Saturday, September 15, 2012

From The Liverpool Docks To The Hollywood Bowl

The BBC have confirmed that the fourth episode of the current series of Doctor Who, The Power of Three, will be broadcast on BBC1 at 7:30pm on Saturday 22 September. As in previous weeks, the episode will face competition on ITV from risible game show flop Red or Black? and The X Factor; on the other main channels, BBC2 continues its - seemingly endless - run of Dad's Army repeats (yet they only made eighty episodes - go figure), Channel Four launch a new dating game show called Baggage (which sounds appalling, frankly), whilst Channel Five travels to the wild west in the film Maverick. Three new images have been released to promote the Doctor Who episode, which features guest star Jemma Redgrave who plays the role of Kate Stewart. A variety of additional new images will be revealed next week. The BBC have also published synopsis details for the finale of the current batch of Doctor Who episodes, The Angels Take Manhattan, which is due to be broadcast on BBC1 on Saturday 29 September. The broadcast time of the episode is yet to be confirmed, and will be finalised next week: 'The Doctor's heart-breaking farewell to Amy and Rory - a race against time through the streets of Manhattan, as New York's statues come to life around them. With Rory's life in danger, the Doctor and Amy must locate him before it's too late! Luckily, an old friend helps them and guides the way.'

Anyway, now the most important question asked on Friday night's TV. So, Victoria, why was the march hare so important to The Aztecs?
If you want to find out the answer, dear blog reader, Qi may provide it. Or, it may not.

BBC1's Good Cop was soundly beaten by ITV's The Bletchley Circle at 9pm on Thursday night, according to overnight data. The ITV drama managed 4.26m to win the hour, with a further three hundred and twenty thousand punters watching on timeshift. In the same slot, Good Cop was watched by 3.51m viewers. On BBC2, Wartime Farm grabbed 2.43m, Hilary Devey's Women at the Top was seen by seven hundred and seventy thousand from 9pm and Mock the Week had 1.6m viewers at 10pm. Channel Four's Location, Location, Location earned 1.82m from 8pm. Overall, BBC1 won primetime with 20.1 per cent of the total audience share ahead of ITV's 18.2 per cent.

This year's three Celebrity MasterChef finalists have been announced. Former England footballer and skinhead Danny Mills, author and actress Emma Kennedy and TV presenter Michael Underwood will compete to be crowned Celebrity MasterChef champion in the final shows due to be broadcast next week. Throughout the semi-final week, the remaining eight celebrities had to demonstrate their creativity, skill and determination as they prepared meals for customers on a cross-channel ferry, cooked their own dish based on someone close to them and took part in lunchtime service in a top London restaurant. One by one the contestants were sent home, until only Kennedy, Underwood, Mills and radio presenter Jamie Theakston remained. Theakston was eliminated after his main course of Asian salmon with coconut and lime rice and dessert of mascarpone mousse in a tropical soup failed to impress the panel of experts - Observer food and restaurant critic Jay Rayner, restaurant critic for the Independent Magazine Tracey MacLeod and acclaimed food writer, lard bucket and Peter Griffin lookalike Charles Campion. The final challenges will see the contestants providing lunch for the ninety-strong cast and crew of BBC drama New Tricks, attempting to recreate world-renowned pastry chef Claire Clark's three-tiered chocolate celebration cake and preparing a fine dining three-course dinner to honour staff who worked at Bletchley Park during WWII. Each will then have to cook a three-course menu for some of the country's most respected chefs under the guidance of Michelin-starred chef Alexis Gauthier, before presenting their three courses to judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.

Good old Mad as Toast Brian Blessed will voice the Nekross King in upcoming CBBC drama Wizards Vs Aliens. The action adventure show from Russell Davies and Phil Ford launches this autumn. 'Wizards Vs Aliens is hugely exciting and has a feeling of total originality,' Blessed said. 'It is full of vision and brilliance. The earthly realistic scenes are so heartfelt and moving, and they contrast vividly with the universal feel of the Nekross King and his subjects. I find the whole concept miraculous and I am thrilled to be part of such an exciting project.' Wizards Vs Aliens centres around the battle between magic and science as a sixteen-year-old boy enters the battle between the magic-feeding aliens the Nekross against Earth's wizards for the last remaining magic in the universe. Davies has previously called the BBC Cymru Wales production a 'wild, funny, thrilling and sometimes scary collision of magic and science fiction.' He added: 'Wizards have never met aliens before, and when they do, the result is spectacular! The mysterious Nekross know exactly what to do with magicians. Eat them! Let battle be joined!'

The first episode of the new series of X Factor USA was watched by an average 8.5 million viewers - down about 3.5 million on last year's opening show. Scheduled opposite two rival talent shows, it lost out in the ratings war. Eleven million tuned in to watch the finale of America's Got Talent, while 10.7 million watched The Voice. The second series of X Factor USA sees Britney Spears and Demi Lovato join the judging panel alongside Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads and LA Reid. The Voice was a last minute addition to the broadcasting schedule, after NBC bosses decided to air the new series' third episode in direct competition with Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's show. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads complained last week about the move, calling it a 'spoiling tactic' and 'mean-spirited.' Which is, of course, a little bit rich coming from Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads given some of the tactics his own shows have used against, for instance, BBC opposition in the past in Britain. Despite the lower ratings, critics and fans were impressed with the contributions of Spears and Lovato, especially Spears's cutting remarks to underperforming contestants. 'I felt like I was listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks,' she told one, while she informed another: 'It was just kind of bad.' Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker said: 'She did just fine, rattling off a variety of No's to the punching-bag mediocrities the producers let in for comic relief, and offering sensibly measured praise and a few out-and-out raves the rest of the time.' People magazine said: 'Spears still has a lot of charm in her expressive mouth - and eyes that easily convey whatever emotion the moment requires. She has simple, undeniable physicality.' MTV's Gil Kaufman said of the opening show: 'Pound-for-pound, Wednesday night's two-hour season two premiere of The X Factor packed more emotional highs and lows into just two audition segments than most one-hour dramas manage in an entire episode.' And USA Today said of Lovato: 'As the only judge too young to drink, she related well to the teenage contestants, complimenting them on their glitter, cuteness, lipstick and stage presence.'

On Thursday the BBC unveiled changes to its international news operation, as part of the launch of the 'world's newsroom.' The changes involve the corporation bringing together its commercially-funded television and digital international news operations for the first time. Multimedia journalists will now work on both broadcast and digital output alongside each other, putting out material in twenty seven different languages. The state-of-the-art studios for BBC World News will go live this autumn, said the BBC. The BBC's news website will take on a responsive design, meaning it is optimised for different viewing platforms, resizing the content for smartphones, tablets and feature phones. Responsive technology was recently adopted by Channel Four News for its website. Jim Egan has been appointed as the chief operating officer of the newly-created BBC Global News Ltd, which will operate the commercially-funded BBC News website and BBC World News services. The new company will also oversee the weather and sport areas of Joining Egan is Richard Porter, who will act as controller for English, taking on all editorial responsibility. According to Egan, the changes were designed to 'unlock new multimedia opportunities' by bringing together the BBC's expertise in digital, social media and TV together in one place 'to serve audiences across all platforms.' Egan, formerly director of strategy at media regulator Ofcom, will report to the BBC's director of global news Peter Horrocks. 'This isn't simply about running our TV channel and website together,' said Egan. 'We are entering an age where old definitions of channels and websites are breaking down - this is about the BBC's commitment to delivering the world's best quality international journalism, in text and in video, in an integrated way to all the screens our audiences use for their news. We are confident these announcements will cement the BBC's place in that digital future and our role in informing and connecting the world.' BBC World News broadcasts in more than two hundred countries, reaching over three hundred and thirty million households and 1.8m hotel rooms, as well as being available on one hundred and fifty cruise ships, forty airlines and twenty three mobile phone networks. It operates from the new BBC News studios in the refurbished Broadcasting House in London.
Hugh Grant, a leading celebrity campaigner against press intrusion into private lives, has joined the ranks of those seeking damages from News International over alleged Scum of the World phone-hacking and has vowed to give any money he gets to 'helping fellow victims.' Grant's claim was lodged at the high court on Thursday, twenty four hours ahead of the 14 September deadline for further civil damages claims, set by the judge presiding over cases already filed by dozens of celebrities and public figures including Cherie Blair and Wayne Rooney. Grant has been at the vanguard of calls to stop invasion of privacy by paparazzi and louse scum journalists. Last month he became a director of a new not-for-profit company set up by Hacked Off, the group which campaigns against press intrusion, after being a leading supporter for more than a year. While the Four Weddings and a Funeral actor played a leading and early role, along with Steve Coogan and Sienna Miller, in forcing the Metropolitan police to disclose evidence to phone-hacking victims, he has not taken legal action before this. News International is expected to face about one hundred new claims for phone-hacking damages in total by Friday's deadline. Former Oasis manager and Creation Records creator Alan McGee has also lodged a claim against News International. Papers filed at the high court show that Father Reardon, Charlotte Church's priest, is one of fourteen new cases registered against News International in the last week in time for Mr Justice Vos's deadline. Reardon, who works in Cardiff, was a close confidant to the Church family during 2002 and 2006. Church accepted three hundred thousand smackers compensation and a similar amount towards her legal costs in a settlement earlier this year. At the time she said that reporters and photographers working for News International had 'immersed themselves' in her life and the lives of her family, friends, and other confidants. She said she was 'sickened and disgusted' by what they did and that she felt News International 'are not truly sorry, only sorry they got caught.' Others who have filed damages claims in the last week include TV presenter Chris Tarrant, former EastEnders actor Sid Owen, Darren Day and the Labour party's regional organiser Hilary Perrin. Mayfair estate agent Gary Hersham is also suing News International as is Edwina Pitman, who worked at the Chris Beetles art gallery in London. She believes the Scum of the World targeted her because her boss was friendly with convicted perjurer Jeffrey Archer who frequented the gallery, according to her lawyer. News International is also accused of hacking the phone of Mehul Shagur Mehta, who may have been targeted when the Scum of the World was hacking the phone of John Prescott's former special adviser Joan Hammell, who got damages of forty thousand knicker from the publisher earlier this year. Others listed as new claimants are David Brooks, Lisa Higson, and an Edward Hynds. The new claims have been filed since Vos was told at a high court case management conference last Friday that sixty eight new claims had already been lodged for the second tranche of lawsuits faced by News International because of alleged hacking. Hugh Tomlinson QC, counsel for phone-hacking victims, told Vos another 'thirty to forty' claims were expected by Friday's deadline. High profile figures including Cherie Blair, Wayne Rooney and Sol Campbell are among those who have already lodged claims for a trial designed to set a tariff for damages. News International has already paid out mucho wonga in more than fifty cases including the families of murder victims including Shaun Russell and Sara Payne, and celebrities including Jude Law, Miller and Coogan.

The police watchdog may be asked whether officers involved in the Hillsborough disaster should face manslaughter investigations. The Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, David Crompton, said the force was looking into a number of issues to refer to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. An independent report into the tragedy found police tried to blame Liverpool fans for the crush on 15 April 1989. The IPCC is said to be 'reviewing' the report. Crompton said the issues the force may refer could include corporate manslaughter and misconduct in public office. He also said questions should be raised about why the earlier Lord Justice Stuart-Smith report, which looked into the alteration of police statements, was accepted. The victims' families have always challenged the original inquest, which concluded all the victims were dead or brain dead fifteen minutes after the game had kicked-off at three o'clock. Crompton, speaking at a South Yorkshire Police Authority meeting in Barnsley, said: 'Clearly, there may be potential for corporate manslaughter, given some of the detail which came out the other day. That relates, of course, to how things were handled on the day and the view taken about the 3.15 cut-off point. In addition to that, there may, again potentially, be the possibility of manslaughter investigations against individuals. Again, these are only potentials, these are things we are looking at at the moment, I'm not saying that these are definitely things which are to be referred to the IPCC.' Other areas that the force will be considering referring to the IPCC will be issues of misconduct in public office and leaking information to the media, he added. He confirmed there would be a referral to the police watchdog 'in the next couple of weeks.' West Yorkshire's police authority is also to investigate the role played by its current chief constable, Sir Norman Bettison. The former South Yorkshire officer, who was an off-duty inspector at the game, is coming under mounting pressure to resign after releasing a statement suggesting that fans made the job of the police 'more difficult' on the day of the tragedy. Unbelievably, when speaking on Thursday, he still appeared to be pushing the party line that it was all the fan's fault: 'Fans behaviour, to the extent that it was relevant at all, made the job of the police, in the crush outside Leppings Lane turnstiles, harder than it needed to be.' But, perhaps realising what dodgy ground he was on, by Friday afternoon he released a second statement saying fans 'were in no way to blame for the disaster.' What a pity he didn't say that twenty three years ago, might have saved everybody a whole hell of a lot of distress. He said that he was 'sorry' if his first statement had 'caused further upset.' Which, obviously, it did. He added: 'My role was never to besmirch the fans. I did not do that. I am deeply sorry that impression and slight has lingered for twenty three years.' Earlier, John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire, said many of his constituents were at the game and is calling for Sir Norman to resign. 'I thought his position yesterday was rather shaky, but after the statement he made when he seemed to have a go again at the Liverpool fans, I think his position is untenable. He has got to go.' Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Sir Norman's comments about the Hillsborough disaster, were 'insensitive and ill-judged.' The Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has also asked Liverpool John Moores University to strip Sir Norman of an honorary fellowship conferred on him in 2004. A spokeswoman for the university said: 'This request will receive due consideration.' Deputy chairwoman of the IPCC, Deborah Glass, said the report raised 'extremely serious and troubling issues for the police.' She added: 'We are reviewing the panel's report and we are aware that South Yorkshire Police are also carrying out a detailed assessment of the report with a view to making a referral to the IPCC. We also await the decision by the Attorney General in respect of the inquests, and will liaise with the relevant parties to identify what should be investigated, and by whom.' The report was made public by the Hillsborough Independent Panel on Wednesday. Panel members, chaired by Bishop of Liverpool the Right Reverend James Jones, spent two years trawling through more than four hundred and fifty thousand documents relating to the disaster at the start of the FA Cup semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday's ground. Their report showed police amended one hundred and sixty four of the police statements made about the tragedy, with one hundred and sixteen of those substantially changed to remove or alter 'unfavourable' comments regarding the policing of the match. It also showed the lives of forty one of the ninety six victims could, potentially, have been saved if the response of the emergency services had been swifter.

Details of which television channels prisoners are allowed to watch in their cells have been revealed. Up until 2010 there was a clear gender divide - with sports news for men and US comedies and soaps for women. But Sky Sports News was dropped from the approved list when it became a subscription channel. Women can still watch entertainment channel E4 however. The Prison Service said inmates could only watch TV in their cells as 'a condition of good behaviour.' Some inmates of privately run prisons are given access Sky TV pay channels, while those in publicly-run prisons are restricted to free-to-air channels. Conservative MP for Shipley, odious right-wing louse Philip Davies asked the Ministry of Justice to provide details of how many prisoners had access to pay-to-view Sky TV in their cells. Some might wonder whether this disgraceful fraction of an individual doesn't have anything more important to do with his time. Like, for instance, make disgusting, apparently racially motivated comments to the Sun about Muslim, for instance. The department said that pay channels were not available to inmates in any public sector prisons, but some inmates were given access to nine free digital channels. These were decided at the time of the recent digital switchover on the basis of what channels were thought to be the most popular. BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel Four, Channel Five, ITV3, VIVA - a music channel - and Film4 were given to both men and women. The department consulted female prisoners as to whether they would prefer to have Sky Sports News, like the men, or E4 - which is run by Channel Four and known for reality shows like Made in Chelsea, soap opera Hollyoaks and US comedies like The Big Bang Theory. But a Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said Sky Sports News was cancelled when it stopped being a free-to-air channel. A Prison Service spokesperson said: 'In-cell televisions are funded by prisoners from rental payments. They can only watch free-to-air digital channels on small televisions. Individual prisons decide which channels are available and ensure they are suitable for viewing in a prison. Access to televisions is a condition of good behaviour. TVs can and will be removed from prisoners whose behaviour becomes unacceptable.' Prisons run by private companies, of which there are eleven in England and Wales, may provide Sky TV in prisoner's cells. Figures for the number of inmates with access to Sky TV in their cells rose from fifteen hundred in 2006 to four thousand in 2009.

Argos TV, the shopping channel extension of the UK retailer, is to launch on Freeview next week as part of a major revamp of the digital terrestrial TV guide. British catalogue retailer Argos launched its own shopping channel on Sky in June 2011, as the firm searched for new routes to market amid a 'significant decline' in sales. The channel expanded onto Freesat in October that year. On 19 September Argos TV will arrive on channel fifty five on the Freeview programme guide. Via the channel, viewers can, if they wish, purchase ... you know, stuff from Argos without the need to use one of the laminated books of dreams. 'As Argos continues to grow through Sky and Freesat, a launch onto Freeview is a natural extension to reach customers who are without access to the current channels - Sky six forty two and Freesat eight one nine,' a spokesperson for Argos said. 'Argos TV are delighted to be able to offer Freeview customers the opportunity to shop with them daily on Channel fifty five between 6pm and 11pm where it will showcase Argos products as well as offer a number of new and exclusive products.' The launch of Argos TV comes as DTT Multiplex Operators Limited, the Ofcom-licensed provider of Freeview EPG services, readies a major reshuffle of the guide that is used on eleven million main sets in the UK. From 19 September, Freeview channel number eight in England and Wales will be reserved for the new local TV networks due to launch in 2013, including the first confirmed stations in Brighton and Grimsby. Other changes include Dave moving from channel nineteen to twelve. Further changes announced in July are currently on hold pending the outcome of two appeals, including an objection from Sky to the moving of Sky News down the EPG to give greater space to entertainment networks.

Having a highly demanding job, but little control over it, could 'be a deadly combination,' UK researchers say. They analysed thirteen existing European studies covering nearly two hundred thousand people and found 'job strain' was linked to a twenty three per cent increased risk of heart attacks and deaths from coronary heart disease. And, in other totally unexpected news, apparently bears do shit in the woods and the Pope is Catholic. What a surprise, eh?

Meanwhile, the government has backed moves to end a ban on people who have had serious mental health issues being MPs, company directors or serving on juries. Whether this will have any impact on a few people already in parliament, we just don't know.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, what better than a sniff of Mott. Oh yes.