Monday, September 12, 2011

White Lines (Don't Do It)

The identity of a 'top Premier League footballer' who, allegedly, tested positive for cocaine is to be revealed tonight on Channel Four's Dispatches programme. And, that's not to be sniffed at. The as-yet-unnamed player was reportedly sold by his club in 'a multi-million pound deal' after the Charlie results were received, but his new team were, apparently, 'not informed' of the positive drug test, the programme will claim. However, the footballer will be exposed tonight to the glare of shame and infamy during a Dispatches special on 'the use of recreational and performance-enhancing drugs in football.' Oh watch, it's gonna be somebody from yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though tragically unsellable) Magpies, I can just tell. Every bloody time there's one of these shite-stirring 'exclusives' which break either on TV or in the tabloids, it's always my team. Or, it's someone elses. Anyway, the flagship Channel Four investigation series claims to have uncovered the identities of 'dozens' of footballers who have 'tested positive for cocaine and cannabis.' Allegedly. It says that their names were 'kept secret' by the Football Association and their clubs. Although whether the programme will be naming them also, it doesn't say. I wouldn't bank on it, personally. Dispatches also alleged that two hundred and forty random drug tests had been abandoned between April 2007 and August 2010, after the players were absent when officials turned up at their training grounds. The FA said that it abides by the World Anti-Doping Agency code, but the agency's David Howman called on the body to be more open about testing. 'If you don't [be more transparent], then you are susceptible to an allegation you're hiding something,' he told reporters. 'They're saying they haven't got a doping problem because there are not many positive tests. I think the answer to that is: don't we need to conduct better research to see what the prevalence of doping is? Until we are satisfied by the use of all the gathering of evidence I don't think we're in a position to say [that there is not a drug problem in English football].' In a statement to Dispatches, the FA said: 'The FA operates a comprehensive anti-doping programme which is the largest of any sport in the UK. The FA go beyond the WADA Code by proactively testing all samples for social drugs, irrespective of whether the tests are conducted in or out of competition.' And you thought football usually got cancelled when there was snow knocking about.

The new series of The X Factor on Sunday night had an audience of more than ten million viewers, while the Fred West drama Appropriate Adult finished with nearly four and a half million - and quite a bit of critical acclaim, albeit not from the Daily Scum Mail - overnight audience data has shown. The X Factor was watched by 10.3m on ITV in the 8pm hour, and an additional four hundred and seventy thousand viewers on ITV+1. Spin-off show The Xtra Factor averaged a healthy one and a half million viewers on ITV2 from 9pm. After The X Factor, drama mini-series Appropriate Adult - starring Dominic West as serial killer Fred West - ended with a solid 4.49m and a further two hundred and thirteen thousand on timeshift. Earlier on ITV, their new - hopelessly wretched - quiz show Holding Out For A Hero opened with a modest 2.82m in the 7pm hour. BBC1, overall, had a rather good night after a slow start - a repeat of the Strictly Come Dancing launch show had 2.86m from 5.30pm, and Nature's Miracle Babies pulled in 3.94m from 6.30pm. Thereafter, Countryfile was watched by 6.25m from 7.30pm and Inspector George Gently maintained its impressive audience from last week with 6.54m from 8.30pm. James May: Edge of Space got eight hundred and twenty thousand on BBC2 from 6.30pm, before a repeat of Top Gear topped two million in the 7pm hour. The documentary Operation Crossbow had 1.26m from 8pm, and World's Most Dangerous Roads achieved 2.39m, along with a further one hundred and twenty five thousand viewers on BBC HD. Match of the Day 2's audience was 1.91m from 10pm. Channel Four's showing of Journey to the Centre of the Earth attracted 1.8m between 6.15pm and 8pm, and two hundred and seventy nine thousand on +1. New series Back From The Dead was watched by 1.03m in the 8pm hour. Children of 9/11 had 1.04m from 8pm. Highlights coverage of England's One Day International tie with India was watched by seven hundred and forty six thousand on Channel Five in the 7pm hour, and a screening of Vantage Point had eight hundred and fifty thousand from 8pm. Big Brother continued with another relatively disappointing figure of 1.48m in the 10pm hour. Looks like the celebrity factor pulled in a million additional viewers who aren't too fussed with watching 'ordinary' people. Although, no doubt the Daily Lies will be claiming later that 'twenty million' are watching. Well, once about fifteen episodes have gone by, anyway. Overall, BBC1 won the prime time battle with 23.7 per cent against ITV's 22.6 per cent. Which given just how much The X Factor pulled it (over four million higher than the next highest rated show of the night) suggests that the return of Downton Abbey next week just can't come quick enough for them. BBC2's were third with 8.1 per cent. On the multi-channels, Strike Back: Project Dawn continued with four hundred and fifty thousand on Sky1 in the 9pm hour, while Young, Dumb and Living Off Mum was watched by five hundred and sixty thousand glakes, sorry, viewers on BBC3.

And, sticking with rating,s here's the consolidated Top Twenty shows for week ending 4 September
1 The X Factor - ITV Sat - 10.96m
2 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 9.28m
3 New Tricks - BBC1 Mon - 9.06m
4 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 8.73m
5 Emmerdale - ITV Mon - 7.14m
6 Inspector George Gently - BBC1 Sun - 7.09m
7 Red Or Black? - ITV Sat show two - 7.08m
8 Doctor Who - BBC1 Sat - 7.07m
9 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 6.73m
10 Outnumbered - BBC1 Fri - 6.11m
11 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 5.71m
12 Who Do You Think You Are? - BBC1 Wed - 5.45m
13 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 5.30m
14 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.26m
15 9/11: Day That Changed The World - ITV Thurs - 5.19m
16 Appropriate Adult - ITV Sun - 5.18m
17 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 4.82m
18 Harry's Arctic Heroes - BBC1 Tues - 4.78m
19 Torchwood: Miracle Day - BBC1 Thurs - 4.64m
20 Miranda - BBC1 Fri - 4.34m
The ITV shows do not include HD figures.

Stephen Fry will host the next BAFTA Film Awards in 2012. The comedian and writer presented the ceremony from 2001 until 2006 when Jonathan Ross took over, but will return to front the show again next year. The 2012 BAFTA Film Awards will be aired on Sunday 12 February on BBC1. Fry said: 'I had a marvellous time presenting the Film Awards for the first six years of the century. Hard as it may be for some characteristically sceptical Britons to believe, the BAFTAs have real kudos, reputation and cachet all over the world of filmmaking and I, old as I am, never cease to be shamelessly glamorised by the sight of so many legendary names who come every year as nominees and presenters.' He continued: 'The adorable Jonathan Ross has done a magnificent job since I last hung up my bow-tie and boxed my patent leather pumps, and I am honoured and pleased to return to the lectern and host what I am sure will be an evening of squeals, surreally weird acceptance speeches and genuinely exciting surprises and pleasures.' Ross added: 'I have thoroughly enjoyed doing the Awards for the last five years and it is absolutely the right time for a change. I wish my old friend Stephen all the best and I'm sure he will do a fantastic job.'

[spooks] writers Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley have admitted that they were nervous about writing the show's final episode. The pair told Cult Box that wrapping up the long-running spy drama was 'an exciting responsibility [and] a daunting honour. We've always been fans and that's why we think it's absolutely the right decision [to end the show],' they explained. 'The show deserves to end properly, on a high.' They added: 'When [production company] Kudos asked for our opinion, we said we'd hate to see it cancelled on a cliffhanger. It just wouldn't be right, or fair on the fans. Call us suck-ups, but you have to really admire Kudos for having the confidence to kill off a very successful show purely because it's the right thing creatively.' Vincent and Brackley revealed that the [spooks] writing team had devised 'countless' possible endings. 'Some of them survived for weeks, and we could still quote them by heart,' they said. 'Very early on, we talked about Harry detonating a nuclear bomb in Siberia. There was a lot of blinking round the table when we pitched that one.' The pair also suggested that it would be impossible to satisfy all [spooks] fans. 'We can't please everyone, nor should we try to,' they insisted. 'We can only try to create an ending that is faithful to the spirit of the show, the characters, and reflects the ten years of great drama.'
The vile and odious rascal Hunt, the lack of culture secretary, will this week ask the media regulator Ofcom to establish an agreed means of measuring cross-media power in the UK and consider whether to set a limit for the market share of Rupert Murdoch or the BBC to cap their influence over British media. In the wake of the row surrounding Murdoch's abortive bid for BSkyB, the minister wants Ofcom to create a common currency for measuring media ownership that would stretch across TV, newspapers, radio and other media. His ambition is to use this to introduce a new set of cross-media ownership rules. At present, the only restriction prevents any newspaper owner who accounts for more than twenty per cent of total circulation – such as Murdoch's News Corporation – from owning more than twenty per cent of ITV. Significantly, the vile and odious rascal Hunt wants Ofcom to examine whether it would be 'practical or advisable to set absolute limits on news market share' – a restriction that is as likely to affect the BBC as News Corp, according to the Gruniad. The vile and odious rascal Hunt, whom as readers of this blog will know is no lover of the BBC, who will speak on Wednesday evening to broadcast executives at the Royal Television Society festival in Cambridge, and, the newspaper claims, is expected to say that Britain needs to agree 'a new framework for media plurality in a cross-media world.' He is expected to add: 'We first need to better understand how we should measure plurality across platforms. I intend to ask Ofcom to examine what the options are for measuring media plurality in our digital age, and recommend the best approach.' Ofcom was asked to review News Corp's proposed takeover of BSkyB under 'media plurality' grounds last autumn, the first time any UK media merger had been examined in such a fashion, amid complaints from rivals that the enlarged company would dominate British media. News Corp's newspapers had a thirty seven per cent market share at the time, which would have been combined with the largest broadcaster in BSkyB if the merger had gone through. With no agreed methodology to fall back on, Ofcom devised various ways of measuring cross-media power and concluded that a combined News Corp and BSkyB would have too great an influence over news. Ofcom decided to measure 'minutes of media use' to devise a common currency embracing newspapers and broadcasters. It concluded that the privately owned News Corp, when combined with Sky, would account for a twenty two per cent 'share of reference' for British news and that the combined company would reach fifty one per cent of all Britons with its news each week. That would have made News Corp easily the largest commercial news provider in the UK. However, Ofcom's data revealed the BBC was easily the largest supplier of news. Its share of reference was measured at thirty seven per cent, with eighty one per cent of the population consuming BBC news each week. Because, it's the only news they can trust. But, unlike Murdoch's newspapers – which backed the Conservatives at the last election – the publicly funded BBC is politically impartial and, therefore, ripe for a big of thuggery from a Tory bootboy like the vile and odious rascal Hunt. It must be like all of his Christmases have come at once. Ofcom is expected to take several months to complete the exercise. Its results will be shared with Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into the regulation of the media.

EastEnders are hoping to lure Nick Berry and Michael French back to the BBC1 soap for the exit of Pat Butcher (Pam St Clement) later this year. Producers are said to be keen to lure back the two actors to reprise their respective roles of Simon and David Wicks for the departure of their on-screen mother Pat over the Christmas period. 'Producers are working flat out to get Nick and Michael on board. Nick hasn't done any major TV work for the best part of a decade. To get him back into Albert Square would be a major coup' an alleged 'Walford source' is allegedly quoted as allegedly saying in the Sun. Allegedly. Berry played Simon Wicks between 1985 and 1990 famously having an affair with Cindy Williams (played by Michelle Collins) resulting in her son Steven. Simon was something of a womaniser having flings with various Walford residents but had enough of Albert Square in 1990 and left - with Cindy. However, two years later Cindy returned without Simon and it was later said that he had emigrated to New Zealand. Nick Berry went on to star in several TV series, most notably Heartbeat and later Harbour Lights. Michael French joined EastEnders in 1993 as Simon's never-previously-mentioned car-dealer brother, David Wicks another womaniser who also had a fling with Cindy and helped her flee to France after she tried to have her husband, Ian, killed. David was also revealed to be the father of Bianca Jackson (Patsy Palmer) having had an affair with Carol (Lindsay Coulson) many years before. French quit EastEnders in 1996 and has gone on to appear in a number of dramas such as the notoriously dreadful Crime Traveller and Born and Bred as well as Holby City - and currently Casualty - as Doctor Nick Jordan.

The BBC has announced that auditions for The Voice UK will begin at the end of October. BBC1 controller Danny Cohen recently reached an agreement with creator John de Mol to bring the hit US show to the UK. While specific broadcast details for the show's launch next spring remain unknown, hopefuls are now being invited to apply for the series. 'Four of the biggest names in music are looking for incredible singing talent to compete for the title of The Voice UK,' the BBC teased on a new website for the programme. 'Only the most unique and distinctive voices will make it to the filmed auditions and get to sing for our celebrity coaches.' The four still-unannounced judges won't attend these auditions, which will not be broadcast on television. Solo singers and duos, who must be aged sixteen or over after 31 August 2011, are now being invited to apply to attend one of the open auditions, which will be held around the UK later this year.

Musicians are set receive royalties for their songs well into their old age under a new EU ruling. Regulations approved on Monday extended copyright on sound recordings from fifty to seventy years. It means that recordings like Cliff Richard's 'Move It', which fell out of copyright in 2009, will now continue to earn money for the musicians involved. The move has been welcomed by the music industry. Presenter Jools Holland called the ruling 'fantastic news. Artists put their hearts and souls into creating music and it is only fair that they are recompensed in line with the rest of Europe,' said Holland. 'It's important that creators get paid for the work they do and this extra twenty years is much deserved.' ABBA star Bjorn Ulvaeus said the extension of copyright would give him control over the use of his songs. 'Now I won't have to see ABBA being used in a TV commercial,' he said, 'and the thousands of lesser known musicians around Europe who are enriching our life and culture can get the fair reward in return for their work that they deserve.'

Peruvian journalist Pedro Flores Silva died after being shot on 6 September. The TV reporter, who worked on a Channel Six programme, was attacked after being followed by a hooded man on a motorcycle in Nuevo Chimbote, in the Ancash region of Northern Peru. His widow, Mercedes Cueva, said that he had received death threats in recent months in the form of text messages to his mobile phone. She linked the threats to his work, saying that the threats followed her husband's accusations of corruption against a district mayor, Marco Rivera Huertas. Cueva said: 'This was an attack against freedom of expression.' The mayor has publicly denied having any connection with the attack. He had launched a defamation lawsuit against Flores. A month ago, Humberto Espinoza Maguiña - director of Radio Ancash - received a bullet with a letter that read: 'Shut up unless you want this bullet to end up in your head.'

The Bangladeshi government has introduced a new broadcast law to censor the content of TV programmes and movies. Aside from prohibiting political, religious and alleged 'sexual material,' it also bans the transmission of stories that hold power to account. According to a report in the popular Dhaka-based Weekly Blitz, the law effectively prevents any criticism of the government and its institutions. The law bans TV channels from broadcasting any 'promotional' or 'advertising' content relating to non-Muslim festivals such as Christmas, Purnima and Puja rituals. The law, due to take effect within three months, bans the showing of any 'kiss scenes' in movies shown on foreign channels, such as Star Movie, HBO and Warner Brothers. Blitz lists fourteen specific bans and accuses the Bangladesh government of exposing 'its hidden anti-democracy face to the people.' David Cameron and the vile and odious rascal Hunt are rumoured to have kept a close eye on this story and to have discussed whether 'we should try that.'

Andy Whitfield, the British star of US TV drama Spartacus: Blood and Sand, has died at the age of thirty nine. He died on Sunday in Sydney eighteen months after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, his family and manager said. Whitfield was born in North Wales and moved to Australia in 1999. He took up acting after moving to Australia, but was still a relative unknown when he was cast in US cable network Starz TV series. Whitfield's previous credits included appearances on the Australian TV shows Packed To The Rafters and McLeod's Daughters. Liam McIntyre took over Whitfield's role in the TV series when he became ill to continue. 'On a beautiful sunny Sydney spring morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his loving wife, our beautiful young warrior Andy Whitfield lost his eighteen-month battle with lymphoma cancer,' his wife, Vashti, said in a statement. 'He passed peacefully surrounded by love. Thank you to all his fans whose love and support have helped carry him to this point. He will be remembered as the inspiring, courageous and gentle man, father and husband he was.' Chris Albrecht, president and chief operating officer of US TV network Starz, said he was 'deeply saddened' by Whitfield's loss. 'We were fortunate to have worked with Andy in Spartacus and came to know that the man who played a champion on-screen was also a champion in his own life,' Albrecht said in a statement. 'Andy was an inspiration to all of us as he faced this very personal battle with courage, strength and grace,' he added. Whitfield played the title role in thirteen episodes of the first series, screened in 2010, and was about to shoot the second series when he was diagnosed with cancer. Spartacus, which attracted much media attention in the US for its graphic scenes of sex and violence, but also a cult following around the world, was first seen in the UK on the now defunct Bravo channel before moving to Sky One. In an interview with the Deadline Hollywood website last year, Whitfield said that having cancer had taught him some important lessons. 'After the initial shock - I was a healthy young man and had no idea this could happen - it was frustrating that the first season was ending on such a high note.' But he added he then found 'time to heal, figure things out and spend time with my family. Stay in the now and enjoy every moment.' Whitfield's Spartacus co-star Lucy Lawless also paid tribute to the actor in a statement to EW: 'Andy Whitfield left an indelible mark on all of us in the Spartacus family,' she said. 'He was a gentle man who never said a bad word about anyone, a gifted photographer, engineer and a brilliant actor. How lucky we were to have him grace all our lives. Godspeed, Andy!' While waiting for Whitfield's treatment and expected recovery, Starz produced a six-part prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena which was broadcast earlier this year featuring a brief voiceover from the actor. Andy is survived by his wife Vashti and his two children.

A new ordinance could be introduced in the San Francisco Bay area telling nudists to cover their bottoms in public places. San Francisco supervisor Scott Wiener came up with the ordinance over sanitary concerns. Wiener told Reuters: 'I see it pretty regularly, and unfortunately there are nudists who are not doing what they should. I'm not a health expert, but I believe sitting nude in a public place is not sanitary. Would you want to sit on a seat where someone had been sitting naked? I think most people would say "no."' San Francisco's law is loose enough that nudists are happy to walk around in public with no clothes. They are said to be mostly seen in the Castro District, one of America's best-known gay neighbourhoods. Wiener suggested that a public hearing for his proposed ordinance is likely over the coming months.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, this one is for all the snowflaked, charlie-tootin' living baseheads in the Premier League. Of whom Channel Four alleges there are lots. Sounds reasonable and might explain one or two spectacularly under-par performances that I'm sure we can all think of. Bass!