Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Scorpio Descending

Matt Smith certainly suffered for his art when filming the BBC's forthcoming Olympics rowing drama Bert and Dickie, reports the Sun. 'I've got blisters on the hand, cuts and bruises everywhere, calluses,' he told Radio Times. 'I loved it although it's taken its toll physically. Your bum is the worst thing because those old wooden seats are pretty grim.' After all that, the Daleks should be a walk in the park.
Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn are to star in a Richard Curtis television film for BBC1. The actresses will appear in ninety-minute drama Mary and Martha, written by Curtis and directed by The Bone Collector's Phillip Noyce. The film is a Working Title Television production for BBC1 and HBO Films, and is scheduled to be broadcast in the run-up to Comic Relief in 2013. Mary and Martha stars Swank as Mary and Blethyn as Martha, an American and an English woman who both lose sons to malaria. Mary takes her son to Africa for a holiday where he contracts the disease, while Martha's son dies while working in Mozambique. The two women start their own campaigns to raise awareness for the illness. They eventually team up for an 'epic journey' in order to help improve lives around the world. Curtis said of the project: 'I've always wanted to write a film about the fact that when you have children, there's always the possibility of extreme joy and extreme sorrow. And over the years working with Comic Relief, I have come across the tragedy of the startling number of lives taken by malaria every year. This film gives me a chance to write about that too - as well as working with a team of people I hugely admire - Brenda Blethyn, Hilary Swank and the great Australian director Phillip Noyce.' Swank said: 'I've long admired Phillip's work and we've been wanting to work together for years. When he shared with me this extraordinary story and I read Richard's beautiful script, I was inspired by the creative possibilities of working with them and Working Title to tell this remarkable journey of two women from completely different worlds who collided then forged an unbreakable friendship full of humour and grace. I look forward to working with them and the fantastic Brenda Blethyn on this special film.' Blethyn added: 'This long overdue story of Mary and Martha is Richard Curtis at his best. A remarkable story of the courage, dignity and humour of two very different women in their effort to make the world a better place. I'm thrilled to be working with the wonderfully inspiring director Phillip Noyce, and to be sharing the screen with the classy and totally brilliant Hilary Swank. What more do you need to know?' Filming for the project began last week and will take place in America and South Africa.

Celebrity MasterChef will return next month for a new series, it has been confirmed. The cookery show's seventh celebrity run, hosted as usual by big cuddly shouty Gregg Wallace and John Torode, will play out in an early evening slot on BBC2 thus avoiding last year's complete and total fiasco of being shown in the afternoon and no bugger watching it. A total of sixteen alleged celebrities will battle across thirty weekly episodes of cooking challenges, culminating with the gruelling Critics' Table and final cook-off. Gareth Gates, Cheryl Baker from Bucks Fizz, Footballers' Wives actress Laila Rouass and yer actual Jamie Theakston are among the series' more 'high-profile' stars. Christ almighty, that's a line-up to fill one with confidence, is it not? You just need the Chuckle Brothers and Andy Townsend in with that lot and you've got the punchline to a Mad Frankie Boyle joke. Richard McCourt, who plays Dick from CBBC's Dick & Dom In Da Bungalow, will also compete on the programme, as well as Michael Underwood, George Layton, Emma Kennedy, Zoe Salmon, Jenny Eclair and Eurovision flop Javine Hylton. Former Olympians Steve Parry and the divine Goddess that is Rebecca Romero and former England footballer - and skinhead - Danny Mills make up the line-up. Right, well, yer actual Keith Telly Topping wants Rebecca to win. I don't care what he food's like. Previous winners have included the actress Lisa Faulkner, Jayne Middlemiss, Liz McClarnon, Nadia Sawalha and Matt Dawson. Phil Vickery won Celebrity MasterChef last year although if you were one of the millions not watching because it had been scheduled at a bloody stupid time, don't worry, you were not alone.
The BBC pulled a film about the experiences of rioters during last summer's disturbances just hours before it was due to be broadcast after a ruling from a judge. The film, due to be broadcast on BBC2 at 9pm on Monday, was a dramatisation based on the testimony of interviews conducted for the Gruniad Morning Star and London School of Economics research into the disorder. The programme, the first of a two-part series, features actors who play anonymous rioters speaking about their experiences of the riots last August. The BBC said in a statement: 'A court order has been made that has prevented the BBC from broadcasting the programme The Riots: In Their Own Words tonight. We will put it out at a later date.' The BBC did not give details about the nature of the court order, and declined to reveal which judge had made the ruling, or why. The script from the programme, written by the award-winning playwright Alecky Blythe, was produced from ver batim transcripts of interviews conducted as part of the Reading the Riots study, which conducted confidential interviews with two hundred and seventy rioters. The programme had been scheduled to be broadcast for several weeks and forms part of a package of current affairs journalism being prepared by the broadcaster in the run-up to next month's anniversary of the riots. In a blog posted before the film was pulled, a BBC producer on the project said that using the 'important and illuminating' interviews in the docudrama would provide insight into 'why and how the riots had happened.'

A police body has 'slammed' (that's tabloid-speak for 'criticised' only with less syllables) the Olympics security operation as 'shambolic' and warned that officers are being taken away from their 'core duties' to fill in. Hundreds of police officers from across the UK have been drafted in to help with the Olympics security crisis, which has led to pressure on the head of the lack of security firm G4S to quit. With less than two weeks to go until the opening ceremony, ministers insisted that the London 2012 Games would be 'secure' and dismissed the failure of G4S to provide the promised ten thousand security guards as no more than 'a hitch.' Once everyone had stopped laughing, the questions started. Police officers now being deployed are in addition to the three thousand five hundred servicemen and women who were called in last week. The forces involved include South Wales, Dorset, Surrey, Hertfordshire, Northumbria, Strathclyde, West Midlands, Thames Valley and Greater Manchester. The South Wales Police Federation criticised the operation as 'shambolic' and said officers were being taken away from their core duties - whatever the hell they are - to fill in. Wayne Baker from the SWPF said: 'The whole thing has been a complete shambles. Our officers are being deployed either to cover for G4S or on stand-by in each division. Our officers are being taken away from their duties and this has an impact on what they are getting paid to do.' Baker said officers will still be able to respond to emergency situations but other duties will be delayed, and cancelled days off will 'affect their personal lives.' He also questioned whether South Wales Police would be reimbursed for the resources lost. Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, the National Olympic Security coordinator, said: 'Defensive searches, a key part of the Olympic safety and security plan, always needed to be delivered within a tight time frame. Our deployments are to ensure that this goes ahead and the plan continues to be delivered.' Allison added that some of the activity undertaken by police officers were 'not anticipated' but said plans were 'put in place' to allow such measures. 'Forces are making sure they make the best use of their resources locally to do all they can to minimise the impact on local policing. We will continue to work closely with all our partners to get the job done, and these current deployments will be kept under constant review. At the present time this is not impacting upon our existing plans for the safety and security operation.' A South Wales Police spokesman said the force was working closely with LOCOG, the Games organiser, and G4S and would ensure security and safety in Wales was not compromised. He said: 'South Wales Police officers are supporting the security operation by providing officers to enhance the security arrangements in place, operating to the tight time scales needed to deliver the defensive search regime at athlete facilities in our area. Delivering a safe and secure Games is our top priority and we are working closely with our partners to deliver an end-to-end security operation. As part of our planning for the Games, we have been sure to build contingency and resilience into our resourcing and we have the capacity to meet this task and we will not compromise on keeping the streets and our local communities safe.' Meanwhile, armed guards were visible on Cardiff's streets, with security tents set up at the Millennium Stadium and at the city's Hilton hotel, pictured. The head of G4S is under pressure to quit his eight hundred and thirty thousand smackers-a-year job as he prepares to face questions from MPs over the Olympics security debacle. Yer actual Nick Buckles, the firm's chief executive, will be asked how G4S, the world's second largest private sector employer, has failed to get enough security guards for Games venues when more than twenty thousand have already been accredited. He will face questions from Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, who accused his firm of letting the country down last week. Buckles would be entitled to twenty million notes in pay and benefits if he loses his job over the fiasco which is expected to cause his firm fifty million quid of losses on the high-profile contract. More than four hundred million knicker has already been wiped off the firm's value since Wednesday and Home Secretary Theresa May has been forced to appear before MPs twice in the last week over the row. G4S repeatedly assured ministers it would 'overshoot' its recruitment targets and only admitted it would fail last week, she claimed yesterday. May said that despite more than twenty thousand security staff being accredited, G4S had problems with scheduling and 'getting staff to the venue security tasks.' Some staff no longer wanted the work, she added. But May came under fire from many MPs for not knowing how many staff G4S would now provide after the Home Secretary told MPs the 'precise balance of the number who will be provided will become clear over the next few days.' She denied the firm had 'deliberately deceived' the Government. A total of three thousand five hundred troops, many of whom will be billeted at Tobacco Dock near Wapping, were brought in to make up the shortfall, boosting the number of servicemen and women involved in Games security to seventeen thousand last week. Hundreds of officers from eight forces have now also been drafted in to fill gaps. Venue security was being tightened 'before the full complement of accredited staff have been assigned,' a G4S spokesman said. 'This situation is being rectified over the coming days, which should lead to the withdrawal of police officers from those roles assigned to private security.' Paul Murphy, chairman of Greater Manchester Police Authority, said just twenty of the expected fifty eight G4S staff turned up at the main Olympic team hotel in Worsley on Saturday to help conduct a 'lock-down' of the building. Murphy told BBC Radio 4's PM: 'Greater Manchester Police had to step in and ensure that the site was properly locked down. We have had to use officers and staff on rest days. We have had twenty eight PCs and four sergeants into that area, at a cost of thirty thousand notes a day.' The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said the situation was 'chaos, absolute chaos.' Ian Edwards, chairman of the West Midlands branch, said the force is providing one hundred and fifty officers per day to cover a hotel in Warwickshire where footballers are staying. 'The worst-case scenario is that we end up having to find another two hundred officers for the security at the City of Coventry stadium, and we've yet to find out what the shortfall is in Birmingham,' he said. 'It's chaos. You shouldn't lose your local police officer because of the Olympics. Communities are suffering because a private company has failed to deliver on a contract.' A confidential report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary warned about concerns over security ten months ago, leading Games organisers LOCOG to increase the number of security guards to be supplied by G4S from two thousand to ten thousand four hundred while the value of the contract more than trebled from eighty six million smackers to two hundred and eight four million knicker. Reports on Monday night suggested that US security officials will be based at UK airports including Heathrow throughout the Olympic and Paralympic period to assist American-based carriers with 'security issues.' Sky News reported that the Department for Transport has reached an agreement with the US Transportation Security Administration for its officials to be deployed on British soil from next week and to remain until a week after the Paralympic Games end on 9 September. A DFT spokesman said: 'The Department for Transport is in regular contact with the US Transportation Security Administration and we have been planning Olympics liaison arrangements with the Americans for several months. The department does not comment on the precise details of security matters and these arrangements have nothing whatsoever to do with G4S issue.' Heathrow airport was also set to handle a record number of passengers this week as competitors arrived to take residence in the Olympic village. The airport expected to handle two hundred and thirty six thousand nine hundred and fifty five passengers – breaking the previous record of two hundred and thirty three thousand five hundred and sixty two set on 31 July last year. But there were some problems as athletes attempted to travel to the Olympic Village, with current four hundred metres hurdles world champion Dai Greene's main rival Kerron Clement claiming that he spent four hours on a bus after the driver got lost. 'Not a good first impression London,' the American tweeted. 'Athletes are sleepy, hungry and need to pee. Could we get to the Olympic Village please.' Whinger. He later tweeted to reveal that he had finally made it to the Olympic Village and his impression of the UK had improved. He said: 'Eating at the Olympic Village. Love the variety of food choices, African, Caribbean, Halal cuisine, India and Asian and of course McDonald's.' Clement's bus was one of two which 'went missing,' despite the journey supposedly being one that was fast-tracked by the implementation of the Olympic lane on the M4. A second bus with thirty Australian officials and medical staff were taken past Buckingham Palace and the back streets of West Ham on the lengthy detour to the Olympic Park in Stratford. London's transport commissioner Peter Hendy said it was 'just teething troubles. If the driver got lost, it tells you nothing about the Games lanes. My information about the current arrivals around Heathrow and the M4 in to London is that they are running very smoothly.' The busiest day for arriving athletes is expected to be 24 July, when twelve hundred plus athletes and coaches and over three thousand other Olympics-related arrivals are predicted. Heathrow operator BAA said immigration waiting times have been 'within the targets' set by the Home Office since new resources were put in place. Athletes travel with around twice the number of bags as regular passengers – an average of nearly three items per athlete. Nick Cole, head of Olympic and Paralympic planning at BAA, said: '[This] heralds the start of Britain's biggest peacetime transport challenge and Heathrow's busiest ever period. The Olympic and Paralympic Games are a marathon, not a sprint, for Heathrow.' Some familiar faces greeted British Airways customers arriving into Heathrow Terminal Five. A sea of greeters wore masks picturing famous British sports stars including Sir Chris Hoy, David Beckham, Andy Murray, Lewis Hamilton, Paula Radcliffe, Rebecca Adlington, Tom Daley and Ryan Giggs. Brother and sister Jefferson and Jennifer Liu, aged eighteen and fifteen respectively, touched down from Hong Kong. Jefferson said: 'It was a lovely welcome and surprise. We were at the Beijing Games four years ago and are very excited to be in London this time around.' Heathrow expects that eighty per cent of all visitors for the Games will pass through the airport in the coming weeks, including sponsors, officials, coaches and athletes. It was also revealed yesterday that the final day of the Olympic Torch relay will have echoes of the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant. Only without thin-skinned Fearne Cotton, scoure of the 'bullies' being involved. Gloriana, the Queen's Rowbarge, will carry a ceremonial cauldron to be lit by the Olympic flame. She will be rowed by British Olympic rowers from Games dating back to 1948 alongside young rowers from London Youth Rowing.

The BBC will send seven hundred and sixty five staff to cover the Olympic games in London, notes the Gruniad Morning Star in yet another sickeningly judgemental piece of hippy Communist horseshit with, they add, 'celebrity pundits such as Gary Lineker among hundreds involved in producing two thousand five hundred hours of live coverage for the corporation.' The seven hundred plus BBC staff is an increase on the four hundred and ninety three people the broadcaster sent to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. However, the corporation's staff numbers are dwarfed by the two thousand seven hundred journalists flown to London by the US TV network NBC. The BBC has aimed to position itself as the 'official' broadcaster of the Olympics and has lined-up presenters including Lineker, Sue Barker and Clare Balding to front its wall-to-wall coverage of the summer games. Dave Gordon, BBC Sport's head of major events, defended the staff numbers in an interview with Radio Times. 'Don't forget, NBC is flying two thousand seven hundred [staff] over from the USA. So we're pretty lean and mean,' he said. 'I look on it as a reminder of how passionately the audience cares what the BBC does and the way we do it. We've a hard-earned reputation for doing the Olympics well.' Of course, the corporation is likely to face scrutiny from some quarters - sick scum with an agenda, basically - over its staffing levels. So, what else is new? The BBC is turning BBC1 and BBC3 into its flagship Olympics channels, with BBC1 showing wall-to-wall coverage of the games except for news bulletins. Gordon said that he was 'confident' the BBC would not face the kind of criticism it attracted for its coverage of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, but admitted the broadcaster will get nervous if Team GB's medal haul did not match expectations. 'Ultimately, one of the measures of the success of the Games and the success of our coverage will be how the British public feel about Team GB's performance. Say we have a barren first few days, we'll all get a little twitchy,' he said. Games organisers expect up to twenty eight thousand members of the media to descend on London over the summer, almost three times more than the number of athletes competing. Agence France-Presse is reputedly deploying a multilingual team of about one hundred and fifty journalists and the global newswire and US newswire Associated Press will have around two hundred staff on the ground.

A presenter on the BBC consumer affairs show Rogue Traders has been jailed for twelve weeks for benefit fraud totalling more than twenty four thousand quid. Dan Penteado, from Bournemouth, admitted eight offences of dishonestly or knowingly claiming housing and council tax benefits. Bournemouth Magistrates' Court heard he failed to declare his BBC earnings. A spokesperson for the corporation said Penteado would not be returning to the programme. He had been the motorbike-riding on-screen sidekick of Rogue Traders presenter full-of-his-own-importance Matt Allwright since 2001. During a hearing at Bournemouth Magistrate's Court in June, the prosecution said that the offences went back to 2007 when Penteado filled out his first claim form and failed to declare that he had another bank account. The court heard he repeated the fraud in subsequent years up to 2011. In that time Penteado failed to tell Bournemouth Borough Council he had been paid more than fifty six grand for his work on Rogue Traders from 2008 to 2011. He was paid a total of twenty four thousand and seventy seven knicker in housing and council tax benefits. His solicitor Terrence Scanlan told the court he committed the fraud from 2008 to 2012 because he was on a short-term contract with the BBC and made the 'very poor judgment not to interrupt the flow of housing benefit.' The council brought the prosecution after a member of staff dealing with a benefits claim recognised the TV personality from a newspaper article. Councillor David Smith, cabinet member for planning and environment, said: 'The amount of money stolen in this case is truly shocking. We are pleased that Mr Penteado has now been successfully prosecuted and brought to justice. The council will not tolerate benefit fraud and will always take action to ensure public funds are protected from abuse and available to support the most vulnerable in society.' Passing sentence, chairman of the magistrate's board John Corben said it had not been a victimless crime and Penteado had 'stolen from the public purse in a calculated way.' A BBC spokesperson said: 'In light of the prosecution, Dan Penteado will not be returning to Rogue Traders.'

The launch of Sky's new NOW TV online streaming service is 'not without risk,' as it 'removes the barrier' of long-term pay-TV contracts, an analyst has warned. Informa Telecoms & Media senior analyst Ted Hall feels that NOW TV represents a 'potentially dangerous move away from the bundled approach to selling pay TV' for Sky. However, another analyst disagrees, instead saying that NOW TV offers a way for Sky to target an audience that has so far resisted pay-TV services. Sky will launch NOW TV on PC, Mac and Android devices on Tuesday, enabling users to stream films from Sky Movies over the Internet either via subscription or pay-as-you-go. Later in the year, the service will expand to content from Sky Sports and Sky entertainment channels, such as Sky Atlantic and Sky1. It will also become available on other connected devices, such as iPhone, iPad, Xbox and YouView, the new BBC-backed Freeview set top box platform. But Hall feels that while trying to attract a new audience, Sky could risk removing the barrier of a long-term commitment involved with traditional pay-TV models. 'The allure of such freedom could be stronger than Sky intends, with cost-conscious satellite customers now presented with a more flexible alternative - still accessible on the living room TV set - which they can switch to without having to desert their long-trusted pay-TV provider,' he said. 'With Sky Movies - and later Sky Sports - now available without a basic-tier subscription, as well as on a pay-as-you-go basis, consumers are finally being introduced to the cherry-picking model they always wanted, which the model operators have typically resisted for fear of disrupting the established economics of pay TV.'

You do not mess with yer actual Geoffrey Boycott, especially if you are interviewing him live on the radio and his favourite imported TV drama is about to begin on Channel Five. Such was the fate which befell BBC 5Live's hapless Mark Chapman while interviewing the great man on Monday about England's up-coming test series against South Africa. 'Anyhow I'm going to watch CSI, thanks very much,' declared Boycott suddenly, down the line from his home to Salford. 'I've over-run by fifty five seconds, sorry Geoffrey, bye!' replied Chapman, but by then Boycott was already gone to watch Ted Danson and co. Last word, amid much laughter, went to Chapman: 'When Geoffrey's booked for half an hour, he's booked for half an hour.' A far cry from the days when he used to bat for two days (and end up eight not out).

Imogen Thomas has reportedly signed up for a role in something called Tool Academy. Stop sniggering at the back.
A man and woman have been arrested for attempting to steal a toilet seat and other items from a courthouse in southern Sweden. The police said they had nothing to go on. Nah, lissun. The attempted theft happened at the town of Kristianstad's district court, The Local reports. The alleged thieves cleaned out the courthouse break room, taking tea, coffee and sugar before taking the toilet seat and attempting to make good their escape. Mikael Persson of the Kristianstad police told Kristianstadbladet: 'It's been said they had been at a hearing. They clearly thought what was said was crap.' The two attempted robbers, a man and woman aged thirty eight and twenty four respectively, were also caught on camera attempting to break into a storage locker. The pair are now being held under suspicion of robbery and attempted robbery.

Demba Ba notched the only goal as yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United beat AS Monaco 1-0 to secure their first win of pre-season. The Senegalese striker struck like a panther in the thirty second minute as he capitalised on an error by opposition goalkeeper Danijel Subasic to give the Magpies the lead. Claudio Ranieri's side were frustrated by some impressive last-ditch defending from Newcastle as they squandered several chances in front of goal. And Ba's strike proved to be enough to secure the victory as United held off the advances of the French side as they pushed for an equaliser in the second-half, hitting the woodwork in the process. Newcastle's side remains somewhat experimental as they are still missing those players who were involved in Euro 2012. Pardew's side enjoyed much of the possession throughout the game and captain Shola Ameobi came close in the first minute as he struck the post with a header. New signings Romain Amalfitano and Gael Bigirimana both started the match and played over an hour. Both Sylvain Marveaux and Ryan Taylor featured as they continue their return from injury whilst Sammy Ameobi and Haris Vučkić each played a half. Newcastle continue their pre-season with a game against Turkish side Fenerbahce at the weekend.

Meanwhile, former United captain yer actual Alan Shearer believes returning to Tyneside would be a 'great move' for Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws striker Andy Carroll. Press Association Sport says that it 'understands' the Reds flatly turned down the Magpies' initial bid to re-sign the twenty three-year-old international on a season-long loan over the weekend, but have made it known that they would be willing to listen to offers for a permanent transfer for a player who cost them thirty five million smackers just eighteen months ago. Shearer reckons that heading back to the North-East could be the best option for Carroll. The forty one-year-old said in the Sun: 'Andy is an England centre-forward and I wouldn't say he has been a flop at Liverpool by any means.' Christ, I would. 'Yes, it took him a bit of time to settle there but he finished the season strongly and considering he only started one game at the Euros, I thought he did well. Make no mistake, he is a very good footballer. I can fully understand why Newcastle are in for him and I think it would be a great move. When he was there before he benefited from the fact that the team was always working to get him the ball - and he thrived on that. That hasn't always been the case at Liverpool and perhaps at times he suffered.' He added: 'There is an old saying that you should never go back but, in Andy's case, I don't think it would be a mistake at all. He was hero-worshipped by the crowd first time around and they would warm to him again. Andy loved playing there and whatever the fans felt about him leaving to join Liverpool, I'm sure he would win them over quickly.' Then he elbowed the interviewer in the face. Really hard. But he was going for the ball, obviously. Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws jetted off on their North American pre-season tour on Monday - Carroll is due to join them early next week after an extended holiday. Alleged 'sources' allegedly close to the player have allegedly indicated that he allegedly remains keen to prove himself at Anfield despite new manager Brendan Rodgers' alleged misgivings. That said, he would, allegedly entertain the right loan move. Newcastle would certainly fit the bill - Gateshead-born Carroll made his name at St James' Park after emerging from the ranks to establish himself as a genuine first-teamer under former boss Chris Hughton, and is understood to prefer a return rather than a mooted move to West Ham or AC Milan.

There's a great piece on Bradley Wiggins, 'king of the Mods' in the Independent: 'It's probably fair to say that Bradley Wiggins can't really experience all elements of authentic Mod culture. If he were to regularly stay up 'til 3am at the Twisted Wheel while dancing to Northern Soul and necking amphetamines, it's likely that the Chorley-based cyclist wouldn't be leading this year's Tour de France. But when it comes to everything else, Wiggins is quintessentially Mod. The helmets, sunglasses and uniforms of road cycling can make it difficult for casual fans to tell cyclists in the peloton apart when they're flying past, but Wiggo's signature Paul Weller-style sideburns immediately mark him out in Sky's black and blue. His recently acquired yellow jersey makes things a lot easier now, too.' Skill.

Meanwhile, yer actual Wiggster his very self has thanked Team Sky and Great Britain compatriot Mark Cavendish for his help and support during the fifteen stages so far completed. Wiggins, thirty two, leads the rest of the field by over two minutes ahead of another Team Sky racer, Chris Froome. The Londoner has held the yellow jersey since the seventh stage and he praised the selfless work of team-mate Cavendish in keeping him at the front. 'He's been so committed to my cause,' Wiggins said. 'He's a great friend.' Last year Cavendish won the green jersey as the Tour's top sprinter but despite winning Stage Two this year he is currently fourth in the points race with no chance of catching sprint leader Peter Sagan. Wiggins highlighted his friend's efforts in aiding Team Sky with their quest for the end-of-Tour title. 'Mark has been fantastic these last two-and-a-half weeks,' he said. 'He's a great champion, an absolute gentleman.' Wiggins and Cavendish will reunite to compete for Team GB at the Olympics. Cavendish competed in the Madison at the 2008 Games in Beijing but was the only member of the British track team not to win a medal. All eyes will be on him on the twentieth and final stage, the race into Paris - the Manxman could claim his fourth successive win on the Champs-Elysees. Wiggins is determined to aid his friend in his search for glory in the French capital and then London. 'Obviously there is still the stage to Paris for him and we're going to lay it down in Paris for him and try to get him the win there. He's also got the Olympic road race which he's been quite open about. That's his main objective this year.' As for Wiggins, he knows that the challenge of the climactic mountain stages could determine whether he holds the lead into the final Tour races. Tuesday is a rest day before four big mountains in the Pyrenees on Wednesday, followed by a final mountain stage on Thursday. 'We've got a difficult task on our hands to try to keep the yellow jersey,' Wiggins admitted. 'I always think if you start looking too far ahead you forget what's in front of you.'

The Health and Safety Executive has criticised promoter Live Nation for attributing the curtailment of Bruce Springsteen's Hyde Park concert on Saturday to 'health and safety' issues. Fans were left bemused when the Hard Rock Calling event was abruptly ended in order to meet a 22:30 curfew just as Springsteen, the E-Street Band and Paul McCartney were, if you will, reckoning the shack. One of those disappointed was Kevin Myers, deputy chief executive of the HSE. In a web posting, he said that the promoter was 'disingenuous' to cite health and safety as the cue for ending the gig. 'The fans deserve the truth,' he wrote on the HSE website. 'There are no health and safety issues involved here. While public events may have licensing conditions dictating when they should end, this is not health and safety and it is disingenuous of Live Nation to say so.' A Springsteen fan who was a member of the audience on Saturday, Myers went on to suggest that The Boss knows something about H&S issues himself. To support his argument, he invites readers to 'look at the words of 'Factory' from Darkness on the Edge of Town referring to the toll that factory work can take on the health of blue collar workers.' Springsteen's guitarist Miami Steve Van Zandt was also angered by the concert's abrupt curtailment, using Twitter to express his dissatisfaction with 'English cops.' According to Westminster Council, however, the decision to end the concert was made by organisers 'to comply with their licence.' In a statement on the Hard Rock Calling website, Live Nation said that it was 'unfortunate' that the performance had been 'stopped right at the very end.' It said a 22:30 curfew had been 'laid down by the authorities in the interest of the public's health and safety.' Or not.

Jon Lord, the former keyboard player with the rock band Deep Purple, has died aged seventy one. Jon had been receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer since last August. Lord, who co-wrote many of Deep Purple's best known songs, including 'Smoke On The Water', played with many bands and musicians throughout his fifty year career. A statement issued by his publicist said that he died at the London Clinic on Monday, surrounded by his family. Born in Leicester on 9 June 1941, Jon Lord began playing piano, taking classical music lessons from a very early age. He received a scholarship to drama school in London at the age of nineteen, during which time he began playing jazz and rhythm and blues in pub gigs. He started his London band career in 1960 with jazz ensemble The Bill Ashton Combo. Ashton became a key figure in jazz education in the UK, creating what later became the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Between 1960 and 1963, Lord moved onto Red Bludd's Bluesicians (also known as The Don Wilson's Quartet), the latter of which featured singer Arthur Wood, Rockin' Ronnie Wood's older brother. In this period, Lord's session credits included playing keyboards on The Kinks' 1964 classic 'You Really Got Me'. Later Wood, Lord and drummer Red Dunnage put together a new band, The Artwoods. They made appearances on TV shows such as Ready Steady Go!, performed abroad and appeared on the first Ready Steady Goes Live, promoting their first single 'Sweet Mary', but significant commercial success eluded them. Their only chart single was 'I Take What I Want' in 1966. The band regrouped in 1967 as St Valentine's Day Massacre, in an attempt to cash in on the 1930s gangster craze triggered by the film Bonnie and Clyde. Lord then created Santa Barbara Machine Head (featuring the young Ronnie Wood), writing and recording three powerful keyboard-driven instrumentals, giving a preview of the seminal Deep Purple style to come. Soon after, he went on to cover for keyboard player Billy Day in The Flower Pot Men, where he met bassist Nick Simper. Lord and Simper toured with the band in 1967 to support their 'Let's Go To San Francisco' hit single. Lord founded Deep Purple in 1968 with Richie Blackmore and Ian Paice, and the band went on to become one of the world's most popular rock bands. On Deep Purple's second and third LPs, Lord began indulging his ambition to fuse rock with classical music. Blackmore agreed to go along with Lord's experimentation, provided he was given his head on the next band album. The resulting Concerto For Group and Orchestra (1969) was one of rock's earliest attempts to fuse two distinct musical idioms. Performed live at the Royal Albert Hall on 24 September 1969 (with new band members Ian Gillan and Roger Glover), recorded by the BBC and later released as an LP, Concerto gave Deep Purple their first highly-publicised taste of mainstream fame and gave Lord the confidence to believe that his experiment and his compositional skill had a future. Deep Purple split in 1976, and Lord spent six years with Whitesnake before Purple reformed in 1984. The band made another six studio LPs and performed concerts all over the world, with record sales in excess of one hundred and fifty million units. Lord retired from Deep Purple in 2002. Jon Lord is survived by his wife, Vickie Lord, the twin sister of Ian Paice's wife, Jackie. He had two daughters, Amy, and Sara by a previous marriage.

And, in further sad news, Motown bass player Bob Babbitt, who appeared on numerous classics by the likes of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, has died aged seventy four. One of the last surviving members of Motown's legendary house band, The Funk Brothers, Bob died of complications from brain cancer in Nashville, Tennessee. Manager David Spero confirmed the news in a statement from Universal Music. Babbitt featured on hit records such as 'Tears of a Clown' by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, 'War' by Edwin Starr and Wonder's 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered'. He was well known for decades among musicians, and laid down bass lines on Gaye's songs 'Mercy Mercy Me' and 'Inner City Blues', along with Gladys Knight & The Pips' 'Midnight Train To Georgia'. He also played on songs by The Temptations (that's his bass line on 'Ball of Confusion'), Gloria Gaynor and The Jackson Five among many others. Former Motown engineer Ed Wolfrum told the Detroit Free Press: 'Bob was a teddy bear of a guy, and he was an extraordinary musician - a player's player.' After leaving Motown, Babbitt went on to record with artists as diverse as Bette Midler, Frank Sinatra, Bonnie Raitt, Elton John and Barry Manilow. Born Robert Kreinar in Pittsburgh, Babbitt became part of Stevie Wonder's touring band in 1966 after freelancing around Detroit, before joining The Funk Brothers. If you think of a great Motown bass part from the late 1960s, chances are, if James Jamerson didn't play it, Bob Babbitt did. He gained wider recognition after featuring prominently in the 2002 film about the musicians behind the hits, Standing in the Shadows of Motown. Writer and producer Allan Slutsky told the Detroit News: 'He was one of the last of the breed of journeymen bass players who were total pros, could go in and crank out a hit, go to the next session and crank out another one.' Babbitt is survived by his wife, Ann Kreinar, and their children, Carolyn, Joseph and Karen. The Motown Museum posted news of his death on Twitter, saying: 'Our thoughts are with his loved ones today.' Babbitt featured on one of Motown's all-time biggest selling LP, Marvin Gaye's What's Goin' On, and amassed twenty five gold and platinum records. In 2004 he was presented with a Grammy for lifetime achievement after playing on more than two hundred top forty hits.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day and one of Bob's finest three minutes and fifty eight second. Throb that thang, Mr Bassman. Rock style.