Saturday, June 06, 2015

Up Front

The very excellent Rebecca Front - one of this blogger's favourite actresses - will appear in the next series of Doctor Who reuniting her with her former The Thick Of It co-star yer actual Peter Capaldi. Both won BAFTA awards for their performances in the BBC political comedy in 2010. Rebecca will guest star in an episode featuring the return of The Zygons, although her exact role in the show is currently being kept a closely guarded secret. It will be a double reunion on the show, Rebecca having previously starred alongside Jenna Coleman in the BBC1 drama Death Comes To Pemberley. The two-part adventure, written by Peter Harness, will also, as previously announced, feature two other returning semi-regulars, Jemma Redgrave and Ingrid Oliver alongside Capaldi and Coleman. A big Doctor Who fan, Rebecca has previously voiced audio versions of the show and has said that she would love to 'play a Doctor Who monster or something. That’d be brilliant.' She is not the first of The Thick Of It cast to reunite with Capaldi on the show, Chris Addison having appeared in last year’s series. Rebecca also starred in ITV's Lewis and recent BBC4 sitcom, Up The Women as well as The Day Today, You Can Choose Your Friends, The Rotters' Club, Kavanagh QC, Jonathan Creek, Big Train and Psychobitches among many others. Other guest stars confirmed for the new series include Maisie Williams, Michelle Gomez, Rufus Hound, Paul Kaye and Jaye Griffiths. When Rebecca first heard Capaldi had been cast in Doctor Who, she said that she 'sent him a really sweary text saying: "This is not fucking true? This cannot be true?" And he just said, "Please, we’re not swearing any more."' Rebecca said Capaldi was 'fantastic' in the role. 'It was a very complex, grown up portrayal – I thought it was really interesting.'

Prince Harry - fourth in line to the throne and with about as many brain-cells, albeit, a war hero and rightly praised for that - was apparently spotted 'flirting' with yer actual Jenna Coleman at a recent 'polo bash.' Quite what young Jenna her very self was doing at a 'polo bash' (and, indeed, what any self-respecting individual with Working Class roots would be doing at such a heinous snob-fest) is another matter entirely. Considering the actress is currently alleged to be dating Game Of Thrones' actor Richard Madden, one imagines she and Hazza weren't getting too close, despite the thirty-year-old Ginger Ninja being pictured with his wandering hand caressing Jenna's shapely knee on the front page of the Sun.
Still, it got the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama some coverage in the tabloids so, you know what they say, there no such thing as bad news.
There are 'early indications' that the second episode of FOX's forthcoming The X-Files revival may be a sequel to the thoroughly rotten series four episode Home according to the TVLine website. Episode two of the six-part continuation of the cult 1990s SF drama is rumoured to be entitled Home Again, with Glen Morgan both writing and directing of the episode. Morgan, wrote the original Home with James Wong. And, it is a quite staggering blot on both of their - otherwise, very impressive - CVs. If this malarkey does occur, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping refers all of you lot to the following, if you will, x-tract from X-Treme Possibilities: A Comprehensively Expanded Rummage Through Five Years Of The X-Files (Cornell P, Day M, Telly-Topping K, Virgin Books 1998), still extremely available for Kindle download from Amazon for just three English pounds and ninety nine English pence. What? What?: 'Sick. There's nothing redeeming in this dreadful waste of time and talent, just waves of repulsive images. Defenders of this episode have described it as a tribute to horror movies and accused me of being squeamish. Not a bit of it, if Home had an ounce of originality behind the gore, then it might have still worked, but the episode is just a bunch of borrowed plot devices strung together for effect; echoes of To Kill A Mockingbird and Psycho at the beginning give way to a depressingly ugly series of set-pieces taken from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes. The US transmission contained a pre-titles warning of the carnage to come ("Due to some graphic and mature content, parental discretion is advised"). Pity they didn't include a warning about insulting the audience's intelligence too. Only two things save it from complete disaster - the previously mentioned Mulder/Scully scene, which is charming, and Mulder's discovery of a newspaper from the day Elvis died. I can't believe the writers of E.B.E, Beyond The Sea and Blood wrote this abomination. Dreadful.' So ... this blogger was not a fan.

Speaking of From The North favourite, yer actual Gillian Anderson, a quick word about her performance in the opening episode of Hannibal series three. Or two words, actually. Bloody and marvellous. 'Please let it be a fairy tale.' Next ...
Whilst series regulars Hugh Dancy and Caroline Dhavernas were absent from the opening episode of Hannibal series three - which mostly concentrated on Hannibal Lecter and Bedelia Du Maurier's new,and jolly strange, life in Florence - the episode did bring back another old favourite, Eddie Izzard. Of course, Eddie's character - Abel Gideon - died in a very grizzly manner at the hands of Hannibal in season two, but a number of flashback scenes were shown, as Gideon was faced with his final supper ... his own body parts. However, these scenes almost didn't happen as executive producer Bryan Fuller explained to the Zap2It website this week. Fuller admitted the Eddie his very self was 'initially hesitant' about returning and didn't want his character to simply be eaten at the table. Therefore, Eddie worked with the producers to craft the form of those scenes. While Gideon was going to die, Eddie apparently didn't want his character to be seen as the victim. It was also revealed that Mads Mikkelsen loves working with yer man Ed too. The pair apparently improvised a lot of the dialogue in these scenes, including Gieon's memorable line of possible foreshadowing: 'It won't be long until someone takes a bite out of you.' The trailer for the next episode reveals - hurrah! - that Will and Alana are back.
Big Brother fell below one million overnight viewers on Thursday. The Channel Five Victorian freak show brought in nine hundred and twenty eight thousand punters in the slightly earlier timeslot of 9pm, down around seventy thousand overnight viewers night-on-night. Earlier, Jack The Ripper: The Missing Evidence was watched by five hundred and sixty one thousand at 8pm, while No Going Back was seen by five hundred and twenty seven thousand at 10pm. ITV's documentary Britain's Busiest Airport - Heathrow topped the ratings outside of the soaps, with 3.12m at 9pm. Earlier, Big Box Little Box had an audience of 2.33m at 8.30pm. BBC1's Watchdog also brought in 3.12m at 8pm, while The Truth About Your Teeth interested 2.88m at 9pm. Question Time followed with 2.29m at 10.45pm. BBC2's Antiques Road Trip continued with 1.25m at 7pm, before Springwatch appealed to 2.21m at 8pm and The Game gathered 1.31m at 9pm. Qi brought in eight hundred and thirty thousand at 10pm. On Channel Four, Born Naughty? averaged 1.21m at 8pm, while Dementiaville was watched by 1.01m at 9pm. E4's The Big Bang Theory passed the one million mark with 1.03m at 8.30pm.

BBC1's Have I Got News For You led Friday's overnight viewing figures with an average audience of 4.35 million. The topical panel show, guest-hosted by Jack Dee, attracted an audience share of twenty two per cent at 9pm on what was, generally, a rather dreary and disappointing night across all channels. BBC1 previously brought in 2.42 million for The ONE Show at 7pm, 2.09 million for A Question Of Sport, followed by 2.32 million for the umpteenth repeat of The Vicar Of Dibley at 8.30pm. Mrs Brown's Boys was seen by 2.83 million at 9.30pm, before The Graham Norton Show attracted 2.67 million at 10.35pm. On BBC2, Antiques Road Trip was seen by 1.05 million, followed by 1.98 million for Mary Berry's Absolute Favourites and 2.17 million for Gardener's World. Kate Humble: Living With Nomads attracted an average audience of 1.53 million at 9pm, while The Clare Balding Show at 10pm was seen by seven hundred and ten thousand punters. Gino's Italian Escape brought 2.09 million viewers to ITV at 8pm, followed by 1.82 million for a Doc Martin repeat. On Channel Four, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD attracted six hundred and twenty thousand at 8pm, with 1.28m for Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown at 9pm. Alan Carr: Chatty Man entertained 1.13 million at 10pm. Channel Five's Big Brother live eviction episode attracted 1.18m. Earlier, the documentary Holy Grail Conspiracy: Secrets Of The Knights Templar was seen by six hundred and eighty eight thousand.

Friday's Have I Got News For You paid a warm and genuine tribute to one of its regular contributors over the years, the late Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy. The usually dead cynical BBC show remembered its sometime presenter and panellist by showing clips of his early and latest appearances. As guest host Jack Dee read out the final scores, he told viewers: 'Of course the scores have always been hotly contested on this show. Here's a friend of the show who always had the right attitude even when he hadn't won.' The programme then cut to a well-remembered vintage clip from the early 1990s of a fresh-faced Charles joking about how he and Paul Merton, despite coming second, were causing a shift in politics and admitting that he would have been 'very happy' to come second in an erection. In a second, more recent, clip Charles traded one-liners with Jezza Clarkson after being asked about the government's plans to imprison bankers. Kennedy replied: 'It's a bit stupid for David Cameron to suggest this, he hasn't got anywhere to put them for a start and probably most of them are voting Tory. Aren't they, Jeremy?' After yer man Jezza replied that he could not understand Scottish, Charlie replied: 'Don't worry, most people in Scotland can't understand voting Tory either!' This blogger was always something of an admirer of Kennedy, a humorous and likeable chap as well as being a principled politician who always said what he believed in even if it wasn't the most popular thing that people wanted to hear. As a Liberal leader, he took his party to their greatest erectoral result since the 1920s in 2005 when they won sixty five seats. How ironic that just a few weeks before his horribly untimely death he should have lost his own parliamentary seat in a virtual Lib Dem wipe-out almost entirely due to public hatred of the man who took his job, the odious and loathsome Clegg, and his betrayal of manifesto pledges in 2010, the sort of thing that Charlie Kennedy would never have dreamed of doing. All politicians are scum, dear blog reader, but some are marginally less scummy than others and Charlie Kennedy certainly fitted into the latter category. The results of a post-mortem examination released on Friday revealed that Kennedy had suffered 'a major haemorrhage' as the result of his long, and very public, fight with alcoholism.
The Champions League final appealed to more than four million overnight viewers on ITV on Saturday. Barcelona's victory over the hunchbacks of Juventus, the Catalans winning the première European club competition for a fifth time, averaged 4.06m with a peak of around six million punters at 9.30pm. On BBC1, The National Lottery: Who Dares Wins was watched by 2.99m from 8.05pm. Casualty and The John Bishop Show managed 3.68m and 3.3m respectively. On BBC2, a Dad's Army repeat drew an audience of 1.44m. Pinewood: Eighty Years of Movie Magic took 1.28m in the 9pm hour. Channel Four's broadcast of Anna Karenina averaged four hundred and seventy eight thousand viewers, while on Channel Five, the latest Big Brother lowlights managed six hundred and forty eight thousand. ITV3's Foyles War topped the multichannels with six hundred and eighty eight thousand from 9pm. Sky Sports 1's coverage of the Champions League final attracted four hundred and ninety seven thousand from 6pm.

Home Fires topped the overnight on Sunday. ITV's - pretty decent - World War II-era period drama returned after a two-week break with an audience of 4.74 million at 9pm. Earlier in the evening, Catchphrase was watched by 1.72m at 6.30pm before another flop revival, Celebrity Squares continued with but 1.86m at 7.15pm. Sunday Night At The Palladium had an audience of 3.05m at 8pm. BBC1's Formula One coverage was the second most-watched programme of the evening with 4.62m punters tuning in to watch, for once not sulky and childish, Lewis Hamilton win the Canadian Grand Prix from 6.30pm. The latest episode of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell saw its overnight audience collapse to but 1.78m at 9pm. Guess that one really hasn't connected with viewers, which is a shame as it's, actually, pretty good. Still, you know what they say, it's no good making the greatest TV show in the history of the world if you can't get any bugger to watch it. Antiques Roadshow's temporary move to BBC2 due to the motor racing dented its usual ratings performance with 2.54m following it to another channel at 8pm, while Armada: Twelve Days to Save England had 1.83m at 9pm. Location, Location, Location interested nine hundred and ten thousand at 7pm on Channel Four, while For The Love Of Cars continued with seven hundred and ninety thousand at 8pm. Channel Four's Comedy Gala 2015, featuring the likes of Michael McIntyre, followed with 1.22m at 9pm. The Wedding Date averaged seven hundred and ninety five thousand on Channel Five at 7.15pm, while Big Brother continued with nine hundred and thirty eight thousand at 9pm. BBC3's coverage of the Women's World Cup was seen by five hundred and twenty three thousand from 8.30pm.

Here are the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty programmes, week-ending Sunday 31 May 2015:-
1 Britain's Got Toilets - Sun ITV - 12.39m
2 Coronation Street - Thurs ITV - 9.47m
3 The FA Cup Final: The Arse Versus Aston Villains Nil - Sat BBC1 - 7.54m
4 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 6.23m
5 Countryfile - Sun BBc1 - 5.91m
6 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 5.36m*
7 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.21m
8 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.08m
9 BBC News - Sat BBC1 - 4.77m
10 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 4.56m
11 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.32m
12 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.21m
13 The National Lottery: Who Dares Wins - Sat BBC1 - 4.12m
14 The John Bishop Show - Sat BBC1 - 3.88m
15 Pointless - Mon BBC1 - 3.86m
16 The ONE Show - Tues BBC1 - 3.79m
17 The Graham Norton Show - Fri BBC1 - 3.69m
18 ITV News - Sun ITV - 3.65m*
19 Film: Marvel Avengers Assemble - Mon BBC1 - 3.58m
20 Ninja Warrior UK - Sat ITV - 3.48m*
These figures, as usual, do not include iPlayer or ITV Player viewers. ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures in a week that was utterly dominated by Britain's Got Toilets. BBC2's week, by contrast. was dominated by Springwatch with the four nightly episodes occupying places one, three, four and seven in the BBC2's weekly Top Ten. Monday night's audience of 2.28m was BBC2's most-watched programme, followed by Gardeners' World (2.13m), Mary Berry's Absolute Favourites (1.88m) and Armada: Twelve Days To Save England (1.79m) Channel Four's top-rated shows were Twenty Four Hours In A&E (2.02m), Inside Jaguar: Making A Million Pound Car (1.77m), No Offence (1.69m) and Benefits Street (1.59m). Channel Five's highest-rated broadcasts were Gotham (1.52m), and Big Brother (1.37m). That's the second week in a row that Big Brother wasn't the bestt-rated programme on the channel, and this blogger is buggered if he can remember the last time that happened. Sky Atlantic's Game Of Thrones was, as usual, the mutichannels most-watched broadcast of the week with 1.95 million viewers, followed, also as usual, by E4's The Big Bang Theory (1.54m). Lewis was ITV3's most-watched show with eight hundred and sixty three thousand viewers. BBC4's list was topped by episodes five and six of 1864 (five hundred and forty seven thousand and five hundred and twenty thousand viewers respectively). Castles: Britain's Fortified History drew four hundred and sixty four thousand followed by One-Hit Wonder Number Ones At The BBC (four hundred and twenty thousand) and a repeat of the totally excellent Mary Beard documentary Pompeii: Life & Death In A Roman Town (four hundred and six thousand). BBC3's most-watched programme was a repeat of Monday's episode of EastEnders (seven hundred and twenty four thousand) in a top ten which includes five episodes of Family Guy, two episodes of American Dad! and not one single show actually made specifically for the channel. And there are still some people - mostly comedians 'very popular with students' - who will try to insist that putting BBC3 online isn't a good idea. ITV4's highest-watched broadcast was coverage of Europa League Live (seven hundred and ninety six thousand). 5USA's The Mysteries Of Laura attracted four hundred and fifty five thousand, Sky Living's best-watched programmes were Elementary (nine hundred hundred and fifteen thousand) and The Blacklist (eight hundred and ninety two thousand) and Sky 1's The Flash brought in 1.20 million viewers. On Dave, a repeat of that Top Gear special what got them Argies aal uppity and that was, by a distance, the channel's most watched programme of the week - five hundred and thirteen thousand. Drama's latest Judge John Deed repeat was watched by three hundred and nineteen thousand, whilst Watch's Grimm had an audience of four hundred and seventy two thousand and FOX's latest episode of NCIS's latest series was watched by seven hundred and eleven thousand. Good episode, too and a terrific cliffhanger with Gibbs getting blow'd up real good. The third episode of Wayward Pines had one hundred and forty seven thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Fast N' Loud had two hundred and sixteen thousand, Discovery History's World War II In Colour pulled in twenty nine thousand viewers and ID's Bloodlines drew seventy four thousand. National Geographic's Car SOS: Alfa Romeo was watched by one hundred and nine thousand.

The BBC's hopes of persuading James May and Richard Hammond to return to Top Gear 'may founder on disagreements over how the show would work without Jeremy Clarkson' according to yet another Gruniad Morning Star article about the programme. Well, there's a 'y' in the day so it's only to be expected. BBC2 executives have allegedly, made a multimillion-pound bid to persuade the two presenters to front the motoring show when it returns with a Have I Got News For You-style guest host replacing Jezza. But 'it is understood' - by the Gruniad if not by anyone that actually matters - that no agreement has been reached about how the show would (or could) work without Clarkson in its new format. BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw, who has previously said that 'conversations' with Hammond and May 'are ongoing', faces the challenge of reinventing the show without its star presenter when it returns to BBC2 next year. Both May and Hammond appeared to have ruled themselves out of returning without Clarkson, with media attention focusing on speculation about whom Shillinglaw would find to replace them. But, over the last week or so, it now appears that the BBC has approached both Hammond and May in the hope of persuading them to return to the show alongside a different guest presenter each week. The Gruniad states that it also 'understands' the talks have so far failed to resolve how the show would work in Clarkson’s absence, with May previously suggesting that the format would be 'lame' with 'a surrogate Clarkson.' A guest presenter would at least save the BBC the trouble of finding a permanent replacement, and open the door for a Clarkson return at some point in the future. But, disagreements have remained over how the show would work. 'The BBC was very keen to do something, even as an interim measure [with Richard and James], but they have been unable to think of a way of doing it that would work credibly and that everyone would be happy about,' an alleged, though anonymous (and, therefore, probably fictitious) 'source' allegedly snitched to the Gruniad like a dirty stinking Copper's Nark. 'It's a really difficult thing to do. It would be difficult to make a guest host work and the question is whether the show actually needs a substantial rethink and a complete reinvention.' The guest presenter role would echo the set-up on BBC1's panel show Have I Got News For You, which has had a different presenter each week - including, regularly, Clarkson his very self - after the departure of Angus Deayton in 2002. However, the role on Top Gear would appear to be rather more complicated, with the team shooting films over a period of several months rather than a one-off studio recording. Clarkson, Hammond and May held talks with ITV director of television Peter Fincham last month about presenting a rival show on ITV, although they would not be able to take with them the Top Gear name, which belongs to the BBC. They have also been linked with a move to US on-demand service Netflix albeit, again, not by anyone that you'd actually trust. The BBC is thought to have offered May and Hammond about a million smackers each to return to the show, double what they previously earned. May and Hammond returned to the Top Gear studios to record links for footage shelved after Clarkson's suspension earlier this year. The films, the last time the three will be seen together on the BBC for the foreseeable future, will be used in two special editions of the BBC2 show to be broadcast this summer. The pair recorded links and final scenes for the two remaining special shows, in which the threesome will compete against each other in limousines and vintage cars according to the Daily Mirra. An alleged - anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - 'source' allegedly said: 'Clearly, Clarkson's absence was referenced but he was not there - not even as a cardboard cut out. The films will be the last chance fans have to see him on Top Gear for a long time, possibly for ever. It is end of an era stuff.' Both men are still in negotiation with the BBC about their future. May is currently working on a BBC2 series about the history of cars, while Hammond has worked on a number of BBC1 projects. Both BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw and the BBC's creative director, Alan Yentob, have repeatedly stressed that the door is always open for Clarkson to return to the corporation at some point in the future. The BBC refused to comment on the Gruniad's speculation. Sadly, they didn't tell the middle class hippy Communist gobshites to piss off and mind their own business. Which would have been excellent.

Meanwhile, Jezza Clarkson his very self has actually been back at the BBC this week filming an episode for the next - M - series of Qi. Unless he turns up hosting Have I Got News For You before then, it will be Jezza's first BBC appearance featuring new material since, you know, that incident. The episode in question - Military - also features Jimmy Carr and the great Sheila Hancock on the guest panel and will be broadcast in the autumn. It was one of three episodes recorded this week, the others being Mix & Match, guest-starring James Acaster, Bill Bailey and Jo Brand and Mind with Wor Geet Canny Sarah Millican, first-timer Tommy Tiernan and Josh Widdicombe. The final three of the series' sixteen episodes will be filmed next week.
Comedy line of the week came from an unusual direction, Carol Carter and Keith Watson's write up on Big Brother in Metro: 'We could do the decent thing and ignore this completely. But this is a public service so yes, this exercise in ritual humiliation is still going. This death-throes series has a car-crash appeal: you can see Emma Willis's career go down the pan before your very eyes.' Respect.
Gary Lineker his very self will remain on the BBC for at least another five years. The former England, Leicester City, Spurs and Everton striker has signed a new deal with the corporation that will keep him hosting Match Of The Day, the BBC's Olympics and World Cup coverage and Sports Personality Of The Year among other programmes until 2020. 'I'm thrilled that my relationship with the BBC has been renewed and that I will continue to present Match Of The Day, FA Cup, major football tournaments and Sports Personality Of The Year. I'm already looking forward to getting the 2015-16 season under way,' Lineker said. Philip Bernie, the BBC's head of TV sport, added: 'We are delighted that Gary will continue to front the country's favourite football programme on the BBC, as well as leading our live football coverage. He is the outstanding football presenter of his generation, combining great authority from his very distinguished playing career with wonderful broadcasting instincts and sharpness - making him a true star performer.' Lineker was recently rumoured to be near to signing a deal with BT Sport to host its Champions League coverage alongside his BBC commitments. It has yet to be confirmed whether his new deal with the BBC will allow him to appear on other UK stations. Earlier this year, the BBC announced that its Premier League highlights coverage will continue for at least three more years.

Jason Manford has revealed that the Ordinary Lies cast have signed up for a second series. However, the comedian and actor added that it is 'on the BBC' to decide the future of the drama. The first series premièred in March and also starred Max Beesley, Michelle Keegan and Mackenzie Crook. Manford told the Digital Spy website: 'I knew it was good as soon as I was sent the script, so I knew we had a special show. And then once they filled the rest of the cast and we turned up at the read-through and I saw all the names and faces, I was like "Oh my God, this is going to be great." So, yeah it was really great fun and I was really pleased with it.' Manford went on to speak about the prospect of new episodes, saying: 'As far as a second series is concerned, your guess is as good as mine really. The numbers were good, the reviews are really great. It was trending online, people were talking about it the next day at work, which is what you want, the sort of water cooler chat. And more importantly, we're all contracted to do another series. That's what they do, they sort of sign you up for two series. So it's sort of on the BBC now, it's then whether they want to do it or not.' Manford concluded: 'To me, obviously it feels like a no-brainer, who knows what the weird process is of getting a second series, I have no idea.' Meanwhile, Manford - whom this blogger rather likes, to be honest - has landed himself yet another potentially crappy ITV format (to go with the last half-dozen he's been lumbered with) as he will host the incredibly unoriginal-sounding It's A Funny Old Week on ITV later this year, where he will look at the week's biggest and hidden stories in news, showbiz, culture and sport.

Whinges to Ofcom regarding the stunt dog used in the Britain's Got Toilets final have exceeded a thousand. Yes, dear blog reader, that's one thousand people, at least, with nothing better to do with their sad and sorry lives than whinge about trivial utter bollocks the likes of this nonsense. Makes you think, doesn't it? About ... something. Jules O'Dwyer and her dog Matisse won the talent show on Sunday, but it was later revealed that another dog, yadda, yadda, yadda. Oh, who bloody cares? Fer Christ's sake, people, grow the fek up. A spokesman for Ofcom said - wearily - that it had been contacted by one thousand and forty three disgruntled glakes by Thursday afternoon. The broadcasting watchdog said that the whinges would be 'assessed' before it decided whether to investigate or whether to chuck them into the gutter along with all the other turds. ITV said it had separately received one hundred and sixty five whinges about the show. Both O'Dwyer and Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads have said there was 'no intention to deceive' the audience. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads said 'no one set out to fool anybody' and blamed the 'confusion' of a live show for the 'mix-'up. Speaking on Thursday, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads said: 'I think now the dust has settled a bit we can accept that she won.' Dog trainer Jules O'Dwyer said she had always 'made it clear' that she used a team of dogs. Viewers whinged of being 'misled' - oh, the manifest tragedy - after they voted for Matisse to win. Figures have shown the dog act won by a two per cent margin, getting 22.6 per cent of votes compared with 20.4 per cent for magician Jamie Raven who came second. On Monday, O'Dwyer said that she was 'shocked and surprised' by the reaction, saying she used the second border collie to walk the parallel ropes because Matisse did not like heights. 'I was disappointed when people said I allegedly hid Chase and I was trying to make it [look] like Chase was Matisse. That's not so,' she said. 'I introduced Chase in the semi-final and I said "Chase is Matisse's best mate." Why put the pressure on the dog when I already have another dog who can perform it on television?' ITV's head honcho Peter Fincham has admitted that Britain's Got Toilets should have made the use of a stunt double 'clearer.' Fincham said those who had followed the series would have known O'Dwyer had more than one dog. 'In the audition it was made quite clear this was a dog act with a range of dogs. In hindsight, in the final it would have been better if that was clear.' The show's producers have also apologised: 'We are sorry if this was not made clearer to the judges and the viewers at home during their final performance.' More than thirteen million viewers watched the final, the highest rating for a final since Pudsey the dog won in 2012. A truly shocking indictment on ... whatever.

Here's a look at the trailer for the final episodes of BBC4's latest Scandi-wegian drama series 1864. The final two episodes of 1864 be broadcast on 6 June from 9pm. Reportedly, the most expensive Danish TV series ever made, 1864 stars Pilou Asbæk, Søren Malling and, indeed, most of the rest of the casts of The Killing and Borgen increasing the popular belief that there are only about twenty actors in Denmark but that all of them are really bloody good! The (frankly, shit-weird) eight-parter chronicles the Second Schleswig-Holstein War between Denmark and Prussia and Austria in, you guessed it, 1864.
The great Nichelle Nichols is reported to have suffered a stroke. 'Last night while at her home in LA, Nichelle Nichols suffered from a mild stroke,' her agent Zach McGinnis wrote on Facebook this week. 'She is currently undergoing testing to determine how severe the stroke was. Please keep her in your thoughts.' The eighty two-year-old was hand-picked by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry to appear in the original 1960s TV series as Uhura. Her casting, of course, broke many racial barriers, with Nichelle becoming the first black woman to share a kiss with a white man (William Shatner) on US television in 1966. Up until that point, African-American actresses had typically been cast in servile roles in TV and movies, playing housekeepers or maids. Fans of Nichelle's Star Trek role reportedly included Doctor Martin Luther King. In an updated post on Facebook, McGinnis reported that Nichelle was 'awake, eating, in good spirits and able to have full conversations. Her right side has shown minor signs or mobility loss but she is not showing any signs of paralyses. We greatly appreciate all of the love and support her fans are showing at this time.' Nichelle went on to star in several Star Trek films, between 1979 and 1991, including The Wrath Of Khan and The Final Frontier. Later in her career, she played the role of Nana Dawson in the 2006 TV show Heroes and made a guest appearance on Futurama alongside fellow Star Trek regular George Takei in 2002. She remains a working actress, and reported last month on Facebook that she had begun filming a sequel to Surge Of Power.

Fifteen To One will return for at least three more series. The revival of the popular Channel Four general knowledge quiz show - on which yer actual Keith Telly Topping once appeared, many years ago - has been commissioned for a total of one hundred more hour-long episodes for daytime. Hosted by Sandi Toksvig, the third series will be broadcast this summer. Channel Four commissioning editor for entertainment Ed De Burgh said: 'Sandi is undoubtedly one of Britain's toughest quiz mistresses, and we are delighted to welcome both her and the show back to the channel for three more series. We look forward to seeing Britain's smartest quiz minds take on the Fifteen To One challenge.' The third and fourth series will be filmed in Glasgow, while series five is planned to shoot in Manchester.

Writer, broadcaster and national treasure Stephen Fry has unveiled a Blue Plaque at the birthplace of one of his literary heroes. The plaque on a house in Wimbledon, celebrates the life and career of the historical novelist Georgette Heyer. Heyer, who died in 1974, was best known for her romantic novels set in the Eighteenth Century which sold in their millions. Stephen, himself a best-selling novelist of course, became a fan of her books during his school days. He said: 'She is a fabulous, witty writer who captured the life and language of Regency England superbly. I am delighted to see her honoured with an English Heritage Blue Plaque.' Heyer's biographer Jennifer Kloester, who proposed Heyer should receive the plaque, said she was 'a perceptive and witty writer.' Kloester said: 'With her Regency novels she created a genre and her readers return to her books time and again for their memorable characters, clever plots and humorous dialogue. Though often self-deprecating, Georgette Heyer actually loved writing and would have been thrilled at being accorded the honour of a Blue Plaque.'
It's been a busy week for Stephen as, in addition to filming three episodes of Qi, he also a lecture in honour of Oscar Wilde at Reading Town Hall on Thursday. Stephen gave the inaugural lecture at the venue organised by the University of Reading. He told the audience at the sold-out event how he 'became obsessed' with Wilde's work after seeing an adaptation of The Importance Of Being Earnest on television as a child. 'He really was a lord of language,' Fry said. 'He spoke to me so clearly.' Wilde was incarcerated in Reading during the 1890s, which inspired his epic poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Stephen - who, of course, played Wilde in Brian Gilbert's acclaimed 1997 biopic - visited Wilde's old cell at Reading Prison before he delivered his hour-long lecture, and took questions from the audience. Stephen, who himself served three months in prison aged seventeen for credit card fraud, recalled how reading Wilde's works in his cell led to 'an epiphany' which allowed him to turn his life around. He also read passages from The Ballad Of Reading Gaol and De Profundis, a letter written by Wilde during his imprisonment to his friend and lover Lord Alfred Douglas. Stephen said afterwards: 'I had a wonderful evening giving the University of Reading's inaugural Town Hall Lecture about, amongst other things, my love of Oscar Wilde. I think it is safe to say that I had a much better time in Reading than he did, poor soul.' Stephen is the honorary patron of the Oscar Wilde Society. Reading University's vice-chancellor Sir David Bell said: 'The closure of Reading Prison in December 2013 was a reminder of its iconic role in the town's history. Oscar Wilde and his relationship with the prison therefore seemed a fitting topic to have as our inaugural Town Hall lecture.' Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labour for gross indecency after his affair with Alfred Douglas was exposed in 1895. The Ballad Of Reading Gaol was inspired by his experiences and reflected the brutality of the Victorian prison system. Following his release from prison in 1897, Wilde campaigned against the imprisonment of children and those with mental illnesses.

Britain's top police officer has that said he wanted a new reality series about the Metropolitan police to get away from the cop show clichés of 'macho' commentaries and endless scenes of doors being kicked in. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, commissioner of the Metropolitan police, is the subject of a BBC fly-on-the-wall documentary series which began this Monday in a prime time slot. Writing in the Gruniad Morning Star, Hogan-Howe says that the series will not be 'a puff piece' for the Met and that Britain's biggest force had not tried to control the content fearing that 'would result in a negative response from the audience.' The documentary series comes at a time of tumult for the Met and British policing. Hogan-Howe said that his force expected to make another fifteen per cent spending cuts by 2020, because of the Conservative government’s austerity programme. That comes on top of the same amount being cut from 2010 to 2015 and fears within the force that a cut of nearly one third in a decade will cause services to suffer, especially without radical reforms. Scandals have blighted its reputation, from undercover police spies duping women and even having children with them, to claims of systemic racial bias and the Plebgate saga, in which officers were sacked for leaking alleged details about the former Tory cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell's conduct towards an officer at the Downing Street gate. As well as criticism from some community groups, the alleged failings have been highlighted by the Home Secretary, James May's sister, as underlining the urgency for police reform. In a piece on why he agreed to give the BBC access to the force, Hogan-Howe said: 'Too often we have been characterised by the failures of a few rather than the successes of the many. We know that the vast majority of those serving in the Met display our values of integrity, courage, compassion and professionalism. We had to be confident that the cameras – if they were truly documenting the Met – would capture that.' He said that the series was the result of the 'the most comprehensive access to the Met that any broadcaster has ever been granted.' Senior Met 'insiders' have, allegedly, already seen the five-part series and such is the force's comfort level with it that a promotional poster for the documentaries was put up this week in the main entrance area at Scotland Yard's Central London headquarters. Hogan-Howe said he wanted the series about the Met to be different to other police shows: 'Often they are after the same thing – cops banging in doors, charging around with their blue lights on and a macho commentary. These can be entertaining and get enough viewers to encourage endless repeats but I feel they are short on the informative side. The easy option would be to avoid granting access to anything more difficult than that. Let's carry on doing shows now and again, usually with the word "cops" in the title, which show arrest after arrest and little else.' He added: 'I can hardly complain that the public are not given the opportunity to understand policing if we don't open up our doors. Ultimately we have to take the responsibility for unlocking that understanding and here was an opportunity.' The publicly funded broadcaster fought off three other programme makers to win access: 'The feeling was the BBC had put the most thought in to how they would capture a 24/7 police service taking four and a half million calls and employing over forty five thousand people.' The first programme is scheduled to feature the case of Mark Duggan as senior officers wait for a verdict from an inquest jury into the 2011 shooting which triggered the worst riots in modern English history. The series comes at a tense time in the relationship between the Met and the media. Top officers have been accused of targeting whistleblowers, reducing the amount they are held to account by the news media and pursuing criminal cases against journalists who have paid public officials for stories. The reforms came after Lord Leveson's inquiry, following the phone-hacking scandal, which called for reforms in police and press relationships. Sir Bernard became commissioner of the Met in 2011. His two predecessors resigned before completing their terms. Sir Ian Blair was ousted in 2008 by Boris Johnson, the mayor of London and in 2011 Sir Paul Stephenson resigned amid the ructions from the phone-hacking scandals and claims the force's leadership was too close to elements of the press.

Joanne Froggatt will lead a new ITV historical drama based on the true story of the notorious serial killer Mary Ann Cotton. The Downton Abbey actress will play the Victorian poisoner in the two-part series. An apparently loving wife and mother, Mary Ann struggled with poverty and caring for her ailing husband and soon became ruthless and wicked woman in pursing her desires and a better life. Her methods left no visible scars on her numerous victims, allowing her to remain unsuspected for a long time in a Victorian society unable to believe that a woman would be capable of such heinous and dastardly crimes. Through a combination of adultery, bigamy, fraud and murder, Mary Ann did make a better life for herself but ran the constant risk of eventually being caught. Which she was. Believed to have murdered up to twenty one people, she was hanged at Durham gaol in 1873 aged forty. And, if you ever see a picture of her, she was considerable less aesthetically pleasing as Joanne Froggatt! ITV's controller of drama Victoria Fea said: 'Dark Angel is an extraordinary and chilling true story. We're delighted to have an actress of Joanne Froggatt's calibre in the lead role. The combination of a tautly written script, an outstanding cast and great producers in World Productions make this a really exciting addition to the ITV drama slate.' Filming on Dark Angel will begin in August in North Yorkshire and County Durham.

Shane Richie is heading to Benidorm. The EastEnders actor will make a guest appearance in the eighth series of the ITV comedy in 2016 and has been spotted filming in the Spanish holiday resort this week. He was photographed wearing a 1980s wig and an animal print shirt as he started work on the show. An alleged ITV 'insider' allegedly confirmed Richie's appearance, saying: 'Yes – Shane Richie arrives at The Solano as one of a selection of fabulous cameo appearances. There's no more to say right now about the character he is playing or what he gets up to. The only way to find out will be to tune in to Benidorm.'

Money left in the will of the late broadcaster Alan Whicker will be used to boost documentary-making in the UK, his estate has announced. Three prizes totalling one hundred grand will be awarded to new film-makers, including one to encourage people aged over fifty to film their first documentary. Whicker, who died in July 2013 aged eighty seven, travelled the globe for more than fifty years making TV programmes. He was best known for presenting Whicker's World from 1959 to 1988. The launch of the awards, aimed at supporting authored documentary storytelling in the UK, was announced at the Sheffield Documentary Festival. As well as encouraging older documentarians, there will also be a prize for the best début film-maker under the age of thirty. After joining BBC television in 1957, Whicker worked on the Tonight programme which saw him presenting a series of offbeat reports from a wide variety of locations. Two years later he started presenting Whicker's World which ran for thirty years, first on the BBC and then ITV. The programme saw him crossing continents covering a bewildering variety of topics. Peter Sellers, Joan Collins, writer Harold Robbins and the Sultan of Brunei were among his famous interviewees along with the notorious Haitian dictator Papa Doc Duvalier. The first winners of the Whicker's World Foundation awards will be announced on the final day of next year's Sheffield Doc Fest.

BBC guidelines on staff tweeting about potentially sensitive news stories are being tightened up following the rogue tweet about an obituary rehearsal that led several major international news organisations to report, wrongly, that Queen Elizabeth had been admitted to hospital. Questions are being asked internally about why some of the usual procedures were not followed for a rehearsal for a so-called Category One royal death, leading to what is believed to be the first leak for years about the BBC's annual run-through of how it would deal with such a sensitive event. Usually the rehearsal is held at a weekend, when fewer staff are at BBC news headquarters in New Broadcasting House. However it is understood that the last one, held earlier this year, ran into technical difficulties, including a mix-up over graphics, leading the BBC's head of newsgathering, Jonathan Munro, to order a rerun. Staff are not usually e-mailed in advance about the rehearsal to avoid leaks. However, on this occasion, Munro warned some staff via e-mail, telling them: 'It is essential that we can rehearse these sensitive scenarios privately. BBC Tours have been suspended, and the blinds from public areas including reception and the media cafe will remain dropped. I'd also ask for your help in refraining from any external conversations and all social media activity about this exercise. Your continued discretion will be greatly appreciated.' However, according to the Gruniad Morning Star who, as usual, were pure dead quick to publish a trouble-making, shit-stirring article about the ensuing fiasco, alleged (though anonymous) 'sources' (or filthy stinking Copper's Narks as they're also known) allegedly say that not all staff were on the mailing list used. This may explain why BBC Urdu reporter Ahmen Khawaja mistakenly sent a tweet saying that the Queen had died, when she discovered coverage of it internally during the rehearsal. Or, it might just be that Khawaja is a gullible glake. She, swiftly retracted the message, saying the Queen was being treated in hospital and then, reportedly, claimed that the tweet had been sent by someone other than herself as 'a prank'. According to BBC obituary procedure radio news guidelines, 'World Service runs its own coverage of a royal death', which may explain why Khawaja did not, it would seem, receive the e-mail. An internal investigation - possibly involving nipple clamps and really mean dogs - under the BBC's disciplinary guidelines and potential disciplinary action has now been launched over the episode, which is, obviously, a considerable embarrassment to the BBC, particular as it occurred in the run up to the negotiations for its royal charter. So, jolly well done, Ahmen. You daft plank. It is understood that BBC news journalists are told in internal guidelines not to tweet about a story referring to the BBC's Category One of public figures – which include the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and the Duke of Cambridge and well as Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads and Cheryl Cole. Probably – until the BBC's official Twitter feed has reported it. The obituary procedure radio guidelines also state: 'It is essential that those responsible for the coverage in the hour or so immediately after the announcement of death, especially of the Monarch and, assuming the death is a natural one, understand that this is not a "breaking story" in the normally accepted sense. If the death was sudden and/or unexpected, the circumstances of the death, as a news story, might well take precedence, at least in the initial coverage. However, it would be expected that the tone would become more reflective as the coverage unfolds. Take a deep breath and do not rush.' According to alleged 'sources', staff are now, allegedly, being 'reminded' about social media guidelines and procedures are 'being tightened up.' Hence, the nipple clamps. Probably. Buckingham Palace denied any suggestion on Wednesday that the monarch is or had been unwell. In an unfortunate coincidence for the BBC that may have compounded the confusion, the Queen was attending King Edward VII's hospital, a private facility in Marylebone, for her annual medical check-up that very day. A BBC spokesman said: 'During a technical rehearsal for an obituary, tweets were mistakenly sent from the account of a BBC journalist saying that a member of the royal family had been taken ill. The tweets were swiftly deleted and we apologise for any offence.'

A BBC investigation has seen evidence that details what happened to the ten million smackers sent from FIFA to accounts controlled by former vice-president the odious LOUSE Jack Warner. The money, sent on behalf of South Africa, was meant to be used for its Caribbean 'diaspora legacy programme.' But documents suggest that the odious Warner instead used the payment for cash withdrawals, personal loans and to launder money. The seventy two-year-old, who has been extremely indicted by the FBI for corruption, denies all claims of wrongdoing. One or two people even believed him. The papers seen by the BBC detail three wire transfers by FIFA. In the three transactions - on 4 January, 1 February and 10 March 2008 - funds totalling ten million bucks from FIFA accounts were received into CONCACAF accounts controlled by Warner. At the time, he was in charge of the body, which governs football in North and Central America and the Caribbean and was strutting around like he owned the place. The money had been promised by South Africa's Football Association for its so-called 'diaspora legacy programme' to 'develop' football in the Caribbean. JTA Supermarkets, a large chain in Trinidad, received four million eight hundred and sixty thousand dollars from the accounts. The money was paid in instalments from January 2008 to March 2009. The largest payment was one million three hundred and fifty thousand wonga paid in February 2008. US prosecutors claim that the money was 'mostly' paid back to Warner in local currency. From the early 1990s, he allegedly 'began to leverage his influence and exploit his official positions for personal gain.' He is also alleged to have bribed officials with plain envelopes each containing forty thousand dollars in cash; when one of the alleged officials allegedly demurred, Warner allegedly said: 'There are some people here who think they are more pious than thou. If you're pious, open a church, friends. Our business is our business.' The BBC gave details of its investigation to Brent Sancho, Trinidad and Tobago's sports minister and a former footballer. He said: '[Mr Warner] must face justice, he must answer all of these questions. Justice has to be served. He will have to account, with this investigation, he will have to answer for his actions.' The documents also show three hundred and sixty thousand dollars of the FIFA money was withdrawn by people 'connected' to Warner. Nearly $1.6m was used to pay the former FIFA vice-president's credit cards and personal loans. The documents show the largest personal loan Warner provided for himself was four hundred and ten thousand dollars. The largest credit card payment was eighty seven thousand dollars. Sancho says he is now 'angry and disappointed. I'm devastated because a lot of that money should have been back in football, back in the development of children playing the sport. It is a travesty. Mr Warner should answer the questions,' he added. Warner is one of fourteen people charged by US prosecutors over alleged corruption at FIFA. The US Justice department alleges that the fourteen - and, others as yet unindicted - accepted bribes and kickbacks estimated at more than one hundred and fifty million dollas over a twenty four-year period. Warner denies all charges of corruption. He resigned from FIFA's executive committee and all other football commitments in 2011 amid allegations that he had bribed his Caribbean associates. He later stepped down as Trinidad and Tobago's security minister amid a, separate, fraud inquiry. A key figure in the deepening scandal, in a recent statement Warner claims that he had given lawyers documents outlining the links between FIFA, its funding, himself and the 2010 election in Trinidad and Tobago. He said that the transactions also included the soon-to-be-former FIFA president Sepp Blatter. 'I will no longer keep secrets for them who actively seek to destroy the country,' he blustered in an address on Trinidadian TV last week entitled 'The gloves are off.' To be replaced, one presumes, by handcuffs. Speaking to his supporters at a rally later the same day, he promised an 'avalanche' of revelations to come. Warner, who faces extradition to the US, was released on bail after handing himself in to police in the Trinidad and Tobago capital Port of Spain last week. He claims that he is 'an innocent scapegoat' who will soon reveal the truth of what happened inside FIFA. And so, dear blog reader, the rats begin to turn on each other and the whole edifice of greed starts to topple and fall. It's gonna be quite a sight, hopefully.

The shadow lack of culture secretary Chris Bryant has said that the BBC and ITV should not pay any money for the rights to broadcast the next two football World Cups until governing body FIFA has been reformed and the bids for hosting the tournaments rerun. Bryant labelled FIFA, football's worldwide governing body, a 'stinking sink of corruption that has polluted everything it has touched.' Which, the vast majority of people who hadn't spent the last twenty years greedily accepting bribes, probably agreed with. The Labour MP - whom this blogger has normally, in the past, had quite a bit of time for, spoke out during culture questions in the House of Commons after the top FIFA executive, Chuck Blazer, admitted bribes were paid to senior officials to vote for two previous World Cups, and the former FIFA vice president, the odious Jack Warner, who is extremely wanted by US authorities, claimed that he would reveal the 'secrets' about the scandal. Bryant said: 'With the news from Chuck Blazer and Jack Warner, is it not increasingly evident that FIFA is a stinking sink of corruption that has polluted everything it has touched? Would it not be wholly inappropriate for any money to pass from the UK broadcasters in respect of the 2018 or 2022 tournaments, unless and until Blatter has actually left, rather than just declared that he is leaving, FIFA is reformed, and the 2018 and 2022 bids rerun?' The lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale replied: 'I share your astonishment that even today the new claims being made by Jack Warner, this whole saga becomes more murky and distasteful by the day.' He added: 'However, if the World Cup goes ahead then I think it would be unfair to tell English fans, and indeed fans of the other home nations if their sides qualify, that they would not be able to watch their sides compete in the World Cup because the broadcasters were not going to purchase the sports rights to cover it. I think it's a separate matter – the important thing is we get this cleared up long before we actually get to the World Cup in 2018.' At which point, sensing he was onto a vote-loser Bryant promptly shat in his own pants, later telling TalkSport: 'I obviously don't want to prevent British people from eventually seeing the World Cup that will get played and I don't want to see, for instance, the women's World Cup not being broadcast in this country. I think that would be absolutely ludicrous.' Bryant said that the ability to withhold the TV rights money was 'one of the few levers that we still have. I'd like to see the two [World Cup bids] rerun.' Well, so would we all mate, but it's probably not going to happen even once Blatter has had his fat arse kicked into the gutter. 'I'd like to see Blatter go, I’d like to see FIFA reformed,' he told the sports station's Hawksbee & Jacobs show. 'It’s not just the UK, all the other European broadcasters who get their rights through the European Broadcasting Union. I think there's a strong argument to say we should make sure no public money, licence fee payer money or in some countries in Europe it's straight from the taxpayer, that no money is going into corrupt pockets.' The BBC and ITV signed a new rights deal with FIFA to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals last year, which included TV, radio and online coverage. The next finals, in 2018, will be the fourteenth consecutive World Cup that has been broadcast free-to-air on BBC and ITV together, dating back to the 1966 competition held in, and won by, England. And, yes, the ball was over the line so shut up.

Meanwhile, the BBC's creative director Alan Yentob has staunchly defended the BBC and the licence fee against mounting Tory criticism in the run-up to charter renewal. Delivering the Charles Wheeler Lecture in London on Thursday, Yentob said: 'There is so much goodwill towards us both at home and abroad. That is not something that we should put at risk and that includes the goodwill of the licence-fee payers themselves. Forty-eight per cent of them think the licence fee is the best way to fund the BBC, up from thirty one per cent a decade ago. That's a huge shift. Just twenty nine per cent want advertising and twenty per cent want a subscription model – something that would forever put the kibosh on our ability to provide something for everyone.' Yentob's defence of the BBC funding model followed comments from new lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale that 'elements' of the licence fee were 'regressive'. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale has previously questioned the long-term viability of the licence fee, but his comments, in response to a question in parliament from shadow lack of culture secretary Bryant to give 'a little clue as to [his] inclinations' on charter renewal, are the first time he has spoken about the fee since being appointed to the cabinet. Referencing Bryant's own comments on the licence fee from 2005, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said: 'I would say I very much agree with him when he observed that elements of the licence fee are regressive because everyone has to pay it and so it falls as a greater percentage of the income on the poorest people.' Yentob is the third BBC executive to publicly defend the BBC and its funding model this last week. On Tuesday, BBC TV director Danny Cohen said that programmes would have to be cut if the corporation was forced to take on the burden of free TV licences for the over-seventy fives or decriminalisation of the licence fee. Later that day the corporation's director of news and current affairs James Harding said that politicians 'from all sides' had 'threatened' the BBC's funding over its erection coverage. Their interventions followed renewed attacks on the corporation from the scum right-wing press. Negotiations over the next BBC charter, which will come into force at the end of 2016, are expected to take place later this year. Yentob used his speech to defend Strictly Come Dancing, which has gone on to be a successful format overseas as well as in the UK, as an example of the BBC keeping to its mission to 'inform, educate and entertain.' He invited odious filth Lord Snooty, the creator of Downton Abbey who has - with no obvious, sick, agenda smeared all over his disgustingly smug mush - been critical of BBC output such as Strictly, to appear on the show. 'There's no doubt it's entertainment, but it is more than that' Yentob said. 'If Lord Fellowes doesn't believe it, perhaps he should put his dancing shoes on and join us for a series. That is a serious offer, Julian.' Yentob also said that the BBC helps Britain to punch above its weight culturally and nurture those who have gone on to become leaders in other parts of British broadcasting. He said: 'I am proud to say if you look at the creative leaders of Sky, ITV, Channel Four, Shine and Endemol, they've all spent time at the BBC and shared our values and our vision – and it seems that we are now a feeder for Apple too, and if global companies like Apple also see the value in BBC skills and know-how then so be it.'

Artem Chigvintsev has hit back at Fern Britton's claims that he 'mistreated' her during her time on Strictly Come Dancing. The pair performed together on the 2012 series of the annual dancing contest, but Britton has now claimed publicly that Chigvintsev used to 'kick and shove' her during training. The professional dancer - who now competes on US counterpart Dancing With The Stars - said: 'Recent statements apparently made by Fern Britton, whilst not reflecting any situation I recognise, are difficult to ignore. I believe I treated Fern with respect and genuine care, and these claims about me are the opposite of everything I believe in and the person I am. I cannot imagine what has prompted such statements which come as a shock to me. I just want to thank all my fans and friends for their support and belief in me.' Despite speaking of their 'strained' relationship, Britton also added that 'it wasn't all bad blood' between them and that they did like one another 'for a moment or two.'

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping has just receive his preview copy of The Scientific Secrets Of Doctor Who by his old BBC books colleague Simon Guerrier and Doctor Marek Kukula. Looks well-tasty from a quick skim through. A full review will follow. Eventually.
The length of yer actual Hadrian's Wall in Cumbria and Northumberland has become a stage for a huge live musical performance. Hundreds of musicians have travelled the wall's seventy three miles using transport including a vintage bus, motorbikes, unicycles and a tractor, passing a baton from performer to performer. Part of the BBC Music Day, the Hadrian's Wall of Sound event began at daybreak in Bowness-on-Solway and finished in Waalsend some fourteen hours later. The Durham-born opera singer Graeme Danby swapped red plush seats and beautiful auditoria for the even more spectacular Cawfield Crag and described himself as 'a lucky man'. Yer acutal Keith Telly Topping's old BBC Newcastle colleague, the sports presenter Simon Pryde - who was dressed for the terrain - took charge of the baton, which Graeme then passed to the Royal Northern Sinfonia Wind Quintet. Fourteen hours after this musical relay began, the crowds waiting for the finale at the excavated Roman fort Segedunum in Waalsend just a mile down the road from Stately Telly Topping Manor were treated to a concert which concluded with an ensemble performance of Pharrell's 'Happy'. What would the Roman's have said? Petra unumquemvis, probably. Because there isn't a Latin translation for 'party on, dudes'. Unless, of course, you know different.
The British sculptor Anish Kapoor has defended a piece of art in the French palace of Versailles which has been called 'dirty' and 'gross'. The installation, called Dirty Corner, sits in the grounds outside the palace. Kapoor said in a French media interview that it signified 'the vagina of the queen coming into power' - but later added that the work was 'open to interpretation.' Which, having seen it, yer actual Keith Telly Topping interprets it as, basically, a geet enormous fanny. Nowt wrong with that, of course. The Versailles palace was the home of Marie Antoinette, the Eighteenth Century queen of France. And, she had one so, you know, what's the problem? The piece has come in for criticism from tight-arsed, repressed individuals and Daily Scum Mail readers (or, the French equivalent), but also praise, by female academics in the French press.
King of the Mods, Sir Bradley Wiggins has broken the iconic hour record by completing a distance of 54.526km - that's 33.88 miles if you haven't gone metric yet. The thirty five-year-old smashed the previous mark, held by fellow Briton Alex Dowsett, of 52.937km which had been set in May. Roared on by a capacity crowd at Lee Valley VeloPark in London, Wiggo became the sixth rider to claim a Tour De France title and the hour record, following Lucien Petit-Breton, Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, the great Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain. Previous holders of title have also included former British Olympic champion Chris Boardman. 'I'm just glad it's done,' Wiggo said. 'It was torturous.' Wiggins, who becomes the fifth person in the past nine months to break the record, joked:
'That's the closest I have ever come to what it's like to have a baby.' Sir Brad - and his excellent hair - a multiple Olympic and world champion on track and road, surpassed Dowsett's record of two hundred and twelve laps, set in Manchester, with one minute and forty two seconds to spare and eventually completed two hundred and eighteen laps. But the 2012 Tour De France winner fell narrowly short of the target he had set himself of 55.250km, or two hundred and twenty one laps. 'You're constantly looking at the clock counting down,' he said. 'When you're out there, you never think it's coming to an end. I always compare myself to the greats and I am just glad to be in the company of those guys, he added. 'To get up there and do that, to put yourself on the line, takes a lot of courage and it's a mental game as much as anything.' Former British cycling performance director Dave Brailsford said it was 'an honour' to witness the occasion. 'Bradley rode well on what was a heavy and hard day,' he said. 'I'm so pleased for him. It's his day and he is such a magnificent athlete.'Since the UCI, cycling's world governing body, unified the regulations surrounding the event last year, four riders have held the record: Germany's Jens Voigt, Matthias Brandle of Switzerland, Australian Rohan Dennis and, most recently, Dowsett.

Wiggo's former team-mate, double Olympic cycling champion Victoria Pendleton is to debut as an amateur jockey at Newbury in July. The thirty four-year-old announced in March that she was training to become a jockey and wanted to compete in the Foxhunter Chase at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival. 'I just can't wait to line up at Newbury in four weeks' time' she said. Having undergone four months of intensive training under a team of experts, she plans to debut in the George Frewer Charity Race on 2 July. Team GB eventing boss Yogi Breisner has provided Pendleton with expert tuition, while former rider Chris King has also helped. Breisner said: 'It's a key milestone if we are to hit our target of Victoria successfully obtaining her Category A licence with a view to riding at Cheltenham next year.'
Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford says cycling should copy Formula 1 and allow TV viewers to hear radio communications between teams and their riders. The former British Cycling performance director believes it will help explain the sport's tactics. Brailsford does not want to see a drastic overhaul of the sport but is also in favour of shorter stages. 'It would be super interesting to hear what the sporting directors are saying to the riders,' he said.'It's a complex sport. You've got all the sporting directors in the cars trying to play out hundreds of scenarios, like "who is going to chase?" They all wait and watch the gap get to nine minutes, ten minutes, and then suddenly you think, "hold on, I might be throwing the Giro away here." I think if everybody knew what each team was trying to do it would be fascinating and add a whole new level of intrigue and understanding.' The International Cycling Union has revealed plans to radically restructure the cycling calendar to reduce the number of days that riders race and make sure that major events no longer overlap. This plan would cut the number of elite teams to sixteen, reduce the number of riders they need and reshape the sport below the top tier, but Brailsford says he 'doesn't agree with the race programme changes [the UCI] is trying to bring in.' Brailsford, who has overseen Team Sky since 2010, would like to see shorter stages. Speaking after the Giro d'Italia's fourth stage, a thrilling battle waged along one hundred and fifty milometres of Liguria's tight and twisty roads, he said: 'You don't need long, two hundred and forty to two hundred and fifty kilometre stages in Grand Tours. I think they're there for a gesture. But if you want the lads to race, make it short and punchy. That way they have to react to breaks and it creates scenarios - nobody can just sit back and wait for the finish.'Team Sky is one of eleven leading teams that have combined to form Velon, a joint venture intended to bring more money into the sport by packaging it better for television. As well as sharing radio communications with broadcasters, Brailsford would like to see more cameras on bikes and in team cars. Prior to the start of the Giro d'Italia on 9 May, Velon announced its first on-bike camera deal with the race's owner RCS, an agreement that means pictures from the heart of the peloton are available for eight of the twenty one stages. This move has been welcomed by broadcasters, although they have pointed out that the pictures cannot be used until after the race. The Giro is being televised in the UK by Eurosport and its head of cycling Stefano Bernabino said he would love to be able to use radio communications in his broadcasts but doubted the teams' willingness to share them. In his view, the most important development for cycling coverage would be GPS trackers on each bike to enable quicker identification of each rider and more on-screen data for viewers. This is understood to also be a priority for the UCI.

An intruder sneaking into a garden in the dead of night with a view to doing, allegedly, some naughty burglarisation was extremely caught on a camera set up by former Springwatch host Simon King to monitor the activity of urban foxes. Nigel Batton was filmed 'prowling around the property' before, allegedly, breaking into a nearby house, a court has been told. Footage shown to the jury showed a man leaping over the garden fence shortly before 4am then tiptoeing around and trying to open a door. Later, the owner of a nearby property, Daniel McFarlane, disturbed a burglar (queue Paul Merton's joke, 'I had a burglar. I disturbed him. I said "there is no God"'). The burglar left behind a hat, scarf and screwdriver. Nothing was taken from either address, jurors were told so, seemingly, he wasn't a very good burglar. Batton's DNA was found on the hat and scarf. The covert camera was set up by Simon King, who also presents Big Cat Diary on BBC1, to capture footage for a documentary he was making about the life of urban foxes. When the owner of the property noticed the camera had been activated overnight she handed the film to police and it was used in connection with the later burglary in Herne Hill. The footage was uploaded to YouTube by Simon King Wildlife soon after it was filmed in January last year. 'By sheer coincidence, a nearby property had cameras set up in the back garden to record night-time wildlife,' the prosecution said. 'The owner thought there was a good chance she might have caught the burglar on camera. Sure enough, at 3.46am, the cameras could see the burglar coming over her fence. To get to there he must have climbed over a few properties. The burglar has then gone to the neighbouring property where he left a hat and scarf. It is as plain as day the man in the dock is the man on the CCTV.' Batton, of Lewisham, denies burglary and attempted burglary. The trial continues at Woolwich crown court.
A Kazakhstan student has been fined after dressing up as his girlfriend and trying to take an exam in her place. Ayan Zhademov, twenty, was reported 'desperate' to help his seventeen-year-old girlfriend out when she told him she was worried about an upcoming test. The girl, who has not been named, had been preparing for her Unified National Testing, an exam in Kazakhstan which school students must take when finishing school to get into university. Zhademov decided to take her place by donning a black wig, putting on make-up, and wearing her white blouse and grey skirt before sneaking into the exam hall in Zhetisai. But, eagle-eyed exam administrators spotted him and 'took him aside for questioning.' Zhademov's cover was' reportedly, blown when 'he tried speaking in a high voice, but it was obvious that he was a male.' A spokesman for the exam board said: 'We suspected it might be another woman that had taken the candidate's place, but we never suspected it was a man that had taken her place. At least not until he started speaking.' Zhademov was then fined for his actions. But now he has been dubbed 'romantic of the year' by locals and a businessman has stepped into help pay off the fine after being impressed by Ayan's ingenuity. And, the fact that he actually looked quite good dress as a schoolgirl. Fellow student Dariga Nesterova said: 'It was stupid but very romantic. Sometimes love leads us to do silly things, I wish my boyfriend was this romantic.' Another student, Goga Korzhova, said: 'She's lucky to have someone as brave as this, someone who will risk everything for her.' Businessman Olzhas Hudaibergenov who has agreed to pay half of the fine said that he was 'delighted' to see romance was still alive and well in this day and age. He added: 'I suspect that his romantic moves in the future will be more legal.' The girl was told she will have to now wait until next year before taking the exam.

The actor Richard Johnson, whose career spanned film, theatre and TV, has died aged eighty seven, his family has said. With his rugged good looks, Richard made his film début in the 1950s and featured in numerous films, alongside stars such as Frank Sinatra, Laurence Olivier and Charlton Heston. A founder member of what would become the Royal Shakespeare Company, Richard played several lead roles including Romeo and Mark Anthony in Julius Caesar. Later in his career, he also appeared in TV dramas such as Lewis, [spooks], Waking The Dead, Midsomer Murders, Doc Martin, The Member For Chelsea, The Camomile Lawn, The Robinsons, The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff and Silent Witness. Other TV appearances included Rembrandt in the BBC's Tony-award winning play of the same name and the leading role in Anglo-Saxon Attitudes in 1993, for which he was awarded the Best Actor award by the TV critics' Guild of Television Writers. Richard died after a short illness at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea. He was born in Upminster in 1927 and he left his training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art to join Sir John Gielgud's company. He joined the Royal Navy during World War Two and then made his film début in 1959, when he appeared in the MGM film Never So Few, starring Frank Sinatra and Gina Lollobrigida. MGM were, reportedly, pleased with Johnson's work in Never So Few and signed him to a multi-picture deal, hoping to build him into a star. They insisted that a role be written into the screenplay of the biblical epic King Of Kings" for him, although the film was about to start shooting within days. Richard's role - as a character not mentioned in the Bible - took up nearly an hour of screen time, and was then deleted in its entirety before the film reached cinemas. He also appeared in the classic The Haunting (1963) and Khartoum (1966), opposite Laurence Olivier and Charlton Heston. He is, perhaps, most famous,however, for a film role he did not take. Richard was contracted to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the contract was one of exclusivity, meaning he was forced to decline a role he was offered by director Terence Young and producers, Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman in the first James Bond film, Dr No. The part would end up going to Sean Connery. Richard was, reportedly, Young's choice for the role. He played another classic British spy, Bulldog Drummond, in the rather campy Deadlier Than The Male (1967) and its sequel Some Girls Do (1969). More recent film credits include The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas (2008), Scoop (2006) and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). Richard's stage career was extensive and distinguished. His early work in the London theatre attracted the attention of the director of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (later the RSC). He appeared in many important productions at that theatre in the late 1950s and early 1960s, making notable successes as Romeo, Orlando, Pericles and Mark Antony. In 1958 he appeared in Sir Peter Hall's first production at the theatre, Cymbeline, and the following year in Twelfth Night (as Sir Andrew Aguecheek). Richard was also a talented writer, scripting the original story for the 1975 thriller, Hennessy, in whichhe also starred alongside Rod Steiger and Lee Remick. Throughout his career Richard continued to teach Shakespearean skills to young actors and students. He toured American universities and taught summer schools at RADA. He was appointed to the Council of RADA in 2000 and served as a Council Member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in the 1970s. Richard was also the founder of It's a Green Green World, a global listing of environmentally friendly hotels. He is survived by his fourth wife Lynne, whom he married in 2004, and his four children, the renowned board game designer Jervis, the actress Sorel, Jennifer and Nicholas. He met his second wife, the American actress Kim Novak, when the pair starred in the 1965 film The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is indebted to his old mate Doug for the following thought for the day: 'Caller to The Danny Baker Show: "Phil Collins, 'You Can't Hurry Love' ... which I don't think he wrote himself." In a single line, everything that is wrong with this country.' Word.
Friday was first time yer actual Keith Telly Topping was back in the pool since the middle of the week before due to back problems - still unresolved and, unlikely to be so in the near-to-middling future. He only went and managed twenty four lengths,didn't he? Well, technically, twenty three and three quarters since one length had to be aborted before the end due to the bloke in front of him swimming really slowly. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping was, he confesses, quite pleased with that effort considering it was just about all arm work, with virtually no movement from below the waist.
Finally, for the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day dear blog reader, isn't it just about high time that we had a righteous bit of the ridiculously under-rated Goodbye Mr MacKenzie doing yer actual Jacques Brel via Scott Walker and The Grand Dame David Bowie her very self on From The North? Thought you'd agree to such a potential scenario. Sing, Martin.

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