Saturday, June 20, 2015

If You Want, I'll Sell You A Life Story

Filming continues a-pace on the next series of Doctor Who, dear blog reader. As this photographic evidence very much proves.
Game Of Thrones' shocking and stunning season five finale attracted a large audience for Sky Atlantic on Monday night, overnight data reveals. The action-packed hour-long episode which shocked and stunned some viewers, apparently, and got others aal geet discombobulated and that over spoilers which were revealed on the Interweb, drew an average overnight audience of 1.34 million at 9pm, rising from the previous week's overnight of 1.09m. Another five hundred and fifty thousand viewers watched the episode's 2am showing, timed to coincide with its HBO broadcast in the US. BBC1's The Met topped the night outside soaps with 3.47m at 9pm, while Stolen Childhoods was seen by 1.88m at 8.30pm. On BBC2, One Hundred Thousand Pound House gathered 1.47m at 8pm, followed by Japan: Earth's Enchanted Island with 2.60m at 9pm and Episodes with nine hundred and twenty two thousand at 10pm. Earlier, the Clangers were back on CBeebies, nearly half-a-century after they first appeared on the BBC in 1969. Voiced by Monty Python's Flying Circus star Michael Palin, Clangers was an instant hit for the preschool channel CBeebies with four hundred and eighty four thousand viewers, a four per cent share of the available audience from 5.30pm, up sixty eight per cent on the channel's three-month slot average. Interestingly, but unsurprisingly, sixty five per cent of Clangers' viewers were adults. ITV's Johnny Kingdom appealed to 2.60m at 8pm, while Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi's thoroughly rotten and laughless alleged comedy Vicious continued to shed viewers, being watched by 2.39m at 9pm. Jason Manford's wretchedly unoriginal It's A Funny Old Week drew a mere 1.22m at 9.30pm. On Channel Four, Gadget Man had an audience of six hundred and six thousand at 8.30pm, followed by Escape To The Wild with 1.40m at 9pm and Man Down with five hundred and thirty four thousand at 10pm. Channel Five's Caught On Camera interested seven hundred and seventy four thousand punters at 8pm, while Inside Manchester's Midland Hotel appealed to eight hundred and seventy five thousand at 9pm. Odious Victorian freak show Big Brother continued with 1.10m at 10pm. ITV2's watch-word for television for the brainless, Love Island, brought in three hundred and eighty two thousand at 9pm.
The Syndicate continued with more than five million overnight viewers on Tuesday. The BBC1 drama appealed to 5.19m in the 9pm hour, before Dara O'Briain Meets Stephen Hawking was seen by 2.09m from 10.35pm. On BBC2, Alex Polizzi: Chefs On Trial attracted nine hundred and twenty five thousand punters from 7pm. Natural World and An Hour To Save Your Life followed with 1.83m and 1.98m respectively. ITV's Me & My Guide Dog attracted 1.91m in the 8pm hour. The Enforcers was watched by 1.67m afterwards. On Channel Four, Running The Shop averaged 1.12m before No Offence had one million viewers at 9pm. Channel Five's latest Big Brother fiasco - which saw Brian Belo and Helen Wood fall out, apparently - appealed to 1.13m sad, crushed victims of society from 10pm. Earlier, The Dog Rescuers was seen by nine hundred and ninety thousand and OAPs Behaving Badly was watched by nine hundred and forty four thousand punters. The multichannels were topped by ITV3's Midsomer Murders, which averaged nine hundred and forty one thousand from 8pm.

The Interceptor dipped below three million overnight viewers on Wednesday evening. The second episode of the BBC's much-hyped action thriller appealed to just 2.82m in the 9pm hour down by almost a million from the opening episode the previous week. Not even Trevor Eve over-acting with an outrageous faux-Sarf Lahnden accent can, seemingly, save this one from an ignominious early bath. Earlier, DIY SOS managed 4.43m. On BBC2, Alex Polizzi: Chefs On Trial averaged seven hundred and forty seven thousand from 8pm. Napoleon and The Bin Laden Conspiracy? were watched by nine hundred and ninety one thousand and seven hundred and sixty seven thousand viewers respectively. ITV's The Cube continued with 2.81m from 8pm. Long Lost Family had 3.65m immediately afterwards. On Channel Four, The Auction House averaged nine hundred and twenty four thousand punters in the 8pm hour, with Twenty Four Hours In A&E drawing 1.54m. Channel Five's Big Brother 'highlights' (no, me neither) was watched by nine hundred and twenty five thousand from 10pm. Earlier in the evening, Make You Laugh Out Loud - which, it didn't - attracted seven hundred and forty nine thousand and Caught On Camera was seen by five hundred and seventy nine thousand. The multichannels were topped by BBC3's coverage of the Women's World Cup from 8.30pm, as 1.59m watched England beat Colombia 2-1 in the group stage to qualify for the second round.
Celebrity MasterChef returned on Thursday evening with higher ratings than last year, according to overnight data. The BBC1 cookery competition - slightly (but only slightly) less z-list than in recent times - opened its kitchen doors to an average 3.83 million at 9pm, up from last year's 3.5m overnight. Earlier, Watchdog interested 3.31m at 8pm, while Question Time brought in 2.45m at 10.35pm. BBC2's The Hairy Bikers & Lorraine Pascal attracted 1.28m at 8pm, followed by the final Stonemouth with 1.51m at 9pm. Mock The Week had 1.43m at 10pm. On ITV, rotten Big Box Little Box attracted 2.12m at 8.30pm. Britain's Busiest Airport was seen by 2.72m at 9pm. Channel Four's latest episode of Dogs: Their Secret Lives had an audience of 1.14m at 8pm, while The Tribe brought in 1.05m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Big Brother continued, depressingly, with nine hundred and forty eight thousand at 9pm, followed by Person Of Interest with six hundred and seven thousand at 10pm. E4's series finale of The Big Bang Theory was watched by nine hundred and forty eight thousand at 8.30pm. On Dave - rebranded David for the night - the new series Hoff The Record launched with one hundred and eighty one thousand at 9pm. And, although the majority of the best bits had already featured in the pre-series trailer, it was, actually, quite funny.

Featuring guests such as yer actual Arnold Schwarzenegger and Emilia Clarke, The Graham Norton Show was Friday evening's highest-rated programme outside of soaps. An average overnight audience of 3.45 million tuned in to the chat show at 10.35pm. BBC1's evening started with 2.97 million for The ONE Show at 7pm, followed by 2.47 million for Would I Lie to You? immediately afterwards. Celebrity Masterchef continued with 3.34 million at 8.30pm, and peaked with 3.98 million at 9.45pm. On BBC2, Alex Polizzi: Chefs On Trial continued with six hundred and eighty thousand at 7pm, while Mary Berry's Absolute Favourites was seen by 1.8 million at 8pm. Gardener's World had an audience of 1.89m at 8.30pm, with 1.62 million watched Kate Humble: Living With Nomads at 9pm. The Clare Balding Show drew seven hundred and eighty thousand at 10pm. Gino's Italian Escape was watched by 2.01 million at 8pm on ITV, while 1.72 watched a repeat of Doc Martin at 9pm. Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown was Channel Four's highest-rated show with 1.19 million. It was sandwiched between Shipping Wars UK with four hundred and seventy thousand and Sarah Millican Home Bird Live with nine hundred and eighty thousand. Big Brother: Live Eviction was seen by an average audience of 1.07 million of Channel Five. BBC3's Glastonbury Golden Greats was among the highest-rated multichannel shows. It was seen four hundred and ninety one thousand at 9pm.

The BBC's new, early Saturday evening lack-of-entertainment fiasco, Prized Apart continued with 2.6 million overnight viewers. The show - fronted by waste-of-space z-list non-entities Emma Willis and Reggie Yates - averaged but 2.63m punters from 7pm. The National Lottery: Who Dares Wins attracted 3.59m. Casualty had an audience of 4.05m from 8.55pm and The John Bishop Show drew 3.14m afterwards. On BBC2, a Dad's Army repeat had an 1.3 million. It was followed by La Traviata: Love, Death & Divas with six hundred and seventy five thousand in the 9pm hour. ITV broadcast Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire from 7pm, which was seen by 2.5m. On Channel Four, one of the nastiest, most truly worthless TV formats in the history of the medium, the spectacularly rancid exercise in twee 'Little Englander' UKiP-voting bollocks Penelope Keith's Hidden Villages, which this blogger was so utterly appalled by when it was shown on some obscure digi-channel last year began a terrestrial run with 1.03m from 8pm. The Ron Howard film Rush - which this blogger last watched on a plane flying to Los Angeles (and, thoroughly enjoyed) - averaged 1.08m from 9pm. Channel Five's latest Big Brother 'highlights' had an audience of 1.02m in the 10pm hour. On the multichannels, ITV3's Foyle's War was watched by seven hundred and twenty thousand punters from 7.55pm.
The Sheridan Smith drama vehicle Black Work débuted with strong overnight ratings on Sunday. The first episode of the crime thriller brought in 5.81m viewers at 9pm. Earlier in the evening, Catchphrase was watched by 2.75m at 7.15pm, while Surprise Surprise averaged 3.69m at 8pm. On BBC1, Countryfile topped the channel's evening line-up with 5.39m at 7pm, before Antiques Roadshow gathered 5.11m at 8pm and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell slipped even further to a properly awful overnight of 1.59m at 9pm. On BBC2, Dara & Ed's Great Big Adventure was seen by seven hundred and fifty thousand at 8pm, while The BBC At War With Jonathan Dimbleby brought in nine hundred and forty thousand at 9pm. Channel Four's Humans continued with 2.67m at 9pm, losing seven hundred thousand overnight viewers week-on-week from last Sunday's première but still beating BBC1 in the slot by over a million viewers. Channel Five's Pets Make You Laugh Out Loud attracted five hundred and ninety one thousand sad, crushed victims of society at 8pm while Big Brother continued,depressingly, with a million at 9pm. BBC3's coverage of the Women's World Cup was watched by five hundred and thirty nine thousand at 8.30pm.

Which brings us to the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty programmes, week-ending Sunday 14 June 2015:-
1 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.34m
2 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.26m
3 The Syndicate - Tues BBC1 - 6.48m
4 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.28m
5 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.86m
Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.56m
7 Humans - Sun C4 - 5.46m
8 Home Fires - Sun ITV - 5.15m*
9 Euro 2016 Qualifier: Slovenia Versus England - Sun ITV - 4.97m
10 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.87m
11 DIY SOS: The Big Build - Wed BBC1 - 4.76m
12 The Interceptor - Wed BBC1 - 4.75m
13 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.65m
14 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.36m
15 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.26m
16 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.05m
17 The National Lottery: Who Dares Wins - Sat BBC1 - 3.95m
18 TFI Friday - Fri C4 - 3.77m
19 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 3.72m
20 Long Lost Family - Wed ITV - 3.62m*
These figures, as usual, do not include iPlayer or ITV Player viewers. ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's week was, again, dominated by Springwatch with the four nightly episodes occupying places three, four, five and eight in the BBC2's weekly Top Ten. Thursday's audience of 2.5m was the most-watched of these. The channel's top-rated programme was Japan: Earth's Enchanted Island (2.93m), followed by Stonemouth (2.71m). Aside from Humans extraordinary début (with a timeshift above the initial overnight audience of almost three million viewers) and the TFI Friday special, Channel Four's top-rated shows were The Secret World Of Lego (2.53m) and Kevin McCloud's Escape To The Wild (1.82m). One has to go back to 1992 – a pre-digital age when most homes in the UK had only four channels – to the last time an originated Channel Four drama had a bigger audience than Humans. Then, an episode of The Camomile Lawn achieved 7.2 million viewers. Made by Kudos, producer of Broadchurch and Life On Mars, Humans is written by [spooks] scriptwriters Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley and based on a Swedish TV series, Real Humans.Channel Five's highest-rated broadcast was Big Brother (1.42m). Sky Atlantic's Game Of Thrones's series finale was, as usual, the mutichannels most-watched broadcast of the week with 2.17 million viewers, followed by E4's The Big Bang Theory (1.67m). More4's most watched shows were The Good Wife (five hundred and six thousand) and Building The Dream (four hundred thousand). Midsomer Murder was ITV3's most-watched drama with nine hundred and seventy seven thousand viewers, followed by Lewis (six hundred and ninety thousand). BBC4's weekly list was topped by The Richest Songs In The World (four hundred and ninety two thousand). BBC3's highest-rated broadcast was coverage of the Women's World Cup and England's opening game against France which drew 1.49 million. ITV4's best-watched broadcast was coverage of the TT 2015 (six hundred and fifty six thousand). 5USA's Chicago PD attracted five hundred and nine thousand. Sky Living's most-watched programmes were Bones (six hundred and eighteen thousand), Hannibal (four hundred and seventy four thousand) and Madam Secretary (four hundred and sixty seven thousand). Sky 1's Modern Family brought in nine hundred and five thousand viewers. On Dave, Storage Hunters UK was the channel's most-watched programme of the week - five hundred and ninety one thousand - followed by Blackadder The Third (four hundred and twenty five thousand), Mock The Week (four hundred and twelve thousand) and Qi XL (three hundred and sixty five thousand). Drama's latest New Tricks repeat was watched by three hundred and sixty thousand, whilst Watch's Grimm had an audience of five hundred and thirty six thousand and FOX's latest episode of NCIS was watched by seven hundred and fifty five thousand. NCIS also topped CBS Action's list (one hundred and sixteen thousand). On the Discovery Channel, Fast N' Loud had two hundred and thirty two forty eight viewers. Discovery History's One Day In Auschwitz was watched by thirty four thousand viewers, followed by Time Team (twenty thousand). On Discovery Turbo, Chasing Classic Cars drew fifty six thousand. CI's A Town & Country Murder had an audience of fifty one thousand, whilst ID's Bloodlands drew sixty thousand and Deadly Women fifty nine thousand. National Geographic's Wicked Tuna was watched by eighty thousand. Yesterday's Great British Railway Journeys was seen by one hundred and eighty nine thousand. The latest episode of Universal's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit had an audience of one hundred and sixty nine thousand. Gold's Bob Monkhouse: Million Joke Man attracted two hundred and seventy six thousand punters. The - quite thrilling - first ODI international between England and New Zealand was Sky Sport 2's most watched broadcast with four hundred and twenty five thousand.

Netflix's ambitious new series The Crown just got even more exciting, as the streaming service announced this week that yer actual Matt Smith has been cast as a young Prince Philip. Respect to the Greek. The former Doctor Who actor will play the Duke of Edinburgh and joins an all-star cast in the drama, which also features Wolf Hall's Claire Foy as the young Queen Elizabeth and John Lithgow as Winston Churchill. For Claire, it'll be a nice change of pace since the last time she played a queen in a TV drama, she ended up getting her head cut off. The Crown, which is believed to be costing one hundred million smackers and is inspired by the play The Audience, follows the story of Her Maj and her relationships with various prime ministers in the post-war era. According to Netflix, the drama 'tells the inside story of two of the most famous addresses in the world - Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street - and the intrigues, love lives and machinations behind the great events that shaped the second half of the Twentieth Century.' Each season will focus on a different decade in the Queen's reign, with the first run of episodes focusing on her coronation, in 1953, and her fledgling relationship with Churchill. The show - the first original UK commission for Netflix - comes from The Queen writer Peter Morgan and Stephen Daldry, who directed Helen Mirren in The Audience. All ten episodes of The Crown will première in all Netflix territories in 2016.
The final Top Gear episode to feature Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May will be broadcast on BBC2 on 28 June, it has been announced. The seventy five-minute programme will feature two films with the three presenters recorded before Clarkson's contract was not renewed earlier this year. Broadcast in the programme's traditional 8pm Sunday slot, it will quite possibly be Top Gear's most-watched episode ever given all the pre-publicity around the show and Clarkson, Hammond and May's departure. The BBC said that the trio would 'immerse themselves in the lifestyle of the traditional classic car enthusiast' and try to become 'lifestyle leisure enthusiasts' on a budget of two hundred and fifty smackers each. The final Top Gear to feature all three presenters will be up against coverage of the Glastonbury music festival on sister channels BBC3 and BBC4. New publicity photos for the one-off special show Hammond and May hosting studio links alone, suggesting that yer man Jezza his very self will only appear in filmed segments.
James May might not be returning to Top Gear, but he has been confirmed to present a new live BBC2 motoring show. Kate Humble and Ant Anstead will co-host Building Cars Live, which explores the science behind car production from BMW's MINI plant in Oxford. The two ninety-minute episodes of Building Cars Live will be broadcast in the autumn, with Cap'n Slowly enthusing: 'I can't wait to build a car. Live.' Humble added: 'To be broadcasting live from the production line of one of the world's most recognisable cars will be hugely exciting and give us a brilliant insight into what goes into creating the vehicles we all take so much for granted.'
Meanwhile, the BBC has denied that it invited Jeremy Clarkson back as host of Top Gear. Jezza told the Sun, for whom he writes a regular column, that an unnamed BBC executive had 'asked if I'd come back to Top Gear' last week. But Clarkson said that he refused: 'It would have been impossible to make the show I'd want to make,' he said. A BBC spokesman said: 'We haven't offered another Top Gear contract. The BBC had placed on record its thanks to Jeremy for his broadcasting on the programme and wish him well for the future.' Jezza told the Sun that returning to the Top Gear role 'was never an option. Too much has gone on. After I'd been compared to Jimmy Savile by someone from the BBC and it was splashed all over a Sunday newspaper, how could I go back?' He added: 'The spotlight would have been on me and the show would end up being neutered. It would be difficult to do anything without interference.' The fifty five-year-old presenter has also revealed plans for a new motoring show to rival Top Gear, which is set to return to BBC screens next April. It is anticipated that Clarkson's former co-hosts, James May and Richard Hammond will also join the new venture.
Chris Evans has revealed that he's received the blessing of Top Gear's former hosts, after it was announced earlier in the week that he would be taking over the show. Speaking on his Radio 2 breakfast show, he said that he had had texted Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May before the announcement was made. Hammond wished him good luck and said that he 'didn't blame' Evans for taking the job. Clarkson also wished Evans 'the best of luck', Evans said. Clarkson 'then gave me a piece of advice which I'm not going to repeat on the radio.' Cap'n Slow's comments, if any, were not revealed. Evans has suggested that Clarkson could have eventually returned to the programme. Speaking on The ONE Show, Evans said that maybe Clarkson could have come back to the BBC motoring show 'after a year', had James May and Richard Hammond not turned down a deal to return. But, Clarkson's comments in the Sun seem to suggest otherwise. Evans has signed a three-year deal to host Top Gear and will be holding open auditions for potential co-hosts who are passionate about cars, saying that they can be 'male [or] female, young or old - it doesn't matter.'
This blogger's opinion? Yer actual Keith Telly Topping likes Chris Evans, always has done and the recent one-off revival of TFI Friday reminds us of what a clever and impressive broadcaster the Ginger Ninja can be when given good material to work with. But ... I really think he's onto a hiding to nothing taking on the Top Gear gig. Time will tell. It usually does.

Less than twenty four hours after Chris Evans was named as Jeremy Clarkson’s replacement on Top Gear, the BBC appeared to have done a handbrake turn over his comments that the programme would 'one hundred per cent' feature a female co-presenter. BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw said that there would be 'no gender diktats' on the show which will return next year with Evans and an all-new presenting line-up. Shillinglaw said that she would look to address the lack of women on the hit BBC2 programme, which she said had 'always been a very male world', but not, necessarily, by having a female co-host. She said the new incarnation of the motoring show would feature 'more audience participation', including the prospect of viewers being able to take part in the 'star in a reasonably priced car' challenge. Asked whether he would have a female co-presenter in a 5Live interview on Wednesday morning, Evans said: 'Absolutely, but not for the sake of it. Yes, I can confirm that. Definitely. One hundred per cent.' Evans' response immediately prompted speculation that he would be joined on the show by former model Jodie Kidd or by the divine Goddess that is Suzy Perry. Shillinglaw said the issue of a female co-presenter was 'a really interesting question. It has always been a very male world hasn't it?' she told Steve Hewlett on Radio 4's The Media Show. 'I think it's a part of thinking about how we could do things differently, to get a lot more spontaneity into the show. What I would say is, it will be about what's right for the show.' Shillinglaw, who put more women on screen in her former role as the BBC's science and natural history chief, said: 'I really care about women on television. I really care how that sits in terms of the channel mix as a whole on BBC2.' But she added: 'I have never in my life thought about an individual show in terms of gender diktats and I certainly wouldn't start doing that now.' Alleged 'sources' allegedly close to Top Gear allegedly snitched to the Gruniad Morning Star that the programme 'would have a much stronger female presence in its new incarnation', but not necessarily with a woman co-presenting every week. Shillinglaw confirmed Evans' comment that Hammond and May had turned down the opportunity to return to the series without Clarkson. Evans said that the pair's decision to turn their back on the show had prompted BBC bosses to contact him last week to offer him the job. 'In the end a deal was offered to them and [Hammond and May] felt that deal wasn't quite right for them. You know what, that’s absolutely their choice,' said Shillinglaw. 'The important thing was there weren't multiple conversations going on at any one time. We felt we wanted to do this right and do this respectfully. Everyone as far as I am aware has conducted themselves with real grace and thoughtfulness.' Shillinglaw, who met Evans face-to-face for the first time on Monday, said he was a 'brilliant' producer and presenter and a 'very wise man, having had an awful lot of ups and downs in his career.' Asked if the BBC had 'learned lessons' from the Clarkson controversy, Shillinglaw said: 'I think we all learn, all the time, on a daily basis, things happen, things go wrong. It was a very human situation and there are a lot of people who wish it could have played out differently at a human level but we are where we are. It's really exciting to look forward to the next stage in this show's history.'

Sir John Hurt has revealed that he has been diagnosed with early-stage pancreatic cancer. In a statement released to the Press Association, he said: 'I have always been open about the way in which I conduct my life and in that spirit I would like to make a statement. I have recently been diagnosed with early-stage pancreatic cancer. I am undergoing treatment and am more than optimistic about a satisfactory outcome, as indeed is the medical team. I am continuing to focus on my professional commitments and will shortly be recording Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell (one of life's small ironies!) for Radio 4.' Alex Ford, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer UK, the only national charity fighting pancreatic cancer, said: 'We were deeply saddened to learn of Sir John Hurt's recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer – but eternally grateful for his openness in talking about the disease and his treatment. This can only help raise much needed awareness of pancreatic cancer and the importance of early diagnosis. Importantly, John's attitude and optimism will provide hope for many others affected by this disease. We wish him the best with his treatment.' John was awarded a Knighthood for his services to drama in the Queen's New Year Honours list recently. Of course needless to say, all of us here at From The North wish Sir John a speedy and successful recovery.
BBC dramas Happy Valley, The Missing and Marvellous have won multiple awards at the Monte Carlo television awards. Happy Valley won best European drama series and Sarah Lancashire was awarded outstanding actress in a drama series. The Missing won best mini-series and outstanding actress for Frances O'Connor. Marvellous picked up three awards - best television film and outstanding actor and actress for Toby Jones and Gemma Jones. Crime drama Happy Valley was a ratings and critical hit when it was first screened in 2014. It followed police sergeant Catherine Cawood, (played by Lancashire) who stumbles on a kidnap plot as she pursues a man she holds responsible for her daughter's suicide. Written by Sally Wainwright, it won a TV BAFTA for best drama and a new series is due later this year. Also set to return is fellow crime drama The Missing. It starred Jimmy Nesbitt begorrah be'jesus alongside O'Connor, as parents of a boy who goes missing on holiday in France. TV film Marvellous has been nominated for numerous awards. In the true story, Toby Jones played Neil Baldwin, a man with learning difficulties who does not let them hold him back from leading an extraordinary life. Jones won best actor at the Broadcasting Press Guild awards for the role. Also at the Monte Carlo Television festival, The Amade Prize was given to ITN for their report on the desperate struggle to save Iraq's Yazidis.

Tony Hall has warned the government not to 'screw around' with the UK's broadcasting ecology in an interview setting out the BBC's stall ahead of charter renewal. Well, it's about time somebody at the BBC showed a bit of sodding backbone for a change and stood up the bullies in the Tory party and their sneering lickerty-split pals in the right-wing press (and the left-wing press for that matter). Let's have a hell of a lot more of it. Speaking publicly for the first time since the general erection, the Director General told Broadcast that the £145.50 licence fee will be 'safe for the next decade' and represents good value, even for the poorest in British society. He refused to guarantee the safety of any BBC service amid fears of funding cuts and called for charter negotiations to be kept clear from future general erections to 'relieve political pressure' on the corporation's news reporting. The sixty four-year-old Director General also committed his future to the BBC for 'at least' the next three years. Hall described the BBC as 'one of the engine rooms' of the UK's £76.9bn creative industries which, he argued, are 'a major source of economic growth' and 'bolster Britain's standing overseas.' He said that the whole PSB system would be damaged if the BBC was 'diminished' during charter review. 'One of my pleas would be: this ecology works. Don't screw around with it,' he warned. Hall said that the mixture of Sky's subscription model and the different ad-funded operations of ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five dovetails well with 'a licence fee-funded operation, which is and should be obsessed about quality, about doing things that others are less likely to, and about taking risks.' Hall said that he was 'confident' the licence fee will remain at the heart of the BBC's new operating agreement, which comes into force in 2017, meaning the corporation can continue providing content for all. 'Great things, great content, great programmes should be available to everybody, whoever they are, wherever they live. Rich, poor, Northerner, Southerner, Scots, Northern Irish, whatever. This old BBC principle of universality is as valid today as it ever was,' Hall said. The former Royal Opera House chief executive admitted that the BBC is approaching a 'period of risk', but said that he welcomed 'a conversation' about the broadcaster's future. Referring to Broadcast's Backing The BBC campaign, he added that the corporation needs its 'friends to come around and support us.' He said: 'Our research shows that on all sorts of things like trust, or people's respect for the BBC, or need for the BBC, the data is better than it was a decade ago. Rather than fearing a debate about the BBC, I want a debate about the BBC.'

The new lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale will appear at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in August. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale will be interviewed by ITV News presenter Alastair Stewart about his plans for BBC charter renewal and the licence fee and the government's intentions – or otherwise – to privatise Channel Four. The festival's advisory chair, Sky Atlantic director Zai Bennett, said: 'We are delighted that the new culture secretary is coming to the TV festival in its fortieth anniversary year. There are few MPs more knowledgeable about the media than John Whittingdale and I'm sure the industry will be excited to hear his views on issues ranging from the impending charter renewal, to discussions on privatisation. This really is a session not to be missed.' But then again, Zai Bennett, when he was controller of BBC3, cancelled Ideal and, when he was boss at ITV2, commissioned Kerry Katona: The Next Chapter. So, frankly, if Zai Bennett told this blogger that black was darker than white or that he was able to tell the difference between his own arse and his own elbow, yer actual Keith telly Topping would require a second opinion before believing him. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale, who has previously described the licence fee as 'worse than the poll tax' - so, no obvious, sick agenda going down there, then - was appointed as secretary of lack of culture, media and sport last month after a decade as chair of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee. The MacTaggart lecture at this year's festival will be delivered by Armando Iannucci. The festival will run from 26 to 28 August.

Jon Snow (no, the other one) has defended the salaries of Channel Four's top executives, claiming that the broadcaster's performance justifies a large reward in the commercial sector. 'This is a channel putting business the way of something like three hundred independent film making companies,' said the Channel Four News presenter who, obviously, has absolutely no vested interest whatsoever in buttering up his bosses. Oh no, very hot water. 'It generates at least one billion pounds a year, it's profitable. I think in the corporate sector that would attract a fair amount of reward,' he claimed. 'It's a pretty amazing thing that a public service broadcaster can be wholly self supporting. And have a big impact.' Channel Four's results for 2014, released earlier in the month, showed the pay of chief executive David Abraham rose sixteen per cent to eight hundred and fifty five thousand smackers - almost twice as much as the Director General of the BBC - while chief creative officer Jay Hunt took home five hundred and eighty one thousand knicker, up seventeen on 2013. Both received the maximum thirty per cent bonus, despite a fall in audience share for its main channel. At the time the pay rises were announced, former Home Office minister Damian Green, who was then in the running to become lack of culture select committee chair, said that the channel needed 'to be sensitive at a time when the future of the channel is clearly under review.' Which, if you look up 'odious shit-scum political bully boy thug threats' on Goggle, you'll find that one quite close to the top.

Jane Tennison, the detective made famous by Helen Mirren, will return to ITV as a twenty two-year-old investigating her first murder case in a Prime Suspect prequel written by Lynda La Plante. The six-part series, called Tennison, will be set in 1970s Hackney and portrays a young Tennison starting out on her police career, experiencing London's violent criminal ganglands first hand. ITV said that the drama would 'reveal why she became such a complex and formidable character in the Metropolitan police', set in a world where 'high-ranking police officers were notoriously chauvinistic and the rules and regulations often bent.' ITV director of drama Steve November said: 'I'm delighted Lynda has revisited the iconic character of Jane Tennison. The scripts are brilliantly written and she perfectly captures the sights, sounds and mood of the 70s period.' The broadcaster announced details of the new drama on Thursday after La Plante revealed that she was writing a prequel to Prime Suspect last year. There are no details about who will play the young Tennison. It will be broadcast in 2016 to celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of the first Prime Suspect series, which broadcast on ITV in 1991 and, thereafter, ran intermittently until 2006. It has also been adapted for US television. Not very well, let it be noted. Mirren her very self, who brought DCI Tennison to life across seven series, was already pretty famous when the first Prime Suspect was broadcast, but the role made her a household name. ITV has already enjoyed success with a detective prequel with Inspector Morse spin-off, Endeavour, starring Shaun Evans and Roger Allam. The Prime Suspect prequel has been devised by La Plante who has written a book, also called Tennison, which will be published in September. La Plante said: 'I have very much enjoyed writing the young Jane, creating her family background and the start of her career in the police force. I do hope my readers will enjoy meeting her in September and viewers in 2016.' Separately, ITV has also commissioned an eight-part drama from Han Rosenfeldt, the Swedish creator of hit Scandiwegian serial killer drama, The Bridge. Rosenfeldt has created Marcella, his first drama specifically for UK television, with Nicola Larder, who was Sky's development executive on its own - not very good - adaptation of The Bridge, The Tunnel. Marcella is described as a 'Scandinavian noir on the streets of Britain' set in contemporary London about a single female detective, divorced and isolated from her daughter, working on a serial murder case. ITV has also commissioned a six-part drama series, The Durrells, by Men Behaving Badly creator Simon Nye, based on Gerald Durrell's classic trilogy of Corfu memoirs including the best-selling My Family & Other Animals.

The biggest question for the next season of NCIS is, will Gibbs survive getting shot, twice, by an angry twelve yer old? Anything could happen in NCIS, of course, as anyone who is a fan of the popular, long-running crime drama knows only too well. Even Mark Harmon, who plays the role of Leroy Gibbs, doesn't know if his own character is going to live next season - or, at least, that's what he's saying publicly. Appearing in The Late Late Show with odious, unfunny waste-of-oxygen James Corden recently, Harmon said that the show's success has been built of no one knowing if or when character would leave. 'This show births characters leaving, it always has,' Harmon told worthless glake Corden. He added, 'I think it keeps actors healthy. It's not my choice, number one, but I think anyone is replaceable.' For fans of Gibbs, this is not a good sign although, personally, this blogger would be astonished beyond words if Harmon, upon whom the show's massive worldwide popularity is largely based, wasn't back. Just this week it was announced that NCIS has won the title of the world's most-watched TV drama for the second year running. Even Corden - who knows nowt about owt - believed that it is impossible for Harmon to get sacked from the show. To which Harmon replied, 'Would they sack you? Yeah, maybe.' NCIS's executive producer Gary Glasberg said in an interview that 'regardless of the outcome, any time that Gibbs or one of our family members is in danger or injured, it significantly affects everyone. We'll have to see the long-term effects and the psychological effects, but they'll undoubtedly, as they always are, be there for each other. Then we'll see where it takes [us] as we move forward to the coming episode.' CBS has recently announced the première date of NCIS's thirteenth season, 22 September.

CBS has also confirmed that CSI will not return for a sixteenth season, but will conclude with a two-hour TV movie that will be broadcast on 27 September and will feature the return of original cast members William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger. It was also announced that Ted Danson will join the cast of the spin-off CSI: Cyber, presumably once his stint on Fargo has concluded.
Yer actual Paul Nicholas is to join the cast of BBC1's long-running soap EastEnders. The sixty nine-year-old will play Gavin Sullivan, the estranged husband of Gillian Taylforth's character, Kathy. 'I am delighted to be joining the wonderful cast for what is going to be an exciting time ahead,' said the actor, who appeared with ex-EastEnders actress Michelle Collins in the hugely forgettable BBC drama Sunburn. 'I can't wait to get started and seeing what's in store for my character.' Nicholas's EastEnders début follows Taylforth's surprise return to Albert Square during EastEnders' thirtieth anniversary celebrations in February. The actress's character, last seen in the soap in 2000, had been thought to be dead for more than a decade after a car crash in South Africa. 'We are all thrilled that Paul has agreed to join our cast to play Gavin,' said Dominic Treadwell-Collins, the show's executive producer. 'It's brilliant to have him back on our screens, playing a major part in Kathy's explosive return to the Square, while also holding the key to many more of the Square's secrets.' Nicholas began is career as a singer and pianist in the 1960s. Adopting the stage name Paul Dean, he formed Paul Dean & The Dreamers and played keyboards in Screaming Lord Sutch's backing band, The Savages. After taking the stage name Oscar, Paul began a long association with the Australian-born entrepreneur, Robert Stigwood. He released a series of - appallingly bad - singles, including a cover of the Pete Townshend song 'Join My Gang' and the absolutely notorious 'Over The Wall We Go', a novelty song about criminals escaping from prison written and produced by a very young David Bowie. Paul then made his name on the West End stage in such shows as Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair and, later, Cats and, finally had a couple of hits in the mid-1970s (who, in all honesty, can forget 'Grandma's Party' even if you want to?) Then, he landed the role of Vince Pinner in Just Good Friends. Created by John Sullivan the, inexplicably popular, sitcom - which ran from 1983 to 1986 - saw his character enjoy an on-off relationship with old flame Penny, played by Jan Francis. Nicholas has since enjoyed further success as a theatre producer and a recording artist and makes regular appearances in pantomime. The actor is currently touring the UK in a stage version of Agatha Christie's ... And Then There Were None, which plays this week at the Ashcroft Theatre in Croydon.

Writer and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig has claimed that she was turned down as the original host of the BBC’s long-running panel show Have I Got News For You because she was (and, indeed, still is) a woman. Toksvig, the outgoing presenter of Radio 4's The News Quiz, said that she recorded a pilot for the show twenty five years ago and was 'the preferred choice' of programme-makers. 'They made two pilots – one with me and one with Angus Deayton,' she told the new issue of Radio Times magazine. 'I was told by the producers that they preferred my version, but the channel decided they couldn't have a woman in charge.' Asked if this made her angry, Toksvig said: 'Of course, but it also made me feel inadequate and question whether I was really up to it.' 'The claims, albeit a quarter of a century later, will be an embarrassment for the BBC, coming at a time when its track record of employing women, both on-screen and in senior positions behind the scene, has come under close scrutiny,' claimed some bell-end of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star in a typically shit-stirring, trouble-making piece on Toksvig's claims. Toksvig, who will step down as the host of the radio show next week, later appeared as a guest on the first edition of Have I Got News For You in 1990, and has appeared regularly every since. Deayton was dropped as its presenter in 2002 after revelations about his private life. The show has since been fronted by a different presenter each week and has continued to thrive, watched by around six million viewers in its Friday night BBC1 slot. Toksvig said: 'I thought Angus was very good and he's an extremely nice chap, but I would not have been caught with either prostitutes or cocaine. So possibly I would have been a better bet in the long run.' The BBC looked to address the lack of women on its panel shows last year when its director of television, Danny Cohen, announced a ban on all-male line-ups. But the announcement,well meaning as it was, was criticised by several high-profile comics and presenters, including Dara Ó Briain, who said that the BBC should have evolved instead of legislating for token women. Ó Briain said he agreed with the policy but, by making it public, it might - and, to an extent has - undermined some people 'who’ve been on millions of times [and] suddenly look like the token woman.' Toksvig herself joined in the criticism last year, saying: 'I know there has been a great push to get more female panellists on television, and I don't think that's the answer. But if you get more female hosts, you'll immediately have more women taking part, without it causing any trouble at all. They bring a different tone and make it easier for other women to feel comfortable about participating, so I would be a big fan of more female hosts on quiz shows.' Toksvig, who succeeded Simon Hoggart on The News Quiz nine years ago, said that she was daunted when she first took charge of the long-running Radio 4 favourite. 'Even nine years ago having a woman in charge of the show seemed quite radical,' she said. She said that the morning after her first outing as presenter, the producer rang her to say there hadn't been a single complaint. 'What he meant was no complaints about a woman presenting,' she said. Toksvig added: 'I'm not giving up broadcasting. It's just, as a presenter, I can't be seen as overtly political and I do find that restricting.' Toksvig is one of the founding members of the new Women's Equality party, which plans to field candidates in the 2020 general erection. She said: 'I have made jokes over and over again about politics and I've had enough. This election, I decided that instead of making jokes about politics, I need to take part in it and therefore I can't make jokes and participate.' Asked whether the situation is better for women in broadcasting now, she said: 'I want to be positive and say "yes", but the election coverage was so predominantly male, it made me a bit depressed.' John Lloyd, the former Blackadder producer and creator of The News Quiz, hosted the original pilot of Have I Got News For You when it was going to be called John Lloyd's Newsround. Lloyd, who now makes another popular and long-running panel show, Qi, for BBC2, dropped out after deciding that he did not want to present the show full time. He described Toksvig's departure as 'a national tragedy. It is very exciting how many good female comics are out there now,' said Lloyd. 'It's fascinating how far attitudes have changed. It's difficult to know whether it's broadcasters being more proactive, but something [has changed],' he added. 'We used to complain how difficult it was finding enough women to fill panel games but in the last, I would say, less than five years, that has turned completely on its heads. There is a raft of incredibly good female comics out there.' A BBC spokesperson said: 'We're proud of the fact that the BBC of today has a huge range of women presenters across TV and Radio including Tess and Claudia, Mary Berry, Anne Robinson, Fiona Bruce, Clare Balding, Kate Humble, Clemency Burton-Hill, Clara Amfo, Annie Mac, Louise Minchin, Sophie Raworth, Emily Maitlis, Ritula Shah and many others.'

And, from that, to this ...
Channel Four has dropped The British Comedy Awards in order to focus on investing in new comedy series. The channel has held the exclusive broadcast rights to the arse-licking and back-slapping ceremony since 2010, but has decided against renewing the deal. According to Broadcast, a Channel Four spokeswoman said: 'After four great years on the channel we will be saying goodbye to The British Comedy Awards. Our focus moving forward is investing in new comedy series.' Channel Four originally signed a three-year deal to broadcast the 2010, 2011 and 2012 editions of the awards show, before extending the contract for two further years. Last year's event saw the odious, unfunny prick and lanky streak of rancid piss Jack Whitehall walk away with the top prize for the third consecutive year, after he was voted 'King of Comedy'. Which says it all, really.

British screenwriter Philip Gawthorne will write the screenplay for a modern day film adaptation of the classic TV series Kojak. Gawthorne, who has written predominantly for shows such as Casualty and EastEnders, takes over writing duties from James Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who wrote a previous draft of the screenplay. Kojak is intended to be a starring vehicle for Hollywood's Vin Diesel, who will also produce. The actor most recently starred in Furious Seven, with worldwide takings of more than $1.5bn. The original series - a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping - was broadcast from 1973-1978 and starred Telly Savalas (no relation) as the lollypop-sucking New York police Lieutenant Theo Kojak.
Alex Gibney's controversial scientology documentary, Going Clear, will be released in the UK, despite pressure from the Church of Scientology. UK lawyers acting on behalf of the organisation have contacted at least one company involved in the film's theatrical release warning of 'potential copyright infringement' should the film be screened in the UK. However, distributors and exhibitors are, according to reports, 'pressing ahead' with plans to show the film. The documentary sees Gibney question former members of the Church of Scientology - including the film-maker Paul Haggis - revealing alleged abuses and 'strange practices' within the organisation. The Church of Scientology has previously denounced Gibney's film as 'bigoted propaganda' informed by former members, whom it calls 'misfits'. It was released in US cinemas and on US TV in March, through HBO, drawing in more than five and a half million viewers and becoming the network's biggest documentary première in almost a decade.

The on-off saga surrounding Neil Gaiman's American Gods TV adaptation is nearing a conclusion as the production began casting, after securing its showrunning team. Gaiman said that he was 'confident that my baby is in good hands' after Starz, the premium cable channel that is now adapting the novel after HBO pulled out last year, confirmed it had started the casting process for lead character, Shadow Moon. The news comes after Starz confirmed – last July – that Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller and Michael Green will helm and write the series. Fuller and Green, who worked together on Heroes, added in a joint statement: 'Almost fifteen years ago, Neil Gaiman filled a toy box with Gods and magic and we are thrilled to finally crack it open and play.' 'I am thrilled, ‎scared, delighted, nervous and a ball of glorious anticipation,' said Neil his very self in a statement. He added: 'The team that is going to bring the world of American Gods to the screen has been assembled like the master criminals in a caper movie.' The announcement is the latest chapter in the American Gods story, which started when HBO began, and then dropped, the project in early 2014, leaving FremantleMedia – the company producing the series for Starz – to pick it up and attempt to bring it to the small screen. American Gods is one of Gaiman's most well-loved works and has been translated into more than thirty languages. Another of Neil's novels, Anansi Boys, is also currently in development to become a BBC mini-series. Though, thankfully, the proposed TV adaptation of Neil's masterpiece, The Sandman appears to be dead in the water. Which, frankly, is a hell of a relief to everyone.

And, speaking of Hannibal yer actual Keith Telly Topping was relieved this week that, after a superb opening episode and then a second one episode which rather meandered around without saying much, the third series of the dark-as-night drama got right back on song with episode three, Secondo. It included what might, possibly, be this blogger's favourite scene in the show so far. The one that end - no spoilers - with the line 'Technically, you killed him!' which was laugh-out-loud funny. If you've seen the episode, dear blog reader, you'll know the one I'm talking about. Maga and Gillian continue to be one of the best double-acts currently working on telly, it was nice to see Larry Fishburne back and Will actually had something to do this week. There's only, really, one question which urgently needs answering. Where the hell is Alana? Hopefully, we'll find out next week.
Former NBC news anchor Brian Williams has issued an apology for embellishing reports about his time covering the Iraq war. His slot anchoring the nightly news has now been permanently given to Lester Holt, who has been covering during Williams' suspension. Williams' has now been moved to the cable news network MSNBC to cover breaking news. 'I'm sorry. I said things that weren't true. I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I'm determined to earn back their trust,' he said, in a statement.
Swiss banks reported allegedly 'suspicious activity' around accounts of football's world governing body FIFA, according to the Swiss attorney general. Michael Lauber said that his office was analysing 'a huge amount' of seized FIFA data in its corruption inquiry. He said that he did not rule out interviews with FFIA president Sepp Blatter as part of his investigation. The investigation could lead to the reopening of the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. FIFA is facing claims of widespread corruption and rotten doings after Swiss police raided a hotel in Zurich at dawn and arrested seven of its top executives last month. The seven were dragged from their beds and held at the request of the US department of justice, which has charged fourteen current and former FIFA officials and associates on charges of 'rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted' corruption and badness. The charges follow a major inquiry by the FBI. Lauber told a news conference that his investigation was also looking at fifty three banking relationships reported by the Swiss financial intelligence unit. 'We are facing a complex investigation with many international implications. The prosecution is ongoing and will take time. The world of football needs to be patient - by its nature, this investigation will take more than the legendary '"ninety minutes,"' he said.
The scientist and broadcaster Professor Brian Cox (no, the other one) has said that it was wrong the way a Nobel laureate scientist was 'hounded out' of his university post over controversial comments he made about women working in laboratories. Coxy said that the remarks, by Sir Tim Hunt, had been 'very ill-advised' but that the response – which saw Hunt give up positions at University College London and the Royal Society – had been disproportionate. Brian's intervention came after the London mayor, Boris Johnson, said Hunt deserved to be reinstated after the 'over-reaction' to his comments. The seventy two-year-old scientist provoked a backlash on social media after he reportedly said the 'trouble with girls' in laboratories was that 'you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry.' He subsequently apologised for the comments – made at a conference in South Korea – saying they had been intended to be jocular and ironic, but said that he was told if he did not resign his position at UCL he would be sacked. Cox acknowledged that while there was 'a serious issue' about the 'perceived air of sexism' which deterred some women from pursuing careers in science, he said that he did not believe Hunt should have been treated in the way he was. Cox said Hunt was 'good person and a great scientist' and that as a man in his seventies, it was perhaps not surprising that Hunt was 'slightly unreconstructed.' Cox told BBC Radio 4's The World At One programme: 'You can make the argument that senior figures in science have to be first of all aware that there is a central problem of women progressing up to the highest levels of science and secondly, therefore, have to be mindful of that and careful of their language. On the other side, of course, there is the wider problem of trial by social media. People do make ill-advised comments from time-to-time so is it appropriate to hound someone out of their position at a university or indeed is it appropriate for the university to react in the way UCL in this case did and ask someone to resign or threaten to sack them? To have a Nobel prize winner – and by all accounts a great scientist and a good person – being hounded out of a position at UCL after all those years of good work and science, I think that's wrong and disproportionate – with the caveats I mentioned.' Coxy acknowledged that there were problems in getting young women to take up careers in science and engineering, and said there were 'big problems' that needed to be addressed when it came to career progression for women. 'There is a problem in science and engineering and the problem is that we don't have enough women going into certain areas, particularly engineering,' he said. 'In America and Europe around fifty per cent of PhDs are women so that's good. But if you look at senior positions in universities and on committees, about a fifth are occupied by women so trying to address that is a sensible thing to do.'

Wilko Johnson his very self and the surgeon credited with saving his life will be reunited this weekend at a cycling event to raise funds for research into pancreatic and bowel disorders. Doctor Emmanuel Huguet, who performed radical surgery on Wilko last year to remove a tumour the size of a football, will join more than one hundred and twenty GastroCyclists on the Cambridge-to-London Tour De France stage to the Olympic Velodrome, with Wilko greeting the riders at the finish line. 'I was lucky. I survived pancreatic cancer because of groundbreaking surgery. For too many pancreatic cancer is a death sentence,' said Wilko. 'I am pleased to support GastroCycle and Core because I want to ensure there are more people who are as lucky as me.'

Soft-core pornographer Richard Desmond has defended his newspapers' reporting of Madeleine McCann's disappearance in a BBC interview as 'fair', despite having to pay more than half-a-million smackers to settle defamation claims concerning the coverage. In an extraordinary interview on BBC Radio 4's The Media Show on Wednesday, in which Desmond also said that the had 'no regrets' about aligning his media empire with UKiP, Desmond was asked if he regretted the way Gerry and Kate McCann had been treated by his publications following the disappearance of their daughter in 2007. 'Do I regret [it]? No, I think we reported it very fairly,' he claimed. Seemingly, the jury did not agree. 'The McCanns had a PR company that wanted [them] to be on [the] front page. They wanted to be on the front page, to keep the story live,' he continued. Desmond, who also took umbrage at the description of his 'adult' TV channels and former magazines as 'pornographic' in the interview, defended the one hundred-plus articles which appeared in his Daily Scum Express and Daily Lies titles about the missing child. Tragically, he wasn't asked about other Lies articles, like the one that claimed Holly Valance was 'in discussions' to take over as the lead on Buffy The Vampire Slayer or the one about Lady Gaga's forthcoming appearance in Doctor Who (which included a series of entirely made-up quotes from an alleged TV 'insider' who didn't exist). Which, frankly, this blogger thinks was very much an opportunity missed. In March 2008, Desmond's Northern & Shell paid out five hundred and fifty thousand quid to settle defamation claims over more than one hundred different articles and published a front-page - and grovelling - apology in all of his newspapers. Desmond also claimed in the Radio 4 interview that he has 'no regrets' about personally donating £1.3m to UKiP before the last erection. 'Thank God I did that; supported UKiP,' he said. 'Thank God the Daily Express listened to its readers. The readers are fed up with being controlled by Brussels, we are fed up with uncontrolled immigration. We like immigration, but uncontrolled immigration cannot carry on. And I'm delighted that there'll be an European Union referendum. When we hear how David Cameron negotiates we will make our minds up.' And, the fact that his million notes plus bought him, and UKiP, but one MP? That was another question left unasked. Desmond also said that he has 'no problem' with talking about his past as a proprietor of adult magazines and being the current owner of the adult TV stations Fantasy Channel and Red Hot, but that he did not want them referred to as 'pornographic.' Which, they are. Soft-core, admittedly, but they still satisfy every single definition of what porn constitutes. 'I'm very happy to talk about Penthouse,' he said. 'I'm very happy to talk about the magazines that we published, which we sold twelve years ago. What I don't like is the other word. For me, that word I think of Paul Raymond, I think of drugs, I think of prostitution, I think of David Sullivan. Stuff which is pornography. For me, I'm a media group. Most media groups, including the BBC, do work in some way with adult material,' he said. 'Ofcom were delighted we bought Channel Five as we have a good rapport with them. Our adult channels are carried on Sky, Virgin, carried on Freeview, which I believe is owned by the BBC, carried on YouView.' Freeview, incidentally, is not 'owned by the BBC', it's a joint venture between the BBC, ITV, Channel Four, Sky and the transmitter operator Arqiva.

The formerly Desmond-owner Channel Five has commissioned Celebs On Benefits: Claim To Fame, a documentary following some z-list former celebrities who have found themselves relying on state support. Bruce Jones and Lisa Appleton are amongst those who will appear in the one-off, hour-long programme made by ITN Productions, looking at z-list celebrities who 'have had success before hitting hard times', reports Broadcast. And, gosh, but doesn't that sound like a really worthwhile exercise in self-loathing. Jones played taxi driver Les Battersby in Coronation Street for ten years before a drink problem, divorce and growing debt forced him to rely on benefits. He later appeared on Celebrity Big Brother. Also appearing is Appleton, who appeared on Big Brother in 2008. She describes how she went from 'experiencing the celebrity' that comes with a Big Brother appearance, to living in a flat she called 'a stinking, rat-infested hole.' And, we're supposed to, what, feel sorry for her? So, there you go, dear blog reader - everything that is wrong with television and, indeed, society, in 2015 summed up in one Channel Five commission. It is to be hoped that the mothers of those responsible for this utter horrorshow are all proud of them.

Scientists say they have the best evidence yet that there is hot lava spewing from the surface of Venus. The planet was known to have an active volcanic history but this is the best evidence yet for ongoing eruptions. Four 'hotspots' in a rift region of the planet's Northern hemisphere were seen to rise and fall dramatically in temperature over several days in 2008, suggesting an active lava flow. The observations were collected by the Venus Express probe. This European Space Agency mission arrived at the planet in 2006 and its findings had already hinted in 2010 that Venus might still be volcanically active. That evidence was compiled from infrared measurements, because the planet's surface is shrouded by a thick and swirling atmosphere. A distinct dark region towards the planet's south pole suggested lava deposits that were less than two and a half million years old. Then in 2012 Venus Express researchers reported a spike in the sulphur dioxide content of the Venusian atmosphere, which happened in 2006-7 and declined gradually afterwards. This was very evocative of a blast of volcanic activity, but could also have been a result of shifting winds. Now, images in near-infrared wavelengths snapped by the craft's Venus Monitoring Camera have revealed tell-tale, transient hotspots in a region called Ganiki Chasma. 'This latest evidence very much leads us to believe that we've finally found proof that the surface is tectonically active and changing today,' said Doctor Colin Wilson, an atmospheric physicist at Oxford University and the science operations coordinator for Venus Express. The pictures were first unveiled at a conference in March 2014 but have now been analysed in detail and published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. 'We have now seen several events where a spot on the surface suddenly gets much hotter, and then cools down again,' said Doctor Eugene Shalygin, the publication's lead author, from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany. 'These four hotspots are located in what are known from radar imagery to be tectonic rift zones, but this is the first time we have detected that they are hot and changing in temperature from day to day. It is the most tantalising evidence yet for active volcanism.' The hot areas could indicate a pool of lava, superheated rocks or even plumes of gas surging from beneath the surface. A combination of these scenarios is probably most likely, Wilson said. 'The region is a rift system on the flanks of a volcano,' he told the BBC News website. 'These rifts are formed when, for example, a magma chamber lying below fills up and causes expansion and fracture up above. We don't really know exactly what's happening, because the spatial resolution of the images we're getting is blurred by the overlying clouds, to fifty to one hundred km pixel size.' Radar data from previous missions revealed many volcanic peaks on Venus, most of which have shallow slopes, 'like Hawaii', Wilson explained. 'That implies fairly liquid, low-viscosity magma flowing down their sides.' But there are also signs that some Venusian volcanoes were rather more explosive. 'It seems that on Venus, as on Earth, we can have a variety of styles of volcanism,' Wilson said. Future Venus orbiter missions will reveal more detail about Venus and its intriguing, apparently active geology - including just how similar it is to Earth's. The successful eight-year career of Venus Express, however, ended when the craft ran out of fuel in November 2014. The orbiter plunged into the planet's hot, carbon-laden atmosphere in January.

Europe's Philae comet lander has been back in touch with Earth - its first contact since Sunday night. The communication was relayed by its mothership Rosetta, which is in orbit around the four km-wide icy dirt-ball known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The signal was picked up by the US space agency's huge Goldstone antenna in California and then passed to the European Space Agency in Germany. Before last weekend, Philae had been in hibernation for seven months. The robot lost power sixty hours after landing on the comet on 12 November - the consequence of bouncing into a ditch where sunlight could not reach its solar panels to generate electricity. With the comet now having moved substantially closer to the Sun, the illumination conditions have improved and Philae has come back to life. The communications with Earth - over a distance of three hundred and five million kilometres - have so far been very short, lasting just a matter of a few tens of seconds. A first contact came on Saturday of last week; a second was received on Sunday. Friday's is also very brief - two individual connections lasting two minutes each. This,however, was long enough to glean the health status of Philae, which appears to be good. 'We are very happy to have received signals from the lander again, and we are all working hard towards establishing a robust link between Rosetta and Philae,' commented Patrick Martin, ESA's Rosetta mission manager. Controllers are currently in the process of manoeuvring Rosetta closer to the comet to try to establish longer and more robust connections. This will see the separation brought down to about one hundred and eighty kilometres. In time, it should be possible for Philae to resume the science investigations of Comet 67P that were terminated when the power went down. The key experiment is to drill into the icy body, to determine its chemical make-up. This was tried during November's sixty-hour operating window but failed to produce a result, probably because the posture of the robot meant that the drill tool did not manage to touch any surface material. Engineers think that if they can command Philae to rotate itself in the coming weeks, it ought then to be possible to recover a sample. But this all depends on the power levels available to Philae in its shaded location. There are concerns also for the mothership Rosetta. It has only recently retreated from 67P to try to keep clear of all the gas and dust now coming off the comet as it warms up on its journey in towards the Sun. This blizzard of material has the potential to confuse Rosetta's automated navigation systems, and controllers must take care that they do not put the probe in harm's way as they work on building a better radio link with Philae.
A woman has told London's High Court that she was, allegedly, 'groped' as a fifteen-year-old by the - alleged - comedian Freddie Starr in dirty old scallywag and right rotten rotter Jimmy Savile's dressing room. Karin Ward, fifty six, alleges that the assault took place in 1974 behind the scenes of Savile's Clunk Click TV show (an early fore-runner of Jim'll Fix It). She claimed that she had been 'distressed' because Starr had an 'unpleasant' smell like her abusive stepfather. Starr, seventy two, of Studley in Warwickshire, denies the allegations and is seeking substantial damages and mucho wonga for alleged slander and alleged libel. The entertainer clains that he has lost three hundred thousand knicker from 'shows being cancelled' because of the allegations. He is suing over interviews given by Ward to the BBC and ITV in October 2012, statements made on a website and repeated in an e-Book about Ward's life. Mother-of-seven Ward - a pupil at Duncroft Approved School, in Staines in March 1974 - told the court that she had been sexually abused by filthy old bad'un Savile 'more than once' in return for going to BBC Television Centre in London and being in the Clunk Click audience. 'It was just what men wanted and I very much wanted to go on the telly,' she said. She added that she had been 'given lithium' at the school, which had affected her memory, but that she 'very vividly' remembered that Starr 'smelled of alcohol and cologne.' Challenged by Starr's counsel, Dean Dunham, that the comic had not touched her, Ward said: 'Oh, he did - but he behaved in the same way that every red-blooded male behaved in 1974 when it was perfectly acceptable. That wasn't what I objected to. I didn't like the way he smelt, reminiscent of my stepfather, and I would have preferred him to stay away from me but I wasn't really bothered. It wasn't a bottom pinch or a slap. It was known back then as a "goose", when a man would put his hand under a girl's buttocks and give it a squeeze and usually say "goose" and, at the same time, reach for her breasts and and say "honk, honk." That was supposed to be funny. He got as far as the "goose" and I recoiled because, while I expected that kind of behaviour from all men and was used to it, I was distressed because the smell reminded me of my stepfather.' Ward claimed that she had not complained 'because it was acceptable at the time.' Starr previously told the judge, who is hearing the case without a jury, that he did not, at first, remember appearing on the Clunk Click show and denied ever having heard of it, until footage emerged which showed him in the studio with Ward in the audience behind him. He said that the police undertook a full investigation into the allegation made by Ward and a further thirteen additional complainants who also put forward allegations. The Crown Prosecution Service decided that no charges would be brought. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

The UK press has headed for the Hebrides this week in the wake of news that thieves have raided the community shop on the previously crime-free island of Canna, population twenty six. So, that should narrow down the potential list of suspects, one would've thought/ The Torygraph's Hannah Furness, on Canna, reports that islanders believe they are 'hot on the heels' of the naughty culprits and that they will soon be banged up for their Hellish crimes. 'The question of how the thieves got into the store needed no forensic expertise: nobody locks their doors on the Hebridean island and if the shop's till is unmanned customers are asked to leave their payment in an honesty box, writing down what they have taken on a piece of paper beside it,' she writes. 'The issue of motive is rather more fertile ground. The items stolen from the Canna Community Shop included sweets, batteries and woollen hats usually bought by passing tourists as souvenirs. It is the hats, more than anything, that islanders regard as the biggest clue. Who, after all, would steal such distinctive items knowing that wearing one would be the equivalent of a hand-knitted mark of Cain?' The Torygraph comments: 'The crime wave is the worst since a wooden plate was stolen in the sixties. The consolation is that the culprit is likely to be an outsider. The woolly-hatted biscuit-eating serpent of this Paradise Lost has slithered into exile.'

The daughter of Captain Pugwash creator John Ryan has revealed how her father was 'traumatised' by that long-running urban myth about rude character names which never existed. Isbael Ryan said that her father's 'childlike innocence' was lost after a student newspaper in the 1970s created malicious rumours about the supposed smutty names of the TV show's characters. While it did feature a Master Mate and a Pirate Willy, characters like 'Seaman Staines', 'Roger the Cabin Boy' and 'Master Bates' simply did not exist on board the Black Pig or Cut-Throat Jake's Flying Dutchman. Yet the myth endured for years and even found their way into spectacularly lazy newspaper reports and several books. Small side-point here, but this blogger is very proud to claim that when he co-edited the first edition of The Guinness Book Of Classic British TV in 1993, Keith Telly Topping his very self and his co-authors, Martin and Paul, played our own small part in debunking this widely-published inaccuracy by pointing out that the cabin boy's name was Tom, not Roger and that Pugwash's first mate was always referred to as 'Master Mate' not 'Bates'. Ryan won substantial libel damages from two national newspapers - the Sunday Correspondent and the Gruniad Morning Star - in 1991 after they published stories which claimed - entirely falsely - that the BBC had taken Captain Pugwash off the air because of the risqué names. Although, they never quite explained why the animated cartoon ran, off and on, for nearly twenty years before someone noticed this, alleged, naughtiness. 'Kipper me captans,' indeed. 'Those stories are completely inaccurate,' Isabel told the Coventry Telegraph. 'They're urban myths that have been rubbished. My father was a very charming and innocent man. He would be the last person to make up such names. It really had a bad effect on my father for some time. These stories were entirely invented by a student rag. If you read a book or look at one of the strips, you will see that the character's names are Tom the Cabin Boy and Pirate Barnabas. Yes, there was a Pirate Willy, but back in those times people didn't think that way.' Ryan was forced to turn to the courts to salvage the reputation of his life's work, which he created in 1950 on a shoe-string budget with his wife, Priscilla. Isabel said: 'We had to sue the papers and the stories were retracted. He gave the money from the courts to lifeboat charities.' Sadly, John died in 2009 aged eighty eight.

England chased down a revised target of one hundred and ninety two runs from twenty six overs to beat New Zealand by three wickets and win the - utterly superb - five-game one-day international series at Chester Le Street. The Kiwis posted a total of two hundred and eighty three for nine from their fifty overs, with Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson making half-centuries. A lengthy series of showers during the interval restricted England's innings and they quickly stumbled to forty five for five having lost all of their in-form batsmen - Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Alex Hales and Ben Stokes. But, Jonny Bairstow's unbeaten eighty three led the hosts to a victory over the World Cup runners-up with an over to spare. The sides will now meet again on Tuesday in a Twenty/20 international at Old Trafford, which is England's final outing before the first Ashes test begins in Cardiff on 8 July. England scored the highest run total by any team in a five-match series - one thousand six hundred and seventeen runs. The five matches also contained the most boundaries from both sides in a five-match series - three hundred and ninety. This is the first time in ODI history that a combined total of three thousand runs has been surpassed in a five-match series. New Zealand - everybody in England's second favourite team after the way they have contributed thrillingly to both this series and the preceding drawn two test rubber - also scored their highest total of runs in a five-match series, fifteen hundred and thirty four. Most English cricket fans, frankly, wish we could play NewZeland every year. We'd lose as many games as we win but, God, it'd be entertaining. Before England turn their attentions to Australia, they can look back at a quite remarkable transformation in their one-day fortunes, after a disastrous period which culminated in their shambolic failure to get beyond the group stages at World Cup group just three months ago. This game, which sealed a first home ODI series win for England since 2012, lacked the explosiveness, and the runs, of the previous four in the series - at Edgbaston, The Oval, Southampton and Nottingham - but was not short on drama as England at one stage needed fifty four runs off thirty five balls with just three wickets remaining. Captain Eoin Morgan has tried to epitomise a new, attacking mentality for England, inspired by his Kiwi opposite number, Brendon McCullam, but his first-ball duck, finding the hands of Guptill with an attempted slog, summed up his side's struggles early on in their innings to chase down a target formulated by the Duckworth-Lewis method. There was also a memorable moment for New Zealand debutant Andrew Mathieson, who has played just nineteen first-class matches and has been representing Sidmouth in the Devon League, when he had Jason Roy caught with his first ball in international cricket. But,England's new attitude seems to be playing eight explosive batsmen in the expectation that even if most of them have an off day, one or two will come good. It took an eighty-run sixth-wicket stand from Sam Billings, who contributed forty one from forty balls, and Bairstow to spark England into life. Bairstow, only in the side because of a hand injury to Jos Buttler, was in a destructive - very Buttler-like - mood, crashing eleven fours on his way to a first one-day international half-century. He received vital support from his Yorkshire team-mate Adil Rashid, who scored an unbeaten twelve, to get England over the line. However, it was Rashid's bowling earlier in the day that may have piqued the interest of England's test selectors ahead of the Ashes. The twenty seven-year-old took two wickets and went for just four and a half runs an over, in a disciplined and wily display of leg-spin bowling. Things had looked ominous for the Kiwis when McCullum, one ball after crashing a six over long on, played a delivery from Steven Finn onto his stumps. And, while Guptill and Williamson staged a recovery, before Ben Wheeler led a late charge with thirty nine from twenty eight balls, England's bowlers were patient and effective, with Ben Stokes finishing with admirable figures of three for fifty two. England's one-day displays against New Zealand, have been 'everything we've strived for over the past few years' said Morgan after the game. 'We've come out of left-field. We've managed to deliver some entertaining cricket. Let's hope going into the Ashes that we maintain that level.' England set a number of records during the series and particularly impressed with the bat - scoring their highest ever ODI score in one game (four hundred and eight for nine in the opening game at Edgbaston last week) and recording their best ever run-chase (three hundred and fifty for three at Trent Bridge on Thursday). Highlights of the earlier games included Buttler hitting the second-fastest ODI hundred by an England batsman, off a mere sixty six balls, while Joe Root completed the fourth quickest in the series opener and further centuries for Root and Morgan in the fourth game. In between, New Zealand won two closely fought contests, with bucket-loads of runs from Guptill, Williamson, Ross Taylor, Luke Ronchi, Grant Elliott and Mitchell Santer in a series where the bowlers on both sides often found the going tough. McCullum said that he was, obviously, disappointed not to win the series, but believed that both sides had played their part in an enthralling five-match contest which saw memorable individual performances. 'It's been a tremendous series,' the Black Caps skipper said to warm and generous applause from yet another full house. 'The Test series was keenly fought and some of the cricket we've seen in this ODI series has been sensational. The wicket here wasn't as quick as others but we knew any score was going to be hard to defend. Credit to England, they held their nerve under pressure. They had the series on the line but managed to stay true to their attacking philosophies.' And, of course, in years to come those who were watching the games on Sky Sports will be able to tell their grandchildren they witnessed the moment when, ahem, 'the commentator's Holding, the bowler's Willey.'
Venezuelan TV presenter Yuvi Pallares - who appears to be geet dirty, by the look of things - has already developed something of a reputation for exhibitionism; on several previous occasions she has whipped her kit off and flashed her lady-bits on telly. This week, she's been at it again. Yuvi promised viewers that if Venezuela beat Colombia at the Copa America she would strip live on-air. They did. So, she did (with Greek subtitles, to boot).
Pallares, host of the subscription-based TV show Desnunando La Noticia, got aal nekked while announcing Venezuela's 1-0 victory over Colombia. Desnunando La Noticia is known for its stripteases during sports reporting. In a way that all the girls on Sky Sports News would, probably, love to but can't because Ofcom would have them over their knee in aninstant. 'We just want to say well done to all the teams who appeared in these first games. A big kiss and a message to the national team - we're with you,' Yuri said during the broadcast. In Spanish, obviously. This is not the first time that Yuvi has got her pants down the lads during a live broadcast. Last month, she got extremely nekked whilst reporting on Cristiano Ronaldo's love life. Before the Copa America began, eight female presenters from Desnunando La Noticia stripped to 'show support' for the Venezuelan team, apparently, and promised to celebrate each an every victory by going as nature intended during the live show. Gosh, imagine if Match Of The Day was like that, dear blog reader. No actually, on second thoughts, don't, it's simply too horrifying for words.

The BBC will dedicate a new series of programming across TV and radio to celebrating all things rock and/or roll this summer as part of the Rock 'n' Roll America season. BBC4, BBC Radio 2 and 6Music will all broadcast programmes that celebrate this genre, including a special three-part documentary series narrated by David Morrissey as well as rock-themed radio shows and specials. Rock 'n' Roll America will look at the beginnings of rock and/or roll music in the USA in the 1950s, before following its explosion around the world with the help of TV appearances by Elvis Presley and culminating with the game-changing arrival of The Be-Atles in America in 1964. David Morrissey will narrate the series, which also features exclusive interviews with a number of iconic names in music, including Ben E King, Tom Jones, Ronnie Spector, Jerry Lee Lewis and Don Everly. The first part of the new documentary series will première on BBC4 on 3 July, with parts two and three following on 10 and 17 July. Speaking of the series, BBC Head of Music Television and the series' executive producer Mark Cooper said: 'In the decade between 1954 and 1964 so much changed in America – musically and culturally. So many of the greats who helped define and kick-start that era are getting to the end of their lives. Now seemed like the perfect moment to celebrate that magical decade, to examine it journalistically and to try and give a sense of what it felt like to be young and alive and inventing something as new and wild and alive as rock 'n' roll.' The weeks leading up to the documentary will also see BBC Radio celebrating the rock and/or roll spirit with a number of dedicated programmes, including Sounds Of The 50s on BBC Radio 2 which launched earlier this month. Hosted by musician, producer and broadcaster Leo Green, the series pays tribute to some of rock and/or roll's greatest songs, performers and writers and will feature music by artists such as Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly & The Crickets. Also in honour of BBC's Rock 'n' Roll America season, 6Music presenter Wor Geet Canny Lauren Laverne will host a debate next month to discuss what rock and/or roll music means today with an hour-long programme set to be broadcast on BBC4 on 24 July.

Isn't it time for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, Keith Telly Topping hears you ask, dear blog reader? Why, yes. Yes, it is. Have some top quality Merseybeat. (The thing this blogger most loves about this particular clip, from ITV's Night Network if you're taking notes, is the fact that, whilst Lee Mavers looks about fourteen on it, Johnny Power looks about twelve! We were all young once, dear blog reader, but it seems The La's were young forever.)

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