Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Future Has Been Cancelled

Hidden away in an obscure paragraph of the BBC Worldwide Annual Review, published earlier this week, was something which many people may have missed, the first official confirmation of the commissioning of Doctor Who series ten. Not that there was ever any doubt it would not be commissioned but, it's always nice to have written confirmation of these things. Ideally, in triplicate. In the blood of the DG's children. This is particularly as many Doctor Who fans often appear to resemble rescue dogs in so much as because they perceive they've been badly treated in the past, they tend to see the entire BBC as part of a vast conspiracy constantly looking for an excuse to do away with their favourite show. Anyway, on page thirty two of the report, detailing with Corporate governance the text reads: 'During the year matters under review included plans to launch the global genre brands BBC First in Australia and New Zealand on Foxtel and BBC Brit and BBC Earth in Poland; and investments in The Musketeers series three and Doctor Who series ten. Additionally, during the year WEx reviewed people policies and development opportunities across the company.'
Doctor Who featured prominently in the annual review. Lord Hall, the Director General of the BBC and the Chairman of BBC Worldwide, the Corporations commercial arm, singled out Doctor Who as one of the 'success stories' for BBC Worldwide, which allows audiences in the UK to enjoy investment in programmes at a higher level than the licence fee alone can provide. Series eight of Doctor Who, which was seen in the UK by an average consolidated audience of 7.4 million punters per episode (excluding iPlayer viewers), has now been broadcast in over seventy other countries and achieved record ratings on BBC America and on the Space channel in Canada. Doctor Who is one of the BBC's best selling brands, along with Top Gear, Sherlock and Wolf Hall and series eight has been licensed to one hundred and eighty nine territories in the last year. One stand-out achievement listed in the report is Doctor Who: The World Tour which took place last summer. 'Building on the success of the fiftieth anniversary we embarked on a twelve-day global promotional tour for series eight. We visited South Korea, Australia, USA, Mexico and Brazil introducing the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and companion Clara, Jenna Coleman, to international fans,' Hall noted. This was a first for a British TV series and featured a creative social media programme with activity on Facebook generating one hundred and thirty million hits and more than two million video views across Facebook and YouTube. The report highlights new licensing deals for core BBC brands including a Doctor Who partnership with LEGO® which brought further mucho-lov-er-lee wonga into the Beeb's rapidly dwindling coffers. The report highlights that the launch of series eight on BBC America delivered the show's highest ratings to date for the channel, up 19.7 per cent versus previous series, with an average of 2.2 million viewers each week. Meanwhile licensing sales on the title returned year-on-year growth in North America. Doctor Who remains the number one TV brand on Tumblr and ranks among Twitter's top five most-tweeted about original dramas.
A new exhibition has opened in London featuring stars from Doctor Who supporting the Greenpeace Save the Arctic campaign. Yer actual Peter Capaldi, David Tennant his very self, John Hurt and Jenna Coleman are just some of the sixty celebrities captured by award-winning photographer Andy Gotts in his Save the Arctic public photography exhibition. The exhibition features a collection of actors and other assorted industry figures all wearing a Vivienne Westwood's Save the Arctic t-shirt. It is situated in London Underground's Waterloo Station where it takes over of the entire advertising space along escalators running up to the London HQ of the oil company Shell, which is due to start drilling in the Arctic this month and which Greenpeace is campaigning against. Yer actual Peter Capaldi talked about why he supported the campaign: 'We know this planet is a fragile one. Yet we stand and watch as the Arctic shrinks. We watch the home of Polar bears and whales and walruses disappear before our eyes. The time has come to stop watching. We must act.' John Hurt added: 'The Arctic is one of the last great pristine ecosystems, a safe haven for endangered species and home to Indigenous Peoples whose lifestyle has survived in harmony with nature for thousands of years. This is now all under threat. It’s time to act.' Greenpeace UK's Executive Director John Sauven said: 'Behind the sixty famous faces in this collection, there are millions more rising up to demand Arctic protection. The global movement to defend the Arctic is snowballing – with seven million people already calling for its protection. 'The exhibition runs in the Waterloo Underground station, York Road exit, until Sunday 26 July.
Rookies was the most-watched programme outside of soaps on Monday according to overnight figures. ITV's new police documentary was watched by 3.20m at 9pm. Earlier, Vet School continued with 2.30m at 8pm. On BBC1, How Safe Is Your House? was watched by 2.83m at 7.30pm, before NHS: The Perfect Storm gathered 2.20m at 8.30pm and a Mrs Brown's Boys repeat had 2.78m at 9pm. BBC2's Antiques Road Trip interested a million viewers at 7pm, while the return of University Challenge attracted 2.41m at 8pm. Its cerebral companion-piece Only Connect was seen by 2.02m at 8.30pm and Laurence Llewelyn Bowen: Cracking China averaged 1.31m at 9pm. Hair followed with seven hundred and twenty thousand at 10pm. How To Get A Council House brought in 1.60m for Channel Four at 9pm, while Inside The Ku Klux Klan had an audience of 1.74m at 10pm. On Channel Five, Big Brother continued to try the patience of anybody with half-a-brain in their skulls with 1.12m at 9pm, while Under The Dome was watched by four hundred and ninety one thousand punters at 10pm. The latest episode of True Detective brought in one hundred and twelve thousand for Sky Atlantic at 9pm.

A repeat of the last series of Death In Paradise was a ratings winner for BBC1 on Tuesday, according to overnight data. The popular Caribbean drama continued with 3.30m at 9pm, while Imagine ... was seen by nine hundred and forty thousand at 10.45pm. On BBC2, Antiques Road Trip brought in 1.02m at 7pm, before The House That One Hundred Thousand Pound Built averaged 1.63m at 8pm and Great Ormond Street interested 1.44m at 9pm. Hair was watched by six hundred and twenty thousand at 10pm. ITV's Virgin Atlantic: Up In The Air drew an audience of 2.66m for its second episode at 9pm. Earlier, A Great Welsh Adventure With Griff Rhys Jones appealed to 1.83m at 7.30pm, while Love Your Garden followed with 2.60m at 8pm. Channel Four's Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners was seen by 1.12m at 8pm, before Child Genius was watched by 1.24m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Big Brother blah, blah 1.07m blah blah at 10pm. Blah. Empire attracted three hundred and eighty seven thousand for its season finale at 9pm on E4.

Love Island's overnight audience, depressingly, rose to a series high for its live final on Wednesday. The last episode of the crass, banal reality series pulled in six hundred and eighty four thousand punters at 9pm on ITV2. The ITV documentary One Hundred Year Old Drivers Ride Again was the most watched overnight programme of the evening outside of the soaps, with 3.40m watching at 8pm. Secret Life Of Twins followed with 2.25m at 9pm. On BBC1, Don't Tell The Bride entertained 2.54m at 8pm, whilst flop drama The Interceptor continued with 2.23m at 9pm. BBC2's Trust Me, I'm A Doctor appealed to 2.03m at 8pm, before Britain's Forgotten Slave Owners interested 1.56m at 9pm and a Qi repeat had an audience of nine hundred and eighty thousand at 10pm. Newsnight followed with six hundred and ninety thousand at 10.30pm. The much-trailed The Autistic Gardener brought in eight hundred and seventy thousand for Channel Four at 8pm, while Twenty Four Hours In A&E averaged 2.15m at 9pm. Channel Five's Sick Note Skivers Exposed drew 1.09m at 8pm, before Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords was watched by 1.37m at 9pm. The penultimate night of Big Brother brought in 1.10m at 10pm. Sky1's Strike Back: Legacy continued with two hundred and three thousand at 9pm.

Big Brother's overnight audience rose marginally for its live final on Thursday. Chloe Wilburn's triumph was watched by 1.22m on Channel Five at 9pm. The figure for the live final is down almost half-a-million viewers from the 1.70m who tuned-in to May's live launch show. Meanwhile, Celebrity MasterChef continued to dominate Thursday's overnights with 4.05m for its latest episode on BBC1 at 9pm, after DIY SOS: The Big Build averaged 3.68m at 8pm. Later, Motorway Cops was watched by 2.17m at 10.45pm. On BBC2, Ireland's Wild River: The Mighty Shannon interested 1.21m at 8pm, before Coast attracted 1.61m at 9pm and Mock The Week had an audience of 1.48m. ITV's Tonight was watched by 2.36m at 7.30pm, while Superhospital continued with 2.25m at 9pm. Grand Designs appealed to nine hundred and twenty thousand on Channel Four at 8pm, while Married At First Sight had 1.76m at 9pm. On Sky Living Madam Secretary was seen by one hundred and seventy one thousand at 9pm.

Celebrity Masterchef's latest episode peaked with 4.63 million overnight viewers on BBC1 on Friday evening. As the series closes in on the final, the z-list cooking competition drew an average audience of 4.06 million between 8.30 and 10pm. BBC1's evening kicked off with 2.86 million for The ONE Show at 7pm, followed by 2.37 million for A Question Of Sport. Room 101 drew 2.16 million at 10.35pm, followed by 1.11 million for the movie Pretty Woman at 11.15pm. On BBC2, The First Night Of The Proms played to eight hundred thousand viewers at 8pm, while The Perfect Morecambe & Wise followed with six hundred and forty thousand immediately afterwaeds. With 2.53 million viewers, Gino's Italian Escape: A Taste Of The Sun was ITV's highest-rated show outside of soaps at 8pm, followed by 2.17 million for Doc Martin at 9pm. On Channel Four, Location, Location, Location was seen by nine hundred and seventy thousand at 8pm, Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown was watched by 1.25 million at 9pm, while The Last Leg continued with 1.13 million at 10pm. Twenty Moments That Rocked Talent Shows attempted to fill the void left by a lack of Big Brother on Channel Five and was seen by an average audience of eight hundred and five thousand sad, crushed victims of society at 9pm. It was followed by three hundred and ninety five thousand for Lip Sync Battle: The Rock Vs Jimmy Fallon at 10.30pm. No, me neither. BBC Four's Rock 'N' Roll America was among the highest-rated multichannel shows, attracting nine hundred and thirty one thousand viewers at 9pm.

Worhtless fiasco Prized Apart remained steady in the overnight ratings with 2.6 million viewers on Saturday night. The BBC1 flop averaged 2.59m from 7pm, before The National Lottery: Who Dares Wins was watched by 3.34m. The latest episode of Casualty rose to 4.15m from 8.55pm and The John Bishop Show appealed to 3.1m afterwards. Christ only knows why. On BBC2, a Dad's Army repeat entertained 1.48m from 8.45pm. Documentary film Melvyn Bragg: Wigton To Westminster averaged 1.15m between 9.15pm and 10.30pm. ITV showed Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 from 7pm, which was seen by by 2.76m. Later, live boxing between Carl Frampton and Alejandro Gonzalez Junior drew an ovenright audience of 1.6m. On Channel Four, the movie The Watch starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn had an audience of by 1.05m from 9pm. On Channel Five, Transporter: The Series attracted four hundred and thirty six thousand in the 9pm hour and the Denzel Washington thriller The Siege took four hundred and fifty nine thousand an hour later.

Period drama The Outcast concluded with 3.63m overnight viewers at 9pm on Sunday, after Countryfile topped the ratings with 5.17m at 7pm and Fake or Fortune? averaged 4.24m at 8pm. On BBC2, the new series of Dragon's Den continued with 2.42m at 8pm, whilst the latest episode of Odyssey brought in 1.02m at 9pm. ITV's Catchphrase wrapped up its current series to the broad disinterest of 2.66m punters at 7.15pm, before Surprise Surprise gathered 2.77m at 8pm and Joanna Lumley's Trans-Siberian Adventure attracted an audience of 3.50m at 9pm. The Channel Four documentary London's Lost Graveyard: The Crossrail Discovery was watched by 1.85m at 8pm, while the latest episode of Humans dipped once again to 2.12m at 9pm. Channel Five's Police Interceptors: Unleashed drew five hundred and eleven thousand viewers at 8pm and the four hundred and eighteenth terrestrial showing of the movie Red Dawn entertained eight hundred and fifty five thousand at 9pm .

And, so to the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty One programmes, week-ending Sunday 12 July 2015:-
1 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 7.62m
2 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.12m
3 The Syndicate - Tues BBC1 - 6.65m
4 Wimbledon - Sun BBC1 - 6.50m
5 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.31m
6 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 5.98m
7 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.30m
8 Fake Or Fortune? - Sun BBC1 - 5.21m
9 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.16m
10 The Outcast - Sun BBC1 - 5.12m
11 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.05m
12 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.92m
13 Celebrity MasterChef - Thurs BBC1 - 4.42m
14 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.33m
15 David Attenborough Meets President Obama - Sun BBc1 - 4.11m
16 The Met: Policing London - Mon BBC1 - 4.01m
17 Joanna Lumley's Trans-Siberian Adventure - Sun ITV - 3.91m*
18= Humans - Sun C4 - 3.95m
18= The National Lottery: Who Dares Win - Sat BBC1 - 3.85m
20 Long Lost Family - Wed ITV - 3.61m*
21 The ONE Show -Tues BBC1 - 3.54m
These figures, as usual, do not include iPlayer or ITV Player viewers. ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. No figures were available for BBC2 for the week. Aside from Humans, Channel Four's top-rated shows were Twenty Four Hours In A&E (2.18m) and Married At First Sight (2.13m). Channel Five's highest-rated broadcasts were Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords (1.44m) and Big Brother (1.43m). ITV3's Midsomer Murders was the highest rated multi-channels programme of the week (1.01m). Onthe same channel, Lewis drew five hundred and eighty thousand. BBC4's weekly list was topped by Catching History's Criminals (six hundred and nineteen thousand) and Legends Of The Deep: Giant Squid (seven hundred and fifty seven thousand), followed by Scotland's War At Sea (six hundred and sixteen thousand), Lost Cities Of The Ancients (five hundred and twenty one thousand) and The Grammer School: A Secret History (four hundred and fifty five thousand). BBC3's top-ten included seven episodes of Family Guy (nine hundred and thirty seven thousand). 5USA's NCIS: Los Angeles attracted four hundred and thirteen thousand whilst Chicago PD was watched by three hundred and ninety two thousand. Penny Dreadful (five hundred and forty four thousand), The Affair (four hundred and thirty three thousand) and the third episode of True Detective's second series (three hundred and fifty two thousand) were Sky Atlantic's weekly list-toppers. Sky Living's most-watched programmes were Madam Secretary (four hundred and eleven thousand viewers) and Unforgettable (three hundred and seventy six thousand). The latest episode of Hannibal had two hundred and forty four thousand viewers. On Dave, Red Bull Soapbox Race was the channel's highest-rated programme of the week - six hundred and eight thousand - followed by Top Gear (five hundred and fifteen thousand). Watch's Beauty & The Beast had an audience of one hundred and four thousand. With the last series of NCIS having ended a couple of weeks ago, FOX's highest-rated shows were the - excellent - debut episode of Marvel's Agent Carter (four hundred and sixty three thousand), Wayward Pines (two hundred and seventy thousand) and Falling Skies (two hundred and thirty one thousand). NCIS did top CBS Action's weekly list (one hundred and forty two thousand). The Universal Channel's Rookie Blue had one hundred and seventy four thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Deadliest Catch was watched by one hundred and ninety seven thousand viewers and the much-trailed Idris Elba: No Limits by one hundred and twenty two thousand. Discovery History's Ultimate Warfare had an audience of twenty four thousand viewers, as did both Time Team and Egypt Unwrapped. On Discovery Turbo, Wheeler Dealers drew fifty thousand. CI's Killers Behind the Myth brought in fifty two thousand. ID's Redrum was watched by fifty three thousand whilst Southern Fried Homicide attracted forty two thousand. National Geographic's Mission Pluto had fifty eight thousand viewers. GOLD's The Interviews attracted two hundred thousand punters. Sky Sports 2's coverage of The Ashes on the fourth and final day of the first test had an average audience of four hundred and seventy five thousand. ITV4's Tour De France Highlights was the channel's most-watched programme of the week with seven hundred and two thousand. On ITV Encore, Jordskott was seen by one hundred and two thousand.
Doctor Who and Sherlock showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat was one of a number of Hollywood stars and TV professionals to write to the British Prime Minister in defence of the BBC earlier in the week. The Corporation is currently the subject of a -completely agenda-soaked - review of its scope and purpose in the period leading up to its charter renewal in 2016. The new Tory government has many Members who - for a variety of reasons, most of them entirely agenda-based - think that the BBC does too much and should reduce in size, concentrating on 'public service output' (whatever that actually means) and ceasing to supply 'popular entertainment'. Of course, many - including this blogger - would argue that 'public service broadcasting' involves making TV shows that the public enjoys, and which satisfy the Reithian BBC's remit of the last ninety years of informing, educating and entertaining. It's curious how many people who talk about 'public service broadcasting' (which, for many of those outside the industry seems to equate to 'stuff I want to watch that no one else does' and, to many of those within the industry as 'stuff I make') seem to completely forget about 'to entertain' as being a, major, part of the Beeb's public service remit. Castrating the BBC's knackers with a rusty Stanley knife until it goes cross-eyed and screams for mercy is also a dream held by many of the BBC's commercial rivals - who, obviously, don't have a vested interest in the matter. Oh no, very hot water - and, by most of the British scum media (both left- and right-wing). Last week the Corporation was told to take on the cost of supplying free TV Licences to those over seventy fives, a move which will cost it even at the most conservative of estimates, over five hundred million quid and mean that's five hundred million quid they could be spending on making programmes which they, now, won't be. The government has appointed a panel of eight people - most of whom you'll never have heard of - to work on the renewal of the BBC's royal charter, many of whom have previously called for the licence fee to be cut and to consider charging for website output (see below). The Director General, Lord Hall on Tuesday defended the BBC saying the government must not meddle with the BBC's independence and, even more specifically, its creative output and that it is one of this country's most precious assets. The letter to the PM, which was also signed by many stars of stage and screen including David Attenborough, Brian Cox, Richard Curtis, Judi Dench, JK Rowling, David Walliams, Miranda Hart, Michael McIntyre, Stephen Fry, Michael Palin, Lord Bragg, Adil Ray, Jamie Oliver and Daniel Craig, is a statement of support for the Corporation and for its long term future. 'We have seen that the Government has pledged to modernise the licence fee, return funding that had been diverted to pay for broadband roll-out, and increase the licence fee in line with inflation in return for the BBC taking on the costs of Licence Fees for the over seventy five's. The Government and the BBC are now entering the Charter Review. We are writing to place on record at the very start of the process our concern that nothing should be done to diminish the BBC or turn it into a narrowly focused market-failure broadcaster. In our view, a diminished BBC would simply mean a diminished Britain. The BBC is a very precious institution. Like all organisations, it has its faults but it is overwhelmingly a creative force for good. Britain's creative economy is growing and enjoying unprecedented success. The BBC is at the heart of this as the global showcase for our creative industries. The BBC is trusted and loved at home by British audiences and is the envy of the world abroad. During the course of the Charter, we will continue to make the case for a strong BBC at the centre of British life and will be vocal in making the case for the BBC as it approaches its centenary.' The full text of the letter, delivered to Downing Street on Tuesday, can be read on the Daily Torygraph's website. In which they manage to mis-spell Moffat's surname. Ah, British journalism. Don't you just love it?
Michael Palin - one of entertainment figures involved in the letter - was speaking on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on the day that the letter's contents were made public. The author and broadcaster said that he had put his name to the document after receiving a phone call from Danny Cohen, the BBC's director of television. Explaining his motives, he said: 'The BBC is enormously admired and respected around the world. It's a great ambassador for Britain. Why reduce that? I really don't see the reason why that should be chipped away at. I think it works very well.' Citing programmes like The Office, which went from cult show to global phenomenon, Palin said the BBC offered 'opportunities to experiment' that commercial broadcasters might avoid. 'It has provided me with opportunities which I just don't think I would have got anywhere else,' the seventy two-year-old added.
Tony Hall has stood up for the corporation's output over claims that it moved away from its public service remit. Well, it's about sodding time that someone at the BBC showed a bit of bastard backbone in dealing with the shitscum that want to bowelderise the BBC. Hall said that the BBC had a duty to inform, educate and entertain when launching its annual report on Tuesday. Arriving two days before the government published its green paper on the BBC's future, the report explained how ninety seven per cent of UK adults used BBC services. Lord Hall said: 'I believe the BBC should continue to make programmes for everyone. A BBC that doesn't inform, educate and entertain is not the BBC the public know and love. The great majority are happy to pay the licence fee. The BBC belongs to this country. The public are our shareholders.' Hall mentioned dramas such as Wolf Hall, The Missing and Poldark as examples of recent BBC successes. Government must not meddle in the BBC’s creative output or prevent it from finding 'the next Strictly, the next Bake Off or the next Top Gear', he said: 'After all, the last time politicians tried to be creative, we ended up with The Millennium Dome.' The debate over the direction of the BBC 'is shaping up to be a clash between two different views of the future, because there is an alternative view that prefers a much-diminished BBC,' he told an audience at the launch of the corporation's annual report. 'Some want a much diminished BBC. I don't support this view and neither does the public.' In an angry response to a question about those who wish to see a smaller BBC, Lord Hall said that he refused to be 'dominated by commercial interests. Why is it when you leave this country everyone is saying to you, as people who live here but are not from here say, "You have got something that's really precious, don't wreck it?" We've got a broadcast ecology that works. The danger is that by narrowly trying to focus the BBC down, you lose something from that broadcast ecology. And the people who will lose are not the commercial interests and people with particular vested interests – it's the people who pay for us, the people who love us. The debate is too often in terms of this interest or that interest, not in terms of the people who are, in the end, our shareholders.' He added: 'The BBC does not belong to its staff. The BBC does not belong to the government. The BBC belongs to the country.'

The lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale subsequently announced a fundamental 'root and branch' review of the size of the BBC, what it does and the way it is funded and questioned whether the corporation should continue to strive to be 'all things to all people.' Unveiling the government’s Green Paper on the future of the BBC on Thursday, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale claimed that he wanted the corporation to 'thrive.' One or two people even believed him. One or two. He said that the scale and scope of the BBC had 'grown exponentially' in the last decade - which, presumably, means it's one of the few things in this country that's a success. So, what's the bloody problem? - and said the time was right to question 'whether this particular range of services best serves licence fee payers.' In an oral statement to Parliament, he said: 'The British Broadcasting Corporation is cherished and admired not only in this country but around the world. At its best, the BBC sets international standards of quality.' Citing the 2012 Olympics, and the international success of Sherlock and Doctor Who (so, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat's job is probably safe for a while yet, unlike many Beeb's employees), he added that the BBC's 'most popular programmes continue to draw the country together in a shared experience.' The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale quashed rumours - spread in screamed headlines by several Tory-supporting newspapers - that he wanted to scrap crowd-pleasing shows like Strictly Come Dancing, but stressed that the BBC should remain 'distinctive.' A passage in the Green Paper expanded on the issue, asking whether the BBC was 'setting itself apart' from its commercial rivals. 'This does not mean that the BBC should not be entertaining; it is about the BBC providing distinctive programming across all genre types,' it said. 'For example, the BBC acquired the format for The Voice. This was a singing talent show developed overseas, bought by the BBC at a reported cost of around twenty million pounds and similar to ITV's X Factor. This is in contrast to Strictly Come Dancing which was developed by the BBC in-house and then sold abroad. Similarly, questions have been raised about whether content carried on the BBC's website is sufficiently distinctive from content that can and is being developed and delivered by others.' The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said an 'independent' report into decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee – which the BBC has said would cost it two hundred million smackers – had concluded it would not be appropriate under the current funding model. On the BBC's funding, he said there was 'no easy solution' to how the BBC should be funded but described the current licence fee model as 'regressive.' He said subscription 'may be an option' in the longer term, outlining three immediate options: a reformed licence fee, a household levy, or a hybrid funding model. The green paper will look at four key areas: the overall purpose of the BBC; what services and content it should provide; how the BBC should be funded and how it should be governed and regulated. 'One key task is to assess whether the idea of universality still holds water. With so much more choice, we must at least question whether the BBC should try to be all things to all people,' said the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale. With the BBC Trust widely expected to be axed, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said that the BBC's governance would be 'reviewed' after the BBC had, on occasions, 'fallen well short of the standards expected of it' including the Savile fiasco, the one hundred million knicker Digital Media Initiative malarkey and the multimillion-pound payouts to former staff. He said that there were 'concerns' - at ITV, among his own backbenchers and in the Daily Scum Mail newsroom, if not anyone that actually matters - about how the BBC’s activities 'impacted on its commercial rivals' and there were 'particular challenges' around how the corporation reached ethnic minorities and younger people. Because, of course, the Tories are such big fans of both, are they not? In response, the BBC said that the government's Green Paper would 'appear to herald a much diminished, less popular BBC' which, it said, would be 'bad for Britain' and 'not the BBC that the public has known and loved for over ninety years.' It said Tony Hall would set out the BBC's own proposals in two months time. The corporation said in a statement: 'The BBC is a creative and economic powerhouse for Britain. The starting point for any debate should be - how can a strong BBC benefit Britain even more at home and abroad? The BBC has embraced change in the past and will continue to do so in the future, and we will set out our own proposals in September. The BBC says the public should decide whether it makes shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and The Voice rather than politicians. As the Director General said on Tuesday, the BBC is not owned by its staff or by politicians, it is owned by the public. They are our shareholders. They pay the licence fee. Their voice should be heard the loudest.' The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said The Perry Report into the possible decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee had 'raised a number of quite serious problems which would need to be addressed if we went down that road.' He said the issue, which had received cross-party support before the general erection, would now be looked at as part of the charter review process. 'I understand there are strong feelings right across the house,' he told MPs. 'Having said that The Perry Report does raise some very real challenges that would need to be overcome.' The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said that he would 'not compromise' the corporation's independence - although, by telling them that they should not be making The Voice some would argue he already has - but said that it was right a public body that spent thirty billion notes of licence fee payers' money in its last charter period should be 'fully accountable to the public.' He unveiled the Green Paper ten days after the government announced the BBC's latest funding deal which saw the corporation take on the seven hundred and fifty million knicker cost of free TV licences for over-seventy fives. He repeated that the BBC's inflation-linked licence fee, also announced last week, was dependent on the BBC making further efficiency savings and would be 'subject to whatever conclusions are drawn from charter review about the BBC’s scope and purposes.' Or, in other words, it's up to him whether they get it or not and he's fucking gloating about it. And, you thought the vile and odious rascal Hunt was the worst lack of culture secretary imaginable? Be careful what you wish for, dear blog reader, it might just come true.
Meanwhile, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale has, as noted above, appointed a panel of eight alleged 'experts' to work on the renewal of the BBC's royal charter - which sets out the corporation's remit; these include Dawn Airey, the former boss of Channel Five (who is, as several commentators have noted, previously on record as saying she supports the scrapping of the licence fee), journalism professor Stewart Purvis, a former editor-in-chief of ITN and Dame Colette Bowe, former chairwoman of Ofcom. And, various other politically appointed non-entities, elected by no one. Clearly, none of whom have a preconceived anti-BBC agenda, obviously. Oh no, very hot water. Whether this chap is also part of the firing squad is not, at this time, known. But, I wouldn't bet against it.
Some people might argue that, in the case of Ms Airey, putting someone who used to be in charge of Channel Five in a position of having any say in the future of the BBC is a bit like putting the kid on the hotdog stand at Epcot in charge of the Disney Corporation. The panel was heaily criticised by the Conservative peer Lord Fowler, who warned in the House of Lords on Tuesday, that the BBC was 'under unprecedented attack. I must warn those who support the BBC that we have something of a fight on our hands,' he said. 'The cards are marked and somewhat stacked against us. The advisory group advising the Secretary of State clanks with special interests and past opinions.' Speaking at the same debate, Lord Patten, a former chairman of the BBC Trust, called the government's advisory panel 'a team of assistant gravediggers' who would help the lack of culture secretary 'bury the BBC that we love.' Lord Birt, who was Director General for eight years until 2000 - not a very good one, let it be said, though that's beside the point - said that the huge range of cultural and educational content made by the BBC reached a broad audience because it was in 'a wrapper' also containing entertainment. 'If you just had the purest form of public service [broadcasting], when I was a child in Liverpool I don't expect I would have watched much of it,' he said. 'What the BBC did from 1957 was to create high-quality entertainment in this country. The Two Ronnies, Morecambe & Wise, that is the tradition we see today in Strictly.' Birt disputed the notion that the BBC should not be making mainstream entertainment such as Strictly Come Dancing or The Voice, and instead should focus on areas which other broadcasters are failing to cover. 'That's the argument against a pure market failure BBC. If you want this civilising force, that allows the most creative elements in our society to express themselves through writing and performance, you have to have a certain amount of critical mass. We will imperil that if we continue on the track we are now on of reducing the effective funding of the BBC. In five or six years we've seen a decline in UK content of about a sixth. Five years ago the government took sixteen per cent out of the BBC's budget, and people think "oh, nothing will happen." Look at the data, look at how much is spent on the channels. It is cause and effect. We've just had another raid on the BBC's finances. The sum total will take roughly twenty five per cent out of BBC funds. As night follows day, there will be reduction in the amount of original content.' Similar sentiments have been expressed by shadow lack of culture secretary Chris Bryant, who said the 'golden thread' running through the BBC was that 'it provides something for everyone.' Bryant has called his Conservative opponent the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale 'a complete and utter hypocrite' for conducting secret funding negotiations with the BBC after criticising such deals earlier this year. This blogger, personally, considers that the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale is a complete and utter something else. Saying that his Conservative opponent looked 'ashamed of himself' following last week's announcement that a funding deal had been agreed without parliamentary or public consultation, Bryant said the nature of the deal contravened the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's own report published in February. 'He signed a report earlier this year that said that the process we went through in 2010 was wrong and that public and parliament had to be involved. And that's the process that's just happened [again],' Bryant said. 'Either he's the same person he was in March in which case he should have said this is no way to treat a lady, Auntie. If he's a different person then he was a charlatan previously. The BBC is our cultural NHS. It's a beacon of accuracy and impartiality around the world. It's not just part of the national furniture, it's our greatest cultural institution. It's a miracle of constitutional engineering; independent of government, yet funded by the public. It's the corner-stone of our creative industries, earning respect and money for Britain and British values. Would it not be profoundly unpatriotic to seek to diminish the BBC and thereby diminish Britain? Has any member [of Parliament] ever met a foreigner who said: "You know what, I love Britain - I just hate the BBC? Of course they haven't.' No, indeed, usually it's the other way around. Baroness Neville-Rolfe, chief government apologist for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, responded by saying 'no-one is seriously proposing the BBC's abolition.' However, she warned, 'one particular area of contention' was the 'extent to which the BBC manages to meet its impartiality obligations, and how best this should be achieved and regulated.' So, again, no very obvious, and sick, agenda going down there, then. Bad experience with John Humphreys on the Today show, was it, madam? 'As we near the end of the current charter, we are also presented with the opportunity, through the charter review, to consider in full the BBC's activities, its appropriate scale and scope, and how it should deliver.' Diane Coyle, a former deputy chair of the BBC Trust, said the government was in danger of 'dismantling the BBC's civic value and destroying its economic value, which makes it even more important to involve the British public, especially as they haven't had a chance before' to become involved. She added: 'People do care about programmes. If Whittingdale is going to have a narrowly focused BBC is it no to EastEnders and soaps but [BBC1 Peter Moffat drama] The Village is okay? And who is going to choose?' The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale subsequently denied that he wanted the BBC to axe Strictly Come Dancing. 'Even if I wanted to close down Strictly Come Dancing, which I don't, it would be completely wrong for the government to try and decide which programmes the BBC should make and which they shouldn’t,' he said. And yet, again, the Green Paper includes specific criticism of The Voice. Explain that, matey? 'The charter review is not about specific programmes, however much certain newspaper writers would like to think it is,' he claimed. Alleged BBC 'sources' called the Green Paper 'depressing' because its research focused on market impact – and therefore the concerns of commercial rivals - rather than public support and concerns the Gruniad had claimed. With nineteen different questions in the government document, there were few firm policy positions but the examples and tone were 'far more negative than positive' one alleged BBC 'insider' alleged said. The Gruniad claim that he or she noted that the data used was about 'size rather than quality, reach or audience appreciation.'
Chris Bryant, meanwhile, has called for an official inquiry into whether the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale or his department leaked details of the BBC green paper to newspapers ahead of Thursday's parliamentary launch. Citing the number of stories appearing in The Sunday Times and the Daily Scum Mail over the past two weeks, the Labour MP said: 'John's either asleep at the wheel of his department or he's broken the ministerial code and has to go – parliament and the public deserve to know which it is.' The ministerial code dictates that important announcements of government policy are first announced in parliament if it is sitting. The Sunday Times first splashed on details of the government's plans to transfer the over-seventy fives TV licence cost to the BBC and then the details of the green paper last Sunday. The Daily Scum Mail reported that The Perry Review released alongside the green paper also recommended that non-payment of the licence fee remain a criminal offence. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale denied the accusations, telling the Gruniad Morning Star: 'Half of what was written was complete fiction.' Which very much suggests that half was not. In the House of Commons, he compared the stories to 'Booker prize nominations.' The only thing released ahead of Thursday's green paper was the make-up of his advisory committee, published on Sunday at the same time as it appeared in The Sunday Times. The last time a minister or special adviser was accused of leaking official business to the newspapers, Fiona Cunningham, who worked for Home Secretary Theresa May, resigned after briefing the press against May's cabinet colleague the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove. In a tweet on Thursday, Tim Shipman, the political editor of The Sunday Times, wrote sneeringly: 'Whittingdale appears to have confirmed every single fact in my BBC splash on Sunday. Yet he's slagging it off. Brave under the circumstances.' The tweet was subsequently deleted with no explanation as to why. Curious, one could suggest.
The Gruniad Morning Star - a newspaper which more than just about any other has spent much of its time over the last few years whinging like a baby about the BBC (particularly Top Gear) - all of a sudden seem to want to be Auntie's bestest friend in all the land judging by this leader. What a bunch of hypocritical Middle Class hippy Communist twats. At least the Daily Scum Mail - whose sickening cumming in their own pants at the thought of an axe being taken to their hated bete noire was utterly predictable - are consistent in their odious, rancid views. Although, even the Scum Mail seem to have been surprised by the viciousness of the government's attacks on the BBC, describing a 'growing disquiet' amongst 'senior Conservatives' at a potential 'voter backlash' against them and quoting one - anonymous - cabinet minister as saying: 'we don't want to get ahead of ourselves with these attacks. People like telly more than they like the Tories.' Listen mate, people like syphilis more than they like the Tories. The Gruniad even gave space to Lenny Henry - last funny, briefly, in 1983 - to say why he thought the BBC should be saved. Which essentially boiled down to 'no BBC, no me.' Hmm ... it's tempting. We'd lose lots of good stuff but we'd be rid of Lenny Henry for good. No sorry, on reflection, this blogger will even put up with Len for the sake of thirteen new Doctor Who episodes per year.
The veteran political broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby has attacked the commercial enemies of the BBC for setting out to destroy it, and has urged audiences to rise up to defend the corporation. 'Even people within the BBC [who are] now beginning to stand up for it, fail to identify those vested interests. The Murdoch press is an enemy of the BBC for commercial reasons,' said Dimbleby. Making an unexpected intervention at a recording of Radio 4's long-running current affairs comment show, Any Questions?, Dimbles The Younger said the corporation's opponents 'have to be taken on by the BBC and by those viewers and listeners who own the BBC.' He added: 'Go around the world, listen to what people say about the BBC, they think it's astonishing we are having to think about whether or not it should survive.' Dimbleby's comments were not broadcast and are not included in the iPlayer version of the programme. His impassioned outburst was made over his radio microphone at the end of the recording in Leamington Spa, in response to a question from panellist and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna and it came as the BBC Trust prepares to step up its information campaign. The Observer claims that the Trust, which is expected to be disbanded or re-purposed next year, plans to 'go out fighting.' Next week it will announce a series of national events and audience surveys in an attempt to present government with evidence of the strength of public feeling. A Trust official said that Trustees were about to launch 'the biggest ever version' of the research and public consultation work they regularly carry out. 'There will be more intensive work than we have ever done in a single period and larger-scale research likely to reach more than one hundred thousand people,' he said. The Trust was 'determined to broaden the debate' and prevent a focus on perceived failings of the corporation. An alleged 'source' allegedly 'close to the top' of the BBC also claimed that, far from being cowed by criticism. the BBC executive, led by Director General Lord Hall, was also determined to make the tone of the debate 'more combative, not less.' Dimbleby's sentiments were echoed this weekend by Frank Cottrell Boyce, the writer behind the most popular recent display of British cultural values, the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London. 'The UK enjoys a level of influence and soft power well beyond its economic or military weight. This is due almost entirely to the BBC,' Boyce told the Observer. 'It speaks for the nation, in a way that HBO or Warner Brothers could never dream of speaking for America. And, when the BBC speaks, what does it say? It says Doctor Who, Top Gear, In Our Time, Today, Strictly, Poldark, Cash In The Attic, Horizon, David Attenborough, Graham Norton, which translates as: "here is a nation that is at ease with itself – innovative, creative, fun, serious, able to question itself and celebrate itself, diverse, eccentric and beautiful."' Boyce also argued that the 'range of tones and ideas' embodied by the BBC formed 'a sense of national identity' and provided 'the varied voice' that politicians often claim Britain needs to defeat extreme ideologies and terrorism. 'We are always hearing we need a "counter-narrative" to the threats that surround us,' he writes. 'Where would that narrative come from, how would it be projected, if not by us as a nation, through our mouthpiece, the BBC?' Piv Bernth, the producer of hit Danish thriller The Killing who now runs drama at the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, this weekend backed Dimbleby's suggestion that the BBC was worth battling over: 'As a public service colleague from Denmark, I'm sure this kind of TV and radio is vital to a modern democracy. There must be one place in the media where the influence of private interests and stockholders is as little as possible.' The decision to run The Killing on BBC4 was important, she added, not only for Danish drama but for international relations. 'It took a lot of courage to broadcast a series with subtitles but that's what a public broadcaster can do, be courageous and take chances. BBC4 started a new wave and now it's less extraordinary. It widens our understanding of other people and their ways of living.'

There is so much more that could be said about this subject, dear blog reader, but frankly, this blogger is happy to let his own previously stated views on the Corporation stand: The BBC is a British institution and national treasure. It is also - much more importantly - a World Class broadcaster with a global reputation for journalistic honesty, integrity, balance, innovation, creativity and quality in its programme making. Ironically the only places in the world where it isn't highly regarded are in knobcheese fascist dictatorships like Iran and China where its broadcasts are banned for fear that it might tell the people of these countries what is actually going on in the world and in its own backyard where scum politicians and lice newspapers with a - sick - agenda use it as their own personal punch-bag. This is wrong. The BBC is better than the government. It is better than the Daily Scum Mail and the Gruinad and the Torygraph and all the rest of the wretched phlegm and it's about effing time it damn well stood up for itself, showed a bit of backbone and started, aggressively, taking on those who would do it down. This blogger supports the BBC and believes that it is high time the people of this country - to whom, after all, the BBC belongs - also stand up for themselves and remind such crass, ignorant bullies that the BBC is better than all of them put together. Here, dear blog reader, endeth the lesson.
Except to say that the government has started a public consultation on the future of the BBC. Details here. This blogger urges all dear blog reader with an interest in where the BBC goes from here to make your opinions heard. As loudly as you feel is appropriate. Whether the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale and his grubby panel of ugly self-interest 'experts' take any notice is a different matter, of course, but if one never tries, one never achieves anything. Like the man once said, if we all spit together we'll drown the bastards.
Unlike the Gruniad, the Indi seem to have had other aspects of government policy on their mind this week.
Graham Norton has come up with an interesting suggestion of a way of dealing with government criticism of the BBC and calls for the licence fee to be axed. When asked about the ongoing debate about the future of the corporation, the presenter proposed switching the service off for a couple of months to see how the public react. 'Just put twenty four pounds into everyone's bank account and switch the BBC off for two months, and people would shit themselves,' he told the Daily Torygraph. When asked if he had suggested this idea to Director General, Graham said: 'Of course I have! In a letter. I'm not sure if I should tell you this, but the BBC did do a thing. They wanted to know what the public appetite was for the licence fee, so they did a deprivations test. They got a mixture of people - those who were happy paying the licence fee, those who didn't want to pay it, those who thought it was too high. And they took their services away for two weeks. Just two weeks. No Internet, no radio, no TV. And at the end of it, everyone was happy to pay for the licence fee.' However, he admitted that some people - with an agenda - will find it hard to accept anything he says about the BBC, as he earns a more than decent salary from the Corporation. 'It's hard for me, because I should be able to be very vocal in my defence of the BBC, and kind of go, "Let's treasure this thing. Let's not have it dismantled." But of course, everyone goes, "Well you would say that, wouldn't you?" But having spent time in other countries, I see that the BBC is amazing. That it is incredible. It's just that my voice has no weight in that debate.' He added: 'It's a really perilous time for the BBC. The trouble is that every government hates the BBC. The BBC will criticise the government and so there is that slight, "Well, if you're not with us, you must be against it." [The BBC] is one of those things people will not understand until it's gone. And then they'll be going, "Oh, telly's a bit shit. This is a weird period drama - there's only two people in it and no cars." I do read comments under pieces about Chris Evans doing Top Gear or me doing whatever, and they often say, "I'm going to stop paying my licence fee, blah blah blah." And I think, alright, but you do know that Top Gear subsidises the BBC to this enormous extent? Just think about the things that you do like. Like Radio 4, or CBeebies.' Of course, it's worth noting - as this blog has in the past - that there are people within the BBC itself, in their own little fiefdoms - like local radio, for instance - who seem entirely oblivious as to just how much Top Gear contributed to the BBC - effectively paying for their job. This blogger did, briefly, wonder last week when the latest batch of a thousand redundancies were announced by Tony Hall, just how many of those who had sneered about the 'myth of talent' when Clarkson got the push earlier this year will be regretting that attitude given that the BBC could probably really do with the eighty to one hundred million quid Top Gear brought in annually through overseas sales right about now. And, the fact that they're likely to be signing on at the Job Centre sometime in the next few months.
And, speaking of Top Gear, it truly was the end of an era earlier this week as yer man Jezza Clarkson took his final lap around the Top Gear test track. Clarkson revealed to his Twitter followers that there would be one last go-round on the track, and even asked them to help choose the car he'd drive. The drive was a charity run in which he was joined by racing driver Marino Franchitti and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. Clarkson looked focused after taking the wheel of his chosen car, describing it as his 'Volvo face.'
Presenting Top Gear after Clarkson is 'like being the new Doctor' and 'is the most challenging thing' he has ever done, Chris Evans has said. Evans hasn't found his co-hosts for the new-look Top Gear yet - but has confirmed he is 'very close' to assembling his production team for the show. The broadcaster signed a three-year deal to produce and present the BBC2 motoring show after the much-publicised departure of Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond earlier this year. Evans told the new edition of Top Gear Magazine: 'There's a lot of talk about talent at the moment. Honestly, it's not the furthest thing away from my mind, but it is quite distant compared to directors, producers, assistant producers, lighting and camera men, editors, production managers, production coordinators and runners. I have got to get that team, because, without the team, it doesn't matter what presenters we get.' Broadcasting names including Jodie Kidd and Suzi Perry have been linked with the programme, while Evans announced earlier this year that he planned to hold open auditions to seek out the best talent for the show. Speaking about getting the team in place, Evans said: 'It's nearly in place. We're so very close. There have been thirty four presenters before me, so it's a bit like Doctor Who – that's one way of looking at it.' When asked what would stay and what will change in the new-look Top Gear, Evans replied: 'Nothing has to [stay the same], but some things will. I can't tell you what precisely. But it would be silly to throw the baby out with the bath water.' Evans previously denied that he'd take over the Top Gear presenting job. Speaking about initially saying no, Evans said: 'I honestly didn't think I'd get the phone call – I was amazed that I did, to be honest. I ruled myself out because I didn't want to be part of all the nonsense that was going on. But then the situation changed and I wasn't stepping on anybody's graves or toes.' He added: 'If I make television programmes for a living and love motor cars and love the biggest challenge in the world, why wouldn't I do it? This is, without doubt, the most challenging thing I have ever done in my career. When I took over Terry Wogan's show, people kept saying I had "big shoes to fill" and they're saying it again now. I don't mean they're wrong or they're right, it's just such a predictable thing to say – and, by the way, Jeremy is very tall, so they're even bigger shoes.'

At the grand old age of seventy, yer actual Frazer Hines has just made his pop video début. Frazer plays a Renfield-like barman in a just released vampire-themed music video for Linzi Gold's song 'Killing Kiss'. The video can be seen on YouTube. And, rather fine it is too. Linzi is the daughter of the horror author the lovely Sam Stone, who is the partner of Doctor Who writer and historian - and good mate of this blogger - David Howe. There is also a fundraiser running at the moment to fund Linzi make her debut CD.
Ever wondered, dear blog reader, what yer actual Keith Telly Topping's old mate Uncle Scunthorpe does with his time when he's not organising The Record Player? Well, tragically, it's stuff like this.
A chap must have a hobby, I suppose.

Yer actual Billy Connolly - a 'well-known Scottish comedian' - has been forced to give up playing the banjo and guitar because of Parkinson's Disease. The seventy two-year-old often travelled with his banjo but now says he can no longer play as he prepares to travel across the US by rail for a new TV series. Connolly said Parkinson's had particularly affected the use of his left hand. When he was on Desert Island Discs, Connolly chose a banjo as his luxury item and he also has a banjo tattoo on his left hand. In an interview in Canada to promote his stand-up tour, he said: 'I'm starting a documentary series in a month's time following the railways around America. I'm going to festivals and state fairs and all that. I've been longing to do it for a long time. The only trouble is that we're going to bluegrass festivals and I've got Parkinson's Disease and it's really affected my left hand and I can't play the banjo or guitar any more, but I'll join in on the singing at least. It's been a rough go between that and the cancer. I kept telling my wife that haemorrhoids couldn't be far behind.' Bill disclosed in 2013 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's and prostate cancer on the same day. He has since been given the all-clear from cancer and will travel through twenty eight states and eight thousand miles by train later this year in new ITV documentary series Billy Connolly's Tracks Across America.
The BBC has confirmed that Ripper Street will return on BBC1 on 31 July. That's if there's anything left of the BBC by that time. Reid, Drake and Jackson will continue to fight crime on Friday nights at 9pm, following the series' release on Amazon Prime Instant Video in November last year. Ripper Street became the most-watched show on Amazon in the UK. Amazon has also confirmed that the drama will continue for a fourth and fifth series. It is unclear whether the forthcoming two series will be broadcast on the BBC, although - providing the BBC still exists by the time they're ready for a terrestrial broadcaster - this blogger would be surprised if they didn't. The third series sees Bennett Drake (Jerome Flynn) returning to H Division as an Inspector, Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) focusing on his books and Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) returning to the force after four years away. 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.'
ITV has ordered a one-off film about the paranormal investigator Harry Price. Set in 1920s London, the two-hour drama will delve into the life and career of the real-life ghost hunter and sceptic, who studied paranormal and supernatural claims. Harry Price: Ghost Hunter will be produced by Bentley Productions and will be broadcast on ITV in 2016. Written by Death In Paradise's Jack Lothian, it is based on the novel The Ghost Hunters by Neil Spring, and begins with Price having fallen on hard times. Resorting to work as a fake medium and ghost hunter, he conducts séances for families who believe their lives have been haunted by a ghost. However, his actions lead to a young man committing suicide on the doorstep of Price's home. He is given the chance to investigate the haunting of a local politician's home to avoid a scandal for the MP and his wife. He soon teams up with the MP's family maid, Sarah Grey, and his old friend Albert to conduct his investigations. 'It's a great thrill to be making Harry Price: Ghost Hunter for ITV,' said executive producer Jo Wright. 'Bentley Productions is developing a raft of new and exciting projects and this is one of my favourites. To be able to combine the book by Neil Spring with a script by Jack Lothian has been a delight, and we look forward to making this for our ITV audience.' Casting has yet to be announced for the project, with filming set to begin in London in September.

Cult sketch show Absolutely will be making a comeback on the radio. The team behind the 1990s comedy series will record four brand new half-hour episodes on BBC Radio 4 to be broadcast from 6 September. Gordon Kennedy, Morwenna Banks, Pete Baikie, Moray Hunter and John Sparkes will perform new material, though Jack Docherty will not be reuniting along with his former castmates. Which is a bit of a shame as he was the funniest. Several popular characters from the Channel Four sketch show will return, including Calum Gilhooley (aw, yeah!), Denzil and Gwynedd, The Little Girl and the Stoneybridge Town Council. The largely Scottish group have promised fans 'something old (us), something new (the sketches), nothing borrowed (as far as we know) and nothing blue (although some of it is quite surprisingly rude).' The team previously reunited for Radio 4's Sketchorama strand in 2013, winning them a BBC Audio Drama award. Executive producer Gus Beattie said: 'The Absolutely team did an amazing job updating their much-loved characters for the Sketchorama show, so I'm delighted to be involved in bringing a brand new series to Radio 4.' Absolutely originally ran for twenty eight episodes and four series on Channel Four between 1989 and 1993. It was Mad As Toast. This blogger was a big fan. The show came to an end following Kennedy's departure when he was appointed host of The National Lottery Show. Which, if you look up 'sad and bizarre reasons why a great TV show finished' on Google, you'll find that one close to the top of the list.
The BBC is celebrating the work of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and other Pop Art pioneers with a new week-long series of programming in August. BBC Four - if it hasn't been scrapped by then - BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and BBC 6Music will broadcast special documentaries and programmes looking back at one of the most influential art movements of the Twentieth Century. BBC Four documentary Soup Cans & Superstars: How Pop Art Changed The World will see writer and art critic Alastair Sooke take a closer look at the work of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Stephen Smith's film A Day In The Life Of Andy Warhol, A Brief History Of Graffiti and What Do Artists Do All Day? will also be shown on BBC Four over the course of the season. Pop artists Peter Blake, Derek Boshier and Peter Phillips are also creating three new channel idents for BBC Four. Content across 6Music and BBC online will also celebrate the art movement. Cassian Harrison, BBC Four's Channel Editor, said: 'Pop Art remains one of the striking and dynamic cultural movements of the Twentieth Century. It is the moment when high art and mass-production collided for the first time; reshaping our visual landscape and launching a whole new generation of art stars. BBC Four is delighted to go pop in celebration of their fabulous maverick creativity.' Wor Geet Canny Lauren Laverne added: 'The Pop Art movement was so ground-breaking and influential it went beyond art into the music, design and film of the time. In my 6Music show I'll be looking at the women of pop art, icons such as Debbie Harry and Nico, so expect a palate of brilliant tunes, special guests and enlightening discussion as my listeners and I explore this creative powerhouse.'

Ah, Wor Geet Canny Lauren Laveren ...
Sorry, dear blog reader. This blogger just had 'a moment' there. It's okay, I've had a cold shower and taken some betablockers, I'm okay now.

The latest Radio Times features an amusing cover photo of From The North favourite Doctor Lucy Worlsey promoting her forthcoming series on the history of the Women's Institute by, ahem, showing off her creamy baps. Tasteful.
Sky1 has called time on its medical series Critical. Lennie James fronted the drama as the head of a major trauma unit, tasked with treating seriously-wounded patients. Critical broadcast thirteen episodes between February and May - pulling in a consolidated series average of one hundred and ninety thousand viewers per episode - but it will not be back for a second series. 'We are really proud of the acclaim Critical received and its ground-breaking achievements in the production of TV medical drama,' Sky1 said in a statement whilst carefully avoiding noting that the ratings had been disappointing which is,presumably, the reason why it's being cancelled. 'We would like to thank Jed Mercurio, the team at Hat Trick Productions and all our cast.' The show was created by Line Of Duty writer Mercurio, with each episode unfolding in real time as Glen Boyle (James) and his team worked to save their latest patient. In May, Kimberley Nixon - who played Harry Bennett-Edwardes - told the Digital Spy website that there was 'huge hope' for a second series of Critical. But, seemingly, she was wrong. 'I'm not sure if it's coming back for a second series,' she said. 'I think there's definitely a huge hope for it. More than anything, the set cost a fortune - so there was talk of doing another series, mainly to get their money's worth, really!'
Dermot O'Dreary has been cleared by Ofcom over swearing during his live twenty four-hour danceathon earlier this year. The former X Factor host 'accidentally' swore after a friend made a surprise visit while he danced outside London's New Broadcasting House on 13 March. Broadcast live on the BBC1 Red Button, O'Dreary quickly apologised on-screen, saying: 'I'm so sorry if I swore - I swear, I didn't swear?' Ofcom ruled that while O'Dreary is an experienced broadcaster who knew the rules about profane language, he had been 'very tired' at the time of the incident, having danced for eighteen hours. The watchdog added that despite O'Dreary using 'the most offensive language', the word had not been scripted and had been used towards a friend, and thus was 'said in a tone which was amicable rather than aggressive.' The BBC also 'took all reasonable steps in a timely manner to mitigate any offence caused', including an on-screen caption stating: 'We apologise for the use of strong language.' O'Dreary raised over six hundred and forty grand for Comic Relief during his twenty four hours of dancing.
Oily full-of-his-own-importance twat Piers Morgan was dropped as a guest presenter on ITV's Good Morning Britain this week because of a conflict of interest, the broadcaster has confirmed. It is understood that the concerns were around Morgan's 'big money' deal to appear in a National Lottery advert. Morgan, who was extremely fired from CNN last year - which was funny - was due to appear on the Good Morning Britain sofa on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, but was absent. Wednesday's programme was instead presented by Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway. Morgan and Katie Price have both appeared in the National Lottery's latest advertising campaign, which depicts them winning a large amount of money and using it to fund vanity projects. But, due to strict rules on conflicts of interest, ITV bosses decided that Morgan could not appear on their expensive breakfast TV flop this week. The programme is classified as news and current affairs and must not feature presenters who are simultaneously appearing in advertising campaigns. An ITV spokesman said: 'Due to other commitments, it was mutually decided that Piers would not guest present Good Morning Britain this week. But we hope to have him on again very soon.' The story first appeared in the Sun, which quoted an alleged - though anonymous and, therefore, probably fictitious - ITV 'insider' as allegedly saying: 'We arranged for [Morgan] to stand in for Ben Shephard for the first three days this week, but then we realised he had accepted a big-money deal from the Lottery. If someone is presenting a news programme, they can't also appear in adverts. Those are the rules. Relations with Piers are still really amicable. He completely understood our position and we are really keen to get him back on the show in the near future.' Morgan, who joined the programme in April this year, was criticised for laughing when a guest repeatedly swore live on-air before the watershed. While it acknowledged that there had been a breach of its code, Ofcom decided not to take action because the Good Morning Britain presenters apologised quickly. But Ofcom said it was 'concerned' that Morgan had laughed at the incident. ITV admitted that the guest was not 'specifically warned not to use offensive language.' The high-profile hiring of Morgan has done little to boost the fortunes of Good Morning Britain, which has attracted fewer viewers than its - equally awful - predecessor Daybreak. ITV said Good Morning Britain figures have been 'up year-on-year' for every month this year, and for the ITV breakfast slot, this is the first time this has happened in ten years. Morgan declined to comment. Which is probably a first.

And now ...
Hollyoaks-type person Stephanie Davis has been dropped from the soap 'with immediate effect' just months after signing a new contract. The Merseyside-based actress - albeit, using the term 'actress' is probably pushing the definition somewhat - who played the character Sinead O’Connor, got her big break appearing on BBC lack-of-talent contest Over The Rainbow in 2010 where she was spotted by the Channel Four soap and offered a role on the show. She recently signed a new deal keeping her on Hollyoaks for another year, but a spokeswoman for the show said, rather bluntly: 'Stephanie Davis will no longer be filming Hollyoaks. Her contract has been terminated with immediate effect.' The spokeswoman offered no further information as to what had caused Steph to get the old tin-tack. Though, that didn't stop the Daily Mirra from speculating. Obviously. Since, they've got no real news to report this week. Davis's character's recent storylines include her giving birth to a baby fathered by her gay best friend and being held hostage in a siege. Apparently.

Pluto has mountains made of ice that are as high as those in the Rockies, images from the New Horizons probe have revealed. They also show signs of geological activity on Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. On Wednesday, scientists presented the first pictures acquired by the New Horizons probe during its historic fly-by of the little planet. The team has also named the prominent heart-shaped region on Pluto after the world's discoverer Clyde Tombaugh. The spacecraft sped past the planet on Tuesday, getting as close as twelve thousand kilometres and grabbing a huge volume of data. Mission scientist John Spencer told journalists that the first close-up image of Pluto's surface showed a terrain that had been resurfaced by some geological process - such as volcanism - within the last one hundred million years. 'We have not found a single impact crater on this image. This means it must be a very young surface,' he said. This active geology needs some source of heat. Previously, such activity has only been seen on icy moons, where it can be explained by 'tidal heating' caused by gravitational interactions with a large host planet. 'You do not need tidal heating to power geological activity on icy worlds. That's a really important discovery we just made this morning,' said Doctor Spencer. Alan Stern, the mission's chief scientist commented: 'We now have an isolated, small planet that's showing activity after 4.5 billion years.' Professor Stern said that the discovery would 'send a lot of geophysicists back to the drawing boards.' This same image shows mountains at the edge of the heart-like region that are up to eleven thousand feet high and which team members compared to North America's Rocky Mountains. John Spencer said the relatively thin coating of methane, carbon monoxide and nitrogen ice on Pluto's surface was not strong enough to form mountains, so they were probably composed of Pluto's water-ice bedrock. 'Water-ice at Pluto temperatures is strong enough to hold up big mountains,' he said. The thin frosting of nitrogen and other volatiles on top of water-ice bedrock was intriguing, said Stern, because Pluto's tenuous, mainly nitrogen atmosphere was constantly being lost to space. He recently co-authored an academic study with colleague Kelsi Singer making some predictions based on such a scenario. 'What Kelsi and I predicted was that if we saw steep [water-ice] topography on Pluto with only a volatile veneer, there must be internal activity that's dredging nitrogen up through cryo-volcanism or geysers or some other process that's active into the present on this planet,' the mission's chief scientist explained. 'We haven't found geysers and we haven't found cryovolcanoes, but this is very strong evidence that will send us looking.' Scientists have named the heart-shaped region Tombaugh Regio, after the astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930. The new, close-up image of Charon has revealed a chasm four to six miles deep and also further evidence of active resurfacing. 'Originally I thought Charon might have an ancient terrain covered in craters. It just blew our socks off when we had the new image,' said Doctor Cathy Olkin. 'Going from the North-East to the South-West is a series of troughs and cliffs. They extend about six hundred miles across the [moon]. It's a huge area and it could be down to internal processing.' A striking dark region at the moon's pole may be a thin veneer on top of redder material, she added. It has been informally named Mordor, after the region in the fictional land of Middle Earth in Tolkien's The Lord OfTthe Rings novels. The first well-resolved picture of Pluto's small moon Hydra reveals an elongated body with a surface predominantly made of water-ice. In addition, scientists have come up with a good estimate for its size: forty three kilometres by thirty three kilometres. 'Hydra is not a planet,' team member Hal Weaver joked. The snap contains only a few pixels because the moon is so small and distant; New Horizons took the shot from a distance of four hundred thousand miles. The pictures were sent back to Earth during the course of two data downlinks on Wednesday. James Christy, who discovered Charon in 1978, joined relatives of Clyde Tombaugh at mission control to witness receipt of the signal. NASA's administrator Charles Bolden said: 'With this mission, we have visited every single planet in the Solar System.' The agency's science chief John Grunsfeld commented: 'This is a tremendous moment in human history,' adding: 'The spacecraft is full of images and we can't wait.'
Former Stoke City goalkeeper Peter Fox allegedly boasted of putting Deep Heat in the 'sensitive places' of young footballers who got 'too big for their boots' during a radio interview, a court has heard claimed. Preston County Court heard that the goalkeeper gave a radio interview talking of what had happened, some time between 1986 and 1988. Ex-Stoke City apprentice George Blackstock, says that he was held down and abused with a goalkeeping glove. He is claiming damages against Fox. Blackstock has also started legal action against the club. Witness John Washington told the court that he remembered having listened to the interview on BBC Radio Stoke. He said that he could not remember certain details about the interview - but that he was 'shocked' at the comment about Deep Heat, a type of muscular pain relief ointment which really knacks if applied to the goolies. Take it from this blooger, he made that mistake once himself. Never again. Washington said: 'I can remember Peter saying what he did - "if any young lad at Stoke gets too big for their boots we put Deep Heat in a sensitive place." I'm sure about the Deep Heat.' He said that following the comment, the reporter at BBC Radio Stoke 'moved on quick and changed the subject on to tactics.' Washington told the hearing that he first became aware of the case in 2013 after reports in the local and national press. He said that he came forward with the information 'out of duty.' Stoke City and Fox deny Blackstock's claims.
Buckingham Palace has said it is 'disappointed' that long-lost footage from 1933 showing the Queen performing a Nazi salute has been released. The Sun has published the film which shows the Queen - then aged about seven - with her mother, sister and uncle, the future Edward VIII (who, of course, was a well-known friend of Heir Hitler). The palace said it was 'disappointing that film, shot eight decades ago has been obtained and exploited.' The newspaper has refused to say how it had obtained the footage but said it was an 'important and interesting story.' Which it isn't, really. The black and white footage, which lasts about seventeen seconds, shows the Queen playing with a dog on the lawn in the gardens of Balmoral, the Sun says. The Queen Mother then raises her arm in the style of a Nazi salute and, after glancing towards her mother, the Queen mimics the gesture. Prince Edward is also seen raising his arm. Not for the last time in his life. The footage is thought to have been shot in 1933 or 1934, when Hitler was rising to prominence as Fuhrer in Germany but the circumstances in which it was shot are unclear. A Palace 'source' said: 'Most people will see these pictures in their proper context and time. This is a family playing and momentarily referencing a gesture many would have seen from contemporary news reels. No one at that time had any sense how it would evolve. To imply anything else is misleading and dishonest.' The alleged 'source' allegedly added: 'The Queen and her family's service and dedication to the welfare of this nation during the war, and the 63 years the Queen has spent building relations between nations and peoples speaks for itself.' The BBC's Royal correspondent Sarah Campbell said that Buckingham Palace was not denying the footage was authentic but that there were 'questions over how this video has been released.'
In a case of 'it was on the Internet so it must be true,' a Tennessee woman arrested for trying to use counterfeit money, told police that she read online that President Barack Obama had passed a law making it legal, reports the Times News. You mean to say you can't? Oh, shit ... Anyway, Pamela Downs, of Kingsport was extremely arrested on Sunday after giving a clerk at gas station a five dollar bill which he suspected might be counterfeit. A police officer dispatched to the gas station wrote in his report that the fake money appeared to have been printed on a home printer with the two sides glued together. And the gas station guy on 'suspected' it was counterfeit? Downs initially claimed to the officer that she had received the fake money at another gas station in nearby Bristol a few days earlier and had never really looked at it. After agreeing to have her purse searched, police discovered a fake one hundred dollar bill printed in black and white with the backside glued on upside down. Police also found receipts in her purse showing she had purchased a printer and copy paper at a local Walmart. After being handcuffed and placed in a cruiser, Downs reportedly said, 'I don’t give a fuck, all these other bitches get to print money so I can too.' In an interview at the local nick, Downs admitted to printing the money in her apartment, stating that she 'read online' that President Obama had 'made a new law' permitting her to print her own money because she is 'on a fixed income.' A search of her apartment uncovered printing supplies including copy paper, scissors, glue and a printer. Several more counterfeit bills, both cut and uncut, were also found with police estimating the total to be around thirty to fifty thousand bucks. Downs has been charged with criminal simulation and counterfeiting. Whether she willalso be charged with 'being a daft glake' is not, at this time, known.
A woman who crashed her Mini Cooper into the back of a fish van was reportedly masturbating with a Rampant Rabbit-style vibrator at the time of the unfortunate coming together. The incident occurred in Cirencester, and saw the vehicle suddenly lurch forward in a traffic queue and strike a stationary van belonging to fresh fish specialist M&J Seafood. The van driver's bosses checked footage from the vehicle's rear camera, which revealed the startled woman clutching the sex toy and hurriedly buttoning up her trousers, the Gloucestershire Echo reports. An alleged 'source'allegedly told the newspaper: 'A driver was called into the office and feared he was getting the sack. He'd been on his first shift after looking for work for ages. The bosses told him it wasn't his fault and then said "Have you seen this?" He was like "What the fuck?" They all had a good laugh. Apparently the lady was pretty fit.' A spokesman for M&J Seafood's parent company Brakes confirmed that the incident had occurred but refused to comment further, adding the matter was now in the hands of its insurers.
A schoolgirl has told the Daily Mirra she feared she was 'going to die' after eating spicy Doritos chips left her experiencing breathing problems. Beth Laybourn ate a pack of Doritos Roulette crisps which contains tortilla chips claimed to be ten times hotter than a jalapeno pepper. Her experience led George Pindar School in Scarborough to issue a warning to parents that the crisps could 'cause severe distress.' In its July newsletter, under the heading Dangerous Doritos, the school said: 'Parents and carers, please be aware that the new Doritos Roulette crisps are not recommended for children. The crisps contain extra hot chips and it has come to our attention that they can cause severe distress, particularly to those with sensitivities, allergies or breathing problems.' The snack carries a message on the packet which reads: 'WARNING: Some of these chips are ultra spicy.' Probably a good idea not to eat them, in that case.
Spectre, the next James Bond film, will be released in the UK on 26 October - yer actual Keith Telly Topping's birthday, as it happens - with its world premiere in London on the same night. Daniel Craig is playing 007 for the fourth time in the film, which also stars Christoph Waltz and Lea Seydoux. Other cast members include Sherlock star Andrew Scott, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci and Ralph Fiennes. Spectre was shot at Pinewood Studios and filmed on location in London, Mexico City, Rome and Tangier and Erfoud, in Morocco.
In 1957, the character actor Aubrey Morris, who has died aged eighty nine, was praised by the theatre critic Kenneth Tynan for his 'mimetic cunning, wreathed in cringing smiles.' Adept at the suggestively camp and sinister, Morris Aubrey left an unconventional stamp on even the smallest, and seemingly conventional, of roles. Small, occasionally wearing round spectacles, he could convey obsessions and monstrosity at odds with his corporeality. His visual characteristics included a wide smile and a sly, sideways glance which he would use to devastating effect on both the small and big screen. With his distinctive, precise speech pattern, he could draw out vowel sounds amusingly, or unnervingly. Aubrey was probably best known to cinemagoers for playing Mister Deltoid Alex's self-styled 'post-corrective adviser' in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. He also had small but memorable roles in the cult horror film The Wicker Man - as the village gravedigger, opposite Roger Daltrey in Ken Russell's mad as toast Lisztomania and in Woody Allen classic comedy Love & Death during his five decade career. Aubrey's agent confirmed the actor had died on Wednesday. His many TV credits included appearances in The Saint, The Sweeney, The Prisoner, The Avengers and the BBC drama Cold Comfort Farm. He was born Aubrey Steinberg, in Portsmouth in 1926. His father, Morry, had sustained injuries in the first world war which meant that the family had to care for him for the rest of his life. Aubrey's mother, Becky, fostered an appreciation of the arts in her nine children: Aubrey's sisters Julia and Sonia both became professional dancers, and his younger brother Wolfe - who died in 1996 - was also a renowned character actor. While attending Portsmouth Municipal College, Aubrey regularly participated in the Portsmouth Guildhall annual festival of music and drama and he won the Leverhulme scholarship to study at RADA. His professional stage debut was in The Winter's Tale at the Regent's Park theatre in May 1944; the company then went on a national tour 'to avoid the buzz bombs.' Morris's first West End role was as a son in Fly Away Peter, a family comedy at the King’s Theatre, Hammersmith, in May 1947. When it was restaged at the BBC's television studios at Alexandra Palace in 1948, it became Aubrey's small-screen debut; the impresario Peter Saunders had expected him to do this for free and reportedly resented paying Morris's twenty five quid fee. Tynan's review praising Aubrey was for his part in The Public Prosecutor, at the Arts Theatre in 1957. The critic felt that Morris and Alan Badel managed to 'rescue the piece from boredom.' In Expresso Bongo at the Saville in 1958, Morris supported Paul Scofield but, like most of the cast, was not in the subsequent Cliff Richard film version. Aubrey's Old Vic colleague Jeremy Brett once introduced Morris to Noël Coward as 'the finest small-part player in London' which, Coward allegedly replied, was a rather unfortunately phrased compliment. At the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin in 1960, Aubrey played Justice Silence in Chimes At Midnight, Orson Welles's memorable adaptation of Henry IV and Henry V. Aubrey later recalled Welles was as generous to his actors offstage as he was demanding on. Aubrey spent two years at the Old Vic, from 1954 to 1956 and also had theatre roles on Broadway. He was an inmate in the film version of The Quare Fellow (1962), starring Patrick McGoohan, with whom Morris developed a lasting friendship; they regularly met for dinner during the last twenty years of McGoohan’s life, when both were living in California. After appearing in McGoohan’s TV series Danger Man, Morris was also cast in an episode of The Prisoner. McGoohan reportedly wrote a character for him, named Aubrey, for a never-made Prisoner movie planned in the 1990s, but the friends did collaborate again on a Columbo episode in 1998. Morris's favourite roles on what he called 'the hot cod's eye of TV' included Jamie, a well-remembered children's series in which his character, Mister Zed, appeared at different ages throughout. He was also proud of The Fight Against Slavery (1975). Other highlights included Shades Of Greene, with Sir John Gielgud and playing Khrushchev in Suez 1956. His other TV appearances included The Moonstone, The Corridor People, The Champions, Flower Of Evil, The Rag Trade, No Hiding Place, It's Dark Outside, Z Cars, Man In A Suitcase, Girls About Town, The Liver Birds, Metal Mickey, Harriet's back In Town, Space: 1999, Rooms, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, Hot Metal, The Molly Wopsies, Catweazle, Reilley: Ace of Spies, On The Buses and Ripping Yarns. On relocating to America, his first job was in Murder, She Wrote. He was also active there within the Screen Actors Guild. Opposite another Californian exile Ian McShane, Morris had a touching late role in HBO's western Deadwood, as an ailing actor helped towards death by Brian Cox quoting from King Lear. He appeared earlier this year in an episode of the sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, as a retired psychiatrist and was, he said, 'delighted' still to be working as he approached his nintieth birthday. Aubrey also appeared in numerous movies, including Necessary Evil, My Girl 2, The Rachel Papers, the legendarily awful Reg Varney vehicle Go For A Take, Hammer's Blood From The Mummy's Tomb, If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium, the big-screen version of Nell Dunn's Up The Junction, Morecambe & Wise's The Magnificent Two, The Sandwich Man, The Night Caller and The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery.

And, we end the latest bloggerisationisms with some further sad news: The great Olaf Pooley, the man who was the oldest surviving actor to have worked on Doctor Who, has died at the age of one hundred and one. Olaf was one of a small group of actors to have appeared in both the Doctor Who and Star Trek TV franchises. He appeared - memorably - in Doctor Who in 1970, playing both Professor Stahlman and his parallel-Earth counterpart, Director Stahlmann, in the classic seven-part Jon Pertwee story Inferno, one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's desert island Doctor Who DVDs. His appearance in Star Trek came over thirty years later when he appeared in the Voyager episode Blink Of An Eye playing Cleric. Olaf was born in the Parkstone area of Poole in Dorset to an English father and Danish mother in March 1914. He studied architecture at the Architectural Association in London and painting at the Chelsea School of Art. In Paris, he studied under the tutelage of Marcel Grommaire, at the Acedemie Colorossi. Until his death he was still an exhibiting painter. His first full-time job was with Pinewood Film Studios' design department and he then became a member of the BBC Radio Drama Repertory Company. Turning to acting, he spent much of the Second World War in Rep at the Liverpool Playhouse and Theatre Royal, Bristol and also appeared in the very first UK production of Twelve Angry Men at the Queen's Theatre, London. His prolific screen career also saw him appearing in the West End, on film and on TV. During his career, he also wrote and appeared in the classic low budget horror movie The Corpse - also known as Crucible of Horror in the USA - which starred his then-landlord Michael Gough (a particular favourite of this blogger that one), and wrote, directed and appeared in The Johnstown Monster (1971). He also wrote the screenplay for a film version of Bernard Taylor's The Godsend, which was directed by his future second wife Gabrielle Beaumont. Pooley's other writing credits include the 1982 TV movie Falcon's Gold, while he was an uncredited writer on the - properly awful - 1985 SF horror movie Lifeforce. But, we'll forgive him for that. He began his screen career in 1948 with a small role in the movie Penny & The Pownall Case. His TV guest appearances since the 1950s included roles in Dixon Of Dock Green, English Family Robinson, Leave It To Todhunter, Maigret, Top Secret, Richard The Lionhart, Ghost Squad, The Third Man, The Master, Sherlock Holmes, The Troubleshooters, The Plane Makers, The Culture Vultures, The Expert, Paul Temple, Doomwatch, Jason King, The Protectors, Special Branch, Fall Of Eagles, The Zoo Gang, Marie Curie, A Horseman Riding By, Atom Spies and, in the US, MacGyver, Hill Street Blues, LA Law and Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman as well as playing Lars Torvik in the first episode of The Sandbaggers. In 1958, Olaf took part in the BBC radio play Ambrose In Paris, and he played Sebastian in a 1956 film production of The Tempest. His other movies included The Assassination Bureau, Naked Evil, The Password Is Courage, Sink The Bismark! and She Shall Have Murder. Olaf had a major career in West End theatre, appearing in notable productions such as Noël Coward's Peace In Our Time as well as The Tempest and Othello and he counted Sir Alec Guinness among his close friends. Olaf emigrated to the United States in 1986 and lived in Southern California, with an art studio in Santa Monica where he devoted much of his his time to his painting. In an interview, he said: 'It is a privilege to be an artist and I am fortunate in this respect.' In 1946 Olaf married the actress Irlin Hall and together they had a daughter, the actress Kirstie Pooley (born 1954) and a son, the comedian Seyton Pooley. In 1982 he married the director Gabrielle Beaumont. He turned one hundred in March 2014 and became the oldest surviving Doctor Who actor with the death of Zohra Sehgal in July 2014. Olaf also became the oldest surviving Star Trek actor with the death of Ellen Albertini Dow in May of this year.

Which brings us to this week's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. I did consider going for something sarky and overly clever regarding the BBC fiasco. But, I'm not going to because, despite everything, this blogger believes in the power of pop music to inspire good feeling in the world. Unlike Tories, who don't. So, in the face of such a seemingly miserable future, dear blog reader, here's to the past. Here's Little Stevie, on the BBC - under a then-Labour government please note - and just about the happiest song ever written. And, also proof that white kids simply can't dance. Emotion and truth, what all good music should contain!
One last thought, dear blog reader.
You know it's true.

3 comments:

Mark said...

Wowsers at that piccie of Lauren Laverne *sighs*

There's a petition started by me to try and get Sky to reconsider their axeing of Critical. Probably won't do any good at all, but just wanted to express my disappointment at their short sighted decision to cancel a seriously good medical drama (and there ain't many of them around nowadays!) It's an incredibly lonely petition (I don't have FB or Twitter to advertise such things) so I'd appreciate a shout out on here if that's OK

https://www.change.org/p/sky-tv-bring-back-critical

Also on Change are several petitions asking for support for the BBC which I recommend signing.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping said...

Have to say, I'm not the world's biggest fan of online petitions; I think, broadly speaking, they're a waste of time and effort mainly because I've never known a single one that's actually achieved its objective. There are, I feel, more practical things to be done in the BBC's case. Like, for instance, answering the public consultation and making ones feelings - however strong - known. Forcefully.

Mark said...

There's been quite a few victories, or at least occasions were a petition has helped achieve something; Cherry Groce's relatives getting Legal Aid, the ban on the Are You Beach Fit poster campaign, the ban on the bookies taking bets on Oscar Pistorius' trial...but each to their own, and one of your many visitors may wish to sign all the same. I will definitely be answering the public consultation, it matters too much to simply let it pass by. Cheers for the link Keith