Monday, September 10, 2012

That Was When I Ruled The World

The third season of the BBC's Sherlock could be its last, reports that noted bastion of truth and factual reportage, the Sunday Scum Express. The forthcoming series of the BBC's massively popular detective drama is due to begin filming early next year for broadcast later in 2013 but, the Scum Express claim, the success of actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman 'could' mean that the new episodes will be 'their final outing' as Sherlock and John. 'Benedict and Martin love Sherlock,' an alleged - though suspiciously anonymous - 'insider' is quoted as saying. 'It's been fabulous for both of them but it's a question of schedules. They will no doubt be signing-off in style.' Now, it's perfectly possible there may be some truth in this assertion, dear blog reader - although the fact that several national newspapers ran more or less exactly the same story about a year ago shortly before the show's second series - claiming it 'could' be the drama's last - doesn't fill one with too much confidence about the alleged 'insider' and his or her alleged 'inside' knowledge. It's a little like the Mirra's recent - hysterically overblown - story about Matt Smith 'quitting' Doctor Who for pastures new (based on one-line in an interview where Matt talks about not 'being around forever') which bore an uncanny resemblance to a similar story the Sun ran two years, almost to the day, previously. That Sun piece quoted an - again, suspiciously nameless - 'pal' of Smudger claiming that Matt 'plans to quit after the next series.' And yet, curiously, the next series came and went (and, the one after) and Matt's still there. The moral being, I suppose, that if newspapers keep on printing such speculative stories for long enough, sooner or later they're bound to be right. One imagines the notoriously 'doesn't-suffer-fools-gladly' Sherlock showrunner Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) will have something to say, publicly, on this matter sooner rather than later. If only 'oh, go away!' Over the past year, both Sherlock actors have been busy filming Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy in New Zealand. Freeman plays central character Bilbo Baggins, while Cumberbatch playing the voice of the dragon, Smaug. Cumberbatch will also appear in the second of JJ Abrams's Star Trek films, which is due to be released in early 2013. The thirty six-year-old is currently starring in BBC period drama Parade's End. 'I need to have some more talks with [the writers] and tease them about the fact that I do have a career outside of Sherlock now,' he recently joked in an interview. 'So they'd better write something.' Which doesn't suggest someone actively looking for a way out. Could be wrong, of course. Stranger things have happened, dear blog reader. Just, not recently.

Meanwhile, yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch his very self has been forced to deny that he criticised the CBS series Elementary. In an interview with Shortlist, the actor was quoted as saying that he was 'a bit cynical' about the US series and apparently questioned the motives behind the casting of his Frankenstein co-star Jonny Lee Miller in the drama. However, Cumberbatch later told The Hollywood Reporter that he was 'bemused and upset' by the Shortlist 'misquote.' Now, given that this is, to this blogger's recollection, at least the third time that Benny has said something recently which has subsequently caused a kerfuffle and which he's, later, had to distance himself from by claiming he'd been 'misquoted' (the actor using a recent appearance on The ONE Show to clear up exactly what he meant by previous allegedly 'controversial' comments about Downton Abbey and the problems faced by 'posh' actors), it is starting to look like the problem might closer to home than previously thought. It could be an idea to think about potential consequences before you say what's on your mind, Benny. Seriously. Especially if you're talking to the Radio Times. 'It is baffling because I have only been supportive of an incredibly talented actor who I am proud to call a friend taking a job I know he is going to enjoy immensely and be wonderful in,' he said. 'I never said that Jonny took the job for the paycheck nor did I ask him not to do it. What I said is, I would have preferred not to be in the situation where we will again be compared because we are friends. I know for a fact his motivations were to do with the quality of the script and the challenges of this exceptional role.' Cumberbatch went on to argue that it would be 'ludicrous' to suggest that 'there can be only one Holmes' on television. 'Over seventy actors have played this exceptional character before us,' he said. 'We're both thrilled to get the opportunity to play him in a modern context. The world of Sherlock Holmes and the world that we live in now is big enough to take more than one interpretation. As a genuine Sherlock Holmes fan I am greatly looking forward to [Elementary].' And, there appears to be good reason to look forward to it, as the CBS series has reportedly cast the great Roger Rees in a guest role. The Welsh actor will play a pivotal figure from Holmes's past, Entertainment Weekly reports. Rees is currently only signed for a single appearance but his character may recur later in the first season of the Conan Doyle adaptation, which stars Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as his partner Joan Watson. The sixty eight-year-old, one of the great stage actors of his generation, is probably best known to dear blog reader for playing the rakish Lord John Marbury on The West Wing and for his role as Robin Colcord on sitcom Cheers. He also recently played a recurring role on Syfy's Warehouse Thirteen. Okay, so that's at least one reason why Elementary might be worth watching.

Doctor Who's latest episode Dinosaurs on a Spaceship had an audience Appreciation Index score of eighty seven, one of the highest on Saturday evening. The score is a measure of how much the audience enjoyed a particular episode - it is based of a survey of approximately five thousand people and measured out of one hundred. The score of eighty seven puts the programme into the 'excellent' category for the second week running. (Asylum of the Daleks got an impressive eighty nine.) Doctor Who scored higher than most Saturday evening shows, being beaten only by Last Night Of The Proms which scored ninety and Channel Four's coverage of the Paralympics with eighty eight. NCIS on Channel Five also scored highly, albeit with a much lower audience.
Last week's Doctor Who opener, Asylum of the Daleks, had a final, consolidated rating of 8.33m. The final figure includes all those who watched the programme as-live and, also, viewers who recorded the episode and watched it within seven days of transmission. This figure is a large increase on the initially estimated overnight figure, 6.4m - just under a two million timeshift - and gives the show a 34.4 per cent share of the total audience share. The figure, however, does not include those watching on BBC iPlayer, a number which will be announced separately at a later date.
And, on that self-same subject, here's the final, consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Five programmes for week ending 2 September 2012:-
1 The X Factor - ITV Sat - 9.36m
2 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 9.16m
3 New Tricks - BBC1 Mon - 8.52m
4 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 8.37m
5 Doctor Who - BBC1 Sat - 8.33m
6 Paralympics 2012: Opening Ceremony - C4 Wed - 7.78m
7 Inspector George Gently - BBC1 Sun - 6.74m
8 Emmerdale - ITV Mon - 6.70m
9 BBC News - BBC1 Mon - 6.24m
10 Accused - BBC Tues - 5.18m
11 Mrs Brown's Boys - BBC1 Fri - 5.14m
12 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 5.11m
13 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 4.96m
14 Edinburgh Military Tattoo - BBC1 Mon - 4.90m
15 Good Cop - BBC1 Thurs - 4.82m
16 The Great British Bake Off - BBC2/BBC HD Tues - 4.75m
17 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 4.66m
18 Who Do You Think You Are? - BBC1 Wed - 4.58m
19 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Fri - 4.48m
20 Cash Britain - BBC1 Fri - 4.25m
21 Miranda - BBC1 Fri - 4.25m
22 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Wed - 4.25m
23 Waterloo Road - BBC1 Thurs - 4.05m
24 Match of the Day - BBC1 Sat - 3.95m
25 ITV News - ITV Mon - 3.51m
All programmes include HD figures.

Red or Black? is reportedly 'facing the axe' from ITV. Oh dear. How very, very sad. Anyway ... The risible, odious, wretched Ant and/or Dec game show fiasco struggled in the ratings for its first series last year - despite ITV's utterly mendacious efforts to paint it as a success - and has proved to be an even greater embarrassing flop in its second series, despite giving out one and a half million smackers in prize money on Saturday. ITV 'bosses' have allegedly stated that they 'can't continue to cover' the show's high costs, while Ant and/or Dec their very selves are said to be looking to 'focus on other projects'. At least, this is according to the Sun who, amusingly, describe the show as 'telly turkey'. Yeah, that sounds about right. I know it's the Sun dear blog reader but, let's face it, even a broken clock is right twice a day. The first and, especially, the second series of Red or Black? have averaged audiences well below ITV's  expectations. Ant and/or Dec have reportedly told 'friends' that they do not like pre-recording Red Or Black? as they prefer to present their shows live. 'Ant and/or Dec have a huge, loyal fanbase but if a format doesn't interest people then there is only so much they can do,' an alleged 'source' allegedly said. 'They have done two series and it still hasn't worked. They're not jumping up and down about it, but it's highly unlikely they'll make more.'

And, still on the subject of yer actual super-soaraway Sun, you know how yer actual Keith Telly Topping predicted some 'X Factor in ratings crisis'-style headlines in yesterday's blog, dear blog reader? Well, as it happens ... Oh, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads! You've lost the Sun now. How much worse can it get?

It looks like David Tennant his very self forgot his speedos™ for a day out at the beach, of late. The former Doctor Who actor was a bit too busy for sunbathing on the Dorset sands, however, as he was filming eight-part ITV drama Broadchurch. It follows events that unfold when the body of a young boy washes up on the shore. The show sees new Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (Tennant) presiding over an investigation that 'sends shockwaves through an idyllic seaside town.'
Colin Salmon is one of the latest signings to Strictly Come Dancing. Salmon, who appeared in Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day, is reported to be one of the final names to be lined-up for the ballroom dance show. The Hollywood actor, who was once voted in People magazine's Fifty Most Beautiful People in the World list, has also appeared as One in the Resident Evil film franchise. His TV credits include [spooks], Doctor Who, Strike Back and Law & Order UK. Olympic medal winners Louis Smith and Queen Victoria Pendleton will also be taking part in the new series of Strictly Come Dancing. The remaining eight celebrity contestants will be unveiled later. The celebrities' dance partners will be announced when the show begins on Saturday. Cyclist - and stone dead fox - Pendleton, who won a gold and a silver medal at London 2012, has now retired from the sport. The thirty one-year-old had previously spoken of her desire to take part in the BBC1 dancing contest. Her agent confirmed her appearance on Twitter, writing: 'Victoria IS doing Strictly - pretty exciting and no doubt she'll work at it to become a very good dancer. That's what athletes do.' Gymnast Smith won a silver medal in the pommel horse event and a bronze in the team event. The twenty three-year-old previously displayed his singing talents as a contestant on The X Factor in 2008.

Sheridan Smith has said she believes her starring role in Mrs Biggs is 'a challenge.' The thirty one-year-old actress, known best for roles in Two Pints of Lager, Benidorm, Jonathan Creek and Gavin & Stacey, believes ITV's Great Train Robbery drama provides her with a more 'sophisticated' part as Charmian Biggs, the wife of the hapless Ronnie. She told What's on TV: 'It's really grown-up for me. I don't usually get to play sophisticated women, I usually play the scruffs, the chavs and the slappers. Although I've loved the roles I've played, it's been so nice they've given me this opportunity and it's scary, you feel a bit out your comfort zone, but I'm loving every minute.'

Scotland Yard has referred new files in relation to seven individuals, including four journalists, to the Crown Prosecution Service for charging advice following investigations into alleged phone-hacking and illegal and naughty payment to police and other public officials. The latest referrals all took place in August, but had not been publicised by the Metropolitan police till the Gruniad Morning Star seemingly found out about them and snitch'd up the gaff, like a dirty, stinkin' Copper's Nark, and no mistake. Among the files now being assessed by the CPS is one in relation to Operation Sacha, the investigation which gave rise to the first set of charges laid against well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, her husband millionaire Old Etonian Charlie and some other people for alleged conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The CPS said this file is in relation to 'one member of the public.' The CPS is also considering charging advice involving two members of the public in relation to allegations of money laundering. This is a file from Operation Weeting, the Met's inquiry into allegations of phone-hacking at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World 'and, possibly, other newspapers' say the Gruniad suggesting they know something we don't. They go on to stage that on 30 August, the CPS was handed two files in relation to Operation Elveden, the police investigation into alleged illegal payments to police, prison officers and other public officials for stories. The CPS said one file was for charging advice involving two journalists in relation to allegations of 'misconduct in public office.' The other file relates to two journalists and two public officials, also in relation to allegations of misconduct in public office. This brings the number of referrals to the CPS from the police inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal at News International to fifteen. The total number of arrests made so far is twenty five under Operation Weeting, forty three under Elveden and eleven under Tuleta.
Millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks, husband of former News International chief executive and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah, may be facing a charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice (alongside his wife) and, if convicted, a potentially lengthy jail term, but it hasn't stopped him giving newspaper interviews. With a book to sell, he has spoken to The Sunday Times (a News International title, of course), which was published over the weekend under the headline, Founder member of the Chipping Norton Upset. Brooks - who denies the charges against both himself and his wife - claims that the 'Upset' is 'a family in-joke,' a response to the claim that the couple are part of the so-called Chipping Norton set, which he calls 'a figment of one journalist's imagination.' The day before the interview, well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks had appeared at Westminster magistrates court on a separate charge - conspiracy to intercept communications without lawful authority. She was remanded on bail. Millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks says in the interview: 'A day like yesterday felt like nothing. It was just, oh Rebekah was in court being charged with phone-hacking. We've become so weathered to it we hardly bother to talk about it.' He also refers to his and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah's arrest at 5.45am one morning earlier this year: 'It was March, first day of the Cheltenham Festival. Baby asleep. Eighteen of them [police]. They came running up the stairs shouting their heads off. It felt like a very over-the-top operation. The nanny was totally traumatised.' Yeah, well, that's what the police usually do when they go to arrest people they believe to be criminals, Chas. Are you saying you'd like to be treated differently from the average bank robber? Brooks moves on to talk about the couple's daughter, Scarlett, who was born in January, with the use of a surrogate mother. He explains that the mother was a 'very selfless' friend. He says: 'IVF is a tough thing to get through. Very tough for the woman — because you're injecting yourself — and, obviously, if it's very tough for the woman it's quite tough for the person with the woman.' And it took place during the phone hacking crisis? 'She's very tough, Rebekah.' Her husband claims he thinks it 'hilarious' that people viewed the baby's birth as a ploy to make them look more human and caring. 'The idea that we could conjure one up, that we would go, "Let's have a baby to soften Rebekah's image" — no chance.' Brooks says the past year hasn't been all misery: 'I've been amazed by how incredibly supportive people have been.' But, interviewer Giles Hattersley interjects, quite a lot of people hate you. 'Yeah, I'm sure,' says Brooks, dismissively. 'But a lot of people don't know the true story yet.' He then speaks about the Brookes' legal battles: 'I am one hundred per cent confident. I would be disappointed if, pre-court, [the Crown Prosecution Service] decided not to pursue charges against Rebekah for phone-hacking. That's not resolution, that's not putting the record straight. You'd never be able to clear your name unless it goes through a court.' Brooks believes that his wife has 'a big career in front of her. She has extraordinary clarity of thought. She's got this power to see around the corner. I think, in a way, this will turn out to be a great opportunity for her. While this bit might be a bit traumatic, I actually think she'll look back and think, "That was the catalyst that made me have the second half of my life." I think that will be the case and will be a good thing.' For the record, Brooks's book Switch is a spy novel which is being published this week by Blue Door, an imprint of HarperCollins (curiously, another News Corporation company). Asked about a likely mauling from the critics, Brooks says: 'I'm not too worried about the reviews. If they're shit, I'll just tell myself they're shit because I'm a target at the moment.' But then, millionaire Old Etonian Charlie Brooks is exceedingly rich.

A peak audience of 7.7 million people tuned in to watch the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games in the UK on Channel Four on Sunday. The finale, described as a 'festival of flame', featured a cast of around twelve hundred people. And Coldplay, so it wasn't all good. It was the most-watched programme on TV between 21:00 and 23:00, beating both Inspector George Gently on BBC1 (4.78m) and ITV drama The Scapegoat (a very disappointing two million). The broadcast helped make Channel Four the most-watched channel across the day. But the ratings were down on the peak of 11.2 million who had tuned in for the Paralympics Opening Ceremony eleven days earlier. Channel Four's coverage of the closing event, which ran from 19:00 to 23:10, was watched by an average of 5.9 million people across the four hours. Meanwhile The X Factor's overnight ratings fell below eight million as the second audition show of the weekend was damaged by the Closing Ceremony. The ITV talent show continued to struggle to find its usual bumper ratings figures and dropped to a total average audience of 7.395m (plus an additonal four hundred and sixty four thousand on ITV+1).

British stars of the Olympics and Paralympics are due to celebrate their success during a victory parade through the streets of Central London on Monday. Tens of thousands are expected to watch the parade which comes after the London 2012 Paralympics Closing Ceremony. Sunday's show, which celebrated ancient British festivals, included an official handover to 2016 host Rio de Janeiro and was 'highlighted', if that's the right word, by turgid, monotonous, dirge-like Coldplay - with their nasty, mortgage-sensible rock. Offensive, so it was. And, those poor Paralympicans - it's not bad enough that they have their own problems to deal with without having to suffer from an hour of Coldplay as well. The Independent found room to show its musical sensibilities in its review of the event. Its front page leads with a nod to The Smiths, with the headline: There is a flame that will never go out. Inside, page five carries a review of Coldplay's  set, summing up their contributions as: 'By this final night of the Paralympics, Coldplay are all that are left: the bland, blunted version of our nation we first feared would be hurled at the world.' Damn straight. Although, it could have been worse, they could have hired Sting instead. The ceremony ended what organisers said had been 'the greatest Paralympic Games ever.' And, they were, once again, correct. Proper good, so it's been. On Monday, about eight hundred British Olympic and Paralympic athletes - including Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Hannah Cockcroft and Jonnie Peacock - are set to travel on twenty one open-top floats, grouped in alphabetical order by their sport. Organisers have warned there will be extensive road closures around the route of the parade, which starts from Guildhall, in the City of London, at 13:30 and ends at the Mall. The celebrations include a flypast over The Mall, while a big screen at the base of Nelson's Column, with live commentary. London Mayor - and hairdo - Boris Johnson said: 'This summer our great city has hosted an unbelievable spectacle of sport and thousands will want to celebrate the achievements of our athletes by coming to the parade. It promises to be an incredible afternoon but I do want to remind people coming that we expect the route to be extremely busy and planning ahead is absolutely crucial if they are going to be able to make the most of their day.' Sunday's Paralympics Closing Ceremony, described as a 'festival of flame,' also saw disabled and non-disabled dancers performed with flames around the burning face of a 'Sun King.' Declaring the 2012 Paralympics closed, International Paralympic Committee president, Sir Philip Craven, said: 'These games have changed us all forever.' As Sunday's ceremony drew to a close, Paralympians Ellie Simmonds and Jonnie Peacock helped to put out the Paralympic flame, which was shared out across the stadium symbolising 'the eternal nature of the flame living among us all.' Each participating country will take home one of the two hundred copper petals that made up the Paralympic cauldron. Speaking to the eighty thousand-strong crowd, organising committee chairman Lord Coe said Britain would 'never think of sport the same way and we will never think of disability the same way. The Paralympians have lifted the cloud of limitation.' He added: 'Finally, there are some famous words you can find stamped on the bottom of a product. Words, that when you read them, you know mean high quality, mean skill, mean creativity. We have stamped those words on the Olympic and Paralympic games of London 2012. "Made in Britain."' Craven said the games had been 'unique and without doubt, in my mind and those of the athletes - the greatest Paralympic games ever.' David Weir and Sarah Storey, who both won four gold medals, carried the British flag into the stadium, as flagbearers representing one hundred and sixty four nations participating in the Paralympics entered the arena. And Captain Luke Sinnott, who lost both legs in an IED bomb blast while serving in Afghanistan, climbed the flagpole to raise the union flag. After the Paralympic flag was passed to the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, performers from Rio - which will stage the games in 2016 - put on a colourful display fusing hip-hop freestyle and samba, performed by disabled and non-disabled dancers.

In the afternoon, thousands of spectators lined the route of the wheelchair marathon through a sweltering Central London to cheer Britain's David Weir to a fourth gold medal at the games. He said the support from the sun-baked crowd on the final day of the games had been 'amazing the whole way through.' Team-mate Shelly Woods took the silver in the women's race, as Britain cemented third place in the medals table. Speaking to BBC Radio 5Live on the final day of London 2012, organising committee chairman Lord Coe said: 'It has been fantastic. We wanted to raise the bar at the Olympics and I am as proud as everyone at being a part of a team that has unquestionably raised the bar at the Paralympics. We get Paralympics sport in this country. I never really doubted that the Paralympic games would be anything other than a show-stopper.' In a fitting finale to the track and field competition on Saturday, South Africa's Oscar Pistorius, one of the faces of the games won gold in the the T44 four hundred metres. After the race, the twenty five-year-old said: 'This is one of the most amazing competitions I've ever been a part of, it's been a privilege to be here. I think everybody's perceptions of disabled sport has changed.' Channel Four revealed more than four million people tuned in to watch Pistorius cruise to gold, peaking at 4.2 million during the race at 22:00. Earlier on Sunday Brazil's Tito Sena won the T46 marathon, while Alberto Suarez of Spain took the gold in the T12 event, breaking his own world record with a time of 2:24:50. The crowds then swelled as Weir began his bid for a fourth gold medal of London 2012 in the wheelchair marathon. Competitors in the men's and women's marathons started and finished in The Mall, completing one short and three long loops during the 26.2-mile race through London. Weir and Woods both needed to secure gold so ParalympicsGB could overtake Russia for second in the medals table. But, Sunday's result gives them the third spot, with a tally of one hundred and twenty, including thirty four golds way above their target of one hundred and three. On Saturday, popular swimmer Ellie Simmonds' loss of her S6 one hundred metres freestyle title to USA's Victoria Arlen, despite recording a personal best, saw the seventeen-year-old finish the games with a haul of two gold medals, a silver and a bronze. 'I'm quite emotional,' she told 5Live on Sunday. 'I'm sad it's ending but I'm looking forward to the Closing Ceremony and looking back at what I've achieved - I'm surprised at what I've achieved.' The UK's papers on Sunday reflected on what the Observer called a sporting 'summer in a million.' 'Two sporting extravaganzas, a record-breaking medal haul for Britain, disabled sport showcased as never before, no wonder even the Aussies say it was better than Sydney,' said the Independent. The seventy thousand games volunteers were hailed by the Sunday Scum Express, which said: 'Unfailingly cheerful, polite and helpful, [they] not only made the Games a success, but restored pride in some good, old-fashioned British values.'

As the London 2012 Paralympics draws to a close, a question well worth asking is how might all of this positive exposure, sporting achievement and discussion around disability affect the future of disabled people? The Paralympics was in the UK - so immediately grabbed the public's attention at the end of a phenomenal summer of celebration which started with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in June. Some 2.7 million tickets were sold for the Paralympics and the amount of media and television coverage was unprecedented. In the Paralympic Park bubble, if you try to discuss the concept of legacy, the main thought is about the sport rather than anything wider. After winning the final track gold medal of the games on Saturday night, Oscar Pistorius said he hoped the success of London 2012 would boost the profile of parasport. But what about those who simply want to enjoy sport and don't necessarily want to compete at elite level? Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson worries that people will continue to look towards charities to provide expensive sporting equipment, when it's actually easy to get healthy and sporty without spending thousands of pounds on custom chairs or carbon fibre wheels. 'You can't wait for someone else to do legacy, you've got to take a bit of responsibility for yourself,' she says. 'You can go out walking or pushing in your wheelchair - you can go to the local park, you can work out with two tins of beans.' On team sports, she says: 'If you can get ten or twelve people together, to rent a sports hall for two hours is probably three or four pounds each - for two hours' exercise that's not bad.' Baroness Grey-Thompson says government, schools and the health sector need to 'actually talk to each other about what we want these games to bring. If we wait for there to be a full legacy programme, we'll have missed the boat really.' Sports Minister Hugh Robertson, meanwhile, told BBC Radio 5Live that the legacy had begun with 'confirmed funding for elite Olympic and Paralympic athletes, the range of new facilities, the fantastic list of major sports events coming to this country, a new school games competition which has a compulsory disability element for the first time, a new youth sports strategy and other projects with disability attached.' As has been noted, disabled people rarely come together in one place due to bad health, accessibility difficulties or just a sense that they don't really want to be associated with people similar to themselves - which might serve to further stigmatise them. If the disparate disabled groups - such as deaf, blind, autistic, wheelchair users, mobility impaired and disfigured - do ever get together, it's usually to fight against issues including benefits cuts by a particularly Scummy governments. Actually, come to think about it, that's all governments. The Paralympics, however, has been a very visible celebration of disability achievement in and of itself. Legacy isn't just one big story though, it's lots of smaller stories. Little victories in unexpected places. Stuart Cosgrove, director of creative diversity at Paralympic broadcaster Channel Four, says nearly two-thirds of people questioned in a poll it commissioned said the games had 'shifted their attitude' towards disability. He said that, though it was 'hard to quantify what that means,' comments received by the channel suggested that the games had created an impact which Cosgrove 'had never imagined. What I am consistently seeing are stories of what appear to be couples who have relatively young children, of ages five or six, with cerebral palsy or who have perhaps had amputations through meningitis. The Paralympics for them has not only been inspiring - in the sense of sporting achievement - but they've seen disabilities championed on air and see it as an opportunity for their children to have future engagement in sport, basketball, swimming, and beyond that.' The interest in the Paralympics is not yet as strong as the Olympics - Channel Four's Paralympic Opening Ceremony coverage was watched by a peak audience of 11.2 million viewers, a staggering achievement in any circumstance, particularly for a broadcaster of Channel Four's size but still small compared with the 26.9 million who watched the Olympics Opening Ceremony on BBC1. But Cosgrove says the higher-income ABC1 audience has been consistent and has shown 'the biggest single increase in our audience.' At the beginning of the games, we were hearing wannabe-positive, slightly uncomfortable-sounding phrases - such as 'see the ability not the disability' and 'the athletes just want to be taken as seriously as the normal athletes' - from the media. But the conversations have changed a little since 29 August and that's a good thing. The comedian Adam Hills' late night irreverent Paralympic chat and highlights show The Last Leg - a title reflecting Adam's own lack of a right foot - has taken mainstream viewers to some dark and delightfully surprising places which only disability humour can go. And, it has given a sense of permission for regular viewers to talk openly about things they may previously have shied away from in the 'Is It Okay ...?' section. And last Sunday, after Oscar Pistorius claimed his defeat to Brazil's Alan Fonteles Oliveira may have been due, in part, to unfair practices, was the first time we had seen Twitter users passionately discussing the length of a disabled man's artificial leg. Tim Hollingsworth, head of the British Paralympic Association, has announced that there will be a Paralympic Festival - likely to take place in December - to spot new sporting talent, initially to be held in England. He notes that it was in a 'talent ID' event that one hundred metres gold medallist Jonnie Peacock was spotted. 'It's an incredible journey, it's a fast-moving journey,' said Hollingsworth. 'The challenge now is to learn from all the positives that have come out of London and build on the momentum in this country.'

And speaking of The Last Leg, as noted above it includes a regular segment called 'Is it Okay ...?', in which viewers tweet in questions about disability which may - or may not - be deemed socially unacceptable.  One stand-out example from an early episode was 'is it okay to ask how disabled swimmers with no arms get out on the pool?' To which the answer as, 'yes it is okay to ask and here's some film of a couple demonstrating exactly how they do it.' However, one tweet which appeared on screen on one of the shows appears to have caused a kerfuffle with some people with an agenda looking for a reason to be  outraged. It asked: 'Is it okay to hit a disabled person if he's being a nob [sic]?' A reasonable enough question, some may consider. And the reasonable answer to it is, of course, 'no, that would be a horrible thing to do. You shouldn't hit anyone, even if they are a knob. But, thanks for asking, there are no taboo subjects on this show.' Fair enough. Channel Four said that the tweet was actually due to be screened and discussed on the Monday episode of show but was broadcast early - on Sunday - due to 'a technical error.' Not that this explanation stopped some odious arsehole of absolutely no importance from the Daily Torygraph from trying to stir up some trouble out of this story and dragging in a couple of rent-a-quote spokespersons for disability groups for their opinion. Christ, some journalists are just scum. On Sunday evening's show, tweets being discussed included whether it is acceptable to ask for a 'high five' from someone with a hand disfigurement and why blind athletes say: 'We'll see how it goes,' during interviews. The tweet referring to hitting disabled people was not discussed by the panellists, which included Jimmy Carr. A Channel Four spokesman said: 'The Last Leg with Adam Hills is an irreverent late night show which tackles head on issues of disability associated with Paralympic sport. The tweet was due to be used on Monday night's show and discussed by Alex Brooker in the context of his own experiences as a disabled person. A technical error meant the tweet flashed up on screen briefly on Sunday night's show – without the opportunity to discuss the question in context by the team in the studio.' Australian comedian Adam Hills, who was born without a right foot, said at the beginning of the show: 'We have had a few people wondering whether we might be being a little bit distasteful on this show, especially with a segment called: "Is it Okay ...?"' He added: 'Some people have a problem with it. You know who doesn't have a problem with it? The athletes.' Hills added that the Paralympians he has met have said it was their favourite segment of the show.

The International Paralympic Committee is to 'scrutinise' potential broadcasting partners more carefully in future after US rights holders NBC failed to show a single moment of live 2012 action. NBC scheduled four hour-long highlights programmes on the NBC Sports channel, followed by one ninety-minute round-up. IPC president Sir Philip Craven said of future media partners: 'We'll examine their values as they will examine ours. If the values fit, we've got a chance. If they don't we'll go somewhere else.' Channel Four aired four hundred hours of Paralympic coverage in the UK, while Australia's ABC screened more than one hundred hours. In Japan viewers had a nightly one-hour highlights programme. Its capital Tokyo is bidding to host the 2020 games. NBC did not show any live action and its ninety-minute round-up programme will not be broadcast until 16 September. Yet the broadcaster said the total of five-and-a-half hours represented 'an improvement' on the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, when viewers got a single ninety-minute highlights package. 'The people of the USA, for example, particularly the parents and families of the athletes, they are all ready for Paralympic sport,' Sir Philip added. 'Take the plunge, take the risk and then you'll succeed.' NBC claimed its coverage of the London Olympic Games was the 'most-watched television event in US history,' with two hundred and nineteen million people watching over the duration of the event. But it drew much criticism for delaying the broadcast of popular events until primetime hours. The broadcaster also cut the tribute to the victims of the 7 July London bombings from its advert-laden delayed broadcast of the Opening Ceremony and was forced to grovellingly apologise after revealing the result of the one hundred metres women's backstroke event in a promo slot before actually showing the race itself. Viewers also complained of problems with online streaming and edited versions of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Prior to the Paralympics, Craven had said: 'I'm very disappointed for the athletes and I'm also very disappointed for the hundreds of millions of people who live in North America who don't have the opportunity on a very easy basis to access what will be amazing images. Some people think that North America always lead on everything, and on this, they don't.'

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's complaint about a More4 documentary he claimed was 'unfair' and 'violated his privacy' has not been upheld by Ofcom, the media regulator. Ofcom ruled that the More4 documentary, True Stories: WikiLeaks – Secrets and Lies, was fair and did give Assange appropriate opportunity to respond before the programme was aired on 29 November 2011. The media regulator rejected Assange's complaint that More4 had violated his privacy by showing footage of him dancing in a nightclub in Iceland. Assange, founder of the whistleblowers' website, has complained about 'negative media coverage' of his legal battle to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces sexual assault allegations. He is currently taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge, in defiance of an extradition order. The documentary was part of the Channel Four digital service's True Stories strand and featured contributions from the Gruniad Morning Star's investigations editor, David Leigh, and special correspondent Nick Davies, who worked closely with Assange on the publication of leaked US diplomatic cables from November 2010. The programme also featured interviews with several people who had also worked closely with Assange, including a former WikiLeaks employee. Assange said More4 had not obtained his 'informed consent' to appear in the programme, claiming they had misrepresented to him what the documentary would focus on and he had not been told who else would appear. However, Ofcom ruled that Assange had provided his informed consent and that his assistant had exchanged e-mails over several weeks with the programme makers over what it would contain. The WikiLeaks founder also complained about the use of grainy footage of him dancing in a nightclub in Iceland, which had been taken by a member of the public and then uploaded to the video-sharing website, YouTube. The irony of Julian Assange whinging about someone using something which they found on the Internet for their own nefarious purposes will, I trust, be lost on no one. Ofcom noted that Assange had given permission to the person to film him dancing on the condition it was for this video maker's personal use only. The regulator ruled: 'The footage was filmed in a nightclub, which is a public place, and Mr Assange was not shown engaged in an activity which would reasonably be considered to be private or in circumstances which could normally give rise to a legitimate expectation of privacy. Ofcom also took into account that Mr Assange has been in the public eye since the launch of WikiLeaks. Further, the footage had been made available to the public in a number of items on the Internet months before the programme was broadcast.' It added: 'Accordingly, Ofcom's decision is that Mr Assange's complaints of unjust or unfair treatment and of unwarranted infringement of privacy in the programme as broadcast should not be upheld.' Assange wrote to the Leveson inquiry into press standards in April, claiming he had 'suffered extensive libels' comparable to Gerry and Kate McCann, who received significant damages from a number of national newspapers over coverage of the search for their missing daughter Madeleine. He had previously lost a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission about forty five articles, in publications including the Guardian and the Independent, which he said were inaccurate and unfair.

Lewis Hamilton took a dominant victory in the Italian Grand Prix to beat Sauber's Sergio Perez and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. From pole position, Hamilton lost the lead only briefly during the pit-stop period and was never seriously under threat. Perez, who qualified twelfth, took advantage of a different strategy and free choice of tyres at the start to climb through the field and pass Alonso with seven laps to go. McLaren's Jenson Button and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel both had to retire from the race due to engine difficulties. Alonso, who drove an excellent race to climb up from tenth on the grid, has consolidated his championship lead and is now thirty seven points ahead of Hamilton, who moved up from fifth to second. 'It was pretty trouble free, I don't think I had any problems,' said Hamilton. 'The guys did a great job, [and I] got a great start for once, so very happy with that. Very unfortunate for Jenson because we were one-two at the time and it would have been fantastic to have been first and second.' Alonso said: 'Absolutely perfect Sunday for us. Obviously the win was out of reach after starting tenth. If we cannot win, podium is next target and all the predictions was never on the podium finish, so much better than I expected. Jenson and the two Red Bulls were out of the race, so [it's the] perfect Sunday for me.' Vettel's retirement, with his second alternator failure of the weekend, dropped him to fourth, two points behind Hamilton and one behind Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen. Red Bull's Mark Webber, who retired after a troubled race, is fifth, forty seven points behind Alonso, with Button sixth, seventy eight points adrift and realistically out of contention for the championship. The race contained plenty of action and overtaking, and a moment of major controversy between title contenders Alonso and Vettel. The German was given a drive-though penalty for forcing the Spaniard off the track in an incident reminiscent of a similar one involving the same two drivers in last year's race. Last year, the German passed the Ferrari driver around the outside of the one hundred and eighty mph Curva Grande with two wheels on the grass and felt Alonso had pushed a bit too far. Alonso was not penalised for that incident. In this year's incident, on lap twenty six of the race, the roles were reversed and Alonso tried to pass Vettel on the outside. Vettel moved across and did not leave enough room for Alonso, who ended up with his entire car on the grass. He complained over the team radio: 'He pushed me,' and the stewards agreed that Vettel had gone too far and gave him a drive-through penalty. 'There's nothing really to say,' Alonso noted afterwards. 'I lost ten laps behind him after the incident. And for sure the car is damaged because at three hundred and thirty km/h you are jumping on the gravel so I don't think the floor and everything will be fine after those jumps.' Vettel rejoined seventh and passed team-mate Mark Webber to run sixth but pulled off with six laps to go. Button's retirement was caused by a fuel pick-up problem. Ferrari's Felipe Massa took fourth as Raikkonen just held off Michael Schumacher's Mercedes on the final lap to finish fifth. Schumacher's team-mate Nico Rosberg was just behind in seventh, both Mercedes choosing to do a rare two-stop strategy because of high tyre wear. Force India's Paul di Resta was eighth, ahead of Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Williams driver Bruno Senna. Hamilton was in impressive form, holding off Massa's challenge into the first corner and then building a lead which he was able to protect for the rest of the race. But Perez and Alonso also drove strong races to take the final two podium finishes. Perez chose to start on the hard tyres and made his tyre stop six laps after Hamilton. That meant he was on the faster 'medium' tyre for the last part of the race, taking advantage of their greater pace and extra freshness to rapidly haul in the Ferraris of Alonso and Massa. 'I don't think we had the pace in qualifying for a single lap,' said Perez. 'We were lacking too much speed on the straights. Yesterday in qualifying I did not have good lap, I was too close to Bruno Senna, I lost downforce, that was reason not to be in top ten but it helped us to change the strategy, we start on the prime and it worked quite well.' He closed in on Hamilton, too, but not fast enough to be a serious threat. Hamilton's victory means he joins Alonso as the only two drivers to win three races this season.

Which brings us to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Oh Christ, no! It's more effing Coldplay. Run away.