Friday, May 11, 2012

If You Have A Friend On Whom You Think You Can Rely You Are A Lucky Man

To the sound on whinging and moaning and gnashing of teeth from the direction of some hippy Communist lice at the Gruniad Morning Star and some jack-booted goosestepping bullyboy thugs at the Daily Scum Mail, Top Gear has been awarded an honorary prize for its global appeal, on the final night of the Rose d'Or festival in Lucerne, Switzerland. 'Approximately seven million cars had to be destroyed to win this award,' joked host yer actual Jeremy Clarkson, as he collected the award. 'This is the best job in the world and I hope I can do it forever,' he added. It was the culmination of an impressive night for British TV, with Channel Four and BBC dominating the awards. Channel Four's Black Mirror: The National Anthem won the Golden Rose for best comedy at the annual television festival. The Charlie Brooker-scripted drama, hailed as 'a twisted parable for the Twitter age', saw the British Prime Minister face a shocking dilemma after a member of the royal family was kidnapped. Channel Four shows Friday Night Dinner and The Million Pound Drop Live also picked up awards, for best sitcom and best game show, respectively. Cult CBBC show Horrible Histories won the award for best children's television series, while the BBC's The Great British Bake Off, which saw contestants battling it out to win the title of best amateur baker, won best lifestyle show. ABC's Pan Am series - recently shown on BBC2 - won the Golden Rose for best series, despite a critical panning on both sides of the Atlantic. The drama series, starring Christina Ricci as an air stewardess, was cancelled after one season. Three nominees were shortlisted for each of the twelve competition categories from a pool of more than four hundred programmes. The winners were chosen by a panel of ten jurors.

Lesley Sharp has said that Matt Smith is doing a 'wonderful' job as The Doctor. The Scott & Bailey actress starred as Sky Silvestry in series four Doctor Who episode Midnight opposite the David Tennant's Doctor. Of then showrunner Russell Davies's suggestion that she could be the first woman Doctor, Sharp told Metro: 'I think he was kidding around. He's fantastic though.' Asked if she wanted the role, she replied: 'I think Matt Smith's doing a wonderful job.' Sharp told the Gruniad Morning Star last year of Davies's original comments: 'It was immensely flattering to hear, but I think the chances of them getting an old bird to play The Doctor are very slim.' The actress previously collaborated with Davies on Bob & Rose and The Second Coming and said of working with him: 'I learned a lot from Russell, who is the most wonderful writer. He and I just agreed on how much we love television and how important it is. He's amazing. I learned a lot just from watching him on set and how he is with actors.'

Steven Moffat has suggested that Sherlock would suffer if more episodes were produced. PBS exec Rebecca Eaton recently insisted that the Benedict Cumberbatch detective drama will always be comprised of three-part series. '[The format has] worked for us,' agreed Moffat, in an interview with The Huffington Post. 'That will always be the case. It will probably extend the life of the show, because everybody gets to do other things. It's not like Doctor Who, which is twenty four-hour-a-day slavery as long as you're involved in it. That's why people have to escape [that show].' Moffat argued that a shorter run of episodes gives Sherlock 'its pace and intensity. If we now went to a Doctor Who-style series [of thirteen episodes] - which we could have done - those episodes would be a bit pale compared to the ones we do now,' he suggested. 'I don't think we could go the other route now. It didn't go that [three-episode] route because of my commitment to Doctor Who - it was Ben Stephenson of the BBC, the head of drama. He suggested Sherlock should be an event-status television programme.' The series would lose its 'event status' if the quantity of episodes was increased, Moffat added. 'Sherlock arrives back like a rock star into the amphitheatre [but] it can't do that every week,' he said. 'It can do that three times every eighteen months.' The Moffster also admitted that he felt 'tremendous pressure' writing Amy and Rory out of Doctor Who.'The event status of Amy and Rory leaving, which I've just written, you feel tremendous pressure with that,' he said. 'Because you don't know if you've enjoyed a story until it's over, and this is the ending. And then you're bringing someone else in [as the new companion]. All that is massively demanding.' Moffat added that it remains difficult to keep Doctor Who 'very near the top' throughout a series run. 'We're always trying to work out how to get episode seven coverage in the newspapers,' he explained. 'Obviously episode one will [be written about], but how do you make [a later episode] a must-see? There's a constant game of that, because Doctor Who is an expensive show, it has to be very near the top all the time. That's tough to keep going.'

Britain's Got Talent finalists Loveable Rogues have been caught up in 'fix' accusations, following claims that they were 'fast-tracked' through the audition process. Both the Sun and the Mirra allege that the musical trio - Sonny Jay, Te Eugene, Eddie Brett - skipped early pre-filming audition rounds after being approached to apply for the show by producers. Britain's Got Talent representatives have denied the reports, insisting that the recruitment of Loveable Rogues to appear on the show was 'standard procedure' for the ITV talent show. 'We let people know about auditions in lots of ways, from ads in local papers to fliers distributed at festivals,' said a rep. 'As part of this normal process, we may inform some acts about the auditions. All acts are auditioned on their own merits and the judges then decide who goes through to the live shows.' Loveable Rogues told the Digital Spy website last month that they applied for the reality series because they thought 'times are changing' for musicians. 'I don't think there are the clubs and gigs out there now where you can get spotted. If there were, we would have done them. We sat down for ages and thought seriously about how long we could do it. Britain's Got Talent seemed like the plausible thing,' said Eddie. 'If you can't beat them, join them. There's nothing worse than watching people blossom on these programmes, thinking inside to yourself, "I would wash these people away."' Simon Cowell hinted heavily that he wanted to sign Loveable Rogues to his Syco label after their semi-final performance earlier this week.
The former Scum of the World editor Andy Coulson has admitted that he 'may have' had unsupervised access to top secret material while he worked for David Cameron in Downing Street, despite not having undergone the necessary security checks. Coulson's admission at the Leveson inquiry on Thursday afternoon appears to contradict No 10's account of the former News International employee's access to the most sensitive government materials while he was working for the prime minister. It has been consistently claimed that Coulson had 'appropriate' security clearance for his work because he did not have unsupervised access to top secret papers. Downing Street decided that Coulson and some other officials would not undergo rigorous, high-level vetting when the coalition government took power in May 2010. It has maintained the decision was made partly because it felt 'too many officials' had 'unnecessary access' to highly sensitive papers in the previous government and partly to keep down costs. In questions put directly to the prime minister's spokesman and through freedom of information requests over almost nine months, the Gruniad has asked if Coulson had 'unsupervised access to information designated Top Secret or above' at any time. Following an internal review of its handling of the questions, the Cabinet Office replied in March: 'No information is held that shows that Andy Coulson was sent information incorrectly or for which he was not authorised.' But when Robert Jay QC, counsel to the Leveson inquiry, asked Coulson if he had had unsupervised access to material designated top secret or above, he replied: 'I may have done, yes.' Cameron's former director of communications told the Leveson inquiry that he had undergone vetting to 'supervised security check' level in order to work inside Downing Street, a level lower than almost all of his predecessors and successors in a similar role. Under government security rules, only officials who have undergone more stringent 'developed vetting' are allowed unsupervised access to top secret state papers. 'Security check' level clearance grants regular access to material classified as secret, but only 'occasional, controlled access' to top-secret documents. Roles involving unsupervised access to top-secret material require higher-level developed vetting, according to official guidance. 'Developed vetting' involves an extra questionnaire; criminal record, security services and credit reference checks; an extended, typically three-hour, interview, plus reference checks by phone or in person. Investigators ask questions such as: 'Is there anything else in your life you think it appropriate for us to know?' Under cross-examination Coulson told the inquiry he attended National Security Council meetings while he worked in Downing Street between May 2010 and January 2011. Downing Street said that a decision was taken to 'deep vet' Coulson only after a terrorist incident at East Midlands airport revealed the extent to which he needed regular access to intelligence material to conduct his job. The six-month vetting procedure had not been completed by the time he resigned.

The prime minister's judgment moved to centre stage at the Leveson inquiry after Coulson, the former No 10 director of communications, revealed that Cameron and his staff sought no fresh assurances about Coulson's conduct as editor of the Scum of the World after the Gruniad published stories in 2009 suggesting that phone-hacking was rife on his watch at the tabloid. Coulson's evidence came as the Leveson inquiry began its six-week module examining the relationships between press and politicians, which will eventually see Cameron, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown give evidence before the judge. Coulson resigned as editor of the Scum of the World in 2007 saying he took 'ultimate responsibility' for what had happened, even though he claimed that he had 'no knowledge' of the phone-hacking that led to the jailing of Clive Goodman, the paper's former royal editor, and the private investigator hired by the tabloid, Glenn Mulcaire. Cameron has insisted he appointed Coulson believing that Coulson 'deserved a second chance.' In his first public appearance since his resignation from No 10 and his subsequent arrest, Coulson was not cross-examined about his knowledge of phone-hacking at the paper to avoid any risk of prejudice to any future trial. But he revealed that the only time Cameron asked him about the court case which had led to Goodman's conviction was at the time of his initial appointment in May 2007. 'I was able to repeat what I said publicly, that I knew nothing about the Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire case in terms of what they did,' Coulson said. Cameron told Coulson that he had 'conducted some background security checks' on him. Coulson's severance terms from News International, owners of Scum of the World, were also not discussed. In evidence on Thursday, Coulson disclosed that after the Gruniad ran a front-page story in November 2009 suggesting that phone-hacking had been 'widespread' at the paper Cameron made no fresh inquiries. Asked whether he was questioned by Cameron or anyone else after that date about Goodman and Mulcaire, Coulson said: 'Not that I can recall.' By the time that Coulson entered Downing Street in May 2010, the Gruniad had run more than ninety articles about illegal activities at the Scum of the World under Coulson's editorship, fourteen of them on the front page, and Cameron had, allegedly, been 'warned' by a number of political colleagues against hiring Coulson as the No 10 press secretary. As the Gruniad and other newspapers published a succession of disclosures about illegal practices at the Scum of the World under Coulson, Cameron repeatedly defended Coulson, stating as late as January 2011: 'Obviously, when he was editor of the News of the World, bad things happened at that newspaper. I think there is a danger at the moment that he is effectively being punished twice for the same offence.' Downing Street refused to explain the prime minister's apparently incurious attitude, saying he 'would explain his approach' when he gives evidence to the inquiry himself, probably in June. Coulson disclosed that he retained forty thousand smackers-worth of News Corp shares while working at No 10. 'Since resigning from my role as Downing Street communications director, I have given thought to one issue which I now accept could have raised the potential for conflict. Whilst I didn't consider my holding of this stock to represent any kind of conflict of interest, in retrospect I wish I had paid more attention to it,' he said in his witness statement. 'I was never asked about any share or stock holdings and it never occurred to me that there could be a conflict of interest.' Downing Street said that Coulson 'would have been asked' to 'fill out a form' when he was appointed stating whether he had relevant shares that might represent a conflict of interest. Coulson said he had 'no involvement' in the government's response to News Corp's bid to buy BSkyB, but the Conservatives have already faced calls for an independent inquiry after a series of e-mails between the News Corp lobbyist Frederic Michel and a special adviser to the vile and odious rascal Hunt, the lack of culture secretary, were released to the Leveson inquiry. Cameron has steadfastly refused to launch his own inquiry into whether the vile and odious rascal Hunt breached the ministerial code saying he will wait to see what evidence emerges from the Leveson inquiry. In what may prove to be indication of the Leveson inquiry's initial thinking, Robert Jay QC, counsel for the inquiry, asked whether the revelations that almost daily updates were being offered by the vile and odious rascal Hunt's office to News Corp on its BSkyB takeover bid could be evidence of an 'over-cosy relationship. The issue is whether a minister of the crown exercising a quasi-judicial role may have failed to fulfil it because he has demonstrated through his actions that he was too close to News Corporation.' Jay said the 'least serious finding' Leveson could make was that the vile and odious rascal Hunt was 'biased', but the 'most serious' was that the vile and odious rascal Hunt was 'prepared expressly to authorise' his special adviser to 'conduct what in effect were covert communications' with the lobbyist or, put another way, 'provide a running commentary on the bid.

It was no surprise, therefore, when Lord Justice Leveson has said that he would not judge whether the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt had breached the ministerial code over his and his former special adviser's handling of Rupert Murdoch's eight billion smackers bid for BSkyB. In his clearest yet rebuke to David Cameron – who said that the vile and odious rascal Hunt's fate should be decided by the judge's inquiry into phone-hacking and media standards – Leveson said on Thursday that his remit 'did not permit' him to reach a verdict on the minister's conduct. Leveson told the inquiry he would 'look at the facts surrounding the News Corporation bid for the remaining shares of BSkyB', but only in order to 'investigate the culture, practice and ethics of the press and its relationship with politicians.' That, he said, 'may cause me to look at the ministerial code and its adequacy for the purpose.' But Leveson added: 'I will not be making a judgment on whether there has been a breach. That is simply not my job, and I have no intention of going outside the terms of reference that have been set for me.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt's ministerial career has been hanging in the balance since James and Rupert Murdoch gave evidence two weeks ago, and published one hundred and sixty three pages of internal News Corp e-mails which showed the efforts made by company lobbyist Frédéric Michel to influence his department over the Sky bid. These revealed close contacts between Michel and the vile and odious rascal Hunt's single 'rogue' special adviser Adam Smith, who was forced to resign. David Cameron has refused to refer the vile and odious rascal Hunt's case to the arbiter of the ministerial code, Sir Alex Allan. Last month the prime minister said that Leveson inquiry was 'the right place' to examine the vile and odious rascal Hunt's conduct. 'The question is should you set up a parallel inquiry that should duplicate what Leveson is doing? I don't think that would be right,' Cameron said.

Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, is to give evidence to the Leveson inquiry into press ethics on Friday. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks, the former editor of both the Sun and the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, will appear at a full-day hearing set aside for her. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks is expected to come under close scrutiny about her links with David Cameron as the inquiry turns its attention to what inquiry counsel Robert Jay on Thursday referred to as the sometimes 'too cosy' relationship between some media executives and politicians. Downing Street, according to a gleeful Gruniad Morning Star is said to be 'bracing itself' for well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks's appearance, after it was reported that the pair sometimes exchanged more than a dozen text messages a day. The prime minister was also reported to have offered his personal support to Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks after she resigned from News International at the height of the phone-hacking scandal in July last year. Cameron is already on the back foot after Andy Coulson, his former director of communications and another former editor of the Scum of the World, told the inquiry on Thursday that the prime minister had only asked him once about phone-hacking. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks's evidence on Friday will be the first time she has made any public statement since 19 July 2011, when she gave evidence to the Commons culture, media and sport select committee on phone-hacking. She will face a series of questions about her relationship with former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, but the inquiry is likely to place extra scrutiny on her dealings with Cameron. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks is unlikely to be asked about the ongoing police investigations into phone hacking or payments to police officers. She is currently on police bail after being arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept voicemail messages and of corruption on 17 July last year and, separately, held on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice on 13 March this year. The forty three-year-old, who edited the Scum of the World from 2000 to 2003, was criticised by the Commons cross-party select committee earlier in May for overseeing a culture at the Sunday tabloid in which reporters 'acted unethically' in their dogged coverage of the Milly Dowler murder investigation. 'The attempts by the News of the World to get a scoop on Milly Dowler led to a considerable amount of valuable police resource being redirected to the pursuit of false leads,' the committee said in its phone-hacking report. 'For those actions, and the culture which permitted them, the editor should accept responsibility.' Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks became the first female editor of the Sun in 2003. She was made chief executive of News International in September 2009 until 15 July 2011, when she resigned days after the Gruniad's Milly Dowler story. She declined to answer questions from the Commons culture, media and sport select committee on four separate occasions between July 2009 and May 2011, according to its report.

The editor of the Independent on Sunday has robustly defended his decision to publish a story on Andy Coulson's shares in News Corporation after reading the former No 10 spin doctor's confidential evidence to the Leveson inquiry. But John Mullin apologised for the 'trouble' he caused the inquiry after he was effectively summoned by Lord Justice Leveson to explain how Coulson's witness statement was leaked to him. The paper's story, published Sunday 6 May, revealed that Coulson had shares in Rupert Murdoch's media company when he was working as David Cameron's director of communications at Downing Street. Mullin told the inquiry he had been given a printed copy of Coulson's statement to read on Thursday evening and he had read it, but had not retained it or a copy of it. However, he said that he had three 'other sources' for the story and would have been in a position to publish it on Thursday had he been the editor of a daily, not a Sunday, paper. He added that nothing from Coulson's witness statement was used in the story. Mullin said the witness statement did not come from a core participant or a member of the inquiry team, but he declined to comment further on the source. Asked why he had bothered to read the statement when he was aware of reporting restrictions, he said he now regretted having done so. 'I think it's human nature if you are a journalist that you would read it. I think in retrospect it would have been much better all round had I not read the statement,' said Mullin. He took issue with Leveson's reasoning that the publication of material disrupted the inquiry. 'The fact that your inquiry is going on shouldn't stop us from doing good, honest journalism,' Mullin said. 'With hindsight there certainly would have been scope for me to have, at least, sought informal guidance from the inquiry. But I would not want that to be taken as acceptance that the decision I made on Saturday night was entirely incorrect,' he said. 'I do apologise for the trouble this has caused the inquiry.' Leveson said the message might be that it would be 'sensible' if journalists did not read witness statements ahead of their being made public on the inquiry website.

Rupert Murdoch's lack of recollection of a meeting with Margaret Thatcher over his proposed acquisition of The Times in 1981 may have been a case of 'selective amnesia', the Leveson inquiry has heard. The News Corporation founder, chairman and chief executive asked the former prime minister for the private lunch meeting to discuss the purchase of the newspaper, but evidence of the encounter did not emerge until March this year when the relevant papers were released by the Thatcher Foundation. 'Murdoch had apparently no recollection of it whatsoever: his evidence to you [Lord Justice Leveson] was that he still does not, "to be honest", as he put it. One does at least have to ask whether this is selective amnesia,' Robert Jay said on Thursday. Speaking at the start of the third module of the Leveson inquiry, which focuses on the relationship between the press and politicians, Jay questioned whether such an important event in Murdoch's career could have been 'so easily' forgotten. 'The acquisition of The Times and its associated titles must have been one of the most important in his commercial life; this was a time of heightened emotion. Could an intimate lunch at Chequers really have been forgotten?' he asked. Jay's opening statement for module three was designed to sum up previous testimony and present Leveson with some of the arguments he might consider when drawing up his final report about the future of press regulation over the summer. He said that Murdoch's version of events may have a bearing on the media mogul's integrity. 'If you accept Mr Murdoch's evidence on this topic, the point goes no further. But if you do not, the consequences are capable of being wide-ranging,' Jay said. 'Not merely would the selective amnesia appear to be convenient, but inferences might be drawn as to Mr Murdoch's true motives and intentions in seeking out the prime minister's ear in January 1981. Furthermore, this issue is capable of bearing on Mr Murdoch's integrity.' Billionaire tyrant Murdoch told the inquiry two weeks ago that he never asked a prime minister for a favour and Jay said he accepted this was likely to be the case as such powerful figures would behave with more subtlety. 'It is arguable we are witnessing here the interplay between two extremely powerful individuals, where messages are being transmitted by and to finely tuned antennae and implied understandings reached. Mr Murdoch invited himself to that lunch; Baroness Thatcher did not know what was on the agenda; he pushed lightly on the door, and it sprung open,' he said. Jay also raised the question of the relationship between News Corp and the office of the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt. He said the revelations that almost daily updates were being offered by the vile and odious rascal Hunt's office to News Corp on its BSkyB takeover bid could be evidence of an 'over-cosy relationship. The issue is whether a minister of the crown exercising a quasi-judicial role may have failed to fulfil it because he has demonstrated through his actions that he was too close to News Corporation.' Jay said the 'least serious finding' Leveson could make was that the vile and odious rascal Hunt was biased, but the 'most serious' was that the vile and odious rascal Hunt was prepared expressly to authorise his special adviser to conduct what in effect were covert communications with the lobbyist or, put another way, 'provide a running commentary' on the bid. 'The real point here, and it is the point which needs to be examined, if only to be rejected in due course if that is where the evidence leads you, is that the BSkyB bid is really an example in microcosm of an over-cosy relationship giving rise to the appearance, if not the fact, of past favours being traded in, or the perception that future support may be provided,' Jay said.

Lord Rothermere, the owner of the Daily Scum Mail, said he believed it would have been 'rude' to discuss his company's view on Rupert Murdoch's bid for BSkyB at a weekend at the prime minister's country retreat a month after the bid was announced. Rothermere, the executive chairman of Daily Scum Mail & General Trust, told the Leveson inquiry on Thursday morning that he had been to Chequers on 10 and 11 July 2010 – two months after the general election – for a 'friendly weekend' at which David and Samantha Cameron were present, but said that the bid his company later opposed did not come up. Education secretary Michael Gove and his wife Sarah were also at the weekend, and the group was joined for Sunday lunch by the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt, and his wife, Lucia, and Cameron's former boss, the one-time ITV mogul Michael Green. But Rothermere said that media topics rarely arose in the elevated company. Rothermere denied they discussed the bid by Murdoch's News Corporation for full control of Sky at lunch or over the weekend. He was pressed on the subject by Robert Jay, who said the media baron's reluctance to press any case showed 'admirable self-restraint.' Replying, the peer said: 'At Chequers it was a friendly weekend. We were getting on, I didn't want to bring up business. It's sort of rude to do that if you're invited to someone else, even if it is the prime minister, on a friendly basis.' The only discussion about media topics Rothermere had over lunch was at the behest of the vile and odious rascal Hunt. 'The only conversation I had with any minister about media issues was when Jeremy Hunt arrived,' he told the inquiry. 'We talked a bit about local TV. Jeremy was very passionate about his ideas for local TV and wanted us to be a core participant of that.' Rothermere's DMGT was one of a group of media owners, including the publishers of the Gruniad, Daily Torygraph and Daily Mirroa, that joined up to oppose News Corp's eight billion smackers bid for BSkyB. But the peer said that he and his company did not become really concerned until the autumn of 2010 when they began to fear what Murdoch could do by bundling consumer offers for Sky TV and the company's newspapers. The peer told the inquiry that he 'could not recall' discussing the bid with any politicians, and added that he had never met or spoken to the business secretary Vince Cable, who initially had the responsibility for clearing the takeover. He said it did not come up in a formal August 2010 meeting with the vile and odious rascal Hunt either. The Chequers meeting was the only time Rothermere has met Cameron since he became prime minister. The peer published his diary of meetings with top politicians to the inquiry, which showed that he has met no Labour politicians since the May 2010 election. His diary records dinner with the chancellor, George Osborne, in September 2010 and a lunch the following month ahead of a speech by a man he regularly addressed by his Christian name. There were also frequent meetings with Gove, who with his wife was invited to a country weekend at the peer's home in October 2010, and dinner at Mark's Club in December 2010 and February 2011.

Media regulator Ofcom has opened up bidding for operators to set up their own local TV services across the UK. The new network will see up to twenty one US-style local TV stations in areas including Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff and London. The service will be available to all terrestrial viewers and may also be offered on satellite, cable and online. Ofcom said it will decide on successful applicants this autumn, with the new channels expected to launch next year. Licences will be awarded based on a set of criteria including the provision of local news and current affairs, programme proposals, launch date and commercial viability. The twenty one areas Ofcom have selected for local TV are: Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton & Hove, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Grimsby, Leeds, Liverpool and London. Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Preston, Sheffield, Southampton and Swansea will also benefit from the service. The areas were selected for having sufficient levels of interest from potential operators and being technically capable of receiving a local TV service. The BBC Trust also published the final details of its funding contribution for the network. As part of the current licence fee settlement, the BBC agreed to contribute up to twenty five million smackers for the successful bidder to build the network. 'I hope to see some really exciting bids for new local TV channels,' the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt said. 'Local TV will not only create jobs but it will also provide communities with news and content that is relevant to their daily lives.' Yeah, but you won't be around to see it occur, matey.

Overheard in a Tyneside pub last night (yes, yer actual Keith Telly Topping does have a social life), was one chap's considered opinion that Wee Shughie McFee, the osur-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads represents 'everything that's wrong, not just with music but with life' and that, in the opinion-expresser's view, Wee Shughie Mcfee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads should be 'killed, chopped up into little bits and fed to crazed dogs. And then, he continued, the dogs should be killed and chopped up and fed to rats.' One should note at this point, however, that this blogger, whilst admiring greatly the force and spirit of this gentleman's argument, dissociates himself totally with all the killing and chopping up parts. Such actions are, of course, illegal and naughty and against the law as it currently stands. They should, therefore, probably not even be voiced in jest. Not even concerning Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads.

Sky Arts has commissioned two brand new comedies featuring big-name talent. Catherine Tate, Rebecca Front, Sharon Horgan and Katy Brand are to star in Psychobitches, a one-off programme that will air as part of Playhouse Presents. The channel has also ordered a series of Nixon's the One, the comedy-drama about Richard Nixon's presidency devised by Simpsons voice artist Harry Shearer. Psychobitches will star Rebecca Front as a psychotherapist charged with analysing some of history's most famous women and shining a spotlight on their neuroses and obsessions. Catherine Tate will play both Eva Braun and Editch Piaf in the show, Sharon Horgan is to portray Jane Austen and Katy Brand has been cast as Joan of Arc and George Eliot. Joining them on the couch are Sheila Reid as Mother Theresa, Sam Spiro as Mary Whitehouse, Selina Griffiths as Beatrix Potter and Andy Nyman as Sarah, the wife of Abraham. Ben Cavey, Executive Producer at production company Tiger Aspect said: 'Psychobitches has to be one of the most exciting ensembles of female comedic talent and Andy Nyman. The team of writers have created a brilliantly unique and original way of interpreting the sketch genre.' Nixon's the One, which is based on verbatim transcripts of secret tapes made of Nixon during his time in office, debuted on Sky Arts on Thursday 26 April as part of Playhouse Presents. And very good it was too. It will return for a five episode run in the New Year. 'I'm thrilled that Sky Arts have seen the obvious tragi-comic gold in the verbal meanderings of Richard Millhouse Nixon,' said Jimmy Mulville, Executive Producer at Hat Trick, the company behind Nixon's the One. 'Every word in the show is taken verbatim from his tapes. It will make you laugh out loud as your blood runs cold. Did this man once run the world? Really? Watch and be amazed. You couldn't write it.' Psychobitches will be broadcast as part of Playhouse Presents on Thursday 21 June.

And, speaking of Rebecca Front, Sky Living has announced the commission of The Spa, starring Front and Tim Healy. Written by Benidorm creator Derren Litten, the seven-part comedy series is set in a Hertfordshire spa that 'proudly boasts it can cure anyone; the fat, the thin and the lazy. But sadly that couldn't be further from the truth.' The Spa's characters includes Alison (Front), the ambitious yet misguided spa manageress, whose tactless approach and initiatives have a habit of plunging the spa into utter chaos, Marcus (played by Litten himself) a wheelchair-bound fitness instructor, a particularly well-endowed handy man called Eric (Healy), Davina (Debbie Chazen) a hippie therapist and an over-zealous personal trainer named Vron (Nadine Marshall), a chef with some unusual recipes and a suicidal cleaner. The Spa will air on Sky Living this autumn.

Sky Atlantic is to remake Scandinavian crime drama The Bridge. The original series - starring Sofia Helin - is currently being broadcast on BBC4 to great acclaim. French broadcaster Canal+ have teamed with Sky and Kudos Film and TV for a new adaptation, Broadcast reports. The Bridge focuses on a double murder investigation which follows the discovery of two dead bodies, sewn together and dumped on the border of Denmark and Sweden. The new version will reportedly transpose the scene of the crime to the point at which France meets Britain in the Channel Tunnel. Clever. The original Bridge has proved to be popular on BBC4, attracting a peak of around one million viewers for the series debut.

FOX has unveiled a video trailer for this month's season finale of The Simpsons. Lady GaGa appears in the episode Lisa Goes Gaga, which will be shown on Sunday 20 May at 8pm. The trailer features the singer-songwriter swooping over several characters during a live performance and several other clips from the episode while her hit single 'Poker Face' plays. As previously announced, GaGa will guest star as herself in the episode. 'I play a little bit of a slut,' GaGa said of the appearance. 'The apple doesn't fall far from my artistic tree.'
Glee actress Amber Riley has revealed she is leaving the US show at the end of the current series. That would've probably been a big story a couple of years ago when everybody thought Glee was IT. But, sad to say, these days with viewing figures dwindling, it can't even make the top half of the blog.

FOX has axed JJ Abrams struggling series Alcatraz and Bones spin-off The Finder. Neither cancellation is particularly surprising. FOX opted to renew JJ Abrams other series Fringe for a final season rather than give Alcatraz a second season. Alcatraz has not rated well or established itself and,it would appear, not even the Abrams' name could saved it. The Finder, the highly anticipated spin-off from Bones, was widely expected to be dropped because of its disappointing ratings. While Bones has been given a new season order by FOX and continues to perform well, the spin-off failed to settle and find itself a large enough viewer base. Kiefer Sutherland's drama Touch has been renewed for a second season despite its modest ratings. FOX has also picked up Kevin Williamson’s serial killer drama The Following, previously known as Mastermind. The drama will star Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy. FOX has also picked up a drama called Mob Doctor starring Jordano Spiro.

Chelsee Healey is leaving Waterloo Road and promises to make an 'unmissable' exit from the series. The Strictly Come Dancing runner-up has appeared in the school-based drama for six years and in that time her character, Janeece, has gone from being a pupil to working at Waterloo Road as a secretary. But Healey is now filming her last scenes and will make her exit within the next month in order to pursue other projects. She said: 'Waterloo Road and playing Janeece has been a part of my life for six years and I'll be sad to leave the show. Working with the cast and crew has been the best time of my life. I'll miss it so much. I can promise fans my exit will be unmissable – but my lips are sealed.' Waterloo Road's executive producer Cameron Roach said: 'It's been an incredible experience watching Janeece grow from being a pupil to the school secretary. We're currently shooting an emotional and engaging departure storyline, which we're extremely excited about.' The new series of Waterloo Road will be broadcast later this year on BBC1, and a BBC spokesperson confirmed that Healey will appear in 'a substantial number of episodes.'

The BBC's first ever director of archive content, Roly Keating, is leaving the BBC to become the Chief Executive of the British Library. Keating was responsible for developing and implementing the BBC's digital strategy for its programme library. Keating joined the BBC as a general trainee in 1983. One of his many roles in the corporation was as the controller of BBC2 where he launched Dragons' Den, The Choir, Coast, Tribe, Autumnwatch and Springwatch, Who Do You Think You Are? and The Apprentice. He became controller of BBC1 and BBC2 for seven months in 2007. This was after BBC controller Peter Fincham resigned. George Entwistle, the Director of BBC Vision said in an e-mail to all staff in his department that 'it feels weird even to be typing' the news which he said was sad for the BBC. 'He's one of the most generous people in the BBC, always prepared to share his insight, unfailingly loyal, and a passionate advocate of what the BBC stands for' said Entwistle.

Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, had a go at presenting the weather during a tour of BBC Scotland on Thursday. The couple gave a specially-designed report, which featured references to several royal residences. Joking while presenting the round-up, Charles ad-libbed: 'Who the hell wrote this script?' The footage was originally broadcast on BBC Scotland as newsreader Sally Magnusson handed over to Charles for the lunchtime report. A clip of the pair later featured during BBC1's lunchtime bulletin. BBC1 newsreader Sophie Raworth tweeted about the royal couple's special appearance, writing: 'Something I never thought I'd say - watch Prince Charles and Camilla have a go at being weather presenters - shortly on BBC News at One.' BBC1's real weather presenter joked afterwards: 'Proof that even the Royals can't give us dry weather at the moment.'
A poll has appeared to highlight the high percentage of people who believe that the world will end in their lifetime. Karen Gottfried questioned over sixteen thousand people from twenty two countries - mostly numskulls, admittedly - around the world. She said: 'Whether they think it will come to an end through the hands of God, or a natural disaster or a political event, whatever the reason, one in seven thinks the end of the world is coming.' And, six in seven, don't. Gottfried, who conducted the poll for Reuters, explained: 'Perhaps it is because of the media attention coming from one interpretation of the Mayan prophecy that states the world "ends" in our calendar year 2012.' Only six percent of the pessimists are French, with a far higher twenty two percent from Turkey. Russia had the largest percentage of people expecting the worst, with the lowest coming from Great Britain. Hurrah, for us. The researcher also noted that people with 'inferior education', lower household income, and those under thirty five years old, were more likely to believe that the world will end sometime in 2012 or during their lifetime. Glakes, in other works.

And so to your actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And why not.