Saturday, March 31, 2012

Petrol Fumes

Thursday night's Panorama pulled in one of its biggest audiences in recent years, overnight data has revealed. The Honeymoon Murder, examining the death of Anni Dewani in South Africa, was watched by 4.62m in the 9pm hour, beating BBC1's slot average for the past twelve months by not a little bit. Panorama, normally watched by around two to two and a half million punters on Monday nights, built to a peak of 5.1m as Jeremy Vine's investigation came to a close. ITV's miserable failure of a drama the three-part Love Life concluded with a modest 3.22m, while Mary's Bottom Line held a steady 1.51m for Channel Four. Nine hundred thousand watched BBC2's under-performing-despite-all-those-trailers White Heat. Later, Sarah Millican's Television Programme got 1.33m for BBC2 at 10pm. The BBC was solid against ITV's soap onslaught in the 8pm hour, with One's Watchdog drawing 3.87m, and Two's Natural World interesting 1.4m. Elsewhere, Channel Five's Europa League football coverage scored nine hundred and thirty seven thousand between 8pm and 10pm. Overall, BBC1 retained its lead over ITV with 22.3 per cent audience share against twenty one per cent.

David Gyasi has reportedly won a role in the next series of Doctor Who. The White Heat actor will appear in the BBC's popular family SF drama, according to the Evening Standard. Gyasi's past credits include episodes of Waking the Dead, Silent Witness and Law & Order: UK. He also played a minor role in a 2006 episode of the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood. Joanne McQuinn is also listed by Spotlight as playing a character called Sadie in episode three of the new series. Joanne is best known as Sally Moore in the BBC series Mistresses. She also appeared in Little Miss Jocelyn, The Bill and Our Friends in the North. In addition, she appeared in the film Fierce Creatures. Other guest stars confirmed for the next series of Doctor Who include Ben Browder, Rupert Graves, David Bradley and Mark Williams. The next series of Doctor Who will also see the return of the Daleks, it has now been confirmed. The militaristic aliens that can't climb stairs made their last major appearance in the drama's 2010 finale. A post on the the show's official website has confirmed that several different versions of the creatures will appear, teasing: 'The Daleks are being wheeled before the cameras once again. But which design? The answer is all of them!' Friday evening saw a read-through for the current filming block, covering episodes one and five (the Amy and Rory farewell episode). As previously reported, the production team are to take their second international trip of the year next month when they film in New York as part of the production for episode five which features the return of The Weeping Angels. Meanwhile, production has continued in studio for episode one, the series opener that will feature the return of the Daleks. The teaser trailer this week included a brief glimpse of the Doctor's old adversary in the snow (believed to have been filmed in Spain as part of the shoot there earlier in the month). And finally, here's a picture of Matt and Arthur being silly. Which is always good for a laugh!
Beryl Vertue, the founder and chairman of the independent producer responsible for BBC1 hit Sherlock, has accused the television industry of 'focusing too much' on failure and urged it to ignore overnight ratings and to concentrate on other measures of success including audience appreciation. Sensible advice. Of course, nobody will take the slightest bit of buggering notice of it. Vertue, the founder and chair of Hartswood Films, blamed newspaper coverage for much of the focus on 'ratings winners' and singled out the Daily Scum Mail for particular criticism for what she regarded as its 'negative coverage' of the BBC. The paper had 'lost the plot', she said. Did it ever have the plot, Beryl? Well, possibly back in the 1930s when they were such big fans of Oswald Mosley and Hitler. Vertue was speaking at the thirty eighth Broadcasting Press Guild awards on Friday, where she collected the Harvey Lee Award for outstanding contribution to broadcasting. 'The ones with the bigger numbers are the winners,' she said, of what she claimed was an excessive focus in the industry and in newspapers on overnight ratings figures. 'The public see one that wins over another and they say "I won't watch that then." Audience appreciation is very valid when there's so many channels, it's not a competition,' she added, saying that the phrase 'niche audiences' should not necessarily be considered a 'negative' one. 'We should be cheering and talking up the good news and not talking about winners and losers,' Vertue said. She added: 'British TV is in a great state and I think we [give recognition to] TV from abroad more than we do ourselves. It may be a British trait to be modest but there's a difference between being modest and never praising people,' Vertue said. 'People always say that US telly is brilliant but it's because they chuck money at it. We don't do one million pound pilots [in the UK].' She added that the British tradition of making shorter six-episode series meant that this country produced 'authored' pieces. 'I think people are looking a bit on the negative side, a bit cup half empty, rather than than half full,' Vertue said. She started her career as a typist before becoming an agent to writers Johnny Speight, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson as well as Spike Milligan and Tony Hancock. Hartswood was founded by Vertue in the 1980s and its successes over the years have included the sitcoms Men Behaving Badly and Coupling and the recent drama hit Sherlock.
Gillian Anderson has said she would be open to appearing in another X Files movie 'if the script was right.' Which is odd because it's usually David Duchovny who says that each time that his career takes one of its periodic lulls. Anderson played Dana Scully in the popular FOX series also played the character in two movies - most recently in 2008's dreadful I Want to Believe. Unfortunately the movie didn't win over the critics - or, indeed, many fans, including this author - and was a genuine, twenty four carat box office flop which put the future of the franchise in doubt. Despite the poor performance of I Want to Believe some fans are still hopeful that further X Files films will be made to continue the storylines started in the television series. Others, aren't that bothered and reckon it was a good thing in its day but its day was nearly twenty years ago and it's probably best to let it lie now. In a new interview with The Daily Beast Gillian has that revealed she would be prepared to reprise her role. 'If a good script comes along for another film, then I'm up for it, and so is David So is Chris. I don't see any reason not to do it if the script is good and FOX wants to go ahead and put the money behind it. I don't know if there's a script, I don't know whether FOX is even remotely interested, so it's completely out of my hands. But I'd be up for it.' Since The X Files ended Anderson has carved out a fine career for herself, largely in British appearing in a wide range of TV dramas like Any Human Heart, Bleak House, Moby Dick, The Crimson Petal and the White and mostly recently BBC1's Great Expectations as Miss Havisham. The actress also appeared in the critically acclaimed 2006 movie The Last King of Scotland.

Sir Tom Jones has hit out again at The X Factor, claiming the judges on the ITV talent contest are 'cruel to people needlessly.' Yeah. And, your point is, Tom? I mean, everybody knows that, that's the reason why many people watch it. Indeed, it's the reason why a certain number of spectacularly masochistic people go on it! The veteran singer, now a coach on BBC's rival talent show The Voice, disagrees with the way Wee Shughie McFee, the scowling faced Scottish chef off Crossroad's format apparently pokes fun at unsuccessful acts. He told TV Buzz: 'It upsets me when, on The X Factor, the judges are cruel to people needlessly. All of us on [The Voice] panel think that way. We've all been through that sort of rejection, whereas people on other shows haven't - they're just hearing it from a commercial or a punter's point of view.' The seventy one-year-old has already criticised X Factor for its 'freak' contestants as well as the focus on 'pictures rather than the quality of sound.'

Meanwhile, Louis Walsh had confirmed that he will return as a judge for The X Factor's forthcoming ninth season. Walsh was among the original line-up of judges when The X Factor launched in 2004 and is the only one to have appeared in every series of the ITV show. Walsh has also, seemingly, confirmed that Gary Barlow and Tulisa Contostavlos will be back for the new series. Walsh is quoted by the Mirra as saying 'I am so happy to have signed up for another year. It's my ninth year, I'm the only person to be in it for nine years. I know for definite that Tulisa is back and Gary is back. I'm not sure if Kelly is back, but I hope she is, because she worked really hard last year.'

Lenny Henry has compared the works of William Shakespeare to hip-hop. With the bippin' and the boppin' and the baseball cap on backwards. Y'muddyfuggin' bee-atch and all that malarkey. Word. Which would be perfectly shocking if he'd said it anywhere that people might, actually, take some notice. But, he didn't, he said it on Daybreak. So, fortunately, hardly anybody heard him.

Patrick Duffy has suggested that more characters from the original series of Dallas could be return for the new TNT revival. Duffy reprises his role of Bobby Ewing on TNT's continuation of the iconic 1980s drama alongside Larry Hagman as JR and Linda Gray as Sue Ellen. Also reprising their roles for the update are Charlene Tilton, Steve Kanaly and Ken Kercheval as Cliff Barnes. While appearing on Daybreak earlier this week to discuss the new Dallas - so, again, nobody was watching this - Duffy claimed that more characters from the original series could return in the future. 'Anybody who's still alive, the options are on the table to come back he sad. Producers have previously alluded to more characters, bar those already announced, returning during the course of the new Dallas. However, producers have - for now - ruled out the possibility of Victoria Principal returning. Principal played Pam between 1978 and 1987 when her character was written out following a horribly disfiguring car crash.

STV Productions has won its first ever commission for BBC3, which will see the company produce a new panel show pilot for the channel. T4 presenter Matt Edmondson will present Fake Reaction which will see six alleged 'celebrities' do battle with the aim of hiding their natural reaction as they face an array of unusual situations that test all of their senses. Sounds horrible. If they can conceal their real reaction and fool the rest of the panel, they win a small novelty prize. Gary Chippington, Head of Entertainment for STV Productions, said: 'We're thrilled to be working with the team at BBC2 on this enormously exciting project.'

The snot has significantly thickened in the legal action over who came up with the idea for reality show The Only Way is Essex, after it emerged that a senior ITV executive admitted the show was almost called Totally Essex. Although, quite why anybody would want to take 'credit' for creating such a horroshow is, massive amount of coin aside, unknown. Personally, if yer actual Keith Telly Topping had come up with the notion, he'd've gone and hid on an island in the Shetlands in utter shame. Former Big Brother winner Brian Belo is currently suing ITV and Lime Pictures, the producer of The Only Way is Essex, claiming they lifted the format for the show from an idea he developed. Bello alleges that The Only Way is Essex infringes copyright and is a breach of confidence. Belo claims that he developed a programme idea called Totally Essex, along with Sassy Films and Massive TV, and has a teaser video promoting a show that features many of those involved in the subsequent ITV2 reality programme. ITV and Lime have said that The Only Way Is Essex is 'an original concept' that they developed on their own and that Belo's claim is 'totally without foundation.' However, in a session at the Edinburgh International Television Festival last summer Claire Claire Zolkwer, the ITV entertainment executive who commissioned The Only Way is Essex, admitted that the show was 'almost called' Totally Essex. 'It was called Project Essex for the longest time,' she said, speaking as part of a panel on the series hosted by ITV breakfast flop Daybreak presenter horrible Kate Garraway. 'We went through a few titles that we weren't able to use or that weren't quite right. It was about to be called Totally Essex.' Zolkwer added that she subsequently went through songs on her iPod for inspiration and came across Yazz's 1980s song 'The Only Way is Up', which provided the kernel of the eventual name. All3Media, parent company of Lime Picture, said The Only Way is Essex is an 'original concept created and developed by an award-winning team at Lime Pictures.' It's also a pile of diarrhoea but, sadly, you can't sue them over that. On the Edinburgh panel Ruth Wrigley, co-creator of The Only Way Is Essex, admitted that the idea which was first pitched to ITV did not have anything to do with an Essex location. Before ITV took it on Lime Picture pitched it to Channel Four, as 'a cross between Big Brother and Hollyoaks,' but the idea was rejected. Along with the title Big Holly. 'At the time it was set in Bournemouth,' she said. 'It was set on the beach in a surfy resort. It was Claire [Zolkwer] who said "if you set it in Essex I might be interested."'

The BBC has announced that Sir Mervyn King, one of the most powerful financial figures in the country, will deliver the second Today Programme Business Lecture. King, the governor of the Bank of England, follows Barclay's chief executive Bob Diamond in delivering the lecture about current issues facing the global economy. On 2 May he will address an invited audience of three hundred Today programme listeners at an event hosted by Evan Davis, who will also interview King on the following morning's Today on Radio 4. The lecture will be covered by BBC News and broadcast in full on BBC Radio 4 from 9pm on Wednesday 2 May. As well as being interviewed by Davis, King will answer questions from the audience. The speech is not expected to be very long. 'Help, we're all effing buggered! Buy fuel and pasties and start building an ark' is likely to be the general theme of the thing.
Today editor Ceri Thomas said: 'I'm delighted that Sir Mervyn King has agreed to give the 2012 BBC Today Lecture. He's been at the centre of public life in this country through some of the most difficult economic times we've ever known. This is a great opportunity to hear his views and put directly to him some of our listeners' concerns.' King added: 'I am delighted to have been asked to give the 2012 BBC Today Lecture and to have the opportunity to speak directly to a national radio audience.' And tell them just exactly how deep the clarts we're all in is. Details on how to apply for tickets to the event will be published on the Today website closer to the time, said the BBC. Also this week, King warned that the UK economy is likely to 'contract' between April and June this year due to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee bank holiday. Speaking at the House of Lords' Economic Affairs Committee, he forecast a repeat of what happened last year, when the Royal Wedding bank holiday caused a blip in economic output.

David Tennant and Sir Richard Branson are to star in a new Virgin Media advertising campaign highlighting the firm's 'Collections' bundles, featuring superfast broadband and the TiVo service. Launching in April, Collections marks a complete revamp of Virgin Media's consumer bundles of broadband, landline and television. It is intended to better highlight recent upgrades in the cable operator's broadband infrastructure and the growth of TiVo. The company has created new Essential, Premiere and VIP Collections featuring different service combinations, including the first time integration of TiVo, which has attracted almost half a million subscribers since its launch as a standalone upgrade in late 2010. To promote the launch, former Doctor Who star Tennant has agreed to help Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson 'conquer time travel' in a new marketing campaign. The first advert, due to premiere on Saturday night during Britain's Got Talent on ITV, features Tennant using the TiVo service to explore his own back catalogue, while Sir Richard 'makes a time travel discovery of his very own.' That he should've signed The Clash when he had the chance in 1977, perhaps?! Further adverts feature the two stars in a calm, meditative state due to the fact that Sky content such as Sky1 and Sky Anytime is included in the Collections as standard, while another has Tennant showcasing the high definition channels available on Virgin's TV platform by going underwater. Virgin Media director of advertising and sponsorship Richard Larcombe said: 'Building on the huge success of our recent TiVo campaign and Usain Bolt and Richard in our superfast broadband ads, the new Collections creative brings together the best of both in a fully integrated offering. The new work uses the superiority of our products to deliver on value, simplicity and choice, all signed and sealed with a Virgin sense of humour!' Well, they're sponsoring yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Magpies so they must have a sense of humour.

The government has changed its advice to motorists to top up petrol tanks after two days of panic buying. It says that this is 'no longer urgent' after the Unite union ruled out a strike by its tanker drivers over Easter. Meanwhile, several Labour MPs have called for Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude to resign for earlier advising storing petrol in jerrycans. A York woman, who suffered severe burns while decanting petrol at her home from just such a jerrycan, remains critically ill in hospital. On Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron told motorists to 'top up' their tanks in case of a strike, leading to long queues at petrol stations across the country. And much annoyance amongst motorists. Up to a third of garages were reportedly forced to turn people away after stocks ran out. Which anybody with half-a-frigging-brain in their heads could have predicted would happen. Unfortunately, having half a brain in their collective head would be giving the government far too much credit. The GMB union said that some ambulance drivers were having problems getting fuel - the government, though, insisted services were 'continuing as normal.' But a spokesman from the London Ambulance Service said this was a total load of tripe, noting: 'We are not experiencing any particular difficulties in refuelling vehicles at the moment.' He added the service was 'holding reserve fuel' in case of any future industrial action. Although, hopefully, not in jerrycans. Demand for petrol now seems to be waning - down from a one hundred and seventy two per cent rise on Thursday to a twenty eight per cent rise on Friday, according to independent retailers' group RMI Petrol. The AA described 'a rapidly improving picture at fuel stations.' A spokesman said: 'The advice for drivers is to resume your normal buying patterns and to adhere to regulations on how much fuel you can carry and store.' However, the BBC had reports on Saturday of queues and shortages continuing at petrol stations in Leeds, Tonbridge in Kent, Egham in Surrey, Bromley, Finchampstead in Berkshire and St Albans in Hertfordshire. There are also reports of stations increasing fuel prices, and limiting sales. In Guildford, one petrol station is reported to be refusing to sell motorists any more than twenty five smackers worth of fuel. Which, at current prices, is about enough to get a car from one end of the street to the other. Motoring experts now warn of a two to three day backlog as hauliers attempt to refuel petrol stations. A BP spokesperson also said there had been a reduction in demand on the forecourts but it still had a few sites which had completely run out of stock and were awaiting deliveries. In the meantime, Unite would need to give seven days' notice if they plan to strike after Easter. A political row has broken out in response to Maude's comments earlier in the week. Senior Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin said that he thought the government may have been trying to divert peoples' attention away from a difficult week for the Tory party and the coalition. 'Really there should not have been any move to encourage people to buy more than they normally buy without consulting the industry first, and I think that was the mistake,' he said. John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, Karl Turner, MP for Hull East, and Labour Lord Toby Harris are among those who have called for Maude to resign if it turns out his comments contributed to the burns accident suffered by forty six-year-old Diane Hill. She was seriously injured after petrol ignited as she poured it from a jerrycan into another in her kitchen. The cooker was on and the petrol fumes ignited. She was treated for forty per cent burns at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. Mann said: '[Francis Maude] was whipping up hysteria, which caused the queues as well. But he went further, and gave out advice that was wrong.' Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi responded angrily to the calls for Maude to stand down and accused Labour of attempting to score 'political points' out of a 'personal tragedy.' Which, of course, is something no Tory politician has ever done. Oh, no, very hot water. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said that the government had 'mishandled' the row between the tanker drivers and their employers and there should have been more attempt for talks between the parties involved. 'Starting to say instead fill up your tank, causing panic, getting out the jerrycans, has led to the queues, to the shortages, to the running out of petrol.' Adair Lewis from the Fire Protection Association told the BBC that Ms Hill's accident was a 'wake-up call to us all,' adding: 'Petrol should only ever be bought in proper containers made for that purpose. There is no place for petrol inside your home.' The Department for Energy and Climate Change said: 'There is no urgency to top up your tank, a strike will not happen over Easter.' The rules on fuel tanker drivers' hours have been temporarily relaxed to help the transport of supplies to filling stations. Under EU rules, drivers are limited to nine hours on the road each day, but this has now been raised to eleven hours. The new rules will apply until Thursday and have been introduced after requests from the fuel supply industry. Unite's drivers, who deliver fuel to Shell and Esso garages and supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury's, have called for minimum working conditions covering pay, hours, holiday and redundancy. Some ninety per cent of UK forecourts are supplied by Unite's approximately two thousand members involved in the dispute.

David Yates has insisted he is still working on the proposed Doctor Who movie but doesn't expect it to materialise at cinemas any time soon. Last year the press got itself all excited and discombobulated when it was revealed that the BBC were developing a Doctor Who movie and that Yates would helm the project. The fact that the BBC were developing a Doctor Who movie shouldn't really have come as a surprise to the press - the BBC have been pushing in that direction for many years but the project had become been stuck in 'development hell.' Indeed, as one fandom wag noted at the time, you can always tell how long someone has been a Doctor Who fan by the number of Doctor Who movie proposals have become public - and, briefly, a major news story - since they started watching the show. In yer actual Keith Telly Topping's case, I think I'm up to seven. Possibly eight. When Yates's name became associated with the project the press began speculating - based on a stray comment that Yates made at the time - that the movie would be a reboot of the television series rather than a spin-off and would not star Matt Smith - or whoever the current doctor was at the time of its filming. Predictably the press began to speculate as to whom would be cast in a big-screen version. With - usually - hilarious consequences. However, in the several months since news regarding the project has all but dried up. In a new interview with Bleeding Cool Yates who made his name of the superb BBC drama State of Play before going on to direct several Harry Potter movies - has revealed he is still working on the project but, crucially, he expects it to take five or six years to develop. 'I'm definitely doing a Doctor Who movie. But I think where everyone got confused was that we're not making it for five years, or six years — it's a very slow development. I've got projects backed up between now and about 2015, and it's something I'm very passionate and excited about.' Yates praised Doctor Who's current show-runner Steven Moffat. 'Stephen's [sic] a genius. I love his work, I think he's incredibly clever. I love what he's done with Doctor Who, love his Sherlock Holmes. He's such a gifted man. But this is something that's a very slow burn and I'm hoping to sit down with him at some point and have a chat. It's just something that we've been talking about for a little while.'

Like most other half way decent football supporters with a heart beating in their chest (you know, apart from the scum that post racist comments on Twitter), yer actual Keith Telly Topping was horrified to hear about Aston Villa's Stiliyan Petrov being diagnosed with leukaemia. Once again, as we've noted a few times this last few months, its at times like this that it's really worth reflecting that football, genuinely great game that it is, is still only a game. Petrov attended Saturday's home Premier League clash with Chelsea - the day after being diagnosed. 'Football is over, this is the end,' the Villa midfielder has been quoted as saying in the Bulgarian sports daily Tema Sport. 'I am now beginning to fight for my life and I will fight.' Petrov, thirty two, who has been capped over one hundred times by Bulgaria, revealed that he felt a strange headache during the first half of Villa's 3-0 defeat by Arsenal last Saturday and the team doctor had even suggested a half-time substitution. 'I lost my energy early in the second half and it was very unusual for me,' Petrov said. 'But this is life. And I also would like to thank everyone for the support from all over.' An avalanche of support has poured in for the player from all parts of the world. Bulgaria national team doctor, Mihail Iliev, said Petrov would be examined in London today and treatment for the illness will start on Monday.

Paul McCartney is to purchase John Lennon's old art college building. Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, plans to buy the former Liverpool College of Art for £3.7m to 'expand its teaching space.' The Grade II listed building is adjacent to LIPA's Mount Street site. LIPA opened in 1995 in Liverpool city centre in what had been Liverpool Institute for Boys, the school attended by Sir Paul and George Harrison in the 1950s. It currently trains almost seven hundred degree and sixty two foundation certificate students as well as offering part-time performing arts classes for young people. Well-known alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie Lennon (occasionally) attended the adjacent The Liverpool College of Art in the 1950s along with his future wife, Cynthia Powell and Stuart Sutcliffe, The Be-Atles' original bassist. The building is currently owned by Liverpool John Moores University. LIPA plans to use the additional space for dance tuition and a studio theatre. Mark Featherstone-Witty, LIPA CEO and founding principal, said: 'There are sound business reasons why we are buying the building next door, but there's no denying the romance of bringing together two buildings where three Beatles once did their learning. I'm glad that this historic building will not become yet another boutique hotel or, yet again, be turned into flats. It'll be used for what it was intended: learning. I've mentioned this to Paul, who is supportive. The Liverpool College of Art developed historically from The Liverpool Institute for Boys, when the art classes outgrew their allocated space. Now, for the second time, both buildings are united and we'll ensure this unity will last.'

And, speaking of yer actual Macca his very self, he was joined onstage by Paul Weller, Rolling Stones' guitarist Ronnie Wood and The Who's Roger Daltrey during his set at London's Royal Albert Hall on Thursday night. The former Be-Atles bassist, who was playing the show as part of this year's run of Teenage Cancer Trust gigs, was joined by the trio of Goddamn rock legends for a rendition of 'Get Back'. Skill. You can see video footage of the onstage collaboration here. It was the second time in recent months that Rockin' Ronnie has performed the song live with McCartney, after he joined him onstage at London's O2 Arena in December last year. The full set, which featured thirty songs in all, drew from across McCartney's career and included a cover of Jimi Hendrix's 'Foxy Lady'. He played twenty Beatles tunes as well as songs from Wings, The Firemen and 'My Valentine', from his latest studio album Kisses On The Bottom.

And, still on the subject of the The B-Atles, a West End show, featuring several of their hits, is to be staged to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the band's first single. 'Love Me Do' was released, of course, in October 1962 ) Red Parlophone label - now worth about twenty notes a throw in mint condition, apparently), reaching number seventeen in the UK chart. It was, two years later, a US number one. Let It Be will open for a limited period from September at London's Prince of Wales Theatre. It is said by various press outlets to be the first time that the theatrical rights to The Be-Atles' back catalogue have been granted for a West End show although, I'm not actually sure that's true. Didn't Beatlemania get quite a lengthy West End run in the late 1970s? Video footage will be used to to tell the story of the band's rise to fame, alongside performances of some of their most well known hits, such as 'Yesterday', 'Come Together' and 'Hey Jude'. But, probably not 'Helter Skelter'. Or, indeed, 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun'. Let It Be will run from 14 September until 19 January 2013.

After three stories about The Be-Atles (popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them), I suppose we'd better have today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day and make it something from the, ahem, Merseybeat oeuvre. Play them Rickenbackers, boys. And remember, kids, it's quite possible one of these women is your grandmother.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I Remember How The Darkness Doubled

Let's start off the latest From The North bloggerisationisms with a quick 'get well soon' for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's old mate Abie. Who is, apparently, feeling a bit queer at the moment. That's queer in the old sense. As in ... well, you know what I mean. Anyway, get well soon, Ian. Rock journalism needs you.

Secondly, here's an amusing little tale concerning the new Doctor Who companion, Jenna-Louise Coleman. Last week yer actual Keith Telly Topping was somewhere, doing something, and he got chatting to someone about life in general and the new Doctor Who companion in particular. The details aren't really that important and I'll spare the person involved the potential embarrassment of me naming them. (So, your secret is totally safe with me, Ewan.) Anyway, this person, a Doctor Who fan of some vintage, noted: 'She seems very nice but she said something that made me think she might be a bit ... chavvy.' This blogger was somewhat taken aback by the very suggestion. Personally, yer actual Keith Telly Topping had completely missed said alleged allusions to inherent chavvines so he went back to Jenna's press interviews on the day of her casting announcement to see if he could find 'em. Nope. Not even a smidgen. What he did find, however, was what might well be the single most middle-class moment in Doctor Who companion casting history when the lovely Jenna, twenty six, revealed that she'd been shopping in Marks & Spencer's, buying an avocado when she got the call from Steven Moffat. I mean, come on. There's not very many avocados on yer average council estate. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping knows, dear blog reader, he lives on one. (It's also interesting to note that, since Jenna's character name hasn't yet been announced, some sections of fandom are, apparently, referring to her character as 'Avocado' in speculative postings about what series seven may contain!) So, dear blog reader, there you have it. Never judge a book by its cover. Or, indeed, a fruit by its presence in someone's shopping basket. Let's just say that Jenna-Louise is no ordinary companion. She's a Marks & Spencer companion!

Hang a black flag from the big red balls and pack away the sucker punch, they're not going to be needed no more. BBC1's Saturday night game show Total Wipeout has been cancelled after six series, the corporation has confirmed. The programme, which usually sees full-of-themselves contestants tackle a number of spectacularly silly obstacle course challenges and more often than not, very amusingly, fall flat on their face in the mud, will return for one more - fifth - series (ten episodes) later this year before ending. Hosted by Richard Hammond and Amanda Byram (who are both, actually, rather good on it), around six and a half million viewers tuned in to watch the show at its peak in 2009 and 2010. The spin-off show Winter Wipeout, which ended earlier this month, was still pulling in around four million viewers weekly as recently as last month. There have also been celebrity versions of the show, which have seen actors, athletes and TV personalities take part. I suppose the thinking here is that there's only so many times viewers can watch boastful fitness instructors from Essex or even more boastful young professionals from the home counties getting smacked in the mush by a foam boxing glove and falling in the clarts before it ceases to be funny. But, for what it's worth, it always worked for this blogger! Simple things, I suppose. 'After four very successful series of Total Wipeout, and one series of Winter Wipeout, the BBC has taken the decision that the next series will be the last,' a BBC spokeswoman said. The Wipeout format - which sees contestants flown to Buenos Aires in Argentina to compete for a cash prize - has become a hit internationally, with twenty nine countries using the purpose-built set. It is understood that show producers Endemol are in talks with the Beeb for a new replacement show to fill the Saturday tea time slot. However, they have not ruled out a return for Total Wipeout to UK screens in future in the form of specials and the like.

BBC2 comedy series Rev led the way at this year's Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, winning four prizes. The series scooped the prize for best comedy and entertainment show and best writing, while co-star Olivia Colman picked up two awards. There were also awards for The Choir: Military Wives, Eric & Ernie and Appropriate Adult. The awards, which are being handed out at London's Theatre Royal, were voted for by media journalists. Rev is about a modern day vicar, played by co-writer Tom Hollander, who runs a church in central London. Colman, who plays his wife in the series, picked up the prizes for best actress and the best breakthrough for her role in Rev and Exile. The Choir: Military Wives was hugely successful for BBC2 and was named best factual entertainment programme at Friday's ceremony. The series followed Gareth Malone, who formed a choir with the partners left behind by troops away in Afghanistan. The award for best single drama went to another BBC2 programme, Eric & Ernie, and BBC1 won both the documentary awards. Panorama: Undercover Care - The Abuse Exposed was voted best single documentary and Frozen Planet, narrated by David Attenborough, was named best documentary series. There were two awards for ITV's Appropriate Adult, including best drama series and best actor for Dominic West's portrayal of the serial killer Fred West. Sky1's drama series Mad Dogs - starring Max Beesley, Philip Glenister, John Simm and Marc Warren - won the BPG multi-channel award. BBC Radio 4 won the award for best radio programme - Archive on 4 - and Chris Watson was named radio broadcaster of the year, in special recognition of The Wire. Hartswood Films founder and chairman Beryl Vertue was presented with the Harvey Lee award for outstanding contribution to broadcasting. She was recognised for selling UK comedy formats to the US and working as an independent producer on shows such as Men Behaving Badly, Coupling and Sherlock.
Former News International chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks is to appear at the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics in May, a prominent political blogger has claimed. Guido Fawkes suggests that Brooks, who was re-arrested and bailed earlier this month in the police probe into newspaper phone hacking and corruption, has been informed of her 'impending star turn' at the inquiry. There has been no confirmation on this from the Leveson Inquiry, or from other sources. The inquiry was set up by David Cameron - in a complete and total panic which he's probably now regretting - to investigate press ethics and standards in the wake of the public moral outrage at the hacking affair which engulfed and, very satisfyingly closed, the Scum of the World. The disgraced and disgraceful scum Sunday tabloid was published by a subsidiary of News International until it was dropped like hot shit last July after a string of shocking revelations, including that journalists had intercepted the voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002 and the families of other victims of crime. Charges which, to date, News International have not denied despite having spent the previous four years claiming that only one lone rouge reporter was involved in any hacking what had gone on, honest guv. It is expected that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks will be somewhat limited in what evidence she can provide due to 'ongoing police investigations,' but her appearance will provide some awkward moments for the Prime Minister. Cameron is a close personal friend of Brooks and her racehorse trainer husband Charlie (they were at Eton together). It also recently emerged that the Prime Minister rode a horse which was loaned to Brooks by the Metropolitan Police in circumstances that have been described as 'odd.' Fawkes himself was summoned to Leveson himself last year to explain how parts of the witness statement of Alastair Campbell, the former spin doctor to Tony Blair, had leaked out early.

Meanwhile, one of well-known Crystal-Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks's predecessors as Scum of the World editor, Phil Hall, has apologised to Gordon Ramsay for passing on information about the chef which he admitted 'may have been obtained by illegitimate means.' Hall, founder of PR agency Phil Hall Associates, issued the public apology on Thursday after settling out of court with Ramsay and agreeing to make a donation - we're presuming quite a large one - to a charity of Ramsay's choice. The information sold by Hall to the Daily Scum Mail concerned a shark-fishing trip attended by Ramsay shortly before he appeared in a TV programme criticising the trade, the high court was told. In the apology Hall admits that he should not have passed on personal family pictures and medical information provided by the chef's former business partner and father-in-law, Christopher Hutcheson. Hall's lawyers said that the PR man did not know that any e-mails had been unlawfully intercepted. A spokesman said that Hall 'absolutely' did not know the provenance of the e-mails and that Hutcheson is now no longer a client of PHA. 'In late 2010 and early 2011, I was engaged by Chris Hutcheson (Mr Ramsay's father-in-law) and asked to pass certain stories to the newspapers regarding Gordon Ramsay. In particular, Mr Hutcheson provided me with private information about the Ramsays, including personal family pictures and medical information,' Hall said. 'I accept that, given the public breakdown of the relationship between Mr Hutcheson and Mr Ramsay, of which I was fully aware at the time, I should have guessed that Mr Hutcheson was not entitled to this information and in all likelihood may have come by it via illegitimate means. I would like to offer Gordon, Tana and their family a full and unreserved apology for my actions and any distress caused, and, at Mr Ramsay's request, I have made a donation to a charity of his choice.' It had emerged during a previous legal battle between Ramsay and Hutcheson that the chef's former father-in-law had unlawfully accessed his e-mails. The dispute was eventually settled with Ramsay paying Hutcheson two million smackers to buy him out of the chef's catering empire earlier this year. At a high court hearing earlier this month Ramsay's lawyers claimed that Hall had 'conspired' with Hutcheson to publish personal information about the chef while the dispute was ongoing. This was denied by Hall and the hearing was due to resume on Thursday, but was settled the previous night. The Daily Scum Mail's odious report in January included pictures of the trip in which Ramsay appeared to catch a shark which was then drowned. In the documentary Shark Bait, broadcast on Channel Four earlier the same month, Ramsay described the practice of shark fishing as 'cruel', 'sick', 'tragic', 'barbaric', 'wasteful' and 'out of control'. The high court heard that Hall also leaked information to the press about Ramsay's hair transplant. Ramsay has selected Scottish Spina Bifida as the recipient of the charity money. The amount involved was undisclosed. Hall was the editor of the Scum of the World between 1995 and 2000.

And, still on the subject of Gordon Ramsay, the Daily Torygraph reports that a lady they describe as 'a professional mistress' who claims to have had an affair with Ramsay claims that hacked voicemail messages between the pair have been discovered by detectives on Operation Weeting. Sarah Symonds says that she was contacted by officers on the case who told her they had discovered voicemail recordings and e-mail transcripts of the messages which were later sent between journalists at the Scum of the World. In 2008 the now defunct, disgraced and disgraceful tabloid claimed that Symonds and Ramsay had been having a seven-year affair, a claim which he has always denied. Symonds this week wrote on Twitter: 'The Metropolitan Police have contacted me. Apparently they've found very sensitive tapes on Gordon Ramsay and I. Gordon's been contacted too. I feel very vulnerable that the Met. Police have found "tapes of Gordon and I" and are listing to our private business.' Contacted by the Torygraph, Symonds confirmed that she had been told by Operation Weeting detectives that the messages relate to the period shortly before their alleged affair was revealed. Previously it has been reported that Ramsay had been contacted by Operation Weeting as a potential victim of hacking. It was not known until this week, however, what officers were said to have discovered. A spokesman for Ramsay refused to comment on Symonds' claim and a spokesman for The Metropolitan Police refused to comment.

Rupert Murdoch has launched a fightback on Twitter against what he described as 'lies and libels' against News Corporation, attacking 'enemies' including 'old toffs and right wingers.' The media mogul tweeted three times in the early hours of Thursday morning London time attacking his critics. In his first tweet he said: 'Seems every competitor and enemy piling on with lies and libels. So bad, easy to hit back hard, which preparing.' Thing is, Rupert, once upon a time, declaring war on your enemies like that would have sent a wave of exploding diarrhoea through the corridors of power, such would've been the terror it brought about. Now, nah, not so much. Fact is, nobody's scared of you anymore. Once you had Prime Ministers eating out of your hand. Now, they won't be seen in public with you, so toxic is News Internationals reputation at present. Murdoch's outburst dovetailed with a statement from Chase Carey, his right-hand man and News Corp's chief operating officer, who accused the BBC of 'gross misrepresentation' over a Panorama documentary which alleged that its former subsidiary NDS was involved in helping computer hackers to undermine ITVdigital. Murdoch followed up with another tweet in which he categorised the different types of 'enemies' News Corporation faces. 'Enemies [have] many different agendas, but worst [are] old toffs and rightwingers who still want last century's status quo with their monoplies,' he tweeted. No, you're quite wrong, mate. Nobody wants The Old Status Quo back - forty years of imaginative use of denim was quite enough thank you very much. But, hang on ... The BBC are right wingers? Jesus, somebody should tell the Daily Scum Mail quick, they'll likely have a stroke when they find that out. He ended his barrage with a tweet exclaiming: 'Let's have it on! Choice, freedom of thought and markets, individual personal responsibility.' And phone-hacking. You forgot about phone-hacking. Nice to see that the 'humblest day' of Rupert's life hasn't lasted very long, isn't it? On Thursday News Corp released a statement claiming that the BBC's Panorama documentary, Murdoch's TV Pirates, had 'presented manipulated and mischaracterised e-mails to produce unfair and baseless accusations.' Earlier this month News Corp and Permira announced the sale of NDS to Cisco in a five billion dollar deal. News Corp also on Thursday published a letter to Panorama from NDS executive chairman, Abe Peled, accusing the BBC current affairs programme of having 'seriously misconstrued legitimate activities' the company undertakes in running its encryption business. Murdoch was also the subject of a fifty-minute PBS programme, Murdoch's Scandal, which broadcast in the US on Tuesday and in the UK on Wednesday. While it did not contain any major new revelations, the fact that such a high profile broadcaster showed such a programme in his adopted home was likely to have caused embarrassment. The BBC said, simply: 'We stand by the Panorama investigation,' which went out after being approved by the director of news, Helen Boaden. The director general, Mark Thompson, was briefed on the contents of the programme, but is not thought to have seen it before transmission in case he would need to rule on a complaint made against it. Peled's letter focused on an e-mail highlighted in the programme sent by Ray Adams, NDS's former head of security, to colleagues, which said: 'I'm sure you must have had the July key' and then attached encryption keys that could be used to crack the ITVdigital system 'in case you don't.' The NDS chairman, attaching a screen shot from the programme, said Panorama had omitted a critical '>' designation 'showing that NDS was merely internally forwarding material that had been sent to it' and was not 'promoting or facilitating piracy.' Panorama, though, disputed that assertion, saying that it had made no such claim. The e-mail described was used, they noted, for a different purpose in the programme, to contradict a claim by Adams - on camera - that he had 'never seen' ONdigital codes. Adams, interviewed covertly, had said: 'I never ever had the ONdigital codes' – but in the next scene Panorama used the e-mail to show that Adams 'did have the codes,' in the words of the programme voiceover. Peled also complained that a second e-mail sent to Adams was shown by Panorama as 'evidence of NDS's encouragement of piracy associated with the website.' Peled said the e-mail was 'sent from an undercover agent' to NDS, and was therefore 'further proof' that NDS was collecting information in the fight against pay-TV piracy. However, Panorama 'sources' allegedly told the Gruniad that the programme 'did not draw the inference Peled described in his letter.' The programme did not represent the e-mail as coming from inside the company; the voiceover simply said that a hacker from the thoic website was sending an e-mail to Ray Adams to keep the NDS executive 'up to date.' The second e-mail, displayed immediately after the first, was intended in the context of the programme to dispute Adams's assertion that he had 'never seen' ONdigital codes. The NDS complaint letter, interestingly, did not refer to or criticise Panorama's star interviewee, Lee Gibling, a former hacker who ran the website, and who alleged that NDS 'delivered the actual software' to his pirate website that could be used to hack the ONdigital code 'with prior instructions that it should go to the widest community.' Gibling later said thoic's goal was to 'keep with ONdigital, flogging it until it broke.'

The Daily Scum Mail spent an estimated one hundred and forty three grand asking a private eye to make seventeen hundred and twenty seven 'potentially illegal' requests to unearth phone numbers and addresses of public figures over a three-year period, including personal details of the Duchess of Cambridge and her sister Pippa Middleton according to the Gruniad Morning Star. It seems that the detente that these two twattish organs of the British media enter into when it comes to criticising Top Gear quickly evaporates when there's point-scoring to be tried. Journalists at the Scum Mail, the Gruniad claim, 'asked for private information on average more than once a day, and occasionally asked for individual criminal record checks.' Its reporters 'demanded roughly twice as many searches as was previously thought,' this according to research by ITV News. The tabloid demanded the private information between 2000 and 2003 from Steve Whittamore – whose targets for a range of newspapers included the union leader Bob Crow, the family of the murder victim Holly Wells, members of the England football team and the singer Charlotte Church. The Daily Scum Mail made the most requests, with its sister title the Scum Mail on Sunday spending an estimated sixty two thousand smackers on five hundred and seventy eight requests for information. The Sunday title's figure was also roughly double the number of requests counted by the information commissioner in a 2006 report. It had previously been thought that the Daily Scum Mail made nine hundred and eighty two such requests, according to the information commissioner, but ITV News's examination of Whittamore's notebooks, which were seized when he was arrested in 2003, suggests that the figures 'were undercounted.' Journalists from the Scum Mail obtained the 'BT friends and family numbers' of people of interest ninety times, at an average cost of about three hundred and thirty six knicker. Reporters obtained twelve hundred and eighty five ex-directory numbers at a cost of sixty five notes a pop. There were twenty requests to establish a person's address from their vehicle registration at an average cost of one hundred and fifty quid. On three occasions, Whittamore's JJ Services was asked for an individual's criminal records to be checked against the police national computer, each at a cost of five hundred notes. The Observer Morning Star, the Gruniad's sister paper, itself made two hundred and one requests for information from Whittamore at a cost of over thirteen grand between 2000 and 2003. This was about double the one hundred and three previously counted by the information commissioner, and the new data says the Sunday paper made one hundred and eighty two requests for ex-directory numbers, asked for eighteen mobile and landline numbers to be linked to people's addresses or other personal details and requested one 'blag.' Obtaining such personal information is a breach of section fifty five of the Data Protection Act, although there can be a 'public interest defence' in some cases. If anybody working in the public sector was paid money to supply information illegally, it could amount to an offence under the much more serious 1906 Prevention of Corruption Act, for which there is no public interest defence, no matter how hard a newspaper might try to argue it. Whittamore himself pleaded guilty to breaches of the Data Protection Act in 2005 and received a two-year conditional discharge. Paul Dacre, the Daily Scum Mail's odious lice of an editor in chief, was questioned about his title's use of Whittamore at the Leveson inquiry in February, and in particular about requests to supply a person's friends and family numbers to the newspaper. Dacre claimed that information obtained from Whittamore 'could all be obtained legally, but it would take time. This was a quick and easy way to get that information.' Oh, so that's all right, then. On Wednesday, the publisher of the Daily Scum Mail and the Scum Mail on Sunday, Associated Newspapers, said that the allegations were 'familiar' from reports published by the information commissioner in 2006 in the wake of the Whittamore case – known as Operation Motorman. In a statement, the publisher said: 'Although the commissioner did not disclose details of the information obtained, it would seem, for the most part, it related to the tracing of individuals' addresses and phone numbers. The report recognised that many of these cases would have been covered by public interest defences. Indeed it is good practice that matters concerning individuals in the news should be put to them before publication to ensure accuracy and give the opportunity to offer comment. To do this it is vital to trace addresses and telephone numbers which in the main could be obtained through legal means.' Church said she had been shown a copy of the information Whittamore had collected on her. She said: 'It was basically just kind of DVLA records, so registration numbers and house numbers and mobile numbers and criminal records if applicable. It was about literally everybody I had ever known. Anybody I had ever come into contact with. That's what took us by surprise about it. Lots of my parents' friends some of my mum's old work colleagues a phenomenal amount of information.' The Daily Mirra was Whittamore's second biggest customer, using the private eye nine hundred and eighty four times between 2000 and 2003 – about three hundred occasions more than previously counted by the information commissioner – and spending about ninety two grand. The bulk of the information sought was ex-directory numbers, but its journalists asked for number plates to be traced to individuals on seventy nine occasions and for criminal record checks nineteen times. Its Sunday sister title, the Sunday People, was also a heavy user of Whittamore, spending an estimated seventy six thousand two hundred and ninety five quid on one thousand and sixteen individual requests. Overall, titles owned by Trinity Mirra, publisher of the Daily Mirra, spent just over two hundred thousand knicker while Associated Newspapers spent two hundred and thirty four thousand seven hundred and seventy three smackers, a figure which also includes the Evening Standard, which the publisher owned at the time, but have subsequently sold. Trinity Mirra said that the detail 'was the subject of a police investigation in 2003 when no action was taken against any journalist.' It added: 'We took our lead from the ICO and did what was asked of us by reaffirming to our national newspaper editors that the company's policy was to comply with the criminal law and the PCC code.' News International was not a heavy user of Whittamore between 2000 and 2003, with the Scum of the World the biggest-spending title in the Murdoch group, spending twenty three grand on two hundred and forty requests for information, according to ITV News. A spokesperson for the Observer said Whittamore's papers were described by the ICO as 'deeply obscure' and that, as a result, it was 'difficult to determine exactly what he was doing. As such, the Observer has always said that it is 'not possible' to be 'absolutely certain' that everything he did for the paper 'would have met' a strict definition of 'the public interest.' Therefore, 'since the publication of the ICO's report in 2006, we have strengthened the process by which the use of private investigators is approved. In fact, none have been approved since then.' Dr Evan Harris of the Hacked Off campaign group said that subjects of press intrusion should have been informed that they were targeted by journalists via Whittamore. He said 'there been a sophisticated but flagrant cover-up of the extent and knowledge of this by several newspaper groups' and that there had been 'no proper investigation by the authorities of the role of elements of the press in driving this industrial scale theft of private information.'

The communications chief at the Metropolitan Police, Dick Fiasco, has resigned after proceedings for gross misconduct were started against him. The Independent Police Complaints Commission launched an inquiry last year after it emerged he had contracted out work to a PR firm run by ex-Scum of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis. Last week it ruled Fiasco should face a hearing for gross misconduct. But, the IPCC said his resignation meant this could not now take place. The IPCC said that it planned to publish the findings of its report into the relationship between Fiasco and Wallis 'in the next few days.' IPCC deputy chairman Deborah Glass said: 'I have today been notified that Dick Fedorcio, the Metropolitan Police Service director of public affairs, has resigned.' She said that in July 2011 the IPCC decided to investigate 'the relationship between Mr Fedorcio and Neil Wallis, a former deputy editor at the News of the World, focusing on the circumstances under which a contract for senior level media advice and support was awarded to Mr Wallis' company, Chamy Media.' That investigation ended late last year and a report was handed to the Met's professional standards unit on 10 January. Glass said: 'Our investigation found that Mr Fedorcio has a case to answer in relation to his procurement of the contract for Chamy Media. Last week the Metropolitan Police Service proposed to initiate proceedings for gross misconduct and I agreed with that proposal.' But, Fiasco's resignation means he cannot now face any internal disciplinary proceedings. Glass said: 'In light of Mr Fedorcio's resignation today, those proceedings cannot now take place and I propose to publish our investigation report detailing our findings, in the next few days.' The Met confirmed that Fiasco would be leaving his post as director of public affairs on 31 March after fourteen years on the job. 'During that period he has made a very significant contribution to the work of the MPS,' they said.

The row over the introduction of VAT on hot snacks - or Pasty-gate as it's rapidly becoming known - seems to be a gift for newspapers' headline writers. The Sun splashed on Thursday morning with a description of David Cameron's "half-baked" idea, with the subhead PM's bid to take heat out of pasty row is hard to swallow. Even to a Sun loather like this blogger, my hat's off to whoever came up with that one. Almost as good as Becks Wears My Keks, frankly.
Inside, there is more fun, with a spread headlined PM pasty 'pork pie' probe. The Mirra opts to put the fuel crisis on the front, but a sidebar inside details Pasty PM's porky pies. The Times saves the puns for its page three sketch, headed Dave tries to play catch-up but it's all pie in the sky as Mr Pasty tells a porky. The Daily Torygraph opts for Oh crumbs. PM's trial by pasty, while the Gruniad Morning Star asks Who ate all the pies? No signs yet of the heat going out of the debate on this one.
Homeland's Damian Lewis and Tony Blair's former director of communications Alastair Campbell will be among the guest hosts in the new series of Have I Got News For You. The popular topical news quiz returns for its forty third series on Friday 13 April at 9pm. Unlucky for some. Paul Merton and Ian Hislop are, of course, back as the regular team captains. Dirk Gently's Stephen Mangan will guest host the first of nine new episodes of the news quiz, which will feature guests Miles Jupp and journalist Grace Dent. Like Lewis, Mangan has previously - and very entertainingly - hosted the show. Campbell will make his first appearance as host in episode eight, whilst other regular hosts Jo Brand, Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson and Alexander Armstrong will all be making returns to present the show. Lewis will make his fourth stint in the host's chair in episode three. Have I Got News For You has used rotating guest presenters since 2002 when original host Angus Deayton left the programme.

The Voice coach Sir Tom Jones has casually brushed off odious jibes from Amanda Holden about his age. When the Digital Spy website asked the Britain's Got Talent judge why viewers should switch over from Tom Jones and his spinning chair on The Voice to watch her reality own series, Holden who, let's remember, has recently had her own - much publicised - health scare, said: 'Because [Tom] will be spinning in his grave next week.' According to the Daily Lies, Jones has dismissed the actress's remarks, claiming that he doesn't even know who she is. 'I had no idea who she was or what she did,' the Welsh pop icon is quoted as saying. Neither does anyone else, Sir Tom and that's a fact.

Meanwhile it has been claimed that ITV 'bosses' have banned its shows from mentioning rival BBC1 series The Voice. Various interviews and features on programmes including notorious breakfast flop Daybreak, Loose Women and This Morning have been cancelled, the Mirra claims. If true, it's just one further example of how petty and sour-faced ITV are being over the BBC daring to produce something that they wanted to do themselves. The Voice's coach Danny O'Donoghue was due to appear on Daybreak on Friday morning, but his interview was, allegedly, cancelled. This Morning host Holly Willoughby has also, the Mirra claim, been told to not discuss her other presenting gig on The Voice. An alleged ITV 'source' allegedly said: 'Instructions have come from the very top at ITV - nothing on the network is allowed to promote The Voice in any way. The bosses have gone ballistic that shows on our channels have been plugging a rival. ITV are doing everything they possibly can to make sure The Voice isn't the huge hit the BBC hopes for.'

ITV2 has announced new supernatural drama Switch. Former EastEnders actress Lacey Turner will star in the series, which will follow four female flatmates who are secretly witches. So, this is Charmed meets The Liver Birds then, yes? She is joined by Nina Toussaint-White, Hannah Tointon and Phoebe Fox. Turner will play 'immaculately dressed' careerist Stella, while Toussaint-White has been cast as 'sexy and stylish' fashionista Jude. The group's moral compass Grace will be played by Fox, with Tointon starring as the 'restless and spontaneous' Hannah. The 'Witches of Camden' must face the challenges of living in contemporary London, as well as their sworn enemies the 'Witches of Kensington', Alexa, India, Romola and Remy. Sounds ghastly. I mean, totally. But, you know, never a judge a book by its cover and all that. It  might turn out to be all right, sometimes the least promising formats do. Not often, but occasionalluy. We shall wait to see. Switch has been written by Chloe Moss and Tim Price whose previous experience has been on Prisoners' Wives and The Secret Diary of a Call Girl respectively. 'Switch is a contemporary series about friendship with a spell-binding twist,' said ITV's Laura Mackie. 'Chloe and Tim have created four fun-loving, free-spirited characters and we're delighted with the direction the series takes.' Produced by Being Human's Philip Trethowan and executive produced by Touchpaper's Rob Pursey, six one hour episodes of Switch will go into production in London, Cardiff and Bristol for eleven weeks from April 2012.

Classic BBC sitcom Yes, Prime Minister is being remade by UKTV's comedy channel G.O.L.D. oh dear. There's bad ideas and then there's really bad ideas. A new six-episode run of the series, written by the original creators, is being produced by BBC Productions and will feature 'modern day twist's as it follows the day-to-day activities of hapless Rt Hon Jim Hacker. The Prime Minister's new challenges will include leading a coalition government, European economic turmoil and a Scottish independence referendum. Hacker's advisors Sir Humphrey Appleby and principal private secretary Bernard Woolley will also return. In the 1980s original, the late Paul Eddington played Hacker, while the late Nigel Hawthorne starred as Appelby and Derek Fowlds as Woolley. UKTV's director of commissioning, Jane Rogerson said: 'The political landscape in Britain today is the perfect setting for Yes, Prime Minister to return.' No it isn't. The clowns we've got in Downing Street are far funnier than anything a sitcom could devise. I mean, you couldn't make up Pasty-gate - no one would believe it! 'I'm thrilled that Gold has enticed Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay to pen a brand new series, and can't wait to see this constitutional treasure back on screens across the country.' Steve North, Gold general manager, added, 'G.O.L.D is making a great investment into iconic and original British programming and what better place to start than with the timely return of the nation's greatest satire? I'm a huge fan of the original and it's a real treat to be able to bring this utterly brilliant series to a whole new generation.' BBC comedy head Mark Freeland said that the success of Yes, Prime Minister theatre tours had proved that the 'iconic comedy has lost none of its satirical bite.'

Jeremy Piven has been confirmed to star in forthcoming ITV drama Mr Selfridge. The Entourage actor was first linked to the biopic earlier this month. Piven will play Harry Gordon Selfridge, the American entrepreneur who founded the British department store Selfridges. Katherine Kelly will appear as as Lady Mae, an alluring socialite who helps Harry as he builds his empire. Also cast in the project are Spiral's Grégory Fitoussi, Aisling Loftus, Zoe Tapper, Frances O'Connor and Trystan Gravelle. 'It's impossible to read about the real Harry Selfridge and not be enthralled,' said ITV's Kate Lewis. 'Here's a man that had it all and lost it all in the most spectacular fashion. His life and the extraordinary legacy he left behind are dripping with drama.' The 1909-set series will run for ten episodes. The great Andrew Davies is the lead writer, alongside Kate Brooke and Kate O'Riordan. Mr Selfridge will go into production in April in London, for broadcast on ITV during 2013.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says he has located the long-submerged F-1 engines that blasted the Apollo 11 Moon mission into space. Cor, now that's a job yer actual Keith Telly Topping would rather enjoy, diving for spaceships. In a blog post, Bezos said the five engines were found using advanced sonar scanning some fourteen thousand below the Atlantic Ocean's surface. Bezos, the billionaire bookseller and spaceflight enthusiast, said that he was making plans to raise one or more. Apollo 11 carried astronauts on the first Moon landing mission in 1969. The F-1 engines were used on the giant Saturn V rocket that carried the Apollo landing module out of the Earth's atmosphere and towards the Moon. They burned for just a few minutes before separating from the second stage module and falling to Earth somewhere in the Atlantic. Bezos' announcement comes days after film director James Cameron succeeded in his own deep-sea expedition, reaching the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on the planet. What is it with billionaires and submarines? Well, a chap's got to have a hobby, one supposes. Announcing the discovery on his Bezos Expeditions website, Bezos described the F-1 as a 'modern wonder' - which it certainly was - that boasted thirty two million horsepower and burned six thousand pounds of rocket-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen every second. 'I was five years old when I watched Apollo 11 unfold on television, and without any doubt it was a big contributor to my passions for science, engineering, and exploration,' he wrote, confirming that his team had located the engines but without hinting where they might be. 'We don't know yet what condition these engines might be in - they hit the ocean at high velocity and have been in salt water for more than forty years. On the other hand, they're made of tough stuff, so we'll see,' Bezos wrote. His privately funded team was planning to raise one or more engines, he wrote. He said that he planned to ask NASA - which still owns the rockets - for permission to display one in the Museum of Flight in his home city of Seattle. NASA itself said that it looked forward to hearing more about the recovery, the Associated Press reports. Other elements of the Apollo missions - including the Apollo 11 command module - are on display in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. The attempt to raise the F-1 engines is not the first foray into space technology for Bezos. In 2000 he founded a private space flight firm, Blue Origin, which has received NASA funding and is working on making orbital and sub-orbital spaceflight commercially available.

FOX has ordered an eighth of crime drama Bones starring David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel. The eighth season renewal is hardly surprising given Bones' continued strong ratings performance. The season will see the drama reach its one hundred and fiftieth episode. Bones returns to FOX with its first new episode since January on 2 April.

Pioneering bluegrass banjo player Earl Scruggs, who is credited with helping create modern country music, has died aged eighty eight. The musician died of natural causes at a Nashville hospital on Wednesday, his son Gary said. Scruggs was known for his unique banjo playing technique, which involved just three fingers. It later became known as 'the Scruggs pickin' style.' His innovative method can be heard on the theme tune to the 1962 TV series The Beverly Hillbillies. Scruggs rose to prominence when Bill Monroe hired him to play in The Blue Grass Boys, one of the defining groups in the bluegrass musical genre. Hollywood actor and fellow banjo player Steve Martin previously paid tribute to Scruggs in the New Yorker newspaper. 'When the singer came to the end of a phrase, he filled the theatre with sparkling runs of notes that became a signature for all bluegrass music since,' Martin said. 'A grand part of American music owes a debt to Earl Scruggs. Few players have changed the way we hear an instrument the way Earl has, putting him in a category with Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Chet Atkins, and Jimi Hendrix.' Scruggs later teamed up with Lester Flatt to form The Foggy Mountain Boys. One of their most well known records included 'Foggy Mountain Breakdown', which featured in the 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde. It was their recording of 'The Ballad of Jed Clampett' that was used in The Beverly Hillbillies. They eventually disbanded, and a rift grew between the two musicians, although they were inducted together in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985. Scruggs went on to form a group with his three sons in The Earl Scruggs Revue, playing alongside rock acts such as Steppenwolf and James Taylor. In 1992, Scruggs was among thirteen recipients of a National Medal of Art. Speaking at the time, he said: 'I never in my wildest dreams thought of rewards and presentations. I appreciate those things, especially this one.' In 2001, he released his first CD in a decade, Earl Scruggs and Friends, featuring collaborations with other artists including Sir Elton John, Dwight Yoakam, Sting and Melissa Etheridge.

After their team had failed to score in the previous five games, fans of FC Magdeburg came up with a novel idea to help them out.
So anyway, dear blog reader, as noted on Thursday, yer actual Keith Telly Topping attended the latest one of Scunny Steve Drayton's Record Player events at the Tyneside Cinema. And it was total mad-brilliant, as usual. Terrific sounds, find company, a couple of bottles of beer and then home for supper. Civilised. So, for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's one of the featured tunes. What's goin' down, Mr Verlaine?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Boy Looked At Johnny

Despite much hype, and plenty of advertising, Mad Men's initial outing on Sky Atlantic on Tuesday evening returned hugely disappointing overnight viewing figures for the satellite channel. The double-bill series five opener, showing from 9pm, garnered an average audience of just seventy two thousand punters, according to overnight results. Worse, half of its viewers disappeared between episode one (ninety eight thousand) and episode two (forty five thousand). Back on UK screens after a year-and-a-half break, the tale of 1960s Madison Avenue advertising executives was previously screened on BBC4, where the series four opener drew three hundred and fifty five thousand viewers in its 10pm slot. The results are even disappointing by Sky Atlantic's own standards, too - its most successful show to date, Game of Thrones, peaked with over eight hundred thousand viewers, huge figures compared to what Mad Men managed. Elsewhere on the multichannels, Touch garnered just a shade under six hundred thousand viewers on Sky1, slightly down on the seven hundred and fifty seven who watched the premiere episode the previous week. The Vampire Diaries had three hundred and seventy two thousand on ITV2 (with a further one hundred and forty thousand punters on +1). On terrestrial, BBC1's new drama series The Syndicate attracted 5.2m viewers from 9pm, overpowering ITV's live FA Cup coverage of The Mackem Scum getting twanked by Everton which averaged 3.21m from 7.30pm to 10.10pm. Big Fat Gypsy Weddings continued its downward spiral (at least on overnights) drawing 3.38m in the 9pm hour on Channel Four with a timeshift rating of just under eight hundred thousand. Supersize v Superskinny preceded it with 1.58m crushed victims of society. BBC2 showed Hairy Bikers' Bakeation (2.19m), Horizon (1.6m) and Never Mind the Buzzcocks (1.19m). On Channel Five, the latest episode of CSI appealed to 1.51m from 10pm. Overall, BBC1 won primetime comfortably with 23.6 per cent of the audience share, giving ITV's 15.4 per cent a damned good skudding.

Meanwhile, here's the latest episode of the nation's favourite, Daybreakwatch:
1 March 747k AI 74
2 March 718k AI 71
5 March 725k AI 72
6 March 767k AI 74
7 March 701k AI 71
8 March 748k AI 68
9 March 780k AI 73
12 March 692k AI 71
13 March 741k AI 71
14 March 733k AI 73
15 March 765k AI 72
16 March 802k AI 72
19 March 758k AI 72
20 March 818k AI 72
21 March 748k AI 70
22 March 783k AI 71
23 March 796k AI 72
26 March 648k AI 73
27 March 655k
Bless 'em, they're still trying so manfully (or, in horrible Kate Garraway's case, womanfully) to reach average in terms of both viewers and audience appreciation. And, they're still falling miserably short. Keep going, kids, it's not the winning that's important but the taking part.

Oh, and finally on the subject of viewing figures, the single most important ratings for the last week were for Sunday's Sky Sport 1: Live Ford Super Sunday and the match between West Bromwich Albinos and Yer Actual Keith Telly Topping's Beloved (though still unsellable) Magpies, which was watched by eight hundred and sixty two thousand punters. So, there you have it. dear blog reader. My football team are more than ten times more popular than Mad Men. Not that there was ever any doubt about this, of course...

Jason Manford (remember him?) is to star in a new ITV sitcom about a family of nudists. Naked House will see the comic play a father who is forced to move back in with his retired parents. However, Manford's character is shocked and stunned when he discovers that both his mother and father have embraced naturism since retiring. A pilot for the sitcom - which is being made by Leftbank Pictures - will shoot at the BBC's Elstree Studios on 27 April. ITV is also developing sitcom pilot The Job Lot, starring Russell Tovey and Hollyoaks's Emma Rigby. Last month, it was also reported that the channel had hired Harry Hill and Alistair McGowan to appear on new sports-based panel show You Cannot Be Serious! Manford was recently confirmed to appear in the West End production of Sweeney Todd. The comedian and former ONE Show host will make his stage debut as Italian barber Adolfo Pirelli, appearing at London's Adelphi theatre between 2 and 27 July.

A Take Me Out contestant was removed from last week's episode because he hid an assault conviction from producers, it has been reported. Jarvis Walters, a thirty-year-old semi-professional footballer, previously filmed a segment on the odious, risible Paddy McGuinness-fronted dating show, but his entire piece was cut when 'fresh background checks' revealed that he received a twelve-month community order for attacking a man in 2009. Walters told the Sun that Take Me Out 'bosses' had 'lost out big time' by removing him from the show, as he believed his date with co-star Hannah Reville was 'the best ever.' So, he's almost a modest chap, this guy then? However, Reville 'fumed' to the publication about being cut due to Walters's past behaviour, saying: 'He did something wrong - I did nothing.' Pretty much a summation of everyone that takes part in this odious fiasco of a programme I'd've said. Nothing. Anyway, a spokesperson for Take Me Out - who, seemingly, wasn't embarrassed to the point of shame by being associated with the show - confirmed: 'Jarvis did not declare a conviction that came to light.' The move comes after a date between Take Me Out contestants Aaron Withers and Wen-Jing Mo was cut from an earlier episode when it emerged that they had both worked as escorts and he had been convicted of assaulting a couple. ITV 'chiefs', the Sun claim, warned producers that such scandals were 'totally unacceptable.' Not least for the people getting assaulted in the first place, dare one suggest.

Daleks will be invading various navy-related museums in England over the next few months. The Dalek Invasion of Portsmouth on Sunday 6 May will see an army of Daleks built by enthusiasts descend on the Royal Marines Museum in Portsmouth. No one knows why. Museum spokeswoman Clare Chapman told the Doctor Who News website that the idea for it came following the success of similar events held in previous years at partner establishment the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton. Special guest appearances - yet to be confirmed - will also be made at the Portsmouth event, and there will be photo opportunities with the Daleks. In addition, traders will be in attendance and 'a Dalek hunt' will be held around the museum, while a fancy-dress competition will see prizes given to children who have the best SF outfits.
The Fleet Air Arm Museum will be hosting its own Dalek Invasion over the weekend of 18 and 19 August. As well as a host of Daleks, visitors will also get to see Davros, Miss Hartigan, Cybermen, Ice Warriors, a Pig Slave and a Weeping Angel among the attractions. In addition, a short play called The Master Strikes Back will be staged and a 'Doctors versus Daleks' quiz will be held. Answer number one: 'He always wins.' Answer number two: 'Run up a flight of stairs.' Traders and celebrities are also promised. A March of the Daleks will take place at the end of each day, with the Dalek army and 'friends' parading through the Fleet Air Arm Museum and assembling under its Concorde for a huge photo opportunity.

Doctor Who's executive producer Caroline Skinner has confirmed that there are no plans for Doctor Who Confidential to return since BBC3 controller Zai Bennett cancelled it, but revealed that the show's official website will host some 'making-of' content for the new series. Speaking at the Doctor Who Convention in Cardiff at the weekend, Skinner added that there will also be behind the scenes footage and video diaries posted on the site throughout the production of the series in addition to the technical content. Amy and Rory's departure will also be chronicled in a special song that the BBC will post after the characters depart in the fifth episode of series seven. Meanwhile, showrunner Steven Moffat - keen to address some perceived fan disappointment at Amy and Rory's arc so far, and the decision have them travel with the Doctor again after leaving in series six's The God Complex - suggested that 'you don't know if you like a story until you know how it ends.' When asked if the departure of Amy and Rory was the actors' decision or the producers', Karen Gillan was quick to point out that it was 'a mutual decision.' Arthur Darvill, recognising how this sounded, joked that 'it sounds like a massive lie,' to which Gillan responded: 'But, it's actually true!'

Wendy Darke, acting head of the BBC's Natural History Unit since February, has been confirmed in the post. The NHU has never before had a female leader, but Darke has a long and distinguished career in natural history programming and has worked in the unit for twenty years. Darke said she was 'delighted' to get the job, adding: 'There are some exciting challenges ahead and I look forward to seeing the NHU broaden its range of quality output whilst maintaining its reputation as number one in the world in natural history landmark production.' Her CV includes Land of the Tiger and Big Cat Diary, and as executive producer, Children's Natural History, she led the team that developed the BAFTA award winning Deadly Sixty brand for CBBC. The show was a huge hit in the UK and has been sold around the world. Tom Archer, controller Factual Production, told staff Darke will be supported in her role by Mike Gunton, the NHU creative director. Archer said: 'Wendy and Mike will lead a team of world-class creatives. Between them, they will cement the NHU as the global leader in natural history television, radio and online content.'

Changes to the law permitting television cameras to film the sentencing of criminals are expected to be included in the Queen's speech in May. Downing Street and the Ministry of Justice have repeatedly expressed support for the scheme, which, it is argued, would help the public understand complex legal procedures. In its initial phase, cameras would be allowed to film the judge's summing up and sentencing remarks in the court of appeal. If successful, filming would be extended to the crown court. A change in the law is required because cameras are forbidden in court under the 1925 Criminal Justice Act and the 1981 Contempt of Court Act. The proceedings of the supreme court at Westminster, however, are already broadcast live in their entirety. The highest court in the land, which does not cross-examine witnesses and defendants but deals with legal precedents, is governed by separate regulations. Sky News, ITN and the BBC said in a joint statement: 'This would be a positive step forward for transparency and democracy and we welcome the opportunity to work with the judiciary to ensure justice can be seen to be done.' John Battle, head of compliance for ITN, the broadcaster behind ITV News, Channel Four News and Five News, said that allowing cameras in court would be an important landmark change to the judicial system. 'It will bring greater openness to the judicial system, greater public awareness, and a greater understanding of the whole process of justice,' he said. 'The lobbying has been going on for a significant period of time, starting in 1989. Over the last ten years there has been significant lobbying by broadcasters and important staging posts that show that cameras in court work and do not affect proceedings. It's been a long road but in the interests of greater openness this is a significant landmark for change.' Last September the justice secretary, Big Cuddly Ken Clarke, said that the government and judiciary were 'determined to improve transparency' and public understanding of courts through allowing court broadcasting. 'We believe television has a role in increasing public confidence in the justice system. Broadcasting will initially be allowed from the court of appeal, and government will look to expand to the crown court later. All changes will be worked out in close consultation with the judiciary.' That promise, it is expected, will be delivered in the government's legislative programme for next year. In May last year, the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, backed the use of cameras in court, saying: 'In principle I would support a proposal that judgments, judges' closing remarks and judicial sentencing in criminal cases could be televised. There may be a case for going further, although I would obviously not want to promote anything that adversely affected the ability of victims or witnesses to give their best evidence to the court. Therefore there would need to be appropriate safeguards, particularly in cases involving vulnerable individuals, and any requests to televise any part of the court process should be subject to the judge's individual discretion.'

According to Brendan O'Carroll series three of Mrs Brown's Boys will be filmed in September and October of this year. He also said that four Christmas specials have been commissioned by the BBC, two for this year and two for 2013.

Channel Four's flagship investigative documentary strand Dispatches has hired former Tyne Tees News presenter Morland Sanders. In his new regular role with the production Sanders will present topical high profile investigations across a wide range of subjects. He will report to the recently appointed Dispatches Editor, Daniel Pearl. Sanders, says: 'This is an amazing opportunity to be involved with a current affairs brand that I have admired for many years. The programme comes with an enviable pedigree of great journalism - I am proud to be associated.' He is currently the North of England Correspondent for Channel Four News and has previously over the last six months reported for major current affairs investigations including the recent expose of the multi-million-pound world of online ticket reselling. Sanders is a multi-award winning reporter with over twenty years experience. He has previously reported for local news programme Tyne Tees Today, BBC Radio 4 and ITV's rather lightweight current affairs strand Tonight.

The UK police were right not to 'put the record straight' over false reports claiming Gerry and Kate McCann were implicated in their daughter's disappearance, the Leveson inquiry has heard claimed. Matthew Baggott, the former chief constable of Leicestershire police, told the inquiry on Wednesday that he 'could not' have released information about DNA tests conducted in the UK to counter leaks by the Portuguese police which falsely claimed they showed the McCanns had hidden Madeleine in the boot of a hire car in Portugal. Baggott said there were both 'legal and professional reasons' for this. Portuguese secrecy laws made it 'utterly wrong to have somehow, in an off-the-record way, have breached what was a very clear legal requirement upon the Portuguese themselves,' he told Lord Justice Leveson. He also said that the Leicestershire force's priority was to maintain a positive relationship with the Portuguese police, with a view to 'eventually resolving what happened to that poor child.' Last November the Leveson inquiry heard how the Daily Scum Express reported there was DNA evidence that could show the little girl's body had been stored in the spare tyre well of a hire car. It turned out the analysis conducted in the UK was 'inconclusive' and there was 'no foundation' for making that allegation. Express Newspapers eventually paid five hundred and fifty thousand smackers in damages to the McCann's in 2008 for inaccurate reporting by the Daily Scum Express and the publisher's three other titles, including the odious Daily Lies. Leveson asked Baggot about evidence submitted by a Daily Lies crime reporter two weeks ago that the Leicestershire police 'knew perfectly well that the results didn't demonstrate that,' and could have given off-the-record briefings to British journalists not to report a DNA link. 'Even with the benefit of hindsight, sir, I'm still convinced we did the right thing and I think integrity and confidence, particularly with the Portuguese, featured very highly in our decision-making at that time,' said Baggott. He added: 'So the relationship of trust and confidence would have been undermined if we had gone off the record in some way or tried to put the record straight, contrary to the way in which the Portuguese law was configured and their own leadership of that.' When they appeared before Leveson late last year, Gerry and Kate McCann told how they were 'left distraught' by such false claims in the UK press that they were responsible for their daughter's disappearance. Leveson later accused the Daily Scum Express of writing 'complete piffle' and 'tittle tattle' about Madeleine McCann.

There's a truly hilarious piece in the Gruniad Morning Star to which I urgently draw dear blog reader's attentions to. Claims that Wee Shughie McFee, the miserable Scottish chef off Crossroads 'crushed the dream of a thirteen-year-old girl' who wanted to make the harp 'the new guitar.' The bastard. (Wee Shughie McFee, the miserable Scottish chef off Crossroads, that is, not the little girl. Oh no, very hot water.) 'In October I had my audition in front of the judges. In the holding area I sat by an old man with a suitcase full of live cockroaches that he was eating for his performance, two rollerbladers (one in swimming shorts), some line dancers and a man who was reciting lines from Gladiator.' And you thought showbiz was full of glam, dear blog reader?
The Australian government has called for an investigation into allegations that Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation engaged in hacking and piracy against its pay-TV rivals. Earlier in the week, the BBC's Panorama programme broadcast claims suggesting that the part News Corp-owned NDS smartcard maker hacked into the technology used by ITVdigital - a key rival to News Corp's Sky - and then made the data available to pirates. This was followed on Wednesday by a report in the Australian Financial Review, claiming that News Corp also engaged in high-tech piracy to sabotage its rivals in Australia, including Optus and Austar. The Australian Financial Review, owned by Fairfax a rival media group to News Corp, claimed that during a four-year investigation it had received over fourteen thousand e-mails from a hard drive in a laptop used by Ray Adams, who acted as NDS's European security chief until May 2002. Panorama also referred to Adams as the key contact for alleged piracy activity against ITVdigital, operated through a hacker website called The House of Ill Compute. It is alleged that NDS supplied pay-TV pirates with codes for rival smartcards, enabling them to flood the black market with counterfeit cards, costing firms such as ITVdigital and Austar millions in lost revenue and devaluing their businesses. A spokeswoman for the Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that the allegations were 'significant' and called for a police investigation. 'These are serious allegations, and any allegations of criminal activity should be referred to the Australian Federal Police for investigation,' she said. Australian deputy prime minister Wayne Swan also said that the allegations were 'concerning.' The Australian Federal Police confirmed that it is working with UK police investigating revelations of phone and computer hacking at News Corporation's subsidiaries, including the now defunct tabloid newspaper, the Scum of the World. The revelation comes as the competition regulator in Australia examines the proposed takeover of Austar by Foxtel, which is twenty five per cent owned by News Corporation, in a two billion Australian dollar deal which would enable Murdoch to dominate the Australian pay-TV industry. However, News Corp has denied any role in hacking and piracy against rival pay-TV operators. News Limited, the firm's Australian division, said that the Australian Financial Review report was 'full of factual inaccuracies, flawed references, fanciful conclusions and baseless accusations.' They said that the company had 'spent considerable resources fighting piracy in Australia,' adding: 'It is ironic and deeply frustrating that we should be drawn into a story concerning the facilitation of piracy.' Pressure is mounting on Murdoch's News Corp as the UK media regulator, Ofcom, is currently reviewing whether the firm is 'fit and proper' to retain its thirty nine per cent stake in BSkyB, as well as whether James Murdoch should remain as chairman. Ofcom said that it will investigate 'all evidence' of phone and computer hacking in its investigation. The BBC's Panorama programme featured claims that NDS recruited a hacker to acquire the smartcard codes used by Ondigital, later ITVdigital, before releasing the information to pirates for them to make counterfeit cards. ITVdigital collapsed in 2002, leaving the way clear for Rupert Murdoch's Sky to dominate the market. NDS, which recently acquired by US technology giant Cisco, denies all the allegations against it.

The summer riots across parts of the UK last year were 'made worse' by rolling TV news channels and social media such as Twitter and Facebook, according to an independent panel set up by the government to examine the roots of the unrest. They were also made worse by the sheer naked greed of those taking part, too. Just, you know, for a bit of perspective. We have TV rolling news, Twitter and Facebook not to mention all of the social problems which others have claimed were a contributing factor to the riot in numerous cities across Britain too. Yet there were no riots in Newcastle. Or Glasgow. Or Sheffield. Or Bristol. Or plenty of other places, for that matter. In a report published on Tuesday, the Riots Communities and Victims Panel said social networking and TV footage of police officers watching people 'loot at will' helped to fuel the disorder in London and other UK cities. However, having delivered some top quality knee-jerk crap in an attempt to explain a very easily explainable situation (some people are, quite simply, greedy scum always wanting what they haven't got), the allegedly 'expert' panel then, hilariously, warned against knee-jerk plans to shut down social networks in time of public unrest, concluding that 'viral silence may have as many dangers as viral noise.' So, in other words, 'we haven't got a frigging clue what we're talking about.' Yeah, sounds about right. The role of online networks – such as Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger – came under the spotlight from the government and the former acting head of Scotland Yard in August after they were said to be 'a key tool' for rioters to organise the unrest. The panel, which visited twenty one communities and interviewed thousands of people affected by the riots, concluded that there was 'no question' that rioters were 'aided' by the existence of social media. 'From the evidence around the August riots and from what people have subsequently told us, it seems clear to us that the spread of rioting was made worse both by televised images of police apparently watching people cause damage and loot at will, and by the ability of social media to bring together determined people to act collectively,' the panel said. The panel, chaired by Darra Singh, said many people felt that twenty four-hour news coverage on BBC News and Sky News exaggerated the extent of rioting in their area, and helped 'make rioting a self-fulfilling prophecy' by inadvertently directing rioters to trouble hotspots. Unsubstantiated rumours spread by the breaking news tickers of major news outlets may also have encouraged more rioting, the panel said. On the role of social networks, the panel concluded that rioters were aided by instant messaging services but warned against plans to shut down websites such as Twitter and Facebook. They pointed out that the UK has pledged support for the open use of social media during the Arab spring uprising across the Middle East. 'Mobile communications technology is continually evolving and new developments may benefit the police and authorities rather than rioters,' the panel concluded. They added that some mobile networks have installed systems to detect crowds and the direction they are moving in so they can manage congestion. 'In the future, it may be possible to use cell congestion monitoring as a tool to tackle rioting,' the report found. 'What is clear from the riots is that there is no simple "switch off" solution. Viral silence may have as many dangers as viral noise.' No shit? Jesus, and these people - presumably - got paid to come up with this crap.

This is a treat for yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch fan - lashings of Benedict's rich, warm baritone as he muses on the art of acting, drives around London (always looking left and right before exiting a junction) and drinks tea in front of a crackling fire. Nice.

Tom Stoppard's award-winning play The Real Thing is to be revived to mark the thirtieth anniversary of its debut. In a joint venture, the English Touring Theatre and the West Yorkshire Playhouse are to stage the production, which was first performed in 1982. The play will open at West Yorkshire's Quarry venue in May, before touring round the country. Felicity Kendal and one of yer actual keith Telly Topping's favourite actors, Roger Rees, played the starring roles in the original production. It was named best production at the Evening Standard Awards and Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons both won Tony Awards for the starring roles in the Broadway production. Since then, there have been several adaptations of the play, including a version for Radio 4 in 2006. It was the first radio play which was directed by Sir Trevor Nunn.

The British Film Institute's National Archive will receive a windfall of material from the Central Office of Information when the Office is formally closed at the end of March. Twenty thousand different films will pass into the BFI's hands after the closure, making the COI archive the largest single collection ever to be acquired by the Institute. Amanda Nevill, the BFI's Chief Executive, said: 'The COI films are wonderful and important examples of British film-making. Often quirky and eccentric, these films over the last sixty six years tell rich and diverse stories about British life. The fact that they were used so effectively by Government departments really demonstrates the power that film has in capturing the nation's attention and influencing Britain and we are very proud that the BFI National Archive is the films' new guardian.' Among the titles making their way to the BFI are Royal Destiny (1953), a look at the Queen's early life; Sierra Leone Greets the Queen (1962) and Britain Welcomes the Emperor and Empress of Japan (1971), which showcases the controversial state visit of Emperor Hirohito and his wife. Films made for children, including those featuring Charley the Cat, the Green Cross Code Man and Tufty the Squirrel, will also become sole property of the BFI when the collection is absorbed into its archive. As will the perfectly terrifying I Am The Spirit Of Dark And Lonely Water. And, the far funnier Fatal Floor. The COI collection will be made available on multiple platforms, with a selection of the films being available to view at the BFI's Mediatheques at QUAD Derby, Wrexham Library, Newcastle Discovery Museum, Cambridge Central Library, BFI National Library and BFI Southbank, London. Other titles can be found on the BFI's YouTube channel. The BFI has already issued six compilation DVDs of COI material, and a new collection called Volume Seven: The Queen on Tour will be released in time for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The FA is investigating a mass brawl among players from Bradford City and Crawley Town. With the punchin' and the kickin' and the geet rive-on with kids gettin' sparked and aal-sorts. As the late Phil Lynott so wisely noted: 'If the boys wanna fight, you better let 'em!' The League Two game ended in total bloody chaos with a general punch up among most of the players, five of whom were sent off - equalling the previous record. For those interested in such minutia Crawley won the match 2-1. Bradford won the dismissal count 3-2. Referee Ian Williamson hauled City trio Andrew Davies, Jon McLaughlin and Luke Oliver into his room and showed his red card to all three once tempers had cooled somewhat. Then, he summoned Crawley's Pablo Mills and Claude Davis and administered retrospective dismissals for violent conduct, to equal the record for five players sent off in a league match. It has since emerged that further punishments are likely to follow if the FA can pick out other players throwing punches on video footage of the shameful fracas. Trouble flared on the final whistle of an ill-tempered match when Parkinson, riled he claimed by the Red Devils' gamesmanship, turned his back on Steve Evans, the Crawley manager, while Davies appeared to spark the mayhem on the pitch by throwing a punch at Davis. Within seconds, the bad blood had spilled over into a sick free-for-all, and both clubs will be hit with an FA charge of failing to control their players. Davies, who is on loan from Stoke City, will serve a five-match ban after being sent off for the third time this season. If the FA distributes a sixth red card retrospectively, the game will go down as the dirtiest game in league history, beating the five reds shown at Chesterfield vs Plymouth in February 1997, Wigan vs Bristol Rovers in December that year and Exeter vs Cambridge in November 2002. Thankfully, they have some way to go before they match the thirty six red cards - all twenty two players plus technical staff from both dugouts - when tempers frayed between Claypole and Victoriano Arenas in Argentina last year.

England is the only one of fifty three European countries still to sign a final agreement with UEFA over broadcast rights, it emerged on Wednesday. UEFA has not finalised an agreement with the Football Association over selling the rights on a pan-European basis – and the European body plans to go to tender in two weeks. The FA signed an initial mandate a year ago but the UEFA general secretary, Gianni Infantino, revealed the latest stand-off at the Soccerex conference in Manchester, though he said he was confident a deal could be finalised 'in the next couple of days.' Infantino said: 'The sticking points are minor rights details, radio rights and so on, and it is a matter of sitting around the table and discussing that. We have reached agreements with fifty two out of the fifty three countries so there is no reason why we should not reach it with England, we still have a couple of days and there are just a couple of minor points. It will have a seismic effect on the football landscape across Europe.' All countries have signed a mandate agreeing a guaranteed minimum income from UEFA for the TV rights.

On Thursday evening, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self will be attention Scunthorpe Steve Drayton's latest The Record Player event at the Tyneside. This week, it's a New York Punk double-header of Marquee Moon and Horses. We've already had some Television for yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day earlier this week so, instead, for Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day, here's Patti. And Lenny, Ivan, Jay Dee and Richard. Dip in to the sea, to the sea of possibilities.