Thursday, January 13, 2011

People Are Looking But They Don't Know What To Do

The BBC has announced that it will broadcast the entire 2011 Formula One season in high definition following a deal with Formula One Management. Starting in March, coverage of the Formula One Championship will be shown in HD for the first time on BBC1 HD. F1 will join an expanding line-up of sports broadcast by the BBC in HD, including Wimbledon, live golf, the Grand National and the Six Nations rugby tournament. 'Along with many, many HD viewers, I'm delighted that we'll have a chance next season to see Formula One in all its glory on television,' said Danielle Nagler, the head of BBC HD. 'It's fantastic news that FOM has decided to greenlight HD broadcasts, and we're looking forward to sharing with the fans all the races in all their detail.' The BBC has also announced that Eddie Jordan will return to the F1 presentation team this year in an expanded role as 'primary analyst.' The former F1 team boss will assume more responsibilities in response to fellow analyst David Coulthard taking on commentary duties alongside new lead commentator Martin Brundle. 'It's fantastic that Eddie is rejoining the team, and this year in a more expanded role. He's such a core character with his outspoken views, unrivalled contacts in the sport and his ability to unearth the stories from the paddock,' said Ben Gallop, the BBC's head of F1. 'We're also delighted to be broadcasting in HD, something we know fans have been waiting for and it will really add something extra to our coverage for 2011.' Jordan added: 'It's been a great two years so far and I'm really looking forward to getting back on the circuit, the 2011 season looks like it has plenty in store for us all. The new set-up will give me even more opportunity to get to the heart of the issues in Formula 1 and tell the real stories to the viewers.'

The BBC will seek additional cost savings of twenty per cent – about four hundred million pounds – by the end of the recently negotiated licence fee settlement in April 2017. The BBC is making the cuts in order to fund the cost of taking on the additional responsibilities handed to it in the licence fee settlement negotiated with the government in October, including funding the World Service. Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, told staff today he is setting a stiffer savings target than the sixteen per cent cuts originally anticipated in order to meet those commitments. The director general told staff that he wanted to make deeper savings to free up cash for investment in new technology or content at a future date. Under the new funding deal agreed with the government, the licence fee will be frozen at £145.50 until 2017, a sixteen per cent reduction in real terms, following frantic negotiations in the run up to chancellor George Osborne's comprehensive spending review announcement in late October. Thompson said finding the money needed to fund the World Service and other commitments, including providing most of Welsh language broadcaster S4C's budget, cannot be done through efficiency savings alone. The BBC has said it will reduce overheads, which have already fallen from twenty four per cent of its income to twelve per cent, to ten per cent or below so that ninety per cent of licence fee money is spent on making content and delivering it to viewers. Further savings will be made by cutting the senior management pay bill by twenty five per cent by December 2011 and reducing the amount spent on online services by twenty five per cent. In addition to that, back office functions, including HR and finance, will be expected to find savings of twenty five per cent and 'output areas' – programming and content – will have to slash budgets by twenty per cent. Half of those budget cuts will come from efficiency savings but half would have to come from 'doing less,' Thompson said. He is launching a consultation with staff and asking them for ideas on how this can be achieved. Thompson also ruled out closing any services or channels, despite an apparent suggestion from the BBC Trust yesterday that this might be the best way of achieving the necessary cuts - interpreted by various glakes in the media as a signal that BBC3 and BBC4 might be under threat. Better luck next time, guys. The BBC Trust today issued a statement clarifying yesterday's comments by the outgoing chairman, Sir Michael Lyons. And, frankly, the sooner that spineless coward out goes, the better. 'The trust has never suggested that the executive should close any individual service,' a BBC Trust spokeswoman said. 'This is the start of the process: we now await the director general's suggestions for how to implement the new licence fee settlement and the principles of the new strategy set out by the trust at the end of last year.' Caroline Thomson, the BBC's chief operating officer, will hold a series of 'town hall meetings' with staff in an effort to build a consensus about where the cuts should fall. BBC managers will then make a series of recommendations to the BBC Trust in the summer.

Three more cable networks have passed on troubled mini-series The Kennedys in an ongoing saga that is looking like being far more interesting than the actual show itself. The eight-part drama, which stars Greg Kinnear as John Kennedy and Katie Holmes as his wife Jackie, was recently dropped by the History channel. The Hollywood Reporter now claims that Starz, Showtime and FX have turned down the opportunity to broadcast the show. Since HBO is currently developing its own project focusing on the Kennedys. A straight-to-DVD release is also thought to be a strong possibility if The Kennedys cannot find a broadcaster.

The BBC has confirmed that Being Human will begin its third series on 23 January. The supernatural drama, which stars Russell Tovey, Lenora Crichlow and Aidan Turner, will return to its Sunday night slot on BBC3. Ex-EastEnders star Lacey Turner will make her debut appearance as Lia in the opening episode of the series. Creator and writer Toby Whithouse claimed: 'It is, without doubt, our best series yet.'

Kudos is developing two major drama series for the BBC, including a swashbuckling pirate adventure with a modern feel. The Scrimshaw Pirates is a thirteen episode 'Pirates of the Caribbean'-style series created and written by Danny Brown (Hustle) and Pete Bowker (author of Blackpool, Occupation and Eric & Ernie). It will tell traditional pirate tales and legends, while giving 'them a suspenseful and witty spin for a global contemporary audience,' said one of Kudos' managing director Daniel Isaacs. The series will follow Jeb - the only son of Bluebeard - on his quest to reclaim The Scrimshaw, the ship which is rightfully his. It is part of his ambition to become 'One True King of the Pirates and Keeper of the Seven Seas' before the ruthless Whaler can claim the title. Yar. Kudos is looking for co-producers and pre-sales at MipTV in Cannes this week.

A new adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations and a 'blue-collar' series about prisoners' wives are among a broad first raft of drama commissions by Danny Cohen for BBC1. Cohen has ordered five new series to broadcast in 2011 and 2012, which he said were indicative of 'the range and creative ambition we want BBC1 drama to capture in the coming years.' He added that there were great opportunities on BBC1 for new writers. Great Expectations has been adapted by Sarah Phelps (Oliver Twist, EastEnders) and will be made in-house. It will be broadcast this Christmas ahead of the bicentenary of Dickens' birth. Also from in-house is One Night a four part serial by new writer Paul Smith, which follows four people whose lives are linked by a seemingly unimportant event. Each episode looks at one character's story, telling the events of a single night from four perspectives. The series will also be broadcast this autumn. Bound (still a working title, apparently) is based around a group of women whose husbands are in jail. The six part series shows 'a new commitment to blue-collar drama,' said Cohen, and is writer Julie Geary's first original drama. It will be made by Tiger Aspect Productions and is slated for early 2012. Expected to broadcast during the same period, Call The Midwife is a six episode drama based on a memoir by Jennifer Worth of life as a 1950s midwife in London's East End. It has been adapted by Heidi Thomas (Upstairs Downstairs, Cranford) and will be made by Neal Street Productions. Finally, the contemporary spy series Morton, written by Frank Spotnitz, is an eight part drama and will be made by Kudos, the producer of [spooks], which has just been commissioned for a tenth series.

Bill Bailey is to track baboons in South Africa and Ronnie Corbett will embark on a tour of Britain as part of a raft of celebrity-led factual commissions for ITV. In his first project for the broadcaster, Bailey will present the series Baboons With Bill Bailey, which will examine several colonies which live within the Cape Town area. The light-hearted show, likely to air at 7.30pm, is produced by ITV Studios and reveals how groups of the animal are surviving in urban territories, including through hand-outs from inquisitive tourists. It is Bailey's second wildlife documentary, following his series Birdwatching Bonanza for Sky 1 last year. The series will be executive produced by Andrea Cornes. ITVS is also producing the two part Ronnie Corbett's Comedy Tour Of Britain, where the comedian will explore the history of British comedy alongside some of the country's top performers. Corbett will also reflect on his own career for the prime time show, which will be executive produced by ITVS's head of arts and popular culture Jonathan Levi. In addition, morning chat show host Jeremy Kyle is to take on an early evening project as he goes behind the scenes of renowned military driving centre the Defence School of Transport, in Yorkshire. The six part Military Driving School - also produced by ITVS - sees Kyle meet service personnel enrolled in any number of the one hundred and fourteen different training courses on army vehicles. Kyle will also learn to drive some of the vehicles himself for the series, which will be executive produced by Cornes. All the series were ordered by Diana Howie, factual commissioning editor and the director of factual and daytime Alison Sharman.

David Lynch has revealed that he is a big fan of Mad Men. The Twin Peaks co-creator told ShortList that he also enjoyed meeting the AMC show's stars Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss. Lynch said: 'I like Mad Men. They're great characters and whoever cast that show did a sensational job. It's great writing, great atmosphere. I had the opportunity to meet Peggy Olsen (Moss) and Don Draper (Hamm). That's who they are to me. I called Peggy, "Peggy."' Lynch also claimed that he is not constantly badgered to return to Twin Peaks, despite the show's enduring cult popularity.

It would appear that ITV's solution to poor ratings is Holding Out For A Hero, a brand new prime time game show pilot for ITV, hosted by Gethin Jones. In this, contestants don't play to win themselves a prize, they play to win a life changing sum of money for someone else. Unlike on other quiz show, these three amazing contestants are not playing for greed - it says here - but, rather, to make someone else's dream come true. Whatever money they win, they will be handing over to their recipient - a deserving person with an amazing story who has no idea someone has decided to be their hero. In an emotional finale each of the contestants hand over a surprise cheque, with one super-hero winning an amount that will change their recipient's life forever. So, that's a normal game show crossed with The Sceret Millionaire, essentially.

According to Lee Mack, his comedy ambitions were fired at an early age. 'I wanted to do it from when I was fourteen but I didn't get on stage till I was twenty five,' he told Metro. 'I just didn't know how to go about becoming a comedian. There were no comedy clubs in the north-west in the 1980s. The first gig I went to had Steve Coogan and Eddie Izzard. It was one of the best nights of my life. I had this idea they were backstage being mentally superior. I thought to get on stage you must be completely mentally secure. Now I know all comedians are a bit bonkers.' When asked if he had been bothered by Keith Chegwin allegedly stealing some of his jokes on Twitter last year, Lee replied: 'No, that was the story in the papers but he didn't actually nick any of my jokes. I'm more bothered about Twitter. The default position now is that comedians do Twitter but I don't know why. Every bad story you see about a comedian has a connection to Twitter. Before Twitter, if comedians wrote what they had for lunch on a Post-it and put it through your letterbox you wouldn't find it acceptable - but now, apparently it is on Twitter. And why would you want people sending you messages saying: "Your new TV show is shit?"'

The lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious Jeremy Hunt, said on Tuesday that he expects his decision on whether to allow the proposed takeover of BSkyB by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to be judicially challenged whatever decision he comes to. He made the comments during a debate on the future of the media at the London School of Economics, which was interrupted by student protesters who questioned the vile and odious Hunt's neutrality on the decision. The vile and odious Hunt was chosen to scrutinise the BSkyB takeover after the equally vile if marginally less odious Vince Cable was removed from the role because of comments he made to undercover reporters saying he had 'declared war' on Murdoch. Whose vileness and odiousness puts the vile and odious Hunt into some necessary context. But the vile and odious Hunt's ability to make an impartial decision was itself called into question after it emerged he had held a private meeting with the media tycoon's son, James (vile and odious, of course), last June, shortly after the bid was first announced. The vile and odious Hunt told the LSE audience he could not provide 'a running commentary' on what was a quasi-judicial process. 'I can't get drawn on this, sorry,' he said. 'This is a decision that is likely to be judicially challenged by the side that is disappointed.' Asked what his initial reaction was to the decision being passed to him, in the first place he laughed and said: 'OMG.' Instead of just answering the question properly. The vile and odious Hunt refused to be drawn on a timetable for his decision on whether to refer the matter to the Competition Commission. 'This is a very, very hot potato and I'm aware of what happens if you hold a hot potato in your hand for too long,' he said. The vile and odious Hunt also described the decision by the publisher of the Daily Express to pull out of the Press Complaints Commission as 'curious and regrettable.' It emerged this week that Northern & Shell, which is run by Richard Desmond and publishes the Daily Lies, Lies on Sunday and OK! magazine, had stopped paying funds to the Press Standards Board of Finance, which in turn pays for the work of the PCC. That means its newspapers and magazines will no longer be covered by the regulator. The vile and odious Hunt said the decision raised the possibility of statutory regulation replacing the self-regulating PCC. He said: 'I would think the last thing he would want is statutory regulation and, by undermining the system of self-regulation, he risks bringing that a step closer. I think it was a curious and regrettable decision.' The debate was interrupted after twenty minutes when about thirty student demonstrators walked into the hall and began to barrack the vile and odious Hunt, chanting 'Minister of culture, Tory vulture' and 'Tory scum.' They questioned whether the vile and odious Hunt could be a neutral judge of the proposed takeover. The protesters, who were booed by some of the audience but, perhaps significantly, not by others, left voluntarily after about ten minutes having made their point. The vile and odious Hunt laughed off the demonstration, in that infuriatingly smug way of his, saying that the LSE had a 'great role as the crucible of free speech.' A poll carried out in December found strong public support for an independent investigation into the takeover. The poll, by ICM for an alliance of rival media organisations, found sixty three per cent of those questioned believed that there should be an independent investigation into the News Corp bid.

Channel Four is to stage a battle between Allied and German tanks as part of an ambitious follow-up to war-time documentary Blitz Street. The six part The Last War Heroes (working title) will show the devastation caused by World War II weaponry and is being made by Impossible Pictures with Canadian production company Entertainment One Television. It is backed by C4 and History Channel Canada. The show will be on a much grander scale than Impossible's Blitz Street and will trace the Allied troops' push from the D-Day landings to the invasion of Berlin and the weapons used. Heavy artillery, mines, sniper rifles, tanks and carpet bombing will all feature. Tony Robinson, who hosted Blitz Street, is not involved in this project. Instead, interviews with veterans will be cut with archive footage, provided by the Imperial War Museum, before modern technology shows viewers the impact of the weapons in a variety of controlled explosions. The Last War Heroes will be shot in HD at one million frames per second to clearly show effects such as bullets hitting a landing craft and 'peeling like a banana.' Just like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, in other words. Impossible's executive producer Paul Wooding is currently researching locations to shoot the series in Canada. He said: 'It will be a landmark series told through the eyes of the soldiers. It's a very emotional story made more powerful by illustrating the terrible weapons used.' David Glover, specialist factual commissioning editor for Channel Four, said that the series was 'a radical approach to bringing historical testimony to life.' The series is also set to be picked up for second-window rights by UKTV history channel Yesterday. The series will be broadcast towards the end of the year.

The producer of CSI: Miami has confirmed that series star Adam Rodriguez will write and direct a forthcoming episode. The actor, who plays Eric Delko, will helm the sixteenth episode of the show's ninth season, expected to be broadcast in March. 'It's going to be a real high-octane episode,' Barry O'Brien told TV Guide. 'It starts with a victim crossbowed to a tree in the Everglades, and it's literally an action movie from the first frame. It's really an exciting event for us.' Rodriguez recently rejoined the show as a regular cast member, having played a recurring role in season eight. The episode will mark his writing and directing debut.

Neil Gaiman is to turn yellow for an appear in an episode of The Simpsons. The legendary Sandman writer announced his guest appearance on Twitter. 'Went to the Marge Simpson Studios,' he wrote. 'Recorded my part as "Neil Gaiman, a British author." The accent was the hardest bit to get right.' Neil also posted a photograph of the script for the episode titled The Book of Job, reports ComicsAlliance. Gaiman will join the ranks of fellow comic creators Alan Moore, Daniel Clowes and Art Spiegelman, who have previously loaned their voices to the show. The trio made cameos in a 2007 Simpsons, Husbands and Knives. Gaiman has, of course, also written an episode for the new series of Doctor Who, to be broadcast later this year.

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has confirmed that Steve Thompson will write an episode for the show's next run. He told Doctor Who Magazine that Thompson's script will be broadcast third in the series, with Neil Gaiman's contribution moving to fourth place. The episode written by Mark Gatiss will move to the second half of the series. Thompson previously wrote the second episode of Sherlock and has also worked on Doctors and The Whistleblowers. Moffat explained to the magazine that the changes were made to balance the look of the series, following concerns that there was 'not enough outside' in the first half of the run.

Miranda Hart has said that female comedians are given a rougher ride than men because they are always judged on their looks. Hart said she hates looking in the mirror – and had to stop reading her reviews because they always mentioned the way she appears. The thirty eight-year-old said: 'As a woman, it seems you can't just be a comedian, you're always classed as something else too, whether that's "beautiful," "pint-sized," "larger-than-life" or in my case "Hattie Jacques-esque," "the giraffe." A fat male comedian isn't "a fat comedian," he's just a comedian. It's really frustrating. I know I set it up in a way because my character is an eater, and I've made a few jokes about my height, but I'm not saying these things are negative or character defining. I'm embracing them. I used to read [reviews], but I had to stop after a while. One of those comments is okay, you can deal with it, but if you read sixty even the strongest person would start feeling low.' She told Stylist magazine that she especially disliked the constant references to Hattie Jaques – the subject of a BBC4 drama next week. 'For the record she was a comedy goddess, but she was twenty five stone. I hope I'm right in saying I'm not in any way nearly twenty five stone,' Hart said.

Meanwhile, the BBC has just ordered a third series of Miranda – which could transfer to BBC1. And, to be honest, it really wouldn't be a surprise if it did. TV industry magazine Broadcast reports that BBC1 controller Danny Cohen is 'keen to poach the show,' as there are few mainstream comedies on his channel. The second series of Miranda which has just ended averaged 3.2 million viewers and peaked at 4.3million for the final episode – an excellent showing for BBC2 – while winning critical plaudits for its broad popular appeal. However, Miranda Hart herself has previously said it's 'very hard, very stressful and very lonely' writing the series. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'We are delighted that Miranda will be continuing to create fabulous comedy for the BBC and as yet there have not been detailed discussions about which channel she may appear on.'

Torchwood creator Russell Davies has insisted that the show's fourth series is not a reboot. The new ten-part run, Miracle Day, will be broadcast on BBC1 in the UK and Starz in the US. 'It's been off air for a couple of years and actually that shows on-screen,' Davies told AOL Television. 'But importantly for fans, there's not a glitch. It's literally the same show.' However, the writer admitted that he is keen to attract new viewers to the show. 'With a new channel and a new start, it could be brand new for you,' he said. 'There are new characters who know nothing about Torchwood. They're like the new audience. [New viewers] can all come and join in. Part of the legend of the first episode is digging up the mystery of Torchwood.' He also revealed that the final episode of previous mini-series Children of Earth was intended as a possible series finale. Which was fairly obvious for anybody who watched it. 'Children of Earth sort of ended in disaster, death and tragedy and that could have been the end,' he explained. 'We literally thought if that [series] hadn't worked, we'd be sitting here mourning and still crying [at] something [that] had been killed in its prime. It was a nice, decent ending if it needed to be, thank God, it's come back.' And, before you ask, no Ianto isn't come back. Now, grow up!

ITV staff have voted to accept a three per cent pay increase following a round of balloting at the trade unions, offsetting the threat of strike action. In December, trade union members at BECTU, the National Union of Journalists and Unite were balloted on the broadcaster's pay offer for this year. The unions had initially called on ITV to offer a pay increase in line with inflation, up to four-and-a-half per cent on the latest figures, but ITV warned that the outlook for 2011 was still uncertain. The broadcaster offered to provide most staff with a three per cent consolidated pay increase, along with one hundred and twenty pounds in shares and onew hundred and eighty pounds in cash, subject to eligibility rules. Following final ballots last week, BECTU said that its members have voted to accept the offer by four to one, meaning the pay increase will come into effect from 1 January. Members of the NUJ and Unite also 'voted strongly' to accept ITV's offer.

A couple of pieces of slacious gossip from Metro's The Green Room now. According to gossip columnist Neil Sean, Gillian McKeith was overhead moaning that she has yet to benefit from her stint on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... 'I thought I would get lots of offers,' she is reported as saying. Meanwhile, Kara Tointon and Strictly Come Dancing beau Artem Chigvintsev are 'already bickering,' according to yer man Sean. '"He liked her more when the cameras were there," a source says.' Meee-ow. Neil also poses a question to which, I assume, the vast majority of right-minded people would hope the answer to be "yes," 'Could Piers Morgan's new show be doomed?' Oh, if only wishing made it so. 'His interviews are never live as "they play better," Neil suggests. 'But insiders say "he can't cut it live."'

NBC has decided not to proceed with a remake of The Rockford Files. Last year, Dermot Mulroney was dropped from the project following a failed pilot and former Lost actor Josh Holloway was rumoured to be under consideration for the lead role of Jim Rockford. Deadline now reports that House creator David Shore has pulled out of the reboot in order to focus on the second half of that show's seventh season, which is undergoing significant rewrites. The project may be revisited next season if NBC is still interested in proceeding. The original Rockford Files ran on the network from 1974 to 1980 and starred James Garner as the private detective.

House's executive producer David Shore has revealed that he would love Amber Tamblyn to remain on the show. Tamblyn joined the programme this season as Martha Masters, a third-year medical student who arrives as a replacement for Thirteen. 'I love Amber Tamblyn,' Shore told E! Online. 'I would love to work with her and I'd love to continue to work with her. Whether or not she wants to work with us or not, she's great. And it's been fun working with her.'

Paula Abdul has compared her former American Idol co-star Simon Cowell to fungus. No further comment necessary.

Dita Von Teese has revealed that network executives were worried by how much cleavage she was showing during a guest role on CSI. The burlesque star - who appears in upcoming episode A Kiss Before Frying - said that bosses ordered her to wear less revealing clothing for her role as a school teacher turned nightclub dancer. Von Teese told TV Guide: 'There was a lot of network talk about my "offensive cleavage," which I found interesting considering how much blood and gore there is. We had to take it down a notch.' The thirty eight-year-old went on to say that she was pleased with her performance and is looking forward to watching the completed episode. 'I think it is important to try new things and I hope my efforts come off well,' she said. 'This was a much bigger role than I originally thought.'

Kiefer Sutherland has signed up to star in a new online series. Entertainment Weekly reports that The Confession, which will comprise ten five-to-seven-minute episodes, features Sutherland as a hitman who speaks to his priest about why his victims deserved to die. Veteran British actor John Hurt has signed up to play the priest and the show is written by Brad Mirman. The series, which was shot in New York last month, is also expected to feature flashbacks. 'In all fairness, it looks fantastic,' Sutherland said. 'We shot it in the fifth-largest snowstorm. It was amazing. We called on a lot of favours. A dollar is a dollar. It gets you what you get. There's no way around that, so you're phoning dear friends for favours. None of us were paid what we normally get paid. Everybody found their own challenge in it, and that was the reason to do it. All of us believe very strongly that the internet is the future, the largest network in the world, with the ability to reach a big audience.'

The creator of hit ITV drama Downton Abbey has taken his seat in the House of Lords as a Conservative peer. Director and Oscar-winning screenwriter Lord Snooty, Julian Fellowes swore his allegiance to the Queen in a brief ceremony shortly after 10:45 on Wednesday. Lord Snooty of West Stafford, whose title comes from the Dorset village where he lives, was one of fifty four new parasites on good hard tax-paying people announced by No 10 in November. The sixty one-year-old is a long-standing Tory supporter. He helped write speeches for former leader Iain Duncan Smith and is an acclaimed chronicler of the upper classes, winning an Oscar in 2002 for writing the screenplay for Robert Altman's film Gosford Park.

FOX has reportedly ordered a new half-hour comedy pilot titled I Hate My Teenage Daughter. The project will be produced and written by The New Adventures of Old Christine executives Sherry Bilsing-Graham and Ellen Kreamer, according to Entertainment Weekly. Kreamer also wrote eight episodes of the CBS sitcom, while Bilsing-Graham previously worked on NBC's Friends and its spin-off Joey. Though the less said about the latter the better, frankly, since even its star, Matt La Blanc, has spent time in every interview he's given recently to disown it! Their new sitcom will focus on two women who are shocked when they realise that their daughters are turning into the type of mean girls that previously tormented them in their youth.

The BBC Trust has said that the BBC's on-demand content should only be made available via BBC iPlayer rather than on a programme-by-programme basis, seemingly ruling out the possibility of an on-demand deal with Sky. In a statement ealier this week, the BBC's governing body provisionally concluded that on-demand BBC shows should only be offered to TV platform operators through the iPlayer catch-up service. That would mean operators such as Sky and Virgin Media would be unable to syndicate BBC shows within their own branded catch-up platforms. The Trust also said that iPlayer must be offered in 'standard formats that the great majority of other TV operators can readily adopt.' Bespoke or tailored versions of iPlayer should only be developed 'in exceptional cases,' presumably due to the extra cost involved. A consultation on the BBC's proposed new syndication policy has been launched as part of the Trust's ongoing review. The policy governs how on-demand, or catch up content is made available for distribution on platforms such as Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin. 'As the number of platforms and the popularity of on-demand TV grows, ensuring that licence fee payers have convenient access to all the BBC's services on demand is vital to the BBC's ability to fulfil its public purposes,' said BBC Trustee Diane Coyle, who led the syndication policy review. 'Since the iPlayer first launched in 2007, watching programmes this way has become a routine part of many people's viewing habits. But we know that audiences get the most out of BBC programmes when they access them in a context that is consistent, familiar, distinctive and free to air, like the iPlayer. Our provisional conclusions reflect the importance of delivering programmes in this trusted public space.' Coyle added: 'The BBC must continue to deliver what licence fee payers want while also delivering value for money and protecting the BBC's brand. We're now seeking views on these proposed changes to the syndication policy to help the BBC meet that challenge in an on-demand world.' Virgin Media's TV platform hosts all of the catch-up services offered by the public service broadcasters - the BBC, ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five - but Sky has taken a different tact. The satellite broadcaster relies on its Sky+ timeshift service for viewers to record programming, rather than offering dedicated catch-up resources such as iPlayer. That means users have to make a concerted effort to record content or they will miss out entirely. Sky director of TV product development Brian Lenz recently said that talks are 'ongoing' with all the main PSBs about getting their catch-up content on the Sky platform. However, this ruling by the Trust appears to cast doubt on the chances of a deal with the BBC. Asked whether the impasse over iPlayer rests with the BBC or Sky, Lenz said: 'To be one hundred per cent fair, it's both sides. Both of us have views.'

And now, for a new (and possibly recurring) feature on From The North - 'great forgotten TV theme tunes of the past.' To start off, here's one from Australia; ABC's cricket coverage during the early 1970s (both of TV and radio) always begin like this. Nice tie, Richie! Anyway, the music - which yer Keith Telly Topping took several years to even identify, is by the great John Barry, from the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack and is called 'Florida Fantasy.' Not quite as seminal as 'Soul Limbo,' admittedly, but still charming and lovely in its own way. Bringing back memories - as it does - of the young Keith Telly Topping getting up at half-past six on some bone-chilling morning in the depths of the 1974-75 English winter (on a school day, an'all). To turn on the radio and hear about the latest England batsman to have his manhood rearranged by Lillie and Thomson at Brisbane. Happy days.

A court ruling published in Cologne yesterday has stated that German firms can force their female employees to wear bras. The case was brought over an employment agreement for an airport passenger security check firm, The Local reports. Documents stated that workers must wear white or nude-coloured bras or undershirts 'to preserve the orderly appearance of employer-provided uniforms' and the court ruled that such a request was not a violation of personal rights. The North Rhine-Westphalia state labour court also found that companies can regulate the length of their staff's fingernails to protect customers from injury. Additionally, companies can require men to be clean shaven or have a well-groomed beard, and all staff to have 'hair that is always clean, never worn looking unwashed or oily.' Or zey vill be taken in ze night. Or something. However, companies cannot issue rules on their employees' hair or nail colour.

Which brings us to yer Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day. And, as promised yesterday we are here to remind those indulging in the long-hair 'thing' to, you know, get it cut, you hippies! Take Planty, Pagey and chums.Fine tune, admittedly. (Willie Dixon, wasn't it?) And, you may, indeed, have been 'a golden God', Sir Robert, and fully able to squeeze some lemons awl dahn yaw'ah leeeeeg. And all that malarkey. But, it is this blogger's considered opinion that you'd've look a whole hell of a lot better with nice neat trim of your barnet. And as for the hairy dudes in the audience, stop smoking that stuff, it's illegal. And, then, as if that isn't bad enough, there's this bunch of reprobates. Mr Blackmore, Mr Gillan, the other three. Sirs, please remember, scissors can be your friend. And, as for the blokes in Atomic Rooster...Fierce single boys but, oh cor blimey look at those locks. Oi! Vincent Crane! No! Get your bleedin' 'air cut, young man! Perhaps, Primal Scream were right all along and there really is only one answer when all is said and done. See. Check out young Bobby, all you aspiring rock and/or rollers. Short back and sides and a dab of the old Brylcream, that's what The Kidz want.