Tuesday, July 24, 2012

With Friends Like These ...

Finally, finally, prosecutors are to charge eight individuals, including official Downing Street toady and lickerty-split tongue merchant odious Andy Coulson and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, in connection with the phone-hacking scandal at the Scum of the World. Both deny the charges. Coulson, a former aide to the prime minister and ex-editor of the disgraced, disgraceful and now, thankfully, former Sunday tabloid. Brooks, another former editor of the paper and, later, News International's chief executive, will face charges in connection with the hacking of the phone of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler among others. Both deny the charges. The Crown Prosecution Service announcement means that some of billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's top former aides have now been charged with criminal offences and will be in the dock, up a'fore the beak. All deny the charges. Among those charged were Stuart Kuttner, former managing editor of the Scum of the World, Ian Edmondson, the former news editor, Greg Miskiw another former news editor, Neville Thurlbeck, the former chief reporter, James Weatherup, the former assistant news editor, and the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. All deny the charges. Alison Levitt QC, principal legal adviser to the director of public prosecutions, announced the decision on Tuesday. She said that the charges related to allegations of phone-hacking from 3 October 2000 to August 2006. The CPS will bring nineteen charges in all, and say that six hundred people were victims, ranging from victims of horrific crimes to politicians and celebrities. All of them deny the charges. Levitt said: 'All, with the exception of Glenn Mulcaire, will be charged with conspiring to intercept communications without lawful authority, from 3 October 2000 to 9 August 2006. The communications in question are the voicemail messages of well-known people and/or those associated with them. There is a schedule containing the names of over six hundred people whom the prosecution will say are the victims of this offence.' The CPS said that victims had included the former home secretaries David Blunkett and Charles Clarke, Tessa Jowell MP and her husband, David Mills, and Professor John Tulloch, a victim of the 7 July 2005 terrorist attacks on London. The allegations that Milly Dowler's phone was hacked led to the Scum of the World's closure. Charged in relation to that case were specifically made against Coulson, Brooks, Kuttner, Miskiw, Thurlbeck and Mulcaire. Brooks also faces charges relating to the alleged accessing of phones belonging to former Fire Brigades Union boss Andrew Gilchrist. Coulson, will face four charges linked to accusations of accessing the phone messages of Dowler, the former Labour home secretaries David Blunkett and Charles Clarke and Calum Best, the son of the late footballer George Best. Prosecutors will allege that hundreds of people, including Hollywood actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, were victims of this offence, the CPS said. Other victims of alleged hacking named in connection with the charges were former England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, television personalities Abi Titmuss and John Leslie, the chef Delia Smith, actors Jude Law, Sadie Frost and Sienna Miller and the footballer and well-known ugg, Wayne Rooney. Levitt said that no further action would be taken in relation to three other suspects who had previously been arrested, the former Scum of the World reporter Ross Hall, sports reporter Raoul Simons and Terenia Taras, a former partner of Greg Miskiw. In the years following the 2007 conviction of one of its journalists - Clive Goodman - for phone-hacking the royal household, News International insisted that the practice was limited to a single 'rogue' reporter. A story which they stuck to through thick and thin until early 2011 when, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, they suddenly changed their tune and came over all compliant and helpful. The charging decisions follow a Scotland Yard investigation which began last year, after police had repeatedly said for over a year that there was 'no need' to reopen the investigation. In July 2009, the Gruniad Morning Star - smug, middle-class hippy Communist horrors that they are, they're feeling somewhat vindicated today - began running a series of articles which claimed phone-hacking was far more widespread than had been previously admitted by News International. On Monday, police said that they believed there were four thousand seven hundred and seventy five potential victims of phone-hacking, of whom two thousand six hundred and fifteen had been notified. The Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner, Sue Akers, told The Leveson Inquiry that her force had notified more than seven hundred people who were 'likely' to have been victims. The CPS has received files from the Met's Operation Weeting team covering thirteen individuals, including eleven journalists from the Scum of the World and Mulcaire. To bring charges, the CPS must be satisfied that prosecution is both in the public interest and has a reasonable chance of a guilty verdict. All of those charged deny the allegations. The previous phone-hacking investigation has been criticised for failing to be anywhere near thorough enough. Whether that was through crass and rank incompetence or deliberate sour and rotten doings is, in part, the reason why The Leveson Inquiry was set up in the first place to find out. We all await the answer with baited breath. The Met says it launched Operation Weeting after receiving 'significant new information' from News International on 26 January 2011. A total of twenty four people including fifteen current and former journalists have been arrested as part of the operation. Police have also detained forty one people under Operation Elveden, a linked investigation into alleged corrupt and naughty payments made to police officers and other public officials. Seven people have been also arrested as part of the third strand of the investigation, Operation Tuleta, which is looking into the scale of computer hacking and other breaches of privacy. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act is a complex piece of legislation and there has been doubt in legal circles about when exactly an offence of phone-hacking may be said to have been committed. Prosecutors looking at the evidence gathered by the new police phone-hacking investigation have been working on the basis of a 'broad interpretation' of RIPA, which covers phone-hacking, the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, told the Gruniad earlier this month. This would mean it was not absolutely necessary – for the purposes of bringing a criminal prosecution – for a voicemail message to have been unheard by its intended recipient before it was allegedly hacked into by other persons. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks was editor of the Scum of the World from 2000 to 2003, when she became editor of the Sun, before rising to become News International chief executive. She resigned from her position amid public outrage in July 2011. Coulson was Scum of the World editor between 2003 and 2007. He later became Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman but quit in January 2011. The charges carry a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment. All deny the charges.

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard is investigating evidence which appears to show that staff at News International titles were in possession of information taken from stolen mobile phones, in an effort to find out if the practice of using such information was widespread at the publisher. Deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers told The Leveson Inquiry that billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's internal inquiry team at the Management and Standards Committee recently handed over material that had been downloaded from, and was in possession of, News International titles which seemed to have come from stolen mobile phones. Indicating that this amounted to a fresh line of inquiry, Akers – who heads up phone-hacking and corrupt payments investigations – said that the police had gone back to the MSC to establish whether in fact it was an isolated incident or 'just the tip of the iceberg.' The material from the phones in question was dated around late 2010, Akers told Leveson, and one of the mobile phones had been examined with a view to breaking its security code, so that the contents could be downloaded by experts. One of the mobile phone thefts took place in Manchester and another in South-West London. The inquiry is being led by officers working on Operation Tuleta, the inquiry into computer hacking and breaches of privacy not covered by the two parallel Met investigations – Operation Weeting, into phone-hacking, and Operation Elveden, into corruption of public officials and bad naughty wrongness. Updating Leveson on Operation Tuleta, Akers revealed that the police were investigating one hundred and one separate allegations of phone-hacking, computer hacking, and improper access to medical, banking and other personal records. Akers said the Met was in possession of between eight and twelve terabytes of information in relation to Tuleta. She said one terabyte was the equivalent of three-and-a-half times the height of Mount Everest – indicating that the investigation was far from closed. She said: 'We've collated relevant documentation from previous inquiries and looked at electronic storage devices which had been previously seized in other inquiries and we've gathered between eight and twelve terabytes of data across seventy storage devices, which we're searching for evidence to either support or contradict the allegations that have been made.' Last week a reporter on the Sun was arrested and bailed by Tuleta officers in connection with suspicions of handling stolen goods. It is thought the allegation related to a call from a reader who had, allegedly, found on a train a phone that was said to belong to an MP. It is understood that the paper did not run a story relating to the lost phone. Staff were reportedly furious about the arrest - pity for them - claiming they might as well 'pack up and g' home" if they could no longer check out calls from the public. Which, frankly, sounds like a great idea to this blogger. All those in favour? The Scotland Yard investigation into payments from journalists to police and public officials has widened to include Daily Mirra, Sunday Mirra, Daily Lies and the Lies on Sunday titles. In one case a prison officer at a high security prison, who has now retired, had allegedly received payments from News International, Trinity Mirra and Scum Express Newspapers totalling nearly thirty five thousand smackers, Akers told the inquiry. Akers said co-operation from News International's management and standards committee had enabled it to identity to which of the stories by News International papers the payments are believed to have been related. 'Further investigation has enabled us to identify stories in the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Star and Star on Sunday that are suspected to be linked to the payments,' she said in a statement to the inquiry. Akers said the inquiry was also focusing on another public official, a prison officer at a separate high security prison, who allegedly received more than fourteen grands from Trinity Mirra, publisher of the Daily Mirra, Sunday Mirra and the People, between February 2006 and January 2012. The payments were also suspected to have been facilitated by the individual's partner, she said. 'Further inquiries have enabled us to identify stories in the Daily Mirror during the relevant period that are suspected to be linked to the payments,' she said in a statement. Akers said that it was the Met's assessment that 'the majority of these stories reveal very limited material of genuine public interest.' She also said the police believed there were 'reasonable grounds' to believe offences had been committed. Letters were served on legal executives at both Trinity Mirra and Scum Express Newspapers, publisher of the Lies titles, on 11 July this year. Akers said the letters requested 'specific evidential material which Operation Elveden believed is in their possession and control and which is likely to be of substantial value to the ongoing in investigation.' She said in her statement 'the initial reaction from both newspapers was positive indicating co-operation with the police investigation.' Akers added: 'The police intention has always been to go where the evidence takes us.' A Trinity Mirra spokesman said: 'We take any accusation against the company very seriously and we are co-operating with the police on this matter. We remain engaged with the Leveson inquiry.' Akers also updated Leveson on Weeting and told the inquiry that the Met had now notified two thousand six hundred and fifteen people over allegations that their voicemail might have been hacked. She said that of those, seven hundred and two were 'likely' to have been victims. The figure is higher than first believed. News International lawyers have been working on the basis that around five hundred civil claims for damages in relation to hacking.

After alleged 'rows' over camera positions and a last-minute cut to its running time, the BBC has met with Olympics opening ceremony director Danny Boyle to 'head off any concerns' over its commentary to accompany the twenty seven million smackers spectacular. BBC newsreader Huw Edwards, who will anchor BBC1's coverage, and the BBC's director of London 2012, Roger Mosey, outlined the corporation's plans to the Trainspotting director ahead of Friday's showpiece event, according to the Independent. The soundtrack – the subject of almost as much speculation as the ceremony itself – will be released as a digital download, Isles of Wonder, and viewers who want to watch it commentary-free will be able to do so on cable and satellite television. But Mosey said that Edwards would provide a guide for viewers not entirely familiar with Shakespeare's The Tempest, which inspired Boyle's vision. Mosey added that the BBC's coverage of the opening ceremony was the single most important thing in its Olympics coverage. 'Huw Edwards and I went down to the stadium last week to talk to Danny and others about making sure that we understand the vision,' Mosey told the newspaper. 'The audience will need points to some of the things that are happening. Danny has always said he wants a lively soundtrack but there are points in the ceremony where you do need to say the thinking going on here is X, what we are representing here is Y.' Mosey added: 'We are still impartial and the commentary is ours but the more you understand what Danny Boyle is trying to do, the more you can give an informed commentary.' The corporation's countdown to the opening ceremony will last most of Friday, beginning with Olympic Breakfast and four hours of updates throughout the day on BBC1 at midday, 5pm and 7pm, before its coverage begins in earnest at 9pm, ending at 12.30am on Saturday.

The Olympic torch visited the fictional London borough of Walford when it appeared in a special live section of BBC soap EastEnders on Monday. Viewers saw Billy Mitchell, played by Perry Fenwick, carry the torch past some of E20's most famous TV landmarks, including the Queen Vic pub. Speaking ahead of the show, Fenwick said it was 'quite terrifying.' Nineteen cameras were on the Albert Square set to capture the thirty one regular cast members and eleven children involved. The live insert during EastEnders saw Billy cheered on by the residents of Walford as he carried the torch. With drama always high on the agenda, Billy's granddaughter Lola Pearce gave birth during the episode. Fenwick admitted he was somewhat nervous about the performance, adding: 'I just want to do it and make everyone proud.' The torch is scheduled to arrive at the Olympic Stadium in East London in time for the opening ceremony on Friday. This not the first time the Olympics and EastEnders have crossed paths. In March, Royal Mail revealed that the Olympic Park was to be given the same E20 postcode as the soap's Walford home. EastEnders viewers have already seen characters Fat Boy and Billy discover that they have been nominated as torchbearers. In November 2011, regulars in The Queen Vic found out that the torch would pass through Walford and the following month Billy discovered he had been chosen to carry it. Whilst, Fat Boy wasn't. Innit always the way, eh?

Yer actual Matt Smith has admitted that he chooses his roles outside of Doctor Who carefully. The twenty nine-year-old actor told reporters at a screening of his new BBC Olympic drama Bert and Dickie that he is 'selective' about the parts he picks. 'Because we shoot [Doctor Who] for nine or ten months, all in all, you get about a month to do something else,' he revealed. Smith added that he only has time to shoot one additional project outside of Who per year. 'Of course, you have to be selective,' he said. 'But I responded to the [Bert and Dickie] script. It's made by people I know at the BBC and people that are of great repute. And that's important. There was a good director attached and I always thought it would get a good, strong cast. But it just has to start with a script and I guess I just responded to that.' Talking about his love of sport and acting, Matt told the Radio Times: 'One of the things about playing a sportsman and learning about the psychology and mentality of sport is that there are so many parallels between that world and the world that I inhabit. There's practice for one thing and that sense of discipline and preparation. But it's also about sacrifice. If you want to give it a good go, you've got to make some sacrifices and be as dedicated as you can be. Particularly with Doctor Who; it's two or three hours of line-learning a night.' He also ruefully commented: 'I'd love to play football now. Everyone at work plays on Tuesdays, but they won't let me. I guess it's the insurance companies and, realistically, if I turn my ankle over and we can't shoot, then we're screwed. It's a small price to pay.'
Odious full-of-her-own-importance horrorshow (and drag) Jessie J and Sir Tom Jones won't return for the second series of BBC1's The Voice, claims a tabloid report. Ms J is, apparently, 'unable to take part because of extensive tour commitments' which would clash with filming - oh dear, how sad, never mind - while Jones has allegedly pulled out after 'taking advice' from his manager and son Mark. However, will.i.am and Danny O'Donoghue will be back when the show returns in 2013, according to the Mirra. The newspaper report directly contradicts claims from the Sun, published on the same day, which says that Jones would be back for the second series, as long as he likes the other coaches. So, either the Mirra are lying or the Sun are. Which one do you trust the most dear blog reader? Gosh, it's a toughie, isn't it? Leanne Mitchell, who was mentored by Jones, won the first series of The Voice earlier this year. The Voice's first run was a - qualified - hit for the BBC, securing the channel's highest launch ratings for an entertainment show in a decade although ratings dipped after a very impressive first four or five weeks. It also beat Britain's Got Talent during head-to-head battles in the schedules on several episodes.

Britain's Got Talent has been cleared by media regulator Ofcom over a routine by a risqué burlesque act. Beatrix Von Bourbon was first seen on a pre-recorded show at about 20:25 on 31 March and her performance was repeated three times thereafter. There were seventy five complaints from viewers - or, glakes with nothing better to do with their time, as other people call them - who felt the routine was 'inappropriate' during 'a family show.' Personally, this blogger feels Amanda Holden's face is inappropriate during a family show but, we'll let that one pass for the moment, eh? Ofcom ruled that the performance was 'carefully edited' and not in breach of its code regarding children. Defending its broadcast, ITV described Von Bourbon's act as 'a highly stylised combination of comedy, mime, dance, rather than simply striptease.' The broadcaster said the routine had 'been edited and masked appropriately' and that 'Beatrix's audition was treated in a consistent manner with previous acts of a similar nature.' Ofcom said it was 'aware' that some viewers - glakes, mainly - 'may find the sexualised nature of burlesque performances potentially offensive.' Its ruling continued: 'However we noted that the images of Ms Von Bourbon adopting mildly provocative positions and limited and partial nudity were fleeting.' The watchdog did find a brief image of the performer's 'partially obscured buttocks when she unzipped her skirt' as being 'on the margins of acceptability' and reminded ITV to 'take note' of its guidance in future. Ofcom concluded that ITV took account of the pre-watershed audience 'and did not convey an overtly sexualised theme.' There were fifteen more complaints regarding the same act when Von Bourbon made it through to the live semi-final of Britain's Got Talent on 9 May. Overall, Ofcom found that 'as with the performance on 31 March 2012 - the act and partial nudity on this occasion were appropriately limited and brief in duration, and the act as a whole would not have exceeded the audience's likely expectations for a programme of this nature on this channel.'

On Monday evening Absolutely Fabulous's Olympic 'special' (and, I use the word 'special' quite wrongly) attracted 5.61m overnight viewers at 9.30pm. Even thought it was about as funny as a kick in the cock, hard, with a steel capped-boot. Actually, to be fair, that's probably being a tad harsh. To steel capped-boots everywhere. Celebrating - if that's the right word - its twentieth anniversary, the sitcom's previous Christmas and New Year's specials pulled in 7.4m and 7.1m respectively. This blogger resigned in protest from the human race, but I don't think it did much good. Olympics-themed programming aired elsewhere in BBC1's schedule, with a one-off A Question of Sport being watched by 3.53m at 8.30pm, and late-night Tom Daley documentary Diving for Britain gaining 2.89m. EastEnders provided the channel's most-watched broadcasts with 7.6m and 7.3m for its double-bill, which contained live scenes. Despite showing ninety minutes of soaps, ITV played a poor second fiddle to BBC1 in primetime, as Superstar continued to crash and burn drawing a thoroughly piss-poor audience of 2.59m from 9pm. Earlier, 2.51m watched Countrywise at 8pm. University Challenge led BBC2's night with 2.17m at 8pm, after which The Hairy Bakers (1.24m), Horizon (1.9m) and a repeat of Qi (1.44m) all performed respectably. Ruby Wax's Mad Confessions launched on Channel Four with a mere seven hundred and thirty thousand, whilst Location, Location, Location returned with 1.23m at 8pm. Meanwhile, Big Brother underperformed with nine hundred and ninety five thousand punters for Channel Five at 9pm. Overall, BBC1 secured a rare Monday night victory with 22.9 per cent of the audience share versus ITV's 19.8 per cent.

BBC1's audience for Wallander dropped on Sunday night, probably as a result of the return of hot weather, overnight data indicates. The Swedish crime drama adaptation, starring Sir Kenneth Branagh, fell to 4.44m in the 9pm hour, down eight hundred thousand overnight viewers week-on-week and a sizeable two million punters on its premiere a fortnight ago. Elsewhere on the channel, Casualty's weekend double bill concluded with 4.38m at 8.10pm, prior to which Countryfile nabbed 5.03m. Meanwhile, Engineering Giants (1.44m) and World's Most Dangerous Roads (1.67m) delivered more than decent ratings to BBC2. Twatting About On Ice Goes Gold, an Olympics 'special' (and, again, I use that word quite wrongly) of the risible ITV skating show, was watched by 3.77m crushed victims of society between 8pm and 10pm. Which was hilarious. Britain's Secret Treasures ended with 2.42m in the 7pm hour. Overall, BBC1 bagged a convincing primetime win with twenty two per cent of the audience share against ITV which averaged 14.3 per cent. Earlier, Bradley Wiggins crossing the finish line to become the first Briton to win the Tour De France attracted a peak audience of 3.6 million viewers on ITV and ITV4 on Sunday afternoon. Wiggins's moment of triumph attracted a five-minute peak audience of 2.6 million viewers for live coverage on ITV from 4.20pm, with another one million watching the simulcast on ITV4. ITV decided to simulcast ITV4's live coverage of the final day of the Tour De France on its main channel, with the programme attracting an overall average audience of just over two million viewers. ITV averaged 1.4 million viewers between 2pm and 5pm. The previous Sunday a Columbo repeat on ITV averaged 1.1 million viewers in more or less the same slot. ITV4's live Tour De France coverage was one hundred and forty per cent up on the channel's average share in the Sunday afternoon slot over the past three months. Wiggins and Team Sky's exploits not surprisingly helped ITV4 enjoy its best ever Tour De France ratings, averaging three hundred and eighteen viewers for live coverage, and six hundred and twenty thousand for the nightly highlights show. On a busy day for major sporting events, ITV's Tour De France programming was up against Golf: The Open on BBC1 (12.35pm-7pm: 2.4 million) and Sky Sports F1's live coverage of the German Grand Prix (11.30am-4.15pm: nine hundred thousand).

And, still on the subject of rating,s here's the Top Twenty consolidated figures figures for week ending 15 July 2012:
1 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 9.14m
2 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 8.25m
3 Emmerdale - ITV Mon - 6.97m*
4 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 6.17m
5 Wallander - BBC1 Sun - 5.78m
6 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 5.35m
7 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 4.81m
8 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Wed - 4.71m
9 DIY SOS: The Big Build - BBC1 Wed - 4.54m
10 Film: Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom - BBC1 Sat - 4.45m
11= Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 4.42m
11= Case Sensitive - ITV Thurs - 4.42m*
13 The National Lottery: Secret Fortune - BBC1 Sat - 4.36m
14 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 4.29m
15 Mrs Brown's Boys - BBC1 Sat - 4.15m
16 Line Of Duty - BBC2 - 4.12m
17 The ONE Show - BBC1 Tues - 3.95m
18 Traffic Cops - BBC1 Thurs - 3.87m
19 Antiques Roadshow - BBC1 Sun - 3.86m
20 Who Wants To be A Millionaire - ITV Mon - 3.83*
Those shows marked '*' do not include ITV HD figures which are unavailable. Line of Duty, however, does include BBC HD viewers.

MyAnna Buring has joined the cast of Downton Abbey. The actress will reportedly appear in special Christmas episodes later this year. Buring will play 'a feisty servant' named Edna in the period drama, reports The Sunday Times. Presumably one who will be horsewhipped through the streets for her impertinence towards her betters. Well, it is a Lord Snooty script, after all. In most of those, the working classes know their place - in the sodding gutter - or they suffer the consequences if they start to get ideas above their station. The actress is best known for her role in Twilight. 'You couldn't get two projects more different. I was thrilled when the Downton offer came,' she said. Bad Girls actress Simone Lahbib has also joined the cast as another servant. Whether she's an uppity one or not, ITV haven't said.

John and Carole Barrowman's novel The Hollow Earth is to be made into a television series. The rights have been taken up by Zodiak Kids UK and the show is being developed by its production company The Foundation. The writing duo said: 'We are so thrilled to have our TV rights in such good hands, we can’t wait to see all of Matt and Em's wild adventures and all their art come to life for viewers.'

A TV remake of yer actual Blake's 7 is currently in the works, it has been announced. A new version of the cult British SF soap opera is being developed by independent TV studio Georgeville Television, reports Deadline. The studio was recently founded by Motion Picture Capital's Leon Clarance and producer Marc Rosen. Rosen and Clarance have joined Casino Royale director Martin Campbell for the remake, along with Heroes writer Joe Pokaski. It is currently being shopped to potential US networks. The original series created by Terry Nation ran for four series on the BBC from 1978. Blake's 7 follows a -rather motley - group of criminals who are tried and convicted of their respective crimes, but manage to commandeer an abandoned alien spacecraft. They proceed to discover different cultures and species across the galaxy while on the run from their enemies trying to start a revolt against the hated Federation. A remake was originally planned by Sky1, but the idea was eventually dropped in 2010.

Danielle Bux has reportedly landed a role in BBC1 drama Silent Witness. The Welsh model and wife of Gary Lineker will guest star as 'an investigative journalist' (presumably one who doesn't wear much in the way of clothing) in the crime drama starring Emilia Fox, reports the Sun. So, almost certainly a load of lies, in that case. The role, if it turns out to be true, would be Bux's dramatic debut on television, having previously appeared on the likes of Hell's Kitchen and Loose Women. Last week, Lineker had tweeted about his wife's acting role, saying: 'Got man 'flu. And no Mrs L around to give me the sympathy that women are always so generous with at these times. Danielle Bux is not here in Mallorca as she is filming an episode of Silent Witness. Nothing untoward!' Silent Witness will return for a sixteenth series on BBC1 in 2013.

Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws have granted unprecedented access to the club for a new documentary series, Being Liverpool, which will be broadcast in the UK on Channel Five. So, Premier Passions: The Next Generation, basically. Well, at least it should be funny. Or, if they follow Steve Gerrard and Andy Carroll on a night out, packed with incident. The six-part series will follow the players and management team and will be part of Channel Five's autumn schedule. Kenny Dalglish's departure as manager will be at the start of the documentary - and one desperately hopes they had the cameras running when the sour-faced Scotsman was actually told the news that his services were no longer required and ordered to never darken their door again - before it focuses on the arrival of new boss Brendan Rodgers and the pressures and spotlight on the players at the club. Scott Boggins, who previously worked on HBO's Emmy-winning 24/7 series, is shooting the project. Let's hope his shooting is a bit more accurate than the Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws was last season when this, supposed, 'top four' club (in their own minds, at least) finished eighth and weren't even the top club in Liverpool. Katie Keenan, head of acquisitions at Channel Five, said: 'It's an incredible coup and an incredible show for Channel Five - this kind of access to a club just doesn't usually happen. The audience will get an amazing insight into Liverpool FC that they will never have had before.' FOX's David Nathanson added: 'We are pleased to partner with Channel Five to bring Being Liverpool to football fans in the United Kingdom. This is a global television event that will be seen by fans of the beautiful game everywhere, and we are proud to produce a project of this scale.'

Security firm G4S is being replaced at St James' Park in Newcastle and will not manage Olympic football matches taking place there. Instead local companies will be contracted to patrol the stadium due to a 'significant shortfall' in G4S staff, Newcastle City Council said. It said games organiser LOCOG had approached the council to help fill the gaps created by 'logistical issues.' The first football match will take place at St James' on Thursday. A LOCOG spokesperson said it was in discussion with several companies about providing security for the venue. The G4S staff who were working at the stadium will now be deployed to a hotel in Gateshead, where Olympic football teams are staying, and the football training ground. The LOCOG spokesperson said: 'Because of issues with deployment of G4S staff, LOCOG has asked the company to focus on providing security for the football hotels and training grounds in Newcastle but not for St James' Park.' Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: 'We were very concerned last week that G4S would not have all their people in the right place at the right time. I hope this will not be repeated at different venues around the country. We should be very careful as to who we put in charge of securing Olympic venues and those who will have responsibility for this will have had the training that is necessary.' Newcastle City Council was approached by LOCOG to put it in touch with companies who could supply security last week. Steven Savage, from the council, said: 'The vetting procedure has been security industry approved and [checks] are thorough. Many of the staff will have worked in very similar situations and there will be a heavy briefing days before the games.' The council said about five hundred staff from the North East would patrol the fifty two thousand-seat stadium, check bags, marshal spectators and carry out routine public safety and security functions. Northumbria Police officers were called in to provide extra Olympic security at Gateshead's Hilton Hotel after G4S failed to supply enough staff on 16 July.

A New York cafe has been criticised for charging customers for tap water. Molecule, a water-only cafe in East Village, prices tap water at a substantial $2.50, reports Metro. Most Americans can expect to receive free tap water upon request at restaurants. However, Molecule's owners pointed out that the establishment's tap water is filtered through a twenty thousand dollar machine. Listen, for two bucks fifty, I'd want water in a gold cup with beer in it. Co-owner Adam Ruhf said: 'It's about treating water a little more consciously, mindfully and respectfully.' For an extra charge, waiters also offer to sweeten up the customer's beverage with vitamins. 'Our supplements are based on medicinal herbs and roots from around the world,' Ruhf added. The company plans to diversify the business by bottling the tap water and delivering it.

Frank Pierson, who won an Oscar for his screenplay of the 1975 Al Pacino film Dog Day Afternoon, has died aged eighty seven. His family said he died of natural causes at a Los Angeles hospital after a short illness. Pierson was also Oscar-nominated for his screenplays for the 1967 Paul Newman prison drama Cool Hand Luke and the 1965 western Cat Ballou. More recently, he worked as a writer and producer on TV shows Mad Men and The Good Wife. After three seasons on Mad Men, he had been expected to return for the show's sixth run next year. Best known for Dog Day Afternoon - based on a real-life bank heist in Brooklyn - Pierson wrote the famous moment when Pacino shouted 'Attica!' outside the bank in reference to the Attica prison riot in Atlanta in 1971. He also wrote and directed Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson's film musical, A Star Is Born, as well as a number of other TV movies. As well as writing, Pierson served two terms as president of the Writers Guild of America West, and was president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, from 2001 to 2005. 'Young rock 'n' rollers always look to the old bluesmen as models of how to keep their art strong and rebellious into older years. For screenwriters, Frank has been our old blues master for a long time,' said Phil Robinson, Academy governor of the writers branch. 'He's always shown us - better than anyone else - how to do it with class, grace, humour, strength, brilliance, generosity and a joyful tenacity.' Actor Tom Hiddleston also paid tribute on Twitter, saying: 'Frank Pierson, the writer of Dog Day Afternoon and Cool Hand Luke, and one of the first film-makers to give me a break, has died.' The British star had an early role in Pierson's 2001 TV drama Conspiracy, also starring Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci. Frank was born in Chappaqua, the son of Louise Randall, a writer, and Harold C Pierson. Pierson's parents, family and their lives, were the subject of the 1945 film Roughly Speaking, starring Rosalind Russell and Jack Carson. Frank attended Harvard. He got his break in Hollywood in 1958 as scripted editor for Have Gun, Will Travel and moved on to write for the television series Naked City, Route 66 and others. Renowned film critic Roger Ebert commented that Pierson was 'a writer, director, movie industry statesman, and good man.' Pierson is survived by his wife, two children and five grandchildren.

Russell Crowe is to direct his first full-length film - a biopic about the life of the satirist Bill Hicks. The Oscar-winner will be working on the movie with old school friend Mark Staufer, who has written the script. Crowe had been tipped to play the lead but has opted for directorial duties instead. Production is due to start next year, but there is no word yet who will play the iconic comedian. 'It is a huge role for someone, made all the more scary by the fact the director is an Oscar-winning actor like Russell,' Staufer said. Hicks died of pancreatic cancer in 1994.

On which bombshell, we reach Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. Here's Ed Hamell and the greatest song about Bill Hicks ever written. (All right, it's just about the only one but, what'ya gonna do?!)