Friday, January 11, 2013

From The Hundred Year War To The Crimea With A Lance And A Musket And A Roman Spear To All Of The Men Who Have Stood With No Fear In The Service Of The King

Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann and the crap one are to star together in a new Doctor Who audio drama. Big Finish will celebrate Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary in November with The Light At The End, a story which brings together the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors to avert a universal crisis. The Light At The End will also feature a gathering of popular Doctor Who companions, including Leela (Louise Jameson), Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), Peri (Nicola Bryant) and Ace (Sophie Aldred). Geoffrey Beevers is to reprise his role of The Master from the 1981 serial The Keeper of Traken as well. Yer actual Nick Briggs, writer of The Light At The End, said of the project: '[Big Finish] wanted to do a proper, fully-fledged multi-Doctor story for this very special occasion. It's wonderful that all the surviving Doctors threw themselves behind the project so enthusiastically. That's not to say the first three Doctors don't appear - we wanted to pay homage to the whole history of the classic series.'

The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine - in the shops this week - takes readers on an exclusive tour of the new TARDIS interior, and speaks to production designer Michael Pickwoad about his inspiration for the Doctor's home's makeover.
Special screenings at the BFI this year to celebrate Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary are proving to be a massive success, with the first two events selling out before the first one has even taken place. To mark the show's golden anniversary, BFI Southbank is showing one story per Doctor as well as digitally-restored prints of the two Dalek films starring Peter Cushing, with question-and-answer panels featuring special guests at each session. This coming Saturday sees a big-screen showing of 1963's An Unearthly Child to start the season, with the second event on the programme - a screening of 1967's The Tomb of the Cybermen - taking place on Saturday 9 February. However, in both instances BFI members, who are entitled to priority booking, have snapped up all the tickets for both shows ahead of them going on sale to the general public. Despite the overwhelming popularity of the events, there are no plans for any extra screenings. BFI Programmer Justin Johnson said: 'We're delighted and a little overwhelmed at the scale of demand for the BFI's Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary events. They were designed to be twelve one-off events so we won't be replicating them. However, BFI Live will be filming the introductions and appearances by special guests, which means that they will be available on our website for anyone to enjoy long after the event.' The guests at this Saturday's screening will be the Unearthly Child herself, Carole Ann Ford, director Waris Hussein, actors William Russell and Jeremy Young and Donald Tosh (the only surviving script editor from the William Hartnell era). Also scheduled to appear are Brian Hodgson of the Radiophonic Workshop, vision mixer Clive Doig, Jessica Carney (William Hartnell's granddaughter and biographer) and Mark Gatiss, who is writing a BBC docudrama about the show's genesis, called An Adventure In Space And Time, which will début at the BFI in November. The guest line-up for the screening of The Tomb of the Cybermen has yet to be announced. March will see the première of the colour-restored 1971 story The Mind of Evil ahead of its release on DVD. The remaining stories are still to be announced. Although, dear blog readers shouldn't have too much trouble guessing which Paul McGann story will be featured.

BT is expected to earmark billions of pounds over the next decade to spend on sports rights in a sustained attempt to challenge Sky, as the new broadcaster gears up to launch two sports channels in July. The telecom company, which laid down a marker when it spent seven hundred and thirty eight million smackers on thirty eight live Premier League matches per season last year, will consider launching bids for a host of other major football properties including the FA Cup, Champions League and England internationals as they become available. It will also target other sports, having already signed a one hundred and fifty two million quid club rugby deal which has caused major ructions within the game. But executives are also acutely aware that the arrival of BT in the market has fuelled rights inflation and are determined not to overpay. With Sky also cutting back on some rights to pay for its increased investment of £2.3bn in Premier League football, the new competitive landscape will not be good news for all sports. This week BT will announce that it has signed a four-year deal with the Women's Tennis Association to screen eight hundred hours of live tennis a year – the first in a new spate of deals to fill its schedules. It hopes to capitalise on the increased appeal of the British players Heather Watson and Laura Robson on the back of results that have catapulted them into the world's top fifty. Simon Green, the head of BT Sport, said that the WTA deal would be the first of several to try to give more exposure to women's sport. The London Olympics was seen as something of a watershed in raising the profile of female athletes. 'This is our first women's sport for the channels and we see a genuine opportunity to really develop the exposure for women's sport with our new channels. We are focusing on several more women's sports and we hope to be able to announce more rights soon,' said Green. In addition to its domestic rugby rights, BT is awaiting the outcome of a dispute between European Rugby Cup and Premiership Rugby over the future shape of European competition. It has also signed deals to show Italian, Brazilian, French and US club football and is convinced all can be packaged and marketed more attractively than they are at present. ESPN, which is considering its options in the UK after the Premier League auction left it without any live top-flight football, could do a deal with BT to allow it to buy out the final year of its FA Cup contract if it decides to close its UK channel in the summer. More FA Cup rights and the live rights to England games home and away, currently held by ITV, will become available at the end of next season. Under a new centralised system UEFA will sell the rights to European Championships and World Cup qualifiers on behalf of the FA. ITV and BSkyB have the rights to live Champions League football tied up until the end of the 2014–2015 season but BT Sport is also likely to bid for those when they become available. Although Sky has responded to the emergence of a genuine threat to its dominance of sports broadcasting by securing the rights to sports such as cricket until the end of the decade, there is a belief at BT that enough opportunities remain to make a success of its new high-profile launch. While the short-term focus is on launching two new sports channels from scratch in new studios based on the Olympic Park, executives are expected to then begin mapping out a strategy for the next round of Premier League rights auctions and beyond. The new sports channels will be made available to Sky viewers but will also be aggressively marketed to existing BT customers, with deals for those who also subscribe to its telephone, broadband and television services. Having recently signed a ten-year lease on the studios in the former International Broadcasting Centre at the Olympic Park and a long-term contract with Sunset+Vine to produce coverage of its thirty eight top-flight football matches and sixty nine live Aviva Premiership rugby games per season, BT has reiterated its long-term commitment to the project. BT's business produces £2.2bn of free cash flow per a year and, in addition to investing in the nationwide roll-out of its BT Infinity high speed broadband network and YouView TV service, a significant portion of that will be invested in the BT Sport offering. Marc Watson, the BT Vision chief executive, told the Gruniad Morning Star that the launch of BT Sport was part of 'a broader strategy' to bring in revenue from its 'triple play' proposition. 'Ultimately we'll have three very strong brands in the marketplace – BT Sport [the sports channels], BT YouView including BT Vision [the television service) and BT Infinity [superfast broadband]. The strategy is to get behind these products and grow the business,' he said. 'We've got a job to do to create BT Sport as a credible brand in the marketplace. That won't happen overnight but, if you've got the top matches, that helps.' The chairman of the production company which will oversee live output for BT Sport, which has signed up Jake Humphrey as its main anchor and will shortly unveil another major signing, said it was determined to differentiate itself from rivals. The Sunset+Vine chairman, Jeff Foulser, said it would 'look at things a bit differently and be a bit adventurous.'

Andrew Marr is conscious and 'continuing to progress' as he recovers in hospital after a stroke, the BBC has said. The fifty three-year-old journalist and television presenter, who was taken ill on Tuesday, is 'responding to medication,' a spokesman added. 'He and his family are touched by all the warm wishes and support.' The Andrew Marr Show and Radio 4's Start The Week, will be broadcast with guest presenters in his absence. The BBC said that James Landale will present The Andrew Marr Show this Sunday. Many of Marr's colleagues have expressed support on Twitter. Responding to the latest announcement, Nick Robinson, the BBC's current political editor and Marr's successor, tweeted: 'Excellent news that Andy Marr is conscious and continuing to make progress after his stroke. All thoughts with him, Jackie and his family.'

Britney Spears is leaving The X Factor USA judging panel after just one season, according to reports. Alleged 'sources' have allegedly given 'various explanations' for the singer's departure, claiming that she was sacked, had quit, or simply wanted 'time to record a new CD.' While it has yet to be officially announced, separate alleged 'sources' allegedly confirmed Spears' departure to Reuters, the Hollywood Reporter, TV Guide, TMZ and People magazine. Although People's alleged 'insider' allegedly said, 'She wants to concentrate on her music,' other reports alleged that, after the disappointing 2012 season, Spears wasn't going to be asked back. Spears joined The X Factor USA last April, signing a record-breaking fifteen million dollar deal. At the time, it was seen as a win-win arrangement: the singer would get a chance to resuscitate her flagging career and The X Factor's flagging ratings would get a boost from one of pop music's most well-known stars. But despite the best efforts of Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads and series winner Tate Stevens, the show's second season failed to beat its principal rival, The Voice. Earlier this week, FOX chairman Kevin Reilly defended Spears' performance as a judge. 'I think Britney did a really good job,' he said at an event in Pasadena. 'Maybe some people were waiting for more drastic displays of some nature that never came, [but she's] an interesting figure who's lived a unique life, and I thought she brought some of that.' Another X Factor judge, music mogul LA Reid, has already said he will not return for the 2013 series. This leaves only two judges on the panel: Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads and teen sensation Demi Lovato.

The Met Office has hit back at apparently unsubstantiated tabloid claims that it 'conceded there is no evidence for global warming' and that its weather forecasts are 'inaccurate.' The forecaster has published a blog detailing an alleged 'series of factual inaccuracies about the Met Office and its science' made in a Daily Scum Mail article written by James Delingpole. What, the Daily Scum Mail talking a right load of old effing bollocks? Surely not, they're normally so thoughtful, balanced and accurate in their reportage. The blog provides a point by point rebuttal of the Scum Mail story, headlined The crazy climate change obsession that's made the Met Office a menace. The odious Delingpole writes that the Met Office 'failed to predict snow in 2010' and adds that the floods last November were 'forecast-defying.' The forecaster however states: 'Our five-day forecasts accurately forecast twelve out of thirteen snowfall events – as you can see in this article.' It goes on to note that the Press Complaints Commission has already addressed 'this fallacy' in dealing with a complaint against the Daily Torygraph in February 2012. As a result of the press watchdog's ruling the Torygraph published a 'clarification' which highlighted that 'the Met Office did warn the public of last winter's [2010-11] cold weather from early November 2010.' The Met Office also refutes Delingpole's claim that it had conceded that 'there is no evidence that "global warming" is happening.' 'In fact,' the Met Office states, 'we explicitly say this was not the case in an article, posted on the home page of our website and widely circulated, which was written in response to articles about updates to our decadal forecast. Professor Julia Slingo, Met Office chief scientist, has also provided a more in depth feature on "Decadal Forecasting – what is it and what does it tell us?"' Risible, wretched waste-of-space Delingpole is also thoroughly taken to task for claiming, wrongly, that the Met said Britain was 'experiencing more rain than at any time since records began' and for claiming that the Met said the past ten years have been 'the wettest decade ever.' Both of which the Met Officer never said or anything even remotely like it. He is also reprimanded for quoting David Whitehouse, a member of Lord Lawson's climate change sceptic group The Global Warming Policy Foundation, who said the Met 'thinks weather forecasting is beneath it.' The Met notes that 'the vast majority' of its contractual work for the public is weather forecasting. There was one solitary aspect of the sickening Delingpole's piece that the Met agreed with: his quote of Whitehouse saying that 'when it comes to four or five day weather forecasting, the Met Office is the best in the world.' This is not the first time that disgusting nasty louse Delingpole has been criticised for his coverage of climate issues. Last month he was rebuked by the Australian Press Council for a column in which he described an Australian renewable energy programme as a 'Ponzi scheme,' accused a law firm of 'gagging climate sceptics' and quoted an anonymous alleged 'source' who allegedly compared the wind-farm industry to 'a paedophile ring.' Delightful. Delingpole was further criticised for making claims about the health risks associated with wind farms, which the watchdog noted were contrary to 'extensive academic research' on the subject. However, the regulator decided that his claim did not meet the 'very high threshold' required to call it 'untenable.'

Amid vile and odious talk of strivers and skivers, the government has been forced to explain why a minister failed to turn up for a pre-arranged breakfast TV debate on the subject of apprenticeships. The answer appears to be that Matthew Hancock couldn't get out of bed in time. Oh, the irony. The thirty four-year-old West Suffolk MP and skills minister had agreed to appear on the ITV's flop breakfast fiasco Daybreak to defend the new traineeships scheme with activist Ian Pattison of Youth Fight for Jobs. At 6.30am on Thursday, Pattison was ready on the London studio sofa, but there was no sign of the minister. Programme staff said that on calling his home, they were informed he was 'still in bed.' Pattison had to carry on as the sole interviewee. 'Can you imagine my surprise when I discovered a minister whose government berates so-called "shirkers", couldn't be bothered to get out of bed to defend his own policy,' Pattison said afterwards. With some apparent relish. Can't say I blame him, mind. 'If the minister was a jobseeker, he could lose his benefits for up to three months for such an offence. Luckily, he doesn't have to worry about things like that. Hancock's traineeship scheme is the latest gimmick coming out of the Tories to disguise the fact they have failed to tackle the staggering problems of unemployment affecting young people.' Stung by Twitter revelations of his transgression, a clearly chastened Hancock, George Osborne's former chief of staff, said that he only 'just' failed to make the appointment. 'I was thirty seconds late for my interview at 6.40 this morning, so they wouldn't let me into the studio to make my case,' he said. Ah well, an inch is as good as mile to blind bat, is it not? As to past criticisms of those who would skive not strive: 'It proves the point. You've got to be on time for work or there are consequences. I'll learn from my own example.'

Astronomers have spotted the largest known spiral galaxy - by accident. A team was looking through data from the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (Galex) satellite for star-forming regions around a galaxy called NGC 6872. But they were shocked and stunned to see a vast swathe of ultraviolet light from young stars, indicating that the galaxy is actually big enough to accommodate five of our Milky Way galaxies within it. The find was reported at the American Astronomical Society meeting in the US. NGC 6872, a galaxy about two hundred and twelve million light-years away in the constellation Pavo, was already known to be among the largest spiral galaxies. Near it sits a lens-shaped or lenticular galaxy called IC 4970, which appears to have crashed through the spiral in recent astronomical times. Rafael Eufrasio of the Catholic University of America and Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center and colleagues from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil and the European Southern Observatory in Chile were interested in a number of regions away from the galaxy. 'I was not looking for the largest spiral - it just came as a gift,' Eufrasio told BBC News. Galex - a space telescope designed to search for the ultraviolet light that newly born stars put out - hinted that NGC 6872 was made much larger in size by the collision. The team went on to use data from a range of other telescopes including the Very Large Telescope, the Two Micron All-Sky Survey and the Spitzer space telescope - each of which sees in a particular set of colours, in turn evidencing stars of varying ages. They found the youngest stars in the outer reaches of the galaxy's enormous spiral arms, getting progressively older toward the centre. That suggests a wave of star formation that travelled down the arms, set off by the collision with IC 4970, with the newest stellar neighbourhoods pushing the galaxy into the top spot in terms of size. 'It's been known to be among the largest for two decades, but it's much larger than we thought,' explained Eufrasio. 'The galaxy that collided with the [central disc of NGC 6872] splashed stars all over the place - five hundred thousand light years away.' Besides being one for the record books, NGC 6872 updates the catalogue of known galaxy smash-ups, demonstrating how dramatically galaxies can be changed and added to by collisions. 'It shows the evolution of galaxies in the larger context of the Universe - how the large galaxies we had before were accreted from small clumps in the early Universe,' Eufrasio said. 'We're just seeing one example of two interacting galaxies but in the past that happened much more often - that's how the big [spiral galaxy] discs we have were probably formed. Putting that in a larger context, it's a very cool system.'

A kitten has been described as 'fortunate' to be alive after swallowing a TV aerial. The kitten, Alphine, required emergency surgery after swallowing a six-inch television antenna belonging to owner Vanesse Waite. Metro reports that the thirty six-year-old from Parson Cross, Sheffield 'heard a loud bang,' but assumed that her cat had 'fallen off the windowsill.' Waite continued: 'However, during the night he was being sick. It wasn't until later that I realised that one of the aerial antennas was missing from my TV.' Veterinary surgeon Liz Airey said the case was 'one of the most unusual' she had ever seen, saying: 'We did have a case a few years ago when a dog ate a tent peg, but it's very unusual for such a solid object to be swallowed in this way. It seems as though the kitten had been playing with the antenna and inadvertently swallowed it which is a very unusual accident. It's fortunate that he didn't swallow it the other way round, as the sharp broken end could have punctured his stomach and caused damage to his intestines which could have been fatal.' Still, at least you could get Channel Five on him.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day, here's a thing of rare and delicate beauty and grace from The Clash.