Monday, February 14, 2011

Old Things There Are Not Forgotten

It's a new week, dear blog reader and what better way to start in than with the funniest Stephen Colbert parody of FOX's Bill O'Reilly in a very long time. 'How come Mars doesn't have a moon? Except for the two that it does have!' There really is very little in life that is more amusing than watching some humorless, full-of-their-own-importance right-wing scumbag bullyboy taken down a peg or two by having a piss ironically ripped out of them by, apparently straight-faced, parody. It's an art in and of itself. Who said the Americans don't do satire?

Coronation Street character Sally Webster will reportedly call off her divorce from Kevin when she discovers that he has won the lottery. According to the News of the World, the mechanic wins two hundred and fifty thousand smackers on a scratch card from Rita Sullivan's shop and tries to keep it a secret until their divorce is finalised the next day. After his win, Kevin (Michael Le Vell) buys everyone a round in the Rovers Return and initially hopes that the money will help him to win Sally back. However, he then sees her kissing new boyfriend Jeff (Steven Houghton) and decides to keep it a secret. Tyrone Dobbs warns Sally (Sally Dynevor) about what is going on. She is about to sign papers at the solicitors office when Tyrone bursts in, shouting: 'Sally, stop! Don't sign anything. Kev's won loads of cash on the lottery and not told you about it.' Sally tears up the contract and demands half.

The firestorm of blazing righteous anger and rhetoric that is King Charlie Brooker has turned his jaundiced eye upon the Daily Lies sudden infatuation with the English Defence League. Which, along with their much commented upon age-old inability to differentiate between 'the truth' and 'some old crap we've just made up' is, I'm sure you'll agree dear blog reader, a somewhat dangerous combination. 'Some tabloids do little more but speak up for the white working classes – the Daily Star in particular,' notes yer man Charlie. 'Which would be great, if the Daily Star didn't patronise its readers by repeatedly publishing lies. Sometimes they're daft lies. Take the lie about the company behind Grand Theft Auto planning a game called Grand Theft Rothbury, inspired by the Raoul Moat saga. "We made no attempt to check the accuracy of the story before publication. We apologise for publishing a mock-up of the game cover, our own comments on the matter and soliciting critical comments from a grieving family member," read part of the paper's subsequent grovelling apology. Sometimes they're visual lies. Take the time it Photoshopped a bald scalp and headscarf on to an image of Jade Goody in a wedding dress, to make it look as though she'd posed for the picture during chemotherapy. Sometimes the lies appear on its front page, in a way that might alter a reader's view of Muslims. When not furiously recounting whichever grotesquely offensive stunt professional button-pushing irritant Anjem Choudary's come up with this week – stories which are not lies – it gets worked up over other "Muslim outrages" with little or no basis in fact. Take the story MUSLIM-ONLY PUBLIC LOOS: Council wastes YOUR money on hole-in-the-ground toilets. Weeks after that appeared, the Star admitted that "the loos may be used by non-Muslims and were paid for by the developer." And sometimes it doesn't quite lie, but misrepresents by omission. Take the story on 8 February WE'LL STAND UP AND FIGHT FOR BRITAIN'S BRAVE WAR HEROES, in which it is reported that "The English Defence League is planning a huge march after two Muslim councillors snubbed a British war hero given the George Cross." It refers to an incident in Birmingham where two Respect party councillors remained seated while more than one hundred other politicians gave a soldier a standing ovation. Nowhere in the article does the Star mention that there were many other Muslim councillors (Tory, LibDem and Labour) present at the same event – all of whom did stand and applaud.'

It was nice to see yer Keith Telly Topping's particular favourite fanboy nerds Simon Pegg and Nick Frost burning some serious rubber of Top Gear last night. (It is, incidentally, four years to the day since Simon and Nick's last movie together, Hot Fuzz, came out.) I wonder what the Communist lice at the Gruniad Morning Star will find to complain about this week. I'm guessing, probably the bit about murdering magpies. Or, maybe, at a pinch, the name of Mr Manlove which, no doubt, they will claim Clarkson made up. The episode, incidentally, had an overnight audience of 6.35m viewers (5.67m on BBC2 and six hundred and ninety thousand on BBC HD). That's more than anything on BBC1 during the entirety of Sunday night and more than a million higher than the BAFTAs. Just something for the Gruniad to think about as they're sitting round the office watching Sunday night's episode on iPlayer for 'stuff we can tut about disapprovingly this week.'

Equality chief Trevor Phillips has dismissed the Top Gear comments about Mexico as 'a bit of schoolboy provocation.' The Equality and Human Rights Commission chairman went on to say Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond were 'brilliant talents' as he reacted to newspaper-created anger from pompous middle class wankers who read the Gruniad and the Daily Scum Mail over the hosts' comments about 'feckless' and 'lazy' Mexican cars. Phillips refused to condemn the show's presenters as he said 'getting into a ruck with Clarkson' would be counter-productive and only add to the programme's carefully sculpted notoriety. Delivering a speech on equality in Westminster, Phillips said the commission did not need to take any action. 'They have created a set of on-screen cartoon characters which, from my brief experience of meeting Clarkson, are nothing like the real people,' he said. 'But they do the job they're supposed to do - get millions of people to watch a bunch of middle-aged blokes mucking about with cars.' Phillips added: 'Getting into a ruck with Clarkson over what he says about one group of people or another won't change anyone's mind or tackle prejudice. Both the Top Gear Tendency, which bangs on about obnoxious feminists, and the PC lobby which wants the commission to be a strident, boot-faced, politically correct thought police, are now just hanging on at the fringes of public life,' he said. 'Britain has moved on. So we too have to move on, adopting an approach which learns from the past but is designed for the future.' Good God, some talking common sense on the subject of Top Gear, we are clearly living in The End of Days.

Despite a lukewarm initial reception, the American version of Top Gear, which airs on Sunday nights on the History cable channel, has been renewed for a second season. The show, which is based on the long-running BBC programme (pretty much in name only) pits its three hosts in vehicular challenges both intense and absurd — and intensely absurd, like the segment in which Adam Ferrera, a comedian by training, sends his decrepit Cadillac’s four wheels airborne while navigating a moonshiner’s obstacle course. Many devotees of the BBC series found fault with the chemistry of the American hosts, or lack thereof although as the first series progressed, some skeptics cited the trio’s improved onscreen rapport.

Richard Hammond (who, as Stewart Lee rightly points out is 'not a real hamster.' But then, Stewart Lee's not a real penis either. Oh no, hang on ...) is to make his first foray into web television this week with a new series that looks at technology topics such as 'what weirdos did before the Internet.' The new twenty-part series, called Richard Hammond's Tech Head, marks the Top Gear co-presenter's first crack at online TV. To date his shows, which include Blast Lab and Total Wipeout, have all been TV productions for the BBC. Hammond is to front a new series of five minute weekly episodes of Tech Head which promise to take an 'irreverent look at everything form toasters to tanks.' Topics will also include 'how farmers use the most lethal technology known to mankind.' The show will be available free-to-air via a dedicated YouTube channel and also on iTunes with the first episode, which looks at 'one of the most advanced coffee makers ever conceived,' available from today. The show is funded through a sponsorship deal with Regaine, a somewhat strange pairing given Hammond's clearly natural fine head of hair, which is promoting its Men Extra Strength Foam. The show has been co-produced by ChannelFlip, the company which has made webshows for Harry Hill and David Mitchell. The sponsorship deal has been struck by media agency Carat.

Speaking of Stewart Lee (he's not a real penis, oh no, hang on...) yer Keith Telly Topping is, actually, rather an admirer of the man and his comedy. You might have seen, dear blog reader, Lee's much-commented upon deconstruction of Top Gear during his If You Prefer a Milder Comedian, Please Ask for One show. If not then here it is. Some of it is very funny. I mean brilliantly so, although there is a slight sense with the audience from some of their rather sycophantic responses that he's preaching to the converted. And that's never a good thing in comedy. But, anyway, whilst I am an admirer of the man, and his comedy, I hate Stewart Lee (he's not a real penis, oh no, hang on ...) In much the same way that he states he hates Richard Hammond (he's not a real hamster) in the above piece. And, I'll tell you what I hate about Stewart Lee, dear blog reader. It's not the bit where he suggests that he'd like to have seen Richard Hammond die in that car crash and watch his decapitated head land next to the feet of Hammond's wife. Although many would argue that whilst Clarkson, Hammond and May are, themselves, entirely legitimate targets for very pointed and even angry humour, their families should not be. That was certainly the Daily Scum Mail's view when they ran a shitehawk 'exclusive' about this in 2009. But then, this is the Scum Mail we're talking about and anything that gets their collective knickers in a collective twist about pretty much anything is okay with this blogger. So, you know, more power to Stewart Lee (he's not a real penis, oh no, hang on ...) and his elbow in this regard. It's not the bit where Stewart Lee gets all faux emotional when he's talking about Gordon Brown's blindness which would have seemed a hell of a lot more sincere if Lee hadn't admitted at the end of the piece that he's been, 'in character' during it. It's not even the fact that Stewart Lee went to the same school as Richard Hammond in Solihull and one just absolutely knows (well, all right, suspects) that all of this bile and frustration has been walled up inside Stewart Lee (he's not a real penis, oh no, hang on ...) since one day around 1980 when the then twelve year old cheeky-scamp-in-the-second-year Richard Hammond shouted something vaguely insulting at fourteen year old shy-introverted-bullied-fourth-year Lee across the Silhillian school yard. Even in the mid-90s when Stewart Lee was the emergent star of the BBC2 comedy Fist of Fun whilst Richard Hammond was still a jobbing reporter in BBC local radio in the North of England you can guess this sleight was eating away at his insides. Stewart mate, trust me, I've been there, there's such a thing as taking a grudge too far. No, none of that is the real reason I hate Stewart Lee (he's not a real penis, oh no, hang on...) I fully accept his argument that what he's doing in this piece is parodying the Top Gear oeuvre and I fully accept his comment that Clarkson, as a right-wing libertarian, would probably broadly approve of the piece. I understand that comedy can - maybe should - be something that many people find uncomfortable, even questionable, and that the very people who seek to muzzle Top Gear, for instance, are largely the same people who'd like to muzzle many other comedians from right across the spectrum, for doing something so bad, so wrong, as trying to make people laugh. So, no, that's not the reason I hate Stewart Lee. The real reason that I hate Stewart Lee (he's not a real penis, oh no, hang on ...) in much the same way that he hates Richard Hammond (he's not a real hamster) is the bit when he says he'd like to see Jeremy Clarkson's three daughters go blind. Lee doesn't mean that of course (and, if anyone does then - seriously - you need help) as he subsequently notes in the text. But that's the reason why I hate Stewart Lee. For the simple reason that Jeremy Clarkson hasn't got three daughters. He's got two daughters and a son. And the real reason I hate Stewart Lee (he's not a real penis, oh no, hang on ...) in much the same way that he hates Richard Hammond (he's not a real hamster) is that Stewart Lee is a very clever man, who once did an entire - and quite brilliant - comedy show based around a literary deconstruction of Edward Lear's The Owl and the Pussycat. And yet, when he's doing a routine on Top Gear, this smart, literate, amusing man couldn't even be bothered to go onto Wikipedia and look up the sex of Jeremy Clarkson's children. And, that's the reason why I hate Stewart Lee. Because he's done in this routine exactly what people often accuse Top Gear of doing in their comedy. He's been lazy.

Rastamouse - the new children's series starring a dreadlocked reggae-playing rodent - has landed the BBC in the centre of another race row. And, this one's actually, if anything, even funnier than the Top Gear one. Rastamouse has received ninety five complaints from parents objecting to the way the animated character speaks – in lilting Afro-Caribbean patois rhyme. They fear, they claim, that their children could cause playground friction by repeating phrases he uses such as 'Me wan go', 'irie' and 'wagwan.' And 'ting. 'My child is white and I feel if she was to say this to another child who was not white it would be seen as her insulting the other child,' said one, almost certainly Gruniad-reading, mother on the parenting forum Mumsnet. Where to even start with this one? So, we want media that is inclusive and encourages cultural cross-pollination. Except when it comes to crime-solving mice, then it's a big no-no. Others have objected because they feel the show, based on the books by Genevieve Webster and Michael De Souza, stereotypes black people. 'The cartoon is like listening to a drunk white man do a really terrible Rasta impression,' said another blogger. The BBC replied to these tedious, predictable and wholly cretinous whinges by noting that: 'Rastamouse is part of a rich and varied schedule dedicated to reflecting the lives of all children.'

Simon Cowell will reportedly offer both Louis Walsh and Dannii Minogue one and a quarter million quid deals to remain as judges on The X Factor. The Sunday Mirra reports that Cowell believes that the pair are 'the lynchpins' of the UK show and wants them to remain as he launches the talent competition in the US. Cowell is, apparently, keen to ensure that the show doesn't struggle if Cheryl Cole also joins the US version. However, the report claims that they will both still be involved in the UK edition. 'There's no way they'll go off and forget about the UK show,' a source said. 'Simon and Cheryl will be involved in some way during the UK series.' The new contracts, which each include an eight per cent pay rise on their current salary from 2010, are expected to be signed 'within weeks' of filming the show's auditions in May.

Dancing On Ice contestant Sam Attwater has been accused of 'faking' his romance with skating partner Brianne Delcourt. The EastEnders actor was spotted kissing Alexandra Schauman - another professional skater from the show - outside the Magpie pub in Walton-on-Thames, on Thursday, just hours after filming a Valentine segment with Delcourt for Sunday night's show. Delcourt apparently later joined the pair and casually chatted to them as they acted affectionately with each other. Schauman is married to fellow Dancing On Ice pro-skater Lukasz Rozycki. An 'onlooker' (or, a 'nosy bastard' as normal people call them) at the Valentine's shoot, which took place at the Tate Modern, told the Scum Mail On Sunday: 'When the cameras were on them they were all lovey-dovey but when they were switched off they'd split apart and put their hands in their pockets. The minute they saw anyone, even passers-by with a camera, they'd hold hands again.' Over the weekend Attwater told the paper: 'We had a few drinks and we were just joking around.' Schauman added: 'We were just being silly.' With tongues, and everything. Allegedly. ITV refused to comment on the allegations, but the newspaper claim that an 'insider' told them: 'If we found out that Sam and Brianne had said they'd been having a relationship but they weren't, we'd be furious.'

Jeremy Paxman has landed himself in some very hot water for breaking the BBC's rules on impartiality in a recent newspaper article which he wrote about the Iraq war. The Newsnight presenter was admonished for claiming that Tony Blair based his justification for going to war on 'lies' when the Chilcot inquiry has yet to report back on the former prime minister's reasoning. The director of BBC News, Helen Boaden, has admitted that Paxman undermined the corporation's impartial reputation in an article for - of course - the Gruniad (who else?) in November. In response to a reader's complaint, she said: 'I do not think it was appropriate for the article to refer to "the initial lies that took us to war."' She added: 'Given that we do not know the truth about what lies may or may not have been told, we cannot attribute such a motive to Tony Blair's government, and making such an unequivocal statement gives a partial impression.' The BBC, which otherwise declined to comment, has become more sensitive to charges of impartiality since the Hutton report in 2004. Its guidelines forbid staff from off-air activity which might prompt viewers to doubt the 'objectivity or integrity' of their editorial or on-air role. Boaden said that Paxman should have 'phrased differently' his summary of the steps to war, which the presenter said 'tarnished everything it touched.' She also said his reference to 'little George Bush' was 'somewhat sneering' and called it 'borderline in terms of tone' to talk about 'Tony Blair's striding around with his new best friend' wearing 'excruciating ball-crushing jeans.' Paxman failed to clear the piece with his department head, as BBC guidelines stipulate. It accompanied his 'photograph of the decade' – a picture of Iraqi civilians and US soldiers pulling down a statue of Saddam on 9 April 2003. 'Had he asked for approval for this article, we would have asked him to change some elements,' Boaden wrote in an e-mailed response to the 'disgruntled reader' who, like a complete Copper's Nark, then went and passed the correspondence to the Gruniad's main rival, the Independent on Sunday. 'I shall be drawing his attention to my view of aspects of this article and will remind him of the need to appear impartial at all times while retaining his much admired and valued iconoclastic style,' concluded Boaden. Despite Paxman's ticking off, the reader, one Stan Rosenthal, said he still hadn't had his full pound of flesh yet and intended to appeal to the BBC Trust for 'a more forthright and public verdict' against the presenter. I'm guessing that'll probably be a trousers-down caning. You go from it Stan, mate, it's people like you who put the Great in Great Britain.

Matt Baker has insisted that he will not cause controversy on The ONE Show. It was confirmed last month that the Strictly Come Dancing contestant would replace Jason Manford on the BBC show. However, Baker told the Sun that he has no intention of following in his predecessor's footsteps, after he quit the job following revelations of Internet sex sessions. 'Blue Peter is a great training ground,' he said. As, one is sure, Richard Bacon would agree. 'I'm not out to cause controversy or offend anyone. It's not me. The BBC hasn't sat me down and had that chat with me. I've known them for ages. They know what I'm like. And I'm not trying to slip into Jason's shoes. I'll do it my way.' Speaking about working with co-host Alex Jones, he added: 'We get on well on-and-off screen and we'll just go with it. We won't force anything.'

Ex-EastEnders actress Lacey Turner has been cast in BBC3's Frankenstein’s Wedding …Live In Leeds. Turner will play Elizabeth Lavenza and will star opposite Andrew Gower (Victor Frankenstein) and David Harewood (the creature). Leeds' Kirkstall Abbey will host the production, which will bring Mary Shelley's classic gothic tale to life through live drama and contemporary music. A total of nine thousand tickets for the show will be available to the public via the BBC3 website. 'This is a fantastic project to work on and a great story. I'm looking forward to it being live - it's definitely an adrenaline rush and I am already very excited about my makeover,' said Turner. Gower commented: 'The sheer scale and challenge of the project was very attractive and to play a character as renowned as Victor Frankenstein is so exciting.' The show follows on from the success of Manchester Passion and Liverpool Nativity in recent years. Harewood - most recently seen in Friday night's Hustle - added: 'As soon as I saw the idea on paper, I knew I wanted to do it. Combining so many different elements, live acting, dance, drama and of course the large audience at home and at the performance, was just too dazzling to turn down.' BBC3's acting controller Harry Lansdown said: 'The story of Frankenstein is as relevant today as it ever was. I'm delighted to be telling its story on BBC3 through this live drama, which has a great cast and fantastically ambitious audience participation at its very heart.'

TV channels must broadcast a new logo for three seconds at the start and end of all shows which have been paid to include product placement, Ofcom has announced. The logo, which will also be shown at the end of advert breaks, has been launched ahead of the introduction of product placement on 28 February. Broadcasters will also air information films alerting them to the introduction of product placement.

As expected, The King's Speech ruled at the BAFTAs, winning seven awards included best film and best actor for Colin Firth. It also won outstanding British film, best original screenplay, supporting acting honours for Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush, and best score. Firth, fifty, who also won the best actor BAFTA last year for A Single Man, joked: 'I like coming here.' David Fincher was named best director for The Social Network. Black Swan's Natalie Portman was best actress. Firth is the first actor to win the BAFTA two years' running since the late Rod Steiger won back-to-back awards for The Pawnbroker in 1967 and In the Heat of the Night in 1968.

Italian women are to hold nationwide protests against embattled Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The demonstrations in dozens of cities are expected to be attended by high profile personalities, including opposition politician Rosy Bindi. Organisers say Berlusconi has damaged the standing of women with his recent sex scandals. He has denied any wrongdoing, saying the current investigations against him are politically motivated. This week he said a request by prosecutors in Milan to have him put on trial immediately for allegedly paying for sex with an underage girl is 'disgusting,' alleging the prosecutors' case was 'a pretext' to oust him from power. He denies paying for sex with Karima El Mahroug - a Moroccan nightclub dancer also known as Ruby - when she was seventeen, and abusing his position to get her released by police after she was detained in relation to another case. A magistrate will now decide if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial. If convicted, Mr Berlusconi could face up to fifteen years in stir. Although frequenting prostitutes is not a crime in Italy, having sex with one under the age of eighteen is an offence that carries a lengthy prison sentence. The day of protest has a title - Se non ora, quando? (If not now, when?) - designed to express the frustration of those Italian women who are asking what it will take for Silvio Berlusconi to resign. Protesters say that Berlusconi's personal life has made Italy a laughing stock and he should stand aside. Not that he's going to, of course. They say his scandals have profoundly weakened women's standing in Italy by depicting them as mere objects. The billionaire prime minister's opinion poll ratings are still around thirty five per cent and he retains the support of his ruling coalition allies the Northern League, who do not want to see him resign. But there are millions of other Italians, both male and female, who believe the media mogul and AC Milan owner's personal life has debased women, and the national standing abroad, and that he should now stand aside. The prosecutors have submitted two sets of documents detailing the evidence against the prime minister. They allegedly include proof that payments were made by his aides to 'a significant number' of young women, including Mahroug. Last month, Italy's Constitutional Court amended a law granting members of the government temporary immunity from prosecution. The court decided that individual judges should be allowed to decide whether ministers should be tried while in office.

Betty Garrett, the US actress, singer and dancer, has died in Los Angeles, aged ninety one, her son has confirmed. Garrett Parks said that his mother died at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, most likely from an aortic aneurysm. Garrett was best known for playing Frank Sinatra's sweetheart in MGM's On the Town (1949). Her movie career was brief, partially because she was blacklisted by the industry due to her and her husband Larry Parks' having ties with the US Communist Party. Her troubles began in 1951 when American congressmen forced her husband to testify at the notorious HUAC hearings. Parks had earned stardom and an Academy Award nomination as best actor for his dynamic portrayal of the singer Al Jolson in The Jolson Story (1946). But five years later he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee and admitted that he had joined the Communist Party in 1941 before leaving in 1944. Betty, too, had a brief dalliance with the party but she was not called to testify perhaps, she speculated, because she was heavily pregnant with her second son at the time. Nevertheless the couple were effectively blacklisted and forced out of Hollywood. 'With all of it I tried to keep smiling,' Garrett recalled in 2004. 'I always say if one loses ones sense of humour it's the end of everything and one might as well turn out the light.' Betty Garrett was born in May 1919 in St Joseph, Missouri. Her father, a travelling salesman, moved his wife and daughter to Seattle, but he died of alcoholism when Betty was two. Her mother married an old flame and moved to Canada, only to discover that Betty's stepfather was in love with a man he had met at a meat packing company. Betty recalled that all her problems at home meant she was craving an alternative life, 'and that life was the make-believe of the movies and theatre.' Although not Roman Catholic, she attended Catholic schools where she demonstrated a talent for dancing and acting. When Betty was seventeen, her ambitious mother took her to New York where she won a scholarship at the Neighbourhood Playhouse. Her stage debut came in Danton's Death at Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre in 1938. She also danced with the Martha Graham troupe, worked summers in the Borscht Belt, and even wore a fake jewel in her navel as a twenty five dollar-a-week chorus girl in the Latin Quarter in Boston. Then, she was cast in Call Me Mister on Broadway opposite Harold Rome, Jules Munshin and Virginia Davis. Her performance in this role, her biggest break to date, did not go unnoticed in Hollywood. In January 1947 she signed a twelve-month contract with MGM. Betty made her film debut as Shoo Shoo O'Grady in Big City (1948) with the then child actress Margaret O'Brien, Robert Preston and Danny Thomas. She joined an all-star cast including Judy Garland and June Allyson for Words and Music (also 1948), the fictionalised story of the songwriting partnership of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. In 1949 she appeared with Esther Williams in Take Me Out to the Ball Game and later that year joined Williams again as her scatterbrain sister in Neptune's Daughter. But her most memorable film role was in On The Town as the amorous taxi driver Hilde Esterhazy who pursues Sinatra's character with the racy song 'Come Up to My Place.' As a result of the Hollywood blacklist Betty's career nosedived and she had to find jobs in summer repertory. With her husband she joined touring companies and starred at the London Palladium with a stage adaptation of The Al Jolson Story. The couple returned to London with the show on two further occasions. To Betty's surprise, Hollywood welcomed her back in 1955 to replace Judy Holliday as Janet Leigh's sister in the musical My Sister Eileen. But the role, although a critical success, failed to revive her film career. Undaunted she went to New York and found work in the fledgling medium of television, and it was her role as the landlady Edna DeFazio in the 1970s sitcom Laverne and Shirley that reignited her career. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s she appeared in television series such as All in the Family, Murder She Wrote and The Golden Girls. In 2006 she made a guest appearance in Grey's Anatomy and in 2009 returned to the big screen in the horror film Dark and Stormy Night. Last year she had starred in her own one-woman show, Betty Garrett and Other Songs, the title of her 1998 autobiography. In recent years Betty had been teaching, as recently as last week giving a class in musical comedy at Theatre West, the non-profit theatre which she helped to found in North Hollywood in 1960. When Betty married Larry Parks in 1944, the actor Lloyd Bridges was best man and she subsequently became godmother to his son, Jeff Bridges. Larry Parks died in 1975. Their two sons, the composer Garrett Parks and the actor Andrew Parks, survive her.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, in honour of The King's Speech, here's The King's Oration. His truth is marching on, baby.