent series of Doctor Who, dear blog reader. And, he's been very vocal about it. You might have noticed. And, not just on this  blog either. Indeed, if you're one of those who follows Keith Telly Topping on Facebook (and, if you are, why for the love of God, why?) you'll be aware that this blogger's mantra for each episode of the series and, indeed, for the series as a whole, has basically boiled down to just five words. 'I thought it was great.' Because Keith Telly Topping did think each and every episode, and the series in total, has been great, dear blog reader. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping thinks that most Doctor Who episodes are great, to be fair. That's, perhaps, because he classes himself as 'a Doctor Who fan' and it sort of goes with the territory (well, that's the theory, anyway). If this blogger did not think an episode of Doctor Who was great he would say so. The last episode that this blogger didn't think was great was Nightmare In Silver. Before that it was Victory Of The Daleks. Both of which weren't entire dead-losses but, by and large, fell below the sort of standards we've come to expect. Before that it was Fear Her. And that was shit. Before that we're back to ... I dunno, Paradise Towers part four, or something. Now, it could be that yer actual Keith Telly Topping's critical faculties have become so jaded, so worn down over the years that he now accepts any old crap which is presented to him; such a premise has certainly been suggested more than once during the last twelve weeks (by very rude people most of whom are now in Keith Telly Topping's Facebook 'ignore file', admittedly). It could also be that yer actual Keith Telly Topping doesn't 'over think' these things and simply accepts Doctor Who for what it is and always has been, a straightforward piece of Saturday night family entertainment that ticks most of the boxes to keep it in a higher critical category than, say, The Test Card. Or, it could be that yer actual Keith Telly Topping still get exactly the same little fanboy thrill of wonder and awe as he did watching episode two of Fury From The Deep as a four year old on a bone-chilling Saturday tea-time in February 1968. Don't come to me looking for a quick answer on that one, dear blog reader.
'Oh, go on! Crack a smile! I want to see if your eyebrows fall off!' Death In Heaven picks up pretty much where Dark Water concluded, with the Cyber-invasion of London (and, you know, Earth) in full progress. Thankfully, it doesn't take very long for UNIT's eight man (and a couple of girls) death squad to turn up and, to a degree, contain the situation. The Doctor soon finds himself on board UNIT's spanking new Lear Jet - complete with its own, very handsome, watercolour portrait of The Brigadier - and getting saluted a lot. Meanwhile The Doctor's arch-nemessissy is waiting to unleash the next stage of her outrageous and over-complicatedly bonkers plan. Just like old times, in fact. Now, if you thought, dear blog reader, that the previous episode was dark as a Dracula's underpants, know in advance that Dark Water was merely an appetiser to The Main Event with a further exploration of some Goddamn grim and difficult themes, plenty of unsettling moments and a thoroughly bleak tone throughout. Expect another one hundred and eighteen knobless glakes to get whinging as soon as the credits have rolled. If not before. There are some odd bits of - often, in and of themselves odd - humour knocking about in the episode, but for a good four-fifths of the running-time this is family-friendly drama dressed up as something else entirely. Not, necessarily, something bad, you understand, but Doctor Fluffy, it wasn't. It feels as if The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has responded to the oft-voiced claim - from some of fandom's loudest, and sourest, voices - that viewers 'want darkness, death and consequence' with a cheerful: 'Okay, you want it, you've got it.' . Which also means, that, for example, the fairytale nature of In The Forest Of The Night. Listen and Flatline, with the benefit of hindsight from the vantage point of the series finale makes an awful lot more sense.
'Well look at me, I'm bananas!' If the opening of the two-parter was focused, primarily, on Clara and her reaction to Danny's 'death', the continuation concentrates on The Doctor who is given the opportunity to interact with his arch-nemesissy and to have a spot of self-reflection - and, self-flagellation - into the process. The themes which have been bubbling away under the surface since Deep Breath mostly come to a climax in this episode. There are, you'll be happy to learn, many brilliantly Doctoresque moments from Capaldi to shine in and, particular, in some of his latter scenes he gets to work with a lot of powerful and dramatic material. And material which is more than a touch bittersweet too, particularly in relation to his search fo his home planet. Michelle Gomez is, as with last week, very scary and in full-on psychotic Mary Poppins mode. There is a particular moment - when she killed poor Osgood and then stamps on her glasses - where she is so deeply cruel, so utterly without conscience or mercy, that it will likely cause something of a shitstorm among those professional offence-takers who enjoy looking for stuff to whinge like a whinging whinger about. 'Say something nice', The Mistress has a habit of saying, albeit in a disturbingly menacing way. Yes, Miss, I will. While the Cybermen are, necessarily, somewhat sidelined by Missy, this episode does feels like the story which gives back to The Doctor's old enemy the menacing power of some bygone eras. Not least in terms of realising the true nature of them and exploring the horror that they encompass. Easily the best Cyberman story since The Age Of Steel.
'The Nethersphere is just a cool name we came up with during a spit-ball.' Jenna Coleman and Samuel Anderson both deliver great performances with some particularly challenging dialogue. Returning are the excellent Jemma Redgrave and Ingrid Oliver as UNIT's Head of Scientific Research Kate Stewart, and her assistant Osgood, whose traded in her Tom Baker scarf for Smudger's bow-tie. Kate, as usual, makes sure that her father's legacy - science leads - is honoured whilst Osgood gets an offer she can't refuse. And then, gets turned to dust before she can take The Doctor up on it. Unless that was The Zygon, of course. Which it might have been. Joining them is Sanjeev Bhaskar in his role as Colonel Ahmed. Moffat's tight script is peppered with more than a few excellent jokes and some genuinely terrifying scenes where the show is channelling everything from The West Wing to The Night Of The Living Dead via Ultraviolet. With the dead rising in newly upgraded bodies, much to Seb's glee, and Missy's plans unfolding, we find out more about the afterlife in general and the belief in it throughout Mankind's history. 'She's a Time Lord, she must have a TARDIS somewhere,' The Doctor tells Kate.
Rachel Talalay works her little cotton socks off in the concluding episode having more varied locations, visual effects and action sequences to play with than last time around and delivers on both the action and during the episode's quieter, more reflective and redolent scenes. But, the bits that people will remember are the moments where you could genuinely believe you were watching a multi-million dollar Hollywood blockbuster rather than an episode of fifty one year old SF TV family drama. The story is epic in scale; it has jet-packed Cybermen and UNIT's plane being attacked by them in mid-flight in a scene that is two-parts James Bond and one-part The Twilight Zone. It has death on a large scale. It has a storyline which wraps up a lot - but not all - of the dangling plotlines we've been watching for the last twelve weeks and it opens a whole new box of 'what next?' for fandom to mull over until the Christmas special comes around. And, obviously, for The Special People to whinge over like whinging whingers. So, no change there, then. It's jam-packed with incident and continuity. There's also a bit of Steven Moffat playing Sherlock-esque games with the audience that, again, will satisfy many - this blogger included - but have others red-faced and gurning at the mirror in impotent fury. Which is, let's face it, always a reet good laugh. A character - it's Seb, actually - even uses the word 'squee' at one point.
'Well, gentlemen, where to start? I was born on the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I'm a Time Lord but my Prydonian privileges were revoked when I stole a time capsule and ran away. I'm currently piloting a Type Forty TARDIS, I've been married four time, all deceased. My children and grandchildren are all missing, I presume dead. I have a non-Gallifreyan daughter created by a genetic transfer ... My names isn't Doctor, is it? I don't really have a doctorate. Well, Glasgow University and I accidentally graduated in the wrong century so, technically ...'
Continuity: Some questions remain only partially answered. Some are fixed. Was Missy the woman in the shop who gave Clara the TARDIS's telephone number (The Bells Of St John)? Yes, she was. And, did she place 'The Impossible Girl' advert in The Times (Deep Breath)? Yes, he did. But, there are some answers that we have to search a bit harder for. Like, why did Missy say 'my Clara' (Into The Dalek)? No answer on that. How did The Master escape from Gallifrey (The End Of Time)? Nope. Was it anything to do with the events of The Day Of The Doctor? Possibly. Is the search for Gallifrey still on-going (The Time Of The Doctor)? After The doctor's disppointment here, we wouldn't be surprised if the answer to that is no. But, there are references and allusions to, in no particular order, The Daemons ('I had a friend once, we ran together when we were little. I thought we were the same. When we grew up we weren't'), The Seeds Of Death ('I'm a target of strategic value'), Dalek ('you are a good Dalek'), Let's Kill Hitler ('Ask anyone who knows me, I am an incredible liar'), Flatline ('I'm The Doctor'), The Poison SkyThe Eleventh Hour ('bow-ties are cool'), The Invasion ('you left this behind on one of your previous attempts!'), Spearhead From Space ('So now that I have your attention, welcome to the only planet in the universe what we get to say this; He's on the payroll' 'Am I?' 'Well, technically.' 'How much?' And: 'Do you think your father would have done this?' 'We both know he absolutely would'), the 1996 Doctor Who movie (the scene in the mortuary), The Day Of The Doctor (the TARDIS on a crane), An Unearthly Child ('You won't just steal the TARDIS and run away?'), The Pyramids Of Mars (Kasterborous), The Moonbase (The Doctor's doctorate at Glasgow University), The Sound Of Drums (The Valiant and 'we have files on all of our previous Prime Ministers, she wasn't even the worst!'), Logopolis ('remember all those years when all you wanted to do was rule the world?'), The Doctor's Daughter (the reference to Jenny), The Trial Of A Time Lord (the hand emerging from the grave), Time Crash ('Belgium!'), The Caretaker ('this is the blood-soaked old general in action'), Into The Dalek ('am I a good man?'), Doomsday ('it's only powerful enough for one trip') and Robot Of Sherwood ('I'm not a hero').
'Never trust a hug, it's just a way to hide your face.' The dialogue, in case you needed to be told, is wonderful. So, we had: 'You can't kill me.' 'Incorrect.' And: 'Photos with the big metal men. One pound!' And: 'Kate Stewart. Divorcee. Mother-of-two. Keen gardener. Outstanding bridge player!' And: 'Everyone in London just clapped and went "weeee"!' And: 'Guard the graveyards.' Moffat clearly had some lines he'd been saving up for a special occasion. Like: 'Cloudbase?' 'You mean The Valiant. Cloudbase was Thunderbirds.' '... It was Captain Scarlet, not Thunderbirds'. 'Oh God, so it was!' 'My confidence is growing every minute. Mind you, me and Sylvia Anderson, you've never seen a foxtrot like it!' And: 'We don't want an American running around here, they'll only start praying.' And: 'Who is she?' 'You'd never believe me.' 'Because, I thought she might be The Master, regenerated into a female form.Your childhood friend responsible for a number of previous incursions.' 'That was very quick!' And: 'That's your answer for everything, isn't it? Vote for an idiot.' 'If you say so, Mister President.' And: 'I'm going to kill you in a minute.' And: 'Throw away your guns, man-scout, it's all over. How can you defeat an enemy that can weponise the dead?' And: 'Turns out the afterlife is real. And, it's emptying.' And: 'Stop mucking about, come closer, you don't smell anywhere near as bad as you think you do.' And: 'I'm accelerating for dramatic effect.' And: 'I don't like being President, people keep saluting, I'm never going to salute back!' And: 'Have you got any more friends I can play with?' And: 'Danny Pink is dead. Help me.' And: 'This a perfect, the control freak and the man who can't be controlled.' And: 'What kind of way to die is that? The man has no finesse!' And: 'I wasn't very good at it, but I did love you.' And: 'All of this just to give me an army? ... Well, I don't need one, do I? Armies are for people who think they're right.' And: 'Conquer the universe, Mister President. Show a bad girl how it's done!' And, The Doctor's magnificent 'I am an idiot' speech. And Cyber-Danny's very human moment. And: 'You win.' 'I know.' And: 'Yeah, Queen. That would be good too.'
'Just do it, Doctor, do as you're told.' Death In Heaven, then, is a properly excellent episode; breathless, thrilling, deeply concerned drama. And the fact that it will have completely ruined a few people's Saturday night is an added bonus. A major theme this year has been lying and this reaches an apex in this episode, with two very significant lies being told towards the end by Clara ad The Doctor over Danny and Gallifrey respectively. And for once, the audience understands perfectly why they're told. This blogger was somewhat baffled by a handful of posts on Facebok which took right proper frothy and discombobulated umbrage at the Brigadier-Cyberman subplot and described it as 'disrespectful' - whether that was to the character or to the late Nick Courtney the actor who played the character, this blogger isn't entirely sure. And, to be honest, he's not sure if those making this complaint are sure either as this seems to be an almost textbook example of professional offence-takers looking for something to be offended by. One person, for instance, described this as The Brigadier's corpse being 'violated', which it was. And then, he used that violation and the second life he'd been, unwillingly, given to save the daughter he loved before, we presume, flying off to the stars like The Green Lantern to carry on the work that he and The Doctor had spent a lifetime doing. What exactly, is the problem with that? It's not disrespectful, dear blog reader, it's beautiful. You may used graphs if necessary in attempting to answer this curious conundrum. That The Brigadier should appear at what The Doctor describes a 'my darkest hour' is, entirely, in-keeping with forty odd years of established continuity. The Doctor's salute was the final cherry on the magnificence cake. And Death In Heaven's bottom line? Dark, brooding and brilliant, this blogger thought it was great, dear blog reader. Yeah, yeah, I know, I always say that. And, there's a reason for that. It's because it's almost always true. 'Thank you for making me feel special.' Is it nearly Christmas yet?
BBC Worldwide has confirmed that material in the Doctor Who episode Dark Water has seen the series eight DVD and Blu-ray set reclassified by the British Board of Film Classification. As a result, the set will now be released on Monday 24 November - one week later than planned. A BBC Worldwide spokesperson said: 'On Friday 31 October, the British Board of Film Classification classified episode eleven - Dark Water - with a twelve rating. This necessitated a reprint of the DVD cover so that the correct rating could be reflected, thereby delaying the on-sale date by one week.' The twelve rating for the series eight set is in line with previous Doctor Who home media releases. The first, second, fourth, sixth and seventh series received the same classification from the BBFC, with only the popular long-running family SF drama's third and fifth runs being rated 'PG'.
Meanwhile, heart-warmingly, a special video message has been sent from yer actual Peter Capaldi his very self to a grieving grandson, one Thomas Goodall who wrote to Peter after the recent death of his beloved grandmother. Thomas's father, Ross, shared the actor's kind words via YouTube, saying: 'A lovely message from Peter Capaldi to my nine-year-old autistic son. This arrived just before Thomas' nanny's funeral and helped him to deal with his grief in a profound way. Thank you Peter so much.' Peter Capaldi, dear blog reader. Top bloke.

The Apprentice climbed back in the overnight ratings on Wednesday. Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie's latest firing reclaimed over two hundred thousand viewers from the previous week, attracting 6.16 million on average at 9pm on BBC1. The Apprentice: You're Fired gathered 2.27m at 10pm on BBC2. Earlier on BBC1, The Passing Bells continued with 2.90m at 7pm. BBC2's Great Interior Design Challenge appealed to 1.57m at 7pm, followed by MasterChef: The Professionals with 2.46m at 8pm and The Great Continental Railway with 2.18m at 9pm. On ITV, Surprise, Surprise was watched by 3.11m at 8pm. The first part of the Broadmoor documentary fascinated 2.48m at 9pm. Channel Four's Supervet brought in 1.42m at 8pm, followed by Grand Designs with 1.21m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Gibraltar: Britain In The Sun gathered 1.02m at 8pm, while Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away interested 1.33m at 9pm. Wentworth continued with six hundred and one thousand at 10pm.

Paul O'Grady's For the Love Of Dogs topped Thursday's overnight ratings once again. The ITV show brought in 4.32 million viewers at 8.30pm. The Great Fire concluded with 2.10m viewers at 9pm. On BBC1, The Passing Bells was seen by 3.15m at 7pm, while Watchdog brought in 3.75m at 8pm. Life Story with David Attenborough interested 3.77m at 9pm. BBC2's Great Interior Design Challenge attracted 1.70m at 7pm, followed by MasterChef: The Professionals with 2.29m at 8pm. Peaky Blinders climaxed with 1.54m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Amazing Spaces intrigued 1.44m at 8pm. Twenty Four Hours In A&E brought in 2.02m at 9pm. Channel Five's Underground Britain appealed to eight hundred and sixty thousand at 8pm, followed by Undercover Benefits Cheat with 1.41m at 9pm and the first episode of the three-part documentary When Fred Met Rose with eight hundred and fifty two thousand at 10pm. On BBC4, Detectorists concluded its first series with five hundred and eighty two thousand at 10pm. E4's The Big Bang Theory amused 1.53m at 8.30pm. Sky1's Arrow continued with three hundred and seven thousand at 8pm.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD enjoyed an overnight ratings boost on Friday, as a million punters tuned in to watch the third episode. The latest episode improved on last week's viewing figures of eight hundred and forty thousand, playing to a peak audience of 1.14 million from 8pm. Gogglebox continued to do well for Channel Four, with 2.7 million at 9pm. It was followed by 1.49 million for Alan Carr: Chatty Man at 10pm. Have I Got News For You was the highest-rated show of the evening, entertaining 4.42 million at 9pm on BBC1. It was followed by 3.81 million for Not Going Out at 9.30pm, while The Graham Norton Show ended the evening with 3.5 million at 10.35pm. Elsewhere, The Passing Bells kicked off BBC1's evening with 2.89 million, followed by 2.71 million for The ONE Show at 7.30pm. The second episode of Citizen Khan was seen by 3.05 million at 8.30pm. Lewis was ITV's most popular show outside of soaps, bringing in an audience of 4.26 million at 9pm. Secrets From The Sky drew 2.73 million at 8pm. BBC2's schedule was dominated by live FA Cup football. The match in which non-league Warrington Town beat Exeter City 1-0 was seen by 1.75 million from 7.30 to 10pm. On Channel Five, Rome: The World's First Superpower was seen by seven hundred and sixty three thousand at 8pm, followed by seven hundred and eighty six thousand for Alex Polizzi's Secret Italy and six hundred and forty eight thousand for Body Of Proof at 10pm.

TV comedy line of the week came from Friday's Qi and the always wonderful Bill Bailey who noted that the phrase 'the birds and the bees' is 'not fit for purpose. The birds, yeah, just about. [But], the bees ... No. We're gonna be sexless lackeys for a monstrous Sugar Giant!' Closely followed by his cunning impression of Simon Bates on Our Tune: '... And she did battle through the cancer. So, here's 'Too Drunk To Fuck' by the Dead Kennedys!'
Peaky Blinders will return for a third series. The acclaimed BBC2 historical drama, based on the exploits of the notorious Midlands gang of the same name, will return to UK screens in 2015. The series two finale of Peaky Blinders, starring Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy and Helen McCrory, was broadcast on Thursday of this week and was followed by a continuity announcer announcing that the show would be 'returning' to the channel. The BBC later formally confirmed that the Steven Knight-penned period drama had been renewed. Earlier this year, Knight revealed that he had already mentally prepared several ways for the Shelby family's saga to end. 'I've got an ending where [Cillian Murphy's character] is Sir Thomas Shelby, and it's the start of the Second World War,' he said. 'The first siren goes off and that's it. What I'm trying to do with the whole thing is look at someone from his background: Can he get out and escape?'
ABC won’t take another Selfie. The network has ruled out buying any more episodes of the comedy series beyond its initial order of thirteen. It is unclear at this time how many of the remaining episodes will be broadcast. ABC say that the comedy will be shown next Tuesday, but the show's fate beyond that is uncertain. Last month ABC axed Selfie's even lower-rated time-slot companion Manhattan Love Story, yet kept Selfie around for a little while longer to see how it would perform on its own. ABC tried broadcasting back-to-back episodes this week, but the sitcom edged lower still in the numbers. A social media-savvy comedy which was mocked heavily by viewers on social media, Selfie was Entertainment Weekly's readers' choice for the show most likely to be first cancelled during the fall. From the one episode he saw, yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought it was about as funny as a rash on the knob. The alleged comedy starred yer actual Karen Gillan and John Cho his very self.
Lawyers for the so-called 'fake sheikh' journalist, Mazher Mahmood, have pure dead failed to win a high-court injunction preventing a documentary from revealing his appearance. A Panorama programme examining the disgraceful methods of the undercover investigative journalist is due to be shown on BBC1 on Monday night. After a day-long hearing in London on Friday, the judge refused the injunction, which would have prevented the broadcasting of any images of Mahmood taken since 5 April 2006 and not already in the public domain. Sir David Eady said that he 'did not accept' Mahmood's claims that his family's safety would be put at risk if his identity became widely known and that the court had 'no reason' to restrict the BBC's right to freedom of speech or editorial discretion. Adam Speker, Mahmood's barrister, whinged that his client was 'considering an appeal.' The BBC's representative, Manuel Barca QC, said that if Mahmood did appeal, no recent images of him would be broadcast in trailers for the programme until 6pm on Monday, giving time for the case to be heard. The methods used by Mahmood, who spent most of his career at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, were thrown in the spotlight after the drug trial of Tulisa Contostavlos collapsed when a judge accused Mahmood of lying and being a lying liar. The hearing heard that the Attorney General had asked the BBC to 'consider delaying' the programme whilst it was decided whether Mahmood was going to be extremely charged with any offence. Jeremy Wright, the chief legal adviser of the crown and its government in England and Wales, made the request in a letter on 3 November to Meirion Jones, the producer of Panorama, on behalf of the Attorney General. In the letter, produced during the hearing, Wright asked if Jones and the BBC 'would consider delaying the decision to broadcast the programme until such a time as a decision whether or not to charge Mr Mahmood has been made.' The correspondence read out in court said that 'the Attorney General recognises that as Mr Mahmood has not been arrested, the provisions of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 do not apply.' But, Wright went on: 'I do ask you to consider whether it's in the public interest for the BBC to broadcast a programme at this time. The proposed broadcast may have the potential to prejudice any trial, should Mr Mahmood be charged. Should there be a trial, it would almost certainly form the basis of, or support, an abuse of process argument by the defence. Thereby potentially undermining the ability of the crown to progress to trial.' The irony of the use of the phrase /in the public interest' which has been Mahmood's defence for just about every sting he and his employers have pulled over the years is, one trusts, lost on no one. The Attorney General intervened after an approach by Mahmood's legal team. Eady said that while the Attorney General was 'entitled to point out the problem that might arise if he's prosecuted, it's not grounds for the injunction as such.' The programme, which has already been delayed once, includes interviews with Mahmood's targets, and the men who helped him expose them. Dismissing the Contostavlos case in July, Judge Alistair McCreath said that there were strong grounds to believe Mahmood 'told me lies' and had been 'manipulating the evidence.' Mahmood claims to have helped secure more than ninety criminal convictions in a career spanning thirty years. Speker told the hearing the journalist was not seeking an injunction to prevent the screening its investigation on Monday, but was fighting to not have his appearance broadcast. In a witness statement, Mahmood said that he was so concerned about his safety and that of his family should his identity become known that he often changed his appearance, lived in secure accommodation behind a steel door, and had twenty four-hour surveillance and a direct line to the police. His neighbours were unaware of his real identity, he said. Defending the BBC's right to screen Panorama, however, Barca said Mahmood's concerns were not for his family's safety but for 'the protection of his shelf life of his professional stock-in-trade as a tabloid reporter who is famous for the fake sheikh and, in particular, adopting disguises to land his quarry.' Barca pointed to Confessions Of A Fake Sheikh, a 2008 book by Mahmood in which numerous photographs of him appeared, with just a black strip over his eyes to conceal his identity. Barca also pointed out that to publicise the book, Mahmood appeared on The Andrew Marr Show, filmed from behind but with close-ups of his mouth and no concealment of his voice. Eady said: 'I would be prepared to grant an injunction if clear evidence of a risk of violence or risk to the claimant or his family by the release by the BBC of images, in addition to those images already in the public domain, had been made.' But, he said, the 'heavy burden' on Mahmood to prove the existence of that risk had not been met.
A former news editor at the Scum of the World has been extremely sentenced to eight months in prison after he pleaded very guilty to plotting to hack the phones of public figures, sports stars and celebrities. Ian Edmondson was jailed at the Old Bailey after admitting conspiring to intercept voicemail messages over a six-year period. He pleaded guilty in October – sixteen months after he initially pleaded not guilty ahead of the phone-hacking trial. The trial judge, Mr Justice Saunders, said 'the list of victims of hacking with whom Edmondson was involved included celebrities, politicians and one person who was famous because of his links with the royal family. Taken together they amount to a substantial invasion of privacy which has caused distress to many people, the majority of whom cannot be accused of courting publicity.' Speaking in attempted mitigation earlier, Edmondson's barrister, Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC, claimed that his personal and professional life has been left 'in tatters' in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. And, the public are supposed to, what, feel sorry for him? The former news editor was one of the original eight defendants at the Old Bailey but, for health reasons, was deemed unfit to continue on the twenty ninth day of proceedings. He is the fourth ex-Scum of the World employee to be imprisoned over phone-hacking and the eighth to be convicted or plead guilty to the crime. In June, Andy Coulson – the former Scum of the World editor and former press adviser (and, if you will, 'chum') to David Cameron – was extremely jailed for eighteen months, while former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck was jailed for six months, and former news editor Greg Miskiw also for six months. The jury heard that Edmondson was one of four news editors for whom convicted hacker Glenn Mulcaire worked. At the heart of the prosecution case against Edmondson were three e-mails unearthed by News International in January 2011. The e-mails, sent to Edmondson by Mulcaire in April 2006, suggested that the private investigator had been tasked to intercept the voicemails of former culture secretary Tessa Jowell, Lord Prescott and Lord Freddie Windsor. In the e-mails Mulcaire also sent Edmondson each of the targets' mobile numbers, mailbox numbers and pin numbers – evidence, the prosecution alleged, that Edmondson was able to hack the phones himself. The e-mails suggested that phone-hacking had not been confined to the royal editor, Clive Goodman, the man painted by News International as a lone 'rogue reporter' – and their significance was 'not lost' on the Metropolitan police. Within hours of Scotland Yard receiving the material from News International on 26 January 2011, the force began a fresh investigation into phone-hacking, codenamed Operation Weeting. Edmondson had been sacked by the company days earlier, having been initially suspended in December 2010. As well as Prescott, Jowell and Windsor, the phone-hacking trial heard that Edmondson asked Mulcaire to investigate celebrities including the actress Sienna Miller, her friend Archie Keswick and her former boyfriend Jude Law, and ex-footballer George Best's son, Callum. The jury also heard about Edmondson's involvement in hacking the phones of rival journalists on the Scum Mail on Sunday to discover what they knew about Prescott's affair with his diary secretary, Tracey Temple. Jurors were told that after the paper hacked Temple and her ex-husband without any results, Edmondson obtained a number for Joan Hammell, Prescott's special adviser, and passed that on to Mulcaire. The hacker went on to obtain Temple's pin number and listened to forty five messages. He then e-mailed Edmondson, telling him: 'This is how you can hack the phone so that you too can hear them,' according to e-mails disclosed during the trial. The court also heard for the first time a tape recording of a conversation between Edmondson and a Scum of the World colleague. The tape was undated but it was evident the conversation took place following the arrest of Goodman in 2006 on suspicion of phone-hacking. The colleague said: 'But you know what the vital difference is you haven't done anything yourself or from your number. That is not what Clive's caught on, he's fucking done it himself.' Edmondson replied: 'Yeah – I've done it myself.' Banged, as they say, to rights. Other evidence showed that Edmondson was sent voicemail transcripts of the former Professional Footballers Association chief executive Gordon Taylor, on which Thurlbeck had written: 'This is a splash.' Edmondson joined the Scum of the World in November 1996 as a reporter, before being promoted to crime correspondent three years later. In February 2000, he joined the rival Sunday People but returned to the Scum of the World in November 2004, taking up the post of associate news editor. A year later he was promoted to news editor and in 2008 he was appointed assistant editor.

Two former editors of the Sun, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and Dominic Mohan, were responsible for 'signing off' requests for cash payments to confidential sources, a jury has been told claimed. The allegation was heard during the trial of six Sun journalists accused of making illegal and naughty payments to public officials, at Kingston Crown Court. The six men all deny conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office. The court also heard that Scotland Yard had deployed more than twice as many officers and staff to investigate journalists over illegal payment claims than it had on its murder team. More than one hundred suspects have been investigated as part of the Met's Operation Elveden investigation, the court was also told. Prosecutors allege the men conspired to pay officials from 2002 to 2011, including police, prison officers and soldiers, for confidential information about the Royal Family, celebrities and prison inmates. The court has previously been told they made illegal payments on 'a grand scale.' The jury was shown an e-mail sent in 2006 to a number of journalists by Graham Dudman one of the accused, in which he said: 'No cash payments will be made without Rebekah's written approval.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was the Sun editor between 2003 and 2009. The court was also shown authorisations for payments signed by Mohan, who was editor between 2009 and 2013 which, the jury heard, had 'surfaced recently.' Retired detective superintendent Mark Kandiah, who was senior investigating editor on Operation Elveden after previously serving as a senior murder detective, was asked if it was the biggest inquiry ever conducted by Scotland Yard. The officer said he could not confirm this, but told the jury: 'Certainly there were more than seventy officers or police staff at its highest point - more than twice than what I had on my murder team.' The jury also heard that News Corp had handed documents relating to the Scum of the World and the Sun voluntarily to police through its management standards committee in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal in 2011. Asked if they were 'shopping' their own staff, Kandiah responded: 'Those are your own words.' The former detective was asked by the lead prosecutor, Peter Wright QC, whether police did any of their own investigation. Kandish said that Operation Elveden carried out electronic searches of News International and police databases, requested financial information and accessed company telephone data. The court also heard that at a meeting with police in 2012, News Corporation lawyer Gerson Zweifach was worried the investigation into alleged payments could expand to cover the company as a corporate body. He said: 'This could kill the company and put forty six thousand jobs at risk.' Meanwhile, it was revealed that three million e-mails at News International are alleged to be missing after well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks changed the company’s e-mail deletion policy. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks ordered the change in June 2010, which resulted in a large quantity of e-mails being deleted, including those 'covering her entire period as editor of the Sun.' The issue of missing e-mails emerged as the prosecution completed its case. Oliver Glasgow, prosecuting, read out details of the e-mail deletion as 'an agreed fact' between parties at the trial. He told the jury it had resulted in 'a significant loss' of e-mails. 'Three million are missing,' he said. Some had been recovered from back-ups made by independent contractors 'including evidence in this trial.' Earlier, the jury was told that one journalist had used the phrase 'senior police source' to dress up stories and aggrandise himself in the eyes of his bosses and readers. Jamie Pyatt, told police he had never paid police officers and that the phrase 'senior police source' was 'just a euphemism.' In a police interview made under caution and read to the court, Pyatt, the Sun's Thames Valley reporter for twenty five years, told officers: 'Everybody uses it to make it look like they have got somebody on the inside track. We are trying to make ourselves look as if we are so inside the story so the reader thinks, "Oh he's done well." The phrase was to "dress it up", to make [the story] look a lot stronger than what you have got.' Asked by police to describe the term 'police contact', Pyatt said it was 'a very, very wide' term, and could apply to the girlfriend or wife of a police officer. It was 'a catch-all phrase' used for 'bigging yourself up a little bit' and also helped to 'get your expenses through', he said. On paying cash to tipsters, he told police: 'It's cash payments. That's the reason why they call us.' He didn't need to know the recipient's full details, he told officers. Over twenty five years at the Sun, he was respected, worked his Thames Valley patch well, and there wasn't 'a barman or barmaid in Windsor' who did not know him. People rang the news desk offering stories, the news desk agreed a fee if it checked out and his job was to pursue the lead and then, if it made the paper, to pay them what they had been promised, he claimed. The Sun did not pay for everything, only exclusives. 'If it is just people talking, no. We don't wander round with a sackful of cash like Father Christmas.' Pyatt told officers that after the death of the Princess of Wales, the paper had devoted elven pages to the story every day for a month. 'It saved us a fortune because we didn't have to pay for stories.' Strict new guidelines on payments introduced at the Sun had made it 'a lot harder to get stories', he said in the interview. In a later interview, he read from a prepared statement which said: 'All payments to sources were required to be sanctioned by my superiors and ultimately signed off at management or editorial level.' He told officers that he felt 'a little bit disappointed and let down' by the News International investigation that led to his arrest. 'At the end of the day, I just do as I'm told,' he claimed. He said of Sun staff: 'We feel we are being investigated and we have not done anything wrong.' Pyatt; Dudham, Chris Pharo, the Sun's head of news, Ben O'Driscoll, a former deputy news editor, John Edwards, picture editor and John Troup, a reporter, all deny conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. The trial extremely continues.

A former Scum of the World journalist has been found very guilty of paying a prison officer for details about the life behind bars of Jon Venables, one of the killers of James Bulger. The journalist, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted of conspiring with the prison officer, Scott Chapman, and his then wife, Lynn Gaffney, to commit misconduct in public office. A fourth defendant, Daily Lies Sunday journalist Tom Savage, was cleared of the same charge by the Old Bailey jury. The verdicts were returned on Wednesday but could only be reported on Friday after the judge, Charles Wide QC, lifted interim reporting restrictions. The four-week trial heard that Chapman made about forty grand selling stories to tabloid newspapers, with some payments channelled into Gaffney's bank account. It was told that Chapman and Gaffney 'grossly abused public trust' and were motivated by 'plain, naked greed' in selling information about Venables after he was returned to prison in 2010 on charges connected to indecent images of children. Opening the prosecution case, Jonathan Rees QC said that Chapman first sold stories to the Sun, sending a picture of his prison ID to a reporter to prove who he was. Notes were read out in court from the reporter, who was not on trial. They were written during 'chats' with Chapman in which the prison officer described Venables' time in jail, saying that Venables had a personal shower, a thirty six inch TV and sole use of a large former staff room. A string of subsequent stories provided by Chapman to the Sun and other papers painted a similar picture. The prosecutor said: 'The agenda or slant seemed to be, he's getting it far too easy; it's far too cushy for him in jail.' Venables was ten when he was jailed in 1993 along with Robert Thompson for murdering two-year-old James. He was released on licence in 2001 but returned to jail for possessing indecent images of children, serving time in an isolation wing. The Scum of the World journalist defended the stories as being 'in the public interest', claiming that the paper was told Venables had been 'given special access' to board games and a personal trainer. Giving evidence, the journalist claimed: 'He had been taken in by the prison service, given millions of pounds for a new identity and then repeat-offended, and the prison service deal with it by making his life as comfortable as possible. Public interest. What sort of message are they sending out to him that it's okay to look at two-year-olds being raped?' But prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC questioned whether such stories were, really, in the public interest, describing them as 'drivel' and 'tittle tattle.' Giving his evidence, Savage claimed that he did not know Chapman, who he knew only as Adam, was a prison officer, but that if he had known it would not have mattered 'in the slightest.' Chapman said that he had sold the stories because of his 'concern' at the 'complete injustice' of what he saw as Venables' 'preferential treatment' in prison and that the money was 'welcome' but was a secondary concern. 'The overall total sounds staggering,' Chapman told the court, 'I'm human. It shocked me. Money they were chucking at me – two thousand five hundred pounds for a five-minute conversation.' The case was launched as part of Operation Elveden, the Metropolitan police investigation into allegations of inappropriate payments to police and public officials. Detective Chief Superintendent Gordon Briggs from the Met said that Chapman had 'abused his position of trust as a prison officer to sell confidential information to journalists for private gain.' Briggs said: 'Lynn Gaffney aided and abetted Chapman by acting as a conduit to accept payments from the journalist on his behalf in an attempt to cover their tracks. A journalist from the News of the World, who cannot be named for legal reasons, knew that Chapman was a prison officer and knew he was breaking the law by leaking confidential information for money and conspired with him in that criminality. Scott Chapman and Lynn Gaffney were motivated primarily by financial gain; the journalists exploited that to their own advantage without lawful justification. The investigations launched under Operation Elveden are not about attacking press freedom or from preventing information that is in the public interest from being published. The police are not here to act as censors. However, where criminality has been alleged it is right and important that the police conduct thorough investigations and that the evidence is put before a court.' The prosecution case against the former Scum of the World journalist centred on two key e-mails and picture messages allegedly sent to the journalist by Chapman. The pictures, sent to the journalist's work BlackBerry minutes after Chapman had a thirty-minute conversation with the newspaper, allegedly showed his prison security pass and a wage slip, confirming that he was a prison officer. Giving evidence, the journalist repeatedly denied ever receiving the images, despite conceding that it was 'common' to ask anonymous tipsters to provide some proof of their identity. 'I was dealing with an anonymous source. He's a prison tipster – why would I automatically start grilling him about being a prison officer? I may well have asked him, but if he told me he was a prison officer I would've let the desk know,' the journalist is reported to have said. Chapman insisted that it was 'common practice' for him to tell journalists he was a prison officer even though he wanted to remain anonymous. Both Savage and the former Scum of the World reporter told jurors they had not been able to work in journalism since their arrests. Savage, who received a character reference from, among others, the online Popbitch magazine founder Camilla Wright, has since his arrest helped his twin sister to run a bookshop in Wales. Judge Charles Wide warned Chapman that he should expect his jail term to be counted 'in years rather than months.' He also told the reporter he was conscious the conviction was on the basis of two stories sold by Chapman, but warned the journalist to be 'under no illusions' about the sorry fate that awaited him. Sentencing will take place at a later date.

A former Sunday Mirra journalist has pleaded very guilty to intercepting voicemail messages in 2001. The paper's former investigations editor, Graham Johnson, is the first Mirra Group Newspapers journalist to admit to phone-hacking. Westminster Magistrates' Court heard that Johnson, who will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on 27 November, voluntarily contacted police in 2013. He worked at the Sunday Mirra between 1997 and 2005. A spokesman for Trinity Mirra said that the company would not be making a comment on Johnson's conviction. Which is odd because they had plenty to say for themselves previous when claiming that none - not one - of their journalists had ever done none of that-there phone-hacking, no siree Bob. Johnson came forward in March 2013 after hacking a phone to investigate whether a soap actor was having an affair with a gangster in autumn 2001. The court heard that he had been 'shown by a senior person in a supervisory capacity how to access voicemails' and that he was not aware that it was a crime at the time. He listened to between ten and thirteen messages a day for a period of up to seven days, the court was told. He confessed to 'a short and intense' period of hacking lasting three to seven days. Granting unconditional bail, District Judge Quentin Purdy praised the forty six-year-old for admitting his crime. He said: 'Great credit comes your way for pleading guilty today and even more so for literally turning yourself in and voluntarily throwing yourself at the mercy of the system. However it was a grave intrusion into other people's business, indeed the history of recent years has shown how serious this kind of intrusion can be.' Johnson previously worked at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World from 1995 to 1997 and has had work published by others including the Gruniad Morning Star and BBC Panorama. He has also written eight non-fiction books and two novels. In September, Trinity Mirra finally - after years of denials - admitted for the first time that 'some' of its journalists were involved in phone-hacking. Former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson, Shane Richie and Christopher Eccleston are among those to have received compensation from the newspaper group. Trinity Mirra publishes titles including the Daily Mirra, Sunday Mirra and the Sunday People.

Actor Tom Ellis has accepted substantial damages over false claims in the Sunday Mirra about child maintenance payments for his two daughters. He also received a public apology at the High Court in London over the allegation that he had failed to pay the money to his ex-wife, Tamzin Outhwaite. Ellis's solicitor, Leo Dawkins, told Mr Justice Edis that the action against MGN Ltd, the Trinity Mirra division which publishes the Sunday Mirra, was for defamation and misuse of private information. The claim arose out of an article published in July, entitled: Tamzin Outhwaite and ex-husband Tom Ellis in bitter battle over child support payments. It claimed that Ellis had 'shirked his responsibility' to pay child maintenance by claiming he was 'too cash strapped' to do so, and, said Dawkins, 'that this had forced his ex-wife to threaten him with lawyers to ensure that he met his obligations as a father. His distress was compounded by the fact that, as is obvious, the financial arrangements regarding his children are private. As the defendant has now admitted, there was also no truth in the story. There had been no such row between my client and his ex-wife, bitter or otherwise. Whilst details of the childcare arrangements are, as I say, private, Mr Ellis has in fact never failed to pay his share of child maintenance, nor has he ever claimed that he could not afford to do so.' MGN accepted that the allegations it made were a right load of crap, had agreed not to repeat them and to pay 'substantial damages as well as legal costs.' Gervase de Wilde, counsel for MGN, told the judge: 'The defendant hereby apologises to Mr Ellis for the publication of the article complained of and is pleased to have this ability to set the record straight.'

Former celebrity publicist and convicted sex offender and right terrible bad'un Max Clifford has had an appeal against his eight-year jail sentence rejected by the Court of Appeal. Three judges ruled that the sentence was justified and correct. And, deserved. Clifford's lawyer had argued that the length of the jail term imposed was 'unfair' and insisted his client was 'not a danger to women.' Clifford was extremely convicted in April of eight historical indecent assaults on women and on girls as young as fifteen. He was the first person to be convicted under Operation Yewtree, the investigation set up by the Metropolitan Police in the wake of the posthumous allegations made against the disgraceful old scallywag and right rotten rotter Jimmy Savile. Lord Justice Treacy, who heard the appeal case with Mr Justice Turner and Judge Michael Pert, said the length of the Clifford's prison term was 'just and proportionate.' The judge added: 'It seems to us that, after consideration of the individual offences and the application of modern sentencing attitudes reflected in the guidelines, but tempered by the need to have regard to the statutory maximum available at the time, an overall sentence of eight years was justified and correct.'

Yer actual Gillian Anderson and The Simpsons' Harry Shearer will explore some of life's biggest ideas from philosophers including Plato in animated YouTube videos to accompany a Melvyn Bragg series on BBC Radio 4. Anderson, about to return to BBC2 in a second series of the serial killer thriller The Fall, and Shearer each voice twelve animated takes on philosophical conundrums, such as free will, beauty and what it means to live a good life, as a digital spin-off from the sixty-part series, A History Of Ideas. Shearer, the voice of Mr Burns among others in The Simpsons, offers an unusual take on Diotima's ladder of love, as featured in Plato's dialogue The Symposium, in a ninty-second episode featuring unexpected references to Uncle Monty from Withnail and I. The animations – forty eight of them in all, scripted by philosopher and writer Nigel Warburton – will be distributed via Radio 4's Twitter account, Facebook page and YouTube channel. BBC executives are hoping they will become viral hits and reach out beyond the station’s traditional radio audience, helped by having two familiar voices on board. Another two people, yet to be announced, will be recruited to voice the other online episodes. Mohit Bakaya, the Radio 4 commissioning executive responsible for the series, said that it was one of a series of pop cultural references in the animations intended to open up often complex ideas to a bigger audience. Another animation voiced by Shearer, about free will, features God unintentionally causing a flood with a giant teapot after getting distracted by listening to The Archers omnibus. 'We are aware that Radio 4, if it is to keep on thriving, has to find new ways of reaching a wider audience and finding those people who might be interested in exactly the kind of stuff we do but don't necessarily know we exist,' said Bakaya. 'Research shows that we can understand things more clearly if there are visual accompaniments. We want to explore ways in which Radio 4 can supplement what we do on air and not just putting a camera in a studio, as some of the other networks have done.' Each week, a different theme will be tackled in the show, which is described as taking a 'very Twenty First-Century approach to an ancient set of questions', exploring ideas from philosophers including Thomas Hobbes and Immanuel Kant. A History Of Ideas launches on Radio 4 on Monday, with philosopher Angie Hobbes exploring the question 'what does it mean to be free?' By coincidence, both Shearer and Anderson were working in the theatre in London when they were approached to take part, Shearer in Daytona, Anderson in A Streetcar Named Desire. Bakaya, Radio 4's commissioning editor for specialist factual, said: 'What was interesting was they both bit our hand off. They liked the public service aspect of it, and it didn't take a huge amount of time to do. Harry, with his experience with The Simpsons, we thought would be a voice who would know how to deliver something like this, and Gillian Anderson has a brilliant voice. It was about trying to find people who spoke to a Radio 4 audience, and beyond that.' The series was co-produced by Radio 4 in conjunction with the Open University, with the online videos made by animation firm, Cognitive.

BBC News At Ten assistant editor Camilla Mankabady has quit to join ITV just days after education editor Penny Marshall announced she was also returning to the rival broadcaster. Mankabady, who previously worked on the One O'Clock News and Six O'Clock News bulletins, is to move into the role of programme editor at ITV News. Confirming the resignation, a BBC News spokeswomen said: 'Obviously, we wish Camilla well for the future.' She said that she was ready for a new challenge after fourteen years at the BBC. 'I have worked with some of the brightest and best colleagues in the industry at the BBC and am immensely proud of the output we have produced together,' she added. Her decision to go follows Marshall's resignation earlier this week, partly on health grounds. She had delayed starting her BBC job as she was receiving treatment for breast cancer.

Radio 4 will broadcast five newly recorded episodes of Hancock's Half Hour to coincide with the classic sitcom's sixtieth anniversary on Sunday, with Kevin McNally in the role of the lad himself. The episodes are among twenty which are missing from the BBC's radio archives and have not been heard since their original transmission on the Light Programme nearly sixty years ago. Some of the original scripts survive, however, and these ended up in the hands of the actor Neil Pearson, who is also a noted antiquarian book dealer. He had the idea of reviving the episodes for the BBC with a talented new cast who could breathe life into the forgotten material. But before embarking on the ambitious project, he asked the original writers, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, to select the episodes which they would like to hear again - and the final five to be broadcast on Radio 4 are their picks. In a clip about remaking the programmes, Pearson discusses his initial fears: 'When you go back to material of this age and you go back with fond memories, you worry. You worry that you are about to be reminded of things that you've forgotten.' But the The Missing Hancocks producer believes he had nothing to worry about, judging the material 'as timeless and as universal and as funny as it ever was'. Giving credit to Galton and Simpson, Pearson says: 'It's absolutely as fresh as the day it was written.' McNally, who is filling Hancock's big shoes, says he's been waiting forty years to play this part - but it's a difficult one: 'You've got to find all of [Hancock's] voices, all of the ways he responded to the scripts.' The result of all that hard work will be heard in The Matador, last broadcast in October 1955 and the first of the five episodes to air. In the programme, Tony uses Sid's travel agency to book a holiday to Spain, little knowing that Sid also runs a bullfighting business. All of the episodes were recorded and performed in front of a live audience at the BBC Radio Theatre, with the classic score newly recorded by the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Odious grumpy greed-bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Adrian Chiles's reported four and a half million smackers earnings last year rank him among the top earners in British broadcasting. Disgusting, isn't it? Industry executives evidently value the ITV football and BBC Radio 5Live presenter's schtick though his attraction is lost on many - this blogger included - judging by the bemused reaction on Twitter to news of his obscene 2013 pay packet last week, as many asked, not always in polite terms, how in the name of all that's holy he could become one of the highest-paid figures on television. Greed-bucket Chiles has, the Gruniad Morning Star claims, 'bounced back' after falling out very publicly with the BBC and, having got her greed right on, switching from The ONE Show along with equally hideous co-presenter The Curiously Orange Christine Bleakley to ITV's hilarious breakfast TV flop Daybreak in 2010. 'He is back on more familiar ground' fronting ITV's - always wretched - Champions League and World Cup coverage and a twice weekly morning show on Radio 5Live, the Gruniad allege, having seemingly repaired his relationship with BBC management once he found out that he wasn't, perhaps, as irreplaceable as he'd though he was back in 2010. 'I think he is a good frontman, although a lot of people say they don’t like him at all,' said Boyd Hilton, TV and reviews editor at Heat magazine. Which proves that Boyd knows eff-all about anything. 'He has this knowledgeable, effortless, blokey, everyman style but he seems to be very divisive.' That's because he's shite, mate. Chiles' obscene 2013 earnings reflect the fact he was in the final twelve months of a four-year contract with ITV, signed when he joined to front football and the fiasco Daybreak and reportedly worth six million knicker. The deal came to an end in April this year. His 2014 pay is likely to be considerably less, with a new ITV contract reportedly worth half-a-million quid annually. Which, to be fair, is still about half-a-million too much, frankly. And, joyously for all concerned, there will be far less ITV football presenting work for greed-bucket, horrorshow (and drag) Chiles from now on, with the FA Cup returning to the BBC this weekend and live Champion's League coverage switching to BT next year. So, that's good.

On Thursday evening dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self attended the first new Record Player event in a month at the Tyneside. It's been on hold of late as poor Uncle Scunthorpe hasn't been feeling very well. Thankfully, now he's a bit better. It was a cracker of a night to come back to, an'all, featuring two of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's very favourite rock and/or roll LPs, Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak versus Mott The Hoople's Greatestest Hits. Proper slammin' so it was and the additional bonus was that yer actual Keith Telly Topping got to hang out with many of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's good Record Player pals for the first time in a good long while. So, for Keith Telly Topping's 33(s) of the Day, here's a top taste of The Liz.
And a splendid slice of yer actual Hot Mott. (To which must be added the necessary question of what the fek has Ariel Bender got on his head in this clip from Germany telly?)

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