Friday, December 14, 2012

Rejected By Society, Treated With Impunity, Projected By My Dignity, I Search For Reality

Yer actual Masterchef: The Professionals has finished in a draw for the first time in the franchise's history. The final of the highly-rated cult cookery show was broadcast on Thursday on BBC2. The two judges, Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr and celebrity grocer Gregg Wallace his very self, were unable to choose between Keri Moss and Anton Piotrowski. Michel said: 'This has probably been one of the hardest, tightest finals that I have ever seen. It was just impossible to split them - their talents have been matched plate for plate for the past several challenges and it was truly impossible to award one the title over the other.' Gregg added: 'What an amazing final, I can't ever remember a decision this tight.' Moss said of the shared win: 'Joint winners is just fantastic, we've had a good run together, Anton is awesome.' Piotrowski agreed, saying: 'It's absolutely amazing; to share the title with someone that's so talented and so amazing is unreal. It's a good start to the rest of my life. It's mind blowing!' The two chefs were charged with creating a three-course meal for the judges in the kitchen of Heston Blumenthal's three-Michelin starred restaurant The Fat Duck. The Masterchef franchise has proved a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic, with the recent US adaptation beating America's Got Talent in the ratings.

Nearly four million punters watched the final of MasterChef: The Professionals on Thursday, gobbling up Lord Sugar-Sweetie's Young Apprentice on BBC1 in the process. MasterChef had an overnight audience of 3.8 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm on Thursday, including two hundred and seventy thousand on the BBC HD channel and peaked with over 4.5m as two winners were announced for the first time in the franchise's history. The BBC2 show beat the penultimate outing of BBC1's Young Apprentice, watched by 3.2 million viewers and Channel Four's thoroughly twee and nasty Kirstie's Vintage Home, which was left trailing with a risible 1.3 million viewers. The second episode of Channel Four's equally horrid Jamie & Jimmy's Food Fight rustled up 1.5 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm. But, despite featuring odious buffoon Jamie Oliver, it still did enough to beat the climax to the second series of BBC2 drama The Hour, which had 1.3 million viewers also between 9pm and 10m. The answer to whether we'll see a third series of the historical newsroom drama is, somewhat, blowing in the wind at the moment. ITV just edged the 9pm documentary face-off with BBC1, with Pensioners Behind Bars watched live by 3.43 with an additional three hundred thousand viewers of ITV+1. This beat BBC1's Britain's Hidden Housing Crisis, watched by 3.67 million viewers. US drama Blue Bloods returned for a third series to Sky Atlantic with one hundred and seventy one thousand viewers between 9pm and 10pm. This figure was more than double the slot average over the last three months. Elsewhere, the BBC4 documentary Timeshift: Wrestling's Golden Age - Grapples, Grunts and Grannies had eight hundred and sixteen thousand viewers.

David Harewood has claimed that there will be a death in the finale of Homeland's second season. The British actor, who plays David Estes in the show, said that there was a 'big finish' coming. 'It will all come out in the wash. There's a big finish. The last episode, there's a big twist. Someone is going to get it. Someone is going to get it. Who it's going to be, nobody knows,' Harewood said. Harewood, who joked that he was the 'most hated man in American television right now,' also insisted that he wouldn't be annoyed if he was the character killed off from the show. 'We have a saying on Homeland. "The story is king." If the story takes you that place, it takes you that place,' he said. 'I don't think anyone would be sad.' The Homeland finale - The Choice - is broadcast on Sunday night in the US on Showtime. The show's penultimate episode - In Memoriam [sic] - airs in the UK on Channel Four this weekend.

The BBC is reportedly keen to run archive comedy and drama, including black and white episodes of 1960s sitcom The Likely Lads, on BBC2 in the afternoon as part of a major overhaul of the daytime schedules on its two main TV networks. Both channels will launch revamped daytime schedules early next year, following the end of children's programmes such as Blue Peter and Newsround on BBC1 in the afternoons on 21 December. The changes are also driven by the Delivering Quality First budget cuts. The pre-school programming block on BBC2 from 6am to 11.30am is also ending, with children's programmes switching to the CBBC and CBeebies dedicated channels. Some children's shows will still be broadcast on BBC1 and BBC2 on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Liam Keelan, the BBC's controller of daytime, said negotiations are underway to run old black and white comedy and drama, with The Likely Lads, the 1960s comedy set in the North East and devised by Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais, as one of the targets. Well, at least, the episodes they still have left, with only eight of the twenty episodes made between 1964 and 1966 having survived the wiping purges of the early 70s. 'We are currently trawling the archives, it is one of the biggest jobs. We have the space to repeat old black and white series, and we are talking to Equity about it,' Keelan added. Changes to daytime schedules will be introduced from 2 January, with the full new BBC1 line-up in place from 7 January. The changes will include the long-running Cash in the Attic being dropped from BBC1, and BBC2's morning programming switching to a mix of World Service News, politics and current affairs repeats aimed at retired men. BBC2 will simulcast the BBC News channel until 9.30am, followed by repeats of news programmes such as Hard Talk and Click, plus Question Time and suitable Panoramas. The network will simulcast an hour of the BBC World News channel from 11am, leading into an expanded Daily Politics programme with Andrew Neil. BBC2 programmes at 1pm are still being decided, but the afternoons in January will be given over to more extended coverage of snooker, with bowls, darts and other minority sports that nobody watches also expected to find a home there. From 4pm, when live sport is not scheduled, BBC2 will broadcast series from the archive, kicking off in January with repeats of David Attenborough's natural history series, including Life on Earth, The Life of Plants and Blue Planet. These are expected to lead in to repeats of Antiques Road Show at 5.15pm. Popular BBC2 programmes currently scheduled at 3pm, including Antiques Road Trip, The Hairy Bikers and Perfection will switch to BBC1, which will have a daytime schedule largely catering for older people from 9.15am to 6pm. On BBC1 at 11am Cash in the Attic will be replaced with a range of shorter, more varied series. In January this will include Rip Off Holidays, You've Been Scammed, The Sheriffs Are Coming, Neighbourhood Blues, where local communities decide on policing priorities, and more Watchdog Daily. Plus a brand new game show Whose Pig Is This? '[BBC1 will broadcast] shorter runs, ten to fifteen episodes, rather than eighty orders for Cash in the Attic,' said Keelan. 'My goal is to craft a continuous schedule for adults. Daytime is more like a radio network, it does make sense to have it all on one channel. Daytime viewers are a loyal audience, if you catch them at 9.15 in the morning they are hooked, they tend to stay.' Bargain Hunt and Doctors and will remain in their existing slots either side of the BBC1 One C'Clock News, with Escape to the Country or drama at 2.15pm. Next month Privates, a five-part drama about the last year of national service, will go out in that early afternoon slot, while later in the year WPC Fifty Six, about a woman police officer in the 1950s, and an adaptation of GK Chesterton's Father Brown are being lined-up. BBC1 is expected to at least treble its audience share between 3.15pm and 5.15pm in the children's programming block, to ten per cent, but BBC2 is expected to lose audience share.

Lee Mack has revealed that he would be interested in making a movie version of Not Going Out. Although, who would be likely to actually go an d pay to see such a strange concept is something he didn't speculate about. The comedian also said that he intends to bring the BBC sitcom on tour as a live stage show production. 'We are very much talking about doing a live version of it,' he is quoted as saying in the Sun. 'It's just time and trying to juggle everything. I'm hoping to do something in the next two years.' He continued: 'I think it would work as a film. It's just pacing it differently and again, time. You can't write a movie of Not Going Out and tour it live and do a stand-up tour and have three kids. So I might have to get rid of the kids.' Not Going Out has been honoured by the Royal Television Society, while also winning a prestigious Rose d'Or. The show was launched in 2006 and almost cancelled after three series before later being renewed because the BBC couldn't find anything to replace it with. A sixth series will premiere in 2013. Mack added: 'It hasn't always felt like a success. The day before we did the pilot, there was a documentary on television called Who Killed The Sitcom? It was felt that it was sort of a has-been genre. We were largely ignored for the first couple of years and slightly seen as a dinosaur.' On a possible American remake, he said: 'I'd love it if anyone wanted to remake Not Going Out. I'd be very proud of that. I'd be pushing for me to play my character in America. Why not?'
TV presenter Jamie Theakston and Eimear Cook, former wife of golfer Colin Montgomerie, are among twenty two further phone-hacking victims who have settled their claims against Scum of the World publisher News International, the high court heard on Friday. The twenty two have been offered 'substantial damages' - and lots of love-er-lee wonga - in compensation for gross voicemail interception by News International's defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid, the court was told by Hugh Tomlinson QC representing phone-hacking litigants. Others who have settled their civil damages cases for invasion of privacy include Lisa Brash, the former girlfriend of the singer Robbie Williams, Jeff Brazier, the former partner of the deceased reality TV regular Jade Goody, Colin Stagg, who was wrongly accused of the murder of Rachel Nickell in 1992 and Gary Hersham, a Mayfair estate agent. The number of phone-hacking claims News International is facing has risen to one hundred and seventy one, with Brian Harvey and his ex-wife among the new litigants. Harvey, the ex-East 17 lead singer, and his former wife, Natasha Carnegie, have filed formal civil claims at the high court in London against News Group Newspapers, the News International subsidiary that used to publish the odious and disgusting Scum of the World, shut in shame and ignominy last year. Vos signed settlement orders in court for ten individuals and was told a further settlement order 'was in the pipeline' and ready to be signed by the judge for the criminal barrister Kirsty Brimelow. The remaining eleven were not named but will be next year when an agreed statement is read in open court along with a craven and grovelling apology from News International. Major David Brooks, the husband of Vos's niece, has also settled, the judge announced, as have three individuals not known to the public. News International is still facing at least one hundred and fifty civil claims and Tomlinson told the court that the Metropolitan police working on Operation Weeting, the phone-hacking investigation, were still contacting potential victims. In October the estranged son of yer actual convicted paedophile Gary Glitter, Paul Andrew Gadd, added his name to the list of people suing News International, along with the sports pundit Garth Crooks, former England footballer Kenny Sansom, and the former head of anti-doping for UK sports, Michele Verroken. One imagines that News Internationals' lawyers will be particularly keen that the case of Crooks doesn't come to court since, if the former Stoke City and Stottingtot Hotshots striker and current BBC pundit should be asked a question, it's debatable whether anyone else will get a word in edge-ways for days. Others pursuing claims against News International include Cherie Blair, Wayne Rooney and Louise Woodward, the British nanny convicted of manslaughter of a child in the US when she was nineteen. Not all of those who allegedly had their phones hacked will seek damages – at least three hundred names have been made public and some, such as Angelina Jolie and Prince Charles, are thought to be unlikely to make claims. Vos was presiding over the twelfth case management conference for the second wave of civil litigation taken against News International over various alleged naughty illegal badness and doings. He is still aiming to hear half-a-dozen lead cases next June with a view to setting down a tariff for damages payable to anyone who comes forward with a claim.

The BBC should be bolder and more creative with its depiction of lesbian, gay and bisexual people who are still sidelined and stereotyped on television, according to a new report. The BBC-commissioned review said that lesbian, gay and bisexual people were 'still relatively invisible' across all media, 'especially lesbian women and bisexual people.' Where they were represented in the broadcast media, said the report, 'this representation still needs to reflect the diversity of LGB people and to avoid stereotypes.' It called on the BBC to feature more LGB people across its television output, in particular in children's programming and in sport, and to be more nuanced in its coverage of LGB issues in BBC News. The report, into the media portrayal of LGB audiences, featured interviews with LGB organisations and representatives and comes two years after a 2010 study carried out by the BBC. In two parts, the report also featured the views of around three thousand five hundred people on the BBC's own independently run audience reaction panel, Pulse. Doctor Who, Downton Abbey and Holby City were among the dramas praised by the report for their inclusion of LGB characters. 'Doctor Who quite often has a gay character in it but it isn't always an issue or the plotline,' said anti-hate crime charity Galop. 'It's just incidental which has been quite nice.' But there was criticism of another BBC drama, Lip Service, about a group of lesbians living in Glasgow which was broadcast on BBC3. The actors trade union Equity said: 'Lip Service is written by a lesbian/bisexual woman. This makes a huge difference. However, the episodes were directed by men and the majority of the lesbian characters were played by heterosexual actors and this clearly impacts on the quality and integrity of the representation. Some of it was laughable.' The BBC was praised for high-profile LGB presenters, such as Clare Balding, Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw and Sue Perkins, presenter of BBC2's The Great British Bake-Off. Coverage of LGB issues on TV news programmes, including the BBC, was criticised for giving 'too much time to homophobic viewpoints' as part of an effort to make discussion of issues 'unnecessarily and deliberately confrontational. The LGB expert participants feel that the BBC should be more creative and bolder in how it represents LGB people across the range of genres and platforms,' said the report. 'Concerns were raised by the LGB experts that the findings and the intentions of the 2010 research have not been effectively communicated or shared with the creative community, particularly independent producers,' it added. 'There was also a sense that the BBC did not explicitly commit to changes as much as it could have following the [2010] research findings.' While all broadcasters had responsibility to reflect the diversity of their audiences, the report said the BBC had an 'extra obligation' because of its role as a stand-bearer and to push the boundaries for the whole industry. It said there had been a 'gradual degree of improvement' in the portrayal of LGB people over the last ten years. However, 'there is a sense that representation is still so unusual that it stands out when it is included and that LGB people are still relatively invisible, especially lesbian women and bisexual people.' LGB people were more likely to be featured on radio than television, it said, with online a missed opportunity. 'Within the limited amount of LGB portrayal that the LGB experts felt there to be, it was noted that the majority was the portrayal of gay men, particularly within drama,' the report added. 'They felt there is little portrayal of lesbian women, and hardly any representation of bisexual people. In addition, where there is LGB portrayal, there is a feeling that it tends to be skewed toward younger, white and non-disabled LGB people.' The BBC was also tasked with reconsidering the way it constructed news and current affairs debates. The report said it should be 'more creative and nuanced' with its presentation rather than setting up a debate with 'two extreme perspectives.' Drama makers were encouraged to be 'bolder' and comedy producers warned that the 'biggest risk [was] the portrayal of LGB people being the focus of the joke. If the author or source of the humour is LGB, this is felt to be more authentic or appropriate and so there is more acceptance.' The BBC was also asked to incorporate more LGB people into its children programming, 'to familiarise audiences through incidental portrayal from an early age as well as validating children who are going through their formative years and who may be LGB.' The report also said there were 'missed opportunities' in sport, 'particularly given the availability of expert and relevant LGB talent, for example in women's sport.' The BBC's acting director general Tim Davie, chairman of the BBC working group which commissioned the review, said: 'The BBC has a fundamental obligation to serve all its audiences. In fact, it's one of the BBC's public purposes to reflect the diversity of UK life. I'm proud to have led this work for three years, and this review underlines our commitment and sets a direction for the work to continue.'

Lord McAlpine is set for a high court battle with Sally Bercow after she refused to back down in the face of a legal challenge from the former Tory peer over an allegedly libellous tweet. McAlpine demanded fifty thousand quid damages and an apology from Bercow after her Twitter post which - he claimed - linked him with allegations of child sex abuse. Now the Commons Speaker's wife has instructed the media law firm Carter-Ruck to vigorously defend her after McAlpine filed a formal libel claim at the high court in London. Lawyers for the ex-Tory party treasurer filed a formal claim on 7 December after weeks of attempting to settle with Bercow out of court. Bercow has consistently denied that her tweet on 4 November – 'Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*' – was defamatory. But the formal filing of McAlpine's libel claim is the first sign that the dispute could result in a trial at the high court. Bercow tweeted to her fifty six thousand followers: 'Final on McAlpine: Am VERY sorry for inadvertently fanning flames. But I tweet as me, forgetting that to some of u [sic] I am Mrs bloody Speaker.' She temporarily deleted her Twitter account after the uproar. Lawyers for McAlpine have previously said he would target twenty 'high-profile tweeters' over the defamatory allegations, which were made on various social networks following a Newsnight report that suggested an - unnamed - Tory party grandee had been linked to child sex claims. The BBC and ITV have both agreed to pay McAlpine damages plus legal costs.

Charlie Brooker has revealed the first details about the second series of his dark comedy Black Mirror. Speaking at the British Comedy Awards, the critic and writer confirmed that the next three episodes would be full of 'all sorts of unpleasant things' and that the show would be broadcast 'early next year. Like the last series we've done three stories that are three different genres,' said Brooker. 'Last year we had a political thriller to do with pig fucking, and we have an Orwellian nightmare and a kitchen sink drama.' Revealing details on the second series, he said: 'This time we have a story that is a "what if?" scenario. What if, you died and your Twitter feed and Facebook statuses carried on going. What if there was some software that emulated what your personality was like. We've also got all sorts of unpleasant things and also one of them is very sad. That's a new thing.' Brooker will have a busy 2013 as he also has a new weekly Wipe series coming on the BBC and two more series of his Sky1 spoof crime drama A Touch of Cloth.

Rebecca Front has said that she is still optimistic that The Thick of It hasn't ended for good. The political satire, created by Armando Iannucci, ended its fourth series earlier this year. Front, who played Nicola Murray in the show, said that she was 'still badgering' Iannucci to make some more specials for the show. 'I will always ask Armando to make more and I'll keep asking him, but he is very busy with Veep at the moment,' she said. 'However, he was very clever in the way he said that the show was ending. He said that there wouldn't be another "series." The word "series" is key there. I'd love to do another special in the future.' Speaking about the show's ending earlier this year, Iannucci said: 'It's definitely the last series.' Meanwhile, writer Sean Gray said: 'It's a shame to stop, but it also makes sense because hopefully we haven't outstayed our welcome.'

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has opened an inquiry into expense claims by the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Miller. Labour MP John Mann submitted a complaint about her claims on Tuesday. It follows reports that the vile and odious rascal Miller had allowed her parents to live in a property on which she claimed over ninety thousand quid in second home allowances during the last parliament. The vile and odious rascal Miller has said her expenses were 'absolutely in order' and 'in complete accordance with the rules.' A Daily Torygraph report said that the vile and odious rascal Miller had been claiming expenses for her second home in South London while her parents were living there, with her 'main home' located in her Basingstoke constituency. Her parents, John and June Lewis, have apparently been living at the property since selling their home in Wales in 1996. Following the report, Mann wrote to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, John Lyon, saying the arrangement was 'identical' to that which meant former Labour minister Tony McNulty was required to pay back more than thirteen grand in expenses in 2009. The commissioner ruled that McNulty had 'effectively subsidised' his parent's living costs from the public purse. A spokesman for the vile and odious rascal Miller said her 'expenses have been audited twice and found to be wholly proper and above board. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply untrue,' he claimed, adding that the minister would 'fully co-operate' with the inquiry. Which is big of her since she's required by law to 'fully co-operate' with it. During exchanges on future business in the Commons, Labour's Angela Eagle raised a follow-up report in the Daily Torygraph, which suggested that an aide to the vile and odious rascal Miller had called the journalist working on the expenses story to 'flag up' the lack of culture secretary's involvement in on-going negotiations on the future of press regulation. The Daily Torygraph has also reported that Downing Street communications chief Craig Oliver mentioned press regulation in a telephone call to the Torygraph's editor concerning the expenses story. Eagle, the shadow Commons leader, said: 'The government seems to want to threaten the press with statutory underpinning to control the news agenda.' Denying any allegation of impropriety, the prime minister's spokesman has said: 'The secretary of state had some concerns about the way that investigation was conducted. She set those out in a letter to the editor. Craig Oliver was simply reflecting those concerns.' Yes. of course he was. One or two people even believe you. A representative of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport added: 'Mrs Miller's special adviser raised concerns with a journalist about the nature of an approach to Mrs Miller's elderly father. Her adviser noted that Mrs Miller was in contact with the paper's editor and would raise her concerns directly with him, which Mrs Miller did subsequently.' The representative claimed - unconvincingly - that there was 'no link' between this intervention and discussions over the future of press regulation.

Glenn Workman, the father of Modern Family actress Ariel Winter, will have temporary control of her estate, a Los Angeles court has ordered. The actress's family have been fighting for custody of the fourteen-year-old, after her mother was accused of physically and emotionally abusing her. Ariel's older sister, Shanelle Gray, was given emergency custody of Ariel in October. The temporary arrangements will remain in place until another court hearing in March and could be made permanent. Ariel plays the brainy daughter Alex Dunphy in the Emmy-winning comedy in America. She has been acting since the age of seven, with appearances in shows like ER, Bones and Monk and the film Ice Age: The Meltdown. Shanelle Gray, thirty four, claims that she suffered similar abuse to her younger sister at the hands of their mother when she was young. Chrisoula Workman denies the accusations and claims Ariel is 'a rebellious teenager' who should be returned home. Workman has handed over dozens of witness statements from friends, neighbours and stylists(!) which say they have never seen her abuse Ariel. An initial report by child protection investigators last month found some evidence of emotional abuse towards the actress, but claims of physical abuse were deemed 'inconclusive.' A judge at an earlier hearing was also told how staff on the Modern Family set had expressed concern about Chrisoula Workman's behaviour and Ariel's well-being.

The US has implemented a law to limit the volume of TV adverts, to play at the same level as the main programme. The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act applies to broadcasters, and cable and satellite companies. Previously, adverts could play at a higher volume level than the programmes they were being shown in the middle of. The rules were taken up by the Federal Communications Commission a year ago but the industry had a one-year grace period to prepare for them. Correspondents say that the rules are meant to 'protect viewers' from excessively loud adverts, which can 'seem intrusive.' The FCC suggests that enforcement of the new rules will be 'driven by complaints,' and viewers can report suspected violations of the rules on their website. The Calm Act applies only to TV adverts, and not radio programmes or shows on the Internet. The bill was sponsored by California congresswoman Anna Eshoo, who told the Wall Street Journal in 2010 that it was' one of the most popular pieces of legislation' she had introduced in her eighteen years in Congress. 'If I'd saved fifty million children from some malady, people would not have the interest that they have in this,' Eshoo told the newspaper at the time. Championed by Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, it was approved unanimously in the upper chamber. President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law on 15 December 2010.

Life at media regulator Ofcom is not known for hitting eleven on the old excitement glonthometer, reports the Torygraph. However the mild-mannered boffins at the government Quango, elected by no one, got called on to do a Sherlock-type job when officers at Downview Prison could not find who was taking over their internal radio service and broadcasting surreptitious messages. Ofcom duly watched an episode of CSI and discovered how to triangulate a signal, or something, and found the naughty culprit. The airwave bandit, who told the court he did it because he was 'feeling lonely,' broadcast messages about topics such as whether Muslim inmates should be made to eat bacon and made several references to escaping. He's now been given his own show on ITV.

The former BBC newsreader Kenneth Kendall has died at the age of eighty eight. The one-time presenter of the popular UK game show Treasure Hunt suffered a stroke a few weeks ago and died peacefully in his sleep, his agent confirmed. He joined the BBC as a radio announcer, later moving to television where he presented the Nine O'Clock News. He also featured in the Doctor Who serial The War Machines playing himself and had a similar cameo role as a newsreader in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The first newsreader to appear in vision on BBC television in 1955, Kendall also worked occasionally for ITN in the 1960s. He was voted the most popular newscaster by Daily Mirra readers in 1979. Recognised for his elegant sense of style, he received an award for best-dressed newsreader by Style International.

Kate Harwood will take charge of EastEnders, Holby City and Casualty as part of a shake-up of the BBC's in-house drama department following the exit of John Yorke. Harwood, currently the BBC's controller, series and serials, takes on the new role of head of drama, England, for BBC Production. The former EastEnders executive producer will be responsible for all in-house drama series and serials, reporting to BBC Production chief creative officer, Pat Younge. Friday's appointment of Harwood follows Yorke's exit earlier this year to head up Company Pictures, the production company behind Shameless and Skins. He was one of two high-profile BBC drama departures, with director of UK drama production Nicholas Brown leaving to join Sam Mendes's independent production company, Neal Street. Harwood will work alongside the drama heads in Scotland, Christopher Aird, and Wales, Faith Penhale. Younge said: 'Losing Nick Brown and John Yorke was a massive loss, but its given us a chance to review our structure and we've decided to devolve more creative accountability to Faith and Chris and expand Kate's portfolio. Each is an outstanding creative in their own right, and as a team they are unstoppable.'

A darts fan has been kicked out of a televised final for that most dreadful of hellish crimes, 'looking like Jesus.' One Nathan Grindal, thirty three, was watching the match between Phil 'The Power' Taylor and Kim 'I don't have a nickname' Huybrechts when other spectators noticed his resemblance to the Son of God. Some of these gormless berks then reportedly began to chant 'Jee-sus, Jee-sus' like a bunch of total numskulls, interrupting play at Butlins in Minehead. Security was called and six bouncers escorted the hapless Grindal out of the Cash Converters Players' Championship, which was being shown live on ITV4. To an audience of about six. Nathan was taken to the bar outside, where he was bought a pint and told to watch the rest of the match on the television. After the game had finished, he was even asked to pose for photographs with other darts spectators. He said: 'I didn't go to the darts dressed as Jesus - I went as me. It was all very weird and distressing. In his post-match interview, Phil Taylor said something like "If I ever see Jesus again, I'll crucify him myself." Now that's just hurtful.' Not to mention blasphemous, of course. Dave Allen from the Professional Darts Corporation said that Grindal was removed from the premises 'in order to prevent his presence becoming a nuisance' to the competitors. He said: 'There was a lot of chanting of "Jesus" and I think to avoid it becoming too much of a distraction for the players he was taken by security to another part of the complex.'

Leeds will host the start of the 2014 Tour De France, before the race heads to London for a stage finish. The North of England will host racing on 5 and 6 July before the Tour moves south for a third stage, finishing in London. The race last visited the UK in 2007, when London hosted a prologue ahead of a road stage from the capital to Canterbury. Yorkshire beat off the challenge of bids from Florence and Edinburgh to host the prestigious event. However, Edinburgh remains in the running to host the Grand Depart at a future date. It will be the fourth time the Tour has visited Britain after previous visits in 1974 and 1994. Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, hosted the 2010 Grand Depart, while the 2012 race started in Liege in Belgium and next year's one hundredth race will begin in Corsica. Full details of the route will be announced at a news conference in Leeds and Paris on 17 January. Leeds will host a festival of cycling and the arts to coincide with the arrival of the Tour. Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the agency behind the county's bid, said: 'Today is a proud day for everyone involved in the bid and the county as a whole. We are honoured that the race organisers have selected Yorkshire to be the host location of the 2014 Grand Depart. It will mean that, less than two years after hosting the Olympics, the British public can look forward to another of the world's biggest sporting events coming to the country. I am in no doubt they will come to Yorkshire in their millions, lining the length and breadth of the route to cheer on the champions of world cycling and our home grown British heroes.' Race director Christian Prudhomme added: 'Since the resounding success of the Grand Départ in London in 2007, we were very keen to return to the United Kingdom. Bradley Wiggins' historical victory last July and the enormous crowds that followed the cycling events in the streets of London during the Olympic Games encouraged us to go back earlier than we had initially planned.'

A man in China has created a pod which is designed to survive the end of the world. Liu Qiyuan - who is obviously not a complete and total nutter - claims that he came up with the design for the pod after watching the disaster movie 2012, which was inspired by the belief that the Mayan calendar, and therefore the world, will end on Friday 21 December. Liu believes that his pods, which he has nicknamed Noah's Ark, are the answer if you want to survive the end of the world. Made of glass fibre casing over a steel frame, they cost three hundred thousand yuan (about thirty grand) each, and are supplied with food and water supplies and oxygen tanks. The former furniture maker told Sky News: 'The pod won't have any problems even if there are one thousand-metre-high waves. It's like a ping-pong ball, its skin may be thin, but it can withstand a lot of pressure. The pods are designed to carry fourteen people at a time, but it's possible for thirty people to survive inside for at least two months. One of the pods features home comforts like a table, bed and flowery wallpaper. Liu added that 'a person could live for four months in the pod at the North or South Pole without freezing, or even feeling slightly cold.'

So, as noted on yesterday's blog, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self spent a vastly pleasant Thursday evening in the company of some good chums at Uncle Scunthorpe's second-to-last Record Player event of 2012. And, jolly chilled it all was too (something which the weather outside very much reflected) with a full playing of the mighty Exodus and yer actual Keith Telly Topping coming second in the quiz and blagging a prize of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's recently released 'Best Of' collection Frankie Said (mainly thanks, it must be noted, to the presence on his team of his good mate Christian who knows everything). Without a word of exaggeration, a thoroughly geezer night. Not just the record - though, that was splendiferous in and of itself - but the half-hour chat with Uncle Scunthorpe and some of the regulars at the end throwing in suggestions for the next (couple of) seasons of TRP. Highlights for the next batch of events - scheduled to kick-off in mid-January, include Thriller, Unknown Pleasures versus Sound Affects, The White Album, Trans-Europe Express and, one double bill I've been pushing for for a long time, The Velvet Underground & Nico versus The Doors. A cool as an Eskimo bird's knockers, that.

So, for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, to continue the theme from yesterday, here's another one from the Wailers. And, a pretty accurate reflection of what last night was like.
Irie, irie. Respect.