Monday, May 14, 2012

We Cannot Cling To The Old Dreams Anymore

Stephen Fry has announced that he is working again with former comedy partner Hugh Laurie. The pair, best known for their legendary BBC sketch show A Bit of Fry & Laurie, will reunite for a 'project' in the near future. Apart from a documentary the made for GOLD two years ago about their career and friendship, and Laurie's appearance in the first episode of Qi in 2003, it will be the first time they have worked together since A Bit of Fry & Laurie ending 1996. The Qi host tweeted today: 'M'coll Hugh Laurie and I are cooking up a project together. We will be working again soon. Sorry to be mysterious but more news when I can.' The duo also starred alongside each other in ITV's award-winning adaptation of the PG Wodehouse novels Jeeves and Wooster between 1990 and 1993. Fry and Laurie reunited in 2010 for a GOLD retrospective, celebrating thirty years of their TV partnership. Laurie, who is currently the highest-paid actor on US television, recently shot the last episode of his hit FOX medical drama House, which is due to be shown in America next week.

The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) has been honoured with a writing prize at this year's BAFTA Craft Awards. A Scandal in Belgravia, the opening episode of Sherlock's acclaimed second series, was also recognised for its sound and editing at Sunday's ceremony. The shows took home three prizes at Sunday night's ceremony in London, which was hosted by Alan Davies. It was Moffat's third BAFTA after previous wins for Press Gang and Doctor Who. The Dickens adaptation Great Expectations and wildlife documentary Frozen Planet also won three awards at the event, which recognises behind the scenes talent. Moffat said he was 'genuinely, utterly thrilled' by his latest accolade. Frozen Planet was also honoured for its sound and editing and picked up an additional prize for photography. The BBC1 series faced criticism last year - mostly from the Daily Scum Mail and all of it with the pungent whiff of 'agenda' smeared all over it, an inch thick - after it emerged that footage of newborn polar bear cubs featured in the programme had been shot in an animal park rather than at the South Pole as no one had ever even remotely suggested it had been. Great Expectations' awards came for its production design, visual effects and photography and lighting. The three-part period drama had led the field prior to this year's ceremony, with nominations in seven categories. Held at the Old Truman Brewery in East London, the event also saw recognition for ITV's Appropriate Adult, the BBC war drama Birdsong and Channel Four's Educating Essex. Hugo Blick was honoured with his first BAFTA in the 'Director: Fiction' field for his work on BBC2's crime thriller The Shadow Line, former Roxy Music keyboard player Brian Eno picked up his first BAFTA for his soundtrack to gang thriller Top Boy, while colourist Aidan Farrell received a special award for his contributions to such shows as Wallander and Downton Abbey. The main BAFTA TV awards will be presented at a ceremony in London on 27 May. Appropriate Adult, ITV1's dramatisation of the investigation into serial killer Fred West, is the front-runner, with four nominations. Sherlock and Channel Four drama This Is England '88 also have three nominations each. And Australian entertainer Rolf Harris will be awarded the BAFTA Fellowship.

Ashleigh Butler has revealed that she plans to spend up to half of her winnings from Britain's Got Talent on her pet dog and partner, Pudsey. What, exactly, Pudsey intends to do with his share of the winnings, he hasn't yet said.

The nail-biting finale to the Premier League football season delivered bumper overnight ratings for Sky Sports and Match of the Day on Sunday, with more than three million punters watching Sheikh Yer Man City clinch the title with their injury time win over Queen's Park Strangers on the BSkyB pay-TV channel. And, The Scum winning nothing, which was an added bonus. Live Super Sunday on Sky Sports 1, which was showing the City game, averaged 1.72m viewers, between 2pm and 6pm on Sunday, peaking with 3.19m just the final, extraordinary ten minutes. Sister channel Sky Sports 2, which screened title rivals The Scum's 1-0 win over Blunderland at the Stadium of Shite averaged six hundred and seventy two thousand viewers between 2.55pm and 5pm, peaking with just over eight hundred thousand. Sky Sports News, which updated viewers on all the Premier League action had an unusually high five hundred thousand viewers for its Gillette Soccer Saturday show with Jeff Stelling at the chaps, peaking with nine hundred and seven thousand viewers towards the end of the show. Unbelievable. The sports news channel was up a whopping one hundred and eighty one per cent on its slot average over the past three months, while Sky Sports 2 was up one hundred and forty one per cent. BBC1's Match of the Day highlights of the final day of the season had 4.06m viewers a between 10.25pm and midnight, peaking with 5.6m. Elsewhere, Sky Sports F1's coverage of the Spanish Grand Prix averaged five hundred and twelve thousand viewers between 11.30am and 4pm, peaking with 1.05m whilst, over on BBC1, their coverage of the race - won by Pastor Maldanado - was 3.5m and a peak of 4.6m. It was a jolly decent day all round for BBC1 with Countryfile (5.6m), The Voice results show (6.3m) and Planet Earth Live (4.9m) all winnings their slots. The Voice was the most-watched show of the night on any channel. On ITV a Sunday edition of Emmerdale could only manage 5.27m against The Voice whilst a last minute postponement of the planned Vera episode (due to the death of two servicemen on Afghanistan) saw a repeat of Lewis get 4.35m. The Yorkshire soap hasn't aired on a Sunday evening since 2008. Maybe this figure gives an idea why. A repeat of an episode of the 2011 drama series Death in Paradise was watched by 2.79m at nine o'clock on BBC1. That figure was beaten by the opening episode of the new series of Coast which had an excellent overnight audience of 2.9m on BBC2. Prior to that 1.92m watched Indian Ocean with Simon Reeve at 8pm. The Lost World of the Seventies had 1.1m from 10pm.

The final consolidated ratings for week-ending Sunday 6 May 2012:
1 Britain's Got Talent - ITV Sat - 10.90m
2 The Voice - BBC1 Sat - 9.36m
3 Coronation Street - ITV Fri - 9.07m
4 EastEnders - BB1 Tues - 8.81m
5 The Apprentice - BBC1 Wed - 7.14m
6 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 6.84m
7 Planet Earth Live - BBC1 Sun - 6.06m
8 Scott & Bailey - ITV Mon - 5.78m
9 The FA Cup Final - ITV Sat - 5.70m
10 Have I Got News For You - BBc1 Fri - 5.63m
11 Silent Witness - BBC1 Mon - 5.42m
12 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 5.20m
13 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Tues - 5.14m
14 Casualty - BBc1 Sat - 5.06m
15 The British Soap Awards 2012 - ITV Wed - 5.03m*
16 Not Going Out - BBC1 Fri - 4.93m
17 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 4.92m
18 Crimewatch UK - BBC1 Tues - 4.70m
19 Long Lost Family - ITV Thurs - 4.60m*
20 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Tues - 4.57m
21 The ONE Show - BBc1 Tues - 4.53m
22 New Tricks - BBC1 Thurs - 4.43m
23 The National Lottery: In It To Win It - BBC1 Sat - 4.43m
24 Watchdog - BBC1 Thurs - 4.35m
25 Piers Morgan's Life Stories - ITV Fri - 4.30m*
As usual, those ITV shows with an asterisk do not include HD figures. Nice to see odious, oily full-of-his-own-importance Piers Morgan getting hammered by Have I Got News For You again. And Not Going Out. And two episodes of The ONE Show. And Dale Winton's National Lottery thing. You'll be having a good bit crow about that on Twitter soon, no doubt, Piers, yes? BBC2's highest performers were two of the old reliables The Hairy Bikers' Bake-Ation (3.18m) and Qi (2.84m). Both of these figures include BBC HD. The final episode of Homeland was Channel Four's highlight of the week (3.39m). The Hoarder Next Door (3.11m) also scored well for the channel. Five's top slot was CSI (2.32m). No surprise there.
The BBC director general Mark Thompson has been asked by the National Union of Journalists to call for an investigation into what it claims is 'possible influence' by James Murdoch the small on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport over the BBC licence fee settlement. The union has written a letter to outgoing BBC boss Thompson and urged him to ask the Leveson inquiry to probe the issue. In October 2010 the BBC agreed a hastily-negotiated licence fee settlement after being threatened by the government with having to take on paying for five hundred and fifty six million smackers worth of subsidised licence fees for over seventy five-year-olds. The then BBC Trust chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, almost resigned over the threat and instead the corporation agreed to take on other funding commitments including the World Service and S4C and the licence fee was frozen at £145.50 for six years, a sixteen per cent cut in real terms. Murdoch the small, of course, used his notorious 'greed is good'-style speech at the MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, to attack the BBC and UK media regulator Ofcom calling the BBC's expansion 'chilling' and claiming 'In this all-media marketplace, the expansion of state-sponsored journalism is a threat to the plurality and independence of news provision, which are so important for our democracy.' The BBC chairman, Sir Michael Lyons officially responded, 'We have to be careful not to reduce the whole of broadcasting to some simple economic transactions. The BBC's public purposes stress the importance of the well-tested principles of educating and informing, and an impartial contribution to debate in the UK.' But then, at the same moment Murdoch the small was saying all that he was still claiming that the only phone-hacking going on the the Scum of the World had been the work of a single 'rogue' reporter and his private dick chum. So, I think you can judge from that how much credence to give to pretty much anything Murdoch the small has to say for himself. The union's letter, which has also been sent to BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten, urges Thompson to write 'a public letter in the press expressing your concern' and make 'a request to DCMS – backed up, if necessary, by [a freedom of information] request – for the release of all documents, e-mails and records of communication between the Murdoch empire and DCMS over this issue.' Written by the chair of the NUJ's London branch committee, David Campanale, on behalf of its members, the letter said: 'Rupert Murdoch's written evidence to the inquiry reveals that "I have recently been told that my son James discussed certain BBC issues with Jeremy Hunt, both before and after the 2010 general election." It is common knowledge that Murdoch executives have wanted cuts in the licence fee; and there is a documented history of ministers reflecting Murdoch priorities in their policy statements.' Campanale added: 'We are certain that BBC management will be as keen to see this investigated as we are, given the scale of the cutbacks stemming from a licence fee settlement which you yourself described as "tough". If it were found that DCMS staff did not act independently in this matter, the BBC would be entitled – indeed, obliged – to demand a review of the settlement.' The union concluded: 'We are therefore asking you to call publicly for the matter to be investigated.' A BBC spokeswoman said: 'We've received the letter and will respond in due course.'

The next boss of the BBC must be a Tory, according to the mayor of London, Boris Johnson. And, how nice it is, once again, to see a leader member of the Conservative party suggesting the breaking of existing employment law by arguing that someone should either being give or not given employment because of party political affiliations. What next, the only people allowed to run book shops have to be Liberals? Hopefully, that'll be the last time Boris will get invited to guest host Have I Got News For You. Let's also hope that Boris, like the last vile and odious Tory rascal who suggested the same thing will soon have his political future swinging in the wind. Writing in the Daily Torygraph (of course), Johnson said the guarantee of funding from the licence fee left BBC staff with 'an innocent belief that everything in life should be "free."' He continued with his odious drivel: 'No wonder – and I speak as one who has just fought a campaign in which I sometimes felt that my chief opponent was the local BBC news – the prevailing view of Beeb newsrooms is, with honourable exceptions, statist, corporatist, defeatist, anti-business, Europhile and, above all, overwhelmingly biased to the left.' Johnson said the corporation treated eurosceptic views as 'if they were vaguely mad and unpleasant' and 'completely ignored' the private sector. He said the next director general, replacing Mark Thompson, who is stepping down later this year, should be someone who is 'free-market, pro-business and understands the depths of the problems this country faces. We need someone who knows about the work ethic, and cutting costs. We need a Tory, and no mucking around.' Conservative commentators have long taken aim at the BBC as a hotbed of left-wingers and Thompson has said it had been guilty of a 'massive bias to the left' in the past. He told the New Statesman two years ago that staff were 'quite mystified' by the rise of Margaret Thatcher but now there was 'less overt tribalism' among its journalists. Quite why he felt he had to say anything to such ignorant, half-arsed assertions is a question best left for another day and another, slightly less cowardly and spineless, DG. The current favourite to replace the wretched Thommo as director general is the BBC's chief operating officer, Caroline Thomson, who worked as political assistant to Roy Jenkins in the SDP. A BBC spokeswoman said: 'BBC News is committed to impartiality and we reject Boris Johnson's assertions of bias. Our approach means asking difficult questions of politicians, businesses and unions alike. People with trenchant views often find this process uncomfortable but our audience expects us to challenge those in power, as well as those who seek it.' Johnson had a well-publicised run-in with a BBC reporter during the mayoral election campaign. He was caught on camera accusing Tim Donovan, BBC London's political editor, of talking 'fucking bollocks' after he questioned Johnson's attempts to secure commercial deals with News International while the company was being investigated over phone-hacking.

Normally it's the Sonys that reliably provide an annual 'axed show honoured' story, but for once the BAFTAS have stepped up to the mark. A fortnight ahead of the television awards ceremony, the BBC confirmed in the Radio Times that BBC3's The Fades (nominated as one of last year's four best drama series, together with Misfits, Scott & Bailey, and [spooks]) has been cancelled.

Notice, dear blog reader, how the BBC's James Landale handles government spin, when you next see him on the BBC News Channel. He might soon find himself producing the stuff. PR Week predicts a summer shake-up of the Downing Street comms team, and Andy Coulson's ex-BBC replacement Craig Oliver is widely seen as vulnerable to the chop. Landale, Nick Robinson's deputy, has, this report claims, had 'talks with Cameron's team', at least according to the magazine's 'Tory sources.' But what the Old Etonian's attraction is has yet to be explained – why another toff if the problem is Dave, Nick and George's 'top hat and tails' image?
Lord Justice Leveson has requested a full breakdown of the security vetting status of recent top Downing Street media advisers to find out if revelations that Andy Coulson received only mid-level security checks before starting work in government represented 'a smoking gun.' The judge asked Lord O'Donnell, the former head of the civil service, to provide the information after he was cross-examined over Downing Street's decision not to subject the former Scum of the World editor to rigorous 'developed vetting' checks when he became David Cameron's director of communications in May 2010. O'Donnell told the Leveson inquiry that the checks would have investigated whether there was anything in Coulson's background which might make him susceptible to blackmail, as well as any shareholdings that may have caused a conflict of interest. Coulson was only cleared to a more rudimentary 'security check' status but told the inquiry last week he had unsupervised access to top-secret papers and attended meetings of the national security council. O'Donnell confirmed that DV checks would have involved Coulson signing a form to disclose any shareholdings that could lead to conflicts of interests. Coulson told the inquiry that he held shares in News Corporation, worth forty thousand smackers, while working as the prime minister's press chief. 'A form was signed but it didn't disclose shareholdings and it should have done,' O'Donnell said. O'Donnell struggled to say whether previous holders of Coulson's position had been subject to DV. He said that he 'thought' Tony Blair's press secretary, Alistair Campbell, was vetted to DV status, but he did not know about others. The Gruniad claims that Campbell and Dave Hill, who ran No 10 communications for Blair, and Michael Ellam, who did the same for Gordon Brown, were all subject to DV. Craig Oliver, Cameron's current director of communications, and Gabby Bertin, Coulson's former deputy and now the prime minister's official spokeswoman, have both undergone checks. 'It might be worthwhile identifying if and when each of the comparative equivalent holders of that particular post received the higher level of vetting only to demonstrate that there isn't a smoking gun here,' Leveson said. O'Donnell, who was in charge of the vetting system when Coulson was appointed, told Leveson it was 'not a simple job' to work out which roles were analogous to Coulson's and that it was routine for people in similar positions to start their work without being vetted to the highest level. 'Some people who operate in that job would say: "Look, what I really want to do is get involved in the economy," a whole set of issues which basically didn't go into the kinds of things where regular top-secret access was required, and they just wouldn't want to go there. It quite often turned out that they would start off with that view, or, in this case, the No 10 permanent secretary [Sir Jeremy Heywood] would have that view, and then, as events changed, they would realise the first big terrorist event came along and then there would be a lot of papers which, by their nature, were all top secret, and then you would say, actually, this isn't working, we need to give access to this.' O'Donnell said that even if Coulson had undergone DV when he started work, it 'wouldn't have gone into enormous detail about phone-hacking.' He said that the vetting was concerned with whether you were 'blackmailable, your financial position and your personal life.'

Former Blackadder star and current Time Team presenter yer actual Tony Robinson has helped coach rail staff to deliver new 'comedy' announcements. Written by Richard Preddy, who wrote the sitcom Green Wing, the announcements aim to make the Birmingham to London journey enjoyable. A difficult-enough task to begin with (although, arguably, getting out of Birmingham to go anywhere is a step in the right direction). Robinson, who played Baldrick, spent a month helping Chiltern Railways staff learn the lines. The announcements will also be heard at London Marylebone Station. Preddy said: 'We have all waited for a train or a bus into work as the rain pours down and bustled our way to a seat and I think comedy can help to alleviate that stress. Everyone we met was so enthusiastic and the feedback so far has been fantastic. It's important to note that we aren't trying to turn everyone into a comedian. Rather we are hoping to bring out a little more of the staff's personality and humour via their day-to-day announcements and help cheer up the commuters along the way.' The announcements passengers will hear include: 'I'd like to welcome passengers boarding this 7.33 from Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone. If you've just bumped into someone who you barely know, you now have one hour and thirty minutes of awkward small talk. Good luck.' There's also: 'For any passengers who've not visited London before, do please prepare yourselves for the capital's overwhelmingly calm and relaxing pace of life.' And: 'We will shortly be passing through West Ruislip where we will be racing the Underground trains. Do please feel free to cheer for our driver.' But, they've saved the best till last: 'Will any passengers listening to noisy iPods please get a better taste in music. Thank you.'

Williams's celebrations of their first Grand Prix victory in eight years have been marred by injuries to four team members in a fire in the team's garage. Three members of the Williams team were taken to hospital, while four Caterham mechanics were treated at the track's medical unit. A Force India team member was also treated on the site after suffering smoke inhalation. The incident is believed to have involved a Kers unit, which sparked a fuel fire. Caterham, who occupied the garage next to Williams in the Circuit de Catalunya pit lane, explained that one of those injured had a minor hand injury, with three others suffering respiratory issues. A Williams spokesperson said: 'Four team personnel were injured in the incident and subsequently taken to the medical centre. Three are now receiving treatment at local hospitals for their injuries, while the fourth has been released. The team will monitor their condition and ensure they receive the best possible care. The team, the fire services and the police are working together to determine the root cause of the fire.' The fire occurred after Williams's group photo commemorating Pastor Maldonado's victory, the Grove-based team's first since Juan Pablo Montoya's win in the 2004 Brazil Grand Prix. Founder Frank Williams, whose family attended the race in celebration of his recent seventieth birthday, was led to safety. 'I was there when Frank Williams was giving his speech to everyone,' said Williams reserve driver Valtteri Bottas. 'I felt an explosion from behind, somewhere from the fuel area, and everyone ran out quickly.' Mechanics from several teams joined Williams's pit crew in attempting to extinguish the flames which sent smoke billowing across the paddock. Maldonado's car was parked elsewhere awaiting post-race checks during the blaze, but the FW34 of team-mate Bruno Senna, who crashed out after twelve laps, was in the garage at the time. So, as with several incidents on Sunday, it was probably Michael Schmacher's fault.

Sour-faced grumpy old Scotsman Kenny Dalglish was especially sour-faced and grumpy on Sunday as he reacted angrily to reports he is set to leave Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws this summer after the campaign ended with a 1-0 defeat at Swansea. Some newspapers claim that the Scot will be replaced by Wigan's Roberto Martinez. Danny Graham's one hundredth career goal condemned Liverpool to their worst finish for nineteen seasons. But Dalglish insisted he is going nowhere and said: 'I expect the owners to have more dignity and integrity than to believe a story in a newspaper.' The performance of Dalglish, his staff and the club in general will come under scrutiny when he convenes with owners John W Henry and Tom Werner in the days ahead. Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws have slipped to an eighth-place finish in the Premier League having won fourteen of their thirty eight fixtures. The defeat by Swansea capped a miserable season of frustration for the Reds. Michel Vorm made one stunning save to keep out Andy Carroll's overhead kick and another low stop to deny the striker. Grumpy sour-faced Dalglish felt his side had deserved 'at least a point.' However, he reluctantly acknowledged that their campaign, which ended with Liverpool - 'one of the top four sides in England' according to their greedy, risible managing director, and 'a top six side' according their Twitter-happy left-back - not even the top side in Liverpool, finishing below local rivals Everton for the first time since 2005, had, simply, not been good enough. 'I think on the second-half performance, the least they deserved was a point,' he whinged. But, everybody was too busy laughing to hear what he said next.

Arch psycho nutter - and convicted thug - Joey Barton is, reportedly, facing up to a ten‑game ban after appearing to assault at least three Sheikh Yer Man City players during yet another shameful episode in the controversial midfielder's colourful career. The Queen's Park Stranger was sent from the field for violent conduct after elbowing Carlos Tevez in the mush during his side's 3-2 defeat to City on Sunday. After receiving his red card, Barton then kicked Sergio Agüero up the arse for no obvious reason, before appearing to aim a headbutt in the direction of City's captain, Vincent Kompany. Barton then had to be restrained from moving towards Mario Balotelli for another confrotnation on the touchline before he finally headed down the tunnel. The Football Association is almost certain to hand Barton a severe punishment once it has received the match official's report. Barton remained defiant afterwards and even admitted his actions were a cynical and quite sickening attempt to get a rival player sent off. In a series of tweets, Barton - never a chap short of an opinion, on pretty much anything - wrote: 'Can do nothing but apologise to the players and the fans. Still don't think it's a sending off. Tried to take one of their players with me.' What a class act he is, dear blog reader. Thnak Christ he's not playing for my club any more. He added: 'Still not my proudest moment but who gives a fuck? We are safe. And that is all that matters.' One imagines, very much, that the FA will, as it were, 'give a fuck.' Whilst Barton - once jailed for assaulting a man outside a Merseyside McDonald's - appeared entirely unrepentant, his manager, Mark Hughes, admitted that the officials had got it right. But, Hughes refused to blame his captain for his actions, which could have cost his team their survival had Notlob Wanderers managed to beat Stoke City. As it was, Stoke fought back for a 2-2 draw, meaning The Strangers stayed up despite their defeat, which could have been an unlikely victory had it not been for two City goals in injury time. 'If we'd have pulled it off and actually won the game I think it would have been the greatest Premier League performance in history, because of the significance of the game and the attention focused on it. I'm immensely proud of the players and what they produced,' said Hughes. 'It's a huge achievement, because people have no idea what I walked into, to be perfectly honest. And to be able to bring the group together and galvanise them, and you saw what they were able to produce today in unbelievable circumstances, I think it shows great credit to QPR.' Hughes vowed that they would not have to fight relegation again as long as he remains manager. 'This club will never be in this situation again while I'm here managing the club so we'll be fine. We're going to build and we're going to create a club that's going to be really strong in the Premier League. That's the aim of everybody connected to QPR – we're going to enjoy the summer and there'll be a lot of hard work when we come back.' Regarding Barton's red card in the fifty fifth-minute, Hughes said: 'We were disappointed we lost Joey to a sending-off which shouldn't have happened. But that's the only negative on an otherwise fantastic day for QPR. He should have been sent off, without a shadow of a doubt. Absolutely.' Hughes added: 'I haven't seen the incident and I haven't spoken to Joey but people who saw it were saying he had to go. I haven't seen it myself, so I shouldn't comment but, like I say, it was a sending-off. There were a lot of people on the pitch and you don't want to see those scenes. But we didn't allow that to disrupt what we were trying to do and went up the other end of the pitch and scored a fantastic goal.' Pressed that if Bolton had won then Barton's crass actions might have cost QPR their Premier League status, Hughes went down the 'if ifs and ands were pots and pans' route: 'Yeah, but it didn't. I understand there will be a lot of comments about what happened and Joey and his behaviour but please forgive me, I'd rather just concentrate on what we did. I thought it was fantastic the way the guys stuck at it in unbelievable circumstances and we nearly did it.' Hughes, who was sacked as Sheikh Yer Man City manager before Roberto Mancini took over in December 2009, had kind words for his former club and their first title since 1968. 'I congratulate them – it's a huge achievement for them and I'm sure there will be many more in the future,' he said. 'It was all the more exciting because of [the excitement] – the circumstances of the game I think was unbelievable – I don't think I've ever been involved in something like that, so it's a great day for everybody.' Hughes's sole disparagement of his side was that they relaxed when ahead. 'The one criticism was that we understood that we were safe so maybe we just switched off for one second – that's all you need to do when you're up against a team like City. I'm a little bit flat – that's because I'm disappointed we got beat, so maybe we're a little bit greedy, so there you go.' Hughes, who replaced Neil Warnock in January, was asked what he had walked into then. 'It was a club that didn't have things in place that you need to be successful, to have the support structures in place to be consistently good week-in, week-out, and all those things needed to be put in place, and a dressing room that was a little bit fragmented because there was a new manager. So we had to bring all that together and try to mend it quickly and thankfully that's what we did.' Pablo Zabaleta opened the scoring for City on thirty nine minutes before goals from Djibril Cissé on forty eight minutes and Jamie Mackie in the sixty sixth gave The Strangers the lead. As The Scum were beating Blunderland 1-0, Roberto Mancini's men needed to score twice as the match entered the five minutes of added time. Goals from Edin Dzeko and Agüero handed City the title and Hughes said: 'At 2-1, I couldn't see City getting back into it, to be honest. I just felt they'd lost their direction and they were knocking aimless balls into our penalty box, just hoping something was going to break for them, and in the end it did. If you keep putting balls in decent areas, sometimes it works for you, and I think Roberto would have to admit he's been lucky today.' Barton, meanwhile, continued to pour fuel on the fire by taking to Twitter again al through Sunday evening and into the early hours of Monday having a right go at all and sundry including his former Newcastle boss, Alan Shearer, now a pundit on Match of the Day. He posted: 'Shearers [sic] still on my case. I know I "fucked up" Alan, thanks for stating the obvious. Whilst were both stating the obvious about each other, can I just say for the record what a great player u [sic] were. But I have a better hair (which is not hard), wear well-better shirts on TV and have a personality (something u [sic] lack). My final point, ur [sic] a shit pundit/manager. I really don't like that prick, in fact I honestly despise him.' Well, that's sure to go down well on Tyneside, one imagines. Although it's probably made Barton welcome in certain parts of Wearside, and most of Essex, Wiltshire and anywhere else than Manchester United supporters live. Shearer's Match of the Day colleague and national treasure Gary Lineker then took to Twitter himself and claimed that Barton's attack on Big Al was nothing but an attempt to deflect attention away from his own misconduct. Barton responded to deny Lineker's accusations, posting: 'No deflections here, mate. Think the fact about one hundred million people seen it [sic] will see to that. Just don't like how he gets personal.' He also noted: 'I'd take it off Hansen and Gary Lineker but not from that bell. Same fella that stamped on Neil Lennon, then threatened FA if they banned him.' This, ladies and gentleman, from a man once jailed for six months for kicking a man twenty times, described by the judge as 'a violent and cowardly act.' When Lineker responded, asking Barton if he was 'still kicking out' and still believing that he was 'misunderstood', it sparked another explosion from the Barton Twitter feed. 'Do u [sic] wanna go there publicly "Mr Squeaky Clean"?' tweeted Barton, before threatening to expose 'skeletons' in Lineker's 'vast closet.' What these skeletons are, or how he knew about them, Barton did not elaborate. A pity, really, as one imagines the court case ensuing from that would have been vastly entertaining. He added: 'Mind ur [sic] manners Squeaky.' He signed off by saying: 'Now back under your stone you odious little toad.' You know dear blog reader, when Joey Barton really puts his mind to it and tries very hard, he appears to stop being a deeply unpleasant individual and becomes instead, a deeply unpleasant, small individual. And that takes some doing. He added: 'Right enough about yesterday, I apologise to everyone offended by it. If that's not enough for some, so be it. Life is too short. Things happen on the pitch, in the heat of battle sometimes. Not how we always plan them to happen.' Then, quoting The Smiths' 'Still Ill', he concluded: 'For there are brighter sides to life and I should know because I seen them, but not very often.'

Which, just because of all that dear blog reader, simply has to be today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Decree, Mozza.