Sunday, May 13, 2012

Just Who is The Five O'Clock Hero?

A nimble little mongrel and his teenage owner have won Britain's Got Talent and helped ITV's flagship light entertainment show to give its BBC rival a damned good thrashing in the ratings. An average of just under 11.4m overnight viewers saw Ashleigh Butler and Pudsey triumph in BGT – more than twice as many as The Voice's 5.6m overnight audience. ITV claimed Britain's Got Talent was 'the highest rating show of the year so far', nudging ahead of a Coronation Street episode that pulled in 11.2m in January. They're presumably talking about overnight audiences - before timeshifts are added - since according to BARB, the 14 April episode of The Voice had a consolidated, final audience of 11.99m. Adding viewers of ITV+1 brought the audience for Saturday's BGT final to close to 11.9m, and a peak audience of 13.8m. The Voice was badly hampered by starting fifty minutes earlier than normal on Saturday. At one stage during a series of head-to-head clashes the BBC show won the ratings battle for three consecutive weeks, but since then it has been losing viewers constantly. Britain's Got More Talent, the ITV2 spin-off show bowed out with 1.59m immediately after the main show, grabbing an extra one hundred and twenty thousand on timeshift. BBC1's The National Lottery: In It To Win It (3.2m) and Casualty (3.35m) followed The Voice and both suffered from facing BGT. Elsewhere, thought, it wasn't all that great a night for ITV with The Cube taking 2.97m and Keith Lemon's Lemonaid a very disappointing 1.78m at 5.45pm. BBC1's screening of the movie Madagascar logged 2.45m. Elsewhere, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring pulled in 1.28m for Channel Four from 6.45pm. Meanwhile, Top of the Pops earned BBC2's largest numbers of the night with 1.42m at 10pm, while CSI: NY drew 1.02m an hour earlier on Channel Five. Overall, ITV1 dominated primetime with 36.2 per cent, ahead of BBC1's 20.2 per cent. Scandinavian drama The Bridge continued with seven hundred and five and six hundred and thirty nine thousand on BBC4 between 9pm and 11pm.

And, speaking of overnight ratings the second series of Matt LeBlanc's Episodes kicked off with more than respectable numbers on Friday night. The sitcom averaged 1.24m for BBC2 at 10pm, despite a lead-in of just 1.01m from Maestro at the Opera. Mastermind (1.78m) and Gardeners' World (2.13m) were broadcast earlier. Very satisfyingly Have I Got News For You (5.14m) and Not Going Out (4.15m) on BBC1 once again overwhelmed Piers Morgan's Life Stories, which was watched by 3.99m sad, crush victims of society on ITV at 9pm for its Dennis Waterman interview. Would I Lie To You? was watched by 3.23m at 8.30pm on BBC1, while The Graham Norton Show entertained 3.42m from 10.35pm. Channel Four's comedy night continued steadily, if unspectacularly. as Eight Out Of Ten Cats grabbed 1.02m at 9pm, nine hundred and forty thousand watched the impressions show Very Important People half-an-hour later, and Alan Carr: Chatty Man had 1.66m at 10pm.

Odious former Scum of the World louse Dan Wootten in the Daily Scum Mail suggests that ITV bosses are 'furious' that the BBC 'may' show Call the Midwife on Christmas Day against Downton Abbey. (My information is that whilst a Call The Midwife Christmas special is to be made, no decision has yet been taken on when it will be shown.) The odious Wootten quotes an ITV 'source' as whinging: 'They have to realise viewer's won't thank them if they have to choose. This is sour grapes because Downton was such a success at Christmas last year.' This blubbing, remember, from the same network which chose to show the opening episode of Britain's Got Talent on the same night as the opening episode of The Voice. One wonders who this alleged 'source' actually is. Or, even, if he or she actually exists. Because, let's face it, looking at the story in a bit more detail we find that ITV are allegedly 'furious' because the BBC might schedule a show against a show which cannot possibly have been scheduled yet? What next? ITV fume because the BBC aggressively schedule shows during daylight hours, against their most expensive adverts, demonstrate 'sour grapes' by creating new and popular programming? This rank and stupidity really is becoming rather depressing. It remains a truism, some people are just scum.

The Britain's Got Talent tour has reportedly been axed this year. Not with an actual axe, one hastens to add. Because that would be illegal and, you know, wrong. 'Bosses' have allegedly decided to scrap the annual roadshow after disappointing ticket sales for last year's tour, the Sun reports. Producers, who blamed poor ticket sales in 2011 on 'a lack of interest' in that year's winner, Jai McDowall, believe 'the current economic climate' means families 'will struggle' to pay for the thirty five quid tickets. 'It costs one hundred and forty pounds for a family of four without the booking fee, refreshments and travel. In the current climate, no-one can afford it,' an alleged 'insider' allegedly said. 'It doesn't help that the last couple of series have been a bit lacklustre. No-one wanted to risk empty seats again.'

Land Girls has reportedly been cancelled. Director Steve Hughes tweeted the news on Friday, saying: 'RIP Land Girls 2009-2011. What an adventure.'

The two recently recovered Doctor Who episodes (Galaxy 4: Air Lock and The Underwater Menace episode two) were shown to an appreciative audience in Cardiff on Wednesday evening. Both episodes were recovered from a collector last year and their existence was revealed at a screening at the BFI in London last December. The episode of The Underwater Menace was shown in full at the Missing Believed Wiped event but only an excerpt of about ten minutes from Galaxy 4 was played, making the Cardiff screening the first time the whole episode had been seen in the UK since its initial transmission in September 1965. The event was attended by Peter Purves, who played Steven in Galaxy 4, along with Anneke Wills and Frazer Hines, who played Polly and Jamie in The Underwater Menace. Following the screening, all three joined current showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods before He) to answer questions about their time on the programme. The panel was hosted by Gary Russell, and the event was attended by many other luminaries from the Doctor Who world, including some of the Restoration Team. There is no news yet as to when (or if) the episodes will be released on DVD, although the BBC has said that it is considering releasing them on iTunes.
Labour's former deputy leader of the Commons, Chris Bryant, has joined growing calls for an investigation into whether the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt broke the ministerial code during his handling of the BSkyB bid. Bryant said that 'a criminal offence may have been committed' if News International was handed information about last year's BSkyB bid by the vile and odious rascal Hunt's office. His comments came amid calls for George Osborne to give evidence to the Leveson inquiry after it was disclosed that former News International chief executive well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and her husband spent a weekend at Dorneywood, the chancellor's official residence, during a key period in the bid by News Corp to take over BSkyB. On Monday, Lord O'Donnell, the former cabinet secretary, and Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former press secretary, are due to give evidence to the inquiry. Bryant said that Lord Justice Leveson had made it clear he would not rule on whether the vile and odious rascal Hunt broke the ministerial code during his handling of the BSkyB bid. Labour has called for the vile and odious rascal Hunt to resign after publication by the Leveson inquiry of e-mails between News International lobbyist Frédéric Michel and Adam Smith, a single 'rouge' special adviser to the viel and odious rascal Hunt. Smith quit his post after the revelations last month. Bryant, a former Minister for Europe, told the BBC's Sunday Politics programme: 'The point nobody can run away from in either Downing Street or Jeremy Hunt's office is the fact that every element Fred Michel predicted the secretary of state would say [in parliament], he did say. News International knew information about what the secretary of state was going to say before he said it, and also before commercial operators did. That's a criminal offence, a straightforward criminal offence.' The culture department said that the vile and odious rascal Hunt would 'respond fully' to all allegations about his conduct when he gives evidence to the Leveson inquiry. 'It has already been made clear that when Fred Michel has claimed in e-mails to be speaking to Jeremy Hunt, that was not the case,' a spokesman said. David Cameron has said the vile and odious rascal Hunt should be allowed to give his evidence to the Leveson inquiry before any judgment is made on whether he has broken the ministerial code. The controversy over the vile and odious rascal Hunt's role took another twist after the Scum Mail on Sunday claimed that a former News International chauffeur is submitting evidence to the Leveson inquiry alleging he had met the vile and odious rascal Hunt to discuss the company's cash payments to police officers. The vile and odious rascal Hunt's office confirmed that he had met the chauffeur, but denied 'all wrongdoing.' Also present at Osborne's weekend meeting with well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks at Dorneywood, in Buckinghamshire, was Andy Coulson, then Cameron's director of communications and former Scum of the World editor. Labour said that the meeting 'raised questions' about Osborne's judgment and increased the pressure for him to appear at the inquiry. Osborne is only being asked for written evidence but has indicated he is willing to appear in person. Coulson's appointment as director of communications is expected to come under scrutiny at Leveson on Monday, when O'Donnell gives evidence. O'Donnell oversaw the vetting process for civil servants, including advisers such as Coulson, who was subjected to a low level of security clearance when he became director of communications at Downing Street in May 2010. Coulson told the inquiry last week that he may have had 'unsupervised access' to material designated top secret or above and attended meetings of the national security council. He says he did not know at the time what his security clearance was. Senior Tory sources have denied claims in the Independent on Sunday that Coulson refused to sign a confidentiality deal. 'We have a copy of a singed agreement,' an alleged 'source' allegedly said.

Ofcom have stated that they might review and change the current code on where channels can be placed. The channel number on an electronic programme guide can be vital for securing a good viewing audience. As Ofcom opens up for applications for new local television stations, Sky and Virgin Media have been asked where they intend to place the new local services. Ofcom received initial proposals from Sky, Virgin Media and Freesat as to what they intend to do. The regulator went on to say that if they don't meet to current legislation set out by the Communications Act 2003, they will look to review and change rules to ensure that the new local services are given prominence in the EPG system. A number of applicants have expressed concern as to where they will be placed on the services, fearing they could be place the news genre section. Ofcom has clarified that while news will be an important part to the new local channels, it will not be the 'primary purpose.' Sky have provisionally selected channel one hundred and seventeen (channel one hundred and thirty four in Wales) along with three extra spaces at the end of the entertainment section for any other local services which may launch in the region. There will also be a yellow button to draw up a menu of local services and on demand content on Sky Anytime+. Virgin Media would prefer to have content accessible via their on demand TiVo service. An EPG number, close to the BBC News Channel, will give a link to access the services. Ofcom say that they will continue to discuss and review the matter with relevant parties. Freesat told Ofcom that they are not currently in active discussions with local TV services but would probably have one channel number, similar to Sky. They add that video on demand and IPTV could offer a more 'cost effective approach' For Freeview, channel eight for England and Northern Ireland (channel forty five in Scotland and Wales).

Two people have been arrested in the United States and charged with trying to extort money from the singer Stevie Wonder. Alpha Lorenzo Walker and his girlfriend Tamara Eileen Diaz threatened to reveal 'embarrassing information' about the star, officials in Los Angeles said. Both deny the accusations and are in custody awaiting a preliminary hearing on 16 May. A judge will decide if there is enough evidence for the two to stand trial. LA district attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison said that Walker contacted Stevie Wonder's representatives and claimed to have 'embarrassing information' about the musician. Detectives organised a sting operation and the pair were arrested, she said. Officials said Walker had identified himself as a relative of Stevie Wonder. Police have not released any additional details about the investigation.
Sheikh Yer Man City FC scored two dramatic injury-time goals to see-off ten-man Queen's Park Strangers and win the Premier League title on Sunday afternoon. Pablo Zabaleta had put City ahead before Herman Munster lookalike Joleon Lescott's calamitous mistake let Djibril Cisse (himself no oil painting) in to blast home an equaliser. Then, arch psycho nutter Joey Barton was sent-off for a clash with Carlos Tevez. Tevez had appeared to strike Barton first but Barton's reaction of elbowing the Argentine, hard, reet in the mush was spotted by the linesman. The referee, Mike Dean, produced a red card and chaos ensued as Barton went off-it. Before eventually leaving the field, he kicked Sergio Aguero up a-height and then aimed to try and stick-the-heed on City captain Vincent Kompany as Kompany attempted to intervene in the melee. City substitute Micah Richards raced onto the pitch to drag his old mate Barton off as Barton continued to engage in on-going rows with various City players and coaches, appearing to attempt to break free from Richards at one point and have a go at Mario Balotelli. Which, frankly, would've been a sight to see in and of itself had it happened. But it didn't. On Sky's Soccer Special Jeff Stelling suggested there seemed a genuine possibility that, if he hadn't been stopped, Barton might have attempted to take on the entire City team on his own. BBC pundit Garth Crooks noted: 'This will go beyond the summer. When the FA see this there will be reprisals. It's extraordinary. You can only describe it as an assault on Carlos Tevez. He should get a six-month ban, for that incident alone.' He stopped just short of 'oh, the humanity,' though. The Football Association will, no doubt, now analyse the incident and it is more than likely that Barton will face a lengthy suspension for his behaviour. 'I've not seen it,' Mark Hughes claimed, having seemingly developed a dose of Arsene Wenger's selective myopia. One wonders what Barton will have to say about that on Twitter. This, actually. Remarkably, soon afterwards Jamie Mackie put the Strangers in front with an excellent goal against the run of play. With The Scum's beating Blunderland 1-0 at The Stadium of Shite thanks to a Wayne Rooney goal, City looked set to miss out on the their first League Championship title since they won the old First Division in 1968 but, deep, deep into injury time Edin Dzeko levelled with a header and then, with virtually the last kick of the game, Aguero won it for the Blues. Despite all that, and crazy Barton's best efforts, the Strangers still managed to stay up themselves, as hapless Notlob could only draw 2-2 at Stoke. The Arse secured a place in next season's Champions League with a thrilling victory at The Hawthorns which owed much to a series of dreadful errors made by West Bromwich Albino's goalkeeper Marton Fulop. The 3-2 victory means twisty-faced Arsene Wenger's side finished the season in third place ahead of their North London rivals Happy Harry's hapless Sottingtot Hotshots whose 2-0 victory over Poor Bloody Fulham Haven't Got A Chance saw them finish fourth. They will now have to wait until Moscow Chelski FC's Champions League final next week against yer actual Bayern München. Should the crack Russian side win the trophy, they will occupy the fourth place in next season's Champions League competition as the holders. If the Hotshots do miss out, they'll be in the Europa League along with yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Magpies who ended a season of massive and unexpected over-achievement on something of a damp squib, losing 3-1 at yer actual Everton. It was Newcastle's third defeat in their last four games but it shouldn't obscure what a genuinely excellent year it has been for The Magpies - fifth place was something few, if any, predicted at the start of the season. With Moscow Chelski FC in sixth place, Everton finished seventh ahead of their Merseyside rivals the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws who ended a very disappointing (albeit, massively amusing) season with a 1-0 defeat at Swansea. The Alabama Yee-Haws, 'one of the top four sides in the premier League' according to their odious, boastful, greedy, full-of-his-own importance managing director Ian Ayre, and 'a top six club' according to their left-back, ended the season eighth and not even the top club in Liverpool. Which left Kenny Dalglish with a face like a smacked arse. So, no change there, then. At the bottom, poor bloody Notlob joined already relegated Wolverhampton Wannabes and the Blackburn Vindaloos in looking forward to second-tier Championship football in August. Wigan Not Very Athletic ended a season in which they'd spent most of their time in the bottom three, well clear of the relegation zone, beating Wolves 3-2, their seventh victory in their final nine games. Expect the excellent Roberto Martinez to be managing somebody halfway decent next season. Or, the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws, anyway. Also avoiding relegation, along with QPR, were the Aston Villains, who ended a thoroughly average year with a 2-0 defeat at Norwich. Villa boss Alex McLeish said: 'It was an absolutely shocking, woeful display. Maybe some of the boys were thinking about their holidays already. That team needs a change and there will be change. That wasn't an Alex McLeish team today. We need to bring more quality into the squad.' Yeah. good luck with that. Meanwhile, good old sour-faced Sir Alex Ferguson was his usual ungracious self. Speaking after the game at Blunderland, he scowled: 'Nobody expected that. Everybody expected City to win, but they did it against ten men for half-an-hour and with five extra minutes to help them.' I'm sorry, is that Alex Ferguson complaining about a team from Manchester winning a league via injury time goals? Oh, the irony.
Yorkshire batsman Jonny Bairstow has been called up by England to face West Indies in the first Test of the summer at Lord's. Bairstow, twenty two, has six caps at both one-day international and Twenty20 level, but is yet to make his Test debut. He is likely to bat at number six after Ravi Bopara was ruled out by a thigh injury. Durham pace bowler Graham Onions is the only other player in the thirteen-man squad who did not play a Test last winter. But all-rounder Samit Patel, who played in both Tests in Sri Lanka, has been left out. Bairstow plays as wicketkeeper alongside his batsman duties for Yorkshire, but will be able to concentrate on scoring runs if he plays for England with Matt Prior also in the squad. He scored an unbeaten forty one on his one-day international debut against India and was sixty not out in England's thirty eight-run win over Pakistan in their Twenty20 meeting in February. Bairstow follows in the footsteps of his father, David, who played four Tests for England between 1979 and 1981, including two against the West Indies. Jonny's first-class average of 46.37 is bettered by that of Nottinghamshire's James Taylor, who is also twenty two. Taylor scored one hundred and eighteen for England Lions against the West Indies in the first innings of a four-day match. 'We have had many conversations about that,' national selector Geoff Miller told BBC Radio 5Live's Sportsweek. 'It is a tough decision but it is nice that we have got one or two lads knocking on the door to try and fill those places when they come available. The call was for Jonny, but that does not mean it is the end of an opportunity for James Taylor. It is just a matter of him continuing to work hard and score a lot of runs and prove us wrong.' Miller added that it was 'too early' to be sure that Bopara would be back in contention for the second Test at Trent Bridge on 25 May after the Essex man was diagnosed with a grade-two muscle tear. 'We are not going to make any rush decision on that, we are going to let him get his body ready so he can justify a selection,' he added. The third and final Test against West Indies starts at Edgbaston on 7 June, with a one-day series and Twenty20 international to follow. England then play a one-day series against Australia, followed by a three-Test series against South Africa.

Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado took his maiden F1 victory and Williams's first since 2004 in a strategic battle with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. Maldonado, who is in only his second season in Formula 1, won the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona after his team outsmarted Ferrari with pit-stop timing. Alonso survived a late charge from Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen, who took third. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton fought from the back of the grid to eighth, with team-mate Jenson Button taking ninth. Alonso's second place moves him into a tie on points at the head of the championship with Sebastian Vettel, who finished sixth in his Red Bull, passing Button, then Hamilton and finally Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg in quick succession in the closing laps. Vettel is classified as the current Championship leader on results countback. Alonso and Ferrari may well privately regret the decision to delay their second pit stop until two laps after Maldonado made his on the twenty fourth of sixty six laps. Alonso, who started second, beat pole-sitter Maldonado into the first corner and led through the first pit-stop period, after which he had a 3.4-second lead on lap twelve. But Maldonado closed that advantage to one and a half seconds by lap twenty one and when he could not get any closer Williams decided to try to 'undercut' Alonso with an earlier pit stop. It worked to perfection. Ferrari's decision not to stop on the next lap simply made life easier, especially when Alonso was held up by Marussia's Charles Pic during that period - for which the Frenchman earned a drive-through penalty. BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson said: 'I think Alonso was a lap too late and that has cost them.' That left Maldonado with a six second lead. Alonso closed in throughout their third stints, getting the gap down to 4.2 seconds before Maldonado stopped for the final time on lap forty one. Williams had a problem fitting his left rear tyre and that left Alonso was only three seconds adrift when he rejoined from his final stop three laps later. The double world champion quickly closed on to the rear of the Williams, but Maldonado drove cleverly to ensure he was always far enough ahead at the start of the pit straight to ensure Alonso could not pass him. It concludes a remarkable recovery from Williams, who had slumped in recent years to their worst season in their history last year. But changes to the way the team operates, and key personnel at the top, have produced a turnaround in fortunes. 'It's a wonderful day for the team which has been pushing so hard,' Maldonado said. 'We have been trying to improve so much. It was a tough race with the strategy and the tyres after a couple of laps we were struggling after as couple of laps with the rear grip, Fernando did a better start than me, I was just following the pace. It was my first podium and my first victory. You can imagine what I feel.' Alonso began to drop away in the final eight laps - he suspected his car had lost an aerodynamic part - and measured his pace to the charging Raikkonen, who was only 0.6 seconds adrift at the flag. Alonso said: 'We were a little bit unlucky maybe, but they did a great job and they had the pace. If we were faster than the Williams we would have had the opportunity to overtake but they were quicker. It's a step forward in terms of championship possibilities.' Raikkonen said he was 'a bit disappointed', adding: 'I expected to be a bit stronger in the race, especially in the beginning. In the end we were quite quick but it was too late.' The Finn's Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean was fourth, ahead of Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi. Behind Vettel, Nico Rosberg held off a late charge from Hamilton to take seventh, ahead of Button and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg. Vettal's Red Bull team mate Mark Webber was eleventh and out of the points. Hamilton drove a superb, attacking yet measured race to recover from the hugely controversial penalty which demoted him from pole position to the back of the grid. The 2008 world champion stopped only twice when almost all other drivers opted for three (or, in some cases four) stops, and judged perfectly the tactical demands of needing to look after his tyres while also gaining places quickly.

The Foreign Secretary William Hague has called on bosses to 'stop complaining' about the economy and work harder. Speaking to the Sunday Torygraph, Hague said: 'There's only one growth strategy: work hard.' He said the UK needed to 'reorientate' itself, when it came to exports, towards expanding economies such as India, Thailand and Indonesia. But the British Chambers of Commerce said that businesses were already 'busting a gut' and the government could do more. And that Billy Fizz his very self should keep his trap shut and get on with his own job, whatever that is. Labour said it was 'ministers' who needed to 'work harder.' All of which sounds frighteningly familiar. For William Hague, substitute Prince Philip. For 2012, substitute 1982. Speak yer to the nation, Paul Weller.
One wonders if the odious Billy Fizz's boss told his Foreign Secretary about the lyrics of this one, by let's remember, Cameron's 'favourite band.'