Thursday, May 10, 2012

Do You Believe The Clear White Light Is Going To Guide Us On

Charlie Brooker, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Ruth Jones will be among the speakers at this year's Edinburgh International Television Festival, where the MacTaggart lecture will be delivered by Elisabeth Murdoch. This year's festival will include appearances by the creative teams behind Call the Midwife, Scott & Bailey, Modern Family and the Israeli drama upon which Homeland was based. The traditional Edinburgh opener, in which delegates take part in a festival edition of a TV show, will feature an ITV2 hit, Keith Lemon's Celebrity Juice. Kenton Allen, the advisory chair of this year's festival and joint chief executive of Rev and Friday Night Dinner producer Big Talk, said: 'This year we are putting creativity back at the heart of the festival. That's not to say it wasn't there in the past, but we are putting it at the forefront. We are also going to put multichannel much more into the mix.' Murdoch, whose appearance had already been announced, will be the first woman to deliver the MacTaggart since Janet Street-Porter in 1995 and only the fourth since its inception in 1976. The Shine Group chairperson and chief executive will deliver the keynote speech a day earlier than usual after the opening of the festival was switched from Friday to Thursday. Elaine Bedell, the festival's executive chair, speaking at the launch of this year's event at Bafta's HQ in central London on Tuesday evening, said it was 'sort of a disgrace' that it had been so long since a woman had done the MacTaggart. 'It is very good news. She is also of course a Murdoch which is also good news this year,' added Bedell, the director of entertainment and comedy at ITV. Bedell said a change of date of the festival had been 'talked about forever and it took this year's committee to make it happen.' She said the switch, which will mean it will end on the Saturday rather than the Sunday of the August bank holiday weekend, had been greeted with 'universal praise and pleasure.' The Gruniad columnist, writer and TV satirist Charlie Brooker will talk to The Times columnist Caitlin Moran in the Richard Dunn memorial interview. The Doctor Who showrunner, Moffat, will give a masterclass on BBC1's Sherlock, along with his co-creator, Mark Gatiss, and the producer, Sue Vertue, and there will be an exclusive preview screening of the first episode of the next series of Doctor Who. The stars of BBC2's Dragon's Den will also be in Edinburgh ready to invest 'real money' in TV-related business ventures. Other creative talent will include Gideon Raff and Avi Nir, who brought their Israeli TV hit Prisoners of War to life in the US as Homeland, Ruth Jones, of Gavin & Stacey and Sky 1's Stella, Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan and Frank Spotnitz, who will discuss new UK spy thriller Hunted. The festival will also feature sessions on the new BBC director general, the Olympics, the communications bill green paper, TV piracy and the implications of Scottish independence on the TV landscape, plus the annual channel of the year awards. This year's festival will take place between 23 and 25 August.
The fact that episode one of the new series of Doctor Who will be premiered at Edinburgh has, obviously, set minds and tongues racing within fandom as to the likely broadcast date just as everybody had more-or-less decided that it was likely to be November. It now appears, probably, that the first episodes of series will go out in September and early October with a break following Amy and Rory's departure in episode five before the arrival of Avocado on Christmas day. Of course, none of this has actually been confirmed by anyone as yet.

One wonders whether the acres of space in the tabloid press given over to The Voice's Sunday night's result show audience (6.6m) will be replicated by the virtually identical figure for Britain's Got Talent on Tuesday night. One somehow doubts it. The Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads show fell in the ratings for Tuesday night's semi-final but was still dominant, according to overnight data. The reality show managed 7.8m on ITV from 7.30pm. An average of 9.4m had tuned in live on Monday. Britain's Got Talent's results show then attracted 6.86m. BBC1s Britain's Biggest Hoarders was watched by 4.11m in the 9pm hour. Elsewhere, BBC2 aired Great British Menu (1.84m), The Town Taking on China (1m) and Great Ormond Street (1.28m). Foxes Live: Wild in the City continued for Channel Four with 1.09m from 8pm. Channel Five's CSI appealed to 1.47m from 9pm.

In the US, meanwhile, CSI concluded its twelfth season with an extraordinary episode - Homecoming. When a friend of the Sheriff becomes a prime suspect in his wife’s brutal murder, the investigation’s political fallout reveals the truth behind Russell's troubled history with Finlay. Also, an old foe of the CSIs resurfaces and threatens the team. The episode concluded with a virtually unprecedented quadruple cliffhanger with various characters in danger, shot, on the verge of quitting or, in one case, discovering something horrible in the bedroom.
Fortunately, the series was recommissioned for a thirteenth season in March and will return in the autumn.

BBC1 controller Danny Cohen has insisted that he is unconcerned about the ratings for The Voice. The talent contest's viewing figures have fallen from a high of 10.7m to 8.3m on Saturday and 6.6m for Sunday's results show. 'I don't get massively engaged week by week in whether we are up or down,' Cohen told the Daily Torygraph. 'The way I look at it, we have launched the most successful BBC1 entertainment show in over a decade. We didn't expect such high ratings at the start - shows like X Factor started on around five million.' Cohen insisted that he 'couldn't be happier' with the reaction to The Voice. 'There are always moments when the competition is strong - sometimes that helps us, sometimes it doesn't,' he suggested. 'But it is a quality series and audiences are responding to it.'

And, so to The Voice versus Britain's Got Talent, part two, the AIs. Where, it's still too close to call. Although it does, certainly, seem to suggest that at least a portion of The Voice's audience are less satisfied with it, generally, than they were three weeks ago.
The Voice
24 Mar 81
31 Mar 83
7 Apr 83
14 Apr 85
21 Apr 84
22 Apr 83
28 Apr 83
29 Apr 81
5 May 81
6 May 81
Britain's Got Talent
24 Mar 82
31 Mar 82
7 Apr 83
14 Apr 83
21 Apr 82
28 Apr 83
5 May 83
6 May 84
7 May 82
Of course, the thing to remember about the AIs is that they can only be used to measure the attitudes of people who are still watching, not of those who've stopped watching. Generally speaking a declining AI figure over several weeks combined with a declining audience figure would tend to suggest that something's wrong somewhere. Although, personally, I wouldn't read too much into Sunday's one-off Voice figure any more than I'd read too much into Tuesday night's lower-than-expected BGT figure. If The Voice is still getting above eight million as it heads towards the final in a couple of weeks then I don't imagine the BBC will be anything less than delighted. Less than that, though, on a regular basis, might be a different story.

The writer of Rev has admitted there will not be a third series of the award-winning BBC2 sitcom this year because the cast, including Tom Hollander and Olivia Colman, are 'too bloody successful.' So far the BBC has made two series and a Christmas special, and has attracted a range of impressive guest stars including Ralph Fiennes, Richard E Grant, Hugh Bonneville, Geoffrey Palmer, James Purefoy and Sylvia Syms. James Wood, the co-creator with Hollander of the acclaimed comedy about a London inner-city vicar, told the Gruniad: 'The cast are too bloody successful.' Wood said he was 'cautiously optimistic' about getting the cast together in 2013 but this could not be guaranteed. 'The other thing of course we need to do is to make sure that we maintain the same standards as with the other two series,' Wood added. He said he was currently working out whether a third series was creatively feasible as well. Wood said it has proved very difficult to assemble the comedy's ensemble cast, led by Hollander who plays the vicar Adam Smallbone. Hollander is due to make two films this year, beginning with a role in Fiennes's film about Charles Dickens's mistress, Nelly Ternan. The supporting cast of Rev is also in demand. Colman, who plays the vicar's wife, Alex, is currently in a West End production of Noel Coward's Hay Fever and has many other commitments including her roles in the Channel Four comedy Peep Show and the BBC Olympic sitcom Twenty Twelve. Although, presumably, that is due to finish this year. Other cast members include Simon McBurney, who plays Archdeacon Robert, but who spends a large part of his professional life running the experimental theatre company Complicité. The BBC admitted that a new series of Rev will not be made this year and was unable to confirm whether it will be returning in 2013. 'BBC2 is very keen for Rev to return and we are currently discussing the possibility of a third series with [the producers] Big Talk Productions,' the BBC said in a statement.

Star Trek's William Shatner will be keeping a captain's log of the scores on BBC1 current affairs comedy quiz Have I Got News For You. The actor, famed for his role as Captain Kirk in the cult SF show, will join regular stars Ian Hislop and Paul Merton and guests Andy Hamilton and Charlie Brooker on the show on Friday 25 May. The eighty one-year-old, who played Kirk for seventy nine episodes and several films, is also noted for his unique singing style and has released several LPs. Most of them unlistenable. In recent years, The Shat has somewhat reinvented himself via shows like Boston Legal and Third Rock from The Sun, largely by rather sending up he previously perceived somewhat po-faced persona and proving that he does have a sense of humour. He said: 'English sense of humour is different from American sense of humour. Luckily, I'm Canadian.' Other guests appearing in the new BBC1 series include Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, defeated London mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone and Alastair Campbell. The show was originally presented by Angus Deayton, but guest presenters were introduced after he left the show in 2002. Other stars to host the show include Alexander Armstrong, Jeremy Clarkson, Benedict Cumberbatch and John Bishop.
Prime Minister David Cameron's friendships with two suspects at the heart of Britain's phone-hacking scandal will come under spotlight this week in what may be some uncomfortable hours for the country's leader. Two former editors of the scandal-tarred Scum of the World tabloid - well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, Cameron's friend and neighbour, and Andy Coulson, his former communications chief - are expected to take the stand on Thursday and Friday respectively at the Leveson inquiry into media ethics. The inquiry is examining the often too-cozy relationship between British politicians and the country's press. Speculation is rife about what the pair will reveal about their relations with Cameron and the Conservative Party, whose popularity is already at a low amid economic uncertainty and unrest from grass-roots activists. Last week, the Daily Torygraph's chief political commentator, Peter Oborne, claimed that he had been told Brooks had 'retained the text messages she received from the prime minister, which I'm told could exceed a dozen a day. These may now be published,' he said. 'A horrible thought.' Oborne's account of text-swapping was backed up by a front-page story in The Times on Wednesday that spoke of a supportive message sent by Cameron to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks shortly before her resignation in July. The Times, citing an updated biography written by political journalists Francis Elliott and James Hanning, said Cameron had written to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks asking her to 'stay strong' as the scandal over her paper's illegal behaviour was raging around her. Days later, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks resigned from her post as CEO of Rupert Murdoch's News International and has since been arrested on suspicion of phone-hacking, obstruction of justice and crimes against hair. Both she and Coulson deny any wrongdoing. The Times, which is published by News International, did not provide direct quotes of any part of the text message and a publicist for Elliott and Hanning did not comment. But, the possibility that a trove of embarrassing texts could soon hit the Internet is buzzing around London. Odious Kelvin MacKenzie, a former editor with Murdoch's the Sun newspaper, predicted that, if published, the texts could be 'potentially fatal' to Cameron's career. 'Considering what might be in this correspondence, I asked Ladbrokes to give me odds on Cameron not being prime minister by the end of November,' he wrote in his column in the Daily Scum Mail newspaper. He claimed to have bet one thousand smackers on the ten-to-one odds he was given. Ironic, isn't it, that Kelvin MacKenzie, the man who once spat on the graves of ninety six dead Liverpool fans by publishing lies about them, seems to be the only Tory bragging about - potentially - profiting from the Leveson inquiry. It takes a special kind of turd to pull off something like that, one could suggest. Cameron has already been embarrassed by his relationship to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, particularly over the fact that he used to go riding on a police horse loaned to the former tabloid editor in the well-to-do Oxfordshire town of Chipping Norton. Opponents have seized on the equine fiasco as 'symbolic' of the intimate links between Britain's police, press and politicians. Opposition leader Ed Milimolimandi wasted little time ribbing Cameron on the expected revelations in their weekly debate Wednesday in the House of Commons. 'He hired the editor, he sent the texts, he even rode the horse!' Milimolimandi said. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks and Coulson will be testifying before Lord Justice Brian Leveson, who is leading an inquiry to sift through the fallout of the hacking scandal, which has rocked Britain's establishment and rattled Murdoch's News Corp with revelations of widespread journalistic malpractice at the Scum of the World (and, possibly, other newspapers as well). The inquiry has heard from reporters, police and public figures about the misdeeds of the country's media to understand why nothing was done to stop the phone-hacking for so long. Earlier Wednesday, the inquiry heard that local British police suspected more than ten years ago that a missing schoolgirl's phone had been hacked by people associated with the Scum of the World. Police lawyer Neil Garnham said that at least one officer with Surrey Police believed in April 2002 that Milly Dowler's phone had been hacked - the latest example of police's failure to investigate the rogue tabloid. Victims' lawyer David Sherborne said on Wednesday that many phone-hacking victims might have been spared 'if Surrey Police had prosecuted this activity in 2002.' He quoted Milly's parents as blaming 'police neglect' and 'police deference to the nation's powerful press' for the lack of action. Last year's revelation that the Scum of the World had violated the privacy of the thirteen-year-old Milly, whose disappearance had drawn national attention, ignited the scandal. That, and other serious revelations involving the apparent targeting of the families of victims of crime and terrorist atrocities prompted the paper's closure and led to dozens of arrests, more than one hundred lawsuits and hundreds of millions of quid in legal costs for New York-based News Corp.

Rupert Murdoch's decision to pay Milly Dowler's parents three million smackers in an out-of-court settlement for phone-hacking had nothing to do with allegations that the Scum of the World had deleted her voicemails, the family's solicitor has said. Mark Lewis said suggestions that some of the Dowler money be refunded, because it was impossible to say whether or not the Scum of the World deleted a voicemail that led to the 'false hope' that the teenager might be alive, were misplaced. Lewis was speaking after the Leveson inquiry heard on Wednesday morning that the Metropolitan police investigation into the affair had concluded that the full truth about the extent of hacking into Milly Dowler's phone may never be known. 'I cannot recall ever discussing the concept of false hope in any negotiations between the Dowlers through me and News Corporation through their lawyers,' he said. 'Negotiations were simply on the basis of whoever hacked her phone. There is no doubt about that. There were also other issues that were relevant including the Wall Street Journal report about the three versions of the News of the World [story], the first of which was to claim they had found Milly alive,' added Lewis. The Leveson inquiry was told on Wednesday that Scotland Yard detective chief inspector John Macdonald's report on the matter had concluded: 'It is not possible to state with any certainty whether Milly's voicemails were or were not deleted.' Macdonald, who is part of the Met team working on the Operation Weeting investigation into Scum of the World phone-hacking, said two voicemail messages appeared to have been removed at the time, but because the full technical call data was missing, 'reaching a definitive conclusion is not, and may never be possible.' The police announced last year that a July 2011 Gruinad report may have mistakenly blamed Scum of the World private detective Glenn Mulcaire for deleting Milly's voicemails and giving her family 'false hope' that she was still alive because new evidence had emerged about the dates of calls. Macdonald's report does not seek to exonerate Mulcaire over the deletions but refers only to Scum of the World reporters. 'There is no evidence at present to support a suggestion that any journalist attempted to hack into Milly's phone prior to 26 March 2002.' It is believed the so-called 'false hope' moment when Milly's mother Sally Dowler found that messages had been deleted from her phone was on 24 March. The report confirms, however, that Scum of the World hacking did subsequently take place. Scum of the World publisher News International paid the Bob and Sally Dowler two million quid in compensation in October 2011, with Murdoch personally donating an additional one million knicker to six charities of their choice. Speaking about the sensitive negotiations that led to the settlement for the first time, Lewis said: 'It was negotiated as a commercial settlement that recognised the possibility that the negotiation could have been taken to America where awards are treated differently.' He added that the Dowler family had been entitled to sue News International's parent company, News Corporation, in New York, after Murdoch wrote a letter of apology and signed it personally. 'If Rupert Murdoch wants to accept responsibility, then it became a News Corp issue,' Lewis said. But he added that Murdoch did not once mention the deletions, and said that Murdoch appears 'horrified' that her phone had been hacked at all. The truth about how two voicemail messages on Milly's phone were deleted may never be known, the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics heard. MacDonald said it remained unclear whether they were deleted automatically or deliberately. In July 2011, the Gruniad said that Mulcaire, working on behalf of Scum of the World reporters had deleted the messages. The Dowler family praised the Gruniad, without whom, they noted, the story might never have emerged and said that they 'had faith' in the inquiry. The Metropolitan Police confirmed that Milly's voicemail was, definitely, hacked by Scum of the World journalists after she went missing. But the inquiry at the Royal Courts of Justice in London heard that incomplete records and the lapse of time meant it would probably never emerge how two of the messages were deleted. The Met said in their statement they believed some individual voicemails were automatically deleted seventy two hours after they had been listened to. MacDonald said he could not 'conclusively' say whether any voicemails were manually deleted. But his statement added: 'There do appear to have been two messages missing that should have been present when Surrey Police carried out their second recorded download on April 17. It is not known why that happened and it will not now be possible to provide an explanation.' The inquiry has previously heard that Milly's mother Sally called her daughter several times in March 2002 after she vanished walking home from school in Walton-on-Thames. Mrs Dowler said that she believed Milly was alive because she was able to leave a message, after previously not being able to. Milly had a generic voicemail message on her phone that indicated when her message box was full. If a message was deleted the greeting would revert to her own personal greeting. The thirteen-year-old's remains were found in Hampshire six months after she went missing. Former bouncer Levi Bellfield was jailed for life in June 2011 after being found guilty of abducting and killing her. The Scum of the World has previously admitted intercepting the teenager's voicemails. Responding to the police statement, the Dowler family said: 'If Surrey Police had prosecuted this activity in 2002 then the position would have been very different.' The family added: 'Perhaps countless others might also have avoided having their private messages hacked into by the News of the World.' They praised the 'relentless efforts of one journalist' - a reference to the Gruniad's Nick Davies - and said they had faith that the journalist's efforts, the inquiry and that Operation Weeting would 'have a lasting positive impact.' Commenting on the evidence, the Gruniad insisted it had had 'no wish to cause distress to the Dowler family.' In a statement read to the inquiry, the paper's head of legal Gill Phillips said their story of 4 July 2011 had been based on 'multiple sources.' 'Our error - as we acknowledged and corrected last December - was to have written about the cause of the deletions as a fact rather than as the belief of several people involved in the case. We regret that. After five more months of intensive inquiry, the police have found that the passage of time and the loss of evidence means that "reaching a definitive conclusion is not, and may never be, possible."'

Seven journalists, including two reporters from the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, were interviewed in 2004 in relation to the purchase of criminal records from a confidential police database, the Leveson inquiry has heard. The journalists denied any knowledge that the information was obtained illegally and the Crown Prosecution Service advised the police 'there was insufficient evidence to charge' any of them. Up to now, it was not known that any journalists had been interviewed in connection with any such offences, despite the amount of evidence submitted so far to the inquiry on Operation Motorman, which was launched following this incident. The names of the journalists were redacted by the inquiry but the officer who oversaw the investigation, detective chief inspector Brendan Gilmore, told Lord Justice Leveson on Wednesday they included one each from the Scum of the World, the Scum of the World (Scotland), Daily Mirra, Sunday Mirra and the Scum Mail on Sunday. Two were freelance journalists. Interviews with the journalists were ordered by Gilmore after suspicions were raised by a national investigation by the Devon and Cornwall police force into the use of the police national computer by a civilian employee, Paul Marshall. He worked in Wandsworth and was found to be logging phoney 999 calls to access criminal records and passing on the information to former police officer Alan King. He, in turn, supplied the information to private investigator John Boyall, who supplied it to Steve Whittamore, whose offices were later raided by the information commissioner's Operation Motorman investigation. Some of the information obtained by Marshall was subsequently showing up in various newspaper articles, the inquiry was told. An internal police memo from the time noted: 'Evidence exists which implicates a number of journalists in the offence of conspiracy to corrupt. In some circumstances newspaper articles and invoices from Whittamore show that PNC data has been requested and acquired.' Gilmore told the inquiry that Whittamore's ledgers were very detailed with invoices going to 'named individuals' on newspapers. 'On the actual invoices it could show the [Criminal Record Office] and I think vehicle check, but it was quite clear that they were asking for CRO details and vehicle checks, registered keeper details,' he said. When interviewed by police, journalists said they believed 'CRO' meant court records and the information was obtained legally. The inquiry heard this was possible, but was very difficult, and not within the turnaround time Whittamore was achieving for supplying information. 'We put it to them that they couldn't possibly accept or assume that that information would get turned around so quickly. They pleaded ignorance,' said Gilmore. He added that journalists also told the interviewing officers that inclusion of their names on the Whittamore invoice was not evidence of guilt. 'Journalists claimed it could have been another journalist using their name.' Gilmore was heading Operation Glade at the time, which was the forerunner to the information commissioner's Operation Motorman investigation, which led to Whittamore being charged with the illegal trading of confidential information. He pleaded guilty to breaches of the Data Protection Act and receiving a two-year conditional discharge. Robert Jay QC, counsel for the inquiry, put it to Gilmore that the police decided against arresting the journalists because of the fear of a backlash. 'We didn't fear a backlash,' he said. 'There was no trepidation around it.'

Matthew Wright's Channel Five show is being investigated by the media regulator Ofcom over a survey that used the words 'mong', 'spaz' and 'retard'. Viewers were asked which of the three words was 'the most offensive term to describe someone with learning difficulties', according to a BBC poll. The daytime show was debating Rupert Murdoch's use of the word 'retarded' with reference to David Cameron's son. Ofcom rules say 'potentially offensive material must be justified by context.' The 26 April edition of The Wright Stuff received fewer than ten complaints. The TV watchdog is exploring whether the programme breached broadcasting rules relating to harm and offence. The topical debate show was discussing Murdoch's appearance at the Leveson inquiry into press standards, where the media mogul praised the the Prime Minister's tenderness towards his 'retarded son.' The survey, which ran on screen prior to an advertising break, was based on a 2003 poll by the BBC's disability website Ouch! The Ouch! poll featured a list of ten disability-related words, including 'cripple' and 'spastic', and asked more than two thousand voters - both disabled and non-disabled - which they found most offensive. The word retard received nearly twenty per cent of the votes - and was the answer given in the Wright survey, following the advert break.

Channel Four has commissioned a full series of Ricky Gervais's alleged comedy drama Derek, it has confirmed. A pilot episode in April drew 3.2m viewers, including C4+1 and on-demand figures, according to the broadcaster - the network's highest rating for a scripted comedy in nearly two years. However, the programme also drew some criticism over suggestions the 'simple' central character mocked people with learning difficulties. The new series is due to be broadcast next year. It will again be written and directed by Gervais - who will reprise his role as Derek Noakes, a 'simple, vulnerable man' who works in a retirement home. Gervais's former producer Karl Pilkington and comedian Kerry Godliman will also return as Derek's best friend Dougie and co-worker Hannah. Channel Four said the new series would 'further explore the relationships between this close knit group. The pilot triggered an amazing response and Derek's story had only just begun so it's brilliant that we can explore this world and its beautifully drawn characters across a series,' Shane Allen, Channel Four's head of comedy said. Gervais added: 'David Brent was an egotistical, failed musician and the most annoying man in the world. Derek is a fifty year old man with bad hair and clothes, whose best friend is a whinging, bald Manc twonk. Where do I get my ideas from?' Gervais defended the show after some criticised the portrayal of Derek's character. The comedian told disability rights campaigner Nicky Clark.: 'Derek is a fictional character and is defined by his creator, me. If I say I don't mean him to be disabled then that's it. A fictional doctor can't come along and prove me wrong. He's different. But then so are a lot of people. He's not the smartest tool in the box but he's cleverer than Father Dougal [from Father Ted] or Baldrick [from Blackadder], and not as different as Mr Bean.'

US network NBC has commissioned President Obama's former speechwriter, Jon Lovett, to make a sitcom about family life in the White House. Book of Mormon star Josh Gad and Modern Family director Jason Winer are also behind the show, titled 1600 Penn - after the presidential address. Bill Pullman will star as the fictional US president in the comedy, with Dharma and Greg star Jenna Elfman as the First Lady. NBC has initially ordered thirteen episodes of the show. It is the second time Pullman has portrayed the US president, after playing the role in 1996 blockbuster Independence Day. Although, one imagines in this one he won't be flying a fighter jet battling pan-dimensional aliens. With US TV, however, never say never. Gad will also star as the out-of-control eldest son. Lovett, who is also serving as executive producer on the show, spent three years working as President Obama's speechwriter in Washington before leaving in September to pursue a career in Hollywood. In November, after he sold the pilot to NBC, Lovett told The Hollywood Reporter the comedy would not be based on real stories from the White House. 'Obviously, my experiences are going to inform what I do, but this family will have absolutely nothing to do with the president,' he said. 'The idea is that this is a dysfunctional family, and the first family today is so far from that, it's ridiculous.' 1600 Penn is the latest in White House-themed shows hitting US TV screens. Armando Iannucci's comedy Veep began last month on HBO. The show stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a senator who becomes vice president and learns that the job is nothing like she'd imagined. It has just been renewed for a second series. This July, Sigourney Weaver will star in Political Animals - playing a former first lady to a philandering president who becomes the Secretary of State. Not based on anyone even remotely realistic, of course. Oh no. Definitely not. very hot water. Meanwhile in the UK, satirical 1980s political comedy Yes, Prime Minister is to be revived for a new six-part series later this year on TV channel Gold.

The Spectator magazine is to be charged with breaching reporting restrictions during the trial of two men for the murder of Stephen Lawrence. The publication is being held responsible for an article by the commentator Rod Liddle that it published last November during the trial of Gary Dobson and David Norris, who went on to be convicted. The Spectator's representatives are due to appear at Westminster magistrates court on 7 June to answer a summons issued by the Crown Prosecution Service. Alison Saunders, the CPS chief prosecutor in London, said the magazine had been informed 'of our decision to charge them with an offence under section eighty three of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, in relation to an article by Rod Liddle about the recent Stephen Lawrence trial.' She said: 'On 24 November 2011 the attorney general referred an article published in The Spectator magazine to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration of whether a reporting restrictions order in place at the time had been breached. The article in question was dated 19 November 2011 and came during the trial of Gary Dobson and David Norris who were accused, and subsequently convicted, of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. The judge, Mr Justice Treacy, referred the article to the attorney general for consideration under his contempt powers.' A court order was imposed during the trial prohibiting publication of certain assertions about the defendants. 'Having applied the full code test in the code for crown prosecutors, I have taken the decision that there is a realistic prospect of conviction,' Saunders said. 'The attorney general has determined that it is in the public interest to proceed and he has given his consent to this prosecution.' Under section eighty three of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, where publication is in a newspaper or periodical, the proprietor, editor or publisher may be liable for an offence but not the author.

A British TV channel which broadcast a lecture claiming that it is acceptable to murder someone who has shown disrespect to the prophet Muhammad is facing a significant fine or potentially even closure. Ofcom said taken the unprecedented step of ruling that DM Digital, which targets the Asian market with programming in languages including English, Punjabi, Urdu, Kashmiri and Hindi, is the first UK broadcaster to break the broadcasting code for airing material 'likely to encourage or incite the commission of a crime or lead to disorder.' Because of the serious nature of the breach of the code Ofcom said that it is now considering imposing a statutory sanction, and the media regulator's sanctions committee will now consider options including fining DM Digital or even revoking the company's broadcast licence. DM Digital, which is licensed in the UK, also broadcasts to the Middle East and parts of Asia. Last October DM Digital broadcast a one hour programme in Urdu in which an Islamic religious scholar lectured about theology and discussed the killing of Salmaan Taseer, a Punjab governor and critic of Pakistan's blasphemy law, who was assassinated by his bodyguard Malik Mumtaz Qadri last year. The blasphemy law carries a potential death sentence for anyone who insults or is judged to have blasphemed against the prophet Muhammad. Ofcom was alerted by a viewer to statements made in the programme, saying that it was acceptable to murder those who have shown such disrespect. The media regulator commissioned two English translations of the programme, for accuracy, and found that the presenter of the show said: 'If someone takes a step in the love of the Prophet, then this is not terrorism.' The scholar who gave the lecture on the show made a number of comments citing a 'duty' to kill those who insult Prophet Mohammed, including: 'I hail those who made [Pakistan's blasphemy law] which states that one who insults the prophet deserves to be killed - such a person should be eliminated.' DM Digital argued that there had been no 'serious' breach of the UK broadcasting code and that the 'text was taken out of context, and if read as a whole, it is clear that [the scholar] is commenting on the blasphemy law in Pakistan and not personally advocating any violence.' The broadcaster added that it did not condone the comments and was taking steps to make sure that it would moderate such programmes in the future and appoint a compliance manager. In a twelve-page ruling Ofcom said that the live lecture broke a number of broadcasting code rules, including that broadcasters must exercise a 'proper degree of responsibility' and that it was likely to 'encourage or incite the commission of a crime or to lead to disorder. We believed that on a reasonable interpretation of the scholar's remarks he was personally advocating that all Muslims had a duty to attack or kill apostates [someone deemed to have abandoned their faith] or those perceived to have insulted the prophet,' said Ofcom. 'We considered that the broadcast of the various statements made by the Islamic scholar outlined above was likely to encourage or incite the commission of a crime.'

A plaque commemorating the life of musician, songwriter and poet Alan Hull will be unveiled in Newcastle in July. The plaque will celebrate the singer's links with Newcastle City Hall, where his band Lindisfarne performed more than one hundred and twenty times. It is to be unveiled by Newcastle's Lord Mayor in the presence of family members, friends and former colleagues of Alan. Former Lindisfarne members will play a street concert after the ceremony on 19 July. Hull died in 1995 aged fifty. The group had several top ten hits, including 'Meet Me on the Corner', 'Lady Eleanor' and 'Run for Home'. Their 1971 LP Fog on the Tyne reached number one in the UK charts and, for a certain generation of Tynesiders, is something of a musical touchstone. In addition to those who knew Alan personally, the council is encouraging anyone who enjoyed his music to attend the unveiling ceremony in order to 'celebrate the wonderful contribution that Alan made to his home city.' Newcastle councillor Henri Murison said Alan's legacy 'continues to be an inspiration to musicians and artists both here on Tyneside and also around the world.' The singer's daughter, Rosamund, said the family was 'touched and proud' at the decision to honour her father's memory with the plaque. 'It's a very fitting tribute as the City of Newcastle inspired Alan and when he played at Newcastle City Hall he truly felt at home. I'm sure there are great memories for every Lindisfarne fan who witnessed the legendary Christmas concerts there,' she said. Of whom yer actual Keith Telly Topping was one, dear blog reader. Third gig I ever went to, 23 December 1976. It was effing brilliant.

And, so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which, today, features the last song Lindisfarne played that night back in 1976. Happy days and one of the best live bands yer actual Keith Telly Topping has ever seen. Gan canny, bonny lads.