Sunday, January 18, 2015

That Pollution Machine

Filming has begun on the ninth series of yer actual Doctor Who with a two-part script by Toby Whithouse his very self. The two-parter will be directed by Daniel O'Hara. As previously announced, Paul Kaye will play a prominent guest role in the two episodes, whilst the additional cast includes Arsher Ali, Morven Christie and Colin McFarlane. 'As a kid of the 1970's, the two shows you always watched were Top Of The Pops and Doctor Who, they were unmissable,' said Kaye. 'I actually wrote a song called 'Looking for Davros' in my first punk band and I sang it like a demented Dalek.' he added. 'I got to present TOTP back in the mid-nineties and landing this role in Doctor Who completes the dream double. Peter is a perfect Doctor and I'm loving every minute of the experience, even the five hours in make-up. What a treat - best fiftieth birthday present ever!' Sophie Stone, Zaqi Ismail, Steven Robertson and Neil Fingleton make up the rest of the cast for the two episodes which are, as yet, unnamed. 'An amazing guest cast for a brilliantly creepy two-parter by Toby Whithouse,' said The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat. 'Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman are back in Cardiff, back in the box and back in action - for one of our scariest adventures yet!' Capaldi added: 'The adventures begin again for myself and Jenna and I'm delighted to be back filming my second series of Doctor Who.'
Doctor Who could be filming in Spain for part of series nine. Director of photography Ali Asad confirmed on Twitter that he was on 'a location recce' in Spain, after announcing his involvement with two episodes of the series earlier this month. He previously wrote: 'I am a huge Doctor Who fan from the age of twelve. It is a dream come true to be asked to shoot a block of series nine. It's going to be fantastic.' Doctor Who has previously filmed in Spain on several occasions as far back as Planet Of Fire in 1984, including series eight episode Kill The Moon which was partly shot on Lanzarote. Matt Smith's Doctor also filmed there twice, for both A Town Called Mercy and Asylum Of The Daleks. The series nine première of Doctor Who is called The Magician's Apprentice and is written by Steven Moffat his very self.
Russell Davies has admitted that working on Doctor Who has discouraged him from ever committing to another multi-series television project. Big Rusty told the Radio Times that he never expected the revived BBC family SF drama to last more than one series when it launched in 2005. 'I thought Doctor Who would last a year and I was going to write the gay men drama after that,' he explained. 'But it just became this huge rollercoaster that made me determined never to do a second series again.'
Big Rusty has also said that he 'fears' for the future of the BBC if a Conservative government wins the 2015 General Election. Which, like as not they're going to, as much due the significant deficiencies of the opposition as anything they, themselves, have done to actually deserve re-election. The former Doctor Who showrunner claimed that the Tory party has created a situation where the licence fee may never be increased and that the Corporation is now under 'genuine threat' of extinction. 'When the Conservatives got in, practically the first visitor David Cameron had was Rupert Murdoch, practically the first thing they did was freeze the licence fee with no consultation whatsoever,' Davies told a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch this week. 'They attacked it immediately. If they win the next election they will do the same thing again. [The BBC] is under constant attack now. We are in a situation where the licence fee will never go up. I cannot imagine a rise being allowed now. And, I genuinely believe in the BBC for its cultural worth. I think it is a magnificent powerhouse and I fear for it. Twenty years ago you couldn't have a conversation where you could see the writing on the wall. Now there are powerful voices ranged against it.' Asked what would happen if the BBC were scrapped he said that 'writers will still write, programmes will still be made even if it's in our bedrooms.' He added: 'Missing the BBC will be like missing the NHS. Everything that arrives in your home will be a commercial product and I don't think that's right.' He said that he has never worked for Sky but wouldn't rule out working for the company, even though it is thirty nine per cent owned by News Corp chairman and billionaire tyrant Murdoch. Russell added: 'Equally, I haven't been beating down their door.' He said that during his five-year tenure working as the Doctor Who showrunner was a 'marvellous' experience. 'I genuinely love the BBC. When I worked at BBC I had a riot of a time. I would never criticise the BBC.'

Meanwhile, the BBC's Director General, Tony Hall, has warned staff that the corporation will face 'naked bullying' and have its independence challenged in the run-up to the general erection and the renewal of its royal charter. Speaking to staff in Central London on Wednesday, Hall said that the corporation was at a moment of 'high risk.' He said: 'There may be some – I hope only a few – who try to use the impending charter review to influence our coverage of politics in this most sensitive of political years. We will never let that happen, because to do so would betray the public and the ideals of the BBC.' Hall said that he accepted the corporation would sometimes 'get things wrong,' adding: 'It's inevitable – and we will reflect and put things right where we have. But we will never confuse justifiable complaints with naked bullying. There will be others who just want to join in a vital debate about public broadcasting with ideas for change and reform. I want them to know that we will listen and learn and reflect on what we hear.' Hall appealed to staff to 'help us make our case' by 'spending every penny of the licence fee as if it were your own' and 'by speaking up for the BBC against those who would bring it down.'

The upcoming special episode of Sherlock has been alluded to by yer actual Mark Gatiss on Twitter. The drama's co-creator and director Douglas Mackinnon have both tweeted an on-camera image, along with quotes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes Christmas story The Adventure Of The Blue Carbuncle, suggesting that short stories is what the special may be, at least partly, based on. Posting the same image, Mackinnon tweeted: 'The stars were shining coldly in a cloudless sky.'
It's being kept a closely guarded secret, but rumours are rife that the sprawling Tyntesfield Estate near Bristol is being used as a location for the new series of Sherlock according to the Bristol Post. The estate is closed until 26 January for filming on something, but bosses at the National Trust are staying tight-lipped about what, specifically, the Gothic mansion is being used for. Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman his very self were in Bristol earlier in January, spotted entering the Colston Hall.

Top Gear's executive producer has suggested that the BBC 'does not trust' the show after 2014 proved to be its 'annus horribilis'. That means 'horrible year' in case you were wondering. And not 'bum, year' as the Sun once claimed when the Queen used the term to describe a particularly difficult year for the Royal Family. That was be annus anus. Anus horribilis, incidentally, means horrible bum. Anyway, speaking to Broadcast magazine, Andy Wilman defended the programme's record, after a year in which it was embroiled in several - mainly media-created - rows. He admitted that the Burma special, where Jezza Clarkson used the racial term 'slope', was 'not defensible.' But, he added that he was 'bored' of defending the recent two-part special in Argentina. The Patagonia episodes sparked controversy in South America allegedly over a car number plate that, it was claimed, appeared to refer to the Falklands War. The Top Gear crew were chased out of Argentina by former veterans and the incident drew vocal complaints from Argentina's ambassador to the UK. Who, seemingly, had no problem whatsoever with the violence threatened against the crew. 'The number plates were a coincidence,' Wilman insisted, adding that he would never 'jeopardise a whole show' by 'winding up' war veterans. Asked whether Top Gear received enough support from the BBC when it is under fire from the Daily Mirra and the Gruniad Morning Star and the Daily Scum Mail, the magazine says that Wilman paused for several seconds. 'Sometimes yes, sometimes no,' he finally replied. 'What the BBC like about Top Gear is when it's naughty but it's all under control. If your show is a bit wayward and naughty, there's an attitude within it. We walk a tightrope most of the time. Sometimes we're going to fall off it. And if you do, that's when the BBC is not a fan. Sometimes, I feel they don't trust us at heart.' However, Wilman insisted that Top Gear's track record was far better than its reputation suggested, pointing out that Ofcom had only ever found it to be in breach of the Broadcasting Code twice since 2002. 'You can't achieve that kind of record if the show itself isn't smart about what it's doing,' he said. One of those Ofcom rulings came after the Burma special last year. The programme featured a segment in which the hosts built a bridge on the River Kwai. Admiring his handiwork as a local man walked across it, Clarkson remarked: 'That is a proud moment. But there's a slope on it.' Ofcom, who investigated after two viewers complained - that's two viewers, out of an audience of seven million - said that the use of the word 'slope' was offensive and 'not justified by context.' Top Gear remains popular despite the controversies, holding a Guinness Record for the most-watched factual programme in the world. Speaking to Broadcast, Wilman said: 'I got that wrong because I thought it was a sort of Commando-mad, John Wayne-type film, sort of movie slang. I didn't realise it would be offensive in a bigger way. I didn't check it enough and therefore didn't refer it [to the BBC's editorial policy unit]. If I'd have done that, then it wouldn't have happened.' Wilman, who was given a warning about the incident and sent on an editorial standards course, insisted Top Gear's travails did not put its future in jeopardy. 'I would hope and think we would continue,' he said, adding that conversations about a deal for a new series on BBC2 were currently 'ongoing. We're still talking to them and our appetite is still there. We love the BBC - the notion and principle of the BBC. It's a wonderful place to be. They're willing [to recommission Top Gear] because the show is working and it's still a good thing to have in the mix. I could do with a bit less telling off, but there you go.'

William Shatner will narrate the new series of Clangers. The Star Trek actor will appear in the contemporary take on the classic and much-loved children's animation series, Deadline has reported. The BBC is in the process of co-producing the twenty six-episode series with the US pre-school network, Sprout. Sandy Wax, the president of the network, said that Shatner will add 'humour and wink in the show,' adding that The Shat's voice 'kind of felt comfortable in outer space.' Michael Palin was previously announced as being the narrator of the remake in September. It is unclear at this time if Shatner's signing means that the former Monty Python's Flying Circus regular and national treasure is no longer involved with the project, or whether he and The Shat will be voicing the series in different territories. Created by the great Oliver Postgate and his Smallfilms partner Peter Firmin, Clangers was originally broadcast in two series - twenty six episodes - between 1969 and 1972 on the BBC. An election special - Vote For Froglet - was also shown in October 1974.
Broadchurch dropped to its lowest-ever overnight ratings on Monday. The second episode of ITV drama's second series dipped by over 1.6 million viewers from the previous episode, falling to an average 5.57m at 9pm. Richard Wilson's On the Road appealed to 2.88m at 8pm. Earlier in the day, Mel & Sue launched with eight hundred and eighty eight thousand at 4pm. BBC1's Inside Out returned for a new series with 4.17m at 7.30pm, while Panorama gathered 2.95m at 8.30pm. Silent Witness's audience was just behind Broadchurch, attracting 5.49m at 9pm. On BBC2, University Challenge was watched by 3.06m at 8pm, followed by Only Connect with 2.43m at 8.30pm. Hands up who got The Rutles question, then? Just yer actual Keith Telly Topping, eh? Horizon was seen by 1.87m at 9pm, while Odious, Worthless, Unfunny Lanky Streak Of Rancid Piss Jack Whitehall's Backchat drew a depressing 1.11m at 10pm. Channel Four's Dispatches interested 1.51m at 8pm, while Food Unwrapped was seen by 1.86m at 8.30pm. The Undateables continued with 1.62m at 9pm, followed by Bodyshockers with 1.13m at 10pm. On Channel Five Storage: Flog The Lot! attracted five hundred and forty two thousand at 8pm, while Celebrity Big Brother's latest dreadful doings was watched by the lowest audience yet for the current series, 1.97m at 9pm.
Silent Witness remained top of the overnight ratings on Tuesday. The long-running BBC1 crime drama was seen by an average audience of 6.33 million at 9pm. Later, Count Arthur Strong was watched by 1.62m at 10.35pm. On BBC2, Nature's Weirdest Events brought in 2.40m at 8pm, followed by Horizon with 1.81m at 9pm. ITV's River Monsters interested 2.11m at 7.30pm, while Britain's Best Back Gardens attracted a mere 2.05m at 8pm. Wonder Of Britain was seen by 1.65m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Weighing Up The Enemy gathered seven hundred and ninety six thousand punters at 8pm, followed by Twenty Four Hours In Police Custody with 1.25m at 9pm. Gordon Ramsay's Hotel Hell had an audience of eight hundred and seventy nine thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Secrets Of The Tea Chimps was seen by nine hundred and fifty three thousand at 8pm. Celebrity Big Brother improved, slightly, from Monday's overnight figure to 2.13m at 9pm. The drama Suspects returned with seven hundred and six thousand at 10pm. On E4, The One Hundred continued with six hundred and forty eight thousand at 9pm, followed by Supernatural with two hundred and fifty three thousand at 10pm.

Channel Four's Angry, White & Proud depressingly attracted over 1.5 million viewers on a quiet Wednesday evening, overnight data suggests. The documentary was seen by an average 1.52m at 10pm. Earlier, Restoration Man brought in 1.89m at 8pm, while Twenty Four Hours In A&E was seen by 1.87m at 9pm. On BBC1, live FA Cup football coverage on a Match Of The Day special topped the night with 3.92m from 7.30pm. Which gives you some idea of just what a quiet night it was all round. On BBC2, Nature's Weirdest Events brought in 1.92m at 8pm, followed by Horizon with 1.80m at 9pm. ITV's repeat of Midsomer Murders Danish adventure appealed to 2.96m at 8pm. On Channel Five, He Left Me For My Mother drew 1.41m at 8pm, followed by Celebrity Big Brother with 2.31m at 9pm and Suspects with seven hundred and ten thousand at 10pm. BBC4's documentary Life Of A Mountain interested eight hundred and ninety thousand at 9pm.

Death In Paradise easily won the Thursday overnight ratings outside soaps. The BBC1 drama attracted an average 6.72 million viewers at 9pm, down around two hundred thousand from last week's series opener. Earlier, Watchdog appealed to 3.85m at 8pm, while Question Time was seen by 2.99m at 10.35pm. On BBC2, Masters Snooker coverage scored 1.02m at 7pm, followed by Nature's Weirdest Events with 1.67m at 8pm. Super Rich & Us interested 1.61m at 9pm, while the finale of Never Mind The Buzzcocks was watched by nine hundred and nine thousand at 10pm. ITV's Kyle Files attracted 2.45m at 7.30pm. Wretched, rotten as a stinking pile of diarrhoea Birds Of A Feather had an audience of 4.22m at 8.30pm and Bring Back Borstal was seen by 1.76m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Location, Location, Location gathered 1.89m at 8pm, followed by Maisie Williams's one-off drama Cyberbully with 1.09m at 9pm. Channel Five's Benefits had 1.16m at 8pm, followed by Celebrity Big Brother with 2.38m at 9pm. Botched Up Bodies brought in nine hundred and forty three thousand at 10pm. On E4, The Big Bang Theory continued with 1.62m at 8.30pm.
With an average overnight audience of 4.47 million, BBC1's The ONE Show was Friday evening's highest-rated show outside of soaps. It was followed by 3.79 million for A Question Of Sport at 7.30pm. BBC1's evening continued with 3.69 million for Room 101 and 3.39 million for The Musketeers at 9pm. The Graham Norton Show rounded the evening off with 3.6 million at 10.35pm. ITV's Benidorm was close to matching The ONE Show's figures, securing an average audience of 4.42 million at 9pm. It was preceded by The Martin Lewis Money Show with 2.85 million (12.6%). BBC2's live snooker coverage played to 1.10 million at 7pm, followed by an evening high of 2.18 million for Mastermind at 8pm and 1.41 million for Food And Drink. The Big Allotment Challenge continued with 1.59 million at 9pm, while Qi was seen by 1.48 million at 10pm. Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown continued to top Channel Four ratings, entertaining 1.72 million at 9pm. Celebrity Big Brother: Shock Arrival was, appallingly, watched by nearly three million people with nothing better to do with their time. The live episode, which saw Chloe Goodman leave the house and Katie Price enter, apparently, was viewed by an average audience of 2.91 million from 9pm on Channel Five. Channel Five also secured three hundred and four thousand punters for Race To The Pole at 7pm, followed by seven hundred and eighty eight thousand for Ice Road Truckers at 8pm. Agatha Christie's Marple was among the most popular multichannel shows, securing an average audience of five hundred and ninety six thousand on ITV3 at 8pm.

Comedy line of the week came from Friday's Qi when Jimmy Carr and Alan Davies pointed out the oddities inherent in a backdrop photo used for one part of the show which featured deer and seals in the same habitat. 'That's a zoo with an enclosure that's just gone "stick 'em in together. There's been some budget cuts, they can work it out"' noted Jimmy who, as usual when he's on Qi was on rather good form. 'Some of those need water!' he continued. Stephen Fry getting Pete Townshend and Pete Waterman mixed up at one point was also an unexpected bonus. Sadly, for the second time this series, the XL edition will not be shown for a while due to BBC2's seemingly obsession in covering sodding snooker. Ridiculous.
Meanwhile, Stephen Fry has married his fiancé Elliott Spencer. Stephen shared the news on Twitter on Saturday afternoon along with a photo of the happy couple. Everyone at From The North sends Stephen and Elliott our sincere best wishes for the future.
Many baffled viewers in Britain and Ireland took to Twitter on Saturday afternoon wondering why a feature on Tony Pulis and West Bromwich Albinos was stuck on a, seemingly permanent, loop during Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday. Eight times over almost half-an-hour viewers were treated to the sage thoughts of Andre Wisdom on West Brom's new manager when they should have been watching Paul Merson's latest attempt to mangle the English language into submission, Champagne Charlie Nicholas's inability to pronounce the word 'situation' properly or big-nosed Scouse glake Phil Thompson using 'my goodness' fourteen times in every sentence. The reason? Seemingly, a fire drill at the worst possible time.
The Voice rose to nearly eight and a half million overnight viewers on BBC1 on Saturday. The singing competition attracted 8.46m from 7pm, an increase of more than four hundred thousand punters compared to last week's series premiere. The National Lottery: Win Your Wish List followed with 4.92m, before Casualty was watched by 5.04m. Earlier Now You See It maintained the majority of its audience with 4.75m whilst, at the end of the evening Match Of The Day (featuring yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved - though unsellable - Magpies getting a damned good hiding off Southampton) had 3.78m. BBC2's snooker coverage averaged 1.31m across the night. On ITV, Harry Hill's Stars In Their Eyes looks to be turning into exactly the twenty four carat disaster that many commentators predicted pre-series. The second episode of the reboot lost over a million overnight punters week-on-week, attracting but 2.28m viewers. That's two and a quarter million viewers for an ITV primetime Saturday night show in the middle of January. Tonight, Harry, I'm going to be struggling to get to the end of the series without being quietly put into the long grass to die. As part of an ITV Saturday night line-up which also included risible, pointless Take Me Out - 3.07m overnight viewers watched professional Northern berk Paddy McGuinness's latest gormless pile of stale toss - one could suggest that, if you will make crass, ignorant lowest-common-denominator rubbish like these two, you're just asking for everything you get. Or, indeed, don't get. A screening of Bridget Jones's Diary drew 1.3m from 9.20pm afterwards. Channel Four broadcast the movie The Sweeney (that was the crap Ray Winstone version rather than the original) from 9pm, averaging 1.52m. On Channel Five, a CSI repeat of the series fourteen finale appealed to five hundred and sixty nine thousand from 8pm, before the latest Celebrity Big Brother episode was gawped at by 2.24m. The multichannels were topped by ITV3's Midsomer Murders, which garnered 1.24m from 8pm. BBC1 had an all day share of a fraction under thirty per cent, compared to ITV's woeful 11.4 per cent.

The audience for the new series of Call The Midwife was down from last year's launch but still easily topped the overnight ratings on Sunday. The BBC1 period drama attracted an average of 8.31 million viewers at 8pm, down from last year's overnight of 9.61m and 2013's rating of 9.32m. Earlier, Countryfile appealed to 7.01m at 6.30pm, followed by Still Open All Hours with 7.12m at 7.30pm. Last Tango In Halifax continued with 6.24m at 9pm, while Match Of The Day 2 ended a strong line-up for the channel with 2.74m at 10.35pm. BBC2's Snooker Masters final coverage was seen by 1.88m at 7pm, followed by repeats of Britain's Flying Past with nine hundred and sixty two thousand at 9pm and Qi with nine hundred and sixty five thousand at 10pm. As on Saturday, BBC1 had the whupping of their ITV rivals right across peaktime viewing, making it a thoroughly miserable weekend for the commercial broadcaster ratings-wise. On ITV, following the laughably disastrous ratings for Stars In Their Eyes the night before, their new 'entertainment' format Get Your Shit Together opened with a piss poor 2.57m at 6.45pm, while the final Foyle's War episode gathered 3.54m at 9pm. Channel Four's Secret Agent With Phil Spencer interested nine hundred and eighty one thousand at 7pm, followed by The Hotel with 1.30m at 8pm and Walking The Nile with 1.73m at 9pm. On Channel Five, My Super Ex-Girlfriend brought in eight hundred and nine thousand at 7pm. Celebrity Big Brother continued with 2.79m at 9pm, whilst a broadcast of Amanda Seyfried's Gone was seen by nine hundred and twenty two thousand at 10pm. BBC3's repeat of The Voice attracted six hundred and sixty nine thousand at 7.30pm.

And then there's the consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Three programmes for the week-ending Sunday 11 January 2015:-
1 Broadchurch - Mon ITV - 10.40m
2 The Voice - Sat BBC1 - 9.05m
3 Death In Paradise - Thurs BBC1 - 8.92m
4 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.71m
5 Silent Witness - Tues BBC1 - 8.59m
6 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 8.36m
7 Still Open All Hours - Sun BBC1 - 7.12m
8 Emmerdale - Fri ITV - 7.09m
9 Last Tango In Halifax - Sun BBC1 - 7.07m
10 Six O'Clock News - Fri BBC1 - 6.53m
11 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.22m
12 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.87m
13 BBC News - Sat BBC1 - 5.85m
14 Ten O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 5.66m
15 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.65m
16 FA Cup: Match of The Day Live - Mon BBC1 - 5.57m
17 Now You See It - Sat BBC1 - 5.16m
18= Foyle's War - Sun ITV - 5.08m*
18= Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 5.08m
20 The National Lottery: Win Your Wish List - Sat BBC1 - 5.00m
21 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.81m
22 The Musketeers - Fri BBC1 - 4.78m
23 Benidorm - Fri ITV - 4.75m*
As usual, these figures do not include iPlayer or ITV Player viewers. ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. Aside from Broadchurch, Corrie, Emmerdale, Foyle's War and Benidorm, the only ITV programme across the entire week to pull in a consolidated audience of more than four million punters was the rotten as diarrhoea Birds Of A Feather (4.07m). For those who wish to have a damned good laugh, their twin Saturday night flops Harry Hill's Star In Their Eyes and Take Me Out drew consolidated audiences of 3.14m and 3.04m respectively. BBC2's highest-rated programme of the week was Billionaire's Paradise: Inside Necker Island with 3.27 million. Next came Six Puppies & Us with 3.18 million and University Challenge with 2.68 million. Following those, the channel's coverage of some fat blokes chucking about Darts attracted 2.57m, Dad's Army drew 2.42 million, followed by Only Connect (2.27m), Super Cars Versus Used Cars: The Trade Off (2.22m), Mastermind (2.19m), The Super Rich & Us (2.06m), Britain's Tudor Treasure (1.97m) and Qi (1.87m). The Undateables was Channel Four's most watched broadcast with 2.54m, followed by Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown (2.43m) and Restoration Man (2.35m). Channel Five's top-rated broadcasts were dominated by Celebrity Big Brother the most watched episode being Wednesday - 3.44m. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's most-watched programme with 1.10m viewers. The return for a fifth series of the French thriller Spiral drew BBC4's largest audience of the week (1.01m whilst the second episode had nine hundred and thirteen thousand), with The Inca: Masters Of The Clouds being watched by five hundred and ninety three thousand. Storage Hunters on Dave was seen by four hundred and thirty three thousand. The FOX Channel's début of series twelve of NCIS attracted eight hundred and fifty four thousand whilst an old episode of the same drama was also the Universal Channel's most watched programme with one hundred and forty nine thousand. BBC3's weekly best-of list was, again, topped by a movie - Marvel Avengers Assemble (1.01m). Stalker was Sky Living's highest-rated show with six hundred and sixty five thousand.

Last Sunday's Golden Globe Awards ceremony was watched by an overnight audience of 19.3 million people in America, down eight per cent on last year's overnight of almost twenty one million. According to Nielsen Media Research, viewer ratings also fell in the eighteen to forty nine age bracket, the group which advertisers are most keen to attract. The seventy second annual awards ceremony, hosted by comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler for the third and final time, was on NBC. The pair drew 19.7 million viewers when they first hosted the show in 2013. Last year's 20.9 million was a ten-year high for the Golden Globes. This year, on top of the TV ratings, the hosts' opening monologue - which made several close-to-the-knuckle jokes about Bill Cosby - has also attracted 3.5 million views on YouTube. Fey and Poehler took over the hosting role from British comedian Ricky Gervais, who presented the Globes from 2010 to 2012. Fey and Poehler both found fame on Saturday Night Live. Fey went on to create and star in the hit US sitcom Thirty Rock and her new show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, is due to begin broadcasting in March this year. Poehler stars as Leslie Knope in the comedy series Parks And Recreation.

Producers of Coronation Street have reportedly dropped the actress Katie Redford, after claims that she lied about her age to win the part of a fourteen-year-old. ITV announced that Redford was joining the soap last week, playing the role of Bethany Platt, the granddaughter to Gail McIntyre. A press release, issued on Friday, described the actress as being nineteen years old. However, a bunch of right nosey-parkers on the Digital Spy website forum then promptly 'unearthed' a variety of evidence online which appeared to suggest that Redford is, actually, twenty five. And, they subsequently lost little time in grassing her up like a bunch of snitching Copper's Narks. Which, to be fair, was quite funny to watch. While much of the 'evidence' has since - mysteriously - disappeared from the Internet, a former online CV for Redford - which is still available to view online as a cached version - listed her date of birth as 2 March 1989. Redford's Twitter username also previously read 'katieredford89' before being changed. In a short - and rather terse - statement over the weekend, Coronation Street has confirmed that it would be 'investigating the discrepancy.' A spokeswoman for the actress later confirmed that she had auditioned 'as a nineteen-year-old.' Producers say they only became aware of this 'discrepancy' at the weekend. As a result, ITV announced on Monday morning: 'Coronation Street have taken the decision to recast the part of Bethany Platt.' It is understood that producers have another actress in mind for the role and there will not be another protracted audition process. The character of Bethany was last seen in the series in 2007 when she moved to Italy with her mother, Sarah Louise. Bethany was previously played by three child actors - Mia Cookson and Amy and Emily Walton. In its press release last week ITV stated: 'Nottingham-born Katie, nineteen, will début as tearaway teenager Bethany this spring when she arrives, unannounced, in Weatherfield from her home in Milan.' It also contained a quote from Redford who said that the role was 'a dream come true' and continued, with almost uncanny foresight: 'Until I'm actually on set, I genuinely don't think it will sink in that I'm joining the cast of Coronation Street.' The actress, who trained at the National Youth Theatre, had not filmed any scenes before the decision was taken to drop her from the show.

American fans of British television can rest easy on their sofas. Following numerous media reports that Netflix and the BBC were parting ways, the streaming service has clarified that many of its most popular British series are staying put. In response to headlines that series like Doctor Who, Luther, The Office and others were going to be dropped from the service at the end of the month, a Netflix spokeswoman has told Variety that such reports were entirely false. What? The press printing things that are not true? Surely not? Among the shows that will still be available on Netflix are Doctor Who, Luther, several recent series of Top Gear, Torchwood, Wallander, The Office and House Of Cards series. Oh, and Keeping Up Appearances as well. Sorry about the last one. The deal in question did not involve series including Sherlock, Happy Valley, The Honorable Woman and Call The Midwife all of which will also still be available for viewing on Netflix. As can Monarch Of The Glen and Robin Hood. Fans should, however, plan to enjoy Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, [spooks] and Red Dwarf before 1 February when those will no longer be available.
One of the regular CSI characters will reportedly be killed during the season fifteen finale. The character's fate will come at the hands of The Gig Harbour Killer during the finale episode, reports TV Guide. George Eads, who has played Nick Stokes since the show's first episode, is reported to be leaving during the season fifteen finale, but his character will not, apparently, be the one to die. Other reports claim the the character to die will be someone who has been with the series since its first season, which narrows the field down somewhat. It is thought that Eads's exit will leave open the possibility of future visits to CSI. That's if the series continues beyond the current run, something which is far from certain at this time. Eric Roberts will reappear in the season finale as Brother Daniel Larson, a character who previously appeared in two 2013 episodes. According to CBS president Nina Tassler, the future of the procedural drama is 'still undecided.' Questions about the long-running drama have swirled since CSI's episode order was reduced from twenty two to eighteen in March last year and star Ted Danson accepted a role in the next series of Fargo.
The Blacklist's upcoming two-part special will feature a number of guest stars. Academy Award nominee David Strathairn and The West Wing's Janel Moloney (a particular favourite of all of us at From The North) will appear in the first episode, which will be shown in the US immediately after the Super Bowl. According to Entertainment Weekly, Strathairn will appear as The Director, while Moloney will play Kat Goodson, who is liaison to the director of NCS. The second episode will star Gloria Reuben as Doctor Selma Orchard, who is brought in to work with the episode's villain Luther Braxton (played by Ron Perlman).
Gotham has cast Rob Gorrie as Robin's father. The actor, who has previously starred in One Life To Live and As The World Turns, will play John Grayson, Dick Grayson's father, the ComicBook.com website reports. Gorrie had announced the news that he had joined the cast of the FOX drama, but his role was previously unspecified. Showrunner Bruno Heller announced that Gotham would introduce Robin's parents back in November. The network recently announced that Gotham would return for a second run after the series premiere secured FOX's highest-rated fall drama début in fourteen years, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The premiere date of Hannibal's season three is to be delayed. The NBC psychological drama, which had been expected to begin broadcasting mid-season, will now be pushed back until the summer of 2015. NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt is quoted by EW as saying: 'It's a show we love, it's critically acclaimed, we love it. And we also love summer. We have exciting plans for summer.' Richard Armitage has been cast in the new season of Hannibal as Francis Dolarhyde, The serial killer known as The Tooth Fairy.
A new 24 mini-series could be in the works, however it may potentially, be without leading man yer actual Kiefer Sutherland. FOX chairman Dana Walden said at the TCAs press tour this week that 'discussions' have taken place about bringing back the real-time series in 2016, but Sutherland may not be involved. Which, frankly, is a bit like Jaws without the shark.

Kyle MacLachlan will reprise his role as Special Agent Dale Cooper in the new series of cult drama Twin Peaks it has been confirmed. The Showtime network revealed the news at a Television Critics Association meeting in California, where the actor made a cameo appearance. 'I think you need a damn good cup of coffee,' he said, referring to one of Cooper's catchphrases. 'I'm very excited to return to the strange and wonderful world of Twin Peaks,' MacLachlan said. He added: 'May the forest be with you.' Twin Peaks co-creator David Lynch later announced the news on Twitter. The third series will be broadcast on Showtime in 2016. It will come twenty five years after the first two series, which were shown in 1990 and 1991. A prequel film, the fantastically weird Fire Walk With Me, was released in 1992. The unsettling drama explored the murky goings-on in a small US town after the murder of teenage beauty queen Laura Palmer. The show won three Golden Globe awards in 1991, including best TV drama series and best actor for MacLachlan. The actor went on to forge a successful TV and film career after Twin Peaks, with credits including Agents Of Shield, The Good Wife, The Doors, Portlandia, Desperate Housewives and Sex And The City. Sheryl Lee, who played Laura Palmer (and her cousin, Maddy Ferguson), was this week given the all-clear by David Lynch to announce that both she and Dana Ashbook, who played Bobby Briggs, will both be part of the cast for the third series. well, she did promise she'd be back in twenty five years.
Woody Allen is to create his first ever television series. Amazon has commissioned the Oscar-winning film-maker to write and direct a full season of an as yet unnamed show for its Amazon Prime Instant Video service. 'I don't know how I got into this,' the Annie Hall and Manhattan director said in a statement. 'I have no ideas and I'm not sure where to begin.' Try the beginning, Wood, that's usually the best place. The half-hour episodes will be available to Amazon Prime subscribers in the US, UK and Germany in 2016. Amazon won its first two Golden Globes on Sunday for its dark comedy Transparent, a show about a family dealing with a father who is transgender. Amazon Studios vice president Roy Price said it was 'an honour' to be working with Allen. 'Woody is a visionary creator who has made some of the greatest films of all-time,' he said. Especially the early, funny ones. 'From Annie Hall to Blue Jasmine, Woody has been at the creative forefront of American cinema and we couldn't be more excited to premiere his first TV series exclusively on Prime Instant Video next year.' Amazon is currently locked in a battle with Netflix for supremacy in the video streaming market. Four more original Amazon series will make their debuts in 2015, including police drama Bosch, Red Oaks, a comedy series set in the 1980s and psychological drama Hand Of God. They will join the children's series Wishenpoof! and a second season of Transparent. The show, starring Arrested Development actor Jeffrey Tambor alongside Gaby Hoffmann and Jay Duplass, was named best comedy series at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday. And Tambor took home the award for best actor in a comedy series for his portrayal of Maura Pfefferman.

BBC2 has won the rights to broadcast the American conspiracy thriller series Odyssey. Broadcast Now reports that the channel bid for the rights at the LA Screenings for the show, which is produced by Red Arrow Entertainment's UK arm for NBC. The series is loosely based on Homer's epic poem of the same name and stars yer actual Anna Friel, Peter Facinelli and Jake Robinson. Peter Horton, Adam Armus and Kay Foster are the show's creators. Odyssey follows the story of a team of US soldiers led by Friel who kill a key Al-Qaeda commander in a gunfight with jihadists, before discovering that a major US corporation is funding the terrorists. BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw and head of programme acquisitions Sue Deeks made the deal with NBC Universal International Television Distribution, ahead of the programme's broadcast in the US in April.
Outlander's Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan ended Friday's Outlander panel at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour by commenting on the Starz drama's most-controversial scene to date: One of the upcoming scenes which people are most interested in features Jamie Fraser spanking Claire Randall for not obeying his orders. 'We all knew a lot of people would be very interested in how we would tackle it,' Balfe said of the memorable moment from Diana Gabaldon's novel. 'First and foremost, we have to remember that you have to look at it in the mind-frame of 1743. It's very hard as a modern person to see this is okay under any circumstances.' Unless, of course, it's between consenting adults in a loving, yet experimental, relationship and in the privacy of their own home. In which case, it's quite good fun. Or, so this blogger has heard, anyway. Where were we? Oh yes, the seventeen forties. 'In 1743, this was a very justified form of punishment that a husband would [dole] out,' she continued. 'But we wanted to not take it lightly, We wanted to approach it very respectfully. We talked a lot about it, we met a few times, we choreographed it quite well. When it came to the day, we tried to give it the respect it deserved. For Claire, she finds it very hard to sort of wrap her mind around this man that she's fallen in love with, what he's about to do.' Balfe added. 'What I loved about it was that we took time afterwards, that in the context of their marriage, they had to figure out a way to get past this.'
Raymond Briggs's classic family story Fungus The Bogeyman is getting a small screen makeover on Sky1 later this year. Four hour-long episodes producer by Imaginarium Studios will be broadcast this Christmas, mixing live action with animation to bring the popular children's character to life. The press release for the commission reveals: 'This charming family adventure is a story of smelly monsters, dangerous humans and what happens when the things that go bump in the night move in next door. We follow Fungus as he goes through his paces, menacing and frightening those on the surface (the Dry Cleaners) as Bogeymen are meant to do and have always done. Unlike other Bogeyman, Fungus has to navigate his world colliding with our above ground world. Over the course of the four episodes Fungus and his son Mould journey through the maze of life on the surface, while also discovering the highs and lows of their father and son relationship.' Adam MacDonald's the director of Sky1 said: 'I'm beyond excited that Sky1 and Imaginarium Studios will be bringing the Raymond Briggs classic Fungus The Bogeyman squelchingly up to date as a top quality, ambitious and joyous family treat for our customers.'

Jeremy Jackson has accepted a police caution for common assault following that incident with Chloe Goodman on Celebrity Big Brother. The former Baywatch actor (well, a bloke who was in Baywatch, anyway, it's difficult with all conscience to call anybody who was in that show and 'actor' per se) was extremely removed from the house on Saturday. This occurred after 'an altercation' took place between him and the model when she entered the bathroom to help him after he started violently vomiting copious amounts of rich brown phlegm. Local police were, apparently, 'contacted by viewers' - with nothing better to do with their time, seemingly - who were said to be 'concerned' by the incident. A spokesman for Hertfordshire Police said on Monday: 'We were made aware of an alleged incident that took place in the Big Brother house in Borehamwood in the early hours of Saturday 10 January.' Which suggests that the poliss, themselves, weren't watching. And that, rather restores one faith in them, so it does. They've got better things to do with their time, clearly. 'We are currently working with the programme's producers as part of our enquiries. It would be inappropriate to comment any further at this time.' Jackson reportedly 'met' with police officers on Monday - for tea and biscuits, perhaps - and accepted a caution for common assault as a condition of admitting to the offence. The actor subsequently claimed that the incident arose because he was 'interested in bikini design.' Yeah, well, that sounds completely credible. He told ITV's This Morning: 'My intentions were based on a relationship that Chloe and I had built regarding her swimming suits and how many of them she had and how many times she had changed them on the show.' Even Phillip Schofield wasn't buying that. Fellow housemate Ken Morley was also removed from the Elstree compound during the broadcasting of Monday night's episode. He was ejected for repeating a particular word (beginning with 'n') following an earlier formal warning about use of racially pejorative and sexually explicit language in the house. Speaking on ITV's Loose Women, Morley acknowledged that he had used 'an outdated expression', but denied he was racist and claimed that he was sorry for any offence cause. Although one suspects that he's probably more sorry that he's about to lose what little career he previously had. Because, it's hard to see even the most desperate of double glazing firms wishing to use him in their cheap and nasty adverts after this.
In The Flesh will not be returning to BBC3, it has been confirmed. The channel released a statement on Friday confirming that it has dropped the BAFTA-winning supernatural drama. The statement reads: 'BBC3 is very proud of the two award-winning series of In The Flesh. However, given there is only budget for one original drama series a year on the channel it won't be returning. We loved the show but have to make hard choices to bring new shows through and create room for emerging talent. Huge thanks to the BAFTA award-winning writer Dominic Mitchell and the superb cast.' himself Mitchell responded to news of the cancellation on Twitter, thanking In The Flesh fans for their support.
The British Library has launched a campaign to raise forty million quid to digitise the country's sound archive of more than six million recordings. The library said around two million of these are fragile and rare recordings. These are at risk of being lost due to physical degradation and the disappearance of the technology to play them, the library said. The archive, which includes the voice of Florence Nightingale, is held on more than forty formats. These include wax cylinders, lacquer discs, cassette players, reel-to-reel tapes and minidiscs. The UK Sound Archive includes recordings of local accents and dialects used to monitor the evolution of the English language and sounds of rare or extinct wildlife. It also includes full recordings of theatre productions going back forty years, including the opening night of Hamlet in the Old Vic, starring Peter O'Toole and directed by Laurence Olivier. The British Library estimated it would cost around eighteen million knicker to digitise the most 'at risk' recordings and to build the facilities needed to digitise the remaining two thirds of the collection. The remaining funds will be used to develop a system to digitally archive the UK's sound output in the future. The library has estimated that ninety two per cent of the UK's current radio output, and sixty five to seventy per cent of the UK's published music output, is not being fully archived. The institution is also appealing to the public to let them know about any rare or unique sound collections as well as creating a national sound directory in order to identify other threatened collections.

The US broadcaster FOX News has - finally - issued an on-air apology for televising the ludicrous claim that Birmingham is a 'Muslim-only city' where non-Muslims 'don't go.' As previously reported by this blog (along with just about every other media outlet on the planet) Steven Emerson, an American terrorism commentator, alleged 'expert' and hairdo, made the astounding - and, entirely groundless - claim as he spoke to the channel about the terror attacks in France last week. Emerson, who was described by British Prime Minister David Cameron as 'a complete idiot' and widely mocked on social media for his rank glakery, subsequently retracted his claims and has also donated five hundred smackers to the city's children's hospital. Which was nice. On Saturday, a week after the incident, FOX finally got around to saying that it 'deeply regrets' the errors and apologising to the people of Birmingham. Issuing the apology, Jeanine Pirro, who was interviewing Emerson when he made the claims in the first place, said that a guest had made 'a series of factual errors that we wrongly let stand unchallenged and uncorrected. The guest asserted that the city of Birmingham, England, is totally Muslim and that it is a place where non-Muslims don't go,' she said. 'Both are incorrect.' No shit? She went on to say that census data from 2011 indicated the just twenty two per cent of the population of Birmingham identified themselves as Muslim. 'We could find nothing that indicated Birmingham is a so-called no-go zone.' she added. 'We deeply regret these errors and apologise to the people of Birmingham, our viewers and all who have been offended.' Later, another presenter, Julie Banderas, also told viewers: 'Over the course of this last week we have made some regrettable errors on-air, regarding the Muslim population in Europe, particularly with regard to England and France. This applies especially to discussions of so-called "no-go zones", areas where non-Muslims allegedly aren't allowed in and police, supposedly, won't go. To be clear, there is no formal designation of these zones in either country and no credible information to support the assertion there are specific areas in these countries that exclude individuals based solely on their religion. There are, certainly, areas of high crime in Europe, as there are in the United States and other countries, where police and visitors enter with caution. We deeply regret the errors and apologise to any and all who may have taken offence, including the people of France and England.' It's all right, chuck, by and large we weren't offended. We just thought it was funny.
Comedian Al Murray will stand in his guise as The Pub Landlord against UKiP leader Nigel Farage at the forthcoming general erection. Murray, whose loud-mouthed 'common sense' character is based around a love for all things British, has formed the Free United Kingdom Party. FUKP for short. He confirmed that he would stand for election in the Thanet South constituency. He said: 'It seems to me that the UK is ready for a bloke waving a pint around, offering common sense solutions.' A spokesman for UKiP added: 'At last, serious competition in the constituency.' Dan Lloyd, who represents Murray through production company Avalon, said 'it's definitely happening' and confirmed that papers will be lodged before the deadline. In a video posted online Murray said: 'Let it be known that like many of the parliamentary hopefuls in the forthcoming election, I have no idea where South Thanet is. But did that stop Margaret Thatcher from saving the Falkland Islands?' Murray is standing in a constituency which the Conservative Party won at the previous election in 2010. The serving MP is Laura Sandys. A website Murray has set up for his campaign, carries the slogan: 'Other parties offer the moon on a stick. We'll do better than that: a British moon on a British stick.' His party is using an upturned pound sign for a logo, in a clear parody of the UKiP symbol.
An 'anti-feminism' party called Justice For Men And Boys (And The Women Who Love Them) is standing for parliament in May's general erection. The party, which hands out Lying Feminist of the Month awards to female journalists that it doesn't like, will be fielding three candidates in the Nottingham area, including one who will attempt - unsuccessfully - to unseat the shadow women and equalities minister Gloria De Piero. The party was founded by 'retired businessman' Mike Buchanan - who is obviously not a complete worthless sexist git. Oh no, very hot water. He told the BuzzFeed News website that it is his party's ultimate aim to 'make feminism a dirty word'. A bit like 'jobbies'. Or 'moist'. Only, dirtier. One imagines the voters of the greater Nottingham area may be a bit confused as to why they, specifically have been chosen by Buchanan - who, clearly, never had a terrifying experience with a woman - possibly because of an unfeasibly small penis - than made him, you know, mental - for his lone and fearless stand against the windmill of progress and equality. Buchanan - who is, of course, very definitely not a daft plank - used to work as 'a business consultant' for the Conservative party, but quit in 2009 when David Cameron backed all-women parliamentary candidate shortlists. Which, certainly did not cause his brain to explode in impotent fury. He has since 'dedicated his life' to the cause - if it can be described as such - of 'anti-feminism', writing three books, Feminism: The Ugly Truth, The Glass Ceiling Delusion and David Cameron – The Heir to Harman? All of which you can buy at amazon.co.uk (and you really should check out some of the reviews of this one, in particular, dear blog reader. They're effing hilarious). 'Feminism is a hatred and it should be a badge of shame,' Buchanan suggested. 'To call yourself a feminist should be no more acceptable than calling yourself a bigot or a sexist or a fascist. It is a deeply vile, corrupting ideology and the idea it's a benign movement about gender equality is dangerous nonsense.' The party's website is home to articles such as Thirteen Reasons Women Lie About Being Raped, Ten Reasons False Rape Allegations Are Common and Feminists – Enemies of Men, Women, and Children. And, you know, kittens. Probably. The party has also produced a detailed eighty-page manifesto for the general erection which includes policies on halving the length of time after conception that a woman can legally get an abortion, creating all-boys schools with all-male teaching staff and the introduction of a government minister for 'men and equalities.'

The Cornish nationalist party Mebyon Kernow has claimed it would be 'absurd and undemocratic' for it to be denied a party political broadcast during the election campaign. MK is arguing that because it is fielding candidates in all six seats in the 'historic nation of Cornwall', it ought to qualify for some airtime. Draft criteria from the BBC Trust state that a political party would qualify for one party election broadcast if it stood in at least one-sixth of the seats up for election in one of the home nations. This equates to eighty nine seats in England, ten in Scotland, seven in Wales and three in Northern Ireland. The MK leader, Dick Cole, said: 'How can it be fair that MK, a Cornish political party, would need to stand in all six seats within Cornwall, as well as a further eighty three seats outside of Cornwall, in order to be allowed a broadcast? By contrast, the recommendation would mean that political parties in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales would only have to stand in three, ten and seven seats respectively.' In a letter to the BBC Trust, Cole said that genuine regional or national parties, which stand candidates in most of the seats in a region or nation – including Cornwall – should be allowed a broadcast. MK was founded in 1951 and has contested local elections since 1965 and parliamentary elections since 1970. It has never had an MP and usually loses all of its deposits but it does have four councillors, including Cole, on the Cornwall council. It argues that Cornwall is one of the four nations inhabiting the British mainland and should have the same right to self-determination as England, Scotland and Wales. It is campaigning for the creation of a national assembly for Cornwall. The BBC Trust’s consultation on the criteria ended on Monday.

Oh, and those risible Middle Class hippy Communist Gruniad Morning Star-reading frackers in the Green Party have been whinging again this week. About something or other. So, no change there, then.
The former owner of a disputed Caravaggio painting has lost his battle for compensation from an auction house. Lancelot William Thwaytes sold The Cardsharps at Sotheby's in 2006 for forty six grand after being told it was by 'a follower' of the Old Master rather than Caravaggio his very self. The new owner subsequently insured the painting for millions - after 'a close friend', an art expert, claimed that it was, in fact, an original Caravaggio. Sotheby's maintain that the painting is not by the artist. Thwaytes attempted to sue Sotheby's, for tons of wonga, giving him negligent advice after the new owner had the artwork valued at ten million smackers. Lawyers for Thwaytes accused Sotheby's of 'not consulting enough top experts' or sufficiently testing the painting before the 2006 sale. But the judge at London's High Court was havin' none of it and ruled that the auction house had 'reasonably come to the view' that the quality of the painting 'was not sufficiently high to indicate that it might be by Caravaggio.' Sotheby's defended its claim by saying that 'a number of leading experts' have attested to it not being by the artist. It was also the 'unanimous opinion of specialists' in the auction house's own Old Masters painting department that it was an anonymous copy. Thwaytes inherited the painting in the 1960s from a cousin and, when he came to sell it, Sotheby's catalogued it as by 'a follower' of Caravaggio. The painting was bought at auction by Orietta Adam, a friend of the art collector Sir Denis Mahon, on whose behalf she is understood to have bought the painting. Sir Denis had it cleaned and restored and a year later - at his ninety seventh birthday party - he 'declared' that the painting was by Caravaggio and dated to 1595. Italian scholar Mina Gregori concurred with his opinion. Others beg to differ. The painting was loaned to the Museum of the Order of St John at Clerkenwell in London following the death of Sir Denis in 2011 and is insured for ten million knicker. The original artwork was painted in 1594 and is on show in a museum in Texas. It was a key work in establishing Caravaggio's reputation and was widely copied. Thwaytes's legal team said that it was considering an appeal. 'Mr Thwaytes is extremely disappointed with the decision delivered this morning and maintains that Sotheby's failed to spot the painting's potential,' it said in a statement. 'He brought the case following the public announcement that the painting was an autograph replica painted by the hand of Caravaggio; a view which was supported by a number of leading experts, including Mina Gregori and Sir Denis Mahon.'

The acclaimed historian and one-man gaffe machine, David Starkey, was at it again on the BBC's Question Time on Thursday. The supposed 'expert' on Islam was talking about freedom of speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and referred to Mehdi Hasan, the political director at The Huffington Post, as 'Ahmed'. This blunder, as usual, caused the Twattersphere to virtually implode with the historian being labelled as 'a bigot' and 'a xenophobe' by some people that you've never heard of. Hasan himself made several references to the incident on Twitter, one describing Starkey as 'basically Katie Hopkins with a PhD.' Which is, actually, quite funny. Starkey, of course, has some considerable blunder-form already on Question Time and Newsnight, including once insisting that a sixteen-year-old pupil could 'groom' a forty four-year-old teacher, stating that violence, rather than consent, should be the measure of rape and suggesting that Princess Anne looks like a horse. Mind you, it's difficult to argue with the last one.

David Cameron has disagreed with a comment made by Pope Francis, who warned against mocking others' religions. Following the murderous attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the Pope claimed that someone who insulted his mother could expect 'to get punched'. Which, some might argue, is a very odd thing for the leader of a religion which is, supposedly, built on love, tolerance and pacifism in the face of aggression to suggest. And further, that it doesn't, really fit in at all with the Gospel According to Matthew, chapter five, verse thirty nine ('whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other, also'). Or, indeed, chapter seven verse one ('judge not, lest ye be judged'). Or, chapter seven verse elven ('do onto others as you would have them do onto you'). Or John chapter eight verse seven ('let he that is without sin cast the first stone'). Or, numerous other examples of Christ telling his followers to, basically, just be cool and reject violence as a solution to pretty much anything. Cameron, speaking to CBS News, said that the media - and, therefore, by extension everybody else in the world - had the right to publish material which was offensive to some. Twelve people were killed by militant Islamists in the attack in Paris. A policewoman and four people also died at a kosher supermarket in a separate attack in the French capital earlier this month. Speaking to the CBS Face The Nation programme, Cameron was asked how to 'find the right balance' after the Pope defended freedom of expression but said there were 'limits' to freedom of speech. The pontiff had suggested religions should be 'treated with respect', so that people's faiths were not insulted or ridiculed. It's probably worth observing at this point that when two religions which normally have absolutely no time for each other - to the point of holy wars - suddenly start singing from the same hymn sheet with regard to criticising others, then those that are being criticised can probably be confident in the knowledge that they're doing something right. Cameron replied: 'I think in a free society, there is a right to cause offence about someone's religion. I'm a Christian - if someone says something offensive about Jesus, I might find that offensive, but in a free society I don't have a right to wreak my vengeance on them.' He said that as long as publications acted within the boundaries of the law as it currently stands, they had the right to publish pretty much any material, even if it was offensive to some. Which this blogger entirely agrees with and that's why he will say, here and now, that he thinks David Cameron is an oily, numskull twonk of no worth whatsoever. Who, thankfully, has just publicly defended this blogger's absolute right to say exactly that in a public forum and as part of a free and democratic society. Good on ya, Dangerous Dave. Remember, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Keep it up and you, too, might get there eventually. The former Bishop of Oxford Richard Harries, writing in the Independent On Sunday, also suggested that the Pope had been wrong to make his extremely strange comments. He said: 'I am a great admirer of the Pope, but when, to make the proper point that we should not insult the faith of others, he said his assistant could "expect a punch" if he cursed his mother, I was aghast. The reference to a punch could easily be taken for a justification of violence in response to insult.' Asked about the current threat of terrorism, Cameron, who is on a visit to the US where, unbelievably, they seem to quite like him, said: 'Frankly, we've been in this struggle against extremist Islamist terrorism now for well over a decade and a half, so we know what it takes to win. It's going to take a lot of perseverance.' He added that, while the threat had 'changed and altered', it was 'still based on the fundamental problem of a poisonous death cult narrative, which is the perversion of one of the world's major religions.'

The missing Mars robot Beagle2 has been found on the surface of the Red Planet, apparently in tact. High-resolution images taken from orbit have identified its landing location and it appears to be in one piece. The UK-led probe tried to make a soft touchdown on the dusty world on Christmas Day 2003, using parachutes and airbags - but no radio contact was ever made with the probe. Many scientists assumed it had been destroyed in a high-velocity impact. The new pictures, acquired by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, give lie to that notion and hint at what really happened to the European mission. Beagle's design incorporated a series of deployable 'petals', on which were mounted its solar panels. From the images, it seems that this system did not unfurl fully. 'Without full deployment, there is no way we could have communicated with it as the radio frequency antenna was under the solar panels,' explained Professor Mark Sims, Beagle's mission manager from Leicester University. 'The failure cause is pure speculation, but it could have been, and probably was, down to sheer bad luck - a heavy bounce perhaps distorting the structure as clearances on solar panel deployment weren't big; or a punctured and slowly leaking airbag not separating sufficiently from the lander, causing a hang-up in deployment,' he told the BBC News website. The discovery of Beagle comes less than a year after the death of the probe's principal investigator, Colin Pillinger. The Royal Society scientific institution announced an award in commemoration of Professor Pillinger on Friday. The Open University scientist was the driving force behind the project and, although his mission never got to explore Mars, he is widely credited with sparking a huge enthusiasm among the public for space research. His wife and fellow Beagle team-member, Doctor Judith Pillinger, said: 'Colin was always fond of a football analogy. No doubt he would have compared Beagle2 landing on Mars, but being unable to communicate, to having "hit the crossbar" rather than missing the goal completely. Beagle2 was born out of Colin's quest for scientific knowledge. Had he known the team came so close to scoring he would certainly have been campaigning to "tap in the rebound" with Beagle3 and continue experiments to answer questions about life on Mars.' The outcome will be deeply frustrating to the science and engineering teams behind the project, because they will now realise just how close they came to success. Indeed, MRO's data confirms that Beagle landed just five kilometres from the centre of its targeted touchdown zone. This was an ellipse, five hundred by one hundred kilometres, on a flat, near-equatorial plain known as Isidis. To be off-centre by such a tiny margin amounts to a near bulls-eye. Beagle2 was carried to the Red Planet by the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter, which remains in working order to this day. MEx released the little robot on to its landing trajectory on 19 December 2003. It even snapped a picture of Beagle, in its entry capsule, receding into the distance. What followed was a mystery. Various theories were posited at the time - and subsequently - for the failure of the probe to make contact after the expected landing time of 02:45 GMT on 25 December. The Beagle team itself suspected the robot was caught out by a Martian atmosphere that was thinner than the one for which it had planned. This would have meant it was travelling too fast as it approached the surface. But the pictures suggest that all elements of the entry, descent and landing system did a job. The entry capsule clearly protected the probe from the heat of rubbing up against the Martian atmosphere and the parachutes and bouncing bags must have come out to soften the final approach to the surface. In the MRO images, it is even possible to identify some of the EDL elements on the ground close to Beagle. The Commission of Inquiry - jointly set up by the European Space Agency and the forerunner of what is now the UK Space Agency - blamed the failure on a mixture of poor management and inadequate testing of systems and components. It also conceded that too little money had been allocated to the Beagle project at its outset. With a total budget of near fifty million smackers, it remains one of the cheapest interplanetary missions ever devised. The report's nineteen recommendations included the demand that communications with future probes be maintained through the various descent phases. This has become standard practice in recent years, but with Beagle its last contact was essentially that black and white photo of it moving away from the MEx orbiter six days prior to landing. When ESA's ExoMars rover tries to land on the surface of the Red Planet in 2019, it will be relaying information all the way down. The landing hardware for this mission is being built by the Russians, but its key sensor technologies, such as the descent radar, are being developed in Europe and will be tested on a demonstration landing in late 2016. ESA director general Jean-Jacques Dordain told BBC News: 'We have already taken a lot of lessons from the "failure" of Beagle and, especially, on the need to be connected, because if we had been connected in terms of communications we would have known we were on Planet Mars.' And reflecting on Colin Pillinger's role in the project he added: 'It's a pity that he is not with us any more, because this was his baby. And I'm really glad [it's been found] for him.'

Sarah Brightman has missed the start of the space training which will allow her to travel to the International Space Station. Brightman travelled to Russia for nine months of training, but has delayed the start date by a week. Russia's space agency says that it is 'confident' she will be ready for the planned ten-day trip in October. The fifty four-year-old singer is believed to be paying around thirty four million quid to become the eighth space tourist. 'She has gone away for family reasons, but she promised to be in Moscow on Sunday,' Alexei Krasnov, the head of manned flights at the Russian space agency, told TASS state news agency. The Phantom Of The Opera star who once, infamously, lost her heart to a starship trooper, is understood to be suffering from a cold.

Now, dear blog readers will have, no doubt, read about the right old kerfuffle what's currently going on with regard to Cadbury's Cream Eggs and the changes in both recipe and size of pack which have recently been initiated by Kraft, the American owners of Cadbury's. It's a subject which has been widely discussed in the media. Even the Economist, a publication which seldom features much venn diagram crossover with From The North has had its say on this vexed matter and what a right load of shenanigans and malarkey it has caused. As far as this blogger is concerned, his message to Kraft is very simply. There are some things in life that you just do not mess with. Get it effing sorted, pronto, or there's gonna be serious bother.
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping spent a horribly frustrating thirty six hours on Thursday and Friday of last week where he quite simply couldn't get online due to a variety of 'connectability issues'; most of which were not of his making (although, sadly, one - and, a pretty important one at that - was). It's all sorted now, obviously - since you're reading this bloggerisationism update, dear blog reader - but it took two lengthy phone calls to Demon's not-very-helpful-desk to make it so. (God only knows how ginormous the next Stately Telly Topping phone bill will be as a consequence.) This malarkey also does go to illustrate nicely what a risible, shallow and pointless life yer actual Keith Telly Topping appears to lead these days where for a day and a half because he couldn't get onto Facebook, or the blog, or iPlayer he spent the majority of his time wandering around the drum like somebody with one arm cut off. Oh, for those simple days before the invention of the Interweb, dear blog reader, where this blogger had 'stuff to do' which didn't involve a sticky keyboard and a temperamental router. Mind you, Keith Telly Topping didn't completely waste the day. He used some of this unexpected free time to scan in a pile of old family photos that he found at Mama Telly Topping's gaff after she died and which he'd previously stuck in a cupboard and then almost forgotten about. Including this one, from the 1971-72 period in the back garden at Wigmore Avenue. Keith Telly Topping wonders what happened this cheekily sweet and naive little chap and his pre-teen dreams of one day being a top pop star (like Mister Noddy Big Hat out of Slade), or a left-winger for his beloved although, even then, unsellable Magpies, or an astronaut. Or the next Doctor. Life, dear blog reader. Don't talk to yer actual Keith Telly Topping about life ...
And so to the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Here's something that yer actual small Keith Telly Topping was probably listening to around the time that photograph was taken (or, shortly thereafter, anyway). On the family dansette. Introduced on Christmas Top Of The Pops by The Beard Of Despair wearing a really stupid green hat. Forget Operation Yewtree, somebody call the Fashion Police. Meanwhile, shake yer glitter, Marc.

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