Sunday, September 02, 2012

Week Thirty Seven: Anyone Who Had A Heart

Yer actual Doctor Who returned for its latest series with an overnight audience of 6.4m for Asylum of the Daleks on BBC1 on Saturday evening. That's roughly on a par with last year's equivalent episode, Let's Kill Hitler, which had an overnight of 6.2m. The episode - which was also topping the BBC's iPlayer chart within seconds of it going online - had a peak viewership of 6.9m towards the climax and an audience share just shy of thirty per cent during the 7:20 to 8:10 slot. Decent enough on its own but, it's always worth remembering that Doctor Who timeshifts more than just about every other show on telly. The last two series have seen an average timeshift of around 1.76m per episode which, if the trend continues, should mean Saturday night's episode will be close to an eight million consolidated final rating. The X Factor, of course, was the largest rated show the night with an average overnight audience of 8.15m (slightly down on last week's episode figure and two-and-a-half million viewers down on the corresponding episode from last year - expect further X Factor in ratings crisis-style tabloid headlines this week). A further four hundred thousand punters watched the episode on ITV+1. Channel Four's Paralympics coverage continued to do well with 2.56m, whilst notorious, laughable ITV flop Red Or Black? could only manage a distinctly underwhelming 3.29m and 3.06m for its two episodes either side of The X Factor. Fiasco. Overall, for the first time in several years when The X Factor has been part of ITV's line-up, BBC1 managed to win an autumn Saturday night primetime with 20.2 per cent of the audience share versus ITV's 19.4 per cent.
Parade's End lost a significant chunk of its initial audience on Friday, overnight data suggests. The BBC2 period piece's second episode averaged 2.18m, nine hundred and fifty thousand punters down on the previous week's strong premiere rating. Mastermind (1.72m) and Gardeners' World (2.12m) were broadcast in the 8pm hour. Channel Four's coverage of the Paralympic Games had 2.11m between 7.30pm and 11.15pm, while ITV's football coverage of Moscow Chelski's Super Cup spanking off Athletico Madrid scored 2.13m. On BBC1, Miranda soared to 4.06m at 8.30pm, despite being a repeat. In with the Flynns benefited from the increased lead-in, rallying to 3.01m at 9pm, after which 4.44m caught an old edition of Mrs Brown's Boys. Overall, BBC1 topped primetime with 19.9 per cent of the audience share, ahead of ITV's eleven per cent. More4 continued to benefit from an hour of Paralympics coverage, netting 612k between 6.30pm and 7.30pm.

And so to the Top Telly Tips:

Friday 7 September
The road to Brazil 2014 starts here with the opening World Cup qualifiers, dear blog reader. For Wales and Northern Ireland, getting to the World Cup finals would be the stuff of dreams (and, the first time since 1958 and 1986 respectively). For Roy Hodgson's England, anything less would be a calamity. Wales showed in their friendly against Bosnia how far they still have to travel – as much about commitment and belief among some talented players as anything else. They host a dangerous Belgium in Cardiff (kick-off 7.45pm, Sky Sports1). For Northern Ireland (kick-off 4pm Sky Sports1), visiting Russia seems a baptism of fire. But for England, spirits lifted by the victory against Italy, Moldova (ranked one hundred and thirty seven on FIFA's list) ought to be there for the taking (kick-off 7.45pm ITV). Then again, we've said that before, haven't we? Odious grumpy greed bucket (and drag) Adrian Chiles presents coverage of the opening World Cup Group H qualifier for both sides, staged at the Zimbru Stadium in Chisinau. England have played just one friendly since their exit in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012, but Roy Hodgson can take heart from his new-look side's August victory over Italy, their conquerors at the tournament in Ukraine. Hodgson is likely to recall several senior players to the line-up, and will be looking to extend England's undefeated record against the Moldovans, with the nations having met on two occasions during qualifying for the 1998 World Cup. With commentary by Clive Tyldesley and the frankly worthless Andy Townsend, and a singular lack of anything approaching decent analysis by Lee Dixon and Gareth Southgate.

Clare Balding and Ade Adepitan introduce the concluding coverage on day nine of the Paralympic games, featuring athletics at the Olympic Stadium, swimming at the Aquatics Centre and wheelchair basketball at the North Greenwich Arena. The athletics includes Oscar Pistorius in the men's T44 four hundred metres heats, and a chance for Sophia Warner to win a medal in the women's T35 one hundred metres final. Mickey Bushell is among the favourites for gold in the men's T53 two hundred metres, Richard Whitehead has high hopes of success in the men's T42 one hundred metres final, David Weir should be involved in the men's T54 four hundred metres final, and Shelly Woods is expected to take on Canada's Chantal Petitclerc in the women's T54 fifteen hundred metres final. In the swimming finals, Hannah Russell is highly fancied in the women's S12 fifty metres freestyle, and Rhiannon Henry in the women's SM13 two hundred metres individual medley. Plus, action from the final of the women's wheelchair basketball at the North Greenwich Arena. Followed, as usual, by the really very good The Last Leg with Adam Hills - 10:35 - with a deconstruction of the day's events.

Here Comes the Summer: The Undertones Story - 9:45 BBc4 - is, fairly obviously, a documentary charting the history of the new wave band from Derry in Northern Ireland, renowned for pop anthem 'Teenage Kicks', which launched their career in 1978. And, a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping were the 'tones. This features interviews with members, their friends and families, who provide an insight into the five young men - Billy, Mickey, Jon, Damian and Feargal - who created such hits as 'Get Over You', 'Jimmy Jimmy', the epic 'You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It?)', 'Here Comes The Summer' and 'My Perfect Cousin'.
Saturday 8 September
The latest episode of yer actual Doctor Who - 7:35 BBC1 - is called Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. Well, Chris Chibnall certainly can't be done under the Trades' Descriptions Act as, what you see is, essentially, what you get. The Time Lord is asked to stop an unmanned spaceship hurtling toward Earth, so he assembles a crack team of helpers - an Egyptian queen, a big-game hunter and the Ponds. But once on board, they are amazed to find the ancient vessel is carrying a live cargo in the shape of dinosaurs. How did the prehistoric creatures get there? Were T-Rex involved? Matt Smith stars, with Sunetra Sarker (from Casualty), Sherlock's Rupert Graves, The Fast Show's Mark Williams (playing Rory's dad) and the great David Bradley. Looks proper decent from the trailers.
Armando Iannucci's political satire The Thick Of It returns - 9:45 BBC2 - with long-suffering MP Peter Mannion taking charge at the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship as part of a new coalition government. However, he must also work with junior minister Fergus Williams - an arrangement neither man is particularly enjoying. As the series begins, Fergus excitedly prepares to launch his new digital education initiative - until Downing Street spin doctor Stewart Pearson announces technophobe Peter is going to be the spokesman for it instead. Elsewhere in the department, civil servant Terri Coverley tries to ensure she is put up for redundancy, while her colleague Glenn Cullen attempts to make his presence felt. Starring Roger Allam, Geoffrey Streatfeild, Vincent Franklin and Joanna Scanlan.

Another twenty foolhardy, breast-beating, full of their own importance young professionals fly to Argentina to have a go at the crazy, obstacle-packed qualifier in a bid to make it through to the next two heats and hopefully into the final in Total Wipeout - 6:35 BBC1. They include a trainee maths teacher wearing pyjamas, a postman and an ageing female rocker. As ever, Richard Hammond presents from the safety of the studio - wearing stuff that makes him look like the singer of some minor 1990s Britpop combo - whilst Amanda Byram meets the contestants on the course and giggles a lot. And yet, for all that, it's still more addictive than heroin.

Sunday 9 September
A middle-class couple's adopted child is kidnapped, a case that takes Gently and Bacchus to a home where unmarried mothers are forced to give up their babies in the latest Inspector George Gently - 8:30 BBC1. Suspicion initially falls upon the natural mother, who is thought to have `stolen' her baby back. But further investigations reveal a much darker side to the adoption home itself and raise questions as to how far this seemingly perfect couple were prepared to go to become parents. Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby star, with Mark Gatiss, silly little Helen Baxendale and Alison Steadman.

Richard Hammond's Crash Course - 7:15 BBC2 - sees the diminutive host (this time, looking more like the bassist from some anonymous 1970s Krautrock outfit) travel to Oregon, where he tries to get to grips with a trio of powerful logging machines. The feller-buncher can cut down one thousand trees in a day, before the log loader stacks logs and the dangle head processor strips, cuts and slices the wood. However, Richard's lumberjacking skills are put to the test before he is let loose on the vehicles, and he also learns about the importance of sustainable forestry.
A man's life changes for ever on the night he meets his perfect double in The Scapegoat - 9:00 ITV. John Standing is manoeuvred into switching places with the aristocratic Johnny Spence and finds himself drawn into his doppelganger's world - falling in love with his wife, sleeping with his mistress and attempting to solve the family's financial woes. However, events take a dark twist when the real Johnny returns - leading to disastrous consequences. Charles Sturridge's adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's celebrated novel, starring Matthew Rhys in a dual role, with Eileen Atkins, Alice Orr-Ewing, Anton Lesser and Jodhi May.

Monday 10 September
Sandra reopens enquiries into the suspected suicide of a Foreign Office diplomat, whose body was found in a frozen London lake after she had suffered the personal tragedy of a miscarriage and the professional embarrassment of having a government laptop stolen from her home in New Tricks - 9:00 BBC1. The woman's fiance and twin sister both believe her death is connected to sensitive information held on the missing computer and blame her boss for her downfall - and when Sandra clashes with the man himself, it only makes her more determined to pursue the conspiracy theory, despite Strickland's advice to tread carefully. Simon Day (The Fast Show) and Sharon Small (Mistresses) guest star alongside Amanda Redman, Denis Waterman and Alun Armstrong.

Twenty-five-year-old Aaron is unemployed, single and still lives with his parents in Leaving - 9:00 ITV. The day he meets married mother-of-two Julie, forty four, he is drunk and miserable, but a bond begins to form between the pair when he takes a job at the hotel where she works, and after sharing a kiss, they embark on an unlikely relationship. Tony Marchant's drama stars Callum Turner and Helen McCrory.

In the latest episode of Only Connect - 8:00 BBC4 - three footballer supporters square off against a trio of orchestral violin players in the competition challenging contestants to make connections between things that initially do not appear to be linked. Presented by the divine Goddess of naughty minxiness that is Victoria Coren.
Film of the night, by a distance, is Hot Fuzz - 9:00 ITV4. Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright - the team behind zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead - return for this gleeful pastiche of over-the-top American action movies, only this time relocated to the sleepy English West Country. Pegg stars as an over-achieving London policeman, Nicholas Angel, transferred to a crime-free village called Sandford where all - perhaps inevitably - is not as it seems. What begins as a very funny, very British murder mystery eventually mutates into an ironic action spectacular that blows up half of Gloucestershire (or rather, Wells in Somerset pretending to be Gloucestershire). Armed with a stunning cast - a virtual Who's Who of home-grown acting talent (has Timothy Dalton ever been better, in anything?) - and a surfeit of clever gags (dialogue and visual), Hot Fuzz also showcases the continuing comic partnership of Pegg and co-star the excellent Nick Frost. Their mismatched cops play out every buddy movie convention imaginable while discussing subjects as diverse as ice-cream 'brain freeze', the arm-breaking abilities of the average swan and the homoeroticism of the action thriller Point Break. More smart than silly, this is self-confident comedy that's proud to be British. Sadly, it's almost certainly the appallingly dubbed TV version which is likely to be shown. So, you can look forward to the Reverend Shooter (Paul Freeman) exclaiming 'Peas and rice!' when he gets shot in the shoulder instead of 'Jesus Christ!' And, of course, Nicholas Angel's touching story of his Uncle Derek who made him want to be a policeman ultimately getting sent down for selling drugs to teenagers to be met with Danny Butterman's heartfelt 'what a clunk.' Rather than something else. Great soundtrack, too.

Tuesday 11 September
If you don't fancy watching miserable greed bucket (and drag) Adrian Chiles shag up the coverage of another England world cup qualifier (8:00 ITV) you could try Trouble on the Estate - 9:00 BBC1. This is a Panorama special revealing what it's like to live and grow up on a Blackburn housing estate, where drugs, anti-social behaviour, family break-ups and joblessness are part of everyday life. Oh, so they've been to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's street then, have they? Eight-year-old Oshi is desperate to see his father after a two-year absence. Jordan, fifteen, is threatening to leave his family home because of the trouble. And twenty-year-old Jessie's behaviour frightens other residents and keeps landing him in prison. Richard Bilton meets these and other locals to offer a snapshot of yer actual 'broken Britain.' Marginally less depressing than what ITV have done with English football, I'd've said.

Scottish Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair) explores the history of the Norse warriors, delving into their customs and searching for the truth behind their fearsome reputation in Vikings - 9:00 BBC2. He begins by telling the story of their origins, and investigates the world of their ancient ancestors. The programme charts Scandinavia's prehistoric landscape, from the Baltic Sea to Norway's Atlantic coast, and Neil examines archaeological evidence to create a portrait of the society from which the Vikings emerged.

Sarah Beeny shows families how to double the space in their homes for half the cost of trading up to a bigger property, from extensions to conversions in the somewhat obviously titled Double Your House For Half The Money - 8:00 Channel Four. Yes, dear blog reader, that's right, it's yet another property show from Sarah Beeny. Doesn't that woman do anything else? Well, apart from have babies, that is. Anyway, the Ricketts want more room in their detached house in Hinckley, Leicestershire, but money's too tight to mention, while the Ellises in Bristol hope to transform the damp basement of their small Victorian flat into ... well, a less damp basement, presumably.

Wednesday 12 September
Comedian, actor and writer Hugh Dennis's grandfathers both fought in the First World War, but they rarely spoke about what they went through, a story which Hugh tells in the latest of the excellent Who Do You Think You Are? - 9:00 BBC1. Hugh researches both men's different experiences of The Great War, with his paternal grandfather finally finding an escape from the coalmines of Yorkshire, while the other man found himself involved in some of the conflict's most infamous battles.
Solitary Endeavour on the Southern Ocean - 9:00 BBC4 - is the story of Andrew McAuley's attempt to cross the Tasman Sea from Australia to New Zealand in a kayak. After a month at sea and one day away from success, a distress signal was received, and his kayak was found thirty miles from the shore. The sailor's body was never recovered, but the audio tapes of his journey were. The programme examines the circumstances of the adventurer's death.

Dead Good Job - 9:00 BBC2 - goes behind the scenes with British undertakers, revealing how they handle the sensitive business of caring for the living and the dead at funerals. The series begins by exploring the ways in which Twenty First-Century ceremonies reflect the lives and beliefs of the deceased, following four services with very different demands. London's Haji Taslim Funerals caters for Muslim families who want their loved ones to be buried as soon as possible after death, while in Manchester Simon Lilleywhite comforts the relatives of a deceased local woman as they view her body for the last time. A terminally ill mother of two in Leeds makes the arrangements for her own cremation, and bikers from across Britain travel to the funeral of one of their number, who has chosen to be transported in a motorcycle hearse. Narrated by Fern Britton.

In the second episode of Mrs Biggs - 9:00 ITV - Naughty Ronnie takes part in The Great Train Robbery. Yeah, that's going to go well. He then returns home to a horrified Charmian, who is horrified. As you would be when your bloke turns up with a hundred grand in cash. She is aware of the magnitude of the crime and knows the stability of their family has been jeopardised forever - and this proves to be the case when Rockin' Ronnie is arrested and sentenced to thirty years in the pokey. Not for singing 'No One is Innocent', that's still a decade away, although he probably should've got life for that. Disowned by her loved ones, Charmian must navigate her way through an extortion attempt while facing up to the prospect of raising their children alone. Meanwhile, Ronnie is planning to go over the wall and leg it. Drama, starring Sheridan Smith and Daniel Mays.

Thursday 13 September
Susan and her friends close in on the killer of the five girls, narrowing their list of suspects down to three men in The Bletchley Circle - 9:00 ITV. However, a shocking discovery forces them to change their theories and they set a trap to catch the culprit using Lucy as bait - but the operation goes horribly wrong. Drama, starring Anna Maxwell Martin, Rachael Stirling, Julie Graham and Sophie Rundle.
The InterCity 125: The Age of the Train - 9:00 BBC4 - tells the story of the InterCity 125, a fleet of high-speed engines introduced by British Rail in 1976 in a bid to revive its commercial fortunes and make train travel more appealing to the public. With an advertising campaign fronted by Jimmy Savile and new boss Peter Parker in charge, the enterprise set out to modernise the industry - and proved to be a typically British success story.

Members of the public allow a group of fifty strangers from diverse backgrounds to observe their lives for a week, hoping to receive advice that will enable them to make potentially life-changing decisions in The Audience - 9:00 Channel Four. The first participant is forty seven-year-old Ian Wainwright, who runs his family's dairy farm on behalf of his elderly uncles. However, he is considering walking away from the business and starting a new life - and asks the panel to decide whether he should prioritise personal happiness over family loyalty.

Radio 4 favourite Milton Jones and Irish comedian Ed Byrne join host Dara O Briain and regular panellists Hugh Dennis, Andy Parsons and Chris Addison on Mock The Week - 10:00 BBC2 - for another round of the satirical news quiz.
Friday 14 September
Fairport Convention: Who Knows Where The Time Goes? - 9:00 BBC4 - is a documentary charting the highs and lows of the quintessentially English folk-rock band as they celebrate their forty fifth anniversary. Since their 1969 LP Liege and Lief launched them into the limelight, they have struggled to maintain their popularity due to numerous line-up changes and shifting musical fashions. Today, however, they have undergone a transformation and play their annual festival in Cropredy, Oxfordshire, in front of twenty thousand fans. Narrated by comedian Frank Skinner, who performed on the act's 2011 CD Festival Bell.

Stephen Fry returns with another series of Qi - 10:00 BBC2 - the popular quiz which tests the most obscure parts of contestants' general knowledge, awarding points for interesting answers as well as correct ones. Regular panellist Alan Davies is joined by Bill Bailey, Jimmy Carr and Only Connect hostess and stone dead fox Victoria Coren to answer fiendish questions about words beginning with the letter J. With luck, the extended XL edition should be on tomorrow but, check your listings to be sure because the BBC are naughty buggers when it comes to the scheduling of Qi XL.
And so to the news: Max Irons and Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson will star in upcoming BBC1 drama White Queen. The War of the Roses-era ten-part drama is based on Phillipa Gregory's bestselling novel series The Cousin's War. The series follows a group of women who find themselves caught up in the race for the throne. With the nation at war for the past nine years over the rightful King of England, the two sides of the same family - The House of York and The House of Lancaster - are also facing their own battle. Max Irons will play the House of York's Edward IV, who is crowned the King thanks to the machinations of Lord Warwick (James Frain). However, Warwick's plans are altered after the King falls in love with commoner Elizabeth Woodville (played by Ferguson). Academy Award nominee Janet McTeer plays Elizabeth's sorceress mother Jacquetta, while Amanda Hale will portray the Queen's rival, Margaret Beaufort. Faye Marsay will star as Lord Warwick's daughter Anne Neville, while Aneurin Bernard features as Richard, the Duke of York (the future Richard III). Controller of BBC Drama Ben Stephenson said of the series: 'One of the most ambitious series the BBC has made, this ten-part series is an epic drama that makes real history as gripping as the best fiction, featuring a cast of extraordinary new talent and some of our finest actors.' David Oakes, Juliet Aubrey, Eleanor Tomlinson, Frances Tomelty, Michael Maloney, Ben Lamb, Hugh Mitchell, Simon Ginty, Eve Ponsonby and Robert Pugh will also appear in the drama. Made by Company Pictures, White Queen will be produced by Gina Cronk and directed by James Kent. The drama will film on location in Belgium. It is scheduled for broadcast in 2013.

David Cameron must ignore some of his Tory colleagues - particularly rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Gove - and listen to Lord Justice Leveson when the judge outlines reforms to the regulation of the press, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats has said. In the wake of a Times report on Friday which claimed that that the prime minister is planning to give the industry 'another chance' to improve self-regulation, Simon Hughes said that a series of scandals had shown this system has failed. Hughes, who himself received damages from News International earlier this year after his phoned was hacked by the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, said: 'David Cameron would do well to ignore the calls from some in his party who for far too long have been far too close to media owners and instead listen to the judge that he appointed to look into these matters in detail. After everything we know now, the public will simply not accept the failure of this government to finally sort out this issue, which successive governments have failed to sort out before.' The Lib Dem deputy leader, who accused the shamed Scum of the World of 'criminal behaviour on an industrial scale' when he settled his civil case in the high court for mucho wonga earlier this year, spoke out after The Times claimed that Cameron is 'preparing to reject statutory intervention in the regulation of the press.' Alleged 'sources' have allegedly confirmed that the alleged prime minister 'broadly' believes the industry should be 'given another chance' to improve self-regulation by making further concessions to show that the new system is genuinely independent and, critically, with editors banned from being involved in adjudications on complaints. However, this does not have the support of the Lib Dems, who believe self-regulation has failed. Hughes said that the state should never regulate the content of newspapers but that new systems needed to be put in place to guard against repeat lapses in standards in the press, such as the phone-hacking scandal. 'The scandals which have been hugely damaging to the press in our country should demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that the system of self-regulation has failed,' he added. 'Nobody is arguing that the state should ever regulate the content of newspapers but there is a strong case for a new system which will require newspapers to have the systems in place which will prevent widespread criminal behaviour and unacceptable breaches of privacy from happening again.' Cameron told Leveson during his testimony that the future press watchdog 'can't be self-regulation, it has to be independent regulation.' But he strongly hinted that he did not support full statutory regulation. 'It would be much better if we could deliver it without statute,' he said, adding that the test of the new press regulator would be whether it worked for people like the parents of Milly Dowler and Madeleine McCann. 'The test of a regulatory system is not: does that make the politicians happier? The test of the system is: is it going to provide proper protection to ordinary families who, through no fault of their own, get caught up in these media maelstroms and get completely mistreated?' he said. The Gruniad Morning Star claim that Lord Black, the chairman of Presbof, which funds the discredited Press Complaints Commission, 'is believed to be playing a pivotal behind-the-scenes role.' He is also a former PCC director. He is, according to some Communist louse of no consequence at the newspaper, 'close to Cameron and is co-ordinating the industry's response to Leveson,' including proposed new powers of investigation and fines of up to one million quid for breaches of strict codes of conduct on a range of issues from privacy to accuracy. 'Statutory regulation of the written word would be an unacceptable impingement on press freedom,' Black said in his submission to the inquiry. He told Leveson during oral evidence that any attempt to introduce new laws to govern newspapers would run the risk of getting 'stuck in parliamentary aspic.' Black also warned that a statutory system would face 'constant legal challenge to the legal decisions of a regulator' by newspapers. The prime minister made clear in his evidence to the Leveson inquiry that he was wary of statutory regulation when he spoke of the dangers of 'excessive' regulation. In his statement to the inquiry, he said: 'In my view, more effective regulation, independent of government, is a better option. I do not believe that direct regulation by the government or a government-appointed body would be appropriate as it would damage our democracy, inhibit a free press and indeed, it could erode the benefits of the media holding politicians to account and uncovering wrongdoing amongst politicians.' The behind-the-scenes machinations, the Gruniad claim, come 'at a sensitive time.' Leveson is still working on his final report and recommendations and nobody wants to be seen publicly to pre-empt this. He has already expressed his 'disappointment' that a confidential letter he sent to newspaper groups warning of potential criticism in his final report is being discussed by the press. He made his disapproval known after Chris Blackhurst, the editor of the Independent, went on Radio 4's The Media Show on Wednesday and claimed that Leveson was 'loading a gun' for the newspaper industry and that his warning letter, which was sent to all main newspaper groups, was 'a point-by-point demolition' of the press. Blackhurst said that Leveson was 'throwing the book at the industry' and had failed to acknowledge that newspapers, not others, had uncovered scandal after scandal. His remarks prompted the Leveson inquiry to issue a statement on Wednesday pointing out it was legally obliged under inquiries legislation to give anyone who will be criticised in his final report written warning of that potential criticism to give them an opportunity to respond to it. The statement also said comments on his letter were a 'misrepresentation' of the facts and that by their nature such letters were one-sided.

The mother of Ken Livingstone's eldest child has revealed how a man, believed to have been working for a newspaper, successfully 'blagged' confidential information about her salary, children's allowance and other payments from her bank. A six page transcript of the conversation has been published on the Leveson inquiry website, and reveals how the blagger fraudulently extracted private information about the woman from a Nat West bank employee. The blagger posed as an employee of the bank to talk to a 'colleague' about regular credits to her account, pretending that Janet Woolf, the mother of Livingstone's son Liam, had made two 'suspicious' applications for a mortgage. Woolf submitted the transcript to the Leveson inquiry in an effort to show the lengths with which a newspaper went to try to write about her and her child in 1999, when it was not public knowledge that Livingstone had a son. Woolf told the inquiry that she was given the transcript by 'a Nat West employee, who realised that the call was a blag and called me later, registering suspicion.' Using what appears to be inside knowledge of bank jargon, the impostor found out that Woolf had a loan request declined, what her monthly salary was, and what other credits were paid into her account in a six month period. Identified as 'Paul Williams', which is believed to be a pseudonym, the blagger also found out details of standing orders, other income and details relating to a Co-op bank account in Woolf's name. The blagger bluffed his way through the tricky moments in the conversation, such as when the NatWest employee tells him he will get Woolf's personal relationship manager to return his call. Williams replies he just wants to make a quick note of credits because of conflicting information in the mortgage applications. He is nearly caught out when the Nat West employee asks him which branch he is calling from. He bluffs 'Catford', raising suspicions. 'Well her address is in N17 which is in North London,' the Nat West employees says before asking Williams for his name and his branch telephone number. When asked what does he do at the branch, Williams brazenly says, 'I've already been grilled on the security procedure' and gives the employee the internal number for the branch, claiming he will be there all afternoon. The transcript will be a must-read for anyone who raised concerns about blagging of confidential information at the Leveson inquiry including phone-hacking victims, some of whom also had information about their lives 'blagged.' In an accompanying letter to the inquiry, Woolf said that she had not made the mortgage application and that the same man had later phoned her at her place of work to ask her about it. 'I soon realised that this man was an impostor and when I asked for his mobile number he hung up,' she said. She also told the Leveson inquiry that she suffered 'press intrusion' and 'harassment' at the time and got an 'inadequate response' from the Press Complaints Commission.

English Premier League clubs' spending on players reached almost five hundred million smackers during the summer transfer window, which closed on Friday. Analysts Deloitte's sport business unit said that the total spent was four hundred and ninety million quid, just short of the record of 2008. This was marginally up from the four hundred and eighty five million knicker spent in summer 2011. And, you thought there was a recession on, dear blog reader? Major moves this summer included Robin van Persie's twenty four million notes switch from The Arse to The Scum and Moscow Chelski's purchase of Eden Hazard for thirty two million smackers. Deloitte said one hundred and ten million wonga was spent on Friday's transfer deadline day alone, up from a hundred million smackers last year. This included Sheikh Yer Man City buying midfielder Javi Garcia for sixteen million quid, Southampton signing winger Gaston Ramirez for an estimated twelve million smackers and Stottingtot Hotshots's £11.8m capture of French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Five clubs - Moscow Chelski, Stottingtot Hotshots, Sheikh Yer Man City, The Scum and The Arse - spent in excess of thirty million quid each over the summer. Newly promoted Southampton, back in the Premier League just three years after going into administration, are estimated to have spent just short of thirty million. About three hundred million quid of the total spend went to clubs abroad, and fifty million of it to those in the Football League. Dan Jones, partner at Deloitte Sports Business Group, said: 'While the highest levels of spending continue to be at those clubs competing at the upper end of the Premier League and in European competition, we have also seen significant investment by the newly promoted teams looking to establish themselves in the Premier League.' He said that the key challenge for Premier League clubs remained how to manage costs - notably transfer expenditure and players' wages. Top teams hoping to play in European competition also needed to pay attention to UEFA's financial fair play regulations, requiring clubs not to spend more then they have earned, he added. Deloitte said Premier League clubs would be even better off when new television deals kicked in next season. Meanwhile, a UK accountancy firm said the continued big spending from Premier League clubs showed the league was 'isolated' from any fears surrounding the Euro currency, unlike many of its European counterparts. 'All of the domestic broadcast deals are done in pounds and they far outweigh the overseas deals, so that is a good buffer against any Euro crash,' said Pete Hackleton, of the sports and entertainment team at firm Saffery Champness.

In Friday's Europa League Group Stage draw, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United were paired with Bordeaux, FC Brugge and Maritimo. On the face of it that's a fabulous set of fixtures for both the team and their supporters, avoiding the ordeal of lengthy expeditions to the likes of Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Italy, Slovenia, Cyprus, Israel and Azerbaijan and getting the chance to visit some really nice cities. United's first group game sees them travel to the beautiful island of Madeira to face Maritimo before two home games against Bordeaux and Brugge. It's off to Belgium next for the away game before a final home game against Maritimo. The last group game is in France in December against Bordeaux. Bordeaux qualified by virtue of finishing fifth in the French League last season and currently sit fourth in this season's competition with two wins and a draw from their opening trio of fixtures. An aggregate 3-2 win over Red Star Belgrade saw them progress from the Fourth Qualifying Round. Their Stade Chaban Delmas holds over thirty four thousand and they follow in the footsteps of French sides like SC Bastia, Metz, Monaco, Troyes, Olympique Marseille and Sochaux in facing United in European competition. A club with a great tradition, FC Brugge finished second in the Belgian League last season and after five games of the current campaign are top of the table. They also entered the Europa League at the Fourth Qualifying Round and recorded an aggregate 7-1 victory over Hungarian side Debrecen. They share the twenty nine thousand capacity Jan Breydel Stadium with city rivals Cercle and become the fifth Belgian side that United have met competitively after Anderlecht, Royal Antwerp, Sporting Lokeren and Zulte Waragem. Maritimo play in the capital city of Funchal on the island of Madeira and finished fifth last season in the Portuguese League, entitling them to enter the Europa League at the Third Qualifying Round stage. Squeezing past the Greek side Asteras Tripolis thanks to an away goal after a 1-1 aggregate scoreline, Maritimo then made it through to the Group Stage as a result of beating Georgian side Dilas 3-0 over two legs. Sitting sixth in their domestic league after two games, CS play at the eight thousand capacity Estadio Do Barreiros. They become the fourth side from their league that Newcastle played, following previous encounters with Sporting Lisbon (twice), Vitoria Setubal and FC Porto. United have visited Martitimo before - albeit in a friendly match - with Chris Waddle's goal handing them a 1-0 win in August 1982. Clubs are split into twelve groups of four teams, playing home and away against each of their pool opponents between September and December. Two sides from each section advance to the round of thirty two alongside eight third-placed teams from the Champions League group stages. Europa League coverage is shared between ITV (who tend to use ITV4) and ESPN, although there is scope for other broadcasters to buy the rights on a game by game basis. Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws find themselves in Group A along with Udrinese, Young Boys of Berne and the Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala. Athletico Madrid are in group B, Borussia Mönchengladbach in Group D, PSV Eindhoven in Group F and Inter Milan in Group H. Stottingtot Hotshots final themselves in Group J alongside Panathinaikos, Lazio and Solvenian club.

Paralympic poster girl Ellie Simmonds capped a golden Saturday for Britain's paralympians as she smashed the world record on her way to four hundred metres glory. Ellie, still just seventeen, who suffers from dwarfism, pipped rival Victoria Arlen to the gold in a thrilling race. It topped a Super Saturday for the British Paralympic team as records tumbled and five golds were won – making it Britain's most ­successful day in the history of the games. Ellie trailed Arlen for most of their eight-length freestyle race – but began to claw back the ­American's lead in the last hundred metres. Then, to the roar of the seventeen thousand-strong Aquatics Centre, crowd she raced ahead to scoop her third individual gold. Her world record-breaking time of five minutes and twenty four seconds shaved five seconds off the previous record, set by Arlen earlier this year. Afterwards she paid an emotional tribute to the crowd for helping her to victory. A-level student Ellie said: 'The crowd were incredible. Leading out, I had one headphone in and the other one out so I could hear the noise. It gave me definite home advantage. It gives you an extra buzz and you know they are all supporting you.' Heroic performances also saw a husband and wife crowned champions. Partially sighted Barney Storey and his wife Sarah – winning her second gold of the games – both triumphed in the cycling, Barney as part of the tandem team with Neil Fachie. There was also gold for ­equestrian star Natasha Baker – putting Britain on course to achieve the target of one hundred and three medals set before the games. Earlier, Richard Whitehead raced into the record books by smashing a world record and clinching gold. The double-amputee sent eighty thousand fans at the Olympic Stadium bananas as he won the two hundred metres final in an incredible time of 24.38 seconds. The thirty six-year-old, born with no legs below the knee, came in from sixth place with one hundred metres to go to win by a distance. It means he is the first athlete to hold the world's fastest times in both two hundred metres and Marathon races in the T42 category. After crossing the finish line, Whitehead – who walked on wooden legs as a child – jubilantly thrust his arms into the air in celebration. 'This is the second time I've set a world record. The first time was in front of two thousand people. This time it was in front of a stadium of eighty thousand people,' he said. He also dedicated his win to his friend Simon Mellows, who died recently. He added: 'I worked my arse off to be the best athlete I can be. I always think about things that are important to me – my great friend Simon Mellows who has passed away pulled me through. You have to push through barriers and go even further. It's about self-belief. I wanted to send a message to Team GB that this crowd is with you – they're not against you. I wanted to show people what kind of athlete I am, and what Paralympians are about.' Elsewhere Oscar Pistorius set a new world record in the men's T44 two hundred metres. The twenty five-year-old South African, who competed in the four hundred metres and four by four hundred relay at the Olympics, won his heat from lane eight in 21.30 seconds, beating the new mark of 21.88 set earlier in the night by Brazil's Alan Oliveira.

Hannah Cockroft decimated the field to win Great Britain's first gold of the Paralympics track and field competition in London's 2012 Olympic Stadium on Friday night. The wheelchair athlete from Halifax burst clear after sixty metres to take the T34 one hundred metres title in a new Paralympic record time of 18.05 seconds. 'I've been waiting four years for that,' said the twenty-year-old is also racing in the two hundred metres on Thursday. 'I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I crossed the finish line.' The athlete, who set a new one hundred metres world record of 17.60 in Switzerland this year, said that she was confident of living up to her billing as the odds-on favourite. 'Looking at the times in the heats and their personal bests, I was miles ahead of them and I knew deep down I could do it, but it's what happens on the day,' she added. 'It's a bit surreal when you're dreaming about if for so long and then it just kind of happens, in eighteen seconds. I was a bit nervous because a lot of people out there expected me to do that. I knew I could but you have to keep you feet on the ground.'

The chef de mission of the US Paralympic team has added her voice to the row over the lack of TV coverage of the games in the US, saying that it was 'disappointing' that American viewers were not able to see more live broadcasts. Aimee Mullins, a retired Paralympian, said: 'I don't know what the rationale was behind the decision, but we have a way to go. That disconnect between the US being a world leader in disability issues and the broadcast coverage in real time of the games is disappointing.' Her comments follow stinging criticism of the decision by the US host broadcaster, NBC, to only show four hour-long highlights packages of the Paralympics on its sports channel. Mullins said she was 'confident' US broadcasters would not be able to neglect the games in the future. 'The fact that not just the UK, but millions of people all over the world are watching this on some of their largest television stations – Australia, France, Germany – I think that the value of Paralympics broadcast rights are going to be something that NBC won't be able to ignore. Of course I would love for more live coverage while the games is happening, but I am less distressed about it than I was in past Paralympic years because the glory of the Internet means that people aren't being deterred by the fact that it's not on NBC – they're going to the Internet and watching it anyway.' Since retiring from sport, Mullins has worked as a model and actor and was recently made a L'Oréal Paris brand ambassador. She has also made a name for herself as a sharp commentator on disability issues in the US, which as recently as last year she would have described as being where 'race or gender was fifty or sixty years ago. When I watch Mad Men and I see the patronising attitudes to women that are so shocking for all of us to watch now, I feel that I've lived and seen the same evolution in this regard around disability.' Mullins was born without her outer shinbones and had both legs amputated below the knee; doctors said she might never walk. Instead she competed at top level of collegiate sport in the US and at the Atlanta Paralympics, in the two hundred metres, four hundred metres and long jump, wearing one of the first pairs of so-called Cheetah legs, the type now worn by Oscar Pistorius. 'I do feel that something has been happening in this last year, and I'm not saying this to be Pollyanna-like, but there's been a quantum leap,' Mullins said. She points to pop culture and new sophistication in prosthetics as the reason why US attitudes towards disability are beginning to improve. Pulling up her trousers to reveal her woven carbon-fibre legs, she said: 'If I'm running around New York with these legs on, children come up to me with questions like: "Where are the rocket boosters?" "Why can't you fly?" "When are you going to fix that?" It's been a paradigm shift in the last ten years. Before, if people wanted to be polite they didn't stare, they were afraid of what they didn't understand, they didn't want to sound rude, so they don't ask questions. It creates this horrible impasse of discomfort for everyone. I feel like that's really changed because of the role of aesthetics in all this gear.' The numbers of people returning with serious war injuries has also forced people to reconsider their attitudes. 'The veterans that are returning from Afghanistan and Iraq are the first generation of war veterans that, with their changed bodies, do not see themselves as "less than"; they do not expect to have a lesser-quality of life. I think a lot of that is to do with pop culture,' she said. 'These kids have grown up with Terminator and Robocop and Avatar and all these video games where rebuilding your body to better suit your environment is actually beneficial.' This shift has helped spark new interest in the Paralympics in the US. 'The advertisements in the US – saying they were proud sponsors of the US Olympic and Paralympic team – that was also new. Coca-Cola and Samsung haven't done patronising saccharine commercials about Paralympians; they're doing beautifully shot advertisements about amazing athletic feats. It is extraordinary to run four hundred metres in forty six seconds, it's extraordinary to do the back stroke without arms. I think that advertisers have understood that. The general population has.' Despite the controversy over NBC's coverage, she pointed out that there was more coverage this year than ever before. 'I don't want to detract from that by pointing out what is lacking.' Mullins said it was vital that people become more educated and open-minded about disability, not least because increased life expectancy meant it was something most people would encounter. 'At some point in every person's life you will need an assisted medical device – whether it's your glasses, your contacts, or as you age and you have a hip replacement or a knee replacement or a pacemaker. The prosthetic generation is all around us. People don't realise it, but it's going to be you, your parents, your child. But, that's okay because it's never been a better time for that to happen. The leaps in science technology are extraordinary and they are only speeding up.'

Veteran entertainer Max Bygraves has died in Australia, aged eighty nine. The comedian, actor and singer, whose catchphrase was 'I wanna tell you a story', died in his sleep at home in Hope Island, Queensland, on Friday. He had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He emigrated from Bournemouth to Australia in 2005. 'We have lost one of the best entertainers that Britain has ever produced,' his agent Johnny Mans said. 'His death is a great loss to the entertainment profession and a great loss to all of his friends in the industry. He was a friend to everyone, there were no airs and graces.' Born in Rotherhithe in 1922 as Walter William Bygraves, the former Family Fortunes presenter gained the nickname Max from his impersonations of the comedian Max Miller while serving in the RAF. After the war, Bygraves rose to fame as a variety entertainer, also writing and performing a string of hit comic songs. He performed on stage with Spike Milligan, Benny Hill, Harry Secombe and Frankie Howerd, and often appeared at the London Palladium in later years. Recalling a conversation with Howerd, he once said: 'Frankie read my palm and told me that I was going to be a millionaire and top of the bill one day. I thought he had got his wires crossed. Years later, he reminded me of it and used it to get a free lunch out of me.' Bygraves, whose career spanned five decades and made him a multi-millionaire, also went on to star in radio and television shows, and films, including Charlie Moon. He also bought the rights to a then-unknown virtually musical - Oliver! - from its creator Lionel Bart (reportedly for three hundred and fifty quid), which then went on to make him huge fortune after it was turned into a film in 1968. Bygraves was popular in the US, where he performed with Judy Garland at the Palace Theatre on Broadway during a tour in the 1950s. He was awarded an OBE in 1983, describing himself as 'just an ordinary cockney bloke who made it.' He married Blossom Murray in 1942 and had three children. She died last year. With an act that relied to a large extent on sentiment and nostalgia as much as talent and timing, Bygraves was a family favourite, bringing music hall tradition to his audiences. Bygraves' poverty-stricken background provided him with many an anecdote. The son of an East End boxer, Max grew up in a two-room council flat with his parents, one grandparent and five siblings. Money was virtually non-existent, so the boy who became one of Britain's highest-paid entertainers left school at fourteen. He went to the Savoy Hotel in London to work as a pageboy, but they threw him out for being too tall. Working as a builder at the outbreak of World War II, he once came within one hundred yards of a bomb explosion. He later joined the RAF and on his very first night of service, his impersonation of the popular comedian Max Miller gave him his enduring nickname. His singing and dancing act made him much in demand, and it was during this time that he first met his wife, Blossom. He made his name in the radio show Educating Archie, which he wrote with his friend Eric Sykes. In this, he gave audiences his first catchphrases 'good idea, son!' and 'big'ead!' Relaxed and cosy on stage, his professionalism carried him through twenty Royal Variety Performances, but also extended to his business sense. As well as his own musical royalties, he was into buying up song rights years before Paul McCartney made it fashionable. He often did so on a whim when he spotted a tune he liked reasoning that, if he liked it, chances are other people would too. He retreated to his eight four-acre Australian property every winter and drove a Rolls Royce with the licence plate MB1. Mercedes-Benz offered him fifteen grand for the registration - but Max refused to part with it. He delved into serious drama in the 1960s, appearing in the films Cry from the Streets and Spare the Rod and television quiz shows in the 1980s with two series of Family Fortunes. But Bygraves always belonged in the music hall and it was the Variety Club of Great Britain that honoured his seventieth birthday with a celebratory lunch. With his old-fashioned act, Bygraves inspired as much ridicule as affection among modern audiences. But he defied constant changes in entertainment to remain one of Britain's best loved entertainers for more than six decades in showbusiness.

The songwriter Hal David, who wrote dozens of hits with collaborator Burt Bacharach, has died at the age of ninety one. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers said that Hal had died in Los Angeles from complications following a stroke. He had a lengthy career writing lyrics to go with Bacharach's tunes. The pair wrote a string of hits for Dionne Warwick, including 'Walk On By', and co-wrote songs for films including Alfie and Casino Royale. His wife, Eunice David, told The Associated Press news agency that Hal had suffered a major stroke in March and was stricken again on Tuesday. 'Even at the end, Hal always had a song in his head,' she said. 'He was always writing notes, or asking me to take a note down, so he wouldn't forget a lyric.' Hal was born in New York in 1921. He is credited with popular music lyrics, beginning in the 1940s with material written for bandleader Sammy Kaye and for Guy Lombardo. He worked with Morty Nevins on four songs for the feature film Two Gals and a Guy (1951). In 1957, Hal met Burt Bacharach at Famous Music in the Brill Building in New York. The two teamed up and wrote their first hit 'The Story of My Life', recorded by Marty Robbins in 1957. Later that year Perry Como had a hit with their 'Magic Moments'. Subsequently, in the 1960s and early 1970s Bacharach and David wrote some of the most enduring songs in American popular music, many for Dionne Warwick but also for The Carpenters, Dusty Springfield, BJ Thomas, Gene Pitney, Tom Jones, Aretha Franklin, Bobbie Gentry, Jackie DeShannon, Cilla Black and others. Bacharach and David hits included 'This Guy's in Love with You,' 'I'll Never Fall in Love Again', 'Do You Know the Way to San Jose?', 'Walk On By', 'What the World Needs Now Is Love', 'I Say a Little Prayer','(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me', 'One Less Bell to Answer', and, a particular favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping, 'Anyone Who Had a Heart'. The duo's film work includes the Oscar-nominated title songs for What's New Pussycat? and Alfie, 'The Look of Love', from Casino Royale and the Oscar-winning 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head' from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. David and Bacharach were awarded the 2011 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song bestowed by the Library of Congress, the first time a songwriting team was given the honour. Hal's work with other composers include Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias' 'To All the Girls I've Loved Before', with Albert Hammond, Sarah Vaughan's 'Broken Hearted Melody', with Sherman Edwards, the 1962 Joanie Sommers hit 'Johnny Get Angry', also with Edwards and 'We Have All the Time in the World', written with the late John Barry and sung by Louis Armstrong for the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. With Paul Hampton, David co-wrote the country standard 'Sea of Heartbreak', a hit for Don Gibson and others. Hal won two Oscars for his work on the soundtrack for the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, both awards shared with Bacharach.

So, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day we've got a choice between something from the Max Bygraves oeuvre, or one of Hal David's. No, actually, we haven't got a choice at all. Queue the strings, Mr Martin.