Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Mama Said, To Get Things Done, Y'Better Not Mess With Major Tom

TV Comedy line - or, in this case lines - of the week, as usual, came from Have I Got News For You, when guest host Kathy Burke revealed that it is, apparently, illegal to pay a bill of more than ten pounds with small coins. 'You can't pay off coppers?' Ian Hislop exclaimed, with righteous indignation. 'Has anybody told News International?!' There followed, of course, an entire round concerning the very newsworthy arrest of former Scum of the World and the Sun editor and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks earlier in the week. They weren't going to pass up the opportunity to have a bit of larks and merriment over that particular story. Oh, no, not on your nelly. 'We've got to be very careful answering this question,' noted a much more serious-looking than usual Hislop, clearly not wanting to prejudice the forthcoming trial. But, that didn't last very long. 'Mrs Brooks has been charged,' he continued. 'But we're sure she's innocent really,' added guest Ken Livingstone, fresh from his London mayoral beasting by another Have I Got News For You regular Boris Johnson, but, as usual when as a guest on Have I Got News For You, suggesting Ken missed his calling as one of Britian's finest stand-up comedians. This was followed by ten seconds of absolute silence from everyone. Then Ken added: 'I remember watching that moment when she's being chased down the street [by the paparazzi] and thinking about the number of times the buggers have done that to me on her orders. I took some small pleasure out of that!' Hislop, however, was off on one of his regular, and quite brilliant, 'Mr Angry Logic of Sissinghurst' rants. God, it was a sight to see, dear blog reader, and I mean a sight to see: 'Most people when they get charged tend to disappear. She immediately came out [in front of the assembled media] and criticised the Crown Prosecution Service. For daring to charge her! Well, when you've spent two decades telling prime ministers what to do and telling senior policemen what to do, it's a bit difficult [to stop] when the boot's on the other foot! Usually, when the police come to her house it's, you know, to give her a story, or to accept a job one one of her papers.' 'Or, lend her one of their horses,' added Red Ken with comic timing worthy of the team captain on the other side of the studio his very self.
'She can obviously say what she likes,' added Ian. 'But we've got to be much more careful.' At which point, you sensed, the BBC's lawyers were - en masse - hiding under the desk and whispering 'go on, Ian, give her both barrels, you know you want to!' Livingstone seemed to prove this point with his next question: 'So, how long before they bang up Murdoch then, do you reckon?' Moving back to yer actual Crystal Tipps her very self, Ian noted that her husband, the Old Etonian millionaire Charlie, was 'very cross' about the whole situation. A lot of people, Hislop noted had, rather unkindly, suggested that 'Rebekah, during giving evidence at the Leveson Inquiry, had looked like a witch. And then her husband came out and said "it's a witch-hunt." Which some people found very amusing!' There followed a very funny piece on the whole question of 'rushing to judgement' and how the Sun would never, ever, not never do that or anything even remotely like it. Apart, of course, from the time when - with Rebekah Brooks as the editor behind it - they ran their campaign to 'out' your local paedophile. But, as Ian noted, 'unfortunately a lot of Sun readers couldn't tell the difference between paedophiles and paediatricians. So there was an attack on the house of a doctor.' The subject then moved to David Cameron's 'textual relationship' with yer actual Brooks. 'He was texting her all day and, occasionally, he wrote "LOL",' noted Ian. 'He didn't know what it meant. He says it meant "Lots of love", which somehow is far more appropriate [when writing] to a senior executive who's bidding for a media contract, whereas the rest of us think it means "laugh out loud." Which we're doing now!' The Daily Scum Express, apparently, had an entire article based on further examples of Cameron misunderstanding text-speak suggesting that the prime minister probably believes IMHO means 'is my horse outside?' and WTF is short for 'where's the fag?' Old Ardinian Hizza then claimed that you don't say 'where's the fag?' you bellow 'fag up!' 'And they run up the stairs and produce coffee. It's a perfectly workable system!'
'How did Rebekah Brooks stay in touch with the customs of the ordinary folk when she was editor at the Sun?' asked Kathy. 'Err ... she listened to their voice mails?' suggested Paul Merton, as usual on blistering form himself. 'Which other hard-faced shameless bastard was at the Leveson Inquiry this week?' asked Kathy. 'Can you narrow it down a bit more?' asked Ken. She was, of course, referring to Alastair Campbell. Summing up, Kathy quoted from Brooks's statement to the press after she was charged: '"While I have always respected the criminal justice system, I have to question today whether this decision was made on a proper, impartial assessment of the evidence." Said Rebekah, forty three, from Chipping Norton,' as a mock-up of Crystal Tipps as a Sun page three girl appeared.
One imagines the BBC lawyers had an extra big chuckle about that. The audience certainly did. 'The prospect of Rebekah being sent to jail is particularly bad news for David Cameron,' yer actual Kathy concluded. 'Who is now facing a Christmas dinner with just Jeremy Clarkson.' God bless you and all your works, Have I Got News For You. Don't ever change.

Doctor Who showrunner and Sherlock co-creator The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) is to receive a special award at this year's BAFTA TV awards, organisers have announced. Which is jolly good news for many reasons, not least of which is that it will, no doubt5, be making some of The Special People gurn into their muesli this morning. And, that's never a bad thing. Recognising his 'outstanding creative writing contribution to television', the award will be presented on 27 May at London's Royal Festival Hall. Previous recipients include The Moffster's predecessor at Doctor Who Russell Davies. 'Blimey! A special award!' said yer actual Moffat on Twitter, 'I didn't even know I was ill.' Ba-doom. Thank you, he's here all week. The accolade follows the writing prize he received at last Sunday's BAFTA Craft Awards for A Scandal in Belgravia, the first episode of Sherlock's second series. The Paisley-born writer, fifty, won his first BAFTA in 1991 for Press Gang and was further recognised for his work on Doctor Who and Sherlock in 2008 and 2011 respectively. Steven, who will probably now have to buy a new mantelpiece to hold all his BAFTAs, said that he was 'so thrilled' to be recognised again, 'especially after two years of [working on] my two favourite shows ever.' BAFTA chair Tim Corrie described Moffat as 'one of the finest exponents of his craft' and said that the special award - presented in honour of Dennis Potter - was 'very well deserved.' Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch is up for the best actor prize at this year's awards, which will also see his co-stars Martin Freeman and Andrew Scott go head to head in the supporting actor category, the award which Freeman won last year. Australian entertainer Rolf Harris - subject of a major retrospective at Liverpool's Walker Gallery opening this week - will be awarded the BAFTA Fellowship at the event, to be hosted by Dara O'Briain.

Tim Vine has reported left BBC1's hit sitcom Not Going Out. The stand-up has announced that he is leaving after the current fifth series which finished this week, saying he is 'ready for something new.' He added: 'I'm great friends with everyone on the cast and I've had a great time doing it but after five series I simply fancied a change.' Although the BBC actually cancelled the show in 2009, it subsequently had a change of heart, and has already commissioned two further series of the popular flat share sitcom, taking it up to 2014. The decision paid off, as the sitcom now attracts audiences of up to five million for a single showing. Co-star and series creator Lee Mack joked: 'Tim? Is he the blond one?' Last year it was reported that Vine was to quit his role as Mack's best friend, also called Tim, after the fourth series, but that proved to be premature. The show has survived several previous cast changes. American actress Megan Dodds was Mack's flatmate in the first series, but left to be replaced by the excellent Sally Breton, while Miranda Hart quit her role as cleaner Barbara when her own eponymous sitcom started to take off at the end of 2009.

And speaking of Not Going Out, the comedy recorded a series high overnight audience for the last episode of its sixth run on Friday. The Lee Mack sitcom pulled in a slot-winning 4.69m at 9.30pm, increasing over five hundred thousand week-on-week. With another batch of episodes due next year, the comedy has increased its average audience by over two hundred thousand on the 2011 series, despite broadcasting in the spring instead of winter. Have I Got News For You - guest hosted by Kathy Burke, see above - gave Not Going Out a solid lead-in of 5.43m, while 3.68m watched another very good episode of Would I Lie To You? at 8.30pm, with yer actual Bob Mortimer on particularly fine form. The Graham Norton Show, featuring Will Smith, Gary Barlow and Sir Tom Jones, jumped to a new series high of 4.08m from 10.35pm. Elsewhere, Lulu's turn on the odious, oily Piers Morgan's Life Stories attracted 4.55m to ITV in the 9pm hour, and a further two hundred and forty thousand punters on timeshift. So, for the sixth time in six weeks, the odious, oily Morgan lost the slot. Despite this, he was on Twitter first thing on Saturday morning, crowing about his ratings and claiming a figure of 5.1m. Quite where the odious louse got that particular figure from, no one knows, but at least this week he didn't pull the trick he tried three weeks ago in claiming to have got more viewers than Have I Got News For You when he, and his thoroughly odious show actually, hadn't. The News at Ten was watched by a larger-than-usual audience of 2.26m at 10pm, closing the gap slightly on BBC News, which had 4.16m. Poms in Paradise performed wretchedly against a popular edition of EastEnders, with 2.99m at 8pm. ITV's soaps also drew typically strong audiences between 7pm and 9pm. On BBC2, a repeat of Coast (1.94m) and Mastermind (2.05m) scored good numbers, but the channel's audience fell for Maestro at the Opera (eight hundred and seventy thousand) at 9pm and Episodes (nine hundred and eighty thousand) an hour later. BBC1 overtook ITV overall in primetime, averaging 23.2 per cent of the audience share compared to the commercial network's 21.8 per cent.

It has been reported that Stephen Fry wants his gravestone to read: 'With thanks to the ingraver for speling my epitarf propperly [sic].' He was among the celebrities to write their own epitaph in a publicity drive for Dying Matters Awareness Week. Alexei Sayle apparently wants his to say: 'Surely there's been some mistake,' while Louis Theroux suggested: 'So would you call THIS "man flu"?' of course, the most famous suggested epitaph was Spike Milligan's 'I told you I was ill.' Yer actual Keith Telly Topping would like his to read, 'one more chip never hurt anyone' dear blog reader.
Armando Iannucci has revealed that writing has finished on seven brand new episodes of The Thick of It. The writer confirmed on Twitter that the popular political comedy would return to the BBC during 2012. 'Oh, and we've finished writing seven episodes of The Thick of It, to be shown on BBC2 later this year,' he said. Earlier, the Caterham F1 team's Head of Communications Tom Webb claimed to have spotted Peter Capaldi in Westminster being filmed in character for the upcoming fourth series. 'In London for meetings. Just passed MASSIVE news - Malcolm Tucker filming new scened for The Thick Of It outside Portcullis House,' he wrote.
Actor Chris Addison last year told the Digital Spy website that the next series of the show would start filming this spring. Earlier this month, it emerged that BBC America had received viewer complaints for bleeping out the swear words in its US broadcasts of the show.

North Wales police have referred Sky News to the Crown Prosecution Service and the attorney general's office following the allegedly 'accidental' broadcast of a rape victim's name. Officers from North Wales police on Thursday questioned four staff at Sky News' Osterley headquarters after the broadcaster inadvertently displayed a Twitter feed which named the nineteen-year-old victim on-air last month. The mistake occurred as part of a report on Twitter users who allegedly revealed who the footballer Ched Evans's victim was following his conviction for rape. Sky News said in a statement: 'Yesterday we met with North Wales police to demonstrate and explain the technical error which caused the inadvertent broadcast of the victim's name in a recent serious sexual assault case. The name was on screen for a fraction of a second and was visible only when viewed in slow motion. We apologised to the victim and her family as soon as we became aware of the error and are co-operating fully with the police.' A formal interview took place with Sky News staff and the investigation will continue, according to the North Wales force, which said that it was now up to the CPS whether to press charges. A North Wales police statement confirmed: 'The case, as with all other cases in the investigation into the naming of the victim on social media sites, will be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service and the attorney general's office.' Detective chief inspector Steve Williams said that Sky News 'has fully co-operated with the investigation.' Sixteen men and women from North Wales and South Yorkshire have been arrested and bailed during the investigation so far. The police statement added: 'The force is reminding people that the law gives rape victims and other victims of serious sexual offences, anonymity for life and that if anyone publishes a victim's identity they will be subject to investigation and possible criminal proceedings.' Evans was jailed for five years last month at Caernarfon crown court after being found guilty of raping the woman who was 'too drunk to consent.'

And speaking of footballers, Ryan Giggs has settled his phone-hacking civil action against the Scum of the World publisher News International, the high court has been told. The amount The Scum winger received in damages was not disclosed at a phone-hacking case management conference at the high court on Friday, but is likely to run to tens of thousands of mucho lov-er-lee wonga for yer actual Giggsy-wiggsy. Which is nice. Giggs launched his action against the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World almost a year ago, in June 2011, weeks after he was visited by Metropolitan police officers who told him that his name was in the notes of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the centre of the phone-hacking scandal. Giggs was in the first group of litigants to sue News International last October but was one of six carried over to the second round of cases because of what were described as 'outstanding issues.' The Mulcaire paperwork details the private investigator's activities during 2005 and 2006, when Giggs was allegedly conducting an eight-year affair with his sister-in-law, details of which were revealed by the Scum of the World shortly before its closure in disgrace and ignominy last year. Hugh Tomlinson QC, the counsel for phone-hacking victims, told the case management conference on Friday that there were still forty six active cases against News International. 'There are forty seven issued claims on the register, one of which has settled since the last case management conference,' Tomlinson said in court. One new case has been lodged since the last case management conference, by TV presenter June Sarpong, who hosted a Channel Four's Sunday morning strand T4 for eight years. Others on the list of active claimants include Cherie Blair, David Beckham's father Ted, actor Jimmy Nesbitt and Emma Noble, John Major's former daughter in law. Mr Justice Vos, who is overseeing the phone-hacking litigation, said there were 'over one hundred cases' on the group register, indicating that many more have yet to file their claims with the court. Friday's case management conference was aiming to establish a tariff of costs that could be expected by any new claimant. Vos is determined to keep costs down by ensuring common research is shared among all litigants where possible. He repeated his warning made at the last conference that litigants were entitled to representation but not to use solicitors who had 'no knowledge of phone-hacking' and passed all ensuing costs on to News International. Tomlinson told the court there were three types of cases ranging from the worst instances of sustained phone-hacking and surveillance, such as that suffered by the actor Jude Law, to the smaller cases which involved hacking but did not result in any article being published. Asked how many cases similar to Law's were likely to come before the court, Michael Silverleaf, QC for News International, said: 'I don't think it would be in the tens.' Law was awarded damages of one hundred and thirty thousand smackers earlier this year after it emerged he had been targeted for three years between 2003 and 2006. Vos said that he wanted to ensure costs were 'modest' and proportionate to the damages but said that claimants who did not have articles published against them still had the right to a full investigation. 'Clients will only settle when they know the are being properly investigated. It has to be a cathartic. The whole purpose of this litigation is to achieve peace with the people who have been intercepted,' the judge said.

Sky Atlantic has said it is making a 'conscious investment in British drama' ahead of the premiere next week of its first UK-commissioned show, featuring Chloë Sevigny as a transgender hitperson. In the show, Hit & Miss, Sevigny is propelled into taking responsibility for her former partner's brood of unruly kids. Writer Paul Abbott said it combined separate ideas for 'two series that shouldn't automatically fit together.' But he added: 'I get bored with everything looking the same and actually real life slams things against you that aren't comfortable; families that don't fit a jigsaw that all fits together.' The show will be broadcast on Sky Atlantic – which largely shows US imports, including HBO's Big Love, in which Sevigny starred – on Tuesday. 'I'd love to tell you we had to fight [to get Hit & Miss commissioned] – but I'm so much more pleased that [Sky's] minds were open, because the whole landscape was looking bankrupt of brand new drama,' said Abbott, praising the channel's attitude towards commissioning challenging British shows with longer runs. Sevigny, who had to wear a prosthetic penis to play Mia, a pre-operative transgender assassin, said while she was impressed with the script – written by Sean Conway from an idea created by Abbott – she was also worried about doing the role justice. 'I was wondering why they didn't want to cast a man or a real transgender person and I guess they'd met with a lot of people and it didn't work out. And I was afraid of the pressure from the gay community or the transgender community and how they would feel, and wanting to be respectful,' said Sevigny. Producer Nicola Shindler said the team had considered casting a transgender actor in the lead role. 'In the end we wanted the best actor,' she said. The drama has a cinematic look that, Sky hopes, will allow it to hold its own alongside the channel's big-budget US imports, with its American star – although she takes on an Irish accent for the show – reinforcing its ambitions. However, the glamour of British television does not quite match up to those of its US equivalents, said Sevigny. 'It was a lot more low-budget than I expected. Because I'd been working on Big Love for so many years with HBO, that was a very luxurious production, they had a lot of money. And, I guess I came here and I saw the set and the crew and the Winnebagos and whatnot I was like: "Really?" So it was like making a small low-budget independent film for five months, which can be trying.' Hit & Miss is the latest drama to hit British screens that features a strong female lead character in a show with elements of a thriller. 'Every time you see [a female protagonist] work or see one be as special as The Killing was or as special as this is, it just automatically inspires writers to be more confident with outspoken female roles,' said Abbott, creator of some of the greatest British TV formats: State of Play, Touching Evil, Clocking Off and Shameless. And, Linda Green for which we'll just have to try and forgive him. 'Male and female writers should just aim higher with their female characters.' Naomi Gibney, director of Sky Atlantic, said the channel was making 'a conscious investment in British drama.' It was about finding the 'right project and the right team,' she said. Falcón, a four-part drama based on Robert Wilson's novels, will follow later in the year, while the channel also has a project about the machinations of European politics in development with Canal Plus.

The founding editor of the BBC's Ceefax service - the world's first teletext service - has died at the age of eighty five. Colin McIntyre, who worked for the BBC for thirty years, died in hospital on Tuesday after a short illness. When Ceefax was launched in 1974, he updated all twenty four news pages on his own, feeding punch tape into machines. When he retired in 1982, Ceefax had a twenty-strong team. It went on to attract twenty two million viewers a week and inspired teletext services around Europe. Ceefax will end its transmissions in October when the digital switchover is completed. McIntyre's death comes just four weeks after the service was switched off in London. The technology for the world's first teletext service was developed by BBC engineers who were trying to find ways of providing subtitles on TV programmes for the deaf, rather than produce a news service. They found that a normal television picture of six hundred and twenty five lines has 'spare' lines at the top of the picture that could be used to transmit words or numbers. McIntyre, who had worked at the BBC since 1952 including a spell as a correspondent based at the UN, was then appointed as the first editor of the service. At one stage, he had the country's only Ceefax-enabled TV set at his home. In Ceefax's early days he worked regular office hours so the service was not updated in the evenings or at weekends. The audience take-up rate was slow for the first seven years, because of the expense of the decoders needed to broadcast Ceefax onto TV sets, but soon the service expanded year-by-year. He took early retirement at the age of fifty five to write books, while acting as a teletext consultant in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. His publications included Monuments of War: How to Read a War Memorial and World War II At Sea. He also became one of the Oasis poets - World War II servicemen who wrote poetry about their experiences between 1939 and 1945. Born in Argentina, McIntyre had come to the UK aged seventeen to join the Army and was commissioned in his father's county regiment, The Black Watch. He later served as a platoon commander and company commander with the Lovat Scouts in Greece, and as a captain and staff officer with the Sixth Airborne Division in Palestine. After leaving the Army, he took an honours degree at Harvard University, which he attended at the same time as Edward Kennedy. He was a renowned journalist at the BBC and became one of the youngest chief-sub editors in the newsroom when he was promoted to that role in 1955. He later trained as a TV producer and served as a correspondent at the UN during the Suez and Hungary crises before becoming the BBC's chief publicity officer for seven years and programme promotions executive between 1972 and his appointment as Ceefax editor in 1974 just in time for the February 1974 general election. He is survived by his American wife Field with whom he recently celebrated sixty years of marriage, three daughters and a son, four grandsons, three grand-daughters and a great-grand-daughter. His daughter Miranda McIntyre, who also had a spell working on Ceefax, said that her father had always been very proud of his role developing the world's first teletext service. She said: 'He was a great communicator and quickly saw the opportunity to broadcast news and sport details as they happened, building up a team of journalists all expert at typing "live copy". It is hard to imagine in these days of the Internet, but this was the first time that viewers could access the latest news whenever they wanted it, rather than waiting for the next news bulletin.'

Dannii Minogue won't be returning as a judge on The X Factor, a spokesperson for the show has confirmed. Oh. Right. So, that's the end of that news item, then.

In an event covered live and with some fanfare on The ONE Show, the Olympic flame has landed in the UK on board a flight from Athens, ready for the London 2012 torch relay. The plane touched down at a Cornish air base just before 7:30pm carrying Princess Anne, LOCOG chairman Lord Coe and yer actual David Beckham. Flight BA2012, a gold-coloured A319 named The Firefly, was greeted at RNAS Culdrose by cheering crowds. After a welcoming ceremony, the flame flies early on Saturday to Land's End for the start of an eight thousand mile relay. On the tarmac, David Beckham used a London 2012 torch to take the flame from the transportation lantern and lit a cauldron to celebrate its arrival on British soil. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was at the Royal Naval air station to formally welcome the flame with five hundred members of the public, armed forces and dignitaries. And Chris Evans, Alex Jones, Sophie Raworth and Lucy Siegle. And Boris Johnson. In no particular order, you understand.
Clegg said: 'Eight thousand people will pass it from hand-to-hand, a human chain that reaches the length and breadth of Britain. With every step, the excitement will build. Ten weeks from now, the world will watch as the flame arrives at the Olympic Stadium, bringing with it the hopes of a nation." Chairman of Olympic organisers LOCOG, Lord Coe, who went to Greece for the lighting and handover of the flame, said this next stage in the build-up to the Games was a 'magical moment for any host country.' On Saturday morning, the flame will be flown the twenty five miles to Land's End by a Royal Navy search and rescue helicopter. There, triple Olympic gold medal-winning sailor Ben Ainslie, who on Friday won a record sixth Finn world title, will be the first of eight thousand torchbearers who will carry it across the country. He said the flame's arrival in the UK, 'Is a fantastic moment for the country. To have the flame on home soil gives everyone a chance to feel close to the Olympics and build up to the Games themselves.'

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day which, today, for the second time this week, features the Grand Dame her very self. I'm happy, hope you're happy to.