Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Big Man & The Scream-Team Meet The Barmy Army, Uptown

Yer Keith Topping was so engrossed in the book that he was reading on the bus into work this morning, dear blog reader - Clinton Heylin's Dylan Behind Closed Doors for those taking notes - that he only went and got off at the wrong stop, didn't he? Still, the walk did me good. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

A full cast list for the Doctor Who Christmas special has been revealed. Doctor Who Magazine reports that Laurence Belcher and Leo Bill will join the previously announced Michael Gambon, Katherine Jenkins and Danny Horn. Child actor Belcher previously appeared in the BBC's Little Dorrit, while Bill starred in Steven Moffat's Jekyll in 2007 and most recently featured in Tim Burton's film adaptation of Alice In Wonderland. Micah Balfour and Pooky Quesnel will also feature in the episode. Balfour best is known for his role as PC Gayle on The Bill, while Quesnel starred in the second series of BBC drama Criminal Justice and recently appeared in EastEnders as Rachel Branning. Filming on the special was recently completed and production on Matt Smith's second full series is expected to begin shortly.

I don't know about anybody else, dear blog reader, but yer Keith Telly Topping is really starting to get a bit tired of Lisa Faulkner on Celebrity MasterChef looking all surprised and then putting her head in her hands every time John and Gregg tell her that she'll be cooking for, in the latest instance, five of the best chefs in the country. What the hell did she think she was going to have to do in the final, a plate of egg and chips down the local cafe?! You know that bit where Gregg says 'cooking doesn't get any tougher than this' chuck? Well, he wasn't having you on. Lovely girl, good actress, but far too blubby to be entertaining. My money's still on Dick.

Starz, the American broadcaster, has released more information regarding Torchwood: The New World which it is co-producing with the BBC. The fourth season of the Doctor Who spin-off series was announced earlier in the Summer with a deal between the BBC and Starz giving the series a global scale - filming will take place in Cardiff, Los Angeles and other locations around the world. Details about the new series have been limited so far with only actors John Barrowman, Eve Myles and Kai Owen confirmed as reprising their respective roles. However, Starz has now released a brief synopsis for the Torchwood: The New World which offers a few insights into the storyline for the ten-part series. When CIA agent Rex Matheson investigates a global conspiracy, he finds himself unearthing a threat which challenges the entire human race. The answers seem to lie within an old, secret British institute, known only as Torchwood. But Torchwood was destroyed, years ago, and the keys to the institute are held by its only two survivors - former Police Officer Gwen Cooper, who has long since disappeared along with her husband and child and the mysterious Captain Jack Harkness, a man whose history seems to stretch back for centuries. With Rex under attack from all sides, in both the US and the UK, he soon discovers that there are forces at work within every level of society, determined to stop Torchwood's return. As a chain of events across the world links together the most disparate and unlikely individuals - including a surgeon, a killer, senators and CEOs - a new Torchwood team takes shape. But this time, the threat is much closer to home, as they realize that their greatest enemy is mankind itself. Ooo ... all right, now I'm excited.

An adaptation of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, starring a young Sean Connery as the title character's lover, has been rediscovered by BBC archivists forty nine years after it was first shown. Claire Bloom played the title role opposite Connery, who starred in the first 007 film, Dr No, a year later. The drama, which was broadcast on 3 November 1961, is to be released on DVD next year. It tells the story of a Russian society woman who puts her marriage in jeopardy by embarking on a passionate affair. Bloom went on to star in roles including Lady Marchmain in 1980s hit Brideshead Revisited, which earned her an Emmy nomination in the US and was most recently seen playing the Doctor's mother in David Tennant's final Doctor Who episodes. (Postscript: I am assured by someone who knows about these things - hi, Ian! - that, in actual fact, Anna Karenina was never 'lost' and, therefore, in need of 'rediscovery,' in the first place. It's been sitting happily in the archives for the last five decades and anybody who wanted to know where it was only had to ask. The press release which this story is based on appears to have originated via some over-eager member of the BBC Worldwide press office. So, something of a non-story then. In't that always the way? However, it's given me an excuse to dig out this rather nice picture of Claire and Sean, so we'll let them off just this once.)

And, speaking of Doctor Who Matt Smith and Karen Gillan are reported to have been called upon at late notice to appear on Chris Evans' first ONE Show, according to 'sources.' Evans, who was named as the new regular Friday night host of the BBC consumer show last April, presents his first edition with Alex Jones. However by late on Wednesday afternoon, producers had still not booked any celebrities to appear on his debut edition, leading to frantic last-minute calls to agents and PR companies, reports the Sun. One agent said: 'They've known for months that Chris Evans will be hosting the show this Friday. So we were quite surprised they were asking so late in the day if we had anyone who could appear on the show. Getting people at short notice in summer is tricky, so it was pretty odd for them to be getting their begging bowl out like that.' A ONE Show 'insider' - who described the situation as 'tense' - allegedly said: 'It was getting hairy. We were running out of time. Chris's first show was looking like being a disaster.' Smith and Gillan have now apparently rescued producers by agreeing to appear on Friday night's edition.

The BBC has reportedly urged Top Gear driver The Stig not to release a book. The Mirror says that the undercover track specialist is planning to write an autobiography about his time on the show. However, the BBC has suggested that revealing The Stig's identity would spoil the programme for viewers. The organisation said: 'The BBC is in a legal dispute over the publication of a book relating to Top Gear as this breaches agreed contractual and confidentiality obligations relating to the show.' However, lawyers for The Stig - not his real name - have reportedly responded to the BBC with their own legal letters. Racing driver Ben Collins was rumoured to be The Stig last year, although other reports suggested that the job is actually taken on by several different drivers depending on availability and location. For instance, both Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher are rumoured to have 'played' the role on specific occasions.

Bones executive producer Stephen Nathan has admitted that he is unsure whether any of the characters will die in the new season. David Boreanaz, who plays Booth, previously claimed that upcoming episodes would feature 'a big death.' However, Nathan has now told Entertainment Weekly that no decision has been made about the future of the characters. 'Whether or not we're going to have an actual fatality is still under discussion,' he explained. 'And if it happens, it would be later in the season.'

Martin Shaw collapsed on stage earlier this week, according to press reports. The Judge John Deed actor began 'mumbling' his lines before passing out during a performance of The Country Girl at Shrewsbury's Severn Theatre on Wednesday evening, according to the Sun. The sixty five-year-old apparently whispered 'I'm sorry,' as co-star Jenny Seagrove ran to his aid and the curtain dropped. Paramedics from St John's Ambulance shortly arrived on the scene. A, something less than tactful, audience member allegedly told the newspaper: 'One minute he was acting, then he was a mumbling mess. After a twenty-minute interval he was replaced by his understudy.' Actually, he or she probably didn't say that or anything even remotely like it, but that's what the Sun are reporting, anyway. Shaw's agent blamed the incident on previously-known health complications and the fact that the actor was under medication. His agent said: 'He passed out because he has a cracked rib, a chest infection and is on antibiotics. He probably shouldn't have been on stage but didn't want to disappoint his fans.' As well as playing the title characters in both Judge John Deed and Inspector George Gently, Shaw has also appeared in The Professionals, Coronation Street, Cranford and Agatha Christie's Poirot.

The planned strike by some EastEnders crews has been called off after talks resumed in the dispute over travel allowances. BECTU is balloting members in BBC Studios and Post Production over a renewed offer by the company of lump sum payment to crews whose longstanding travel-to-work allowances have been withdrawn. The offer of a transitional payment was rejected by the union during months of negotiations, and strike action last Thursday, involving a small number of BBC S&PP staff, went ahead at Elstree. The subsidiary company and the programme said there was no disruption to the recording schedule on 12 August. A further strike day had been planned on 1 September. The dispute centres on withdrawal of travel-to-work costs of one hundred thousand pounds a year which were established, in some cases as long as ten years ago, when jobs moved from TV Centre to Elstree. BBC S&PP claims the allowances are no longer sustainable. BECTU says withdrawal could hit some members' pockets to the tune of five thousand pounds to ten thousand pounds a year. The renewed offer on the table amounts to a lump sum payment of six hundred and fifty pounds to the twenty camera operators and sound supervisors who have been claiming travel costs, provided all industrial action is suspended. BECTU members at Elstree gave 'overwhelming support' earlier this week to a proposal to allow talks with management to resume, the union said, 'We are therefore suspending all industrial action with immediate effect to enable us to consult our members on the offer,' said Helen Ryan, BECTU supervisory official. In an e-mail to all BBC S&PP staff, chief executive Mark Thomas referred to the last four-and-a-half months of the dispute as 'an aberration in our otherwise constructive working relationship with BECTU. I am obviously pleased we have reached this point, but it remains a real disappointment to me that despite this offer being made months ago it has only been accepted now,' Thomas said.

BBC Panorama has issued a strong rebuff to viewers who complained the programme Death in the Med - shown on Monday night - was biased in Israel's favour. Good. It's about time the BBC showed a bit of backbone when dealing with complainers. Pro-Palestinian groups had attacked the BBC over the documentary's criticism of those on board the Gaza flotilla. Presenter Jane Corbin concluded her report with: 'The bid to break the naval blockade wasn't really about bringing aid to Gaza. It was a political move designed to put pressure on Israel and the international community. And it worked.' Meanwhile, not unexpectedly if the Palastinians had a problem with it, the Zionist Federation praised the documentary and urged supporters to thank the BBC for its 'fair coverage.' In response to the approximately seventy complaints they received, the BBC issued a 'robust' statement which said: 'This programme intended to explore the considerable confusion about what actually happened on the Mavi Marmara on the day in question. Israel has been accused of breaking international law by seizing a Turkish ship. Israel says they were terrorists. Turkey insists they were innocent victims. Viewers were shown a wide range of opinions and whenever a question of authenticity of footage arose, we made this clear.' The BBC declared that the programme makers had spoken extensively 'to the groups and individuals involved in the incident, including three Israeli commandos involved in the raid; the head of the IHH - Bulent Yildirim; the Free Gaza Co-ordinator on board the Mavi Marmara - Lubna Masarwa; three Turkish activists and Ken O'Keefe, all who were onboard the Mavi Marmara on the night in question. 'We also spoke to Hamas official Dr Ahmed Yousef in Gaza. They were all given sufficient time and a platform to make their points. Overall we dismiss claims that this programme showed bias in favour of Israel. The programme's aim was to try to uncover what really happened on the Mavi Marmara. Panorama went to great lengths to give opposing sides the opportunity to air their views and we felt the programme accordingly carried out its analysis in a fair, impartial and balanced manner. We simply allowed viewers to make up their own minds in their own time based on what they saw and heard.' For what it's worth yer Keith Telly Topping mostly agrees with that, I thought the documentary was pretty balanced - almost to the point of being apologetic about it - and that they certainly did not give any of the Israeli interviewees an easy time. But, even if I didn't think that, I'd still be outraged if the BBC meekly accepted such criticism as this over political bias from any side of any argument. The BBC are better than that. They're better than Hamas and they're better than Mossad, just as they're better than any Tories-Dems and New Labourists scum, and it is a bloody damn disgrace for anyone to suggest that an organisation with a - wholly justified - pan-continental reputation for world class reportage and which always seeks to present, fairly, both sides of any issue is biased in favour of anyone. This will not stand. They get enough of that blinkered ignorant crap from the government of this country and the lice at the Daily Scum Mail with their sinister nasty right-wing-scum agenda without anyone else joining in.

X Factor bosses have reportedly told Dannii Minogue that they will not pay for her sister, Kylie, to appear on the show. It had been rumoured that Kylie, the more famous of the Minogue sisters in case you didn't know, will again appear on the show to help Dannii choose her top finalists at the Judges Houses' stage of the competition. This is all according to the Daily Star of course so, once again, it's probably all lies. The newspaper alleges that producers at Talkback Thames have now told the judge that they will not pay for the singer to fly to Australia with Dannii's eight contestants. Instead, the Dannii has been told that they will have to fund the trip themselves if Kylie wishes join her sister. 'Dannii and Kylie are shell-shocked,' a 'source' allegedly told the paper. 'Last year Kylie helped her out and they were whisked off to Dubai for judges' homes. Now someone has cut the purse strings.' They continued: 'Dannii's been told to find someone closer to home. So it is either Natalie Imbruglia or Dame Edna!' The paper also claims that a show 'insider' told them: 'The locations and guests for judges' homes are still being sorted.'

Meanwhile, the winner of next year's X Factor will not be able to challenge for the 2011 Christmas number one, it has been revealed. Due to the launch of the US version of the singing contest, next year's ITV series will not begin until November, according to the Sun. This means that the final would not take place until March 2012, depriving the winner of the opportunity to take part in the usual end-of-year chart battle. Previous X Factor winners Shayne Ward, Leona Lewis, Leon Jackson and Alexandra Burke have all claimed the coveted festive number one spot, but last year's winner Joe McElderry lost out to Rage Against The Machine following a brilliantly orchestrated Internet campaign.

UKTV has agreed a deal with Channel 4 for thirty hours of entertainment and factual programming, including hit comedy Peep Show for Dave. The new acquisitions are part of deal negotiated last year by UKTV with Channel 4's commercial rights division, 4Rights. Under the arrangement the first five series of Peep Show will be broadcast on digital channel Dave, where they will join existing Channel 4 comedies Spaced, Black Books and Green Wing. Plus lots of Top Gear and Qi which is the main reason people watch the channel! Dave will further broadcast four Channel 4 documentaries: Super Botox Me, The Boy Who Gave Birth to His Twin, the award-winning A Boy Called Alex and Virgin School. Also in the deal, UKTV's Good Food channel will be able to broadcast the first three series of Nigella Bites. 'I'm absolutely delighted to have secured high rating titles such as Peep Show and Nigella Bites for the UKTV network,' said UKTV director of acquisitions Catherine Mackin. 'This content perfectly complements the excellent shows we acquire from the BBC plus our own growing stable of high-profile commissions.' Alison Sainsbury-Stack, 4Rights' head of UK secondary broadcast sales, added: 'UKTV's portfolio of channels are a great home for these award-winning and critically-acclaimed titles, and this deal is yet another example of 4Rights working closely with independent producers to maximise the value of their UK secondary rights.'

In a rather impassioned defence of the BBC weatherman Tomasz Schafernaker, the Telegraph's Bryony Gordon notes that 'there are far more offensive things on the BBC – anything on BBC3, for example, whose sole remit seems to be lobotomising its viewers.' So, not a big fan of the new season of Ideal then, I take it Bryony? Bit of a massive sweeping over-generalised statement to make, don't you think? Oh no, hang on you work from the Telegraph, a newspaper which specialises in exactly that sort of tutting, nose-in-the-air 'shouldn't be allowed'-malarkey. As, indeed, do the Gruniad Morning Star more often than not but, they, it would appear, are not Schafernaker's biggest fans. The Gruniad's atypically sour-faced Media Monkey blog helpfully lists a bunch of Schafernaker's other 'crimes' for all of its dreary leftie readers to have a right-good bitch about: It was Schafernaker, they caustically remind us, who dissolved into giggles on BBC Radio4 last year after a slip of the tongue 'saw him telling listeners that it would be "quite a muddy shite" at the Glastonbury festival. And Schafernaker again who couldn't stop laughing after BBC News presenter Simon McCoy suggested he had a "frozen ball."' Well, how very dare he, the sod. Let's have him flogged through the streets until he's dead for such an impertinence. Schafernaker, Monkey continues, 'as well as predicting warm fronts has quite an impressive front himself (as revealed in Attitude magazine earlier this year).' Ooo, really nice bit of almost gay-bashing from the good-old right-on Gruniad there. '[He] has also been known to break into song, read out the wrong forecast and occasionally make no sense whatsoever. He also created a minor scandal when he described part of northern Scotland as "nowheresville."' As I've said many times in the past, dear blog reader, there are plenty of good people in this world. There are some bad people and a majority of us who are somewhere in-between but are trying their best to get through life without being overtly rude or nasty and mean just for the sake of it. And then there are some people who are just, simply, scum.

Tanya Franks has defended EastEnders' current crack cocaine storyline. The actress - who plays addict Rainie Cross - insisted that if the plot saved one life, it had been worth doing. More than two hundred complaints were received by the BBC about scenes showing Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) and Rainie using the drugs last week. The acrtess Natalie Cassidy also 'blasted' (that's, err, tabloid-speak for 'complained' only with less syllables) the scenes, calling them 'outrageous. 'I wasn't surprised that people complained because it's pushed a boundary,' Tanya, allegedly, told the Sun. 'In my opinion, the good that comes from storylines like this far outweighs whatever concerns people might have.' She continued 'It's been very well-handled and as true and real as it could be before the watershed. They've been very brave with it and I give full credit to EastEnders for that.' Franks added that the plot, which is based on a real story, will have helped some viewers. 'For all the complaints there will be a lot of people who've been helped and seen the helpline information,' she said. 'If EastEnders has saved one life by putting this story out it's been worth it. We shouldn't shy away from it. The whole point of soaps is to reflect a certain amount of everyday life. Some of it is going to be light entertainment, some isn't.' She also 'hit out' at the criticism that Phil's addiction was too instant, and told how bosses at the BBC soap had put her in touch with the DrugScope charity so that she fully understood her character. She told the paper: 'From my understanding and the research I did, this drug grips you from the first hit. It is not the type of drug you can just try once. You can take it once and be addicted for a long time.'

Simon Pegg has joked that Steven Spielberg once beat him up. At least, we assuming he's joking. Pegg, who was working with the Oscar-winning director on the upcoming Tintin film, said that Spielberg showed co-star Andy Serkis exactly how Pegg's character should be assaulted. Speaking at Movie-Con, the actor said: 'There was one day where [Spielberg] actually demonstrated to Andy Serkis how Captain Haddock should beat me up. I was lying on the floor with him holding me by the lapel, shaking me, hitting me against the floor, and I was just laughing because it was fucking Steven Spielberg!' Pegg compared Spielberg's vision with that of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World director Edgar Wright, who worked with Pegg on Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and the legendary TV sitcom Spaced. He said: '[Steven]'s extraordinary. You know within five minutes of working with him why he is where he is. You look at him and you see, "You know something we don't know about how to make people feel by moving a camera around." I'm not just saying this, but I see it in Edgar sometimes. [Steven] has that. It just comes off him like a big aura.' Pegg and his regular collaborator Nick Frost play Thomson and Thompson in The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, which is due for release in the latter half of 2011. Meanwhile, Wright was interviewed on BBC Breakfast the other day and 'exclusively' revealed that he and Pegg are currently in the panning stages for another movie 'which will feature Simon and Nick.' Hurrah.

A man has admitted common assault after Coronation Street star Simon Gregson was punched in the face in a nightclub in Cumbria. The actor, who plays Steve McDonald in the ITV soap, got into a row with Reece Barnes, over an empty seat in the Wheelhouse Club in Bowness on 29 May. Magistrates were told that Barnes, from Windermere, hit Mr Gregson in the face. The eighteen-year-old pleaded guilty to common assault and was sentenced to a twelve-month conditional discharge. He was also ordered to pay eighty five pounds in costs, one hundred pounds in compensation and given a six-month banning order from the nightclub. South Lakeland Magistrates' Court was told that Mr Gregson had sat down on a seat which Barnes said he was saving for a friend. Witnesses reported that Barnes threw the first punch and the pair had to be separated. He was then ejected from the venue.

The average Briton spends almost half of their waking life using media and communications, data suggests. The statistics from regulator Ofcom suggest people in the UK spend seven hours a day watching TV, surfing the net and using their mobile phones. Is that all? Bloody hell, this blogger must be bumping the national average up a bit. However, the average person actually squeezes in the equivalent of nearly nine hours of media and communications by multi-tasking on several devices. The statistics come from industry sources and a survey of over eleven hundred adults. The report also suggests that traditional media is holding its own. Television still dominates people's media habits, with the average person spending around 3.8 hours watching television every day, it says. 'For the first time we have mapped the totality of communications use over one day,' said Peter Philips of Ofcom. The annual Communications Market Report says that the average person spends around fifteen hours forty five minutes every day awake. Of this time, it says, the average person spends seven hours and five minutes 'engaging in media and communications activities.' However, it found that most people are able to cram in even more by multi-tasking. For example, the report found that adults aged between sixteen and twenty four appeared to consume the least, spending just six hours and thirty five minutes a day on the phone, laptop, radio or television.

The piper who played his comrades ashore during the D-Day landings has died aged eighty eight. Bill Millin was ordered to keep playing his bagpipes to boost morale as fellow soldiers were killed around him. His actions were later immortalised in the film The Longest Day. Millin, a Scot, lived in Devon for forty five years. He moved to a nursing home in Dawlish after suffering a major stroke seven years ago. His family released a brief statement: 'This morning following a short illness piper Bill Millin, a great Scottish hero, passed peacefully away in Torbay hospital.' Millin was serving with First Commando Brigade when he landed at Sword Beach in Normandy on 6 June 1944. His commanding officer, Lord Lovat, asked him to ignore instructions banning the playing of bagpipes in battle and requested he play to rally his comrades. Millin marched up and down the shore in his kilt piping 'Highland Laddie.' He continued to play as his friends fell around him and later moved inland to pipe the troops acrosa Pegasus Bridge, playing 'Blue Bonnets Over the Border.' He later said: 'Lord Lovat said this was going to be the greatest invasion in the history of warfare and he wanted the bagpipes leading it. He said I was to play and he would worry about the consequences later. As [his fellow soliders] moved off I found myself left on my own. No one told me to stop playing, so I had to run after them and catch them up.' His bagpipes were finally silenced four days later when they were hit by a piece of shrapnel. In 1962 Cornelius Ryan's book The Longest Day was adapted into a film. The part of the piper who accompanied Lovat's commandos was played by Pipe Major Leslie de Laspee, the official piper to the Queen Mother.

Billy Connolly and Sir Alex Ferguson were among those who paid tribute at the funeral of Jimmy Reid this week. The comedian was a friend and fellow shipyard worker in the 1970's, whilst the Manchester United manager grew up with Reid in Glasgow's Govan district. They were joined by Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and the former prime minister Gordon Brown. An initial service was held in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute where Reid lived in late life, until he died aged seventy eight, following a short illness. His funeral cortege then left on a ferry to the Scottish mainland and was given a police escort to Govan, the area of Glasgow where Reid grew up and made his name as a trade union leader in the Clyde shipyards. As the cortege passed the shipyards on its way to Govan Old Parish Church, the yard's horn sounded and the workers downed tools and lined the street as a mark of respect. It was in the same yards in 1971 that Reid - whose intellect and fearsome oratory skills as a champion of the underpriviliged won him admirers from right across the political spectrum - led a shipbuilders' protest against closure moves by Edward Heath's Conservative government. Rather than go on strike, the workers staged a 'work-in' to demonstrate the yards' economic viability and the Heath administration was forced into a humiliating back-down. Addressing the workforce at the time, Reid famously proclaimed: 'There will be no hooliganism, there will be no vandalism, there will be no bevvying because the world is watching us. It is our responsibility to conduct ourselves with responsibility, with dignity and with maturity.' Television footage of the speech led to a huge surge of public support and struck a chord with the Scottish public, and beyond. Sixty thousand marched through Glasgow in support of the shipbuilders and the Scottish Daily Express - never the most radical of media organs - gave supportive coverage. Billy Connolly and Matt McGinn, both former shipyard workers, entertained the protesters and a cheque for five thousand pounds arrived from John Lennon and Yoko Ono. (One rather deaf shop steward reportedly commented: 'It canna be from Lenin — he's deed.') Even one Conservative association is said to have contributed. Reid and his fellow shop-stewards kept the men working until, in February 1972, Heath backed down, announcing a thirty five million pound injection into three of the yards: Govan, Scotstoun and Clydebank. The first two are still building ships today, as part of BAE Systems. The 'work-in' not only contributed to Heath's U-turn, it also heightened economic nationalism in Scotland, accelerated the drastic fall in Conservative support north of the border and turned Tony Benn from a moderate radical on the centre left of British politics into a fanatical supporter of union militancy, with serious consequences for the future of the Labour Party. Reid himself later accused Benn of having had 'more conversions on the road to Damascus than a Syrian long-distance truck driver.' Reid also served as Rector of the University of Glasgow, being elected in 1971, largely on the back of his union activities. When installed as Rector he gave another critically acclaimed oration to graduating students, which became known as 'the rat-race speech,' an essay on the horrors of alienation and how society can depersonalise the unwary individual which was at least a decade ahead of its time in socio-political terms. The New York Times printed it in full and described it as 'the greatest speech since President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.' It's truly extraordinary, life-affirming stuff and if you ever get the chance to read the full text, please take it. This is just a sample: 'A rat-race is for rats. We are not rats. We are human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion and self-advancement. This is how it starts, and before you know where you are, you're a fully paid-up member of the rat-pack. The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit. Or as Christ put it, "What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?"' Jimmy Reid was born in Govan on 9 July 1932. He left school at fourteen to work in the yards his intellectualism being almost entirely self-taught. His political journey took him from the Communist Party - for whom he stood for parliament in Central Dunbartonshire at the February 1974 election, polling almost six thousand votes - to Labour before joining the SNP in 2005. The 1974 campaign was horribly bitter one, Reid denouncing the local Labour machine, with its strong ties to the Catholic Church, as 'Falangists.' Clydebank's Labour councillors tried to unseat Reid for not attending meetings; he fought back, accusing them of corruption, drunkenness and being Tammany Hall-style politicians interested only in status. Reid's experiences as a committed man of the left were best expressed in his 1976 memoir, Jimmy Reid: Reflections Of A Clyde-Built Man. The same year, he quit the Communists — a 'heart-wrenching decision', he said — in protest at its rigid laying-down of policy, saying: 'The Left should be the custodians of democracy.' Eighteen months later he applied to join the Labour Party. His local branch, recalling his earlier jibes, rejected him but the Central Dunbartonshire constituency gladly allowed him in. He immediately proved his worth by swinging votes to Donald Dewar in a by-election at Garscadden that Labour looked set to lose. Salmond said of him: 'Jimmy Reid he has been Scotland's great rallying figure over the last four decades, and was one of the few Scottish political figures who can genuinely say that they provoked real change for the better in society - always addressing both a Scottish and international audience. Above all, Jimmy was a warm, humorous, and generous human being.' Frequently referred to as 'the best MP Scotland never had,' by using his oratory, erudition and political skills, Reid embarked on a new career in the 1980s as a journalist and broadcaster, writing opinion columns for a variety of newspapers, including the Daily Mirror, the Glasgow Herald, the Sun and the Scotsman. He also presented a chat-show called The Reid Report for Grampian Television. In 1984 he wrote and presented a series of documentaries entitled Reid About the USSR when his former status within the Communist Party gave him unprecedented access and resulted in two BAFTA awards. One of his most memorable broadcasts was for Channel 4, in the early evening comment slot, when he attacked Arthur Scargill over the miners' strike. Never a man to mince his words when he felt it justified, Reid accused Scargill of betraying his members: 'Arthur Scargill's leadership of the miners' strike has been a disgrace. The price to be paid for his folly will be immense. He will have destroyed the NUM as an effective fighting force within British trade unionism for the next twenty years. If kamikaze pilots were to form their own union, Arthur would be an ideal choice for leader.' He was also a regular guest of his friend Michael Parkinson's chat-show, including the memorable edition, in 1973, when he debated trade unionism with the furiously right-wing Kenneth Williams and easily won the ensuing argument with a relaxed charm that Williams found impossible to shout-down. Parky tells a wonderful story about how, before the episode was recorded, during a sound-level test Williams recited some poetry. Reid correctly spotted that it was a piece written by WB Yeats and responded by delivering a beautiful stanza of his own. Williams didn't recognise it and asked who had written it. 'I did,' replied yer man Jimmy. Class! Jimmy's wife, Joan and his three daughters survive him.