Monday, May 02, 2011

You Know I'm Always Here If You Should Need Me

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping is, thoroughly indebted to his good friend Tony Jordan for pointing him in the direction of this quite remarkable and clear evidence of alien interference in human history.
Bloody Time Lords. They get invited to all the poshest gigs.

David Hasselhoff is 'set to be ditched as a Britain's Got Talent judge at the end of the current series,' according to a report in the Scum Mail on Sunday. The Knight Rider and Baywatch actor and stand-up Michael McIntyre were brought in to replace Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan on the panel for the new season of the ITV talent contest. BGT's ratings have since dropped - although not 'dramatically' as the newspaper suggests - with 'fans seemingly not keen on the new line-up.' Although, again, the Scum Mail produce no evidence that they've, you know, asked all of them. According to the Scum Mail on Sunday, The Hoff is likely to 'pay the price' for the 'disappointing' viewing figures at the end of the series. Cowell is apparently keen to replace the American with X Factor stalwart Louis Walsh, who sat in for Hasselhoff during the London auditions, which were broadcast over the weekend. They claim that Walsh was Cowell's first choice for the current series of BGT, but that ITV's head of programming Peter Fincham over ruled him. A 'source' allegedly told the newspaper that Fincham thought The X Factor and BGT should become separate brands after Cowell's departure and vetoed Walsh's appointment, but revealed the situation has now changed. 'With falling ratings, discussions have taken place at a senior level and the view is that Hasselhoff won't return next year,' the alleged 'insider' allegedly added.

Meanwhile, on a related theme Alesha Dixon is reportedly 'in talks' to join The X Factor. The singer, who currently judges on rival show Strictly Come Dancing, has - allegedly - met with ITV bosses to discuss joining the judging panel. It is thought that Dixon would replace Cheryl Cole, who is widely expected to be a judge on the US version of X Factor when it launches this autumn. Producers have apparently struggled to 'find someone to match Cole's star quality.' 'Cheryl leaves a massive void on the panel and there's a serious hunt going on right now,' a 'source' told the News of the World. 'They're worried that without Simon on the panel either they need to find someone with a strong voice and personality who can blossom into a star. The obvious advantage of Alesha is that she's young, sexy and confident and already has experience on a judging panel. But that's also a downside because they like the idea of finding someone fresh. Nothing has been decided yet but it's close to panic stations because auditions are starting soon.' Meanwhile, Gary Barlow is said to be in 'advanced talks' to replace Simon Cowell, who will no longer appear as a weekly judge as he concentrates on the show's US launch. 'Gary and Alesha get on brilliantly and they could really be a winning combo,' the 'source' allegedly added.

Former snooker commentator Ted Lowe has died at the age of ninety. Lowe, born in Berkshire, became a household name through the hit television show Pot Black which started in 1969 and retired after the 1996 snooker world final. He died on the morning of the first session of the 2011 Snooker World Championship final in Sheffield. Lowe's unmistakable hushed tones earned him the popular nickname 'Whispering Ted' and he was the BBC's lead snooker commentator on many occasions. His wife of twenty one years, Jean, said: 'His health had been deteriorating for the last ten weeks. He went into a hospice a week ago and I never left his side. But I could see he was slowly going. He still loves snooker and was watching it on TV.' John Virgo, the former player before becoming a co-commentator alongside Lowe, said: 'He set a standard for us all. He was wonderful, he had an impish sense of humour and while cricket had its John Arlott and Wimbledon had its Dan Maskell, we had Ted Lowe. He was one of the BBC greats. It's a sad day for snooker and he'll be sadly missed.' Dennis Taylor's winning performance in the remarkable 1985 final was, inevitably, commentated on by Lowe, who called him 'the thirty six-year-old smiling Irishman' at the time. Taylor, who has since also turned to commentating, said on Sunday: 'I first worked with Ted around thirty years ago. He welcomed me to the box and gave me such good advice. He was a great one to travel with. I remember many trips we took to Australia in the 1970s for the old Pot Black tournaments. We went by jumbo jet, and they hadn't existed for very long at that time. We used to get to go upstairs into the lounge, which was the business-class area, because of Ted, and the pilots would always want to speak to him and hear his commentary voice. To hear his voice and have him commentating on the 1985 final makes it special. One thing I remember is him taking a long time over signing autographs too, he was so precise about that. No praise is high enough, I had such great times with him, and I couldn't have learnt from anyone better.' Multiple world champion Stephen Hendry, once described by Lowe as the 'wonder bairn of Scotland,' told BBC Sport: 'I remember playing Junior Pot Black, I was only twelve and he was a complete gentleman. Me and my father were down there and he was so nice to us.' On Twitter, Jimmy White said: 'Still in shock and so saddened. He was a great friend of my dad's and an absolute gentleman. I loved him dearly.' Born in Lambourn, Lowe came from a background steeped in horse racing. Speaking to BBC Berkshire in 2007, he said: 'My father was an apprentice before joining [trainer] Ossis Bell as travelling head lad. I well remember Felstead winning the Derby and my Father leading him home into the village from Epsom. My mother's side of the family were all publicans which gave me a lovely mixture between horses and pubs. To their wisdom and my good fortune I was sent to some relations in south London who had a delightful pub with a full-size snooker table. Up until then, I had been playing billiards at my uncle and aunt's pub in Lambourn, the Lamb. I was terribly lucky. Being fairly proficient at the game, I got into a snooker club and I cheekily wrote to the great Joe Davis asking him to open the club. Behind my back, some people told him that I was a good young player so he challenged me to a game. I beat him with a four-black start and made the local news! Because of that I was invited to become general manger of the Leicester Square Hall, the home of professional billiards and snooker. It was there that I started broadcasting in the 1940s.' He got his big break when regular BBC broadcaster Raymond Glendenning reported for work feeling the worse for wear, meaning the reins were handed over to Lowe. He recalled in a BBC Berkshire interview: 'I was scared to death commentating on Joe Davis, who was a God to me. Of course, sitting in the crowd I was terrified they would hear what I had to say, so I started whispering. The producer loved it.'

And, in further sad news, another sporting giant has been taken from us. The boxer Sir Henry Cooper has died at the age of seventy six. The English, Commonwealth and European heavyweight champion died at his son's home in Oxted, Surrey on Sunday. Cooper, a two-time winner of BBC Sports Personality of the Year, is widely regarded as one of the greatest British boxers of all time, and recorded forty wins from fifty five professional bouts before retiring in 1971. Ironically, although he won most of his fights he's probably best remembered for one in which he lost - albeit in controversial circumstances. Cooper's trademark left hook - Henry's 'ammer - once knocked down Muhammad Ali during one of their two high-profile fights in the 1960s. Despite never winning a world championship, Cooper had his sporting achievements recognised in 2000 with a knighthood. Familiar to millions as 'Our 'Enery', the heavyweight was one of the greatest post-war British boxers and became a household name, aided by a second career in television which cast him in the role of a man of the people. He advertised various commercial products - including, most memorably, the pong of Brut aftershave with the slogan 'splash it all over.' He also featured in announcements to boost the uptake of the 'flu vaccine and was a popular captain on the BBC television sports quiz A Question of Sport for several years. However, he will always be acclaimed for flooring a young Muhammad Ali - then still known as Cassius Clay - in a fight in 1963 which many commentators believed he should have won. Tributes were last night being paid to a man described as 'a national treasure,' with some friends blaming his death on a broken heart after his wife Albina died in 2008. She was a former waitress at his favourite Italian restaurant, before he converted to Catholicism for love, and they married and had two sons. Sir Michael Parkinson, a friend for many years, said: 'He was the best kind of athlete, the best kind of boxer, he wasn’t boastful, he was genuinely modest and a gentleman. I think of him in the same way as I do Bobby Charlton - the two of them represent something which I think has gone out of sport rather, that kind of hero.' Sports stars quickly paid their respects, including many of the most famous names in boxing. David Haye, the current WBA world champion, wrote on Twitter: 'A true warrior and great human being.' Barry McGuigan, the former world featherweight champion, said: 'He had a terrific life after boxing, always bubbly, always encouraging, full of grace. Just a beautiful man.' Colin Hart, a sports journalist and friend of Sir Henry, said: 'He was as modest and unassuming throughout his boxing career which lasted seventeen years and then all the years, the forty years of his retirement, he was as popular today as he was when he retired. I’m not shocked he died, sadly, because I saw him deteriorate over the years as he got quite ill. He wasn’t the same after the death of his wife. He died of a broken heart.' He said that Ali and Cooper had enjoyed 'a tremendous rapport' which lasted nearly fifty years, adding: 'I am sure that Muhammad will be shedding a tear tonight when he learns the news back home in the States.' Sir Henry achieved numerous firsts inside and outside the boxing ring. He remains the only man ever to win three Lonsdale belts outright; he was the first person to win the Sports Personality of the Year award twice - in 1967 and 1970 - and, in 2000, he became the only boxer so far to have been knighted. Henry’s fighting prowess was built on a powerful left hook, which was all the more effective as he was left-handed but boxed with the orthodox right-hander's stance. Analysts calculated his hook's maximum force at four and a half tons and when they tried to film the swing, it was said to be forty times too fast for the eye to see. A vivid demonstration of its power was shown in a European title fight against the Italian Pietro Tornasoni in 1968, in which the challenger was seen off with a shot that lifted his feet from the canvas. However, he also had weaknesses which probably impaired his success: he bled easily and was much lighter than the new generation of heavyweights - such as Ali - who could be up to two stones heavier. In the final seconds of the fourth round of the 1963 fight against Ali, Cooper knocked his opponent down, leaving him visibly shaken. Ali later said that Cooper had hit him so hard that he could have sworn his 'ancestors back in Africa must have felt it.' Ali's corner man, Angelo Dundee, then controversially made a small split in one of Ali's gloves which allowed him time to recover and go on to win the fight against a by-now heavily bleeding Cooper in the sixth. Responding to the news of Cooper's death, Ali said that he was 'at a loss for words' over the death of his friend. 'Henry always had a smile for me; a warm and embracing smile,' he added. 'It was always a pleasure being in Henry's company. I will miss my old friend. He was a great fighter and a gentleman.' The boxer was said to be a particular favourite of the Royal Family. He was appointed OBE in 1969 and was awarded a papal knighthood in 1978 for his charity work. Cooper stood for courage, for commitment, for decency and modesty. He was appeared to be the very model of generosity and approachability. He never, in short, got above himself and he always came across as 'a good bloke.' And there was a reason for that. He was a good bloke. Britain always instinctively seemed to understand it, in the way they did with other sports stars of that era. He was one of us. Which is why long after his retirement and while messing around with Kevin Keegan in TV adverts for 'the great smell of Brut,' he could still retain all of the popularity that he did during his fight career. He was, as Ian Chadband wrote in the Torygraph, 'a proper working class hero, a child of the second world war who, after growing up with his identical twin brother George in London, emerged to offer dreams, with that glorious 'ammer in his left glove which made a nation fancy that a Briton really might one day again lift the world heavyweight title, then the single biggest prize in sport normally squabbled over by Americans.' Cooper was born in Westminster. He and his twin brother, George (who died in 2010), grew up in a council house on the Bellingham Estate on Farmstead Road, South East London, although during the Second World War they were evacuated to Lancing on the Sussex coast. During the early 1990s, Cooper reminisced, movingly, about his life as an evacuee in the BBC Radio 2 documentary Nobody Cried When The Trains Pulled Out. Around 1942, their father, Henry Senior, was called up to serve in the war; the rest of the family did not see him again for almost three years. The twins attended Athelney Road School in Lewisham. The Cooper brothers were particularly close growing up and, in his biography, Henry talks of how they came to each other's aid when things turned nasty in the school playground. Henry took up many jobs, including a paper round before school and made money out of recycling golf balls to the clubhouse on the Beckenham course. All three of the Cooper brothers excelled in sport, with George and Henry exercising talents particularly in football and cricket. At the age of seventeen, he won the first of two ABA light-heavyweight titles and before serving in the Army for his two years' National Service represented Britain in the 1952 Olympics (outpointed in the second stage by the Russian Anatoli Petrov). Henry and George (who boxed under the name Jim Cooper) turned professional together under the management of Jim Wicks, who was one of boxing's great characters and nicknamed 'The Bishop' because of his benign nature. He would never allow one of his boxers into the ring if he felt he was over-matched. He famously said when promoters were trying to match Henry with Sonny Liston: 'I would not allow 'Enery into the same room as him, let alone the same ring.' After a second loss to Ali in 1966, Cooper fought former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, losing by a fourth round knockout. After that he went undefeated until the final fight of his career, and made more defences of his British and Commonwealth titles against Jack Bodell and Billy Walker. In 1968 Cooper added the European crown to his domestic titles with a win over Karl Mildenberger, and later made two successful defences of his title. In his final fight, in 1971, he faced the emerging British heavyweight Joe Bugner for the British, European and Commonwealth belts. Fight referee Harry Gibbs controversially awarded the fight to Bugner by the narrowest of margins: a quarter of a point. Many felt that defeating the popular Cooper was one reason why British fans never really took to Bugner thereafter. The decision was booed by the audience, which was mainly composed of Cooper's fans. Commentator Harry Carpenter asked, 'How can they take away the man's titles like this?' Cooper announced his retirement shortly afterwards. For a long time after the fight, Cooper refused to speak to Gibbs. 'I didn't speak to him for years after the fight,' he noted. 'I don't usually hold grudges, but I knew certain things went on before the fight that I don't want to speak about and for those reasons I didn't speak to him until about six months before he died.' Sir Henry is survived by his two sons Henry Marco and John Pietro.

Andrew Marr must have longed, if not for a gagging order, at least for an actual gag, as guests on his own television show tormented him over the superinjunction whose existence he publicly admitted last week. 'It's a great week to hide an injunction story, say one wanted to,' mused the actress Maureen Lipman, one of the guests invited to review the Sunday papers on the BBC1 morning show, as she surveyed the acreage of royal wedding coverage crowding out almost all other topics. 'You cheeky woman. Yes, this is true,' Marr responded through gritted teeth. It was his first show he had presented since he revealed the existence of the injunction, which barred any coverage of his affair with another journalist and the child he believed was his own, or of the existence of the injunction. Marr said he had become 'uneasy' as a journalist at having obtained it. Chris Bryant, former Labour Europe minister, told the Observer that the controversy would 'hobble' Marr's capacity as a journalist, as politicians and other interviewees could use it as an excuse to evade any probing questions. Bryant said: 'People will certainly look askance at him. He is not going to be able to ask the personal questions without people, including politicians, sticking their tongues out at him and saying "superinjunction" and refusing to answer.' In the event Marr seemed more acutely embarrassed than hobbled, per se, as he returned to the screen five days after admitting that he had taken out the superinjunction. Another of his guests, the historian Simon Schama, discussed with Lipman the profile in The Sunday Times headed 'Old Jug Ears, daddy of the super-secret.' Marr conceded that 'the superinjunction issue is not going to go away.' But he also described The Sunday Times profile as 'a slightly disobliging piece but the worrying thing is the picture is both rather unpleasant and also entirely accurate, so there we go.' Schama said that the issue of balancing the right to privacy against free speech was a big one: 'It's obviously going to be something, presumably, parliament has got to consider.' Marr agreed: 'MPs are going to have to look at this.'

The footballer at the centre of the Imogen Thomas super-injunction scandal has reportedly 'confessed all' to his wife. The Premier League player, who (still) cannot be named because of the court gagging order, is said to have 'told his wife of the affair after she became suspicious.' According to the Sunday Mirra, she has agreed to stay with him for the sake of their family. 'For the past two weeks the player's wife has been wondering if it is her husband being referred to in all the newspapers as the footballer who had an affair,' a 'source' allegedly snitched. 'She has been fearing the worst. But she needed to hear it for herself so confronted him, demanding to know the truth. She asked him straight out if he had been cheating and he admitted he had. The ­infidelity has left her ­devastated. But she's determined to try to make the marriage work and keep her family together,' concluded the dirty stinking Copper's Nark. Who, presumably, was well-paid for his or her disloyalty? Perhaps we'll never care.

Donald Trump has pulled out of an upcoming appearance on The Late Show after host David Letterman condemned his recent attacks on Barack Obama. The Celebrity Apprentice presenter and multi billionaire has in the past few months called the president's US citizenship into question, accused Obama of sending the country 'to hell' and spoken of his desire to run for office in 2012. Addressing the controversial comments on last Thursday's Late Show, Letterman seemingly agreed with suggestions that Trump's suspicions may be racially motivated, and questioned whether he would invite the media mogul back as a guest. In a subsequent letter addressed to the sixty four-year-old and obtained by The New York Post, Trump writes: 'I was disappointed to hear the statements you made about me last night on your show that I was a "racist." In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth and there is nobody who is less of a racist than Donald Trump.' Ooo, there you go. Talking about yourself in the third person, that's the first sign of dodginess. yer actual Keith Telly Topping has always said so, dear blog reader. 'Based upon your statements, and despite the fact that we have always done so well together, especially in your ratings, I am cancelling my 18 May appearance on your show.' All of this comes just a couple of days after President Obama effectively made Trump his bitch using his speech to the White House Correspondence Dinner to mock Trump's recent pronouncements. Before the dinner Trump had told ABC News that he didn't think the President would address him in his remarks. As Politics USA notes, 'Obama not only addressed Trump, but he also gave him a taste of big time politics.'

The British Psychological Society is unveiling research which suggests that swearing could be 'good for your health.' At the Society's annual conference in Glasgow next month, they will present information which claims that cursing can aid in pain relief - if used sparingly. Keele University's School of Psychology conducted the research in question, and found that a group of people who swore rarely were able to withstand pain for forty five seconds longer while swearing than when they weren't allowed to swear. Mind you, once the pain kicked in, they all swore like buggery. 'Swearing provokes an emotional flight-or-flight response in the face of stress,' lead researcher Dr Richard Stephens told the Scotsman. 'This study shows that if people want to benefit from swearing they should save it up for when it really matters, when they are in genuine pain.' Despite the results of the research, Stephens claims that advocating the use of swearing in pain management could cause more problems than it is worth for the health industry.

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day comes form, fittingly, The Tubes. (No, it's not 'White Punks On Dope', I'm saving that one for a special occasion.) Here's 'Prime Time'.

Is that an ice lolly yer man Fee Waybill's holding there? I think it might be. Mine's a choc-ice, Fee.