Saturday, July 11, 2015

I'll Never Find What It's Worth

Yer actual Peter Capaldi doesn't want his Doctor Who co-star Jenna Coleman her very self to leave the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama any time soon. And, neither does this blogger. So, that's me and The Doctor in total agreement on that particular score. Excellent. This blogger likes it when that happens. Yer man Capaldi told Entertainment Weekly that he hopes Jenna will feature in many more episodes beyond the upcoming ninth series. 'Jenna continues to deliver a beautifully nuanced, complex, and funny performance that marks her out as one of the best companions ever,' Peter insisted. Of The Doctor's sometimes tumultuous relationship with Clara, he added: 'They've suddenly realised that they are the most fortunate people in all of time and space and are hellbent on adventure.' The Lord thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) previously spoke to the Digital Spy website about Clara's future on the series. 'She continues to complicate,' The Moff noted enigmatically. 'And, the relationship between the two of them is incredibly strong.'
And, Peter and Jenna hurtle through space and time once more in the first trailer for Doctor Who series nine. The BBC unveiled a first glimpse of Capaldi's second series during Thursday's fan panel at the Comic-Con International event in San Diego. A premiere date of 19 September was also set - for both the UK and the US. Aside from introducing a terrifying crop of new monsters, including a species called The Mire, series nine also brings back Michelle Gomez as Missy, a whole city full of Daleks and the shape-shifting Zygons. Other returning favourites for the new series include Jemma Redgrave, Ingrid Oliver and Joivan Wade as Flatline's heroic Rigsy. The Doctor and Clara will also have adventures with Game Of Thrones star Maisie Williams, Paul Kaye, Capaldi's old The Thick Of It co-star Rebecca Front, comedian Rufus Hound and the excellent David Schofield.
And the trailer looks spankin'. As the following selection of images proves.

Is it nearly September yet?
Well, that all looks totally splendid doesn't it?

The popular long-running BBC family SF drama's ninth series has been written by The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE), Toby Whithouse, Jamie Mathieson, Peter Harness, Mark Gatiss, and new writers to Doctor Who - Sarah Dollard and Catherine Tregenna; directed by Hettie Macdonald, Daniel O'Hara, Ed Bazalgette, Daniel Nettheim, Justin Molotnikov and Rachel Talalay and produced by Tracie Simpson, Derek Ritchie, Nikki Wilson and Peter Bennett. The team continue to shoot in Roath Lock studios, Cardiff Bay, having also filmed in Tenerife, and at a number of South Wales locations, including Caerwent, Caerphilly Castle, Cardiff Castle, St Athans and Margam Park. Meanwhile, the Flicks & The City website have released video of the Doctor Who Comic Con Panel in full with Peter, Jenna, Michelle Gomez & The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE).
Sherlock's holiday special will be coming to cinemas all over the world. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) confirmed during another Comic-Con panel that the one-off Christmas episode will be screened in 'select cinemas' across the globe. Sherlock's one-off special will be unconnected to the previous three modern-day series and has been created mainly to allow viewers to see yer actual Benny Cumberbatch and Marty Freeman his very self in 'a more traditional setting.' Executive Producer Sue Vertue assured fans during the panel that, although the time period will be different, this Christmas special remains 'unmistakably our show, and our world. There is some precedent for doing Sherlock Holmes in the Victorian era,' Moffat noted.
Yer actual Benny Cumberbatch and Marty Freeman his very self are on the case of a Victorian mystery as the first trailer for Sherlock's forthcoming special was, also, unveiled at Comic Con. The special is, as previously announced, a 're-imagining' of the show's beloved characters in the 1890s. Sherlock's new trailer was shown on Thursday during a panel at San Diego and features a scene from the episode. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) recently revealed that the decision to use a Victorian setting was based purely on his desire to see Holmes and Watson in their traditional era. 'We've got, I think you can safely say, the Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson of a generation - we want to see them do it in the proper outfits, just once,' Moffat said backstage at the BAFTA Television Awards in May. 'That makes them the only two who've done both [period and contemporary] - apart from [Basil] Rathbone and [Nigel] Bruce, who we venerate, of course.' No broadcast date has yet been set for the Sherlock special, although it is expected to premiere in the festive season, quite possibly on Christmas Day its very self.
Meanwhile, here is the deadpan apology video from yer actual Andrew Scott, Benedict Cumberbatch and Mark Gatiss about why they couldn't attend the San Diego convention.
It was a busy few days at Comic Con as an atmospheric teaser trailer for The X-Files including the first new footage of Mulder and Scully on their next investigation was also unveiled. FOX's promo begins as a collection of highlights from the original series but, after thirty seconds, new footage of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson investigating a darkened room appears. This blogger was so excited, he almost came. True story, dear blog reader.
Sadly, as one great series starring From The North favourite Gillian Anderson is about to return, the future of another is looking increasingly bleak. Hannibal will not be revived by either Amazon or Netflix, although hope for a new broadcasting partner remains. A search for a new network has been ongoing since NBC cancelled Hannibal last month and it continues even after its cast were released from their contracts. Showrunner Bryan Fuller was asked by a fan on Twitter for an update on Hannibal's future this week. 'I'm sorry to report Amazon and Netflix have passed on Hannibal season four. But, we're still investigating possibilities,' Fuller replied. Fuller has been incredibly candid about the future of Hannibal since its NBC cancellation, acknowledging that there is a 'fifty/fifty chance' of a fourth season happening. The writer has also admitted that he wasn't particularly surprised that NBC decided not to renew its purchase of the drama series, which has been critically-acclaimed - and much-loved by this blogger - but little-seen over three seasons. '[NBC has] really given us a long leash with which to tell our stories,' he explained in June. 'I'm glad that we had the first three years - and hopefully we'll have another year someplace else.'
Still, at least we've got the remains of series three to get excited about. And, yer actual Keith Telly Topping can't tell you, dear blog reader, how delighted he was to discover that the latest episode of Hannibal - Dolce - featured a long-awaited 'shit-weird hallucinogenic tasteful lesbian sex scene'. Fair made this blogger's weekend, that. Sadly, it was Alana-and-Margot girl-on-girl action rather than Alana-and-Bedelia girl-on-girl action. Mind you, if it had been the latter, it's prefect possible that this blogger's brain would probably have exploded. So, perhaps, it was just as well ...
Plus, you know, any episode of a TV show featuring Gillian Anderson shooting up has to be considered a sodding masterpiece, frankly.
As previously announced, The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers is to honour Doctor Who's former script editor the great Terrance Dicks with the 2015 Faust Award. The award is for a lifetime achievement in the genre and to mark the extensive contribution to the industry Terrance has made during his long and illustrious career. He was the Script Editor on Doctor Who for six years from 1968 to 1974, as well as the author of many episodes of the series. In the 1970's and 1980's he was one of the main contributors to the Target range of Doctor Who novelisations. And, not for nothing, but he's also a fantastic charming and wise gentleman who has always been incredibly kind and encouraging to yer actual Keith Telly Topping in all his endeavours when we were both writing for BBC books in the late 1990s. The award will be presented at a ceremony at Comic-Con, where it will be accepted, on behalf of Terrance Dicks, by yer actual Paul Cornell.

Vicious lost just short of a million viewers over the course of its second series, according to overnight data for Monday. Because it was diarrhoea, basically. Sir Ian McKellen's and Sir Derek Jacobi's wretched and laughless ITV sitcom brought in 2.06m overnight punters for its final episode at 9pm. That figure is around nine hundred and thirty thousand less than the first episode attracted in June and approximately seven hundred thousand fewer viewers in comparison to the series one finale. Elsewhere on ITV, Vet School appealed to 2.19m at 8pm, while It's A Funny Old Week failed to amuse 1.02m at 9.30pm. Chances of a second series of that unoriginal flop? No big, I'd've said. On BBC1, Nigel Slater: Eating Together continued with 2.62m at 7.30pm, before Panorama interested 2.12m at 8.30pm, and The Met: Policing London topped the evening's ratings outside of soaps with 4.11m for its final episode at 9pm. BBC2's revamped Wimbledon 2day - format changed due to viewer outrage, apparently - averaged 2.18m at 9pm, while Episodes was watched by 1.10m at 10pm. Channel Four's How To Get A Council House drew 1.76m at 9pm and Man Down continued with six hundred and ten thousand at 10pm. On Channel Five, Hiroshima: The Aftermath gathered seven eighty seven thousand at 8pm while Big Brother rose to 1.05m sad, crushed victims of society at 9pm. ITV2's Love Island had four hundred and ninety six thousand morons watching it at 9pm, while True Detective's third episode appealed to one hundred and fifteen thousand punters on Sky Atlantic in the same timeslot.

The BBC's much-maligned Wimbledon highlights programme Wimbledon 2Day nearly doubled its overnight audience when it returned in its revamped format. The new-look BBC2 show, which retained presenter Clare Balding but ditched many of its other features, expanding the amount of actual tennis highlights it showed, had 2.2 million viewers on Monday night. It was nearly a million up on its opening episode the previous Monday, when it had 1.3 million viewers and half-a-million more than its highest audience before last night, when 1.7 million tuned in on Thursday. Its audience was no doubt given a boost by Andy Murray’s four-set win over Croatian Ivo Karlovic to reach the championships’ quarter-finals. But critics - with an agenda - will also point to its new onscreen look, bowing to public pressure after a week of relentless criticism. The programme was introduced this year to replace the BBC's more traditional evening round-up, Today At Wimbledon, with Balding taking over presenting duties from John Inverdale. As criticism mounted during the first week of the tournament, the format was subtly tweaked, with Balding and guests given seats, the audience moved off-camera, and the amount of tennis highlights increased. Continuing criticism eventually led to a more fundamental overhaul, with the programme moved from the Gatsby Club to a small studio above Centre Court – and the audience disappearing altogether. As John McEnroe noted on the previous Friday's episode: 'Clare, they're coming after us on this show – to hell with these people.' That's viewers you're dissing there, mac. They pay your wages, it might be an idea not to forget that.
The Syndicate continued its overnight ratings dominance on Tuesday. The BBC1 drama's third series drew to a close with 5.49m at 9pm, while the Imagine ... broadcast of Jay Burgler's Ginger Baker biopic superb Beware Of Mr Baker followed with 1.18m at 10.45pm. BBC2's Wimbledon 2day was watched by 1.52m at 8pm, before The Bank: A Matter Of Life & Debt interested eight hundred and ten thousand viewers at 9pm. On ITV, A Great Welsh Adventure With Griff Rhys Jones gathered 1.82m at 7.30pm before Love Your Garden appealed to 2.62m at 8pm and Virgin Atlantic: Up In The Air had an audience of 2.26m at 9pm. Channel Four's Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners brought in 1.27m at 8pm and Child Genius was watched by 1.14m at 9pm. On Channel Five, The Dog Rescuers With Alan Davies was watched by 1.10m at 8pm while Benefits By The Sea: Jaywick drew an audience of 1.20m at 9pm. Big Brother continued with 1.09m at 10pm. The season finale of Penny Dreadful was seen by one hundred and thirty two thousand on Sky Atlantic at 9pm.
Long Lost Family continued to perform strongly for ITV on Wednesday according to overnight data. The Davina McCall-fronted snivel-show remained consistent with 3.60m at 9pm. Earlier, The Cube had an overnight audience of 2.87m at 8pm. BBC1's Don't Tell The Bride drew 2.79m at 8pm. The Interceptor - which was launched with such bigging-up by its author just four weeks ago - remember, it's 'The Professionals for the Twenty First Century' and all that - continued with a mere 2.39m at 9pm. Albeit, that's still a far better figure than Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was pulling in by the end of its run so, that's probably some small comfort to the Beeb. On BBC2, Wimbledon 2day rounded up the day's events in SW18 with 1.86m at 8pm, before Children Of The Gaza War interested seven hundred thousand punters at 9pm, and a Qi repeat averaged seven hundred and thirty thousand at 10pm. Newsnight followed with seven hundred and sixty thousand at 10.30pm. On Channel Four, The Autistic Gardener raked in 1.08m at 8pm, while Twenty Four Hours In A&E was watched by 1.76m at 9pm. Big Brother's latest episode brought in 1.20m for Channel Five at 9pm while Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords was seen by 1.30m earlier at 9pm. Sky Atlantic's The Affair drew to a close with one hundred and sixty four thousand at 9pm, and Strike Back: Legacy attracted two hundred and thirty nine thousand on Sky1 in the same timeslot.

Z-List Celebrity MasterChef stayed top of the overnight ratings outside of soaps on Thursday. The z-list cooking series was down marginally on the previous week's episode, but still brought in 3.62m at 9pm on BBC1. Elsewhere, Britain Beneath Your Feet was seen by 2.87m at 7.30pm, and Question Time interested 2.63m at 10.45pm. On BBC2, Wimbledon 2day was watched by 1.25m at 8pm, before Coast gathered 1.87m at 9pm and Mock The Week had an overnight audience of 1.48m at 10pm. ITV's Big Box Little Box continued with 1.87m at 8.30pm, while Superhospital averaged 2.27m at 9pm. Channel Four's Grand Designs returned with 1.01m at 8pm, before Married At First Sight was seen by an average audience of 1.58m at 9pm. Big Brother depressingly continued with 1.06m on Channel Five at 9pm and Person Of Interest had five hundred and forty four thousand watching at 10pm.

Big-haired former Queen, Brian May got into a reet stroppy heated debate on Thursday's Newsnight, criticising plans to relax fox hunting ban laws in England in his role as vice president of the RSPCA. The sixty seven-year-old animal welfare campaigner called the Countryside Alliance 'a bunch of lying bastards', after the group's 'welfare consultant', Jim Barrington, argued that fox hunting is 'a matter of pest control.' Under the current law, farmers are allowed to 'flush out' foxes with the use of two dogs for 'pest control', but MPs will vote on whether the limit on hounds should be scrapped next week. 'I think it is a very underhanded act I'm afraid because Cameron for years has promised a free vote,' May explained. 'He's now really realised that this probably wouldn't result in what he wants, so very quickly this thing has been put together as a way of circumventing the normal democratic process, so you introduce a little modification to the act, but this modification actually disables the whole hunting act. Effectively, this is repeal under another name and I think that's a very Machiavellian, rather inexcusable way of behaving.' Barrington responded, saying: 'This is about addressing exemptions in the act, which were agreed by both sides when the act was going through for pest control reasons, for catching a diseased animal or something like that, a wounded animal, and they don't work. So this is a very quick, sharp measure to allow those things to work.' May replied: 'There is no justification for the hunting of foxes on the grounds of control of foxes. They breed them to hunt, it's all about people out there trying to catch foxes for fun, they like causing pain and this is what Cameron is endorsing.' Barrington continued to argue that the issue is about 'wildlife management', an argument which May described as 'bollocks', whilst presenter Laura Kuenssberg sat, seemingly terrified, between the two of them who appeared to be inches away from kicking-off, WWE-style. The big-haired musician also disputed that there has to be a form of control of foxes at all, adding: 'No, because foxes are not really causing any damage. In fact, most of the farmers that I know are more concerned about the damage that's caused by hunts during trespass. They get their pets killed, they get their children terrorised.'

Wimbledon coverage pulled in a strong overnight audience for BBC1 on men's semi-finals day. BBC1's coverage averaged 4.29m from 1.45pm on Friday afternoon, as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer made the final. And, Andy Murray didn't. However, audiences peaked at 6.87m between 5.45pm and 6pm, when Federer broke Murray's serve at the end of the second set on his way to a three-set over the 2013 Wimbledon champion. Post-match analysis on BBC2 attracted an audience of 1.01m from 6.30pm, while highlights show Wimbledon 2Day was seen by 1.06m from 8pm. On BBC1, Chris Evans's last edition as presenter of The ONE Show was watched by 3.33m at 7pm, while a repeat of A Question Of Sport drew 2.32m at 8pm. Z-List Celebrity MasterChef - featuring Keith Chegwin, former-EastEnders actor Scott Maslen, Samira Ahmed and ex-The Wanted singer Tom Parker (no, me neither) - was seen by 3.58m at 8.30pm. On BBC2, 1.88m tuned in for Gardeners' World at 9pm, with 1.17m watching the documentary Spitfire Women at 10pm. A busy day of sport continued on Channel Five, with eight hundred and eighty five thousand joining the channel at 7pm for highlights of Friday's play at The Ashes. Documentary Conspiracy: The Hollywood Files was watched by four hundred and seventy seven thousand at 8pm, while 1.15m watched a live double eviction on Big Brother at 9pm. ITV's Tonight had an audience of 2.08m at 8pm, with 1.91m watching a Doc Martin repeat at 9pm. On Channel Four, Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown was watched by 1.22m at 9pm, followed by 1.11m for satirical current affairs show The Last Leg at 10pm and two hundred and eighty one thousand for a repeat of Man Down at 11pm. Meanwhile, ITV4's coverage of the Tour De France had five hundred and sixty nine thousand viewers at 7pm.

The utterly worthless and wretched Emma Willis vehicle Prized Apart continued with 2.6 million overnight viewers on Saturday. The BBC1 show averaged 2.58m from 7pm - and everybody who was involved in commissioning and making it should be sodding well ashamed of themselves at a time when the BBC has little enough money without wasting it on rancid tripe like this. The National Lottery: Who Dares Wins attracted 3.57m. Casualty was seen by 3.88m from 8.55pm and The John Bishop Show appealed to 2.72m afterwards. On BBC2, Wimbledon coverage averaged 1.3m between 5.55pm and 9.30pm and, as usual overran, completely screwing up the night's schedule. After it finally finished, a repeat of Ewan McGregor's The Battle Of Britain documentary was watched by 1.16m and Mock The Week had six hundred and twenty thousnad punters. ITV broadcast Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 from 7pm, which was watched by 2.71m. Afterwards a repeat of Black Work had four hundred and sixty thousand. On Channel Four, the movie Ted starring Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and Seth MacFarlane was seen by 1.32m from 9pm. Channel Five's latest Big Brother highlights at 9.50pm took figures of eight hundred and forty three thousand sad, crsuehd victims of society. On the multichannels, ITV3's Midsomer Murders had an audience of nine hundred and thirty three thousand viewers from 8pm.

Novak Djokovic's third Wimbledon triumph topped the overnight ratings on Sunday. The Serbian's victory over Roger Federer attracted an average audience of 7.42 million from 1.45pm on BBC1, up from last year's overnight average of 5.89m. Its peak of 9.11m at around 5.15pm was slightly down from last year's peak of 9.86m. Later, a repeat of David Attenborough's interview with Barack Obama was watched by 4.09m at 6.15pm, followed by Countryfile with 6.18m at 7.15pm. Fake Or Fortune? brought in 4.99m at 8.15pm and new period drama The Outcast opened with 4.28m at 9.15pm. On BBC2, Dragons' Den returned with 2.23m at 8.15pm, while Odyssey continued with nine hundred and forty eight thousand at 9.15pm. ITV's Catchphrase drew 2.79m at 7.15pm, followed by Surprise, Surprise with 2.99m at 8pm and Joanna Lumley's Trans-Siberian Adventure with 3.71m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Amazing Spaces: Shed Of The Year appealed to 1.25m at 8pm, while Humans attracted 2.16m at 9pm. Channel Five's latest Big Brother fiasco had an audience of eight hundred and sixty one thousand at 9pm, while the Michael Caine movie Harry Brown drew six hundred and twenty thousand punters at 10pm. And, not a lot of people know that. Sky1's wretched new series King Of The Nerds debuted with a laughably low audience of ninety nine thousand at 7pm. FOX's launch of Marvel's Agent Carter was seen by two hundred and fifty four thousand at 9pm. And, rather good it was too. Even the Indi's reviewer seemed to like it.
And, so to the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty programmes, week-ending Sunday 5 July 2015:-
1 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 7.44m
2 Black Work - Sun ITV 6.85m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 6.80m
4 The Syndicate - Tues BBC1 - 6.35m
5 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 5.77m
6 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.62m
7 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.97m
8= Fake Or Fortune? - Sun BBC1 - 4.81m
8= Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.81m
10 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.77m
11 Six O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.53m
12 Celebrity MasterChef - Thurs BBC1 - 4.41m
13 Wimbledon - Sat BBc1 - 4.20m
14 The Met: Policing London - Mon BBC1 - 4.18m
15 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.11m
16 Humans - Sun C4 - 3.95m
17 A Song For Jenny - Sun BBC1 - 3.87m
18 Formula 1: The British Grand Prix - Sun BBC1 - 3.68m
19 Britain Beneath Your Feet - Thurs BBC1 - 3.67m
20 Long Lost Family - Wed ITV - 3.52m*
These figures, as usual, do not include iPlayer or ITV Player viewers. ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's highest-rated weekly programmes were a Top Gear repeat (2.18m), coverage of the British Grand Prix Qualifying session (1.85m), Wimbledon (1.79m), Gardeners' World (1.74m), Wimbledon 2day (also 1.74m), Mock The Week (1.64m), and Odyssey (1.55m). Aside from Humans, Channel Four's top-rated shows were Kevin McCloud's Escape To The WildE (2.39m) and Superfoods: The Real Story (1.99m). Channel Five's highest-rated broadcasts were again dominated by Big Brother (Tuesday's audience of 1.46m being the largest of the week). BBC3's coverage of the England versus Germany play-off at the Women's World Cup was the most-watched multichannels broadcast (1.93m). More4's highest-rated show was Come Dine With Me (three hundred and twelve thousand). Midsomer Murder was ITV3's best-rated drama with eight hundred and eight thousand viewers. Foyle's War had six hundred and thirty five thousand and Lewis attracted five hundred and seventy thousand. BBC4's weekly list was topped by Catching History's Criminals (six hundred and nineteen thousand) and Rock 'N' Roll America (five hundred and ninety seven thousand) followed by Scotland's War At Sea (five hundred and ninety thousand) and Dan Cruickshank's Civilisation Under Attack (five hundred and twenty seven thousand). 5USA's Chicago PD attracted four hundred and nineteen thousand whilst Longmire was watched by four hundred and six thousand. Penny Dreadful (five hundred and two thousand), The Affair (three hundred and thirty nine thousand) and the second episode of True Detective's second series (three hundred and twenty nine thousand) were Sky Atlantic's weekly list-toppers. Sky Living's most-watched programmes were Madam Secretary (four hundred and fifty eight thousand viewers), Chicago Fire (four hundred and twenty five thousand) and Hannibal (two hundred and forty two thousand). On Dave, Storage Hunters UK was the channel's highest-rated programme of the week - four hundred and forty three thousand - followed by Not Going Out (three hundred and thirty seven thousand), Mock The Week (three hundred thousand), and Qi (two hundred and eighty thousand). Watch's Who Do You Think You Are? USA had an audience of one hundred and twenty eight thousand. With the current series of NCIS having ended a couple of weeks ago, FOX's highest-rated shows were American Dad (two hundred and sixty thousand), Falling Skies (two hundred and thirty five thousand) and Wayward Pines (one hundred and ninety nine thousand). NCIS did top CBS Action's weekly list (one hundred and twenty seven thousand). The Universal Channel's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit had one hundred and eighty five thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Deadliest Catch was watched by one hundred and ninety seven thousand viewers. The much-trailed Sean Conway - Running Britain attracted eighty four thousand. Discovery History's Ultimate Warfare had an audience of nineteen thousand viewers. On Discovery Turbo, Wheeler Dealers drew forty nine thousand. CI's Homicide Hunter brought in seventy thousand. ID's Swamp Murders was watched by fifty seven thousand. National Geographic's Wicked Tuna had seventy two thousand. GOLD's The Interviews attracted two hundred and five thousand punters.

Yer men Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May will, allegedly, have to wait for two years if they want to launch a motoring show on ITV. A clause in the former Top Gear trio's old BBC contracts prevents them from making a rival car show on a UK terrestrial channel until April 2017, the Torygraph reports. ITV and Netflix are thought to be leading the race to sign the trio for a new project, although if reports of the legal hitch are accurate, it could swing the balance in favour of the online streaming service which is, seemingly, not covered by the non-competition clause in their previous BBC contracts. Hammond and May declined to sign a new Top Gear deal after Clarkson's contract was not renewed over a high-profile bust-up with a producer. Incoming host Chris Evans suggested that the new Top Gear will 'definitely' feature a female co-host, although the BBC later played down his comments. Ahead of the programme's on-screen return, Top Gear launched a new website this week which saw it 'finally enter the Twenty First Century of the Internet.'
Meanwhile, in a - not entirely agenda-free - piece, the Daily Scum Express have finally put two and two together and published a piece criticising the BBC for dropping Clarkson and, potentially, losing a huge amount of income from overseas sales of Top Gear at the same time as they are laying off up to a thousand staff in the latest round of cuts. All of which is hard to argue against - indeed, this blogger has been very vocal on exactly that subject previously. Albeit, the Express's figures are a bit off - Top Gear's annual income to the BBC's coffers was closer to eighty million smackers than the five hundred million they quote. It must be said, however, that the Scum Express's glossing over the reason for Clarkson's departure (by not mentioning it at all in the article) rather suggests that if a member of the Scum Express's staff were to, for the sake of argument, biff owner and soft-core pornographer Richard Desmond geet hard on the conk, on the strength of the opinions expressed in thier piece, they would likely not be sacked as it might affect profits. Yeah, sure. Plus, dragging in odious, slavvering quotes from rent-a-gob Tory and UKiP politicians really is a bit obvious, even for a sick anti-BBC pile of vomit as the Scum Express.
Sophie Okonedo will star as a high-flying lawyer about to become the first black director of public prosecutions opposite Adrian Lester in Peter Moffat’s new BBC1 drama, Undercover. The casting makes the six-part drama a rarity in BBC1 primetime for having two black actors in the lead roles. It comes as the corporation attempts to improve its record on diversity. Okonedo, Oscar-nominated for her role in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda, starred on Broadway with Denzel Washington and said in an interview last year that she got many more job offers from the US than the UK. 'The balance is ridiculous,' she said. 'There's something amiss here.' Okonedo will play Maya, about to become the first black DPP, co-starring with Adrian Lester who plays her husband, undercover police officer Nick. Moffat, whose previous credits include Silk and Criminal Justice – which also starred Okonedo – said he had been 'itching to get back to look at the parts of the justice system, the media and public life that time and again have been shown to be occupied by the good, the bad and the very ugly.' Okonedo said that Moffat had written an 'extraordinary story that is relevant and at the same time utterly compelling. He asks hard questions of us all. The part I play is a Titan of women, called Maya who is not afraid to say the unsayable. She is a truth seeker and is prepared to shine light into the darkness corners come what may. I am tremendously excited, honoured and of course a little frightened to play her.' Just as Maya's career is about to take off she discovers that her husband has been lying to her for years and she does not know if he is concealing an affair or something more sinister. In an interview with the Gruniad Morning Star last year, Okonedo said: 'I do notice that – over the last year – I've had maybe two scripts from England and tens from America. The balance is ridiculous. I'm still struggling [in the UK] in a way that my white counterparts at the same level wouldn't have quite the same struggle. People who started with me would have their own series by now, and I'm still fighting to get the second lead or whatever. I think I'm at a certain level and have a good range, so why isn't my in box of English scripts busting at the seams in the same way as my American one is?' A six-part drama, Undercover will begin shooting in and around Cornwall and London from July.

Here's the first glimpse of yer actual Suranne Jones playing a wronged woman. The divine Suranne will be seen later this year in Doctor Foster, a five-part thriller for BBC1 about a popular GP, Gemma Foster, who believes her husband is having a secret affair. Bertie Carvel plays her husband, Simon, in the drama written by Mike Bartlett. Jones said, 'It's about looking at one woman's story and asking, "What if that was me? What would I do in that situation? And the age-old question of why." I am very much looking forward to telling Gemma Foster's story.'
It has been, according to the Gruniad Morning Star 'the worst week of the BBC's life' and it could be about to get a whole hell of a lot worse. 'It began with a phone call from the culture secretary, John Whittingdale, to the BBC's Director General, Tony Hall, and ended four days later with the broadcaster saddled with the £750m cost of funding free TV licences for the over-seventy fives. And this as the corporation was also dealing with news that it had lost control of the rights to the Olympics [and] the rejection by the BBC Trust of a proposal for a BBC1+1 channel.' Lord Hall said the licence fee agreement, confirmed in the House of Commons on Monday, was 'the best deal' in 'difficult economic circumstances.' For its critics, such as the former BBC chair Lord Patten, it was 'a quick and dirty deal.' The broadcaster and Labour peer Melvyn Bragg called it 'completely and utterly wrong.' The shadow culture secretary, Chris Bryant, said the BBC 'had a gun to their head and chose to get shot in the leg instead.' The BBC Trust has said that it 'cannot endorse' George Osborne's overhaul of the licence fee. Osborne announced plans today for the BBC to begin covering the cost of free TV licences for over-seventy fives starting in 2018-19, which will inevitably lead to large-scale service cuts. Rona Fairhead, chairman of the BBC Trust, has since come out in opposition to the way Osborne's plan has been presented to the public. 'We accept this decision is a legitimate one for the government to take, although we cannot endorse the process by which it has been reached,' Fairhead wrote in a letter posted on the BBC Trust's Twitter account. 'Clearly, beyond the current charter period it is for the government to determine both its policy on the over-seventy fives concession and how that is funded. We could not, ultimately, obstruct any decision that you made.' Fairhead affirmed the Trust's responsibility 'to represent the interests of licence fee payers. We are disappointed that [the public] have not been given any say in the major decisions about the BBC's future funding,' she added. 'However, we accept that those decisions now set a clear financial framework, subject to the terms set out in your letter, for a charter review process that will focus on what the BBC provides in return for its funding.' Bryant has criticised the Conservatives' plan, saying that it is 'no way to run a whelk stall, let alone the best broadcaster in the world'. He also turned his not inconsiderable ire on Fairhead, saying the chair of the Trust should resign because the government has turned her into 'a lame duck' through its recent secret funding deal with the BBC. It has also emerged that the BBC licence fee will rise in line with the consumer price index in the coming years. Hall took the call from the lack of culture secretary on 29 June informing him that the BBC would have to bear the cost of the over-seventy fives' TV licences, a bill currently covered by the Department for Work and Pensions. In a series of meetings that followed, including one with the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale and the chancellor and one with Osborne alone, Hall and the BBC's managing director of finance and operations, Anne Bulford, sought to wring concessions from the government in the face of this apparent fait accompli. Potentially the most significant was the government's announcement that the licence fee – flat at £145.50 since 2010 – would rise in line with the consumer price index over the next charter period, beginning in 2017. But the deal remains dependent on BBC efficiency savings and 'the conclusions of the charter review, in relation to the purposes and scope of the BBC.' Senior industry 'sources', according to the Gruniad, attributed the clause to the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale, who will now oversee the review process, rather than Osborne, from whom Hall is said to have secured the link to inflation. 'That phrase is like a landmine, a huge Achilles heel,' said one - anonymous - industry source. 'The nightmare scenario is that the BBC is subject to a double-dip attack – both financial and on scope.' The last time the Conservatives attempted to foist on the BBC the cost of free TV licences for older people, in 2010, the then Director General, Mark Thompson, and the BBC Trust threatened to resign en masse. The government backed down but the BBC still had to take on a range of new funding responsibilities, including the World Service, effectively reducing the BBC's budget by twenty six per cent in real terms. But there are two vital differences between the backdoor deals done in 2010 and 2015: political support and a relatively strong BBC Trust, then led by the politically astute Sir Michael Lyons. Five years ago, the Tories were in coalition with the Lib Dems, described as 'very helpful' towards the BBC. In 2015, the Trust is effectively a busted flush which even its own chair, Rona Fairhead, has suggested is not fit for purpose. David Liddiment, a former ITV director of programmes and an associate of the Old Vic, warned of the impact of a weaker BBC on the UK's creative industries, worth seventy seven billion smackers a year to the UK economy. 'I do have real fears of long-term damage,' he said. 'The ability to run amazing programming about the visual arts and opera, that is part of the infrastructure that supports the arts in this country. When the money gets thinner, the BBC will protect the services with the highest reach and the bits around the edges, where there is some of the most interesting and creative stuff, will suffer. It's hugely disappointing to see the charter review process undermined before it has begun by a settlement that presupposes a lot of things about the future of the BBC. It undermines the whole idea of the BBC as an independent body. It is a very sad day.' Other supporters of the BBC pin their hope on an unlikely source. 'The Prime Minister is a strong supporter of the BBC,' said another - anonymous- senior industry figure. 'I'd be surprised if he wants to go down as the PM who dismembered the BBC.' The BBC recently confirmed that more than one thousand jobs will be cut in the face of dwindling TV Licence Fee funds. Christ only knows how much of the BBC will be left to cut come 2018 when they'll suddenly have to find another seven hundred million smackers worth of product to cut. Bye, bye BBC4, so long 6Music, adieu BBC local radio, tarra 5Live, indeed farewell BBC2, probably. If you like something, anything, that the BBC makes dear blog reader, chances are that this week has seen the beginning of the end of it. The BBC, founded 1922, screwed with its pants on 2015.
BBC spending could fall twenty per cent in real terms over the next five years under the government's plans to hand the corporation the bill for providing free TV licences to pensioners, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility's analysis of Wednesday's budget. The OBR predicts BBC spending will fall by about four hundred million from £3.9bn this year to £3.5bn in 2020-21 as the BBC takes responsibly for the bill in phases. The cost to the BBC at the end of the five years is expected to be seven hundred and forty five million quid annually. However, the OBR figures do not take into account the phasing out of the top-slicing of the licence fee for broadband roll out which will save the corporation eighty million knicker per year by 2020 or the impact of the modernisation of the licence fee to include the small number of homes which only watch TV catch-up services. The predicted fall in spending at the BBC compares with a 0.8per cent fall across public spending. The calculation relies on the licence fee being linked to inflation, which the government has said is dependent on the BBC charter renewal process deciding the corporation's scope should remain the same and it can prove it is as efficient. The analysis appears to contradict BBC Director General Tony Hall's insistence that the corporation had got 'a good deal' in its negotiations with the government. It hasn't done that or anything even remotely like it. Included in the spending figures is a small increase in expected licence fee receipts of about one hundred million smackers a year, following a sharp downward revision made by the OBR in March. 'Our forecast of BBC spending is down significantly from 2018-19 onwards compared to March,' said the OBR. 'Most of the change reflects the government's decision progressively to stop compensating the BBC for the licence fee revenue forgone by requiring it to provide free TV licences for those aged seventy five and over. When the government begins to withdraw this funding, we assume that the BBC will reduce its spending by almost the same amount, but with some small and diminishing offsetting contribution from its reserves.'
Smug-faced slapheed Nick Robinson has announced he is leaving his job as the BBC's political editor after ten years. The journalist will be staying within the corporation though, as he moves to a presenting role replacing James Naughtie on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Which is a decent job for him as he's got the perfect face for radio. Robinson has described it as an 'honour' to step into Naughtie's shoes and said he is looking forward to hearing other people's political analysis. He said: 'I cannot remember a time when my morning did not begin with Today setting the nation's agenda. As a child it was the sound not just of the latest news and the sharpest comment but also of my best friend's dad, Brian Redhead, who inspired my love of radio. I'm delighted that all these years later I am being given the chance to sit in what was his chair.' Robinson will continue to report and present for BBC News and Current Affairs in his new role.

ITV is working on a new event series based around the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. The four-part drama - from The Bletchley Circle writer Guy Burt - will tell the compelling true story of how Howard Carter came to discover the tomb of Ancient Egypt's boy-king. Carter's incredible story will begin in 1905 as he leads an expedition to find lost treasures in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. However, he finds himself living rough when his license to dig is revoked and he is forced to sell his previous finds in order to survive. An unlikely friendship with a British aristocrat, Lord Carnavon, brings Carter back to archaeology and helps him make one of the most significant discoveries of the modern age. The drama will be executive produced by ITV Studios' Creative Director of Drama, Francis Hopkinson, who has previously worked on Home Fires, Jekyll & Hyde and Wallander. She said: 'Howard Carter's discovery of the lost tomb of Tutankhamun is legendary. His all-consuming, obsessive search for the tomb pushed his friendship with Lord Carnarvon to the brink, whilst the adventurous and extrovert aristocrat poured his inheritance into the excavation.' ITV's Director of Drama, Steve November, added: 'Tutankhamun is a story of epic proportions. Against the backdrop of World War One, conflict, murder, corruption, romance and the unlikeliest of friendships, Tutankhamun sees Howard Carter's determination pay off in spectacular style when he discovers one of the greatest archaeological treasures of the modern world.' Peter Webber will direct the series, which will begin filming in South Africa towards the end of 2015. Casting will be announced shortly.

Ripper Street is returning to BBC1 this month. The third series of the drama - which is co-produced by the BBC and Amazon - previously launched on Amazon Prime Instant Video at the end of 2014. The show's creator and writer Richard Warlow said: 'Series three pivots around the fall from grace of Long Susan Hart, a woman whose new philanthropic ambition is matched only by her ruthless pursuit. Because in Whitechapel, good intentions all too often have evil ends, and as strong as she is, Whitechapel is stronger.' Amazon has also confirmed that the drama will continue for a fourth and fifth series. It is unclear whether the forthcoming series will be broadcast on the BBC.
BBC1's adaptation of Agatha Christie's ... And Then There Were None has gone into production, with an all-star cast including Douglas Booth, Sam Neill and Aiden Turner. The story is the best-selling crime novel of all time with one hundred million copies sold across the globe. It will be adapted into a three-part series by Sarah Phelps. Set in 1939, ten strangers are invited to Soldier Island off the Devon coast where all are accused of terrible crimes. When one is killed, the group must come to terms with and investigate a possible murderer amidst them. Among the group are 'a reckless playboy, a troubled Harley Street doctor, a formidable judge, an uncouth detective, an unscrupulous mercenary, a God-fearing spinster, two restless servants, a highly decorated general and an anxious secretary.' Joining Booth, Neill and Turner are Charles Dance, Burn Gorman and Anna Maxwell Martin. Completing the cast are Miranda Richardson, Toby Stephens, Maeve Dermody and Noah Taylor. Polly Hill, controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, said: 'We are thrilled to be bringing Agatha Christie's wonderful novel to the television screen for the first time. Sarah Phelps's brilliant adaptation and this stellar cast will prove to be a real treat for the BBC1 audience.' ... And Then There Were None will be broadcast in the UK later this year to coincide with the one hundred and twenty fifth anniversary of Christie's birth. It will be shown in the US in 2016.

David Suchet retired his walking stick and moustache when he left the role of iconic detective Hercule Poirot almost two years ago. However, he has now revealed he wouldn't turn down a return as Agatha Christie's famed Belgian sleuth - although only in a film. Suchet thinks he would be passed over for a big-name Hollywood star though, to bring in a larger audience to the movie. Speaking to The Stage, he said: 'I've said I'll only return if anyone makes a movie and they want me - which they won't because it will be Hollywood and they'll want one of the new A-listers.' Suchet played Agatha Christie's detective Hercule Poirot for twenty five years, with a final appearance in ITV's November 2013 Poirot episode Curtain.
And, still on the subject of Poirot, Kenneth Branagh could be set to remake one of the most famous murder mystery movies. Agatha Christie's novel Murder On The Orient Express, about a mysterious death on a train, first made it onto the big screen in 1974. Since then it has been a - really not very good - TV movie and a - much better - episode of Poirot featuring yer actual David Suchet. Talks surrounding a fourth adaptation are understood to be under way and although no casting announcements have been made, Branagh has been linked to the production.
The character of Deirdre Barlow has been written out of Coronation Street following the death of actress Anne Kirkbride. Kirkbride, who played Deirdre for more than forty years died in January aged sixty. The actress had been away from the screen for four months following her diagnosis with cancer. In Wednesday night's episode, her on-screen husband Ken, played by Bill Roache was told of the devastating news by her friend, Bev. Her death subsequently announced to the rest of Weatherfield's residents at a party planned for her homecoming at the Rovers Return. A funeral service for her character will be shown on Monday night. Kirkbride began in Coronation Street in 1972 as Deirdre Hunt. In the 1980s, one of the soap's most famous storylines hinged on whether she would stay with Ken Barlow. She was married four times in the programme, twice to Ken. The actress had previously taken a break from the show after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1993. Following her death, Roache said Coronation Street had lost one of its iconic characters. 'I feel Anne's loss so personally having worked closely with her for over forty years. You always knew she was there because her laugh was never far away.'

After saying that he wouldn't return, it turns out Harry Shearer is returning to The Simpsons for a twenty seventh season. Which is good news, as he plays the voices of Ned Flanders and Monty Burns among others. It was reported in May that Shearer had turned down a new pay deal, with Shearer claiming that he wanted 'the freedom to do other work.' But FOX tweeted this week that 'all principal cast members' have signed and subsequent reports suggested that the four-season contracts which will keep the main Simpsons cast together, according to Entertainment Weekly. It said the deal is worth three hundred thousand dollars per episode for Shearer, Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, and Hank Azaria.
England romped to a crushing one hundred and sixty nine-run victory over Australia in the first Ashes test sat Cardiff to take a one-nil lead in the five match series. Chasing an unlikely four hundred and twelve to win, Australia lost four wickets for nine runs in thirty five balls either side of lunch and were bowled out for two hundred and forty two, an hour after tea. Stuart Broad was England's inspiration, taking the wickets of three of Australia's top four batsmen. And, following a brief lower order rally, Joe Root showed his golden touch to take two of the last three wickets, including Mitchell Johnson for a spirited seventy seven. The win is a huge fillip for England, who lost the last Ashes series five-nil down under and have only won one of their last five Test series. Having been reduced to forty three for three on the first morning, they rebounded to produce four days of high-class, aggressive cricket in their first match under Australian coach Trevor Bayliss. Australia, strong favourites to retain the Ashes before the series, now have only five days to recover and reassess their tactics before the second test starts at Lord's on Thursday. After a relatively frustrating Sunday morning in which the ball flew repeatedly past the edge, England were contemplating going to lunch with only the wicket of Chris Rogers to show for their efforts. But Alastair Cook's decision to give the ball to Moeen Ali for the final over before the interval proved to be a masterstroke. David Warner, who had dismissively launched Moeen for six over mid-wicket in his previous spell, played around a ball that slid straight on and was out LBW for fifty two. The wicket brought palpable relief to a jittery home crowd and dampened the growing optimism among the Aussie-supporting contingent who, all of a sudden, weren't anywhere near so cocky as they had been. Worse was to come for those in green and gold. In the first over after lunch, Broad drew Steve Smith into an ugly poke away from his body and for the second time in the match the world's number one test batsman was out for thirty three. As England's relentless accuracy dried up Australia's scoring, captain Michael Clarke succumbed to temptation. Aiming an airy drive at Broad, he picked out Ben Stokes at backward point. Adam Voges then nicked his fellow Ashes debutant Mark Wood to Jos Buttler before Cook took a quite brilliant catch at the second attempt to complete Brad Haddin's miserable match. When Shane Watson fell - predictably - LBW to Wood, and - again, predictably - once again tossed away a pointless review, Australia were one hundred and fifty one for seven. To their credit, the Australian lower order launched a mini-recovery as Johnson showed his abilities with the bat. His partnership of seventy two with Mitchell Starc briefly threatened to push the game into a fifth day, only for part-time off-spinner Root to provide the crucial impetus for England. Having just been smashed for fourteen runs in three balls by Johnson, Root stayed on to have Starc and Johnson caught at slip by Adam Lyth in successive overs to leave Australia nine down. And when Josh Hazlewood lofted Moeen to Root at long-on, England and their fans launched into celebrations. Broad showed himself to be England's man for the big occasion with another influential Ashes performance. He set the tone with an exceptional opening burst, which started with three consecutive maidens and featured the breakthrough wicket of Rogers, caught at slip to end a run of seven consecutive test fifties. Returning after lunch for another probing spell of full, fast seam bowling, Broad gestured to the crowd to raise the noise levels. And as they roared his run-up from the Cathedral Road End, he responded to remove Smith and Clarke to rip the heart out of Australia's batting. Seeing Broad in such inspired form carried echoes of 2009 at The Oval, when he took five for thirty seven on the second afternoon to set up England's Ashes series-winning victory. Then, two years ago, he was England's match-winner in Durham, with a spell of six for twenty in forty five balls as England sealed that series. Australia, who had won eleven of their previous sixteen Tests, suddenly have issues to address as they look to wrestle back the initiative and get back on course for a first Ashes win in the UK since 2001. The twenty ninth LBW of Watson's test career must surely raise questions over the all-rounder's place in the team, especially given that his understudy, Mitchell Marsh, scored hundreds in both of Australia's warm-up games against Essex and Kent. Haddin is another player under scrutiny, following his pivotal drop to reprieve England's first-innings centurion Root on nought on the opening morning. The thirty seven-year-old also conceded twenty four byes in the match - albeit, some of those were down to wayward bowling rather than the wicket keeper himself - and he looked a shadow of the counter-punching batsmen who tormented England during the 2013-14 whitewash. There are also concerns over the fitness of Starc, who required treatment for an ankle injury after day one and, despite bowling well, was visibly limping during England's second innings. Given Ryan Harris's injury-forced retirement on the eve of the first test, the Aussies can ill afford another casualty in their bowling ranks. This is only the third time in the last fifteen Ashes series that England have won the first Test - after 1997 and 2013. Australia have won only two of the last sixteen Ashes tests they have played in England and Wales. England captain Alastair Cook said: 'It was a brilliant performance. This Test couldn't have gone any better and we'll enjoy tonight. Joe Root was fantastic and the bowlers were superb. Everyone was talking about what's gone on in the past, but this is a different side. We had to look forward. We always took the attacking option in this game.' Australia's captain Michael Clarke admitted: 'We were outplayed in all three facets. England batted well on day one, we didn't take our catches and our batting let us down in both innings. We look forward to making amends in the second Test. I'm sure the selectors will look at everyone's performance and make a decision.'
Test Match Special is better known for remarks about cakes sent in by listeners and pigeons landing on sight screens. But when Geoffrey Boycott suggested that Stuart Broad wasn't smacked enough by his mother when he was little, it prompted an inquiry by the BBC Trust after a listener whinged that it 'condoned physical abuse of children.' Boycott, the former England and Yorkshire cricketer, made the comment during an exchange with his fellow TMS commentator Henry Blofeld after Broad made an unsuccessful appeal for leg before wicket during England's second test against India last summer. Boycott had previously criticised Broad for not putting the Indian batsmen under pressure, and it prompted a discussion about the bowler's perceived over-eagerness to appeal. Boycott said: 'His mum didn't smack him enough when he was little, I reckon.' Blofeld responded: 'You’re a tough man, Geoffrey.' Boycott continued: 'See I grew up in that [era]. No political correctness then. You got a little clip from your mum. That sorted you out.' A single listener - who clearly didn't have anything better to do with his or her time - whinged after the broadcast on 19 July last year, on Radio 4 long wave and Radio 5Live Sports Extra, saying it had 'condoned the physical abuse of children' and said the comments were 'insensitive and inappropriate.' The complaint was, very satisfyingly, rejected by the BBC's editorial complaints unit, saying that Blofeld and Boycott were 'very well known to the audience and had well-established characters.' It said light-hearted conversations were 'a hallmark' of TMS and Boycott and Blofeld had laughed during the exchange. The whinge was later escalated to the BBC Trust, but trustees ruled out an appeal saying it had little chance of success. It 'acknowledged the seriousness of protection of children' but said that the audience would have 'understood that there was no serious intent behind the remark.' It said it was 'clear that the remarks were made in the context of criticising the behaviour of the player who appealed to the umpire that a cricketer was out in circumstances when it was evident he was wrong.' Stuart Broad's thoughts on the matter - and, indeed, those of his mum - are not known.
The BBC Trust has said that there was 'a serious breach' of guidelines after a reporter mistakenly tweeted that the Queen had died. The incident last month saw BBC Urdu reporter Ahmen Khawaja tweet that Queen Elizabeth had been admitted to London's King Edward VII's Hospital. A second tweet stated that she had died. Khawaja initially deleted the tweets, calling it 'a false alarm.' She later claimed that she had not sent the tweet and that it had been 'a silly prank' after she left her phone 'unattended at home.' However, as global media reported the gaff, the BBC confirmed that they had been carrying out a rehearsal to prepare for a royal death, something Khawaja had not been informed of. In its report published this week, the Trust described the tweets as 'a grave error of judgement', with Khawaja now facing disciplinary proceedings and the possibility of a very severe chastisement. And, probably, the tin-tack to follow. 'A journalist working for the BBC's language services who had not been sent the e-mail saw an internal TV monitor which was showing the rehearsal,' the report said. 'A number of tweets were sent from her Twitter account. The first stated that the Queen was being treated in hospital, the second stated that the Queen had died; the tweets included a link to BBC World's official Twitter feed.' While the Trust added that it 'profoundly regretted any distress that had been caused', the BBC executive said that an internal investigation was continuing into the 'serious breach of editorial guidelines.' Those who had been involved in the rehearsal had been asked to keep it private, avoiding any social media discussion.
Freddie Starr has totally lost his High Court claim against Karin Ward, who said that Starr groped her when she was fifteen. Ward alleged that the assault took place in 1974 behind the scenes of disgraced and disgraceful old rotter Jimmy Savile's Clunk Click TV show. Starr denied the claims and sought damages for alleged slander and libel. Judge Mr Justice Nicol said that his case failed because Ward's testimony was 'found to be true' and because too much time had lapsed. The entertainer claimed that he has lost three hundred grand from shows being cancelled over the allegations. He sued over interviews given by Ward to the BBC and ITV in October 2012, statements on a website and those made in an e-Book about Ward's life. Starr is now reportedly facing a one million knicker bill in costs. Which, to be fair, is far funnier than any joke he's ever told in his career. A previous criminal investigation into Ward's claims by the Crown Prosecution Service decided that no charges would be brought against Starr. Mother-of-seven Ward - a pupil at Duncroft Approved School, in Staines, in March 1974 - told the court that Starr had also made 'a lewd comment' about her chest. 'I carried that phrase with me all my life and it certainly helped to wreck three marriages,' she said. Ward, who is from Oswestry in Shropshire, also said that she was sexually abused by disgusting scallywag and right-rotten rotter Savile 'more than once' in return for going to BBC Television Centre and being in the Clunk Click audience. She said that she had been given lithium while at her school, which had affected her memory, but that she 'very vividly' remembered that Starr smelled of alcohol and cologne. She also said Starr 'behaved in the same way that every red-blooded male behaved in 1974 when it was perfectly acceptable' and because of this acceptance, she had not complained at the time. '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 say "honk, honk"' she told the court. '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 told the judge, who heard the case without a jury, that she was 'not prepared to apologise to the claimant or retract what I have said, because I have told the truth about him.' Speaking after the ruling, she said she was 'relieved' at the outcome. 'For anyone who hasn't yet dared to come forward, I say - do not take this case as a reason not to do so. Stand tall, it wasn't your fault and you have a right to be heard without fear or threat of not being believed. You may have had no voice and no choice when you were younger, but now you do.' During the hearing, Starr had rejected the allegation that he had groped the teenager in Savile's dressing-room, saying his 'moral compass' would not allow him to perform such an act. He also claimed that he had never groped anyone and denied having 'wandering hands.' In his ruling, Nicol said that the slander based on Ward's interview to the BBC failed because it was brought outside the legal time limit. The libel claim from the BBC interview in Panorama failed because Ward was not liable for the composite broadcast and the slander claim from the ITV interview failed because Ward proved it was true that Starr groped and humiliated her, the judge said. The claim over the e-Book related to allegations which Ward had proved were true, the judge also ruled. Ward's solicitor, Helen Morris, said in a statement after the ruling that the allegation about Starr was made during two interviews Ward gave about the sexual abuse at the hands of Jimmy Savile. She said Ward had 'been abandoned' by the two broadcasters who interviewed her and had been treated 'disgracefully. It is particularly egregious for the BBC and ITV/ITN to have done so when Karin Ward put her head above the parapet to speak out about Savile,' she said. She also said that journalists from the Newsnight and Exposure television programmes had given evidence, in which they said Ward had performed a public service by being the first victim of Savile to speak out, which resulted in five hundred of his victims coming forward.

A Moroccan TV channel has escaped sanctions after broadcasting a controversial Jennifer Lopez concert. The country's Prime Minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, who sounds like a right laugh, ordered an investigation following Lopez's 'sexually suggestive' performance at a music festival which broadcast on the public television channel 2M. He said that the show 'violated Morocco's laws' and called for sanctions against the channel's management. But the media regulator said that the request was outside its remit. The American pop star's show at Mawazine festival in Rabat on 29 May sparked controversy among local media in the highly conservative Muslim country. Writing to the president of High Audiovisual Communication Authority, Benkirane demanded the regulator 'take legal measures against those responsible.' He said 2M's management had 'failed to intervene and stop the broadcast of the disgraceful scenes' as the concert was shown without a time delay. The performance's 'sexual overtones' were 'indecent and provocative to the religious and moral values of Moroccan society,' he added. But HACA ruled that the Prime Minister's application 'was inadmissible in form, because it does not fall within the scope' of the regulator's mission, which was to 'address issues related to the audiovisual sector as a whole and not on specific cases.' Lopez has performed in Morocco previously without trouble from glakes. However, May's gig was her first televised show. According to the TMZ website an 'educational group' is also suing the singer over the performance, claiming she 'disturbed public order and tarnished women's honour and respect.'
Scientists have released their latest map of Pluto, using images from the inbound New Horizons spacecraft. It unwraps the visible parts of the sphere on to a flat projection, giving another view of the features that have started to emerge in recent days. Evident are the light and dark patches at the equator, including one long dark band being dubbed 'the whale.' The US space agency's New Horizons probe is now less than seven days away from its historic flyby. It is due to pass over the surface of the dwarf planet at a distance of less than thirteen thousand kilometres, grabbing a mass of images and other scientific data. The pictures at that point will be pin-sharp, showing targets on the surface of the two thousand kilometre-wide body at a resolution of better than one hundred metres per pixel. The new images were acquired between 27 June and 3 July. They are a combination of shots from the probe's high-resolution, 'black and white' camera, Lorri, and its lower-resolution, colour imager known as Ralph. The whitish area in the centre covers the face of the dwarf planet which will present itself to New Horizons at closest approach. To the East is the spotty terrain that has generated most discussion so far. Cradled in the whale's 'tail' is something which looks like a doughnut. But, it's probably not as there is no evidence of alien life on Pluto or, even if there is, there's certainl no evidence that they have invented the doughnut. It could be a impact crater or a volcano, although at this resolution any interpretation remains pure speculation. New Horizons has recovered from its weekend hiccup, in which the probe tripped itself into a protective safe mode and dropped communications with Earth for over an hour. Engineers say they understand the cause of the computer glitch. This particular type of error, they stress, has now been ruled out for the probe's next few historic days. New Horizons was launched from Earth in 2006. It is set to gather hundreds of pictures and other research data as it sweeps past Pluto and its five moons Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos and Hydra.

Cat versus mouse; it is probably the most famous predator-prey pairing, enshrined in idioms and a well-known cartoon. And cats, it turns out, even have chemical warfare in their anti-mouse arsenal - contained in their urine. Researchers found that when very young mice were exposed to a chemical in cat piddle, they were less likely to avoid the scent of cats later in life. The findings were presented at the Society for Experimental Biology's annual meeting in Prague this week. The researchers, from the AN Severtov Institute of Ecology and Evolution in Moscow, had previously found that the compound - aptly named 'felinine' - causes pregnant mice to abort. Doctor Vera Voznessenskaya explained that mice have 'a physiological response' to this cat-specific compound. Chemical-sensing neurons in the mouse's brain pick up the scent, triggering a reaction which includes an increase in the levels of stress hormones. 'It's something that has existed in cats and mice for thousands of years,' said Voznessenskaya. This new study revealed that baby mice exposed to the compound during a 'critical period' in their development would, as adults, react quite differently to their arch enemy's wee-wee smell. The team exposed one-month-old mice to the chemical over two weeks. When they were tested later for their reaction, they were much less likely to flee the same scent. 'Their physical sensitivity [to the chemical] was actually actually much higher,' Voznessenskaya explained. 'More of their receptors detect the compound and they produce higher levels of stress hormone.' Despite this, mice raised around the unmistakable scent of cat piss are less inclined to show signs of fear, or to flee when they sniff it. 'You get a higher response, but less behaviour,' said Voznessenskaya. 'And habituating like this is probably useful for the mice; they can't run away, because they need to live around humans and food. And cats [also] live around humans.' As for the cats: 'They seem to be able to keep the number of mice around that they need,' she added.

Armed plod are used to dealing with burglars, riots and anti-social behaviour - dominatrixs in suburban London, however, aren't really the norm. But, Metropolitan Police officers were reportedly called to a four bedroom home in the leafy Kent town of Orpington after neighbours complained 'about the sounds of screams, whipping and spanking' coming from the detached house. So, just like yer average Saturday night round Stately Telly Topping Manor, in fact. Oh yes. The owner of the seven hundred and fifty grand property - the one in Orpington, that is, not Stately Telly Topping Manor - is dominatrix, Mistress Evilyne who runs 'Dungeon Manor' from behind its white facade. Mistress Evilyne said: 'My business is perfectly legal, I'm registered with HMRC and no sexual services are offered. People come to us with their fantasies, and we make them come true - anything from being put in a bath of baked beans to being forced to act like a dog. We are not loud and I don't know what the neighbours are complaining about.' The businesswoman also hires out the propertry to other dominatrixes visiting their 'slaves' and even to couples who are looking to add a bit of spicek to their sex lives. She added: 'A lot of couples in their fifties or so who are Middle Class want to have fun and try new things but can't do it at home because they have kids.' However, it would seem her neighbours - whom the Daily Scum Mail suggest include the local tennis club - have not been amused by her enterprising whipping. With one - anonymous, of course - local person allegedly saying: 'We turned a blind eye for a while, but there is so many people coming there at all hours of day and night that we're worried for our own safety. The noise they make sometimes gets too much too. And there's always camera equipment coming in or leaving. You don't want your children growing up around a BDSM sex dungeon.'
Tom Selleck appears to have reached an agreement with the California water board that accused him of stealing water from a public hydrant. A representative from the Calleguas Municipal Water District in Ventura County said the proposed settlement would go before the board next week. It is alleged a tanker truck filled up at a Ventura County hydrant more than a dozen times over the past two years. The water was then taken to Selleck's nearby ranch, it is claimed. The Calleguas district filed a complaint on Monday, accusing the actor of illegally exporting the district's water out of its service area. Selleck has yet to make a comment about the accusations made against him and his wife Jillie, who was also named in the legal action. California communities have been ordered to cut water usage drastically amid a four-year drought that has damaged the state's agriculture industry. Selleck grows avocados on his sixty-acre ranch in Westlake Village, which is located in a different area to the hydrant he is accused of tapping.

It seems that Klingons are alive and well. In Wales. Klingon was the chosen language for the Welsh government in its response to queries about UFO sightings at Cardiff Airport. While English and Welsh are the usual forms of communications in the Senedd, it opted for the native tongue of the Star Trek aliens. Shadow Health Minister, one Darren Millar, had asked for details about UFOs sightings and asked if research would be funded. A Welsh government spokesman responded with: 'jang vIDa je due luq.' The statement continued: ''ach ghotvam'e' Qi'yaH devolve qaS.' In full, this is translated as: 'The minister will reply in due course. However, this is a non-devolved matter.' It is believed to be the first time that the Welsh government - or, indeed, any government - has chosen to communicate in Klingon. 'I've always suspected that Labour ministers came from another planet,' said Millar. 'This response confirms it.' Ho, and indeed, ho. One wonders what the Klingon is for 'blimey, you're a humourless twat, aren't you'?
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United have signed PSV Eindhoven midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum in a fourteen and a half million knicker deal. The Dutch international becomes the first arrival under new head coach Steve McClaren. The fee for the twenty four-year-old is the biggest single amount paid for a player during the eight-year reign of Newcastle owner That Awful Ashley Bloke. Rotterdam-born Wijnaldum, who has been at PSV since 2011, has signed a five-year contract at St James' Park. He has been capped thirteen times by the Netherlands and scored his country's third goal in their 3-0 win over Brazil to finish third at the 2014 World Cup finals. 'I'm delighted to be a Newcastle United player,' Wijnaldum said. 'I felt the time was right for me to move and the club have shown they really want me. There are a few players here who are from Holland - I know them well and they will help me feel at home at Newcastle. I cannot wait to get started.' Wijnaldum is set to link up with McClaren's squad for the three-game tour of the United States, which kicks-off against Mexican side Club Atlas in Wisconsin on 14 July. McClaren said: 'The signing is a real statement for the club. It is a big transfer for a very good player and I am delighted to have Gini here. He is the right age and the right fit for Newcastle.' It had also been widely reported that McClaren has banned his players from swearing. The former England coach, who was appointed at St James' Park on 10 June, had a similar policy at his previous club Derby County. His assistant Paul Simpson - who worked alongside McClaren at Derby - explained earlier this year that the policy was about maintaining discipline. 'If you're ranting and raving and swearing, you haven't got control,' Simpson said in February. 'We say you are losing it so you may as well come and sit in the dugout.' Newcastle's first-team squad contains players who speak a number of languages. Goalkeeper Tim Krul, defender Daryl Janmaat, and midfielders Siem De Jong and Vurnon Anita - as well as the new signing - are Dutch, while ten players speak French as a first language and another two Spanish. And, then there are the geet canny local lads who speak aal Geordie, like.
Some very sad news now, dear blog reader. The former Cheers and The West Wing actor Roger Rees - a particular favourite actor of this blogger - has died at the age of seventy one. Roger, who played business tycoon Robin Colcord in Cheers, died after a short illness. The Aberystwyth-born actor and theatre irector's most recent role was in Broadway musical The Visit, where he starred alongside Chita Rivera. He was forced to pull out of the show to undergo medical treatment in May. No stranger to stage and screen, Roger won both Tony and Olivier awards in 1982 for his acclaimed title role in David Edgar's adaptation of The Life & Adventures Of Nicholas Nickleby and he played Sherlock Holmes in a 1988 BBC adaptation of The Hound Of The Baskervilles. Roger spent most of his childhood in South London where he acted in church and Boy Scout stage productions before studying art and painting. His first job in the business was as a scenery painter before he turned to acting full-time in the mid-1970s. He played Malcolm in the Trevor Nunn 1976 stage and 1978 television production of Macbeth and appeared opposite Laurence Olivier in The Ebony Tower (1984). From 1988 to 1991 he starred in the BBC sitcom Singles with co-star Judy Loe. Living in America since the mid-1990s, he would later appear to great acclaim on TV in dramas like The West Wing - in the well-remembered role of the lecherous British ambassador Lord John Marbury - and Elementary and also appeared in movies such as Robin Hood: Men in Tights, where he played the Sheriff of Rottingham and The Prestige. He is survived by his playwright husband Rick Elice, whom Roger married in 2011.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, what with Clangers being back on yer telly-box, dear blog reader, this is probably a highly appropriate moment to try and kick-start The Soup Dragons revival. Whaddya think?

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