Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ladies And Gentlemen Here's My Disease Give Me A Standing Ovation And Your Sympathies

Daybreak editor Ian Rumsey has 'hit back' at criticism of the show from a former GMTV executive. Peter McHugh, the ex-director of programming for the cancelled breakfast show, claimed on Monday that ITV needs to change the current programme because the audience, clearly, 'does not like it.' However, in a right-to-reply piece in the Gruniad, Rumsey said that he has 'learned that, when it comes to Daybreak, memories can be selective. Launching a new breakfast show is a hazardous endeavour,' he wrote. 'But it's also led me to do some research. And I discovered that when GMTV started, the response was vitriolic.' Highlighting several negatives reviews of GMTV when it first launched, Rumsey added that McHugh 'knows this,' before adding an extract from a piece McHugh himself had written about GMTV in 1993, in which he described it as 'probably the most disastrous launch in history.' Rumsey continued with an attempt to put some (frankly almost Stalinist) spin which would've made Deadly Derek Underwood proud: 'In the run-up to Daybreak, I made it clear that quite a few things would change. But I was also clear that some things wouldn't. The best breakfast show in the world, The Today Show in America, has been served pretty well by the same mix for decades. Our aim is to make an engaging programme which has a mix of great entertainment and fun, human interest and credible news, with some distinctive journalism that both appeals to the existing audience and also welcomes in new viewers. And already we have seen gains with younger viewers and ABC1s as well as building on our share of housewives with kids. That is the crucial audience for us and we're now regularly above GMTV, year-on-year.' Whatever the hell all that ABC1 bollocks is supposed to mean. (Basically, it boils down to 'GMTV was watched by common people, on council estates. What are all doley scum and, therefore, we don't want 'em. Daybreak is watched by, less numbers but more of these are middle-class people with disposable income and nice teeth.') So, before we get too carried away with ABC1 and year-on-years and all that tripe, let's just remind ourselves of some actual figures:-
- Daybreak average audience - February 2011 six hundred and eighty two thousand viewers.
- GMTV average audience - February 2010 nine hundred and eight thousand viewers. Or, as Broadcast magazine recently put it: 'If ITV's Daybreak has struggled to define its oeuvre, BBC Breakfast's own body of work has been grabbing some interesting increases. For its entire stretch of 6am-9.15am Monday to Friday for the year to date, BBC Breakfast has shown an eight per cent increase in share for individuals on 2010 to average thirty seven per cent (1.6 million viewers). Its share for housewives with children grew by twenty seven per cent. This is something that will rankle its commercial rivals who, across the whole breakfast time (6am-9.25am) in the same period saw a fifteen per cent drop in this important audience. This week, BBC Breakfast averaged 1.6 million and thirty six per cent share, whilst ITV's breakfast slot gathered eight hundred and sixty seven thousand and a nineteen per cent share - cereal murder.' ITV have, of course, previously - and finally - admitted what everyone with half-a-brain in their head knew already. That Daybreak had 'underperformed' - which it has, certainly given the amount of money that ITV are reported to be paying its presenters. But, ITV's chief executive Adam Crozier still insists that viewing figures have 'now settled down.' Which they have - to a distinctly underwhelming daily average somewhere in the mid-eight hundred thousands. Or, in other words, about a hundred thousand per day less than GMTV was getting even right at the end of its run. In the last fortnight, for instance, Daybreak despite squealing protestations of increased ratings figures has had pretty much what it's been getting since January, a daily audience high of nine hundred and five thousand on Thursday 24 March and a daily audience low of seven hundred and sixty seven thousand on Monday 21 March. Most of the episodes in March have delivered audiences in the eight hundred to eight hundred and fifty thousand range. Chiles and Bleakley have both spoken out in defence of the show recently, with the Northern Ireland-born presenter insisting that the show has 'definitely turned a corner.' Depends what corner she means. If she's taking about audience appreciation then it's jolly hard to justify this comment or anything even remotely like it as the show's last fortnight worth of AI scores have all been in the sixty four to sixty seven range, except for Friday 17 March when its audience gave it a score of just sixty two. Remember any AI score under seventy five is considered below average. Any score under sixty five is considered 'poor.' So, the moral of all of these figures is that six months on from its beginning, in a blaze of crass and overbearing publicity, Daybreak is being watched by less people than were watching the show it replaced, GMTV, and less than half of the numbers who regularly watch its BBC rival, Breakfast. And, that those viewers who are watching Daybreak don't, in general, seem to like it very much. What a surprise. Rumsey insisted that the team knew it would 'take time' for the audience to accept Daybreak but said that signs - including instant feedback from social networking websites - are 'encouraging.' Which, as noted previously, is one - very selective - way of looking at things. 'Daybreak has seen steady and consistent growth in audiences. Since the turn of the year, there has been month-on-month growth of around ten per cent, compared with a two per cent drop experienced by GMTV over the previous year - and so far, March has been the most successful month for Daybreak since launch.' None of which changes the fact that Daybreak is still being watched by less people than GMTV was. And, no amount of Shane Warne-style flippers and googlies is going to change that. Responding to criticism directed at the show's presenting duo, Rumney said: 'Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley have been a breath of fresh air in the mornings and care about the show enormously. Alongside a terrific team of presenters and correspondents, they give Daybreak a unique point of difference in a breakfast television landscape that is a great deal more crowded than the environment in which GMTV launched. We've been knocked, and knocked hard, but every day the team has come back stronger. As with many new shows - especially those that launch as a live, five-day-a-week operation - there are elements that haven't worked as well as we'd have hoped. But we've listened to feedback from the audience, made adjustments and invested in the editorial where necessary. We will continue to do so.' Rumsey added that the show has 'the foundations in place' which will, he believes, see Daybreak 'flourish. In twenty years' time I may even be asked to write a critique of whatever show fills ITV's early morning slot,' he concluded. 'I've saved a lot of the past seven months' cuttings. It'll all help me to remember that history has a way of sometimes repeating itself.'

Meanwhile, still on the subject of the breakfast wars, BBC Breakfast presenter Sian Williams will reportedly quit the programme instead of relocating to the show's new base at Salford Quays. Williams had previously admitted that she still had to decide her future on the morning magazine show ahead of its move North next year. The Daily Mirra claims that Susanna Reid - seen left with a face like a hamster's just ran up her skirt - is now allegedly being 'lined-up' to replace the forty six-year-old Williams as the main female host. 'She'd jump at the chance,' a 'source' allegedly told the tabloid. 'Susanna loves the BBC and this is her dream job.' However, the paper suggests that Williams could help to smooth the programme's transition by commuting North for 'a period of time.' Her agent, they claim, told them: 'This is not about going to Salford, but about a decade of getting up before the dawn chorus. We've been talking to the BBC for the past six-to-nine months about potential new roles where she doesn't need to use her alarm clock quite so frequently.' Staff have until the end of the month to decide their future on the programme and will - allegedly - mark the deadline with a 'Salford or fuck it' party on Thursday. Williams's co-host, Bill Turnbull, has reportedly decided to remain part of the team despite his concerns about the move, whilst it is claimed that sports reporter Chris Hollins has told 'friends' that he will quit in order to remain in London.

The BBC have launched a new competition which gives a team of UK primary school children the chance to write their own Doctor Who mini-adventure starring the Eleventh Doctor. The competition, produced by BBC Learning and Doctor Who Confidential is for school children aged nine to eleven years - so, sadly, that means yer actual Keith Telly Topping's entry will probably be excluded. They will be encouraged to collaborate on a three-minute script which takes the Time Lord on a new quest travelling through space and time inside the TARDIS. The winners will travel to the BBC's studios in Cardiff where they will see their script brought to life by the Doctor Who team and cast, including Matt Smith. Doctor Who Confidential will take viewers behind the scenes to show how the script gets developed from paper to television screen – from the first script meeting, a cast read-through, on-set filming all the way to the final edit. Saul Nassé, the Controller of BBC Learning, and - many years ago - an active member of Doctor Who fandom said: 'Doctor Who is loved by children across the UK, and I can think of no better programme to inspire the next generation of story tellers. The Script to Screen competition is a fantastic way for children to learn new writing skills, whether or not they are winners. We are delighted that the stellar cast and crew of Doctor Who are on board for this journey of learning through time and space.' If you're between nine and eleven (actual age, not mental age I'm afraid) and fancy having a crack, then the script must feature Matt Smith as The Doctor, and can include one of four aliens from the show - the Ood, the Judoon, the Cybermen or the Weeping Angels, as well as a brand new human character to test the wits of the Doctor. Tailored learning resources will be available on the BBC Learning website to help guide teachers and pupils through the process. The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods before He) will also offer his expert advice and helpful tips on how to pull together a stand-out script with memorable characters. 'Doctor Who made me want to write,' notes Steven. It made me fall in love in television, script-writing and storytelling, and led me by the hand to the best job in the world. It also made me want to defend the Earth from aliens but that hasn't come up so often.' Oh, I dunno. Parts of fandom have bred the most terrible evil ... Anyway, 'I know the power this show has to set young imaginations alight, because I've lived it, so I'm incredibly excited to be involved in this project. Plus it's never too early to start looking for your replacement.' The winning script will be chosen by Steven, Saul Nassé and executive producers of Doctor Who, Piers Wenger and Beth Willis. Full details of how to enter the competition, with the judging criteria and terms and conditions will be available here from 20 April 2011. Downloadable BBC Learning resources will also be available from 23 April 2011 and the closing date for entries Monday 13 June 2011.

The TV Tonight blog reports that Torchwood: Miracle Day will be fast-tracked to Australia on UKTV Australia in early July, immediately following its global premiere on Starz. And, presumably, its appearance on BBC1 as well (although we're still waiting for confirmation of that). Jana Bennett, the new President for BBC Worldwide Networks and Global iPlayer, said: 'Torchwood: Miracle Day is a courageous and exciting piece of drama which will resonate with audiences all over the world. I’m genuinely delighted that Torchwood will add to UKTV's compelling selection of first-run drama in 2011.' Julie Dowding, Sales Director for BBC Worldwide Australia, added: 'Torchwood: Miracle Day is set to be one of the most exciting dramas we've brought to Australia this year. UKTV audiences and Torchwood fans alike are in for a huge treat with this latest chapter from Captain Jack and the team.'

Jim Broadbent has revealed that his role in new BBC1 thriller Exile, co-starring John Simm, was to have been played by the late Pete Postlethwaite. Broadbent was offered the role of Sam, a retired journalist with Alzheimer's disease, after Postlethwaite - who died in January - became ill. 'That was my one reason why I knew that obviously it's going to be good if it's good enough for Pete,' he said. Simm plays a son who is reunited with his father after eighteen years. Speaking after a preview screening in London, writer Danny Brocklehurst, revealed he had written the part of Tom with Simm in mind. 'I came on later and Pete Postlethwaite was down to play Sam,' said Broadbent. 'Suddenly he couldn't do it and I had an e-mail.' Broadbent, who won the best supporting actor Oscar in 2002 for Iris, said that he drew on his experiences with his mother, who had Alzheimer's disease, for the part. 'It was so familiar, particularly in the way one of the core conceits of this piece is that when someone has dementia there are windows of lucidity,' he said. 'In suffering dementia, there are moments when the barriers drop and there is an honesty that comes through which is obviously a very interesting scene to mine as a writer and for the actors as well.' The drama - conceived by Shameless creator Paul Abbott - opens with Simm's character Tom driving away from his chaotic lifestyle in London and returning home for the first time since he was beaten up by his father. Back in his northern home town, he tries to uncover the truth behind the attack. Simm, who had just finished playing Hamlet at the Sheffield Crucible before filming began, said the relationship between his and Broadbent's character was a potent one. 'Hamlet has a father-son relationship in it and I was kind of in that place. I've had difficult relationships with my own father within my life and you just draw on what you can - your experiences and the experiences of friends.' Simm, forty, the star of State of Play, Doctor Who and, most memorably, Life On Mars, said it had been easy to relate to the character of Tom. 'I grew up in a town very near the town we filmed in,' he said. 'It was quite a similar situation, I left when I was sixteen and I went to London. I did go back and see my dad. But the returning back home and the meeting of friends and being uncomfortable - I can relate to some of that.' The three-part drama, directed by John Alexander and also starring ex-Waking The Dead regular Claire Goose and Olivia Coleman, will be broadcast in late April.

ITV has announced that Martin Clunes will begin filming a fifth series of popular drama Doc Martin this week. The broadcaster confirmed that after a two-year gap, Clunes will reprise his role as Martin Ellingham for the new, eight-episode run. 'I have missed our annual visits to Cornwall, and I look forward to spending the next few months in this beautiful part of the country,' Clunes said. 'I am thrilled to be able to work with such a fabulous cast, and exciting new storylines.' Also returning to their roles are Caroline Catz as Louisa Glasson and Ian McNeice and Joe Absolom as Bert and Al Large. Dame Eileen Atkins joins the regular cast as Dr Martin's Aunt Ruth, while Jessica Ransom will appear as the new surgery receptionist, Morwenna Newcross. Guest stars who will appear across the series include Julie Graham, Peter Vaughan, Robert Daws, Louise Jameson and Joanna Scanlan. The fifth run will see Martin struggling to cope with the demands of fatherhood, as he embarks on a new chapter of his career, which is to take him away from the village of Portwenn. Giving a hint of what fans can expect, a statement said: 'A new GP, Di Dibbs (Joanna Scanlan), and her husband Gavin (Robert Daws), have already moved into his old surgery. But Dr Ellingham begins to have serious doubts about the competence of Dr Dibbs, and, in his familiar tactless way, is not afraid to tell her. The doctor also faces the loss of his Aunt Joan, and has to deal with an equally cantankerous relative who comes to live in Portwenn.' Doc Martin is produced for ITV by Buffalo Pictures, an independent production company owned by Clunes and his wife Philippa Braithwaite. She said: 'We're delighted so many viewers enjoy the series, as much as we enjoy filming and producing Doc Martin with the beautiful backdrop of Cornwall. Our vision is to ensure this series continues to be as fresh, different and bold as when we first went into production.'

UKTV channel Watch have announced transmission details for Primeval's fifth series, which will premiere on the pay TV channel in May. Series five of the time-travelling dinosaur drama will be broadcast at 8pm on Tuesdays from 24 May, the channel's press office has revealed. Series four and five of Primeval were filmed as one block of thirteen episodes, following a deal between ITV and UKTV with producers Impossible Pictures. BBC America and Germany's Pro7 were also co-production partners for the episodes. Series five is expected to be broadcast terrestrially on ITV in early 2012.

A BBC Northern Ireland documentary on Tuesday throws new light on the crimes of the UK's most prolific gang of serial killers, the so-called Shankill Butchers. Radio 5Live and Radio Ulster presenter Stephen Nolan went back to the Belfast streets where he grew up to gather exclusive interviews from victims' families and trawl through previously unreleased court files. He also questioned the former CID chief in charge of the 1970s investigation and builds a profile of the 'ruthless and sadistic' gang leader Lenny Murphy who, though jailed for six years for an unrelated offence, continued to direct the murders from inside the Maze prison. The Shankill Butchers is the name given to a loyalist gang, many of whom were members of the Ulster Volunteer Force. The gang conducted paramilitary activities in Belfast and was most notorious for its late-night abduction, torture and murder (usually by throat slashing) of random Catholic civilians. The Butchers killed perhaps as many as thirty people (including a significant number of Protestants) in sectarian attacks, paramilitary feuds, personal grudges and bombing raids. Despite extensive police resources being channelled towards the capture of those responsible, a wall of silence, created by a mixture of fear and respect in the Shankill community, provided few leads that could be followed. Charlotte Morrisey is one survivor whose family was targeted by the gang and who talks publicly for the first time about the brutality meted out in some of the darkest days of the Troubles. Her father, Joseph Morrisey, was one of the gang's nineteen murder victims. 'After I had been told it was my father I looked over to my mother and she was holding herself rocking back and forward in the chair. She was just crying "Jesus not my Joe." I knew by looking at her that it would probably have been kinder if God had taken her there and then. This wonderful vibrant woman had gone,' she says. In the documetnary Nolan challenges DCI Jimmy Nesbitt, the former head of CID at Belfast's Tennent Street Police Station, with the suspicions of the Catholic community at the time that 'a blind eye' was being turned to the killings and that the authorities, as well as local people, knew the killers' identities long before they were eventually brought to justice. Nesbitt strongly denies the claims. In hissumming-up, the trial judge Lord Justice O'Donnell stated that the gang's crimes were 'a catalogue of horror and a lasting monument to blind sectarian bigotry.' After the trial, Nesbitt's comment was: 'The big fish got away,' a reference to Murphy (referred to in court only as 'Mr X' or 'the Master Butcher'). Belfast-born former trades union leader Baroness May Blood recalls: 'These people had such a grip on the community and there was such fear you didn't cross them. I often wonder did the leaders of the UVF and UDA know what was going on? Was this being done in their name?' Nolan, aged six at the time the Shankhill Butchers were convicted in 1979, says: 'This is a story of wickedness and of human tragedy that is hard to comprehend. So many people died needlessly and I have nothing but admiration for the brave families of the loved ones who lost their lives in such terrible circumstances. In participating in the programme they have created powerful lasting testimony.'

UKTV is to host a series of four Dave-themed comedy nights as the broadcaster extends into live events for the first time. Dave's Comedy Society: Live will feature a range of talent who regularly appear on the channel including Alun Cochrane and Richard Herring, with the events spread between 18 April and 14 June. The shows, which will not be broadcast, are being produced along with events companies Phil McIntyre Entertainments and Momentum Events and will feature strong Dave branding throughout. Julia Jordan, UKTV's executive director for business and operations, said the aim was to extend the portfolio of multiplatform brands. 'Not only does this open up new revenue streams to us, it also extends our ability to play an increased and more meaningful role in our consumers’ lives,' said Jordan.

AMC has confirmed that Mad Men will not return until 2012. The drama, which stars Jon Hamm, Christina Hendricks and Elisabeth Moss, focuses on a group of people working in a New York advertising agency in the 1960s. Recent reports suggested that the show would be delayed because of negotiations between AMC and the series' creator Matthew Weiner. AMC has now officially handed a fifth season to Mad Men but has confirmed that it will not be broadcast until 2012. 'AMC has officially authorised production of season five of Mad Men, triggering our option with Lionsgate,' the network said. 'While we are getting a later start than in years past due to ongoing, key non-cast negotiations, Mad Men will be back for a fifth season in early 2012.' Rumours had already claimed that the show would be unable to return this year as the production had been delayed for so long. AMC already has shows including The Walking Dead and Hell On Wheels to show in the fall. The 'non-cast negotiations' mentioned in AMC's statement are thought to refer to the network's talks with Weiner. According to Deadline, AMC is trying to include product placement, wants to cut the episodes' running times to include more advertising and has proposed dropping two regular cast members for financial reasons. However, Weiner is said to be refusing to agree to the demands.

The UK government has defeated an attempt in the House of Lords to prevent ministers from having the power to change the way Welsh-language broadcaster S4C is run. Former Plaid Cymru leader Lord Wigley tried to reduce the powers in the hands of ministers to shape S4C after it forms a new partnership with the BBC in 2013. However, his proposed amendment to the Public Bodies Bill was defeated by one hundred and ninety seven votes to one hundred and sixty two, giving the government a majority of thirtty five, reports BBC News. Ministers claim that S4C's inclusion in the bill is essential to protect the broadcaster's future, but they did try to assure peers about the channel's independence after the BBC takes over the bulk of its funding under its new licence fee settlement. Last October, S4C criticised the government's decision to 'effectively merge' the Welsh-language broadcaster with the BBC under the new funding arrangement. Instead of, you know, showing a bit of frigging gratitude that the BBC, despite having had them foisted upon them, were prepared to help ensure the broadcaster's survival. In a letter released to the Lords before the debate, the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt wrote: 'I must also make it clear that the government has no intention of removing S4C as a statutory body or merging it with the BBC. S4C's current public service remit, as enshrined in legislation, will remain and the secretary of state will continue to exercise powers of appointment over the chair of the S4C Authority. The BBC's relationship with S4C will be on the basis of a partnership and not of a BBC subsidiary.' Lord Wigley said in the session: 'S4C should never have been in this bill. The independence of S4C is critically undermined as it will be beholden to the BBC Trust for the bulk of its funding, which the government without prior consultation have moved to the licence fee. S4C will be at the mercy of the BBC Trust for its resources.' Given that the licence fee payers of all of Great Britain not just Wales are now paying for it, or one have thought a little bit of, I dunno, thanks might have been in order? Just a wild suggestion, there. However, former BBC chairman Lord Grade, now a Conservative peer, said that the Trust would be able to guarantee S4C's independence, while also introducing greater transparency. 'I have to tell you from where I sit and from my experience, S4C occupies the most privileged position in British broadcasting that it is possible to imagine,' he said. 'The idea that a greater level of accountability and transparency is being introduced seems to me to be perfectly reasonable.'

Greg Mottola has reportedly signed up to direct a new HBO drama pilot from Aaron Sorkin. The project, provisionally titled More As The Story Develops, will focus on cable news anchor Will McCallister and his staff. Pleasantville's Jeff Daniels was previously reported to be in final talks for the McCallister role. Deadline now suggests that Superbad director Mottola will helm the pilot. Mottola's recent film projects include SF comedy Paul and 2009's unexpectedly brilliant Adventureland, while his past television credits include episodes of Undeclared and Arrested Development. Confirming the news on Twitter, Mottola wrote: '[Aaron Sorkin has] got a first-class brain. Very excited about it.' What, the brain or the show? Sorkin recently revealed that he is 'loving the idea' of returning to television. Although, he said that in 2006 before his last drama, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip failed to find enough of an audience to satisfy NBC even though yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought it was effing superb. He explained: 'I'm taking the same combination of idealism and romanticism and realism that made government sexy on The West Wing and seeing if we can't do the same with the news and journalism, which are held in at least as much contempt.' Sorkin, who recently won an Oscar for his script for The Social Network is, of course, one of the best TV writers of his generation and created and wrote the majority of the first four years of the greatest TV show ever in the history of the world that doesn't have the words 'Doctor' and 'Who' in the title, The West Wing.

Fred West's daughter Anne Marie Davis has broken a ten-year silence to criticise - sight unseen - an ITV drama on the 'untold story' of how the serial killer and his wife, Rosemary, were brought to justice. Davis, whose mother Rena Costello and half-sisters Charmaine and Heather were all murdered, says the two-part show will revive deeply traumatic memories for the families of the Wests' victims. 'I felt physically sick when I heard about the plans to turn the tragic events which devastated so many people's lives into a TV drama,' she said. 'I haven't spoken about this for ten years, and the only reason I am speaking now is because I want ITV to realise they will be causing unimaginable distress to the families of the young girls who were murdered. No one should kid themselves. The object of this drama is to make money. But the programme makers have to recognise that a lot of vulnerable young women died. They were real people and their loved ones are real people too who are still suffering and their wounds will only be reopened by a TV drama like this.' The ITV drama, Appropriate Adult, is to focus on the period between Fred West's arrest and his suicide in prison on New Year's Day 1995, as he awaited trial for twelve murders. Dominic West, the British star of The Wire, is playing the Gloucester builder, and Monica Dolan has been cast as Rosemary West, who remains in prison convincted of ten murders. The 'appropriate adult' referred to is the voluntary social worker Janet Leach, who sat in on police interviews with West because of concerns over his ability to understand the proceedings. She is being played by Emily Watson, who has described the drama as 'tasteful' and 'dark, but not nasty.' Davis, forty six, said: 'If the story is scripted from my father's arrest it will cover the time when all those poor victims were found. I will never forget the images of police officers carrying their remains out of 25 Cromwell Street in crates. 'I know how traumatic my own losses have been, but I cannot possibly imagine the pain the other families have suffered and are continuing to suffer.' Davis added: 'I knew Fred and Rose were dangerous people, but I didn't realise how dangerous. I knew they were involved in incest and paedophilia, but I thought it was confined to me. These are not fictional characters, but extremely complex individuals who only shared their darkest secrets with each other.' Davis, who works in a Gloucester supermarket, said: 'I have had customers come up to me and say, "Is there anything you can do to stop this programme – or anything we can do?" All I can say is that a lot of women and young girls lost their lives in desperately tragic circumstances and they deserve to be remembered – not to be seen as mere public property.' ITV says Appropriate Adult is being produced by the team responsible for previous dramatisations of the Moors Murders and the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper. An ITV spokeswoman said: 'Appropriate Adult is a factual drama which focuses on the involvement of Janet Leach who was appointed as appropriate adult in the police interviews Fred West gave during the investigation. We have sought to contact as many relatives and victims as we could with assistance from the police, to let them know about the project and try to address any concerns they may have. We have conducted dozens of interviews with individuals directly involved in the case over several years. It is certainly not ITV's wish to cause distress to the families of the Wests' victims, or their children, and Appropriate Adult does not contain any recreation of the actual crimes themselves. But we believe the factual drama genre is a valid form in which to explore and throw new light on real events.'

An American academic who made remarks on Twitter about a TV reporter who was sexually assaulted in Egypt has resigned from a London university, just two days after being offered a job there. Nir Rosen said that CBS's Lara Logan would 'become a martyr and glorified' and was 'probably just groped' during an attack by a two hundred-strong mob in Cairo. Rosen had quit New York University after his comments were widely criticised in February. Now he has left a new position at the London School of Economics. The LSE would not confirm whether Rosen's decision to quit was as a result of a backlash caused by his remarks. 'Nir Rosen resigned his temporary visiting fellowship at LSE, which was an unpaid position,' said a spokeswoman for the university. 'LSE had already made clear it condemned the offensive comments he made about Lara Logan and others,' she added. The university recently faced criticism for accepting large donations from the family of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Saif Gaddafi, one of the dictator's sons, received a PhD from the university in 2009 and gave a lecture there a year later. Logan was targeted by a mob of more than two hundred people in Tahrir Square last month. CBS said that the thirty nine-year-old received 'a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating' after being separated from her colleagues and security team. It happened shortly after Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, announced he was quitting. Rosen wasn't the only bell-end to get themselves in hot water over making stupid comments on this issue. As reported at the time, right-wing blogger Debbie Schlussel also drew ire from many after a post on her website appeared to blame Logan herself for the attack. 'So sad, too bad, Lara,' wrote Schlussel. 'No one told her to go there. She knew the risks. And she should have known what Islam is all about. Now she knows.' Her ignorant and rather sad opinions were met with a chorus of objections and outrage online.

NCIS star Cote de Pablo has dropped hints about the upcoming eighth season finale. It was previously revealed that Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and his team will be hunting the psychopathic Port-to-Port killer in the current series' final episodes. De Pablo told Entertainment Weekly: 'We know that [the finale] has something to do with the Port-to-Port killer. We know that something awful is gonna go down, like always. And we're all deathly terrified.' The actress admitted that the potentially grim events of the finale are taking their toll on the show's cast. 'Everyone is dealing with it differently,' she suggested. 'We may not be aware it's a stressful situation, but we're all going through it in our own way.' The eighth season of NCIS is expected to conclude in May. A ninth run has already been commissioned, after the show achieved a ratings high of 22.85m viewers last month.

Merlin star Colin Morgan has confiormed that the show's fourth series will be broadcast in the autumn. The actor told the CultBox website that filming on the new series 'started last week. It feels like, coming into the fourth series, the show's really taken its place in people's hearts,' he suggested. 'We've just got scripts for the first three episodes through and it's hugely exciting.' He continued: 'It'll still [be broadcast] this autumn, either in September or October this year.' Most likely the latter once the second half of the new series of Doctor Who has concluded. Morgan also insisted that the Knights of the Round Table are a 'fantastic' addition to the series. Though, apparently, they don't dance when 'eer they've able. Pity. 'The basis of the story that we're working on is so strongly established in legend, so it's great to see these icons coming through,' he said. 'The show has always been about taking the legends and showing them in a different and unexpected way.' He added that there are 'huge changes' in store for Merlin in the future. 'I think it's clear that Camelot is heading in a new direction,' he claimed. 'The characters' arcs are starting to take their place.'

There's a really interesting piece in the Gruniad's MediaMonkey column on the vile and odious Kay Burley's first 'novel' (and, yer actual Keith Telly Topping uses that word without any inherent comment on the literary merit, or otherwise, of this publication): '"At that exact moment, Julian was expertly using his silver tongue to offer intense gratification to Sally as he held on firmly to her taut, tanned thighs, tightly gripped around his handsome face."' it begins, quoting from First Ladies, which the column describes as 'the "explosive debut novel" from the queen of Sky News, Kay Burley. The story of "suave PM Julian Jenson", celebrity magazine editor Sally Simpson and "sexy TV reporter Isla McGovern" – no idea upon whom this character is based – it comes highly recommended by Lord Mandelson, so it must be good. "Lithe and muscular, he effortlessly lifted her from the bed and onto his broad shoulders. Sally felt all the excitement and exhilaration of a fairground ride as he continued to offer intense pleasure before she was finally sated and he lowered her gently back onto the round bed. Julian flopped contentedly beside her and turned on Sky News." Okay, so we made the last four words up.' Blimey, what a pity, I'm sure Uncle Rupert would have approved of the product placement.

BBC3 has ordered a supernatural drama series called The Fades. The show stars Lip Service and Coronation Street actor Iain De Caestecker as Paul, a young man who has 'apocalyptic' nightmares. Yer Keith Telly Topping knows how he feels, some days. Paul begins to see 'the Fades' - the spirits of the dead - and one finds a way to breach the barrier between the living and dead. Paul and his best friend Mac soon realise that they will be responsible for keeping the world safe. Sounds a bit like The Dead Zone, but that's no bad thing, necessarily. The six-part series has been written by award-winning writer Jack Thorne, who has previously worked on dramas including This Is England '86, Skins and Cast Offs. So, that's another point in its favour. 'The Fades was born from a trip into executive producer Sue Hogg's office,' he said. 'She asked me what drama of the last ten years I wished I'd written. I said the American cable show Freaks & Geeks, I was wearing a Ghostbusters T-shirt, [and] she said, "What about Freaks & Geeks meets Ghostbusters?" But the further we've gone along the more seriously we've taken the fantasy and the mythology and so the comedy is subtler and a newer, fresher, hopefully more exciting show has emerged.' Daniel Kaluuya, who played Posh Kenneth in Skins, has landed the role of Mac. Meanwhile, another Skins star, Lily Loveless, will appear in the show as Paul's twin sister. Tom Ellis, Johnny Harris, Daniela Nardini, Claire Rushbrook, Theo Barklem-Biggs, Jenn Murray and Sophie Wu have also apparently signed up to appear in the project. Looking forward to that one.

Urban areas are set to become the battleground in the global effort to curb climate change, the UN has warned. The assessment by UN-Habitat said that the world's cities were responsible for about seventy per cent of emissions, yet only occupied two per cent of the planet's land cover. While cities were energy intensive, the study also said that effective urban planning could deliver huge savings. The authors warned of a 'deadly collision between climate change and urbanisation' if no action was taken. The Global Report on Human Settlements 2011, Cities and Climate Change: Policy Directions, said its goal was to improve knowledge of how cities contribute to climate change, and what adaptation measures are available.

Hollywood actor George Clooney is one of seventy eight witnesses named by Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi for his trial on charges of sex with an under-age prostitute. Clooney's girlfriend, the Italian model and TV star Elisabetta Canalis, is also on the list as are various MPs and ministers. The couple were said to have been seen at one of Berlusconi's parties by Karima el-Mahroug, the teenager whom he is alleged to have paid for sex. The trial is due to start on 6 April. Berlusconi denies the charges. As well as the sex allegations, Berlusconi is also accused of abuse of power for intervening in a separate case in which Mahroug, known as Ruby, was detained by police on suspicion of theft. Lawyers acting for both the defence and prosecution submitted their witnesses on Tuesday in preparation for the trial. Although it is for the judges to decide who appears as a witness, Canalis is believed to have denied being present at the party in question at the prime minister's villa near Milan on 14 February 2010. Clooney has a villa of his own not far away, beside Lake Como. Among the other named defence witnesses are supermodel Belen Rodriguez and TV presenter Barbara d'Urso. Education Minister Maria Stella Gelmini and Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna are among four government representatives on the list. According to leaked legal documents quoted by Italian media, Gelmini and Carfagna are said to have been named because of their participation 'at dinner-evenings at Berlusconi's Arcore residence' and their 'knowledge of what took place at such events.' They are said to have been present at the 14 February party when, according to the indictment, Ruby is alleged to have first attended an event at the villa. Berlusconi has described his dinners as 'elegant,' denouncing allegations of erotic dances and 'intimate relations' as unbelievable. Ruby has been named as a prosecution witness, reports say, as have thirty two other other women alleged to have attended erotic parties at the prime minister's residence. Prosecutors allege that the Italian leader paid for sex with Ruby while she was still seventeen, an offence under Italian law. They maintain that the prime minister had sex with her on thirteen occasions.

ITV have struck a new four year rights deal to broadcast the Indian Premier League cricket competition. The agreement with Nimbus Communications will see live coverage of the IPL's fourth season air on ITV4 and itv.com from 8 April to 28 May. It will be produced by ITV Sport with a presenting team due to be announced shortly. Coverage of last year's IPL final netted last year's Broadcast magazine award for best sports programme. Cricket made its debut on ITV4 last year with live coverage of the third season of IPL and was later followed by highlights of England's 2010-11 Ashes, Twenty20 and one day international series in Australia. 'ITV4 has a fast growing reputation for broadcasting sport,' said Niall Sloane, ITV’s controller of sport.

Items worth a total of almost one million smackers - including a clarinet - have been stolen from the British Ministry of Defence in the past ten months, a government minister has confirmed. Junior defence minister Peter Luff was given the task of telling the House of Commons about the missing items when answering a question asked by another MP, Luciana Berger. Berger said that she believes news of the thefts is 'nothing short of a national disgrace.' Although, hopefully, one burglar might, just have found himself a new career in the woodwine section of his local symphony orchestra. Items to the value of approximately seven hundred thousand quid have disappeared from the MoD's properties since May. In addition to the clarinet, the list also includes - slightly more seriously - guns, several pairs of night vision goggles, ceremonial swords, a boat rudder, a helicopter rotor tuner valued at fifty thousand pounds and 'an unspecified amount of cash.' BBC News quotes Luff as saying that officers from the Ministry of Defence Police are 'already working to reduce crime at MoD locations across the UK.' He said: 'These officers provide an effective deterrent to potential criminals, by raising the awareness of staff, service personnel, service families and contractors.' And, according to Monday night's Waking The Dead, take great pleasure in being party to a good old fashioned cover-up. Though, of course, that was fiction and, tragically, this isn't. Not even the clarinet.

Strangers on a Train actor Farley Granger has died in New York City at age eighty five, it has been confirmed. The actor died at his Manhattan home of natural causes on Sunday, a spokesperson for the New York medical examiner's office told The Assocatied Press. Over the course of his seven-decade career, Granger worked with some of the most acclaimed directors in world cinema including Alfred Hitchcock on the 1948 thriller Rope and with Luchino Visconti on 1954's Senso. The San Jose native suffered a difficult childhood after his family lost their home following the 1929 stock market crash and later turned to acting to escape relative poverty. After making his film debut in the 1943 war epic The North Star, Granger appeared in a string of memorable films including They Live By Night, Edge of Doom and The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing. His other movies included Behave Yourself!, the Vincente Minelli directed segment of The Story of Three Loves, The Twisted Road and the classic spaghetti Western They Call Me Trinity. He would later having a leading role in the TV soap opera One Life To Live as resident doctor Will Vernon, which earned him a Daytime Emmy nomination. Working steadily through the 1970s, Granger slowed his screen appearances in the 1980s and made his last film appearance in the comedy The Next Big Thing in 2001. In 2007, Granger published the memoir Include Me Out, co-written with domestic partner Robert Calhoun. In the book, named after one of Goldwyn's famous malapropisms, he freely discusses his career, personal life and sexuality (he was bisexual, having a lengthy relationship with Shelly Winters in the 1950s. 'I was never ashamed, and I never felt the need to explain or apologise for my relationships to anyonem,' he would note. 'I have loved men. I have loved women.' Farley finally achieved some success on Broadway in the 1980s in The Seagull, The Crucible, The Glass Menagerie and Deathtrap. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in honour of his extensive work in television.

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day concentrates on the career of one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's very favouritest bands, james. Formed in Manchester in the early 1980s, this blogger first came across them when they were still a bunch of folkie-veggie-weirdos(!) and were supporting The Smiths on the Meat is Murder tour. At Newcastle City Hall one night in 1985, they - quite simply - blew The Smiths off stage (and not many people did that uin 1985, trust me). This blogger became a fan instantly. Their records were quite good too. And, on their first LP, they included one of the key songs in yer actual Keith Telly Topping's life (and, for some draft reason, one they never released it as a single. The fools!) To watch Tim Booth going off-it in live performances dancing like he'd just stepped on a live wire on 'Johnny Yen' and 'Stutter' and 'Sandman' truly was a sight to see circa 1988-91. Sadly, when they singed for Sire Records everything that possibly could go wrong, did go wrong. The band assumed that having joined the label which gave the world The Ramones and The Undertones, Sire would actually know what to do with the band. But they didn't. At a time when Sire was pouring most of its money into Madonna's True Blue tour james became the apparent victim of internal record company politics. To the point where they were actually prevented for either recording or touring (because, they had nothing to promote). And, even the few records that they did manage to put out sank without trace because of a singular lack of promotion.It reached the ridiculous point where the band were reduced to volunteering to take part in some dangerous hospital trails on experimental drugs to actually make a bit of money (as detailed in the song 'Riders' on their second LP). Their drummer, Gavin, decided to quit because, as he infamously noted at the time, 'I'd be better off on the dole!' The whole thing reached a head when they finally managed to extract themselves from their contract and put out a live LP of what was supposed to be their final gig, in Bath. The resulting One Man Clapping is, frankly, one of the greatest live LPs ever made by anyone. And the anger in 'Burned', the song which detailed painfully their relationship with their record company is the icing on the cake. 'If you won't get screwed, don't go on the game!' To fund the LP, the band had to borrow twelve grand from the Royal Bank of Scotland. Initially, the bank manager was not willing to lend the band the money, but reportedly after seeing them live in Manchester he agreed. But, in a final twist they actually lost money on it when Sire decided to demand a cut of the songwriting royalties. From being on the point of breaking up the surviving trio of Tim, Jim Glennie and Larry Gott recruited a new, seven piece band, signed to Rough Trade and made one of the anthems of a generation. And then they signed to Fontana, wrote another one, and - against all expectations - started having hits! And playing sodding great arenas! They were yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite band throughout most of the 1990s (I saw them live one half-a-dozen or more occasions and the gig they played at the late, and much lamented, Mayfair Ballroom in October 1990 remains one of the best I've ever been to, by anyone) made a series of great singles, worked with Brian Eno who called them 'Britain's greatest undiscovered national treasure' and even, eventually (and briefly) broke America. They're still going and their concerts are, still, memorable shimmering beasts of entertainment. If you haven't got any james in your CD collection, dear blog reader, then, I'm afraid yer actual Keith Telly Topping considers you to be nowhere, baby, and you need to get yourself to an Internet download site of your choice and pick up, at the very least, The Best of james. Your ears will be your best friend forever after, trust me!