Monday, March 07, 2011

We've Got The Power. You And Me.

Sue Johnston has revealed that she 'had a sense of it being the end' while filming the last ever episode of BBC1's crime drama Waking The Dead, which returns for a ninth and final series next weekend. Johnston, who has played psychologist Grace Foley since the show started in 2000, told BBC Press Office: 'I shall miss working with them all, I shall miss Tara [Fitzgerald]. I think Tara is fantastic and I loved doing scenes in the lab with her, I'd sit and look at how beautiful she was - she’d have died if she’d known, and such a beautiful person too.' She added: 'The crew were fantastic as well and they have been more of less the same crew since we started. I am really looking forward to it going out - to see how it is received.' Discussing the show's final episode, Johnston commented: 'I will always remember it because even though we filmed it second, I had a sense of it being the end. The final scene under Waterloo bridge was fantastic. It is such a great episode and I love the shots of Boyd walking through London, walking to meet us. A great performance from Trevor, from everyone in fact.'

Press reports claim that veteran actress Lynda Baron is to appear in the forthcoming new series of Doctor Who. Wales on Sunday and the, usually reliable, Doctor Who News Page are both reporting the actress has been spotted on location filming for the episode currently being shot by Steve Hughes in Cardiff. The episode also sees the return of James Corden reprising his role from last year's series. Lynda has, of course, been involved with Doctor Who twice before during its original series. She sang the epic 'Ballad of the OK Corral' for the 1966 William Hartnell story The Gunfighters. And, in 1983 she returned to Doctor Who to play the villainous Captain Wrack opposite Peter Davison in the four-part story Enlightenment. Lynda is still probably best remembered by most viewers for her role of Nurse Gladys Emmanuel opposite Ronnie Barker and David Jason in the comedy Open All Hours. Her other notable TV roles include stints in Crossroads and EastEnders. She was most recently seen in a brilliant performance as Violet Carson in last year's The Road To Coronation Street. There has been no official confirmation of Baron's appearance in the series as yet.

Doctor Who producer Marcus Wilson has revealed details about Neil Gaiman's forthcoming episode. He told SFX that the fantasy author's contribution to the show is 'a real love letter to the fans. It's a big episode, but I think it'll be one the fans will love,' he said. 'It was [originally] due to be shot last year, but for budget reasons we moved it to this series.' Wilson also confirmed that the episode, which will air fourth in the next run, will feature 'a new take on a familiar character. It's an episode that involves quite a big sprawl [and] huge alien world locations,' he continued. '[It] required a lot of work.' Gaiman himself previously hinted that guest star Suranne Jones will appear in the episode as 'an old acquaintance with a new face.'

Apparently, a big subject of discussion on the Ideal set over the last couple of weeks has been the sitcom's growing army of celebrity fans. As previously mentioned, series seven of the dark Johnny Vegas vehicle is currently being filmed.The lovely Haruka Kuroda on Twitter, quotes Janeanne Garofalo as revealing that Kiefer Sutherland is an admirer of the cult show. Given that the last 24 regular to fall into this category, Janeanne herself, eventually gravitated to Manchester and got a part in Ideal, one wonders what the chances are of Agent Jack Bauer himself turning up at Moz's flat looking to bring down Cartoon Head and Psycho Paul?! Yer Keith Telly Topping would watch it!

The world's least convincing 'woman of the people' Christine Bleakley believes that the troubled ITV breakfast magazine show Daybreak has 'turned a corner' after its disastrous launch last year. If these comments sound familiar to you, dear blog reader, then that's probably because they're pretty much exactly the same rhetoric that has been coming out of those involved in Daybreak about once every two or three months since last autumn. For those keeping count this is the third occasion that either Bleakley or her grumpy cohort Adrian Chiles have, publicly, suggested that the show has 'turned the corner'. Which would seem to indicate either that they're currently lost in a maze, or that what they've actually turned is not so much a corner but a roundabout. Daybreak, as you may remember, launched in September amidst a huge publicity drive and much hype as ITV's replacement for GMTV which was axed because of low ratings. Daybreak promptly drew worse figures. ITV had high hopes for Daybreak but they were quickly dashed with universally poor reviews and falling ratings. Last week the network finally came clean, after six months of regular outbreaks of mediaspeak bollocks, and admittedly that the show had underperformed and that it had been 'disappointing.' The breakfast programme hit an all time low when ratings fell under four hundred thousand viewers over the Christmas period but, according to the Scum Mail on Sunday, 'they have now stabilised at the eight hundred thousand viewers mark.' Bleakley believes that the show is 'doing better.' Actually, that's nonsense. Over the last fortnight average episode ratings have meandered between 'highs' (if that's the right word) of around eight hundred and thirty thousand and lows of six hundred and twenty five thousand, a figure achieved as recently as 23 February. Not so much 'turning the corner,' then, as walking smack into a brick wall. 'I've noticed a real change in people's attitudes since Christmas,' Bleakley lied to the Scum Mail. 'They come up and say, "We loved this" or "We loved that," the way they used to when we were on The ONE Show.' And, again, just to add a bit of probably unwelcome realism to Christine's fluffy-duffy world of make-believe, Audience Appreciation Index figures for the past three weeks worth of episodes have remained, steadfastly, in the sixty five to sixty eight range. For laymen, any AI score under seventy five is considered below average. Anything around the mid-sixties is 'poor.' So, to sum up then, not as many people are watching Daybreak as Christine Bleakley would have us believe and, those who are, don't seem to like it very much. 'Executives can do as much research as they like, but Adrian and I have always said we know how people feel because we get it face to face. We've definitely turned a corner.' Poor, deluded woman.

The Brian Foxy Cox factor was strongly in evidence again on Sunday night as the first episode of Wonders of the Universe had an overnight audience of 3.6m viewers. And do the ladies just lurv the Prof the mostest? Oh, yes they do.

A press report has claimed that BBC2's daytime schedule could be 'axed' and replaced with simulcast broadcasting with the BBC News Channel as part of radical plans to cut costs at the corporation. The Mirra reports the proposal to clear-out BBC2's daytime schedules and replace it with the BBC News Channel before 7pm has been put forward. Though by whom, to whom and what the chance are of this being adopted, they don't say. So, all-in-all, it's a bit of a nothing story as it stands. Which, from the Mirra, is about standard. The move, if it came to anything, which it possibly won't, would mean programmes such as Flog It, To Buy Or Not To Buy, and Celebrity Cash in the Attic would all be cancelled. So, no great loss there, then. The move would also put a question mark over the BBC's children programming which broadcasts on BBC2 on weekday mornings. The proposals to cut costs at the corporation are in response to rising costs and the licence fee freeze until 2017. The corporation now has the additional responsibility of the BBC World Service and BBC Monitoring putting an extra burden on the already stretched BBC. The BBC has already announced cutbacks on services and job losses as it tries to reign in cost. BBC2's prime-time schedules would not be affected by the move. If there is, indeed, a move. Which there may not be. The channel is currently concentrating on 'creating a distinctive look with an increased focus on original drama - including producing returning dramas - and also comedy.'

A bungled SAS mission in Libya has ended safely when the captured troops were released by rebel forces – but sent packing out of the country. Eight special forces members were freed from a military base near the opposition stronghold of Benghazi and put on a boat out of the country. They had spent the day in custody after attempted overtures to anti-Gaddafi protesters backfired. The fiasco left ministers and army chiefs facing fierce criticism amid claims that there was no warning the British troops were coming. Jeez, these days the British can't even organise a bit of armed insurrection! What's the world coming to? One rebel source said: 'If this is an official delegation, why come with helicopters? Why not say: "We are coming, permission to land at the airport"? There are rules for these things.' Given that HMS Cumberland has spent most of the last couple of weeks moored in Benghazi harbour, you have to wonder why the stupid bastards didn't just walk off the boat and ask the first passing revolting Libyan if he could 'take me to your leader.' Course, given the glakish 'couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery' nature of these clowns, they'd've probably picked a Gaddafi supporter. The SAS troops were detained as they 'escorted' a junior British diplomat through rebel-held territory, with the aim of 'establishing contact' with somebody in a vague position of authority. But they were arrested when the rebel forces became suspicious and resentful of the attempted British interference. Because, of course, every time in the past that the British have tried to involve themselves in the internal politics of the Middle East, that's always ended well, hasn't it? Haven't you guys ever watched Lawrence of Arabia? You'd like it, it's full of homoeroticism. And guns. The troops were detained when a search of their bags revealed ammunition, explosives, maps and fake passports, reports suggest. Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi quickly capitalised on the farcical situation, with state TV highlighting it as an example of Western outsiders trying to interfere and stir up unrest. Which, to be honest, it was. Even a crazed melgomaniac despot like Gaddafi occasionally gets one right. Additionally, Gaddafi could hardly not thank Allah for the public relations gift he'd just been handed. It was, basically, the political equivalent of an open goal. The sort that, by all accounts, his son Al-Saadi al-Gaddafi used to regularly miss when playing for a series of Serie A reserve teams in the early 2000s. On Sunday, state TV played a leaked tape of a phone conversation between Britain's ambassador to Libya, Richard Northern, and a rebel leader, Mostafa Abdel Jalil the country's former justice minister. Jalil was heard saying: 'They made a big mistake, coming with a helicopter in an open area.' Northern replied: 'I didn't know how they were coming.' Which, sort of sums up the entire operation. I'm reminded of that scene in Apocalypse Now where Martin Sheen asks the stoned, wired solider firing blindly at Charlie out on the wire 'who's in charge here?' and, getting only the reply 'ain't you?' Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya, said he found the entire incident 'bizarre.' He added: 'The phone lines to the country still work so there's still quite a lot of information there if you're prepared to dredge for it. I'm glad that this particular episode seems to have ended in farce rather than tragedy.' This laughably ridiculous malarkey is merely the latest in a series of crass PR disasters for the government which bears a strong resemblance to that period a couple of years ago when the last government seemed utterly incapable of getting through a day without somebody, somewhere putting their foot in it. Something significant happened in British politics over the last week and a half - David Cameron's media honeymoon, effectively, ended. A lot of the criticism of him and of the Government may have been arbitrary and some of it a shade unfair, but the mood has definitely changed within the media. And in places where you'd least expect it to change, at that. One of the Prime Minister's phrases helped the ridicule of him as a clueless hooray-Henry to achieve a critical mass. On an Internet forum in Oman he was asked what he would like to say to Libya: 'My question right now would be to Colonel Gaddafi, which is: "What on earth do you think you are doing? Stop it."' The tone, of Barbara Wodehouse transported into an episode Dad's Army, may add another layer to perceptions of this Eton Rifle, if only because of the apparent hopelessness of his government's attempts to extricate British nationals from a civil war zone. Another quotation, which may stick, was William Hague's last Monday: 'You asked me earlier about whether Colonel Gaddafi is in Venezuela,' he said to reporters in Brussels. 'I have no information that says he is, but I have seen some information that suggests he is on his way there at the moment.' Which, of course, he wasn't or anything even remotely like it. Sceptical journalists promptly told the Foreign Secretary's officials that they, too, had 'seen some information' which suggested the same thing. Because, they'd all been on Twitter as well. 'Diplomats said Hague was not referring to rumours circulating in the media about Gaddafi's whereabouts, but to separate sources for the information,' Reuters reported, solemnly, if somewhat unconvincingly. Within hours, the Foreign Secretary was made to look as big a fool as he did that time when he was Tory leader and unwisely bragged to GQ magazine about how many pints of beer he used to drink. No-one swallowed it, not least a local pub landlord who, effectively, called him a liar and labelled him 'Billy Fizz.' But not half as foolish as he looked when it turned out that his own department could not organise a plane to Tripoli and back without a week's notice. The front-page headline of Thursday's Evening Standard with Cameron and Hague's faces, We're Sorry, was bad enough. Quite another matter entirely was the sarcasm of the Daily Scum Mail's front page the next day: Makes You Proud to Be British! This is the Daily Mail we're talking about! Ominous for Cameron was the similarity between the Scum Mail's treatment and the Mirra's header Is Anyone Actually in Charge? Both newspapers listed the same series of unfortunate events. The lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt had unwittingly and cluelessly blown the gaff on a top secret SAS mission to rescue British workers from the Libyan desert. Next Nick Clegg (Lib Dem, allegedly), in an interview with Metro supplied the third great memorable quotation of the week. Asked if, as deputy prime minister, he was in charge of the nation whilst Cameron was off on a jolly, he replied with stunning foresight and statesmanship: 'Yeah, I suppose I am. I forgot about that.' These clownish bits of tripping over their own feet would not matter too much if the Government appeared to have an actual sense of purpose. But, on the contrary, they have done lasting damage because they seem to reflect Cameron's own lack of either a foreign policy or a Foreign Secretary worthy of the name. Cameron's foreign policy, or lack thereof, is perhaps the more important of the two. To start with the formative issue, he only just supported the Iraq war. But, he did support it so he can't even play the 'not in my name' card with anything approaching validity. He classified himself as one of 'the confused and uncertain,' who voted 'grudgingly, unhappily, unenthusiastically' for military action. Since then, he has stuck to his principles with the all of the constancy of a tennis ball being thrashed around the centre court. Some of his best friends are 'liberal interventionists,' he notes, and he is known to be an admirer of Tony Blair, but in a speech in Pakistan in 2008 he said: 'I am a liberal Conservative, not a neo-conservative.' In the same speech, he preferred cliché to meaning when noting: 'We should accept that we cannot impose democracy at the barrel of a gun; that we cannot drop democracy from ten thousand feet and we shouldn't try.' Did that mean British policy in Afghanistan and Iraq had been mistaken? Or, just Iraq? Or, just the democracy bit? Or what? He never chose to clarify. During the election campaign last year, Cameron played the 'muscular interventionist' card, pledging whatever it took to get the job done in Afghanistan, and to protect defence spending from the worst of the cuts. Soon after he was elected, he had spun on a bayonet-point to do the one thing that the interventionists thought was an open invitation to the Taliban to carry on fighting. Namely, to set a deadline for British troops to pull out of Afghanistan. We fight on, to the appointed hour, and then we come home. Then, he as good as declared that the main aim of British foreign policy was trade promotion. He went to India with a ministerial team that could have played football matches with substitutes to spare, and a gaggle of business leaders looking for government contracts. Then he, the squad and the hangers-on went to China for the next leg of the trade tour. It was only when the plane was already in the air and on its way to Kuwait last week that the Prime Minister seemed to have realised that the same approach might not look quite so good against a backdrop of freedom-chanting uprisings across the Arab world. He looked over his shoulder as if to say, 'Gosh, a plane-load of arms dealers. How did they get here?' And, when he landed, he gave a speech all about democracy. He said that people who implied there was a contradiction between promoting democracy abroad and defending British interests (as he had done) were entirely wrong, and that as Tony Blair always said the two were, in fact, mutually reinforcing. How did that square with selling weapons to some third world dictatorship? He dodged all the difficult questions about whether people demanding freedom in undemocratic parts of the world should receive any material or military help (even in the limited form of no-fly zones), and preferred to say that democracy was good and violence bad. Wasn't the world so much simpler a few years ago?

Louis Walsh and Dannii Minogue have reportedly been told that they will have to formally apply for their roles on The X Factor judging panel. According to the Mirra, the duo are said to be 'embarrassed and frustrated' after discovering that they have to go through an interview to secure their positions on the UK show. 'Simon wants them both back on the panel because he loves the chemistry the pair has developed,' an 'insider' allegedly told the paper.'The fact he has ordered them to reaudition and screen-test for their jobs is something of a formality - both are assured of the position. However, it is still pretty galling and to have to go through the motions of explaining why they would be good for the role, and what they could bring to the position, is extremely frustrating.' The 'source' supposedly continued: 'But Simon is determined to avoid complacency this series and wants all the judges to be at the top of their game. They are two of the most sought-after jobs in the industry so it's only fair they apply for their places just like anybody else. During the application process, the duo will answer questions about mistakes they made in previous shows and in what ways they would approach mentoring in 2011 - things to help freshen up this series, making it bigger and better than ever. Dannii especially is pretty embarrassed about the whole charade.' With continued uncertainty as to Cowell and Cheryl Cole's positions on both the UK and US versions of the show, recent reports have suggested that Lily Allen has been approached to join the ITV competition. 'Simon has a lot of names in the frame but is waiting until the last moment to announce them,' the source added.

Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott has been lined up to read BBC Radio 4's shipping forecast later this month, in aid of Comic Relief. Normally a BBC announcer reads the bulletin but early on 19 March former seaman Lord Prescott will step in. To make his delivery easier, the bulletin will be pre-recorded shortly before transmission. 'It's a real honour to be given the chance to read it and even better that it's for Red Nose Day,' he said.As a young man, Lord Prescott joined the Merchant Navy, where he worked as a ship's steward during the last days of the great ocean liners. He worked for Cunard. Personally, I still think he works pretty hard but that's by the by. What? He said: 'I've always been fascinated by the shipping forecast ever since I was a waiter on the liners. I used to sit in my bunk listening to it on the wireless.' If there's any comments about tossing at this point, there will be trouble. 'It has such a metronomic quality, like the rhythm of the sea. It feels like a poem.' His guest slot on the bulletin was offered to him after he made a joke on Twitter. BBC continuity announcer Alice Arnold, who is one of many who read the shipping forecast, spotted his remark on the micro-blogging site. 'I saw a tweet from John saying that he was doing an interview for Radio 4's The World Tonight show and he might as well stay on to do the shipping forecast,' she said. 'As I was reading it that night I tweeted he was welcome to do it so I could go home early. He then started tweeting the shipping forecast to me.' Lord Prescott will read the main part of the bulletin, which gives the forecast for the thirty one sea areas.

Masterchef: The Professionals' Michael Roux Jr has criticised Simon Cowell and The X Factor for ridiculing and humiliating their contestants. Roux, who has a reputation on Masterchef for being something of a 'soft touch' and leaving all the spiteful stuff to hatchet-faced Monica has spoken out against the way shows such as The X Factor humiliate people and said that he wouldn’t turn a Mister Nasty. Or, in his particular case, a Monsiuer Tres-Mal. 'It's easy to make shows where you scream, shout, vote people off and humiliate them,' he told the Sun. 'Simon Cowell and X Factor and in all of those shows there is voting off and ridiculing. That's not for me. The example they're setting is despicable.' The talent contestant, along with its counterpart Britain's Got Talent, have been routinely criticised in the past for putting contestants in front of the judges who are vulnerable or clearly have no talent in order to be mocked.

For America's beleaguered liberals, Monday's New York Times reports what sounds like a dream come true: FOX News is considering parting company with Mad As Toast right-wing knobcheese Glenn Beck, the rococo conspiracy theorist who inspires those on the swivel-eyed right and infuriates anyone to their left. According to the New York Times's media correspondent, David Carr, unnamed FOX News executives are said to be 'contemplating life without Mr Beck' when the conservative presenter's contract ends in December. Some dismiss this as part of the rough and tumble of contract negotiations going on between FOX and Beck. But others point to Beck's sagging viewing figures - especially his loss of a million viewers for his daily one-hour show over the past year - from an average of 2.9 million in January 2010 to 1.8 million in January 2011 - as more to the point, with Beck's increasingly paranoid stylings said to be driving away more moderate viewers and high profile advertisers. Democrats and others on the left would like to hope that it's Beck's outrageousness that has brought him to this impasse, and they may have a case. Beck - he's a loser, baby, so why don't you kill him? Oh no, sorry, that's another Beck - has recently got FOX News into hot water on some sensitive subjects. One was a long rant against George Soros - in itself hardly a crime as the wealthy liberal philanthropist is a favourite target of the FOX News commentariat. Beck though, went too far, and cast Soros - a Holocaust survivor - as: 'a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps.' That controversy had barely died down when Beck launched himself at Reform rabbis, equating them to 'radicalised Islam,' for which he later, sheepishly, apologised. (That statement, like most of Beck's more outrageous claims, came on his syndicated radio show, not on FOX News, although his high profile means it reflects upon the channel.) In between, Beck has been labelling Google as somehow orchestrating a single world government via its overthrow of regimes in North Africa (no, really), while at the same time claiming that the same set of regime changes also spells out the dawn of a sinister new 'Islamic Caliphate.' The NYT's Carr suggests that liberal protests has little to do with FOX News having coolness towards giving Beck a new contract: Many on the news side of FOX have wondered whether his chronic outrageousness - he suggested that the president has 'a deep-seated hatred for white people' - have made it difficult for FOX to hang onto its credibility as a news network. Some three hundred advertisers fled the show, leaving sponsorship to a slew of gold bullion marketers whose message dovetails nicely with Beck's end-of-times gospel hour rhetoric. Both parties go to some lengths to point out that that the discussion has nothing to do with persistent criticism from the left. Quite why Carr thinks complaints and a refusal to advertise in Beck's 5pm time slot are entirely unconnected is a mystery, since they easily could be, especially for the more vulnerable major brands such as Coca-Cola, BMW and AT&T. The New Republic recently summed up Beck's decline: Beck's commercial viability also seems to have suffered. His viewership among twenty five-to fifty four-year-olds, a prized advertising demographic, declined by almost half in 2010. An advertising boycott organized by liberal groups has caused over three hundred companies - including Procter & Gamble, UPS, Coca-Cola, and Wal-Mart—to stop showing commercials during Beck's show. The Beck brand isn't what it used to be off the airwaves either: His most recent non-fiction book, Broke: The Plan to Restore Our Trust, Truth and Treasure, was his first book in eight years not to reach number one on the New York Times best-seller list. Meanwhile, as a group, prominent conservatives have seemed more willing to speak out against Beck recently. Though some on the right always disparaged him - several profiles last year included anonymous FOX 'insiders' criticising Beck - almost none were willing to do so with their names attached. Recently, however, conservatives have been criticising Beck openly. Bill O'Reilly, who feted him for an hour after the Restoring Honor rally, has rapidly become more and more dismissive. There may be a simpler reason, or two in fact, behind FOX News's apparent case of cold feet. One is that Beck's dense conspiracy theorising makes for terrible television. While it had a novelty value at first - Beck's act has only been on FOX News for two years - it is far more intellectually demanding than anything similar on cable news. He rarely has guests and often appears before a blackboard covered in charts and arrows. In many respects Beck's hectoring resembles not much more than a tedious Open University lecture from the 1970s, but in colour and without the kipper ties. The format is dull, hence the inevitable loss of viewers. The other simple explanation is that FoOXNews can afford to play hardball because it has a ready-made replacement on hand, former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, a host with a similar appeal to Beck but with none of the downsides. Dobbs is conveniently parked on the FOX Business channel, and can easily switch places. Of course Beck has more to lose than FOX News, even if he does have his lucrative radio show to fall back upon. But without the FOX News seal of approval and the oxygen of publicity that comes from an hour a day on the channel, Beck would sink into the media morass alongside the likes of Michael Savage, shouting ever louder to be heard but signifying nothing. In any case, if FOX News does dump Beck, then look forward to Beck outlining the mother of all conspiracy theories. He's going to need a bigger blackboard.

The growth of web TV services has resulted in the traditional 'TV dinner' being replaced by the 'PC dinner' for almost a fifth of British people, according to new research conducted by SeeSaw. The video on-demand website owned by transmission firm Arqiva, found that sixty per cent of Britons confess to have eaten their evening meal in front of the computer, with a fifth doing so on a regular basis. More than half of the two thousand respondents surveyed also admitted to enjoying 'laptop lunches.' Yer Keith Telly Topping is, in fact, having one right now, dear blog reader. Nearly one in five of those polled claimed that they were now more likely to eat their dinner in front of the computer than the television. The favourite PC dinner programme for women was EastEnders, while for men it was Top Gear. Expect the Gruniad Morning Star to tut, loudly, and have something rite-on to say about that. Channel Four's Come Dine With Me was the most popular choice across both genders. For twenty three per cent of respondents surveyed the PC has now replaced the television as their main source of evening entertainment. Almost a third confess to using the web while on the toilet, while two thirds surf whilst in bed. The average time spent online in the evening for UK adults was just under two hours. Interestingly, a primary source of arguments among ten per cent of couples surveyed was about control over the computer rather than the TV remote. John Keeling, platform controller for SeeSaw, said: 'This incredible research shows how millions of British people cannot tear themselves away from the internet, even for dinner. The growth of the PC dinner is a remarkable new trend and for many across the nation, has now replaced the traditional TV dinner. The relentless growth of technology means that Brits now enjoy many of their programmes online and who better to eat your evening meal with than Jeremy Clarkson or the cast of EastEnders?'

A sailor may be discharged from the US Navy after he fell asleep in another sailor's bed while watching The Vampire Diaries. According to the Daily Scum Mail, Petty Officer Stephen C Jones claims that the relationship between the two sailors is platonic, stating that he simply fell asleep in fellow sailor Brian McGee's bed while watching the CW series. 'That is the honest, entire story,' Jones said. Jones's lawyer Gary Myers went on to say: 'The subterfuge is, they believe this kid is a homosexual, but they have no proof of it. So what they've done here is to trump this thing up as a crime. This is not a crime." Ooo, watching Vampire Diaries, I'm not sure that's true, actually. Definitely 'don't ask/don't tell' behaviour of some sort of other. Jones has been accused of 'willful failure to exhibit professional conduct.'

TV executives are reportedly desperate to land the broadcast rights to a talent show organised by the traveller community. The Daily Lies claims that the nationwide competition attracted hundreds of performers last year. It is hoped that the show could rival Britain's Got Talent, following the success of Channel Four's My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings series. Jake Bowers, from the Gypsy Media Company, told the paper that there has been a lot of interest from companies who want to make the competition for TV. 'When I was approached regarding the Big Fat Gypsy Weddings series, I mentioned I had organised Traveller's Got Talent last year,' he said. 'People were very keen. There was a lot of interest in it. Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities are perceived to be guilty of many things, but capable of nothing.' He continued: 'But the final and the regional finals that led up to it quash that myth. They have all demonstrated that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller young people, in particular, have talents, skills and abilities that are largely unrecognised by the world beyond their communities.' However, a Channel Five spokesperson ruled out their interest in the show commenting: 'We have no plans to develop a show of this nature. But we can't say what is going to happen in the future.'

Sir Anthony Hopkins is reportedly close to signing up to star in the latest James Bond movie. According to the Sun, the Oscar-winning Silence Of The Lambs actor is in discussions about playing 007's nemesis in the spy series' twenty third film. 'Insiders' have allegedly likened the part to recurring villain Ernst Blofeld from the early Bond pictures. 'The only stumbling block seems to be the number of films he is signing up for,' a source said. 'There is a chance the character they want him to play could become a regular feature, like Blofeld back in the day.' Course, given that Blofeld appeared in five movies and was never played by the same actor twice, that shouldn't, really, be a problem! Hopkins recently appeared in horror movie The Rite and can next be seen as Odin in Marvel adaptation Thor. Daniel Craig and Judi Dench will return for the untitled Bond adventure, while Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes are also allegedly in consideration for parts in director Sam Mendes' film.

Jason Gardiner has hit back at criticism of his comments to Tim Healy on Sunday night's Twatting About On Ice. The judge was offering his comments on Denise Welch's performance when her husband appeared on stage to confront him. Gardiner told the Benidorm and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet actor: 'Oh my God, your breath!' However, after the show he defended his comment on his Twitter page. 'Those who think I was rude to Tim Healy can shove it,' he wrote. 'He got in my face with breath that smelt of stale piss n [sic] alcohol whilst I was talking. I'm not perfect but at least I have oral hygiene.' So, now you're saying that Tim Healy drinks his own wee-wee Jason? This just gets better and better. Listen, mate, a tip. When you're in a hole, it's usually a good idea to stop digging. Asked if he would make the comment to Healy's face, he responded: 'I wouldn't go anywhere near that face again to be honest. But I have no problem telling people how I feel to their face. U know it [sic].' Meanwhile, Welch - who became the latest celebrity to leave the show - added: 'So many lovely tweets! Glad you loved Tim! My heart was in my mouth! I had no idea what he was going to do!' Healy himself had only one comment to make: 'It was lucky that I didn't chin him!' Gan on, Geordie, hoy the heed in, bonny lad!

Former royal butler Paul Burrell has reportedly been hired by FOX News to help present their coverage of Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding. The Sunday Mirra says that the ex-I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... contestant will provide expert commentary and conduct live interviews with members of the public. Burrell is quoted as saying: 'I'm absolutely delighted for William and Kate. I wish them every happiness in the world. William is an amazing boy. Now we will see the Princess's legacy truly unfolding.' The fifty two-year-old was a personal footman to Queen Elizabeth and also worked as Princess Diana's butler until her death in 1997.

Downing Street sources have made it clear that Prince Andrew may not survive as a UK trade envoy if there are any more damaging revelations about him. Business Secretary Vince Cable (Lib Dem, allegedly) said the grand old Duke of York (he had ten thousand quid) would have to judge his own position, although there would be 'conversations' about his future role. The prince has been widely criticised in the meida over his friendship with a convicted paedophile, the American financier Jeffrey Epstein. Ministers have defended the prince's work, adding it is regularly reviewed. 'I think we need to remember he is doing this as a volunteer, he is not a government appointee, he is not somebody who is appointed and sacked,' Cable told the BBC. 'The assessment of the businesses I have seen that have worked with him is that he has been supportive and helpful. I think it is down to him to judge the position he wants to be in. Obviously there are conversations which will take place with him about what he's to do in future.' BBC political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue said a Downing Street 'source' had conceded one more serious story could make the prince's role untenable. Our correspondent added that the prince was currently continuing in his job, but that the position was already reviewed on a regular basis. One review took place last Tuesday when Prince Andrew met Sir Jon Cunliffe, the prime minister's chief adviser on Europe and overseas business. The Downing Street source described the recent flurry of stories surrounding the Duke of York as the media trying to create 'guilt by association' but added that one more serious story could change the situation overnight. 'It's unlikely the government would actually sack Prince Andrew but may choose in the long run gradually to downgrade his activities, avoiding a damaging and embarrassing row between ministers and the Royal Family,' added our correspondent. Meanwhile Labour MP and former Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant has reiterated his view that Andrew should no longer be used as a UK trade ambassador. 'I am sure there are some countries in the world where having a visiting royal makes a difference, it makes it possible to have some meetings which wouldn't otherwise be possible,' he told BBC Breakfast. 'But I am afraid he has now just become a national embarrassment. My worry is that, sometimes when he goes on these trips, I am not sure whether he is helping us out or he is just helping himself.' He added: 'The truth is we shouldn't be using him for these delegations any more.' Royal historian Hugo Vickers said there had been 'rather irresponsible' harassment of Andrew by the press. 'I actually really disapprove very strongly of people being hounded out of a job, if he is doing a good job, by this sort of press coverage,' he said. 'I think if you actually examine the facts very carefully you will find that a lot of mud has been slung at him, some of it perhaps should have been, but an awful lot of it shouldn't.' Foreign Secretary Billy Fizz has also defended the prince's work. On Sunday he said Prince Andrew has done 'a lot of good for the UK' in his role as trade ambassador. Epstein was sentenced to eighteen months in prison in 2008 for soliciting a minor for prostitution. Prince Andrew has been the UK's Special Representative for International Trade and Investment since 2001, with the job of promoting Britain's business interests around the world.

A Californian cat nicknamed the klepto cat because of its knack for stealing clothes and household items will lead a pet parade in May. Dusty, who was filmed last month stealing clothes in San Mateo, is the guest of honour at Redwood City's annual pet parade, a fundraising event for the Peninsula Humane Society. Organisers told Foster City Patch that they were 'so excited' to secure Dusty's services, dubbing the cat 'a celebrity.' Dusty's owners, Jim Coleman and Jean Chu, have also agreed to an auction of unclaimed items taken by their cat, with all proceeds going to the society. Coleman said: 'It makes it more special, because that's where we originally got Dusty from.' Since footage of Dusty was first broadcast, Chu and Coleman have appeared on television and radio shows around the world, including The Late Show with David Letterman.

And so, dear blog reader, to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day. We're going into the sordid realms of drug-soaked dance music today with those mirthful rascals and scallywags of techno, The Shamen. And the last appearance of the late Will Sin on bass.What's often forgotten, because of the subsequent 'Eeezah Geezer' malarkey, is just how influential an LP In Gorbachev We Trust was when it came out with the indie-dance crossover crowd. We've never have had The Prodigy without it, for a kick-off. Songs like 'Adam Strange' and 'Synergy' were pointers to a thousand white boys with guitars who, suddenly, in the summer of 1989, discovered that, like, 'we've always had this dance element to our music.' My own favourite Shamen TV moment, though, was when they played 'Ebeneezer Goode' on Top of the Pops and Mr C bellowed, 'Ere! Got any underlay?' It's a rug-reference, y'see. You don't get wit like that from Westlife, dear blog reader.