Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lucy Lawless Nude!

A quick reassurance to all dear blog readers, today's title hasn't, actually, got anything to do with anything, least of all the lovely Ms Lawless her very self - a fine actress, either clothed or, indeed, unclothed. It's just that a surprisingly large number of hits recently on From The North appear to have come via Google searches (mostly from the Central Europe and Middle East regions) using the search words 'Lucy Lawless' and 'Nude.' Quite why they've ended up here, of all places, this blogger has absolutely no idea. But, since we're getting a few visits from those in search of Lucy's luscious, shapely figure, yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought he might as well go the whole hog and title a page as that very thing and see how many hits he gets as a consequence. Quite a fair number, I'm guessing. You never know, if that works, tomorrow's bloggerisationisms might well be entitled Charisma Carpenter's bum. Stranger things have happened, dear blog reader. That horse becoming pope, for one. Anyway ...
Yes, yes, very clever. Next ...
As noted in yesterday's late-edition blog, police investigating corrupt payments to officials arrested - in dawn raids - two journalists as part of Operation Elveden. Sunday Mirra crime reporter Justin Penrose and Tom Savage, deputy news editor of the Daily Lies Sunday, were questioned on suspicion of conspiracy to corrupt and conspiracy to cause misconduct in a public office. The men were later released on bail. The newspapers' owners - Trinity Mirra and Express Newspapers, owned by soft-core pornographer Richard Desmond - said that they were 'co-operating with authorities.' Trinity Mirra also said that officers searching Penrose's desk had taken away 'various items,' including his computer. The Metropolitan Police's Operation Elveden was set up to investigate alleged inappropriate payments to police and public officials by journalists. And general naughtiness. A spokesman for the Met said that the arrests related 'to suspected payments to a public official and are not about seeking journalists to reveal confidential sources in relation to information that has been obtained legitimately. A thirty seven-year-old man was arrested at his home in Kent, and a thirty four-year-old man at his home in South-East London at approximately 06:00 this morning on suspicion of conspiracy to corrupt (contrary to the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906) and of conspiracy to cause misconduct in a public office (contrary to common law).' Penrose has worked for the Sunday Mirra since 2004, becoming crime correspondent in 2006. In previous written evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, Penrose claimed that his newspaper 'never' paid police for stories. Penrose is not the only journalist connected to the Mirra group to be questioned recently by Operation Elveden police. On 4 July, former Daily Mirra journalist Greig Box-Turnbull, thirty seven, who worked for the newspaper until March, was one of three people arrested by officers investigating corrupt payments. A prison officer and a fifty-year-old woman were also held. Some forty one people have been arrested as part of Operation Elveden, being run in conjunction with Operation Weeting, which is looking into phone-hacking and various other related nefarious skulduggery, shenanigans and malarkey of a terrible nature. Thirty-four journalists, former journalists and newspaper executives have been formally arrested as part of the phone-hacking, corrupt payments and computer misuse investigations. Two have been released without further action. Twenty-nine are currently on police bail awaiting news of their fate.

Quote of the day, dear blog reader, came from the unlikely source of yer actual Ed Milimolimandi when getting onto the subject of News International. Speaking at a House of Commons press gallery lunch, the Labour leader quipped: 'There are no hard feelings between me and News International. They want me to lose, I want them in jail.' Heh. That's actually very good, Ed. Maybe there's hope for you yet.

So-called 'kiss and tell' stories have virtually disappeared since the Leveson inquiry into press ethics was launched last July, according to testimony from Professor Roy Greenslade. But Greenslade, a media commentator and columnist for the Gruniad Morning Star, says the lack of sensational stories is not a sign that the inquiry has had a 'chilling effect' on the freedom of the press as suggested by rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Michael Gove. Greenslade suggested that the dwindling amount of such fare is 'a practical response' by editors to the threat of statutory regulation which currently hangs over the industry. Ashley Cole, John Terry and Ryan Giggs were among the many footballers whose affairs were exposed by tabloids, including the now-defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, in the two years running up to the inquiry – but Greenslade argued that no scandals of a similar scale have been broken since. 'When we talk about this particular clause [public interest] it is impossible not to notice that kiss and tell stories have virtually disappeared from tabloid newspapers,' Greenslade told the Leveson inquiry on Thursday. 'So beneficial effects of the launching of this inquiry of editors having second thoughts following the phone-hacking saga have already had a terrifically positive effect.' Lord Justice Leveson put it to him that this could be seen - by those with a sick agenda, like rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Michael Gove - as 'proof' of a 'chilling effect' of the inquiry. But, Greenslade argued it was editors playing politics. 'The freedom to expose footballers doesn't seem the banner to raise press freedom on,' he told the inquiry. Greenslade, who has been a media commentator since 1992 and writes for publications including the Evening Standard, put a novel proposal for regulation to Leveson during his testimony. He said newspapers should be threatened with a ban from the bodies that officially certify their circulation and readership if they refused to sign up to a revamped press regulatory system. Greenslade said that removing newspapers from the Audit Bureau of Circulations and the National Readership Surveys would hit newspapers where it really hurt, because these were the 'currencies' they used to sell advertising. 'If one of their members is not part of the regulation – you are out of the ABC, you are not audited and similar with the National Readership Survey,' said Greenslade. Newspapers track their own sales on a daily basis, but it is the monthly officially audits conducted by ABC that identify sales of full-price copies, discounted pricing and giveaways. All newspapers belong to ABC including free papers such as Metro and City AM because the figures are a vital for advertising sales. Greenslade said he had discussed this idea with Lord Black, chairman of the Press Standards Finance Board, who is co-ordinating the industry's behind-the-scenes plan for future regulation. 'I am told in discussion with Lord Black, he said this one couldn't run, but with great respect I don't think it's been explored sufficiently,' he said. 'It seems to me it's better than fines.'

The BBC World Service has broadcast from Bush House in Central London for the last time. The final news bulletin was read at noon from the building that has been the broadcaster's home for more than seventy years. It included a special dispatch recorded by the BBC's outgoing director general, Mark Thompson. The service, which has programmes in twenty eight languages, is moving to another London building with the rest of BBC News. The BBC's foreign language broadcasting service began in 1938 from Broadcasting House in Portland Place. After the building was bombed during the Second World War, the service re-located to Bush House in 1941. It will now return back to Broadcasting House, which has recently completed a major extension. Described by the BBC as a 'quintessentially British building,' Bush House was originally commissioned as a symbol of Anglo-American trade. When it opened in 1925, it was considered the most expensive building the world, with a cost estimated at two million smackers. From its location on The Strand, it has been the location of numerous historic moments. King George V addressed the Empire from the building in 1932, while General Charles de Gaulle used the facilities to send daily support messages to the Free French movement after France fell to the Nazis in 1940. However, the BBC has never owned Bush House and when its lease expires at the end of this year, it will return to its current Japanese owner.

BBC Internet services suffered a number of glitches with parts of the main website becoming unavailable for a time on Wednesday evening. The BBC's iPlayer catch-up service also went offline, while a section highlighting the most popular stories of the day featured old items. It is not clear at the present time whether the problems were related and engineers said that they were 'still investigating' the cause. The disruption followed a similar hour-long outage in March 2011. The latest failure caused the site's contents to become inaccessible shortly after 20:00 on Wednesday. Although sections of the site, such as were back online quite quickly, attempts to access the BBC's front page still proved problematic over the following hour or two. A statement from the BBC said: 'Due to a major technical issue, BBC Online was temporarily down on Wednesday evening. Service was restored to most users within an hour. We are working on full restoration as quickly as possible, and are investigating the causes of the outage.' At the same time the Most Popular section continued to show a mix of both new stories and items dating from 11 June including Apple ditches Google Maps in iOS6 and Camerons left daughter at pub. Though, let's face it, the latter is always worth reading. In an earlier tweet the BBC News website's editor, Steve Herrmann, had acknowledged the issue: 'Working to fix issue of old stories showing in Most Read list. We're sorry and hope to fix soon.'

An out-of-government Malcolm Tucker and the hapless Nicola Murray MP are set to return to BBC2 for a fourth series of The Thick of It – the first since 2009 – with the corporation confirming it will be a case of art imitating life to reflect real-life changes in Westminster in the interim. 'This series takes The Thick of It into exciting and uncharted territory: a new coalition government, and Malcolm and Nicola fretting in the wings,' said Armando Iannucci, who dropped his second hint in as many months that the characters will have to contend with a Leveson-style public inquiry. 'For the first time too a storyline takes us all the way through the series right to the bitter, bitter end, with government and opposition convulsed in an incident that questions every political convention imaginable, but in a funny way,' the writer added. Last month he told an audience of journalists at a private screening of Sky Atlantic's Veep, his new US vice presidential comedy, that the Leveson inquiry into press standards provided 'prime material' for lampooning. 'It is interesting watching them all swear on oath and then saying what they say,' he noted at the time. 'Tony Blair was giving – for want of a better word – his evidence.' Janice Hadlow, the controller of BBC2, said that the new seven-part series was an 'essential' part of the channel's comedy offering this year. Iannucci directs the penultimate thirty-minute episode in the series. Rebecca Front and Peter Capaldi will return, as will Roger Allam as Peter Mannion MP, the new secretary of state for the department of social affairs and citizenship. Vincent Franklin plays Number 10's director of communications Stewart Pearson, while Geoffrey Streatfield will play new coalition partner Fergus Williams MP, the junior minister at DOSCA. 'I'm excited to see The Thick of It return to our screens,' said Mark Freeland, head of comedy at the BBC. 'With an outstanding cast and team, it is still at the bleeding edge of British politics.' The series is written by Tony Roche, Simon Blackwell, Ian Martin, Will Smith, Roger Drew and Sean Gray. Additional material was written by David Quantick, Dan Gaster, Georgia Pritchett and Rob Colley.

Channel Four has commissioned a second series of their dark comedy Black Mirror. Created by journalist, critic and the nation's moral compass King Charlie Brooker, the series is a bleak look at modern society, with three vignettes looking at how technology affects our lives. The first episode, in which a fictional prime minister was blackmailed into having sex with a pig, prompted three hundred and twenty two complaints to Ofcom and Channel Four. From arseholes. But it also won a Golden Rose for best comedy at this year's Rose d'Or Television Festival. Brooker, who wrote the opening two episodes of the first series, announced its return on Twitter. A further three episodes have been commissioned, with filming due to start in August. Channel Four's head of comedy, Shane Allen, said in a statement: 'British drama seems particularly obsessed with murder and the past, often together. Black Mirror is a rare modern look at where society and individuals could be headed. Charlie Brooker exudes that same pioneering spirit of Dennis Potter and Chris Morris with their daring, complex, compelling originality.' Yer actual Charlie himself added: 'Half of the things in the first run of Black Mirror seem to be on the verge of coming true.' Well, not the PM sleeping with a pig, obviously, but still ... 'If the stories from the second run start coming true then we're REALLY in trouble.' After a heavy advertising campaign, the first series of Black Mirror averaged one a half million viewers across its run. It picked up a further two million plus views via video-on-demand services.

Almost seventy candidates applied to be the next Director General of the BBC, it has emerged. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self thought about applying but, in the end didn't bother. Well, the hours are rubbish. And, it would have meant a significant reduction in salary. Executive search company Egon Zehnder received applications from sixty nine candidates keen to take over from Mark Thompson, the BBC Trust revealed in minutes published on Thursday of an extraordinary meeting held on 23 May. At the meeting the BBC Trust members were provided with a long list containing a summary of all applicants for the role, provided by Dominic Loehnis who ran the recruitment process at Egon Zehnder and attended the meeting, which included 'advice about the suitability of each candidate.' Ultimately George Entwistle, the director of BBC Vision, was appointed as DG on 4 July, six weeks after the BBC Trust meeting. At the meeting on 24 May copies of all sixty nine applications were available for the BBC Trust members to review. A long list of nineteen 'prioritised candidates' was proposed by Loehnis for discussion among the members of the trust, with the aim to draw up a shortlist for interview. 'Members discussed the strengths of each of the prioritised candidates in some detail [and] assessed the work history and personal strengths of candidates against the selection criteria agreed in the role description,' according to the minutes. The interview panel consisted of BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten, vice-chairman Diane Coyle, David Liddiment, Anthony Fry, Alison Hastings and Elan Closs Stephens. The panel made a recommendation to the full BBC Trust on the preferred appointment. It has never been clear how many candidates the BBC Trust shortlisted for formal interview. Five candidates were confirmed in the media as being on the long list. These included four internal candidates: Entwistle, chief operating officer Caroline Thomson, director of news Helen Boaden and head of audio and music Tim Davie. The only external candidate to be publicly named was Ed Richards, the chief executive of Ofcom.

Actress Kristin Chenoweth has been sent to hospital after being struck by a piece of lighting equipment on the New York set of The Good Wife. The forty three-year-old, best known for her roles in The West Wing, Pushing Daisies and Glee, was put in a neck brace and taken away in an ambulance. 'A gust of wind blew a lighting silk out of place, striking actress Kristin Chenoweth,' said TV studio CBS. 'All of us at the studio and the show are thinking about Kristin and wishing her a quick recovery.' Lighting silk is cloth used to soften or deflect artificial light or sunlight during shooting. It is sometimes stretched over a lightweight metal or plastic frame. However, the studio's statement appeared to contradict an earlier account of the accident from Chenoweth's own publicist. Jill Fritzo told The Associated Press her client was hit by falling scaffolding. A witness told celebrity website TMZ that Chenoweth appeared to have been 'knocked out cold' after the accident, having apparently struck her head on concrete as she fell. A fire department spokesman confirmed that a woman had suffered 'minor injuries' on the set, but declined to identify her. Chenoweth joined hit legal drama The Good Wife in a recurring role for its fourth season. She plays a political reporter who tries to uncover dirt on the lead character, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) and her estranged husband Peter (Chris Noth), who is running for governor. In The West Wing, she played press secretary Annabeth Schott. Writer Aaron Sorkin briefly dated the actress, and their relationship partly inspired the character of Harriet Hayes in his next TV show Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. Which yer actual Keith telly Topping really enjoyed though he seems to be in a minority of one there. Aside from her TV works, Chenoweth is also a renowned Broadway actress, having originated the role of Glinda in the hit musical Wicked, and won a Tony award for You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown in 1999.

Phillip Schofield - tragically minus Gordon the Gopher - has spoken of his 'surprise' upon seeing a guest's wig on This Morning. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is 'news' apparently. A man appeared on Wednesday's episode of the fearfully lightweight mid-morning magazine show to discuss his recent penis enlargement surgery. Well, someone's got to do it, I suppose. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self recently had an e-mailed from a company (in Russia, as it happens) allegedly offering just such a service. He was forced to reply with the observation that one should never mess with perfection. Anyway, back to This Morning. The guest - known as 'Danny' - was purposely disguised for the interview, shot over his shoulder, but was given a wig which made him look rather similar to Schofield from behind. 'I can't believe the wig we gave to our anonymous penis enlargement man' Schofield tweeted after the show. He added: 'He's even wearing the same coloured shirt I've got in today! IT'S NOT ME!' Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

Stacey Solomon is to film a 'taster reel' for a new comedy show, it has been reported. The reality TV regular, who finished third on The X Factor in 2009 and won I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) a year later, will allegedly 'star' in a 'semi-fictionalised sitcom' in the vein of shows such as Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Grandma's House. Only, you know, not as good as any of those. Except, maybe, Grandma's House. Solomon, who also gave presenting a try with - let's be charitable and say 'ludicrous' results during the 2010 X Factor series - is said to be 'excited' about the project. 'There's a lot of excitement about this project,' an alleged 'source' allegedly told the Sun. 'It's not just another reality TV show, there's a brilliant production team behind it. There's strong interest from ITV.' Of course there is, it's ITV. They seemed to believe the audience had the collective IQ of a mollusc. The only problem would appear to be that Solomon's first language isn't English, or anything even remotely like it. Phil Cornwell and Ronni Ancona will allegedly play Solomon's father and mother on the show, which is being written by Rob Colley and Dan Gaster. The test footage is reportedly being filmed this week with Princess Productions.

Michelle Keegan's agent has refuted claims that the actress is taking a break from Coronation Street. Rumours circulated on Monday that the actress had been asked to partake in the 2012 series of Strictly Come Dancing in the autumn and the Daily Lies - of course - published the claims without, seemingly, bothering to ask Keegan's people whether they were true or not. Which is most unlike them because they're normally so careful about the veracity of what they print. Her agency, Vital Management PR, wrote on Twitter: 'The story about Michelle Keegan doing Strictly is untrue. Its just an inaccurate rumour doing the rounds!' Vital Management made the statement after the Coronation Street Blog requested clarification of the speculation. The Daily Lies reported that Keegan was being 'touted' as the BBC ballroom show's biggest celebrity signing of the year. Which, if it had been true, would have been a pretty sorry indictment of the potential line-up on Strictly this year. So, it would seem that, once again, the Daily Lies have published a load of old bollocks masquerading as 'news.' What are the chances, eh?

Tulisa Contostavlos said that her ex-boyfriend Justin Edwards had 'messed with the wrong woman' after winning a public apology from him over a sex tape which was posted online. The singer and X Factor judge was at London's High Court to accept the grovelling 'sincere apologies' of Edwards, also known as MC Ultra. The rap artist from London originally denied being responsible for the leak of the video. Details of the settlement were given by the N-Dubz singer's solicitor. Jonathan Coad said: 'The invasion of Miss Contostavlos' privacy was the most severe kind imaginable. She suffered and continues to suffer very serious distress at this wholly unjustified and unlawful interference with her rights.' Tulisa launched the legal action against her twenty eight-year-old ex-boyfriend - and others - after the footage was posted on a website. She won a High Court order in March banning publication of the clip showing her engaged in a sexual act. The couple split up in 2009. The X Factor judge, who mentored last year's winning act Little Mix, commented on the case by posting a video on YouTube at the time. 'When you share an intimate moment with someone that you love, you care about and you trust, you never imagine for one minute that that footage may at any point be shared with the rest of the people around the world,' she said. Contostavlos, who celebrates her twenty fourth birthday tomorrow, is continuing the action against a number of other defendants over claims they were involved in the distribution of the tape. Her solicitor said that Edwards, who was not present at court, accepted all that was said on behalf of Contostavlos and had also agreed not to speak further in public about their relationship. 'She has been particularly distressed by the wholly untrue allegation made by some that she was in some way complicit with the release of the footage,' Coad added. 'She was not, as this statement makes clear.'

The Rolling Stones' guitarist, yer actual Saint Keef Richards, says the band have met up for 'a couple of rehearsals' as they mark fifty years together. Rumours of a tour to celebrate the band's golden anniversary have been circulating for a number of years. However, Richards would not go so far as to say when the quartet would be performing in public again. 'There's things in the works - I think it's definitely happening,' he told the BBC. 'But when? I can't say yet. We're playing around with the idea and had a couple of rehearsals - we've got together and it feels so good.' Richards was speaking to BBC arts editor Will Gompertz the day before the band turns fifty. They played their first gig at London's Marquee Club on 12 July 1962 and had their first - minor - hit, a cover of Chuck Berry's 'Come On', twelve months later. A photography exhibition marking the band's long career will be launched London's Somerset House on Thursday. Talking about the pictures, which include reportage, live concert and studio images, Keef said he felt 'weird' looking back at the group's early days. 'It's amazing - most of these pictures I think, "where was the cameraman?" I don't remember them being there,' he said. Well, this is Keef Richards we're talking about, after all, there's large chunks of the late 60s and most of the 70s that are find of a bit hazy! He added that he would like the band to continue for as long as possible, saying: 'There might be life in the old dog yet - we'll die gracefully, elegantly wasted. Sometimes its hard work and you wonder why you're doing it, but apart from those few moments it's been an incredible adventure.' The Stones last world tour, A Bigger Bang, played to four and a half million punters in thirty two countries over two years before it finished in London in 2007. With ticket sales of five hundred and fifty eight million dollars, it was the most profitable grossing tour of all time, until it was eclipsed by The U2 Group's Three Sixty tour last year. Which, no doubt, made Mr Bonio, Mr The Edge and ... the other two loads and loads of lovely wonga.

Yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United's manager, Alan Pardew - respect - says 'steady progress' has been made in the transfer market with regard to new arrivals on Tyneside. The Magpies have already signed Romain Amalfitano and Gael Bigirimana this summer, and Pardew has been in dialogue with further targets. 'We're not close, but we're making progress,' he told BBC Newcastle. 'I think certainly over the next fourteen days that maybe one will come in, we're looking to bring in two, maybe three.' In addition to incoming players, Newcastle are also keen to retain the bulk of the squad that achieved Europa League qualification via their fifth place Premier League finish in 2011-12. Demba Ba has been linked with a move away from the club, while rumours regarding Yohan Cabaye have also surfaced. 'The most important thing is keeping hold of our good players, our great players,' Pardew added. 'We've got a very good team here, and we have aspirations to improve next year. It isn't easy, but so far we've done well, most people have been away and we've had a few enquiries. But people now realise if they want to take anyone away they have to pay way over the odds.'

Then-prime minister Tony Blair was briefed on the UK's files about UFO sightings in 1998, newly declassified MoD documents have revealed. Writer Doctor David Clarke had urged him to 'consider making available for public scrutiny all of the many and varied UFO reports compiled by the government.' The request came as the government began to implement Freedom of Information. Some six thousand seven hundred pages of UFO documents have been released by the National Archives. The documents also include details of a briefing made before a House of Lords debate on UFOs in 1979, and reveal that former prime minister John Major had been asked by a fellow MP in 1996 whether the government would set up a national inquiry into UFO sightings. The declassified documents - from the MoD unit which investigated UFO claims from 1950 until it was closed in 2009 - also include several sightings and investigations. These include a spate of sightings in Welsh Wales in 1977 which included a hotel owner reportedly seeing two tall, silver-suited 'faceless humanoids' which began making measurements, a UFO sighting in Spalding, Lincolnshire, which led to the witness being visited by three tall men in black suits who 'seemed to move silently,' an RAF Air Commodore describing in a memo to Defence Intelligence Staff that he had seen a UFO flying above him when he was flying at forty thousand feet, a mounted police officer seeing a 'square/diamond shaped object moving across the sky and changing shape' whilst on duty at Moscow Chelski FC's ground Torpedo Stamford Bridge in 1999 and a memo noting claims the naval task force sailing to liberate the Falklands in 1982 had been shadowed by UFOs - 'presumably Little Green Men in ponchos.' Ba-doom. Dr Clarke, author of the - really very good - book The UFO Files and senior lecturer in journalism from Sheffield Hallam University, pushed to have these files released. He said: 'These records allow us to look behind the scenes of what must have been one of the strangest jobs in Whitehall.' Files relating to the unit have been transferred to the National Archive since 2007. The documents also include an e-mail from an intelligence officer working on the desk who described the daily mechanics of the role. The officer says it is not the MoD's role to confirm or deny the possibility of the existence extraterrestrials, but merely to gauge whether unidentified objects posed a threat to the UK's security. In the e-mail he says discussion of the unit 'tends to suggest to the public that there are Top Secret teams of specialist scientists scurrying around the country in a real life version of The X-Files. This is total fiction.' Science fiction, actually. Pity, really.

Which brings us nicely to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. If this isn't proof there's life on other planets, I don't know what is.
Remember, dear blog reader, that Ed Staker is watching. He knows who you are and he knows where you live.
So, that about wraps it up for another day on From The North. Except for this, of course.
Welcome, all you newbies from Belarus, Albania and Saudi Arabia. Stick around, I've got some terrific Karen Gillan photos you might be interested in. Nah, lissun ...