Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Some People Search This World For Fame

What's that you say, dear blog reader? You want to see a publicity shot from the next series of the greatest TV show in the world that doesn't have the words 'West' and 'Wing' in the title, Doctor Who? How could yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self refuse such a desperate - and slightly sycophantic - request?Now, David Tennant was never shy about his Labour allegiance but his successor in the TARDIS is rather more coy about his political affiliations. Matt Smith has negotiated a potentially tricky interview about his socio-political views by delivering a passionate defence of the role of the Arts in the face of severe funding cuts. Speaking to John Pienaar for the broadcaster's 5Live programme Pienaar's Politics, Smith admits he has been fascinated by politics since playing a Labour researcher in the BBC drama Party Animals. He said that he is 'interested' in David Cameron as a fellow 'performer' but used the opportunity to defend an award-winning theatre company, Shared Experience, which has just had its three hundred and sixty thousand pound Arts Council grant completely axed. 'Companies I've watched like Shared Experience have had the whole of their budget completely slashed,' said Smith. 'If you build in small piles then bigger piles will grow. Companies like Shared Experience were a way in for a lot of actors and directors and I think it's a shame. I'm only talking personally about the things that I enjoy because I like the arts so its something that I want to see supported. And I think it's something that develops communities and lives and ideas and perspective and all the things in life that can broaden you. I think art is about risk.' The Doctor observed the prime minister and former Eton Rifle at a recent event. 'I'm interested in David Cameron. I was at the GQ Awards and he got one. It's always fascinating to see someone come in and hold a room. I was struck by the polish, which I'm sure he's been well trained on.' Yeah, that'll be using his fag as a toast-rack in a very Blackadder-style(e), no doubt. 'It's quite a skill.' Well, indeed. 'He was very charismatic, which I suppose is what you’d want. What can you say? He got a laugh.' Asked to reveal his own voting intentions, he says that's 'irrelevant.' The NHS, along with the arts, should be preserved from the Conservative-led Government's cuts, he added. 'I believe the NHS needs to be protected. It's one of the few organisations in the world like it. It's always been very good to me – because I'm clumsy, frankly.' Should theatre training be subsidised in school, he was asked? 'If I was at school I'd want it to be as practical as possible. Things like the National Youth Theatre are such a benefit to education because they are about supporting the arts. It's no secret that there's been a lot of cuts to artistic budgets, which I think is a shame.' Later he noted: 'I'm drawn to the drama of Question Time in Parliament. I think there's a theatre about it which is brilliantly engaging. It's still gladiatorial. It all came about from being in Party Animals. We spent a lot of time with Labour and Tory researchers in Portcullis House. What I found amazing was it was like a lions' den. The journalists, the researchers, the MPs are all feeding and trading off everyone else. I just think there's something Roman about it. It's Shakespearean.' Doctor Who, of course, has done plenty of political allegories in the past and, indeed, the Easter Saturday series six opener is set in Richard Nixon's White House and centres on a clever allusion to the Watergate tapes. 'Steven Moffat has always had a real interest in politics,' Matt noted. 'I don't think Doctor Who is just about political investigations dramatically, it's about investigating the big ideas and big themes which can be recognised in politics. It's about oppression, love, loss, faith and all these great things which are, of course, political.' Parliamentary wonks will enjoy one location in new series. 'We filmed at the Welsh Assembly for episode six. We were there for the whole morning – and it was completely dead,' Matt added. 'Clearly there have been livelier days in Welsh politics.' Smith, who says he wants to adopt a formal role with the National Youth Theatre, has ambitions beyond simply playing the Doctor. He wants to write and direct too. But a career-swerve into politics doesn't seem out of the question for the actor, who says that although he plays the ultimate fantasy role, it's important to engage with what's going on in the real outside world.

Doctor Who showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) has praised the new series' opening episodes. Although, to be honest, that's not really news. Now, if he'd called it 'a load of old toot and malarkey,' that would've been news. In an interview with the Radio Times, the writer claimed that two-part adventure The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon feels like a series finale. 'I said to our genius director Toby Haynes, "Start like it's the finale," and my God, that's just what he's done,' he said. 'I'm not sure Doctor Who has ever felt bigger, bolder or madder.' He added: '[There's] the Doctor, Amy, Rory and River in the Valley of the Gods, Nixon's White House, Area Fifty One and a strangely familiar spaceship. And there's Alex Kingston diving backwards off a skyscraper.' Tasty. The Moffmeister also confirmed that the show's initial seven-episode run will conclude with 'a cliff-hanger that changes everything. By Lake Silencio, on the Plain of Sighs, a story will begin and end,' he teased. 'A good man is going to die [and] an impossible life will begin. Our heroes will set out on the long road to the deadliest secret in the universe, and when it stares you in the face, you might just discover you've known about it all along.'

Meanwhile Moffat's Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss has revealed new details about his own upcoming episode of Doctor Who. Speaking at the recent Kapow convention, the writer confirmed that the episode is still provisionally entitled What Are Little Boys Made Of? 'It's my first modern-day [episode],' he said. 'It's set in a tower block and it was filmed in Bristol. It's essentially about a little boy with OCD. His parents are despairing about him, because he's frightened of everything, and The Doctor turns up and tells him he's right!' The League of Gentlemen star also confirmed that he was forced to rewrite certain portions of the script when the episode was shifted from its original transmission slot. He explained: 'It was shot first, and it's now in the second half of the season, so it'll be well over a year between shooting and it being on. We had to drop the last scene, because it no longer fits. I had to write a new scene to go on the end, to make the second half make sense.' It was previously announced that Outcasts and Ashes to Ashes star Danny Mays will appear alongside Emma Cunniffe and Jamie Oram in the episode. Gatiss also revealed new details about the second series of Sherlock. He confirmed that the new three-part series will be comprised of adaptations of A Scandal in Bohemia, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Final Problem. 'Having had a successful first run, we knew that the natural order would be to do the three most famous things, so we're doing a version of [those three],' he explained. 'They just fall like that, and then it's a question of how to get out of that cliff-hanger!' Gatiss explained that he will adapt The Hound of the Baskervilles himself, while co-creator Steven Moffat will write the series premiere. 'Steven wanted to do the twisted love story because he likes that,' Mark said. 'I'm doing the gothic horror, and Steve Thompson is doing The Final Problem. Now that the scripts are well underway, [it's] about trying to find certain things between the three of them, where we can find a little bit of an arc.' He added that the next three episodes will examine 'what Sherlock and John's relationship is, a little further on. You don't want to just go back to the beginning,' he claimed. 'You've got to move on somewhere.'

John Torode, the host of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved MasterChef, has secured a new three million pound banking facility to continue the growth and development of his London eateries - Smiths of Smithfield and The Luxe. John opened The Luxe in London's Spitalfields in October 2009. It was his second venture after Smiths of Smithfield, which has been trading for over a decade from its location opposite the famous meat market. The new facility will, according to the Torygraph, be used as working capital but also support the development a possible roll out of The Luxe to as-yet unspecified locations. According to accounts recently filed at Companies House, turnover at Smiths and The Luxe over the year to 31 May 2010 rose by twenty five per cent to £9.2m, largely due to the 2009 opening of The Luxe. Over the same period the company made a post-tax loss of three hundred and eighty thousand smackers, again due in the main to the new restaurant's opening. New restaurants typically incur trading losses in their first few months of trade. Over the year, the company embarked on 'major cost reduction exercises.' It also warned of a 'testing year ahead' but hoped to break back into profitability. John Torode, said: 'We are pleased to have found a new financial partner in Barclays especially in these difficult times, so much in my business relies on relationships and people and in Barclays we appear to have comfort on both fronts, we are looking forward to a profitable working relationship and to the better times which surely are ahead of us and the people who come to enjoy our venues.'

In this week's episode of House - The Dig - a year after Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) was last seen, mysteriously disappearing from Princeton Plainsboro for a supposed 'trip to Italy' (or, was it Tibet?), we finally find out what actually became of the Huntington disease-stricken doctor and babe. The episode opens with a brilliantly underplayed scene in which House (Hugh Laurie) stands outside the gates of a prison; from the off it's a fair bet that Thirteen's absence wasn't quite so self-imposed as we'd initially thought. With a mystery this potentially life-changing, House's ability to take the infamous diagnostician outside his familiar surroundings and into the wider world provides the perfect setting for the episode to unfold, slowly and cleverly, and to ultimately reveal Thirteen's biggest, darkest secret. Meanwhile, Chase, Taub, Foreman and Masters are all stuck back at Princeton Plainsboro and the episode is lacking any appearances of fan-favourites Cuddy and Wilson at all. It's to be hoped that they a nice week off. Fortunately, the episode balances it focus between the hospital storyline, a couple of cunning characterisation subplots and the mystery surrounding Thirteen's incarceration. There is, for instance, a great little thread about Taub's regular ability to chat up women which leaves his new flatmate, Foreman, frankly befuzzled: 'I don't know how you do it. Is it the cute, harmless vibe? The self-deprecating humour? Or just straight-up roofies?' he asks. Taub simply replies: 'If you're interested, I do seminars!' It subsequently transpires that he has a new hottie (the cute redhead on reception) but, get this, Taub is having another affair, this one with Rachel, his ex-wife from whom he so recently broke up. The man is, quite simply, a love machine. This leads to a very amusing scene of Foreman catching them, ahem, at it on his couch. 'I was doing you a solid with the sofa,' Taub vainly protests afterwards. 'Rachel wanted to do it in your bed.' Foreman lays down the law: 'Let's make this really simple. If I own it, I don't want you doing it on it.' There's a sheepishly embarrassed pause, before Taub confesses: 'You might want to get rid of your kitchen table.' While the patient-of-the-week storyline at Princeton Plainsboro is far from the most intriguing the series' has come up with - a guy admitted coughing up blood appears to be a hoarder of a house full of junk. That is, until during a search of his home, Masters and Chase find his wife hiding among the piles of bric-a-brac. The implied hoarder with a guilty secret fits in nicely with the title of the episode and allows for the indented duality of the plot to extend to the House-Thirteen sequences. For much of the episode, the mystery surrounding why she was doing porridge is - as you'd expect - the focus for the audience's attention. But, the viewer soon begins to realise that, in fact, it's not so much the (unexpected) revelation that Thirteen euthanised her brother who had been overcome with the symptoms of Huntington disease that makes this episode work so well. Although Chase and Masters have some quasi-romantic scenes and Foreman's terrifically funny catching Taub sleeping with his ex-wife is a smart way to bring some humour to the table it was – by far – the scenes between House and Thirteen that made the episode work. With astonishingly revealing dialogue peppered throughout, the viewers remains connected directly to the story. The inclusion of a potato gun contest, and some witty playing with Sergio Leone-style Western conceits, is another feather in the episode's cap - something which, in lesser hands could have gone badly wrong. The best exchange of the episode occurs in a hotel room when House catches a glimpse of Thirteen changing her clothes in the bathroom: 'You know that I'm a doctor. Any interest I have in the human body is purely clinical,' he says through a crack in the door. 'Yeah. That line never works for me either,' replies Thirteen. 'That line always works for you,' he notes. A beautifully frank and pointed conversation about House's recently-ended relationship with Cuddy at a fast-food restaurant that, quite literally, has Thirteen's jaw hitting the floor, is another great moment. As is Thirteen crying by herself in the middle of the night, House waking up and then lying still in his bed, seemingly terrified of showing any unnecessary emotion. The harsh confrontation between the two occurs later when Thirteen tells House that she knows why Cuddy broke up with him and then, when she finally confesses her reasons for being in prison and House's reaction is nothing but mute acceptance, she is incandescent with rage. She didn't expect compassion from him, she notes, but she was kind of hoping for disapproval, or revulsion, or ... something. Some spark to convince here that he does, actually, have a heart beating in his chest. As the episode climaxes and House sits next to Thirteen in his car outside her homer, he assures her that when the time comes, he will stand by her as she stood by her brother. 'I will kill you. When the time comes. If you want me to. I'll do it now if you like. I think I've got a baseball bat in the back.' But before that, there's a really sweet - and possibly crucial - scene, a cunning reverse of the opening sequence, as House, has himself been arrested for shooting (with a spud gun) his really annoying technobrat nemesis. This time it's Thirteen waiting for him as he gets out of jail, replacing the Martini he had waiting for her in the opening scene with a warm can of coke. House explains that he only got a warning for shooting Harold, but admits that he is still feeling depressed, since today would have been his one-year anniversary with Cuddy. Deep and touching emotional resonance, in an episode of House? Has the world gone quite mad?

Meanwhile in latest episode of Hawaii Five-0 - Ma Ke Kahakai - after Danno and McGarrett discover a body while hiking (and good old Mr perfect Steve slips and breaks his arm), the Five-O team finds out that this body is linked to another much bigger case which remains unsolved. Chin and Kono's aunt suffers a failed kidney and, during her last hours, Kono finds out a tragic family secret about her cousin's real reasons for losing his badge. Not as good as House, admittedly, but still pretty watchable.

The final episode of the BBC's popular crime series Waking The Dead was watched by an initial overnight audience of 5.8 million viewers on Monday evening. The conclusion of the Trevor Eve-led drama, which has aired for nine series over eleven years, was watched by 5.8m on BBC1 in the 9pm hour, once again easily outperforming its ITV opposition Law & Order: UK's 4.05m and two hundred and fifty four thousand on ITV+1. Earlier, Bang Goes The Theory has an audience of 2.79m on BBC1 from 7.30pm, while The Dales was watched by 3.84m (15.8%) on ITV from 8pm. Panorama: Living With The Ayatollah garnered 3.64m on BBC1 from 8.30pm.

A new series of SF sitcom Red Dwarf has been confirmed by its co-creator and chief writer Doug Naylor. It had previously been hinted by producer Andrew Ellard that deals were being made to produce a new six-part series, but that nothing was absolutely confirmed. His comments came after Craig Charles, who plays Dave Lister in the show, had revealed that two new series would be produced from January 2011. Wired reports that the series will now be filmed from November this year, and will be a follow-up from 2009's Back to Earth mini-series. Officially it will be known as series ten, though technically series nine never existed. Charles, Chris Barrie, Robert Llewellyn and Danny John-Jules are all expected to return as the crew members of the wackiest mining ship in the universe, while Naylor will most likely write the scripts. No plot details or potential broadcast dates have, at this time, been confirmed, although the show will return to the freeview channel Dave. Naylor had previously revealed via a director's commentary that the next series of Red Dwarf could take place before or after the events of Back to Earth, in order to explain what happened after the cliff-hanger of 1999's series eight.

Ant and Dec have claimed that there are far less dance troupes on this year's Britain's Got Talent. Presumably, unless they have actually turned into a single gestalt entity they did so separately and not with one voice. Since there are, after all, two of them. Sorry about that, dear blog reader, it just pisses me off. 'Ant and Dec said ...' No they didn't. Ant or Dec said, not and. So-called 'streetdance' acts - that's acts who dance and should be thrown into the street afterwards - have dominated the competition in recent years, with George Sampson and Diversity winning the talent show and others such as Twist & Pulse and Flawless reaching the final. However, speaking about the upcoming new series, the cheeky chappie Geordie duo revealed that Glee-inspired acts were the new craze on the ITV show. Oh great, that's really going to make loads of people over the age of twelve want to start watching it, then. 'There hasn't been so many dance troupes this year, as we think Diversity set the bar so high before,' said Ant McPartlin. 'There were a lot of Glee-inspired acts though, groups singing and dancing, but not all of them were that great.' Well, given that the cast of Glee themselves aren't all that great, that's hardly surprising news. Speaking about who they would like to win, Ant's insubstantial marra Dec Donnelly said: 'There's been lots of very talented singing children this year, so that will be quite a competitive area.' Best have some buckets ready for when they burst into tears, on queue in that case. 'The illusionists have been great too, some of which we really hope make the semi-finals. We'd like to see a really fun variety act win that can go to Vegas and perform a sell-out residency there.'

David Tennant will feature on a new set of stamps which celebrate fifty years of the Royal ­Shakespeare Company. The new range is issued this week and shows some of the RSC's greatest stars in their iconic roles along with a quote from the play that they were in. Tennant, thirty nine, is pictured on the first class stamp during his time playing Hamlet in 2008. Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellen is on the £1.10 airmail stamp with Francesca Annis when they played Romeo and Juliet in 1976. An RSC spokesman said: 'It has been an almost ­impossible job to sift through fifty years of ­performances to choose images which represent the extraordinary range of work we have produced. I hope people will enjoy what they see and join us in the future.' The stamp issue marks fifty years since Sir Peter Hall founded the RSC, which is also marking the milestone with a year of new shows.

Detectives investigating illegal news-gathering at the News of the World are planning to question Crystal Tipps look-alike Rebekah Brooks, the alleged newspaper’s former editor who is now Rupert Murdoch's chief executive in the UK, according to police sources quoted in the Gruniad Morning Star. The revelation came on the day that Brooks - seen left with what some dear blog readers might consider to be a very smug grin on her face which, one suspects, would potentially rapidly disappear should she, for any reason, find herself banged-up in Holloway - denied to MPs that she had any 'knowledge of any specific cases' of police officers being paid for information by any newspaper. This, despite her having previously told MPs eight years ago that her newspapers journalists had paid officers for information in the past. The legality of which, if true, is at best murky and the morality of which is, at worst, rotten to the core. The Gruniad says that it is 'understood' Brooks will face questioning from Operation Weeting, Scotland Yard's third attempt to investigate the interception of voicemail messages by News of the World journalists. And the first one where it actually seems interested in finding some evidence. At the same time, the Gruniad claims to have established that during an earlier inquiry Scotland Yard was so concerned by allegations that the News International newspapers were paying bribes to corrupt serving officers and other key workers that it tapped Brooks's telephone. They then - hastily - state 'police found no evidence that she had committed any offence.' The tapping of Brooks' phone was carried out with a Home Office warrant early in 2004 as part of an inquiry by Scotland Yard's anti-corruption command into allegations that the News of the World was bribing serving officers, buying confidential data from the police national computer and making regular cash payments of up to one thousand pounds a week to employees of phone companies who were selling information from the accounts of public figures. And, not illegally like what Glenn Mulcaire and, perhaps, others at the News of the World were doing to Sienna Miller, et al at around the same time. The paper's then assistant editor, Greg Miskiw, is believed to have been arrested and questioned. Four men were subsequently convicted of selling information from the police computer to the News of the World and other newspapers. But neither Brooks, Miskiw nor anyone else from Fleet Street was ever charged. The latest disclosures came as the News of the World's publisher, News International, said that it was prepared to compensate a further nine people if they obtained evidence from the Metropolitan police that their phones had been hacked into. Last Friday, News International admitted it was liable in eight cases. The - second - nine who could also be eligible for payouts are, the Gruniad claims, the former MP (and nutter) George Galloway, the former director of the Football Association David Davies, the former comedian Steve Coogan, the former football executive Mick McGuire, the jockey Kieren Fallon, consultant Mary-Ellen Field, the actor Jude Law's personal assistant Ben Jackson, and the actress Leslie Ash and her family. Operation Weeting is focused on the activities of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator jailed for hacking voicemail in January 2007. Brooks left the News of the World in 2003, shortly before the period during which Mulcaire is known to have been hacking phones for the newspaper. She attracted police attention in March 2003, shortly after becoming editor of another News International paper, the Sun. Giving evidence to the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee, she responded to a question from Chris Bryant MP, who asked 'whether you ever pay the police for information?' Brooks declared: 'We have paid the police for information in the past.' On Monday a short letter from Brooks to Keith Vaz, the chairman of the home affairs select committee, attempted to clarify her position. She wrote: 'As can be seen from the transcript, I was responding to a specific line of questioning on how newspapers get information.' She added: 'My intention was simply to comment generally on the widely held belief that payments had been made in the past to police officers.' Nevertheless, the Gruniad suggests, as a direct result of her evidence to the select committee, Brooks also became a target for the police herself. The Home Office warrant to intercept her phone calls is, according to the Gruniad, 'likely to have been signed by the then-home secretary David Blunkett,' whose own voicemail messages were subsequently alleged to have been intercepted by the News of the World, according to journalists who worked there. Round, like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within in wheel ... 'It is understood that Brooks was warned that her phone was being tapped but, she believed, it was related to the leaking of the Hutton report to the Sun,' the Gruinad alleges. In the same month that Brooks's phone was being tapped, the Information Commissioner's Office raided the home of a Hampshire private investigator, Steve Whittamore, and seized paperwork recording thirteen thousand occasions on which he had been paid by newspapers and magazines to obtain confidential data from organisations including British Telecom, the DVLA and mobile phone companies. When the ICO found that Whittamore had also been obtaining information from the police national computer, they contacted the Metropolitan police, who set up Operation Glade. Glade discovered that Whittamore's ultimate source was a civilian worker at Wandsworth police station, Paul Marshall, who was logging false 999 calls in order to justify accessing the computer records of public figures who were of interest to newspapers. Marshall was passing the information to a former police officer, Alan King, who then passed it to a private investigator, John Boyall, who supplied it to Whittamore. It was Boyall's role in this chain of deceit and chicanery which opened the door to Operation Glade's interest in the News of the World. By late 2003, detectives had discovered that Boyall had previously worked regularly for the News of the World's then assistant editor, Miskiw. 'They ran a major inquiry into Miskiw and suspected that Marshall was not the only recipient of the newspaper's bribes,' noted the Gruniad. They go on to claim that journalists who worked for the paper say 'junior reporters and couriers were used to carry cash to serving police officers and other key workers. They claim that an employee of the Passport Office was being sent regular payments in exchange for providing personal information from internal files.' Miskiw declined to comment on detailed allegations put to him by the Gruniad. When Whittamore, Boyall, King and Marshall appeared at Blackfriars crown court in April 2005, and all pleaded guilty to trading information from the police computer. The judge, John Samuels QC, queried the fact that no one from any newspaper had been charged even though Fleet Street titles had clearly commissioned the activity. The fact that Scotland Yard already held unconfirmed intelligence of criminal activity at the News of the World raises more questions about their failure to dig more deeply when they first investigated phone-hacking at the paper in 2006 and questioned only one journalist, the former royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, who then had his ass slung in jailed along with the newspaper's private investigator. Mulcaire's name also is likely to have surfaced during Operation Glade, the Gruniad claims, noting that Mulcaire's first part-time work for the News of the World in the late 1990s was as an employee of John Boyall. Asked if Miskiw and Mulcaire had come to police attention before the hacking inquiry, Scotland Yard replied that four men had been convicted in April 2005. 'A number of people were interviewed as part of this investigation, some of them under caution.' But, they refused to elaborate or to identify those who may, or may not, have been interviewed. In a further development Keir Starmer QC, the director of public prosecutions, and John Yates, the acting deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan police, released a joint statement in an attempt to end a long-running row over which of them was telling the truth about phone hacking and why the original 2006 investigation had such a limited focus. Yates has told parliamentary inquiries that prosecutors advised that police should adopt a narrow interpretation of the law on hacking, but Starmer insists prosecutors 'did not limit the scope and extent of the criminal investigation.' In a joint statement on Monday Yates and Starmer said: 'Neither of us had responsibility for this case at the time it was originally prosecuted. We have, therefore, both sought to interpret, as best we can, the original documentation and the recollections of those involved. The relevant information is now in the public domain. We, and others in our organisations, would now like to focus together on the current investigation, in the same way that we work closely and constructively on a daily basis on numerous other cases and complex issues.'

The Metro's gossip columnist Neil Sean had this delightfully pithy piece in his Green Room column on Tuesday: 'Call Girl Bille Piper claims she is struggling to get other work, this after stripping off regularly. But herein lies the problem. "I want parts that show off my range of talents..."' Yes, very droll there Neil. And, in fact, a short and sweet version of a story this blog ran three days ago, itself drawn - like your story - from an original interview with the Sun. There's only one slight problem, Neil. Billie Piper isn't, actually, a Call Girl, she's merely an actress who plays one. Just as, before that, she wasn't really a time traveller. Not that yer actual Keith Telly Topping is a stinking rotten Copper's Nark, nor nothing. But were that gem to, for example, fall into Billie's hands, or those of her legal representatives - and were she, or they, of a mind to get, you know, awkward - you could find yourself in a dock facing some pretty series libel charges there matey. Given that 'words imputing unchastity or adultery to a female,' is an offence under the Slander of Women Act (1891) for which the defence of 'fair comment' seldom, if ever, works. Believe me, I've tried.

It has become customary for news broadcasters to jet their big-name anchors to the scene of a major breaking news story. But the BBC's director of news, Helen Boaden, has indicated a shift in the corporation's policy when she admitted that it had, on occasions, been a waste of money. 'Sometimes we get it right and sometimes I think we don't get it right,' said Boaden, who is looking to find twenty per cent cuts in the BBC News division as part of director general Mark Thompson's efforts to save four hundred million smackers a year. 'We have been guilty of sending an anchor to a [story] where you look back and think "This was a waste of money,"' she added. 'Poor old Huw Edwards standing outside the [house of the] alleged suspect in the Madeleine McCann [case] saying "This is a guilty hedge" – with hindsight that probably wasn't the best use of our money.' But Boaden said the corporation would continue to send presenters to breaking stories where it was appropriate – including the Egypt uprising and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, from where Jim Naughtie anchored the Today programme. 'I thought Jim added quite a lot,' Boaden told the Voice of the Listener and Viewer spring conference in central London on Tuesday. 'In the end the public does expect us to treat these stories in a serious way with the big experts there. Someone like George Alagiah is not just there to look pretty. He does add to the story I would suggest.' Boaden also told the conference that she expected a radical change in the way the BBC provides local radio to emerge from Thompson's Delivering Quality First review. She embraced the idea of local radio stations sharing content with each other outside of peak-time shows such as breakfast. But Boaden said the controversial proposal to share some programmes with national news and sport station Radio 5Live was unlikely to happen. 'In an ideal world we wouldn't be thinking about sharing [content] at all. We are not in an ideal world,' said Boaden, whose news division has responsibility for local radio. 'The principle of sharing some output will emerge from this,' she predicted. 'I don't know for sure because we are not there [yet]. It's about how we do it and where we do it. I would be very nervous about sharing morning programmes – the common conversation in your area happens much more through those morning programmes than it does in the afternoon. You have to be careful in the evenings as well – local sport is a massively important glue, it is part of the place where you live. That is why I use the word intelligently. You have to do it thoughtfully.' But on the proposal, made internally at the BBC as part of the DQF process, that local radio could share content with Radio 5Live, Boaden said: 'That was one idea that came and went to be honest. It was never quite clear to me what the idea was, I'm not sure about the shape of 5Live if it had happened. I think they have moved on. That is part of the point of this process.' Boaden said people had to be 'horribly realistic' about the future of local radio but said she would be 'shocked' if any local breakfast shows were axed as a result. 'I would be shocked because I am against it.' Boaden admitted BBC News had been given a 'significant amount' of extra money beyond its normal budget to cope with the rigours of reporting on major global news stories in the Middle East and Japan. 'We needed extra help,' she said. 'Other money has been made available. You can't have a year like this and not overspend your budget. It would be impossible. That is not to say we are immune from the need to get extra efficiencies. We will have closed around five hundred posts, and created new posts in other things.'

The long-running 'will he, won't he?' nonsense over whether Simon Cowell will be a judge on ITV's The X Factor has taken another turn, with the media mogul understood to be planning to quit the live shows. ITV's blockbusting talent programme clashes with the launch of the US version of The X Factor later this summer and the hectic transatlantic shuttling that Cowell would have to do to be a judge on both shows would prove too exhausting even for the notoriously hard-working music, TV impresario and egomaniac. According to 'sources' quoted by the Gruniad, ITV is still looking at different permutations to accommodate him in the The X Factor this autumn. When and in what guise Cowell appears could depend on the show's ratings. One source said: 'It looks as though Simon won't be doing X Factor in the UK because it will be too much even for him, but it's still not been decided.' Another 'insider' allegedly said that Cowell could end up making appearances as a 'chairman' of the judging panel: 'At the moment he is not doing the live shows but could appear as some kind of "super judge."' Cowell is seen as the lynchpin of The X Factor, although American Idol remains the top-rating US programme despite his departure from the judging panel. The pantomime over who will be on the panel of ITV's blockbuster entertainment series began several months ago after it emerged that Cowell's US X Factor commitments clashed with the recording of the UK version. Judges for the British show have still not been finalised and will not be until the US X Factor panel line-up is confirmed. Dannii Minogue, Cheryl Cole and Louis Walsh were previously judges on the UK show. There has been speculation that Cole may transfer to the US version, or may not, which could leave ITV with two places to fill. It has already had to do that on another Cowell show, Britain's Got Talent, after Piers Morgan replaced Larry King on CNN and Cowell stepped back due to his US commitments. The fifth series of BGT begins this weekend with new judges Michael McIntyre and David Hasselhoff joining sitcom flop Amanda Holden. Cowell is due to appear in the live final stages of the competition. One production executive allegedly said: 'Simon does not have to decide yet about X Factor so why would he? The speculation only helps the publicity anyway.' Last autumn ITV signed a three-year deal with Cowell's company, Syco, and The X Factor and BGT co-producer Fremantle Media, for the two shows until 2013. But the extent of Cowell's on-screen presence was part of separate negotiations. A spokesman for Cowell said: 'No decision has been made.' An ITV spokesman said: 'We are very excited about the next series of X Factor and our plans will be announced in due course.' Meanwhile, Cowell has strenuously denied allegations that he and fellow entrepreneurs Sir Philip Green and restaurateur Richard Caring helped hide two billion pounds of assets of a friend, Scot Young. The claim was made in the high court in London by Young's estranged wife, Michelle, who is currently divorcing him. Cowell's representative said: 'These allegations are completely and utterly untrue and our lawyers are contacting Mrs Young about her statements today.'

Claudia Winkleman has been confirmed as the host of new Channel Four comedy talk show King Of ... The Film 2011 presenter will be 'shining a unique light on the passions and peculiarities' of her celebrity guests, and will hold court on debates about everything from musicals and newsreaders to household pets and takeaways. 'I have been playing King Of ... with friends and family forever. I am completely over the moon I'm now being allowed to do it on the telly. What's the king of condiments? No. It's not ketchup,' said Winkleman. C4's commissioning editor for entertainment Darren Smith said: 'Seeing Claudia in a comedy entertainment context is a real treat. Everyone knows how charming and brainy she is, and now you can see how incredibly funny she can be. We're hugely excited.' Last month, it was reported that the BBC and Channel Four were fighting over Winkleman for a number of TV projects. Producers on the new show include Ruth Wallace (Mock The Week), Chris Little (League Of Their Own) and Kate Staples (Would I Lie To You).

Google's YouTube online video site has launched a new live streaming functionality, allowing its partners to broadcast live events over the web to potentially huge audiences. Last Friday, YouTube announced the launch of YouTube Live, integrating the live streaming capabilities it has been introducing to the site over the past year. The service will offer a range of 'the most compelling live events,' including concerts, sporting events and interviews. YouTube Live will initially be made available under a beta, allowing YouTube partners with 'accounts in good standing' to sign up and stream live content on the site. Eventually, YouTube wants to give 'thousands of partners' a platform to stream live events from their channels. The company has previously launched one-off live video streams, including an interview with US president Barack Obama and a concert by U2 in California. Thomson Reuters is understood to be among the companies testing YouTube Live, while Stanford University is also experimenting with the service. Live sport is expected to be one of the big drivers for YouTube's live streaming service, largely because it can command big enough audiences to attract advertisers. Last year, YouTube agreed a multi-year deal with the Board of Control for Cricket in India for live and on-demand rights to sixty games from the Indian Premier League. Speaking to the Financial Times, YouTube product manager Josh Siegel said that the website was making a specific push for live sport content. He added: 'We're going to see a lot of activity in the sports area. We've been ramping up a big development team… and we expect to see that content coming on to the site.' The launch of live streaming comes just days after it emerged that Google was preparing to invest around one hundred million dollars in original programming for YouTube as part of plans to revamp the site for the emerging connected TV space.

The 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup was a huge hit with worldwide TV audiences, but it also helped ESPN's Cricinfo service deliver its best ever online and mobile figures. ESPN announced this week that the mobile version of ESPNcricinfo recorded more than forty five million page views for the final between India and Sri Lanka on 2 April, accounting for forty five per cent of all ESPN's page views on that day. At its peak during the India versus Pakistan semi-final on 30 March, Cricinfo's share of ESPN's total global audience was 36.1 per cent online and 63.6 per cent on mobile, setting a new one-day record of 1.9m visitors and 52.4m page views. The recently-released ESPNcricinfo mobile app for iPhone and Android devices collectively generated one hundred and ninety one million page views throughout the entire tournament. Most of the mobile traffic came from the Indian subcontinent. Tom Gleeson, vice president of digital media at ESPN International, said: 'We're thrilled that fans from around the globe chose ESPNcricinfo as their digital source for news and content during the Cricket World Cup. The tournament has truly turned into a worldwide event, and we will continue to deliver quality content that fans come to expect from ESPNcricinfo year round across all digital platforms.' Also in April, ESPNcricinfo managed to break the significant milestone in the US of one million unique users across all digital platforms. Senior ESPN writer Wright Thompson's article, Why You Should Care About Cricket?, captured nearly one million page views in the States.

The BBC Trust is to appoint an independent adviser to examine director general Mark Thompson's proposals for cutting costs by twenty per cent, once the list of changes and options are presented to the body in June. It is also planning to lead consultations with BBC stakeholders, including licence fee payers, on the Delivering Quality First proposals, before it finally agrees to a reshaped corporation by the end of 2011, according to a newly published trust work plan for 2011-12. This signals the BBC Trust's intention, under new chairman Lord Patten, who starts his interference in May, to act as the independent regulator and guardian of the public interest, in what is set to be an unprecedented period of cutbacks at the BBC. It also signals a refusal to be browbeaten by the executive board, chaired by Thompson, which includes powerful external directors, such as Marcus Agius, chairman of Barclays, head of the remuneration committee. In its work plan the trust says 'we will monitor and ensure, regardless of financial pressures, that the BBC is becoming more distinctive, more efficient, more transparent.' The trust has said it sees savings falling into two categories, firstly those that do not affect output but cut the cost base through back office savings and changed working practices. Then there is the second, cuts that affect output. 'We recognise there will still have to be further reshaping of the BBC's services and boundaries,' the trust added.

A London council has refused a request for a road closure for revellers to hold an 'anti-royal wedding' street party. Campaign group Republic has said that it is taking legal advice regarding the decision by Camden Council, the Press Association reports. The council claims that it vetoed the requested closure in Earlham Street in the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden for the Not The Royal Wedding Street Party because of objections by residents concerned about potential disorder. A Camden Council spokesman said: 'While we know Republic to be a responsible organisation, we are unaware of any local connection between them and the location they have chosen. During discussions with the community, significant concerns were raised around the potential for disorder and the impact of the event taking place. Many local businesses were opposed to the event taking place as it would directly contradict the royal wedding theme in terms of their merchandise.' Executive officer of Republic Graham Smith said: 'This is a disgraceful attack on the rights of republicans to make their voice heard and to hold a fun and peaceful event. Camden Council is allowing a few vocal residents and businesses to veto any event in Central London they do not support. We can only assume this is a politically-motivated ban and we will challenge it all the way.'

Singer David Byrne has reached a legal settlement with Florida's ex-governor over the unauthorised use of a Talking Heads song in an election campaign. Byrne had sued Charlie Crist after 'Road to Nowhere' featured in a YouTube video attacking Marco Rubio, Crist's opponent in last year's US Senate race. Byrne said he was one of a few artists with 'the bucks and guts to challenge such usage.' On Monday Crist put a video on YouTube in which he apologised to the singer. 'Should there be any future election campaigns for me, I will respect and uphold the rights of artists and obtain permission or a licence for the use of any copyrighted work,' he said in the video. Byrne had originally sued Crist for one million dollars. The full terms of the settlement have not been released. In a statement, Crist said he had met Byrne last week to discuss the case and that the fifty eight-year-old 'couldn't have been a better guy. As I told him, I was sorry it ever happened at all,' he added. 'He couldn't have been more of a gentleman about it.' Scottish-born songwriter and producer Byrne said that he was feeling 'very manly' after his trip to Tampa to meet Crist. 'Other artists may actually have the anger but not want to take the time and risk the legal bills,' he said. 'I am lucky that I can do that.' He said that by standing up for his rights as a composer, the unauthorised use of songs in political campaigns could be 'made to be a less common option or, better yet, an option that is never taken in the future.' 'Road to Nowhere,' a top ten hit single in the UK featured on the band's 1985 LP Little Creatures.

Almost four decades since a fourteen-year-old named Donny Osmond took the UK by storm, he is back with a bang. Well, in a small corner of Lancashire, anyway. The 1970s pop heartthrob is to launch his first UK radio show. In Oldham. The Sun and the Daily Lies report that starting later this year, Osmond will front the Saturday breakfast show on Oldham's 96.2 The Revolution station. He follows in the footsteps of Pat Sharp. Although, hopefully, not the mullet.

Johnny Marr has announced he has left Wakefield band The Cribs after four years with the group. The Ex-Smiths guitarist said he was leaving to work on 'new solo songs' and plans to release 'two records over the next year or so.' A statement from the remaining three members of the band admitted recording sessions with Marr for their new LP 'weren't really working.' Marr released one CD with the band - 2009's Ignore The Ignorant. Announcing his departure Marr said he was 'proud' of his achievements with the Jarman brothers, saying he'll now do 'more film soundtrack work. We ended up doing much more than we originally set out to and I've made three good friends.' Writing on their website following Marr's announcement the trio said: 'There were definite intentions of continuing on together and making another record. At some point late last year we just casually got together out in Portland as a three-piece and it was so much fun. Johnny had started working on a solo record in the time off, and it just seemed like the right time to go our separate ways.' The Cribs have a handful of shows organised for the summer including Kendall Calling and Get Loaded In The Park.

Peaches Geldof has claimed that the way certain sections of the press write about her gives the public the wrong perception about her personality. The OMG! presenter (if that's the right word), daughter of Saint Bob and, you know, total waste of blood and organs, said that she could understand people being intimidated by her if they had only read stories in the Daily Scum Mail. 'I suppose the way that the Daily Mail write about me, people would think I'm a total wank,' she said. For once, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is with the Daily Scum Mail on this score because, it sounds about right to him.

A man from Ohio has been charged for barking at a police dog. The dog, named Timber, was in the back of a police car when the incident happened. Ryan Stephens was caught barking and hissing at the canine inches from the rear window by police officer Bradley Walker. Walker told NBC News: 'When he finally stopped [barking], I asked him why he was harassing the dog. That's when he told me that the dog had started it, and that the dog was harassing him.' The police officer added that he suspected the man of being drunk and noted that it was dangerous to tease the dog while it was inside the car. Although, not quite as dangerous as teasing the dog when it was outside the car: 'Everything [in the dog cage] is metal, and a dog could very easily get his tooth caught in one of [the] grates and rip his tooth out or cause some pretty severe dental trauma, if he's trying to get at this person who's harassing him.' He continued: 'If the door was actually left unlocked or something, and a drunk individual or an intoxicated individual opens the door, he has a very good likelihood of getting bit.' Stephens, twenty five, from Mason, is due to appear in court on a misdemeanour citation on 21 April.

A tower made entirely from Lego bricks in Brazil has set a new world record. The one hundred and two foot-high monolith was constructed from half a million bricks and broke the previous record, which was set in Chile last year, by ten inches. Thousands of volunteers, most of whom were children, spent four days assembling pieces of the tower at a shopping centre in São Paulo. They were assisted by staff flown in from Lego's headquarters in Denmark. The structure was completed using a crane and held in place with several cables to stop it from collapsing. World Cup-winning Brazilian footballer Cafu was on hand to place the last bricks on top of the tower on Saturday. Celebrity fans of Lego include David Beckham and Top Gear host James May, who built a house from the plastic bricks in 2009 for his TV show James May's Toy Stories. And yer actual Keith Telly Topping for that matter.

The latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day is one of the few single released by a rock band formed in 1970 in California. Originally a trio, Stoneground expanded to a ten-piece live band, including ex-Beau Brummels singer Sal Valentino, by the time of their eponymous 1971 debut LP. The group appeared in two films, Medicine Ball Caravan (1971) and Dracula AD 1972 (1972), and released three LPs before Valentino quit in 1973. Sadly, I don't have any visual material for 'Total Destruction' as there's remarkable little footage of the band at their peak. Thankfully, we do have this great performance of 'An Added Attraction' from German telly and, of course, their legendary two-song appearance at the start of Dracula AD 1972. I've said this before, dear blog reader, but it bears repeating - if life was party I'd rather appreciate it if yer actual Keith Telly Topping's was like the one in Dracula AD 1972, with Stoneground playing 'Alligator Man' in the front room of Stately Telly Topping Manor and Caroline Munro dancing on my sideboard!