Wednesday, April 20, 2011

As We Went Warp Factor Two The Changes I Had Been Through

The BBC has apologised after Dame Helen Mirren swore live on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday morning. The Oscar-winning actress was appearing on the programme to promote her new film Arthur, in which she appears alongside Russell Brand. Discussing the work she did with John Gielgud, who died in 2000, Mirren admitted that her fellow actor had sworn a lot. 'Well, in that sort of wonderful voice he had,' she told Bill Turnbull and Sian Williams, before impersonating Gielgud by saying: 'You little shit.' However, she quickly realised her mistake and exclaimed, 'I'm so sorry! I do apologise.' The presenting duo also apologised to viewers, saying: 'If you heard that, we're very sorry.' The sixty five-year-old actress previously told the BBC that she believes that 'the whole drama of swearing is so overblown,' adding: 'It's idiotic that it's made into such a big deal.' A BBC spokesperson added: 'Bill Turnbull apologised straight away and we're sorry if anyone was offended.' Why anybody would be offended by such a ridiculous thing as somebody using the word 'shit' is, as it happens, something that's far more interesting that the story which provoked such a query. Once again, dear blog reader, let us marvel at the utter nonsense some people chose to care about.

Do check out if you have a moment, dear blog reader, Russell Davies's clearly heartfelt tribute to the late Lis Sladen to the BBC.

Young people would rather give up watching TV than go without their mobile phones - for the first time since an annual media survey began. Because they're mostly stupid, basically. Some of us have long suspectesd this and now, it seems, we actually have proof! Ever since the media regulator Ofcom began conducting its research in 2005, TV has consistently come top of the popularity stakes of nice western consumer goods. But for the first time, sixteen to twenty four-year-olds have said they would miss both their mobile phone and the Internet more than TV. Children aged between twelve and fifteen are also more attached to their mobile - saying that they would struggle from not having a mobile more than TV and the Internet. For mature and sensible adults aged sixteen and over, TV remains the medium that would be missed the most, but the figure has decreased from fifty per cent in 2009 to forty four per cent in 2010. Those aged twelve to fifteen spend 17.2 hours each week watching TV - with time spent on the Internet nearly catching up at 15.6 hours. The time that adults spend on the Internet has also increased from 12.2 hours in 2009 to 14.2 hours in 2010. Ofcom's research found that the number of text messages sent by twelve to fifteen-year-olds has doubled to one hundred and thirteen each week compared to fifty four in 2007. The number that actually contained some important information remained at the same figure. Zero. Meanwhile, less than half of adults, down from in 2005, have concerns about TV such as offensive content, programme quality or repeats. Except the glakes that read the Daily Scum Mail so they can be angry about stuff and the people who get offended because Helen Mirren just said 'shit' on BBC Breakfast, of course. Ofcom research director James Thickett said: 'While TV remains the most used media among younger people, the Internet is quickly catching up, and TV is no longer the media that would be missed the most among this age group.'

A married man 'working in entertainment' has won an injunction preventing a newspaper revealing he admitted an affair with his well-known colleague. Or not. Judges at the Court of Appeal said that the man had a right to privacy because of how the story could affect his family. They said someone can be protected from prurient news stories if publication of such claims could damage the privacy of children. The judgement overturns a High Court ruling that would have allowed the News of the World to publish the story. One would've thought that the News of the Screws is in enough trouble at the moment without inviting more wrath upon its unworthy scalp. But, hey, when you're in a corner revert to type, that's what they always say. The father-of-two, referred to in the judgement as 'ETK', sought the injunction against the Sunday newspaper after journalists learned that he had begun an affair in November 2009 with his colleague, referred to as 'X'. The pair would be both known to 'a sector of the public,' said the judgement. ETK's wife had become suspicious and confronted him. He admitted the affair - and then promised to end it for the sake of their teenage children. However, Lord Justice Ward said that the couple's attempts at reconciliation led to problems at work for the former lovers. He said: 'The appellant told [the employers] that he would prefer in an ideal world not to have to see her at all and that one or other should leave but both accepted that their working commitments did not then make that possible,' said the judge. 'In December 2010 their employers informed X that her services would no longer be required, explaining publicly that it was a convenient moment to make this change. She was, understandably, upset and angry and may even have threatened to take proceedings against the employer.' At the initial High Court hearing, Mr Justice Collins backed the newspaper's right to publish the story because it had wanted to reveal the real cause for 'X' leaving her employment. But overturning that decision, Lord Justice Ward, supported by Lord Justices Laws and Moore-Blick, said the newspaper's right to publish did not outweigh the right of ETK's children to privacy. 'The purpose of the injunction is both to preserve the stability of the family while the appellant and his wife pursue a reconciliation and to save the children the ordeal of playground ridicule when that would inevitably follow publicity,' said Lord Justice Ward. 'They are bound to be harmed by immediate publicity, both because it would undermine the family as a whole and because the playground is a cruel place where the bullies feed on personal discomfort and embarrassment. The benefits to be achieved by publication in the interests of free speech are wholly outweighed by the harm that would be done through the interference with the rights to privacy of all those affected, especially where the rights of the children are in play. The reasons for her leaving may interest some members of the public but the matters are not of public interest. Publication may satisfy public prurience but that is not a sufficient justification for interfering with the private rights of those involved.' Sadly, one imagines that like the identity of the man known only as NEJ who, allegedly, may or may not have been involved with Helen Wood, this is likely only to lead to feverish Internet speculation as to the identity of the individual(s) concerned. So, just to confirm in case any confirmation were needed, From The North does not know the identity of Mr ETK. Or Ms X for that matter.

As previously rumoured, so it is now confirmed. Hugh Bonneville's comedy Twenty Twelve has been recommissioned for a second series. The Downton Abbey actor, who plays the head of the Olympics deliverance committee in the BBC4 comedy, tweeted about the news. He said: 'Twenty Twelve turbine gets second wind.' He then made a reference to the fact his character can never enter his own office because of enhanced security measures, writing: 'Change Pin code on door if anyone knows what it is.' Twenty Twelve also stars Jessica Hynes, Olivia Colman and Amelia Bullmore, and is written and directed by John Morton. Richard Klein, the controller at BBC4 said: 'Twenty Twelve is deliciously topical, wickedly funny and sometimes uncannily close to real life. It has quickly captured the imagination and shows that, above all, the British don't take themselves too seriously!'

Dazzling Derren Brown has revealed that he turned down an offer to compete on Strictly Come Dancing. The illusionist and master of prestidigitation confirmed to Heat magazine that he used to dance when he was younger and was later approached to appear on the BBC1 celebrity dance contest. Brown said: 'I politely declined. I'd be terrified of being shit.' Y'see, even Derren Brown says it! 'I never took it that seriously. I just thought it was fun. All I really knew was the routines I was doing. I didn't develop general dancing skills.' Of his reputation as a 'champion' ballroom dancer, he added: 'I'd hesitate to use the word "champion." At university level, maybe. Doing it pretty much killed any love I had for dancing. It's very contained and regulated - or at least that was my experience of it. Once I started doing ballroom dancing, I lost the ability to just relax and dance.'

News Corp is rumoured to be in talks with Carlos Slim, said to be the world's richest man, about making a joint bid for the control of Formula One motor racing – one of the few major commercial sports in which it has yet to gain a foothold. The bid was, according to Sky News, in the early stages, with News Corp in talks about forming a consortium that would include the Mexican billionaire. It would also be the first time that the global media group, which currently owns the rights to most live Premier League football and just about all UK's domestic cricket, had taken over an entire sport and could be a major blow for the BBC. The BBC counts F1 as the last major sport – unprotected by legislation governing its broadcast – over which it has sole broadcasting rights in the UK. It secured the television rights to show Formula One in the UK from the 2009 season as part of a five-year deal covering all platforms and can broadcast F1 on the BBC Sport website as well as on TV and radio. However, senior managers have questioned whether the forty million pounds a year cost of the contract is worth it at a time the BBC needs to make savings. A spokesperson for News Corp declined to comment on what she described as 'rumour and speculation.' Which, coming from the company that owns the Sun and the News of the World, which seldom print anything else, is, frankly, effing hilarious. However, a 'source with knowledge of the discussions', according to the Gruniad Morning Star. has confirmed that News Corp was 'considering options' regarding F1. 'News Corp going into this transaction now is premature. They are thinking about F1 and options they could take but that is all it is at this stage,' the 'source' allegedly said. The Concorde Agreement between F1's governing body and the teams, which governs the distribution of commercial revenues from the sport expires at the end of next year. 'They [News Corp] will do nothing until after the next Concorde meeting – there is no way to possibly value or plan until after that,' the source added. News Corp already has its hands full with a very real attempt to take over the broadcaster BSkyB. The path for its proposed eight billion pounds purchase of the sixty one per cent of BSkyB it does not already own was cleared in March when the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt, approved News Corp's plan to separate Sky News from the main company. F1's current majority stakeholder, the private equity group CVC Capital Partners, was reported to be unaware of News Corp's interest, according to Sky News, which said there was no contact between them. Aside from CVC's holdings, the ownership of F1 is held by a mosaic of different, smaller companies. JP Morgan, the Wall Street bank which was a former F1 shareholder, was reported to be advising News Corp about the bid and said that taking part in a consortium was one of several options that News Corp is examining in relation to motor racing. Mark Kleinman, Sky's business editor, said he had been told that the bid was 'at an embryonic stage.' He added that James Murdoch, News Corp's deputy chief operating officer, was involved in the company's discussions with prospective partners. 'The company is kicking the tyres, as you would expect, given that there may be a serious business opportunity to examine in relation to F1,' Kleinman quoted 'a person close to the sport' as saying. 'It has been approached by a number of potential co-investors and is thinking about its options but there is a very real chance that it will come to nothing.' CVC Capital Partners, which paid more than two and a half billion to gain control of F1 in 2005, declined to comment. Any bid involving News Corp would face calls for regulatory scrutiny, because of rights issues involved and the political heat that surrounds the media firm. A 'source' - preumably a different one - told the Gruniad that when CVC gained control of F1, European regulators 'looked extremely hard' at the deal and the source believes that given News Corporation's control of rights and sports there could be 'regulatory hurdles.' Also, both the FIA, F1's governing body, and its chief executive, Bernie Ecclestone, are considered, pretty much, to have veto rights on new owners. 'Unless any bidder – be it News Corp, its partners or a rival – is welcomed by Bernie nothing is happening,' said the 'source.' Allegedly. News Corp is already facing investigations over its takeover of the remaining shares in BSkyB as well as the ongoing probe into one of its newspapers involvement in the illegal phone hacking scandal. As well as regulatory scrutiny, a takeover might also face stiff opposition from some in the motor industry who have been in favour of it remaining a free-to-air television event because of the large audiences it delivers for each race. In the meantime, CVC faces issues of its own. Ecclestone has been questioned by German authorities about an alleged multi-million pound bribery scandal involving the sale to CVC. Ecclestone is said to be 'not the subject of the investigation' himself and is co-operating with the authorities. Officials are trying to establish who paid about fifty million dollars to Gerhard Gribkowsky, a former banker with state-owned BayernLB who oversaw F1's sale to CVC in 2006; they are believed to be planning to question CVC executives. Gribkowsky was arrested in January. F1 would be a small investment for Slim. Last month, the seventy one-year-old was named the world's richest man by Forbes magazine – worth an estimated seventy nine billion dollars, most of which is wrapped up in América Móvil, Latin America's largest mobile phone company.

Not since the days of Big Break or Pets Win Prizes has the BBC created a game show quite as risky (and potentially absurd) as Don't Scare The Hare. The Gadget Show's Jason Bradbury acts as host, but he is constantly overshadowed by his co-star and the central attraction of the programme - a giant aminmatronic hare. The concept revolves around contestants completing challenges with the added risk factor that they mustn't 'scare the hare.' Hence the title. And Sue Perkins is doing voiceover on it? Somebody I actually had a bit of respect for. Until now. Intrigued? Horrified? Ready to say the word 'shit' on BBC1? Why not watch the preview clip and see if your worst fears are made Leporidae flesh. From Saturday, dear blog reader, Doctor Who is going to find itself being sandwiched between this and the rapidly tanking So You Think You Can Dance? There is something rotten in the state of BBC Light Entertainment. Bruce Forsyth must be turning in his grave.

Christopher Eccleston has described Hugo Blick's upcoming conspiracy thriller The Shadow Line as 'a meditation on morality.' Eccleston plays plays Joseph Bede in the seven-part series, which begins on BBC2 next month. Speaking to BBC Press Office, the actor described the series: 'I think the most important thing about it is that it credits its intended audience with great intelligence, it does not offer simplistic plot twists, and it doesn't offer simplistic takes on human psychology. It has taken a world entirely of its own. It is going to be very stylish and intelligent, and I think that’s quite rare.' Summarising up the series, he added: 'I would say that it is a genre piece, a thriller - a psychological thriller, a meditation on good and bad, a meditation on morality.'

The BBC Trust has ruled that a Panorama documentary about the Israeli boarding of a boat in the Gaza flotilla was 'accurate and impartial,' but did breach editorial guidelines in three specific instances. Broadcast on 16 August last year, Death In The Med focused on the controversial boarding of the Mavi Marmara, which was part of a flotilla of ships attempting to breach the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The situation led to the death of nine people and injuries to a number of Israelis. The programme prompted nineteen complaints to the Trust, resulting in fifty one substantive points being put to the Trust's editorial standards committee. In a ruling this week, the ESC upheld three of the points, two related to specific questions of accuracy and the other to impartiality. The accuracy points pertained to the inclusion of preliminary autopsy reports into how the activists died, along with information about the total aid carried by the flotilla. The ESC also ruled that Panorama transgressed impartiality guidelines by failing to properly verify claims of Israeli mistreatment from some of the wounded. Sir Michael Lyons, the outgoing chairman of the BBC Trust, said: 'The BBC's courageous journalism is perhaps the clearest articulation of its public service mission, and it is essential that the BBC is able to report on the most controversial issues of the day. But it is equally essential that it meets the very highest standards of accuracy and impartiality. By having a robust system in place to reassure licence fee payers that issues are picked up and lessons are learned, the BBC can have the space and credibility to make these types of programmes.' Alison Hastings, chair of the ESC, added: 'Despite the three breaches, for which the Trust apologises on behalf of the BBC, this Panorama was an original, insightful and well-researched piece of journalism and we commend the BBC for having tackled this issue. It revealed important new evidence in a much-publicised story and, overall, the programme was both accurate and impartial. However, these breaches are a firm reminder that the BBC must take great care over accuracy and impartiality, particularly when the subject matter is as controversial as this.'

The UK's biggest commercial broadcasters have joined forces to warn Eton Rifle David Cameron against a wholesale relaxation of intellectual property laws, saying it could cripple the country's four billion pound audiovisual sector. The chief executives of ITV, BSkyB, Channel Four and PACT, the independent producers' trade body, said the current IP regime had played a 'key role' in the development of the creative industries in the UK. A jointly commissioned report claimed the audiovisual sector invests four billion pounds in UK content every year, supporting more than seven thousand firms and one hundred and thirty two thousand jobs. The report concluded that a weakening of the IP regime in the UK cold lead to 'a vicious spiral of declining revenues, investments and audiences.' The prime minister announced a review of IP laws last year to be chaired by Ian Hargreaves, professor of digital economy at Cardiff University and a former editor of the Independent. It is due to report in April. Cameron said he wanted to make them 'fit for the Internet age' and 'encourage the sort of creative innovation that exists in America,' where copyright law is, broadly, more relaxed. But in a letter to the prime minister, the three commercial broadcasters and PACT said the protection of copyright was a 'vital foundation' of the industry and warned that 'any dilution of the IP regime could seriously undermine our ability to continue to invest in creative growth in the UK and sustain and grow the many jobs that depend on that investment.' They added: 'In order to realise its full potential the sector must continue to successfully commercialise content across many different new platforms and devices and in different formats and applications. Ownership of IP provides the incentive for broadcasters and producers to create new content, fund innovative ideas, build new distribution platforms and reinvest profits for future growth.' The letter was signed by BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch, ITV chief executive Adam Crozier, David Abraham, the chief executive of Channel Four, and John McVay, chief executive of PACT. The jointly commissioned report, by Robin Foster and Tom Broughton of Communications Chambers, said the UK was 'now arguably the world's leading creative laboratory for television with over five hundred channels competing for customer attention.' It added that the independent production sector in the UK was worth more than £2.2bn – up almost one hundred and seventy per cent on a decade previously – and said UK television had a 'global competitive advantage' with international sales of £1.337bn in 2009. Cameron, announcing the six-month review last November, said the founders of Google had told the government their company could not have been started in the UK. 'The service they provide depends on taking a snapshot of all the content on the Internet at any one time and they feel our copyright system is not as friendly to this sort of innovation as it is in the United States,' he added. 'Over there, they have what are called "fair-use" provisions, which some people believe gives companies more breathing space to create new products and services. So I can announce today that we are reviewing our IP laws, to see if we can make them fit for the Internet age. I want to encourage the sort of creative innovation that exists in America.' The review was welcomed by Internet freedom campaigners and, of course, by Google. But the music industry warned against it, with one senior industry figure saying it could take 'fifty thousand jobs from the music industry to create twenty thousand in technology,' with another describing it as 'complete bollocks.' It's probably a good job he didn't say that on the BBC, though, otherwise somebody might have whinged.

A somewhat off-colour Scumchester United missed the chance to open up a nine-point gap at the top of the Premier League as they were held to a draw by yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still seemingly unsellable) Newcastle United. The visitors were guilty of poor passing throughout, though Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs both missed good chances. And striker Javier Hernandez felt he was fouled in the box by Danny Simpson late on, only to be booked for a dive. The Magpies thoroughly deserved a point, though, and might have had a penalty of their own when Anderson appeared to fell Peter Lovenkrands. Both decisions could have gone either way, with contact seeming to be made on each occasion, but the referee Lee Probert - who otherwise had a very good game - waved the appeals away to ensure an absorbing clash ended goalless at St James' Park. It is a result which could prove valuable for Newcastle, taking them as it does to the forty-point mark teams often cite as necessary to guarantee safety from relegation. While much of the media may put the result down to the leaders suffering an off night, that fails to reflect the effort and application that Alan Pardew's side demonstrated. Once again the Magpies star man was Cheik Tioté the Ivorian central midfielders whose three million pound transfer from FC Twente is starting to look like the bargain of the season. And, how nice it was to hear the home fans show their genuine appreciation of the four years of constant shirking and malingering that their club received from Michael Owen when he came on as substitute for The Scum to several rousing choruses of 'There's Only One Greedy Bastard'!

An American postman was suspended last Wednesday for defecating in public. NBC News reported that the postal worker was caught on camera by Don Derfler, who was watching from his residential home. So, just to confirm, not only can't you say shit on the BBC you also can't do it in the streets. Seems fair enough. Derfler said: 'He started pulling his pants down and started defecating. At that point, I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures.' as you do. 'This is how they respect our property? It's just not right, and it's also a biohazard.' Ron Anderson of the US Postal Service made clear his disappointment, stating: 'We're taking this very seriously, and I really want to apologise to our customers and the public at large. For the years that I've worked for the Postal Service, I've never heard of an incident like this and I hope I never do again.' Derfler's neighbour, only known by his first name Dennis, added: 'Nature calls at inopportune times, but jeez, go back to your rig and find a gas station for crying out loud.'

Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day today are a tribute to the long-running cult American SF franchise Star Trek. Let us hear from The Vulcans and their tribute to Doctor Spock. In a rub-a-dub-style(e). And, finally, the most important question of all, from Spizz Energi. Where's Captain Kirk?Say what?