Thursday, September 01, 2011

Commencing Countdown, Engines On

First up today, an announcement. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping can confirm that as of today he officially recognises the NTC as the legitimate government of Libya. Now, can I have some oil please? (I'm indebted to my old mate Mietek for that joke.)

The two TV sports production companies employed by Channel Four for the World Athletics Championships have distanced themselves from the shambles surrounding lead presenter Ortis Deley being ditched according to claims made by the Daily Scum Mail. IMG Sports Media and Sunset+Vine, who have excellent reputations to protect, pleaded with C4 to appoint 'a seasoned professional' as host rather than 'the hapless Deley, who was replaced after three days of gaffes.' But Channel Four, who say it's part of their mandate to give opportunities to new presenters, ignored the advice. The station admitted they had got it wrong with The Gadget Show host Deley anchoring the live coverage, but still intend to look for fresh talent to help present the London 2012 Paralympics. A Channel Four spokesperson said: 'We accept the position we put Ortis in was exposed but we have moved swiftly to change things. We are still committed to finding new broadcasting faces for the Paralympics.' However, it’s not just over the host presenter that production teams have their differences with C4, who have TV rights to the 2013 World Championships as well. They are also complaining about C4 deciding to bail out of the men's pole vault final with two rounds remaining - 'Imagine the BBC doing that,' said a high-level source - and budget restrictions meaning a cheap-looking highlights programme has to show the events in chronological order. A Channel Four 'insider' on Tuesday night allegedly described their debut showing at the world championships - the BBC have covered all previous editions - as 'beyond embarrassment', even though the pundits, led by Michael Johnson, and the commentators, headed by John Rawling, have been broadly well-received by viewers. As the Gruniad note, we should spare a thought for poor Ortis himself. To say Deley struggled in the live broadcast environment is something of an understatement, unable to get the names of the commentators right, let alone the athletes, in this compilation of his less than finest moments. 'It's our commentators Rob Rawling and John ... John Rawling and Rob Walker, sorry fellas ...' We're sure Deley will bounce back. But who at Channel Four decided to give him the gig in the first place? It was like putting a Blue Peter presenter in charge of the General Election coverage. 'The pole vault ... would you fancy running down a strip carrying a pole some five metres long, planting it and then propelling yourself to the height of a route... of a roof of the average house? It's definitely not an event for me.' No, me neither.

Matt Smith has insisted that he won't be typecast once he leaves Doctor Who. The twenty eight-year-old predicted that he shouldn't have trouble landing roles that are distinctly different from Doctor Who's Time Lord. 'I don't think good actors get typecast. In ten years' time I'll be playing very different parts than I am playing now. So there is plenty of time for me to evolve as an actor,' the Daily Record quotes him as saying. Smith also revealed that playing The Doctor is particularly rewarding because the character continues to change with every new adventure into space and time. 'I can never relax because I'm always pushing myself to the highest level but it's nice to enjoy the fact people have accepted me as The Doctor and enjoy the things I do,' he explained. 'I think he's grown. I hope people see growth. I think he should always be evolving.'

Jonathan Ross is no stranger to criticism by the Daily Scum Mail. Anticipating the paper's response to his new ITV chat show, Ross has got his revenge in early (it's what military tacticians called a pre-emptive strike), branding its journalists 'noxious human beings' and 'insincere hypocrites.' Talking ahead of the launch of his new series on Saturday, Ross defended his controversial questioning of guests such as David Cameron and Gwyneth Paltrow on his BBC1 show. He said 'going too far' was part of his job, especially for a pre-recorded broadcast because it could always be edited afterwards. But as the BBC found out with Sachsgate – which irreparably damaged Ross's relationship with the corporation and was prompted by a front-page story in the Daily Scum Mail's sister title, the Scum Mail on Sunday – that is not always a guaranteed safety net. 'We don't like it, no one likes it,' said Ross of criticism in the Scum Mail, speaking on Richard Bacon's Radio 5Live show on Wednesday. 'But at the same time you do have to be realistic and say are the people writing that people whose opinions you respect? If they are not you really have to let it go. They are not people I respect and I can't see how they can have any respect for themselves.' Of his 2006 question to Cameron – he asked the Tory leader whether he had masturbated while thinking about Margaret Thatcher – Ross said: 'I thought it was a funny question and I would do that again. The audience laughed and he didn't have a problem with it. Who's got a problem with that? I'll tell you who's got a problem with that – the Daily Mail. Well if you are not upsetting the Daily Mail you are doing something wrong. They are the most noxious human beings, the people who write for the Daily Mail. We know they are hypocrites and insincere and they have got their own reasons for doing stuff.' He predicted the Scum Mail would have already written their story about his ITV show and 'will just fill in the details around it. It won't bother me because I know where it is coming from. It's a joke, it's ridiculous of course they are going to say something negative about me,' said Ross. 'They turned me into this cartoon character of arrogance anyway, so they are going to continue to perpetrate that stereotype which is not really true.' Ross defended his interview with Paltrow in 2008 when he said he would have sex with the actor because she was 'gagging for it.' 'If you look back it got laughs on the night and not that many complaints. She wasn't uncomfortable with that, she was playing along and leading me in that direction,' added Ross. 'Maybe the language itself sounded a little brutal maybe. That's what it was, it was a fun moment. I'm not saying I would do that on ITV. The show is on slightly earlier.' Asked if he had ever gone too far, Ross said: 'I'm sure I have but that's partly what you are meant to do especially when you are doing a show that isn't live because you can edit it afterwards.' Ross revealed that he had been offered a breakfast show on a rival radio station since leaving the BBC, but had declined. 'The idea of doing a breakfast show was appealing in some ways. But what a big change in your life that would bring about. I was in two minds about it and in the end the saner mind won.' Ross said he left the BBC last year by 'mutual consen'" and claimed the corporation could have done more to defend him at the height of the controversy over his pay packet. 'Partly I left and partly I was asked to leave,' he told Bacon. 'I think it was unhelpful they [the BBC] didn't turn round and say "yes, that's what he's worth to us … and we stand by that decision." They should have decided what they wanted to say about it and have said it. They kind of hedged and fudged the issue.' He denied saying the oft-quoted remark, attributed to him when he was presenting the British Comedy Awards, that he was worth one thousand journalists. 'I never said that. I said "Apparently I am worth one thousand journalists." I was commenting on a piece that was written in a newspaper. It is ridiculous that you would compare someone who is a journalist to someone who is hosting their own show named after them. They are not doing the same job,' he said.

With just a week to go until the return of Question Time, host David Dimbleby still has yet to sign a new contract with the BBC. Production of the flagship BBC1 show has moved to Glasgow as part of a BBC initiative to make fifty per cent of its content outside the capital by 2016. Dimbleby is upset about the move and has declined to sign a new contract, although he is in talks to present a new landmark BBC1 series about the history of British television. It is understood other issues have also dogged negotiations, including which key political and state events Dimbleby has been offered by the BBC. Although he has not signed a new contract, Dimbleby will continue to host Question Time and it is understood that he will be paid on a show-by-show basis. One source said: 'David has still not signed but he will return as host.' Question Time is returning on 8 September with a new editor, the former editor of BBC Radio Scotland's breakfast programme, Nicolai Gentchev, after the previous editor Ed Havard left following the announcement of the move to Scotland. The first show will be broadcast from London, before moving to venues around the country including Salford and Winchester. Despite the show's production being moved to Glasgow, viewers are not expected to notice any difference on screen when Question Time returns, apart from in the closing credits.

The BBC has announced plans to tour the UK this month showcasing archive film from local areas, while also offering people the chance to 'star' in their own bit of film history. The Reel History of Britain Experience will travel to Glasgow, Grimsby, Peterborough and Leicester throughout September, holding screenings of archive films and allowing visitors to learn more about their own local archives. Old cameras, film stock and technology will be available to explore, and visitors can get dressed up to appear in their own archive film using a green screen. The tour has been organised by BBC Learning's Hands on History team and is accompanied by a new twenty-part BBC2 series, titled The Reel History of Britain, premiering on 5 September. Presented by Melvyn Bragg, the series retells the stories of life in Britain from 1900 to 1970 using archive material from the British Film Institute and other national and regional film archives. Bragg said: 'At the turn of the last century one invention changed the way we recall our history forever - the motion camera. Thanks to Britain's pioneering film-makers, we can still glimpse a world long gone.' Nina Bell, BBC Learning's Hands on History campaign executive, added: 'The event is about connecting people with their past through film. For people of all ages, it's amazing to see footage from when they were little and to see how much has changed from past hardships to the simple pleasures of British life. But it's also about sharing stories and memories as a family, ensuring that our history is handed down from generation to generation.'

Rob Lowe has said that he 'immersed' himself in endless amounts of footage featuring Drew Peterson in order to prepare himself to play the accused murderer in an upcoming Lifetime biopic. The former West Wing actor explained that studying the clips allowed him to get more into Peterson's frame of mind and understand who he is as a person. Lowe told Access Hollywood: 'The good news is there's hours and hours of footage, so I had a library to cull through of Drew Peterson interviews and stuff shot. So I just immersed myself in that for weeks and weeks and weeks. I think it's gonna be interesting. It's a total departure.' Lowe added that he had 'fun' taking on the role because it is completely different to his Parks and Recreation character Chris Traeger. 'It was really fun for me to do something so different, and that's what's great about this moment in my life is I'm really able to go from one extreme to the other. Drew Peterson and Chris Traeger literally could not be more different,' he said.

A blue plaque dedicated to Dad's Army star Arthur Lowe was unveiled at his Derbyshire birthplace by his co-star Ian Lavender. Lavender, who played Private Pike in the long-running sitcom, was in Hayfield to lead the tribute to the much-loved actor. The ceremony was organised by Derbyshire County Council following a vote on its website. Lavender said he thought Lowe would have been 'chuffed' with the honour.

And now ... Daybreakwatch
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Next week, of course, marks the first anniversary for Daybreak. Remember when it started how it was going to be 'a breakfast show like we'd never seen before?' It was - and remains - certainly that all right.

The BBC's director of policy and strategy John Tate has been confirmed as the new chairman of the corporation's studios and post-production business. BBC Studios and Post Production is the largest studios and post-production facilities provider in the UK, offering world-class solutions to the media industry. The division, led by chief executive Mark Thomas, works with more than two hundred and fifty media companies to create content across a range of genres for broadcasters from its sites at Television Centre, Elstree and Bristol. The business has just enjoyed its best ever year, delivering the highest profit since it was formed in 1993. Tate becomes the new chairman of S&PP from this week, taking over from John Smith, the hugely successful chief executive of BBC Worldwide, who has acted as chairman since 2008. 'I am delighted to be taking on the chairmanship at this exciting time and trying to build on the very strong performance last year,' said Tate. 'I am looking forward to seeing the business continue to explore new opportunities across the media industry, and to help in its delivery of high quality services to all the company's partners.' As the BBC's director of policy and strategy, Tate oversees a team supporting the corporation's regulatory relationship with the BBC Trust and media watchdog Ofcom. Prior to joining the BBC, he was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company and the PA Consulting Group, specialising in strategy development and implementation.

BBC3 is to all but stop commissioning for pre-watershed slots at precisely the moment E4 puts resource into 8pm for the first time. The youth channels are employing polar opposite strategies, as the BBC learns to cope with a constrained budget while E4 flexes its financial muscle post-Friends. BBC3 controller Zai Bennett confirmed he was axing Remarkable Television's Hotter Than My Daughter, and the future of Snog Marry Avoid? is in doubt following a review of the channel's 7pm-9pm programming. There is a possibility the 'make-under' show could return with significant editorial changes, Bennett said, although if that happens, it will be pushed further back in the schedule. Bennett told Broadcast magazine that he would be filling the pre-watershed slots almost entirely with repeats from BBC1 and other BBC3 shows. 'It's about focusing my budget on 9pm and 10.30pm; those are the time slots that count. Budgets are tight, so we have to be sensible with the money we have,' he said. While BBC3 is retreating from the space, E4 is investing in it for the first time, largely thanks to the one thousand-hour gap left by Friends. Channel Four chief creative officer Jay Hunt told delegates at the Edinburgh TV Festival that she was prioritising non-scripted factual and entertainment at 8pm on the back of the success of shows like Made In Chelsea. The channel is particularly keen to find dating shows and quizzes, earmarked for 8pm, which has for years been home to the long-running US sitcom. She also revealed an eight part 'irreverent comedy panel show' Dirty Digest, which is made by Running Bare and will run in a late night slot. It will be presented by The Fashion Show's Michelle de Swarte. E4 channel manager Paul Mortimer previously told Broadcast that the 8pm slot would see the biggest change after the Friends licence expired, adding the team was 'rapidly developing ideas.'

The BBC is facing another attack on its funding, with the Scottish government calling for seventy five million macwonga to be ring-fenced from the licence fee to fund a national PSB. The SNP is also understood to be considering options for taking even more control over the licence fee, with a view to ultimately devolving Scotland's proportionate take of the licence fee, which currently stands at around three hundred and fifteen million smackers. A committee charged with assessing amendments to the Scotland bill, including a demand for licence fee funding to set up a national PSB and a formal role for the Scottish Parliament in the BBC's Charter, is to begin hearing evidence in late October. Independents and broadcasters will be quizzed over the government's call for more influence over broadcasting and how that is likely to affect Scotland both culturally and economically. In light of the current licence fee settlement, Holyrood is asking for interim funds to be ring-fenced from the auction of spectrum after digital switchover. But in the long run, it argues that its proposed PSB - called the Scottish Digital Network - should be funded by the licence fee in the same way as S4C. It is thought this could be the first step towards a full split from the rest of the BBC. But several producers who spoke to Broadcast magazine outlined concerns that some of the changes could make Scottish output more parochial and less internationally appealing, potentially affecting both exports and M&A activity. A Scottish government spokeswoman declined to comment on plans for full devolution of the licence fee, but said that Holyrood's 'immediate priorities' were set out in the Scotland bill. 'The provision is intended to ensure Scottish ministers are fully consulted on future licence fee settlements, in contrast to the hurried and private discussions between the BBC Trust and the UK government last October, which effectively closed off until 2016-17 the fairest and most practical source of funding for a Scottish Digital Network,' she said.

Talkback Thames is planning to revamp long-running music quiz Never Mind The Buzzcocks ahead of its new series in October. The production company wants to retain the essence of the BBC2 panel show, but give series twenty five more of an 'event feel' to 'keep it fresh.' Comedy entertainment specialist James Longman has been drafted in as series producer to help the team introduce new rounds to the fifteen-year-old quiz, as well as changing the show's logo and refreshing the set with 'a lick of paint.' Talkback will continue to use guest hosts and it is understood they will be given more time to establish themselves on-screen than in previous series. Team captains Phill Jupitus and Noel Fielding are set to return. Decisions on the new games are yet to be finalised, but it is thought that the famous intros and line-up rounds will remain in place. The last series of Buzzcocks, which predominantly aired on Thursday at 10pm, was above slot-average with an average audience of 1.72 million per episode. Longman has just finished showrunning the second series of The Rob Brydon Show, another Talkback production for BBC2.

Seann Walsh is to be the new team captain on the Dave panel show Argumental. As reported last week, the debate show is being rebooted with Sean Lock replacing John Sergeant as chairman and Robert Webb as a team captain. Walsh will be getting his first regular TV job as the opposing captain over the eight forty-minute episodes. Walsh has previously appeared on Mock The Week, Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow and Eight Out Of Ten Cats, among others. Filming begins later this month on this fourth series, which will also feature an interactive element for viewers at home. UKTV commissioning editor Sarah Fraser said: '[Producer] Tiger Aspect has done a great job to completely reimagine Argumental whilst retaining its most fantastic qualities as a place where Britain's top comedians can riff freely on the topics of the day.'

Twisty sour-faced full of her own importance Miriam O'Reilly - the Daily Scum Mail's bestest friend in all the land at the moment, whilst she's useful to them - won a landmark ageism case against the BBC, you might have noticed. Now she has 'hit back' at what she describes as 'a personal attack' on her during an Edinburgh Festival debate. Chip on her shoulder? You decide, dear blog reader. O'Reilly was one of the panellists on the Too Old For HD panel, alongside former BBC1 controller and Talkback chief Lorraine Heggessey, former Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross and former BBC Children's presenter Kirsten O'Brien. Heggessey described O'Reilly's 'victory' against the BBC as 'a terrible day for TV.' She said that the decision to drop O'Reilly from Countryfile would have been discussed in depth and that she, personally, understood why O'Reilly had been axed. 'I wouldn't have put you in primetime, Miriam. I don't think you are right for it,' Heggessey told O'Reilly. Which some might argue O'Reilly's subsequent TV career has sort of manifestly demonstrated. Because, as Crimewatch Roadshow shows O'Reilly is, simply, not a very good presenter. And I say that not as a TV reviewer in this instance but, rather, as a licence fee payer. You know, one of those 'little people' who pay O'Reilly's sodding wages. So, I think I'm entitled to that view, frankly. O'Reilly argued that the tribunal 'showed' her role, and that of the three other axed female presenters, was 'given scant consideration.' She accepted - rather grudgingly, by all accounts - the panel's view that producers should be free to refresh programmes and presenters, but claimed that her dismissal when the show moved to a Sunday night slot 'was handled very, very, badly' and that her 'career was over in six words.' So, make that 'producers should be free to refresh programmes and presenters ... except when it comes to me, me, me, me, me, me.' O'Reilly subsequently told Broadcast magazine - who, of course, just lapped all of this nonsense up - that Heggessey had made 'a personal attack' on her. 'We are in danger of losing sight of the fact that the law came down in my favour and the tribunal recognised that older women face a "particular disadvantage" in TV.' We're not in danger of losing sight of that fact at all, Miriam, because you're not going to let us. And, if you do, then your pondscum pals at the Daily Scum Mail will, no doubt, pick up where you left off. 'Attempts to belittle me are a way of undermining the judgement of the tribunal,' she said. So, not so much a chip on her shoulder as an entire bag of tetties it would seem. It's possibly worth Ms O'Reilly considering that whilst she may currently - thanks to being the Daily Scum Mail's poster-girl for all things anti-BBC - be somewhat inoculated from criticism within the corporation itself, there are plenty of people in the TV industry at large who, it would seem, do not consider her 'victory' to be a good thing or anything even remotely like it.

The next James Bond movie is likely to be partly shot in India, according to a pre-production company in Delhi. Government permission has been granted to shoot in Mumbai, Delhi and Goa, Rahul Soni of India Take One Productions told the BBC. This would be the second Bond film to be shot in India - Octopussy, released in June 1983, was the first. The twenty thirdrd Bond film - which has yet to be titled - will be directed by Sam Mendes and released on 9 November 2012. Daniel Craig - star of 2006's Casino Royale and 2008's Quantum of Solace - is returning as the titular spy, licenece to kill. There have also been reports that some of the shoot will take place in South Africa, and that filming would begin by the end of this year. Production company EON could not confirm details of the shooting schedule or locations, telling the BBC that the film was 'still in pre-production.' India's media has reported that the film is expected to be shot in 'a popular flea market in Delhi.' But Pravesh Sahni, one of the film's line producers, told the Delhi Times that Sam Mendes preferred to shoot in Mumbai over the capital, Delhi. 'They wanted to capture Indian streets to show crowded lanes,' he was quoted as saying. The paper also said that the producers had met Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi for permission to shoot a sequence on a train. 'I want Daniel Craig to be the brand ambassador for Indian Railways,' Trivedi is quoted as saying. The 1983 Bond film Octopussy - which Homer Simpsons once claimed to be 'the best thing about Britain'! - was partly shot at a palace in Udaipur in India, and co-starred Indian tennis star Vijay Amrithraj and actor Kabir Bedi alongside Roer Moore. A number of foreign films have been shot in India in recent years - the 2008 Oscar winning hit Slumdog Millionaire being the most prominent. Others are Ang Lee's Life of Pi, and the Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem-starrer Eat, Pray, Love. India Take One also assisted with pre-production on the forthcoming next Mission Impossible film, starring Tom Cruise. Michael Winterbottom's new film Trishna, starring Slumdog Millionaire actress Freida Pinto, was also shot in India earlier this year. Based on Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Trishna is set in contemporary India and tells the tragic love story between the son of a wealthy businessman and the daughter of a rickshaw driver.

A US court case has brought to light details of alleged CIA 'rendition flights' that transported terror suspects around the world for interrogation after 9/11. Charter company Richmor Aviation and aviation broker SportsFlight have been engaged in a four-year legal dispute over the costs of the flights. The suspects were taken to CIA-run secret prisons around the world and the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. Many are alleged to have been tortured. Mind you, the same can also be said about anybody who's ever flown on Ryanair, to be fair. Details including the costs and itineraries of flights organised by US private aviation firms have been revealed as part of court proceedings. Human rights group Reprieve, which drew attention to the court case in New York, has said the material provides 'an unprecedented insight into how the government outsourced rendition.' A state judge ruled for Richmor last year, awarding the company $1.6m. In May, an appeals court confirmed the decision, cutting the costs awarded to eight hundred and seventy four thousand dollars. But Richmor argues it still has not been paid in full. During the trial, Richmor's president, Mahlon Richards, described flights as classified and said passengers were 'government personnel and their invitees,' in a court transcript published by the Gruniad. But he also said he was aware of allegations his planes flew 'terrorists' and 'bad guys.' The court files include contracts, flight invoices, mobile phone records and correspondence, but do not give details of who was on board the planes apart from a count of crew and passengers. In many cases, the flights coincide with the arrests and transport of some of prominent terrorism suspects captured in the months after the 9/11 attacks. Some of the details revealed include: Airport invoices and other commercial records provide a paper trail for the movements of some terrorism suspects allegedly held in secret CIA prisons, along with government operatives who flew to the scenes of their detention; The records include flight itineraries coordinated with the arrest of accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the suspected transport of other detainees; The private jets were given US state department transit letters providing diplomatic cover for their flights; The private business jets sometimes landed several times during a single mission, and in at least one case cost the US government as much as three hundred thousand dollars for one flight; The crew of one of the jets involved made expenses claims for items such as twenty dollar sandwiches and forty dollar wine bottles, court documents published by the Gruniad show. Details of the flight programme have leaked previously. Aviation logs and other records were exposed by lawsuits and European parliamentary inquiries, and investigative accounts have traced patterns of some planes used in the flights. In 2007, the Council of Europe estimated that more than one thousand CIA-operated flights passed over the continent. Several European nations have been accused of co-operating by hosting secret CIA prisons or allowing CIA flights carrying the prisoners to use airports on their way to other countries. In 2008, the UK admitted that CIA rendition flights had refuelled on the British overseas territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Two years later, Prime Minister David Cameron set up a 'judge-led' inquiry to look at claims that UK security services were complicit in the torture of terror suspects. The CIA has previously told the BBC: 'The programme is over. This agency does not discuss publicly where detention facilities may or may not have been.'

Waterstone's has announced it will end its three-for-two deals on books in September after more than ten years. The promotion is expected to be withdrawn this month and replaced by a new pricing structure which will see books sold for three, five and seven pounds. The bookstore chain was bought by Russian businessman Alexander Mamut earlier this year. Managing director James Daunt has vowed to shake up the chain amid flagging sales and customer dissatisfaction. Many publishers have welcomed the move to abandon the three-for-two promotion which has dominated the shops' sales in recent years. Ursula Mackenzie, chair of the Trade Publishers' Council at the Publishers Association, told industry magazine The Bookseller that it was 'a good thing. I'm not sure that the three-for-two is what people are looking for. They want one book, at the cheapest possible price.' But it has also been argued that the offer often gave exposure to lesser known authors who became the third book alongside two bestsellers. 'Without the support of being thrown into promotions featuring today's star names, those authors may find the going tougher,' said David Prosser in the Independent. Waterstone's, which has faced increased competition from online stores such as Amazon, and the rapid growth of e-books, will be hoping for strong sales over the Christmas period. In an internal e-mail sent in July, Daunt said he would be working closely with shops 'to ensure that as we enter the crucial final quarter of the year, we do so with our shops stocked to the best possible effect.'

A nine-year-old boy was banned from buying the Gruniad Morning Star newspaper by his local convenience store. Well, to be fair, it is full of a load of old soppy liberal tripe written by and for middle-class tossers who knit their own yoghurt and live in Islington. So, you know, it was probably a kindness to the little chap more than anything else. Owners of One Stop Shop in Priorswood Road, Taunton apologised after checkout staff refused to let Matthew McFarlane of Eastwick Road buy the paper, the Somerset County Gazette reports. McFarlane said: 'It was quite upsetting because I really wanted to get it. I think they thought I was too young to read some bits of it, but they let other children read other newspapers.' His father Rev Iain McFarlane added: 'It seems ludicrous that a child should be denied the right to buy a broadsheet newspaper. We should be encouraging children to read good newspapers.' We should, but what does the Gruniad have to do with that, Rev? 'I'd want to protect my son from the likes of the Sun, but the Guardian? It's nanny-state nonsense.' Ah, one of those sort of parents. I see. A One Stop spokeswoman apologised for 'any inconvenience caused' and explained that newspapers were automatically flagged by the till because they are sometimes packaged with age-restricted DVDs or CDs. 'It was just a genuine mistake,' she said. 'We had a couple of new employees in the store and they automatically thought they had to decline the sale.' So, human error, then? The human who erred has since been locked in the store cupboard with fifteen copies of the Observer until he promised never to do it again.

David Bowie's first hit single 'Space Oddity' has been turned into a children's book. The lyrics from the 1969 song have been illustrated by Canadian graphic designer Andrew Kolb and a digital copy of the book is available from his website. Kolb is currently seeking support to convert the drawings into a physical version. Kolb told Wired: 'It was one thing to make images that corresponded to the lyrics, but it was another to try to make it function as a visual story on top of that. It's been really cool hearing all these different interpretations of the lyrics, and all I can say is that the approach I took was the one that translated best to an image-based story.' Whether Bowie's permission has been sought for the project, the magazine didn't make clear. 'Space Oddity' was a top five hit in 1969 and appeared on that year's David Bowie LP, later retitled Space Oddity. It subsequently topped the UK chart in 1975 when reissued by RCA.

So, for today's Keith Telly Toppping's 45 of the Day ... yeah, okay, why not?! Get out yer stylophones, kids.