Saturday, March 19, 2016

If Winter Comes, Can Spring Be Far Behind?

Sherlock fans were elated, rightly, when yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman his very self reprised their roles as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in the New Year special of the series, The Abominable Bride (currently, the most watched programme on British TV so far this year with a final and consolidated audience of 11.64m punters). News about the upcoming fourth series has been, thus far, rather thin on the ground but, earlier this month, an Interweb rumour claimed that a popular British actor could be coming to the series and taking on the role of the mythical third Holmes brother. Well, if it's on the Interweb, it must be true, surely? According to Parent Herald - no, me neither - Tom Hiddleston is 'being eyed' by Sherlock co-creators Mark Gatiss and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE). And, given Tom's recently nakedness in an episode of The Night Manager, they're probably not the only ones giving him a bit of serious eye. The website claims - with absolutely no supporting evidence, let it be noted - that Gatiss was 'hesitant at first' about being able to get the Thor actor to sign up for Sherlock, given that Tom is currently busy 'with ongoing projects.' Quite where the website got this gem of alleged information from, they don't say. Hiddleston is currently filming Kong: Skull Island and will also be reprising his role as Loki in next year's Thor: Ragnarok, which is expected to start filming 'sometime this year,' so it's unclear how the actor could find a window in his packed schedule to fit in an appearance in Sherlock, even if it was just for one episode. The drama's creators have yet to comment on the rumour. Although a Greg Lestrade one-worder from The Empty Hearse - 'bollocks!' - might be applicable. The problem, of course, with claiming a 'world exclusive', in relation to any subject, is that if it subsequently doesn't come true, people are entitled not to believe anything you say from that moment onwards. So, we shall see. In March 2015, Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) told Entertainment Weekly that that no guest stars had - at that time - been booked for series four. 'But as Mark always says, it's better to be a star-maker. We found all these people, Benedict, Andrew Scott, Lara Pulver. These people launched careers on the basis of doing the show. It's tough because we got Benedict and Martin - they're probably the two biggest British film stars. If you pay extra money to cast somebody famous, are they actually going to provide you with one single extra viewer?' Meanwhile, PBS president Paula Kerger confirmed at a recent press event that Sherlock will be returning 'in 2017.' Which we sort of knew, anyway. 'As you know, Benedict has gotten to be somewhat popular since we began our work with him and he very much wants to continue with Sherlock,' said Kerger. Yer man Cumberbatch has recently been filming Marvel's Doctor Strange. After that, he is expected to begin working on the biopic Flying Horse and he is also, at some stage, set to star as Thomas Edison in the movie The Current War. As Sherlock is - or, at least, was a few months ago - tentatively scheduled to begin filming 'around April-ish' to fit around Benny and Marty's schedules, it is unknown as to how many episodes will be filmed for series four - although three, as usual, is thought to be likely - and, whether they will all be filmed in one block.
Monday night saw that bloody Davina McCall take on another challenge as her - utterly contrived - four-part factual format continued on ITV. Davina McCall: Life At The Extreme (9pm) invites viewers to get down on their hands and knees and grovel in their awestruck wonder as Davina hangs out (briefly) in 'extreme' environments. So, at least in terms of the title, the producers can't be sued under the Trades Description Act. After opening with 3.48 million overnight viewers, the second episode saw the initial audience fall to 3.11 million. The not-very-commercial mixture of travelogue, celebrity musings and natural history's latest venture into the cold of Svalbard, with McCall getting all emotional about an encounter with a polar bear, was not able to arrest the significant downward spiral of the ratings. A total of 2.53 million viewers watched, sadly, as the polar bear didn't eat Davina and then go after the person who dreamed up this dreadful wasted of time and effort; that was a drop of six hundred thousand overnight punters week-on-week. Davina's show, as it happened, was at that very moment getting an over-the-knee hiding from its BBC1 opposition. The factual documentary Behind Closed Doors, following a year with Thames Valley Police's domestic abuse teams, attracted a much more worthy 2.80m. It featured three extremely brave women who waived their right to anonymity to tell their sad stories. On BBC2, in the same time slot, The People Versus OJ Simpson: American Crime Story reached the halfway point (episode five) which saw Johnny Cochrane manipulating the media to his client's benefit, Sarah Paulson scowling a lot and John Travolta still looked like he'd had his face remodelled in Plasticine. So, no change there, then. This attracted 1.27 million viewers, the drama's lowest overnight thus far. On Channel Five, the rebooted The X-Files came to an end after six episodes (three of which were really very good indeed, although the finale wasn't one of them) with a cliff-hanger teasing, one suspects, more adventures for Mulder and Scully. Hopefully, far fewer of which will be written by Chris Carter and a damn-sight more by The Godlike Genius of Darin Morgan. Just sayin'. The finale brought in 1.59 million overnight viewers. The series overnight average across all six episodes has been around 2.2 million whilst Channel Five's slot average for 9pm on Monday is 1.3 million. Even ignoring the huge timeshifts The X Files has been attracting - the consolidated audience for its first four episodes currently stands at 3.4 million viewers - that has to be considered a more-than-decent success. Channel Four's Royal Navy School drew 1.48 million viewers. On FOX, the latest episode of The Walking Dead continued with six hundred and sixteen thousand. Earlier in the day Tales From Northumberland With Wor Geet Canny Robson Green (ITV, 8pm) attracted 2.61 million viewers while BBC2's University Challenge secured 2.65 million. Channel Four's Dispatches: Housing Benefit Millionaires had an overnight audience of 1.06 million also at 8pm while BBC1's Panorama episode Shaken Babies: What's the Truth? was watched by 1.80 million at 8:30pm. The return of the cult favourite Only Connect to BBC2 for a Sports Relief special, also at 8.30pm, drew an impressive 2.05 million. As usual it was the soaps which grabbed all the Monday glory, with Emmerdale seen by 6.12 million viewers at 7pm and Coronation Street's two episodes having audiences of 6.90 million at 7:30pm and 6.25 million at 8.30pm. In-between BBC1's EastEnders was watched by 6.41 million. Boris: The London Years had 3.25 million at 7.30pm whilst, earlier, The ONE Show drew 4.36m. At least one of whom would appear to be a complete plank (see below). Apart from the twin attractions of University Challenge and Only Connect, BBC2's evening also included This Farming Life (1.41 million) and a Qi XL repeat (1.02 million). Food Unwrapped on Channel Four was seen by 1.46m at 8pm. Police Interceptors on Channel Five had 1.03m. BBC4's The Art Of Scandinavia was watched by five hundred and forty four thousand.
The second series of BBC1's Happy Valley (9pm), came to an end on Tuesday in an expectedly bloody and traumatising fashion. Differing from the first series which focused on one overarching narrative, the second featured several plot strands that were all tied together neatly in the finale. Series one opened with an overnight audience of 6.3 million viewers in April 2014, with the next four episodes averaging around 5.6 million before wrapping up with another six million plus audience. In February, the return of Happy Valley brought in the show's biggest audience to date, 6.5 million viewers but that was nothing compared to the overnight figure for the the sixth and final episodes watched by an impressive 7.40 million viewers. Now, here's a statistic which may horrify you, dear blog reader. Despite enticing plenty of shock, praise and other assorted badly-spelled impressions on Twitter, Happy Valley was actually beaten in the 'Twitter chart' by a new episode of Geordie Shore (MTV, 10pm) which was watched by just three hundred and twenty four thousand viewers but generated twenty one thousand tweets of the 'OMG, did U C that' type. All of which proves how utterly meaningless Twitter is in regard to gauging the actual popularity of TV programmes. Or, indeed, anything other than the popularity of Twitter users hearing the sound of their own voice. BBC2 had the show with the second largest overnight audience in the 9pm slot, with high-powered documentary Inside Obama's Whitehouse, an account of the US President's highs and lows. The first of four episodes looked at the first one hundred days as told by his chief advisories, resulted in 1.59 million viewers. On ITV, it was time for another generic filler show about traffic, roads and accidents in Speeding Wars (9pm), which brought in 1.42 million viewers on what was, Emmerdale aside, another truly horrific night for the commercial network. Emmerdale's 5.91 million at 7pm was followed by The Inspectors Are Coming (1.95 million at 7.30pm), ghastly imbecilic flop It's Not Rocket Science (a laughably piss-poor 1.67m at 8pm) and Speeding Wars. By contrast, BBC1's Tuesday line-up, even before Happy Valley, continues to be strong with The ONE Show attracting 4.24m, EastEnders with 6.99m and Holby City drawing 4.68m at 8pm. On Channel Four, there was another batch of TV-ready affected personalities ready for their fifteen minutes of fatal fame on a new series of First Dates at 9pm. An average of 1.31 million viewers tuned in for the weekly splat of contrived nonsense. There were reality TV characters of completely different aspirations over on Channel Five as the second series of Benefits by the Sea: Jaywick (9pm) continued, with nine hundred and thirty eight thousand viewers tuning in for another weekly dose of demonisation of poor people. At 8pm, Mary Berry's Easter Feast brought in 2.76 million viewers to BBC2, Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners had 1.46 million on Channel Four and Britain's Horror Homes brought in seven hundred and ninety two thousand viewers on Channel Five. The rest of Five's evening line-up included yet more sneering at the poor, Benefits By The Sea, with nine hundred and fifty eight thousand and The Best Of Bad TV: When Chat Shows Go Wrong watched by four hundred and forty thousand viewers. On multichannels, Sky1's The Flash had four hundred and twelve thousand, the opening episode of E4's The Aliens had two hundred and ninety nine thousand and Sky Living's Blindspot was seen by a fraction over two hundred thousand.
Wednesday is a traditionally strong night for IV and this week was no different. Emmerdale was watched by 5.71m from 7pm, followed by Coronation Street (6.52m at 7.30pm), the wretched, puke-inducing steaming pile of rancid horseshit Big Stars Little Star (3.29m t 8pm) and Grantchester (4.49m at 9pm). On BBC1, The ONE Show had an audience of 3.59m, Shop Well For Less? attracted 4.13m and worthless vanity exercise in the name of charriddeee, Famous, Rich & Hopeless was seen by 2.90m, down seven hundred thousand disgusted punters on the previous week's - already low - figure. Because, let's face it, even watching z-listers of the stature of Willie Thorne and Kim Woodburn suffering had limited entertainment value after a while. BBC2's This Farming Life kicked-off the channel's evening with 1.42m at 7pm, after which Horizon drew six hundred and thirty two thousand and the very watchable documentary Brendan O'Carroll: My Family At War was watched by 1.05m. On Channel Four, Scruffts: Britain's Favourite Dog pulled in 1.14m at 8pm. Twenty Four Hours In A&E had an audience of 1.70m on hour later. GPs: Behind Closed Doors was watched by 1.16m on Channel Five at 8pm. Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords drew seven hundred and sixty thousand viewers, whilst Person Of Interest had three hundred and sixty seven thousand at 10pm. E4's The One Hundred attracted four hundred and one thousand punters at 9pm. On Sky1, Arrow had two hundred and fifty nine thousand and, on Sky Living, a new episode of Grey's Anatomy was seen by one hundred and forty one thousand.
Thursday brought a distinctly underwhelming TV schedule for primetime viewers with a mixture of lightweight nonsense deservedly failing to secure significant audiences. BBC1 did manage to cop the largest 'hit' in the 9pm timeslot, with the broadcaster showing a final warm-up for Sport Relief before the weekend's annual telethon. Jo Brand's Hell Of A Walk For Sport Relief documented the twisty-faced comedian and presenter's, admittedly laudable, effort to inspire middle-aged women to take part, making a seven-day one hundred and thirty five-mile cross-country journey from Humberside to Merseyside. The main attraction, of course, wasn't the challenge itself but how Jo - not, by her own admission, the fittest lady in the land - would deal with the exhaustion, media attention and blisters in her trademark self-deprecating style. An audience of 3.12 million viewers tuned in to watch how she coped. The non-event of much of the evening's line-up was good news for Channel Four which managed to net the second biggest audience at 9pm with Speed With Guy Martin's F1 'special' (and, one uses that word quite wrongly). Basically a promo-piece for this weekend's F1 début for the channel, 2.36 million viewers watched some Top Gear-lite fun, with the occasionally amusing banter between Martin and David Coulthard. On ITV, the second series of Bear Grylls' celebrity game show about life and death continued to attract pretty much no one with a brain in their head. The third episode of Bear Grylls: Mission Survive saw rations running low in the African bush as one of the contestants was forced to fake a critical injury to spice things up. The first episode had brought in 2.7 million overnight viewers but the show has been on a downward spiral ever since, with the latest 'emergency' securing but 1.89 million viewers. At the same time was Channel Five's 'homage to' - ie. 'complete rip-off of' - Channel Four's far-more successful Twenty Four Hours In A&E, Trauma Doctors (9pm), attracted but nine hundred and sixteen thousand punters. BBC2 broadcast the third and final episode of the anthology crime drama flop Murder. Following a one-off episode in 2012, the new series kicked off with 1.1 million viewers before falling to five hundred and seventeen thousand the following week. The last tale of violence and its repercussions saw the audience fall again to two hundred and seventy three thousand, a staggering seventy four per cent drop in overnight viewing since the opening episode. There wasn't a great deal more excitement for punters at 8pm, with The Secret History Of My Family securing 1.08 million for BBC2, while Channel Four's Ugly House To Lovely House With George Clarke attracted 1.75 million. On Channel Five there was Budgies Make You Laugh Out Loud - stupid title, stupid cheap (in all sense of the word) clip-show - which brought in three hundred and seventy five viewers. Three hundred and seventy four hundred, nine hundred and ninety nine more than such a miserably lowest-common-denominator conceit deserved, frankly (the one viewer who was always going to be watching being the creator's mum, obviously). Camp-as-Bultins' - and desperately unoriginal - workplace documentary The Cruise was watched by 2.48 million viewers and a thirteen per cent share at 8.30pm on ITV. Once again, that's an eye-popping fall from the 4.29 million overnight viewers who watched the opening episode just three weeks ago. The evening's double trip to Emmerdale had audiences of 5.41 million and 5.22 million viewers at 7pm and 8pm, respectively. In between at 7:30pm, Alcohol - How Much Is Too Much?, part of the Tonight strand, pulled in 2.49 million. On BBC1, EastEnders scored the night's top rating at 7:30pm with 6.27 million viewers while the 8:30pm episode of the soap saw figures fall to 5.52 million. The ONE Show drew 4.15m at 7pm. Alan Carr: Chatty Man continues to struggle badly in its new midweek 10pm slot, five hundred and sixty seven thousand punters watching the latest episode, the third of ten in the current series. On BBC2, Big Dreams Small Spaces had 1.18m whilst Full-of-His-Own-Importance-Snob Stewart Lee's Wretchedly Unfunny & Appallingly Smug Comedy Vehicle was watched by four hundred and forty eight thousand Gruniad Morning Star readers at 10pm. BBC4's excellent Digging For Britain: had an overnight audience of six hundred and thirteen thousand at 9pm. The Big Bang Theory was watched by 1.31m on E4 whilst DC's Legends Of Tomorrow drew two hundred and ninety one thousand at 9pm on Sky1.
BBC1's annual charrriddeee telethon, Sport Relief, drew an average overnight audience of 5.09 million viewers for its first three hours between 7pm and 10pm on Friday. The fundraiser switched to BBC2 for forty minutes from 10pm whilst the news was shown on BBC1, this portion of Sports Relief being watched by 2.14m viewers. The rest of the night's entertainment, from 10.40pm till late on BBC1 drew 1.57 million punters. Also on BBC2, Mastermind had an audience of 1.57m from 8pm and Gardeners' World was watched by 2.11 million green-fingered punters at 9pm. ITV's schedule was, as usual, dominated by soaps. Emmerdale attracted 5.49 million at 7pm whilst the evening's two episodes of Coronation Street had 6.19 million from 7.30pm and 5.19 million at 8.30pm. In between the two episodes of Corrie, Best Walks With A View With Julia Bradbury attracted 3.11 million. A repeat of It'll Be Alright On The Night at 9pm was watched by 2,55 million. On Channel Four, Grand Designs drew six hundred and seventy three thousand in the 8pm slot, followed by the latest episode of Gogglebox with a marginally lower than normal overnight of 2.63m at 9pm. A celebratory The Last Leg With Adam Hills - see below - was watched by 1.22m at 10pm. That's So ... 1984 on Channel Five had an audience of five hundred and eighty eight thousand at 8pm after which NCIS: New Orleans was seen by six hundred and twenty two thousand at 9pm and NCIS drew seven hundred and three thousand at 10pm. The latest episode of Stan Lee's Lucky Man was watched by two hundred and eighty one thousand viewers at 9pm. At the same time on Sky Atlantic, The Blacklist attracted one hundred and seventy three thousand. Sky Sports 2's coverage of England's record-breaking victory over South Africa at the cricket T20 World Cup was viewed by an average of four hundred and fifty eight thousand.

More than fifty five million smackers has been raised so far for charity on Sport Relief's live telethon, ahead of a weekend of further fundraising. David Walliams, Alesha Dixon, Gary Lineker and Greg James were among those who hosted the BBC show, broadcast from London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The total of £fifty five million four hundred and forty four thousand nine hundred and six knicker broke the previous on-the-night record of fifty one million notes. Walliams, who has a long association with Sport Relief, revived Little Britain character Emily Howard for a sketch with former England footballer Peter Crouch. Which was every bit as unfunny as you'd expect. Idris Elba starred as John Luther in a one-off sketch which reunited him with Ruth Wilson, who plays nemesis Alice Morgan in the BBC1 crime drama. Plus the highly-trailed Some Mother's Do 'Ave 'Em revival. The overall total included money raised by Sport Relief Challenges, including Jo Brand's Hell Of A Walk. Yer actual Eddie Izzard is still raising money for Sport Relief by running a gruelling twenty seven marathons in twenty seven days across South Africa, which he completed on Sunday.
Davina McCall got quite a bit of attention on Sports Relief as she suffered 'an embarrassing on-screen wardrobe malfunction.' The presenter was 'rocking some major camel toe,' according to the Daily Mirra, during the BBC's live telethon on Friday night and it didn't escape the attention of viewers who must have wondered why Davina was so busy howking at her crotch in front of the entire nation (well, a couple of million punters, anyway since the incident occurred during the BBC2 segment of the all-night telethon).
Saturday's BBC1 schedule began with afternoon Six Nations Rugby coverage and Welsh Wales's match against Italy, seen by 2.57m from 2pm. After that, Final Score was watched by 2.14m, Dynamo: Magician Impossible by 2.06m and Celebrity Mastermind by 2.32m from 5.45pm. Pointless Celebrities drew an impressive 4.42 million from 6.30pm. The rest of the evening was dominated by sport with further Six Nations Rugby and England securing the Grand Slam to go along with the already-won Championship and The Triple Crown with a victory over France in Paris. An evening high of 6.31 million viewers watched the game from 7.20pm. Following The National Lottery Live (4.27m), Match Of The Day blew the final whistle on BBC1's evening with 3.02m viewers. ITV also had one of the final Six Nations games - Ireland versus Scotland - watched by 3.16m from 4.30pm. The channel's highlight of the evening was, as usual, Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway which drew an audience of 6.03m at 7.10pm. You're Back In The Room had 3.54 million whilst The Jonathan Ross Show was watched by 2.01m from 9.40pm. On BBC2, Celebrity Antiques Road Trip got an overnight audience of 1.15m, a repeat of the documentary Perry & Croft: Made In Britain was watched by eight hundred and eighty two thousand, Dad's Army had 1.51m and Michael Jackson's Journey From Motown To Off The Wall - which was really rather good - was seen by 1.18m. Including this blogger his very self. Channel Four's afternoon F1: Australian GP Qualifying Highlights attracted 1.38m, broadly in line with the sort of figures that the equivalent broadcasts last year on BBC2 had. And, all things considered, apart from a hugely out of his depth Steve Jones, the coverage was decent enough. Channel Four Racing drew five hundred and nine thousand. Later, The World's Weirdest Weather attracted eight hundred and sixty thousand and the movie The Day After Tomorrow was watched by 1.31m. On Channel Five, both NCIS: New Orleans (six hundred and thirteen thousand from 7pm) and NCIS (six hundred and sixty three thousand from 8pm) brought in similar overnight audience figures in their new, early evening Saturday slot, to those that they had been getting on Friday nights. At 9pm, The Championship: Football League Tonight had three hundred and eighteen thousand. The opening two episodes of BBC4's new imported Danish drama Follow The Money had overnight figures of five hundred and forty two thousand and four hundred and forty one thousand respectively. Sky Sports News's Gillette Soccer Saturday also drew four hundred and forty one thousand viewers.

The weekend's largest overnight ratings hit didn't arrive until Sunday evening with the amiable rural malarkey of Countryfile (BBC1, 6:45pm) outshining all of Friday's soaps and Saturday's deluge of light entertainment and rugby. This week's adventure in 'walking around in fields and trying to avoid stepping in cow shit while talking to the camera' saw Matt Baker and Ellie Harrison 'hunting for Pooh in the forest' (so, no change there, then) while John Craven visited a junior school. Remember the days when BBC personalities could do that without the need for a close police presence? Anyway, a whopping 6.91 million viewers got their weekly trip to the country. Not that there was a great deal on offer by way of anything else worth watching on the other sides; BBC2 decided to flog a dead horse with Gareth Malone's Great Choir Reunion (7pm) - because adding the word 'great' to a title of a TV show seems to be the default position for BBC producers in the same way that adding the word 'celebrity' is for ITV. The repeat from last year saw seven hundred and ninety nine thousand viewers tuning in. On ITV at 7pm, the drama misfire of the decade so far, Beowulf: Return To The Cesspit finally came to an end after twelve excruciatingly awful episodes. Exactly like Game Of Thrones, except with all of the good stuff missing, 4.4 million overnight viewers tuned in back in January to see the opening episode of this allegedly 'bold reimaging' of the classic Norse poem (for which read, 'complete and total rip-off of Game Of Thrones only without the sex and the violence and the swearing'). Over the next eleven weeks, this wretched, almost unwatchable piece of slovenly, unimaginative crap - which, remember, at least one member of its cast was bragging about having signed a five year contract with when it started - lost almost all of its audience, ending with an overnight of a mere 1.37 million and seven per cent audience share. Which is still seven per cent too many, frankly. Despite much media speculation, ITV have still to officially confirm that Beowulf will not be returning and will, instead, be shovelled into a big box in the cellar along with all the other twenty four carat disasters that ITV have come up with over the years (move over a bit, Jekyll & Hyde, they need more room in there). Possibly they're hoping that everyone will just forget it ever existed. Not likely. After being moved from Saturday's schedule by the rugby, this week's episode of BBC1's The Voice was broadcast at 7.45pm, with the fourth-to-last episode 'milking that magic chemistry' between the judges. Allegedly. A 'healthier than it has been getting' audience of 6.14 million viewers tuned-in, possibly because the series had less opposition than it usually does on Saturday's. In this particular case, ITV's The Story Of Cats which was watched by 2.25m. At 9pm, on ITV Lord Snooty's three-part adaptation of Doctor Thorne came to a close. Whilst there was never the remotest possibility of this creaking mini-series (and snobfest) reaching Downton Abbey-like levels of success, the first episode underperformed with just 3.4 million overnight viewers. A mere 2.64 million were still there for the finale as Tom Hollander's titular character wrapped up the tale of scandalous inter-class love to more-or-less complete viewer disinterest. But it was Tom Hiddleston's The Night Manager (BBC1, 9pm in which Hollander also appears along with Huge Laurie, Olly Colman et al) that continued to win the Sunday evening drama war. The penultimate episode had an overnight audience of 6.24 million viewers. BBC2's Tribes, Predators & Me saw wildlife film-maker Gordon Buchanan hang out with the Waorani tribe in the Amazon Jungle, attracting 1.84 million viewers. On Channel Four, the second episode of Indian Summers' second series managed to draw the drama's smallest overnight audience so far, six hundred and sixty three thousand punters. Channel Four was, nevertheless, the most popular commercial channel across all hours on Sunday with an overall share of 8.03 per cent. Which was jolly grim news for ITV (particularly as an afternoon showing of Octopussy only went and drew fractionally more viewers than Beowulf could). BBC1's evening ended at 10.30pm with 2.52 million watching Match Of The Day 2 and, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though relegation-bound) Magpies latest gutless and cowardly performance and 'triumph' of managing to get a draw against The Mackems. Shameful. On BBC2 at 8pm, a repeat of Chris Packham's highly watchable World's Weirdest Events was seen by 1.32m whilst later, at 10pm, the third episode of the drama Thirteen had five hundred and twenty four thousand. Channel Four's F1: Australian GP Highlights coverage was seen by a fraction over two million viewers. At 6pm, Heston's Dinner In Space was watched by 1.16m whilst Great Canal Journeys had 2.18m and a Gogglebox repeat attracted eight hundred and twenty seven thousand at 10pm. On Channel Five, Now That's Funny (which, as usual, it wasn't) had an audience of eight hundred and ninety thousand, Penn & Teller: Fool Us In Vegas was seen by eight hundred and ninety one thousand and the movie Tower Block drew nine hundred and sixty thousand at 10pm.

The final and consolidated numbers for the Top Twenty programmes, for week-ending Sunday 13 March 2016 were as follows:-
1 Happy Valley - Tues BBC1 - 8.40m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.310m
3 The Night Manager - Sun BBC1 - 8.06m
4 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 7.51m
5 Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway - Sat ITV - 7.13m
6 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.04m
7 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.86m
8 The Voice - Sat BBC1 - 6.18m
9 Grantchester - Wed ITV - 6.13m
10 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 6.01m
11 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.67m
12 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.28m
13 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.09m
14 Shop Well For Less? - Wed BBC1 - 5.03m
15 Holby City - Tues BBC1- 4.97m
16 Gogglebox - Fri C4 - 4.47m
17= FA Cup Match Of The Day Live - Sat BBC1 - 4.29m
17= The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.29m
19 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.236m
20 The National Lottery Live: Win Your Wish List - Sat BBC1 - 3.91m
These consolidated figures include viewers who watched the programmes live and on catch-up, but does not include those who watched on BBC's iPlayer or ITV Player via computers. Those ITV programmes marked "*" indicates they do not include HD viewers. The second episode of Lord Snooty's Doctor Thorne lost 1.2 million viewers in a week from its opening episode figure - 4.46m - to 3.20m (HD not included). On BBC2, University Challenge was watched by 2.78 million, followed by Mary Berry's Foolproof Cooking (2.73), Back In Time For The Weekend (2.46m), Gardeners' World (2.35m), The People Versus OJ Simpson: American Crime Story (2.34m), Steve Backshall's Extreme Mountain Challenge (1.96m), Dad's Army (1.90m) and This Farming Life (1.71m). Aside from Googlebox, The Secret Life Of The Zoo was Channel Four's second most rated broadcast of the week (2.50 million), followed by Royal Navy School (2.20m), The Last Leg With Adam Hills (2.16m), Crufts 2016 (2.10m), Twenty Four Hours In A&E (2.03m) and the return of Indian Summers (1.99m). Channel Five's top performer, by a distance, was again The X-Files (2.81m), whilst two of the channel's other popular US imports Gotham and NCIS attracted 1.35m and 1.20m respectively. Sky Sports 1's Live Ford Football Special and coverage of Norwich City versus Sheikh Yer Man City was watched by five hundred and seventy seven thousand punters. The following day's Live FL Seventy Two and Charlton Not-Very-Athletic against The Middlesbrough Smog Monsters had three hundred and forty three thousand. Sky Sport 2's coverage of Live ICC T20 World Cup cricket and Scotland's calamitous defeat to Afghanistan had one hundred and eighty two thousand viewers. Gillette Soccer Saturday was Sky Sports News's highest-rated broadcast with three hundred and sixty thousand. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (1.05m). Foyle's War drew five hundred and sixty two thousand. A broadcast of Snooker: World Grand Prxi Live, headed ITV4's top ten, though quite why four hundred and fifty six thousand punters felt the urge to watch men 'hitting the coloured and putting their balls on the table' is, perhaps, a question best left for another day. An episode of Family Guy was ITV2's best performer with seven hundred and nineteen thousand. Nice to see ITV2 taking over BBC3's old trick of having its top-ten list headed by a programme it didn't even make for itself. The Keith Lemon Sketch Show had six hundred and one thousand punters. Which, really, tells you every single thing you need to know about ITV2 and why you should never, under any circumstances, watch it. Because, it will melt your brain and give you a nasty skin disease. Probably. The opening episode of Houdini & Doyle topped the list for ITV Encore with a staggeringly awful ninety three thousand viewers. Sorry, how much did that one cost again? Imported Icelandic drama Trapped on BBC4 had audiences of 1.12m and 1.06m for its ninth and tenth episodes. The Return Of The Flying Scotsman was watched by 1.10 million, whilst Digging For Britain was seen by five hundred and seventy seven thousand and The Renaissance Unchained by five hundred and fifty three thousand. The latest The Sky At Night drew four hundred and eighteen thousand and a hastily scheduled repeat of the wonderful Arena documentary Produced By George Martin was watched by four hundred and sixteen thousand. As for BBC3 ... who cares? Actually, if you're really interested, another repeat of wretched, unfunny Gavin & Stacey drew fifty thousand punters with nothing better to do to their Interweb browsers. Sky 1's most watched dramas were Stan Lee's Lucky Man (1.17m), Hawaii Five-0 (1.04m) and DC's Legends of Tomorrow (1.02m). The Flash attracted nine hundred and forty three thousand and Limitless, eight hundred and fifty nine thousand. Sky Atlantic's weekly list was topped by Blue Bloods (two hundred and ninety six thousand), One Hundred Code (one hundred and sixty thousand) and Girls (ninety four thousand). The much-trailed Vinyl was seen by but sixty seven thousand whilst one of the daily repeats of the greatest TV show in the history of the medium that doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title - The West Wing - was seen by fifty nine thousand. On Sky Living, The Blacklist was watched by eight hundred and twenty five thousand, Elementary by six hundred and sixty thousand and Bones by six hundred and forty nine thousand. Sky Arts' The Seventies drew eighty two thousand and Legends In Concert: Dean Martin had sixty three thousand. David Bowie: Glass Spider Tour was seen by thirty five thousand viewers. All of whom, presumably, like this blogger when he was the real thing at Roker Park in 1987, had their ears violated by the drummer sounding like he was putting up shelves in his garage. 5USA's broadcast Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was watched by four hundred and forty five thousand viewers and Law & Order by three hundred and ninety eight thousand. NCIS drew three hundred and sixty six thousand. NCIS also featured in the weekly top tens of FOX - the latest episode of series thirteen attracting eight hundred and sixty one thousand punters - CBS Action and the Universal Channel. On the latter, Major Crimes drew an audience of two hundred and seventy one thousand. Aside, from NCIS, FOX's top ten also included new episodes of The Walking Dead (1.53 million, the largest multichannels audience of the week) and Marvel's Agent Carter (three hundred and seventy six thousand viewers). On CBS Action, Bad Girls was seen by one hundred and seventeen thousand. For Dave, Suits was the highest-rated programme with four hundred and eighty three thousand punters. That was followed by Qi XL (three hundred and forty three thousand) and Top Gear (two hundred and ninety thousand). Drama's Inspector George Gently was watched by five hundred and twenty two thousand and Shetland by four hundred and thirty one thousand. Inspector Alleyn Mysteries had four hundred and twenty three thousand and Jonathan Creek, three hundred and ninety three thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programme was Rizzoli & Isles (five hundred and three thousand), followed by Quantico (four hundred and fifty three thousand), Castle (three hundred and seventy seven thousand) and Murdoch Mysteries (two hundred and nineteen thousand). On W - the channel formerly known as Watch - the most-viewed programme was Grimm (four hundred and sixty three thousand). Yesterday's The Two Ronnie Spectacle had an audience of two hundred and thirteen thousand viewers whilst Planet Earth was watched by one hundred and ninety three thousand and David Starkey's Monarchy: The Windsors by one hundred and ninety thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Gold Rush had an audience of five hundred and forty thousand punters. Alaskan Bush People drew two hundred and twenty five thousand, David Bladdibub On The Silk Road by one hundred and twenty four thousand and Mythbusters by one hundred and twenty three thousand. Discovery History's The Holy Grail topped the weekly-list with audience of twenty five thousand viewers. Ultimate Warfare drew eighteen thousand and Time Team had sixteen thousand thousand. On Discovery Science, Food Factory was seen by forty two thousand viewers. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programme was Chasing Classic Cars (sixty two thousand). National Geographic's top ten was headed by Air Crash Investigations which had one hundred and thirteen thousand viewers and Supercar Megabuild (sixty four thousand). Billy The Kid: New Evidence drew sixty two thousand. Texas Rising was seen by ninety seven thousand viewers on The History Channel. Murder On CCTV and The FBI Files were ID's top programmes of the week (sixty two thousand and sixty thousand viewers respectively). Britain's Darkest Taboos headed CI's top ten (one hundred and nineteen thousand). GOLD's Only Fools & Horses was seen by two hundred and fifty seven thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (four hundred and twenty nine thousand). Your TV's Snapped had seventy five thousand viewers. On More4, The Good Wife was watched by eight hundred and forty nine thousand. The Horror Channel's broadcast of Panic Button, attracted one hundred and thirty five viewers. Farming Sunday was watched by thirteen thousand on the Horse & Country Channel. Ultimate Swarms drew twenty two thousand on Eden.

She, seemingly, has a string of Hollywood hits lined-up, but yer actual Maisie Williams runs the risk of raising more than a few industry-eyebrows after some reported comments this week. The eighteen-year-old Game Of Thrones and Doctor Who actress has described 'some' studio scripts 'a bit pants,' while suggesting the Hollywood 'scene' is 'totally fake.' During her cover interview with British InStyle, Maisie said: 'Hollywood is not evil, it's just totally fake. And if you're into making fake friends for a night and having a great time then that's cool. Lots of people know it's all bullshit so they just go and have that night where they're having fun with everyone and chilling. No-one actually likes each other, but everyone is having a great time. I don't have any desire to pretend to be someone's friend for the night. It just bores me.' Dwelling on the difference between independent movies and studio projects, she also told the magazine: 'I don't want to just do studio films because some of the scripts are really bad. I never realised [there were so many one-dimensional female roles] until I read more scripts and had more auditions. Most of the time, it is a bit pants.'
Sally Wainwright has said that she is 'keen' to write a third series of BBC1 drama Happy Valley, but wants enough time to think of new plotlines. The final episode of the current series, as mentioned above, drew an average overnight audience of 7.4 million punters on Tuesday. The BBC has yet to confirm if the Yorkshire-based police drama will return, but Wainwright she that needed 'time to go away and really come up with stories.' She would hate to make a series which 'people say wasn't as good,' she added. Wainwright, who created the series, told BBC Breakfast that she was 'so busy with other projects at the moment, I haven't got time to sit down and come up with stories,' agreeing that there 'might be a wait' for a third series. The drama, which stars Sarah Lancashire and James Norton, has been praised by critics, with the first series winning best drama at the BAFTA awards in 2015. However, the second series has received some limited whinging - from glakes, seemingly - over alleged poor sound quality and 'mumbling,' a problem which Wainwright said had 'mystified' both her and the production team. 'When it leaves the [editing suite], the episode is perfect - it has to be,' she said. Wainwright - who has also worked on the BBC's Last Tango In Halifax and ITV's Scott & Bailey - added that producers listened to the episodes on regular televisions before transmission to ensure the sound was clear. 'As the series went on, we became more conscious of listening really carefully. We all brought a very ordinary telly in to listen to it on that,' she said. 'I do find it bemusing that for every person that said "I can't hear it," there were as many people saying "I can hear it,"] she added.
Rowan Atkinson plays it straight in ITV's ​new adaptation of Maigret ​ but he has revealed that he originally turned the project down. Rowen admitted to journalists ​that he had doubts about playing Georges Simenon​'s famous French detective. 'I really wasn't sure if I could do it,' he confessed. 'It's the demand of modern television drama that it be very low-key and naturalistic and generally speaking the characters that I've played haven't been low-key or naturalistic! Even with something like Blackadder, he's a relatively low-key character, but he did relish the lines that he had and the words that he was given. 'There was a lot of inflection and this is sort of inflection-free acting. I found it difficult when we were shooting - it was a couple of weeks before I settled in.'
One of the stars of BBC2's hit police drama Line Of Duty has called for more Working-Class writers to combat the 'Downton Abbey effect' on television. And, if that were to mean a damned sight less Lord Snooty on this blogger's tellybox then yer actual Keith Telly Topping -Working-Class and bloody proud of it - is all for this endeavour. Daniel Mays, who also starred in ITV's Mrs Biggs and BBC1's Ashes To Ashes (and was bloody fantastic in the latter) and as Private Walker in the new, not very good, film version of Dad's Army, said the industry was 'awash' with actors and writers educated at public school. He said that writers such as Line Of Duty creator Jed Mercurio and the worlds that they created were 'vital' for British drama. We're awash with the Downton Abbey effect – which is all great and I actually loved [BBC1's] War & Peace,' Mays told the new issue of Radio Times, quickly remembering his manners and whom he is currently being paid by. 'All those shows definitely have a place, but there are a lot of public school actors and writers about at the moment. That's why I think writers like Jed and [Holding On creator] Tony Marchant and the worlds that they're depicting are vital for the BBC and for British drama.' Mays is the latest figure from the world of TV and film to express concern about the lack of working-class voices in the industry and the fear that the acting profession has become the preserve of a privileged elite. Judi Dench, Christopher Eccleston, Julie Walters and David Morrissey have spoken out about the lack of opportunities for actors from poorer backgrounds. Walters told the Gruniad Morning Star - written for and read entirely by Middle-Class hippy Communists in North London, of course - last year: 'Working-class kids aren't represented. Working-class life is not referred to. It's really sad. It will be Middle-Class people playing Working-Class people, like it used to be.' Mays said: 'I know Julie Walters brought to the table the lack of the underclass going to drama school, but there also needs to be more writers like [Cracker creator and embittered whinging old Red] Jimmy McGovern and Jed to bring stories about people from poorer backgrounds to the table for people to experience.' The Essex-born actor, who graduated from RADA in 2000, added: 'RADA gives huge grants and funding to people from Working-Class backgrounds to be able to enrol, which is the only reason I could go.' The class issue came to the fore with a string of high profile TV and film roles going to privately educated stars such as yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne and Damian Lewis. Mays' comments echo those of Phil Redmond, the writer behind Grange Hill, Brookside and Hollyoaks, who criticised the lack of Working-Class voices on television. 'What's needed on British TV is different voices – Working-Class voices – something more than elites recruiting from the elites and making TV that doesn't understand the issues affecting ordinary people,' Redmond said in January. But Tom Hollander, currently starring in BBC1's The Night Manager and Doctor Thorne on ITV, said last week that the preponderance of high profile TV and film roles going to privately educated actors was down to fashion not privilege. Hollander said: 'When I started in the profession there were very visible actors who were Scottish, Welsh or regional. Lots of Working-Class-hero leading actors – it was not fashionable to sound posh. Now I'm middle-aged it's fashionable to sound posh if you are the generation behind me.' Hollander's Doctor Thorne co-star Rebecca Front said: 'It's not impossible to be an actor if you went to state school. I went to state school. But there is a problem of affordability, I know one major drama school is worried that only rich kids can access an arts education.'
National heartthrob David Tennant is to star alongside Sir Ian McKellen in a new radio adaptation of Look Back In Anger. John Osborne's provocative 1956 play will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 next month, sixty years after it made its theatre debut. The station has also announced a forthcoming drama based on Jack Monroe's A Boy Called Jack, starring Jaime Winstone as in the title role. Also on Radio 4, Lenny Henry - last funny, briefly, in 1983 - will front a Rogue's Gallery of genre-bending monologues - each with a sting in the tail. So, that should be worth avoiding.
Yer actual Stephen Fry is making his latest venture into US TV, after being cast in the pilot for The Great Indoors. The actor, writer, comedian and broadcaster will appear alongside Community's Joel McHale in the comedy, Deadline reports. The Great Indoors will focus on McHale's character as he attempts to run the digital department of his adventure magazine The Great Outdoors. Meanwhile, Stephen will play the traveller and explorer Antonio, who founded The Great Outdoors. The script for the pilot is written by Mike Gibbons, while Andy Ackerman will direct. Stephen has previously starred in US series Bones and 24: Live Another Day.
Jack Dee has announced that he is to step down from his hosting role on The Apprentice's spin-off show You're Fired after just one series. Jack, who took over last year from the Irish comic Dara O Briain, blamed 'work commitments' for the decision: 'It's been a tough decision to leave You're Fired. I'd like to thank The Apprentice team, BBC2, the candidates and The Big Man Lord Sugar himself for making me feel so welcome but now, in keeping with The Apprentice tradition, I am firing myself. Good luck with the next series.' It is not yet known who will be the new host of The Apprentice's companion show when it returns later this year.
It appears that BBC Breakfast colleagues Carol Kirkwood and Steph McGovern have patched up an alleged spat over certain, porcine-related, comments. Bet you're beyond-relieved about that, dear blog reader?
Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss and Stephen Moyer have signed up to the cast of new series, ​Shots Fired​. They are set to appear in the FOX drama - created by ​Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood of Beyond The Lights​ - which will follow the aftermath of ​racially-charged shootings in a small town in North Carolina. Hunt has been cast as Patricia Eamons, the fictional governor of the state, whilst Dreyfuss will appear as Arlen Cox, a real estate mogul and the owner of a privatised prison who is involved in the shootings. Moyer will play Officer Breeland, a seasoned veteran in the town's Sheriff's Department, caught up in the middle of the investigation. Already cast are Sanaa Lathan and Stephan James as an investigator and a special prosecutor respectively. ​Shots Fired​ is currently in production and is due to be broadcast later in 2016, with Hunt already signed on for the first series. ​
There was yet another particularly fine episode of Gotham broadcast in the US this week. Amongst several highlights was a further example of an aspect of the production this blog had already highlighted several times in the past; whomsoever is in charge of the music on the show is, seemingly, addicted to British late-70s/early-80s punk, post-punk and indie. In the latest example, a breathless one hundred miles per hour version of The Damned's 'New Rose' played by a club band as young Bruce Wayne goes off in search of the man who killed his parents. Tasty.
Hannibal ended, in part, because of online piracy, an executive producer on the show has claimed. The psychological thriller starring Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen ended after three seasons on NBC last year and Martha De Laurentiis blames torrents and the people who illegally downloaded episodes for this. De Laurentiis said 'one-third' of Hannibal viewers used pirated sites. 'When NBC decided not to renew Hannibal for a fourth season, it wasn't much of a leap to connect its fate with the fact that the show was ranked as the fifth-most illegally downloaded show in 2013,' she wrote. 'When nearly one-third of the audience for Hannibal is coming from pirated sites - despite the fact that a legitimate download for each episode was available the following day - you don't have to know calculus to do the math. If a show is stolen, it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to fairly compensate a crew and keep a series in production. Did pirates kill Hannibal? Unfortunately, that is a cliffhanger that might last for a while. With more than two million viewers watching our show illegally, it's hard not to think online pirates were, at the very least, partly responsible for hundreds of crew members losing their jobs and millions of fans - who watched the show legitimately - mourning the loss of a beloved programme.'
Those US dear blog readers hoping to catch episode three of the series Of Kings & Prophets next week are going to be bitterly disappointed. All two of you. ABC extremely cancelled its fledgling sword-and-sandal drama on Thursday, after only two episodes had been broadcast due to mind-numbingly awful ratings. Now, if only ITV had thought to do that with their own home-grown Game Of Thrones rip-off, Beowulf instead of just leaving it to swing, sadly, in the wind. Of Kings & Prophets debuted to a mere 3.3 million overnight punters on Tuesday 8 March and that number dropped by a further million for the second episode spelling the programme's move to Dumpsville. Population, them. The ensemble drama starred Ray Winstone, Olly Rix and Simone Kessell as members of warring families in ancient Israel. ABC faced a similar problem in the Tuesdays at 10pm slot last autumn, when it axed similarly-low rated Wicked City after three episodes.

Will Bailey has found a job outside of the executive branch, it would seem. Joshua Malina, who played Will on the last four seasons of The West Wing - the best TV show in the history of the world that doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title - is soon to be co-hosting a podcast which will go through the series episode-by-episode. Along with Song Exploder host and producer Hrishikesh Hirway, Malina takes on The West Wing Weekly to revisit his former acclaimed and award-winning drama. 'It's real, it's here. I wasn't trolling,' Malina tweeted on Tuesday. Josh, currently starring on Scandal, says that the podcast will feature guests (including former West Wing cast members), writers directors and fans of the show from all walks off life. Well, if they're looking for the author of a best-selling unofficial guide to the show, currently available on Amazon for a penny (postage and packing inclusive) ... The first episode of the podcast will be released 'soon,' according to Josh. If all goes according to plan, there will be one hundred and fifty six episodes to cover the full seven-season series.
One of Josh's former West Wing cast-mates - well, in three episode anyway, although they were all good ones! - Matthew Perry's next project definitely won't be a comedy. Perry has signed up to play the late Senator Ted Kennedy in the Reelz Channel's sequel to the controversial miniseries The Kennedys. Kennedys: After Camelot explores the darkest period in the lives of America's first political family - with Katie Holmes reprising her role as Jacqueline Kennedy.
Emma Stone and Jonah Hill are set to reunite on-screen in a n dark comedy series from True Detective director Cary Fukunaga. Maniac is based on a 2014 Norwegian series about a man who lives a fantasy life in his dreams but, in reality, is in an institution for the terminally bewildered. Because, seemingly, nobody working in US television has any original ideas any more. Hill and Stone are expected to play patients in the institution, while Fukunaga is likely to direct all the episodes in the project, which is looking for a straight-to-series order according to Deadline. The series comes from Paramount TV and Anonymous Content and will see Fukunaga, Stone and Hill all feature as executive producers. The project will see Oscar nominees Hill and Stone reunite on-screen for the first time since 2007's Superbad.

And now, dear blog reader, a public service announcement.
The editor of Radio Times has threatened the government with legal action to force ministers to re-open a public consultation on the future of the BBC, after it emerged that officials had failed to consider six thousand submissions amassed by the magazine. And then, publicly, lied about having done so afterwards. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale, the lack of culture secretary, announced earlier this month that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport had received one hundred and ninety two thousand submissions to a review of the future size and scope of the BBC, ahead of the expiry of the corporation's Royal Charter, in December. The vile and odious rascal claimed: 'Every response we received matters. Every response has been read.' One or two people even believed him, though this blogger already knew this statement to be a lie since one of From The North's regular dear blog readers had, after sending his own MP an e-mail via the Thirty Eight Degrees website concerning the future of the BBC, received a reply stating that the Government were not interested in anything that those who had contacted them via that particular website was concerned and would, instead, be using 'their own independent focus groups' to garner public opinion regarding the Corporation. Because, presumably, they weren't entirely convinced of Thirty Eight Degrees' impartiality. Or, in other words, the Government don't trust the overwhelmingly positive feedback they are getting towards the BBC from the general public various various different routes and are, therefore, desperately trying to ignore those and snuffling around for more negative viewpoints with which to back up their own, sick, agenda. One imagines this is so that they can get the answers they want in advance. Radio Times carried out a survey of its seven hundred and fifty thousand readers, based on the questions in the government consultation and submitted around nine thousand responses. Including, as it happens, one from this blogger who filled it in the online. However, six thousand of the submissions - again including, I suspect, this blogger's own - were stored on a password-protected memory stick and Ben Preston, the magazine’s editor, said that the department had not asked for the password to unlock the data, despite initially claiming to have 'taken the responses into account.' Which, just to repeat, was a lie. Preston said: 'We have serious concerns about the Government's failure to consider the responses of our readers. We have asked the Government to reopen the consultation as a matter of urgency to make good on its promise that it would listen to everyone's views.' A letter to the department, sent by the magazine’s lawyers, said: 'Our client was understandably concerned that the summary document clearly implies that all responses to the consultation were taken into account when, in relation to the digital entries our client provided to DCMS, this could not have taken place since DCMS did not seek details of the password to access those entries. If you do not reopen the consultation, our client reserves the right to pursue all options, including issuing an application for judicial review of such a decision.' A DCMS spokesman weaselled that because the magazine had changed the wording of the consultation questions, its submissions 'did not count' as formal responses. The spokesman said: 'All responses to our formal consultation will feed into the process. We also received other views including results from the Radio Times survey, which asked different questions. We will also take account of these as part of the charter review.' One or two - spectacularly gullible - people believed him. No one with so much as half-a-brain between their ears did.
Plans for the government to directly appoint most members of a new body to 'run' the BBC risk turning the corporation into 'a state broadcaster,' a senior BBC executive has warned. The BBC's director of radio, Helen Boaden, said that the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's proposal that only two or three members of the corporation's new thirteen-strong unitary board would be from among its executives was 'counter to the principle of a strong and independent BBC. Public service broadcasting subjected to undue political interference over a sustained period becomes state broadcasting,' Boaden told the Radiodays Europe conference in Paris on Monday. 'I don't believe that is what our audiences want. I believe they want strong, independent broadcasters.' Boaden said: 'The appointment process for the new BBC board needs proper public discussion. This board will decide our editorial policy and direction. It will have oversight of our news and current affairs output. The recent reports that the majority of board members would be directly chosen by government – whether by the UK government or those in the devolved nations – runs counter to the principle of a strong and independent BBC. It undermines who we are. Independence is intrinsically linked to our audiences' trust in us. And without trust, we are nothing.' In an interview on Sunday, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said that only 'two or three' members of the thirteen-strong board would be BBC executives, with the rest being government appointees. 'I don't think the government appointing the BBC non-execs would compromise their independence,' he told The Sunday Times. Although, as we have seen so often in the past, politicians 'thinking' about things is, usually, a very dangerous combination. The government-commissioned Clementi Report - which the government claimed was 'independent' but, actually, wasn't independent or anything even remotely like it - recommended that the BBC's day-to-day operations be run by a unitary board, headed by a majority of non-executive directors, while full responsibility for regulation be handed to the media regulator Ofcom - a politically-appointed quango, elected by no one - replacing the BBC Trust. The BBC's Director General, Tony Hall, has already flagged his 'concerns' about the proposals, pointing out that, unlike any previous governing body, the unitary board would set the editorial direction of the whole BBC. Which, of course, is exactly what the government want even though they claim the don't. No one believes them. Neither the Trust nor its predecessor – the BBC board of governors who oversaw the corporation from its founding until 2005 – had such powers. Boaden also criticised the government's suggestion that Radio 1 and Radio 2 had become 'less distinctive' and another government-commissioned report - again which they claimed was 'independent' but which wasn't or anything even remotely like it - said that the two music stations could be made 'less populist' to benefit the BBC's commercial rivals. Although, why the government feels that the BBC's commercial rivals need 'help' and what fucking business it is of theirs anyway are probably a couple of questions that a lot of people in the broadcasting industry and the wider media really should be asking right about now. The fact that they are not ... speaks volumes. 'The latest debate has been fuelled by a focus only on how to limit the market impact of the BBC at the expense of what our audiences actually want. I think this is a "cycloptic" - one eyed - approach and some of the claims made as a result require a robust response,' Boaden said. 'The argument is that if we made BBC Radio less appealing to twenty five to forty four-year-olds, those listeners would flock to commercial radio. Real life suggests otherwise.' She said that the radio industry had to tackle 'a steep decline' in the amount of time people spent listening, in some age groups 'quite dramatically.' She said the BBC was looking to do this with 'an even more tailored radio experience' offering 'a personalised radio station, for every listener, based on what they like listening to combining live and on-demand audio with music playlists and regular updates.' It is also working on a digital music proposal with the British music industry which would make the fifty thousand songs the BBC broadcasts every month available to listen online, for a limited period. Rumours that Ms Boaden has, since she made her speech, been summoned to the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's Westminster office for a good hard caning for daring to disagree with him cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied. Perhaps inevitably, Thirty Eight Degrees have started yet another online petition - which, of course, will be ignored by the government since the result won't tell them what they want to hear. It should be noted, however, that the wording of the petition is particularly bad. 'John Whittingdale, the minister who's deciding our BBC's future, just announced he wants the government to choose the people who run the BBC.' Hate to break it to you, guys, but the government already does - and always has - appoint who runs the BBC; the Chairperson of the Trust (previously the BBC's governing board) is a political appointee and the Director General is appointed by the Chairperson of the Trust (previously, the BBC governing board) and, therefore, is also - technically - a political appointee. Nice to see people creating a petition in an effort to stop something that's been happening since 1923! According to the Gruniad, the petition has been signed by 'over one hundred and forty thousand people' in four days. Why they bothered, since their views will - on past evidence - simply be ignored is a question on they can answer.

Channel Four would never have discovered that the Paralympics or shows such as Gogglebox could be hits if it had been run for profit, its chief executive, David Abraham, has said. The government is currently considering whether to privatise Channel Four, with US companies such as Scripps Network and Discovery – where Abraham previously worked – lining up with their tongues hanging out as likely buyers should the worst happen. The government has claimed - rather unconvincingly given its recent record of telling the truth in public - that any sale would maintain the channel's remit to take risks on programming and 'serve specific audiences' such as young people and ethnic minorities. However, Abraham told an event on Channel Four's future held at parliament as part of Lord Puttnam's inquiry into public service broadcasting and, frankly, what the fuck is going on in the Department of Culture, Media & Sport, that commercial pressures would undermine the channel's remit and ability to take risks. 'I worked at Discovery for seven years. I would not be relaxed that a company right out of New York that is maximising in terms of shareholders and has global synergies it needs to make would necessarily understand or care about commitments that could be made at the start of the sale process,' he said. 'My job at Discovery was to maximise the [profits] of the channel I was running. I would do far more entertainment programming, I would cut the news. I would cut all of film, I would do barely any comedy because it is not very economic. I would probably not do as much original drama.' Abraham said that although the competitiveness of the global TV market was driving investment in quality programming, many shows would never get to the screen in the first place. 'You don't discover these extraordinary things like Googlebox or the Paralympics, you don't discover these unless you have the luxury to take greater risks that the absence of a profit line gives you,' he said. 'One of my jobs were I to report again to Washington would be to lobby persistently for the reduction of the remit I signed up to on day one.' Though the government has not officially said it wants to privatise Channel Four, the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale indicated last weekend that he 'supported'such a sale. 'I'm looking at the options, but would argue that Channel Four is being restrained by not being privatised. It means it has less deep pockets,' he told The Sunday Times shortly before he summoned Helen Boaden for her chastisement. Abraham said that these comments indicated privatisation was now 'government policy,' adding that he had been 'disappointed' with the way the government had 'handled' its review. He said that the channel had been told last summer that privatisation was 'not being being considered' before the proposals were revealed in September after a civil servant was photographed carrying a document setting out options for a sale. A bit like the Department of Culture, Media & Sport telling everyone that they had 'taken into account' the six thousand Radio Times submissions on the future of the BBC when, in reality, they hadn't even looked at them and had no intention of doing so until they were caught lying about it. It's comforting, isn't it, to know that the government - your government - is so sodding incompetent that it can't even organise its own self-interest cover-up without being found out lying the public? Abraham added that while he expected it would 'take time' for commercial pressures to undermine Channel Four's ability to produce less commercially focused content across its schedules if it were to be privatised, the ability of its news coverage to 'explore issues of public interest' - like, you know, the government lying about stuff - would be affected much more quickly. 'I know from direct personal experience that when you are running commercially funded channels there are places you do not go,' he said. 'I think those effects would be fairly immediate. I would get phone calls saying they would rather cancel this investigation because it would be "inconvenient."' Conservative peer Lord Inglewood, a former chair of the Lords communications committee, echoed Abraham's concerns about the impact privatisation would have on Channel Four's remit. He said that while he was 'sceptical' of public ownership, Channel Four 'worked effectively' as a third sector player. 'It would be very likely the remit would come under pressure,' he said. 'Shareholders if they put something in they want something back and after all that's perfectly reasonable.' He added: 'We seem to be approaching this particular topic [as if] Channel Four is going to be privatised and finding reasons not to do it. We should start from the premise Channel Four is doing rather well, why are we going to change it?'
And finally for the 'ooo, bit of politics, there' part of the latest blog, it really does come as something of a horrific reflection on the current right shite state of affairs in this country that the odious and disgraceful slapheed bastard(s) Iain and Duncan Smith seem to regard themselves as 'the principled one(s)' in the current government, resigning from the cabinet over proposed changes to disability benefit announced in this week's budget. One presumes that Ian and Duncan Smith their very selves believes that this melodramatic flouncing out like a big soft tart will make them seem 'almost human' in the eyes of voters. And, possibly, an outside bet for the position(s) of leader(s) when Dodgy Dave decided to step aside as he has promised to at the next election. Or, certainly, in major figure in Dictator-elect Boris's boot boys when, rather than if, the Tory scum smear new-old Labour all over the pavement in 2020. Interesting theory. Although, when one weighs up the untold misery which policies that the sneering fuck Iain and Duncan Smith happily pushed through - and publicly defended - have caused to millions of people on benefits over the last six years and the several recorded deaths from suicide to some of the worst affected that these policies are alleged to have directly contributed to, this blogger still reckons the Iain and Duncan Smiths remain among the worst pair of louse scum on the fringes of humanity. Just sayin'. Iain and Duncan Smith's replacement is a crab, apparently. Big surprise.
Baroness Altmann, the pensions minister, described her ex-bosses Iain and Duncan Smith as 'exceptionally difficult to work for,' and accused Iain and Duncan Smith of wanting 'to do maximum damage to the party leadership' to help the campaign for Britain to leave the EU which he is a highly vocal supporter of. Alleged 'sources' allegedly 'close' to both Iain and Duncan Smith insist that the resignation was not about the EU. Meanwhile, the former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind told the BBC that he finds Iain and Duncan Smith's behaviour 'bizarre.' He said it was 'difficult to believe' that someone 'committed to welfare issues would resign [over] them.' The New Statesman, meanwhile, has a very interesting take on the whole malarkey. Of course, it's probably worth remembering at this point that whilst many on the left (and, indeed, many in the centre and on the soft-right) are loudly celebrating Iain and Duncan Smith's departure from government, it's only just a few years ago yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self was doing metaphorical cartwheels on this very blog when the vile and odious rascal Hunt moved from his lack of culture post when given the opportunity to destroy the NHS. 'We can't. possibly, have anyone worse that he,' this blogger opined. Two years later, we have the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale in post and this blogger's beloved BBC is on the brink of a precipice from which it may never recover. And Channel Four probably isn't far behind. So, whilst The Last Leg's Adam Hills - a long-term critic of Duncan Smith - opened a bottle of champagne live on-air at the news, and this blogger genuinely doesn't want to be seen spoiling the party, here's a word of warning. Be careful what you wish for, dear blog reader. It might just come true. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
The journalist and broadcaster Robert Peston has revealed that ITV is paying him 'more than a third' more than the BBC did as he prepares to launch his new Sunday morning show later this spring. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Pestinfestation said that he is being paid 'nothing remotely like' the seven hundred and fifty thousand grand that some newspapers reported he was offered but admitted that ITV is paying him 'a lot more' than the BBC did. 'Obviously, the money matters, but this was about challenge, about getting more fun in my life, and this is fun,' he said. Pestinfestation started as political editor at ITV in January after ten years at the BBC, where he last held the role of economics editor. He was billed as part of ITV News's 'dream team' along with Tom Bradby as News At Ten presenter. In the interview Peston denied hoping to 'humiliate' the BBC. 'That was just me acting up, doing an interview because I was quite keen for the public to watch me in my first week,' he claimed. 'I love the BBC and I got upset about that sort of phoney spat, because Huw Edwards was a consistently good friend.' Part of the deal was that as well as being political editor, Peston would get his own Sunday morning show called Peston. He said that the programme is thought to be scheduled for a 10am slot when it is broadcast this spring so that it will not clash with BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show. Mar's programme, which is broadcast from 9am, attracted between 1.2 million and 1.4 million viewers in September, compared with fewer than one hundred and eighty five thousand viewers on ITV for shows such as children's programme Horrible Science and repeats of Murder She Wrote. Peston's appointment came after years in which ITV ceded ground in public service broadcasting, with the likes of Sky News going head-to-head with the BBC over public service reporting. ITV once dominated the genre with the likes of Brian Walden's Weekend World and Frost On Sunday - not to mention World In Action and This Week - but after its public service obligations were loosened in the 1990s, the channel started to show repeats of children's television programmes on a Sunday morning and stopped caring about informing their viewers about what was going on in the world, instead spoon-feeding then a non-stop diet of light entertainment and Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads.

The BBC News channel's two late night paper reviews will be merged into one extended show as part of a raft of changes to the twenty four-hour service starting on Monday. Its fifteen-minute review of newspaper headlines, The Papers, is currently broadcast twice a night, at 10.30pm and 11.30pm, but the latter slot has been dropped to allow a repeat of BBC2's Newsnight at 11.15pm. The new paper round-up will run for twenty minutes at 10.40pm after the 10pm bulletin and Sportsday. The move comes after the BBC announced it was to axe the weekly radio show What The Papers Say after sixty years on-air. In other changes revealed last month, Victoria Derbyshire's daily show will now start at 9am and not 9.15am on both the News channel and BBC2. The extension comes after Derbyshire was praised for her video diaries documenting her battle with cancer. Her show will be followed between 11am and 1pm by live news, re-branded as BBC Newsroom Live. A new regional round-up will not start for some time as it is 'still in development,' according to alleged BBC 'sources' quoted in the Gruniad Morning Star. A spokesman for the news division said that extending the paper review to twenty minutes will 'allow more time for discussion' of the front pages. The slot may mean that not all the newspapers are available, however. There will be a news bulletin at 11pm, ending with a round-up of the next day's front pages, before Newsnight at 11.15pm. So, if you want to see the Daily Lies's next-day leader - Someone Off Hollyoaks Breaks Nail - that'll be the very place for you. On Friday nights, Newsnight will run at 11.15pm for thirty minutes followed by a further edition of Sportsday.
Alex Jones swapped places with co-host Matt Baker on The ONE Show sofa on Wednesday evening in a nod to the - wholly manufactured and utterly ridiculous - media-created row over the positioning of BBC Breakfast presenters Dan Walker and Louise Minchin. Walker's position to the left of Minchin after replacing Bill Turnbull on BBC Breakfast sparked a - ludicrous - sexism row. Former Countryfile host, that awful O’Reilly woman, sensed another opportunity to get herself back in the news as she blamed 'deep-rooted misogyny' for the decision to hand Walker, who is less experienced than his co-host, a position seen by some - though by no means all - in the industry as the 'more prestigious' spot. Although, what the Hell any of this had to do with that awful O'Reilly woman is a question probably worth asking. Apart, obviously, from the fact that she appears to be a savagely embittered woman whose sole job these days seems to be making her mouth go in public, whenever she sees the opportunity to put the boot into the BBC. Especially, to the Gruniad Morning Star who, of course, have no sick anti-BBC agenda smeared all over their disgusting collective hippy Communist mush whatsoever. Oh no, very hot water. On The ONE Show, Jones said: 'Some of you may be freaked out because we've just swapped sides because of the news this morning that the male presenter always sits on the left so we thought we'd change it up.' Only, you know, she said it in far more of shrill, pain-stripper voice and with an impenetrable Welsh accent. So, no change there then. Jones also referred to viewers commenting on the switch on Twitter - which, of course, as we all know is now The Sole Arbiter Of The Worth Of All Things - with one viewer claiming they were watching the show 'in the mirror' to reverse the change. Baker asked the show's guest, the very excellent Caitlin Moran, if she had noticed the swap. Caitlin joked that she had just thought Jones was 'more powerful' and Baker was 'more attractive.' Well, one presumes it was a joke. It was the first time this month that the male presenter on the nightly 7pm magazine show has sat on the right-hand side of the sofa. When Vernon Kay guest presented he also sat to the right of Jones and when Fearne Cotton, Connie Huq, Denise Lewis and Zoe Ball stood in for Jones, they were all seated to the right of Baker. Walker and Minchin were absent from BBC Breakfast on Thursday morning as they usually present shows only from Monday to Wednesday. Their replacements were Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty, with the former positioned, as usual, on the left. A BBC spokesperson said: 'This was a light-hearted reference to yesterday's news. There is no seniority attached to presenter seating positions on The ONE Show and that was demonstrated in this playful, but topical segment.' Minchin, who has been on BBC Breakfast for ten years and is nine years older than her new thirty eight-year-old co-host, is 'understood' (at least, according to the Gruniad; although how they 'understand' this unless Minchen herself snitched it up to them like a Copper's Nark is unknown) to have wanted to sit on the left of Walker, after Turnbull left. However, producers decided it 'did not work visually,' partly because Walker is six feet six inches tall. Minchin has not spoken out about the saga - publicly, at least - but a viewer, one Adele Clarke from Cheshire, wrote to the Radio Times accusing the producers of 'sexism.' Presumably, because Adele Clarke from Cheshire had or has nothing better or more constructive to do with her time than whinge about utter trivial nonsense like this. Let us, once again, simply stand up and salute the shite that some people chose to care about. Jesus, did everybody in the country take The Stupid Pill this week, or what?
The television landscape is littered with the bodies of cancelled shows. So when you look at the news of Supergirl and Marvel's Agent Carter each receiving a renewal (only rumoured in the case of the latter, admittedly), one can't help but consider the overall context. The news of Supergirl's recommission came via Deadline, who reported that it was one of five new series that CBS would be brining back for a second series. Marvel's Agent Carter ended its series two finale on a massive cliffhanger and fans were, initially, worried that ABC would not be renewing the series due to low ratings. However, an alleged 'source' within the studio revealed to a website last week that ABC has decided to stick with the show. A complicating factor was Hayley Atwell having already been booked for another role in the upcoming ABC drama, Conviction. 'That's something ABC has talked about a lot [with me],' Atwell revealed to The Hollywood Reporter. 'If they both got picked up, then we'd work out some way where I could do both.'
Cult 1988 movies Heathers is to get a TV reboot. The original movie saw Winona Ryder and Christian Slater as the outsiders who exact their revenge on the high school elite - a trio of populist princesses called Heather. This time round, it's the Heathers themselves who are the typical school outcasts: 'Heather McNamara is a black lesbian; Heather Duke is a male who identifies as gender-queer whose real name is Heath; and Heather Chandler has a body like Martha Dumptruck,' writes The Hollywood Reporter. So, any resemblance to the original movie is purely co-incidental, then? The pilot is being made by US channel TV Land, with alleged 'insiders' allegedly likening it to the recent Fargo reboot in terms of being 'an anthology series' were a new group of Heathers could be featured across multiple seasons.
UKTV has extremely sacked an executive who offered to provide 'a huge cache of data' taken from their former employer Ofcom. The communications regulator has written to UK broadcasters to reassure them that the data, including sensitive financial information, has all been recovered. The Gruniad Morning Star reported earlier this month that an Ofcom employee working on a short-term contract had downloaded as much as six years worth of data provided by TV broadcasters to the regulator. UKTV executives immediately grassed up the employee to Ofcom who, needless to say, were less than impressed with this malarkey. In the letter to broadcasters, Ofcom's director of market development, James Thickett - I'm not making this up, that's the bloke's name - said: 'Your data has not been used; the data has been removed from UKTV's systems and records and is no longer in the company's possession. In relation to the individual involved, we have received assurances and evidence from him to show that he no longer retains any copies of the material in question and it was not shared with any other third party since leaving Ofcom. We are satisfied with those assurances and evidence. UKTV has informed us that it has dismissed the individual in light of these actions.' UKTV – which is jointly owned by BBC Worldwide and the US-based Scripps Network and whose channels include Dave, G.O.L.D, Yesterday and W – would not comment on the sacked individual. However, a spokesperson said: 'When senior management became aware of this, we contacted Ofcom and returned the information in full. We acted swiftly to ensure that the information can not be used by anyone at UKTV and it has been deleted from our systems.'
Relations between Channel Four and the production group Endemol Shine have 'almost broken down' over the right to broadcast Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror in the UK according to the Gruniad. Quite what constitutes something 'almost' breaking down, they don't say. The acclaimed Channel Four drama, which began in 2011 with an episode which featured a fictional Prime Minister having sex with a pig (which, obviously, could never happen), was acquired by the US streaming service Netflix last September in a deal understood to be worth an estimated forty million dollars. Under the deal, Channel Four believed it still had a 'first-look option' to broadcast the drama produced by Endemol Shine in the UK. 'Although negotiations are still ongoing, this right does not appear guaranteed by Endemol Shine, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's Twenty First Century FOX and Apollo Global Management,' the Gruniad allege. Channel Four has invested millions in both on and off-air marketing for several Shine-Endemol shows including Black Mirror and two of its biggest hits, The Island and Hunted, over the past few years. Last year's merger of Endemol and the FOX-owned Shine created one of the world's largest programme-making and content businesses. As well as Black Mirror, The Island and Hunted, which are both returning to Channel Four this year, Endemol Shine produce Deal Or No Deal and Eight Out Of Ten Cats for Channel Four. Yet, over the past fifteen months, nine senior executives have left the merged group including Shine Group chief executive Alex Mahon and Tim Hincks, formerly chief creative executive. This exodus has, the Gruniad allege, 'raised questions' about who is leading discussions on the development of future projects with important - or, at least, formerly important - clients such as Channel Four. Jay Hunt, Channel Four's chief creative officer, 'fired off an e-mail to her senior team asking which Endemol Shine shows were currently in production', the newspaper claims. However, Channel Four denied rumours that it had suspended work with Endemol. Hunt said: 'Some of our biggest shows are with Shine Endemol. We haven't suspended working with them.' A spokesman for Endemol Shine 'declined to comment' although the newspaper quotes them as adding: 'We are still in discussions with Channel Four around Black Mirror in the UK, to comment on these would be commercially sensitive.' So, that's not really 'declining to comment', is it, you stupid Middle Class hippy Communist pricks? Channel Four commissioned the first series of Black Mirror, described as 'a Twilight Zone for the digital age' - albeit, not by anyone that you've ever heard of - and went on to broadcast two, three-part series along with last year’s seventy five-minute festive special starring Jon Hamm, Rafe Spall and Oona Chaplin. White Christmas was watched by a total audience of nearly two million viewers. Black Mirror won best TV movie/mini-series at the International EMMY awards in November 2012, just a year after being launched on Channel Four. 'The tension over the future of Black Mirror in the UK underlines Channel Four's complaints about the competitive threat from US-owned companies,' the report alleges. In a speech in 2014 chief executive David Abraham said that public service broadcasters were 'the only bulwark against a broadcasting industry dominated by US media moguls such as Rupert Murdoch and Virgin Media owner John Malone as well as larger technology firms.' Endemol Shine chief executive Sophie Turner-Laing, who formerly reported to James Murdoch The Small at the satellite company Sky, has appointed Peter Salmon, the BBC's former director of studios, who will start in May.
Sky is to launch a new TV channel that will make live sport including Premier League matches to non-sports subscribers for the first time. The new channel, Sky Sports Mix, is aimed at encouraging a higher proportion of the broadcaster's twelve million-plus subscribers to add its sports packages to their monthly TV plan. 'We are giving millions more people access to great moments from some of the world's biggest sporting events at no extra cost,' said Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis. 'It is a fantastic way for all Sky customers to be able to enjoy some of the great content that has made Sky Sports the first choice for sport. Our aim is to offer sport in a way that can engage, encourage and excite everyone even further.' Between five million and six million Sky customers have a sports package - this blogger included - which costs about twenty five smackers a month, with subscribers on the cheapest tier paying about twenty knicker. Sky said that the new channel will offer a 'select number' of live Premier League and Football League matches, as well as regular live football from competitions including Spain's La Liga, the US's MLS and the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. The channel also promises to include live sport including golf and international cricket, alongside documentaries, sports entertainment shows and children's content such as new live Saturday morning show Game Changers. There is also the suggestion that the channel may be a way to win back viewers who have gravitated to pay-as-you go sport via Now TV, which allows viewers to pay for a day's access to Sky Sports without an expensive TV subscription. However, Sky is understood to see Now TV customers as 'completely different consumers of media' to traditional customers and the company is not aiming to win them over to a full package. It sees Sky Sports Mix as a way of offering more value to existing customers to stop them thinking about defecting to rivals such as BT Sport, Virgin Media and TalkTalk TV. Sky's 'churn rate,' the proportion of customers that leave the service for a rival, is running at ten per cent, which is considered a low level. 'Sky Sports Mix will bring sport to more people and provide many different ways of enjoying our coverage, from high profile live events and fascinating documentaries to clips of incredible moments,' said Francis. Sky stressed that the only way to watch 'every minute' of the sport to which it has TV rights – sixty thousand hours a year – is to take a full subscription.

The full list of Christian names given to babies last year in Scotland has been published by the National Records Office. The most popular were Emily and Jack, as reported last year. The full list gives the complete details of forenames given to boys and girls in 2015. And, while the inspiration for them is not provided, popular culture such as film, TV and music appears to have played a part in the choices. Thor and Loki, figures from Norse mythology - and from Marvel Comics, obviously - pop up on the list. Loki, the trickster God of Norse legend, was the most popular choice with six boys named after him to the one Thor. One imagines that, in about eighteen years time a photograph of one of those Lokis (or, perhaps, the Thor) will be appearing in a national newspaper with a caption that includes the words '... before turning the gun on himself.' Roman mythology also seems to figure in the names with one boy being named Remus. It could be suggested that Game Of Thrones, the hugely popular TV fantasy drama, influenced the four Kits among the male names. Actor Kit Harrington, of course, played Jon Snow in the show. Before he died. Horribly. There are also two boys named Jon on the list. Could be down to Jon Pertwee but, probably isn't. Another of Game Of Thrones' characters figures among the girls' with three named Khaleesi, the title of the Dothraki queen played by Emilia Clarke. There are seventy nine Emilias on the list. There are also thirteen girls called Leia. No boys called Han appear, however, but one hundred and sixty seven Harrisons and more than one hundred and forty Lukes feature. From the world of music, there is girl who was named Shakira and another Paloma - the poor cow - and among the boys a sole Bowie and two Axls. Other eye-catching names from the list of those given to girls include December-Lee, Texas, Wolf, Diamond and two Briar-Roses, while among the boys there is a Sonnyboy, a Tennessee and a Testimony listed.
Yer actual Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg his very self are teaming up for a new Indiana Jones film, The Walt Disney Company has announced this week. The fifth movie of the franchise will be released in July 2019. The as-yet-untitled film will come eleven years after the most recent - not very good - Indiana Jones film, 2008's Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull and thirty years since the one before that. Ford and Spielberg first worked together on Raiders Of The Lost Ark, in 1981. In the first outing, archaeologist Jones raced around the world to find the Ark of the Covenant before it fell into the hands of the Nazis. It was followed three years later by Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom (which was shite), with Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade coming in 1989. Which established the patterns 'good one-bad one-good-one-bad one.' So, in theory, the next movie should be pretty decent. In theory. Ford, also known for his work as Han Solo in the Star Wars films and, this blogger will repeat, Keith telly Topping thought Harrison was bloody fantastic in The force Awakens - will be seventy seven when the new movie arrives in cinemas. Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said: 'Indiana Jones is one of the greatest heroes in cinematic history and we can't wait to bring him back to the screen in 2019. It's rare to have such a perfect combination of director, producers, actor and role, and we couldn't be more excited to embark on this adventure with Harrison and Steven.' The four films have made nearly two billion dollars at the box office so far. Also lined up for 2019, Star Trek XII: So Very Tired. Allegedly.
And, speaking of The Simpsons, it may have appeared as a somewhat throwaway line at the time, but make no mistake, it was included very much on purpose. The now infamous Bart To The Future episode of the popular animated sitcom, which was broadcast almost exactly sixteen years ago, in March 2000, predicted a Donald Trump presidency. Which is pretty impressive considering that The West Wing only predicted a Barack Obama-type president, and far closer to the event! 'It was a warning to America,' writer Dan Greaney told The Hollywood Reporter this week. 'And, that just seemed like the logical last stop before hitting bottom. It was pitched because it was consistent with the vision of America going insane.' In the episode, Bart was shown a vision of his future life. As an adult, he is a loser. Lisa, on the other hand, becomes the first 'straight female' president of the United States. Enter the possible prediction. 'As you know, we've inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump,' Lisa says to her staff, who inform her that the country is stony broke due to her predecessor. While Greaney - who still works on the show as a consulting producer - can't remember exactly who pitched the idea, even then, four years before The Apprentice, the line made sense, he claims. 'The important thing is that Lisa comes into the presidency when America is on the ropes and that is the condition left by the Trump presidency,' Greaney said. 'What we needed was for Lisa to have problems that were beyond her fixing, that everything went as bad as it possibly could, and that's why we had Trump be president before her.' Some viewers did not like the episode at the time due to the dark outlook for Bart, but in recent months, Greaney - who always has been proud of Bart To The Future - has gotten a lot of calls about the episode thanks to the Trump line. 'I am tickled we are getting all this attention, but I don't think it's going to trigger this well-awaited re-evaluation of my episode that I was hoping for. The Simpsons has always kind of embraced the over-the-top side of American culture … and [Trump] is just the fulfilment of that.'
Now, here's a lovely picture of the film and TV director Piers Haggard, smiling broadly with the OBE he received earlier from the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace earlier this week. Piers, who turned seventy seven on Friday, is the founder of the Directors Guild of Great Britain as well as the director of Venom, The Blood On Satan's Claw - a particular favourite of this blogger, that one - and the Dennis Potter TV serial Pennies From Heaven among many other works.
The Whom (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s) will headline the Saturday night slot at this year's Isle of Wight Festival. The show, featuring former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft as a special guest, will be the band's only UK music festival appearance this year, organisers said. The Whom previously played at the island's festival in 1969, 1970 and 2004. Although two of the members who played at first two festivals were, sadly, missing when they rocked the shack there for a third time. Pompous, overblown frizzy-haired glam hippies The Queen Group will top the bill to close the four-day festival which also features Stereophonics and Faithless. Yes, this blogger thought that The Queen Group split up years ago too. Sadly not, it would seem. There is, of course, always the possibility that Brian May could be ravaged to death by angry badgers before then. We can dream, dear blog readers. Dreaming, as Blondie (a popular beat combo of the 1970s) once noted, is free. The festival is being held at Seaclose Park in Newport on 9, 10, 11 and 12 June, the same weekend as the Queen's ninetieth birthday celebrations. That's the actual Queen, not The Queen Group. It just feels like they've been around for ninety years inflicting their dreadful tuneless dirges mercilessly upon the benighted public.
Tickets for Radiohead's three-night residency at London's Roundhouse went on sale on Friday morning and, apparently, sold out 'in seconds.' Each one is rumoured to come with its own razorblade so that ticket holders can top themselves rather than go through the actual misery of attending the gigs if they prefer. Which is jolly thoughtful.
A bright meteor was sighted over Britain in the early hours of Thursday morning. Witnesses have described the object as 'a green flash' moving South to North for a few seconds, leaving a magnesium-white trail. Sightings were reported in locations including London, Hampshire, Stafford and on the East Coast of England at around 3am. Its colour prompted people on Twitter to describe it as 'the St Patrick's Day meteor.' But then, nobody with an ounce of brains between their ears gives a big stiff shit about what 'people on Twitter' think. About anything. Describing the meteor as 'spectacular', Doctor John Mason of the British Astronomical Association said that it was bright enough to be categorised as 'a fireball.' He believes that it was a piece of cosmic rock which almost certainly came from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. He said the green colour was caused by the meteor heating up the oxygen in the earth's atmosphere. 'Meteors of this kind are not uncommon,' he added, saying he estimated there was at least one a week over the UK. Richard Kacerek, from the UK Meteor Observation Network, told the BBC that it had received reports from across the country. He said the network's camera at Church Crookham in Hampshire had captured the meteor from the West. 'This is the biggest meteor sighting we have recorded,' Kacerek said. 'It lasted for a few seconds. It was seen for hundreds of miles. We have received a number of e-mails.' He said that the network of astronomy enthusiasts recorded about ten to fifteen meteors every year. An astronomer at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth, Doctor Karen Masters, said thousands of these objects hit the Earth every day. She said: 'Most of them over the oceans or over uninhabited parts of the world. It is quite rare that one goes over such a populated place and be so bright.' She said that the size of this meteor would depend on its velocity but it was probably 'as big as a tennis ball.' So, obviously, you don't want to get hit in the knackers by one.
It would have been a first — but it probably wasn't. A report earlier this week suggested that a falling meteorite may have killed a bus driver and injured three others in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. However, scientific experts have since looked into the matter and cast serious doubt on the initial report from Indian government authorities. 'Considering that there was no prediction of a meteorite shower and there was no meteorite shower observed, this certainly is a rare phenomena if it is a meteorite,' GC Anupama, the dean of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, told the New York Times. NASA scientists, meanwhile, were even more definitive in disclaiming the meteorite report. They said in a statement that photographs of the five-foot-deep, two-foot-wide impact crater indicated a 'land-based explosion' was more likely to have caused the damage. In fact, according to the International Comet Quarterly, no meteorite-caused human death has ever been confirmed (although reports that a dog was killed by a meteorite in Egypt in 1911, though unconfirmed, are widely believed). The closest report yet, according to the New York Times, was a 1908 incident in Tunguska when a blast was reported entering Earth's atmosphere. The blast flattened hundreds of square miles of forest and may, possibly, killed two men and hundreds of reindeer. But no meteorite was ever recovered. There are ancient Chinese records of meteorites causing human deaths, but there have been no confirmed human fatalities reported in the past one thousand years, the JPL said. Meteorites have injured some people, including Alabama housewife Ann Hodges, who awoke from a nap on her couch when a three pound meteorite fell through her house and bruised her hip. As for the supposed meteorite recovered from the scene in India, reports are hardly definitive that it is, in fact, a meteorite at all. According to the BBC, some reports said police recovered 'small stone weighing about ten grammes,' while others refer to a 'hard, jagged object in dark blue and small enough to be held in a close hand.'
In 2015, NASA's Dawn space probe sent back the first images which directly revealed the presence of mysterious, bright spots on the surface of Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Both scientists and the general public became fascinated with these planetoid 'freckles.' Now, a group of scientists are using an Earth-based telescope to study the spots on Ceres and other variations on the dwarf planet's surface. Their results seem to support the idea that sunlight may regularly turn ice into vapour in the Occator crater. But, the findings also show that the rate of change from ice to vapour may be irregular, and doesn't match perfectly with Ceres' day-night cycle. These early findings also indicate that similar observations could be used to study the dwarf planet when the Dawn probe finishes its mission. The Hubble Space Telescope studied Ceres long before the Dawn probe arrived there in March 2015. But Ceres is so small, faint and distant that even Hubble couldn't provide highly detailed images of the rocky landscape. Hubble did detect a variation on the surface where the bright spots turned out to be, but only Dawn could provide those gorgeous snapshots and reveal that the bright spots are most likely made of hydrated magnesium sulfates. Ceres is too far away for a ground-based telescope to see it the way Dawn does. But scientists are good at getting around those kinds of obstacles, and gathering information in indirect ways. This approach relies on a very basic principle of physics called the Doppler shift, which shows that as a wave moves toward an observer, it gets compressed, giving it a slightly higher frequency. As a wave moves away from an observer, it gets stretched out, giving it a lower frequency. This effect is why when an ambulance is headed toward one, its siren seems to have a higher pitch and when the siren is headed away, the pitch sounds lower. As Ceres turns on its axis, one side of it rotates toward the Earth, while the other rotates away. As a result, the sunlight bouncing off its surface experiences the Doppler shift — on one side, the waves get stretched, and on the other they get compressed. The degree to which the light gets compressed or stretched depends on how fast Ceres is rotating, which means measuring the Doppler shift can reveal Ceres' rotation speed. However, slight shifts in the frequency of the reflected sunlight can also be caused by variations on Ceres' surface can also cause. Through some very careful work, a group of scientists think they have demonstrated for the first time that this technique can be used to study daily changes on Ceres' surface long after Dawn retires. The new work was done using the HARPS instrument at the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Observatory in Chile. The researchers say they have successfully demonstrated that the technique can accurately measure Doppler shifts in the light reflecting off Ceres' surface and from its bright spots. Using previous measurements of Ceres' velocity (via other methods), the team showed that it is picking up changes in how much sunlight bounces off the surface - meaning, most likely, something is changing on the surface of Ceres. 'The result was a surprise,' Antonino Lanza, a co-author on the new study and an associate astronomer at the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics' Catania Astrophysical Observatory, said in a statement from the ESO. 'We did find the expected changes to the spectrum from the rotation of Ceres, but with considerable other variations from night to night.'

A joint European and Russian space mission is heading to Mars. Launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter will study methane and other rare gases in the Red Planet's atmosphere, and also drop a lander on its surface. Controllers received a signal from the probe late on Monday, confirming it was in good health. Analysis of tracking data indicated that the 4.3-tonne orbiter was on a good trajectory as well. The European Space Agency's Micah Schmidt, speaking from the organisation's operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany, announced the good news: 'We have acquisition of signal; we have a mission. And for the second time, Europe is going to Mars.' ESA's Director General, Jan Woerner, added: 'We are on the way to Mars and this is really a very nice experience, to have this inspiring mission now realised. Let's go forward to Mars and see what we can do.' The cruise to the Red Planet is a seven-month, five hundred-million-kilometre journey. Hardly, as it were, a Godawful small affair, one may conclude. And, even when it arrives, the TGO will take the better part of a year to manoeuvre itself into the right position around Mars. So, in reality, the satellite's observations will not start in earnest until late 2017. But when they do, they will represent the first life-detection investigations made at Mars in more than forty years. Of prime interest, of course, is methane, which exists at levels one thousand times lower than on Earth. On our planet, the CH4 molecule is present in the parts per million by volume; on Mars, it is in the parts per billion. But in the harsh environment on Mars, this gas should be destroyed by sunlight relatively rapidly, over the course of a few hundred years.
A woman dubbed 'the Internet Black Widow' was released from prison in Canada on Friday, prompting police to take the unusual step of issuing a warning to potential victims - elderly men looking for love. What could have earned a sweet-talking eighty-year-old such a sinister reputation? Alex Strategos was lonely and searching for romance when he met Melissa Ann Shepard on an online dating site. 'At first, I thought she seemed very nice,' Strategos, now eighty four, told the BBC from his home in Florida. Shepard drove down from Canada and quickly moved in with Strategos, who described her as a 'classy lady.' But, he soon discovered that she was somewhat less classy than she seemed. 'I went to hospital,' says Strategos. 'She sent me there.' The relationship was one of many that have resulted in Shepard serving time in prison. This week she was released after two years and nine months in jail for spiking the coffee of a new partner, Fred Weeks, her neighbour in a quiet retirement community in Nova Scotia. According to court documents, she knocked on his door and told him she was lonely and she'd heard he was lonely too. The couple had a civil union ceremony in his living room and although the marriage was reportedly never certified, they went on honeymoon to Newfoundland. Prosecutors said Shepard gave Weeks 'heavy doses' of sedatives during the journey, leaving him unable to distinguish between the reverse and drive gears in his car and to start the vehicle when they were disembarking from a ferry. The next day he needed a wheelchair, could not put on his shoes and did not know where his car keys were, the court heard. But it was not until he was hospitalised after falling out of bed that the drugs were found in his system and police realised something was wrong.

Motorists spotted a ninety two-year-old man riding his mobility scooter along a busy dual carriageway in West Sussex. Police said that the 'very confused' pensioner found himself on the A2011 near Crawley on Friday, after 'taking a wrong turn.' A car driver pulled over to help the OAP, who is now recovering from his ordeal at home. PC Katie Breeds said: 'He was very confused and really didn't know where he was. We sat him in the back of our police car and waited for a colleague in a van to collect the mobility scooter.'
Police in Northern California are searching for the driver of a van made to look like the famous Mystery Machine from the Scooby Doo, Where Are You? cartoon series. The van was involved in a one hundred miles per hour police chase which crossed four counties until it was called off because it was 'too dangerous.' Driver Sharon Turman, abandoned the van, which people believe to have been her home and it has now been impounded. Locals described her as 'nice,' saying that she always allowed people to take a picture of her vehicle and expressed their surprise at seeing a van they saw often 'speeding across the TV screen.' The televised chase happened, according to KRCR News, after Turman was stopped for a routine probation check and 'decided to make a run for it.' Zoinks. Turman's probation officer called the police who brought in four cars and a helicopter to try to slow down the van. The high-speed pursuit was finally called off after police decided it was too dangerous to continue. One officer was recorded saying: 'Holy cow, she almost just took out a vehicle. Blew the light at about seventy.'
For the second time in a week, police in Wisconsin have recovered a stolen load of cheese worth tens of thousands of dollars. Marshfield Police Lt Darren Larson said forty one thousand pounds of Parmesan cheese worth ninety thousand dollars was stolen from a distributor on 15 January. A truck picked up the cheese that day, but it never reached its intended destination in Illinois. Larson said that the investigators received 'a tip' on Thursday that the cheese was 'likely' to be in Grand Chute. Police in Grand Chute found the entire shipment in tact. It had already been unloaded into a warehouse. On Monday, police in Germantown said seventy thousand dollars worth of cheddar 'and other cheeses' stolen from a distribution centre in the town last week had been recovered in Milwaukee on Friday. Police haven't said whether the cases are connected.
England pulled off the second-highest run chase in Twenty20 international history to stun South Africa and get their World T20 campaign back on track. Chasing an improbable total of two hundred and thirty runs in Mumbai, Joe Root struck a composed forty four-ball eighty three after Jason Roy had blitzed forty three from sixteen deliveries. England lost two wickets in the last over with the scores level before Moeen Ali calmly sealed victory with two balls to spare. South Africa had earlier posted two hundred and twenty nine for six, with Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy all making half-centuries. At the time, that was the second-highest score at a World T20, only for England to trump it with a display of big hitting that bettered the Proteas, who in turn managed to bowl just as badly as Eoin Morgan's side had earlier. For England, it was an excellent reply to the defeat by West Indies in their opening game and further evidence of the improvement of their limited-overs batting since the woeful 2015 World Cup. They next face Afghanistan in Delhi on Wednesday, knowing that victory would leave them well-placed to earn a spot in the semi-finals. As England dragged themselves off the field after being thrashed all round the ground in the first half of the match, it seemed highly unlikely they would even get close to South Africa's huge total. But the tone was set by Roy, who hit Kagiso Rabada's first ball of the innings over mid-off for four and then helped himself to three sixes on the leg-side as the Proteas' attack inexplicably went to pieces like so much wet cardboard. With Alex Hales, who was dropped by Kyle Abbott off the first ball he faced from Dale Steyn, also in on the big-hitting act, England took forty four runs off the first two overs of the innings - the most in T20 international history - and over seventy off the first four, before losing their first wicket. For all of the early pyrotechnics, however, it still looked like England would fall agonisingly short as wickets fell with regularity and South Africa's spin pair of Duminy and Imran Tahir went twenty nine balls without conceding a boundary in the middle of the innings. However, Root re-energised the chase by pulling Duminy for six and, in tandem with Jos Buttler, added seventy five in only six overs. Even after Buttler was stumped down the leg-side off Tahir, the classy Root took four fours and a six from the next eight balls he faced before he holed out with eleven runs still needed from ten deliveries. Moeen and Chris Jordan got the scores level but, with one run still needed from Abbott's final over, Jordan was well caught by Duminy at deep mid-wicket and David Willey was run out without facing a ball after being sent back by Moeen. With the tension rising, Moeen finally hit the winning run down the ground. Although England completed a remarkable chase, the form of their bowling attack - which was pummelled by Big Chris Gayle in the previous game - will remain a concern, with South Africa's innings allowed to get off to a flying start as a result of some dreadful inaccuracy. At the of the first over, South Africa were two for nought. After five, they were seventy two without loss as De Kock and Amla destroyed everything that was sent down by Reece Topley, Willey, Moeen and Jordan. From a seemingly hopeless position, England were dragged back into the game by their slow bowlers. Moeen recovered to remove both De Kock and Amla as he returned figures of two for thirty four, while Adil Rashid was impressive in a four-over spell of one for thirty five which accounted for AB de Villiers. Although the pacemen returned to take further punishment, incredibly the huge total did not prove enough for South Africa.

FIFA - it's not just for the nice things in life - wants to reclaim 'tens of millions of dollars' taken, illegally it claims, by some of its former executive members and 'other organisations.' None of whom, obviously, are complete and utter crooks. Just so we're clear about that. FIFA also says that 'corrupt officials' who served on its former executive committee were guilty as Hell of selling their votes in World Cup bidding contests. Which we all knew anyway and many said so at the time and were sneered at by the then FIFA president, Sepp Blatter. Who, again, just to repeat, it obviously not a complete crook. And, yet we're all still going to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. Curious, that, yes? Former FIFA officials supergrass Chuck Blazer, the odious Jack Warner and Jeffrey Webb are among those being extremely sued by FIFA, which has submitted documents to US authorities. In total, forty one individuals and entities have been very charged in the United States with all sorts of criminal behaviour and naughty doings. FIFA estimates that 'millions of dollars' were diverted from the sport, illegally, through bribery, kickbacks and corrupt schemes carried out by the defendants. World football's governing body has been in turmoil since May 2015, when a US investigation exposed widespread corruption, fraud, chicanery, dodgy dealings, malarkey, shenanigans and right rotten doings at the very top of the organisation. Now, it is attempting to fight back, describing itself as 'a victimised institution.' New FIFA president Gianni Infantino, elected in February, also claimed that corrupt officials had 'abused positions of trust.' He added: 'They caused serious and lasting damage to FIFA, its member associations and the football community. The monies they pocketed belonged to global football and were meant for the development and promotion of the game. FIFA as the world governing body of football wants that money back and we are determined to get it no matter how long it takes.' Once the money had been recovered, Infantino said, it would be directed back to 'its original purpose' of benefitting and developing international football. He added: 'These dollars were meant to build football fields, not mansions and pools; to buy football kits, not jewellery and cars and to fund youth player and coach development, not to underwrite lavish lifestyles for football and sports marketing executives.' Infantino was elected as FIFA chief last month, replacing Blatter, who had been in charge of the governing body since 1998.

The magician Paul Daniels has died aged seventy seven, after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Which is, obviously, very sad. He was at his Berkshire home with wife, the lovely Debbie McGee, when he died in the early hours of Thursday. 'Debbie and the family would like to thank everyone for their support and asks that their privacy be respected at this sad time,' his publicist said. Daniels fronted BBC's Paul Daniels Magic Show for fifteen years. And some crappy game show the name of which escapes this blogger for the moment.

Sylvia Anderson, best known as the voice of Lady Penelope in the TV show Thunderbirds, has died after a short illness, her family has confirmed. Sylvia co-created the cult science-fiction puppet series, which was first broadcast in 1965, with her late husband, Gerry. In a career spanning five decades, she also worked on shows Joe 90, Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons and UFO, and for the US TV network HBO. She died at her Berkshire home, aged eighty eight. Her daughter described her as 'a mother and a legend. Her intelligence was phenomenal but her creativity and tenacity unchallenged. She was a force in every way,' Dee Anderson said. Sylvia's former husband, Gerry Anderson, died in 2012 after suffering from Alzheimer's. Nick Williams, Chairman of Fanderson - the fan club dedicated to the work of Gerry and Sylvia - told BBC Breakfast that Sylvia was 'a huge influence' on the entertainment industry. 'She was one of the first really prominent women in the film and TV industry,' he said, adding that Anderson leaves behind 'an amazing legacy of fantastic television, really groundbreaking entertainment.' Born in South London to a boxing promoter and a dressmaker, Sylvia Thomas graduated from the London School of Economics with a degree in sociology and political science. She spent several years in the US and worked as a journalist before returning to the UK and joining a TV production company, where she met her future husband. When Gerry started his own company, AP Films, Sylvia joined him and the couple began making puppet shows. They developed a production technique using electronic marionette puppets, called Supermarionation, in which the voices were recorded first and when the puppets were filmed, the electric signal from the taped dialogue was hooked up to sensors in the puppets' heads. In 1963, the couple came up with the idea for Thunderbirds, which told the story of the Tracy family who form a secret organisation - International Rescue - dedicated to saving human life. As well as co-creating and writing the series, Sylvia worked on character development and costume design. The character of Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, a glamorous upper class British agent, was modelled on Sylvia's own appearance, and she also provided her characteristic aristocratic voice. The success of Thunderbirds led to two feature film adaptations and a toy and merchandise empire. A remake were made last year to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the original series. Other shows which the couple created included Stingray, Fireball XL5, The Secret Service, The Protectors and Space: 1999. However, the partnership ended when they divorced in 1981. Sylvia went on to work as head of programming for HBO in the UK and write several books. Her last public interview was on The Graham Norton Show on Radio 2 with the actor David Graham, who provided the voice for Lady Penelope's chauffeur (and, possibly, lover) Parker, in December. Her family said that she had many famous friends, 'but would always find time to take care of people who were suffering or in need of support' and worked with many charities, including Breast Cancer Care. Her autobiography Yes M'Lady was first published in 1991 and updated in 2007, as My FAB Years. Sylvia is survived by her daughter, Dee Anderson, a singer and songwriter and her son, Gerry Anderson Junior. She also leaves four grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
Cliff Michelmore, a familiar figure in BBC radio and TV broadcasting since the 1940s, has died in hospital aged ninety six. In a career spanning some sixty years, Michelmore anchored coverage of events including the Apollo Moon landings and two General Erections. Known for his unflappable style, he interviewed figures including Prince Charles, the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson and - possibly most famously of all - a seventeen-year-old David Bowie in 1964 (about his long hair and people calling him 'darling!') BBC Director General Tony Hall said that Cliff was 'an outstanding broadcaster.' His 'personal approach' recast the role of the TV presenter at the BBC, Lord Hall added. Best known as host of the current affairs programme Tonight from 1957 to 1965 and then its more-or-less direct sequel Twenty Four Hours, Michelmore brought a more informal style to current affairs presenting than had previous been the standard. Studio equipment appeared in shot and Michelmore often presented items while perched on the edge of his desk. In his later life, he went on to present the long-running Holiday programme on BBC1 and was still broadcasting well into his eighties. He also anchored major live events, including the breaking news of the assassination of President John Kennedy in 1963, which occurred while he was live on-air and, the return of the damaged Apollo Thirteen spacecraft - the one with Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon on board. Cliff's son, Guy, told the BBC that his father died at Petersfield Hospital in Hampshire after being admitted last week. Clifford Arthur Michelmore was born in December 1919 at Cowes, the youngest of six children. His parents had moved to the Isle of Wight before the First World War, in the hope of relieving his father's tuberculosis; Michelmore senior, however, died before Cliff was two. Cliff's sister Ivy also died from TB. Since his mother could not afford the fares to the grammar school in Newport, Cliff went to Cowes Senior School, where he became head boy and captain of cricket – and rather alarmed the staff with his eagerness to organise everything. Cliff joined the RAF as a twenty one year old and was a commissioned officer during World War Two. He made his first broadcast for the British Forces Network in Hamburg and soon began appearing in a variety of roles - including acting in radio dramas and presenting a weekly gardening series. His big break came when he was asked to fill in at the Hamburg end of the popular BBC radio show Two-Way Family Favourites. The massively popular programme went out on Sunday lunchtime and linked members of British armed forces serving round the world with their families at home. Cliff went on to marry the show's London anchor, Jean Metcalfe, who died in 2000. He later said that it was 'love at first hearing.' Cliff joined the BBC, first as a reporter in the South West, before moving into current affairs presenting. During his career, he fronted numerous programmes, including Highlight, Twenty Four Hours, and Tonight - where he coined his famous sign-off: 'The next Tonight will be tomorrow night. Goodnight.' When Michelmore left Twenty Four Hours in 1968, he set up an independent production company to make programmes. But, although he turned down the opportunity to take over from Freddie Grisewood on radio's Any Questions, and to replace Eamonn Andrews on This Is Your Life, he remained a frequent presence on both mediums. British By Choice (1969) gave those who had settled in this country an opportunity to explain why, Across The Great Divide (1970) investigated Britons living in America and Wheelbase (1972) was a series about the motor industry. Holiday, which ran from 1969 to 1986, involved Michelmore in the arduous duty of travelling around the world investigating the offerings of the leisure industry. In 1970 he did a series of one-on-one interviews under the title With Michelmore; his subjects included Sir Matt Busby, Ginger Rogers and Field Marshal Montgomery, who confessed that his favourite television programme was Come Dancing – 'the one with all those pwetty girls in pwetty fwocks dancing in formation.' On radio, he chaired Whatever You Think (1972), an attempt to find a variation on the old Brains Trust format, with questions from the public. Home Town (1975) was a television variant on the Down Your Way formula. He had a brief and unhappy spell with Southern Television in 1980, but three years later found agreeable berth as the presenter of Home On Sunday (1983-90) and Lifeline (1986-96). His radio programmes included Coastline (1991-94), Cliff's Country (1992), and Scrapbook: A Year Io Remember (1996-97). His calm and collected style meant that he was the perfect choice to anchor General Erection results coverage, which he did for the BBC in 1966 and 1970. Michelmore presented coverage of the Apollo Eleven mission to the Moon in 1969, alongside James Burke, Patrick Moore and Michael Charlton. But he was shaken when he was sent to cover the 1966 disaster at the Welsh village of Aberfan, where a slag heap had collapsed on to a junior school, killing one hundred and sixteen children and twenty eight adults. 'Never in my life have I seen anything like this. I hope I shall never see anything like it again,' he said in his emotional report on BBC News. He won a number of awards and was made a CBE in 1969. Paying tribute, Tony Hall said: 'It's impossible to overestimate just how important a national figure he was at a time when there were just two channels. I still remember as a boy watching Cliff Michelmore presenting Tonight live five times a week in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He was natural, warm, engaging - he was utterly himself and showed he was one of us. His personal approach recast the role of the TV presenter at the BBC and he was loved by audiences for it.' Cliff and Jean Metcalfe published a joint autobiography, Two-Way Story (1986). He returned to the BBC in 2007 to introduce a programme on the Parliament channel, recalling the devaluation of the pound in 1967. Cliff is survived by his daughter, Jenny, an actress, and his son, Guy, a broadcaster and composer of music for film and TV.
Meanwhile, odious, full-of-her-own-importance phlegm Kay Burley has been ridiculed after tweeting a tribute to Malcolm Muggeridge - who died more than twenty five years ago - instead of Cliff Michelmore.
The Sky News host - who really seems to believe she has her finger on the pulse of everything - wrote 'RIP Malcolm Muggeridge' above a picture of the journalist and broadcaster who died aged eighty seven in 1990. Burley's post, followed the overnight announcement of the death Michelmore. Needless to say, Twitter users mercilessly, and deservedly, ripped the piss out of her - she is, after all, supposed to be 'a journalist' (allegedly). Many suggested that the death of other well-known figures from decades and centuries past – including Elvis Presley, Winston Churchill and Napoleon - should also be marked by Burley on her Twitter account. Among those making fun of Burley was one Alan Perrie from Birmingham, who tweeted: 'RIP President John F Kennedy, cruelly taken from us this morning in Dallas, cause of death TBC.' Heh. That's actually quite funny. Well, for Twitter, anyway. The - alleged - comedian David Bladdibub tweeted: 'I see Malcolm Muggeridge is trending because Kay Burley mixed him up with Cliff Michelmore. What a time to be alive.' Burley was widely mocked last November for tweeting a picture of a dog in Paris with the caption 'sadness in his eyes', following the terrorist attacks which killed one hundred and thirty people in the city. Burley was, rightly, criticised for the crassness and insensitivity of the posting. Not to mention it being a truly idiotic example of anthropomorphism. Though, to be fair, as well as being monumentally stupid she is also the single most annoying, pompous and arrogant newsreader on TV. And, let's face it, she has some serious competition in that regard. So, well done Kay for, once again, brightening up everyone's day with yet another example of your staggering intellectual grasp of nuance.
Which brings us, rather neatly, to Keith Telly Topping's (bootleg) 33 of the Day and the little known fact, dear blog readers. that Cliff Michelmore was once namechecked during a rehearsal performance by The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them). This blogger has no idea as to why yer actual Paul McCartney (MBE) did this extraordinary thing, although it was possibly because yer man Cliff was due to be on the nation's tellybox that very evening, presenting a programme called So You Think You Know What's New? Thus, without further ado, here are yer actual Paul (MBE), yer actual George (MBE), Ringo his very self (MBE) and the alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie (MBE ... returned) on 7 January 1969 at Twickenham Film Studios and a rather fine version of an old and quite obscure Carl Perkins number.

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