Saturday, October 10, 2015

Before The Flood: You Say You Disturb Me And, You Don’t Deserve Me But, You Know Sometimes You Lie

'I used to be in Military Intelligence. I was demoted for dangling a colleague out of a window.' 'In anger?' 'Is there another way to dangle somebody out of a window?'
'I've had a good innings. This regeneration, it's a bit of a clerical error anyway.'
'You can't cheat time, I just tried. You can't just go back and cut off tragedy at the root.'
'Somehow, I doubt that Rose or Martha or Amy lost their breakfast on their first trip!'
'Finally, someone worth talking to!'
'Didn't need anyone to translate that.'
'You bent the rules of life and death. So I am putting things straight. Here, now, is where your story ends.'
'I was reverse-engineering the narrative!'
'This world is protected. By me.' 'Yes, one man. Lost in time.' Everybody repeat after me, this blogger thought that was great. Especially, the fourth-wall breaking pre-titles sequence. That was really great.

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has spoken about the - almost entirely non-existent - 'backlash' that the media have been reporting surrounding The Doctor's new sonic sunglasses, saying 'sometimes you just have to be heretical.' This 'backlash', incidentally, amounted to about a couple of dozen people with, seemingly, nothing better to do with their time and nothing more important to complain about, whinging on Twitter, just in case you were wondering. Because, as we all know, Twitter is now The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things. According to the Gruniad Morning Star if not anybody that actually, you know, matters. 'Many fans' (for which, as I say, read 'about forty') are, apparently, 'angry' over the disappearance of the Time Lord's sonic screwdriver and its replacement with his new eye-wear. This blogger tends to save getting 'angry' for shit that also actually matters. Maybe these people would like to consider doing the same. The Moffat has defended his decision to introduce the sunglasses for Peter Capaldi's character saying that it's his show and he can do whatever the hell he likes with it and, if anyone doesn't like it they can polish his effing BAFTAs. Well, no, actually, he didn't say that - Steven is far too polite a gentleman to say any such thing. But, I'm not. 'Sometimes you have to be heretical,' he told the BBC. 'Sometimes you actually have to embrace the heresy. And I just thought, really, on a whim, why would The Doctor feel wedded to a screwdriver? Maybe he fancies varying it for a while, maybe he'll pop his sonic glasses on instead. It maybe resurrected the original joke which we've sort of slightly forgotten, that the screwdriver was just a screwdriver that made a noise. It's gradually become this all-purpose everything that looks really cool. It's fun to be naughty. I know some people are incredibly irate about it, and I'm sure the screwdriver will show up again someday. But just to show that we can – why not?' A petition against the sunglasses has been started - no, seriously - by a fan called Jason Irving who, clearly, has nothing better to do with his time and doesn't appear to realise that online petitions have a pretty much zero success rate and only succeed in making those who sign them and, especially, those who organise them look like total prats. Especially in relation to issues that 'normal people' really couldn't give an effing monkey's stuff about. 'The new "wearable technology" that The Doctor has acquired already has engraved itself into the fan's minds. Unsurprisingly, the reception of them has been pretty scathing, a sizeable chunk of fans calling them tacky and gimmicky, and quite a ridiculous,' whinged Jason who is. Oh, fer Christ's sake grow the flip up, sonny, and leave the making of TV programmes to the professionals. Jeez, again, it has to be asked, has everybody taken The Stupid Pill this week, or what?

A Wrexham school teacher convicted of making her own Doctor Who merchandise and then selling it on eBay has been very reprimanded at a disciplinary hearing. Hayley Batley, of St Giles Primary, was given a conditional discharge by a court in November 2014 after admitting to selling and offering trademarked goods. Which is naughty and bad, in case you were wondering. An Education Workforce Council at Ewloe, Flintshire, heard she 'did not realise' what she was doing was wrong. The reprimand will remain on her record for two years. The panel heard on Thursday how Batley was warned by the BBC in June 2013 that she was breaching trademark laws by making and selling her own Doctor Who items. She asked the corporation for clarification, but before it had time to respond, she relisted the items for sale. Further investigations found she was offering more than sixteen hundred trademarked items for sale, including goods connected to The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them), The Rolling Stones (ditto) and James Bond (you know who he is). Setting out the case, Rhiannon Dale told the education panel that Batley told trading standards officers she would not have sold the items if she knew it was wrong. She told them: 'I'm a teacher. Teachers don't do this. You're not supposed to get bloody arrested.' Batley was given a twelve-month sentence at Caernarfon Crown Court in November 2014 after pleading extremely guilty to selling and offering trademarked goods. She was given a final written warning at a disciplinary hearing at her school following her conviction as it was felt her actions were 'prejudicial to the school's name.' John Till, representing Batley, said: 'She really didn't think she was doing anything wrong.' He said that her comments to trading standards officers showed her 'spontaneous reaction' and 'her instinctive appreciation of what should be expected of a teacher.' Hearing chairman Steve Powell said Batley's conduct was 'serious and unacceptable and must not happen again.'

Yer actual Peter Capaldi has joined the ranks of media personalities who have defended the BBC. In a passionate interview with US talk show host Larry King, the current Doctor said he believes the organisation is 'seriously under threat from the government. The BBC is one of the great organisations of the world, the most special, special organisation,' Peter noted. 'I think the government doesn't think that the BBC supports it. [The BBC] is not answerable to shareholders and it entertains ideas - all kinds of ideas about Britain and about history and about the world and about art. I think the government don't want to pay for it. The BBC represents the spirit of the country. It is so important that people don't let this magnificent thing vanish. It is that dangerous.' Capaldi's comments follow The Lord Thy Steven Moffat (OBE)'s equally passionate defence of the beeb last month. The Moffinator claimed that Doctor Who could not have been created by any other broadcaster and that the BBC is 'so madly varied and so genuinely mad.' The Thick Of It's Armando Iannucci also fought back against the organisation's critics by arguing that creative talents just such as The Moffat his very self should be consulted on the future of the corporation. Mark Gatiss recently said that the BBC needs to 'fight back' against being destroyed for those who want to make a profit. Speaking to the Digital Spy website, Gatiss commented: 'It's blindingly obvious, and what the BBC needs to do - and is doing much more of - is just to grow a pair of bollocks and be robust about it and fight back!'
Peter Andre became an unlikely talking point of last Saturday's Doctor Who episode, Under The Lake, when the Time Lord expressed his repulsion for one of the Australian former singer's tunes. 'Two weeks of 'Mysterious Girl' by Peter Andre, I was begging for the brush of death's merciful hand!' The Doctor bemoaned in the episode during a conversation with Clara. However, despite this less than glowing review, Andre himself claimed he was 'thrilled' to get a shout-out on the programme, telling the Digital Spy website: 'Just to be mentioned on Doctor Who is awesome. What a legend. I was so happy! I haven't seen it but I was told about it,' the former singer added.
Incidentally, dear blog reader, this blogger takes it that you all spotted the - several - Star Trek in-jokes which littered the set of Under The Lake? Like this one, fr instance?
The BBC have revealed details on the new Doctor Who LEGO® due to be released on 1 December 2015: 'Created by fan-designer Andrew Clark and selected by LEGO Ideas members, the set is based on the BBC's popular and long-running family SF drama about a Time Lord – The Doctor – exploring the universe in a blue police box.' You knew all that already, right? Thought so. 'Due to trans-dimensional engineering, the TARDIS is bigger on the inside than the outside' - you knew that was well, yes? Okay, just checking - and this 'cool multifunctional set' (it says here) includes the console room that houses all the controls. Gotta say, dear blog reader, it's about thirty years since yer actual Keith Telly Topping's dear old dad, in a moment of utter madness, gave away the massive collection of LEGO bricks this blogger had collected over the previous few years and with which he used to build massive futuristic skyscrapers every Sunday after Shoot! Nevertheless, I'm thinking of getting one of these!
Big Finish have announced a new range of audio adventures in the Doctor Who universe, focusing on the mysterious 'War Doctor', played by yer actual John Hurt, who fought in The Time War. Big Finish's executive producer, Jason Haigh-Ellery his very self said: 'I have been a huge fan of John since first seeing him in the repeats of I, Claudius in the 1980s and in his Oscar-nominated role as the eponymous The Elephant Man. Watching his performance in The Day Of The Doctor I did find myself fantasising that some far off day we might have the chance to work with him on the audio adventures of Doctor Who and now two short years later it's happened! John wove a fantastic character together from a great script by Steven Moffat. Now we have the chance to get to know that character more and hear John stretch in the role. We're all in for a hell of a ride as The War Doctor engages in battle. But who are the greater threat - The Daleks or The Time Lords?' In addition to The War Doctor, November 2017 also sees a prequel box set to the saga Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor — The Time War, which will follow the early stages of The Time War from the Eighth Doctor's perspective. The very marvellous Paul McGann stars, alongside characters first introduced in The War Doctor box sets.
On the eve of the second anniversary of the announcement of their recovery, Fantom Films have revealed a special project to provide commentaries for The Enemy Of The World and The Web Of Fear, the two returned Doctor Who stories starring Patrick Troughton which were released 'vanilla' on DVD and via iTunes. Who Talk! will see some of the cast and crew brought together to discuss the two stories, under the guidance of commentary moderation stalwart the very excellent Toby Hadoke. The commentaries will be released on both CD and download formats and will feature Deborah Watling for both stories, with Enemy also represented by Mary Peach, Milton Johns, Carmen Munroe and Bill Lyons and Web by Ralph Watson, John Levene, and Derek Martin; production reminiscences are provided by Sylvia James and Roger Bunce. In addition, the commentary for the still missing episode three of the latter story will feature former BBC Archivist Sue Malden, who gives insight into the BBC policies of wiping and archiving material, as well as missing television in general.

The Sherlock production team are making their way to MCM London Comic Con later this month. A number of the team, including co-creators The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) and Mark Gatiss his very self, Amanda Abbington and producer Sue Vertue, will host the show's panel. The event is taking place on Saturday 24 October at 2pm. It will give attendees the opportunity to hear more about the upcoming Victorian special, which will be broadcast around Christmas time. A fourth full series consisting of three episodes will begin filming in 2016.
Meanwhile, in case you missed the trailer for the new Sherlock special, which debuted straight after The Great British Bake Off final on Wednesday night here it is again. Cor, tasty.
Doc Martin continued to dominate Monday nights, topping the overnight ratings outside the soaps. The ITV drama was seen by an average overnight audience of 5.87m at 9pm, but still didn't quite manage to pull in as many viewers as the previous week. Earlier, Britain As Seen On ITV brought in 2.85m at 8pm, which was, again, slightly down week-on-week. On BBC1, Edward Snowden: Spies & The Law had 2.2m viewers at 8.30pm and at 9pm Rooney: The Man Behind The Goals drew in 3.26m. Although quite what the hell any of them got out of this crass quasi-hagiography of a young man with, seemingly, the intelligence of a snail is another matter entirely. Scores good goals, mind, I'll give that lad that. But, not one of the great minds of his generation is our Wayne. BBC2's University Challenge attracted 2.82m at 8pm, Only Connect was watched by 2.13m at 8.30pm and The Celts: Blood, Iron, & Sacrifice With Alice Roberts & Neil Oliver had an audience of 1.87m at 9pm. On Channel Four, Jamie's Super Food was seen by 1.04 at 8pm, Food Unwrapped was seen by 1.38m at 8.30pm, The Catch took eight hundred thousand at 9pm and Sex Diaries: Gigolos attracted seven hundred and ten thousand punters in search of The Horn at 10pm. Channel Five's controversial Autopsy: The Final Hours If Heath Ledger was watched by seven hundred and sixty one thousand banal voyeurs at 9pm and the movie The Four Feathers had three hundred and thirty three thousand viewers at 10pm.

The Celts: Blood, Iron & Sacrifice, of course, was fronted by the Goddess of Punk Archaeology Doctor Alice and Scottish Neil (and his lovely hair) in one programme. What do we think, dear blog reader? Someone in the commissioning department at the Beeb has clearly been reading From The North in search of new factual format ideas. I'm only surprised they didn't try to crowbar Janina Ramirez in there as well. Or, Gillian Anderson for that matter.
University Challenge usually manages to teach us some obscure things, just one of the many reasons why around three million punters tune-in every week as regular as clockwork. But Monday's episode had a bigger than usual surprise in store. The penultimate round of the current series saw Queen Mary's College, go head to head with Nuffield College, Oxford and, as Jezza Paxman invited the teams to introduce themselves, Queen Mary's Kate Lynes really did reveal she was studying for an MD in 'sphincter preservation.'
Queen Mary its very self was quick to point inquisitive - or, sniggering - viewers in the right direction, sharing a link which proved just how very important Kate's chosen area of expertise is.
Emmerdale topped Tuesday's overnight ratings with its latest hour-long episode. 5.58m tuned in at 7pm on ITV. EastEnders managed 4.71m at 7.30pm on BBC1. Panorama's controversial investigation into allegations of a Westminster-based paedophile ring attracted 1.9 million overnight viewers. The figure made the show the most-watched on the UK's terrestrial channels in the 10.30pm slot, ahead of the one million tuning into Channel Four's My Transgender Kid. Panorama: The VIP Paedophile Ring included interviews with key witnesses who who have said they were abused by prominent politicians, including former Home Secretary Leon Brittan, over a period spanning decades. The documentary cast doubt on the reliability of some of those claims, including the revelation that one of the witnesses had named individuals after campaigners allegedly suggested 'particular figures' and showed him photographs. The final episode of New Tricks on BBC1 was the most watched programme outside of soaps with an overnight audience of 4.5 million. On ITV at the same time, the return of Lewis attracted 3.17m. But, it was - thoroughly deserved - bad news for ITV's new 'sporting entertanment' format Eternal Glory which could only manage a risibly low 1.68m at 8pm.

The Great British Bake Off became the most-watched TV show of the year on Wednesday with a massive 13.4 million viewers. The 2015 final of the BBC1 bakery show had an audience share of almost fifty five per cent and a five-minute peak of 14.5 million, as Nadiya Hussain beat Tamal Ray and Ian Cumming to the all-important Bake Off trophy. The episode's overnight audience also topped the 2014 final when an average of 12.3 million saw Nancy Birtwhistle crowned the champion. BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore said: 'Event television at its best! The dramatic and emotional final of The Great British Bake Off rose to the occasion and brought the nation together on BBC1.' Doctor Foster benefited from being the following programme, concluding with nearly eight million viewers. The Suranne Jones drama series rose to 7.8 million punters from 9pm. On BBC2, Great British Menu continued with 1.86 million from 7pm. Denis Healey: The Best Prime Minister Labour Never Had? was watched by six hundred and thirty five thousand afterwards and The Face Of Britain By Simon Schama attracted seven hundred and six thousand. It was something of a night to forget for ITV, with All Star Mr & Mrs getting a mere 2.61 million in the 8pm hour, with Midwinter Of The Spirit interesting a mere 1.22 million afterwards. A pity, actually, as the latter's been really rather good. But, as we know, quality is not, necessarily, a guarantee of big numbers. Channel Four's Location, Location, Location appealed to seven hundred and thirty six thousand viewers before Grand Designs drew a very impressive 2.17 million from 9pm, almost twice the number of viewers who were watching ITV at that time and three times the numbers for BBC2. Million Pound Properties was seen by 1.08 million. On Channel Five, Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away averaged 1.23 million (which, again, was fractionally higher than ITV) in the 9pm hour, and Britain's Flashiest Families managed eight hundred and forty nine thousand.
Unforgotten premiered to four-and-a-half million viewers on ITV on Thursday night according to overnight figures. The new - much-trailed - crime drama, starring From The North favourite Nicola Walker along with Grade A stunner of a supporting cast which included Sanjeev Bhaskar, Trevor Eve, Tom Courtenay, Gemma Jones, Hannah Gordon, Cherie Lunghi, Claire Goose, David Troughton  and Bernard Hill, appealed to 4.53 million from 9pm. And, perhaps unsurprisingly given the talent on display, it was very good. Earlier on ITV, Paul O'Grady: For The Love Of Dogs returned to 3.91 million. On BBC1, Watchdog interested 3.75 million viewers from 8pm, and Who Do You Think You Are? featuring yer actual Mark Gatiss attracted 3.15 million at 9pm. BBC2's Great British Menu was watched by 1.94 million in the 7pm hour. It was followed by World's Weirdest Events with 1.48 million. Cradle To Grave and Boy Meets Girl had respective overnight audiences of 1.39 million and eight hundred and forty four thousand, before Mock The Week was watched by 1.28 million from 10pm. On Channel Four, George Clarke's Amazing Spaces drew 1.38 million punters. Hunted continued with 1.1 million from 9pm, and First Dates averaged nine hundred and forty two thousand. Channel Five aired Aircrash: The Miracle Of Flight Thirty Two, which was watched by seven hundred and fourteen thousand, and Chris Tarrant: Extreme Railways by nine hundred and thirty five thousand.
The top-end-of-the-b-list celebrity edition of Gogglebox was Channel Four's most watched overnight show of Friday night. Featuring the likes of Jamie Dornan, Nick Frost and Geri Halliwell, it attracted an average audience of 3.26 million at 9pm. With appearances from Sue Perkins and Five Seconds Of Summer, Alan Carr's Chatty Man pulled in 1.22m at 10.30pm. Earlier that night, The Last Leg was seen by nine hundred and fifty thousand punters. An average audience of 3.97m - the highest of the evening outside of soaps - saw England win their penultimate UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier on ITV. The match, against Estonia, peaked with 4.98 million viewers at 9pm. On BBC1, The ONE Show attracted 3.78m at 7pm, followed by Would I Lie To You? with 3.39 million. Still Open All Hours pulled in 3.06m at 8.30pm, while Charlie Brooker's appearance hosting Have I Got News For You was seen by 3.5m at 9pm. The Kennedys had an overnight audience of 1.99m at 9.30pm and The Graham Norton Show ended the evening with 2.88m at 10.45pm. On BBC2, Great British Menu attracted 1.97m at 7pm, Mastermind was seen by 1.72m at 8pm and at 8.30pm, Gardener's World pulled in 2.1m. The Great British Bake Off: Extra Slice was watched by to 2.14m at 9pm, followed by Patagonia: Earth's Secret Paradise with 1.55m at 9.30pm. On Channel Five, Cats Make You Laugh Out Loud 2 attracted seven hundred and ninety nine thousand viewers at 7pm, while Forty One Dogs In A Three-Bed Semi was seen by 1.08m at 8pm. A triple-bill of NCIS: New Orleans, NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles had audiences of eight hundred and six thousand, seven hundred and sixty nine thousand and four hundred and twenty two thousand respectively.

A total of 4.38 Million viewers watched the latest Doctor Who episode, Before The Flood, according to overnight viewing figures, seven hundred thousand viewers up on the previous episode's overnight figure and considerably helped by a far lower rating for the Rugby World Cup on ITV. This week, with England already out of the competition, an average of just 3.49 million tuned-in to see the host country play Uruguay in a dead rubber. Strictly Come Dancing enjoyed a series high of nearly nine overnight million punters. The BBC1 pro-celebrity dance competition averaged 8.91 million from 6.20pm and a peak of 9.92 million around 7.30pm. Later, Casualty was watched by 4.42 million and The National Lottery Live had 3.43 million. On BBC2, a Dad's Army repeat entertained 1.71 million before the documentary Ted Hughes: Stronger Than Death was watched by four hundred and four thousand at 9pm. If you missed that one, dear blog reader, this blogger urges you to catch it on iPlayer it was properly excellent. ITV's highest audience for the day was for the afternoon World Cup Rugby match, Australia versus Wales at 4.30pm had 4.65 million viewers. Up The Shithole on the other hand struggled with but 1.22m viewers - who should all be sodding well ashamed of themselves for watching such crass rubbish - in its later than usual timeslot of 10:20pm. On Channel Four, Celebrity Benchmark With That Unfunny Professional Northern Berk McGuinness managed a laughably piss-poor three hundred and sixty two thousand from 7pm. Britain's Best Loved Sitcoms was seen by eight hundred and fifty one thousand and At Home With Steph & Dom had 1.2 million at 9pm. Channel Five's Now That's Funny! averaged six hundred and sixty five thousand while Football League Tonight had an audience of two hundred and twenty four thousand. Before the Flood, incidentally, had an audience appreciation index score of eighty three.
Strictly Come Dancing once again came out on top of The X Factor in the overnight ratings battle on Sunday by nearly a million viewers. It wasn't all bad news for Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's singing competition though, as its latest episode rose to a Sunday peak for this current series with an average overnight audience of 7.14m at 7pm on ITV. Strictly averaged 8.09m for its weekly results show at 7.15pm. During the overlap, Strictly peaked at 7.45pm with 8.33m, while The X Factor attracted 6.57m. Elsewhere on ITV, the France versus Ireland game at the Rugby World Cup scored 4.05m at 4.30pm, while Downton Abbey rose slightly from the previous week's episode to 7.04m at 9pm. On BBC1, Countryfile appealed to 5.68m at 6.15pm, while Antiques Roadshow brought in 5.81m at 8pm. From Darkness continued with 3.16m at 9pm and Sir Alex Ferguson: Secrets Of Success was seen by 1.84m at 10.30pm. BBC2's documentary Earth's Wildest Waters was watched by eight hundred and ninety seven thousand punters at 8pm, followed by Britain's Ultimate Pilots with 1.22m at 9pm and Family Guy with 1.04m at 10pm. On Channel Four, the first episode of a new series of Homeland had with 1.36m at 9pm, after Men In Black III was watched by 1.39m at 7pm. Channel Five's showing of the Jason Statham movie Parker attracted 1.17m at 9pm.

And so to the final and consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Five programmes for week-ending Sunday 4 October 2015:-
1 The Great British Bake Off - Wed BBC1 - 12.65m
2 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 9.27m
3 Downton Abbey - Sun ITV - 9.03m
4 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.45m
5 Rugby World Cup: England Versus Australia - Sat ITV - 8.38m
6 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 8.33m
7 Doctor Foster - Wed BBC1 - 8.12m
8 Doc Martin - Mon ITV - 7.42m
9 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.23m
10 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.61m
11 New Tricks - Tues BBC1 5.51m
12= Doctor Who - Sat BBC1 - 5.63m
12= Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.63m
14 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.58m
15 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 5.43m
16 From Darkness - Sun BBC1 - 5.14n
17 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.94m
18 Ten O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 4.90m
19 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.70m
20 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.69m
21 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.61m
22 Who Do You Think You Are? - Thurs BBC1 - 4.38m
23 Eat Well For Less - Thurs BBC1 - 4.29m
24 Gogglebox - Fri C4 - 4.02m
25 Match Of The Day - Sat BBC1 - 4.01m
Those ITV programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. These figures, as usual, do not include iPlayer or ITV Player viewers. The Sunday episode of Strictly Come Dancing drew an audience of 8.48 million. Doctor Who's timeshift over and above the initial overnight audience for Under The Lake was, for the third week running, almost exactly two million viewers (and again, it's worth stressing that is not counting those watching the episode on iPlayer). On BBC2, University Challenge was, as usual, the most-watched broadcast of the week (2.81m), followed by The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice (2.52m), Gardeners' World (2.34m), Only Connect (2.25m), The Naked Choir With Gareth Malone (2.19m) and and The Hairy Bikers' Northern Exposure (2.15m). Aside from Gogglebox, Channel Four's top-rated broadcasts included Grand Designs (2.82m), Food Unwrapped (1.83m), Hunted (1.77m), George Clarke's Amazing Spaces (1.68m) and the final episode of This Is England '90 (1.64m). Channel Five's highest-rated broadcast was the final episode of CSI (1.64m), Autopsy: Amy Winehouse (1.54m) and Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away (1.47m). The highest-rated multichannels broadcast was for Sky Sports 1's coverage of Live Ford Super Sunday and The Arse giving The Scum a damned good hiding. On the same channel, and on the same day, the Liverpool derby attracted 1.22m. Gillette Soccer Saturday was, of course, Sky Sports News's highest-rated broadcast - six hundred and seventy one thousand. ITV4's Rugby World Cup coverage of the France versus Canada match was also one of the most-watched multichannels broadcast with 1.10m. Lewis was ITV3's top-rated drama (six hundred and ninety six thousand), followed by Foyle's War (five hundred and ninety two thousand). BBC4's highest-rated show was Canals: The Making Of A Nation with seven hundred and three thousand followed by BBC Four Sessions (six hundred thousand), Oak Tree: Nature's Greatest Survivor (five hundred and forty nine thousand)and Great Continental RailwayJourneys (five hundred and eighteen thousand). BBC3's weekly-list was topped by a repeat of Tuesday's episode of EastEnders (1.01m) and KKK: The Fight For White Supremacy (nine hundred and thirty three thousand). 5USA's latest episode of Castle attracted four hundred and fifty eight thousand viewers. The latest episode Ballers (two hundred and seventy nine thousand) was Sky Atlantic's weekly list-topper, followed Ray Donovan (two hundred and five thousand), Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (ninety four thousand) and Aquarius (eighty eight thousand). Sky Living's most-watched dramas were Chicago Fire (four hundred and sixty seven thousand viewers) and Unforgettable (three hundred and seventy three thousand). The first episode of Sky1's much-trailed You, Me & The Apocalypse was watched by 1.28m punters whilst the latest episode of Zoo was seen by six hundred and eighty two thousand. Sky Arts' broadcast of the Gerry Anderson docuemtnary Filmed In Supermarionation drew seventy three thousand. On Dave, Dave Gorman: Modern Life Is Good(ish) was, again, the channel's highest-rated programme - five hundred and ninety two thousand - followed by Suits (four hundred and fifty seven thousand), Dynamo: Magician Impossible (four hundred and twenty one thousand) and Qi (two hundred and ninety six thousand). Drama's Dalziel & Pascoe attracted three hundred and thirty six thousand viewers. Alibi's highest-rated programme was Rizzolo & Isles (four hundred and sixty seven thousand). Watch's broadcast of The Strain was seen by two hundred and ninety seven thousand. Yesterday's repeat of the horrifically unfunny Keeping Up Appearances was watched by two hundred and forty thousand viewers. FOX's highest-rated show was NICS (one hundred and sixty two thousand). Another episode of NCIS - a different one, obviously, as they always are! - topped CBS Action's weekly list (one hundred and twenty two thousand). The world's most-watched drama also featured in the top ten lists of Channel Five, 5USA and the Universal Channel (the latter's top ten was topped by Major Crimes with two hundredand fifty five thousand). On the Discovery Channel, Wheeler Dealers was watched by three hundred and forty seven thousand viewers. Alaskan Bush People had two hundred and twenty six thousand, Deadliest Catch two hundred and two thousand and Running Wild With Bear Grylls one hundred and fifty seven thousand. An older episode of Wheeler Dealers also topped Discovery Turbo's weekly list (sixty seven thousand). Wartime Secrets With Harry Harris topped Discovery History's top ten with twenty one thousand whilst Vulcans, Victors & Cuba has seventeen thousand. The Discovery Science channel drew thirty six thousand viewers for How It's Made. CI's Crimes That Shook Britain brought in one hundred and forty nine thousand viewers whilst Secret Tapes Of The OJ Case drew ninety four thousand and Usual Suspects sixty one thousand. ID's Inside The Mind Of A Serial Killer was watched by seventy three thousand thousand and Murder Behind Mansion Walls by fifty two thousand. National Geographic's Yukon Gold: Fresh Start had an audience of eighty two thousand viewers and Eden's Seven Ages Of Starlight was seen by twenty three thousand. The opening episode of Marley's on GOLD's attracted three hundred and sixty nine thousand. How many of those will be back for episode two is, of course, a very different matter. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (four hundred and thirty two thousand). On ITV Encore, Vera was watched by one hundred and seven thousand viewers. TLC's weekly-list was topped by Devious Maids which was seen by one hundred and thirty nine thousand.

The BBC have finally announced the schedule for the latest - M - series of Qi. The first episode, A Medley Of Maladies, featuring guests Matt Lucas, Ross Noble and Lucy Porter, will be broadcast on Friday 16 October on BBc2 at 10pm. The XL edition will go out the following evening at 9pm - when it will overlap with Doctor Who. Hey, top bit of crap scheduling there, BBC. What do you do for an encore? The following week will see the episode featuring Jezza Clarkson - Military Matters. The other guess are Jimmy Carr and Sheila Hancock. Is it just me or does Alan Davies really look like a hamster has just run up his trouser leg on this photo?
The Last Leg presenter Adam Hills got into the spirit of Channel Four's Stand Up To Cancer telethon by shaving his head. Viewers were asked to vote on how they would like the show to finish, either with diehard Arsenal fan Alex Brooker wearing a Spurs football shirt, Greg Davies weightlifting Josh Widdicombe or Hills shaving his head. Adam won.

Yer man Jezza Clarkson has revealed that he spent a month in rehab after he his Top Gear contract was not renewed. The TV presenter wrote in his Sunday Times column that he was ordered to take time out after that producer punching incident and the death of his mother. 'Back in the summer it was decided by people with serious faces and stethoscopes that I needed a complete break,' Jezza said. 'And, they weren't talking about two weeks in the sun with a book, and a million cocktail parties every night. They were talking about a whole month in the Stone Age.' He continued: 'They said very sternly that after dealing with the stresses of a dying mother and the BBC television chief Danny Cohen and a lost job and a million other things besides, I was about to become a drooling vegetable. I must go immediately to a prison where there would be no contact with the outside world. It was an actual prison. Cell blocks. Shared dormitories. Guards. Razor wire. And to fill the yawning chasm between the 5am roll call and 10pm lights out, hours and hours of what I've now decided is the absolute worst thing in the world - yoga.' Clarkson returned to the BBC last week as the guest host of Have I Got News For You. This week he and his former Top Gear co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond began filming their an as-yet untitled car show for Amazon Prime.
Jeremy Clarkson's final season on Top Gear has been nominated for a National Television Award. The series is nominated in the factual entertainment category, but faces tough competition from last year's winner Gogglebox. There are also four new categories at this year's National Television Awards. The public will also be able to vote for their favourite TV moment of the year. Viewers can nominate any moment they choose. The four new categories are best international category, best new drama, live magazine show and a new TV presenter category in which presenters of factual shows are put up against those in the entertainment TV presenter category. Also in that category well-known presenting duos will go up against each other - although, tragically, not in a cage in a fight to the death - including This Morning's Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby and Pointless hosts Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman. Husband and wife presenters Vernon Kay and Tess Daly and Rochelle and Marvin Humes are also up against each other. Nominees in the international category are Amazon Prime's Transparent and Netflix's Orange Is The New Black and House Of Cards. They are up against Gotham and Family Guy. In the new drama category, nominees range from costume drama Poldark, to Doctor Foster Channel Four's SF series Humans. In the Challenge Show category Bear Grylls is up against himself for ITV's Mission Survive and Channel Four's The Island. Also nominated are The Great British Bake Off, The Apprentice and Master Chef. The awards take place at the London O2 on 20 January and will be broadcast live on ITV.

Top Gear, meanwhile, will return to BBC2 in May 2016. Whether it'll be any good is another matter entirely. Chris Evans has signed a three-year contract to host two series of the revamped motoring show, each consisting of eight episodes. Speaking to the Press Association, Evans hinted that the new-look Top Gear could be radically different from the old version. The three-presenter format could be ditched, because, as Evans has put it: 'If there's three of you and you go and make a film together, suddenly you're doing what they did. Why would you do that? They were brilliant at it, [but] I'm not going to do that. They're the Three Stooges, they are The Bee Gees, they are that and I'm not, I'm me. I'm a solo artist at the moment, I'm on my own, so do I form a band or not?' Evans confirmed that the show has 'screen-tested' some potential presenters who responded to a recent open audition - but implied that no final decision on co-hosts had been made. One person almost guaranteed to be joining Evans though is The Stig, who accompanied him to annual trade show MIPCOM in Cannes. 'The Stig is here today' Evans. 'That might be a clue as to whether he's here tomorrow.'
Paddy Considine has joined the cast of Peaky Blinders for its forthcoming third series. The new series of the period gangster drama began filming this week. Though little detail has emerged of Considine's character, the actor will play a representative of a force that Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) must reckon with. The show's creator Steven Knight has previously suggested that the series would see more big name guest stars, with Tom Hardy already confirmed to be making a return as Alfie Solomons. Considine joins regulars Murphy, Helen McCrory and Paul Anderson. The third series will see Shelby getting caught in a more international conflict in the 1920s which puts his organisation and his family at risk. Knight said of the new season: 'I am genuinely thrilled at the prospect of season three. I think it will be the best yet. Lots of things familiar but lots of things are new. It's still a Birmingham story and it always will be. Now, it has international consequences. I can't wait to see it myself.' Murphy added: 'It's the sign of a great show when by the second or third season it's richer than ever. The writing this year is the strongest it's ever been. It's off the charts.'
Sheridan Smith has been nominated for an international Emmy for her portrayal of Cilla Black in a three-part ITV drama Cilla. The drama, which was broadcast before Black's death earlier this year, looked at the singer's early career. Smith's performance was previously nominated for a BAFTA and won a National Television Award. Other British Emmy nominees include Rafe Spall, for his role in the Christmas episode of Black Mirror. The dystopian satire, written by Charlie Brooker, focused on a not-too-distant future where an implant allows humans to block other people in a similar way to social media. Downton Abbey creator Lord Snooty will also receive the International TV Academy's Founders Award at the gala ceremony in New York on 23 November. BBC2 is up for the arts and documentary award for Messiah At The Foundling Hospital, which recreated the candlelit premiere of Handel's Messiah in 1750. Channel Four's My Mad Fat Diary is nominated for best drama, while Sky's Fifty Ways To Kill Your Mammy - in which TV presenter Baz Ashmawy sets his mother, Nancy, a number of daredevil challenges (and which, despite the horrible title is actually rather good) - is nominated in the 'non-scripted entertainment' category that Top Gear won a few years ago. On that occasion, the presenting trio were unable to attend the ceremony as, they noted, 'we're busy writing the script for next week's show!' The International Emmys honour programming from outside the US, as well as US shows created in languages other than English.

EastEnders has cast a transgender actor to play a long-running trans character in a first for UK soaps. Riley Carter Millington has been cast as Kyle, a young transgender man, who will first hit screens in October before becoming a regular at the end of the year. EastEnders executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins revealed in March that the BBC1 show would be introducing a transgender character, and said he was determined the part would be played by a transgender actor. The BBC said that producers worked with transgender groups and held workshops in a bid to find someone right for the part. Treadwell-Collins said: 'I've sat in many acting workshops over the years with our casting executive Julia Crampsie and her team – but never have we been so moved by the incredible life stories and wealth of talent that we experienced over our several weeks of workshops with transgender actors. In Riley, we have found not just a talented actor but also an inspirational young man whose warmth immediately comes through the screen. And this isn't about tokenism. Alex Lamb and his story team have worked with Riley to create an EastEnders character who is fresh and relatable – but also comes with his own stock of secrets and is going to be thrown right into one of our biggest stories for the end of the year.' The role is Carter Millington's first acting role. He said: 'I am extremely excited to be joining EastEnders. I can honestly say that I have now fulfilled my two biggest dreams – to be living my life as a man and to be an actor. I cannot wait to really get stuck in with filming and I look forward to seeing what is in store for my character.' This year has been hailed as a turning point for transgender actors in the UK. In January, Russell Davies' Cucumber and Banana became the first UK series to feature a transgender actor, the excellent Bethany Black, playing a recurring character who was also transgender, Helen. That was followed last month by the debut of another transgender actor, Rebecca Root, playing a transgender character in BBC2 sitcom Boy Meets Girl. Root also has a small role in the latest Eddie Redmayne film, The Danish Girl. Coronation Street featured a transgender character, Hayley Cropper, for sixteen years starting in 1998. However, the role was played by Julie Hesmondhalgh, who is not transgender.
The BBC has argued the case for popular shows like Strictly Come Dancing and Sherlock in its response to the government's Green Toilet Paper on its future. The broadcaster said that the public 'wants and expects the BBC to deliver entertainment,' amid suggestions - from ignorant right-wing twats with a sick agenda smeared all over their ugly collective mush - it is too 'focused on ratings.' It also made a case for the popular music stations Radio 1 and 2, saying they play a greater variety of music than their commercial rivals. The response has been published online. It comes as the government closes a public consultation into the renewal of the BBC's charter, which raised several key questions. When the Green Toilet Paper was launched in July, the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said that 'hard questions' would be asked about the 'size and ambition' of the BBC and said that 'a decision' had to be made on whether the corporation should try to do 'all things' or become 'more precise.' Whatever the frig that means. More than eighty thousand people have responded to the public consultation, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale told the Tory Party Conference earlier this week. The BBC's response, which runs to more than one hundred pages, agrees that the Government consultation is 'right to insist that the BBC should be distinctive.' However, it adds: 'Distinctiveness does not equal stepping back from popular content. The BBC makes good popular programmes - if we withdrew, audiences would have less choice.' It counters the suggestion that the BBC should pull back from 'crowd-pleasing' shows, saying: 'Competition on a Saturday night has been part of the TV landscape for generations and drives up quality - with the viewer being the winner.' The response says that the debate about the BBC 'should start with what it is for' rather than what it isn't for and consider 'the sort of society we want. Access to culture, media and information should be a basic human right, ensured regardless of a person's ability to pay for it,' says the report, adding that it is the BBC's position to 'inform, educate and entertain' the latter being the bit of the BBC's public service remit that everyone with a - sick - agenda always seems to conveniently forget. The document also shows that forty nine per cent of Radio 1's playlist is comprised of artists without a top ten single, while for Capital FM it is just twelve per cent and that twenty seven per cent of BBC1's primetime output is factual, compared to a shocking twelve per cent on ITV. The corporation has also outlined plans for a radical programme of reform; including greater efficiency and a drive to increase profits from the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. It makes the case for future-proofing the corporation by 'modernising it for the Internet age', and asks policy-makers to help 'ensure public service broadcasting is easy to find on future as well as existing platforms.' And it asks the government to wait eleven years, rather than ten, before debating the BBC's charter again - thus removing discussions from the election cycle. The issue of funding the BBC is addressed too, with the report calling the licence fee 'the best way.' It says that subscription funding - either alone or as a partial substitute to the licence fee - is 'the wrong model.' It does agree that the licence fee 'needs to be modernised', however, including closing the current loophole which makes watching catch-up programmes on the iPlayer online exempt from the fee.

The lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale has said the public has 'lost confidence' in the BBC to examine their complaints 'independently and carefully.' As a fully paid up member of the public, please allow this blogger to note at this point that I didn't get the lack of culture secretary's memo asking if he could speak on my behalf. He told the braying hoards at the Tory Party conference that more than eighty thousand people have responded to the Government's Green Paper on the future of the BBC. He said he was 'delighted' at the amount of people who had responded. Albeit, one hopes that when he starts to read what the vast majority of people have written on the subject he won't be quite so smug. No, actually, come to think of it, he will be, it's a default position for the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale and all his grubby spawn. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said that the handling of complaints was one of the 'key issues' under consideration in the review. He told delegates: 'I know from the many letters and conversations that I have had that you have sometimes felt the BBC has not always been as fair or as impartial as it should - although the BBC is right to point out that it is a complaint often voiced by other parties too.' No shit? Do you know why, mate? It's because all politicans are worthless sodding scum and they should all be shovelled into the gutter along with all the other turds. He added it was 'important' that the public should 'have confidence that complaints are examined independently and carefully' and that it was 'no longer the case that if you make a complaint against the BBC, the decision on whether it is justified is taken by the BBC.' In response a BBC Trust spokeswoman said that it already provides a court of appeal where 'decisions are taken separately from the BBC's management, supported by independent advice.' However she said that in the future there should be 'clearer separation between independent regulation and the BBC's own internal governance system.'
Oily David Cameron - without his pig, obviously - ignored 'at least three high-level warnings' about employing former Scum of the World editor - and convicted phone-hacker - Andy Coulson, including one from the Daily Scum Mail's the vile and odious louse Dacre, according to the full version of Michael Ashcroft's unauthorised biography of the Prime Minister. Ashroft brought forward publication of Call Me Dave to the first day of the Tory party conference on Monday to 'maximise the potential damage' in his ongoing feud with the Prime Minister. Extracts of the book published last month by the Daily Scum Mail have already made a series of damaging claims about Oily Cameron including 'involvement in a drug-taking environment' whilst at university, the revelation that, rather than being a big fan of The Smiths as he has previously claimed, Dave was really 'into' Supertramp, knowledge of Ashcroft's highly dodgy offshore tax status and Cameron's now infamous, alleged, involvement in a bizarre dinner club ritual involving a pig. And his own willy. Alleged Conservative party 'sources' alleged quoted in the Gruniad Morning Star said that No 10 'did not recognise' any of the allegations made on the front page of the Daily Scum Mail and later there was a specific denial of the pig's head-and-willy incident allegation. The Daily Scum Mail's edited extracts omitted a claim that the vile and odious louse Dacre, its own editor-in-chief, warned Cameron against bringing Coulson into government as director of communications when the Tories were elected in 2010. Coulson is portrayed in the book as 'a key figure' during Cameron’s first months in government and previously in his time as leader of the opposition. Coulson resigned in January 2011, saying that allegations he was involved in phone-hacking when editor of the Scum of the World made it 'impossible' for him to continue. He was later found extremely guilty of conspiring to intercept voicemails in 2014 and jailed for eighteen months, serving but five. Which, some may consider to be getting off lightly. Ashcroft's book, which was co-written with the political journalist Isabel Oakeshot says: 'Cameron had come to rely on his clever director of communications. Convinced Coulson had known nothing of phone-hacking (and presumably unaware that Coulson and [well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah] Brooks had been lovers), the Prime Minister ignored at least three high-level warnings about bringing him into government.' It adds: 'Among those who privately counselled against the move were Daily Mail boss Paul Dacre, who said it was "storing up trouble", former Evening Standard editor Max Hastings, and his old family friend Nicholas Soames.' In July 2011 Cameron claimed to parliament that warnings from Gruniad editor Specky Alan Runtbudgie about Coulson fitness for a job in government, made to one of his most senior aides, were 'not relayed' to him. One or two people even believed him. Soames is quoted saying: 'I did make my views very strongly known about the employment of Coulson. I expressed it very strongly that, firstly, you can employ him as leader of the opposition, but you can't employ him in Number 10. I made my feelings known both verbally and in writing.' But, the warnings were ignored. Soames went on: 'David is dog loyal. And that's great. I think he and George [Osborne] both decided that Andy Coulson would be the best person.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was left 'deeply angry and upset' after Cameron 'deserted' the former Sun editor and News International chief executive in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, the book claims. And Cameron privately conceded that the then Labour leader, Ed Milimolimandi, had him 'on the run' over phone-hacking, it suggests. It notes that Cameron was 'widely seen' to have panicked into announcing The Leveson Inquiry into the scandal. Cameron's social circle in Oxforshire, dubbed the Chipping Norton set, which used to include well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, was renamed The Upset in the wake of phone-hacking, the book claims. The Prime Minister's inner circle emerges as something of a foul-mouthed bunch if the book is accurate. There are forty six instances of the words 'fuck', 'fucking' or 'fucked' in the book, mostly in reported speech by Cameron's aides and cabinet colleagues. Although one, at least, seemingly involved that poor pig. Milimolimandi is described as 'a fucking cunt and copper-bottomed shit' - which proves that like a broken clock, even David Cameron can be right twice a day - after leading a vote against intervention in Syria, an alleged Number 10 'source' allegedly is quoted as allegedly saying in the book. When Cameron's future wife Samantha first started dating Cameron in the early 1990s he was an adviser to the then chancellor, Norman Lamont. She told Cameron to tell Lamont to 'fuck off', according to the book. But Cameron himself comes across as 'quaintly innocent' of the language of those around him. The Australian election strategist Lynton Crosby, called Cameron 'a posh cunt' when the two worked together on the Tories ill-fated 2005 General Erection campaign. The first time Cameron was sent a 'WTF' text by a Crosby, he did not have his glasses on and mistook the initials for the World Economic Forum, the book claims. It also alleges that Cameron once tried to restrain his policy guru Steve Hilton when he looked as if was about to punch the then international development secretary Andrew Mitchell. 'He's trying to help me Steve – let it go,' Cameron was quoted as saying at the time. The book notes that Cameron has 'failed to deny' using cocaine before he became a MP. 'Voters are left to draw their own conclusions,' it says. People have already made up their minds about allegations in the book, Cameron told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. He said: 'I think everyone can see through it, so frankly I am not going to dignify it with individual responses. I think people have had a look and they have made their mind up.' Ashcroft – who gave the Conservatives eight million smackers while the party was in opposition and led a drive to win marginal seats – has said he decided to write the book when Cameron declined to reward him with a sufficiently senior job in government when he came to power in 2010. Cameron told Marr: 'I appoint people on merit, on their ability to do the job, and not on anything else.'

The former England captain David Beckham's phone was hacked by Scum of the World journalists, the disgraced and disgraceful former paper's former head of news has admitted for the first time. In an interview with Channel Four News on Friday, convicted hacker Greg Miskiw said that Beckham's voicemails were accessed ;routinely, all the time, over and over again.' Miskiw also spoke of his 'regret' at the hacking of murdered thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone and described the culture at the disgraced and disgraceful newspaper – saying that failure to 'get the story' would soon be followed by the sack. And, he claimed that hacking had gone on at other newspapers, which had thus far not been brought to light. He made similar revelations in an exclusive essay with the Byline Project. 'We hacked David Beckham's phones routinely, all the time, over and over again,' Miskiw said. But, he added that one of the paper's most high profile stories – when it claimed that Beckham had had an affair with his assistant, Rebecca Loos, a claim Beckham has always denied – had not come from hacking Beckham's phone. 'The [Rebecca Loos] story, we had to track all these phones. From recollection, I don't think we got anything of any significance from doing Beckham's phones [for it],' he said. Beckham has long believed that he was a victim of phone-hacking and, in 2013, News Corporation, which owned the Scum of the World, settled a case with the former footballer's father out of court. But no one connected to the company had hitherto publicly admitted that Beckham's own phones were hacked. Miskiw, nicknamed The Prince Of Darkness because of his connection to the so-called 'dark arts', claimed - unconvincingly - that he was 'devastated' when he heard that his colleagues had hacked Milly Dowler's phone. 'I was in Florida at the time and I lay down on my bed and stared at the fan for a couple of hours thinking: "How awful." It was like a scene out of a movie. I was just absolutely devastated.' One or two people even believed him. Asked what he could possibly say to Dowler's parents in mitigation for this sick and sordid intrusion into their grief, he said: 'What could I say other than that I am terribly sorry it happened? It was more than a misjudgment, it was an appalling thing to do.' But, Miskiw insisted that he was 'not responsible' for the closure of the Scum of the World, which was shut in shame and ingnominy in 2011. The paper, he claimed, had 'brought itself down. Or News International brought itself down by reacting the way they did.' He added: 'If they had decided from day one to grasp the nettle and say "Right, there is a handful of journalists who are doing this, we are going to get rid of them," the News of the World would still be running now.' Miskiw was a news editor at the paper, an influential job which required him to co-ordinate its news coverage and to be responsible for its news reporters. He was also responsible for bringing the convicted phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire to the paper. 'You were in a bubble at the News of the World, where the objective was very simple: just get the story. Just get it. No matter what, no matter how. That is what was expected of you. And, if you did not and you did not do it once, or twice, or three times, and you failed, you would be out of the door,' he said. Along with the paper's former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, Miskiw was jailed for six months in July 2014 after pleading very guilty to conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages. The pair served just thirty seven days in The Big House. Which, some may consider to be a disgracefully small total of the untold misery that caused to their many, many victims.

The Sun's head of news has been 'hung out to dry' by his bosses in bid to avoid a corporate prosecution that could bring down billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's media empire, a court has heard. Nigel Rumfitt QC, defending Chris Pharo, said that News International handed over its own employees to the police in a bid to appease the police and Crown Prosecution Service. He told the jury on Wednesday: 'You can't actually see the clothes pegs on the collar of his jacket, but you know he's been hung out to dry by the company he loyally served for nearly his whole working life. It did it because it was desperate to use him and others to save its own skin.' Rumfitt explained the history of the Metropolitan police's Operation Elveden, stemming from the phone-hacking scandal that was threatening to engulf billionaire tyrant Murdoch's News Corp in 2011. 'They were terrified the company would be prosecuted and if it was, the authorities in the United States might withdraw licences, bringing the whole of Mister Murdoch's empire down,' he said. Rumfitt said that the 'absence of paperwork' showing that editor and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks 'signed off the majority' of cash payments was an indicator that News International has 'controlled the flow of evidence' to the police. 'Has it all been hidden away to shield the editor and the company itself?' he asked. 'It couldn't be there's been another cover-up at News International – the release of incomplete or misleading information.' He said the Met was 'desperate' to make up for past mistakes over phone-hacking, but 'made it ten times worse' by launching this prosecution without having sight of all the evidence and without the ability to get it. 'News International is just a corporate police informant. Here, the informant controls the entire investigation, the police – try as they might – can't legally get access to a single document or piece of paper controlled by News International. The police investigation is controlled by the prime suspect.' He dubbed Elveden 'the longest-running farce in London', adding: 'A financially hard-pressed police force devoted twice the number of police officers normally used to investigate a murder to investigate one hundred suspects, many of them journalists. All of those resources, dawn raids, long trials culminated in mass acquittals of journalists who should never have been prosecuted in the first place.' Rumfitt claimed it would be 'dangerous' to convict Pharo because of the absence of other people involved and evidence that should have been included in the case. Earlier, Julian Christopher QC, prosecuting, argued that Pharo's role was 'clear' in approving payments to 'sources', and he 'knew full well' that Pyatt had a police officer contact. 'It is an important role Mr Pharo was playing in the decision as to who should be paid what and whether cash could be justified,' he said. 'As you step back and look at these e-mails, you may indeed find yourself coming to the conclusion that we may not have everything, but we have quite enough for the true position to emerge. You may conclude that what officer 2044 was doing was precisely what both Mr Pyatt and Mr Pharo wanted to encourage him. Both of them knew he was a serving police officer breaking the rules, both wanted him to continue doing so in order to give the newspaper a competitive edge over their rivals. Both wanted to encourage him to continue providing information, and as a result he did continue to do so.' Christopher said that the e-mails between Pyatt and Pharo 'make it clear' that both 'knew the nature' of the relationship with the source. 'The prosecution suggests looking [at] all of these in the whole, both men know full will who's being spoken about,' he said. 'Pharo may not have known his name but could there be any doubt he knew full well what Mr Pyatt was referring to, a serving police officer contact of his in Surrey, a longstanding contact in Surrey who it was important to keep on side for the future.' In the first e-mail Pharo is accused of receiving about the officer, in March 2006, he did not challenge the payment, said Christopher. 'It couldn't be more plain that what we are concerned with is payment to a police officer, accessing information, addresses to knock, all the background and crime report,' he said. 'It is obviously material the police officer ought not to be selling to a newspaper. He knows full well what Mr Pyatt is talking about is a police officer.' Christopher said the fact Pharo had been a district reporter and Pyatt had in the past run the news desk were important. 'They both knew what was important, they both knew the importance of encouraging and retaining a good source, and they both knew when cash payments would be justified,' he said. 'He's involved not just afterwards – he's importantly involved in the lead-up to publication. He had to be confident as he goes into conference that the stories are accurate, and what work is being done on them.' He continued: 'You may think the head of the news desk would have to know the sort of sources at various reporters' disposal. He doesn’t need to know the names or identities, but he needs to know what sort of sources a reporter is able to get information from.' The trial extremely continues.

Good old mad-as-toast Brian Blessed has recounted how he allegedly helped deliver a baby in the 1960s - and then bit through the umbilical cord. As you do. The larger-than-life actor, writer, raconteur and mountaineer claimed that he came across a woman in labour while visiting London's Richmond Park circa 1963. 'I was running all over Richmond Park and a woman was having a baby under a tree and there was nobody around. I'd been brought up with babies and helping with babies, and I rushed across to her,' he told BBC Radio 4's Midweek programme. He continued: 'She'd got her legs open. She knew me from Z Cars and said "please, Mr Blessed, I'm having a baby. [I said] "it's all right dear, breathe deeply," and gradually I got the baby out. The afterbirth came out and the clots. I pressed her belly and got rid of the clots. And then I got the afterbirth out. And then I bit it loose and then I tied it into a knot et cetera. I just called for help and eventually an ambulance came. I was covered in blood, my shirt was covered in blood. I was wrapping her, wiping her, "It's all right darling," and I was licking the baby's face.' Brian was speaking to an incredulous Libby Purves, the host of Midweek. 'It's absolutely true,' he said. 'I've never talked about it. What I'm saying is, it was natural. I'd seen my mother do all this. I was always kept in the background.'
Tom Jones has said that the BBC can 'go fuck themselves' after axing him from The Voice One gets the impression, from said axing, that the feeling is, entirely, mutual Tom, mate.
And, speaking of doddery old geezers who used to be entertaining, Sir Bruce Forsyth is said to be 'recovering at home' after being admitted to hospital following a fall on Thursday. The eighty seven-year-old's injuries mean that he has had to pull out of hosting his planned variety show Bruce's Hall Of Fame, the Mirra reports. Forsyth was due to present the show alongside Alexander Armstrong, who will now take over the role of compere in Forsyth's absence. In a statement, Kalooki Pictures, the company behind the variety show, said: 'This morning, Sir Bruce Forsyth slipped and fell at his home resulting in facial abrasions and minor concussion. He attended hospital and had a series of scans and tests all of which happily proved negative. However, because of his injury, he has been told by doctors he must have complete rest for at least seven days.' Speaking after his fall, Forsyth added: 'I was really looking forward to this show and working with such a talented cast, and I am really sad not to be part of it. It is now in the most capable hands of Alexander Armstrong and I would like to wish him, the guests and the whole production team good luck on Sunday.'
Let's Play Darts for Sport Relief - the completely shit 'entertainment' format - is returning for a second run on BBC2. Oh, joy. Hosted by Gabby Logan, it begins filming at Lakeside Frimley Green in November. Players will including Martin Adams, Glen Durrant, Scott Mitchell, Deta Hedman, Bobby George, Anastasia Dobromyslova, Daryl Fitton and Andy Fordham who will join forces with a number of z-list celebrity players to compete to be champions. Each z-list celebrity will come up 'with their own darts persona.' All potential viewers will be provided with a frontal lobotomy kit. Probably.
The BBC's economics editor, Robert Peston, has been poached by rival broadcaster ITV, it has been confirmed, following days of speculation. He will become ITV's political editor and present his own political interview programme, Pestinfestation On Sunday. The correspondent made the announcement on his BBC blog, saying: 'You may have noticed that I am off to another place. Working for BBC News has been the high point of my working life,' he added. The Pest's departure marks the end of a nine-year stint at the BBC, where he covered the financial crisis and broke the story of Northern Rock asking for emergency funding in 2007. His new Sunday morning show will place him in direct competition with the BBC's Andrew Marr. Speaking on Wednesday, Marr said that he welcomed the challenge. 'If it's true that he's going to do a Sunday morning nine o'clock show directly against mine then on one level I say "that's fantastic, bring it on,"' he told the Radio Times. But he also had a word of warning for his former colleague. 'You have to absolutely subdue yourself and not think the programme's about you because it never is,' Marr said. 'The Andrew Marr Show could be done by anybody if you get the right guests on it and you ask the right questions in the right order.' Pestinfestation joined the BBC from the Sunday Torygraph in 2005, initially as the corporation's business editor. At first, he was mocked for his rather stilted delivery. The presenter's idiosyncratic style was variously described as 'strangulated', 'ragged and querulous' and 'like a Dalek' - but his reputation grew thanks to a series of major scoops about the financial crisis. 'I think lots of people think I'm an eccentric broadcaster,' he told the Gruniad Morning Star in 2013. But, he added: 'I don't really care what people think about my style, except in so far as it gets in the way of people understanding the story. If I felt I was not communicating the important stuff in a way people can understand, I would worry.' In recent years, he has presented satirical quiz show Have I Got News For You and a one-off edition of Newsnight. He admitted recently that he wanted to replace Jeremy Paxman on the latter programme, but was 'never really in the frame for it" 'Earlier this year in an interview with the Radio Times, which first reported the rumours of his departure for ITV, Peston said that he was 'looking for another big challenge.' He said: 'I love the BBC. Going from print journalism to the BBC was a big change and I sort of feel that I wouldn't mind another big change, but I haven't the faintest idea what it would be.' As rumours of his departure circulated last week, several of The Pest's BBC colleagues recorded a spoof 'appeal', begging for him to stay. Among them was Radio 4 presenter Eddie Mair, who said he was 'prepared to sell my kidney if it increases the amount of money the BBC can afford to offer.'
A volcano eruption shown on a BBC2 documentary actually used footage from two different volcanoes taken four years apart, the corporation has said. The eruption of the Calbuco volcano in Chile in April was shown in the first episode of Patagonia: Earth's Secret Paradise last month. But a dramatic lightning storm seen above the volcano was actually shot at a different location in 2011. The BBC said that viewers should have been told a 'composite image' was used. The programme showed a violent 'dirty thunderstorm', in which lightning strikes are seen within the ash clouds from an erupting volcano. In a blog post, the show's producer, Tuppence Stone, said that such events could be difficult to capture on film and so 'it requires special techniques to reveal and portray their true extraordinary nature.' The programme combined time-lapse footage from Calbuco's eruption earlier this year with long-exposure footage of lightning at the Cordon Caulle volcano in 2011. 'These elements had to be combined to create a series of composite images, showing both the size and scale of a Patagonian volcanic eruption, its ash cloud and the repeated strikes of lightning that can occur within it, over many hours,' Stone wrote. 'By combining local knowledge, expert advice, and state of the art camera and post production techniques we have been able to reveal to audiences the wondrous scale of an epic natural phenomenon.' However the BBC said that viewers should have been 'alerted' to the fact that footage from two different eruptions had been combined. Quite why viewers would even care abut such utter trivial nonsense is another question entirely, of course. A statement said: 'In order to show viewers the extraordinary spectacle of a "dirty thunderstorm" with lightning flashes that would be impossible to capture in a single camera, a composite image was put together from footage from two Patagonian volcanoes. However, we recognise that this should have been made clear and so have published a blog post to explain the techniques used.' And, once again, dear blog reader, let us simply stand up and salute the utter shite that some people chose to care about,
The 'slave Leia' bikini worn by actress Carrie Fisher in Return Of The Jedi has been sold for ninety six thousand dollars. Bidding for the costume opened at eighty thousand bucks at the online auction, run by US firm Profiles In History. As well as the bikini, the unnamed winner received a collar, several chain links, and a letter of authenticity from Star Wars designer Richard Miller. Though, sadly, the letter also revealed that the bikini has, in fact, been washed several times sine 1983. Fisher herself reportedly disliked the outfit, calling it 'what supermodels will eventually wear in the seventh ring of hell.' The opinion was, seemingly, not shared by most males aged between fourteen and forty nine. According to the auction listing, the bikini was made of 'flexible, gold-painted red dense-urethane rubber.' Oh ... God. Stop it. Nonetheless, the costume became a piece of pop culture history. Fisher wore it on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine to promote Return Of The Jedi and her Madame Tussauds waxwork features the outfit. The bikini also became a central plot point in an episode of Friends, with Ross persuading Rachel to dress up as Princess Leia.
It might have started as a good week for Peter Andre, what with him getting referenced in Doctor Who and all that, but it ended really badly as was described as an 'extremely unsatisfactory witness' by a High Court judge in a case involving the production of his reality TV show. Andre told ITV2 and the court that he had received 'death threats' on Twitter from Neville Hendricks, who produced his TV shows, after the pair fell out. ITV cut ties with Hendricks, claiming breach of contract. But the High Court rejected the 'death threat' claims and said that ITV2 must pay Hendricks 'substantial damages.' Hendricks' company, Mr H TV, produced Andre's The Next Chapter series and Here To Help, along with Kerry Katona's reality projects, working closely with the reality TV regular's manager Claire Powell, head of CAN Associates. Powell and Hendricks' had what was described as 'an on-off relationship', having a son together, before 'an acrimonious split' in 2011. Powell's relationship with waste-of-space Katona also broke down around the same time, amid false rumours that Katona was having an affair with Hendricks. Hendricks, in turn, believed that the rumours were being spread by Powell. Confused? You will be. Around he same time, Hendricks set up a Twitter account from which tweeted or 'engaged in conversations' giving 'intimate details' of Andre and Powell's private lives 'in the most scurrilous and vitriolic terms,' according to the judge. Andre's solicitors wrote to Mr H TV, saying that Andre 'wanted no further dealings' with the company. The judge said that the letter was 'almost certainly' responsible for ITV2 terminating its agreement with the production company. ITV2 also wanted to terminate its contract over a proposal that Kerry Katona would appear on Celebrity Big Brother on Channel Five, claiming it breached an 'exclusivity' clause. Quite why any broadcaster would want an 'exclusivity' clause with Kerry Katona is, perhaps, a question best left for another day although it could be regarded, in and of itself, as an example of everything - every single damn thing - that is wrong with broadcasting and, indeed, society in the Twenty First Century. Mr Justice Flaux called Hendricks 'an honest witness' and 'a respected producer' of a 'particular genre of television, which in a very real sense, he had devised.' Flaux also dismissed Andre's accusations that the tweets constituted 'a real threat', although they were, he said, 'offensive and expressed in foul language.' The suggestion that 'a grown man in the position of Mr Andre was genuinely scared by what was said in the tweets has to be viewed with considerable scepticism,' said Justice Flaux. 'I consider that Mr Andre and Ms Powell used the tweets as a pretext, first to justify refusing to start filming Peter Andre: The Next Chapter series five and second to put illegitimate commercial pressure on ITV2 to terminate its contract with the claimant and use another production company,' he said. The judge added it was ITV2 that was in breach and not Hendricks, who was seeking damages for lost profits of up to seven million smackers.

National heart-throb David Tennant is to reprise his award-winning Shakespearean role as Richard II at London's Barbican theatre in January 2016. His performance will form part of a Cycle Of Kings season at London's Barbican Theatre in 2016. Wayey-Davey first took on the part to much acclaim in 2013 for the Royal Shakespeare Company. He stood out not just for his 'mesmerising' performance but also for his 'Christ-like' appearance. Richard II will be one of a season of RSC productions being staged at the Barbican from November 2015. Tennant's 2013 production opened at the RSC's home in Stratford-Upon-Avon in October before transferring to the Barbican in December. The former Doctor Who and Broadchurch actor won the WhatsOnStage best actor award for the role. The return to the London venue is as part of its King & Country: Shakespeare's Great Cycle Of Kings season. It will also include previously staged productions of Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V. Like Richard II, they too will see other notable actors resuming starring roles they have originally played for the RSC. Antony Sher will return as Falstaff and Jasper Britton as Henry IV. Alex Hassell will again take on his role as the young Hal and the mature king in Henry V. The new run of Richard II will reunite Tennant with director Gregory Doran, who is in charge at the RSC. The pair previously worked together on an acclaimed production of Hamlet in 2009. The RSC season runs from 7 November to 24 January and will form part of the Barbican's programme marking four hundred years since Shakespeare's death in 2016. Other highlights include a series of screenings of the Bard's plays, called Shakespeare On Screen, featuring highlights from fifty years of the RSC. They include include Trevor Nunn's legendary 1979 production of Macbeth with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench and Peter Hall's A Midsummer Night's Dream from 1959 with Charles Laughton as Bottom. A new staging of A Midsummer Night's Dream will also be performed in May 2016, with a mixed cast of professional and amateur actors.
FIFA has provisionally suspended its president the odious Sepp Blatter, secretary general Jerome Valcke and vice-president oily Michel Platini for ninety days. The punishments were handed out by the ethics committee of football's world governing body, which is investigating the three over corruption allegations and other nefarious skulduggery and malarkey. It also banned ex-FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-joon from all football-related activity for six years. Issa Hayatou, who heads Africa's football confederation, will act as FIFA president during Blatter's ban. Spain's Angel Maria Villar is expected to head UEFA - European football's governing body - while Platini is suspended. But Platini - and Chung - are still hoping to replace Blatter when he steps down as president in February. Hayatou, meanwhile, has issued a statement saying he will only serve 'on an interim basis' and will not be standing for election. Explaining its decision to ban Blatter, Platini and Valcke, the ethics committee said: 'The grounds for these decisions are the investigations that are being carried out by the investigatory chamber of the ethics committee.' The three are banned from any football activity in the interim. Even a kick-about in the park with mates. Well, that's not applicable to Platini because he hasn't got any mates. They deny any wrongdoing. Well, they would, wouldn't they. Britain's FIFA vice-president David Gill has called for an emergency meeting of its executive committee following Thursday's developments. A statement issued by Blatter's lawyers claimed the soon-to-be-former president was 'disappointed' the ethics committee had not followed its own code in allowing him an opportunity to be heard, and claimed the suspension was based on 'a misunderstanding of the actions of the attorney general in Switzerland.' It added: 'President Blatter looks forward to the opportunity to present evidence that will demonstrate that he did not engage in any misconduct, criminal or otherwise.' One or two people even believed them. FIFA's ethics committee began its investigation into Blatter after the Swiss attorney general opened criminal proceedings against the seventy nine-year-old. He is extremely accused of signing a contract 'unfavourable' to FIFA and making 'a disloyal payment' to Platini, who is also president of European football's governing body. The ethics committee also opened an inquiry into Platini over the two million euros payment, which was made nine years after the sixty-year-old allegedly carried out some unspecified 'consultation' work for Blatter. Valcke was already on gardening leave from his FIFA post following newspaper allegations last month which implicated the fifty four-year-old in a dodgy, underhand scheme to profit from the sale of World Cup tickets. Earlier this year, United States authorities indicted fourteen FIFA officials and associates on bribery and racketeering charges. A simultaneous Swiss investigation was started into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Just two days later, on 29 May, Blatter won a fifth consecutive FIFA presidential election. However, on 2 June he suddenly and unexpectedly announced his decision to step down in the wake of the corruption allegations. He is due to finish his term at a FIFA extraordinary congress on 26 February. Platini and South Korean billionaire Chung - who was also fined one hundred thousand Swiss Francs by the ethics committee - are two of the leading candidates to replace him. Before the imposition of his provisional ban - which relates to the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups - Chung claimed FIFA's investigation into him was an attempt to 'smear' his campaign.
England made it nine wins out of nine in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a comfortable win over Estonia at Wembley on Friday. Roy Hodgson's side had already qualified for France next summer and even without injured captain Wayne Rooney were able to dismiss Estonia with barely an anxious moment. Rooney received a Golden Boot from Sir Bobby Charlton before kick-off after breaking his England goalscoring record with his fiftieth goal from the penalty spot in the last qualifier against Switzerland. There was barely a moment of note in the first forty five minutes until man-of-the-match Ross Barkley picked out Theo Walcott with a superb pass to score with the last kick of the half. And England's latest victory was sealed in the dying moments when substitute Jamie Vardy unselfishly set up a second from close range for Raheem Sterling. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland have also qualified for the finals, beating Greece 3-1 on a brilliant night at Windsor Park on Thursday. Two goals by skipper Steven Davis and one by stand-in striker Josh Magennis sent them through to the finals of a major tournament for the first time in thirty years. Davis forced in a first-half goal, and then headers by Magennis and Davis ensured Northern Ireland were going to their first European finals. Christos Aravidis got a late goal for Greece but it did not spoil the party. With Romania drawing 1-1 at home to Finland, Northern Ireland will top Group F if they get a point in Finland on Sunday in their final qualifier. Wales joined England and Northern Ireland in the finals, reaching their first major tournament final stages since 1976 in somewhat bizarre circumstances despite defeat in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Needing a point to qualify, Chris Coleman's side were beaten by Milan Djuric and Vedad Ibisevic's second-half goals. But, they still went through thanks to Cyprus' surprise 2-1 victory in Israel, which sparked wild celebrations from the Welsh fans in Zenica. Wales' first defeat of the campaign saw them overtaken at the top of Group B by Belgium, who also qualified with a 4-1 win in Andorra. However, Scotland's hopes of reaching Euro 2016 ended as Poland equalised with the final kick of the match at Hampden. Robert Lewandowski scrambled the ball over the line as the hosts failed to clear a stoppage-time free-kick. It had appeared that Scotland's faint hopes of qualification were just about still alive as superb goals by Matt Ritchie and Steven Fletcher put them in front. But Lewandowski, who had silenced the home crowd with an early opener, repeated that feat in the last seconds. The Netherlands are on the verge of missing out on Euro 2016 after Turkey defeated the Czech Republic in Prague. Selcuk Inan netted a penalty and Hakan Calhanoglu struck a second to give the Turks a priceless victory in Group A. It means that the Turks now need just a point in their last group game at home against Iceland to clinch a play-off spot. The Dutch beat Kazakhstan 2-1 in Astana but their fate is out of their own hands, with the Czech Republic and Iceland already claiming the top two spots. Georginio Wijnaldum and Wesley Sneijder scored either side of half-time before Islambek Kuat scored a consolation for Kazakhstan as Danny Blind's side won their fourth game of the campaign. The last time the Dutch failed to qualify for a major tournament was the 2002 World Cup. Their final Group A match is against the Czech Republic. Elsewhere, Iceland were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Latvia, despite having taken a two-goal lead. Italy qualified for the finals and kept up their unbeaten Group H record with victory over Azerbaijan in Baku. The Italians went ahead when Sampdoria striker Eder slotted in from Marco Verratti's superb pass. Azerbaijan equalised through Dmitri Nazarov's low, first-time strike, but Italy regained the lead as Stephan El Shaarawy tapped in from close range. Full-back Matteo Darmian added a third whilst Azeri defender Badavi Huseynov was sent off late on. Having failed to make it to Sweden in 1992, Italy - the competition runners-up in 2000 and 2012 - have now qualified for six consecutive Euro tournaments. Norway and Croatia will battle it out for second spot, after beating Malta and Bulgaria respectively. The Norwegians are away to The Azzurri in their final group game on Tuesday, while Croatia face a trip to Malta. Holders Spain and Switzerland booked their places at Euro 2016 with comfortable victories on Friday. The Arse midfielder Santi Cazorla and Valencia striker Paco Alcacer both scored twice in Logrono as Spain beat Luxembourg 4-0 to win Group C. However, Sheikh Yer Man City midfielder David Silva and forward Alvaro Morata both came off with injuries. In Group E, Leicester City's Gokhan Inler scored as Switzerland thumped San Marino 7-0 to secure their spot. Slovenia's 1-1 draw against Lithuania ensured Switzerland join group winners England in France. The Republic of Ireland produced a stunning victory over world champions Germany on Thusday to leave automatic qualification for Euro 2016 in their own hands. Substitute Shane Long's sublime seventieth-minute finish from a long kick by keeper Darren Randolph, on for the injured Shay Given, secured a memorable win for the Irish. Joachim Löw's side dominated possession in Dublin but could not find the net. Which gave Löw more reason than usual to have a face like a smacked arse. The Republic will qualify for the finals if they defeat Poland in Warsaw on Sunday. They are already guaranteed at least a play-off place, with Scotland able to finish no higher than fourth. Jérôme Boateng headed over for the visitors before Ilkay Gundogan, André Schürrle and Thomas Müller wasted chances as the Republic recorded the most important win of Martin O'Neill's two-year reign.

The Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell, best known for his Wallander series of novels, has died aged sixty seven. The author discovered that he had cancer last year and wrote about the experience in his final book, Quicksand: What It Means To Be A Human Being. His best-selling novels, which follow policeman Kurt Wallander through Sweden and Mozambique, were turned into a TV drama starring Sir Kenneth Branagh in the UK. Sir Kenneth paid tribute, calling the author 'a fine writer and a fine man.' Brannagh was the third actor to play the irascible detective. In Mankell's home country, both Rolf Lassgard and Krister Henriksson played the role. BBC4 screened the latter version in the UK and it gained something of a cult following. In a statement, Sir Kenneth said: 'In life and in art Henning Mankell was a man of passionate commitment. I will miss his provocative intelligence and his great personal generosity. Aside from his stringent political activism and his decades of work in Africa, he also leaves an immense contribution to Scandinavian literature. His loving family, and those privileged to know him, together with readers from all over the world, will mourn a fine writer and a fine man.' Born in February 1948, Mankell wrote dozens of plays, novels, children's books and screenplays. But it was for his Wallander series that he was most renowned. The rumpled and gloomy detective got his name when Mankell ran his finger through a telephone directory, but went on to sell more than forty million books. Mankell's life and career were shaped by the divorce of his parents when he was just two years old. He lived with his father, a judge, and barely saw his mother until he was fifteen. When the family moved to a remote town in the North of Sweden, the young Mankell immersed himself in books, reading extensively about Africa and learned that imagination could be an instrument of survival, not just of creativity. 'In my mind I created another mother for myself to replace the one who had left,' he once said. 'And, I think this was me at my best, when the forces of imagination had the same value as the real world.' Unimpressed by school, Mankell left at the age of sixteen to join the merchant navy, becoming a stevedore labourer on a ship carrying coal and iron ore. Two years later, he set up home in Paris, barely scraping a living ('I don't know how I survived,' he said later) but thriving on the student activism and political debate of the era. After two years, Mankell returned to Stockholm to work as a stage-hand. There, aged twenty, he wrote his first play, The Amusement Park, about Swedish colonial interests in Nineteenth Century South America. Mankell's début novel, The Stone-Blaster, soon followed. Kurt Wallander first appeared in 1989's Faceless Killers, investigating a murder in which the only clue is that the perpetrators appear to have been foreigners. When that information was leaked to the public, it triggered a series of racially-motivated attacks, explored in the book through the themes of racism and national identity in Sweden. At first, the author was unaware he had created a recurring character, 'but then I realised after two or three novels that I had this instrument who could be useful.' Speaking to the Torygraph in 2011, Mankell said: 'I wanted to show how difficult it is to be a good police officer. But after, I think, the third novel, I spoke to this friend of mine and asked what sort of disease I could give him. Without hesitating, she said: "Diabetes!" So I gave him diabetes and that made him more popular. I mean, you could never imagine James Bond giving himself a shot of insulin, but with Wallander it seemed perfectly natural.' Although he became known as a leading proponent of so-called 'Scandi Crime', Mankell was not a fan of genre fiction. 'I could never write a crime story just for the sake of it, because I always want to talk about certain things,' he said, citing Macbeth as the best crime story he had ever read and the novelist John Le Carre as a key influence on his own writing. 'He investigates the contradictions inside man, between men, and between man and society; and I hope to do the same,' Mankell told the Gruniad. Sir Kenneth tried to bring the same gravitas to his TV portrayal of the detective. 'We're not taking lightly the idea of people being murdered,' he told the BBC in 2010. 'Wallander demands that he and his colleagues care and the drama invites the audience to do the same.' Throughout his adult life, Mankell divided his time between Sweden and Mozambique, where he ran a theatre company and devoted time to the fight against AIDs. He was active in the 'memory books' project, which encourages parents with HIV to record their stories, not just for their children but for future generations. He took a strongly pro-Palestinian position, repeatedly comparing Israel to South Africa and asserting that it was building a new Apartheid society. He sailed on one of the ships that attempted to break the blockade of Gaza in 2010 and was seized by Israeli commandos. In later years he worried about the surveillance state, and warned that digital technologies were being used to make the individual transparent while governments and corporations could operate in secrecy. Shortly after New Year 2014, the author went to see an orthopaedic surgeon in Stockholm with what he assumed was a slipped disc. But tests revealed a tumour in his lung, another in his neck and evidence the cancer had spread throughout his body. 'It was a catastrophe for me,' Mankell told US radio station NPR last year. 'Everything that was normal to me up to that point was gone all of a sudden. No one had died of cancer in my family. I had always assumed I'd die of something else.' He is survived by his wife of seventeen years, Eva Bergman - the daughter of Ingmar Bergman - and his four sons by a previous marriage, Thomas, Marius, Morten and Jon Mankell, the latter a film producer who helped bring Stieg Larsson's Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series to the big screen.

The former Antiques Roadshow host Hugh Scully has died at the age of seventy two. Huge Scullery - as he was once affectionately parodied on an episode of Not The Nine O'Clock News - joined the BBC as a freelance journalist in 1965 and hosted Nationwide before presenting Antiques Roadshow with Arthur Negus from 1981. One of the highlights of Hugh's stewardship of the Roadshow came in Barnstaple when a couple turned up with a painting while out walking their dog. The programme's picture expert, Peter Nahum, was sure it was a long-lost watercolour by the Nineteenth-Century artist Richard Dadd and sent it to London for a second opinion. Confirmed as Dadd's Halt In The Desert By Moonlight, the painting was valued at one hundred grand and how hangs in the British Museum. Hugh resigned from the BBC in 2000 to join an Internet auction company launching an antiques business. Born in Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire, Hugh spent much of his childhood in Malta and Egypt, where his father was stationed with the Royal Air Force. He was sent to boarding school in Bath at the age of thirteen. He thought of following his father into the RAF, but failed his interview and at seventeen took a job with the Steinway & Sons piano company, music having been a particular interest at school, where he had dreamed of becoming a concert pianist. Sacked for bad time-keeping, Hugh next tried his hand as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. But when an aunt left him five hundred knicker in her will, he determined to travel the world, in the event getting as far as Paris, where he fell in with some journalists who spent each evening drinking at a particular café near the Arc de Triomphe. Envying the journalists' lifestyle, and having soon frittered the money away on horses and high living, Hugh returned to Britain and wrote to every newspaper in the country asking for a job. In April 1963, and just turned twenty, he wrote to the BBC, claiming - quite falsely - to have worked as a correspondent for the International Herald-Tribune in Paris and setting out 'ten good reasons' why he thought they should employ him. By return of post, they invited him to an audition. The result was a two-week spell in Southampton as a radio newsreader, followed by a freelance contract with the BBC's newsroom in Plymouth. His big break came in March 1967 when the oil tanker Torrey Canyon ran aground off the Scilly Isles and started leaking oil. Having had a tip-off from the local stringer, Hugh telephoned the BBC's main newsroom in London and organised a twin-engined aircraft to get a camera crew aloft to film aerial pictures of the disaster. Always a freelance journalist rather than an employee, he worked on various BBC news magazine shows and was presenter on the BBC South West news programme Spotlight from 1965, before joining the networked news magazine format Nationwide four years later. In 1977 he moved to London to take over from Michael Barratt as its main anchorman, including its consumer rights offspring Watchdog, launched in 1980, which later became a successful show in its own right. After a producer discovered that Hugh collected antiques, he became chairman of the radio show Talking about Antiques in 1967 and, later, the TV series Collector's World in 1970, in which he first worked with the legendary antiques expert Negus. Following the demise of Nationwide in 1983, Hugh formed his own successful production company, Fine Art Productions, and was executive producer and interviewer on such acclaimed television documentaries as The Falklands War with the British Task Force commander Admiral Sandy Woodward, Thatcher: The Downing Street Years (1993) and an analysis of the 'wilderness years' of the Labour Party, pre-1997. For his Falklands series, Hugh remortgaged his house and set off for Argentina where he persuaded members of the Argentine junta and military to take part. In Washington, he filmed interviews with the former US Secretary of State Al Haig and the American Secretary for Defence Caspar Weinberger. Commissioned by Channel Four, The Falklands War became an award-winning, four-part series of one-hour documentaries and was shown all over the world. It still crops up regularly on channels like Discovery History. Next time it's on, check it out, it's really good. In 1992 he read that Margaret Thatcher was planning to publish her memoirs, and persuaded her to co-operate with a television tie-in. Waiting for the former Thatch in her Belgravia drawing-room, Scully noticed a collection of Worcester porcelain but when he ventured a conversational ice-breaker on the subject discovered that she had no small talk. 'Yes, yes, come and sit down' was all she said before barking: 'What do you know about the Franco-Prussian war?' Despite this unpropitious start, Fine Art Productions got the gig. Former Nationwide co-presenter Sue Lawley remembered Scully as 'a great talent' who was 'fun-loving' and most proud of his two interviews with Margaret Thatcher. Peter Salmon, who was controller of BBC1 between 1997 and 2000, said that Scully's 'incredible' nineteen years at Antiques Roadshow had won him 'a special place in the hearts of so many.' He added: 'Hugh was a great servant of the BBC for more than thirty years. He was a wonderful journalist and presenter. He will be sadly missed.' Scully left Antiques Roadshow because it was feared his new external role would jeopardise the programme's reputation for not favouring the expertise of any one auction house. At the time of his departure, he described the programme as always 'a delight and one of the best jobs in broadcasting.' Scully interviewed Baroness Thatcher in 1993, following the publication of her memoirs. Recalling his first meeting with the former Prime Monster ahead of the interviews, Hugh told the Independent, he feared things had gone awry. 'She really wasn't interested in the programmes. I would have expected a lot of questions about what was involved. I went away thinking the meeting hadn't gone well.' Scully's son, Oliver, said that his father had died on Thursday afternoon while watching television at his Cornwall home. In retirement he collected Eighteenth-Century political cartoons, marine watercolours and an enviable cellar of French burgundies. He also augmented his lifetime's collection of LPs (he owned ten thousand, most of which were in storage) and many thousands of classical music CDs. In 1966, Hugh married Barbara Dean, who died in 2009. They lived in a castellated mansion in a village near Truro, bought on the spot in 1993 a day after seeing it advertised in Country Life magazine. He is survived by the couple's two sons.

The broadcaster and writer Gordon Honeycombe, the face of ITN News between 1965 and 1977, has died in Australia aged seventy nine. The newsreader, who was also a successful author and playwright, made his first TV appearance as an extra in 1960s satirical series That Was The Week That Was. He joined ITN in 1965, and was twice voted the UK's most popular newsreader. Honeycombe went on to spend five years on breakfast show TV-am in the 1980s before he moved abroad. Gordon Honeycombe was born in 1936 in Karachi, then part of the British Raj, was educated at the Edinburgh Academy and read English at University College, Oxford. His degree was later raised to an MA. He completed National Service with the Royal Artillery, mainly in Hong Kong, where he was also an announcer with Radio Hong Kong. Returning to the UK, he embarked on an acting career. His first ambition was to be a writer, but he was offered a job in a theatrical company run by Richard Ingrams. For four months the six actors in the group each played ten parts, touring schools with a dramatised anthology about prisons and prisoners at various times in history. When he was auditioned by Laurence Olivier for a part at Chichester, he put his rejection down to being so tall – six foot four – that he dwarfed other actors. 'I present such an extreme figure – useful to drape a set with, but to be featured in front isn't so good, especially for smaller actors,' he said. But the Royal Shakespeare Company felt differently. In 1960, his play The Miracles had been staged at Oxford, with Honeycombe as Peter and the RSC took it up for performances in Southwark Cathedral in 1963 and at Consett, in 1970. In 1962 the RSC had wanted an extra actor at Stratford, and gave him eleven pounds a week. After a year, he was moved to the company’s London theatre, the Aldwych, where he played for another year. But when the company went to the US with King Lear and A Midsummer Night's Dream, he realised that he would be travelling three thousand miles to say five words in one play and none in the other. He decided to stay in London, with some acting on television until he found the role in the medium in which he excelled. He joined ITN News in 1965 after a two-minute screen test, and earned twenty five quid a week as their main news anchor. Despite his popularity, he left after twelve years to concentrate on writing, publishing several books and writing TV screenplays, before his five-year stint on TV-am. Speaking to the Daily Scum Express in 2013, Gordon said: 'In 1989, I decided to change my life. Although my career was going well, it struck me that I was fifty three and time was passing me by. Fed up with the British climate, I quit TV-am and emigrated to Perth. Within a year, I was producing and directing a play in the city and incredibly happy.' From 1965, Honeycombe, beside his own books, wrote for television, radio, stage and films. During that period he contributed to the writing of a classic Ken Loach-directed BBC Wednesday Play, The Golden Vision (1968). The play, about the lives of a group of Everton fans, was partly drawn from the experiences of Liverpool-born Neville Smith, who had acted in several Loach dramas. This was Smith's television writing debut, so the producer Tony Garnett recommended an experienced collaborator. Loach chose Gordon - a former fellow student actor at Oxford - after reading in Private Eye about the BBC rejecting a football play Gordon had written some years previously only to then launch the near identically-titled drama serial United! (1965-67). According to Loach biographer Anthony Hayward, Honeycombe's contribution was to bring structure to Smith's story Gordon produced his first novel, Neither The Sea Nor The Sand in 1969. Now regarded as a minor horror claassic, this was made into a film in 1972, starring Susan Hampshire, Frank Finlay and Michael Petrovitch. He also wrote the Northumbrian ghost story Under The Dragon (1972) which was followed by a factual account of the Drug Squad in London, Adam's Tale (1974) and a book on the fire service, Red Watch (1976), which scrutinised the courageous actions of firemen at the Worsley hotel, West London, in 1974. They rescued fifty people by scaling ladders and climbing up the walls of the building, but seven people died, including a probationary firefighter. By November 1977, the firemen were taking industrial action, picketing fire stations in support of a pay claim which they saw as years overdue. As a newscaster discussing and preparing the content of his bulletins, as well as reading them, Honeycombe was familiar with the usual objective reports about the issue. But he then wrote for a national daily newspaper a full-page article backing the firemen. 'It is sad that the rights of these men to a better wage have been ignored, not just this year or during the last decade, but for one hundred years since the brigade was formed,' he said. 'There is only one humane solution. Give the firemen back their self-respect and pride. Give them the money.' His ITN editor suspended him and asked for assurances that he would make no further statement on the dispute. Honeycombe had already arranged to leave ITN to concentrate on writing and, since he had the paperback of Red Watch appearing imminently, he declined to the editor's request. He pointed out that he was bound to be asked by journalists covering his book what he thought about the firemen's industrial action and that he could not, in honesty, say other than that he supported it. This, he continued to do, greeted as a hero when speaking at union meetings and picket lines around England and Wales, and helping the firemen to an eventual positive outcome. After parting company, reasonably amicably, with ITN, Gordon spent the next year doing acting jobs in the provinces, singing ballads as a part of music-hall turns and making his debut as a television actor, playing a Jeremy Paxman-type interviewer in the ATV series The Foundation. His prolific writing for the stage included a musical, The Princess & The Goblins, staged at the Quaker school, Great Ayton, in 1976, a version of Paradise Lost, staged in York and at the Old Vic and the Edinburgh festival (1975-77), Waltz Of My Heart (1980) and Lancelot & Guinevere (also 1980). His fatual books continued with Nagasaki 1945 and Royal Wedding (both 1981). In a return to true-crime writing, The Murders Of The Black Museum (1982) spawned a number of sequels. In 1984 Honeycombe returned to TV joining the new breakfast television station TV-am as a newscaster, and stayed there for five years. Getting up at 4.30 each morning, he presented seven bulletins. A return to acting followed including turns in panto - Aladdin in Wimbledon (1989) and in Bournemouth, where he lived a year later and a tour of Run For Your Wife with the comedian Les Dawson in 1990. Then came the move to Australia that he had first contemplated a quarter of a century earlier. At the start of it he produced and directed The Redemption: A Play Of The Life of Christ, his own adaptation of medieval dramas from York, Towneley, Chester and Coventry, at the Perth festival, Western Australia. He remained in Perth, where he found the climate much more to his liking. In Australia he specialised in voiceovers for radio and television and continued to take the odd film role. 'I've become seduced by the Australian philosophy that "tomorrow's another day" and I lead a relaxed life which couldn't be better,' he told an interviewer in May 2013. In 2005 he returned to Britain to co-present an edition of ITV's Evening News with Mary Nightingale to mark the channel's fiftieth anniversary. He was also a visitor to Cornwall: though he was fascinated by tracing his family's Cornish roots, he did not add to the limited number of bearers of the Honeycombe name, claiming to be 'too selfish' and immersed in his work to marry. ITN chief executive John Hardie said: 'Tonight ITN mourns the passing of one of the UK's most distinguished and revered broadcasters.'

The actor and stuntman Derek Ware has died at the age of seventy seven. Derek was a regular performer on Doctor Who throughout the first ten years of the BBC's popular family SF drama's existence, appearing in over twenty episodes and acting as Fight Arranger on many more. Born in Manchester in 1938, he appeared in the very first Doctor Who story, An Unearthly Child, where he doubled for the actor Jeremy Young in the fight scene between the cavemen Kal and Za (Derek Newark), Doctor Who's first proper fight sequence. Derek returned to the series arranging the fight between Mark Eden and Derren Nesbitt in Marco Polo and between William Russell and Ian Cullen in The Aztecs. As well as fight arranging, Derek got back in front of the cameras in 1964 in The Crusade playing the role of a Saracen Warrior. Later that year he played a bus conductor in the final scenes of The Chase when Ian and Barbara return to London. Derek continued with minor roles in The Myth Makers and The Daleks' Master Plan where he was the Egyptian messenger Tuthmos. He played a Spanish sailor in The Smugglers and arranged the fights in the Patrick Troughton stories The Underwater Menace and the recently recovered The Web Of Fear. In 1970 Derek formed HAVOC, a team of specialist stunt performers who regularly worked on the Jon Pertwee era of the show. The Ambassadors Of Death, Inferno, where he played UNIT's Private Wyatt, Terror Of The Autons, The Sea Devils and The Claws Of Axos all benefited from Derek's stunt skills, whilst he also, memorably, played the nonsense-spouting tramp Pigbin Josh in the latter story who has since become something of a cult character in certain parts of Doctor Who fandom. The weird parts, basically. 'Furge-thangering-muck-witchellers-rock-throbblin' this-time-o'-day. Ur-bin-oughta-gone-put-thickery-blarmdasted-zones-about, gordangun, diddenum? Havver-froggin'-law-onnum, shouldnum? Eh? Arn I? Oh ar? Aargh!" and all that. You had to be there, dear blog reader. Those twin relics of early 1970s Britain, spiralling inflation and 'union problems' saw the end of HAVOC's work on Doctor Who after the 1971 series and Derek never worked on the show again. He continued his work as a stunt performer and actor working on a bewildering array of series including The Spread Of The Eagle, Z Cars, Colditz, King Cinder, The Prisoner Of Zenda, The Kenny Everett Television Show, Last Of The Summer Wine, Adam Adamant Lives!, The Changes, Doom Castle, Scarf Jack, EastEnders, Jane, The Avengers, Quick Before They Catch Us, The Troubleshooters, Paul Temple, Budgie, The Lotus Eaters, Dixon Of Dock Green, The Onedin Line, Rutland Weekend Television, Get Some In!, The Dick Emery Show, Hazell, Dempsey & Makepeace, The Two Ronnies and Grange Hill. He was the battle co-ordinator in Peter Watkins' memorable 1966 docudrama Culloden and also worked on Watkins' next project, The War Game which was banned from TV for almost two decades. He appeared with Michael Crawford in a much-repeated clip from Some Mother's Do 'Ave 'Em when he played a window cleaner working alongside the hapless Frank Spencer. The stunt, which featured both actors hanging from a window cleaning platform on the side of a London skyscraper, went wrong when the cradle became stuck, resulting in both actors being trapped three hundred feet feet above the ground. Derek also worked on movies including the classic The Italian Job (playing Rozzer, one of Charlie Croker's gang of armed blaggers), Krull, Willow, Far From The Madding Crowd, Witchfinder General and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. Derek had trained at RADA and for many years a Derek Ware Prize was awarded at the academy for the best fight based around a classical text. Coming from a family of entertainers his stage career had started at the age of four. In 1990 an injury ended his stunt career, and he instead became a Fencing coach.

It has to be said, dear blog reader, every so often one of those dreadful newspaper polls in which readers are asked a loaded question does produce the right answer. Not often, but occasionally. Take this example, from the Daily Mirra.
And now, dear blog reader, a few personal observations about the last week. And, what a very odd and discombobulated week that was, that was. This blogger has to confess that when it was first announced, he was initially rather annoyed about this whole 'you have to pay five pee for your carrier bags from supermarkets now' malarkey which kicked in this week in England. It just seemed to be one more thing introduced which appeared deliberately designed to inconvenience people that didn't need to be there. Then, however, yer actual found out that the Daily Scum Mail was, also, against it. And, all of a sudden, it didn't seem anywhere near so bad a thing, frankly.
Earlier this week, this blogger had his six monthly medical check up. It was the full whack - flu jab, blood taken (quite a lot as well, not just one or two of those little plastic thingys but five. I was about to go into full Hancock's Half Hour mode by the last one), blood-pressure, weight, finger up the unmentionable, 'cough' ... et cetera. Keith Telly Topping hasn't had that much fun since a night in Soho in 1988 which involved many of the same processes.
On Monday evening, this blogger received what he believes to have been an abusive phone call! And, what a very odd experience that was too, first time that's ever happened at Stately Telly Topping Manor. Sadly, it was such an awful line that yer actual Keith Telly Topping could barely make out what the caller - whom, he thinks might've been female, but he can't be entirely sure - wished to scream at him before slamming the phone down. But, she (or, possibly he) sounded really very angry indeed over something or other. Watch now, knowing Keith Telly Topping's luck it'll have been a wrong number!
Monday of this week, dear blog reader, was also very much a case of Jam today rather than Jam tomorrow. Oh yes.
Now, for a word from Brian Eno's cat.
Never a chore, that. And now ...
Given that the world was due to be 'permanently annihilated' on Wednesday evening (apparently), this blogger thought that he'd go out with a bang and so yer actual Keith Telly Topping had himself a very potent 'salt and chilli dry fried King Prawn (very spicy) with egg friend rice' meal from the local takeaway. Keith Telly Topping thought he'd treat himself since, well, there would be no tomorrow to regret it, would there? As you might expect - given the fact that when the Royal Garden said 'very spicy' they really sodding well meant it - yer actual therefore spent much of the rest of Wednesday evening hallucinating and believing that he could see through walls. Which wasn't, actually, anywhere near as pleasurable an experience as you might think it would be. Though, later that evening I did have an unexpected visit from Our Colin Telly Topping and Our Maureen Telly Topping to Stately Telly Topping Manor. Well, it's always nice to spend the End of Days with family isn't it dear blog reader? Of course, in the event, the apocalypse didn't happen. I wonder, therefore, if someone could pass this blogger the contact details for the eBible Fellowship, an online affiliation headquartered near Philadelphia, the group which had confidently predicted The Coming Of The Lord so that this blogger can reclaim the £6.20 he spent on his final meal.
Of course, should it have turned out that this was an accurate prediction of Armageddon and, also, that there is an afterlife, that would have been worth hanging around for, just to see the pissed-off reaction of numerous atheists. 'Oh crap, I've got an eternity of being wrong to look forward to ...'

To be fair, some Christians have had a lot on their mind recently, particularly in the US in the wake of that dreadful school shooting in Oregon.
For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day, dear blog reader, features Bob and his boys.

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