Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Disappointed, Once More. Disillusioned, Encore.

Fresh evidence has emerged of other voice messages allegedly hacked from the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's by the Scum of the World. A report suggested that the former disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid newspaper had details of more voicemails left on her mobile phone than originally thought. The Wall Street Journal said it had obtained earlier print editions of the newspaper from 2002, which made reference to more messages on the missing teenager's phone. The paper states that it undertook a review of the News International-owned newspaper and found that early versions on one day contained detailed quotes from three voicemails. In the final edition, the article only contained one passing reference to a single voicemail. On 14 April 2002, the Scum of the World published a story in its final edition about a woman allegedly pretending to be Milly who had applied for a job with a recruitment agency. It suggested that the hoaxer had given the agency Milly's real mobile number, which it used to contact her when a vacancy arose, leaving a message on her voicemail six days after she went missing. The newspaper later informed the police about the voicemail that it is alleged to have intercepted. However, the Wall Street Journal has now said that it has obtained earlier editions of the newspaper from the same day, which include an article that makes reference to two further messages left on the phone. The first version, which ran in the early England and Scotland editions, stated that a strange and unexplained voicemail had been left on the mobile phone by a man on 28 March at 7.48am who said 'Mortlake in Putney by Tangies,' before signing off with 'Piggo baby.' According to the Journal, the article also cited the time and date of a third voicemail, which was left by a mystery caller and was described as being 'another brief cryptic message.' The final edition of the paper changed dramatically, however, and the story and headline focused on the possibility that a hoaxer had been posing as Milly Dowler, hampering the police investigation. The later article only made a brief reference to the voicemail relating to the employment opportunity. Milly, thirteen, disappeared on her way home from school in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, on 21 March 2002. Her body was found by mushroom pickers in a wood six months later in a forest twenty five miles away. In June this year, Levi Bellfield, a former nightclub bouncer who had two previous murder convictions, was found guilty of her murder. Bellfield was sentenced to life in prison. At the time of the schoolgirl's disappearance, he was living close to where she had last been seen but he had escaped police notice for years. The Gruniad revealed last month that the Scum of the World allegedly hacked into the missing girl's phone and deleted messages, which gave her family the false hope that she was still alive and accessing her voicemail. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Dowler family lawyer, Mark Lewis, said on Friday of last week that the family were 'in talks' with News International, which were aimed at avoiding litigation over the phone hacking issue. A spokeswoman for News International declined to comment on specific talks with the family, but said that the company was looking to 'settle' with phone-hacking victims as swiftly as possible.

Former Scum of the World editor Andy Coulson was reportedly paid by the paper's parent company whilst he was working as the Tories' spokesman, the BBC has learned. News International paid the Conservatives' former communications director a severance package worth several hundred thousand dollars. Coulson, who has been arrested on suspicion of phone hacking, also had continued access to healthcare. Labour said David Cameron faced 'serious questions' over the claims. BBC business editor Robert Peston said that the instalments received by Coulson totalled 'the full entitlement under his two-year contract' as editor of the now closed, disgraced and disgraceful tabloid. The BBC claimed that the severance package also allowed him to keep his company car. Coulson was hired by the then opposition Conservative party in July 2007 for a reported salary of two hundred and seventy five thousand smackers. He had quit as the Scum of the World editor six months earlier when its royal editor Clive Goodman and the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for hacking into the voicemails of Buckingham Palace staff. Coulson resigned from his government post in January, saying that pressure over the phone hacking scandal was distracting him from his role. Then last month he was arrested on suspicion of corruption and phone hacking and released on police bail until October. Labour MP Tom Watson told the BBC that he would write to the Electoral Commission to see whether the News International payments complied with British laws. 'Given that Andy Coulson resigned in disgrace from the News of the World over the phone-hacking scandal, he took responsibility for what happened on his watch - his words, not mine - it seems remarkable that News International would feel obliged to give him any payments at all,' he said. 'And, if those payments were discretionary then I think in law they would count as a hidden donation.' A Labour spokesman said: 'David Cameron now faces allegations that one of his top advisers was also in the pay of News International. The prime minister needs to immediately make clear whether these allegations are true. There are serious questions to answer about Mr Coulson's employment in Downing Street and the country should not have to wait for full transparency.' A Conservative party spokeswoman said that senior party officials had no knowledge of Coulson's severance arrangements. A News International spokesman said: 'News International consistently does not comment on the financial arrangements of any individual.' The BBC political correspondent Robin Brandt said that there was 'some scepticism' about the timing of the story on the day the world was so focused on events in Libya. He added that 'some critics' argued it had 'raised further questions' about Cameron's judgement were suggesting the information may have been conveniently 'leaked out.' According to the Gruniad Morning Star, the Conservative party is 'struggling to defend itself against the disclosure that Andy Coulson, its former head of communications, received six-figure payments from News International while working for the party, despite having previously stated categorically that he had no other income.' The party, they state, 'has been asked repeatedly about Coulson's income, insisting that he was not paid by anyone else during his time at Conservative party HQ and in Downing Street. It offered comprehensive assurances that he had no other income as recently as last month, and apparently after seeking assurances directly from Coulson.' The revelation on Monday night that he received the severance payments in instalments in 2007, the first year he was employed by George Osborne and David Cameron, and also continued to use a company car and receive health insurance from News International until the beginning of 2010, raises the possibility, the Gruniad claim, 'that the payments could have been concealed from the party. But in a sign of the continued loyalty to Coulson at the top of the government, senior sources in the Conservative party stressed that the severance payments were different from receiving a salary or co-payment from News International. The party refused to answer detailed questions about what assurances Coulson gave about his earnings, whom he had given assurances to, and when.'

Elisabeth Murdoch has pulled out of speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival over fears that her talk would be dogged by questions about phone hacking at her father Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. She was thought to be close to signing up to give a speech at the annual convention about how she created the international TV production business, Shine Television. However, Elisabeth has reportedly shelved the idea after the phone hacking controversy dominated the news media following revelations that her father's defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World newspaper had hacked the mobile of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. It was felt that her talk would have been 'overshadowed' by questions about the phone hacking allegations, including concerns over how her brother James, chairman of Scum of the World publisher News International, has dealt with the crisis. Any effort to avoid discussing issues raised around the scandal may have run the risk of appearing as though she was ducking questions from media journalists in attendance, reports the Gruniad Morning Star. A spokesperson for Shine Television said: 'The organisers approached Elisabeth some time back with the idea of a session around How to Build a Global Production Company from the UK, which had been in discussion. This will now not go ahead at this year's festival but it is hoped can be revisited in subsequent ones.' Earlier this month, Elisabeth decided not to take a seat on the board of News Corporation, as had been planned following the four hundred and fifteen million smackers acquisition of Shine Television by the firm. In July, it was also reported that she had said informally at a book launch that her brother James and former News International chief executive well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks had 'fucked the company' during the scandal. However, she later told 'friends' that she, allegedly, could not recall saying those alleged words. Elisabeth is said to have earned around one hundred and twenty nine million quid from News Corp's purchase of Shine Television, producer of The Hour, MasterChef and [spooks].

A petition calling for Hillsborough disaster Cabinet papers to be released has reached one hundred thousand signatures - enough for a Commons debate to be considered. Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish and the Merseyside-born Newcastle United player Joey Barton, used Twitter to urge people to sign the Home Office website petition. It follows a ruling by Information Commissioner Christopher Graham that the papers should be published. E-petitions with one hundred thousand signatures must be considered for debate. Celebrities including former Liverpool player Michael Owen, musician Billy Bragg, actor Simon Pegg and comedian Dara O Briain added their names to the petition on the Home Office website. The Cabinet Office has said it will appeal against the information commissioner's publication decision - which followed a Freedom of Information request for the documents from the BBC. The office said it believed the Hillsborough Independent Panel, established under the Labour government, should oversee the disclosure of documents relating to the tragedy. Ninety-six Liverpool fans died in the disaster at the FA cup semi-final tie against Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium on 15 April, 1989. A Cabinet Office spokesman said: 'The e-petition has now reached one hundred thousand signatures and the government will notify the Backbench Business Committee in the House of Commons in order that the committee can consider its suitability for debate when Parliament returns in September. 'The e-petition will remain live, and people will be able to continue adding their signatures. The government will respond to those who have signed the e-petition in due course.' Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotherham has urged people to continue signing the petition. Margaret Aspinall, who chairs the Hillsborough Families' Support Group, said she thought it was 'absolutely amazing' that so many people had signed the petition prompting attention from the media and politicians. However, she said the independent panel and the families should see the documents before they were released to the general public. 'It has got to go through the right procedure,' she said. Aspinall said that she did not want snippets coming out but all documents, without redactions, handed over to the panel. She said that her eighteen-year-old son James had gone to a football game and returned home in a coffin five days later and she needed answers about what had happened to him. Doreen Jones, who also lost her son in the disaster, said the families still did not know if their loved ones could have been saved. 'For us there will never be complete closure. Our sons won't come home,' she said. 'The closure we want is for everything to be put in the public domain so we have peace.' But she also said she wanted the documents to be handed over to the panel, and then to the families before they were made public. Pundit and former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson, who played three hundred and thirty two games for the club before leaving a year before the disaster, said: 'Why can't the government just say "right, here are the facts, here are all the papers" and just let the people make their minds up? It may be there are lots of people to blame, maybe there are Liverpool supporters to blame. If there are they have to deal with the consequences. We just want to know the truth.' Professor Phil Scraton, a member of the independent panel, said it was determined to have full, unredacted disclosure of all documents from all relevant agencies in connection with the disaster. He said the government documents were only part of the huge remit of their inquiry. The panel is also looking at what happened before the disaster, circumstances on the day, the immediate aftermath, the 'appalling treatment of families in the aftermath' and subsequent investigations, he said. 'Nothing will be hidden. Everything will be disclosed. Everything will be put into the public domain,' he said. The families were the 'primary objective,' he said. 'They are the people who are bereaved.' Andy Burnham, former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport who called for full disclosure of the documents in 2009, said he felt the government had made a mistake in appealing against the information commissioner's ruling. 'The prime minister does need to intervene now and overrule that decision otherwise it will damage trust in the disclosure process,' he said. He agreed the panel had to control the process and give the information to the families ahead of the public but said the one hundred thousand people who had signed the petition had done 'a great thing.' He felt the issue had to be debated in the House of Commons as 'nobody can be in any doubt now on the mood of the country about the Hillsborough disaster.' Burnham added: '[The families] have suffered so much down the years. They now need the full truth. Nothing else will do. The government has to deliver that.'

Matt Smith has said that he thinks the concept for the first two episodes of Doctor Who's seventh series, which will begin shooting next year, is 'so brilliant.' The actor told reporters that while he has not yet seen scripts, showrunner Steven Moffat has given him an idea of what will happen in the Christmas special and at the start of the next series. Smith said: 'I know what [the episode is] about. It's a bit crappy because I can't tell you anything, but I went for dinner with Steven and he told me the first two episodes of next season and I nearly fell off my chair. Honestly, it's so brilliant, it's such a clever idea that I was like, "Well..." But we talked a lot about the special then. I love the Christmas special - it's one of my favourite ones to make. It's got a clever idea. I don't know where he gets it.' Smith praised the complexity of the series and described working for Moffat as 'a privilege,' saying: 'You read other scripts and I just go, "Not as good as Doctor Who!" You're plonked right at the heart of an adventure and you have such great adventures and it's done with wit and humour and brilliance, so for me it's a privilege to work for Steven and a huge privilege to be able to be this man. I don't think these parts come along that often.'

Meanwhile, The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) has denied that the show's episode count has been reduced. Moffat told The Daily Beast that rumours of cuts to the popular family SF drama are 'absolute nonsense. First of all, we are airing in 2012,' he insisted. 'The only thing that's happening is that we're moving a bit later [in the year]. There's lots of reasons for that which will become clear quite soon.' The writer added that Doctor Who has 'never been more successful' and now has a 'huge' international profile. 'It is certainly not a reduced episode count,' he reiterated. 'Do you think the BBC would really let that happen? With an average audience of ten million?' He continued: 'You're not going to reduce a show like this. The opposite is going to happen, in fact.' Moffat also promised that many of Doctor Who's lingering plot threads will be resolved by the end of the current series.

Top Twenty programmes week ending 14 August 2011:-
1 New Tricks - BBC1 Mon - 9.23 million
2 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 9.22 million
3 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 8.64 million
4 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Tues - 7.62 million
5 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 7.44 million
6 Who Do You Think You Are? - BBC1 Wed - 6.62 million
7 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 6.48 million
8 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 6.44 million
9 Ocean Giants - BBC1 Sun - 5.94 million
10 The National Lottery: In It To Win It - BBC1 Sat - 5.69 million
=11 DIY SOS: The Big Build - BBC1 Tues - 5.58 million
=11 Film: Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix - ITV Sat - 5.58 million
13 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 5.34 million
14 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.30 million
15 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Tues - 5.29 million
16 Torchwood - BBC1 Thurs - 5.17 million
17 Britain's Hidden Heritage - BBC1 Sun - 4.99 million
18 Law & Order: UK - ITV Sun - 4.86 million
19 John Bishop's Britain - BBC1 Sat - 4.55 million
20 Match Of The Day - BBC1 Sat - 4.54 million

The recently completed series of Law & Order: UK had an official series average of 5.36m. Here's how that compares to previous series:-
Series one (2009): 6.38m
Series two (2010): 6.30m
Series three (2010): 4.72m
Series four (2011): 4.76m (inc +1: 5.06m)
Series five (2011): 5.36m (inc +1: 5.64m)
Series three and four weren't broadcast in Scotland and are approximately eight per cent lower than what they would've been if those episodes had been fully networked.

Top Gear fans in Europe, the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand can rent episodes of the motoring show on Facebook from today under a new BBC service. Whilst Gruniad yoghurt-knitting hippie Communists and chest-beating Daily Scum Mail and Daily Torygraph bullyboy thugs in this country can only grind their teeth in fury. Which is good. BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, has developed a special video on-demand app for the social network to offer the most famous Top Gear episodes. The episodes will be available to rent on the Top Gear Facebook page for fifteen Facebook Credits each, equivalent to ninety three pence. Rentals will be available to view for forty eight hours. Launching this week with the Polar Special episode, the service will offer the show's US Road Trip from August 28 and the acclaimed Vietnam Special from 4 September. The Top Gear Facebook page has over 8.8 million fans, while a page for mysterious racing driver The Stig has over five million fans. Combined, the pages make Top Gear the twenty fifth largest TV show on Facebook, and the biggest British programme on the social network. Top Gear managing director Adam Waddell said: 'Top Gear has amassed a huge following on Facebook with almost fourteen million friends following the brand itself and The Stig. We're always looking at ways of adding value for the core fans of the show so it's entirely appropriate that we should be one of the first TV shows to make its premium content available via Facebook.' Last month, Worldwide started renting digitally remastered episodes of classic Doctor Who on Facebook, including a selection of nine stories from the history of the Time Lord. The success of Top Gear, Doctor Who and other BBC brands helped Worldwide generate revenue of £1.16bn in the twelve months to 31 March 2011, delivering record underlying profits of one hundred and sixty million smackers.

Hawaii Five-0's executive producer has revealed that the second season will include a special Halloween episode. Peter Lenkov told TV Guide that the seventh episode of the CBS drama's new run will feature creepy cemeteries and sites of human sacrifices. 'We air on Halloween this year, so we're doing an episode infused with ghost stories,' he said. Lenkov also explained that McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) and Danny (Scott Caan) will clash over their differing beliefs in the occult. 'McGarrett's a believer, but Danny's going to be skeptical,' he said. It was recently announced that an upcoming episode of Hawaii Five-0 will feature a crossover with fellow CBS series NCIS: LA.

Meanwhile, NCIS: LA's parent show NCIS producer Gary Glasberg has dropped hints about the show's two hundredth episode. The landmark episode will be broadcast as part of the CBS drama's upcoming ninth season, coming fourteenth in the run. 'We came up with a unique, unexpected story to help us look back on everything [in the show] prior,' Glasberg told TV Guide. 'You're going to see faces you haven't seen in a long time.' Characters expected to reappear in the anniversary episode include Gibbs's late wife Shannon (Darby Stanchfield) and daughter Kelly, as well as the deceased Mike Franks (Muse Watson). Glasberg previously announced that an upcoming NCIS storyline will explore the past of Abby (Pauley Perrette), and has now confirmed that a future episode will introduce the character's brother. 'The story is so lovely and unexpected,' he claimed. Ziva (Coté de Pablo) will also encounter figures from her past in the show's ninth season, while V's Scott Wolf and Lily Tomlin will both play guest roles.

The BBC has apologised after a comic swore during a live show on BBC Radio 4. Mike McShane said the F-word (so, that's be 'fuck' then) during a newspaper review on the Broadcasting House programme, which was being recorded at the Edinburgh Festival. The fifty six-year-old instantly apologised and was also admonished by the show's presenter Paddy O'Connell, who warned him not to repeat the error. McShane, who is best known for appearing regularly on improvisation show Whose Line Is It Anyway, used the F-word at around 9.58am on Sunday morning while reviewing a story about race. He said: 'The thing about race in America is that black folks have always known more about white folks than white folks have known about black folks because black folks were cleaning their fucking houses.' The live audience laughed at the comment, but McShane immediately acknowledged his mistake and apologised for his 'language.' O'Connell also apologised and at the end of the show warned McShane to 'watch his language.' A BBC spokesman told the Daily Torygraph who, of course, wanted to make a much bigger deal out of it than it needed to be because that's how they get The Horn: 'In a live broadcast on BH American comedian Mike McShane let slip a swear word. He immediately apologised, as did presenter Paddy O' Connell. We apologise for any offence caused.'

Actress Dame Eileen Atkins has decided not to appear in the next series of Upstairs Downstairs, the TV period drama which she helped to create. Dame Eileen conceived the idea for the original series, which ran from 1971 to 1975, along with fellow actress Jean Marsh. She did not appear in the original series, but was in the cast when the BBC revived the show for a new version last year. However Dame Eileen, who played Lady Holland, is reportedly unhappy with the direction the new scripts are taking. A BBC statement said: 'It's with much sadness that we say goodbye to her wonderful character, the straight speaking mother-in-law Lady Holland. However, we respect her decision and we will be announcing new star casting soon.' The show follows the intertwined fortunes of a diplomat's family and their servants in a grand London townhouse. The next six episodes will start filming in October and are due to be broadcast next year. Marsh is the only person who appeared in both the original and the revived versions. She was joined in last year's series by Keeley Hawes, Ed Stoppard and Claire Foy. When the new series was announced, writer Heidi Thomas said: 'The Holland family and their servants are set for an extraordinary year and I am thrilled to be their guardian.'

The writer of The Hour has admitted some of the words and phrases used in the BBC drama would not have been said in the period in which it is set. In an e-mail to the Independent, Abi Morgan said she 'holds [her] hands up' to any historical errors in the script. 'But I am a dramatist,' she continued. 'I elaborate. I imagine.' The writer was responding to - spectacularly anal - criticism from the newspaper that phrases like 'bottled out' and 'note to self' would not have been said in 1956. 'When a line of dialogue jars and is seen as an anachronism, one holds one's hands up,' Morgan wrote. 'But more because it has taken the audience out of the drama,' she went on. 'The Hour is escapism and for that moment the escapism hasn't worked.' Writing in the newspaper, the columnist David Lister said 'anachronisms in speech, dress and social manners' in the show had been 'distracting and surprising.' Although, admittedly, only to arseholes. Despite these, however, Lister said that the drama - which comes to end on Tuesday on BBC2 - was still 'the best thing currently on TV.' Well, until Saturday, anyway.

Discovery Real Time has been criticised by Ofcom after a complainant alerted the regulator to the use of the word 'fucking' in Wife Swap. Rumours that the use of the word was in the context 'who is watching this fucking show, anyway?' cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied. In the opening scenes of the programme aired at 2pm on May 28, offensive language used by the participating couples while they argued was bleeped out by the producers. However, around six minutes into the episode, a woman said: 'Each bed has to be made to perfection and each one takes a good seven to eight minutes? Seven to eight minutes to make a fucking bed?' Discovery Real Time explained that the offensive language had occurred during the episode 'due to human error.' As usual when that excuse is used, they failed to say whether or not the human who erred has been taught the error of their ways in a harsh and distressing manner. Sad, really. The broadcaster said that it had improved its internal processes with regards to any material containing offensive language, including measures so that all future episodes of Wife Swap scheduled pre-watershed will be reviewed to ensure bad language has been removed. We don't know if they'll be reviewed to find out whether they're crap or not. There will be 'second level checking' for material that includes 'high levels of offensive language,' along with additional training sessions for staff on extra vigilance in checking processes. Ofcom welcomed the actions taken by Discovery after it became aware of the offensive language in Wife Swap, but noted that there have been other similar breaches by the broadcaster since 2008. 'Ofcom notes that the broadcast content for all Discovery services is complied on a central basis. Since 2008, three breaches have been recorded in relation to programmes broadcast on Discovery network services, all of which had resulted from human error,' said the regulator. 'As a result, in 2009, Ofcom required the licensee to attend a meeting to discuss its compliance procedures. Broadcasters are under a clear duty to ensure that robust procedures are in place to ensure full compliance with the Code. Ofcom does not expect any recurrence of these issues on Discovery services.' Originally produced by the now Zodiak Entertainment-owned UK production company RDF Media, reality show Wife Swap was first broadcast on Channel Four from 2003 to 2009. Last August, Channel Four denied that Wife Swap exploited its contestants, arguing that participants were made fully aware of the show's rules prior to filming.

A David Walliams-fronted programme on 'awfully good' TV has been cleared by Ofcom after a man complained about the show's mocking of his performance on Mastermind. Broadcast on 4 January his year on Channel Four, one-off programme David Walliams' Awfully Good TV recapped a number of television moments which the producers considered were 'so truly, staggeringly, compellingly bad it becomes awfully good.' The show featured a clip of one Simon Curtis participating in Mastermind, including his performance in the specialist subject round, in which he scored just one point. Introducing the clip, Little Britain star Walliams said: 'Sometimes in life, you have to know your limitations. If you're not let's say, very bright, it's probably not a good idea to go on a quiz show that tests your mental agility. And by not very bright, I mean astoundingly thick.' Following transmission of the programme, Curtis complained to Ofcom that he was 'treated unjustly or unfairly' in the show. He said that not being good at quizzes 'was not an indicator of low intelligence' and also pointed out that he had won two hundred and fifty thousand smackers on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? eighteen months earlier. He also claimed that the producers did not ask his permission to use the footage, drawing comparison with ITV4's Richard Bacon's Beer and Pizza Club, which sought his consent before referring to it. Channel Four responded by saying that Walliams's introductory comments 'were not a literal assessment of Mr Curtis's general IQ level but a comment about his remarkably poor performance in the context of a subject matter he professed to be his specialist subject.' The broadcaster accepted that Curtis had not directly consented to appear in the programme, but said that he had agreed to appear on Mastermind with the understanding that the footage could subsequently be used in other programmes. In its latest Broadcast Bulletin, Ofcom decided not to uphold any of the complaints raised by Curtis against David Walliams' Awfully Good TV. The regulator said that the re-use of Mastermind material 'did not result in unfairness towards Mr Curtis as it would have been clear to viewers that the programme was not a serious examination of his character, intelligence or competence.' It said that it was not incumbent on the show to discuss any of Curtis's other television performances, while it also did not need to seek consent to use footage of his Mastermind performance as it had already been broadcast.

A signed copy of the Beatles' single 'Please Please Me' is expected to sell at a Liverpool auction over the weekend for up to seven thousand wonga. The seven-inch 45, signed on both sides by Sir Paul, George, Ringo and the alcoholic Scouse wife-beating junkie, will be sold at the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts on Saturday. Other lots in the annual Beatles Convention sale include photographs of the Fab Four at the Sunderland Empire. A cap belonging to John Lennon is expected to fetch up to four thousand smackers. Among other unusual items is a compulsory purchase order issued for the Cavern Club before it was filled in with concrete in the early 1970s, and a piece of its stage which is estimated to reach up to eighteen hundred quid. And then they'll tell you some people don't have more money than sense. The three hundred and twenty two-lot auction also features a telegram addressed to 'Mr G Starkey' sent by comedy film star Peter Sellers to Ringo on 21 August 1968 ahead of a visit to his home. Stephen Bailey, manager of the Liverpool Beatles Shop, which is staging the sale, said: 'The memorabilia has just kept coming in and there's a lot of excitement building. We have several signed singles this year and they always attract a lot of interest from fans and collectors. But it's always the more unusual items which capture the imagination of the buyers.'

The 1969 moon landing has been voted the historical moment that people 'wished they could have recorded, had the technology been available,' according to new research published by people who haven't got anything better to do with their time. A study conducted by electronics firm Samsung revealed that fifty three per cent of those surveyed pinpointed the US Apollo 11 mission to the Moon on 20 July 1969 as the moment they would have most liked to have recorded using a timeshift service, such as Sky+ or Freesat+. An estimated five hundred million people worldwide watched the moment Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the moon's surface, which was the largest TV audience for a live broadcast at that time. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping was in bed at the time. Then again, it did happen late at night UK time and he was five. The end of World War II on Victory Pacific Day in 1945 came next, with thirty eight per cent of people wishing they could have recorded the celebrations, followed by Martin Luther King's iconic 1963 'I have a dream' speech, the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the moment England won the World Cup in 1966. Which is actually available on DVD anyway so, if you want, you can transfer it over to Sky+. The recent royal wedding balcony kiss topped a poll of 'live TV moments we would like to watch again,' with twenty per cent of the vote, followed by seventeen per cent for Queen's Brian May performing 'God Save the Queen' on the roof of Buckingham Palace for the Golden Jubilee and fourteen per cent for the moment Barack Obama was elected as president of the United States in 2008. Of the TV entertainment moments during the last year, nearly a quarter wanted to see James Corden's Comic Relief sketch as Smithy from Gavin & Stacey again, while more than one-fifth of people were keen to see Ann Widdecombe's flying tango dance routine from Strictly Come Dancing. Christ almighty, who the hell votes in these kind of things? Elsewhere, the research also revealed that fifty eight per cent of respondents claimed to use timeshift services to catch up on TV shows at a different time to the broadcast schedule, while twelve per cent said that they would if they could. And thirty per cent had more important things to worry about and told the people asking the questions whether they didn't, also. More than two-thirds of people had paused live TV, with fifty per cent having done so to go to the toilet and have a good hard dump, forty seven per cent to take a call from relatives and/or friends and tell them to 'sod off whilst I'm watching this' and thirty eight per cent to 'make a cup of tea.' Because, as we all know, there's nothing more important than a cup of tea. Britain is also a nature of TV addicts, with one in five admitting to missing their favourite programmes most while on holiday, ahead of their pets, their mums and British cuisine. Discussing the survey results, Samsung UK general manager of the STB - AV Division Warren Hampton said: 'As a nation we are no longer governed by TV schedules; we have the freedom to watch what we want, when we want.'

Sir David Attenborough is to receive a special award from the International Broadcasting Convention, a global trade show for media professionals. The eight five-year-old is being awarded the International Honour for Excellence in recognition of his sixty-year career in television and natural history. It is presented to those who have 'taken the best technology available and driven technology forward.' Sir David said that he was 'greatly honoured' to be given the award. 'When I started this was sixteen mm film, which gave us lightweight cameras to take into the wild,' the veteran broadcaster said. 'Since then my journey has taken me from black and white to colour and from film to digital high definition, and today I am excited to be involved in 3D production.' Peter Owen, chairman of the IBC Council, said of the film-maker: 'Throughout his career he has seized upon the latest developments in technology to illuminate natural history. Working with the BBC Natural History Unit he pioneered time-lapse sequences in The Private Life of Plants and low-light and infrared cameras to capture the behaviour of nocturnal mammals.' Sir David will be presented with his prize ahead of the IBC awards ceremony on 11 September, where footage of his acceptance will be screened.

John Howard Davies, who produced a string of comedy classics including Fawlty Towers and The Good Life, has died aged seventy two, his agent has confirmed. Davies was head of comedy at the BBC from 1977 to 1982, launching classic shows such as Only Fools and Horses, Yes Minister and Allo, Allo! The son of the comedy writer Jack Davies who also specialised in comedy, principally for Norman Wisdom, John found considerable fame as a child actor, making his debut as a nine year old in the title role of David Lean's Oliver Twist in 1948. He also appeared in The Rocking Horse Winner (1949), Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951) and a episodes of the television series William Tell (1958). After school at Haileybury, further education in Grenoble and National Service in the Royal Navy, John started working in the City at a finance company. After that, he trained as a carpet salesman but quit after six months to travel the world. Ending up in Australia he returned to acting and met his first wife Leonie when they both appeared in a stage production of The Sound of Music. Davies died yesterday morning at his home in Blewbury, Oxfordshire. His son William Davies said: 'My father had an absolutely extraordinary career, was unfailingly supportive as a parent and will be greatly missed. He died surrounded by his family.' After various non-TV jobs, Davies joined the BBC as a production assistant in 1968. He was made a producer later the same year and worked first on Misleading Cases, a legal satire starring Alastair Sim, moving on to The World of Beachcomber, starring Spike Milligan. His most notable contribution in that period was producing the first four episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-74) with Ian McNaughton. He went on to produce All Gas and Gaiters, The Goodies and the later series of Steptoe and Son before briefly leaving the BBC in the early 1970s, returning a year later. Davies went on to produce the classic Fawlty Towers and the entire run of The Good Life, which ran from 1975 to 1978. He became head of comedy at the BBC in 1977, where he launched many hit shows before being promoted again in 1982, to become head of light entertainment. Davies then moved to Thames, where he was not so prolific, although he did produce the successful Mr Bean, starring Rowan Atkinson and brought a smile to the face of every lover of comedy when he sacked Benny Hill. By the mid-1990s, Davies had returned to the BBC, where his credits include directing a special Easter 1996 episode of The Vicar of Dibley. John leaves his second life, Linda, whom he married in 2005, two children by his first marriage, William and Georgina and a stepson and stepdaughter.

Screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, who wrote such Hammer films as Dracula and The Curse of Frankenstein, has died at the age of eighty three. Born in 1924, Jimmy began his film career at the age of sixteen as a gopher and clapper boy, before moving up the ranks to become an assistant director joining the Hammer company in 1949. (One of his first movies was Dick Barton Strikes Back.) His script adaptation of A Man on the Beach, was followed by the SF thriller X The Unknown, a huge hit for the company in 1955. But it was his 1957 reworking of Frankenstein that made his name. He also wrote The Mummy, released in 1959. His other credits include Paranoiac starring Oliver Reed, Bette Davis film The Nanny, and The Fear In the Night - his last screenplay for Hammer. A vital part of the subsequent Hammer story, as a writer, producer and occasional director, Sangster's CV includes: The Snorkel, Jack the Ripper, The Hellfire Club, Maniac, Deadlier Than the Male, Who Slew Auntie Roo?, Scream, Pretty Peggy, Phobia, Once Upon a Spy and, in the US, episodes of A Man Called Ironside and Cannon. He is survived by his second wife, the actress Mary Peach, and a son, Mark. Sangster told one interviewer in the 1990s: 'All of a sudden I'm a cult figure. But it's all due to about five movies: a couple of Frankensteins, a couple of Draculas and a Mummy.'

Jerry Leiber, the songwriter who penned numerous classic rock and roll hits including Elvis Presley's 'Hound Dog' and 'Jailhouse Rock', has died at the age of seventy eight. Leiber earned his reputation alongside co-writer Mike Stoller, penning tunes for The Drifters, The Coasters and Ben E King as well as Presley. Leiber and Stoller infused their songs with influences from their blues and jazz backgrounds. Jerry died of cardiopulmonary failure in Los Angeles, a spokesman said. Leiber came from Baltimore, Stoller from Long Island, but they met in Los Angeles in 1950, where Stoller was a freshman at Los Angeles City College while Leiber was a senior at Fairfax High. After school, Stoller played piano and Leiber worked in a record store. In 1950, Jimmy Witherspoon recorded and performed their first commercial song, 'Real Ugly Woman.' Their career took off in earnest in 1953 when Big Mama Thornton became the first artist to record 'Hound Dog', sending the song to the top of the R&B charts. The song would later become an even more successful hit record for Elvis, who reinvented it as a rock and roll classic. Their first successes were as the writers of such crossover hit songs as 'Kansas City' (later covered by The Beatles). Later in the 1950s, particularly through their work with The Coasters, they created a string of ground-breaking hits that are some of the most entertaining in rock and roll, by using the humorous vernacular of the teenagers sung in a style that was openly theatrical rather than personal, songs that include 'Young Blood', 'Searchin'', 'Three Cool Cats' and 'Yakety Yak.' They were among the first writers to surround black music with elaborate production values, enhancing its emotional power with The Drifters in 'There Goes My Baby' and influencing Phil Spector who worked with them on recordings of The Drifters and Ben E King. Leiber and Stoller went into the record business and, focusing on the 'girl group' sound, released some of the greatest classics of the Brill Building. They wrote hits including 'Loving You', 'Don't', 'Jailhouse Rock' and 'King Creole', among others, for Elvis Presley. The pair also crafted the enduring Ben E King hit 'Stand By Me', seen by critics as one of their most influential and enduring songs. Leiber and Stoller's work as a songwriting duo earned fifteen number one hits and secured them both entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987. 'The music world lost today one of its greatest poet laureates,' said Terry Stewart, president of the Hall of Fame and Museum, in Cleveland. 'Jerry not only wrote the words that everyone was singing, he led the way in how we verbalised our feelings about the societal changes we were living with in post-World War II life. Appropriately, his vehicles of choice were the emerging populist musical genres of rhythm and blues and then rock and roll,' he told the Associated Press. Liber, who also wrote 'On Broadway' (with Barry Mann and Cythia Weill), 'Spanish Harlam' with Phil Spector, 'Love Potion No. 9', 'Is That All There Is?', 'Riot in Cell Block Nine' and 'Lucky Lips' (all with Stoller) was also a noted record company owner. Leiber and Stoller founded and briefly owned Red Bird Records, which issued the Shangri-Las' 'Leader of the Pack' and the Dixie Cups' 'Chapel of Love.' The pair also produced numerous records, their last major hit production was 'Stuck in the Middle With You,' by Stealers Wheel in 1972. Jerry is survived by his sons Jed, Oliver and Jake.

On the same day - 22 August - we also lost Motown songwriter Nick Ashford, who penned hits such as 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' with wife Valerie Simpson. He was seventy. Ashford, who was being treated for cancer, died in a New York hospital, his former publicist Liz Rosenberg said. Ashford and Simpson met in a church choir as teenagers and penned a string of hits including 'You're All I Need To Get By' and the Chaka Khan hit, 'I'm Every Woman.' They also had a hit themselves in the 1980s with 'Solid (As A Rock).' Nick was born in May 1942, in Fairfield County, South Carolina, moving to New York in his teens. Simpson later inscribed 'Nick Ashford slept here' on the park bench he slept on in the city's Bryant Park, when he first came to New York and was homeless. He first met Valarie at Harlem's White Rock Baptist Church in 1963. After having recorded unsuccessfully as a duo, they joined aspiring solo artist and former member of the Ikettes, Josie Jo Armstead, at the Scepter/Wand label where their compositions were recorded by Ronnie Milsap ('Never Had It So Good'), Maxine Brown ('One Step At A Time'), the 5th Dimension ('California Soul'), Aretha Franklin ('Cry Like A Baby'), as well as the Shirelles and Chuck Jackson. Another of the trio's songs 'Let's Go Get Stoned' gave Ray Charles a number one US R&B hit in 1966. That same year Ashford & Simpson joined the Motown stable where their best-known songs included 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough', 'You're All I Need To Get By', 'Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing', and 'Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)'. Initially, they were paired with Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, and they wrote and/or produced all but one of the duo's late-1960s singles, including masterpieces like 'Your Precious Love'. Ashford and Simpson wrote and produced almost all the songs on three 1970s LPs by Diana Ross. They also worked with Gladys Knight & The Pips, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (the sublime 'Who's Gonna Take the Blame'), The Marvelettes, The Supremes ('Some Things You Never Get Used To') and The Dynamic Superiors. The couple were married for thirty six years and were inducted into the Songwriters Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. In recent times, Ashford & Simpson had recorded and toured sporadically and in 1996, they opened the restaurant and live entertainment venue Sugar Bar in New York City, which has an open mic on Thursday nights where performers have included Queen Latifah and Felicia Collins. 'I'm so sad that he's gone,' the singer Alicia Keys said in a tribute posted on Twitter: 'What a legacy of infectious music.' 'His music is unmatched in terms of great songwriting,' said Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire. 'They had magic and that's what creates those wonderful hits, that magic. Without those songs, those artists wouldn't have been able to go to the next level.' Ashford is survived by his wife and their daughters Nicole and Asia. Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.

On the eve of Celebrity Big Brother's return, the Daily Lies delivered one of their textbook 'cry wolf' front page splashes, with a headline screaming Jordan busts into Big Bro. Except that, according to the busty one herself, who is currently contracted to Sky Living so cannot appear on Channel Five, there was never any danger of that happening. As Katie herself said on Twitter: 'I promise everyone I am NOT doing Big Brother I'm away with my family and I'm signed to Sky Living so impossible.' In classic style, having marched the troops up the hill on its front page, inside on page five the Lies marches them back down again with a much less emphatic 'Jordan's tipped to breeze in' as 'top star pulls out.' Yes, tipped by you! We'd all love to know who the 'top star' was, though. It's also hard not to wonder if Katie hit the nail on the head when she claimed in a tweet to the Big Brother update Twitter feed: 'Stop lying and using my name for publicity like what everyone does.' Although Katie Price whinging about somebody else using her name for 'publicity' is a little bit like a pot calling a kettle 'slightly discoloured.'
Since yer actual Keith Telly Topping was performing - for one night only - at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival on Monday, I thought I'd end with a joke. Did you hear the one of Celebrity Big Brother's ratings for the first five days and they sank faster than the Titanic?
18 Aug 5.07m
19 Aug 3.14m
20 Aug 2.74m
21 Aug 2.14m
22 Aug 2.23m

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's Bernard, Johnny and Neil. And a genuine twenty four carat modern masterpiece.