Saturday, June 30, 2012

Week Twenty Eight: I Forgive You, Boy, But Don't Leave Town

The final three episodes of the next - J - series of Qi were recorded earlier in the week. Tuesday saw the filming of the Christmas episode - Jingle Bells - featuring Sarah Millican, Phill Jupitas and, in his first appearance since his recent health scare, the legend that is Danny Baker. On the following day the final two episodes of the series were taped. Justice will feature a very welcome return for Professor Brian Cox (so good on the episode of last year's series in which he appeared) together with Jason Manford and debutant the New Zealand comedian Rhys Darby. And, finally, Jam, Jelly and Jugs of Juice - no jokes please - will include guest appearances by Jo Brand, Sue Perkins and Liza Tarbuck, the show's first ever all female guest cast. As ever, all episodes will also feature yer actual Alan Davies and are hosted in his usual charming and erudite fashion by yer actual Stephen Fry. The series of sixteen episodes will be shown in the autumn.

The Doctor takes the time to check out a mystery box he's discovered reports the Sun. The time-travelling science-fiction hero, played by Matt Smith, was filming scenes on location for the new series of the long-running popular family SF drama. Acting out a scene from what is believed to be an episode entitled Cubed, the actor clutches a mystery box and tries to have a further peek using a magnifying glass. Earlier this week it was revealed that renowned film, stage and television actor David Warner will guest-star in Doctor Who in its seventh season. As yet details about his part have not been revealed though he will appear in an episode which will be broadcast next year. Several more guest stars for the next series of Doctor Who have also been revealed. Appearing in the same episode as Warner will be Liam Cunningham. The actor plays Ser Davos Seaworth on HBO's fantasy drama Game of Thrones and last year he was part of the cast of BBC1's ill-fated SF fiasco Outcasts. Meanwhile Jessica Raine and Dougray Scott will appear in the episode penned by Luther's Neil Cross. Dougray Scott has a wide variety of roles behind him such as appearances in Desperate Housewives, Day of the Triffids, Deep Impact, Mission Impossible 2 and Solider Solider. Jessica Raine will be best known for her role of nurse Jenny Lee in BBC1's smash hit Call the Midwife. The three join other stars confirmed for the seventh season such as Adrian Scarborough, Mark Williams, Rupert Graves, David Bradley, Steven Berkoff and Ben Browder.

There will not be a new series of Top Gear until 2013. It has been confirmed by Jeremy Clarkson that the hit BBC2 motoring show will not return to the nation's screens until next year due to 'boring reasons.' Which, doubtless, will be news to be celebrated by various hippie Communist lice at the Gruniad Morning Star and jack-booted bully-boy thugs with an agenda at the Daily Scum Mail. The presenter took to his Twitter account, saying: 'Pay attention.' Yep, sounds like Clarkson. 'There will be no Top Gear until next year. Boring reasons.' Jezza's latest comments follow his previous tweets in suggesting that it would be 'a while' before the trio of presenters – including colleagues Richard Hammond and James May – would return with a new series of the show. Back in May Clarkson outlined, again via Twitter that, 'there's a rumour in Internetland that there will be no more Top Gear this year. I'm afraid that apart from an Christmas Special, it's true.' In his usual pithy style Jezza suggested rival TV programmes were the reason for Top Gear's postponed return, adding: 'Would love to be back in the Autumn but Sunday nights will be full of fat people singing.' In a battle to keep ratings for the long-running program high, the BBC may have decided to move the show from its traditional autumn slot to January. Still, one images that the break will be welcomed by some of the team.
And so to yer actual Top Telly Tips:
Friday 6 July
Phil Mitchell must be utterly sick of people losing the plot around him in EastEnders - BBC1 8:00. First his son Ben got somewhat carried away with a photo frame round at Heather's and done a bit of murderin'. Now, his sangria-soaked girlfriend Shirley is singing from the top of the public toilets at the local barbecue. Not a pretty sight at the best of times. This spectacle should at least shift the gaze away from Kat, who agrees to meet her secret lover in an alleyway. No jokes about 'taking it up the back passage', please. The smart money is on Jack being her mystery geezer, but there's always the fear that Derek is the one getting his wicked way with her. Kat tries to soothe her guilty conscience by working to fix her relationship with poor old Alfie. Janine, meanwhile, is furious - as per usual - this time to discover that Michael has given the baby a different name without her consent. Derek, meanwhile, makes another attempt to bond with Joey and Shirley is overwhelmed by grief - until she receives support from an unlikely source.

The Popes press ahead with plans to return to West London in Parents - 9:00 Sky1. Nick tries to convince Len (the brilliant Tom Conti) to let him convert his shed into a home office for his energy drink business, and Jenny (Sally Phillips) applies for a job in a coffee shop.
While there, she bumps into an old flame, abattoir owner Kelvin Mann. Guest starring The Fast Show's John Thomson.

Patience and tempers are stretched to the limit as the six drivers continue their missions on Bolivia's so-called 'Death Road' in Ice Road Truckers: Deadliest Roads - 8:00 Channel Five. Dave Redmon and Lisa Kelly deal with a malfunctioning truck and have a race on their hands to get their load delivered on time. Hugh Rowland and Rick Yemm battle both the language barrier and muddy conditions, while Tim Zickuhr and Tino Rodriguez's inexperience shows itself on the treacherous cliffside paths. At the end of another challenging day, two of the truckers decide enough is enough and quit.

Saturday 7 July
Always assuming that the effing tennis hasn't over run yet again, The Hollow Crown continues - 9:00 BBC2 - with an adaptation of Henry IV Part 1. King Henry is having an uneasy reign, troubled by guilt over the way he acquired the crown from his cousin, Richard II, and constantly defied by his son and heir Prince Hal, the Duke of Lancaster who spends most of his time carousing in Mistress Quickly's tavern with the cowardly knight Sir John Falstaff and his ne'er-do-well companions. However, when the prince's rival, Harry Hotspur the son of the Lord Percy the Duke of Northumberland, leads a rebellion against the king, the time comes for him to step up to the mark and join his father in battle. Jeremy Irons stars in the second of this cycle of Shakespeare history plays, with Tom Hiddleston, Simon Russell Beale, Julie Walters, Alun and Joe Armstrong (cunning cast as father and son, Northumberland and Hotspur), Tom Georgson, Michelle Dockery, Robert Pugh and Maxine Peake. Lavish.

Waste-of-space horrorshow, arse (and well-known drag) Amanda Holden is the host as Andrew Lloyd Webber launches a new risible talent search to find a singer and actor to play the title role in a forthcoming arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. If Superstar - 7:25 ITV - if it's even a quarter as deranged and ludicrous as yer actual Lordship's last BBC effort, the criminally awful Over the Rainbow, this is likely to be the sort of thing that even genuine lovers of musical theatre will avoid like the plague. His obnoxious, full-of-his-own-importance sirship, having left behind his Shoetree of Despair with the stinking, sweaty ruby slippers thereupon, is helped by some judges. There's former soap actor and star of Iceland adverts Jason Donovan and Melanie C (the 'plain looking but reasonably talented' one from The Spice Girls), who will be playing Mary Magdalene in the show, which also stars Tim Minchin and Chris Moyles, as Judas and Herod respectively. Christ almighty. Forgive then, Lord, they know not what they do. The process begins with the audition tour, where Andrew meets the early hopefuls, before the top one hundred face the panel.

Jonathan Ross, Denise Van Outen and Anthony Cotton are the guests joining team captains Rufus Hound and Rhys Darby for Mad Mad World 10:10 ITV. Let dread fill your hasty hearts, dear blog reader when yer actual Keith Telly Topping informs you that this is a comedy quiz based on news, events and TV clips from around the world. So, You Have Been Watching, in other words. Only, without Charlie Brooker to make sure it's funny. Is there nobody at ITV who has a single original thought in their heads? No, stupid question. I'm sorry, I don't know why I asked that, really. But, it gets worse. Paddy McGuinness asks the questions and tries to keep order. So, not only is this thing hugely derivative of half-a-dozen other quiz show formats, but it's also presented by a hyperactive plank. Like the pasties he advertises for Gregg's, one imagines that - due to tax purposes - this will be lukewarm. In fact, you would probably have to be mad to watch it.

Sunday 8 July The recently knighted Kenneth Branagh returns to his BAFTA-winning role as the eponymous star of Wallander - 9:00 BBC1 - the story of a Swedish detective in three new adaptations of stories by Henning Mankell. In this, Wallander moves into a new home with his girlfriend, only for the couple's dreams of domestic bliss to be rudely shattered when they discover a skeleton in the garden. As you do. Wallander must find the killer if he has any hopes of getting his life settled again - and is surprised to discover the body was buried more recently than he first thought. Saskia Reeves and Sarah Smart co-star.

Celebrities undertake some of the most perilous journeys in the world in World's Most Dangerous Roads - 9:00 BBC2. Why they should do this, no one knows. Maybe it's just a case of egos so desperate to get their boat-races on telly at any excuse? Who, in all honesty, can say? Anyway, this time at least we have a couple of reasonable funny and affable blokes to accompany. Comedians Ed Byrne and Mock the Week regular Andy Parsons drive along Siberia's M56 Kolyma highway, known as the 'Road of Bones.' Along the way, they brave sub-zero temperatures, traverse icy routes, encounter deserted gulags and meet the locals who inhabit the frozen wilderness, but despite picking up practical tips for survival, the duo feel they are out of their depth.

Dress-maker Thelma Madine, whose elaborate outfits have been seen on Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, wants to expand her business to keep up with demand. To give back to the community that helped make her name, she is hiring a group of inexperienced gypsy and traveller girls, including teenagers Margaret, Kathleen and Rosanne, as trainees as seen in Thelma's Gypsy Girls - 9:00 Channel Four. But it's a big risk, as some have poor literacy and numeracy skills and others cannot even tell the time - so turning up for work could be a challenge in itself. She begins her search with an advert on a social-networking site, and is inundated with requests to work for her. But when thirty turn up on the recruitment day, the younger applicants prove hard to handle.

Monday 9 July
Daniel begins his quest for redemption, desperate to keep his dark secret from Alex in the second episode of Blackout - 9:00 BBC1. But while Detective Bevan questions the integrity of the investigation into Pulis's attack, Ruth begins to piece together the truth - a hunt that leads her dangerously close to the new mayor. Psychological thriller, with Dervla Kirwan, Ewen Bremner, MyAnna Buring and Andrew Scott.

Ben Macintyre brings his best-selling book to the small screen, revealing the true story of five of the double agents who helped to make D-Day such a success in Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies - 9:00 BBC2. As well as being a victory of arms and a tactical coup, the event was also a triumph for espionage, deceit and thinking of the most elaborate kind.

Radio 1 DJ Gemma Cairney investigates how the riots in England last August changed the lives of those involved in Riots: The Aftershock - 9:00 BBC3. Over the course of nine months, cameras follow three people who were arrested, as well as several victims of the disturbances, to find out how their journey through the court process, and in some cases prison system, affected them.
Tuesday 10 July
Arnott is convinced Gates played a part in Jackie's disappearance, so the team use Fleming to set a trap, hoping he will reveal his involvement in covering up the missing woman's crimes in the third episode of Line of Duty - 9:00 BBC2. Crime thriller, starring Lennie James, Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Neil Morrissey, Adrian Dunbar and Craig Parkinson.

Kate Humble and Iain Stewart visit the site of the 1969 Mauna Ulu eruption in Hawaii, which covered seventeen square miles of rainforest in lava in the second nightly episode of Volcano Live - 8:00 BBC2. Environmental scientist Hugh Tuffen talks about his expedition to watch the Puyehue volcano in Chile erupt, and the programme also features a report on how the residents of an Icelandic island managed to save their harbour during a 1973 eruption.
That there Dynamo certainly knows the secret to a good trick: it's the reaction. Like his last series (which was nominated for a National Television Award), the opening episode of series two of Dynamo: Magician Impossible - 9:00 Watch - is punctuated by gasps, nervous giggles and yelps of disbelief. Softly spoken, Dynamo is no Derren Brown-style showman, preferring the street to the stage. On London's West End pavements he shrinks mobile phones; at a poolside in LA he swallows a necklace then pulls it from his midriff; and in his nan's favourite pub in Bradford, he predicts the future. These small feats are his bread and butter, but now and then he does something so dazzlingly weird that the gasps become howls of wonder (and, the occasional cry of 'burn the witch!'). Staunch sceptics will find themselves joining in. In this episode, the magician visits the World Poker Tour in Venice and reveals how fame has changed his life in the past six months.

Wednesday 11 July
Former The Apprentice colleagues Nick Hewer and Margaret Mountford reunite to present a two-part experiment testing how well old age pensioners can cope in the modern workplace in The Town That Never Retired - 9:00 BBC1. They pluck fourteen people out of retirement in Preston and send them back to full-time work at a building site, a chocolate factory, a restaurant, a health clinic and an estate agent's. Over the course of the week, the employers cut the older workers no slack, while most of the pensioners seem stuck in the past, with their outdated knowledge and antiquated tools. But some undergo personal transformations as they embrace new techniques and the cut-and-thrust of the workplace. At the end, the bosses decide whether to keep any of them on for a second week, or send them back into retirement. Concludes tomorrow. Part of the When I'm Sixty Five season.

In the latest episode of NCIS - 9:00 Channel Five - the team suspects the port-to-port killer has struck again when Tony's former Baltimore PD partner Danny Price is murdered in a manner that fits the criminal's modus operandi. However, a key difference in the way the victim was bound suggests that the crime may have actually been the work of a copycat, forcing the investigators to consider whether Price had any enemies. With, obviously, hilarious consequences.

Twisty-faced Miranda Sawyer chats to Plan B (he's 'a rapper', m'lud) as he finishes his new CD in The Culture Show - 10:00 BBC2. Meanwhile, big quiffed Marky Kermode (so good on this week's Quadrophenia documentary on BBC4) joins action transvestite comedian and national icon yer actual Eddie Izzard in Bexhill-on-Sea, to discuss his sponsoring of a sculpture by artist Richard Wilson that replicates the hair-raising final scene from 1969 film The Italian Job. Choreographer Elizabeth Streb rehearses with her dancers for performances at London landmarks, Tom Dyckhoff tours the capital's Olympic architecture and the programme joins the crowd at a Stonehenge 'fire installation.' Or, 'a bonfire' as normal people who don't read the Gruniad Morning Star call it.

Thursday 12 July The tennis is now finished, dear blog reader, thank God. So at least Mock The Week - 10:00 BBC2 - is hopefully safe this time around. Unless some unexpected volcanic activity causes Volcano Live to go into extra time. Josh Widdicombe and Miles Jupp join Dara O Briain and regular panellists Hugh Dennis, Andy Parsons and Chris Addison for the topical comedy panel show taking a look back at the week's news.

Former Bond girl Maryam d'Abo (Timothy Dalton's bit of Czech stuff in The Living Daylights for those of you who think the series started with Daniel Craig) recounts how she overcame a cerebral haemorrhage in Rupture: Living with My Broken Brain - 10:00 BBC4. She hears to the stories of survivors of vascular brain diseases, including Robert McCrum, Pat Martino, and Quincy Jones. The actress talks to leading experts in neurology and also explains how it affected her personal and social life as she struggled to recover from an injury that could have killed her. Part of the Flesh, Blood and Bone: The Amazing Human Body season.

Detective Sergeant Charlie Zailer investigates the murder of a music teacher's husband, and uncovers a twisted saga of thwarted ambition and deadly jealousy in the opening episode of the second series of Case Sensitive - 9:00 ITV. As inquiries proceed, and her relationship with fellow officer DC Simon Waterhouse becomes increasingly fraught, she finds herself taking desperate steps to ensure the case doesn't fall apart completely. Decent, if a bit 'by the numbers' crime drama, starring Olivia Williams and Darren Boyd. Concludes tomorrow.

To the news: Former TV presenter Suzanne Virdee, who quit Midlands Today after eleven years amid claims of a 'poisonous atmosphere', is suing the BBC. Virdee, a long-time co-host with Nick Owen of the popular tea-time news programme, has lodged a claim for an employment tribunal through her lawyers. The former Birmingham Mail reporter originally announced in March that she would not be signing a new five-month BBC contract because of what she called 'circumstances beyond my control.' But the controversy over Virdee's departure intensified after it emerged that she had been unable to fulfil the final two days of her contract amid claims she was ordered to leave early by Cath Hearne, head of regional programmes in the West Midlands. Lawyer Michael Sweeney said: 'I can confirm that a claim has been lodged with Birmingham Employment Tribunal. This is very much to do with the historic problems that have been prevalent in BBC Midlands Today management.' Hearne had been at the centre of an alleged bullying row in September 2010 after the NUJ passed votes of no confidence in her and then acting editor Mark Hayman's management. An independent inquiry later rejected claims of intimidation. Following her departure, Virdee issued a statement, saying she was 'surprised and deeply saddened' by the circumstances of her departure. The National Union of Journalists later issued a statement deploring the BBC's alleged treatment of the presenter. 'This chapel deeply regrets the fact the BBC could not reach agreement with Suzanne Virdee over the continuation of her contract,' it said. 'We feel we are losing a first-class presenter and a valued colleague. We deplore the way she was treated by the BBC management over a considerable period of time but the decision not to allow her to present the programme and say goodbye after eleven years at Midlands Today is nothing short of disgrace.' A BBC spokeswoman said: 'This is not an area that we would comment upon.'

'Is comment still as free at the Guardian as it was in CP Scott’s day?' asks the Daily Torygraph's Tim Walker in a spectacularly nasty and spitefully worded gossip piece about the Gruniad's resident faceache, Grace Dent. Whom, one is sure, is a very nice person and all that but she does, undeniably, have a virtually permanent look on her face which suggests that she's just smelled some shit nearby. The Gruniad's founding father, Walker notes, 'would doubtless be keen to dispel any notion that Grace Dent has now made good on her threat to get a twenty three-year-old graduate trainee sacked for having the temerity to poke fun at her appearance on Have I Got News For You.' Which, if true, is certainly a bit mean but not, necessarily, unprecedented in the notoriously huffy world of Fleet Street where skins are thin and senses of humour are thinner. 'You'll bear the brunt of your idiocy at 10am tomorrow when you're unemployed — good luck,' Dent, who was at the time working as the Gruniad's television critic, informed one Mufadal Jiwaji on Twitter in April. (Grace left the post later that month. This was her last column.) She also suggested, Walker claims, that she 'had a professional relationship with his employer, Hill & Knowlton, the PR company.' All of this followed comments made by Jiwaji on Twitter after Dent's 'peculiarly unfunny turn on the BBC1 show.' (That's Walker's opinion not, necessarily, one shared by this blogger. Personally, I thought - face-like-she's-just-smelled-shit aside, she was actually pretty funny.) Jiwaji had, apparently 'joshed' (again, Walker's phrase, which would seem to prove that the Gruniad aren't alone in hiring rubbish journalists) on Twitter that Dent reminded him of a former girlfriend. 'By girlfriend, I mean that time I accidentally made love to an ugly abhorrent horse,' he had added as the punchline. Not a very funny punchline, admittedly but then many well known comedians have made a career out of far less than that. A popular member of the Hill & Knowlton team, according to Walker, Jiwaji was quick to apologise for his 'vulgar and puerile' comment, but - Walker claims - Dent, 'who made her name by making often obscene and personal comments about others, was not placated.' When contacted by the Torygraph Jiwaji declined to comment, though he had recently tweeted: 'Woke up this morning unfettered by the constraints of employer Twitter censorship.' A spokesman for Hill & Knowlton confirmed to Walker that he had left the company, but insisted it was 'unconnected to Dent.'

There will be no Scottish or Northern Irish players in the men's British Olympic football squad when it is announced on Monday. BBC Scotland claims to have learned that manager Stuart Pearce will list eighteen players from England and Wales. Fifteen of the squad must be under twenty three, with Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards the three permitted overage players. None of the England players at Euro 2012 were considered for the squad. Four reserve players will also be put on stand-by, should anyone withdraw from the squad. There were Scots, including Steven Fletcher and Barry Bannan, on Pearce's shortlist of thirty five players. The Scottish Football Association, along with their Northern Irish and Welsh counterparts, have taken no direct involvement with Team GB and have made it clear they do not want their players involved for fear of risking their countries' separate identities in world football. But they cannot block any players from participating if they wish to do so. The women's football squad was named earlier this week, with Scottish duo Ifeoma Dieke and Kim Little the only non-English players selected. The men's Team GB were drawn in Group A at London 2012 alongside Senegal, Uruguay and United Arab Emirates. They begin their Olympic campaign against Senegal at Old Trafford on 26 July before facing the United Arab Emirates at Wembley on 29 July, and Uruguay at the Millennium Stadium on 1 August.

Comedian Mad Frankie Boyle has strongly defended his tax arrangements after he became the latest personality to have his tax arrangements put under the spotlight. In a curiously mean-spirited piece full of innuendo but little in the way of hard facts the Daily Scum Mail (of course) alleged that Frankie 'could' have avoided paying nearly nine hundred grand in tax last year. Boyle said on Twitter that he had paid £2.7m in tax since 2007, which amounted to just under forty per cent of his income. He added that he was 'certain' he paid more tax than most people in showbusiness and, indeed, in the cabinet. The Daily Scum Mail claimed the tax 'could' have saved when he put his production company into voluntary liquidation. The newspaper alleged that Boyle, who recently mocked Jimmy Carr after Carr's recent tax malarkey, 'might' also have been the beneficiary of legal accountancy methods to save tax on the millions of pounds he has earned through TV shows, tours, DVDs and book sales. You'll notice, dear blog reader, there's plenty of 'could's and 'might's here but remarkably few 'did's. By closing Traskor Productions Limited, of which he was sole director and shareholder, the paper said Boyle 'might' (there's another one) have been able to pay a tax rate of ten per cent, rather than fifty per cent if he had taken money out as dividends or income. This is because he 'could' have been entitled to 'entrepreneur' tax relief, saving him over eight hundred and eighty thousand smackers. On Twitter Boyle wrote: 'From 2007 I have paid £2.7m in tax and this equates to just under forty per cent of my income. There's a lot of things people do to avoid paying tax and I don't do any of them. I wound my company up for legal reasons separate from tax and my accountant applied for tax relief on this. This tax relief is approximately half of the tax saving the Mail quoted in its article today. I am certain I pay more tax than most people in showbusiness and the cabinet.'

President Barack Obama has been voted 'better at handling an alien attack' than Republican presidential opponent Mitt Romney. A National Geographic poll found that sixty five per cent of Americans surveyed and who expressed a preference believed that President Obama would be 'more equipped' to deal with such an hypothetical attack. The TV channel's survey asked one thousand one hundred and fourteen glakes, sorry, Americans questions about all-things alien ahead of its show Chasing UFOs. Sixty eight per cent of women and sixty one per cent of men said that they thought Obama would cope with an alien onslaught better than Romney.

A new by-law has banned people from swimming in the River Thames without prior permission from the Port of London Authority. The PLA has grown concerned by an upsurge in so-called 'wild swimming', made popular by comedian David Walliams' one hundred and forty-mile Sport Relief swim. The authority said that the ban was needed because it had a responsibility for the safety of all river users. The measure is due to come into effect on Sunday. Any person wishing to from that date will need prior written permission to swim anywhere in the Thames between Crossness in east London and Putney Bridge in south-west London. The PLA said it had seen an increased interest in river swimming since Walliams swam the length of the Thames from Lechdale in Gloucestershire to Westminster Bridge last year. But the river is potentially dangerous, with tides, strong currents, and whirlpools. The PLA's chief executive Richard Everett, said there were good reasons for stopping people wading in. He said: 'We have a responsibility not only to the individuals, but also to other river users. There's always a risk that if a boat comes across a swimmer, it has to take evasive action and that puts the people on the boat at risk, as well as other boats.' The law does not apply to people 'undertaking diving activity' or 'engaged in the emergency repair or inspection of vessels or structures.' Journalist Matthew Parris criticised the move. In 2010 he admitted to diving into the Thames in the middle of the night, making his way across, aided by a friend on the opposite bank who held a torchlight. He was criticised at the time, especially as he misjudged the tidal currents and was swept upstream. He said: 'Swimming in the Thames is dangerous, swimming in the sea is dangerous, swimming in any river is dangerous. There are all kinds of dangers and they're dangers that we take into account before we try it.'

The Stone Roses played the first in a series of comeback gigs in Manchester on Friday night. The quartet performed classic songs including 'I Wanna Be Adored', '(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister', 'Fools Gold', 'Waterfall', 'She Bangs A Drum' and a righteous encore of 'I Am The Resurrection' in front of a crowd of over seventy thousand people, with Ian Brown telling fans: 'As you see, we still got it.' The band announced that they were reforming last year following a bitter split in 1996. Friday's homecoming concert was their first large-scale show in the UK since the fall-out. It marked the start of a three-night stint topping the bill at Heaton Park, which will be followed by a series of festival dates later in the summer. Brown had previously insisted that he would need to be begging on the streets before he would consider a Stone Roses reunion. (He isn't, by the way!) In preparation for the Manchester dates, they performed a secret gig at Warrington's Parr Hall in May. They have also played some small European festival dates. Tickets for the remaining shows this weekend are so sought-after that they have been selling for 'four figure sums.'

Which, inevitably, brings us to Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, another one The Roses played in Heaton Park. Tasty.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Talking 'Bout Monroe And Walking On Snow White

They reportedly split seven months ago but it seems Matt Smith and Daisy Lowe are on course to rekindle their romance after they were spotted getting, ahem, up close and personal at Radio 1's Hackney Weekend. Lucky old Smudger, this blogger reckons. The pair dated for eighteen months before, reportedly, calling time on their relationship due to hectic work schedules of both. But, while enjoying music from the likes of Jay-Z, Rita Ora and Wretch Thirty Two on the Saturday of the free festival, the pair appeared to get rather cosy among fellow festival-goers. According to the Sun, so this is almost certainly a crock of old horseshit, the pair were 'seen cuddling a lot backstage' and Matt, twenty nine, was even glimpsed groping Daisy's bottom. One repeats, lucky old Smudger. An alleged 'onlooker' allegedly told the alleged tabloid: 'Matt was trying to disguise himself by wearing his hood up as he hobnobbed backstage. But when Daisy came over he didn't seem to care who was watching. His eyes just lit up and they were locked into deep conversation — hugging each other all the time. At one point he gave her bum a big squeeze. If they're not together any more then they have a funny way of showing it.' This isn't the first time reports have claimed that the pair are an item once again after splitting last year. They were seen leaving Daisy's London flat a month after their break-up and they have also allegedly been spotted leaving Matt's London apartment this year. In addition, Matt was apparently a guest at Daisy's twenty third birthday dinner in January. If Daisy and Matt are back together it will be the second time the pair have reunited – the couple were originally said to have split up in May last year before reconciling in July.

Germany's 2-1 defeat to Italy in the Euro 2012 semi-finals scored a hefty TV audience on Thursday night, overnight data has shown. BBC1's coverage averaged 8.06m between 7pm and 10pm, reaching a fifteen-minute high of 11.5m from 9.15pm when the Germans scored their consolation goal. This semi-final was slightly less popular with viewers than Spain's dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Portugal on Wednesday. Nevertheless it gave the BBC's flagship channel a huge lead in peak time. Rafael Nadal's surprise early exit from Wimbledon also boosted BBC2's figures, which took 1.84m between 5.50pm and 10.15pm for its extended tennis coverage. Although the fact that it went on till past ten o'clock fair pissed off yer actual Keith Telly Topping as it meant Mock The Week was postponed. Over on ITV, Tonight (2.32m) and You've Been Framed (1.8m) were broadcast in the 8pm hour, while a Benidorm repeat had 1.81m at 9pm. Overall, BBC1 thrashed the pants off ITV in primetime with 34.6 per cent versus thirteen per cent of the audience share.

Robin Williams and Tim Minchin will feature in new Sky Atlantic comedy series Set List. The entertainment programme takes the form of a fully improvised stand-up show in front of a live audience, with comics inventing material based on the topics presented to them while on stage. Dara O'Briain, Ross Noble, Drew Carey, Frank Skinner and Russell Kane (very popular with students) are among the other comedians scheduled to appear. Each episode will see three of the comics taking to the stage, tackling themes and ideas devised by comic Paul Provenza and series creator Troy Conrad. 'A key part of our commissioning strategy for Sky Atlantic has been to attract the best talent to the channel, blending US and UK talent to give our customers the best content from both sides of the Atlantic,' said Naomi Gibney, Acting Director of Sky Atlantic. 'Set List really illustrates that ambition, and I can't wait to see how they live up to the challenge.' Philip Edgar-Jones, Sky's Head of Entertainment, added: 'Set List is a uniquely terrifying approach to stand-up comedy. I love it because we have no idea what we'll get. It's like a bizarre compulsion to some of the biggest names in stand-up who are addicted to the freedom it brings them to take their comedy anywhere and everywhere.' Fourteen episodes of Set List have been ordered by Sky Atlantic and are scheduled for later in the year. Sounds an interesting experiment.

Benedict Cumberbatch wants to play Sherlock Holmes in the BBC1 detective drama Sherlock for another fifteen years at least. As previously reported the thirty five-year-old actor said that he loves playing the detective 'too much' to ever give up the BBC series and he confirmed that filming for a third season will begin again in January. He said: 'I'll always do Sherlock - it's something I'm not going to give up on. I love it too much. It's hard work, but it's so rewarding and such a lovely bunch of people who do it. We love our fans and we love what it's created. It's an incredible thing to be part of; it doesn't happen that often. Don't worry; it's not going to disappear.' The actor believes the series has 'a great chance' of being a long-lasting programme because writer Steven Moffat started the season with younger versions of both Sherlock and John Watson (Martin Freeman) than in many previous adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. In an interview with US website TV Line, Benny added: 'There's no reason for us to stop if it's still being adored and we still enjoy doing it. We only do three episodes at a time, so I think the normal fear of over-stretching the mark and just doing too many doesn't apply. It's good to leave people wanting more. I'd like to see Sherlock getting older. We're starting quite young. It's rare to see Holmes and Watson at the beginning of their relationship; we usually join them in their mid-to-late forties or fifties. I've got a way to go.'

Meanwhile, Simon Pegg has praised his 'sweet' Star Trek 2 co-star Cumberbatch. The actors will star in the upcoming SF sequel from JJ Abrams, set for release next year. 'Benedict is such a good guy, he's a really sweet person and I love that he's getting this success because he's also a great actor,' Pegg told the Sun. 'I worked a lot with him on Star Trek. He is part of the threat in the film.' Pegg joked that Benny has boasted about his recent Sexiest Man poll win, as voted for by the scum tabloid's readership. 'Oh, he told me he had won all right. We went out one night and he said, "You'll never guess what, I am the Sun's sexiest man." And I was like, "That's amazing. That is so cool."' Pegg also revealed that avoiding alcohol in the past two years has helped him keep fit for Hollywood movie roles. 'I find it easier to keep fit if I don't drink. I have given up for two years and I don't miss it in the slightest. I was starting to do Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, which required more of a physical contribution and drink is so many empty calories. I also want to be able to wake up fresh in the morning and play with my kid. You can't be a parent and drink, unless you take it in turns to lie in until eleven every morning.' Simon recently revealed that Benedict will not play the villain Khan in Star Trek 2. Director JJ Abrams picked two other British actors — Alice Eve and Noel Clarke — for the new Star Trek film. Simon said: 'We had a whole little British corner, which JJ used to joke about us taking over.' Simon also revealed that he is set to start work on the final film in the so-called Cornetto Trilogy. The World's End follows Shaun Of The Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007), which Pegg co-wrote and made with Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright. In it, two friends realise the world is coming to an end during a reunion pub crawl.

The BBC Trust has taken a step closer to appointing a new director general to replace Mark Thompson with the three favourite candidates being asked for a second round of interviews for the chance to become Britain's most powerful television executive according to the Gruniad Morning Star. They claim that BBC chief operating officer Caroline Thomson, BBC Vision director George Entwistle and Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards have made the final shortlist for a job that is expected to have a salary of about four hundred grand a year. According to alleged 'sources' there may, allegedly, be a fourth candidate. Thomson is a BBC veteran who has handled policy and strategy and is married to Roger Liddle, a former adviser to Tony Blair, but she has not worked on a programme since the 1980s. Entwistle, a former editor of Newsnight, runs the BBC's TV channels. Richards previously advised both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown on media policy before joining Ofcom. Those on the final shortlist are expected to be interviewed on the same day and will be quizzed for about an hour and a half on their plans for the corporation, which will have to defend the existence of the compulsory licence fee in an era of unrivalled choice for viewers. Candidates will be questioned by a group of BBC Trustees, those who head each of its committees, and it is thought that a decision will be made at the end of that day. The preferred candidate is expected to be named before the start of the London Olympics, which begin on 27 July. 'It is understood,' the Gruniad claim, that eight people were interviewed by BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten and his deputy Diane Coyle at a Central London hotel, including BBC director of news Helen Boaden and BBC head of audio and music Tim Davie.

Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear's outspoken, offensive to everyone - and extremely entertaining - host broke through a chair the other day. Not the most earth-shattering of news, admittedly, but From The North reports it anyway. If only because it'll piss off some arsehole of no consequence at the Gruniad Morning Star or the Daily Scum Mail. Or both. Jezza's daughter snapped a picture of Clarkson's fall to earth and posted it on Twitter with the observation: 'Too many pies for the chair?' About a week later, it appears that yer man Clarkson's only been and gone and done it again, with the same chair, in the same room. 'The Daily Mail was right. He is fat. It's happened again,' young Ms Clarkson informed the Interweb. This blogger can't help but speculate on where she got her knack for making fun of people. Jezza himself responded to the second tweet with: 'Why does my daughter find it funny when a chair breaks and I fall on the floor. Not in the will anymore!' Meanwhile, here's GQ magazine's top ten favourite Clarkson quotes. This blogger particularly likes the review of the BMW X3: 'If you are clinically insane, by which I mean you wake up in the morning and you think you are an onion, this is your car.'

Now then, now then dear blog reader, some of the lots up for auction – the silver Rolls-Royce, the diamond-encrusted Rolex, an extremely chunky bracelet – are reminders of his wealth and adoration of bling. Others, such as a gold lamé tracksuit and startling platform boots, recall Sir James Savile OBE's exuberant stage persona. As it happens. There are mementoes of meetings with pop greats, politicians, religious leaders and royals along with souvenirs of his tireless fundraising efforts. And there are the cigars (lots of them) that he did not get round to smoking. Savile, disc jockey and television fixer, died last October aged eighty four having raised many millions for charity, and one of his final wishes was that the fundraising would continue. A collection of some of his most cherished possessions will be auctioned for good causes next month, with the five hundred and fifty lots expected to raise as much as three hundred grand. A highlight is undoubtedly one of the chairs Savile used when he made dreams come true in the television entertainment series Jim'll Fix It and dangled small children on his knee. The burgundy-coloured chair features an ashtray and pop-out trays used to hold his famous 'Jim fixed it for me' medals and his cup of tea. The chair is expected to fetch up to twelve thousand smackers. Other valuable items include Savile's Rolls-Royce convertible. Nicknamed The Beast, its estimated sale price is ninety thousand knicker. Car lovers with shallower pockets might prefer Savile's yellow BMW Isetta bubble car. He bought it in the 1960s when he was resident DJ at the New Elizabethan Ballroom in Manchester and fitted a rotating orange beacon on the roof after he was nearly flattened by a lorry. It's a snip, relatively speaking, at between five and eight grand. Examples from Savile's jewellery collection coming under the hammer at the auction in his home city of Leeds include a diamond-encrusted Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch, which is expected to fetch up to twelve thousand quid. Also on offer are clothes from Savile's extraordinary wardrobe, including a suit made up of printed images of Superman that he decided was the most appropriate garb to wear for a meeting with Prince Charles. The suit and the white platform shoes he teamed it with may go for up to five hundred smackers. Outfits Savile wore while presenting BBC1's Top of the Pops such as a naval officer's dress uniform and a zebra print jacket will be up for grabs. More casual, but no less flamboyant, outfits include some of the tracksuits Savile sported while taking part in money-raising marathons. One features all the flags of the home nations. Not all the outfits are comical. Among Savile's proudest moments was when the Royal Marines awarded him an honorary green beret for completing a gruelling speed march. He was buried with the beret, but a Royal Marines flying suit and a bottle of single malt from the officers' mess at the commando training centre will be offered for sale. Another interesting souvenir of Savile's fundraising adventures is a scrap of paper on which he tried to calculate how far he had cycled, run and walked for charity. The total he came to was one hundred and fifty six thousand eight hundred and ninety six miles. But perhaps the object most associated with Savile is the cigar. A box of Cubans (opened but not finished) is expected to fetch up to five hundred notes. Single cigars in their metal tubes should raise about thirty quid each. David Rees, of auctioneers Dreweatts, said: 'Sir Jimmy's charity trustees were particularly keen that we had some of his cigars in affordable lots like these so all his fans will have an opportunity to buy a piece of his life.' The sale takes place at Saviles Hall in Leeds on 30 July.

Good old mad as toast Pete Townshend was on spectacularly spiky and articulate form in Friday's stunning BBC4 documentary Quadrophenia: Can You See The Real Me? Thank goodness there's one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's heroes who has, obviously, decided to grow old properly disgracefully! Quote of the documentary, though, was from Roger (also on fine form): 'What was Keith [Moon] like in 1973? A little bit more drunk than he was in 1972!'
The Johnny Vegas sitcom Ideal is reportedly to be made into a film. Baby Cow, which produced the show, will also be behind the movie. Graham Duff, the programme's creator, is currently writing the script, and filming is planned for early next year. Ben Wheatley, who directed fourteen episodes of the series, will also helm the big-screen version. The story of a low-scale drug dealer on a scumbag Manchester estate, and the various psychos and low-lives that use his flat as the local community centre, Ideal had one of the best ensemble casts on television. (Vegas, Nicola Reynolds, Seymour Mace, Ryan Pope, Tom Goodman-Hill, Sinead Matthews, Alfie Joey, Ben Crompton, Andrew Lee Potts, Emma Fryer, Mick Miller, Joanna Neary, Janeane Garofalo, Duff himself.) It also possessed a sly, accomplished wit that set it apart from much of the crass wank which passes itself off as 'television comedy' these days. The Chortle website quotes chief executive of Baby Cow Henry Normal as saying: 'It's going to be set in the same place, with many of the same characters. We even brought the physical set from the BBC, our co-producers on the TV series. We are aiming for it to be quite a dark psychological comedy-thriller.' The television version ran for seven seasons, but was axed by some plank at BBC3 last year when it was getting its best ever ratings and its highest media profile. Vegas, while collecting a Best Performance gong at the Television Society North West Awards, commented: 'Thank you BBC. When the numbers have never been higher, you've cancelled us.' He added: 'I'm being fired by the man who commissioned Kerry Katona [Zai Bennett] so I'm proud to do anything else that you're not involved in!' Normal told Chortle that Ideal fans - of whom yer actual Keith Telly Topping is, very definitely one - still show their support for the series, for example staging Ideal nights which feature stand-up performances from the programme's cast members.

Spending on arts programming by the UK's five terrestrial television channels has decreased sharply since 2006, according to a report by Ofcom. Spending on all arts and classical music content fell by thirty nine per cent, from seventy two million smackers in 2006, to forty four million in 2011. In contrast, spending on feature films rose by forty one per cent, to two hundred and twenty eight million notes. The BBC said it was 'disappointed by the thrust' of Ofcom's report. The media regulator's report examined the delivery of public service broadcasting on the BBC, ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five, looking at first-run, original content and acquired programming. The BBC's director of strategic operations, John Tate, has criticised the findings, saying he is 'disappointed' that Ofcom had chosen to 'lay such emphasis on an apparent downturn in BBC content spend.' In a blog on the BBC website, Tate said Ofcom's figures - which showed the BBC's spend on all original content fell by eleven per cent last year to £1.25 billion - failed to consider programming in the nations and regions. He also pointed to the absence of a major sporting event last year, while 2010 played host to the World Cup and Winter Olympics. He said this meant the BBC's expenditure on sport contracted by eight five million quid in 2011. 'Much of that money has been held over to 2012 to cover the Diamond Jubilee, Euro 2012, the Cultural Olympiad and the Olympics. I therefore expect the increase in 2012 to make up the fall in 2011,' Tate said. The report shows that, during 2011, the amount spent by the broadcasters on first-run, original arts and classical music content suffered the sharpest fall - by fifteen per cent year-on-year, to forty one million knicker. Over a five-year period, spending on new drama and soaps fell by thirty per cent to five hundred and thirty eight million. There was also a drop in expenditure on drama across original, acquired and repeated programming, which dropped by eleven per cent between 2010 and 2011. The report also found that the total number of hours that viewers spent watching drama across the five main channels fell from eighty in 2006 to sixty five last year. The media regulator's report did show, however, that there were year-on-year increases in original entertainment and comedy programming, by six per cent (or twenty eight million quid). Factual programming, which rose by two per cent between 2010 and 2011, was the only other category in which year-on-year spending increased. Across all hours of output - including original, acquired and repeated programmes - year-on-year spending rose the furthest in entertainment and comedy. It increased from five hundred and fourteen million wonga in 2010 to five hundred and fifty one million in 2011, representing a rise of seven per cent. The only genre where spending increased over a five-year period was feature films, where spending on all hours of output rose by forty one per cent between 2006 and 2011. During the same period, spend on original films rose by one hundred and ninety six per cent, from eighteen million to twenty eight million pounds. The report also showed that the proportion of people watching BBC1 in a typical week had increased over the five years from 2006, from seventy seven per cent to seventy nine per cent in 2011. BBC2 increased its proportion from fifty two per cent to fifty four per cent, while ITV, Channel Four and Five all decreased.

Michael McIntyre reportedly injured himself while performing stand-up on stage in Ireland. Sadly, it wasn't anything serious.

Lorraine Newman has completed her rise to the top at EastEnders after being given the job of executive producer on a permanent basis. The former script secretary, who joined the BBC1 soap twenty years ago at the age of nineteen, has been acting in the role for the past few months and will now continue in a permanent capacity. She replaces Bryan Kirkwood who left the programme in March. John Yorke, controller, drama production and new talent, said Newman had done 'an amazing job' since Kirkwood left, steering EastEnders through 'a period of change' and positioning it 'for one of the most exciting autumns I can remember.' Newman has held every editorial role on the show and has been series producer for the past seven years. 'With her depth of experience, her passion for the programme and her commitment to talent on-screen and off, she's the perfect person to take EastEnders forward,' believed Yorke. Newman said it was an 'honour' to accept the top job. 'My passion for EastEnders was ignited during my first stint on the show as script secretary at the age of nineteen and this passion has continued to grow ever since.'

Kiefer Sutherland has once again insisted that he is 'anxious' to make a 24 movie. A film version of the popular high-octane FOX drama has been in development since the show ended in 2010. 'I've been working very hard to make that happen,' Sutherland is quoted as saying by Yahoo. 'The process has taken us so long because it's such a complicated script to write.' He explained: 'Normally, we have twenty four hours to tell a story. Trying to condense it into two hours involves a lot of hard choices: What kind of story do you want to tell? How political do you want to make it? How character-driven do you want to make it?' Sutherland added that he is keen to recruit a director and begin casting the movie adaptation. 'The film will pick up with Jack Bauer six months after the end of the final TV episode,' he confirmed. 'We still need to find a director and see which actors from the series would be available to return to do the film with me.' The forty five-year-old - who first played Jack Bauer in 2001 - also dismissed the suggestion that interest in a 24 film is lessening the longer it takes the project to materialise. 'I think audiences still remember the series and have a huge interest in seeing what a film version would be like,' he insisted. 'People still tell me how much they loved Jack Bauer and I think audiences appreciated that he wasn't a typical hero-type and had many flaws and contradictions. We'll also have a lot more creative freedom and possibilities doing the film as opposed to the kinds of limitations you have when doing a TV series in real time.'

Billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch appears to have turned his back on Britain following his humiliation over the phone-hacking scandal and the closure of the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World. In an interview on Thursday with the FOX Business channel - which he, of course, owns - following New Corporation's confirmation that it was splitting into two companies, entertainment and publishing, Murdoch said he would be 'a lot more reluctant' to invest in Britain now, compared to the US. The News Corp chairman and chief executive also told FOX Business host Neil Cavuto it was 'highly unlikely' that his eldest son, Lachlan Murdoch, would run the new newspaper, book publishing and education company. Once Britain's most powerful media figure, billionaire tyrant Murdoch has seen his bid for broadcaster BSkyB blocked and his reputation dragged through the shite following the phone-hacking revelations. Last month a parliamentary committee said that he was 'not a fit and proper person' to run a major corporation. Now, he looks set to retaliate by taking his money elsewhere. The billionaire tyrant version of taking his ball and going home. Asked about his future plans following his decision to split his News Corp empire in two, Murdoch made clear that the UK was not his 'first priority' and said the company's thinking had 'moved on' since it abandoned its Sky bid last summer at the height of the phone-hacking scandal. 'There are billions and billions of dollars, and if Britain didn't want 'em, there are plenty of good places to put them here. I'm much more bullish about America than I am about England,' he added. Oooo, get her. 'I would be a lot more reluctant to invest in new things in Britain today, rather than here.' Bye then, your odious waste of oxygen. Don't let the door hit your arse, hard, on the way out. Asked by Cavuto whether this was because of what he went through, Murdoch replied: 'No, not at all, just the English.' The News Corp boss also scotched rumours that Lachlan might return to the family firm and run the newly separated publishing business, saying: 'I think that's highly unlikely.' He added: 'Lachlan is very happy running his own business in Australia – and he loves living there.' In response to a question about the prospects for the new publishing company, Murdoch said: 'In the present climate of thinking in the markets, it'll carry a lower p/e ratio, certainly. But the other one [film and TV company] I think will get a lot higher. The shareholders who are here today will be a lot better off.' Murdoch said that Europe was in for a 'very long, tough haul' and that business prospects in the US were 'far more rosy.' That said, the media mogul was worried about Thursday's decision by the US Supreme Court to uphold president Barack Obama's landmark healthcare legislation. 'I worry about this entitlement culture,' said Murdoch. 'We've seen where it's taken Greece. We've seen where it's taken France and Spain today. So, on a political level, I worry about it.' Ken Doctor, media analyst at Outsell, said the split presaged Murdoch's exit from the UK. 'It's a recognition of his waning influence in the UK and the consolidation of his business in the US. If he was sixty, I would bet on him making a UK comeback but he's not and I can't see him achieving that in his lifetime.' Doctor said that he expected Murdoch's UK papers would 'eventually' be sold or put into a trust. 'Those newspapers and his influence in the UK have grown hand-in-hand. That's over now,' added Doctor. Julie Tanner, a director at Christian Brothers Investment Services, which led a shareholder revolt against Murdoch and his board last year, said investors were 'keen to hear' who would be appointed to head the new companies. Tanner added that she would continue with plans to press for a new independent chairman at News Corp. 'News Corp must consult with a broad and varied range of shareholders to ensure there are strong corporate governance guidelines established and oversight and monitoring mechanisms in place to assure the highest levels of integrity,' she said. Rich Greenfield, analyst at BTIG, dismissed concerns about Murdoch's control. 'If you don't like Rupert, there are plenty of other media companies you can buy,' he said.

Cheryl Taylor is to leave the BBC's Comedy department to become controller of the CBBC channel, it has been announced. Currently the BBC's controller of comedy commissioning, Taylor will join CBBC as replacement for Damian Kavanagh, who has left to join Channel Four as head of features and factual formats. Taylor is already based at BBC North in Salford, to which the Children's department relocated last year. In 2009, she became the BBC's first genre controller outside of London and her comedy commissions have included Twenty Twelve, Miranda, Rev, Mrs Brown's Boys and the forthcoming Citizen Khan. Prior to joining the BBC, Taylor was head of comedy at Hat Trick Productions and spent time in the comedy department at Channel Four. Taylor, who will oversee an annual content budget of around seventy eight million notes at CBBC, said that she felt 'very privileged' to take up the new post. She described CBBC as 'a leading light' in children's TV, as it remains the most watched channel among six to twelve-year-olds, attracting nearly forty per cent of that audience. 'I feel very privileged to be moving from a brilliant job in comedy to an equally fabulous one at CBBC,' she said. 'The channel is a leading light in the world of children's television and generates imaginative and inspiring shows with the very highest creative standards. I look forward to collaborating with our dedicated and passionate teams both in-house and the indie sector and building on their great work to date.' Joe Godwin, the director of BBC Children's, added: 'I'm delighted to welcome Cheryl to the department. She'll bring so much commissioning and production experience, from the BBC and the indie sector, to the CBBC role - one of the most exciting and important commissioning roles in children's media.' Under the BBC's current cost-cutting drive, children's programmes will be removed from BBC1 and BBC2 after the digital switchover is complete. That decision caused controversy (for which read whinging) among some viewers, but the BBC claims that it is justified because all households will be able to receive CBBC and pre-school counterpart CBeebies after the switch to digital TV. The BBC Children's department must achieve annual productivity savings of five to ten million quid during 2013 to 2017, but the unit will get an additional three million smackers in funding to boost its growing digital output.

Stephen Fry and Al Murray were backing Paul Chambers, as he appealed to the High Court against his conviction for sending an allegedly 'menacing' tweet on Wednesday. Three judges, led by Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, have reserved their judgment in the case for a later date after hearing lawyers for Chambers argue that the tweet in question was 'a joke' and not menacing. Chambers, twenty eight, from Doncaster but now living in Northern Ireland, was - ridiculously - fined three hundred and eighty five knicker and ordered to pay six hundred quid costs at Doncaster Magistrates' Court in May 2010 for sending a 'message of menacing character' contrary to the 2003 Communications Act. In January of that year he had tweeted to his six hundred Twitter followers after snow closed Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire: 'Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!' In November 2010 an appeal was dismissed by Crown Court Judge Jacqueline Davies, who said the electronic communication was 'clearly menacing'. Defending Chambers, John Cooper QC told Lord Judge, Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Griffith Williams that the 'wrong legal tests' had been applied, that the relevant section of the act was never intended to deal with messages to the 'world at large' and Twitter had been invented three years after the law even came into effect. He argued that the tweet had not been sent in a context of terrorism and it was wrong for the Crown Court to have made that association. 'If that be the case, and I don't mean to be flippant, John Betjeman would be concerned when he said "Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough", or Shakespeare when he said "Let's kill all the lawyers,"' Cooper said. Lord Judge responded: 'That was a good joke in 1600 and it is still a good joke now.' Robert Smith QC, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Chambers had sent a 'very foolish' message. Comedian Murray described Chambers' conviction as 'monstrously unjust.' Which it was. 'He made a passing remark to his followers, to his friends, to people who joined in with his way of looking at the world,' he said outside court. 'It was found randomly by someone else and the law has, like one of those Python ten tonne weights, dropped on top of him. The funniest thing is hearing [the tweet] read out in court by a QC in his wig. Even when it's said deadpan by a QC it's funny, it's obviously a joke.'

ITV are reportedly preparing to retire The X Factor in favour of another 'big event show.' Bosses at the channel are, apparently, concerned that they have 'become too reliant' on the Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads contest, which took a - smallish - tumble in the ratings for its eighth series last year. 'Every television network is always looking for the next big thing. They'd be crazy not to,' an alleged 'senior source' allegedly told the Daily Lies. And, the fact that this story has appeared in the Lies is, almost certainly, the clearest indication that The X Factor will be with us for years to come. 'X Factor has had a brilliant run, but no show lasts for ever,' the alleged 'senior source' allegedly said. 'Over the past few years Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads has been the main source for many of our top hits but some feel that we've got too many eggs in one basket and we've become too reliant on one man.' However, ITV entertainment boss Elaine Bedell - who admitted recently to being 'hungry for a big primetime weekend event show' - has said that commissioners have yet to find a format they feel confident about. 'The ideas need to have the production values of The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent and I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... and they need a major piece of talent,' she explained. 'We get very few pitches for big event shows. They're risky to commission.' Auditions for series nine of The X Factor are currently taking place around the country.

Meanwhile, Ant and/or Dec have admitted that they 'knew' after just one episode Red or Black? was 'a flawed concept.' As previously noted, hubris was at the core of Red or Black?'s dismal failure. It was made by Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's production company, it had Ant and Dec as presenters, it was giving away millions of smackers, it featured guests of the calibre of ... err ... Jedward. And David Hasselhoff. The opening episode beat Doctor Who in the overnight ratings (although not once timeshifts were taken into account). By episode five the following Thursday, more than half of the initial seven million viewers had, quite simply, had enough. All that was bad enough, and the negative publicity which occurred when the first million pound winner was discovered to have a rather violent criminal past didn't help. But what turned Red Or Black?'s flopping into a genuine fiasco was ITV's desperate - and quite brazen - attempts to paint it as a success. Not since Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf had been confidently telling the news cameras that Iraq was winning the war as American tanks appeared in the back of shot had an official spokesman (in this case ITV's hapless press chief James MacLeod) come out with such utterly risible mendacious bollocks disguised as 'facts'. The claim that the show had 'reached twenty four million viewers' (a figure achieved simply by adding up the numbers for all of the episodes) was cherry on the top of the cake. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads himself claimed that the show 'had got five million' which was 'what ITV expected.' As anybody even vaguely close to the TV industry knows, that's about half of what ITV confidently expected. The presenting duo claimed that the victory of ex-convict Nathan Hageman not only 'overshadowed' the rest of the Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads game show, but made them realise that the show should only air weekly - as it will do for series two. 'We all got that wrong and hold our hands up to that,' Dec Donnelly told the Sun. 'When we had a winner on the first night, we all got back to our dressing room and said, "We shouldn't be doing this again tomorrow, it should be weekly." In hindsight, we shouldn't have done it every night. And we had some unfortunate situations with some of the contestants, which overshadowed the show, probably disproportionately.' Ant McPartlin added that 'every precaution' had been taken to ensure that series two would not involve a repeat of the controversy surrounding Hageman, whose conviction for assaulting an ex-girlfriend was only discovered by ITV after his one million smackers win. 'We know we have a great set of contestants and have all been looked at so we don't have that to worry,' he said.

A presenter on notorious ITV breakfast flop Daybreak is suing ITV for sexual discrimination, claiming that she was threatened and bullied by her boss after suffering an ectopic pregnancy. Angela Corpe alleges that she returned from sick leave last August to be told by Daybreak's then controller, Ian Rumsey, who was once married to presenter Kate Garraway, that she had been overlooked for a job of pool producer on the show. Giving evidence at South London Employment Tribunal, Corpe claimed Rumsey opened a meeting between the pair by telling her 'I hope you don’t think your ectopic pregnancy had anything to do with not getting the job' before behaving in a 'belligerent, rude and aggressive' manner. But Rumsey claimed that he was 'hurt, shocked and appalled’ by claims that he overlooked Corpe for promotion. The former Sky News presenter said she was 'convinced' she would be offered the job of pool producer, after covering the post during someone else's maternity leave. She told the hearing Rumsey had praised her work in the past and told her she was 'very good' at her job. But after returning to work after taking time off to recover from her miscarriage, Corpe was told that to be eligible for the job, she must have already applied for a day producer job, which involved twenty three hour shifts and sleeping in the studio one night a week. She added it was a 'ridiculous suggestion' that she should apply for a job she did not want in the hope in of being offered the job that she did want. She told the tribunal that at their meeting Rumsey steadfastly refused to re-advertise the position and told her he had assumed she did not want it since she did not apply for the daytime producer role. She said: 'He kept telling me what's done is done and they would not re-advertise the role or consider other candidates.' She said: 'I believe his exclusion of me was deliberate and the exclusion of others who may or may not have applied was a by-product. I believe it was on the basis of my ectopic pregnancy because I cannot think of anything else he would be able to complain about. Throughout the meeting he was belligerent, rude, aggressive and constantly interrupted me. I felt particularly threatened when he said he didn't want us to "fall out" over this. At the end of the meeting he said I shouldn't worry too much about it as I have bigger fish to fry.' Directly after the meeting Corpe claims that she cried in the toilet before facing her colleagues in the newsroom. Corpe claimed the TV executive never apologised for his behaviour. She said: 'After the meeting there was no acknowledgement that I even existed in the office, I was sent to Coventry.' Rumsey himself has since left ITV after network bosses accepted his resignation given the abject - and very amusing - failure of Daybreak to attract anything like an audience. Giving evidence at the tribunal he said: 'As a husband and father, my wife and I have been through various good and bad experiences in pregnancy. My first and only reaction was of sadness for Angela and full support for her. In all similar matters I’ve acted in a way I would expect any manager to treat my wife. In every circumstance where female workers have told me they are pregnant I have always been happy for them and told them of my own experiences. They should take great care to look after themselves, with work being far less important that their health and the health of their child. Angela seemed to appreciate the support I had given her and she certainly did not raise any complaint with me at that time that I was not being supportive.' Rumney married Garraway 1998. They divorced in April 2002. Nick Goodfellow, representing ITV, said Corpe had completely misrepresented the meeting with Rumsey and she entered the meeting in an 'agitated state.' Under cross-examination he read from e-mails where Rumsey was 'sympathetic and kind' on learning about her miscarriage. He accused Corpe of fabricating incidents to bolster her claim. Goodfellow said: 'You have raised new points here for the first time to make your case against ITV and that case is without foundation.' But Corpe said that the assumption was incorrect and she had consistently claimed Rumsey had discriminated against her. Corpe a former Sky News presenter has since accepted a thirty seven thousand smackers a year role with ITV as a reporter/producer. She is suing the network for sexual discrimination and lost wages after she claimed the company failed to address her grievance against her former boss. The hearing continues.

Viddy well, my brothers, songs written by A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess for a musical version of his novel have been performed in Britain for the first time. Burgess' operatic reimagining of his most famous novel was composed twenty six years ago, but has never been staged in full. Tenor Timothy Langston played gang leader Alex, accompanied by bowler hat-wearing members of Manchester Chamber Choir as his droog accomplices. Together, they sang songs about their 'ultraviolence' and 'the old in-out.' There might have been some yarble-showing an'all. Horrorshow. Burgess' tunes, informed by Beethoven as well as classic musicals like West Side Story, feature lyrics written in the Russian-influenced argot Burgess invented for his teenage anti-heroes. The opening song uses the gang's battle cry of 'What's it gonna be then, eh?' as its chorus. Another, depicting the authorities' over-zealous attempts at a cure, begins with a bellicose chant: 'Discipline, discipline, let's 'ave discipline, give him a haircut and shave.' Burgess composed a 'play with music' to reassert ownership over his story after it was overshadowed by director Stanley Kubrick's controversial 1971 film version. The script has been performed as a drama, notably by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1990 - but they enlisted Mr Bonio and Mr The Edge out of The U2 Group to compose new songs rather than use Burgess' compositions. Burgess, who died in 1993, wrote thirty three novels, but once said that he wanted to be known as 'a musician who writes novels, instead of a novelist who writes music on the side.' Dr Andrew Biswell, director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester, where the performance took place, said the songs had not previously been heard in the UK because there was a 'distrust of his music among professional musicians. He wasn't one of them,' Biswell said. 'He wasn't formally trained. When the RSC did their production of the play, they wanted musicians you've heard of.' Biswell said there was 'every chance' Burgess' music would now be used in a fully staged production. 'Now the music's been properly edited and typeset, it becomes usable for other people,' he said. 'I'd never heard all of the music so this has been a revelation to me. I'd known the play for more than twenty years but suddenly this makes sense of the play for me.' The stage play differs significantly from the book and the subsequent film, Biswell added. 'It becomes a love story. Alex acquires a girlfriend and intends to get married at the end of the play, and that love interest isn't there in the novel, and certainly not in the film. So, in many ways, it's a much more conventional theatrical happy ending. I think the reason he adapted this for the stage and wrote his own music was to reassert authorship over the story post-Kubrick. But also I think he got quite tired of the way the book and the film were talked about as products of violence. There had been a very dry, academic debate about violence, and the thing everybody had forgotten is that the novel he'd written is, in many respects, a comic novel. Burgess, in putting it on the stage, found an opportunity, not just to adapt, but to revise and reimagine and turn it into something new, and something that's meant to entertain. People don't go to the theatre because they want to see people being raped and murdered.' No, indeed, as the great Peter Cook once wisely noted, they can get that at home. 'There has to be something else. So adapting the story for the theatre gave him the chance to change the tone of it completely.' The performance was part of a conference to mark the book's fiftieth anniversary.

BBC local radio has a duty to develop a 'new generation of Beryls and Bettys,' according to its controller, a reference to the elderly pair from Hull who won a Sony gold award for their popular show. David Holdsworth, controller, BBC English regions, told a Westminster Media Forum event debating the prospects for radio earlier this week that the corporation's thirty nine local stations were specially designed for the over-fifties, 'a growing but unfashionable group' not 'always well-connected or understood by the people who control the flow of money.' But they had very special needs, Holdsworth said, and BBC local radio had been protected from twelve per cent cuts by the BBC Trust thanks to lobbying from 'MPs, bishops, folk music lovers, and ordinary people,' the largest protest against any of the Delivering Quality First cost-saving fiasco. BBC Radio Humberside's Beryl Renwick, eighty six, and Betty Smith, ninety, won best entertainment programme at the 2012 Sony Radio Academy awards in May. Their Saturday evening show is a mixture of easy listening and end-of-the-pier banter. The conference was told that the elderly were 'an audience the BBC had to itself,' because advertisers would pay only a third of the amount for audiences over fifty, compared with high spending women, aged twenty five to thirty nine, and that no commercial radio was ever going to target the over-sixties. 'There is no money there, if you want them, advertise on daytime television. That is where you see Michael Parkinson popping up,' advised Phil Riley, chief executive of the Orion commercial radio group. He added that BBC local radio was 'the people's radio,' a description first coined by corporation veteran Frank Gillard, who pioneered the service, and that there were about 1.3 million listeners who listen to no other radio stations at all. One outcome of the cuts furore was that 'local radio is much better understood in the corridors of power,' according to Holdsworth. He said that the BBC would implement the modified six per cent cutback still needed in part by putting out a tender to independent producers for a networked 7pm-10pm programme broadcast across local stations. BBC local radio will also be dispensing with forty managerial posts, but adding new local political reporters to cover elections for mayors and police commissioners.

Fangirls, be advised, a company specialising in merchandise for female fans have been granted a licence by BBC Worldwide to produce a range of official t-shirts themed around Doctor Who. Her Universe aims to feature 'images, characters and phrases' from the Doctor Who universe all with fashion-forward designs for girls to look 'Geek Chic,' and launches the range on 11 July with three designs themed around River Song's high heels, Amy's experience with the TARDIS, and Van Gogh's painting of the 'cracked' TARDIS.

The BBC is aiming to exploit the popularity of Radio 4's Woman's Hour making it into a money-spinner like Top Gear or Doctor Who. Alice Feinstein, the editor of the programme, is said to have told staff she is aiming to develop 'commercial projects' linked to the show, which was introduced to the BBC in 1946 and has an audience of three and a half million ladies. She has asked its producers to submit their own moneymaking ideas, claims the Independent. Woman's Hour is hoping to develop the commercial value of its brand around 'key areas' including female entrepreneurialism, cookery and literature in order to sell tickets for road show events, books and DVDs. Promising areas are said to include the show's Cook The Perfect feature, which offers culinary insights from leading chefs and celebrities such as Yotam Ottolenghi, Claudia Roden and Mary McCartney. The development follows an e-mail sent to all two thousand four hundred staff in the BBC Global News department telling them exploitation of 'commercial opportunities' will be part of their job. The instructions to 'strengthen our commercial focus and grow income' have angered journalists and are part of the increasing commercialisation of the BBC. The BBC has successfully exploited brands such as Doctor Who and Top Gear to supplement its income, but products connected to Radio 4 are largely confined to its comedy and drama output, notably The Archers. The commercialisation of editorial is controversial and some producers are said to be unhappy that they are being asked to come up with money-making spin-offs.

Eoin Morgan hit a superb unbeaten eighty nine off sixty three balls as England held on to beat Australia by fifteen runs in the first of the five match one-day international series at Lord's. The left-hander's late assault carried the hosts to a more than decent total of two hundred and seventy two for five after valuable contributions from Jonathan Trott (fifty four, Ian Bell (forty one) and Alastair Cook (forty). David Warner made fifty six and Michael Clarke sixty one in reply, but England kept their cool to limit Australia to two hundred and fifty seven for nine. Cook's side have now won their last seven completed ODIs. The second game of the series takes place at The Oval on Sunday.

Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day is yet another from The Grand Dame's oeuvre. (What can I say, yer actual Keith Telly Topping has been re-reading Nick Pegg's marvellous The Complete David Bowie recently!) And one of the great - now thankfully no-longer-lost - TV performances of the 1970s. Look at them Spiders go.