Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Every Time, Just Like The Last On Her Ship Tied To The Mast

Matt Smith has praised Doctor Who guest-star Ben Browder. American actor Browder - best known for his roles in the cult SF series Farscape and Stargate SG-1 - will appear in a Western-themed Doctor Who episode as a cowboy. 'He's great in it,' Smith told Entertainment Weekly. 'He brings that sort of American naturalism which we Brits just don't have, however hard we try. He makes a good cowboy. He has that great drawl. And the wonderful Adrian Scarborough is in that [too], he just steals the whole episode. He's fantastic.' Browder's episode - titled A Town Called Mercy - is currently expected to be shown third in Doctor Who's forthcoming seventh series. 'We went out and shot in Almeria in Spain, where they shot The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars - all the Sergio Leone stuff,' Smudger said. 'You know, we've done Utah, we've done a great big Western, we've done New York. I think it's very exciting to see just where else it can go.' The actor claimed that each future Doctor Who episode resembles 'a big film-of-the-week.' He added: 'We've got dinosaurs on a spaceship. We've got a Western episode. We've got New York and Weeping Angels. And I think that's quite exciting. It's like going to the box office every week.'

Meanwhile, Matt has also said that he was has 'learnt to live' with comparisons to the other Doctor Who actors. No, no, no, no, no. This will not do. It's 'learned', Smudger, not 'learnt'. Jeez, do they teach these kids nothing at the Prydonian Academy these days? The actor - who is, just in case you've been asleep for the last forty nine years, the eleventh actor to play the iconic role - admits he struggles to think of himself amongst a list of actors including William Hartnell, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison and David Tennant and knows he can not be every fan's favourite inclination of the character. He said: 'It's par for the course, and something that you learn to live with and adapt to. People will have their favourites. For some people, it'll be Patrick [Troughton]. For some, Pertwee. For others, Tennant. For me, to even be mentioned on that list, that's enough of a thing - when you think about it, eleven actors!' However, the twenty nine year old admits he did accept himself as the character very early on into the casting. He added to Doctor Who magazine: 'When did I accept myself? I had to do it very early on. Even in moments of self-doubt, you have to stick to your instincts and be convinced about them. There is no other way, you've got to have faith in your ability.'

Police investigating alleged privacy breaches related to the phone-hacking inquiry have arrested a man on suspicion of handling stolen goods. The fifty one-year-old - a journalist according to reports - was arrested on Monday after attending a central London police station by appointment. He was arrested by officers from Operation Tuleta, which is probing allegations of computer hacking. The arrest relates to a suspected conspiracy involving the gathering of data from stolen mobile phones. It is the eighth arrest in Operation Tuleta, and comes less than a fortnight after a Sun journalist was arrested by the same investigation. The investigation is running alongside Operation Weeting, into phone-hacking, and Operation Elveden, which is looking at corrupt payments by journalists to public officials.

Rebecca Adlington's bronze medal in the women's four hundred metres freestyle final was watched by nearly eleven million overnight viewers, the biggest audience for the 2012 Olympics so far outside the massive audience garnered by the opening ceremony. Adlington's race had a peak audience of 10.14 million viewers on BBC1 at 8.25pm on Sunday, rising to 10.7 million when viewers to one of the BBC's twenty four digital Olympics channels, BBC Olympics Six, were included. The whole of BBC1's Olympics 2012 evening programme, which featured the Adlington final, averaged 7.2 million viewers between 7pm and 10pm. Earlier, more than seven million viewers saw Lizzie Armitstead win Britain's first medal of the games. The exciting climax to the women's cycling road race had 6.8 million viewers on BBC1 and another eight hundred thousand on BBC Olympics Three, giving it a total audience of 7.6 million at 3.35pm. The whole of BBC1's afternoon Olympics programme averaged 4.69 million viewers between 1.15pm and 5pm. Britain's 3-1 win over United Arab Emirates in the men's football - which yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self was watching - also proved a ratings winner for BBC3. The match peaked with 3.2 million viewers at 9.30pm, with another five hundred thousand on the BBC HD channel and eight hundred thousand on BBC Olympics Two, giving it a total audience of 4.5 million. BBC3's four-hour evening Olympics programme, which also included Great Britain's basketball defeat by Russia, averaged 1.4 million viewers between 7pm and 11pm. In another predictably strong performance by BBC1, which is showing blanket coverage of the London games apart from its news bulletins, the channel had a twenty eight per cent share of the audience across the whole of Sunday. BBC3, which is also showing wall-to-wall Olympics, had a 6.1 per cent share, for the second day running putting it only narrowly behind ITV (6.8 per cent). ITV1's top-rating programme was London Zoo documentary The Zoo, which had 2.52 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm. It was followed by a repeat of David Jason drama A Touch of Frost, watched by 2.09 million viewers between 9pm and 11pm. Channel Four looked to tackle the Olympics appeal with a documentary about erotic phenomenon, First Shades of Grey. The network seemed to hit the G-spot with Sex Story: First Shades of Grey, watched by 2.16 million viewers between 10pm and 11pm. BBC2 threw a new series into the mix with The Dark: Nature's Nighttime World, visiting the jungle of Costa Rica after the sun has set. It began a three-part run with a more than respectable 1.79 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm. Earlier, BBC1's highlights of the Formula 1 Grand Prix from Hungary had 3.64 million viewers between 5pm and 6.30pm.

Meanwhile, still no the subject of ratings, here's the Top Twenty consolidated figures for week ending 22 July 2012:-
1 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.14m
2 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.25m
3 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 7.17m
4 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.21m
5 Countryfile - Sun BBc1 - 5.14m
6 Wallander - Sun BBC1 - 5.01m
7 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 4.80m
8 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.66m
9 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.62m
10 DIY: SOS The Big Build - Wed BBC1 - 4.45m
11 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.35m
12 The National Lottery: Secret Fortune - Sat BBC1 - 4.28m
13 Mrs Brown's Boys - Sat BBC1 - 4.28m
14 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.26m
15 Line Of Duty - Tues BBC2/BBC HD - 4.24m
16 Film: Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade - Sat BBC1 - 4.21m
17 Britain's Secret Treasures - ITV Fri - 3.87m*
18= Crimewatch - Tues BBC1 - 3.78m
18= Twatting About On Ice Goes Gold - ITV Sun - 3.78m*
20 Turn Back Time: The Family - BBC1 Tues - 3.70m
As usual, those ITV showed marked '*' do not include ITV HD figures.

Benedict Cumberbatch has broken his silence on the upcoming CBS series Elementary. The US network will soon premiere its modern retelling of Sherlock Holmes, set in New York and starring Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson. The concept is very similar - very similar - to the BBC's acclaimed modern version of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, Sherlock, starring Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Cumberbatch stated that he would be concerned that the show's dynamic would be different from his series due to the lack of a male Watson. 'If I were the [producer], I'd be frightened of the dynamic of male friendship that you'd lose,' he told TVLine. 'Because that is obviously the bedrock of the books as well. [Now] there might be sexual tension between Joan and Sherlock, which is [a different dynamic than you'd have] between the two men. So, that's a new thing to explore.' However, the actor said that he has no ill-feeling towards the new show, and that he wishes his friend Jonny Lee Miller good luck. 'I really do. I think it will be great. It will be a different spin on it, because obviously, theirs is modern-day as well, so it needs to be different from ours, and I think the more differences, the better, to be honest. I don't see why they shouldn't co-exist with us,' he added. 'I don't think they'll steal our audience. I think people who are Holmes fans who think they do a good job of it will have a treat in watching ours and the films. So I wish them good luck!'

Danny O'Donoghue has, reportedly, confirmed that Jessie J is not returning to The Voice for series two. Speculation has been mounting over the singer's future involvement with the show since May, with a tabloid report last week claiming that she was definitely not being asked back. O'Donoghue is quoted by the People as saying: 'I'm really sad she's not coming back - we have a great friendship.' Defending his coaching partner, The Script singer added: 'She wasn't a diva at all - I have never seen her throw tantrums. Jessie is incredibly articulate and she's headstrong. That sometimes can be misconstrued as being too arrogant. But she's a brilliant role model for young women.' Sir Tom Jones recently revealed that he was in talks with the BBC about renewing his contract, but stated that he would only do so once he knew the identities of the three other coaches. There have been no official confirmations so far, but O'Donoghue and will.i.am are both expected to retain their places on the panel.

Alan Davies had no expectations for Qi being successful when it began. The comedian is a regular panelist on the comedy quiz show - hosted by Stephen Fry - and admits that he is often bemused as to why it is a cult hit. He said: ' don't think any of us had any expectations for it. In effect, it's a bunch of people talking about very obscure stuff all presided over by a ridiculously clever man who makes fun of us ... But it seems to work.' Alan added that he loves working on the show because it makes him laugh so much, but that he and the rest of the panelists once forced filming to be stopped because they couldn't compose themselves. Speaking to Reader's Digest magazine he said: 'My favourite shows are the ones where I end up laughing even more than the audience. There was one where Julian Clary was telling a story about needing the loo when he met the queen.' Alan also told the magazine: 'Around the time that Jonathan Creek started [1997], I seemed to be everywhere. All of a sudden, I was being recognised. About ninety nine per cent of people were lovely, but there was always that one per cent who wanted to give you some shit. Keith Richards once said, "Everybody wants to be famous, until they are." He's right. I wanted to be able to turn fame on and off when it suited me, but it doesn't work like that.' He added: 'I think it's even worse today. I recently Googled myself and was amazed at how much vitriol and anger was being directed at me, just because I was on telly. I've never Googled myself since, and I never will.'

No matter how grateful he is for the support, Bill Bailey thinks the online petition to get him a part in The Hobbit might have worked against him. Back in 2007, fans started campaigning to get the comedian and actor a role in Sir Peter Jackson's movie, eventually gaining almost fifteen hundred signatures. When he was last in New Zealand in 2010, Bailey even auditioned for a role. But sadly, it came to nothing and the man who once called his stand-up tour Part Troll will not be appearing in Jackson's latest epic. Bill isn't bitter. 'You hand the director a load of signatures, it would probably wind him up eventually,' he notes. '"Oh God, I just want a resume. I don't want all of these signatures, cluttering up the desk." But I think I'm going to try to write a musical based on The Hobbit. That's the way to go.' Bill is certainly qualified for the job. A classically trained musician, he is a man of supreme talent who always incorporates many songs and compositions into his stand-up shows. In fact, his musical prowess led to a headlining spot on the main stage at the Sonisphere heavy metal festival last year, playing to a crowd of about sixty five thousand long-haired stinking hippies. 'I actually got a band together, and they were all very good musicians and we sort of rehearsed a bit before the show and I basically wrote a couple of new songs, and we did arrangements of my songs in the metal style,' Bill says. 'It was daunting, I have to say. That number of people, and particularly metal fans, all the other bands that were on - Slayer, Metallica and Anthrax, and me. Metal fans are brilliant. They're so enthusiastic and they were really up for it and they completely embraced it. It was quite a tough evening really because it was raining, it was cold, a lot of people were standing about but nonetheless it was a blast. I'd love to do something like that again. It was quite extraordinary.' A CD of the music Bailey played at Sonisphere, Bill Bailey in Metal, was released in November. Bill is returning to New Zealand in October with his latest comedy tour, Qualmpeddler, which will feature his usual blend of 'musical mash-ups, twisted logic, some political ranting, brilliant visuals and animation, a clear-eyed yet surreal view of the modern world, plus some new explorations of language inspired by a trip to China, where Bailey's experiences were stranger than surreal,' according to the promotional material. Intriguingly, it could also feature a dubstep version of Downton Abbey and Bill discussing whether a Spice Girls reunion is part of the Mayan 'end of days' prophecy. 'It's the usual multi-media kind of spectacle, as it were, because I love to use screens and films and visuals in the show because I just think it's another element,' Bailey says. 'I like to mix up the comedy, the way the comedy is presented, so it gives the show a bit of light and shade.' Bill claims a show takes, on average, two years to develop from initial concept to being ready to perform and right now he's still fine-tuning Qualmpeddler, which he will tour first in Australia. 'When I get to New Zealand of course it will be absolutely polished. Like a fine pebble. Like a piece of quartz.' Despite not casting him in any of their movies, Bailey says he loves the country, especially as he and his family - wife Kristin and nine-year-old son Dax - enjoy exploring the great outdoors. 'If I'm away we'll go and try to do something like rafting or we like to go biking, quad biking, walking, hiking, that sort of thing, a bit of bird watching occasionally if I get the chance. So, outdoorsy stuff, I think because most of my professional life I'm indoors.' There hasn't been much time to enjoy the outdoors in Britain so far this year, with the country suffering from a disappointing summer. 'It has been pretty abysmal really and even by good English summer standards. Freezing cold rain and wind is what we've been having,' Bill adds. 'Rather put the dampeners on the Queen's diamond jubilee floating flotilla pageant, which was a damp affair.' He was actually out of the country during last month's jubilee celebrations, but he says he caught some of it on TV. 'There was a lot of footage of boats sort of aimlessly pootling around in the Thames. There was this huge parade and a pageant and a concert with Elton John and Grace Jones and lord knows who else and [the Queen] didn't do anything. She didn't say thanks, or "I could have done without Cheryl Cole but the rest of it was okay." She said nothing!' It turns out, though, that Bill has met quite a large proportion of the Royal Family, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. 'William and Kate came to my show actually, and we sort of smuggled them in to the stage door and they were lovely. Really pleasant, charming, down-to-earth people.' But with the ongoing global financial crisis and political instability, Bill admits to sometimes feeling gloomy about the world's future. 'Europe is coming apart at the seams and it makes you think whether this was always going to happen, whether it was on the cards and has been for a long time. We're in a crisis but I think there's also a bit of chicanery with governments trying to make a bit of capital out of it. You say to everyone, "Oh, things are bad" and then you bung through a load of strict legislation while everyone is just terrified,' he says. 'So yeah, it's a time of reflection, I think, and a time of qualms. A time to peddle some qualms.'

Vexed newcomer Miranda Raison has insisted that she will be a 'completely different' influence on the show to her predecessor Lucy Punch. The former [spooks] actress will play Georgina Dixon, partner of Toby Stephens's Jack Armstrong, in the BBC comedy drama's second series. She was brought in when Punch quit her role as Kate Bishop after the first series of Vexed, which was broadcast during 2010. Speaking to the Digital Spy website about her experiences on Vexed, Miranda recalled: 'When I arrived the producer said to me "rather than thinking in terms of the old character, it is a completely different and new character." [Lucy] was absolutely brilliant. Lucy's bloody good, she's an amazingly natural comedienne. But [Georgina's] all brand new. I think what her and Jack have in common is that they both think they're really straightforward and they want to have successful relationships with people, but actually they self-sabotage all the time. That's a big difference between Lucy's character in the first series and Georgina. [Kate] was someone that had a life, whereas Georgina doesn't. She's quite sad. She's old enough that she should be further along in her personal life - not that she should try and be more conventional, just that she should be a bit more emotionally mature.' Raison went on to describe her Vexed alter ego as verging on 'being completely unhinged' and teased that Georgina will have a 'very different relationship' with Jack to Punch's character. 'There is definitely chemistry there,' she stated. 'It's not a Ross and Rachel [from Friends] where there's a great confession of love, but there's certainly quite strong chemistry. Georgina thinks she wants this conventional perfect man and Jack seems below the measure all along, but what she really wants is someone who is going to sit and watch football, because she is not cut out to be the other half in one of those relationships.'

During the Olympics most countries will have 'national hospitality houses' in London to entertain athletes, VIPs and patriotic fans. The Brazilian house is situated in the historic Somerset House, the African countries are using the verdant spaces of Kensington Gardens, the Danish are taking over St Katherine’s Dock and the Belgians will be using the eleventh-century buildings of Inner Temple. The Irish house will be in a Father Ted-themed pub in King's Cross. The idea of the houses is to provide a place for fans to congregate to cheer on their country's team (with sporting action streamed live on giant TV sets) and for countries to assert their national identity through a series of events and concerts. Dara O Briain and Ardal O'Hanlon have been named 'ambassadors' for the Irish house which will be situated at the Big Chill bar on London's Pentonville Road – just across the road from King's Cross station which has direct transport links to the Olympic Park. And, a pub yer actual Keith Telly O'Topping, beggorah, bejesus, where's me shillelagh, knows very well indeed. Open every day from 10am until 2am, the Irish house will feature appearances from Dara and Ardel, Sonia O’Sullivan, Barry McGuigan and a host of Irish athletes competing at the Games. Live music and entertainment will also be provided with a roof terrace doubling as a barbecue area. Bands lined up to play at the house include the fast-rising Dublin hip-hop act The Original Rude Boys.

A little classic, now, from the Indepedent's errors and omissions column: 'Extra care is required when one of our writers makes fun of someone for getting things wrong. On Monday, we mocked Jeremy Clarkson's grasp of averages. "The average adult sends two hundred texts a month," the sage of the Sun had written. "Plainly, they never spoke to my eldest daughter about this." Our columnist explained: "If your eldest daughter sends nineteen hundred texts per month while nine non-relatives each send just one hundred, the average is not nineteen hundred but two hundred." Except that it is not. As Laura Newton, a reader, pointed out, if they "each" send one hundred that makes nine hundred, plus nineteen hundred, which is two thousand eight hundred. So the average is two hundred and eighty. The point is awarded to Clarkson.' Could you say that any more grudgingly? Clarkson One, Up-Their-Own-Arse Middle-Class Hippy Communists, Nil.

Three members of the female Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot have gone on trial, in a case which has divided Russia and inflamed the religious establishment. They were taken into custody in February after singing a song protesting against President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral. I dunno - in this country you do something like that and thirty years later you're doing butter adverts. It's not right, dear blog reader. Anyway, the song outraged the Russian Orthodox Church who accused the women of blasphemy. Supporters say the case reflects the state's growing intolerance of government opponents. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich caused outrage when they sang a song that implored the Virgin Mary to 'throw Putin out.' The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, has said the performance, which took place at the altar of Christ the Saviour Cathedral, amounted to blasphemy. The women are facing the charge of 'hooliganism' motivated by 'religious hatred or hostility' and could face up to seven years in prison. Pussy Riot made headlines around the world late last year when footage of their controversial public performances at Moscow landmarks such as Red Square attracted millions of viewers on the Internet. More than one hundred prominent Russian actors, directors and musicians have urged the authorities to release the three. Western musicians such as Sting and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have also criticised the women's arrest. Mind you, if Sting thinks it's a bad thing then, in an 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' kind of way, I'm almost inclined to back The Butcher of Grozny on this one. I mean, let's face it, on the one side you've got Putin whose worst crime is thoroughly sick criminal genocide against Chechens. On the other, there's Wallsend's nastiest, whose crimes against humanity (and music) are far more vile and nefarious. Sorry girls, normally I'd sympathise but Sting's swung it for me. Anyway, activists have said the case indicates that President Putin, now serving a third term in office, is not heeding calls for him to be more tolerant of political opponents.

Great Britain beat the United Arab Emirates 3-1 at Wembley to ensure a draw against Uruguay in their final group game will take them through to the quarter-finals of the Olympic football tournament. Skipper Ryan Giggs headed the opener and Tom Cleverley hit both posts as Britain led at the break. Rashed Eisa equalised with a composed finish in front of an increasingly anxious Wembley crowd, but substitute Scott Sinclair struck a minute after coming on and Daniel Sturridge's deft chip sealed the win. It was a far from comfortable match for Stuart Pearce's team and there were times after UAE's second-half equaliser when the occasional boo could be heard inside the stadium. The mood changed completely when Britain struck twice in three minutes but there is still room for improvement when they play Uruguay in Cardiff on Wednesday. Uruguay, one of the pre-tournament favourites, were stunned 2-0 by ten-man Senegal at Wembley earlier in the day. Moussa Konate scored twice for the African side, who had to play for more than an hour with ten men after the dismissal of Aboulaye Ba following a professional foul on Luis Suarez. Senegal, like Britain, now have four points and take on a UAE side who have lost both of their Group A games. Uruguay have three points to Britain's four, which means that a draw will be enough for Pearce's team to reach the last eight. There was little to excite the crowd in the opening phase of Sunday's game, with fans starting a Mexican wave as early as the fifth minute. But home supporters were given something to cheer when Britain's Welsh connection struck. Giggs had started the move from which Craig Bellamy scored against Senegal last Thursday, but it was the latter who assumed the role of creator on Sunday, delivering a deep cross that Giggs headed home. At thirty eight years and two hundred and forty three days, Ryan Giggs became the oldest man to appear in the Olympic soccer competition and he is now also the oldest scorer, thanks to his rare headed goal. Aaron Ramsey, one of three changes along with striker Marvin Sordell and James Tomkins, was impressive on the right and started a move that culminated in a shot from Bellamy that Ali Khaseif saved. Ramsey also picked out Sordell but the Bolton striker's shot from eighteen yards took a slight deflection before the keeper tipped it around the post for a corner. There were large periods in the opening forty five minutes when UAE looked threatening and it took a good block to deny Eisa, while Ahmed Khalil later surged past right-back Micah Richards before delivering a low pass across the face of goal. The game could have taken a decisive turn before the break but midfielder Cleverley was extremely unfortunate to see his eighteen-yard shot hit both posts before rebounding to safety after superb work by Bellamy. UAE levelled after the break when Eisa collected a through ball and glided past Tomkins before slotting his effort beyond Jack Butland. There was a sense of some panic inside the ground and Butland was forced to make a great save with his legs to deny Khalil after a quick exchange of passes opened up the Britain defence. But the impressive Bellamy crossed for Sinclair to level before Cleverley played a brilliant pass for Sturridge, who struck the decisive third.

Unless you've had a telegram from the Queen in the last few years you will never have witnessed a British medal in the men's team gymnastics at an Olympics. Until Monday of this week when the British team took a surprise - but very deserved - bronze after a dramatic battle at the North Greenwich Arena. Louis Smith, Daniel Purvis, Kristian Thomas, Max Whitlock and Sam Oldham overhauled Ukraine and Japan in the final floor exercise to make history and were first announced as having won a silver. But some whinging from the Japanese led to a lengthy delay, before it was announced that they had been moved up from fourth to second and that Britain had, in fact, won a bronze, the same medal they won at the Olympics in this event in 1912. China took gold. So, that put a smile on everyone's face. Once again, Britain has more medals than Kazakhstan. Marvellous.
There's a very good thinkpiece by Al Murray in the Gruniad concerning the recently concluded Paul Chambers Twitter case. Al writes: 'It was a case that has felt like an absurdist operetta about English law. At the appeal it seemed that at any moment Stephen Fry would stand up to proclaim: "Are we not Englishmen? Is it not our right to make jokes?" and then Paul would be carried shoulder high into the street. But the limits of the state's right to proscribe what we can and can't say have been clearly outlined – as well as reconciling itself to the Twitter stream as a new context and how the law has to respond to it. What Paul's victory doesn't mean, as I've had to explain more than once, is that anyone sending actually menacing messages will be able to say, "well, he got off". It also doesn't mean that – a comparison some have made – if you're in a queue at the airport and say you've got a bomb in your bag, you'll get away with it. Because he didn't do that. It means that discretion in wielding the law, a precisely blunt instrument, has to be on the agenda when dealing with electronic media. The response from some has been: "You should watch what you say" – a retort that, for me, contains far more menace than any tweet I've ever seen.' Well said that man. What energised campaigners in this case was, clearly, a sense that the law was being badly served by an apparent inability to distinguish between a joke (however much in poor taste) and a credible threat to injure persons and/or property.

There were teething troubles last week for the BBC's Olympics news studio in a tower block, with Ben Brown calling it 'definitely as hot as the Middle East,' Fiona Bruce, variously described as sounding as if she was 'in a goldfish bowl' or 'on a building site,' and George Alagiah forced to grimly intone top stories of catastrophic GDP figures and massacre imminent in Syria with the lit-up stadium as his incongruously festive backdrop.

Channel Four's Shane Allen is tipped by Broadcast magazine to win the vacant post of BBC comedy controller, and if he does defect the forthright, Frankie Boyle-championing Ulsterman will conduct a ruthless shake-up, judging by his past interview blasts at the Beeb for timidity, commissioning too much and being too nice to say no. But perhaps its existing executives are tougher and blunter than he thinks. Jessica Hynes recently revealed in Stylist why her pilot with Julia Davis, Lizzie and Sarah, won't become a series: 'The BBC told us it wasn't funny.' And, having seen it, this blogger agrees with the BBC. I like Jess and I like Julia but Lizzie and Sarah was about as funny as an afternoon at the genital torturers.

Switzerland football Michel Morganella has been expelled from the Olympics for posting a racist message on Twitter. The Swiss Olympic team chief, Gian Gilli, said that Morganella is being 'stripped of his Olympic accreditation' ahead of Switzerland's final group match against Mexico on Wednesday. He 'discriminated against, insulted and violated the dignity of the South Korea football team as well as the South Korean people,' Gilli said through a translator. Morganella posted an offensive and threatening message aimed at South Korean people after Switzerland lost 2-1 to South Korea on Sunday. The Swiss newspaper Le Matin published images of a tweet from the player's account. The account has since been deleted. The twenty three-year-old defender is the second Olympic athlete kicked off a team for offensive Twitter comments. Greece dropped the triple jumper Voula Papachristou last week after she posted a comment mocking African immigrants.

The Scum have signed a new deal to have its shirts sponsored by US car brand Chevrolet. The deal for an 'undisclosed amount' is for seven years and begins from the 2014-2015 season, the club said. Chevrolet, which is made by General Motors, takes over from current sponsor Aon. The Scum was recently called the most valuable club in sport, worth $2.23bn, according to Forbes magazine. Chevrolet is only the fifth shirt sponsor in the club's history. 'This is a fantastic, long-term deal for the club,' said The Scum's commercial director Richard Arnold. 'They are a key partner on our current tour and I know they have enjoyed experiencing the buzz generated by our fanatical support and the sell-out crowds in South Africa, China, and Europe.' Earlier this month The Scum applied to list on the US stock market in a share sale aimed at raising a minimum one hundred million dollars. The club has been controlled since 2005 by the Glazer family, the billionaire US sports investors who also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers American football franchise.

Images taken by a NASA spacecraft show that the American flags planted in the Moon's soil by Apollo astronauts are mostly still standing. The photos from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show the flags are still casting shadows - except the one planted during the Apollo 11 landing. This matches Buzz Aldrin's account of the flag being knocked over by engine exhaust as Apollo 11's lunar lander lifted off. LRO was designed to produce the most detailed maps yet of the lunar surface. Each of the Apollo missions planted an American flag in the soil at their landing sites. Scientists had previously examined photos of the Apollo landing sites for the flags, and had seen what looked like shadows cast by them on the lunar surface. But this was not considered conclusive. Now, researchers have studied photos of the landing sites taken at different points during the day (and under different illuminations) and have observed shadows circling the points where the flags are thought to be. Which, if nothing else, will hopefully put pay to any of those ludicrous bollocks conspiracy theories that the whole thing was mocked up in a TV studio. Professor Mark Robinson, the chief scientist for the spacecraft's camera instrument, LROC, said in a blog entry: 'From the LROC images it is now certain that the American flags are still standing and casting shadows at all of the sites, except Apollo 11.' The Arizona State University scientist added: 'The most convincing way to see that the flags are still there, is to view a time series of LROC images taken at different times of day, and watch the shadow circle the flag. Personally I was a bit surprised that the flags survived the harsh ultraviolet light and temperatures of the lunar surface, but they did. What they look like is another question (badly faded?)' LRO began its mission in lunar orbit in September 2009, to identify mineral and other resources on the Moon as well as scout promising landing sites for future missions.

Saturn's moon Iapetus frequently plays host to a huge type of landslide or avalanche that is rare elsewhere in the Solar System, scientists report. Sturzstroms or 'long-runout landslides' move faster and farther than geological models predict they should. They have been seen on Earth and Mars, but there is debate about their causes. Now, images from the Cassini space mission, reported in Nature Geoscience, suggest that heating of icy surfaces helps the landslides keep going. On Earth, landslides typically travel a horizontal distance that is less than twice the distance that the material has fallen. Long-runout landslides, by contrast, can travel as much as thirty times the vertical falling distance. A great many mechanisms have been proposed to explain this phenomenon, ranging from simple sliding on ice to the sound waves from the slide making rock and debris behave more like a fluid. But there is little consensus on which of these theories, if any, is correct. Now, Kelsi Singer of Washington University in St Louis, US, and colleagues report that the geography of Iapetus is a unique setting to test these theories. The moon was discovered by Giovanni Cassini in 1671. 'The landslides on Iapetus are a planet-scale experiment that we cannot do in a laboratory or observe on Earth,' Singer said. 'They give us examples of giant landslides in ice, instead of rock, with a different gravity, and no atmosphere. So any theory of long-runout landslides on Earth must also work for avalanches on Iapetus.' Iapetus is a geologically interesting place to look; it is a squashed sphere, fatter at its equator than its poles, and is mostly encircled by a ridge that reaches peaks some twenty kilometres high. It also has a number of giant impact craters reaching depths of twenty five kilometres. The icy satellite has more giant landslides than any Solar System body other than Mars. The reason, says Professor William McKinnon, also from Washington University, is Iapetus' spectacular topography. 'Not only is the moon out-of-round, but the giant impact basins are very deep, and there's this great mountain ridge that's twenty kilometres high, far higher than Mount Everest,' he explained. 'So there's a lot of topography and it's just sitting around, and then, from time to time, it gives way.' Singer was looking for stress fractures in the moon's ice, but instead found evidence of thirty massive landslides - seventeen along crater walls and thirteen along the giant equatorial ridge. Analysis of the images from these events suggests that the 'coefficient of friction' - a measure of how much the slip-sliding of material in a landslide tends to slow it down - on Iapetus is far lower than expected for ice. It appears that this faster-moving ice seen on Iapetus has a lower friction coefficient than that of slow-moving ice measured in Earth-bound laboratories. The team suggests that the tiny contact points between bits of ice debris in such a landslide may heat up considerably, melting it and forming a more fluid - and thus less friction-limited - mass of material. They suggest that physicists here on Earth test the idea in the laboratory, giving insight not only into what is happening on Iapetus, but closer to home as well.

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day could be taken to be about winning at the Olympics, dear blog reader. But, actually, it isn't, it's about heroin.