Sunday, August 07, 2011

Week Thirty Three: I've Got No Right To Take My Place In The Human Race

So, the new football season started, dear blog reader. I mean, the Premiership's next week but the bread-and-butter stuff kicked-off yesterday. A brief word of explanation for the uninitiated. Association football - not, and never 'soc-her' - is a sport which is played between two teams of eleven players. Or, if Portugal are one of them, two teams of nine ... or eight players - using a spherical ball. Because, using a square one would be effing ridiculous. It is widely considered to be the most popular participation and spectator sport in the world. Except in the USA where the Americans don't even use its proper name and think it's something girls play. The game takes place on a pitch of rectangular grass or artificial turf. Or in the park, small boys, jumpers for goal posts. Et cetera. The object is to score by getting the ball into the opposing goal and then stopping them from doing the same thing to you. Fairly, of course. Or, if you're Italian, any way you can. In general play, the goalkeepers are the only players allowed to use their hands to touch the ball although at least one former Argentine international tended to ignore that rule whenever he felt like it. The rest of the team normally use their feet to kick the ball. And, sometimes, each other. It's a game of two halves, Brian, and at the end of ninety minutes the team which scores the most goals will be Over the Moon and the other lot will be Sick as a Parrot. Or, to put it another way, it's a game of two halves, and extra time, and then the Germans win on penalties. The game is controlled - or, more often, not controlled - by an officious, whistle-happy berk aided by two visually-impaired prats with flags. It was invented by the English but, whisper it, we're not really very good at it. The Brazilians, however, are. Usually. Except when they aren't. The Dutch and the Spanish and the French are sometimes quite good too but, more often than not, they end up fighting among themselves after a couple of matches. Which can be jolly amusing in and of itself if you're in the right sort of mood. The game has many rules, most of which are reasonably straight forward. Except for offside (don't ask, trust me, it's not worth it, we'll be here all day). Every four years the best thirty two nations in the world come together in a spectacularly expensive corporate brown-tongued hate-fest. Scotland usually don't take part. Because, as noted, it's a tournament for the world's thirty two best national sides. Thirty one of them inevitably go home darkly muttering about bias, conspiracy, bad luck, dodgy red cards and 'that was never over the line.' There can be only one champion. A bit like the movie Highlander, if you will. Only with rather less beheadings. Although, if you're ever seen Uruguay play ...

The world's most orange TV presenter and least convincing 'woman of the people' imaginable, Christine Bleakley, will reportedly be replaced by former GMTV host Horrible Kate Garraway on Friday editions of ITV's spectacular breakfast flop Daybreak. Cruelly cast aside like an old worn out boot. The reduction of the thirty two-year-old's presenting role follows the announcement last month that her colleague, grumpy Adrian Chiles, will only front the ITV show from Monday to Thursday. Daybreak's sports editor Dan Lobb - yes, it is a fantastically silly name - will take over Chiles's position on the final weekday edition of the breakfast programme. 'This is symptomatic of just how difficult things are on Daybreak at the moment,' a 'show source' allegedly told the Daily Scum Mail. 'We need to recapture the warmth of GMTV and viewers adore Kate, especially when she is teamed with Dan. They haven't taken to Adrian so well and they are only just starting to warm to Christine.' Which is blatantly untrue to which the show's still-wretched audience appreciation feedback scores will easily testify. Garraway and Lobb are due to take their spots on the sofa from September following the rugby World Cup. Several editions of the troubled show are expected to be postponed during the tournament for notable early morning matches. Daybreak 'bosses', the Scum Mail allege, have 'claimed' that Chiles and Bleakley 'agreed to have their roles reduced as part of their contracts.' Daybreak has continued to struggle with poor ratings of around six hundred thousand viewers, less than half of the one and a half million punters collected daily by its rival BBC Breakfast and three hundred thousand less than its predecessor GMTV achieved before its cancellation last September.
Oily twat, horrorshow (and drag) Piers Morgan is facing increasing calls to return to Britain to face the music and answer some very awkward questions about phone hacking as the controversy over how much he knew or didn't know about the practice showed no signs of abating. Which is funny. John Whittingdale, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons culture, media and sport committee, said that it was right that the former Daily Mirra editor should return from the America, where he hosts a - not particularly good - CNN chat show. Whittingdale said: 'Therese Coffey [a Tory member of the committee] said he should come back to this country to answer questions and I think that is absolutely right. He certainly should.' Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, said on Friday that Morgan had 'questions to answer,' citing a column he wrote five years ago in which he claimed that he had once been 'played a message' left on a mobile phone belonging to Heather Mills. Mad Hatty said: 'Hacking is a criminal offence and every allegation has got to be thoroughly investigated by the police. We started off with just the News of the World, it's clearly been much more widespread than people have been prepared to admit.' Morgan, who edited the Daily Mirra for nearly ten years until 2004 when he, very satisfyingly, got the tin-tack for publishing photos of British soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners which turned out to be entirely false, said in a Daily Scum Mail column in 2006 that he had heard the message, which was left by Sir Paul McCartney on Mills's phone after the couple had an argument. He wrote that the former Beatle sounded 'lonely, miserable and desperate.' McCartney told the American media that he intended to step into the phone hacking controversy and contact British police because, he said, 'apparently I have been hacked.' Speaking from Ohio, where he is currently on tour, the former Beatle told journalists in Los Angeles that once he is back in Britain he would be talking to detectives about the alleged incident, which appears to be a reference to the claims raised by his former wife. Though he gave no details, including which newspaper had allegedly carried out the hacking, he said: 'I do think it's a horrendous violation of privacy. I do think it has been going on for a long time and I do think more people than we know knew about it.' Mills told the BBC's Newsnight last week that a senior journalist on a paper owned by Trinity Mirra, the Daily Mirra's parent company, conceded to her in 2001 that he had obtained information about an apology left by McCartney by listening to her phone messages. According to Mills, the journalist rang her and 'started quoting verbatim the messages from my machine.' She said that she challenged him, saying: 'You've obviously hacked my phone and if you do anything with this story I'll go to the police.' Mills said that the man responded: 'Okay, yeah, we did hear it on your voice messages, I won't run it.' Morgan - whom Mills has made clear was not the particular journalist involved - has consistently denied he has ever hacked a phone, ordered any of his journalists to do so, or published any story which he knew to have been obtained from the hacking of a phone. He issued a statement through CNN, for whom he records Tonight with Piers Morgan, in response to Mills's claims pointing out that a high-court judge had previously described her as an unreliable witness. 'No doubt everyone will take this and other instances of somewhat extravagant claims by Ms Mills into account in assessing what credibility and platform her assertions are given,' he said. Morgan used Twitter to ridicule the prominence of the story on Thursday, posting: 'Morning all, lovely day in LA. Anything going on back home in UK? Seems a bit quiet over there. So heart-warming that everyone in UK's missing me so much they want me to come home.' Trinity Mirra, which also owns the Sunday Mirra and the People, said on Thursday: 'All our journalists work within the criminal law and the PCC code of conduct and we have seen no evidence to suggest otherwise.' The publisher of the Daily Scum Mail itself said it, too, is 'reviewing its editorial controls.' Associated Newspapers said its head of editorial legal services, Liz Hartley, would be carrying out the review. The company publishes the Daily Scum Mail, the Scum Mail on Sunday and the Metro. In a statement, Associated Newspapers said: 'Liz Hartley, head of editorial legal services, who has responsibility for overseeing compliance with the company's policy on journalistic standards, has asked Eddie Young to join her to assist in a review of our editorial controls and procedures.' Last month the Daily Scum Mail editor Paul Dacre claimed that he had never 'countenanced' hacking or blagging on his newspaper; although as was noted by the Gruniad he stopped well short of saying that the paper had never carried a story obtained in such a manner without the editor's knowledge. Meanwhile the FBI is said to be widening its investigation of News Corporation's activities within the US to look at whether allegations of computer hacking by one of its subsidiaries was an isolated case or part of a 'larger pattern of behaviour,' Time magazine is reporting. Time suggests that the FBI inquiry has been extended from a relatively narrow look at alleged malpractices by News Corp in America into a more general inquiry into whether the company used possibly illegal strongarm tactics to browbeat rival firms, following allegations of computer hacking made by retail advertising company Floorgraphics. In a civil lawsuit against News Corp in 2004 Floorgraphics told a court that its website had been breached eleven times over four months without authorisation. The source of the alleged hacking was traced back to an IP address registered to the news Corp subsidiary News America in Connecticut.

The Daily Torygraph diarist Tim Walker has gone one better than his revelation a couple of weeks ago about the voicemail instruction on former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie's mobile phone: 'I am not here right now, but leave a message and Rebekah will get back to you.' Which is not only the funniest thing Kelvin Mackenzie has ever said but it is also, quite possibly, the funniest thing that Kelvin MacKenize will ever say. Personally, this blogger thinks that MacKenzie should refrain from ever saying anything again so as not to cheapen this moment. Anyway, this weekend Walker reports that he is 'reliably informed' well-known Crystal Tipps-lookalike Rebekah Brooks, who resigned as chief executive of News International on 15 July, is still being paid by the company. He quotes 'an informant' as alleging: 'My understanding is that Rupert has told her to travel the world on him for a year and then he will find a job for her when the scandal has died down.'

News Group Newspapers, former publisher of the defunct News of the World, is being sued for one hundred thousand smackers by a prison warden's brother who claims that a senior executive at the newspaper confirmed to police he was the source of leaked stories about the Soham murderer Ian Huntley. John Capewell, the brother of a prison officer who worked at high security lock-up HMP Frankland in Durham where Huntley is currently incarcerated, is suing the newspaper publisher for allegedly breaching an anonymity agreement. Capewell, forty seven, has launched legal action against NGN claiming that it broke the deal because Tom Crone, the former senior lawyer at the News of the World, confirmed that Capewell was the source of the stories, in a phone call to police officers investigating leaks from the prison in 2008. Lawyers representing Capewell believe the case is important because, they suggest, a newspaper has a duty to protect the identity of its snitches. 'It is Mr Capewell's case that [NGN] betrayed the trust of a confidential source who was seeking to exercise his freedom of speech to provide information of public interest,' said his legal representatives. 'In doing so, Mr Capewell alleges that they have caused him to suffer the indignity and intrusion of a criminal trial, caused his reputation to be smeared and caused him to lose his job. Mr Capewell says that his life has been ruined.' NGN has applied to have the claim struck out, on the grounds that it cannot be sued over information provided to assist the police in an ongoing investigation. The paper also says that police officers had already determined that Capewell was the source of information about HMP Frankland before officers approached Crone. Capewell had already been arrested by the time the News of the World was approached by the police. Capewell, forty seven, approached the News of the World in 2008 offering 'anonymous information' about the prison in return for a sum of money, alleged to be forty thousand quid, although the publisher is not thought to have paid for the information which he subsequently provided. Capewell offered Chris Tate, a former senior reporter at the tabloid, information about 'preferential treatment' being given to Huntley and, separately, claims of an alleged 'sexual relationship' between a female warden and an inmate convicted of murder and several serious sexual offences involving minors. Capewell also gave the reporter details about an alleged plot by Muslim inmates to decapitate a prison warden. The News of the World did not publish any of Capewell's claims. However stablemate the Sun allegedly printed a story about Huntley based, at least in part, on the information just days after Capewell's first meeting with Tate. The Daily Scum Mail published a similar story three weeks later. In September 2008 police launched an investigation into the source of the leaks from HMP Frankland after a dog walker found confidential prison documents bearing Capewell's fingerprints – including the contract between Capewell and Tate – discarded on a public bridal path in Wallsend. At the subsequent trial, the prosecution said the documents had been stolen from Capewell's car. In 2009 Capewell appeared in the court in Newcastle and after a week-long trial was found not guilty of aiding and abetting misconduct in public office. His brother, forty three-year-old prison officer Paul Capewell, was cleared of misconduct in public office. Capewell's legal team said on Thursday said they were awaiting a date for the claim to be heard at the high court, when it returns from recess after the summer. NGN had not commented at the time of publication.

Celebrity MasterChef is due to start its next series at the end of August on BBC1 according to rumour.

The heads of forty five conservation groups including Greenpeace UK and the RSPB have condemned the BBC's decision to scrap a major fund which allows viewers to contribute to projects aimed at bringing back dwindling species from the brink of extinction. The BBC Wildlife Fund was set up in 2007 amid a blaze of publicity, as part of the popular series Saving Planet Earth, to celebrate fifty years of the corporation's famous Natural History Unit. Similar in concept to the more famous Red Nose Day and Sport Relief, its role was to fight for the preservation of wildlife under threat. Its success has been built on in subsequent years with new appeals centred on conservation TV shows. More than three million pounds has been raised from members of the public so far, about two thirds of that arising from the 2007 appeal, and this has provided funding for conservation projects and a staff of two to three people. In a letter published in the Gruniad Morning Star a group of forty five organisations wrote to the BBC chairman, Chris Patten, expressing 'considerable disappointment' at the proposed closure. They wrote: 'The fund, in its relatively short life, has been an extraordinary success both in raising some three million quid for conservation in the UK and overseas, and in bringing together a large number of environmental and development NGOs in support. Many have given a great deal of their time and support to the board of trustees and the excellent small staff team. Together they have attracted substantial public support.' Since its launch, the fund has made payments to dozens of conservation projects, most amounting to a few tens of thousands of pounds. They included substantial donations worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Zoological Society of London, one of the groups writing the letter, and small donations of a few thousand pounds a time to organisations such as the Kent Mammal Group and the Hawk and Owl Trust. The BBC told the Gruniad: 'We are proud of our achievements in support of the BBC Wildlife Fund. However, as with the many difficult choices the BBC currently faces, we must focus our charitable efforts in areas where we can have the most impact. We have therefore regrettably concluded that we can no longer support the Wildlife Fund editorially. As a result the trustees have decided to wind down the fund but will continue to monitor and evaluate existing grants. We would like to thank them for their tremendous work over the past four years.' Or, in other words 'we haven't got a pot to piss in thanks to the clowns you voted into government imposing a licence fee freeze on us and, it's either we keep this going or you don't get a series of Springwatch next year. Which would you prefer?' Which, when you put it in such stark black and white terms as that, is a shade more understandable. In a statement posted on the fund's website, Helen Kellie, chair of the BBC Wildlife Fund, said: 'We are proud to have generated funds enabling us to support vital conservation work for a variety of wildlife. This includes bringing species back from the brink of extinction.' Income to the fund fell drastically after its launch, with less than sixty six thousand smackers received in 2009. In 2009-2010, the latest year for which accounts are available, the main new income was interest from the original amount raised, most of which has now been spent. Staff costs at the Wildlife Fund were about one hundred and six thousand wonga for the financial year 2009-10, for two full-time and one part-time person, up from about seventy seven thousand smackers the year before. In the accounts for April 2010, the fund had one hundred and forty three grand at its disposal, down from just over four hundred and eighty thousand the year before. However, in June 2010 the BBC's Springwatch team launched a new live wildlife appeal programme, dubbed Wild Night In. With celebrities including David Attenborough, Edith Bowman and Graham Norton involved, the appeal raised £1.2m. It is not clear how much of this cash has been spent, as accounts for 2010-11 are not yet available. The Gruniad states that it is also not clear what costs the BBC would incur by keeping the fund running. Under the terms by which the Wildlife Fund was set up in 2007, the BBC offered a loan of two hundred and ten thousand quid, understood to cover the administrative costs of setting up the charity. That loan was made to be repayable 'either six months from transmission of the last programme in the BBC series of the summer of 2010' or on the wind-up of the fund. The NGOs added in their letter: 'The major factor in bringing such a group together has been the recognition of the unique position, role and reputation of the BBC in being able to promote the need for conservation of the natural world to so many across the world, and its ability to engage the public and generate much needed additional resources to enable more conservation work to be achieved. In establishing the fund, we believe that the BBC recognised the respect in which the Natural History Unit is so widely held and the value of its wonderful and ground-breaking wildlife documentaries to the corporation over several decades.' The conservation groups argue that the BBC, through its natural history programming, has an ability to raise charitable funds through public donations that other organisations can only dream of. However, the BBC is thought to be wary of committing to such additional projects while its core funding is being cut.

And so to yer actual Top Telly Tips:

Friday 12 August
The ordeal of the Chilean miners, trapped two thousand three hundred feet underground by a rockfall on 5 August 2010 was a story which, quite literally, gripped the planet. Director Angus Macqueen focuses on the first seventeen days of the men's ordeal, when they were cut off from the outside world, during which time no one knew if they were dead or alive in the documentary Chilean Miners: Seventeen Days Buried Alive - 9:00 BBC2. Obvious title, perhaps, but we'll forgive them that in a story of genuine human magnificence in circumstances few of us can possibly imagine. I mean, yer actual Keith Telly Topping gets a little bit claustrophobic in a lift for thirty seconds let alone being buried underground for over two months. When contact was finally established, thanks to a note attached to a search probe, it was another fifty two days before they could be rescued. The film tells their story, with personal testimony from six of the rescued miners.

It's episode seven thousand six hundred and sixty six of Coronation Street tonight - 7:30 ITV. In this, Lloyd feels sorry for Chris - aw, bless - and tries to make amends, but is stunned - stunned, I tell ya - when Cheryl asks if he can move in with them. Karl confuses Leanne by warning her to keep away from Stella, and Julie decides to steady herself with a few drinks before her second date with Brian. Yes, I think most women would need a good stiff drinking before going out with him. Meanwhile, Audrey takes steps to prevent David and Kylie ruining the salon. Burning it down, perhaps?

Sex, Lies and Parkinson's - 7:35 Channel Four - is a rather interesting looking documentary following a thirty nine-year-old paediatric nurse, Vicki, as she attempts to comes to terms with a recent diagnosis of early-onset Parkinson's disease. Vicki, obviously, wonders what this will mean for her future. Side effects of the medication she takes for the condition include an overwhelming desire for sex and shopping and an addiction to the Internet, all of which threaten to destroy her relationship with her long-term partner. Human interest material of the highest order, and part of the First Cut strand.

Saturday 13 August
England's Worst Ever Football Team - 9:00 BBC3 - is one for all the chaps, no doubt. To celebrate the start of the new Premiership season, the country's potential poorest national football team is chosen, using archive footage and expert opinion from contributors including Neil Ruddock and Mark Lawrenson. I thought they said 'expert opinion'? Among the criteria used are blunders on the pitch, bad haircuts and 'other misdemeanours.' Whatever the hell that means.

The second part of Ronnie Corbett's Comedy Britain - 9:00 ITV - sees the veteran entertainer speaking to big-collared Harry Hill at the madcap comedian's unique prop store, before having tea with Little Britain star David Walliams and his mother. Ronnie then retells one of his best-loved 'My producer said...' monologues from the familiar position of the armchair made famous in The Two Ronnies. The programme also features contributions by Rob Brydon, Ken Dodd and Dara O Briain. I must admit, as I said on the radio the other week, I'm somewhat it two minds about this format. It all feels a little 'safe' and mainstream to me. I mean, it's a show going out at nine o'clock on a Saturday night on ITV so they're hardly going to have someone effing and blinding at the audience. But, given the interview Little Ron did this week with the Radio Times where he was, as usual, inoffensive and nice, but talked about not understanding comedy that goes out of its way to be confrontational suggests that this programme could have been an opportunity missed. I'd love to have seen him, for instance, interviewing a Jerry Sadowitz, or a Mad Frankie Boyle just to see if there was any areas where two - apparently incompatible - worlds of comedy crossed over. It's not like confrontational comedy is a new thing. Ron started working for the BBC in 1966 the same year that Lenny Bruce was denied entry into the country because he was, genuinely, considered to be a danger to society. He was also a genius. Mind you, at least the line-up for episode two is a shade more left-field than the, frankly depressing, set of people Ron interviewed in the opening episode. But, do we really need to hear from both of the chaps off Little Britain? Wouldn't one of them have made the point just as well?

StreetDance - 8:00 Channel Four - is a two-part documentary charting the progress of teams including Karisma Crew and Peridot as they set out to compete in the 2011 Street Dance XXL championship, which offers a chance to represent the UK in a battle against the US. The programme combines personal stories with contributions and archive footage from groups including Flawless and Diversity to offer an insight into the art form. Concludes tomorrow.

Sunday 14 August
Britain's Hidden Heritage - 7:00 BBC1 - is a new series in which the presenter Paul Martin and his team travel up and down the nation looking for undiscovered treasures and forgotten places that tell us about Britain's rich and astonishing history. In this opening programme, Paul visits one of the country's greatest stately homes, Dumfries House in Ayrshire. There he meets Prince Charles, who helped save the house for the nation. Also on the show, reporter Charlie Luxton uncovers an industrial time capsule in the form of a Nineteenth century Birmingham silversmiths, Clare Balding travels to Essex to learn more about the discovery of a rare Victorian culinary manuscript and guest reporter John Sergeant takes to the skies in search of the last remaining Avro Vulcan bomber, an icon of the cold war.

Meanwhile Ocean Giants - 9:00 BBC1 - is a ground-breaking documentary, narrated by Stephen Fry, granting a unique and privileged access into the magical world of whales and dolphins, uncovering the secrets of their intimate lives as never before. This first episode - Giant Lives - explores the intimate details of the largest animals that have ever lived on our planet- the great whales. From the balmy waters of the Indian Ocean to the freezing seas of the Arctic, two daring underwater cameramen - Doug Allan, Planet Earth's polar specialist, and Didier Noirot, Cousteau's front-line cameraman - come face-to-face with fighting humpback whales and two-hundred-ton feeding blue whales. Teaming up with top whale scientists, the production discovers why southern right whales possess a pair of one-ton testicles, why the arctic bowhead can live to over two hundred years old, and why size truly matters in the world of whales.

In the final episode of the current series of Law & Order: UK - 9:00 ITV - the police struggles to understand the involvement of twelve-year-old Kaden Blake in the shooting of mother and carer Lia Brown. As a victim of gang culture, the boy's only protection is keeping silent, and by speaking out about the crime, he sets in motion a devastating chain of events that will have massive consequences on all concerned. Guest starring Lucy Speed (from EastEnders and The Bill), with Bradley Walsh, Jamie Bamber, Freema Agyeman and Peter Davison.

It's a truly depressing indictment of our sour and rotten-to-the-core society, dear blog reader, but we're up to a third series of the terrifyingly dreadful Young, Dumb and Living Off Mum - 9:00 BBC3. I know, it's a woeful fact to drop into casual conversation. In this programme, in case you've had the fortune never to come across it before, a group of spoiled, odious and selfish eighteen to twenty-year-olds who have been waited on hand and foot all their entire lives are thrust into the adult world of responsibility. They must live together in a house and fend for themselves, live on a basic weekly budget and take part in tough work challenges. Their parents watch exactly what their kids have been up to, and the one they judge the most useless is sent packing. Ruby-Jo, Sophie, Jack, Gracie, Ryan, Jade, Tom and Enzo are completely out of their comfort zone when they suddenly find themselves working long hours as cleaners, kitchen staff and tour guides at one of London's busiest youth hostels. There are strong words when a drunken party gets out of hand and Sophie expresses an opinion that the others don't like. The group struggles to cope with the responsibility of work, looking after a home and living with others just like them. The eight 'young adults' - all, thoroughly, offensively 'me, me, me, me, me, me' - are competing, you might be horrified to learn, to earn their parents' pride, and a round-the-world trip. And, you know, the worst thing about this whole disgraceful fiasco is that you suspect not a single one of them is in the slightest bit bothered about winning the former. The latter, on the hand ...

Monday 15 August
Hang out the flags, Only Connect returns tonight - 8:30 BBC4 - with an opening battle between social networkers and vegetarians. May it, hopefully, be to the death. Saucy minx and the thinking chap's crumpet, the divine Victoria Coren presents the first heat of this year's edition of the cult lateral thinking quiz, which sees three vegetarians take on a trio of social networking enthusiasts who met each other online. As is yer average social networker's cup of cocoa. Among the challenges they face are figuring out what links a political column in the Scum Mail on Sunday and a popular Beano character. Is it that they both talk a heap of drivel?

Across the world, a new generation of astronomers is out to make fresh discoveries about life, the universe and everything. But, the scientists need to look farther than ever before. For this, they have pushed the limits of science and engineering to create a new set of super-telescopes that they hope will help them rewrite the story of the stars as described in the latest episode of Horizon - 9:00 BBC2.

Concrete Circus - 9:00 Channel Four - sees five of the world's best urban sports stars, who have become Internet sensations with nearly fifty million views between them, team up with their young directors to make new online films. This action-packed, feature-length documentary follows urban trial rider Danny MacAskill, skateboarder Kilian Martin, free runners Blue and Phil Doyle and BMX flatlander Keelan Phillips as they make their films here in the UK, and features the premiere of each. Part of Street Summer season.

In tonight's episode of Coronation Street - 7:30 ITV - Carla's revelations about Peter do little to discourage Frank, who stuns her by proposing. Marriage, not a quick pint down the Rovers, one imagines. Although, if the offer on the latter is still open, this blogger is sure Carla would definitely be up for that. Becky, meanwhile, receives a letter about the divorce on her second wedding anniversary, and Lloyd's hopes of keeping Chris's illness quiet are short-lived when Karl lets the info slip to Jason and Owen.

Tuesday 16 August
Seven Dwarves - 9:00 Channel Four - is a rather daft-sounding documentary following seven actors of, isn't the ideologically sound description now 'of diminished stature' performing in a production of Snow White in Woking. Home of Paul Weller. Not that he's in the documentary, you understand. Neither is my mate Rob who also hails from Woking for that matter. Just the dwarves. Anyway, the idea is to provide an insight into their personal and professional lives. Which is a laudable conceit if ever there was one. The first episode is Max's tale. In his telemarketing job, Max Laird's four feet two inch height isn't an issue; something that isn't the case when he leaves his friends and family to perform on stage for eight weeks over Christmas. This season, Max lives and works with six other little people. They have all met before and some have previously shared digs, but the seven will live together as a group for the first time. Max sees the pantomime as an opportunity to make some good money and have fun but his dream is to leave his office job for a full-time acting career. The film follows him with twin sister Hannah, who doesn't share his condition and has mixed feelings about her brother working in jobs that focus on rather than ignore his height. Interviews with Max, his father, and his best friend Ollie also give insight into growing up as the only little person surrounded by average height family and friends. The group get straight into rehearsals, with some of them having barely looked at their scripts. As a panto veteran, Max takes some of the younger cast under his wing, giving constructive criticism over acting performance and down the pub for Dutch courage. As well as doing panto run-throughs, the dwarves settle into daily life together - getting to know each other's interesting habits and enjoying some well-deserved nights out on the town in Woking, where seven little people find themselves very much the centre of attention. And, obviously, somebody ends the night feeling Happy. Till Happy got sick of it at which point they felt Grumpy. No, listen, I'm here all week ...

Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins worked together for the first time in several years last summer in the first series of The Great British Bake Off, which returns for a second run tonight at 8:00 on BBC2. If you missed it this is, basically, MasterChef for those who like cakes and scones. Which, thankfully, yer actual Keith Telly Topping does. Twelve enthusiastic home-cooks take part in a culinary contest devised by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry to determine which of them is Britain's best amateur baker. In the first round, the competitors are challenged to make twenty four decorated cupcakes in two hours, before being asked to bake a coffee and walnut Battenberg cake. Oh yeah. I'll have some of that.

Unforgiven - 9:00 ITV - might be a repeat but it's still, comfortably, the best thing on TV tonight and that included The Hour. In fact, this three-part thriller first shown in 2009 might, just, be one of the finest British drama mini-series made in the last decade such was its impact. The plot: A young woman, Ruth Slater (played brilliant by the great Suranne Jones) is released from prison after serving fifteen years for the murder of two policemen. She faces the daunting prospect of trying to rebuild her shattered life while continuing to be haunted by the ghosts of her past. But while she is busy finding work, learning to use cash machines and working out modern train timetables, the sons of one of her victims, outraged at her release, have vengeance in mind. And, of course, as ever in these sorts of things, the events that led up to the fateful day that changed everyone's lives are not, necessarily, all that they seem. Also starring Siobhan Finneran, Peter Davison, Douglas Hodge, Jemma Redgrave, Jack Deam, Matthew McNulty and Will Mellor in a quality cast and a quality production. If you missed it last time, record The Hour and watch this because, trust me, it is worth an hour of your time. And, next week, you'll want more.

Speaking of The Hour - 9:00 BBC2 - tonight Lady Elms asks Freddie to drop his investigation, but he remains defiant. As Prime Minister Eden addresses the nation on his reasons for military action, the battle lines are drawn and The Hour sits firmly in the middle. McCain steps up his pressure on The Hour to toe a pro-government line, but as a huge anti-war protest is planned for Trafalgar Square, Freddie has other ideas. He leads his colleagues into the thick of the action where they find themselves in possession of controversial film footage. Clarence, meanwhile, gives Bel an ultimatum about her affair with Hector, and Lix has made a discovery about Tom Kish and Peter Darrall which suggests that someone close to The Hour knows more than they're letting on about the murders. Not quite the best drama that the BBC have produced this year - The Shadow Line, Luther and Doctor Who have all produced more of an appreciation from this blogger. But, it's not far away from being something very special indeed and hopefully, by the time that next week's closing episode comes around, the story's complexities will have worked themselves through to a satisfying conclusion.

if the best thing on TV tonight is a repeat then Francesco's Italy Top to Toe - 8:00 BBC4 - is another useful reminder that sometimes it's worth keeping your eye open for something to come around again. Again, if you missed this hugely entertaining travelogue first time around yer actual Keith Telly Topping can't recommend it highly enough. Author and architect Francesco da Mosto presents a four part guide to his native Italy. And gets to drive around the country in a gorgeous Alfa Romeo Spider. Some guys have all the luck! He starts in the North, where he views Leonardo's Last Supper in Milan and explores one of the world's oldest universities. He also visits Florence, the birthplace of Renaissance art, and Verona, the setting for Romeo and Juliet, before going underwater to see the statue of Christ off the coast of Portofino. Prego!

Wednesday 17 August
Now, personally, yer Keith Telly Topping has never really warmed to JK Rowling. I'm sure she's a very nice person and all that - Stephen Fry speaks very highly of her, for instance - but in most of the interviews that I either read or seen with her she comes over as a somewhat ... self-assured person. Often to the point of arrogance. I might be doing this poor lady a massive disservice, here, of course. That's always a possibility. But, it's just the impression that I often get from her. Anyway, in the latest episode of Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1 - the Harry Potter author investigates her mother's French roots. She is particularly interested in her great-grandfather Louis Volant, and what he did to be awarded the prestigious Legion d'honneur during the First World War. Researching her family tree further she finds an ancestor who triumphed against the odds, and discovers how war almost transformed her family's identity.

Well bugger me buttocks if it isn't the six thousandth episode of Emmerdale - 7:00 ITV tonight. Amy takes a pregnancy test and is shocked when it comes back positive, immediately telling Cain that he is the father. Roz leaves the village to start her new job, Adam and Mia get back together, and Nikhil struggles to deal with the problems at the factory. Here's to the next six thousand.

In Pendle Witch Child - 9:00 BBC4 - the poet Simon Armitage tells the story of Jennet Device, a nine-year-old girl whose testimony at one of Britain's most notorious witch trials resulted in many of her relatives and neighbours being hanged in Lancashire in 1612. Simon learns how the impact of her evidence set a precedent for using children as witnesses at similar trials, and tries to discover why Jennet chose to bring about the demise of the people to whom she was closest. Part of the Children in History season.

Croc Man - 8:00 Channel Five - is a documentary following Shaun Foggett as he tries to fulfil his dream of opening Britain's first crocodile zoo. Hmmm ... yeah. They're not, exactly, the most cuddly and aesthetically pleasing of all God's creatures, are they? Although they do, undeniably, make nice shoes. It has been six months since Shaun got council permission to convert an industrial unit into his dream zoo, and he has been working round the clock to get his idea off the ground. But he has now run out of money, so he has only one option - sell his house to finish the building. However, if he moves out, he still needs somewhere to house his collection of beloved pets, currently living in sheds in the garden.

Thursday 18 August
For some strange reason Torchwood: Miracle Day - 9:00 BBC1 - continues to both fascinate and frustrate. It's got such a good central premise, the performances are so good and the ideas in it are so intriguing that it should be giving me the same little fanboy thrills that Children of Earth did, in abundance, two years ago. But it's still not, quite, there yet. It's close, no denying that, but it needs to move the story along now. And, it would seem, in tonight's episode, it starts to. Gwen, Rex and Esther are trapped, leaving Jack facing a race against time as he goes straight to the heart of the conspiracy. SF thriller, starring John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Mekhi Phyfer and Alexa Havins, with Bill Pullman and Lauren Ambrose and a guest appearance by Ernie Hudson from Ghostbusters.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water it's ... Celebrity Big Brother: Live Launch - 9:00 Channel Five. Eleven months after Channel Four turned out the lights on the Big Brother house, the grandaddy of all reality shows is back, on a different channel and with a different presenter. Brian Dowling, who not only won series two, but was also crowned the public's ultimate housemate last year, steps into Davina McCall's presenting shoes, and begins by introducing the foolhardy celebrities who have agreed to be locked up with each other for the next two and a half weeks and have their every move and conversation filmed for public consumption. Once the celebrities have had their turn, there will be ten weeks of the 'classic' series, featuring brave members of the public. And yes, Marcus Bentley will be back to provide the voiceover. Radio Times notes that we couldn't have Big Brother without 'its Geordie voiceover man' but, since Marcus was brought up in Stockton-on-Tees, he's about as Geordie as Davina McCall is. Meanwhile, the Daily Scum Express and the Daily Lies have their brown-tongues out and have been busy slurping off Richard Desmond's ring to bum up Channel Five's acquisition of a format which, frankly, is now as a stale as five day old stottie cake. Will it get the same sort of audiences it got on Channel Four? Time will tell but let's remember the reason Channel Four give it the old heave-ho in the first place - falling ratings.

The Story of British Pathé - 9:00 BBC4 - is a new series in which archive footage charts how the film and newsreel company chronicled life in Britain and around the world during the Twentieth Century, from lavish state occasions to global conflicts and major social issues. The series begins by examining the work of Pathé's cameramen, and reveals the techniques they employed are still in use today.

And finally for the week there's Jaycee: My Eighteen Years in Captivity - 10:00 Channel Four. This documentary exploring how Phillip Garrido was able to kidnap eleven-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard from outside her California home in 1991, hold her captive for eighteen years and father two daughters by her. Now free to tell her story, Jaycee presents her testimony, alongside new video evidence released by the District Attorney's Office, which provides details about how a parole officer inspected Garrido's house and failed to find her. The programme includes interviews with Garrido's lawyer, the local sheriff and Jaycee's stepfather Carl Probyn.

And so to the news: Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's producer, the legend that is Scunthorpe Steve Drayton his very self has written a superb, and thoughtful review of Gavin Webster's latest - controversial - live show at Gigglebeats. Although, be warned, there is some strong language used so only approach if you have an open mind and a high tolerance for profanity.

Rowan Atkinson, the comedian and petrol-head, was discharged from hospital on Friday after walking away from a crash in one of the world's fastest road cars – suffering no worse than an injured shoulder, some very expensive coach work and, perhaps, a bit of wounded pride. He left Peterborough City hospital in a wheelchair by the back door, flanked by security guards who attempted to block waiting photographers, and was driven away in a private ambulance. The accident happened when one of the stars of his large car collection, a maroon McLaren F1 – which he bought in 1997 for a reported six hundred and fifty thousand smackers, as a reward for the success of his Mr Bean film – apparently spun off the wet road on Thursday night and hit a tree and a lamppost. He had been travelling on the A605 near Haddon, Cambridgeshire, at around 7.30pm, at the time.
Rowan's agents, PBJ & JBJ, said that the actor would leave hospital 'sore but without serious injury,' that nobody else was involved in the accident, and that he had no comment to make at this time. Only a few weeks ago, when he clocked up the fastest guest star lap on the BBC Top Gear, Rowan had staunchly defended the McLaren to a presenter Jeremy Clarkson who used to have one himself. 'You've got to live with it. I have lived with it for fourteen years, I've done a lot of miles in it, I've done thirty seven thousand miles – which for a McLaren is a lot,' he said. He had previously loaned the car to the programme when it was driven by Richard Hammond without incident. In 1999, Atkinson damaged the bonnet of the car – which is capable of two hundred and thirty mph, and accelerates from nought to sixty in 3.2 seconds – in a low-speed shunt. The vehicle will probably be returned to the McLaren factory in Woking for repairs. A spokesman at the plant said: 'We are waiting to hear more details on the incident, and wish him well for his recovery in the mean time.' On screen and in real life, Atkinson has a serious car habit. As the hapless Bean he folds his long angular frame with difficulty into a Mini, but drives altogether flashier cars as his other alter ego, the Bond-lite spy Johnny English. He drove an Aston Martin in the first film, and alternates between a racing wheelchair and a Rolls-Royce with – as he boasted on Top Gear – a nine litre V16 engine in the new film, due for release next month. Atkinson also races cars from his extensive collection, including his 1964 Ford Falcon. He is also believed to own a 1980s Aston Martin V8 Zagato, an Audi A8 and, more boringly, a Honda Civic Hybrid. The latter, presumably, so that when he's in Hollywood he can talk to Gwyneth Paltrow and claims he's 'rilly into saving the planet too.'

Andrew Hall is leaving Coronation Street while Gwen Taylor and Paul Clayton join the Manchester production. Andrew who plays cross-dressing Marc Selby will leave Coronation Street at the end of August when his storyline comes to its natural conclusion. In the storyline Marc is wooing long-running character Audrey Roberts, played by Sue Nicholls. The story, while popular with Sue – she's described it as one of her most enjoyable in recent years – hasn't been met so warmly with Corrie viewers who note that the former mayoress of Weathefield wouldn't really entertain a bloke in a frock as its rather out of character for the salon owning widow of Alf. Despite the story being a miss with some viewers ITV Granada executives have dismissed any suggestion that the character was 'axed.' With or without a rear actual axe. The story was only due to run six months, they claim, and its has now reached a natural climax with the end being a blackmail plot which sees one resident threaten to expose Marc's alter ego of Marcia to all of Weatherfield. Meanwhile last week the soap revealed underwear-factory boss Frank Foster, played by Andrew Lancel, is to introduce his parents Anne and Johnny to his romantic interest and business partner, Carla Gordon. A Coronation Street spokesperson said: 'Johnny and Anne are pretty full on characters, like Frank. No sooner have they arrived than they're talking grandchildren which instantly freaks Carla out and tensions soon rise.' The forthcoming storyline, to broadcast in early September, sees the couple arrive for Frank and Carla's engagement party. 'Anne will be played by Gwen Taylor, fondly remembered from appearing in the classic ITV comedy Duty Free, and more recently as dishonest Peggy Armstrong in Heartbeat. Granada say, adding 'Joining her as Johnny is Paul Clayton - who previously appeared in Corrie as Mal Quillan in 2005. Paul is well known for a number of television roles and, as Mr Bartle, met a nasty end at the hands of the Ood in Doctor Who.'

Kristen Bell has revealed that she is happy not to be playing the lead role in Showtime's House of Lies. The actress, who played the title character in the excellent Veronica Mars from 2004 to 2007, told Zap2it that she no longer has any desire to be 'number one on the call sheet.' Bell said: 'I'd been searching for the right TV project [and] I knew I didn't want anything built around me. [Being the lead is] a very different workload than number two.' She continued: 'When you completely represent a show, there's so much more that's required of you. You're in every frame of the show, but there's also the publicity aspect that's a reality for us. There's just a lot more on your shoulders, a lot more pressure.' Bell added that she was eager to 'have fun' on House of Lies, which stars Don Cheadle as a ruthless management consultant. 'I didn't want [the show] to be sold on me,' she said. 'I wanted to be part of a good project. And I trust Matthew Carnahan, our creator, implicitly. I think he's very funny, he's very dark [and] he's very provocative.'

Patty Duke has signed up for a guest role in Hawaii Five-0. The actress will appear in one episode of the show's upcoming second season, Entertainment Weekly reports. Duke will play a woman suffering from Alzheimer's whose adult son is murdered. When the team go to inform her of his death, they realise that her illness means she believes her son is still a child. Duke, who won an Oscar for her role in The Miracle Worker, previously guest starred in an episode of the original Hawaii Five-0 in 1973. Her own vehicle The Patty Duke Show ran from 1963 to 1966. More recently, Duke signed up for a role in Lifetime's drama The Protector. William Baldwin, Tom Sizemore, Lauren German, Richard T Jones and Terry O'Quinn are among the other actors who will appear in the new season of Hawaii Five-0.

And, speaking of American screen legends Lily Tomlin has dropped hints about her upcoming role on NCIS. The Damages and West Wing actress will appear in the show's ninth season as the grandmother of Tim McGee (Sean Murray). Tomlin told TV Line: 'She's a scientist, and she's very sharp. She was an admiral's wife for many decades, and she's the mother of McGee's father. It was a really good part, and I was really delighted to get it.' Tomlin added that McGee does not have an 'overly emotional' relationship with his grandmother Penelope. 'They're a military family, and they're very science-minded,' she said. 'But we have this opportunity [to change that].' Tomlin continued: 'He's has kind of a breakthrough. [Penelope] makes a connection with him, and we both come to a new place.' NCIS showrunner Gary Glasberg insisted that he is 'really happy' with Tomlin's performance. '[She's part of a] really fun, big, McGee-centric episode,' he said. 'I hope that maybe we can get her to come back [in the future].'

House creator David Shore has confirmed that Olivia Wilde will play a minimal role in the show's eighth season. The actress who plays Thirteen on the FOX medical drama, appeared in just seven episodes last season due to her film commitments. 'She will not appear a lot next season unfortunately,' Shore told TV Line. 'She's a movie star now.' He added that Wilde is currently expected to appear in 'something like' one or two episodes of the new run. 'I regret losing her, but, again, this was not our choice,' he said. 'Things happened at the end of last season that I wasn't happy about and I hadn't planned for.' However, Shore insisted that he is 'very happy' with the coming season, which will introduce new regular characters played by Odette Annable and Charlyne Yi. 'This has turned out to be a real opportunity,' he claimed. 'We're really doing some cool stuff at the start of the season and it's pumped some fresh blood into the show.' FOX chiefs, meanwhile, have confessed that they are unsure whether House will return for a ninth season. President Kevin Reilly shared the network's dedication to making sure that the show will 'go out strong' at a Television Critics Association conference on Friday. On the show potentially continuing past 2012, he stated: 'Hugh Laurie is mulling it and the producers are. This is the original team that has been there from the get-go, which has kept the quality so strong. They want to go out strong, so we're gonna revisit it in the fall and decide if this will be the last year. Universal may decide if they want to take the show somewhere else. My sense is that this is a show that wants to go out strong and not limp along.' Reilly also cast doubt upon a mooted House spin-off, clarifying: 'There's no plans right now. There's only been abstract discussions. I don't really see that happening.'

Grimm, Covert Affairs and Suits have been picked up by UKTV. Grimm, which is due to premiere in the US in October, will be broadcast on UKTV's channel Watch, Broadcast reports. The show stars David Giuntoli as a detective who begins to see humans as magical breasts. Silas Weir Mitchell and Sasha Roiz are also in the cast. Grimm is due to premiere on Watch early next year. Suits, which is currently in the middle of its first season in America, will be broadcast on Dave. It stars Patrick J Adams as a college dropout who is hired by a top Manhattan lawyer, and is due to be broadcast in the UK early next year. Elsewhere, Covert Affairs - starring Piper Perabo as a CIA trainee - will be broadcast on UKTV's Really. The show is the first scripted content to air on the channel. Covert Affairs, which recently completed its second season in the States, is scheduled to premiere in the UK in November.

Broadcaster and Labour party activist Sally Bercow has dismissed reports that she is going to enter the Celebrity Big Brother house. Bercow, who is married to the Speaker of the House of Commons, was criticised as 'shameless' for agreeing to take part by the Daily Scum Mail newspaper. 'Sally is obviously not shy and has never made it a secret that she has views on nearly absolutely everything,' a 'source' allegedly told the publication. 'It's fair to say that she's a professional antagonist – the house will not be boring with Sally in it.' However, Bercow laughed off the story on Twitter and criticised the newspaper for claiming that her husband should 'rein' her in. 'Now seriously tempted to go on Big Brother as riposte to those banging on about "dignity of the Speaker's office." I am not the Speaker,' she said. 'Love the Daily Fail - who knew it was 1950 and men should "rein in their women."' She added: 'Anyway, enough of this excitement, I'm meant to be packing (for Devon, not Big Brother - chill out Daily Fail).'

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire host Chris Tarrant has suggested ITV bosses are too obsessed with series starring 'celebrities.' Or, to be more accurate 'desperate former Z-Lisers' in most cases. Speaking on BBC radio, Tarrant said; 'At the moment there's no shows for members of the public and I think that's wrong. I'm constantly arguing with ITV about it. I think the celebrity versions are the icing on the cake. But I think they are missing the cake.' While ITV continue to broadcast 'public participant' programming in daytime, such as Britain's Best Dish, prime time ITV has seen a swing towards celebrity versions of game shows which were once home to everyday people winning – or losing out on – large sums of money such as Family Fortunes, Mr & Mrs and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. 'I think it is still about giving little old ladies twenty five grand that will completely change their life,' Tarrant said. 'And I think we've kind of lost sight of that. It's got to be live, it's got to be celebs, it's got to be charity and all that. That's fine and they get big audiences. But giving little old ladies twenty five grand that will completely change their life,' Tarrant said. 'And I think we've kind of lost sight of that. It's got to be live, it's got to be celebs, it's got to be charity and all that. That's fine and they get big audiences. But I still think they should be doing good old Millionaire with members of the public.'

Comedy Central has apologised after broadcast a repeat of an episode of Live At The Apollo which included jokes about Amy Winehouse. The Monday night episode, which was originally broadcast several years ago, saw comedian Patrick Kielty making a series of gags about the singer. According to the Daily Record, he described her as 'dirty' and said: 'She looks like she has pissed in more sinks than she has washed in.' However, some viewers reportedly complained about the decision to repeat the programme following Winehouse's death last month. Comedy Central has now apologised for broadcasting the show, saying: 'We would like to apologise for any distress caused. The airing of this episode was an oversight and all future transmissions of the content have been cancelled.' So, it would seem that you can tell a joke about someone until they die at which point they become a saint and cannot be lampooned in any way shape or form. See also Goody, Saint Jade. I'd've had a lot more respect for Comedy Central's position here if they'd criticised the joke when it was first told rather than some years later.

Steven Moffat has given the first hint of what Doctor Who fans can expect from this year's Christmas Special. The writer and producer gave the tease in an interview with SFX magazine and while it hardly gives anything away at all its the first time this year's Christmas Special has been talked about publicly. 'It will be as Christmassy as Hell. I might be cleverly redeploying a known Christmas story again, sort of ... but probably not the one you think! It will be massively Christmassy and moving and sentimental and sweet. It'll be set partly on Earth, but not completely. And it might have a period setting.' The special is due to begin filming in September. It has already been confirmed that Matt Smith and Karen Gillan have signed up for the new series but as yet there's been no word on whether Arthur Darvill will be returning for season seven or not. The Christmas Specials usually attract big name guest stars (Kylie Minogue, Katherine Jenkins, David Morrissey, Michael Gambon etc.) so that's a 'tradition' we should probably expect to continue.

A manor house in Wiltshire is to be completely restored for a new BBC1 series presented by Penelope Keith. The four hour-long episodes will see the National Trust property Avebury Manor refurbished by a team of historians, experts, and volunteers. Keith, who played snobbish aristocrat Audrey fforbes-Hamilton in the sitcom To The Manor Born, will be joined by Flog It! presenter Paul Martin. To the Manor Reborn will be broadcast later in the year. The series will follow the refurbishment of the five hundred-year-old property in Avebury as it is brought back to life. Teams of craftsmen, furniture makers and interior design experts will restore the interior of the Grade I listed house to reflect its long history. BBC1 controller Danny Cohen said: 'Our partnership with the National Trust on this ambitious project encapsulates so many of the BBC's ambitions. The channel aims to keep engaging audiences in new ways and this series offers them the chance to follow the story on screen, and to experience it first hand.' Sarah Staniforth, the museums and collections director for the National Trust, said: 'It is not only a unique opportunity to engage viewers in the history of interior design and architecture but is also a way for the trust to push the boundaries in bringing properties to life.' Among the guests on To The Manor Reborn will be architectural expert Dan Cruickshank and gardener David Howard. Avebury Manor will be closed for much of the year while the series is being filmed. It will be reopened as an 'immersive experience' in the autumn.

Police officers who allegedly took payments from newspapers and private investigators could face hefty fines and criminal prosecution after it emerged HM Revenue & Customs is reopening personal tax records to check if payments were fully disclosed. The Gruniad says that is understood HMRC has already begun probing self-assessment forms from previous years in the wake of new information obtained amid the phone-hacking revelations. Last month Sir Paul Stephenson, the outgoing Metropolitan police commissioner, said documents provided by News International appear to include information on 'inappropriate payments' to police officers. It was reported that the company provided the Met with details of payments made by the News of the World to senior officers between 2003 and 2007. Under HMRC rules any payments earned in connection with an individual's employment are required to be disclosed for tax purposes, even if the payment is deemed illegal. An HMRC spokesperson told the newspaper that he could not confirm the nature or extent of any investigation into a private individual's tax affairs. But he confirmed that HMRC will act on any new information and that illegal earnings can still be liable for tax. Action to recover tax from police officers paid illegal tip-off fees relies on the precedent set by the 'Miss Whiplash' prostitution case of the early 1990s, which has since entered the HMRC rule book. Miss Whiplash, who also went by the name of Lindi St Clair, was pursued for one hundred and twelve thousand smackers in unpaid income tax in the late 1980s. It culminated in a court case in 1990 where she argued that since it was illegal to live on immoral earnings, taxing her would be committing an offence. She lost the case and was subsequently declared bankrupt. An HMRC spokesman said: 'If you receive money in connection with your employment then it is liable for income tax. Illegality is irrelevant.' Over the past year HMRC has intensified investigations into alleged tax cheats and promised to increase the number of prosecutions. Since April HMRC has had powers to name and shame anyone found to have deliberately evaded twenty five grand or more in tax. The scheme will see names, addresses and details of the evasion made public. But those who come clean can avoid having their details published. Earlier this year the government gave HMRC with an additional nine hundred million quid to fund more investigations into tax evasion. The aim is to raise an additional seven billion smackers in tax each year by 2014-15. HMRC has also gained new powers to inspect taxpayers' records and documents. In a typical investigation it will examine income and earnings dating back six years. If it discovers an individual has knowingly submitted an inaccurate return or document, or taken active steps to conceal earnings, it can demand repayment of the tax, plus interest and a penalty of up to one hundred per cent of the unpaid tax. The department recently announced the targeting of the restaurant industry with a new task force dedicated to detecting tax and national insurance evasion. But it added that criminal prosecutions were reserved only for the most serious cases of high level fraud.

Poor old BBC reporter Andy Moore and his cameraman got into a spot of bother tonight covering the riot in Tottenham in the early hours of Sunday morning where, overnight, riots saw petrol bombs thrown at officers and patrol cars and buildings set alight. It's been reported that both The BBC and Sky News have since pulled their camera teams away from the scene.
Eight injured police officers were taken in hospital, at least one of them with head injuries. The unrest began after a protest over the fatal shooting by police of twenty nine-year-old Mark Duggan on Thursday. About three hundred people gathered outside the police station on the High Road after demonstrators demanded 'justice.'

Period TV police drama Inspector George Gently will be broadcast for the first time on US television early next year. It stars Martin Shaw as a 1960s Scotland Yard detective relocated to the North of England.
Broadcast rights to the show, produced by Company Pictures for the BBC, will be managed in the US by Acorn Media, which has released the first three series on DVD in North America. George Gently will be shown on public television across the country at various times, depending on the market and station. The deal with Company's parent company All3Media follows Acorn's success on DVD and TV in the US with the long-running Midsomer Murders. Company originated the TV shows Skins and Shameless, and with George Gently, Acorn Media US Programming VP Don Klees said the production firm 'has delivered perfect content for US audiences, offering strong character-based drama and gripping storylines set in an iconic era.' Based on a series of crime novels by Alan Hunter and scripted by Peter Flannery (Funny Bones, The Devil's Whore, Our Friends in the North), George Gently tells of crimes investigated by a tough London police officer in Northumberland. Shaw, of course, won international success as the bepermed CI5 agent Doyle in the long-running 1970s action series The Professionals costarring Lewis Collins and Gordon Jackson and he had the title role from 2001-2007 in the TV legal series, Judge John Deed.

Paddy McGuinness has confessed that he was once rushed to hospital for sitting on a chilli during what he described as 'a kitchen sex session.' The Take Me Out host recalled how 'a heated bout of love-making' with his wife, Christine Martin, was cut short when his bare buttocks 'came into contact with the remains of their dinner.' Yeah, yeah. Isn't all this a bit like all those people who turn up at hospitals with their knob stuck in a milk bottle who claim that they slipped on the step whilst putting the empties out? 'Christine had been chopping chillies on the surface and I sat on it,' the Sun quotes him as saying. 'A&E was the next stop. I know you're supposed to keep your love life spicy but this was taking the piss. I leapt onto the kitchen worktop like a young Tom Jones. A nanosecond and half a scotch bonnet later, I found myself dancing around the floor like Diversity on crack. Which, ironically, was where the scotch bonnet seeds were now secreted. Never again!' Or, indeed, never before.

Andrew Flintoff has revealed that his wife banned him from making a second series of Freddie Versus The World. The ITV4 show followed the former England cricketer as he took on a variety of extreme challenges across the globe. Although Flintoff himself found the adventures 'really good fun,' he confessed that Versus The World would not return due to his wife Rachael's fears for his safety. 'That show was really good fun, although I did manage to break two ribs,' he told the Sun. 'ITV want me to do a second series, but the missus is not that happy about it. She only knew what I'd been doing when she watched it on TV, and just sort of said, "Why?"' A 'family friend' allegedly added: 'Rachael lets Freddie get on with his own stuff, and because he does lots of media work she didn't really know what the last series was about. When she saw Freddie Versus The World for the first time, she was really concerned that he shouldn't be doing something that dangerous. When the option came up for the second series, Rachael made it perfectly clear that neither she nor the children want to see him putting himself at risk again.' This, ladies and gentlemen, concerning a man who once faced Brett Lee bowling at over a hundred miles an hour with his knackers protected only by a small piece of plastic!

The actor Neil Morrissey is demanding damages of one hundred thousand pounds over a Disgraceful Daily Scum Mail story claiming he had been banned from a French bar for 'rowdy and drunken behaviour.' Morrissey has accused publishers Associated Newspapers of making defamatory allegations in the March story headed 'Man behaving badly: TV star banned from bar near his idyllic French retreat after locals object to "le binge drinking"'. He is also suing over an online version of the same story which also alleged he had been banned from one of the most popular bars near his home in France because of his drunken behaviour. The story claimed that he was 'a bad influence' who 'encouraged anti-social binge drinking.' In a High Court writ, Morrissey said the claims injured his reputation and caused him embarrassment and distress. He also argued that a five hundred thousand pound valuation of his home made in the article was damaging because he had made an individual voluntary arrangement with his creditors, and the figure suggested he had given a false undervaluation of the property. Before the story was run his solicitors e-mailed the paper saying he had no knowledge of any poster referring to him being displayed in the bar, denied being drunken or rowdy, and insisted he had only had a couple of drinks. He also raised concerns that the paper should not disclose the location of his French home because it would infringe his right to privacy, and that the paper published pictures of his home. Morrissey said that the stories were published despite these denials, and that he was further insulted by the fact they were dismissed by the paper and not included in the story. The paper had also 'insulted and embarrassed' him by implicitly dismissing his assertion that five hundred thousand pounds was an overvaluation for his home as a lie, and exposed him to embarrassment and distress by publishing the claim. The paper took four weeks to respond to two letters of complaint and then disingenuously claimed the stories had been 'sympathetic' to him, he alleges. Morrissey is seeking damages and aggravated damages, and an injunction banning repetition of the allegations at the centre of his lawsuit.

Simon Cowell has declared that he is 'sorry' for the 'hurt' he caused Cheryl Cole during The X Factor USA judging saga. The fifty one-year-old bumped Cole from the FOX competition's judging panel in favour of Nicole Scherzinger mere days after her appointment. The Girls Aloud singer then rejected his offer to return to the UK version of the show and declared that their relationship was 'through.' Cowell has now claimed that the pair are edging closer to a reconciliation and insisted that he never intended to jeopardise Cole's status in the UK. 'I am sorry the way it worked out as we were incredibly close,' he told Life & Style Weekly. 'Trying to get her to understand what I did, it was never meant to be negative. It was a decision I thought was the right one. Maybe I didn't give her enough time, and you have to be in the moment. She is still grumpy with me. I can look myself in the mirror and say I wasn't being mean. I offered her a lot of money to go back [to the UK] as a hero, and it didn't work out.'

The makers of a TV series about an Amazon tribe have strongly rejected claims that it included fake scenes and mistranslated interviews designed to negatively portray the tribe as 'sex-obsessed, mean savages.' Earlier this week two alleged experts on the Matsigenka tribe – Dr Glenn Shepard and Ron Snell – launched a scathing attack on the documentary Mark & Olly: Living with the Machigenga. The pair claimed that numerous elements of the show, which aired on BBC Knowledge in South Africa and the Travel Channel in the US, were 'staged, false, fabricated and distorted.' But Oliver Steeds, the adventurer and presenter who lived with the group for several months and spent time with two other tribes in previous productions in the Living With... series, said he would 'never seek to misrepresent the Matsigenka or any other indigenous group. My purpose and my record working with indigenous peoples speaks to the facts,' said Steeds. 'I worked with the Matsigenka and other indigenous people because I believe that fair and accurate reporting of their lives and informing an audience of their cultures and history contributes significantly to their survival and strengthens their cause for their self-determined rights to life.' A joint statement refuting the claims was issued by FremantleMedia, which distributed the show, and Travel Channel. It was accompanied by a statement from Frances Berrigan, the former managing director of the now-defunct Cicada Productions, which made the show. FremantleMedia Enterprises and Travel Channel said that after a 'thorough investigation' into the allegations they believe that the programme 'represents fair reflections' of the tribe. '[We] remain satisfied that the programme was made to exacting and professional standards and the events and descriptions appearing on screen represent fair reflections, both of the tribe and the experience of living with them,' the companies said in a statement. 'The accusations referred to by Survival International are almost entirely opinion based or concern matters which are highly subjective and open to personal interpretation and as such are rejected.' Shepard, who published an article in Anthropology News on the alleged misrepresentations, said the six-part series was an example of 'reality TV reach[ing] new depths of irresponsibility. I wonder what Living with the Machigenga was modelled on. Borat comes to mind,' he added. Examples of alleged misrepresentation included inaccurate references to the sex life of the tribe as well as their supposed hostile attitude to outsiders. Other accusations include 'staging' events, such as a pig dance which Snell said he had never heard of in thirty five years of living in the tribe's villages, and scenes such as initiation trials, being forced to sleep outside and taking psychoactive drinks before going on a 'phony' pilgrimage. Fremantle Media and Travel Channel said that all translations were carried out by indigenous staff, not handled in post-production in London, and that traditions and rituals in the series were represented 'without any exaggeration. During production of the Machigenga series, as with all our productions, Cicada took very seriously its responsibility to respect the culture, history, lifestyle and privacy of the community that so generously shared its home and traditions,' said Berrigan. She added that the production company worked in 'close co-operation' with the Centre for the Development of Amazonian Indians, a Peruvian non-governmental organisation with strong ties to the Machigenga community. 'Cicada never paid members of any indigenous community to participate in its productions, but we always paid individuals who provided professional services, such as translators, medics, guides and location managers,' she said.

Critical talks between the Premier League and Football League over how matches will be covered by national newspapers and news agencies have broken down at the eleventh hour, threatening to disrupt press coverage of the opening games of the season. The two sides have been locked in negotiations for several months to negotiate what rights reporters, photographers and clients who take content from news agencies such as Reuters and the Press Association will have to cover Premiership and Football League matches this season. The talks are understood to have broken down on Wednesday night after representatives of the football governing bodies walked away from discussions about a new agreement, with disagreements centring on aspects such as how fast pictures can appear and on how real-time match blogs operate. Instead, the Premier League tabled a deal that the media coalition claims places highly restrictive limits on the use of news content produced at football grounds. 'They run to sixteen pages of legal constraints, which among other things include league controls on how and when news can be published online – and how news material can be distributed to fans at home and overseas,' the media coalition said in a statement. 'In many instances they also require users of content to obtain and pay for permission from the leagues for their coverage.' The media coalition, made of representatives from national newspapers and news agencies, is understood to have been seeking to get the existing agreement, which dates back to the 2003-04 season, changed as it feels the deal is outdated for a digital age and some elements are unfair. '[The Premier League] seem to have just been wanting to run down the clock to table the same, unacceptable, deal as before,' said one source with knowledge of the negotiations. 'They are trying to hold a gun to the head of the media.' The football bodies, however, say that there was never a final 'take it or leave it' proposal put to the media coalition. They say that they never broke off negotiations and see the move to issue a statement saying talks are dead as a negotiating tactic to force their agenda on a range of media accreditation rules. Previously, news agencies and national newspapers had brokered separate deals with the football bodies. The coalition has been trying to remove clauses about 'delay and volume windows' which control the amount of text and pictures that can be published online and when they are allowed to appear. The coalition argues that in a digital age with new media tools such as blogs, Twitter and Flickr available to any member of the public, the idea of limiting newspapers and news agencies coverage is not realistic. It is understood that the football bodies were aiming to insert a new clause that would not allow a journalist who is reporting live from a match to interact with readers or have elements such as comments enabled. Another issue is that under the previous agreement with news agencies – but not that struck with national newspapers – there was a need for what is known as a separate end-user licence for any media outlet looking to take content on matches. The coalition has threatened that agency and newspaper coverage of football could be disrupted as a result. 'In the absence of meaningful discussions, news organisations are in the process of identifying how best to serve their readers including loyal fans with independent news and analysis,' the group said. The media coalition said that talks have broken down and that the football bodies have refused to even consider the latest proposals. The negotiators say that a letter written to members of the coalition from the football bodies stating that discussions are continuing is not true. 'This is inaccurate,' the coalition said in a statement. 'The talks are not ongoing, they have broken down.' While the coalition says it is ready to restart discussions, there is a chance that coverage of matches could be disrupted. The football bodies say that in order to give both sides more time to reach a deal – they believe that a deal agreeable to both sides can be struck but that it will require a little over-run into the start of the season – they offered media organisations a limited extension of the existing usage regulations. While the old deal is not palatable to the media coalition, the football bodies say it was offered with a right of termination, of say seven days notice, proving that it was not a tactic designed to strongarm the media into accepting an unfavourable agreement. Rights holders and the media industry have had a number of run-ins over accreditation and usage of content. Last year, Southampton Football Club tried to introduce a ban on photographers covering home games, stating that all images had to come from its own photographers on normal commercial terms. In response, the Sun ran a highly critical report of Southampton's first fixture of the season, headlined Opposition 0, Plymouth 1. The Plymouth Herald ran illustrations in the style of a Roy of the Rovers cartoon. In 2008, Reuters, Associated Press and AFP suspended coverage of Cricket Australia matches and events because of a dispute over accreditation terms. Before the 2007 Rugby World Cup, a number of international agencies boycotted coverage of pre-tournament events over a media rights dispute with the International Rugby Board. The Sun used images from the 2003 World Cup to illustrate a double-page spread. The negotiations for media have been led by the Newspaper Publishers Association – which counts Associated Newspapers, the Independent, Trinity Mirra, News International, the Financial Times, Torygraph and Gruniad News & Media as members – and the News Media Coalition which also includes news agencies such as Reuters, Associated Press, AFP and the Press Association. 'Neither the Premier League nor the Football League will offer comment on active and in good faith negotiations,' said a spokesman.

Now this is pretty embarrassing. Sadly for road painters, any mistake they make becomes extremely public and rather permanent. This is what a recently painted 'KEEP CLEAR' road marking looks like in Kingswinford, West Midlands:
A Swedish man has admitted that he was 'pretty stupid' for setting up a nuclear reactor in his home kitchen. Richard Handl, from Angelholm, was questioned by police after he conducted a six-month experiment to recreate a working reactor. 'I had it under control, it was not so dangerous,' Handl told BBC News. 'It was pretty stupid.' The unemployed thirty one-year-old said that he had simply been 'curious,' but would stick to theoretical work from now on. Handl was discovered after calling the local radiation authority to check whether or not his experiment was legal. Police were then called to his flat where they confiscated his scientific material as well as his computer. It is unknown whether there will be any other legal ramifications from Handl's experiment.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. I've still got Smiths things going, this week dear blog reader. So, I suppose, we'd better have another one of their masterpieces. Introduced by an twelve-year-old Andy Kershaw on Whistle Test.