Friday, April 29, 2011

There's No Point In Asking You'll Get No Reply

Gosh it was busy in yer actual From The North yesterday, dear blog reader. One of our busiest days ever, in actual fact. And we've had lots of busy days, recently. God bless whosoever it was that invented superinjunctions and all of those who take 'em out. You're an inspiration to all of us. So, anyway, it's another Bank Holiday Friday making this, in Britain, our first three day week since, ooh, 1973 I reckon. All we need now are some candles and a few power cuts and the illusion will be var nigh complete. Friday is also, of course, the occasion of the latest royal wedding. I don't know about anybody else, but I'm really not looking forward to today's fourteen hour-hour brown-tongue-a-thon on the BBC. Still, it could be worse. And, ITV's coverage - presented by Phillip Schofield - will be. Let's get on with the news.

One man who is not unfamiliar with the workings of the legal system is Wayne Rooney who is reported by the Gruniad (and several other newspapers) to be considering taking legal action against the News of the World for breach of privacy. This came after Scotland Yard detectives warned him he may have been targeted by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was on the paper's books. And told him that elbow on James McCarthy was a bit risky. Probably. Detectives visited the England footballer in Manchester last week. The striker was reportedly shown pages from Mulcaire's notebooks, which listed his mobile phone number and those of his associates. The Metropolitan police are in the process of contacting everyone whose name appears in Mulcaire's paperwork, which was seized by Scotland Yard in a 2006 raid on his home, as part of its new investigation into allegations of widespread phone hacking at the title. Rooney was the subject of several high-profile News of the World exclusives in 2005 and 2006 and is thought to be angry his phone was allegedly targeted. And, trust me, you really don't want to see Wayne Rooney angry. Although, if you watch Sky Sports chances are you'll see it such an occurrence about once a week. There is, the newspaper stresses, 'no suggestion the stories in question [concerning Rooney] were obtained by hacking into Rooney's phone, however.' The Gruniad revealed a fortnight ago that Rooney's agent, Paul Stretford, had also met with Scotland Yard detectives, who told him he may also have been targeted by Muclaire. Stretford is also considering taking legal action against the newspaper. Several high-profile individuals from the world of football were targeted by Mulcaire in 2005 and 2006, the period covered by the paperwork seized by police. The Gruniad also revealed in July 2009 that the News of the World's owner, News Group, had reached a secret out-of-court settlement with Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, after he sued in the high court claiming Mulcaire had colluded with the paper's journalists to hack into messages left on his mobile phone. The paper reached a similar settlement with Jo Armstrong, a legal official at the PFA. Mick McGuire, a former deputy chief executive at the organisation, has since launched legal proceedings. Sky Andrew, a prominent football agent whose clients include former England defender Sol Campbell, is also suing the company for breach of privacy. Andrew's case is well advanced and is one of three test cases due to go to trial later this year or early in 2012. He is one of eight public figures who received a public apology from News Corp earlier this month along with an offer of compensation. Former footballer Andy Gray is also suing News Group, which is part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire News Corp. Gray was employed as a commentator at Sky Sports, which is part-owned by the media giant, until he was sacked in January. A total of twenty four public figures have so far issued proceedings against News Group but lawyers acting for alleged victims claim that many more are set to follow. They include actors Sienna Miller and Steve Coogan, former lack of culture secretary Tessa Jowell and publicist Nicola Phillips. News Group has written to Miller saying it is prepared to pay her one hundred thousand pounds to settle but she has not accepted the offer.

Rupert Murdoch has a 'close-to-zero' chance of buying Formula One and talk of a takeover is being 'driven by the media and advisers seeking to make money,' the sport's supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, has said. Reports this month suggested that Murdoch's News Corp was in the early stages of talks to form a consortium to acquire control of Formula One motor racing. Formula One is currently owned by the private equity firm CVC and managed by Ecclestone. News Corp was said to have held preliminary talks with at least one big car manufacturer, thought to be Ferrari, and with the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, who already has links to the sport. 'It's media driven,' Ecclestone told Reuters in a telephone interview. 'It looks very much like someone who is trying to see if they can make [money]. All of these people that get involved with these things, they get some victims and say: "We can make this happen, I'm sure we can do this," and then all they do is keep pumping fees in.' Analysts have also pointed out that the big manufacturers and advertisers traditionally want the sport to be shown on free-to-air channels as they draw the biggest possible audience, as opposed to Murdoch's paid-for TV channels such as BSkyB in Britain or Sky Italia. Asked if coverage on free-to-air TV was still an issue, Ecclestone replied: 'Definitely, one hundred per cent. If, and I think the chances are close-to-zero, but if Murdoch was to buy certainly he'd have to broadcast some free-to-air like it is now.' Murdoch has made sport a cornerstone of his pay-TV operations and it has also been a prime motivation for many of his deals, and analysts see a logic to his involvement in F1. Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of the world's largest advertising group, WPP, and a director of Formula One, told Reuters he had no problems with a media company owning the rights to the sport. 'I see no harm whatsoever in a pay-TV company investing in or owning Formula One,' said Sorrell, who has clashed with Ecclestone in the past. 'From what I've seen, I don't think CVC have indicated that they want to sell the business. I'm sure there would be interest because Formula One is a very strong property. But [I make] those comments as a WPP employee and not as a Formula One director.'

BBC1's controller Danny Cohen has said that he is not worried about the effect losing presenter Sian Williams will have on BBC Breakfast. Williams, who co-hosts the show with Bill Turnbull, confirmed earlier this month that she is quitting the programme ahead of its move North to Manchester. The BBC revealed that the host and sports presenter Chris Hollins are among fifty four per cent of the morning show's team who have declined to relocate to Salford next year. However, according to the Mirra, Cohen remains confident that the programme will retain its viewing figures and lead over ITV rival the flop Daybreak. 'I'm not massively scared,' he said. 'The show and format is always more important.' Director of BBC News Helen Broaden previously insisted that the show will continue to go 'from strength to strength' in its new home.

A baker and cake-maker from Sunderland credits the BBC's MasterChef with launching her career. Stacie Stewart made it to the semi-finals of last year's series and told BBC Newcastle that her business is now 'flourishing.' She said: 'The encouragement John and Gregg gave me through the competition was fantastic. When I ended the competition I thought I can change my life if I want to and everything's there for the taking.' As the current season of MasterChef reached its finale - won on Wednesday by American chef Tim Anderson - presenter and judge, Gregg Wallace admitted it was disappointing when those with potential are knocked out of the competition. He said: 'You can't help but start to fall in love with them because we've worked together with them for so long.' Co-presenter John Torode said: 'As every year comes around there are people out there who say to themselves: "Right, this is it, I can actually do it." If you win MasterChef it does change your life. You go on to do something quite incredible.' Stacie, twenty nine, now has her own business - The Beehive Bakery - which offers catering at private parties, a cookery school and supplies local cafes with cakes and puddings. She also appears on television, most recently on This Morning, and is currently writing a cookery book. She said: 'At first people were coming to me because I'd been on MasterChef and they'd seen me on the telly. But I think now, I mean I've been going over a year, so I think I'm trading now on my reputation.' Although she thrives on pressure and soon forgot about the cameras, Stacie fell at a familiar MasterChef hurdle - trying something a little too clever. She admitted: 'I messed my dessert up, which is ironic considering now I'm a dessert maker. I did a dessert with a load of different techniques in and everything just went wrong. Everybody else's dishes were spot on, I messed up, I went home, it was fair enough.'

Gordon Brown 'reacted furiously' when Andrew Marr asked him personal questions after taking out an injunction to protect his own private life, according to the Daily Mirra. The newspaper claims that then Prime Minister was 'aware of the court order' when he was interviewed by Marr in 2009 and asked about rumours that he was taking prescription drugs. In the interview, Marr asked him: 'A lot of people in this country use prescription painkillers and pills to help them get through. Are you one of them?' Brown tersely replied: 'No. I think this is the sort of questioning which is all too often entering the lexicon of British politics.' The Mirra states that the BBC had already been 'told the claim was untrue.' The implication being that a flat statement of denial should prevent any further questioning on a matter. let's all remember this the next time the Daily Mirra prints a story about someone having been caught lying in public life. They go on to report, rather gloatingly, that the BBC subsequently received 'more than one hundred complaints.' But then, they received six thousand complaints when a trail for Over The Rainbow was played over the end of an episode of Doctor Who last year so, frankly, one hundred is really nothing to trumpet.

The good old Current Bun has claimed that 'BBC1 is set to rip up its schedules for next year's Olympics - with even EastEnders under threat. All prime-time drama and daytime shows will be affected during the three-week event, controller Danny Cohen said. The wall-to-wall coverage will be welcomed by sports fans but risks upsetting viewers used to watching their favourite shows at certain times. Cohen said: "We are the host broadcaster. We want to broadcast all of the Olympics. It won't be twenty four hours a day, but the events start early and go on past midnight. We will have a radically different schedule for that period. It has to be. It is a massive moment for Britain and we are the channel that brings people together. It is right that it is on BBC1." Cohen also said the BBC was close to confirming who would be the main anchorman or woman for the Games which last from 27 July to 12 August. He added it would "most likely" be one of the Beeb's current main presenters.'

The BBC Trust has approved a new strategy for BBC Worldwide that will see it focus its attention more firmly overseas. The strategy published on Thursday follows an eighteen-month review of the BBC's commercial activity which concluded in November 2009. It includes three 'fundamental principles' governing the way BBC Worldwide operates, exploiting value on licence fee payers' behalf and ensuring that it undertakes 'no commercial activity [that] damages the core brand and reputation of the BBC either at home or abroad.' BBC Worldwide will become a 'more internationally-facing business' and has declared an end to mergers and acquisitions – such as its controversial Lonely Planet deal – outside of exceptional circumstances. It will also divest stakes in non-BBC-branded international channels 'where it makes commercial sense' and exit any activity that is 'not in keeping with the BBC brand.' BBC Worldwide sold its fifty per cent take in its global TV channels joint venture with Discovery in November last year. The business reported record profits of £145.2m in the year to the end of March 2010, on the back of its biggest-ever revenue of £1.07bn. Huge overseas sellers for the BBC include Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who, Top Gear, Sherlock, [spooks] and Wonders of the Universe. BBC Worldwide is still in the process of selling its magazine division and is understood to be 'getting close' to a preferred bidder. The new strategy was approved by the trust in March. A BBC Worldwide spokesperson said: 'Our strategy for continued growth will bring an even stronger focus on international markets and taking high-quality British content to the world.'

Boyband Blue have 'hit out' at television presenter Phillip Schofield again, insisting that he shouldn't have criticised their Eurovision song so publicly. Schofield previously posted a message on Twitter describing the song as 'shocking.' Speaking to the Digital Spy website, Blue singer Antony Costa said: 'The man is a national treasure on TV, and for him to say what he did about our song, obviously he's entitled to his opinion, but he should have pulled us aside. To say it to seven hundred thousand followers on his Twitter wasn't cool. If we performed it on his show, he'd stand there and give us a clap, and he would say well done.' Lee Ryan said: 'He'd be like, "Let's wish our boys luck," and we'd be thinking, "You two-faced Gordon the Gopher!"' Simon Webbe added: 'It's not a farce anymore - Germany won it last year! He needs to do his homework before he jumps in with those sort of comments.' Duncan James also said: 'It's backfired on him anyway because it's given the song lots of press attention. It's made us determined to get this song into the top five and come back, sit on his sofa and have smug grins on our faces.' So, that's all of Blue on the subject of 'national treasure' Phillip Schofield. Aren't you just beyond glad you weren't born in the Eighteenth Century, dear blog reader? If you had, you'd've missed out on stimulating intellectual moments such as this.

Top Gear star Richard Hammond was, according to press reports, 'left red-faced' as his Total Wipeout co-host Amanda Byram 'teased' his friend and Top Gear colleague Jeremy Clarkson at a recent awards ceremony. Byram, thirty seven, who co-hosts Total Wipeout with Hammond, said on stage at the - obviously hugely prestigious - Carphone Warehouse Appy Awards: 'Maybe next year we'll be presenting the Marriage Saver app to Richard's friend Jeremy Clarkson.' Err ... that's not, actually 'teasing' that's a bit more 'sticking the knife in and twisting it.' It's also nice to see that the Hamster will still turn up to the opening of an envelope. According to the Daily Lies, Hammond 'buried his head in his hands' as the audience laughed at Clarkson's expense. Personally, I wouldn't like to be in the Hamster's shoes when Jezza gets back for the next series of The Gear. I heard Jezza once killed a chap with his bare hands for 'looking at me in a funny way.' Sadly, it wasn't Piers Morgan. Next ...

Hugh Bonneville has been talking about his forthcoming appearance in Doctor Who. The actor, most recently seen on screen as the Earl of Grantham in ITV's period drama Downton Abbey, will feature in the third episode of the new series of Doctor Who, a week on Saturday. Bonneville will play a rough, tough pirate me hearties - and his unusually hirsute appearance at the recent Radio Times covers party suggests he's already getting into character. Speaking about the role, Bonneville said that he was a childhood fan of Doctor Who. 'When I was a boy, the music and Jon Pertwee's Doctor had me peeking out from behind the sofa every Saturday. I am thrilled to be appearing in the new series.' And, he warned that fans should be prepared for a thrill ride. 'Although the pirate's demons are different to those of the young lad who watched through his fingers, they are no less terrifying - this new adventure is not for the faint-hearted.'

Shelagh Fogarty's last day on the BBC Radio 5Live breakfast show appeared to be going swimmingly until she encountered a nightmare guest by the name of Anthony Grierson the supposed emeritus professor of political philosophy at Syracuse University. 'Is this the BBC or some two-bit news organisation?' he asked her in a discussion about, well, to be honest I'm not quite sure what it was about but it had something to do with the US presidential system and the royal family. 'You ask me a decent question and I'll tell you how I see it.' Not only was the chap rude, he then started talking nonsense. 'He who wanders lonely as a cloud, ends up evaporating' and 'The man who thinks he can never can, the man who knows he can sometimes can, but the man who really can doesn't need to prove anything.' Then, of course, it turned out that he wasn't a professor at all but rather Fogarty's co-presenter of the past six years, Nicky Campbell. Fortunately Fogarty's four-letter reaction was not broadcast on air. She will next be heard on the station's lunchtime show, replacing Gabby Logan. Campbell, meanwhile, will have a new co-host, Rachel Burden. Logan is leaving due to 'other BBC work and family commitments.'

Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer has praised the work of Sir Bobby Robson's legacy, after the former Ipswich, newcastle, Bracelona and England manager's charity passed the two and half million pound mark on it's third birthday. 'The amount of money raised by the foundation is phenomenal,' Shearer said. 'Big events and donations are great but as well as that it is the small donations from ordinary people that are making the difference too. We are always hearing about people who have raised a few hundred pounds from a coffee morning or suchlike. Sir Bobby once told me about how a man had stopped him on the street and given him ten pounds. People have really taken the charity to their hearts. It shows the regard Sir Bobby was held in and how successful the charity has been.' Shearer also insists he has no problem with Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton after their infamous bust-up. Then temporary Magpies boss Shearer told Barton in 2009 exactly what he thought of his petulance after he had been sent off during his side's 3-0 Premier League defeat at Liverpool as the club slid towards the relegation trapdoor two seasons ago. Both men reportedly had their say in the Anfield dressing room after the game, and it became apparent that had the former England and Newcastle skipper been given the job on a long-term basis, the midfielder would have been heading for the exit door at St James' Park. However, Shearer has revealed that they have met since and the matter is 'over and done with.' He told the Evening Chronicle: 'I have absolutely no problem with Barton. We have had a pint since and everything was fine. Our horses have even been in the same race - we were both there to see them and we had a chat. Joey let me down, let the club down and let himself down, there's no getting away from that and I would tell him the same again. But that's the end of it. He has had an outstanding season, just as he had in the Championship last year, and he deserves great credit for that. Joey has played under real pressure because of his problems off the field as well as on it, but he seems to have overcome them, which is a massive plus.'

Ryan Giggs says that he never had any doubt that his club-mate, Wayne Rooney, would return to his scintillating best. The Welsh winger, who has belied his advancing years with a string of stunning performances for The Scum this season, said he was not at all surprised by Rooney's recent excellent form after what had begun as a difficult year. An unhappy World Cup for Rooney with the national team was followed by problems at his club, as the England striker made the sensational announcement that he wanted to leave Old Trafford last October. While eventually backing down on his desire to leave - and his claims that the current squad simply wasn't good enough to challenge for honours - Rooney found himself on the wrong end of hostility from some fans and endured a difficult spell at the club. However, recent games have seen Rooney reach familiar heights, with his second goal in the 2-0 win over Schalke 04 on Tuesday night the latest in a series of important strikes. Giggs, who also netted in the, frankly one-sided, match said: 'I am not surprised at what Wayne is doing. The top players perform when the trophies are about to be handed out. They produce moments of inspiration when it matters. Wayne has done that time and time again over the years, so it was hardly a shock he was superb against Schalke.'

And, to show that yer actual Keith Telly Topping doesn't just throw these things together, dear blog reader, we end pretty much where we began. Giggs and Rooney's former team-mate David Beckham has given his considered and worthwhile opinion that 'Our country needs the royal wedding.' On the contrary, Mr Beckham, sir. What our country really needs is a kick up the arse for, yet again, paying for a royal wedding.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day we've got another one of those different songs/same riff things. Starting off with this
Followed, of course, by thisYou don't have to take my word for it, dear blog reader, Glen Matlock freely admits it!