Saturday, March 05, 2016

Lord, What Fools These Mortals Be

According to what appears to be a rather speculative piece on the Radio Times website the former EastEnders actress Rakhee Thakrar is 'in talks' with BBC to co-star in series ten of Doctor Who. 'In talks' with whom, they don't say. 'It is understood that Thakrar, who left EastEnders in February, is on a list of actresses in the frame to replace Jenna Coleman in the coveted role,' the article - written by Ben Dowell and David Brown - claims. 'Understood' by whom - other than, obviously, Dowell and Brown their very selves - they also don't say. According to a nameless - and, therefore, probably fictitious - alleged 'source', 'auditions are poised to begin for the part with Thakrar - who won plaudits from the soap's producers and fans – in line for an audience with the producers.' More on this if it turns out to be based on anything other than the witterings of an anonymous - and, probably fictitious - alleged 'source.'
Mary Berry's latest baking series has proved to be a winning recipe for BBC2 with nearly three million viewers, beating BBC1's Panorama in the same slot. The penultimate episode of the six-part Mary Berry's Foolproof Cooking, had 2.94 million overnight viewers, a thirteen per cent audience share, from 8.30pm on Monday, nearly half-a-million up on last week's overnight audience. The latest episode - featuring roasted cauliflower and a bacon and pesto pasta - was ahead of Panorama – about an organised crime syndicates – which had 2.50 million viewers at the same time on BBC1. Berry's format also beat the second half of Channel Four's Supershoppers, with 1.48 million viewers from 8pm and Channel Five's Criminally Unfunny: Caught In The Act, with eight hundred and two thousand viewers. The US animated comedy Family Guy - once a staple of the BBC3 schedules ... back when it used to have one before they were shoved into the online gutter along with all the other crap - made its debut on its new home, ITV2, with seven hundred and fifty seven thousand viewers. The Seth MacFarlane series was bought by ITV last year and already looks to be good value, the opening episode figure being up one hundred and twenty per cent on the channel's three-month slot average. Another MacFarlane series, Bordertown, was shown immediately afterwards on ITV2 and had four hundred and fourteen thousand viewers. BBC2’s latest teatime series, Too Much TV, featuring TV reviews and previews with a presenter line-up including Sara Cox and Aled Jones, started with fewer than a million viewers. The series, promising 'behind the scenes reports from the nation's favourite shows,' had nine hundred and three thousand viewers from 6.30pm. Hollyoaks, at the same time on Channel Four, drew 1.1 million viewers. Davina McCall: Life At The Extreme began with 3.48 million viewers in the 9pm slot where ITV has really struggled with its factual output of late. Earlier, Further Tales From Northumberland With Wor Geet Canny Robson Green had 2.89 million viewers from 8pm. The rest of ITV's evening was taken up with soaps - Emmerdale drawing 6.31m and two episodes of Coronation Street attracting 7.04m and 6,58m. On BBC1, The ONE Show was watched by 3.65m, Inside Out by 3.35m, EastEnders by 6.74m and a Mrs Brown's Boys repeat by 2.80m. In addition to Mary Berry, BBC2's night also included another episode of the popular University Challenge (2.85m from 8pm), the third episode of The People Versus OJ Simpson (1.60m) and Qi XL (nine hundred and ninety eight thousand). On Channel Four, Royal Navy School drew 1.55m. The X-Files continued to attracted above-average numbers for Channel Five - 1.61m at 9pm. A new episode of The Walking Dead had nine hundred and twenty one thousand viewers on FOX at 9pm and BBC4's The Renaissance Unchained was seen by five hundred and nineteen thousand at the same time.
Another week and 'the Tuesday torture' for ITV continued with the - not at all ironically titled - It's Not Rocket Science pulling in just 1.68 million viewers at 8pm compared with two million watching Channel Four's The Secret Life Of The Zoo and more than four-and-a-half million who tuned into Holby City on BBC1 at the same time. In fact, once Emmerdale (5.76m) was out of the way, ITV didn't manage to get above two-and-a-half million punters for the entire evening, The Inspectors Are Coming attracting 2.45m and Frustrated Britain: Caught In The Camera bringing in a laughably low 1.50m at 9pm. Happy Valley continued to dominate the evening's overnight with an audience of 6.37m. Earlier, the rest of BBC1's regular Tuesday line-up all had slot-winning averages, The ONE Show drawing 4.35m, EastEnders having 6.32m and, as mentioned, Holby City with 4.59m. On BBC2, The Great Interior Design Challenge had an audience of 1.80m, Back In Time For The Weekend was watched by 2.26m, Who's The Boss getting seven hundred and thirty four thousand at 9pm and Scrappers: Back In The Yard seen by seven hundred and ninety one thousand an hour later. The Secret Life Of The Zoo attracted 2.01m viewers to Channel Four at 8pm, followed by Born To Be Different (1.03m) and a Gogglebox repeat (eight hundred and twenty eight thousand). Britain's Horror Homes on Channel Five had 1.05m and The Great British Benefits Handout drew 1.27m. Top of the multichannels was ITV3's latest Midsomer Murders repeat (1.16m). BBC4 had a decent night with The Brecon Beacons watched by five hundred and sixteen thousand at 9pm and The Taff: The River That Made Wales by four hundred and fifty seven thousand half-an-hour earlier.
Grantchester returned to ITV for a second series with a strong, slot-winning audience of 5.01m from 9pm on Wednesday. Its two leads, James Norton and Wor Geet Canny Robson Green had, earlier, appeared on BBC1's The ONE Show which drew a slightly lower than usual audience of 3.62m for its hour-long episode from 7pm. ITV also saw the - very unwelcome - return of the wretched, vomit-inducing Big Stars Little Star which was watched 3.83m. On BBC1, a new episode of former BBC3 staple Traffic Cops was watched by 3.59m whilst DIY SOS: The Big Build had an audience of 3.57m. BBC2's night included The One Hundred Thousand Pound House: Tricks Of The Trade drew 1.75m and the final episode of One Child had eight hundred and fifty one thousand. Channel Four's Twenty Four Hours In A&E attracted 1.41m, followed by the start of a new series of the excellent Raised By Wolves (seven hundred and seventy one thousand). GPS: Behind Closed Doors (1.06m) and Inside Buckingham Palace (1.07m) were the highlights of Channel Five's evening. A new episode of The One Hundred on E4 had an audience of three hundred and sixty nine thousand at 9pm. Sky1's Arrow attracted three hundred and thirty two thousand at 8pm, followed by Limitless with two hundred and sixty thousand.
EastEnders topped BBC1's overnight ratings for Thursday evening, with an audience of 6.33m from 7.30pm. Earlier, The ONE Show drew 4.03m. The comedy double-bill of Room 101 and Would I Lie To You? attracting 3.20m and 3.10m viewers respectively. At 9pm, the - terrific - documentary Pompeii: New Secrets Revealed written and presented by From The North favourite Mary Beard had 3.87m. Which, does rather restore ones faith in the viewing public as not, entirely, composed of numskull troglodytes with shat-for-brains. Well done, people, for watching something that actually makes you think for a change. It looks like BBC2 have commissioned an ITV-style lemon in Too Much TV, the latest episode of which drew a mere five hundred and ten thousand at 6.30pm. That's a loss of around half of its initial audience in less than a week. Coverage of the World Cycling Championships from Lee Valley drew 1.05m between 7pm and 9pm, followed by the first of a new three-part anthology drama, Murder which had 1.06m. At 10pm the return of Full-Of-His-Own-Importance Snob Stewart Lee's Unfunny Comedy Vehicle had four hundred and ninety eight thousand Middle Class hippy-Communist Gruniad Morning Star readers. And, as usual, was about as funny a poke in the dong with a pointy stick. 4.29 million punters watched ITV's new - somewhat unoriginal - series The Cruise at 8.30pm, a pretty decent audience for factual in that particular slot. It was back to usual for the channel at 9pm, however, with Bear Grylls: Mission Survive returning for a second series with 2.75m. Earlier, Tonight: Meeting My Enemy was watched by 3.15m. Ugly House To Lovely House With George Clarke attracted 1.70m to Channel Four at 8pm, followed by Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown was seen by 1.37m and a new series of Alan Carr: Chatty Man had a lower-than-expected eight hundred and thirty seven thousand at 10pm. On Channel Five, The Secret Life Of The Family had an audience of five hundred and forty one thousand, whilst the movie Olympus Has Fallen brought in 1.25m from 9pm. The opening episode of Sky1's DC's Legends Of Tomorrow was watched by five hundred and seventy two thousand at 8pm.

Friday evening's episode of EastEnders was watched by 5.79m at 8pm whilst the series finale of Shetland had an audience of 4.19m at 9pm. The ONE Show was seen by 4.08m. On BBC2, Gardeners' World attracted 2.15m, followed by Land Of Hope & Glory: British Country Life which had 1.26m and the first of two Qi M series compilation episodes, seen by one million viewers. ITV's evening was dominated by two episodes of Coronation Street - watched by 6.83m and 6.51m viewers respectively. Mr Selfridge continued to struggle with 2.55m at 9pm whilst, earlier, Best Walks With A View With Julia Bradbury attracted 3.38m. Gogglebox was, as usual, the highlight of Channel Four's evening, attracting an audience of 3.25m at 9pm, which was followed by The Last Leg with 1.57m an hour later. NCIS: New Orleans had six hundred and fifty three thousand punters at 9pm on Channel Five. NCIS drew eight hundred and fifty four thousand at 10pm. Stan Lee's Lucky Man was watched by three hundred and twenty one thousand on Sky1. Fox's NCIS had three hundred and ninety six thousand viewers at 9pm.

Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway once again had the better of The Voice in Saturday's overnight head-to-head, albeit by considerably less of a margin than on previous weeks. Takeaway attracted an audience of 6.28m at 7pm on ITV. around seven hundred thousand overnight viewers down on the previous week's episode whilst The Voice had 5.26m on BBC1, just over one hundred thousand lower, week-on-week. Despite some notable dips in its line-up - The Getaway Car continuing to shed viewers much like a dog sheds hair, with 2.61m at 6.10pm - it was a steady day for BBC1 beginning in the afternoon with 1.17m viewers for Tennis: The Davis Cup and 1.99m for Final Score from 4.30pm. Dynamo: Magician Impossible then attracted 2.24m whilst, later, Casualty pulled in an audience of five million viewers from 9pm, The National Lottery Live had 3.96m and Match Of The Day drew 3.33m. The vast majority of whom were, no doubt, very amused by the latest gutless, inept surrender-before-kick-off by yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable and now, seemingly, relegation bound) Magpies who gifted Bournemouth the easiest three points they'll get all season. Bunch of overpaid waste-of-space cowards. On ITV, You've Been Framed! won its slot against The Getaway Car with 2.77m punters - something which, if Dermot O'Dreary isn't thoroughly ashamed about he bloody well should be. Terrible horrorshow (and drag) Take Me Out attracted 3.34 whilst being, very satisfyingly, spanked by Casualty and The Jonathan Ross Show was seen by 2.19m at 10pm. BBC2's night began with Queen Victoria's Children (1.09m at 7.30pm), followed by Dad's Army (2.10m and, also, subject of this week's most ridiculous TV-related tabloid story from that bastion of true and accurate reportage, the Daily Mirra) and Stag (eight hundred and twelve thousand). On Channel Four, Great Canal Journeys was watched by eight hundred and forty one thousand viewers, Poxy, Rotten, Nasty Penelope Keith's Horrific Little Englander UKiP-Licking Hidden Villages had 1.18m (this blogger resigned from the human race in protest hough I don't think it did much good) and the movie The Bourne Legacy drew 1.09m. Channel Five's audience never got above a million punters for the entire evening, and with a line-up that consisted of Cats Make You Laugh Out Loud (six hundred thousand), Grannies Make You Laugh Out Loud (six hundred and eighteen thousand), Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! (And, Laugh Out Loud, Probably) (five hundred and seventy thousand), World War II In Colour (No Laughing, Please) (four hundred and ninety two thousand), The Gadget Show (four hundred and sixty thousand) and The Championship: Football League Tonight Makes You Laugh Out Loud (four hundred and thirteen thousand) is anyone actually surprised by? On BBC4, the latest two episodes of imported drama Trapped were watched by overnight audiences of seven hundred and ten thousand and six hundred and fifty six thousand respectively. Gillette Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports News drew five hundred and twenty five thousand.

The BBC1 espionage thriller The Night Manager easily saw off the challenge of the ITV drama Doctor Thorne, touted as 'the new Downton Abbey,' to win the battle for the 9pm Sunday night slot. The BBC's adaptation of John Le Carré's spy thriller, which stars Tom Hiddleston, Olivia Colman, Huge Laurie and Tom Hollander, drew an average of 6.19 million overnight viewers for its third episode (or six). Viewing figures were down slightly on the previous week's overnight, however the BBC1 drama still drew a twenty eight per cent share of the available audience between 9pm and 10pm. This was enough to see off the debut of Doctor Thorne, an adaptation of Anthony Trollope's novel by Downton Abbey creator Lord Snooty, which drew 3.45 million viewers. Sunday night also saw the final in the latest series of celebrity winter sports reality show The Jump, which has been dogged by media-created controversy following a string of accidents to several of the the z-lister attention whores taking part and picked up an average of 1.59 million viewers. BBC2's new five-part drama series Thirteen, about a woman who escapes after being held captive in a cellar for thirteen years, premièred with an average of eight hundred and seventy three thousand viewers between 10pm and 11pm. The most-watched programme of the night was- by a distance - the fifth series finale of BBC1's Call The Midwife which was watched by a massive 9.20m viewers at 8pm. It was a terrific night all-round for BBC1 with Countryfile attracting 7.76m at 7pm. Against such juggernauts, ITV's audience simply collapsed, with grossly expensive drama flop Beowulf: Return To The Drawingboard being seen by a risibly low 1.59m against Countryfile and the opening episode of The Story Of Cats drawing but 2.10m through the cat-flap when faced with Call The Midwife. On BBC2, Steve Backshall's Extreme Mountain Challenge was watched by 1.53m and Let's Play Darts For Sport Relief had 1.19m at 9pm. Earlier, over two million viewers watched BBC2's afternoon coverage of Britain's Davis Cup win against Japan, with a peak of over three million at climax of Andy Murray's five-set victory over Kei Nishikori. Channel Four's broadcast of the movie American Hustle was seen by six hundred and forty eight thousand from 9pm whilst Channel Five's movie première, Grown Ups 2, attracted eight hundred and eighty thousand at the same time. One hour earlier, Penn & Teller: Fool Us In Vegas had an audience of six hundred and eighty eight thousand. On Sky1, new episodes of Hawaii Five-0 and NCIS: Los Angeles attracted four hundred and forty eight thousand and two hundred and ninety one thousand viewers respectively.
Channel has 'axed' The Jump 'after ratings collapsed' according to the Sun. Which may well be true although, personally, Keith Telly Topping thinks that the likely reason would be less the state of the ratings - which are about average for a Channel Four show in that particular slot - and more the potential insurance problems which the makers could have in producing another series. 'An audience of just 2.3 million tuned in to watch The Jump's star-studded launch last month. Last week's semi-final drew only 1.6 million viewers after the show was hit by controversy over a series of injuries suffered by celebrities,' claimed the Sun. 'Former gymnast Beth Tweddle was left needing surgery to fuse broken vertebrae while actress Tina Hobley shattered her arm and fractured her elbow. They are among seven stars who quit after accidents. Several continued despite agonising injuries. And their disasters sent the bill for the show, which is in its third series, soaring higher. Only Brian McFadden escaped unscathed, celebrating after he was voted out with the words: "I'm leaving alive."' Channel Four, however, state that this is 'categorically untrue.' So, either they are lying, or the Sun is. Place your bets now, dear blog reader. The Sun also recently claimed that ITV have cancelled flop drama Beowulf, an allegation which was also immediately denied by an ITV spokesperson. Although, to be honest, more people believed the Sun in that particular case. And, it's not often you can say that.
The final and consolidated numbers for the Top Twenty Two programmes, for week-ending Sunday 28 February 2016 were as follows:-
1 Call The Midwife - Sun BBC1 - 10.20m
2 The Night Manager - Sun BBC1 - 8.42m
3 Happy Valley - Tues BBC1 - 8.29m
4 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 8.24m
5 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 8.13m
6 Death In Paradise - Thurs BBC1 - 8.09m
7 Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway - Sat ITV - 8.02m
8 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.54m
9 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.91m
10 The Great Sports Relief Bake-Off - Wed BBC1 - 6.74m
11 Six Nations Rugby: England Versus Ireland - Sat ITV - 6.61m
12 The Voice - Sat BBC1 - 6.33m
13 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.76m
14 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 5.28m
15 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.23m
16 Six Nations Rugby: Wales Versus France - Fri BBC1 - 4.83m
17 Holby City - Tues BBC1- 4.71m
18 The Brit Awards 2016 - Wed ITV - 4.70m*
19 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.60m
20 The ONE Show - Tues BBC1 - 4.23m
21 Benidorm - Mon ITV - 4.22m*
22 Gogglebox - Fri C4 - 4.09m
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 that they do not include HD viewers. Churchill's Secret became ITV's latest big-budget drama flop, attracting a final audience of 3.21m. On BBC2, University Challenge had 3.15 million viewers, followed by the movie Philomena (2.83m), Back In Time For The Weekend (also 2.83m), Mary Berry's Foolproof Cooking (2.79m), The People Versus OJ Simpson: American Crime Story (2.55m), Dragon's Den: Pitches To Riches? (2.24m) and Dad's Army (2.01m). The first episode of Stag was watched by 1.68m. Aside from Googlebox, The Secret Life Of The Zoo was Channel Four's second most top-rated broadcast of the week (2.69 million), followed by First Contact: Lost Tribe Of The Amazon (2.55m), Royal Navy School (2.13m), Twenty Four Hours In A&E (2.05m), Ugly House To Lovely House With George Clarke (2.03m) and The Last Leg With Adam Hills (2.02m). The Jump dipped under two million for the second time in its current series - 1.87m. Channel Five's top performer, by a distance, was again The X-Files (2.98m), while Inside Buckingham Palace drew 1.77m and the latest episode of Gotham had 1.47m. Sky Sports 1's coverage of the Capital One Cup Final between Sheikh Yer Man City and the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws was watched by 2.37m punters. Earlier on the same day, the Premier League clash between The Scum and The Arse had 1.64m. Gillette Soccer Saturday was Sky Sports News's highest-rated broadcast with seven hundred and seventy two thousand viewers. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated broadcast (a whopping 1.17m). Agatha Christie's Marple drew five hundred and thirteen thousand. A broadcast of The World Is Not Enough, headed ITV4's top ten (three hundred and thirty three thousand). Take Me Out: The Gossip was ITV2's best performer with nine hundred and ninety four thousand. Which, really, tells you everything you need to know about ITV2 and why you should never, ever, under any circumstances watch it. Because, it will melt your brain. Imported Icelandic drama Trapped on BBC4 had audiences of nine hundred and seventy six thousand and nine hundred and thirty five thousand viewers for its fifth and sixth episodes. Eurovision: You Decide was watched by seven hundred and forty six thousand, whilst The Prosecutors: Real Crime & Punishment was seen by six hundred and eighteen thousand and The Joy Of ABBA by four hundred and seventy seven thousand. Lulu: Something To Shout About had four hundred and sixty seven thousand, Grand Tours Of Scotland attracted four hundred and fifty six thousand and The Renaissance Unchained drew four hundred and fifty four thousand. Sky 1's most watched dramas were Stan Lee's Lucky Man (1.23m) and Hawaii 5-0 (1.13 million viewers). Limitless drew eight hundred and forty two thousand. Sky Atlantic's weekly list was topped by Blue Bloods (three hundred and fifty seven thousand) and One Hundred Code (one hundred and ninety six thousand). The much-trailed Vinyl was seen by eighty five thousand. On Sky Living, The Blacklist was watched by seven hundred and thirty six thousand and Elementary by seven hundred and twenty three thousand, followed by Bones (seven hundred and twenty two thousand). Sky Arts' Occupied had one hundred and three thousand and Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison: The Making Of A Masterpiece forty three thousand. The Music Of Buddy Holly & The Crickets drew forty thousand. 5USA's broadcast Castle was watched by five hundred and thirty seven thousand viewers and Law & Order by three hundred and sixty nine thousand. NCIS drew three hundred and fifty thousand. NCIS also featured in the weekly top tens of FOX - the latest episode of series thirteen attracting nine hundred and ten thousand punters - CBS Action and the Universal Channel. On the latter, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit drew an audience of two hundred and forty nine thousand. Aside, from NCIS, FOX's top ten also included new episodes of The Walking Dead (1.57m) and Marvel's Agent Carter (four hundred and twenty nine thousand viewers). On CBS Action, Bad Girls was seen by one hundred and twenty thousand. On Dave, Suits was the highest-rated programme with four hundred and seventy thousand punters. That was followed by Alan Davies: As Yet Unfunny (three hundred and sixty four thousand), Have I Got A Bit More News For You (three hundred and forty three thousand), Not Going Out (three hundred and twenty three thousand), Qi XL (three hundred and six thousand) and Top Gear (two hundred and eighty two thousand). Drama's The Inspector Lynley Mysteries was watched by six hundred and forty nine thousand and Hetty Wainthorpe Investigates by four hundred and nineteen thousand. Inspector George Gently had four hundred and thirteen thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programme was Castle (three hundred and seventy nine thousand), followed by Murdoch Mysteries (two hundred and thirty seven thousand), The Closer (ninety three thousand) and The Doctor Blake mysteries (eighty eight thousand). In the second week after its rebranding, on W - the channel formerly known as Watch - Grimm was seen by five hundred and fifty three thousand. Yesterday's David Starkey's Monarchy: The Windsors had an audience of one hundred and ninety eight thousand viewers whilst Coast was seen by one hundred and eighty eight thousand and Medieval Dead by one hundred and eighty three thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Gold Rush was watched by five hundred and twenty nine thousand punters. Fast N' Loud had two hundred and fifty nine thousand and Mythbusters was seen by one hundred and seventy two thousand. On Discovery History, Greatest Tank Battles topped the weekly-list with audience of twenty two thousand viewers. On Discovery Science, How Do They Do It? was seen by thirty six thousand viewers. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programmes were Cuban Chrome (forty four thousand) and Wheeler Dealers (forty one thousand). National Geographic's top ten was headed by Air Crash Investigations which had one hundred and forty two thousand viewers and Supercar (sixty two thousand). The Curse Of Oak Island was seen by two hundred and thirteen thousand viewers on The History Channel. Evil Lives Here and Forbidden: Dying For Love were ID's top programmes of the week (eighty thousand and fifty three thousand viewers respectively). Britain's Darkest Taboos topped CI's top ten (ninety eight thousand). GOLD's top ten was headed by the wretched, unfunny Gavin & Stacey (one hundred and thirty nine thousand). Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (five hundred and twenty thousand). On ITV Encore, Vera was watched by ninety eight thousand viewers. Your TV's Crime Files: The Homefront had sixty eight thousand viewers. On More4, The Good Wife was watched by seven hundred and twenty eight thousand. The Horror Channel's broadcast of The Seasoning House, attracted one hundred and thirty thousand viewers whilst The Human Centipede II drew one hundred and sixteen thousand sick bastards. The Saddle Club was watched by sixteen thousand on the Horse & Country Channel.

BBC iPlayer had three hundred and fifteen million TV and radio request in January, an increase of two per cent month-on-month. Overall, increases were seen across all devices, most notably on mobiles. The increases across devices were mostly driven by radio requests, which increased by fifteen per cent in January compared to December, as people returned to their regular routines after the Christmas break. The one-off episode of Sherlock, The Abominable Bride, was by far the most popular TV title in January, delivering over 2.3 million requests. That's in addition to its consolidated TV audience of 11.64 million punters. Other New Year's Day episodes also proved particularly popular, with EastEnders and Billionaire Boy both also available on BBC iPlayer from that day. iPlayer's exclusive comedy-drama film The Rack Pack made it into the top twenty most requested titles in January, in its first two weeks of availability. It continues to perform strongly with close to one million requests in total, making it the most successful iPlayer original programme to date. Radio comedies I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue and The News Quiz were the top performing episodes on radio in January. Poirot, Test Match Cricket and regular series The Archers also did well.
The 2016 Academy Awards telecast pulled in its smallest US audience in eight years, according to ratings data. Some 34.3 million Americans watched the ceremony - a near-record low - amid the rather contrived 'Hollywood diversity' controversy. Whether that affected the audience numbers or whether people just had other stuff to do remains to be seen.
The X-Factor's gradual audience decline, the loss of the live rights to Champions League football and low audiences for new flop dramas such as Jekyll & Hyde and Beowulf helped drive ITV's main channel to its lowest-ever share of the available viewing audience last year. Although the advertiser-funded broadcaster posted a fifteen per cent increase in revenue to £2.97bn for 2015 on Wednesday, figures revealed that audience share fell by three per cent across all its channels. Its main channel, ITV, suffered its lowest-ever share of audience, down to just fifteen per cent from 15.6 per cent in 2014. ITV has lost a third of its viewers since 2005, the figures sugest. Its share of the total TV audience in 2015 was down from 21.5 per cent in 2005. In the same period, BBC1's audience has also dropped, albeit by less - six per cent. And, while the BBC channel is currently enjoying its highest share of viewers since 2007, ITV's share is at a historic low. Due to the explosion in digital channels and streaming services, share has declined almost every year. The new low for the main ITV channel will undoubtedly be something the new director of television, Kevin Lygo, wants to focus on. Currently the channel is suffering terrible Tuesday night ratings and very disappointing weekend figures. Last week, it scored a Tuesday night peak-time share of 6.5 per cent, compared with Channel Four's 8.7 per cent and BBC1's 23.6 per cent. On Sunday, Channel Four beat ITV across the day for the first time since 2012. Overall, the family of ITV channels has fallen from a twenty two per cent share in 2014 to 21.2 per cent. However, ITV chief executive, Ludicrous Gnome Adam Crozier, was upbeat about 2016 at the broadcaster's results, saying: 'While our family share of viewing was down three per cent for 2015 we have started this year well, with SOV on our main channel up five per cent and ITV Family SOV up two per cent. We have a strong programme slate for 2016, with fifty hours more drama as well as major rugby and football tournaments. ITV uniquely delivers the mass audiences demanded by advertisers. Continuing to deliver this scale and reach, as well as further strengthening our on-screen performance, remains a key focus for the company and particularly for the new creative leadership in the broadcast business.' And, if you look on Goggle for 'glass half-full denial', you'll find that definition very close to the top. With the demise of long-running favourites such as Downton Abbey and Lewis, the broadcaster had tried new dramas Jekyll & Hyde and Beowulf. Both have been fiascos of the largest order, the former axed after one series after 'disappointing ratings', the latter likely to join it very soon. And, for clarity, for 'disappointing', read 'catastrophic.' The channel has high hopes for new shows such as Lord Snooty's adaptation of Anthony Trollope's Doctor Thorne, which started on Sunday and the forthcoming Maigret series, starring Rowan Atkinson. Then again, it had high hopes for Jekyll & Hyde and BeowulfThe X Factor's performance has been a major concern. In November it drew its smallest average audience since its first ever episode in 2004 – an average of 5.6 million – and was sent into a ratings spin when it clashed with the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. Changes are reportedly being made to the Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads-fronted talent show for the next series, including an attempt to woo back its former host, Dermot O'Dreary. Negotiations are going on for a three-series deal for both The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, with ITV arguably having more of an upper hand this time due to The X Factor's lower ratings. The broadcaster's position has been strengthened further since the last three-year deal, for fifty million smackers a year, in 2013, as the previously impregnable Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads has yet to come up with any new hits. Previous attempts, the risible Red Or Black? and the piss-poor cookery show, Food Glorious Food, both spectacularly failed to take off.
Two years after their last investigation, Manchester detectives Janet Scott (Lesley Sharp) and Rachel Bailey (Suranne Jones) are back on the beat for new cases in he forthcoming series of Scott & Bailey. The new series features one single crime investigation over a three-part episode - promising to be the most challenging case of the duo's careers. ITV have unveiled a trailer for the series this week.
The X-Files is set to be broadcast from the very beginning in the UK this month. Spike will show every episode from the FO series' 1993 pilot onwards from 14 March, following the recent revival season. The channel will play episodes every week night - so, if you're new to the world of Mulder and Scully and you want to catch-up, it might be an idea to hold back if you were thinking of buying the box-sets.
HBO are doing everything possible to prevent any kind of Game Of Thrones leaks making their way to the public before season six premieres next month - including, reportedly, banning press screenings of episodes in advance - but it looks like one of the series' latest recruits might not have got the memo. Yer actual Ian McShane has already revealed that his character will be 'bringing somebody back' in the new series, but his latest hint goes into a bit more detail. Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Thursday, McShane said that he was not allowed to talk about the show. He then went and ... talked about the show, dropping hints about his character's arc. 'I can give you one hint,' he hinted. 'My character is an ex-warrior who's become a peacenik. I bring back a much-loved character everybody thinks is dead.' Yeah, that's, pretty much, 'talking about the show,' Ian, mate!
ITV appears to be really pushing its new drama series Houdini & Doyle - launching the show on two channels at once.​ The series première will be broadcast on Sunday 13 March 13 on both ITV and ITV Encore. ​Houdini & Doyle​ will then be exclusive to ITV Encore from 17 March, being shown on Thursday nights at 9pm. The ten-episode series is a co-production between ITV and FOX in the US - with Shaw Media in Canada​. Houdini & Doyle​ ​is based on the occasionally fractious but seemingly genuine real-life friendship between Sherlock Holmes creator Doyle (Stephen Mangan) and the illusionist Harry Houdini (Michael Weston) and will follow the pair as they 'investigate strange happenings' and malarkey like that.
Keeley Hawes has been speaking about her starring role in ITV's forthcoming drama The Durrells. Based upon Gerald Durrell's trilogy of Corfu memoirs - including the most famous, My Family & Other Animals - the six-part series will be shown next month. Hawes plays Louisa Durrell, a widow with four children in 1930s Bournemouth, who decides to uproot and move her family to the sun-drenched Greek island. Speaking at a preview screening of the first episode on Friday, Hawes said: 'I often think what a massive undertaking it actually was for Louisa. Everything about what she did is quite extraordinary, particularly being a mother on her own in the 1930s. There was no EasyJet, nothing to make her life any smoother going into this huge journey and taking four children and a dog and all their worldly possessions across the world. It’s a massive undertaking and so brave and I'm in awe that she did that.' Asked - by some clunk of no importance - about the 'mild swearing' that appears in the series, written by Men Behaving Badly's Simon Nye, Hawes said it meant the drama wouldn't appear 'saccharine. It's not something that would make me turn over if my children were watching.' And, 'if you don't like use your sodding remote control,' she continued. Probably.
Former Pink Floyd singer and bass player Roger Waters is reported to be working with the Montreal Opera Company on turning the concept LP The Wall into an opera. Bet that'll be a bundle of laughs.

And now, dear blog reader ...
A review commissioned by the government has found that the British public do not want to see the BBC cut 'in size or scope.' No shit, Sherlock? And, in other news, apparently, the Pope is Catholic. Who'd've thought? Over one hundred thousand people - including this blogger, needless to say - responded to the consultation on the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's plans to reform the BBC, the Independent reports. The majority of responses suggested that 'the BBC has been doing enough to deliver value for money, although many responses also said that the BBC must continue to improve in this area.' Only two per cent of respondents said that the BBC's basic purpose and values should be changed, ​while eighty one per cent believed the BBC serves its audience well and would like it to continue to do so without any interference from politicians, other broadcasters or other parts of the media with a sick agenda smeared all over the ugly, disgusting faces. Six per cent of those involved in the survey said that they 'would be happy if the BBC set out to do less but do it better than any other media provider".' ​The results of the survey will, allegedly, be 'taken into account' when the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale publishes his White Paper on Charter Renewal and the future of the BBC in May.​ The BBC Trust released a statement, saying: 'Once again the public have spoken loud and clear. As they also told the Trust last year, the public values the BBC for its high quality distinctive programming, they don't want to see it diminished and they want it to retain its independence and funding through the licence fee. It's very important that the government takes full account of this evidence when it decides the BBC's future later this year.' Or, in other words, 'we told you so.' The BBC Trust conducted a public consultation from July to September last year and also engaged in independent audience research, with its findings showing that the vast majority of people who expressed a preference support a tweaked version of the licence fee and the BBC being left alone to get on with doing what it does best.
The lack of culture secretary has vowed to end the iPlayer 'loophole' soon, so those watching catch-up TV do not get 'a free ride.' The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said that the licence fee would be extended so it no longer simply applied to live television viewers. He told the Oxford Media Convention that he would bring forward the legislation 'as soon as practicable', later adding that it could be in this current parliamentary session. The BBC said it was 'happy to have reached an agreement' on the issue. Only UK TV licence holders can use the iPlayer to watch BBC programmes as they are broadcast live, but currently those without a licence can view the shows at a later date. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said: 'When the licence fee was invented, video on demand did not exist. And while the definition of television in the legislation covers live streaming, it does not require viewers to have a licence if they watch BBC programmes through the iPlayer even if it is just a few minutes after transmission. The BBC works on the basis that all who watch it pay for it. Giving a free ride to those who enjoy Sherlock or Bake Off an hour, a day or a week after they are broadcast was never intended and is wrong.' An agreement was reached between the government and the BBC last July that the government would update licence fee legislation, as part of back-door negotiations which saw the corporation lumbered with the cost of providing free licences for over-seventy fives. In his keynote speech, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said: 'Having discussed this with the BBC and the BBC Trust, I will be bringing forward, as soon as practicable, secondary legislation which will extend the current TV licensing regime, not only to cover those watching the BBC live but also those watching the BBC on catch-up through the iPlayer.' Speaking later, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said an order would have to be drafted and agreed by Parliament on the licensing change, which he would try to get passed 'as soon as we can.' He added: 'It could be this session if I can get it done and get a slot.' A BBC spokeswoman said: 'We are happy to have reached an agreement with the Secretary of State on how to close the iPlayer loophole. Its swift closure will help give the BBC funding certainty.' The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale also launched a new drive to tackle Internet ad-blocking, claiming that it 'poses a similar threat to websites' that illegal file-sharing did to music and film a decade ago. 'This practice is depriving many websites and platforms of legitimate revenue,' he said. 'It is having an impact across the value chain and it presents a challenge that has to be overcome. Because, quite simply, if people don't pay in some way for content, then that content will eventually no longer exist. And, that's as true for the latest piece of journalism as it is for the new album from Muse.' He pointed to research that showed while people do not dislike online advertising in general, they do not like advertising that 'interrupts what they are doing', such as auto-play adverts and pop-ups. 'If we can avoid the intrusive ads that consumers dislike, then I believe there should be a decrease in the use of ad-blockers,' said the lack of culture secretary. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said he would be meeting 'representatives from all sides of the argument' in the coming weeks to discuss the issue, adding that he did not think ad-blockers should be banned.

The BBC and the government have traded blows over what makes programmes 'distinctive' as the corporation attacked an allegedly 'independent' report on the issue. At the Oxford Media Convention on Wednesday morning, the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale, called for the BBC to 'be more distinctive' in its output and questioned 'whether or not Strictly or Bake Off or other programmes are too removed or absolutely distinctive.' Although, what the fek that issue has to do with him is a question probably well worth asking, particularly given previous statements that the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale has made in which he claimed he wouldn't ever dream to telling the BBC what programmes they should and shouldn't be making. So, those statements would appear to have been lies in that case. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale told the convention that he believed 'distinctiveness' should be 'a key goal' for the BBC, but that it would be up to an 'external regulator' to define how content was judged against it. However, speaking later at the same event, the BBC Trust chairwoman, Rona Fairhead, angrily said that shows such as The Great British Bake Off and the natural history programme The Great Barrier Reef showed the BBC was 'already producing' distinctive popular programming. 'If ever there was proof that public service can be popular yet distinctive, you see it in these shows.' Asked about the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's comments, Fairhead said: 'I know you want to make this a big war but it's not. We both think distinctiveness matters.' Asked whether alleged government 'evidence' on distinctiveness was 'wrong' - which it is - she claimed: 'I don't know what his evidence is.' Don't worry, hen, neither does he. Neither does the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale know his arse from his elbow, for that matter. The debate followed the publication on Tuesday of the 'government-commissioned' (and, therefore, not in the slightest bit 'independent' or anything even remotely like it) report which claimed the rest of the broadcasting industry could gain up to one hundred and fifteen million quid a year in additional revenue if the BBC changed the way it commissioned and scheduled content. Or, in other words, ITV have whinged that they're not making enough coin from advertising and, instead of telling them to try making some programmes that people actually want to watch instead of lowest-common-denominator shite that even the brain-dead turn their nose up at, the government immediately rammed their tongue up ITV's collective shitter for a right good lick. How really very surprising, indeed. However, the BBC's head of policy, James Heath, disputed the claims made in the not-even-slightly 'independent' report, saying that the corporation's most popular channel, BBC1, had become 'more distinctive.' And, even if it hasn't, what the fek has that got to do with ITV, the government or, indeed, the authors of this allegedly 'independent' - but, not independent at all - report? Heath claimed that BBC1 offered a broader range of genres in peak time than ITV, including almost half on news and current affairs compared with thirty per cent on ITV. And that ITV dedicated forty five per cent of its peak hours to 'entertainment', compared with twenty five per cent on the BBC. He also said that arguments the BBC should 'put greater focus on new shows and formats' could mean cutting popular series and, thus, pissing off the viewers of these programmes who are also, of course, voters. Remember that, alleged, comment supposedly made by one member of the cabinet with regard to this very subject: 'Most people prefer telly to the Tories.' In a blog post criticising the proposals, Heath said: 'The O&O report concludes that requiring BBC1 to commit to a wider range and significant number of new titles in its schedule could reduce BBC1's audience share of viewing to below twenty per cent (from twenty two per cent in 2015); and therefore might increase commercial advertising-funded rival income by thirty three million pounds to forty million pounds a year. Let's be clear what such proposals would mean. On a first analysis, this would mean, for instance, cutting a very long list of long-running shows like Silent Witness, Countryfile, The ONE Show, Casualty, Holby City, MasterChef, Pointless, The Apprentice, Watchdog, Who Do They Think They Are?, Songs Of Praise, Have I Got News For You, The Antiques Roadshow and all their associated shows. Replacing all these shows with new titles, as the report suggests, would be impossible given the seven hundred million pounds savings the BBC has to make over the next few years and which the report makes no reference to.' He continued: 'So the result would be to reduce what all audiences get from the BBC, for a gain to commercial television of around a quarter of one percent of total TV revenues. Taken together with O&O's recommendations for BBC Radio, the net gain would be less than one per cent of total TV and radio industry revenues. We share the ambition of a BBC that should be even more distinctive so that we can build on our strong record, but it's an odd ambition to want fewer people to watch great TV. On the same day as this report was published, the government published the results of their public consultation into the BBC and its Charter. Over eighty per cent of people responding to the government's consultation said the BBC is serving audiences well. Almost three quarters said the BBC's services are distinctive and about two-thirds think it has a positive wider impact on the market.' Rejecting the report, Heath concluded: 'So we don't believe in reconfiguring the BBC to maximise commercial profits rather than asking how can the BBC be improved to best meet audience needs. This report proposes a BBC designed for the convenience of its competitors not the enjoyment of audiences, to the long-term detriment of both.' You go, Jim baby! Well, it's about effing time that somebody in a position of authority at the BBC stood up and showed a bit of sodding backbone against bollocks the likes of this from bullies and twats with an agenda.

Jonathan Creek​ is coming back to the BBC. Alan Davies - as yet unfunny - confirmed to ​the Digital Spy ​website that a new one-off special will be filmed this summer. 'We're doing it in the summer - we're shooting a ninety-minute one-off,' he told DS. 'It's twenty years since the first series. It's unbelievable. I'll try and drop a few pounds so I'm not fat Creek.' Davies revealed that Sarah Alexander will also be back for the special as Jonathan's wife, Polly. ​Jonathan Creek - which used to be really rather good - started on BBC1 in 1997, with Caroline Quentin, Julia Sawalha and Sheridan Smith all previously appearing alongside Davies. 'It's a tribute to David Renwick,' Davies said of the show's longevity. 'He obeys all the classic rules of classic television and employs them to his benefit - so the show is perfect television.' The last series of ​Creek ​- a three-episode run which, sadly, was somewhat disappointing - was shown in early 2014.
Fans of Star Wars: The Force Awakens -and, this blogger was one of them - will soon be able to watch the SF saga from the comfort of their own homes. The film, which grossed more than two billion dollars internationally, is being released on DVD and Blu-ray on 5 April in the US and 18 April in the UK. A 3D version will come out later in the year. As well as the film itself, there will be bonus features including deleted scenes, interviews and footage from the making of The Force Awakens.
Canadian actress Neve Campbell has joined the cast of House Of Cards. The forty two-year-old plays lawyer Leann Harvey in the Netflix political dram,the fourth series of which went online for subscribers this week. Neve told BBC's Newsbeat that her character 'is a strong, successful woman in her own right who is invited to help someone in their campaign this season. I'm not even allowed to say who.'

Matthew Perry has said his former Friends co-star Matt LeBlanc is 'going to be great' in his new role as a Top Gear co-host. 'It's a very exciting job for him because he loves cars,' Matthew told Alan Carr. 'He must be thrilled. I haven't spoken to him since he booked the gig but he is going to be great.' Matthew hailed LeBlanc as 'one of the nicest, funniest guys in the world.' It's nice to know that Joey and Chandler were friends off-screen as well as on, isn't it?
It was voted one of the best TV moment of 2015 but Aidan Turner's topless scything in Poldark failed to cut it with the Royal Television Society which ignored the popular BBC1 drama in the nominations for its 2016 awards. Another surprise was Wolf Hall's Mark Rylance, who won an Oscar this week for his role in Steven Spielberg's Bridge Of Spies but failed to earn a nomination for the acclaimed BBC2 drama in the nominations announced on Thursday. Wolf Hall was nominated twice - for best drama serial and another of its stars, Claire Foy, for best female actor. But there was nothing for Poldark, one of the most talked about dramas of last year. SF drama Humans (which was very good) and Paul Abbott's No Offence (which wasn't), both on Channel Four, will compete with BBC2's The Last Kingdom (which, to be honest, this blogger can barely even remember, such was its impact on him) for best drama series. Wolf Hall will go head-to-head with ITV's The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jefferies - which was actually broadcast in 2014! - and Channel Four's This Is England '90 for best drama serial. Foy will do battle against Suranne Jones, star of BBC1's Doctor Foster and Claire Rushbrook from ITV's Home Fires in the female actor category. Two giants of stage and screen will compete for the male actor prize - Anthony Hopkins for his role in BBC2's The Dresser and Tom Courtenay, star of ITV's Unforgotten. They are joined by Adam Long from BBC3's Don't Take My Baby. There was a hat-trick of nominations for Peter Kay's BBC comedy, Car Share, which premièred on the BBC's iPlayer before being shown on BBC1. Channel Four had by far the most nominations with twenty three, with a further three for E4 and another for Welsh language channel, S4C. ITV had eleven, ahead of BBC1 with eight (eleven if Car Share is included). BBC2 had nine nominations, with BBC3 five and three for BBC4. Sky had a total of five nominations. Awards chair Alex Mahon said that the make-up of the juries which decided the nominations had been made 'more diverse' with more women and black, Asian and minority ethnic representatives to better reflect audiences. 'I am delighted as the new chairman to share the news that we have substantially changed the make-up of the judging chairs and the juries to a pattern that I feel is now more representative of Britain and of our viewers,' said Mahon. 'This year, of the two hundred or so jurors, we moved to fifty two per cent female and twenty seven per cent BAME. Talking to the chairs it was clear that the tone of the conversations in the jury rooms changed for the better too. Making this change was relatively simple because the high quality talent we need was easy to find and in plentiful supply.'

Yer man Jezza Clarkson will be hoping that his new - as yet unnamed - motoring show isn't going to be a car crash. And, to be honest, it's very unlikely to be. On Friday, the former Top Gear host tweeted a picture of an alleged 'accident' during filming in Barbados for his new Amazon Prime series. Jezza shared the photograph of a vehicle's mangled wreckage with his six million Twitter followers. Jeremy, Richard Hammond and James May have been filming on the Caribbean island for more than a week. The trio have been regularly tweeting pictures during their stay ahead of the debut of the highly anticipated series.
Rula Lenska crashed her car with her three-year-old grandson in the back, after drinking vodka with Polish builders to toast the completion of her fence, a court has heard. The sixty eight-year-old former actress admitted to driving with forty seven micrograms of alcohol per one hundred millilitres of breath and striking a parked car in Twickenham on 22 February. The legal limit is thirty five micrograms. Lenska's young grandson was inside her Kia when it rolled onto its side after she became distracted by emergency lights on her dashboard in Hospital Bridge Road. Witnesses said that they heard 'a loud bang' and, after assisting Lenska and her grandson, told police they had smelled alcohol on her breath. Seema Parikh, defending Lenska, told Wimbledon Magistrates' Court that the incident has 'haunted her every day since.' She said that the actress had been riddled with guilt since the incident which saw her endanger the life of her 'darling grandson.' Parikh explained that the actress had been too 'traumatised' by the event to answer questions in police interview, but had given a prepared statement.

The CBS Charmed reboot is still reported to be be in development, but it definitely won't be featuring any of the original cast. With a series of tweets sent out on Saturday, Alyssa Milano made it clear where she and her Charmed co-stars Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs and Rose MacGowan stood when it came to the reboot and a possible reunion. 'Charmed fans,' she wrote. 'Nothing has been confirmed. CBS is developing a reboot without the original cast. That's all I know for sure. With all the reunion shows it seems like Charmed would be a great choice since we have the most loyal and best fans ever. But I would imagine until CBS makes a decision on their reboot a true reunion type of show will not be happening due to CBS owning the rights.' The Charmed reboot was first mooted in 2013, causing Doherty - who, of course, famously left the series in right stoppy huff after three years - to tell the Digital Spy website that it 'wouldn't have the same magic.'
And, speaking of mostly-unemployed early 2000s TV icons, Sarah Michelle Gellar has recently confirmed that she will be appearing in the forthcoming Cruel Intentions TV series. Let's hope that this one is a hit and lasts a bit longer than just about every other acting job Sarah has had since Buffy ended.
Sir John Hurt is to return to the London stage in a new production of John Osborne's The Entertainer. John will play the part of Billy Rice opposite Sir Kenneth Branagh playing his son Archie Rice, in the play which runs at the Garrick from 20 August to 12 November. The performance will be broadcast live to cinemas worldwide, on a date to be announced. Sir John said that he was 'delighted' to be back on the stage: 'I am thrilled to be invited to play Billy Rice in this production of what I believe to be one of the great plays of the Twentieth Century. This has been a wonderfully successful season for Ken Branagh and his company, and I feel proud and privileged to be joining them.'
Meanwhile Catherine Tate opens next week in a new musical, Miss Atomic Bomb. Kat plays Myrna Ranapapadophilou in the new production set in Las Vegas in 1952, where 'every mushroom cloud has a silver lining' and 'fallout is your friend.' The musical runs from 7 March to 9 April at London's St James Theatre.
The ex-footballer Adam Johnson is facing a load of jail after being found very guilty of sexual activity with a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl. The former England right-winger was extremely convicted of 'digitally penetrating' the teenager although he was cleared of another count in which the girl was alleged to have performed a sexual act on him. He had previously admitted to grooming the girl and to one charge of sexual activity but had denied the two more serious counts. The judge, Jonathan Rose, told Johnson that a 'significant' custodial sentence was 'an almost inevitable outcome' when he is sentenced in two to three weeks and that Johnson should probably start preparing himself for a lengthy stretch of porridge banged up at Her Majesty's. Johnson was portrayed in court as the epitome of the top-flight footballer stereotype - an arrogant, spoiled and philandering self-absorbed brat. Johnson's own QC told the jurors that they 'may well agree' with the prosecution's portrayal of his client as 'immature, arrogant, promiscuous' and that 'the only time he had to fend for himself was on the football field cheered on by thousands of adoring fans.' Talk of his sixty grand-a-week wage packet, luxury cars with personalised plates and his £1.8 million, six-bedroom 'mansion' only added to this image. Unreported until after the trial had ended, Johnson was actually scolded by the judge during the trial for 'discourteous behaviour' after he was seen joking with a security guard who sat next to him in the dock. At the end of the second week of his trial, he was overheard saying to a friend: 'I hope this is finished by Friday. It's a bit boring now.' But it was the 'promiscuous' part of this characterisation which ultimately led to Johnson's downfall. Kate Blackwell QC, prosecuting, told the jury: 'He cheated on his girlfriend and lied and manipulated her in a way which demonstrates his exceptional duplicity.' Johnson met the fifteen year old girl on 30 January 2015 after agreeing to sign football shirts for her, the court heard. The player admitted to kissing the teenager but told the jury that the encounter in his Range Rover 'went no further.' Johnson later sent a text message to the girl telling her that he had 'wanted to get her jeans off' and wished to 'go in the back' of his car next time they met. The girl told the court that Johnson 'put his hands down her pants' and she performed an oral sex act on him. Johnson exchanged 'hundreds' of social media messages with the girl all of which he encouraged her to delete, Bradford Crown Court heard. Unfortunately for him, she didn't. Johnson's denial of the charge meant that the young victim was put through two gruelling days of cross-examination in the witness box last month, during which she regularly broke down in tears. Johnson was found not guilty on the charge relating to the oral sex claim but very guilty - by a majority verdict of ten to two - on the charge of 'sexual touching.' The jury had deliberated for two days following a three-week trial. Johnson was extremely sacked by Sunderland after admitting on the first day of his trial that he had kissed the girl.

Meanwhile, Sunderland Football Club is being pressed to explain when, exactly, it knew the full extent of convicted sex-offender Johnson's sordid and illegal sexual activity with the fifteen-year-old fan. The club should explain why Johnson was allowed to continue playing after he was charged, a women's charity has said. At a press conference, The Mackems manager Big Fat Sam Allardyce, claimed that he was 'shocked' by the whole malarkey and that Johnson had 'let everybody down. My position was just what I'd heard from Adam,' Allardyce told the media on Thursday. 'But, him changing his plea was a shock, while with the end verdict you can have nothing but sympathy for the victim.' In a previous statement, the club said claimed it had not known Johnson had planned to plead extremely guilty and that, if they had, he would have been sacked immediately. However, during the trial, the jury was told that, before the case came to court, 'club bosses' had seen all of the eight hundred and thirty four Internet messages the pair had exchanged, along with transcripts of Johnson's police interviews. Clare Phillipson, director of the charity Wearside Women In Need, said that by allowing Johnson to continue playing The Mackems had made 'tens of thousands of fans and lots of other people' think he was 'probably innocent', thus leaving the teenager 'vilified and not believed. They have given a statement but I think there are questions that are just not answered in that statement, around what Johnson said in court, about what they knew and when. We need to consider the impact on this child of somebody, week after week, being cheered and supported while, at the same time, on social media she was being vilified by thousands of complete strangers to her.' The club has been approached for clarification on who knew what, when, and why it lifted Johnson's suspension by a wide cross-section of the media but, to date, it has made no response. Phillipson said that Johnson had 'access' to the girl, a Sunderland fan, as 'a direct result' of working for the club and of her 'idolising him as a high profile player of her club.' It was not a case of when the club knew he was going to plead guilty, she added, but when it knew he had met the girl, exchanged messages with her and been alone with her in a car. Johnson was suspended upon his arrest but this was lifted - with, some might consider, indecent haste - two weeks later after the football club took legal advice and carried out 'a safeguarding assessment', Sunderland's statement said. Claims that the club was involved in 'tactical discussions about his plea' to allow him to continue to play were 'utterly without foundation' and 'refuted in the strongest possible terms', the Premier League club claimed.

The Rolling Stones (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s, you might've heard of them) have announced that they are to give a free concert in Cuba later this month. A band spokesman said the show, in Havana on 25 March, was 'the first open-air concert in Cuba by a British rock band.' The Stones are currently on a Latin American tour due to end on 17 March in Mexico City. The Havana gig will come three days after an historic visit to Cuba by US President Barack Obama. In a statement, The Rolling Stones said: 'We have performed in many special places during our long career, but this show in Havana is going to be a landmark event for us and, we hope, for all our friends in Cuba too.' Rock music was somewhat marginalised in Cuba for political reasons after the Cuban revolution in the 1950s which saw Fidel Castro come to power. In 2001, The Manic Street Preachers became the biggest British rock band to play in the country, putting on a show at Havana's Karl Marx Theatre which was attended by the Cuban president. Who was, reportedly, incandescent with rage that they didn't play 'Motorcycle Emptiness'. Allegedly. The Stones' America Latina Ole tour also includes shows in Brazil, Peru and Colombia.
Holly Willoughby 'nearly mooned the Prime Minister' in 'a wardrobe malfunction' which, allegedly, left 'her bum out' according to some louse of no importance at the Daily Lies. Something of an opportunity missed, one could suggest.
Students are reported to be demanding the reinstatement of a South Carolina teacher who resigned after a boy stole a nude picture of her from her phone. Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for Leigh Anne Arthur to be given her job back at Union County High School. The thirty three-year-old was forced to resign last month, days after a student copied a naked photo of her from her device when she left the room briefly. The boy spread the image, which Arthur says was a Valentine's Day snap for her husband, through text messages and on social media. No disciplinary action has been taken against the student, which some might find to be a ludicrous reversal of natural justice - and something which, in countries where so-called 'revenge porn' laws exist, would've seen this joker's ass thrown in jail. Arthur, an engineering teacher, said that she had left her mobile phone on her desk on 18 February as she monitored a hallway. A sixteen-year-old boy took the handset, she said, and used his own phone to take pictures of nude images of Arthur on her device. Arthur said at the end of the class, the student warned her: 'Your day of reckoning is coming.' But David Eubanks, interim superintendent of Union County schools, claimed that Arthur should not have left her phone unlocked. He said he is 'not sure' if the student involved will be disciplined or not. Arthur has said that she forgives the boy - which proves she's a lot more classy than most people who would've gladly kicked the miscreant in the knackers, hard, for his naughty snooping ways - but believes he should be 'held responsible' for his actions. 'We all make stupid decisions when we're sixteen,' she told WYFF-TV. 'He had the ultimate decision to take pictures of my pictures and he had the ultimate decision to send them out.' More than eight thousand people had reportedly signed an online petition in support of Arthur as of Thursday afternoon. 'Leigh Anne Arthur is the victim of a blatant attack of her privacy,' it says.
Coronation Street creator and writer Tony Warren has died at the age of seventy nine. Tony, who created the show for Granada Television when he was just twenty three, wrote episodes for Corrie until the late 1970s. Coronation Street executive producer Kieran Roberts said that Warren, who died on Tuesday after a short illness, was 'a pioneer, a revolutionary, a true genius [and] a giant of British television.' William Roache said that Tony would be 'desperately missed.' He described the writer, who continued to visit the soap's set in Trafford until recently, as 'the father' of the soap. 'When I first met Tony, I couldn't quite believe he'd created and written Coronation Street, because he was no more than a young boy,' Roache said. He added that the writer had 'a boyish energy' which never left him: 'I loved Tony's energy. He was the father of Coronation Street and he gave us all so much.' Born Anthony McVay Simpson in Salford, in 1937, Tony took the stage name of Warren during his career as a child actor. He trained at Liverpool's Elliott Clarke Theatre School and was a regular on the BBC radio show Children's Hour, before acting in radio plays alongside some of the actresses who would become household names because of Coronation Street, including Violet Carson and Doris Speed. In his memoirs, Over The Airwaves, Children's Hour producer, Trevor Hill, explained how Tony was a very excitable young teenager at rehearsals, so much so that on one occasion Violet Carson warned 'If that boy doesn't shut up, I'll smack his bottom!' Warren acted on stage and in several early ITV Play Of The Week dramas. According to the BBC producer Olive Shapley, who had worked with Warren on Children's Hour, the idea for Florizel Street (later changed to Coronation Street) came to him late one night in 1959 while they were returning to Manchester by train. Shapley recalled: 'At about Crewe, after a long period of silence, Tony suddenly woke me up saying, "Olive, I've got this wonderful idea for a television series. I can see a little back street in Salford, with a pub at one end and a shop at the other and all the lives of the people there, just ordinary things." I looked at him blearily and said "Tony, how boring! Go back to sleep." Tony has never let me forget my error of judgement.' In 1960, whilst Tony was working on Granada's Biggles series, Harry Elton commissioned a script from Tony for a drama about 'a street out there.' Tony wrote all thirteen episodes of Coronation Street that ITV initially decided to broadcast from December 1960. When the show - quickly - became a massive success, Tony continued to write regular scripts until 1968, after which he moved into other fields (although he still wrote, sporadically, for the series until the late-1970s). In 1965 he wrote the story for the Gerry & The Pacemakers movie Ferry Across The Mersey. He also wrote for Mrs Thursday and The War Of Darkie Pilbeam. The writer was made an MBE in 1994 for his services to television drama and remained a consultant on the soap until his death, with his creator credit appearing at the start of the closing credits of every episode. Tony made a cameo in the fiftieth anniversary episode of Coronation Street in December 2010. A drama based on his life and the creation of the show, The Road To Coronation Street, was broadcast on BBC4 in 2010. In 2007, Tony spoke to the Manchester Evening News about the prejudice he faced as a gay man before decriminalisation in 1967. He said that while 'a lot of creative people at Granada didn't care' about his sexuality, he did face a lot of homophobic remarks from some staff. Describing how he confronted the abuse with the statement 'you call my brothers, you call me', he said that he 'didn't know I felt so strongly until that moment, and from then on I never pretended to another soul that I was anything other than what I am.' Receiving an award in Salford in November last year, Tony joked that he had been 'haunted' by his Coronation Street characters for fifty years. He said the one that haunted him the most was Ena Sharples, adding he was 'left wondering just what Ena would have made of this [award]. She'd say, "Oh yes, very nice. One more ornament to dust. Not much dusting done in your house anyway!" It puts me in mind of one thing and one thing only. I bet it's not occurred to you but it's occurred to me. This could be the last monument you see before the actual gravestone.' An ITV spokesman said the 'legendary creator and acclaimed writer' died on Tuesday night 'surrounded by his loving friends after a short illness.' In the 1990s Tony came back to public attention with a series of critically acclaimed novels, The Lights Of Manchester (1991), Foot Of The Rainbow (1993), Behind Closed Doors (1995) and Full Steam Ahead (1998). Paul Abbott's superb article on Warren for the Gruniad, His Corrie was like Under Milk Wood with fishwives is well worth a few moments of your time.

There have been spectacular displays of the Aurora Borealis across parts of the UK overnight on Sunday. The colourful phenomenon was visible in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but was also spotted as far south as Anglesey and Oxfordshire. Aurora Borealis occurs when electrically-charged particles from the Sun enter the Earth's atmosphere. Forecasters had predicted a solar storm and good conditions for Aurora Borealis, and sightings of green, pink, purple, red and yellow lights were reported for several hours from about 8pm.
Okay, dear blog reader, do you want to see BBC Sport's Chris Mitchell getting hit on the head with a football - geet hard - whilst live on-air? Your wish is this blogger's command.
A man wanted on suspected credit card fraud charges has been arrested by police officers after being pulled over driving a pink child's Power Wheels car. David Schumaker was behind the wheel of the electric toy on the side of a road in San Jacinto County, Texas, when Deputy Nathan Deweese pulled him over. 'Yes, that story is perfectly true,' a police spokesperson confirmed. 'We were just as surprised when the report turned out to be spot on. Someone who was passing took the picture, and it has caused a lot of amusement.'
Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch has been transformed into a chocolate bunny just in time for Easter. The unusual creation by Brighton-based chocolatier Jen Lindsey-Clark, will cost chocoholics or Sherlock fans fifty smackers. Benny's head has a pair of large bunny ears sprouting from the top. His body has been replaced by that of a rabbit wearing a bow tie. Not in real-life, obviously. Cos that would be news.
A 'burger enthusiast' - which, I think is another name for ... something - from Muswell Hill has officially changed his name to 'Bacon Double Cheeseburger' by deed poll. As President Barlet asks in an episode of The West Wing, 'tell me, these people don't vote, do they?' Formerly Simon Smith - without, presumably, his amazing dancing bear - the thirty three-year-old decided he fancied a change and his usual Burger King order was the first thing that popped his head. 'A name is the least important part of your personality,' Bacon Double Cheeseburger told the Sunday People. 'It's given to you by someone else.' While Bacon is, reportedly, happy with his choice, his fiancée Isabella is refusing to become Mrs Double Cheeseburger so plans to keep her own surname after they are married. Instead of doing what any sensible woman would have in the circumstances and dumping him. Bacon Double Cheeseburger is just one of the eighty five thousand Britons who legally changed their names in 2015. Other odd highlights included a married couple who changed their last names to 'Amazing' and one woman who decided she wanted to be known as The Wacky Races character Penelope Pitstop. Others used the UK Deed Poll Service to take on the identities of their favourite athletes, such as Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney and some just decided to go for something a bit different - like George Thomas The Tank Engine or Michael Connor Lightning Akimbo Wumbo Wigglesworth Pussyfoot Katzenjammer. Louise Bowers, of the UK Deed Poll Service, said: 'One man changed his name to Happy Birthday. It gave us a chuckle but if that is what they want to do, it's their choice. Some people simply don't like their original name - we've changed Cock to Cox and Smellie to Smiley.'
Tree surgeon Chris Bishop has spent three years growing out a tree in his garden for 'a very special project.' But, by all accounts, his neighbours are less than pleased. Chris, of Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, has pruned the twenty five-year-old Cypress tree in his front garden to look like an eighteen foot penis. He told Caters: 'No-one's commented when I've been out in the garden, people have just looked at it and walked past. I think it's because they're trying to work out whether it's just their dirty minds.' No mate, it's because it looks like a giant cock. Next ...
A council - with, seemingly, nothing more important to do with their time or with taxpayers money - has started fining people who swear in the streets. People could get an on the spot fine in Salford Quays after a Public Space Protection Order was put in place. It's not clear which words 'foul and abusive' words are banned by the order brought in by Salford council. Some have questioned whether the move breaches freedom of expression while others wonder how the comedian Mark Thomas will be able to do his set if he's not allowed to throw in the odd 'fuck', 'shit' or 'Piers Morgan'. Campaign group Liberty responded to the news with a statement that sounds more like a Gruniad Morning Star think-piece than a piece of righteous moral outrage. Rosie Brighouse said: 'Does the language have to be both foul and abusive to breach the PSPO, or is its purpose to ban both language that is foul but not abusive and language that is abusive but not foul?' The council weaselled that the order was brought in last August after 'complaints from residents about anti-social behaviour.'
Residents of the Siberian city of Barnaul have nominated Barsik the cat for mayor in an unofficial poll, in protest over alleged corruption among local officials. Of the six - human - candidates and one cat, the feline won 91.2 per cent of the five thousand four hundred votes cast. Regional officials among Russia's opposition parties approved of the cat - one politician said that his candidacy is an effective protest about how regional politics is run, according to online newspaper The poll was started by the group Altai Online on Russian social media platform VKontakte. The group also uploaded a video of the first 'interview' with Barsik. They have also launched a crowd-funding campaign to to buy a billboard in the city centre depicting the candidate with the slogan: 'Only mice don't vote for Barsik!'
You could say it was future alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon's 'first album.' If you're a glake, that is. The Be-Atle formed a keen interest in stamp collecting as a child, after a cousin gave him a partially-completed collectors book. Lennon erased his cousin's name and address on the cover, replacing them with his own and collected and traded stamps into his early teens until he realised that, if you like, philately wasn't going to get him anywhere. What? Anyway, the budding musician (and wife-beater) also made sketches in the margins and drew beards and moustaches on pictures of Queen Victoria and King George VI. The scallywag. If you're in New York between 28 May and 4 June - that'll be nice - you'll be able to see the album at the World Stamp Show. And if you can't make it to the US, you can have a gander at some of the pages on the National Postal Museum's website.
The third in From The North's new semi-regular series, 'Cool Motors Belonging To TV Characters (and Pop Stars)'. Number three: George Harrison's E-Type Jag. Well tasty.
And, for the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, something a bit throwaway from that particularly E-Type's owner.

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