Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What Do We Have For Entertainment? Cops Kickin' Gypsies On The Pavement

Doctor Who actress Karen Gillan - one of the tastiest ladies on planet Earth right now - is to play 1960s model Jean Shrimpton - one of the tastiest ladies on planet Earth forty years ago - in a BBC4 drama about her affair with the photographer David Bailey. The project, with a working title We'll Take Manhattan, will be Gillan's first major drama role since she was cast as the Doctor's companion Amy Pond in 2009. Bailey is still to be cast and production has yet to begin. The drama will focus on a 1962 Vogue photo shoot in New York.We'll Take Manhattan reveals how a young, visionary photographer refused to conform and insisted on using the unconventional model Jean Shrimpton on an important photo shoot for British Vogue, inadvertently defining the style of the 1960s along the way,' the BBC said. Kudos, the independent producer of [spooks], Hustle and Life on Mars, is making the drama. John McKay is writing and directing, with Rebecca Hodgson producing. Executive producers are McKay, Claire Parker and Ruth Kenley-Letts for Kudos and Lucy Richer for the BBC. The project is being co-financed by US cable arts channel Ovation. The drama follows in a long line of BBC4 biopics on subjects including Hattie Jacques, Enid Blyton, Gracie Fields, Frankie Howerd, Kenneth Williams, Hughie Green and Tony Hancock. Plans for We'll Take Manhattan were announced by the BBC4 controller, Richard Klein, as he unveiled the digital network's spring and summer 2011 programming line-up this week. The Prince of Wales will present The Prince and the Composer, a BBC4 documentary about 'Jerusalem' composer Hubert Parry. BBC4 is marking the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Terence Rattigan with a documentary about the playwright fronted by Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch while Richard E Grant will present The Secrets of the Arabian Nights. Upcoming BBC4 shows include Scrapheap Opera, in which junk, broken furniture and the contents of roadside skips are turned into instruments to be played by the BBC Orchestra, led by conductor Charles Hazlewood. The orchestra will attempt to perform a medley of three classical pieces, including Tchaikovsky's '1812 Overture', in a programme aiming to show how instruments work and the science of music. Afterlife, another BBC4 science show, looks at decay and decomposition through an Edinburgh Zoo exhibition to be displayed during the city's annual festival. The exhibition will feature a typical kitchen and garden in a purpose-built box and visitors to the event and online viewers will be able to witness the decay of everyday foods and substances over a two month period. The results will also feature in a programme to be presented by Oxford University's George McGavin. BBC4 seasons later this year will include Botany, tracing the history of plant science, including the three-part series Botany - A Blooming History. The Iceland season, reasonably enough, will explore Icelandic culture. And, thankfully, will not feature Kerry Katona, Coleen Nolan, Jason Donovan or Stacey Solomon. For which, trust me, we're all grateful. 'We're curious about the world around us and will continue to take an in depth exploration of subjects that you rarely see on television, from botany to Icelandic culture, as well as dramatising moments that have changed the course of cultural life, for example when David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton created an image that redefined the 1960s,' said Klein. He added that the channel has had a good start to 2011, increasing its audience share from 1.1 per cent in 2010 to 1.3 per cent for the year to date, helped by the success of shows including Hattie and imported crime drama The Killing.

Channel Four is said to be calling time on 'list shows,' which it has been running successfully for more than a decade on Saturday and Sunday nights on its main network and on its digital spin-off E4. According to 'a senior programming source,' Channel Four's new chief creative officer, Jay Hunt, who has been in her job for less than three months, has told colleagues that the programming genre, which usually relies on the findings of an online poll to rank subjects, has 'had its day.' Which has probably been true for five years at least, to be honest. 'It is felt that they are popular but we can be doing bolder and different things rather than something which is fun but which some people feel can feel a little spurious,' the source allegedly told the Gruniad. Instead the money saved from broadcasting clip shows will be ploughed back into original programming, particularly comedy. Last year Channel Four broadcast three list shows – 100 Greatest World Cup Moments, 100 Greatest Stand Ups and 100 Greatest Toys. E4 also broadcast three, The 50 Greatest Plastic Surgery Shockers, The Idiot Awards and How to Be Famous, alongside a handful of repeats. Which kind of suggests that they have, indeed, reached the bottom of the barrel. This came despite claims in 2007 by Channel Four's then director of television and content, Kevin Lygo, that the broadcaster would be abandoning that type of programme. 'I don't think we will be commissioning them any more,' Lygo, who left last year to become managing director of ITV Studios, said at the time. But while the format never quite went away, Channel Four insist that the end really is nigh for the list show except 'under very exceptional circumstances.' The broadcaster plans to keep Rude Tube, its occasional rundown of 'amusing or interesting' Internet clips presented by Alex Zane. And one list show waiting in the wings for a broadcast in April is 50 Worst Weddings, which will form part of the channel's coverage of the royal wedding. 'The Jonathan Ross rundown of the nation's favourite toys did well last year and if Jonathan comes up with an exceptionally brilliant idea like that we may do it,' added the Channel Four source. 'But the direction of travel is now very much not to do them any more.'

Matt Lucas has revealed that he would 'love' a role in EastEnders. The comedian told the Radio Times that he would relish the opportunity to join the Walford dynasty, admitting that it would put his acting skills to the test. Lucas said: 'I'd love to play the youngest Mitchell brother in EastEnders, but I would have to learn how to talk really quietly and menacingly.' He joked: 'Failing that, [I'd play] Pat Butcher's long-lost sister Nat, who would obviously also have a penchant for bleached hair, big earrings and leopard print.' The Come Fly With Me star also admitted that he is unable to watch himself on screen. 'If I am flicking through the channels and a repeat of Little Britain is on BBC3, I flick right on,' he said.

Richard Hammond has admitted his regret at the 'misunderstanding' of jokes he made about Mexicans and their cars on Top Gear. The presenter had described Mexican cars 'lazy, feckless [and] flatulent' in an edition of the BBC2 show earlier this year. His co-hosts Jeremy Clarkson and James May also made comments, including a suggestion that there would be no complaints because the Mexican Ambassador would be asleep. However, the Mexican Ambassador wasn't asleep although he was, clearly, suffering from a severe sense of humour bypass. He promptly lodged a complaint with the broadcaster, criticising the 'offensive, xenophobic and humiliating remarks' made by the trio. About his country's cars. Speaking to Metro, Hammond said: 'I regret any misunderstanding or upset that was caused. It was clearly intended as a joke. I was trying to portray myself as actually believing the images of Mexicans I received from Westerns were accurate.' He added: 'I clearly don't actually believe that - and the majority of people understood that. I was intentionally being ridiculous.' The BBC defended the comments, made as what it described as 'stereotype-based comedy,' and confirmed that the executive producer of Top Gear had apologised to the Mexican Ambassador.

Viewers of a certain age have fond memories of Top of the Top from the 1970s, when the likes of Dave Lee Travis, Noel Edmonds, Sensational Tony Blackburn and Jimmy Savile presided over a cheesy circus of big hair, massive flares and really bad dancing. From next Thursday BBC4 is giving viewers the chance to compare their memories with the reality, showing vintage Top of the Pops episodes from the equivalent week, starting in April 1976, in the music chart show's old BBC1 slot, 7.30pm. The BBC4 controller, Richard Klein, said the network planned to continue with the weekly TV nostalgia experiment for at least a year – and possibly longer – depending on its popularity. Klein added that the BBC4 had chosen April 1976 as a starting point because that was when the corporation began keeping every episode of TOTP. Before that, its archive of the show, which ran weekly from 1964 and 2006, is more patchy. Musically, April 1976 was something of an in-between era – after glam and before punk, with disco in full swing. Brotherhood of Man's Eurovision winner 'Save Your Kisses For Me' was number one in early April 1976, during a six-week stay at the top of the chart. 'The variety is extraordinary, all types of music,' said Klein. 'Today singles come and go from the chart quickly. Then they continued across many weeks, bands would stay in the charts for eight or ten weeks. You will get to watch your favourites two or three times.' The BBC commissioning editor of music and events, Jan Younghusband, added: 'Top of the Pops was at its most successful as a variety show, not just as a pop show.'

Representatives for Ant and Dec have said that reports suggesting the pair were involved in a hot air balloon accident are not true. Kent Online claimed that the presenting duo were filming titles for the upcoming series of ITV's Britain's Got Talent when the incident occurred. Plasterer Jim O'Cock detailed how the hot air balloon had crash landed with a 'resounding bump' after it apparently ran out of fuel over Maidstone. This is still 30 March, not the 1 April just in case you're wondering, dear blog reader. The forty two-year-old claimed he and several others had run to the aid of McPartlin and Donnelly as they observed the balloon fall 'out of the sky.' He said: 'They were absolutely lovely people, so down to earth.' Boom-boom. 'I told Ant he looked a bit shaken after the balloon landed, but his reply isn't printable. They said Kent looked lovely from above and asked about the oast houses we're working on because they'd never seen one before.' However, writing on their Twitter account, Hackford Jones PR stated: 'Stories currently running on line saying Ant & Dec had a hot air balloon crash whilst filming BGT are completely untrue. [sic]' This despite the fact that Kent Online have a photograph which appears to show the Geordie duo standing in front of a - very deflated - balloon. 'I shouted jokingly, "nice of you to drop in,"' O'Cock added. 'And this Geordie voice replied, "there's always a comedian isn't there?"' Well ... not noticeably on Ant & Dec's Push The Button, no. Although to be fair that is, also, sinking like a burst balloon.

The BBC's website went offline for almost an hour last night. The corporation's press office, clearly taken by surprise, said: 'We apologise for the loss of BBC Online. We are looking into it.' But just as millions of users started to look for the Ceefax button on their remote controls, the site was back. Nevali, described as a 'metadata magician at the BBC,' tweeted: 'It's not a DoS [Denial of Service] attack. Routing went away. Software config or hardware problem.' It didn't take long for the Twitterverse to catch light with some outlandish conspiracy theories. 'So the entire BBC website is offline – a glimpse of the future if the Murdochs and their pals, David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt, have their way,' wrote one Dick Mandrake. Somebody called Gary Delaney added: 'I don't believe all these rumours about the BBC website being down. There's nothing about it on the BBC website.' All of this was, of course, gleefully reported as 'news' by the Gruniad who seem to trawl Twitter for most of the quotes they use on just about every story these days as though that is the final arbiter of all things newsworthy. For instance, they also noted that Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC World Service, tweeted: 'We're having technical problems with the BBC website – they are being looked into urgently. Apologies from BBC News.' But the rumours continued anyway, given fuel by the news this January that the BBC had confirmed it would cut its online budget by twenty five per cent, or thirty four million smackers. Some of the more outrageous rumours claimed that Aunty might have been attacked by the Hacker collective known as Anonymous. Although why Anonymous would want to attack one of the few new services in the world that is, genuinely, independent and trustworthy is another matter entirely. Now, if somebody had claimed it was the Chinese, or the Iranians, or No. 10, then this blogger might've believed it. Some time later, Steve Herrmann, the editor of the BBC news website, said in a blog post: 'It's not often we get a message from the BBC's technical support teams saying, "Total outage of all BBC websites." But for getting on for an hour this evening, until just before midnight, that's what happened. We haven't yet had a full technical debrief, but it's clear it was a major network problem. We'd like to apologise to everyone who couldn't get onto the BBC News website during that time.' The sprawling network of websites, known collectively as BBC Online, launched in 1997. Last year, the BBC said it was investigating after members of the public said they could not access the World Cup and Wimbledon live streaming. Others could not access the site at all – getting a '500 internal server error' message instead. In 2009, similar problems appeared to afflict the site. On that occasion, the BBC said it was caused by a network failure which slowed down access to the site and had prevented some people from visiting its home page.

House actress Olivia Wilde has dropped hints about her upcoming return to the show. The actress is a series regular on the FOX medical drama, but has not appeared since the seventh season premiere episode last September due to other filming commitments. Wilde told Entertainment Weekly: 'I have to say, this episode is probably my favourite that I've ever done on the show. It explores her return, but it kind of takes the scenic route.' The episode, entitled The Dig, will see House pick up Wilde's character, Thirteen, from jail and take her on a road trip, determined to uncover the secret of her incarceration. 'In order to sort of melt her steely resolve, he has to show a little bit of his own vulnerability,' she explained. 'I think that's what makes their interaction ultimately really kind of unusual and really interesting. He's reaching out to her and showing her his rawness.' Wilde promised that viewers will eventually discover Thirteen's secret, after some initial misdirection. 'It comes after several attempts [by Thirteen] to throw [House] off the course,' she said. 'She tries to throw him off the scent, but it doesn't work because he's too smart. She eventually has to give it up.' House's executive producer David Shore previously claimed that Wilde's return to the show will be 'cool,' whilst Amber Tamblyn has confirmed that Thirteen will cross paths with her own departing character, Martha Masters.

A few bits of scheduling news: An extended Time Team Special is scheduled for 9pm on Channel Four on Monday 11 April. Later that week, on Wednesday, The Life Of Riley is promoted to an 8:30 slot on BBC1, with what looks like new episodes of DIY SOS before it at 7:30. Channel Four have one-off documentary on Thursday Meet The Middletons at 9pm. EastEnders on Thursday 14 April apparently runs from 7:25 to 8:00 - a thirty five minute episode. To make up for it losing five minutes the previous day, The ONE Show on Friday 15 April is on for sixty five minutes from 6:55 to 8pm. It's also repeated later that evening so it's clearly some sort of special.

Identical twins Cat and Sam Wilkinson have 'hit out' at the producers of ITV dating show Take Me Out. The duo, who appeared on the second series of the Paddy McGuinness hosted programme, claimed that they had been 'stitched up' by being made to appear with matching hairstyles and outfits. 'The producers never wanted us to get a date,' Cat told the Sun. 'We were only ever put on the show to look like twinnie freaks. Standing there week after week was soul destroying.' The duo were bypassed by fifty two men over the course of the series which sees thirty single ladies attempt to land a date with a man. Sam continued: 'We were horrified and broke down in tears. But despite begging them to let us go on as ourselves, they refused. We had to stand next to each other with our hair made to look over-the-top wild frizzy and these ridiculous clothes.' Cat went on to claim that the episodes had been edited to make them appear 'unintelligent,' prompting online critics to post 'nasty' messages about them. The twenty one-year-old said: 'Most chats were edited out as if we had nothing to say. We came over as unintelligent fools. People posted nasty stuff. We were called Fat and Fatter, and The Ugly Twins. We were just the novelty for viewers to pity.' An ITV 'source' allegedly responded: 'It's a shame the girls were unhappy as our aim is definitely to get everyone a date.' Instead of responding, as he should have, 'they signed up to go on a shown in which desperate women trying to get a date, what the Hell did they expect for their five minutes for fame?' Or, you know, something similar.

Oprah Winfrey is celebrating a legal victory after a US judge dismissed a sixty two and a half million pound lawsuit which alleged that she violated copyright during an episode of her talk show. The author Charles Harris filed the suit against the media mogul last year, alleging that Winfrey read questions from his political booklet, How America Elects Her Presidents, during an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show which was broadcast in February 2009. He claimed to have sent her copies of the publication in 2008 when she began supporting Barack Obama's presidential campaign. Harris filed the suit in Pennsylvania accusing her of copyright infringement for allegedly using his materials in her show. Winfrey's legal team subsequently filed a counter-motion to dismiss the case and seeking sanctions for a frivolous lawsuit. US district court judge Jan DuBois agreed to dismiss the case, but did not award any sanctions, which could have led to Harris being handed a massive fine for filing a lawsuit which has little chance of being won, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

A woman who burst into a hotel to tell a group of foreign journalists how she was gang raped by Moammar Gaddafi's troops will face criminal charges, a Libyan government spokesman has said. Moussa Ibrahim said that the men accused by Iman al-Obeidi have filed a case against her, calling her accusations a 'grave offence.' Iman al-Obeidi was allegedly held hostage at the Libyan leader's compound in Tripoli, after being dragged away by government minders when she tried to make her accusations public at a hotel in the capital on Saturday. The woman, who is a lawyer, said that troops had detained her at a Tripoli checkpoint on Wednesday, tied her up, abused her, then led her away to be gang-raped by fifteen men. 'They tied me up, they even defecated and urinated on me,' she said. 'The Gaddafi militiamen violated my honour.' Her story could not be independently verified although she was, clearly, very upset and angry when she rushed into a Tripoli hotel on Saturday morning, seeking to speak about her ordeal. She was tackled by waitresses and government minders and dragged away from the site despite protestations by many of the assembled journalists, and has since been missing. Libyan authorities have alternately labelled al-Obeidi a drunk, a prostitute and a thief. In an interview with al-Jazeera Arabic TV, broadcast on Monday, Obeidi's parents claimed she was being held hostage at Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound in the capital. Her mother said that she had received a phone call on Monday from an unidentified caller, purportedly from the Gaddafi camp, telling her that Obeidi was at the compound and asking her to instruct her daughter to change the rape claim in return for freedom and other benefits. 'Whatever you ask for, you will get: build a new house or get the money,' the mother claimed that the caller had offered.

The Leigh Francis character Keith Lemon has replaced Vernon Kay on ITV’s prime time entertainment format Sing if You Can after a pilot revealed the show would work better in the hands of a comedian. Out, out of the hands of Vernon Kay, whichever you prefer. An ITV 'insider' said that the format, which sees alleged 'celebrities' battle it out by singing in an extreme circumstances, took it 'by surprise' and was more 'madcap' in tone than expected. As a result, the broadcaster sat down with producer RDF Television last week and it was decided that Lemon, who was originally slated as a judge on the show, will replace original host Kay. Former X Factor contestant Stacey Solomon will remain in place as co-host. For the overseas market, presumably since just about everything she says is not recognisable as English. 'The tone took us by surprise a little - there was much more mayhem than we expected and we felt that a comedian would be best suited to host the show,' the ITV 'source' supposedly said. Kay added: 'Following the pilot, the producers and I sat down and talked about the tone of the show we all agreed that because of the mix of comedy and slapstick challenges that it would benefit from having a comedian host it. I’m really happy with the decision.' The six part series, to broadcast in mid-April on ITV, will see stars try to perform songs while undertaking challenges designed to distract them. Familiar faces including X Factor evictees Jedward and one-hit wonder Chesney Hawkes (he is the one and only) will attempt to hold their nerve while having their chest waxed or sitting atop a specially designed erupting volcano. The performances will be judged by a 'celebrity' panel, but the audience will decide which team will go on to try and secure money for the show's nominated charity, Teenage Cancer Trust. A member of the losing team will be dropped in a giant tank of water.

Kirsty Gallacher has signed up to front Sky Sports News' new-look Good Morning Sports Fans show from May. Luscious, pouting Gallacher began her career on Sky Sports in 1999 and went on to host shows including Sky1's Gladiators, Soccer Aid and be part of ITV's Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. Albeit, not a very good part. Speaking about her return to the channel, she said: 'I'm delighted to be joining Sky Sports News HD. Sport has always been my passion. As a viewer I've watched how the channel has grown and developed over the last few years and I've remained in contact with many people at Sky. The scale of what it does now is breathtaking. I can't wait to start.' Sky Sports News executive editor Andy Cairns added: 'We're all delighted that Kirsty is joining - especially at such an exciting time for Sky Sports News. She compliments a team in the newsroom with a wealth of talent and experience. Our viewers have always loved Kirsty and her natural, conversational style, which is perfect for the new look Good Morning Sports Fans show we're launching later this summer.'

Channel Four is reportedly to have recommissioned the sitcom Friday Night Dinner, according to the TV critic Boyd Hilton. The first episode of the comedy was C4's highest ratings-performing debut for a sitcom since Max & Paddy in 2004, and the series has gone on to average 1.6m viewers in overnight ratings so far, including figures from C4+1.

Bones actress Michaela Conlin has promised that her character Angela will not be sidelined after giving birth. On the FOX series, the character is having a baby with her husband Jack Hodgins (played by TJ Thyne). Discussing Angela's future, Conlin told Entertainment Weekly: 'That was something I definitely talked to Hart Hanson about. When the pregnancy came up initially, I didn't want it to change who Angela was and how adventurous she is.' The actress joked that Angela will try 'to strap that baby in as she travels the world. I feel like Hart has always been very receptive to [my concerns],' she said. 'Besides the fact that Hodgins has a lot of money, so maybe we can have somebody helping us.' Conlin previously expressed her desire to have Angela's labour scenes be 'something really unconventional, given [her] crazy past.'

Helen Mirren has described joining the celebrity hand and foot prints outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood as a 'moment of triumph' on a par with winning an Oscar and becoming a dame. 'I've always loved the history of Hollywood,' she said as she left her mark outside the Los Angeles landmark. 'It's with incredible pride that I'm here to become a part of that history. 'Dame Helen was joined by Russell Brand - her co-star in upcoming comedy remake of Arthur - at Monday's ceremony. Brand said he felt 'hugely honoured' to be involved in her festivities 'having spent the last three months utterly ensnared by her charm.' Dame Helen has won a string of awards, including the Oscar, for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen. The star of stage and screen is well-known for her theatrical performances and for her recurring role as DCI Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect. Next month she will be seen on US television hosting an episode of long-running comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live.

UKTV channel Watch have announced some plot details for Primeval's fifth series, including the appearance of a new regular character, April. Series five of the family time-travelling dinosaur drama will, as announced earlier in the week, begin on the pay TV channel from Tuesday 24 May. The channel's press office told the CultBox website: '[Series five] features more stunning special effects, adventure and incredible creatures, as the team at the ARC have their work cut out for them to police ruptured time anomalies, and the growing threat of entrepreneur Philip Burton, whose grip on the ARC is tightening with every episode. The series starts with the team still reeling after Danny's re-appearance and warning from the dramatic end of Series four. A vicious burrowing creature brings chaos to the city, forcing the team to track down the movements of this monster. When the creature strikes for the final time, the team finds one of its own in mortal danger. Matt, meanwhile, is now determined to wipe this creature off the face of the Earth - does he know more about this creature than he's letting on? Back at the ARC, Philip has provided Connor with a new lab assistant. But is there more to April than meets the eye? As the series continues, we'll see edge-of-your-seat adventures onboard a nuclear submarine, back in Victorian London and a volcano, at the same time finding out the truth about Matt's secret mission and Philip's true ambitions for Connor and the ARC.' And, hopefully, this time it might, actually, get some viewers.

The great phone-hacking scandal goes on and one - endless but absolutely fascinating. A bit like Bruce Forsyth. There may never be an actual end to the saga, but we are all hugely enjoying it. When we learned, for instance, that the News of the World actually had a huge number of e-mails which they had told us, in complete sincerity, were quite irretrievable – two of the leading protagonists had a bit of a set-to in the Commons. In one corner was Chris Bryant, the former Labour Europe minister and the party's most effective attack dog of late on this story and others relating to the media. In the boys-in-blue corner was John Yates, the senior copper who handled, or possibly mishandled the, shall we be charitable, as the Gruniad does, and call it a 'somewhat lackadaisical' investigation into the saga for a few years. Bryant had used parliamentary privilege to accuse Yates of ... general uselessness, basically. Yates has been trooping round parliamentary committee rooms arguing that Bryant has got it, and him, all wrong. At one point he threatened to sue for libel if the allegations were to be repeated outside parliament. The Gruniad is clearly loving this: 'Nobody has had their sword broken over a knee yet, but it can't be long,' they note. The skirmish was at the home affairs committee. Messrs Bryant and Yates came in to hear each other's evidence. Bryant's theme was that Yates had 'misled' MPs on at least two important issues: whether the people whose numbers had been unearthed and who might have been victims of hacking had been informed. Some of them, seemingly, were, others weren't. There was also a legal quibble. Yates had believed that no actual crime had been committed unless the hacker had heard a voice-mail message before the owner picked it up. 'This is, you might think, like saying it's a crime to steal someone's car, or silverware, but only if they have not already used them,' the Gruniad contents. It was, truth be told, difficult to follow the proceedings, since the committee had only one hour and the chairman, Labour MP Keith Vaz, wanted to get things moving. He had several ways of saying 'thank you!' in a voice that appeared to mean, 'get on with it,' 'mush!' or simply 'shut up!' Bryant said that Yates had always insisted there were 'few victims' whilst, in fact, Scotland Yard knew of 'a vast number.' Six thousand is the current figure being bandied about. How, asked Mark Reckless MP, could that be inadvertent rather than deliberate? 'Quite!' said Bryant, in one of the longer replies he was permitted to give by the committee. Next it was Yates's turn. He was asked if he had not enjoyed too many meals with News International staff. He replied that he had probably had more meals with Guardian people. At the end, Bryant legged it out of the room while Assistant Commissioner Yates was getting ready to leave. But once in the corridor they conducted rival briefings, each 'proving that they were right and the other one wrong.' Seriously, this one could go on forever.

England's friendly international with Ghana eclipsed the finale of popular legal drama Silk in ratings terms - if not, necessarily, in terms of quality - on Tuesday evening, the latest audience data has revealed. Live coverage of England's 1-1 draw with Ghana was watched by an average audience of six million on ITV1 between 7.30pm and 10.15pm. Who probably mostly enjoyed Andy Carroll's first England goal but, frankly, not much else. Particularly ITV's once again amateurish coverage. In the 9pm hour, series one of Silk bowed out with a steady 4.7m on BBC1, while Katie: My Beautiful Friends averaged 1.57m for Channel Four with a further two hundred and seventy four thousand viewers on +1. Earlier, BBC1's Holby City was watched by 5.79m in the 8pm hour. Over on BBC2, a repeat of Sunday night's Wonders Of The Universe captivated 1.31m in the 7pm hour, before The Hairy Bikers: Mums Know Best was watched by 2.14m from 8pm.

However, it was good news for Silk elsewhere as it was announced on Wednesday morning that it had been recommissioned for a second series. Starring Maxine Peake, Rupert Penry-Jones and Neil Stuke, consolidated ratings figures for the first six-part series adding seven-day catch-up viewing on PVRs such as Sky+, shows that so far the drama - based on the lives and loves of barristers - has averaged an audience of around six million viewers per episode. No only that, but it's actually pretty decent as legal dramas go. The new six-part series will be broadcast in 2012. It was recommissioned by BBC1 controller Danny Cohen and BBC drama controller Ben Stephenson. Cohen said: 'Maxine Peake has excelled in Silk and we're delighted to be bringing this high quality, popular drama back for a second series.' Stephenson added: 'Having a writer of Peter Moffat's calibre writing a series is what drama at the BBC is all about. The audiences who have fallen in love with Martha, Clive and Billy can look forward to six brand new cases next year.'

London's switch to digital television will be completed in time for the Olympics next summer, Digital UK has confirmed. There had been fears that the biggest region to transfer from analogue to digital might not be done in time for the London Games, which start on 27 July. However it is understood that the process will begin about this time next year and be completed by June. The exact date when the analogue transmitter in Crystal Palace which serves the majority of London will be switched off will be announced on Thursday 7 April. The rolling switchover programme to turn the UK over to digital television began in 2007 in Whitehaven in Cumbria and has so far been carried out with remarkably few hitches. However, London is the biggest region so far and is likely to attract a lot of media attention, as many journalists and politicians are based in the capital. The Digital UK London manager, Vivien Morgan, told the Gruniad: 'As soon as Digital UK became aware of the 2012 Olympics date it was paramount that with such a huge event happening digital switchover in London was completed before then. Such an event makes our job easier in some respect as we found with the football World Cup, people think that with such an occasion coming up they go out and buy a new digital television or one capable of receiving high definition.' Granada, Border, Wales, the West Country and the north of Scotland regions have already switched to digital terrestrial TV and central Scotland is currently going through the process of turning off its analogue signal. Switchover in the Anglia and Central regions is due to begin on Wednesday, with Yorkshire following in August, and Meridian, Tyne Tees and Ulster switching early next year along with London.

Police are said to be concerned about the welfare of a BBC Bristol and Somerset radio presenter who has gone missing. Peter Rowell was last seen on Tuesday morning at 8:30am when he set off for work from his home in Wickwar in South Gloucestershire. Police said that he parked his car at Morrison's supermarket in Yate but are concerned as it has not been possible to contact him. He is believed to have been depressed after the recent death of a close relative. A BBC spokesman said: 'Our main concern is for Peter's welfare and we'll provide all the support we can for his family.' Rowell, originally from Sunderland, presents The Afternoon Show on BBC Radio Bristol and BBC Somerset - a mixture of music and celebrity interviews. He has worked at BBC Bristol since last May and is a well-known face in the West County making many public appearances. Rowell has previously been a news presenter for ITV West and worked as a DJ on commercial radio station GWR in the 1980s - now part of the Heart group. Avon and Somerset police have asked Rowell, or anyone who may have information, to contact them.

Traditional Midsomer Murders-type villages really are a hotbed of racism and bigotry, new research has claimed. In the almost exclusively white enclaves, ethnic minorities suffer verbal abuse, physical violence and police apathy, it is alleged. Residents believe the countryside is a haven from what they consider 'negative attributes' of cities, including noise, pollution, crime and multiculturalism, the study by senior lecturers in criminology at the University of Leicester found. 'Commonly, they also felt forgotten or overlooked by criminal justice agencies, who seemingly refused to take their victimisation seriously,' they said in a report. The findings follow the resignation of Brian True-May as executive producer of Midsomer Murders after he admitted refusing to cast non-white actors in the show, saying 'it wouldn’t be an English village with them.'

Sir Paul McCartney has told of his delight after he was chosen to be immortalised on a mural at a library in his hometown of Liverpool. Officials at Liverpool Central Library plan to dedicate areas of the facility to famous artists who hail from the city, and The Beatles legend came top in a ballot of residents. His name will be used in a mural covering the rear of the building, and McCartney has written a letter to library bosses thanking them for the honour. He writes, 'I would be very happy for my name to be used on the external cladding of the redeveloped Liverpool Central Library and Archive. Thank you for doing me the honour.'

Author John Le Carre has asked judges to withdraw his name from the Man Booker International Prize shortlist saying he does not wish to take part. The British thriller writer said he was 'enormously flattered' but added: 'I do not compete for literary prizes.' But chief judge Rick Gekoski said that he and his panel were 'great admirers' of Le Carre and that his name would, 'of course, remain on the list.' Philip Pullman and Rohinton Mistry are also up for the sixty thousand pound biennial award. The list features thirteen writers from eight countries including China, which is represented - by 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize winner Su Tong - for the first time. The winner of the prize, which is awarded to a living author whose work has been published in English or widely translated into English, will be announced at the Sydney Writers' Festival in Australia on 18 May. Gekoski said the list was 'diverse, fresh and thought-provoking.' Le Carre's novels include The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, The Tailor of Panama and The Constant Gardener. Pullman is best known for His Dark Materials trilogy, which has won numerous prizes including the Carnegie Medal.

Off the Fence Productions has been recommissioned to follow a rogue gang of thieving monkeys. The Bristol office of OTF will produce the thirteen-part series Monkey Thieves, which returns to the mischievous Galta Gang – a sixty-strong troupe of rhesus macaques which live in a Hindu temple in India. It has been commissioned by Laurent Flahault for France Televisions and John Pannikar for Hi-Fi Canada. The producer is Colin Collis and executive producer Allison Bean. Flahult said: 'For the French version, Gang de Macaques, we wanted to create something new, and try a different tone for the commentary. We therefore decided to work with a young stand-up comedian, who recasts the narrative in a modern street-wise style of language. The result is an original and lively series which brings in a younger audience.'

A popular TV game show in the Philippines has been forced to apologise after featuring a boy of six being mocked by the audience as he tried to dance and sing. And, you thought Britain's Got Talent was ruthless? The boy was in tears when he performed as a contestant on an episode of Willing Willie, which is described as 'a variety talent and game show' which features mostly poor Filipinos who earn cash prizes for singing, dancing, telling their stories or playing games. Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman condemned 'the emotional abuse and humiliation' suffered by the little boy. She said that the host, Willie Revillame, and the audience showed no concern for the child and that the programme broke the law on child abuse. It was not clear if Revillame and channel TV5 will face any criminal charges. The government's Commission on Human Rights and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board said it will investigate. TV5 apologised on behalf of Revillame and the station, saying there was no intention to humiliate the boy who was accompanied by his aunt who had approved his performance. It said the boy, called Jan-Jan, appeared to be in tears, not because he was forced to dance, but because he became scared of a towering former basketball player who also was on the set. The boy earned a prize of ten thousand pesos for his dance. Women's group Gabriela said the dance was punctuated by the live audience's loud cheers and guffaws and was 'an act of child abuse. Putting pressure on children to do acts such as mimicking adult sexy dances, in exchange for a certain amount of money, and at the expense of being laughed at and ridiculed by hundreds of people, clearly traumatises the child,' Soliman said in her statement. 'This is a clear form of child abuse and will not be tolerated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.'

Chinese spies have been accused of hacking into the Australian prime minister Julia Gillard's computer and those of at least ten of her Ministers. The cyber attacks are also said to have also targeted the Foreign Affairs Minister and Defence Minister, resulting in several thousand e-mails possibly being accessed. Although since the vast majority of them were merely discussing Ricky Ponting's resignation, that's probably not going to worry the Aussies too much. A spokesman for the Labour government of Welsh-born Gillard declined to confirm or deny the reports, which said that tip-offs from the CIA and FBI had raised the alarm. But 'sources' in the government have confirmed that the espionage had. Among a list of suspected foreign hackers, said the sources, were Chinese intelligence agencies. China has long been suspected of infiltrating and manipulating computer networks around the world, causing major concern in the Pentagon. US military officials say China's sophisticated hacking skills have become a new and potentially dangerous military capability. Despite the US claims that China's cyber-warfare capabilities were formidable, Beijing has always strongly denied carrying out any computer spying. The Melbourne Herald-Sun newspaper paper said that the cyber attacks are thought to have occurred on the Australian Parliament House e-mail network, used mainly for MPs' correspondence and not on the more secure departmental network which ministers use for sensitive communications. But there was said to be concern in government circles that unknown hackers had, along with the computer of Gillard, been accessing computers of several Cabinet ministers, among them Foreign Affairs Minister - and former Prime Minister - Kevin Rudd and Defence Minister Stephen Smith.

A wealthy financier, who may or may not exist, involved in a family dispute, which may or may not exist, has made British legal history by winning anonymity in a libel case. Or otherwise. This latest court attempt to censor Internet material has led to claims that free speech is being further eroded in Britain. Which probably does exist but, just to hedge our bets, may not. Allegedly. In what the Gruniad Morning Star - which definitely does exist - describes as 'a novel extension of controversial superinjunctions,' Mr Justice Tugendhat, who may or may not exist, forbade anyone in Britain from identifying 'Mr Z', a man who claims to have been 'defamed' by his relatives in 'a row over a multimillion pound family trust.' Which may or may not exist. This blogger certainly would not dream of identifying Mr Z. Even if I knew who he was. Or, indeed, wasn't. Which I don't, by the way. Just so we're all very clear about this. Never even heard of the dude, all right? Who may, or may not, exist. The judge ordered that the relatives' identities also be kept secret, and that no-one be allowed to detail allegations aired in the secret hearings in the high court in London. Which may or may not exist (although I'm pretty sure that it does cos I've seen it on, like, maps and shit.) His ruling was published under the coded title ZAM v CFW and TFW. This 'extreme, court-ordered, secrecy' followed alleged threats on behalf of Mr Z's relations, who may or may not exist, to publicise their accusations globally on the Internet, which may or may not exist, where 'they could not be suppressed.' Allegedly. Mr Z told the judge that the allegations were 'entirely false,' and claimed that he was being blackmailed. Additionally, no defence was produced that the accusations were, indeed, true. Shortly after Tugendhat issued the gagging order, a lengthy set of allegations appeared online. Supposedly posted by a blogger in Niger. Which may or may not exist. In Africa. Which, also, may or may not exist (although, if it doesn't, where do all the Africans come from?) According to the Gruniad, this Niger blog - which may or may not exist - published a series of allegations which accuse Mr Z of misappropriating monies and of a serious offence of a sexual nature. Or not as the case may be. The judge's ruling means that no 'published source' in the UK can provide any information which would help any third party, who may or may not exist, to locate the posting on the Internet. Which may or may not exist. But the online document itself, which may or may not exist, would appear to be immune to British court rulings. Or, perhaps, not. Perhaps, we'll never care. Google, which may or may not exist, says of its service,, which definitely does exist because you're reading it right now, that it usually only censors illegal or hate-speech postings, and provides: 'a free service for communication, self-expression and freedom of speech.' Which yer actual Keith Telly Topping, who may or may not exist, is very grateful for. Or, indeed, otherwise. People in other countries, who may or may not exist, can continue to discuss the allegations. Which may or may not exist. The newspaper, which sadly, does exist, suggests that 'sources claiming to be close to the man's relatives' told the Gruniad they were living in Italy, which does exist because they've won the World Cup a few times, and, therefore, 'out of British jurisdiction.' The 'Niger blogger', if he or she exists, or otherwise, had purportedly been sent court documents, which may or may not exist, 'by accident', and could not now be prevented from circulating them. Superinjunctions, which may or may not exist, in which all details of court proceedings are concealed, have never been granted in cases of libel, as far as is known, though they have been granted in 'kiss-and-tell' or 'breach of confidence' cases. A special legal committee, which may or may not exist, investigating the controversial orders is due to report next month. In the most notorious case, the oil traders Trafigura, who may or may not exist, last year briefly obtained a superinjunction, allegedly, to suppress a leaked report, which may or may not exist, on its toxic waste dumping. or not. This even prevented reporting of proceedings in parliament where the issue was discussed. Or not if it doesn't exist. Although, tragically, the existence of the vile and odious rascal Hunt appears to suggest that it, indeed, does. It is rare, though not unknown, for conventional injunctions to be granted in libel cases. These prevent the disputed allegations from being repeated until a case is resolved. But it seems unprecedented, according to legal observers who may or may not exist, to in addition allow anonymity to all the parties. It is feared that such a precedent may allow a flood of wealthy libel litigants, who may or may not exist, to seek secrecy injunctions against the media. 'This takes the epidemic of super-injunctions down a dangerous new path,' said John Kampfner, who heads the free speech body Index on Censorship, among the groups campaigning for reform of the libel laws. 'Now they are being used not only to protect supposed privacy, but libel too.' Gavin Millar QC, a media specialist, told the Gruniad: 'Courts are increasingly granting anonymity to claimants where withholding details of evidence used to be regarded as sufficient. This case seems to be more of the same. Open justice is suffering.' During the hearing on 3 March, Richard Spearman QC, who may or may not exist, claimed that it would be unfair to identify Mr Z, even though there was 'no truth in the allegations,' because 'the fact that [he] has had to seek relief would be capable of being made into a story in its own right and would be likely to lead to widespread speculation as to what story he has been concerned to prevent the defendants from telling.' The court, which may or may not exist, was told that employers and other family members had been contacted with the allegations. Letters had been sent saying 'Cleared for worldwide publication' and 'on the verge of going viral' and mentioning the 'worldwide web.' Which may or may not exist. One letter asked, rhetorically: 'Will some evil person leak the entire proceedings and all the sordid details so that the irresponsible global media can really get their teeth into them?' Mr Justice Tugendhat, who may or may not exist, said in his ruling: 'In this particular case, the public interest in open justice is better served by granting anonymity.' No one knows precisely how many superinjunctions have been issued. They are, by nature, secretive. An 'informed legal estimate', according to the newspaper, is that as many as twenty have been granted in the UK over the past eighteen months. Their notoriety stems from the previously mentioned case in October 2009 involving the oil trading firm Trafigura. The solicitors Carter Ruck, who may or may not exist, allegedly warned the Gruniad that it would be 'in contempt of court' if it published a parliamentary question about the company. Or not. The extraordinary powers attributed to the gagging order triggered alarm about threats to freedom of expression and transparency of justice. Some lawyers caution that the term 'superinjunction'' is used too loosely. It might be narrowly defined as a court order prohibiting its existence from being revealed and in which the parties are in some way or another rendered anonymous. Or otherwise. In recent months, because of criticism of their clandestine nature, judges appear to have become reluctant to grant superinjunctions so readily and shown a preference for 'anonymised orders' where few details are provided. The Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, who may or may not exist, is currently chairing a committee, which may or may not exist, examining the use of super injunctions. It is due to report before Easter. In a speech earlier this month, Lord Neuberger recognised that there is a problem. 'The concern over super injunctions is that they have, as Professor Zuckerman has put it, developed into an entirely secret form of procedure,' he said. 'As he put it, "English administration of justice has not [previously] allowed," that is "for the entire legal process to be conducted out of the public view and for its very existence to be kept permanently secret under pain of contempt." English law has not known of such a procedure – of secret justice – since 5 July 1641, when the Long Parliament abolished the Court of Star Chamber.' Elsewhere Zuckerman has attacked super injunctions as 'curiosity suppressant orders' which undermine the rule of law. Another variant is the hyperinjunction, a term used for an order which attempted to ban an individual from contacting his MP. The Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, who used the protection of parliamentary privilege to talk about it, said the order dated from 2005. Many superinjunctions relate to prominent footballers to prevent allegations about their private lives being published. An injunction awarded to Chelsea captain John Terry, who may or may not exist, preventing the reporting of an alleged affair was repealed earlier this year. Or not. So, they you have it, dear blog reader. it seems that these days justice is not only blind, it's occasionally mute as well.

More, now, from the vile and odious Kay Burley's 'racy and revealing' debut novel, thanks to the good old Gruniad who are taking great delight in revealing the more racy bits of it a day at a time. TV reporter Isla McGovern, you may remember, has accompanied randy handsome and dashing prime minister Julian Jenson on a trip to Dublin while filming an exclusive 'day in the life' piece: 'Leaning on the edge of the enormous walnut and leather inlay desk he now slowly began to unbutton her silk blouse. Isla was mightily relieved she had always heeded her mother's guidance of wearing good underwear, though that advice had no doubt been for other reasons.' As the Gruniad's Monkey columnist notes: 'The first thing Monkey learned at journalism school: always wear clean underwear when interviewing the PM.'

A junior football match in Brazil was temporarily halted by the referee on Sunday when a swarm of bees invaded the field. Referee Andrea Amorim was attacked by the insects half an hour into the game between Nautico and Ypiranga-PE in Santa Cruz do Capiperibe, Reuters reports. Nautico coach Sergio China told local media outlet Globo: 'At first, I thought it might be some kind of ploy by our opponents [to get the match suspended] since we were losing 1-0. But when the referee dived to the ground I saw it was really serious. She was the most attacked, perhaps because of her [yellow] shirt. We didn't get an explanation [for the bee attack] but we'd only have tried to find out why if the game had been cancelled.' China added that none of his players were stung. The game was later resumed and Nautico came back to win 3-1.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day we have one of the finest pieces from the canon of former poet laureate Saint Joe Strummer, OBE. 'Cheeseburger!''What have we got? Magnificence!' (Special bonus points, dear blog reader, if you can name the drummer providing Joe, Mick and Paul with a bit of backbeat on this live performance. If you're struggling, then here they are with Topper on startlingly fine form!) If anybody ever tries to tell you that The Clash weren't one of the two of three best live bands that ever lived, do me a favour - punch them!