Saturday, March 07, 2015

I Remember Finding Out About You

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat has confirmed that yer actual Jenna Coleman had planned to leave Doctor Who at the end of its eighth series last year. The actress was widely rumoured to be leaving her role as Clara but didn't, and will rejoin Peter Capaldi his very self for the upcoming ninth run. Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods A'fore He) has told Doctor Who Magazine that series eight closer Death In Heaven was originally intended to feature Jenna's final appearance in the BBC's long-running popular family SF drama. 'That was her last episode,' he said. 'And then, she asked me if she could be in [the] Christmas [special]. So I said, "Okay, I'll write you out in Christmas." She came to the read through and did the "write out" version - and, again, changed her mind.' Despite Clara's ever-changing fate, Moffat his very self insisted that he 'never wanted [her] to go. I didn't really want Death In Heaven to be her last episode,' he said. 'And with Last Christmas, I'd already written the alternative version where she stayed and I preferred that version. Frankly, I didn't want to lose her. She's an amazing actress and she never stops working to make Clara better. I was very happy to go the extra mile to make sure we could keep her.'
The new edition of Doctor Who Magazine also features The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat reflecting on last year's series and on how The Doctor might change in the next season. 'We're not bringing him back exactly as we left him, at all, I think that was already evident at Christmas. He's left some of the burden of being a superhero of the universe behind. So I'm pushing him – I'm writing quite funny this year – I'm pushing him the other way.
Behind every good Doctor - and, The Crap One, for that matter - is a great woman. Or, in the case of The Crap One, Nicola Bryant and Bonnie Langford. Whether it's Sarah Jane Smith, Donna Noble, Rose Tyler, Amy Pond or the Time Lord's current companion Clara, adventures in time and space just wouldn't be the same without the women of Doctor Who. And, let's not forget the many ladies behind the scenes who have made the show great over the years, from Verity Lambert and Delia Derbyshire to Julie Gardner, the show owes a huge debt to its brilliant women. To mark International Women's Day on Sunday the BBC released this picture of all the women currently hard at work on series nine. Nice to see Michelle Gomez front and centre next to Jenna Coleman.
On a marginally related theme, some of the BBC's best-known female presenters have 'got off their backsides to get active.' Gabby Logan, Suzi Perry, Jo Whiley, Helen Skelton and Louise Minchin are a few of the twenty plus familiar faces featured in a trailer for This Girl Can - a national campaign to inspire women of all ages to exercise and which was also released on International Women's Day. Whether this entirely excellent endeavour will be followed by some of the Beeb's more lardy chaps being pictured an a sofa eating crisps as part of a Turns Out This Bloke Can't campaign is not, at this time, known,

ITV's new historical drama Arthur & George was the most-watched programme apart from the soaps on Monday, overnight data has shown. The Martin Clunes vehicle - which was all right but hardly earth-shattering - brought in an average 5.29 million overnight viewers at 9pm. Earlier, Wor Geet Canny Robson Green's More Tales From Northumberland featuring Wor Geet Canny Robson Green His very Self appealed to 3.11m at 8pm. On BBC1, Inside Out interested 3.57m at 7.30pm, while Panorama was seen by 2.37m at 8.30pm. Crimewatch had an audience of 3.33m at 9pm. Don't have nightmares. BBC2's University Challenge was watched by a bumper 3.09m punters at 8pm, followed by another terrific episode of Only Connect with 2.56m at 8.30pm. A Cook Abroad gathered 1.76m at 9pm, while Let's Play Darts For Comic Relief had 1.61m at 10pm. On Channel Four, Dispatches had an audience of 1.07m at 8pm, while Food Unwrapped was seen by 1.39m at 8.30pm. NHS: Two Billion A Week & Counting attracted seven hundred and seven thousand at 9pm. Channel Five's Police Interceptors brought in eight hundred and sixty nine thousand at 8pm, followed by Benefits: Life On The Dole with 1.51m at 9pm and Ten Thousand BC with six hundred and seventy thousand at 10pm. On FOX, The Walking Dead was watched by seven hundred and seven thousand punters at 9pm.
Channel Four's Drugs Live experiment brought in over one million overnight viewers on a pretty quiet Tuesday evening across all channels. The Jon Snow-fronted show, which had been the subject of much pre-publicity, was seen by an average of 1.26m at 10pm. Earlier, Mary Portas: Secret Shopper appealed to 1.35m at 8pm, followed by The Romanians Are Coming with 1.20m at 9pm. BBC1's The ONE Show was the most-watched programme outside soaps with 4.23m at 7pm which, in and of itself, gives one an idea of just how quiet a night it was. The Gift brought in 2.67m at 9pm and, blimey, what a right flop that's turned out to be. If only someone had predicted before the series started that it would turn out to be such a pile of rancid phlegm. Oh, wait a minute, this blogger did. On BBC2, Natural World attracted 2.11m at 8pm, followed by Horizon with 1.80m at 9pm and Let's Play Darts For Comic Relief with 1.55m at 10pm. ITV's River Monsters interested 1.94m at 7.30pm, while Bargain Fever Britain gathered 2.58m at 8pm. Exposure was watched by just 1.28m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Costa Del Casualty attracted seven hundred and ninety six thousand at 8pm, followed by Killer Psychopaths: The Suffolk Strangler with eight hundred and three thousand at 9pm.

The Great Comic Relief Bake Off bounced back in the overnight ratings on Wednesday. The latest episode of the BBC1 show - this one featuring that awful, hideous Wood woman - rose by around six hundred thousand viewers from the previous episode - when it went up against ITV's Brit Awards coverage - attracting an average 6.56 million at 8pm. Later, Match of the Day scored 2.28m at 10.35pm. A damn sight more than yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Magpies scored in their catastrophic home defeat to The Scum, with all the hockling and that. On BBC2, Suffragettes Forever brought in eight hundred thousand at 8pm, followed by This World with four hundred and seventy thousand at 9pm and Let's Play Darts For Comic Relief with 1.20m at 10pm. ITV's horrifically dreadful and nasty Big Star's Little Star was watched by a satisfyingly low audience of 2.93m at 8pm, while DCI Banks returned with 4.01m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Location, Location, Location appealed to 1.19m at 8pm, followed by Twenty Four Hours In A&E with 1.65m at 9pm. Being Bipolar interested eight hundred and ninety three thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's GPs Behind Closed Doors attracted nine hundred and fifty two thousand at 8pm, while My Violent Child was seen by 1.03m at 9pm.

Nearly three hundred thousand people watched India's Daughter, the controversial Storyville documentary on the gang-rape of a young woman in Delhi, after its broadcast was brought forward by the BBC. The film, which had been due to be shown on BBC4 on International Women’s Day on Sunday, had an audience of two hundred and eighty six thousand viewers, a two per cent share of the available audience, between 10pm and 11pm on Wednesday. Delhi authorities had banned the broadcast of the film in India, prompting its British director Leslee Udwin to call on the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, to 'deal with the unceremonious silencing of the film.' The BBC said that it had brought forward the broadcast 'given the intense level of interest in the Storyville film', enabling viewers to 'see this incredibly powerful documentary at the earliest opportunity.' A spokesperson said on Thursday that the BBC had received thirty two complaints about the film - although Christ only knows what the thirty two whingers were whinging about - while four viewers had contacted the BBC in support of the film. Based on the brutal rape in December 2012 of twenty three-year-old physiotherapy student Jyoti Singh, Udwin's documentary includes interviews with one of the men convicted for the dreadful crime, who is now in prison and waiting for the supreme court to hear his appeal against the death sentence. It was the highest rating documentary in BBC4's Storyville series so far this year, with a five-minute peak of three hundred and fifty two thousand viewers. It was broadly in line with the ratings average for that particular slot. The BBC said that the film, which seeks to explore the crime and the cultural context in which it was committed, provided a 'revealing insight into a horrific crime that sent shock waves around the world and led to protests across India demanding changes in attitudes towards women.'

BBC2's new drama Banished launched with over three million overnight viewers on Thursday evening. The series - written by bitter old whinging Red Jimmy McGovern and starring Russell Tovey - attracted an average 3.40m at 9pm. How many of those will be back to watch episode two is not, at this time, known. Earlier, The Great British Sewing Bee appealed to 2.96m at 8pm, while Let's Play Darts For Comic Relief was watched by 1.48m at 10pm. BBC1's DIY SOS was the most-watched programme on Thursday outside soaps with 3.64m at 8pm. The People's Strictly was seen by 3.07m at 9pm, while Question Time brought in 2.39m at 10.35pm. On ITV, conceptually mind-numbing clip-show The Nation's Favourite Seventies Number One failed too entertain 2.86m at 8.30pm. Channel Four's Supervet gathered 1.49m at 8pm, followed by the latest episode of Cucumber with six hundred and thirty two thousand at 9pm. On Channel Five, Britain's Worst Crimes was seen by four hundred and sixty two thousand at 8pm, while Britain's Biggest Primary School had five hundred and seventy one thousand viewers at 9pm. The Mentalist attracted six hundred and seventy four thousand at 10pm. Sky Atlantic's Fortitude brought in three hundred and ninety thousand at 9pm.

Thursday also saw the final episode of BBC4's Saints and Sinners: Britain's Millennium of Monasteries which was thoroughly excellent, as always. But, it did rather highlight the documentary's unfortunate habit of allowing its cameraman - presumably under orders from the director - to film lots of close-up shots of Janina Ramirez's shapely calves.
Now, do not get this blogger wrong dear blog reader, no one - and I mean no one - admires a nice shapely calf more than yer actual Keith Telly Topping. Oh no, perish the thought. But, having half-a-dozen such shots per episode in a three-part series does, rather, risk opening up the production to the accusation of objectification of the calves in question. And, especially in a programme with a quasi-religious subject matter such as this, the fact that the calf-bone's connected to the foot-bone should, perhaps, have been taken into account. After all, feet have soles too. Okay, I'll get me coat ...
Gogglebox's overnight audience rose to 3.39m on Friday. The Channel Four show's ratings were up slightly on the previous week's audience of 3.28m. Earlier in the evening, the channel's coverage of Crufts was seen by 1.32m, while First Dates returned at 10pm to 1.51m. BBC1's primetime schedule opened with The ONE Show at 7pm - the highest-rated primetime programme outside of soaps - with 3.81m. Later 3.02m watched Inside Out at 7.30pm. Room 101 had 2.54m at 8.30pm, while 3.03m watched the latest episode of The Musketeers at 9pm. The Graham Norton Show, featuring Jennifer Saunders, David Walliams, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Jack Dee and Johnny Vegas, had an overnight audience of to 3.34m. On ITV, Bear Grylls' celebrity endurance show Mission Survive was up slightly on last week with 3.08m at 9pm, while it was preceded by Barging Round Britain at 8pm with 3.04m. BBC2's evening programming opened with Wanted In Paradise (eight hundred and ten thousand) at 7pm, followed by 1.97m for Mastermind at 8pm. Gardeners' World was seen by 2.23m at 8.30pm and Nelson: In His Own Words, a drama documentary about Horatio Nelson, had 1.03m at 9pm. The second semi-final of Let's Play Darts For Comic Relief attracted an audience of 1.54m at 10pm. Channel Five's highest-rated programme of the evening was NCIS: New Orleans, with nine hundred and twenty one thousand at 9pm. NCIS continued with eight hundred and seventeen thousand at 10pm.

The Voice continued its reign over Saturday evenings - and piss all over Ant and/or Dec into the bargain - with almost seven million overnight viewers. An average of 6.99m tuned-in for the latest Battle Rounds episode, slightly down on last week's overnight figure of 7.23m. The BBC's singing competition was preceded by Match Of The Day Live, attracting 3.98m from 5.15pm to 7.30pm as Aston Villains played West Bromwich Albinos and there was a geet rive-on at the end with kids gettin' sparked and aal sorts. Which, frankly, was a shade more entertaining than the match itself. Casualty played to 4.89m at 9.30pm. ITV's schedule led with Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway from 7pm, being watched by 5.94m until 8.30pm. Take Me Out followed with 3.20m, while The Jonathan Ross Show was watched by 2.09m from 10pm to 11pm. Reginald D Hunter's Songs Of The South was the most watched programme on BBC2, with an average of 1.38m viewers between 9.30pm and 10.30pm. Dad's Army attracted 1.28m from 8.30pm, followed by 1.31m for a repeat of Qi. On Channel Four, two hours of Crufts coverage from 7pm attracted 1.26m dog lovers. Angelina Jolie's action thriller Salt had an audience of 1.12m at 9pm. Meanwhile, Channel Five had eight hundred and eighty four thousand at 9pm with an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. On the multichannels, Foyle's War gave ITV3 nine hundred and four thousand.

BBC1's Poldark adaptation starring Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson began with nearly seven million overnight viewers on Sunday, nearly twice the number of punters who watched ITV stuttering rival Mr Selfridge. Poldark - well acted and gorgeous to look at even if a few of the accents were a wee bit Teutonic Mummerset - started with 6.9 million viewers, a twenty nine per cent share of the available audience from 9pm. It helped that it followed the final episode of the fourth series of Call The Midwife, which attracted 8.7 million viewers. Poldark easily had the better of ITV's department store drama Mr Selfridge, starring Jeremy Piven and Zoe Wanamaker, which had 3.24 million viewers. Poldark also topped BBC1's recent JK Rowling adaptation A Casual Vacancy, which it replaced in the Sunday night slot. A Casual Vacancy began with 6.6 million overnight viewers last month, ending its three-part run with 4.6 million. Earlier in the evening, Countryfile interested 6.55 million at 7pm. Channel Four's big Sunday night drama, Indian Summers, suffered its fourth successive slide in its overnight audience being watched by 1.04 million. Already recommissioned for a second series, the period drama launched with 2.9 million last month before slipping to 2.2 million for its second episode and 1.8 million for its third. It found itself up against BBC2's charity fund raiser, Let's Play Darts For Comic Relief, which had 2.5 million viewers. The darts, like Poldark, benefited from what was on before it, following the popular Top Gear, which watched by 5.1 million viewers from 8pm. Much, as usual, to a chagrin of various Middle Class hippy Communist pond scum lice at the Gruniad Morning Star. Earlier, The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway continued with 1.21m at 7pm. Elsewhere, it was a below par night for ITV, with Off Their Rockers gathering 3.24m at 7.30pm and All Star Family Fortunes continuing with 3.02m at 8pm. Channel Four's coverage of Crufts averaged 1.64m between 7pm and 9pm. Channel Five's showing of the film Hitch was watched by six hundred and ninety two thousand at 7pm. The Twenty One Jump Street movie proved more popular with 1.13m viewers at 9pm.

Aidan Turner, star of Being Human, The Hobbit and now Poldark, was mobbed at a BFI screening of the BBC's Eighteen Century costume drama adaptation, after which much of the Q&A was devoted to a nude swimming scene already talked of as the Irish actor's 'Colin Firth moment.' Mystery, however, surrounds the origins of the splendid full-body tan this scene shows off, which suits the drama's Cornish setting. Asked to name her favourite scene, Aidan's co-star, Eleanor Tomlinson, who plays Demelza, couldn't come up with one but instead mentioned that 'watching Aidan get spray-tanned' was 'interesting.' 'That didn't happen! She's lying, that did not happen!' Turner insisted, failing to dispel the impression as he continued that he was protesting too much.
Turner has also admitted that the cast of the period drama were 'scared' of mumbling complaints during filming. The actor said that the - mostly media created - furore around last year's Jamaica Inn adaptation affected the cast. Hundreds of viewers whinged about 'sound issues' during the first episode of Jamaica Inn, with some suggesting the problems came from cast members 'mumbling their lines.' Turner told the Radio Times: 'I didn't see the show Jamaica Inn but the fuss about it spooked us all a lot. We started shooting a few weeks later and I can tell you all the actors were aiming for ten out of ten on enunciation. I'm doing posh RP anyway so it didn't really affect me directly but I was scared.'
And, then there's the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Seven programmes for week-ending Sunday 1 March 2015:-
1 Call The Midwife - Sun BBC1 - 10.13m
2 Broadchurch - Mon ITV - 9.55m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.70m
4 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.68m
5 The Voice - Sat BBC1 - 8.47m
6 Death In Paradise - Thurs BBC1 - 8.30m
7 The Great Comic Relief Bake Off - Wed BBC1 - 7.92m
8 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.13m
9 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.11m
10 Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway - Sat ITV - 7.00m
11 Top Gear - Sun BBC2 - 6.15m
12 The Brit Awards - Wed ITV - 5.99m
13 The Casual Vacancy - Sun BBC1 - 5.67m
14 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.66m
15= Six O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 5.23m
15= UEFA Champions League Live - Tues ITV - 5.23m
17 Rugby Six Nations - Sun BBC1 - 5.14m
18 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Thurs - 4.98m
19 BBC News - Sat BBC1 - 4.94m
20 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.74m
21 The ONE Show - Tues BBC1 - 4.68m
22 The Graham Norton Show - Fri BBC1 - 4.60m
23 DIY SOS: The Big Build - Thurs BBC1 - 4.47m
24 The Big Painting Challenge - Sun BBC1 - 4.43m
25 Gogglebox - Fri Channel Four - 4.39m
26 The People's Strictly For Comic Relief - Wed BBC1 - 4.15m
27 Mr Selfridge - Sun ITV - 4.14m*
These figures, as usual, do not include iPlayer or ITV Player viewers. ITV programmes marked '*' also do not include HD figures. On BBC2, apart from Top Gear (the Monday repeat of which added a further 1.50m viewers to the six million plus who watched the episode on Sunday), the final episode of Wolf Hall was watched by 3.74 million punters. The opening of Let's Play Dart For Comic Relief on Sunday night attracted 3.36m. The Great British Sewing Bee had 3.28 million, followed by University Challenge (3.15m), Only Connect (2.79m), the second episode of Reinventing The Royals (2.05m) and Mastermind (1.89m). Gogglebox was, by a huge distance, Channel Four's most watched programme of the week, followed by Indian Summers (2.72m) and Twenty Four Hours In A&E (2.16m). Channel Five's top-rated broadcasts were Benefits Britain: Life On The Dole (2.08m), and their quartet of popular US drama imports NCIS: New Orleans (1.47m), CSI (1.40m), The Mentalist (1.34m) and NCIS (1.30m), a sequence broken only by the channel's showing of the movie Total Recall (1.36m). Midsomer Murders was ITV3's most-watched drama with 1.08 million viewers, followed by Foyle's War (nine hundred and seventy three thousand). Wolf Hall: The Inside Story was BBC4's highest-rated progamme (eight hundred and thirty three thousand), followed by Norman Wisdom: His Story (five hundred and seventy three thousand). Digging For Ireland drew four hundred and seventy two thousand. The Israeli drama Hostages was watched by four hundred and fourteen thousand., whilst repeats of two of BBC4's most acclaimed documentary series, A Very British Murder With Lucy Worsley and Pain, Pus & Poison: The Search For Modern Medicines had four hundred and fifty seven thousand and four hundred and thirty four thousand respectively. BBC3's most-watched programmes were Bangkok Airport (eight hundred and twenty four thousand) and Waterloo Road (six hundred and ninety nine thousand). The FOX Channel's latest episode of The Walking Dead's fifth series had 1.13 million viewers whilst NCIS's twelfth series continued with seven hundred and sixty seven thousand. The Universal Channel's most watched show was Law & Order: Special Victims Unit with one hundred and forty nine thousand. Sky Atlantic's fifth episode of Fortitude drew 1.15 million viewers on Thursday (the following evening's repeat added one hundred and twenty six thousand). Sky 1's The Flash had 1.09m, just ahead of Arrow (nine hundred and fifty one thousand). Sky Sports 1's Live Ford Super Sunday coverage of the Premier League game between the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws and Sheikh Yer Man City was one of the most watched broadcasts on multchannels (1.31m), fractionally ahead of the same channel's coverage of the Capital One Cup Final later the same day (1.29m). ITV4's Europa League Live coverage drew 1.78m. For the third week running, none of the UK TV channels (Blighty, Dave, Drama, Yesterday et cetera), appear to have presented BARB with their figures for this week. For which, presumably, they with be severely punished. With stun grenades and acid.

BBC2's acclaimed Hilary Mantel adaptation Wolf Hall has become the channel's most popular drama since the modern TV ratings system began thirteen years ago. The six-part series, starring Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, Damian Lewis as Henry VIII and Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn, had an average of 4.4 million viewers a week, a sixteen per cent share of the available audience. It was just ahead of the channel's previous biggest rating drama, its 2002 adaptation of Sarah Waters' Tipping the Velvet. Peter Kosminsky, the Wolf Hall director, previously better known for gritty social drama, said: 'I grew up in a three channel era when you really could say that a significant proportion of the population was simultaneously watching the latest TV drama. It's therefore such a thrill to learn today that Wolf Hall has broken BBC2's own "box office record". Many millions of people made the choice to watch a difficult, challenging, highly political drama that only the BBC could make. I think that bodes well for the future.' Wolf Hall is only one of five BBC2 dramas since 2002 to have averaged more than four million viewers in the consolidated ratings. More than half of the channel's top ten dramas were broadcast in the last three years, including both series of the Gillian Anderson thriller The Fall and two series of Jed Mercurio's acclaimed police drama, Line Of Duty. A new ratings system was introduced in the UK in 2002. Steven Spielberg's Band Of Brothers, broadcast on BBC2 in 2001, also averaged 4.4 million viewers. The BBC2 controller, Kim Shillinglaw, said: 'Enabling programme makers to produce their very best, most authored work is exactly what I want BBC2 to do and I'm delighted that the Wolf Hall team achieved it so magnificently.'

Things have been tough at Newsnight, according to some pond scum louse of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star, what with star-signing from ITV Laura Kuenssberg currently on an extended leave and Paxo's replacement, Evan Davis, recently having Jon Snow damn him with faint praise with the comment: 'He's very good on the radio.' But at least the demoralised programme is showing signs of buoyant creativity in devising 'nugs' (that's plugs posing as news). This blogger is unaware, for instance, of anyone previously pulling off two plugs in a single 'news' item, like last Tuesday's Kirsty Wark interview publicising both Wednesday's Wolf Hall finale and her own offering Wolf Hall: The Inside Story which followed it on BBC4.

The BBC has announced plans for a new production division called BBC Studios. Director General Tony Hall outlined a new strategy which will be created within the public service, independent of BBC Television its very self. The move aims to give production 'greater visibility within the BBC and an increased autonomy over its long-term strategy,' apparently. Whatever that means. Speaking at Broadcasting House on Monday, Lord Hall said: 'One only has to look at the incredible richness and range of the current BBC Production portfolio, from a reinvigorated EastEnders to world leading natural history, shows like Strictly that bring the nation together, award-winning comedy and drama and of course our music and arts programming - a range no other studio can match - to understand how important it is that we ensure BBC Production continues to flourish creatively in the future.' The leader of the division will report directly to Hall and sit on the BBC Executive Team. Hall also proposed plans to, eventually, grant BBC Studios the ability to offer programmes to any broadcaster around the world and in the UK. However, genres such as children's and sport will not be included in the new proposals as they have different production models. If BBC Studios were to move into the commercial market, it would require BBC Trust approval and a change to the BBC's Royal Charter. Lord Hall said: 'A successful BBC Production is vital to the BBC's future. It provides a source of well-loved programmes and enables us to meet our public service aims. I want BBC Studios to play a great part in this new golden age of broadcasting. This is important. We want to get it right. We will get it right. And we'll take our time to ensure we do just that.' It has also been proposed that the requirement for fifty per cent of BBC programming to be produced in-house would be dropped. Hall also spoke about the possibility of changing the licence fee to include those who only watch TV on catch-up services.

Idris Elba will be joined by Rose Leslie, Laura Haddock and Darren Boyd in a new two-part Luther special. Elba's John Luther will be 'pitted against his most chilling adversary yet, haunted by the ghosts of his past and hell-bent on retribution.' The excellent Michael Smiley (Benny Silver) and Dermot Crowley (Martin Schenk) will also reprise their roles from the previous series, though the BBC is yet to confirm if fan-favourite Ruth Wilson will be back as the completely mad murderess Alice Morgan. Elba said: 'It's great we've been able to do this Luther special. John is so close to my heart, he's part of me. The fans won't be disappointed with his return – it's explosive and definitely goes up a gear!' The series creator Neil Cross returns to write the new Luther episodes, which are currently shooting in East London.
Chris Chibnall has hit back at Broadchurch critics, defending series two's portrayal of the trial process. In a column for the Gruniad morning Star, the writer insisted that the ITV thriller's latest episodes - which saw Joe Miller on trial for the murder of Danny Latimer - were 'devised as the result of months of research and consultation. Before we started to plot or write, we researched trials of the past twenty years and attended criminal proceedings,' he explained. 'Alongside a respected police adviser from the first series, we brought on highly-qualified, experienced and practising members of the legal profession. Critics argued the defence wouldn't be allowed to suggest Mark Latimer (played by Andrew Buchan) as an alternate killer. Our advisers were - and remain (I checked) - adamant on this: if they were defending, they could and would run this approach. Others thought the cross-examination of Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) in the witness box was unrealistic: our police adviser told me, after watching: "I've been there, that's exactly what it's like." Of course, in the legal profession, every opinion is open to argument. But we were not cavalier.' Chibnall did acknowledge that it was 'a big risk' to have the second series revolve around a court case, but argued: 'Broadchurch has always been about the impact of crime, on all those affected. I knew it would be a big risk to develop and reshape the show this way,' he continued. 'It would also mean taking a different approach to legal drama: favouring the experience and point of view of the victim's family. So court scenes would only be one component. That choice meant complex procedure had to be compressed. Every writer has compressed time and procedure and used clarifying dialogue. That's not a scandal: it's a legitimate dramatic technique. Lawyers have howled their objections in the press (they're professional advocates, after all). That's fine. Such criticism is not unique to Broadchurch: legal dramas have always been attacked by lawyers. We knew it would happen and were steeled for it.' A third series - again starring yer actual David Tennant and Olivia Colman her very self - has already been commissioned.
Olivia Colman and Tom Hollander have joined the cast of The Night Manager. Elizabeth Debicki will also star in the BBC adaptation of John le Carré's novel. Huge Laurie and Tom Hiddleston have already been announced as part of the cast for the series, which will be shown on AMC in the US. Colly will play an intelligence operative named Burr who recruits British soldier Jonathan Pine (played by Hiddleston) to investigate Whitehall and Washington's intelligence communities. Pine must infiltrate the inner circle of lethal arms dealer Richard Onslow Roper (Laurie). Debicki will play Roper's girlfriend, Jed, while Hollander will appear as one of his associates, Corcoran. An espionage novel published in 1993, the story also follows Pine as he works as the night auditor of a luxurious hotel. The novel's very good so, hopefully, this televising of it will be too. Certainly with a cast of that quality, it's got a good chance. Filming on The Night Manager will begin in the spring ahead of broadcast in early 2016.

From The North favourite Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar are to lead a new ITV drama series. Unforgotten will be a six-part series written by Undeniable's Chris Lang and will focus on a thirty nine-year-old murder case. The bones of a young man are discovered below a demolished house, prompting an investigation which 'rocks the lives' of four people who have been waiting for this moment to come. Yer actual Trevor Eve, Bernard Hill his very self, Ruth Sheen and Tom Courtenay will also star in the drama. Walker and Bhaskar will play the lead roles of DCI Cassie Stuart and DS Sunil Khan, who will look into the case and speak to the four main suspects. The drama will be set in different areas of the UK, including the London suburbs, the Essex coast, Westminster and the Fens. Other supporting cast members include Nicola's [spooks] colleague Gemma Jones, Brian Bovell, Cherie Lunghi, Hannah Gordon, Eve's former Waking The Dead co-star Claire Goose, Tamzin Malleson, Frances Tomelty and Peter Egan. Oooo, quality cast. Unforgotten will begin shooting later this month and ITV will announce broadcast dates in the coming months. Looking forward to the that one.

Katherine Parkinson is to join new BBC family comedy The Kennedys. The IT Crowd actress will play Brenda Kennedy in the new six-part, 1970s-set comedy, with Dan Skinner playing her husband, Tony. The multi-generation comedy is created and written by actress, writer and TV presenter Emma Kennedy and is loosely based on Kennedy's memoirs The Tent, The Bucket & Me. Each episode will be introduced by a young Emma (played by Lucy Hutchison), a ten-year-old Star Wars obsessed tomboy who has a good relationship with her parents. The show sees the Kennedy family move to a new estate in Stevenage. Delighted at the prospect of being considered Middle Class, the Kennedys soon get to work organising activities for their new neighbourhood. The sitcom also features the family's best friends, unmarried couple Tim (Toast of London's Harry Peacock) and Jenny (Emma Pierson). Shola Adewusi and Clive Rowe will also appear as the Kennedys' unassuming neighbours, Dee and David. Kennedy said of the comedy: 'I grew up on a council estate when they were places of aspirational wonder. Social housing was simply the greatest start in life a young family could have, and in The Kennedys I hope I have delivered a series that reflects that hope and joy. It's been a sharp thrill from start to finish.' The Kennedys begins filming this week and will be broadcast on BBC1 later this year.

JK Rowling has admitted to crying while watching The Casual Vacancy. Blimey, this blogger wasn't bowled over by it either, chuck, but didn't think it was that bad.
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Tracey Ullman is to return to the BBC with her own comedy series, some thirty years after she was last a regular face on British TV. The actress, writer and singer, who has enjoyed decades of success in America, said it was 'a privilege' to be back. Her six-part series, The Tracey Ullman Show, is part of a raft of new comedy commissions announced by the BBC. Other programmes include a Rory Bremner erection special and a new series starring yer actual Ben Miller. Ullman last appeared on the BBC in A Kick Up The Eighties and Three Of A Kind in the early and mid-1980s. The fact that the latter featured Lenny Henry back when he was still reasonably funny demonstrates just how long ago it was. She also starred in ITV absolutely awful sitcom Girls On Top with French and Saunders and Ruby Wax, before emigrating to the United States. She later created The Tracey Ullman Show for the US FOX network, winning several EMMY and Golden Globe awards. The show famously spawned the cartoon series The Simpsons, which started out as short sketches either side of commercial breaks on The Tracy Ullman Show. 'It's a privilege to be doing this,' said Ullman of her new BBC series. 'I still feel as inspired to inhabit people as I did when I was six, standing on the windowsill in my mother's bedroom, putting on a show. The BBC has changed a bit since the last time I worked here, when it was all men in bow ties who had completed National Service. Now there are a lot more women,' she continued. 'Great ones. The important things haven't changed, though. The BBC still provides an environment that allows you to the freedom to create the best shows possible.' 'It's about time the Americans gave her back,' said Shane Allen, controller of BBC comedy commissioning. 'Tracey has been the missing gem in the British comedy crown for too long. Talent doesn't come much bigger and the BBC audience is in for a huge treat.' Other comedy commissions announced on Wednesday of this week include I Want My Wife Back, a six-part BBC1 series with Ben Miller as a man whose wife walks out on their marriage on her fortieth birthday. BBC2, meanwhile, will broadcast a one-off programme to celebrate the twenty five-year comedy partnership of Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse. The channel will also make Rory Bremner's Election Report, described as 'a timely post-election special' and a pilot sketch show for impressionist Morgana Robinson. In addition, BBC1 will host the annual Ronnie Barker Comedy Lecture. It will given by a key comedy figure 'to help inspire others, as well as addressing the present day challenges and opportunities facing the industry.' The inaugural speaker is yet to be announced.

The BBC has spent twenty nine per cent less on employees earning more than one hundred grand a year over the past five years, an independent review has revealed. Overall spending on talent - those with an on-air or on-screen presence - was down fifteen per cent, from two hundred and twenty one million smackers to one hundred and eighty eight million. The review said that the BBC had made 'vast improvements' in managing talent pay. But it also made some recommendations, including improving monitoring of diversity of talent and improving use of data on the deals it makes. The Oliver & Ohlbaum review concluded the BBC's savings were down to 'a more relaxed approach' to exclusivity, learning to let top stars leave and paying less. Presenters were also producing more output on different programmes for the same level of pay. The review pointed out that while household names such as Jake Humphrey, Susanna Reid and Chris Moyles had left the corporation, the BBC had still 'maintained the quality of output for licence fee payers.'

ITV has reported a big rise in profits for 2014. Pre-tax profits - including exceptional items - rose thirty nine per cent to six hundred and five million knicker for the year to 31 December. 'ITV delivered another strong performances in 2014,' said chief executive Adam Crozier. 'All parts of the business are progressing well.' The firm announced a full-year dividend of 4.7p, up thirty four per cent, and proposed a two hundred and fifty million quid special dividend worth 6.25p a share. Revenue rose eight per cent, while net advertising revenue rose six per cent. Non advertising revenue rose ten per cent to £1.3bn, boosted by a thirty per cent increase in the company's online, pay and interactive division and a nine per cent increase in revenue to nine hundred and thirty three million knicker at its production arm ITV Studios. The acquisitions of US TV companies Leftfield Entertainment and DiGa Vision in 2014 helped ITV Studios boost international revenue to nearly half the total. During the year, ITV also launched new channels - ITV Encore, its first pay-only channel and ITVBe, a free-to-air channel targeting a young female audience. As well as popular dramas such as Downton Abbey and Doc Martin, ITV will broadcast the Rugby World Cup exclusively in the autumn. Mind you, a series of expensive flops in early 2015 - Harry Hill's Stars In Their Eyes, Get Your Shit Together, Planet's Got Toilets - suggest that they might want to make plans for the next set of profits to be considerably smaller. Commenting on the results, Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said: 'The group's push to embrace technology continues to be rewarded, underlined by a twenty six per cent increase in viewing for its video-on-demand offering during 2014.'

Waterloo Road co-creator Eileen Gallagher has whinged that the axing of the school-based BBC drama is 'a lost opportunity.' Or, to be slightly more accurate, a lost financial opportunity. For her.

June Whitfield will join the cast of EastEnders for a one-off appearance later this year. The eighty nine-year-old actress will star opposite Kat Moon (Jessie Wallace) in an episode to be broadcast in May, though no further details were given about the nature of her role. Whitfield, a long-time fan of the show, said that she was 'very excited' to be part of the soap. Actress Jan Harvey is also making a cameo on the show, in a role relating to Sharon Mitchell. 'We are extremely privileged to have two British television legends joining us for guest roles as Albert Square heads into the spring,' said the show's executive producer, Dominic Treadwell-Collins. 'Both June and Jan are class acts, bringing warmth and humanity to two characters who will shed some light on the pasts of two of our most iconic women - Sharon Mitchell and Kat Moon - changing both their lives in very different ways.' Whitfield said: 'I have watched EastEnders for years, and have been so impressed by the standard of acting. It was an absolute delight to work with Jessie Wallace and I am very excited to be part of the show.' Harvey, best known for the 1980s avarice soap Howards Way, said that she had 'loved working on such an iconic show. EastEnders is really like one big family,' she added.

Bizarre telly methods of dispatch. Number one (in a series of one): Megan Boone strangling Mad-Crazy Amanda Plummer in a recent episode of The Blacklist with her thighs. Disturbing. And yet curiously erotic.
Channel Five has confirmed the return date for Gotham. The crime series - which is based on the early years of characters in the Batman franchise - will broadcast a double-bill on Monday 16 March at 9pm. The drama took a mid-season break from UK schedules after its tenth episode in December. Of course, yer actual Keith Telly Topping gets review copies of the episodes sent over from the US so he's already about eight episodes ahead of you lot. Just a bit of bragging there, you understand, dear blog reader. It won't happen again.
Meanwhile, the start date of the third series of Hannibal has been announced. And about bloody time.
Downton Abbey's Lord Snooty has claimed that he has 'no say' over when the bafflingly popular drama will end. The series creator said that Downton's future lies in the hands of owners NBC Universal. Speaking about the show's future with the New York Times, Lord Snooty said: 'It's not really my decision. I don't own Downton Abbey now. NBC Universal [which owns Carnival Films] owns Downton Abbey. So I could walk away. But I wouldn't walk away. It's too much my baby.' Lord Snooty added that he is 'not a believer' in dragging shows out for too long, but suggested that he 'can't immediately' say where Downton Abbey's end point will be. However, he was adamant that the show will not explore beyond the Second World War as that 'would be a different series.'

Peter Kay is to star in a new BBC2 comedy based on Danny Baker's excellent autobiography, Going To Sea In A Sieve. Set in 1974, Cradle To Grave will follow the real-life events of Danny and his family across eight eight-minute episodes. Co-written by Jeff Pope and Baker, the series is due to be broadcast on BBC2 later this year. Kay will play Danny's father, South London docker Fred Baker, alongside Lucy Speed as his long-suffering wife, Bet. Whether Fred - who comes over in the biography as a real larger-than-life character - will have suddenly acquired a Bolton accent is not, at this time, known. Though one wouldn't bet against it. Laurie Kynaston will star as a young Danny and Alice Sykes and Frankie Wilson as Danny's siblings, the soon-to-be-married Sharon and her brother Michael. 'I am thrilled and honoured to be involved in a project of this scale,' said Kay. 'I've never known anything like it before - eight period half-hour episodes, shot as feature films and written to an extremely high standard by Danny Baker and Jeff Pope.' '[It's] weird and there's no way around that,' added Dan The Man. 'To see your life played out by actors is always going to be peculiar and also, frankly quite tremendous. I always knew these stories were thunderingly entertaining incidents and that I seemed to be hurtling through a particularly unpredictable, high velocity life peopled by extraordinary characters. Now here they are. This will be a fantastic, rich voyage back to a boisterous often maligned era,' he explained. 'True tales told large - a strong family in a magnificent working class community just getting on with life.'
Broadcasters and Downing Street were at loggerheads on Friday after the television companies made it clear they would press ahead with plans to hold three separate election debates, whether David Cameron took part or not. The networks said that they would go ahead with plans for three debates during the election campaign - two between seven party leaders and one a proposed head-to-head between the prime minister and Ed Milimolimandi. Downing Street described the announcement as 'disappointing' and claimed it was 'willing to discuss the logistics' of Cameron's proposal to take part in one, seven-way debate before the campaign begins. One or two people even believed them. With neither side backing down, it appeared increasingly likely that Cameron would be 'empty chaired.' Cameron - everyone considered him the coward of the county - denied claims that he is 'chicken-shit scared' of TV erection debates, saying that he wanted to 'get on' with his proposal for a seven-way contest. And, also confirming that all those stories about The Jam and The Smiths being his favourite bands were, actually, a load of old crap and, in actual fact, he's a big Kenny Rogers fan. Milimolidmandi - whom, we suspect, always preferred Kajagoogoo - has accused the PM of 'cowering' from the public after he rejected proposals for a head-to-head debate with the Labour leader and being a filthy, stinking coward. Proof, if any were needed that even a broken clock can be right twice a day. The prime minister claimed that the broadcasters were to blame. Yeah, of course. We kind of knew it'd be anybody's fault but Cameron's and his rank and disgraceful cowardice. Meanwhile, the BBC Trust has rejected the Democratic Unionist Party's appeal against its exclusion from the debates. Broadcasters are expected to press ahead with the TV debates and believe that they have strong legal grounds to 'empty-chair' the Tories on the basis that they turned down 'a reasonable invitation to attend'. according to the Gruniad Morning Star. Channel Four, ITV, Sky and the BBC discussed 'a final offer' from No 10 on Thursday, under which Cameron would attend one debate with the leaders of six other parties held the week before parliament's dissolution. Cameron, criticised by other political parties and, you know, normal people, for his reluctance and sickening cowardice, claimed - unconvincingly - that he was only seeking to break the logjam created by the broadcasters' handling of the debates. Alleged 'broadcasting industry insiders' allegedly told the Gruniad Morning Star that they were bound by impartiality rules but were determined that no single party would be able to dictate the terms of the debates. One alleged 'source' allegedly said that the thinking among the broadcasters was that they will hold the debates and if specific people did not want to turn up that would be their own decision. The issue is particularly pertinent for Channel Four and Sky, who were due to broadcast a head-to-head debate between Milimolimandi and Cowardly Cowardly Cameron on 30 April.

Of course, the Torygraph were soon on the case and, according to them, all of this is the BBC's fault. So, no quite sick agenda going down there, then. Headlined TV election debates: Tories go to war over BBC's 'institutional arrogance' the report claims that 'senior Tories are furious with the BBC for attempting to "dictate" the terms of the TV debates ahead of the General Election.' Quite why the BBC are singled out for this treatment when they are one of but four broadcasters who are scheduled to cover the proposed erection debates is unclear. Actually, not, that's not true, it isn't unclear at all. The article, incidentally, gives further opportunity for the odious, hateful pond scum Tory MP - and gobshite - Philip Davies to make his mouth go. This, dear blog reader, in case you hadn't come across him before, is the same Philip Davies who on 7 October 2006, after an act of vandalism which was initially alleged to have been perpetrated by Muslims, was quoted by the Sun as saying 'if there's anybody who should fuck off it's the Muslims who do this sort of thing.' It was later exposed by the Independent, among others, that the incident in question did not, actually, involve any Muslims. The Sun was subsequently forced to issue a - rather grovelling - apology four months later. Davies himself, however, has never apologised for his disgraceful, hate-filled, quasi-Islamophobic comments. Unless he did it very quietly whilst no one was listening. This is also the same Philip Davies who called for the government to 'scrap the Human Rights Act for foreign nationals and chuck them out of the country.' Who said in parliament that disabled workers are 'by definition less productive' and could work for less than the minimum wage. The Conservative party quickly distanced themselves from his comments. This is, also, the same Philip Davies who in March 2007 voted against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations which proposed to allow the Secretary of State to make regulations defining discrimination and harassment on grounds of sexual orientation, create criminal offences. The same Philip Davies who, in March 2011 claimed, wrongly, that there was 'no basis in evidence' that restricting branding on cigarette packets would reduce smoking levels, saying 'I believe that the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes is gesture politics of the worst kind. It would not have any basis in evidence and it would simply be a triumph for the nanny state and an absurd one at that.' He also complained, while calling for a Parliamentary debate on 'political correctness', about a school production of Romeo and Julian during LGBT History month. Davies is also an organiser for the economically right-wing Taxpayers' Alliance, a - small but very vocal - pressure group which claims to 'speak for' taxpayers rights. This, despite the fact that there are in excess of forty million taxpayers in this country (including gay people, disabled people, Muslims, 'foreign nationals' and several other sections of society about whom Davies has made controversial and bigoted comments in the past) and almost none of whom seem to have actually been asked whether they want to be 'spoken for' by this group of clowns. Certainly, this blogger - a tax-payer ever since he left school at the age of eighteen - never got a memo from them. Just so we're clear about this, you people do not, even remotely, speak for me. Glad we got that straight. Anyway, that Philip Davies. I'll tell you what, dear blog reader, if I was the BBC, I'd be absolutely delighted that Philip Davies doesn't, seemingly, approve of pretty much anything they do. Because I'd hate to have odious, poisonous, wretched, waste-of-space, nasty pond scum horrorshow (and drag) like him for a friend.

Reports - albeit, not from anybody that you'd actually trust as far as you can comfortably spit - are claiming that Lara Stone ended her marriage with David Walliams because she didn't like the 'constant talk about David being camp.' The couple's split was reported earlier this week - indeed, for a couple of days that, and the fact that Cheryl Whatsherface-Thingys has a new haircut were pretty much all the tabloids seemed to believe their readers would be interested in - although it has been claimed that Stone and Walliams are on a 'trial separation' for now. An alleged 'friend' allegedly told the Sun that Lara was 'not a fan' of her husband's TV cross-dressing and that his flirting with Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads on Britain's Got Talent, along with his general 'camp' public persona left her 'miffed'. Nice 'friend' you've got there, Lara. That is, of course, if this anonymous alleged friend exists. Which he or she probably doesn't. The alleged - anonymous, and probably fictitious - 'friend' allegedly added: 'She didn't really understand the humour of it. There were obviously lots of issues within their relationship. But it had become clear Lara didn't like the constant talk about David being camp. She got tired of it being referenced all the time, especially when David seemed to play up to it in various photoshoots or TV sketches - or by flirting with Simon Cowell on Britain’s Got Talent.'

ITV daytime show This Morning is to be investigated by media regulator Ofcom after it offered viewers a lesson in 'bondage for beginners' featuring sex toys inspired by hit film, Fifty Shades Of Grey. Ofcom said it had received one hundred and twenty complaints from viewers about the item, fronted by the programme’s regular presenters The Curiously Orange giggling waste-of-space airhead Christine Bleakely and Philip Schofield (sans his gopher) along with self-styled 'sexpert' Annabelle Knight, featuring bondage equipment and other x-rated topics. The regulator said that it was investigating whether the programme was 'suitable for broadcast' before the 9pm watershed. Schofield had warned viewers early in the programme, broadcast on 3 February, that they would be discussing bondage equipment but said that it would be 'done in good taste.'An Ofcom spokesperson said: 'Ofcom has opened an investigation into whether an item about "bondage for beginners" was suitable for broadcast before the watershed.' In this particular case, twelve hours before the watershed. The broadcast featured Schofield and Bleakley discussing the various sex toys while a pair of scantily clad models demonstrated them in the studio. At one point Schofield admitted: 'Sorry, I got distracted.' A spokesperson for the programme said: 'This Morning is a lifestyle programme that covers a diverse range of human interest topics. The programme has dealt with advice on sexual matters many times in the past, and a suitable announcement was given at the start. Many of our items spark debate and we welcome feedback from our viewers about our content.' This Morning is no stranger to controversy, featuring a seventy four-year-old woman having a 'vajacial' live on-air earlier this year and a married couple reviewing sex toys five years ago. However, some of its graphic broadcasts are more public service than others, including Paul Ross's live 'rectal examination' to encourage men to check for prostate cancer in 2011 and a doctor having a smear test live on-air last year to raise awareness of the importance of the examination.
The media watchdog will not investigate the latest series of Celebrity Big Brother, despite receiving thousands of complaints about it. There were two thousand seven hundred and thirty six complaints to Ofcom about the Channel Five Victorian freak show, including seven hundred and fifteen about Perez Hilton's 'sexualised behaviour', four hundred and eighty about his 'threatening behaviour' towards others and two hundred and sixty two about 'racially offensive language' when Ken Morley repeatedly used the word 'negro'. An Ofcom spokesman said: 'Ofcom carefully assessed a number of complaints about this series of Celebrity Big Brother and has decided they do not raise issues warranting further investigation under our rules. We were satisfied Channel Five had broadcast clear and appropriate warnings about the potentially offensive content, and that it intervened in heated exchanges and situations at appropriate times. We also took into account audience expectations for this reality format and the fact that the series was broadcast after the watershed.' Ofcom also received complaints about the way Morley and another contestant, the vile and odious Katie Hopkins, were treated when they subsequently appeared on ITV's Loose Women to discuss the show. The spokesman said: 'Ofcom carefully assessed complaints about the way Ken Morley and Katie Hopkins were treated by panellists during these episodes of Loose Women. We decided that the complaints did not raise issues warranting further investigation under our rules. The show often features heated exchanges between guests and controversial topics. In our view, the behaviour of the panellists was in keeping with the programme's well-established format.' This year's series of Celebrity Big Brother was dogged by controversy with Morley, singer Alexander O'Neal and former Baywatch actor Jeremy Jackson all leaving the house unexpectedly at various points. Morley was extremely evicted for using 'unacceptable language', O'Neal quit following a series of heated exchanges with Hilton and Jackson was booted out after former Page Three model Chloe Goodman claimed that he had drunkenly tried to look at her breasts while they were alone in the toilet. He was subsequently given a police caution for common assault. The show has a history of causing controversy and the previous series was the second most complained-about show of 2014, with eighteen hundred and seventy four people contacting the watchdog about various aspects of it. The only programme with a worse record was the main Big Brother series which received three thousand seven hundred and eighty four complaints, many of them centred on the behaviour of its eventual winner, Helen Wood, who was accused of bullying other contestants. Last year, Ofcom found the main show breached the broadcasting code after a pre-watershed scene where housemates swore fourteen times within fifty seconds.

Sometimes, dear blog reader, the headline writers at the Sunday Sport excel themselves in terms of sheer, unadulterated tastelessness, don't you think?
Celia Imrie has described British TV as 'boring.' The actress said that homegrown dramas are 'falling short' in comparison to US series such as House Of Cards and Homeland. Speaking to Glamour, she said that she found ITV's Broadchurch 'rather grim' and 'rather boring.' She added: 'Quite frankly, I think English television is rather boring in general these days. I'll sit there shouting, "Get on with it!" at the TV, because things just move so slowly. American TV, on the other hand, is absolutely brilliant at the moment - Nashville, House Of Cards and Homeland.'
BBC4 has announced a series of 'relaxing' programmes that will be shot in real time. Well, that's sure to get Celia Imrie's interest, then. The BBC4 Goes Slow series will include three 'unrushed' programmes. The Canal will be an uninterrupted canal boat journey down a historic British waterway, taking in the sights and sounds (but, presumably, not the smells) of the countryside. Make will be a series of three half-hour shows about traditional craftsmanship, looking at the making of different simple objects, with no voiceover. Finally, National Gallery will see Frederick Wiseman going behind the scenes of the museum for three hours with no voiceover, no score and no added sound effects. Cassian Harrison, channel editor of BBC4, said: 'BBC4 Goes Slow is another brilliant example of something only BBC4 would do. This surprising selection of programmes is the antithesis to the general direction much of television is going in. Slowing everything right down gives us the time to really observe things as they happen and this series of programmes celebrates the simple pleasures of life in the slow lane.'
Phone-hacking was 'rife' at Mirra Group Newspapers' three national titles from 1999 to 2006, a court has heard. Claimants' counsel David Sherborne told the High Court that journalists at the Daily Mirra, Sunday Mirra and the People hacked the phones of public figures on a daily basis. Court documents say that the Mirra Group has admitted obtaining ninety nine stories about the claimants by hacking their phones. Dear blog readers with longer memories may remember that the Mirra Group previously spent several years denying that any of their staff had ever, not never, done none of that there phone-hacking, no siree Bob. So, that gives one a general idea of how much trust to place in pretty much anything you read in the Daily Mirra, frankly. The court has to establish the extent of MGN's liability and set damages. The eight claimants are TV executive Alan Yentob, soap actors Shane Richie, Shobna Gulati and Lucy Benjamin, TV producer Robert Ashworth, actress Sadie Frost, former footballer Paul Gascoigne and flight attendant Lauren Alcorn, who had a relationship with Rio Ferdinand. Sherborne told the court these were 'representative claims' aimed at establishing damages guidelines for subsequent cases against MGN. The case is expected to last two weeks.
The police officer at the centre of the so-called 'plebgate' row has accepted eighty grand in damages from the - now, thoroughly skint - Conservative MP and former Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell. A bit like a small lottery win, really. A judge ruled last year that the MP 'probably had' called PC Toby Rowland, an officer on duty at Downing Street's gates, 'a pleb.' Mitchell accepted that he used bad language but claimed he had not used that word. The judge,apparently, did not believe him. The ex-chief whip has already paid three hundred thousand knicker in legal costs to the Sun newspaper and the Police Federation. He extremely lost a high-profile libel action against News Group Newspapers, publishers of the Sun, in November. which to be fair, was really funny. A judge said he had reached the 'firm conclusion' that Mitchell had used the 'politically-toxic' word 'pleb' in September 2012 when he was not allowed to cycle through the main Downing Street vehicle gates and took a big girly strop right there in the street. PC Rowland's lawyer, Jeremy Clarke-Williams, told Mr Justice Warby that since the previous judgment Mitchell 'has abandoned the other defences he had raised to my client's claim and consequently terms of settlement have been agreed.' The solicitor added: 'The payment of eighty thousand pounds damages by Mr Mitchell sets the seal on PC Rowland's vindication, as well as providing compensation for the injury to his reputation and the distress caused to him and his family over many months. PC Rowland never felt that the events in Downing Street were anything more than a minor incident. He was not responsible for the publicity which followed and would have much preferred that the whole matter had never entered the public domain. He now simply wishes to be left in peace to continue his police career.' The row centred around a fifteen-second confrontation between Mitchell and Rowland, after the then cabinet minister was refused permission to cycle through the main gates at Downing Street. The story was splashed across the front page of the Sun, which alleged that the chief whip swore at the officers and called them 'plebs' who should learn their place. Mitchell, when pressed on the matter, admitted to swearing but denied using the word 'pleb'. He was forced to resign from the cabinet but vowed to clear his name in the libel courts, launching an action against the Sun. He lost. Rowland then launched a libel action against Mitchell, claiming that his reputation has been damaged by the MP's remarks and that he suffered 'great distress, humiliation and upset.' In November 2014, Mr Justice Mitting ruled that Mitchell 'probably did' call police officers 'plebs. Weighing up the competing claims, the judge said that Rowland was 'not the sort of man who would have had the wit, imagination or inclination to invent on the spur of the moment an account of what a senior politician had said to him in temper.' Which, if you Google 'backhanded compliments to police officers', you'll find that jolly close to the top of the list. He added that gaps and inconsistencies in PC Rowland's account did not demonstrate he had fabricated his account, as Mitchell's lawyers claimed. The judge extremely ordered Mitchell to pay interim costs of three hundred thousand smackers but the total legal bill he will face is not yet known.
FOX News has admitted, in answer to questions from the Washington Post, that Bill O’Reilly did not witness any bombings in Northern Ireland or murders in El Salvador. The network said that he saw only photographs of such atrocities. For more than a week, FOX had defended O'Reilly from increasing accusations that he has, for years, exaggerated elements of his reporting. O'Reilly called that such accusations 'bullshit' and made vague threats of a non-specific nature against reporters who did not satisfy his demands about their own reporting. The story took on increased relevancy after NBC suspended the Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, over inconsistencies in his version of events in Iraq in 2003 and around Hurricane Katrina in 2005. O'Reilly himself was particularly scathing about Williams in the aftermath of the revelations, noting: 'if you can't trust a news anchor or commentator then you're not going to watch that person.' How true. The new FOX statement is the second time in just a few days that either FOX or O'Reilly has been forced to backtrack on previously reported comments. O'Reilly claimed in a broadcast to have taken part in 'a raid' in Ireland and, in a 2013 book, Keep It Pithy, wrote that he had seen 'Irish terrorists kill and maim their fellow citizens in Belfast with bombs.' O'Reilly did not see any bombings or injuries but only saw photographs provided to reporters by police, a FOX spokesperson told the Post. Last week, O'Reilly qualified his claims of having seen four nuns murdered in El Salvador in 1980, during that country's civil war. O'Reilly had said he saw 'guys gun down nuns in El Salvador' and 'nuns get shot in the back of the head.' He now says that he was among 'reporters [who were] shown horrendous images of violence that were never broadcast.' O'Reilly was forced to concede that point to the liberal media watchdog Mediaite, which pointed out that the nuns were murdered in December 1980 and that O'Reilly did not travel to El Salvador until he became a CBS correspondent in 1981. O'Reilly has claimed in broadcasts and books to have covered 'four wars', citing Northern Ireland, El Salvador, the Falklands and an unspecified conflict in Israel. O'Reilly's claims about his experiences in Argentina were the first to raise questions about the anchor's truthfulness, when the liberal magazine Mother Jones found inconsistencies between his stories and eyewitness accounts. He has defended his claims that he reported 'on the ground in active war zones' and 'survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands war', although he has admitted that he never reported from the islands and was instead twelve hundred miles away, in Buenos Aires. Former colleagues at CBS disputed O'Reilly's account of what happened in Buenos Aires, where he claims to have dragged to safety a cameraman who had been wounded by a rioting crowd. O'Reilly's coverage of the 1992 LA riots has also been called into question by former colleagues, who said that they 'could not recollect' any incident which might resemble O'Reilly being 'attacked by protesters' or having concrete 'raining down on us', as he claimed. 'It didn't happen,' Rick Kirkham, Inside Edition's lead reporter, told the Gruniad last week. 'If it did, how come none of the rest of us remember it?' FOX has dismissed such questions as 'nothing more than an orchestrated campaign by far-left advocates. Responding to the unproven accusation du jour has become an exercise in futility,' a spokesperson told the Gruniad in answer to questions over O'Reilly's reporting of the LA riots. FOX News maintains its staunch support of O'Reilly, who is no stranger to calculated onslaughts.' However, he may appear to be something of a stranger from the truth. Or not, as the case may be.

Amanda Holden will host ITV's new series Give A Pet A Home. So, that'll be worth avoiding, then.
Harrison Ford has been injured in a small plane crash in Los Angeles. Errr .. that's the crashing of a small plane rather than a small plane crash, per se. The seventy two-year-old star of the Indiana Jones and Star Wars movies reported engine failure and crash-landed his vintage plane on a Venice golf course. He never had those sort of problems with the Millennium Falcon, it should be noted. He was breathing and alert when medics arrived and took him to hospital in 'a fair to moderate' condition, a fire department spokesman said, contrary to initial - and rather hysterical - media reports that his condition was 'critical'. His son, Ben, a chef in Los Angeles, later tweeted from the hospital: 'Dad is okay. Battered but okay!' Ford's publicist added: 'The injuries sustained are not life-threatening and he is expected to make a full recovery.' The nature of Ford's injuries have not been disclosed but website TMZ, which first reported the story, said that he had suffered 'multiple gashes to his head.' Shortly after take-off from Santa Monica Airport, Harrison reported that he was having engine failure with his 1942 Ryan Aeronautical ST3KR and was making an 'immediate return' to the airport. He was, seemingly, unable to reach the runway and landed on the nearby golf course - much to the surprise of anybody in the middle of round, one imagines, particularly when they saw whom the pilot was. Onlookers reportedly pulled him from the plane fearing it could explode. Officials said that the plane had been flying at about three thousand feet before the problems occurred and had hit a tree on the way down. 'There was no explosion or anything. It just sounded like a car hitting the ground or a tree or something. Like that one little bang, and that was it,' Jeff Kuprycz, who was playing golf told the Associated Press news agency. 'He ended up crashing around the eighth hole.' In the rough, presumably. Christian Fry of the Santa Monica Airport Association said it was 'an absolutely beautifully executed emergency landing by an unbelievably well-trained pilot.' Film producer Ryan Kavanaugh witnessed the accident from his office near the airport where Harrison had taken off. He told The Hollywood Reporter: 'He, literally, had five seconds and ninety nine per cent of pilots would have turned around to go back to the runway and would have crashed - it would have stalled, gone nose first and crashed. Harrison did what the best pilots in the world would do,' he continued. 'He made the correct turn that the plane was designed for with an engine out.' After crash-landing, Ford was initially treated by two doctors who happened to be at the golf course. Fire Department spokesman Patrick Butler said hat the LAFD received a 911 emergency call and attended to 'a medium-to-high impact' plane crash at the Penmar Golf Course. There have been calls from local people to close Santa Monica airport, which is situated in a residential district, because of concerns about safety and noise. Later this year, Ford is reprising his role of Han Solo in the latest addition to the Star Wars franchise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He broke his leg in June last year on set at Pinewood Studios while filming a scene involving a door on the Millennium Falcon. It was also recently announced that he will shortly be reprising his role of Rick Deckard in the sequel to the cult 1980s SF thriller Blade Runner. Ford took up flying when he was in his fifties and is also trained to fly helicopters. In 1999, Ford crash-landed his helicopter during a training flight in Los Angeles but both he and the instructor were unhurt. A year later a plane he was flying had to make an emergency landing at Lincoln Municipal Airport in Nebraska. Again he and his passenger escaped unhurt after the plane clipped the runway.

And speaking of aeronautic mishaps, the plane crash which claimed the life of yer actual Buddy Holly, could be investigated afresh by US transport safety experts, it has been reported. The twenty two-year-old Holly, Ritchie Valens and Jiles P Richardson - the Big Bopper - died in a crash shortly after take-off in Iowa in 1959. The pilot of the single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza was also killed. On Wednesday, the US National Transportation Safety Board said that it was 'reviewing' a request to reopen an investigation into he causes of the crash. 'We are reviewing the petition to reconsider the Buddy Holly crash, based on criteria in our regs,' it said in a statement. There were two reasons given for the crash by the Civil Aeronautics Board, which carried out the initial investigation fifty six years ago. The first was pilot error by twenty one-year-old Roger Peterson and the second attributed factor was a poor weather briefing given to him prior to take-off. According to NTSB rules, petitions must be based on 'the discovery of new evidence' or indications that previous conclusions were inaccurate. According to the Mason City Globe Gazette, the NTSB received the request from a pilot from New England called LJ Coon. He told the paper that he believes the pilot's 'heroic' actions could be seen in a new light. Holly had only hired the plane after heating problems developed on his tour bus. The trio had just completed a concert in Clear Lake and were heading to the next tour date in Moorhead, Minnesota. Don McLean later immortalised the tragedy as 'the day the music died' in his 1972 song 'American Pie'.

The first official image of Melissa Benoist in her Supergirl costume has been unveiled. And, very nice it is too.
Someone who describes himself as 'a Christian activist' would like to see all gay people in California executed by firing squad, so the rest of the citizenry can avoid having to 'endure God's wrath.' Matt McLaughlin - who is clearly not a mental homophobic bigot nor anything even remotely like it - last week paid two hundred dollars to file a ballot initiative with the Attorney General in Sacramento which proposes his Sodomite Suppression Act become law. McLaughlin calls homosexual sex 'buggery,' and 'sodomy,' and labels it 'a monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us to suppress on pain of our utter destruction even as he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha [sic].' Nice to see he's read the bible so closely that he can't spell 'Gomorrah' properly. Then again, he appears not to have taken in Matthew 7:1, 7:3 and 7:11 either. Careless. One does, rather, wonder if the shirts this chap wears are made from polyester and cotton because, if they are, he's inviting God's wrath upon himself by failing to observe Leviticus 19:19 as well. Perhaps someone should tell him before he gets hit by a lightning bolt from the heavens. McLaughlin - who, to repeat, is clearly not as mad as a rabid badger on acid - says that it is 'better' that non-gay Californians kill gays - thus breaking one of the commandments (you know, 'thou shalt not kill') - rather than have to suffer God's punishment. Whatever that might be. Better for whom, he didn't elaborate. 'Seeing that it is better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God's just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating-wickedness in our midst, the People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method,' he said. Which isn't really very biblical and they didn't have bullets in olden times. Just a thought. McLaughlin does not state if minors would be treated as adults and included in the execution mandate. The Sodomite Suppression Act also calls for a one million dollar fine for each act of transmitting, distributing, or performing 'sodomistic propaganda' to minors. Where the fine is in addition to getting shot or instead of, is not clear at this time. McLaughlin's bill would make it illegal for any gay person to hold public office, be employed by the state, or be granted any benefits, such as welfare, social security, or use any public assets, such as roads.
And, speaking of bell-end numskull bigots doing ignorant bullshit malarkey in the name of The Lord, members of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church were widely reported to be planning a protest the funeral of the late, and much-loved, actor Leonard Nimoy this week. Only one problem: They couldn't locate where the private funeral was being held and, thus, were forced to cancel their doings. Which was, obviously, sad as this blogger would have very much enjoyed seeing them confronted by a large group of Klingons.
The Bank of Canada is pleading with Star Trek fans to stop 'Spocking' its five dollar bills. Since Leonard Nimoy's death, Canadian Trekkers have, apparently, been 'Spocking' the hell out of the five dollar bill which features a portrait of Canada's seventh prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Sir Wilfrid now sports, on certain bills at least, pointy ears, the signature Vulcan haircut and eyebrows and Spock's mantra 'Live long and prosper.' According to Bank of Canada, it's not illegal to do this. 'However, there are important reasons why it should not be done. Writing on a bank note may interfere with the security features and reduces its lifespan. Markings on a note may also prevent it from being accepted in a transaction. Furthermore, the Bank of Canada feels that writing and markings on bank notes are inappropriate as they are a symbol of our country and a source of national pride.'
Meanwhile ...
Ladies, have you ever wanted to take a 'selfie' of the inside of your very own twinkle cave? Of course you have, it's only natural, isn't it? Well, good news; thanks to this miracle breakthrough, the 'Sex Selfie Stick', now you can ram a camera right up there. Oh, and don't forget to smile. Is that The Hallelujah Chorus we hear?
Europe's top human rights watchdog has come over all busybody and strict and criticised France for its failure to explicitly ban smacking children. The Council of Europe said that France's laws on corporal punishment were 'not sufficiently clear, binding and specific.' Which does sound very much like the French, if we're being honest. Lovely people and all that but, you know, they can be contrary sods at the best of times. French law forbids 'violence against children', but recognises the parents' 'right to discipline' children and give them a damned good hiding if they're naughty. And, it positively encourages such malarkey between consenting adults. And, hey, why not? The ruling follows a complaint by a British children's charity against France and six other EU countries. The charity, Approach, says that the countries are violating a section of the European Social Charter calling on signatories to 'protect' children. The Council of Europe, which has no power to sanction member states, has called for all of its forty seven members to ban corporal punishment of children. So far, twenty seven have banned the practice.

A Singapore court has sentenced two Germans to nine months in prison and three strokes of the cane on Thursday after they pleaded extremely guilty to breaking into a depot and spray-painting graffiti on a commuter train carriage. Which, frankly, was a Goddamn stupid thing to do anywhere but, in a country that practices caning on the bare bum as a punishment for vandalism, one could argue it's doubly moronic. Andreas Von Knorre and Elton Hinz, both 'expressed remorse' while being sentenced in the state courts of the island republic. Although, one imagines, their more remorseful about what their arses are going to look like after the Canemster General has finished with them than for what they actually did. 'This is the darkest episode of my entire life,' said Von Knorre. 'I want to apologise to the state of Singapore for the stupid act. I've learned my lesson and will never do it again.' Hinz added: 'I promise I will never do it again. I want to apologise to you, and my family for the shame and situation I've put them into.' They added: 'Please don't cne us, sir, we were led astray by older boys.' Probably. Both were dressed in prison uniform - a white T-shirt and brown trousers with the word 'Prisoner' down the sides and on the back. They spoke to the court in English. Singapore sentences hundreds of prisoners to a damned good caning each year as part of a system that has been criticised by rights groups. Vandalism and over-staying by foreigners are offences hich can be punished by caning along with more serious crimes like kidnapping, robbery, drug abuse and sexually-related crimes. According to the US State Department, two thousand two hundred and three caning sentences were carried out in 2012, including one thousand and seventy on foreigners for committing immigration offences. And, to think,you have to pay good money for that sort of thing down in Soho. Or, so this blogger is led to believe. These guys are giving it away for free. No wonder they've got a problem with the national debt. 'The Singapore judicial system's shameful recourse to using torture – in the form of caning – to punish crimes that should be misdemeanours is indicative of a blatant disregard for international human rights standards,' said Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch. 'One of the defendants said that sentencing day was the darkest day of his life, but in reality every day that Singapore keeps caning on its books is a dark day for the country's international reputation,' he added in an e-mail to various media outlets. In Berlin, a foreign ministry official said the government 'respected' the sovereignty of Singapore. 'But it speaks out against corporal punishment as a form of sentence worldwide - and that also means in Singapore,' the official added. 'The German government has made that clear.' The two Germans were accused of vandalism and trespass after they broke into one of Singapore's train depots last November to spray-paint a carriage. They then fled Singapore, only to be tracked down in neighbouring Malaysia after an international manhunt and were brought back to the city-state to face their sorry fate. Their lawyers said they would meet the prisoners on Monday to decide on whether to appeal. Almost five years ago, Swiss national Oliver Fricker was sentenced to seven months in jail and three strokes of the cane after he pleaded guilty to cutting through the fence of a train depot and spray-painting graffiti on train carriages. Singapore, well known for its cleanliness and its zero tolerance for crime, uses the rattan cane to carry out the sentence. Prisoners are stripped and strapped to a wooden trestle with a medical officer on hand to intervene if necessary. People who have been caned have called the pain 'excruciating'. Although, again, to repeat, there are plenty of people who are 'into' that sort of thing who would probably have described it as 'lovely'. For the two sorry Germans, the court ordered four months imprisonment for entry into a protected area and another five months jail and three strokes for vandalism.

Shit overheard on social media this week: A right old diarrhoea-storm erupted after that grotty little Communist Bill Oddie said British families which have too many children should be 'contained.' Which is a bit Nazi for this blogger's taste although he kind of knows what The Oddie was alluding to. The birdwatcher and former comedian also criticised Britain as a nation, claiming that it was full of 'hooliganism' - which is, actually, a fair comment - and revealed that he was often 'ashamed' to be British. Oddie was speaking while appearing as a guest on BBC1's Sunday Morning Live - if you've never seen it, don't worry, you've not missed much - during a debate called Is the UK too hostile to immigration? He said: 'There should just as likely be a restriction on the number of children that British people have because over-population is what you are talking about here, the big problem. So you say these perfectly well-qualified people can't come in, but the woman down the road has just had her tenth baby. Well, I'm sorry but they are the people that really should be contained. It would make a difference.' On the subject of his nationality he said: 'Historically, we seem to have built up this ridiculous idea that: "Oh, we are British, this is our island and we don't want anybody else in it." I personally loathe that kind of chauvinism and I'm happy to say I'm not proud to be British. In fact, I'm very often ashamed to be British. We are a terrible race, all the hooliganism and God knows what.' Challenged by presenter Sian Williams to leave Britain if he didn't like it, he replied: 'You don't leave it, you're talking like UKiP or something. For God's sake, shut up. What I'm saying is that without a doubt during my lifetime I've seen the whole culture absolutely burgeon because of immigrants. I love the fact that I walk down the road in North London and down here's an Indian shop and there's another Indian stationers there and this one is run by someone from Iran and there's a West Indian guy who runs that bit and we've got the Romanian builders next door who don't play the radio as loud as English builders.' Of course, those comments brought out the very best in lots of 'concerned citizens' on Twitter and Facebook. One, no doubt perfect specimen of humanity noting: 'If anyone needs curbing, it's people like Bill Oddie.' Oh, how very arch, sir. With rapier-like wit such as that, its as if the spirit of Oscar Wilde (another immigrant, as it happens) has just entered the room. Another glake added: 'Did Bill Oddie really say that? Self loathing Marxist idiot!' Well, yes, he is but, that doesn't necessarily mean he's wrong in this particular case. As noted, even a broken clock' is right twice a day. Now, this blogger is no fan of The Oddie or his frequently crass rantings (well, not since I was ten and thought The Goodies was not only the greatest TV show that had ever been made but was the greatest TV show that would ever be made) and, frequently, this blogger thinks The Oddie talks a right load of utter bollocks. But, a lot of the nasty, poisonous, mean-spirited, self-delusional and, frankly, racist loathing he appears to have unleashed on social media suggests that the chap might have a point in this instance. This blogger was particularly impressed by one chap on Facebook who suggested that The Oddie 'ought to be taken out and shot'. That's a very reasoned - and not at all Third Riechesque - contribution to the debate, dear boy. The suggestion that people with whom one disagrees should be exterminated. What do you do for an encore, beat up cripples? And then some people wonder why there is this belief that everybody on social media is some sort of UKiP supporting numskull bigot. Dunno where that crazy idea came from.

FIFA's new independent ethics chief says 'nobody will interfere' with his task of keeping corruption out of football's world governing body. Swiss attorney Cornel Borbely has succeeded Michael Garcia, who quit in dramatic circumstances in December. Garcia was unhappy at how FIFA officials handled his investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Borbely said: 'I don't take any orders at all from FIFA, none whatsoever.' The thirty six-year-old, who was Garcia's deputy, told Reuters: 'I alone decide whether to open, conduct and conclude an investigation. I am completely independent of any FIFA officials, otherwise I couldn't, and wouldn't, do this job. Nobody interferes, neither the FIFA executive committee nor anybody else.' Borbely headed an economic crimes investigation unit in Zurich for three years and has worked as a prosecutor for a military tribunal. He said that anyone coming forward with information about alleged FIFA corruption could do so in confidence, with any tips 'carefully evaluated'. He added: 'I also have my eyes and ears open and if I see something that calls for it, of course I open a preliminary investigation.' FIFA -a notorious bunch of hypocritical gangsters at the best of times - has suffered a series of damaging allegations in recent years, including claims of corruption in the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively. US lawyer Garcia was called in to investigate those allegations and produced a four hundred and thirty-page report last year. However, when a forty two-page summary of his findings was published, which claimed there had been no wrongdoing, Garcia complained to FIFA about its 'erroneous' representation of his work. FIFA dismissed his appeal, prompting his resignation, but has since agreed to release a redacted version of Garcia's full report.

Odious full-of-his-own-importance smear Dave Whelan has extremely resigned from his position as chairman of Championship side Wigan Not Very Athletic. The seventy eight-year-old will stay as owner but his grandson, David Sharpe, will oversee the running of the relegation-haunted club. Whelan took over at Wigan in February 1995 and oversaw their rise from the fourth tier to the Premier League. He was banned from all football-related activity for six weeks and fined fifty grand in December for making racially negative comments after accepting an FA charge. Whelan apologised but denied that the remarks, about Jewish and Chinese people, made during a newspaper interview were racist and, prior to his punishment being announced, had stated that he would resign as Wigan chairman if he was 'found guilty of being a racist'. Which he has now done. The FA Disciplinary Commission said it was 'satisfied' Whelan 'is not a racist' and had not intended to cause offence with his crass and ignorant comments.

New Zealand is conducting 'mass surveillance' on its Pacific neighbours, reports citing documents leaked by snitchy Edward Snowden have claimed. Telephone calls, e-mails and social media messages were being collected from Pacific nations, the New Zealand Herald said. Although one imagines the closest the Federated States of Micronesia gets to social media is somebody putting a Post-it® note in the town square and waiting for a reply. The data was, allegedly, shared with other members of the so-called 'Five Eyes' network - the US, Australia, Britain and Canada. Or,as Qi once memorably described it 'tell everybody but the French'. Snowden extremely leaked a large cache of classified NSA documents in 2013 and then ran away to Russia. He is regarded as a whistleblowing hero by the Gruniad Morning Star, a traitor by the US government and a dirty stiknin' Copper's Nark by pretty much everyone else. The documents, published on Thursday, reveal that New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau used its Waihopai base in the South Island to spy on allies in the region. Targets included Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Nauru, Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Tonga and French Polynesia. Cos, there's some really dangerous fuckers in them there paradise islands, obviously.
The US space agency's Dawn probe has gone into orbit around Ceres, the largest object in the Solar System between Mars and Jupiter. A signal from the satellite confirming its status was received by ground stations. Ceres is the first of the so-called 'dwarf' planets to be visited by a spacecraft. Scientists hope to glean information from the object that can tell them about the Solar System's beginnings, four and a half billion years ago. Dawn has taken over seven years to reach its destination. Its arrival has seen it pass behind the dwarf to its dark side. Over the next month, controllers will re-shape the orbit to get it ready to begin the prime science phase in late April. Over time, the intention is to progressively lower the orbit until the probe is just a few hundred kilometres above the surface. By that stage, it will be returning very high resolution pictures. 'We feel exhilarated,' said Chris Russell, the mission's principal investigator from the University of California. 'We have much to do over the next year and a half, but we are now on station with ample reserves, and a robust plan to obtain our science objectives.' The satellite has turned up at Ceres having previously visited the asteroid Vesta. Both objects reside in the belt of rocky debris that circles the Sun beyond Mars. The pair should tell a similar story, says Doctor Carol Raymond, the mission's deputy principal investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 'Both Ceres and Vesta, we believe, are proto-planets. They were on their way to forming larger planetary embryos and they were the type of object that merged to form the terrestrial planets,' she told the BBC's Inside Science programme. 'But these two stopped before they reached that evolutionary stage, and so they are essentially these intact "time capsules" from the very beginning of our Solar System; and that's really the motivation for why Dawn is going there to explore them in detail.' Researchers think THAT Ceres' interior is dominated by a rocky core topped by ice that is then insulated by rocky lag deposits at the surface. A big question the mission hopes to answer is whether there is a liquid ocean of water at depth. Some models suggest there could well be. The evidence will probably be found in Ceres' craters which have a muted look to them. That is, the soft interior of Ceres has undoubtedly had the effect of relaxing the craters' original hard outline. One big talking point has dominated the approach to the object: the origin and nature of two very bright spots seen inside a 92km-wide crater in the Northern Hemisphere. The speculation is that Ceres has been struck by something, exposing deeply buried ices. These will have vaporised on the airless world, perhaps leaving behind highly reflective salts. The Dawn mission is expected to work at the dwarf planet for at least fourteen months. Raymond commented: 'The spacecraft will run out of hydrazine [fuel] at some point; it will lose the ability to maintain its attitude and therefore lose the ability to point its solar arrays towards the Sun and point its antenna towards the Earth. It will then lose power and be a tumbling satellite of Ceres in perpetuity, because our orbit has proved to be stable over a hundred-year lifetime, as required, so we don't crash into Ceres and contaminate its surface.' While Dawn takes the honour of being the first spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet, the next opportunity comes very quickly. NASA's New Horizons probe is due to make a close fly-by of Pluto in July. This far-more distant world was controversially demoted from full planet to dwarf status at an international astronomy meeting in 2006.

Shit overheard on social media this week, number two: 'I hate Top Gear. I don't understand why the BBC continue to make it.' Well, it might have something to do with the fact that lots of people like it. It has a consolidated weekly audience of between six and seven million punters on BBC2 (comfortably, the channel's highest-rated show), the highest iPlayer figures of any BBC show and a Live+7 'reach' audience of around nine million per episode. Or, if you prefer, one seventh of the population of Great Britain. But, it's when it comes to international sales that Top Gear's worth to the BBC really comes into play. On an average year it brings in profits of between eighty and one hundred and twenty million pounds (depending on the number of episodes made). That money does not go back into Top Gear's own pockets but is, instead, used by the BBC to fund other programmes. Just for context, that's the entire operating budget for BBC3, BBC4 and 6Music - and lots of other things that Middle Class hippy Communist Gruniad Morning Star readers enjoy watching and/or listening to. Or, alternatively, it's the BBC's entire comedy budget. Something to think about, perhaps, the next time some unfunny wanker with stupid hair who's very popular with students on Mock The Week is making his latest, 'oh, isn't that Jeremy Clarkson a right fucker?' joke. He might well be, mate, but he's currently helping to pay your wages. Next ...
The home of the former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor has been searched by police investigating claims of historical allegations of child abuse. The BBC News website says that it 'understands' police from Operation Midland arrived at the house on the estate of Belvoir Castle, in Leicestershire, on Wednesday morning. The investigation is looking at allegations that 'establishment figures' abused boys. Proctor, denied being part of any 'rent-boy ring' or attending 'sex parties' with 'prominent figures'. He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he would 'like' to be interviewed by police 'at the earliest opportunity'. The Metropolitan Police confirmed that officers had searched an address 'near Grantham.' Operation Midland is examining claims that teenage boys were abused by 'a group of powerful men' from politics, the military and law enforcement agencies at a variety of locations across Southern England and in London during the 1970s and 1980s. It has focused on the Dolphin Square estate in Pimlico. The investigation, which is under the umbrella of Operation Fairbank, is also examining claims that three of the boys were murdered. Proctor said: 'I have not been part of any rent-boy ring with cabinet ministers, other MPs or the military.' He added that he had 'never attended sex parties at Dolphin Square or anywhere else.' Asked if he was 'aware' of Operation Midland, he said: 'I may not have known the detail of it but anyone would be blind if they hadn't seen the press relating to these matters over the last year and I find myself in a Kafkaesque fantasy situation.' Asked about the wider allegations of sexual abuse being made, he said: 'I believe that the number of victims grows by the day. The number of alleged perpetrators through death diminishes. That is a problem. It is certainly a problem for me. I suppose my problem is that I'm still very much alive. I am sure some of the allegations are true but I'm also sure a lot of the allegations are pure and utter fantasy.' Proctor became an MP in 1979, representing Basildon in Essex for four years. He subsequently represented Billericay until resigning in 1987. In June 1986, the People newspaper published claims that Proctor had taken part in 'spanking and caning sessions' with male prostitutes in his London flat. Proctor was charged with gross indecency and resigned his candidature. At his trial in May 1987, Proctor pleaded very guilty and was fined fourteen hundred and fifty smackers. Following his resignation, Proctor opened an eponymous shirtmakers, Proctor's, in Richmond.

Hall and Oates are suing a Brooklyn-based cereal firm, claiming its granola Haulin' Oats infringes their trademark. The case accuses Early Bird Foods & Co of breaking the law with its 'phonetic play on Daryl Hall and John Oates' well-known brand name.' The statement continued that Hall and Oates their very selves can't go for that, oh no, no can do. Apparently. Lawyers for the singers filed the case in Brooklyn federal court. The duo claim the company is attempting 'to trade off of the fame and notoriety associated with the artist's and plaintiff's well-known marks.' Haulin' Oats is a nut-free cereal made from maple syrup and oats, described by its makers as a 'back-to-basics flavour ... perfect by itself or as the base for a breakfast parfait creation.' The case notes that various parties have attempted over the years 'to make a connection between the artists' names and oats-related products.'
A number of, supposedly serious, media outlets were reporting this week that after a group of Native Americans protested outside a concert by Ted Nugent, the big-haired and ludicrous 1970s rocker with his awful right-wing views had 'verbally lashed out' at them, calling them 'stinkyass unclean dipshit protestors' and, allegedly, adding that Native Americans should all be 'rounded up and shipped back to wherever they came from!' Err ... that would be America, Ted. The clue's in the name, really. Nugent's differences with Native Americans, these reports stated, stem from their offence at his history of racially-charged statements. After one tribe recently cancelled his scheduled appearance at a casino in Worley, Idaho, he is alleged to have said, 'I take it as a badge of honor [sic] that such unclean vermin are upset by me and my positive energy. By all indicators, I don't think they actually qualify as people.' Ultimately, however, many of these quotes actually appear to come directly from a spoof report at the Newslo satire website. It's so difficult to tell the truth for made up shit these days although, in this particular case, as this blogger's friend Emma noted, Ted Nugent is 'an ass but, even Ted isn't quite that stupid.' We'll take your word for it, Em!

Incidentally, dear blog reader, this blogger's favourite Ted Nugent story concerns an occasion when the big-haired rocker reportedly turned up backstage at a Clash concert on the London four-piece's first US tour (most likely the show at the Masonic Temple in Detroit on 17 September 1979). Nugent, allegedly, demanded to be allowed to jam with The Clash on stage. He was told by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones that, yes, he certainly could join them for a thrash through 'I'm So Bored With The USA' if he'd like to, but only if he cut his hair first, The Clash having a zero-tolerance policy to The Long Hair Thing. Exit, rapidly stage right, one self-styled disgruntled Metal God and murderer of things that live in the forest muttering darkly 'the Hell with that.'
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping dragged his sorry ass halfway across town from Stately Telly Topping Manor to the Pool at the crack of dawn on Wednesday morning only, upon arriving, to be told that it was shut on that particular day because 'there's something wrong with the water'. Keith Telly Topping presumes that this, non-specific, 'wrongness' was caused by either a) some sort of radioactive spillage or, b) somebody having a big fat dump in the shallow end overnight. Following breakfast, therefore, yer actual Keith Telly Topping popped into Iceland on the way home to pick up an Ostrich fillet for us dinner. He doesn't often shop there here hastens to add, dear blog reader - especially as he hates the idea of contributing to Peter Andre's obscene earnings - but, let's face it, who doesn't enjoy a nice slice of dead Ostrich every now and then?
A day earlier, sitting - for forty minutes - with various choice examples of the detritus of society in the local rent office waiting to be seen over, as it turns out, a minor matter which could have been dealt with in a two minute phone call, really does give one proof positive that life is nothing but a grotesque pantomime from which there will be no escape until somebody stabs Sting in the throat. Sorry, dear blog reader, the subtext started to become the text, there. But, when you've just sat for over half an hour next to someone who is, clearly, waiting for his next methadone fix whilst coughing and sneezing their gems all over you, the last thing you want to hear over the tannoy is that smug balding git wittering on about his sodding 'Fields of Gold'. Listen, mate, just deliver my milk and then sod off.
Venus over Newcastle at twilight. Always easy to spot cos there's a big white arrow pointing at it.
Yer actual Keith telly Topping was delighted to discover on Sunday afternoon, tucked away on one of the more obscure satellite channels - between endless repeats of NCIS and Time Team - was a rare, but welcome, British TV broadcast of a contender for the worst film ever made, by anyone, ever, Birth Of The Beatles. Nick Cotton as George Harrison! Nigel Havers as George Martin! The bloke who created Balamory as Brian Epstein! As Kate Stewart once noted: 'Americans with the ability to rewrite history? You've seen their movies!'
For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day here's a right tasty slab of yer actual Badfinger. Check out, in particular, George Harrison's delicious slide guitar solo.