Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Magician's Apprentice: Always Magic In The Air

'I was looking for a book shop. How do you think I'm doing?'
'Tell me the name of the boy who isn't going to die today?'
'In your terms, [it is] a will. This is the last will and testament of the Time Lord known as The Doctor.'
'Davros knows. Davros remembers.'
'No, don't send a helicopter. Think it through!'
'Pardon my Sci-Fi, but this is beyond any human technology.'
'Today I shall be talking to you through The Square Window!'
'How's the boyfriend? Still tremendously dead, I expect?'
'An! Ack! Row! Nisms!'
'Since always. Since The Cloister Wars. Since the night he stole the Moon and the President's wife. Since he was a little girl. One of those was a lie, can you guess which one?'
'I spent all day yesterday in a bow-tie. The day before in a long scarf. It's my party ... and all of me is invited!'
'Dont swallow marbles!'
'Are you so dangerous, little man?'
'You can't just phone The Doctor and bleat, he'll go Scottish!'
This blogger thought it was great, dear blog reader.
Proper great (particularly the line about 'three possible versions of Atlantis!' and the really nerdy question of is Jaye Griffiths playing an older version of Ros Henderson who joined UNIT after Bugs got cancelled!)
But then, you probably knew that already.
Is it nearly next week yet?
'Doctor, what have you done?'
Next ...
Doctor Who fans in the UK can now watch the series nine prequel The Doctor's Meditation after it was uploaded to Facebook on Friday. The six minute sequence - made by BBC America and shown in various cinemas around the world recently - stars yer actual Peter Capaldi and is set shortly before the events of The Magician's Apprentice. Watch the video here. It's rather good, actually.
Jenna Coleman her very self has confirmed that she is leaving Doctor Who. The actress confirmed recent press speculation by revealing that her exit will take place during the show's upcoming ninth series. 'I have left the TARDIS,' she told Nick Grimshaw on the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show. Jenna revealed that her character's departure has been planned 'for well over a year' and she had been involved in 'figuring out' her final storyline. 'It's been in the works for a very long time,' she explained. 'Steven [Moffat (OBE)] and I sat down a long time ago - a year and a half ago, and tried to work out the best place to do it and the best place in which to tell a really good story. We're not going to give any details but it will happen at some point this season.' Coleman, whose next role will be playing Queen Victoria in a big-budget eight-part biopic drama for ITV, admitted that leaving Doctor Who was a tough decision to make because she loved working on the show. 'I did get emotional,' she said. 'I really tried to fight against it but you can't help it. It's been my life really for the last three, four years and I just love Peter [Capaldi] so much and the job so much and all the crew. Also the TARDIS is like your home. It's all magical and such incredible storytelling, so I did - I shed a tear.'
It is the end, dear blog reader, but the moment has been prepared for.
Doctor Who: Series Nine (Part One) featuring the first six episodes of the forthcoming series will shortly be available to pre-order from the BBC Shop and Amazon and will be officially released on 2 November. Part two, with episodes seven to twelve, will follow early next year. 'Part one contains the first three two-part stories from Peter Capaldi's second series in the role with guest stars Maisie Williams and Rufus Hound as well as the brilliant Missy (played by Michelle Gomez),' says the BBC in a press release. Each part will be massive over-priced at £25.52 on DVD and £30.63 on Blu-ray. A box-set of the full series - hopefully including both last year's Christmas special and this years as well - will, apparently, come out later in 2016. And, this blogger will be waiting for that as, he presumes, will everybody else with an ounce of common sense between their ears.
And now, for all of From The North's German readers, guten abend. German broadcaster FOX had revealed the broadcast details of series nine. The series will premiere with the complete two-parter of The Magician's Apprentice and The Witch's Familiar, dubbed to yer actual Deutsch, on 3 December at 9:00pm. The series will then continue with two episodes every Thursday evening at the same time. Which is obviously sehr gut to know.
Canadian broadcaster SPACE celebrates the return of Doctor Who this weekend with a special message from yer actual Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman her very self.
Commuters in London would have been in for something of a surprise on Thursday morning as The Daleks took over London's transport network, They could be seen in and around Westminster Underground Station, in celebration of their (and The Doctor's) return to television this weekend. And, freaking the shit out of more than one commuter.
Viewers to BBC2 early on Saturday had a surprise when the channel transmitted a trailer for the second episode in this year's series of Doctor Who, The Witch's Familiar, some twelve hours before the first episode had been broadcast. The trailer went out at 7.25am, just after a screening of the 1934 film Anne Of Green Gables and contained some spoilers from episode one. Careless. One imagines some hapless Beeb employee is current having his or her bits stuffed into a vice as a result. This is not the first instance of the BBC releasing information too early. In 2013 the Blu-Ray version of The Name Of The Doctor was distributed in the US before transmission of the episode, while in 1983 the Target novelisation of the twentieth anniversary story The Five Doctors, was available up to two weeks before transmission of the episode.

The Digital Spy website's recent poll of readers' favourite Doctors - mentioned on this blog a couple of weeks ago - was won, not entirely unexpectedly, by the nation's heartthrob yer actual David Tennant, with his successor Smudger in second place and his successor, Peter Capaldi his very self in third. Big Mad Tom was fourth, followed by Chris Eccleston, Peter Davison, William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Mister Pertwee, Sylvester McCoy, John Hurt and Paul McGann. Notoriously thin-skinned and angry Colin Baker came last. Dead last. Extremely last. Thirteenth out of twelve. Beaten by two actors who appeared in, respectively two episodes and one episode of the popular long-running family SF drama. So, dear blog reader, who wants to be the one to tell him, eh?
Meanwhile, Retro Nation In Stephens Green, sellers of 'iconic gifts and accessories' chose this weekend to run a competition on their Facebook page to win a TARDIS Wallet. To enter, they say, 'just comment with your favourite Doctor, like our page and share this with your friends.' Nobody, for God's sake, tell Colin Baker about the favourite Doctor bit. He'll be so cross.
Doc Martin dipped by just under two hundred thousand overnight viewers from the previous week to an average 5.42 million at 9pm on Monday. Earlier, Britain As Seen On ITV brought in 2.44m at 8pm. On BBC1, the new documentary series All Change At Longleat interested 3.34m at 9pm. Monday is, of course, BBC Two's highest-rated night of the week - and one which, dangerous, you might just learn something from. University Challenge was watched by 2.63m at 8pm, followed by Only Connect with 2.14m at 8.30pm and the excellent Michael Mosley's new science series Countdown To Life with 1.63m at 9pm. The opening episode of Six Degrees Of Separation, the new panel show hosted by Professor Brian Cox (no, the other one), attracted 1.13m at 10pm. On Channel Four, Full-Of-His-Own-Importance-Waste-Of-Space Jamie's Super Food was seen by 1.25m at 8pm, followed by Food Unwrapped with 1.33m at 8.30pm and The Catch with eight hundred and seventy eight thousand punters at 9pm. Channel Five's new series of Police Interceptors began with 1.20m at 8pm, while Celebrity Big Brother continued with 1.66m at 9pm. The Woman With No Face was watched by nine hundred and ninety eight thousand at 10pm.
The latest Victorian freak show Celebrity Big Brother double eviction episode brought in an overnight audience of 1.49 million at 9pm on Tuesday evening. A truly depressing statistic which appears to confirm that there are, at the very least, a million-and-a-half people in this country with no bloody brains in their collective skull whatsoever and who could, probably, be humanely destroyed without the shedding of too many tears. Earlier on the channel, new series The Yorkshire Vet appealed to 1.11m at 8pm, while The Hotel Inspector Returns was seen by seven hundred and forty nine thousand punters at 10pm. On BBC1, New Tricks as usual topped the night outside soaps with five million viewers at 9pm. BBC2's premiere of the Daniel Radcliffe drama The Gamechangers attracted eight hundred and eighty six thousand and - despite a very good cast - a sort of feeling of 'so what?' at 9pm. Earlier, The Hairy Bikers' Northern Exposure brought in 1.76m at 8pm. On ITV, Parking Wars was seen by 2.06m at 8pm, followed by Britain's Biggest Adventures With Bear Grylls with a disappointing 1.36m at 9pm. The series, in which Grylls told viewers 'you don't always have to travel to the ends of the Earth to experience incredible adventures and mind-blowing landscapes' looks set to be ITV's latest midweek factual flop in the 9pm slot following the likes of Flockstars and BBQ Champ. Channel Four's Battle Of Britain interested 1.64m at 8pm, while Educating Cardiff continued with 1.39m at 9pm and joined Celebrity Big Brother in gaining a larger audience than yer man Bear Grylls could manage. You want to get back to dangling Kate Winslett off the end of a cliff, mate. At least that was funny.
The Great British Bake Off once again dominated the overnight ratings on Wednesday. The BBC1 competition rose by around half-a-million overnight viewers to an average audience of 9.99 million at 8pm, peaking with 10.37m during the last fifteen minutes. Later, the Suranne Jones drama Doctor Foster stayed strong from its debut last week, bringing in a very impressive audience of 5.67m at 9pm. On BBC2, Great British Menu was seen by 1.25m at 7.30pm, followed by Horizon with four hundred and ninety seven thousand at 8pm and The Ascent Of Woman with five hundred and sixty seven thousand at 9pm. It was another rotten night for ITV, soaps aside, with The Sound Of ITV attracting but 2.10m at 8pm, while The Nick continued with 1.81m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Posh Pawn appealed to 1.02m at 8pm, followed by Grand Designs with 1.89m at 9pm. Channel Five's Nightmare Neighbour Next Door gathered nine hundred and fifty four thousand at 8pm, while the latest episode of Celebrity Big Brother rotted the brain of 1.47m at 9pm. Wentworth Prison continued with six hundred and sixty six thousand viewers at 10pm. BBC3's Don't Tell The Bride topped the multichannels with four hundred and seventy three thousand at 9pm.
Channel Four's Hunted suffered an audience drop week-on-week, overnight figures show. Episode two of the on-the-run reality thriller dropped to 1.35m at 9pm on Thursday night - down on the 1.7m who watched the previous week's premiere. George Clarke's Amazing Spaces had an audience of 1.49m at 8pm, while First Dates held steady with 1.15m punters at 10pm. On ITV, the finale of the 'shepherding reality show' Flockstars - hopefully, forever - brought in a properly risible 1.58m at 8.30pm, with not much better 1.63m joining the channel at 9pm for the closing instalment of Stephen Fry In Central America which really doesn't seem to have connected with an audience either. BBC1's Who Do You Think You Are? with the actress Anne Reid was the top primetime performer outside of soaps, being watched by 4.34m at 9pm. The ONE Show attracted 3.54m at 7pm, while Gregg Wallace's Eat Well for Less? had 3.97m at 8pm - up on last week's figure. Later in the evening, Question Time returned for its first episode since Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour Party, with 2.4m joining the debate from 10.35pm. On BBC2, Great British Menu led the night for the channel with 1.67m at 7.30pm. Chris Packham's World's Weirdest Events followed with 1.45m at 8pm, whilst the Danny Baker-biopic drama Cradle To Grave continued with 1.63m at 9pm. Boy Meets Girl had an audience of 1.04m at 9.30pm, while Mock The Week followed also with 1.04m at 10pm. Channel Five's Benefits Britain: Life On The Dole interested seven hundred and fifty seven thousand viewers at 8pm, followed by 1.5m for Celebrity Big Brother at 9pm. The last episode of The Special Needs Hotel was watched by five hundred and seventy three thousand at 10pm.

At least yer man Jezza Corbyn getting himself a new job means that, presumably, he can now give up doing those Zopa.com adverts. Savvy?
ITV's coverage of the Rugby World Cup opener peaked with an impressive 9.26 million overnight punters at around 8.30pm on Friday. England's opening match against Fiji attracted an average overnight audience of 7.56 million. Farrah Abraham's eviction from the Celebrity Big Brother house was seen by an average of of 1.18 million from 9pm on Channel Five. BBC1's evening started with 3.54 million for The ONE Show at 7pm, followed by 3.12 million for a repeat episode of Would I Lie To You? at 8.30pm. Rather surprisingly, that's actually a higher figure than several recent first-run episodes of the comedy panel show have achieved. Still Open All Hours was seen by 2.61 million at 8.30pm, followed by 2.19 million for the series finale of Ripper Street. The evening ended with 1.15 million viewers watching Mountain Goats at 10.45pm (and not, one hundred and fifteen million as claimed by the Digital Spy website in their Friday's ratings coverage). Gogglebox was, again, Channel Four's highest-rated show of the evening, attracting an average of 2.35 million at 9pm. It was sandwiched between the much-trailed Sarah Millican-presented episode of Deal Or No Deal with nine hundred and thirty thousand and 1.11 million punters for Alan Carr: Chatty Man at 10pm. The Great British Menu began BBC2's night with 1.48 million, followed by 1.29 million for Mastermind. Gardeners' World continued with 1.76 million, while The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice attracted 2.12 million. Rick Stein's From Venice To Istanbul was watched by 1.38 million at 9.30pm.
A repeat it might have been but comedy moment of the week this week was, undoubtedly, Rob Brydon's Basil Brush impression on the 2014 episode of Would I Lie To You? shown on Friday evening. Always worth a laugh, that.


Tom Hollander, Ian McShane and Alison Brie have been announced for Lord Snooty's newest ITV drama. Rebecca Front, Cressida Bonas, Richard McCabe and Phoebe Nicholls also form part of the cast of Doctor Thorne, an adaptation of Anthony Trollope's 1858 novel. The three-part series centres on the titular Thomas Thorne (played by Hollander), who lives with his penniless niece Mary (Stefanie Martini). When Lady Arabella Gresham (Front) finds out that her son Frank (Harry Richardson) is in love with Mary, she is horrified and believes it is his duty to make a rich marriage to save their family estate - after her husband Francis Gresham Senior (McCabe) has frittered away their fortune. Scheming with her sister-in-law (Nicholls) and niece (Kate O'Flynn), Arabella targets wealthy American heiress Martha Dunstable (Brie). So, to sum up, this is a Lord Snooty drama about class. Again. Jesus, can the bloke not write about something else for a change? No, sorry, that's a stupid question, clearly. McShane is playing alcoholic railway millionaire Sir Roger Scatcherd, while Bonas will portray Mary's friend and confidante Patience Oriel. Gwyneth Keyworth, Danny Kirane, Janine Duvitski and Tom Bell will also feature, with Niall McCormick directing. 'Doctor Thorne is a wonderful example of Trollope's gift for understanding the tangles we humans get into, Lord Snooty said. 'He is sharply observant, critical and merciful in equal measure, and above all, highly entertaining. With the cast we have assembled, I am confident we can bring all of these qualities to the screen.'

Whom is Idris Elba hiding - or, possibly, in the process of chinning - in the first image from Luther series four, released on Thursday? John Luther seemingly gets rough with a possible suspect in the photo released by BBC America, alongside a full synopsis. BBC America's description reads: 'Luther's back. Pitted against his most chilling adversary yet, haunted by the ghosts of his past and hell-bent on retribution, he's drawn into a terrifyingly complex case that pushes him closer to the edge than he's ever been.' The two-part mini-series will introduce some fresh faces into Luther's investigation, including Rose Leslie, Patrick Malahide, Laura Haddock and John Heffernan.
Marvel's Agent Carter is returning to the UK in early 2016. The second season of the acclaimed drama will be broadcast on FOX UK - somewhere between endless repeats of NCIS and The Mentalist, one presumes - soon after the US transmission, meaning there won't be a painfully long wait for fans. Unlike this year. Starring Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Marvel's Agent Carter has been something of a hit for the channel with a consolidated audience of around nine hundred thousand viewers each week. 'Marvel's Agent Carter was a ratings smash for FOX UK, with a million people tuning in to Peggy Carter's adventures on launch,' said FOX International Channels UK managing director Jeff Ford. And, he was only slightly exaggerating. 'We're thrilled to bring the season two premiere to UK fans, and can't wait to see what's in store for the feisty and fearless heroine.' Season two - consisting of ten episodes, two more than the first series - will pick up one year later, as Peggy travels from New York City to Los Angeles for one of her most dangerous assignments yet.
The BBC has confirmed that while one of its cameramen was injured outside Jeremy Corbyn's home, the incident did not involve one of the new Labour Party leader's aides. Some media outlets - you known exactly the ones without even asking - had 'suggested' that one of Corbyn's staff had injured the cameraman, but the BBC has said that the incident in fact involved 'a government driver.' What, exactly a government driver was doing outside Jezza Corbyn's drum, they didn't elaborate, though one is sure it would be fascinating to find out. 'The BBC can confirm that there was an incident involving a BBC cameraman whilst filming Jeremy Corbyn leaving his home yesterday,' a BBC spokesperson said. 'He sustained some injuries for which he's received treatment.' They continued: 'The BBC has spoken to the Labour Party which has confirmed the incident involved a government driver, not a Labour Party member of staff.'

Another infamous and much-maligned Jezza, yer man Clarkson his very self, will present the first episode of Have I Got News For You when the satirical topical news quiz returns to BBC1 on 2 October for its fiftieth series. Of course, Jezza - who has regularly presented the show over the last decade - pulled out of a scheduled appearance on the last series of the panel show following the furore over his 'fracas' with Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon. Clarkson will return to BBC1 next month, alongside Have I Got News For You team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton, with Pointless presenter Richard Osman as one of the guests. It will be his first appearance on a BBC programme since the final episode of Top Gear was broadcast although he has also filmed a guest episode of Qi's forthcoming M series which will be shown some time in the autumn.
Richard Hammond found himself under the Phillip Schofield microscope on Monday. Appearing on This Morning to promote his new series Richard Hammond's Jungle Quest, The Hamster was questioned by Schofield about the huge alleged budget for the upcoming Amazon Prime motoring show featuring Top Gear's three recently-departed presenters. Having initially deflected a question about the budget by saying the series was an 'amazing opportunity to reinvent what we do', Hammond then defended the large sum. 'What we made before was expensive and what we make again will be,' he said, before adding that the new show couldn't be more perfectly timed. 'The automotive industry is undergoing a tremendous change, and television itself is undergoing a massive sea change. So to report on a changing industry from within a changing industry is a massive challenge.' Sadly, Hammond did not then ask the odious and full-of-his-own-importance Schofield what the hell all of this had to do with him and why didn't he get back to his real job of co-presenting TV shows with a dumb animal (Gordon the Gopher, that is, not Holly Willoughby. Oh, no, very hot water). Hammond also explained that it wasn't that he didn't want to talk about the series, but that the reunited trio of himself, Jezza Clarkson and James May are 'still working on it.'
The new Amazon motoring show from former Richard, Jezza and James May could be called Gear Knobs according to a typically sniffy article from some Middle Class hippy Communist smear of no importance at the Gruniad Morning Star. The BuzzFeed website has unearthed a trademark application for the name by Jezza Clarkson's lawyers Olswang filed two weeks before the trio announced on 20 July that they had signed a deal worth a reported one hundred and sixty million knicker (or, more money that Phillip Schofield will ever see in his life) to make thirty six episodes with Amazon for its Prime Instant Video service. The application was filed through a company called Newincco 1361, which has also registered the 'less subtle' Gear Nobs according to our sniffy chum in the Gruniad. 'The timing suggests that the filing was not the result of Amazon's input, and only last month Amazon Instant Video boss Roy Price said the team were still struggling to find a name for the show' the report continues. Of course, Price could have been lying a notion that doesn't seem to have occurred to Jasper Jackson. Olswang has acted in a similar capacity before for yer man Clarkson. The company registered the company name Bedder Six, which was founded by Jezza and Top Gear producer Andy Wilman to control the intellectual rights to the show until they sold it back to the BBC in 2012.
Chris Evans has denied tabloid reports that Zoe Ball has screen-tested for the new series of Top Gear. The Sunday Mirra claimed that Ball had 'impressed producers during a try-out' opposite the new host and was now 'seen as a frontrunner' for the job. However, Evans wrote on Twitter: 'Hilariously inaccurate story in todays [sic] paper re my good friend Zoe Ball excelling in Top Gear screen test. She hasn't even been for one.' So, either Chris Evans is lying or the Sunday Mirra is. Which one do you believe dear blog reader?
Graham Norton says that he has not watched The X Factor 'for years' because 'it's lost its credibility.' Which, suggests it had some in the first place. In an interview with the Radio Times, Graham admitted to watching Strictly Come Dancing, but 'not slavishly. I haven’t watched X Factor the past few years because it just seems so long now – it's endless,' he said. 'Also, the people aren't very good, so to all the judges' comments of "I'd buy your album tomorrow" you think, "You're never having an album." You wouldn't throw fifty pence at them if they were busking in the tube. I think it's lost its credibility.' Graham also said that he does not think 'guilty TV pleasures' exist. Norton said: 'Unless you're watching snuff porn, then maybe feel guilty, but really, if it's pleasurable, why feel guilt? If there's a fabulous documentary on BBC4 about the invention of the clay pipe, I'm always going to choose something bubble-gummy and stupid on the other side. And now that there's iPlayer, you need never feel guilty.'

The continuity announcer for the SyFy Channel broadcast on Tuesday evening of the movie Apollo 13 solemnly informed viewers - all five of them: 'The following programme contains mild language.' No shit?!
There's a new girl in the new series of New Girl, if you will. Megan Fox is joining the FOX (no relation) sitcom for its fifth season next year while Zooey Deschanel is on maternity leave following the birth of her first child last month. Megan will appear in the sixth episode onwards, scheduled to premiere in January. While Deschanel's characters Jess is away 'on jury duty', Fox's Reagan - a pharmaceutical sales rep - will rent out Jess's room. QAll of which is a jolly good excuse to recall that scene from Transformers. You know the one this blogger means ...
Right, that's quite enough of that sort of malarkey.

The Daily Mirra predicts a 'bloodbath' of Coronation Street cast members as 'bosses' try to revive the long-running soap's ratings, while the Sun claims that a 'top producer' has been fired over a series of 'bizarre plots and storylines.' The latter says the loss of eight 'long-serving or highly popular characters' has contributed to falling viewing figures. Kate Oates - who is credited with having 'transformed Emmerdale in under three years' - is being brought in to do the same for Corrie, the paper adds. The Mirra allegedly quotes an alleged 'source"' - anonymous, of course and therefore, almost certainly fictitious - as saying that Oates will 'get rid of the gimmicks [and] stupid cameos featuring the likes of Sarah Harding.' The paper's showbiz editor, Mark Jefferies, says the former Archers producer is an 'ideal choice to give the soap more sparkle.' However, TV critic Ian Hyland warns that she 'shouldn't kid herself it will be Oates so simple' to make Corrie 'brilliant more times than it is average.'
Two previously missing episodes of the cult comedy series At Last The 1948 Show, a precursor to Monty Python's Flying Circus, have been found. The episodes reportedly feature one of John Cleese's favourite sketches. They have been placed in the national archives of the British Film Institute which was alerted to their existence by a member of the public and one of them – episode three – will be screened at a film festival next week. It includes the sketch Cleese remembered fondly, The Bookshop, in which he appears opposite Marty Feldman, a picky customer who comes into his shop making increasingly bizarre requests. Cleese's writing partner Graham Chapman also appear in At Last The 1948 Show, which ran on ITV, as well as Tim Brooke-Taylor and Aimi Macdonald. Another future Python, Eric Idle appeared in several episodes as a guest star, as did Brooke Taylor's future Goodies co-star, Bill Oddie. Back when he was still funny. The show was broadcast on the ITV network in 1967, its name a joke about the time television executives reputedly took to make a decision. It is credited with helping to introduce the surreal humour Monty Python's Flying Circus would popularise when it started up two years later. The comedy sketch show featured spoofs of different broadcasting formats and occasional long-running gags, such as the recurring appearance of 'the lovely' Aimi Macdonald as a presenter between sketches, under the impression that she is the actual star of the show. In one linking item she utters the words 'and now for something completely different ...' the continuity announcement cliche which would resurface as a recurring motif in Monty Python's Flying Circus. The discovery of the footage, which follows that of two further episodes last year, means that all of most of eleven of the original thirteen episodes have now been preserved, with audio recordings of the remaining two episodes also surviving. Steve Bryant, the senior curator for television at the BFI national archive, said: 'Once almost forgotten, the recovery and restoration of episodes of At Last The 1948 Show by the BFI over the past twenty five years has led to it being acknowledged as one of the key milestones of British television comedy. Now we have another two missing episodes and a third which was missing a brief segment and the archive's collection is almost complete – but the search still goes on. It is particularly gratifying to get back The Bookshop sketch, one of the show's great classics and recognised as such by John Cleese in his recent autobiography.' The third episode will be screened at the Radio Times Festival at Hampton Court on 25 September. The editor of Radio Times, Ben Preston said: 'The 1948 Show inspired Monty Python, The Goodies and a host of greats. Finding a comedy unseen for years starring John Cleese, Marty Feldman, Tim Brooke Taylor, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle is finding the missing link.'

Popular 1980s detective series Hart To Hart is reportedly to be remade by the NBC network, with a gay couple instead of the original's husband and wife team. According to Deadline, the new version will see attorney Jonathan Hart and his male partner, investigator Dan Hartman, juggle domesticity, sickeningly extravagant wealth and solving crimes. As you do. Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers were Jonathan and Jennifer Hart in the ABC original, which ran from 1979 to 1984. You may remember, when they got together, it was moydah. The couple were last seen together in 1996 TV movie Till Death Do Us Hart. Christopher Fife, whose previous shows include Revenge and the Grey's Anatomy spin-off Private Practice, is reportedly writing the new show. Fife previously worked as a writer on the sitcom Will & Grace, a show considered groundbreaking for its inclusion of gay characters. It is not known who will play the new show's leads or whether there will be a role for Max, the loyal factotum played by the late Lionel Stander. Or, indeed, Freeway the dog.

A Panorama programme which featured graphic reconstructions of torture methods including waterboarding is being investigated by media regulator Ofcom. The edition of the BBC1 current affairs show, Fighting Terror With Torture, included examples of 'enhanced interrogation condemned as torture', two of them featuring the programme's reporter, Hilary Andersson. An award-winning reporter who has been a correspondent on Panorama for nearly a decade, Andersson was shown locked inside 'a blackout box' for twelve minutes while a recording of a screaming baby was played at high volume. She was also shown repeatedly slammed into a flexible wall by three masked men as part of a procedure known as 'walling'. Another reconstruction featured waterboarding, although not all of the scenes were shown and it did not involve Andersson, who said she 'wasn't prepared to undergo the ordeal.' Ofcom said that it had received but one complaint about the broadcast. Presumably from the CIA. A spokesperson for the regulator said: 'We've opened an investigation to determine whether scenes featuring graphic reconstructions of torture methods in this current affairs programme were suitable to be broadcast pre-watershed.' The programme was broadcast on BBC1 on 3 August. It asked: 'How far should we go in the fight against terrorism? Panorama hears from those who approved, ran and suffered waterboarding in secret CIA prisons around the world.' The BBC said that the programme made it clear that the reconstructions featured in it were carried out 'under strictly controlled conditions' with medical back-up on standby. A pre-programme announcement also warned viewers that the film would feature 'disturbing details of CIA methods condemned as torture.'

According to Gruniad Morning Star, a plan to move some of the BBC’s biggest shows including Top Gear and EastEnders into a new four hundred million smackers commercial company will take a step closer on Thursday when the BBC launches a formal consultation about arguably the biggest shake-up ever to the way the corporation operates. The move – one of the biggest changes to the BBC in its ninety three-year history – will mean transferring around two thousand staff who make its crown jewel shows such as Casualty, Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing, and radio and TV comedy, out of the public and into the private sector. The BBC Trust is to canvas views about the Director General Tony Hall's plan to move all of the BBC's television content production, apart from news, current affairs and sport, out of the publicly-funded part of the BBC into a new subsidiary called BBC Studios. The BBC executive is also launching its own report. Hall's strategy is designed to 'improve creativity' at the BBC and stem the tide of talent leaving the BBC for bigger salaries in the commercial independent sector. Earlier this week, Hall said that he wanted the next big entertainment hit to be a BBC one rather than a bought-in show, such as The Voice, but with a frozen licence fee, BBC executives have argued that it makes it far more difficult for the corporation to retain staff with good ideas when they know they can make a fortune setting up their own companies. Hall is expected to stress in a speech at the Royal Television Society conference in Cambridge the importance of intellectual property to the BBC's creative future. The creation of BBC Studios will be a two-phase process, with departments such as drama, entertainment and factual and radio comedy at first becoming another division within the corporation under director Peter Salmon. Then, if the entity is allowed to compete to make programmes for other broadcasters, changing the BBC's royal charter – which runs out at the end of 2016 – to let it become a commercial subsidiary. In exchange for being allowed to create BBC Studios the BBC will open up around eighty per cent of its programme spend to independents – outside of the big popular shows which will transfer to BBC Studios. Some divisions of the BBC such as drama and entertainment are keen to make the switch to BBC Studios so they can make shows for other companies such as HBO. One alleged BBC 'insider' allegedly snitched to the Gruniad: 'We have programmes that we come up with that we can't get away at the BBC but we know would work brilliantly on Channel Four or other channels.' The corporation is alleged to be 'keen' to 'expand globally' and the creation of BBC Studios will enable programme-makers to work more closely with the corporation's other commercial subsidiary, BBC Worldwide, and provide more content for its pay TV channels. However, the thriving independent sector is claimed to be 'wary' of the move as although the BBC says it is putting more slots up for grabs that external producers can tender for, the corporation is effectively creating a so-called 'super-indie' of its own that has an estimated four hundred million knickers worth of 'guaranteed commissions.' The creation of a commercial BBC Studios will also mean that talent and executive pay within the company would no longer be capped and executives will not be subject to the same level of scrutiny as they are in the public sector. Currently, many details about how they operate can be obtained through freedom of information requests.
Labour - remember them, they used to be the opposition - has accused Conservative minister the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale of 'misleading parliament' and called for an investigation into communications between his department and The Sunday Times following a series of articles which appeared in the newspaper about the government's plans for castrating the BBC. Chris Bryant, the now former shadow lack of culture secretary - just before he got all reshuffled by Jezza Corbyn - asked the cabinet secretary, Jeremy Heywood, to launch 'a full investigation' into 'repeated leaks' to the newspaper, which resulted in a front-page story about the proposed Green Paper headlined Tories give BBC reform ultimatum. The letter, which was also sent to the prime minister and to the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale his very self, calls for 'an immediate investigation into serious breaches' of the ministerial code. The intervention came after Labour had 'obtained' e-mails from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport under the Freedom of Information Act which suggested that Carrie Symonds, the Special Adviser to the lack of culture secretary, had spoken to a journalist at The Sunday Times days before it published the story. What's so 'special' about Carrie, you may be wondering. This blogger is none the wiser, frankly. The e-mail sent from the department press office on Friday 10 July to a Sunday Times journalist includes the line: 'I believe Carrie has spoken to you about the announcement we'd like to give to you for this.' The 'announcement' involved the membership of the advisory committee announced by the lack of culture secretary on that Sunday. However, Labour believes that the investigation must also determine whether the minister or his team revealed details of the Green Paper ahead of its parliamentary launch, which would represent a breach of the ministerial code. Bryant told the Gruniad Morning Star: '[the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale] has very serious questions to answer. The apparent breaches of the ministerial code should be investigated as a matter of urgency and where proven, the individuals should do the honourable thing.' The honourable thing being to bluff his way out of it and carry on as though nothing has happened, presumably, whilst some minor member of his staff falls on their sword and resigns. That's usually what happens in these sort of cases. The DCMS press office, which sent the e-mail, was extremely unavailable for comment on Thursday but Tim Shipman, the political editor of The Sunday Times and author of the piece, had plenty to say for himself, categorically denying that the special adviser leaked any details of the Green Paper. 'I had two sources in Whitehall on that story and neither of them was Carrie Symonds,' he claimed. One or two people even believed him. Bryant's letter asks for 'a full review' of both the communication between the department and the journalist and of the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's subsequent denial in the House of Commons when he said: 'I have to say that I am not responsible for what appears in The Sunday Times.' After receiving the redacted e-mails on Thursday, Bryant said: 'The ministerial code is absolutely clear that a minister must tell the truth and that he alone is fully responsible for his special advisers. John Whittingdale tried to dismiss the idea that he had any involvement in briefing The Sunday Times in the House of Commons. He poured scorn on the very idea. We now know this was just an attempt to hoodwink the House because The Sunday Times story came directly from his special adviser and, contrary to what he said in the Commons, he was indeed responsible as minister for what appeared in the paper that Sunday. Ministers who knowingly mislead parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the prime minister,' he added. 'That the Secretary of State seems to have misled the House is in itself an extremely serious matter, but that he did so to cover up a potential breach of the ministerial code must now be investigated. If the code has been breached I hope whoever is responsible will do the honourable thing and resign. From the very start, the government's handling of the BBC's charter renewal has been a shabby affair. Repeated leaks and the hoodwinking of parliament do nothing to increase trust in politics, and cast a dark shadow over the government's handling of our greatest artistic cultural institution.' Labour cited a, rather sneering, tweet from Shipman, which called the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale 'brave' for denying the veracity of The Sunday Times story on 16 July.

The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale has questioned whether the BBC and ITV should continue to broadcast late-night news at the same time. Is this bloke taking the piss, or what? They've been doing that since the 1950s, pal, why is this suddenly an issue now? Stupid question, of course - possibly the stupidest question asked since ' ... but apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?' The reason why is because it's another stick to beat the BBC with from a vile and odious rascal with a sick agenda. See, you knew there'd be an easy answer did you not, dear blog reader? Speaking at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale asked whether the ten o'clock clash was 'sensible', noting the impact the BBC has on other broadcasters. 'It is important to look at the impact the BBC has on commercial rivals,' he said. 'To give one example, is it sensible its main evening news bulletin goes out at the same time as ITV's?' He confirmed that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is 'commissioning independent research into some of the BBC's impact on the market. I was somewhat surprised that the Green Paper was greeted as somehow heralding the demise of the BBC or as evidence of a Murdoch-inspired agenda to dismantle it, a charge I found particularly surprising as my last meeting with Rupert Murdoch took place over four years ago after I served a warrant on him requiring his appearance in parliament in relation to the hacking inquiry,' he sneered. After an appearance at the Edinburgh TV festival in August, in which he had appeared to downplay the reports of a 'root and branch' review of the BBC, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's Cambridge speech reopened several key questions – notably on market impact and future funding. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said that he 'regretted' the BBC has 'been burdened' with the seven hundred million knicker cost of free TV licence fees for the over-seventy fives, but claimed it was 'not unreasonable that the BBC, like other publicly funded bodies, should make a contribution to the overriding objective to get the country's finances back in balance.' He promised: 'Let me be clear there is no threat to the BBC's status as a world class broadcaster – let alone an existential threat.' But, he said the debate around charter renewal must 'explore how the BBC fits into the contemporary broadcasting landscape and how it might be even better.' Despite questioning the position of News At Ten and the performance of BBC1, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale claimed: 'It is not my job to run the BBC, dictate what channels exist, which individual programmes it shows and how many people it employs.' Again, one or two people even believed him. 'But,' he continued, 'it is right to ask questions on whether the BBC is sufficiently focused on distinctive programmes.' Arriving late in Cambridge because of a taxi strike and roadworks, the lack of culture secretary launched his second review of the day when he asked media regulator Ofcom to undertake a 'health check' into terms of trade governing the way the BBC treated independent producers. John McVay, chair of independent producers trade body PACT pointed out that this was the fifth such review in ten years. Earlier in the day, the DCMS appointed former banker David Clementi to lead an allegedly 'independent' review into how the BBC is governed and regulated amid increasing criticism of the BBC Trust. In a statement, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said that the current system had failed and referred to previous lapses in editorial judgment or standards: 'Television is of huge importance to the nation – and the BBC lies at the heart of British television. However, no one could deny that the BBC has made some bad mistakes in the last few years. The UK television industry is celebrated and loved across the world. The years ahead promise to be tremendously exciting and I see it as a huge privilege to be the government's television champion at this time.' With champions the likes of him, dear blog reader, you really don't need enemas.
The BBC's executive Alan Yentob has branded the lack of culture secretary's suggestion that the broadcaster's main 10pm news programme should or could be moved so as not to 'compete' with ITV's evening bulletin as 'ridiculous'. Personally, this blogger called it rancid and twattish political scum interference in matters that are no concern of the vile and odious rascal that suggested it but, hey, it's a matter of degrees isn't it? Yentob dismissed the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's comments, pointing out it was ITV's choice to move its News At Ten programme in 1999 that led the BBC to 'step in' to fill the slot in the first place. Yentob added that 'everywhere in the world puts news on the hour.' ITV rejigged its schedule in the late 1990s in an attempt to arrest sliding viewing figures. After much lobbying, it gained permission to move its flagship News At Ten programme to a primetime slot and introduce a second, shorter bulletin at 11pm, which was fronted by Dermot Murnaghan. The later programme became known as 'news at when' in the industry because it kept moving around to accommodate other programming. Within six months, the BBC announced a plan to move its 9pm news bulletin to the unguarded 10pm slot. A shorter News At Ten programme then returned to ITV for three nights a week under orders from the regulator, setting the two broadcasters' main news bulletins against each other for the first time. Speaking on Thursday, Yentob said that the then BBC Director General, Greg Dyke's decision to take up the 10pm slot reshaped the TV landscape, leading to one-hour 9pm dramas. Previously, primetime dramas had only lasted fifty minutes.
The Director General of the BBC says that there are 'no plans' to take its children's channels off the air. Tony Hall told a Commons select committee this week: 'We don't have proposals to take CBeebies and CBBC, as channels, out of the environment. We're talking about how we can make sure that the twenty per cent and growing number of young people can use the good things the BBC can offer.' There had been speculation in the press - if not anywhere that actually matters - that the channels could be cut. In a speech last week, Lord Hall announced the creation of a children's iPlayer, called iPlay, but also - in another part of the same speech - said that funding cuts could mean the loss or reduction of 'some services.' And so, naturally, some people with an agenda have put two and two together and got nineteen. Reports had appeared afterwards in certain newspapers suggesting that children's services 'may be moved online.' A story appeared in the Independent claimed that 'panicked parents' have 'launched a petition to save CBeebies in response to news the BBC is considering axing its toddler and pre-school channel.' When, it would seem, no such plans exist or anything even remotely like it. Lord Hall had previously described the recent agreement by the BBC to cover the six hundred million quid cost of providing free television licences for over-seventy fives - something the BBC neither wanted, nor asked for - as 'a tough deal.' He said that it would require 'some very difficult choices' to be made. Speaking on Tuesday to MPs at a select committee hearing about the BBC's annual report, Lord Hall also said that after buying in talent show The Voice - a format created abroad - he would like the BBC to be responsible for its next big entertainment hit. 'My ambition is that the next time we have a big entertainment format on the BBC, it will be made in-house,' he told MPs. 'I hope we find a hit from our in-house stable. That's my aspiration.' He also said tat he did not consider resigning after the government transferred the cost of free TV licences for the over-seventy fives to the BBC. 'To resign and walk away might make me feel very good, but my job is to get the best deal for the BBC,' he told MPs. Former Director General Mark Thompson did reportedly threaten to quit when the government made the same proposal in 2010 - a move Lord Hall said he felt was 'damaging' to the BBC. Thompson's licence fee settlement 'was worse than this deal,' he argued. 'We had to absorb half-a-billion pounds of costs [in 2010]. So it was considerably worse.' The new agreement with the government means the BBC will be 'cash flat', Lord Hall said.

Tony Hall used a speech on Thursday to try to fight off the possibility of so-called 'top slicing' the licence fee and called on the government to stick to the pre-budget funding agreement in which the BBC took on the cost of free TV licences for the over-seventy fives. Hall said that top-slicing was 'not a good idea in principle or practice' and that he would regard any attempt to impose it as a 'reopening' of the pre-budget funding agreement made between the BBC and the Treasury in July. 'Delivering the agreement means not fragmenting the licence fee through top-slicing,' he told the Royal Television Society. 'It substitutes public money for private money, it is allocated by committees rather than commissioners. It is subject to lobbying rather than audiences. And it weakens accountability and transparency. So let me make it clear for the record that any suggestion of top-slicing or reduction in our ability to make commercial returns would be seen by us as reopening the agreement.' The BBC boss also described BBC Worldwide – which helps exploit Top Gear, Doctor Who, Sherlock and Strictly Come Dancing internationally – as an 'indivisible' part of the BBC and said that it would launch a new on-demand service showcasing BBC content in the US. He also signalled that the BBC could be prepared to accept replacing the TV licence fee with a levy on every household. 'The government's option for a household fee merits further consideration because it could bring new investment and safeguard the BBC's support for the creative economy for the long term.' The universal household levy, based on the German model, could potentially include concessions for single occupancy households, introducing a council tax-style progressive element and was one of the options outlined in the government's Green Paper on the future of the BBC. Hall said that without BBC Worldwide, which has been criticised for not returning more money to the corporation, the licence fee would be a tenner a year higher. Hall said the 'proposal to carve out BBC Worldwide from the BBC doesn't make economic sense … breaking up a system that is delivering returns that are essential to support public service programmes.' He said that commercial returns from BBC Worldwide would grow fifteen per cent to £1.2bn over the next five years and quoted The Thick Of It creator Armando Iannucci, who said last month the BBC should not 'be icky and modest about making money.'

Ex-Channel Four chairman Luke Johnson (no, me neither) has called on the BBC to stop showing 'popular' programming like EastEnders and The Voice. Why the BBC should want to do that, how the viewers of these two - very - popular formats would feel about such a move and what the hell it has to do with this Johnson bloke, are three questions probably well worth asking at this point. Johnson waded into the ongoing licence fee debate while speaking to the House of Lords communication committee, saying that giving up 'some popular shows' to competitors wouldn't 'diminish the BBC at all.' Which is clearly a load of bollocks spoken by some louse with utterly odious self-interest and sinister agenda smeared all over their disgusting mush an inch thick. So, no change there, then. 'I do struggle with the idea that the BBC commissions and broadcasts programmes that would clearly be shown by unsubsidised rivals,' Johnson argued. Do you, mate? Do you really 'struggle.' Well, that's probably because you've got a brain the size of wart, like as not and, as a consequence are as thick as stinking pig's shat. Just a suggestion. 'If you keep the licence fee, which I'm not sure in the medium or long term is a good idea, it should reduce its output at least to programmes that others aren't making and commissioning. They broadcast The Voice in a prime slot because they want to gain as broad a support as possible for its future. The idea that no one else would show that is a joke, it's ludicrous, it's obviously nonsense.' Johnson went on to suggest that 'non-education programming', like EastEnders and The Voice should not fall under the BBC's remit. Which, let us recall, is - and has been since the 1930s - to educated, to inform and to entertain.' Quite why these two shows in particular, and many others the BBC make, don't fit, very comfortably, into the latter category, this risible clown Johnson did not say. Which is a pity as one is sure it would have been worth listening to. 'I don't see why a regressive tax should fund programmes that could be funded without subsidy,' Johnson continued. 'The Voice is one, EastEnders is another, admittedly made in-house,' the executive said. Yes, since 1984 in the case of the latter. Johnson served as chairman of Channel Four from 2004 to 2010. When it was shit and its most watched programme was Big Brother. 'nuff said. Back in your box, you jumped-up waste-of-space pipsqueak, we'll let you know when you can come out again. Jesus, further proof if any were needed that some people are just bloody scum, dear blog reader.
The head of the National Union of Journalists has said that its members are prepared to strike 'as and when needed' against cuts caused by the BBC's funding deal agreed in July. In an interview with the Gruniad Morning Star, NUJ general secretary Red Michelle Stanistreet got aal stroppy and militant and said that union representatives 'made it clear' at a meeting on Wednesday that they were prepared to 'take strike action to defend jobs and to defend members at risk.' The statement is the strongest indication yet that the BBC will face stiff opposition from the union if it decides news programming will be pared back to help make up the seven hundred million smackers cost of providing free licence fees to the over-seventy fives. Stanistreet said that Tony Hall 'should have stood up to the government' when it proposed the 'shabby, stitched-up deal. The very straightforward thing to do in the face of unacceptable governmental pressure and interference would be to say "fuck off, do your worst, we’ll fight that,"' she said. Red Michelle also criticised local newspaper groups for claiming that BBC coverage was undermining their ability to survive, saying: 'Anybody who believes that the crisis that has been facing local and regional newspapers in the UK is a consequence of the BBC's commitment to quality content or public service broadcasting as an ethos is living in cloud cuckoo land.' You go, girl! One of the BBC's most strident critics in the local press – Ashley Highfield – is on the grubby panel 'advising' the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale on the government's approach to BBC royal charter renewal, which is expected to look at all aspects of the corporation's activities. Hall has attempted to placate regional media by offering to share resources, including journalists, with local newspapers. However, Red Michelle said that the offer was 'foolhardy. The devil is going to be in the detail, which is not available as yet, but I would be deeply concerned about the BBC funding reporters to work for commercial newspaper groups, who should be funding proper quality local coverage themselves.' Stanistreet – who has held senior positions at the NUJ since 2006 – said that proposals to reform laws governing union activity will make illegal strikes 'inevitable. It's the biggest assault on trade unions that has ever taken place in this country,' she said. 'The bill is, in some ways, beyond parody. It would make taking lawful industrial action nigh-on impossible. It transfers all the leverage and power to the employers. And, frankly, it'll make unlawful strike action and industrial action an inevitable consequence.'

The chief executive of Channel Five owner Viacom said that the broadcaster would be given 'a double-digit budget' increase in the year ahead with plans to increase its news programming and an overhaul of its on-screen brand. So, ten quid, in that case. Philippe Dauman said last year's purchase of Channel Five from soft-core pornographer Richard Desmond for four hundred and fifty million knicker was 'a huge leap forward' for the international ambitions of the MTV and Nickelodeon parent company. With the future of the BBC under scrutiny, Dauman said he had 'a lot of respect' for the corporation but said 'more scrutiny' was required if it went into areas where 'commercial media companies have invested a lot, if it goes into starting a new music network.' The first US company to own a UK public service broadcaster, Dauman said: 'We said we would increase investment in original content, we have and we will continue to do so. The programme budget for Channel Five will see a double-digit increase again in 2015-16.' Dauman told the Royal Television Society conference in Cambridge on Wednesday that the company would 'refresh' Channel Five's on-air brand and 'beef up' its news service. In recent years, Channel Five's news has failed to match the profile it once gained when its then news anchor, Kirsty Young, first perched on a desk nearly twenty years ago.
Michaela Strachan - remember her? - has said that The Great British Bake Off makes her 'sick' and called its celebration of sweet things 'obsessive and obscene.' And, this utter trivia constitutes 'news', apparently.
Bargain Hunt host Tim Wonnacott has reportedly been suspended from the show after an alleged 'disagreement' with producers. Whether there was a geet rive-on, punches were thrown or a steak - or lack of it - was involved in this 'disagreement', we just don't know. The presenter and antiques expert is believed to have had 'a showdown' with 'BBC bosses' on Friday 11 September and, according to the very reliable and trustworthy Sun, the decision was taken to suspend him, 'pending an investigation.' Wonnacott has hosted the BBC1 daytime show since 2003. A BBC spokesperson said: 'Tim is not currently in production on Bargain Hunt and we are using guest presenters. We wouldn't comment on individual staff matters.' The presenter, who competed in Strictly Come Dancing last year, posted a picture of himself on Twitter last week outside BBC headquarters, captioned: 'Outside Broadcasting House in London today for a dawn (well not quite) meeting.'
Yer actual Jezza Paxman is to front an end-of-year show on Channel Four in a return to the format he launched for their 'alternative election night' programme with comedian David Mitchell. Channel Four confirmed that the grumpy old former Newsnight presenter - and national treasure - had agreed to front the show, which is expected to include the same mix of serious news delivered in an occasionally acerbic or light-hearted way as the 7 May outing. The channel is understood to hope to reunite the anchor with Mitchell and other election night guests such as Pointless presenter Richard Osman though no other names are confirmed as yet. Producers Zeppotron hope that the show will be more than a one-off, though Channel Four has not yet committed to more than the end-of-year review. Although the BBC dominated the election night audience, Channel Four's Alternative show was the most watched election coverage on any commercial channel, with a peak audience of 2.4 million, or twelve per cent of viewers, at 10pm and the average across the night was around 1.1 million. Including interviews with the stars of Channel Four's Gogglebox, the channel is most proud of the fact that the show was the most watched channel for sixteen- to thirty four-year-olds between 9pm and 1am. However, its unusual mix of a man known for his savaging of politicians with a current affairs comedian and writer did not win universal praise. The Gruniad Morning Star's Stuart Heritage called it 'the evening's most unequivocal horror: Jeremy Paxman playing for LOLs.' The Torygraph's Michael Deacon called the pairing 'an unusual double act' and added that 'Paxman seemed to be enjoying himself. But it was mildly depressing to see the great man reduced to an imitation Angus Deayton.' Paxo presented his last edition of Newsnight in June 2014 after twenty five years fronting the programme. Since leaving he has done a stand-up show in Edinburgh and continues to present BBC2's long-running quiz University Challenge in his own unique - and often terrifying - way. After outing himself as 'a one-nation Tory', he was reportedly approached to become the Conservative candidate for the London mayoral election but he turned them down. Paxo went on to say that his political leanings put him 'at odds' with the production team of Newsnight which he said was run by a bunch of 'thirteen-year-olds.'

The head of the US network behind hit shows such as Mad Men and Breaking Bad has criticised the use of data to pick shows, calling it 'a goddamm disaster.' Josh Sapan, chief executive of AMC Networks, said that so-called 'data mining' was useful for marketing and promotion but not in making creative decisions. Although he failed to mention any rival firms in his comments, made at the RTS TV festival in Cambridge, Amazon and Netflix are both companies known for using data to inform decisions. 'Others have tried mining data to use it to say good show, bad show or this story, that story. I've never seen it work terribly well. You can't number your way to greenlighting a show and you can't get data that shows you how to fix a story. Numbers are not knowledge; that particularly applies in the creative sphere.' Adding that AMC had 'a business analytics department' which 'provides an awful lot of insight', he added: 'Where the data flies well versus not well, it flies extremely well on the promotion and marketing side. How to spend money and how to reach people.' AMC, which last year signed a joint venture with BBC Worldwide over BBC America, heaped praise on the British broadcaster, which Sapan credited with leading the way for a shift towards high-quality shows in the US. 'You guys are the Godfathers of soul, you've been at that playbook for longer,' he said. He named Luther, Broadchurch, Top Gear and the AMC/BBC joint venture The Honourable Woman as 'great programmes.' He poured scorn on those fixated by scheduling, before showing a comedy sketch on the power of binge watching. 'You can't dictate to people where to go. You'd just better hurry up and have the right stuff. If you don't, no amount of clout or scale will work.' AMC, which owns several cable channels and has a turnover of £2.4bn, is far smaller than the big four media companies in the US but Sapan suggested that ideas rather than acquisitions were the best way to grow. 'If you don't have the stuff, no amount of scale, scope or weaponry, you'd better be the best candidate.' The four biggest studios all rejected Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, while Mad Men was reportedly turned down for being 'a bit quiet.' Social media was 'truly democratising' as it could make a hit out of a show from a tiny group with little marketing spend, Sapan said. Talking about the US market, he added that subscription numbers were 'maturing', while viewing was 'moving away from linear channels' towards streaming. 'It's pretty big evolution rather than revolution. It's not fireworks, people haven't thrown their big TVs out of the window.' Citing the value of owning content rather than leasing content, Sapan said wholly owned shows such as The Walking Dead were 'far more profitable.'

New pictures have been released from the New Horizons probe's fly-by of Pluto. The spacecraft began a year-long data dump last weekend, allowing scientists to resume their analysis of the far-off little world's intriguing terrains. The latest set of images includes what appear to be dune features, carved valleys and ice floes. Mission researchers got only a brief preview of data immediately after the 14 July encounter. The return of imagery is now pretty much constant. This means that the team will in future be releasing images - and their interpretation of them - on a regular basis. It promises to be fascinating, says principal investigator Alan Stern. 'Pluto is showing us a diversity of landforms and complexity of processes that rival anything we've seen in the solar system,' the Southwest Research Institute scientist said in a statement. 'If an artist had painted this Pluto before our fly-by, I probably would have called it over the top - but that's what is actually there.' New Horizons acquired a mass of observations when it screamed past the planet two months ago and most of that information is still stored on board on the tiny spacecraft. A few compressed pictures were returned to Earth immediately after the fly-by as a taster. But this was followed by something of a hiatus as the probe continued gathering science and concentrated on returning non-image data, such as counts of energetic particles and space dust. Now the mission has moved into a new phase, which involves the downlink of the full, stored data-set, but without the earlier high compression. However, the vast distance to New Horizons' current location – some 4.9 billion kilometres away from Earth – means that it will take until late in 2016 to get everything it has collected back to mission control. An obvious highlight in the new image batch is the detection of a field of dark, aligned ridges, which look like wind-blown dunes. Pluto's atmosphere is considerably thinner than Earth's, with a pressure at the surface about ten thousand times lower. How it can generate winds of sufficient force to move particles remains a major puzzle. 'Seeing dunes on Pluto - if that is what they are - would be completely wild, because Pluto's atmosphere today is so thin,' explained Bill McKinnon, a senior scientist on the mission from Washington University. 'Either Pluto had a thicker atmosphere in the past, or some process we haven't figured out is at work. It's a head-scratcher.' NASA recently selected a potential target for New Horizons to visit next. Known as 2014 MU69, the forty five kilometres wide icy object is a billion and a half kilometres beyond the orbit of Pluto. Course correction manoeuvres are needed in October and November to line-up the probe for what would be another fly-by. New Horizons is not expected to get to 2014 MU69 until 2019.

Oh, and if you only do one thing on the Internet this week, dear blog reader - besides reading this blog, obviously - check out this absolutely staggering video about the scale of the solar system. It will, trust yer actual Keith Telly Topping, blow you mind.
Swiss prosecutors will investigate a FFIA contract for media rights to the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, officials have said. The probe follows a news report that FIFA sold the rights for rates 'below market value' to a Caribbean football organisation. FIFA claimed that the agreement with the Caribbean group promised FIFA 'much more than the up-front fee.' US and Swiss officials also reported on a wider FIFA inquiry. Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber told a press conference this week that prosecutors would look at the rights contract 'to see if it is really valuable [to the investigation] or not.' He added that the probe as a whole was still progressing. 'Clearly we are not even near the half-time break,' he said. Oh, how arch. The latest Swiss probe involves a 2005 contract to televise the 2010 and 2014 World Cups in parts of the Caribbean. Swiss broadcaster SRF reported on Friday that FIFA signed over the media rights to the Caribbean Football Union for six hundred thousand dollars. It said that the odious Jack Warner, head of the CFU at the time, then transferred the rights to his own company and resold them in a deal worth between fifteen and twenty million dollars. SRF posted excerpts of the contract on its website which appeared to show that soon-to-be-former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter and Warner - both of whom are, obviously, not entirely corrupt and morally bankrupt gangsters - signed it themselves. FIFA said in a statement that the CFU had 'promised' it more than the upfront fee, and that FIFA was to receive half of any profits related to subcontracting the rights. The organisation also claimed that it terminated the contract in 2011 after the CFU 'failed to meet its financial obligations' or follow subcontracting requirements. Lauber said that his office had received 'an explanation' - of sorts - from FIFA, which would 'be considered.' The odious Warner, who left organised football in 2011 (shortly before he was due to be thrown out), has said in the past that he had evidence he was granted World Cup television rights in his region a number of times, including for the 2010 and 2014 events, in return for allegedly 'securing votes' for Blatter's campaigns for FIFA president. He claimed that the money made from media rights was used 'to develop Caribbean football.' FIFA has dismissed Warner's claims as false and said that television rights had nothing do with Blatter's election campaigns. One of two people even believed them. Blatter has not, yet, been accused of any specific misconduct by either Swiss or US authorities. Key word, yet. In June a key figure in South Africa's football World Cup bid broke ranks with the government to suggest there 'might be some truth' to a claim that a ten million smackers 'bribe' was paid to secure the 2010 tournament for the country. In the same month fourteen people were indicted on corruption charges by US authorities. Nine of them were FIFA officials and five were corporate executives. Also in June, Swiss prosecutors said that they were investigating fifty three cases of possible money laundering as part of an inquiry into bidding for the 2018 and 2022 Fifa World Cups. Russia and Qatar, which are scheduled to hold the tournaments, have denied any misconduct. Well, they would, wouldn't they?

Meanwhile, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke unsuccessfully tried to secure a pay-off of several million pounds before his suspension. Valcke was extremely 'put on leave' on Thursday of this week after allegations emerged that he was 'implicated' in a scheme to sell World Cup tickets. Valcke, who denies any wrongdoing, has three years left on his contract at football's world governing body. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has told colleagues that he will not leave Switzerland during investigations. FIFA has been engulfed by claims of widespread corruption, greed and generally sour and rotten doings since May, when Swiss police raided a hotel in Zurich and arrested seven of its top executives. United States officials have since indicted those seven and two other FIFA officials on bribery and racketeering charges. Newspaper allegations on Thursday implicated Frenchman Valcke in a scheme to sell World Cup tickets for above face value. He now faces a formal investigation by FIFA's ethics committee. It is understood that Valcke, who has held the position since 2007, wanted to be paid out in full for the remainder of his deal. A senior FIFA official described Valcke's demands as 'ludicrous.' Which, coming from someone in FIFA means it really must be. Valcke's predecessor, Urs Linsi, was reportedly given a pay-off worth £3.6m. Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, who is standing in next February's presidential election, said in a statement: 'The reputational damage to FIFA continues. Surely it is time for a new generation with new ideas to take over? The old regime should step aside now, so a new team can effect a complete reform of the organisation to reflect the change that the national associations and fans of the game around the world are calling for.' Valcke, who last month claimed that he, himself, was considering standing for the FIFA presidency, is Blatter's number two at the organisation. Blatter, who announced that he would stand down just days after winning re-election in June, has e-mailed FIFA staff saying THAT the organisation can recover from this 'difficult situation' and 'restore its reputation for the good of the game.' The seventy nine-year-old stated in July he would not take 'travel risks' until his own legal position was clarified. In that same month he attended the 2018 World Cup qualifying draw in St Petersburg. Blatter was due to be in Moscow on Friday to attend a celebration marking one thousand days until the start of the Russian World Cup, but opted to stay in Zurich. FIFA 'sources' have allegedly told the BBC that Blatter has been advised by his US lawyers to stay in Switzerland. The decision not to go to Moscow is believed to be unrelated to any fear of arrest as Russia has no bilateral extradition treaty with the US. Earlier on Thursday, Eugenio Figueredo, one of the seven officials arrested in May, had his extradition to the United States approved. FIFA has recently set up a taskforce to tackle corruption which aims to 'restore the integrity and reputation' of the organisation.

The Whom (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s, you might've heard of them) have postponed all of the dates on the US leg of their fiftieth anniversary tour, after Roger Daltrey was diagnosed with viral Meningitis. The veteran British rock duo had already postponed four dates due to Daltrey's 'mystery virus.' A statement on the band's website said: 'After extensive tests the seriousness of his condition became apparent,' adding that doctors had 'prescribed rest.' Roe and Pete apologised to fans - although, obviously one hopes most of them would have understand entirely - and said that Daltrey was 'on the mend.' They added that they had hoped The Who Hits Tour! tour would go ahead, as Daltrey was 'getting better' and they did not want to inconvenience ticket holders, with the dates being rescheduled for the Spring of 2016. 'It wasn't a decision taken lightly,' said the statement. 'The Who always give their fans one hundred per cent and were never going to compromise the show, but ultimately the band had no alternative but to postpone the tour.' The statement added that Daltrey had been 'especially disappointed' to miss the Teen Cancer America benefit in Los Angeles, a charity he and the band have worked tirelessly for. 'We are very sorry to disappoint our fans in this way,' said The Whom, who headlined Glastonbury and the British Summertime festival in Hyde Park earlier this year. 'For the last four weeks, I have been in and out of the hospital and have been diagnosed with viral Meningitis,' Roge revealed. 'I am now on the mend and feeling a lot better but I am going to need a considerable time to recover. The doctors tell me I will make a complete recovery, but that I should not do any touring this year.' Pete Townshend also apologised to fans 'that have supported us in the last fifty years.' He added: 'Once Roger is completely well we will come back stronger than ever and Roger and I will give you all a show to remember.'
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping this week picked up a copy of The Silence Of The Lambs on DVD for nine pence on Amazon, dear blog reader (plus £1.30 postage, obviously). That's rather made his week, frankly. It doesn't take much, to be honest.
On a somewhat-related note, largely because he's been suffering from a massive Hannibal withdrawal over the last couple of weeks, yer actual Keith Telly Toppng has been re-reading Red Dragon again for probably the first time since he bought the novel in 1990ish. It stands up pretty well, I have to say, although it suffers from exactly the same problem that A Study In Scarlet does; you're just getting really into it and then there's a sodding great flashback taking up fifty pages and by the time that's finished, you've kind of forgotten what Will Graham (or Sherlock Holmes for that matter) was doing beforehand. This blogger is willing to bet that's the first time someone has done a literary deconstruction of Thomas Harris and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the same sentence. Unless, of course, anyone knows different.

And, speaking of Red Dragon, some utter genius has now cut together the three versions of the 'he's a shy boy,' Will' scene from Manhunter, Red Dragon and Hannibal, in a sequence this blogger likes to call The Three Hannibals. So, here's Brian Cox (no, the other one), yer actual Sir Anthony Hopkins, Mads Mikkelsen, a very young William Petersen, Edward Norton and Hugh Dancy his very self, seamlessly interwoven, as if by magic, or video trickery. To the chap what done it, Chapeau!
And now, dear blog reader, the first three entries in a new From The North feature Wot Keith Telly Topping Thinks Is The Best Thing They Ever Dun, And That. Number one: Vic & Bob in The Club.
Wot Keith Telly Topping Thinks Is The Best Thing They Ever Dun, And That. Number two: Stephen & Hugh in Peter & John. (Not counting Qi and House, obviously.)
Wot Keith Telly Topping Thinks Is The Best Thing They Ever Dun, And That. Number three: Paul Whitehouse's finest one minute and forty three seconds in The Football Manager Sketch.
Sixty years ago this week, ITV was born with a star-studded launch in London. But, Britain's first commercial TV broadcast was overshadowed by a BBC radio soap - and the star at the centre of the plot has now revealed the truth about what happened. Who killed Grace? the Daily Scum Express demanded on its front page on 23 September 1955. And Was It Just Coincidence It Happened On ITV Night? Grace was Grace Archer, who had been heard perishing in a stable fire in BBC radio serial The Archers the previous night. The glamorous young wife of Phil Archer, played by Ysanne Churchman, was one of the soap's main characters. Eight million people heard her dramatic demise. Afterwards, distraught listeners flooded the BBC switchboard and vented their grief in newspaper letters pages. The daft planks. 'The Archers are like members of the family,' wrote Mrs D Hall of Burton-on-Trent to the Daily Mirra. 'This "death" has brought a sense of grief to me that not even the thought "it's just a play" can quite erase.' Mrs Botterill from Kettering declared: 'At first I couldn't believe my ears. "Grace Archer dead?" I said to my husband. "She mustn't be!" Then I felt quite cold and had to put my woolly on.' Oh, grow up. A correspondent identified as 'SW from Balham',whinged: 'I thought I was in for a lively party when I was invited next door for the first night of ITV. Instead it was like a house of mourning because Grace Archer had been "killed off" in that radio serial at 7pm.' That must have been music to the ears of the BBC top brass, for they had, of course, deliberately timed Grace's downfall to sabotage the launch of ITV. Fifteen minutes after Grace's shocking death was heard across the country, a sequence showing sweeping shots of London landmarks, accompanied by a rousing voice-over, went on-air on TV's channel nine. This was the new ITV. The opening sequence was followed by live coverage of a seven-course banquet from London's Guildhall, then a variety show featuring Hughie Green and Elizabeth Allan. After that, there was drama performed by the leading actors and actresses in the land - The Importance Of Being Earnest with Dame Edith Evans and Sir John Gielgud; and Baker's Dozen with Alec Guinness and Pamela Brown. Then there was boxing, a fashion show and more variety. The first night was only available to those with TV sets in London and home counties and around one hundred thousand punters were estimated to have tuned-in. The coming of independent television was highly controversial. BBC founder Lord Reith was aghast at the breaking of the corporation's monopoly and feared it would bring an invasion of an American-style commerciality. 'Somebody introduced dog-racing into England,' he said. 'And somebody introduced smallpox, bubonic plague and the black death. Somebody is minded now to introduce sponsored broadcasting into this country. Need we be ashamed of moral values, or of intellectual and ethical objectives? It is these that are here and now at stake.' In public, the BBC denied that it had intended to try to smother its new rival at birth. One or two people even believed them! The official explanation for Grace Archer's headline-grabbing death was that the show had 'too many characters' and they needed to get rid of one. 'We knew some major person must go out to leave other situations possible,' Mr Morris, the head of BBC Midland regional programmes, told a press conference afterwards. But, as the Daily Scum Express suggested, that was 'not the full story.' Earlier that year, H Rooney Pelletier, controller of the BBC Light Programme, had written a memo saying: 'The more I think about it, the more I believe that a death of a violent kind in The Archers, timed, if possible, to diminish interest in the opening of commercial television in London, is a good idea.' And so, there was a violent death on the night of ITV's launch and Grace was the victim. But one question remained. Why specifically Grace? Or - more to the point - why Ysanne Churchman? There were rumours that Churchman had been involved in a pay dispute with the corporation and had brought in actors' union Equity on her behalf. But no-one involved would confirm the story. 'Was Grace Archer coldly and calmly murdered - to rid The Archers of Ysanne Churchman?' the Daily Mirra asked. 'The BBC know the facts. So does Equity. And, of course, so does Ysanne Churchman. But, dead girls can tell no tales.' That phrase has now been borrowed for the title of a BBC Radio 4 docudrama about these events, which was broadcast on Saturday. At the conclusion of Saturday's drama, Churchman herself - now aged ninety - spoke to finally resolve the mystery of why her character was killed off. It was 'victimisation because I'd been to Equity to get my fees put right', she claimed. She wanted the same pay as her male co-stars, and for actors to be in the union. The Archers creator Godfrey Basley as a consequence wanted her out. As completely and painfully as possible. 'But don't feel too sorry for me,' Ysanne continued. 'In some ways Godfrey Baseley may even have done me a favour. They say that when one door shuts another opens. And on the very night Grace died, ITV started, and immediately needed people with just exactly my experience to voice the commercials. And so I was able to make a good living from voice-overs for years.' For ITV's fiftieth anniversary in 2005, Churchman sent a card of congratulations to the broadcaster's chairman, signed from Grace Archer. 'I hope he appreciated the joke because I've sent another one this year too,' she said. 'For me, for The Archers and for so many listeners even today, Grace - the character, the sensation of her death, the claims and counter-claims, the myth-making - mean that she's never really died. A good story never does. The legend of Grace will live on, and I must say that I really feel quite proud to have been part of it.'

A recording of a phone call in which Sir Elton John was tricked into thinking President Vladimir Putin had called him to discuss gay rights, has been broadcast on Russian TV. Vladimir Krasnov and Alexei Stolyarov phoned the singer after he told BBC News he wanted to meet The Butcher Of Grozny to discuss gay rights in Russia. And Putin's love of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Madman Across The Water. Probably. During their call, one of the pair played the part of the balding and somewhat ludicrous dictator, speaking in Russian, while the other allegedly 'translated' his remarks. Earlier, the Kremlin had firmly denied that Putin contacted Sir Elt who had told the press he wanted to talk to Putin about gay rights and his 'ridiculous' stance. Later, a message on the musician's Instagram account thanked Putin for 'reaching out' in a phone conversation. But a Kremlin spokesman said that no such conversation between the two men had taken place - and hinted that the call could have been a hoax. Of course, you know what aggressive homophobia really says about someone and what they're hiding,don't you?
The woman who played the medical assistant Kes in the first three season of Star Trek: Voyager has been arrested for indecent exposure. Jennifer Ann Lien, forty one, was arrested at her home in Harriman on 3 September. Deputies said that Lien had an active warrant in Roane County on two counts of exposing herself to a child under the age of thirteen. Roane County Sheriff's Office was initially delivering a Detainer Summons. When they visited Lien's house, her front door was open. After knocking on the door, she reportedly told the deputies to come in. Deputies said that Lien was naked on her couch, covered by a blanket. She told the deputies that she was expecting them. Then dispatch told the deputies that Lien had an active warrant from the Harriman City Police Department. When they told her about the warrant, she said they needed to leave her alone, saying she wasn't going any expletive-where. The two deputies repeatedly asked Lien to put some clothes on, eventually calling for a female deputy to help her cover her nakedness and her shame. They said Lien told them she would have all of them 'shot and killed.' By the Klingons, presumably. Eventually, deputies said they put Lien in handcuffs, putting a shirt and pants from the jail on her. They said that she refused to walk to the patrol car and they had to carry her, before driving to the Roane County Detention Center. Lien's bail was set at two thousand five hundred dollars. Lien has a criminal history which includes aggravated assault, resisting arrest, evading arrest and reckless endangerment on 17 April by the Harriman Police Department. On 4 June 2012 she was also arrested for domestic assault in Roane County. For three seasons, Lien played Kes on the - not very good - science fiction television series Star Trek: Voyager. She left the show during season four, making a return guest appearance two seasons later.
Facebook is set to add a 'dislike' button to its social network, founder Mark Zuckerberg has said. In a Q&A session held at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, the thirty one-year-old multi-billionaire said that the button would be a way for people to 'express empathy.' Or just plain dislike. Obviously. He said that Facebook was 'very close' to having the button ready for user testing. A 'dislike' button has been constantly requested by many Facebook users since the introduction of the 'like' button in 2009. 'People have asked about the "dislike" button for many years,' Zuckerberg told the audience on Tuesday. 'Probably hundreds of people have asked about this, and today is a special day because today is the day that I actually get to say we are working on it, and are very close to shipping a test of it.' However he went on to say he did not want it to be a mechanism with which people could 'down vote' others' posts. Although in all likelihood, that's exactly what it will be used for. Because, you know, people are - generally - like that. Instead, Zuckerberg suggested, it will be for times when clicking 'like' on 'sad' posts felt insensitive. Like, you know 'I regret to announce my mother died today.' 'Like.' Et cetera.

The art critic Brian Sewell has died aged eighty four, it has been confirmed. Sewell was the art critic at the Evening Standard for more than thirty years, and was known for his outspoken, often controversial views. And for being a camp old queen but, a frequently very entertaining one at that. He will be missed. Sewell was known for his sharp, acerbic wit and for not being a big fan of modern artists such as Damien Hirst, who he called 'fucking dreadful' and Banksy, who he claimed 'should have been put down at birth.' Although Sewell first appeared on Radio 4 in the early 1990s, it was not until the late 1990s that he became a household figure through his frequent appearances on television. He was known for his formal, old-fashioned RP diction and for his anti-populist sentiments and withering put-downs. He offended people in Gateshead by claiming an exhibition was 'too important' to be held at the town's new Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and should instead be shown to 'more sophisticated' audiences in London (although, to be fair, he was later invited to the North East for a TV show and was highlighy complimentary of Newcastle and Gateshead on that occasion). He has also disparaged Liverpool as 'a cultural city.' In a 2009 BBC documentary about the North-South Divide, presented by the ex-Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, Sewell declared that the 'solution' to such a divide was to send 'a pox or a plague upon the North' so that the people there 'can all just die quietly.' Clive Anderson once described Brian as 'a man intent on keeping his Christmas card list nice and short!' He had been suffering from cancer and had an operation to remove a tumour from his neck in 2014. In a 2012 interview with the BBC he said that art was something 'that brings people like me to life' and added that he became an art critic 'by accident.' Sewell, who was born on 15 July 1931, said it was his mother who imbued him, as a four year old, with a love of art, taking him to the National Gallery. His father, the composer Peter Warlock, took his own life before Brian was born. Brought up in London, he later studied for a degree in art history from the Courtauld Institute, where he was tutored by the art historian - and, Soviet spy - Anthony Blunt. Sewell began his career at Christie's auction house in the 1950s and had many artist friends, including Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Salvador Dali. 'It was after the Blunt affair and I had achieved a certain unwanted notoriety and Tina Brown, who was just reviving Tatler, wanted an art critic and thought I might be it,' he said. Although Brian always denied that he and Blunt were intimate, it was Sewell who helped his mentor flee the press in 1979 when his being 'The Fourth Man' in the Burgess-MacLean-Philby Cambridgespy group was revealed. In the process, Brian found himself in the media spotlight for the first time. When asked how he would describe himself, he replied: 'A failure. I wanted to write the great book on Michelangelo and I never got anywhere near it and now it is too late,' he said.

A campaign has been launched calling for a ban on the development of robots which can be used for the purposes of sex. Such a use of the technology is 'unnecessary and undesirable', according to the campaign leader Doctor Kathleen Richardson. Speak for yourself, love. I mean, 'undesirable', possibly, I'll give you that, but 'unnecessary'? I think there's a fair few chaps and ladies that might disagree with you there, Kath. Anyway, perhaps this blogger has said too much ... Sex dolls already on the market are becoming more sophisticated, apparently, and some people - obviously with more time on their hands than is good for them or society in general - are reported to be now 'hoping to build artificial intelligence into their products.' Why? I mean, why for the love of God, why? So it can cuddle you back? Actually, now this blogger comes to think about it, that's probably a pretty good reason. But, I digress. Those working in the field say that there is a 'need' for such robots. Richardson, a 'robot ethicist' - whatever, exactly, that entails - at De Montfort University in Leicester, wants to 'raise awareness of the issue' and persuade those developing sex robots to rethink how their technology is used. Well, it's going to be used for sex, that's pretty much the only thing it can be used for. 'Sex robots seem to be a growing focus in the robotics industry and the models that they draw on - how they will look, what roles they would play - are very disturbing indeed,' she told the BBC. Kath believes that such robots 'reinforce traditional stereotypes' of women and the view that a relationship need be nothing more than physical. Well, yes, there is that. Then again, if somebody creates a vibrator with a personality, one could suggest that mankind would be effectively, erm, fucked. As it were. Especially if it was one that could put up shelves. 'We think that the creation of such robots will contribute to detrimental relationships between men and women, adults and children, men and men and women and women,' Richardson said. All of which goes to show that artificial intelligence in inanimate objects is, probably a jolly bad idea in the greater scheme of things. I mean, imagine a pair of shoes with souls. Sorry.

A researcher has found what is believed to be the earliest written example of the f-word. That's 'fuck' just in case you were wondering or thought it referred to 'flotsum' instead. Paul Booth, a historian at Keele University, found reportedly three examples dating from 1310 and 1311 of a man known in legal documents as 'Roger Fuckebythenavel'. Cool name. Booth said he believes that Rude Roger was not the bearer of a very unfortunate family name but, rather, it was given to him derogatorily. 'This surname is presumably a nickname,' Booth told Medievalists.net. 'I suggest it could either mean an actual attempt at copulation by an inexperienced youth, later reported by a rejected girlfriend, or an equivalent of the word "dimwit," ie, a man who might think that that was the correct way to go about it.' If Roger actually tried to do it in the navel and someone told the world about it, the name could be 'fourteenth-century revenge porn,' Booth told Vice. Booth noted that Roger was before Chester court three times over a nine-month period, and each time his last name was spelled differently: Fuckebythenavele, Fukkebythenavele and, finally, Fuckebythenavel. 'On the first two occasions he was "exacted" (solemnly summoned to attend court to answer a serious criminal charge, which is unspecified) and on the third he was outlawed,' Booth wrote in an abstract, titled 'Roger the incompetent copulator,' that he posted online. 'He was probably never heard of again.' As Booth told the Daily Scum Mail, an outlaw could be 'executed without trial if caught.' Or, indeed, hanged by his coddlings from the bows of a tree. Until now, the oldest known written example of the word fuck was a coded use of the word in the poem Flen flyys, which was dated to around the year 1475. Once decoded, the line read 'fvccant vvivys of heli,' a mix of Latin and Middle English which meant 'they fuck the wives of Ely.' There were some earlier appearances of the word fuck in texts, however none were known to be used in the current context. A 1278 text, for example, referred to someone who appeared to be named 'John Le Fucker.' Which was really unfortunate for poor John. Bet he had it in for his mum and dad. However, medievalist and linguist Kate Wiles wrote in The Huffington Post last year that it was believed to be a misreading of 'Tucker' or a variation of 'fulcher,' meaning a soldier. The Oxford English dictionary currently lists fuck with its current meaning as a word 'of Germanic origins' dating to the Sixteenth Century. Booth told Vice that he had informed the dictionary of his discovery, but doesn't know if the publishers plan to update the listing.

Highly drug-resistant 'super-gonorrhoea' is spreading in the North of England with an outbreak centred in Leeds, sexual health doctors have told the BBC. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping hasn't got it, however, dear blog reader. Oh no. Chance'd be a fine thing, frankly. One of the main treatments for The Clap has become useless against the new strain of the sexually transmitted infection, it reports. Twelve cases have been confirmed in Leeds and a further four have been reported in Macclesfield, Oldham and Scunthorpe. However, there are likely to be more undiagnosed cases. The strain in this outbreak is able to shrug off the antibiotic azithromycin, which is normally used alongside another drug, ceftriaxone. Peter Greenhouse, a consultant in sexual health based in Bristol, told the BBC News website: 'This azithromycin highly resistant outbreak is the first one that has triggered a national alert. It doesn't sound like an awful lot of people, but the implication is there's a lot more of this strain out there and we need to stamp it out as quickly as possible. If this becomes the predominant strain in the UK we're in big trouble, so we have to be really meticulous in making sure each of these individuals has all their contacts traced and treated.'

So, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, here's the sad-but-true story of many people's lives not just Rude Roger and all the Unhappy Clappy sufferers but, this blogger very much included, from The Special AKA.

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