Sunday, May 08, 2016

... And, Another Thing

In what they describe as 'an exclusive', Radio Times has suggested that Doctor Who 'could be' scripted by 'an American-style "writers room" for the first time' when yer actual Chris Chibnall takes over the reins of the show, for series eleven, in 2018. The Chib has, Radio Times claims, 'been discussing numerous ideas about how the show will be scripted.' And, whilst The Chib remains 'committed' to writing episodes on his own, he is 'understood' to 'have been examining the possibility of a writers room' for 'some episodes' of the BBC's long-running flagship family SF drama the magazine alleges. The BBC has already met with the Writers' Guild of Great Britain - the union for professional scriptwriters - to 'discuss new approaches to writing the scripts', Radio Times continues. One area which had been discussed was a 'writers room' and the union has indicated that it has 'no particular objections' to such a proposal. 'If it's what the BBC wants and it's what the writers want it then it's fine by us,' said Bernie Corbett, who was General Secretary of the union when the BBC discussed the ideas with his organisation. 'Nobody is against it. Lots of writers would like to try it but you have to get round those practical difficulties. Our job as a Trade Union is not to disrupt things or hold things back if they think it is a good idea.' A BBC spokesperson told the magazine: 'It is still very early days and no fixed model has been decided upon yet. Chris Chibnall as the new showrunner will write his own episodes and is currently exploring different ways of working with new and established writers on the show.' The Broadchurch writer is due to take over showrunning duties on Doctor Who sometime next year and his first series in charge will be broadcast in 2018. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat is due to write this year's Christmas special (and next years) as well as a series which will be shown in the spring of next year. The idea of a Doctor Who writers room has long been suggested. In 2008 the Doctor Who writer and yer actual Keith Telly Topping's old oppo and mucker Paul Cornell, who scripted Human Nature and Family Of Blood for David Tennant's Doctor in 2007, called for the show to be written by 'a group of paid writers.' In an interview with the BBC's Writersroom website Paul said: 'There's all sorts of reasons that doesn't happen in Britain, one of which is that we've produced much shorter runs of things. We have a showrunner and a bunch of freelancers who are doing other things at the same time, who don't clock in and aren't paid a wage but are just paid for their script. Some of that is, I think, down to the old-fashioned Gentlemen and Players thing, that writers are still not quite seen as employees.' Russell Davies introduced the showrunner role to Doctor Who when he produced the rebooted series in 2005 but stopped short of introducing a writers room. Under the system which Big Rusty created, he mapped out the whole series, then divided individual episodes between himself and a pool of writers. There was no formally-organised collaboration although there were regular meetings in Cardiff to discuss tone and to engage in read-throughs of completed scripts. (It was, of course, during train journeys to these meetings from London to Cardiff that The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss his very self first began to formulate their ideas for Sherlock.) This system has largely been maintained by The Moffinator. Corbett, who stepped down from his role heading The Writers' Guild this week after sixteen years to work as finance and business manager, said that the union would be 'looking with interest' at any changes to the way Doctor Who is scripted. He said: 'If there are problems then the writers can come to us and we can take their concerns up with the BBC but we expect there will be a good system in place that will look after their interests.' Corbett added that the introduction of the new system – which is favoured in US network television but is virtually unheard of in the UK – was 'a potentially exciting development.' He added: 'In Britain writers tend to be more individuals and in the US there is a concentration of production talent in LA and New York. Our writers tend to live all over the place in London, in Bristol, Bath and Durham and it may be difficult for them to attend a writers room. But if they can all come together to work on the show then it sounds like a great idea.' However Corbett cautioned that because many UK-based writers are dispersed across the country it could make it difficult to construct a 'workplace writers room' in the UK in the same way they do in the US. He added that British writers 'tend have low incomes' - tell me about it - so it 'would be impossible' for them to relocate to London unless the pay was 'at LA levels. They might not want to and if that happened it would distort the market throughout the UK,' he said. 'Also [writers rooms] are expensive and they tend to have big dollars in the US with long running shows. Doctor Who is, in many ways, a show that is perhaps moving towards that kind of scale as US shows so it seems a good fit. It's not that we don't want to do it in the UK, but it is about scale. Three writers is not a writers room it is a relationship but a writers room is in a sense, though not in a bad way, a factory of writing. It's a big step. If problems arise we will step in. A union has to say that. But a union isn't here to block progress. We're here to deal with new ideas as well as old practices.'

A Sherlock behind-the-camera veteran is returning to direct an episode for the upcoming fourth series. Nick Hurran, who took charge of His Last Vow - the final episode of series three - will direct episode two of the new series, currently in production. According to the CV of assistant director Matthew Hanson, Hurran is listed as the director of the, as yet untitled, episode. As well as Sherlock, Hurran has previously worked on Doctor Who, having directed the fiftieth anniversary special The Day Of The Doctor. And, done a bloody good job on it too in this blogger's opinion. Another regular Doctor Who director, Rachel Talalay, has already been confirmed to direct episode one of Sherlock series four. The third episode's director is yet to be confirmed.
The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat's TV series Jekyll is to be turned into a movie. The 2007 BBC1 series, described as 'a sequel' to Robert Louis Stevenson's famous novella - and which this blogger was an 'uge admirer thereof - starred James Nesbitt as a modern-day descendant of Henry Jekyll. It contained probably the finest performances of yer man Nesbitt's career. A script for the film version has been picked up by Ellen DeGeneres, who will be among the movie's producers.
The acclaimed BBC2 drama Line Of Duty is to switch to BBC1 for two more series after it broke ratings records with more than five million consolidated viewers. The fourth and fifth series of the Jed Mercurio police corruption drama, starring Martin Compston and Vicky McClure, will be broadcast on BBC1 after three series on BBC2. The third series, which also featured Keeley Hawes and Daniel Mays, ended last week with 5.6 million viewers for the final episode. It averaged more than five million viewers across its five-part run, toppling Wolf Hall as BBC2's biggest drama since modern ratings methodology was introduced in 2002. The BBC's controller of TV channels and iPlayer Charlotte Moore said: 'Line Of Duty is original, bold, gripping drama that gets the nation talking and the time is right to bring the series to an even broader audience on BBC1. Jed Mecurio's explosive thriller will find a new home on BBC1 for two more series and create room for new drama to flourish on BBC2. Thanks to Jed, Simon Heath's World Productions and Stephen Wright at the BBC for producing the record-breaking show.' Moore, who took over direct responsibility for BBC2 following the exit of its former controller Kim Shillinglaw, has indicated that there should be more factual programmes on BBC2, which has become best known in recent years for dramas including Wolf Hall, The Fall and Top Of The Lake, as well as Line Of Duty. Line Of Duty attracted an average of 4.1 million viewers for its first series in 2012, dipping to 3.4 million for series two in 2014. It becomes the latest in a long line of successful shows to switch from BBC2 to BBC1 after their audiences outgrew the second channel, including The Great British Bake Off, The Apprentice, MasterChef and Miranda. Comedy panel show Qi has the rare distinctive of switching from BBC2 to BBC1 – and then back again.

London housewife and mum-of-four Jane Devonshire has become the MasterChef 2016 champion. Some exceptional amateur cooks have competed in this year's competition - this blogger was a particular fan of Juanita (who finished fourth) and Annie, as well as the delightful Jane her very self - and on Friday night the fifty-year-old beat fellow finalists Billy Wright and Jack Layer to claim the title with a menu that consisted of variations of winkles on toast, curried lamb and rhubarb and custard. After winning, Jane said: 'I'm so happy. It's one of the best euphoric moments; it's just precious. My dad always says you don't get something for nothing and you've got to work hard for it – I did that and I'm standing here now as the winner.' She added: 'For me as a personal achievement it's definitely up there as the most amazing thing I've ever done.' Gregg Wallace said: 'Jane has had one of the most incredible journeys on MasterChef that I've witnessed. She obviously decided that she wanted to push her food onto the next level, and when she made that decision there's been no stopping her – she's made herself into the most amazing cook, one of the best champions I've ever seen.' Determined not to be underestimated or seen as 'just a mum' - whatever that nonsense description means since homemakers are amongst the hardest working and least rewards members of society - Jane undoubtedly developed more than any contestant in terms of skill throughout the competition, while her classic British cooking retained the heart it began with. Good on ya, Jane.
Linda Henry has reportedly been 'targeted' by vandals who smashed up her car. The EastEnders actress, who plays Shirley Carter in the BBC soap, returned to her BMW on Sunday to find her windscreen vandalised. In the past, Henry has said that 'some' EastEnders fans can be abusive if they confuse her with the character. A Met Police spokeswoman said: 'Police were called on Sunday 1 May regarding criminal damage to a car in SE15. The damage is believed to have taken place between Saturday 30 April and Sunday 1 May. There have been no arrests.' This comes after Henry was found not guilty of racial abuse charges in February 2015. Henry had been accused of telling the person in question: 'Do you know who I am? I'm Shirley,' before using racial slurs outside Jamie's Italian Restaurant in South London. Henry has played the role on EastEnders since 2006.
TV comedy line of the week came, as usual of late, from Friday's Have I Got News For You. Guest host (and national heartthrob) yer actual David Tennant noting: 'This is the story that has turned even non-football experts like myself into experts. Leicester Rovers have won the Premier Division Cup! It's a wonderfully romantic story and, to think, none of it would have happened if their previous manager hadn't left the club after his son was sacked for filming his mates having an orgy with local women in a Bangkok hotel room!'
The comedy writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson are to be honoured with a BAFTA Fellowship at this year's ceremony. The duo, who created Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son, are credited as 'the trailblazers of the situation comedy format.' They were both awarded OBEs in 2000 and will receive their Fellowship at the annual BAFTA television awards on 8 May. Alan Simpson said that the duo were 'extremely delighted' to receive the Fellowship in honour of their sixty year career. 'We always wanted a Fellowship, even though we did not know what a Fellowship was. Not the sort of thing one associates with a couple of Cockney lads, apart from Alfred Hitchcock of course,' he said. Ray Galton added that they were 'happy and honoured' to accept the award 'on behalf of all the Blood Donors, Test Pilots, Radio Hams and Rag & Bone Men of the Twentieth Century, without whom we would probably be out of a job. Thank you all.' Anne Morrison, the Chair of BAFTA, said that it 'comes as no surprise' the duo were being honoured as they had 'created some of the most iconic characters and programmes over the past few decades. Alan and Ray have had such successful careers, spanning over sixty years, with credits such as Steptoe & Son and Hancock's Half-Hour, two hugely popular sitcoms. They are rightly considered the trailblazers of the situation comedy format,' she said. The duo first met while they were both being treated in a tuberculosis sanatorium in 1948 and started writing together for the hospital's radio station. (Galton based the short-lived 1990s sitcom Get Well Soon on their shared experiences at the facility.) They went on to create the template for situation comedy with their popular series Hancock's Half-Hour, which started as a radio show in 1954. It later transferred, with great success, to TV and was broadcast on the BBC from 1956 to 1961. Steptoe & Son, about a father and son rag and bone team, was their biggest TV hit. It ran for twelve years from 1962 to 1974 and, at its peak, reached an audience of twenty eight million viewers. Harold Steptoe and his father, Albert, lived in a squalid home with the comedy and drama centred on Harold's constantly scuppered attempts to improve his lot and escape his father's influence. Galton and Simpson are credited with bringing social realism to British comedy which helped lay the foundations for many modern day classics. They have won a number of awards and, in 2013, had a blue plaque unveiled in their honour at Milford Sanatorium in Guildford where they first met. The writers continued to work solidly after Steptoe & Son, including several projects with Frankie Howerd. After Simpson retired in the late 1970s to pursue business interests, Galton continued to write with a succession of other partners, including Johnny Speight and John Antrobus.

Despite the unusually hot weather which was enjoyed by the UK over the weekend, the TV schedule provided just about enough heavy-hitters - including the usual Saturday night favourites and a star-studded awards ceremony - to entice healthy overnight audiences. To the surprise of no one, Britain's Got Toilets (ITV, 8pm) once again blew away all competitors - this episode featuring an appearance by yer actual Keith Telly Topping's sometime writing partner, Alfie Joey his very self, as part of The Mimic Men comedy duo. An overnight audience of 8.34 million viewers watched. BBC1's big Saturday night hit came from good old reliable Casualty at 8:50pm, which drew 3.91 million punters. Earlier, at 7:05pm, Michael McIntyre's Big Show brought in 3.84 million. The first episode of BBC2's The Hollow Crown: War Of The Roses, the corporation's handsome second series of adaptations of William Shakespeare history plays, pulled in fractionally more than one million overnight viewers. The opening episode, Henry VI Part I, starring Tom Sturridge, Hugh Bonneville and Sophie Okonedo, was shown on BBC2 from 9pm to 10.50pm. The three-part series, which will also include yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch in Richard III, was popular enough to beat Ridley Scott's Prometheus, the prequel to the hit Alien franchise. The movie was broadcast on Channel Four from 9pm to 11.25pm, attracted an average audience of nine hundred and fifty thousand. Sunday's offerings, a line-up of popular drama and traditional favourites, saw both BBC1 and ITV capture decent audience shares. Countryfile (BBC1, 6pm) performed lower than usual, possibly hit by the fact that its devoted outdoors-loving audience were, for once, actually spending time outdoors. 4.27 million overnight viewers tuned in. Attenborough At Ninety (7pm) celebrated the life and career of the legendary naturalist, bringing in an audience of 4.89 million viewers. The rest of BBC1's evening schedule was handed over to The British Academy Television Awards at 8pm. The two-hour ceremony from London's Royal Festival Hall pulled in 4.50 million viewers. ITV ended its week with a two hour block of comfortable Sunday night viewing. The Durrell's first series came to an end at 8pm with a sixth and final episode as family matriarch Louisa (Keeley Hawes) prepared to get married. The drama debuted with 6.1 million overnight viewers a few weeks back, with the finale seeing that audience fall to 4.8 million viewers. The second series of wartime Women's Institute drama Home Fires (9pm) also came to an end with a wedding and 4.1 million viewers.
Here are the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Six programmes, for week-ending Sunday 1 May 2016 were as follows:-
1 Britain's Got Toilets - Sat ITV - 11.33m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 7.73m
3 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 7.19m
4 Marcella - Mon ITV - 6.32m
5 Emmerdale - Tues ITV - 6.06m
6 The Durrells - Sun ITV - 6.04m
7 Scott & Bailey - Wed ITV - 5.82m
8 The A Word - Tues BBC1 - 5.65
9 Line Of Duty - Thurs BBC2 - 5.58m
10 MasterChef - Thurs BBC1 - 5.57m
11 Peter Kay's Comedy Shuffle - Mon BBC1 - 5.16m
12 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 5.12m
13 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.02m
14 Michael McIntyre's Big Show - Sat BBC1 - 5.01m
15 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.96m
16 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.80m
17 Undercover - Sun BBC1 - 4.73m
18 The Secret - Fri ITV - 4.67m*
19 Home Fires - Sun ITV - 4.34m*
20 Holby City - Tues BBC1- 4.33m
21 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 4.32m
22 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.23m
23 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.02m
24 Mrs Brown's Boys - Sat BBC1 - 3.69m
25 Bake Off: Crème De La Crème - Tues BBC2 - 3.53m
26 Gogglebox - Fri C4 - 3.48m
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 their computers. Why? I dunno, they just don't. Those ITV programmes marked "*" do not include HD figures either. On BBC2, apart from the successes of Line Of Duty and Bake Off: Crème De La Crème, World Championship Snooker attracted 1.91 million punters (no, I don't know why either), followed by the excellent documentary Mary Beard's Ultimate Rome (1.74 million), Food Detectives (1.71m), Caravanner Of The Year (1.62m), Dad's Army (1.54,), Rick Stein's Long Weekends (1.51m), This World: Inside The Billionaire's War (1.49m) and An Island Parish: Shetland (also 1.49m). Aside from Googlebox, The Island With Bear Grylls was Channel Four's next highest-rated broadcast of the week (2.78 million), followed by The Supervet (2.18m) and F1: Russian Grand Prix Highlights (2.17m). Paul Merton's Secret Stations drew 1.70 million. Channel Five's top performer was The Secret Life Of Puppies & Kittens with 1.67 million. Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away had 1.42m. The latest episode of Gotham attracted 1.23m. Sky Sports 1's most-watched programme was Live Ford Super Sunday with Leicester City almost, but not quite, clinching the Premier League title against The Scum, watched by 1.56 million viewers. The coverage of Southampton's game with Sheikh Yer Man City had 1.26 million. Sky Sport 2's top-rated broadcast was coverage of Live Super League attracting one hundred and eighty four thousand punters. Gillette Soccer Special was Sky Sports News's highest-rated broadcast with four hundred and eighty one thousand. On Sky Sports F1, coverage of the Russian Grand Prix had an audience of five hundred and sixty seven thousand. Midsomer Murders was ITV3's top-rated drama (1.07m). Lewis drew six hundred and thirteen thousand. MotoGP Highlights and Cycling: Tour De Yorkshire headed ITV4's top ten, with three hundred and eighty two thousand and three hundred and sixty eight thousand respectively, followed by the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice with three hundred and twenty eight thousand viewers. Dusgraceful steaming pile of rotten diarrhoea, and the classic example of everything that is wrong with British television - and society - in the Twenty First Century, Celebrity Juice was ITV2's third most-watched performer with 1.06 million viewers. Every single one of whom needs to be hanging their heads in shame. The not-much-more intellectually stimulating Britain's Got More Toilets had 1.27 million whilst laughless, Plebs drew nine hundred and eleven thousand, and another Bond movie, Skyfall, had 1.11 million viewers. The latest episode of Houdini & Doyle headed ITV Encore's top ten with a tragic ninety eight thousand viewers. For context, the fifty eighth repeat of an episode of Vera was watched by a mere nine thousand less viewers than Houdini & Doyle. BBC4's Hinterland had an audience of seven hundred and eighty seven thousand in a top-ten list which also included The Silk Road (seven hundred and sixteen thousand), A History Of Ancient Britain With Scottish Neil Oliver (& His Lovely Hair) (six hundred and fifty nine thousand) and Britain's Treasure Islands (six hundred and three thousand). The Dave Clark Five & Beyond: Glad All Over attracted five hundred and two thousand. Doctor Lucy's Antiques Uncovered drew four hundred and seventy five thousand, Timeshift: The Golden Age Of Trams, four hundred and sixty one thousand and Jerusalem: The Making Of A Holy City, four hundred and thirty six thousand. Sky1's weekly top-ten was headed by The Flash (1.12 million), Hawaii Five-0 (eight hundred and ninety eight thousand), Arrow (eight hundred and eighty four thousand) and Modern Family (seven hundred and forty eight thousand). The Five shed even more viewers, the latest episode having an audience of six hundred and sixty two thousand. Sky Atlantic's list was topped, of course, by Game Of Thrones (2.20 million). The Tunnel continued with four hundred and sixty six thousand. On Sky Living, Blindspot drew nine hundred and five thousand, The Blacklist had seven hundred and eighty six thousand and Elementary, seven hundred and seventy thousand. Sky Arts' Bee Gees: In Our Own Time had an audience of one hundred and four thousand. 5USA's The Mysteries Of Laura was watched by five hundred and six thousand viewers. NCIS drew four hundred thousand. NCIS also topped the weekly top tens of FOX - the latest episode of series thirteen attracting 1.03 million punters - and CBS Action (ninety eight thousand) and featured in the Universal Channel's list (seventy three thousand). And, all with different episodes. Aside, from NCIS, FOX's list also included the fourth episode of 11.22.63 (three hundred and forty one thousand) and American Dad! (two hundred and seventy two thousand). On CBS Action, Walker, Texas Ranger was seen by ninety seven thousand. The Universal Channel's top ten was headed by Chicago Med (two hundred and sixty seven thousand) and Sleepy Hollow (one hundred and sixty two thousand). On Dave, Have I Got A Bit More News For You was the highest-rated broadcast with three hundred and twenty thousand punters. That was followed by Room 101 (three hundred and fourteen thousand), Qi XL (three hundred and four thousand) and Mock The Week (three hundred and one thousand). Drama's Inspector George Gently was watched by four hundred and sixty thousand viewers. Silent Witness had three hundred and thirty three thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programme was Castle (four hundred and ninety two thousand), followed by Quantico (two hundred and sixty nine thousand), Death In Paradise (two hundred and thirty two thousand), Murdoch Mysteries (one hundred and ninety two thousand) and Miss Marple (ninety seven thousand). The latest episode of Yesterday's repeat run of Open All Hours was watched by one hundred and ninety five thousand. On the Discovery Channel, Alaskan Bush People was seen by an audience of one hundred and fifty four thousand punters and Deadliest Catch by one hundred and forty one thousand. Gold Divers - complete with that trailer featuring the really annoying woman who wants to get more gold than anyone else ('is that too much to ask?') - had ninety seven thousand, presumably quite annoyed, viewers. Discovery History's Seven Ages Of Britain topped the weekly-list with thirty thousand viewers. On Discovery Science, Mythbusters attracted forty four thousand viewers. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programme was, as usual, the popular Wheeler Dealers (sixty five thousand). National Geographic's top ten was headed by Car SOS which had one hundred and thirty five thousand viewers. Air Crash was seen by fifty five thousand. On The History Channel, Pawn Stars attracted ninety four thousand. Ancient Aliens had an audience of forty four thousand on Military History. Evil Online and Murder Comes To Town were ID's top-rated programmes of the week (forty two thousand and thirty nine thousand viewers respectively). The Jail: Sixty Days In headed CI's list (one hundred and eleven thousand). The latest episode of GOLD's repeat run of Only Fools & Horses attracted one hundred and ninety five thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for Impractical Jokers (two hundred and twelve thousand). Your TV's Crimes Of The Rich & Famous had seventy eight thousand viewers. On More4, The Good Wife was viewed by six hundred and fifty two thousand whilst E4's latest episode of The Big Bang Theory drew 2.61 million punters (beating Game Of Thrones as the largest multichannels audience of the week). The Horror Channel's broadcast of the movie Roadside attracted ninety eight thousand viewers. Life On Fire had thirty thousand on Eden. Tanked was the Animal Planet's most watched programme with seventy thousand. On W, the pilot of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders was seen by four hundred and one thousand.
The former BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has spoken out in defence of the 'beseiged' BBC as the Government prepares to publish the White Paper on the corporation's future. As part of a speech at the Reuters' Institute Lecture on the future of the BBC, Patten also addressed reports that the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale is said to want a BBC that is 'more distinctive.' In response, Patten said in his lecture: 'Yes, it really would be "distinctive" to strike Strictly or Bake-Off from the schedules because they're "too good and too popular." It would also be ridiculous. A BBC1 that's not popular wouldn't be the BBC that licence payers demand.' The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale is due to publish his White Paper within weeks that will set out a tougher new regime as part of a proposed deal to grant a new Royal Charter to safeguard the service for another eleven years. In the speech delivered at Oxford's St Anne's College, Patten said that the forthcoming charter is 'the one chance we have to stop the BBC becoming more and more the plaything of the government of the day.' He called for the end of the link between Charter renewal and the new fixed term Parliaments. 'How ridiculous it is that, because the Charter expires eighteen months after a general election, the BBC is bound to become a priority for any incoming government,' Patten said. He also spoke of a 'besieged' BBC and called for 'everyone who cares' to 'make our voices count.' He said the corporation was 'under attack by government. By the press. By Sky. By Google. By Apple. Once a giant in the communications market' the BBC is 'now dwarfed by multinational platforms who drive up the cost of content - of acquisition, of talent, of production, and of ideas - but have no interest in the UK except as a market.' He said: 'BBC's real income has fallen over the past decade by more than fifteen per cent,' before adding, in the past five years alone, 'BSkyB's revenues went up by more than sixteen per cent and ITV's increased by twenty one per cent.' He said that in order for the BBC to produce programmes and services which 'inform, educate and entertain,' terms spelled out in its Royal Charter, it would require a BBC 'not just free of political control but free of political threat. A BBC that can stop looking over its shoulder and waiting for the next White Paper,' he stated. On the subject of politicians who 'grab an easy headline at the BBC's expense' he said 'constituencies where the voters worry more about the BBC than they do about having a job don't exist.' He also put forward the idea of a new Commission 'to guarantee the independence not just of the BBC but of all broadcasting.' Its roles, he said, would be to appoint the chairman and non-executive directors of the BBC. It would also recommend and publish proposals for future levels of BBC funding. Finally, it would appoint the chair and deputy chair of Ofcom. 'Such a Commission would make it much more difficult for future governments to raid the licence fee,' he said. Patten also talked of the public's 'overwhelming support' for the BBC. 'The consultation exercise plainly failed to provide the answer Mr Whittingdale wanted,' he said. The review of the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's plans for a reform of the BBC, one of the largest-ever public consultations, saw eighty one per cent of respondents indicate general satisfaction with the corporation's content. Patten praised the corporation's output, including dramas such as Happy Valley, Wolf Hall, Sherlock, Doctor Who and Line Of Duty and said: 'No-one would invent the BBC today. But thank God our predecessors did. The BBC is one of this country's greatest institutions.'

A leaked BBC document, obtained by the Gruniad Morning Starhas criticised a government report into the corporation's market impact by pointing out that making shows which are less successful and popular than Strictly Come Dancing would not be good for licence fee payers. The BBC document suggests that the report commissioned by the government uses 'flawed' analysis and 'questionable' assumptions which put commercial impact above the need of the audience. It goes so far as to suggest that the government report is simply a rehash of its rivals' views. 'Much of the report's analysis seems to restate evidence included in ITV's and commercial radio's submissions to the charter review consultation.' The Department for Culture, Media and Sport report, written by management consultants Oliver & Ohlbaum and published in March, was particularly critical of BBC1, which it said had become 'less innovative and less risk-taking.' In a speech in March following the publication of the report, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale called for 'a more distinctive' BBC. Over the weekend, the scheduling of hit shows such as Strictly and Great British Bake Off once again emerged as a bone of contention for providing overly competitive primetime programming. It was reported that the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale would 'ban' the BBC from going head-to-head with commercial rivals as part of the Charter review. A 'source' at the BBC said that the public would be 'deeply concerned' if it were forced to move programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who and Sherlock from primetime weekend slots. The BBC document, which the Gruniad states is 'understood' to have been sent to the DCMS, disputed many of the Oliver & Ohlbaum findings, particularly on distinctiveness and market impact. If adopted in a government White Paper on charter renewal expected, the BBC would fail as a universal service, it states, going on to say that the BBC's weekly reach would fall from ninety seven per cent currently to less than ninety per cent if the proposals were adopted. This would not make a 'sensible basis for policy decisions about the future of the BBC' and its universal service, it concluded. Criticised for showing 'too much entertainment' and not enough 'new shows' during daytime, the BBC said that the volume of entertainment on BBC TV had fallen from twelve hundred and forty nine hours to eleven hundred and thirty nine hours per year since 2007, the start of the last charter period. In peaktime on BBC1, hours of entertainment fell from one hundred and eighty three hours to one hundred and sixty seven hours in the seven years to 2014. It also found that BBC1's daytime schedule included nineteen new titles compared with just eleven on ITV. The government report published in March concluded that broadcasting 'fewer populist' shows on channels such as BBC1 and Radio 1 could 'benefit' commercial rivals by as much as one hundred and fifteen million smackers a year. The DCMS commissioned the assessment of the BBC's 'market impact and distinctiveness' to help it make 'informed choices' about the way the BBC should operate in its next Royal Charter period from 2017, which suggests that it will 'influence the White Paper,' the Gruniad states. Meanwhile, Tony Hall has hit back at reports that the government plans to 'scale back' the BBC, adding that the interests of commercial rivals should not dictate plans for its future. Writing in the Gruniad, Hall said audiences 'above all want our creativity enhanced not diminished,' and added that 'the Britain’s people, not its politicians, own the BBC. And they don’t want it reduced ... They will not want to see plans to reduce the scale and scope of the BBC so it can do less for them at home and less for Britain abroad. They want a distinctive BBC – creatively ambitious, takes creative risks and finds and works with the next generation of talent and not a BBC constrained by over-regulation and box ticking. For all the external noise, the debate with the government has been constructive and good-natured. I believe it, too, wants a BBC where its best days lie ahead. Of course the BAFTAs matter to the BBC, but I want to make sure that we are winning BAFTAs in five years' time, on the very eve of our centenary. That's the prize.'

Gary Lineker has called the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale 'a chump' for making a joke that abolishing the BBC is 'a tempting prospect.' The vile and odious Whittingdale made the comments in a speech at Cambridge University's Conservative Association last Friday. Lineker, the former England footballer and Match Of The Day host, tweeted that the lack of culture secretary was 'a chump' to make such comments about the corporation. The vile and odious rascal Whittingdale said of the BBC's charter, which runs out at the end of 2017, 'if we don't renew it, it may be that the BBC will cease to exist, which is maybe occasionally a tempting prospect.' The lack of culture secretary also indicated his commitment to hand part of the licence fee to outside organisations to make programming such as children's TV, arts coverage and local news. 'There is a case for having some plurality, so that the decision as to what programmes are commissioned isn't exclusively taken by the small group of commissioning editors at the BBC,' he said, in comments first reported by Cambridge University's student newspaper Varsity on Monday. Last week Tony Hall, the Director General of the BBC, sought 'reassurances' from the Chancellor, George Osborne, that so-called 'top-slicing' would not take place, having considered the prospect ruled out under the funding agreement struck with the Treasury last year.
Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminsky has described the government's plans for the BBC as 'a terrifying attempt' to turn the corporation into a state broadcaster such as those controlled by repressive regimes in Russia and Turkey. Speaking ahead of Sunday's BAFTAs, where Wolf Hall is nominated for four awards, Kosminsky said that reports about government plans for the BBC showed that the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale, was 'pursuing an ideological agenda' rather than the best interests of the British public. Kosminsky said the plans for the government to appoint the people running the BBC 'smacks of Putin's Russia and Erdoğan's Turkey. I've been in broadcasting since 1980 and I can't remember a more dangerous time,' he said. 'The thing I find most frightening about some of the proposals coming out of the DCMS at the moment, to me they stink of an attempt – I use the word stink advisedly – they stink of an attempt through pressure of various kinds to morph the BBC from a public service broadcaster to a state broadcaster. Then we have a secretary of state, a man with absolutely no qualifications in programme-making, presuming to tell the BBC what programmes to schedule and when to schedule them. This to me is terrifying. The BBC is funded not just by a few intellectuals, but the public, which has a variety of tastes and interests.' In March, Wolf Hall star Mark Rylance also claimed that the BBC was 'under ideological attack' and said no other broadcaster would have made the programme. Kosminsky repeated concerns that some minsters were attacking the BBC 'in revenge' for its coverage of last May's general erection. He said: 'I do not understand why the Department for Culture and John Whittingale and other Brexiteers from that wing of the party seem hell-bent on tearing up something that has served us and our national economy rather well. It feels like payback for something that happened in the coverage of the last election they are still smarting over.' However, he suggested that 'commercial pressure' from rivals of both the BBC and Channel Four were also influencing the government’s policy on broadcasting. He added: 'Politicians famously don't watch a lot of television and yet they are seeking to get the hood up and fiddling with the mechanisms of broadcasting in this country, firstly by this editorial assault on the BBC and privatising Channel Four, which is a solution in search of a problem, for what can only be assumed to be ideological reasons, perhaps because of heavy pressure from the BBC and Channel Four's commercial rivals both at home and abroad.' On the vile and odious rascal Whittingdale's recent comments to the Cambridge University Conservative Association that the BBC was a 'four billion pound market intervention,' Kosminsky said: 'It's interesting he said that, the throwaway remarks are often the most revealing. That is absolutely the view of News Corp, ITV and of the big media players in America. They see the BBC as state aid, almost as a kind of public intervention, when most British people don't see the BBC like that. They view it like the Post Office, something that has been around all their lifetime and has served them well for generations. It allows a diversity of fairly high-quality programmes to be made in a sheltered bay, away from the storms of the open commercial seas, they don't see it as some sort of ideological anathema because it isn't subjected to the red tooth and claw of unbridled commercial competition.'

The former Blackadder and Not The Nine O’Clock News producer John Lloyd, whose BBC2 panel show Qi has also been nominated for a BAFTA this weekend (as has its outgoing presenter, Stephen Fry), was another high-profile critic of government policy this week. Lloyd told the Grunaid Morning Star: 'If there was an election between the BBC and any government you care to name, the BBC would win hands down. This is the sort of thing we should be having a referendum about. I really hope the government isn't going to do something which makes the BBC impossible to operate effectively. Not having a strong and creative BBC would be a terrible thing – like the Royal Navy or the National Trust, it's a core part of who we are.' Lloyd, currently filming the new series of Qi - the first with Sandi Toksvig as host following Fry's departure after thirteen years - added: 'Everyone must agree that an independent BBC is a good thing. No one can get everything right all of the time but, broadly, it is trusted. It is there to be awkward and to ask questions of those in power.'
So, as noted above, the first three episodes of the fourteenth - N - series of Qi were recorded this week. The opening three episodes before the cameras were, firstly, Naming Names featuring Alan Davies, obviously, plus semi-regular Phill Jupitus, Cariad Lloyd and Romesh Ranganathan. Nordic's guests will be Rhod Gilbert, Jason Manford and first-timer Lucy Beaumont, whilst Nature will also feature Carian Lloyd, along with Wor Geet Canny Ross Noble and, another first-timer, David Baddiel. Who used to be funny. Production on the sixteen-episode series will continue during May and June with broadcast likely to begin in the autumn.
Here's the latest trailer for the returning Top Gear, dear blog reader. Which, apparently, has 'disappointed fans,' according to ... some people you've never heard of. Personally, this blogger thought it looked okay, I suppose. Not quite as impressive as the previous one, admittedly. In which Joey looked really cold and they had a very good song on the soundtrack.
A BBC executive who has overseen Strictly Come Dancing and the new Top Gear series has announced her departure, becoming the fifth senior figure to leave the corporation's new production arm, which launched less than a week ago. Katie Taylor is leaving after six years as controller of in-house entertainment and events, overseeing some of the corporation's biggest hits including Dragons' Den and Adele At The BBC. In an e-mail to staff, Taylor said: 'After six years of leading in-house entertainment and events, I am writing to tell you that I am moving on from the BBC. During this time I have worked with some incredibly talented on-screen and off-screen presenting and production talent, making every day both challenging and rewarding in unique ways.' She has not announced where she is going next or how her departure will affect the new Top Gear. She said in her e-mail: 'As I cha-cha-cha my way off to my new adventure, I wish you all the success that you surely deserve as part of BBC Studios. I know you will shine.' The BBC director of studios, Mark Linsey, said: 'I've worked closely with Katie over many years and I'd like to thank her for leading entertainment and events production and managing some of the best entertainment shows on screen.' Earlier on Wednesday the controller of factual and daytime, Natalie Humpheys, announced she was leaving. Mark Freeland, controller of fiction and entertainment, announced his departure last week.

The wheels have completely fallen off ITV's Drive, the z-list celebrity driving game in which Angus Deayton, Mariella Frostrup, Johnny Vegas and Louis Walsh put the pedal to the metal in the name of small-screen entertainment. And Vernon Kay stands around looking like a berk. So, no change there, then. The good news for ITV was that it has proved just as popular as BBC2's Top Gear in terms of consolidated ratings. The bad news was the Top Gear it has proved as popular as is the old pre-2002 one, before Jezza Clarkson and Andy Wilman turned it into something that was actually worth watching. Drive, of course, isn't the first celebrity sporting reality show (they tried banger racing, buggy racing and Formula Four, among other pursuits) and it won't be the last. Indeed, it's only a couple of months since the BBC had a similar Top Gear-lite vehicle for the terminally brain-dead, The Getaway Car, stink up their own Saturday night schedules for several weeks. The mummy-and-daddy of them all was, of course, Celebrity Wrestling, once ITV's Saturday night primetime successor to Gladiators. Unfortunately, it was scheduled opposite Doctor Who in 2005 and, within weeks, it had been dumped into a Sunday morning slot as something to watch while you waited for Countryfile to begin on BBC1. There are no new ideas, it seems, just old ideas done badly. The best thing about BBC1's celebrity gymnastics effort was its title, Let's Get Ready to Tumble, before they changed their mind and just called it Tumble. It did. In a rapid downwards direction. The only thing wrong with Channel Four's Famous & Fearless, presented by Chris Evans and Clare Balding, was the other people in it weren't in the slightest bit 'famous' and the stunts weren't all that fearless. But Unfamiliar & Mediocre didn't have quite the same ring about it. Channel Four was rather ahead of its time with The Games, from the makers of Big Brother. It ensured its place in this list of shame thanks to Bobby Davro's hilarious memorable belly flop. Channel Four was at it again with The Jump, like The Games but with everything else edited out apart from the jumping bit. It was an initial ratings hit but earned its place in the hall of shame for the number of celebrities who ended up in hospital (and, in some cases, traction) It should have been called The Muffled Crunch, perhaps.

​Scott Bakula has suggested that fans 'should be tired' of the NCIS​ franchise by now​ - but admits that its legacy is 'simply phenomenal​.' ​The actor, who plays Dwayne Pride on NCIS: New Orleans, spoke to the Digital Spy website ahead of the upcoming NCIS crossover episodes Sister City's UK broadcast this weekend. Bakula said: 'People often ask me, "How much do you like this job?" It would probably be the best job I ever had if I was shooting in Los Angeles, but you can't make New Orleans in LA. You can make some of the sets, but as soon as you go outside, it's not the same. But [NCIS] are the Energizer bunny and they just keep going and going. They've been renewed again for two more years, which will be their fourteenth and fifteenth seasons. I can't imagine that. But I applaud them. I don't understand it!.' He added: 'They just did their three hundredth episode, which is astonishing and amazing – and they are the number one show on the planet, still.' Speaking about the lasting appeal of the series, Bakula continued: 'By all rights, people should be tired of procedurals and they should be tired of that show. But they have got some magic model and they just keep going – and it's astounding. With these crossover episodes, they had over eighteen million viewers and we did seventeen. And that was before the DVR numbers kicked in. It was 4 January over here; it was after everyone had been gone after two weeks of holiday.' Regarding the crossover, he said: 'The crossover episode was a very big deal and it was a very difficult achievement. We shot that at a tumultuous time in our season, but it was received very well [in the States] and it's been great. NCIS and NCIS: LA are two different shows, so it's interesting to see us back-to-back and tied together with characters going back and forth in both stories and an overlap – but it seemed to work and people really liked it.​ I think the crossover worked really well and it's an interesting contrast of our two shows, but somehow it mashed together.'

Pressure is said to be 'mounting' for celebrities protected by injunctions to be named after the identity of a married actor who reportedly had sex with z-lister Helen Wood was revealed by US media and on Twitter on Thursday. British media are stepping up their crusade against celebrity legal injunctions, which only apply to the press in England and Wales. It follows widely reported allegations that a married television actor paid for sex with Wood, the former 'escort' (that's another word for a prostitute just in case you were wondering) who once claimed that she had an affair with the England footballer Wayne Rooney whilst Rooney's wife, Coleen, was pregnant with their first child. UK media are still extremely gagged from revealing the man's identity, even though he was named by US media on Thursday. The law is so strict that even the name of the US publication which revealed the actor's identity cannot be named. The Daily Scum Mail reports that the US publication's editor said it was the only one with 'the guts to tell it like it really is,' adding: 'Prohibitive laws are denying readers and fans the right to know the unvarnished truth.' The gagging order was first put in place in 2011. Bob Satchwell, of the Society of Editors, said: 'The American media is making a mockery of our system of justice.' He added that UK courts were 'granting orders which they cannot enforce.' On Wednesday, the Sun said that it wanted to 'expose' the well-known TV actor who is 'a hypocritical star, whose reputation as a family man has boosted his career.' Mark Stephens, a media lawyer at legal firm Howard Kennedy, said that he expected to see more foreign publications naming celebrities who were subject to privacy injunctions in Britain, the Press Association reported. He said: 'Global stars seem to have fallen for the soft sell of claimant lawyers promising the Earth but delivering a target to the backs of celebrities. We can now expect to see a weekly stream of publications in foreign publications, each and every one breaching English privacy orders.' Wood, who won Z-List Celebrity Big Brother in 2015, told the Sun that the actor paid one hundred and ninety five knicker through an escort agency to have sex with her in March 2010. She also claimed that she used a sex toy on him. She is reported, by the Daily Lies, as being 'mortified' by the story resurfacing some five years after the actor obtained the injunction. But, seemingly, not so mortified that she refused to speak to journalists about it. Last month, the president of the Supreme Court said individuals could still challenge the 'more intense' dissemination of information which is already in the public arena. Lord Neuberger said: 'The fact that information about an individual is in the public arena does not necessarily prevent that individual from challenging its dissemination more widely, more intensely or more permanently. And in the traditional world of hard copy, most information would be difficult to access a year later. Yesterday's newspaper would be today's fish and chip wrapping and tomorrow's waste material. However, in the brave new world of webpages, yesterday's news will be accessible not merely next year but next Century, and it is relatively easily findable through a search engine.'

Robert Peston has said that he doesn't feel 'underexposed' at ITV and 'isn't overly concerned' about the ratings for his new Sunday politics show. Pestinfestation debuted his new politics show on Sunday as part of his move from the BBC to become ITV's politics editor. Asked on Radio Four's Media Show whether he missed the exposure after leaving the BBC, which consistently gets more viewers for news and current affairs programmes than its commercial rival, Peston claimed: 'I don't feel underexposed at ITV. I've not sensed that, if the truth be told. People still seem to know I exist.' Which is, sadly, true. He said that ITV had told him they wanted a create a show 'to be proud of,' rather than simply chasing ratings or becoming too concerned with shaping the news agenda. 'We are not obsessed with ratings,' he said. One or two people even believed him. 'We are obsessed with making a programme people are going to enjoy and feel is worthwhile. I do want people to watch it, but am I completely obsessed with Monday's headlines? No I am not. That said, I love trying to get scoops and I love trying to get news.' Pestinfestation said that he hoped to 'help' his audience 'understand people' such as public civil servants and politicians, saying his recently deceased father had instilled in him a belief that it was 'a good thing' to 'devote oneself to public service or life.' Peston said: 'What I want to do is make politics and current affairs palpably relevant to people's lives and also try to do something about the sort of widespread cynicism about people who go into public life. They are exposing themselves to a lot of criticism but for not very much in the way of – compared to going into the city or business – financial reward, and I think we deserve to give those people a bit of a better hearing. I'm not going to go soft on those people if we think they are making terrible mistakes but I think we have to give them a space where they can tell us more about who they are, why they are doing what they are doing, because if we are going to criticise them I think we have to understand them first.'

A former South Yorkshire Police press officer claimed she was asked to 'spin' news during the Hillsborough Inquests, the BBC has revealed. Hayley Court was employed by South Yorkshire Police just after the hearings began in 2014. Documents seen by the BBC News website show she was told a 'performance issue' was her 'failure' to 'redress the imbalance' in the media's reporting of the inquests. SYP said her claims of 'unethical practice' were 'not substantiated.' Court was taken on as the force's Hillsborough communications specialist with a salary of more than fifty grand per year but has since left. She said that when she took the job she had hoped to 'illustrate the SYP force of 2014,' when the inquests began, was not the same as it had been in 1989 - the year of the disaster. But, she said 'very quickly' she felt like she 'had been fed a line. I felt like I had been told my job would be one thing, but actually it was something very different,' she said. She added that she felt 'very foolish' and naive. 'I felt like I was then part of the problem, which couldn't have been further from what I was trying to achieve by accepting the role in the first place. And I felt that I was letting people down by continuing to be part of it.' Court spent around four months doing the job and went daily to the coroner's court in Warrington. But, after 'raising concerns' within the force about her role she became ill with anxiety and depression and was signed off work. Her job involved writing daily reports about the hearings, which were sent to former and serving South Yorkshire Police officers, as well as liaising with reporters covering the inquests. Jurors ruled that ninety five Liverpool fans who died at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final and one who died subsequently had been unlawfully killed. They also criticised SYP's planning for the match and highlighted a catalogue of failures by senior officers on the day. The stadium was also said to have contained 'defects' which contributed to the disaster and Sheffield Wednesday FC and South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service were also heavily criticised. The supporters were, finally, exonerated of any blame after twenty seven years of shameful lies. Court sat in on meetings between South Yorkshire Police's legal team during the inquests. Describing her impression of their approach to the case, she said: 'If [SYP] was going to be found partly responsible for what happened, then all the other interested parties should be found partly responsible as well. And, if that meant perpetuating the comments about fans being drunk, if that meant perpetuating comments about fans forcing gates, then that is how they were going to do it. No-one could have failed to see that SYP was going to be found largely responsible for what happened at Hillsborough, and I think it was more about if there is less responsibility that we can take, then we should seek to make sure that is the outcome.' She said that she was 'surprised' that the force was 'still perpetuating this defensiveness,' despite issuing an apology for 'police failures' in 2012, more than a year before the inquests began. Court claimed that she was 'repeatedly' told to tell the media what 'line' they should be reporting and that 'my job would be in jeopardy if I didn't.' SYP's chief constable David Crompton was extremely suspended the day after the inquests concluded because there had been an 'erosion of trust.' The force investigated 'some' of Court's complaints but a report did not rule in her favour. It listed areas of Court's work which were said to 'need improvement.' Among them, she was said to have failed 'to proactively redress the obvious imbalance in the media reporting of the inquests to the extent that evidential matters, significant to the force, were not being reported accurately.' A twenty-week appraisal, written after Court raised her concerns, also included: 'Hayley was asked to encourage the media to report on the positives (as well as accepting that they would report the negatives).' In July 2014 Court sent a BBC reporter covering the inquests a text message saying: 'Sorry to text late - is there going to be any mention of the new evidence which came to light from SYP on the BBC at some point tonight?' It was sent at 21:28, following a day at court when a SYP barrister had argued CCTV footage appeared to show supporters forcing open perimeter gates in Leppings Lane. Court now says that she is 'embarrassed' to have sent the message. SYP was asked by the BBC to respond to Court's allegations about unethical behaviour but it did not provide answers to specific questions. In a statement, it said that it was 'aware of the concerns' and would 'welcome an opportunity to talk these through' with Court and to 'enter a process of independent review and mediation.' It added: 'Some of the issues raised have been considered before through the force's grievance procedure. Specifically in relation to the concerns raised about suggested unethical practices, but these were not substantiated at the time. However it is clear that the staff member remains concerned about her experiences and following the outcome of the Hillsborough Inquests and we would like to talk to her and give these matters further consideration.'

The Sun editor Tony Gallagher is clearly trying to steer the tabloid in a more literary direction. In a review headlined Abbey to expose the truth: Downton star Hugh Bonneville plays hero in new play about press freedom, the newspaper gushes about the actor's 'marvellous' performance in Ibsen's An Enemy Of The People. 'Hugh Bonneville returned to the stage last night in a play about newspapers, cover-ups and lies,' it begins, adding: 'Bonneville ditches his safe, family man image for a performance packed with passion and desire as he fights to reveal a corrosive secret in his first return to the stage in more than a decade. Forget the staid Earl of Grantham of TV's Downton Abbey fame; this Bonneville character throws himself headlong into the fiercest of battles against lies and deceit with admirable determination. The truth and who deserves to hear it, no matter what cost to reputation and image, is an age-old question as relevant today as when Henrik Ibsen posed it in 1882 and the Norwegian playwright could have wished for no better advocate than Bonneville. TV fans of Downton's slow-paced period drama might be surprised by the red-hot fervour the actor is capable of in his pursuit of satisfaction.' Meanwhile, the Daily Torygraph also opted to push the stage drama prominently, printing a picture of a finger-wagging Bonneville, in character, under the headline Bonneville, champion of free speech.

Diaries, transcripts and photographs documenting the late journalist Alan Whicker's long career have been donated to the British Film Institute's National Archive. The archive, which begins with a 1938 school report, was handed over by his long-term partner, Valerie Kleeman. She said that she hoped it would 'be of help and guidance to generations to come.' The name of Whicker, who died in 2013, was 'a by-word for brilliantly crafted and revealing studies of people and places,' the BFI said. A spokesman added that the travel journalist, who is best remembered for his long-running documentary series Whicker's World, had been 'an unlikely figure, clad in Gucci tie and blazer, [who] found his way into the nation's hearts as he went where his audience was unlikely to follow.' Head curator Robin Baker said that the archive, which includes documents about Whicker's behind-the-scenes look at the Miss World competition and his infamous interview with the Haitian dictator (and psychopath) Francois Papa Doc Duvalier, gave 'a unique insight into one of the great figures of Twentieth Century television. Whicker was a household name, famed for his daring and insightful investigations of people from all walks of life, from close to home and around the globe. His standards were meticulously high and his programmes set a benchmark for long-form television documentary. The collection is a very generous and important donation, for which we are extremely grateful.' Kleeman, who shared her professional and private life with Whicker, said that Alan had 'observed both the light and the shadows of life. Often, he witnessed history in the making: war trials in Strasbourg, race riots in Alabama - [and] he had access to the unaccessible: dictators, witch doctors, cults - and even the occasional royal. Whicker wrote and filmed what he saw, he had no preconceived ideas, no axe to grind. His motivation was to stimulate, to interest, to entertain. And to allow viewers to come to their own conclusions.' One particularly revealing letter from the collection deals with proposed edits to a documentary Whicker made in 1967 about hippies in San Francisco. Along with noting that 'the nude party must go', the note also refers to a 'snide little paragraph' about one of Whicker's films in a recent issue of the Daily Scum Mail. No change there, then. So, 1967? Was that before or after they stopped supporting Hitler?
The Rolling Stones (they are a popular beat combo, m'lud) have told potential future President - and hairdo - Donald Trump to stop playing their songs during his campaign. The band have issued a statement saying that the US presidential candidate does not have permission to use the band's music. 'The Rolling Stones have never given permission to the Trump campaign to use their songs and have requested that they cease all use immediately.' The candidate been playing their songs at his rallies for some months. Their 1969 recording, ' You Can't Always Get What You Want' has been a particular favourite of the Trump campaign. The band are not the first artists to protest at Trump - now the Republican front-runner - using their music during his rallies. In February, Adele issued a statement distancing herself from Trump, after he had been playing her hit single 'Rolling In The Deep' as his 'warm-up' music. The singer issued a statement making it clear she had 'not given permission for her music to be used for any political campaigning.' Aerosmith have also protested over their music being used in Trump's campaign. Steven Tyler's lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter, saying that the use of the 'Dream On' 'gives a false impression' that Tyler and/or Aerosmith endorses Trump's presidential bid. Tyler, who is a registered Republican, said it was not a 'personal' issue but one of 'permission and copyright.' Prior to that, Neil Young demanded that Trump stop using his song 'Rockin' In The Free World', which the billionaire had used at an event when Trump announced his candidacy in June last year. Young demanded that Trump stop using the song and declared his own support for the Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. Michael Stipe from R.E.M - another well-known Democrat - issued a strongly worded statement when Trump then used the band's song 'It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)'. 'Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign,' the statement read.

The Met Office 'mistakenly' issued a warning of snow on what was the UK's hottest day of the year so far. Many were left baffled after receiving the 'amber' snow alert for London, South-East England, and South Wales - despite temperatures reaching Twenty One degrees. 'Warmest day of the year and Met Office e-mail me an amber snow warning. Are they having a giraffe or what?!,' one Twitter user whinged. Although, why anybody should be in the slightest bit interested in the thoughts of 'one Twitter user' on this - or any other - matter, is a question worth asking. The Met Office blamed 'a technical error.' The snow alert for Thursday evening was 'a test warning' which 'accidentally went live' on the Met Office website and mobile phone application, it claimed. One or two people even believed them. The forecaster later confirmed that Thursday had been the warmest day of the year so far, with temperatures expected to continue to rise over the weekend.
The UK's new polar research ship is to be named the RRS Sir David Attenborough, despite the - ridiculous - title 'Boaty McBoatface' previously topping a public vote on the matter. A website inviting name suggestions attracted huge interest, with Boaty McBoatface the runaway favourite. But Science Minister Jo Johnson said there were 'more suitable' names. On Friday, days before Sir David turned ninety, it was announced that the two hundred million smackers vessel would be named after the world-renowned and respected naturalist and broadcaster. Sir David said he was 'truly honoured' by the decision. While the polar ship itself will not be named Boaty McBoatface, one of its remotely operated sub-sea vehicles will be named Boaty in recognition of the vote. James Hand, the plank who first suggested the flippant moniker, said that he was 'pleased' the name would 'live on.' In a tweet, he also said that RRS Sir David Attenborough, which came fourth in the public vote, was 'a fitting and excellent choice.' The science minister said: 'The public provided some truly inspirational and creative names and, while it was a difficult decision, I'm delighted that our state-of-the-art polar research ship will be named after one of the nation's most cherished broadcasters and natural scientists.' The ship would 'put Britain at the forefront of efforts to preserve our precious marine environment,' Johnson added. Professor Jane Francis is the director of the British Antarctic Survey, one of the principal users of the ship. She told BBC News: 'We are delighted with the name RRS David Attenborough. He is an important public figure who has engaged and inspired the public over generations with his passion for the natural world. This new ship will be at the forefront of polar science and deliver world-leading capability for UK research in both Antarctica and the Arctic.' Sir David said that he hoped 'everyone who suggested a name will feel just as inspired to follow the ship's progress as it explores our polar regions. I have been privileged to explore the world's deepest oceans alongside amazing teams of researchers, and with this new polar research ship they will be able to go further and discover more than ever before.' Meanwhile, members of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee have said that they want to 'discuss' whether the public engagement project around the search for a name has been a success or a failure. The chief executive of the Natural Environment Research Council, which was behind the vote, has been called before the Commons committee to give evidence on 10 May. Although what the Hell it has to do with them is a question which, one trusts, they will be asked by the chief executive of the Natural Environment Research Council before they get to ask him any impertinent questions. Nicola Blackwood, the committee chair, questioned whether the process had been a 'triumph of public engagement or a PR disaster.' To which the obvious answer is, the saga has generated far more publicity for the vessel than it would ever have received otherwise and alerted many members of the public to the work of NERC which most of us, previously, had probably never even heard of. So, in that regard at least it's been a triumph. But, it also proved an age-old truism that you should never ask the public what they think you should do because the answer you get might not be the one you want to hear. Like, for instance, David Bowie's brilliant idea of letting the punters chose some of the set-list on his Sound + Vision Tour in the early nineties. It seems that everybody with half-a-brain in their head except David knew that many people with an agenda would vote for 'The Laughing Gnome' just for sheer devilment and 'a reet good laugh.' The RRS Sir David Attenborough is being built on Merseyside and is due to set sail in 2019. It will be the most advanced polar research ship in the world, investigating the oceans in a multitude of ways and probing how best to address climate change. The ship will also enable scientists and technicians to stay at sea for longer and study the polar environments during the winter months. The Boaty sub-sea vehicle will be dispatched from RRS Sir David Attenborough to allow the ship's research crew to collect data and samples from the deepest waters of the Arctic and Antarctic. An alternative name of 'Subby McSubface' is already being suggested on social media. But, that's unlikely to be used. Because, it's fekking stupid.

Traditional fish and chips could become a thing of the past (though, it probably won't, at least for a while so, don't panic). According to a new study as sea temperatures continue to rise, traditional fish-and-chips fish like plaice and haddock will 'disappear' in search of cooler waters. In the last forty years, the North Sea has warmed four times faster than the global average and researchers at the University of Exeter say it will rise a further 1.8 degrees over the next fifty years. Louise Rutterford, a postgraduate researcher who carried out the study said, 'Our study suggests that we will see proportionally less of some of the species we eat most of as they struggle to cope with warming condition in the North Sea.' Doctor Steve Simpson added in the journal who published the study, Nature Climate Change, 'We will see a real changing of the guard in the next few decades. Our models predict cold-water species will be squeezed out, with warmer water fish likely to take their place. For sustainable UK fisheries, we need to move on from haddock and chips and look to Southern Europe for our gastronomic inspiration.' And that inspiration is said to come in the form of John Dory, sardine, squid and red mullet. So, while we mourn the potential loss of our traditional chip shop fish, it's not all bad news.
The Washington Post reports that Beijing's municipal government is releasing six million pounds of frozen pork into the marketplace over the next two months, according to Chinese state media. The plan has a simple aim: to keep the price of pork down at a time when it had surged more than fifty per cent over the past year. As a result of this influx of meat, officials say that prices should fall by around eighteen percent. It is the first time that Beijing itself has gone through with such a plan, but China's attempts to control the pork market are nothing new. The importance of pork to China is hard to overestimate — and because of that, Chinese pork prices could have surprising ripple effects around the rest of the world. Since China's farming industries were liberalised in the late-1970s, pork consumption has dramatically boomed in China. The country is now both the largest producer and consumer of pork, which now makes up around sixty percent of China's total meat consumption. Chinese citizens consume more than twice as much pork as the global average. Indeed, as The Economist magazine noted in 2014, pork consumption has deep roots in Chinese culture: 'Pigs have been at the centre of Chinese culture, cuisine and family life for thousands of years. Pork is the country's essential meat. In Mandarin the word for "meat" and "pork" are the same. The character for "family" is a pig under a roof. The pig is one of the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac: those born in that year are said to be diligent, sympathetic and generous. Pigs signify prosperity, fertility and virility. Poems, stories and songs celebrate them. Miniature clay pigs have been found in graves from the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). Historians think people in Southern China were the first in the world to domesticate wild boars, ten thousand years ago.' In recent years, China's huge demand for pork has meant that the country's broader economy can be affected by fluctuations in its price. In 2007, when disease wiped out huge numbers of pig communities in China, the pork price surged by nearly ninety percent in one year. Pork prices became a major contributing factor in pushing the country's inflation rate to its highest levels in over a decade (some have even dubbed China's Consumer Price Index the 'China Pork Index' because of pork's outsize influence on inflation). Food prices have been linked to civil unrest in the country, which clearly worries China's leaders. In response to this and other worrying events, China decided to set up a 'national pork reserve' in 2007, similar to how other countries maintain reserves of foreign currency, oil or grain. The reserve not only can release more pork at times of high prices but also take pigs from farmers at times of low prices.

Police in Maryland used controversial cellphone-tracking technology intended only for the most serious crimes to track down a man who stole fifty dollars worth of chicken wings. Police in Annapolis reportedly used a StingRay cell tower simulator in an effort to find the location of a man who had earlier robbed a Pizza Boli employee of fifteen chicken wings and three sandwiches, total worth fifty six dollars and seventy seven cents. In that case, according to the police log, a court order was 'sought and received' but, in many other cases across the United States, the technology is being used 'with minimal oversight,' despite the fact it is only supposed to be used in the most serious cases such as terrorism. StingRay devices work by impersonating cellphone masts, so nearby phones connect to them and automatically hand over their unique ID numbers, allowing investigators to track the handsets and their owners by location. Annapolis police never found the fifty dollar chicken thief but, he represented just one of seventeen occasions on which the city of forty thousand people used the device in 2011. Its use is far more prevalent in larger cities. The Philip Merrill College of Journalism's Capital News Service found that Maryland State police has used a StingRay at least one hundred and twenty five times since 2012. Howard Country, which lies to the South of Baltimore and with a population of three hundred thousand, has used a StingRay one hundred and twenty nine times since 2011. The police in Baltimore City have used its StingRay an extraordinary four thousand three hundred times since 2007, sparking an investigation and review of two thousand of thesecases. New York City has used its StingRay on more than one thousand occasions since 2008.
For the fourth time in ten years, a Destrehan High School teacher has been arrested for having a lesbian affair with a student. Geography teacher Kimberly Naquin, twenty six, was arrested in January and charged with 'carnal knowledge of a juvenile and prohibited sexual contact between a student and educator,' according to police records. Parents at Destrehan High were reported to be 'in disbelief' that the school was dealing with a situation like this, yet again. 'I guess they have to do better screenings of the teachers and their backgrounds, security background check like they do at the federal government,' said Carmen Ibert, the parent of a Destrehan student. 'But, I guess you can't prevent it from happening.' 'It's very sad to hear it happened again, especially here at Destrehan where my daughter attends,' said Gene Hyorth, another parent from the school. St Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said that the sexual relationship with the female student took place when the girl was sixteen and seventeen years old. Champagne said that the teacher-student relationship 'lasted for more than a year.' He said one of the alleged victim's family members had reported the relationship to the sheriff's office. 'The relationship began in August of 2014 and continued until September of 2015, at which time we understand the relationship had been terminated for some reason,' Champagne said. He added that said he has ten detectives working on the case. 'We've got a lot of work to do,' Champagne said. 'Our detectives are working hard. I don't know what that will bring. Where ever that leads us, that's where we're going to go.' Investigators claim that Naquin had sex with the student in a classroom at the high school and at Naquin's former residence in Kenner, where she faces ten additional felony counts.

A wanted unregistered sex offender who legally changed his name to Avril Lavigne has been very arrested, Portland police said on Tuesday. According to the Oregonian, police announced on Monday that Lavigne, born Romany Yves Mesina, had an outstanding warrant for his arrest because he was suspected of 'following teen girls and young women, taking photos of them and posting them on social media.' He also had not registered as a sex offender following a 2009 conviction for second-degree rape. Lavigne, thirty, was arrested later that day. Lavigne petitioned to have the same full name as the Canadian-born female singer in October 2014, court records show. He does not list a reason for the request in court papers.
Now, here's one for everybody who loves a 'naughty vicar' story - and, let's face it, that's just about all of us, is it not? A very naughty vicar who used the Bible to justify spanking female members of his congregation on their bare bottoms 'for his own pleasure' was extremely jailed for six years, as reported by the Daily Mirra. And, to think, you normally have to pay good money for that sort of thing. Apparently. Anyway, Howard Curtis, the Mirra states, 'ran a "cult"' at the Coulsdon Christian Fellowship administering 'spiritual discipline' to strip naked victims claiming that this would 'cure depression' and 'boost their sex lives.' Presumably using the old Proverbs 13, 'spare the rod and spoil the child' justification. The married former minister at the church in Coulsdon, claimed to use his 'unorthodox teachings' to 'drive out evil spirits' and, even 'spanked a woman's genitalia.' He was very jailed for six years at Croydon Crown Court after being convicted of six counts of sexual assault, two of child cruelty and one of being a naughty old scallywag. Judge Peter Gower QC said: 'These are serious offences involving a gross abuse of trust that was bestowed on you in your position in the church. Immediate custody is inevitable.' The Bible, incidentally, also states that wearing a garment woven from two clothes is an abomination punishable by death and that slavery and polygamy, are both perfectly acceptable in the sight of The Lord. So, therefore, people who use it as a justification for all manner of weird behaviour, bigotry and daft glakery really ought to read the whole thing before using that as an excuse for their beliefs in a court of law. Just sayin'.
The German discount supermarket Lidl is recalling its own brand tinned herring fillets because, you're gonna love this, 'it does not warn shoppers they may contain fish.' Although, you know, some could argue the clue's in the name. The assorted flavoured herring pieces sold in two hundred gramme tins under the brand Nixe also contains milk, egg, mustard and wheat which, likewise, are not declared as an allergen in English on the label. Despite having a prominent Marine Stewardship Council logos the discount store said that its Nixe Herring Fillets in a Tomato Sauce was withdrawn with immediate effect due to fish 'not being declared in English' on the label. Herring Fillets in a Tomato and Red & Green Pepper Sauce and Herring Fillets in a Mustard Sauce brands also failed to mention they 'may contain fish, milk, egg, wheat and mustard.' Lidl said: 'If you have bought a product and have an allergy to fish, milk, mustard, egg or wheat do not eat it.' Also, if you have an allergy to fish and you bought something called 'herring fillets', you might want to think about taking a - lengthy - course in acquiring some ruddy common sense. Just a thought. 'Instead return it to a Lidl store for a full refund. Other green grocer products are not affected by this recall.' The Food Standards agency also warned anyone with an allergy to the ingredients not to eat them. It said: 'The above products may contain fish, milk, egg, mustard and wheat (gluten) which are not mentioned on the label in English. This means the products may be a possible health risk to anyone with an allergy or intolerance to the allergens listed above. If you have bought any of the above products and have an allergy or intolerance to any of the above allergens, please do not eat it. Instead return it to the store from where you bought it for a full refund. All affected tins affected have a best before date of 16 March 2020.' Jesus, has everyone taken The Stupid Pill again this week, or what?
Professional troll and hateful full-of-her-own-importance gobshite Katie Hopkins vowed to humiliate herself in public if Sadiq Khan was elected London Mayor. Which, of course, he was. Deliciously. The question, therefore, needs to be asked, will Hopkins follow through with her boast? And, if she does, who gets to chose the particular sausage to be used. Because, some of those German ones are really big.
To end on a rather sad note, dear blog reader, some events in yer actual Keith Telly Topping's personal life this week have, somewhat, taken a turn for the 'crappy' (hope I'm not being too technical for you here). Which, as a consequence, may have the effect of limiting the amount of time that yer actual has to spend on these bloggerisationism updates for, at least, a while. Never fear, From The North will return when yer actual is feeling a bit better.

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