Thursday, July 05, 2012

Contaminated Population

The incoming BBC director general, George Entwistle, is already getting plenty of advice about what he should do, quite apart from the wishes of BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten that he make the corporation 'ten or twenty per cent' better. The National Union of Journalists wants him to 'unpick' the frozen licence fee deal. Commentator Mark Lawson argues that he will need to 'adjust his personality' in order to deal with political and media interviews. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping wants him to do what no other senior BBC executive ever seems able to do and show a bit of backbone when dealing with the crass whinges of a hostile press - and, in particular, the hippie Communist lice at the Gruniad Morning Star and the jackbooted bully boy thugs at the Daily Scum Mail. And The Times's media analyst, Ben Webster, believes his 'immediate priority will be to restore morale among staff after the battering of the BBC's reputation over its flawed coverage of the jubilee river pageant.' One of the lengthiest and most comprehensive exhortations comes from John Simpson, the BBC's world affairs editor, in an open letter to Entwistle in The Spectator. Simmo urges Entwistle to lift a 'profoundly disheartened' staff at 'this weird, difficult and occasionally brilliant outfit.' He adds: 'If we are going to keep the goodwill of the people who fund us, we will have to get back to basics.' And what will that involve? Simpson continues: 'First, don't be afraid to be Reithian. For the BBC, the dilemma has always been that if fewer people watch it and listen to it, they will wonder why they should have to pay a licence fee; while if its programmes become too populist, the critics will say it's dumbing down. The BBC has shown that delivering high audiences is easy; now, even though the money has evaporated, we have to keep on delivering high quality. Don't, second, think that will in any way be easy. Be frank about the damage the cuts are doing. People around the world are wondering if our standards are as high as they were. As for the BBC's workforce we'd like to see something of you. So, third, emulate Greg Dyke. Greg's matiness and lack of grandeur were soon appreciated throughout the organisation. Press the flesh, just as he did. Fourth, even though times are hard, find ways to look after your staff better. Most salaries are remarkably low, especially those of senior producers.' There's also a fifth (kill off management jargon) and a sixth (ignore what the papers say). Simpson writes: 'Several British newspapers are sworn enemies of public service broadcasting, and know their owners will be richer if the corporation is chopped. You'll never win them round. Does that matter? These papers don't represent the nation; roughly the same number of people want to scrap the monarchy as want to get rid of the BBC. Ignore the nutters and the obsessives, but listen hard to the ordinary people of the country. The more they feel the BBC is once again becoming the institution they approve of, the more successful you'll be.' Yes. What he said. Simpson concludes with a seventh point: 'Don't be too nervous. No British government has ever had anything approaching the level of support which the BBC enjoys from the people of Britain.'

Entwistle isn't the director general yet, of course. He will take over from Mark Thompson in September, after the Olympics are concluded. This may give BBC News types just enough time to learn how to spell his name properly. Ooops!
Once upon a time, dropping an 'aitch at the BBC was considered a sackable offence. One wonders if adding one will be from now on?

The woman behind BBC's Stargazing Live and The Great British Bake Off and a Google executive are among five contenders in the frame to take over as director of BBC Vision, following Entwistle's promotion. Emma Swain, head of knowledge commissioning at the corporation, is considered a rising star after captivating audiences with unlikely hits such as The Great British Bake Off, while Google Europe's communications chief Peter Barron is considered in with a chance if he wanted to return to the BBC where he edited Newsnight for four years. At the time of his appointment it was reported that Barron would consider a return to the BBC 'if the right opportunity came up,' he was linked as a candidate to replace Mark Damazer as recently Radio 4 controller in 2010. BBC1 controller Danny Cohen and his predecessor Jay Hunt, now Channel Four's creative chief, are also seen as the prime candidates for the top job as is Alison Kirkham, the BBC's head of commissioning. The two hundred and eighty thousand smackers-a-year role encompasses the corporation's flagship TV properties BBC1, BBC2, BBC3 and BBC4 as well as BBC Film and editorial responsibility for UKTV. While she certainly has the pedigree for the job there may be too much bad blood between Hunt, the former BBC1 controller who defected to Channel Four in September 2010, and the corporation for her to be a realistic contender. The forty four-year old Australian was stung by the level of personal criticism levelled at her during Miriam O'Reilly's acrimonious age discrimination case, launched after Hunt moved Countryfile into peak time and dropped its older, allegedly less photogenic, presenters. Yet she has proved she is not afraid to change her mind if it is the best career choice. In 2007 she left the corporation for Channel Five only to be welcomed back with open arms within months after Peter Fincham's departure in the wake of the so-called Crowngate scandal. 'Sources' allegedly close to Hunt, however, have allegedly said that she is 'not interested' in applying for the role. Cohen, who replaced Hunt running BBC1 in October 2010, has been responsible for hits including Call The Midwife and more disappointing fare such as David Jason's The Royal Bodyguard and some on which the jury is still out like the talent show The Voice. Previously, he was controller at BBC3, where he commissioned shows including Being Human, and prior to that worked at Channel Four on shows such as The Inbetweeners, Skins and Supernanny. Some alleged 'BBC insiders' according to the Gruniad Morning Star believe that Entwistle's number two, Swain, is the most natural candidate to take over. Swain, described in a recent interview as 'one of the most powerful people in the BBC you have never heard of,' was promoted last year to the controller of knowledge commissioning with a hefty two hundred and twenty five million quid budget. A previous controller of BBC Daytime programming who spent a brief stint in 2007 running BBC3, has been responsible for commissioning shows including BBC2 shows Stargazing Live and The Great British Bake Off. She first started working for the BBC in 1996 and has commissioned Don't Tell the Bride and Kill It Cook It Eat It. Alison Kirkham, appointed as the BBC's commissioning editor for factual features and formats for BBC1 and BBC2, has also been raised as a potential contender. Kirkham joined the BBC in 2005 as an executive producer on Daytime. She started her career in broadcast assistant on Radio 4's Today programme in 1998 and has held production and editor roles on programmes including ITV's This Morning, Tonight with Trevor McDonald, Channel Four's Richard & Judy and I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want).

One from the 'we've been asked to speak politics to you today' column. Former Sex Pistol, yer actual John Lydon is, it would seem, swapping anarchy for current affairs as he is to appear on Question Time. The fifty six year old singer, TV presenter and butter advert specialist - former Johnny Rotten - will join former home secretary Alan Johnson (himself once a member of a teenage rock band) and Tory MP Louise Bagashite Mensch on the BBC1 show. Which, should be a laugh.
The lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt has said that he believes the public was 'reassured' over his handling of the BSkyB deal by his appearance at the Leveson Inquiry. Delusional, clearly. On Radio 4's The Media Show, the vile and odious rascal Hunt said that he 'took responsibility for the actions of his aide,' who resigned, but that did not mean he had to quit. 'I took responsibility by the very next day going to Parliament and answering questions,' he said. The vile and odious rascal Hunt has faced accusations of bias in favour of News Corp's bid for BSkyB. Labour has called for the resignation of the lack of culture secretary, who had a 'quasi-judicial' role over the takeover, claiming he was in breach of the ministerial code for failing to supervise an adviser and lying to Parliament over his department's contacts with News Corp. But the vile and odious rascal Hunt told The Media Show: 'The ministerial code says you are responsible for the actions of your special adviser. It doesn't say you should resign if your special adviser does something wrong, and I did take responsibility. I was very, very shocked by what I had seen. I took responsibility by the very next day going to Parliament and answering questions, doing a statement and giving MPs the chance to ask me anything they wanted to ask me about what happened.' The special 'rogue' adviser, Adam Smith, resigned in April over inappropriate contact with a News Corp lobbyist that involved hundreds of texts and e-mails. 'You can take any text message, or any e-mail, or any reported conversation on its own or out of context and you can use it to paint a particular picture,' the vile and odious rascal Hunt said. 'I made no secret of the fact that I was broadly sympathetic to the deal but what the Leveson process showed was when I took responsibility I put in place new processes that actually went way beyond what I had to do in law. The really central issue in this is was that bid conducted properly, impartially, and I think that what the Leveson process showed was that it was - and that is, I think, the thing that can give the public most confidence.' News Corp's planned bid to take full ownership of satellite broadcaster BSkyB was eventually dropped in July 2011 amid the phone-hacking scandal at the Scum of the World and not through any actions related to the vile and odious rascal Hunt. Just in case anyone had forgotten that. Least of all, the vile and odious rascal Hunt his very self.

A prison officer and a former Mirra journalist were arrested on Wednesday in connection with the police probe into alleged corrupt payments to public officials. It is the first time that a journalist who has worked on a non-News International title has been arrested in connection with Scotland Yard's Operation Elveden inquiry. Greig Box-Turnbull, thirty seven, who worked for Trinity Mirra until taking voluntary redundancy in March, was arrested at his home in Morden. Two other people – a prison officer and a woman, whose job has not been identified – were also arrested between 6am and 8am on Wednesday. A Mirra spokesman said the newspaper could not comment: 'We cannot confirm anything because we do not know.' The prison worker, forty six, was arrested at his home in South-East London, and a fifty-year-old woman was held at what was described as 'a non-residential address' in Kent. They were all arrested on suspicion of corruption, conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to cause misconduct in a public office. Box-Turnbull is working for Westminster council but was on secondment to Richmond council. A Westminster council spokesman said: 'We have yet to speak to the employee. With the possibility of further legal action it would clearly be inappropriate to comment further.' Trinity Mirra has not been contacted by Scotland Yard about the arrest, and it is unclear whether any allegations are linked to Box-Turnbull's work for the Daily Mirra, a spokesman said. Thirty seven people have been arrested in connection with Operation Elveden, the investigation into suspected corrupt payments to public officials.

Meanwhile, a twenty six-year-old man arrested on Thursday morning in connection with Scotland Yard's phone-hacking inquiry is a News International employee. Tom Mockridge, the chief executive of the publisher sent an e-mail to all staff to say he was 'sorry to inform' them that this was the case. He did not identify the suspect but said that he was 'not a journalist. He is not a member of any editorial team.' The man was arrested at a residential address in Surrey early on Thursday and questioned at a London police station on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The arrest was made as part of the Operation Weeting investigation into the hacking of voicemails. The man is the twenty fourth person arrested as part of that particular investigation. News International said it is giving the man legal support. 'We have provided a lawyer and we will do all we can to support our colleague as the legal process takes its course. No one is prejudging the outcome of these investigations,' Mockridge said in his e-mail. Six people – including the former News International chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and her racehorse trainer husband, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie – have been charged in connection with the investigation. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks faces three charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice, while her husband is charged with one count of the same offence. The couple are due to enter pleas when they appear at Southwark crown court in London on 26 September. Fourteen suspects remain on bail pending further inquiries, while four others were released with no further action. In the last month Scotland Yard has sent files relating to twelve people to the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to phone hacking. Eleven of these are thought to relate to journalists.

Homeland's executive producer Alex Gansa has revealed the fate of Carrie and Brody at the start of season two of the popular US thriller. During season one's climax Marine One, CIA analyst Carrie Mathison (played, astonishingly, by Claire Danes) was given electroshock therapy in an attempt to deal with her severe bipolar disorder. 'Carrie has had, for the first time in her life, the benefit of professional help for her disease,' Gansa told The Huffington Post. 'She will have been in the psych ward for a while. She will have been in the care of a psychiatrist for six months. She will have undergone a series of these ECT therapies. [The treatment] is not just a one-off. So when we find her as the second season picks up, she will be in a place where she is centred and quiet and together in a way that we haven't seen her before.' Damian Lewis's character Brody, meanwhile, will be a congressman when the new season begins. 'His seat is vacated through a scandal, and he was appointed by the governor into that seat for a temporary period of time until the election,' Gansa teased. 'He's not running. Well, he will be running, but he will be a sitting congressman serving in the House of Representatives when we open the season.' Revealing the on-screen time period between the seasons, Gansa added: 'I can definitely tell you where the season starts - it's around half-a-year after the first season. We pick up the second season six months later.' Homeland returns to Showtime in the US on 30 September and, hopefully, soon afterwards in the UK.

An ITV poll has revealed that most Twatting About On Ice viewers are not fans of co-host Christine Bleakley. Which is really very surprising as this blogger thought the worthless, breakfast TV flop, greed bucket, horrorshow (and drag) was so universally well liked. Seemingly not. The survey stated that only forty five per cent of those asked and expressed a preference admitted to liking Bleakley as a co-presenter, reports the Mirra. Alleged 'insiders' allegedly claim that this may, allegedly, be one of the main factors that saw this year's Twatting About On Ice finale drop to 7.3 million viewers from 2011's 11.7 million. Holly Willoughby had been co-host with Phillip Schofield until 2011. However, despite the results of the poll, producers are still hoping that Bleakley will return for a second run, according to the tabloid. An alleged 'source' allegedly said: 'When Twatting About On Ice didn't do so well this year, bosses looked into what the problem was and discovered that viewers hadn't particularly warmed to Christine. They will stick with her, however, as she's still being paid millions thanks to her watertight Daybreak contract and they need to get their money's worth.' An ITV spokesperson stated: 'Christine is a fantastic presenter and an important part of the ITV family.' At least one of those statements, however, is a lie. Can you guess which one it is, dear blog reader? An alleged 'insider' - presumably different from the one quoted earlier, that is, if one or both of them aren't entirely fictitious in the first place - allegedly added: 'Inevitably it can take time for a new presenter to establish themselves with the audience and we are very encouraged by this research after just one series. She is doing a great job and works brilliantly well with Phillip and the team.'

A Go Compare TV advertisement featuring Sue Barker has received a number of complaints over its content. The commercial - which launched the insurance comparison site's new 'Saving the Nation' campaign on Monday - features the BBC's Wimbledon anchor Barker firing a large rocket launcher at opera singer Gio Compario in an attempt to kill off the face of the brand. 'We have received a total of forty three complaints so far,' the Advertising Standards Authority confirmed to the Sun. 'Some people think it offensive especially at a time when children are watching. Others think it inappropriate when our security forces are coming under fire on a daily basis. As with all complaints, we are looking into the matter before deciding if we launch a full investigation.' And, once again dear blog reader, let us all simply marvel at the utter shite some people chose to care about. All broadcast commercials shown in the UK must abide to the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising and the ASA is responsible for ensuring that all adverts - broadcast and non-broadcast - are 'legal, decent, honest and truthful.'

The BBC's Match of the Day 2 is to be broadcast on BBC1 because of the increased number of Premier League games played on a Sunday, the corporation has said. The Premier League highlights programme, which is fronted by the really annoying Colin Murray, will move from BBC2 for the start of the upcoming season. Match of the Day 2 will now be broadcast on BBC1 at 10.25pm on a Sunday. Gary Lineker's Match of the Day will continue to be broadcast in its regular Saturday evening slot on BBC1. Danny Cohen, the controller of BBC1, said: 'As a huge fan of Match Of The Day, I'm thrilled that MOTD2 is moving to a regular home on BBC1. The audience response to the BBC's coverage of Euro 2012 has been fantastic, meaning that this is the perfect moment to make this move.' Match of the Day 2 features regularly in BBC2's top thirty most-viewed programmes, according to industry figures compiled by the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. Towards the climactic end of the last Premier League season, Match of the Day 2 regularly attracted between one and a half million and two and a half million viewers in its 10pm slot, compared with about two and half million viewers for The Apprentice – You're Fired in the Wednesday 10pm slot and 1.8 million for Mastermind in the Friday 8pm slot.

For the millions watching the game, it summed up the emotion of football; a German woman shedding tears as her team conceded a goal against the Italians. Her raw emotions were broadcast for all the world to see. But, seemingly that the particular image in question wasn't, actually, live. She wasn't crying during the European championship semi-final game but, rather, as the German national anthem was played before kick-off. It has now emerged that UEFA had recorded the footage and inserted it into the live pictures which it supplied for broadcasters such as the BBC and ITV. It is embarrassing for the game's European governing body, which was also caught passing off another recorded clip as live footage. Shots of the German coach Joachim Löw playfully knocking a ball from under a ballboy's arm like a cheeky scamp during his team's game with the Netherlands were recorded before the match began, the authority admitted. UEFA later said it was striving to show 'the human story of the game' in its television coverage and 'to translate the emotion and the tension of the German fans for this game.' However, the fan's friends thought something was amiss when they saw the clip and texted her. They wanted to know why their friend, known only as 'Andrea from Dusseldorf', was blubbering when there was still an hour of the match to go – never mind the fact that the German team is famously good at comebacks. An investigation was also carried out by German broadcaster ARD, which had warned UEFA about manipulating images. Its Euro 2012 chief editor Joerg Schoenenborn said: 'Any form of censorship or manipulation is not acceptable for us. That's why we clearly told UEFA that the German public expects coverage to be live when it says it's live.'

Goal-line technology is set to get the go-ahead when the International Football Association Board vote on Thursday over whether to use it. The results of testing will be heard before IFAB are expected to approve the Hawk-Eye and the GoalRef systems. The Premier League and Football Association can then introduce the technology into their competitions. FA chairman David Bernstein and general secretary Alex Horne have travelled to Zurich to take part in the vote. The English FA and their Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland counterparts each has a single vote, while FIFA - world football's governing body - has four. The desire to bring in goal-line technology increased after Ukraine were denied an equaliser after the ball appeared to cross the line in a 1-0 defeat by England at Euro 2012. That incident led to FIFA president knobcheese Sepp Blatter adding his support to calls to bring in technology to help in such decisions. Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said: 'We see every season, every big tournament, we need it because there are some crucial moments within those games where you could find the right solution with a bit of technology. UEFA president odious little Michel Platini is believed to favour the use of five match officials and the IFAB will also examine whether that strategy has been a success. They are also set to rule on whether special headscarves can be worn during matches after pressure from some Muslim countries.

Gok Wan has signed up to host a new Channel Four dating show. The How To Look Good Naked presenter will front Baggage, an eight-part series set to be broadcast later this year. The show will see contestants choose potential romantic partners by revealing their secrets and personality traits, which are hidden in suitcases. Wan's appointment is said to be Channel Four's next step of making him a more general presenter, rather than just fronting fashion programmes. His most recent show saw him practising his culinary skills in Gok Cooks Chinese. Other new shows coming to Channel Four include The Anti-Social Network, a cross-platform comedy show that will use social media for hoaxes, and Hot or Hotter, a search for 'the hottest people' in UK towns across the country. Whether this means attractive or in terms of actual body temperature is, at the present time, unknown. Justin Gorman, head of entertainment at Channel Four, said: 'These new shows are a great example of how Channel Four entertainment can deliver really innovative and exciting formats. In addition to our commissions I'm very excited about the many new development ideas we are working on and look forward to announcing further commissions later this year.'

Yer actual Eddie Izzard has become the first English comic to perform a show to American audience entirely in French. On Sunday evening Eddie performed his show Stripped in Los Angeles – but it was the French version he presented for two months in Paris last year. The gig, which was followed by a work-in-progress show in English, comes ahead of his appearances at the Montreal Just For Laughs festival later this month. Afterwards, Eddie tweeted: 'Just finished the first ever French show in America [by] an Englishman (I'm pretty sure). It was fantastic and the audience were formidable.' Journalist Noam Friedlander was in the audience said: 'Just finished watching Eddie Izzard at Largo. In French. Wow. "Quod the fuck." Great job.' Spaced and Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright, was in the audience for the second show and posted: 'Just saw Eddie Izzard do a work in progress gig at Largo on La Cienega. Last saw him try out stuff at the Hen & Chickens on Highbury Corner.' Meanwhile, the sculpture recreating the final scene of The Italian Job which Izzard funded in his childhood home of Bexhill-on-Sea has been winched into place. He is the principle sponsor of Hang On A Minute Lads, I’ve Got A Great Idea…, which involves a full-sized replica coach balanced on the roof of the De La Warr Pavilion. The piece, from artist Richard Wilson and named after Michael Caine's final line in the classic 1969 film, will be on display until 1 October.

Sherlock star yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch has landed a cameo voiceover role in The Simpsons, the actor has revealed. Cumberbatch, who will star in next year's J J Abrams Star Trek sequel, apparently landed the part by accident after he had a meeting in the same place that the iconic US cartoon series is recorded. 'I heard there was a part going in an episode,' he told InStyle magazine. 'I said, "I hate to muscle in here guys but could I record it?" Next thing, I'm standing in a room with all those famous voices: Bart, Marge, Homer, Lisa.'

James Grout, the actor best known for playing Inspector Morse's boss Chief Superintendent Strange, has died in Wiltshire, aged eighty four. The RADA-trained actor appeared on stage, film, television and radio and received a Tony award nomination for his role as Harry Chitterlow in Half a Sixpence. The 1965 musical lead to a series of major West End roles. James, who had been ill for some time, died on Sunday. While he is probably best known for his role as Inspector Morse's boss on the eponymous long-running TV series with John Thaw, he also played prominent characters in other much-loved series, including Yes Minister, Rumpole of the Bailey, The Beiderbecke Affair, Juliet Bravo, Shelley and David Copperfield. Born in London, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, making his debut as Valentine in Twelfth Night at the Old Vic in 1950. Following his Tony Award nomination for his performance in Half a Sixpence on Broadway in 1965, Grout went on to play many major roles in productions in London's West End. In the 1980s, he took up residence at the Theatre Royal in Haymarket, playing opposite Peter O'Toole in Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman. He had brief stint at Richard Eyre's National Theatre in the mid-1990s in Charles MacArthur's Johnny On a Spot. James also appeared on BBC Radio, taking part in the King Street Junior series, as well as Old Harry's Game. He played Barliman Butterbur in the 1981 Radio 4 adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, as well as Rev Corswell in The Secret Life of Rosewood Avenue and a role in Any Other Business. In 1977, he and his wife Noreen moved from West London to Malmesbury in Wiltshire, where he wrote a much-loved column for the local newspaper, the Wiltshire Gazette.

Norman Felton, the British-born producer of US TV shows The Man From U.N.C.L.E and Dr Kildare has died aged ninety nine. According to trade newspaper, Variety, Felton died of natural causes in Santa Barbara on 25 June. He co-created the spy thriller with Sam Rolfe, after initially developing the idea with James Bond author Ian Fleming. In 1965, he won a Golden Globe for the show and received an Emmy nomination the following year. Born in London in 1913 to a lithographer and a cleaning lady, Felton's family emigrated to the United States in 1929 and settled in Ohio. He attended the University of Iowa, earning his bachelor's degree and a masters in Theatre Arts in 1941. Felton began his career in community theatre before moving to radio production and then TV production in 1950 - winning an Emmy for directing an episode of Robert Montgomery Presents. In 1964, the first episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E was screened - it broke television boundaries pairing an American spy, played by Robert Vaughn, with a Russian agent - Scottish actor David McCallum's Illya Kuryakin, at the height of the cold war. The show ran for more than one hundred episodes, until 1968 and spawned a spin-off (The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. with Stefanie Powers and Noel Harrison). Felton's other major TV success was medical drama Dr Kildare, which made a household name of Richard Chamberlain as the dashing young medic. Felton continued to work as a producer through the 1970s, working with a diverse range of talent including Sally Field, Leonard Nimoy, and Jimmy Stewart on the critically acclaimed legal drama Hawkins. In 1997, he was presented with an honourary membership of the Producers Guild of America. His wife, Aline, and a daughter preceded him in death. He is survived by a daughter and a son, two grandsons, a great-grandson and his companion Denise Aubuchon.

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day is another masterpiece from yer actual Kraftwerk.