Saturday, March 19, 2011

Week Thirteen: If Everything You Say Is True, It's Bad TV

We start the latest bit of bloggerisationism with a necessary lesson from Jonathan Charles of BBC World News on the vital importance of punctuation on the autocue and breathing slowly before you say anything.
The government is to cut one thousand staff as part of a dramatic scaling back of its a billion pounds a year communications budget, with the Central Office of Information to be scrapped after more than sixty years and replaced with a new body to oversee marketing and advertising activity. On Friday the Cabinet Office released a series of recommendations following a review of the government's £1.01bn annual communications spend, of which five hundred and forty million pounds of marketing activity is handled through the COI. As part of the changes the COI will be replaced with a new body, the Government Communications Centre, with - name change to something slightly less Stalinist notwithstanding - a far wider remit and responsibility for keeping 'a tight reign' on advertising and marketing spend. The GCC will be responsible for making sure that pan-government marketing and advertising activity is 'concentrated in fewer areas of focus and to targeted audiences, so that government communications is more effective and so that the government is not aiming multiple messages at the same audience.'

Monroe lost more than one million viewers on Thursday evening and was outperformed by The Big Red Nose Day Desert Trek, according to overnight audience data. The medical drama, starring James Nesbitt as neurosurgeon Gabriel Monroe, averaged 4.86m viewers for ITV in the 9pm hour, down just over a million on the previous week's debut episode. An extra one hundred and seventy three thousand viewers tuned in on ITV+1. The Big Red Nose Day Desert Trek, featuring celebrities such as Dermot O'Dreary, Crayyyyyg Dayyyyvid and Olly Murs attempting to cross Kenya's Kaisut Desert, delivered 4.94m on BBC1.

ITV have confirmed that both The Cube and Lewis will return on Sunday 3 April.

Donald Sutherland has joined the cast of NBC's pilot My Life As An Experiment. The comedy, which is being produced by Jack Black, focuses on journalist AJ Wilder (played by Jon Dore) as his life is affected by the various assignments he carries out. TV Line reports that Sutherland will play AJ's father-in-law. His character, who is a heart surgeon, is said to be highly respected but 'arrogant and pompous.' And, if Joss Whedon's comments about the way Sutherland conducted himself on the set of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie are true, that might be a case of inspired casting. Sutherland appeared in The Pillars Of The Earth last year. He played Tripp Darling in Dirty Sexy Money and has worked on more brilliant movies than just about anybody currently working in the industry. Far more than his son, Kiefer.

The Olympic Park is to get the same postcode as the BBC soap opera EastEnders, the Royal Mail has revealed. The site, in Stratford, will receive an E20 code - which is currently used by the fictional district of Walford in the TV series. The postcode will serve five new neighbourhoods to be created after the 2012 Games. The Olympic Stadium will get its own E20 2ST code as part of the change. More than one hundred postcodes will be assigned to developments throughout the site - which will be renamed the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park after the Games. London's first postal districts were introduced in 1857, while the current system using numbers and letters was created in the late 1950s.

And so to this week's Top Telly Tips:

Friday 25 March
In This Is Britain - 9:00 BBC2 - Andrew Marr taketh up his ears and walketh the land, exploring the state of the nation on the eve of the 2011 Census, which uncovers details of people's lives once every decade, revealing vital population statistics. He takes a look at past records to discover how Britain has changed over the decades, examining fierce debates surrounding immigration and identity and shifts in traditional attitudes toward relationships and marriage. He also asks why the upper class seems to have largely disappeared, and compares life expectancy between residents in Glasgow and Hull.

The latest episode of Coronation Street - 7:30 ITV - sees Tyrone becoming furious when Kevin scoops a big win on a scratchcard just before meeting Sally at the solicitor's to agree a financial settlement. Don't you just hate it when that happens? Steve tells Jim that Liz should return to Spain, and Trevor puts an unexpected proposition to Janice. Elsewhere, Fiz brings John home from the hospital.

Saturday 26 March
ITV has two talents shows that run at different times of the year and are both ratings juggernauts. The BBC, by contrast, has two dance competitions that run at different times of the year. One is a ratings juggernaut, the other one is So You Think You Can Dance which returns for a new series at 7:10 on BBC1. Nasty Nigel Lythgoe, choreographer Arlene Phillips, TV presenter Louise Redknapp and dancer Sisco Gomez begin the search for the UK's next dance star. They audition thousands of hopefuls, including a mother-and-daughter duo and a partially deaf girl who dances to music by feeling the bass vibrate through her body. Cat Deeley presents. Talented competitors from all over the UK come to parade their unique take on hip-hop, Latin, contemporary, commercial, jazz and any number of free-style moves in a bid to win over the judges. The lucky top twenty (ten chaps, ten ladies) who make it through both the auditions and Choreography Camp get to strut their stuff in front of the nation, live on BBC1 every Saturday night.

Sunday 27 March
Time Team - 5:30 Channel Four - this week features Tony Robinson and the archaeological experts travelling across the Channel to Jersey, where they search for the origins of Mont Orgueil Castle, an imposing fortress constructed during the reign of King John. Their excavations are complicated by the fact that a newer castle was built on top of the old foundations in the Tudor period - and the entire site is located on a rocky outcrop with sides so steep that they can only be scaled by mountaineers. Sounds like a job for Phil Harding, then!

The latest two-part Waking the Dead - Solidarity - begins at 9:00 on BBC1. The body of a Falklands War veteran who subsequently became one of the leading lights in the campaign against nuclear weapons is found in a stretch of river running underneath a Ministry of Defence site. Piers, formerly a leading light of the Young Conservatives, changed fundamentally after a bullet wound he received in battle became infected. Disgusted with the army, he joined the peace movement. In doing so, he gave CND an incalculable boon – a right-wing war hero speaking up against nuclear weaponry. As Boyd and the team set about investigating the dead man's former allies, they stumble upon footage of an incident which the intelligence services had tried to cover up - and Grace is reunited with a former lover from her own time in the anti-nuclear movement. Two points here, firstly it's nice to see Waking The Dead having another crack at Edge of Darkness and [spooks] territory which they covered so effectively a few years ago in Cold Fusion. Secondly, it's several years since another of Grace's old flames has turned up. Which is always entertaining as they usually end up trying to kill her! (See, for instance, Paul Freeman in Straw Dog or Michael Pennington in Breaking Glass or Peter Capaldi in The Fall). Not that yer Keith Telly Topping is suggesting that Waking The Dead is predictable, you understand. Well no, actually, that's exactly what I'm suggesting. It's good though! Drama, starring Trevor Eve and Sue Johnston, of course, with guest stars the great Jack Shepherd (Wycliffe, and most recently seen in Sky's throne), John McArdle (Brookside) and Anna Chancellor (Four Weddings and a Funeral).

Science is the new rock and roll, apparently. In the last episode of Wonders of the Universe - 9:00 BBC2 - Brian Cox reveals how the unique properties of light provide an insight into the origins and evolution of both mankind and the universe. He charts the importance of light in the development of the world's ancient civilisations, and explains how the speed of light allows the measurement of both distance and time - before pinpointing one of the most important moments in the evolution of life on Earth. Light has always been central to human life. At one of the most magnificent archaeological sites in the world – the Temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt – Brian watches the sunrise during the Winter Solstice, and contemplates how our ancient ancestors built monuments to capture light from the heavens. It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

Sunday night also sees the final of Twatting About On Ice - 7:40 ITV. The celebrity skating contest - and I use the words 'celebrity' and 'skating' under some caution - reaches its climax as the three remaining 'stars' battle it out in the hope of succeeding last year's winner Hayley Tamaddon. Torvill and Dean open the show with a new dance to Ravel's Bolero, accompanied by violinist David Garrett, before the couples perform their favourite routines from the series and get the chance to skate in a final showcase, where they control exactly what goes into the performance, from lighting to styling. One is them is then eliminated, leaving two couples facing the ultimate challenge - skating their own version of Bolero. Plus, all the contestants from this year's series return to the ice one last time. And, possibly, Denise Welch will bring Tim along so that he can slap Jason Gardiner upside his head. Which, to be fair, would provide in one effortlessly violent moment, more entertaining than this fiasco has managed in the last ... Christ, exactly how long has this thing been going on? It feel like it's been forever. Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby present.

Monday 28 March
The Dales - 8:00 ITV - is a new series in which the actor, comedian and, these days, semi-professional grump Adrian Edmondson returns to his birthplace of Yorkshire to document a summer in the life of the Dales, meeting the people who live there all year round. Sixteen-year-old Phillip Mellin talks about running his family's farm alongside his mother, following the death of his father last year, while vet Neil Roberts is called out to an emergency calving. Sort of exactly like The Lakes only with Ade Edmondson instead of Rory McGrath. And, set in Yorkshire, rather than Cumbria. But, otherwise, virtually interchangeable.

One of the biggest news stories of 2010 occurred at the San José copper-gold mine in the Atacama Desert near Copiapó, Chile. The accident left thirty three men trapped two thousand feet below ground. They survived for a record sixty nine days and, all of them were rescued and brought to the surface on 13 October over a period of almost twenty four hours as the world watched, live on TV. Chilean Miners: What Happened Next - 7:00 BBC2 - is a documentary exploring how three of the miners who were trapped have coped with the glare of the international media's spotlight. The film, which is part of the This World strand, reveals their struggle to come to terms both with the traumatic incident itself, and also the impact of sudden fame and wealth on their families.

Bored to Death - 10:15 Sky Atlantic - is a new comedy series from the US. A writer decides to escape his directionless life in New York by living out his fantasies of being a private detective. Despite having no experience or aptitude for the job beyond what he has read in pulp fiction novels, he advertises his services online - and is soon hired to find a missing woman. Starring Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis.

Tuesday 29 March
Yer actual Keith Telly Topping seldom seems to cover events going on in Beckingdale these days which, clearly, is a situation that some dear blog readers find intolerable. Thus, in Emmerdale - 7:00 ITV - following Kelly's revelation, Carl tells Jimmy he needs to take a paternity test, and the pair set out to confront her at Tall Trees. Alicia is determined to give Jacob a perfect birthday after inviting Andy and Sarah to join them bowling, and Debbie decides to ask Cameron to move in with her. Yeah, actually, on reflection now I recall why we tend not to cover it much.

Sex and the Sitcom - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary exploring how sitcoms responded to the sexual revolution, exploring frustration as a recurring theme, the changing role of women and the British love of innuendo. The programme also considers the changing language of the genre, and contrasts the nation's comedy with that of America. Featuring contributions from Leslie Phillips (Casanova 73), Wendy Craig (Butterflies), and Lesley Joseph (Birds of a Feather).

See You in Court - 10:35 BBC1 - is another documentary, but very different from the last one - charting the emotional and financial toll of libel action, providing an insight into twelve cases as they unfold over the course of two years. The programme highlights high-profile disputes involving celebrities and media personalities, beginning with legal battles waged by former Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik - one that may, ultimately, have cost him his seat in the last general election - and Paul Gascoigne's ex-wife Sheryl.

Meanwhile, there's a very good episode of CSI on Channel Five at 9:00. The body of a man is found dumped in a ditch on the outskirts of Las Vegas, and when Ray Langston investigates, he discovers he is not actually dead. Smoking burns and a blackened tongue hint he was subjected to an electric chair-style execution, and the fresh nature of the victim's wounds suggests the would-be killer is operating from a vehicle. Meanwhile, Greg begins a whirlwind romance with a schoolteacher (guest star Dita Von Teese) - but soon discovers she has a lurid erotic secret.

Wednesday 30 March
Not content with trying to find lots of self-absorbed young professionals somewhere to live, Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer now provide holiday tip for those with more money than sense in Vacation, Vacation, Vacation - 8:00 Channel Four. Beginning with a break in Ibiza. A Mediterranean hotspot for over two million tourists a year, Ibiza was first claimed by the hippies and then taken over by the old skool ravers. Phil has been holidaying there for years: first as a backpacker, and now as a family man, and he is a fully paid up member to the island's fan club. However for scowling Kirstie the mere thought of Ibiza, the clubbing capital of the world, fills her with dread. Can Phil convince Kirstie that Ibiza rivals other gems of the Med for holiday escapism? Kirstie is charged with the budget break and seeing if Ibiza can be a charming getaway for a family. She picks a campsite on the north east coast in Cala Nova, just fifty yards from one of the most beautiful beaches on the island, from under a fiver a night in a tent to around fifty smackers for a bungalow. She may not have an inner hippy, she is after all a Tory, but once off the beaten track and after some horse riding along the beach, Kirstie starts to see the appeal of Ibiza for chilled out family escapes. And, if she can't make that happen then someone, somewhere is going to get a damned good hiding one suspects. Those Tory mommies are all the same - beneath the surface of calm home counties dignity their lies a frustration would be dictator with delusions of grandeur. By contrast, Phil finally gets to dip his toe in the exclusive luxury of the Ibiza super-rich as he checks out a private suite at one of the island's most exclusive hotels. Kirstie is convinced that Ibiza is just expensive because the stars go there to party. But can a private pool, power boat trip to a remote beach with a champagne picnic, and an exquisite tasting menu back at the hotel prove to Kirstie that the Balearic island's glamorous reputation is worth the dosh?

Does the world need another TV show about Kerry Katona? This is a question that clearly ITV2 - the channel that helps out of work reality TV regulars when no one else is bothered - aims to put to the test. Kerry Katona: The Next Chapter at 9:00 is a documentary following the life of the former Atomic Kitten singer and reality TV regular. In the latest, exciting, instalment Kerry attends the TV Choice awards ceremony with the paparazzi in pursuit - not that she's going to win anything, you understand, but it's not so much the winning that's important, it's the getting your picture in Heat magazine that is. She also puts in more training in preparation for filming her new fitness DVD. She travels north to see her tattooist because she wants to get a new design on her back to cover up her estranged husband Mark's name. ITV2, ladies and gentlemen, the channel which does all of the thinking for you, just so that you don't have to.

Twenty Football Transfers That Shocked the World - 9:00 ITV4 - sounds, on the surface, like a bizarre idea for a TV show. A countdown of signings which captured the public's imagination, focusing on the most intriguing, expensive and controversial transfers in the history of the game. Doesn't sound too much there for the non-sports fan although it could provide a really important public service if we watch this and we learn why Freddie Shepherd let Graeme Sourness spend a reported eight million quid on Jean-Alain Boumsong.

In tonight's episode of MasterChef - 9:00 BBC1 - the six remaining contestants face huge logistical challenges. John Torode and Gregg Wallace take the contestants to the most iconic university in the world, Oxford. Noted Alumni Cantabrigienses will, no doubt, be throwing up their arms in disgust at such a suggestion so, I direct your eyrie to the BBC's press office so the description as quote. Don't shoot me, baby, I'm just the messengers and I only got O Level history. Anyway, in their first foray into fine dining in large numbers, the contestants must prepare a delectable three-course meal at formal hall for one hundred and fifty students and fifteen senior fellows of New College, Oxford. The contestants work in pairs under the college's head chef with each team delivering one course. With so many intricate elements to their dishes, service for one hundred and sixty five people is an awesome challenge for the amateurs. Timing is critical as they must allow more than an hour to plate their dishes. The six face a logistical nightmare involving the careful stacking of all the cold elements, then taking them in the lift from the college kitchen up to the serving kitchen adjacent to the formal dining room. The pressure is definitely on, as they cannot afford to turn the tide of history and become the first to be late serving in seven hundred years. Cooking, as somebody usually says, doesn't come any tougher than this. Then, the contestants return to the MasterChef HQ for one more fine dining challenge: a two-course invention test in ninety minutes. Creating and making a main and dessert from a selection of high-end ingredients is not an easy task for the amateurs, especially when they discover who today's guest judge is: two Michelin-starred chef, and MasterChef: The Professionals guru Michel Roux Jr. With hearts and sphincters pounding the contestants must endure their most feared and respected critic's view of their dishes, before the judges decide their fate.

Thursday 31 March
In Charities in Crisis: Tonight - 7:30 ITV - Fiona Foster examines the potential impact of cuts in state funding for charities looking after the elderly, children, families and the homeless. Many hard-pressed organisations are under threat of closure in the next few months and Fiona investigates what effect this could have on some of the UK's poorest communities.

Last year Sky1 made a big song and dance about producing their first bit of serial drama - a four part adaptation of Martina Cole's The Take. Cole, in case you've never read her stuff is a sort of East End cockney version of Catherine Cookson, only with a splash of the Kray Twins thrown into the plots. She's very much flavour of the month over at Murdoch Towers, having also produced a couple of documentary series on real life crime for the broadcaster. Martina Cole's The Runaway - 9:00 Sky1 - is their latest collaboration. In this drama, young Eamonn Docherty endures a tough upbringing with his childhood sweetheart Cathy Connor in the East End of London - which is a real surprise as I was certain she was going to set this one in Coventry - and eventually has no choice but to leave after a few tasty run-ins with the local faces. Once the pair are separated, their lives stray onto different but equally unsavoury paths. Starring Joanna Vanderham and Jack O'Connell and set in Soho during the 1960's and 1970's, it's exactly what you'd expect it to be - watered down Lynda La Plante with lots of hard-faced looking men shouting 'you slag!' menacingly at each other.

We also have a new series of Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience - 10:00 BBC2. The comedian decides to step out of the spotlight to learn a trade and tries his hand at four distinctly glamourless professions, beginning by working on a farm.

Now, the news: The promise of Fearne Cotton getting her kit off for the lads and swanning about in a swimsuit crashed the BBC Radio 1 website on Friday. Internet users hoping to access the page for Chris Moyles's show were confronted with an internal error message because the page was 'experiencing abnormal traffic.' Listeners and those viewing the live video stream were promised that Cotton would strip to a swimsuit between 10.10am and 10.30am should Moyles's fundraising efforts have exceeded two million pounds. Which they did. In the event, Comic Relief raised a total of £74.3m overnight, the highest figure reached on the night of the show in its twenty three-year history. Spoof band Fake That, comprising David Walliams, John Bishop, Catherine Tate, James Corden and Alan Carr, auditioned in front of the original Take That. The telethon also featured special mini episodes of EastEnders, Doctor Who and Outnumbered. The Gruniad's Lucy Mangan beautiful describes the middle segment as' a Doctor Who adventure concerning the appearance of a TARDIS within a TARDIS by Stephen [sic] Moffat that manages brilliantly to nod to just about every Whovian in-joke, demographic and fetish within the span of two tiny instalments.' The government has pledged ten million quid to go toward health and education in Africa. David Cameron his very self appeared in a MasterChef sketch in which he was served a three-course meal by Miranda Hart, Ruby Wax and Claudia Winkleman (seen right with a scowl on her boat when told that should couldn't use any oil in her cookery as all of the available resources in the area had been poured on a prime minister's face). And not one of them had the presence of forethought to slip something which would have given him a really nasty case of twenty four-hour diarrhoea just so he knows how the rest of us usually feel? That's not playing the game, is it? The government's contribution to this year's fundraiser matches Comic Relief's own commitment to spend ten million on health and education in Africa. International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said: 'Even in these tough economic times, the British public has given an incredible response to Comic Relief's appeal, showing yet again their compassion and generosity.' He added: 'The government will come in behind the public's effort, to support and amplify the choices that British people have made.' David Walliams had already completed the Twenty Four Hour Panel People marathon in aid of Comic Relief, which saw him take part in back-to-back celebrity panel shows. James Corden revived his unfunny Gavin and Stacey character Smithy, chairing an unfunny meeting of stars including Sir Paul McCartney, Keira Knightley and ex-prime minister, Gordon Brown. Meanwhile, Lord Prescott read BBC Radio 4's shipping forecast.

Aaron Staton has reportedly signed up to guest star in The Good Wife. TV Guide says that the actor, who plays Ken Cosgrove in Mad Men, will appear in the show during May. Staton is expected to play an attorney who is on the other side of a case taken on by Lockhart Gardner. The character, who is said to have a charming smile, is described as 'hungry' and 'Terminator-like.' Actors such as America Ferrera and Michael J Fox have already filmed guest roles for the second season of The Good Wife.

Matthew Willig and Alimi Ballard have reportedly joined the cast of NCIS. According to TV Guide, the pair have both won recurring roles in the drama. Willig is expected to play Special Agent Simon Cade, who is said to be friendly and well-educated with a photographic memory. Willig, who used to play in the NFL, has previously guest starred in shows including Dexter, My Name Is Earl and Chuck. Meanwhile, Ballard will appear in NCIS as Special Agent Gayne Levin, who is pleased to be back in Washington after being sent on various assignments. Ballard played David in Numb3rs and has also worked on shows including Sabrina The Teenage Witch and Dark Angel. Simon and Gayne are expected to join the show to help the team track down a serial killer, although reports have suggested that they may not get on with the established characters.

Jemima Rooper has said that she 'really hopes' drama is making a comeback against reality TV. Speaking on the set of Frankenstein's Wedding ... Live In Leeds, which broadcasts on Saturday night on BBC3, the actress said that in harsh times people prefer to 'sit back and enjoy something.' Rooper told the Digital Spy website: 'I watch a lot of reality TV and have always hated the fact that I do. I'm like, "No, no no no - I can't like this!" I think people have had enough. I think the recession, the things that have been happening in the last couple of years, is enough reality. We actually want to be entertained and get lost and have escapist dramas, which is why I think something like Lost In Austen did so well.' Leaving aside the extremely contradictory nature of much of what Jemima is saying (and, the fact that Lost in Austen wasn't, in any way shape or form a drama that 'did well' - in fact, its ratings were a huge disappointment to ITV at the time) once again, isn't it nice to see a TV professional claiming to speak on behalf of an entire nation of viewers without, seemingly, bothering to poll any of them to find out if she's misrepresenting their views, or not. Of Frankenstein's Wedding, she added: 'This is phenomenal. It's so brilliant that BBC2 are doing this because it's so adventurous. It's so out there. You keep seeing producers wandering around, half absolutely scared stiff and half gleefully excited, and that's what you want as anyone who's in the creative industry. You want to scare yourself and you want to push the boundaries a little bit and do things that are ambitious. It's the first time that I've seen this happen. I think people have been very scared to take risks. Hopefully now people will get a bit more playful.'

EastEnders' Steve John Shepherd has talked about his role in this weekend's Waking the Dead. The actor, who plays Michael Moon in Albert Square, claimed that it was 'really cool and exciting' to be involved in the final series of the forensic cold case drama. Shepherd will appear as Max Harding in the two-parter, which broadcasts on Sunday and Monday night. Speaking about his role, he told Digital Spy: 'My character is part of a family that is in the heart of this investigation. It's a family of five, three siblings and two parents. They are being investigated as part of this murky plot and I play Max, the eldest of the siblings. As is the heritage of Waking the Dead, it's layer upon layer of plot and many twists and turns before it reaches its resolution.' The thirty seven-year-old, who discovered that he had landed his part in EastEnders while working on the drama show, claimed that he was honoured to work alongside Trevor Eve and Sue Johnston. 'I'm a huge fan of their work and also I like the approach they take to the show,' he said. 'A lot of time is spent on each episode, there's lots of gaps between each series, they are very methodical and they put so much care and attention into every aspect. I think that's why the whole show hangs together so well. I can't speak for anyone apart from myself, but my guess is that they just wanted to leave while the quality was still high and keep the brand as polished as possible. Instead of maybe letting it peter out, they decided that they wanted to go out with a bang and just leave the audience wanting more. That's always a good adage.'

Richard Desmond, the billionaire owner of Channel Five, is reportedly considering the sale of his celebrity magazine empire, including OK!, Star and New. A report published on Thursday in Media Week indicated that Desmond's media firm Northern & Shell has appointed Barclays Capital to broker the sale. According to official figures, OK! sells six million copies a week around the world and made twenty million pounds last year in the UK. Desmond has helped the magazine to outsell key rival Hello! via a series of major exclusives, including deals with David Beckham and Katie Price. 'Sources' allegedly indicate that there isn't currently a 'live brief' out for the sale, while Desmond is thought to be keen to leverage cross-promotion opportunities between his celebrity publications and Channel Five, the broadcaster he acquired in the summer of 2010. Last month, Channel Five launched OK! TV, a new vacuous and depressingly banal celebrity entertainment news programme presented by Matt Johnson and Kate Walsh. A Northern & Shell spokesman also dismissed the sale reports as 'pure speculation.' However, an 'industry insider' allegedly suggested that Desmond has 'grown privately worried about the dwindling selling power of celebrity news.' The development also comes at a time of major consolidation in the print industry, as companies brace themselves for a wave of merger and takeover activity. French publisher Hachette Filipacchi recently sold more than one hundred magazines, including Elle and Red, while BBC Magazines is believed to be close to a deal to sell off its magazines division, publisher of Radio Times and Top Gear magazine. Discussing the possible sale of Desmond's celebrity magazines, Alex de Groote, analyst at brokers Panmure Gordon, told the Evening Standard: 'If the print assets are up for sale, what valuation will they get? Will they go as a trophy asset? It's a defining point for UK media. If Desmond is saying, "I'm giving up interest," does that mean these businesses have reached a tipping-point?'

Matthew Littleford, the executive responsible for rebranding UKTV's pay-TV channels including Dave, is to leave the BBC Worldwide and Virgin Media joint venture. Littleford, UKTV's controller, announced on Friday his intention to step down from the broadcaster, although no leaving date or successor has yet been confirmed. He joined UKTV in 2007 and went on to oversee a major overhaul of the company's portfolio of channels, including the launches of Dave, Really and Good Food. 'After nearly four years at UKTV, I've decided that it's time for me to take on a new creative challenge,' said Littleford. 'During my time at UKTV, the network undertook the most ambitious rebrand in broadcasting history - nine channels and a brand new channel Watch. Last year was a great year - our channels are going great guns and we've won loads of awards.' Darren Childs, who became UKTV's new chief executive last August, added: 'I've enjoyed working with Matthew. He's a talented and creative exec who has helped establish UKTV as one of the UK's leading broadcasters. Thanks to his work and dedication, UKTV is well placed to tackle the next stage of its creative evolution and I wish him well in his next endeavour.' Littleford's departure comes after UKTV confirmed plans to appeal a court ruling that could force Dave to rebrand as part of a trademark wrangle with a brand consultancy of the same name.

Konnie Huq will not return as host for The Xtra Factor this year, it has been confirmed. The former Blue Peter presenter, who expected to return to the show, has reportedly been dropped by ITV bosses, the Daily Scum Mail claims. They quote her manager as saying: 'Konnie Huq will not be doing Xtra Factor this year. She is going to be doing a big TV show on Discovery for America and Asia, the dates for which also clashed with Xtra Factor.' Meanwhile, Huq herself allegedly added: 'I loved doing Xtra Factor. It was so exciting. But I also cannot wait to start filming my new show for Discovery in China.' An ITV spokesperson stated: 'We thank Konnie for her contribution to The Xtra Factor and wish her all the very best for the future.' Matt Edmondson, Laura Hamilton, Jeff Brazier, Georgie Thompson and Stacey Solomon have all been linked to the now-vacant position. Although if they're looking for somebody that speaks something which is recognisable as English then at least two of those named might struggle.

The Press Complaints Commission has upheld a complaint against the Daily Scum Mail's Scottish edition for harassment. The paper was censured for persistently approaching a man who had made it clear that he did not wish to comment on a story involving his student son. The paper published two articles about the young man's involvement in tuition fees demonstrations in London, one of which was illustrated by a picture of him allegedly attempting to remove a policeman's hat. Reporters and photographers representing the Scum Mail turned up at the family home in Scotland four times within twenty four hours to seek a comment. On each occasion, the family made clear they did not wish to speak to journalists, and asked them to leave the property. There was one additional approach to the father near his home, which led to him contacting the police. The Scum Mail argued that its inquiries were 'justifiable in the public interest.' The youth had been photographed allegedly assaulting a police officer and had been questioned by police and then bailed. In the paper's view, it therefore had a duty to seek a response to the allegations. The journalists had returned to the property because they had received new information that the youth had been seen entering the home. When asked to leave, they did. The commission accepted that there was a 'limited public interest' in seeking the response of the complainant's son to the allegations against him. However, the complainant and his family had been clear about not wanting to comment publicly about their situation. So the PCC judged that the journalists' attempt to question someone 'not at the centre of the story, and against whom no allegations of impropriety had been made' constituted a breach of the editors' code of practice. Clause Four of the code states that journalists 'must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals once asked to desist.' PCC director Stephen Abell said the clause was very clear: 'Persistent approaches from journalists once they have been asked to desist are not permitted unless there is a strong overriding public interest.' He added that the code 'covers news-gathering techniques as well as published editorial content' and the ruling 'is an important reminder of the sort of behaviour the commission judges unacceptable under the code.'

Peaches Geldof has reportedly been pictured naked in a bed with four other people. One image, printed in the Sun, shows the presenter between two girls' nude bodies. The photograph is said to be one in a series 'exposing the wild lifestyle' of Saint Bob's daughter. In another picture, the twenty two-year-old is seen sprawled naked across a car bonnet in the middle of a suburban street. A 'source' allegedly told the tabloid: 'She was swept along in a scene of shameless behaviour.' Peaches allegedly became wrapped up in a controversial lifestyle after 'becoming friends with a gang of hard partygoers.' 'Insiders' have said that her behaviour led to the socialite's split from director Eli Roth. A 'friend' supposedly added: 'Peaches was involved with a lot of hipsters, only attending the coolest parties - or those deemed the coolest. These people thought it hilarious to whip their clothes off in public and take photos. Most are spoilt little rich kids who don't have to worry about money and spend their time getting wrecked. Their lifestyle's ridiculous. Peaches was swept along.' Hang on, isn't 'spoiled little rich kid who doesn't have to worry about money and spends her time getting wrecked' a regularly used description of Peaches Geldof anyway? However, the 'insider' claims, Peaches has since turned her life around and is 'focusing on her career.' That is, until OMG! gets cancelled. A further 'insider' commented: 'It all got out of control and Peaches left. She's a changed person now, she cleaned up her act and is really working on her career. She's highly motivated and determined to be a success. She's left these friends well behind.' Meanwhile, Peaches herself said on Twitter: '[I'm] sick of tabloids grasping at straws to portray me as some sort of “wild party girl sex fiend."' And we're supposed to, what? Feel sorry for you, you silly little girl? Get off my TV and get yourself a real job.

Jet Harris, the original bass player with The Shadows, has died from cancer aged seventy one. Jet, whose rumbling apocalyptic bass-lines on 'Apache' would be imitated by just about every bass man in rock and roll for the next couple of decades died at his partner's home in Winchester on Friday, his agent Peter Stockton said. Sir Cliff Richard paid tribute to his former band mate, saying: 'Jet was exactly what The Shadows and I needed - a backbone holding our sound together.' Earlier this month, Harris had cancelled all his appearances due to ill health. 'Jet, the bass player, will always be an integral part of British rock 'n' roll history,' Cliff added. 'Losing him is sad - but the great memories will stay with me. Rock on, Jet.' Stockton said: 'He was a man who was so courageous and determined and kept saying "I will beat this." The last time he went on stage he said he didn't want to let people down and I could see he was struggling a bit, but he got a standing ovation. Regrettably it was the last concert he did on 5 February.' Born Terence Harris in London in July 1939, was a member of The Vipers Skiffle Group whilst still in his teens but got his biggest break in 1958 when he was on tour with The Most Brothers. On the same bill was 'Move It' singer Cliff Richard and his recently-formed touring Drifters, Harris subsequently joined Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch and Tony Meehan in the group and made his recording debut on Cliff's third single 'Livin' Lovin' Doll'. In 1959, Harris was credited with coming up with the group's new name, The Shadows, and they went on to have a lengthy string of hits both backing Cliff and on their own, including 'Man of Mystery', 'The Savage', 'FBI', and 'Wonderful Land'. In 1962, Jet left the group, supposedly after his position became untenable having discovered that his first wife, Carol, had been involved in a brief affair with Richard a couple of years earlier. Having signed to Decca as a solo artist, he had two top twenty hits with 'Besame Mucho' and 'The Man With The Golden Arm'. He then formed a duo with his ex-Shadows pal Meehan, producing the number one single 'Diamonds' in 1963 (the record which kept The Beatles' 'Please Please Me' at number two) and two further massive hits 'Scarlett O'Hara' and 'Applejack'. However, head injuries sustained in an horrific car crash in the West Midlands later that year whilst touring (his girlfriend, the singer Billie Davis, was also badly injured), in addition to well-documented personal problems and heavy drinking, meant that this success did not last. There are some particularly lurid - and possibly apocryphal - tales from this period, notably the one about Harris storming out of a television studio where he and Meehan were meant to be appearing on Ready, Steady, Go, returning home and smashing all of his guitars in a display of manic ultraviolence. Jet attempted a solo comeback in 1966 and was briefly in the line-up of the Jeff Beck Group in 1967, but he effectively fell out of the music industry. Thereafter, he worked variously as a labourer, a bricklayer, a porter in a hospital, a bus conductor, and as a seller of cockles on the beach in Jersey. After a quiet period, Harris began touring again in the late 1970s and continued to gig intermittently around Europe for the next twenty years. In 1998 he was awarded a Fender Lifetime Achievement Award for his role in popularising the bass guitar in Britain. He released a new CD, The Journey, in 2007, and continued to tour the UK with his Shadows-style band The Rapiers. He was made an MBE for services to Music in the 2010 New Year's Honours list. He is survived by his partner, Janet Hemingway. A family friend speaking on her behalf said: 'Jet was a one-off. He had a wonderful sense of humour and was incredibly courageous and incredibly loyal to his friends and family.'

A lost cat has reportedly found its own way home after spending ten days in the sewers. According to SWNS, Midnight navigated her way to outside her owners' home in Cheltenham after getting lost in a storm drain on 1 March, when her sister was run over.
Neighbours heard meows from a nearby manhole and owner Jeanette Young, thirty nine, contacted Severn Trent water company, which sent two workmen to rescue the feline. Young said: 'It is absolutely amazing. She is so clever. How on earth did she find her way back home underground? She was just a few steps away from our front door so she did a brilliant job of navigating herself around. It is like a Disney movie, or a comic book story about a super cat.' She added: 'We are all delighted she is home. She is doing very well, although she was a bit smelly when she first came out.'

Last, for your actual Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day, it is often suggested that yer Keith Telly Topping chooses for himself a topic of general interest that is positively full of charlatans. So, what difference does a few more make, dear blog reader? Sublime ones. Strange ones.Genius ones.Derivative ones.