Saturday, April 02, 2011

We Don't Care About No Government Warnings About The Promotion Of The Simple Life And The Dams They're Building

The trailer for the new series of Doctor Who was unveiled earlier this week, dear blog reader. You may have noticed. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping certainly did. Metro, seemingly, did too because, according to the paper 'fans on Twitter are already declaring that the series will be "epic."' Now, before we go any further with what follows, let this blogger make his position perfectly clear - yer actual Keith Telly Topping is a Doctor Who fan. (I realise that sounds like something you'd say at an AA meeting confessional but, bear with me I'm going somewhere with this.) I have been since about 1968 when I was five. I've written novels and factual books on the subject, been a member of the show's active fandom since the late 1970s and am a contributor to several periodicals and magazines, as well as online discussion forums and, indeed, this blog, on the subject of Doctor Who. I loved the old series, I love the new series. I love the trailer, too, it's great. And, I'm really looking forward to the new series starting in three weeks and I'm always happy whenever the show gets coverage - particularly supportive coverage of this kind - in newspapers and magazines because, as somebody once said, 'good publicity is terrific, bad publicity is good but no publicity is downright effing terrible.' So, you'd probably expect me to be rather pleased with Metro's story. But I'm not. And I'll tell you why. Because it's not news. Not even close. 'Fans', we are told excitedly, 'have taken to Twitter in their droves to express their excitement at the approaching series – which airs on 23 April – with the trailer being described as "amazing" and "impressive." Twitter user alexcg said: "Can't wait til [sic] April 23. Really can't wait. This looks epic." While Higgvishere said: "I am very very very impressed with the new Doctor Who series six trailer." This was echoed by ianislazylad who wrote: "Now officially excited for Doctor Who series 6. That trailer was pure awesomeness!!!!" This, ladies and gentleman, is seemingly what journalism has become in the Twenty First Century. I've no wish to knock the obvious enthusiasm of the three quoted individuals - as noted, by and large I share it - but, who actually gives a damn what ianislazylad, for one example, thinks. Ian himself, no doubt, maybe a few of his mates. But the readership of Metro? Come on. I'm not sure if Ian really is lazy but, I'll tell you who is - some stringer at Metro whose just provided a classic example of everything that's wrong with modern day journalism here. They've got nowt to write about so they've had a trawl around Twitter found out what some people are talking about and then quoted them on it. And, to repeat, reported it as news. Meanwhile, we've got a sodding nuclear meltdown in Japan, civil wars in Libya, Cote D'Ivoire and, possibly soon, Syria, a National Health Service that's falling apart at the seams, a financial crisis which we may take years to recover from, a government - in the shape of the vile and odious rascal Hunt - colluding with Rupert Murdoch to allow the sale of Sky to News International to go through whilst, at the same time bowlderising the national institution that is the BBC. Still, why bother to write about any of that malarkey, or to actually get up off your arse and do some proper reporting? When the alternative is that you can simply log onto Twitter (a form of expression which is, by its very nature, inherently frivolous - I think even its biggest supporters would acknowledge that) and take a few badly spelled quotes from it about a TV show to demonstrate 'what the public think.' A TV show I adore, I repeat. But still, just a TV show. We'll be getting all this again, no doubt, later in the month when Britain's Got Talent starts and some glake in Nowheresville, Wiltshire is posting their thoughts on the latest desperate wannabe to thrust themselves into the glare of the spotlights for their two minutes and twenty four seconds of infamy. 'OMG! LOL! She sux'd. Amanda U don't know talent! Facepalm, smiley face[sic].' And, it will be reported as news. By Metro, or by the Sun, or the Mirra, or one of them. Even the supposed quality papers now seem to use Twitter as some kind of final arbiter of the success or failure of all things - as highlighted by the suspiciously concerted campaign of whispers carried out by several newspaper last month when the new series of MasterChef began and a few dozen malcontents posting on Twitter, briefly, seemed to convince them that the series was a massive ratings flop, when it wasn't that or anything remotely like it. I fully realise that this probably sounds like the bleating whingings of a boring old fart, dear blog reader. And, for what it's worth, it probably is! But, I'm on record as saying that I don't like Twitter and I'll repeat that again here. I find it inconsequential and more than a little bit dangerous. It almost invites conflict, by the very brevity of its compression of ideas in a mere soundbite. We've seen one of its greatest exponents, Stephen Fry, on a few occasions get into rows with people (either through misunderstanding or provocation) largely because Twitter has no room for nuance. No depth. I loathe the idea of anyone - but particularly me, I'll admit - being forced to compress a thought into a mere one hundred and forty characters. Ideas deserve space. So does critique if it's to be informed and worthy of discussion. As I've noted on this blog many times, I encourage everyone to say what's on your mind in any forum you have available to you and on any subject you see fit but, for God's sake do me this much of a favour and don't be restricted in what you say by self-imposed and crass limits. I think it was my old mate Paul Cornell who once criticised an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation because it included the idea that the Federation had put a speed limit on the Enterprise. He considered this a horrible metaphor and wrote, passionately, 'Science fiction, and its fans shouldn't have speed limits placed on their dreams.' I'm also with the great Aaron Sorkin who used a couple of episodes of The West Wing and, more particular to this case, an episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip to question the idea that instant Internet critique was something worthy of being widely reported. He was, specifically talking about blogs - blogs such as this one actually. Aaron would probably be appalled by the idea that if, when his next TV series gets out of development and begins (next year hopefully), some media outlet were to pick up a quote from this blog casting an opinion on whether it was good, bad, indifferent or any number of shades of grey in between. 'Who the Hell is "Keith Telly Topping" and what gives him the right to have his thoughts on anyones work carry any more weight than the opinions of any other one person?' he might say. (I doubt he would, but let's just suppose for the sake of argument!) And, if he didn't, I would. I write this blog primarily for an audience of one. Me. The fact that I get a few hundred hits every day from others, and that I've got a few dozen regular followers is, to be honest, pretty much incidental to the creative process that goes into From The North. So, sorry for the rant - and, particularly, the length of it, but I'm serious about this subject. It's really does get right on my tit end! By the way, Doctor Who's back on 23 April. It'll be great. Take it from me, yer actual Keith Telly Topping.

And, so to some proper news: The great Eddie Izzard is reported to be working on a new political drama series for American TV. The FX network – which broadcast his previous series The Riches – has the untitled drama in development, according to the Deadline website. Izzard would play a congressman who loses his seat after a sex scandal and then becomes a vicious and amoral political fixer. Which sounds fabulous. Eddie apparently co-created the series with the writer Doug Jung and is said to have been working on the idea for a couple of years. Ed has also just finished filming the mini-series adaptation of Treasure Island, in which he plays Long John Silver. It is expected to be broadcast on Sky at Christmas.

BBC4 saw its audience rocket last night as Top of the Pops made a triumphant return to prime time, overnight audience data indicates. The clip show Big Hits: TOTP 1964 to 1975 kicked off the music-themed night with eight hundred and eighty thousand viewers between 8.30pm and 10pm, following which Top of the Pops: The Story of 1976 was seen by a whopping 1.13m, the channel's largest ever Friday night audience in its history. At 10.50pm, the nostalgia continued with eight hundred and fifty thousand viewing an original Top of the Pops episode from April 1976, after which the 2006 documentary Top of the Pops: The True Story grabbed a further six hundred and seventy five thousand viewers at 11.20pm. That latter score is possibly the most remarkable of the lot as it was the most watched programmer anywhere on British TV at midnight. This must count as one of BBC4's biggest ever nights and augers well for the channel's decision to schedule a run of repeats of vintage Top of the Pops episode from next Thursday night. Couldn't happen to a more deserving channel.

Harry & Paul, the sketch show starring Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, is to return to BBC2 for a fourth series. In January rumours surfaced the show was on the BBC's list of comedies to axe, as budget cuts force the channel to lose some formats as it moves to a reduced number of original comedy slots. At the same time, the ever-reliable Sun ran a story claiming the show had been cancelled due to falling ratings. However, Paul Whitehouse says the rumours are incorrect and that the BBC has commissioned a fourth series of Harry & Paul. Appearing on The Alan Titchmarsh Show to promote the Bellamy's People DVD, Whitehouse said: 'Harry and I both read something in the Sun the other day saying that we were finished. Which, you know, we always wonder about. We ring each other up every day and say "are we finished?" But, no, the BBC has decided to re-commission the show. So, we creak into action.' Fans will have to wait a while for the six new episodes though, as Whitehouse added: 'We hope it will be on air sometime next year, but we've got to write it yet!'

Actor, author and master Twitterer Stephen Fry is currently in Canada as part of the Glenn Gould Prize jury. He stopped by Studio Q for a wide ranging chat earlier this week - on subjects as diverse as Twitter, celebrity, and parcels of worms. Have a listen.

Meanwhile, Stephen's old oppo Hugh Laurie and Andrew Lloyd Webber are among the famous faces who will take part in a new series of documentaries for ITV. Alongside House star Laurie and the owner of The Shoetree of Despair on the new arts series - called Perspectives - will be actors Robson Green and Sir Ian McKellen. Hugh Laurie: Down by The River will follow the actor as he records a blues album in New Orleans. ITV's Jo Clinton-Davis said: 'Hugh Laurie's passion for New Orleans and the legendary blues is palpable and we are thrilled to be working with him and Sprout Pictures on this unique documentary.' His very gnomish Lordship Lloyd-Webber will present an ITV documentary about the art of the Pre-Raphaelites later this year. The impresario moved to ITV after a long stint on the BBC where he featured in a series of shows searching for new musical stars. Andrew Lloyd Webber And The Pre-Raphaelites will look at the work of the group of artists and poets who scandalised Nineteenth-Century England. Lloyd Webber has collected Pre-Raphaelite art since the 1960s and showed work from his collection in a special show at the Royal Academy in London in 2003. Lord Of The Rings actor Sir Ian will front a documentary about the life and work of the Lancastrian artist LS Lowry, and miner's son Robson Green will examine the story of the Pitmen Painters - a group of miners in Ashington who taught themselves to paint and saw their work exhibited around the world. Their true story inspired the play The Pitmen Painters, by Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall.

And, speaking of people from the North East - see, yer actual Keith Telly Topping doesn't just throw these things together, you know! - Cheryl Cole has reportedly been offered 'a large pay rise' to appear on this year's UK X Factor. The Sun - who, of course, are never wrong about anything, just ask Paul Whitehouse - reports that the singer, who is currently awaiting a decision on whether she will join The X Factor US's judging panel, would become the highest-earning woman on British television. Which, frankly, is sodding shameful and if ITV don't realise that then they, collectively, need a damned good hiding. A 'source' allegedly told the tabloid: 'Cheryl is being tempted with a bigger salary and if she takes it then it won't look like she's failed in the US. ITV are in turmoil about the UK version as everything is still up in the air. They know by keeping Cheryl half of their problems will be solved. She's still the biggest advertising draw. But, of course, if she does get the US job she'll take it like a shot.' Simon Cowell has reportedly worked out an agreement with ITV bosses that will see him appear on both the British and US versions of The X Factor this autumn.

One of last year's X Factor failures, Mary Byrne has admitted that she would 'love' to appear on Coronation Street. And so would lots of other people, Mary. Most of them - like you - will never get the chance either.

The BBC Trust has announced plans to review the BBC News and BBC Parliament channels, along with Radio 5Live to judge their impact and value for money. Under its 2011-12 workplan, the BBC's governing body will review the licences for all three services, following recent similar reviews of Radios 3, 4 and 7. The BBC News Channel, BBC Parliament and 5Live will be judged on their distinctiveness and budgetary control, including a full public consultation to gain licence fee payer feedback. The Trust also intends to review Asian Network, the digital radio station which recently escaped the axe under BBC plans, and the BBC's local radio services in England. Also under the 2011-12 workplan, the National Audit Office has been asked to review the BBC's progress against a five-year efficiency programme, as well as investigate management overheads at the BBC Executive.

The world's websites, newspapers and broadcasters have been trying to dupe their users with a host of dubious stories to mark April Fools' Day. Perhaps the most impressive effort was the one we mentioned yesterday from comedian Rob Brydon who presented the entire Ken Bruce Show on Radio 2 immitating the veteran broadcaster's voice. One of the more unlikely tales doing the rounds was that Ikea had launched a high chair for dog owners who didn't want their pets to miss out on family meals. The 'Hundstol dog highchair' is, claim reports, 'painted in pooch-friendly lead free paint and features in-built dog bowls for food and water.' The Independent carried a report that Portugal had 'sold' Cristiano Ronaldo to Spain for one hundred and sixty million Euros to relieve the country's crippling debt crisis. The Real Madrid winger had, reportedly, agreed to 'act like a patriot' and defect to the Spanish national team. The Sun claimed that gorillas at Port Lympne wild animal park had been given iPads to play with. The gorillas had, reportedly, quickly learned to turn the screens on and off, were fascinated by the colours and pictures and hadn't broken a single one. Mirra reporter Flora Olip - an anagram of April fool - revealed that the Government was to introduced a 'gasp' bill to raise taxes from fresh air. People in rural areas would have to pay more for their cleaner air but those in polluted cities would pay less. The Rex news agency carried a report on its home page saying that former Sex Pistol John Lydon was to perform at Prince William and Catherine Middleton's wedding reception. Anyone clicking on the link provide was greeted by a picture of the singer in his punk heyday and the words 'April Fool' splashed across it. The Daily Torygraph featured a fashion article about a new perfume smelling of wet dogs - Eau de Mutt - which had apparently become an unlikely bestseller online among pet owners who wanted a reminder of their dogs when away from home. And the Daily Express reported that a company had developed a modified Zimmer walking frame which incorporated a skateboard for pensioners who wanted something 'a little more speedy.' The MSN portal carried a story that Prince Harry was planning a twenty four-hour 'Twitathon' during his brother's wedding to Kate Middleton. The 'warts and all' expose would include the funniest one-liners from his best-man's speech. Yahoo, meanwhile, claimed that a Nessie-like creature had been spotted in Sydney Harbour. YouTube joined the fun by rolling the clock back one hundred years to 1911. All of the videos on its home page had been recreated in flickering black and white, with speech captions and tinkly piano music backing. 'By selecting 1911, you are travelling back in time to YouTube's earliest days, when videos were sent to us for upload via horse-drawn carriage,' said the popular video website. Google announced a new development for its Google Mail service. Gmail Motion would apparently dispense with the need for a keyboard by interpreting the user's body movements to work out what it was they wanted to say. And Kodak announced what sounded like a potentially useful app that would enable people to remove images of their ex-boyfriend or girlfriend from photographs. Called Relationshiffft, it 'helps you remove a person who is no longer in your life from your photos and videos all with one touch simplicity.' A report that staff at Bristol Zoo Gardens performed their work naked as part of a fictional experiment into the sensory sensitivity of gorillas was also an April Fool. Despite photographic evidence!

One story which should, perhaps, have been an Arpil Fool but, tragically, wasn't as it appeared on 31 March. 'Salt shakers are being removed from fish and chip shops in a nanny state ruling on what we can eat,' bellowed Thursday's Daily Express. It continued: 'The petty diktat is supposed to be part of a healthy living drive to lower salt consumption which has been linked to high blood pressure.' Love the use of the word 'diktat' there. It's very Stalinist. Which, as it turns out, is apt. They then drag in a few 'outraged quotes' from various interested parties including the usual rent-a-quote suspects at the Taxpayers Alliance. Although what the hell any of this has to do with them is another matter entirely. But, hang on. Does that mean that every single fish and chip shop across the nation has been ordered to do this? No, two paragraphs on we discover it is actually an initiative by Stockport council. So, does it mean that all shops in Stockport are banned from placing salt shakers on their counters and tables? No, but you have to read between the lines because it transpires that it is a voluntary scheme called out of sight, out of mind. And five Stockport food shops have signed up for it. That's five. Yet an Express editorial, headlined A chip on their shoulders, says: 'For Stockport council to force food outlets to withdraw salt from view is daft,' adding: 'Any council official turning up at a fish and chip shop to check the ban is being enforced rigorously may run the risk of getting battered.' But, of course, no officials will be turning up - because it isn't a ban as the Express falsly claims. There is no 'diktat,' there has been no 'force.' In fact, it is not even a Stockport council decision. It is part of a Greater Manchester campaign, known as ASK, which is aimed at cutting excessive salt consumption, which is linked to high blood pressure, stomach cancer and asthma. How do we know that too much is bad for us? Well, as the Tabloid Watch website points out, an Express health feature just nine days ago explained fully the dangers of salt in an article headlined Ditch the salt and protect your heart. The Daily Scum Mail, as you might expect dear blog reader, also presents the story entirely medaciously under the grossly misleading headline Town that's banned salt: Shakers taken off chip-shop counters and put out of site. Leaving the spelling mistake in the headline to one side for a second (subsequently amended, I note) the article's opening paragraphs are both sneeringly sarcastic and wholly inaccurate: 'It began with the food police reducing the number of holes in salt shakers. Now they have gone a step further and removed the shakers altogether to hide them from view. Fish-and-chip shops, cafes, restaurants, takeaways and curry houses will take salt containers off their counters and table tops under the latest push by a council to cut its residents' salt consumption.' The article goes on to point out that it is a voluntary scheme, but it is clear that the Scum Mail and the lice who write for it disapproves of the initiative. Why report it in such negative terms, you may wonder? Have the Scum Mail executives forgotten what their own staff writer Sophie Borland wrote last November: Cutting salt from your diet 'would prevent one fifth of heart disease deaths'. 'British people don't like being ordered around. If you actually want people to use more salt, then tell them not to' is one of the Scum Mail's subheadings and that may be true. Clearly that's the position of one 'Junican of Bolton' who tells his fellow Scum Mail readers 'THERE IS NO PROOF WHATSOEVER THAT SALT IS HARMFUL, OTHER THAN IN HUGE QUANTITIES, FOR THE VAST, VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE.' And, that must be true because he or she wrote it in capital letters. Seems conclusive enough to this blogger. But, this is all really window dressing besides the real questions here; has this affected house prices in Stockport? What would Princess Diana our Queen of Hearts say about all this? And are any of the fish and chip vendors asylum seekers? Are left-leaning Communists at the BBC behind all of this sick filth? Let's get to the real story.

Scientists say that strange ripples observed in the ring systems of Saturn and Jupiter were caused by comets. The ripples, which the researchers say resemble the undulations of corrugated metal, were detected in both Saturn's rings and in Jupiter's lesser-known rings. The ripples in Jupiter's rings are believed to have been caused by the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which struck the planet in 1994. Details are published in two separate papers in the journal Science. The researchers analysed images of Jupiter's rings taken from the Galileo spacecraft in 1996 and 2000 and by the New Horizons probe in 2007. They also looked at images of Saturn's rings taken by the Cassini spacecraft during 2009. What they found were undulations that the researchers liken to a corrugated tin roof, which when lit from a low angle, appear as alternating dark and light bands. This corrugation was found across Saturn's entire C ring, stretching for thousands of kilometres. It appeared to be part of a similar pattern observed previously in the fainter D ring. At least two separate spirals were meanwhile detected in Jupiter's rings. The researchers believe they were caused by debris, most likely from a comet, striking the rings, and tilting them. 'The material passes through the ring and basically causes the entire ring to be slightly tilted with respect to the planet's equatorial plane, and then it shears out to form this spiral pattern,' said Dr Matthew Hedman of Cornell University in New York. Over time, the spiral becomes more tightly wound, and it may be decades before the rings flatten out again, say the researchers. The team was then able to rewind the process using mathematical models to give an estimated date of the impact event. For Saturn, they arrived at a point in 1983, but have not yet found a possible candidate comet. With Jupiter, they detected at least two spirals and so possibly two impact events. When they wound back the process for one of the spirals, they reached a point in 1994, the same year of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact. Dr Mark Showalter of California's SETI Institute remembers the moment he and Dr Hedman realised the significance of the date. 'Matt and I were talking, saying now wait a second doesn't that date sound a little bit familiar and honestly we had to run off to Wikipedia to ask "When did Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter?" and there was the eureka moment when we realised we had a smoking gun,' he told the BBC. The second spiral led them to an estimated impact event in 1990, which the scientists hypothesise may have been caused by debris from a previous close encounter with Shoemaker-Levy 9. Images taken by the New Horizons spacecraft also suggested further impacts may have occurred across Jupiter's rings in September 2001 and December 2003, but additional detections will be needed to confirm these results. Dr Showalter said ripples like those studied in the new papers could provide clues to the frequency of such events in the outer Solar System. 'Rings are comet catchers,' he says. 'We probably already realised that comets hit rings periodically but we never realised before that every comet puts its own signature into the rings when it comes by and that that history gets recorded into these spiral patterns. Decades later, you can actually look at the same ring, find these ripple patterns, and each of them then tells you something about what hit the ring and when it did so.' Commenting on the work, Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, a comet researcher at Queen's University Belfast, said: 'The papers show exactly what you can do when you have these beautifully functioning spacecraft observing the outer planets close up.' He said the gravitational forces of the giant planets were enough to tear apart fragile comets, creating fields of debris that could cause the effects seen in the ring systems. Asteroids too could be torn apart by what are called tidal forces, he said, but this was more likely to be seen in the case of Jupiter, close to the Asteroid Belt. He said the work would give researchers the ability to 'directly calculate how often objects do hit the giant planets, which we've been struggling to pin down.'

Armed police swooped on a Manchester factory after reports of gunshots - only to find workers in the middle of a game of cricket. Firearms officers supported by a helicopter swooped on the Power Star plant, in Cheadle, after reports that a gun had been fired five times. But when the shocked suspects emerged they were armed with nothing more than a cricket bat and a ball, reports the Manchester Evening News. It is believed that a passer-by mistook the sound of the ball hitting a metal shutter for gunshots. Workers at the sports equipment factory had been watching England play in the cricket World Cup and decided to recreate the match after finishing work. Worker Mohammed Ijaz, twenty five, said: 'We were just messing around and could hear shouting saying "Come out! Come out!" At first we carried on as we didn't realise it was to do with us. But when we realised it was, we headed outside and as soon as we opened the door we could see lots of armed police. It was a bit of a shock but they were just doing their job.' Police say the report of gunshots at the factory was made by a passer-by in good faith. Chief Superintendent Rebekah Sutcliffe said: 'All reports of gunshots are taken very seriously and because of the potential threat to people's lives we have to take swift and appropriate action to deal with these very serious risks.'

A statue of the late Michael Jackson has been unveiled outside the ground of Fulham Football Club. A six-foot high golden statue of the singer, who died in 2009, will become a permanent fixture outside the Craven Cottage stadium, causing unrest among fans of the club, as well as fans of the singer. Mohamed Al Fayed - the chairman of Fulham and a close personal friend of Jackson - had originally planned to erect the statue outside Harrods, before selling the store to the Qatari royal family for £1.5bn. Al Fayed told the club's website: 'Michael Jackson was truly a legend, a term used too often in this modern world. I hope that Fulham fans will appreciate seeing the finest performer in the world in and among them.' Hundreds of fans have signed a petition in protest against the statue that honours 'a controversial American pop star, who has no links to Fulham Football Club causing heated debate and much unrest.' Fulham supporter Lee Robinson told the Gruniad: 'Why us? Fulham football fans do not want a statue of Michael Jackson. It's completely mad. He's got nothing to do with us. To be honest, he's the last person you'd want there.' David Lloyd, editor of club fanzine There's Only One F in Fulham said: 'If I was asked did I want it? I would say no. But we've got a chairman who has done so much for us if he wants a Michael Jackson statue, so be it. What we don't want is the ridicule that will come with it.' Meanwhile, a group calling themselves The United Michael Jackson Fans of the World - so, that'll be about six of them, then - have also started a petition to move the statue, saying: 'As has been clearly demonstrated by the awful comments on the club's website, FFC is no place for Michael to reside and certainly no safe place for Michael Jackson fans to visit him.' Michael Jackson visited Fulham to watch a home game against Wigan Athletic in 1999 as Al Fayed's guest. And, by all accounts, he gave a quite stunning rendition of 'Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough' (trad. arr. The Hard Lads) to the Wigan crew at half-time.

A mother-of-five from Florida has revealed an addiction to eating sofas. Adele Edwards is believed to suffer from pica, a condition where patients feel compelled to eat largely non-nutritive substances, the Sun reports. Edwards said: 'I was ten years old when I was first introduced to cushion. At first, I thought it was strange but, after sucking it for a while, I came to like the texture. I started chewing cushion regularly and would swallow whole chunks as though it was candy floss. It sounds strange but, to me, foam tasted like sweets.' Probably far better for your teeth too. She added to Discovery Home & Health show My Strange Addiction: 'I'm scared. I've never eaten cushion in front of my kids - I don't want them to copy me. They don't know what I'm doing to my body but I'm terrified that one day they'll have to tell people, "Mummy died from eating too many sofas."' Does anybody reckon she buys the sofas at Habitat? Oh, suit yerselves. Edwards, who has consumed an estimated eight sofas and five chairs, also eats elastic bands, other rubber items and recently required an emergency procedure to remove foam from her intestines.

Now, it's Keith Telly Topping's (occasional) 33 of the Day today, I'm afraid. I could've gone for the easy option off the toweringly magnfiicent When I Was Born For The Seventh Time but, you've all heard 'Brimful of Asha' to the point of irritation, I'm sure. (Though it's still a great song, especially the original Non-Fatboy'd version!) So, instead, I've gone for 'We're in Yr Corner' - which is so much better! Play that funky sardo, kidda. Hanji! 'IBM and Coca Cola, muthafugga!'